Monday, February 29, 2016

I Don't Like Mondays

She lives in my laundry room, love her sign
When I worked I hated Mondays, not my job, just the whole rigmarole of getting up and starting a new week.  Well it hasn't gotten any better since I retired.  I still don't like Mondays.  After a weekend I feel obligated to get up and do some serious cleaning and today that involved cleaning all the wood in our bedroom, took forever.  I'm tempted to start looking for some plastic furniture.
Last night we started watching another program based on Agatha Christie books, Partners in Crime, Tuppence and Tommy.  This version stars Jessica Raine, who we've never seen before though I understand she's been in a number of things including Call the Midwife, and David Walliams who we know from the Blandings series.  Nice little series and we're enjoying it, but then I pretty much enjoy all of the things based on Agatha's works.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Short Ribs

The short ribs were incredibly delicious, if I do say so myself.  Didn't take any pictures, but they turned out exactly like the picture on Pinterest, which I shall nick.  Weaver of Grass wasn't sure what short ribs are called in England so I looked it up and I'm still not sure.  They aren't pork ribs, they're beef ribs and I assume they're called short ribs because unlike pork spare ribs they are short.
 Anyway, here's the recipe and how I adjusted it for us.

Short Ribs Cooked in the Slow Cooker


Ingredients
3 Pounds bone-in beef short ribs--HA!  This would cost a fortune, for the 2 of us I bought 4 ribs
1/2 Tsp. Salt
1/2  Tsp. Pepper
1 TBS Oil,  I used Olive Oil
4 Medium Carrots cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Cup Beef Broth, I use canned Beef Broth
4 Fresh Thyme Sprigs, I used a 1/4 Tsp of dried Thyme
1 Bay Leaf, I used dried
2 Large Onions cut into 1/2 inch wedges, I used 1
6 Garlic cloves minced you could leave this out if you don't like garlic or you're a vampire
1 TBS Tomato Paste, I didn't have any so I used Catsup
2 Cups Dry Red Wine or Beef Broth  I used 1 of each
3 TBS of cold water
4 TBS Cornstarch

Directions

1.  Sprinkle ribs with the salt and pepper.  In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat.  Brown the ribs on all sides and then transfer to the slow cooker, add the carrots, a cup of beef broth, thyme and bay leaves, don't turn the cooker on yet.

2.  Add onions to the skillet you browned the ribs in and stir over medium heat until tender, don't brown.  Add garlic and tomato paste, stir and cook for about a minute.  Stir in the wine or more beef broth, as I said I added a cup of each, cook 8-10 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half.  Add to slow cooker.  Cook on low 6-8 hours.  I cooked it on high for about 4.  When meat is tender it's done

3.  Remove the ribs and vegetables, keep warm.  Transfer cooking juices to a small saucepan, skim the fat off.  Discard thyme and bay leaf.  Bring juices to a boil.  In a small bowl mix cornstarch and the cold water until smooth.  Stir the mixture into the cooking juices.  Return to a boil, cook and stir for about 1-2 minutes or until it thickens.

I served the meat, veggies and sauce over mashed potatoes and it was so rich and good.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

 This recipe was originally published as Slow Cooker Short Ribs in Taste of Home February/ March 2014.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Just Some Random Thoughts on a Saturday

Yesterday would have been my Mother's 95th birthday, but she died in 1993, much too soon.  So many things I never thought to tell her or to ask her.  She died from smoking, I quit smoking way back in the 80's, but my 2 sisters still smoke and I wish they could quit.
I'm making short ribs in the slow cooker and they smell so good. It's a new recipe courtesy of Pinterest.   I'll serve them with mashed potatoes.
Had to run to the store today, a friend is coming over for lunch tomorrow and he always asks me to fix my notorious 7- layer dip.  It's so good and so fattening so I don't make it often.  But I needed nearly everything that goes in it so had to hit the store.
I'm still working on my Granny Square blanket, will probably spend the rest of the year on it if I want it King-size.
I'm including a picture taken at sunrise last week, we don't often see them--sunrises that is-- as we get to sleep late now that we're retired.  But we had to get up early the day we drove to Charleston so Mac took s photo.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Five on Friday

Fridays seem to roll around quicker and quicker.  It was a lovely week here, even wore shorts earlier in the week.  Now it's cold again, but with a bright, blue sky so I have no complaints.  I'm joining in with Amy at Love Made My Home as usual.

First is another picture from our trip to Charleston, this is the City Market and is runs for blocks.  I wanted to look at sweetgrass baskets, but the ones I liked were more than $300, so that didn't happen.





Second is the Customs House. It was started in 1853, but work stopped because of the Civil War, restarted in 1870 and completed in 1879.




Third, there are so many historical churches in Charleston.  Mac did a painting of one once and someone in England bought it. Can't remember which one he painted, but here's a picture we took of a typical one.




Fourth is a pub we saw, Mac rather liked it.  But looking at the menu  it didn't sound much like pub grub.



Fifth is the cannon Mac bought me, I own several now and who knows, world domination may be in my future.



Hope you have a great weekend, we're busy planning our next get away, I think it involves a swamp.










Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Ft. Sumpter

We've long wanted to visit Ft. Sumpter in Charleston, that's where the first shots in the Civil War were fired.  Ft. Sumpter had been built on a man-made island in Charleston harbor as part of the the string of forts built along the American east coast after the War of 1812.  We didn't want the British coming back and burning the White House again or any other towns.
The first shot at Ft. Sumpter were fired on April 12. 1861.  An interesting fact we learned was that the return fire by the Union troops was ordered by Captain Abner Doubleday, the man who went on to invent Baseball.
Just think, if he'd been killed in the Civil War we'd have to have waited for someone else to "borrow" the English game of Rounders and turn it into American baseball.
Anyway, we took the boat out to Ft. Sumpter and had a talk on the way given by one of the park rangers.  After a half hour boat ride they let us loose on the island for an hour.  By then it was getting chilly, it had been downright hot all day, but there was a cold wind on the island.
Nice little museum and lots of cannons, which I love.  We saw the 33 star flag that Major Anderson. of the Union Army,  had put up at the fort and was perceived by the Confederates as an act of war.
All in all a very worthwhile trip.
When we returned to shore we had another 1/2 hour of walking back to our hotel.  In the beautiful courtyard wine, cheese/crackers and cookies were being served.  It was a good way to unwind.
We then asked the desk clerk if there was a nearby no fuss place to have some dinner and he recommended the Bull Street Market and Deli which was just around the corner.  We ordered an Italian Roast Beef sandwich for me and a Lamb sandwich for Mac and we shared some German Potato Salad.  A good simple meal for 2 tired people.
In the morning breakfast, which was included in the room price was brought to our door.
All in all a really nice short trip.  Charleston is about 2 1/2 hours from here and an easy drive.  We may need to go back again.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Charleston

Just back from a trip to Charleston, South Carolina, what a beautiful southern city.  It looks a lot like Savannah, but it's much larger.  Charleston was founded in 1670--and that's old by American standards-- and was named Charles Town in honor of Charles II of England.  It's renowned for its many beautiful churches and its pastel antebellum houses.  We walked everywhere as my feet and knees will attest to.
We stayed at the Ellis House a small boutique hotel in the historic district where we had 2 balconies, a 4-poster bed, wine and cheese in the courtyard and breakfast delivered to our door.  Our only complaint was that the bed was so high we needed some steps to get into it and there weren't any, so one of us jumped in---Mac--and he then pulled me up.


Some people were soaking their feet in the hot tub in the courtyard  and we were sorely tempted to join them after all the walking we'd done.


From our hotel we walked to City Market to look at the seagrass baskets being handmade there.  They were gorgeous and WAY to expensive for me.  We'd had an early start so we were hungry and we went in search of a bit of lunch.  We sniffed our way to TBONZ GILL & GRILL where we shared a Low Country Seafood Dip with crab, shrimp, baby spinach and cheese to be dipped by homemade tortilla chips---it was wonderful.  We then shared a plate of Fish and Chips which is really unusual because I'm not much of a fish eater, but it was quite good.






After lunch we walked for an hour and a half getting more and more lost looking for the landing where we could catch the boat to go out to Ft. Sumpter.  Finally asked directions and made it,  after a hike and a half,  with about 10 minutes to spare before the boat left.  More about that tomorrow.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Sad News

First we were losing musicians (Glen Frey, Paul Kantner, David Bowie and Lemmy), then a favorite actor (Alan Rickman) and now in 2 days, 2 authors, Harper Lee and Umberto Eco.  The saddest part of growing older is that the people we've known and admired begin to die.

Guess Where I've Been

My nose is running, my eyes are watery, I'm sneezing, yes I've been out in the yard.  There was a time when I had no allergies, bee stings didn't make me swell up and I wasn't allergic to poison ivy.  Well those days are long gone.  I still work in the yard, I just know I'll pay the price.  There are few antihistamines I can take and they all dry my eyes out so bad I go wild.  So it's grin and bear it time.  We worked in the front yard which has gotten overgrown with weeds and pine straw.  Mac raked and I pulled the weeds out by hand and listened to them squeal---I wish.
Beautiful day, tomorrow is supposed to be too, so it'll be more yard work, sniff, sniff.
But there are rewards.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Five on Friday

It's going to be a quick one  today because we have to hitch up the horses and head into town to grocery shop---and I hate grocery shopping.  Love to eat, like cooking, so there you are.
It's been beautiful here this week, not like February at all.  So a tour of the yard.


One:  
 First stop is in the garden, my hyacinths are starting to bloom, so pretty.  And my reading fairy is sitting next to the clematis waiting for it to bloom and she'll have a long wait because it doesn't bloom till August.







Two:  This is a gazing ball that my sister gave me and it hangs in the wooded side of our yard.  Not quite sure of its purpose, but I like its look.


Three:  Next is the view of the lagoon  at the back of the yard.  Not much activity yet, not warm enough, but soon the turtles will be around and then the alligator.


Four: Are the cabbages, they're finally forming heads and of course, caterpillars found them, but were quickly evicted.  Next are the Fava beans.  In front are ones from American seeds, in the back from seeds we brought back from England.  The English ones are covered in blossoms.






Five:  Are the Azaleas blooming much too soon.  Spring will come and there'll be none of them.




And just because I can, some roses growing in the greenhouse.


Do going in with Amy at Love Made My Home on this the 1st Anniversary of Five on Friday.











Thursday, February 18, 2016

New Beginnings

So pretty here today and the thermometer says its 75º in the sun, feels great.  I even have the back door open to let in some fresh air.  I've been crocheting, started a strange Granny Square afghan, it's one big granny square and I'm doing it in cream, variegated green and a soft yellow.  First time I've worked a granny quite like this one and it's been years since I worked a granny at all.
Also worked a bit on my puzzle, at the rate I'm going should only take a year or two to get it done.
Reading 3 books:  Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, The Spiral Staircase by Edna Lina White and The Debriefing by Robert Littell.
Ready Player One has been recommended by loads of people and it's good, but not great.  All about questing in virtual worlds.  The interesting parts are that the clues are based on 1980's games, music, tv shows and movies.
The Spiral Staircase is from the Golden Age of British mysteries, it was published in 1933 and it's quite good.
The Debriefing is about a Soviet defector, is he legitimate,  are the documents he brought legitimate and who's playing whom.  Good book.

Tried another new recipe this week, Chicken in a Dijon Mustard Sauce with bacon and we all know that bacon makes everything better. Forgot to take a picture, but here's one from Pinterest , that's where I got the recipe, that looks just like it, minus the green bits, I seldomly put in the green bits. It's made with chicken breasts and is quite quick and easy to make.  Mac says it's a keeper.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Election 2016

I'm doing my best to ignore the campaigning because it's very scary.  I will make a prediction though.  If the candidates turn out to be Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, Trump will be elected President----doesn't that scare the beJesus out of you.  Because this country would rather elect a buffoon than a socialist.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Miss Marple

I have to tell you a little more about the Miss Marple book Mac made me.  He knows what a fan of hers I am and have been for years.  I've read all the books and short stories, seen most of the films and tv shows.  I've liked all of the actresses playing Miss Marple except for Angela Lansbury.

The first page of my little book has a map of St. Mary's Meade, Miss Marple's village.  He did it in sepia so it would look old.

In the 2004 tv movie with Geraldine McEwan  her cottage looked like this. I'll be adding this picture to my book.



The next page in my book says, "Know how to think"
  

The picture is Geraldine McEwan, my favorite Miss Marple


The next page says "Know when to be alert" and there is a picture of Margaret Rutherford, my second favorite Miss Marple.  Agatha Christie herself said that she didn't like the movie they made, but she loved Margaret as Miss Marple.



The next page is "Know where to relax".




But the very best page is the cartoon he found.  Please excuse Miss Marple's language.



I already have plans to add to this book with movie and book reviews.









Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day

No you don't need Valentine's Day to tell others you love them.  But isn't it nice to share some love and a cake just made for two on a cold February Day.





To say nothing of the Miss Marple detecting book he made me along with the bright red tulips.  I am indeed a very lucky lady.



Saturday, February 13, 2016

Creamy Corn Chowder With Chicken and Bacon

Not my soup, but a reasonable
facsimile 
I'm going to give the recipe I used for Creamy Corn Chowder, but I'll note where I changed it to suit us.

Ingredients

• 1 lb boneless, skinless Chicken Breast, cooked and shredded, about 3 cups.  I didn't have chicken breast so I used 2 chicken thighs--there's just the 2 of us.  I skinned them, but cooked them on the bone and chopped them up when cool.

•  8 Slices Bacon cooked and crumbled, I used 4

•  1/4 Cup Butter  I have nonstick cookware so I only used 1 TBS

•  1 Medium Yellow Onion, I used a Videlia Onion, they're sweet

•  1-2 Jalapeños, seeded  Did not use, do not like I substituted about a teaspoon or two of Paprika

•  4 Cloves Garlic, minced

•  1/3 Cup All-Purpose Flour

•  6 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Broth  I used 2 cans of fat-free broth and when more liquid was needed I used water

•  3 Medium Potatoes,  diced I used 2

•  2 Bay Leaves

•  2 1/2 Cups Fresh or Frozen Corn  I used one can of Corn

•  1 1/2 Cups of Half and Half  I used a cup of milk

•  Green Onions  Chopped   I skipped this


DIRECTIONS

In a large pot melt butter over medium heat.  Add onions, jalapeños (here's where I used the Paprika) and sauce until tender, about 3 minutes.
Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.
Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes stirring constantly.  While stirring slowly add in chicken broth and whisk until well blended
Add Potatoes, bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Bring Mixture to a boil stirring frequently, then reduce heat to medium-low, I put it on low, and cook uncovered 10 minutes or just until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.
Add in cooked chicken, after cooking  the chicken I deboned it and threw the bones in too because my husband likes them, corn and the half and half (too rich, too fattening I used milk and it was just fine) and simmer uncovered 10-15 minutes more stirring occasionally.
Crumble the bacon in at the end.  I like the smoky taste of bacon so I put it in for about 5 minutes.


Though I cut down on the butter and the half and half this turned out creamy and rich.  In answer to Weaver of Grass, using canned corn was fine.

I went back and amended my original posting on this soup because the picture is not of my soup, I forgot to take a picture.  But it looks just like mine, minus the green onions which I did not use.

If you make it I hope you enjoy it.  I have some in the freezer waiting to be eaten, but today I made vegetable soup.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Five on Friday

Another week has rolled around and it's Friday again, so time to join with Amy at Love Made My Home for Five on Friday.  Do visit her blog today, she has some wonderful love quotes for Valentine's Day.

My Five are things that got made this week or made me happy.

The First is my Valentine's Pillow.  The front is done in a Half-Double crochet with Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick Yarn in this color:
Love the gold thread running through it.
The back I did in single crochet with a simple cream colored yarn.  The heart is done in a variegated pink that I had left over from another project.  It turned out pretty good considering I had no idea what I was doing.
My Second is the latest soup I've made.  It is Corn Chowder with Chicken and Bacon.  I made it yesterday and it was so easy, I'll definitely be making it again.
I should have noted that this is not my chowder, I forgot to take a picture, but except for the green onions it looks exactly like mine.

My Third is something Mac made.  When cleaning up the yard where a tree had fallen during a storm he found an interesting piece of wood and decided to keep it and make something out of it.
Before

After

My Fourth is one of his paintings that is more or less finished, to him they're never finished.
It's based on a photo we took in England at a Steam Fair.



My Fifth is my new pair of silk long johns.  My old pair had mysteriously disappeared.  We walk every morning before breakfast and I bundle up with jacket, gloves, scarf and earmuffs.  So I stay pretty warm on the top, but not the bottom.  I love jeans, but they don't keep you very warm, so I wear long johns in the winter or at least I did until mine went missing.  But now I have a new pair and I'm very happy.

Hope you have a great weekend.





















All Wrapped Up

Started early, finished late.  I started wrapping presents way back in November and except for a few small things due in the mail I'm fi...