Sunday, July 27, 2014

Time Flies!

It's true.  The older you get, the faster time flies!!!  I have heard that all my life, and now I am living it!  I have no idea where time  has gone?  I am so busy, every day, that blogging has just kind of been pushed aside.  I have tried to keep up with what all of my blogging friends are up to.  But with my camera broken, I haven't made the time to sit down and blog much.  My iphone photos are okay, but it is just not the way I am used to blogging.
My garden is at a bit of a resting period now.  I have harvested all of the corn, broccoli, spinach, swiss chard and cabbage and peas.  I have some new seedlings going of lettuces, squash and cucumbers.  My pumpkins are going like gangbusters.  And the tomatoes are coming in like crazy!  I am making roasted sauce, and freezing it about every other day or so.
The aroma is out of this world.  After it cools, I put it in the food processor and pulse til smooth.  Then jar it up, or freeze it, if I am not going to use it right away.
My sauerkraut is done fermenting, and it is gooooood!!!
I rinsed it of the brine, and repacked it in clean mason jars.
We had grilled Brats the other night.  Heaped with krout, and topped with diced avocado.  To die for!

On the side, some diced cantaloupe fresh from the garden.  Wow!  Today, I am making some homemade Thousand Island dressing and we will have grilled Reuben's on the Panini Press.
One night last week, I made a big ol pot of Chili Mac.  My Mom used to make this a lot when we were at Bass Lake, or at the cabin.  And it was such a great comfort food.
I posted this picture on IG and several asked for the recipe.  Well, I don't make it with a recipe, but here is what I do.
Brown up some lean beef, or turkey.  You can also saute some onion and garlic in there too, if you like.  I then added the prepared sauce from my garden.  I used a lot of it.  Probably equivalent to One large jar of pasta sauce, or a jar and a half.  You can obviously make a smaller portion, but I freeze some for later.  I also add a few Tablespoons of tomato paste for richness.  Then a can of black beans, two cans of corn, a large can of black olives, chopped.  I add a good amount of chili powder to the sauce, which is what changes this to Chili Mac.  I cooked a pound of small shell pasta, and added when al dente.  Don't over cook your pasta!  I always reserve some of the water that the past cooks in.  I add a good ladle or so of the water to the sauce.  Top with some shredded cheese of choice, put the lid on to melt cheese, and enjoy with a nice salad and some garlic toast.
We had our granddaughters here for the weekend  recently, so that Mommy and Daddy could go celebrate their 12th anniversary!  We were busy, busy!!  The only photos I got were in the pool.
Erika brought Noah and Linkyn over on Sunday.  Linkyn is Erika's fiance's daughter.  She is one year younger than Noah.  Such a sweetie.  The four kids all get along so well!!!!
Oh my goodness, how I love these kids!!!!!
We have certainly hit those dog days of summer here.  We have had triple digits for several days in a row.  I broke down and bought some of those black out curtain panels and hung them in our family room.  It has made a tremendous difference when that fierce afternoon sun begins to set, and we can now shut out the heat and the glare for watching the telly.
I got a smoking deal on them.  I had a 30% off coupon for Kohl's and these were on sale, from 50.00 dollars a panel, to 11.00 a panel.  I got them for under 10.00 a panel.  If they had three, I would have gotten another one.  But what a difference they make!!
I snapped this of my grandson the other day, one late afternoon while we were inside avoiding the heat of the day.
There is a new place in town called Live From Memphis.  My girlfriend Sue and I went one night to hear a friend of hers sing at open mic night.  She was terrific.  I called my son and told him to come down and check it out.  As it turned out, he was coming from teaching music lessons, and he had his guitar.  So he went up and did a few songs too.
We all went down again the following Monday night for open Mic, and the place was hopping.  There was an amazing band playing, and several other great musicians for the open mic.  Christopher and Breanne came to see Drew sing.  So did Christine's family and a friend of hers.  The place was packed!  Such a fun energy!

If you live in the Corona area, go check out Live From Memphis!!  It is located at the Dos Logos Shopping Center.  Easy to find, as it is right in front.  They have open mic every Monday night.  They do dueling pianos, and something fun every night!  Go check it out.  And try their sidewinders fries!!!  Yum!
Boy is it ever quiet around here this weekend!!!  Our oldest daughter Gennifer, and her family have left for Boise Idaho on vacation to visit her husband Jake's family.  Our middle daughter Erika, is at the river for a few days.  And our son Drew and his girlfriend are away at the cabin for the weekend to celebrate his girlfriend Christine's 25th birthday.  I can't ever remember a time that all three of our kids and their families were all out of town on the same weekend.  Yesterday we went to Sam's for groceries, and then came home and watched movies, (slept) the rest of the afternoon away.  It was heavenly!!!!
I appreciate all of the inquiries as to why I haven't blogged, and where I have been!  I am A okay, and all is well.  Just busy, and finding it a little difficult to blog without my camera!!!  
Have a great day!!!
XO  Kris

Friday, July 11, 2014

What's Cooking?

 My garden has been so bountiful that I have found myself spending a LOT of time in the kitchen, preparing different things with all of it.  One day last week, I made a sort of fresh grilled veggie salsa with all of it.  I started with several ears of corn.  I just lightly brushed with olive oil, and then put them onto a screaming hot grill pan.  Turning every couple minutes to get those grill marks on all sides.  Season with salt and pepper.
I took those off to cool, and began to add a bunch of other veggies.  Broccoli, bell peppers, onion, jalapeno peppers.
Toss in a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill.
I have a Lodge cast iron grill pan, and I love it!

The smell is so good that you are going to want to dig in right away!  After the rest of the veggies are grilled on all sides, remove to cool.  Meanwhile, I removed the corn from the cob into a large bowl.  Adding in all of the rest after giving them a rough chop.
I chopped up some fresh tomatoes and added those to the dish.  Simply stir and check for seasoning.  It needing nothing else.  The flavor was so good.  You could eat it with chips.  Serve it as a salad.  Really yummy, and versatile.  I put it in glass jars, and gave my girls each one, and we brought one to the mountains and ate it with chips out on the boat.  Then, a couple of nights later, we heaped it onto our grilled hot dogs!  DELISH!!
I have also been harvesting an awful lot of basil!  I made pesto in a big batch, and froze some in ice cube trays, and put some in a jar to make a pasta dish with.

I rarely buy pine nuts for my pesto anymore.  They are so expensive, and I find that the flavor of the pesto is just as good, made with either sunflower seeds, or walnuts.  Much less expensive and a good substitute.  I blend several cloves of garlic, with my nuts, add parmesan cheese.  Put basil leaves in processor, and pulse.  Stream in your olive oil to desired consistency.  I like it a little bit thick for using as pizza sauce.  Season with salt and pepper, and there you go, a delicious sauce to use in many different ways.  As a base for your pizza, sandwiches, pasta,  put a dollop on fresh grilled fish.  Yum!
I made some home made vanilla ice cream to take up to Big Bear with us.  I have a Cuisinart machine that makes it in about 25 minutes.  But what put this batch of vanilla over the top, was a topping I made for it, out of fresh peaches and basil.  Yes, basil.  I saw this in one of my Pioneer Woman cookbooks.  I thought it sounded interesting, and there on the counter top, were several ripe fresh peaches, and a beautiful bunch of basil.  So, I made it.  And glad I did!
I had ripe peaches and nectarines, so I used both.  Peeled the peach, not the nectarine.   First make a simple syrup with equal parts sugar and water.  I used one cup each.  Cool syrup, and in your blender or processor, pour cooled syrup in, then add several basil leaves.  I can't remember what the recipe said, maybe 18. I didn't count them.  I just tore off a bunch and threw them in.  Pulse to blend.  Then add your diced fruit.  
Hers was more blended.  But let me tell you.....this is a delightful topping.  Refreshing and light.  So, so good!
I could have just slurped it right out of the jar without the ice cream!  It is an odd combination, but trust me, it works!!
The other day, I just so happened to catch The Chew.  It must have been on Wednesday, because Noah wasn't here, and the telly wasn't tuned to his shows.  They made these quick and easy Energy Balls.  I am not certain of the measurements, or ingredients.  But I will tell you what I did.  
One cup, or so, of whole oats.  About 1/4 to 1/3 creamy natural peanut butter.  About 1/4 cup or so of honey.  1/4 cup, or desired amount of chocolate chips.  A generous teaspoon of vanilla.  And a handful of natural coconut chips (chopped)  Blend in large bowl until holds together.  If dry, add more peanut butter and/or honey.  I lightly sprayed my hand with cooking spray and rolled into one inch balls.  Place on waxed paper and let harden in fridge.  That is, if they last long enough to make it into the fridge!  I made a second batch today!  YUMMY!!!
Because we have so many fresh tomatoes, and lettuces and avocados, and because it is HOT.....I make simple dinners.  One night we had a BLT with avocado on hot dog buns.  We were out of bread, but had a few buns left over from the 4th, so why not?
I lightly toasted the buns in the toaster oven, and then some mayo, and began to layer on the goodies.  We both loved them!
The other day I harvested all of my cabbage!  I can't remember how many now, but something like 40 cabbages!
What does one do with 40 heads of cabbage?  Well, I shredded up several heads, and we had a beautiful Chinese Chicken Salad last night.
My Mama gave me this recipe many years ago, and I make it a lot!  I didn't use all of that shredded cabbage.  About half.  I saved some for other meals.  So to several cups of shredded cabbage, add the breast meat of a rotisserie chicken, or any chicken you have cooked.  Several green onions, toasted sesame seeds.  Toasted slivered almonds.  Crush the ramen noodles of package of top ramen, discarding the seasoning packet....patooey!   I often add sugar snap peas, and a can of bright orange mandarin oranges to this too.  Toast your sesame seeds and almonds for maybe 5 minutes on 250.    Add chicken, onions, seeds, nuts, and ramen to bowl.  
For dressing:
1 cup vegetable or canola oil.  1/2 cup rice vinegar.  About 21/2 to 3 T granulated sugar.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Whisk well, and pour over salad just before serving.  Toss all together, and enjoy!  
Not a very good photo, but ever so good!  I assure you!
Yesterday, I decided to try my hand at making sauerkraut with all of my cabbages. So I watched several You Tube videos, and looked at recipes and got busy.  I shredded cabbage for what seemed like hours!  I used my Pampered Chef mandoline.
It is easy, but time consuming.  After my arm nearly fell off from slicing, I wound up with two large containers of kraut.  It will take about 2-4 weeks for it to ferment and be ready.  I will let you know.  
That sure doesn't look to me like a lot of cabbage!  But you shred it, then salt it, then press, press, press it down with a potato masher.  It releases liquid, and then it sits down in the brine.  I can hardly wait to make some beer steamed brats and smother them in homemade sauerkraut!
Nearly every day, I am bringing armloads of veggies into the house.

So what's a girl to do?  She cooks!!!  Thanks for coming by to see me today.  I so enjoy my garden and sharing what I do with it, with all of you.  I love to cook, and gardening is tailor made for someone like me.
Have a great weekend!!!
XO  Garden Girl Kris

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Big Bear Weekend

Where oh where does time go?  Summer is in full swing.  It is hot, hot, hot!!!  We went to Big Bear for the 4th of July weekend.  It was quite a different holiday weekend for us, as all of our children and their families were doing other things.  In years past, we always spent the 4th in Newport.  That is where our two girls and their families went.  My brother Dave has a boat there, and he graciously hosted the whole gang.  I have to admit, I was sure wishing I was there too.  Maybe next year.  Our son Drew was with his girlfriend and her family in Arizona.  So it was a quiet time for us in the mountains, but we still managed to have a lot of fun, and squeeze a lot in.  The first thing I did when we got there, was hang the bunting from the back deck.
We went out on the boat in the morning of July 04, and it was glorious for a couple of hours.
There were very dark and threatening looking clouds forming over the lake, and they were heading straight for us.  We anchored in the bay, and pretty soon our friends Mike and Randy came paddling along in a canoe.  (Look at those wrinkly knees!  Aren't the 50's grand????)
Mike and his wife Lee recently bought a fabulous place right on the water.  It is a stone's throw from my Mom's place.  We are having a lot of fun spending time with them and their family.  Mike's younger sister, Nancy, is a dear friend of mine.  We have been friends for over 40 years.  She was my Maid of Honor in our wedding.  Nancy went to college in Washington State, and made her life there.  So we only got to see one another every few years.  But she is back here now, and I am so happy about that!
Oh dear.  Not a very flattering photo of any of us ladies.  Nancy on the left, me, Tammy, and Lee.  Lee is Mike's wife, and Nancy's sister in law.  Tammy is Lee's sister.  Those two have been joined at the hip since I have known them.
We played a silly card game with them that had us all in stitches!  We laughed so hard!!!  This is a picture of the sun setting on the bay in front of Mike and Lee's house.  So pretty and peaceful.  And so very similar to the view of another lake near and dear to my heart.  Bass Lake.
The lake levels are very low.  Which is the case for all of our California lakes this year.  They have a primo spot on the lake!
This was not actually 4th of July that we were at their cabin.  On the 4th, while out on the lake, we got a big thunder storm.  Complete with lightening, wind, rain, an loud claps of thunder.  We headed in from the lake, and took cover in the cabin to wait it out.
It was actually chilly, and we both got comfy with our blankets, and next thing I knew, it was 3 hours later!  We had both fallen asleep, and nearly missed the fireworks altogether!  We cooked some  hot dogs and watched the fireworks from the deck instead of taking the boat out on the water.
The next day was a repeat of the day before.  More dark clouds forming earlier in the day.  Greg barely made it back from fishing before the storms began again.
So I took that as an opportunity to pop some tags in Big Bear City.  I took off in the rain, and it was slow going with holiday traffic on the roads.
Over the Stanfield Cut off, and through the woods.........
In search of a treasure.  I hit all of my favorite places, and braved the bumper to bumper traffic back to the cabin.  Here are my finds.
Two holiday table runners.  The flannel one on the right is really long.  It has delicate little applique leaves and  red bead berries on either end.  The other one is a fun patchwork print, with red ball fringe on each end.  The back is a complimentary green stripe.  Either side is pretty.
Both were in perfect condition. The longer one was 5 and the other was 4.
In another shop, I found this white and yellow crochet doily for a dollar.  And a brand new pair of red canvas Keds in my size, for one dollar.
At my last stop, I found this set of 5 chenille pumpkins and gourds.  I had to have them.  I have one at home, that I bought many years ago, and these will all go well together!  I paid 4 dollars for all five of them.
Someone put a lot of work into these.  The stems are brown corduroy, and the felted leaves are all embellished with some stitching for detail.  They all have little wire tendrils.  Not too bad for 15.00 spent, eh?  I love to thrift in Big Bear.  You can find some great bargains!
When I got back to the cabin, we headed out to meet up with some friends of ours who were spending the weekend in their cabin too.  Thea is a soul sister!  We met a few years ago, and are continually amazed at how much we have in common.  Our husbands too!  We both have three adult kids.  We both love to cook. We both have vitiligo!  We both love hand made items.  She is also quite an artist!  Which I am not!  We never are at a loss for words when we get together.  We met up at the Copper Q, a beautiful kitchen/cafe in downtown Big Bear.  They do weekend cooking demos, so we met for that, and the guys went out into the woods to collect firewood.
The demo was on White Chocolate Dipped Biscotti.  YUM!
After our blab fest and cooking demo, the guys met us back at The Copper Q, where we visited some more, before saying goodbye, as Greg and I had purchased presale tickets to go across the street and watch the movie, Tammy.
We both really enjoyed the movie!  After that, Greg and I headed back to the cabin and put a pizza in the oven for dinner.  Then walked over to our friends place for the evening.  Good times!!!!
We had hoped to hook up with Phil and Thea the next morning, but we wound up having to head back down the hill before we could. We will surely be back soon though, as we keep the boat up there in a slip for the entire summer season, til October.  Another great weekend in the pines!!!!!
Come on back tomorrow for a good recipe!
XO  Kris 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Cord Cozy?

If you crochet or knit, you have heard of a cup cozy.  A tea cozy.  A water bottle cozy.  But have you heard of a cord cozy?  Neither had I.  But I have been trying to come up with a way to hide the ugly cords since moving our telly to the other side of the room.  The cords had to be run along the floor, as there was no cable or electrical outlet where we put the tv on the fireplace hearth.  First I tried some moulding and double sided sticky tape.  I thought for sure that would work.  Nope, it kept coming apart and showing the glue from the sticky tape.  Finally I pulled all of that out, and have been hoping for some ideas to pop into my head .  Then suddenly, it hit me.  A Cord Cozy!!!  I crocheted a nice long piece to start.  Then after making sure I had enough length I did three rows of double crochet and sewed it together right there on the floor as I wrapped it around the cords.  I used a bulky weight yarn. Ecru with some flecks in it, so as not to show the dog hair!   Oh, first, I used zip ties to get my cords nice and orderly.
I needed about 6 1/2 feet of cord cozy to cover the cords.  Sewing it together took awhile.
This is a temporary fix until we have a new outlet put in.  And the cable wire will have to be dropped down behind fireplace.  And heck, we may never do it.  This is not nearly as ugly to me, as seeing the cords!
We went to a beautiful wedding on Saturday in San Diego.  It was for my next door neighbor's daughter.   I had planned on wearing a dress that I found recently, but went a whole different route.  My Mom and I were shopping the other day, and this dress was half off, but too big.  It was the only one.  My Mom said I'll get it, and you can take it in and fix it, and then we can share it!  I said deal!
It was a long strapless dress with a pretty navy blue sashing that pulled it tight under the bust line for an Empire waist.  But it was way too big at the top.  I took two inches out on each side to make it fit.  And I had no one to take our photo!  Here it is hanging next to the one I was going to wear.
The only photo is our selfie in the car as we got going.
It was fully lined, so no slip was needed.  Comfy, cool, and dressy at the same time.
The flowers at the wedding were stunning.  The only photos I have are from Greg's phone.  Mine didn't fit in my little evening bag.
Every other row or so had these hanging flowers on hooks, with white beads draping down.  Her colors were stunning!
Just a wee glimpse of bride and groom, all smiles, walking back up past us after their ceremony.
There was a cocktail hour on the patio while the bridal party had photos.  The food was fabulous!
The doors to the Grand Ball Room were kept closed until we were called to enter.  As those big double doors opened up to reveal the beautifully decorated room that we were about to enter, you could hear gasps all around us.  There was a stage in the back, and bride and groom's name was projected onto the drawn curtain. There was a pretty Sweethearts table decorated for the new husband and wife in front of the stage, for all to see.
The flowers for each table were spectacular.  On our table, there was a huge glass vase, about 3 1/2 feet tall, with an orb of gorgeous flowers on the top, and pretty tulips sort of dangling down from the bottom.  And then as if just sort of tucked in, there were  several long strands of pearls trailing down from the floral piece.  So pretty and elegant!!!
I will never, as long as I live, forget how beautiful the flowers were in this wedding!!!!
The food was magnificent, and served in unison at each table.  The cake, had fresh flowers trailing down both sides of it, and onto the table.  The tablecloths, were sort of a ruffled chiffon.  And at each place setting, was a card stock menu with a description of each of the dinner choices, and decorated with tiny gem stones.  The place cards for each guest, were nestled into a gorgeous sort of trough, that had been filled with jewels of all of her colors in shades of orange, purple, blue and then some white and clear marbles were mixed in.  There were more florals above this table, with the dripping jewels.  It was really something to see.  And nuts.... no camera!!!
The father daughter dance, left me with tears running down my face!  They are huge fans of Sara Brightman. and she had chosen one of her songs that reminded her of her relationship with her Dad.  The music began, and Mike approached the sweethearts table, extending his hand to his daughter.  She stood, and he swept her out onto the dance floor, but before taking her in his arms, he bowed to her, and she took his hand to dance. They glided around the dance floor like royalty, as their song played.  Tears in Eileen's eyes, and a proud smile on her Dad.  She mouthed the words, as they both moved gracefully around the dance floor.  I had chills, and had to dab at my eyes with my napkin.  I couldn't help but think of my own dear Dad, and how I adored him.  This was a highlight for me.  The love he had for her in his eyes, and the adoration and appreciation she held for him in hers, was lovely to see.  I wish you could see them better in this photo.
The song ended and Mike took a step away from her, dropping her hand out in front of him, as he once again bowed before her.  Her knees dipped ever so slightly, in what appeared to be a curtsy.  And their moment was over.  I shall never forget it.
We left after the cake was cut, as we had a long drive home.  While waiting for our car to be brought around, Greg snapped this shot of Eileen's older brother Daniel, carrying his twins, who were in the wedding as well.  They had danced and danced, and were going back to the hotel with their other Grandma. I love the way he was holding them, and how they have their arms around each other!
It was a lovely wedding!  We were so happy to be part of their special day!
Sunday was spent doing chores.  Then we went over to watch the girls while Mom and Dad picked up a piece of furniture.  We went into the pool with them, and they were so excited.
I had my hair pinned up and was hoping not to get it wet.  RIGHT!!!!
Within about 5 minutes, I looked like a drowned rat!!!  The girls had water blasters, and weren't afraid to use them!!!
Yesterday I had a big harvest in my garden.  FINALLY getting some tomatoes!  YUM!  And I picked my first ears of corn too.
The corn stalk with the twin cobs in one husk had one fully developed, and one only partially.  I gave the partial to the chickens.  They loved it!
I am making huge batches of pesto and freezing it in ice cube trays to be able to enjoy it all year.  Once frozen, I pop them out into freezer bags and then can use them as I like, taking one cube, or several for pasta, or pizzas and dressings.
I made a batch of homemade vanilla bean ice cream yesterday too.  It is curing in the freezer and we will take with us to Big Bear.  That is, if Geeps doesn't find it!
So, what is everyone doing for the 4th of July?
Over and Out.  Noah wants to swim.
XO  Kris