Julia Child and her deconstructed turkey.......

Some years back I saw a rerun of a Julia Child's television show where she demonstrated her "deconstructed turkey" and I thought it was absolute genius....  I have not cooked a whole turkey in the oven since.... You can still google it and see it.

We have turkey often as it is cheap and so versatile  but it is time consuming and messy to cook the whole turkey ( and messing up my oven and kitchen) and then cooking the carcass separately.  The way I do it is not only easy, it is all done at the same time with no messy kitchen and oven.

In fact I took Julia's deconstructed turkey one step further and adapted it to my slow cooker.... A breast, 2 thighs and legs fit perfectly in my largest slow cooker. I add onion and herbs and beer.... Yes beer...actually stout beer. I had watched a turkey roasted on a open spit on a TV show and it was basted with beer mixed with butter and herbs. I have been using beer ever since.  There are numerous similar recipes on the internet.

The back, wings etc. I put in another slow cooker....the "parts" cooker.  Usually I use this  meat bits and broth for soup but I have a good supply of turkey soup still from Thanksgiving.  The meat and broth from this I will pack in smaller amounts and use in turkey salad, turkey crepes, and in place of chicken in my favorite Chinese chicken dumplings.

I made the corn bread stuffing yesterday and it is in a casserole in the frig.  About an hour before dinner I will baste it with broth from the "parts" slow cooker and bake it and then  use the rest of the broth to make the gravy.... Then I will use up most of the turkey left to make freezer dinners for January...  I love frozen turkey dinners with all the trimmings because (believe it or not!!) there are days I don't feel like cooking...


Unchicken-like behavior

I'm sure there is recorded somewhere proper chicken etiquette but one of my hens  has absolutely no respect for tradition.   In 30+ years I have had chickens they have always been  predictable in their habits.  By instinct they sleep on the roost, lay eggs in nesting boxes, and scurry about for food...

But my Maxine has marched to her own drummer since the day she came.  From the first she talked nonstop and wanted to sit on my lap... which was all OK... but she also refused to roost with the other chickens and eventually came to laying her eggs wherever she pleased.  It's bad enough she does this but now that I am down to two hens the other hen Millie has taken to doing whatever Maxine is doing... 

They have been in molt for about a month and it is time to start laying again and once again I'm going to try to get Maxine  laying in the nice clean nesting boxes ... One website that offers advice suggests putting barriers where you do not want a chicken putting her eggs and I'm going to try that.

I've given up on trying to get her to sleep on the roost where it is cleaner and warmer and will settle for laying her eggs in the nesting boxes...As stimulation  I am fluffing and adding fresh bedding material  each day.. They are always curious when I do anything to the boxes and immediately jump up and check it out.  I bury the faux egg (golf ball) and they immediately have to settle and shift it about to their liking.... My hope that in the midst of all this shifting and settling Maxine will lay her egg  there like a proper chicken.

Another talent Maxine has is she is a leaper... from a standing position she can leap straight up about two feet.  When I am holding a bowl of treats she is leaping up and down repeatedly  to see what is in the bowl. She acts like she should have springs instead of legs... I will give Maxine this though.  She does keep my life as a "chicken mama" challenging.


Gift Certificate and my "Tucker"

When I bought my iron bed at a salvage yard years ago it was in terrible shape and I had no intention for using it as a bed.  I mounted the head end on these posts to use as a trellis for a particularly aggressive rose.  I used the foot end as a gate in another part of the garden..  Everyone loved them.  But by the time the garden was closed to the public, the rose had totally engulfed the head end of the bed so I decided to rescue both ends and use it as my bed.   They are still battered, bent and rusty but I love them.

When we travel what I get homesick most for is my funky old bed.. During the summer I love to use all white vintage coverlets and in the winter I use quilts which I change often.  This has become my retreat....  When it comes to sleep habits DH and I are about as incompatible as possible.. so we not only have separate beds but separate bedrooms.. I need 5 pillows and lots of quilts...he wants a small thin pillow and an electric blanket....   I love to read in bed and listen to a soothing music as I fall asleep... He likes it quiet AND dark.. I've always gone to bed early and risen early and prone to wandering in the night. He goes to bed late , and if his sleep is disturbed can't go back to sleep and wakes up a grump!

And the mattress is another whole area of difference .. He likes his extra firm and I like mine pillow soft.  And a few years back I bought an electric mattress pad which I loved as I had the heat beneath me and PILES of quilts on top.  It died this fall..... 8 days after the warranty expired.  I wasn't going to get another one but I received a Amazon gift card and decided I deserve  a toasty warm bed in January.  It will be here next week.

My bedroom gets very little heat and after the electric mattress pad died I could never get all my parts tucked in snugly.  So on nights I go to bed before DH he  comes and tucks me in... After I get all my pillows arranged he does the sheet, a wool blanket, three layers of quilts and a knitted cover. I love this "tucking in" and I think how wonderful it must be for a child. And for some reason it always makes think of my poor Dad who spent several of his last years in a nursing home.  I used to go and feed him as he had Parkinson's but how I wish I could have been there to tuck him in also.  It is such a loving gesture.


Holiday blues

For years and years I always get depressed during the holidays.  At first I thought it was because the kids were grown and the fun part was gone from Christmas but over time I realized it was the darkness and it had nothing to do with the holidays....  It always sneaks up on me and I'm depressed before I realize it.. Then one day I start weeping for absolutely no reason and think "Oh this again". I have found ways to help deal with it...

First I sleep... If I get up and don't want to face the day I don't.  I crawl back into my wonderful bed, pull my covers up and sleep for hours and hours. I will wake up and fix dinner and go back to bed and sleep all night...a mini hibernation.  If I can sleep like that I figure my body is sending me a message.  It sort of resets my mental state and I do feel better when I finally get up the next day.  I missed a day but I'm better inside.

Second I think green... I buy Amaryllis... lots of them and watch them grow.  This year I started them late and it will be well into January before they bloom.  Also thinking green I will crawl into bed with a notebook and take mental strolls through my garden and decide all the changes I want to make... move lily-of-the -valley to the back of the house, make a special bed for growing parsnips, move the tractor rose somewhere I can see it, etc.,etc., etc. I do this several times through the winter..  By spring of course I have mislaid the lists... but I do remember some of it..

On bad days I used to stay in my nightgown and stitch all day but that recourse is gone. So the last cure all is the kitchen... I put on an apron and cook for hours.. I take my time picking an apron that is coordinated with my outfit for the day.. Having the right apron makes for better cooking----everyone knows that. And having a new apron is even better... I watch the apron rack every thrift store I visit.  I think the cooking aromas are mood elevating but it is also the light.  My kitchen is the lightest room in the house as I took the covers off all the light fixtures, added the highest watts I could,  and I have additional lamps everywhere...

One year I asked my doctor for an antidepressant and she said "NO WAY!" and we had a long talk instead.  She's the greatest..

And magically once winter solstice passes I am cured... I embrace that extra minute or two of light each day.  I can stand on the porch and hear the daffodils swelling under the snow.  I made it another year.

Last night we had our traditional Christmas Eve dinner at table 45 in our favorite restaurant. I find it amazing after 43 years we can spend an entire evening chatting away and have a great time. Notice the hair is still there.....

Merry Christmas everyone......


Never say die in the kitchen!!

When I am trying to perfect a recipe I just keep doing it again and again... tweaking the ingredients, temperatures etc. until I get it right... Well occasionally I do give up but not this time...

This is my husband's official 2018 Christmas Stollen and I couldn't be happier... just like his grandmother used to bake for him.  This it absolutely... no more tweaking....have this one nailed!!!!

Last month's attempt was an improvement over several attempts before before but it rose unevenly in the stolen mold and was almost burned on the bottom before the interior was done.  And the candied fruit was pretty much concentrated in the middle.

So yesterday I did more tweaking.. I was more careful about the proofing temperature and more careful about shaping the dough.  Both worked well..  Then I set the oven temperature at 400 degrees and immediately when I put the stollen in I lowered it to 330 degrees.  So it had an initial blast of heat for the rise and then a long bake to prevent overbrowning the bottom.

Then I found a clever solution on the internet for solving the fruit distribution problem.  Ordinarily recipes tell you to roll out the dough and spread the candied fruit   and roll it up...  But when doing this the fruit shifts.  I found a video where you roll the dough out about 1" thick and use your finger to make deep dimples or indentations in the dough.  Then spread the fruit out and as you roll it out the fruit slips snugly in the dimples and ends up throughout the roll.  Why didn't I think of that?

The other day DH came home with the zipper on his jacket sprung at the bottom... I figured by the time I separated it I would need to replace the zipper....but I googled the problem and lo and behold one person suggested liberally applying dish soap to the teeth on the zipper and giving a good tug... worked like a charm and the zipper teeth seem unharmed... Google saves my day often .

Another tech miracle this morning...  Also my DIL called me from a cruise ship in South America this morning on the new What's App she put on my phone.  It was a video call so I could see her live and it was FREE... absolutely amazing.  Of course she has to send me an email when she is going to call as my phone is usually either dead, mislaid or not turned on... 


Where oh Where Again.... and new projects.

Well " the lost is all found" didn't last long and I am looking for my special tweezers I use to pick up the tiny button backs...  They have a curved tip and I will have to get another one as it is one of those  necessary tools.... not expensive but necessary...

And I asked for button image ideas and received several possibilities..  One is Raggedy Ann and Andy..  They were copyrighted eons  ago and are in public domain now supposedly but it is kinda murky waters I think, but since I love them I will add my version to the mix...

Also got a suggestion for a baby panda and   I am already tossing that idea around. Another suggestion was a dragonfly and I have tried that a couple times and it is a difficult image for a one inch button.

In the mean time I was going ahead with a raven and a few other birds that are star performers in my garden... When I start any bird the very first thing I do is hit the internet for a little research.  Besides colors, each bird has an eye,  a bill, and feather patterns  all of which are species specific and so I make sure I have all this information.

I was also interested how the black on black was handled by others and for this design I was especially interested in a raven's feet.  The last time I bought paint I got a good selection of greys with this project in mind.

I also made a list of birds that not in my area that I want to try...


Aunt Margaret's Sour Cream Fruit Tart

Next to Gma Krueger's Sour Cream Rolls recipe which are a lot of work, the most used family recipe is Aunt Margaret's Sour Cream Tart... It is so easy that it is the dessert I go to in a panic because it is so versatile.  I like tarts because they take less fruit, are less work and feed more people...

This week beautiful pears were only 75 cents a lb. and I immediately thought of a pear tart.  It took 4 large pears for this tart.  Although I always use fresh fruit, it could be also made with canned peaches, canned plums, etc.
Custard Filling:
Mix 1 c. sugar and 3 T. flour
Mix 2 eggs and 1 c. sour cream
Combine both mixes
Add 1 t. vanilla and spices as desired.  I use sometimes ginger, cinnamon, cardamom or 5 spice.... any one or any combination...about a teaspoon.  It is next to impossible to mess up this recipe...

 Pour sour cream/sugar mix in uncooked pie shell, add fresh fruit (pears, apples, plums, etc.) I like to arrange the fruit but Aunt Margaret just chopped hers up and it tasted just as good. and top with a few nuts or crumb topping.   Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Here is the recipe ready for the oven last summer  using  fresh apples... I have raisins soaked in apple brandy in the middle.  Not only is this recipe easy, it is beautiful and feeds about eight easily as this is a 12" tart pan.

Here is the recipe coming out of the oven last fall that was made with fresh plums from our tree and topped with a crumb topping with almonds..

I noticed this product at the grocery store Saturday and thought I would give it a try.  I like ginger and even though I keep fresh ginger in the freezer I always forget about using it.  I like ginger with pears so added a bit to the custard mix for the tart.  They have a web site with lots of recipes using it so I will give them a try as well...



What next in buttons?????

 These are the buttons that went on Etsy yesterday and I have made a lot of progress since I started trying to get buttons back on track.  I had little trays of buttons all over in various stages of completion and I am just about done with these.  Some were unfinished, others needed fixing somehow, some needed to be just sealed, scanned or posted on Etsy. By the end of the week all that needed to be done should be up.  It has been a big job and glad it is done. 

  In fact I'm at a point that I'm actually looking for ideas to paint that I haven't done before.  I have started some loons as well as both sunflowers and poppies (neither of which I have ever done)  A good many of my ideas come from requests or special orders.  If you have an idea I might be able to paint ...let me know and it might get you a button if I paint it.
If it looks like I'm doing a happy dance I am... At this moment in time I AM LOOKING FOR ABSOLUTELY NOTHING THAT IS LOST.  It feels so good as I can't remember when I haven't been looking for something or multiply somethings.  Now that I can ease back on the buttons I went looking for the spider bag parts and much to my surprise found them quickly so that project is back in the frame of things.
As I have often mentioned I have family in Alaska and some in Anchorage.  Everyone is OK after the big quake  and my granddaughter Leigha, who was just here in Sept for a visit, is right out there volunteering wherever she is needed.  She has a heart bigger than the whole state of Alaska... love her dearly.


Old dog with her new trick

I'm still hanging in there with my "no cut  the hair" vow and looking pretty shaggy at this stage... but my lovely DIL was here a few days before Thanksgiving and bought me some hair curlers at the dollar store.  I have never owned a hair curler or used one and she gave me instructions.  It turned out great when she was here but the next time when I did it myself it was pretty wonky.  Tried again yesterday and it wasn't quite as awkward...  Had to send her pics this morning.

She sent back more instructions. "When you're putting in the ones on the side, make sure that they’re going towards the nape and not down and perhaps more curlers on the top. Pull the hair forward as you curl it around the curler and then back."  DH is fairly silent on the subject now as my response to any comment is "You  married me with long hair and you will bury me with long hair."

I missed Thanksgiving altogether.   After the 3 1/2 drive from Redmond to Olympia in horrendous traffic, I no sooner got to my niece's house on Thurs and I had a massive headache and nausea.  I missed the entire party and spent the whole day in her bed.  In the evening they laid me out on the back seat and drove the 2 hours back to Redmond and got me into the hotel.  In the morning it was in the backseat again and the long drive to Spokane and then I was in bed for 2 days.  Have no idea what it was and it left me wobbly for several days... On the mend now.  I had really wanted to try the Sour Cream Lemon pie...will have to bake another.  Not my week altogether...still finding spots of cocoa I missed in the clean up.


You MUST have this lamp.....

You MUST have this lamp....even if you can see.  I have raved about it multiple times on  blog.....  I first bought it to use on my foldable craft table I made from an old walker.  I move that little stitching table all over the house and right up to the windows with the best light and best view and when weather permits I move it outside. 

When we travel the little flexible gooseneck rolls right up and it along with my chatelaine, stitching, extention cord, and needle book ALL fit in my sewing tote.  I love love love it. You  don't need a table for it as it easily attaches to the back of a chair, door, or most any things and the light is fabulous.

It has becomes a "traveler" even at home as I move it to wherever I need extra light... cleaning and sorting the pantry, by the old printer or in a closet.  I even take to other people's home when I'm playing cards and can attach it to my chair or to the table.

And this morning I was trying to clean up the inventory pockets for my painted buttons. Buttons had expired on the internet and they were still in pockets and people had bought buttons from pockets and they were still on the internet and not in the pockets.  There are 100 pockets and each pocket holds 6-8 buttons and even by the window with an extra floor lamp I was having trouble. Even though most of the pockets are empty now it was a mess.   I dashed and got my wonder lamp and attached it to a stool.  I could raise and lower and adjust the light as I worked from row to row.  In no time I was done and thought why am I always stealing this light from my stitching table all the time  and went to Amazon and ordered two more for me for Christmas.
                without wonder light                                             with wonder light
Put it on your want list as it would be a affordable gift for anyone who loves you..  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019R1BN3U/ref=od_aui_detailpages00?ie=UTF8&psc=1  At $25 it is the best light bargain you will ever find.


Thanksgiving pies and cocoa!!!

 Tomorrow we are headed to the Washington coast for a family Thanksgiving and will drive back on Saturday.  It is about a 300 mile trip both ways and we have to go over Snoqualmie pass in the Cascades.  This year it looks like we are lucky and have nice weather both ways.. Many time when we plan a trip in the winter the pass is closed.  So right off I'm thankful for good weather and good roads.

Yesterday I tried to make pies to take to the coast for Thanksgiving and when I went into the pantry to get salt a container of Hershey cocoa fell and the lid flew off  as it fell.  The pantry was covered with cocoa, I was covered with cocoa and when I went to get the broom a cloud of cocoa followed me..  It even went into my shoes.... what a mess.  I had to put all my clothes in the wash, mop the kitchen and wash down all the shelves and their contents.   It was everywhere.  Not one of my better days.. Pumpkin pie got too brown, the apple pie crust was too thick, the  shell for the lemon pie shrunk even with weights. Maybe no one will notice.....  Happy Thanksgiving to everyone..


This and that and banana bread update!!!

It snowed yesterday...enough that it will be here a few days anyway.  We had a long gorgeous fall with beautiful sunsets day after day.  We had a long enough fall that I am actually ready for winter.  I love the change of seasons. and would hate to live where there weren't any... A change of season....any season ...gives me a boost of spirit and energy.

We had dinner guests last weekend and I was actually tired of using fall colors for the table and chose the crispy green and white.
DH had left for the store and I was thinking I should have had him pick up a few mums because the garden was pretty dead.  But to my surprise I was able to make a great centerpiece.  I used the large gold leaves from a peony I missed cutting back along with the glossy green leaves of the mahonia (Oregon grape) and for the white touch lots of fluffy seed heads from the autumn clematis..

Found a recipe for equal parts mashed roasted yams and cooked quinoa and added crumbled bacon and caramelized onions..  It was so delicious that I am going to fix it with the turkey this year.  A real keeper.

And speaking of recipes I will add an update on banana bread.  A while back I tested about a dozen banana bread recipes and this winner topped all...  It is so good I would never even think of tweaking it but it called for 1 cup of butter and I only had 1/2 cup so I substituted 1/2 cup shortening and I think it was even better.

Another hint:  This recipe calls for 8 bananas and I usually have that many in the freezer as I pop them in them when they start to get overripe.  It is this many bananas that put this recipe over the top in flavor...  But when I thaw out frozen bananas there is a lot of extra liquid so now I put them in a strainer for a couple hours and they work much better.

Haven't posted for a while as I've had my computers disconnected trying to backup and move files and get both computers working with only one printer....the newest one.  I was able to do all the backing up but the oldest computer just wouldn't allow the new printer's drivers to be installed.  After the second blue screen of death I decided to leave well enough alone and hang it there with both printers.  Eventually I won't be able to get ink cartridges any more for the old one..  I hate to let go of my old programs and learn new ones.... the old Pagemaker and Image Composer are like old comfortable friends of many years......and it was a shame they were both discontinued.  Haven't touched a needle for about 10 days... but I did paint some buttons... will show them soon.


Not a "get-by" gal

I have a couple more small spider pins that will be on the bag some where...not sure where just yet.  These are about 1 1/4" ... small enough to tuck anywhere.
The one on the left is beautifully crafted piece of jewelry.  Not even sure where I got them as they have been in the jewelry chest forever.

The buckle is the star of the front of the bag but this magnificent large jeweled spider brooch is the star  of the back.
You might notice it is  missing one leg.  It was that way when I bought it from a street vendor in London.  I can artfully use a leaf or flower to hide that shortcoming.

You will also notice I had planned for three cats on the back... Well actually I had thought I could "get-by" with a plain velvet back but the more I thought about it the more I wanted a magnificent back....  But now that the time is approaching I began thinking maybe I could "get-by" with just one cat on the back.

But the more I thought about it and the fact that I had three
already transferred and ready to stitch, I finally decided that I am not a "get by" kinda gal and three cats it will be.

Today I had some friends for lunch and bridge and lots of laughs.  I served cream of carrot soup... actually lots of carrots plus sweet potato, squash and red peppers also with some allspice and cardamom as well.  It was served with an fennel and apple salad and  a sour dough roll from some of GD's Alaskan starter.  People often comment that it is so far to come out to the farm but if you feed them the farm is not so far after all... and I'm glad as the company does me a world of good.


End of this side in sight!!

 The end of this side  is in sight now.  All the blues and lavenders are on.  I am really happy with the final colors.  It never looks quite true on a monitor but they are muted as I wanted.  It is ready for the white accents and beads and buttons..

But before that can happen it will have a good long stretch and blocking on a cork board.  I urge stitchers not to skip this step.  It makes such a difference in the final piece.

We have had one of the most spectacular falls that I can ever remember.  The weather was warm right until just this week and the colors have been breathtaking.  We deserved it because we were robbed of the best part of the summer by wild fires smoke.  It was so bad that most outdoor activity

was cancelled.

It's the litttle joys!!

I love the little joys that just brighten my day...  and one that does it every day with a splash of color is "Design Seeds" blog.  If you subscribe every day you receive a color palette in your blog reader list.  No sales pitch, no hard sell...just inspirational joyous color..

It is a reminder just how exciting and dramatic just subtle changes in color can be...

 These are three recent ones... The bluish purple grapes were especially timely as I've been using those colors on my spider bag.
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