Thursday, December 30, 2010

Introduction to New Music Blog

I love music - all kinds from country to classical, calypso to Celtic, pop to polka, rock to reggae, spiritual to show tunes and much more.  I decided to start a new blog for my favorite musical links to songs, videos, dancers, musicians and more.  I plan on adding a new entry each day for 2011.  So if you are a music lover, check it out.  Enjoy!  Have a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Red and Green Jellied Salads

I usually make these two jellied salads for Christmas.  The green one is called Colleen Vegetable Mold and is taken from Jean Pare's Company's Coming Salads.  The recipe for the red one is from my mother-in-law and it is to die for.

Ingredients - Green Salad
1 small pkg lime gelatin
1 c boiling water
1 c crushed pineapple with juice
1/4 c salad dressing
1 c cottage cheese
1/2 c chopped celery
1/2 c shredded carrot

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water.

Add pineapple and cool slightly.

Stir in salad dressing until all lumps dissolved.  I found if you cool the mixture too much, the salad dressing does not dissolve and remains lumpy.

Stir in cottage cheese.

Add celery and carrots. 

Chill until set.  I serve this salad in a bowl and spoon it out instead of putting it in a mold.

Ingredients - Red Salad

1 small pkg cherry gelatin
1 small pkg raspberry gelatin
1 1/2 c boiling water, separated
1 c cranberry sauce
1 c crushed pineapple with juice
1 10 oz pkg raspberries, thawed  or 1 c fresh
1 c whipping cream
125 gm pkg cream cheese
1/2 c sugar

1st layer:  Dissolve cherry gelatin in 3/4 c boiling water.  Add pineapple and cranberry sauce.

Pour into 9x9 cake pan and chill until set. 

2nd layer:  Beat together whipping cream, cream cheese and sugar until firm and fluffy.

 Spread onto first layer and chill again.

3rd layer:  Dissolve raspberry gelatin in 3/4 c boiling water.  Mix in raspberries.  Chill until mixture has thickened but not set.

 Carefully spread on cream layer.  Chill until set.  Cut into squares.

Enjoy them both!  They are favorites around here.  :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Homemade Eggnog

One of the popular Christmas drinks is rum and eggnog.  I've not been a big fan of it because I think store-bought eggnog tastes artificial.  There is something about it that leaves an aftertaste in my mouth.

When I was young and taking home-ec (before the days of not eating raw eggs), we learned how to make eggnog.  It was simple - beat one egg with a spoon of sugar and a bit of vanilla, add milk and drink.  Sometimes I would add cinnamon or nutmeg or both.  I would sometimes add ice cream so it was thicker.  As I grew older, I quit making the eggnog because it didn't have enough taste.

I belong to the Backyard Chickens Forum and Miss Prissy shared her eggnog recipes.  I adapted mine from hers.

12 eggs, separated
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
4 c (1 liter) half and half
4 c (1 liter) 2 % milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg
nutmeg for sprinkling if desired

**optional - spiced rum if desired for extra zing for the adults

I used my Cuisinart and several large bowls to mix the eggnog.  Separate the eggs and dump egg whites in mixer bowl.

Beat the egg whites until stiff and slowly pour in 3/4 cup of the sugar while beating.  Gently move the egg whites to another bowl so you can reuse the mixer.

Notice how lovely the egg yolks from my girls are - none of those pale store bought yolks for us.  ;) 

Beat yolks until creamy and slowly pour in the other 3/4 cup of sugar.  The egg yolks will be thick and light yellow in color.  Mix in vanilla. 

Pour egg yolks into a large bowl. 

Add egg whites to bowl.

Fold egg whites into beaten yolks.

Sprinkle on nutmeg.

Pour in milk and cream and stir carefully.

Look at those lovely frothy clouds of goodness.

Pour into glasses.  Sprinkle with nutmeg if desired.  Add spiced rum if desired.  Enjoy!

Miss Prissy used whole milk and heavy cream in her recipe but I think mine was rich enough.  Next time I would make a half recipe since it is so rich and creamy.  We each had 2 glasses of the eggnog because it was so good but now no one wants supper.  It was too filling.  I still have 2 1/2 containers in the fridge for later.  We'll see how it fares staying in the fridge to use another day.

PS:  The eggnog does lose its fluffiness sitting in the fridge but is still very tasty.  It also doesn't seem as filling.  When it is so foamy, the air that was beaten into the eggs had a filling effect on us all for a number of hours.  So I retract what I said about halving the recipe - its not needed.

To all my readers and friends - have a very Merry Christmas. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sourdough Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are our favorite sourdough cookies.  I keep them separate from the other cookies so they stay soft and chewy.  If I put them in the cookie jar with the others, they lose their moistness and become rather dry.

This recipe comes from the Robin Hood Sherwood recipes.
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 c. rolled oats
1 c. shortening  **  I use margarine or butter  ** sometimes I substitute 1/2 cup of applesauce for 1/2 of the shortening
1 c. sugar    ** I use 1/2 cup sugar
½ c brown sugar   ** I use 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 c. sourdough
2 eggs
1/4 c. water
1 c chocolate chips or raisins  ** I often combine chocolate and butterscotch chips
1/2 c. nuts  ** I sometimes use sunflower seeds instead of nuts

Combine flour, soda and oats.

Cream together shortening and sugars. Beat in eggs.

Add sourdough and water.

Add flour mixture. Mix well.

Stir in chips and nuts.

Drop by teaspoonful onto lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake at 350 for 10 to 12 min. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

I always seem to get 5 to 6 dozen instead of 4 dozen as the recipe suggests.  To get the 4 dozen, you would probably need to use a tablespoon instead of teaspoon.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tilling with Chickens

My son looks after rototilling the garden. 

He tills the chickens' garden whenever we have excessive chipped food.  The fruit and vegetables that the chickens don't finish get worked into the ground to improve the soil.

As much as the chickens like the chipped food, they like when the garden is tilled even more.

They all come running to look for bugs and worms and other tasty treats.

It is quite a sight to see the chickens following my son, all in a row with their heads down and their fluffy butts in the air.

I love my girls - they make me laugh!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sourdough Applesauce Bread

I make this bread more than any other bread.  It is very moist and tasty. 

The original recipe says it makes 2 loaves but I always double the recipe and get 6 loaves.  So unless you have very large loaf pans, I would make it into three loaves.

adapted from Rita Davenport's Sourdough Cookery Cookbook

Ingredients (for 3 loaves)

1 package yeast
¼ cup warm water - I add about 1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup sourdough
¼ cup oil
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ cup applesauce - I use unsweetened homemade
1 Tbsp salt
1 cup hot water
3 cups whole wheat flour - I substitute some flax seed, ground flax, wheat germ and bran for some of the whole wheat flour (more info below)
¼ tsp baking soda
3 – 4 cups flour
Mix together yeast with warm water/sugar and set aside . In large mixing bowl combine  oil, brown sugar,

sourdough, applesauce, salt, hot water, and baking soda. Mix well. 

Stir in yeast mixture.

I add flax seed, ground flax, wheat germ and bran to substitute for about 1 cup of the whole wheat flour.  I mix them together and then add them to the whole wheat flour. 
VARIATION - I sometimes add seeds as well - sunflower, pumpkin, poppy, sesame - some or all - 1/2 cup to 1 cup total.  I just mix them in with the whole wheat flour then adjust the white flour as it is being stirred in.
NOTE - to grind flax seed, I use my blender.

I use my Cuisinart to mix and knead the dough.  I put in about half the liquid, half the whole wheat mixture and a cup or so of the white flour.  Add the white flour a bit at a time until the dough forms a ball and the bowl is clean.  I then knead it with the dough hook for 5 - 6 minutes.  Remove and repeat with other half.

If you make bread by hand add the whole wheat mix to the liquid with about 3 cups of white flour.  Add more flour until you have a stiff dough.  Knead for 10 minutes adding more flour as needed.

Place in a greased bowl.

Cover and set in a warm place. I use my oven with the light turned on.  Let rise 1 to 2 hours or until double in size.

Punch down dough and shape into loaves. Place in greased loaf pans.

Cover and let rise until double.

Bake at 350 F for 35 to 45 min.  Bread is done when a loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Brush the top with melted butter. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Cactus

I got my first Christmas Cactus from my grandmother in 1970.  It was already a large plant by then and when my grandmother passed away in 1973, I thought I would never get it to bloom again.  Below is the plant I got from my grandmother.

It didn't bloom again until about 1980 when we moved into a different house where it bloomed in profusion for many years.  Christmas Cacti like cooler temperatures and natural light.  We kept the cactus in a corner of the dining room with the heat register shut and seldom turned on the lights in that room in the evening.

Once when I transplanted it, a branch broke off. I was able to grow that into another plant.

Depending on the year, I have had the cactus bloom as early as Thanksgiving or as late as Easter.

I now have several other smaller cacti in different colours.  Below you can see a pale pink one and a vivid scarlet one blooming together in the same pot at the same time as my fushia one.  This doesn't happen very often.

Here is a closeup of one of the scarlet blooms.  Although they are not scented and do not last very long, I enjoy them immensely when I have them.  They remind me of ballerinas wearing fancy tutus.