About The Country Wife Blog

Friday, December 9, 2016

Food Friday: Pitiful (Nevertheless Cute) Reindeer Cookies

Somewhere online I saw some adorable reindeer cookies.  I decided to try them for early morning food.  This is how I proceeded:

Measured 2 cups chocolate chips and 1 Tablespoon coconut oil into a glass measuring cup.  Microwaved for 30 seconds, removed from microwave to stir, returned for 30 more seconds, stirred again.  They were nicely melted.  Your microwave might take longer.  Check EVERY 30 seconds or you will burn the chocolate.

Opened a package of sandwich cookies that I had found at the Dollar Tree. Dropped the cookies one at a time into the melted chocolate then turned over and lifted out with salad tonge and laid on a parchment-paper-lined pan.  After getting a dozen or so of them coated with chocolate I laid two small pretzel knots on top of the individual cookies, covered with a piece of parchment paper and a large storage container to weight down the paper.  It was my view that doing this would keep the "horns" happily in place on the cookies while the chocolate cooled.

Because it was below freezing outside, I put the pan on a table on the front porch for a few minutes. In the meantime I went through a container of M and M's, both plain and peanut, to find whites for the eyes and reds for the Rudolph noses.

By that time the cookies on the porch were solid!  Bringing them inside, I flipped them over so the "horns" were on the bottom.  I poured more melted chocolate on top of the top/face of the cookies then placed the eyes and nose.  It would have been good to use some sort of grabber or tongs for this job.  OH!  As I am thinking of this now, I should have found the sugar tongs my brother brought home from France where he served as a missionary decades ago.  They would have been perfect for this job.

Well, as you can see, precision is NOT my middle name.  However, I do think they look rather cute.  If you make them, they will be wonderful.

Even with the pitiful appearance, they are edible.  In fact, so edible that I removed leftovers to drop off with the local grandchildren so I would not inadvertently eat one.  Or two.  Or more.  (Have you ever noticed that if you have a treat in your house that is highly visible it is almost impossible to walk by without reaching out to it?  It is better to have a bowl of lovely kale salad sitting on the counter with a clear top on it.)

Perhaps the next reindeer food item will be more attractive.  There IS another one in the wings....

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Knitting: Socks Pink, Socks Purple

Often when I have knitted socks in the past I have made two socks at once.  I used to do it with the Magic Loop method but more recently I have used "Two Socks on Two Circs"...sock knitting introduced to me by Cat Bordhi  knitting one sock on two circular needles which I found you can actually do two at once.

With my desire to finish up all in-progress projects this year, I picked up this "pair" of socks and finished them recently.  I had cast on at the toe and then worked increases until I had 64 stitches on the needles.  There was an actual pattern that I started to knit but found it too time-consuming to carry on with it and also thought that it was going to make socks that were too loose for me feet so I changed to Knit 2 Purl 2 ribbing for the instep and leg.  That worked fine and the funky start to the socks is hidden by my shoes.

Another thing I did as I picked up the socks again recently was to try a new-to-me method for the heel...a toe-up Dutch heel sort of.  I don't have the data with me at the moment but will share it more fully in a potential future post when I finish the second socks.  I will say that I thought I knew what I was doing and knitted merrily away until the heel flap was almost done when I realize I was wrong.  Ripping out all those stitches was a little annoying.  In order to stop without going to far, I inserted a size 1(US) circular needle across both socks then with I arrived there having ripped back, I just started re-knitting the correct way with the "other" circular needle.

These socks have not yet been blocked but they blocked up really well.  I wore this pair of socks to Church this week.  Think of all the nice people who either:  1.  did not notice the socks, or 2.  were so nice they did not mention to me that I was wearing two totally disparate socks...probably thinking/knowing for sure that I have gone over the edge mentally...!

Well, I don't mind wearing different socks.  They are kind of cool.  The great thing is they did not match ANYTHING ELSE I was wearing.  I am trying to decide if that means: 1.  I have total self-confidence, or 2. I am totally unaware of what I am doing....

Oh, one last thing on this pair of socks...I decided to stop at short socks.  They were perfect!

Winter Garden December 2016

When I went to Stern's Produce Market one time this summer, the nice young man taking my money observed that I had three bunches of green onions/scallions.  He said, "You know, you can grow your own green onions from these plants after you use up the greens, don't you?"

No, I did not know that.  When I get home from Stern's I always put the green onions in a glass of water to keep them happy until I am ready to use them.  I have sometimes cut off a few of the greens and left the rest in the water.  Amazingly, more greens begin to grow, so that one purchase of scallions gives a lot of nice "greens".

Well...after talking with the nice boy at Stern's, I used all the greens on my scallions then took the cut-off white bottoms with the roots on them upstairs to where we have a nice big planter in a south window.  I planted them in the dirt and, in no time at all, lots of green came rushing up to the sky.  I have cut them numerous times.

Sadly,  in the last month-plus, I have not spent much time upstairs so the poor little creatures have not had any drinking water.  I took this picture to guilt myself into taking better care of the scallions.  I gave them a GREAT BIG drink and don't they look happy now!

This picture was taken after the watering.They are reaching for the sky again.
You will notice all the dried bits.  Bad me for not taking care of them and using the greens.  I think from now I will stop being lazy and just go up and harvest at least once a week.  Scallions are good in just about everything.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Munchie Monday: Cinnamon Toast Roll-ups

Today is a snowy day in central Vermont.  It has been snowing for about five hours.  Snow is mounting up, to some extent.  It is a day when you want to do something productive but not necessarily outdoors.  What I decided to do was experiment with food!  Sometimes we get a winner, though more often, not!

Today I decided to make cinnamon toast roll-ups as a possible early morning food offering.
Cinnamon Toast Roll-ups--some with crusts on, some with no crusts.

This is the process:

Collect ingredients and tools.
--store bought "Wonder"-type bread, it can be on the stale side--though if it is colorful (i.e. moldy), probably set that slice aside to innoculate the birds from pneumonia...
--very soft butter
--shaker bottle of cinnamon and sugar (to make your own: mix 1/4 cup sugar with 1 Tablespoon cinnamon and shake well.  You can vary the proportion of sugar to cinnamon to suit your taste.)
--rolling pin
--cookie sheet
--parchment paper, if you like
--knife, or other "spreader" for the butter

Start to pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.

On a clean counter top, use the rolling pin to roll out one slice of bread to flatten it. Leave the crust on, or take it off if you want.  With the knife,  spread the soft butter to the edges of the mashed slice of bread.  Sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar then roll up gently into a tight-ish roll.  Place "seam side" down on the parchment-paper-covered cookie sheet.  Spread more butter on the top of the roll-up.

Continue to do this until you have made all the roll-ups you want.

Bake in the preheated 350 degree F. oven for 10 minutes, but check after 5 minutes and 8 minutes to make sure they are not too brown.  The pictured roll-ups could have used more time in the oven, at least they were not as brown as I wanted them to be but I was too gutless to leave them in longer.  Experiments are fun but I am rather averse to food disasters...which can happen when food is in the oven even a little bit too long.  I prefer a little under-cooked to burned to a crisp.  These had a nice little brown seam side though.


One thing to remember:  these things go down really quickly.  Just remember that you are eating a whole slice of bread, maybe very fast....

I cannot give you a report on Dear One's opinion.  I can only say that I just checked the bowl (he has gone out for a walk in the snow) and found:  empty!  I do not think he realized that each roll was one slice of bread.  Note the previous paragraph about fast consumption.

Handwork: Thrift Store Bonus!

Some time ago I was at a thrift store.  Not at all an unusual occurrence. It is not possible to drive by a thrift store, unless I am not alone in the car.  SOME PEOPLE are not as fond of thrift stores/charity shops as I am BUT that same SOME PEOPLE usually goes in, and often finds something not to be passed up, also!  Enough said.

Anyway, on this particular visit I did my usual checking:  books, kitchen equipment, yarn and craft goods.  There was a small bag with a good-sized skein of yarn in it and a strange looking hard plastic gadget with a point-y spindle on it.  I was not sure about it but it was $2.00.  I almost walked by but then, on closer inspection, I saw there was a cable which I knew meant a circular knitting needle.  I looked one more time and realized it was a RED cable!  Red!  That meant it was a ChiaoGoo Red Lace circular needle!  Well!  I snatched up that bag so fast the wind almost knocked the person at the check-out station off his feet! 

You see, I had just previously purchased a US size 7 16-inch circular needle from these people/this brand to spend a morning knitting with a friend at the White River Yarn shop (which, sadly, had to close due to family concerns) and had LOVED the needles and decided to purchase more as need and finances  allowed.

This $2.00 purchase included:  nearly a full skein of nice-enough yarn, the ChiaoGoo 24" circular lace needle (onto which had been cast on about 72 stitches but no actual knitting done), as well as the Yarn Valet, which it what the funky spindle device turned out to be.

The needles I put into use immediately.  Yay for good knitting needles!  I have a lot of knitting needles.  These are now my favorites.

Yarn Valet with the price tag still on it.  I hate the sticky spots after removing tags so...it is not hurting anything, just aesthetics.
The Yarn Valet just sat on the little table by my rocking chair for ages.  Last week I was knitting a washcloth using a ball of yarn (Peaches and Creme) that had had the end of yarn wrapped around the ball. I usually knit from a center-pull ball, and imagined this is what I was doing.  Wrong.  When I had used the yarn up back to where it came off the ball, it was the outside pull not the center pull.  When I looked up from knitting, my eyes landed on the Yarn Valet.  I gave it a try. It works marvelously!  Just drop the yarn onto the spindle and start knitting!

Now I think I will just knit from the outside of balls or cakes of yarn.  No more digging into the center to try to find the beginning of the yarn.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Food Friday: Kale Chips for Thanksgiving

Our local son and daughter-in-law invited us to eat  Thanksgiving dinner with them and their family.  They were going to prepare everything.  Did not need us to bring anything, so....my thought was, if we brought something, it would be a bonus.  We brought the leftover raw onion and flax crackers and some freshly "chipped" kale from our garden.  (We have three more plants that I am hoarding, but will have to use them up soon, I am afraid.  Next year I will plant a LOT more.)

To harvest the kale at this end of season, I actually pulled up the three smallest-producing plants, pulled off the leaves and buried the roots and stems in the garden's hay covering, hoping they would begin their composting over the winter.

Next I washed each leaf individually, and VERY well, picking off the pine needles that the recent high winds had blown onto these valiant soldiers in the garden.

After the leaves were clean, I tore the kale off the ribs, making them more or less chip-sized and put them in a large clean stainless steel bowl.

Over the pieces of kale I poured 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil then with my very clean hands I gently massaged the oil and kale together.  When each leaf-let had a sheen of oil on it I put on coarse kosher salt (about 1 teaspoon) and freshly ground black pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon), tossed lightly, then put on a pan.

Previously I had set the oven to 225 degrees F to preheat.  Yes, 225.

The pan went into the oven for 20 minutes, after which time I checked on the chips. They were still a glorious green and much of the chips were ready to eat.  Since the rest were not, I put the pan back into the oven for 10 more minutes.  That was actually too long, if green kale chips was our goal.  They were all crispy then, not at all burned, just not as pretty green anymore.

After eating a few slightly not-crispy leaves, I let the rest cool then put them in a container to take to share with our Thanksgiving dinner.   Several of us really liked them.

When traveling with kale chips, you really do need to have a sturdy covered container, and a gentle hand.  It is very possible to "break" the chips.  If they are slightly less cooked, they hold up better.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Another Yummy Smoothie Drink: Chocolate Banana!

The second recipe try in a row was a winner!  At least I loved it.  Dear One gave me the wavy fingers, but he drank it all and made no negative comments. I consider that a success.  Not a BIG success but still, successful.

This is what I did:

Using our blender, I put in--

1 cup unsweetened Almond Breeze almond milk
1 frozen banana chopped into about 1-inch chunks (I chopped the chunks before freezing, placed them on a tray in freezer.  When frozen, I put them into a plastic bag.)
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon ground flax seeds (flax seed meal)

Let the blender roar until the smoothie is, well, smooth.  Probably about a minute in our blender jar.

Pour into a tall glass and enjoy.

You will need a spoon because it is nice and thick and frozen.  Just what I like in a smoothie.  You may, too.