Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mixed Vegetable Mornay


Mixed Vegetable Mornay
Here is another holiday classic from our household to yours--mixed vegetable mornay!  You may ask what is so special about a mixed vegetable casserole?  Well, this one is like last week's broccoli cheese casserole, rich and delicious; not light fare by any means.  That is why we only have it during the holidays.  It makes a very nice accompaniment to ham or turkey.  The original recipe I have called for croutons, but we use dried bread stuffing cubes and drizzle some butter on them to help them brown.  Like the broccoli casserole, this one came from my mother-in-law and to honor my husband's family heritage we have it every year.  This one is by far his favorite!  Enjoy!
-Nanette

MORNAY VEGETABLES

1 (16 oz.) pkg. frozen mixed vegetables
3/4 stick plus 2 tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
Dash nutmeg
Flavored miniature croutons or plain dry bread cubes used for stuffing.
1 pt. half and half cream

Cook vegetables in 1/4 cup water with 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons butter and dash garlic salt. Simmer 2 minutes. Drain vegetables but save liquid. Melt 3/4 stick butter, then add flour. Add enough cream to liquid saved to make 2 cups liquid.Slowly add the 2 cups liquid to butter mixture. Add Parmesan cheese, 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt and nutmeg.  Mix with vegetables. Grease casserole with 2 tablespoons butter. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Garnish with croutons half way through baking.


 Before baking.

 Once the croutons are added.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

BROCCOLI CHEESE CASSEROLE
I'm warning you up front.  This recipe is not healthy, low calorie, low fat, or low anything, but it is DELICIOUS!  We only make it once a year.  I never made it or heard of it until I married my husband thirty five years ago.  It was a standard his mother made during the holidays, so I continue the tradition and make it each Thanksgiving.  The past two years we have been away from home at Christmas time so I always make a little extra and freeze it to take with us for Christmas.  The only way you can possibly justify eating this much butter and cheese is that you are combining it with a GREEN VEGETABLE!

The recipe is simple, easy, and very good.  The leftovers even warm up very nicely in the microwave.  If you are looking for somethings a little different, give it a try!  Olivia and I love it.  Hope you will too!
-Nanette

Combine the following in a bowl:
6 T. flour
One stick melted butter (cooled slightly so it doesn't cook the eggs)
6 beaten eggs
8 ounces of cubed Velveeta cheese
16 ounces of cottage cheese
2 10 ounce packages or just 20 ounces of chopped frozen broccoli that has been thawed in the microwave

Mix all of this thoroughly and place it in a well greased casserole dish or 9 X 13 glass baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Bread

LEMON BLUEBERRY BREAD

Our church has a ministry aimed at newcomers.  After they visit us, we deliver to them a basket that includes a loaf of homemade bread.  I was called yesterday and asked to bake two loaves.  I looked for a recipe that had things I have on hand normally.  Each summer Olivia and I either pick fresh blueberries ourselves or buy them in bulk for freezing.  I decided to go with this delightful lemon blueberry recipe I found on allrecipes.com .  I made one minor adjustment.  I did not use the nuts because some folks have nut allergies and I used powdered sugar for the glaze instead of regular sugar.  The bread made the house smell wonderful.  If you need a small gift for someone this holiday season, this might make a good choice or have it for a quick breakfast during this busy, festive season.  I'm thinking about trying it using strawberries or maybe even small pieces of peaches. Be creative!
-Nanette


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8x4 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat together butter, 1 cup sugar, juice and eggs. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture alternately with milk. Fold in lemon zest, nuts, and blueberries. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl. Remove bread from pan and drizzle with glaze. Cool on a wire rack.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Provolone Stuffed Meatballs

HOLIDAY MEATBALLS!
Olivia and I usually try to update our blog weekly, but recently that didn't happen.  The reason was the death of my father-in-law and Olivia's grandfather at the age of 95.  Had he lived until Christmas Eve he would have celebrated his 70th wedding anniversary with my mother-in-law.  They were married at Fort Knox during World War II.  Oddly enough, his death and funeral were punctuated with nourishing moments where food was involved.  Friends brought us soups and stews at home and brought food to the visitation for us to snack on in between visiting times.

We found ourselves nourished both physically and spiritually during this time.  Whether it involves major life events, holidays, or special occasions, food finds its way into the heart of life.  Each time we now eat stew or soup we will recall the kindness of those who share our journey through life.

Food feeds our memories, our hearts, and our very souls.  This holiday season look at food in a new way--a way that connects you to others and life itself.

Making these meatballs may start a new holiday tradition.  They are great for appetizers, a buffet, with pasta, or even in sandwiches.  Enjoy their versatility and enjoy one another this holiday season.
-Nanette



Provolone Stuffed Meatballs

2 lbs. 95% lean ground beef
2 lbs. Italian sausage
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
3 tablespoons dried minced onions
3 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons garlic infused red wine vinegar
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
3 eggs, whisked
1 lb. Provolone cheese, cut in 50 small cubes

Mix the beef and sausage together by hand in a large bowl.  Add in the garlic, onions, Italian seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, Italian bread crumbs, and eggs.  Mix until combined, but do not over mix.  Take a golf bowl sized size piece of the mixture, and press a cube of Provolone cheese in to the center of it.  Pinch the meat around the cube so the entire piece of cheese is covered.  Place meatball on parchment lined baking sheet and freeze until solid.  Transfer meatballs to freezer safe plastic bags for long term storage.

To prepare to eat:  Thaw as many meatballs as you need for a meal in the refrigerator, preferably overnight.  Place a cookie cooling rack on a cookie sheet (or jelly roll pan) with edges around the entire sheet.  Place the thawed meatballs on top of the cooling rack and bake at 350 degrees for 15-25 minutes, until the meatballs are golden brown and cooked through.  The cooking time will really depend on the size of your meatballs and how well thawed they are before baking them.  Throw them on top of a bed of pasta with tomato sauce, and you have an easy dinner!




Sunday, November 4, 2012

Spiced Pumpkin Custard Pie

It's Pumpkin Pie Time!

I started thinking the other day about all the different smells associated with seasonal foods and I realized those smells are almost as appealing as the taste and texture of the food.  In spring we gravitate toward the fresh sharp smells of micro greens, lettuce, green onions, peas, etc.  In summer we are drawn to the smell of grilled meats, vegetables, and the aroma only given by a vine-ripened tomato.  Fall offers the rich bold flavors of smoked meats, the earthy smell of root vegetables, and the steamy scent of comfort filled soups.  Of course the nose could not round out the aromatic year without the plethora of tempting spices, sugars, and yeasty goodness of holiday baked goods.  

Close your eyes for a moment and remember what Thanksgiving smells like.  I'll bet a pumpkin pie comes to mind somewhere in there.  Here is an out-of-this world pumpkin pie recipe Olivia made.  Just look at the crust ingredients and you will be ready to give it a try.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  Remember to savor the smell before you devour it!
Nanette





Spiced Pumpkin Custard Pie

Ingredients

:CRUST:
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons shortening
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon ice water
  • FILLING:
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • Whipped cream, optional
  • Additional ground cinnamon, optional

Directions

  • Place pecans in a food processor; cover and process until finely ground. In a large bowl, combine the pecans, flour, ginger and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture is crumbly. Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Press dough onto the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9-in. pie plate.
  • For filling, in a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, spices and salt until smooth. Beat in pumpkin. Gradually beat in milk. Pour into crust.
  • Bake at 400° for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cover edges with foil during the last 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning if necessary. Cool on a wire rack. Garnish with whipped cream and additional cinnamon if desired. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 8 servings.
Recipe from "Taste of Home" Magazine" (November 2011)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cascading Into Fall Flavors

Sweet and Savory Fall Side Dish
Each season has its food traditions for both of us.  Fall means sweet apples, sweet potatoes, turnips, and smoked meats.  When we travel to Brown County Indiana in October, Olivia and I make it a point to travel to Trafalgar to the Apple Werks orchard.  It is a fun, extraordinary place.  Going there is such a treat because it is obvious a pilgrimage there is a family tradition for many folks.  In addition to fresh, sweet, tart and just plain delicious apples, they have cider, dumplings, doughnuts, cakes, pies, sauces, dressings, and u-pick pumpkins.  They even have a petting zoo where a kid-at-heart like myself can feed alpacas, donkeys, and sheep.  We always come home with perfect apple treats and a lot of wonderful memories.

Our local farmer's market is winding down this month so we are taking advantage of getting all the squash, turnips, sweet potatoes, etc. that we will enjoy well into November.  To add to these wonderful fall flavors, we of course use meat from our favorite butcher shop--Mattern's in Goshen, IN.  It is a family owned business that features the very best meats we have ever had.  My personal favorite is their smoked pork chops.  They are second to none and I would choose one over a steak any day (but their steaks are great too!).  Try this perfect fall side dish Olivia made with a good smoked pork chop.  Your mouth is guaranteed to water from the flavor packed, texture filled goodness!
-Nanette

Sweet Potato, Apple, Onion, and Pecan Mixture

Perfect Fall Side Dish

Ingredients:
3/4 cups quinoa
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup pecans
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium sized sweet potato, peeled and diced into cubes
1 medium red onion, chopped into small pieces
1 red apple, unpeeled and diced
1 Granny Smith apple, unpeeled and diced

Directions:

In a small pot, combine quinoa and water.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat.  Simmer until the water has evaporated and quinoa is fluffy, about 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in salt, pepper, and cinnamon.  Pour the quinoa in a large serving bowl and set aside.

While the quinoa cooks, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sweet potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the red onion and cook for another 3 minute.  Add both kinds of chopped apple and continue cooking about 3 minutes until apple is fork tender.  Add the pecans and cook just a couple of minutes longer.

Add the sweet potato mixture to the quinoa, stir, and serve immediately!  This is a  perfect side dish for just about any meat, but especially pork!



Sunday, October 14, 2012

Microwave Caramels

We just came back from a great trip to Brown County Indiana.  If you have never been to this fall vacation destination, you are missing a fun experience.  Seeing the beautiful fall color, the plethora of pumpkins, and eating seasonal delights puts us in the mood for Halloween and upcoming holiday goodies.  This recipe does bring to mind caramel apples, candy corn, and the like.

It is that wonderful time of year when sweet treats complement the menu for parties and your favorite goblins.  This one is easy and will satisfy the sweetest tooth.  Olivia found it at www.food.com and tried it.  The results were exceptional.  You can make these in seasonal cups you find in kitchen supply shops.  Making a sweet and tasty homemade treat was never so easy!
-Nanette

Microwave Caramels

Recipe from:  www.food.com


Ingredients

    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 1/2 cup white sugar
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup light Karo syrup
    • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Cook 6 minutes, stirring every two minutes.
  3. Stir and pour into lightly greased dish.
  4. Let cool.
  5. Cut, wrap in wax paper & store in air tight container.
    Caramel being poured into candy cups on top of peanuts...

    Finished chocolate, peanut caramels!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Canning Carrots


Canned Carrots

Canning season will soon be winding down (unless you count the meat sales we've been finding and canning those) but you can still find a great number of root vegetables to can and enjoy later this winter.  Carrots are one of my favorites.  I have a favorite vendor at the farmers market who raises the most remarkable carrots. They are sweet, tender, and never woody.  I have to warn you that once you have canned your own carrots, you will never want to eat another canned carrot from the store.  I am not usually a culinary snob, but believe me THERE IS A DIFFERENCE.  Olivia and I both canned carrots this summer and will be enjoying the delicious rewards long after the first snow flies.  If you have never canned before, carrots are a good introduction.  They are easy.  Join the fun!
-Nanette

Makes 1 pint per each 1 1/2 pounds of carrots

You will need:


1 to 1-1/2 lb (about 6 to 9 medium with 1- to 1 1/2-inch diameter) carrots per pint jar
Salt, optional
Water
Pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

Directions:

1.) PREPARE pressure canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
2.) WASH peel carrots. Wash again. Cut carrots into slices or leave whole.
3.) PACK carrots tightly into hot jars leaving 1 inch headspace. Add 1 tsp salt to each quart jar, 1/2 tsp to each pint jar, if desired.
4.) LADLE boiling water over carrots leaving 1 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.
5.) PROCESS filled jars in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure 25 minutes for pints, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Michael Symon's Italian Pork

MICHAEL SYMON'S ITALIAN PORK

Olivia saw this recipe on the television show, "The Chew."  She made it and fell in love with it.  Instead of pork tenderloin on skewers she substituted pork chops,  She also had leftover pine nut mixture that she used on a salad as a warm dressing.  Mouth watering yet?  You have to love recipes that easily morph into something else!  Makes leftovers so much more interesting and appealing don't you think?  You are going to want to try this one!
-Nanette

Michael Symon's Italian Pork

Ingredients:


1 pound Pork Tenderloin (cut into 1-inch cubes)
1/2 cup Pine Nuts
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Golden Raisins (soaked in water for 30 minutes and then drained)
2 cloves Garlic (sliced)
Juice and Zest of 1 Orange
1/2 Bunch Parsley (leaves only)
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

1 pound arugula
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
pinch of crushed red pepper chile flakes


Skewers
salt and pepper


Directions:


1) Soak 6-inch skewers in warm water with a sprinkle of salt for at least half an hour.

2) Preheat grill or grillpan to medium-high.

3) Skewer the pork tenderloin cubes, and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side

4) Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the pine nuts and fry. Once golden brown, add the garlic, raisins, Orange Zest and Juice, and chili flakes and combine. Remove from heat, add the parsley, and pour the sauce over the skewers to serve.

5) Toss arugula with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and serve with skewers.

This is the warm raisin, pine nut, and orange juice mixture in the pan.

Warm pine nut mixture piled on a pork chop...  
(I seriously wish I could eat this meal again right now.  It is THAT good! -Olivia)

Left over raisin, pine nut mixture makes a DELICIOUS warm salad dressing the next day.



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sloppy Joe Casserole

SLOPPY JOE CASSEROLE
Yesterday was the first official day of fall and when fall comes, we think of warm comfort food to help us through the transition.  This recipe certainly fills the bill.  Best of all, it is kid friendly, because what kid doesn't like sloppy joes and tater tots?  Olivia came up with this fabulous combination and I'm sure it is delicious.  It is just  the thing to take the chill off during some cool autumn night.  Hope you like it!
-Nanette


Sloppy Joe Casserole

1 pound of lean ground beef
3/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons dried, minced onions
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of black pepper
1 small package of tater tots
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1)  Brown the ground beef in a medium skillet over medium high heat and drain off any remaining fat in the pan.
2)  Mix in the ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, dried onions, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper to the ground beef.  Cook it over medium heat for a few minutes until completely combined.
3)  Pour the mixture into an 8" x 8" pan and arrange (or pile on...nothing says you have to line your tater tots up in perfect lines! :)) your tater tots on top.
4)  Bake the casserole at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, or until the tater tots begin to brown.
5)  Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the tater tots, and bake for another five minutes until the cheese is melted.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

CANNING MEXICAN CORN

CANNED MEXICAN CORN
If you like home canned corn, you will love making it into Mexican corn.  Mexican corn makes a nice side dish for Mexican night at your house.  You can even make scalloped corn with it for a little extra something, and if you like corn in your cornbread, try adding a drained jar of this to it.  You will love it.  Olivia whipped up this batch recently and boy is it good!
-Nanette

Start w ith clean fresh corn



Like this!


Olivia uses a cool trick of inverting a jar in the bottom of the bowl and then using the jar bottom as a stand for the corn ear while she is cutting.  The cut corn falls to the side and keeps things nice and tidy.


  Fresh cut corn.








You are going to mix different colored peppers and whatever type of pepper you want depending upon how spicy you want it and diced onion.


Heat and sterilize your canning jars in your pressure canner.


Heat the lids slightly to soften the rubber seals

Use your funnel, fill the jars to within 1/2 an inch, cover the corn with hot water, add a little salt and wipe clean the jar rim before covering with a hot lid and ring.
Process 85 minutes at 10 pounds pressure and wait for the music all home canning lovers live to hear...the sound of jars "pinging" so you know the lid  is sealed. 

Canned Mexican Corn


Recipe adapted from:  Ball Website www.freshpreserving.com

You will need:
3 lb corn in husks (about 4 ears) per pint jar
3 medium purple onions, chopped
3 colorful bell peppers, chopped (You may use green, yellow, orange, or red peppers.)
2 hot peppers, chopped (You may use any kind you like.)
Water
Salt, optional
Glass preserving jars with lids and bands

Directions:
1.) PREPARE pressure canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
2.) HUSK corn and remove silk. Wash corn cobs. Cut corn from cob.
3.) MIX in chopped onion and peppers
4.) SPOON corn and liquid into hot jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. Add 1/2 tsp salt to each jar, if desired.  Cover the corn mixture with boiling water, still leaving 1 inch headspace.
5.) REMOVE air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding more corn and hot liquid. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.
6.) PROCESS filled jars in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure for 85 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Canning Potatoes

HOME CANNED POTATOES
Home canning potatoes is a great way to avoid peeling potatoes on a day when you really want something home cooked, but don't want to go to all of that bother.  By canning your own potatoes, you can have mashed potatoes whenever you like, have a quick side dish, or even have a  head start on making homemade potato soup.  I have grown and canned my own potatoes in years past.  This year Olivia grew and canned her own potatoes.  She will no doubt reap the rewards this winter.  If you have ever wanted to give this a whirl, here are the instructions.  Enjoy yourself!
-Nanette

Procedure: 

1)  Wash and peel potatoes. Place in water to prevent darkening. If desired, cut into 1/2-inch cubes. 

2)  Drain. Cook 2 minutes in boiling water and drain again. For whole potatoes, boil 10 minutes and drain. 



3)  Sterile your jars by immersing them  in hot boiling water.




4)  Fill jars with hot prepared potatoes, leaving no more than 1-inch headspace.  



5)  Add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart to the jar, if desired. 

6)  Cover hot potatoes with FRESH boiling water, leaving 1-inch headspace and covering all pieces of potato. 



7)  Process quart jars for 40 minutes at 11 pounds pressure.

8)  When the canner and jars are completely cooled, remove them from the canner, dry them, and label.  


Enjoy your potatoes!








Sunday, August 26, 2012

Prize Winning Salsa Recipe

Prize Winning Rainbow Salsa
 A few years ago Olivia started buying heirloom tomato plants for me as part of my Mother's Day present.  It started a love of heirloom tomato varieties for me.  Knowing how much I enjoy them, Olivia suggested she and I attend the Heirloom Tomato Festival in Pierceton, IN last weekend so I could get my fill of all things related to heirloom tomatoes.  What started out to be a nice little outing for me ended up being a red letter day for Olivia too!

The festival was a quaint, quintessentially small town gathering of vendors selling products relating to tomatoes and some not so related.  We listened to a talk on beekeeping and even stumbled upon a wonderful booth selling vintage linens. 

The real excitement came when we wandered into the old train depot and found out they were having a "chopped" style salsa making competition.  Potential contenders could sign up and and have fifteen minutes to complete their salsa creations.  Unlike the Food Network version, ingredients were not presented to the competitors in baskets, but rather a table with numerous ingredients the contestants could choose from once the clock started ticking.  When finished, four judges sampled the results.

After some encouragement on my part, Olivia decided to enter the competition.  I really thought she would have a decent shot at winning since she knows well that people eat with their eyes first.  She picked colorful ingredients that made beautiful salsa!  I knew when she added pineapple, black beans, and plenty of pepper and hot sauce that she was as they say, "in it to win it."  

Against what looked like three other very good salsa offerings...Olivia's won!  She won tickets to a musical production in Middlebury and the title (one I gave her) of Heirloom Tomato Salsa Queen!  :)

We had so much fun at this small town festival.  We created fun memories and a fantastic salsa!



Olivia's beautiful salsa creation!
Olivia concentrating on her salsa.


Rainbow Salsa

2 red heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1 yellow heirloom tomato, chopped
1 small purple onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 jalapenos, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
2 small gypsy (sweet) peppers, chopped
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, slightly drained
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained
3 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
sprinkle of Kosher salt
dash of black pepper
juice of 1 lime
dash of hot sauce

Combine all of the above ingredients and serve immediately.  For a more blended flavor, allow to refrigerate for 30 minutes.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Canning Awards

Best of Show and Other Great Canning Stories
My great grandmother Smith was a short stout woman who wore sensible shoes, thin white anklet socks, sensible dresses, dark rimmed glasses and wore her hair in a bun.  I can remember visiting her farm over fifty years ago.  A wood fired furnace provided heat in the living room--always and warmest room in the house, and then heat radiated in various degrees from there.  It was a plain, utilitarian place, but cozy and inviting nonetheless.  Grandma Smith was a great cook, seamstress, and home canner.

She died when I was very young, but I grew up with an idealized notion of what that kind of life represented.  Somehow it appealed to me to be so in tune with the land, your surroundings, and the needs of your family.  I developed an interest in cooking, some early interest in sewing (although I was never really good at it), and nurtured a love of home canning.  In my younger years, I canned more advanced things like lime pickles (a week long process), pear honey, chutney, and a wide variety of other things.  Today I stick with more basic things like vegetables, fruit, and meat.

Needless to say, I was happy when Olivia showed an early interest in cooking (she is now a far better cook than I will ever be) and I was even happier when she started canning.  Since she is a teacher and has the summer off, she has filled the specially built shelves in her basement with a huge variety of home canned goods from vegetables, salsas, fruits, meats, sauces,  and herb concoctions.  She wholeheartedly embraces the concept of capturing summer's bounty and freshness for another day--a day not so warm, not so glorious and relishing in the comfort that experience brings.

I encouraged her this year to enter some of her canned goods in the county fair competition.  She somewhat reluctantly did so, but I told her it would be fun to just see what happened.  Well, what happened was two first place finishes, a second place finish, and a champion Best of Show placement in the meat division.  She was thrilled and I felt blessed that somehow and some way, a bit of Grandma Smith-- a woman born in another century--and maybe even a bit of myself,  transferred our tiny spark to the next generation.  I felt myself smiling with Grandma Smith (as I am sure she was in heaven).

Such tactile and basic connection to the land and our food is less apparent now than it was in Grandma Smith's day.  Her connection was a necessary one.  Ours is by choice and an act of love.

If you have ever thought about home canning, consider it well.  The joys to be had and the memories to be made are priceless.  Olivia and I have shared many hours prepping food, processing it, talking all the while, and listening later as each lid "pings" to let us know it is properly sealed.Who knows?  You could start creating your own fair ribbon collection!

If you have questions about canning or would like us to share any of our recipes, please contact us.  We love to share!
- Nanette


Canned Chicken - Champion in Meats Division & Best of Show
Canned Green Beans - First Place in Vegetables Division
Canned Pepper & Onion Relish - Second Place in Condiments Division
Canned Chipolte BBQ Sauce - First Place in Miscellaneous Division

Monday, August 13, 2012

Best Peanut Butter Cookies Ever


You may ask yourself, "Is this just another peanut butter cookie recipe?"  The answer is an emphatic, "No!"  What makes this recipe so extraordinary is that it has no flour, has a very light and delicate texture, and melts in your mouth. When Olivia made these and allowed me to try them, I was hooked.  You may never use another peanut butter cookie recipe again.  It is just that good!  I hope you share our enthusiasm for this great cookie recipe.
-Nanette

Best Peanut Butter Cookies Ever
Recipe from:  allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
2 cups peanut butter
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
2. In a medium bowl, stir peanut butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the baking soda, salt, and vanilla. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place them 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Press a criss-cross into the top using the back of a fork.
3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.








Sunday, August 5, 2012

Stuffed Peppers!!
    This is not going to be your average blah blah blah recipe.  Instead let's just have a chat about peppers because they are coming on like gangbusters right now and the time is right for making stuffed peppers.  There are 101 ways to make stuffed peppers but if you are like I am, you may revert the same old, same old recipe you've used for a hundred years.  Let's throw open the pantry door and get creative!

    First there is the pepper itself. 
     Most of us used the plain old green pepper.  This time of year, yellow peppers, red peppers, banana peppers, and a host of pepper varieties are out there at the farmers market.  Pick something new or something you haven't tried stuffing.  Clean it, take the seeds out and either cut the top off to stuff or cut it lengthwise.

    Second let's talk about what to stuff in it.  I usually resort to the somewhat boring combination of ground beef, egg, maybe some finely chopped onion, maybe some cracker crumbs or a dash of milk, salt, pepper, other spices if I have them, parsley, and of course worcestershire sauce and ketchup.  The trick is to add just enough egg and milk to make it so it won't be dry and hard.  You can still use these ingredients, but how about considering the following as add ins:
    -rice
    -chopped tomatoes




    -any variety of shredded cheese
    -lentils
    -drained black beans
    -couscous
    -feta cheese
    -in addition to ground beef, try ground chicken, turkey, sausage or some combination of meats
    -shredded zucchini
    -chopped mushrooms
    -chopped olives
    -your favorite vegetable finely chopped
    -canned drained corn
    Lastly there is the topping and baking.  You can top with the traditional ketchup that turns into carmelized deliciousness or how about barbecue sauce, hoison sauce, salsa,  sweet and sour sauce, a slice of tomato, or a slice of cheese?  

    The great thing about stuffed peppers is you can freeze them.  Be sure to blanch the cleaned and seed free peppers for at least a minute before stuffing.  This keeps them from being a mushy, slimy mess when you finally bake them.

    Bake your thawed or fresh stuffed  peppers at 350 degrees for about one hour.  Pulling out frozen stuffed peppers to cook in the winter helps recall the wonderful freshness of the summer harvest!  Mix it up and enjoy!
    -Nanette