Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fingertips of Spring

A bloggie friend, Gretchen Joanna, who lives out west somewhere, posted pictures of FLOWERS -- flowers, I tell you!! -- and this is the best I can do:
Tiny fingertips of Miss Springtime, tentatively testing the frigid air. I wouldn't be half surprised if she pulled them back in again! Still, it is encouraging, don't you think? I'm hoping actual blossoms will be here in a few weeks.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

For the Real Men out there:

Today was a FIRST for me! I made quiche!

This recipe is from my dear sister-in-law, Anne. I called and asked her for it because we all loved it at her house.

In a large bowl:
3 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
sliced green onion (I used 3 of them -- use as many as you like. This is where this quiche gets its GREAT flavor.)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
a dash of nutmeg
3/4 cup meat -- crispy bacon, ham, chicken, even crab
1 1/2 cup grated cheese (use Swiss, Cheddar, Monterey Jack or Havarti -- I used a combination of Swiss, Cheddar & Havarti b/c I had all three in the frig.)
1 T flour

Save out the cheese and flour, and add them right before you put it in the pie crust.
Heat your oven to 450, prick the bottom of the crust, and bake your pie crust (pick a recipe you like) for 5 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325 and bake another 5-7 minutes. Remove, and pour cheese mixture into the crust.
Bake for 40 minutes. This was a big hit with my family. Adam is not wild about quiche, but the rest of us love it. Since it had bacon and green onion, and cheeses they like, the flavor was well-received. I'd never put broccoli in it, for instance.
I will say, I truly botched the crust on this one. Do you notice that you can't even SEE the crust? I decided to use the crust from the apple pandowdy recipe -- so easy, and I love making it. But it did NOT hold up; it slid right down the side of the pie dish, and resisted all attempts by me to make it climb back up that dish! And it was soggy and not crispy, in this recipe. Ah well. Live and learn. In the pandowdy, it only has to lie there like a slug and turn glisteny. Here, I need something heartier -- crust with an attitude! I'll try a different crust recipe next time.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Crawling Back

Hi all. Last Thursday my dear husband gave me a present. He gave he his cold. Well, "cold" could be a modest term. All that to say, I've been under the weather, behind the gun, in a bind ... any more prepositional phrases out there? I'm just barely keeping ahead of the absolute essentials. In other words, laundry, schooling, sleep, cooking-- all these things are getting accomplished only in the most marginal sense.

And today Anna got sick.

So, forgive me for not posting much. We did successfully do church on Sunday, and have Bible study here at the house last night.

But I'm so ready for a break. Our spring break comes in a couple of weeks, and not a moment too soon, I'm sure! As a friend said today, I just want to check myself in somewhere, my "happy place," and stay there until life gets back to normal. February is the hardest month. A general malaise casts itself over life. Christmas is long gone. Spring is definitely not here yet. School seems to last forever. And, we all want to nothing but sleep.

Be back later.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Latin, Ice & Honey

Some random shots from lately:
Julia has made flashcards for all the Latin words she's learned so far -- all 142. Latin is her favorite subject, and she's doing very well.
Adam saw a bag of key limes at the grocery and decided he needed to make Key Lime Granita -- an Italian ice. He's been babying it all day long, visiting the freezer and fluffing it repeatedly. This is an early shot. By this evening, it filled the bowl.
And it is BURSTING with flavor -- oh, so good!
I'm sick with a head cold, so Adam cooked this evening (dear thing that he is!) and made a Honey Puff Pancake. We acquired this recipe from the Hancock House, a B&B where we stayed many years ago in Iowa. Isn't it yummy?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

When the hubby goes shopping...

...he comes home with the most surprising things!
Adam stopped in at the grocery recently and brought home a leg of lamb. On Monday he deboned it, rolled it up with rosemary, garlic, onion, and coarse sea salt, and bound it with twine.
After browning in a skillet, he cooked it in a 235 oven, until the meat was 160 degrees inside.
We enjoyed it with slightly mashed red potatoes with green onions & sour cream mixed in, and corn. He also made pitas. We had company and it was a fine time.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


... God provides.

Remember a few weeks ago when we got a new double oven for $59? Adam was ecstatic, through the roof with happiness. Frankly, he felt that perhaps God was giving him a kindness at long last. I know that sounds jaded, and it's not that we don't have LOTS to be thankful for, but life has been a bit tough over the years, and even lately, employment-wise. Adam was rather down about that.

So, the circa 1947 oven with its exposed, loose wiring and asbestos liner and melted timer was GONE. However, we still had the circa 1947 4-burner stovetop, of which only 2 burners worked, and one of those was loose and slid all over the place like an escaping fish. I guess you could say it was better than cooking over an open fire, marginally.

Until today! I returned to the junk store where we found the oven, and found a NEW General Electric stovetop insert -- a perfect fit! For $75!!

Here's the old model:
And here is the new:
I'm absolutely thrilled. It is rather surprising that the very two items we needed most would be in this store in a matter of weeks. But not at all surprising that God can and did provide them for us.

I'll be honest with you. We stepped out on a limb and took a risk by staying where we are. Adam is working part-time, but he is PASTORING. He's doing the work in God's kingdom that he's always longed to do, and he had to go through some real soul-searching, trying to figure out if God really wanted him to do this. We almost pitched this situation and moved to South Dakota. It would have been easier in many ways -- more secure. But Adam felt strongly that God wanted him not to go. Now, he is getting more interim pastoral work locally, and the work at our church is going well. God is blessing. And it is wonderful, absolutely wonderful, to be part of that blessing in the church. A new oven and stovetop are great, they really are. But better yet is the feeling that God is smiling on what you're doing, and the choices you've made.

Thank you, Lord!

I Love the Psalms

O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces shall never be ashamed.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.
O Taste and see that the LORD is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
Many are the afflictions of the righteous;
But the LORD delivers him out of them all.
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
I would have despaired unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
Be strong, and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD.
Make us glad as many days as Thou has afflicted us,
And the years we have seen evil.
Let Thy work appear to Thy servants,
And Thy majesty to their children.
And let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;
And do give permanence to the work of our hands;
Yes, give permanence to the work of our hands.
Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
For Thou hast rescued my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
My feet from stumbling.
I shall walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they train for war.
And each of them will sit under his vine
And under his fig tree,
With no one to make them afraid,
For the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.

from Psalm 34, 27, 90, 116, & Micah 4

(these photos from our snow yesterday)

Friday, February 12, 2010

I Love a Great Deal

And this little contraption was a steal :) I don't know what it's called -- an egg form?

But it sure does make perfect little eggs. And no more hard, crunchy edges on your egg. The white is all cooked to the same consistency.

Where did I buy it? At the local junk store, of course. I think I paid less than 25¢.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Love My Valentine

Adam and I decided to celebrate Valentine's Day early (to avoid weekend restaurant crowds) and to eat out (no silly gifts, cards or stuffed animals this year) to save on money. The photos are not posted because they're beautiful, but because I wanted to document the evening.
Anna took a bunch of pictures when we got home, and Adam's expression is identical in all of them. This is his "I hate smiling for a camera" expression. Sigh. She's not much of a photographer either, and this is the least-fuzzy pic:
We went to our favorite Italian place. It's recently revamped its menu and under new management. The food is greatly improved, the prices slightly higher, but the atmosphere is what we like: leisurely, romantic, quiet, happy, conversational. Often you see people there you know.

Here's the bruscetta we had for an appetizer.
We had bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar with our meal.
I changed my mind and ordered Chicken a Campagna, a dish the waitress said is very popular. It had too much spinach for me, and was a step down from the Canneloni I had there last time, which was superb. I should have ordered that, but 1) I wanted a salad, 2) I wanted steamed veggies, 3) I didn't want pasta. Should have gotten the Canneloni anyway!
But we had a lovely, long time talking, laughing, flirting and eating. Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!

I love doing it myself!

I'd never made Adam's Country Loaf before, so here I go!! As I noted, I started the sponge yesterday, giving it overnight to rise. The sponge consisted of:
1/2 tsp yeast
1 cup water
1 cup bread flour (5 oz)
1 cup whole-wheat flour (5 1/2 oz)
This should be a stiff, wet dough. Allow it to sit, covered with plastic wrap, at least 5 hours, but overnight is better.

Fold into it:
3 1/2 cups bread flour ( 17 1/2 oz)
1/2 cup rye flour (1 3/4 oz)
1 1/3 cups water, a bit more if needed
2 T honey
2 tsp salt (at the end)

(NOTE: Adam weighs his flour. I refuse to be such a slave to my bread, but it does produce more accurate recipes. So, do as you like.)

After you've folded these into the sponge, put it on your mixer with a dough hook, and mix on low for about 15 minutes, until the dough is smooth. If it seems too dry, add a tablespoon of water until it is smooth again. Then place in a lightly oiled, large bowl and allow to rise 2 hours, or until doubled.

Prepare a large colander or a stiff round basket, lined with a heavily floured muslin cloth. (Adam keeps a stiffly floured dish cloth for this purpose, stored in a ziploc.)
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and work the edges inward gently until you have a smooth ball underneath. You don't need to knead it to death.Turn the dough into the colander, cover loosely with foil (Why foil? I don't know.) Rise for 45 minutes. The round part of the dough (the underside) will actually end up being the top of your loaf, and it rises beautifully in this form.

Put some parchment paper on a large pizza peel. (We have one of these, but if you don't, just find some large flat thing that doesn't have a lip.) Place this over the colander, and flip the dough onto the paper. Slide the raw loaf onto a baking stone that's been heated fully in a 450 degree oven. Before baking, cut a good slit/cross into the dough.
Bake until the bread's internal temp is 210 degrees, about 30-40 minutes. In the first few minutes, try to get some steam in the oven to help it form a great crust. Now you can do this by putting a pan of water below the loaf on the next shelf. But it's supposed to bake on the bottom shelf. So, what we do is throw a handful of ice cubes into the bottom of the oven, and this works nicely. The loaf should come out nice and dark.
This is honestly the size of 2 whole loaves of bread. Cut it once across the middle, then, to cut the rest, set a side with its inside flat (not the crust) against the board. This way, you won't crush the loaf as you cut. The stiff sides of the loaf will support it as you cut.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Love It When ...

... My husband bakes bread.
He baked this Rustic Country Loaf yesterday, and it's almost gone! He's been reading "The Man Who Ate Everything," and has been thinking many thoughts about food, sugar, and how to be healthier. This brown loaf is healthier than the white loaf I usually make for us to eat. And it has wonderful flavor!

Well, we're now out of bread. Our power went out this morning from the high winds blowing outside. So, lunch had to be something cold. We cut up this loaf and made sandwiches -- that's great, but we ate up the loaf. I'm baking a white loaf that's in the oven now, and I'm making another country loaf for tomorrow. (It has to rise for much longer.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I Love ...

... A sweet little puppy named Sandy!

When she first came to live with us, she wouldn't lie on her back in such a trusting way. She and Julia are such fast friends, and she enjoys being with her. She's SUCH a doll!

Monday, February 8, 2010

I Love ...

... Old Family Photographs. I've been playing around with lots of them lately on facebook. Here are some of my favorites -- my parents.

I don't know the occasion for this photo -- my dad will have to fill me in when he sees this post. Were they married yet? Was he in college in Ohio? Was this a fraternity event? Or perhaps they were back in West Virginia and attending a function there. They are a very handsome couple.
My mother's high school graduation picture. She said they didn't do the whole "cap and gown" thing back then. She had seen a dress just like this one on a great film star of the day, Elizabeth Taylor. She said to my grandmother, "Can you make me a dress like that one?" Sure enough, her mom whipped up the dress (without a pattern, of course). I love the little flowers on the bodice.
Here is my daddy, I believe in high school. He was a very handsome man (still is!!) -- what a fine jaw line! My brothers resemble him quite a bit. Don't you like the hair style?
My mother in her wedding dress. Again, her mother made this dress, and I will NOT tell the story of the dress's tragic end. Sniff. Suffice it to say, it was not around for me to wear, years later. But isn't she lovely? When one friend saw this photo, she said this was the dress she was looking for when she married, but couldn't find it. So much of culture back then was truly beautiful and elegant. I think we've lost quite a bit of that.
Love you, Mother and Daddy!!

I Love ...

... A simple breakfast in the morning.
And I do prefer it at 7:30 rather than 6:00, thank you.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I Love ...

... Saturdays!
Oh yes I do, and I thought today I'd give you a little photo tour of what I did today, on a rather typical Saturday.
First, I slept in a bit late, and then I read "The Mottled Lizard" in bed, and did my Scripture reading for today. But Julia was waiting for her Saturday pancakes, so I had to get into the kitchen.
After I got dressed and popped a hat on my dirty hair, Anna and I drove to my usual Saturday morning haunt at a nearby junk store. On the way, we passed these "row houses" -- they were originally housing for local mill workers. Of course, the mills closed long ago, and the houses are in disrepair.
The sky was overcast. We were supposed to be deluged with snow and ice, but thankfully we only received a lot of slush.
This snow was left over from the last big snow we had. We still have quite a bit on the ground from then.
At last! The junk store. I shouldn't call it that -- it's a Christian ministry that accepts donations and helps many people. They recently remodeled the store and today was my first visit there after all the sprucing up. There were many boxes of books and wares that needed to be shelved, and My Organizational Self longed to start putting things in their places. I had to leave before the urge overcame me to volunteer for the day.
I did find several items there, and at another resale store. Here are today's treasures: 2 "Saveur" magazines, some of Adam's favorite cooking mags; a nice cooling rack (I've been needing one of those); a pair of unused candles with the joining cord still attached; and a really cool little metal form for cooking perfectly round pancakes, I suppose :) And what we all love about junk stores? I got all of that for only $1.78.
On the drive back home we passed more houses recently condemned or otherwise closed. I'm assuming the whole corner will be leveled for some other use. The buildings look lonesome. I can't help but think of the families who lived there for many years.
Here's an odd little building in the mill district that I always notice. I can't imagine what that ugly monstrosity on the top is for. It even has a window!
Here is the most dilapidated mill house. Someone lately has begun fixing it up, I think. It looks rather hopeless to me, but one never knows.
A local church. What unusual architecture!
I couldn't resist a picture of this yard; I pass it often. This fellow has 6 (SIX!!) of these miniature buildings in his yard. That is, in addition to his nice home. Why anyone would want six of them, I haven't a clue! What does he keep in them? You see he's gone to the trouble to put up faux stone walls around the border of his property. Soon he will have no lawn left.
Home at last! This afternoon, I cooked another apple pandowdy. This is my 3rd, and is now established as a family favorite. It's already GONE. The crust is delectable. I've discovered that if I brush an entire egg white on it, it is so crunchy and crispy.
My serving:
And supper, right on the pandowdy's heels -- homemade pizza, as usual.
Now I sit here (after Peter did the dishes and tidied the kitchen :) on my comfy couch, in front of a roaring fire Adam made for me, with Sandy draped over my feet while Julia teases her. It's been a fine Saturday. I hope yours was nice too!

Friday, February 5, 2010