Friday, August 30, 2019

Friday five ~ August 30

Some weeks Friday seems to roll around very quickly.  This week it seems to have taken a bit longer.  I am looking forward to the weekend!  No concrete plans as yet, other than having a friend over for supper tonight; we aren't even sure yet if my hubby will have Monday off.  But weekends are always a nice respite!

Without further ado, here's my Friday five:

1.  A nice change in the weather made it cool enough to bake cookies last Friday.  I had bought some of these baking chips on clearance at Walmart.

Have you seen them?  Here's the description:
I was quite surprised that they contained no artificial flavors.  All I tasted was salted caramel, but still I assumed artificial flavors were used.  Guess I didn't read the bag too thoroughly!

I used the cookie recipe on the back of the bag.  Here's the link:  Sea Salt Caramel Chip Cookies.  I made them quite a bit smaller than specified and I formed them into balls rather than dropping them.  l also used the Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten Free Baking Flour.
After so much hot, humid weather where one couldn't even think of turning on the oven, it was nice to be able to bake.

2.  A great time with friends on Saturday as we were invited to a get-together to see their family members visiting from out of state.  This is what we like to do ourselves when our faraway family is able to visit -- we try and host a get-together where they can see a lot of family and friends at one time.  I took along this  S’mores Pizza, plus a tortellini salad.

As mentioned in a previous post, it took less than 3 minutes for this dessert to disappear!

3.  A beautiful afternoon on Sunday for a hike to a peaceful lake.  Sometimes one just needs to be near water.  That's how it was for us and we tried to store it up for the week to come.  Something about that sailboat just speaks peace to my heart. 

4.  Seeing God answer prayer for wisdom this week.  When I'm outside my comfort zone, I might tend to ask someone who is comfortable in a specific area for advice.  This time my hubby was working on a job site where he had no cell service.  I briefly thought of consulting someone else, but the Lord impressed upon me that He is wisdom and that He promises to give wisdom when we ask.  There was no need to rely upon anyone but Him.  What a blessing to see how He answered my prayers!

Delightful graphic from Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
5.  Nicer weather this week made it possible for me to work on some of my projects outdoors at the patio table on the back deck.  (We bought this table toward the end of last summer and I hadn't really thought of it as more than a place to eat.  But it's a nice large rectangular table, perfect for working on many different kinds of projects.)  Here's some of what I did:

* Planned menus and made my grocery list

* Worked on my Sunday School lesson

* Made some mailing envelopes to package orders from my Etsy shop, using repurposed calendar pages.  I made 5 larger envelopes and 1 of the smaller ones.  This is a project I plan to take up north when we go at the end of September.  If we get some rainy days (and it would be truly surprising if we didn't), I will work on a bit of envelope making.  They are easy once I get started.
Back of a larger envelope
Front of the same envelope
Back of smaller envelope
Front of smaller envelope
* Did some work in my scrapbook journal.
I'm currently using this as a place to journal my study of this book: Make Room for What You Love.  Inching my way through this book one question at a time has enabled me to work in my scrapbook journal much more regularly.

Oh, what an encouragement this book has been to me!  I've been so blessed by this thought:

And I really find myself thinking about it when I am about to set something down in a place where it doesn't really belong.  Try this for yourself and see if it doesn't help!

Yes, it truly has been a blessed week!  What are some blessings you've seen in your own life this week?

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

This 'n' that in the kitchen

I had a few kitchen experiments that turned out well in the past week or so, and just wanted to share them.  I love it when an idea to use up a leftover (or solve some other similar problem) works out well!

I'd mentioned that last Sunday was our corn roast at church.  We ended up bringing some of the leftover corn home, and I reheated it to serve alongside a couple of different meals -- wrap sandwiches and turkey burgers, if I remember right.  I had a couple ears left over after that,  and decided to cut the corn off the cob and put it in this Hearty Butternut Squash Soup

In that same soup, I also used up a few more leftovers: a quart of chicken broth, frozen from the last time I cooked chicken breasts in the crockpot; and instead of using fresh sliced peppers and chopped onions, I used dibs and dabs of frozen ones I had on hand.  I changed the recipe up a lot; used frozen pureed squash, left out the beans, and cut the quantities down a good bit.  The soup turned out fantastic and fed us for several meals. 

And then there was the leftover blueberry sauce.  I mentioned in my Friday five that our dear friends Sam and Jenn and their boys had joined us for supper last Sunday. Mr. T had made waffles, and I made this


1/2 cup sugar
1 Tblsp. cornstarch
1/3 cup water
2 cups blueberries, raspberries, OR cut-up strawberries

Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a 2-quart saucepan. Gradually stir in the water. Add the fruit and bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Serve warm. Makes about 2 cups.

I had made a batch of blueberry sauce and one of strawberry.  Nearly a pint of the blueberry one was left.   Not wanting it to mold,  I cast about for a way to use it.  We also had in the fridge a cup or two of fresh blueberries that a landowner on a logging job had given to my hubby.  I mixed them with the sauce, put it in the bottom of a pie pan, and made this

3 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest (optional but yummy)
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tblsp. butter
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tblsp. sugar
2 Tblsp. cold butter
1/3 cup cream or evaporated milk

Heat oven to 425º. In a bowl, toss the berries with the next four ingredients (sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla). Place the mixture into a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate. Cut the butter into pieces and scatter over the berries.

Sift the 1 cup flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together into a mixing bowl. Cut in the 2 Tblsp. butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the cream and stir with a fork until the dough comes together. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead 30 seconds or so. Roll the dough into a round slightly smaller than your pie plate and about 1/4 inch thick. Place the dough over the berries in the pie plate and cut several deep slashes in the top.

Bake the cobbler at 425º for 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the fruit is tender. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with powdered sugar sifted over the top.

Serves 4.

This experiment turned out to be absolutely delicious.  I had made this cobbler in the past but I would have had no idea it could turn out so well using the blueberry sauce.

(I left out the sugar in the blueberry part, and also omitted the lemon component because I had put lime juice in the sauce.  I also didn't put the vanilla in with the blueberries, but put it in the topping instead.  I did dot the filling with the butter, though.)

So last week I bought some strawberries at the supermarket.  I had no real idea how I was going to use them, but the price was great,  so I bought 2 boxes.  Of course you know that I didn't get to use them right away.  So I ended up tossing maybe a cup of them, and then decided I would try that cobbler recipe again using diced strawberries instead of blueberries.

This time I did use the sugar, and I think a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch would have been a good idea as well.  I also mixed in about a half cup of strawberry sauce that was left from the waffle buffet.  Again, I left out the lemon zest and juice, since I had put lemon juice in the sauce -- and again, I put the vanilla in the topping rather than the filling.

This also came out very good, though not as good as the blueberry one.  It tastes like warm strawberry shortcake in a pie plate, which is not a bad thing.

And then lastly for my kitchen escapades, a recipe I've blogged about before:   I made one of these S’mores Pizzas to take to a get-together on Saturday.  As you read the post (if you click over), you will see that the recipe actually makes two, but I decided to make just one because I didn't want any leftovers.  What was I thinking?

Photo from  Five Heart Home
These are so good and always a hit, but the reception of this dessert on this occasion had to set some kind of a record.  (To simplify serving at the picnic, I had cut the pizza at home, using a sharp knife dipped frequently in hot water to preserve the look of the marshmallows.  It worked really well.)

The serving table was pretty crowded with food, so I waited until everyone had been through the food line at least once before bringing out this pizza.  Well.  I am not in any way exaggerating when I say that within 3 minutes of placing this on the table, there was nothing left but crumbs.

Lesson learned.  Next time I'll bring two.

Those are my recent kitchen adventures.  What have you been cooking and/or baking lately?

Monday, August 26, 2019

Out and about on a Sunday afternoon

I've got a few outdoor photos to show you today -- sort of unrelated other than that they were all taken yesterday, a gorgeous day in these parts.  Saturday was very nice too.  Low humidity, sunshine, and temps in the 70s.  The forecast for most of this week is similar, and I do hope it holds true.

We'll start off with a few scary ones from our woods:
 Can you see what's hiding behind those large leaves of a striped maple?
 Yes, it's a very large bees' nest.  This nest was apparently built around a very slender branch of a striped maple tree.  The weight of the nest forced the branch to bend downward.

Below you get a much clearer view of the nest.  That hole down near the bottom of the nest is opening by which the bees go in and out.

Mr. T got stung by a bee on Saturday while stacking wood, but didn't think much of it.  Now he knows from whence it came, and he will be adjusting the placement of his woodpile accordingly.

On a happier and prettier note, here is a lovely coleus in the "Inferno" variety.

It was a Mother's Day gift from our friends Sam and Jennifer.  The photo doesn't do it justice.  It has tripled or quadrupled in size since we planted it.  It's a gorgeous red color, and the leaves have a chartreuse edging.  It almost looks like rickrack!

Then yesterday afternoon, Mr. T suggested a hike.   We hadn't been to this place in years, but it was just as we remembered.
An unusual stump along the trail
A quiet, peaceful walk through the woods -- there were rocks, roots and a few boardwalks which might earn it the designation of a hike -- led us to the shore of a tranquil lake.  A few boats and hikers came and went, but we definitely found the peace and beauty we were hoping to soak up here.

 Being out in God's beautiful Creation just does our souls so much good!
 See the sailboat in the distance?  So tranquil.

Hope these lovely lake photos have been a treat for you today as the lake was for us on Sunday afternoon!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Back to school sale at my Etsy shop!

Yes, classes start Monday for the high schoolers in our town!  My granddaughter's volleyball team has already been practicing.  The university students are back in town.  It seems like a very quick summer indeed. 

In honor of back to school, I'm having a little sale in my Etsy shop now through September 2: 20% off selected listings with a fall or back-to-school theme.  Most of the included listings will be sewing patterns -- sweet vintage school outfits like the one below.

There will be a few other items that fit the theme as well, so if you enjoy vintage things, head on over to A New Hampshire Attic and check out the sale.  It may bring back a sweet memory or two of your own school days!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Friday five ~ August 23

Another week has flown by, and here it is Friday again!  Time for this week's edition of Friday five ...

Here goes:

1.  A very nice time visiting with my nephew and his family at my daughter's home last Friday.  He and his family don't get up to our area too often, so it's a special blessing to get together when they do.   In the photo below, my nephew's little boy makes the acquaintance of some of the chickens.

2.  A slower-paced yet productive day last Saturday.  I had lots of household tasks to catch up on and it was so nice to be able to work at a slower, more thoughtful pace.  So thankful that my help comes from the Lord!
Delightful graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
3.  Our traditional corn roast at church last Sunday.  We had to tweak things a bit to make this activity (which we try to do as a send-off for our students each fall) work with our current schedule of services, but it did work out quite well.  My hubby and I husked dozens of ears of corn on Saturday so they could be soaked in salt water overnight in preparation.
Image by Couleur from Pixabay
4.  Our dear young friends Sam and Jennifer  and their boys were able to be with us for supper on Sunday evening.  My hubby made his famous waffles and everyone was happy.  I made fruit sauces to serve with the waffles as well as bacon and link sausages.  (This is much the same as what I wrote about in this post: Waffle Buffet, which includes recipes.) The fellowship was even better than the food!
Image by patikaipmuzika from Pixabay
 5.  Being able to get together for supper with my cousin at this family cottage on a remote pond, Tuesday evening.  It was a nice time!  My hubby and I loved watching dusk settle over the pond as we sat in rocking chairs on this porch.
 6.  And here is a bonus: Being able to get out and walk every day even though the weather has been hot and humid.  My friend and I have walked at 6 a.m. and it definitely helps to go that early.  Still, 94% humidity is 94% humidity, and it doesn't make for pleasant walking.  The humidity is going away this weekend, though, hopefully for good.

Well, there it is: this week's Friday five.  Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Recipe boxes

Quite a few years ago, my mother-in-law gave me two recipe boxes full of recipes that she had found at the local thrift store (or possibly the dump, I forget which).  I think they were from two different households.  One contained a good many handwritten old-world type recipes; if I remember right, they were German or Austrian.   At the time, I was appalled.  How could anyone throw away their family recipes?

Now, I find myself facing a very similar situation in my own life.  In clearing out my childhood home, I have found more recipe boxes than I would ever have thought one kitchen could hold.  That red recipe box in the photo, for example, is one that my mother put together for her high school home economics class!  My mom had actually given me that one some years ago.

I imagine you might like to see what sort of recipes are in that red box.  I, too, was interested in what a high school girl in the 1940s might choose for a home ec project.  Some, I think, were recipes that she and her family might have used, like this one:
I know that she often talked about making fudge and other candy with her sisters, just as a fun activity to do after supper sometimes.  I'm guessing they may have used this recipe:

So quite a few recipes in the box seem like they could have been used in the family kitchen or copied from relatives.  But for certain categories she resorted to this:
gluing a recipe cut from a magazine onto a card.  This tuna salad has grapes in it and sounds quite tasty, though I have trouble imagining how one can of tuna will feed six people.  I don't think my mother's family ate a lot of fresh salads (except with garden lettuce in the summer) at that point in time, so likely she went the clipped-recipe route for the salad category.  Many, many blank cards are also in that red file box!

But, as mentioned, there were other recipe boxes in my mom's kitchen as well.  I'm sure I've remarked before that it is not just my parents' stuff which I am clearing out.  There are items from both of my grandmothers, at least one great-aunt, my sister, and one of my brothers.  All of the ladies in this list had recipe boxes, and some of them had several.

The sugar cookie recipe below is from my aunt, but it's in my mom's printing.  My mother must have copied it out for my sister, who had one recipe box devoted just to Christmas recipes.  And she was pretty specific with the directions!  I guess she needed to be, as this would have been when my sister moved to her own apartment a couple of hours away.

 The recipe for pickles below is one that I copied from my grandmother's files as a young homemaker with a prolific garden.  It's perfect for those big yellow cucumbers that ripen before you find them.

 The Date Cake recipe below came from one of my mother's recipe files, but it was her grandmother's recipe, as you can see from the very old-fashioned handwriting and the skimpy directions.  This date cake was a Thanksgiving and Christmas tradition at my Grandmother's house.  It's baked in a loaf -- and my Gram always frosted it thickly with a white butter frosting and decorated the top with a row of walnut halves.

 Of  course any recipe box worth its salt also contains scraps of paper with recipes scrawled on them, and these boxes were no exception to that rule.  The Date & Nut Balls below were my Aunt Dot's specialty at Christmas and Thanksgiving, but the recipe is in my grandmother's incomparable handwriting.
 And then I've also showed this scrap of paper before.  It's my mother's famous Maple Fudge recipe, which I've posted about a number of times on my Christmas blog.  What a specialty it was!
 Most recipe boxes also contain recipes cut from food packaging.  The one below, from a Gold Medal flour bag, is a case in point.  Looks scrumptious!  (I've listed this clipping in my Etsy shop.)  It's fun to see what recipes people clipped.  This looks like a recipe I would like to try myself.
 Sometimes there were thin little recipe booklets like the ones below.  These were tucked in with recipes in a box from either my grandmother or great-aunt.

I even found a recipe holder that was not a box.  It was made from a dowel, a piece of wood, and a clothespin, then artfully painted a light green and a flower decal applied.  It still had recipes clipped to it! 

My grandmother was the queen of sprucing up jars and improvised pantry storage with decals and paint.  Every jar in her pantry had a green-painted lid and an ivy decal.  [In the kitchen at the family cottage, where much of the decor in the living and dining areas had a Pennsylvania Dutch look to it, she painted the jar lids (pretty sure those were green also) and put a colorful P. Dutch themed decal on every one.  Those jars were filled with boughten cookies before the first grandchildren visited for the summer.  Oreos, Cameos, maple leaf cookies, sugar wafers -- a different kind in every jar.   But I digress.]
My Gram in her kitchen in the 1950s
The recipes clipped to this dowel holder included quite a variety.  There were recipes cut from boxes or clipped from newspapers, recipes Gram had copied out or that other cooks had copied down for her.  Some were very old, others much newer.  I even found a recipe I had written out for her!  Below is a small sampling of what was clipped to this recipe holder.

Even today I find myself saving recipes, although I seldom use my recipe box anymore.  I have many copied into books or stored in photo albums, and those have been the ones I've used the most.  Recently I put my most-used recipes printed from the internet into a huge binder, pictured below, and I turn to that often.  I also have a recipe folder on my computer desktop.  Clearly, this recipe saving trait is hereditary -- and possibly incurable.

Wondering what became of those two recipe-filled boxes from the dump?  I must admit that I finally did come to the place of throwing them away.  They had become dust-covered and were just disgusting.  I knew that I would never use them, so I tossed them.  I still feel badly that someone's family recipes were thrown away, but they were not my problem.  My own family recipes are another story, and I'm still figuring out a happy ending to that one.