Thursday, July 29, 2010

Generation Celebration

I apologize for the lack in food pictures lately.  I haven't actually done much cooking this week.  Only a cherry pie for Hubby.

I LOVE to make pie.  It's my favorite thing!I also love any excuse to use my Fire King Jadite pie dish.  It makes my heart swoon!

Anyway, on to the Celebration for Generations.  Monday was my Grandmother's birthday.  She's 18 again! :) 

 Isn't she adorable?  Of course she is!  She's Grandmother!  Now, I know I'm partial, but my Grandmother is the best!  I stayed with her every day as a child before I started school and then every summer after.  She made me "special biscuits" at lunch in the shape of teddy bears and flowers covered in butter, cinnamon, and sugar.  Every day at 4:00 we had tea and crumpets and she would make special sandwiches cut out with cookie cutters and peanut butter cookies.  We would pretend we were Mrs. Peabody and Miss Applebee and pin the curtains together so that it would be dark and "elegant".  She taught me to read and play I spy, Red Light, Green Light, and Giant Step (kind of like Simon Says).  She would play her Elvis tapes and we would dance to Jailhouse Rock and Blue Suede Shoes.  She taught me life lessons like how to love unconditionally, how to make my world the best it could be by finding the good in everything, and how to NOT take crap from anyone.  She's my hero and I love her so big!

As has become tradition, my mom and I took her shopping on Monday.  We spent the whole day at the mall and as an added surprise to Grandmother, my Aunt Bobbi (Moma's sister) came in from Carolina Beach just for the occasion.  I never did get a picture with the three of us because either my mom or I was behind the camera.

This is our lunch crew.  We ate at Grandmother's FAVORITE restaurant, The Olive Garden.  My mom is in the dark blue shirt and Aunt Bobbi in the light blue.  We were also joined (another surprise for Grandmother!) by Grandmother's friends Martha and Brenda.  It truly was a wonderful day with three generations of my family's spectacular women!

On a side note, I found the items in the picture below in the Dollar Store.  You know, that store where everything in it only costs $1.  Somehow I don't think that these are meant to really add bling to your car.

Also worthy of note is this shoe as modeled by Grandmother.  It's hideousness and the high price of somewhere near $40 I qualify it as the worst foot wear monstrosity I've ever seen in my life.  Even with Grandmother's beautiful face it still cannot be considered as something someone would SERIOUSLY put on their feet!  If any of my readers actually like or own this pair of shoes I do apologize for my differing taste.  I invite you to model them for me with your complimenting outfit.  Sometimes things look better on than off.

However, I will leave you with this beauty.  I only wish I had a dress worthy of wearing these with.  They, along with my beautiful pie dish and Hubby, make my heart swoon!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My 15 Minutes

I'm floored.  I'm flabbergasted.  I'M FANTASTIC!  I was congratulated today by one of my Tasty Kitchen friends, Kay Heritage, for having a featured recipe on the Tasty Kitchen site.  When I read it I thought, "What do you mean, featured?  I just looked at TK earlier today.  I didn't see any of my recipes.  I mean, I've only posted 2 and only 1 has a picture!"  Then I found the archive button.  Apparently I was featured yesterday.  In the number 1 spot.  MY recipe was the NUMBER ONE featured recipe on Tasty Kitchen on the one day I didn't look!  I guess my fame is like boiling water.  As long as I'm not watching, there it is!  Now, I'm not going to lie, I teared up a little.  I mean, Hubby is constantly kidding with me by saying that TK is a cult for Pioneer Woman and we're all going to get together and drink the special Kool-Aid out of our oven mitts.  Just in case any of my TK buds are reading, he says this all in good fun and has NEVER been disappointed by any of my trials of TK recipes.  Today my dedication paid off.  Well, I guess it was yesterday.  In any case, I have been recognized by the Fraternal Order of the Mitt.  I will go to sleep tonight a happy girl!  LONG LIVE TASTY KITCHEN!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Peach Perfection

I don't have very many truly blissful memories from my childhood that involve my father.  It's a long story and this is a happy place so I won't go into detail but, let's just say that time and anger have erased many of them.  One that I do have, however, is a dish he used to make every once in a while.  He didn't cook much.  Usually just steaks.  But once in a blue moon he would make what I remember him calling "Canton Pork Chops".  When I was small I thought it was "Can-Time Pork Chops" which made perfect sense to me at the time.  When we had it he used home canned peaches which was part of what made it such a treat.  We didn't have peach trees so someone had to give them to us and we cherished them down to the last lick of peach juice.  Once I reached adulthood it dawned on me one day that it was one of my favorite things that I hadn't had in literally at least a decade and a half.  I didn't know exactly know how he made it and my mom didn't have a recipe around but I could remember how it tasted.  Savory but just a little sweet with a hint of cinnamon and spice.  So one day, I bought some pork chops and fresh peaches and set out to find a little piece of heaven, my childhood, and the good parts of my dad.  I decided to alter it a little today, using a pork loin roast instead of pork chops, and I actually took the time to remember what I did and photograph it and share it with you.  So here you are, a piece of my childhood and my heart.

Season a pork loin roast with salt and pepper.  You can use pork chops also, obviously, but today I used a roast because it was what I had.  Be generous with the S&P.

Heat a stainless steal or cast iron pan until it's rocket hot.  Add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil and let it get rocket hot.  Then add the meat, seasoned side down, and let it sizzle and crackle and pop for a good long while.  In the mean time season the other side.

Properly seared meat should look like this.  Caramelized and crusty.  YUM!

Take the meat out of the pan and take the pan off of the heat to cool a little.  Turn the heat on the stove down to just above low.  Then add a tablespoon of salted butter and let it melt.

Add two cloves of chopped garlic to the butter and let it cook for just one minute to start to release the flavor.  

Then add 3 cups of sliced peaches.  Please use either fresh, frozen, or home canned.  The ones in the cans at the grocery store that you can find in fruit cocktail are scary and don't cook well.  Trust me, don't go there.  Also add 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and salt and pepper.  Stir everything to combine and use your spoon to get all of the "yummy bits" off of the bottom of the pan.  You don't have to cook the peaches through because they'll spend a long time in the oven.  

Pour the peach sauce over the roast in a baking dish and then put in the oven at 350 degrees.  I guess I should have told you to pre-heat the oven to 350, huh?  Well, there, I just told you.  Anyway, then cover the dish with aluminum foil and let it bake for about an hour depending on the size of the cut of meat you are using.

This is what it will look like when it comes out of the oven.  The peaches will shrivel a bit and brown.  The yumminess will meld with the meat and you will be happy when you eat it.  I promise!

Let the meat rest about 15 minutes and then slice it thin against the grain.  Top it with the peaches and a little bit of the sauce.  Then eat.  Eat and think of me.  This particular dish gives me the warm fuzzies inside.  I hope it gives them to you as well!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's Amazing What You See

I've missed a couple of days.  I beg your forgiveness.  In my own defense, the laundry got done as well as the grocery shopping, dishes, meals, weeding the garden, and peeling and freezing these beauties.

Two gallons of them!  And they are FANTASTIC!  SUPERB!  DELICIOUS!  That's enough bragging, huh?

Hubby started working this week.  So far he really likes his job.  We're both getting used to his schedule.  He's been going in to work at 7:00 each morning so we've been getting up at five.  I've been doing as I said and channeled "June Cleaver" and making his breakfast every morning.  At first I thought I would surely go back to bed each day.  But, somehow, I didn't.  Somehow, I stayed awake and got outside and did my gardening and got sweaty and then made it inside in time to shower and watch Rachael Ray.  I planned ahead for supper and made good ole country meals.  I clipped coupons.  And ..................... I napped.  But only a little!

In doing this I've been able to see an absolutely glorious sight two days this week.  Butterflies.  I planted a butterfly bush a couple of years ago.  When I bought it it was only about a foot tall.  In the two or three years I've had this bush I've never noticed that it actually attracted butterflies. That was, until this week.  As of this week the bush is about six and a half feet tall.  The first day, I only got to witness this fantabulous creature.

Today, Hubby came in and let me know that I should grab my new snazzy Nikon and head outside.  He said there were about 4 butterflies on the bush.  I waited a couple of minutes, finished harvesting my crops on Frontierville (yes, I'm THAT nerd), and then I headed outside.  I can't even describe how breathtaking it was when I got there.  There were at least 6 butterflies.  Huge butterflies.  And dozens of moths.  And a bee.

See them in there?  It's spectacular!

I literally have hundreds more.  It was a little bit of a spiritual experience as they were all flying around my head.  Just a moment where I truly got to see and enjoy God's small wonders.  I just thought I'd share a little of my blessing!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hello, My Name is Danielle and I'm a Dish-O-Holic

So, to keep myself honest, I will admit that I did not get to the laundry today.  However, I did make myself productive.  Hubby and I went to the Farmer's Market this morning.  I worked in my flowers for a little while this afternoon.  As I was cleaning my lilies I found these:

Butterfly wings.  I don't know what happened to the actual butterfly.  I assume he got eaten by something that didn't like the taste of his wings.  I guess whatever ate it didn't have any buffalo sauce or ranch dressing handy.  Was that out of line?  Anyway, I thought it was very interesting and rare to find a whole set of butterfly wings so I delicately collected them and I'm trying to think of a way to mount them to something and preserve them.

I also cooked and actually cleaned the kitchen up behind myself.  I even got prepared and made a hash brown casserole for the morning.  See, I told you I'd been productive.

Now, on to the meat of this blog.  I promised yesterday that I would tell you about my addiction to dishware. While I can't show you EVERY piece of dishware and pattern that I own, I will show you my favorites.

This is my dish cabinet.  Well, one of my dish cabinets.  I have another full of my crystal but as I like to say, that's another blog for another day.  Notice that you can't see the top shelf.  If you're wondering those are all serving dishes.  You will also notice that there are MORE dishes tucked back behind the door there.  I told you it was bad.  I told you I need help.

These precious things are from The Pampered Chef Simple Additions line.  They're called "Dots"  They're whimsical yet simple.  Frilly but not so much so that my husband won't eat off of them.  In short, I love them.  My mother in law gave me 2 place settings last Christmas and I can't get enough.  I even got fabulous water glasses that match the set.  I want more.  Much more!

This is my "wedding china".  It's actually not china.  These plates are actually from the Noritake casual dining line called Colorwave.  This wave of color is Raspberry and that's what made them a perfect match for Hubby and I.  The eating side of the plate is a simple bone color which Hubby likes.  His chef instincts say to him that plates should be simple and white and the food should be the decoration.  The rim and underside are such a luscious color that my girly decorating needs are fulfilled.  I have received 3 place settings so far and only one dinner plate has been broken.  I would like to have a full 8 place settings.  I want to be able to say "that's my wedding china" when my children eat off of it.  When those children break a plate I want to sit in the floor and cry and say "That was my wedding china".  And when my oldest daughter (who has yet to be born) gets married and moves into her first little house and only has styrofoam to eat off of, I want to be able to pass them on and say "Here honey, this is my wedding china and now it's yours".  That's if I ever get a full 8 place settings and if those place settings make it  long enough to pass down.

Most of you know what this is.  It's Fiesta ware.  Who in the world doesn't like Fiesta ware?  Communists and cretins, that's who.  It's simple, timeless, and colorful.  In fact, it comes in a whole array of different colors and I want ALL of them.  They don't all have to be in place settings.  They can be baking dishes and serving bowls and even a knife block set.  But I do want them ALL.  Well, maybe not Cinnabar.  But the rest will do.

I do not know what line of dishes these are.  I do know they are Lenox.  I do know that they resemble the Butler's Pantry line.  I also know that I paid $6 at a yard sale for 2 dinner plates, 2 salad plates, and this one bowl which is the perfect size for Hubby to eat cereal from.  I'd be OK if I didn't get any more of these.  They don't light an emotional flame in  the very depths of my soul.  I'll probably pass them on to my brother when he gets his first apartment or house and is eating off styrofoam exclusively.  But I'll only do that because I love him so so so much.  (Don't tell him I said that, he'll probably get embarassed)

I have several other patterns and colors.  I still have the first dishes I bought when I went to college.  I still have the first dishes I bought when I moved into this house as a young bachelorette.  I even have seasonal dishes.  Easter dishes.  Autumn dishes.  Halloween dishes.  Christmas dishes.  Antique dishes that belonged to my Mamaw Yokeley that I use exclusively for decoration and I may never ever eat off of for fear of breaking them and losing them forever.  And then there's the crystal, but, well, you know.

See, I told you.  It's a sickness.  It's a disease.  I've also decided that it's incurable.  All you can do is treat the symptoms by buying more dishes.  So that's what I intend to do.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cookie Monster

Today I had intended to blog about my addiction to dinnerware.  My old favorites.  My new favorites.  The fact that the only pattern I have a full set of is my fine crystal.  BUT, between a trip to Sam's, job applications, visiting my daddy, and watching Con Air, my pictures never got taken and that blog didn't gestate to a proper birth weight.  So, what I can tell you about is my late night baking of cookies last night.  You see, yesterday I was trying to find something incredible to make for supper (I didn't, we won't go there) and I came across the recipe for Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I didn't make them right off.  In fact, Hubby and I tried to resist the temptation of making and eating any kind of delicious baked goodies.  That lasted until about ten o'clock.  Then we caved.  Well, I caved to Hubby and made him some cookies.

The secret to a good chocolate chip cookie is MINI chocolate chips.  Besides, everything tastes better when it's small.  Everything has less calories when it's small.  And they're just so darn cute!

Again, the name of the game here is small.  See my tiny scooper there?  It's the perfect size for awesome cookies.  Now, let me just note that I could have stopped right here, used the red spatula there, and just eaten the stuff out of the bowl.  But then what would Hubby do without the cookies I promised him?

Lick the paddle.  That's what he'd do!!  Ain't he cute?

JUST KIDDING!  You didn't think I'd go through all that trouble just to let him lick a paddle did you?  Of course not!  Besides, look at his face.  It's saying "Please bake the cookies honey.  Please!  I love you so much and I promise I'll clean out the litter box for the rest of our lives."  Well, maybe I embellished a little.  Maybe he didn't promise to clean the litter box.  But he did say please!

So, maybe tomorrow, somewhere between going to the Farmer's Market, doing the laundry I said I'd do for the past three days, and cleaning today's dishes, I'll get to that blog post where I'll take the first step to recovery.  Admitting I have a problem.  Hello, my name is Danielle and I'm a Dish-o-holic.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Here a Blog, There a Blog

And here I am again, trying to make pitiful excuses for the 5 month gap in my blogging.  The truth is the only excuse I have is: I'm lazy.  But, I got to thinking today about the things I'd like to get done now that Hubby has a job and I will be left to entertain myself for ten hours a day.  Of course I have many grandiose dreams about channeling Barbara Billingsley in "Leave it to Beaver" and having all of the laundry done, the house clean, and fabulous home cooked meals on the table every day when he gets home all while wearing pearls and heels and frilly aprons.
I don't think I'm willing to copy the hair cut, but, I'm going to try to give MOST of it a fair shake.  I'll go ahead and admit that the heels and pearls won't happen and I only have one frilly apron so that probably won't happen either.  But I will give the rest of it a shot!  I'm not making any promises.  

We have planted some pretty sizable gardens this year, both flower and vegetable.  The vegetable garden isn't faring so well due to very dense dirt and poor drainage but we should at least get a few tomatoes out of it.  The flower garden, however, is doing wonderfully despite the great drought we've been experiencing the past couple of weeks.  However, as the flowers flourish, so do the weeds and it's just too darn hot out there to go pulling them up right now.  So far I have fought and won the Great Aphid and Japanese Beetle Wars of 2010 and won.  I've been trying, as much as possible, to use organic solutions to fight the pests not because I'm trying to save the world or anything but because I'm cheap.  This leads me to another goal I contemplated today.  I'd like to try and see how many convenience items I can craft at home to save some dollars.  I'm not sure that I'm willing to give up Tide or the luxury of volumizing shampoo but it I can get by without buying Bisquick and other such things I'd like to give it a try.  We'll see how that goes.  I'll be sure to keep you updated.

So, for the third or fourth but possibly not the last time I will make a pledge to try and be more faithful in my updates.  I assume that there might be only one person reading this (which may or may not include myself) but in case there's a second reader out there, I ask only one thing of you.  Keep checking back.  Keep reading.  Hold me accountable.  I need a blogging sponsor!  Can you do that for me, please!?!