About The Country Wife Blog

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Great Family History Food News!

Today after washing yet another sink of dishes (I am so grateful to have a sink, running hot and cold water, and dishes to dirty with plenty of good nourishing food) I started thinking again about what I was going to make for treats for the young people's meeting that will take place here tomorrow night. 

First I thought I would make Ooey Gooey Chewy Cookie bars and Apple Streusel Bars which I made as a template for the family dinner yesterday.  They were okay but not stunning by any means.  I base that assessment on the fact that there are still quite a few cookies in the clear treat container...

My next thought was to make some pumpkin cheesecake bars but thought people might have had enough pumpkin pies on Thanksgiving.

The next idea was to make four toll house pies, but I did not have enough shortening for the crusts and I did not want to use up all the butter in the house on pie crust, so...

Finally I decided to make brownies and chocolate chip bars. Easy and tasty and usually very popular with kids.  Of course, I just purchased orange soda and cranberry juice for punch, which will have to do as I did not get enough milk for 30 plus or minus people.

ANYWAY,  when I went to my recipe box, I found a treasured recipe from my mother, in her own handwriting.  It is for Peanut Butter Cookies.  I am almost certain this is the same recipe my grandmother (Mary Marjorie Read McIntosh) made for us called CrissCross cookies.  I will be making it soon and posting the recipe to Grammie's Kitchen and Goodnight Stories.  I am so excited to have found the recipe again!

When I have more time I will reference all the recipes mentioned in this post as online storage is a great thing!  Readily available any time and any place...as long as internet is available.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Morning!

So...last night was a good thing, and now this morning is even better!

The stuffed turkey, which I put in the oven around 2 AM at 300 degrees instead of the 325 degrees called for, finished cooking at 10:30...at least the pop-up thermometer indicated it was cooked, so I pulled our instant-read thermometer probe from the pantry and checked--just under 180 degrees.  Since the package said to roast until 165 degrees, I shut off the oven, then, after putting hot pads down, moved the roaster pan to the marble slab.  Looks good enough to eat.

A few minutes later I checked the stuffing (that I had been worried about last night) and found that it tastes really quite yummy...though the texture might be a little slimy for some palates.  I have not compunction about eating some things that are a tad slimy, though I cannot think of any others at this moment...!  I think people who like stuffing will be able to stomach it.

As far as the other stuff, now at 10:47:  the smoked roasted sweet potatoes have been brought up to temperature so they were able to be whipped with butter, cream and freshly-ground black pepper and put in an oven-safe bowl for final heating at mealtime; the regular green bean casserole has been put in its casserole and is ready for its 30 minutes at 350 degrees; the from-scratch green bean casserole is in the refrigerator waiting for its 20 minutes in the oven;  the holiday scalloped potatoes are in the heavy red-enameled Dutch oven ready for their last 20 minutes on top of the stove to bring up to temperature (note to self:must be VERY WATCHFUL about that heat-up project!); the red potatoes have been washed, chopped, and put in the Dutch oven for cooking when the people arrive; ALL the dishes in the house are clean, though many of them are on the counter waiting to be dried and put away; and the table has been emptied (mostly) and dear one has washed the glass so it is shining and the house smells like turkey and clean.

Things that have not been done:  there is a smallish pile of my stuff at the end of the shiny clean table to be relocated and there is a good-sized pile of books and other important stuff on the swamp oak hope chest which sits behind the green couch in the runway between dining room and living room. I do need to take care of them, as well as the two loads of clean clothes that have just finished cycling through the machines.

Happy note!  Dear one told me our Mr. Cardinal is back in town!  He was on the ground eating sunflower seeds dropped by the chickadees, nuthatches, and a lovely gray crested bird whose name I must find in our bird book.  He is so beautiful.  Wait!  Mr. Cardinal is back!  This time he is on the feed on the porch! YAY!  I have such warm feelings for those cardinals.  Well, the chickadees, too, the phoebes, well...I love them all, though I am a bit less enamored of the loud scary bluejays, and further down the scale of bird love comes the red squirrels who rob the feeders and scare away the other birds...but as A says,  squirrels need to eat, too, so we have a truce.  Most of the time!

Have a happy day with family and friends.  We surely shall.

The Turkey is In....

the oven, that is!  When I went to bed last night I set the alarm clock on dear one's TracFone to ring at 3:30 AM but since I awoke at 12:44 AM I arose, made the stuffing (i.e. sauteed the onions and celery, produced some chicken broth, melted the butter, etc), stuffed the bird (quite large this year--27 pounds), and finally just now have placed the whole caboodle into the oven at 300 degrees.  We will see it that turns out to have been a good idea.

Things that went wrong:  1. the heavy foil pan for the bird that I bought at the Dollar Store was just slightly too big to set perfectly into the roaster pan (I had thought putting that inside the roaster pan would make it easier to take the bird OUT of the roaster pan when cooked...) and one side went down first; 2. the chicken broth I reconstituted from water and chicken base was a cup or two over the amount actually needed for the amount of dried bread I had made for the stuffing so the stuffing was quite sloppy; 3.  there were about two cups or a little more stuffing for the bird's cavities which may have unpleasant repercussions smoke alarm-wise...it would be rather unpleasant to be finally sleeping soundly again and to have the alarm scream us awake; 4.  after putting the too-much, too-sloppy stuffing into the bird I discovered the melted butter still in the skillet, so I poured it over the top of the turkey and smeared it all over the outside; and 5. as I am sitting here typing I remembered that I had not put the foil tent over the turkey to keep it from turning 'chocolate-y' before it cooks.  I had better remedy that while I am thinking of it.

Okay!  That is fixed...now we will see (around 11 AM if our oven timing works) if that did the job.  I have to remember to take the foil OFF around 10:00 or 10:30.

Things left to do...make mashed and scalloped potatoes, cut the celery sticks for dipping into French onion dip (1 packet dried Lipton's onion soup mixed into 2 cups sour cream and left overnight, or at least two hours, in the refrigerator), heating the smoked (by J in his wonderful homemade smoker) roasted sweet potatoes then mashing with butter and cream and put into casserole to pop into the oven so they will be served hot, potentially make some creamed onions (which I am the only one who loves them, but don't need them so...), make up the green bean casserole ( and try out a homemade-with-real-onions-and-sauteed-mushrooms green bean casserole), finely dice half a green bell pepper to mix with the frozen sweet corn to perk it up just a bit and add some color, and then the last of the kitchen wash-up.

Oh, and set the table and rinse out the punch bowl for the orange/cranberry punch ( one 2- or 3-liter bottle orange soda pop mixed with 1 64-ounce bottle of 100% juice cranberry juice poured over an orange juice ice ring into the punchbowl.  Always VERY well received, and so easy as to be laughable.  A is bringing the juice since I failed to purchase it.

Now I can go back to bed and sleep unconcerned about the day and meal ahead because it is very do-able during the morning since guests will not be arriving until after the baby's morning nap...and I have totally decided not to stress about the condition of the house.  It looks better than it does sometimes, and no worse than can be expected when the homemaker is often out and about instead of home with nose to grindstone where nose should be.

So many things for which to be grateful, most notably: family and friends and understanding of my place in the eternal scheme of things.  I thank our dear Father for them all and acknowledge His blessing hand in our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving to all who may read this post, whenever that may be.  Gratitude feels so good that I hope you will choose to have that goodness in your own life.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Grandchildren are the BEST!

Yesterday I was scheduled to take care of two of our grandchildren while their mom had an appointment.  Because they were going from one appointment to another, I met them at the second appointment.  The baby had fallen asleep so I stayed in the car with the kids.  L had a LOT on her mind and jabbered in great shape the entire time.

We had a great time.  L told me it was ok for me to talk in a loud voice because baby brother would stay asleep even if I did not whisper.  Well, he did for ten or fifteen minutes then woke up with a start and a smile.

L requested that I read a few of her books, which I did, then asked me to read some of the baby's books.  At that point she must have felt some rumblings in her belly because she asked for her Cheezits.  We looked in her backpack and I pulled out a bag of Wheat Thins.  No way!  She wanted her Cheezits and those were not Cheezits...so, being the nice grammie that I try to be, I started searching on the floor, under the seats, etc, then went around to the other side of the car and opened both doors to look there.  Finally I picked up their mom's gray Time-Out-For-Women bag and there were the Cheezits safely in the bag. L was VERY happy and thought I was a wonderful grammie.

As we were talking, I was knitting on a two-color hat for G.  L knew I was knitting and told me she wanted a hat with pink hearts on it, and could I make one, please?  THEN she said baby brother had a nice warm jacket but he needed a hat and mittens, too, and could I make them for him.  He wanted a green and black and orange hat.  Well, maybe not black, but green and orange would be great, and maybe purple...!  Well, we shall see.  I am pretty sure I have a ball of Paton's Classic Wool in a variegated scheme that has green and purple and orange so...

A Less-than-Agreeable Start

Today was another day...beautiful sunshine, quite cold out, but glorious.  Usually I ease into the day but today I popped out of bed, threw on a house-dress and went out to start the day (mainly because I had left so many kitchen things undone last night.  Dear one mentioned that our birds were disappointed. Blamm!  I had totally forgotten I was going to re-fill the feeder before bed since they are hungry as soon as dawn breaks...so I quickly filled the feeder, spilling only a few dozen seeds in the closet at the same time...and as soon as I replaced the feeder on its bracket along came some chickadees and a bluejay.  So nice to see them back.  I would be so sad if they gave up on my inconsistently filling their feeder and moved off to the neighbors.

This week so far I was out six hours both Monday and Tuesday and today I am so glad to be home, didn't get out of bed until 7:30 (up for quite a while at 2 AM, though) and went right to work instead of earlier mentioned easing into the day.  Have now filled the dishwasher after breakfast, sliced bread that I made on Monday so you know it could be better than it is, but put it into the freezer...will make great toast, then emptied all the compost from the refrigerator. I am sure you never have  furry friends in the refrigerator, but unfortunately I do.

It always makes me crabby to waste that food, which then makes me crabby that my clientele would not eat up the food when it was fresh, which THEN makes me crabbier still that I made more food than we would eat in one meal.  Vicious circle...just because I wanted to clean the kitchen totally today...!  R-r-r-r-r!  So I am sitting at the computer trying to calm down, which is why there have been several posts in a row today!

While getting ready to go to the upper regions (where the computer is, as well as my workroom) I remembered I had purchased some upholstery tacks yesterday so I could try using tacks and my tack hammer to complete the re-upholstery of the chair I started in June.  I had tried using the electric stapler to put on the welting and the cardboard strip to make it firm.  COULD NOT DO IT!!  The staples would only go partway in. I tried laying the chair on its side and really leaning into the stapler when ejecting the staple but that did not work either.  I sent out an email to see if anyone had a pneumatic staple gun with a narrow nose (there are some on Amazon for about $100, though the one I would really like is $250) that could be used.  Mike Amsden in West Rutland posted some wonderful YouTube videos on re-upholstering a wing back chair, which is what I have -three of them, in fact--to re-do)  but no one had one available, SO I thought I would go back to the tacks and hammer.  Well, I have the tacks, but the hammer seems to have disappeared.

On my trip to the cellar to try to find the tack hammer my eyes glanced out at the wall unit and I saw glass pie plates I thought I had given away.  YAY!  I need those. I want to make some quiche for lunch with some nearly-compost spinach.  Maybe I should close up shop on this complaining post and get to work on lunch.  I DO like quiche so lunch will be better than breakfast, for sure!

Lesson Learned From Yesterday

So, still on the healthy-eating kick today even after yesterday's disaster, I decided to try again with the apple/oatmeal.  This time I put the water into the pan along with the two chopped apples and let the water come to a boil.  When boiling I put the cover on and set the timer for 3 minutes.  At 3 minutes I stirred in the pinch of coarse sea salt and one cup of old fashioned oatmeal and stirred it well.  I did NOT put the cover back on but set the timer for 3 minutes and stood there stirring with a wooden spoon until the timer went off, then spooned into our bowls, after topping with a tablespoon of chopped walnuts in each bowl, and put them on the table.  Unfortunately, I was the only one ready for breakfast at that time.  Forty-five minutes later we sat down to eat.  Ick-er-ino!!

So...the lesson is, while a watched pot never seems to boil, it also won't burn, so STAY IN THE KITCHEN WHILE COOKING ANYTHING YOU REALLY WANT TO EAT!  Though I am really not at all fond of cooked oatmeal.  I remember the days of my youth when my mother made us sit at the table until we finished our breakfasts...even my sister who used to bark up something in the hopes that she could be excused...

Scorched, again!

Do you ever wake up in the morning and almost immediately know it is going to be a bad day?  Well, I did yesterday, and it has spilled over into today.

On Monday night I had decided to try going the healthier-eating-route....yet again, so when I got ready to make breakfast yesterday I made apples and oatmeal cereal.  Now you would probably think this was not a problem, but for me it was.  I put 2 cups of water in the saucepan along with two cored and finely chopped skin-on apples (Honey Crisps this time) and put the cover on to let them come to a boil.  When they were boiling I put in a small pinch of coarse sea salt, an eighth teaspoon of apple pie spice (which I had made from a recipe on the internet last week), and one cup of old fashioned oatmeal.  I gave it a stir and put the cover on for it to come back to a simmer.

The phone rang and I ran to answer it.  It was someone who needed something from my computer so I went upstairs to get the file and emailed to her.  While there I noticed a few messages I really needed to address, so I did.

All of a sudden I remembered our breakfast and raced down the stairs (picture that one!) to pull the pot off the stove.  The top three-quarters of the cereal looked fine so I served the very top 'layer' to dear one and took the next bit for myself.  Served with chopped walnuts, brown sugar, and milk, it was not bad, but dear one mentioned the scorched taste.  Now I really object to that!!  How can he possibly know it was scorched because there was not a bit of off-colored bits in his bowl, PLUS he cannot smell worth a fig, AND he was not in the kitchen when this was taking place...

So the pan had to go into the sink for a good soak before scraping it out and washing it with a stainless steel scratcher.

The day did not improve.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Colorful Baby Surprise Jacket done!

Just a quick note today to show the resulting Baby Surprise Jacket which I started years ago using Lion Brand Microspun yarn.  I had nothing but trouble with the yarn splitting and other things so I put pattern, yarn, needles, and started project away in my "knitting trunk".

A month or so ago I pulled said project out in preparation for taking a class at Country Woolens in Lebanon, NH on the Adult Surprise Jacket. I thought making a little one first might make the gigantic one easier.  We shall see. I have now knit two Baby Surprise Jackets:  one in the microspun yarn with size 5 needles which makes a sweater for an actual baby, and a second one using Bartlettyarn from Hilda Yates' farm sheep using size 8 needles with a gauge of about 3.5 stitches per inch and 3 (or maybe 4, I don't have the sweater and my tape measure nearby...) ridges per inch.

Here is the first, what I call colorful, Baby Surprise Jacket finished and ready to put in the mail.  It was originally started for one baby, who now has had a second sibling born for a family of three children.  I am thinking that if the newest baby has already outgrown the sweater that perhaps the big sister can use if for a large doll that she might have.

Colorful Baby Surprise Jacket finished October 2012
If you like this sweater, which is knit all in one piece in garter stitch and has two seams, you can find it at Schoolhouse Press, where they have a pattern for baby to child to adult sizes.  If you choose to purchase and knit this pattern, you will have fun.  It knits up pretty fast, too.  For me, it took several evenings to complete the knitting.