Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My Wednesday Hodgepodge

My friend Lisa's blog is one of my favorites.  My husband loves it, too!  So of course, when she answered the Wednesday Hodgepodge questions from another blogger, I thought, "I have to do a hodgepodge post!"

These questions are fun.  I liked reading Lisa's answers.  I doubt mine will be as entertaining, but here goes:

1.  What's one way you are like your siblings?  Oh my.  I'm not much like any of my siblings as far as I can tell.  I'm the youngest of six.  My oldest brother was 20 and married when I was born.  We've lost two brothers already, the one who was closest to me in age (and I am now older than he ever got to be). The brother who was the middle child until I came along died a few years ago - and today is his birthday, I just realized!  So let's see.  The others are politically pretty conservative and I am definitely politically liberal.  They tend to live quite a bit "higher on the hog" than I do.  (None of them married a starving church musician!)  I think the only possible similarity is that we all love to eat and love good food, which is a good enough excuse to hang out together, which we do too infrequently.

2.  What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of yourself at age 18?  Naive!  I had no clue about the real world.  I lived in a protective shell and had absolutely no experience with boys, the world, other people.  Good thing I stayed home for my first year of college.  I attended the college I now work at!  I certainly never thought that would happen.  I went away to school after that year.  That's where the growing up began!

3.  Sculptor, dancer, actor, painter.  If you could excel in one of these arts, which would you choose and why? Painter, definitely.  I've wanted to be a painter as long as I can remember.  My father's cousin or aunt (can't remember which she was), Rose Kirkwood, was a painter and we had one of her landscapes over our sofa and I wanted so badly to be able to paint like she did.  The only problem was that I had/have zero talent or ability.  My mother told me that everyone had some kind of talent, I just had to find out what mine was.  Later on, she told me that she thought my talents were sewing and cooking.  I thought, "Man, could I possibly have talents that were any more boring?"  Now I love both of those "hobbies" and I'm so glad to be a quilter, baker and cook.  Also, painting is a pretty solitary experience, and my introversion plays into that well.  I'd love to be a portrait artist.

4.  What's a scent that takes you back in time and where does it take you?  I talked about this in a previous post - the smell of a flower shop takes my back to the days surrounding my father's funeral when I was nine.  On a happier note, there's a sort of sandy smell that takes me to my grandmother's house.  You don't really think of sand having a smell, but the sandy soil her house was built on did have a very identifiable smell.  And speaking of my grandmother, the scent of stock (the flower called stock) always makes me think of her - she grew stock in her flowerbeds.

5.  November is for peanut butter lovers.  (National peanut butter lovers' month).  Are you a lover or a hater?  What's your favorite dish/recipe that calls for peanut butter?  I'm a total peanut butter lover.  My favorite ice cream is Baskin-Robbins' peanut butter and chocolate, but my favorite peanut butter recipe is peanut butter cookies from a 1936 cookbook I have.  So good.  I've had some really good peanut butter pies, too.  You know the recipe for Oreo truffles?  Where you grind up the oreos, mix them with cream cheese, roll into balls and dip them in melted chocolate?  I want to try that with Nutter Butter cookies, and maybe dip them in white chocolate.

6.  What do people thank you personally for most often?  Food!  Just noticed how often that answer has come up in this post!  The second thing that comes to mind is a strange one.  I have a crazily accurate and vast memory!  I'm known as the go-to person for instantly delivering someone's last name, song lyrics, stars of tv shows, names of movies, etc,  It's sort of a combined blessing and curse.

7.  What event this year are you most thankful for?  The truly most incredible event of the year was attending the Super Bowl in New Orleans - for free!  I won a trip for four (the three of us and our best friend) to go to the Super Bowl and spend 5 days in New Orleans.  I'm not even a big football fan, but it was so. much. fun.  It's something you think you'll never get to do, but we did!  Our seats were great and we even got to go out on the field at the end of the game for the confetti drop.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.  I wish there were more hours in the day to do all the things I need/want to do - work, sew, blog, do genealogy, keep house (I'm also so thankful for Juliet and Sylvester, who clean my house top to bottom every other week), do Bible study, volunteer.  I just need to win the Lottery and retire!

Other random thought:  This blog post is so rambly!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Date Nut Chip Cake

It's my birthday in a few days.  It's not a "landmark" birthday, or anything like that, but I'm getting to the point where birthdays are pretty unwelcomed.  Unless you think about the alternative.

This was one of my favorite birthday cakes as a child.  Typically I would ask for Date Nut Chip Cake or Angel Food Cake with Devil's Food Icing!  I guess I thought I was being funny, but it really is a delicious combination!

Date Nut Chip Cake has no icing, and it doesn't need any.  I guess some would consider it more of a coffee cake.  It's really good.

My first birthday after Dave and I got married I asked him to make this cake for me for my birthday.  I really thought it would be so easy for him since he didn't have to frost it.  My birthday was on a Friday that year, Dave's day off.  He dutifully and lovingly made the cake while I was at work.  Dave is no baker.  I found out later that during the course of baking the cake he made something like 5 or 6 trips to our next door neighbor's house (a sweet retired lady) to ask advice and have the recipe "de-mystified."  Apparently, I must have called my mom at some point and asked her to read me the recipe (I did that a lot in college) and I only jotted down the bare minimum of information - measurements and what to combine.  I've fleshed it out a little since then!

I'm not sure where my mom got this recipe.  A magazine, probably.  I've inherited her awful habit of not being able to resist leaving the grocery store without at least one magazine.

Here's the recipe.  It would be delicious after the yummy sounding chicken pot pie that Lisa has posted a recipe for.

Date Nut Chip Cake

1 cup dates, chopped fine
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda

Combine these and let cool.

Beat together:

1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cocoa
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine with the date mixture and pour into a greased and floured 13x9x2 pan.  Sprinkle another 1/4 cup (or so) of the chocolate chips on top of the batter and  bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until done.

Maybe someone will consider this a hint and bake this cake on Wednesday.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sunday afternoon fun

Took a short break from my latest restoration quilt (which is really giving me fits) to make this little bitty Halloween banner.  It's about 6 inches by maybe 14 inches.  I'm on a clean out and clear out kick and I was going through one of my couple of, several, numerous Rubbermaid tubs of fabric and found this Halloween print of the costumed teddy bears.  Have absolutely NO remembrance of purchasing it, but apparently I even made something out of it, because it had big chunks cut out of it.  I must have made something for Grace when she was little.

Anyway, I was going to cut it into strips for the strip bins, but these little guys were too cute to slice in pieces (although, since we're talking about Halloween, it would be somewhat appropriate!).  Threw some other Halloween prints (that I do remember purchasing) in the mix and out came this little banner.  Or table runner for a teeny, tiny little table.

Can't decide where to display it.  Might take it to work and decorate my office with it.  But then I might stare at it all day while wishing I was home making more.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Savory Saturday: Greek Bread

Ok, this isn't exactly what I was going for when I decided to change the look of my blog, but I'm going to have to live with it, I guess.  All I wanted to do was change the background, not rearrange everything!

Lisa posted a most-delicious sounding recipe on her blog today - Tomato Relish.  Be sure to check it out.  I have decided to share a recipe from the book, Easy Weeknight Favorites which I bought at a Southern Living at Home party years ago.  It really is one of our favorites.  In fact, if Dave isn't going to be home for dinner, sometimes Grace and I make this for our entire dinner!  It's also great for parties.

Greek Bread

1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Greek seasoning (like Cavender's).
1 (16-oz) loaf unsliced French bread
1 (4-oz) package tomato-basil feta cheese
1 (2.5 oz) can sliced ripe olives, drained
1/2 cup drained, chopped pepperoncini peppers

Combine cream cheese, mayonnaise Greek seasoning and feta cheese, stirring until smooth.  Slice bread loaf in half lengthwise.  Spread cream cheese mixture on cut sides of bread Sprinkle olives and peppers over cream cheese mixture.  Place bread on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

There are some other really good recipes in this cookbook.  There's one for warm potato and sausage salad which is delicious, especially for garlic lovers.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Are these cookies sumptuous, savory or satisfying?

My friend Lisa is starting a new "thing" on her blog.  She is going to post recipes and is asking her readers to jump in with a recipe of their own and link to hers.  Recipe lover that I am, I just knew I had to join in as soon as I read her post.

I've been intending to post some recipes, myself.  I want to post some of my mom's recipes as well as my own.  Mom was a great cook and loved to cook.  Her repertoire was based in comfort food, simple family-style favorites. 

She baked as well as she cooked savory food.  My first recipe of Mom's is one her grandchildren loved and looked for every time they came over - Pastel Cookies.  Although we called them Jell-O cookies, because Jell-O is the main ingredient.  Sounds crazy, maybe, and lots of folks look down their nose at Jell-O, but I grew up in the 60's, when Jell-O was a big treat!

I seem to remember that she copied this recipe from a magazine ad.  They really are delicious sugar cookies with a tangy, fruity flavor.  I made some to take to work last year and my co-workers loved them, especially my boss.

Pastel Cookies

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1 package (3 oz.) Jello-O gelatin, any flavor (raspberry is really good)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

 Mix flour with baking powder.  Cream butter, gradually add sugar and gelatin, beating well.   Beat in egg and vanilla.  Gradually add flour mixture, mixing well.  Force dough through cookie press onto ungreased cookie sheet (Mom didn't have a cookie press.  She dropped the cookie dough onto the cookie sheet and flattened them with the bottom of a juice glass dipped in more Jell-O.)  Sprinkle with additional gelatin (same flavor).  Bake at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.

So there it is.  They aren't really sumptuous, and they're not savory so they must be satisfying!  Check out Lisa's blog post here for more recipes.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Free Patterns

I found a resource for some really cute, free patterns from Martingale, one of my favorite publishers.  You have to register first  but there are some nice projects from well-known designers to choose from.  I want to do these:

Home for ChristmasFamily Villa Sampler

Of course, I only have a very few (HA!) UFOs to finish before I can start something new.  Same for you, right?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all you dads, grandads, wannabe dads and spiritual dads out there.  I have not had a dad to say "Happy Father's Day" to since I was nine-years-old.  Truthfully, since I was eight, because he died the April I was nine.  I don't remember at all any father's days previous to his death.  I remember all sorts of great things about him and that's good, but it's been such a loss to me to not have parents as an adult.  My mother died when I was 24 - before the end of a bad relationship, before I met Dave, before I became a quilter (which she would have loved), long before Grace, her namesake, came along.  And while I'm now at the age when it would not necessarily be expected for me to have living parents, I still often feel compass-less.

Dad's death came on a slick highway on a rainy day in April.   He was on his way to work.  I remember Mrs. Williams calling me to the door of the classroom and telling me my mom needed me to come home because she had something to tell me.  And there in the hallway was my aunt, whom I adored, fighting back tears and leading me to a waiting car, where we got in the backseat (no clue who was driving).  My 16-year-old older brother was already there, his jaw set against showing emotion, his head bowed a little.  He didn't look at me or anyone else.

The next week was filled with people, food and flowers.  Those are the things that stand out most for me.  The house was filled with family, neighbors, Daddy's work associates and golf buddies - lots of golf buddies.  Our house smelled like Dave's Flowerland, which was the flower shop he often stopped at randomly on his way home from anywhere to buy Mom flowers.  This was in the 1960s, before the use of the phrase "in lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation to..." became widespread.  We ran out of surfaces to put arrangements on.  They were all beautiful, and quite a number of them came from Dave's.

And the food!!!!  It's no wonder I have food issues!  Masses of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, casseroles, hams, more fried chicken and every Jello salad known to humanity, with some new ones invented on the spot.  Didn't know what to say to someone?  Take a bite of pie.  Want to avoid the visitors in the living room?  Go to the kitchen and grab some pound cake.

I miss having parents; I wonder how I would have been a different person through the years.  A little less lonely, I guess, definitely a little more normal-feeling.  I'd have had somewhere to go, always:  home.  I spent a lot of holidays alone or feeling like an "extra" in someone else's house between Mom's death and my marriage. 

I wish now that I could say, "Well, that's all in the past, no need to fret about it now."  But it does affect me, in more ways than I like to admit.  In a little while Grace and I will take Dave to lunch and give him his Father's Day gifts and have a great time.  But part of me will be that 4th grader, wondering what in the world awaited me at home that morning and having no realization that a huge part of my childhood was about to come to an end in a living room of crying people.

Saturday, May 25, 2013