Saturday, November 26, 2016

Ghost Of Christmas Past

It's the weekend we ordinarily "deck the halls".  This year finds me feeling a bit nostalgic.  We've been moving furniture, trading furniture, painting walls, making drapes,  creating flowerbeds, and shuffling things about literally since we arrived two years ago. 

It's been until recent, when crossing the causeway to the island felt that we were "home". Changes come fast, acceptance comes slow, doesn't it?   We can pack ourselves up, and wander amuck, have adventures, and explore - yet, that feeling of home, is slower to come.  Home, it takes a while.  I'm uncertain when it happened for me, when the Texas Gulf Coast, finally felt like home.  It's here. I'm nested among the palm fronds.   In this realization, with the Christmas holiday approaching, I found myself flipping through photos of Christmas past.  





A small boy, reading "T'was The Night Before Christmas"






Our tall, somewhat skinny tree dressed in red, green, and gold. It's been with us a long time, a gift from a friend.  This was it's first year, with it's 100 lights per foot, I carefully strung. Yes, it's the unfashionable style without the lights attached. Which is actually why it came to us. My friend upgraded.  





Much better, this year I purchased greenery for it, and tucked it within the branches.  Greenery gives a simple tree interest.  I used silver glitter dusted sprigs of cedar style greenery. I usually add several stems to the top to bulk it up a bit. 





A piano lovingly restored,  now many years passed it lives with someone else. I continue to hang wreaths from ribbons, simple, grouped together they make a big statement.




When the walls were beige, and the furniture faux leather, the mantle faux finished to appear weathered, and old.  I took a coffee table a part, and placed it atop the iron plan stand, using it as a base. It quickly moved from behind the sofa to in front, I tucked a small stool under the table. Jr. completed his homework there for a long time.  




Gifts of Christmas past, whispering to us.  We used to open gifts upon Christmas Eve, then travel about Texas Christmas day to visit family.





This was the year I went neutral. I  recovered the sofa; it was actually a forced recover, had something to do with a can of root beer being tested, we learned if you shake them, they will spew everywhere! The walls changed to ivory, with accents of gold.   We loved those chaise lounges, they were so comfy.  I spent more time napping TV, than actually watching. The mantle was painted out to match the wall, the hallway painted a dark gold.  I can just see a glow from the fire, I miss having a fire.


That's ribbon running about the living room. Santa leaves his gift upon a string for Jr.  Each year Santa runs ribbon about the house, and places Jr.'s name upon a tag.  Jr. winds the ribbon up around the tag, wandering over furniture, under furniture, over chandeliers, in search of his gift, found everywhere from the refrigerator, the dryer, to the garage.





Paper bag advent "tree" , the year I was reupholstering the chairs, and hadn't finished.






Silver and green with a sunburst mirror atop, rather than a star.



Crepe Myrtle branches cut from trees in the yard, arranged inside the blue and white porcelain ginger jars upon the mantle, then dressed with snow flakes.






Our tree dressed in silver, grey, and clear "icicles" with crepe myrtle branches tucked inside. Jr. chose a star that year for the top.  He was less than excited about the starburst mirror.





Mamaw's nativity set, she made in ceramic class





Decorating the tree in our Austin home.  For years I've strung the lights, added the greenery, then sat down turning it over to my guys.  Mr. GDC, and Jr. decorate.  It's one of my favorite traditions.  Laughing, and watching them, placing each ornament with care, fussing over who gets to place what; "Those are mine! You did the long glitter things last year!".  Boys.  









A blue cottage upon the coast, with bannisters to dress.  Affectionately referred to as "Sybi", short for Sybil, because she has multiple personalities. A bit Victorian, a bit cottage, a bit modern.





The beautiful antique round pedestal table I refinished, then a neighbor claimed.  We had big plans to move the front door, the dining room was actually going to be the foyer. We then learned that you can't simply move a door on a historic home, without approval. hmmm. An antique secretary covered the door in the foyer for a few months, then eventually moved along to someone else.   Decorations, and furniture were sparse last year.



Last year Santa and his sleigh ended up in the tree, the reindeer climbing upward, and the long glitter things were placed upon the bottom of the tree. Wonder which one did that?

I'm thinking the snowflakes hung from the ceiling, at "Sybi", just 7 blocks from the beach, may not be sensible, I wonder, has it snowed here, ever?   The beach dressed in snow, that would be beautiful.




What to do this year?  I've been searching for another tree.  Now that we are beginning to settle, I think another small tree or two would be nice.  Shall we remain neutral, or add some color?  Snowflakes or jump, and have a few shells?  Are sea shells Christmas décor? With miles of banisters we could do with more garland.  Hmmmm.  What to do, what to do?


Wishing you a happy day of decking the halls, whatever your traditions may be. 
Until next time - 




 












Friday, November 18, 2016

Carrots Andrea

Carrots Andrea






What happens when you become bored, and want something "different"?  Experimentation!  The end result is some tasty fare, or a disaster. I've had my share of those!   Luckily, this bored day, we had  apple juice, dried cherries, walnuts, and carrots about the kitchen.  We tend to snack upon dried fruits, and nuts.  I keep apple juice on hand as a tenderizing agent, adding it often when roasting meat.  This unusually gray fall day, I served Carrots Andrea paired with thin sliced Ribeye steaks accented by beef bullion, infused with garlic, basil and pepper. The colorful side dish gave our dinner plate a lovely bit of fall color. Paired with a meat as a side dish, or taking center stage as a main course, I hope you'll find this simple, quick, recipe a bit of tasty fare.



Heat over to 350 degrees F

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper





Ingredients


6 medium sized carrots, chopped
1 cup apple juice
1/2 medium lemon (about 1-2 Tablespoons of juice)
1 cup dried cherries (pre-cooked)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon dried thyme
sea salt and pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons olive oil


Method:


In a sauce pan, over medium heat, gas mark 3, add apple juice, dried cherries, and the juice of one half lemon. I juice my lemon over the pot, squeezing the juice into my hand, allow it to pass through my fingers, while catching the seeds.









Allow the apple juice to simmer, reducing to about a half cup. During the cooking process, the cherries will plump, and the sauce will become a gorgeous, aromatic, deep red. Once reduced to half, turn off heat.






Peel and chop carrots in large chunks, about 1/2" thick.
Roughly chop walnuts. 






Add carrots, walnuts, thyme, salt, and pepper to a large bowl.  Pour olive oil over the top of the ingredients, and mix well, coating the carrots, and walnuts.  This method of mixing your ingredients in a bowl, allows the spices to evenly dispense throughout.  An even distribution prevents a deposit or burst of a specific spice, which can ruin your dining experience.





Once coated, pour the mixture on the prepared baking sheet, spreading the carrots out so they will bake evenly.  Insert into middle rack of oven, and bake for 20 minutes, or to desired softness.






Pour the apple cherry mixture over the top of the baked carrots, then serve.  The combination of savory, sweet, and citrus creates a tasty side dish,  with beautiful color for your fall dinner offerings. 

Andrea 2.0

For an option; substitute orange juice for the apple juice, omit the lemon, and substitute cranberries for the cherries.  This creates an equally aromatic, colorful, tasty fare with a bit more citrus, perfect alongside poultry.


Experimenting in the kitchen can be fun.  Don't be afraid to pair different ingredients.  The result may become your signature side dish.  Enjoy.


Until next time. Wishing you all the best -




Saturday, November 12, 2016

Ham and Cheese Quiche with Cream Gravy

Ham and Cheese Quiche with Cream Gravy


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Bake Time 20 minutes

Quiche Ingredients:

2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 slices ham chopped
1 cup grated cheese (I use 1/2 cup of Kraft cheddar, paired with 1/2 cup Kraft Italian Blend)
1/2 - 1 Teaspoon Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
1 Refrigerator Crust



 

Quiche Method:





Prepare baking pan for crust; butter, then flour the pan. Take a bit of room temperature butter on your fingertips,  and smear it onto the base, and side of the baking pan.  Then add a bit of flour, shake the pan coating the bottom and sides well. Empty any access flour from the baking pan. This will prevent sticking. 






Add your refrigerator crust to your prepared baking pan, making certain it is snugly fitted against the bottom and sides. Use your fingertips to push the dough into place.  Using a fork, pierce the bottom, and sides of the crust.  Piercing will prevent the crust from bubbling up, and separating from the baking pan during the baking process. 








Chop ham into small squares, about 1/4".  

In a bowl, place raw eggs, and beat with a fork approximately two minutes, until well blended, and a bit frothy.     Add the Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning to the eggs, and whisk with your fork to blend.




Add grated cheese, and ham, stir blending well.




Pour the egg, cheese, ham mixture into the prepared baking pan.  Place in center oven, upon center rack, and bake at 350 degrees F, for 20 minutes, or until golden brown, and knife inserted in center of quiche comes out clean.





Cream Gravy Ingredients:

1 cup milk
1/4 cup flour
3 Tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste






Cream Gravy Method:






In a sauce pan melt 3 tablespoons of butter on low to medium heat, gas mark 2  Do not allow the butter to brown, you want it just melted.   




Turn heat off. Important!




To the butter, with the heat off, add flour, and stir vigorously incorporating the flour, and butter forming a roux.  Note; the heat must be off, if the heat is on, your flour will not incorporate into the butter, it will clump, causing your gravy to be lumpy. 


Once the butter, and flour have formed a smooth base, add salt, and pepper to taste. 





Add milk slowly, stirring vigorously.  It's best to add a small amount of milk, then stir to incorporate it into the your roux base.  Adding milk gradually, while stirring constantly.  This methods help to create a smooth gravy. 






Once the milk is incorporated, turn heat back on to medium low, gas mark 2, and heat the gravy.  As the gravy heats, the gluten will thicken, and cause the gravy to thicken.  Once gravy is to your desired consistency, it is ready to serve.  



Spoon a bit of gravy, atop your quiche, and enjoy. The cream gravy is not necessary to this recipe.  I'm a 4th generation Texan, we think everything needs cream gravy!  We can't help ourselves.  You may certainly enjoy the quiche plain, especially if you are gluten sensitive.  But...if you want to pretend to be a Texan, whisk yourself up a bit of cream gravy, and enjoy a taste of Texas.   Besides it helps your, real man eat quiche.


Until next time, wishing you all the best -


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A New Day

Election Results Are In



It's been an unusual election year.  At times, a bit embarrassing.  The world has been watching with great interest. The experts predicting.  The candidates slinging mud. The media, well, being the media. Americans taking to social media to voice their passionate opinions. A country divided, families divided, and friends divided.

Today, Donald J. Trump, has won the American Presidency.  I think this election, more than previous, speaks to the division, and frustration within our country.   Regardless of our individual political views, yesterday, the majority of America made a choice.  


Let us never forget, that government is ourselves, and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President, and senators, and congressmen, and government officials, but the voters of this country.

Franklin D. Roosevelt


I'm hopeful today we may unite, regardless of are individualism, and move forward together, as a nation.  Wishing America a bright tomorrow -





Sunday, November 6, 2016

Chicken Pot Pie





Preheat Oven to 350 degrees


Ingredients:


2 Boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 Small golden potatoes peeled, and chopped
2-3 Carrots peeled, and chopped
1 onion sliced, or chopped (your preference)
3 Cups Chicken Stock
1/2 Cup Riesling
3-4 Teaspoons Olive Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Course Ground Black Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cardamom
1 Teaspoon (3-4 sprigs) Rosemary finely chopped
1 Garlic clove finely chopped
3 Tablespoons Butter, plus 1 Tablespoon for coating pan
1/4 Cup Flour, plus a sprinkling for coating pan
2 Refrigerated pie crust (I'm not a skilled crust maker. I cheat!)







Method:







Boil chicken breast in 3 cups of chicken stock, on medium heat, gas mark 3, twenty minutes, or until tender.  I use 3 cups water, paired with 3 teaspoons of "Better than Bullion Chicken Stock".  Once cooked, remove breast from broth. Set broth aside, to be used later. Cut breast into small pieces.  





Hello Puppy!  The aroma of chicken cooking in stock, brings our hopeful pup to the kitchen.  Our sweet "puppy", formally named "Jade". We adopted her on St. Patrick's day, Jade, as in Jade green.  She's our precious girl.  Of course, she got a bite, or two. Who could resist that face?





Prepare a baking pan; butter and flour the pan.  This will prevent your crust from sticking.  Take a tablespoon of softened butter, spread it around the pan with your fingertips. 





Sprinkle a bit of flour into the baking pan, then shake the flour around the pan ,gently coating the bottom, and edges well.





Lay your crust into the baking pan, then pierce the bottom, and sides with a fork.  Piercing the crust will prevent it from raising, or bubbling, and allow the crust to cook snug against the baking pan surface.






Peel, and chop vegetables into small pieces, approximately a half inch square.  Finely chop rosemary, and garlic. If you like, measure out your other spices. Tip; I organize everything on the cutting board, which allows me easy access, and a nice flat surface to push ingredients off of, and in to the pan. Please note, I don't chop the onions, while Mr. GDC favors the flavor of onions, he doesn't care for them. Leaving onions in large slices provides the flavor, and easy removal.  Chop away, if you wish.






In a large pan, with a medium edge, add 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil.  Heat oil on medium high heat, gas mark 3.  






Add chopped vegetables, onion,  rosemary, garlic, sea salt, course ground black pepper, and cardamom to the oil. Sauté stirring often, 3 -4 minutes allow the seasoning, and vegetables to soften. Continue to cook, until onions begin to change in color from solid white, to soft opaque cream.






Add finely chopped garlic to the pan, continue cooking for 2 -3 minutes, until slightly brown. Scrape the bottom of the pan afterward to pull up all of the crusty bits.  Turn heat off and allow the vegetables, and seasonings to sit, whilst you begin a roux.







Make a roux base; melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a bowl, or cup in the microwave,  heat 30 seconds, on high, or until melted. 





To the cup of melted butter, add 1/4 cup flour, and stir briskly, blending well, and smooth. 





The consistency should be similar to cake batter.





Important! Make certain heat is off before continuing to the next step.  If heat is on, the roux will thicken too quickly, causing it to lump. 

Add the roux base, to the pan.  Add 3 cups of chicken stock to the pan pouring it in slowly, while stirring the broth, and roux base together until blended.  Add 1/2 cup Riesling, stirring well.  Add chopped chicken, and stir to mix.





Turn heat back on, under pan, setting it on low, to medium, gas mark 2.  Simmer the ingredients for 4, or 5 minutes, alowing the roux to thicken slightly.   Once the roux, is a bit thickened, pour the mixture in to your prepared baking pan.






Add your top crust, and cut slits for venting.  Vents will prevent your top from cracking, and the filling from spilling out.  I bake my pie sitting atop a parchment lined backing sheet, in case the pie bubbles over during the baking process.  The parchment lining protects the baking sheet, and provides easy clean up if needed. 





Place pie on baking sheet, in the center of the preheated oven.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes until the crust is golden brown. 




 Allow your pie to cool for five minutes.  Then serve with your favorite, crusty bread, or salad. 





A family fall favorite, though the temperature on the island is 80 degrees today!  The palm fronds are falling.  Enjoy -

Wishing you all the best, until next time -