Wednesday, September 22, 2010

On Cooking and Hearths

It's not that I dislike cooking, but that I dislike it as a leisure art. I think it's wasteful to put so much energy into just one meal. If I'm going to make a mess of the kitchen, I want to make it worth my time. I like making multiple dishes I can freeze for later or eat for lunches. I don't like eating the same thing two days in a row either.

When my ma had to cook for a family, especially on Sundays during the fall and winter, she'd keep a bowl of scraps like onion rinds, tops of celery and carrots, bones of chickens or roasts...basically all the unedible tough bits, and boil them in a pot to make broth. I do this too. When it comes to a boil, add bay leaves and whole spices like mustard and caraway seeds. I put in dill, parsley, and sage. Let it simmer for a few hours and drain. Perfect broth for making soup, rice, cous cous or whatever.

Now let me tell you what I recently wanted to make with this broth. Behold!

A vintage casserole dish as haevy and hearty as the Le Crueset kind and just as clean on the inside. No mystery stains or burnt riff-raff at the bottom. Perfection. David purchased it without me at an estate sale. I was at the book sale for the Cat Care Society, but knew he'd find something cool.

Here's what I made in it. I made notes on what I did this time. It turned out delicious. I ended up not having enough home made broth and instead used Swansons which I think is very good.

Wild Rice Caserole

1 c Minnesota wild rice (or mixed rice or brown)
3 c Swansons vegetable broth
dash of salt

Combine all these in a rice cooker and turn it on. Preheat the oven to 375.

In a large saucepan, pour 4 tsp olive oil.
Let that sit on low-med heat for awhile.

Then add
2-3 cloves garlic chopped fine
1/2 c yellow onion chopped
Stir and watch until garlic and onion are brown and clear.

Now add
2 stalks celery chopped
1/2 c frozen corn*
1/2 c frozen spinach*
1 c butternut squash cut into small cubes**
1 can of pinto beans rinsed first
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp celery seed
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black peper

Put the lid on the pan and leave it alone. You can give it a stir every 2 minutes or so.

Now the rice is ready. If you used wild rice, the rice cooker probably left some hard kernals in there. No prob.

Get your casserole dish and oil the inside well with olive oil. Put the wild rice on the bottom and add few tbsps water. Stick in the oven with the cover on.

After the vegetable mixture has been in the pan maybe 15 minutes, spoon in into the casserole dish. Sprinkle 1 cup chedder on top and continue to bake the casserole with the lid off. Bake until cheese starts to brown - about 30 minutes.

Serve with sour cream and hot sauce

*most of my veggies are frozen because we live in a food desert. I never thaw them first or squeeze out water or manhandle them in any way. I stick them in, wait for them to thaw and cook and the water just evaporates away. It has never had a negative effect on my cooking.

**to get to your butternut squash easily (or any squash, really) I stick a few holes in it and put it in my oven whie it's preheating. After 5-10 minutes, the squash is softer and easier to cut up. If it;s too hot, just run it under cold water for a second. It will remain soft.

Also, like I said, there was a book sale where we found some wonderful vintage volumes. I actually will read Peyton Place, I think.

We also scored this beautiful hearth piece. It was very heavy but obviously old and only $20! I love the brick design on it. It really matches everything in our home. I'm very proud of it. D and I also bought a chimnea in great shape for $10. I can't wait to fire it up for s'mores

Monday, September 20, 2010

Busby Chair

I've always been a bit of an Anglophile. Because my family are British? No. My ancestors can be traced to the Mayflower? The American Revolution? Hardly. I don't even think they were aware of America at the time. There were animals to tend to and cheese to make for God's sake! Maybe a long lost English true love? Nope, I married my true love (I'm a lucky duck, I know).

So there's no real reason for me to be attracted to England. But I love it. I went to London when I was 18 and had a great time. The highlights of which were seeing the Rosetta Stone and going to a real rave in an abandoned tube station complete with famous DJs, fog lights and ecstasy (give me a break - I was 18!)

My desires to visit England now are a bit more conservative, but just as interesting in my book. If anyone is the least bit interested in the following, well, let's plan a trip!

In no particular order:

1) The Cheapside hoard. 'Nuf said.

2) Busby chair - This is on display at the Thirsk Museum. Made in the 18th century, the chair is old but not unusual looking. What is unusual is the chair's history. Thomas Busby, a condemned murderer asked to have a pint in his favorite pub before going to the gallows. After finishing his drink, he cursed the chair and anyone who sat in it afterwards dies shortly after his/her pub crawl. There was a military base near Thirsk during WW II and the soldiers were very enthusiastic about the chair and it's creepy curse. It became apparent that "Those who sat, didn't come back". In 1967, a pair of Royal Air Force soldiers did sit in the chair after many pints and a dare. They hit a tree on their way home. Maybe a DUI coincidence? In any case, I'm glad it's out of the pub and in a museum where I won't accidentally rest my rump. There were other reports of perfectly sober people resting awhile and regretting it.

3)John Snow Pub

Photo from UCLA website.

John Snow is considered the father of public health. An obstetric anesthesiologist by trade, he wondered why all his neighbors were getting cholera. He traced the outbreak to a certain pump where everyone was getting their drinking water and pulled off the pump's handle. This ended the outbreak and John Snow was a hero worthy of his own pub.

4) The Roman Baths at Bath

Oh, how I would love to go to Bath. D and I love natural hot springs and this is the grand-daddy of them all. Used since Roman times, it's attracted tourists for centuries. (Picture is from Wikipedia.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Wow, it's been a long time! So much to share! Where to start? How about thrift shop finds from the thrift I volunteer at:

Here's an old tablecloth with a cute Mexican print. Very worn, thin fabric but no holes or stains. 2 bucks.

Now, I've been looking for a good spoon rest for a long time. I even have looked on ebay! Found this guy just hanging out a few weeks ago and almost went into a seizure. Perfect! Perfect! Cute, cheery, vintage and totally usable! $1.50

I bought these cute hand towels even though they were slightly discolored because the embroidery was so well done and so dated! Who washes pantyhose in the sink anymore?

Kinda funny, when I went to take a pic of them hanging in our bathroom, this is how they were hanging:


I actually own this book now, but haven't read it. Supposed too be good, though.

In other news, we finally went camping! D pitched the tent, I made dinner, complete with a good bottle of red - just because you're camping doesn't mean you have to rough it, you know!

Roasting marshmallows

You probably can't see this, but that big black blob is our moose visitor. I spotted him first, but misidentified him as a "horsey".

Well, D and I are off to get sammiches and then go for a hike. If it's good, I'll post pics. The place I want to go is known for it's wild flowers!


Friday, April 2, 2010

New Jewelry

Latest finds displayed on a vintage crocheted bag from Mom C:

Below are my new blue monster earrings. They look heavy, but are actually plastic and light. I wore them all day today. $2.00 at an estate sale in the 'hood.

I picked up this dangling pair. Same sale, same price. They are actually kind of heavy. The beads must be glass.

Next to a terrific pair of orange earrings that used to belong to D's grandmother, check out this shell pendant! It's huge. About as big as a Chips Ahoy cookie.
Pricey at $6.00, but it was at the shop I volunteer at and all the $ goes to help kitties so I feel okay about it!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

First Garden Photos!

D and I just got back from visiting family and look what I found!

I think this is some old Sedum.

I planted daffodils, but it looks like I might be getting some tulips, too! I didn't plant this fella:

Our snowball bush has buds, too!

This is my favorite, though:

Our front walk is lined with croci patches!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Well, hello there!

And you - it's nice to see you, too!

These are photos of a spiny ant eater and 2 platypus (care of
They are two of three types of animals that are in the family of Monotreme. Never heard of a monotreme? Me neither until today when I went to the natural history museum.

Monotremes have fur and nurse their young. They don't have nipples. The young just know where the milk glands are and suck on the skin nearby. Also, they lay leathery soft eggs.

And I thought there were mammals and not mammals. Period. Nope. We have Monotremes. A mix of both worlds, all be it a tiny one. You can only find them in Australia and New Guinea...maybe at a zoo, too.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

winter decor

This time of year has always been a kind of standstill in decorating. The holiday decor is boxed up and put away. Winter seems to drag on cold and wet. I decided to try and embrace these few months of winter weather we have left. I made a winter display in my front room.

The light is just terrible to see the whole effect. Here are some of my favorite doo-dads that cheer up the winter gloom:

Conversation hearts in my blue McCoy bowl. In the background are old love notes my husband gave me framed in a pretty glass frame with pressed flowers. My cat looks at them admiringly.

Paperwhite bulbs blooming with delicate flowers. Such a pretty light fragrance they have!

I forced one in an old glass cream bottle. I love the way the roots look.

In other news, I've had a few good finds at my thrift store lately. Here's one of my faves:

A set of small stiching guides - each 50 cents.