Tag Archive: what is that?


Rice Pudding

My husband loves to watch cooking shows.

And we watch them all.

Because of these shows, I have worked to try new foods and new recipes. Which can be difficult because the family does not like to try new things. I always make sure there is an old favorite along so the new thing isn’t a total disaster.

As some of you know, I have been fighting Type Two Diabetes for the last few years. I am always trying to find ways to make old favorites amenable to the new way of life. The family is not always happy about these changes. I am the only one who like brown rice. And no one was interested in cauliflower/mashed potatoes mixture.

rice-pudding-end-product.jpg

They don’t really like rice pudding, well a few of them. But while watching Milk Street on PBS, I saw a recipe utilizing mango and knew I had to try it.

The Senagalese Mango and coconut rice pudding also includes coconut milk and shredded coconut.

This is suppose to add more flavor while reducing the amount of sugar in the dish. Sometimes it feels as if I am always looking for the holy grail of foods that allows me to have what I like without the damage of carbs.

Now, there is a small part of me that is fiercely anti-creating old favorites when you have turned a new leaf – voluntarily – foodwise. Vegan burgers, vegan chicken nuggets, vegan cheese make no sense to me. I also don’t understand why you want to re-create the taste and texture of a food you are no longer eating for moral reasons.

We had a long discussion over the dinner table about this in which my daughter who should become a lawyer argued that I am doing the same with my mashed caulifower, dark chocolate, and no bread rule.

rice-pudding-ingrediants.jpgNope, I am not doing the same because I am making changes by force and not due to want. Bread and pasta are slowly being eliminated from my diet. I recently had a unwich from Jimmy John’s and liked it. I didn’t miss the bread, almost.

I used to eat more pasta but I have asked my husband to serve those meals on the nights I am at school. I eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. I think about going Keto but the lack of beans really doesn’t satisfy my taste buds. Nor do I want to ask my family to make that huge jump for me.

I am willing to adapt old favorites. So when I printed out this recipe, I was able to decide how to adapt or change based on what was available to me. Coconut milk, right there. Unsweetened coconut. Not so much so I ended up using a sweetened version.

Rice Pudding - toasting coconutBefore I even started the first step, I made sure everything was poured out and ready to go. Knowing that toasting coconut can be tricky, I wanted everything to ready to go.

So when my pan was ready to go. I poured in the coconut and stirred.

Walked away, stirred again.

Tried not to get too anxious. Stirred again.

Took a picture. Stirred some more.

Waited, let more than half of it finally get brown.

This takes place in a minute and a half. Maybe two minutes.

rice-pudding-sauce.jpgSo I pour in the coconut milk, finally. Sugar, vanilla, and salt go into the pot as well.

The recipe says to let it get to a simmer.

Then I am supposed to let it stay on medium heat for five minutes.

So I stir and walk away. I take a nice picture.

Gwen is cutting up the Mango for me and I show her how to score the fruit once the sides are cut up.

I stir a little more and deem it ready for the next step. You want it to reduce a little bit but not too much. Once that is done, you add the rice.

I had a mixture of Basmati and white rice. They were leftovers from a taco meal. The Basmati may have been leftovers from another meal. The point is it needed to be used up. So I put it all in which was just a little more than the two cups required by a quarter cup.

rice-pudding-final-additions-and-simmer.jpgThen I added a cup of water. This is not in the list of ingredients but it was in the instructions. So I put it all in the pot at a nice little simmer.

The directions said to simmer for about 15-20 minutes to get it to a nice semi-thick consistency.

So I stirred and walked away. I put away all of the ingredients. I got bowls and spoons out. I stirred the pot.

I put the mangos on the table. My husband lamented there was no whipped cream. I stirred the pot after rolling my eyes. When there was more rice than liquid and almost but not quite sticking to the bottom, I turned off the burner.

I had decided not to do the camelized honey for the mangos because I wanted less sugar. I am sure it would have taken no time at all. In fact, I could have done it while the pudding was on it’s last simmer. Have two teaspoons of honey in a skillet and at the right moment throw in the fruit of a cut up mango.

But I didn’t.

With a 1/4 cup of reserved liquid of the sauce mixture, we added the mangos to the rice pudding in our bowls.

So good. and there were no leftovers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memory Pillow

We all want keepsakes of our loved ones even when, or especially when, they are gone.

My father died four years ago.

I can’t believe it still and I know it happened.

Sometimes I smell his cologne around the house, sometimes it is pipe tobacco.

But I also wanted something tangible of his to hold. That’s when I saw shirt pillows.

pillow chairYou take a loved one’s shirt and convert it into a pillow. To make it easier to wash the insert or replace it, a zipper is placed at the bottom of the pillow.

I took one of Dad’s favorite shirts, with Mom’s permission of course, to make into a pillow. The patterns I saw called for a 16″ pillow. But Dad was a big guy and we came to realize that an 18″ pillow was going to work much better.

Making the pattern was the easy part. I cut out an 18″ square out of newspaper. Originally I thought I was going to make a 16″ pillow and created that patter piece in the same way. But we quickly realized the pockets would be cut on the ends. Mom didn’t want that so I went two inches bigger.

pillow pattern cut outOnce I placed the pattern on the shirt and pinned it down, it came for the really hard part.

I had to cut the shirt.

In cutting the shirt I had to admit to myself just how real this all is. Dad is not coming back. He is not going to come around the corner quacking at me or the kids. He is not going to say “It’s too damn hot” or “it’s too damn cold.”

The door to the house will not open and he will not walk through. Cutting the shirt seemed more final than when we spread his ashes.

I had to wait until I was back home before I threw out the remains of the shirt. I couldn’t do it at Mom’s house where I made the project. All in all, it took me an hour to get the courage to cut around the pattern, giving it a half inch seam allowance.

pillow front stitch downAs I began to work on the shirt, I followed the good advice of my friend, Steve. It was tempting to simply leave the shirt able to open at the buttons. But puckering was a concern. Steve suggested that I sew down the button over lap, making it look like top stitching.

Another great suggestion was to put in the zipper before I created all of the side seams. That way the zipper is in before trying to make it fit. Once the zipper was in, all I had to do was create the side seams with a traditional 5/8 sewing line.

To be safe I did a zigzag stitch along the edges just to make sure there would be no raveling of material. After that, it was a matter of waiting for the pillow form to come from Amazon. Once it did, all I had to do was fluff the pillow form, bend it in half, and zip up the closure.

pillow finished

If I had to do it again, I would top stitch along the zipper for less gap. I can always go back and do that.

I might have used a 19″ pillow to fill out the corners better and to have a more pop of pillow fluffiness.

Otherwise, this went well. It only took a few hours in real time. I did have to take a while since it was the first time I made this project. Steeling your courage without alcohol takes time.

While I have some of his other shirts in quilted flannel, they are not going to get the shirt treatment. They are too warm to cut up.

Still, it makes for a great memory keepsake, especially when you need a little warmth or hug back.

pillow supplies

 

Supplies

1 Shirt

Matching or coordinating thread

Zipper – I had a 16″ zipper because that is what I planned initially. I would go with 1-2 inches shorter than the form size you plan to use.

Pins

Pattern

Pillow Form – On inch bigger than your pattern for a bigger fit.

Seam ripper – for all necessary unsewing

 

As many of you know, I am working on a battle against weight.

I used to weigh 225 pounds. I have been told that being tall makes that weight look less than it is. But let’s face it, a 48 inch waist is still a 48 inch waist. No amount of height is going to make that waist look any smaller than it really is.

I am also dealing with the beginnings of arthritis which really sucks some days. My energy gets zapped and before I know it, I am taking a two hour nap and not the 20 minute nap I was hoping to do instead. I get those flares of a small temp with no reason for it, especially in the winter time. Fatigue is not my friend and I try to work around it all of the time.

In the last few years, I have taken off a lot of weight and 7 inches around the middle. Those seven inches were hard won as I have a deep and abiding love for food. I love trying new recipes, I love things with fat and sugar. If it is deep fried, well, I am in heaven. But research has told me those things are not good for me so I have learned to cut back.

Soda is once a week, cookies and candy are eaten less often. I try to stick to water and ice tea for drinks while snacking on popcorn a little more often.

But still, I could lose about 10 more pounds. The diet and exercise has been good but I need a little extra push. So I thought I would take a gander at the Paleo diet. Some people call it the Caveman diet.

Paleoista by Nell StephensonI picked up Paleoista  by Nell Stephenson. Look at that cover, she looks hip and happy with legs way too long for her body. But that is beside the point.

Then I began reading the book. I was OK with giving up processed food. I mean, I know how to make sauces and such, I shouldn’t rely on noodles from a bag or sauce from a jar.

Eating more fresh fruit and vegetables actually sound like a good idea to me. That is how I have lost a lot of my weight by incorporating fresh or frozen veggies and fruits in the diet. Eating more protein seemed like a good idea as well.

Then I got to the part that said no grains because people in the paleo era were nomadic, therefore they did not have time to plant and wait for grains to grow. That meant no bread, no pasta, no donuts, no cereal, no cake.

After that I go to the part that said no legumes because that would have taken too much time to grow before the group had to pick up and leave again. So no refried beans, no white kidney beans in many of my soups, no beans in the chili or any number of dishes.

But the worst came when she said no dairy because traveling with a cow or goat would not have happened. Which means no milk, cheese, ice cream, sour cream, cottage cheese, or cream cheese.

All credibility was lost when the author made the statement that these three groups are not really food groups and therefore you are not missing out on anything.

Really?

I have learned the hard way that wheat bread – not white bread- is the way to control my sugars from doing the big surge. I have learned that Barilla’s pasta with semolina is a better choice for me than even Prince (even if Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day).

I have learned that I feel better when beans are a part of my soups. I feel better when I eat them. As for milk, I only drink whole milk so that the fat slows down the uptake of the sugar in the milk. But I rarely drink more than a half a cup on any given day.

I like butter on my freshly cooked corn-on-the-cob, I like cream cheese on my bagels.

But here is what I do not do. I do not eat like a pig. I know my serving sizes and I stick to them. I allow myself days to cheat and eat some forbidden things because to totally take them away would be killer. I would never stay on that diet.

Perhaps the Paleo diet worked for the author of this book. But for me, it would have been a total wash. I refuse to follow any diet that says stop eating entire food groups.

So I guess I will go back to what I was doing with eating more veggies and fruits, drinking water, and getting plenty of exercise. Perhaps I should up that walking distance again. More exercise seems to be the best  answer to any of my weight problems in the long run.

What diet books have you read lately that seemed like a bust after you started reading the book?

 

 

Perhaps this has happened to you.

Your mom gives you some clothes and tells you to use them or give them away or whatever you want.

In the pile are a pair of Bill Blass peach colored jeans. And while they are tight around the waist, they are loose in the legs. I am not sure if this how all Bill Blass clothes fit.

There is a part of me thinking there is no way I am going to wear these pants while another part is thinking this color is really in style and I need a new skirt or two.

So I make plans to convert it from pants to a skirt which will be easier now that I have a new Husquverna-Viking sewing machine. After watching a wiki video, I feel ready to try it but I really need a practice run.

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Denim-Skirt-From-Recycled-Jeans

That is when I discover a pair of jeans that my daughter has stretched beyond repair in the rear seam area. Perfect.

First things first, I cut off the lower 12 inches of pant leg.

Pants - Beginning

Then with my favorite tool, the seam ripper, I open up the inside pant seams and seams leading up to the zipper and back yoke. This is the longest task of the project.

Pants - Unsewn

Next up is pinning the back seam and sewing it down. The trick here is to make a straight seam out of extra fabric. If I had to do this part again, I would have laid the pieces flat and drawn a straight line to sew on.

Pants - Pinned

After getting the front seam done, I cut off the extra fabric and use one of my serge stitches on the outside ends before ironing the seam to one side.

Now I make one final mark for the desired length of the hem. My daughter wants this to be above her knees and I want it below the thighs. We find a good compromise so a quick roll through with my rotary cutter gets the right length.

Pants - Final hem cut

I stitch to a different serger stitch on the hem to prevent future unraveling, turn up the hem and sew it down.

Pants - New Hem

Ba-Bam! The girl has a new skirt and we do not have to throw away her favorite jeans.

Pants - Completed

Now all I need is peach-colored thread.

What are you sewing this summer?

 

 

If you are like me, you are looking at Facebook every day.

And there is a lot to see, especially if you are a cooking/crafting/gardening/decorating sort of person – which I am.

A few months ago I saw a really cool craft that could be used in the garden. It is a decorative piece that can be as personal as you want it to be.

What am I talking about?

My Brand New Sign Post.

Tada!!!!!

Sign - Complete

Now I know what you are thinking.

I want one too. That is Soooo Cute!!! Was it hard to make?

To be honest it really was not that hard to make. First off, I had the 2x4x8 already standing up in the ground. It was meant to hold up an air conditioner but stayed when the air conditioner died.

Sign - Blank Board

The next part was gathering the wood pieces for the name plates. At some point my neighbor was remodeling their house so some slats stayed in my yard. Another neighbor was tearing down wood siding. Some pieces came from the burn pile my husband keeps around.

The next part was even easier. I sanded down those pieces on the side I wanted to paint to make it smooth and accepting of the paint. I ran a damp cloth over each piece to remove dust from the sanding.  Then I made a list of the different places I wanted to put on a sign board.

However, how I did the next part was a part of the learning process. I lettered most of the boards. And that part was fun because I changed font styles for the different places. I used FolkArt Outdoor Acrylic Paint by Plaid for the letters. Another lucky coincidence? My son is a paper boy so I have lots of brown craft paper to use under my painting projects.

Sign - Lettering

Just before making the last three name signs I realized I wanted a little color on them to make the letters stand out more. So I found some peach color paint and used my pounding brush to apply the color. After the paint was dried, I used a fine grade of sand paper to remove some of the paint to make the wood look a little distressed.

Sign - Process

I really liked that effect. When I tried it on some of the pieces I had already painted, the effect did not turn out well. I should have sanded more of the first bit of lettering off. Instead, I soldiered on with a new coat of a pale pink and lettering in the black outside paint. Once it was all dry, I sprayed each board with a clear glaze.

Sign - Complete 2

All that was left to do was to have the husband pound nails into the boards while I held them at jaunty angles with the back of the boards level with the 2×4. The finished product looks great. I am not usually successful with projects like this but this time around, I have a winner.

Have you tried any of the ideas you have found on facebook or pintrest and have had success?

Supplies:

Paint Brushes

Fine Grade Sand Paper

Seven thin wood pieces the shape and size of a street sign

Acrylic Craft Paint in your choice of colors for background

FolkArt Outdoor Acrylic Paint by Plaid for the lettering

Clear Glaze Spray Paint

2×4 in the length of your choice

Nails and Hammer

Husband or willing person to use hammer and nails

 

 

 

So what does a woman do when she is out of work?

In my case, nothing it appears. I have been out of work for nearly three months, which I never expected to be out of work this long, and I have not done a single damn thing beyond look for another job.

Special projects for organizations – not done.

Closets – not cleaned out.

Piles of papers – not organized.

Piles of outgrown children’s clothing on my bedroom chair – still there.

In the last few weeks I have decided to take the bull by the horns and find one spot at  a time to clear out. The first one was the over-flowing bill drawer that the bill payer never makes a point of organizing. Next spot was my crafting area. After that was an area between a bookcase and a couch.

These are all hard jobs, requiring at least an hour of attention and a trash can ready to receive bills from six years ago. That is when one must throw in a necessary but easy job.

Recovering the kitchen table/island.

Cute but in need of replacement

Cute but in need of replacement.

 

While the cloth is bright and attractive in most areas, family life is ripping it at the edges. All of the fuzzy stuff is showing and that is not good. That is when you bring our the tools for a new covering.

 

A new cloth and the staple gun

A new cloth and the staple gun

 

Sometimes, you have to be mean. Sometimes, you have to rip off what used to work in order for something new to take over.

The old cloth gone

The old cloth gone

 

Now I know what you are thinking. “That table top doesn’t look so bad.” Look closely and you will see the peeling veneer, the stains that are not identifiable. This desk came with the house and at first we kept it on the side. But the needs of more counter space and a good work area brought the desk to the middle of the floor. The atrocious top has me searching for oil cloth. But until I find that, I will keep using inexpensive vinyl table cloths I can staple into place.

 

The finished product

The finished product

 

What I do, after making sure the cloth is reasonably centered on the table, is start at one corner, pleat the corners for a smooth edge and staple them in. I go to the opposite corner, tighten up the cloth and repeat the pleats before stapling. I do the same thing with the other corners. Then I move to the sides, tighten the cloth and staple until all sides are completed.

Is this what I want for my dream kitchen? Not really. If I had my way and a wad of cash, my dream would be to have a box top butcher block counter top on the desk and six-inch lifts on each leg. Maybe it would look like one of those dream islands in the magazines.

Other projects would include replacing the cabinets and other counter tops  as well. New working appliances would grace my kitchen. Finally, my laundry center would be moved to the basement.

Until then, I will have to stick with my solution that involves a $4.50 vinyl table-cloth, a staple gun, and 15 minutes of time. And a look that leans more towards the French Country style I am aiming for.

What quick and easy projects are you doing around the house?

 

 

 

When you have an empty glass bowl, you know that it is waiting to be filled with greatness.

Torte - empty bowl

Some desserts demand something more than the plastic bowl, even if it some great new style. The start of this dessert came from Facebook in which someone, somewhere posted a picture of a torte. Or perhaps it should be considered a pudding.

The idea is that there are layers of broken-up cake followed by a pudding mixture. This particular dessert has three layers of brownie and pudding/candy filling.

It made me think about the puddings that Harry Potter loved or how this is a great way to use up cake that does not get eaten fast enough.

The brownies before they are shredded.

The brownies before they are shredded.

I started with a pan of brownies – freshly made. We did not have any leftover cake so I made a pan of brownies. Because the dessert has three layers I divided the pan into thirds.

Sliced candies

Sliced candies

Before I broke up the brownies, I cut  mini Reese’s peanut butter ups in half, two bags worth. There may have been some taste-testing of the ugly ones.  Once they were all sliced, I put the halves to the side.

Then I had the husband mix up two 5.1 packages of pudding, 1 cup of peanut butter and 4 teaspoons of vanilla, then mixed it with the 1 1/2  8 oz. containers of whipped cream before combining it with most of those candy halves.

Torte - filling

So now I start the layering. The brownie layer is incredibly easy. Just crumble one-third of the brownies in the pan and place it in the bottom of the bowl.

 

The first brownie layer

The first brownie layer

 

So next up is getting that next layer on which is the filling. You really want to make sure that brownie layer is covered.

The filling layer in the bowl

The filling layer in the bowl

Looking good. So I repeated the brownie and filling steps two more times. After using every bit and only taking a bite or two of the filling, I brought out the remaining cool whip. I spread it over the top before adding the final bits of candy as a decoration on top.

The final product

The final product

 

And that was it. I made it well before supper, so I covered the top with plastic wrap. When we ate it later, all of us declared this perhaps one of the best desserts ever. It took a day or two to eat it all.  But it was worth it!

View of the layers

View of the layers

 

What new desserts are you trying?

 

Lent and Tuna Salad

Now that it is Lent, one must break out the tuna for Friday.

Tuna Salad Sandwich

Tuna Salad Sandwich

I have nothing against tuna but I really do not like fish all that much. I will eat them in a taco or if they have a hard shell. Can we say shrimp scampi?

On the way somewhere the other day my daughter asked if fish is considered meat, why is it okay to eat on the days you are not supposed to eat meat?

Can you tell we are not Catholic? I don’t think she would have ever questioned that if we were because it would simply be a fact of life. Friday is meatless and that means tuna for lunch.

Tuna Salad - Fennel Seed JarThe problem with tuna is it gives off a lot of gas. It does not always sit well in the tummy.

There are all sorts of ways to make tuna tastier. Some people like chopping up an onion, my husband puts in celery. My favorite is a grilled tuna sandwich with swiss cheese.

But when it comes to the base recipe for tuna salad, I like to use fennel seed. It gives a slightly sweet anise flavor and it decreases the amount of gas made by the tuna.

The basic recipe I follow is one can of tuna, a hard boiled egg diced, one small celery stalk chopped fine, a few shakes of garlic powder, a dollop of mayo, and a handful of fennel seeds that I crush by hand. Some times I put in relish and/or mustard.

Seeds in the hand

Seeds in the hand

I know some people like the onion but it stays with me all day and it not enjoyable. Pickle relish is another ingredient that I could do without. I guess you could put red pepper in it or other ingredients. Personally, I love to have a slice of tomato on my tuna sandwich.

So please share the way you think is the best way to eat tuna, especially if you feel you must during this Lenten season.

Apple Butter – A Taste of Fall

Fall is my favorite season. I love the slightly cooler temps that allow me to be as comfortable as I want to be.

Walking the dog does not mean sweating buckets. Working in the garden does not require early morning hours to avoid heat stroke or the mosquitoes.

Baking is happening back in the kitchen along with regular soup night and cooking that is not planned around the latest heat wave.

The Stuff

But my favorite return in the autumn season is Apple Butter. I guess you can eat it any time of year but this is the time I crave it the most.

And without a doubt, it must be Musselman’s. No one makes Twinkies like Hostess and no one makes Apple Butter like Musselman’s .

In this picture, it is making Crunchy Oat Bread tasty. Sometimes I put it on soft white bread. I also like it on pancakes and my husband puts it on scrapple. If you do not know what scrapple is, well, you must not be from Eastern Pennsylvania. Which is a nice way of me saying check it out on your own.

So when I am eating a biscuit with my soup or bread with my morning eggs, chances are I am wiping a swath of that bread with the slightly cinnamon-tinged apple butter. Perhaps apple butter is nothing more than crushed apples, less chunky than applesauce and much darker in color.

And yet it is the sweetness and smooth texture makes it a tasty treat that most members in the family look forward to eating when I pull that familiar jar out of the shopping bag.

Do you have a favorite food item to eat in the fall season?

As I was scouting around last week, looking at scrumptious blogs, I noted Chicago John’s lovely plum cobbler.

It looked so tasty and I commented that I wanted to make it. Then I made a side note about how my favorite cobbler/crisp recipe is one that puts the oatmeal in the fruit portion and not on top.

I found it on allrecipes.com and I really like it. Maybe it is because I like that lovely tartness of rhubarb.

But I also like how the rhubarb portion is made thicker by the oatmeal.

Ingredients

Now we know it is no longer rhubarb season so I substituted Granny Smith apples instead. And I wanted to add in Craisens. So when the hubby went to the store, that was on his list. And he came home with Blueberry Infused Craisens.

While it tasted good together, it was not what I wanted. I almost thought about doing the Jennifer Aniston riff from The Breakup about “Baby wanting” the right thing but I do not have long beautiful blond hair as she does.

So we moved on.

Apple Mixture

I cut up the two large apples and added a handful of the craisens. I mixed together fruit, sugars, oatmeal and a bit of flour; then I dumped it all in a two-quart dish. The topping was flour, margarine and a little salt. I am not a salt fan and left it off although I did add a few shakes of cinnamon.

With the topping

In the oven it went. Thirty minutes later, after I retrieved Sam from his buddy’s house, I pulled it out of the oven as it bubbled and smelled just like blueberry pie.

The end result was the younger members of the family did not like the blueberry bits. And they made mention once, twice, maybe more, that we should have had ice cream.

On that, I think we are in agreement.

Out of the oven