Monday, August 31, 2015

annual fish fry

My parents had their annual Fish Fry yesterday. They have been doing it at least sixteen years...maybe seventeen or eighteen!

This time it fell on my mothers birthday!  Happy Birthday to you!!!

We always used to eat in the back yard, but they had a big shade tree removed, so now we eat in the garage..much cooler down there!

The fryer is just outside the garage doors so the fish is hot from the fryer!

Look at this nice, hush puppies, potato salad, corn cobettes, broccoli salad, coleslaw, sausage baked beans, and deviled eggs...also sliced garden tomatoes and potato chips.

Then it's dessert time!
  Blueberry cheesecake, frosted fudge brownies and apple crumb pie.  It's hard to make a decision so we have to stay there long enough to eat another desert later!

We don't have a huge family...only twelve of us there...but we have interesting conversations about many different subjects...gardening, travel, automobiles, tv shows, pets, cooking and canning, wine making, quilting, hiking, biking, airplanes, camping....a variety of interests and hobbies.
A nice family gathering! 


Saturday, August 29, 2015

baby turkeys are growing

Last month I showed some photos of a wild turkey family that passes through the back yard fairly regularly.
At that time there were lots of baby least sixteen.

There aren't as many now, but the ones that remain are really growing fast!

I couldn't get a good count on them, some would disappear into the woods while others were still coming from behind  the shed.

Now the mama is walking across the driveway. 

Hey, now they are out front!

"Oh no...looks like they've got us surrounded, Paw!"

"And they're closing in on us, Maw!"

Then they moseyed on...

Crow and Bunny watched them disappear into the sunset.

Actually, I think crow was trying to figure out if Bunny was selfishly eating something good over there.
It was just sort of funny to see them so close together.

I really like living here -  where I see so many birds and wild animals.

Friday, August 28, 2015

chicken and wild rice soup


No - that's not the recipe- but it is the inspiration.  It's one of Campbell's best soups. It's my husband's favorite.  

This is my second try at duplicating it.  The first time I was out of celery, which adds a lot of flavor. 
This time, I think it tastes very close to Campbell's, but fresher and homemade.

Darla's Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
4 stalks celery,diced
1 onion,diced
1 1/2 cup diced carrots
1 to 2 cups cooked chicken, diced
chicken broth (about a quart)
1 cup white rice (long grain, jasmine, or basmati)
1 small box wild rice ( I believe this was a 3 or 4 oz. package)
bay leaf

The wild rice takes a long time to cook, so I began cooking it separately, using the package directions, before I started dicing the veggies.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in your soup pot and saute diced veggies until tender. 
Add diced chicken, chicken broth,and spices.  Go easy on the salt for can always add more later.

Bring to a boil and stir in uncooked white rice. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until rice is tender.

Add cooked wild rice, and more broth if needed. (The white rice will have absorbed a lot of broth)

Simmer another 10 minutes or so.  Taste and add salt if necessary.  Maybe a couple of splashes of hot sauce.  

My broth was a bit fatty as you can see by the shine.  I used broth that I had in the freezer from cooking a turkey breast.  Ordinarily, I would have used chicken soup base paste.

My husband really liked it. It's a filling soup - but not too heavy.  

This makes a big batch but should be okay to freeze some for later.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

textiles booth at the fair

It's State Fair time!   Every year, my quilting group, the Mt Washington Quilting Bees, volunteers to spend a day in the textiles area, demonstrating quilting and other needlework to interested fair goers.

We get started soon after the gates open so there are still some closer parking spaces available. The food booths are getting ready for business and it's hard to walk past them with all those good smells coming from within.

Here is my partial selfie with "Freddy Farm Bureau".  There is a live person somewhere, who does his voice. They can see and hear whoever is standing in front of Freddy.    You feel sort of weird talking to him...but it seems rude not to.

Here is where we the textiles demonstration area 

My friend, Shirley was doing something a little different. She was showing how she makes winter caps on a circular loom.  She always had a crowd around her asking questions. 

More of the group here...showing English paper piecing and handing out little kits.
We were all so busy talking to visitors and sewing...the time passed really fast.

There were also a couple of "hookers" at the tables with us.   Well...Rug Hookers  - their craft is called rug hooking!  That's what the lady in pink on the left, with a wooden frame in front of her, is doing.

When our shift was over I took a quick look through the rows and rows of quilts on display.
 So much talent and skill... I don't see how they can pick the winners.

These miniature ones are so cute!

Below is what I was working on in the textiles booth.  Hand sewing these "Tumbling Blocks".  

When I got home I sewed up a few more while sitting outside on the back porch...enjoying the perfect weather! 

These aren't pressed or sewn to together in rows yet....just laid out to see that dimensional effect.   This will be a good take-a-long project to work on over time.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

more sewing

Generally, on Mt Washington Quilting Bees' meeting days, one of the members will hold a short class to teach others a pattern or sewing or quilting technique.

I like to get in on these classes, it's fun...and even if it's something I already know how to do, I am still likely to learn something...either from the teacher or some of the other quilters.

My friend, Carol (who is also our new president), was teaching this class called Crazy Kaleidoscope.

You take nine squares of different fabrics and stack them up, Then you make a cut through the whole stack, shuffle the sections, and sew them to a different fabric. Repeat a few times until all the blocks are totally mixed.

You can stack up another nine squares and do it all over if you want to make a larger quilt.  I just stopped with nine...and put them together with sashing and borders to make this table topper sized quilt.
 It's roughly 30 "square.

This is just a top so far...I still need to quilt it.   I used some Christmas fabrics so I will have a colorful little table topper to add to my decorations this year.

This technique is pretty much the same as the pattern I used when I made this quilt in the picture below, for my older son back in 2013.

That quilt pattern had a specific shape to follow when cutting through  the squares, whereas the one from the class was just "cut where you wish".  Quick and would be a good way to make a fast baby quilt, too.

Monday, August 24, 2015

weekend stuff

Saturday, I noticed a flurry of activity outside. The birds and squirrels all scattered and ran for cover.
Then, these two big old Black Vultures landed in the yard!

Directly, one of them waddled over to the bird bath and hopped up and got a drink.

Not exactly the pretty little song birds I was trying to attract with the birdbath!   The second vulture came over to the bath but didn't seem to understand how to hop up there.  He pecked around on the bottom of it and on the ground around it.  I figured it was a mother and child duo.

Notice below, some birds came back to the feeder. The vultures are not a threat to them but I guess it's the smaller bird's instinct to head for cover when a large bird comes swooping down out of  the sky.

Turkey Vultures are the ones with a red face and head. These Black Vultures have gray skin on their face and head.

And you know what?  

They taste just like chicken!

Whoa!  Just kidding of course!  I had to change the subject to Sunday dinner some way.

I never fry chicken anymore, myself.  I picked up some at W-mart.  I thought that's where the fried chicken I ate last week at the extension office was from...and it was so good.  But now I don't think so. This is drier with a hard crunchy crust.  Or did they just overcook it this time?  But it sure beats the greasy mess that frying chicken at home creates.

I did make the side dishes: mashed skin-on red potatoes, white gravy, biscuits, cole slaw, scalloped tomatoes, and green beans cooked with onions and ham.

I tried a new cheesecake recipe for dessert. It's called "Perfect Cheesecake Everytime".  It did come out good...I would make it again.  Forgot to get a photo, though.
I made a caramel sauce to drizzle over it too...but I goofed up and burned it a I just picked up a bottle of caramel ice cream topping when I went to pick up the chicken.  It did the trick!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Napa cabbage salad

Usually Napa cabbage is priced pretty high compared to other cabbage and leafy green vegetables.
It must be in season right now,  it was considerably cheaper on a recent grocery run.

So I bought a head to make this...

Napa Cabbage Salad
1/4 cup butter
3 oz. ramen noodles (chicken)
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 large head Napa cabbage, shredded
1/2 onion, diced fine

This is the reason for making this start by melting butter!

Melt butter in a skillet. Add broken ramen noodles, sesame seeds and slivered almonds. Stir over medium heat until mixture is golden brown.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Whisk together olive oil, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and ramen noodle flavor packet mix.
Stir until sugar is dissolved.

This salad can get soggy fairly quickly so assemble it right before serving.

Toss together Napa cabbage, diced onions and buttery ramen mixture. Pour the dressing over and toss to coat.

I'm not sure what others do, but I cut a lot of the spine out of the Napa cabbage leaves...especially the outer ones. The inner ones are more tender.

Friday, August 21, 2015

around the yard

One morning I saw this small hawk land on the back porch.  I snapped a couple of photos through the door glass

It looks like he is inspecting that bag of mulch. Some little critter must be hiding underneath. 
Now he sees me moving my camera inside.  That's why they say, "eyes like a hawk"!

Those flowers you see right off the porch are St. Johns Wort.  I planted those last year and I like them. They have yellow flowers that last a long time then gradually turn darker and berry-like.
I think I should have pinched the stems back in the spring, so they would develop more stalks and not look so leggy. Hopefully, I will remember to do this next spring!  

This is the flower bed I overhauled this year. It still has some bare spots.  Some little sharp toothed bunny ate my newly purchased Clethra to the ground.  I'll have to find something to replace it next year.

This Joe Pye Weed was also new this year. I guess bunnies don't like the taste of them!  Butterflies are attracted, though.

And, a pretty morning sky!   Red sky at morning, sailors take warning!

Summer is slipping away from us...I am noticing how much later the sun comes up.

I heard this recently...the number of foggy mornings in August will be the number of snows we have in the coming winter.  There have been four so far.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

what I am sewing

I have finally gotten started on a quilt that I bought fabric for back in May 2013.

I've been putting it off...mostly because of the instructions.  The first step tells you to cut all your fabric pieces for  the whole quilt.   This seemed like a scary idea to me.  This fabric was a little more expensive than I usually buy and I didn't want to get goofed up and waste it by making bad cuts.

So I had to figure out the cuts I needed to make one block for a test.  Everything came out fine after some squinting and forehead wrinkling.
It's a BIG block, almost 22"square!

Can you see how it's designed to look three dimensional?  It's more evident from a distance. Can you see it in the photo below?

The name of the pattern is Labyrinth Walk.  One of my quilt group friends had made this pattern and brought it for show and tell. I liked it because it is a masculine looking quilt, and modern looking. 
 My friend told me what magazine the pattern came from and offered to lend me hers, but I went ahead and ordered a back issue for myself.  It's a good thing I did...since I've taken so long to get started on it.

Here is a page to show the finished quilt. Mine will be rectangular instead of square - I am adding an extra row for more length.

I've blurred out some measurements on the page (copyrighted) , but you can see it is least this first block was for me. Challenging!

There are two different blocks that make up the pattern, so now I need to figure out what to cut to make a test block for the other one.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

more birthdays

We actually helped celebrate more birthdays this past  weekend.  Three of Lonnie's great grandchildren have August birthdays, as well as a grandson and another grandson's wife. Whew!

They had a cookout to celebrate all  the birthdays at once. Here is the kids table...

Oops, one was missing! The two on the left are both having birthdays. All of these kids are Lonnie's great grandchildren. The third birthday boy didn't get in the photo...he was too busy to eat!

The kids spent the day jumping on a trampoline they had there, running up and down a dirt mound that covers a storm cellar, and racing in and out of the house.
Presents were opened and no one had a meltdown because they weren't the one receiving gifts! Good kids!

Here is Lonnie with his oldest great grandson, who is nearly as tall as Great Grandpa!

I got a little surprise of an early birthday gift, too!  These hand woven pot holders that the girls made.
Now isn't that sweet!

Yellow is my favorite color.  They are too pretty to use as potholders, I might use them as coasters instead.

Monday, August 17, 2015

birthday boy

We celebrated my older son's birthday this weekend.

Here he is, just opening a card from Lonnie, who always writes a lot of good and funny things in cards.
Plus there was some cash in there! Always a welcome gift.
We also gave Chopper a book and an electronic thingy that has to do with recording music (he plays a bass).

I always ask the birthday person to pick out what they want for their birthday meal.  Some years he asks for cheese subs (I think just to annoy his brother, who doesn't really like them - it's sort of a joke now).
This year he asked for beef Fajitas with all the fixings.  I hadn't made them for a long time but they came out pretty good.  

For the birthday cake he asked for chocolate cake with white icing.

I've only ever made a few cakes from scratch, but since cake mixes seem to be getting smaller and of lower quality, I decided to make a chocolate cake recipe from  Click HERE  to see the recipe if you are interested.

It made a huge cake. The instructions were, to bake in three round cake pans, but I baked it in two 9"square pans instead.   There was a layer of cream cheese frosting in the middle and sweetened whipped cream on the outside.

It was a good cake recipe. Chocolatey and not overly sweet. We had a tub of Turkey Hill gelato to go with it.

Happy Birthday, Chopper!!