Friday, April 30, 2010

I love fresh herbs

Can I just say that fresh herbs make me really happy?  I mean seriously.  We live in a world where people get happy with $4.00 coffees and the newest cell phones with all the trendy features.  If you are a little blue, I suggest putting down the antidepressents and picking up the oregano.

And while you are at it.  Crush it between your fingers and stand there and smell it.  It is here that you'll find personal satisfaction, no bliss.  The newest "thing" at the mall can't bring you happiness.   I promise.  Picking thyme off their stems, well maybe. 
So for tonight, I'm re-heating the big pot of chili we've been eating.  I've given the recipe before. This is a very tested recipe at the Osbornes. 

And salad with homemade ranch dressing.  The recipe is from and it is there that my herbs will go. 

I'll probably make my mom's pop overs.  I've been thinking about adding thyme and parmesan to the batter.  I'll let you know how it goes.  Here's Mom's original recipe. 

So throw away the antidepressants and sniff a little chives.

And remember to be happy.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Santiam Cannery

I was raised in the central Willamette Valley in Oregon to parents and grandparents who  migrated together from Oklahoma.  My grandparents purchased a farm when they arrived in Marion, OR.  My parents, newlyweds that year, settled close by.  I went to school in Albany, OR.

My grandfather's crop was hawled to Stayton.  I'll try to say what I remember about that.  My grandfather made a contract with the cannery that he would plant the number of acres of whatever crop they needed, beans, corn, whatever.  The cannery agreed to purchase the whole crop, whatever could be harvested at a previously agreed to price per pound.

When the crop was harvested, it would be hawled, truckload after truckload to the cannery at Stayton.  The truck would be logged in and weighed coming in and out.  It would get emptied and head back for another load.  When a crop was ready, if weather allowed, they would harvest around the clock.  I remember making sandwiches in my grandmother's kitchen and walking them across the fields for my grandfather and who ever was with him.  I remember carrying jars of ice tea and setting them at the end of a row, so that they could stop and pick them up.  I remember standing in the yard behind my grandparents house and looking out into the field in the dark watching the lighted vehicles slowly cross the field as they harvested. 

I'm remembering an employee of my Grandfather, Allen Bagger,  (if you are out there, Allen, let me know how you are).  He was tasked to run some machinery during the night while my grandfather slept.  He got the machinery stuck in the field and couldn't get it out.  He was my age at the time, maybe 17 and didn't know what to do, so he slept in the truck until day light and grandpa came out.  They went together to the shop and got the big tractor to pull it out.  I remember Allen being embarrassed and sorry.  I never saw Grandpa be really angry about things like that.  I remember him saying "well, what did you learn?"  I used to say that to my step kids during tough times, but it was clear they thought I was talking a foreign language, so I stopped. 

Last time I was there, about a year ago, it was planted to rye grass by the renters. 

And Onions. One thing I know for sure - a farmer plants what he thinks he can make money at.  That's is the decision.  There is nothing quaint or sentimental or Laura Ingalls about it.  My cousins say there is no money in farming any more.  A shame.  When local farmers can't make a living, you have to wonder what will happen to those people the local farmer used to feed.  Will China and Mexico be able to fill the spot?  What does it mean that we can't, don't, won't grow our own food.
Remember to get your hands dirty.  And what did you learn? 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Stir Fried Shrimp

I'm on a quest to be more organized and less reactive with our food needs.  I've got a half a beef coming from a local rancher, so I'm busy cleaning out the freezer.  I'm thinking a lot about how I can do a better job of supplying a good dinner and lunch every day with local meats and local fruits and vegetables.  I'm reading every label.  Husband is a little worried with the changes, but there really aren't that many.  Although I know where my shrimp came from now, I bought them anyway. 

I'm thinking about Annettes guest blogger, Jess, over at SustainableEats, who wants to eat more local food and make more conscious decisions but has trouble.

And he is right.  You just have to pick a direction and start, knowing that you'll certainly be less than perfect. 

This is another original recipe.  I started making it with a package of stir fry sauce mix powder stuff, but banned that from my life some while back.  Powder is not food.  My regular stir fry sauce is good for this.  Or use your favorite Asian stir fry sauce.  Add more vegetables if you like.  Use the left overs for lunches or additional meals.  

LeAnn's original stir fry sauce
1/4 t. fresh minced ginger
3 T soy sauce
1 c. water or broth
1 1/2 t. hoisen sauce
1 1/2 t. corn starch
1/2 Asian sweet chili sauce, optional

Fried Rice with Shrimp
1 lb frozen shrimp, thawed, shelled and deviened
2 T. oil
1 t. minced garlic
3 c. cooked rice
original stir fry sauce above or your own
1 cup. frozen peas

Put oil in a large flat skillet.  Add garlic and shrimp.  Cook on Medium hight until shrimp are turning pink.  Add remaining ingredients.  Cook an additional few minutes, until peas are hot and sauce thickens.

We'll eat this for dinner and the rest for lunch the next day.

Remember to eat real food and make consious choices. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Green Chili Tortilla Stack

If you've read here much, you know that everything for me goes back to my parents.  I'm not sure that everyone was so deeply affected by their childhood, but I was.  I still dream consistently of my father.  I talk to him in my head when things go wrong.  Some times it seems that he is talking back to me.  Giving me bits of encouragement.  "Kid, hold your head up and don't let it bother you."  "Kid, you are fine." "Kid, dig in and fight."

One night I needed to produce a meal and didn't have a plan.  Actually some extra eaters used the meal I had for that night for lunch earlier in the day.  I needed to come up with something.  To my freezer and pantry.  My mother made a stack of tortillas with seasoned meat and cheese.  Hers had onions, which we do not eat.  She added diced tomatoes and lettuce or top and didn't use the olives.  This recipe is completely original to me but is reminiscent of those nights when her version came steaming hot out of the oven. 

Green Chili Tortilla Stack
1 lb ground beef
1 pkg taco seasoning, or home made taco seasoning
1 can mild green chili enchilada sauce, (we like La Victoria Mild green chili enchilada sauce)
4 flour tortillas
1 cup pre-shredded Mexican blend cheese
2.25 oz can sliced black olives

First, know your microwave.  Most modern microwaves will do a good job of defrosting frozen ground beef.  Experiment until you find the setting that works best and the number of minutes.  That way, you'll be prepared for those nights when it is necessary 

Next, I rarely buy those taco seasoning packets.  Here is what I do.  It works for burrito meat, as well

Homemade taco seasoning.
2 t. dry minced onion
1. t. salt.
1 t. chili powder
1/2 dried minced garlic

1/2 t. dried ground cumin

1/4 t. dried oregano

Brown hamburger with taco seasoning.  In a pyrex pie plate or casserole dish large enough to accommodate one tortilla lieing flat, place 1/4 cup of the meat mixture and 1 T. of the enchilada sauce and spread it out.  Place a tortilla over.  Layer another 1/2 cup meat, 2 T. enchilada sauce, 1/4 cheese.  Start layering again with another tortilla.  Continue with these layers until you run out of engredients.  Top with sliced olives.  Cook in overn preheated to 350 for 20 minutes or until heated throughout.  Slice into wedges like a pie.  Serve with a vegetable.

The leftovers can be packaged for lunch.  I've done the same thing with black beans for a vegetarian option. 

Remember to pile it high.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chicken Caesar Salad

As I've mentioned many times, my husband and I work together.  Every morning, well most, I pack a lunch for us. 

I'd like our lunches to be as interesting as our dinners and sometimes I'm successful. Today we are having Chicken Caesar Salad using the leftover grilled chicken from last night.  I've been on a Caesar Salad kick.  I've been experimenting with homemade Caesar dressing, trying many different variations off the internet. 

Here is what I like the best right now.  It is a modification of someone else's recipe, so I can't claim it.

Homemade Caesar Dressing
1 egg yolk
1 t. Dijon mustard
1 garlick clove, minced
1 T. anchovy paste
6 T. olive oil
6 T. canola oil
3 T. fresh lemon juice, not the bottled kind for this.

Whisk the ingredients until smooth.  This is about 3 salads worth of dressing for the two of us, so I keep it in a pint or half pint canning jar in the fridge for the next one.

1/2 head of Romain lettuce, cleaned and torn into bite size pieces.  The Romaine lettuce growing in raised bed 1 is being systematically eaten by a bunny every time any new leaves start to come up, so this Romaine comes from Diane's Produce.

1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese

1 cup. homemade croutons.   So much better than anything you buy and not hard to make.  For sandwiches and toast, I buy a sour dough bread made in loaf pans at a local bakery.  This is three slices. 

1 T of butter in the pan, melted.  Add the bread cubes.

Toss them around with the spoon to coat and continue stiring them as the toast.  Coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  Make sure all turn over and get toasted on both sides until they are as toasty as you want.  They stay much softer on the inside than the kind you buy.  Of course, the shelf life is short.  Put them in a zip lock bag if you aren't using them immediately.

Hopefully they've left me a little room in the fridge at work.  At lunch time, I'll add the dressing and cheese to the lettuce and toss.  Add the croutons and toss again.  Slice the chicken into small pieces and lay it across the salad. 

Packed and ready to go.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Grilled Chicken with fresh Rosemary

It's about 4:30 in the afternoon.  I've just returned from work. I've been bidding new work and I'm behind on that.  I haven't started the quarterly tax returns, yet.  They are due by the end of the month, so I'll be working on the weekend.

I pull out the chicken breasts to find they are still a little frosty.  I put my big collandar into the sink with the chicken breasts in them and turn on the faucet so that cool water runs over them.  I start making the marinade. The marinade makes enough for 8 to 12 boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  Here is a good opportunity for planned left overs.  We'll have Chicken Caesar Salad for lunch tomorrow.

LeAnn's Marinade for Grilled Chicken
1 clove garlic
1 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 T. lemon juice, the bottled kind for marinades is okay with me (Use fresh for salad dressings)
1/2 c olive oil
1 t. dijon mustard
1 T. fresh rosemary finely minced

I recommend marinading meat in pyrex pie plates.  I do that all the time.  Dry the chicken with paper towels and arrange them in the pie plate.  Add the marinade and leave it on the counter top.  I'd refrigerate this if I was going to leave it for long.

Husband comes through asking me if I'm going to yoga.  I say yes and I'll return in a little more than 1 hour.  I ask him if we are expecting any kids, large or small.  He says no and I'm off.

I return after a lovely hour of yoga to a busy house with kids, the small kind.  Fortunately I've got plenty of chicken.  I ask Husband to turn on the propane grille which he does.  As it heats, I start a pot of rice and another of brocolli.  Many times Hailey is interested in cooking with me, but tonight Spong Bob Square Pants has her attention. 

Husband works around me heating a bottle for the smallest one.  The chicken goes on the grille.  I've had good success with this marinade.  My recipe is printed on a dot matrix printer and I haven't had one for 15 years.  I was making it long before that.  This recipe adds a lot of flavor to plain chicken.  I think it is better than any bottled marinade on the market.  I don't buy that sort of thing any more.

Off comes the chicken and its dinner.  I add butter to to the rice, taste it and add a little more salt.  Hailey wants to taste it also, so I hand her a spoon.  I drain the brocolli, add more butter and salt.  Hailey eats a boat load of everything. 

Hint of the day:  If you need chicken to cook very fast - and you can get the thawed first, pound them with a meat mallet.  Most instructions I've seen for this say to put a layer of plastic wrap or wax paper out, put the chicken pieces on it, and put another layer of plastic wrap or wax paper on top, then pound.  That just doesn't work.  You end up pounding holes in your plastic wrap and just making a big mess.  The sacks that cereal or crackers come in are sturdier and work for this procedure.  I save them all and use them for this and other purposes.  Open up the sack until it is flat, lay the chicken on it, fold it over to cover the chicken and pound away. 

The pounding breaks up some of the stucture of the meat and makes a flatter fillet which cooks much quicker.  If you don't have a meat mallet, my mother used the bottom of a small sauce pan.  Just hold onto the handle and bang it.  Actually feels good.  I just saw a Rachael Ray where she did this same thing with a rolling pin.  Don't think I need chicken juice on my rolling pin, Rachael.  Just saying, don't run out and buy a meat mallet unless you want to.   You probably have something in your kitchen that works just fine. 

Still plenty of chicken left for Chicken Caesar Salad at lunch tomorrow.  I'll pack the ingredients in the morning and take them to work with me.  Check back for that.

Remember to be organized.

Managing a busy kitchen

My mother had a job a great deal of the time I was growing up.  This was during a time when the majority of women didn't work (the 60s).  I realize now that they were always needing more money and that was the reason.  I remember little things that let me believe that it was incredibly difficult for her.  They both believed that the house and kitchen was her domaine.  My father did not do much of traditional "woman's" work.   

Not that he was lazy. He was a very busy person and almost always had additional projects.  For example, in the fall, he purchased a wrecked vehicle and spent the winter months rebuilding it in the garage.  I can't say exactly how many winters he did this but several.  To this day, the sound of a man banging around in the garage is quite comforting.  He was always building something, almost like an inventor.  When he decided he needed an air compressor, he took the compressor out of an old refrigerator and built one.  One hobby we had was going place to collect rocks.  He built an agate polisher out of two paint cans and some sort of motor.  We'd put the rocks in the can.  He'd add something other substance, can't remember what.  He'd turn it on and it would shake back and forth all night.  I still remember listening to the rumbling sound in the garage.  Then, like magic, we opened the cans to find polished agates.  As you can tell, I have a fondness for both men and garages. 

We always had some sort of little travel trailer.  We'd go out for the weekend camping.  Mom would cook on an old Coleman lantern.  We'd have a fire.  At bed time, we'd snuggle up in our sleeping bags in the trailer.  We'd wake up completely freezing, so Dad would get up and start the little propane heater in the trailer until we were warm enough to get up.  Mom would start a pot of coffee on the stove in the trailer, an old fashioned purculator.  I didn't taste coffee until I went away to college, but I've loved it from first taste.  I think I associate the smell with the comforting feelings of my safe little world and that purculator.

So what does all of this have to do with managing a busy kitchen?  I have absolutely no idea how my mother managed to produce good food for all of us so consistently.  It is very difficult to come home after a busy day and make dinner sometimes.  I'd like to have some life outside of work and cooking dinner.  When can that happen? 

I've changed my yoga habit from day classes to evening.  This class is important to me, so I'm fairly determined to do it consistently.  I run home and start the preparation for the meal, get everything ready.  Do any sauting or early cooking, then turn it off and head for yoga.  I come back and finish the meal.  Husband has been very helpful and patient, but it isn't easy.   I still need plans for breakfast for me and lunch for the two of us.

I'm going to start chronicalling this problem.  I'm going to be more appreciative of what my mother did.    I'm going to be more appreciative of the help and support my husband gives me.

I'll start with grilled chicken and rosemary.  See the next post.

Remember to be thankful for the little things.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Turkey and Oregano Skillet Dinner

Just a few things.
1.  I haven't harvested a single leaf of lettuce.  Oh, I planted quite a bit.  And the plants are there.  There is a little bunny coming 'round and nibbling on it.  Each leaf is nibbled to the end as the next one comes up.  I'm still in mourning for Cocoa the Doberman who lost her battle with old age.  She kept the yard free of varmits and raskily rabbits in a way no other of our dog family can.  I miss you Cocoa.
2.  Step son and I have arranged to purchase a half a cow from a local rancher.  I'm pretty stoked about the whole thing.  The freezer needs some cleaning out, so we'll be eating its contents until the new meat comes.
3.  I'm so happy to have fresh herbs again.  My green house allows me to keep a few herbs almost year round, but now I can have parsley.  The greenhouse oregano and thyme are pitifully picked stubs.  But the outside plants are coming back.  Summer means fresh herbs in everything I make!.  Yeah.

Turkey and Oregano Skillet Dinner
1 lb ground turkey
1 t. salt, coarse sea salt is my favorite right now
1/8 t. ground pepper
1 14.5 oz. can stewed tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can green beans (I'm buying Santiam brand because I know they are canned locally) 
1/4 c. fresh organo chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red pepper, roasted and chopped
3/4 c. rotelle pasta cooked.

Brown the meat until completely cooked and drain any liquid.   Add salt and pepper.  Add the tomatoes with liquid.  Drain the beans and add them.  Wash and pick over the herbs.  Remove anything you don't want to eat.  I usually find some little spider about the time I think they are clean, so take the time.  Remove leafs from the stems.  The stems go in the compost.  Chop the leaves finely. 

I know I've said this many times, but you deserve to take the time to stand there and enjoy this.  Smell the herbs.  What do they make you think of?  How do you feel?  Feel how soft and nice they are.  I was remembering a series of summer days, sitting in the grass in front of the house on the Homeplace on my grandparents farm.  Making clover neckless until there were mountains of them.  Later as it started to get dark, laying back in the piles of clover neckless with my cousins, watching bats fly from the barn to the big tree and back to the barn and back to the big tree.

Okay, now we are roasting a pepper:  Turn on your broiler. Cut it in half and remove the stem and seeds.  Wash the pepper well.  Lay the 2 pepper halves on a piece of foil.   Flatten each half out by breaking it until it lays flat.  Rub the skins with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and stick it under the broiler.  And I mean broil it until the skins turn black and start to separate from the meat. 

Don't skip this step.  It creates a lot of flavor.   I've got flats of some special pepper plants in my green house.  I'm hoping for a good crop and that I'll do this to some of them and freeze it.   (I saw that on someone else's blog.) 

Once they are cool, the black just pulls off leaving a soft, moist, red, and very flavorful pepper.  Rub the red flesh with a bit more olive oil and sprinkle with a bit more coarse sea salt.  If you enjoy this, I won't tell anyone.  Chop it and put in the skillet for this dish.

Add the cooked pasta, stir to combine, and you are done.  I don't need a lot of pasta for this type of thing, but add more if you want.  Probably more if you are serving kids.  More if you need to stretch it so serve more people. 

Stir and serve.  It's just the two of us tonight, so the left overs will go to work with us in the morning for lunch. 

Remember to feel good.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spring Ramblings

I relate many thoughts I have back to food.  I realize most people don't do that.  I don't know why I do it, but I always have.

So here's what's on my mind this weekend as we work in the garden and yard. 

My parents were complete non-drinkers.  They didn't believe in the consumption of alcohol in any form.  They weren't people who critized others openly, but their disapproval was obvious.  When I was a kid, we had neighbors, an older couple, named Mr. and Mrs. Weber, who made dandeline wine. They'd sit on the porch on a hot evening and have a little.  They poured it into glasses from canning jars.

One night, the Weber's invited my parents over to their porch.  Being hospitable people, the Weber's offered my parents a taste.  At that point, my conservative little mom and dad proceeded to get wasted on dandeline wine.  Oh, they did it quietly, but that's what happened. 

It wasn't talked about, but next weekend  and another hot summer day passes.  The Webers come out to the porch with their evening refreshments.  My parents happen to be out.  They stroll over for a visit.  My sister and I watch them from beneath the old cherry tree as they again get blasted with the Webers.  This event reoccured a number of times that summer. 

It was a good summer.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Baked Fish with Herbs

I come from a family with a shared trait of dealing with problems by micromanaging and controlling our environment.  By the way, I don't consider this a bad thing.  Many problems can be solved by careful organization and a methodical approach.  Micromanaging a checking account, for example, means you are never overdrawn.  Micromanaging the laundry means that you have clean clothes nicely put away. 

Unfortunately, such an approach to life does not guarantee happiness.  And I married a free spirit with a wild side.  His way can get us into trouble and worse than trouble.  Somewhere in the middle is probably best.

So when my mother gained a little weight when I was in my early teens, what happened was not not out of character in the family I grew up in.  She put us all on a very strict diet.  None of us were overweight or ever have been.  I remember each day she had a certain number of vegetable and fruit servings, and a maximum number of bread, rice and potatoe servings for each of us.  I remember we went to skim milk and desert was out of the question for some time.   We ate a lot of broiled skinless, boneless chicken breast, which is bland when not seasoned well.  I remember Dad complaining.  "Now, Cathy!"  But once she lost the weight she wanted to, we all got to eat again.

One good thing from that time was baked fish.  She'd put the fish in foil with little pieces of butter and fresh herbs over top, then wrap it up and bake until flaky.  This with a mountain of fresh green beans is a great meal. 

It's still early in the season, but I do have hebs in the yard and the greenhouse.  I went about with scissors collecting a big handful which included parsley, chives, and oregano, taking the time to smell them and feel them.  Washed and inspected carefully.  Anything I don't want to eat was pinched off.
Chopped well.  Add a couple of cloves of garlic minced.  I am nearing the end of my precious stash of garlic from my garden.
Pieces of firm white fish go on a big piece of foil.  A good dose of olive oil and salt.  I'm really into coarse sea salt right now.  The herbs on top, then fold the foil around the fish to form a packet. 

Now into the oven to bake until the fish flakes when pricked with a fork.  Scrap most of the herbs off before serving.  They've done the job of flavoring the fish.  Steaming it in the foil left it moist.  Yum.  And good for you. 

Together with roast potatoes,  a good meal.  Remember to eat your fish and remember that a little control isn't a bad thing. 

Rice and Raisins / Breakfast at the Osbornes

I meant to blog about Easter which was spent at Step-son's house.  He prepared his barbecued ribs which we all enjoy and look forward to.  He has a special homemade sauce.  I meant to blog about this, but I was so caught up in feeling good that day that I did not take the photos.  I did not plan the blog the way I normally do.  

Well here is just a hint. But blogging about Josh's ribs and Josh's barbecue sauce is surely coming soon.

We ate Josh's ribs and tri-tip for three nights since.  So the other night, I came home from work and made a pot of rice and a caeser salad and heated the ribs.  I had the thought that breakfast was already handled. 
When I was a kid, treats were humble.  There was no McDonald's in the town I grew up in until my teens.  We had the occasional bakery doughnut, but we didn't go out for breakfast.  In fact we didn't go out at all very often.  No, treats were humble and at home.  One favorite breakfast treat was cinnamon toast.  I remember fondly the hot toast coming out of the broiler with the carelized sugar with cinnamon crusty and crinkly on it.  Mom cut it cross-wise and gave us triangels with glasses of milk. 

But tomorrow is Rice and Raisins for breakfast, which was another treat from my childhood.  I went to Diane's Produce yesterday.  Along with the produce I purchased, I bought a jar of local honey.  But I prefer brown sugar with this. 

Easy done.  Bowl of cooked white rice.  Small handfull of raisins.  Brown sugar.  Add milk like you would with cereal.  Into the microwave and cook until its steamy hot.  Tomorrow will be a good morning. 

Remember to keep it simple.  

Monday, April 5, 2010

Cantonese Elk

As I’ve mentioned, I had a freezer full of elk this winter. I just can’t say how much I have enjoyed stir frying, roasting, stroganoffing, hashing, my lovely elk. It’s been a grand experiment. While 2009 did not have the abundance I’m used to in certain things (money, leisure and relaxation) and did have too much work, worry and struggle, I have been thankful for those things in my life which were abundant and prosperous.

One of those things was my big strong husband. Although he has had his own struggles, he is always there, a comforting and supportive force in my life. I’m working on being thankful for many other things in my life.

Cantonese Elk
2 T. Vegetable oil
1 clove garlic minced
1 lb Elk meat, thinly sliced
Commercial Cantonese stir fry sauce, to taste
White wine, to taste
Broccoli, cleaned and cut into florettes

Heat the oil with the garlic. Add the meat and stir fry until mostly browned. Add the remaining ingredients. Continue stir frying, as the elk meat finishes cooking and the broccoli wilts and cooks.

Together with the homemade caesar salad I've been making with every meal and that is getting really good,  it was a dinner to beat.  It was a little different.  Not special, but Real.  Remember to be real. 

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Bunny Cake

When I was younger, I dated a fella, named Steve.  Unfortunately, he wasn't that nice of a guy, because his parents were awesome.  They were this big stereotypical Italian family.  And in fact, Steve was 1/2 Italian.  Both of his dad's parents were born in Italy.  They weren't still alive, but I enjoyed the stories and the warmth mixed with a little danger of the Dad.  I learned plenty from him.  But it was his mother!  Not Italian, but more of the stereotypical big warmth than any of them.  This cake is something she did around Easter.  Not the recipes, the decorations that shape it into a bunny.

Here's the old fashioned way to prepare a cake pan, (instead of spray.)  Dip your fingers into the solid shortening and get some.  Spread it with your fingers over the pan bottoms and sides until it is spread evenly and thoroughly covers.  Get addtional shortening in your hands and continue with both pans.  I recommend trying to enjoy this.  Kids love this kind of this for good reason; it's fun. 

Now spoon a little all purpose flour into each pan.  Hold the pan upright, shaking it and tapping it with my right palm.  Rotate the pan moving the loose flour until there is some flour stuck to all surfaces.  If any loose flour remains in the pan, pour it into the next and continue with the same procedure in the next pan.  When the final pan is coated, dump any remaining flour into the sink with the garbage disposal.
I'm not going to share this recipe because it is not original.  It is the basic yellow cake out of this late '70s Better Homes cook book.  If you want this recipe, e-mail me.

But, before you start cooking are your sink's clean.  If not, take the time to empty and clean your sinks.  Put away any clean dishes.  Get anything dirty shoved into the dishwasher.  On one side, start a sink of hot soapy water to receive any dirty dishes as they get created.  
Dry ingredients in one bowl, cream the butter in another.  The slowly start adding the wet ingredients to the dry while mixing.  I've never had a standing mixer.  My old Black and Decker hand mixer has always done what I need.  But if you have one of those nice Kitchenaide standing mixers, here is the time to drag it out. 

Stop from time to time and use a spatula to scrap the sides of the bowl.  It is just me, or does the combination of butter, vanilla and sugar have an intoxiating affect?  Maybe it just reminds me of good things. Take the time to taste.  I'm not embarrased to stand at the sink licking the bowl and you shouldn't either.  Pour the dough evenly into the two prepared pans and place in a preheated oven to bake. 

You test a cake for done with a toothpick stuck in the center.  It should come out clean.  Also the edges start to pull away from the pan.  Let them cool on a cooling rack so air can get all around them.  This will make two cakes. 

My pans are the old fashioned kind with the little thing that you run arround to loosen the bottom, but I prepared them well.  They had pulled away and popped right out.  Had to have husband help take the two handed photo.
I lined the bottom of my cake carrier with parchment, cut the cake in half and set the bottoms together cut sides down.  I cut out a little notch.  The cut out portion will be the tail.  The head is the piece on the cake to the far right on the photo will be the head.  Well, there is going to be some icing before we are done.  The picture below shows the tail in place.  There will be two rabbit cakes.

I made the butter icing recipe from the same cookbook and iced the cake.  I patted shredded coconut all over it.  

Black licorice cut up and stuck on for whiskers.  Belly Jellies for eyeballs.  The ears of index cards cut and colored, then stuck on. 

I wanted the tail pink, so I colored some of the coconut pink.  The grass is coconut colored green.  Food coloring of course.  There are jelly beans in the grass and peeps all around.  This is one.  Another to make and store until tomorrow.  Husband seems amused and entertained.  He knows his wife and is staying out of the way. 
Remember to play.

Friday, April 2, 2010

S'ghitti at the Osbornes

I'm known for my Spaghetti among the young Osbornes.  I grew up in a family with traditions and order.  There was also too much restriction and not enough exploration, but that's another story.  Traditions create a feeling of security among young ones.  I recommend that.  S'ghitti was a tradition in my family.   I married into a family of exploration, emotion, and adventure.  Not that those things are bad, but tradition, order, security and peace are good too, especially for the young ones, just figuring out what to do.

The first two grandchildren who first ate my s'aghitti are teenagers now and couldn't care less, but the next decade is coming.  Hailey likes my s'ghitti too.  I'll be feeding it to Caleb as soon as I get permission.

This is the adult version.  For young children, reduce some of the seasoning.

S'ghitti meat.
1 lb ground beef, cooked and drained
1 T. dried onion
1/4 dry garlic powder
2 t. worchestershire sauce.

Cook meat until done.  Drain off any liquid and add seasoning.  Cook for an additional few minutes.  There you go.  This meat is good in a variety of casseroles.  Add an egg and some bread crumbs, shape it into balls and bake it.  You have meat balls.  But this is good for now.

S'ghitti sauce.
1 1lb 10 oz jar of your favorite spagetti sauce.
8 oz can of tomato sauce.
a pinch of cheyanne pepper, more to taste
1/2 t. or more of Italian seasoning to taste, more to taste

Add these ingredriedents to the meat and bring it back to simmer.

Meanwhile start a pot of well salted boiling water.  Cook the pasta. Drain the pasta when cooked and immediately add it to the sauce, stirring to combine. 

Less than a year ago there were some problems within my own family.  We invited my Aunt and Uncle over on a week night to talk about the troubles and form a plan.  This is what families do.  There are problems, but they work together towards a solution to keep unity. I made this dish and it helped; That's a nice philosophy.  If you know what really happened, you know that this doesn't work as well as that, but it is a goal.

Remember to find a little comfort.