Saturday, December 31, 2011

Finally can breathe again -- party time!

We went with a carefree tapas-style celebration. Pictured here is Hubby's Garlic Thyme Chicken, alongside some hard cooked eggs with a smoked salmon topping that I made. (Combine 4 ounces of smoked salmon with 1/2 cup mayonnaise, then pipe over hard-cooked eggs.) Sorry, no artsy shots this time around. Hiding behind the chicken are a corkscrew and my mom's medicine box!
FINALLY got to celebrate Christmas with my family! On Christmas eve, Mom had a mild heart attack, but following a heart stent procedure and three grueling nights in CCU, all is good with the mumsy. (I slept in a recliner at her bedside during those nights. Don't know how folks without an advocate get proper care when unable to fend for themselves. Wasn't until the second time I had to go retrieve a nurse that I realized the nurse call buttons on the hospital bed were non-functioning. *sigh*)
   When Mom got home, we had plenty to celebrate! She went from being in the hospital one night to throwing a party the next! Of course, her darling children (*wink*) brought all the food, so our matriarch just got to sit and look pretty while being pampered and fed.
As you can see, taking pics was an afterthought. By the time I thought to take a pic, here's what was left of my Vegetable Empanadas: eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes, cooked down and seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper, then baked in a puff pastry crust.
After spending too many days/nights at the hospital with Mom, it was soo good to be home. For some reason, I had the need to "reclaim" my space, so I scrubbed a floor and decluttered some things on my first day home. Still goaling toward becoming more of a minimalist. These books didn't make the cut--donated them to the library yesterday.  Felt downright cathartic to downsize.
These were some of the keepers.
   Sadly, I learned something yucky about myself: I am a fair-weather friend to green and frugal. In those stressful days spent with mom at the hospital, I forgot my water bottle one day, so drank out of a Styrofoam glass; another day, I ate pop tarts out of the vending machine even tho' I had Clif bars in my bag. When I finally got to stay home, I tossed a few perfectly good foods because I knew they'd go bad before I got to use them...didn't even think about freezing them to use later. Oh, the shame of it! ;)
   No worries, I will cut myself some slack due to the circumstances, but our little family crisis makes clear that it does take time and clear thinking for me to be frugal and green.
   Hope your holidays weren't half so stressful. Around here we now celebrate a new lease on life for my mom's heart.
True to form, I've gotta end with food. For our family's belated Christmas celebration, my "little" brother made bruschetta! (My little 'brudder' is 6'3"!)
Loved baby brother's pâté bruschetta!
   Wishing you and yours a VERY Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Better than gifts: A Christmas Breakfast

Each holiday season, my Aunt M has a Christmas breakfast to which she invites family and friends. The breakfast is her "gift" to each of us. Gotta love that! We drove my folks and picked up another aunt on the way. The four-hour trip was well worth it. We were well fed, but more importantly, we got to reconnect with family we don't often see. Btw, there were plenty of Christmas sweaters around. I'm not a Christmas sweater kinda gal, but I was wearing Christmas socks! ;)
Okay, tho' I took lousy pictures, the spread really was yummy: breakfast casserole, country ham, homemade wheat bread, lemon cake, homemade cherry and berry cheese braids, a fruit salad, coffee cake made from a 100 year old recipe, plus assorted fudges and some commercial petits fours. My fav was a Yuletide Log; though I didn't manage to get it in the pic, it was the best chocolate roll I've ever eaten.
Found my dumb camera. As I'd suspected, it fell out of my purse under the table at a restaurant we'd visited the other night. Best of all, after realizing I was downright happy over its being lost, I called the store today and discovered that I am still within the return policy. Sayonara, crummy camera!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Lost camera leads to Photo-palooza!

Hoping this Kentucky State Fair showcase will inspire me to get off this computer and go create something equally yummy in my own kitchen!
Well, maybe it was inevitable: I LOST my little camera I'd been dissing lately. Hopefully at some point I'll find it and be able to post the pics I took of the absolutely scrumptious spread that my aunt M presented yesterday at her annual Christmas breakfast. Meantime, here's a mish mash of photos I've collected over the past year but never got around to posting. Mostly a bunch of quirky, disparate sights that caught my eye.
Evidently some things are more important than grammar. Yeah, it's risky laughing over someone else's grammar, when I've no idea how many grammatical errors have slipped past me here. ;)
Our meat slicer has more than paid for itself over the years; keeps us from eating thick slices when a thinner slice will do.
While motorcycling through rural Kentucky, we happened on this tiny polling station.
Some free spirits in Owensboro greet visitors with this "yard art" placed in front of their home. The mechanical horse's tail swishes back and forth. Makes me smile every time I drive by.
Can't even remember in what Kentucky town we happened upon this crooked house, but what a hoot!
Finally got smart and put our commercial dishwasher detergent in a container that lets me spoon out only one tablespoon per load, as recommended by the manufacturer. Using the pour spout on the original container made it too easy to use too much detergent. Yes, I still alternate using a commercial detergent with my cheaper, greener homemade detergent.
Hubby repurposed a couple of wine corks to extend this baby toilet seat, so it would fit onto our elongated toilet seat without slipping back.
 This city's sign, which has been there as along as I can remember, never fails to crack me up!
Because I would always rather look at food than anything else, I'll end with this pic taken at Moonlite BarBQ. This locally owned joint--biggest feedbag in town--is a favorite of out-of-towners, so we're sure to have a family get together there sometime during the holidays.
   There are ten HUGE apples in my kitchen waiting to be baked into a pie. Trouble is, I soo do not feel like cooking today. Wish me luck in getting motivated!

Friday, December 16, 2011

On My Mind: BBQ chicken, Cherries

Still hate my camera; still don't feel like posting. Life goes on here tho'. Still cooking as many meals at home as possible. Mostly because home cooking tastes MUCH better than that found in most of the restaurants around here. Hubby barbecued a (humanely raised) chicken for us the other day and we ate its leftovers tonight. Oh, YEAH! (Btw, Hubby tests a chicken for doneness by twisting the legs; that's why the leg bones are missing.)
Just discovered that I still have some cherries in the freezer! When my disorganized freezer yields such an unexpected gift, I'm thinkin' jam...plan to try a new recipe, but then again, we really liked it last time I made Cherry Jam using the basic recipe on the box. I do plan to check out Rhonda's blog first. Maybe she's got something more interesting for me to do with those cherries? (Photo taken at Kentucky State Fair 2011.)
"Grimm" is on TV...intriguing me. Maybe it's time to get off the PC and watch? Hope something FAR MORE INTERESTING is going on with you tonight. In fact, hope you have a wild and wooly weekend!! Don't you just love the holidays?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Catching up: Smoky Ketchup, Meatless Tuesday, Consignment shopping

Made this Smoky Ketchup the other day to eat with some fried oysters. After this shot, my camera battery petered out, so I don't have any proof that we ate oysters, mashed sweet potatoes and sautéed kale. ;)
Didn't manage to eat meatless on Monday, but made up for it on Tuesday. Made our spaghetti with Morningstar Farms mock meat crumbles. Hubby's not crazy about them, so I won't buy them again...once we use up what I've already bought. Hubby didn't complain too much about them this time. I've learned not to add them to the sauce until we plate our food. And of course, a little wine always helps anything to wash down. ;)
Went consignment shopping today to find a highchair for Grandbaby to use when at our house. We did end up finding one to suit our needs, at much less than retail prices. According to Living Greener, buying used "reduces the need to manufacture new materials, meaning less energy is consumed and less water is wasted in the process." Gotta love that!
Must end with this gratuitous pic of the pizza we ate last Friday. My fav E.B.A. pizza is from a locally owned and operated joint, 54 Pizza Express. Though there are lots of reasons to buy local, YUMMY FOOD is my favorite reason to keep going local. BTW, EBA is "everything but anchovies." YUM!
Soo excited that tomorrow is Friday. Maybe another EBA pizza is in my future? One can always hope!
   We have some out of town friends who have a family tradition of inviting friends over for pizza on Fridays. I LOVE that! Another friend makes enough chili for a crowd almost every Friday night during the cooler months. Before I became protective of my Friday nights--preferring to stay in--we ate many a bowl of his Friday night chili.
   Any similar food traditions going on in your neck of the woods?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Farmer Boy was my fav Little House book too!

Gourmet Live has named The Wednesday Chef its Blog of the Week. Gotta love any post that includes text from "Farmer Boy." I still whip that book out from time to time if I'm needing to get re-motivated to home cooking!
   Soon as I get my camera charged back up, I hope to start posting again. HATE my new camera, think I've missed the deadline to take it back, and am posting less because of it. Clearly one of those cases where the fact that I HATE shopping plays against me! *sigh*

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday visits offer a great opportunity to 'Unstuff the Holidays'

When we went to our folks' houses this Thanksgiving, I took along some STUFF that no longer has a place in our lives. Like these crystal glasses that were part of our wedding registry. My SIL snapped these up right away, and I am happy to know someone else will be loving and USING these. Giving things to family doesn't feel like giving "away." There's no sense of loss, as I am just extending the family history of our stuff.
Looks like I'm not the only one with decluttering on my mind. Gotta love this article I just found on Yes! Magazine: Let’s Unstuff the Holidays by Fran Korten — YES! Magazine. Happy Decluttering!!
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