About The Country Wife Blog

Monday, October 31, 2016

Munchie Monday: 5 Bean Chili, Quickly!

We had a Church fall festival where the potluck food theme was chili.  For the first time ever I just took cans and seasonings from the pantry.  It turned out great. Well, at least I liked it, and the pot came home emptier than it was!

Vegetarian Chili
1 tablespoon beef broth powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon mixed onion and garlic granules (50/50 mix)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 cans tomato sauce, 14-15 ounce size
2 cans kidney beans, 14-15 ounce size
1 can black eyed peas, 14-15 ounce size
1 can white beans, 14-15 ounce size
1 can chickpeas, 14-15 ounce size
1 can cannellini beans, 14-15 ounce size
1 large chopped white onion
1 large chopped red bell pepper
3 cloves chopped garlic

Sauté the onion, bell pepper and garlic in Instant Pot until the onions are translucent and the bell peppers are softened.  Don't put the garlic in until the onions are nearly done. VERY IMPORTANT:  when using the sauté feature on the Instant Pot, you need to stand over the pot, stirring the vegetables with a long handled wooden spoon constantly, or just about, because they can easily get away from you and burn.  Ask how I know...

Add seasonings to the cooked vegetables  to bloom for a few moments.  Add tomato sauce then beans without draining.  Stir well.  Heat to boiling then let simmer on Slow Cook.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Food Friday: Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie with Soy Curls

Shepherd's Pie

Mix together 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon beef broth powder and 2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce in a medium size bowl.  If you do not have these flavorings, just use water.

In the bowl add 2 cups of Soy Curls.

Let sit 10 minutes to re-hydrate.

Finely chop one-half yellow onion and begin sautéing on medium low heat until translucent.  Add 3 finely chopped cloves garlic and continue sautéing for another 2-3 minutes.

Drain the liquid from the soy curls.  If you used flavoring in the soaking water, save for soup stock.  Put the re-hydrated soy curls into a blender jar and pulse until the curls are rather finely chopped.

Soy Curls/Onion/Garlic/Corn mixture in bottom of casserole dish.

Add the chopped soy curls to the pan of onions and garlic then add 1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet Browning and Seasoning sauce and 1 teaspoon soy sauce.  I used La Choy this time.

Stir the mixture well together.  If it is a little dry add some of the soaking broth a tablespoon at a time until you like the “meat” consistency.  Add one can drained whole kernel corn and heat through.
Mashed Red Potatoes with Skins

In the meantime,  scrub, rinse and cook 6 medium red potatoes and cup into quarters and steam until soft.  Pour into large bowl and mash with a potato masher or ricer.  Add 2 tablespoon butter and mix well.

Also, in the meantime, turn the oven on to 350 degrees F.

Pour the vegetable/soy curls mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish.  Cover with the mashed potatoes and place in the oven until everything is uniformly hot.  Since you have just been working with them, they are probably able to be eaten immediately but it is nice to put them in the oven for 15-20 while you set the table and clean up some of the kitchen mess.
One Serving of Shepherd's Pie

Serve with a nice tossed green salad.  If you also just made some nice whole wheat bread, add that to the meal.  Or any recently homemade bread.  It will taste good and you will feel virtuous.  And perhaps your Dear One will also serve himself seconds….

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Garden Harvest: Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

We had about a quart of cherry tomatoes that I did not want to eat in salads or just plain.  What to do?  What to do?  Why not try roasting them?  Lots of vegetables taste wonderful roasted, even if they are not so hot raw or cooked other ways.  I repeat:  why not try roasting them?

This is what I did:

Washed the cherry tomatoes after removing a few stems.

Cut the tomatoes in half an put in a large bowl.

Poured a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over them and swished the bowl around to connect the tomatoes to the oil.

Sprinkled on 1 teaspoon granulated onions and garlic (50/50 mixture I had made to take on vacation and which needed to be used up), 1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning--oregano, basil, etc.  (NOT Italian salad dressing mix), and 1/2 teaspoon of coarse Kosher salt.  Mixed well by sloshing the bowl around a bit to get the seasonings on all the tomato parts.

Roasted Tomatoes showing the caramelizing.

Put tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet that has been covered by parchment paper.  There will probably be a little some delicious "juice" in the bowl.  That can be used to flavor some other vegetable dish.

Place the pan in a preheated 350 degree F. oven for 45 minutes or so.

They will be nicely caramelized and taste really delicious.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Handwork: Charity Knitting Project with Recycling Overtones

A couple of years ago I went to area thrift stores to find 100% wool sweaters that I could take apart for various projects.  At that time I wanted to make dryer balls instead of spending a lot of money for them.  I found a beautiful Ralph Lauren Polo Country pullover.    Eventually I pulled out the stitching at the shoulders with plans to use the sleeves for dryer balls.

Like so many of the "great ideas" that I have, this one turned out to be another failure.  The dryer balls from this sweater did not stay as balls.  When I was felting them they had dog ears and tails hanging off.  And that was just the problem with the balls themselves.  The main problem was that the dryer balls annoyed the other people drying clothes in our dryer.  Oh well.  Chalk it up to another idea which does not go over well with the rest of the family.

With no sleeves but a beautiful sweater body, I thought I could turn it into a vest with a little ribbing on the armholes.

The armhole with no ribbing in place

It was pretty easy to do.  The worst part was trying to find yarn to match the navy in the sweater. I had some Plymouth yarn that was pretty close and even had some wool in it. 

This is what I did:

Starting at the armpit, I picked up (with a crochet hook) 84 stitches more or less evenly spaced around the armhole. After putting on a marker to show where the beginning of the round started I did a K2, P2 ribbing for 5 rounds.  To bind off I used Jenny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off(found at Knitty and also on YouTube if you prefer video tutorials) which I have discovered works very well.

Ribbing in place on first armhole 

When I first decided to do this recycling project I intended to use this "new" vest myself.  I love the pattern and colors.  Well, how can you go wrong with navy and natural cream colors?  However,  the other night I was at a meeting of the women in our Church where the leaders made a call for winter clothing for some refugees in the area.  I am more than happy to give up this vest.  I can only wear one thing and a time and I already have a sweater for winter.  I am hoping to go through our house in the next two weeks and pull out all the winter clothes that can be cleaned and mended, if need be, to give away.  The refugees will be warm and, BIG BONUS: we will have an emptier house!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Papercrafting: Cute Tiny Boxes

For several years I have had the fun of making boxes for the Mother's Day treats the ladies at Church receive.  Because there are quite a few to make, I start pretty early in the year.

This year I have been looking for some double-sided heavy card stock to make the pictured boxes. I had hoped for some 6" by 6" pads of paper but did not find any. I did find a 12" by 12" pad at Michael's in Mays Landing, New Jersey and grabbed it fast (since my math skills allow me to turn one 12 by 12 sheet into four 6 by 6 sheets...)!

Cute Boxes/Totes--two ways

These are the boxes I have made so far.  For the first video I watched on how to make this box/tiny tote, click here.  (I received an email from Split Coast Stampers which had the tutorial. I love those people.  They have so many great tutorials on paper crafting topics. ) For another of the videos I saw, click here.

What you need to make these cute boxes are an envelope punch board, (I have a "We R Memory Keepers" envelope punch board--find them at Michaels, A.C. Moore, Hobby Lobby and use a coupon.  By the way, WeRMemoryKeepers have many different punch boards. I am tempted....) double-sided card stock cut 6 by 6, a small circle (or other shape) punch, embellishments if you want them, ribbon or twine for a closure, and glue.

You can fit three Lindt Chocolate truffles inside! Just in case you were wondering what you could put in these little guys....

Monday, October 24, 2016

Munchie Monday: Popcorn Treats!

Is there anyone who does not enjoy a rice krispie treat every once in a while?  I think not.  Especially when there are so many variations on the basic Rice Krispie Treat.  Well, I wanted to make some for our early morning crew but I did not have any Rice Krispies so I thought I would try them with popped corn.

This is what I did:

Popped corn to make 8 cups of fluffy popcorn.

Melted 4 Tablespoons of butter (Not margarine.  Go for the real thing.) in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-low heat.

Added 10 ounces marshmallows and stirred CONSTANTLY with a long-handled wooden spoon until the marshmallows were completely melted and smoothly incorporated into the melted butter.

Poured the hot syrup over the popped corn and stirred until all the kernels were covered in the sweet syrup.

Previously I had lined a 9 by 13 pan with parchment paper which I sprayed with a little non-stick spray.  When the popcorn was well mixed I pressed it into the pan and let it cool.

When completely cooled, I cut it into rectangles and put them on a plate for the early morning crowd, and went to bed.
Popcorn Treats ready to serve.

It turns out either 1.  there was no early morning crowd today, or 2.  they did not think they would be any good.  The plate appeared untouched.  So....since I did not dare have them in the house as I liked them just fine, I put them all in a package and delivered them to the grandchildren who, I feel certain, will like them very much.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Vacation Applesauce

Another thing you can make on vacation in a well-appointed kitchen:  applesauce.

This is what I did:

Washed and cored the apples we had brought from Vermont to Virginia to eat up before they softened.  Well, some of them HAD softened so to save their lives I made them into applesauce.

Put the cored and quartered apples into a saucepan with a little water...maybe a cup of water, just enough to cover the bottom and get steam going.  Put the cover on and started heating the pan.  In about 10 minutes I looked at the apples and stirred them around.  They had started cooking.  After another 5-6 minutes I checked again, and stirred them thoroughly again.  They were mostly cooked, so I put the cover back on and turned off the heat.  Since this was an electric cook top they could continue to enjoy heat for a little longer.

We left the hot applesauce to cool.  When we returned the apples were cool enough to blend up in the blender.  (Always check to see if you have a blender before starting a project like this...)  All the cooked apples in their skins fit into the blender. I added one-quarter cup sugar and blended these guys to pieces.  This turned out to be baby food applesauce, but it did taste good.  And the apples did not rot.  Well, one got away from us in the car and turned out to be what we were smelling when we got into the car the next day...
Applesauce made while on vacation away from home

Side story:
We went out for a couple of hours to look for a flash drive that the family history conference director told us we needed to have to download our presentations to so we could use them with the projectors.  We found a thumb drive at Best Buy in Mays Landing, New Jersey.  They did not have lanyards but said Staples did so we walked over to Staples.  They DID have lanyards but they were 1.  not attractive, and 2.  the same cost as the thumb drive!  Did not want to do that.  I had already gotten the more expensive thumb drive:  $11.99.

There was a Michael's store in the same plaza so we went over there (driving this time since my legs had had it with the cement underfoot...)  There we found a whole raft of lanyards for $3.99.  Most of them were gaudy horrible things that I would not wear.  There was one with fat fake pearls which was barely acceptable but the price was right and I needed something to keep the tiny electronic device from getting lost.

In the end it turned out to be unnecessary to have a flash drive, but now I have a nice thumb drive.  And on a lanyard!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Knitting: Third Shaker Cloth

Well, the third Shaker coaster cloth is done.  I moved to the size 4  needles.  Everything else was the same.  As you can see, this is still not small enough for a coaster.

One last time  I will try this pattern but will cut down the number of stitches to see if I can make a coaster.

"Coasters" knit on US 6, 5, and 4 needles.  Way too big.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Knitting Toys: Hammerhead Shark

Recently I received another toy request from young B.  He wanted a hammerhead shark.  A hammerhead shark?!!! That had never crossed my mind as a possible toy.  Fortunately someone else had thought of it.  "They are gray, Grammie," he told me, "and they can look in both directions."

Mary Kate Long posted this pattern for a hammerhead shark on Ravelry.com, a fabulous place to find free and for purchase patterns for absolutely anything you want to knit or crochet.

Because I had a few other projects going, I told B it would probably be after Christmas when I could work on the shark. He said that was okay since his birthday was after Christmas.  Very philosophical little creature....!
Hammerhead shark (or some other fish) with floppy dorsal fin, side fins, and tail fins.  Eyes on each side of the hammers.

However, on vacation I found some gray yarn, purchased it, and knit up the shark.  Very cute.  When home, I closed in the eyes, knit the fins and sewed them on and stuffed the shark.

Yesterday I took the shark to B.  He was home sick from school.  He immediately smiled when he saw what was in my hand and reached out for it.  He inspected it thoroughly then said, "This isn't really a hammerhead shark.  The mouth is supposed to be here! (pointing to a place closer to the front.  I must have misunderstood the directions...)... But I like this fish, whatever it is."  He is four years old.

Wrong mouth on hammerhead shark

He particularly liked the top fin.  "That is a dorsal fin, you know."  Well,  I had heard of dorsal fins but do not know if I would have picked that name out of a basket of names...

Anyway, he was happy.  I was happy to make it for him.  I expect his siblings will also be happy when they see it.  And it got finished before Christmas.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Traveling on Friday in “Leaf Peeper” Season

Things frequently do not work out the way I expect them to.  For example:  traveling on Friday during Leaf Peeper Season!  This is the story.

Dear One and I were at the end of our vacation weeks.  We had traveled to Virginia Beach for a week with my sister and her husband.  We had a wonderful restful time with them.  On Friday of that week we headed north to Galloway, New Jersey for another week.  A week where we expected to visit a cemetery and do family history work. That did not work out.

At the end of that week, another restful one, even though disappointing on the family history front, we headed towards home.  I was going to make a presentation at a family history conference an hour and a half from home on the Saturday so we stayed overnight in the area of the conference rather than traveling three more hours on the day of the conference.

We expected to spend four to five hours (we did need some comfort stops, after all!) on the trip.

WELL…we left New Jersey at 10:19 AM.  We arrived in Brattleboro, Vermont just before 7:00 PM!  NOT four or five hours.  The travel was very heavy and very slow in several sections of the road.  In fact, I looked down during one of the slow spells near Hartford, Connecticut and noticed that rather than driving along at the 5 miles an hour we had previously been driving, we were actually flying along at 14 miles an hour!  Making real progress then…

When we crossed the line into Vermont we REALLY needed a comfort stop, so we pulled into the Vermont Welcome Center.  We were FLABBERGASTED at the number of cars that were in the parking lot. I wondered if there would be any spots available in the comfort station. (Fortunately, there were, because the need was critical by then.) 

The trees at the Welcome Center were really beautiful so I resolved to take a few photos on my way back to the car.  This is one of them:
Tree at the Vermont Welcome Center in Brattleboro area.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Munchie Monday: Vacation Apple Pie

On vacation away from home, food is always an issue.
You can eat out.  (Expensive...)

You can eat in.   (You need to bring equipment, food, spices.)

You can fast.  (For a weekend, possibly...but probably not if you are going to be gone for a week.)

We always take food and kitchen stuff with us.  Too much stuff.  This vacation we took way more than we ever had before, including at least a peck of fresh utility Macoun apples.  They were good apples but we were not going to eat that many fresh apples.  What to do, what to do?

We chose to make an apple pie.  This is how:

Went to the store for a frozen pie shell.

Preheated the oven to 350 degrees F.

Peeled, cored, sliced 6 apples and put in large bowl with about 1/2 cup granulated sugar (from vacation supply bin) then added 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon (purchased at The Dollar Tree store).  Put the prepared apples into the pie shell.

Took 1 1/1 cups of Rip's Big Bowl cereal, sans the spoon sized Shredded Wheat, and crumbled it with 2 tablespoons butter (brought from home) and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (same vacation supply bin).  Mixed these ingredients until well combined and sprinkled over the apples.

Put pie in oven on top of cookie sheet that was in the unit.  If there had been no cookie sheet in the unit, we would have found a disposable one at The Dollar Tree.  Pies ALWAYS spew over the top.  It is unconscionable to make a terrible mess in the oven that the service staff will have to clean up.  Seriously. 

Bake for 45 minutes or so.  Insert a fork or knife into the apples to see if they are tender.  If not, let it cook another ten minutes or so.  Our oven did the job in just over 45.

It was not a perfect pie , but it was better than nothing, and a sweet treat to have for dinner a couple of nights.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Food Friday: Sort of Quick, Sort of Braised, Carrots on Vacation

Deep colored vegetables and fruits are supposed to be very good for our bodies.  I eat the darker colored vegetables whenever I can.

On vacation last week my sister and I went to a thrift store and found several really good things, including a folding steamer basket.  When we left on vacation this time, I had thrown most of the vegetables and fruits in our refrigerator into a cooler bag to take with us to eat up.  (NOTE TO SELF:  Do NOT do this again!!!  It is too much bother.  Instead  {new note to self!} save money all year so we can eat out on vacation most meals.)

We did not use the steamer last week, but this week, I put the steamer basket in a wonderful heavy pot that was here in the unit with two cups of water in the bottom and started the pot on medium high heat.  (I discovered the reason the steamer basket had been donated to the Salvation Army:the third leg had broken off.  Nevertheless it was still very usable, though it listed a little towards Sawyers'...)

More or less braised carrots.  Really delicious!

In the meantime I had peeled and cut into sticks about 3 inches long nearly a pound of carrots.  I put them into the steamer, covered the pot, and let them steam for about 6 minutes, until the carrots were tender crisp.

When the carrots were cooked enough to suit me,  I put about two teaspoons of butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet and melted it over medium heat.  After adding the cooked carrots I put them into the melted butter and stirred gently.  When they all were shiny with butter, I sprinkled on one teaspoon of granulated sugar and stirred again.  I turned off the heat and stirred and tossed the carrots for a couple of minutes then served.  They were really yummy. 

There are more carrots in the refrigerator so I will make this again.  Maybe next time Dear One will eat one or two sticks...but I am not counting on it.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Harvest 2016: Sweet Potatoes

As we were driving south for our vacation last week we saw three different signs beside the road (Route 13) advertising sweet potatoes. I LOVE sweet potatoes.  Dear One tolerates them. Occasionally.  Every time we saw a sign, we did NOT see any sweet potatoes.  As we left to drive back north we agreed that if we saw sweet potatoes we would stop.

WELL!  We did see a sign but the stand was RIGHT THERE, way too quick to turn off the highway without danger to life and limb, so we drove on.  Eventually, in Bridgeville, Delaware, we saw another sign, then a large field of cornstalks, then a pickup truck parted beside the road.  Dear One pulled over!

On the open tailgate of the truck were three big baskets of the largest sweet potatoes I had ever seen.  Dear One had given me three bills when I got out of the car: a ten, a five, and a one.  I asked the man at the truck about the big baskets of giant sweet potatoes.  They were $16!!!  Exactly the amount of money I had in my hand. 

Rushing back to the car I cleared a spot in the back seat for the basket of potatoes then went back to the truck.  More cars were stopping behind us.  It turns out the small baskets were $9, which is what the woman behind me bought while I was arranging the car to store the potatoes. 

It turned out the basket did not come with the potatoes.  Too bad.  Either way, I just wanted those potatoes.  A very large sturdy paper bag of sweet potatoes later, I was ready for some information on how to take care of the potatoes.  (Each potato will serve two hungry people, so it will take a while to eat them all.

This nice man said to store these potatoes in a dark, dry, warm place in their unwashed condition.  He said we needed to put a newspaper over the top so any moisture in the air would be caught by the newspaper and not settle on the potatoes.  He told me that if we stored them this way, the potatoes would last for a year.  Well, I can tell you right now, they WILL NOT last for a year. I doubt if they will last until Thanksgiving!  Unless I practice extreme restraint.  I have already consumed one that I cooked in the microwave.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Knitting Project: Toddler Hoodie

During our vacation I was able to finish the toddler hoodie I was knitting for the Yarn Hound in Dennis, Massachusetts.  I do not have the pattern in front of me but I am pretty sure this is the one here.

This hoodie is in a mostly-cotton yarn.  It knits up very well.

This sweater was really an easy knitting project.  The only thing that I had trouble with was the button band.  A specific number of stitches needed to be picked up. I did the exact number.  I followed the directions but still got the little funny bit at the bottom of the band.  Of course,  I still have not blocked the sweater.  Perhaps that will fix the appearance of the bottom of that button band.

This sweater is the 12-month size.  Because I did not find a 12-month old child to try it on, I cannot saw if the pattern is true to size.  Perhaps by the time I get the packaging together to send the sweater, I will have had time to block it and find a small model to check the sizing....

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Art Work: Grandson B's Picture

When B and L were at the Church accompanying their mom, a Cub Scout leader, and their brother, C, the other night, they came to the Family History Center where I was doing some genealogy research.  B asked if I had any paper. I found him a pad of recycled paper.  That was great!  Next he asked for a pen...which I was able to supply after looking around a little.

This is the picture he drew:

B on the left; Grammie in the middle; Something else I cannot identify...

As he drew, he was talking, reminding himself of the parts he needed to include in the picture.  When he came to the Grammie picture I heard him say, "Two round eyes, and a GREAT BIG SMILE."  That was so sweet and really touched me.  The frowsy hair was right on!

He did mention the rectangle on the right, but I did not grasp what it was.  He is four and has very good language skills, BUT we were not on the same page.  It was obvious from what he said that I should absolutely know what it was....

Monday, October 10, 2016

Munchie Monday: Rip's Big Bowl Cereal

Two years ago I attended a Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine Food For Life class.

The class leader prepared three dishes for us to try.  Dishes that turned out to be "animal free".  Vegan dishes.  Surprising me again to find that meals without meat, poultry, fish, dairy (including butter and cheese), and eggs  could be so delicious.
To avoid the likelihood of losing the recipe, the ingredients are listed on the container...

One of the dishes she had previously made and brought for us was called Rip's Big Bowl...from Rip Esselstyn's Engine 2 Cookbook.  The class leader had many topping items.  Dried fruit, fresh blueberries,  flaxseed meal,  chia seeds, walnuts, pecans, and other things.  All these additions add extra nutrition to the cereal.

The Big Bowl Cereal was really nice.  Crunchy.  Flavorful with blueberries, nuts, seeds, almond milk on it.  One of the selling points of this cereal is that there is very little sugar in the components. When I made it at home I chose unsweetened Almond Breeze milk.  This makes one's first bite of it a little disconcerting if one is used to sugar-y cereals....This is solved by adding fruit to the top and eating a bit of fruit in each bite.

Rip's Big Bowl waiting to be eaten.
In the Food For Life class, I asked what size a serving of this cereal would be.  She said, "As much as you can eat!"  I thought that was a strange response.  Hard to believe.  You can't eat as much as you can eat of ANYTHING! Since then, when I have been consistently eating plant-based foods for weeks, I find you really can eat as much as you want without the scales screaming at you to hop off.  In my case, that turns out to be one-half cup cereal, one-half cup fruit, one-half cup almond milk and whatever nuts, seeds, and flax seed meal I want to add.

In case you cannot read the ingredients on the Big Bowl container:

Rip's Big Bowl
6 cups old-fashioned oatmeal flakes (or regular oatmeal but I like a little more structure to the grains so old-fashioned is what I use)
Shredded Wheat spoon sized cereal NOT SWEETENED--16.4 ounces
Uncle Sam cereal--10 ounces
Grape Nuts cereal--29 ounces

Basically, you use one box of each of these cereals.  Mix them together in a giant bowl then store in a tightly covered container.  This makes a lot of cereal.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Food Friday: Soy Curls Shepherd's Pie

Yes!  You can use soy curls to make a creditable shepherd's pie if you are vegetarian or even vegan.

Shepherd's Pie with Soy Curls

Soak 1 cup soy curls in 1 cup water in which you have dissolved 1 teaspoon vegetarian Better Than Bouillon for 10-15 minutes.  Shred in blender or food processor without draining.

Wash 6 small potatoes  and one half peeled sweet onion.  Chop these vegetables into large chunks and cook in Instant Pot on soup setting for 4 minutes.

In a large bowl place shredded soy curls and 1 can corn kernels including liquid.  Add 1 teaspoon garlic granules and 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning and salt to taste. Mix well. Add 1-2 Tablespoons whole wheat flour; mix until flour disappears then place this mixture in casserole dish.  Put in 350 degree F. oven to start warming up.

This shepherd's pie looks nasty but tasted great.  Well, maybe not great, but certainly was tasty leaving us wanting more.

Drain and mash potatoes and onion, saving the juice for vegetable broth in another recipe.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add butter if you have to.

Bring the started-heating soy curls/corn casserole out of oven and spread mashed potatoes on top.  Return to oven for 20-30 minutes, until sauce thickens.

Makes four small servings.  Or normal (non-piggies ) may serve more.  This was really good and hard to stop eating.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Gardening: Blackberries in September!!! Really?

Last year Dear One purchased four blackberry bushes and planted them in a sunny spot along the edge of our field.  He placed a thick wooden stake to mark them and perhaps keep the lawn mower away from the tender little shoots.  As of this date he has been successful in this hope.

Every so often I have looked down there to see if the plants were still alive.  Yes.  They were.

Two days ago I went out to hop in the car which was parked in an unusual spot, near the blackberry bushes. I saw something white and wondered if a butterfly or moth was plaguing these plants. I went over to get a closer view.

 This is what I found:
What?!  Blackberries blossoming and fruiting in September?  Apparently.

This second photo shows  some more berry fruit that has set.

More berries on the right of the photo...
Now, I wonder....will the fall last long enough to actually ripen this fruit? Quite an exciting thought.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Knitting: Shaker Dish Cloths/Coasters

One of my favorite knitting projects is dishcloths/wash cloths.  Everyone can use them.  They are great for wiping up spills, dusting, washing faces, etc.

When I saw this pattern by Very Pink Knits I broke down and purchased it. (Normally I just knit from free patterns.)    I have been following the pattern as written and have made two so far.

There are directions for dishcloths and for coasters.  Since we have only two cork coasters, I decided to make coasters.

The first coaster was made with  US size 6 needles.  It was way larger than coaster size, but perfect for a small wipe-up cloth.  Next I used US size 5 needles (and the same yarn), which are what the pattern actually calls for.  This also was too large for a coaster, but fine for a smaller wipe-up cloth.

Next I will use US size 4 needles and see what I get.  If that does not work, I will decrease the number of stitches that I cast on.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Harvest 2016 Recipe: Chopped Golden Glow Pickles

When friends give me cucumbers or zucchini that I cannot eat up "fresh", I often make pickles or relish.  This was a new recipe for me.  These are actually a nice sweet pickle.  It would be possible to put the completed pickles through a food processor to make more of a relish, but I eat these on a vegetable or bean burger or on a nice baked potato, even cooked winter squash.

Chopped Golden Glow Pickles
6 to 9 large cucumbers
6 large  onions
3 green bell peppers
3 red bell peppers
1/4 c. canning salt

Peel and take seeds out of cucumber.  Chop them into a nice size.
Clean and chop peppers.
Clean and chop onions.
Add salt to vegetables. Mix and let stand overnight (or 8 hours).
Rinse well with cold water (put into colander to do this); drain thoroughly.

Mix together:
2 c. brown sugar
2 c. vinegar
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. mustard seed

Combine in a large pot and bring to boil. Add vegetables.  Gently stir with a long-handled stainless steel spoon then simmer 20 minutes (or so) until pickles are glossy (and not yet mushy). Put in jars and seal with lids.

Some people do not hot water can them, but I think it is safer to do so.  Process for 15-20 minutes.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Newsy Bit: Nature Comes Calling!

For years now we have seen wild turkeys in our area.  I have wanted to take photographs but usually have been driving when I we saw them.  Today THERE THEY WERE!!!  Walking through our backyard.

My shock and pleasure kept me in my seat watching them until they were mostly past.  I realized I could finally get a picture so I leaped up and got the camera.

Here is one of several pictures I took through our screened window.  This picture is less that lovely but it shows that we had wild turkeys walking RIGHT THERE!!!  So exciting.  If I had gotten up quicker, maybe I could have gotten a picture outside. It would have been clearer.

Wild turkeys outside our window!

Some day I will actually learn how to use software to turn a photograph into something better...