Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Vintage Home Ec & Plum Squares

This week we have all been very busy around the house, we are getting everything ready for my daughter's sweet 16 birthday BBQ. Then right into 4th of July celebrations. As I was working on organizing some of my books, I came across two very fun vintage Home Ec books that I bought awhile back.

These books are wonderful, Adventuring in Home Living from 1959, and Teen Guide to Home-Making from 1961. I bought these when I realised that our middle school didn't have a home ec class. When I was in middle school, it was one of most favorite classes. Now these books are from before my time, I was born in 1973, but even in the mid '80s when I was in 7th and 8th grade everyone had to take basic home ec and basic shop, after that you could go on to more advanced versions of both classes if you wanted to. I took "fashion sewing" in the 8th grade and loved that I could make my own things. I do think the kids these days are missing out by not having these classes.

As I look through the subjects in my vintage Home Ec. books, I am amazed at how many wonderful things were taught to the students. Everything from proper grooming, care of clothing, how to shop for good quality items, healthy meal planning, cleaning skills, caring for the sick, doing your share in the family, entertaining guests- the list goes on.

All of these things are important to living a good and healthy life. I can't wait to spend some time going through these books with my kids, I am looking forward to learning some of these wonderful skills. I would encourage everyone to try finding some of these old home ec text books on ebay or at the thrift shop or used book shop. Super fun to read!!

Now for a recipe- last night for dessert I made Plum Squares- this is a wonderful easy recipe- and would be great for a summer potluck.

Plum Squares

Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter (softened or even mostly melted)
2 eggs
1 18 oz. jar of plum preserves

Add all of the ingredients to a bowl, and mix until crumbly. pat half of the mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13 in. baking pan sprayed with cooking spray. Spread the jam over this layer within a 1/4 inch from edge. Then crumble the rest of the mixture over the top.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until top looks cooked and light golden. Careful removing- the jam will be bubbling hot. Let cool, and cut into squares. This same recipe would be good with just about any preserves.

Hope everyone is having a nice week and gearing up for the holiday weekend!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunshine and Flowers

This week I am noticing a lot of yellow and orange flowers in bloom. They are very beautiful, and remind me of the sunshine that has finally decided to stick around for awhile.

Here are some pictures of the Stella D'Oro Day Lily- I have a few of these in my garden, and they always do really well. This is one of those plants that some say you can't beat dead with a stick- to prove that my lab puppy, Zoey, at the beginning of the season when they first came up, took it upon herself to dig at them until they were mostly to ground level- after putting up yet another fence- they grew back, and are flowering nicely. So if you don't have a green thumb, this is the plant to choose. Stella D'Oro means Star of Gold, and they do indeed look like a bright happy star.

Peeking out from various garden foliage (a.k.a. weeds that grew from bird seed that I still need to pull) are some beautiful orange violas. I love this peachy orange color.

Some of the Sedum has started to blossom pretty yellow flowers.

The marigolds are starting to do nicely- I love how this classic garden staple stays colorful for so long- this is the first year I grew some from seed and they are doing well- next year I plan to try a few more varieties. I love tucking these in throughout the veggie garden.

I finally planted some Nasturtium, I have wanted to for years, it is so beautiful, some of them are this dark electric orange, and some are yellow with orange markings, they are doing really well.

Here is an update on the now ginormous weed that we have left in the garden to watch and blog it's progress over the summer. I will have to bring out a measuring tape this week to be sure, but it must be more than four feet tall, and is now covered with flower buds, we are all getting very excited to watch this one bloom. It is really something to see, very huge, and very prickly, I imagine the birds will love the seeds.

Today we decided to eat lunch at a beautiful little park we have right in our neighborhood. This little park sits right next to a large field of berries, and has a lovely view of Mt. Hood off in the distance. It is also surrounded by wet land so there are plenty of birds fling around. Perfect Sunday lunch spot.

While we were there walking around the little trail, I spotted yet another blooming yellow flower. I am not sure what this one is called, if any one knows what this flower is, I would love to learn. Very pretty delicate petals with a wonderful center that just dances in the wind. It is on a low little green bush, very pretty flower.

All of these sunny colored flowers reminds me of this happy bible verse.

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Grandma's Cherry Carnival

When I was young, my grandma had the most wonderful cherry tree in her front yard- her house was in the suburbs and when she bought the cherry tree it was supposed to be semi-dwarf- over the years it became obvious this was no semi-dwarf cherry tree but full sized. This tree produced the most wonderful cherries- we would help grandma pick them every year- and loved all the fresh cherries we would get to eat- she also canned a bunch of them- which were both beautiful and wonderful tasting!

One of my favorite desserts that she would make using these cherries was called Cherry Carnival- a moist cake with cherries inside and topped with a sweet cherry sauce. Today I decided I would make this recipe as a nice summer afternoon dessert.
Very wonderful, and it brought me right back to when I was young, it was nice telling the kids how grandma used to make this recipe for me when I was young.

This recipe is perfect for summer - cherries always remind me of summertime.

Cherry Carnival

Preheat oven to 350 F.

1 can pie cherries (I used a 15 oz can of Dark Sweet Cherries)-Drain and Reserve the liquid from the cherries for the sauce.

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream shortening and sugar, then beat in eggs in a bowl. Sift dry ingredients together, and mix in alternating with milk. Add vanilla, then fold in drained cherries (remember to save the juice from the cherries for the sauce).

Pour into a greased & floured 8x8 inch square baking pan. Bake at 350 F. 30-45 minutes or until done, when toothpick inserted in center comes out dry- or the sides shrink away from the pan. Set aside to cool. I let mine cool for about 15- 20 minutes then I start making the sauce- you could also make the cake before dinner and then make the sauce right before you are ready to serve it.

Cherry Sauce

Reserved Cherry juice plus water to make 2 cups of liquid
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tsp. butter
1/4 tsp. vanilla or almond extract (original recipe calls for Almond extract which would probably taste wonderful if you were not allergic to tree nuts)
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

In a small bowl or cup mix corn starch with just enough water to make a paste the consistency of cream. My sauce never seems to thicken with out adding more than 2 tablespoons of cornstarch- so I use two heaping tablespoons. If you need to add more to get your sauce to thicken be sure and mix it with water first, so you don't get clumps- this sauce is very much like making a gravy.

Add water to the reserved cherry juice to make 2 cups of liquid, pour into a saucepan, and add 1 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Add corn starch mixture slowly to the boiling sauce, stir constantly until thickened. When sauce has thickened remove from heat and add butter, flavor extract, and cinnamon. Serve warm over cherry cake. I cut the cake into 9 pieces.

This classic homemade dessert is sure to be a hit with your family, hope everyone gives it a try this summer!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Siberian Wallflowers

This week I had to drive into Silverton, Oregon for a doctor appointment. The drive was beautiful, lots of beautiful farm country, cute baby farm animals, interesting barns and houses. When I came upon this scene, I was breath taken. Such a beautiful color, on the way back home, we had to stop for a picture. We only had my hubby's phone camera, but I just had to have this picture. We pulled over by the Field, the minute we stepped out of the van, the air was filled with the scent of these flowers. This field of flowers was planted by a seed company, and luckily they had a sign post of what was growing- Siberian Wallflowers.

This beautiful field of flowers reminded me of Matthew 6:25-34 Were Jesus is talking about not worrying.

Especially Matthew 6:28-29 -And why do you worry about your clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

Also Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25-34 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible, as I tend to worry more than I ought to. Seeing this field of beautiful flowers was a nice reminder. I hope everyone has a wonderful Sunday, and a nice Father's Day!

Scenic Sunday

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Passing Down Recipes

One of the activities that I have planned for this summer is to organize my recipes, as well as help my daughter, who will be 16 years old next month, start her own recipe notebook. I started keeping my recipes in a notebook about a year ago, but still have not completed transferring all of my recipes into the notebook. I have old hand written passed down recipe cards, some printed out from the computer, some ripped out from magazines, as well as many bookmarked in cookbooks. The notebook I originally chose was too big, and difficult to manage, so I decided I would break my recipes into two notebooks, one for cooking, and one for baking. I bought my daughter a matching notebook, I will start her with one for now.

Today we had fun designing the covers for our notebooks on the computer. I started her off with some of our favorite cookie recipes, and a few others. I like to put the recipes in plastic page protectors, that way they can easily be wiped off if they get splashed on while cooking. I usually take out the plastic recipe page from the notebook, and hook it to the fridge with magnets, so I can easily reference it while cooking, or bring it right to the counter. I plan on working with her a few times a week on making copies of different recipes to add to her notebook, as well as cooking and baking some of these recipes with her.

Sarah is already very good at baking cookies, and muffins, this summer I would like to have her start cooking more of our main dishes. I have always loved cooking and baking, and enjoy working with my daughter in the kitchen passing down family recipes as well as trying new ones.

Right now I am off to bake a batch of Oatmeal Scotchies with Sarah (using the classic recipe from Nestle Toll House Butterscotch Chips). She will be bringing them along with lunch for a day of fishing with her dad, brother, and good friends tomorrow. Hope everyone is having a nice week!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Brown Sugar Bacon Crumble Muffins

School let out last Thursday, and I have been having a wonderful time hanging out with the kids. My daughter loves watching Cake Boss, and we were looking for something to watch and came across a show called Cupcake Wars. We have enjoyed watching a couple episodes, and I have been inspired by all of the different flavor combinations they come up with for the cupcakes- some sound gross and others interesting like a Maple Bacon Cupcake. I was inspired by the idea of bacon in a sweet muffin, so today I made the family Brown Sugar Bacon Crumble Muffins, and they were delicious! Here is the recipe.

Brown Sugar Bacon Crumble Muffins

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Muffin Batter
2 cups Flour
1 T Baking Powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup melted butter
5-6 pieces cooked bacon coarsely chopped

Crumble Topping
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 pieces cooked bacon coarsely chopped

Mix all of the ingredients for the muffin batter in one bowl until combined- do not over beat- I mix mine by hand until everything is well incorporated. Set aside.  I am thinking about adding cinnamon to the batter next time as well.

Mix all ingredients for crumble topping in one bowl until combined.

Spray muffin pan with cooking spray- both the muffin cups and top of pan, as the muffins rise above top of cup.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full, then cover top of each muffin with crumble topping. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 F. or until knife inserted in the center of muffin comes out clean.

These taste wonderful the bacon and the brown sugar really balance each other out- these would be great for a breakfast or brunch. I will definitely be making these again!!
Linking to:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The June Garden

June is the month that my garden really gets going. The rain has finally let up and the temperature is warm enough to get those summer veggies growing and the flowers blooming. Getting out in the garden to work in some sunshine always boosts my energy! I just love it. This last week I finished getting in the rest of the seeds and transplanting my starts. Take a look at all the flowers and herbs blooming and growing throughout the garden.

First this week I noticed the Irish and Scottish moss in bloom- I just love all the tiny little white flowers.

The bees are buzzing through the thyme's blossoms. My golden oregano is a beautiful color.

I love the purple flowers on the sage.

This little tree planted itself shortly after we had our fence built, it is too close to the house, and the fence, and at some point we will have to keep it very pruned or remove it- but I continue to be amazed how well this tree is growing all on its own- much better even than the shrubs that I planted carefully in prepared soil. I love the bright green of the new growth.

I look forward to the bright pink flowers on the Dianthus every year.

The Creeping Jenny is making its way around the shrubbery, I love its golden to chartreuse green color, sometimes I have to cut it back, but it is a great ground cover otherwise.

Here is how the Giant Weed from my previous post is doing- it is huge- I am amazed that in such a short time it is bigger than shrubs that I have had growing for nearly six years. It looks like it will have 4-5 flowers maybe more fairly soon. I will continue blogging the progress of this amazing weed all summer.

The Blueberries are doing well, it won't be long until we have all the blueberries we need for pancakes and muffins and a good Blueberry buckle.

I am doing my tomatoes in pots this year, just got them all in with their bamboo tripods for support. The green beans are more than an inch high, the summer squash have sprouted as well. Still waiting on the hubbard, and acorn squash and pumpkins to sprout, as well as the zinnias.

My bachelor buttons reseeded themselves from last year and are a beautiful purple blue color.

I am excited to continue watching my garden progress throughout the summer, I am endlessly fascinated by the miraculousness of gardens.

And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground-trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. Genesis 2:9a

Friday, June 10, 2011

Gnomes in the Garden

I just love garden gnomes. I know they are considered kitschy, but I think garden gnomes are great. Gnomes always look so industrious and friendly. So today, my post is about some of my garden gnomes, as well as some that decorate my house during the spring and summer.

This is a new gnome in the garden he is standing in the pepper patch.

Another new gnome has found a spot by the summer squash.

This is a wonderful maple tree that has six miniature gnomes living in its shade, next to some toadstools amongst the Irish and Scottish Moss.

Here are three of them close up.

This little gnome makes his home amongst the moss in the rock garden- as you can see the moss is in bloom!

These are my wonderful gnomes candle holders from Yankee Candle last year- I was so excited when I saw these!

These three colorful gnomes were spotted by my children in a seasonal discount section of Target- both of my children new that I would love them, and pointed them out right away.

This is a wonderful handmade wooden gnome and his home that we found in a great little Waldorf toy shop we found one day, he has been tucked into the bookshelf ever since.

This is a simple little purple gnome that I needle felted to match our Amethyst.

This is a classic book all about gnomes, I love the illustrations, as well as all of the fun facts. This book is written by Wil Huygen and illustrated by Rein Poortuliet.

Gnomes are fun to put out through the garden, tucked in to little garden spots, fun for the kids to see, hope everyone considers adding a gnome or two to their garden this year :)