Sunday, November 23, 2014

Changing Scarves

Yes, I know it isn't even Thanksgiving.  But I am still removing the Autumn decorations from the B&B.  For the next month we will have a lot of family visiting and then I have to go visit my mother in California.  We close the B&B when I am out of town, even when Lee stays here.  So we only have one weekend available for guests.

 

I recently placed a lamp in the bedroom of the B&B and had a rust colored napkin from Pier 1 under it.  That was the extent of my "decorating" in the bedroom.  We returned to Pier 1 and made another extravagant purchase of TWO napkins and a napkin ring made of small red bells.

 

I am going for Christmassy, yet subtle.  And I have no idea why HDTV hasn't called me to host a decorating show.  Really, they are missing out on GENIUS, here

I have one box of Autumn decorations in the storage area.  Now I have to determine how much of the Christmas decorations I want to put out.  We only have one more guest booked for this year.  They should get some Christmas decor along with their trip.

 

It used to be fun to put up Christmas decorations with the kids.  We would put on the Messiah and everyone got to put out the decorations they liked the best. 
Now it is just the two of us.  I need some grandchildren.  Do you have any extras?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sidewalk


 
The sidewalk we started a few weeks ago is finished.  When I say we, I mean Lee and the contractor.  Lee used the tractor to haul out the dirt and bring in the rock.  He also helped shovel stuff in the front loader.

 

I have a good excuse for not helping.   I have a bad back.  Lee has a bad back, but you can't tell him to be careful.  Well, you can, but he may or may not listen.

 

I was, however the landscape architect, if you will.  I wanted the lines of the sidewalk to mimic the curves of the garden.  I also wanted to incorporate the area around the flagpole.

 

I liked the organic look of the curves.  I also didn't want any places that needed mowing between the lawn and the garden.  Little bits of mowing would be a pain.

I'm hoping the longer space between the lawn and the garden will cut down on the weeds.  But that may be just a pipe dream.

 

Lee removed the old pavers and filled the holes.  We figure new grass will take over in spring.  We are in no hurry.  Then we have to pull up the pavers bordering the garden , fill under them with sand and reset them.  I think that will wait for a warmer day.  Like Spring!

Now we have an inviting walk to the front door.  No more getting your feet wet trying to step in the pavers on a rainy afternoon.

 

Of course, now we have a front sidewalk to shovel on snowy days. 

The new rule is that on snowy days you should come in the back door through the garage.  Wait a minute.  That was the old rule. 

Remind me again why we put in this sidewalk?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Baked Lemon Sour Cream Donuts

I bought some lemons and then didn't use them.  I started searching for something I could bake to use them up.  I opened a drawer to get out a casserole dish and saw my Wilton donut pans.  What a good idea.  Lemon donuts!  But not just lemon.  How about I use some sour cream?  Sounds like a plan.

And while donuts are not usually considered healthy, these are baked, not fried.  And I used lemon which is a fruit.  So there.

 

Baked Lemon Sour Cream Donuts

2 cups flour,  I used

1 cup flour
1 cup cake flour because that is all the cake flour I had.  I can't tell a difference between cake flour and regular flour, but I am new at this donut baking business.

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup milk or buttermilk if you have it.
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon extract
zest of one lemon  Go ahead and zest two because you will need some for the

 

Glaze

1/3 cup powdered sugar
zest of one lemon
1 drop yellow food coloring, optional
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
3 teaspoons milk or I used half and half

The glaze is optional.  You can just dust the finished donuts with powdered sugar.  It's a lot faster and cleaner, but not as lemony.

 

Heat the oven to 425°.  Spray the donut pans with Pam and set aside.

 

Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Break the eggs into a bowl and beat them with a fork.  Add the eggs and them all the rest of the wet ingredients, including the zest from one of the lemons.

 

Carefully mix until blended and them use a small measuring cup to fill the donut shaped depressions in the prepared baking pan.

 

I wet a paper towel and cleaned off the middle peg where the batter spilled.  Bake for 9 to 11 minutes.  The surface should spring back when touched and they should just start to brown.  The bottom will be a lot browner than the top.

Let cool and them remove to a cooling rack.  When cool dust with powdered sugar or glaze.

 

Mix all the glaze ingredients in a small bowl.  You may add sugar it is too thin or milk if it is too thick.  I made mine a bit thin as I didn't want to overwhelm myself with sugar.  Place a piece of waxed paper under the cooling rack to catch the drips and drizzle the glaze over the donuts. 

 


Enjoy with a hot beverage or glass of milk. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Spoiled Dog

We had to go to Petsmart to get some dog and cat food.  Sure, you can get pet food in any grocery or discount store.  But we discovered years ago that better pet food means fewer trips to the vet.  And the "processed" pet food is less objectionable.  Slightly.

 

I noticed that the giant dog beds we get for RJ were on sale.  The cover of his has been washed multiple times and the fabric is getting a bit thin.  Plus there is a big dent where he likes to sleep.

I guess his humans haven't been turning it around frequently enough.  You can't get good help these days.

 

So RJ got a brand new bed.  He always takes great interest in his new beds.  This one is a bit smaller, but still more than adequate for one medium sized dog.  He gets a new one about once a year.  Lots of sniffing going on.

 

And because we have to bring him a treat for his oral fixation, he got a cow part.  He likes many sorts of cow parts.  This time it was a hoof.

 

The neighbor down the street has a puppy he keeps in a small chain link kennel.  All day and night.  He has a simple plastic dog house.  And that's it.  It was 20 degrees yesterday morning. 

 

Some would say we spoil our dog.  RJ is a rescue dog, so he may agree.  But he is a very good boy and works hard to deserve it.  You know, for a dog.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Grilled Chocolate Sandwich

A lot of my recipe ideas come from the books I happen to be reading at the time.  Because I read about a book a day...well, maybe 5 a week, I can't remember the book I was reading when I read about this amazing idea.  Two women were having a gab session when they decided to have some grilled chocolate sandwiches.  That's all they said about it.

A lot of books with recipes include them at the end.  I flipped to the back of the book, no recipe.  But this sounded like the perfect late night snack for a girls get together.  No females dropped by my house so I decided to invent the sandwich and force feed offer it to my husband for dessert after a light meal of soup.

We all know and love grilled cheese, right?  And almost anyone can make one of those.  I started with that premise and decided the chocolate could be from Nutella.  Nutella has a hazelnut base, so I figured it was a protein and sort of, kinda, healthy.  I decided this based on no actual basis in fact.

 

This isn't actually a recipe as much as an idea you should take into consideration. 

Bread
Nutella
Butter

 

Yep.  that's it.  I used an electric griddle, but any fry pan would work.

 

Just spread some Nutella on a slice of bread.  I used white wheat, cause I am all about healthy CHOCOLATE sandwiches.

 

Place another slice on top and butter the outside of that and place the buttered side down on the hot pan.  Then butter the side facing you.  When the bottom is a toasty brown flip the sandwich over and brown the other side.

"HEY!"  I can hear you yelling.  "That isn't a recipe.  I do that for grilled cheese when there is nothing else in the fridge and I need some comfort food."

Yes, but did you ever think about chocolate instead of cheese?  I thought not.

 

The sandwich dessert was pretty good.  The outside was buttery and crispy and the Nutella was warm and melty.  In fact, I could have slathered on a thicker pile of the chocolaty goodness.  But remember, we are going healthy, here.

Lee wondered why I didn't add fruit inside.  You know, like Elvis used to like grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches.  I am not a slices of banana fan, but you go right ahead and add some.  Even better would be some sliced strawberries.  Or raspberries and use a Panini pan.  Or even a George Foreman Grill.  You see where I am going here?  Easy peasy and delicious. 

And if you add fruit to the Nutella protein, it is a main course.  AND healthy.  Sort of.  Kinda.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Gimme Shelter

We are in the process of getting a sidewalk to our front door.  When we bought the house about 7 years ago there were a few pavers to step in awkwardly to get to the front door and we always meant to replace them.  They made it difficult to mow and then you had to use the weed eater to keep them clear.  Forget getting to the front door after a snow.  Granted most people don't come to the front door, but maybe they will after our upgrade.

 

Sidewalks require a bed of crushed rock and as long as they were bringing a load for the sidewalk, Lee decided to order some additional rock to use for under his shelter.  Why do they need a shelter, you ask?  Yes, I know.  We have a 2 1/2 car garage attached to the house.  We have a three car shop. That should be sufficient for most anybody.  Certainly enough for a couple of empty nesters. But we have more vehicles than spaces. 

 

We do have a barn for parking a few vehicles, but as we are no longer using it, it has become a haven for small rodents.  Mice like to eat the rubber around electrical wires for some reason.  This is a bad thing.  I have thought about getting a semi feral cat for the barn, but I am worried it will come to the house and eat our pampered cats.  Or the dog will not recognize it as family and eat the cat!  Someone needs to send us an owl.

 

So Lee had a shelter built next to the shop for his truck and the tractor.  The farm truck has to sit in the sun and rain.  The problem is that the ground under the shelter becomes muddy when it rains.  It rains about 3 inches a month.  Every month.  That is a lot of mud.  It makes a mess on the driveway and every pile of mud on the driveway makes the ground under the shelter lower each year.

 

Lee bought some treated lumber and placed it around the bottom of the shelter to hold in the rock.  He used the tractor front loader to dump the rock and then used the bucket to smooth it a bit.  We still had to get out there and shovel and rake to get it mostly level.  Lee would never have asked me to help, because of my back issues, but I was able to do my share with no adverse consequences.

I KNOW there are no pictures of me helping, therefore this is not a provable fact, but I was there.  Really!  Someone had to hold the camera!

 

The crushed rock is called crush and run or crusher run.  It is various sizes of rock with rock dust mixed in.  As it rains and the rock bed is compressed by driving over and over, it becomes a hard surface.  It can even be scraped with the tractor blade, if you are careful.

There was enough left over for Lee to make a parking spot for the farm truck.  Now our driveway will be so pretty and clean.

 

Wait a minute!  Did we just spend all this time and money for a pretty driveway?  You would think we didn't have enough to do.  Maybe it is because Lee sent the 1974 Camaro off to be painted and he doesn't have a car to work on.
 


The sidewalk project is on hold because the delivery guys that are supposed to bring the rebar and wood for the forms to build the sidewalk are all out deer hunting.  This is not a problem in most big cities, but it is an issue around here. Well, we waited for 7 years, so another few days won't matter.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Cauliflower Cheese

I'm one of those dinosaurs that likes to read the paper.  I also read the news online and watch news shows on television.  I read everything, except the classifieds.  I really like the recipes because they don't make me mad like the news and opinions sometimes do!

I came across a cauliflower recipe in a recent paper.  Lee loves cauliflower so I cut it out.  Then I went to one of my favorite cooking blogs,  Smitten Kitchen, and found that she had a cauliflower recipe, also.  I went with hers.  For me it made almost too much cheese in the cheese-to-cauliflower ratio, but maybe I had a smaller head of cauliflower.  On the other hand, who am I to worry about too much cheese?

 


Cauliflower Cheese

1 medium head cauliflower
4 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons mustard powder  This was very mustardy at first taste, but mellowed into delicious.
Fresh ground pepper or cayenne if you are adventurous, to taste
2 cups milk, I used 2%
1 1/4 cups grated sharp Cheddar Cheese

 

Start a medium pan of water to boil.  Heat oven to 400°.  I sprayed a 2 quart baking dish with Pam and set aside.

 

Cut the cauliflower in half and then cut off all the florets.  Cut them into 1 to 2 inch pieces.  When the water is boiling, drop them in the pan for about 7 minutes. 

 

Then drain and place back in the warm pan to dry off a bit.

 

In a medium pan, melt the butter and then add the flour.  Cook for a minute or so to get rid of the floury taste.  Add the mustard and the pepper of choice.  Drizzle the milk in a thin stream into the flour mixture while whisking with the other hand.  This will help prevent lumps.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue stirring.  When the mixture thickens, add the cheese a handful at a time and stir until combined, reserving a few Tablespoons for later.

 

Taste the sauce with a small spoon and add salt or pepper to taste.  Place the used spoon in the sink.  Eating off the spoon you use to cook is disgusting and unsanitary.  This is how we spread Ebola, people.  OK, maybe not Ebola, but just don't do it.  Yuck.

 

Carefully dump the cauliflower in the baking dish and then pour the cheese sauce over it.  You may need to stir a wee bit to distribute it evenly.  Sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top and bake for about 35 minutes.  The cheese on top will turn brown and the sauce should bubble up around the cauliflower.

 

This makes an perfect winter or fall side dish.  I like to add a bit more pepper on top.

We had left overs and the next day I sautéed some onions, zucchini and thin slices from half of a lite Polska Kielbasa.  I served this with the reheated cauliflower and it was delish.  Lee mixed his together, but I carefully mixed each bite on the fork in my left hand with the perfect mix of cheese to meat and veg.  Veddy British.  I'm still preparing for my visit with the Queen.  Just in case.