Wednesday, May 22, 2019

About That Kale

I appreciated everyone's suggestions for kale, and especially enjoyed Sue's opinion that she'd feed it to the rabbits and deer.  The only problem with that is that said critters think my yard is a smorgasbord already; I surely don't want to encourage them.

That said, I decided to go a different route and cook it up to go with our fish on Monday.

KALE WITH GARLIC

Kale - whatever you have
2 cloves garlic
1/2 lemon
touch of salt
olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a skillet or large saucepan.  Peel and coarsely chop the garlic (hey - I have the bulbs of fresh garlic; why not use them, despite the fact that the pre-chopped is easier to use?), and saute at medium heat until softened.  Cut the ribs out of the kale, and chop it into 1" to 2" pieces.  Add the kale to the skillet with a touch of salt - whatever amount you like - and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until it's bright green and soft.  Squeeze half a lemon over it, or the garlic will be overpowering.


Ryan said it was fine, but not as good as spinach, while Patrick vehemently disagreed and said it was much better than spinach.  Go figure; the man who wouldn't even try spaghetti squash really liked the kale.  The world is a confusing place.

So, having baked the spaghetti squash, steamed the artichokes and sauteed the kale, along with enjoying the requisite salads and really loving the fruit, I'm eagerly awaiting my next "ugly produce" box at the end of the week.  And it might even inspire me to remember to take pictures of food!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Ugly Produce

Last week, there was an article in the Wall Street Journal, which. as you all know, is my go-to for everything, about so-called ugly produce.  An enormous amount of food is wasted because it doesn't meet the cosmetic standards for retail sale, and the Journal profiled 3 companies which sell said produce directly to the consumer.  One even delivers right here in my little corner of the world!  I thought about it for a couple of days, then decided, "Why not?"

Misfit Markets has 2 sizes of organic produce box: the 10 to 12 pound and the 20 to 24 pound box.  Of course, I opted for the larger box.  And when I opened it up, this (not quite as blurry in real life) was what I saw:



There was an enormous amount of food included in that box.  I unpacked it under the supervision of one of my daughters and my son-in-law, and with the "help" of 2 year old Nora, who didn't want me to line things up on the table to see what was there.  Still, I did manage to get it set out, and this is the bounty I received for a total of $38.99:

Kale, 2 kinds of lettuce, onions, potatoes, garlic, apples, pears, mango, blueberries (which I had to feed to Nora right then), peppers (which I promptly gave to Chris and Cass to remove from my house), spaghetti squash, tiny little cucumbers.....

This is considered an "ugly" pear, presumably because of the wart.  I'm not gonna lie; it was pretty delicious.

I cooked the spaghetti squash Saturday night for dinner with the hungry horde.  Patrick refused to even try it (despite his girlfriend trying to feed it to him), and everyone else liked it.  Of course I didn't take a picture!  That might mean remembering to do things when my hungry horde is milling about, with 2 starving dogs in the mix.  Overall, I'm calling this experiment a success, even though I don't quite know what to do with kale....

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

The Sewciety

In October, after seeing a review by GMarie of a sample box she'd received, I signed up for a sewing subscription box from The Sewciety.  Each box includes a pattern with an amount of fabric appropriate to make said pattern, plus the thread and any notions needed to complete the project.  It also includes a small project, such as the little bag I sent to Maddie in November, potholders, things like that.  So, here's a rundown of the projects I've gotten and made from them.

October's box was an a-line tunic.  I made it as drafted, decided it made me look fat, and narrowed it with darts, adding a zipper to make it easier to wear.  Here it is in a gray fabric from them:


And here's the original blue fabric.  I love the fabric, but am rather indifferent to the pattern.  If I find a fabric I think will work well with it, I'll make it again; if not, eh....

November's box was another tunic.  It had an asymmetric collar, and I dithered for a long while before deciding to use some heavy white knit I had here for the collar, and add buttons for decoration.  I have to say that I hate cutting an entire front or back from a single layer of fabric, but I just love this pattern.  I would expect that I'll want to make more of this style next fall, when cold weather approaches.


December was another tunic.  The sleeves were a little odd, but I really liked this one, too.  I like the fabric, which is charcoal gray with a subtle floral print.  I'll probably make more of this next fall, as well.



January was a dolman sleeve tunic.  I made it, and felt like I was wearing a batwing suti.  Took out half the wing, still hated it, took one picture, and threw it into the donate pile. Let someone else like it or hate it.  I don't care.  The one good thing I have to say is that I didn't feel good about the pattern, so I used a fabric I had here, to which I was wildly indifferent.  I saved the fabric for something I did love.

February's pattern was "unmentionables".  Black unmentionables.  So, let's leave that unmentionable.

The March pattern was a sweater.  I looked at the pieces as I cut it out, and was horrified at how huge it was - and I was using the smallest size!  "What do they think a small person is, anyhow?" is pretty much what I thought as I worked on it.  It was a very fast and easy pattern.  The directions said the edges didn't need to be hemmed, but that doesn't work for me.  So I hemmed it.  And tried it on.  And liked it.

And then I made myself another in a lightweight white sweater knit that I purchased with one of my daughters and GMarie, in November of 2011 (I believe), at JoMar in Philadelphia.  It was well worth the wait to find just the right pattern for it.  I also made a red one for the relative in Denver, but forgot to take a picture of it before I sent it out.  She loves it, and red goes well with her dark hair and fair complexion.


The April pattern is for pants.  I don't wear pants, so I haven't even bothered to download it.  I'll probably use the fabric for skirts.

Overall, if I were on a tight budget, I'm not sure this would be a worthwhile subscription, mostly because I'm fussy about my clothing. (Yes, I know it isn't normal for someone to declare that they don't wear pants.  That's OK; if someone wants the pattern, let me know.)  But I've found new pattern designers I wouldn't have otherwise found, and I've loved every single piece of fabric that they've sent.  Plus, it's like I gave myself a present every month.  So that's nice.

I've done a lot of other sewing; it's been almost an obsession since the beginning of the year.  So look for more of that at some point.

Happy Weekending, everyone!

Friday, May 3, 2019

Introducing....

The newest member of our clan arrived shortly after midnight on Tuesday, April 30th.


At slightly over 7 pounds, she's double the weight of her big sister.  Big sister is quite certain that Baby Sister needs another blanket.  Always.  No matter how many blankets she may have, she needs "this blanket" too.  And Gamma is always allowed to hold her, which is very generous.

Mother and baby are very healthy, and happy to be home.  Of course, daddy and big sister are pretty pleased, too.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Easter Dinner

All of my sons were home for Easter, and none of my daughters were.  One daughter is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her second child, one was working, and the third, who lives 650 miles away, couldn't take enough time off to make the trip worthwhile.  But 6 sons would seem to be enough.

I made a boneless leg of lamb for Easter.  It was beautiful, it was large, it was delicious.  Easter dinner here is always on Saturday, so everyone can enjoy Easter morning and early afternoon with the family, and then go home as their schedules dictate.  It's been a tradition since the oldest started college, and it works well for us.


Our table looked underpopulated, but that happens hereabouts.  Still, I'll joyously take anyone who shows up.  And I might need to make a spring colored tablecloth.  The white one is a little boring.

And on Sunday morning,we held an Easter egg hunt for the 2 little ones who sere here.  Uncle Jeff hopped around, somehow managing to find but never actually collect, plastic eggs, and everyone had a fun filled morning.


I hope your Easters were filled with relaxation and fun.  And I hope the Bunny was good to you and yours.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Happy Easter!

I was fortunate enough to spend my Easter with 2 adorable little friends of the Bunny.

For a while Saturday, it looked like another grandchild was planning to make her way into the world, but after about 8 hours in the hospital, she decided to stay where she was.  Oh, well, I'll have to wait a while longer to meet Little Miss Somebody.

Happy Easter, everyone; I hope the Bunny was good to you!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Random Note....

Patrick is fine.  Let me start there.  But on Friday afternoon, in rain, on the interstate, traffic snarled, and he rear ended someone, and then was sideswiped himself.

This is what's left of my 2002 Lincoln Town car.  Obviously, it's completely wiped out.  He had to crawl into the back seat to get out the back passenger side door, because the other 3 are inoperable.

Patrick has not a scratch on him.  No aches.  No pains.  But he has vowed to be a more careful driver.

And that is why I am a firm believer in very large cars.  It is a happy weekend, the loss of a great car notwithstanding.  (Don't worry.  I have a gold twin to this one.)

Friday, April 12, 2019

Ratatouille!

Have you ever heard of The Great Courses?  They sell pre-recorded college level courses about a variety of wonderful topics ranging from lifestyle to history, physics and more.  In January, I received a sale catalog from them, and jumped with both feet into buying some of their courses on DVD.  One of them was The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering The Lost Art of Cooking.  Eh, why not?  I could use some refreshers.  And it's not like I think I'm a great cook; I've just been able to fake it for the last 40 years or so.

And this course has been terrific.Even when it's something I think I know, I've enjoyed having it presented to me such that I'm certain I've been doing it right for all these decades.

Lesson 3 Was about essential kitchen tools from pots to shears.  And what did we cook in that lesson?  Ratatouille.  I've heard of this for years, never had it, and never thought of making it.  But somehow, after seeing this lesson, I had to make it.  My version is a little different from the classical version, in that I don't eat peppers. And this guy doesn't give actual measurements, because he doesn't know how much you want to cook, so he's my kind of cook.  Here's my version, with my usual slipshod approximate measurements.

RATATOUILLE

Olive Oil (keep the bottle out; you'll need plenty)
1 onion, diced
1 eggplant, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes or tomato concasse*
4 cloves garlic
1 green zucchini
2 yellow squash
thyme and/or oregano, to taste
liquid from tomatoes, vegetable or chicken stock
salt
ground black pepper.

Using a large flat bottomed pan, pour olive oil in the bottom and saute the onion over medium heat until soft.  Add the eggplant, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often, and adding olive oil to keep the pan from drying out.  The chef instructor says "eggplant is very thirsty, so add more oil for it to absorb."  Add the tomato paste, stir it around and cook until it turns to brick red, then add the tomatoes, quartered.  Turn the heat down a little.  Peel the garlic and crush it with the flat of the knife, then coarsely chop it and add it to the pan.  Add the zucchini and yellow squash (and peppers, if you must, but not in my house, thank you) and herbs (fresh or dried, to taste), and liquid - just enough so the veggies won't stick and burn.  You might need to add more liquid as it cooks.  Simmer about 20 minutes, add salt and pepper to taste.  When the eggplant is very tender, it's ready to serve.  Add more fresh herbs to the top, if you're of a mind to do so, or just serve.  I served it with chicken breast and French bread, and even my veggie-hating Patrick had to admit it was good.  His vegetarian girlfriend raved about it for about 3 days.  And I made it again 2 weeks later, that's how good it was.


For tomato concassee:

Cut out the stem.  Cut a cross in the skin at the opposite end.  Drop them into a pan of boiling water.  The skin will start to peel away pretty quickly - in 15 to 30 seconds in my experience.  Take them out, drop them into ice water so they cool, and peel away the skin.  Then cut them in half and squeeze out the seeds.  Save the water to add to the ratatouille.  I did this the first time, then just used canned tomatoes the second time.  It was easier, and didn't taste any different.  Just sayin'.

And, for the record, in addition to learning to cook, I'm also going to learn to draw, play the piano, speak French, take pictures, paint, improve my vocabulary, and brush up on some history.  Oh, and math.  Don't hold your breath waiting; I'm not that ambitious.  But it's nice to know all these options are there when I need to keep busy.

Happy weekending, everyone!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Spring....

....although I might just jinx it using the name of the season.

Thatcher and I found these flowers peeking through the leaves and debris in our yard.

Crocuses....


...and snowdrops.  I think.

Thatcher promptly took up rolling in the crocuses, and then tried eating the leaves.  Silly boy.

Maybe more flowers will peek out soon.  The trees are breaking bud, which means that the buds will soon be dropping all over the cars.  Ugh.

And, if you care, we're still on baby watch.  She's due May 1, but who knows what will happen.  I'm ready to roll whenever I get the call.

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Ice Cream Toppings

Spring supposedly arrived last week, but it isn't very warm here yet.  Still and all, spring leads to thoughts of summer, picnics and....ice cream!  There's a farm about 5 miles up the street that sells its own milk products, and they make fabulous ice cream.  So I bought 3 half-gallons and took them to Shannon's non-shower baby shower.  Yes, my daughter is opposed to second baby showers, so we held a little family only party which was a non-shower.  And I showed you the presents I made a week or 2 ago.

What I didn't show you was the ice cream party I brought.  Shannon loves ice cream.  So I brought toppings to make it a party.  Lots of toppings.  Sprinkles, coconut, marshmallow bits, mini M&Ms and sauces.  (The little ice cream bowls with bundles of jelly beans were party favors.)


Here, 3 easy-peasy recipes for ice cream toppings that are better than commercial, without all the ingredients you can't pronounce.

CHOCOLATE SYRUP

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/16 tsp salt (just a tiny pinch)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, cocoa powder and salt with a wire whisk until well blended.  Stir in the water, bring it to a boil, and simmer for 5 minutes.  Turn the sauce off, remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.  Let it cool and jar it up, or use it hot over your ice cream.  It's also great to stir into milk, if you want chocolate milk without extra additives.  Makes about 3/4 cup.

BUTTERSCOTCH SYRUP

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp corn syrup
dash of salt
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon juice.

Combine the brown sugar, cream, corn syrup and salt over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Add the butter and continue to stir until the butter melts and the sauce reaches a boil.  Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes without stirring, them remove from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes.  Add the vanilla and lemon juice.  Makes about 3/4 cup.

STRAWBERRY SAUCE

2 cups frozen strawberries, thawed and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water
1 tsp lemon juice

Stir together the sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan, then add the strawberries and stir well to coat.  Add the water and cook over low heat until it boils, stirring occasionally.  Boil for one minute, then remove from the heat.  Add the lemon juice and stir well.  Makes about 1-1/4 cups.

I put these all in cutesy little jars, and received rave reviews about them.  Best of all, I made all 3 in under an hour, including cleanup in between batches and cooling time.  What can I say; this makes for a great ice cream party!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Another Birthday!

There are getting to be more of these.  My granddaughter Maddie turned 3, so they came to Gamma's house for a party.  Of course, there was marble cake, because what party would be complete without a cake?










The pictures are, of course, self explanatory: little girl having fun with her uncles and brother!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Sew Camp: Abbreviated Version

I had a dilemma this weekend.  Sew Camp was going on, but my son needed to come for my granddaughter's third birthday, which I couldn't possibly miss.  So, what did I do?  Go for the first 24 hours of Camp, of course!

I showed up without a sewing machine or projects, and GMarie gave me a piece of a lovely border print fabric and invited me to look through her patterns for something that said it wanted to be made from this print.  And this was the end result:


I took the scrap home with me, because, why not?  And then realized that I could make a mini of mine for Miss Maddie.

On Friday, we went to Fabric Mart.  I might have overbought.

Every piece is between 1 and 4 yards.  I calculate there's about 100 yards in total.  But I only spent $104, so I didn't really overbuy.  I feel lots of dresses for myself and my granddaughters in my future, along with maybe some skirts and tops.  I know I didn't need this much fabric, but I actually did need it. 

While I was there, GMarie also gifted me a fabric she'd bought for a doll outfit for her granddaughter, then decided against, so when I got home, I zipped through a little dress for Maddie's birthday (in addition to her Pooh dress).  What did the child think?  "EEEEE!!! It has pockets!!!!"  My daughter in law said she loves it when I make her clothes and things, so she'll probably get at least a dozen new pretty things by the time summer really arrives.

Oh, and when I got home, I discovered that we'd had 4" of snow, and my plow guy came through.  Absurd!  It was after March 21st.  Doesn't the sky know that we're only supposed to get rain now?

So, I'll probably post pictures of Maddie's birthday tomorrow.  Happy Monday, everyone!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Chipmunk Pie

Well, between squirrel jammies and chipmunk pie, it almost looks like I'm becoming a fan of furry little rodents here!  I promise you, I like them for the entertainment value they give Thatcher.  They're out in droves since it warmed up a little, and he is overjoyed to be outside chasing them.

Anyway....Chipmunk Pie, because some of you asked.  I found it in my United States of Pie cookbook that my dearly beloved urged me to buy after reading the review of it in the Wall Street Journal.  It's pretty good, and with an entertaining name like it has, how could anyone resist?

CHIPMUNK PIE

A single pie crust: store bought, or try mine, over there----->
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 baking apple, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2" cubes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts: walnuts, pecans, etc.

Use a 9" deep dish pie crust, or do as I do, and use a 10" pie plate so it doesn't boil over and stink up the kitchen.  Try my Best Pie Crust Ever, if you haven't already done so.  I promise, it lives up to its name.

In a medium sized bowl, beat the eggs, then add the sugars and vanilla extract and beat together.  Add the flour, powder and salt, beat lightly until combined.  Stir in the apple pieces and nuts.  Pour the filling into the pie shell, and bake at 350F for about 40 minutes.  It will puff up, with a nice crust on top, and deflate as it cools.
 






There's a hole in the center because I stabbed it to see if it was done, but I don't think that's necessary.  The marks you see in the top are the apples and nuts.

This is a great compromise between a custard pie and a fruit pie, and it sold really fast on Pi Day.  I can't believe I've never told you guys about it!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Squirrel Jammies!

(Note: not actually for squirrels.)

There's a little upscale thrift shop in our community center, and I like to drop in periodically to just pick up some little thing and leave them a few dollars.  It's not that I particularly want or need anything, although I did find some nice, plain, leather flat sandals there for $6 last summer before we went to the beach.  Anyway, I was in there a couple of weeks ago, and spotted some cotton knit.  It was over 3 yards (115", according to the tag) for $2.50.  It looked like little kid jammies to me, so I handed them my money and went to plan.


 (Of course the pattern won't show upright.  It always goes that way.)

The easy part was the grow bag for baby.  This time, I didn't make a hat; I'm just not that into hats.  And if she needs to wear a sleeping hat, the panda one is super soft.  Anyway, I made a squirrel grow bag.

I thought about putting on a contrasting pink snap, but ultimately went with the nicely matched green.

Then I had to figure out jammies for Nora, without a pattern  I sort of made a mashup of the panda dress pattern, altered to have long sleeves and cuffs, and hopefully be the right length over the tummy.  Then I took a pattern for leggins, widened it up just a touch, shortened it, added cuffs, and,.voila! Jammies!  And, if they don't fit, that's ok.  They can be donated for some smaller kid to wear.



I still have squirrel fabric left, so it might call me to become something else.  But meanwhile, I have some pretty green fabric that's calling my name....

This is the weekend of the baby welcome gathering....not really a shower, just the aunties and grandmas descending upon Shannon's house to celebrate the new little one.  Ice cream will be involved; that's how you'll know it's a party!

Happy Weekending, everyone!