Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Beam me up Scotty!

It appears that my little town experienced an alien abduction the morning after Christmas.   You know, if you follow my blog that I have No Mad Photography Skilz.  Therefore this is exactly what I saw from my Table that morning, minus bad photo distortion.  You can faintly see the lake in the back ground, this is just NW of the lake.  I'm thinking maybe the Pelicans have some secrets.  Here is a close-up, or rather, bad zooming to the 2 mile away target.  No it's not a reflection off the lake, the lake is frozen

Gotta love our Inversions.

Peanutty Chocolate Truffles

I tried a new candy this year.   Earlier in the fall I was mixing up a concoction of Hot cocoa mix, extra cocoa powder and Chocolate Complete Shake and Protein Shake to put in a large #10 can for the kids to use.  I figure they may as well get a little nutrition out of it, right?   Anyway it was also using up my 4 yr old cocoa packets.   As I was emptying them, I happened to notice they had recipes on them.  One was for Peanutty Chocolate Truffles.    I set one of those empty packets aside for further study.  Christmas was coming soon and what better time to make candy?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chocolate Fudge

We didn't have a lot of luck with the fudge this year.   I usually make mint chocolate, this year I tried by adding some mint Lindt (which is yummy by itself) it wasn't quite what I usually do.  I discovered that I need a new thermometer.  While it worked fine with my PB fudge it wasn't working with my toffee or chocolate fudge.  ???    I also did the spoon test and the cold water test so it wasn't so bad.  I just went with my gut.  It was definately edible!  
This is the recipe I used this year.  Aunt Teen's Creamy Chocolate Fudge.  I used a mix of all dark chocolate, no milk and added the marshmallow after the other ingredients had all melted/combined.  I also left out the nuts since it was mint.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Toads

My husband likes to make Christmas treats with pretzels.  And who am I to stop him?  This year was no different.  They always have a little something different each year.    The name came about because he started calling them turtles and my daughter said they didn't look like turtles, so, they became toads.  They are a bit toad-like at that.  

This year he decided to pair the nuts with the pretzels and just use dark chocolate to bind them.  I really like the less-sweetness of them.   He also made a batch with peanut butter and chocolate.  I liked the plain chocolate best but the pb ones were ok too.   In the past they have included marshmallow and pb and caramel.  Sometimes totally covered in chocolate.    I wonder what will evolve next year?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gingerbread Tradition

One of may favorite traditions in our family is the annual Gingerbread house. Every year we do something a little different. This year we made a Gingerbread Barn.   Everyone gets to decorate a different side so it looks a little off balance but it's all for fun.  The kids main goal is to get as much candy on as they can.  That seems to be Dad's goal too, now that I think about it.   Mom's main job is designing, and baking.  That is a lot of gingerbread people.  Since I can only fit one side at a time on the pan it takes a good part of the day to roll it all out and bake. 

Here is the barn before it got decorated.  I always seem to forget which goes outside, the front or sides, so this time I got it wrong so to fix it the corners got a little extra frosting.

Mom's side is always a bit minimalistic.  If you look close you can see the animals inside.
Cow in the headlights!

Age 13 did the roofs.

Age 9's side.

Dad and age 5.11.5 worked together this year.

They also worked together on the back.  Although I suggested the Bremen Town Musicians.  Kid's don't know that story anymore though, even mine, I haven't seen a book with it anywhere.

The kids (including dad) can't wait until Christmas day when I allow them to dig in.  I'm sure a few pieces will disappear between now and then though.   

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Peanut Butter Fudge

Christmas is the best!  When else do we get to make loads of candy and cookies and not feel too guilty about it? This year I'm running behind on the goodies.  I'm going to have to really hurry to catch up.  Maybe those Christmas cards will have to wait until Valentines day.    I may like to make a lot of stuff but I am small potatoes compared to my Mother-in-law and Sister-in-law.  Last time I was there for Christmas it was hard to keep away from the goodie-laden counter.

We've started out the season with a little Peanut butter Fudge.  It's been a few years since I made this and couldn't remember which recipe I liked best.  So I started with the marshmallow recipe.  The good thing about fudges made with marshmallow is they tend to end up creamier than without.  I remember making fudge (with black walnuts from our back yard!) with my parents when I was younger and they would have to beat it a long time.  Not so necessary with the marshmallows.  Maybe later I will have to try the other recipe, this one is fine but I wish it had a more peanutty flavor.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Beef Stir-Fry

It has been a while since posting. Thanksgiving vacation got in the way. We took a trip to Sunny San Diego and skipped the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with or without family. It was a nice change but Christmas is also not seeming to make an appearance in our house due to being thrown off with the vacation. It's going to have a wait a while longer while I get over this cold I have developed today too.

But to update the blog a bit I pulled out this bad picture of my beef stir-fry. By now you know I am far from a good food photographer. Sorry.

I like bean sprouts in my stir-fry and this particular time I had a lot. Here is the recipe I made, more or less if you haven't figured that out by now.

1 pound flank steak cut small and thin
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 carrot sliced
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 cups bean sprouts
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Combine steak, soy sauce and water in bowl and mix well
heat oil in pan and add steak. Cook till meat is no longer pink. Add Carrots and green onions, and ginger and cook a few minutes longer. Add Sprouts, almonds, oyster sauce, chili-garlic sauce, and soy sauce. Cook another minute until sprouts are desired tenderness.

Serve over rice.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Ahh,  The new toy.
I bought this beautifully hand-crafted Tortilla press hot off the press from my brother-in-law.  He happens to be a master craftsman and I literally happened to be at the right place at the right time.  He was turning out about 10 of these little beauties and I was lucky enough to snag one the minute he was done.

It took me a while to get a chance to use it however.   I started with flour tortillas.  Here is the recipe I used.  I Think they ended up a little puffy, but good.  They were more like what I have grown up with as "fry-bread." 

Flour Tortillas
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup very hot water

Combine flours, baking powder and salt.  Cut in the shortening.  Add water a little at a time until a nice dough forms.  If it's too sticky add more flour.   I forgot to buy baking powder AGAIN and ended up using half soda and half cream of tartar.   I'm not sure if that contributed to the puffiness I had. 

Place 2 inch dough blob on plastic-wrap lined press.   Press.  lift and turn tortilla 90deg. 

Press again.  

So easy a child can do it.

Fry in pan.

We served ours like tacos.  Yum.  

Monday, November 16, 2009

Carmel Dip

Apples and Carmel Dip.   I was looking for a simple treat to take to a glutein free gathering and fruit was on my mind but I was having a hard time thinking of something not baked.   I'm not sure what prompted it, but, carmel dip seemed to be the answer.

This recipe was given to me by a past neighbor.    She always seemed to have a fun sweet treat when we had our YW meetings.

Carmel Dip

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup corn syrup
1/8 teas. salt

Combine all ingredients in saucepan and bring to a boil.  continue to boil to soft stage.  (I like mine a little less thick)
Remove from heat and stir in 1 tsp vanilla.
 Serve warm, it's easier to dip that way.  Not Hot, just warm, we don't want any burns.

Shhh, don't tell,  but when I made this last, these pictures, I accidentally left out the corn syrup.   It still turned out alright, I only let it boil about 1  minute but as soon as it cooled it sugared up or started crystlizing.   I didn't realize I had left it out until just now as I copied the recipe.  I thought something was wrong but I couldn't figure it out.  Now I know and so do you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A View From My Table

Today I don't have any of my own creations to show.  However I wanted to share the view from my table, Another's creation.   We get awesome Sunrises out here.  One of the many benefits of where I live.  This is indeed the view from my table, only with the neighbors house chopped off the bottom. I wish my camera/photo talents could really catch the beauty.  Moments like these are truly Good-table moments.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cinnamon Burst Bread

What am I going to do with all these little hard white wheat grains?  Well lets go on a little journey shall we?  Picture picture will you help us please?  Thank you neighbor.   First we magically get little wheat grains from the store.  (Picture picture was lacking in pre getting product home footage.)
Put the wheat in your handy hand-me-down, for which you are truly thankful, wheat grinder.  After a few minutes of loud processing you get lovely flour. 

A little of this, a little of that, mix it up, knead and grow. Ooh look kids, a big blob of dough!

Thank you Picture picture, wasn't that fun kids?  Bread is so yummy.  Come on, let's go into our kitchen.

Be careful.  If you make this bread it will probably not even get a chance to cool off in your kitchen.   It is good.  Very good.  My muffin top can tell you all about it.   Dip in egg mix and you've got a great french toast.  Spread a bit of cream cheese frosting and you've got a yummy desert. It makes a great neighbor gift.  Oh won't you be my neighbor.
It's also easy.  the hardest part is obtaining the special Cinnamon bites.  These are not the Cinnamon 'chocolate' chips you get in the chocolate chip aisle.  These are hard little pellets that you can obtain here or perhaps at a specialty or health food store. The orginal recipe is found here.  The only difference is I used half whole wheat flour.

Cinnamon Burst Bread - Makes 4 Loafs
3 T. yeast
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs, beaten lightly
3 3/4 cup warm water
4 1/2 tsp. salt
3 T. vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups cinnamon bites
6 cups Whole wheat flour
5-6  cups  white flour

Combine in mixing bowl 4 cups flour, yeast, and sugar. Add water, eggs, and oil. Beat well to “cake batter” stage. Stir in salt, cinnamon bites, and 7 more cups flour to make bread-dough consistency. Let mixer knead it to the right texture (add up to 1 more cup flour if needed). Place dough in greased bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour. Shape dough into 4 loaves. Let rise for another hour or until doubled. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Thank you thank you to my great Sister-in-law for her donation of cinnamon flav-r-bites.  Apparently where she got them no longer sells them.  Lets hope we find a good substitute store.  The world would be a sadder place with out this bread.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cream Cheese Cookies

These just beg "Pick me up and put me in your mouth."

What I like about these cookies is the tartness from the cream cheese filling that tones down the other sweet flavors.  This time I chose to top them with a mixture of white c-chips and butterscotch or semi-sweet chips.  I haven't used butterscotch on them before and really liked the flavor.   For holidays they are fun to top with whatever fun chips your store sells, such as striped green and white.  I am sure they would lend themselves well to other toppings.   While they are made in mini muffin tins, they are still more than a bite-full. 

Monday, November 2, 2009

Succulent Braised Pork

Time to try another new recipe.  This time it was Succulent Braised Pork from Melissa d'Arabian on Food Network.  It can be found here.
Mine didn't come out looking anything like hers did.  Hers was dark and mine was more orange.
It tasted alright but it wasn't anyone's favorite.  It was on the sweeter side and my boys would have liked it to be spicier.  Of course as always I did substitute a few things, although I tried to stick with it pretty good. It was easy to make and that is always good.   Sorry I don't have much more to say about this experience.  If you try it and have more to say, please leave a comment.

Friday, October 30, 2009


I said at the beginning of this blog it was a sort of Baking and Craft blog.  Well I am proud to say I finally, the day before Halloween, finished the last of this years halloween crafts.   I am a sucker for cute halloween things to paint.  I am running out of places to put them.    These were all done with acryllic paints.  I really am going to have to invest in my own scroll saw someday.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

Yet another dinner my kids won't eat.  I'm sure with all these comments of what my kids won't eat you are all thinking "Wow, she must really be a lousy cook!"  Well, YOU ALL WOULD BE WRONG.  You should see Taco Salad night.  While hubby and I enjoy a nice big salad with all the fixin's  The kids eat everything separate, meat, beans, cheese, lettuce, chips, etc.  all separate on their plates.    You see, this dish requires several ingredients to be mixed together (see illustration below).  Oddly they like my homemade Chicken soup with almost identical ingredients.  'Sigh'

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween Fun

As always the Monday before Halloween we did pumpkins.  This year we painted them instead of carving.  We only had 1 hour due to dance lessons and cleaning out pumpkins does take a while.  It's also easier for the kids to do and no sharp implements to worry about.  Luckily my paints were not buried in the basement finishing project.  But now they are stuck upstairs for a while, yeah! more stuff to step over.

Robot Pumpkin side 1

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ham and 15 Bean Soup

What could be better on a brisk fall evening than a hot bowl of good soup? Whenever we have ham I always freeze the left-overs for ham-bean soup. It's one of my favorite soups. For whatever reason my boys think they don't like beans, they just pick out the ham and broth. Have I mentioned that my kids are picky yet? I'm sure they get it from me, yup Picky Nicky, never heard that before. But my kids are very picky. Luckily they eat some of it.

This soup is extremely easy to make and that makes it even better. The 15 bean package is sold in most stores around me. Sometimes its 16 bean, whatever. I NEVER use the seasoning packet if one is included. I also often add an extra handful of lentils to stretch and thicken it. 1/2 package fills my 5 1/2 quart pot just about right. I also use the quicker method of boiling the beans because I rarely plan the night before, or even that morning.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tomato Soup

What is a Good Table without family and friends to share it with? I am so excited to have my nephew Ben be my guest blogger. Ok, I begged. He and his wife Chika make such yummy food I couldn't resist. And I love a hot bowl of Tomato Soup!
Been looking to stick it to Campbell's lately? Or maybe you just need to use up a bunch of tomatoes you had to pick before they froze. Well here is the prefect recipe for making your own delicious tomato soup.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Juice Pop pleaser

My 5 yr old has been trying to get mom to pay more attention to him lately. He asks me what I like to do, where I like to go. He knows I can hardly say no to music so he makes me listen to the music on his favorite video game so I will be with him. He knows how to make me feel guilty about not playing with him more. So his idea the other day is to make juice pops in the ice cube tray. Fine, mom has too many chores anyway. He was so excited to do this. Apple juice is his favorite and he was more than happy to go get a new bottle out of the basement, a job he usually begs for someone to go down with him. Putting the toothpicks in was all his job and he jabbered away the whole time. Which he usually does anyway. His teacher's only comment at parent teacher conference was that he was good but a bit talkative. He reassured me how good they were and healthy. I'm not sure why he reassures us or him of things being healthy, perhaps as a way for us to acknowledge his good choices. He waited patiently for them to freeze, although he had little choice in the matter as I had to drag him with me to a council meeting at school then to tennis lessons for my daughter.

The truth is I need to listen to him more and spend more time on his level, and sometimes his level is above or better than mine. It was a good-table moment and a reminder to take more time to do a few little things.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Easy Chocolate Cream Pie

This week has been a kind of rough week for our family. So in an attempt to help lighten the mood around here I decided to make pie. Two of my kids will eat cream-type pies. The youngest will pretty much not touch any pie. Any attempt to get him to taste any pie is pretty much failure. Actually last week I did force him to take a bite of the apple pie crust, which I may say was my best crust ever. He finally did so with much grimacing.

Southern Fried Chicken

What better way to start a new blog than with a new recipe. Most of the new recipes I try lately come from the internet. But today I was determined to try something new from one of my many cook books and 100's of pages of jotted recipes from family and friends. I decided to keep the new theme and use a recipe from one of my newest book. This book happens to be a calendar. Paula Deen's 2009 Calendar. I got it for a buck, which is good because most of it is useless, unless I really happened to need a weekly calendar to tote around. I'm not that organized. But I was determined to find a recipe in this particular book to use. After looking through it I settled on her Southern Fried Chicken recipe. My kids might actually eat it and it is a perfect example of my cooking style. Toss that ingredient, change that one, cook in a totally different manner, yup, that about does it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Why A Good Table?

I have wanted to start a blog for a while. Why? I'm not so sure. I wanted to share some things I love doing, mostly Baking and Crafts. I have a plethora of baking blogs I enjoy. That is one reason anyway and the basis on what I chose to make my blog about. This dictionary definition prompted the decision on the name. It was so long and the word table had so many connotations. Namely, for me, the phrase "She keeps a good table."

The dining/kitchen table in my house is almost literally the center of my house. It's the first thing you see when you come into my home. It's between the kitchen and family room. And, it is used for just about everything. Eating, talking, crafts, homework, experiments, general catch-all, etc. I thought about naming it the messy table but didn't want to put any negativity on it. It is truly in a messy state about 80% of the time, everything from crumbs to clutter. I love my table, I think it is very beautiful, however, I keep it covered with an ugly table cloth most of the time.

Because A - I want to protect it's beauty from fork donks and spilled paint etc. B - It's ugly because I'm cheap and cheap doesn't come pretty. C -I don't want to worry about keeping spills from a nice table cloth, then I have two things to worry about. My kids have yet to prove that the table cloth can be removed.

I was very intrigued with the "She keeps a good table" phrase. Although I do consider myself a very good cook, that phrase means more to me. I want more than good food on that table, I want good kids, good family, good times... I would hope that the things that happen around my table can bring good memories and inspire good things in those who gather 'round it.
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