27 November 2010

Pink Saturday ~ Pink Door Knobs

Pink Saturday is hosted by Beverly at How Sweet the Sound. She loves pink and graciously invited the rest of us to play along. Check out her blog to see who all else is enjoying this week's pink party.

Every year in June East Liverpool, Ohio hosts the Tri-State Pottery Festival. This area has been a centre of pottery production in the US since the 1800s. The festival has been being held for over 40 years and one of the events they have each year is the National Door Knob Toss Contest.

In the contest only official knobs are thrown at a sand filled tire. The thrower is 24 feet from the tire and there is 4" PVC pipe in the tire. The point of the game is to get the doorknobs in the pipe. The rules and scoring are the same as for horseshoes. The winner is the first to score 21 points.

Door knob tossing as a game actually originated in East Liverpool. During World War II Riverside Knob Works made tens of thousands of knobs a day. As with any industry some pieces are imperfect. The ones that didn't pass quality control were dumped by the banks of the Ohio River. People in the area began picking up the discarded knobs and started tossing them for fun. After the War, the game really caught on and kids in the area grew up playing it.

Eventually though vintage doorknobs became collectible and the supply was becoming thin. In 1986 the Homer Laughlin China Company began producing the doorknobs made specifically for playing the Door Knob Toss Game. Besides the doorknobs used in the competition, people can buy a set of six knobs packaged with the instructions. Typically the knobs are glazed in Fiesta colours. This set is made of two of Post-86 Fiesta's introductory glazes: rose and seamist.

Many Fiesta collectors also add these doorknobs to their collections. And the only sad thing is the game knobs can't really be used on doors.

Happy Pink Saturday!

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25 November 2010

It's Turkey Day!

To all my family and friends in the US, I wish you the very best of Thanksgiving celebrations.

As we get up and start our traditions (watching the Macy's Day Parade, cooking, spending time with family, watching football, gathering together, EATING), I am focusing on what I am thankful for today. This year I am so grateful for my health, my family, and all my dear and cherished friends (online and IRL). I couldn't have gotten this far without you all. My donor is a 23yo foreign donor, and I am thankful to him every single day. Once again he is being called on by the docs to make a donation for me - this time of T-cells. I am so hopeful I will get to meet him and let him know how much he means to me and how grateful I am to him. May each of us have many special loving returns of this day.


P.S. The card was made from a scan of one of my vintage postcards and Photoshop magic.
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22 November 2010

Blue Monday ~ Sanibel Island

Last week I was spending my time in paradise on Sanibel Island. Besides the obvious blues of the sky and water, there were many other blues that were just waiting to be featured on Blue Monday. I'll share a few today.

First, a sign at a Tiki bar gives a reminder:

And another sign exhorts us to live on island time:

Bikes are for rent at many places on the island. And there are lots of three wheelers, like this blue one.

Finally, a perfect place to relax and enjoy the Gulf:

Blue Monday is hosted by Smiling Sally. Check it out and see who else is playing along this week.

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20 November 2010

Pink Saturday ~ a fabulous pink Chevy

Wanna take a ride? Pink Saturday is hosted by Beverly at How Sweet the Sound. She loves pink and graciously invited the rest of us to play along. Check out her blog to see who all else is enjoying this week's pink party.

I have to tell you all, I am so excited about my contribution this week. There is a story behind it. Some months ago one of my facebook friends posted a photo of an antique truck that had been painted pink. She plays harp and they passed by this truck on one of her harp playing excursions. In the caption she mentioned it was located in a town in rural Alabama. After quite a bit of searching I discovered the pink Chevy pick-up is not in a town in rural Alabama at all. It is in a town in rural Georgia! But not too far from the state line, so I can see how the confusion happened.

We were at Sanibel Island last week and I decided to try to find the town where the pink truck lives. Google is such a friend. It turns out that by making a slight detour for our trip home, we could pass right through that little town: Cuthbert, GA. I am also working on a photo essay of water towers. (More on that later.) As lagniappe, Cuthbert also happens to have a fabulous water tower that is located right in the middle of the highway. Obviously, this was a not-to-be-missed photo opportunity. (One of those things that I used to refer to as a sign from God.) I HAD to go by here.

As an aside, do any of you go out of your way sometimes to make photographs? Or plan particular photo opportunities into your trips? I do this all the time. The detour we took was actually quite a bit more than slight, but it really did work well into our drive and we got the opportunity to see an area where we've never been before. And along that route we saw a lot of beautiful fall colour with all the leaves turning.

It's a fairly long drive from Sanibel to Cuthbert and we arrived in the late afternoon. The sky had become quite cloudy and the Guy was concerned that I would not have enough light for good photos. But that was not the case. I was quite happy with the light, the photos and the town in general. I also want to mention that this town has other pink things, too. Pink doors on a shop. A menu board written in pink. Signposts to large billboards painted pink. Pink trim on buildings. And this was just around The Square. It was a fun place to visit. As it had gotten so late and we still had miles to go before we slept, we didn't stay very long. I'd like to go back someday and spend more time exploring. Who KNOWS what other pink things might appear?

The picture at the top of this post has been digitally edited in Photoshop. I posterized it and applied actions that will normally make photographs look like vintage postcards. Also gave it some depth and a frame. It was a fun project. And here are some other shots of this wonderful pink Chevy.

First view I got, seeing it from the front:

Close-up of the front badge:

A quick glance at the cab:

On the hood just above the passenger side fender is the logo with the model number:

A single mirror on the driver's side:

Great! There's a spare tire:

Full view of the driver's side:

Tailgate with pink chains:

And the view everyone passing by on US 82 sees as they approach the town square from the east:

Wouldn't you just love to have one to go driving?

Across the road is a store with pink doors:

And apparently they sell food as I saw this menu board:

And one last thing: I got a new little image editing program called Kaleidoscope. It was introduced to me by someone on the Disney boards. Many quilters use this program to make new designs. Here are my first two attempts at playing in this program. I started with the photo of the side mirror on the truck. And then the fun began!

Happy Pink Saturday!

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19 November 2010

Kiwi Marmalade

As you may remember from one of my Postcards from the Farm posts, we had kiwis on our vines this year. This was very exciting to me as it's been some 10 years since The Guy built the arbour and I planted the kiwi vines. Kiwis are expected to ripen in October where ours are growing. When I saw all the baby kiwis back in the spring, I couldn't imagine what I would do with all of them and was anxiously awaiting picking them. But most did not make it to maturity. I got one nice basket full. But isn't that great??? I finally grew kiwis!

The kiwis got picked around two weeks ago when we were expecting a freeze. Kiwis are one of those fruits that continue to ripen after they are harvested. Mine were not near ready to eat when the freeze was coming and I didn't know what to expect. They were not ripe when I left to go to Florida. This week has been busy, busy, busy. I didn't get home from Florida until Tuesday afternoon and I am leaving early in the morning for Louisiana. So much to do, so little time. LOL. (And I can't tell you how happy I am to be able to say that!)

So this morning I'm rushing around and I still have this basket of kiwis sitting on the kitchen table. Hmmm. I decided to go with an easy peasy, tried and true recipe that really anyone can make: Kiwi Marmalade. My Mom has had this recipe for years and it is one we love. The recipe calls for using lemon, but more often than not, I use limes and sometimes Key limes. Today I went with lemon.

The recipe calls for dicing the kiwis. I personally prefer to pulse them in my food processor into finer pieces. This is because I like to spread my marmalade without having little 1/4" chunks of the kiwi. If you like your marmalade chunkier, feel free to dice by hand.

My basket of kiwis:

Peeled kiwis, lemon and sugar (our only ingredients):

Kiwis chopped in food processor:

Ingredients in a microwave safe container (I like to use a large glass measuring cup because having the handle makes it easier to get the hot container out of the microwave.)

And beautiful jars of Kiwi Marmalade, just waiting for some hot biscuits on a cold winter morning:

I always make a double batch at a time and like to process it in half pint jars in a boiling water bath for long term storage. My Mom normally stores her extra in the freezer.

Kiwi Lemon Marmalade
Makes about 1 pint

4 kiwis
1 lemon
¾ cup sugar

Peel kiwis and dice. Zest and juice lemon. Mix kiwis, lemon zest, 2 Tbsp lemon juice and sugar together. Reserve remaining lemon juice for another use. Microwave on HI 4 minutes. Stir; microwave on HI 4 more minutes. Stir; microwave on HI another 4 minutes or until thickened. Approximately 12 minutes total cooking time. Store in refrigerator.

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17 November 2010

New Mexican Cornbread Dressing

My Mom and I were talking today and as is wont to happen at this time of year, the talk turned to food. Mom reminded me of a dish a family friend brought to the house after my grandmother's funeral. It was not something we had eaten before and it was delicious. Mom and I asked her if she could share her recipe and she gladly brought it over to us that afternoon. Now my grandmother crossed in 1988 and I made this recipe ever so often, but it had completely fallen off the radar the last ten years or so. Mom had run across it when she was sorting recipes today.

I looked at the recipe again and decided it was just what I needed to use up some of the things in my freezer. Summer squash, Alton Brown's creamed corn and chopped roasted Hatch green chilies were all in there waiting from when I put them up earlier this year. So I took the ingredients I had and adapted the recipe to use them:

If it looks like I have only half a skillet of cornbread, that's because I do. I doubled the cornbread recipe because DD#2 absolutely adores my cornbread. If I had made cornbread only for the dressing she would have been very sad. And although the original recipe only used yellow summer squash, the package I took out today was a mixture of yellow squash and zucchini. Eggs are from our CSA.

Everything except the crumbled corn bread mixed together.

Dressing in a scarlet Fiesta rectangular baker ready to go in the oven:

Baked and ready to be served:

Now wouldn't you know, my family was so hungry that I didn't get a chance to make a picture of the dressing plated. Perhaps another time. This is a nice lighter dressing and because of the squash is less calorie laden than some more traditional dressings.

The dish needs to have some heat, so adjust the peppers to suit your taste buds. And if you don't have Hatch chilies, you can used canned green chilies or bell pepper and whatever kind of hot peppers you have on hand. Red bell pepper would add some nice colour. Also, I used Alton's creamed corn and it is seasoned with rosemary. You can add a pinch of that to the dressing if you are using canned creamed corn or another recipe that doesn't have rosemary. Not too much though. You just want a little underlying hint of the flavour.

Today I was in a bit of a hurry, but the next time I make this I want to experiment with making this vegetarian. I think leaving out the soup and adding some concentrated veggie broth and cream would work.

Here's the dressing I made today:

New Mexican Cornbread Dressing

1 large onion, chopped
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 can cream of chicken soup
3 cups cooked and mashed summer squash
2 cups creamed corn
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped roasted Hatch green chilies (adjust according to heat of the peppers and personal taste)
4 green onions (top green part only), sliced
Cornbread (recipe follows) – crumbled

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Sauté chopped onion in olive oil until it is translucent. Mix with eggs, soup, squash, creamed corn, Hatch chilies and green onion tops. Fold in cornbread. Pour into greased 9x13” pan. Bake for 20-35 minutes.
1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp oil
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Combine dry ingredients. Add eggs, oil, and milk. Pour into hot iron skillet which has been well oiled after heating. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cornbread can be baked a day ahead of time, if you like.

And here is the original recipe as our friend wrote it down all those years ago:

Squash Dressing

1 medium onion, chopped
1 stick butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 can cream of chicken soup
2-3 cups cooked & mashed yellow squash
1 can cream style corn
1 package Mexican cornbread mix, baked as directed on package

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Sauté the onion in butter. Mix the eggs, soup, squash and corn. Add the onions and stir to mix. Crumble the cornbread and fold it into the mixture. Pour into a 9"×13" casserole and bake for 20-25 minutes.

I'm linking this recipe to Kim's Saturday Swap over at Quit Eating Out. Click on the logo to check it out and join in the fun.

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Cream of Artichoke Soup

So you get home from vacation (where btw, you may have eaten some of the most delicious seafood ever) and you need to fix something for dinner. You don't want to go shopping before cooking, so you check out your pantry. Behold, what wondrous food there is to be prepared! LOL. I love that visual. But seriously, we did just get home from the beach, I didn't want to go to the store, and we did need something for dinner. It's always a good idea to have something in the freezer that can be pulled out for an easy meal, OR keep a well stocked pantry and just throw something together.

A couple of years ago I ran across this recipe for artichoke soup on Susan's blog, Farmgirl Fare. I have kept it mind for just such an occasion as this week. Both artichokes (uncannily there are several cans from when I stocked up for something) and garbanzo beans are in the pantry, as are some boxes of stock. Onions are in their bin and my container herbs have survived me being away. There is even some cream & sour cream in the fridge and green onions were in the CSA box. How fortuitous! While made from mostly canned rather than fresh ingredients, the soup is quite tasty and really filled the bill when I got home tired from travelling.

From the pantry and fridge:

Onions happily beginning to brown in my favourite Staub cocotte:

Chopped artichokes:

Other veggies added to pot:

And the broth stirred into the veggies:

Puréed with the stick blender:

Served in a juniper Fiesta small cereal bowl and ready to be consumed by a hungry family:

Cream of Artichoke Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 onions (about 1-1/2 pounds), coarsely chopped
4 to 6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, drained
2 (14 oz) cans water-packed artichokes, drained & coarsely chopped
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Garnishes: sour cream, chopped green onions

Heat olive oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. (I like to use one of my Stuab or Le Creuset pots for making soups like this.) Sauté the onions until they are soft and just beginning to brown, stirring while they cook. This should take around 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook another couple of minutes. You don't want the garlic to burn.

Add the artichokes, beans, and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover, leaving the lid partially ajar. Simmer about half an hour.

Using an immersion blender, purée the soup. Or transfer in batches to a standard blender and purée very carefully. Return soup to the pot. Stir in the cream. Heat gently for a couple of minutes, then taste and adjust seasonings.

Ladle into bowls and garnish each bowl with a dollop of sour cream and some of the chopped green onions.

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