29 February 2012

Dirty Rice

Don't be afraid of the name--there's no kicking rice across the floor to give it flavor.  This recipe was a childhood favorite and as a mother, I'm enjoying how easy it is to put together.  Plus, it cooks within the time it takes me to get rest of the meal ready.


1 cup rice, uncooked
1 (10.5 oz) can onion or French onion soup
1 (10.5 oz) can beef consomme (No, it's not the same thing as beef stock--look for it by the canned soup)
1 (4 oz) can chopped mushrooms

Dump rice in the bottom of the oven safe pot.  Layer on soup, consomme and onions.  Do not mix.  Place in oven at 350F for 45min to an hour, or until all the liquid is absorbed.


28 February 2012

Keeping Warm

Last winter, we decided to take advantage of the tax rebate for home insulation.  The only insulation we'd discovered was old (let me stress old) cellulose insulation heaped behind the lathe and plaster.  It'd been there long enough that it had settled several feet below the fill line.  Yikes!  The best part by far was the attic.  It had mounds of cellulose, topped with hundreds of other pieces of garbage: think stacks of old newspapers, clothing, books, wooden boxes, dressers, and on and on.  My mom found a corset up there once.  Who really in their right mind would honestly think a corset would keep in much heat?  I suppose our society has lost that drive to use every last scrap until it's useless.
Can't read the date?  That newspaper is from 13 April 1901!
Though we'd been diligent in insulating the walls, around windows and in any cracks we could find, the attic and front and back porch still needed improvement.  Luckily, a good friend of ours works for a company that blows in insulation.  Serendipity!

Jack helped as they filled the spaces with a blanket of soft, white, fluffy fiberglass.  I sent pictures to my family and you know what?  They asked if snow had leaked into the attic.
I suppose it was a valid question.  We actually did have snow leak into the house our first winter here.  I laughed and reassured them it wasn't that catastrophic.  Our investment was a worthy one too.  A bit of our budget did a noticeably good job keeping us warm during the cold Iowa winters.  A lot better than a threadbare corset anyway.

24 February 2012

Caramel Corn

My popcorn addiction has struck again.  Rather than craving a plain bowl of lightly salted, pan-popped corn, I decided to go all out and make caramel corn.  It's a longtime family favorite that's so, so tasty.

If you need directions on how to pop the corn on the stove, help is here.

How To Make:

2 cups brown sugar
2 sticks butter
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
Bring ingredients (except the baking soda) slowly to a boil and boil hard for five minutes.  Remove from heat and mix in the baking soda, stirring well (the mixture will puff out of the pan if it's not large enough).
Pour over six quarts of popped, lightly salted popcorn.  Mix caramel over popcorn.  Place in oven (230 to 240F) for 45 minutes, stirring every fifteen minutes.
When done, allow to cool and break into smaller pieces and do your best to share.


21 February 2012

Farewell Clay

Today my family said goodbye to Clay.  Though he had a rocky last few months living with an aggressive cancer, you'd hardly know it by his happy demeanor.  Eventually the cancerous growth reappeared with a vengeance on his lip and the lymph nodes on his neck swelled to the size of a grapefruit.  Still, being a dog, he wasn't self-conscious and enjoyed the simple things of life.

As sad as it is, death is our universal heritage.  It comes to the old and young, rich and poor, people and our animal counterparts alike.  It is humbling to realize many aspects are the same for us as they are for our pets.
I ironically received the news just as the girls and I were leaving the humane society after walking a homeless dog for a few hours.  Although I'm several hundred miles away, I cried like a little girl.  It's terribly sad not being able to say goodbye or help gently bury him.  It'll be alright though.  I'm a firm believer that all dogs go to Heaven.
Snoozing on his special chair.
Clay was laid to rest in my grandmother's back yard, next to one of her beloved pooches.  He had an excellent and lucky life, unlike so many other unfortunate canines who never have anyone to mourn their passing.  When I do get another dog, it will be one who is in need of saving through an animal shelter or rescue organization  Those critters are given the short end of the stick but more often than not, they aren't bitter about how life has turned out.  I know I can't save them all, but bringing one or two into our family will make a difference to them and to me.

I'm sure the gloom will linger for a few days but it isn't without hope.  I loved that dog and so did my girls as well as many adoring fans elsewhere.  Good boy, Clay and farewell.

Surfside Holiday

Sea Foam Feet

For one of Jack's rare days away from work, we decided to get together with his sister and her family for a much needed three-day vacation.  Where else better to spend it than at the beach?

Though it wasn't quite warm enough to dive into the rolling waves, that didn't stop us, particularly the girls.  Initially, they were apprehensive about it all--their feet sinking into the sand, the chilly, salty water that washed up and soaked their pants, the spiky seashells and mushy seaweed scattering the beach.  It wasn't long though before they discovered the fun they could have when they conquered their fears.

For the most part, the weekend was a success.  There were, however, a few bumps in the road.  Getting ready for church on Sunday, Jack's suit pants ripped.  Not a tiny tear either--it looked like an overzealous dog got a hold of his hind end.  Having no other slacks, sewing supplies, tape, glue, staples--anything!--he did his best to keep the unsightly gash covered under his suit jacket.

To add to the excitement, Jack set our beautifully sleek laptop on the roof of the car while buckling in Evelyn.  Promptly forgetting about it, we were reminded when it flew off the car at forty miles per hour.  Miraculously, it's still limping along though remains in critical condition.  Oops.

To top it off, we arrived at the local church building only to discover it was deserted.  It happened to be stake conference, a biannual meeting where several congregations in a region combine.  Over an hour away, we knew we weren't going to make it so we laughed at the pathetic morning and headed home.
The rest of the time we spend digging up clams, walking along the pier, watching jealously as a woman rode her horse along the beach (okay, that was just me), collecting seashells and endless running through the surf.

Like any good vacation, it went entirely too fast.  I'm consoling myself with the fact that in a months time, my side of the family will be heading down for a Texas spring break and we're going right back down to that same beach.  Now all I have to do is be patient while I anxiously count down the days.

17 February 2012

Ooey Gooey Butter Bars

I have to give my sister credit for suggesting this scrumptious, chocolatey dessert on the cusp of a chocolate dessert cook off (they remind me a tad of Blackbottom cupcakes).  Even if you're not a fan of chocolate overload in every bite, you can skip adding the chips to the cream cheese mixture and use yellow cake mix instead of chocolate.  Any combination you choose is guaranteed to be delicious.

You'll Need:

1 box yellow or chocolate cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 (8oz) package cream cheese
1/2 large bag of powdered sugar
1 bag chocolate chips

Combine the cake mix, 1 egg and the butter.  The ingredients will become a stiff dough.  Press into the bottom of a 13x9 inch greased baking pan.
Mix well the remaining 2 eggs, powdered sugar, cream cheese and 1/2 the bag of chocolate chips (optional).  Spread over the cake mixture.


Bake at 350F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the cream cheese mixture is set and slightly browned.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips and return to the oven for a few minutes until the chips have softened.
Cool and slice into squares.

15 February 2012

Just Perfect

Though we toyed with the idea of spending Valentine's Day at a local Murder Mystery Dinner, the thought of dropping that much cash on food and prime time babysitting on a school night made us rethink our plans.  Luckily, the evening turned out to be a blast anyway.
Jack strolled in the door at his usual time but snuck stealthily to the bedroom to unearth my present.  I'd given him a package of delectable truffles before he left for work, complete with a dramatic meltdown from Evelyn when she realized they weren't hers.  He stymied her tears by handing her a very large, very tasty piece of chocolate just for her.  As I set the table for a slightly-more-thoughtful-than-normal dinner, Jack handed me this:
A carved wood jewelry box filled to the brim with Jelly Belly's, chocolate Kisses and Watermelon gum.  He knows me entirely too well.  To top it off, he gave the girls some sugary treats of their own.

Before we ate, Jack stoked a fire (thankfully it didn't become too warm), we kissed Claire goodnight and I put the finishing touches on our meal.  Then we had a romantic at-home, candlelit dinner date . . .
. . . chaperoned by Evelyn and her bowl of ice cream.
Our Valentine's Day was just perfect.  Hope yours was too!

14 February 2012

A Stroller Will Do

Both kids fit!
My aunt and grandmother wisely gifted a sturdy jogging stroller to me before Evelyn was born and I have diligently used it around the farm as well as on the running trails.
When Claire came along and before I invested in a double stroller, I found out I could jam two kids in it to save from having to carry one while guiding the stroller one-handed.  They don't mind.

The underneath pouch has been incredibly versatile as well.  It's a veritable pack mule for how much it can carry.  It sure saves a lot of trips back and forth, especially when working on an outside project.
I fit all kinds of saws, chainsaws, hammers and nails under the girls.
Who needs and ATV or utility vehicle when you've got a multifaceted jogging stroller?  Of course, should Jack gift me a utility vehicle, I wouldn't say no.  For now though, a stroller will do.
Sleepy Claire!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...