Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I don't know that I will have time to blog during the next few days.  It's a flurry of activity here.  I finished my first Crochete project, a scarf for my son.  I used Baby Alpaca yarn and it is so soft.  The design is a little goofy, but he loves it.  Hey, it was my first try.  I'm glad I finished it in a few weeks.  Maybe one day I'll finish the afghan I've been working on for my brother, I only started it about 12 years ago. (blush) 
I also made a stocking for my little boy.  I love to create patchwork stockings, they are so much fun to make. I made my husband one right after we were married, and used the "printable fabric" to add pictures of ourselves to the stocking.  It turned out really well.  My darling husband said, "You did not, just make, that stocking today." after I showed him our sons stocking.  I said, yes I did.  I cut the squares out a couple days ago and put it all together today.  Hubby told me he really liked it and to make one for myself, from him. I'm not sure how that works, exactly, but it's a nice thought....for him.  Ha ha ha.
The Bell Tower
My baby boy has been trying to make a tower out of blocks for a long time.  He gets very frustrated when it falls down and wants me to come help him.  I couldn't today so I told him to calm down then try again. I also pointed out he was trying to build it on carpet which is not very solid, a smooth flat surface would be better.  He's 3, so I thought maybe I was speaking over his head (even though we had been through this before).  Next thing I know, he's running in to tell me he did it! He built a tower!  I followed him into the living room to see it.  Not only did he build a tower, but he put a bell on top.  It is still standing right now.  What a happy kid he was.  I am so proud of him for trying and persevering. Kids can always surprise us.  We must never think a child does not understand, thereby giving us an excuse not to explain.  Clearly, he understood me.  Clearly he reasoned it all out, with much success.   Clearly, he understands more than I give him credit for.  Shame on me, and may I learn from this.  I see it so often, even in myself, children not getting the respect they deserve.  "Because I said so." is not an explanation.  Although I have used it, I try not to, but after 50 "why?"s regarding a matter that I've explained as simply and in depth as I can, "because I said so." is all I can manage.  I have been tempted to say it many times when I'm too tired, or frustrated to explain.  That's just laziness, and not acceptable.  We should give our children the respect we want from them and from others.  If you don't take time to talk to your child, explain things to them, believe that they can and will understand what you're saying, then we're raising children who won't know HOW to talk to their kids. They won't know how to communicate with others either, for that matter.  If all they hear is, "not now", "because I said so", "go watch t.v.", what are they really hearing?  Not now; "you are not important so go away." Because I said so, "you are to dumb to understand why, you are not important enough for me to take the time to explain, I really don't want to be bothered with you right now." Go watch t.v.; "I don't want you around me, you are a bad person leave, you are in trouble."  Children are self absorbed until around the age of 5 or 6 when they start to learn that the world actually doesn't revolve around them. They automatically think that everything is about them.  Perfect example, I was wrapping presents and my son saw me put some under the tree.  He exclaims, "what did you get me! Those are all my presents!"  I told him they weren't, some belonged to Daddy.  He insisted they were all his.  After several explanations that Daddy gets presents too, and no matter how sweet my son is, not everything is for him.  He has to share and not be selfish.  He sort of got it, but he's a work in progress too.  He then wanted to know if I'd wrapped a present for fat cat Tye.  "Not yet", I told him.  Then he was off to tell the cat what a good boy he is.  How easily the young mind switches gears.  It's not very fair to require our children to speak respectfully to us, when we don't do the same for them.  Children learn more from what they see, than by what they hear.  I've learned a lot about myself by seeing him do things I do.  By hearing him say things I say.  It's a HUGE lesson in humility, and I pray that I am able to learn it.   I guess my recipe for tonight is, Love.  Let's love our children enough to take the time to teach them, "why".  To teach them how to properly communicate with others.  To teach them, by our actions, that they ARE important.  To teach them that we can't always stop to play, but sometimes we CAN stop to play.  It's important that they know you will do what you say you will.  For instance, if I tell him he has to go to bed with no story for misbehaving, then I must stand by that.  No matter how bad I feel, because his little heart is broken.  I am his mother, not his best friend, one day, but not right now.  We have to respect them, teach them to live by the golden rule from the Bible.  "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  Do you want your child to bite your head off when you ask him what he's doing? Would it make you feel good to sit down to play with him and he tells you to, "go watch t.v." or asks, "don't you have something you can do?".  Think about that next time you wave off your childs efforts to spend time with you, or talk to you.  It's a lesson, a recipe, I am still learning how to make. 

"For unto us is born this day, in the city of David, a child who is Christ the Lord."  Happy Birthday Jesus!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Baked Nutmeg Beer Chicken with gravy

Lewis & Robin 10-10-10
What is it about weddings and babies that just put a perpetual grin on our faces? I love weddings, especially the mints. Yum. My husband and I eloped, but we still wanted to include our family in our special day.  So, we didn't exchange rings when we eloped.  We had a "Ring Ceremony", where we officially exchanged rings. Talk about really confusing my husband, as to what day we celebrate our marriage! I was going to say both, but thought maybe that was a trifle greedy. So we celebrate the day we actually got married.   My Mother-in-Law hosted the Ceremony at her house.  I got to wear a beautiful wedding dress and gorgeous shoes.  It was a lovely day, the decorations were wonderful, the cake was divine and the wedding mints....gone in no time flat!  My Dad and Mother-in-Law each wrote up something to say in honor of our marriage and the exchanging of rings.  The weather was perfect, not too hot, no wind, no noise, nothing but peace.  That changed, one second, after we exchanged our wedding bands, and kissed.  A breeze blew, bringing the wind chimes alive. The tinkling of the chimes was like little bells from heaven celebrating our happy union.  It was so fantastic and could not have been a better beginning of celebration.

My Good sister Robin got married in October, to a wonderful man, Lewis.  They got married in Jamaica.  We weren't able to attend, but the video showed a fabulous celebration of happiness and love!  They came for a visit before Thanksgiving.  We had a very nice conversation about food, and cooking.  He gave me his recipe for chicken marinated in beer.  He told me that his Dad loves it, and it's easy to make.  OK, I'm sold.  What's the recipe?  Easy is right.  I added my own touches, but I don't think Lewis will mind.

Baked Nutmeg Beer Chicken:

Large can of beer (I used Fosters, it is a HUGE can)
1 package chicken thighs
1 package chicken drumsticks (or what ever chicken you want to use)
Flavored Sea Salt
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp Poultry Seasoning
1 large onion cut into pieces
4 Celery stalks, cut into pieces

Layer the onion, celery and chicken in a baking dish
Season each layer with the salt, pepper, nutmeg and poultry seasoning
Pour in the beer.  Do not dump over chicken as this will take the seasoning off, gently pour in from the sides until covered. 
Cover and marinated for 1/2 hour or longer for more flavor, in the fridge

Bake for one hour in a 350 oven, until juices run clear


2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
liquid from the baked chicken
2 tsp poultry seasoning
salt and pepper

Add the butter to a skillet and melt, then add the flour and lightly brown
Add salt and pepper, and then one spoonful at a time add the liquid until you get the consistency you want.  Then add the poultry seasoning and stir. 

Spoon over chicken, or if you made rice or pasta, spoon over that. It's very good

We ate leftover sweet potatoes and Cranberry/blueberry sauce.  My little boy gobbled the chicken up.  No need to worry about "getting drunk", because the cooking process cooks out all the alcohol.  Just leaving a delicious flavor.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Turkey Breast with orange oil, Mayo Muffins, Gingerbread Sweet Potatoes and Cranberry/Blueberry sauce

This morning my little boy and his best friend, had a date with Santa.  It was "Breakfast with Santa" day.  I'd been looking forward to this for a long time.  We picked up his best friend, and his Mommy then off we went.  When we got to the Club, there he was, a wonderful Santa.  He had a real beard and snow white hair.  A beautiful red vest, trimmed in white fur and buttoned up smartly with brass buttons. His knee length red velvet coat, covered his red velvet pants both trimmed exquisitely in snow white fur. Shiny black boots peaked out from under the fluffy white cuffs.  He had a jolly round belly, with a  red hat whose cuff and ball were made of the same beautiful fur.  He read stories to the boys, did magic tricks and admonished them to listen to their Mom's or they'd get lumps of coal in their stockings.  As we drove away, we passed a red truck with a "Santa" design on the back.  The boys asked why Santa was driving a truck and not his sleigh. I told them that Santa's reindeer only flew on Christmas Eve, so he had to have a 4 wheel drive to get through the snow.  I felt a slight twinge of guilt from the dishonesty, but hey it's the magical season.  I've also been telling him the real reason we celebrate Christmas is because of Jesus' birth.  That Santa and the gifts came after Jesus, and they are not the reason for the season. He's trying to understand, he will, as he gets older.  It never hurts to lay down the foundation early!
When we came home, I decided to turn on some Christmas tunes to get me moving.  I tried my favorite radio Internet music station and really enjoyed listening to all the different types of music, they really warmed my heart and put me in the Christmas spirit, almost.  Songs like one by the Eels called "Christmas is going to the dogs.", or Johnny Cashs' version of "Blue Christmas". If those two don't send you to the ABC store, then a song by the Killers featuring Toni Halliday titled, "Big Red Sled" would. It's jolly story of Christmas tells of, "Santa handing out wine and guns." Where are my car keys? But wait! There's more! Billy Idol roared into the speakers with his ditty, "Screaming at the Christmas Tree", followed by the raspy falsetto from Queensryche singing, "White Christmas."  I noticed that of the songs I'd heard, none contained a wish list for Santa! That thought was soon shattered by the all to familiar sound of AC/DC, yes, AC/DC singing their tune, "Mistress for Christmas", followed by another Christmas wish by Chemical Romance, "All I want for Christmas is You".  This song, filled with angry, screaming voices, conjured a very unhappy Christmas picture of Santa, cowering in the corner while some rage filled rocker, in love, showered him with his desire for....well, you.  As if by the mere thought of anger, the next song on the list was by MxPx, very aptly titled, "Christmas Night of Zombies".  I'm gonna' have to change the channel, poking my minds eye out is not a reality.  Not to worry, Heart was up next with their English rendition of, "Ave Maria".  Following on their heels, Annie Lennox came to the party with her ballad, "See Amid the Winters Snow".   Exhausted from those and the many other, um, unorthodox, versions of Christmas tunes, I switched on the t.v., and sat down to drink coffee and watch cartoons with my son.  Cleaning, cooking, and dirty clothes were going to have to wait. 

My husband called to let me know he was on his way home, and he was hungry.  Ok, he's coming from Georgia, I've got 7 hours.  Plenty of time to cook a turkey dinner!  I had a 3lb turkey breast thawing in the fridge. I decided to have my favorite, sweet potatoes with some gingerbread flavored marshmallow's I found at the grocery.  Leave it to Paula Deen and me to make a perfectly healthy food into a, well, not so healthy food, but it sure is yummy!
You have to have cranberry with turkey and since I had extra blueberries, I decided to use them too.  As for stuffing, no.  I found my old Mayonnaise muffin recipe.  I wonder why I don't use it more, it's so simple and delicious.  Oh, now I remember, it's delicious.  Bread is the enemy if consumed in mass quantities, so nix on the Mayo Muffins frequent use, for me anyway! Not today, bring them on.  I will forgo the use of jam, just for the sake of conscience.

Here's my recipe for Turkey with orange oil:

1/2 cup olive oil
1 large orange
1 small lemon
1 tbl poultry seasoning
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp pepper
5 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 cup Moscato wine
1 3lb. boneless turkey breast

Pour the olive oil in a measuring glass, then add the poultry seasoning, thyme and pepper.  (don't worry about the oil and juices separating.  The citric acid will break down the oil so that all things will mix and stay mixed.  You can use vinegar to do this as well, for instance, oil and vinegar on a sub.  Add the vinegar first to help break down the oil.)
Take the lemon and the orange and roll across back and forth exerting moderate pressure to get the juices going, then put in the microwave for 15 to 30 seconds to further this along. 
Take out and juice into the oil and whisk together. 
Add 1/2 the wine
Let that sit, while you prepare the turkey. 
I always salt just the fat on the turkey, I don't want to dry the bird out.
Put the stalks of celery and some onion under the turkey, place the rest around it.
Pour  the rest of the wine in the pan
Pour the orange oil over the turkey, turning to cover it all.  Use all of it.
Make sure the turkey is fat side up

Cover with foil and bake in 325 oven for 2 hours, uncover.
Cook until the breast is cooked through.
Take out and cover in foil to keep warm.

NOTE: If you want, you can take the carrots, celery, onion and juices and use those to make a delicious gravy.  Place the veggies in a blender, blend until smooth.  In a heated skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter and add 2 tbl flour and mix until it starts to turn a caramel color, then add the blended mix and the juices until the consistancy of gravy.  If you wish, add some milk or half & half.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Cranberry/Blueberry sauce:

1 bag fresh cranberries
1 cup blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water

Boil the water, orange juice and sugar then add the cranberries and blueberries, mix well and let boil on medium heat, then let simmer until a gel like consistency. 

Gingerbread sweet potatoes:

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large orange, juiced
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tbl salted butter
milk or half&half
1/4 cup brown sugar
Gingerbread flavored marshmallows

You can bake the sweet potato or boil it, I chose to boil it for time's sake.
Add the orange juice to the water
About 1/2 way through the boiling, add the cinnamon.
When the potatoes are easily stabbed with a fork, pour out all the water
Add the brown sugar, milk and butter, mash well
While they potatoes are still hot, add the gingerbread marshmallow's and mix until melted

Mayonnaise Muffins:

1 cup self rising flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp sugar
1 heaping tablespoon of mayonnaise
Muffin tin

Heat oven to 400 degrees
Mix ingredients together and pour into prepared muffin tin, bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown
Serve hot, with butter and jam. YUM YUM!

My husband was very happy to come home to a nice turkey dinner, and he was so grateful he served the food and cleaned up afterwards.  How nice of him.  He said he enjoyed it and even though the little boy didn't seem to want to eat, he thought he enjoyed it too.  The little boy looked at me and nodded his head in agreement.  I love my guys! 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

You'll be "Russian" to make & drink this tea! YUM YUM

When I was a kid, I was blessed to have MANY wonderful Christmas memories.  Many of them made by my Mom and my "other" Mom, Martha.  She's my second Mom, because her daughter Angie and I have been best friends since we were little babies.  It's funny how smells can take you right back to a spot in time. Like you never left, and make you feel so warm and fuzzy, (or glad that you are in the present and NOT back in time. I like the first one better)  For instance the smell and taste of "Nilla Wafers" takes me back to the church nursery, where Angie's grandmother, Ma, took care of all the little ones during church. The smell of candle wax reminds me of the home made candles Mom and Justine use to make for the Christmas decorations at church.  Angie and I would go round after the Christmas service and dip our fingers in the melted wax so we'd have lovely painted fingernails, or so we imagined!  Another of those memories has to do with Russian tea and thankfully I have been able to carry that memory with me into the present. Going to Angie's house during Christmas was always a special treat because there would be Russian Tea (not to mention popcorn in a paper bag with cheese! yum yum).  The smell of oranges and cloves always takes me back to their kitchen and the little mason jar of Russian tea.  The jar was all swirly with colors of orange, brown, cinnamon and pale yellow, with a square of Christmas cloth tied around with a ribbon. Excuse me, when I get back from fixing myself some Russian Tea, I will continue.  Ok, I'm back.  Here is the recipe, I hope you all will enjoy it.  My little boy LOVES this tea, he wants it every night before he goes to bed now!
I will include some medicinal information at the bottom, as this tea is not only good, but good for you too! Can you believe it? Of course you can, I wouldn't lie to you!

1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp. of cardamon
1 1/2 cup sugar

1 2 qt. scoop of lemonade mix (I get the large lemonade mix and measure it out in the cap. I've never tried pink lemonade....if anyone does, let me know how it compares, ok?)
3/4 c instant black tea (I use decaf so I can drink it before bedtime)
1 1/4 cup Tang mix

Adjust the ingredients to your taste.  I always add more cinnamon and cloves.  Sometimes I leave out the cardamon, although it is a soothing flavor.

If you want to give some away as a gift, put it in a glass jar and layer each ingredient into the jar.  It is so pretty, even if it's all swirled together.  You could leave the mixing to the recipient though, since the presentation is so pretty with the ingredients layered. 

Store in an airtight container, as this will clump terribly if you don't.  Always shake it up a  bit before you get some out, since the heavier ingredients will sink to the bottom. 

Take 2 to 3 teaspoons (adjust to taste, duh) and add hot water.  You will love this tea.

Ok, medicinal stuff.  I didn't know this until I read an article in the March 2003 issue of  Prevention magazine, by Laura Goldstein. There was a recipe very like the one I gave.  Here is a summary of what she said regarding Russian tea as a cold cure:
Black tea and Cinnamon can reduce congestion and are "...antimicrobial and capable of inhibiting any bacteria that may be in your throat." , Lemon juice thins mucous secretions, Tang has 100% viatmin C,  cloves can deaden sore throat pain and are also antimicrobial. 

My sister is a bee keeper (she has a blog as well, Jam Cakes and Juleps) and she told me that honey is also antimicrobial as well as a humectant.  What's that you ask, well so did I?  Humectant, she told me, means it holds in moisture.  So if you have a cough or sore throat, you can take a teaspoon of honey. It will soothe the throat, keep it from drying out and getting all scratchy, as well as kill any germs.  If you have a cut and nothing to put on it, dab a bit of honey on it to keep it from getting infected until you can get a topical ointment.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pork roast & Acorn squash

It's been a while since I've been posted on my blog. Let me start by wishing you all a Merry Christmas.

I made a pork roast when my Good-sister Robin came to visit with her new husband, Lewis. They raved over it. So I thought I would post the recipe. I must say it was pretty good!

Picnic Pork roast








2 chicken bullion cubes (reduced sodium)


salt and pepper

2 cups water

olive oil

Slow cooker (crock pot)

I put the bullion cubes, chopped onion and garlic cloves, celery, rosemary, carrots, & water in the bottom of the crock pot and turned on high while I braised the roast. (Braising means you brown all sides in a hot skillet with oil, before you cook the meat. It can be done with any kind of meat. It locks in the juices.)

I then rubbed salt into the fat of the roast (not all over, just into the fat). I put the braised roast in the crock pot, fat side up. I put the thyme and more pepper on top of the roast and poured a little oil over it. I then quartered the apples (any kind) and stuffed them around the roast. The water should be about 1/2 up the side of the roast, if not add a touch more until it is. You want the apples to cook in the water so the juices cook into the meat.

I put the lid on and left the temperature setting on high for 2 hours, then reduced to low for 4-6 more hours, depending on how big the roast is. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the meat is cooked through before you eat it.

When the roast is done, it should come apart easily with a fork. So delicious.

I served with mashed potatoes, corn and Acorn squash with apple raisin filling. Acorn squash is one of my favorite "go to" veggies in the fall and winter. At the grocery, almost all the cashiers ask me what it is and what do you do with it, some people in line ask too. It's funny, but the squash does look like an acorn and intimidates people. My mom made this for us all the time, it's comfort food to me. I have heard many complicated recipes for acorn squash, this one is so easy!

Acorn Squash:

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Cut the squash in two pieces and throw the seeds away.

In a baking dish, add about 1/2 inch water, then put the acorn squash in, skin side UP

Bake in oven for 1 hour (or until the squash is soft. You can check this by pushing on the skin with your finger, if it leaves a dent, it's done)

Pull the squash out, take out of dish and put (skin side down, looks like a bowl) on a serving dish. Put in a pat of butter and brown sugar to taste, carefully scrape the squash from the skin and mix well.

Leave the skin on and it will serve as a bowl, looks very pretty. (just don't eat the skin)

Apple raisin filling:

While the squash is baking:

Cut apples (any kind, I like red delicious or gala) into small pieces and put into a sauce pan with melted butter. Allow to cook a few minutes in the butter, then add some orange juice, raisins, Cinnamon, nutmeg, or even cranberries to the pan and let cook. If you need more juice, add apple juice or some water. Cook until the apples are soft.

When the acorn squash is ready (with butter and brown sugar) spoon apple raisin mixture into them and serve with your choice of veggies. Like I said, I used mashed potatoes and corn.