Thursday, October 30, 2014

Kitchen Notes

pierogis fried in butter, with cream :: refrigerator pickles :: creamed spinach
We've been eating some pretty good food, though none of it very glamorous or refined. First off, that's the first time I've served pierogis. I say served because "make" seems too strong a word for frying something from the frozen section in a pan and adding cream and pepper. Its one of those things I didn't really know people ate until we moved north-ish. It may become a habit.
This is my first ever attempt at refrigerator pickles and let me tell you, I nailed it. I used this recipe and used half the sugar, like she indicates, but also added some pickle crisp granules. Julian actually ate some AND said they were tasty, though I think he would have preferred them with the full sugar.
Last but not least, we had creamed spinach on crackers for dinner this week. I've got no shame. I loosely followed this recipe, more cream, no artichokes. It was delicious.
What's been happening in your kitchen? Show and tell with Heather @ Beauty That Moves.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Honey Hat on Hold

I've gone as far as I can with the ball of yarn I had. That's the problem with knitting from stash. Now what. I think I will start a shawl for a Christmas gift, one I KNOW I have enough yarn to finish, and one that uses different needles, so that shouldn't pose a problem. I'll just ignore the honey hat until I get a chance to hit up my LYS (though it is actually for ME, so I hope it will be done before the true cold sets in). 

What am I reading? Not much really. Julian is reading CS Lewis's The Four Loves with two friends and he is reading it aloud to me at home. I also am part-way through The Blood of An Englishman by MC Beaton. It isn't holding my attention much but it doesn't require a lot of attention, either, so I can easily pick up where I left off.
What are you reading and/or knitting? Show and tell with Ginny.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Around the house

The sun has still been shining, which is odd for Morgantown this time of year. In our experience, the sun goes away the first of October and comes back out in May, but we only just got our first frost last night. I wonder if the winter will be mild.

I've been thinking on what handmade things I'd like to get done before the holidays. I never know if made gifts will be appreciated and I hate to go to the trouble of making them if they are not. The only person I've got checked off the list already is my sister - I'm sorry for her if she asks for something specific, but she is taken care of with this.

The cross stitch hasn't had much attention since the little houses are getting done. I've not been journaling the houses, but I am still making them. I've not counted recently, but I should!

Keeping calm and crafting on with Frontier Dreams.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cookie bender

I don't know if it is the chill in the house, being tired from going back to work, or something else completely, but I want cookies. And more cookies. Its not like me to crave cookies, I generally trend towards fruity sugary things like poundcake and berries, ice cream, etc. Since I went back to work last week, I've tried to keep things simple in the kitchen, to get in a few routines again. I've been packing lunches... and making cookies.

The only recipe I will ever use for oatmeal raisin cookies is the Quaker Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookie recipe, but I make it with either cranberries or dried cherries (like this time). The cookies in the top photo are my mother in law's wedding cookies. My mother made these when I was young too, and  think the recipe is pretty standard, though called Danish wedding cookies, Mexican wedding cookies, and/or Italian wedding cookies. 

"International" Wedding Cookies

1 c. pecans
1 stk butter (cold is fine if you are using a food processor)
1/4 c. confectioner's sugar
1 tsp.vanilla extract
1 c. all purpose flour (a GF all purpose blend works OK too)
1/8 tsp salt
additional confectioner's sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350F. Put pecans in food processor and whiz until finely ground. Add all remaining ingredients (cut the butter into smaller pieces) and whiz until a dough forms. Use small spoonfuls or scoop from a small sized batter scoop. Roll to shape the balls uniformly. You may need to chill the dough if you find the shaping process difficult. Bake on an un-greased cookie sheet in 350F oven for 10 minutes. Gently roll hot cookies in confectioner's sugar to coat. Leave to cool completely on a cooling rack and re-roll in the sugar. 

What's happening in your kitchen? Show and tell @ Beauty That Moves

Sunday, October 19, 2014


We took a bit of a road trip, the longest the kayaks have ever been from home, down to Upper Pleasant Valley Wildlife Management Area and Tygart Lake. It was uncharted territory for us and a nice departure from the usual scenery. The foliage was just perfect. 

We paddled all around the pond for a while, spooked out a family of red winged blackbirds, paddled up the creek and through the cow pasture until a downed tree across the creek prohibited further passage. 

We were entertained by an osprey that kept screeching from its perch and diving into the pond for a snack. It was fascinating to watch, and something we'd never witnessed before. That's him/her in the photo above. 

Tonight we are expecting our first frost. The temp is already 36F so I am confident we will get a good one. It is late coming, I feel, and as beautiful as this fall has been, I think I am about ready for putting the garden to bed. Ah. I should go clip some fresh cilantro first, though. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Moving too fast

corned beef :: cookies for breakfast :: spoon bread

Didn't I just post yesterday what happened in the kitchen last week... wasn't yesterday Thursday? Isn't today Friday? How does the grass need mowing again so soon? What happened to the weekend?

Whew! Like is flying by at a break-neck speed for us. I don't even know what we ate this week but I know my fridge is chock-full of leftovers, so we must not have starved. I made squash casserole, more couscous, a for-real corned beef (for the first time), lots of salad, and who knows what else.

Like I've mentioned in previous posts this fall, I'm on a bit of a corn/cornmeal kick. I was flipping through the Nero Wolfe Cookbook and was surprised to see a recipe, which I've always considered pretty humble food, in such a gourmet cookbook. Then I was in an antiques store and found an old ladies auxiliary cookbook from Monticello that probably has four different ones.

Consider this week one of the spoon bread cook-off. This picture was the Three Eggs and Boiled Milk recipe from the Nero Wolfe Cookbook (there was an option with fewer eggs).

Spoonbread #1 
from The Nero Wolfe Cookbook

5 Tbsp butter, melted
1 c. white cornmeal
1 tsp salt
2 c. boiling water
1 c. milk
3 large eggs, beaten
1/3 c raisins, soaked in Kirschwasser (brandy) (optional)

Add boiling water to cornmeal and salt, mix and let sit for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 425F. Bring milk to just a boil then remove from heat and stir, carefully, into cornmeal mixture. Temper eggs with some of the cornmeal mixture, adding remaining eggs a little bit at a time back into main bowl. Stir in melted butter and raisins (if using) and pour mixture into buttered baking dish. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown on top and set through. Serve with maple syrup and or cream and currant jelly.

Observations: This spoonbread bakes up like a cornmeal soufflé, which is a bit different than I am used to. It was delicious straight out of the oven, albeit a bit eggy in the way that a clafoutis or a cream puff can be eggy. For that reason, I wish that I had used the raisins, or dried cherries, and had it for breakfast. It was excellent with the maple syrup and really had a melt-in-your-mouth sort of texture. In the future, I will plan it as a brunch option instead and perhaps, in lieu of raisins, add grated cheese instead.

Play along by sharing what's in your kitchen at Beauty That Moves.

PS, I went back to work this week part time as an admin. asst. for a local church. I like the work but it takes a chunk out of my routine!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cut card

I was bumbling through Pinterest one day not too long ago and found a pin that looked interesting - it was about block carving. I sent it to Julian (on his computer, across the living room, sheesh) and he liked it too.  A little bit of research and a mini shopping spree later, and we spent one night last week coming up with our Christmas card print for this year.

We've never done anything like this before, but I thought there was no sense jumping off the deep end without a reason, so I hatched the homemade card plan and got to work. We bought the speedball starter kit and Julian said if I would draw something out, he would carve it (isn't it nice to be good at different things?). I found inspiration in the words of silent night, my least favorite Christmas song, so that's pretty ironic.  Since this was our first endeavor with block printing, I wanted something simple, and the idea of calmness came to mind. All is calm, all is bright.

Don't you just love it? We've got ink and a brayer on order, so we've not had a chance to experiment with the actual printmaking part. Can't wait for the next step!

Keep calm and craft on with Frontier Dreams

Monday, October 13, 2014

'round here

Bittersweet vine :: Julian's yellow rose :: my honey hat :: Cathedral State Park :: Cheat Lake :: mystery weed seeds :: common loons @ 60x :: common loons closer

Around here, fall is in full force. Julian's mid-term grades were submitted on Friday, what a weight off his shoulders. Now just more of the same. Make a to-do list, check off the to-do list, feel like you never get enough done, eat, sleep, repeat. How is it that this season of life needs so much doing? 

Julian has taken me out twice this past week - it is so nice to get out of the house, away from my chores, away from these machines that light up and suck our brain power and affix our eyes to them! We had some bad weather come through over the weekend and it brought the first fallout of birds through our waters. It was a delight to get out on the lake and see these (five total) common loons. We have only ever seen one before, and felt fortunate to have seen that! Our county has an avid birding group of about 5-6 folks who are out and about a lot more often than we are, so it was even more fun to see these birds that no one else saw, and no one else has reported seeing since.

When joggers and other passers-by passed us by, I just wanted to shake them - how can people not care that this is a bird they may never see again in their lives - and five of them!? How do people just not care to observe anything around them - not know that the red bird they see in the tree is a cardinal, the difference between a bluebird and a bluejay? Imagine also, with all the things Julian and I do manage to see, how much is happening all around us that we do not even have a clue of?! It's overwhelming. It's amazing. It's the way God made it. How can people not care to wonder at all that He made?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Little Houses, Week IV

I didn't take a picture of each house on its one each day, nor did I journal when I did them. We've had some gloomy fall days and some stunning ones too. We've been thwarted by the rain and couldn't get the grass mowed until Monday, and then the gloomy-ness and mist settled back in. I'll take it. Having a cloudy day is like having permission to slow down a bit, to linger a little longer at the things that fill your day.

Sunday was the first day that I've been home and not made a house. I came home from our friend's house, at about 10pm, with a terrible headache. I didn't make the house and I was, surprisingly, just fine with that and didn't feel like a miserable failure of a human.

I am officially > 10% finished with construction on my houses. My goal is a twin sized quilt made of 200 houses. Today's house makes 22. It is such a rewarding project and I cannot wait to see it finished!

Project Link
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

Thursday, October 9, 2014

In the kitchen

Nothing too exciting here. It was my birthday last weekend and it didn't even occur to me until the last minute to bake anything for the occasion. I had baked this apple pie just because I had the apples and wanted to try the recipe. It was good, better chilled instead of warm because of the cream part, but I can't make an honest assessment because I accidentally doubled the salt in the crust. Yikes!

That potato soup was, undoubtably, the best I've ever made. I used yukon gold potatoes, loosely followed Pioneer Woman's recipe, and thickened it with a white sauce I learned about by watching Julia Child reruns (c. 1956). I might be able to duplicate it but don't hold your breath.

Last but not least, and first in the photos, I needed a meal for two and I had leftover couscous for one and a salmon portion for one, so I made spinach and kale salads, topped with couscous and bits of salmon. It was delicious, but didn't last long in our bellies on this adventure down the Decker's Creek Rail Trail:

What's happening in your kitchen this week? Show and tell with us @ Beauty That Moves.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Yarn Along

Whew. It feels good to be back into the routine of posting on Yarn Along. Its been a few weeks. I've not gotten as far as I had hoped on my little honey hat, mainly because the yarn is small and the needles are small and I forgot how long it takes to get visible progress when things are small. Reading on the other hand... there are so many books.

Between, Georgia was positively delightful. There are so many quirky family dynamics showcased in this book. Sometimes life isn't pretty but the joy is that we get to pick and choose the parts we focus on to make it as pretty as possible. I had no idea how this book would turn out, and there were a few parts that made me blush, but all in all, it is a good story about a young woman coming into her own, the role reversal between mother and daughter as care providers, and it brings some interesting issues to light regarding the treatment of deaf/blind members of our communities. Read it!

The Peach Keeper is new to my list and I hope to get started on it this evening, so no real news on that one yet. Also in the queue are The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton and Someone by Alice McDermott. Have you read either of those?

Join in the show and tell with Ginny

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Little Houses, Week III

  This is the first week I've had to make myself do my house every day. I've been trying to do house chores, seasonal things, like getting the fall decorations out, putting up apples (baking pies!) and stuff like that. This has meant that my houses get done late at night and then they are frustrating. I should get back to doing them first thing in the morning then just going on with the day.

House 11: I like this fabric for the sky. I am noticing that my favorite of the scrap fabrics are getting used up and leaving me less excited about the leftovers.

House 12: This is new sky fabric and I think I like it though it is pretty bright comparatively. Sunday means this house gets an open door. We had a great time with our friends at their house. The boys played with fire and the girls watched the season premiere of The Paradise on PBS. Haven't heard of it? Look it up. I LOVE IT. (Note this is the first house that is mirror imaged. Julian said he liked that on some other house quilts we looked at, so here goes.)

House 13: I really liked the combo of the black door and orange front. Then it sort of bothered me that it looked Halloween-y.

House 14: We had a great adventure today, so I was later than normal starting my house. We went to Cathedral State Park and saw a snow goose, which was a first for both of us. I finished this house in record time, and by that, I meant the longest time ever. I finished quickly, then decided the roof didn't sit quite to my liking. I went to rip the seam and ended up gouging a hole in the roof, so I had to replace the whole roof section. Not fun. I was glad I stuck with it, though, and made sure to get my little house done, despite the two hours it took me.

Tree! : When Julian and I were looking at examples of quilts other people made using this pattern, we liked the ones that mixed it up a bit. So I made a tree block today instead of a house. We both like it.

House 15: This is my birthday house, so it is actually double sized. It will take up the space of four little houses. I decided big days in our life would warrant big houses. Partly, this is because I'm doing it once per day so I like them to reflect my day a little bit and partly because they are easier when they are bigger. Easy is good when you're having a big day. Also, this is the first time I've used that bird chintz and the first time pink has shown up in the blocks.

 Associated links:
Project Link
Week 1
Week 2