Monday, December 15, 2014

Penguin Prezzies


John Lewis Christmas adverts bring us to tears annually. And by  "us" we mean anyone who has ever seen one.

This year is no exception.





Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Soup Saves Christmas


There's shopping to do, gifts to make and wrap, carols to be sung, cookies to bake, a tree to decorate, plus parties, parades, and concerts to attend. 

And don't forget you'll need time to visit Santa, sew costumes for the Christmas pageant, and come up with thoughtful gifts for teachers, garbage men, mail deliverers, and hostesses. 

Where will you ever find time to make a potluck dish for the Garden Club Christmas Party that will make all the guests ooh and aah, and beg you for your recipe?

Canned soup to the rescue!



CHICKEN FLORENTINE*
Makes 8 servings (more with additional ingredients)
Cooking spray
2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry 
4 cups of cooked and chopped chicken breast 
(Optional additional ingredients - ½ can of quartered artichoke hearts, 
sautéed leeks with the specified wine used to deglaze the pan, 
 a cup of small roasted and frozen summer tomatoes. 
Any of these can be added to the pan or folded into the mix.) 
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup light or fat free sour cream 
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese 
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
 ¼ - ½ cup purchased breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat 8 x 8 inch casserole dish with cooking spray. 
(9 x 13 inch with added ingredients)
To assemble: layer spinach and chicken. 
In medium bowl, whisk together soups, mayonnaise, sour cream, cheddar cheese, lemon juice,
 curry powder, wine and salt and pepper to taste. 
Pour mixture over spinach and chicken. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. 
 Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until bubbly. 



* This is a lightened up version of a classic recipe. To go even lighter, or at least additive-free make a nice white sauce to use as a substitute for the canned soups.  But be advised that without the time saving use of convenience food products you may have to cross something else off  your to-do list. Yes, something's gotta give so don't get your hopes up for making it to Taste of Tilden this year.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Beautiful - Check, Useful - Check


Not since this wonderful find have we seen such an intriguing heart-shaped antique artifact.


Everything about it is charming.


The shape of the bowl with hand etched design reminiscent of  a heart monitor reading.


The stamped handle with twist pattern below.


More, vaguely Scandinavian hand etching on the back, but no maker's mark.


So pretty.

Again we quote the sage William Morris - "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

Both is best.



Monday, November 24, 2014

Blossom Blizzard



Wistful for our preferred blanket of white.


 Seems much farther in the past than just six months ago.

Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Scenic Mountie


Here he is. The cutest little mountie ever, found at an estate sale, liberated from a doll collection display case and put back into service "defending the law" wherever needed. 

In the foothills. 


In the forests.


And in the mountains.


Of this educational book.


Not that he would ever sleep on the job, but should he ever need to play dead - to fool an adversary for example, his baby blue peepers close when he reclines.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Labelize Me


Remember when we messed around with a great website called Jam Labelizer to make labels for our granola last year?



Well this year we actually used it to label jam. Jelly rather.


And since last year the good people at jam Labelizer have added Beer Labelizer.

Which works just as well for another grain product. Wild rice.


Now what else can we make so we can labelize it?

Friday, November 7, 2014

One Button at a Time


Our clever friend Jerisew(s) taught us to make leather wrap bracelets. 


You may have seen a similar jewelry design around.   Robert Redford's Sundance catalog features some by artist Chan Luu. They are lovely. 


But one thing ours have over hers which use a trademark, tasteful, little silver button as a clasp on each and every one 
is a unique, antique button on each and every one. 


We are happy to add this to our list of the many ways to beautify the world, one button at a time.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Girly Meets Boy


  So what happens after the detritus of boys is packed up and shipped off with them or sent to deep storage under the attic eaves? And you have a deadline for creating a guest room suitable for college pals? And you want to do it on a dime?



Apparently long-repressed girlyness and its accouterments come out of the closets and take over.


But never fear, with the removal of a few flowery accents we are still 100% boy friendly around here. Just give us fifteen minutes. 
With just a little more advance notice we can have a full cookie jar on the counter and milk in the frig too.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Catastic


Happy Halloween!


This great image of a harmless, little, black kitty is a detail from how to draw cats found at the Graphics Fairy.



It is bad luck to have a black cat cross your path. However, if you are a mouse the opposite is true.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Never Say Never Jelly


So, thirty years ago a woman who was thrilled to see Mountain Ash trees in our yard gave us a recipe for rowan berry jelly. Long after we had moved from the rental house where those trees grew we came upon this lovely fruit and decided it was time to finally make that jelly.


We went looking for the recipe handwritten by our friend who had fond memories of rowan berry jelly from her native Norway.


We could picture the card in the recipe box, but where was it? Oh yes, we remembered, in a mini-fit of clearing-out we decided that we would NEVER make rowan berry jelly and threw it away. Isn't that how it always goes? And isn't that why we seldom can part with a thing?


Well thank goodness for the giant virtual recipe box that is the internet. Most of the recipes were from the UK where they enjoy this jelly with everything from wild game to scones and can only begin to compare it in taste to grapefruit as it is quite unique. 


In the process of making 16 jars of this beautiful jelly we were never going to make we learned:

Rowan berries can make one ill unless they have been frozen first on the tree, or in the freezer. 

An imperial pint is approximately equal to 1 1/4 US liquid pint.

Paint straining bags make great jelly straining bags. (We already knew this, but wanted you to know it too.)

It is possible to make jelly without purchased pectin if you follow the recipe faithfully and have a little faith in the power of natural pectin. 

Jelly is so very good because it is simply fruity sugar!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Meaning of Friends and Flowers


The last blossoms from the last bouquet from the last farmers' market before the big frost.


Dedicated to our first neighborhood friend who is moving, retiring, having a big birthday, and who has always had a big, no, make that huge enough to nurture an entire community, heart.

The meaning of flowers tells us that dahlia brings the meaningful messages and blessings of enduring grace as well as symbolizing inner strength, creativity, and standing strong in sacred values. 

This describes our dear friend perfectly. 

All best wishes to her and congratulations to her new neighbors. Our loss is their gain.

We may just have to go on a road trip to make sure they are suitably appreciative. In any case that is the excuse we will use when we announce we are heading her way. Not that our bags are packed already or anything.

Love, love, love to you and yours until we meet again.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Soup Season


The rice arrived. Isn't it beautiful?


First, we will try some cooked plain. Perhaps a bit of butter and salt will be added, but we would like to see what "real" wild rice tastes like.

Second, soup will be made. Extensive research conducted in cooperation with the daughter-in-law found that wild rice soup recipes seldom, if ever, call for any seasoning other than a bit of S and P. The rice gives the soup its flavor. 

And actually, a recipe is hardly needed. Cooked rice and a good chicken or vegetable stock are the basics. Add to that any combination of additional ingredients including, but not limited to onion, celery, carrot, potato, cream, and perhaps a bit of sherry if you are feeling fancy, and you have a wonderful pot of steamy wild rice goodness.

Some recipes call for canned soup as a base. And we are not above that occasional shortcut, but we can assure you that this wonderful hand-harvested delicacy will not be desecrated in that fashion.

The promise of really good soup is almost enough to make us wish for winter weather, but not quite. We are perfectly happy to enjoy it in the many mild autumn days we hope are still ahead before the big freeze.



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Gratefully Gathering


It was possibly the most beautiful September day ever.


When we received a gracious invitation to go wild rice harvesting. 


Our capable and very patient host acted as outfitter and guide.


He smoothly steered us through the tall plants as we carefully bent them over the canoe and knocked the long, ripe grains into the boat bottom. 


Some fell into the water to become next year's plants.


Many went into the canoe. As well as into our hair, shoes, and decolletage.


Several hours were spent gliding over the water, rhythmically moving heirloom cedar sticks across gunnels,  bounty gently showering down into a pile at our feet. 


We will be pleased if, after cleaning, our day's harvest provides enough rice for a Thanksgiving potluck offering.


And we feel very fortunate to have experienced an important tradition of the Ojibwe people and Northwoods culture


In good company, in good health, under a beautiful blue sky on clear blue water. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Family Cheese


Our family name translates as "cheese village" so it is no wonder that our fondness for kase is so strong and undeniable. Perhaps that urge is responsible for our gravitation to Wisconsin and why we have not strayed from it for 29 years.

And although we have not been able to suss out how the maternal and paternal grandparents got together perhaps it was the also draw of the cheese. Grandma's family was a family of bakers you see. Not the bakerei kind who make sturdy loaves and curly pretzels. The conditorei type who make the strudels and kuchens.

Here is the family recipe for kasekuchen written out by our cousin, a fourth generation baker who grew up and learned the craft in the same house in which our grandmother was born and raised.


On a visit to his home a few years ago he graciously gave us a lesson and tolerated us photographing each step of the process to turn out a heavenly heritage cheesecake.


The springform pan was greased (with real butter of course).


The previously prepared pastry was rolled out, 


fit into the pan,


trimmed to fit.


Filling ingredients were assembled and weighed.


The Kitchenaid was employed for mixing.


The eggs, quark, pudding, vanilla sugar, milk and cream came together as a satiny smooth batter.


The final step. A generous sprinkle of zimt and then, into the oven it went.


We waited.


In comfortable and colorful surroundings.


In good company.


Still not done, we strolled outdoors to wait some more,


while enjoying flaura we don't typically get to hang out with in our zone.


Back indoors the smells were becoming as alluring as the decor.


The glowing oven magically transformed high quality raw ingredients into a rich and lovely labor of cheesy love.


Ahhh...


The only way to keep from immediately digging into the hot delicacy was to leave the house while it cooled.


We distracted ourselves very well with a visit to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum.


The applied arts wing was a highlight.


Back at our home away from home....time to cut the cake.


Worth the wait?


Ja. Das is richtig!

Wunderbar! Schmeckt gut!