Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Fun Cake for Fall!

Hello, everybody! This here is a repeat from 2012 because as much many good intentions I have to blog ahead, most of the time I write my post at 6Pm on a Friday night! Tonight I didn't have anything to pull out of my hat (hard drive) because I just made secret recipe apple cake and posole, both of which I've done before. But I love this post because my kids look SO TINY. Even the teens! 

But rather than mope, I thought I'd post a retrospective as a bloggy sort of Psalm 148. (It's okay if you don't have it memorized, you can read it here... and then come back!).  Psalm 148
I want to go for one last glorious run through my backyard.
Fresh raspberries. Heaven on earth.
 Squash and zucchini from my friend Barb's garden.
 Piles of cukes from my stepmother's garden. We ate so many cucumbers, I'm surprised we're not green.
 Blueberries from Lampson Blueberries, just twenty minutes from our house, up in the hills. We picked over 150 lbs and they didn't even make it to October. Let's see: 8 people, 3 months, that's approximately 6 pounds of blueberries a month per person in our house. Not very much! Next year, we'll pick more. I say that every year.
Pears from my dad's pear tree. (Like my kettle? Very Pioneer-y.)
Peaches from one of our two peach trees. There were so many that I had to figure out how to freeze them. Ruthy's peach pie is my next project!
Our seedless grapes have finally rebounded from the drought of 2001. Had a wonderful crop this year and about 50 lbs went to a woman who made them into raisins. She bakes panattone for Christmas and ships it all over the US.
Pounds and pounds of perfect plums from my dad's orchard. The tree was so overloaded it was breaking its own branches. We must have picked a hundred pounds. My neighbors started pulling their curtains when they saw us coming with our bags of free plums. You can only eat so many...
Oops, how did this sneak in here?? We're supposed to be praising God's bountiful goodness. But I suppose zucchini bread with walnuts and chocolate chips is worthy of a little praise. :)

We also had bags and bags of our neighbors' goodies because we live in the sort of place that if you're growing it, you better share. It's just good manners. So we've had sweet corn and heirloom tomatoes and apricots, too.
I'm continually in awe of the massive blessings that God showers on us, for no good reason.
He's just that way. And this was a little 'taste' of the way He blesses us out here in ORYGUN.

 (And that pic was taken by Jeff Horner who works at our little hometown paper, the Walla Walla Union Bulletin. The guy is brilliant. Who knows why he lives way out here in podunk east, but we're sure glad he does.)
But as winter closes in, I'll try to remember what Mother Teresa said. "Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand."
When the memories of fresh raspberries and pears have faded and I'm staring out my kitchen window at the frost on the dead lawn, I'll just reach out and snag a toddler... and give them some loving. (Like this little dude, watching his cookies bake. He stared at them for a long time before they were 'done'.)
Hey, here's a cute one... And he's holding walnuts. Bonus.

Better yet, I'll snag a tweener or two. Hey, she looks hug-able...

This one is scaring me a bit. Too many ninja movies?
Oh, wait. This one really needs a squeeze. Cranky, naked toddler out of the bath stole her apple slices and then sat his naked tushie on her lap. Check out her face. She's thinking how much her life stinks right now. Long-suffering tweeners. Gotta love 'em.
So, to ease the transition to Fall, we're going to do what we do best. Make a cake!
Oh wait, I'm not good at cake. But I still like to eat cake, so I'll make one anyway. I've picked up a few tips over here on Yankee Belle Cafe, so let's go try them out.
I saw Hershey's has a chocolate cake recipe that didn't look too hard. And it's rated BEGINNER. I'll take that as a good sign...

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cupsall-purpose flour
3/4 cupHERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
· 2 eggs
· 1 cup milk · ( we were out but I used condensed, with some water. Am I just like a pioneer woman or what??)
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
   2 teaspoons vanilla extract
   1 cup boiling water
So, I mixed everything together (really, just like that except for the boiling water and the Hershey's powder, those I mixed separately and then added them) and let Edna do her magic. (Check out that gleaming chrome. Go, baby, go!!)
I think it was Mindy who said to dust the inside with cocoa powder instead of flour. MMMMMM.

And then Missy had a great tutorial on when a toothpick comes out clean it means done. Really clean, not sorta clean, with blobs. THEN she said to let it cool completely before trying to pry it out of the pan. (*lightbulb*)
SUCCESS!!!! And now I stuffed foil in there so the aliens wouldn't mess with its chocolate brain.
No, no, no. I have a plan. and it involves real pumpkin stem. So out I go to the porch...
And mix some frosting until it's just the right shade of.... salmon pink. Whatever. Use your imaginations.
At least the green was okay. And now for the decoration... Because you know I live in a zoo.
Uh-huh. Eat your hearts out, ladies. Multi-colored sprinkles dumped on by a 3 year old.
And check out that shirt. HE's ready for Fall! Even if I'm not.
Even if I'm dreading the six month trek through socks and shoes and jackets and coats and mittens and runny noses and being trapped in the house all day. 
Because it will pass, and we'll have some fun while we wait for spring to come around again.
(My friend Patty Jones' pumpkins, straight from the patch! She sold them on the cheap and donated all proceeds to the Humane Society. She rocks.)
 So, I raise my cake and say a prayer for friends near and far. Because LOVE is a fruit always in season, no matter how long this winter will last.

Until next time! Pop on over to my facebook page at Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits where I have all my new book news, or to my blog The Things That Last

Friday, October 2, 2015

Swedish Meatballs--er Gravy

Missy, here. Sharing a recipe that started out to be based on Alton Brown's Swedish Meatballs (click here). But by the time I patted out 3 meatballs, I realized I didn't have enough time to make them! My husband was about to arrive home and needed to eat quickly to get back to the church for a meeting.

So…This is a recipe for Swedish Gravy! :)

The original calls for beef and pork. I only had 1 pound of ground pork to use. While I thawed it in the microwave, I tore the crust off two slices of bread, then tore the bread into pieces and poured ¼ cup milk over it. I added some dried scallions and let the milk soak in.

Once I had the pork thawed, I broke up the ground meat and mixed in the milk-soaked bread. I was going to use the stand mixer but didn't bother. I just mixed it up by hand.

Then I added 2 egg yolks and some salt and pepper and mixed well.
This is where you're supposed to make meat balls. Instead, I dumped the mixture in a hot skilled with 2 TBS melted butter. Stir as the meat browns to break it up.

Once the meat was browned, I added a little more butter--maybe 1-2 TBS.

Then I sprinkled with ¼ cup flour and stirred, letting it cook for a couple of minutes.
Next I added 3 cups beef broth.
Stirred until it thickened and added ¼ cup heavy cream (I used light half-and-half).

Season to your taste! (Alton's original recipe calls for allspice and nutmeg while you're mixing the meat, but I forgot to add it.) I tried sprinkling with a couple of different Penzey's spice mixes trying to add a little color (wished I'd had some fresh parsley). Then I served it over noodles.

And here's where I should probably just tell you I forgot to take a photo. But I didn't. And this looks terrible! LOL But it really did taste good. I promise. :) Imagine how much better it would look with meatballs. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Chicken Stew for Fall... or anytime!

My son Seth married his beautiful bride Lacey at harvest festival/I love fall style wedding at the Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford, NY.

Now I won't mention here that Seth HATED it when I took him to the museum and village as a kid.

He then ended up becoming a history teacher and getting married there.

God has a GREAT sense of humor!

The dinner caterer did a great presentation and served chicken stew and beef stew in Big Hollowed Out Pumpkins.

Yes, the Pumpkins were the soup tureens! And it was awesome!

Well, we've got pumpkins galore, but I didn't use them for serving.... I used Revere Ware! But here's a fun and fairly easy way to do a roasted chicken stew when you don't have leftover roast chicken, but you want the stew!

This made 5 quarts, so feel free to cut recipe in half as needed:

4 large chicken breasts

1 gallon water
1/3 cup Chicken base
Garlic to taste
Parsley to taste
Pepper to taste (I'm keeping these obscure because the chicken base is going to give your stock a nice, rich taste and it's already salty. I added about a tablespoon of granulated garlic, three tablespoons of parsley and about a tablespoon and a half of pepper. Pepper and chicken stew/soup dishes are amazing together!)

Place chicken breasts in shallow baking dish. Season as desired. I used some salt/pepper/chopped onion. Add about 1 cup of water, cover and bake for about 40 minutes.

Make soup base by mixing chicken base with water, adding seasonings, and whisking. Then heat to boiling.

While heating, peel 4-5 lbs. of potatoes, and about 2-3 pounds of carrots. Cut into chunk sized pieces.

Add to boiling chicken stock.

Bring back to boiling. Reduce heat slightly and cook until potatoes and carrots are just about done, almost fork tender.

Add celery, mushrooms, corn at this time, if desired. I added celery and fresh corn cut off the cob. I dropped the corn into the chicken bath until it changed to dark gold, then fished it out (with tongs, not Dave's fishing line!) cooled it, and sliced off the corn. The corn and celery give a nice background "crunch" to balance the stewiness of everything else.

Cut corn from cob.... or just throw in a bag of frozen corn, LOL!

When chicken is done, cut or fork it into bite-sized chunks and add chicken and drippings to soup/stew pan.

Mix 2 cups water with about 1/2 - 2/3 cup of flour. Whisk together until smooth, about a minute.

Slowly pour flour/water into stew pot, stirring with big spoon, until desired thickness is reached.

Turn off heat.

Let sit about ten minutes.

This can be used a pot pie filling.... (if you add a package of mixed veggies, it will look like pot pie filling, too) or stew straight from the pot, or as the base for a rich, Sunday-dinner style Chicken and biscuits.

It is amazingly good! And when you heat up the leftovers, do it gently, do not forget that your new burner is a "power" burner and scorch the bottom.


And here we have some fun fall pics!!!!

ZZ, helping me on the farm:

Our little front yard water garden... always a good place for frog hunts!

Hello, Pumpkin!

And it wouldn't be a day without checking in with The Mighty Finn!!! First, "Fearless"... Those short, little legs are so cute and stubby and brave!!!

And here... Studying marine biology for future generations!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pomegranate Glazed Salmon

Sometimes sheer boredom can inspire you.

My husband was having chicken for supper, but I don't eat chicken.

I have a freezer full of frozen wild salmon though,  and I'd just read another article on how healthy wild salmon is - this time because it contains something called astaxanthin.

I poached the salmon, but none of the tried and true fallbacks interested me. (It was THAT kind of a day.)

Then I remembered some pomegranate seeds I had. I was so excited to see the first domestic pomegranates showing up in the supermarket that I'd bought one even though I knew it was probably too early. It was. The arils looked lovely, but they had zero taste.

So - how about making a pomegranate glaze for my salmon?

It seemed a way to use both ingredients without wasting anything.

I always have pomegranate juice on hand because I like to add it to mineral water. (If you didn't know, pomegranate juice is very heart healthy.)

I poured some of that into a saucepan, added some butter (about a tablespoon)

and once the butter had melted, I added those flavorless arils.

Oh my stars!!!!!!!!

Heavenly!!!!! And it took mere minutes to prepare.

The butter blended in with the juice for just the tastiest sauce.

I intended to put it all on a bed of greens, but I put it in a bowl instead so I could eat it with a spoon and not miss any of the sauce. 

Confession time - I'm not sure this was the best taste match for the salmon. It wasn't bad (and it did grow on me).  I just think it probably would have gone better with steak. But oh that sauce was delicious.

I don't usually do shameless plugs on here, but I'm SO very excited right now. If you are reading this, it will be less than 24 hours until the release of my debut Christmas in Hiding from Love Inspired Suspense. I've been so happy with the reviews so far and I'm just so delighted that people are finally going to get to meet Callie and Jackson.

Here's the cover -

Here's the cabin I really had in mind. Apparently it wasn't "dangerous enough," but you can see some similarities with the cover.

And this is how I imagined Callie and Jackson.


Happy Reading!