Thursday, September 18, 2014

Going On Vacation



I have been so so busy this week. Busy beyond busy really. Saturday we leave for a real vacation. Not a weekend get away but a full 7 days away to an exotic location. At least it seems exotic to me. Blue water, white sand, and sunshine.
  This will be my last post until I get back. I have decided to unplug while I am away. That is right no computer no face book or any other social media. I am taking my camera and my Kindle( for reading only) as well as my phone but that is the only technology going with me. When I get back I am sure I will have a weeks worth of post about all the fun and life I enjoyed with my family and friends.
 Now let me see if I can make you all hungry enough to drool. 


   A week ago or so I wanted the flavor of lasagna but not the work. I also didn't have lasagna noodles on hand. The craving was strong so I went with it. I chopped the onion, garlic, and strained the spinach while the rigatoni and sausage were cooking. Once the pasta was aldente and the sausage well browned.I mixed all my ingredients together and tossed it in a 400 degree oven. A keeper recipe. I have the feeling I will be craving this a lot. 

 Lasagna Casserole 
 half a box of rigatoni cooked to aldente ( it was an open box and I believe more then half) 
 4 links of Italian sausage cooked and cut into round slices.
 16 oz tomato sauce + a little extra for topping.
5 cloves of garlic minced 
1 onion cut in half and then sliced thin
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 box frozen spinach
slices of provolone for topping.
 Mix all the ingredients except the provolone together in a large bowl. Pour into a greased baking dish top with extra sauce if you think it needs more.Cover with provolone cheese and put it in the 400 degree oven. Bake  covered 30 to 40 minutes until the cheese is melted and starting to turn golden brown and the casserole is hot all the way through. uncover the casserole for the last 10 minutes. Let sit a few minutes before serving.

 This is a casserole that can be adjusted anyway you want. There are so many possibility with this recipe.




 Have a great week! Thank you for stopping by. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sunday at it's Finest.


 What a great weekend. We had the pleasure of the Granddogs company this weekend. Bowser is always an enjoyable ball of energy and this week end was no different. Uncle Domino and Uncle Getty are at long last getting use to him and tolerating him better. I even caught them actually playing with Bowser once or twice through out the weekend.A picture I wish I would have gotten.
  Sunday was the perfect ending to an already wonderful weekend. My son and his family came and spent the day with us. We just hung out and did what ever we wanted all day. It was a beautiful day with blue skies, sunshine, and a very cooling breeze. There was a taste of autumn in the air for sure.A day made for playing outside.

  I have pretty much given up on taking pictures of Bowser outside he isn't one to sit still for too long making getting the right setting and focus on the camera all but impossible. Yesterday was no different but I had my camera with me so I gave it a shot. I didn't get a single good shot, but what I captured was the true Bowser and the clown that he is. So I cleaned the pictures up the best I could and I am going to share them with you because while the exposure isn't the best his expressions are. 


It is just as clear as day what a fun little guy he is.
  I was smart and planned a dinner that would be cooked in the crock pot making me free from the kitchen. Well almost free Madeline, her mom, and I we baked cup cakes for dessert. My first experience with gluten free baking. I used a cake mix so I didn't have to add anything and still I was unsure as I put the cupcakes in the oven. The gritty texture of the batter had me worried. I worried for nothing they were a complete hit.

Madeline as usual did a bang up job of decorating each and every cupcake, she did an even better job of eating them.
 We ended this glorious day by sitting down and having dinner together. The food was very good and the company was the best.

 There is nothing better then sitting at the dinner table listening to my family talk and laugh as they enjoy a meal I cooked for them. Always the perfect way to end the day.

 Have a cheery Monday! Thank you for stopping by.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bee's and Their Keepers


 It is a rainy Saturday afternoon. The perfect time to take a nap, or curl up on the couch with a good book or even a movie, that is unless you are me. If you are me it is the perfect time to curl up on the couch and write about the absolutely fabulous morning I had attending a Bee meeting. 

  I am not a bee keeper I am married to one. My husband and his friend work together to keep bees. I usually stay away from this activity due to an allergy to bees. I view the hives from a safe distance and normally stay completely away from the area when the guys are harvesting or maintaining the hives. The bees do get a little aggressive when there home is being invaded so I think it smart to stay away during these necessary intrusions. I peek out here and there and try to get photos of all the interesting stuff going on, but for the most part I leave the Bees to my husband and Tom.
 Since Tom wasn't in town this weekend the hubby asked me if I would like to go to the bee meeting with him. You know I said yes. We had a bee bonnet for me and the EpiPen on hand in case of a sting. I am happy to say I didn't need either the bonnet or the pen. I had a great time playing with my camera and the bees, watching all the fearless bee keepers being up close and personal with the bees gave me the confidence to step close and take the pictures I wanted. I stepped far back at times when the bees were more active, but I would be right back up close as soon as the bees would began to settle back down. 


The Queen


I learned so much this morning. In just two short hours my whole way of thinking about bees and keeping them changed. 
  Over the winter last winter a good portion of the hives died out. When I asked the guys why this happened I got shrugging shoulders for an answer. I totally understood that answer because I know so little about bees and bee keeping that I thought, well that you just put the boxes for hives out there and the bees just moved in and took care of them selves. Today I learned that more bees are killed by the keepers  themselves then by anything else. One of the biggest killers of kept bees is the lack of knowledge. 
   You have to maintain and care for your bees if you want them to survive a cold winter season. You need to know about mites and beetles. How to prevent them or remove them if you get them. You need to be able to recognize them when you see them. You need to know when and how much to feed bees. Yes I said feed bees. It was a surprising bit of information to me as well. You also need to know what to feed bees.


 That ladies and gentleman I am sure is just the tip of the iceberg in the amount of knowledge you need to have to be a good bee keeper.
  Did you know that bees can't fly when it is cold? Or how about that if 1 bee eats they all eat or they all starve to death together? I didn't know any of this. Turns out the bees we lost didn't freeze but starved to death over the cold cold winter we had last year. Bees cluster together during the cold weather and don't move. Their food only has to be touching some of the bees and they will all eat. Heavy healthy hives will winter over every time. 

     Did you know there is an art to smoking the bees? Well it is a learned skill that if you Look to see, and listen to hear you will learn easily. To little smoke and you have angry bees to much smoke and you have even more aggravated bees. It is kind of like Goldie locks and the porridge too hot, too cold, and just right.



  As I have already mentioned bee keepers are fearless.

 Some use the bee gear and others don't but they all get up close and personal not worrying one bit about getting stung. As I watched them take hive after hive apart to inspect and test for mites I was just completely impressed with how friendly they were with the bees. Bees landed on them on bare skin and fingers and the keepers would talk to the bees and wait patiently for the bees to mosey on their way.


I am not saying I am going to go out and make friends with our bees but I was moved a bit to see the friendship between the keepers and the bees. I say keepers but that sounds so wrong they aren't keepers they are helpers. 
  I had so much fun this morning and learned so much more. I hope I get to go more bee meetings. 
 Have a wonderful weekend! Thank you for stopping by.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Madeline and I Make Old Fashion Lemon Pudding



I was a very lucky Grandmama this summer. I had the pleasure of Madeline's company a lot. Nothing makes me happier then hanging out with that little girl. She is full of energy and for the most part she is a smiling happy child. My biggest challenge has been finding new and different things to do through out this past summer. We did a lot, we took walks,worked on Christmas presents, rode her bike, and we played in the kitchen. Someday's we played so hard she would actually ask for a nap and sleep hard for an hour or two.That request always took me by surprise because when she was younger and naps were required she was the queen of " But Grandmama I am not tired." 
  On one of these visits we woke up to an ugly rainy day and we were going to have to stay in. Not all rainy days are meant to keep you indoors but this day was. Heavy rain with high winds as well as thunder and lightening here and there. The first words out of Madeline's mouth as she came into the living room dragging her blanket and wiping her sleepy little eyes was " Grandmama what are we going to do today?" and before I could answer " Can we put on our rain boots and go jump in the puddles?" ( see I told you not all rainy days are indoor days) I answered the second question first. "No no puddle jumping today." As for the first question I had the answer ready and waiting. " How would you like to bake something for tonight's dessert?" I really didn't need to ask the question I knew the answer. Madeline loves to help in the kitchen and baking means she gets to do a lot of stuff, from adding ingredients to mixing the batter, even putting it in the pan. She has gotten big enough to even stir simmering pans on the stove with the help of Grandmama naturally. 
  On this particular day I wanted to remake a lemon pudding recipe I had tried a few days earlier. I wanted to revisit this recipe for a few reasons, I wanted to get the measurements written down in actual cups and tablespoons and I wanted pictures.

 It is a simple very old recipe that required very little effort except for the sugar. The recipe calls for Caster sugar. After looking it up I discovered you can make your own easily enough with the food processor. My food processor being broken was no help so I used my muscles instead and ground it down by hand. Madeline had some fun with this but it wasn't her favorite part. 

The recipe has you mixing everything by hand, not this 20th century girl I pulled out the mixers. Madeline's reaction to the mixers coming out was priceless. She clapped her hands together bent slightly at the hips and with the biggest smile ever she let out what can only be described as a "coo". Watching carefully I let Madeline measure out the ingredients into their individual bowls, I separated the eggs and we were in business. Once she had added all the ingredients into the bowl I handed the mixer over to her and let her go to town.


 She did so good and not a single drop was splattered anywhere in my kitchen. I used my big Kitchen Aid for the egg whites and by the time we were done mixing the batter, the egg whites were stiff and ready to fold in. Madeline poured the batter in the pan and I put it in the oven. Wiping her hands and smiling that sweet smile of hers she looks at me and " Now what?" pops out of her mouth. I couldn't help but laugh as I set the timer. Rainy days can be so fun. 
 I wish I had more pictures of her working in the kitchen. She was so active and doing so much, but I needed my hands free to help her whenever she needed it. We had a blast and my memory has more then a dozen snap shops of this day in it.
   The recipe I found in a blog. Pudding Heaven
 It was a bit of a challenge as written but not so much that it would be considered hard.

 Ingredients
3 oz butter  6 Tablespoons
3 large eggs,  Separated
zest and juice of a large lemon
1/2 pint whole  milk ( use half milk half single cream for a richer taste) 1 cup
6oz caster sugar 3/4 cup
1oz plain flour 3 1/2 Tablespoons
Method
Beat butter with a wooden spoon until soft and creamy, then add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Separate the eggs and beat the yolks into the butter and sugar mixture together with the zest and juice of the lemon.   Sift the flour and gently stir it in, then gradually add the milk beating well with each addition.  In a sepreate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the mixture.  Pour the pudding into a buttered 2 pint oven proof dish and bake in the centre of oven at 350F  or 175 C  for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and springy to the touch. I used my stand mixer for the egg whites and hand mixer for the rest.
  This is not pudding like you get from a box. As it bakes the flour will form a cake like crust at the top and under the crust will be a custard like pudding.

 I think it needs more lemon in the flavor but I like the texture of the pudding. Madeline only liked the cake like top part. At least she liked something about the pudding after all she did to help make it.

  Happy Wednesday! Thank you for stopping by.   

Monday, September 8, 2014

Pesto, Photos and Cars.



I wasn't procrastinating when I didn't write my Monday post this morning. I was just saving it for later in the day when I knew I would be doing something I hate doing. That is to sit in a car service center waiting for the car to be serviced. The only thing I hate worse is a doctors office waiting room. At least in the car shop the TV is on a better channel then the news channel that is always on in the waiting rooms of most DR offices. That constant loop of film the repeats it self over and over again. Enough to make you nuts. So anyway instead of reading month old magazines or watching game shows I decided to spend my time in the waiting room doing something I truly enjoy. Yep I will spend my time writing getting lost in my own little world passing the time quicker then quick.
  Frustration is the best word to describe my latest photography attempts. I have 2 projects that I am working on and for what ever reason ( Mostly lighting )I can't get it right. I can't get what my actual eye is seeing to show up on the film. Yes I know there is no film but it sounds better then digital  screen. The skies have been phenomenal for the past 2 months. The bluest of blue and full of the fluffiest clouds anyone has ever seen. So fluffy they almost look 3 dimensional.There are layers upon layers of clouds, floating in front and behind each other. Ranging in color from the brightest white to the palest gray. Wrapping around the fluffy free floating clouds are soft white wisps giving every imagination young and old many many pictures and shapes in the sky to enjoy. I am quickly learning not to use the digital view screen, at the very least not to trust what I see. What I see on the camera and what comes up on my laptop screen are never the same. If it looks like the right lighting on the camera it will be way to light or exposed once it hits the bigger screen. Frustration or not as long as the skies continue to amaze me I will happily continue trying to capture it on film.I am not even going to go into what a challenge the color red has been for me.I am just going to keep on trying until I get the results I want.
  In between taking pictures of the sky and certain red objects, I have been continuing to harvest the garden. My second string of tomatoes is about to ripen and I am excitedly looking for other ways to preserve them instead of sauce. I know I will make some more soup, and I might get brave and try canning some whole. This past week I harvested most of my sweet and cinnamon basil. Instead of drying it I turned it into pesto. I have a love hate relationship with pesto something about the taste has put me off a little. That is until I gave a nut free pesto a try and then the hate part of the relation ship was gone.

 With a few ingredients that I always have on hand I put together a very tasty pesto that will compliment pasta, chicken, even a good steak will benefit from this pesto.I have made this a few times now, I have made it with a mix of spinach and basil and I have made it with just basil. From the comments, I get the idea both ways are very good but the 1/2 and 1/2 mixture was liked better. The first time I made the pesto I made enough for dinner and that will be the measurements I will give you.
 3 cups basil leaves,
3 cups spinach
6 large cloves garlic
2 to 3 capfull lemon juice
1/2 cup shredded parm cheese,
1/2 cup oil
Salt and pepper to your taste. Food process it all together in order listed.

 When I wanted to freeze a few batches I pretty much doubled the recipe. I say pretty much because I didn't really measure the second time around. I had a healthy taste before freezing up the latest batch. It is just as tasty as the first. I like a strong garlic flavor and this pesto is not a disappointment on that level.

 My car is done and I am free to go, but but... but I am not finished yet. 
  Have a great week! Thank you for stopping by.  
          

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Oops it's Not Monday!


 I spent the better part of yesterday thinking it was Sunday. I lazed about doing nothing at all barely getting off the couch. What a great way to spend an extra day off. I woke this morning thinking of what I was going to write today and then it dawned on me I am a day late. Oh well my lateness is a common thread today.
    Do you ever have a day when you just know dinner is going to be late? I do, and the other day was for sure one of those days. I knew for certain dinner would not be on time because it was 6 pm and I had just figured out what I was going to do with the ground beef I defrosted. When I told the hubby what I was planning his comments aren't all repeatable but the gist of it was dinner wouldn't be ready  until midnight.

  He was happily surprised when I pulled it off in under an hour, and even happier with how absolutely delicious dinner was.

  Dinner wasn't my original idea or recipe. I am sure I have seen it on a few recipe and food sites. "Lasagna Roll Ups with meat balls." At least that is my name for them. There are more then a few steps to preparing this dinner making it appear difficult and time consuming, but it isn't as daunting as it seems.

  To start I made my meatballs 1 lb ground beef, 1 egg, 1/4 cup milk, 1/4 to 1/2 cup bread crumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder. In a cast iron pan over a low heat I started cooking the meat balls covered. Then I started a pan of water to boil. While all that was happening I chopped garlic, onion, and bell pepper. In the dutch oven I heated about 2 Tablespoon of oil and started cooking all the chopped vegetables. Onions first then the pepper and finally the garlic. Once the garlic was fragrant I added my herbs basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar.I Stirred everything together and cooked for 1 minute.I added enough red wine to cover the bottom of the pan and let it simmer until almost evaporated. During all this adding and cooking I was turning the meatballs to brown them evenly and adding the lasagna to the boiling water. Once the wine was cooked down I added my homemade tomato sauce and let it simmer while I finished up. I used the microwave to defrost the spinach then I left it in the strainer to drain as I worked. Once the lasagna was ready I squeezed all the liquid out of the spinach and then mixed it with about a cup of ricotta cheese. Working on a flat surface I laid out my noddle and then placed a thin layer of the spinach mixture along the entire length of the noddle. The mixture didn't spread well but worked out okay when I patted it out with the spreader.I rolled up the noddles with the spinach in them and placed them in a greased baking dish with the meatballs. Covered each meatball and roll up with a  medium to thick slice of fresh mozzarella cheese and then I covered the entire dish with the red sauce I made. In a 400 degree oven it went until the cheese melted. 

 My kitchen once again looked as if a bomb had gone off in there but dinner was on the table before 7 pm. Late yes but not the midnight that my darling husband had predicted. I will get an earlier start next time and you can be sure there will be a next time, as well as a time after that. 

 Have a great week! Thank you for stopping by.     
    
  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Preserving the Garden



  It has been a busy week in my garden and kitchen. The weather made my work seem more like fun then work. Everyday this week there has been something that needed picking and preserving. The biggest reaping was once again tomatoes. I had another large batch and no real idea of what to do with them. I don't need more sauce for sure I have 12 quarts all ready frozen.

 So what to do with the tomatoes was the question of the day.
  I turned to the computer for the answer. I found my answer on a site called Food Foto Gallery. If you like food porn you need to visit this site it will have you drooling on your screen. Anyway I found a photo of tomato soup that looked real good so I clicked on it. The recipe looked easy enough and was made for freezing so I gave it a try.
 I cored and chopped the tomatoes and opted not to peel. 

I followed the recipe as written and well I won't follow it again. The soup is good but not the tomato soup I was looking for. The texture is off, it isn't smooth and creamy and the flavor isn't tomato enough the garlic and onion over power the taste completely. 

 Tomato soup is one of my favorites I love love a good bowl of tomato soup so I will try this again. As soon as another batch of tomatoes ripen. I am hoping cutting back a lot on the onion and garlic will help with the flavor. I also plan on using my food mill instead of the immersion blender that was recommended. I am hoping the mill will make the texture smoother and creamier. 
 While it is not the tomato soup I was hoping for the soup is still really good. It is a garlicy Italian style tomato soup that is only made better with the addition of a grilled cheese sandwich. 

 The soup won't go to waste for sure. I froze 3 quarts and enjoyed a bowl for lunch.
 This is how the recipe was originally written.
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 6 cups chopped yellow onions (About 2 very large onions)
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 cups chopped tomatoes 
  • 6 cups chicken broth 
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  1. In a large  heavy pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for 5-7 minutes, or until they've started to soften. Add the balsamic, sugar, and garlic and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until garlic is fragrant.
  2. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the chicken broth and bring the mixture back to a simmer. Simmer another five minutes then taste. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
  4. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup into the consistency of your choosing. You can also blend this in your blender.
  5. To freeze, allow the mixture to cool then ladle it into freezer safe containers or quart size freezer bags. Freeze bags laying flat.
  6. Tomato soup author
 I plan on cutting the garlic and onion by at least half and I believe I am going to leave out the vinegar as well. Before adding the broth I am going to use the food mill and then slowly add the broth as the soup simmers.

   Have a wonderful weekend! Happy Labor day. Thank you for stopping by.