Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday's Book Choice

I was introduced to George MacDonald by my sister-in-law, Nancy.  One year for Christmas she gave me a copy of The Fisherman's Lady (Hampshire Books), and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  Through the years I have read it several times, and as a matter of fact, after writing about it tonight, I think it is about time for another time through.

George MacDonald was an author in 19th century Scotland.  He wrote a great variety of books including novels for adults, fairy tales, theological works, and poetry.  C. S. Lewis was greatly influenced by MacDonald, and I have read that Lewis even even referred to him as "his master".

This is a good, hard-to-put-down type of story that is perfect for that cold stormy day outside when you have nothing better to do than spend the afternoon with a good book.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Peppermint Ice Cream

You may be very organized and throw all of your leftover candy canes away when Christmas has come and gone.  Or perhaps you are like me and think that there must be something that you can do with all of that delicious peppermint confection.  Sometimes I just toss all of them into the food processor, chop them up very tiny, store it in a jar, and sprinkle it on vanilla ice cream.  The only problem with that is it seems like I have the jar sitting on my pantry shelf forever, not using it up as I had originally intended.  Well, this year my sister, Kass, gave me a recipe for Peppermint ice cream that is so good.  According to the recipe you don't even need a little ice cream maker; however, I do happen to have one, so I cut the recipe in half, and just threw all of the ingredients into my ice cream maker, and it turned out delicious.  It uses a lot of candy canes as well, so you can make short order of however many you may have sitting around after the holidays.

Peppermint Ice Cream

28 candy canes
2 cups half and half
4 cups heavy whipping cream

1.  Unwrap candy canes and place in a freezer bag.  Seal bag and use a rolling pin to beat candy canes into tiny pieces.  (I actually just ground mine up in my food processor).  Pour candy cane bits into the bottom of an eight-quart freezer-safe container.

2.  Pour whipping cream and half and half on top of candy cane bits.  Stir until well mixed.  Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours, stirring occasionally.

3.  Remove from fridge and stir until blended.  Pour mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer.  Whip until soft peaks begin to form.

4.  Place cream back into a freezer-safe container and freeze until set up -- about 8-12 hours.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Walnettos Make Me Happy

I can remember eating Walnettos when I was a young girl; but basically forgot all about them for years and years.  Now I have found them in the bulk candy section of one of the grocery stores I frequent.  In case you have never had a Walnetto, they are a walnut caramel, and quite tasty I might add.  Apparently they disappeared off the market for a while, until someone decided to bring them back into production.  I'm glad they did. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday's Book Choice

"One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp was given to me last year by a very good friend of mine, and I have continued to enjoy it ever since.  It is the type of book that I can pick up and read over and over again.  It is about focusing your attention on giving thanks to God for everything, large and small.  God tells us that He wants us to give Him thanks, but I think we tend to set that aside while we are busy with our lives and worrying about this or that.  Ann's way of conveying to us the need for obedience in this area is like reading poetry.  She writes from her own experiences, and I think most anyone would be able to relate to her words.  I know for me I need a reminder now and then to just sit down and be thankful for all of my many blessings.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Caramel Corn at Home

It just seems to kind of make for a fun time to have a table set out with all kinds of finger foods and various munchies to partake of whenever the moment strikes you.  This past Sunday,  I decided that I should do just that while we watched the football games.  I was able to come up with quite a few ideas even though I thought of it kind of last minute.  One of the things I made was caramel corn.  I haven't made this for years, and fortunately was able to place my hand on the recipe.  The ingredients are basic, but the one odd thing you might not have on hand is a large paper grocery sack.  When I get groceries, I just ask the clerk for a few extra.  I figure that way the bag will be clean to cook the popcorn in.  And the recipe calls for either peanuts or almonds; however, you can use whatever type of nut you like.  This last time I made it, I just used some mixed nuts that I happened to have on hand.  The only problem though is once you start eating it, it is seriously hard to stop.

Microwave Nutty-Caramel Corn

1 cup packed golden brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking soda
8 cups popped unflavored popcorn
2 cups roasted unsalted peanuts, or almonds

In a large glass measuring cup, combine the sugar, syrup, salt, butter, and vanilla.  Microwave on high for 1 minute.  Stir and cook for an additional 2 minutes.  Add the baking soda and stir well (mixture will foam).

Combine the popcorn and peanuts in a large brown paper bag.  Pour the syrup into the bag and stir to coat.  Turn the bag under to close, and microwave on high for 1 minute.

Transfer the caramel corn mixture to a baking sheet lined with waxed paper to cool. (It gets crunchier the longer it cools).  Keep in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saturday's Book Choice

This week's choice is another jewel that my daughter's found at the library.  I was surprised when they brought it home as it is a rather new book.  Somebody at the library is on top of things by keeping up with current popular reads.

I found "Where Women Cook:  Celebrate!" a very refreshing twist on a typical cookbook.  We are introduced to 28 creative women from many walks of life.  From artists, blog writers, jewelry store owners, to my personal favorite, Serena Thompson, founder of The Farm Chicks.   Each woman is introduced, and then proceeds to give details of a specific party that each of them has given, complete with decorations and recipes.  The photography is exceptional, and their stories are very interesting.  It's a great book, and I will be adding it to my Amazon wish list.  In the meantime though I will enjoy paging through the library's copy.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mini Mini Marshmallows

Christmas stockings take an important place in our celebrating.  We try and fill them with very fun and unique items.  This year I think the most unique was these little marshmallows I found at our local Safeway:

I have never seen them in the store before, and have a feeling I will never see them again.  They are just like the little tiny marshmallows you find in pre-packaged hot chocolate that claims to come with mini marshmallows already enclosed.  I thought they were such a funny thing, I just had to get them for my kids' stockings.  Here is a picture of one next to an actual mini marshmallow:

You can put them by the handful into your hot chocolate, or eat them plain, which tastes just like the little marshmallows in Lucky Charms cereal, except you don't have to sort through all of the cereal.  I kind of like the last idea.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Saturday's Book Choice

Today is the first Saturday of our new year; and for some unexplained reason, I have thought that on each Saturday, it would perhaps be fun to make a book recommendation right here on my little blog.  There will be no particular method to my madness, just any book that seems to be calling out to me as the weeks go by.  This week was an easy one.  In fact my daughter passed it to me this very morning as we were eating breakfast together.  She had checked it out at the library; but just as soon as I started thumbing through it, I knew that I need to get my own copy.  You see I enjoy being on the lookout for better ways to keep a house by being organized and keeping it clean.  And especially with the new year, and resolutions still in full force, I thought you might be interested in it as well.  It is called "Express Housekeeping" by Anna Shepard.  The layout of the book is very user friendly, dividing itself into chapters from speed cleaning to decluttering.  The one thing I really liked about it is that you don't have to spend hours trying to organize your life just to fit in her particular cleaning schedule.  All of the suggestions seem very practical.  I also like her tips for using things around the house for certain types of cleaning, such as baking soda, vinegar, etc.  My daughter also had a great suggestion that it would make a wonderful bridal shower gift.  I agree wholeheartedly; and to include some microfiber dust cloths, or a special cleaner that you like with the book would certainly add that little extra to the gift to make it very useful.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lunch for a New Year

Growing up in a very traditional family, my mom would always prepare what she referred to as a "Dutch Lunch" on Christmas Eve.  And being the very traditional person that I am, I began doing the same thing when I was first married.  However, after a number of years, I realized that having this particular meal the day before another big meal, just meant too many leftovers to deal with.  So many years ago, I switched our Dutch Lunch to New Year's Day.  It suits this holiday so well.  Especially when there is a lot of football watching going on, and really encourages a nice lazy day of munching here and there.

My husband asked me just what exactly "Dutch Lunch" meant.  I had to ponder for a moment because I really didn't know where the term came from, except that my parents always referred to it as such.  So after looking it up, he enlightened me that a Dutch Lunch is "an individual portion or serving of cold cuts."  So now I know, and I think ours met the definition pretty well:

Happy New Year everyone!