Saturday, December 30, 2017

Sloppy Joes and Checkers

The New Year is just around the corner - 2018!

It's been almost 6 years since I began blabbing blogging and this is my 400th post.
The coming year may see a bit of a slow down since I feel like I've 
said almost everything there is to say ...

This New Year's Eve we've invited our church group of friends for the annual
get together and the theme is plaids and denim with a retro checker's tournament.

It reminded me of when we were teens and the choice party food was sloppy joes,
I made a triple batch to serve along with all the other "pot-luck" food to share.

I don't really think there is a recipe for this but this is how I made it:
1 lb. of hamburger, browned with a chopped onion
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dried Thyme - just a sprinkle or two
1 can Chicken Gumbo soup - undiluted
1/2 can of water
1/4 Cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or so till thickened to liking.
Ladle onto warmed hamburger buns.
That's it!

I'll try to catch some pictures of the event.
Hopefully the weather co-operates and everyone can arrive safely.
We are in a stormy deep freeze these last days of 2017.

Till next time ...... Happy New Year, stay safe where you are, and celebrate the coming year!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

More-With-Less - Cream of Carrot-Cheddar Soup

This well worn and splattered cookbook was one of the very
first cookbooks I purchased as a newly wed.
It was printed in 1976 by Herald Press, Scottdale Pennsylvania

A wonderful blend of 100s of delicious and simple recipes gathered by
Mennonite Central Committee's call for recipes.
There is a long list of taste testers in the front pages with
special mention to students at Goshen College's Peace Society who 
arranged for alternate cafeteria meals.
I love that!

Doris Janzen Longacre, who made this cookbook happen,
did so with much love and dedication to the theme More-With-Less.
Many recipe contributors brought tastes from around the world where
they served as missionaries and volunteers in MCC's world wide ministries.

A favourite soup recipe in this cookbook is the Cream of Carrot-Cheddar Soup
that is often served here on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve.

Today, the shortest day of the year, this soup was served at our supper table.
It was a welcome hot soup for a dark evening, the first day of Winter,
 and two adults suffering the sniffles and stuffies!

Here is the recipe along with a few of the "tweaks" I've made over the years.

Cream of Carrot-Cheddar Soup

Serves 8    (I usually half this recipe since we are now only 2)
Sauté in large kettle:
2 Tbsp. butter
½ Cup finely chopped onion
Add and simmer until vegetables are tender:
1 lb. carrots (8-10) shredded    (I use 2 large carrots or 4 small ones)
1 lb. potatoes (3-5) shredded    (3 medium size potatoes)
6 Cup chicken broth    (one carton broth which is 4 Cups)
½ tsp. dried thyme    (a sprinkle of thyme)
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp. Tabasco sauce
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. sugar    (optional, the carrots usually make the soup sweet enough)
Salt and pepper to taste
   I like to add a sprinkle of cinnamon
Add, stirring until cheese melts:
1 ½ Cups milk (may use part cream)    (I used half cup of whipping cream)
1-2 Cups cheddar cheese – shredded    (3/4 Cup of shredded cheese is lots)
Discard the bay leaf and serve with parsley sprinkled over.

This recipe was submitted by: Marcia Beachy, DeKalb, Ill. and Janet Landes, Phoenix, Ariz.

Here's to the official beginning of winter and longer days!!!

Wishing each and every one of my dear readers a warm and peaceful Christmas.
May God bless you and keep your loved ones near.

Till next time ... looking forward to celebrating our Saviour's birth.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Tourtière for Christmas

It's great to have one of these in your freezer
ready for a nice Sunday dinner with guests
during the Christmas Season - or any season!

Here is my "go-to" recipe:

1 lb ground pork
1/4 lb ground beef
   or – a 60/40 mixture of pork and beef
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. savory
1/4 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. ground clove
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 cup water
2 medium potatoes – cooked, peeled and mashed with a fork
Bread crumbs if needed.

Place all ingredients, except potatoes, in a medium sized saucepan.  Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a rolling boil.  Reduce to a simmer and allow mixture to cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and add potatoes.  Stir well.  Let stand for 10 minutes.
If mixture is still quite wet, add in some breadcrumbs, 1 – 2 Tbsp. if needed, until the mixture is still moist but not drippy.
Set aside to cool while you roll-out pastry dough.

Flaky Pie Pastry:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter cubed
1/2 cup cold lard or vegetable shortening cubed
1/4 cup water (approx.)
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 egg
1 egg yolk

Flaky Pie Pastry: While filling is chilling, in large bowl, whisk flour with salt. Using pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter and lard until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces. In separate bowl, whisk together ice water, sour cream and egg; drizzle over flour mixture, tossing with fork to form ragged dough and adding up to 1 tsp more ice water if necessary.

Divide dough in half; shape into discs. Wrap each in plastic wrap; refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.)

On lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 of the pastry discs to generous 1/8-inch (3 mm) thickness; fit into 9-inch (23 cm) pie plate. Trim to fit, leaving 3/4-inch (2 cm) overhang. Scrape filling into pie shell, pressing down lightly to pack. Whisk egg yolk with 1 tsp water; brush some over edge of pastry.

Roll out remaining pastry disc to generous 1/8-inch (3 mm) thickness; fit pastry over filling. Trim to fit, leaving 3/4-inch (2 cm) overhang; fold overhang under and fluted edge. Cut decorative shapes from pastry scraps (Note - I cut out the steam vents and holes before placing the top onto the filled pie). Brush some of the remaining egg yolk mixture over pastry; arrange shapes over top. Brush top all over with some of the remaining egg mixture; cut steam vents in top.

Freeze until ready to use or bake immediately. If frozen, thaw in refrigerator overnight before baking.

Bake on rimmed baking sheet on bottom rack of 375F (190C) oven until filling is bubbly and bottom is golden, loosely covering with foil if top is browning too quickly, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes.

This tourtiere was shared for Sunday dinner today following the children's
Christmas Program at church.

Our hearts were bursting as we watched our little love perform
the Christmas Story Animals song
"Baby Jesus, We Love You"
along with her Sunday School classmates.

The donkey ears didn't want to 
stay on so her wise mommy
quickly changed her into another
kind of donkey ... with long floppy ears.

Till next time ...... enjoying the sights, sounds, and tastes of this delightful season!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Tagliatelle Pasta and Italian Hospitality!

200 grams duram wheat flour
2 eggs

That's all the ingredients for making authentic Tagliatelle pasta!
Knead for 20 minutes or so till smooth.
Cover and rest for 30 minutes to let gluten develop.
Boil in salted water and serve with your favourite Italian tomato sauce,
sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
It was simply delicio!!!

The farmer really got into this - his turned out way better than mine! He has stronger fingers for kneading.

While we waited for our pasta dough to rest
we had a chance to admire this beautiful country
estate, it's dining room floral display and the
simple and beautiful lace curtains everywhere.

We patted and rolled out the dough and then put it through the pasta machine
to cut them perfectly. Our hosts cooked them and then we feasted. 

A lovely time chatting with our fellow students.
A day spent unhurried and experiencing the Umbria hospitality.

What a wonderful treat to learn how to make this and hear about
passed down traditions and passion for good food and wine by our Italian
hosts and teachers!

The following day we were picked up at the castle once again by our hosts
who took us to an amazing olive tree farm.

We learned that olive trees are all registered and documented by the region and considered 
protected. Permission must be gained by the authorities in order to move or cut down
any of the trees!

We tasted different varieties of olive oil - who knew they could taste so different!

Delicious vegetables roasted in olive oil were served. What a treat.

The countryside here was breathtaking!

Next stop ... Vineyard and winery!

We tasted some lovely wines and just relaxed and 
enjoyed the views.
Delicious bruschetta was served to our delight.

A special message/picture from home came to us later that week ...

I may have jumped out of my chair and let out a little scream of joy!
Just saying.

We said farewell to Todi - a once in a lifetime experience in this gorgeous and friendly region of Italy!

Till next time ...... wanting to get one or two more posts done of our trip to Italy before I forget too many details. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Old and New

Last week there were a few before and after's
(or is that old and new?)
around this place.

I finally got the farmer to help me install my "new" quilt wall hanging.
I've been working on it for quite some time as was posted here:

This was the before "old" quilt wall hanging that I made a few years ago:

I loved this quilt but ... it's time for a change!

This "new" one suits my colours and style just a bit better. I think we'll like it for quite some time.
Well, that is, till another pattern catches my eye!

The other "new" thing around here is my long time wish to have a gas (propane in our case)
kitchen range. Not that there was anything wrong with the "old" glass top - I just never liked
how it's heat would come up then click off and on. Does anyone else find this a problem?

It served me well and always looked nice - just saying.

However, I think I'm in love with this sweet "new" range. It's a duel fuel (meaning a gas top
and an electric oven - actually two ovens because the bottom drawer is also an oven).

Today Noa and I baked our first batch of bread in this oven.
Turned out very good ....

A "new" batch of play dough for my little kitchen fairy

Next will come the new counter tops, back splash tile and island.
This will happen in the "new" year we hope!

Till next time ... slowly getting the Christmas decorations up and preparing my heart for this most wonderful time of the year. What's on your agenda these days?

Cookin' with gas!!! (propane)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

First Tastes of Umbria

It's "Hockey Night in Canada" and raining cats and dogs,
which gives me a chance to slow down,
catch up on blogville and gather my thoughts and memories of our trip to Italy!
There is pizza baking in the oven and the wood stove is warming the living room as I type this.

After our 7 day cruise on the Mediterranean Sea which ended in Rome,
we took a quick tour of Rome by taxi, hitting all the highlight spots
such as the Coliseum, Pantheon, and of course Trevi Fountain.
We threw some coins into the fountain in 2006 and sure enough we returned to do it again!

This was a drive by shot! Traffic was horrid and we didn't stop.

A panoramic shot inside the Pantheon - what an amazing place!

Trevi Fountain - as beautiful as ever.

A quick stop at the Abbey of St. Paul on our way out of the city was well worth the time!
The unhurried hush and respectful atmosphere of this abbey was a welcome calm to the very busy
city of Rome!

The first night on our own in Italy was at Hotel Castrum Boccea.
A beautiful country resort, giving us our first tastes of Italian driving, dining, and resting!

Delicious Dinner in the resort's wine cellar - amazing! Great way to start our Italian adventure.

I loved the table centre piece - perfect for our first authentic Italian dinner!

Next morning we made our way North to Umbria.
Our castle "Castello Izzalini Todi Resort" awaited our arrival.
Can you believe it - we stayed for a whole week in this beautiful castle?
We were pinching ourselves ...

The farmer snapped this picture of me sitting in the window sill, sipping on our first home-brewed coffee from a moka pot! It was a delicious introduction to how to brew and enjoy Italian coffee!

A sweet gentleman at a little grocery store in Todi sign languaged me as to which was his favourite coffee and the resort maitre de showed us how to use the moka pot! A lesson well used throughout the rest of our vacation.

The view from this window, morning, noon or evening never grew old!
Castello Issalini was our home base for so many adventures in Umbria.

First destination from the Castle ...
Assisi - Home of St. Francis!

Steep climb to the top - this picture does not do justice to the incline! Why hadn't we done some physical training for this?

The climb was well worth the views and sounds of the Basilica Papale Dis San Francesco!

Downhill was much easier ... beautiful views along the way!

We were ready for a filling and delicious fresh roasted (before our eyes) meal before heading back to the castle - what a day ending with complimentary Limoncello!

Rosa dei Venti

So much more to share about this enchanting place ... stay tuned.

In the meantime, Toronto Maple Leafs are winning against Montreal Canadiens. The pizza was delicio and I am exhausted from a full week of helping with Theatre Wellesley's production of "Daddy's Girl" by Gary Stapp. One more performance to go tomorrow afternoon. Then it's buckle down time to get Christmas decorations started around this old farm house. How do they decorate in Italy I wonder?


Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all my American friends ... may you be blessed by family and friends as you gather together.


  Our blue eyed sweet boy turns 5 today! A fun day celebrating with his school buddies at  "Your Way to Play" Today - we will see ...