Love deeply. Laugh. Cry. Talk to God. Be realistic about the to-do list. Stay in touch. Hug. Dream. Smile. Break Bread often with Family. Spend Time with your Girlfriends. Shop til you Drop! Extend Grace. Be Quick to Forgive and Slow to Anger. Walk. Breathe. Sing. Dance. Read. Eat Chocolate. Savor a Good Glass of Wine. Wiggle your Toes. Sleep well. Life is Good!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Catching up ...

Hey Y'all!

I'm not feeling very productive today following a labor intense weekend.
I have declared today a 'day of rest' because my entire body needs it.

Over the weekend I also ended a short juice fast.  This time I haven't overdone it by diving into "food" head-on.  I learned my lesson following the first fast!  I will continue juicing at least once a day for health.  Last week I came across a great idea, via a Facebook Page I follow called Canning Confessions. I've always found it a chore to remember to drink enough water throughout the day.

I'm not certain where this photo originated or I'd pass along the credit!  :-}

I made a gallon jug of this fruit infused water over the weekend.  I don't remember a single family member popping the top on a cola or drinking much of anything else except this water.  I did the citrus and added raspberries to it.  Awesome.  We had a huge fruit salad (watermelon, blueberries, raspberries and cantaloupe) leftover which I dumped into the jug after the citrus became tired.  That's what I'm drinking this morning!  I have another bag of watermelon in the fridge and a huge pineapple on the counter!  I'm thinking: Hello rosemary and mint!

This morning I hopped over to the Canning Confessions website and found another great idea!  I was wondering what to do with an abundance of red onions I brought in last week after their drying time.  Check out her Sweet and Sassy Red Onion Marmalade!  This recipe is sure to transform this bunch of red onions into a delectable treat! 

It was truly a blessing to have my family together Saturday!  It's rare that we hit a day when someone isn't working or out-of-town or just plan exhausted from a work week.  Had a great time in the kitchen, in the pool and in the swings!  And many, many hours of Polly Pockets!

While spending yesterday preparing another rental for arrivals, we were also watching the weather, wondering what Tropical Storm Debby was gonna do.  Lots of  wind and high tides but no rain ... yet!  I'm still not sure the forecasters know!  The surf was beating the rocks along the causeway from the island!

Hope you all had a grand weekend!  It was fun!  It was exhausting!  It was a blessing!  Now, I'm gonna spend a couple of hours with my feet up ... hoping the cleaning fairies arrive a clean the house!  Paying a visit to the orthopedic doc this afternoon.  I'm having issues with my left foot following a weekend of many stairs and an out-of-service elevator ... and a sleepless, tearful night.  It's time for a follow-up!  

Be Blessed!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Slow down!

Breathe.  Just, breathe.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin ... a 'Dandy Dish'!!!!

Man!  Oh, Man! 
Just as soon as I'm off this 7-day juice fast ... 
OK!  I'll have a salad and some broccoli with it too!

Check out the other recipes at the Dandy Dishes website!
Photo from Dandy Dishes . . .

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin
Serves 6

1 medium spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, cut in half and very thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more if you like it spicy
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
½ cup sour cream
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds.  Place in a covered dish with a ¼ inch of water and microwave for 10 -12 minutes.  In a medium sized skillet over medium heat, add the butter, onions, red pepper and thyme and cook until the onions are slightly brown in color.  Salt and pepper to taste.  

Using a fork, scrape the insides of the squash and transfer to a small bowl.  Combine the squash, onions, sour cream and half the cheese together and mix well.  Transfer the mixture to a buttered baking dish and top with remaining cheese.

Place into a 375ยบ for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown on top. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sourdough Banana Nut Bread

What else do ya do with over-ripe black bananas?

I've made many loaves of banana bread over the years, 
but I think this one tops the list!  I went on a search this 
morning for something I could make with my sourdough 
starter and those almost  raunchy bananas on the counter.  
This was it!  I altered the recipe a little ... so you might wanna 
take a look at the original recipe over at mmm is for mommy!  
Hey! It's ok to adapt a recipe!  The original was changed from 
the original original is at The Fresh Loaf and even it came 
from the 1972 Don and Myrtle Holm's Sourdough Cookbook 
(which I just ordered from Amazon)!

Below is how I put the recipe together  ... out of necessity!
I didn't  have unsalted butter, 
or cinnamon chips,
or turbinado sugar.
And!  I like nuts in banana bread!

Sourdough Banana Nut Bread

1/3 cup salted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup mashed banana
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sourdough starter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup pecans or walnuts (I chose ground pecans)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar, for top

In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light,  Add egg and beat.  Add banana, sourdough starter and vanilla and beat well.  Combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and add 1/4 at a time to wet ingredients, stirring together to combine .... reserve last 1/4 and add nuts, coating well before adding to batter.  Mix well.  Pour into greased loaf pan ... or spring form pan .... or cast iron skillet ... or muffin tins!  However you roll!  Sprinkle top of batter lightly with brown sugar.

Bake for one hour in preheated 350 degree oven (or until knife blade comes out clean).  All to cool in pan for ten minutes ... then completely cool on a wire rack!

Options:  Dust top with confectioner's sugar!   Add chocolate chips to batter!  Add Peanut Butter Chips to batter!  Top with real whipped cream!!   The possibilities are endless!!

NOTE:  I still had two more raunchy bananas and enough starter for a second batch!  Adding chocolate chips!  And, while refilling the flour canister, I found this:

It has buttermilk in the recipe!!  
Can't wait to try it!  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Heartstrings ...

From a young age, I've often heard the phrase mine is not to question why, mine is but to do or die.

I now know it's a line from a long-ago poem by Alfred  Lord Tennyson (poet laureate), entitled The Charge of the Light Brigade.  It's a poem reflecting a brutal moment in the 1854 Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War - the charge of the British Cavalry against Russian forces.  The order to charge involved mis-communication of orders, coupled with dislike between the leader of the cavalry and the overall commander, who were also brothers-in-law.  The Light Brigade was virtually annihilated that day.

Ok, that was your history lesson.  Yeah!  I had to look it up!  That phrase came to mind again this morning.  It surfaced after reading a statement relating specifically to judging others by appearance and actions.  It is difficult not to.  Afterall, when you consider the attributes and/or history (ie rap sheet) attached to the latest news story, you do, over time, become more cautious.

When you see someone handing over food stamps with a perfect manicure and "do", talking on a government issued phone, and then loading their groceries into a Cadillac ... you do question the system. When you know someone who is capable of working, yet won't look for a job because their unemployment check is more or equal to the amount of the last paycheck they received on the job ... you wonder.

When you see a homeless person sleeping on a sheet of cardboard on the sidewalk and it's obvious they need help but have only the soup kitchen and shelter to fall back on ... you wonder.  When you see the couple standing on the corner of a busy intersection for the third day in a row ... you wonder.

When you're volunteering after a local disaster and you learn a particular group has been donation hopping around town picking up from the local food bank, the Red Cross relief stations, the Salvation Army and several churches all in one day ... you wonder.  You do.  I did.

Unfortunately, quite often all those scenarios get lumped into one without regard for the real need.  There are many who need temporary or long-term help.  And, unfortunately there are many that have a strong inbred sense of entitlement who have made a fine art of abusing a system with very little checks and balances.

We wish we had the power to pull back the curtain and see what's really going on before we reach out a helping hand.  We can't.  This brings me back full circle to the phrase.  Mine is not to question why, mine is but to do or die.  Die?  Surely, we won't die. (I've read that one somewhere!).  There are more ways to die, than physical death.  When your heart becomes stone cold.  When your thoughts or words become a blanket judgment over everyone in the system, or doesn't qualify or simply fell thru the cracks.  When you just don't want to hear anymore about it.  When you stop listening to that still small voice telling you to lend a hand.  A hardened heart is a miserable heart.   

I'm no Mother Teresa.  I've turned people away.  People I personally know have abused the system ... who have also abused the generosity of our family.  Discernment must come into play at some point.  Discernment vs. judgment.  Helping  vs. enabling.  Motives. Conscience. Faith. Grace.  Heartstrings.

Thanks SNV for the view into your heart and head.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How do you Cook(book)??

I posed a question yesterday on my other Facebook page

What is your fave go-to cookbook?

That was a hard one ... even for me!

The main 'everything cookbook' shelf!  

On the bench in the foyer!  Cookbooks, etc!

Stacked along the wall in the guest room!
Yes!  That is a peek of a double bookcase 
on the left side of the pic!  It's crammed!

Stacked between the recliners in the bedroom!

There are more at our 'home away from home' on the island!
But, the winner would be these two.  
My 'homemade' cookbook and the one made by 
my (years ago) co-workers! They are the first ones 
I pick up when looking for old favorite recipes!
My 'homemade' one was created with favorite magazine rips, 
recipe cards from family and friends and lots of write-ins! 
I saved the last dozen pages for indexing.  
Yes!  I numbered the pages ... over 600 of them!  
And!  I indexed them!  
I have to remember to add to the index when I write new fave 
recipes inside!  Otherwise they would never be seen again! 
It's a huge spiral binder with blank pages and a blank canvas cover!
I always know that fave recipes can be found in these two books.

Except for my Tomato Pie recipe.  
I've searched all over for it this morning.  
Ugh. I need some serious organizing!  Seriously!

I've always said I would paint or collage the 
front of that binder one day!
One day, obviously, hasn't arrived!  
Love those heavy duty spiral binders!!!
Hint!  Hint!  Birthday is coming up!   : )

Monday, June 11, 2012

Roma Glory!

Another round with the tomatoes!

 35#s of Romas
Dropped half of them into boiling water, then ice water.
Removed the skins . . .

 Put them on the dehydrator overnight.

 . . . and then into the Vitamix!

 Pulverized into powder!

What do ya do with Tomato Powder?

substitute for tomato paste!
make ketchup (without additives)!
Add to homemade salad dressings and dips!
Add to soups/stews for x-tra tomato flavor!
 . . . and many more ideas!

This is what happened to the other half of the box of tomatoes!
Sliced and dehydrated!  Yum!   Rehydrate and use as you would tomatoes!
What wouldn't fit in the jar .... well, tomato candy!  Yum!

So far, between the Romas from the farmers market and
the baskets full of tomatoes from our garden, we have canned:

whole tomatoes
crushed tomatoes
spaghetti sauce
tomato basil sauce (ie pizza sauce)
tomato jam
dehydrated tomatoes
tomato powder
roasted tomatoes

We've made:

margarita pizzas
tomato sandwiches
tomato pie

Farmers Market is tomorrow!
I wonder if I'll be able to resist bringing 
home more tomatoes!!

I will definitely have my radar out for
watermelons and eggs!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Colors of the Garden . . .

Good Morning!  
It's Wednesday!
It's Canning Day!

I went by the farmers' market in the church parking lot yesterday afternoon!  Oh my!  I came home with the two boxes of  Heirloom Romas (below), two dozen eggs, gorgeous lettuce, yard long beans, cow horn peppers, eggplant and a whole bunch more heirloom tomatoes, a cantaloupe and some Blueberry Cobbler Bread!  

Add to that:  cucumbers, another cantaloupe, a few tomatoes and a couple of bell peppers from a friend, and zucchini and cabbage (not pictured, because it showed up later in the evening).  My daughter sent the bowl blueberries for me to can for her.  I measured them up and pulled three pints of blueberries in lite syrup from the pantry in return!  The ones she sent are going with others into the crockpot to create Blueberry Butter!  The two baskets of miscellaneous tomatoes came from my garden the last two days.  Those baskets full will make a new batch of Tomato Jam!  The two pineapples came home following my Monday morning trip to Sam's Club, and will likely become another Jam (w/5 spice powder).

As for everything else, I'm thinking the majority of those two boxes of Romas will be canned simply.  Peel, core and cover with hot water, a touch of salt and pressure canned.  I love versatile end products. There is so much I can use those for.  I'm always going to the pantry for a can of tomatoes!  Some of them have a fighting chance at becoming something more spectacular.  There will also be some set aside to combine with the eggplant and bell pepper for Caponata!  Note:  The skins will be saved, dehydrated and ground into powder for seasoning purposes!  I love it when you can use virtually the entire product!!!  

Those two plump cantaloupes will be made into Cantaloupe Jam!  The recipe sounds dreamsicle-ish!  

As for the peppers, the cowhorns will go into jars with hot vinegar for future pepper sauce.  The jalapenos will receive a similar treatment ... to be used later with nachos, etc.!   The banana peppers ... ditto!  

I'm still not certain what I'll do with the yard long beans.  Maybe I'll just can them in the pint-and-a-half jars with a clove of garlic. Or, better yet, I will likely dehydrate them and use them however I want later!

The lettuce will go with a salad, along with the cucumbers and those yummy, candy-like heirloom grape tomatoes in the center of the top photo.  OMG!  I will be purchasing more of those next week!

I also have a large bag of garlic cloves in the fridge.  Time to make another batch of roasted garlic!  

Anyway, that's the Plan!  We'll see how it pans out!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What do to with Leftover Biscuits . . .


6-8 leftover biscuits, crumbled into a 9x13 baking dish

Combine the following and pour over biscuits:
2c milk
2 c sugar
1 stick butter, melted
3-4 eggs, well beaten
2 t vanilla

Allow bread to soak up liquid for at least 10 minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min to one hour.
Serve hot or cold.  Serve as is or with a sauce.  

I love a simple caramel sauce drizzled over the top 
(homemade or the squeeze bottle).

For a grown-up sauce, try the Whiskey Sauce recipe below! 

Whiskey Sauce (3 c)

2 sticks butter, melted
2 c sugar
1 c heavy cream
4 T whiskey (hiccup!)
1 t vanilla

Combine butter, sugar and cream in saucepan over low heat til sugar melts.
Then bring to boil over medium heat.
Simmer 5 minutes.  Add vanilla.  Cool.  Add whiskey.
Drizzle over warm bread pudding! 


This is a no-fail, versatile bread pudding!  It is delicious as is but lends itself to variations limited only by your imagination!  I prepared it last night and added a jar of apple pie filling I canned last fall and served it with caramel sauce.  Just remember to make allowances for any extra liquids by lessening the milk amount accordingly.  In the past I've added peaches and blueberries!  I've added raisins, pecans and cinnamon!  I've added chocolate chips!  I toss leftover biscuits into a freezer bag so when I want to make this bread pudding I always have plenty.  I've also used a loaf of home made sourdough and even {shhhhh} white sandwich bread!  If I don't have enough biscuits I'll mix  in other breads I have on hand.  You get the idea!!

Oh!  Did I mention this is an award winning recipe as written below (without the Whiskey Sauce)?  Yep!  My niece, Erin, entered the recipe in a school bake off.  The original recipe is made with Grandaddy Earl's famous biscuits, hence the name.  I wish I had that recipe!!  I remember bellying up to the table a couple of mornings to Grandaddy Earl's biscuits!  They were true 'cat head' biscuits!  {sigh}

Later this week I'll share another family fave!
Chocolate Bread Pudding w/Caramel Sauce

Sunday, June 3, 2012

How's that Garden coming along?!!

There's a bounty of tomatoes coming from the garden!
Eating lots of tomato sandwiches, salads and Margarita Pizza!
I also see a Tomato Pie and some other goodies in my future!
I tried an awesome recipe last week!
It's a keeper!!

Tomato Jam
(a Food In Jars recipe)

5 pounds tomatoes, cored and chopped (Do Not Peel)
3.5 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons grated, peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a large non-reactive pot.  
Bring to boil over high heat and reduce to low.
Simmer, stirring regularly, until it reduces to a sticky, 
jammy mess.  This will take 1.5 to 2 hours.

Prepare jars and lids for canning.  Ladle jam into 
prepared jars.  Wipe rims, apply lids and rings.
Process in boiling water bath for twenty minutes.

I this recipe!!!
I found it in a brand new canning cookbook!
I love that you don't peel the tomatoes!!
I love that there is not checking temperature!
I love that there is no pectin!
I love that there is relatively little sugar!
I love that it tastes amazingly like
Harry 'n David's pepper onion relish!
Yes, It does!  
I opened a jar over the weekend and started
eating it right outta the jar, then broke out the chips, 
then broke out the cream cheese! OMG!
This week, I'll be making it again ...
in larger containers!  Those 4oz jars are a tease!

Visit the Food in Jars site and check out 
their Facebook Page too!
You won't be disappointed!!!
You know you need this cookbook!!!