Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cherry Vinaigrette

The topic today is cherries and I must share a Northern Michigan taste treat with you! If you have not had the culinary pleasure to enjoy your green salad with Natalie Robyn's Cherry Vinaigrette, you are missing out on a real delight!

Her company has a website: www.sixlugs.com

The name Six Lugs originated from her childhood near Atwood, Michigan where she and her siblings picked cherries to earn money for school clothes. According to the vinaigrette label the dear farmer paid them one dollar per lug and on a typical day Robyn picked three to four lugs but on a special day she topped out at six lugs, hence the name!

This Cherry Vinaigrette will not disappoint you!

Cherry Pillow

The pattern for this cherry pillow was from a book called Serendipity by Ginger Cookie Company and was perfect for our home. My husband deals in the fruit industry and we are surrounded by cherries in Northern Michigan.

The background is from a yellowish/gold wool with a reddish wool border. The cherries are blanket-stitched on with DMC floss, the stems and leaves are in scraps of green wool also attached by hand stitching. The outside border is from a chenille fabric in a deep yellow hue.

The ruffle is from a yellow/red calico fabric and the back of the pillow is in a reddish plain cotton duck fabric.

This pillow goes well in our living room, especially during cherry season! It brings back many memories of picking cherries during the summer, attempting to make enough money to purchase school clothes. My husband and I are blessed to be living on the very property where my Mom, Dad, brother, Uncle and I picked both sweet and sour cherries! The cherry juice running up the arms, sweat bees stinging the backs of your knees, the beloved shanty, and the creek that provided the very best and coldest water for our enjoyment...what was work then is now a beautiful chapter in the story of my life.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Strawberry Shortcake

I had a few strawberries in the fridge and wanted to use them before they went bad so decided to make some baking powder biscuits (using my Grandma Bessie's recipe)! The strawberries just aren't the best yet, but come the end of June our local berries will be ripe and oh so good and juicy!

It is a tradition, passed down from Grandma Bessie, to pour (yes, pour) whipping cream over the strawberry shortcake and my oh my is it a tasty treat. My husband and two sons-in-law don't pour the cream over their shortcake, just plain for the men! We girls, on the other hand, go for the high fat cream with absolute delight!

The shortcake is topped off with a garnish of homegrown mint and a little violet.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Confetti Coleslaw Recipe

I attempted to take a better picture of the Confetti Coleslaw recipe for you, I hope this salad is enjoyed by many!

This is why we call our cat Alfred!

Alfred always seems to be on the ready, with one leg over the edge! As mentioned in an earlier post, I had an Uncle Alfred who always left one leg over the edge of the chair, as if to be ready to run. This little cat seems to be the same!

It is a very gloomy day today and Alfred seems content to rest on a twin bed in the lower level...very quiet down there and quite cool as well!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Published, I am!!!

I recently received the happy news that Gooseberry Patch had chosen my Confetti Coleslaw recipe to be published in their new Summer In The Country cookbook.

If you are not familiar with Gooseberry Patch, I would suggest you check them out at www.gooseberrypatch.com...it surely will be worth your time. Vicki and JoAnn are the founders and their story is most inspiring! Their wide array of "goods" will delight you!

The Confetti Slaw is very easy to prepare and I generally serve it in one of my prized crystal bowls with a spray of sliced green onion (lengthwise) to serve as the stem of a flower. The flower can consist of mandarin oranges or the real deal (pansies, nasturtiums, or little viola's). When I think of coleslaw I immediately think picnic and a crystal bowl doesn't go well at a picnic but my husband doesn't care for outdoor dining so our "picnic's" are hosted inside. No bugs for him!!!

Anyone can submit recipes to Gooseberry Patch and I would encourage you to do so...if your recipe is chosen you receive a free cookbook and the bonus of feeling most confident in yourself!

I will publish more pics later...too nice to be in the house (with dial-up, very slow speed internet). On my way outside-maybe I will have a picnic lunch on the deck-by myself!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Paper Piecing...

I actually made this little wall hanging last year but had it stored away for the winter months and now it is time for "springy things" to surround us both inside and out!

The pattern for this paper pieced creation came from a now closed quilt shop in neighboring Beulah, Michigan (so sorry to see them close). Although I am not a quilter by any stretch of the imagination I do enjoy small projects such as this.

If you have never attempted paper piecing, please don't be intimidated...it is a fairly simple process and the outcome will amaze you!

A good source for paper piecing is a company called Sweet Peas! I have also purchased patterns from MH Designs.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Birthday Tribute to Dad!

My Dad was born April 22, 1916 and was a railroad engineer but his most important role in life was that of husband, father, and grandfather. Those titles brought him his most memorable and happy times!

It was an honor to be his daughter and when my husband and I provided him with two beautiful girls to love as his grand-daughters the smile never left his face and he loved them dearly!

So many memories of a man I called Dad, a fellow that was a gifted gardener, the best engineer the railroad ever employed, loyal husband to Mom, and I believe he invented "ditties" and interesting names for everyone.

I have heard from my husband that Dad taught him a lot...you know "the big boys told me so" stories!

Our dear golden retriever knew that Dad had become a different person, one with alzheimer's disease, quite unpredictable to say the least. Dad stomped on Vinnie's tail one day and that dear dog just looked at Dad and never budged!

How blessed to have had Dad in our lives and what an example he set!

Happy Birthday Dad...wish I could bake you a cake!!! I love you!!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pumpkin Roll With A Touch Of Spring!

A pumpkin roll in the spring? Yes, you see I worked for a little lady a few years ago and she is not doing real well so I thought a little pumpkin treat would perk her up a bit. She loves pumpkin and I know it is spring and we should be eating lemon treats but this was perfect for her!

I decided on a cream roll as it can be dressed up pretty with whipped cream on top and decorated with dainty daffodils and primrose from my garden. The cedar is from the backyard, thankfully the deer left me some after our harsh winter.

My visit with Mrs. B. went well and she has a little dog and he was thrilled with his dog bone treat! It is a blessing that we are given opportunities to place a smile on someone's face and present them with some little homemade treat!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Alfred's New Outdoor Home!

How exciting that my husband made Alfred a home...that template proved to be all he needed to complete the house! It seems to me that there is a lot of love on Banktson Road for Alfred!

The roof is not finished yet, perhaps it will have hinges so that the roof can be removed for replacing the carpet once in awhile. The hubby went to Walenta's and got the piece of carpet, can you believe that?

I was thinking that maybe the house should be painted and a cute little name-plate attached to the front!

An attempt to get Alfred in the house was made using treats but he didn't stay in there but a second (long enough to get most of the treats). It is raining out this evening so perhaps he will initiate his new "digs" tonight!

Kudo's to the carpenter!!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Dinner Grand Finale'

Getting a good photo of the grand finale' proved to be quite difficult to say the least. This taste treat started with a chocolate cake made in a springform pan then cooled completely. Then I melted chocolate and spread on a long piece of waxed paper that was doubled (trying to make it the same size as the circumference of the cake-lenghthwise). I attempted to scallop the edges but found that I needed some practice. This strip was allowed to set up a bit and while it was on the counter I started making the chocolate mousse mixture. The mousse mixture needed to cool to room temperature. Then I placed the chocolate edging on the cake, leaving the waxed paper attached until serving time. I didn't calculate the heighth of the cake correctly so the chocolate edging is too high. Very carefully I placed the mousse inside the chocolate edging, on top of the cake. Then that went in the fridge while I busied myself melting more chocolate and on a waxed paper lined large cookie sheet I drizzled very thin "pieces" of chocolate first this way and then that way...this was my future birds nest. That was allowed to set up until serving time. With dinner over the masterpiece was on my mind...I made some whipped cream and placed on top of the mousse layer and then placed a Peep in the middle of the mound of whipped cream. I placed Robin's Eggs around the Peep and then started taking the "twigs" off the waxed paper and placing them all around the cream, making a fun little nest. I would like to make this again, perfecting it a bit the next time around!

May I mention that my husband purchased a Wilton Chocolate Pro (melting pot) for me and believe me it is worth the money. Actually he picked it up at Jo-Ann's for less than twenty dollars.

The Trimmings

I was strongly encouraged to prepare Shirley's Cheesy Potatoes and I must say they go well with ham! The preparation is easy and can be started the day before serving so that is a bonus. The original recipe called for plain cheddar cheese but we long ago decided that taco cheese gave the dish a little pizazz! There is also sour cream, butter, and onions in the dish.

Easter and carrots seem to go together and when your husband offers to help prepare them you can't go wrong. Glazed carrots were the choice and all it takes is a little butter and brown sugar after the cooked carrots are drained. A little parsley cluster never hurts and I always sprinkle a little salt, pepper, and dill on top!

The roll recipe came from a Lutheran Brotherhood magazine some 35-40 years ago. My Mom found the recipe and started making rolls and now I have been making them for about 37 years. Good grief, could it be that many years? Several years ago, because of medical issues, I made the rolls using skim milk and they were fair, but certainly not great. So we are back to using whole milk in the rolls and furthermore we don't have them on a regular basis.

The pineapple topped salad was made by our oldest daughter and it was very tasty! I believe it consists of crushed pineapple, Cool Whip, coconut pudding and it has that fluffy consistency! The pineapple rings and cherries carried out the party theme!

Peeps and Ham

The glazed ham needed to enlist some Peep police...the carver was having difficulty not snitching while the photographer-wanna-be was attempting to get just the right shot. The Peeps are keeping watch of the ham and also befriending Kathy's delicious pickled beets. Sliced lemons were added for a bit more color and then I knew I must get the shot quick so that the carver's meat didn't get cold. But later in the afternoon I did happen to hear that the ham did get cold...oh well I was happy with the photo!!!

Another table photo

I am ironing today and thought it would be worthwhile to load pictures on the blog while standing at the ironing board...so here is another view of the Easter table.

The Easter Table

Getting the table set for an occasion is so much fun! The bunny napkins added a little interest and I thought I would assign those to the two men dining and the three women would be greeted with napkin roses...well my husband didn't know what the rose was and my Mom thought it was supposed to be a cinnamon roll...so I failed in the rose department (maybe a different color would have helped).

I love getting out the beautiful hand appliqued tablecloth, presented to me by my mother, that just announces spring with the perfect colors. The little goody bags are just waiting for the person/persons who gave up sweets for Lent! So, when is the next gathering??? Could it be the cheesecake challenge?

Easter star pillows

I know, I already shared two star pillows with you but just couldn't leave out the cute little bunny...after all he was quite the "star" of yesterday (Easter).

In years past, our church has had a sunrise service at 7am with a breakfast (served by the men) immediately following and then another worship at 11am. Our normal services of 8:30 and 11:00 took place yesterday and it seemed that more people attended! The pastor delivered a great message, the music was beautiful and now the challenge is to live each day, following the lead of the risen Christ!

An observation...not many people decorated for Easter this year in our community, in fact besides my lame attempt at an outdoor egg tree, I only saw one other home that had a cute display of Easter!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Decor'

It is always enjoyable to dress up the house for spring and Easter and as you can see the shelf above the door that leads to the deck is perfect for such.

This year I chose to display some faux spring flowers along with some star pillows that I created from wool felt. There are three pillows on display although they are not all visible in this particular photo. One star is done on white wool felt with pink tulips that are blanket-stitched on, while another pillow is done on pink wool felt with an adorable chick also blanket stitched on. The third pillow, that you are not able to see is done on a green wool felt with a bunny rabbit stitched on.

As my husband would share, there are four large "bins" full of spring-related "things"! To me they are treasures, much like everything in HIS BARN (HIS RULES, you know). And speaking of treasures, I count him as a very special one!

Sure sign of Spring!

This is the first crocus to appear at our residence and believe me it is exciting! As mentioned in earlier posts, the winter in Northern Michigan has been very long, snowy, and cold. We truly are ready for some color in our landscape and the crocus are a start, with daffodils getting ready to show their brilliant yellow color soon! Oh how exciting!

I snipped a few sprigs of mint today, along with some chives so the garden is beginning to awaken after a long winter nap.

It will be so nice to see the lilacs bloom and enjoy their unforgettable fragrance, not to mention the forsythia! How very blessed we are to be given the opportunity to enjoy nature at it's best!

A Winter Home for Alfred!?!

Could it be that I caught my husband making a cat house template? He has never wanted a cat in the house and when Alfred came up missing this past winter I think perhaps there was some guilt associated since the poor little feline had no winter cover. And then when Alfred returned after a four and a half month hiatus I think a cat house started to make sense. I am hoping that the house becomes a home for Alfred...he is such a good little cat!

This is my first post in almost a week and I have several other pics I want to share so please stay tuned!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pork Chops Delight!

I could complain about the weather today but instead I will be optimistic and look forward to warmer weather later in the week!

Thirty one years ago today, the weather was warm and it was raining...how do I know you ask? My husband and I welcomed our second daughter into the world and the doctor announced that it was opening day of baseball season!!!

We had two pork chops to use this evening so I decided I would doctor them up just a little...I fried them very slowly in olive oil and added onions toward the end of the cooking time. I also jazzed up some whole berry cranberry sauce with some lemon juice and brown sugar which I poured over the chops about five minutes before removing from heat. I sprinkled a little lemon zest over the finished product.

I cooked a few potatoes and then mashed them with a little half and half, added a little butter and chopped parsley. The picture isn't very clear so it is difficult to see the cute little heart shaped butter pat on the mashed potatoes.

To round out the meal, I placed a small amount of cottage cheese on a bed of lettuce and topped it with strawberries and peaches.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

This is one way to enjoy Spring!!!

It is Saturday and at last the sun is shining and thankfully it isn't snowing. Yesterday brought a snow/rain mix and the roads were slush covered and the wind was blowing making the 42 degree day feel more like below freezing. Okay enough whining!

I figured out a way to bring spring inside...tulips you say...appliqued to towels that definitely make me smile...and remember that spring is on it's way! And to my hubby, the towels are for decor' purposes only!

The towels are a green and yellow plaid and I chose complimentary cotton fabrics to design a vase of tulips and also a spray of simple flowers. The vase is a fun shape and the tulips are arranged in a whimsical manner. I attached the pieces onto the towel with fusible webbing and blanket stitched them with DMC floss. The small spray of flowers is done in the same manner and since it was a simple design I added buttons for added interest.

Have a blessed day everyone! And thanks for the opportunity to share my interests with you!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spring Heart

I started with off-white wool felt and cut out a small heart and then started cutting out various sized flowers in spring colors. As you can see, I blanket-stitched a narrow green felt heart shaped piece of felt just inside the larger felt piece. To attach the flowers, I decided to leave them dimensional so just sewed them on with beads in the center of each. Wool felt leaves were cut out and attached with DMC floss and for a more realistic touch a little "vining" was added. When I blanket-stitched the piece together I added a pale pink ribbon for hanging and included some lavender with the polyfil. Perhaps this project will remind us that spring is near!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wednesday evening dinner

Another windy and cold day in Michigan so a hearty dinner seemed to be the ticket this evening. After perusing a few magazines for ideas, I decided to try a couple of recipes from Kraft www.kraftfoods.com/foodandfamily

Since my husband doesn't care for tuna noodle casserole, I decided to add corn rather than peas, and instead of milk I used evaporated milk, and to top off the dish I used crushed potato chips. A little garnish of parsley and baby tomatoes added to the interest of the dish.

The asparagus recipe came from Kraft and you just fry three slices of bacon and drain on paper towel, crumble and set aside. Discard all drippings but don't wash pan. Meanwhile, cook one pound of asparagus until crisp/tender. Add about 1/3 cup chopped onions to saute pan and cool until tender, remove from heat and add 1/3 cup Ranch Dressing. Plate asparagus and pour sauce over and sprinkle with the crumbled bacon.

A little fruit gave the plate more color and it is healthy you know!

Peanut butter cheesecake brownies were the grand finale. Again, this recipe is from Kraft Foods and it calls for brownie mix, how easy is that? A cream cheese and peanut butter mixture is spooned on top of batter in each "cupcake". As you can see I topped the brownie with cool whip, mint, maraschino cherry, and chocolate sauce.

This blogging could put on some pounds...maybe I should stick to crafting!

Alfred's Return

I thought today being April Fool's Day was the perfect opportunity to share this story with everyone!

This past Thanksgiving weekend we had our family here for food and fellowship! On Sunday morning we awoke to a snowy northern Michigan mess and much to our dismay our little Alfred was missing. Alfred belonged to my special aunt and uncle who lived about an 1/8 of a mile from us until their moving into an assisted living facility a year ago this month. When they moved the kitty was left to fend for himself and about two weeks after they had moved the kitty arrived at our doorstep! My husband and I welcomed him and he made himself right at home, staying in the house during the day and prowling outside at night. His name deems an explanation: I had an Uncle Alfred who always left one leg outside the chair while eating, as if to be on the ready...and Alfred the kitty always left one leg in the house for a few moments before going outside. All was well until that snowy blast and Alfred was simply gone and we looked everywhere including his past digs at my uncle's barn. No sign of Alfred...until two weeks ago...I was on the phone with our daughter and couldn't believe my eyes. Just inside our woods, on a stump, was what I thought was Alfred so I stepped outside and called to him and he came racing for the house and when I opened the door he went right to the cupboard where we always kept his food...so I was certain it was Alfred. What a happy reunion and this is NO April Fool's joke, it's the real deal!