Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An X Rated Post

The letter X is the star of the show on Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday. What an Xcellent choice (as if everyone else hasn't thought of this)!

What can we say about letter 24?
It can sound like a Z,
but there's so much more.

Pirate booty on an isle,
The spot, it can mark.
Or a sweet little peck,
A kiss, in the dark.

If you can't write your name,
An X, it will do.
It can also let you know,
that 10 is five times two.
5 x 2 = 10

It can tell the time,
Could it be 10?
Or an unknown value,
It's math once again!
5x + 36 = 46

Keep the kids far away,
If it's on the marquee.
There's nothing going on
that they need to see.

You might call the doctor,
just in case there's a cure.
But if there's two on the eyes,
He's a goner for sure,
( xx )

Anyway you use it,
Mr. X is very dear,
If you bring two together,
it just might be beer!

Beer. Hmmm, gives me a thought. Gotta go, see you next Thursday.

music link
map image
marquee image link
beer link

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Big Pot of Gumbo

A Big Pot of Gumbo!

Gumbo Ingredients
Rice (optional)

There are separate ingredients for stock and for the gumbo. The stock veges will be discarded- not used for the gumbo. The roux ingredients are included in the Gumbo section. The chicken in the stock will be stripped and put into the Gumbo.

Gumbo is great over rice, most seem to eat it this way. Prepare the type of rice you prefer for the number of people you anticipate eating Gumbo. If you use rice, this recipe will feed more than if not combining with rice. We served at least 8 - 10 bowls and still have plenty of left overs, using rice.

We saw the initial recipe in Emeril Lagasse's Every Day's A Party cookbook, but I have to warn you, there seems to be a misprint. There were ingredients that were not used, so we changed it a bit. This basic recipe is not very spicy, because you often have people with different tastes, so we add the majority of the zing at the end. I don't do hot, hot. My husband likes scorching hot food.

Stock Ingredients
1 hen (6 lbs approx)
8 cups water
2 medium size yellow onions, quartered
2 ribs celery cut into big chunks
2 bay leaves (remove before serving)
1 TBL salt (tablespoon)
1 tsp cayenne pepper

Gumbo Ingredients

1 1/2 C all purpose flour (for roux)
1 1/2 C vegetable oil (for roux)

2 C chopped yellow onions
1 C chopped green pepper
1 C chopped celery
1/2 lb ground andouille finely chopped
1 lb smoked sausage cut crosswise into 1/4 in thick slices

Optional Toppings
2 TBL chopped green onions
2 TBL fresh parsley (or dried)
File' powder
Creole seasoning

To Make the Roux
Make the roux (Roo) first so it has time to cool. You can't add hot, straight roux to hot ingredients, even tempering it can be tricky in this case.

This is a one to one ratio fat to flour.
In this case, 1 1/2 cups oil and 1 1/2 cups flour.

You can use any fat- butter, animal fat, vegetable fat. Whatever you have but remember, the fat adds flavor. If you use lard it will have a porky taste. If we were making turkey gravy we actually make a roux so it is nice and smooth. We skim the fat off the drippings which adds turkey flavor. In the case of gumbo, corn oil has a higher smoke point with a neutral flavor so it is good for the roux. The roux is the key to the flavor. Cook over a very LOW heat. Do not become impatient- a bad roux results in a bad gumbo.

A GOOD roux requires constant stirring and cooking until just the exact moment when the roux becomes just about chocolate brown. It can burn easily so be very careful. The darker it is the less it thickens. Gumbo roux should be thick but still flow. We don't want gravy (a lighter roux) so we take it to a darker stage. See how white it starts out.

Starting Out- very white.

Just about done-chocolate.

It's just about done when it gets this shade of brown, it will burn quickly so be very careful. It will take on a different smell, and you will know you are close. The skillet will still be hot so you can turn it off just before it's "done" and keep stirring.

The Stock

Add all the stock ingredients into a pot, cooking over medium heat until tender.
Remove the solids and set chicken aside.
Discard vegetables- their flavor has been transferred to the stock.

Bringing it Together

Prepare the trinity (celery, onions, green pepper):
In a skillet add the cold or room temperature roux, andouille, chopped celery, onions and green pepper, cook over medium heat until the onions clear.
Now that the roux is mixed with the vegetables, you can add the roux to the stock.
Cook on low heat for about two hours.

Pull the chicken off the bone and add it to the stock.
Add the the link sausage and let it cook at least a half hour until heated through.

Preparing the Vegetables and Roux

Adding the Chicken and Sausage

The Bowl

Top with the green onions and parsley, if desired or with some file' powder (pronounced fee-lay) It is ground sassafras leaves that thickens the gumbo as well as flavors it. If you have added any okra to your gumbo, you might not want the file' since that would be double thickeners.

You may want to spice it up with some Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning sprinkled on top.

Tony Chachere's Link

Some Stages of Roux

Stages of Roux- some say there are 12-15 definite states of roux, this link provides a few of them.

The BLONDE stage is a carmel color, and is usually reached after about 2 minutes. This is the most common stage, for your average sauces. Say a Veloute or a basic gravy.

The MEDIUM is a shade darker than the blond, and usually not used too often. It is great if you want to add a bit of darker color to a basic gravy.

The CHOCOLATE will actually be the darkest before the roux is pretty much useless. (there is a darker, Brick stage, but honestly, the chocolate stage is just fine for 99% of your needs). It will have a light nutty scent to it and be, obviously, chocolate in color.

roux link

Smoke and Olives

Today I am linked up with Jenny Matlock's Saturday Centus

As some of you might have read in my profile, I used to write, years and years ago. You probably know the type- editor of my high school paper, editor of the college paper, submitted works for the literary magazine and yearbook, worked for college credit and then was hired by the weekly small town paper writing features and editing the business page. I had thoughts of going into journalism but one thing led to another and I took a different direction.

My blog, especially the early writings, was supposed to be an opportunity to dabble creatively again, since I'm horribly out of practice, but I decided instead to learn some of the skills that we've seemed to have lost over the last fifty years or so. I don't think it will be long before we will need them again. This will continue to be the main theme of the blog but I may post in the challenge now and again so you will see some posts that are out of the ordinary.

Jenny has a weekly writing challenge, it might be lyrics like last week or dialogue like this week, but they always have a twist. A theme, a word count,etc.

Here it is guys - This week's rules:

Total word count not to exceed 156 words.
THE PROMPT THIS WEEK IS: "Are you seriously ordering another martini?"

“Geez, I’m so tired of these wannabe lounge singers. The guy’s gotta be working for tips.” “Hey darling, bring me another, olives this time.”

“Are you seriously ordering another martini?”

“Sure, why not? Five, six, what’s the difference?”

“Good, I need another myself. Hey, gotta light?”

“Nope, don’t smoke. Those things’ll kill you. Here, use the candle, might as well be good for something, it sure doesn’t light the place up much.”

“Thanks. Crap, the candle went out. Where’s that waitress?”

“She probably can’t see us. The smoke’s bad enough and here you go and snuff out the candle.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“So, what is it with you?” “Why are you wasting your time in this place? You’re a pretty girl, you can do better.”

“I don’t know. Sometimes, I guess, it’s . . . just the way things are.”

“Well, honey, that works for me.”

“Well, glad it works for someone. Oh, here’s the waitress.”

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Deer: Food Plot to Kitchen Pot

Deer season approaches so we are prepping to bring in the tasty little guys. I've discovered that deer is so much better, not as fatty or gristly as beef, in fact it's my meat of choice from spaghetti sauce to tacos. This year we're going all out to get a few since it will be our meat source for the winter- both healthy and economical!

Our neighbor, Rick, decided to make a couple of food plots with his tractor and this spring tooth harrow that breaks up the soil in preparation for planting.

You can see what the property looked like to start. This is my brother-in-law's land, next to ours. He hasn't moved in yet so it was a great place to create the plot.

The harrow does a pretty good job.

Rick selected the seed.

We have a tree stand located not too far away.

A battery operated feeder is placed along the deer path that runs behind our house.

The new gravity feeders will be placed accordingly. Due to our state laws, we will have to remove the feeders before actually hunting, but they will get the deer interested in the area in the meantime.

This is hopefully the end result- Deer: from Plot to Pot!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Taylor's Quilt

Getting closer! Taylor's quilt is nearly complete.

I picked up this Laurel Burch inspiration fabric: Celestial Dreams- Dreamland in blue. It's extremely whimsical and full of intense color. Click to enlarge.

I had to find a backing that could stand up in intensity to the inspiration fabric and various other patterns included in the quilt. I stopped into In Stitches (Ballwin, MO) and immediately saw this newly arrived fabric. It's not part of her collection; however, it works perfectly. I wish I could convey the actual colors- very intense.

I used a batik, variegated from pink to purple, for the sashing. It may also serve as the binding since the color variation can be manipulated by piecing.

Part of my plan was not to be the predictable me. I love the darker colors and would have had a perfect pattern with complete symmetry. Not here. A piece of inspiration fabric for each block and mess up the pattern so it isn't perfect. I love the sun faces. It also has pretty cats.

It was only supposed to be a lap quilt but then I just kept making blocks. That's why I can't quilt it on my machine, it's too big. I'm taking it to someone with a long arm quilting machine. She's retired and not too booked up. I intend for it to be a very simple pantograph since there is so much going on in the quilt. Taylor's birthday is Nov 8. I should have it back by then but if not it will be her Christmas present. Either way, I think she will like it.

I need to get my machine serviced- the presser foot won't clamp down tight. It's a Pfaff Creative, an older one that will also do embroidery, although I have not tired it. There is no way to remove the piece where the "gunk" is trapped so in for a cleaning it will go. That's probably ok since I've had it for 10 years and it was used when I purchased it.

Fabric is really going up in price. In Stitches is trying to keep the price down as much as possible. This one was a little over $10 per yard but some of the new fabric coming in is pricing elsewhere at $12 or $13 a yard or better! I'm glad I've got a stash, but I'm still sorely lacking in solids. I'll have to scout around.

Just an update- I can't wait to see the finished product.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Homemade Deer Feeder

As fall approaches the guys start gearing up for hunting season, hoping to stock up meat for the winter. My husband has a battery operated deer feeder which works off and on so he wanted something more reliable that he could make himself and didn't have a lot of bells and whistles. He designed this model based on a similar plan on the internet, modifying it to break it down for post season storage. If all goes well, everything will come apart and fold up into the tube.

Materials gathered, he and our neighbor, Rick, began making the feeders.

Materials needed
six inch pvc pipe- 10 foot length
two 8 foot 2X4 treated boards cut to 30 inch lengths
An 8 foot section of 1X8 white wood
Caps for the PVC pipe
2 5/8 dowels
2 carriage bolts
nuts and washers
orange marking paint
assorted spray paints (cammo)
chop saw
drill (3/4 bit)
hole saw- one inch bit
A friend to help

He purchased a 10 ft long, six inch pvc pipe to make two feeders and have enough left over to make a third later.

He cut them to size - about 36 inches long.

Using an extra piece of pvc as a template, he cut out two discs. One will be used as a base and one for the plunger.

They then routed out the boards about halfway through using a 3/4 inch straight cutter bit. The mortise is 3 5/8 inches wide.

It should look like this on each board.

Interlock the boards.

Locate the center and drill a hole to accommodate the carriage bolt.

Drill a hole in ONE of the discs, the one for the base.

This is a close up of the bolt.

Position the carriage bolt under the base and through the disc on top of the base.

Pre drill holes in four sides of the tube.

Position the tube on top of the base and position screws through the pipe and into the disc.

Drill holes in opposite sides of the tube. This will let the feed fall through. Our holes were a little big- based on the internet directions. A better size is about an inch.

It should look like this (with smaller holes, our was too big at 2 inches)

Drill a hole through the top of the cap to accommodate the dowel. The dowel should be able to slide up and down.

Hire small children to sand the tube in preparation for the paint.

They are not very fast but they work cheap.

Using paint that blends into your surroundings, spray the tube top to bottom.

Attach the dowel to the second disc. This will be slipped into the tube on top of the feed you load, such as corn. Paint the tip a bright orange color so you will be able to tell when the feed is low. The disc will start sliding down the tube as the deer feed. When the orange tip reaches the top of the cap, it's time to refill.

Position the feeder in an appropriate place. You may want to support it with rocks. This will stabilize it plus disguise the base.

Sneak down and watch it attract the wildlife!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday Centus Over at Jenny Matlock

This is my entry for Jenny Matlock's Saturday Centus

Theme/Prompt: In the Autumn
Melody: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Style: Lyrics, rhyming
Word Count: 32 Max

Pumpkins, Pumpkins

In the Autumn pumpkins grow,

Tendrils stretching to and fro.

Soon, frost is on its way,

Jack-o’lanterns for a day.

Pumpkin's, pumpkin's pretty row,

How I love to watch you grow.

(Jack-o-lantern is one word per the dictionary- hope it's right or I'm over!)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Keeping Spices Organized

They all laugh at me, I guess I deserve it. Yes, I have an excel sheet in my spice cupboard that lists all my spices and the corresponding tub posted inside my cabinet.

One list is in alphabetic order:
Cinnamon Container #
Dill Weed Container #
Dry Mustard Container #
Garlic Container # (you get the idea)

The next list is in tub order

Container 1
list of spices

Container 2
list of spices


Each bottle has a number on the top.
Each tub has a number on the end facing out.

I know where to find my spices and where they should be returned.

Believe me, the rest of the house isn't so organized. I'd better start.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Solutions for Vacuum Sealing Dehydrated Foods

As an update from Foodsaver:

Some dry foods have the potential to puncture FoodSaver bags.

For these items, you may:

1. Use FoodSaver Canisters or mason jars
2. Use a paper towel as padding for dried foods with a puncture potential when using FoodSaver Bags.

Since the point was to have lightweight meals I can store at work, I hope the paper towels work.