Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Day Off?

Well, I finished all the shopping today including what I needed for Sunday's dinner.  I think that folks who don't work in retail do not appreciate the quiet that comes with shopping early in the day.  I left the house at 8:45 (which to be honest was a bit later than I had originally planned on) and hit Marshall's, Kohl's (I had never been in one before but I have to say it was pretty nice), Dick's Sporting Goods, Dillard's, True Value Hardware (it's not Christmas without something from the hardware store), Publix, Big Lots, Piggly Wiggly and arrived home before noon.  That's the way I shop, I get in get what I need and get out.  I cannot wander aimlessly around a store looking at stuff..I just doesn't interest me enough to do that.  All the presents are wrapped and all the cookies are made.  All I have left to do is some housework and we will be all ready to relax and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.  Oh, I also have to do the cooking for the pot-luck at work on Saturday.

I think it's time for a nap!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bears New Toy

This is Bear's newest toy and let my ears tell you he lovesssssssssssss it.  He lays there chewing carefully on it, the chicken making a high pitched bawking noise and Bear singing along.   He even adds a howl at the end just for emphasis!  He has been playing with it for the past hour since I got home from work and I must admit I am thinking of trying to hide it from him about now.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cookie of the Day Off and the Wonderous Mirro Cookie Press

Of all the cookies (all 3 of them so far) Spritz Cookies were the only ones that my mother ever made.  She would try a few new things now and then but these were an every Christmas kind of thing and they are for me too!  One of the interesting things about these is that they are made using the Mirro Cookie Press

This is of course not my own Mirro Cookie Press

Every year my mom and my brother Dan (I suspect the others eventually joined us but I for some reason don't remember them) and I would gather together in the kitchen and make these tasty cookies.  The only problem with them and the wonderful press is, the cookies look nothing like what they are supposed to and they still do not to this day.  A few years ago I misplaced the booklet that came with the cookies and have tried many other spritz cookies, none lived up to the ones we would make in the kitchen in Bayport (if there was any cookie dough left to bake).  Through the wonder of the internet all I needed to do was type in Mirro Cookie Press Spritz Cookie Recipe and viola!  So here it is in all its glory (and total lack of shape).

Not my cookies!
2 1/4 cups sifted all purp flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup shortening
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
Sift flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together.
With pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the shortening into the dry ingredients until mixture has very small lumps. It will resemble pie crust but not as coarse.
Measure the egg in measuring cup - add water up to 1/4 total volume. Add egg and vanilla and beat mixture very well.
Fill Mirro press - form cookies on ungreased pan, bake (375degrees) for 10-12 minutes. Remove at once to cooling rack.
Shortening of course means butter to me!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cookie of the Day Off

Well today is my day off and time to post another cookie recipe!  That is not to say I have finished making the Rum Balls from last week!  They are at the moment in the fridge.  Yes Jen, either there will be or we will make some more when you get home next month!

These are one of my youngest daughters favorites.  I have been making them for years but it took me a while to figure out to bake them on parchment paper...

This recipe is from The All New Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook.  I was given this cookbook by my wonderful Ex-Mother In Law Virgina King.

Lace Cookies

Set the oven at 375.  Mix in a bowl
2 1/4 cups oatmeal
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3 Tbls flour
1 tsp salt
Stir in
1 cup melted butter or margarine
Add 1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
Blend well.   Arrange by teaspoonfuls, at least 2 inches apart, on heavy cookie sheets (with parchment on them).  Bake until lightly browned (about 7 minutes).  As soon as firm enough, remove from the cooky sheets to a cooling rack.

These cookies will stick together careful when packing them in containers.

I discovered while typing this that somewhere since the cookbook had been published  (1959) and now the spelling of cookie has changed.  In the cookbook it is cooky which spell check tells me is wrong....

Oh Christmas Tree

Last night we decorated our Christmas tree.  It is filled with so many memories as a great many of the ornaments belonged to my grandparents and parents. My grandmother told me a story about the tree being knocked over so they sent my Papa and my grandfather (a whole other story) out to buy some more ornaments.  They were not big drinkers but for some reason they stopped in a bar and had a few then off they went to buy ornaments.  Many hours later they returned home with the ornaments, there were many boxes of identical ornaments and we still have many of them to this day.  We try to keep them up higher on the tree out of tail wagging space, each time one breaks my heart does a little bit too.  Michael and I have added a few more in the years we have been together but each ornament has memories! 

I wonder how many have a baby Jesus in a walnut shell?  I believe this was my moms......

ps.  Yesterday Michael came home and found the tree skirt in the middle of the living room and Bear with a guilty look on his face.  I quess he thought that looked more comfortable than any of his dog beds.  The strange thing is that this is the 5th Christmas we have had Bear and he has never done this before.  Either he has been planning this a long time or one of the foster dogs suggested it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Eight Working Days Before Christmas and Other Random Stuff

In years past I have tracked the last weeks before Christmas by keeping track of my days off...btw there are 3 between now and Christmas.  Last week I decided to change the way I think about it and it's really paid off for my piece of mind for some odd reason.  Perhaps it is the realization that it really is not a long retail work season even though my body feels like it is.

Today is my brother Dan's birthday!  I am not sure where he and my beloved sister in law are right now (they are hard to keep track of) but I will try to get hold of him later today...just in case he reads the blog this am.  He is the brother you want to have and of all the brothers (there are 5) he is the one I feel closest too...that might be because we are only 16 months apart.  He is smart, sensible, a voice of reason but most of all because with all his steadfastness, he is a ton of fun! 

I am in the middle of my whirlwind week-o-stuff to do!  The Holiday Parade in Mt Pleasant for the Elks was a huge success but I do not think I want to spend an entire day doing that again.  It was cold and windy out (at least by South Carolina standards).  The Boston Brass Christmas concert Monday night was fantastic!  If you get a chance listen to some of their music!  Last night was our Elks meeting...enough said about that.  Tonight, well tonight we are going to decorate the Christmas tree.  It has been sitting naked in the living room since we brought it home on Friday and putting up the decorations might help our holiday moods!

Who knew you could buy a Christmas tree at Costco?  We were afraid that not going to the tree lot or cutting it down ourselves would decrease the enjoyment but when we went to said tree lot to check out the trees we saw how expensive they are this year.  Do I really need to part with $60 for a tree?  NO!!  The man at the tree trailer was wonderful (thank you Davis!) and helped us select a wonderful tree and for only 29.99.  Michael had to cut the bottom off himself but it was worth it!  Pictures of the naked tree and the decorated tree probably tomorrow am!

I really enjoy getting up early.  The house is quiet and I get to read all the silly things on AOL before any one wakes up (other than Bear who anxiously awaits anyone to make a move that even remotely resembles getting up)

I think that's it for is 6:08 and I have to be at work in less than 2 hours. 

Have a great day!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Pioneer Woman

I was reading The New Yorker the other day and there was an interesting article about The Pioneer Woman.  I first read this blog about a year ago and was amazed with the photography and the style of writing.  I probably need to admit it helped me get over my fear of blogging.  Anyway in the article it states that the blog gets 23.3 MILLION page views a month.  I'm thinking that Ree doesn't check her blog stats 6 times a day to see if anyone is reading it and she certainly doesn't check Google analytics as many times. 

The article was both depressing and uplifting.  Depressing because I get no where near that many hits but uplifting in the fact that she started the same way the rest of us do and she did it and so can we!  We just need to keep typing away and insert more pictures (that seems to do part of the trick) of the dog.  People love pictures and stories about dogs...oh dogs and cooking!

I am hoping that Santa has a new camera for me that I promise to not drop in the sand at the beach attempting to take pictures of Bear in full joyful leap while frolicking in the ocean!  Actually I saw a Fisher Price kids camera on TV, they showed it falling down a full flight of stairs..perhaps that's the camera for me...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

When Did We All Become So Afraid?

Late one evening last week I stopped at the gas station down the street.  Michael has asked me repeatedly not to go there as there are what he calls some unsavory characters but, on occasion I do go anyway.  As I was walking in I noticed a lady by the door, we exchanged hellos and I went in.  On the way out the lady approached me and introduced herself, her name is Mary Smith and she is 60 years old.  Someone had dropped her off at the gas station and she needed $11 for a cab home, she only had $2 and could I spare some money.

I have to tell you that in the past I have had a very soft spot, if someone asked me for money and I had it, it was theirs.  How many folks at gas stations who need to take a cab home, gas for the car to get to the funeral of a loved one...the list is endless.  Mary touched a place in my heart but how could I tell she really was stuck there?  She certainly looked like a respectable enough person and I was thinking what if I was in that same spot?  Would someone give me money or would they just pass me by without even saying hello?When I gave her a couple of dollars she asked me if I could spare a cigarette so I gave her the rest of my pack and a lighter, Mary of course thanked me and that was all I needed.  It wasn't much and I certainly am not looking for the money back or kudos for helping her.  I think of her all the time though....I wanted to give her a ride to where ever she was headed and thought seriously about doing so.  I wonder what happened to her and know that our paths will probably never pass again.

What worries me is when did we become so afraid of helping someone in need?  Why do most of us turn away and not even acknowledge the person standing there?  Why do we not think "There by the Grace of God go I"?  I often see older folks on the side of the road waiting for the bus and want to stop and ask them if I can give them a lift...I fear they would be just as afraid of me as I am of them.

When the girls were younger and we lived in California I had picked one of them up at the movies late one evening.  At the enterance to the parking lot there was a homeless lady with a sign asking for money,  the girls and I drove home, made her some sandwiches, some tea, grabbed some blankets and drove back to give them to her.  I was shocked when she refused the sandwiches and the tea but took the blankets and then she explained that sometimes people will put things in the food which sadly enough made sense.  So there was this person who couldn't take what we had to offer for fear. 

When did we all become so afraid of one another?

Counting Down

Here it is a little over 2 weeks before Christmas and I have not started making my cookies yet.  I make the same cookies each and every year some my mother made (with the trusty Mirro Cookie Press) and some I have added.  I was thinking of doing Cookie of The Day Off recipes since I obviously need to make these on my days off.  The trick will be hiding them from Michael.

The first recipe is rum balls.  I found this many years ago on I believe Epicurious, thank goodness there is a handwritten copy in my recipe file because it is no longer posted.  These are a favorite with family and friends and there is a list of people who request them each year! 

Rum Balls

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup sugar
3 Tbls light corn syrup
1/2 c rum
2 &1/2 c finely crushed vanilla wafers (basically one box)

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, whisk in 1/2 sugar and corn syrup.   Remove from heat add the rum, pour mixture over vanilla wafers in bowl and mix well.  At this point I put the whole thing in the refrigerator for an hour or so to cool down and get a little hard. 
Roll mixture by teaspoon full into about 1 inch balls and roll in sugar.
I keep mine in a somewhat airtight container in the fridge (usually the back so they are not found!)

My first rum ball experience was when I was much younger and our Uncle Ray made them and brought them to Mom's house.  This is not the exact same recipe but it is close enough!  I measure the rum and then usually wind up adding a touch more since it never looks like enough.....

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Somethings Up

I am trying to figure out what is wrong with my blog.  I have lots of visitors but no read posts are showing up...I fear I may have been hijacked.  I am going to try to figure out what is up so please bear with me whilst I do this!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Coming Up For Air

I am coming up for air for a few moments!  Somehow no matter how long I do it, retail takes over your life during the holidays.  Add to that its dark out so early and gets light so late I almost feel like I come and go in the dark.  I left work at 4 ish today and ran to do some errands landing in the house sometime after 5.  Michael is doing a home buyers seminar tonight (did I mention he is the BEST Real Estate agent in the entire world?) so I put away the things I bought and put a pot of chili on the stove.  We were truly excited when a friend gave us 10 1lb packages of venison sausage.  Now it is just up to me to figure out what to do with it!  It is loose, not in casings, so one night last week I made a meat loaf and tonight there is Venison and Black Bean chili on the stove.  I had never experienced venison before a visit to a wonderful restaurant downtown and now I am in love! 

I need to digress for a moment.  Thanksgiving was a wonderful crazy day.  I think our friend out did herself as always preparing a the de-boned turkey wrapped in prosciutto.  Fantastic is the only word to describe it and my husband had the forethought to hide it from most of the people there!  When you have 30  people over for dinner it is a feeding frenzy.  The soup turned out great but I don't think it was the right crowd for it and I wound up bringing about half of it home.  I took it to work and pawned it off on some of the folks there who have now asked for the recipe.  I guess it was a winner.  We went over to the same friends house on Sunday to help her eat some of the leftovers.  I don't think I have ever had turkey wings and legs simmered slowly in gravy but...I will definitely have to eat that again.

The lunch was a major hit at work this weekend with enough food (except for the meatballs) to last through the entire weekend with a little left for Monday.  The staff gave me a wonderful card and gift basket with a wine I have been dying to try, I think I may have to save this one!

Now for the Venison and Black Bean Chili

1 med onion chopped
1/4 green pepper chopped
1 lb Venison
1 Tbl Cayenne pepper
1 lg can crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
1 Tbl tomato paste
a glug of Pace Picante Sauce
1 Tbl Olive Oil

Heat the oil in a fairly large pan over a medium heat, when hot add the onions and peppers.  Saute until soft, add the venison, stirring to break up and brown.  Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer for about 2 hours or so stirring occasionally.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all here in the US and those who celebrate abroad! 
We are going to a friends house for dinner today, she is having 30 people (of the large and small variety) and   is far braver than I!  She is cooking two turkeys (one is de-boned and wrapped in prosciutto, the other is maple glazed), the appetizers and dessert. A shout out to Earth Fair, they de-boned the turkey which she had purchased somewhere else and did it for free! The rest of us have assignments based on different criteria.  Those are if we cook, how willing we are to take on a challenge and the most important of all, if we cook is it actually edible.  Needless to say some are assigned ice cream. 

My assignment is the soup and it is Thai Style Chicken Coconut Curry.  My eldest daughter tells me it is very Americanized as everything in it is something you would either find in your home or in the local grocery store.  We are changing it up just a bit and replacing the chicken with shrimp.  I started my prep work yesterday and finished this am.  There is a bit of chopping involved here and I learned how to cut fresh ginger into matchsticks.  Just a side point, when do you suddenly need your reading glasses to cook?  I had to cut the shrimp in half and could not do it without was somewhat discouraging but, considering the option I'll take it!

Thai Style Chicken Coconut Curry Soup

servings 4
·         1  cup  thinly sliced shallots
·         2  tablespoons  grape-seed or canola oil
·         2    serrano chilies, thinly sliced
·         1  one-inch  piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
·         1  clove  garlic, chopped
·         1  teaspoon  ground turmeric
·         1 1/2  cups  cabbage, sliced into 1/2-inch-wide strips
·         1    carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
·         1  cup  sliced mushroom caps
·         14  ounce  light coconut milk
·         1  pound  skinless, boneless chicken breast cut into 1-inch chunks
·         2  tablespoons  reduced-sodium soy sauce
·         2  medium  tomatoes, cored and sliced into wedges
·         1  cup  snow peas, strings removed, cut in half
·         1/2  cup  fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
·         1    scallion, greens sliced into 1-inch lengths, whites thinly sliced
·         1  cup  jasmine rice, cooked according to package directions
·         1    lime, cut into wedges, for serving
Combine shallots and oil in a large saucepan over high heat; saute for about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; add the chilies, ginger, garlic, and turmeric, and saute for 1 minute. Add cabbage, carrot, and mushrooms, and saute for another 2 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and 1 cup of water; bring the mixture to a boil. Add chicken and soy sauce and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in tomatoes and snow peas and simmer for 3 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Add the basil and scallion and simmer for 1 minute more. Serve with jasmine rice and lime wedges.

I do not know where she got the recipe but, it looks like a winner!  I will tell you how it tastes...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Day Before Thanksgiving!

Well, here it is, the next to the last normal day of my life until probably sometime after New Years and for some unexplainable reason, the corporate office decided I needed to be off today.  Well not just me but all the operations/lead supervisors or whatever our title is now.  Now as much as I think it is wonderful (as was the year that they decided I should be off the day after Thanksgiving) it just doesn't make much sense.  But since they said I had to be off today I am off  (other than all the prep and shopping for the store food on Friday and hopefully Saturday).  Not to worry, I (or we) get the closing shift on Friday and Saturday.

Thanks for the suggestions for the meal on Friday!  I made my first ever hummus today and even roasted garlic to top it with, something I had never done!  Michael did ask me if anyone else there likes hummus other than me and I hope they do because there is a lot of it.   I did take a poll (as I do every year) and there was a surprising interest in hummus...who knew?  We have now added deviled eggs also (thank goodness you can buy already peeled eggs at the Piggly Wiggly), spinach dip and 3 yummy looking pound cakes from the Costco which cost me all of 6.99.  All told, I probably spent around $150 on the meal which is not that bad when feeding 30 folks.

I now he will not see this but, I wish to personally thank Barry Feld, the President of World Market for staying the course not opening on Thanksgiving and not opening until 7am on Black Friday.  He sent out a wonderful letter to all of us explaining that it is important that we have tomorrow to spend with our families.  From myself and the rest of the company, I say "Thank you Mr Feld for putting us before sales on Thanksgiving, we promise to pay you back for it!".

The Black Friday Menu

Roast Ham (1.99 a pound at Harris Teeter, 20 pounds)
White American Cheese (3.99 a pound at Harris Teeter, 4 lbs)
Lettuce (1.79 a head at Publix)
Tomatoes (1.49 at Publix, 2 lbs)
Bread (4 loaves white and 2 loaves wheat at Costco total $9.00)
Redskin Potato Salad (4 lbs Costco, 5.97)
Meatballs in tomato sauce (6lbs meatballs Costco, $15.97.  Sauce left over from last year, don't worry its Ragu)
Spinach Dip (5.99 at Costco I don't know how much there is but it's a lot!)
Hummus (1.50 between the garbanzo beans and garlic, I had everything else).
Tortilla Chips (4.97 at the Costco for the giant economy size)
Deviled Eggs (2.99 a dozen at the Piggly Wiggly we are making 2 dozen)
Mayo, Mustard, Ketchup
Soda (buy 2 get 3 free at Harris Teeter so...26.08 for 10/12 pks)
Water (2.77 at Harris Teeter for 24 bottles of Deer Park Water)
Pound Cake (6.99 for 3 cakes at Costco)

So there you have the meal and my basic accounting.  I always worry that there will not be enough but, I think this year there will be money left over to do a few other meals.  I am thinking of a White Bean with ham soup one Saturday, not too expensive and there will be two ham bones left over!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Michael Cooks Dinner (Again)

I am not the only one in our home who cooks.  I am truly blessed to have a husband who definitely knows his way around the kitchen and is not afraid to try something new.  When we first married he brought with him many, many cookbooks and recipes he had clipped from here and there (I joked that they were his dowry).  A few weeks ago he brought home the October 2011 issue of Southern Living.  Now as you know, neither one of us is from the south but we are growing to enjoy the food.  We don't really deep fry and try to keep the butter to a minimum but...I have to say, there is an awful lot of good southern food.

It was while perusing this magazine that he came across this recipe for Chicken Under a Skillet and has now made it twice for us (last night was one of the times).  The chicken is absolutely delicious!  The cooking method keeps the chicken moist and the flavors of the spices are wonderful.  We are fortunate here that we can grill almost all year but if you cannot I suspect some of this can be done on the stove and then finish it off in a low oven.  I found chickens on sale at Save A Lot for 79 cents a pound and one chicken lasts the two of us many meals!  I only bought two but think I may have to sneak back and pick up another two at this great price.

Chicken Under a Skillet
·         YIELD: Makes 4 servings
·         HANDS-ON:25 Minutes
·         TOTAL:2 Hours, 15 Minutes
·         COURSE: Main Dishes
·         1 (3- to 4-lb.) whole chicken
 ·       3 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
·         1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
·         1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
·         1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
·         1 tablespoon lemon zest
·         2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
·         1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
·         1 1/2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
·         1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1. Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Rinse chicken, and pat dry. Place chicken, breast side down, on a cutting board. Cut chicken, using kitchen shears, along both sides of backbone, separating backbone from chicken; discard backbone. Open chicken as you would a book. Turn chicken, breast side up, and press firmly against breastbone with the heel of your hand until bone cracks. Tuck wing tips under. Place chicken in a baking dish or pan.
2. Pulse garlic and next 8 ingredients in a food processor until mixture forms a thick paste. Reserve half of paste. Rub remaining half of paste on both sides of chicken. Cover chicken with plastic wrap, and chill 1 hour.
3. Heat one side of grill to 300º to 350° (medium) heat; leave other side unlit. Place chicken, breast side down, over lit side of grill; top with a piece of aluminum foil. Place a cast-iron skillet on foil-topped chicken to flatten. Grill, covered with grill lid, 10 to 15 minutes or until chicken is browned. Remove skillet and foil. Turn chicken over, and transfer to unlit side of grill. Grill, covered with grill lid, 45 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion of breast registers 165°. Remove chicken from grill, and let stand 5 minutes. Brush with reserved paste.
Southern Living OCTOBER 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Black Friday Lunch at Work

One of my many jobs at work is what I call the catering.  Right now I am working on planning the menu for the "Black Friday"meals.  The company gives us a budget and my job is to try to stretch it out as far as possible in order to try to feed the staff for the holiday season.  I shop around trying to get the best buys so into the ads I went.  Now, I need to feed about 35 people, a number of which are guys who tend to eat more so....I need a lot of food!

So far the menu looks like
Spiral Cut Ham (on sale at Harris Teeter 1.99 a lb) I will bake this on Thursday
Cheese (American Cheese 3.99 a lb at Harris Teeter)
Meat Balls in sauce (should be around 12.00 at Costco and I have sauce left over) They go in the crock pot at work
Rolls (usually runs me about 15.00 at Costco so I may shop around more)
Potato Salad (about 5.00 for a 5 lb container)
Soda (Coke is on a buy 2 get 3 free at Harris Teeter so I will get 10)
Water (Harris Teeter brand 24 .5 liters for 3.37 and I will probably buy 4)

I have bought healthier items before but they really don't get eaten so...I may still add a baked ziti but I need something for later in the season so that may bet pushed to a later weekend.  Last year I added chips and salsa and a spinach artichoke dip I pick up at the Costco. Some of this food I prepare myself in order to save some money. 

Any ideas?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sharing Ideas

I am off from work today and tomorrow so I guess its my weekend!  Michael is hard at work and I am here at home with Bear.  I am a person best kept busy so we (Bear and I) have been cooking most of the day along with chatting with friends and family on the phone.  It was decided today that we will have Christmas here. I can't even think of dinner yet but a brief idea so far is roast beef, mashed potatoes, string beans and Yorkshire pudding.  That is the traditional Christmas dinner I have had every year since I was small and I have passed the tradition on to the girls.  J goes between being vegan and vegetarian so she partakes  in parts of dinner but not all of it. Of course I make gravy and there is always an assortment of cookies to enjoy (unless they have all be inhaled before the holiday itself).

I get ahead of myself though.  Today we have made drop cookies and have a pot of chili and a loaf of whole wheat bread peculating.  I am thinking about possibly making some corn bread (I have never tried this) to go with the chili for tonight.   Hopefully the chili will be ready in time since I am cooking the black beans as I write.  I learned last time that you do not add salt to the beans while cooking or they do not soften.  There really is no recipe for the chili, it is a work in progress.  We all have them, the recipes that are not written down, the recipes that we just kind of go with and change.  The things perhaps that our Moms or Grandmothers made that we still make but....they are not written anywhere.

What recipes do you have?  I know there is someone in Russia that reads the blog frequently...what do you cook that you can share with the rest of us?  The same goes for my friend in must have a family recipe or an old favorite.  My beloved sister in law, you are a great cook along with my brother, what new and exciting things do you guys make down there in Florida?  Stephen, you share recipes all the time on your blog! We can close the gaps in the world with food!

My Travels

I was looking through the list of cities that Google told me yesterday's visitors were from (the ones it actually identifies is much smaller than the actual list) and I started to think...which ones have I been to and what do I remember the most about them?

Fort Myers and Punta Gorda Florida...Never been to either one but I best get down there soon since one of these is one of brothers and my much loved wacky sister in law.

Bellevue Washington...Nope, never been there either.  The furthest north I have been on the west coast is Bodega Bay Ca.

North Charleston South Carolina...Yup!   I have been there many, many times.  I remember going to many hockey games there (sorry JuJu thats the best I can do this early in the morning)

Gilroy Ca...Another Yup!  I would pass through Gilroy every time I went to visit my family in Phoenix when we were living in Saratoga.  Gilroy, if the story is correct, has the only McDonald's that puts garlic on their hamburgers.  They have this garlic festival every year and you can smell the sweet scent of it many miles away.  They also have cows...lots of cows, and an outlet mall.

Chicago...Does the airport count?

Guatemala...Sorry J, it doesn't say the name of the city you are in.  No, I have never been there either.

Ottawa Canada....I have been to Montreal but never Ottawa.  It looks gorgeous (in the summer).

As my oldest daughter reminds me, I have lots of traveling to do!  I have pretty much been up and down the east coast and many places on the west coast.  I have been across the country on I 10, I drove to Minneapolis from Charleston (made a wrong turn somewhere in Wisconsin and wound up in the wrong part of the state).  I also saw more cows on that trip than I had seen in my entire life up to that point (and got a very bizarre sun burn).  We took a vacation to Puerto Rico (I want to go back there with Michael), took the girls snorkeling and the only fish I saw was a flounder.  It had something to do with needing to touch the ground and remembering to breath only through my mouth.  We love to hop in the car and head down to Savannah for the day....something about the squares, the river walk and the to go cups from the bars!

I have been to Montreal, Tijuana and Porta Villarta.   That's it for my trips out of the country.

  Our dream is to retire and sail away on a sail boat.  We need to do some training of Bear since he is not so crazy about the whole dock thing....

Where have you been and where do you want to go?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I Have A Wonderful Husband

My very handsome husband in his tux. 

I just thought I would put that out there!   It's Christmas for me at work and the hours are getting longer and the days more tiring. 

My wonderful husband makes sure I always eat.  He gets up early and fixes breakfast for me (whether I want it or not) and on the days I work later or he is home and I am at work, supper is started before I get home with a plan.  It is wonderful to be loved and cared for this much.  He is truly a special man. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Pants

It was in the low 40's when we got up this morning which is a tad chilly for here this time of the year.  Earlier this week Michael retrieved the large bins of winter clothes out of the shed so I rotated my summer clothes for my winter ones (we truly only have 2 seasons here) and I guess shorts are out until April.  While I was taking all my sweaters and long sleeve shirts out of the bin I came across some pants that were purchased with the best of intentions for me.  I love to lounge when I get home, sweat pants, yoga pants, comfy get the picture.  My husband thought he was doing a wonderful thing for me, he bought me a pair of double knit polyester, elastic high waisted red plaid pants at the thrift store (I think they may even have stitching down the front of the legs).  Now in his defense, he was thinking of how much I love comfy things but they almost brought tears to my eyes.  Am I really that old that I would wear these?

I must admit I hid these pants last winter.  I wore them a few times the year before to show appreciation that he was thinking of me and my comfort but...I just couldn't do it last year.  Right now there they sit on my bed, waiting to be put somewhere.

I have come to the conclusion that aging for men and women is two different things.  I look in the mirror each day and see new wrinkles on my face, check to see if there is grey hair (I am truly blessed in this aspect).  I see myself as I think others see me.  Men on the other hand (at least my Michael) don't see wrinkles on their faces.  They do however notice the hair that starts poking out of their noses and ears (what's up with that anyway?)

Men do not need to dress "age appropriately".  They don't need to stop wearing shorter skirts or high heels, they do not stop wearing form fitting clothing.  I certainly do not dress like a floozy, my father used to tell me I dressed too conservatively and I guess still do dress the same but, I am certainly not ready for the red plaid, double knit polyester, high waisted, elastic banded with the seams down the front pants!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

All Over The World

I am constantly amazed how small our world really is.  The planet itself seems very large but the web has made far away places really only a click away.  As some of you know, I am obsessed with checking the stats on the blog.  At first this was just to see if anyone was reading it than it became where are you all coming from.  This is a list of the countries that have visited so far.  My apologies if your country is not on the list, apparently Blogger only lets you see so many at one time.  This is not listed by importance, just as I came across the names!

United States
Guatemala (The oldest daughter)
Netherlands (Sneek is a very pretty city by the way!)
The United Kingdom
United Arab Emirates
Monrovia (I had to look this one up)
The Philippines
France (Just joined us!)
Mexico (This is a new country also!)

I told Michael I was thinking of getting a large map and coloring in the countries as they came along!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dinner Or Gravy

I have been sitting here trying to decide what to write about.  Should it be what I am making for supper tonight (shepherds pie) or the fine art of gravy.  The pie has just come out of the oven and I think it smells pretty dern good make shepherds pie, you must make gravy (or you can cheat and buy it in the bottle but what fun is that?).

To me fine gravy is like fine wine, they both take time.  I must say first I LOVE gravy.  I love it on everything!  If it weren't for gravy we would never have rice in our house, not very southern but I'm from New York so what the heck.  My first Mother In Law (whom I love dearly) would shake some Wondra into the fat and call it gravy, I have friends that serve Thanksgiving gravy from the can or jar....Gravy Sacrilege!  My mother taught me how to make it and I believe I have taught the girls how to make it.  Time, patience, corn starch and water...those are the ingredients needed.  Oh also fat from the meat and the proper pan.

To make proper gravy (just in time for Thanksgiving)
The fat from the meat (I mean all of it) in the pan it was roasted in (it best be metal)
About a tablespoon of corn starch
A glass of water

Place the pan with the fat on the stove, add the cornstarch.  Set at a mid medium temperature for a minute or two.  Leaving the temperature where it is, when thickened add some water and stir, add more water and stir some more.  Do the same for a while.  Add more water, stir some more (I add lots of water and stir alot)..after about 15 minutes (or more in my case) add some salt and pepper than serve.

If you are cooking turkey or other birds, you might want to simmer the innards in some water with a bit of onion for about half and hour, chop up the liver and anything else palatiable, use the water and what you have of the innards in the gravy.

So there it is, the fine art of gravy making! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Happy Monday!

Many of you are starting your work week today.  It is my Friday and it is action packed!
Just a note to say have a FANTABULOUS Monday!  If you are in a different part of the world where it is already Tuesday...well do the same with your day.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Night

Tonight we are going to the Charleston Urban League Gala cooking for me!  The Urban League does amazing work in the community and if you do not know about them please take the time and visit their website   This link will take you to our local group but this wonderful organization is all over the country.

A few days ago when the weather turned cold (in the 70's) I felt it was time to make soup.  Actually how this happened was we didn't want chicken again and I had a bag of lentils in the closet that J had given me when she went on her great adventure to South America.  I started off Googling Chicken and Lentils, that did not give me the desired result but....this soup turned up.

Apparently I am experiencing technical difficulties again and will have to actually type the recipe!

Hearty Lentils and Bacon from Bon Appetit 
Yield: Serves 6

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 slice bacon chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
7 cups (or more) canned low-salt chicken broth
2 cups dried lentils
2 large fresh thyme sprigs or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chives or green onions

Combine onion, celery, carrot, bacon and garlic in heavy Dutch oven.  Stir over medium high heat 2 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook until vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes.  Uncover; add broth, lentils, thyme and bay leaf and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.  Discard thyme spri9gs and bay leaf.

Transfer half of soup to processor; cool slightly.  Puree until smooth.  Transfer puree to Dutch oven.)  Can be prepared 1 day ahead.  Cover and refrigerate..)

Bring soup to simmer, thinning with more broth if desired.   Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Combine parsley and chives in a small bowl. Ladle soup into bowls.  Sprinkle parsley mixture over and serve.

So the changes I made were:
In place of bacon I used some ham hock pieces purchased at Doshcers.  They were added when it was time to simmer th soup.
In place of the stock I used plain old water.  I don't know if you can even tell the difference.
Instead of putting the soup in the food processor, I used the wonderful stick blender J left with me for safe keeping.

We had these with the Kaiser rolls I made when the blog was started.  A truly yummy supper!  The leftovers were frozen for lunch later.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Last Nights Supper

The reviews are in and last nights supper was definetly a major win! To be honest, I was a bit concerned putting a recipe up before trying it fears now!  Cooking the garlic this way gave it a definte sweetness and the chicken remained tender (something I often battle with).  To answer the garlic guestion, I just smashed it with the knife.  If you have never tried it I learned about this trick on TV.  You place the garlic clove on the cutting board and with the sharp edge of a chefs knife facing away from you give it a smush with your fist.  I don't try to kill it, normally I have my hand in a fist and kind of roll on it with a gentle even pressure.  It is enough to take the skin off the garlic and slightly smush it.

Now a few notes about the recipe and the changes I made...I did not cook an entire chicken, this worked for me with just two chicken breasts, I cut the sauce recipe kind of in half.  I used about 3/4 of a garlic head, it doesn't have that over powering garlic taste because of the cooking method for the garlic.  Be VERY CAREFUL when adding the wine to the pan, I wasn't and there was fat and olive oil everywhere.  I will remove the pan from the stove next time I do this.  We were not ready to eat when the chicken was done so I left it on a very low heat and simmered it with the lid on.  The sauce was unbelievable and I believe what really makes the meal!

To answer the last guestion, we had overcooked frozen french cut green beans.  Now overcooked sounds terrible but Michael had taught me the trick of putting a beef bullion cube in the water and then just simmer away.  I think it reminds him of green beans cooked in bacon but healthier!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What The Heck Am I Going To Make For Supper?

It 5pm and I am sitting here trying to figure out once again what to do with the chicken.  I don't know about you but I like to put something different on the table each and every night but, my dilemma is that Friday is grocery day and I am running low on supplies.  Now one thing you need to know about me, if you don't know this already is that I am a food hoarder.  Probably not a hoarder like those people with all the animals but, I need to know that there is more than enough in the house.  That said, we have more than enough but, I just need to know we won't starve (which trust me we never come close to).

So, off to the Internet I went.  You get some amazing answers when you type in...Something new to do with chicken breasts!  Apparently I am not the only person with this problem.  I came across the following recipe on Simply Recipes and it sounds awfully good so that is what we will have tonight with some mashed potatoes and a vegetable to be named at a later date.

Garlic Chicken with White Wine Sauce Recipe
Print Options
You can of course peel the garlic if you want.
·         1 4-pound whole chicken, cut into eight parts
·         Salt and freshly ground black pepper
·         2-3 whole heads of garlic, cloves separated (40 cloves) but not peeled
·         Olive oil
·         1 1/4 cup dry white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc
·         3 large sprigs of fresh tarragon
·         3 large sprigs of fresh thyme
1 Lightly smash the garlic cloves with the side of a heavy chef's knife, just enough to break the cloves. Leave peel on.
2 Trim the chicken pieces of excess fat. Pat them dry and sprinkle pieces generously with salt and pepper. Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a Dutch oven (or a large thick-bottom pan with a tight fitting cover) on medium high. Working in batches, brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Lay the chicken pieces on the hot oil, do not move until browned, then turn over to other side using tongs. Remove from pan when browned.
3 Add a little more olive oil to the pan if necessary. Add the garlic and sauté until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the wine and the herbs. Bring to a boil. Add the chicken pieces. Reduce the heat to medium low. Cover the pan and simmer until the chicken is cooked through. Move the chicken pieces from top to bottom every 5 minutes for about 20 minutes. Chicken is done when a meat thermometer inserted into thickest part reads 180°F for thighs and 170°F for breasts.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer chicken pieces to a platter; spoon garlic sauce over the chicken.
Serve alone (low carb option) or with rice, noodles, baked or mashed potatoes.
Serves 4-6.
 The site had really cool pictures but, I cannot figure out how to get them to copy and copy will need to use your imagination.

Now to cooking I go!