Easter Memories

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Easter 2020 will be like no other.  Most Americans will be home, distanced from family and friends.  Our family will be doing the same but plan to share food and get together on Zoom for a short visit.  Saturday we will be doing porch pickups of 1) homemade rolls, 2) Fresh Peach Cobbler…summertime favorite (using frozen peaches from last summer), and 3) Scotcheroos…Easter tradition.  We will each cook our own dinner and enjoy a bit of what the others have made.  It won’t be the same, but it will be an Easter to remember.

Today is the 26th day of self isolation and I am so blessed to be doing well, keeping in touch with family and friends and checking items off my ‘to-do’ list.  Cleaning closets and recalling memories is part of the experience.  While selecting books to read to my grandchildren, I found one of my childhood Easter books now very tattered but well loved.  One of my daughter’s remarked that the bunny’s red eye creeps her out…I never even thought about that!

The pictures and stories are charming and would spark my childhood imagination.  Here are a few pages:

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‘Helping One Another’ is something we need to do all of the time, but especially now.  ‘Jack In The Pulpit’ takes me back to springtime in Iowa and wandering the timbers with my Mother gathering Morel mushrooms and seeing Jack In The Pulpits, bluebells, Johnny Jump Ups, and many other wild flowers.

This week I also rediscovered my childhood bank, a bunny so sweet and tender. She was manufactured in the 1950s by Knickerbocker Plastics in North Hollywood, California.  My mother saved her for many years, but why have I stored in the basement all these years?  It’s time for her to shine her pretty little face again. IMG_8330

Memories are a wonderful thing…to be treasured and shared.

May your Easter be joyful…May your blessings be many.  Happy Easter!

My Favorite Things … What’s Keeping Me Sane

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Living through a Pandemic was certain not on my wish list but here we are. While I try to keep an upbeat attitude, my first inclination is go dark but I’ve learned that doesn’t accomplish a thing.

Keeping busy with things that interest me is key. I have a long list of ‘to-dos’ that I have been ignoring so … get on it, Cathy! There is yardwork and garden preparation, closets to be cleaned, Shutterfly books to finish, genealogy research to be done, etc. I try to accomplish a little of this each day but self-care and personal connection is most important.

This is day 13 of self isolation except for a very protected trip to get my allergy shot (extreme tree pollen allergies) and porch delivery of my Mom’s chicken and noodles to my girls and their families.

Each day the weather cooperates, I try to go on a long walk. Seeing neighbors outside playing with their children, sitting on their front porch or simply waving to neighbors warms my heart.  The two best experiences while walking were 1) encountering a family of dinosaurs with Mom and little daughter in full dinosaur costumes and Dad in a mask; 2) completing a chalk lava field drawn by a child on their sidewalk.  I love to see such creativity!

Talking with my girls and my grandchildren is saving me, too.  My grandchildren are ages 6, 4, 3 and 1.  The opportunity to read books, have dance parties, and just play via video chat is a wonderful capability that we all can enjoy.  Talking with friends, Virtual yoga with my Hot Flash yoga pals, virtual happy hour with our local winery, and family Zoom sessions also help to keep me connected.

I’ve not been to the store since Friday, March 13 but I have plenty to eat.  My Mother taught us to always have a full pantry and freezer and now is the time to use it!  To conserve on eggs, I’ve shifted my daily egg to a breakfast cake I’m loving with a dollop or yogurt!



Breakfast Cake


2 mashed bananas
1.4 cups oatmeal
2 beaten eggs
3 cups berries (fresh, frozen or canned/drained–even less works just fine)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Mix together and placed in greased pan (about 8×10″) and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cut in squares.

I heat a square of breakfast cake in the microwave for 20 seconds and then add a dollop of Greek Yogurt. So yummy!

This experience causes me to think back to the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic and the hardship of those times.  What did our ancestors do in quarantine, usually with a multitude of children and no chance of grocery delivery or the care of today’s modern medicine.  My Grandma Susie would be slaving over a hot wood cookestove in a very tiny house, with 4 little kids running underfoot.  To my knowledge, no one in our family died during that time but I do not know who may have contracted the disease, either.  

A friend shared with me that her Grandmother had written a journal during the time of the Spanish Flu and she has been reading it.  It prompted her to start a journal for her grandchildren.  What a great idea! I am not a journal kind of person, but this is such a unique time in our lives, that I think it is important to document what this experience has been like.  Perhaps we can actually learn from our mistakes in the future.

In closing let me thank everyone who is sacrificing their own safety to care for the people of the United States. You are our true heroes!

God Bless and Stay Well!

 

Berry Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

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These Berry Oatmeal Breakfast Bars are great for breakfast on-the-go or for a snack.  The bars are free of refined sugar and gluten.  The original blueberry recipe from Iowa Girl Eats is delicious (of course everything she makes is!).  My second batch was made with blueberries and raspberries…Yum!  I may try to substitute applesauce for the bananas on a future batch for family members that don’t like the taste of bananas.

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Wouldn’t these be great to freeze and have on hand especially for busy Moms once the kids are back to school?

BLUEBERRY OATMEAL BARS

  • 2.5 cups certified gluten-free old fashioned oats, divided (I actually just used the food processor on all of the oats)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana (about 2 small or 1 large banana)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 heaping cup of berries
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees then spray an 8×8″ baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. Add 1 cup old fashioned oats to food processor or blender and process until oats have turned into flour (Note:  I blended the entire 2.5 cups).  Set aside.  Alternatively you can use a scant cup of oat flour.
  3. Add milk, mashed banana, honey, coconut oil, egg, and vanilla to a large bowl then whisk to combine.  Add remaining 1.5 cups oats, oat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt then stir to combine.  Fold in the berries then pour batter into greased baking pan.
  4. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the center has set.  Cool before slicing into bars and store in the refrigerator.  Alternatively, you can individually wrap the bars in Saran Wrap and freeze.

Recipe adapted slightly from: Iowa Girl Eats

Our Robin Adventure

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May 7,  I stepped onto my front porch and noticed a few unsightly weeds hanging from my front porch light.  I pulled them down and went about my day.  The next morning, lo and behold, there was a beautiful nest perched on top of the porch light.

I marveled at the intelligence of Mama and Papa Robin, selecting a nest site that was under the cover of the porch and warmed by the light 24x 7 because they built the nest over the light sensor!

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Nest Built May 8, 2019

On May 12, the eggs started to appear, first two, then a total of 5.  The Colorado May weather was unusually cold so Mama was on the nest most of the time.

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Mama Robin lays her eggs May 12-15

Excitement was building as our family watched the Robin’s nest with great anticipation.  The grandkids were so excited to see photos and watch the wonder of nature.

Fifteen days later the eggs started to hatch, one by one.  To be able to see (never touch) these sweet babies up close was amazing.  The nest was too tall to actually look into the nest, iphone photos and video to the rescue (centering of the photos was often an issue).

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 27-June 7 How fast they grew!

Mama and Daddy Robin were consumed with feeding these hungry babies and they became very protective whenever we stepped out on the porch, swooping by and touching my hair to give warning.

Eleven days after the first hatch, two of the babies flew from the nest.

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June 8 two babies prepare to leave the nest

Mama was talking to them and away they went.  A few days later the last two babies also left the nest.  Their soaring abilities were very good and I hope they have learned to soar and be safe.

In the meantime, the grandkids are disappointed that the birds are gone, as am I.  Thank you, Mother Nature, for the great adventure and we hope we’ll have the opportunity again next year.

Below is a link to a short video of our Robin Adventure.

Hamburger Soup

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Hamburger Soup is quick, simple and delicious.  Enough said.

Hamburger Soup

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 onion , diced
2 cloves garlic , minced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups beef broth
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes with juice
1 can condensed tomato soup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups mixed vegetables, fresh or frozen (I used carrots, celery, corn & peas)

  • Brown onion, ground beef and garlic until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
  • Add potatoes, broth, tomatoes, tomato soup, Worcestershire sauce, seasoning and bay leaves. Simmer covered 10 minutes.
  • Stir in vegetables. Simmer 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Recipe slightly adapted from Spendwithpennies

VEGAN WINTER LENTIL STEW

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Vegan Winter Lentil Stew is a flavorful, hearty winter stew.  I first tried this soup when hosting book club and preparing two stews 1) Vegan and 2) Beef Stew.  The key to the flavor in this soup is the Dijon mustard.  Who knew it could pack such a yummy punch.  Even non-lovers of lentils and beans have enjoyed it.  If you insist on adding a protein, go for it!  I’m sure it would be delicious.

WINTER LENTIL STEW

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
4 carrots (about 1/2 lb.)
4 stalks celery
2 lbs potatoes
1 cup brown lentils
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1.5 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
6 cups vegetable broth
1 cup frozen peas

  • Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the olive oil, onion, and garlic to a large soup pot and begin to sauté over medium heat.
  • While the onion and garlic are sautéing, dice the celery, then add it to the pot and continue to sauté. As the celery, onion, and garlic are sautéing, peel and chop the carrots into half rounds. Add the carrots to the pot and continue to sauté.
  • As the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots are sautéing, peel and cube the potatoes into 3/4 to 1-inch pieces. Add the cubed potatoes to the pot along with the lentils, rosemary, thyme, Dijon, soy sauce, brown sugar, and vegetable broth.
  • Briefly stir the ingredients to combine, then place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to high, and bring the stew up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Toward the end of the simmer time, when the potatoes are very soft, begin to mash the potatoes a bit as you stir. This will help thicken the stew.
  • Finally, after 30 minutes, stir in the frozen peas and allow them to heat through. Taste the stew and add salt if needed. Serve hot and enjoy!

Recipe from: Budgetbytes.com  

Lemon Raspberry Streusel Bars

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Raspberries may very well be my favorite fruit and would certainly be on my ‘last dinner’ list.  This recipe started out to be Lemon Blueberry Bars as the original recipe stated.  Midway through making the bars, I realized the frozen blueberries were off, so quickly switched to raspberries that I had in the freezer.  Frankly, I love the results.  Even the nutmeg called for in the original recipe suited the raspberries.

Another new favorite!

LEMON RASPBERRY STREUSEL BARS

yield: 24 BARS

CRUST:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
pinch of salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FILLING:
2 cups fresh raspberries (I thawed frozen raspberries)
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

TOPPING:
5 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a 9×13-inch pyrex pan with nonstick spray.
  • Prepare the crust: In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, zest and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the egg and vanilla together; stir into the crumb mixture until a dough forms. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly. (Keep the oven on)
  • Sprinkle raspberries over the crust. In a small bowl, combine the 1/4 cup sugar and nutmeg; sprinkle over the raspberries.
  • Prepare the topping: In a medium bowl, use a rubber spatula to cream together the 5 tablespoons butter and brown sugar until smooth. Mix in the flour, so that the mixture is crumbly, like streusel. Sprinkle over the raspberry layer.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until browned. Cool.

Recipe adapted from RecipeGirl.com

 

Turkey Green Chile

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Green Chile was a novel concept to me until I moved from the midwest to Arizona and then to Colorado.  My Iowa roots only knew Chile as red, in Chile Con Carne.  I’ve grown to love green chile but I prefer mine mild.  This Green Chile was a favorite of mine made at a local office building cafeteria many moons ago.  It’s been years since I have made the turkey (vs. pork) green chile and I was happy to experience it once again.  The original recipe made a much heavier roux but I prefer it on the lighter side.

Warm flour tortillas to serve with the chile to warm you on these cold winter nights!

TURKEY GREEN CHILE

3 quarts (96 oz.) chicken stock (remove 1 cup for roux)
1/2 cup olive oil
2/3 cup diced onion
1/2 bunch chopped cilantro
12 ounces diced green chiles
2 pounds ground turkey
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon jalapenos
4 tablespoons flour (or more if you want the chile to be thicker)
16 ounces chopped tomatoes
2 to 3 chopped green onions
salt, cayenne or tabasco to taste

  • Prepare chicken stock. Simmer while preparing other ingredients.
  • Heat olive oil; add onion, cilantro, 8 ounces green chiles, turkey, garlic, oregano and jalapenos until turkey is cooked. Lower heat.
  • Combine flour with the 1 cup of reserved stock to make roux. Mix thoroughly. Add to stock and stir. Add sautéed mixture.
  • Add 4 ounces green chiles, chopped tomatoes and additional green onions. Season to taste.
  • Serve with warm tortillas.

Old Czech Prayer for the New Year

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Old traditions, stories and folk lore are precious to me, especially when it comes to my Czech heritage.  While this Prayer is from another time, it brings to mind the challenges of the time, not that much different than today.

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy 2019!

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We extend to you this wish for the New Year

May the next year be more fruitful, more peaceful, more full of good health and better than any you’ve known in the past.

May you have all the earthly good which is possible to come from the hand of God.

And in the life hereafter, we wish you the glory of heaven.

And while on this earth, may we be tolerant of each other.

And on the lighter side,

We wish also that all your cows would be fat,

That the milk they give be heavy with cream,

And that your cheeses be as large as a table,

May your yard be full of chickens and geese,

In the springtime may you carry seed in small bags to your fields,

And in the autumn harvest may you require wagons upon wagons to bring in your harvest.

 

Cinnamon Apple Pie Cake

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Cinnamon Apple Pie Cake is absolutely yummy!  I’ve served it multiple times with great reviews and requests for future events.  This is a definite favorite in my recipe box!

Apple Pie Cake Slice

Apple pie cake

CINNAMON APPLE PIE CAKE

6 to 8 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon- sugar (1 1/4 T. sugar + 1/4 t. cinnamon)
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups superfine white sugar (see *Tips below)
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil (see notes below!)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-Purpose Flour
more cinnamon-sugar to sprinkle on top (same as above)

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 1/2 to 10-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper and then spray again.
  • Layer the apple slices in the pan until they come about 2/3 of the way up the side. (I went a little higher than that and it worked out fine). Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar over the apples.
  • Prepare the batter by beating the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the oil (see notes below about the amount of oil called for) and the vanilla and beat well, then stir in the flour. Pour the batter on top of the apples, and sprinkle with additional cinnamon-sugar. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to allow the batter to sink down and around the apples.
  • Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool *completely* in the pan. If you try to remove the cake from the pan while it is still warm, it will tend to break apart. I refrigerated my cake before slicing, and that worked out well. Serve slices with ice cream (warm individual slices in the microwave, if desired).

TIPS:

  • You want “caster sugar” for this recipe: It is a finer grind than table sugar, but not as fine as powdered. Look for “Baker’s Sugar” at the store, or simply put regular white sugar in your food processor and give it a few whirls to create superfine sugar.
  • NOTE:  In the original recipe from this cookbook, the author calls for 1 1/2 cups of oil.  Although my pie cake turned out just fine the way the recipe was written, when I make it again… I will definitely try using 3/4 cup oil and 3/4 cup applesauce instead.  Some readers have noted that this has worked well for them.
SOURCE:  RecipeGirl.com (Adapted slightly from Monday Morning Cooking Club) and http://www.recipegirl.com/2013/09/30/cinnamon-apple-pie-cake/print/