Black Sheep Dancing

Why be like everyone else when you can be yourself?


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Buffet

A few months ago I got it in my head that I needed to rid myself of any furniture that still screamed COLLEGE DAYS! Suspect No. 1 was my tv stand. It’s quite fancy really. A rectangular box with a couple of drawers I got at Walmart for $30. High end, I know.

To add fuel to my obsession, I have been seeing all kinds of cool things on that black void known as Pinterest. (You can follow my boards at the link at the top) So I also got in my head that I needed an old buffet and I would transform it to greatness!

So, I waited and I waited until at last a perfect candidate appeared on Craigslist. Score! So, I headed down to Circleville, loaded it up in my aunt’s van and headed home. This actually was a long endeavor as I had switched cars with said aunt and forgot to take the house key with me.

After finally getting back in the house I put the munchkin to bed and immediately started cleaning it up and got 2.5 coats on before crashing at 3 AM.

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The next day after work I came home and finished it up. SIX coats later.

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So here is the finished result. I have to figure out how to hide the cords, and I’ll probably get some baskets for underneath it for munchkin’s toys, but overall I think it turned out pretty well. I love how the green accents turned out. I just need that last drawer pull. Lesson learned – always check the little bags the pulls come in, even if they all came from the same drawer.

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Watermelon Rind Pickles – Who Knew?

The internet is a wonderful thing. At times when I should be doing laundry or washing dishes, I can look up all sorts of yummy, delicious recipes. Thus, that is what I was doing this past weekend when I happened upon a recipe for watermelon rind pickles. Wh-what? I did a search and found many more recipes for this alien pickle. You can eat the rind? People WANT to eat the rind? Well, immediately I knew I had to try it.

So, this past weekend on a trip to Aldi’s I included one huge watermelon for only $2.99. I forgot how huge watermelons are. I set to work cutting it up and processing the various parts – some to eat plain, some I put in a blender and froze as ice cubes for future smoothies or cocktails, some were made into popsicles, and the rind was cut into chunks…maybe 1/4″. The recipes all said for 1″, but what can you do with that? I’m thinking this might be good on sandwiches or desserts or something. Well, at least I think that is what I am going to do.

Something is wrong with this picture.

It took a long while to cut it up. It was made even longer after cutting it all up and realizing I forgot to peel it before cutting it up, so after soaking in brine I carefully sliced off the green peel from EVERY SINGLE PIECE. Boy, did that take a long time.

Following the brine it was time for the syrup making and processing. It was supposed to make about five half pints, but I got two. I’m blaming it on the relish-like quality.

Not the prettiest in jars, but everyone who has had these say they are totally awesome. I’m a wee bit weary, but again, here’s to trying new things!

Adapted from a Food.com recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs watermelon rind
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cupswater
  • 4 cupssugar
  • 3 cinnamon sticks, cut in half
  • 1 teaspoonwhole cloves
  • 1 teaspoonsliced, fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  1. Cut up melon rind, peel off the green part, and remove all pink portions.
  2. Cut rind into 1 inch pieces for pickles, smaller for relish.
  3. Weigh
  4. Soak rind overnight in enough bring to cover all pieces, made by dissolving 1/4 cup salt in each quart of water
  5. Drain rind, wash in fresh water and drain again.
  6. Combine remaining ingredients, with the spices in cheesecloth, and boil together 5 minutes.
  7. Add rind a few at a time so it doesn’t spash and cook until rind is clear.(simmer about 30 Min.). Meanwhile, prepare jars.
  8. Remove cheesecloth and put in bottom of prepared jars evenly.
  9. Pack rind on top of spices in hot sterilized jars.
  10. Cover with boiling syrup, remove air pockets, and process in a hot water bath for ten minutes.

I’ve also discovered recipes for the pink part along the way, so I might have to try that next. Again, I haven’t opened these yet. I think I’m going to wait a few weeks and then give it a go.


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Marmalade Recipe

So, remember that yummy Pineapple Lime Marmalade I made? (It really is yummy – like sunshine in a jar!) Well, here’s the adapted recipe. I apologize to the lady who wrote the one I adapted it from. Can’t for the life of me find it now.

Ingredients:

  • 3  cups lime segments and juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh pineapple in small pieces
  • zest from all your citrus fruit
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 (3 ounce) envelope liquid pectin
Directions:
  1. Thoroughly wash all your citrus fruit and remove the zest with a vegetable peeler. Scrape as much of the pith as possible from each strip of peel with a very sharp knife and slice the zest into very small, thin pieces. This takes a long time. Put a movie in and get slicing!
  2. Place the prepared zest, water and baking soda in a nonreactive pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let it sit overnight.
  3. In the meantime segment your zested citrus fruit by slicing off the ends of each fruit, standing it up on a cutting board and slicing off the white stuff (really technical terms here). Then cut each fruit in half and cut between the membranes to free the segments. Place the segments in a 4-cup measuring cup and keep going until you have accumulated 3 cups of segments and juice. Add your pineapple pieces to make 3 1/2 cups total fruit.
  4. Next day – Return zest to boil. Add the fruit and 1 cup of the sugar into the peel mixture. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Stir in the remaining 5 cups of sugar and and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.
  6. Quickly stir in the pectin and return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute.
  7. Remove from the heat and stir constantly for 6-8 minutes to evenly distribute the zest throughout the marmalade.
  8. Ladle quickly into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude.
  9. Let jars sit for 2 weeks before you taste to let the marmalade mature, kinda like wine. Heck, drink some wine while you are waiting.

I’m thinking this would be great over some cream cheese spread on a cracker, or I’m hoping to try soon to make some thumbprint cookies and roll them in coconut and then use this in the middle. I think that would be heavenly!


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Happy Birthday, Munchkin!

It’s hard to believe my munchkin is already five! How time has flown! Since this year seemed to be the first year he really knew what was going on, I finally bit the bullet and expanded the party beyond our closest family and friends to his little friends from school.

Now every party needs a theme. I asked Keeler what he wanted. He specifically said:

  1. Dragon cake
  2. watermelon
  3. tag

Well, we were able to do two of the three. I found a pattern online for the cake. Not as hard as it looks. Watermelon – yep. Ran out of time for a game of tag.

The cake, sans frosting.

 

Awaiting wings.

I used tootsie rolls for the claws, icing for the eyes and chocolate chips for the pupils and nostrils. The spine scales were crackers I made earlier this week.The cake was just a basic yellow cake I made from All Recipes and the icing was from a can. Real high tech around here.

One thing I will say, you really have to freeze the cake after assembling, and periodically freeze it while icing to make life a whole ton easier. Less crumbs get into the icing, and the finish is much smoother when you spread it when it is harder.

I had lots of grand ideas for the theme, but in the end, the entertainment was bubbles, coloring pages, blow up swords and paper crowns from Oriental Trading Company, and a garden hose. A pop up tailgate tent from CBear served as the “castle”. Everyone had a great time, and I didn’t have to break the bank to do it. Win for everyone!

We also had everyone bring a canned good instead of presents. Hopefully that helps the kids learn about giving, and less toys around the house here to trip over. We’re going to take them to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

Food wise, again, I kept simple. I made:

  • Fresh fruits and veggies sliced up
  • Cucumber Slices With Dill (since I have a ton of cucumbers and dill to use up!)

  • Confetti salad – a bean salad from my grandma’s recipe collection
  • Bread from the bread maker
  • Ham and PB&J for sandwiches
  • Amish Macaroni Salad (Everyone LOVES this!)

My family brought:

  • Chicken salad sandwiches
  • Orzo salad
  • Strawberry Salad with feta

Munchkin’s actual birthday is this week. I usually take the day off and we do whatever he wants to do, and we go to the toy store and he gets to pick out his own present. I’ll also take him to the food bank to deliver the food we collected. Should be a lovely day! Last year we went to the park and to the movies to see Toy Story 3. This year? Stay tuned!


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Happy Mother’s Day – You better like it!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mommies out there, especially mine! She’s pretty alright, I guess. 🙂

Mother’s Day was lovely. CBear took me out to breakfast at Bob Evans (a favorite!) on Saturday and put up with my super grumpiness due to being over worked, over stressed, tired, and not being able to breathe due to stupid allergies. Honeysuckle and I just don’t get along.

Sunday I went home. Both mom and my sister were sick with a cold, Munchkin had a tummy bug, so between allergies and colds and bugs, we were quite the bunch! But, this morning we went out to eat at Preto’s and stopped at a few tag sales where I found some new hammered aluminum and had quite a few fun conversations with the other treasure hunters. I even got to run out in the glorious, wonderful sunshine that finally has made an appearance this spring. Beautiful!

When we arrived back home, I was discussing canning blogs (How much do I love Food in a Jar!!) with my mom when she said she saw a recipe for violet jelly, and wanted to try it. So, I thought, I’ll go pick the flowers, and mom will love it!

So I headed outside and carefully picked these beautiful little purple flowers that were all over the yard. Did I mention they were little? As in super tiny? And I needed two cups!!! I finally got about a cup and went inside after about an hour of picking. We could just make half a batch.

Super tiny, super hard to pick, little purple flowers.

Mom loved it, right? Wrong. Mom did NOT want to make the jelly. She just thought it looked interesting, so suggested I make it instead. Me, who has never canned anything EVER. Blergh. I agreed to maybe. Then, a few minutes later I hear lots of talk about the flowers. Turns out my idea of little purple flowers and other people’s idea are two totally different flowers, and I had not picked violets, but some other type of flora. Doh!

So, back out I went, this time with both mom and sister in tow helping pick the correct flower. I must say, actual violets are SO MUCH FASTER to pick! I was sent home with the violets, left over pizza, canning equipment and some seedlings to plant in my garden.

Violets...what I should have picked the first time.

As soon as I got home I immediately started the jelly. Once I get my mind on doing something, I have to finish it. What do you think?

I have no idea if it will be good or not. One jar fell when taking it out of the water bath, so that one will probably need to go in the fridge. I know I heard at least five pings from the seven jars, so that is a good sign I won’t make everyone sick.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom. You better like your jelly!


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Tortilla!

So, I’ve become a fan of a lot of blogs lately, including Heavenly Homemakers. In her blog, she talks about ‘soaking’ grains. This always intrigued me, and as I become more and more obsessed with healthy foods and making things from scratch, I wanted more and more to try this. But, I was a little intimidated. I really hate screwing something up and wasting all that food.

Then, the other day I found a recipe for making your own whole wheat tortillas AND it included in the recipe to use coconut oil (like the kind I got the other day…) so I went for it! Thanks Kitchen Stewardship!

So, in the morning I made my dough and tonight I cooked them up. First, you get your exercise with these! It’s a lot of work rolling these suckers super thin! I don’t have an electric griddle or a cast iron skillet (although I want both) so I just used a frying pan. It took a couple of trys to get the temperature correct. Well, I think it is correct. I got the brown spots, but it didn’t look like it was all the way cooked all over, but I didn’t want a tortilla cracker either! Of course I can’t remember having a whole wheat tortillas EVER, so maybe I just don’t know what it really looks like?

Here’s the result:

I’m hoping to use these for breakfast tomorrow for some breakfast burritos. I guess we’ll find out then how they taste. Anyone else ever make their own tortillas? Thoughts?

I’ll tell you what, a good baker is a talent. Muffins, they’re easy, but breads haunt me. They’re so finicky!

Toodles,

Emily


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I heart hearts

Ah, Valentine’s Day. Love it or hate it, it comes around every year. I’m not one to really enjoy the day. I’ve had some pretty awful v-days, but you just can’t make it go away. However, anytime you have an excuse to make everything pink and with hearts, how can it be ALL bad?

 

I decided to get to baking. I made a valentine for my valentines, both at home and work. I don’t care who you are, it’s nice to know someone is thinking of you on this day.

 

I made:

 

Jam cookies:

 

 

Chocolate Cake Balls

Cupcakes, chocolate dipped pretzels, chocolate raisin candy

And heart shaped chocolate chip cookies.

 

I then packed them for work:

 

 

And for my big valentine:

I put the goodies in one of my many hammered aluminum dishes and tied with some clearance ribbon I got after Christmas (yippee for 90% off!!!) I started collecting aluminum pieces after my grandmother gave me a casserole dish she had gotten as a wedding present.

 

And my little valentine. Of course munchkin was the most excited of all. Who doesn’t love cookies for breakfast? (Just for special occasions that is)

Recipes:

Chocolate chip cookies – made from a mix and then put down cookie cutter and dropped a spoonful of dough in and smushed it down.

Emily’s Cake Balls

Ingredients

  • 1 cake mix
  • 1 can complimentary-flavored frosting
  • bag of chocolate chips
  1. Bake cake according to directions. Allow to cool completely and crumble into a bowl. Put in the fridge if still warm.
  2. Mix in some frosting until it creates a dough-like mess. Freeze for 30-60 minutes
  3. Use a scoop to scoop out balls onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Use hands to make into a more uniform ball and place back on sheet. Freeze for 30-60 minutes
  4. Melt chocolate chips in double boiler. Add in butter if necessary to make it smooth.
  5. Use a fork to dip balls into chocolate, allowing extra to drip off. Place back on parchment paper.
  6. Cool in fridge until set. I like to keep mine in there until served.

Raisin candy and chocolate dipped pretzels – I had left over melted chocolate after dipping the cake balls so I dipped some pretzels first and then mixed some raisins in the remaining chocolate and spooned into candy wraps. Refrigerate.

“Christmas Stars” (Or Valentine’s Hearts)- Allrecipe.com

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons strawberry jam
  • 1/4 cup green decorator sugar (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir flour mixture into the butter mixture until well blended. Refrigerate dough for three hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease several cookie sheets.
  3. On a floured surface, roll out 1/2 of the dough at a time to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut dough into star shapes using a 3 to 4 inch star cookie cutter. Using a 1 to 2 inch star cookie cutter, cut a star into the center of half of the big stars. Sprinkle colored sugar on the cookies with the center cut out if desired. Put onto prepared cookie sheets about 1 inch apart, and bake for 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. After cookies cool completely, spread 1 teaspoon of preserves in the center of each cookie that does not have a star cut out in the middle. Place a cookie with a cut-out on top of the layer of preserves. Pack cookies in a covered tin to preserve freshness.