Planting turnips and winter radishes, got butterflys!!

Upsey Daisy!!
About 6-6:30PM  last evening Brian and I went outside to do a bit of scratching around in the dirt!!  We had planned to toss out some turnip seed and a few winter radish seeds.  Who knows if they will make anything......given our weird weather of late.  We set about it and saw the most beautiful butterfly hovering by the birdbath on the butterfly bush shrub.

He is HUGE!!
The hungry mosquitoes nearly ate us up but before we ran for the front door I managed to take these pictures of the giant swallow tail butterfly visiting as well as some smaller butterflies that were hanging out!

Two of a kind.
There were also probably a dozen of these smaller butterflies playing amongst the branches and blooms .


Old Fashioned Snickerdoodles

It is seldom that I am too lazy to cook for the two of us but last week after my misadventures as a school cafeteria worker I was.  So instead of baking cookies or a cake or pie for the weekend I just made a fruit salad and bought a couple of packages of cookies.   YUCK!!!! I now know exactly what the phrase,  "tasted like cardboard,"  means.  They did.

We did have a nice dinner Sunday and I forgot to photograph the beautiful French cut loin roast we cooked outside on the grill.  Mike loved it and took some home with him.  I will do better.

Brian really likes Snickerdoodles so I made them today for him.  He deserves more than a crappy cookie out of me and he really likes these.  I have made this recipe for the better part of my life and believe they came from an old Betty Crocker cookbook no longer in print as I have looked for it unsuccessfully.

You will need to preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and assemble these ingredients.

1/2 C. soft butter
1/2 C. shortening
1 1/2 C. sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 C. flour
2 t. cream of tarter
1 t. soda
1/4 t. salt

Cookie rolling mixture:
3 T. sugar
3 t. cinnamon

Mix thoroughly butter, shortening, sugar, and eggs.  Blend in the flour, cream of tarter, soda, and salt.  Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls.  Mix the remaining amount of sugar and cinnamon and roll the balls until liberally coated.  Place 2" apart on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake 10 minutes and remove from oven to cool.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

My reward!!


Sunday Brunch, "Paula's Hashbrown Casserole"

I am not generally a viewer or follower of Oprah, although I think she is sincere, generous, and a good person in general.  I do have a couple of Paula Deen's cookbooks and generally like her but don't watch her on TV very often.  I think she has gotten way over exposed of late.  All this being said my interest peeked one day last week when I was channel surfing and saw Paula cooking on Oprah.


I was looking for an excuse, any excuse to just sit after I had worked my second of two days in the local school systems lunch room!  To be clear.  My sister Linda had interviewed for a position in her local schools lunch room program and gotten the idea they thought it was real hard physical labor and she was probably too old to do it.  WELL they didn't tell me!!!  OR  I was too dumb to figure it out initially!! Plus my sister is 5, yes 5 years YOUNGER than I am!!!!!


Anyway......I watched Paula Deen make this casserole on Oprah and tried it so here is my version.  We liked it but when I make it again will use more salt and pepper on the potato layer and add a bit of hot sauce to the custard mixture.   Probably a good tablespoon or so to take it up a notch.  Might also add mushrooms....ummmm that does sound good.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray a deep 9" x 13" deep, or larger if it isn't deep casserole with cooking spray. 

Assemble these ingredients:

3 T. butter
1 onion chopped
4 C. frozen hash brown potatoes
1 pound bulk pork sausage of your likeing
2 1/4 C. whole milk
8 large eggs
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
2 T. Dijon mustard
8 C. cubed french bread, crusts removed
2 C. grated cheddar cheese
2 C. grated Parmesan cheese
Diced Green onions for garnish

Melt the butter in a large frying pan and saute the onions over medium heat for about 5 minutes until softened.  Add the hash browns, breaking them apart, and saute another 5 minutes seasoning them with 1/2 t. of the salt and 1/4 t. of the pepper.

Place the potato mixture evenly across the bottom of the prepared casserole dish.  Break apart the sausage into the empty potato skillet and brown the sausage over medium heat.  While this is browning spread the bread cubes over the potato layer.  When the sausage is done use a slotted spoon and layer it over the bread cubes.  

Using a batter bowl or other larger bowl, combine the milk, eggs, remaining salt and pepper, nutmeg, and mustard stirring briskly to blend well.  Pour the egg mixture over the casserole evenly.  Add the Parmesan as the next layer and lastly add 2/3 of the cheddar reserving the last third to add the last 10 minutes of baking.

Bake the casserole 45-50 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.  Garnish with fresh green onions.

I want to add that I had been trying to come up with something different for Brian's breakfast before he goes to work.  There are several casseroles like this I have made in the past and they are great microwaved a few seconds and reheat very well.

I wrapped single portions in parchment paper and slid them into zip lock bags to store in the refrigerator for next week.


Preserving Day, freezing peaches and dehydrating tomatoes.

We are so fortunate to have an orchard here that has the heavenly freestone Red Haven Peach.  They are just wonderful and my favorite by far.  Usually large, sweet, firm and the seeds just pop right out!!  They have a beautiful rosy red hue to them and create a fragrant pink nectar.

Last year I canned and canned because we had lost everything in the freezers for the past couple of years due to our power being down for days and sometimes weeks at a time.  Now we have a generator for my husbands work that could also come home if need be to keep from losing the freezers contents.  Thus I am freezing my little heart out and we will enjoy all these lovely things in the cold of the coming winter.

Today I am putting my second peck of peaches in the freezer.  I have kept them in the spare refrigerator since I purchased them and they are ready to go.

First select the containers you prefer to use for storing the fruit in the freezer.  Plastic freezer bags are good and there are also hard sided plastic containers available.  If you need to wash and rinse them or just get them out and ready them for use.

To start the process for freezing peaches you need to put a large kettle of water to boil, cover it with a lid, and find another large vessel for ice.  I use a small plastic dishpan.  I put 4 or 5 pounds of ice in it and add some water to start it. 

The third container I use is a large,  probably 2 gallon bowl and I squeeze the juice of one large lemon into the bottom of this bowl.

Basically I am setting up an assembly line.  When  the water comes to a boil I will submerge 6-9 peaches in the boiling water for about 3 minutes.  I usually take 1-2 out and test them to be sure the skins will slip right off.  if not, I leave them another minute or so.  When I remove them from the boiling water I plunge them directly and completely into the ice water.  Adding more water and ice as needed to cover. 

The way I test is to use my paring knife and cut around the peach stone and pull the fruit into halves.
Then I pinch the stone and remove it.  Again using my paring knife I find the skin at the top and gently slide it off the peach.  At this point I swish the peach in the lemon juice on both sides and leave it to rest while I continue filling the bowl.  The lemon juice is very important as it will keep the fruit from turning dark.

When I have pitted and peeled all of the peaches I slice them into the containers.  Today I used quart freezer cartons and I added 4 T. of sugar to the top after I tamped the container a couple of times on the counter to ensure the fruit was settled snugly into the container.  From a peck of peaches I yielded 6 quarts of peaches today.  I stored they with the 6 from earlier in the week and feel certain this will be plenty for us this winter.

Dehydrating tomatoes is new to me.  Usually I have canned of frozen them.  I have heard a lot about how delicious they are so I thought I would dig out my dehydrator and give it a whirl!!

After washing the tomatoes I sliced the regular and halved the Roma tomatoes sliding my thumb down inside of them and pushing out the seeds.  I layered them in a large holed colander and salted, peppered, and sprinkled them with a bit of olive oil.  After letting the drain a bit I just spread them evenly on the dehydrator and set them at 135 degrees.  We will see what we can see!!

And wow are these little gems yummy!!!  They have gone about 24 hours now and I have taken them off the dehydrator.

The salt, pepper, and olive oil seasonings really hit the spot.  When I tasted them for the very first time it was like an explosion of intense tomato sweetness.  Really good.  I expect these would be delicious sprinkled onto a green salad or mixed in with savory snacks.  I just sealed these in zip lock freezer bags and put them in the freezer too.  Not necessary to freeze but why not?

I also took the Roma tomatoes that were halved and dried and put some in small jars and covered them with extra virgin olive oil.  I expect a lovely unintended consequence to be a deliciously flavored oil!!

Just one discovery after another!!


Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate Cupcakes!!!!!!!

Miss Katie whose birthday was Monday the 16th has a real thing for chocolate and as the tradition at our house ......Grandma ( as I am known in these circles) makes you whatever you choose for your birthday diner!!  Her menu was hot dogs, twice baked potatoes, corn on the cob, strawberries, and  these 3X chocolate cupcakes.  By the way did I mention she turned 11??

At any rate I had the good fortune of having Miss Emily drop by for a visit on Sunday and she piped on the icing for me and did a super job I might add for her first try.  Emily is 15 and Kate's older sister.

Emily had agreed to make Joel, my youngest son's birthday cake in December for his birthday and is coming to practice.  I am sure this will come up again in later posts.

I made the cupcakes, all 32 of them Saturday and  had them filled when Emily got here.  It is an interesting cupcake as you make a devils food (made with cocoa) cupcake, cut a cone out of the top of it, cut the bottom out of the cone and use the top portion a s a tiny cap  placed over a teaspoon of luscious ganache.
Then you end this dreamy treat with a frosting that is chocolate sour cream!!!YUMMMY!!!!

It is r-e-a-l-l-y good.

Note this is a really big recipe and unless you really want or need 32 cupcakes you certainly could cut the recipe in half.

The cupcake ingredients:
3/4 C. unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
1 t. espresso powder ( can substitute instant coffee)
3/4 C. very hot water
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 1/2 C. (3 sticks) butter 
2 1/4 C. sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
4 t. vanilla extract
1 C. sour cream at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare cupcake pans by lining them with paper liners.  Whisk together in a small bowl the hot water, espresso powder and cocoa until smooth.  Using a medium bowl combine and whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set it aside too.

Using a medium saucepan combine the butter and sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the butter is melted and the sugar is combined well.  Remove from heat and transfer the mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Beat at medium-low until the mixture is cooled, 4-5 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time beating after each addition and scrapping down the sides of the bowl.  Mix in the vanilla and the cocoa mixture on lowest speed until well incorporated.
Keeping the mixer at low speed add the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the sour cream until just combined.

Fill the cupcakes in the prepared pans to about 3/4 full.  Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.    Cool in the pans for about 10 minutes then remove to racks to cool completely.

The ganache filling ingredients:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
1 C. plus 2 T. heavy cream
4 T. butter cut into 4 pieces at room temperature

Place the chopped chocolate into a medium bowl.  Heat the cream in a small saucepan to a boil.  Once it comes to a boil remove it from the heat and pour it over the chocolate.  Let it sit about a minute then with a whisk start stirring it gently in a circular motion.  When it is smooth add the first chunk of butter and continue stirring till smooth.  Repeat this process until all 4 pieces of the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.  Place the bowl in the refrigerator or freezer to cool and thicken.  Stir every 5-10 minutes to help it cool evenly.

Assemble the cupcakes:
Cut a cone out of the center of each cupcake with a small paring knife.  Cut off the pointed end of the cone and discard (OR EAT!!) so you are left with a cap to cover the filling.  Drop a teaspoonful of the ganache into the center of each cupcake and recover the hole with the cap.

Frosting ingredients:
14 oz. bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
9 oz, cream cheese, at room temperature
9 T. butter, at room temperature
3 C. confectioners' sugar, sifted to remove lumps
6 T. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 C. plus 2 T. sour cream

Melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water stirring occasionally until it
is perfectly smooth.  Set it aside to cool until it is just barely warm.  Using your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter at medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes until fluffy.  Gradually add in the sugar, cocoa, and salt.  Beat in the melted cooled chocolate and then the sour cream.  Beat together until it is smooth and well blended.  Frost the cupcakes immediately.

Adapted from Annies Eats, cupcakes and frosting from, Martha Stewart's Cupcakes, ganache from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

NOTE:  I add espresso powder to all things chocolate,  the original version does not.  I do not use unsalted butter the original version used unsalted.  I am brand specific in a lot of things which I did not go into today.  I used a fresh can of baking powder and baking soda in these and got really good rounded tops and a nice rise because it is a lot of expensive ingredients when you add it all up and I didn't choose to leave anything to chance.  Just a few thoughts I am sharing.....



We haven't had chili since last winter and Brian thought it sounded good too when we were talking Friday.  Funny thing about getting least in my case.  I have known a lot of people and lived several places so in many cases I have several recipes for the same dish.  Like chili.

This one I don't make real often but it is really good.  It is an adaptation from a girl I worked with years and years ago and her husband competed in chili cook offs.  They made it and treated all of us at work once and I fell in love with their version.  There are a lot of levels of flavor.

2 pounds ground chuck
1 large diced onion
3 cloves diced garlic
black pepper
Combine all of the above ingredients in a large heavy bottomed kettle and cook together until browned.

1 C. catsup
1 can of beer
1 can of chili hot beans
1 can of chili mild beans
1 large can or 2 small cans tomato sauce
6 T. Chili powder (mine are generous)
3 T. sugar
3 chili cans of water
1 t. cocoa powder
6 pepperochini whole or sliced
3 T.  pepperochini  brine
Stir in these additional ingredients mixing well and simmer over lowest heat 2 hours.
You may add pasta or serve as it is with or without cheese and crackers.


Shrimp Cocktail and Cold Platters.

Just for a you ever think "just for a change?" I sure do.  It seems like I think it a lot!! I really get tired of the same old thing all of the time.  Once in a while in summer I like to just not cook but rather to put together cold platters for a weeknight supper.

My key to success is to start out with a show stopper my husband loves like shrimp cocktail followed by more things he loves!  As he climbed the stairs to the kitchen last night he saw into the dining room where I was preparing to photograph the shrimp cocktail and he sang out,  "Boy that looks good!"

Of course my response was that I had made it for him and I knew success was mine.  There was also lots of shrimp and cocktail sauce on ice for seconds.

My follow up was a large platter of various types of fresh tomato and cottage cheese.  Followed with a large platter of cut fresh fruit.  A great, healthy, balanced, refreshing supper with a bit of a different twist.

*If you have the shrimp but no cocktail sauce just add catchup, horseradish, hot sauce, and lemon juice until you get a taste combination that pleases you.



Brian was in the mood to fire up the charcoal grill rather than the gas one or the smoker Saturday evening so the menu highlights were grilled corn and "Dad Burgers" as we call them.

Early in the day take the corn and submerge it in cold water.  Leave for a few hours or the afternoon to absorb  adequate water to keep from burning or becoming dry. 

We start with a seasoning mix of :  4 t. kosher salt
                                                        1 t. freshly ground black pepper
                                                        1 t. garlic powder
                                                        1 t. lemon pepper
Mix and set aside for the time being.

Starting out with 2 pounds of ground chuck shape into 5 patties about an inch and a quarter thick.  Fasten thick sliced bacon around each patty with a skewer.   I froze 2 burgers to cook another time.  The remaining three I seasoned well and let stand about 20 minutes before sending out to be grilled.

My darling husband is no slouch when it comes to outdoor cooking and this time was no exception.  He started his grill early enough to have the perfect hot coals going when he was ready to cook!
He said he turned the corn a quarter turn every few minutes and it was cooked to perfection.  The burgers were wonderful,  eaten more as a chopped steak grilled to perfection than a burger!! 
We enjoyed!!


Granola Breakfast "YUM"

There's granola then there's G R A N O L A.  I am thinking this is the best I have ever found and the aroma when it is baking....WOW!  For years I made granola for snack food.  I know my oldest son Chris and one of his girlfriends must have eaten several of pounds of it one winter!

It was a recipe I had adapted from the Deaf Smith Country Cookbook which I have given to someone or loaned out.  Thus I couldn't find the recipe.  It was great in that thre were variations and I made one with honey and walnuts and the other and my favorite was with maple syrup and pecans.  If anyone has that cookbook it is good granola so try it!!

Anyway......I went on a hunt for granola ideas and recipes as I had the bug to make some.  Any I have ever gotten that was store bought tasted like "excuse me" cardboard so that wasn't an option!

One of my favorite foodie blogs is called,  "Orangette" and I found this wonder there.  She credited her adaptation from The Rancho La Peurta Cookbook: 175 Bold Vegetarian Recipes from America's Premier Fitness Spa.

My adaptation is as follows:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F and spray a rimed baking pan (I used a half sheet pan) with cooking spray and set aside.  I made a trip to a whole foods grocery and assembled and ingredients I was missing and wanted to sdd to this lovely mix.

3 C. organic old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 C. sliced raw almonds or pecans
1/2 C. sunflower seeds
1/4 C. organic whole wheat flour
1/4 C. oat bran, or you could use wheat bran
1 T. ground cinnamon, I prefer Vietnamese
3/4 t. ground ginger
3/4 t. ground cardamon
3/4 C. organic honey
1/2 C. unsweetened, unfiltered organic apple juice
1 T. vanilla
2 t. canola oil
2 t. fresh orange zest
2 T. fresh orange juice

Using a large bowl combine all of the dry ingredients and mix it well.  In a small pan over very low heat melt the honey and add all of the remaining wet ingredients and zest, stirring together gently and well just till warned and melted together.  Pour the wet over the dry and mex well.  Spread it evenly over the prepared baking pan and bake 2 hours stirring at least every 30 minutes.  It will be beautifully browned.  When you remove it from the oven stir it again and allow it to sit in the pan until it is cold.  Store in air tight container and refrigerate.  Again I say yum.

I layered with fresh sweet nectarines and organic Greek yogurt for a breakfast parfait.  If you like it sweeter drizzle with a bit of additional honey for a sweet treat!!

Truth......if I didn't need the photo to show here I would have thrown it all together in a earthenware cereal bowl and been done with it.  Ha ha.


Friday's Shopping at Wright's Berry Farm

It is just plain hot!!  It is just that simple.  My tomatoes are about dried up or maybe burned up is more accurate.  That situation really hit hard yesterday while at the local vegetable market they were out of melons and said they will be gone soon.

That got my attention!  I am not ready to go without fresh melons and tomatoes and all manor of Blessings from this earth yet.....

Today I made it a point as I shopped for my list of needs to ponder the beauty of it all and to thank God for His Blessings and to pray for His deliverance for our nation and our world.

The open air market folks were good enough to phone me here at home this morning that the melons from their fields were ready so I am sharing with you the beauty of their market.  No doubt my refrigerator is full!

I have no relationship to Wright's.  I have just traded there for years and the strawberries they grown are HEAVENLY!!  They seem to be a family business and they have great produce.  They are located between Sharon Road and Outer Lincoln on Anderson Road just east of Newburgh, Indiana.