Saturday, November 5, 2011

Look who’s sharing a birthday…

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No, no, not Trigger, it’s Jean and Roy Rogers.  Roy was a hundred today, Jean was a few years behind him.  Okay, quite a few, but she is older than me.  Happy Birthday, old friend, I hope you have many, many more…

Sharing the good stuff..

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These little plastic tulip sundae dishes are a great find.  They are usually in stock at Walgreens, and at holiday time they have them in red and green.

You’re probably wondering why I’m showing you these, what’s so special about plastic bowls?  Well, first of all they are like $.49 apiece, and they are the best thing ever when I’m in the kitchen baking.  I guess I’ve watched too much FoodTV, but I always measure my different ingredients into little containers before stirring whatever I’m baking together. 

Okay, I confess, it’s not entirely FoodTV, it’s mainly so that I don’t forget to add something. I have glass ramekins, and FiestaWare ramekins, but they’re bulky and heavy, these are lightweight, stack easily, grab one and you’re good to go.  I have a ton of them, and I use them for all kinds of things.  They’re the perfect size for little hands when you are fixing a snack for little people, I use them for coleslaw, potato salad and baked beans, and they’re perfect for a scoop of ice cream, or a serving of pudding or Jello. They’re unbreakable, dishwasher safe, you’ll find a boatload of uses for them.  You won’t want to trot them out when Aunt Martha comes to visit, save the cut glass for when she comes, but for everyday use, you can’t beat these!

You might want to check the seasonal aisle next time you are in Walgreens, I think I’ve seem them at Wally World, too.  I know, they’re plastic, but they’re goodies, pinky swear they are…

~ jan

Why do things never go as planned, EVER!!!!!!

I’ve been wanting to make that salad in a jar all week, but I didn’t have lids, couldn’t find my wide mouth jars, didn’t have enough lettuce, you know the story.  So yesterday, this little squirrel gathered up all her nuts, found some jars, bought some lids, got the salad ingredients and I was good to go this morning.  WRONG!!!!!

I got out all the ingredients, lettuce, peppers, radishes, celery, red onion, carrots, and I’m slicing and dicing like a madman, thinking that I’m really liking this and I should dust off the trusty old salad shooter the next time to shred the veggies.  I got everything in the jars, it looked great, it was so much easier to prepare salads this way,  I was beyond excited! Yeah, I know I need a life, but anyway, I get out the FoodSaver, attach the vacuum hose, fire it up, and nothing!  El zippo, nada, no can do, the blasted thing wouldn’t vacuum.  Hubby to the rescue, and even he, who can fix anything, couldn’t make it work.  I was frustrated beyond words!

So I go online to Foodsaver.com, get the customer service number, talk to this nice lady named Ruth who gives me all the info on FoodSavers, the latest and the greatest, and of course she has a deal for me.  I say “thank you very much, but I’m not ready to order” after she is pressuring me to buy one, but I’ll check around because you can always find things cheaper elsewhere than the original manufacturer.

Foodsaver-v3840Sooooo, the one I liked was Model V3840, $299.00, which was crazy expensive, but I liked it because it was stainless and I can leave it set out, so I go to eBay, find the same one, Buy It Now, no shipping charges, no tax, for $76.49.  It’s a retail store returned item, the seller is a power seller with great feedback and 100% return policy, so I felt comfortable buying it.  Yeah, I know, it sounds to good to be true, but in the past I’ve had good luck with this type of thing, let’s just hope it holds out for me this time.

And of course I read the reviews, and it’s the same as it is for all FoodSavers, some people love them, some hate them.  I think it’s because people can’t figure out how to seal the bags, it’s really tricky getting that bag in that little channel, but  once you get past the learning curve, it’s a walk in the park.  We’ve had ours for several years, and it’s the type that you seal by pushing down on the unit with both hands, this one is hands free, you just push a button, a big improvement, since it gets constant use.  We buy whole pork loins, have the butcher cut them into 3/4” chops and freeze them.  They’re so good, and so inexpensive when you do it this way.  We’ve had great luck freezing all kind of meat, no freezer burn, ever, with a FoodSaver.

So, with a little luck, in a few days, I’ll be showing you pictures of my Ball jars filled with salad.  Oh, about the salad, I put them in the fridge anyway, because I already had them in the jars, I pulled out a quart jar at lunch, it’s the perfect amount of salad for two people, or a chef salad for one – this is gonna be awesome once I get it working. I’m also going to vacuum seal nuts, coconut, chocolate chips, raisins, my pantry is going to be lined with Ball jars, which will make me smile, because these are the jars of my childhood.

So, let’s hope I’m not gonna be on here in a few day p*ssing and moaning about how the thing doesn’t work and I have to send it back. 

I’m usually pretty positive about this type of thing, but it’s been a really bad month, so Little Miss Merry Sunshine is just a bit skeptical.  But we shall see…

Friday, November 4, 2011

Peanut Butter, Jif vs. Skippy…

When I was a kid, I did not like peanut butter, I didn’t like the smell, the texture, the taste, it just wasn’t for me.  Then I grew older, and my opinion changed, and now that I’m really older, I adore peanut butter.  By the time I decided I liked it, largely in part to commericals like this with Annette Funicello, who I thought was absolutely drop dead gorgeous, I jumped on the Skippy bandwagon.

Skippy became a staple in our pantry, and then the boys grew up and started watching commercials like this.


Well, of course I had to be a choosy Mother, and they just had to have Jif instead of Skippy, I abandoned Annette and my brand loyalty and started buying Jif.  And I liked it, I really liked it, it was sweet, it was yummy and it had a great looking jar. ;o)  My kids loved it and to this day it’s our families peanut butter of choice, even though blind studies show that Skippy always beats Jif.  In fact, I had a lively discussion about this very thing just a couple of weeks ago with my friend Trish and her brother Mike, who are die hard Skippy fans.

So, maybe I’ll buy a jar of Skippy for old times sake, but I just don’t think I’ll like it as well.  It just doesn’t get any better than Extra Crunchy Jif in my opinion.  And now that they’ve had the worst peanut harvest in decades, those jars are going to get pricey.  But sometimes it’s just worth it, sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.  So I bought a hug jar today, peanut butter and celery, mother always fixed this for the kids, and it’s still our favorite way to eat it…

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thanksgiving Favorites

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It’s that time again.  Every year I post my friends Thanksgiving recipes, a list we all collaborated on back in 2008.  There are some amazing recipes here.

Some of the most requested are Nisha’s Chicken Velvet Soup from L. S. Ayres Tea Room, Jan and Kaysi’s wine infused Cranberry Jello Salad (Lindsay’s Aunt Jan’s recipe, not mine) and everybody’s favorite, Barb’s Melt-in-your-Mouth Pumpkin Bread.  All of these recipes are special, as are the ladies that gave them to me.  I’ll post them in my sidebar until after Christmas.

Happy Cooking! 

~ jan

Here’s the quick link for you…

About that food storage YouTube link yesterday…

I hadn’t watched it before I posted it, but it was a Morman lady taking food storage to the extreme with solar ovens and 1-3 years worth of food stockpiled.  I admit, I was fascinated, and sat and watched all 8 or 9 videos.

I was intrigued by her pressure cooking meat, that took me back to my childhood as mother, grandma and the aunts always canned meat, quart jars filled with chicken, jars of sausage and my favorite, pork tenderloin in gravy. 

Mother canned so many vegetables, fruit, pickles and relishes, and an email this morning from my friend, Carlene about sauerkraut made me think of the fall when she always shredded cabbage, let it ferment in big crocks in the kitchen and canned it for the winter.  I loved it, cold from the fridge, it tasted nothing like the kraut you buy in the bag at the grocery store today. 

I still have her old recipes, her sweet pickles that took fourteen days to make, her wonderful garlicky dill pickles, zucchini relish, Aunt Mae’s Pear Honey that I need to post on Jan CAN Cook, to name a few, and it makes me sad that I never make any of her wonderful food. Maybe I should pick just one thing and make it, just to see if it tastes as good as I remember.

I’ve already given John and Deanna the heads up about my birthday dinner this year, as we will be with them in a cabin at Gatlinburg.  I want something I haven’t had since I was a child, and I’m sure nobody will like it but me.  It’s a strange combo, but oh how I loved it.

Mother always made it in an electric skillet, she would brown hamburger, onion and green peppers, drain off the grease, then stir in a quart of her canned tomatoes, breaking up the tomatoes with a fork, then she would add dried spaghetti and simmer it until the spaghetti was tender.  The starch from the spaghetti would thicken the sauce and it was just yummy!  Then, and this is the best part, she would make mashed potatoes, put them in the middle of the plate and puddle that spaghetti over the top.  Oh my, it was soooo good, no wonder I wasn’t a skinny little kid!  It was totally unlike the spaghetti we have today, no italian seasoning, not even garlic, just onion and green peppers. 

Will it taste as good as I remember? I can just see all of you thinking, ewwwwwww, I don’t know about this.  Hubby is already going “yuck” but he’s just gonna have to deal with it along with the rest of the family, while I take my walk down memory lane. In our family you get anything you want for your birthday with no questions asked!  I’m still working on dessert, haven’t quite figured that out yet.

Heaven knows I’ve had many years of strange combination of birthday foods from the boys growing up so I doubt they will give me a hard time about this…

Besides, what goes around comes around.  Works for me! Winking smile

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Our little tiny dancer...

I haven’t had a crazy idea in a long time….

Well, that’s debatable, but back in the day I was always trying some kind of hare-brained project, that often resulted in less than stellar results, and most assuredly involved poor long suffering hubby engineering my schemes.

But I’m older now, I just don’t have the determination I once did.  Oh, I still find “things” I would like to do, but usually forget about them in less than five minutes because my brain cells are dying off faster than Superman’s speeding bullet.  And then along came Pinterest, which I and a lot of my friends, enjoy more than anything we’ve found online in ages.  There are all kinds of “ideas” to pin, and because it’s visual, it triggers my aging brain into remembering.  A good thing you would think, well, not always, because once again the wheels are turning and I have all kinds of “things” on my to-do list.  At the top of that list is a little project which involves Christmas and family, and it’s a great one, but since my sweet daughters-in-law read this blog, I can’t talk about it.  I can, however, clue any of you as to what I’m doing, it’s just really fascinating, inexpensive and will make a great gift, so if you’re interested in knowing what it is, just email me.

Now on to my next project. It’s Salad in a Jar.  I try to eat salad several times a week, especially now, because I’m just getting over the gawdawful flu/sinus/ear infection that has plagued me for the past three weeks, which resulted in my lying around with hubby spoon feeding me boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese, my comfort food of choice when I don’t feel well.  Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people who doesn’t eat when they’re sick, oh no, yours truly stuffs it in like it’s the last supper.  And since I’ve lived in Yoga pants for weeks now, putting on my jeans and zipping them is taking herculean effort, the muffin top goes all the way to my chin, and once again, I’m on the salad bandwagon.  It’s either that or start ordering up those Pajama Jeans that were all over the infomercials last year.

But, I’m also lazy.  I know it’s no big deal to make a salad, but sometimes I just don’t want to chop all those veggies, cut the lettuce, day after day after day,  you know what I mean.  Precutting results in brown edges, and limp lettuce, so that isn’t an option either.

But this is where my latest idea comes in, thanks to a great blog I found via Pinterest, called Salad in a Jar.  You do need a couple of things to make this work, wide mouth Ball canning jars and a FoodSaver attachment.  I’ve long been a fan of FoodSavers, my whole family uses this amazing gadget to vacuum pack meat for the freezer.  I found this YouTube video on how to vacuum seal jars if you’re interested.  She starts showing how to use it 3:30 minutes into the video.  There is another video, this one is a whole 8 part series about food storage, you can find it here.

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I’m going to link you to the original article on how to do this, because after all it’s not my idea and I can’t take credit for it, but in a nutshell here’s what you do.

You take several quart size, at least for me because I like big salads, wide mouth jars, but you could do this with pints as well, put in your salad greens, vacuum seal them, and put them in your refrigerator.  Because the vacuum seal sucks the oxygen out of the jar, the salads stay fresh all week without turning brown and wilting.  All you have to do is grab one, add protein, put dressing in the jar, shake it, pour it on a plate and you’re good to go….

Ingenious huh? I’m going to try doing this today.  I’ll update you on the results.

Here’s the link to the blog entry, in fact the entire website is pretty amazing, I’m so in awe of people’s talent…

Hope you’re all having a great week.  ~ jan

Monday, October 31, 2011

BOO!!!

I wish Halloween was the way it used to be…

hThe Halloween’s of my childhood were so different than today.  We were hobo’s and pirates, outfits put together from whatever we had on hand.  We dressed up in Mother’s clothes, her pearls, her high heels, and a little hat with a veil and white gloves and we walked familiar neighborhoods where people knew us, and they actually “guessed” who we were.

We wore half masks, with a tablecloth thrown over our shoulders and we were transformed into Zorro.  We paid $.79 for a gauze mask at the drugstore that smelled awful when you put it on your face, but we were thrilled when we looked in the mirror and saw a princess or a devil looking back at us by just by using our imagination and that inexpensive little mask.

People made popcorn balls, wrapped them in cellophane and gave them to us for treats.  And we got big red shiny apples, and it was simple, and it was magic…

Those really were the days, my friends…

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My annual Halloween Sloppy Joe Recipe...

 

I post this recipe every Halloween, it dates back to the early '80's when we were living in Denver and my friend Susan shared it  with me.  It's  been an annual Halloween tradition at our house ever since, Sloppy Joes and potato chips, and now the boys make them for their families.  When they were little it was such a busy time getting them ready to trick 'or treat, so I would make this ahead and have it for them when they got home with their "loot."  And since I love holiday traditions, it quickly became a "must make" every Halloween.

I've given this recipe to countless friends, and everybody loves it.  It's made from simple ingredients you will have in your kitchen, almost as easy as opening a can of Manwich and so much better!  So, if you've never tried these, do yourself a favor and make them for your family this week.

This recipe is a scan of a scrapbook cookbook page I made for John and Ryan a few years ago, it's a bit hard to read, so here is the text:

1 teaspoon salt
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon worchestershire sauce 
1 tablespoon vinegar (white)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (heaping)
1 cup Heinz ketchup
1/4 cup water
cayenne pepper to taste
1 lb. ground beef

Salt and pepper ground beef to taste, brown with onions, drain, add the rest of the ingredients and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.  My guys always loved them with a slice of melted Velveeta on top and my homemade Lime Pickles.  

This is one of those recipes you will make again and again, it's just the best ever!

Happy Halloween

~ jan

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