Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving in Virginia

I enjoyed visiting for a few days with John and Jen and my grandsons, Kevin, Jake, and Andrew.

The day before Thanksgiving, we enjoyed a hike along the James River in downtown Richmond.  It was a picture perfect day.

Their dog, Bingo, just loves to get attention!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Buttermilk Pancakes

Oh, the impact of social media!  I posted a few minutes ago on Facebook that I am going to make buttermilk pancakes for breakfast this morning and already someone has e-mailed me wanting the recipe!  Here it is and it is out of this world delicious!

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
3 tablespoons melted butter
butter to grease the skillet

Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg and butter.  Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Spoon onto hot skillet.  Flip after about 30 seconds.

I use low fat buttermilk.  A purist would use whole buttermilk!


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A great new kitchen tool

Can you guess what this is for?  It is approximately 4 inches square, two layers of smooth stainless steel rings.

It is a cast iron scrubber!  And it works great.  I have quite a few cast iron pans in my kitchen.  It does a fantastic job of quickly removing stuck on food and oil.  And it goes right in the dishwasher. . . unlike my cast iron!

I found it in Cook's World here in Rochester, a quality kitchen store.  I had never heard of it before and wondered if it was worth the hype.  It is!

I run it under the kitchen faucet when I'm done with it, then dry it with paper towels and hang it to dry completely.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Annual Cousins' Reunion is coming soon

Every Spring, my cousins' from my Dad's side of the family, get together on our "ancestral" land in rural Alabama!  My grandparents were farmers decades ago and the land has stayed in the family.  The property has been in the family ever since it was deeded from the government back in the 1800's.  In the 1960's, my dad and his siblings built a dam and a pond was formed from two natural springs on the property.

The reunion is on a Saturday, but a few of us arrive earlier in the week.  My cousin, Kenny, and I are "gun nuts" and we enjoy target shooting before the crowd arrives on Saturday.

We walk the land, some of us like to fish, we enjoy catching up with everyone, and yes, the stories get bigger every year!  We pull out the grills and cook hamburgers and hot dogs and enjoy the dishes to pass.

It's a lot of fun, a lot of laughs, but just as importantly, it is a time to get away from the rat race of everyday life, miles from civilization.

I suppose we are no different from any other family in that we have our share of colorful characters.  There is Aunt Ilene.  She is 94 this year.  When we had our first reunion in 2009, she said, "I'm just glad to get here one more time to the property."

I replied, "Well, I'm coming back next year so you may as well come back too."

"Oh, I'm sure I won't be able to make the trip next year."  She did and has ever since!

Two years ago, she said that would be her last time there.  "I will either be dead or out partying."  I wonder what her line will be this year!

I just have to get through another New York winter and then it will be time to pack up for the trip South!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Delicious Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Gratin

I could never be a total vegetarian.  But there are so many vegetarian recipes that I love.  This is one of them.  Here it is, just out of the oven.  The top and bottom layers are thinly sliced sweet potatoes.  In between is a delicious layer of swiss chard combined with garlic, shallots, and fresh thyme.  Covered with a sauce of heavy cream, white wine and a topping of parmesan, this one is a real winner!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A delicious fall soup

Making my pear and parsnip soup recipe is quick and easy and tastes great on cool evenings.

2 boxes (32 oz.) Wegmans organic chicken broth (or use your own)
4 fresh parsnips, peeled and sliced
4 fresh pears, peeled and chopped

Prepare the parsnips and pears and combine in a large pot with the chicken broth.  Cook until tender.  Using a blender or hand held blender, puree until the pieces are well blended.

That's it!  It is now ready to enjoy.  You can add salt and pepper as desired.

Friday, October 14, 2016

A wonderful getaway afternoon

My friend, Nancy, and I decided to spend a few hours taking in
the beauty of Mendon Ponds Park this afternoon.  Mendon Ponds Park, often called the "Jewel of Monroe County Parks" is a great place to get away from
the rat race, whether you choose to hike the trails, paddle a canoe, cross country ski, or, in our case, we just sat and enjoyed the view today.

The fall colors aren't as brilliant this year as usual.  Some say it is because of the very hot summer with little rain.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The new snowblower

Ouch!  I was expecting a call from the shop to let me know the cost to tune up my 30 year old snowblower.  It was an Ariens and I had been told over the years, "they last forever."

That's not what I got!  "Quite honestly, Sherry, with the needed repairs, above the normal tune up, it is going to cost $500 for parts and labor for your snowblower and that is more than it is worth."  

"I need time to think this over," I told him.  "I'll be in in a day or two."

My choices were less than desirable. There have been numerous problems with people contracting with truck plows.  In fact, just in the last year, a contractor is now in jail for collecting money at the beginning of the season to plow driveways and then "forgetting" to plow them.  The plows often don't show up in time in the morning for you to get out.  Given that my driveway is long (my house sits back off the road), shoveling is not an option.

The shop I sent it to, actually, where it was bought back in the mid 80's, is reputable so I knew they weren't handing me a line.

There were a couple of 2015 models with a reduced price.  He wanted me to handle both of them "to see if you can operate them."  

WHAT???  Sometimes I can keep my mouth shut when offended.  This was one of those times!  I've been operating that old model Ariens for decades and you question whether I can deal with a new one???

Uhhmmm, actually the Ariens model was a bit heavy, BUT I COULD STILL OPERATE IT!!!  The Toro was lighter.

I am from the old school that Ariens is the best brand.  Not so anymore.  The shop has been carrying Toro blowers since the 90's and other than routine maintenance on them, they have had no problems or customer complaints.

The new one has a lot of improvements in the operating of it.  There are levers to make it turn automatically, left or right.  The intake area, that carries the snow up into the chute, is bigger and that function is guaranteed for life.  All you need is a deep, heavy snow to clog the chute and ruin your day!

Then I noticed there are 6 forward gears.  "Don't even think of using 5 or 6!" I was instructed.

It was delivered with oil and a full tank of gas.  Hopefully, in the coming weeks (or months?) when we get our first snowfall, it will do its job!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It finally died. . .

The snowblower I own, an Ariens 8 horsepower, was bought sometime in the mid to late 80's.

I've kept it maintained with routine maintenance.  Recently, the man came to pick it up to take to the shop.  Today I got a call.  I'm told the needed repairs on it will cost more than it is worth.  UGH!

NOT what I wanted to hear.

The shop I sent it to is reputable so I don't believe they are trying to deceive me.

"I'm going to have to give this some thought," I told the owner of the shop.  I told him I'd come in to the shop soon.  He has a couple new ones that are 2015 models that I can get a price break on.

I have a long driveway so shoveling is out of the question for me.  There are contractors you can hire for the season, some with a flat rate, others with a per-use rate.  I've learned that these guys are not always reliable.  They may not show up in time for you to get out on time in the morning.  In fact, in the last year, a contractor was sent to jail in Rochester for collecting up front money from unsuspecting clients and then "forgetting" to plow their driveway.

Never a dull moment. . .