"It is well to remember that the entire population of the universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others." A.Holmes

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Little 'T' & Answered Prayer

This is a picture of a toy truck my father made our oldest son many years ago. Our oldest son gave us the gift of the privilege of having his youngest daughter stay with us for one week. She has chosen to spend a great deal of her time playing with this very truck.She fills it with the Fisher Price People our sons and daughter played with almost every day of their childhood ( and into their junior high years, but don't tell anyone) and moves the little people around and all over our home. Little 'T' has set up the Little People house, barn and so many other toys I saved all over the living room, and she has furnished the little house with all the things a family needs. She has ongoing dialogs with the people and contents herself very nicely for hours playing with them and transporting them in the back of this truck my father made. My father was always busy making, creating, and inventing things from scrap wood and metal but he also had a real interest in the people important to him and this wooden truck contains a special and loving notice of our son, his grandson's unique tastes and interests. How much more can a person show love than to really notice what their loved ones love? Note the hand painted sign on the side of the truck "CALL DAVID'S C-1812". ( See, I ate one too) Our oldest son, Little 'T's daddy, was notorious for eating bizarre things. I do believe he would do quite well on on those Travel Shows that have vast numbers of devout viewers tune in to see just what strange things will be eaten this week. When our son was 3 years old I discovered him sitting in the grass and shaking his head...he then pulled out of his mouth a fluttering moth...and that was tame compared to other bugs and foods he would later eat..so you can clearly see my father knew his grandson! We took full advantage of having Little 'T' here and had 2 tea parties. The first tea party we invited my husband's parents to. 'T' decided for tea we should have tuna fish...to spread on crackers, potato chips, cherry chip cupcakes, brownies, juice and tea. Very easy! Her great-grandparents would have come for mud pies just because she was here, so tuna sandwiches were a very nice lunch with tea. 'T' and her great-grandpa, my husband's father, teased each other a lot. Most of the great-grandchildren are shy, Little 'T' is not , and she really is a hoot, so he had a great time with one of his younger great-granddaughters. Here Little 'T' and her Great-Grandpa have an interesting discussion. She boldly asks him about his eye, which is a bit droopy after nerve damage, his spots, his lack of thick hair. She points out her Poppa, my husband, is bald because his hair has slipped. Please note, to my dear Father-in-laws' benefit, he has more hair on his head than do both of his sons. Little 'T' told both of her Great-Grandparents she wanted them to stay at our house with her. She tickled my Father-in-law and cuddled him. She won our hearts. We are so blessed with this answer to prayer...she is the youngest of our son's 4 daughters...one of the little girls we ( and many of you ) have prayed for -for almost 2 years . Here are pictures to show you ANSWERED PRAYER! I cannot begin to tell you how my heart sings with gratitude, and my dear Father and Mother -in-law's hearts do too. My next post will tell a bit of the rest of the visit, but I want to end with this quote from Luci Swindoll~ "To experience happiness we must train ourselves to live in this moment, to savor it for what it is, not running ahead in anticipation of some future date nor lagging behind in the paralysis of the past.....Those special savored moments of fun, reflection, happiness, and pleasure give us a tiny taste of what eternity with Christ will one day be like."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Jamie Oliver Friday & Thankful to Be Able To Post!

This is the Jamie Oliver meal we had last Friday. Here I thought I was a good little Girl Scout and prepared ahead of time with delicious results. However reality and life do exert their prerogative to totally thumb their noses at me and usurp my plans. I know this NEVER happens to any of you. Shortly after my last post our computer caught a virus and had to be sent to the computer hospital , whereupon we paid an extra fee to have our dearly beloved computer restored quickly. Our computer came home with amnesia and thanks to a dear friend ( and NOT the computer hospital ) we have some semblance of computer function and now I have to relearn my computer, and he has to re-learn us. Namely , I have to figure out where all the files and pictures are hidden , as the back-up disks the computer hospital made for us grouped all my precious pictures in strange ways and places. As I work out the game of hide-and-seek with my pictures I was able to locate Jamie's picture and download the last meal we made using his book. Here goes... Jamie's Balsamic-Baked Onions & Potatoes With Roast Pork "This dish has attitude-it uses a lot of balsamic vinegar but, trust me , it works really well!....I've chosen to serve them with pork, but beef or lamb works just as well." J. Oliver You Will Need:
  • 3 and 1/2 pounds medium sliced waxy potatoes ( all purpose..we used potatoes from our garden) peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • 7 ounces butter, cubed
  • a bunch of fresh rosemary leaves picked and chopped
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic, quartered or smashed
  • 5 medium red onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1 and 1/2 cups cheap balsamic vinegar
For The Pork
  • a small bunch of fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly ground fennel seeds
  • 1 - 3 and 1/2 pound pork loin ( or beef or lamb of choice)
  • olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 sticks of celery trimmed and chopped
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 wineglasses of white wine
  • extra virgin olive oil
"Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the potatoes into a pan of boiling water and cook for about 8 minutes, then drain and return to the pan. Chuff them up a bit by shaking the pan. To prepare the meat, scatter a handful of finely chopped rosemary leaves onto a large chopping board. Sprinkle over some salt and pepper and the ground fennel seeds. Roll the pork ( or roast of choice) across the board, pressing down hard so all the flavorings stick to it. Get a large roasting pan that your pork will fit snugly into, and place it on a burner over medium high heat. Pour in a little olive oil and place the pork in, fat side down, sprinkled with any flavorings remaining on the board. After a few minutes, when the pork fat is lightly golden , turn it over and add the garlic cloves, onion, celery and bay leaves to the pan. Place on the bottom shelf of your pre-heated oven for an hour, basting it halfway through. ( For the last 20 minutes of cooking you may need to cover the pork with a bit of damp waxed paper to stop it coloring too much.) Get another roasting pan into which you can fit the potatoes in one layer, and heat it on the stove. When hot, pour a glug of olive oil into it and add the butter, rosemary and garlic. Add the potatoes and toss them in all the flavors. Add the onions and all the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes on the burner to reduce the balsamic vinegar a little. Place the pan on the top shelf ( of oven ) and cook for around 50 minutes until potatoes and onions are dark, sticky and crispy- removing the pan to toss the onions and potatoes half-way through. After an hour , the meat should be cooked. Prick it with a sharp knife- if the juices run clear, it's done; if not, pop it back in the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes, keeping the potatoes warm . Remove it from the oven and let it rest on a plate for 10 minutes. Pour away most of the fat from the pan and mash up the garlic and onion. Place the pan over the burner and add the white wine. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by half,scraping all the meaty, marmitey goodness off the bottom to make a tasty little sauce, and season if necessary. Pass through a sieve into a serving pitcher. Then slice the pork and serve it with your incredible baked onions and potatoes, drizzled with the pan juices. Great with some nice greens on an arugula salad." J. Oliver The vegetable portion of this recipe is delicious all by itself! We decided the wine sauce was not worth the effort because the sauce from the vegetable dish was superior to it. The pork loin I bought was on sale, however this would be delicious as a beef or lamb dish too. And don't think this recipe requires an expensive cut of meat, it does NOT! Worth making and great eating. Thanks again Jamie! BTW, I served home-made buttermilk biscuits slathered in REAL butter and home-made yellow plum jam along-side this dish.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Perfect Pear ,Good Fruit !

My husband picked this perfect pear last week. It was the only pear to survive on his espaliered tree. I think when it is finished ripening indoors that I will cut it in half and serve it with ceremony...maybe on a paper doily on one of my best china plates. Isn't it a beautiful pear? My husband planted 2 fruit trees against this fence which connects to our sheep pen, and is mere steps from the front porch. Last spring this tree was covered in lovely blooms. I remember thinking "Oh goody! We'll get a few pears from this tree in the fall." The strong winds and rain knocked off a lot of the blossoms, then the extreme heat we had this year, combined with my forgetfulness in watering the tree contributed to the distress that caused the tree to drop many little pears prematurely. But one pear persisted. See it? One perfect, pretty pear! You know, the espalier tree next to it is an apple tree. It does not produce pears. The pear tree does not produce apples.The espaliered trees are the same size and look quite similar. They are growing in the same soil and receive the same care ( or lack thereof). If you could not tell the difference between the two fruit trees before they produce fruit, well..when the fruit is growing you will know for sure! Jesus said "You will know them ( false prophets who come to you in sheep clothing) by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes are they ? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit , nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits." Matthew:7: 16-21 "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked...his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he does meditate day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water which yields its' fruit in its' season...." Psalm 1:1-3 "And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." James 3:18

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jim & Jamie In The Kitchen

Tonight my husband, Jim, prepared dinner following one of Jamie Oliver's recipes. I asked him especially because venison is almost always cooked by him. Venison is deer meat. My husband is a hunter and any venison in our freezer is there because my husband was successful in his hunt.Not only does my husband hunt and kill the deer , he cuts and wraps the deer for the freezer. Thus, all venison we cook is thankfully received from God, and thereafter preserved and prepared by my dear husband. Jamie Oliver aptly named this dish : "Wild Mushroom & Venison Stroganoff For Two Lucky People" (If venison is not available to you, I think any beef fillet would do nicely) because the ingredients and flavors were a very pleasant surprise to us!
(above:My husband in the kitchen) Wild Mushroom & Venison for Two Lucky People
You will need:
  • 7 ounces white rice
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 med. red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 11 ounces venison loin, fat and sinews removed, trimmed and sliced into finger-sized pieces
  • sea salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 9 ounces mixed exciting, robust mushrooms, wiped clean, torn into bite-sized pieces ( we only had supermarket mushrooms, exciting enough for us)
  • a small bunch of fresh flat-leafed parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped, stalks finely chopped
  • a knob of butter ( don't you just love the way the Brits describe this?)
  • a good splash of brandy
  • zest of 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
  • a few little gherkins ( pickles) sliced
"This venison stroganoff is absolutely fantastic , of course you can use the more traditional beef fillet instead of venison, and any mushrooms you like, but there's something about venison and wild mushrooms that works so well together. Have a go at this and you'll know what I mean." J. Oliver "Cook the rice according to the package instructions until it's just undercooked and drain in a colander. Put the rice back into the pan, cover with aluminum foil and leave to one side to steam~this will give you incredibly light and fluffy rice." "Heat a large frying pan on a medium heat and pour in a glug of extra virgin olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes until softened and golden. Remove from the heat and spoon the onions and garlic out of the pan onto a plate. Keep to one side." "Season the meat well with salt, pepper and the paprika. Rub and massage these flavorings into the meat. Place the frying pan back on a high heat and pour in some more olive oil.Add the mushrooms and fry for a few more minutes until they start to brown.Then add the meat and fry for a minute or two before adding the parsley stalks ( you can do this in two pans or in batches if your pan is not big enough) and the cooked onion and garlic. Toss and add the butter and brandy." "You don't have to light the hot brandy, but flaming does give an interesting flavor so I always like to do this. Once the flames die down, or after a couple of minutes of simmering, stir in the lemon zest and all but 1 tablespoon of the creme fraiche and season to taste. Continue simmering for a few minutes. Any longer than this and the meat will toughen up~it doesn't need long, as it's been cut up so small." "Serve your fluffy rice on one big plate and your stroganoff on another. Simply spoon the remaining creme fraiche over the stroganoff, then sprinkle over the sliced gherkins* and the parsley leaves. Eat at once!"
*My husband and I almost did NOT add the sliced pickles. However, I am learning from following the recipes as precisely as possible that things I would have normally ignored because they seem yucky to me might not be as yucky as I imagined and here Jamie Oliver is RIGHT! We did add the gherkins ( pickles) and were very, very pleasantly surprised. Be sure you add pickles to this dish whether you use venison or beef. You'll be glad you did!The lemon zest also contributed to the taste experience, for the better. My husband did a wonderful job of preparing this dish following Jamie Oliver's recipe and if you are fortunate to have a bit of venison or beef this is well worth your time. I am giving you an A+ Jamie and Jim! Jamie well-named this dish " for two lucky people", and WE are!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

To Little 'T'

"Little girls are the nicest things that happen to people. They are born with a little bit of angelshine about them, and though it wears thin sometimes~ there is always enough left to lasso your heart....." Alan Beck
Happy 4th birthday youngest granddaughter~ we love you!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Moles Winning!

Ai-yi-yi! They're killing us! These cute, blind, furry animals are responsible for many dastardly deeds around here! All the result of an ongoing, never-ending, 24 hour a day, day in and day out, major excavation project waged here at our place. Sorry to all you soft-hearted people who hate to think any of God's creations should be deliberately killed. Well, not sorry enough to NOT blog about it , or proclaim it aloud. This is how I want to see moles, DEAD! Oh, we get one or two a month in out traps , but I am positive there is a mole version of the Army Corp of Engineers at work underground around here! The moles around here do not make hills and holes, no- they make caverns and mountains with tunnels that have literally collapsed some of our trees and big plantings. They have caused rock walls to collapse. The caverns, mountains, and tunnels are in our poultry and dove pens, the sheep pens, the herb, vegetable and flower gardens. I expect the moles to pop up in the kitchen and ask me to saute' their worms for them any day now. What exactly is Miss Marple doing about it? Other people tell me their cats kill moles. Miss Marple stalks and kills teddy bears. ( wow, that's a big help, gotta take care of those pesky teddy bears running amok inside) She kills the little shrews in great numbers. She doesn't eat them, just kills them and leaves them for me to find. These were on the porch just last week. But no dead moles.
Miss Marple, no more napping all day if you can't leave a dead mole or three on the porch!
Yes, I appreciate these dead mice, and you left these whole, not gutted as you normally do. Must have filled your tummy on so many other mice, frogs, and birds that you had left-overs for me. Thank-you very kindly, but please....a dead mole?
NO!! Not Belle our cockatiel, a mole!
Like this!
I don't think Miss Marple is taking me seriously...
...and those pesky moles are winning! If moles were the size of cows all earth would be doomed. ...."Accomplishing nothing but their brief physical lives as they live and die, pushing and shoving with their stubborn muzzles against the whole earth, finding it delicious." Mary Oliver, MOLES

Friday, October 16, 2009

Jamie Oliver's Cheese & Onion Salad With Dressing

This is our lettuce patch in the garden, the picture was taken in July. My husband has 3 beds of lettuces growing.He plants lettuce in the spring and it is still growing, although scarce and rangy this time of the year. Since I am following Jamie Oliver's wonderful cookbook as it relates to seasons in the garden ( and for those of you who frequent Farmer's Markets this would be the same) I decided to try out this recipe with some of our remaining lettuces. I harvested quite a bit of lettuce and washed and dried each leaf. I did munch on a lot of the lettuces as I was preparing this dish and they are oh, so good all by themselves and without any additions or adornments! My husband was away on business when I made this so I set a little tray for my dinner and added some chicken breast drizzled in *Mary's Cranberry Dressing. ( click* to view recipe).
Cheese and Onion Salad With Creamy Herb Dressing ( EASY!)
  • 8 small shallots, peeled and finely sliced
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • white wine vinegar
  • 1 romaine or cos lettuce ( I used ours from the garden)
  • 1 Boston or Bibb lettuce, outer leaves removed, washed and spun dry, leaves separated ( we actually had some of this lettuce in our garden too)
  • 4 large handfuls of mixed salad leaves ( such as arugula, oak leaf and a little dandelion) washed and spun dry, leaves separated ( picked from our garden)
  • 4 ounces Roquefort cheese., crumbled
  • a good handful of walnuts, toasted and crumbled
  • optional: a small handful of chive or allium flowers
Jamie Oliver introduces this easy recipe by saying ," Have a go at this recipe, even if you don't particularly like onions in salads, as they're quite mild. You can use sweet red onions instead of shallots if you like. And feel free to use any interesting mixed salad leaves. "Place the shallots in a small bowl with a generous pinch of salt and pour over just enough white wine vinegar to cover. You'll pour away the excess salt and vinegar once the onions are pickled, so don't worry if you think it's a bit much! Scrunch everything together with your hands and leave to marinate for at least 10 minutes. To make the dressing you'll need: extra virgin olive oil, 2 Tablespoons Creme Fraiche, 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar . Mix 4 tablespoons of olive oil with the creme fraiche ( see note below) and the red wine vinegar . Whisk everything together and season to taste. Squeeze the shallots hard with your hands and drain. Place the salad leaves on a plate. From a height , sprinkle over the shallots and the crumbled Roquefort. Scatter over the crumbled walnuts-it's really nice if they're still a bit warm from being toasted. I like to drizzle over the dressing at the table. Finish by throwing some torn up chive or allium flowers if you have them."
This salad was delicious, I might bring it to our potluck and add pasta to it to make it a filling meal all on its' own!
~I have really learned a lot by reading through and following these recipes. I thought I had a pretty good understanding of basic cooking and putting meals together and usually take a look at a recipe that interests me , gather the basic ingredients and proceed on my own, winging it. Since I accepted my husbands' challenge to make one of JAMIE"S recipes every week and blog about it I have had to follow the recipe as precisely as possible, after all , these are HIS recipes. What I have learned is that there are so many subtle things in recipes I never paid attention to ( such as procedures, herbs and flavorings) that completely transform a meal or dish from" O.K. and tasty" to " delicious, interesting and tasty"! Now I know why many of my husband's lovingly prepared meals go beyond the ordinary. Guess there is a good reason to be storing all those herbs, sauces, oils,vinegars, etc, in the cupboards, pantry and refrigerator. NOTE:Creme Fraiche, this is used in a LOT of recipes that originate outside the U.S. We can buy it at Trader Joe's which is not close or convenient to us.I have searched for it in all our local ( local being within 25 miles) supermarkets and have not found it. You can make a substitute for it. Just Google "Substitutes for Creme Fraiche". I would give you the substitute for it here but found several and if you google it yourself you will find the best one for you. Anyone out there feel strongly about the best substitute for it? Let us know, please!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Maze And Castle

A visit to a Siemer's pumpkin farm and corn maze was a highlight of our time with ALL 3 0f our grown children and 8 grandchildren. There is a castle to find after one searches for and finds the right path in a vast corn and blueberry bush maze. You can also buy your pumpkins there, along with apples, squashes, gourds, corn~ there are vendors,good food, fiddlers, little train rides, a big slide, a pirate ship... all for the family to enjoy. We came mostly for the fun of going through the maze to find the castle. This picture was taken after a bit of time roaming the corn portion of the maze. We were sure when we got into the blueberry maze we were almost to the castle....we were wrong.You can see the castle easily, but the right path is not so easy to find.
We walked into this .
Here is an overview of a small portion of the maze.
"Here lies Bob, too proud to ask for help." Our youngest granddaughter was very sad for awhile because she thought there really was a Bob buried there.
Which way shall we go? You can see the other grandchildren through the corn.
Oops! Guess this is not the way.
"Look, over there!"
We found it, the castle! We got to climb the stairs to the top. The castle was very interesting and at the top we were able to see all the maze below.We took the train ride around the farm, the children slid down the BIG slide. We had a good time here and hopefully we will be able to visit this farm next year too!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Over The Mountains!

Our daughter A.Joy,her four children and myself drove the 5 to 6 hour drive over the mountains and across the mighty Columbia River to visit her brothers, our sons, and their families in a rural town 40 miles northeast of Spokane. When we drive up the long driveway to their home we are always met first by these two energetic guys (above), Shotgun and Ruger. If they are not outside they are constantly looking out the window. Any respectable Jack Russell Terrier has to be on the lookout for cats, birds,cats, stray tennis balls, children, other dogs,cats.. The 4 cousins from this side of the mountains get to play with the cousins from that side of the mountains, and play they do. They have a lot of fun. There is tether ball to play.
Giggles while Auntie Autumn braids all the girls' hair,
They like their braids, but like being able to be together even more, look at those happy faces.
All 6 of our granddaughters pose for me , facing the sunshine ( sorry girls) showing their braids. Now they all look alike! Sure. I just called them the braidy girls.
There was craft- making at night in front of a warm fire after all the children were in their pajamas. (above and below)
Meeting the new pony the granddaughters who live here get to ride frequently. Bella is a very, very sweet and gentle pony and the girls have been taught how to care for and ride her properly. Uncle Daniel and Aunt Breezy will have nothing less when it comes to owning and caring for horses.
Four~ wheeling with Aunt Breezy over the fields, wheeeeeeeee! Aunt Breezy is very careful and takes it easy when she gives rides too. No taking chances or risks with such precious cargo and this also makes it fun for the more timid of the children.
Tomorrow we go to a pumpkin patch and big corn maze!
It is good to be able to come together with loved ones. It is good to remember we are blessed, and it is good to be thankful for this ! "The blessing of the Lord makes one rich and He adds no sorrow with it. Proverbs 10:22 " Oh Lord, You are my God, I will exalt You, I will praise Your name." Isaiah 25:1