Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mosaic Monday

I have been experimenting with a new background from Cutest Little Blog on the Block and making Mosaics with Picasa. It is raining once again so it is probably best that my nose is in the computer rather than looking out the window at the dreary rain. I know I keep changing the appearance of my blog but I rearrange furniture until I get it right as well.

The field of flowers above is at Sherman's Farms. There are very precise directions on how to cut your own and you pay by the pound!

I will head over to Mary's at Little Red House after I post this because I just love seeing what everybody has done. Thanks to all of you who left comments and suggestions on making these mosaics. I really appreciate the expertise I see on the blogs I follow.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Annah's Pantry

A few years back my town decided that it needed a newspaper of its own to cover events in the community that the larger "city" paper did not cover. The Gorham Times was born. The town was excited and lots of us participated. I wrote a cooking column called Annah's Pantry. It was not to be about me but rather community participation. So twice a month I would start scurrying for community participation. I started with the ladies from church who brought the sweets for coffee hour and then moved on to the ladies who brought the casseroles for the church suppers. I went to the Garden Club, the Women's Club, local businesses, the town office, the schools and my poor friends. And every two weeks there was a new Annah's Pantry. Whew!

My middle name is Annah. The spelling I believe is Quaker and I have always loved it. I had just remodeled our house and I had added a pantry/office/wet bar so it seemed a perfect name. The logo came from clip art and I quite fancied it.

My friend Patti was always ready with a recipe for the column and we both liked gifts from the kitchen. So French Market Bean Soup Mix was a natural (and it took up almost the whole column!) This recipe makes a lot of gifts! Are you ready?

All beans are dried.

French Market Bean Soup

1 1/2 pounds of large Lima beans, Great Northern beans, baby Lima beans, yellow split peas, navy beans, cranberry beans, whole green peas, split green peas, kidney beans, small red chili beans, and black turtle beans.

1 pound aduki beans, black eyed peas, and pink beans.
3 pounds barley.

Combine all of the above except the barley. Add 1/3 cup barley to each packet or jar of the bean mix.

Bouquet Garni
1/2 teaspoon of dried basil, summer savory, thyme leaves, and sage leaves. 1 1/2 teaspoons parsley, 3 bay leaves, and 5 peppercorns. Tie the mixture in little bags of cheesecloth or muslin. Make many of these.

This mixture attractively packaged and labeled is then presented with a recipe card for the soup.
We did not have all the computer capacity that we have now so each card was hand written. The soup can be served with a scoop of rice in which case you would need to have that ready when the soup was done.

French Market Bean Soup

Wash and drain beans and peas. In a large pot with 3 quarts water add 1 meaty ham hock, 28 ounce can tomatoes, 2 cups chopped onion, 2 cups chopped celery, 3 cloves chopped garlic, 5 teaspoons salt (or less) and the bouquet garni. Simmer covered 2 1/2 - 3 hours covered. Then remove the meat from the ham hock and return the meat to the pan. Simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. Watch the level of water. Then add 1 pound of smoked sausage, sliced and 2 raw chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces. Simmer for about 40 minutes. Serve with fresh chopped parsley on a scoop of white rice. I make the rice after adding the sausage and chicken.

Now you could cut down on all the beans by going to a "whole" foods type of store and getting 1/2 cup of each bean but it is fun to package this up and give it away during the holidays or just because. This is best made a day ahead as the flavor improves. Serves 10-12.

There are many variations of this soup and the mixture of the beans so that you can experiment which one of may favorite ways to cook!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A little housekeeping

I have been neglecting the cottage....There is so much sand from the beach that I have swept it all up and I am going to take it back to the beach. The weather is turning cooler and they say we will have an early fall. Just as long as we don't have that white stuff before we head back south I will be fine.

So this morning I swept and vacuumed, dusted and scrubbed, and sorted through stuff. The cabin looks much better. I had visions of posting for Outdoor Wednesday and Tablescape Thursday but that won't happen this week. I will plan for next week.

I follow several other blogs and I have spent some serious time exploring them. I have read older posts and I have a real appreciation of the work that goes into them especially since I have participated in some events myself. The power of the positive comment is overwhelming and means a lot to the person posting - I know it does to me.

So during the next few days I am going to update my side bar and organize my photographs. I will probably spoil Jack who needs some of my time without my nose in the computer! I need more pictures so we may take "Black Beauty" for a ride in the country - she is a 2005 Thunderbird and she likes to go for rides. However, there is no back seat and a very small trunk so any treasures I find need to be small!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mosaic Monday

I can't believe it's Monday again. My mosaic this week was done with Photoshop 7. I like Big Huge Labs but I want more variety in the arrangement. I would be interested in hearing what others are using to create their wonderful mosaics.

We had friends here for the weekend. We cooked, ate and shopped. I am on a hunt for more hammered aluminum pieces and McCoy. My friends collect Hall teapots. And we all collect what seems like a good idea at the time!

I'm going to go to Little Red House and see what everyone else has posted!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lemon and cinnamon

Alice May Brock of Alice's Restaurant fame said the following:

"Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good."

This statement is an over simplification, I know, but works for today's post.

I got my blogging and Photoshop books. I feel like I am back in school. There is just so much to learn. The blogs I follow are an inspiration and I keep adding more to my list. I am an early bird and so tired of the news that having my coffee in the morning with my"blogging people" is my new way of the starting the day. I ultimately deal with the news but not until after I have read my blogs.

I think my favorite new "thing" to do is making the mosaics for Mosaic Monday. Big Huge Labs is a wonderful help. I wish they had more templates.

I am trying for variety and trying to get more color in between the pictures. We are supposed to get some rain the next few days so there will be plenty of study time.

It is just too hot to cook but that will change probably this week and then I am going to make Greek Spaghetti. This recipe is from my friend Sue and could not be simpler. There is little last minute tossing and stirring but well worth the effort.

Chuck roast (you decide how big)

½ lemon

salt, pepper, cinnamon

olive oil

2 cans Hunt’s tomato sauce

4 cinnamon sticks

1 stick butter

cooked spaghetti (we like thick)

grated Parmesan cheese

Rub the roast with lemon juice, salt and pepper and cinnamon. I use about ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Put in refrigerator for about 2 hours. In a large heavy pot heat olive oil and sear meat on all sides. Add tomato sauce, cinnamon sticks and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 3-4 hours. Roast can be sliced or chunked. Cook pasta and drain. Melt butter in a large skillet and cook until blackened. Add pasta and toss. Serve pasta and roast. I put the “gravy” in a pitcher and let people help themselves. Sprinkle with Parmesan as desired. A salad and crusty bread for dipping complete the meal.

We will eat on the porch!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tabletop Thursday

A beautiful day at the lake. I feel like I am caught up on some of the projects that I am working on. I didn't say finished - just caught up. I have watched and admired the posts from Tablescape Thursday hosted by Susan at Between Naps on the Back Porch. So today I will post my first tablescape.

I am taking a break. I made some ice tea and I have 2 books. One I should read and one I want to read and probably will. It was too hot to bake but the bakery at Hannaford's had done a fine job for me. The strawberries are delicious but I will most likely focus on the cookies! I will save the strawberries for my cereal in the morning. The blogging book will be for later. Crazy Ladies by Michael Lee West of Designs by Gollum will be started.

I gathered my supplies. I made sunshine peppermint tea in the morning. I put 4 Twining's tea bags in a pitcher in the sun while I got the rest of my tablescape together. The pillow for the chair is bark cloth which is a textured cotton from the 50's.

The banded ring glassware works beautifully with Fiesta but I don't have any of that - yet. It would be perfect at the cabin.

I picked a borage blossom for the iced tea and some nasturtiums for the plate of cookies.

I used a quilt for the table topper. I made this quilt a few years back from feed sack fabric squares I bought at a quilt show in Amish country. It is a variation on a nine patch. I have some more of those squares and need to make another quilt for the cabin.

The little pitcher with the birds was a find at a second hand store and really picks up the colors of the quilt. I sifted through a box of silver at Deb's Flowerbed Farm and after a little polishing (some elbow grease involved) I was pleased with the results. When I downsized I got rid of a lot of the silverplate and now wish I had kept it.

The teaspoon is dated 1903 and the napkin is monogrammed with A. My middle name is Annah so that worked.

I hope you got to take break today, too.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Jack's Garden

The name of this mosaic is Jack's Garden. When we first met about 6 years ago and decided that we would be together he promised me a garden. I was living in Florida and spending the summers in the little cabin on the lake in Maine. I missed my perennial gardens. So in the summer now we have nice gardens at his house and pots of flowers at the cabin! In September we will celebrate our 5th anniversary.

So head over to Mary's at Little Red House and see all the wonderful mosaics. That's where I'm going.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Looking at some geraniums...

I have always loved geraniums which technically should be called pelargonium The true geranium or cranesbill is a less dramatic flower although still quite lovely. Scented geraniums are another favorite and this year I have rose, lemon and apple scented in my garden. Their flowers are less showy but just touch the leaves and the scent is wonderful. Mosquitoes don't like the smell of geranium so some insect repellents use their oil which smells much better than pure citronella.

Years ago I had quite a collection of scented geraniums. I would layer a leaf or two from the rose scented one in some sugar and then make a pound cake. The cake would be subtly flavored.

These lovely "geraniums" were photographed in Bridgton, Maine at Craftworks which is a gift and clothing store with out of the ordinary items.

I think I will bake tomorrow. Brownies sound good to me and maybe something with lemon. I will have to go through my recipes. Gram Potter made delicious brownies. The recipe is below.

Gram Potter’s Brownies

2 eggs, well beaten
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup flour
½ cup nuts (walnuts)
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
½ teaspoon salt1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate and add to the butter. Cream in the sugar. Add eggs, flour and salt. Mix in chopped nuts and add vanilla. Grease an 8 x 8 pan and line with wax paper. Bake in 300 degree oven for one hour - check after 50 minutes.

My mother would make these for our Uncle George. He did not like the edges (silly man) so my sister and I would hang around for the trimmings.

Post Options

Monday, August 10, 2009

it's another language!

It's a whole new country out there with its own language. Mr. Linky, technerati, meme, links, feeds and too many more to keep track of. I think I mastered Flickr today and then went to Big Huge Labs to create a mosaic for next Monday. I am going to master linking. I may need a "dummie" book for this which is why I have Amazon Prime!

Before I started blogging I was a quilter. I have always taken pictures particularly in the summer. But I also had the sewing machine up and running and would make 2 or 3 quilt tops. This summer it has not happened. Everywhere I go I have my camera. Everything I see is a shot. Poor Jack.

I posted my first Mosaic Monday this week and was overwhelmed by the response. The blogging I do is for my own personal satisfaction and for sharing with friends and family. By participating in a blogging event, I expanded my audience (a big step for me) and it was very gratifying.

I did not link back to the Little Red House because I didn't know how!

I think I have figured it out now .

Now I need to learn how to link some of my past posts to my current post. I like to visit a blog and then at the end there will be some smaller pictures. Above them it will say "you might also like these". Clicking on a picture takes you to another of this person's blog. This is a good way to explore a blog.

Mosaic Monday

I am going to try a blogging event today. It is Monday so it is Mosaic Monday. I have enjoyed looking at all mosaics and collages that other bloggers have shared. The mosaic includes some of my favorite colors. Posting this will be a test so this entry will be brief. It is going to be another beautiful day and I need to disconnect myself from this computer!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

a little housekeeping.....

It is time for a little housekeeping that the rain has prevented. Don't say anything but we have had a beautiful week. This is the way Maine is supposed to be! My garden is making a bit of a comeback but my heirloom tomatoes are disappearing. I caught a big, noisy crow on a plant. He speared the tomato with his beak and then flew to a rock and smashed it and ate it. I decided that I needed to tie the tomato branches so I had to improvise.

I thought maybe colorful batik might keep them away - we shall see. Of course the card for the camera was in the computer so I couldn't get a picture of the thief!

Jack and I keep going to the antique stores. We buy things. Now we have to find places for everything. How could I have left these water goblets behind? The little frog planter can go in the guest bathroom. It is McCoy. This pottery was produced in the United States during the late 19th and 20th century.

Jack got the Babbacombe Pottery hand decorated fox string holder for his workshop. We both love to buy things for our houses. His last purchase was a tapestry for his dining room. He bought a pair of Gone with the Wind lamps last year. I had a hard time getting this picture because of glare and the windows! We will try to be good this week.

Keeping house (decorating?) and housekeeping should be the same thing. The little touches and taking care of what you have preserves these items for future generations. We need to use them but carefully.

I'm still working with Photoshop. I have 3 books written in the "dummy" style. I wonder if there is anything easier!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

a perfect August day

Yesterday was just perfect! A day of shopping, taking pictures, and a wonderful lunch with good friends is always a good thing. Then a steak on the grill with a very well done potato and a salad completed the day.

I have mentioned Flowerbed Farm before and will probably mention it again but I always find a treat or two there. Yesterday I found a swan planter. It is Italian pottery and will be going to Florida in November. I will photograph her and put the picture in the sidebar. Deb's flowers are beautiful so I took some pictures of those as well.

Deb's shop is an inspiration for tablescaping.

Each time I go to her shop I see more wonderful things I must have. Many bloggers create wonderful tablescapes for Tablescape Thursdays. I'm not sure that I could do that every week but maybe just once. So I pick up little dessert dishes one week and vaseline water goblets another week and I need to make or find a tablecloth for my Sasha Brastoff dishes. So maybe soon I can participate.

And then I saw this Haviland soup tureen. Can you picture this with soup bowls with handles to match. Since I published yesterday I have been thinking about wild mushroom soup!

Beautiful dishes but no room in my closet.

We went to Bray's for lunch and I had their lobster stew. The picture does not do it justice. Each spoonful has chunks of lobster meat and is made to order for the customer. I probably would not make lobster stew but I will make Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup.

Ina Garten is a favorite of mine. I have never made anything from her cookbooks that has not been good or come out looking just like the picture. I will make this next week. I will also probably have lobster stew again next week.

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

5 ounces fresh shitake mushrooms
5 ounces fresh portabello mushrooms
5 ounces fresh cremini (or porcini) mushrooms
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon butter, divided
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 carrot, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups chopped leeks, white and green parts (2 leeks)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Wipe mushrooms with a dry paper towel. Separate the stems. Trim to remove any bad spots. Chop the stems and slice the tops 1/4- inch. If the slices are too thick, cut them into bite-sized pieces. I like a few larger slices. Set aside.

For the stock: heat the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped stems, the carrot, the onions, the sprig of thyme 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Cook over medium-low heat until vegetables are soft (10-15 minutes). Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 ½ cups stock.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining butter and the leeks. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 - 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for another 10 minutes until brown and tender. Add the white wine and stir another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat through but do not boil. Serve hot. This serves 5 - 6.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin