Monthly Archives: September 2011

Fun, Food and Family

My mom and dad are here! ๐Ÿ™‚

You know what that means – lots of laughter, lots of food, and lots of projects!

Pedro and Dad were carrying in a door frame for the boys closet within 2 hours of his arrival yesterday. That frame now has a really cool vintage bead board door in it! He worked himself out of projects this afternoon which gave him time to enjoy some fishing with Buddy.

Today our morning began with the annoying sound of the Amish neighbor’s train whistle at 5:45 AM and ended with an archeological dig in the dishwasher to see why it wasn’t cleaning my dishes. (I’m just glad it wasn’t an autopsy!)

We hit 2 Amish stores, 2 garage sales, 2 grocery stores and 2 thrift stores.

We enjoyed a decadent mocha cream brownie, a spicy rich apple crisp, and a pan of super hot poppers.

We took walks, picked vegetables, and sang along with The Music Man.

And we laughed.

Trust me – grocery shopping is much more fun when Nana is pushing the cart! Who knew she felt so strongly about protecting my lettuce?! She even held it in her lap all the way home! You should have seen her jump when Dagmar pretended to put the ice cream on top of it!

Then there was the Amish woman who sideswiped us at the grocery store in her effort to get to the sale flour before we did. We stared in astonishment as she used her cart and ample back side to block us until she had all the flour she wanted.

When she had backed off a little, I slid in and grabbed 2 bags. I would have taken more – but I was more than a little scared of her!

Couldn’t you just see the headlines?!ย  “Local Woman Accosted by Amish Grandmother in the Baking Aisle of Neighborhood Grocery Store”.

I’m sure Dagmar, Angel Girl and Nana would have protected me with the bag of sale bananas! ๐Ÿ™‚

And the fun’s not over yet! Tomorrow’s agenda includes 2 estate sales, another garage sale, a couple projects, and more time at the pond fishing.

Happy weekend everybody!

And a Time to Throw Away…

ChocolateAs I brushed my teeth last night, I noticed that there were 3 empty toothpaste tubes in the bathroom.

Three.

This isn’t the only time I’ve seen something like this.

A recent sweep of the refrigerator yielded 2 ketchup bottles, 3 Ranch dressing bottles, 3 Hershey’s syrups and a couple of barbecue sauces – all empty.

There was an empty shampoo bottle in the bathtub and both toilet paper holders had a new roll sitting on top of the empty cardboard tube.

And – there was an empty corn flake box in the pantry. What’s with this? Are we expecting the corn flake fairy to refill it?

I think my kids may have an aversion to throwing things away.

Or maybe <gasp> they learned this behavior from me.

In my efforts to be super frugal I might just have gone overboard teaching them to get every little bit of chocolate out of each Hershey’s bottle before it was forever lost in the garbage.

Maybe cutting the bottles in half and using a spatula might have been a bit extreme. ๐Ÿ™‚

Looks like I may need to temper my frugal lessons with a little Ecclesiastes 3:5 “…a time to keep and a time to throw away…”

Meanwhile – I have added garbage collector to my job description.

But at least I can take comfort in the fact that at least they still need me. ๐Ÿ™‚

Poppers

popperTomatoes best friend- the peppers – are finally starting to really produce. We’ve been waiting all summer to start feeding our popper cravings!

Now I know some people get really fancy with their poppers – with breading and bacon and the whole nine yards.

Personally – I really love them that way, but just can’t justify the time or extra calories several times a week.

So we’ve come up with a much simpler version that allows us to each poppers 3 or 4 nights a week – which is a very happy thing!

We wash the jalapeno peppers, cut off the stem end, and slice them lengthwise. Then we use a metal measuring spoon to dig out the seeds and fill the cavity with cream cheese.

We put them on a foil lined baking sheet and bake them at 350 for about 30 minutes. When they are soft and the cream cheese is brown and bubbly – we just put the entire pan in the middle of the table and feast!

And I do mean feast! It’s every man, woman and child for themselves! We call it the “popper roulette” because you never know whether the one you choose is going to be a hot one.

Every once in a while the chef may leave a popper with the seeds and membranes in it so that one unsuspecting victim will get a a real kick! ๐Ÿ™‚

As we shoveled them in tonight, Dagmar wondered if there were any other crazy families out there who sit at the supper table and pop poppers like candy?

I sure hope so! It’s one very tasty family tradition!

I’ve linked this post with Tasty Tuesdays at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace.

Mock Smoked Turkey

TurkeyI seriously had no time to plan my meal for our recent family gathering.

When my mom emailed me asking what I wanted to bring – I told her it would be something on a bun.

A “surprise sandwich” if you will.

Trust me – it was a surprise for me, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

When I finally got around to thinking about it – just 2 days before we left – I found 1 big turkey in the freezer.

It was too big to fit in the smoker – so I knew I couldn’t smoke it. So what could I do to make it a little different than just roast turkey sandwiches?

My exhausted, muddle-headed brain decided to try brining the bird putting some liquid smoke right in the brine.

Would you believe it worked? The family gobbled up that bird (excuse the pun) so fast I was amazed.

The smoked flavor was light – but the brine keep it really moist and yummy! And the best thing of all – anybody can make it – you don’t need a smoker!

Sometimes creating while half-asleep is a good thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

Mock Smoked Turkey

Take your thawed bird (either a chicken or a turkey) and put it in a large container to brine. This will need to fit in your fridge overnight – so you might need to be creative. (Hint: Alton Brown suggests using a large ice chest for brining your birds so that it can sit out overnight.)

Then make enough brine to completely cover your bird. I do this one batch at a time until the whole thing is drowning.

Brine:

1/2 cup non-iodized salt
1/2 sugar (I’ve used both white and brown)
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
1 quart water

Just mix them together till dissolved and pour over your bird.

Then let the whole thing sit for at least 6 hours – but I prefer overnight – in the fridge (or ice chest).

When your ready – take it out of the brine and place in a roaster with a little water on the bottom. Shake a little salt and pepper on the bird and bake at 350 degrees until that little popper thingee pops up.

You could slice it and serve it hot from the oven – or you could pull it from the bone and freeze it with the broth until you need it.

I pulled the meat offย  and froze it overnight with the broth. (I wanted it good and cold for the 4 hour car ride the next day.) To serve – I threw it in the crock pot to warm it up and served it hot over my dad’s fresh buttermilk bread. Yum!

Enjoy!

I’ve linked this post up with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace and Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

It’s a Jungle In There

It’s a jungle in my garden right now!

The entire bottom third of the big garden is one solid mess of vines – mostly butternut squash and sugar pumpkins.

MelonsAnd I do mean a solid mess.

There must be a ga-zillion squash and pumpkins in there – but I really don’t venture too far in to explore.

You see – the other day I tried it and something furry and four-legged rustled through the vines ahead of me.

It’s probably just a bunny – but you can never be too careful about things like that. I’m remembering our recent woodchuck with a fondness for winter squash.

He may have friends.

Maybe if I wore hip boots. Do you think a wood chuck could bite through rubber?

On second thought – maybe I’ll just wait for a nice frost so the vines die away a little! ๐Ÿ™‚

TomatosThen there’s my monster tomato plants.

These things are like small trees!

They are huge and they are everywhere. It’s a nightmare to pick them.

You know how tomato vines make your arms turn green and leave a sticky slimy stuff when you touch them? I get covered with it every time I pick! I have to literally claw my way through the plants and reach way inside the tomato cages to finally get the tomatoes.

It’s a nasty job and nobody wants to do it.

I think my kids would rather scrub the bathroom floor with a toothbrush than go into the garden and pick tomatoes!

Note to self:ย  next year plant the tomatoes much further apart.

And get more and stronger tomato cages!

But in all seriousness – I love this season in the garden! It’s all about harvesting and enjoying – about planning your meals around what you just picked.

Even if it means wearing full-battle gear to get the harvest!

I’ve linked this post up with The Tuesday Garden Party over at The Oregon Cottage.