Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gram Potter

Looking back I have come to realize how much my father's mother influenced my life. She was widowed when I was about 5 and lived independently in her sparkling clean house in Sussex, New Jersey for many years. She loved to sew and cook. She was a wonderful cook - nothing fancy - just good. She did not spare the butter, sugar or cream. My sister and I each had some time with her in the summer. She took me to my first auction and I still have the little flatiron with the wooden handle that I bought for a dime!

She loved auctions, pinochle, church suppers, a good "tsk, tsk" story and shopping. My mother used to take her to Bamberger's in Morristown and she would not come home until she had spent what she had planned on spending. If there was $1.50 left, she found something for $1.50. I inherited that gene! She made most of her clothes and her crocheting was legendary. All of her pillowcases had knitted or crocheted lace trim and most surfaces had doilies.

The dining room had a bow window that was full of plants and looked at a perennial garden. She did well with begonias and gloxinias as I recall. I still have her oak dining room table. Her china was a Limoge with pale blue flowers and gold trim. She used the "good stuff" for family events. The china cabinet was built-in and was the wall between the kitchen and dining room. You could open it from either side so the dishes could be washed and put away from the kitchen side. There was a special place where food could be passed back and forth. I loved that cupboard and everything that was in it.

She could bake and when we would arrive there would be cookies in a pressed metal tin. The tin was silver and black, shaped like a treasure chest and lined with wax paper. There would be layers of cookies separated by wax paper. My absolute favorite were Rocks! A few years ago when my sister was visiting in Maine, she and I decided to make them to see if they were as good as we remembered. We thought it would a nice gesture to make them for our parents who were there for the summer. Well, they were just as we remembered and we saved one for grammy! The cookie dough will seem quite crumbly but kind of squish it together.


1 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter
1 ½ cups sifted flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup chopped dates
3/4 cup dark raisins
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water
Cream together sugar and butter. Combine the rest of the ingredients. Drop by spoonfuls on greased baking sheet. Cook at 375 for 10-12 minutes. Makes 3 dozen.

To be continued.....

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Procrastinating and Prioritizing both start with p....

As I said yesterday, I did find the recipe for Wheat Germ Bread. I made this for years. I was in my "mother of the year phase". I probably made this bread 3 times a week. We ate it all. We toasted it, we served it hot out of the oven with soup or stew, and we used it for sandwiches. I don't know who gave me the recipe but we lived in Falmouth then. I was pregnant with Greg. The kitchen was small. I had plants in the windows. The light was wonderful and they thrived. Scented geraniums were my favorites. Rich would pretend they were taking over the kitchen. It was a cute house but too small. We found the house in Gorham and moved there when Greg was about 9 months old. I can't remember when I stopped making this bread. I went on to make lots of others and that was before bread machines. I think that there was a dry spell in bread making because we started working on the house and there was hair plaster all over the house.

Wheat Germ Bread

3 cups warm water
3 cakes yeast
1/3 cup honey
9-10 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
5 tablespoons oil
1 cup wheat germ

Combine water, yeast and honey in a large bowl. Stir until yeast is dissolved. Add 5 cups flour and the salt. Beat with a spoon until batter is smooth. Add wheat germ and remaining flour and blend well. Pour oil over dough and knead in bowl for about 3 minutes. The dough will absorb most or all of the oil. Cover the bowl and let rise until doubled - about 45 minutes. Punch down and knead slightly. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Shape into 3 loaves. Let rise until doubled - about 30 minutes. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes or until done.

I never did get the "mother of the year award". In the sub-category of "mother of the day", I once made it until 10:35 am.
We have tomorrow and Monday morning to finish up. I am having so much fun with this blog that I am either going to have to get up a 4 for the next 2 days or just let some things wait until November. That is called prioritizing!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Perfect meals

Even if the meal isn't perfect, the table has to look perfect. I love dishes. Living in a condo has cut down on my collection but I still look and yearn. It's funny how one's tastes change over the years. When Rich and I were getting married, the decisions about china and silver were of great importance. One needed to be registered right after the engagement or even before it was announced so that gifts could be given at the various parties and showers that would follow. I must have changed my mind 3 or 4 much to my mother's embarrassment and finally settled on Essex Maroon by Lenox. My silver pattern was Homewood by Steiff. My crystal was too dainty and it broke rather quickly (probably because I put it in the dishwasher). I still have the silver but haven't used it in 10 or 15 years and the Lenox I put in a garage sale.

For years I scoured antique shops looking for depression glass and greenware. I bought various patterns and loved to mix them up. Now I rarely use real china. My favorites are Apilco and Vietri. I keep the table set but usually eat on the lanai or move the place settings to the side and use plain dishes. Living in Florida for most of year calls for a different look that small town New England.

I found the recipe for the wheat germ bread I made for years. Jeff mentioned it last year and that's when I thought I would try to organize some of these memories. I will post that tomorrow and try to find some older pictures.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Almost back in Maine.....

There is so much to do to close up one house and go to another 1500 miles away. It would be lovely to just travel with a small purse and have everything at both homes but it just doesn't work that way. This year we are shipping less - smaller boxes for older backs - but still we can't seem to avoid a hefty UPS cost. It is my fault. It's the quilts and my projects. I cannot be without them. I must have projects and I must have choices.

I love fabrics and I love patterns. I love quilting books, cookbooks, needlepoint books and books on how to simplify your life (they haven't worked so far). My regular reading is done with the Kindle and that has saved space. The Accucut Go organized my projects to take back and I just hope I have enough. Although if it rains all summer, I may not even get out of bed.

Jack has been talking about his famous Mrs. Bennett's Spaghetti Sauce made with tomato soup of all things. So I gave the recipe to my friend Sue and she has been eating it out of pan not even bothering with pasta. I have started the grocery list for Maine and this will be the first thing we make!

Mrs. Bennett's Sauce

1 cup water

2 cans tomato soup

2 T Worcestershire sauce

2 T cider vinegar

1 t chili powder

2 bay leaves

1 can tomato paste

15 oz. can Hunt's tomato sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

1 package mushrooms sliced

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1 lb. hamburg, browned and drained

1 Italian finger pepper chopped fine

a good pinch of oregano

pinch of salt

Saute onions, mushrooms, and garlic in 2 T olive oil. Add everything to a Dutch oven and simmer until thick - about 3 hours. After 2 hours, add a good glug of red wine. Best made the day before.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Deleting is tricky

Well, I had a lovely post about the cottage called Querencia and how I started to cook again for Jack. I blinked or my finger twitched or something and I lost it forever - it was probably the most eloquent post ever penned! Oh, well. The cottage is lovely. Nothing fancy and I mean nothing fancy. The counters are red linoleum and counter space is limited. The dishes do not match but are old and pretty. The table and chairs are retro and there is a glider on the front porch. We put our feet up on the windowsills and sip our beverages of choice and look at the lake. There is small beach where we gather with our landlords and friends the Madans.

We have a bedroom downstairs and loft with twin beds up. Quilts hang over the loft railings and some antique lamps add to the ambiance. The walls are pine and floor is helped with an old oriental.

I sew at the table and we eat on the porch! If the kids come, we eat outside and use paper plates.

Rainy Monday

It's unusual for rain here in Paradise but we need it and it is a change. We are almost ready to head back up to Maine. Closing up Sarasota is a chore and if I weren't so proud I would take a picture of my guest/sewing/studio/tornado room which must be addressed in the very near future. I accomplished a lot this year as far as completed projects but the most important accomplishment is giving up smoking!!!!

I made a quilt and a pillowcase for Kyley.

I made a quilt and a pillowcase for Richie.

I made 4 Patch Posy for the cabin.

And I have 3 "almost finished" packed and ready to ship to Maine. This year I will hope to finish these projects. I hope that the weather is cooperative. Rainy and damp is difficult - I can't see the lake while I am sewing and I need that view to work.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Getting the hang of it - almost

Well, for some reason the last part of the last post changed color and I have tried to fix it four times. I think there is a lot to this blogging and it would be fun to design your own templates but that is for another day. This week I will start to actually get recipes written up as recipes. Some are from Gram Potter (my father's mother) and some from my mother (your grandmother). I will also post pictures. I need to scan many of them into the computer so this blog is going to move forward and backwords as I catch up and insert memories.

In case you were never positive, Burleigh Loveitt was Santa and when he came through Eleanor's back yard on the horse drawn pung, they did run over her raspberries.

This year is a big birthday -the one where all the insurance companies send you greetings and you receive your medicare card! Part A, part B and what to do for the rest of your coverage - very boring but a milestone to be sure. So I decided that while I still could remember (long term care birthday cards have been arriving daily) I would try to organize some thoughts about my life and what I have done and what is still left to do. So bear with me as I scramble and ramble to make this all work. The blogging is a new experience and it is quite exciting!

I will dedicate this blog to my 3 sons: Jeffrey; Peter and Greg. I hope that they will come to know and understand me a bit better - not that they don't now but there parts of me that they do not know.


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