Saturday, January 23, 2010

Project 365 and Maple Ribs


I like a nicely "set" supper table. I love cloth napkins...they are my absolute favorite. We use them 95% of the time.

It's interesting, one cloth napkin will do me, but if it's paper napkins, I go thru about 40 of them per meal. Okay, so that's a slight exaggeration, but you get what I mean. Right?

Cloth napkins, place mats, candles....and when my boys still lived at home, on Sunday evenings it was "Sinatra and Friends" on NPR radio....sometimes a flower clipping from the garden.

And then lively dinner discussion: politics, current events, sports.... (sigh), really... I had 3 teenage boys, and while ONE of them did grow up to like Sinatra and Friends, our dinner conversations were usually not about politics, current events and sports, but rather, why they wanted to bleach their hair blonde, (hey, that's fashion, right?), why they missed the football bus (couldn't listen to the coach's instructions ), and who ate the fart one of them just let (sigh...a story for another time, but any parent of boys, does know, or will eventually know what I'm talking about. If teenage girls saw what teenage boys were really like, they'd stay far, far away.....)

But I did have beautifully set tables! That's the point of this post.
So please, please when you look at these pictures, don't judge.

My granddaughter, Evalynn, set the table this night. For some reason, she gave everyone a cookbook at their plate,  (I have more than enough to go around.)  and if you look closely, you will see a small little votive candle by everyone's plate.

No placemats, no cloth napkins... .but cookbooks and small little disposable votive candles.  Ah yes.....tablescapes at their finest.
We didn't even had a "great" supper that night. The Ribs were good, but just bag-o-salad (Caesar) and steamed carrots. Evalynn served the salad to everyone.
Evalynn is 2 1/2.
Ya, gotta give her credit for trying.

A sippy cup full of milk, a plate, a fork, and....a cookbook and votive candle.
What presentation!

Here Dad....let me give you some salad.

Anyone else?

This night I made "Candied Maple Sesame Ribs", recipe courtesy of The Hungry Mouse.
Jessie, of the Hungry Mouse, states that, "These are a really interesting first course for a harvest-season dinner. Because they're sweet, I think they'd be overpowering as the main meal. "

Of course, I didn't read that first, and I made them as the main dish. They were really good, but yes, a tad bit on the sweet side. I guess if you are fond of sweet and sour dishes, it would be no different from that.
Sans the sour part.

I would suggest making them as an appetizer or for a Super-Bowl party! Did you know that it is illegal to advertise (for bars and casinos, etc) that they are having a "Super-Bowl" party?

Let's all take notice.... I think they will say, "The Big Game" "On Super Bowl Sunday" or some such thing.
I'm sure some get away with it, but if they catch you, you get fined, as "Super-Bowl" is a registered trademark.
I got off track---I think they would be a great addition to a Super Bowl Party and am going to make them AND the Pioneer Woman's Jalapeno Poppers.  Mmmmmmmmm.........

Here is the recipe so you can make them too.....
beef spare ribs

kosher salt
garlic powder
grade-A maple syrup
freshly cracked black pepper
sesame seeds

Pre-heat your over to 350 degrees. Line a sheet pan with foil. If you're feeding a crowd, you might need two or more pans.
This is more technique, less recipe. There are really no measurements, but a lot of imprecise sprinkling and slathering.
Slather with syrup, sprinkle with seasonings, get the ribs into the oven. For about an hour.

For a full tutorial, go visit Jessie at the Hungry Mouse.

And then....enjoy dinner with your family.

A recap of my "picture a day" for the Project 365

Goldfinches at one of the feeders.

5:30 a.m.  It started to snow!

Waiting for the Handyman....I sit in a parking lot across from the Catholic Church
(he was in the city hall)

I have an old typewriter of my dad's.  He used to type his school assignments on it.  And I used to type letters way before I owned a computer.

The ceiling of the courthouse

The birds didn't get everything in my backyard....
.....the snow begins to melt

My coffee cup, my book, my glasses
a great start to a weekend

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mexican Fiesta, Cooking from the books and Game Night

Keeping good on the challenge from my daughter-in-law, Sadie (it wasn't so much a challenge as an idea) to play games from my game closet, with friends, and then vote them -- in or out (Not the friends, the games), we had a game night last Saturday.
Even tho, it was a potluck dinner (a great 7-layer dip and a green salad were brought by my friend Theresa), I thought I would combine it with my cook from the books challenge.

I pulled out 2 cookbooks from my shelves of 219. One, The Complete Book of Mexican Cooking, I had never used before, and the other one, A Cause for Celebration, holds the version of Chili Verde that I call my own and have been making since 1996, but for the sake of documenting all of my cookbooks, I am going to post the cookbook here.  For the post on the recipe  my Chile Verde Click on this.    the Chili Verde is really good tho, so you should really try it out.
I do have to note tho, that once I dug this cookbook out again to get the recipe, I am enamoured of it once again.  It's a JCPenny Associate cookbook...similar to a church cookbook...all the associates (employees) around the country sent in recipes for this book.  Everyone always sends their very best for books like these... ones that that are tried and true.  It has sections for every holiday you could think of.
From the first one, The Complete Book of Mexican Cooking, I made  Chicken Flautas....which seemed like taquitos to me, so I did a little investigating and found out that the name is interchangable in the U.S., but in Mexico they are usually called flautas or  tacos dorados (golden tacos).
I have made and do make my own salsa most of the time, but since it was a potluck-game night, I took the easy way out and bought pre-made fresh salsa and pico de gallo.

These little crisp fried tortillas with a cheese and chicken filling were----very good. I'd make them again, although, next time I would use yellow corn tortillas, but I only had white corn in my fridge. I think the yellow would make for a better presentation.
But they were perfect for a game night.  (also probably a light supper with a salad)

Chicken Flautas from The Complete Book of  Mexican Cooking on the left and Chili Verde from A Cause for Celebrations--holiday recipes for every occasion on the right.                       

Chicken Flautas
from The Complete Book of Mexican Cooking by Jane Milton

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 onion (a small one. I usually just use half as much onion as a recipe calls for)
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 1/2 oz feta cheese, crumbled ( I used Queso Fresco )
12 corn tortillas
oil for frying
salt and ground black pepper (I used a bit of cumin, because it seemed just a tad bland to me)
Put the chicken breasts in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Remove the chicken from the pan and let it cool a little, then shred. Set aside.
Chop the onion finely and crush the garlic. Heat the oil in a frying pan; add the onion and garlic and sauté over low heat for about 5 minutes or until the onion has softened. Add the shredded chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Remove from the heat and stir in crumbled cheese.
Before they can be rolled, soften the tortillas in the microwave, a few at a time, on high for 30 seconds. Place a spoonful of the filling on one of the tortillas. Roll the tortilla tightly around the filling. Secure with a toothpick. IMMEDIATELY cover the roll with plastic wrap as you make your other flautas, to keep them from drying out. Fill the remaining tortillas in the same way.
Pour oil into a frying pan to a depth of 1-inch. The trick is to make sure the oil is ready/hot to prevent the flautas from absorbing too much of it. Heat it until a small cube of bread, added to the oil, rises to the surface and bubbles at the edges before turning brown.

Add the flautas a few at a time and fry for 2-3 minutes, until golden, turning frequently.
Drain on paper towels and serve immediately. With good salsa, sour cream and guacamole!

We ate, we visited, then we got down to "game playing"  and voting.
First, we got out  "Twenty Questions".  It's kind of a classic and I couldnt' see how  it could be voted out.
(seriously, there are some games that I love, but what if no one else does?)  But  it was voted a keeper!!

The new game.... Adverteasing.
The game of slogans, commercials and jingles.

Luckily it turned out this way:
two thumbs up  (they were the winners)
one thumbs down  (poor Max.  He didn't quite know the answer to:
hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, special orders don't upset us..
and one thumb sideways.  Hmmmm...
I had a thumb up, you just couldnt' see it  (and it was really hard to snap a photo with my thumb held up!)
So...Adverteasing! It's a keeper.

And my pile of games is adding up!

I'm still in mourning over Planet Hollywood.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Project 365

I am having a blog crisis.... I think it's kind of like a mid-life crisis, but only in my blogging life.

Where am I going? What am I doing? Why did I begin this blog?
What direction am I going to go in?
I guess I'm questioning myself because I have a couple of posts that have nothing at all to do with cooking or food. Well........If truth be told, I guess everything in my life revolves around food. ~grins~

This post is a recap of my Project 365. As I said before...Don't expect great things from my photography. It's not very good. And it's funny....because while I do take my camera almost everywhere I go, when it comes to a "must" (as in I must take one picture a day), I find it hard to find anything to photograph.

I live in a small town.... in the middle of the Northern Nevada Desert. We have no great architecture, no great tourist sights..... I'm going to be in trouble now, because I work for the Chamber of Commerce and it's my job to tell people how great Winnemucca is... and IT IS, it's just that when you are accustom to it, it seems a little lackluster for this project.

Maybe I'll have fun finding different things to take pictures of.
Kind of like my mom telling me, when I was a kid, to look for the positive. Marilyn Monore, who said she could find something sexy in EVERY man she ever met.
I, too, as we go forward, hope to  find greater and more interesting things to take pictures of!

My life, my world, Project 365.
Jan 10th thru Jan 17th.
Sunday.... at church

(sigh) okay 2 from Sunday...
what was waiting for me when I got home from church
A Bloody Mary!
(and a dusty candle holder...DON'T LOOK!)

Monday Morning sunrise
I sometimes think sunrises are prettier than sunsets.
But it was cold outside  (I was in my  jammies--I was in my own backyard)

Tuesday the hills behind our neighborhood were dusted with snow.

our slot machine in the garage
(I won't let the handyman have it inside the house. 
I'm bad)
Rich has wanted a slot machine for a long, long time.  We live in Nevada, so it seemed like an easy thing to do.  But we had to have a background check  by the state department of gaming and sign our lives away that we would not use it for "gambling".  Hmmmm......
Our 3 sons were home at Christmas time and this slot machine was the hit of the holiday, which seems weird to's not as if they can actually hit the jack pot or anything.  One would never know that tho..
(oh and technically it's a video poker machine)

An apple left on the tree from last fall.
The birds have been busy.

and the cat is on the lookout for the birds too!
She can't wait for spring.

The birds are returning...
(actually, these Quail never really leave.)
I took this picture from my kitchen window.
Since I spend so much time in the kitchen, its fun for me to see what goes on, just outside my "Kitchen Window"
(hopefully the smudge was on my camera lens and not my kitchen window... I'll have to go check it out)

Our dry cleaners.
You might be wondering why, I took this....
....I wanted you to see the proximety to the shoe store next to us.
on Friday, a man walked into the cleaners and asked Rich,  "do you know anywhere in town they sell leather slippers or mocasins or slip on's?"
Rich said..."maybe at the shoe store right next door"
It made me laugh.

For a view of some  other GREAT project 365 pictures, take a look at "Elle's New England Kitchen"
They are really, really good.
Shelby at  "Grumpy's Honeybunch" is doing the project too.  You can check our her website here.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

An Old Favorite?

Just the other day, I received a post from a blog I get via e-mail, called "Simply Recipes".
Elise Bauer is the blog author and her site has wonderful recipes for the home-cook.
Her blog has even won an award or two. I suggest you check it out, if you are not familiar with it already.

She had a simply post that day.....about "cinnamon toast".
Yes, Cinnamon Toast.
The simplest thing on the planet, right? But try "googling" it.... there are tons of sights on Cinnamon toast. Opinions, stories, memories. On Cinnamon toast.
Elise's post made me hungry for it, so I made it this morning for breakfast.
2 pieces of cinnamon toast and a cup of coffee with peppermint mocha creamer (which will soon be gone until the next holiday season. love those seasonal coffee creamers!).
I bought "Cracked Wheat" bread. The Handyman didn't have any cinnamon toast this morning, because he said it is only good made with "white bread".

Some Cinnamon Toast Tips I got off the internet:

Cinnamon Toast Tips
Vietnamese or Saigon cinnamon is considered the "best" cinnamon.
Try different types of bread for different flavors.
You can use brown sugar with or instead of granulated sugar.
You can make and store your own cinnamon sugar.
Cinnamon sugar butter is easy to make and will store for three weeks.

What You'll Need
In order to make cinnamon toast you will need some type of toasting device. This can be a toaster, a toaster oven or a broiler. You will also need the following ingredients:
Cinnamon: Any variety will suffice.
Sugar: Can be granulated or powdered.
Butter or Margarine: Any type of salted or unsalted butter or margarine will do
Bread: White bread is the traditional choice. However, whole wheat or French bread are also good options.

Because I was curious, I posed a question to my "Friday Friends". Those friends that I have an e-mail forum with (for, because of... ???) (and whom my blog is named in honor of...)

I just sent out a quick e-mail and asked:
Cinnamon Toast!
are you a fan or not?

So, I'm posing the question to you too....
Cinnamon Toast
are you a fan? Or not?

here is what the Friday Friends said ( I figure they need a little billing sometime..... so, here they are, on cinnamon toast.
(Last names and cities of residence omitted for privacy reasons ~grins~)
It seems that Friday Friends, overwhelmingly love Cinnamon Toast... with a few exceptions.
without further ado, here they are...The Friday Friends!

from Tomi: Love it!

from Barbara: Wow---haven't had it in ages. Now I want some!

from Gina: Yes, I love it. It was always a special treat when I was growing up. I haven't had it in years.

from Meghan: fan. I especially love it when I make it on fat cinnamon swirl bread.
Devin, YOUR niece, likes it with butter...then peanut butter...then cin/sugar on top. one time I left off the butter, thinking she wouldn't miss it...guess what? she did!

from Theresa: Like toast with cinnamon and sugar on it? Yes

from Kate: Love it! - assuming you are talking about cinnamon mixed with sugar sprinkled on a warm piece of toast with melted butter! Yum yum!

from Emmie:oh yes.syrup,peanut butter,nothing better.

from Susie: Yum...Yum....Yum

from Theda: I can't imagine that anyone would say no. Although my soon to be ex-sister in law once told me that she gives it when the kids are sick. I would be sick every day!! I just about made it this am, but decided to use pear butter instead.

from Stacy: Have to be in the mood for it. But now that u mentioned it sounds good to me.

from Jennifer: OHHHHHH YEAH!!!!!!! (I think I'm hungry....)

from Heather: Love it! The girls and I eat it a couple of times a week for breakfast, sometimes even a snack.

from Sadie: no I'm not a fan at all.

from Bev: YES

from Traci: It's breakfast about 4 times a week!

from Sally: Yeah! I wish you mentioned it sooner. I just had a piece of banana bread.

from Ashley: I love cinnamon toast - it reminds me of my dad...but what kind is better with cinnamon toast made with sugar or powdered sugar?

from Lisa: not too much........

from Darleen: Yes I am.

from Diana: Fan

from Linda: Big fan.

from Shelly: Occasionally...My kids used to love it.

from me/debbie:
So....are you a fan?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Project 365 and another resolution

I'm going to do Project 365....but don't expect great things.

Project 365 is a "Picture a day" project, which many bloggers do. It's fun to see what people take pics of.

I already do many of the things it (project 365) suggests....
I take my camera everywhere...EVERYWHERE.

But I'm not so sure that my photography will get better by years end.

But I do love a good this should be fun.

Another "New Year's Resolution" that I'm going to work on this year, because of a suggestion by my daughter in law, Sadie, is to have people over and play a game a week from my game closet. YES, I probably have close to 50 games and can do one a week. But a lot of them are....not very good.

The idea is in addition to playing a game, the company and the Handyman get to vote on the game and decide if it is a "keeper" or not.
Take for instance, Planet Hollywood. Although, I love this game, no one else in my family does.

I have agreed to this...a deal is a deal, so poor "Planet Hollywood, the game" is out the door. Everyone voted it out!!

I am excited tho, about having friends over every Saturday, or at least 2x a month to eat and play board games. I will document our evenings here in my blog.

Who came

What we ate

What we drank

What game we played

On Southern Plate,

a blog I enjoy, Christy has a "hostess book" where she documents her dinners with company. Like a guest book....with guests writing their names down and She documents all food, and goings on for the evening.
It sounds like a good idea to me. I will need a pretty guest book/hostess book. For now, I have this school journal.

So far this year, 2010, we played:

1/2/10--We bought take and bake pizzas and breadsticks
Cheesecake and left over Christmas cookies for dessert
Apples to Apples--voted a keeper.

present: Rich, Debbie, Mark, Sadie AND our voting company, The Mavitys: Mike, Theresa, Macie, Makenna and Max.

1/3/10--Subway sandwiches for Mark and Sadie, leftover breadsticks and marinara sauce for Rich and Debbie.

Phase 10 ---voted a keeper.

present: Rich, Debbie, Mark and Sadie were present. Sadie won.
Planet Hollywood --voted out by everyone but Debbie!
Team #1 Dustin and Sadie
Team #2 Rich, Debbie and Mark

1/7/10--we had popcorn.

In a Pickle--voted out by everyone but Debbie (I find it hard to get rid of board games and cookbooks.  And some of the board games have won awards....not that that matters to my family. Maybe my friends will be more forgiving.)

Finish Lines--voted a keeper. We all love it.

And that's as far as we've gotten on our game cupboard resolution.
I will keep you updated on this.... we're going to come to some really old games during the year.

This isn't a very good start to Project 365 (or perhaps it is.....perhaps it's all about family and friends and enjoying each others company), but this post is going to be my first week's round-up (I got a late start...)

I will leave you with this.....
the marquee. Where I work, we rent the marquee for people to put up events and messages, etc.

I have the nicest man, who changes the sign for me, but he doesn't read English very well.... I am always sure to type it out for him, so he doesn't get confused by my handwriting.
But, sometimes he still gets confused.

Al? All?

We left the sign up as it was... we thought wishing Al Happy Holidays was a good thing!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Candied Apples and Family Recipes

I knew I was late posting a Thanksgiving recipe for a reason.
The reason is, so that I can start a new year by being a part of:

Family Recipes is an event hosted by Shelby of "The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch", Laura of "the Spiced Life", and Lynda of "Lynda's Recipe Box".

Check it out here for complete details.
I always call dishes such as these, weird foods from my youth, (we have a lot of them)  because I've never seen anyone else make them, EVER.
I'm sure they do, because I used to think that my grandma's hot buttered rum recipe was a family secret too, but have since found out that it's a "very popular" recipe for homemade batter.
By now, I'm sure you're wondering what?  What is she making that is so "weird"?   (but good).
I will tell you...
Candied Apples.
My great-grandmother made them:  Lillian Staggs
My grandmother made them:  Irene Shaver
My mother makes them:  Beverly Hambelton
and I make them: Debbie Stone
and I love them.  They are a tradition.
The handwritten recipe below comes from my great-grandmother, Lillian.
(notice no paragraphs or punctuation)

Notice that she says it makes a "colorful" dish.
And that's the truth.
These are not the candied apples of carnivals...
...but more of a spiced/cinnamon whole applesauce kind of thing.
Like a baked apple, only not baked.
cooked on top of the stove

Candied Apples 
 (taken verbatim from my great-grandmother)
I get apples about the same size
I've always cooked them in that heavy frying pan
about twelve or thirteen apples.
Core your apples first and peel
fill centers with those little red cinnamon candies and  put
enough sugar over them so juice thickens about like Jelly
and I keep turning them with two forks until they
are tender generally a few at a time are ready to take out
if the juice gets too thick I keep pouring a little water to it as they cook and I add red food coloring from the first thats what colors them red
Hope you can read and make this out
you can rewrite it if you can read it once
I think that's all there is to it.
It makes a colorful dish
Love, grandmother

Now I will translate:
find about 8-12 small apples that cook up well  (won't turn mushy)
Actually,  Rome apples work well, or Golden Delicious.
Peel and core them.
place in a heavy frying pan
fill with "red hots"  (little cinnamon candies)
pour extra candies around the apples.
Add a bit of water and a bit of sugar, and a bit of red food coloring
simmer apples , until candies melt and you think the apples are "red" all the way thru.
Keep in fridge, serve cold.

The Trick is to try and get the "red" color all the way thru the apples without them turning to "mush".
you want them whole, like a baked apple.
Sadly, I didn't get a picture of the finishes product.

Here we go.....
Counting to see how many apples will fit in the pan.

Peeled, cored and filled with red hots!

It is okay if there is a bit of peel left on the apple. It happens.

My mother adding a bit of sugar...she was very fast.
Consider this a "action" shot.
She has her old Tupperware scoop. It's been in our sugar bin since I was a kid.

Another "action" shot.... as she began to turn the apples.  I don't think she was using "2 forks", but some tongs.
My mom never quite got the "hold it...I'm going to take a picture" of this candied apple making process.

Pouring the "juice" over and over and over the apples, so they get the color thru and the "red hot" flavor.

My mom.  On the phone.  While making candied apples for me.

We always serve these apples as a....
not really a salad
nor a dessert
but, rather,
with the cranberries.

If you like applesauce, baked apples or apple pie. 
(or red hots, fire styx,  atomic fireballs, all candies of the 1960's and 70's , or candied apples from your old carnival days)
You'll probably like these.

I am submitting this to the Family Recipe Event.

Friday friend recipe number 274 and 275-Grapefurit Shrimp Salad and Crispy Potato Chicken

  My Friday Friend Cookbook Countdown #274 and 275 My Mother-in-law's Grapefruit Shrimp Salad and Crispy potatoes . and you know all th...