Friday, November 17, 2017

French Bread!

Lately, I've been making loaves of French Bread for our dinner starch.  And it has been wonderful.  The secret? It's butter topped.  And hooray for me!  I figured out how to make just enough for 3 of us, with a little left for toast in the morning, or for Ryan to have a sandwich.

FRENCH BREAD

2/3 cup warm water (about 110F)
1 tbsp yeast
1 tbsp gluten powder
2 cups flour, plus extra if necessary
1-1/5 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp butter, melted

Put the water in your bowl or bread maker bucket; sprinkle the yeast over it.  Add the gluten powder and flour, then the salt, olive oil and honey.  Mix according to my directions over there------>
After kneading, let rise for 15 minutes, then punch down on a floured counter, roll out into a flat sheet about 1/2" thick or so, the length of your baking sheet, and roll it up into a cylinder.  Place it on a greased baking sheet (optional: sprinkle corn meal on the sheet before you put the loaf on it), and slice diagonally across the loaf about 1/4" deep, maybe a dozen times.  Then brush your melted butter on top of the bread, making sure to get plenty into the cuts!  Let it rise another 15 to 20 minutes, and then bake at 375F or 350F for a convection oven, for 18 minutes.

Ryan and my dearly beloved only want this bread these days, so that's got to tell you something, right?

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Chairs

So, recently, I threw out a couple of 30 year old, beat-to-crap sofas - hey, decades of kids leaping on a sofa will do that.  They were in my upstairs hall, which is actually about 6 feet wide, with wider spaces at each end.  So I decided to replace them with a pair of chairs and a table at each end of the hall.  I bought all of the chairs secondhand, so I had two pairs.  They were kinda butt ugly and a little beat up, but still very solid.  So I covered the scratches with a liberal application of Old English Furniture Polish (it contains stain), and I got the first pair reupholstered - it was the uglier pair.

After polishing up, but before repadding and recovering the seat:

The finished product:

And these are the chairs that have yet to be reupholstered.  They are much more ornate; this is how they look in their permanent position.  The seats don't exactly match, but they're not as bad as the others.  Can you believe I paid only $100 for the pair?

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Thanksgiving Planning!

Surely you didn't think I would miss posting this, given my terrible track record of posting actual food this year?  I know I've been neglectful, but that doesn't mean there hasn't been food, just that there hasn't been inspiration.

Thanksgiving is always inspirational, of course, if for no other reason than the sheer scale of it.  As it stands now, I will have at least 18 real people plus 3 babies, and possibly as many as 24 real people plus 3 babies.  Yes, I know babies are people, but they're cute, not fussy, and don't care what you feed them.  Line my table with babies, please....

My oldest son and his wife are taking their kids to her mother's house down south, so they're stopping here the weekend before Thanksgiving for 2, 3 or 4 days (see? everything's fluid around here).  And Patrick is leaving Arizona on the redeye Friday night, so he'll be here Saturday morning.  Accordingly, my menu planning starts a week early, and includes an early feast.

 The "week of" is stuffed, too; the number beside the date includes my estimated census.  It could increase by 2 to 7 people, depending upon the day, between Sunday and Wednesday.

Note my little "to do" list at the bottom.  Ambitious, right?  Or maybe just stupid, or stupidly wishful.  I'm not sure.

And, the list I know you all love to laugh at: What Will Marjie's Restaurant Supply House Bring?  Start with 2 jumbo fresh turkeys and let your imagination run wild.

(Preview of the turkey bibs: cut out, but not really there):

Happy Weekending, everyone! Get ready for that turkey!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Pam's Braised Chicken Thighs

It's been so long, I'll bet you thought I don't even cook any more!  Well, I do, it just isn't....memorable? inspiring? I don't know, it just isn't.

But last week, I found Pam's recipe for braised chicken thighs.  Of course, I had to change it, because I'm not a one-pot kind of girl.  So here's my take:

BRAISED CHICKEN THIGHS WITH GRAPES

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1 onion
2 carrots, sliced thin
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup water whisked with 2 tbsp cornstarch
2 cups red seedless grapes
1 cup rice (I used Royal Rice blend)
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups water

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, add the onion, and brown the chicken thighs on both sides.  Remove from the pan, add the vegetable broth (or 2 cups water plus 2 tsp vegetable base), and heat to a boil, stirring to loosen the browned chicken and onion bits from the pan.  Add the water/cornstarch mix, and stir together until thickened.  Stir in the carrot, add the chicken back to the pot, and cook until the chicken is done.  Meanwhile cook the rice with salt and water for about the last 20 minutes of the chicken's cooking time; add some butter when it's done if you wish (but that is absolutely not necessary with this chicken sauce).  Add the grapes to the chicken mixture for the last 5 minutes of cooking, just enough time to heat them through.

Pam's way is easier, but mine is good for those of us who don't like our foods to touch.  This was so good that I've actually made it twice, and it's on the schedule for Pre-Thanksgiving week.  Yes, that's a thing.  And, yes, I've begun making the schedule.  And, yes, I will be cooking 2 Thanksgiving dinners.  Updates soon.

Meanwhile, Happy Thursday, everyone!  Stay warm!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Voting In Snow

So, this fall has been on the warm side: 50s, even some days in the 60s.  Imagine my surprise when I went to vote yesterday, and this was going on:


Of course, we all went to complete our civic duty, Beloved, Ryan and me.  One old lady there told me she misses when my kids were little and would stop during their walk home every day to play with her dog, Bridget.  I miss when my kids were little, too....but it's a great feeling to know that people in town still think well of them.

And, just in case you need a dose of cuteness, how about Nora last weekend, ramming around in our walker?  She's only 7 months old, and can't balance herself well, but she's sure she can walk.  Someone just has to hold her up.  Isn't that why Grandma has a walker?  No, silly, not that kind....

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Speaking of Halloween...

The last time each of our grandchildren came to visit, their moms brought their Halloween costumes.  I never dressed up my babies, but I guess things are different these days.  Anyway, they're adorable, aren't they?

Nora as a narwhal:


Maddie and little Five as dragons:

Flowers Shannon picked me from my own yard:

OK, so those aren't even children.  But my dearly beloved and Ryan both howled about her "dead sticks!"  I thought it was pretty funny.  Who knew there were still flowers blooming in the chily northeast during the last weekend of October?

And, speaking of October, Mark's 18th birthday was last Sunday.  Can you believe my baby is 18?  Of course, he was at college on his birthday, but we celebrated when he was home for fall break.  You don't think he would be allowed to NOT celebrate, do you?

 He told me he didn't want a cake, so I told him I'd make him a fish instead.  "As long as it's frosted and decorated, Mom, that's fine."

I wonder if having a frosted Birthday Fish is going to become a trend?

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Bebop Says: Happy Halloween!

So, Cass got Bebop a costume.  Isn't he the cutest lion ever?

On another note, I was very proud of Ryan Sunday night.  He got a call from a friend who doesn't drive whose dog was in extreme distress around 8PM.  He raced over there and took the friend and his dog, a standard poodle mix, to the emergency vet, who diagnosed the dog with a torsion.  They sat together through the surgery, and Ryan took his friend home after they told him his dog had come through the surgery fine.  Raising a kid who will sit with his buddy until midnight when he knows he has school on Monday, and therefore save a beloved pet, is the hallmark of a great guy.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Bibs

Did I tell you about the baby shower my girls and I threw for our friend Greg's daughter in law?  She was expecting their first child, a baby boy, due on my birthday.  We came up with a dinosaur theme, and Shannon's creative brain went to town.  Ever seen a nest of dinosaur eggs?  Me, neither.  But, thanks to Shannon, now we all have seen one.
 

I made the party favors, tiny mason jars filled with blue and yellow jelly beans, with dinosaur fabric and bows on the top, and a banner of flags from the same fabric.  Then there was some left, so I made 4 bibs, using a pattern gifted to me by GMarie.
 I even made the ties from the same fabric.  Pain in the rump, turning those skinny strings.

I only gave 2 to the new arrival; I kept one for Nora, and one for little Mike V.  Isn't he an adorable model?  He was 3 months and 6 days in this picture.

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Book Sale!

Jeff called me at 11PM Friday, and said, "Don't shut off the lights!  I'm coming home for the weekend!"  He and his entourage arrived about 1:30 AM, snacked on some leftover roast beef, and a fun weekend had begun.  Jeff was babysitting for Bebop while his girl was away at the Grand Canyon, so poor Bebop spent the weekend sulking.

 On Saturday, Jeff, Ryan and I went to the book sale.  Tank had to go for the ride; it was Tank's Jeep we drove, after all.  OK, technically, Jeff pays for the Jeep, but if you talk to the dog, it's his car, and he gets to go for the ride.  Jeff hooked Tank's leash to a loop on the roof of the Jeep, and just left the back window open so Tank could talk to everyone who passed by him.  Not that he talks much; I have only heard him bark when the doorbell rings.

Tank was very happy to see us when we got back with our books. 

I only bought 4 novels and one cookbook for myself; I was very restrained.  Of course, I bought a couple of books to send to others.

So, that was our weekend!  Sunny and 70 degrees, a book sale, and a private dog park for my favorite black German Shepherd!  It was a lot of fun!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The First Red Tree

When I went out to get my paper the other morning, one of our small maple trees had turned a brilliant red.  It was a beautiful contrast to the other trees, even on an overcast day.

 This one is taken from the other side of the wall with the gate in it.  Maybe my view of a small tree is a little biased.
 Aren't the clouds in this sky nice?  Even better than the color of the trees.
 Yes, I was right.  The maple is a small tree.
Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Garden Tuesday: The Beginning of Fall

Last Saturday, as I walked to the street to retrieve my local paper and Wall Street Journal., I found to my delight that the cluster of white pines next to the street had shed its needles, covering the ground with one of my favorite things.  I've always loved soft, warm pine needles, and I've been enjoying them all week.

Of course, this is just the beginning of autumn's color change ritual, but it's an often overlooked part. It's been quite cool this week: starting to feel like the cold weather will come....soon.

Happy Garden Tuesday, everyone!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Visitors

For 10 days, through last week, I had the ever charming Maddie and her little brother, affectionately called "5" by his uncles, while my son went to Nova Scotia for a symposium or meeting or something-or-other (I try not to remember; he's always busy) and then a couple of days down-time.  "Of course I'll keep the little ones!" You all can just hear me saying that, right?  Yeah, and they're planning another visit to Camp Grandparents in January.  Fun, fun.


Talking to her brother.  It looks like he's sharing the Cheerios, but, trust me, nothing could be farther from the truth.  He's just barely allowed to look at her.
 Brushing her hair with her great-great-great grandmother's brush.  This is actually a sterling clothing brush from around 1900, but the bristles are so soft that with a little shampoo, it was perfect for baby hair brushing.
 And while Little Miss brought her own toys, and had some of ours, she ultimately found Grandma's toys in the cupboard.  They make a great tower, don't you think?  Grandma was really unreasonable and wouldn't let Maddie play with the glass jar of marinated artichoke hearts; she mumbled stupid things like "Oh, that can break."  Stupid Grandma.

And, last weekend the girls and I threw a baby shower for Erin, the bride from about 7 years back.  Her baby is actually due on my birthday, but since it's supposed to be a boy, they won't be naming it after me if he arrives on his due date.  I can live with that.  To be fair, when I say we threw a baby shower, I mean that I paid, and made the favors, and the girls did about everything else.  The theme was dinosaurs, and look at this wonderful dinosaur nest, complete with eggs, that Shannon made!

So, I'm going to try to get back here more often; I'm even trying to figure out how to cook for only 3 people, without too much in the way of leftovers.  The jury's still out on my success there.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!