Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Here's wishing all of you a Happy and Prosperous New Year in 2012! In February of 2012, I will mark three years of blogging. I had no idea three years ago how far I would get with blogging. I was filled with anxiety and questions. . . how can I find enough to write about to keep this thing going? It never crossed my mind how many friends - far and near - that I would make through blogging.

Occasionally friends will say things like, "I've thought about doing that, but. . ." I tell them to JUST DO IT!!!

It has been a great experience. Following other people's blogs has opened up a whole new world to me. Every blog is unique and I've found so many that bring joy to my life.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

To all of my blog friends, may you and your family have a very Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Santa arrives on a firetruck

I heard strange sounds coming down my street. Kind of like a retarded alarm! Looking out the window, I saw flashing lights. Santa arrived on a firetruck decked out in Christmas lights. Kids came out of the woodwork to get candy from him!

And here is Molly wishing she could get out for a closer look at all the excitement!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Recipe heaven!

Everyone knows I am a cookbook/recipe junkie. I offer no excuses, it's just who I am. There is probably no one on the face of the earth with more cookbooks and recipe binders than I have.

For months (well, okay years) my recipe collection had gotten out of hand. I am forever finding recipes on the internet, in magazines, or word of mouth from friends. I'll come home, stuff them here or there in a recipe binder or drawer or my Daytimer, even inside my car.

Yesterday I went to Office Max and bought a 2 inch binder to replace several of my smaller ones. I also bought index dividers and sheet protectors. I get a discount at Office Max because the University of Rochester uses them as a vendor so employees get University pricing on purchases. I've made a major dent in getting the recipes organized and easier to find. Then I ran out of sheet protectors so I need to make another trip for more.

To answer the question many of you are thinking. . . YES, I do use these recipes!!! Can't say that I've used every single one, but many of them. One of the ways that I deal with the harsh New York winters is to try new recipes. I am thrilled when I find a recipe that is a winner.

How about you? What are your passions?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Its only purpose is to bring a smile

I ordered a Christmas present from a blogger friend who has an Etsy shop. Find her store here

I wish I could show you what I ordered. It is unique, one-of-a-kind and beautiful. Unfortunately, it was bought for someone who reads my blog so, for now, I have to keep it confidential!

After opening the box it was mailed in and oohing and aahing over it, even letting my curious Lab, Molly, sniff it, I gathered up the packing materials to toss in the trash. One wad of paper seemed awfully heavy to be just paper.

Surprise! I unraveled the paper and there was this cute turtle. “Oh!” I caught myself saying out loud! I wasn’t expecting this! “Okay,” I said to Molly, who was standing at my side with her tail wagging excitedly, “I suppose I have to let you inspect this one too.”

I later e-mailed the sender telling her how thrilled I was with my purchase and the excitement of finding the turtle.

“Its only purpose in life is to bring a smile,” she replied. I think I’ll take it to work and put in a prominent place on my desk. It is sure to capture the attention of anyone who walks into my office! And when things get crazy at work, as so often happens, I’ll just look at my turtle and smile.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Where's the snow?

So far this year, 1/3 of an inch of snow has fallen in Rochester. At this time last year, we had accumulated two feet!

Not that I am complaining! Sure, a fresh fallen snow is beautiful. . . when you are at home looking out the window! It's clearing the driveway at 6:00 am so that I can go to work and driving in it that is no fun. The first snowfall of the year brings a multitude of wrecks on the roads. People just seem to forget how to drive in the snow, ice, and slush.

I am sure it won't be long before I'll be posting a picture here of our first big snowfall!!!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Morning Sky

Here are two pictures, taken just minutes ago, about 7:15 am, of the eastern sky. Pretty, huh?

And here is the same view two hours later.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A new twist on tuna (or turkey!) salad sandwiches

Here's a recipe I found recently that is heart healthy and good tasting. You can use tuna, turkey, or chicken. Adjust the amounts to suit your individual tastes. A food processor does a fine job of putting this together.

Start with chunks of red onion, avocado, red bell pepper, and celery. Turn on the food processor for a few seconds till this is chopped up nicely.

Next, add chunks of meat and mayo. Process till it is the consistency you like. Spread on whole wheat bread or a wrap. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A quiet Friday for me

Although both my daughters-in-law are Black Friday shoppers, not me! Jen was at Target at midnight last night and said it wasn't too bad. Marisa and her mom were going out this morning.

As for me, I'm enjoying making stock from Marisa's turkey carcass from yesterday. I'm doing it in the crock pot. I also have a turkey to roast today! Since I love all my left over turkey recipes, at the last minute, I decided to buy a fresh turkey from the farmer over in Central New York where I buy meat and eggs. They harvested these turkeys on Monday and delivered them to Rochester on Monday night. As I was waiting to get my turkey from them on Monday night, one of the women in the small crowd told me, "Once you have one of their turkeys, you will never be satisfied with any store bought one!" The back of their van was filled with turkeys wrapped in clear plastic! Quite a sight to see!!!

I'm also enjoying 4 mornings of sleeping in without being disturbed by the alarm clock! Wish I could say the same about Molly. When daylight inches above the horizon, she starts slapping me with her paws and licking me until I decide it's easier to get up than to put up with her nonstop attack.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

To my readers in the US, Happy Thanksgiving!

I think, with all the negativity in the news, it is easy to forget that all of us have so much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A new job at work

There is a cartoon on my refrigerator of Ziggy in his robe in the middle of the night opening his refrigerator only to be met by a mouse eating cheese inside and asking Ziggy, “Couldn’t you at least knock first?”

Ziggy’s feelings at that point pretty much sum up my feelings the last year or more with my work situation. It has been a nightmare. I don’t want to go into detail. Just take my word for it that it was agonizing.

Only a few of my closest friends knew what was going on. Of those who did know, they were worried about me and now that I have come through the storm, they tell me they don’t know how I did it. Neither do I. I am especially grateful for a handful of friends who went all out to help me get through this. These are people who did little things, “Hey, Sherry, can you go for a bike ride on the canal tomorrow?” or “Let’s go for a hike in Black Creek Park.” Or, “Can you come over for dinner this weekend?” Then there were those who called or e-mailed “just to say hi.” When you have friends like this, you can get through any crisis.

My new job is an Administrative Assistant position in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology. Four secretaries will report to me.

I had five interviews for this job. The last one was with the four secretaries that will report to me and one other person. Half way through that interview, one of them asked, “Do you mind if I ask what your supervisory style is?”

I told them they were all long term employees in their job and they don’t need me to stand over them, watching every move they make, that I would respect each of them as individuals, that I would never yell at them or belittle them in any way. If there are problems, I would settle them behind closed doors and with dignity and that I would gather all the facts from every perspective before making a decision. Further, I told them I would be judged by how well that office is managed so it is in my best interests to see that they felt good about their job and looked forward to coming to work everyday. I spoke from my heart and I think my sincerity came across to them.

At that point, the woman that asked the question, pounded her fist on the table and screamed, “HIRE HER!”

While I laughed at her reaction, no one will ever know how hard I fought at that moment to hold back tears.

Yes, the last year and a half has been a struggle. . . make that a MAJOR struggle. To borrow a line from one of my all-time favorite movies, Animal House, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

I start this new job in mid-December.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A dog owner speaks out

Last night, in the Town of Greece, a suburb of Rochester, the police shot and killed a a Rottweiler.

Folks, there is no bigger dog lover than Sherry Bennett on the face of the earth. But I fully support what the police did. This dog chased children who were out trick or treating. He lunged at a police officer. Two shots and the dog was dead. Who do I blame? The dog's owner(s).

I have owned dogs for most of my life. Since 1985, I have owned one or more Labrador Retrievers continuously. I have had the gut wrenching experience of standing by two of them as they were humanely put to sleep by a vet. If you choose to own a dog, you have a responsibility 24/7/360 to care for that dog and see that it is properly maintained. That means not letting it run loose. Now don't say, "Well, what if the dog gets out accidentally?" My response to that is, "What if your toddler gets away from you and runs into a busy street?" If you cannot properly maintain and control your dog, THEN DON'T HAVE A DOG. . . it is that simple.

I don't know what legal responsibilities the owner of this dog will face. I am more concerned for those children who may have been traumatized long term by this experience.

I have deep rooted opinions about the type of dog to own. I would never own a breed that is known to be hostile or aggressive. But those are my opinions. If you choose to own any dog, see that it is properly trained and non-agressive. If you do not have the time or desire to do that, then you don't deserve to own a dog.

I know this post is more abrasive than you are accustomed to reading here. But on this case, I think my feelings are justified. I hope the owner of this dog will have the good sense to refrain from ever owning a dog again. . . but that probably won't happen.

Halloween 2011

This little guy came to my door last night for Halloween and I just couldn't resist taking his picture!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Put it on your blog"

Yesterday I made a very good crock pot lentil stew. I was talking about it on facebook. Someone wrote in the comment section, "Put it on your blog." So here it is!

Crock Pot Lentil Stew

2 cups dry lentils, rinsed and sorted
5 cups tomato juice
1 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 medium celery stalks, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium red potatoes, sliced
1 tsp. oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp hot pepper sauce

Using a food processor will speed up the preparation time. Put everything into the crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

Lentils are packed with a lot of nutritional value and fiber.

Now I'm off to shoot sporting clays. Unlike much of the northeast this morning, I have electricity, the sun is shining and there is no snow!!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Crockpot Chicken Stew with Pepper and Pineapple

Here is another great crockpot recipe.

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
4 medium carrots, cut into one inch pieces
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons finely chopped gingerroot
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 8 oz. can pineapple chunks, drained. Save the juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 bell pepper cut into one inch pieces

Mix all ingredients, except for the pineapple, cornstarch and bell pepper in your crockpot.

Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours, or on high for 3 to 4 hours.

Mix reserved pineapple juice and cornstarch until smooth, gradually stir into chicken mixture. Stir in pineapple and bell pepper.

Cover and cook on high for about 15 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Serve over rice. You can substitute one teaspoon of ground ginger for the gingerroot.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mindless entertainment

My parking lot at work makes it necessary for me to walk across a busy intersection. Today, I arrived at this intersection just seconds after the lights changed, meaning I had to wait my turn along with dozens of other employees. This is what I call down time. . . there really isn't anything constructive you can do, other than wait for the lights to change and then you are on your way. This is definitely not the place to play chicken with a car.

So I found myself watching the cars coming in from my left, all making a right turn into the massive parking lot. Then, for reasons I cannot explain, I started watching the expressions on the faces of the driver as they approached this intersection. Now THIS was entertainment, folks!!! Out of perhaps 30 or 40 cars, I found it quite amusing to watch the drivers! Some had expressions of someone intent on getting their car parked and getting into work on time. Others had grumpy expressions. A few had expressions of someone in deep emotional stress. One or two actually had pleasant, happy looks. I found myself wondering what stories were behind all these faces.

In deep thought, I was nudged by the crowd. . . OH! The light had changed. . . now it was the pedestrians' turn! As I walked across the road and then into the building, I couldn't help wondering. . . What kind of expression do I have when I'm driving????

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Another long-time possession!

As I said in my last post, all of us have things we have owned for years that mean a lot to us. Here is another.

This dish was handed down to me by my mother. It belonged to my great grandmother. I don't know - or care - if it has any monetary value. The idea that it has survived for generations is what matters to me. I use it at holiday dinners for slices of cranberry sauce.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Tilly hat

We all have possessions that are old, been with us for years, and something we'd be lost without. I have quite a few of those. My Tilly hat is right at the top of that list.

The Tilly hat, made from canvas, will last a lifetime. It will float on water, has both a chin and back of the head strap to keep it from blowing off in the wind, and does a fine job of protecting from the sun. When it gets dirty, I throw it in the washer with towels and it returns to it's like-new look.

I've owned it for 25 years or more. Don't really remember when I first got it. I've worn it on canoe trips, hiking, and even less fun things as mowing the lawn. Over the winter, it gets thrown into the plastic storage bin in my living room closet and crushed among the winter hats, gloves, and scarfs, often getting pushed to the bottom. But in the spring, I pull it out, push it in to shape and it's ready to go again.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Another great crockpot meal

It was wonderful coming home from work today to the aroma of beef stew simmering in one of my crockpots.

Here's the recipe:

2 lb. stew beef
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. paprika
4 large carrots
4 small red potatoes
1 can beef broth
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 medium onion
1 can tomato sauce
1 can tomatoes with juice

Layer chopped potatoes, then chopped carrots. Top with meat. Combine soy sauce, salt, paprika, pepper, and flour. Spread over meat. Spread with chopped onion. Combine beef broth, tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes. Pour over other ingredients in the crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 4 to 5 hours, low 7 to 8 hours.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Shooting sporting clays on a beautiful fall afternoon

Rarely can you say that on October 9th in Rochester you have sunny skies and temperatures pushing 80 degrees. Today was one of those times.

I spent the afternoon shooting sporting clays with 3 friends. The woods were beautiful - not near peak yet but plenty of oranges, reds, and yellows in the trees.

If you have never tried sporting clays, folks, you are missing a lot of fun. Two of the people in our group today, while they had shot skeet, had never shot sporting clays. They will tell you now that they are addicted! Sporting clays has often been described as "golf with a shotgun." That is because you move from one "station" to another. Every shot is different - as opposed to skeet or trap - and to make it even more interesting for the regulars, they change the direction of the orange disks once a month. Sometimes the orange disk is aimed high and right toward you - the easiest shot! Or it could come low and from either side. The most fun one for me is one that simulates a rabbit running across your path! The disk rolls quickly in front of you and just when you think you got your shot all lined up and are ready to pull the trigger, the damn disk will "bounce" just like a rabbit!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Just six months till our "cuz reunion"!

My regular readers know that my spring time reunion with my cousins down South is a big deal to me. In 2012, we will have it in April, as opposed to March as we have done the last few years.

So what is the big deal about getting together with cousins once a year and at a place out in the middle of no where? Well, there are a lot of reasons. I grew up with these "kids" (okay, so we aren't exactly kids anymore, the youngest of us is is pushing 50). We spent many good times together in our growing up years. But then I moved to New York in 1974. I was busy raising two sons and didn't get back down South much over 30 or so years. My dad died in 2003. It was sudden and I had to make a lot of arrangements quickly. I contacted Rita, my second cousin in Alabama. She took care of letting the rest of the family know.

In that blurred frenzy of flying down to Pensacola, Florida - my hometown and where my Dad lived - making arrangements and seeing cousins that I hadn't seen in years. . . I realized what I had missed for so many years. Amazingly, we picked up right where we left off. I said to my cousin, Kenny, "Boy, the last time I saw you, you were a skinny little shy kid." Without skipping a beat, Kenny replied, "Yea, well the last time I saw you, you weren't an old woman!"

After the funeral and we all scattered in every direction again, we did manage to keep in touch. Then I came up with the idea of getting together on our "ancestral" land. I sent out e-mails and made phone calls. None of them turned me down and in 2009, we got together for a day on the old homestead where our grandparents raised their children - our parents. This is land that has been in the Morgan family since it was deeded from the government way back in the 1800s. My grandfather was a cotton farmer on this land. In the 1960s, my father and his siblings built a pond there from two natural springs.

2012 will be our fourth consecutive year getting together and each year is more fun than the last. Some of us are avid gun enthusiasts and we bring our guns and enjoy target shooting on the property. We have a big meal and just enjoy walking the land and being together again.

This past year has brought major challenges and conflicts my way but I survived that storm and now I'm really, really looking forward to our time together again in the Spring. Onward!!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Times that make the heart sing!

You just never know, in the midst of this hectic, stress filled life we live, when things will happen that make you smile. . . a real genuine, from the heart smile.

I pulled in my driveway today, stopping to get the mail. The young mother across the street was in her yard with her two young children. Opening my mailbox to the usual pile of catalogs, I commented to her, "You know, if I had a dollar for every catalog I get, I wouldn't have to work."

She laughed, shaking her head as if she totally understood. "I tell her [pointing to 4 year old Ariele] that this is mail for her!"

I laughed. "Ariele," I began, "looks like the mail man put mail in my box that has your name on it." Her eyes widened and a smile came over her face. "Look here," I said. "These two have your name on it. Do you want them?"

She quickly grabbed them from my hands and ran to her mother exclaiming, "Mom, they put it in the wrong mailbox!" And then she laughed a laugh of total, genuine excitement.

There I stood, in the middle of our street, totally oblivious to everything else in the world at that moment. I was awed by the thrill this young girl got at thinking there really was mail for her in my mailbox. If only the rest of us could find joy in the little, spontaneous happy moments in life.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Happy Birthday, Kevin

My oldest grandson, Kevin, is 11 years old today! Has it really been 11 years since I raced up I-390 in the pre-dawn hours to get to Genesee Hospital before he was born?

Kevin is an avid golfer and triathlete. He is also a Boy Scout.

Have a great day, Kevin. Gramma is very proud of the young man you have become.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

As the weather cools down. . .

I was in Wegmans today (for those outside of Wegmansland, that is the best grocery store in the whole world!!!). I didn't have a real game plan for what I was going to buy. . . I buy meat and eggs from a grass-fed farm so I use Wegmans for fresh produce and staples. . . but as I was wandering through the aisles, the thought of homemade chili came to mind. . . my crockpot chili.

One of life's simple pleasures is coming home from work to the smell of a good meal simmering in the crockpot. Tonight I will brown the ground beef and put all the ingredients into the crockpot and put it in my refrigerator until morning. It's a no-brainer with wonderful results.

Speaking of the grass-fed farm, I'd like to put in a good word for them. I shop at Autumn's Harvest Farm, over near Romulus, NY. It is about an hour's drive from Rochester and a scenic drive through the countryside. You can find them by doing a google search. All their beef, pork and chickens are raised on grass. Do another google search for the benefits of grass fed beef and you'll understand the difference. On the last Friday of each month, they come to Rochester so I don't have to drive over there every time I need to resupply. Grass-fed animals produce meat that is much healthier and far better tasting than the large corporate farms, where most of the meat you buy comes from. Wegmans actually wanted this farm to be one of their vendors. But he isn't big enough to meet their needs.

There are grass-fed farms all over the country and I'm sure there is one near you. Do another google search!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A perfect day to make soup

It is cold, windy, and raining outside and the forecast is for this to last all day.

Before I went to bed last night, I put a package of Bob's Red Mill 13 Bean Soup Mix in a big bowl of water to allow the beans to soak.

In a little while, I will put these beans and a big ham hock in a large pot and let it simmer for hours. Later I will add a couple of cans of tomatoes, some seasonings, maybe elbow pasta. . . I'm not a "strict, stick to the recipe cook!" The house smells so good when my bean soup is simmering on the stove.

Then, while I am watching football on TV - don't miss the Alabama-Florida game tonight at 8:00 pm, folks, it's going to be a good one! - I will have a bowl of soup. There will be plenty to freeze for later.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jake!

Today my grandson, Jake, is nine years old.

Jake plays baseball and soccer and loves to run. He's got his father's gift of gab and can sway anyone to his way of thinking.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Downtown Rochester the way it used to be

Allow an old woman to relive yesteryear.

My daughter-in-law started it. She posted a picture on facebook taken from her office window. Midtown, as it was called, used to be the hub of a thriving downtown Rochester. It was the first indoor mall in the country, I am told.

Now it is being torn down. . . for what??? First, Paetec, a local company, had signed a contract to build their headquarters there. Only thing is, the damn contract was not binding. Recently, the Paetec owner sold the company to an out of town firm. What will become of the space where Midtown once stood is anyone's guess.

In my day. . . downtown Rochester was a destination. I thought nothing of going down there, even by myself, to shop. Or at night to go to the Rochester Philharmonic at the Eastman Theater, or further down Main Street was the Auditorium Theater where off Broadway plays came. . . Annie. . . The Phantom of the Opera. . . There was the Changing Scene restaurant on a revolving foundation high above the Rochester landscape. And the Top of the Plaza, a restaurant and night club. Great food, great entertainment, and great views of the surrounding area.

Then the climate of downtown changed. A different element inhabited the area. Midtown Plaza became home to rif-raf, hanging out at Midtown Plaza. People turned away. The nicer stores and shops closed. Midtown died a slow, pathetic death.

The downtown Sibleys and McCurdy's stores - both originally owned by well off Rochester families - were a delightful place to shop. The quality and variety of merchandise were much better than the suburban stores. The Christmas decorations in the windows and inside were just fantastic.

The City is trying to revive downtown but, in my opinion, they don't have the vision or the money to do it right.

As I was writing this, I went back and read Marisa's facebook post. How can a thirty-something person truly appreciate what Rochester used to be???

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten years later. . .

I will never forget where I was and the feelings I had on that horrific day ten years ago.

I was a realtor at the time. I was home that morning waiting for the Time Warner guy to come and connect my computer to the internet. I had showered and dressed and was cleaning up in the kitchen when the doorbell rang.

I walked through the living room and opened the door, smiling at the technician. But it was the look on his face that gave me a strange feeling and took away my smile. "Ma'am, do you have your TV on?," he asked. Before I could answer, he walked past me at the front door and turned on my TV. "A plane hit the World Trade Center," he told me.

That didn't sink in. When the shock of his words wore off, my mind rationalized that it was an accident, although I couldn't figure out how. As the screen opened up and I saw the smoke coming out of the Tower, my mind just went blank. I saw the smoke but I wasn't able to process any reasonable thinking.

He sat down on my couch. Although I don't remember, at some point I found myself sitting on the love seat with my eyes glued to the screen. He said some things that I heard as a voice but not words.

Still in a state of shock, my eyes saw the next plane hit the Tower. I had no emotion at that point. It is hard to describe. You see what is happening, but your mind and body can't process it.

Like most people, I had trouble coming to grips with those events and for months afterward I was in a state of depression that over time wore off.

Now ten years later, I still have lingering feelings and emotions of that day. But one thing I can see today that I didn't see then, the United States has survived and will survive, no matter what. We will not be broken.

How about you? Please share your own story. Where were you that day? What were your feelings and how did you get past this terrible day?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A fine example of true sportsmanship

I am glad to see the news media cover something good for a change.

Many of you know I am a diehard Alabama Crimson Tide football fan, have been all my life. From as far back as I can remember, I thought everyone was a rabid football fan. That is what growing up in the South will do to you.

In April of this year a disastrous tornado hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where the University of Alabama is located. Numerous people were killed and dozens more lost everything they owned.

Fast forward to this past week. Yesterday was the first game of the season for Bama. Their opponent, Kent State University, not exactly known for its football superiority, came several days early to work beside the Crimson Tide team in tornado relief.

I think everyone agrees, that was a very nice thing to do. Both CNN and Fox News featured this story.

This is the kind of news reporting we could use a lot more of these days.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Garden fresh tomatoes!

I'm dog-sitting this weekend for a neighbor. We share dog-sitting duty when one of us is away.

Yesterday I came home from work - I had walked to work, a mile, and it was a hot and humid day - and went over to take care of Casey. To my surprise, there was a pile of fresh tomatoes with a note, "Sherry, please take all you want." Suddenly I forgot about being tired and covered in sweat!

You don't have to beg me to take fresh vegetables right off the plant! I could make a meal off sliced tomatoes covered in salt!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Summer cannot go away. . . not now!

As I pulled out of my driveway yesterday morning and my eyes looked at the road ahead, something stuck out in my field of vision. A large maple tree had a small patch of red. Ugghh. Yes, I enjoy the fall colors as much as anyone and here in the Northeast, it is a beautiful time of year when the trees have turned red, gold, yellow, and orange. But I'm just not ready to give up Summer!

I promised myself after the brutally harsh winter we had this past season that I would not complain about the heat and humidity of summer. I kept that promise, even on the days we had unbearable heat in the three figures. (Okay, I admit I have central air in my home, so it is easier for me not to complain about the heat!)

But change is coming. . . in the weather. . . . (I gotta say this!) AND HOPEFULLY IN THE POLITICAL ARENA!!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

How to make homemade pasta

Since my last post, two people e-mailed me asking how to make homemade pasta. It is really easy and you can do it "manually" without having pasta making equipment. I have a Kitchen Aid mixer with three attachments for pasta making. The first attachment is used to flatten the dough. You run it through this attachment 4 or 5 times. The other two attachments I have are for fettucini and spaghetti.

Then you "hang it out to dry"! As the picture in the post below demonstrates, you hang it on rods to dry for up to a half hour before cooking.

If you don't have equipment for pasta making, you can still get good results, it will just take a bit longer. You would knead the dough, then roll it with a rolling pin to a thin sheet. Using a knife, cut your strips of pasta. If you don't have a drying rack, simply hang it on a coat hanger or over the back of a chair covered with cloth or wax paper.

There are many different recipes. The one I used:

2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons water
1/4 teaspoon olive oil

After mixing the dough and kneading it, let it rest, wrapped in cellophane wrap for about 30 minutes. Then roll it out with a rolling pin - or use a pasta machine.

There are all kinds of variations. You could use whole wheat flour. Or you can finely chop fresh spinach in a food processor and combine that with your flour.

Don't be afraid to experiment with different recipes and methods. It is unlikely that you will be a failure with it!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Homemade Pasta with Fresh Vegetables

I made pasta and combined it with fresh vegetables cooked in a sauce of olive oil, lemon juice, and salt tonight. The above picture shows the pasta drying.

Here are the vegetables cooking.

And the finished product!

This is a quick and easy meal that is delicious.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Delicious Swiss Chard with Garbanzo Beans and Fresh Tomatoes

This one's a winner, folks!

2 tablespoons olive oil (or more)
1 bunch scallions (white part only)
1/2 cup garbanzo beans
salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch swiss chard
1 fresh tomato, sliced
juice from 1/2 of a lemon

Heat oil in a large skillet. Stir in the chopped scallions and stir a few minutes. Add garbanzo beans and stir another few minutes. Add salt and pepper. Add chopped swiss chard (both leaves and stems). Cook, stirring until leaves are wilted and stems become slightly soft. Add sliced tomato to heat through. Then add the lemon juice and mix well.

This makes a nice vegetarian meal or a side dish served with meat.

Note: You need a very large skillet to hold the chard until it wilts. I used my 15" cast iron skillet and it was none too large for this recipe.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A walk with Molly on the Canal Path

On a recent sunny day, I took Molly for a walk on the Canal Path, one of her favorite things to do. Our usual walk is between Edgewood Dr. and Clover St and back, a distance of 2 miles round trip.

We stopped to visit with another dog out for a walk. The dog's owner held Molly's leash while I snapped this picture. He proudly told me this was his third rescue dog and it came from out of state. [Rochester is known as a receiving center for rescue dogs throughout the country] While I respect everyone's choice of a dog, and in fact, one of my "granddogs" is a rescue dog who has turned into an excellent family pet, I have a very deep love for purebred Labs. Molly is my third Lab since 1985 and I have never been disappointed in my choice. I listened to this gentleman's dissertation on why everyone should choose a rescue dog for a few minutes and then politely said, "We should be on our way, I have an appointment later today."

"Sherry insists we stop for a break in the shade."

[Wish I had seen that white speck on her head (a piece of a wildflower) before I snapped this one!]

One of the many tour boats you see on the Canal. Notice the bikes on top!

I have a high regard for the Erie Canal that runs across New York State from Buffalo over to the Hudson River. As I have mentioned on other posts, twice I have ridden my bike across NYS, mostly following the Canal Path. In addition, I have spent a great deal of time over the years paddling a canoe or kayak, riding my bike, walking, or having lunch at one of the numerous restaurants along the Canal. In the 38 years I have lived in Rochester, I have seen the Canal in the Rochester area go from an almost forgotten waterway to a thriving recreational and tourist attraction. It now brings people in from out of state as a destination. There are companies that rent pontoon boats and larger craft for navigating across the state on multi-day trips.

Just a brief history of the Erie Canal in the Rochester region. Nathaniel Rochester was the Donald Trump of his day. He managed to get the original canal to run through the city of Rochester through what is now Interstate 490! He was a flour merchant and this allowed him easy transportion of his product to distant destinations! That, of course, was long ago done away with and the current canal runs south of the city. There is still part of a stone lock from that original canal alongside I-490 leading into downtown Rochester.

Monday, August 15, 2011

My portable convection oven

Anyone who has ever been in my kitchen will tell you, the kitchen is my playroom. I enjoy all types of cooking and baking, as witnessed by my extensive cookbook collection, my Kitchen Aid mixer, my large cast iron cookware collection, my George Forman grill and rotisserie, my three crockpots, my juicing machine . . you get the picture!

Last year I bought this deni portable convection oven. I bought it to take on my trip South for our annual cousins reunion, which regular readers of my blog are familiar with. The small Alabama town where we meet is lacking in fine dining establishments. In 2010, we found ourselves going to a Shoney’s Restaurant the night before the reunion. It was crowded, noisy, and the food was mediocre. And I couldn’t have a glass of wine with my dinner! Mercy! This year we cooked in my hotel room. The first night, there were three of us so I made hamburgers. The next night there were five so I made a roast chicken and made a salad with fresh vegetables. They were amazed at what I put together for them!

It was fun just to be “us” and not have a noisy crowd to deal with or worry about the next table hearing our conversation.

When I came home, I found I enjoyed using it at home as well. I can make a roast chicken in a lot less time than my conventional oven takes. This picture shows the chicken cooking. There is another tray (not shown here) to use for things like hamburgers, or you could cook pork chops on the top tray and put vegetables on the lower tray.

Clean up is easy. Everything except the lid (which has the electrical stuff) can go in the dishwasher. They included a recipe book and a rack to set the hot lid on when your food is done.

Color me old and set in my ways, but I’m all about healthy eating. This oven caters to that. Because the fat drains to the bottom of the big bowl, your food is more nutritious and healthy.

I first heard of these appliances when I was channel surfing and found an infomercial on another brand with Mr. T (remember him?) as the host. After a little research, I found the best choice is one that has a glass bowl, as opposed to plastic that will crack over time. The deni had a lot of positive reviews on different websites and I have been pleased with it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


"I'm usually a good natured dog, but I don't like Sherry constantly flashing that light in my face."

This is Molly, my lovable black Lab. . . Actually, she's part Lab and part human.

I can't imagine my life without a Lab in my home.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Take a hike!

I mean that literally! In the previous post, I showed you pictures of the hike a friend and I took in one of our County Parks on Wednesday. It wasn't really planned. . . I sent her an e-mail scolding her for not posting on her blog in months. She wrote back and accepted blame and then asked me if I'd be interested in going on a hike the next day. That is like asking my dog if she wants a treat.

Now, two days later, I'm starting to realize the real benefits of that hike. We walked through open fields, along wooded paths, and past wildflowers. The woods were beautiful and a couple of times I just had to stop to take it all in. We came to a crossing of trails and she said, "If we go that way, it will add about a half hour or we can go this way and its much shorter." Without hesitation, I said, "Let's go the long way."

According to the app on her iPhone, we covered 4 miles in a peaceful setting. Then we were off to a nice little coffee shop where you can get all kinds of fresh made sandwiches and the like. "Ginger, do you really think we should go in looking like we do?" I had mud all over the bottom of my pants.

I got home a little before 9:00 pm. I've been dealing with tough issues over the past months and sometimes this really gets me down. My friends have been great in involving me in activities to distract me, like bicycling, hiking, sporting clays shooting, or just inviting me over for a visit. Just being out in the woods, away from the rat race of life, taking in the scenery really boosted my morale.

I'm convinced if you have friends who care and you find things to do that you enjoy, no problem is insurmountable.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A hike in Black Creek Park

My friend, Ginger, asked me to hike Black Creek Park with her this afternoon. She didn't have to beg! The above image is an app from her iPhone that shows our route, how long the hike took, how many miles. . . even how many calories we burned!

So come along on our hike and enjoy!

This is looking down on Black Creek from the trail high above.

And after the hike, we went to this neat place for a light dinner. It was a fun afternoon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Michael and Marisa!

My son, Michael, and his wife, Marisa, were married 14 years ago today. Marisa, thank you for making my son happy.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A visit to Autumn's Harvest Farm

This morning I took a drive from Rochester over to Autumn's Harvest Farm, a little more than a one hour drive from my home, to buy grass fed beef, roasting chickens, sausage and FARM FRESH EGGS! I have never had farm fresh eggs and the ones I brought home had just been laid this morning so I couldn't wait to get home and have scrambled eggs for lunch!

I went to this farm two years ago and posted about it here . I am ashamed it took me so long to get back over there. With more awareness on the undesirable way animals are raised and produced for the market, I decided either I was going to go total vegetarian or be more careful about the meat I buy. (If you haven't seen the movie Food, Inc, it may be worth your while to watch it. . . as disgusting as it is. You can find it online.)

The farm is owned and operated by a young couple with small children. He has hired an employee to help since I was there last. I can't tell you the huge difference in taste of grass fed beef and poultry as opposed to those on the huge corporate farms who are fed corn products and kept in unsanitary conditions. If you google "benefits of grass fed beef" you probably won't go back to the "store bought" kind again.

It was a nice drive on a sunny day in Western New York. Once I left the New York State Thruway at the Geneva exit, it was a pleasant drive through farmland, miles and miles of farmers' fields, a winery or two along the way, until I found my way to Autumn's Harvest Farm.

They always give you a sample of something you didn't buy. Today they gave me a package of Italian sausage.

If you live in Western New York, I encourage you to check out their products. I feel it is an added bonus to do business directly with the farmer.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A charcoaled grilled steak for dinner

I have a Weber gas grill that I use a lot in the warmer months. But sometimes it's nice to go back to "the real thing". . . charcoal grilled steaks!

I set up my Baby Weber, as I call it, in the back yard and cooked a strip steak for dinner.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Happy Birthday, John and Michael!

My twin sons are 38 today. Have a great day. I'm very proud of both of you.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Update on my flower gardens

Recently I wrote about the battle with a woodchuck and slugs destroying my impatiens in the front yard. It looks like I have won.

This is my garden packed with "deer resistant" perennials. The silver plant in the front that is leaning down, usually stands tall, but it rained during the night. Those stalks will bounce back soon.

And this is the other side. On the right edge of the photo is the lamb's ear plant. It is another good deer resistant plant, although I need to cut the blooms off this one.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A trip down memory lane. . .

Lois, one of my blog friends, has posted two days of a wonderful picture tour of her recent day trip to Wilmington, Ohio. It is a sleepy little town that will take you back to the early 50's. So much in those pictures remind me of days gone by - the elaborate clock, the buildings, the hotel where they had lunch, the quaint little shops, and much more.

There are little towns like that all around Rochester. I do enjoy them when I ride through, but almost never stop to really take it all in, or even take pictures. She also mentioned going there in her childhood when her family would "go for a ride." Going for a ride - to no place in particular - was a big deal back in the early to mid 50's. It was a simpler time, lost in today's fast paced world.

I have ridden a bike twice across New York State, along the Erie Canal from Tonawanda, NY over to Schenectady. All along the way, our tour group passed little villages and hamlets very much like the town Lois featured. It was an experience I'll never forget.

Take a look at her two recent posts. You'll find the link here

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Blue Ribbon Recipes from America's State and County Fairs

This wonderful collection of winning recipes is one of my favorites and one that I turn to when I want to impress company. The author set out to collect the very best recipes from State and County Fairs across the country.

The recipes cover everything from breakfast foods, vegetables, yeast and quick breads, candies and pastries, even jams and jellies and much more.

It is no wonder I had trouble finding just one recipe to feature here. So I chose two!

The Blueberry-Lemon Delight is a sure crowd pleaser. It won second place at the Michigan State Fair in 2000.

1 egg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon flavoring
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
3/4 cup pecans, chopped


1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a 9 x 9 x 2 inch pan.

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in milk, lemon flavoring, and zest. With mixer running, add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Gently fold in blueberries and pecans. Spread batter into baking pan.

To make topping: In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and flour. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle topping evenly over batter in pan. Bake 35 minutes, or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan.

Makes 8 servings.

Pecan Swirls won first place, youth division at the Florida State Fair in 2005

2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
2 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups finely chopped pecans
1 1/3 cups sugar

In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Divide dough in thirds, form into balls, and flatten slightly into disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Chill until easy to handle, about 2 hours.

Combine pecans and sugar. Roll out each dough disk on a lightly floured surface to make a 16 x 9 inch rectangle. Sprinkle one-third of pecan mixture over top to within 1/2 inch of edges. Roll up tightly jelly-roll style, starting with a long side. Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 2 hours.

Unwrap dough logs and cut into 3/8 inch slices. Place slices 2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake in a preheated 400 F. oven for 12 to 14 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. Makes 8 dozen pecan swirls.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Blog Statistics for Sherry's Place

I find it entertaining to follow the statistics (number of hits my blog gets) for Sherry’s Place.

There are probably a dozen or so of my friends and family who follow my blog regularly but don’t comment. . . you have to be signed up with blogspot or google to post a comment. Beyond that, I’m guessing there are another dozen or so followers who usually stop by and on occasion, any number of others who find their way to my blog. But overwhelmingly, the vast number of hits come from google searches. Two posts in the last few months have garnered a high number of posts. The first, the post titled, “The best ever coleslaw recipe” and the other one, was the first post I did on sporting clays.

My stats page also shows what country the visits come from. I was surprised to find a significant number from Europe and China.

I have no way of knowing the identities of those who stop by, unless, of course, they leave a comment. The exception to that one is if I get hits on posts from our annual cousins reunion long after they appeared, then I have a pretty good idea it’s a family member who was there and wants to relive the fun we had!

Sometimes people will e-mail their comments to me rather than leave a comment on the blog. Recently, a new reader to my blog e-mailed that she had tried unsuccessfully to leave a comment on the blog and for whatever reason, it wouldn’t work. She e-mailed to say she found one of my recipes in the Summer Salads post particularly interesting and thanked me for sharing. That one made my day!

As anyone who follows my blog knows, I don’t have a main theme for what I write . . . my life is much too multifaceted to do that! When I chose to focus on my huge cookbook collection, I didn’t know how well that would be accepted. Surprisingly, it has done well. People have mentioned to me, in person or through e-mails, that they enjoy those.

And finally, if you have ever thought of starting a blog, JUST DO IT! You will find it is a lot of fun and you will make new and interesting friends from all over the world.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

YES!!! Another personal best score!!!

I did it again. Today I scored another personal best in sporting clays! In fact, I'm even getting close to the range of a respectable score!

There is no thrill like seeing that bright orange disk shatter into pieces when you pull the trigger!

Crochet Give-Away over at Lois' Blog

My blog friend, Lois, a non-stop knitter and crocheter, is having a crochet give-away on her blog. Find her link here

She has an online shop with all kinds of crochet/knitted items, from doll clothes to beautiful afghans. Check it out! Christmas isn't that far off!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Andrew crushes the competition at Triathlon

Just as I was looking for ideas for my next post here, I received this picture of my youngest grandson, Andrew. This little six year old, ladies and gentlemen, swept past the competition, completing a 100 meter swim, a 1.5 mile bike ride, and a half mile run this morning.

But wait! Big brother, Kevin, starts his competition at 9:30 this morning. Stay tuned!

UPDATE! Kevin did great in his age group also. He completed a 100 meter swim, 4.5 mile bike ride, and a 1.5 mile run.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Vegetarian cookbook from the bargain table

I found this one on the bargain table at a bookstore several years back. It turned out to be a goldmine for wonderful vegetarian recipes. Although I am not a vegetarian, I do enjoy a lot of vegetarian meals. Like a lot of health conscious folks, I have cut back on the amount of red meat in my diet.

There are quite a few recipes here that I cook often. . . Garlic, Chickpea & Spinach Soup, Mixed Vegetables with Artichokes, and Cauliflower & Broccoli with Tomato Sauce, to name a few.

Garlic, Chickpea and Spinach Soup is easy to put together and makes a nice satisfying meal by itself.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves crushed
1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
5 cups stock [a strict vegetarian would use vegetable stock. . . I use chicken stock]
12 oz. potatoes, peeled and finely chopped
15 oz. can chickpeas, drained
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons tahini
7 oz. fresh spinach, shredded
cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the garlic and onion for 5 minutes, or until they are softened and golden.

Stir in the cumin and coriander and cook for another minute. Pour in the stock and add the chopped potatoes to the pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the chickpeas and simmer for 5 minutes more. Blend together the cornstarch, cream, tahini and plenty of seasoning. Stir into the soup with the spinach. Bring to a boil, stirring and simmer for another 2 minutes. Season with cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A peek at my gardens

Here are my coneflowers in bloom. They attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Thanks to a big fat woodchuck and slugs, my impatiens have not done well this summer. By this time, they should be covering the ground with a lot of blooms. The white balls you see in the picture are mothballs which discourage the woodchuck. For slugs, I used small, flat containers of beer. They crawl into the beer and drown. At this point, I'm just trying not to lose the plants totally.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tickled Pink! A Personal Best Score

As some of you know, I became totally excited about sporting clays shooting within the last year. Sporting clays has been described as "golf with a shotgun!" You go from station to station, shooting at moving targets. Each station is different in the path of the moving clay target. It is a big challenge and a lot of fun. The clay target can fly from the right or left, high or low, straight or curved. They even have one station simulating a rabbit running across the field.

Yesterday I had a personal best score. Never mind that my score is not respectable! I'm still learning.

Aside from the thrill of hitting the target, it is pleasant to walk the course. I belong to one of the finest clubs in the country for sporting clays, Rochester Brooks Gun Club. There are two sporting clays courses. They vary from stations in the wide open to walking through the woods. Very scenic, especially in the fall with the fall foliage.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers - Salads

This post will drive my friend, Granny, over in Australia, nuts!!! It is not customary to have jello (or congealed) salads in Australia. I got a big laugh out of that one! She said the first time she came to America, she was astounded to see Americans with "jelly" on their plate!!!


I have several old, old cookbooks from the "Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers" series, dating back to the early 1960s. This one features salad recipes - all kinds! After seeing that my previous post from this series continues to get a lot of online visits, I did a little exploring and found out the Favorite Recipes Press is alive and well and has a website as well as quite a following from the public.

You can tell by a quick look at the table of contents that this is an old book. They refer to pasta salads as "macaroni salads!"

Over the years, I have used this volume quite a bit and have gotten my share of compliments.

Here is a quote from the Introduction to this book: "To exchange recipes is an age-old custom. To share a favorite recipe symbolizes friendliness and good will, as well as pride in one's culinary performance. The recipes in this book were contributed voluntarily by home economics teachers who had used them and found them to be good enough to recommend to others as a favorite recipe."

Here are a couple of recipes that I like. Let me know what you think.

7-UP Salad (For those readers outside the US who may not be familiar with the term "7 UP," it is a soda (or soft drink). Not sure if it is still sold (I'm not a soda drinker!) It is similar to a lemon-lime soda. I have often used ginger ale in this recipe rather than 7 UP.

1 small package lime jello
1 cup boiling water
2 small packages cream cheese
1 small can crushed pineapple
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 6oz. bottle of 7-UP

Dissolve jello in boiling water. Cool. Add remaining ingredients. Pour into jello mold and chill.
Note: I use an old Tupperware jello mold that makes an attractive display on the table. You could simply use any bowl.

Cold Meat Salad

2 cups leftover roast, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup tart apple, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine meat, celery and apple. Mix mayo thoroughly with mustard and salt. Add to meat mixture. Toss lightly until well coated. Serve on crisp lettuce leaves.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer Salads

Here are recipes for summer salads that I make a lot this time of year.

The first one, Blueberry Salad, has been a favorite in my family for years.

2 3oz. packages blackberry jello
2 cups boiling water
1 8oz. can crushed pineapple
1 can blueberries

1 8oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 - 2/3 cup chopped walnuts.

Dissolve the jello in the boiling water. Add the crushed pineapple and blueberries, including juice from both cans. Stir. Chill till firm.

For the topping, combine all ingredients in a mixer. Then spread over top of the jello mixture. Top with chopped walnuts.

Macaroni-Pepperoni Salad
I first had this salad at a family reunion about thirty years ago. I've made it dozens of times over the years and I'm often asked for the recipe.

2 cups uncooked macaroni shells
2 cups chopped celery
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup sliced pepperoni
4 tablespoons pickle relish
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
2 cups grated cheddar

Cook and drain macaroni.

Mix all ingredients together except the cheese.
Top with cheese. Make ahead and chill for best flavor.

Ribbon Jello
This one is a bit tedious to make but well worth the effort. A sure crowd pleaser.

5 small packages jello, each a different color
16 oz. sour cream

Dissolve one package of jello in 1 cup boiling water. Take out 1/2 cup and add 2 tablespoons cold water. Place in bottom of rectangular glass pan. Allow to chill 25 to 30 minutes. To the remainder of the jello, add 1/3 cup sour cream and combine. Spread this on top of the first layer in the pan.

Continue with these directions for the other four packages. The idea is to have contrasting layers of colors.

When complete, cut into one inch squares and place on a serving plate. Makes an attractive dish and one everyone likes!

This last one, Swiss Chard-Cabbage Salad, is not only highly nutritious, but has an exceptionally good taste. I got the recipe from Farmgirlfare, a blog I follow. Find the link to the right of this blog where I list the blogs I follow.

4 cups thinly sliced Swiss Chard leaves
1 cup chopped Swiss Chard stems
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1 cup shredded red cabbage
7 or 8 chopped scallions
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 16 oz. carton of cottage cheese
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in order given and mix well. Chill before serving.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bizarre, but true!

I am having an awful time this summer with my impatiens in the front yard. First I thought it was a woodchuck eating the blooms. Someone told me to put mothballs around the plants. I haven't seen the woodchuck in over a week but then something started eating the stems.

Last night I was talking with Rita, one of my cousins from down South. She asked me if it could be slugs. As a matter of fact, yesterday I did see a couple of them when I was pulling weeds. She told me if I put small containers of beer around the plants that the slugs would go for that and die once they got to the beer. . . yes, I laughed too!

The only thing I had to put the beer in was disposable plastic cups. So I cut the bottoms off three cups high enough up to hold about a half inch of beer. This morning I have two dead slugs in the beer containers!!!

Well, let's see. . . Rita, you've got a pretty good track record. The grits on ant hills was a swift killer! The moth balls seem to have detracted the woodchuck. And now I have two slugs to dispose of!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

French Vegetable Ratatouille in the Crockpot

It has been awhile since I featured a cookbook from my large collection, so let's get back to that.

This one is from my Betty Crocker's Slow Cooker book, copyright 1999. My idea of cooking with a crockpot is a recipe that requires nothing more than putting all the ingredients together in the crockpot, turning it on, and forgetting it for the next 8 to 10 hours. Those are the crockpot recipes I use. It is so pleasant coming home to a house smelling of a meal cooking in the crockpot.

Here is a recipe that would make a nice summer meal using fresh vegetables from your garden or the Farmer's Market.

1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 5 cups)
4 medium tomatoes, cut into fourths
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Mix all ingredients in a 3 1/2 to 6 quart slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low heat setting 6 to 8 hours or until vegetables are tender.

Yield: 8 servings

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A fun day with the grandchildren!

Today was a wonderful day with my grandsons. . . oh! and John and Jen too!!!

We went to the zoo. The last time I was there, Kevin, my oldest grandson, was just starting to walk!

I think the exhibit I enjoyed most was the penquins. The zookeeper was feeding them and that was fun to watch! We also saw a bald eagle, seals, polar bears, elephants, and so many more species.

We came back to my house. John wanted to dig into his old set of legos from his childhood. Kevin, Jake, and Andrew all enjoy legos. The picture above shows all four of them at my dining room table putting together legos from way back in the 1980's. They were oblivious to anything else going on!

We had barbeque chicken on the grill, blueberry salad, 3-bean salad, fresh fruit salad and apple pie for dessert.

I will see them again on Monday, the Fourth of July.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Alive and Well!

Geez, I didn't realize it's been almost two weeks since my last post. Sorry 'bout that! No particular reason, other than I've been busy. I could make a full time job out of trying to keep my yard and gardens free of weeds. . . a job I neither like nor am I an expert at! You think when you put a good 5 inches or more of mulch in a flower bed that the weeds would stay away at least for awhile. Wrong!

I hope all of my readers in the US have a happy 4th of July holiday.

I will be with my grandsons over the 4th so no question I will have a good time!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Licking my wounds

Forgive me, I know you are accustomed to seeing upbeat, happy posts here. This one's gonna be different.

I spent weeks and many hours getting ready for my garage sale yesterday. I bulldozed my basement, drawers, cabinets, closets, the shed out back, looking for things that were useful but for which I no longer have a need for. I cleaned and washed dozens of things. As anyone knows who has held a garage sale, it takes a lot of time and energy. Except for help putting up and taking down my pop-up canopy, I did everything by myself. I had a wide variety of "merchandise". . . kitchen items, books, CDs I no longer listen to, a couple of radios with CD/cassette capabilities, table linens. The list was endless. For a week prior to the sale, my living room was filled to overflowing with items ready to be put out on the driveway on the morning of the sale. I hated the cluttered condition but I dealt with it thinking I would make at least a minimal profit.

At the end of the day, I didn't even make enough money to equal the cost of the ads I ran. To say I am disappointed is an understatement.

It wasn't that I overpriced things. Many people who showed up were looking for one or two specific items. When they found I didn't have those things, they didn't bother to look at what else was there.

It wasn't the weather. Yesterday was a beautiful, mild, sunny day in Rochester.

Give me a day or two to recover from this nightmare and I'll be back on my feet again!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

It's a Southern thing!

Last year, in my flower garden in the front yard, I had one patch of ground where there was a mass of ants. I was afraid to spray ant killer, thinking that may damage my plants. Earlier today, I noticed the same thing, only on the other side of the garden.

I put a note on Facebook asking if anyone knew what to do about it. Something that would kill the ants, but leave my flowers alone.

I got an answer, but not what I expected! One of my cousins from down South wrote, "put grits over them."

"Are you serious?" I wrote back.

She claimed the ants will eat them, become enlarged and die.

So I tried it. . . admittedly hoping none of the neighbors saw me or asked what I was doing! That was several hours or more ago. Believe it or not, I think it's working! I've gone back and checked a couple of times and I notice now the ants are staggering around. They were also taking the grits down into the ground, which my cousin says, they are taking food to those underground.

I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Garage sale revisited

Okay, I can do this. Yes, I can do this. . . the question is. . . am I trying to convince you or ME???

I'll let you in on a little secret. . . panic is starting to set in!

Now don't laugh at this. . . I crocheted it back in my twenties, when these kinds of things were stylish. My jaw dropped when I opened a box and found this today! Yes, it's going in the garage sale. I wouldn't get caught dead wearing something like this now.

You can't even get into my dining room right now with all the "stuff" that is cleaned, marked with a price and ready to go in the sale. And I am about three-quarters of the way into gathering "stuff". The more I look in my basement, the shed out back, the garage, and drawers, I find more items to put in the sale. There are half a dozen or more framed crewel and embroidery pictures - some that go back far enough to be considered antiques - there is the high-end bike and my solo canoe I hope to sell (but they will not be "garage-sale-priced") that need to be dusted off, more books, old cassette tapes. Then there is that old, shabby chest of drawers that has been "junk storage" in my basement for over 20 years. One of my sons told me to get rid of it a long time ago. Now, if I were to take the time to clean it up and paint it, I might get a decent price for it. Maybe I will run a dust cloth over it and put it out for $5.00.

I've held garage sales over the years, but always with plenty of help. This time I'm on my own. What will I do if a crowd shows up all at once? A couple of people have offered to come over. I think I will take them up on it, at least for the busy time.

Thanks for listening to my hysteria!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A garage sale

It's taken me quite awhile to talk myself in to it. I'm having a garage sale on June 18. . . 14 years of accumulation. Like most people, I've got things that are too good to throw away but they are things I don't use anymore. When I started thinking about everything, I realized I have well over $1000 worth of stuff so even if I don't sell everything, it will be worth my effort.

It makes me dizzy just thinking of gathering everything together, cleaning what needs to be cleaned/washed, pricing it. . . I'm going to have to enlist friends or neighbors to come over during the day to give me a potty break!

Here's a partial list of what I've chosen to include. The list gets longer the more I think about it or walk through my basement or back yard shed to see what's there.

Noritake china, Sylvia pattern. Service for 12 with serving bowls/platters
Canondale comfort bike with shock absorbers
Mad River kevlar solo canoe with cane seats
cast iron griddle
several coffee makers
small crockpot
several small, decorative flower pots
tons and tons of books
various cases (brief case types, duffels)
several old framed crewel embroidery pictures
several pieces of fabric that I never made into clothes
several framed pictures

I posted on facebook last night and wow did that draw dozens of comments! One of the first things I was asked was what about camping gear. Yes, there is a lot of camping gear - some things I still use, others I don't. But I'm saving those items for my grandsons.

Wish me luck!

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Muffin Lady

This is not only a cookbook with great recipes, but an inspiring read.

The Muffin Lady, copyright 1997, was written by Linda Fisher, who following a divorce and no way to adequately provide for herself and her young son, refused to accept welfare. Instead, she searched through her mother's old recipes and began baking muffins, cupcakes, and quick breads and selling them from her son's red Radio Flyer wagon. She pounded the pavement in Westminster, Maryland with her baked goods and soon became a local favorite.

Just when business was booming, the local health department told her to pack up her wagon and leave because she did not have a "department-approved commercial kitchen." Linda fought back and the community came to her support. In the end, the Westminster volunteer fire department offered her the use of their "approved" kitchen.

The table of contents is divided into recipes using Seeds and Nuts, Fruits, Vegetables and Grains, and Confection. But don't skip the Introduction of this fine book. In it you will get a peek into her growing up years and the beginnings of her business. You will understand how her childhood instilled in her a sense of pride and perseverance.

I have used quite a few of her recipes and have never been disappointed. The only thing I disagree with her on is her use of wax paper to line the muffin tins. I never felt the need for that. But each to his own!

Her Morning Glory Muffins are simply delicious. This recipe was born out of necessity. In her own words: "I had a little bit of carrot, a little bit of apple, some pineapple, and a lot of walnuts. Needed another muffin "flavor of the day", and money was tight. Since I couldn't buy additional supplies, I made the muffin with the ingredients I had."

Here's the recipe with my highest recommendation!

2 cups flour
2 teasponns baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon mace
2 carrots, grated
1 apple, grated
1 cup oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup crushed pineapple
1/4 cup chopped nuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the dry ingredients. Place the carrots, apple, oil, and sugar in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time. Gradually add the dry ingredients. Fold in the pineapple and nuts. Spoon into a wax paper-lined 12 cup muffin pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

This ones a winner, folks!