Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Mincemeat Time Again

We are having a beautiful cool fall day with bright sunshine.  I have hopes of working outside this afternoon.

My sis and I were both out of my mincemeat so three days ago I made up a new batch.  It just makes about 2.5 quarts which is enough for both of us.  Mostly we use it in cookies or turnovers.  I love making it.  I got a shock though when I got out Mom's old Kitchen Aid grinder that fits my new mixer.  I had forgotten that it cracked in half last year.  All was not lost.  I used  my trusty old (and I do mean old) Cuisinart processor and got everything blended nicely.  This year I just used a fruit cake mix in place of candied orange peel.  I also ground a whole orange with skin for that citrus flavor.  I think it is better than last year.....maybe just because it is fresh.  I added about 1/2 cup of brandy and let it ripen at room temperature before bagging and freezing.

I just had to test it this morning.  Part of the motivation was I needed to make pie crusts ahead for Thanksgiving.  I use Nathan's Never-Fail recipe that makes 6 crusts.  I used one for turnovers.

They are fairly low in calories for a dessert, around 90 at my 4 inch size. 
Max will be pleased when he gets back from errands.  Mincemeat is not his favorite but by now he will fall on them with glee!

It seems we have been so busy with errands for the last several days we haven't got much else accomplished.  I hope that stops...I still have to shop for a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.


The new red mum is actually a bronze color.

 This is probably the last dahlia to survive the frosts. 


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Almost Second Week of November Post

Well, it's been 9 days this time.....not too bad for me.

We are finally having much cooler weather, even cooler than normal for November.  Several spotty frosts but still not a hard freeze.  I had left my pumpkin harvest buried on the ground amidst the ribbon grass or whatever it is.  I just threw a comforter over them.  I think they will be fine.

I took a short tour of the yard a few minutes ago.  It was lovely in the bright sunshine....didn't even wear a jacket.  The following are some pictures of the fall yard:

This is the cistern planter chock full of lemon thyme and chives. I have cut both back several times.  I need to harvest some for the freezer next.

This is the self-seeded parsley bed I planted about 4 years ago.  It keeps coming back and I am delighted.  I will cut some for the freezer very soon.

If I knew how I would delete the trash can......I  don't.  This is the whiskey barrel with more herbs.  Rosemary which needed to be lifted and brought inside, chocolate mint and oregano.   The purple sage does not taste the same and the regular one.  I will be looking for it next spring.
The above is a clump of white petunias that must be from Rainmaster I planted a couple of years ago.  However this one does not have the markings on the flowers.  I keep watching for seed pods but so far, haven't seen any.  Very curious.  At one time you could buy Rainmaster seeds then they began selling only the plants.  I haven't quite figured that out yet. 

The cooking isn't quite what it once was.  I am being diligent  about baking sweets since Max's HA.  I did bake this chocolate cake for our friend's family.  She is our daughter's age and broke some lower vertebrae  in her spine and damaged her  tail bone riding in some horse competition.  She is now home in a body brace and using a walker for  weeks...

This is my go to cake and the one our grandson and his friends always request.
It was painful not to cut a piece, but I resisted.  DH wanted me to bake one for us....I didn't. Here is the recipe with two icings.  Max prefers the chocolate. 
Fabulous Fudge Cake
(I call this the boys' cake made for Ry and his friends)

First made during January 2006 ice storm when Steve and family came down and cleaned up the yard of debris.

I iced it with ganache (recipe follow cake)

You will need: Regular flour, baking soda, butter,brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, unsweetened chocolate squares and sour cream.

2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ but butter
2-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 (l oz.) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1cup sour cream
1 cup boiling water.

Preheat Oven to 350°

Sift together dry ingredients in bowl and set aside

In large mixer bowl beat ½ cup butter and 2-1/2 cups brown sugar until well blended. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each. Add vanilla and melted chocolate, mix and add ½ the sour cream and ½ the dry ingredients to butter mixture ; blend well.
Add remaining sour cream and dry ingredients to batter. Stir in boiling water

Bake in greased 9x13 pan for 35 minutes.

Cool and ice.


shopping: 8 oz. Semi-sweet or bittersweet choc chips, heavy whipping cream, butter

8 oz. Semi-sweet chocolate chips or bittersweet cut into pieces. I used good quality like Giardelli.
¾ cup cream
2 tablespoons butter
l tablespoon brandy (opt)

Place chocolate in medium stainless steel bowl; set aside.
Heat cream and butter in medium pan over medium heat. Bring just to the boil.
Immediately pour over chocolate and let stand 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth. I sometimes
add a little brandy for flavor.

Ice cake
this same ganache can be used to make truffles. First chill the chocolate mix really well. Form into small balls with hands (very messy)Can roll in chopped nuts or rolled in powdered sugar.

Another icing that goes well the the cake is this:

½ cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup milk
1-3/4 cup confectioner's sugar

Melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in brown sugar and boil about 2 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup milk and bring to a boil. Place pan in cold water and stir in confectioners sugar. Stir until smooth spread over warm cake.

I am still making our oatmeal bread though.

We have begun our round of doctors after the ER.  This last one was to a Primary Care doctor, listed as a follow-up ER appointment. I will not voice my opinion of all these intrusions into our private lives.  We are to see her again in 3 months (or not).  DH seems very willing this time to follow to the letter the new policies our health care is made up of.  It is his decision.  I am not in the system.......yet.

Have a  super week.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Bagel time

Our cooler weather has arrived and because of all the moisture we are under a fog warning.

We can't even catch a hint of  the red barn behind the Elm tree that we usually see.

I haven't  made bagels in a long  time.  My Sis was talking  about eating a bagel for breakfast yesterday......so this morning I have a batch on the rise!
I did make our favorite Hodgson Mills Honey Wheat bread recipe day before yesterday. It makes  enough for three loaves.  This time I  made two and buns.

Max is the cat whisperer here.  They follow him chore to  chore.  He is also the person who feeds and pets them (when allowed).  This is our senior gray  cat sitting patiently by the back door waiting for his lord and master to appear.

Not much left in the flowers, still loving the intense blue the salvia 'Victoria' gets with cooler weather.  She will soon be gone.  This grouping has white petunias (ss), sedum and two roses that are out of bloom now.  Tomato cages near tree, pruned clump  of Herbstonne rudbeckia,  The remaining green is oenothera speciosa which somehow ended up here from the front  ditch.  I plan to let it take over as a  ground cover.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Day in the Life ---- Rendering Lard and other Day to Day Doings

We are still enjoying very nice weather.  The temperatures are running about 10° higher than the norm.

This past week, we picked up the processed hog our son had ordered.  He never wants the liver or the ground up fat.  I take these gladly.  I made lard.  I placed the thawed, ground fat in  my maslin pan.  Added a cup or more of water so it would scorch on the bottom and placed the pan on low.  I was careful this time to not let the cracklings get to the brown crunchy stage.  That doesn't ruin the lard but gives it a tan  color and a little pig taste that makes it not good for pie crusts.

I have over done that before.  I never use the cracklings (the chickens get that).  It doesn't take long.  I then strain the fat through two layers of cheese cloth and pour into containers to store.  This time, I got smart and put it in shorter glass jars. Easier to dip into.

I just wish I had greater access to the fat.  I have asked the processor but he doesn't save it.  I am betting he has a source he sells it  to if the people don't want it.

The lard from the stores is partially hydrogenated which is what I am trying to avoid.

I finally cleaned the pumpkin patch.  It filled  the garden cart heaping full. Found three more pumpkins bringing the total harvest to a self seeded vine to 13.  All from one seed.  Long Island Squash would always be my go-to pumpkin/squash.  It is a moschata type which are more resistant  to squash bugs.

I am almost finished cleaning the overgrowth of weeds from the  light pole bed around the propane  tank.  Still have some string trimmer work to complete it.

It doesn't look like much but suffice it to say before you could barely see the propane tank.

We have a new varmint laying about the yard.....thankfully he  doesn't eat anything!
This is part of the tree stump that I left laying....every time I mow he gives me a start! I love these kinds of varmints!  BTW, we caught another real one in the live trap  night before last, a possum.

We seem to have an endless supply.

I leave with an interesting view of the sky: