About Me

My photo
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.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Tags

I know I have not posted in a long time, but there just hasn't really been any free time to post anything.
Meet Aki! She is the latest addition to the family, and has stolen her big brother Katsu's heart. These two spend hours playing and getting into mischief. This is a rare quiet Kai moment caught on film.
I did put together a little Christmas project this past week during all the hustle and bustle of the Holiday. I found myself staring down an aisle of sparkly, glittery, shiny Christmas wrap, ribbons, tags and bows and I decided I hated all of it. I miss simple, cute with some thought put into it. I made the decision that next year gifts will come in holiday themed kraft paper with colored jute ties...you know the song "brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite things"...Well I decided I wanted something in the way of a gift tag that would match the feel of the packages I see in my head for next year (not exactly sugar plums, but you get the idea). I searched on Etsy for the perfect little Christmas tags and found them. Then I searched some more shops and found a small little stamp to stamp the backs to and from...works perfect!
Aren't these the cutest little tags? They came with the little ties as well, or you can get them without the ties and get your own colored bakers twine for the tags.
I found the little stamp on Etsy as well. The ink pad I had from other projects.
See how cute those are. Simple, easy and fun to do.
Wishing one and all a Very Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Just dropping by to wish everyone a wonderful holiday with the ones you love.

Sunday, November 1, 2015


I don't usually do blogs about my family. I do mention them from time to time in my blog but that is usually enough. Sadly this last year I have come to a couple of startling realizations 1. My kids are a$$ holes. 2. They both treat me like crap when it suits them.
I started to make some tough choices this past Mother's Day when my son made me feel like I was doing him a favor by picking out some gifts for myself at the local Grocery/Variety store so he could feel good about spending money on me for Mother's Day. I tried to avoid the whole situation by telling him all I wanted was a cup of coffee and his time (which he had told me to expect him at ten...turned out to be noon or later when he finally showed). He wouldn't think of it. He demanded I pick out gifts for myself. When we got back to the house I made the mistake of bringing up the Holidays Thanksgiving, Christmas and trying to make tentative plans with both my son and daughter and let them know I had limited cash this year, which I was hoping would help them out as well. When my daughter and son both in unison started spewing the reasons Christmas couldn't happen..."Oh I don't have any money, I'm trying to save money, I'm not doing Christmas, I have to move out, I'm not spending any money on anybody"... You get the idea. Suddenly a light came on...an epiphany if you will...I am over my kids. I am done trying to make them happy, I am done raising them. I told them both..."O.k. fine No Christmas". "You both can find your own things to do". "I have no problem with that, the BF and I always have plenty to do anyway". "Oh and since were not doing Christmas gifts I am also NOT cooking Christmas dinner" "I do have a few small stocking stuffers packed away for you guys for Christmas, so that will be it" "No worries you don't have to get us anything". It worked like magic both of them just quite griping. Of course the rest of the afternoon was crap...My son and daughter spent time staring at their cell phones or visiting with the neighbor. Oh Happy Mother's Day to me. A couple weeks after this incident I also canceled Thanksgiving...liberating I tell you.
I think I have seen my son once since then...but I am not sure. He called once asked where I was at. I told him grocery shopping and he informed me that I was too late to see him because he was now not in the neighborhood...I had missed his initial call by ten min. Sweet kid. I have had heated arguments with the daughter to get her off her ass and into a place of her own. Not the place I would have chosen, but she refused to listen to good advice (mine or anyone else)and got left with no options. She had to be out of my house October 1st (she was informed of this the first week of June). She did move out and things have gotten easier between us, but she still forgets occasionally to be nice and respectful and not such a bitch. I don't set out to engage either one of my kids unless needed ...it is emotionally unhealthy for me.
My birthday was October 4th and not so much as a card from either one. My daughter wished me a Happy Birthday, my son waited to call until late in the day when he figured I would be upset that he hadn't called earlier...I hadn't given him a thought actually the BF and I did all the things I wanted to do on my birthday and I spent the whole weekend enjoying myself. I am done giving a crap about what these kids think. When he did finally call it was to whine about his motocross injury and the time he has lost from work, or something...it is always about him. He never asks me what I am doing or if I am o.k. I kept the phone call short and acidic...I wasn't in the mood to listen to him.
I don't call my son and haven't since even before Mother's Day...there is no point to it. I was shocked last night when he called. I though maybe he called to wish me a Happy Halloween!...nope. I picked up the phone and the first words he said to me were "You forget you have a son?" I simply replied "You forget you have a mother?" Then his next comment was..."when was the last time you talked to your daughter"...See he didn't call because he wanted to catch up or find out how I am doing. He called to complain to me about his sister, who had been badgering him to take her out to lunch in Jan on her birthday, and that the only time he hears from family is when they want something from him (Moi? I don't think so sunshine). He called because he wanted me to pick a side ( I did not). Then of course he wanted to remind me that he wasn't doing Christmas this year because he was being the Grinch, and because he was too busy trying to save money to buy a house and go on vacation to Vegas...I am sure there are a few hundred dollars he needs to spend on dirt bike parts as well. I told him he didn't need to remind me of that. I also told him that his sister was his problem not mine and he would have to deal with her. I also told him he has always been a Grinch and his sister a bitch (nope not sorry if you are reading this). These two for the past 10 years have tried their damnedest to ruin every single holiday with their bickering, lack of spirit, lack of help and general non participation. This behavior starts every single year right around my birthday and goes all the way through Mother's day of the following year. Their behavior has kept me in a constant state of anxiety and upset to the point of tears every single year. Honestly I no longer give a $hit if I they spend time with me, or call. It is easier if they don't.
This was not some experiment in reverse psychology. I am not secretly wishing my children show up on Christmas with bags of gifts, and offer to do the cooking and dishes...No, please no, stay away...far away. This is me venting my spleen and letting other mothers know you don't have to take that crap from adult kids...cut them loose. Let it and them go. I am sorry your kids are horrible, so are mine...move on.
Dont' think for one second I won't be having a lovely Holiday season. The BF and I have lots of plans in the works. There will be yummy food, and lots of time spent with each other and our critters, movies, some light hiking if the weather permits. Trust me I am not going to be sitting in front of my Christmas tree crying my eyes out over the loss of my kid's Christmas spirit. They lost it all on their own...let them go find it for themselves.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Pie crust cookies

I saw this recipe on Pinterst a few weeks back and I thought I would give it a try to see if I liked it enough to possibly make and take it somewhere. It was o.k., but not great. I can see where improvement could be make.
You start with two refrigerated pie crusts sprinkle a little flour on your board and lay out the first crust. slightly roll it to get rid of any wrinkle and make it lie flat (wish I could slightly roll my forehead and get rid of any wrinkles).
spray the top of the cookie sheet with a little baking spray and sprinkle with some finely chopped, dried, sweetened cranberries, finely chopped walnuts or pecans and some cinnamon and sugar.
Take the second crust and place it on top of the first covering the cranberries and nuts inside. Slightly roll them together until they form a single crust with the filling showing through. Spray the top with some more cooking spray and sprinkle additional cinnamon and sugar on top.
Then the fun part. Get out your cookie cutter (metal works best) and cut as many possible shapes from the pie crust round. You can wad the pie crust up and roll is out a second time if you need to.
The fun part! Place cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake like you would pie crust.
They turned out fairly good, but if I had them to do over (and I will do them over) I would brush on melted butter instead of spraying cooking spray, brown sugar and cinnamon instead of white (maybe even drizzle a tiny amount of honey, a little fresh orange zest would go a long way in this recipe. The cookies worked but the flavor was lacking. I am not sure if using homemade pie crust would be doable because store bought pie crusts are more resilient.
I have been busy lately and haven't had time to sit down and really think out a recipe and get it together with photos. The bf and I are expecting a (you fill in the blank), and so we are trying to settle or nest rather. Katsu is doing well, but has had his moments where we just look at him and shake our heads. The last episode involved him eating a plastic cone off his head...I didn't blame him, those are not a great fashion statement, but it caused me extreme stress and worry while he slowly but surely passed all of it. My daughter moved out so we have redecorated her old bedroom into my new office/sitting room. We still have a few things to acquire, but it is coming along really well. I refinanced my house, so it looks like the bank is stuck with me for the next 30 years give or take. So between my daughter moving, house refi, dog acting crazy you can see why I didn't have time. Looking forward to the next few weeks to get things completed...Samhain is just around the corner and in case I don't get back here between now and then I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Beef Barley Soup

To say the least the end of summer has been tumultuous. We are in the midst of refinancing our home, trying to keep spending to a bare minimum and Katsu has had a couple of medical issues crop up unexpectedly that we now hope we have under control. Roll all of that in with my daughters impending departure (in three weeks) from the family home for a place of her own, and I am ready for the much needed quieter pace of fall...the serenity of the season so to speak.
My grandmother's husband used to make something called "garbage soup" every week he would collect all the bits and pieces from the weeks meals and dice up the meat and chop the remaining vegetables make a stock depending on what he had on hand and make a delicious soup from scraps and leftovers. It was never the same and it always tasted wonderful.
Salt and pepper up some soup bones. I know they look like short ribs, but where I get my meat they call these soup bones.
Sear them on a med-high heat until browned on all sides. Then remove the meat and set it them in a baking dish.
Turn you oven on to 300 degrees and place foil snugly over the top of the baking dish. Place the soup bones in the oven and let them slow roast for about 3 to 4 hours.
When the meat is tender they are done. Pull them out of the oven and the baking dish set them on a platter to cool.
In the same pan that you seared the meat. Drain off some of the fat or a lot of the fat, whichever, and cook up your carrots, celery and onion. Cook them until they are only about half done, maybe less.
Separate the meat from the fat and dice into small cubes. Roasting the meat this way gives it a wonderful hearty flavor that you just can't beat.
I have everything ready to go into the pot. I also roasted up a Rutabaga for the soup it has a really nice texture and spicy fall flavor.
My stock came from leftovers I had in the freezer. Gravy from other roasts, beef broth from other soups. I love cleaning out the freezer and finding treasures. I added all in the pot along with 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup pearl barley and let it slow simmer for another hour or so until the barley was done.
This soup went nicely with my spicy buttermilk biscuits and the wet and rainy day. I had never made the meat ahead for soup like this and I was so pleased by the results that I seriously doubt I will every do it any other way again. The soup was really flavorful and satisfying.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Powdered Buttermilk

Have you ever walked by a product in the grocery store and told yourself that someday you would have to try it? I have been passing this product by in my grocery store for years, always wanting to try it but never seeming to grab a can and have it make it into my shopping basket. Well that ended the other week. I grabbed up a can on my way through the baking aisle.
It works great! I have used it a couple times, once because I forgot to buy buttermilk and once because I forgot I had buttermilk...that's the way I roll. I used it last night to make one of my latest favorite quick bread recipes to go along with a pot of white beans and ham soup. The weather is playing hot and cold with us, so one day we will be 70 and the next we soar back up to 90.
The white bean soup is simple enough. You take one pound of dried white beans (I used northern beans) 1 medium sized smoked ham shank (I had the butcher cut it into 3 pieces), salt, pepper. Take the beans and rinse them good and add them to a large pot, nestle the ham shank sections into the bean and add enough water to cover the beans. Turn the pot on and bring to a boil, when the pot boils turn down to a simmer add the salt and pepper (to taste) and put a lid on it. Check the pot every so often to stir the beans and add water when needed. When meat is tender pull it from the soup, take the meat from the bones and put it back in the pot. When the beans are about an hour away from being done add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. adjust your salt and pepper add more if needed. Cook until you reach the desired consistency.
Short and sweet this week. I have been exceptionally busy, but hope to make a little more room for new recipes with fall around the corner. Have a great rest of the week.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Havarti on Ciabatta with Mushrooms

Real cooking is out the window this week with the temperatures in the high 90's. I wanted something quick, delicious and easy enough to make that I didn't have to dirty up half the kitchen or turn on a bunch of burners.
This was super easy and fast. I took a pound of mushrooms (use what you like) and sliced them up and sauteed them in a hot pan with a little butter and olive oil until done. Set them aside until cooled. I then took a store bought Ciabatta bread and sliced it open to make two slabs of bread. I place the bread in the oven (on a cookie sheet) on broil with the cut side up and toasted it. Pull the bread out of the oven. Then take a couple of peeled cloves of garlic and rub all over the top of the toasted bread. Next is my favorite part. Pile about a 1/2 -1 cup of shredded cheese onto each slice of bread ( I used Havarti) then pile on the mushrooms. Slide both sections back into the oven and broil until nice and melty (should be a word by now). I served this all up with a nice green salad and some ice cold water.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Vanilla Cupcakes with Greek Yogurt and Lemon Yest, topped with Fresh Marion Berry Buttercream

We are having a bit of a heat wave here...the real ugliness starts tomorrow with some triple digit temps. I am not excited about it. My daughter texts me while I am on my way home from work, and tells me that she wants to make cupcakes. I text back..."seriously it is 90+ out and you want to turn on the oven?" "Are you high". Pretty sure those are close to my exact words. She was and so we did. She had a recipe that called for a few things that I didn't have, but what I did have worked real well.
For the cupcakes: 1 3/4 cups cake flour 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 plain Greek yogurt 1/2 cup milk (I used 2%) 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 large egg whites, at room temperature 1 stick (4 ounces) butter, melted and cooled 1 cup granulated sugar 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
In a mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients and set aside in a smaller bowl add your wet ingredients yogurt, egg whites, vanilla, lemon juice and zest and mix together. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter and blend. Then add your wet to your dry and mix until batter is smooth.
Preheat your oven to 350 degree and line a regular size cupcake pan with paper liners. Fill each cupcake 2/3 full of batter. Bake in preheated oven for roughly 16 min. Toothpick check to make sure they are done and remove from oven and from pan. Place cupcake on cooling wrack and allow to cool. This is a small batch recipe and makes roughly 12 cupcakes. Perfect for a little gathering of friends.
For the Marion Berry Buttercream: 1 cup Marion Berries 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 sticks (4 ounces) butter, VERY soft, pinch salt (do not skip!) 2 cups confectioners sugar (more if needed), sifted. Into a small bowl add your marion berries and 1 Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. Mash them until really, really pulverized or use your immersion blender. Then pour through a strainer you want all the juice but none of the seeds. Use a spoon to work it through the strainer if you must. Then into a separate bowl place the soft butter, and pinch of salt and whip together. Add confectioners sugar 1/2 cup at a time and alternate with slowly drizzling in marion berry puree. Get your buttercream the consistency you want by adding more confectioners sugar or more marion berry puree. You have to gauge how stiff you want your frosting. You may not use all of the puree. If you store the cupcakes in the fridge take them out about 30 minutes before serving.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Granola in a snap

I haven't made granola in a long time so I thought I should make up a small batch...for one I had oats in the pantry that needed something done with them and two well granola goes so well with everything from milk, yogurt to ice cream.
Into a large bowl pour in 2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats. The dried fruit I added to the oatmeal was 1/2-3/4 cup large shaved flake unsweetened coconut, 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds and a handful of walnut pieces. Into a large measuring cup or small bowl add 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup pure maple syrup a good pinch of salt, cinnamon, 2 Tlb dark brown sugar and a 1 tsp. vanilla extract or maple extract or whatever you think might go best with the dried fruit and nuts your adding and 2-4 Tlb of coconut oil. Mix this well and slightly heat if needed to melt the coconut oil. Pour this over your oatmeal, fruit and nut mixture and blend well. Make sure to coat all of the oatmeal. Spread the granola on a cookie sheet and bake in a 300 degree preheated oven for 30 min.? make sure you go in and check the granola and turn it making sure that it all becomes nice and golden brown. When cooled put granola in an airtight jar. It will keep for a couple of weeks...It won't last that long, but it could.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Blueberry & Raspberry Cobbler

The berries came in early this year and I wasn't able to get out into the fields and pick any strawberries this year. I managed to get a handful of blueberries and maybe, if I am lucky, I will get back out to the farm and pick some raspberries and anything else I can get my hands on.
I made this cobbler from last season's berries that I had frozen in my deep freezer. I think frozen berries work perfect for cobblers. Cobblers are the perfect dessert for busy days. They have minimal ingredients and you don't need to dirty a lot of dishes to make one.
For the Blueberry cobbler you will need 1 cup flour, 1 1/2 cup sugar (divided), 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2-2/3 cup milk (I used 2/3), 1/2 cup butter (melted), 3 cups blueberries and raspberries (fresh or frozen) and 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 2 qt. baking dish. Into the bowl with your berries mix 1/2 cup sugar, 1 Tlb fresh lemon juice and set aside. If your berries are extra juicy add 1-2 tsp of corn starch to the berries and sugar. Into another bowl add the remaining cup of sugar, 1 cup of flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, mix ingredients together then add the melted butter 1/2 cup of milk (always start with less add more if needed)and mix together to make your batter. Pour the batter into your greased 2 qt. baking dish and top with the berries. Slide it into your preheated oven and let it bake for 35-45 min. (depends on your oven and dish) Mine took a little longer than 45 min. Keep an eye on it.
This was the perfect dessert to finish our extremely busy day of berry picking, household chores and yard work.
Super delicious. Hope the rest of your week is wonderful.