Monday, December 29, 2014

10 Pins in 10 Days. 2. Hoodie Hat

This is the hoodie in my sewing pins. It's reversible and the "scarf" part folds up to cover your face. The first one that I made was child size so I added 2" to the front of the pattern and made it for my sons' girlfriend. It's a pattern from +craftsy and not hard to follow. If I had gotten in to it earlier I would have made several to pass out for Christmas.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

10 Pins in 10 Days. 1. Veggies that regrow and compost.

I decided that it was about time I go through my pins from +pinterest and try some of them out. Kinda a cleaning house type idea. I decided to start with two that fit the season. I do a lot of cooking for the holidays so I have a lot of veggie scraps. This is celery and scallions. I cut off the greens and put the root ends into alittle water in a mason jar.  I will update this post when anything happens.
I keep a small pail in the kitchen beside the coffee maker. All of our grounds, tea bags and veggie scraps go into on the way to compost. This time of year it can fill up more than once a day so I decide to adapt the trenching compost idea to fit me.

In my flower garden right outside the kitchen I have some spaces that are for things that I dig up in the fall and thought this would make the perfect place to try this out. After I took this picture I dug more holes and used that dirt to cover what I had already dumped. This another one that I'll have to update as I see how it works out.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Brined Christmas Turkey!

 I love to brine a turkey for the holidays. This years Christmas turkey I think was one of the best. I have to admit that it is a store bought one, but it does wonders if you are butchering you own. (we did for Thanksgiving) 
In a large pot mix 1gal of water with 2c of salt
Add 1c brown sugar, a palmful of black pepper, 5 sprigs fresh rosemary(or a couple T of dried), and a handful of fresh thyme. Simmer and stir just to dissolve salt and sugar. Add 1gal of cold apple juice. Let this cool completely.
Place your turkey into a pot large enough to hold it and the brine. (a bag lined bucket works just fine) Pour the brine over top. You have to have enough brine to cover the bird. A ziplock bag filled with ice and laid on top will keep the brine cold. If you have fridge space for it, even better. The ice will need replaced as it melts but the bag makes this easy and will keep the melting ice from diluting your brine.
I like to give mine 3 days, but anything over 24hrs will make a difference. The night before I plan to cook it I mix 2c butter with 2T thyme and 1T rosemary. You can roll this up like cookie dough and put it in the freezer overnight. When ready to cook, set out butter mix, rinse turkey well and pat dry. (Place in pan) Slice your butter mix into coins. If you wiggle your fingers around carefully you can get between the skin and the meat of the breast and thigh and place the coins in the spaces. ( find this easier than trying to smush soft butter in) I stuff my turkey with 1 apple and 1 onion quartered.
Smear the outside of the bird with plain butter. I like to melt any of the butter mix that's left and inject it into the leg, thigh and breast. Place into an oven preheated to 425' for about 40 min. or until the skin starts to turn golden. Turn the oven down to 325', and tent with foil. Ours was 12lbs and cooked about 5 hours. Baste every half hour or so.
About half an hour before it's done take the foil off and let the skin finish browning. Check temp with a meat thermometer. I quit at 160'. Set the turkey out to rest for at least half an hour. The meat just fell off the legs and thighs and the breast was amazingly juicy.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Worse than the kids...

I LOVE CHRISTMAS! All the surprises and family get togethers but, I have a problem. When I know that I've gotten someone a great gift I'm bad to give it up, and I get as excited as the kids when it comes to presents.  I happened to be with my husband when he got me this adorable little speaker man for my desk. I told him I just wanted to make sure that it worked, then I would wrap it and put it under the tree. I may have cheated alittle. I wrapped it in a way that I can get it out and play with it while he's at work and then tuck it back under the tree.  LOL. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Let them eat cake.

November and December are busy months for us. We have 6 birthdays and Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. For birthdays the family all gets together and the person of the day tells me what they would like for supper and what kind of cake. We do alot of steak, ribs and lasagna, but this time I got a surprise request for chinese and a vanilla cake. Sooo, general tso's chicken, spring rolls, beef rice and noodles with broccoli it was. The problem was the cake! As a cook, I'm a tinkerer. I seldom make anything the same twice. A vanilla cake just goes against all of my instincts. lol. Then I made it mine.
I made a white cake mix, 2x8inch pans and poked holes it them with a straw. Over each I poured half a can of condensed milk. After it had time to soak in alittle and the cakes were cool, I piped alittle vanilla icing, added a layer of nilla wafers, alittle more icing and then the second cake on top.
Some more icing on top and tada!
The chinese recipes I just looked up, but as a side note, egg roll wrappers are a great staple in your pantry. I've wrapped everything from rabbit and rice to turkey and stuffing in them and always gotten a great response. They are just a great little crisp wrapper for so many things. BBQ, fruit.....get your oil to about 350 and keep an eye on them. They don't take long but it does depend on what you have in them. Once they're golden take them out and place on paper towls to let any extra grease drain off. Even though they tend to get a little soggy by the next day, they are still really tasty to send for lunches.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Re-love it!

I'm lucky to have a great set of inset shelves in my kitchen. I also have a "collection" of canning jars that I love to use for storing everything like rice, beans, dehydrated veggies and mixes like taco seasoning and italian dressing. When I'm canning and end up with more than a meal left, but less than is worth starting the canner, I stick it in the dehydrator. Potatoes, corn and onions are my usuals. I also use the bottom shelf to set out some of the stuff that I have canned. Soups, broths and veggies that we use alot.
Amy Dacyczyn has a wonderful book called "The complete Tightwad Gazette". It has sooo many great ideas for how to use what you have and how to buy what you need to be useful in a long term manner. I love it for the recopies for things like taco seasoning, mix and match muffins, and casserole 'starter' ideas. These are all things that fit into the way that I like to cook. Have the staples in your cabinet and instead of deciding what you want for supper and running to the store, you look in you pantry and see what you have that would make a meal. Sometimes I even switch it up and decide what pan I want to use and then plan a meal around it. Funny yes but it keeps me from getting into a rut. I have a collection of cast iron, enamelware and crocks that I love to cook with.
This is about half of my iron. Cooking herbs in the cabinet and medicinal and tea herbs on the little shelves. Most all of mine are old (iron, I mean). I love the feeling of being connected to women of the past that had these and were proud of it. They have fed families for years and years. I think we live in a wonderful time of 'I can try, and learn, without the fear of my family starving if I don't succeed at first. I garden, we butcher, I preserve, and every time it's a learning experience. How to do it  better, faster or get more out of it.I
  love the challenge though!

Rise and Shine!

For those of you that have, will have, have had or have a fear of.... teenagers. This is the same general  look that I get from them when I wake them up for.....anything!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Grimm Acres Christmas party

For the kids Christmas party we made pizza and watched a movie. With 5 young people and 4 adults we had an expansive pizza bar. lol  Everything from pineapple to olives, refried beans and Doritos, ham to pepperoni. This is a picture of mine. Super supreme...alittle of everything, (except pineapple). Taco pizza was a winner, bacon and pineapple was really good and of course a regular pepperoni. Grimm Acres raises Heritage livestock and lucky for me I get the benefit of access to fresh pork, beef, and chicken. And my we found a great deal on premade crusts.
The only problem with a pizza party like this is when its done you have all the leftover toppings. Meats and cheeses of course could go in the freezer but what do you do with the veggies....Make omelets of course! I took all of the veggies and mixed them together, my son isn't a fan, and put all the meats into ziplock bags. Tonight for supper I broke out the little cast iron skillets and made personal baked omelets. My husband and I like them supreme style, onion, ham, mushroom, (except pineapple). Son is a sausage and cheese fella. This is a great easy dinner idea anytime. All you HAVE to have is eggs. All kinds of leftovers could be mixed in.
All you do is set the oven to 350, mix eggs and a splash of milk. Add whatever ingredients that you like and alittle salt and pepper. Pour into an oiled cast iron skillet. I like the spray oil for this. Bake until the top of the eggs looks nearly cooked but just short. Set out to cool for 5 to 10 min. depends on how many eggs you use.
After the second night I put anything thats left into a ziplock bag and freeze for myself later.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Crock Pot Lasagna

Crock pot lasagna is so easy and nearly fool proof. I use this same recipe when we camp. In a dutch-oven, set near the fire or on top of some coals. Sometimes I go with the ricotta, sometimes I use cottage cheese. This time I didn't have enough of either so I dug around in the fridge and found a package of tofu. I mixed it just like ricotta, Italian herb mix, some parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper. In the bottom of the  pot splash alittle water. Break (don't cook, and no they don't have to be any special no cook noodle) 4 or 5 lasagna noodles into pieces to make a layer. Dob 1/3 of your cheese mixture around and sprinkle some mozzarella cheese. 1/3 of your sauce goes on top of that and repeat. I always pour about a 1/2 cup of water in with that The noodles will absorb the water so you'll want to check later and see if it needs alittle more. Turn it on low and go. After about 2 hours you'll see that it has softened the noodles and know if you need to add a dab more water. I give mine about 3 1/2 hrs or so and then shut it off and take off the lid. That will help it tighten up a little and cool.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Christmas Cookies

Tonight we're making Christmas cookies. The Grimm Acres team (kids that work for my mom on her farm) Leci, Rusty, Brody, (Gary and Casey  not pictured). I was pleasantly surprised by how the boys even got into it. Of course anything that includes pounds of sugar can't fail right.

We decided on peanut butter bars, cream cheese candies and no bake cookies.

Crockpot heaven.

During the cold months there is nothing better than to come out of the cold into a house that smells like food. Like adding humidity can help make your house feel warmer food makes your heart feel warmer. I love crockpot  meals because very little effort yeilds a great reward. My husband works outside, in the weather, ALL weather (poor thing!), and lets me choose whether I go out  or not. I hate the cold... So when he gets home I like for him to come in and sigh with satisfaction. I also hate to do dishesso with the crockpot we both win! There are some great recipeis on pintrest and food network. Tonight I'm grilling pork steaks but this morning I'm throwing some chunked potatoes and cheese sauce into the pot to cook. 8 or so taters a splash of milk and a block velveeta cheese. Set it on low and walk away.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Love all the container garden ideas that I've seen on pinterest. I started this stacked planter first thing this spring and it did wonderfully all summer. Sadly I was a little slow on bringing it in and it got some frostbite. I put mother-in-laws tongue in the top where it would stay the driest and  there is periwinkle around the other levels. I had a few other little plants from the garden center in it too but they gave out with the frost. This planter and the others (in other pic) are in my living room now. They help me believe that it will warm up again...someday. My big mother-in-laws tongue, lotsa little aloe plants a sweet potato and some ivy keep a madavilla company. I wish when I planted- repotted them that I had seen the pin showing a soda bottle, with holes in it, buried in the planter. I have a terrible time remembering to water them just enough and not too much. I have a whole mudroom full of herbs that I'm really considering taking out this weekend and rerepotting with the bottles in them.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Getting started.

You'll have to be patient as I figure out what these buttons do. LOL. I have my team hard at work on it.