Friday, January 31, 2014

Scaredy Cat

We have two rescue cats.  They are from the same litter and couldn't be more different.


One has short hair.  One has very long hair.


One loves people and will walk up to guests and request (demand) attention.

One hides.  One of his favorite places is on top of a bookcase.

Today I looked all over for him after some visitors had left.  Where did he go?

It seems he climbed under the quilt on the bed.


It's safe to come out, now.  You big, fat, baby

And, yes, I do know the quilt is upside down.  The top has some tears that need to be repaired.  On the list....

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pot Roast

In between going to various doctor's appointments and physical therapy, I haven't gotten anything done.  I work a little on the quilt.  I work some on the website I am building on Wix and wonder if Go-Daddy is the better/easier site.  I have checked into Square for processing credit cards and AirBnB as a site to send guests our way.  Lots of research, no progress.   I wander to the basement and tweak or clean or look around and imagine I am a B&B guest.  What would I think?

The Health Department came and gave approval, so we just have to wait for the report and then we can get started.  I can now get the business license from the county and step back waiting for the hordes of people clamoring to stay here!

In the meantime, I made a Pot Roast in my Crock Pot

Pot Roast

Chuck Roast, about 3 pounds
1can beef broth, about 1 1/2 cups
1 packet Lipton Onion Soup mix
1/3 cup flour, optional
salt and pepper
2 large onion halved and then quartered
15 or 20 baby carrots
6 or 7 red potatoes, halved and then quartered

1/2 cup of red wine, optional


Trim the roast and pat it dry.  Place the flour and s&p on a dinner plate and mix.  Heat about 1 Tablespoon olive oil medium high in a large fry pan.  I used cast iron.


Roll the roast in the flour to coat.  If you don't choose to use four, sprinkle salt and pepper on the roast.  Brown the roast on all sides.  It should take about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.  You may have to hold it up when browning the sides.


Place the browned roast in the Crock Pot and turn it to low.


 Add the onions to the fry pan and brown a bit.  Place them in the Crock Pot and brown the carrots.  Just a few minutes to get it browned, not cooked.  Add the carrots to the Crock Pot.


Now deglaze the pan by adding the wine, if you choose.  You can go right to the broth if you wish.  I have some Burgundy left over from some meal or other.  I sniffed it to make sure it had not turned to vinegar and poured it in. 


After cooking a few minutes, I started scraping the bottom of the pan to get up all the cooked bits from the roast and the veggies.  Then I added the beef broth and let it reduce for about 5 minutes.  Add the Lipton mix and stir until dissolved.  Pour all the liquid into the Crock Pot, cover and go away for about 5 hours.

Come back to the kitchen and take a deep breath of Pot Roast flavors.  Yum!  It's only lunch so you can't have it yet, but it is time to add the potatoes.  I didn't want mushy potatoes, so I chose to add them about half way through the process.  If you have to go to work and can't add something half way through, go ahead and add the potatoes with the rest of the veggies.

Now go away for another 4 to 5 hours. 

I chose to make a gravy with some of the cooking liquid.  I just made a roux with about 2 Tablespoons butter that I melted in a pan and then added 2 Tablespoons flour.  Cook until well blended and add about 1 cup of the cooking liquid.  Don't worry if you get some of the onion bits from the Lipton's mix.  They will just add to the flavor!   Whisk until smooth and thickened.


This was a perfect meal for a winter day. 


The house smelled great and I had leftovers for sandwiches.  On the third day I chopped everything up and heated the hash in a bit of olive oil and served it with horseradish sauce on toast.  Three dinners out of the roast.  Works for me.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ginger Beef and Ramen Noodle Soup

I took Cook's Country magazine for a year.  It is a great magazine for people that like to cook and I like the pictures and the detailed explanations of WHY.  I stopped it because I just can't throw them away and I never go back and look up a recipe.  That is what the Internet if for!


But they sent me another copy in the hopes of roping me in again.  There are a few recipes in it that I am going to make.  So I am weakening.  Maybe if they send me ANOTHER one and IT is full of recipes I want to fix....

There was a recipe card for a 30 minute meal.  It was for a soup that sounded delicious.  And there was a snowy forecast.  So I made the soup.  The recipe called for larger amounts for more people than just the two of us.  I was just making it for us with maybe some left over for lunch.  I will give the amounts they used and if you notice I have different amounts, that is why.


Ginger Beef and Ramen Noodle Soup

1 pound flank steak, trimmed  The store only had 3 pound flank steaks, so I just bought some top sirloin.
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
8 cups chicken broth
1 (2 inch) piece of ginger
3 (2 inch) strips of lime zest and 1 Tablespoon of the juice
4 packages instant ramen noodles.  Discard the seasoning packets
5 green onions sliced parts, too!
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup fresh cilantro


Pat the steak dry with paper towels and season it with salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in a 12 inch fry pan over medium high heat until just smoking. 


Add the steak and cook until medium rare, about 3 to 4 minutes each side.  Place the meat on a cutting board and tent some foil over the top.  Let it sit for at least 5 minutes. 

While the steak is cooking pour the broth into a Dutch oven.  Add the lime peel.  Cut the ginger in half lengthwise and take the side (or butt) of a  large knife and smash each half a bit.  Add that to the soup. Wash it first, but don't bother to peel it.

When the soup comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and cover it for 10 minutes.  Use this time to slice the meat, cut the green onions and chop up the cilantro.


If you found some flank steak, slice it in half and then cut thin strips against the grain.  I used top sirloin and just cut some very thin slices, about one to two inches long.


Use a slotted spoon to remove the lime slices and the ginger.  Discard them.  Add the noodles and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.  If you don't want long pieces of noodles to slurp up, break each block of noodles into about 4 pieces.  This is a bit messy, but so is slurping up long noodles from your soup.


Stir in the green onions, the lime juice and the soy sauce. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a serving of the sliced steak and a sprinkle of cilantro.


This is an easy soup and really only took about 30  minutes!  It was delicious and filling.  Perfect for a snowy evening.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Not So Much Snow

The weather forecasters were calling for quite a bit of snow here in Buchanan.  We had about 1/2 to an inch in the morning which promptly melted.   Then we had another inch or so in the evening.  Rather a big bust.


I imagine that sounds like bragging to the folks along the East Coast that got slammed.  We frequently get by-passed by the bigger storms.  The mountains to the west seem to protect our little valley and I am glad for it.  Except I kind of wanted a big snow storm where we are snowed in for a day or two.

No such luck.


The snow did seems to blow in both directions, though.  It came in through our screen porch on the back of the house.  It also came in quite a bit onto the front porch.


And now it's pretty cold, so I think it might stick around for a day or two.  But we're not snowed in.  and I have no excuse for not getting anything done.

Yes, I know all the things on my list are inside things, but a snow day is a snow day and you aren't allowed to work.  I think it is a Federal Law.  Or maybe a State Law.  Or a law of Nature.   But now there is no excuse.  (sigh)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Monkey Pecan Sticky Cinnamon Rolls

I woke up at 5:00 and couldn't get back to sleep. I don't know why, I just couldn't.  For some reason I started thinking about cinnamon rolls.  Probably because I have no business eating anything like that until I lose 10 pounds.  I grabbed my phone and started surfing around looking at recipes, trying not to wake Lee.  I like pecan sticky buns, too.  Oh, and then I ended up looking at monkey bread recipes.  You know, the round balls of dough rolled in butter and cinnamon sugar and baked in a pan.  Then you pull off bits of buttery deliciousness and eat them with your fingers.

But I shouldn't be eating anything like that.  An neither should you.  At least until March.  Or April.

You know, I still have a few balls of frozen yeast rolls in the freezer.  I wonder if I could make something with cinnamon sugar and nuts using them.  That way I don't have to wait for the dough to rise twice.  And once again my semi-serious intention to stop eating baked items has bitten the dust.

But, think about this.  We are starting a B&B, as soon as the county decides to give us the final go ahead.  And I will be required to feed people delicious breakfasts.  So this is market research.  All prep work for that future business.  Due diligence, as it were.

Because I fused monkey bread, cinnamon rolls and pecan sticky buns together I had a hard time naming my concoction, and that is why I made....


Monkey Pecan Sticky Cinnamon Rolls

Frozen yeast rolls
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
6 Tablespoons butter, divided use
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon

I had 9 rolls left, so that is how many I made.  You should be able to make an even dozen using the amounts I have written.


Spray a plate with Pam.  Place the frozen dough balls on it and spray them.  Spray some plastic wrap and cover the dough.  Go away for 2 hours.

When the balls are thawed, but haven't risen, you can turn on the oven to 350°.  Spray a muffin tin with Pam.  Set it aside.


Chop up the pecans.  I counted out about 4 pecan halves for each dough ball and chopped them up.  You may want to do a bit more if you are making more than the 9 I made.


Place the pecans in a cast iron pan over medium  and let them toast for a few minutes.  Add 4 Tablespoons of butter, or half a stick into the pan.  When that melts add 1/4 cup brown sugar and the corn syrup.  Cook for another minute, until everything is melty and bubbly. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. It will bubble up a bit, but just stir it in.


Spoon about 1 Tablespoon of the nutty syrup into the bottom of the muffin tins.  Then set up your assembly line.


Melt the last two Tablespoons of butter in the microwave.  Cover the bowl with a paper towel to avoid splattering.  Place 1/3 cup of sugar and the cinnamon in another bowl and mix well.  Uncover the softened dough balls and get a very clean pair of scissors.


Snip a dough ball in half and then each half gets snipped until you have four even lumps.  Dip them in the butter and then roll them in the cinnamon sugar.  Place four lumps in each muffin tin.  Do all the dough balls this way.


I ended up with some extra cinnamon sugar.  I sprinkled some on top of the rolls and then tossed the rest, but I bet it would have been good in a cup of coffee!

Cook at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes until they start to brown.  It is hard to tell with all that cinnamony goodness.  I just did it for 20 minutes. Let them cool for 10 to 15 minutes...if you can wait that long.


Now, how to get them out.  At first I used a thin rubber spatula and kind of scooped out the whole thing onto a plate.  I wanted to invert the whole pan over a plate, but my dinner plates were too small, so I scooped out another one and then inverted.

It will take a minute or so for all the pecan nuttiness to ooze onto the rolls.  I ended up helping a bit with the same rubber spatula.  You don't want to leave any of that in the pan!


Use a fork or your fingers to pull off a bite sized chunk.  Make sure you get your fair share of the pecans.  Let your husband know he can stop work and have a treat. 

Realize that you have to try them after they cool.  In order to make sure they are still good.  For the future guests, you understand. 

Place one on a plate and heat for 10 seconds in the microwave to recreate the gooey texture of the nuts.  Moan just a wee bit and place the others in a covered plastic container so that you might forget they are still in your house.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Quilt

I have been spending too much time doing nothing.  It seems I injured my sacroiliac joint and was having muscle spasms.  Muscle relaxants work for that, but then I get so relaxed I go read a book and get nothing accomplished.  One thing I can do is work on my quilt.  And obsess over it.

I discovered why people get simple, extra wide fabric for the back of a quilt.  I had thought of doing that and then found some really cool fabric online that was covered in airplanes.  That sounded perfect for my FedEx quilt.  Naturally it wasn't wide enough to cover the quilt, so I had to buy 3 yards so that I could cut it and piece it.  THAT'S where the problems came in.


Fabric isn't always printed in perfect alignment with the warp and woof of the threads.  And when I pieced the back of the quilt, I would have a hard time making sure all the lines of airplanes matched up.


My Fons and Porter quilting book had a suggestion that sounded good to me. 


I could put in a contrasting inset strip to make the back more interesting.  But I still wanted the lines to work.


The problem is made especially difficult when trying to make a quilt sandwich.  This is where you place the back of the quilt face down, add the batting for the middle and then lay the pieced front on top.  Next you baste or pin it all together and then stitch all over the top to make it one cohesive piece.

This meant I couldn't see how the little rows of airplanes would line up on the back.  I flipped the fabric up and down and back and forth to see how I was doing and finally I gave up.  My friend Jackie had told me days ago that no one was going to see the back anyway.  Good point.  But I still wanted it to be right even if I didn't see how I was going to do that.  And THIS is why I like to take a class for each quilt.  You have somebody standing right there to ask, in a whiny voice, " NOW what do I do?"

This was also the first time I had pin basted a quilt all by myself and not at the library.  The library has a bunch of tables you can place side by side to lay out the quilt at  a height that doesn't hurt to pin.  This meant I did all the work on the floor where there was some carpet to hold the fabric in place.  Not as good as taping it to the tables in the library.  And then I had to crawl around on the floor to place the pins in the smoothed out "sandwich".  I can't crawl on my knees so I sat and twisted sideways.  Oops.  That hurts.  So I lay down on my stomach.


At one point Lee came to see what I was doing.  He suggested I take a break.  I thought about it and then realized the cats and dog would love to play with my quilt. I kept going and told him, " You do realize that this is the only gift you are getting for Valentine's Day, right?"


I trimmed the whole thing to get it ready for the quilting.  I KNOW the back isn't even.  But you can't tell while riding past it on a fast horse, right?  And this is going to be hung on a wall, so no one will see the back anyway.  I could have use an old sheet.


At least that is what I keep telling myself when I am OBSESSING over getting it wrong.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Shoo Fly Pie

Once again my reading addiction has got me craving a food.  Not something healthy, like a salad, but something baked and delicious.  Not that you can't love a good salad.

This time it was a Shoo Fly Pie.  I looked up recipes and there are many variations.  I also found opinions that the origin of the Shoo Fly pie was the Treacle Tart, found in England.  It sounded like something I would like to try.  I was having company and wanted a dessert and so a Shoo Fly Pie was born.

I found many different recipes for the crust.  But I am lazy.  I didn't want to make the crust, so I used a pre made crust from the store.  I have no idea if a homemade crust would make a difference, but I am not a crust snob.  This one tasted just fine.  I used the Food Network Magazine recipe for the filling.


Shoo Fly Pie

1 pre made pie crust, room temperature
1 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 large egg
1 cup molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup boiling water


Spray Pam in a 9 inch pie plate.  Unroll the room temperature crust carefully and place in the pie plate.  Turn the edges under and pinch all around to make a fluted crust.  Place in the refrigerator for an hour to chill.


Go read a book or start dinner.  You have an hour to kill.


Place a baking sheet in the middle of the oven and pre heat it to 375°.  You will need this because mine overflowed and yours probably will to!


Whisk the flour, brown sugar and butter in a large heat proof bowl.  Take out 2/3 cup of the mixture and set aside. 


This will be your topping.


Add the egg, molasses and baking soda to the brown sugar mixture in the heat proof bowl and mix well.   Then pour in the boiling water and whisk until smooth. 


Get the pie shell out of the refrigerator and carefully pour in the molasses mixture.  Sprinkle on the brown sugar mixture that you were saving.  Carefully place the very full pie plate on the hot baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.

After the 10 minutes are up, reduce the heat to 350 ° and bake for 40 to 45 more minutes.  Mine took the whole 45 minutes.  Bake until the crust is golden and the filling is firm.


Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.  Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Or be decadent and serve with whipped cream.  Oh, heck.  Let's not kid ourselves here.  I put a big honking scoop of vanilla ice cream on mine and loved every bit of it.


Next time I might add a cup of pecans and make a different sort of pecan pie.  I don't like the gooey bottom on a pecan pie.  You would need a bigger pie plate, though.  That's okay.  I have bigger ones!

My Aunt Suzy brought me a big jar of sorghum.  I bet a sorghum Shoo Fly Pie would be good, too.  Maybe I'll make a sorghum pecan Shoo Fly Pie.  How bout that, Suzy?  Want to come for dessert?