About Me

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Just a simple gal living on the outskirts of Portland making ends meet. I have lived in Portland for over 20 years and I am happy to call it home. On this blog you will find everything from cooking to my crazy life. I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Kari's Out Sick

This past week has been a rough one. I caught a bad cold that has literally taken me a week to feel like doing anything in the kitchen for health reasons and because standing really seemed like too much work. However, the boyfriend was gone last weekend and when he returned he bestowed some lovely Quince upon me (I had never seen a quince until Sunday last). They smelled, and looked amazing all bright and sweetly scented, and I was really bummed to find out (Thank you Google) that I could not just cut it up and eat it...I had to make jelly or Membrillo (Quince Paste)and I also been gifted with some Membrillo (that we haven't eaten yet) so I didn't need more.
I have never made or canned jelly before in my life, but I have made tons of jam and canned it over the years I have also made some wicked good apple butter and I have assisted in canning corn, peaches, beef stew and a load of other wonderful things but never jelly, so I was a little intimidated. I turned to my Ball Blue Book of Canning only to find out that they must not have ever heard of Quince because I could not find a recipe for it anywhere within the pages of my book. I then searched the internet and found a simple recipe for making jelly. I found the recipe I wanted from one of my favorite sites. This recipe is easy and in my opinion practically fool proof. The jelly turned out great...I am not sure what to do with it, and I am still hoping some ideas will trickle in from friends and family, but I do think that if you melted it down and added some spices or ____ it would make a nice glaze for that holiday ham, tarts, or other pastries. K.B. says she is going to put it on a peanut butter sandwich...I am still waiting to hear how that turns out for her.
Tonight is Samhain or Halloween whichever you prefer, so when I get home today from work I need to carve a pumpkin. It is not really carving mind you more like taking a power drill to it and making that little jack O lantern look like Swiss cheese. I love this night because the kids get to shine they put on their costumes and parade up and down the street, knocking on doors and yelling "Trick or Treat". My favorites are the little ones all dressed up out with mommy or daddy who may be carrying them and having to gently remind them to say the phrase that gets them candy. Why are they my favorite you may ask... it is because they are so darn cute and sweet...that is why. The older kids not so much they don't try hard with the costume (if they are even wearing one) and then the last couple years I have the occasional homeless person or two trick or treating...creepy, but who knows maybe this year I will give them candy...the goddess knows I bought enough. However, you choose to celebrate Halloween is fine with me as long as you have fun, be safe and harm none...Blessed Be.

Friday, October 25, 2013


I have been told that some people don't know what to think of me making some of my staples instead of running out and buying them from the grocery stores. Like for example I make my own homemade Pancake Syrup it literately takes minutes, cost pennies and it is way better for me and my family than the stuff in the store filled with High Fructose Corn Syrup. Now I suppose I could run over to the organic section of the store and pick up a teeny weeny bottle of some overpriced priced corn syrup free syrup but seriously I would rather make my own from three simple ingredients Brown Sugar, Water and Maple Flavoring.
Maple Syrup/Pancake Syrup Ingredients 2 Cu. Dark Brown Sugar, 1 Cu. Water, 1/2 to 1 tsp. Maple Flavoring or 1/2 tsp Maple Flavoring and 1/2 tsp. Butter Flavoring. Directions Combine water and sugar into a sauce pan bring to a boil and turn down to low. Cook until sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat let it cool some then add the Maple flavoring. Let the syrup cool completely and pour into an airtight bottle to store. This keeps a long time.
Now moving on I also like to put the time and effort into making my own Ketchup. A major name brand (who shall remain nameless) used to make a corn syrup free ketchup for a reasonable amount of money, but early last year they stopped. After investigating the organic corn syrup free brands and prices and deciding once again I wasn't going to pay over 3.00 for a tiny bottle of ketchup I had to do some research and find a ketchup recipe that was simple, delicious that I could make at home that had the right consistency. It wasn't hard and I am happy to report that my family likes this way better than any store brand. I usually double this recipe and I follow it to the letter. I have tried it with both apple cider vinegar and white and my family prefers apple cider. Making this ketchup is simple and satisfying. It keeps well in the fridge for weeks.
I have this recipe that was passed on to me from a friend P. Cakes from an old AOL food chat room 100 hundred years ago that through the years has gone through some changes (the recipe I have no idea if AOL food chat still lives). The recipe is a crustless quiche that calls for Bisquick to be added to the eggs and milk and blended in a blender. The recipe is delicious but I have never been a Bisquick kind of girl dating all the way back to making cinnamon rolls in my Home Economics class in Jr. High. So I finally hunted down a recipe that works great, I can easily half the recipe and it keeps in the freezer for a couple of weeks. Where is the crust-less quiche recipe you ask? Well it is on the menu for next week so you will have to look for it then.
Making things from scratch for my family is something I enjoy doing for a lot of different reasons. I get personal satisfaction from knowing that I can make these things better tasting, better quality and sometimes for less money than buying them in grocery stores. Enjoy

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pumpkin Coconut Bread

So about a week and a half ago my friend Racey requested a recipe for Pumpkin Bread from me. I thought no sweat I have that at home in my recipe box. I will just dash off a copy and email it to her (I also do snail mail), but I looked in my recipe box and in my book of clippings and recipes passed on to me by friends and family and I couldn't find it. So this morning I decided I needed to do a little research and find a recipe and get it to her before the season for Pumpkin Bread is over.
Pumpkin Coconut Bread Ingredients 1 cup pumpkin puree, 2 large eggs, 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/3 cup water and 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Blend those first six ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl sift together 1 3/4 cup flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp cloves and 1/8 tsp ginger. Mix the flour mixture into the wet mixture. Fold into batter 1/2 cup shredded coconut and 1/4 cup chopped nuts (your choice). Directions Into a greased and lightly floured bread pan pour the batter and spread it out evenly. Tap the bread pan on the counter a couple of times to get any air pockets out. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for about an hour. Check bread by inserting a knife in the middle of the loaf. Bread is done when knife comes out clean.
You will have to take my word for it this bread is delicious. I made it this morning and there is only about 4 in. of bread left. I hope there will be enough for me to take a small slice or two to work tomorrow morning.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Quick Yeast Rolls

I love soup in the fall so I always make extra to freeze for a quick meal mid-week when I don't have time to cook, or don't feel like cooking. Last night was one of those nights. I took a large container of Turkey soup from the freezer before I went to work and let it thaw. When I got home I put the soup in a pan on the back burner and warmed it slowly.
Another thing I love about fall is the variety of squash there is out there. When the bf and I first got together he was not a fan of squash due to the fact that the only way he had ever had it was baked with heaping amounts of brown sugar...the same was said about sweet potatoes. I have changed his mind. Last night to go along with the soup I baked up a Delicata hybrid squash that a friend supplied me with (by the way K.B. it was delicious). I simply halved it, scooped out the seeds, rubbed olive oil, salt and pepper into the flesh and baked it cut side down on a foil lined cookie sheet at 350 until fork tender.
The perfect accompaniment with soup of course is bread and I have found the perfect roll recipe that is quick, simple and packed full of flavor. Sometimes there are enough rolls left over to freeze, forget about and then turn into French toast bread pudding, but I wouldn't count on it.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

On The Fly French Toast Bread Pudding

So this morning I wanted something sweet for breakfast, but sadly did not have any buttermilk in the fridge to make my personal favorite buttermilk pancakes and I am not a fan of making waffles...just takes too long. So this morning I switched it up a bit and made a French toast bread pudding using previously frozen homemade dinner rolls. I love these rolls but my eyes are always bigger than my stomach and I always have some leftover that I do not want to throw out because I hate wasting food, so I freeze them with good intentions, and then a month later I throw them out.
Making the bread pudding was easy enough I simply tore up the rolls into bite sized chunks and put into a lightly greased glass casserole dish, you will have to gauge how big a dish you need. The egg mixture was simple 4 eggs, 2 cu. milk and 1/2 cup cream, 1 tsp vanilla, pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and 1-2 Tlb sugar or if you prefer honey. Mix well then pour over the bread. Press the bread down into the eggs so you soak up the egg. Cover the casserole dish with tin foil making sure not to touch the bread but making sure to tightly seal. Place casserole dish into a roasting pan fill roasting pan with hot water until the water comes half way up the side of the casserole dish. Place in 350 degree oven and bake for 40 min. Then remove tin foil and continue to back for another 30-40 min. Remove from oven cut into squares serve with butter and maple syrup. This was a quick and easy way to use up some old rolls that I would have otherwise fed to the bird. It made a nice change to the usual Sunday breakfast fare.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


My birthday last week happened with little fan fair, no parties, or any sort of a fuss...just the way I like it. We had dinner planned out at a very posh restaurant with a menu that changes weekly, but at the last minute I opted to stay home have a nice dinner and some peace and quiet with the bf. This year’s birthday was a milestone birthday turning 40 is never easy (my second time around) and it has been one heck of a year and I am looking forward to it ending. I really decided that birthdays are not parties, cake, food or gifts, those things are great, but birthdays are about people. I spent my birthday at work at a job I am grateful to have with people that I enjoy working with. I spent my birthday evening with the bf we cooked a great meal together and just hung out. My son and his adorable girlfriend came over on Sunday, took me for coffee, and visited with me for a couple of hours, and my daughter cleaned house for me, which makes my life easier. Of course, I got great gifts and there was delicious cake but what really matters is the people that make these things happen.
The bf got me the weather vane that I have wanted for the house...no it is not just for Halloween...were taking bets on how long it will be before the neighbors start to worry. I figure somewhere around Yule they will start whispering.
My birthday this year is taking about a week to wrap up. I have spent time with the family and received wonderful gifts, flowers, cake and gifts of hot coffee (truly a fav thanx K.B.). This week I have dinner with some friends tonight and another dinner on Saturday with some other friends...busy, busy, and before dinner on Saturday evening vintage chachkie shopping with K.B. Looking forward to every busy minute of the weekend ahead. Then it is time to settle into fall.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Harvest & Honey Mama's Nectar Fudge

The bf and I go to this monthly dinner party the first Thursday of every month, well we try to go every month, and this month the theme was "The Harvest". There is no set menu for these monthly soirees and it is not a pot luck where you would be assigned a side dish, main or dessert people show up with food that in this case represent "The Harvest" so you never really know what people are going to bring or sometimes how many people are going to come.
Since the bf and I hadn't been able to go in a couple of months we decided to go this month, so I did some thinking about what "The Harvest" meant to me and came up with the plan to make two loaves of my 18 hour bread. I love this bread it is fail proof and fantastic and looks very artisan and rustic the only thing I like to do on occasion is fold into the bread before baking it are fresh grated Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, a whole head of roasted garlic or maybe all three. This time I made one with garlic and one without. The loaves of bread turned out perfect and I whipped up a yummy spread to go with the bread that I think the hostess just wanted to eat from a spoon.
Spread Recipe 1/2 cup very soft butter 1/2 cup softened cream cheese (full fat) 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese 1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning 4 cloves of roasted garlic ( I reserved 4 from baking the whole head I used for the bread) Blend until really smooth the put into a container and chill. Let the spread come to room temperature before using.
Dinner was a success the host and hostess made a super yummy autumn soup with butternut squash and apples, which is now on my menu in the near future, and another guest brought corn on the cob with cilantro, lime and cotija cheese, which was also delicious. Then for dessert, the host and hostess supplied us with chocolate, very smart idea, just some bars of chocolate they had with different flavors, nuts and darkness, but then I spied this little package of fudge so I thought I would try it...amazing, decadent, blissful and seductive I thought all of that in the first bite. The fudge is a local product that so far can only be found in a few grocery stores. The fudge is aptly named Honey Mama's Nectar Fudge and the particular flavor I was savoring was the spicy one. I managed to savor about half of what was on the table. I have already contacted the maker simply to thank her for making this delectable confection. I am very happy to report that they will be carrying this fantastic fudge in my local green grocer that is due to open in 96 hours...yes I am counting.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Soup Season

I love this time of year when you feel that snap in the crisp air and smell the wood smoke curling from your neighbor’s fireplace, and when the rustling of leaves down a street brings goose bumps. All I can think about in the evening is getting home and curling up with the bf and cooking something simple, warming and satisfying. For me that choice has always been soup. I cannot think of a more perfect meal. You can combine a wide variety of flavors, proteins and vegetables to appease every palette.
I had put up a couple of quarts of homemade turkey stock (loaded with meat) in the freezer a couple weeks back so making turkey soup was the logical choice since I like making soup from ingredients I have on hand.
Directions I took the quart of turkey stock let it thaw in my soup pot then added to it 4cu. chicken bullion, salt and ground pepper and brought it to a very low simmer (more like steeping) for about an hour and a half. I then diced (small) 2 carrots, 2 stalks of celery and 1/2 a large yellow onion and sautéed in a cast iron skillet in 1 Tlb. butter and 2 Tlb. olive oil some ground sage and salt and pepper. When the mirepoix (carrots, celery and onions) are not quite tender but the veggies have great color put them in the pot with the turkey stock and bullion and continue to let them simmer until the veggies are almost done. Then to the pot, I add a couple of medium sized handfuls of baby spinach that I have rolled up and ran a knife through once to shred and 1/4 of uncooked pepe di acini pasta. I let the spinach cook down and the pasta cook. Adjust the seasonings how you like.
In closing, I love the versatility of soup. I love the idea that you can take a stock whether vegetable, fruit or protein base and add to it all the things that you love combined with the right seasonings simmer or chill for the time needed and come away with something amazing and unique every time. My grandmothers second husband (Andy) used to do this and called it “garbage soup”. Andy would clean all the leftovers out of the fridge once a week combine everything into a soup pot add some seasoning, salt and pepper and see what happened. It was always fun and always delicious. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Witching Hour

I have been faithfully reading "The Witching Hour" by Anne Rice. I know it was first published in 1990, sooo I am a little behind on my reading. I honestly cannot believe I missed this one way back then. It has been an exceptionally enjoyable read. The characters are not just well developed but they are interesting. The plot moves along nicely and the story plays out well. Of course, it is part of a series and I have now been fully sucked into the Mayfair family so much, so I figure I will be receiving my invite to summon dear dead Uncle Julien at the next family séance. Wouldn't that be fun? Anyway, I do not usually dish on a book, but if you happened to overlook this gem way back when grab it up and give it a read. As I always say, my library card is my favorite piece of plastic in my wallet.