Sunday, December 6, 2015

A little Thanksgiving sharing

That is my idea of a perfect plate of Thanksgiving food. Stuffing, turkey, turnip, olives, cranberry relish, mashed potatoes, and squash. Cover it all with gravy. Eat.

Lip smacking delicious.

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There's a plate of pumpkin bread in the background. The Man's momma always made this for holidays and I am more than delighted to carry on the tradition.

Moist and packed with pumpkin flavor. I could eat a whole loaf in one sitting if I sat there with it all sliced up like that. Everyone knows that pre-sliced quick bread has half the calories as a loaf that's uncut.

K and I were baking Thanksgiving eve, preparing for the big meal the following day. I made a double batch of pumpkin bread this year so I would have extra loaves for the freezer. It's always nice to have extras in the freezer, don't you think? I glanced out the kitchen window and saw that my neighbors were home so I quickly wrapped up a loaf of warm bread and ran it over to them. It's nice to share, too.

Nothing says Thanksgiving to me like Nana's stuffing and Mom's pumpkin bread.

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As I'm writing this post, I'm baking my breakfast for tomorrow - Heavenly Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal. J gave me a cookbook last Christmas from the food blogger over at Oh She Glows. I have loved every single recipe that I've made out of that cookbook. Super healthy and full of flavor, the recipes make me want to cook again.

The house is filled with the most delicious smells right now and I can't wait for breakfast. I'll let you know how it tasted.




Friday, December 4, 2015

Mum Imposters

The last remnants of autumn.

Most things are turning blech-y brown, getting ready for the winter that's coming. We have a few spots of yellow in the yard, brightening things up.

And Christmas lights. Those help brighten things up too.
This flower is growing on a vine, weaving itself up into a lilac tree. I was looking out the upstairs bathroom window one morning and could see specks of yellow in the lilac. I had no idea what they were until I went out to investigate. I took my camera in case it turned out to be something extraordinary. It looks like some kind of mum to me but I didn't know they grow on vines. 

Any ideas what kind of flowers these are?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Peanut Butter Cookies, or the best thing you've ever eaten

When I was in high school, my mom worked in the cafeteria. It was great. If my sister or I needed money during the day, Mom was right there. We never had to worry about lunch money - she paid for our lunches when we went through the line. 

She sometimes got to bring home leftover hamburgers. And buttered bagels. Those were so delicious. The bagels were buttered and then put into foil bags and placed under heating elements. The butter would melt into the bagel and the edges would get hard and crunchy. 

So buttery. So delicious. So not good for you.

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The other thing Mom came home with was the recipe for peanut butter cookies.

Oh. The peanut butter cookies. We used to buy lunches based on these cookies. They came in wax bags - two cookies in each bag. We ate them as slowly as we could to make them last longer. 

So soft. So crumbly. They literally melted in your mouth. 

I try to make these cookies whenever I get together with high school friends. The smiles on  their faces when they take that first bite. The soft "hmmmmms" as they hum while they eat. These cookies are the best. 

Thirty-five years later and they are just as good as when we were seventeen.

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Peanut Butter Cookies (makes about two cookie tins full)

4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup shortening
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla 
1/3 cup boiling hot water

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar. Add the peanut butter and cream together. Add the vanilla and cream together.

Add the flour to the creamed mixture a little at a time, alternating flour and some boiling hot water. I try to do it in three steps - flour, water, flour, water, flour, water. When completely mixed together, roll into 1 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Press with back of fork. Bake at 350 for 10-14 minutes.



Monday, October 26, 2015

Fancy Tacos

A few more fall scenes before all the leaves are gone. I've been watching them flutter to the ground for the past week, slowly and steadily.

We haven't had any windy, gusty rainy days so the leaves are hanging on. 

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That might be a good metaphor for life. When the storm is swirling around you, let go. Don't try to hang on to something that has to change.

Easier said than done, I think.
Because COLOR.

Just glorious.
Spent Sunday afternoon with Sissy and the girls. They came over to watch football with us. And eat food.

Lots and lots of food.

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I had a brainstorm trying to find something to have for dinner. Sunday nights are pretty casual at our house, as in peanut-butter-sandwich casual. Since we were having guests I wanted something a step up from peanut butter but it had to fit into the I-hate-to-cook life I've got going. 

I came up with tacos. But not your average, everyday run-of-the-mill tacos.

Nope. I call these fancy tacos.

I bought the super big burrito shells in the dairy case for the wrap part. I made taco filling with ground turkey and an envelope of taco seasoning. I had several other fillings to choose from: shredded cheddar cheese, queso blanco, chopped tomatoes, chopped green chilies, sour cream, and salsa. 

Everyone filled their burrito shell and I did some fancy wrapping to contain it all. We put them into the panini maker and pressed them for four minutes.

Wow. They were tasty. Everyone agreed that these would be made again, maybe adding guacamole or refried beans to the filling. 

Try them and let me know what you think.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Pumpkins and Gourds and Squashes, Oh My!

A few more shots from our corn maze adventure. Plump, round, orange pumpkin looked like it was being shunned by the curvy green gourds behind it.
I don't remember all these different colored things when I was a kid. 

Pumpkins were orange. And we only got one the night before Halloween to carve out and put a candle in to light it.

We didn't decorate with all these fancy-schmancy pumpkins and gourds and squashes. 

Does anyone eat these things? Or are they only for decorating?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Double Weekends

Ever have one of those weekends when you need a weekend after the weekend just to get some rest?

That's how this one was. The Man and I took my dad to see Tom Hanks in "Bridge of Spies" on Friday night. Excellent movie. Engrossing. Highly recommend.

K and I got up at o'dark thirty on Saturday morning to head to Beantown with both of my sissies and all the nieces/cousins. Long, fun day filled with some delicious Italian food, pastries, and lots of coffee. And shopping. Of course there was shopping involved.

Sunday morning was spent in church. Came home and took a {very} short nap and then sissy and her family came over, as well as my dad, Nana, and Uncle T. The last three are heading south in a few days so it was time to say goodbye for the long, cold winter. We had dinner together, talked a bit, laughed a bit. Nana tried to help E learn pig latin. E is obsessed with learning this secret language and spent most of Saturday quizzing me when she got a chance.

Does anyone outside my family speak pig latin?

J, K, and I ended the weekend watching Sunday Night Football. It was a long game. A very long game. Highly enjoyable. Great win for the Patriots.

You know what? I'm tired just typing all this activity. Seriously, I need another weekend.
A few scenes from a local farm.

Sissy and I took the girls to walk in a corn maze last week. It was a little bit scary. I don't like big tall things hovering over me. Especially corn.

Remember the movie Signs? Stay out of the corn.

The girls got us out safe and sound and Sissy and I sat at a picnic table while they went back in. I was very happy to be sitting outside in the warm sun, looking at all the beautiful color, and NOT surrounded by corn.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Memory Lane

I was talking with a friend tonight, remembering a story from a very long time ago.

When the Man and I were newly married he was working for a small family owned company. We all knew each other since it was a local company and employees' spouses would stop in to show off new babies and say hello to the owners. Christmas parties were cozy affairs at one of the owners homes, with big pots of soup on the stove, lots and lots of hot appetizers, a wide assortment of libations, and many delicious desserts. Sleigh rides through the woods with cups of hot chocolate for everyone, all of us bundled up and tucked under blankets to keep warm. Good times and good memories.

So we all knew each other since we socialized together throughout the year. The guys got along fairly well and they would take turns asking their wives to bake something to bring in to the office to share. 

One day, it was my turn to bake something. I had just gotten a recipe for blonde brownies from a coworker. I had made them several times to rave reviews and when the Man asked me to bake something for him to bring in to work, I chose this recipe. I made them one evening after work and sent them off with the Man the next day.

When he got home from work, he came in with the platter. Full of brownies.

"What's wrong with the brownies? Didn't anyone like them?" I asked.

"Oh, the first guy liked them just fine," said the Man. "Until he bit into a rubber band."

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Oy vey. I still don't know how that rubber band got into the batter in the first place. But I never had to bake for them again.
Some more photos from the walk the Man and I took this weekend.

I love walking. Clears the head.
K and I are in the middle of watching The Blacklist. Not usually a fan of James Spader but he is spectacular in this series.

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K and I like to binge watch television series. The Man hates binge watching. He doesn't understand how we can watch the same series from start to finish. We don't stop until we're up to date if it's series that is still running or have seen the whole series if it is over. He gets tired of a series very quickly, like after one episode. He's a throwback to the weekly series. He only wants to watch something once a week.

Unless it's one of his favorite movies. That? He could watch every night.
It's not really about binge watching. At least not for me.

I enjoy watching the shows we choose. But I enjoy the time I spend with her even more. We usually watch a couple episodes each night after the Man has gone to bed. We try to puzzle out some of the shows we watch and remind each other of forgotten details. We share laughs over funny scenes and sometimes get a little emotional over the heart-tugging ones.

A few nights ago we were watching something and I asked her a question about an episode. This tends to irritate her. But she's much more clever than I am and figures things out quickly so I ask her a lot of questions.

She looked at me and stuck her tongue out at me. Perfectly timed and message received. I giggled. Then a few tears welled up in me and I continued to look at her, even as she went back to watching the show. 

"K, do me a favor? On the day you get married, at some point during the day, look at me and stick your tongue out," I said, trying not let her see that I was tearing up.

She looked at me quizzically and said, "What? Why?" 

"Because then I'll know you remember this moment. Just the two of us sharing this moment," I said.

I'm sure I'll tear up on that day. Many times. But I'm looking forward to that moment and this memory.