Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Oatmeal Bread

Recipes with a reason. Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Cookbook was illustrated by Andy Warhol. One can only image how this cookbook came together. In 1961 the etiquette queen of New York and Andrew Warhol worked together to create a complete vision of cooking. I have a first edition of this book but, sadly it's been used and very abused. Who had the most tantrums while this book was in production? I'm sure both author and illustrator threw around a few choice words from time to time.

Anyhow, poor Amy met a fate that is one of debate. Did she jump onto the sidewalk in front of her New York townhouse on 87th Street or did she have a lightheaded moment that caused a fall from her 2nd story window? Her fate was dismal either way. Dismal would be the reasoning behind my selecting this recipe today.
In her recollections Ms. Vanderbilt associates this recipe with her experiences of World War I. Mind you she was a mere child during that time period but, the rationing of wheat inspired the baking of this Oatmeal Bread. In her book she refers to this loaf as a "delicious wartime sacrifice loaf."
Just as I imagine what Amy and Andy must have been doing during the late 50's and early 60's as the cookbook is being created. I also imagine what life must have been like for Ms. Vanderbilt during the days of 1914. I can't imagine that she suffered too horribly during the war as she was from a somewhat affluent family. Unlike another female of this time period Marina Yurlova.
Marina Yurlova would likely have never had the luxury of smelling this delicious bread baking during World War I. For certain there were no molasses around as she crawled on her belly through the barbed wire. She must have laid awake dreaming of the warmth of a bed and water in which to bathe. She would be the true spirit of womanhood during this time period in which Ms Vanderbilt makes mention of wartime rations.

Although Andy Warhol was of Slovakian descent, I doubt he knew much of hunger or being exposed to freezing conditions as Marina Yurlova had known for many years. Mr. Warhol knew his own suffering when he was the victim of an attempted murder in 1968. Shot and severely wounded. He survived by the skin of his teeth. Warhol was also known to be a bit of hypochondriac and spent some of his childhood suffering from nervous system disorders.
What an awful bunch of dismal gloom. Should I frame these illustrations and call them Warhol art?
That man can draw meat! And various other food stuffs.

I didn't use the raisins called for in the above recipe. Mostly because I'm over dried fruit. I used chopped pecans instead. My Miss Aimee made that wrinkled nose face and said, "Is there raisins in here?" Oddly enough the mouth tastes raisins even though my loaf contained none. It is outstanding in flavor. I will bake this loaf again. Aimee and Mister loved the bread.
Marina Yurlova was the same age as my daughter when she fought for the Cossacks during World War I as a soldier. She won the St. George Cross for bravery 3 times. How my imagination toils around the suffering of this young militant woman. She narrowly escaped having her leg amputated after a severe injury. She was imprisoned and had a mental breakdown yet, still persevered to become an author of the book Cossack Girl.
I wonder if the three Andy Warhol, Amy Vanderbilt, and Marina Yurlova ever crossed paths in life in any way shape or form.
If you are venturing about in the ice and cold of January, it's all too easy to complain of the dismal days. Open up your pantry door, most likely you have food. And Heat. Most of us have the above ingredient list in our pantries with exception of the molasses. You might have to put on your boots and slosh out and grab a bottle of Brer Rabbit. It will be worth the inconvenience. Warm up your world and beat the dismal blues of January with this simple rustic bread.
I'm thankful my daughter has never known firsthand the horror of war.
It's a little history lesson in our home. Teaching can extend out of the classroom into the kitchen with a little bit of imagination. Tonight we enjoyed this recipe for Oatmeal Bread and the story behind the triumphant survival of a young woman of history.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Still Fussing

The glass is cut and the edges are ground smooth. Next step is washing each pane and securing them into their forever spots. Then caulking with brown caulk, Creating a hanger to suspend the entire thing as a free hanging piece in my upstairs window. So, I'm still a few weeks away from completion though I'm happy with the progress thus far.
I took a few close up photos so that you can see not only the variety in colors but in textures as well. The big pieces made my palms sweat as I cut them.

You're viewing the backside of the frame. When completed and facing right side out, the iridescent quality of the green panel will be visible. Each piece of glass is unique. I'm not an expert, in fact, a beginner is a better description. I'm self taught and likely have broken many stained glass protocols but, I'm not striving to enter this into an art fair. It's meant to bring cheer to my hallway and make my family smile!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Deep Freeze

Look what found their way into my cart at the Goodwill. Lucky brand slipper boots with a sole sturdy enough to venture to the back porch to feed the birds but, still relaxed enough to putz around the house in a slipper sort of mode.
Bargain at under $4.00.

 Look double squirrels on the bird feeder. The snowman feeder is cute as heck but, a real pain in the behind to fill with sunflower seeds. I purchased this thinking it would certainly prevent the squirrels from eating the bird feed. How's that working for me? Not effective. This was taken pre-deep freeze. Currently the feeder hangs among the snow covered frozen branches waiting for me to come out and refill.
Homemade Granola makes me get out of bed in January. I like a little yogurt with a generous amount of granola. I could live on this stuff. I've found granola is most enjoyable without the addition of dried fruit. I'm kinda over dried fruit. From scones to biscotti to granola, I've used my fair share of dried fruits and at some point my interest might return to this humble ingredient but, for now, I'm over it.
Uncle Tim Soup loaded with crackers makes a perfect weekday evening meal. Quick to come together and everyone loves it around my house. A huge pot of soup in under 20 minutes. Caker cooking at it's finest.

Deep Freeze weather demands crocheting. Today I floated from the stove to the crochet corner to the glass cutting area of the basement. The scarf is for Anna. It matches a slouchy beanie that I've already crocheted for her. The scarf is a free form piece of work with no pattern. I'm making the ends of the scarf fancier by crocheting in the back posts only and doing a half double crochet throughout the entire middle section.
Here's a little update on the stained glass piece, I've been fussing with lately.
A serious amount of aged caulk needed removed first and foremost. A heat gun and razor knife made this job easier.
 Plexiglass does not play well with a heat gun. This panel held a little challenge but, it's de-caulked. Yep, it's a word, de-caulked.
 So here you have it. Old window panes and plexiglass removed. Painted with leftover brown paint from my basement stairs project. Today, six more pieces of glass were cut for this piece and are placed into their proper area. Good news, I only broke two pieces of glass. I'm getting better at the cutting and grinding of the glass.

It's my goal for the weekend to finish the stained glass window and Anna's scarf.
Pot number two of soup is made and dinner is covered for the weekend so aside from an exciting auction to go to, I will be tinkering away during the deep freeze finishing up projects.
I really cannot think of a better way to wittle away the time when it's to cold to venture out and about. Deep freeze mode has arrived!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Fun Finds

A quick run down of my favorite new (to me) things this world offers. All were discovered or re-discovered during 2014.
Due to that pesky brain tumor and various other peculiar situations we found ourselves in this year, our travel was limited. I still managed to discover a few cool spots, locally, and a bit of interesting entertainment from the trusty old recliner.

For the absolute best ever pistachio ice cream (not green and icky) visit Mitchell's Ice Cream in CLE.
The pistachios are finely ground and roasted. Made with my local favorite Smith's Dairy Milk.
Who doesn't love fantastic fresh sugars? Sugar Bomb Confections offers the goods!
Pierogi Heaven. The most delicious of them all can be found at Stan's Northfield Bakery.
Got Jerky? Macks Food Center has the best!
Lilyhammer from Netflix. Just discovered it while laid up with the influenza. More episodes Please!
A new blog in my reading, I like reading. Attic 24
Another great blog. Two Men and a Little Farm.

Happy New Year
Wait..What? tomorrow means everything is going to be different and better and greater and I will be skinny and beautiful and rich and not smoke cigarettes, and I will exercise, stop swearing like a sailor, my hair will no longer be streaked with grey and my boobs will be perky??


Also, RIP Robin Williams and Joe Cocker

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas Eve started out innocently enough with each of us opening one present. The big kids who have their own lives and homes were fair warned that this year was a gift card sort of year because neither myself nor Mister really wanted to bother with all of the shopping and wrapping.
The three humans that inhabit our home and two very lazy dogs were pretty content on Christmas Eve.
 One present.
Then just one more.
"Fine, let's open them all and go to breakfast in the morning instead of opening gifts."
I'm a huge fan of spontaneity. As I age, more and more I despise tradition. How boring is it to celebrate the same holiday the same way year after year? Guess what, we opened everyone of those presents before 6PM on Christmas Eve and it's a good thing.

The next morning, I made good on my promise of hauling my butt out of bed and going to breakfast. I felt a little rough. Let me tell you guys something, there was something incredibly wonderful about being surrounded by total strangers on Christmas Day. Sure, nothing was open for breakfast except for a truck stop. A truck stop filled with families and people making their way across the state to their loved ones or heading home. The hustle bustle and a kindred spirit among the echoes could be heard. The food was awful. A buffet of awful. The coffee was hot and sort of delicious. I still felt rough.

Over the next 24 hours we had company pop in and out but, this old girl was sick.

That little blue jar of vaporub is keeping me alive. Without it, I'm certain the influenza and that truck stop food would have killed me by now. I can never remember if we are suppose to feed a fever or starve it. My symptoms are a fever, achy chills, and chest congestion. No runny nose or stuffiness. I've been booze free for 6 years now but, a big old chug of Jack is sounding good. I'm out of the thick of it. The fever has been gone for almost 24 hours. I'm feeding the fever. Mister made a batch of my favorite quick and easy soup today. Soup, vaporub, and my dogs are all I need. And the new cozy jammies I opened on Christmas Eve.

It all worked out just fine.

 So, if your holiday was spent at a truck stop, or home alone, or a shelter, or at the in-laws, it was your holiday. I resent the images planted in our heads of what Christmas morning is suppose to look and feel like. I saw two old crusty dudes walking out of the truck stop together Christmas morning just as happy as larks. I quietly bid them Merry Christmas. They looked into my eyes with sincere smiles and bid me the same. I'll take that over pretentious, fake holiday family glib any day.

I'm thinking the flu shot might be a good idea.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Janky Chair

Update on progress. You might remember my janky little chair which cost all of .50 at a yard sale. It's finished and in use, well currently it has clean clothes piled on it. I'm using it though. Here's a few photos in progress. I've yet to photograph the entire finished thought.
Anna hunted the thrifts and found many old neck ties for me. She found most of them for half price. I think this was a nice update to the seat.
Trust me this vinyl seat covered was painted several colors and could not be rescued so I stripped that stuff off faster than Jenna Jameson loses attire. Beneath the vinyl, was a nice sturdy piece of plywood perfectly sound enough to shoot staples into. Weaving the neckties was simple and I skipped stitching them together in any manner and just neatly folded the edges on the underside of the wood and stapled them into place. Oh, and yes I tore apart an old seat cushion from outdoor furniture and used that for a nice padding.
The old paint, several layers. Stripped easily. A decent old wooden chair but not a priceless heirloom or anything. SO although I stripped off layers of paint, I decided to add paint back here and there. I wanted to match it up with some interior painting in our upstairs hallway.
I can't sing the praises of SC Johnson Paste Wax loud enough. Yes, this stuff merits bold type. It transformed my upstairs hallway floor from worn old 1923 boards in need of proper restoration into a beautiful (incredibly slippery) floor. A vinyl backed runner took care of the slippery part. With an almost full can of wax leftover from floorapaloza, I decided to check out how it would work on bare wood.
Momma likey. The board without wax vs. the waxed up version. The wood grain stands out and I won't mind freshening up the wax from time to time.
Sure, not your choice in paint colors. If you could see the complete thought you might think differently.
Here's an almost finished version. Never mind that blue painters tape.
Leftover paint  + a fifty cent chair + some random used neckties = a nifty little seat.
I'll get around the photographing my entire hallway adventure sooner or later. Just wanted to offer an update and maybe a little inspiration.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Clean Slate

It was either a pink tree, white, or silver. My intentions were to create a holiday tree with no emotions attached. Having a 13 year old child required a tree be decked and installed as a holiday icon. I was having no part of it this year. Not a bah humbug sort of way. Just a feeling of new. New and different. Removed from tradition. Originally I planned 2 small trees with simple decorations. Aimee, convinced it was the work of dragging the tree and ornaments from the basement which discouraged my desire for the merriment, offered to "do all of the work". I knew, right then. There. A tree symbolizes so much more than presents to this dear child.
How fun would it be to start new?
The ornaments from years past are still safely tucked away in their said red and green totes. Most will remain there.With the exception of the snowflakes and a few nondescript baubles, our tree is a quiet symbol, a hushed whisper of calm. No "baby's firsts" or "new homes" or wonderful handmade childhood creations of my four now grown kiddos. In years to come those ornaments can return. Just not this year.

As I read recently about memory. These notions came to mind. We spend our days creating those "happy memory moments" documenting them with photos and journals. When did our species become so obsessed with creating and storing memories? Is this a maternal thing? For good or for bad, we cling to the past. Hoping to search and find ourselves there.

 Maybe it's my getting older, Maybe it's the issue of my own mother that I wrestled with this year. Something snapped inside of my Christmas consciousness. I want to dream of the Christmas in the future. I want to anticipate exciting whimsical holidays. I needed a clean slate.

All of my ornaments represented the past. Not that those associations are negative. Just past.
I'm not sure when we started stuffing presents in our Christmas tree. It's not a tradition. Just a way to secure the gift cards and small presents from becoming lost in the chaos of Christmas morning. This year is no exception for this quirky little family thing.

A few old out dated brass horns were sprayed white with paint. A new crystal clear star on top. There you have it!

Aimee has her tree.
 One, I'm sure she will remember for a very long time.
And I have a memory free tree.
 One that simply dances, glows and doesn't echo the events or occasions of the past.
Wishing you and yours a damned good, celebrating life, future anticipating 2015!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tamborines & Elephants

Lookin' out my back window.
 This morning.
Our upstairs laundry room over looks the roofs of our buildings. I usually peek through the curtains in the morning to determine the day ahead. This morning included boots and gloves.

In other areas of life, I've a new project.

This is the storm window to a screen door which was buried in our basement when we bought the house. Sadly, the door was in poor repair and despite my kicking and screaming the door could not be used anywhere in our home. Plan B...turn the window insert of the storm into a stained glass piece.
This is step one of removing the old caulk and old window panes. Tedious process. Work in progress.

I have dug my heels in and refused to update the wonderful 1923 windows in our home. Heavy curtains have sufficed. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. On this subject, I win!

I think my new project when finished will hang in the upstairs laundry room window. The light will fill the hallway beautifully. For now, there's a rose stained glass piece hanging there. I hate florals in my decor. The rose serves as motivation to get my hind end busy to finish up my window project.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

New, Used, Not Amused

Are you a dust free on top of the refrigerator type of person? Or do you just pile random stuff and loaves of bread up there, sort of like an extra shelf. Maybe you have a cupboard above your ice box, the type of cupboard no one can ever reach
Last week our new refrigerator was scheduled to arrive. I hauled out all of our food from the freezer and loaded everything into a cooler. Then I proceeded to pitch, cook, or load the entire contents out of the refrigerator into another cooler. The condiments took up temporary residency in the kitchen sink.

The old side by side refrigerator has been a pain in the butt from day one. The freezer cramped my style. Have you ever tried putting a frozen ice cream cake or a whole pizza in a side by side? Well just forget that plan.
 After hating this refrigerator for quite a few years, we decided to go deep into the wallet for a more user friendly version. In general, Mister and I are smart with our money. This purchase was a complete luxury for our home.

So have I painted a picture of desperation and frustration> Food in cooler, refrigerator unplugged, sold in fact, ready to be picked up and hauled away by it's new owner. Finally my day of refrigerator nirvana had arrived.
 I waited. Patiently. Waited.
No delivery truck arrived.

A phone call to the Depot confirmed my worst fear. They were not coming. Apparently someone at the big box failed to call us and reschedule our delivery.
My deluxe apartment in the sky dreams were dwindling quick.
My wonderful french doors, freezer on the bottom, ice and water in the door, was on back order.
 No. The someones gonna get it attitude gets inserted here.

The Depot's answer was to bring me out a "loaner" refrigerator.
I am now stuck with this little dinky stainless steel hunk of crap refrigerator temporarily until my refrigerator is available. I'm 7 days into using it and will be waiting until the 21st for the goods to be delivered. Am I complaining? Nah, not really, I'm looking forward to my first "new" refrigerator and other than a lot of frustration, extra work moving my food from coolers, and huge disappointment, I'm cool.
Here are a few things which can usually be found atop my refrigerator

The cookbooks I go to most often for inspiration. I like having them there, right on top of the refrigerator, at my fingertips.
Somehow I have managed to raise 4 children and get by with used appliances for all of these years. A few more days of waiting for the holy grail of chill to arrive should only serve to make me appreciate it all the more.
Still come on, get it right Depot!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Holding 3 Strands Together

What happens when your man surprises you with a huge purchase of yarn? Make incredibly fun and functional stuff. Mister scored a huge pallet of yarn at an auction a few years ago. A steal at only 25 bucks. From that yarn stash, I have crocheted a funky poncho for daughter #2, two huge blankets (afghans if you must) and many smaller projects like dish clothes. Okay, you get the point. A whole lot of crocheting going on with that mere financial investment. I heart auctions.

I've branched out.

Who doesn't need a basket made of yarn? I use my yarn basket to hold my yarn. I am working on the third edition. The pattern uses up the odds and ends, those little balls of mismatched crazy yarn in my stash.

Mister watches football and I crochet. In two evenings of relaxing enjoyment, one basket can easily be crafted up. I would consider myself an intermediate level crocheter. There's very little in the way of actually crocheting that I have not attempted or mastered. I cannot however design my own patterns or make majors changes to existing ones.

Check out Red Heart Yarn. I found this FREE pattern on their website.

I'll crochambeau you for it! Yah, that line never gets old around this house.