Monday, August 28, 2017

Fall thoughts: Crockpot Pumpkin Puree

Are you tired of hot weather? I know I am. In the Northwest, we don't do hot summers. The last two years hot is what we've gotten, like in the 90º. In order to cope, my mind drifts off to cool fall days and all the fall activities I love. Pumpkin pies and some moist pumpkin bread, oh my! I am always looking for quick or better ways of cooking, so stumbling across this idea was exciting to me. Using a crockpot to roast pumpkins sounded easy. Now once your pumpkins are ready, give this method a go. You won't be sorry.
  • 1 or 2 sugar pumpkins (3 to 5 pounds each)
  1. Wash the outside of the pumpkin with warm water and scrub off any dirt.
  2. Remove the stem and cut the pumpkin in half.
  3. Remove all the seeds and stringy parts inside the pumpkin (save the seeds if you roast them). Use a spoon to scrape the inside clean.
  4. Place the pumpkin halves skin side up in the Crock-Pot. Cut the pieces into smaller chunks if necessary.
  5. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or until fork tender (the pumpkin should be really soft).
  6. Allow the pumpkin to cool enough to handle and then scrape the flesh from the skin with a spoon.
  7. Mash the insides with a fork to remove lumps or puree it in a food processor or blender for a very smooth texture (I put mine in the food processor for a few minutes before jarring it).
  8. Store pumpkin puree in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
  9. Use the fresh pumpkin in place of canned pumpkin in any recipe.
Organic ingredients are recommended. If you don't like how watery it is, you can always drain with cheesecloth.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Evil, Evil, Evil

Seriously, this is bacon gravy--you read correctly--BACON GRAVY. 
Hubby and I were watching Triple D on the Food Network channel. Guy Fieri mentioned the whole show would be filmed at his home town, Ferndale, CA. We've been there! Did the tourist thing of looking at all the many Victorian homes the town is known for. At 11:00 am, we were in a hardware store and one clerk yelled to the other, "what do you want today?" The clerk assisting me yelled, "sourdough." By the time we asked for an explanation, it would have been too late to get in line or add our order to the clerks'. The asking clerk had already run down the street. The donut shop opened. Tractors were pulling up on the street, the USPS truck stopped and a lot of screeching brakes were heard. Hubby went down the street to see what few pickings might be left and was sold the last baked doughnut. The coffee shop next door was out of coffee......That's our memory of Ferndale, CA.
Watching this show about this fun town was so much fun. Guy featured a hotel that was taken over by a family and is now serving some excellent Italian food. Now there is a new bakery featuring ham scones with bacon gravy. I will share this recipe with you, but starve yourself for a week before enjoying this gravy on either a ham scone or biscuits. Yes, do serve it over biscuits. Anyone needing a new husband out there? This would do your woo-ing.

Bacon Gravy Recipe
  • 2 to 4 ounces bacon, cut into small pieces OR 1/4 cup bacon grease (see note below)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 cups milk
  1. First cut the bacon into small pieces. Put it into a large skillet and fry it over medium heat. The bacon will release it’s fat.
  2. When the bits of bacon are well browned, remove from pan. Stir in the flour. Continue stirring until the flour absorbs all of the fat.
  3. Add the salt, sugar and black pepper. Start out with the smaller amount of pepper and add more later if desired.
  4. Slowly stir in the milk. Use a whisk or a fork to prevent lumps. Continue stirring until the gravy boils.
  5. Allow it to boil gently for about 5 minutes. It will thicken nicely. Add back the bacon.
  6. Serve over toast or biscuits or mashed potatoes, your shoes, cinnamon doughnuts, etc.

NOTE: If you don’t have bacon, but you do have bacon grease, then use 1/4 cup of bacon grease instead of the bacon. Heat it in the skillet until it is bubbly. Stir in the flour and proceed as directed.

Because I wing it with recipes like this, the bakery used a pound of bacon and added some cream, heavy cream, adjust according to your taste. Just remember to put the bacon back in.
He also featured nearby cheese shop and an apple cider place. Our next visit to that region will include every place he went. We are going to check what happened to the doughnut shop. Oh! did I mention that at the new bakery, they make mega cinnamon-pecan rolls? Diet? what diet? We are going to hug some redwood trees. I am afraid what will happen to our preserved parks in our country, so I must hug.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Everything more beautiful....

This picture and words seem so appropriate right now. No matter what is going on in your life, you can set about and look or create some beauty.
I was shopping the other day in a hardware store. I had to buy some gardening supplies and happily went outside in the rain to look at their plants. Off in the corner was a small pot containing a carnation plant with a few tight buds. The buds looked purple. A tag called the flower "dark pink." My grandmother's favorite flowers to grow were carnations. A huge smile came across my face as I thought of her. The plant came home with me. It's whole association: thoughts of home, making leis with my grandmother, the scent, the flowers I could see in my head..... Its been carefully replanted into a larger pot. It sits on a stand where I can see it from my dining room window. It's my kind of beauty.
Seek what makes you smile. It it isn't around, make it. Once you grasped the idea of surrounding yourself with beauty, your style of beauty--magic happens. I guarantee it.
Spring has been slow to arrive here in western Washington. Rain is now being replaced with showers. more sun and warmth is in the forecast. So needed. Weeds are easier to pull because the ground is so wet. There are a few plants coming up in the garden beds. I chase whatever sun that emerges out from behind the clouds. I immersed in its rays and want to drown in them.
Go find something beautiful.....

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Not Waiting for Summer

Visiting a friend, I was served a most delicious lunch. Along with a creamy pasta dish, this side dish was so good, I begged for the recipe. She muttered something about it being a "family secret recipe" and it didn't seem likely I could extract the recipe from her. A tremendous amount of compliments finally did the trick.
 Imagine fresh green beans happily plucked off your vines this summer and freshly obtained mushrooms from your favorite market then running into your kitchen being giddy with your hair flying and your children running away because they think you're mad. Sorry, got carried away...... :)
You will need two cups of fresh sliced mushrooms, two cups of green beans, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 teaspoons minced garlic. One teaspoon each of freshly ground sea salt and black pepper. Wash and slice the mushrooms and cut the beans into bite-size pieces and trimmed. Preheat oven to 400º. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pour this mixture over the beans and mushrooms stirring gently until the vegetables are completely coated. Place onto a baking sheet, single layer. Bake 20 - 25 minutes. Serve these warm.
I couldn't wait for my own fresh beans, especially since I live in the NW, and it's still raining, daytime temperature is still low 50's. To the market I went so I could make this. It helping me get through these grey days and lets me think about gardening.

Meanwhile, between sewing up some UFOs, I'm learning sashiko. Will gladly share some projects as I work my way with this new skill. And, because I have found so many projects to finish: some need a sewing machine, some need a quilting machine, and some need hand needles, a new carrying bag was made.
It's made from leftover linen, some osnaburg and an old towel. No pattern because sometimes I just play with cloth and sew.
Have a great week and keep creating.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Waiting for spring...

I became so excited to see this recipe. Look at the color-vivid pink. I copied this directly from the website: Fillmore Containers. If you own Preserving with Pomona Pectin, you'll find the recipe in that book. I'm sharing this because I appreciated the hints they shared making this gorgeous jelly.

Lavender Jelly

Lavender Jelly
4 1/4 cups (1 L) hot (not boiling) water
1/2 cup (19 g) dried lavender buds
1/2 cup (120 ml) lemon juice
4 1/4 teaspoons (21 ml) calcium water*
1 3/4 cups (350 g) sugar
4 1/4 teaspoons (12.8 g) Pomona’s pectin powder
Before You Begin:
Prepare calcium water.  To do this, combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s Pectin) with ½ cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well.  Extra calcium water should be stored in the refrigerator for future use. Never used Pomona’s our calcium water? Here’s a closer look at what calcium water is.
Calcium water is a solution of the monocalcium phosphate powder (food-grade rock mineral source) that comes in its own packet with every purchase of Pomona’s Pectin. The Pomona’s Pectin directions tell you how to make calcium water with the calcium powder. Pomona’s Pectin recipes call for calcium water because the pectin is activated by calcium, not by sugar. For more information about calcium water, please visit the FAQ page of the Pomona’s Pectin website.
1. Prepare your jars, lids, and bands; heat up your canner; and sterilize your jars. 2. Place lavender buds in a heat-proof bowl and pour the 41/4 cups (1 L) hot (not boiling) water over them. Cover and allow to steep for 15 to 20 minutes.
NOTE: We steeped my lavender for 15 minutes, which resulted in a liquid that was not purple or lavender, but appeared more like your typical tea. However, when I added the lemon juice, the color suddenly changed to the airy pink hue you see in the jar.

3. Using a fine mesh strainer, drain and discard the lavender buds, reserving the infused liquid.
4. Measure 4 cups (946 ml) of the infused liquid (if necessary, add extra water to meet the required measurement) and combine in a saucepan with lemon juice and calcium water.
5. In a separate bowl, combine sugar and pectin powder. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
6. Bring infused lavender mixture to a full boil over high heat, and then slowly add pectin-sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve pectin while the jelly comes back up to a boil. Once the jelly returns to a full boil, remove it from the heat.
7. Can Your Jelly: Remove jars from canner and ladle hot jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch (6 mm) of headspace. Remove trapped air bubbles, wipe rims with a damp cloth, put on lids and screw bands, and tighten to fingertip tight. Lower filled jars into canner, ensuring jars are not touching each other and are covered with at least 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) of water. Place lid on canner, return to a rolling boil, and process for 10 minutes (adjusting for altitude if necessary). Turn off heat and allow canner to sit untouched for 5 minutes, then remove jars and allow to cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Confirm that jars have sealed, then store properly.
Yield: 4 to 5 half-pint (8-ounce, or 236 ml) jars

 I don't know about where you live but it's been raining here for months. I dying for some sun, going outdoors and running barefoot on some dirt. I'm gathering up my canning recipes and dreaming of sunny days about you?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Welcome 2017

It's been a long while since I posted. Busy holiday season, and now, I'm devoted to finishing UFOs. They nag, sneeze, giggle, and whatever to get your attention. Looking at just a small pile, I sure discovered why they have suffered such neglect. One is a table runner pattern that is actually larger than any table I own. No wonder I didn't finished it. There is enough fabric to make a lap quilt. Much more "user friendly" in my life. Another wee project simply has wrong instructions starting with cutting info and trimming information. Needed to do some math and manipulations in order to make this one complete. Still wrestling with that one.
Meanwhile, babies have come into our lives, so two "interrupter" quilts are being made. Working on #2 today.
I am grateful for these marvelous distractions. It doesn't matter who you voted for in November, my question to all of you is: what are you afraid of? Why did phrases like "make America great" have an effect on you? What is missing? What is firing you right now? Where do your passions lie? Our greatest task right now is to preserve our country and come together as one people. So common ground must be found. If we examine each other's fears and find we are one, we can get to work and reunite.
I have relatives who don't believe in abortion. Neither do I. I have my own reasons. I have watched women fight for this right. I do not want to see what I grew up with happen again. Back alley butcher shops where abortions were carried out. Women dying because of this. Or, going to a foreign country, having to explained a long disappearance, etc. Abortion will not decrease because of lack of funding. Or, some law, or publicly humiliated. Abortions will be done, period. Women fought to make them safe. I want to preserve health and safety. And, if you're like me, if you support pro-life, how far is your support? Many children will be born into poverty, go hungry, put pressure on our fragile health system (right now we don't know how long we have a health insurance plan in effect). Are you willing to step up to the plate and support these children? To me, that's pro-life, taking care of kids.
When did America quit being great? Does anyone know? I'd love your thoughts.
We are a land of immigrants, unless you're native American. My ancestors come from Ireland, 1841 one traveled to the US, some are from Portugal, England, and I am a little bit of native American-Hawaiian. I'm not unlike most of you. They were welcomed with open arms, some struggled but persevered and built their American dream. Nothing has changed. Our American welcomes immigrants. We allow all religions in our country.
No one from Syria has a home to go back to. They need our help. We've always helped before. Nothing has changed. If you think something has changed, please search your heart. We Americans have big hearts, we've always shared. Let's keep going. By keeping your heart open, you are the great in America. You are.
So speaking of about a pot of Cowboy Beans. I live in the West and this come right from a campfire. You'll need a can of beans, some ground beef.....and read below for the rest. Forgot to mention, cornbread is so fine with this---I mean, so fine.
1/2 lb. bacon
1 to 1-1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Optional: 8-oz. pkg. sliced mushrooms
28-oz. can baked beans
1/2 c. salsa
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. red steak sauce
1/4 c. catsup
2 T. brown sugar, packed
In a large skillet over medium heat, fry bacon until crisply cooked.
Crumble and discard drippings; set bacon aside. In the same skillet,
brown ground beef, onion, green pepper, garlic and mushrooms, if
using; drain. Add remaining ingredients and reserved bacon; simmer for
one to 2 hours. Makes 4 to 6 servings. (Depends on how hungry the Mister is-you adjust according to your folks)
I stole this recipe from a Gooseberry Patch book called Harvest Kitchen

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Shepherd Pie Gone Chili

  Seeing this photo and reading the recipe, I had to make this. It's chilly here and it's time to really work up the slow cooker. It's is so filling and warms the soul.....

The beans are not available readily in my regular supermarket but I did find them. You can use a combination of red kidney, black, pinto and navy beans instead of these. The bag does have a spice mix, but feel free to use your own. It's designed to be use with leftovers but feel free to do your own thing. You can order a 3 pak from Hurst and enjoy free shipping if you can't find these beans in your market. I also ordered the Bacon and Bean which includes hubby's favorite, Great Northern Beans. Loads of flavor.

 Slow Cooker Shepherd's Pie
Makes 8-10 servings
Ideal slow cooker size: 6 quart
Cooking time: 8-12 hours (depending on
your slow cooker)
6 cups water (if you soaked overnight) or
8 cups water (if you didn’t soak the beans)
2 tsp beef bouillon
3 Tbsp dehydrated onion or 1 onion minced
2 tsp garlic powder
1 lb leftover roast beef
2 tsp salt
2 cups leftover beef gravy
2 Tbsp tomato paste
Leftover mashed potatoes
Salt and pepper
1. Soak beans overnight if you remember.
If not, rinse them and add to the slow cooker. Add in 8 cups of water if you
didn’t soak the beans and 6 cups water if you did soak the beans. Add in half
of the Hurst’s seasoning packet. Reserve the rest for later. 
2. Add in  bouillon, onion, garlic
powder, roast beef and salt.
3. Cover and cook on low for 8-12 hours,
or until beans are tender and roast is falling apart and easily shreddable. Shred the meat, it really shouldn’t be hard to do this step.
4. Add in remaining portion of seasoning
packet, 2 cups of leftover beef gravy, tomato paste and then stir. Taste and
add salt and pepper as needed.
5. Warm up leftover mashed potatoes and
scoop into individual servings bowls. Ladle beef and bean mixture over the
mashed potatoes and enjoy.