Monday, December 18, 2017

Menu plan for the week of December 18

Y'all.  I am so sick.  Although I forced myself to get up and make supper last night, and it had turmeric in it, so I'm sure I'll be feeling better any time now... Maybe.

The turmeric-containing dish was the Moroccan chicken couscous from last week's menu.  I had half a box of couscous that I wanted to use up, and I remember the dish that I used to make using couscous being called Moroccan chicken and vegetables with couscous.  That Moroccan chicken had eggplant in it, and it had some kind of tomato in it (diced, sauce, paste...can't remember.  Our friend Amy gave us the recipe probably 20 years ago.  I couldn't find that recipe, but this one was really good.  So good, in fact, that everyone ate it.  I also have some barley I want to use up--got any ideas for me?

I ended up making sugar cookies last week in addition to the Santa's snickers surprises that I told you about.  This week, I am purchasing supplies to make little cookies, but it's up to Hubby to decide whether those actually get made.  I think I might also make buckeyes, since the auxiliary refrigeration unit is up and running.  Well, and because buckeyes are yummy.  I'll let you know which treats actually come into being. 

Here's what's on the menu this week:

Other/Prep for guests:

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Stock, cookies, and chickens

Good morning, friends.

I got the turkey stock canned on Monday.  I went out in the morning to get lids, and decided to do my weekly grocery shopping at the same time.  While I was at it, I picked up a mystery shop that was available in the area.  After I grabbed the lids, I started to wonder if I had enough jars... I ended up with 20 quarts and 6 pints, which is one quart short of my estimate.  And we did have enough jars, although I think we need to eat some of this food before we do much more canning.

As the jars were coming out of the canner, I placed them on top of our fireplace, like I usually do with my newly canned foods.  Except this is December, so my Willow Tree Nativity is on the fireplace right now.  So, Mary & Joseph had 15 quarts of turkey stock in their front yard.  It was all very festive.

Canning the stock required staying up late (well, late for me, that is), but by the time I got to the last two canner loads, there was no way I was willing to stop and then do it all again the next day, so I finished it up.  I started around 1:30 p.m., and ended around 10:30.  Usually, after time is up, I turn the burner off, wait for the pressure to drop, and then remove the jars (to the fireplace).  For the last load this time, I just turned the burner off, and when I got up in the morning, the jars were still warm to the touch.

Last weekend, I got out our cookie jar for the first time in ages, and put cookies in it (not very many cookies), for probably the first time ever.  And then yesterday, Hubby was making his lunch and the cookie jar was empty.  And nobody launched into a rousing rendition of, "who stole the cookies from the cookie jar," but at least one of us thought it.

Hubby was very sad about the lack of cookies in the cookie jar, so I made cookies yesterday: Santa's Snickers Surprises.  See?  I told you that you'd probably find out what cookies I made this week.  My sis said she remembered SSSs being quite tasty, but hasn't made them in over a decade due to an unfortunate condition, so I said I would save some for her.  I wrapped some up, and put them in the freezer labeled, " Buckwheat's cookies.  Do not eat."

I froze an additional dozen so that we don't run into an unfortunate situation of our own--that is, an unfortunately empty cookie jar or, even worse, unfortunately stale-before-their-time cookies in the jar.  These are labeled, "not Buckwheat's cookies.  Still don't eat."

There's something I don't understand about this recipe.  It says it makes 2 dozen, but following the directions, the pertinent part in this case being to scoop out tablespoonfuls of dough, I always make 3 dozen, or however many mini-snickers are in the package, and I always have leftover dough.  I'm pretty sure there's enough dough this time for another 2 dozen, at least, so instead of making the rest into peanut butter cookies, as I usually do, I froze the extra dough until such a time as I obtain additional mini snickers.

The girls turned 7 months old on Saturday.  I know.  That means they've been with us for less than a year, even though it almost feels like they've always been with us.  When last I posted (about chickens) I mentioned that the chickens were doing well with the cold so far, but their water wasn't.  I am happy to report that we now have electricity running to the coop, so the water has remained liquid.  So nice to not have to carry water out several times a day!

Not much has changed with the girls.  Esther still hasn't laid an egg, and Toasty still lays one just about every day.  Unfortunately, Rocky has stopped laying, probably due to the shorter days (hopefully due to shorter days and not due to something nefarious, like disease or stress).  She'll probably start up again in February, which is when I hope Esther will decide to join in.

They're doing really well with the cold, and they still don't like walking in the snow.  The other day, I figured there was enough bare ground around the coop that they might like to get out for a bit, and they did go out, but they followed me more closely than usual, and had no problem at all going right back in to their snow-free run, when I gently suggested they might like it in there better.

I don't know why people don't believe me when I tell them that chickens don't need supplemental heat.  They do just fine in the cold.  They're wearing down coats.  And...they're not human.

About a week ago, we had a close encounter with a hawk.  And when I say close encounter, I mean that hawk swooped down and landed about 2 feet away from where Rocky had taken cover under a pine tree.  I ran toward that hawk, yelling, "BAD hawk!  Go away," and waving my arms over my head.  Uh huh.  I actually did.  The hawk looked at me for a few looooong moments, shot a glance at Rocky under the tree, and then gave me this look like, ok crazy woman, I leaving, and then it flew away.  Unfortunately, I had too much adrenaline running through my bloodstream to appreciate his beauty from my vantage point about 6 feet away.  In hindsight, considering that the hawk could have ripped my face off, I'm not sure why he left without making another attempt at grabbing one of my hens, but I am thankful they're all safe.

I discovered that the girls like raisins.  I brought some out for them the other day, and they were just slurping them right down.  I feel like I need to make a special effort to make sure Esther gets her fair share, since she's at the bottom of the pecking order, so I was hand feeding them, and I had to literally shove Toasty and Rocky out of the way, and block them with my body, so that Esther could eat hers in peace.

I haven't been taking as many pics of the girls lately, but here's one of Esther sunbathing on Thanksgiving.

I'm still trying to get a video of Esther flying.  The key is to walk away from her, and get the other two to follow, while she's not looking.  Then when she notices we're several yards away, she'll run and fly to catch up.

I think I mentioned that Esther likes to perch on my boot while I'm sitting?  Well the other day she jumped up onto my arm to perch!  While I was standing!  I was so startled when she launched herself up in the air so close to me that I put my arm up by my face, and she still made it, about 5 feet up.  Oofda.  She was eyeing my head, as if she wanted to jump up there.

And...I guess that's it for now.  Take care, friends.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Menu plan for the week of December 11

Good morning, all.  You may recall that last week, I was regretting my decision to freeze our turkey carcass.  Well, I finally got it into the stock pot this weekend.  Actually, it was so big, even stripped and crushed (the boys stomped on it, I think, to get it to fit in the freezer), that I had to use two stock pots.  I estimate I've got a total of about 24 quarts of stock to can today.  That seems like a lot.  More than past years, I think.  It's at least 5 canner loads (more if I decide to can pints).  I think I can get it done in a day.  The Ball Blue Book of Preserving recommends 25 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure for quarts, but adding in the heating, venting, and cooling/returning to 0 pressure time means I'm looking at around 1.5-2 hours per load.  Of course, I don't have enough that makes it difficult to finish today...

In other news, we're preparing for guests again in a couple of weeks, so I'll be doing as much cooking ahead as I can.  Although for the recipes I've chosen, there isn't as much I can do ahead this time.  And yes, I did think about reusing the same menu, but decided instead to customize based on this group's preferences (breakfast and lunch ended up the same, so there's that).

In other, other news, it's Christmas month, so I'll be making some treats.  Last week, I made Grinch cookies (cake mix cookies, dyed green, with candy hearts on them), Rolo pretzels (like this, only instead of using a nut on top, I use a second pretzel), and Mint m&m Oreo cookies.  I'm not sure what's on tap for this week.  I've been in the mood to make dipped things, like buckeyes and Oreo truffles.  I think I might make sugar cookies this week, and I just noticed the Santa's Snickers Surprises recipe when I was looking for the sugar cookie recipe, and it looked enticing.  I guess we'll find out.  Or, at least, I will.  You probably will, too.

Here's what's on the menu this week:



Thursday, December 7, 2017

DIY Sharpie Mugs

Y'all.  I made these mugs.

OK, I didn't actually make them, but I did decorate them.  I am so pleased with how they turned out.  Want to make some?  Here's what I did.

Online consensus is that cheap mugs are best, probably because they're not glazed as well as more expensive ones, so I just grabbed these from the dollar store.  I used graphite to transfer the design onto the mugs, as explained here

All you need to do is create or find a design, then print it out on regular paper.  Cut out the design and turn it over.  Using a pencil, shade over the entire design on the back side of the paper.  Tape it, graphite side to the mug, then using a pen (or pencil), trace over the entire design, pressing firmly.  When you remove the paper, you will see that the design has transferred over to the mug. 

I know.  I could hardly believe it, either (sorry I didn't take pictures--I wasn't sure it would show up on camera, and I was anxious to move on to the next part of the process).

I made this one for someone who could use some hope,
which comes from faith,
which means one must believe. 
I gave her some vanilla syrup, as well as some instant flavored coffee.

Next, I used an oil based sharpie to trace over the design.  Here's the one I used:
The fine point was perfect for "Believe," but I found myself wishing for an extra fine point on "All is calm; all is bright."  The important thing is that it needs to be oil based--regular sharpies will wash off.  You might want to keep some rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs handy to clean up any oopsies.

I'm kind of shaky when I'm trying to trace, but even so, I think they look great.

Next, I let them dry overnight, then I was ready to set the paint.  There is all sorts of advice out there about how to do that.  I've seen suggested temperatures as low as 250°F and as high as 450°F, and suggested times as low as 30 minutes, all the way up to 2 hours.  The internet disagrees on whether the mugs should be placed in a cold or preheated oven.  Most of the blogs I found suggested baking at 350°F for 30 minutes, so that's what I did.  Sort of. 

I put the mugs in the cold oven, set the temperature to 350­°F, and then when the oven was preheated, I set the timer for 30 minutes.  When the timer rang, I turned off the oven, and left the mugs in the oven until they were completely cool.  According to lots of bloggers, baking will make the design permanent.  I'm not sure how many of them tested that theory for longer than a couple of weeks before posting about it, though, and I would definitely recommend hand washing.

I made this one for someone who has had an anxious sort of year. 
She could definitely use some calm in her life,
and next year is looking brighter. 
I filled it with hot chocolate mix, mini-marshmallows,
and a couple of candy canes to stir.
In the meantime, I realized that I hadn't put supper in the slow cooker that morning, and had a moment of panic trying to think of something easy to make that we had all the ingredients for, and didn't require use of the oven.  Breakfast for dinner to the rescue!

Tragedy averted, I wrapped the mugs and goodies in tissue paper, and sent them off to their new homes.

What do you think?  Ready to make some of your own?

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Case Keenum, you made my day

Dear Mr. Keenum,

You made my day, heck, maybe even my year, on Sunday.  Not just because of the win, although a Vikings win always makes for a good day.

And not because of an amazing touchdown celebration, although those are always fun, too.

By the way, that was duck, duck, gray duck, not goose.

No, Mr. Keenum, you made my day because for years, I have been poking fun at announcers and analysts who spend hours on end discussing the key to the game.  They say the key to winning is all sorts of things: capitalizing on this or that, neutralizing one thing or the other, passing yards, time of possession, injuries or lack there-of.  And while all of those things are factors, they are not really the key.

I have known for years that those are not the key, and on Sunday, on the sideline after the game with Pam Oliver, you proved that you know it, too.  The actual key is scoring more points than the other teamThat's how you win games.  And you, well, you said it.  Finally.

Thank you, my friend, for finally setting the media straight on this point.
Scarlet B.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Menu plan for the week of December 4

Hi everybody.  How's your December going?  Ours, so far, has not felt very December-ish.  The unseasonably warm temperatures have been wreaking havoc on our auxiliary refrigeration unit.  In fact, today thunderstorms are in the forecast.   It's supposed to get colder after that, but there still isn't really a good chance of snow in the near future.  I've heard that we're supposed to have an unusually snowy winter this year--hope that's true, but it's sure not looking like it at the moment.

I'm kind of regretting my decision to put our turkey carcass in the freezer, because now I'm having a hard time motivating myself to actually make the turkey stock.  If it had stayed in the fridge, the stock would be done by now.  It's not difficult, not at all--just time consuming.  And it definitely helps to have the auxiliary refrigeration unit up and running.  This week?  Maybe?

Here's what's on the menu this week:


  • Beef stroganoff, green beans, applesauce
  • Nachos with taco toppings and guacamole
  • Chicken broccoli braid (we use 1/2 t each celery salt, garlic powder, dill seed, and dill weed instead of 2 t all purpose dill mix), mandarin oranges
  • Hamburgers, buns, chips, carrots
  • Pizza (saucecrust), salad
  • Chicken nuggets, mixed veggies, pears
  • Grilled steak, mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, applesauce
  • Grandpa R's chicken-rice soup, rolls
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