Family · Home

My Favorite Things … What’s Keeping Me Sane

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!

 

Family · Garden · Home · Home

Our Robin Adventure

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!

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.

 

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).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

Family · Family Favorites · Holidays · Home

Thanksgiving Family Favorites

And these are a few of my favorite things!  Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.

CRANBERRY RELISH

CRANBERRY BREAD

PUMPKIN PIE

The Best Ever Pumpkin Pie

PUMPKIN BREAD

PUMPKIN BARS

QUINOA WITH ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH, PINE NUTS, FETA

ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS, CINNAMON SQUASH, PECANS & DRIED CHERRIES

TURKEY AND DRESSING

TURKEY VEGETABLE SOUP

Family · My Roots · New Favorite · New Traditions

Cherry Bars

Cherry desserts are one of my favorites and I had to try this Cherry Bars recipe from my late Aunt Joyce’s recipe box.  While I don’t recall ever having these, they are wonderful. The combination of almond and cherry…yum!

Leafing through old, handwritten recipe cards is such a treasure…a lost tradition in today’s world.

CHERRY BARS

1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs, beat after addition of each egg
3 cups flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
1 can cherry pie filling

  • Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease 10×15″ pan.
  • Cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time and beat after each addition.
  • Sift together flour, salt and baking powder.
  • Slowly add flour mixture to batter.  Then add vanilla and almond extract.
  • Spread 1/2 of batter into pan.  Spool filling on top and spread to cover. Drop the remaining batter by spoonfuls over the top.
  • Bake for about 40 minutes.  Watch it to just golden brown.
  • Drizzle with glaze of 1 cup powdered sugar, 4 or more tsp. milk, a few drops of almond extract.  Add milk until the drizzle consistency is reached.
Family · Family Favorites · My Roots

Apple Roll Ups

My Mother was such a great cook and many of my cherished recipes came from her kitchen.  Apple Roll Ups is one of those recipes.  They are fantastic served warm but equally good left-over.  If you truly want to indulge, you can pour a bit of cream on the top of your Apple Roll.

IMG_7551

APPLE ROLL UPS

SYRUP:
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar

  • Boil for 3 minutes.  Cool.
  • Pour into ungreased 9×13 inch pan.

DOUGH:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons shortening (I used unsalted butter)
1/2 cup milk
1 egg

  • Combine flour, baking powder, salt and shortening and blend well. Add 1/2 up milk and 1 egg. Mix well.
  • Roll the dough out on a floured surface into a rectangle shape about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.

FILLING:
1/2 to 1 cup sugar
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups finely diced apple (I used Granny Smith)

  • Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over rolled out dough. Add chopped apple.

IMG_7537

  • Roll up carefully and cut into 12 in slices.
  • Place in 9×13 inch pan on top of cooled syrup.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

 

Family · Family Favorites · Garden · New Favorite

Lemon Yellow Summer Squash Bread

When yellow squash and zucchini are plentiful and I’ve made every possible recipe, I go to the web and try to find something different to make.  This bread was a phenomenal find. I’ve always been fond of lemon cake and this bread is addictive. No, you can’t have just one slice, I guarantee it!

IMG_7593

LEMON YELLOW SUMMER SQUASH BREAD

There is no reason you couldn’t substitute zucchini in this recipe; would be pretty with the green zucchini and yellow lemon zest!  I did not make the Sweet Roasted Lemon Garnish).
Serves: 2 loaves

1 cup melted butter
2 cups sugar
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups grated summer squash

For the Glaze:

1 Tbsp. melted butter
½ cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest

For the Sweet Roasted Lemon Garnish (edible and optional!):

1 lemon, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, seeds removed
½ tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. olive oil

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Grease and flour 2 regular loaf pans or 4 mini pans.
  • Mix butter, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla until well blended.
  • Add eggs one at a time and once all are incorporated beat for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Sift flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and mix thoroughly.
  • Add squash and stir just to blend.
  • Pour into prepared pans and bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes for small loaf pans or 1 hour for regular size loaf pans.
  • Allow the pan to cool; remove the bread and place top down on a serving plate (makes for a nice presentation for the glaze and lemons).
Make the Roasted Lemons:
  • Cook lemon slices in a medium saucepan of boiling water 2 minutes to remove bitterness. Drain and pat dry.
  • Gently toss lemon slices with sugar, and 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium bowl. Spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until lemons are no longer wet and only slightly colored, 15–20 minutes. Let cool.
Make the Glaze:
  • Combine the melted butter and powdered sugar and stir until smooth; add the lemon juice and lemon zest and stir to combine.
  • Add water or milk if necessary to get the right consistency.
  • Pour the glaze over the top; covering it completely and letting excess dribble down the sides.
  • Arranged sweet, roasted lemons on top.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe from CreativeCulinary.com

Family · New Favorite

Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes

Two of my favorite flavors…raspberry and lemon…together they are heaven. When we were planning older daughter Megan’s baby shower we made these cupcakes.  The cupcakes (which you cannot see) were divine and the icing tasted wonderful, although it didn’t look as wonderful as I would have liked. The icing had a lumpy look to it but not in taste or texture.

The theme of the shower surrounded children’s books so we purchased edible children’s book toppers on Etsy. Adorable!

I’ll make the cupcakes again but I’ll play with the icing to get it just right!

IMG_7154 IMG_7186

RASPBERRY LEMON CUPCAKES

Yield: 24 regular cupcakes

For the Cake:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
lemon zest from two large lemons
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

For the Frosting:
1/2 to 2/3 cup fresh raspberries (or frozen, thawed) (use 2 cups for 1.5x recipe of frosting)
1/2 cup salted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
1-3 tablespoons milk, if needed

To Make the Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Position the rack to the center of the oven.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.  In another medium bowl, whisk together the milk and egg whites until well blended.
  • Place the sugar and lemon zest in a large mixer bowl and rub together with your fingers until the zest has moistened all the sugar.  Use the paddle attachment to beat the butter in at medium speed for 3 minutes, until very light.
  • Add in the extracts and then one third of the flour mixture, while continuing to beat on medium speed.
  • Mix in half of the milk-egg mixture, then half of the remaining dry ingredients.  Beat in the rest of the milk and eggs until fully incorporated, then mix in the remaining of the dry ingredients.  Beat at medium speed for a full 2 minutes to aerate.  Evenly distribute the batter into the cupcake pans.
  • Bake for 18-22 minutes (for regular cupcakes) or 10-12 minutes (for miniature cupcakes).  The cupcakes are done when they pass the toothpick test and are springy to the touch.   Cool completely on a wire rack.

To Make the frosting:

  • Puree the raspberries in a blender and then push through a fine mesh strainer to discard the seeds; set aside. Cream together the butter and shortening in a large mixing bowl, with the paddle attachment.
  • Beat in the vanilla and most of the raspberry puree, until fully combined.
  • Stir in the sugar 1/2 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition, until reaching desired consistency.  Use more or less sugar as needed, and add more raspberry puree to taste.  If the frosting is too thick, beat in milk one tablespoon at a time.

Source:  My Baking Addiction, originally from Dorie Greenspan and Seeded at the Table 

Family · Holidays

‘Thanksgiving Song’ by Mary Chapin Carpenter

Thanksgiving Song by Mary Chapin Carpenter

Grateful for each hand we hold
Gathered round this table.
From far and near we travel home,
Blessed that we are able.

Grateful for this sheltered place
With light in every window,
Saying welcome, welcome, share this feast
Come in away from sorrow.

Father, mother, daughter, son,
Neighbor, friend and friendless;
All together everyone in the gift of loving-kindness.

Grateful for whats understood,
And all that is forgiven;
We try so hard to be good,
To lead a life worth living.

Father, mother, daughter, son,
Neighbor, friend, and friendless;
All together everyone, let grateful days be endless.

Grateful for each hand we hold
Gathered round this table.

Mary Chapin Carpenter – Thanksgiving Song Lyrics | MetroLyrics

 

Family · Garden · Home · New Favorite · Vegan · Vegetarian

Roasted Tomato, Sausage and Pesto Sauce

Fall brings the bounty of tomatoes, basil and much more. Older daughter, Megan, told me about a roasted tomato and pesto sauce she made. I tweaked it a bit to serve my tastes. I love the idea of adding pesto to a rich, red tomato sauce. It was delicious and definitely a new recipe for my collection.

ROASTED TOMATO AND PESTO SAUCE

1 pound Italian sausage, cooked and drained
3 cups roasted tomatoes and peppers, cooled and blended (recipe below)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, diced
Cube of pesto (about 1/3 cup)
26.5 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, chopped or blended
1 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh, chopped basil
1 pound cooked pasta (I used bow tie pasta) and 1 cup of pasta water
Parmesan Cheese (optional)

  • Core and slice tomatoes. Halve and remove seeds from peppers.
  • Arrange the tomatoes and peppers on a heavy cookie sheet (I line with parchment paper).  Drizzle with Avocado oil and sprinkle with sea salt or kosher salt.
  • Roast at 400 degrees until the edges of the vegetables start to char and are cooked through.
  • Blend the mixture to a smooth consistency.
  • Cook and drain the sausage. Drain and set aside.
  • Sauté onions in olive oil and when almost cooked through, add the garlic. Continue to salute until garlic is cooked through.
  • Add roasted tomatoes and peppers, pesto, San Marzano tomatoes, water, basil and sausage.
  • Heat thoroughly.
  • Add 1 cup of pasta water to sauce. Stir.  Add drained, cooked pasta, and stir to mix thoroughly.
  • Serve with Parmesan cheese.
Family · Family Favorites · Home · My Roots

Halloween Memories

Halloween on the farm was a far different experience than my current city experience. Childhood costumes were simple, always with a hot plastic or rubber mask. Note our fancy trick or treat bags! We couldn’t run from house to house but instead our parents drove us to our neighbors farms.  We collected wonderful home-made goodies while our parents visited for a while.  At the end of the night, we visited 6 to 8 houses but came home with luscious home-made popcorn balls, cookies, caramel apples, and full size candy bars.

Halloween on the Farm about 1959

My children never experienced the wonders of home-made goodies, ruined by the scare of Halloween candy tampering.  None-the-less, they had a wonderful time running from house to house in our suburban neighborhood yelling ‘trick or treat’ and collecting their Halloween bounty. Masks were not a favorite (thank goodness) but costumes were pretty traditional and fun. Our AT&T office hosted a family Halloween party letting the kids gather treats at each office and cubicle. Good times!

Sarah Mom Megan Halloween 1990

Fast forward to 2015 and grandson, Evan’s, Halloween experience.  His favorite character today is from the movie FROZEN and we were fortunate enough to find the darling OLAF costume on Amazon.com.

Evan as Olaf

Evan has been to his first corn maze and is in awe of the amazing (and sometimes scary) Halloween decorations. He’ll be out gathering treats in the neighborhood and celebrating with his little friends.  As his little 3 year old girlfriend says, they’ll be out ‘Candy Tricking’.  Love this age!

Next Halloween we’ll have a baby girl in our family joining the Halloween fun. We’ll anxiously await the arrival of ‘lil pumpkin in November.

Wishing you all a safe and wonderful Halloween!