Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Braised Pork Loin with Dried Fruit and Coffee Sauce Posted by Hello
I tried out this new recipe tonight for dinner. Scot and I both thought it was good. I had my doubts about the Coffee sauce but it actually tasted great with the Pork. I found this recipe in Yankee magazine in an article all about coffee

Total time: 1 hour 40 minutes; active time: 30 minutes

1 tablespoon cumin seed (lightly toasted in a skillet, optional)
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed or powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 3-pound pork loin, trimmed of excess fat (leave 1/2-inch-thick layer on top)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup chicken stock, plus more as needed
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped medium
2 cups dark-roast coffee
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped dried prunes and apricots
Preheat oven to 325°. Place the spices, brown sugar, and salt in a coffee or spice grinder; grind until fine. Pour onto a plate. Wash the pork loin and pat dry. Roll loin in the spices until evenly coated.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over a moderately high flame. Brown the pork loin on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove pork and deglaze with 1 cup chicken stock, stirring up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add garlic and onion and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add carrots and cook 5 minutes longer. Add pork and place skillet in oven.

Cook pork until it reaches an internal temperature of about 155°, about 1 hour. Periodically baste with the pan juices. If the liquid gets low, add a little more chicken stock. Transfer the pork and vegetables to another plate. Place skillet back on high heat and add coffee and dried fruit to the pork juices. Reduce the sauce to about half. Slice the pork and serve with sauce and dried fruit.

Yield: 6 servings

Preschool Treats

Muddy Hand Cookies Posted by Hello

Today was Quinn's treat day at preschool. He loves it when it is his turn to bring the snack. The theme for the week is number 5 so I made hand cookies. I found a recipe for Muddy Hand Cookies at I happened to already have a cookie cutter in the shape of a hand so these were very easy to make. The cookies had a nice rich chocolate flavor and taste good even without icing.

2/3 Cup butter
1 Cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 1/2 Cups flour
1/2 Cup unsweetend cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla extract together. Add eggs and mix well. Add dry ingredients, blending thoroughtly. Chill dough until firm. (I rolled the dough between layers of parchment and then chilled it to speed up the process)

Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thick. Lay your hand on the dough and cut around it to make your handprint. ( I used a hand-shaped cookie cutter) Bake on an ungreased sheet at 350 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes.

Turtles enjoying the Sunshine Posted by Hello

We had beautiful warm weather yesterday. Scot and Cade captured some great photos of turtles basking in the sun at the lake. I love the reflection in this photo and how each turle is in a different position all with their heads up. I think we will get an enlarged copy made and frame it for Scot's office.

Puschkinia scilloides

Spring Blooms Posted by Hello

Quinn found this pretty little plant blooming in the front yard yesterday. I always forget I have this plant and it is always a nice surprise when we find the early blooms.

Striped Squill; or,
Lebanese Squill

"Angels in the early morning
May be seen the dews among.
Stooping, plucking, smiling, flying.
Do the buds to them belong?"
-Emily Dickinson

Puschkinia scilloides var libanotica has been gardened since 1808. It is an extremely hardy flower growing to only six or eight inches tall, with sprays of palest pale blue six-petalled flowers that come close to an iceberg white, with a thin deep blue stripe down the center of each petal. There is also a genuinely white form called "Alba."

Pulmonaria rubra 'Redstart'

Lungwort Posted by Hello
One of Scot's favorite perennials is lungwort. There are several different varieties but we do not find them too often at garden centers. We have atleast 3 or 4 different lungworts in the garden. We brought this one home from Landmark Gardens last summer when we stopped there to look at Hostas. After we purchased a few Hostas, the owner generously gave this lungwort to us since we commented on it in his garden. The foilage (being plain green) of this lungwort is not as showy as some of the others growing in our garden. For example, Mrs. Moon has bright green leaves covered with bold white spots and always draws attention. Although the foilage of Pulmonaria rubra 'Redstart' is not the most spectacular of the lungworts, it is by far the first one to bloom with cheerful red flowers.

"Pulmonaria rubra, found in South East Europe, is a clump-forming, rhizomatous, evergreen perennial with elliptic, unspotted, bright green matt leaves up to 60cm (24in) long.

The flowers are tubular and 5 lobed, brick-red to salmon-red and borne over a long period from late winter to early spring.

'Redstart' has coral-red flowers and is often the first Pulmonaria to flower in midwinter."

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Last night I made the Shrimp Etouffe recipe that is in Joy of Cooking. I substituted a 1 pound bag of frozen jumbo shrimp (these had been in the freezer for a while and needed to be used up) for the fresh shrimp called for in the recipe. I was pleasantly surprised by the results. We ate the left overs for lunch today and it was very good.

"This Louisiana classic is rich, complex, and intense."
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 onion quartered
2 cloves garlic lightly crushed
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground black pepper
10 coriander seeds
1 small dried chili pepper
3 pounds large shrimp
Return the liquid to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let the shellfish cool in the liquid for 10 minutes. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon. Strain the liquid into a clean saucepan and boil until reduced to about 2 cups. Meanwhile, peel the shrimp.
Heat in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot:
3 T peanut or other oil
Stir in:
3 T flour
Cook, stirring often, until the flour turns brown, about 10 minutes, stir in:
1 red or yellow bell pepper, minced
1 medium onion, minced
1 jalapeno seeded and finely minced
1 T minced garlic
Cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the reduced stock and cook, stirring, over medium-low heat until thickened. Stir in the peeled shellfish along with:
4 scallions, minced
2 T butter, cut into small pieces
1 T fresh lemon juice
ground red pepper to taste
salt and ground black pepper to taste
Heat through and taste and adjust the seasonings.
Serve with:
Hot cooked rice

DUTCH BABY Posted by Hello

We made this giant puff pancake for breakfast on Monday morning since there was no school. The boys ate it with peanut butter and apricot jam. I made it in the oven in a glass pie pan since I do not have a cast iron skillet. This recipe comes from the JOY OF COOKING.

"Sometimes called a German or puff pancake, this batter is poured into a skillet looking like a heap of scrambled eggs and emerges from the oven puffed and wondrously golden. Serve this straight from the oven with a dusting of powdered sugar, a spoonful of the best fruit preserves you can lay your hands on, or some sliced fruit sauteed in butter and splashed with brandy or dark rum."

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
whisk together until smooth:
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
Melt in a 10 inch ovenproof skillet (cast iron is ideal) over medium heat.
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) melted butter
Tilt the pan so that the butter coats the sides. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and cook, without stirring, for 1 minute. Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the pancake is puffed and golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately, for the pancake loses its puff, and therefore its drama, almost immediately.

For twice as many servings, double the recipe for Dutch baby, above. Melt the butter in a 12x9 inch ovenproof glass baking pan in the preheated oven. Pour in the batter and bake as directed for 15 to 17 minutes.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Happy Easter Posted by Hello

The Boys Making Easter Story Cookies Posted by Hello


Easter Story Cookies Posted by Hello
This is a really neat family activity to do at Easter.

This is a recipe for teaching children about Easter while baking cookies and reading the Bible at the same time. My neighbor Lynn emailed me this to try with Cade and Quinn. The boys enjoyed the mixing while Scot read the Bible verses and I got the supplies ready and tried to further explain the verses and the symbolisms so they could understand the process. After the cookies were finished, Quinn was really worried that there would be a person inside the oven. Well, atleast we captured their attention for a while with this Lesson. Not sure if the intent of this recipe/story really sunk in the way it is suppose to; but we had fun anyway.

1 cup shelled whole pecans
1 tsp vinegar
3 egg whites
pinch salt
1 cup sugar
wooden spoon

Preheat oven 300 degrees
Place pecans in baggie. Let children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested He was beaten by the Roman Soldiers. Read John 19:1-3
Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp of vinegar into the mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross He was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19: 28-30
Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11.
Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27
So far the ingredients are not very appetizing.
Add 1 cup sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because he loves us. He wants us to know and belong to him. Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16.
Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 - 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isa.1:18 and John 3:1-3.
Fold in the broken nuts. Drop by tsp onto a wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid. Read Matt.27:57-60.
Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF.
Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed. Read Matt. 27:65-66.
GO TO BED! Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven over night. Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20 and 22.
On Easter Morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. Read Matt. 28:1-9.


Easter Lunch Posted by Hello


3 T honey
1 1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup mayo
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp olive oil

place ingredients in small bowl and beat until smooth. Refrigerate until serving time.

3 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
1/2 cup chopped green cabbage
3 med carrots shredded
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 T. sliced almonds
1/3 cup chow mein noodles

Toss Romaine, cabbage, carrots, and red onion together and place on serving plates. Sprinkle with almonds and chow mein noodles. Drizzle desired amount of dressing on top of salad.


I make this impressive and easy giant sandwich often.
The sandwich can filled with about anything. This is one of Lori's Recipes in the Church Cookbook.

Oat Foccaccia:

5 1/2 cup flour
1 cup oats-I use old fashioned
2 pkgs active dry yeast
2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup molasses
1 T butter
1 egg,lightly beaten
1 T dried minced onion
1 T sesame seeds
1 tsp garlic salt

Sandwich filling:

6 T. mayo
2 T. mustard
lettuce leaves
1 pound thinly sliced fully cooked ham
6-8 slices of Swiss or cheddar cheese
4 red onion silces separated into rings
1 med green pepper sliced thin
2 med tomatoes sliced thin

In a large mix bowl, combine flour, oats, yeast, and salt. In a saucepan, heat water, molasses, and butter to 120 degrees. Add to dry ingredients; beat until moistened. Place in a greased bowl; turn once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled about 45 minutes. Press dough onto a greased 14-inch pizza pan. Cover and let rise until doubled about 30 minutes. Brush with egg. Sprinkle with onion, sesame seeds and garlic salt. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Split foccaccia in half horizontally and spread both cut sides with mayo and mustard. On bottom half, layer lettuce, ham, cheese, onion, green pepper and tomatoes. Replace top half. Chill until serving.


Scot made this delicious spread for an appetizer. We served it on whole wheat crackers.

This is a Greek spread skordalia (skor-dahl-YAH). It is made with ingredients that are usually on hand. Baking potatoes in the microwave turns their skins leathery, but here the skins are removed after they are baked. The microwave cooks the potatoes in just 10 minutes, so if you prepare the other ingredients while the potatoes cook, this can be ready in about 15 minutes. Serve as a dip with toasted pita or savory bagel chips. Russet potatoes will turn gummy when pureed in a food processor so mash them with a fork, then switch to a small whisk when adding the chicken broth.

2 or 3 medium russet potatoes
2 large cloves of garlic minced
1/2 tsp salt
Ground black pepper to taste
2 T juice from 1 lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup canned chicken broth

1. Cook the potatoes in the microwave on high power until soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Holding the potatoes in an oven mitt, peel or peel when cool enough to handle.

2. Mash the potatoes with the garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil. Whisk in enough broth to make a soft spread. Transfer to a serving bowl; serve at room temperature.



This is one of Lynn's recipes from the church cookbook.

1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup graham cracker crumbs( I added ground cinnamon to the crumbs)
1/3 cup margarine, melted
4 (8oz) pkg cream cheese
2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup amaretto
1 cup sour cream
3 T sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract

Combine crumbs and margarine and press into 9-inch springform pan. Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Stir in flavoring and amaretto. Pour on top of crumb mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool for 10 minutes. Combine sour cream, sugar and almond extract. Pour on top of cheese mixture; bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees. You can freeze this. Garnish with maraschino cherries or sliced almonds. I sprinkled the sliced almonds on top of the cheesecake and then served the cheesecake with sliced strawberries. For the Strawberries, I mixed 1 pint of sliced strawberries with 1/2 cup sugar and a few tablespoons of amaretto.

Lynns Easter Egg Hunt for the Boys Posted by Hello

Egg Hunt Posted by Hello

Cade Posted by Hello

Boys Hunting Eggs Posted by Hello

Quinn Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Cade's Spring Picture Posted by Hello


Oatmeal Molasses Bread Posted by Hello

I found this recipe in a 1956 Betty Crocker's PICTURE COOK BOOK that I found for $.25 at a garage sale last summer. It has some great casserole and cakes recipes as well as yeast bread recipes like this one. I love this recipe since the dough requires no kneading and it only requires one rising. It is very quick for a yeast bread recipe. The results are a very moist and nice dark colored loaf. We made egg salad sandwiches for lunch using this bread.

Moist, delicious, and crusty! Made without kneading.
Stir together in mixing bowl...
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup light molasses
1 T salt
Cool to lukewarm.
Combine, stirring to dissolve...
2 pkg active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water(not hot-110 to 115 degrees)
Stir into lukwarm oatmeal mixture. Mix well.
2 eggs
5 1/2 cups sifted flour
Mix thoroughly. Cover; let stand 15 min. Place dough in 2 greased 9x5x3" loaf pans and pat into a loaf shape. Let rise in warm place until double (1 1/2) hour ) bake until brown

Temperature: 350 degrees (mod oven)
Time: Bake 1 hour
Amount: 2 loaves

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Hosta Growing Update

Boxed Hosta 'Swan Lane' and "sieboldiana 'Elegans' Before Posted by Hello

It has been eleven days since I potted up the bareroot or dormant Hosta roots that came from Sams Club in a box. I can't believe how much they have grown. They went from very fragile white stalks and roots to beautiful spring green leaves. It is fun to check their progress every morning. They Hosta 'So Sweet' from the Hosta club meeting has been in my house for 17 days now and has opened up at an amazing rate and looks beautiful and is starting to show margins on the green leaves. My husband thinks I am nuts and is worried I will now grow Hostas as house plants--maybe in the late winter months from now on, anyway?

Hosta 'So Sweet' Before Posted by Hello

Hosta 'So Sweet' Posted by Hello

Hosta 'Swan Lane' Posted by Hello

Hosta sieboldianna Posted by Hello

Growing Boxed Hostas Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Another Seed Order Has Arrived!

Seed Catalog Posted by Hello

I received my seed order from this family run seed and poultry company out of Calamus Iowa. They carry a very large selection of heirloom tomatoes and other heirloom seed as well as an extention selection of poulty. I also ordered Cannas-they will be sent when the weather is appropriate. They black and white catalog is charming and I loved the seed packets. The seed packets were priced from $1.00 to $1.75. They also sent me a free packet of Scarlet Cypress Vine.

This is what I ordered:

Canna Green Queen
Canna Bronze Prince
Canna Red King
Red Perilla: This is an Herb with red Coleus-like leaves used in Japanese cooking.
Old Fashioned Petunia
Moss Rose
Melanopodium: 2 feet tall, little yellow zinnia-like flower
Hollyhock: primarily Black
Himalayan Celosia: variegated leaves; single crest red flowers
Cosmos Sulfereous Kenikura
Zinnia Crystal White Zinnia angustifolia: long daisy-like flowers
Ghanat Coriander: True coriander, Strong flavor.
Ester Hess Yellow Cherry Tomato: Iowa Heirloom, large deep yellow cherry.
Yellow Pear Tomato: old fashioned thumb sized.

The Address is:
Sand Hill Preservation Center
1878 230th Street
Calumus Iowa 52729-9659

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