Friday, July 30, 2010

Strawberry Spinach Salad

This salad has become our new favorite salad.  It has a sweet, tangy flavor with lots of crunch.  My family went crazy over it.  The dressing makes enough for two salads.  I stored the leftover dressing in the refrigerator for several days and then used it again on another salad.  It was still yummy.  This salad would be a great spring salad because the spinach and strawberries would be fresh from the garden.  Since we don't have a garden this year, we are enjoying it all summer long.  Hope you enjoy!

1 bag fresh baby spinach
1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup red onion
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries, bacon, onion and nuts.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients to make the dressing.  You can stir it, but I used my stick blender.  Pour about half of the dressing over the salad.  You may prefer to use even less than that.  Refrigerate leftover dressing for later uses. 

grace and peace,

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Missy and the Move

Several of you have asked about Missy and how she is adjusting to the new  place.  I was very concerned about her during the move.  She was so worked up all the time that I thought she might just have a heart attack.  She wouldn't let me out of her sight.  If I went to the bathroom, she went with me.  If I was in the kitchen, she was laying on my feet.  Have you ever tried to cook a meal with a 200 lb dog laying on your feet? 

Gradually she is returning to normal.  She is enjoying her new home.  She loves to lay on the front porch during the early morning or late evenings.  She entertains the neighbor's dog with a large bowl of cold water and a small amount of play.  She is even willing to share Seth with him which frees her up to come back inside and sit in the air condition with me.  She seems more content now.  I can even get a meal cooked without having to step over her. 

grace and peace,

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Icebox Lemonade Pie

I don't know about where you live, but it sure has been hot here in our little corner of the world.  We are also trying to adjust to the humidity here.  In the mountains of East Tennessee, we didn't suffer from as much humidity.  We had wind, but not humidity.  Just for the record, I'll take a little humidity over the wind any day!  I find that when it is hot outside my family enjoys lighter desserts.  This dessert is one our favorites.  It is a refreshing cold pie that is great served next to a glass of sweet iced tea.  It is also easy and can be made several days in advance.  What's not to love?  Hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does!

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup lemonade concentrate
1 (8 oz) carton Cool Whip, thawed
1 graham cracker crust

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Gradually beat in milk until blended.  Beat in lemonade concentrate.  Fold in whipped topping.  Pour into crust.  Cover and refrigerate until set. 

grace and peace,

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Shh...I am Giving Out My Mom's Recipe

When I was growing up, my mom made an amazing meal called Shish Ka Bobs.  I loved this meal as a child, and I love it even more as an adult.  It is an easy way to take a few steaks and feed an entire family.  This is a splurge meal because the meat is expensive.  My mom used fillet Mignon steak, and that is the way I like it.  Why are my boys holding hands you ask?  Because we were ready to pray, but I was busy taking pictures.  What do you need to make this meal?  You really need skewers.  I got mine from mom, but in times past I have used the large wood skewers from Walmart.  Just remember to soak them in water before you use them to keep them from catching on fire.  You can thank me later for that little tip.  You will also need some sort of steak.  Fillet Mignon is the best because it is so tender, but you could use other cuts of your choosing.  You also need to have vegetables.  I use whole red potatoes, red, green, and yellow peppers, onions, and whole mushrooms.  You could add cherry tomatoes or corn on the cob pieces.  I don't, but do what you like.  After all, it is your creation to enjoy.

After you decide what veggies you like, you need to parboil some of them.  I parboil the potatoes.  In a separate pan, I parboil the green peppers and onions.  Parboiling is a simple step that ensures the veggies are done when you are grilling them.  It speeds up the grilling process.  Just cover the vegetables with water and boil just for a few minutes.  You don't want them done when you take them off the stove.  You just want to start the cooking process.  Drain the water off, and set the veggies aside until you are ready to grill.  I usually do this in the morning or early afternoon before I am going to grill them in the evening.  This allows the vegetables to cool before I have to handle them. 

When I am ready to grill, I cut the steaks up into bite size pieces.  I then thread the steaks and veggies on the skewers to prepare them to grill.

There is no magic way to thread the items on the skewers.  You can do it any way you want.  Just make sure you leave some space in between the meat pieces so they can cook well.  Here is the secret part.  Melt a stick of butter or half a stick if you aren't cooking for an army.  Add Worcestershire Sauce.  I add about a 1/4 of a cup, but if you are doing a half stick add less.  Add salt and pepper.  While the shish ka bobs are grilling, spread the butter mixture over the shish ka bobs.  I use a large brush.  Be careful because the butter mixture may cause your grill to flare.  Grill until the meat reaches the desired doneness that your family likes.  For my carnivores, it doesn't take very long for the meat cook.  They like their meat rare.  I like mine more done so I leave one on a little longer to cook.  You can serve them on the skewers or you can do what we do.  We take a large platter and slide all of the shish ka bobs off the skewers and let everyone choose what they want.  This would also be a great dinner party idea.  Ask your guests to bring enough steak for their family and a specific veggie.  Ask each guest to bring different vegetables so you have different things to cook on the shish ka bobs.  This would help alleviate the cost, and everybody could pitch in and thread the skewers.  Squash and zucchini would also be great on the shish ka bobs, but my mom never did that so I don't venture out and do it either.  There are some things that I am traditional about, and my shish ka bobs are one of them!  Do me a favor.  Don't tell my mom that I am giving out her secrets!

grace and peace,
(P.S.  Blogger is having issues with the alignment.  I am sorry about that, and I hope to get it resolved before my next post)!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It Must Be Us

At our farm in Cedar Creek, we spent countless hours working on fences to keep the animals contained.  The horses were the easiest of the animals to keep them were they were suppose to be.  I always liked that about them.  Sully wouldn't cross as much as a string to get to the next field.  The other animals didn't have his same appreciation for our time as he did.  They were always testing the boundaries of the fences.

We no longer have any animals except for Missy.  We downsized during the time of the move.  We were sad to see the  animals leave, but at least we wouldn't be spending time chasing them.  When we moved to the new house, we were delighted that the neighbor's used our property to house their 5 horses.  This was the best of both worlds for us.  We got to enjoy the neighbor's horses, but we didn't have to do any of the work or spend any money on them!  The horses had lived over here for the entire summer.  All was well, but they did get out once or twice.  It was no big deal because they kept the big gate shut that blocks the driveway.  This kept them in the front yard.  Since we have moved into the home, we no longer keep the big gate shut.  We have been here for almost 3 weeks, and the horses have decided that it is fun to escape.  We have chased and put them back several times over these past few weeks.  Things weren't panning out quite like we thought.  On Friday afternoon, Michael came home to all 5 horses running in the road.  He quickly hopped on the 4 wheeler to round up the horses.  Our boys ran out the door without shoes on their feet.  Another neighbor came riding up on his horse to help get the horses put back home.  These horses broke right through our fence.  We have decided that it must be us!  Lesson learned from all of this...before any more animals can be purchased for this farm, we must do a lot of fence repair!

grace and peace,

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Letter to a Childhood Friend

We grew up across the street from one another.  She was older than me by 11 months and 1 week.  I loved the week when I too turned her same age.  I rubbed the fact in like salt in a wound.  Apparently neither one of us really understood the concept of age or time.  We spent many days playing Barbies or babies together under the shade of her large oak trees.  We drew hopscotch squares on the street and competed to see who could throw the rock the best and reach the number 10 first.  We played Chinese jump rope together.  I was standing in her living room the day I saw my dad carry out a bundle and place it in his trunk.  I knew that my beloved German Shepherd had died.  She comforted me as I cried.  She was a year ahead of me in school.  She made the band and became part of the color guard.  I wanted that position so bad, but I wasn't quite coordinated enough to master it.  She spent hours helping me learn the routine standing in the same road that we grew up playing in.  We moved on to college and became roommates in the dorm.  Shortly there after, I got married and moved away from our neighborhood and our college dorm.  I went on to birth three boys and she moved away to make her mark in the big city.  She too eventually got married and had a baby girl 11 months and 1 week before my baby girl was born.  Although we don't live next door to one another, our girls have found a friendship.  The girls would both be visiting their grandparents during the holidays and quickly found a friend in each other.  They too play under the shade of the oak trees that remain in her childhood yard.  They too play in the same road that was our domain so many years ago.

Last summer my daughter went to her house and spent a week.  This summer her daughter came to our home.  What a special treat to see our two girls being together.  What a treasure it was to be with a child that reminds me so much of a childhood friend, and to get to know her.  What a pleasure it was to have her daughter snuggle up with me on the couch and let me scratch her back and just love on her.  Thank you for the best gift of time with your children and time with you.  Thank you for loving me with all of my faults.  By the way, I am sorry that I stole your boyfriend so many years ago.  Neither one of us wanted him in the end so it worked out, but I am sorry that I hurt you then. It is one of many regrets of my teenage years. I forgive you for telling me that there was no Santa Clause, tooth fairy, or Easter Bunny.  I also forgive you for telling me there were alligators living under my bed.  By the way, I still sometimes check under my bed to make sure all is well when I am home alone.  I think of you each and every time. 

There is something very special about having a friend that has grown up with you, seen your good and bad, lived the same childhood history as yourself.  As she was standing in my kitchen this time, she asked me about the lunchbox that was on top of my cabinet.  Her dad also carried one like it to the mines.  She too has the same memories of a father coming home smelling of coal dust. Then ever so quietly she said, "I miss seeing him get out of his truck, carrying his lunchbox."  I too miss my dad, but no more words were needed between childhood friends.

grace and peace,

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Recipe Organization

Do you remember several months back that I asked for help with recipe organization?  Many of you stepped up to the plate and left some great ideas.  Tnfarmgirl called me after that post.  She commanded me to set a date that we could meet.  She came to the house armed with binders, plastic covers, and tabs.  She spent the whole day with me organizing my recipes.  I can't tell you how much I have enjoyed her handy work.  I am now an organized recipe collector and owner!!  Her system is simple and best of all it works.  She brought 2 heavy duty large 3 ring binders.  They have pockets in the front and back.  She brought tabs that also had pockets in the front and back.  She labeled the tabs and we started placing my recipes in the plastic sleeves and filling up the binder.  The pockets that are on the tab sheets are there to store recipes that I would like to try.  For instance, if I find a good looking chicken recipe I can just tuck it in the pocket labeled chicken.  It will be waiting for me when I am ready to try it. If I like it, then it will go into a plastic sleeve and be added to the binder.  If we don't enjoy the dish, the recipe will go into the trash. 

Here is the part that has always given me fits in the past.  Her suggestion was to take apart all of my other homemade cookbooks and put them in the new binders.  We did just that.  We also started copying my favorite recipes out of my other cookbooks.  The addition of a printer with a copy machine has been greatly appreciated for this job! I added those recipes  to my new binders as well.  Now if I am making a meal all I have to grab are these two binders and not 6 different cookbooks!  I leave all of my other cookbooks on a bookshelf upstairs. 

I am still in the process of making copies of my favorite cookbook recipes.  Cheri suggested that as I use the recipe from a cookbook to take a few moments and make a copy.  Each time I cook I should get another recipe added to my binder.  I can't tell you how much frustration that I have eliminated out of my life due to this one organization project.  Thank you, Cheri!!!!!  Your the best!

grace and peace,

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer Time

This summer has been especially crazy for us with the move and new job.  However, other aspects of our summer have been all too quiet.  With no garden planted this year, my canner is still packed away in boxes.  This has freed a lot of time for me to unpack boxes.  Just for the record, I would rather be gardening and canning than moving! 

 What have we been doing to have a little fun during our summer?  We have enjoyed a wide range of friends and family visiting us at our home.  Summer is always a time for visits from out of town people and this summer has been no different.  In the above picture, Jacob was having a great time with our friends' girls from Texas.  This child followed him around the whole evening they were with us.  He loved it!

Before the move, the kids enjoyed lazy evenings playing on the trampoline.  We still haven't put it back together, but soon they can jump and scream until their little hearts desire once again.  We have also been enjoying the new lake in our area.  Swimming is great fun and it wards off the extreme heat that we have been enduring. 

The house is still coming together.  Michael has started unpacking boxes in his shop.  The shop will take several months to be put in order.  It is a jungle down there!  I am finding that I am enjoying the house more than I previously thought I would.  It is nice to have a house that is in need of no work.  I am enjoying keeping it clean.  I am back to making regular meals for our family to enjoy.  In between cooking, cleaning, and having fun, I am still unpacking boxes.  Perhaps by Thanksgiving there will be no more boxes to unpack!  Well, I am not holding my breath on that one!

grace and peace,

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Saying Goodbye

We lived in boxes and ate cereal out of plastic cups.

Missy slept on the big pile of moving blankets.

The rest of us slept on the floor.

We said goodbye to our oldest son.  This goodbye was the hardest part of the whole move for me.  We also said goodbye to our farm and all of our dreams for that piece of property.  We said goodbye to the home that we have poured our hearts, our labor, and our finances into for the last 6 1/2 years.  I'm not going to was hard.  But, we said Hello to the next part of our life... a new BEAUTIFUL home that doesn't need any updates or work or walls removed...8 acres that will be room enough to house the animals that we desire...a fantastic job for my husband...and weekends of fun when our oldest son will come and enjoy being part of our family once again. 

grace and peace,

P.S.  I haven't taken any new pictures of our new home.  Stay tuned for those soon!