Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Anyone care for a lollipop?

Our friends, Bob and Annette, spent two nights with us in the cabin.  Bob is an inventive cook and he came prepared to cook an amazing meal for us.

He took two racks of lamb for the four us and and cut them into chops and frenched the legs.  They were grilled over gas and glazed with a fantastic tasting sauce.  Strangely enough, I have never thought of making chops out of a rack of lamb.

Just a short time on each side on the hot grill and then brushed with the glaze and again just a short time on each side.  This was absolutely delicious and we will make this again and again.

Glaze for the Lollipop Lamb

For one rack of lamb, this is an estimate of the glaze

1/8 cup honey  (if using agave, use a bit less since it is sweeter)
1/8 cup Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 Tablespoon horseradish
Salt and Pepper

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bonjour from the West

A good French wish for you this morning!  I fell in love with this sign immediately and I did not find it in France.  Found it in a delightful little gift shop in Philipsburg, Montana, where my friend Chris works.  Go check out her blog.  The sign is stenciled on old tin that was so prevalent on the ceilings out West.

First of all, we did not go to the Bahamas for our anniversary.  That was my mistake for not taking care with my writing.  I had placed that phrase under our wedding picture.  We went to the Bahamas on our honeymoon so long ago.  Not this year.

After spending a month in a travel trailer, which I truly loved, we are now in the cabin we have been renting for the last 5 years.  It is definitely roomier, but we are a little higher in altitude and it still gets cold here in the night.  One morning this week we woke up 37 degrees.  We do have a furnace, space heater and fireplace, so it is easier to keep warm than in the trailer.

The Trout goes fishing every day and I am catching up on my reading and we do have satellite TV.  Actually, the first TV we have watched since we left Florida in mid-May.  I kind of stick to HGTV and the Food Channel.  Everything else does not seem worth my time.  We are now on Broadband Internet connection, so I have to watch my time on the computer.  It goes by quickly when there are so many blogs to read.

Doing a little knitting, a little baking and cooking, but mostly the Trout grills so there is not too much to write home about.  I am not saying he does not grill as an expert; just saying it is simple but good grilled food.  This will be home until early October when we start heading east and then south.  We really do enjoy getting out of the Florida heat in the summer.  I only wish we did not have to drive so far.  In the planning stages of trying to make the trip a little easier for us.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Kindle cover

After saying for much too long a time that I did not need a Kindle, I got a Kindle.  I did not think I would enjoy it as much as I do.  But, what I was not willing to do, was spend a large amount of money for a cover.  I soon discovered that there might be a danger with carrying it around in my purse or a bag with scratching of the screen.  So I did a search for a knit, felted cover.  I found the perfect one.

It was quick and easy, felted nicely and I really like it.  I found it on a blog called Musings of a Yarn Mom.  If I was a little more ambitious, this would be fun to make and sell at craft shows.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Our 45th Anniversary

August 6, 1966

I guess it is most surprising to us...that today we are married 45 years.  The number seems to suggest a long, long time ago.  But, in fact, it does not seem that far in the past.

To our beautiful daughters and their husbands, to our four beautiful grandchildren, thanks for the wonderful years of memories.  And to our friends, we look forward to being together with you all for many  years to come.

Off to the Bahamas!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Apricot Jam is finally here.

The continuing story of the Washington state apricots.  A couple of weeks ago, we went to Washington, to the town of Leavenworth, and I had to buy the "green" apricots they were selling.  I knew it would be at least 10 days before we would be in the cabin in Montana before I could make apricot jam.  I remembered seeing Tom's apricot recipe, and since the Trout devoured several jars of apricot jam while we were in France, I knew I had to make this jam.

The lady I bought from told me I could hold off ripening of the apricots for 10 days.  HA!!  Within 5 days, these babies were ready for jam.  PROBLEM:  I was still in the travel trailer and the equipment I needed to make this happen was in the cabin we were renting after August 1.  Luckily, Tom's recipe was flexible.  I got into the cabin early and cooked up the apricots (first step) and froze them until the following week.

Improvise, improvise.  If there would be a banner out there expounding on this subject, today I would be wearing it!!  I am not at home and this is not my kitchen.  Think, Schnitzel, think!!  I had enough apricots for two batches, and dear, patient, Tom, told me to make one batch at a time.  Okay, I did that and froze two batches.

I bought my jelly jars, and all I needed to accomplish this.  Oh yes, at this point the Trout is figuring out the cost of this jam.  (I did not remind him the cost of the Alaskan salmon he brought home several years ago) wink wink

Yesterday morning the stove was blazing.  I got it all completed with a quick trip into (town) to buy more jars because I under-estimated the amount.  Can you imagine my heartbeat at this moment in time?  I am in small town Montana and canning jars are often not to be found.

Alas, all is well this evening.  I have 16 jars of perfectly canned "Alsatian Apricot Jam."  I am waiting for breakfast to sample, but our neighbor, Louie, got a jar and already has eaten it spread on hotcakes and toast for dinner and he is jumping up and down!!

Please, let me give Tom credit for posting this recipe here.  I think it is the ultimate, easiest recipe.  If you can get fresh apricots, this must be tried.


Adapted from Mes Confitures:  The James and Jellies of Christine Ferber
and Tom from Tall Clover Farm

3 pounds fresh apricots
12 ounces dried apricots
4 cups sugar
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1 orange
zest of 1 orange
2 vanilla beans
10 ounces of Gewurtraminer wine

Chop dried apricots, placed in bowl, add Gewurtztraminer, soak overnight.

Quarter fresh apricots, remove seeds.  In non-reactive pan, add fresh apricots, sugar, orange zest/juice, lime juice and vanilla.  Simmer for 10 minutes, mixing all ingredients together until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat, cover and refrigerate overnight.  (It is at this point that I froze the apricots.)

Next day, add dried apricot mixture to fresh apricot mixture. Stirring, simmer until thickens and remove vanilla beans.  Put the jam in jars and seal in water bath.

My vanilla beans, which I bought in France, are waiting for my return in Ohio at my daughter's house.  Therefore, I was not going to buy more vanilla beans.  I used a couple of drops of good vanilla instead.

This recipe will be a must in the future.  Next summer, I will be bringing a lot of canning equipment to Montana.  Did you hear that Trout?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

OK, a little repeat on the peas

Sometimes the obvious to me is not to someone else.  I have had at least three requests asking how I make creamed peas.  You see, I thought everybody did this.  Now I am almost embarrassed to tell you what I do, because I think I invented this myself.

I really was not allowed in my mother's kitchen much, unless it was in the preparing of the food or the clean-up.  Being a strong German, she simply did not want me to mess up her kitchen.  Speaking to my friends that I grew up with, they share some of the same reflections.

But, I digress.  Here is how I cream peas.  Actually there are two ways.  Barely cover the peas with enough water and simmer them gently until they are softened.  Not too long.  I then prepare in a cup some cream, half and half or milk and add enough cornstarch or flour to make a thickened slurry.  When the peas are almost done, stir this slurry mixture into the peas and continue cooking until the peas are thickened nicely with a beautiful cream sauce.  Of course, salt and pepper to taste.  Cornstarch works best this way so that you don't have the raw flour taste.

The other way I do it is, again, simmer the peas in just enough water.  In a separate pan, I make a roux of butter and flour and brown slightly.  When the peas are done, I pour the water the peas have been cooking in, into the roux and stir the sauce.  If it is too thick, since I am just going by guess and by golly, add some milk or cream which is a nice topper for the butter flavored roux.

There you go.  Oh yes, I almost forgot.  When my daughters were young, I often made a roux and added it to the liquid of a can of peas and then added the peas back in.  This helps make the canned peas taste just a little better.

Now, this morning I have all my little soldiers in a row, so I am going to finish my apricot jam.  I hope to tell you about it tomorrow.