Monday, December 31, 2018

Things I thought I would do 9 years ago

Years ago, I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish in my 46th year.  I didn't get through most of them that year.  Looking back on that year, it was a rough one for me.   I didn't know it when I wrote this post that both of my parents would die and I would start a different position at work.   There was a lot of change that would happen, so I guess it wasn't possible for me to do it all that year.   I wondered how many I actually have accomplished in the years since then.

Here's my status:

1.  Celebrate the food of the 1960s!  Make a gelatin based dish that's not fruity....aspic or vegetable based.  (check out this Knox recipe booklet I picked up from a rummage sale)

I never got to this, but still want to give it a shot.   I think there was something lemony with vegetables in it that sounded good.   I remember when I was a kid, the neighbor used to make a lemon jello with grated carrots in it that was quite good.

2.  Learn how to play "The Entertainer" on the piano.   I have taken piano lessons on and off my whole life, but I have never played "The Entertainer".

Nope.  The piano still sits downstairs, collecting dust.   I keep thinking maybe when I retire but then I will have to move it to the lakehouse.   Not sure I want to move that piano.   It's not worth it. 

3.  Hike the Potowatomi trail with friends, and have a picnic en route.

I have hiked it several times, but never had the picnic.   I need to do this in 2019

4. Pickle brussels sprouts

Yes!  I have done this a few times since then.  This recipe is the only one that won something at the Downtown Home and Garden pickle contest.   It's a great winter canning project, if you are so inclined.

5. Swim in Lake Huron when we camp this summer at Harrisville State Park

We didn't end up camping at Harrisville.   We've sold the camper now that the kids are gone, but we tent camp every once in a while.   Not sure we will make to to Harrisville.

6.  Learn how to play "The Shanty Song" by Jonathan Edwards on guitar by heart.  Memorize the lyrics.  Inspired by that song, I guess I will buy a harmonica and learn how to play it.  Not sure that I can play it will playing the guitar, though.  Singing and playing guitar is hard enough.

Never bought the harmonica, but I could probably play the song on guitar if I put my mind to it.   Maybe this year.

7.  Play guitar when I cantor at church for one Mass

Never did this, and now I am on sabbatical from cantoring at church.   I travel too much for work to commit to a regular church singing gig anymore.

8.  Sew something.

I sew lots of things these days, thanks to my etsy shop Moms Kitchen Vintage

9.  Find out more about the garrison that was in Dearborn.

I did end up doing this, and I learned Dearborn has a lot of military history.  Check it out here.

10.  Make a pilgrimage to the Fr. Solanus Casey Center.

I visited it with my friend Mary Beth after her mother passed away.   Her mom had a great devotion to Solanus Casey.   It's a neat place.  He is on his way to sainthood now.

11.  Attend a service at a monastery, such as the Dormition Monastery in Jackson.

I still haven't done this, but I want to do it still.  Maybe I'll get to the Society of St. John in the Keweenaw.

12.  Visit Hidden Lake Gardens in Tipton.

I have done this once with my friend Ellen.   It's a cool place.   I need to get back there.

13.  Kayak the Huron River at night when there is a full moon with my friend Martha.

Martha and I did do this once.   We need to do it again.

14,  Visit the Peach Mountain observatory

I haven't done this......I need to do it this year.   It is just that the sun sets so late in the sumer and I go to bed so early.   Need to do this in the spring

15.  Use my pressure canner to can soup

I was good.   Need to do more,

16.  Plant another rose bush

I bought rose bushes to plant after my mother's funeral for my family.  Mine died, as they always do here.   We have a lot of clay.  My mother would understand.

17.   Make a mosaic

This is interesting, because I bought all the mosaic stuff and then never did anything with it.    I recently started again, and I need to complete a project.   2019 could be the year

18.  Make a hypertufa garden planter

I made many that year.   They all fall apart.

19.  Try to bake bread again without using a dutch oven a la Mark Bittman - I just want to make it like old ladies do.

I still do, but haven't tried.   I make it like Mark Bittman does.

20. Make a chronicling project a la Darcy Miller Nussbaum.  "Chronicling" sounds way more cool than scrapbooking.  Of course, if I hung out with Kate Spade and Martha Stewart, I'd be more cool, too.

Okay, I couldn't remember who Darcy Miller Nussbaum is, so I googled her.   I guess she is an illustrator?   Anyway, her work leaves me cold.   And Kate Spade killer herself, which was sad.  But I finished my kids school age scrapbooks in time for their grad parties.   So there is that.

21.  Make one recipe out of the Moosewood cookbook to celebrate the 1980s

I did make the vegetarian chili from the Moosewood at least once since then.   It is a great recipe.

22. Another gem from the 1960s....make a hamburger recipe from 365 Hamburger Recipes

I did do this, I made meatloaf and this is a great recipe.

1623.  Try caviar

I haven't done this yet!  Must do for 2019!!!

24.  Visit Parker Mill Park

I've done it.   If you live in Ann Arbor, you should too.

25.  Visit the Waterloo Farm Museum

See #24

26.  Visit Savannah, Georgia.  This is something I've wanted to do since I was a Brownie Girl Scout as a kid, and read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil as an adult.

I did this, and I liked Savannah.  Visited Juliette Gordon Low's birthplace.  But I have to tell you, Charleston, SC is better.

27.  Play one song on my cigar box ukulele.  I forgot how to tune it, let alone play it.

I haven't done this yet, but I am pretty sure I could tomorrow if need be.

28.  Complete Tigress's Can Jam by canning one item a month for 12 months straight.

I did do this.   It was awesome.   Tigress no longer writes a blog, but I do.

29.  Continue being a canning exhibitionist by demonstrating canning at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market.

I did this for several years, but the market manager left and it wasn't the same.    I still teach canning classes when I have the time.

30. Attend the Local Food Summit and speak out on the importance of making sure local food is available for all, not just the rich.

I did this!

31. Make at least one recipe from Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping.

Never did but I still have the book so I could.

32.  Crochet a rag rug out of old jeans.

I got about 3/4 the way through and realized I didn't want it.   Threw it away.

33.  Finish reading the Seven Storey Mountain

Man, this one is hard.   I still haven't finished.

34. Swim 200 yards freestyle.  In HS, my event was the 500 free, but I don't think I could make it that far

I swam several miles since then.   Swimming still comes easy.

35. Visit my friend Sheri from high school.

We get together about once a year now,

36. Make crumb cake.  Need to find a recipe first.

I still need to do this.

37.  Master making gelato at home

I've tried, you can't make it well at home.    I've given up.

38. Visit the Howell Farmer's Market


39.  Visit the Ypsi Farmer's Market

Many times.   Every week in the summer.

40. Visit the Tecumseh Farmer's Market.

Still need to do it

41. Wintersow some herbs

I did do this, but don't have time to do it now

42. Have a sunset picnic with our neighbors

Many times!  It is great

43. Have a bonfire party in the back yard

Ditto!  See #42

44. Make my hammock garden in the woods

Oh, the hammock!  I realized I never lay down that long.   My friend Victoria has it now.

45.Go on one 10 mile hike somewhere this year.

I've done it.   Need to do it more often.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Polish Food

My fb friend Liz asked me to post more Polish recipes, so I decided to look up what I have already posted.    I wrote an essay about growing up Polish in Warren, which I still enjoy reading.    That piece was featured by the short lived Ann Arbor Chronicle, which was a great online news site after our Ann Arbor News folded.  I sure miss the Ann Arbor News.... it had a great cooking section every Wednesday.   I need to write more about that as well.

I tried my hand at a Mushroom Cutlet once.   It is a favorite of my sister's at a Hamtramck restaurant.   I need to try that one again.    I also make a great kraut salad that is a traditional Polish food.  I have some kraut fermenting at home right now; hope it hasn't gone too far while I have been gone.   Here is how to cook kapusta (the Polish equivalent of the French charcroute  garni but trust me when I tell you the Polish version is much better).   There is also stuffed cabbage aka golabki.  It's pronounced "ga-wump-kee".   And let us not forget pierogi.  Looking at this post, I realize it has been 4 years since I made them last.  They are a lot of work, do it with friends like I did.

Another great Detroit Polish delicacy is City Chicken.   Not sure why it is Polish, but we all make it.   Also, Polish people in Detroit always serve mostacciolli   (what the rest of the world calls penne in marinara) alongside their kapusta and their pierogis.   I think it might be because it's a cheap and easy way to feed a lot of people)  Look at this Polish wedding menu from the American Polish Cultural Center in got kraut and kielbasa, pierogis, stuffed cabbage and mostaccioli.   We had it at our wedding as well!   Also every Warren funeral lunch.   I don't have a recipe for it, but it is pretty much jarred spaghetti sauce with lots of "green can" parmesan cheese added.  Sometimes, Polish folk will put some pasta in their kraut to stretch it a little - almost always, it is small shell shaped.    It's how Grandmother made sure she had enough food for everyone at her table!

Two things I haven't made yet but would like to try in 2019 are dill pickle soup and chruschiki aka angel wings.   We didn't have dill pickle soup at home growing up but always ate it at restaurants.  Speaking of dill pickles, here is a great Polish style pickle.  We made angel wings often at Grandmother's house.   Also, my mom made paczki fairly often; I made them once before I was a blogger but they are a lot of work.  The traditional ones aren't as sweet as the ones you get at bakeries before Easter (unless you are getting them from a Polish Bakery) and the best fillings are prune or rose.    I do love the Polish Italian version you can get at Tringali Bakery in Warren - it is pazcki filled with cannoli filling.    Not traditional but SO GOOD!  My mother often made something we called "nut roll", but we didn't use a Polish word for it.   It either had a walnut filling or my favorite, poppy seed.   I have her recipe written out in her handwriting, but have never made it yet.   So I will add these to my blogging list this year.   Maybe I will make paczki again too!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Lake Superior Sea Foam

I've been on a mission this Christmas to make candy.    My favorite chocolate shop candy is hard to find, old timey sea foam.  This candy goes by different names all over the country and even in the world, including honeycomb toffee, sponge toffee, cinder toffee or hokey pokey.   According to wikipedia, it is called sea foam in Maine, Washington, Oregon, Utah, California and Michigan.     I made it from a recipe I found online .... this blogger calls it "Buffalo Sponge Candy".  I made it pretty much according to her recipe, except I didn't have a means to sift the baking soda here at the lake house so I just was sure to make sure there were no lumps in it and added it carefully and gradually to the syrup.   It came out just fine.

I dipped it in Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate.   Tempering chocolate can be a challenge.... here is how I do it.   For both making sea foam and tempering chocolate, you will need an accurate digital thermometer.    I like Thermoworks thermometers.   All in all, it was a partial success.  The sea foam came out great, but I did mess up a bit of the dipping chocolate and a few pieces bloomed a bit because my temper was off.  (I got impatient and nuked the remainder of some that was left over). Bloomed chocolate is fine to eat, it just doesn't look as pretty.

Merry Christmas Eve!  The sun is shining here in the Keweenaw, and we had some nice lake effect snow last night.    I am looking forward to spending some time outside. 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Buffalo Chicken Breasts

Okay, I have made a New Year's Resolution!  I resolve to post almost every day, so I can have 600 posts on my "blogiversary" of Jan. 16, 2006.     So let's talk about today.....I am in the Keweenaw at our lakehouse, and we are getting ready for our first Christmas here.      We went out to do a little Christmas shopping, and then to watch the Lions lose (it is hard to find a place to watch the Lions because everyone is a Packers fan up here), but then I wanted to make dinner at our place so I did....

This recipe is based on one I found on Cook's Illustrated, chicken breasts sauteed in hot sauce.   I also liked their pairing with a blue cheese toast.   For blue cheese haters, substitute garlic.     Here is how I made it:

Buffalo Chicken Breasts

1 lb boneless chicken breast
1/2 c flour
salt and pepper
3 T veg oil
1 c  chicken broth
1/2 c.  Franks Red Hot sauce
1/2 c. sliced celery
1/2 blue cheese crumbles or 3 T minced garlic
2 T butter, softened
8 slices baguette bread

Sprinkle salt and pepper on chicken breast and dredge in flour.   Heat oil in a 12 inch skillet until shimmering.   Add chicken, cook on each side until brown, about 4 minutes.  Remove from skillet and tent with foil.   Add chicken broth and hot sauce, heat until reduced by about one half.  When sauce is reduced, add chicken to it. 

Meanwhile, preheat oven to broil setting and line a small baking sheet with foil.   Butter slices of baguette and top with either garlic or blue cheese to your taste (or both) and broil for 3 minutes until browned.

Serve chicken garnished with celery and serve with toast of your choice.    And a vegetable like broccoli is good. 

Friday, December 21, 2018

Christmas Nougat Candy

It's my goal to cook through many of my pinterest pins throughout this break.    I had pinned several version of this candy recipe and found all of them lacked something, so I decided to make my own based on what I have learned.    I was hesitant to try the "cheater" nougat recipes out there, especially since I just bought a brand new kitchen thermometer, but I have to say the white chocolate/marshmallow one is super easy and tastes great!  No thermometer required.   

I looked all over for red and green gum drops but I couldn't find any in the Christmas candy aisle, so I bought 3 movie theater size boxes of Dots and picked out all the red and green ones.   Bonus:  I get to eat the orange, yellow and pink ones myself.  I am a big fan of Dots and all the other weird candy people don't like, such as Good and Plenty or Mary Janes. 

Christmas Nougat Candy

1 T. butter
1 11 oz bag Ghirardelli White Chocolate Chips
1 10 oz bag mini marshmallows
1 c. gumdrops, cut in half

Line an 8X8 inch pan with parchment paper, and grease it lightly with butter.   Heat butter in a double boiler until melted.   Add chocolate and marshmallows and heat in double boiler until melted.   Remove from heat and let cool for a couple minutes.   Add gumdrops and stir until distributed.   Pour into prepared pan and smooth down top with a piece of buttered parchment paper.   Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Cut nougat into 1/2 inch strips, and then 1/2 inch squares.   Wrap in cellophane candy wrappers.

Merry Christmas