Wednesday, November 19, 2008

RECIPE - Party Nibbles

The holiday season is rapidly approaching. With the season comes parties. If you are hosting a holiday party or asked to bring a snack to a party, here are two great ideas. Both are easy to put together and they will be a big hit.

Sweet and Spicy Pecans
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1 egg white
2 c. pecan halves

Preheat oven to 300F. Mix the sugar and spices together in a small bowl. Beat the egg white lightly with a fork in a larger bowl; toss in the pecans and stir to coat. Sprinkle with the spice mixture and coat pecans evenly. Using your fingers, one by one transfer the pecans from the bowl to a baking sheet coated with a nonstick cooking spray or covered with parchment paper. Seperate them as best you can. Discard any left over sugar-egg mixture. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Then transfer to another baking sheet, breaking pecans apart as necessary; let cool completely. Kept covered in a dry place, pecans will stay fresh for 5 days.

Rosemary Almonds
3 TBS. butter
2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 c. raw almonds

Preheat oven to 350F. Using a baking sheet with a lip, melt butter. Mix seasonings into the butter, and toss almonds into the seasoning until coated. Bake in oven about 10 - 12 minutes, stirring once, until toasted and fragrant. Remove from oven. Serve warm or at room temperature.
These are so much better the next day so make them ahead.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Radio Station

Following our move from the midwest, we had to find new places to eat and shop. There was the search for a new mechanic, a primary care physician as well as all the specialists, a new dentist, and the list goes on... You anticipate the search for all of these services. But you don't think of having to find a new radio station.

Back in the midwest, our car radio was set to an oldies station, a couple of classic rock stations, and an easy listening station. After our move, doing a scan of the radio dial only yielded hip hop, country and pop stations. But way down on the lower end of the dial, I discovered a gem. WCPE, The Classical Station. They play a wonderful selection of modern classic and all the well known classical of composers like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart.

One of my favorite things about WCPE is that it is not a commercial radio station. It is funded buy its listeners. Most of the DJs are volunteers and are there for their love of classical music. They are well versed in the music and the composers and often share interesting stories about the composers.

I encourage you to give a listen to this wonderful radio station. Not in the Triangle area? No problem. Go to their website using the link to the right and listen to them online as I am doing as I type this. You can also click on the "Affliliates" link in the banner on their website as there may be a radio station in your area playing their music as they relay their programming to other stations across the US. One of those stations is KBTL at 88.1 in my hometown, but check the website for the hours because the station is ran by the college so they have funny hours.

Make sure you check back for more mundaneness...
Coming soon:
Cookies, Cookies, Cookies
Grandma's Buttons

Friday, November 7, 2008

Eventful Week

It's been a beautiful fall week in North Carolina. Temperatures have been in the low 70's throughout the day. The fall foliage is just past peak, but the trees are still beautiful. I'm sure Larry comments about how beautiful the leaves are as he rakes and blows huge piles to the street.

Wednesday, Larry had a luncheon with IBM to celebrate the completion of a project. I traveled with him and stayed at Billy and Kathryn's to play with Boogie. We had a couple of stops to make in Raleigh so it was after 8:00 when we got home. After getting home we fed the dogs then took them for a walk around the house. That is when Larry noticed some of the balusters on the front porch missing. There is a total of fifteen balusters missing. Someone or several someones pulled them out between the rails. It had to take them a while to do. Then it took them some effort to get them off our property as each baluster is 3"x3" and 18" long. All of this without being seen by any of the neighbors.

On Tuesday evening/night, a break in occured at a house in the block behind us. The neighbors across the street told us that they had a window in the back of the house that looked like someone had tried to open it. Some other neighbors across the street found their outside basement door open. Then this evening another neighbor's house alarm went off while he was away. Someone had tried to enter his house through the front door. Now Larry and I are wondering if the plan was to break into our house until they meet the dogs. Rather than go away empty handed, they took the balusters. We may never know.

What's Cookin'?
I've been busy in other areas of the house this week, so not a lot of baking has been happening. We had Chicken and Dumplings for dinner Thursday night. Tonight we had homemade biscuits and sausage gravy. For dessert we are enjoying some warm apple crisp with Bird's custard, a British thing. Thank you, Phil!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

RECIPE - Zucchini Cheddar Bread

This is yummy bread. It almost tastes like stuffing. Bake this bread the day before you want to serve it as it is so much better after it sits for a day.

1 c. chopped onion
1/4 c. butter
2 1/2 c. Bisquick baking mix
1 TBS. snipped parsley
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 c. milk
3 eggs
1 1/2 c. shredded fresh zucchini
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 c. toasted chopped almonds

Heat oven to 400F. Grease and flour round pan, 9 x 1/2 inches. Cook and stir onion in margarine until tender; cool slightly. Mix onion mixture, baking mix, parsley, basil, thyme, milk and eggs; beat vigorously 1 minute. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread in pan. Bake until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool slightly; remove from pan.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

It didn't seem like the campaigning would ever end but it is over. What will we do without all the political ads? I hope you took the opportunity to vote.

I've been thinking a lot about my dad's mom, Grandma Miller, the last few weeks. She was quite a character. Her vocabulary would make a sailor blush. She was a staunch Democrat, always voted a straight ticket. But she was also racist. I wonder how she would have voted this election?

It has rained here all day. Almost two inches of rain fell.

On Sunday, Larry and I painted the walls and ceilings of the upstairs and downstairs hallways. Both hallways measure twenty five feet long and ten feet wide with ten foot ceilings. That's a lot of painting. The walls are now a soft sage green and the ceilings are a shade lighter. We are so pleased with the change. The woodwork still needs painting, but that will happen over the next week or two. There is a lot of that with the crown molding, baseboards, eleven doors, one window and all the wainscotting in the downstairs.

The neighbor boy, Ta, asked me last week how much I would charge for a dozen oatmeal cookies and a dozen chocolate chip. I told him I would charge $2.50 a dozen. He said he wanted to buy a dozen of each. I told him I had the oatmeal cookie dough in the freezer and could bake them the next day but that I wouldn't get to the chocolate chip cookies until later this week. So he decided he would take two dozen oatmeal cookies for $5. Then he asked me how much it would be for the chocolate chip cookies when they were finished. Again, I told him it would be $2.50 a dozen. He told me he thought I should have a special - Buy one, get one free. He is quite the haggler.

What's Cookin'?
I made a big pot of chili yesterday. We had some for dinner last night with some Zucchini Cheddar Bread. There was enough chili for a large container to go into the freezer, another container for some lunches and I took some to the neighbors, Ann and George.

I put together a batch of Cheddar Pecan Wafers yesterday and baked them today. Yummy! There are still two logs of the dough that I will put in the freezer.

Larry asked me to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies as he wanted to give some to a coworker for all his help. No problem. I have never had chocolate chip cookies fail but these cookies were not my usual soft, chewy cookies. When the cookies baked, they spread too much and were crisp and crunchy. Adjusting cooking time did not help. So, I made another batch. They too failed. I wonder if the rainy weather had anything to do with it? Wonder if Ta would like ten dozen free cookies?

Friday, October 31, 2008


Hope you are having a great day! Love you!

Between the flu shot and all my errand running today, I'm tired and achy.

Errands included a stop at Sherwin Williams to have them mix up the paint for the hallways. Then a stop at Lowe's for two more heaters for the house. I bought one to use in the guest room. We will use it in the living room when we don't have guests. Also bought a heater for our bathroom. Now we won't have to break ice before we use the toilet. Then a stop at Wal-Mart for this and that. Back to Sherwin Williams to pick up the paint before heading back home.

We had lots of trick or treaters. So many that I had to turn off the light after an hour and a half. I didn't give out candy but instead gave out Halloween pencils, notepads, stampers, stickers and small packages of Goldfish.

Plans for the weekend obviously include painting the ceilings, walls, trim and wainscotting in the hallways upstairs and downstairs. Larry did most of the edging this evening. Rolling the ceiling and walls won't take long. It's painting all the woodwork that is going to be time consuming.

I'm hoping to get upstairs and work in my studio this weekend. Tomorrow is supposed to be warm, so maybe some yard work in the afternoon.

Time to turn the clocks back this weekend. While the time change in the fall isn't as bad as the one in the spring, it still messes me up. I'll be dragging all next week.

What's Cookin'?
Nothing! Frozen pizza was dinner tonight.

Tomorrow is the start of November. Time to get serious about the Christmas shopping...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Good bye, Charlie!

Had a doctor's appointment today. The annual "shed 'em and spread 'em". I haven't been to the doctor since we moved here, so this appointment was with a new doctor. I believe I'm going to like her. For a couple of months, I have had a skin tag just inside my left nostril. Not only is it annoying as hell, it looks like I have a booger hanging in my nose all the time. There were times I thought about giving it a name. I mentioned that while I was talking to her about removing it. She told me that she would remove it, but she wasn't sure if she would be able to get it numb enough and that it was "going to hurt like hell." She did get it numb and snipped that little "booger" right off. Then she said, "Goodbye, Charlie." We were giggling like teenagers.

She also told me that since I was not doing HRT that I had to "use it or lose it." Therefore, lots of sex. I know I am going to like this lady!

I wasn't going to get a flu shot this year because the only person I'm around is Larry. The doctor said that the flu has already started in North Carolina and it is a particularly nasty strain this year. "And you go to Wal-Mart, don't you? Those cart handles are the worst." Say no more... I'm going to start carrying alcohols wipes.

What's Cookin'?
The sugar cookies are baked. There are pumpkins, ghosts and black cats waiting to be frosted tomorrow. I think this may be my sugar cookie recipe. Still have one more recipe I want to try.

For dinner tonight, I reached in the freezer for a Birdseye Viola! Chicken Primevera. The kitchen challenge today was focaccia bread. No challenge at all. The recipe I used was simple and tastes very good. I found it on recipezaar. You can find a link to the recipe under the links section on the right side of this page.

Busy day tomorrow. I'm making a trip to Wal-Mart (with my alcohol wipes!) and you never know who this weirdo magnet will attract.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Harvest Time

In anticipation of the forecasted freeze this week, I harvested all my herbs Sunday. I finally got them hung up to dry today. There is a lot of rosemary and lavender and small amounts of oregano, marjoram, sage, thyme and tarragon. They are all bundled and hanging in the windows of the sun porch off Larry's office.

I walked around the yard a couple of times today looking for fallen pecans and only gathered a handful. Most of them have already fallen and been gathered. There are about thirty pounds of pecans waiting for me to crack. While the trees in the back yard produced a lot of pecans, the two trees in the side yard didn't have a lot of nuts. Or so I thought. While I was planting iris in the new garden on that side of the house Sunday, I kept digging up pecans that the squirrels have buried. I suppose they will be digging up all the tulips, daffodils and iris I've planted looking for their hidden treasures.

I've been living in the south for almost a year now. And sometimes, I still can not understand the locals. On a quick trip to the store today, I had the opportunity to listen to a conversation between two of the clerks. I know they were talking English, but I have no idea what they were saying. Not only do they talk fast and slur words together, they drop letters or complete words all together. Law, will I eer unerstan?

What's Cookin'?
The Refrigerator Oatmeal Cookies were baked and delivered to Ta for his birthday today.

I've been trying to find a "signature" sugar cookie. I want a dough that is easy to put together and is easy to handle. The cookies should be soft and puffy as well as taste good plain or frosted. I've tried several different recipes, but have not been able to find just the right one. This afternoon I put together a recipe called Butter Cutouts. They are in the fridge chilling and I will roll, cut and bake them tomorrow. I've got some Halloween cookie cutters I will use as I want to give them to the neighbor kids for trick or treat. I'll let you know if this is "The One."

Tonight's dinner was Monday's leftovers. Homemade chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes. Yum! I used the Basil Rubbed Roasted Chicken carcass from Sunday night's dinner to make stock. Then my Kitchen Challenge for Monday was to make homemade egg noodles. I threw away the first batch as I added too much water and knew that adding more flour to make them stiff would make the noodles tough. With the second batch, I was careful when adding the water. The dough worked up well. Of course, the true test is in the eating. Oh my! They were soooo gooood!

Stay tuned to see what mundane-ness occurs tomorrow...

RECIPE - Oatmeal Refrigerator Cookies

1 c. butter flavored shortening
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 c. quick cooking rolled oats
1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts or pecans

Cream together shortening and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each; add vanilla. Thoroughly stir together flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon; stir into creamed mixture a small amount at a time. Stir in oats and nuts. Shape dough into two 8 inch rolls. Wrap each roll into waxed paper or clear plastic wrap. Chill thoroughly. Cut into 1/4 inch slices. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350F for 8 to 10 minutes. The cookies should look soft and puffy when done. Remove the cookies from the oven and tap the cookie sheet so the cookies flatten. Allow the cookies to remain on the cookie sheet for another minute, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

RECIPE - Cream of Tomato Soup

1 large or 2 small cans tomatoes (Stewed tomatoes or diced tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic work well.)
2 slices onion
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbl. butter
2 Tbl. all purpose flour
1 1/2 c. milk

Combine first six ingredients in a 2 qt. saucepan. Simmer 10 minutes; seive. ( I remove bay leaf and put mixture in blender and pulse two or three times as we like it a bit chunky.) Melt butter; blend in flour. Stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium heat till thickened. Slowly add hot tomato mixture stirring constantly. Serves 6.

If you use the tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic, sprinkle with parmesan cheese after placing in bowls.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hard freeze coming!

Brrr! Chilly fall day in North Carolina today. The chill was made even colder by the blowing wind. It reminded me of Kansas. Many of the leaves that were clinging to their trees gave it up today.

It would be nice to say that it was cozy and warm in the house but I can't say that as we have NO heat. It is not just a matter of not having turned the heat on yet. I mean we HAVE NO HEAT! Larry took out all the radiators and the boiler in preparation for the installation of central heat and air. WHAT WAS HE THINKING! Then the sale of the house fell through thus no $$$ for the heating/cooling system. We are currently heating the house with two space heaters - one in our bedroom which also helps heat the living room and one in the kitchen. We are wearing lots of layers of clothing.

Today was the first sighting of the "Leaf Suckers". That's what I call our local public works employees whose job it is to suck the raked leaves from the curbs with a huge vaccuum attached to a truck. Every year they hire new workers as it is a temporary job. It was obvious the driver was new as he worked twenty minutes trying to get the truck backed up to a small pile of leaves the other two workers had raked to the corner. He finally gave it up and drove around two blocks to come at it from a different direction. Typical of the "odd" behavior of the natives.

Speaking of odd behavior - Sunday Larry and I watched two guys each rolling two skinny tires with big rims. They had to navigate around the corner then up the hill next to our house. Larry looked at me and spoke the same thing I was thinking, "Do you think they stole them?" Imagine two cars sitting on their axles. One is the car from which the tires were taken, the other the car the which tires are going. If it hadn't looked so obvious, I would have followed them as I wanted to watch them manage the tires on the steep downhill slope of the next three blocks.

Larry and I got out today and voted. What a great thing this early voting! Next Tuesday we will not have to fight the crowds and just sit back and watch the results.

Today is Geof and Carolyn's anniversary. Happy Anniversary to them!

Cameron, one of our young neighbors, had to holler his daily reminder of how many days left until "Trick or Treat."

Darn! I lost my eBay bid on a lot of 32 aprons. There were some cool aprons there.

What's Cooking?
Today I made a batch of Oatmeal Refrigerator Cookies. They were a special request from Jartavious, another young neighbor. He wants some for his birthday tomorrow but I couldn't put nuts in them as nuts get stuck in the big hole he has in one of his molars. "No, thanks. I don't need to see it." Since the recipe makes two rolls, I put one roll in the fridge to bake tomorrow. The other roll went into the freezer for use at a later date. Maybe for Christmas cookie plates?

Dinner tonight was homemade cream of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Yummy, warm comfort food.

I'm carefully tending a sourdough starter. It has been fermenting since Sunday. This is my second attempt. The first attempt failed as the starter is supposed to be kept in a warm place. Kind of hard to do when the average temperature in my kitchen hovers somewhere around 62F. I put the starter on a top shelf in one of my cabinets and put Larry's shop light next to it. I'm anxious to make some sourdough bread.