Friday, September 30, 2011

Cook Book Renovation Part III

Warning: Repurposing a cook book can do strange things to a body ...

It's not too easy on ink pads either.

Apparently, ink pads aren't fond of being dragged upside-down across a page. Who knew?!?

It's been a quite a process, but I'm beginning to see what Grandma's cook book is going to look like when it's done.

Note that this picture has all the essential elements: Dried flowers from Gram's yard, the list of her most-used recipes that my mom wrote, said recipes torn and ready to glue, the book, and of course, a small handful of brown-bottomed candy corn. Everything's better with brown-bottomed candy corn!
I've finished inking and modifying all the pages. Most of the recipes are glued in. I've since been given a few additional recipe cards with popular family recipes that Gram wrote as well.

These two pages are some of my favorites so far. I mod-podged the flowers and an old grocery list of my grandmother's onto the page. I intentionally didn't make it super smooth. I like the slightly rumpled look. It matches the old pages well.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Using All Those Green Peppers ...

One very full bowl of green peppers ...

A cutting board, a paring knife, and said peppers ...

Peppers-- seeded, chopped, and stuffed one pepper each per snack size zip bag ...

One gallon size bag filled with as many pepper-filled snack bags as will fit, zipped shut, and laying flat in the freezer ...

Toss one small bag, still frozen or partially thawed, into one recipe soup, chili, or casserole as needed ...

Menu Plan Monday 2

Monday-- Roasted Chickpeas, fruits and veggies, sliced bread (Life threw a curve ball, and we didn't end up eating chickpeas last week.)
Tuesday-- Chicken Taco Soup (Half a batch in the freezer already ... Just planning on tossing it in the crock pot before work.)
Wednesday -- Tuna Fish Sandwiches, pickles, and applesauce (I know you're jealous!)
Thursday -- Corned Beef Brisket, mashed potatoes, fruit, and bread
Friday -- Pasta with Olive Oil, Italian Seasoning, and Balsamic Vinagrette (Easy to adjust amounts if the kids go to their dad's that night.)
Saturday -- Baked Barley and Mushroom Casserole, Apples
Sunday-- Scones at Grandma's and Papa's House (I hope. I hope. I hope!)

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Menu Plan Monday

Friday, September 23, 2011

Better Than an Old-Time Funeral Procession

My drive to work involves a long and winding back road. Most days, there is little traffic, and it's fairly uneventful. Some days though, it's better than an old-time funeral procession. You know, the old ones where every one took back roads the whole way and drove around ten miles an hour, complete with lights and a police escort? Yeah, sometimes it's that kind of exciting ...

Enter Mr. Harley Davidson-- I know, my originality in choosing names just sneaks up on you, doesn't it?

Back to H.D. Apparently he had missed the memo that Sunday drives are for ... well, Sundays. (Cruising is too enthusiastic a word, but we'll use it anyway.) Cruising along, Mr. H.D. sat comfortably on his bike, his head swiveling casually from side to side. I'm fairly certain that he saw each and every flower, field, and fruit tree along the way. He was obviously content to bask in the beauty all around him. Each time we approached a side road, he'd slow down and stare thoughtfully in either direction as if to determine if they were appealing enough to cause him to forsake this road's current pleasures.

As we made up our own stately procession, I found myself giggling. Who rides a Harley, wears leather, and drives quietly and sedately? (H.D. apparently ... ) Come to think of it, who knew Harleys could be that quiet? Thought lead to thought, and I realized that I had never seen a motorcycle drive so slowly for so long. Who knew they could do that without falling over?!?

As the hilarity of the moment was wearing off, our leisurely drive rounded the bend ...

just in time to nearly be run off the road by a wildly-careening women's cycling team, who had just shot out from a side road in front of us. Watching as my Harley riding friend narrowly avoiding being tangled in a mass of women in matching bike wear (and of course their bicycles), I found myself laughing again. I really think that with their speed, and his rapture with his surroundings, those women could have taken him. 

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cream of [Insert Variety Here] Soup

 A few months ago, I realized that coming up with a homemade alternative to condensed "cream of" soups would not only reduce our packaging waste. but it would likely be a great deal healthier. I love recipes that call for "cream of soups" and wasn't willing to consider giving them up; I just wanted to change things up a bit so they were better for us and the world around us.

2 Cups nonfat dry milk powder
3/4 Cup cornstarch
2 Tbsp. dried onion
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 Cup chicken bouillon powder/granules
1 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. thyme
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Combine all the ingredients in an airtight container, and shake it up. (I used a Better Homes and Gardens snap and lock style container. Super easy to use -- just set the top on and flip the handle-- and they get a great seal. No, they didn't pay me to say that. They don't know I exist ... )

To use:

(For convenience, I used a sharpie both to label the container and write the proportions to use on the actual container.)
Combine 1/3 cup of dry mix with 1 1/4 cups of water in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat and stir until thickened. (I usually turn the heat up just past medium to bring it to a simmer pretty quickly, then adjust the heat to keep it simmering while I stir.)

I sauted some canned mushrooms in just a little bit of butter. I just added the soup mix to the mushrooms and then added the water.

You could do the same with some celery, a bit of chicken, or fresh mushrooms, etc. to create the flavor mix that you want.

If I am using this recipe in a casserole, I tend not to thicken the roux quite so much. If you like it super thick, you may want to consider doubling the amount you use.

While this mix does take a few more minutes than opening a can, it is still fairly quick and it certainly tastes better. I even used this in tonight's dinner: Crock Pot Chicken and Corn Enchilada Casserole

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