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Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

Santa Claus

It’s time again for my annual reminder to check out http://www.northpole.com

This site is pure magic for little kids and everyone.  All kinds of activities, stories, and games to delight all ages.  Recipes from Mrs. Claus’s kitchen for moms and dads.  Toys and gift ideas, crafts, write to Santa, visit Santa’s reindeer, watch NORAD track Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.  Your little ones will be entertained for hours.

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For the past few months, I have been ripping through my house on a mission to rid myself of accumulated junk, or as I think of these things – priceless treasures.

I am a collector, but sometimes not a discerning one. This becomes problematic when you begin to feel crowded in a 2,700 square foot house.

One of my weaknesses is books, and particularly, cookbooks. Even though I can find millions of recipes online, I still buy them. When I added on to my laundry room a few years ago, I built floor to ceiling bookcases for these. These shelves quickly overflowed to additional shelves in the nearby pantry, the shelf above my washer/dryer, and the top of the dryer. The washer is a top-loader, thus was off -limits (most of the time).

The fact that I only ever use about ten percent of these culinary tomes did nothing to advance my thinking that I have an excess. When I had to move a pile to turn on my dryer this week, this pushed me over the edge. All four hundred or so cookbooks have now been personally touched by me, reviewed, rearranged and relegated to a box or a new location. Oh, and dusted (cough, cough).

All surfaces not designed for books are now book-free, and I have six full boxes in the garage to donate to the library book sale. I will admit there are still about three dozen cookbooks in a state of limbo (on top of the washer so they don’t become too comfortable there). I intermittently pick them up and peruse them, attempting to make a final determination as to their disposition.

I’m certain, in my remaining three hundred books, I have recipes for every conceivable comestible known to man. I’m aware that, should I find a deficiency, the world wide web can help me. This is my irrational fear:  In the event of a terrorist attack on Gettysburg, the zombie apocalypse (which my friends and I have a plan for), or a simple power outage, the internet will likely be unavailable to me. I may need to know how to kill and gut the squirrels in the yard, and cook them up into a delectable and savory treat. There are deer in my neighborhood.  I may need to locate a recipe for Venison Cheese Chowder or Venison Loins In Bear Swamp Marinade (which has nothing bearish or swampish in it). Thus I had to keep my copy of the North American Hunting Club Wild Game Cookbook and also Wild Game Cooking.  I have given much less consideration as to how I would obtain this wild game I imagine needing to prepare.

Of course, it nearly goes without saying, I had to keep my books on foraging and how to prepare a myriad of plants, nuts, tubers and fungi readily available in my yard. I did sacrifice a book on soufflés to the donate box, but just now I’m thinking I could undoubtedly make one with dandelions and sorrel.

It was easy to get rid of Microwave Cooking because, without power, what good is that? I kept all my bread and cookie cookbooks. I have a wood-burning fireplace, and I’m fairly sure I can improvise a way to bake in an emergency.

Do I feel better now that my laundry room/pantry is tidied up? Yes, but I have to get past these pangs of withdrawal gnawing at me. I do still have voluminous files of additional recipes I have cut and clipped from all kinds of print media over the years. Baby steps.

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My initial motivation was a web posting about de-cluttering called 40 Bags In 40 Days. http://www.whitehouseblackshutters.com/40-bags-in-40-days-2014/.  I did this last spring and it makes you feel great. Check out this site…there is a printable chart for you to track your days.

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If you have kids or grandkids or you just love Santa Claus, you need to visit www.northpole.com

I found this site years ago.  Every Christmas it pops into my head and I can’t resist.  I have to go there.  Then I share it with old friends and new .  They are always as thrilled as me to learn of such a great site they feel good about their kids exploring.

Your kids will be enthralled, but there is much to keep an adult occupied as well.  Mrs. Claus has hundreds of wonderful recipes in her kitchen just waiting for you to stop by and find something special.  You and your kids can find gifts in the toy shop.  In the reindeer barn, the kids can find stories to read, or have them read to them…how great is that?  They can even print out the stories along with pages they can color.  The kids can write to Santa, ask questions, check out the weather at the North Pole and track Santa’s journey Christmas Eve with the help of NORAD.

There is so much on this site to keep little ones busy, and there are options for parents and teachers as well.  I’m a big kid, and I love it.  Let’s go see what the elves are doing right now!

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I follow a wonderful blog, Texana’s Kitchen.  Christine is a born and bred southerner and posts wonderful articles and recipes.  She recently talked about leftovers that seemed anything but, and also stuffing.  She mentioned that when she talks stuffing, she is only referring to the cornbread variety.  This got me thinking.  We put all kinds of things in our birds…ha, ha, ha, and some of them seem pretty weird and exotic to me.  I’m Pennsylvania Dutch and we never even call it stuffing.  It is filling to us – maybe because it really is.  Think about that one.  We insert filling into our fowl, and it is yummy bread filling.  I know that may sound boring, but trust me, it’s delicious.  I’ll add my recipe below and maybe you can be the judge.  It is fabulous hot with gravy and even better to nibble cold, right out of the fridge, after the holiday meal.

Well, back to what other folks put in their birds.  Christine is a cornbread girl.  Then there is the old-fashioned oyster stuffing…okay if everyone coming loves oysters but off-putting for those of us not so enamored – although I do have a to-die-for ham and oyster pie recipe I confess to enjoying (maybe I’ll share that also).  Regaining my focus here, there is also the long-standing chestnut stuffing which I have never eaten.  I did find a recipe for chestnut and pear stuffing that sounds wonderful.  It contains bacon (and how could you then go wrong?), cranberries (yum), garlic, wine, etc.  I’m salivating now and it’s not pretty.

Let’s not forget apple stuffing, mushroom stuffing, nut, sausage, pineapple, rice, currants and potato and squash.  After I became curious about this issue, I researched stuffing and have decided that you can put anything you want in your turkey, goose, duck, chicken, capon, pheasant, quail.   The ingredients I found were a staggering array of all things edible.  Here’s the problem – no matter how many wonderful recipes I find, the holidays dictate tradition at my house, and I suspect in most homes.  Everyone is expecting the same dinner each Thanksgiving and Christmas.  You can mess with it around the edges, but not the major stuff.  If you are too adventurous and spring surprises on the group, you may elicit shrieks of protest and disbelief.  I guess the solution, necessarily, is to experiment on your own time and make some ordinary day special when you hit upon a new and worthy culinary sampling.

Pennsylvania Dutch Bread Filling for a 20-25 lb Turkey:  In a large bowl or tub (I use my Tupperware cake container), tear up enough white bread for your bird (at least two large loaves), add diced celery and onion to your liking, add salt and pepper to taste, parsley, about two to three cups of Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing mix (the blue bag), 10-12 eggs (yes – a dozen).  Now melt butter (you will need about two sticks), pour slowly over your ingredients, mixing with your hands as you go.  You want the filling very moist, but not soggy.  You can add a little whole milk if you need more liquid and don’t want to clog your arteries with more butter.

Note:  Adjust ingredient quantities for smaller birds.  If you have too much filling for the bird, it is also very good done in a crockpot.  Take the raw filling that is left and place in a crockpot on low, add chicken broth as it cooks to keep it moist and stir occasionally.

Ham & Oyster Pie:

3 cups of ground ham, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 can of oysters (drained), and 1 cup heavy cream

In a bowl, mix the ground ham and Dijon mustard.  Put this mixture in bottom of an unbaked pie crust.  Top the meat with the drained oysters and then the chopped onions.  Drizzle with melted butter.  Pour heavy cream over all.  Cover with the top pie crust dough and bake at 350 degrees until done – about 35 to 45 minutes.  (Most meat departments will grind the ham for you.)

This is so easy and so delicious…

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and count your blessings

My next post will be Monastic Music…lovely!

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