Saturday, August 30, 2008

Please pass the...

Edited to include this in LifeasMom's Mexican Food Recipe Swap.

Today's housewife hosts a recipe swap each weekend and this weekend it's Tex-Mex, one of my favorite types of food. This oughta be fun!

I picked up this recipe from a Rosarita's black bean refrieds can a few years ago. When we eat Mexican in restaurants, I usually order beef rather than chicken because the chicken dishes often disappoint me compared to the beef. This recipe, however, is fantastic with chicken.

As a bonus, I'll include the guacamole recipe I got from a co-worker years ago. I wasn't sure if I really liked guacamole until I had Rachel's. It's easy and always tastes great.

Baked Chimmies

2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
16 ounces salsa, your choice of heat level
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cups cooked chicken breast halves, shredded
16 ounces refried beans
10 flour tortillas

1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in large skillet; cook onion until tender. Stir in salsa, chili powder, cumin and cinnamon. Stir in shredded chicken.
3. Spoon about 1/4 cup of beans across the center of each tortilla. Top with about 1/2 cup of chicken mixture. Fold one end of tortilla up about 1-inch over mixture, fold right and left sides over folded end, overlapping. Roll up. Secure with wooden picks, if necessary. Brush chimmies with remaining oil.
4. Bake 20 minutes until golden brown, turning and basting often. Serve with sour cream and guacamole, if desired.

Rachel's Guacamole

4 ripe avocados
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 lemon (don't cut it yet!)
2 heaping tablespoons sour cream

Mash the avocado, mix in the onion. Roll lemon on counter and squeeze juice from half of it over the mixture. Stir in the sour cream.

(My notes: Grab a tortilla chip and scoop some out. As the chef, you need to try it before serving. Just be sure to walk away before chips and guacamole becomes your dinner, instead of having it to serve with your chimmies.)

Baby shower gift

Kathy is planning to post about the shower she threw for our cousins and their precious miracle baby. It was a great party, with most of the family there. We always have such a nice time when we're together.

As part of our gift to them, I made some burp cloths out of diapers. I bought a dozen, but ended up only making four burp cloths. I wanted to make each one different and kinda ran out of ideas after making four-so I guess I'll make more some other time. They weren't hard to make, but were a little time consuming. Mostly because I've had my sewing machine for a year and haven't used the programming feature enough in that time to remember what to do without trial and error.

I put strips of flannel on three of the four, then squares of the flannel on the fourth one. For the two above, I stitched (meaning I programmed my sewing machine to stitch) the baby's name and initials.

For these two, I used the only boyish design my machine had. I've got hearts, scallops, apples, bunnies, and several flower designs. But for boys, just the trucks. I suppose designs to stitch on boys' clothing are not much in demand. I ought to get some girly flannel and stitch up some pink ones-those flowers, hearts, and scallops would all work for a girl.

I'll probably get around to that about the time I've completely forgotten how to program my machine.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Peach Butter

The last of the peaches are processed. Well, except for the couple that got nasty, rotten spots on them. The chickens will be processing those.

Julianne inventoried my fruit from last year and found I had 26 quarts and 10 pints of peaches left. Adding the seven quarts I canned the other day seemed like enough. Of course, that's because Mom and my best friend have both offered me pears-so I'm planning to serve more pears than peaches this winter. Vanilla pears, in fact, if I can figure out how much vanilla to put in the jars. Wouldn't it have been kind to my future self if I had noted the amount I added last year in my book ?

But I digress. This is about the peaches.

Peach butter.

Nectar in a jar. (Especially if you don't get it thick enough and end up deciding it will make great pancake syrup.)

Yeah, that how my first (double) batch ended up. I know, I know, you aren't supposed to double jelly/jam recipes. Why is that, I wondered? Hmm, perhaps because they don't turn out correctly. So, yesterday and today, I made single batches of peach butter and canned it. You mix peach pulp and sugar, heat it and stir until thickened. And stir. And stir. And stir. It's supposed to take about 30 minutes. They lied.

I ended up with 18 jars of peach butter. Of course, I also have three pint jars, one 8 oz., and nine 12 oz. jars of peach syrup.

At least it was a tasty mistake.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The chicken whisperer

Here is Allison with P'zilla, one of the two chicks we got from the last go-around with the incubator. Smoag, the other one, isn't as friendly so we aren't going to talk about him right now.

Allison and Clarence suspect that both P'zilla and Smoag are roosters. They are Americana (or Americauna, depending on who you ask) chickens...also known as Easter Eggers for the green eggs they lay. Well, the roosters don't lay green eggs. That would be peculiar if they did, wouldn't it?

Allison grabbed P'zilla this morning so we could show how big the chicks have gotten. As she stroked,, seemed to doze.

Sure enough, P'zilla went to sleep.

Here we have one of the new baby chicks. It is a rose-combed brown leghorn. We have had nine hatch from this batch-but no more Americaunas have hatched.

Mama-hen Allison has been working with them to teach them to eat and drink. She thinks they've got it down now.

She is loving every minute of it.
Posted by Picasa

A nice thank you

Our friends (Vickie and family) gave us a very nice thank you card along with this beautiful plant, for helping with the wedding a week or so ago. The pot says it is a Tradewinds hibiscus.

Look at that pink center. Isn't it striking?

They did the same for the other helpers, too. There are hibiscus that are hardy in our zone (5) but yesterday my friend (another helper) called and told me that the Tradewinds variety is the tropical type-so is not hardy here.

I think the hummingbirds will love this flower so we'll keep it outside as long as possible for their enjoyment. Then we'll see if I can keep it alive inside this winter. Wish me luck!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 25, 2008

Strawberry tower-harvest

Are you sick of hearing about the strawberry tower yet?

The everbearing plants we put in half of the tower are starting to get ripe berries. It seems strange to pick strawberries in August, doesn't it?

The harvest yesterday was not huge, to say the least, but Clarence and I were pretty happy anyhow.

Yep, five strawberries. Quite exciting, isn't it? LOL

These didn't seem as sweet as the June berries usually are. But, hey, fresh picked strawberries in August-pretty cool!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
We also are watching to see how many chicks hatch in this round of incubating eggs. Allison was downstairs checking on them as soon as she was done with her morning routine today. So far, there are five brown leghorns but no Americanas (green egg chickens...and what the first two chicks we hatched earlier this spring are).

Clarence didn't expect them to start hatching until today but the first one hatched yesterday morning. Allison is delighted and back in full mother hen mode. She is planning to teach them to eat and drink today.

I'll try to get some pictures later of the new babies and their adoptive "mama".
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Plant identification help

While at Unc's yesterday, I snapped some pictures of these flowers. Unc graciously let us dig some up last year, but they were put aside and forgotten, so they died. This is surprising, actually, because if you look closely at these pictures, you can see some brown dead stuff in the background. That is Unc's attempt to kill these beautiful flowers with Round-up. The weeds died but the flowers continue to thrive. You'd think they could languish in plastic bags, forgotten, for a couple years and still survive, wouldn't you?

Unc wants to pour concrete over them. He says if they survive that, he'll let 'em live. LOL

Clarence and Julianne think they look like a type of hollyhock. I guess I can see that-but I'm puzzled as to why our hollyhocks always seem to lose their leaves to bugs and these don't seem to have a bug hole anywhere. I wonder...could it be the Round-up?

Remind me not to drink the well water at Unc's, ok?

So, anybody know if these are, indeed, hollyhocks? They're only 3-4 feet tall. Is there a shorter, bug-resistant variety?

Or is that the "Round-up effect"?
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Family Non-Reunion

Today was our family non-reunion. It is called a "non" reunion because certain unnamed members of my family (my dear brother, Earl) harbor strong negative feelings toward "reunions" and refuse to attend such events.

Clarence cooked our grilled pizzas.

We had a very special new member of the family with us for the first time. Little Nicholas was the star of the day. Isn't he a beautiful baby?

Uncle hosts the, NON-reunion...each year. He's got some housekeeping ideas that we tease him about...and he's also got this very unique approach to bathroom accessorizing. At first, he just clamped the tissue holder to the vanity. In a flash of absolute brilliance, he added the hand towel to the arrangement.

Did you already guess that he's single?
Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sunshine in a jar

I managed to do one canner-full of peaches today. I don't get them very pretty, like you'd see at a county fair, but they sure are yummier than any canned peaches I've ever bought. I was pretty pleased to think that these peaches cost about half of the best sale price I usually get at the grocery store for fresh peaches. That doesn't seem too bad to me. They taste delicious, too-a nice bonus, for sure.

I still need to decide if I'll try to get more peaches so I can make some preserves and/or peach butter. I never know how many to get because I don't want them to go bad if I'm busy, yet I want to put up as much as possible. Decisions, decisions.

Why is it that home canned peaches are so superior to purchased ones?
Is it the fact that you can them at the peak of ripeness vs. the manufacturers perhaps process them when still a little green?
Is it the jars vs. the tin cans?
I don't know the reason, but I do know they are worth the work to our family.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Recipe Swap

Kama from Today's Housewife left a comment on this post to let me know that they are hosting a swap of chicken recipes. I originally posted this recipe Thursday for LifeasMom's swap, but it works for a chicken recipe exchange, too.

LifeasMom is hosting a recipe swap today of dishes that you share with others-what you make when you need to deliver a meal to friends.

I always struggle with what to make in those situations so I'm happy to share a recipe, but I'm thrilled at the idea of checking out what everyone else makes. New ideas are always a good thing!

I shy away from pasta dishes when I cook for another family. Mostly, because I figure they'll get lots of pasta dishes. I must say, though, that when my mom was ill and I spent so much time gone from home to help her, a family at church brought us some lasagna. It was divine-far better than what I normally make. We appreciated that lasagna so much and it was a huge pan that fed us for several meals. What a blessing it was. Still, I tend to make non-pasta dishes and this one is no exception.

This dish is easy to prepare ahead of time and deliver either fully cooked or oven-ready. I usually make two pans-one for delivery, one for my family. It's a slight adaptation of an old DelMonte recipe my mom used to make.

Hawaiian Chicken

1 cup onion -- chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
14 ounces ketchup
2 cups pineapple juice
15 ounces crushed pineapple in juice (I usually use the pineapple rather than the juice-I like the chunkiness of it in the sauce.)
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 whole fryer chickens -- cut up (3 lb. each) ( I use boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces.)

Saute onion in butter or margarine; stir in flour. Add ketchup, pineapple juice or crushed pineapple, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, pepper and cloves. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.

Place chicken in two 3-quart casseroles; pour half of sauce into each casserole. Bake at 350 F., 1-1 1/2 hours or until done.

I often make rice pilaf to take along, salad, and some sort of dessert. Homemade bread, too, if I've been baking.

I'm anxious to see what everyone else contributes to the swap.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

To-do list

I've been able to get a couple things off my list. Monday, I got the girls registered for swim class and I picked up my assignment for the funeral dinner.

Yesterday, I ordered the remaining curriculum I need for the girls, I made it back for the funeral (barely), and I took care of a job at church. While at the church, my dear fil called me to tell me that the peaches came in at the Mennonite store near their house and ask how many I wanted them to pick up for me. My in-laws are so sweet-they do this for me every year. And every year I'm so thankful because I'd always be too busy to make it over there before the peaches were gone.

So now I added a bushel of peaches to my to-do list. I'm rather thankful that they need to sit and ripen for a couple days, though. We'll eat some of them fresh (Yum!) and can the rest for this winter.

They're like sunshine in a jar in the middle of winter, don't you think?
Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 18, 2008

How our garden grows

Here are a couple pictures of the strawberry tower as it has filled in with strawberry plants. When Clarence was building it, he installed an automatic watering system which we hooked to a timer. The tower gets 30 minutes of water a day and the tubing (which you may or may not be able to see in the second picture) has emitters built into it so the water is fairly evenly distributed to the plants right at the soil.

Half of the plants we bought were the ever-bearing type so we are seeing an occasional strawberry even now. Generally, the chipmunks get to them before we do.

Julianne's basil is growing really well, too. I pinched a few flowers off it when I was taking pictures this morning. Time to make some pesto! Yum! The bell peppers are doing well, too. Can you see that one in the background?

These are some flowers Julianne started from seed this spring. They are impatiens but don't look like any impatiens I've ever seen. The variety name is "Tom Thumb" and although I think they have pretty flowers up close, I don't really like how much green you see when you stand back from them. I picture a lot more color when I think "impatiens".

We have VBS every night this week and I've been drafted to be the kitchen lady so it will be a busy week for us. I also need to get the girls signed up for swim classes this fall, get some things for a funeral dinner, order some more curriculum, and the list goes on. Hopefully, I'll find some time to get some pesto in the freezer around all the other errands that need to be done.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The wedding

Today was a perfect day for a wedding-and the wedding was perfectly beautiful.

Kevin and Hannah had one of the nicest wedding ceremonies I've been to in...well, maybe ever. Kevin surprised her at one point by leading her over to sit down toward the side of the platform, picking up his guitar, and singing a lovely song to her (which I'm sure he wrote).

I didn't get much in the way of pictures from the back row where we sat so we could slip out quickly-I only have pictures of food!
Here are the cakes my friend Vickie made.
Here are the fruit kebobs. All those scratches on our arms and hands picking blackberries-and you'll notice there are very few blackberries on the kebobs. They just fell apart too easily. We ended up putting them on the table in a bowl. They all disappeared. Did you notice the cute melon cut into shapes? We had hearts, bells, butterflies, tulips, daisies and a leaf shape. That was tough to do-I'm thankful I wasn't helping cut them out yesterday.

Our family and another family of four were the kitchen crew. We had fun and it went pretty smoothly. We are all going to sleep well tonight!
Posted by Picasa

Wedding preparations

Our friend Vickie is doing all the food, plus the cake, for her son's wedding today. We spent about 10 hours yesterday helping with the prep work. Clarence stopped by on his way home from work and jumped right in, too. It was nice to have him join us.

We weren't the only helpers; a couple of our other friends were there, too, so it made a fun, though tiring, day for all. I, of course, left my camera's memory card stuck in the computer at home so I only took a couple pictures all day.

Here are the girls working on the fruit kebobs. There's more work to do this morning so we are getting ready and heading down there soon.

It looks to be a beautiful day for a wedding!
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Blackberry picking

Don't they look beautiful?
My girls absolutely love to pick berries. Pretty much any kind of berries. They picked some of these blackberries last week and thought there'd be lots more this week-so we offered to pick some for our friend whose son is getting married this weekend. The groom's sister and dad joined us to make the work go faster. Julianne and Allison enjoyed having their friend along!

These grow wild, in a secret location (don't I sound like a morel mushroom hunter?), and are so sweet.
We have snagged clothes and scratched arms, but are glad to help Vickie a little as she prepares for the wedding.

Tomorrow the girls and I will join her in actual food preparation. These berries are going on fruit kebobs. Doesn't that sound fun? And yummy?
Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 11, 2008

Recent garage sale finds

In the past, I've never spent too much time on garage sales. I never seemed to find anything good so I felt it was a waste of time.

Last Friday, coming home from town, I saw a neon green sign. Not expecting much-it was Friday, after all-I followed the signs, since it was on my way home anyhow. My first impression was that there didn't seem to be a whole lot of stuff for sale but we got out anyway. As I started looking around it became obvious that this was a family of homeschoolers...and there, standing on the corner of a table was this:
The very curriculum I was planning to order! I looked it over-beautiful, unused condition. I asked how much it was as it wasn't marked. The lady explained that it contained two modules (which I know run $100 each), and that they had stopped using it before really getting into the second module. So, she explained, she'd have to have $35 for it, since the second module was unused. I even had $40 in my wallet-an unusual occurrence. I felt so blessed! I had been feeling bad about procrastinating ordering the curriculum I need for this fall and God led me to a better deal than I could've gotten anywhere else.
While on the topic of garage sales...three of these cups and saucers came from a sale while Allison was at camp. Julianne asked if we could go to garage sales as her special treat while Allison was gone. We went to one that was advertised as having scrapbooking supplies and found the whole subdivision was having sales that day. While she checked out the scrapbooking sale (it was a dud), I was next door getting these tea cups. (The stand that is holding them was a birthday gift from dsil Kathy. I love it!)

I might be a garage sale convert yet!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Attention Vintage linen groupies!

I must admit that tho I love vintage things, I simply don't own very many. Particularly not vintage linens. But the girls spent a couple nights with Grandpa and Grandma this week-so Julianne now does own some great vintage linens.

My very dear mother-in-law taught and encouraged Julianne and Allison to crochet and tat. (I can't do either.) Julianne started crocheting doilies last summer (I think) and has been cranking them out surprisingly quickly ever since. She does beautiful work.

Grandma thought Julianne might enjoy having some handwork done by her mother, who happens to have been born 100 years before Julianne. I am just a little envious-but not too envious because I've been the grateful recipient of some wonderful stuff from my mil in the past.
Julianne brought home three boxes packed with treasures. Grandma thinks these were mostly made before her mother got married-that once she was married and the children started arriving, there simply wouldn't have been time to do this.
I love the little details in these pieces. The tatted edgings, the darling flowers on the piece below...

It's all gorgeous. Some pieces are showing their age but are still so pretty. Julianne was so thrilled that Grandma gave these to her-and I think Grandma was equally tickled that Julianne loved them all so much.
Posted by Picasa