Saturday, December 1, 2012

How about a giggle tonight...


Old Navy Christmas Family Vacation Commercial


I so snagged this video from my daughter-in-law Deanna, and her Harris Sister’s blog.  Donna put up a great post, including *ouch* pricey Hallmark Christmas Vacation Ornaments.  It’s a fun read.  Here’s the link…

Cast Iron Skillets, what’s old is new again…

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I’ve been reading lately about the resurgence in cast iron. The sales have increased dramatically, and I like to think it has to do in part with my beloved Pioneer Woman, who uses it weekly on her FoodTV show.  So, it seems that mom grandma really did know best.  Of course I was raised with mother using cast iron daily, and I veered away from it, as a young bride, it just wasn’t cool to cook with cast iron.

When the boys were young, hubby and I used to go to auctions that had new Sears merchandise closeouts and he bought me a set of orange Le Creuset cookware for next to nothing.  Of course I was clueless as to how expensive it really was, I bought it at an auction after all.  I used it for years, finally giving it to mother and replacing it with Magnalite and Calphalon.  Then when we moved to the condo ten years ago, I decided I needed stainless steel, and Ryan scooped up the Magnalite.

The boys have used cast iron for years now, as well.  John never uses soap on his, he just uses water to clean it and it never sticks.  He makes the most amazing green beans with bacon and onions in his, something about the iron just gives it an indescribable flavor.  Ryan has Mother’s favorite iron skillet, it was the one thing of hers that he really wanted.  And yours truly, I’m loving it again as well.  I always kept a small orange Le Creuset iron skillet from all those years ago, I’ve used it all these years, it’s my “go to” when I make cornbread.

You just can’t beat cast iron, and Lodge makes a really good line of preseasoned cookware.  It’s inexpensive, it gives food a wonderful flavor,  it’s simple, basic, and it performs so well.  Amazing that it took me forty years to figure out that mother really did know best.

And I have a Jan’s helpful hint for you.  If this post has you thinking about cast iron, and perhaps you have an old piece stuck away in the attic that was Grandma’s, and it’s really icky but you can’t part with it, well it’s a no brainer to bring it back to life.  You just put it in your self-cleaning oven, turn it on, and like magic, the heat from cleaning the oven will bake off every piece of crud, grease, and ickiness that’s on the skillet.  Then you just coat it with oil, stick it in the oven for a couple of hours and you have a better than new reseasoned piece of cast iron.

It’s  a good thing, pinkie swear it is.  ~ jan

Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Gift Ideas

When we were in Franklin, Tn. last weekend  we shopped the delightful downtown stores.  Franklin is a wonderful little town, just chocked full of the quaintest boutiques,  and of course, they have great displays of things that you might not see in other stores.

Being the foodie that I am, I was naturally drawn to the cookbooks, so I took lots of pictures with my iPhone, and now I’m going to share my finds.  All available on Amazon, of course, I hope you enjoy, and maybe you will find something that you would like to give as a gift or keep for yourself. Winking smile  There are naturally lots of Southern cookbooks, included, I’m awfully prejudiced, but I do think southern food is the BEST!

"Southern cooking is the Mother Cuisine of America." -Nathalie Dupree

Through more than 600 recipes and hundreds of step-by-step photographs, Dupree and Graubart make it easy to learn the techniques for creating the South's fabulous cuisine. From basics such as cleaning vegetables and scrubbing a country ham, to show-off skills like making a soufflé and turning out the perfect biscuit-all are explained and pictured with clarity and plenty of stories that entertain. Traditional Southern recipes and ingredients are also given modern twists to make them relevant for today's healthy lifestyle.

With more than 750 recipes and 650 variations, making a perfect piecrust, a heavenly biscuit, mouthwatering vegetables, or crispy fried chicken is attainable for any home cook. The recipes and directions are easily accessible to kitchen novices as well as seasoned cooks-there is plenty here for everyone.

Nathalie Dupree is the author of twelve cookbooks, including two James Beard Award winners: Nathalie Dupree's Southern Memories and Nathalie Dupree's Comfortable Entertaining. Her latest books include Shrimp and Grits and Southern Biscuits. She has hosted more than 300 television shows and specials that have shown nationally on PBS, The Learning Channel, and The Food Network. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina.

Cynthia Stevens Graubart is an author and former television producer whose culinary television production career includes Nathalie Dupree's New Southern Cooking. Cynthia is also the co-author of The One-Armed Cook, as well as the co-author of Southern Biscuits. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Ask any pie lover—the words "southern" and "pie" go together like ripe fruit and flaky pastry. And behind all the mouthwatering, light-as-a-cloud meringue peaks and the sticky dark butterscotch fillings lies a rich and delicious history. In Southern Pies, some of the South's most famous bakers share recipes for 70 pies. Perfect for bakers of all skill levels, these pies are made with simple, easy-to-find, and gloriously few ingredients. Featuring such classics as Sweet Tea Pie and New Orleans Creole Coconut Pie, this tasty homage will fill everyone at the table with Southern hospitality.

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Renowned food photographer Katie Quinn Davies’ cookbook shares her favorite simple dishes with a dazzling collection of recipes and beautiful images (American edition).

After spending more than a decade as an art director working for some of the top design studios in Ireland, the United States, and Australia, Katie Quinn Davies refocused her creativity towards food and lifestyle photography and created a blog called What Katie Ate. An Internet phenomenon, What Katie Ate has received international attention and was even dubbed one of the best food blogs in the world by GOOP. Showcasing her extraordinary eye, this debut cookbook is a unique combination of food diary and how-to, with tips and tricks, photographs, recipes, and stories.

Sharing more than one hundred simple culinary recipes drawn from Katie’s travels, dinner party cooking and foodie haunts, What Katie Ate emphasizes seasonal ingredients and irresistible flavors. Featured dishes range from Wild Mushrooms on Toast with Parmesan and Herbs to Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apple, Prune & Pine Nut Stuffing and Cider Cream Gravy. What’s for dessert? Temptations include Coffee Hazelnut Frangelico Cake and Honey Baked Peaches with Vanilla Bean Créme Fraiche.

Perfect for entertaining, this gorgeous cookbook minimizes the time spent in the kitchen and maximizes the time spent enjoying the meal with friends and family. Bringing together easy-to-cook recipes (using standard American measurements) with gorgeous world-class food photography, What Katie Ate will indulge all of your senses.

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• The Vintage Tea Party Book embraces the style and class of the trendy London Vintage scene and illustrates how to beautifully recreate the tasty treats and classic styles at home

• A unique mixture of recipes and feature spreads with accessible tips on hairstyling, makeup methods and tips on where to collect vintage china

Angel Adoree cordially invites you to accompany her on a journey to create your perfect vintage tea party. Expect glamour, roses, rabbits, headscarves, foxes, teapots, crows, parlour games, cake stands, hair and make-up tips and, not forgetting, humongous amounts of magical tea party food that is fit for the Queen of England, and easy enough for you to make.

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Photographer Todd Selby is back, this time focusing his lens on the kitchens, gardens, homes, and restaurants of more than 40 of the most creative and dynamic figures working in the culinary world today. He takes us behind the scenes with Noma chef René Redzepi in Copenhagen; to Tokyo to have a slice with pizza maker Susumu Kakinuma; and up a hilltop to dine at an inn without an innkeeper in Valdobbiadene. Each profile is accompanied by watercolor illustrations and a handwritten questionnaire, which includes a signature recipe. Reveling in the pleasures of a taco at the beach, foraging for wild herbs, and the art of the perfectly cured olive, Selby captures the food we love to eat and the people who passionately grow, cook, pour, and serve these incredible edibles every day.
Praise for Edible Selby:
“Todd Selby has turned his curious eye to the kitchens of some of the world’s most imaginative cooks, artisans, and foragers. Far too often, food and the people who produce it are hidden behind closed doors or lost in an industrial food system, so it’s heartening to see this book champion those who have nothing to hide. With Todd’s trademark good humor and disarmingly quirky style, Edible Selby is a pure celebration of the creativity and authenticity of the wonderful individuals who are bringing real food to the table.”
- Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant
“Todd Selby’s foray into the world of food is every bit as intriguing as his eccentric take on the world of interiors. Long live Signor Selby!”
- Simon Doonan, Barneys New York creative ambassador
Edible Selby captures the energy and excitement of today's food world. This book is pure Selby.”
- Thomas Keller, The French Laundry
“Books On My Gifts List…Photographer Todd Selby’s scrapbook reportage on passionate cooks and famous chefs around the world. Messy, magnificent, inspiring.”
Food & Wine magazine
“Exploring the world for food, that’s what Edible Selby is all about…and hopefully, you get really hungry when you read it.”
New York Daily News

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With this charming guide to casual outdoor entertaining by Denise Gee, belle-of-the-ball author of Southern Cocktails, party and decorating ideas have never been more simple or inspiring. Gee and acclaimed photographer Bobby Peacock crisscrossed the U.S. photographing their favorite porches and dreaming up fresh, summery spins on classic Southern drinks, resulting in 50 recipes for everything from punches to cocktailsincluding several nonalcoholic sippers and 10 uncomplicated snacks. Grab a bottle, whip up some Tipsy Tea or Prosecco Martinis, and take the party outside!

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Taste the chocolatey goodness of Mississippi Mud or marvel at the extravagant elegance of the Lady Baltimore and there will be no doubt that Southerners know how to bake a cake. Here are 65 recipes for some of the most delicious ever. Jam cakes and jelly rolls; humble pear bread and peanut cake; whole chapters on both chocolate and coconut cakeseach moist and delicious forkful represents the spirit of the South. A Baking 101 section offers the cake basics, some finishing touches (that means frosting and lots of it!), and the how-to's of storing each lovely concoction so that the last slice tastes as fresh and delightful as the first.

 

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Betty Rosbottom, beloved author of Sunday Soup and Sunday Roasts, knows how to make Sundays feel special. For this third title in her Sunday series, she turns to the most leisurely and convivial meal of the week, brunch. Providing a year's worth of special meals, this book contains 80 mouthwatering recipes for eggs, stratas, pancakes, waffles, quickbreads, hash, and beverages, as well as 32 tantalizing color photographs and dozens of delicious menus. Full of enduring staples and delicious surprises, Sunday Brunch will become the go-to for tried and true Sunday treats.

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“Housekeeping is becoming more and more a matter of science, and the laurels are bound to fall to the woman who conducts her household in a business-like way.”
Let the thrifty sensibility of yesteryear be your guide as you shop for the most economical foods, choose wall colors scientifically, clean with natural products, look your best without breaking the bank, and budget your way to frugal efficiency. In this amazing collection of clever wisdom and practical advice drawn from vintage home-economics textbooks, you’ll find everything you need to get back to basics and run a healthy and happy household. Home Economics covers all the categories of delightful domesticity:
     •  Health & Hygiene
     •  Cookery & Recipes
     •  Manners & Etiquette
     •  Design & Decoration
     •  Cleaning & Safety
     •  Gardening & Crafts
Rediscover the art and science of keeping house—economically!

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Our little aviator...

 

 

Lindsay sent this picture of Ben this morning, I just had to share. That little hat is positively darling...

 

Sugar Cookie Buttons from Country Living…

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I’ve loved Country Living Magazine since it came out in the 80’s.  Even though my decorating style has changed, you just can’t take the girl out of the country (living).  So this afternoon I was leafing thru my Christmas issue and saw this cookie idea, it just rang my chimes.  And no, I’m not going to make them, so don’t be looking for them showing up on your doorstep, but maybe somebody else will!  So, so cute, buttonhole cookies with ribbon strung through them.

You like the idea, too, don’t you?  I knew you would…

Click here for instructions on how to make them, and where you can buy the paper-mache boxes and stencils.

Let’s Talk Holidays…

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First of all, I’ve mentioned Amazon Prime often on this blog.  I’m such a fan of this service, I’m sure I’ve blogged about it before, you know I have no memory.  But here’s what’s so good about Amazon Prime, Not only do they give you guaranteed 2 day delivery, you also NEVER pay shipping charges.  I order things for as little as $6 and pay no shipping and get it in two days.  And, since it’s Amazon, you don’t pay tax.  So why would I go to the store?  I can sit here, with Maggie on my lap, drinking my coffee and I don’t have to trudge to the stores, don’t have to pay tax, gas, etc.  It’s wonderful.

And the cost?  Well, I buy it yearly for $80, which seems a little spendy, but I get my money’s worth.  You also get Amazon movies and tv shows free with this, lots of instant stream shows are available.

However, Amazon now has Amazon Prime on a trial basis for $7.5 per month.  They’re trying to hook you of course, and if you sign up for this and don’t want it past the month, you need to go to the Amazon settings and uncheck the box to renew it, or they will keep charging you for it.

It’s so worth the price, I can’t tell you how wonderful this service is.  I would guestimate that 75% of the items on Amazon are eligible for Prime, you will see a blue checkmark and the word PRIME by the item if it’s eligible.  Occasionally, third parties don’t honor this, but most of them do.  Such a great convenience.

And now let’s talk about slow cookers.  We’ve all had them, forever, and maybe you’re still using your original crockpot.  Is it time to update?  Do you want a new one for Christmas?  They’ve improve them so much, I use mine so many times weekly, it’s just wonderful.  It took me years to realize that you don’t have to cook things all day, chicken breasts, even frozen cook in 2-3 hours on high – no liquid, just plop them in the pot, season and let them go. 

slowcooker

Earlier this week I made sweet potatoes in mine.  Big sweet potatoes, that I put a foil boat underneath so the juices wouldn’t burn in the crock, I cooked them on high for 4 hours, they were perfect.  I also threw in a large baking potato for LC, wrapped in foil, at the same time, it came out great, too.  No worrying about timing them to be done for dinner, you just put them in, walk away and you’re good to go.

I love cooking in the morning, dinner is ready, and you don’t have to fix it later in the day.  I have chili in mine right now. ;o)

csr

Okay, now let’s get serious.  Sometimes you get what you pay for.  A few years ago Ryan and Lindsay bought me an awesome All-Clad Deluxe Slow Cooker from Williams-Sonoma.  It was pricey, I would have never bought it for myself, but I have just loved it.  The insert comes out, you can start cooking on the stove or brown your ingredients, and then you just plop it in the cooker and you’re good to go.

However, all has not been rosy with this cooker.  I’ve had problems with the liner’s finish bubbling, and I’m on my third cooker now.  Williams-Sonoma replaces them, with no problem, but at this price, the finish should not bubble.  Ry & Linds have the same cooker, they’ve had to replace theirs as well.

But there is a new kid on the block.  The Cuisinart MultiCooker.  This thing rocks!  Ry and Lindsay bought it for John and Deanna for Christmas, it’s even better than my All-Clad, and it’s pricey, too.  But, if you want to invest in a product that is multi-functional, and that will probably last you for the rest of your natural born life, this Cuisinart is awesome!  Nisha’s Mandi has it as well, this thing is great!

Now you may have only paid under $50 for your Crockpot back in the day, and it’s been a workhorse, I’m sure, but if you want to take it to the next level, trust me on this, Cuisinart is definitely the way to go.  Just click on this link and see all the features.  It’s a good thing.  Pinky swear it is.

So if you get mad money for Christmas, or have a special request, think about this, it’s amazing.  Just don’t gasp at the price.

If you are looking for some new slow cooker recipes, Williams-Sonoma has a great selection.  Here’s the link…

And we might as well talk about one more thing, an electric pressure cooker.  Again, I’ve probably talked about this before, but Christmas is a good time to refresh your memory.

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I have a WolfGang Puck Bistro, 7 quart cooker, that I bought from HSN, Cuisinart makes a nice one, also, but my WolfGang Puck is larger.  I adore this pressure cooker, and yes, I know I have an unnatural love relationship with my appliances, but I’m a foodie.  I use my pressure cooker for all kinds of things, I even pressure cook eggs in it.  I could go on and on, but it’s so wonderful to put things in it, set it and forget it, and not have to worry about the thing exploding, as you do with the old fashioned kind.

They come in many colors now, and you can get on on eBay lots cheaper.  They have a “Buy It Now” today for $65.  Here’s a link for you of the eBay listings.

And that’s my ideas for you today, I have more, I’ll be back later today or tomorrow with an update.

Happy Shopping.  ~ Jan

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How about a giggle this afternoon…

Screenshot 11_27_12 2_55 PM

My Garbage Disposal Died….

Untitled

OH, NO!!!!!!!!!!!  I had a sink full of crap yesterday, turned on the disposal and all it did was hum.  So I dug all of the garbage out of the sink, thinking that was the problem, since I totally clogged it a couple of weeks ago, but oh no, I couldn’t be that lucky, it still hummed.

So I bring in the big dawg, hubby, who deemed it dead, Fred, however, he did have a workaround.  You turn it on, and while it’s humming you stick a wooden spoon down in the hole and like magic it starts grinding.

Well, this ain’t gonna fly in my house, sport fans, holy schmoly, can’t you just see me trying to stick that spoon down there to make the thing work.  That’s a disaster in the making.

So, he goes online, do we order it up using my super fast shipping awesome Amazon Prime account and receive it by Wednesday???  Oh no, he can get a better one on eBay, better price, and it’s quiet.  So okay, I can go for quiet, and I tell him to have at it.

The bad news, it won’t arrive until Friday (we hope).  The good news, I’ve only ground 1/4 of the handle on the wooden spoon so far.

Just didn’t need this problem this week, I just didn’t!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Our Family’s Thanksgiving in Pictures

turkey

This was the best turkey we’ve had in years.  The guys had two  meat probes in it, and I think that made the difference, they took it out at exactly the right time.

casserole

Thanksgiving at our house must include this broccoli casserole.  It’s Ryan’s favorite, he made a double batch, and as much as we all tease him about it, I have to admit, it was really good.

deanna

Deanna, in her cute little rooster apron, was happily making her favorite, cranberry sauce.

 

yum_edited

Thanksgiving dinner was so good, especially the Frozen Cranberry Fluff.  I’ll post the recipe later on Jan CAN Cook.

abbyizzie_edited

A little girl and a dog.  Oh my, Abby and Izzie have bonded.  They are great friends now, Abby throws the ball endlessly, and Izzie fetches endlessly.  She giggles, they romp, lots of kissing going on, with both of them.  Totally entertaining…

lindsabby_edited

It was so warm Thanksgiving day, the family went for a long walk, well everybody but LC and I.  He watched football, I read, worked for us. ;o)

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I think Uncle John was enjoying this more than Ben. 

goulash

And this, my birthday dinner.  I know you are all probably going, ewwwwww, but it’s goulash, Mom’s Goulash to be specific, a wonderful childhood favorite.  A puddle of mashed potatoes with hamburger, peppers, onions, red sauce and macaroni. And it was DELICIOUS!  You can’t go wrong with triple starches at a meal ;o)  Even the boys, who are a hard sell, liked it and said they would eat it again.  That’s major in our household…

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Sweet family.  I would much rather post pictures of them than myself.  My pictures were bad, beyond belief! 

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Okay, one picture, how can it be a bad picture with Abby on my lap.  We’re at the Rockettes Christmas Show.  Oh my, Abby loved it.  She sat on her P-Pa’s lap the entire two hours (minus a fifteen minute intermission) and she literally barely moved.  Every once in a while she would look over at me and say, “WOW, GRAMMIE, this is SO cool.”

It was her first live performance and we wondered if it would hold her attention, but it certainly did.  She had a blast.  I’m sure we’ll be doing this again and again with her.  Ben, too, in a few years. ;o)

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We took this before we left for Opryland.  She was SO excited, can you tell…

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Lindsay spends a lot of her time rocking and dipping with Ben in her arms.  He’s happiest when he’s on the move.

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He’s changing so quickly, I managed to get a bit of a smile in this picture.  He’s a good baby now, well his parents might argue that point a bit, but he really is good most of the day.  He sits and goos at us, and makes us smile.  Oh, so, sweet…

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Ahhhh, here’s what our little BenJammin does best.  He’s got that thumb sucking down. 

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And sometimes, he sucks both thumbs at once.  Pure talent, says a proud Grammie…

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I love this picture of LC and Abby.  P-Pa on his laptop, Abby on her iPad.

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John was such a trooper.  He was fighting an ear infection the entire weekend, but it didn’t slow him down at all.

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And finally, sometimes things don’t quite go as planned. Abby had clearly had enough of this whole picture taking, she was finished!

And so am I, until next Thanksgiving.  And thanks to all of you, for indulging me with my family pictures.  ~ jan

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Busy Monday Morning…

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No time to blog this morning, just posting pictures of the grandkids. 

Ben will be four months old on December the 8th.  He’s just precious, he smiles at us, goos, and is starting to blow bubbles.  He’s found his thumb, and he’s a world class thumb sucker, too.

I bought Abby “Elf on a Shelf” and it was an instant hit.  In this picture, she’s just found him hiding on a shelf.

Lots more to come, including our trip to see the Rockettes Christmas Show.

But for now, I’m playing catch up, so I’ll be back later today.  Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!  ~ Jan

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