Friday, May 31, 2013

Illustration Friday Topic: Sweet

I've always wanted to take part in Illustration Friday. I guess there's no time like the present! Here is my first submission. The topic for this week is the word Sweet. Hope you like it!


I don't really have a saga, but while looking up information on the AGA cooker I learned that there is a genre of English literature that is called "AGA Saga". It seems to be drama revolving around affluent people. Well I may not be affluent but who cares, today is one of those wonderful days where it's raining and you open all the windows to breathe in all that heavenly fresh rain air. I few rounds of thunder scared the dogs so they snuggled up with me on the sofa. I don't want them to be scared, but I do enjoy a snuggle. Except when they bump my arm as I'm trying to paint! Oh well, what's a little smudge. The above picture is what I was working on. The AGA. The AGA is one of those ridiculously expensive items that one really only buys if they hit the lotto or marry rich. Its price tag is insane! But, I'm sure it's worth every penny. I'm thinking of doing a few more of these. It's my way of having an AGA and better yet, I can have one in every color I choose!

Here is a fun demonstration by the one and only Martha. Apparently back then the AGA may have even been a high price for the domestic diva. Word on the street (or in the comments of the video) is that she did the tutorial for free in exchange for an AGA. I just love seeing these old videos. She should come out with a collection of her early specials.  

One more little find, here is a video of Kathryn Ireland (the designer not the model) giving a tour of her home. It's beautiful, I could move right in. Anyway, she has an AGA and while showing it off she actually spit on it! I can't believe she spit on it! She was trying to show how hot it was, but could she not have splashed some water on it or something! haha I got a chuckle out of it.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Strawberry Image...

I have never been to crazy about my blog banner so I took it down and have a temporary generic one (read I typed my blog name into the given field). I tried to paint the title but never really cared for was just filling the space till I could come up with something I liked.

It's OK, I like the little chickadee on the "S" but I think it's just too fussy. I'm still not sure what I want to do but I know it will obviously have a strawberry in it. I painted the one at the top of the post today. I really like it and had a really nice banner worked out but the old computer would not covert my file to an image. We've had a major malfunction and should probably buy a new computer because some things are just not working right. It's all a learning process though and I'm having fun messing about with all these strawberries. :-)

Hope you've had a wonderful day and I shall see you soon!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I'd Stand in Line for a Lobster Roll...

I'm sure my mother would appreciate me calling her recipe box "vintage". Makes it/her sound of a certain age. She recently gave me her "vintage" recipe box with the bright red lobster on the front. There is not a time in my life I don't remember seeing this little box and now it rests above my stove. The thing that is so appealing to me about this tin box, beside it being a momento of my childhood, is the lobster illustration. When I look at it I'm transported to the east coast and I immediatly want to start speaking with a Maine accent!

Growing up in Indiana the only large body of water was Lake Michigan. Ummm, no lobsters in there. We certainly had plenty of corn on the cob and potatoes but no lobster, no lobster on the beach, no lobster rolls, no lobster salad. Our cookouts were hotdogs, burgers, maybe my parents would eat a steak. The only lobster we saw were on TV at some fancy pants restaurant. But what must it have been like to grown up on the coast and eat lobster till you were sick! I must admit I've only had lobster once and it was at Red Lobster and it was a tail, not the whole thing. Also, I'm not sure that Red Lobster uses the best lobster, I think they are pretty much glorified crawdads. It was just ok.    

My idea of a Lobster Bake

One day I will take a vacation to Maine and eat lobster rolls till I can't stand the sight of another one! I can't wait to stand in a long line at some beach shack that claims to serve up the best lobster rolls in the state. Here is a list of the 10 best lobster shacks in Maine. Would that be wrong to make a vacation out of visiting each one of these?  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Getting Your Frustrations Out

I know a lot of people love their bread machines and I think they are great, but for me I love the process of making bread by hand. There is something about kneeding and punching down the dough that gives me a complete feeling of satisfaction. It's like kick boxing. Only without that awful exercising part...and sweating...and you get to eat hot buttered bread when your done. I admit the end results may not be the same but the end result is soooo worth it!

I found this recipe a few years ago and it is delicious! I love this bread so much, it's better than cake!

Can you see my pink pyrex loaf pan in the background? Amazing thrift store find, it's a million times better than that little non stick loaf pan that's next to it. It makes a nice sice loaf that's not to big for sandwiches!

 Ready to punch down! That's the fun part!

Pass the butter please!

This one is like mine, I found it on Etsy at Blue Remembered Hills . Some lucky baker already purchased it, but you should still check out this etsy page. Loads of wonderful vintage items and other pyrex!

 The colors of vintage pyrex are so cute and they clean up perfectly. Also, they last forever! Just in case you want your own I found this yellow one for sale on Etsy at New Life Vintage RV's . It's only $14.00! I'm sure with that cheery yellow color it won't last long!

Well that's it for today, I hope you all have a good day, please keep Moore OK in your thoughts.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Snow Peas

"How luscious lies the pea within the pod." -Emily Dickinson

I think snow peas may be my favorite vegetable. Easy to grow, easy to keep, easy to cook, and delicious. I also happen to think they are very pretty when blanched. One of my favorite healthy snacks is snow peas with hummus. I usually just use them like a chip and dip them, but you can pipe hummus into them very easily if you need something a little more fancy for a party.

I grew them last year and just a few plants kept us in peas all summer long. I blanch them right after picking and pop them in a freezer bag until ready to use. I dry them on a kitchen towel before putting them in the freezer.

We ate a lot of Asian last summer! That's ok, it's one of my favorites and my husband who is not a fan of vegetables actually loved the snow peas. Whenever we are in a restaurant and the waiter/waitress asks if he would like a salad, his favorite thing to say is "No thanks, I'll die if I eat anything green." I'm happy to report he's not been killed by any rough green vegetables.

It's chilly here in Kentucky this morning. The wind is blowing but the weatherman is saying we will get up to 85 tomorrow. I guess it's true what they say, if you don't like the weather just wait 10 minutes. It'll change. Hope you're enjoying your morning and get into something fun today! See you tomorrow!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Hot Tea and a Garden Tour

I think we need to start off with a hot cup of tea before the garden tour begins. It's so chilly today our furnace kicked on. It's been weeks since that happened! Ok fingers are warm, lets get going...

Pansy in the basket on the front porch.

The birdbath in the front flower bed. The azalea's are so bright! I'm not crazy about them on the brick wall, but they were here when we moved in. Truth be told, I'd like to paint the brick!

The hosta may be my favorite thing in the garden.

Here are the planters on the front porch. I've tried flowers but it's just to shady, so this year I mixed English Ivy, Asparagus fern, Purple Queen, and a spike for some height. I hope it all fills in nicely.

These Iris grow along my neighbors driveway and lucky for us we get to enjoy them from the backyard as her driveway edges our property...I think technically they are on our property but her husband planted them many years ago and he has since passed. Apparently he was a great gardener! She does have a beautiful yard.

The peach tree. I counted 41 little peaches on this dwarf tree...I can't wait to make a cobbler!

The peony is is pink at this stage, but will bloom white.

Here is the only peony to open so far, as you can see there is no pink to be seen. 

...and this is what happens when you leave a pot of sedum in the garage all winter and forget about it. It reaches for the light and spreads out instead of making the usual little puff ball of tight leaves. I kinda like! Oh and that's the lovely trash can parked behind it. In case you didn't know Louisville was founded in 1778 by George Rodgers Clark.

Speaking of George Rodgers Clark, if you are ever come to visit Louisville a stop at his home, Locust Grove is a must!

That concludes our tour. Thanks for going along and I'll see you tomorrow!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Make Steak-n-Shake or In-n-Out Style Burgers at Home...

I grew up eating Steak n Shake burgers in the Midwest so when I was in my twenties I moved to Arizona. Sadly there is no Steak n Shake in Arizona but there was the famous In-n-Out burger. Holy Cow...famous for a reason! It was a great substitute when craving a Steak n Shake burger. Both are made with super fresh ingredients and both have that skinny patty with the crispy edges and the crispy grilled bun. After many failed attempts at making a "slider" at home I finally came up with the perfect burger that I honestly think could give these two fine establishments a run for their money. At least I think that's what my husband said when his mouth was full of burger. It was something like "Oh m blob babe, bis burgrrr izz cra goooo! ewo shoed pen a reameaiot ngn". Something like that. I promise, they are that good if you follow my directions to a T.

OK Lets get started!

First you will need a spatula that has no holes in it and a heavy fork generally used for carving. I get 6 patties out of 1 lb of lean ground beef. I use Laura's Lean...or whatever I can find that has the least amount of fat. I know that people will say better flavor with higher fat content, but I don't think that applies to these. But if you were going to grill your burgers I would go with a higher fat content. About 20 mins before I'm going to make my burgers I go ahead and take the meat out, don't shape a patty or be tempted to handle the meat, just divide it up into 6 sections and leave it alone.

Next step is to prep your buns and toppings. Remember, we're just letting the meat sit out to get it close to room temp for about 20 minutes. Put a dollop of butter in your skillet, I use the cast iron for this, and grill your buns. To get a more authentic Steak N Shake or In-n-Out Burger I just use plain old hamburger buns, nothing fancy. 

Next I prep everything, you want to have it all ready to go so you can eat your burger hot. Now, In-n-Out burger has a special sauce that they put on their burgers, you can find plenty of copy cat recipes for it online but I've found that it's basically Thousand Island dressing, so to save myself I just use the bottled stuff and it tastes fantastic. I also think it's important to use American cheese to have a more authentic tasting burger. Velveeta is great for a grilled cheese, but not this. Obviously you can do Swiss or whatever your favorite is, but for our purposes of trying to make this like Steak n Shake or In-n-Out, American cheese is the way to go. I find Kraft deli slices are a little better than wrapped singles. If you want the In-n-Out sauce I mix 3 parts thousand Island with 1 part ketsup. I think they use mayo, ketsup, sweet relish, and a little
onion...not far off from Thousand Island. 

MEEEEAAAATTTT. haha Ok, get your skillet nice and hot...just before it starts smoking! Sprinkle your favorite seasoning salt on the side you will be putting face down in the skillet. I'm assuming Steak n Shake uses Lawry's season salt because it's on their tables but I guess they could be just salt and peppering the meat too. I also really like Famous Dave's Steak Burger seasoning, I alternate between the two and season them quite liberally. Here is one of the critical elements. You should hear a sizzle when you put the meat in the skillet and the burger will sit like this for 1 minute. No more, no less.

When you flip the burger it should look like this, nice and dark on top and the top quarter should be just barley brown, it should not be brown half way down the burger otherwise you may run the risk of over cooking it.

As soon as you flip the meat start smashing...this takes a lot of muscle and a little technique. I start in the middle and smash with the spatula and push as hard as I can with the fork, start moving your utensils around to the edges and really smash the edges into the skillet. SMASH SMASH SMASH. The key is to work fast, if you don't work fast you will start to see juice running out of the patty and we don't want that as it will result in a dry burger... yuck! So remember flip smash fast and hard, really get those edges thin. In-n-Out edges are not as crispy or flat so if you're going for that don't smash as much.

Hamburger is so ugly. Anyway, You will be able to tell that your burger is ready to be flipped for the final time once your edges start to get nice and brown, they also will start to lift from the pan, I think the low fat content makes them stick a little to the pan, but we want that, it's what makes them crispy! 

Once you flip them just cook them to your taste, if you like it a little rare go ahead with your cheese, I give mine about another minute. I like mine cooked with just a tiny pink or just done though.

I made oven fries, they are not as good as Steak n Shake matchstick fries or In-n-Outs fresh cut fries but they are also not deep fried. With a little seasoning they are not's not really about the fires though is it. :-)

So there you have it! Let me know if you guys try and make these, it may take a few tries to get your technique of smashing down, mine were a little thick the first time. I didn't realize how much smashing force these really took!

I also have to say thank you to my husband, he took the photos of the meat for me while I was flipping and smashing! He's not very comfortable with the camera so I had him use the flash since the kitchen was a little dark. Good job honey!

I hope you guys are enjoying your day, it's very rainy here. Off to do laundry and maybe some soup for lunch...feels like a soup day!   

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

How cute are these! There are many variations on the stuffed cherry tomatoes floating around. I happen to like the BLT one the best, but this one is a little healthier...just a little. Let's not get crazy, there is still ham and cheese, but that's ok right? The French love ham and swiss and they're skinny!

You will need...
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Thin sliced ham
  • Thin sliced baby swiss
  • Mustard, I like the grainy mustard, but I'm sure any would be fine
  • Fresh dill

Off with their heads! Just loose the top far enough down to make stuffing the tomatoes easy. Another tip, if you will be putting them on a flat plate you may want to slice a tiny bit of the bottom to keep the tomatoes from rolling around. I put them on my asparagus plate and the ridges keep them in place.

Spread the mustard on your slice of ham, add the cheese and roll. Cut them about the same height as the tomato, once you stuff them the ham will stick out a little bit. Add a sprig of dill. That's it, so easy and tasty...not as tasty as the bacon ones but still delicious.

Looks like a little bit of rain today. The flowers are all filling in very nicely and as much as I would like to relax outside it looks like the clouds will be preventing that.

Have you ever made stuffed tomatoes? What do you put in them? Hope you have a great day, also I just added a "follow me on pinterest" button so if you're a pinner follow me and I will follow you back. See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Kitchen Color

Selecting a color to paint your kitchen can be a real brain basher. After all we spend a large portion of time in there. I do my cooking, ironing and occasionally I even paint my little watercolors at the table in there. I've recently given my kitchen a fresh coat of paint, cabinets and all. Shooo what a job!    

This is not my kitchen. Not my current kitchen anyway. This was a few houses ago and the color was called Irish Isle. I bought the color because I liked the name, maybe not the best idea in the world but there was something I really loved about that bold green. I bet you can't tell I like green ;-) This kitchen was tiny and not very functional, but it was cozy and I felt at home here, and as a bonus when I walked in the room I thought about traveling to Ireland. Still have yet to go there.  

The tiny apartment stove worked great and that little cabinet next to it was a flee market find. The porcelain top was in perfect condition, even though the rest needed some tlc. Every night I would heat up the kettle for a cup of tea just before watching As Time Goes By on PBS. I love Judy Dench and Geoffrey Palmer. If you like British Comedy this one is a must. Here are some funny outtakes from the show.   

What color is your kitchen? Do you like it warm and cozy or just the opposite? I'll show you what I finally did with mine in the coming days. Until then I hope you weather is as beautiful wherever you are as it is here!