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.