Part 2 of Finishing the Comforter.

Yesterday was very enjoyable.  I had phone calls from people I don't hear from very often but love a lot.  Among them Cathy Outlaw and Flo Fifield whom I haven't seen or spoken with for probably a year.  Not because we aren't dear friends but because I knew them in another part of my life and our paths don't cross anymore unless we make it a special point to find each other.  I am sure you know just what I mean.....

I did get busy on the comforter I had started pinning together and tied the whole thing with a beautiful deep red yarn I had found for just that purpose.  This morning I pinned one side and have decided to overcast the edges all of the way around and then use a lovely blanket stitch (I love the looks of the blanket stitches!)  To finish it off.  I told Brian if I overcast it and then blanket stitch it nobody should ever have to rework it as that should bind it all very securely. 

I am going to use the beautiful deep red yarn for the blanket stitching as it should be a lovely contrast with the dark fabrics.  One thing I find interesting and rewarding is admiring all of the "old" styles of fabric that were used to piece this.  I hadn't thought about that until the intimacy of hand working all of this came to be.  Just an observation.

I telephoned Grandma Powell and got the names of her Mother and her Grandmother who pieced this and I am going to embroidery their names into this with a note that it was done in the early 1900's and that I finished it this year.  Then whoever of the children or grandchildren end up with these they will know from whence thy came.

Bacon, Potato, & Cheese Soup, just plain SINFUL, it's that good!

Thick, cheesy soup, studded with bacon and potatoes.
Some things are just beyond the pale and this soup just might be one of them!  Brian ate until he could eat no more last night!!  That is a good thing in his case.  He tends to want to nibble on junk and forgo a good meal some evenings.  At any rate I started with the general idea of Canadian Cheese Soup, the recipe was given under the same name on 9/29/10.  Then I shot off into updating it with potatoes and bacon resulting in a good thing ramping up to an out of this world comfort supper soup.

Ingredients for Bacon, Potato, & Cheese Soup:

3 potatoes diced
6 C. chicken stock
2 cans of evaporated milk (or 3 C. milk or half and half)
1 1/2 C. diced carrots
2 C. celery diced using tops and leaves
1/2 pound bacon diced
1/2 C. onions diced
1/2 C. flour
1 pound (16 Oz.) Kraft Sharpie Cheese ( Found in the grocery case with the American Cheese Slices in 8 Oz. pkg. of sliced cheese.)
6 chicken bouillon cubes
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1/8-1/4 t. Cayenne pepper

Fry bacon and remove from the pan saving the fat.  Combine the stock,  bouillon cubes, seasonings,  and vegetables in a soup kettle and cook until fork tender then reduce the heat to a simmer.  When the vegetables are done heat the bacon drippings and add the flour, stirring to cook the flour over medium heat.  Then pour all at once the drippings and flour into the vegetables and broth stirring constantly as it thickens.  Add the milk.  Keep stirring.

Chunk the cheese into pieces the size of dice and drop into the simmering soup and add the bacon.  Stir altogether until melted.  Taste and correct seasonings. If the soup thickens more than you like just thin with a little additional stock or milk.  Ladle into mugs or bowls and serve with saltines.  Yield 2 1/2 quarts soup.


Classic Beef Stroganoff

Steak, mushrooms, & onions married up in a sour cream sauce over hot noodles is a classic hit.
Tomorrow I am making Canadian Cheese Soup for supper and last night Brian brought home carry out chicken so tonight I wanted to make him a nice supper so I am turning to a sure fire favorite, Classic Beef Stroganoff.

Ingredients for Classic Beef Stroganoff:

1 1/2 pounds of trimmed and thinly sliced sirloin steak
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms trimmed and sliced
1 onion diced
1 clove garlic minced
2 T. butter
1 1/4 C. beef broth + 2 bouillon cubes  (you fortify the stock, if using 1 1/4 C. water use 3 cubes)
3 T. ketchup
1 t. salt
3 T. flour
1 C. sour cream
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
Hot cooked noodles

Heat the butter in a large flat bottomed pan and add the onions stirring to brown slightly, add the mushrooms and continue cooking.  Remove the vegetables from the pan and add the steak browning lightly.

Pour all but 1/2 C. of the broth to the meat.   Add the ketchup, salt and garlic. Cover and reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 15 - 20 minutes until tender.

Cook the noodles and keep warm on a hot platter.

Add the vegetables back to the steak and stir the flour into the remaining broth mixing well.  Pour the flour mixture into the steak and stir, cooking until thickened.  Stir in the sour cream just heating throughout.  Taste and correct seasoning as needed.  Serve over buttered hot noodles and sprinkle with fresh parsley.  Yield 6 servings.


Starting to "FINISH" the Comforter.

These are three layers.  As I straighten them I am pinning them together.
Today I finally have gathered everything I should need to finish the comforter from the "crazy quilt" top Grandpa Powell gave me a few weeks ago.  (You may recall she gave me 4 pieced tops sewn by her Mother and Grandmother making them over a hundred years old.)   With 4 to do this one should be by far the easiest and fastest.  Grandma Neukam had several heavy tops finished this way.  Since it is of heavier fabric and darker colors it seems appropriate to me to go this route with it.

I have a special place in my heart for comforters made this way because as a little girl when we stayed on the Neukam farm off Limpkin Road between Logootee and Haysville,  I slept in a huge Oak Sleigh bed with a tied comforter of many dark velvets.  I thought it the most special and wonderful bed in the world.  And, my Grandma Neukam could sew, and she made many little dresses for me as a little girl out of feed sacks.  The feed companies packed the feeds for the livestock in lovely cotton prints and Grandma whipped many a little dress for me.  I remember most of them very well and my favorites were what I called "Sailor Dresses" because they had a big square collar like sailor whites have.  She often either lined them with a contrasting color or made the collar with a contrasting color. 

Well anyway, I have spread the under layer for the comforter on the dinning room table with all of the leaves in the table and draped the excess across the row of chairs away from where I am pinning.  I am using a large flannel sheet.  Next I layered the cotton batting and lastly the pieced top.  I plan to use safety pins each 6-8 inches to fasten the whole thing together.  That is the plan for today!  This should hold all of the layers securely while I stitch and tie the layers and then finish the edges before removing the pins.

Maple Walnut Fudge Tutorial

Smooth, Creamy, and Melt in your mouth Maple Walnut Fudge now and for the Holiday's.
This is a recipe that I have more than adapted, it has been significantly modified!! The result is a delectable maple fudge studded with walnuts.  The original recipe was given on as a wedding favor.  The recipe is a bit tricky (as are many homemade fudge recipes) so I am going to give a few helpful hints to ease your way and help your success. 

First be aware of the size and intensity of the burners on your range.  I cannot make candy on the big burner on my stove.  It is a 13,000 BTU gas burner and it is plain too hot for candy making, even when I have used it turned down.  I use a mid-range burner on medium heat.  Use a pan with a heavy bottom not a thin bottom.  Use a good candy thermometer. Measure and follow directions exactly.
I prefer pure cane sugar when candy making rather than beet sugar.

Ingredients for Maple Walnut Fudge:

3 C. granulated sugar
1 C. powdered maple sugar (available to order from King Arthur Flour Co.)
pinch of salt
1/2 C. butter
3/4 C. genuine pure maple syrup
1 C. half and half
1 1/2 C. miniature marshmallows
1 t. pure vanilla
1/8 t. maple flavor (optional)
1 1/2 C. chopped walnuts (or nut of your preference)

I prepared two but only needed one.
8" square pan lined with parchment paper
candy thermometer

Line the pan with parchment paper and take the paper up the sides of the pan and fold it over the edges.

Using a large heavy bottomed pan over medium heat combine the sugars, butter,  salt,  maple syrup, half and half, and marshmallows.

Cook the mixture stirring occasionally until a candy thermometer or digital thermometer reaches 230-235 degrees F. or until soft ball stage.

Remove from the heat and let it cool undisturbed until it reaches 130 degrees F.   This took about 40 minutes at my house but can vary.    Add the flavorings and nuts and stir together.   Mix at medium speed with an electric mixer until the mixture begins to loose it's gloss and starts to stiffen and harden around the edges.  THIS IS THE TRICKIEST PART OF THE PROCESS.  IF YOU WAIT TOO LONG TO STOP THE MIXTURE WILL BECOME TO HARD AND IMPOSSIBLE TO POUR FROM THE PAN.  This only took mine maybe 3-5 minutes.  Pour mixture into pan, spread and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Lift the paper and fudge from the pan and cut using your longest knife into 36 squares.  Yield 1 1/4 pounds Maple Walnut Fudge.  Store tightly wrapped and in an airtight container.

Note:  If you do not have the granulated maple sugar you may use an additional 1 C. granulated sugar and increase the maple flavoring to 1/4 t.


Planning an EASY Christmas Menu and Preperations for the Season..

In doing this for the last 45 years, since I was 18.  I have deduced that it is far easier to do the big turkey and/or ham with all of the trimmings on Thanksgiving and something grand but easier on Christmas.  To that end I have made Crown Roast of Pork, Standing Rib, Strip Roasts and Beef Tenderloin both as a roast and as steaks.  All of which are much easier and add a baked potato and a salad and you are home free.  If you want to work a little more fix twice baked potatoes ahead to pop in the oven and heat at serving time!!

This year I am tentatively planning for Christmas Dinner:

Prime Rib Roast
Baked Potatoes, both White and Sweet
Tossed Green Salad

Gingerbread Kids Posted 12/5/10
Gingersnaps Posted 12/16/11
Rum Cake and Christmas Cookies

Breakfast Treats for any early guests:

Doughnut Muffins and Christmas Coffee Cake
Juice and Coffee

Doughnut Muffins posted 7/6/11
Meanwhile before Christmas make cookies, candies, and treats then double wrap and freeze to be ready for guests and celebrations on the fly.

Spiced Pecans posted12/7/10
Buckeyes Posted 11/19/10
Crab Ball posted 11/24/10
Pineapple and Walnut Cheese Ball posted 11/12/11
Blue Cheese and Pecan Ball posted 11/20/10
I always make a cheese ball or two and tuck back into the recesses of my refrigerator and the family loves the home made salami too.  (Recipe given 12/13/10.)  There are many many more Holiday treats throughout this blog so I invite you to please look around a bit. 


Homebrewing Beer Episode TWO, American Pale Ale.

The beer stays here until time to bottle.
Saturday we consulted our friend Mark who is an old pro at home brewing and he suggested we open up our brew bucket and take a look.  The air lock has ceased bubbling and the darkness that had formed at the top has dropped to the bottom of the pail.  It smells like beer!  It looks like beer!

He suggested we siphon the brew into the bottling bucket so Brian installed the spigot and we washed and sterilized all of the pieces and utensils that would touch our brew.  The idea was to siphon off the clear liquid then to let it sit undisturbed a bit longer to let it develop and to let it continue to clear. 

We accomplished all of this in no time and felt reassured we are on the correct path in our brewing endeavor!

I must admit I was worried that we had not let the liquid cool enough before throwing the yeast.  I was sure it was under 115 degrees F  (the temp. for mixing yeast and liquid for bread baking)  but after the fact I remembered the directions said to cool it to 65-70 degrees.  What the heck is that all about??  Well anyway I had not checked the temperature because I knew we had added 14 quarts of cool water to only 6 quarts of boiling water and I knew from the feel through the side of the bucket it was not too hot had I been making bread!  So I was very relieved it appears to be a good brew!

Brian brought in an adjustable low stool on casters from the garage and we positioned the bottling bucket on it and the brewing bucket on a table and it siphoned it off easily.  Then we were able to just roll the pail after placing the lid on, to an out of the way corner to rest a few more days until we bottle.  Until then it will just sit undisturbed.

NOTE: See Homebrewing Beer Episode ONE on 11/15/12 for the beginning of this process.


Easy Meat Slicing or Carving

Sliced turkey breast.
This is my take on carving and slicing any kind of meat.  Since I just made a half of a ham and a 10 pound turkey breast for Thanksgiving it is on my mind to share with anyone who might dread and have misgivings about the subject. 

My husband's uncle Gene Cosby of Washington, Indiana was in his youth a butcher as his Father Ed Cosby owned a grocery there and it was the family business for many years.  I recall very clearly one day early in our marriage visiting and Gene carved and explained the Cosby theories of meal carving!!  He parceled out a whole bone-in ham lickity split as I watched in awe.  The first rule and actually the only rule for multiple reasons is to cook it and let it rest before you touch it with a blade. 

As time has passed I have used his lesson and broadened it to suit my love of doing things ahead.  So this year and anytime I can I cook the meat early in the day or a day or two ahead, cover and wrap it foil or plastic tightly, and then refrigerate.  When cold I can slice ham so uniformly that my son's keep asking how did I slice it as they can't believe it was done free hand by me!

The turkey becomes a snap too as I disregard all of the carving directions in the books I have read on the subject and slice each half of the breast straight down the center bone and release it from the carcass.  Turn it cut side down with the skin facing up.  Then slice across the width.

You can after slicing just slide the broad side of the knife under the slices and practically lift the whole breast half onto the waiting platter.  Usually I place the meat into large flat covered baking dishes.  When it is time to reheat I ladle a bit of broth or water over the top of the slices and warm covered in a moderate oven  (about 325 degrees F) for 20-30 minutes, just until warmed throughout.

I also do this with rump roast, pork roast, baked chicken, or anything you prepare by roasting or baking.

Lemon Cloud Rolls

Lemon Rolls
What a fun morning.  A big smile crossed my face as I sat down and noticed that the "Followers" tab on the blog reached 300 this morning and I want to thank you all so very much.  I am just tickled to death at the thought you enjoy reading my recipes, projects, musings and goings ons!  THANK YOU.

While visiting north of Indianapolis, in Fishers, Indiana I tasted and delighted in these light as a cloud, easy as pie, and very lemony sweet-tart rolls made with store bought or your own yeast roll dough.  If you are a lemon lover you may like these also.  I thought them especially good with a cup of hot tea.  I have adapted the recipe a bit but it was origionally found on a blog, by family.

Ingredients for Lemon Cloud Rolls:

12 Rhodes dinner rolls, thawed but still cold* or use your own yeast roll dough
* found in the freezer section at the grocery
zest of 1 lemon or grate a frozen lemon yielding about 1 tablespoon
1/4 - 1/2  C. sugar (use more if you prefer very sweet)
1 1/2 - 3 T. melted butter


1/4 - 1/2 C. powered sugar (used more if you like sweeter
1/2 - 1 T. lemon juice

Cut the thawed rolls in half and place in a buttered 9" x 13" pan. Drizzle with melted butter.  Mix lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl.  Sprinkle 1/2 of the lemon sugar over the rolls.  Cover and place in a warm place to raise until doubled, about 1 hour. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.   Sprinkle with the remaining lemon sugar over the tops of the rolls and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven.  Combine the glaze ingredients and drizzle over the rolls before serving.

Yield 12 lemon rolls.

The twins and I made chocolate chip cookies while I was visiting and this little snap warms my heart so I thought I would share it this morning with you!  It makes me remember all of the great fun with my granddaughters, now teens, when they were little, baking too.


Holiday Cocktail Punch Discovery and more........

Delicious and Refreshing Holiday Punch.
I left home for Indianapolis on 11/16 and returned 11/21, just in time to hit the butcher and the grocery on my way home and to prepare Thanksgiving Dinner.  It was a lovely trip to visit my oldest son Chris and twin Grandson's, age 4.  This trip way a hectic and busy, one full of catching up with loved ones!  Our son Mike and his family came up too so Emily could visit the campus of IUPUI.

Saturday we visited my sister Sheree and her family and got to see the progress Jacob is making after the terrible car accident in the spring.  Monday was spent with Mother and we went to a quilting specialty shop in Noblesville.  Tuesday I visited with my sister Linda and her family.  Each afternoon was spent with Jack and Sam and at bedtime the boys enjoyed their "sleepovers" with Grandma.

One of my discoveries was a wonderful Holiday Cocktail Punch.  Chris told me about it so I put it together for Thanksgiving day and I really like it!!

Ingredients for Holiday Punch:

4 C. apple cider
2 C. cranberry juice
2 C. dark rum

Mix altogether in a 2 quart pitcher and fill with ice.  Enjoy!

Emily's Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cake.
I must brag on Emily.  She made us a cake and decorated it for Thanksgiving dinner and I thought it was terrific. She is really getting good.  She made the fondant from the recipe I give here in the blog.  Making Marshmallow Fondant,  July 3, 4, & 6.


"An Even Better Snicker Doodle"

BIG, Sweet, Chewy Snicker Doodles.
These are without a doubt the best Snicker Doodles I have ever tasted!  They will be my new standby. When I saw this recipe I knew I had to try these.  Katie and I had previously made brown sugar Snicker Doodles, then there is my old standby recipe I have used for 40+ years  and love.  These are in between with part brown sugar and I must give them a try.  They are baking as I post this!!  I came across the recipe at and have adapted it just a bit to suite my family.  Yum, just tasted, crisp on the outside and chewy in the center.  Cookie love.

Ingredients for Best Ever Snicker Doodles"

1 C. softened butter
1 C. sugar
2/3 C. dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
3  C. flour
1/2 t. salt
1 t. soda
1/2 t. cream of tarter
1/2 C. sugar
4 t. cinnamon

Cream the butter and  sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla until smooth and fluffy.

Measure the flour, salt, soda, and cream of tarter onto a sheet of waxed paper and stir with a fork.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix well. 

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for about an hour.  Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and prepare the cookie sheets with parchment or silpat mats.

Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.

Take a heaping tablespoon of the chilled dough and roll it into a ball.  Toss it into the cinnamon and sugar and coat well.  Flatten a bit and place on the prepared sheet.  I made 6 to a pan as these are large cookies.  (Why have 2 little ones when you can have one big one I ask?)   Sprinkle just a bit more cinnamon and sugar on the tops and press to flatten a little.  Repeat for all of the cookies.

Bake 14 minutes and then let them sit in the pan 3-4 minutes after removing them from the oven.  They continue to develop  after leaving the oven.

When the cookies are cooled they should be soft and chewy in the middle.  They are a little moister than the traditional and a just a scootch sweeter.  I like they are chewy and less cake like.

Yield 26 large cookies.  Bet all of my Grandchildren will like these!

PS :  This is my 600th post on this blog.  I can't believe it.

Homebrewing Beer, Episode One, Our First Attempt.

This is the label from our can of extract.
Gees.....I have gone to the "American Home Brewers Association" website,  www, and watched the brewing films a half dozen times now.  My hope is that what we purchased is at least close to what they are directing!!  Time will surely tell.
The Home Brewing Kit.

We went to the Farm Bureau and purchased everything we should need last Saturday.  A knowledgeable fellow, Al, helped us and is also a home brewer so we felt good about his advice.   We didn't want to start this too soon and run it into having to process some part of it on Thanksgiving day!  We should be OK until at least Wednesday of next week.

The kit contained everything except the extract, sugar, caps, and bottles.
I have first drawn and let sit out overnight 5 gallons of water to loose the awful chlorine.  Then I boiled it all a  good 20 minutes and have left it covered overnight so it is sterile and cooled.  Next when Brian gets home and we have finished supper we will sterilize and get things rolling!!

ZERO HOUR.  First thing, we set about to dip 3 quarts of our prepared water into a stock pot and turn on the heat as it must be brought to a boil.  Next we drew a dishpan of hot water and after removing the label from the can of extract submerged the can in the water to warm it to make it more free flowing.  The next step was to mix 1 T. of the beer equipment disinfectant with 1 gal. of very warm water and disinfect everything that will touch the beer.  (You needn't worry about the water or pans because of the boiling and keeping them covered with their lids.)

We are making a 5 gallon batch rather than the 6 as specified by the kit as Al recommended cutting back the water only for a deeper flavor.  Hay Brian wants big flavor don't you know! 

The extract.
So now the water is boiling, everything should be sterile and we pour the contents from the can of extract into the brewing pail.

Dissolving the extract in the boiling water.
Next add the 3 quarts of boiling water and stir to dissolve.  As soon as it has dissolved Al said we should fill the empty extract can with the brewers sugar he sold us and add it, stirring again to dissolve.  Big B (Brian) is right in there and we re chugging along!

As soon as we complete this task we fill the brewing pail to the 5 gallon line with the room temperature and previously boiled water stirring away as we go.   They have a special lingo that goes along with this and if I recall correctly we now have "wort".  I think that is what they term the mixture before you "throw the yeast".

"Throwing the Yeast."
Next you do add the yeast, the water temperature is to be between 65 and 70 degrees which I find very very odd from my bread making past.   Well anyway, you stir and dissolve then proceed again.

Tucked away in a dark place.
At this point we lock on the lid, fill the air lock half full of water and insert it into the appropriate opening on the lid, and slide it away into a dark place not to be disturbed for a good week or so.  And we shall see what comes of our first attempt.........more to come.


Thanksgiving Menu and Prep for 11/22/12.

Homemade noodles ready to freeze until Thanksgiving Day.
This week I have been busy making lists of things to get done ahead and planning an easier than usual menu.  Also I have done some shopping and prep work that I will share with you.

Thanksgiving Menu  (tentative)       Recipe Given on:

Baked Ham                            Apple Butter Ham  9/24/11
Sweet Potatoes                       Sweet Potatoes  11/26/11 or 11/11/10
Green Bean Casserole            Fresh Green Bean Casserole  2/29/12
Chicken and Noodles             Make Egg Noodles  11/19/11
Vegetables and Dip
Potato Rolls                           Potato Rolls 11/18/11
Cranberries                            Cranberry Sauce  11/21/11

Pumpkin Pie                          Pumpkin Pie  10/5/10
Pecan Pie                               Pecan Pie  9/4/11
Sweetened Whipped Cream

Iced Tea and Lemonade

Munchie treats:  Chex Mix, Toasted Pecans, &  Maple Fudge
Spiced Pecans  12/7/10,  I am making the fudge for the first time this year and plan to post the recipe as soon as I do this one!
So I made this huge list on my I-phone and I am clicking things off as I get them done.  Today I have been carrying the parts to the two antique quilting frames down the stairs to the family room where I will ultimately use them.  Also I have two batches of noodles done and in the freezer and two more on the Hoosier Cabinet drying.

Tender and delicious homemade potato rolls partially baked and ready to freeze.
There is a batch of potato rolls covered and on their first rise sitting in a greased bowl on the stove.

Flaky pie crust disks ready for the freezer will become pies next week.
And, earlier today I put four pie crusts in disk shapes in the freezer, ready to thaw and roll out.

Next I have to scrub my 4 gallon stock pot and boil 4 gallons of water for Brian and I to start a batch of BEER.  Yes, he wants to start brewing our own beer.  So, this week we will start and I will keep you posted on how this turns out.  I for one am clueless and not a big beer drinker.

Tomorrow the cleaning people are scheduled in the morning to clean the upstairs carpeting and I will clean the downstairs bathroom and family room while they are here.  Then I would have to check the list to see what is left!!