Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What do we live for but to hear our words...

coming out of our children's mouths.

"Cleaning up with children around is like shoveling during a blizzard." Arthur unknown.

One of the things I've heard from the older girls with the most frequently recently is, "Trust us mom, we JUST cleaned up." and, "It's impossible to keep it clean with the girls in the house." I've even seen/heard them tell the girls to go outside and play because they just can't seem to make any headway while the younger girls are in the house.

I distinctly remember feeling as though all I could manage was to move the mess from one room to another. I remember telling my husband I'd just cleaned something, or assuring him that the basket of laundry on the floor in the living room, while actually being the same basket, was not the same batch of laundry. I'm not sure he was ever convinced of that, but that's okay.

So when the older girls tell me that the younger ones came in and messed up the room they had just cleaned while they were busy in another one, I just smile and tell them I know exactly how they feel. I also make the little girls go back and clean their stuff up.
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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Crockpot Cooking: Country Style Steak

Allrighty. You can get this in any cafe, family style restaurant, cafeteria style restaurant, or hole-in-the-wall dive. At least you can here in the South. I've even seen about a bizillion recipes for this that call for cream of mushroom soup and a packet of brown gravy mix. In fact, that's what my original recipe was. BUT, this is not soup-and-powdered-gravy (can you hear your blood pressure rise from all that sodium?) country style steak. Nope. This is honest to goodness, homemade country style steak, and you'll never regret making it this way.

Country Style Steak

cubed steak             onions
mushrooms              beef stock or water and beef base
flour                         milk or cream
olive oil                    butter                       
salt                           pepper

Slice your onions and mushrooms.
Heat some olive oil and butter and add your onions.
Sprinkle with pepper. Do not add salt here.
You don't want them cooked to death. Just cook them
until they're pliable and have some color.
After removing the onions, throw in your mushrooms.
Same goes for the mushrooms. Just cook 'til they
are softened and have a little color.
Remove them from the pan and take the pan off the heat.
Prepare your cubed steak. I cut all the larger pieces, except
for two or three I'll leave big for hubby and Superman.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you started at lunch you can sprinkle them with
meat tenderizer in place of salt, but don't do this if they will cook all day or you'll
have meat mush by suppertime. Return your pan to the heat and add oil and butter.
Dredge the pieces in flour and fry on each side for a few minutes.
I have stock thawing/melting in the saucepan behind this.
These do not need to be cooked all the way through.
Just brown them good on both sides.
Between panfuls, assuming you have more meat than will
fit in the pan at one time, pour the used oil off in a measuring cup,
 scraping all the little brown goodies up off the bottom of the pan.
What is brown and tasy now will be black and nasty by the time
you've finished with all the meat unless you pour it off each time.
You need fresh oil and butter for each panful of meat.
When all the meat is done, pour your oil and browned bits back
into the pan. Add more oil and/or butter if necessary and dump in the
leftover flour from dredging the meat, forming a rue. How much rue
you'll need depends on how much gravy you'll need to completely cover
the meat in the crock pot. I needed a lot. Let this brown, but don't burn it.
When your rue is ready, pour in your stock (or water).
If your stock was hot, like mine was, it's a really good idea to
remove the pan from the heat because the gravy will spit and bubble
like an exploding volcano while you're stirring it in, and you need to
stir the whole time to keep it from clumping. Once things have settled
down and the gravy is simmering you can add beef base if you used water.
You can also add the milk or cream at this point. You want the gravy a
little on the thin side. It will thicken as it sits and you may need to add a
bit more stock or water before you get the end of the assembly process.
This is where you taste and add salt if needed.
Okay, you're almost there. Pour a little of the gravy into the bottom of the slow cooker.
Then start layering the meat, onions, mushrooms, and gravy.
This is what it should look like before you add more gravy and start another layer.
You don't need a huge layer of gravy between each layer of meat and goodies.
The rest of the gravy gets poured on top of the whole thing and then set the pot to cook all day on low if you started in the morning. If you started at lunch, turn it on high. In a few hours your house will smell heavenly.

Mixing a packet of gravy mix into a can of cream-of-mushroom soup and adding water is slightly easier, but you still have to brown the meat (and who could go wrong spending a little time sauteing mushrooms and onions), so you're not saving a great deal of time. I used to make it that way. Before I learned as much as I know now about nutrition. Before I had a child that would have been labled hyper had I ever taken her to be diagnosed, and who is sensitive to processed foods. Before my feet spent 6 months looking like dirigibles during my fifth pregnancy. So yes, at one time I did use powdered gravy and a can of soup, but never again. My family deserves better.
I know this isn't one of my simpler crock pot recipes, but your hubby will thank you. Your kids will love you, and until they're big enough to notice what they are and then object on principle, they'll eat those gravy covered mushrooms and onions.

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Crockpot Cooking: Chicken and Fresh Tomato Stew

Some of the girls are sick, outside lessons were cancelled, and most of the girls were uninclined to eat much yesterday, so I didn't do a crock pot meal. Thankfully, photos of this one were stashed away in the computer. All we had to do was find the original recipe - thanks Kay!

Ri put this together for us one day when we were very busy doing something. I can't remember what, but it must have had something to do with canning, or some other kind of food prep, because she ended up having to put the crock pot on a chair in the dining room to cook. I'm sure ya'll will be tickled to have a recipe with actual, measured ingredients.

Chicken and Fresh Tomato Stew

5 potatoes, peeled and cubed      2 (8oz)cans tomato sauce
1 1/2c. chopped fresh tomato      1 can ckicken broth
1c sliced carrot                            1 1/2tsp. italian seasoning
1 onion, chopped                         1/4tsp. red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves                                 water, as needed
3 large, boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Potatoes and tomatoes. I think we'll use red skinned potatoes next time and skip peeling them. Also, we were out of fresh tomatoes, so Ri used a jar of the diced tomatoes we had canned.
Add the diced onion, sliced carrots, and bay leaves.
As you can see, our chicken and homemade chicken stock were still frozen. Our chicken breast had already been cut into strips before it was frozen.
Add the tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes.
She didn't completely cover it with water because she knew the chicken stock would melt and the frozen chicken would come apart, so it would all end up being covered. If none of your ingredients are frozen you can arrange them properly and cover it with liquid before you start cooking.
Cover it and cook on low all day. You can take the chicken out before serving and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Since our chicken was already in smaller pieces, we just kind of chunked it up a little more with the spoon.

Hope you enjoy!
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Things I never would have imagined needing to say...

...that is, until I had kids.

I just wanted to share some of the incredible weirdness that goes on around here. I'll tell one of the funniest things one of the older girls said to a younger sister,  let you in on some of the wierdest statements I've ever had to say, a couple of the interesting (as in, warning bells are going off in my head) things I've overheard and what has to be the all time strangest conversation I've ever had in my life.

First would be a comment, or rather a command made to Bree by Ri a couple of years ago. Drumroll please...
"No!! When I said drop him, I meant on this side of the deck rail!!!"
I'm sorry, there is just no way not to laugh when this is told. And no, the neighbor boy wasn't hurt. Ri did stop Bree from dropping him over the deck.

Here are some of my favorite things that I never thought I'd have to say.
1) Do Not put your sister in the dryer!!
2) Under NO circumstances do you turn on the dryer if your sister is inside...ever again!!
3) No, you may not use the clothes dryer to dry the cat. NO! Trust me, she would not like it.
4) Do not roll the bowling ball at the (console) TV!
This was shouted to one of the kids midsentence of a phone conversation with my mom. There for a few minutes, she couldn't breathe for laughing. While still laughing, she was mumbling something about it being so nice to be on the other side of one of those oddly interrupted phone conversations.
5) Stop surfing down the stairs on your mattresses right now!!
6) No, I do not care that Bree's mattress was the fastest staircase surfboard. By the way, did any of you notice the metal and glass table that sits just a few feet from the bottom of the staircase??
7) Quit walking/jumping around your room on the tops of all your furniture, especially the (very narrow) top rail of the bunk bed. Yes, I'm sure it was neat to be able to walk around your room without ever touching the floor, but you still can't do it again.
8) Do not put anymore popcorn kernals, or anything else, in your ears.
9) Are you sure that lizard is dead? (For the record, it had been brought in the house to scare a sibling.)
10) You just spent 10 minutes holding that lizard when you thought it was dead. Now go pick it back up and take it outside.
11) Do not feed your sister anymore paint! (Thankfully, it was non-toxic, but she had some colorful diapers the next day.)
12) Unzip that suitcase and let your sister out!!
15) Don't put anymore horseshoes in your nose. (Does that seem impossible? Explanation below.)

For those of you who are parents, I'm sure you'll understand that certain something that clicks in your brain sometimes. It happens during times you're not really listening to the kids, but somehow there's a part of your brain that zeros in on particular word combinations and causes you to go instantly on high alert. The next few things are examples of that phenomenon, the last one setting off my all time strangest conversation.

Youngest two children are passing when you overhear, "Let's go stand in the bathtub to cut it on."
Your brain picks up on "cut it on" and bathtub. Since you normally 'cut on' electric objects, this goes straight to the high alert section of the brain. In this case it was a battery operated glow in the dark thing, and apparently the darkest spot in the house is in the bathtub, with the shower curtain drawn, and the bathroom door shut.

Youngest three children running through the den when one says to the youngest, "Come on! It's your turn to be the target!"
Guess no explanation is needed for why this one made it through whatever I happened to be focusing on at the time. I can't remember now what exactly was being throw at the "target", but I remember being assured it was soft. I also remember nixing the idea.

And my all time favorite:
Youngest two (are you seeing a pattern?) are walking past me in the den, when one asks the other, "How did it feel when you pulled it out of your nose?"

For those of you who don't have kids, or your kids are still small and you haven't sampled this sort of thing so far (If your kids are grown and you never went through any of this, just don't tell me. That way I can still assure myself we're not totally bizarre.) this is one of those moments when your brain slows everything down so that an amazing amount of debate can rage inside your head in just a few seconds. Let me explain. Sometimes there are situations that, while they are certainly out of the ordinary, are not, oh, shall we say, life threatening, so you just let them pass. This happens most often when you are very tired, or everyone is getting along, and things are reasonably quiet. You just do not want to rock that boat because those few, treasured moments are more important than, for example, an object that has apparently already been taken out of someone's nose. So, this is what happens:
The players: Mom, Mom's mind (envision the quintessential devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other), Thing Kid One, Thing Kid Two
Kid one: "How did it feel when you pulled it out of your nose?"
Mom's head jerks up and her mind says "What???"
Kid two: "It kind of tickled."
Mom's mind: "What?"  "You do NOT want to go there."  "I've got to ask."  "No you don't. It's already been pulled out of her nose. Everything will be okay."  "I've just got to know, there may be something else in there."  "Noooooo!"
Mom to Kid two: "Wait a minute. What, exactly, did you pull out of your nose?"
Kid two: "A horseshoe."
Trust me, for a nano-second your brain goes absolutely numb.
Mom: "A what?"
Kid two: "A horseshoe." Kid one is nodding furiously.
Mom's mind: "There's no-way a horseshoe was really up her nose."  "I've got to ask."  "No you don't. There really is no way a horseshoe was in her nose. Relax, let it go."
Mom: "Ummmm. Can I see this horseshoe?"
Kid two: "I don't know where it is now."
Mom: "Are you sure whatever it was is really out of your nose?"
Kid two: "Yes." Kid one is nodding again.
Mom's mind:  "See, nothing is really wrong. Just Let It Go."  "I can't do that. I need to find out what was really in her nose and tell her not to put things up there."
Mom: "How did you get a horseshoe in your nose?" Mom's mind: "Do we even have horseshoes?"
Kid two: "I just put it there."
Mom: "What horseshoe was it."
Kid two: "I don't know. Just a horseshoe."
Kid one: "It was one of those, you know, Barbie horseshoes."
Mom's mind: "The Barbie horse is still pretty big and I didn't think it had detachable horseshoes."  "So see, you can let it go. Please let it go."
Mom: "The Barbie horse has horseshoes?"
Kid two shrugs. Kid one: "Well, it's not really the Barbie horse, it's a Stacey, or one of the other small ones."
Mom's mind: " What?? We have something like that?" "I'm telling you, for the sake of our sanity...LET IT GO."
Mom: "Okay, okay. Let's just say you really did put a horseshoe in your nose." Kids one and two are nodding. "Why?"
Kid two: "Because it was blue."
Mom's mind: blank again for a split second, then... I'll admit it. The weaker part of me finally won out.
Mom: "Okay, go play, and don't put anymore horseshoes in your nose."

This conversation made absolutely no sense whatsoever until about two weeks later when I was passing the computer armoire and spied something small and blue right against the bottom edge. I bent down, picked it up, and low and behold, it was a very small blue horseshoe. Turns out it was to a small Kelly doll that had a horse with an entire "take care of the horse" kit. I'd had no idea it actually came with detachable horseshoes. When I brought Kid two in to ask her about it she confirmed it was the horseshoe she had used and that what she had done was put it on the edge of her nose to make it look like a hoop style nose ring she had seen on someone recently in the grocery store. She was showing Kid one what it had looked like. Ahhh - the world makes sense again...for a split second anyway.
Then one of the other girls shouts, "Ewwwww mom! Your holding that thing she had in her nose!"
See? I told you, all was once again right with the world.
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Crockpot Cooking: Potatoes and this and that.

This will be a little different. It's not really a recipe, it's just to let you know of some things you can do with the slow cooker that you might not ordinarialy think of.

First is baked potatoes.
There are plenty of times I have wanted to have baked potatoes, but didn't want to heat up the whole kitchen by running the oven for an hour. Then there were times I was going to be out in the afternoon and wouldn't be there the hour before supper time in order to start potatoes. This may seem kind of duhh, but it took me awhile before I ever considered baking potatoes in the crock pot.  If you've never done it, it's really simple. You just wash them well and put them in the pot with a little water in the bottom. You don't need to poke holes in them, or cut the ends off, or anything else I've ever heard people say they do to potatoes before they bake them; I don't do it and I've never had a potato explode. The water keeps the skin from drying out, especially if you're going to cook them for a long time. Maybe that's why they don't explode(?). Cook them on high or low depending on how long it will be before you want to serve them. They do need at least three hours to cook this way. My Dad would argue that the potatoes are steamed rather than being baked, but hey, they're cooked. We love to have a loaded potato and a big salad for supper. In fact, that's what we had last night.

Second is leftovers.
Many leftovers aren't nearly as good because reheating them tends to dry them out. There are many things I reheat in the crock pot because it helps keep this from happening. Or, we can take leftover chicken and dumplings (which is one of the things I prefer to reheat in a crockpot), chili, or soup to church with us and it will reheat during service, or put it on before we leave and it will be ready when we get home.

The next tip is something I think I've mentioned before, but it's worth repeating. Heating bread on top of the pot while you're cooking the other food. I just wrap the bread in aluminum foil and lay in on the lid, or I may use a cookie sheet in place of the lid so I'll have a larger, flat surface to use for heating the bread. This works like a charm. I've used it for regular, homemade loaf bread, rolls, cornbread, and tortillas.

I also use my crockpot to keep things warm that I cooked ahead of time for large family gatherings. Sometimes I'll cook the food the day before and put it in the pot to reheat, or sometimes I'll cook it earlier and transfer it to the crock pot and turn it on the warm setting. I always look for pots with a warm selection on them. Pintos are something I like to cook the day before a gathering, or very early on, and then keep warm/reheat in the slow cooker. I know you can cook pintos in a crock pot. I've known many people who do it, but there's something about the way they cook up in the crock pot that I don't care for as much as beans cooked in an open pot on the stove top. I don't know why - that's just me. By cooking beans, veggies, or mashed potatoes ahead of time and keeping them warm in the crock pot, it frees up the stove top the last hour or two for other things, like mac and cheese, or turkey gravy.

These are just a few additional ways I utilize my slow cooker.
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

A to Z

I got this from a post at Mumma's Place.

A - Age:  41
B - Bed size: I prefer to sleep sitting up.
C - Chore you dislike: cleaning out the fridge.
D - Dogs: no.
E - Essential to start your day: brushing my teeth.
F - Favorite color: blue, green and red.
G - Gold or silver: gold.
H - Height: 5'7"
I - Instrument play(ed): piano(a little), flute, piccolo, baritone saxophone, Jamacian steel drums, marimbas.
J - Job title: chief cook and bottle washer was my mom's name for it, but we never did bottles.
K- Kids: 5
L - Live: central North Carolina
M- Mom's name: what else? Mom.
N - Nickname: Becky
O - Overnight hospital - only for childbirth.
P- Pet peeves: whining, and yes, you can keep you kid from doing it.
Q - Quotes from a movie: "I do not play this instrument so well as I should wish to, but I always supposed that to be my fault because I would not take the trouble of practicing."
R - Righty or lefty: righty
S - Siblings: 2 brothers; three step brothers too, but I did not grow up with them.
T - Time you wake up: it fluctuates.
U - Uniform: something easily washable
V - Vegetable you don't like: celery
W - What makes you run late: kids who wait 'til I say, "Let's go!" before they run frantically around the house trying to find shoes that for once aren't on the floor in the living room (or if they are, they're under the sofa).
X - X-rays you've had: feet and ankles, both sides.
Y - Yummy food you make: uhhh, chicken and dumplings, barbeque, twice baked potatoes, carmel sauce...there's not enough room here.
Z - Zoo animal favorites - polar bears.
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Crockpot Cooking: Lasagna

I like making this to take to the covered dish fellowship meal our church has the first Sunday of each month.
I prepare it in the slow cooker Saturday afternoon or evening, put it in the fridge overnight, and it's all ready to go first thing in the morning.


Noodles - almost anything but lasagna noodles
Spaghetti sauce
Cheese of your choice

I wasn't at all on top of my game Saturday night, so I forgot to get pictures until I was halfway done. First I put in a thin layer of spaghetti sauce, then I added a layer of noodles. One thing to remember here - you do not want to cook the noodles completely or they will turn to mush during the slow cooking in the crock pot later on. I cooked these rotini noodles for about 7 minutes this time, I may even cut it to 6 min. next time. We've also used farfalle (bow-tie) pasta and egg noodles. In my opinion, it's not worth the time necessary to try and fit rectangular lasgna noodles in an oval pot. Plus it's much easier for everyone (especially the children) to scoop out what they want when the pasta is already in small pieces.
Then add a layer of sauce. Ours was leftover from the spaghetti we had for supper on Friday.
Then motzerella. I prefer to use the finely shredded stuff when I do this in the crock pot. It melts easier. As you can probably see, I nearly added the cheddar before I took the picture.
And finally, the cheddar and parmesan. I was tired, so I took the easy way out and used the kind in the can though I prefer the taste of the freshly grated much better. As you can see, two complete layers of the noodles, sauce and cheese pretty much filled the pot. I put the lid on, pulled the crock out of the base, and put it in the fridge overnight. About an hour before we left for church, we took it out of the fridge and turned it on high until we were ready to leave. Then once we got to church we turned it on medium high (the 6hr setting on my pot) and it cooked for about 2 hours, until we started setting up for the meal.

You could probably put this in the crock pot at lunch time and it would be ready by supper if you turned it on low.

This is usually a big hit at covered dish meals and I almost never bring any home.
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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Gratituesday: God's work in our lives.

We never truly understand it this side of heaven.
Often, we strain against it.
Occasionally we give up, let go, and watch it happen.
That's probably when God does His best work.

I love the poem a the bottom of this post. I don't know for sure who wrote it; I found it attributed to two different people, but usually it had author unknown on it. I've also seen it, more often that not, without the last stanza. It does seem a little different than the rest, and may have been added by someone else later, but I like it, so I put it in. Although I've had a copy of this poem in one of my planners for years, I came across a copy of it on a blog written by someone who actually does weaving while I was trying to find out who wrote it. She told how she couldn't really appreciate this poem for all it was until she had started weaving. She explained how the underside of a tapestry, especially while you're working on it, often looks a mess. She described the process of developing the design, and how, though you may have already woven many feet of a tapestry, you can only see about 10 inches of it at a time. You cannot see the whole, beautiful work in it's entirety until the work is completely finished and you remove it from the loom. She had pictures of a tapestry she was working on posted on her site to help understand how different it looks during the weaving process. For me it looked very confusing, I could only make out a few small bits and pieces. But I'm sure for her, since she was the one designing and weaving it, it made much more sense. She had the whole, wonderful design all formed out in her mind. I don't really know much about weaving, but I'm sure there are many things that can come along and interfere with her original plan. Being skilled, she can make adjustments and still end up with a gorgeous design.

I think that's how God works in us. He had a wonderful plan, that we often interfere with, but He can still pull together a beautiful piece, especially if we eventually learn to allow Him to work. It may look like a mess to us and we can only see a very small bit at any give time, but to the master weaver it's all just a part of a wonderous work that He will one day pull off the loom.

My life is but a weaving
Between my Lord and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He works so steadily.

Oft times he weaves in sorrow,
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the underside.

Not till the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unroll the tapestry
And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needed,
In the weaver's skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver,
In the pattern he has planned.

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing the truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.
-Author unknown

I'm am grateful for God's continued work in my life.
Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!
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Monday, March 7, 2011

Crockpot Cooking: Pulled Pork

This is another one you can do in a crockpot, if the roast isn't too big, or a roaster oven. Mine was done in a roaster oven because I was doing two.

Pulled Pork

Boston Butt Roast
Your choice of seasoning salts or blends
Bay Leaves
Liquid Smoke

You can use whatever seasoning blend(s), pepper(s), herb blend(s) you like. What I used was nearly equal parts Lawry's seasoned salt and Tony Chachere's original creole seasoning, a little less Adolf's seasoned meat tenderizer, and then smaller amounts of McCormick's salt free garlic herb blend, rubbed sage, garlic pepper, and black pepper. You want to make sure there's enough seasoning to very generously coat the entire outside of the roast. It may seem like a lot of salt, but remember it will all be mixed into the whole cut of meat once it's cooked. I like to mix mine together and put it in a shaker jar with reasonably large holes; the pepper is larger than the other things and you want it to all come out evenly. You can sprinkle each thing on individually if you want, but I find this to be more trouble than it's worth since you have to keep one hand clean to handle all the spice bottles.
This was taken after it had been cooking for a little while, quite frankly because I forgot to do it sooner. The roasts were liberally coated with seasonings and placed fat side up in the pan. I add a 1/2" of water to the bottom of the pan, along with 2-3 bay leaves and several drops of liquid smoke per roast. I put the bay leaves and liquid smoke in the water, not on the roast. I know other recipes don't call for water, but it keeps the dripping stuff from burning before there is enough accumulated for it to stop burning on it's own, plus it keeps the liquid smoke from burning.
Cook the roast on low in a crockpot, or 250 degrees in a roaster or regular oven, for 8-10 hours. If your roast was completely or partially frozen you might want to bump the temp up a little (no more than 300), but that depends on the size of your roast. You want to cook this low and slow to ensure tender meat.
When the meat is done, allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes before chopping. The meat will just fall apart and usually has a blade bone in it, so be careful with your knife. You can chop it as fine as you like; we like ours kind of roughly chopped.

My dip recipe is similar to Lexington style dip, but it's a little thicker because I use a larger ratio of ketchup. I like my dip to cling to the meat instead of running through it. It's also not as sweet as some I've had, but you can add more sugar if you want. Amounts given are approximations since I don't typically measure, especially the spices. I just add things in, let it simmer a little, taste it, and then add some more if I think it needs it. The amount of vinegar, water and ketchup are pretty much spot on though.

Barbeque Dip

2c. vinegar - white or apple cider
1 & 3/4c. ketchup
1/2c. water
1/4-1/3c. brown sugar
2tsp. salt
1 &1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4-1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
red pepper flakes
garlic pepper
black pepper
you can use a few drops of liquid smoke if you don't have smoked paprika
If I'm near the bottom of a jar of unfiltered apple cider vinegar I'll mix it half and half with white, but you can use whatever you like. If you think it will be too strong on the vinegar you could use less vinegar and more water, or, if you've already mixed it, you can add some more water and ketchup. We like it with a strong vinegar bite. Also, as this cooks, and later sits, it will get a little hotter, so keep that in mind when your adding the hot stuff.
Mix together the vinegar, water, ketchup, sugar, and salt and set it to start heating on no more than a medium heat. Add a little each of the other spices, and once it has simmered for a few minutes start tasting and adjusting it until you like it.

I've been working on my recipe for years and I get rave reviews on my barbeque, but each person is different. Don't be afraid to expirement. Just keep trying different combinations until you come up with something you and your family likes. If you follow the general directions you will at least come up with something edible, so you don't have to worry about wasting food. If your dip really flops you can always put a little of the bottled stuff on it. It will still taste good and make a fine sandwich.
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Saturday, March 5, 2011

New cooking post on Monday

Sorry, I won't be able to post another crockpot recipe until Monday. I didn't use the crockpot yesterday, but I am using it today, well, sort of. I'm actually using the roaster oven, but you can do it in a crock pot. I'm making pulled pork for Ri's engagement dinner tonight, but I'll be too busy to download pictures and post about it tonight.

We're having some of Superman's close family and some of our own so everyone can get to know one another a little better.

I hope you'll all look forward to the pulled pork recipe on Monday. I'll even try to include my own version of Lexington style barbeque dip to go along with it.
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Thursday, March 3, 2011

We're not just cooking around here.

I know that the majority of my posts recently have revolved around cooking, specifically crockpot cooking, but we've been plenty busy with other things as well.

A good deal of what we've been doing is sewing. Or washing and ironing fabric, and cutting things out to sew.

This is the yellow fabric I'll be using for Ri's quilt. She loves sunflowers, so I'll be making a sunflower quilt using a dresden plate design.
It looks far more managable once it's all been neatly ironed and folded. One of the fabrics is some scrap left from a dress a made for Ri when she was about 12. Another is scrap from a dress I made for T.Lynn a few years ago. I don't have much in the way of yellow scraps, but I just happened to have these two, and I knew Ri would love using them in her quilt, especially T.'s. She always complained that the other two had been too big, and she too small to hold them much. Kay had gotten to play second mom to them, so when T. came along, Ri was quick to claim her as her own baby.
I haven't forgotten Beenie's quilt. I've finished making all the double triangle squares, and entirely completed several more blocks. I know, the sewing table is a mess, but there is some organization there. The quilt pieces are on the front right, and though you can't see it the completed quilt squares are on the left along with some extra fabric, Ri's quilt fabric, the washcloths I've knitted for her hope chest, and some mending. Directly above the quilt pieces you can see are some notions for projects I'll be working on in the next couple of weeks. The pin cushion in the bottom left of the picture is one I made to keep in the new sewing basket I broke down a bought since I've started to teach sewing. I used some scrap I had from the pincushion I made for Ri at Christmas.
There are several fabrics here waiting to be cut out. The blue on the left is some for a skirt Ri is making for Bree. She is actually making several skirts for her and a couple of the other girls. What looks like two more blue fabrics on the right are a denim for a painting apron for Bree, and a dress for me, though the dress material is really more of a purple. The orange check will be a shirt for Bree. The other cut pieces are for receiving blankets, shoulder bags, a tissue holder, and aprons for T.Lynn - that would be the cherries and froggies. The pale green at the top will be made into bias tape that I'll use to finish the edge of a hooded towel I'm making, using the elephant cross stitch that I finished not long ago. Other projects that I'll be working on, some of which are cut out but not in this picture, are a small zippered bag, a travel sewing kit, and some wrap pouches/cases for my knitting needles, crochet hooks, make-up brushes, and crayons/colored pencils (these are for the younger two to take in the car).

I've also been doing a fair amount of crocheting lately. I'm making a new shawl for myself, similar to one I already have. Instead of being in the shape of a triange (or a square folded like a triangle), or more like a really big scarf, like most shawls are, this one is like a large rectangle with a cut made on one of the short sides and going about halfway down the length - well, not really a cut. It was two long thin rectangles sewn together halfway up the length of the long side. I've seen them described as afgan style shawls and I guess they really do look like an afgan if they are laid out straight. All I know is that they stay put on my shoulders without my having to hold or pin them together. I love the two I have, but one of them is getting pretty shabby looking.

This is certainly enough to keep me out of trouble for a little while.
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