Tuesday, October 31, 2017

News Flash - November Arrives Tomorrow!

Spooky things are happening here at the ranch.
How did that empty canoe get in the middle of the lake?
Things that will make your skin crawl.
Then again, it is Halloween.

For the first time ever, we didn’t have to buy any candy to pass out. Now that we’ve gone rural, we’re pretty much guaranteed no trick-or-treaters. I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I always enjoyed passing out treats, seeing the little ones in their costumes, the way their eyes light up when you drop a something in their bag/bucket.

Okay, sounds like I need to find a truck or treat to take part in.

So the big house is still a work in progress and this Texan is getting very impatient.
The flooring throughout is finally complete, including carpet.
 And it’s been fun to see some of the finishing touches.
Things like shutters.
 And the porch/patio ceilings painted.

But there’s still much to do. The biggest being sinks, kitchen/bathroom cabinets, countertops, etc. You know, those little things that make a house a home.

At any rate, the urge to nest has hit full force.

First thing on my list?
The flicker of flame and seasonal aromas make any place seem cozy.

Eager to decorate our new abode, I finally tackled some old chairs I had picked off of my neighbor’s curb over a year ago, taking this pathetic looking castoff…
Into something fresh and useable.
I’ll have to show what I do with it once we move into the big house.

And shopping…
In the words of our favorite Yank, oh Mylanta.
Stores are brimming with fall and Christmas décor.
Any guesses what I might have purchased from this display?

Finally, when that nesting urge hits, it’s time to bake. This is usually the time of year when I make my massive batch of pumpkin bread for friends and family. But with all of my mini loaf pans and mega-size mixing bowl in storage, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen for a while.
So, I broke things down into a batch perfect for the two regular loaf pans I had here at the camphouse.


Now it’s your turn.
What do you do when you're struck by the urge to nest?
Candles, baking...? Or something completely different?
And the most intriguing question of all, why is that canoe empty  AND in the middle of the lake?

Mindy Obenhaus lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, the youngest of her five children and two dogs. She's passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com  

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Quickest Salads for Lunch

Jan here, still crunching my November deadline. Even though I have a two week extension, whether I meet it or not is still pretty dicey.

It's a good thing I work well under pressure!

And again it means that I have done no cooking this week. We have leftover soups in the freezer that I heat up in my Insta-Pot on cold evenings...and yes, once this deadline is over, I'll talk about freezer meals that don't take an entire Saturday to prepare, but we'll have to wait for a couple weeks.

Meanwhile, my lunches are quick and nutritious. I either heat up leftovers from the night before, or I make myself a salad. I need to get more of these salads I discovered a few years ago. They've saved my lunches more times than I can count!

The Quickest Salads for Lunch

I think you might know by now that I love spending time in the kitchen, cooking for my family and friends...

...but occasionally I have a day when time is a premium.

Like when I'm in the middle of rewriting a proposal for the third time.

Or when inspiration hits and I just CAN'T step away from the computer, even though my stomach is telling me my time on this earth is going to expire if I don't send something down SOON!

On those days, I usually resort to a spinach/cheese omelette (about 15 minutes prep, but very satisfying), or PB&J (about 5 minutes prep, but not satisfying at all).

And then I found these at Sam's Club last week:

I usually pass by items like this, but that day they were giving out samples (don't you just love those samples!), and I thought, I think it's time for some convenience foods....

I started with the Asian mix (yes, I bought one of each!). When I opened the package, this is what I found:

The veggies are a blend of cabbage, carrots and cilantro (mmm, I love that cilantro...). The dressing is an Asian style sesame/ginger dressing (with no MSG - I checked), and then there were little rice snack thingies and slivered almonds to use for a garnish.

The package said there were 3.5 servings, with 120 calories per serving. I split the contents in half - which gave me a humongous salad for Thursday and another one for our Father's Day picnic yesterday.

The view during our picnic on Father's Day :)

And it was delicious.

How much time did it take? About 3 minutes, including stopping to take photos!

And then I revised another scene of my new story while I ate my lunch.

I'll be eating the Garden Salad version this week - probably Tuesday and Thursday.

:) I love it when I have lunches all planned out!

And, of course, Monday wouldn't be complete without a gratuitous puppy picture!

Thatcher, 11 weeks

* * * * * * * * * * 

Back to 2017! Isn't that picture of Thatcher adorable? I can't believe he grew up so fast.

Working on a tight deadline can be stressful, but having meals planned and prepared removes a LOT of that stress.

So does a Saturday afternoon hike in the Hills....

Sunset in Custer State Park

...and a drive through a couple of our local parks.

What is your favorite stress reliever?

Jan Drexler loves her family, her home, cooking and just about anything made by hand. But she loves her Lord most of all.

Stop by Jan's website to learn more about her books: www.JanDrexler.com

Friday, October 27, 2017

Quick Hostessing with Quiche (Revisited)

Missy Tippens

Re-sharing a post from 2013...

Quick Fall Hostessing--Quick Quiche

Missy, here. Early this month for our United Methodist Women circle meeting, it was my turn to be one of the hostesses. We actually meet at the church because our group has gotten so large. But we take turns bringing snacky, breakfast type foods (we meet at 10 a.m.).

The other hostess and I coordinated. She would bring muffins and fruit and decorate (thank goodness! I don't decorate.). I said I'd bring something savory, maybe one more baked item, and drinks.

I had BIG plans. I truly did. I envisioned small tarts with egg and meat inside. Pumpkin bread for fall. And homemade cheese straws.

That was the plan anyway. Instead, I was focused on finishing the first draft of my current manuscript and realized I didn't have time to accomplish that the day before our meeting.

What I did turned out successful (if not homemade), so I thought I'd share.

Pillsbury refrigerated rolled crusts. My favorite pie crust that's not homemade. It tastes good enough to be! You just roll it into the pie plate.

No time to make my own quiche. Found this in the freezer section. Thawed it out and poured into my pie crust.

Baked per directions. Then I was in such a rush to get out the door, I forgot to take a photo of the finished product!

Be warned that it takes a while to cool before cutting. My slices, which were narrow, were falling apart! The the quiche sure tasted good. I got lots of compliments on it.

Here's our table.

Here's what's left of the quiche. So I sort of got a photo!

Here's my substitute for homemade cheese straws. Found them in the deli. :) Perfect!

I also bought a loaf of apple bread in the deli that was iced and YUMMY! With the fruit and homemade muffins from my friend, we had a nice spread for everyone.

An easy and quick way to entertain!

You know, instead of the Belle, I think I need to be called The Quick and Simple Cook. :)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Ruthy's Italian Wedding Soup

A crazy fun week here at Blodgett Family Farm! Pumpkin sales are dwindling as pumpkins sell out, and we're turning our hands to hauling firewood, splitting and delivering...

Okay, not ME. :)

Farmer Dave, Seth, Jon and Cody. Cody is all grown up now, and wonderful, but he was the model for Todd, the oldest son in "More Than a Promise", the sweet sensitive boy with a cautious nature... Well the real Cody is all grown up and working on the farm when he's not working his other two jobs... Hard working, kind and gentle... 

I'm so proud of him!

And as you can see, we like to put EVERYONE to work:

Princess Morgan, unloading pumpkins! Hey, two-year-olds need to earn their keep around here! :)

And The Mighty Finn helps customers fill their cars with pumpkins....

But back to soup. 

Still not much cooking time on the farm. That's okay. We're throwing things together as we can, but this week I made a pot of Italian Wedding soup... and it's amazing.

For the stock:

6 quarts of water
1/2 cup Tones Chicken base
1/4 cup Tones Beef base
2 Tablespoons Parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Meatballs:

2 lbs (or more) ground round
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon Parsley
1 Tablespoon Garlic powder or granulated garlic
1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste if desired

Mix all together. Form into small meatballs. Cover bottom of large frying pan with a thin glaze of olive oil. Heat lightly. Cook meatballs over medium/low heat. When done add them to broth. Repeat until all meatballs have been cooked. Meanwhile, back at the ranch:

Peel and chop three carrots. Add to broth.
Chop one head of broccoli into little bitty pieces.  Add to broth.

Cook until broccoli and carrots are done.  May be served with cooked pasta (we do the pasta on the side so it doesn't get mushy).

Sister Shubert's rolls go great with this dish!

This is a hearty soup, delicious and soothing on cold, cold wet days. Or any day!

And I need to schedule one last trip to Abbott's Frozen Custard of Hilton before they close for the season... I didn't get there as often as I wanted... or as often as I should have, LOL! ... but if God gives me another summer, I'm making it a weekly trip! 

Unless I get busy.

Or gain a bunch of weight.

Or have to run and hang out with stinkin' cute grandgirlies and boys!

Maybe I'll just take them with me!  But in the meantime, look what's in stores RIGHT NOW!!! Nationwide! Ruthy's 20th book with Love Inspired!!! Oh, happy days are here again! And yes, of course  you should run out and buy it. Darlings, that's the whole reason I write 'em, so my friends can buy them! :) 

Award-winning, multi-published author Ruthy Logan Herne is living her dream of being a published author, having fun on the farm, mother to 6 wonderful kids with an appropriated seventh... and the grandkids are total #bonus! Ruthy loves sharing her faith and her life on the farm via facebook (so yes, go friend her!) twitter (@RuthLoganHerne) her website ruthloganherne.com 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A Slice of Brooklyn Life - Saturday Greenmarket

Yesterday Mindy asked, "As we close in on the end of October, what are you doing?"

I'd love to say enjoying autumn, but we've been having another burst of summer like weather (supposedly going to change tonight).

What that means is that I have a bit of local flavor to share with you - the supreme abundance of our market. I took my phone shopping with me and have some great photos to share. Don't they just make you want to cook something wonderful?

Still selling summer corn.

Apples are everywhere!

Loving some beets! They are gigantic.

For Missy and Mindy and all the Belles - OKRA!

I love gourds.

Colorful cauliflower.

Green beans, wax beans, purple beans?

Pretty radishes

Can you see that WALL of carrots and beets?

Sun shining on the kale.

More colorful kale
A mountain of green beans for the picking.

These were a new apple to me. They are called Snap Dragon and are supposedly New York's answer to Honey Crisp. I loved the small sign on the side that explained that the brown spots were caused by a hail storm back in May!

My favorite stop is always the baked goods. The apple walnut muffins are SO amazing. I must find a recipe.
Apple cider donuts - always a good way to start a Saturday!

Anyone have a good apple walnut muffin recipe?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Where Did October Go?

Mindy here, staring at the calendar, trying to figure out where October has gone. I mean, a week from today is Halloween, the last day of the month. Then it’s headlong into November and the holidays.

Holy crow!

Well, so much for the big house being completed by the end of October. We’re now shooting for Thanksgiving.

The house has undergone some significant changes of late, though. 

My office now has a light.
This antique chandelier once hung in hubby's grandmother's house before being relocated to the dining room at his parents' house.
And even though it was caked with forty-plus years of dust and grime,
I was able to clean it up and give it a new life.

 Then there were the old cobblestone floors.
My man said these had to go.

So, they have now disappeared, in preparation for the new tile.
And, as of yesterday, one room has been covered completely.
By the end of the week, it might all be done AND we’ll have carpet in the back of the house.

 My man has been hard at work, staining the cedar that will “wrap” the existing ceiling beams in two rooms. 

I can’t wait to see that.

However, my work at the big house has, temporarily, come to a halt as I work on my next proposal. I never dreamed this reno would consume so much of my time/mind. So when it’s difficult to shift gears and focus on the story, I find myself escaping to one of my many happy places around the property.

This sure beats the burbs.

But when things get really tough, a little retail therapy never hurts. Even if it’s only at my local Tractor Supply.

I couldn’t resist this giant galvanized star.
I know just where it’s going to live.

Sorry, but you’ll have to wait to find out.

Now it’s your turn. As we close in on the end of October, what are you doing? Prepping for the holidays? I know our Canadian friends have already celebrated Thanksgiving.

Maybe you’re in a lull and using the time to catch a much-needed breath.

So tell us, what do the upcoming weeks hold for you?

Mindy Obenhaus lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, the youngest of her five children and two dogs. She's passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com