Show us your Roosters Party!

Friday, August 28, 2009

It's Show us your Roosters Party day! Thank you to Barb at Bella Vista for hosting!

First I have a bit of a confession. From practical experience, I am not the biggest fan of roosters. Mostly that comes from being spurred by one ---- and the need to carry a broom for self defense when outdoors. Luckily, we don't currently live where we feel the need to keep a rooster for the safety of our hens.

Now as an objet d'art, I like roosters just fine but tend to lean more towards hens. I did find a couple to share though.

I love old-fashioned embroidery and scour garage sales for vintage patterns. I loved this pattern when I found it and decided to do it in redwork. I won't bore you with the entire set, but I thought I'd include the pattern in this picture. Oh, and the 39 cents is the original selling price.

The little bowl sits at my kitchen sink to hold the plugs and such. It looks like Pyrex/FireKing but it isn't marked on the bottom so I'm not sure what kind it is. I love it and have had it a long time.

And the lastly, my little rooster jam pot. Another garage sale find. I was really attracted to the color. Although I am a huge red fan, I liked that this was blue. Just a little different.

Tablescape Thursday

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'm participing for the first time in Susan's Tablescape Thursday. I don’t claim to be a tablescaper and I am always in awe of the beautiful tablescapes each week. I’ve set many a table and buffet in my catering career but rarely take the time to set anything too special at home. That said, last weekend we hosted a young woman from church for a light lunch. I pulled out some of my stuff and went to town setting a bit of a whimsical table for lunch.

I used a table scarf and napkins that I made and embellished with buttons from my old button jar. The fabric came from my quilt stash and I don’t think I paid more than about $1 a yard for it.

The centerpiece is some pillar candles (Wal-mart) set in some little vintage bowls that I had, surrounded by more buttons from the button jar, a shabby little tiered tray (I love that this is collapsible) and an antique salt & pepper set (I have a second set of these that has red tops….the tops are Bakelite). It is all is set on a crocheted doily that I made years ago.

I used Candlewick sherbets for serving Shrimp Salad stuffed Tomatoes, and Candlewick iced teas to serve iced tea.

My everyday Gibson, white dinnerware as a charger with some pretty sage colored salad plates (bought on clearance at TJMaxx) on which I served Cucumber Sandwiches, olives & pickles. The flatware is my everyday stuff.

This was fun!!

Tasty/Tempt Your Tummy Tuesday

Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Here it is Tuesday again! Thank you to Jen for hosting Tasty Tuesday and Lisa for hosting Tempt Your Tummy Tuesday.

Today I am sharing my biscuit recipe and tutorial. My family loves biscuits. I always try to make Sunday morning breakfast something yummy from the oven (muffins, scones, biscuits, etc.,) and biscuits with homemade jam is requested most often!

The Best Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder (use one without aluminum)
1 tsp salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
Approximately 3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat your oven to 450°F. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut the butter into chunks and cut into the flour until it resembles course meal. Add the buttermilk and mix Just until combined. If it appears on the dry side, add a bit more buttermilk. Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Gently knead 7-10 times. Cover and allow dough to rest for 5 minutes. Gently pat (do NOT roll with a rolling pin) the dough out until it's about 3/4" thick. Use a round cutter to cut into rounds. Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 10-12 minutes- the biscuits will be a beautiful light golden brown on top and bottom.

The Best Buttermilk Biscuits Tutorial

Skip buttermilk substitutes. Use real buttermilk. The dehydrated kind is good in a pinch but the best results come from buttermilk.

Make sure your baking powder and baking soda (or self-rising flour if that is what your recipe calls for) are fresh!

Preheat your oven. You want the oven to be completely preheated before the biscuits go in.

Prepare your ingredients and equipment in advance so that once you get started, you can work quickly and efficiently: cut your butter in small pieces and put it back in the fridge, measure out the buttermilk, flour the counter, get out the biscuit cutter and baking sheet.

Use very, very cold butter! Work the butter quickly into the flour so that it doesn’t have a chance to even think about melting! Use a pastry cutter and don’t be tempted to use your hot little fingers.

Use a large fork and stir lightly when adding the buttermilk. You just want to get the dough to a point where the flour is all clumped together, not a smooth dough!

Knead lightly 7-10 times. That is all. You aren’t kneading bread dough, you are simply finishing the mixing process with your hands. You do not want to develop gluten.

Pat your dough onto floured surface. Don’t pat out too thin (3/4 - 1 inch thick) and never use a rolling pin.

When cutting biscuits, use a sharp cutter and press straight down and up. Don’t twist! Twisting seals the edges, preventing a high rising biscuit.

If you want soft sided biscuits, place cut biscuits together on the baking sheet so that they are touching. If you prefer your biscuits a bit crunchier on the outside (like I do), spread them out so that they do not touch.

Don’t re-work the scraps. Since it is best to work the dough as little as possible, re-rolling the scraps results in a tough biscuit.

Thrifty Treasures

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thank you Rhoda from Southern Hospitality for hosting the Thrifty Treasures on your lovely blog!

Years ago I worked in a small bakery. I learned lots of things that have helped me in other pursuits. I enjoyed the work and always thought maybe someday I'd open a bakery of my own.

Forward years ahead....I soap. That means I make wonderful homemade soap. I enjoy doing it. At one point I sold at a large farmer's market but since our move to Nebraska a few years ago, I have only made it for family and friends. My youngest daughter has decided she would like to learn how to make soap and would like to sell at our farmer's market next summer to make money for a missions trip. So we have been brainstorming a bit. I mentioned that we just don't have the space in our new home that we had in our old one for curing tons to soap. In my brainstorming I said, we really need a bakery rack. We can cure tons of soap on that and it would take up little space.

All that to say that yesterday, she and I drove down a road that we never drive down and sitting on a lawn of a little white house, with a big *For Sale* sign was a BAKERY RACK...

with all the full sized pans. Isn't God good! I knew that the rack and pans were worth hundreds of dollars but I inquired and the asking price was $60.00. We scooped it right up. Now it is sitting in the garage and this next weekend we're back in the soap business!

Foodie Friday

Friday, August 21, 2009

I’m joining in (for the first time) on Foodie Friday today. A BIG thank-you to the gracious host, Michael @ Designs by Gollum (a BEAUTIFUL blog).

Tonight's supper will be an oldie but goodie for us. On the grill, shrimp and garden fresh zucchini and tomatoes and on the side, Garlic-Butter Orzo. The orzo recipe is one that I submitted and was included in Gooseberry Patch's 5 Ingredients Or Less. A well used cookbook in my kitchen. The orzo makes a great side to many dishes but this time of year I especially like it with shrimp and salmon on the grill.

Garlic-Butter Orzo
1 cup orzo pasta, cooked
2 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain. Place orzo in a serving bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat; sauté garlic until golden. Remove from heat; add lemon juice, stirring well. Pour over orzo; add parsley and toss.

Featured in Gooseberry Patch’s 5-Ingredients or Less

Book Review - Savoring The Seasons of the Northern Heartland

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Savoring The Seasons of The Northern Heartland (200 Recipes Blending Bold, New Flavors With The Traditional Food Of The Upper Midwest) By Beth Dooley and Lucia Watson.

There is a disclaimer on this review. I LOVE regional cookbooks. They are my favorites. We lived for many years in Minnesota (our oldest son still lives there). I love the land and the people of Minnesota. So, with that in mind, I (being a very biased reviewer) LOVED this book. The book contains more than 200 seasonal recipes from the upper Midwest--Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, and North Dakota. It includes delicious old-fashioned recipes that reflect the immigrant mix (Scandinavian, German, Eastern European, Scottish, and Welsh) of the upper Midwest, as well as charming old pictures, stories, and oral history from local residents. The recipes are a mix of old, hearty fare and updated, intriguing culinary creations that tell the story of the farmers and millers who settled this land and came to make it home. This book was published in 1994. After checking it out of our public library, I was able to find a copy on ebay.

Earlier this week we had a meal from this book. The recipes were simple, the food delicious. No better review than that!


The dry rub in this recipe is made with spices and salt that penetrate the meat with flavor. It's also delicious used to flavor larger cuts of beef, pork, and lamb.
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon dried thyme or 1/4 cup chopped fresh
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 thick premium loin pork chops (10 ounces each)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon each, butter and olive oil or just olive oil

In a coffee grinder, spice mill, or blender, process the bay leaves, pepper, garlic, thyme, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom until completely blended. (The bay leaves will not be totally crushed.) Rub the chops with the olive oil, then rub the spice blend over all the chops. Cover and set aside for about 30 minutes to 1 hour at room temperature. Sear the chops in a butter/oil in a heavy skillet over high heat about 3 to 4 minutes per side, until they are golden brown. Place the chops on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 400 for about 30 minutes, or until the juices run clear.


3 strips bacon or 2 Tbsp butter or vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium head red cabbage, shredded (I used green)
½ c cider vinegar
2 tart apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
½ c apple cider
4 whole cloves
½ c sugar
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large, deep skillet, fry bacon (or if using oil or butter, heat over medium heat). Leave drippings in the pan and drain the bacon on paper toweling. Crumble the bacon and set it aside for garnish. Saute the onion in the fat until limp and brown. Toss the shredded cabbage with the vinegar, then add this along with the remaining ingredients except salt and pepper, to the pot and simmer, uncovered until the cabbage is tender, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve garnished with bacon crumbles.


2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 c brown sugar, light or dark
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1-1/2 sticks butter
1 c lightly toasted, chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp grated fresh gingerroot
Juice of 1 lemon
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1-2 Tbsp cornstarch, depending on how juicy the fruit is
¾ - 1 c sugar, depending on how sweet the fruit is
4-6 c fresh chopped fresh fruit or berries (I used pears and blueberries)

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon, then work in the butter and walnuts to make a course meal to be used as topping. In another bowl, mix together the ginger, lemon juice and rind, cornstarch, sugar, and fruit, Turn the fruit mixture into a 2-quart baking dish or a 9-inch-square baking pan or 6 to 8 individual ovenproof serving dishes, and cover with the topping mixture. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for about 20 to 35 minutes, or until the topping is crisp and brown and the fruit is bubbly.

Traditions, Celebrating Day-To-Day

Friday, August 14, 2009

I really had a hard time deciding what to share today for Marie’s Traditions, Celebrating Day-To-Day event (thanks Marie for hosting). I really love the idea of *traditions*. Rituals that you return to again and again. I even went to the dictionary and looked up the word traditions (the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation). I like that. That feels like who I am….a TRADIONALIST. I like that title. All that said, I’ve used restraint and picked only 3 traditions to share with you today.

My nest is ½ empty (2 of my 4 children are grown) and that really drives home that the time with the 2 teens still at home is ticking away. We have always observed a *Family Night* but now were are even more careful to put set boundaries around this tradition. Every week, on Saturday nights we plan a fun (everyone helps prepare) supper, then it is either a movie or games. Last week we saw the most wonderful film (The Fox and the Child). Lots of laughing, chatting and just enjoying the company of each other.

The next tradition I wanted to share is regarding birthdays. We were never ones who did big birthday celebrations. Just family (I always figured who wanted to celebrate your birth more than the family you were gifted to). The birthday boy or girl gets to choose the menu for dinner that day (some predictably choose the same thing each year while others change it up and get very creative), choose their birthday treat and basically get the royal treatment all day long.

Lastly, I wanted to tell you about a special tradition we started when our children were small. We try really hard to keep Christmas about Christ. We decided to observe the 3 gift policy to represent the 3 gifts received by the Christ-child. The children were always very careful what they asked for since they knew there would be only 3 gifts under the tree for them. Many of those gifts have become cherished treasures.

And Grandma (my Mom, who cherished a special ornament given to her by her grandfather) decided to gift each child an ornament each year at Christmas. This has turned out to be something very special and each child has a lovely box of ornaments that are full of memories when they start celebrating Christmas in their own homes.

Seasonal Goodness

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Seasonal Goodness

Before I get to the real subject of this post (tomatoes), I wanted to mention the wonderful St. Libory, Nebraska melons. They are the best and have just now come into season. My dear friend, Rose (her husband is a 2nd generation melon farmer), who had no idea I was writing about seasonal goodness today, stopped by with melons for me. I am so blessed by her kindness. We will enjoy every morsel. Thanks, Rose!
Now, on to the main event, lol!


In my world, there's no such thing as too many tomatoes. I cannot get enough of them when they are in season. Once tomato season is over, I’m hard pressed to buy them because they simply don’t taste like tomatoes. Because of that, I try to preserve some of that summer goodness for the dreary days of winter. Tomatoes show up in all sizes, colors and varieties these days. We have especially enjoyed the varied heirloom tomatoes that are now available although I have to either grow them myself or, if I’m lucky, find them at the Farmer’s Market.

Here are a few ideas to get the most of the season's bounty:

My favorites include BLT’s (they appear often for lunches and suppers in late supper) and sliced tomatoes on toast (my all time favorite breakfast).

Use sliced (or diced or wedged, etc.) tomatoes in omelettes, risotto, quiches, salads and on pizza, sandwiches and just on a plate with a little pepper.

Make bruschetta, salsa, gazpacho, stuffed-tomatoes (either baked or caprise), tomato salads, tomato soup, etc.

For preserving, the obvious choice is to can or freeze them. Home-canned tomatoes are wonderful. But don’t stop there. You can also can/freeze tomato juice, homemade ketchup, chili sauce, marinera sauce, salsa, tomato jam, tomato soup, etc.

A couple more ways I like to preserve that wonderful tomato flavor is to make:

Roasted Tomatoes:
Core tomatoes; cut round ones in half horizontally; cut plum tomatoes in half lengthwise. Place on a baking sheet, cut sides up. Drizzle with ¼ - ½ cup of good olive oil and a slight sprinkling of sea salt. Roast in a 250°F oven for 1-2 hours. Cool and refrigerate along with the oil. These freeze well and are a great addition to sauces, salsas and pizza. Use the oil for dipping bread into.

Dried Tomatoes:
I “sun-dried” tomatoes years ago and decided it was more trouble than it was worth. After all, all dried tomatoes pretty much taste the same, sun or no sun. Now I either use a dehydrator or if I have tons, I use my oven. I also stick with Roma type tomatoes. Very meaty and less moisture to dehydrate. Just cut in half, sprinkle with a tad of sea salt and dry in a low oven (I set mine on the “warm” setting), watching that they don’t brown. Store in the freezer.

When all else fails, pick them green and make fried green tomatoes!

Below is a recipe for a Tomato Tart this is out of this world good.

Roasted Garlic Tomato Tart

1 head garlic
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup grated Fontina cheese
ripe tomatoes (about 4), sliced 1/4 inch thick (use different colored ones if you have them)
salt and pepper
fresh basil leaves
Pastry for a single pie

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roast the garlic with 1 tbsp of oil in a foil package for about 45 minutes. Garlic will be golden brown and easily pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and set aside.

Rise oven temp. to 450'F. When garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves out of their skins and mash them in a a bowl, set aside.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out your pastry dough to a 13 inch round, about 1/8 thick. Fit the dough into a 10 inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom, pressing the edges. Using a rolling pin or a sharp pairing knife, trim the dough flush with the top edge of the tart pan; chill tart shell until firm, about 30 min. If you don’t have a tart pan, you can do this rustic fashioned. Just roll out, and assemble as below, keeping the ingredients in the center 2/3rds. Fold over edges and bake as instructed.

Spread roasted garlic on the bottom of tart shell. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of cheese. Arrange tomato slices in a overlapping circular pattern on top of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Add remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and drizzle with 2 tbsp oil.

Reduce oven temp. to 425°F and bake for 45-55 minutes. Tomatoes should be soft but still hold their shape. Cool for 20 minutes, sprinkle with torn basil leaves.

Tasty/Tempt Your Tummy Tuesday

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Again, thanks to the lovelies for hosting Tasty Tuesday and Tempt Your Tummy Tuesday!

I gave up on commercially prepared cereals a long time ago. We enjoy many hot cereals but love to have Granola to switch things up. My favorite treat these days is yogurt with a couple tablespoons to granola on top. YUM! This week I made a big double batch since we will be going to stay in a cabin at Lake Superior over Labor Day. This will make great energizing breakfasts and snacks.

These are my 2 favorite recipes. Remember that you really want to add the ingredients that you will enjoy. Many times I add dried cherries, blueberries or chopped apricots.

Apple-Cranberry Granola
6 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1- ¼ cups frozen apple juice concentrate
½ cup wheat germ
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup sweetened coconut
1-1/2 cups sliced almonds
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup dried cranberries
½ cup raisins
½ cup golden raisins
In a large bowl combine the first nine ingredients until thoroughly mixed. Spread evenly over two slightly greased 13x9 baking pans. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Stir gently and bake for 15 minutes more until golden. Watch carefully so that granola on the bottom doesn't burn. When slightly cooled add cranberries and raisins. Store in an airtight container (glass is best) or freeze.

Cherry-Almond Granola
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1-1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/8 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cherries
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, seeds and brown sugar. In a separate bowl, combine honey, butter, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color. Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add cherries and mix until evenly distributed. Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks or freeze.

Book Review - The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery

Monday, August 10, 2009

Anyone who isn't familiar with Foxfire, should take a few moments to look over this site The Foxfire Fund. Such a wealth of information. Years ago I found a website (which is now gone) that had all the old Foxfire magazines published on it. At that time, I scoured that site and printed reams of stuff to read and implement later. I learned so much and was so taken with the folks who contributed to these articles. Maybe I read too much Christy when I was a girl but I was very taken with the Appalachian people. Still am.

Last week while I was shopping our local public library (as a homeschooling family, I learned long ago that we love too many books to own them all, so I only purchase books that really are *keepers*), I found The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery. What a wonderful book! Very much the same feel as the magazine and the *folks* are well showcased. Simple recipes for simple dishes. I just loved this book and will be adding it to my personal library.

I'm sharing what I baked from the book yesterday for breakfast. Just wonderful with our homemade strawberry jam.

Scottish Scones

2 cups self-rising flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
½ c milk (I used buttermilk)
¼ c butter
1 egg, beaten
Mix together dry ingredients, blend in liquids, and knead with additional flour. Flatten to one inch and cut out into approximately 12 scones. Bake 10-12 minutes at 450 degrees. Serve with butter and preserves.

Tasty/Tempt Your Tummy Tuesday

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Thank you to the lovely hostess's of Tasty Tuesday & Tempt Your Tummy Tuesday. This is my first time participating. Our church is hosting a missionary family this week and the ladies are providing their suppers. It's my turn! So my menu is Cornbread Stuffed Pork Chops, Sugar Snap Peas, Romaine Salad (with garden fresh tomatoes and my homemade ranch-style dressing)and homemade rolls. I wanted to try something new for dessert and had a hard time deciding. I finally decided to try Paula Deen's Mountain Dew cake. I love anything lemony and figured with the hot temperatures we're having it would be refreshing. That will be served with some fresh strawberries. I made 2 so that we can have some for dessert today too.

Makes 1 Bundt cake
1 (18.25-ounce) box lemon cake mix
1 (3.4-ounce) box lemon flavored instant pudding mix
1 (12-ounce) can Mountain Dew soda
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 10-cup Bundt pan. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix. Add soda, oil and eggs. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.