Monday, October 31, 2011

We Now Return to our Regularly Scheduled Season

A weekend in October at the cabin. . . in snow!

We had a fun photo shoot for my etsy shop - my beautiful mother, sister, and sister in law as models.

  I'll be listing new things this week and next. 

I'm studying my camera manual and a dSLR book from the library - trying to move beyond point and shoot with my nice big Canon 10D.  In my fumblings,  I accidentally shot about 200 photos in ISO 800 instead of 400.  sighhhhhh

I didn't document the cozy familiar cabin routines of food, games, bonfire, and long walks.  I read a lot and lazed around.

In lieu of kick the can in the wet snow, we played sardines (hide and seek in the dark) inside with the children.  They were ecstatic.  It was a lovely vacation.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A New Snack

The answer to most food dilemmas:  roast it.  I used to think that only root vegetables and meat were roasted.  No, friends, you can do leafy things like kale and cabbage.  And now, I have discovered, you can roast garbanzo beans.

Nothing will stop me from roasting other beans, except that I haven't gotten around to it yet.

And do you know the roasted green peas with a little wasabi coating?  Yes, I'm going to (eventually) try to make those as well.

Anyway, the whole family loves these roasted garbanzos.

I sent some in Genevieve's lunch with a bell pepper and cheese sandwich and Middle Eastern spiced yogurt, something A introduced me to this summer.  I would like to report that Genevieve's palate was educated, but what actually happened was that she sniffed the yogurt in the school cafeteria and reported to me later that "it smelled like something was wrong."

Today, she told me she only took one bite of her broccoli and threw the rest away.  Hoo boy.  We had a sharp little talk about not wasting food. 

I should marshall my thoughts and brief experiences and do a post on packed lunches, I suppose.  I'll work on it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I'm Trendy

I opened the latest Land's End catalog and nearly fell off my chair:  a ruffle scarf!  People, I made that scarf up out of my head because there were so many ruffles appearing last fall and they were so pretty.  Well.

Then I turned the page and did fall off my chair:  little fabric flowers! 

I made those up out of my head too!  I'm sure there are tutorials and kits for people to make flowers, but all along I have simply been playing with my fabric scraps and twisting my needle and thread in different directions to get the flower breeziness I wanted.

 I have secretly pretended to be a milliner.  I threw some of my flowers away because I couldn't get them right, and they're such a little bit of fabric.  Then my cousin commissioned me to make organza flowers for all the ladies of her wedding party including (gasp) her, the bride.  I was honored.

(my sister modeling a flower)

My conscious mind does not remember seeing prototypes anywhere for my ruffle scarves and flowers. . . I'm so trendy that Land's End is copying me, right?  No, I'm joking.  But I am amused at the funny ways of the universe.

I'm having a big photo shoot this weekend - more flowers and scarves in the shop next week!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Local Organic Chicken Stock

First batch of stock for the season.

3 chicken backs for $1.50 a pound
3 bunches of carrot tops from the freezer
some onions
a head of garlic
biggest stockpot full of water
Roasted. Simmered for 24 hours.  Jarred.  Frozen.  Local organic chicken stock! Tasty and chock full of stuff to make smart students, energetic play time, creative thinkers, healthy immunities, and deep sleepers.  I love nurturing my family in this way.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sunday Dinner on a Very Busy Weekend

Suffice to say we had three big events this weekend, with two vacations and three birthdays breathing hotly down our necks.  There have been tears - of joy, and of weariness.

Dahlias from a friend - they look like lush summer to me, not autumn.  I can't get over their beauty.  And there are wedding flowers, too, that didn't get photographed.

A wedding bow discovery: tie a regular bow as if tying a shoe, but with very long tails.  Then do it again right on top of the first one, and do it until you run out of tails.  This photo shows three bows.  The ribbon was lightly wired, so I was able to puff the loops into an even prettier bow. 

I was not fond of this ribbon, a freebie, on its own, but with the deep discount gold foil paper, it turns out to be a very nice autumnal package.

So in the midst of all this, we had a quiet little family Sunday dinner.  I wasn't even going to mention it here, but Genevieve made a sign.  Of her own volition (she did ask how to spell "kale" and "millet").

We ate a vegetarian millet casserole that I put together Saturday in about 10 minutes. 

 - - -Mix together 4 cups cooked millet or another grain,
1-2 cups salsa,
then finely minced (food processor)  1 bell pepper, hot pepper, 4 tomatoes, and 1-3 cloves garlic. 
Black beans optional.
Cheese on top. 
350 for 45 minutes- - -

 Then Sunday morning, I chopped up the collards (not kale, as Genevieve thought), and put them in the Dutch oven with sugar, salt, and garlic.  I turned them on when we got home from church and let them go for 10-15 minutes. 

A simple healthy dinner in the midst of all the candy and rich meals.  The essence of home.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Reading Recently

Hotel Paradise, Cold Flat Junction, Belle Ruin - by Martha Grimes; a new one just came out.  The pace is very slow, but the writing is good.

Tiny tablescape by Ben. . .

 next to Downstairs the Queen is Knitting by Dorcas Smucker.  These are either blog posts or newspaper columns that she wrote about family life and being a mother.  Well-written, funny, and tender.   A breath of fresh air right now.

I also just finished Mindless Eating by Brian Wansick, recommended by Anna at Pleasant View.  That will get its own post soon.

I'm always open to reading recommendations. . .

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cast Iron Pans are Great! (and easy to care for)

I have tried to take illustrative photos for this post several times over the past year - the problem is my black pans against the black stove.  So I'll entertain you with my crisp prose, ok?

Why Cast Iron is Great
1.  HEAVY  - things cook better, more evenly than in thin pans.
2.  VERSATILE - Use cast iron pans anywhere there's heat:  stove top, oven, grill, campfire.
3.  HEALTHY - Adds iron to your food every time! Don't we all love fortified food?

How to Clean Your Cast Iron Skillet or Dutch Oven

4.  Get any saucy stuff out by swishing briefly with water.  If food was cooked on, gently use a wire brush, scrub brush, or steel wool.  The pan should be free of food.

5.  Set the wet pan on the burner and heat until the water evaporates from the inside - stick around and watch it (I have forgotten and come back to scary smoke!).

6.  Dip a rag or paper towel in grease (oil, shortening, lard, etc.) and rub it all over the inside of the pan.  It is now seasoned.

7. Using soap or soaking your pan in water will remove the layers of grease that are known as seasoning.  Just use plain water, heat, and grease to clean your pan.  Some things, like eggs, are not messy and you can just put your pan away again when it's cool - hooray for less cleaning!

8. These pans are basically indestructible and only get better and more nonstick with age.  However, if you are starting with a newly manufactured pan, use metal spoons when you cook and be sure to scrape around a lot.  The newer cast iron is bumpier, and your metal utensils kind of buff out the surface and give it better seasoning.  I know this from experience - I have 4 old pieces, and one new one.

9. I keep my cast iron in my oven drawer on a sheet of newspaper.  It leaves black smudges sometimes, so I keep it separate from my other pans in their pretty white drawer.

Talk to me about your cast iron - are you a fan?  Do you care for yours differently? Questions?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Breakfast, Genevieve in a New Pink Nightie

I made it with a pattern and pink striped flannel from Mrs. R.  But I really Grandma Weavered the size:  it was a size 2-3-4 pattern and Genevieve is almost 6.  I just cut it out bigger - not recommended, I know, but as this was a loose nightie, I thought it was worth the experiment.  Turns out, the nightie might be big enough for next year too.
It's pink.  It's not pants.  It has a kitty button.  Genevieve is very pleased.

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Kitchen Color is "Bright"

I was making fajitas for supper the other day - I turned, turned, turned and snapped these photos.

The main parts of my kitchen - floor, walls, cabinets, appliances - are rather neutral.

But everything else is little blobs of color.  I call these bright kitchen colors - is that how you think of kitchens? 

When I sew kitchen things like oven towels and hotpads, I gravitate towards bright kitchen colors.  I have to remember to sew some other colors for everybody else.  I made four new oven towels for the shop:  the same eye-popping combo on my new ironing board cover, another night kitchen series with retro flowers, a simple bright calico, and - for everybody else - an earth toned oven towel.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Service for 12

We're getting ready to be the host family on Sunday.  Due to broken plates, we no longer had service for 12.  

As an engaged couple, we were dumb-lucky enough to pick a pattern that is readily available online. My comparison shopping has consistently shown that Dansk is the best price around.

We only have one set of china on purpose, but what will happen when the children start really washing dishes?  And then, what will happen when the elders start passing on their beautiful old china?
And here's a new plate (no different from the old ones!) in my shiny new drying rack. 

The former drying rack was, like the china, from the beginning of my married life - but it was rusted through and deeply mildewed.

I kept putting off buying a replacement because I hated the thought of something that could only be junked, not rehabilitated. Well, the deed is done and not cheaply, either. I chose a drying rack that will not mildew or rust (right? right?), with the tray made locally by an Amishman. I hope this is my last dishdrainer, making it, in the end, a thrifty purchase.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Applesauce, Apple Chutney, Apple Crisp

Half bushel of apples:  $12.95 this year (it was $5 last year).  I again bought squash for the front porch, and cheap cheap cheap broccoli.

First I made a batch of apple chutney with extra jalapeno from Simply in Season - 6 pints.

Then I made 10 quarts of applesauce, and kept out a few apples for apple crisp.  I have it mastered for my family's taste - and we had some homemade butter pecan ice cream to put on it.  Yum.

And then my husband took apart the garden, and I had a counter crowded with green tomatoes and little green peppers.  I had been relaxed and luxurious about the apples, but the dang fruit flies took over the tomatoes, so I made a half batch of Country Style Sweet Relish, also from Simply in Season.  And I put about 1/3 cup of "optional" horseradish in it, can I get an amen? 8 half pints, 2 pints.

Now my canning cupboard is quite full.  Amen!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sunday Dinner: Cottage Potatoes

I had leftover baked potatoes in the fridge - usually I shred them and freeze them for hashbrowns.  This time, I used a recipe for Cottage Potatoes.  I've seen this recipe around a few times and at the end of the post is my take on it.  First, though, here is how I put together Sunday dinner:

Thursday:thaw ground beef in fridge

mix up Poor Man's Steak and spread in pan

Saturday:fry Steak
make mushroom sauce - pour over steak, back in fridge
put together Cottage Potatoes

Sunday morning:set potatoes and steak on timed bake

Sunday noon:
make green salad
set table

Cottage Potatoes, Thrift at Home Style

Mix together gently in large baking dish:

6 medium cooked potatoes, cubed (I don't peel them)
1 onion, diced
1/2-1 cup tasty cheese, but not too sharp, cubed
1 1/3 cup hearty bread cubes
2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary (or 3/4 Tbsp. dried)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Pour over:
3 Tbsp. melted butter

Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes.  Yesterday, I baked it at 300 for 1 1/2 hours alongside the Poor Man's Steak - and I forgot to cover it!  And it was fine.

Traditional recipes leave out the rosemary and add green bell pepper.  You can see how easy it is to tweak the flavors here.  It's a rustic, comforting potato dish and your house will smell fabulous.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Cleaning Windows, Trading Time

A friend and I are trading time and skills - I sewed some things for her, she is helping me with fall cleaning projects. 
I really really wanted sparkling windows before winter.  So nice to do them with a partner.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Happiness is. . .

a fat new bar of French lavendar soap. . .

pretty is the burpcloths I made for an old friend's new little baby sweetie girl. . .

funny is  Ben leading singing, but the really funny part is the songs he cobbles together and words he supplies. . . . Philadelphia Chickens meets "Jesus has forgiven me, the blood He shed on Calvary. . ."

real is our old car and how we counted down the miles to 200,000.  It turned over when Ben and I went 2 miles down the street to drop off a trunkload of styrofoam for recycling.