Friday, July 31, 2009

Looking forward to Saturday

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have been informed that by Saturday, the temperature will be returning to normal.

I can tell you that before I moved to this area from Yakima, I lived in the 100+ degree weather every summer for about 20 years. No air conditioning and of course that was during my "earth mother" days of canning. But I was younger then.

I have been here since 1987. I have not missed those 100+ degree days, no sir, not one day.

So I will be so thankful for our "normal".

And a return to cooking. And not come home from work limp from the heat, with no thought in the world in making a dinner.Yes I am looking forward to Saturday, because this poor candle (well it was at one time!) planted in a mostly shaded area outside in a sitting area, is the only thing that got "cooked" this week!

As always, thanks for taking a moment to stop by.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday night brights

I could also call tonight, Monday Night dim (witted), because guess who forgot to take photos of the finished dishes? Yes as a matter of fact, it was me.

Here is the pie before placing the top crust on. I could also call this "My backyard pie". The strawberries were few and far between, but this was good.

I will make this again. A good mix of berries and rhubarb would be 2 c thinly sliced rhubarb, 2 c strawberries cut in half, 1 c blueberries and 1 c raspberries.

Try this tip, I use a small stainless steel funnel as a safety valve. The juice will bubble up into the funnel (if need be) and it prevents the crusts from coming apart because of built up pressure.

See very little leakage. I love the way all the pie juices stay in the pie, and not wind up on the oven floor.

I always put the crust scraps and trimmings to good use. I gather them up and roll out,the dough is then cut into pieces (about 2X2). Laid on on a baking tray, then moistened with water on your fingertips and then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 375 10-12 minutes. Yum. There are always the first to disappear as folks arrive for dinner.

Searing on the outdoor grill and then cooking slowly on the stove or using an electric skillet is yummy. It also keeps the house cooler since the oven is not on. For years I have browned meat in an electric skillet and then turned the temperature down to the lowest setting, to cook covered until tender for a really nice juicy roast. The outdoor searing simply adds a bit more flavor. The gravy was good, really good.

I am very fond of the ribbon message boards, I put little Hawaiian shirt post it notes on this one to make a "Happy Birthday" banner. It was fun to combine a birthday celebration with Sunday Cafe. We do not get to see the Yakima family often.

This would be a good example of how hot it was in Vancouver today. This poor candle could not take the heat, and even though it is in the shade for a good part of the day, it became so soft it melted over!

As always thanks for taking the time to stop by,


Saturday, July 25, 2009

I don't know where..........

..........the week went. It was busy, busy, busy.

I am so glad to be here at the start of the weekend, so lets get on with the menu!

Salad and Starters:

Cold Curried Orzo, and Cucumber Ribbon salad from the Perfect Pantry.

Chopped Vegetable Salad with Zesty Ranch
from everybody likes sandwiches.

Olives, pickles and such, including deviled eggs.

Main dish:

Chicken Marbella from The Silver Palate Cookbook.

Small Pot Roast of Beef, seared on the grill, and oven finished. Update: they had wonderful Pork roasts at the market, and Honey loves Pork roast gravy. So simply substitute Pork for Beef, and we are on track!

Side dishes:

Mashed potatoes with kale, carrots and roasted red pepper. We cannot get enough of these potatoes and they are a must with that roast.

Sauted summer squash.

Rigatoni with roasted red pepper and crumbs from the Noble Pig.

Platter of sliced tomatoes with homemade pesto drizzle.


Birthday cake, of the chocolate variety.

Rhubarb and Berry pie, from Simply Recipes.

Raisin Cookies with mocha glaze. I loved these cookies and have been wanting to make them again. When I served them I thought at the time, a mocha glaze would be wonderful.

It is time for a shopping list, a second cup of coffee and the map to this location. As always, thanks for taking a moment to stop by.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Apricot Riesling Jam

I am so in like with small batch preserving! I am also making new memories of canning and jamming. In previous years when I was a SAHM, I canned about everything we ate. Jams, fruit, tomatoes, pickles, relish and even a canned grape drink from the concord grapes in the back yard. I told the kids it was "koolaid".

After I went to work full time, I wanted to return to canning and jamming, but honestly working 6 days a week, this was not a reality. I missed the homemade treats and to a lesser degree I missed making them. Granted I did not want to return to canning at the level I did and work a full time job, but still I missed part of those days.

Fast forward 20 years (Eeee gads!) and I am back to it. I found this recipe and knew I wanted to make it.

Apricot Riesling Jam

adapted from Simply Recipes

Find 2 1/2 pounds of ripe apricots. If they are not ripe enough, let them sit a few days to mellow and make your jam then.

Clean cut in half, remove the pit and chop up. I usually dice my fruit, about the size of dinner peas. You should have 5 cups (or so, you know a 1/2 cup either way will not matter)

I had read on another blog that if you combine your fruit and the sugar and let it sit overnight with the pits, you will not need to add pectin. This recipe did not call for pectin, but I thought - why not. Apricot jam has a reputation of not "setting" up.

With a tight schedule, this 2 step process is great, I was able to accomplish what I would usually save for the weekend. Before you begin cooking you will need to do the following:

Wash and sterilize 4-6 jars, I loved this tip. Wash and dry your jars. Place them in a pan upright and sterilize by keeping them in a 200 degree oven while you cook the jam.

Prepare the lids and rings, place lids into rings, place in a pan and cover with water. Bring to just below boiling and then turn off heat. The lids are ready when you are.

Place 2 small plates in the freezer. Now to make the jam............

In this pan and boiling like mad:

5 c chopped apricots
2 3/4 c sugar
juice of 1 large lemon
1/2 c Riesling

Bring mixture to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Let boil 5 minutes stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium and let gently boil for about 20 minutes. You will notice the mixture thickening and will need to be there and stir frequently the first 10 minutes, constantly the last 10 minutes.

When the cooking time is up, your jam should look like this. Take one plate from the freezer and add a small teaspoon of jam to it. The jam will cool quickly. Is the jam thick enough for your preference, if so you are done cooking. If not cook another 5 minutes and test again.

Fill your jars to within 1/4 inch. I always prepare extra jars - just in case. Take a wet cloth and wipe the top of the jar, this will ensure a good seal.

Give your jars a 10 minute boiling water bath. I did not have a rack that would fit in the bottom of this pan, so I put a cloth dishtowel between the jars and the bottom of the pan. Worked like a charm.

Use a jar lifter to remove from water, the lids will begin pinging when they are removed from the water, that is the sound of success.

Store in a cool dry area, should keep 1 year. However this is delicious, it won't last a year.

Thanks for stopping by,


Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday night brights

Speaking of stuff, this bag is for granddaughter's birthday in October. She will be 5 and ready for things a bit more mature or grown up.

The heat this past couple of weeks has done a great job of growing rhubarb. I might have enough yet.

This Yucca plant was transplanted and left to survive on it's own. Happy little thing, it even bloomed.
It is hot right now, but this is one of the two cords we will burn this winter. Second cord will be delivered this Friday. Then the real work begins, each piece has to loaded, moved and stacked.

The butterfly bush bloomed. I haven't noticed many butterflies, yet. I like having butterflies in the yard, they are so delicate.

The ever bearing strawberries are still bearing. The second row of June bearing, did not. I knew that I got them in too late, also they were very young plants. I have placed all the little runners back into the beds. These raised beds need a bit more soil and a lot more mulch. I am hoping for a better crop next year.

The chives have budded and will be blooming. The flowers are pretty as well as tasty, they make a nice flavored vinegar. I want to make flavored vinegars from the herbs in the garden. Three different batches, rosemary, basil and chive.

Another shot of the garden, the raspberries are a little out of control! I have some minor changes to make to the irrigation system, but I did fairly well this year. I have never had a garden before. I have lived in homes where a garden had already been established, but I made this one. It was fun and I learned a lot. With more to learn.

Going through old photos for a special project. It was fun to take a look again. Old photographs are special, I think we should go through them at least every few years. It is a great time to learn about yourself and how you are like your family no matter how much you deny it!

As always thanks for taking a moment to stop by,


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Delicious and beautiful, and made by my daughter!

This evening was the first Mid Month Matinee, and this wonderful dessert was made by the lovely Jess. A beautiful yellow buttercup cake in honor of The Princess Bride.

Scratch yellow cake, with homemade lemon curd filing, and butter cream frosting.

Each one a little bit different.

I got to bring some home!
Lovely, and delicious.

I just had to share, thanks for taking a moment to stop by.


I really love my "stuff"

I am truly an American, I love my stuff.

What exactly is "stuff"?

Stuff is all the things a person has purchased through out the years for the craft/hobby/collection that they enjoy.

For me stuff really means kitchen. I love my kitchen stuff! In my daydreams, I have a kitchen as big as a whole house. It is filled with cupboards and shelves and nooks and crannies where I can store my stuff, keep my stuff and show off my stuff. And of course an extra shelf for more stuff!

For my Honey, it is model railroad "stuff".

For my daughter, her "stuff" is movies.

For my son, "stuff" is his vast collection of comic books and graphic novels.

For my DIL, she is into stamping and crafting "stuff".

For my SIL, his "stuff" is camping and being a boy scout leader.

For the granddaughter, the whole world is her "stuff".

My guess is that each family is a family of "stuff" keepers, "stuff" buyers and "stuff" organizers.

Which is where I am today, I am trying to organize my kitchen. I know (really I do) that the square footage will not magically change, and logic must be understood that the cubic mass of anything solid will not change. But with that said, today I am working very hard on trying to fit more "stuff" into the kitchen. Because I want/need it there, in the kitchen. Not down the hall in the linen closet that is now a food pantry.

And to make it even more difficult, I want it to look nice as well as be functional. Part of the kitchen is an open shelf hutch. I especially want that full of "stuff" and attractive. I was going to say pretty but that is not usually a descriptive word associated with a kitchen. However I am from a generation of women, that routinely used the word pretty to describe something. So yes I want it well organized, handy with everything I want and pretty.

Honey gets a little frustrated with me, so when I make changes I have to give him a tour of the new layout. But other than that, organizing is kind of like a hobby for me. Probably because I have so much stuff!

As always thanks for stopping by,


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

1 gallon and more to come

Who would of believed that the little pickings that I have done would add up so quickly to a sizable amount of raspberries? When I bagged up the berries picked this evening; there were four, one quart bags of IQF raspberries.

I have been searching the internet for jam recipes, and funny thing, I have found a couple that I want to make - but they do not contain raspberries. Don't get me wrong, I could make a couple batches of plain raspberry jam and it would be just fine. But I would like to make at least 1 batch of something just a little bit different. Since the raspberries are safely put away in the freezer, the raspberry jams can wait.

This weekend I thought I might make a batch of this apricot jam, since the apricot season is upon us now. And I better hurry or I will be to late for this strawberry balsamic jam. And this great looking strawberry rhubarb jam. One of my desires when I started making jam again was to make jams and preserves that were a little out of the ordinary, a touch more interesting than a plain jam or preserve.

I will have a couple of quarts of blueberries. I think I might have to bake a blueberry pie or two with those. For me blueberries really shine in pie. And my guestimate that I would have enough marionberries for a batch of muffin looks about right. The freezer holds about 3/4 cup of marionberries, and maybe there is another 1/2 cup or so to ripen.

Time to settle in for the evening, set coffee for the morning and catch some sleep. As always thanks for stopping by.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday night brights

The day ended much better than it started out. My denial of services was reversed! I was so surprised, because Friday night when I left work every person that could have a say, had been called. I am thankful, lets just let it go at that!

The scanner arrived. I am ready to scan all of those cut out, saved for who knows how long recipes. This will be fun, I sure hope all those recipes taste good, real good. Some of them I have had for many years.

Tonight's harvest. Three kinds of berries - raspberries, marionberries and blueberries. We will have some jam making going on when the weather changes. The marionberries are a bit sparse, but you know it just does not matter. They were grown here, they will be cooked here. Maybe tossed into some muffin batter. I will probably get that much again. Just enough for those muffins.

I love this yard sale find. It is a swing down caddie to hold cookbooks, found for $5.00. A nice Sunday drive, some time with Honey and a great find.

Summer squash is growning. They are kind of cute.

And tomatoes. We tend to be after everywhere else, it is not that hot here.

As always thanks for taking the time to stop by, enjoy your evening.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Can you say CRAP on the internet?

I sure hope so because Crap Crap Crap!

It has been a nightmare at work, staff shortages, month end close, payroll processing and then with the new month, collection of rents, banking and of course posting all cash. And the worse part is that I forgot something, something real important.

Re-authorization for services. Which means the facility will not get paid for one week for one patient. Crap Crap Crap.

I knew it was a matter of time until I forgot something, but I did not for a second think it would be something this important. I get to tell my boss on Monday. So who knows what will come of that, he is a great guy but this is pretty big. I have addressed the work load and there was no solution except get it done. Really I don't mind the OT, however the company does. Staffing is watched real close. But there is no other way to get all that I do, done.

This is a bit of why I did not post since last Monday, I have come home dog tired. Honey has been on the late shift so dinner has been catch as catch can. Friday night when I left work I was tired to the depth of my soul. I hate it when things like this happen.

I have completed some things here at home this week. There are almost 3 quarts of frozen home grown raspberries ready for jam when the weathers cools. I have also been looking for jam recipes, finding lots that I would like to try. I have completed all my purchases of anything red for the kitchen. I have kept the garden weeded and watered. I have made a couple of "one bowl" cakes, and one of them after another baking will shared here. There is more, but nothing much or special. I spent some time with the granddaughter.

I have resigned myself for the worst on Monday, that way the day can only get better. This has been a rather dreary weekend. I had weekend duty today. I now have a few chores to get done and then get dinner ready. The week ahead will be OK, I will do what I always do, my best.

I feel a little better, thanks for taking the time to stop by.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday night brights

I have been wanting to try grilled romaine salad, we did last night with grilled mustard oregano marinated chicken. What a nice dinner. The first of the season that I have grilled. There will be more.......

These look rather boring, but they are thin nylon (heat resistant) spreading spatulas, but let me tell you, they are the secret to getting a stuck cake out of the pan in one piece. (They are probably found everywhere, but I got these from the King Arthur flour website)

A batch of Manicotti readied for the freezer. Frozen without sauce, this way they can be cooked in any sauce you want, homemade or jarred for those busy days. Filling from Fix Freeze and Feast.

The Marion berries are ripening.

More cookbooks for a "song".

Now a daily harvest. I have been freezing (IQF) and will have enough for a couple batches of jam.

Organize your fridge like a dresser with drawers, it will hold quite a bit more.

OK, it is true, more red stuff. (I cannot say I am done, I know red is coming to an end, I just know it!)

And last but not least, I now have a laptop to use as a cookbook in the kitchen. I have a scanner and jump drive coming by postal. That way I can scan my clipped recipes and have a PDF file to use.
I am so excited!!!

As always thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Chocolate Chip Applesauce Cake

OK really this is as easy as a box mix, only better. Better because you did it, your way. On your time schedule, for your needs and when you want. See it is all about you!

One of the desserts that we had for Sunday Cafe was the delicious Chocolate chip applesauce cake. I will be honest it is a devil to get out of the pan, but so worth it. I think it is because the chocolate chips settle during the initial baking time. My guess is that, as the batter warms, it also thins. The chips being a bit heavier tend to sink. But never mind all that....this cake is the ideal recipe to use as a base recipe.

I know the traditional "snack cake" is an 8 inch square pan.

Hey wait a minute, that was a marketing ploy. You know the "you don't even need to dirty a bowl, mix it right in the pan". Stuff of dreams and advertising salesmen. It could be cut into 9 just right sized pieces of cake, feed your family a dessert and have leftovers too. But don't you think that the Bundt pan is a better cake shape? Nice easy slices, simple to pack in a lunch box, etc etc. And clearly a Bundt pan makes more than 9 servings/pieces. So it really is a win win set of circumstances.

Yesterday I played around with that cake recipe, and without changing much at all you could have a few different cakes. I made a zucchini chocolate chip cake. I have not cut it yet, but it looks good and smells good. Commercial canned applesauce has a lot of moisture. When you substitute another like type ingredient, the moisture might not be as much, so it may be necessary to add a couple of tablespoons of milk to keep the "batter" consistency. Which is what I had to do for the zucchini cake. Since this cake is not dependent upon a long beating time like many scratch cakes, it truly is open to experimentation. And adding a bit of milk at the end will not cause a negative outcome.

You could change out the applesauce for, finely grated zucchini, mashed bananas, pumpkin or even cooked sweet potatoes. Especially for the last two ingredients, I would think some additional moisture would be necessary. Also depending upon the choose item you would or would not want chocolate chips. However nuts or raisins would be great. Or even granola clusters.

I kept notes about how I put this new version together, and after I have a slice tonight (or sooner, I am getting hungry!) and I think it is good enough, I will come back and post the recipe. But I do think a new category had been established, I think everyone needs a few good,

"one bowl cake recipes".

Have a wonderful fourth of July, and as always, thanks for taking the time to stop by.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Yikes, you gotta see this!

Mid Month Matinee

Because getting together once a month is not enough!