Saturday, January 27, 2024

Here's to a smile for my 10 year blogging anniversary!

 Even though I've blogged for twelve years at Across the Way,  it was ten years ago, January 27, 2014, that I first published Dewena's Window. 

We had snow there at Valley View that day and RH caught Katie Belle crossing the barn bridge. 

Here at Home Hill this past week there weren't many paw prints in our beautiful snow. Our dachshunds said No thank you when asked if they wanted to go potty.

But I loved the beautiful and rare 8 1/2 inches of snow we got here. From the first day it started falling, I couldn't keep away from the windows...

until the pond froze solid...

and even when we had to keep faucets dripping and doors under sinks open.

Of course I'm not the one who had to go outside and feed the birds.

Or climb ladders to thaw ice dams or to shovel paths clear.

And you already know that I'm not the one who spent hours outside when the salt truck ran over our water line.

But I loved every minute of our snow and was sad to see the rain melt it yesterday. 

What I did do, always do when it snows, is cook. Not the grilled cheese, tomato soup and Rice Krispie Treats I always made when I had children at home for snow days but what we were craving; salmon mousse with dill sauce for me, pinto beans for RH, and strawberry shortcake for both of us.

The Salmon Mousse was from one of my favorite cookbooks, Helen Exxum's Cookbook, 1987. and it was from The Gordon Lee House in Chickamaugua, Georgia, served at charity fundraisers with celebrity guests attending. 

You might remember that I'm that rare person who loves anything with gellatin in it, aspics, mousses, jello molds, you name it, if it slides down the throat as smooth as gellato, serve me a bowl. 

Unusual for me, my Christmas decor is 90% packed away now but I've kept out a few things I can't part with yet. Which is better than February 2nd when I usually pack it all away. The china above is one of two patterns I love to use in January and February. 

And here's the pinto beans I fixed, Rancho Gordo's that are the creamiest pinto beans ever.

I soak them overnight in purfied water, in the fridge if I have room, and when I cook them until tender the next day I follow Rancho Gordo's advice and never add anything like vinegar to it, or salt as they toughen the beans. I know some cooks say that vinegar in it solves the problem some people have with gas but Rancho Gordo's advice to that problem is to just eat more beans. 

Normally, my pinto beans have a whole bunch of chopped cilantro added to it but we weren't running to the grocery store on our snow day. I do add a bottle of Guiness Stout to mine after the beans are tender and lime juice, chicken or beef broth, olive oil, bay leaf, cumin, thyme, salt and pepper. And sometimes a ham bone goes in the pot after the beans are tender when I have one in the freezer. 

No cornbread with our beans this night because I had my buttermilk biscuits as the shortcake for our Florida strawberries.

Thankfully I had some heavy cream in the fridge so we had whipped cream with our berries too. 

What's your favorite thing to cook when it snows? Do you ever crave something weird like I do? Has anyone ever eaten Salmon Mousse? I bet not, thus no recipe here. 

January is almost over. How has it been for you, on a scale from 1 to 10? Compared to some years, I'll give this one a 10. That's right, a 10. And this is from someone who always used to agree with author Abbie Graham:

I am not wholly committed to January. I do not entirely trust it as a month.

God bless you, dear family and friends. In January and always.  

"When it snows, ain't it thrilling?"

Monday, January 22, 2024

Can we pretend today is January 2nd?

Can we pretend this is the day after New Year's Day 2024 and I'm publishing this blog post in a timely fashion? 

Only two days before, on New Year's Eve 2023, my pretty Karen Adams calendar was posing for a picture for the last time that year.

December's page was almost too pretty to say goodbye to and I still hadn't opened that green tube holding "Stress Away" that was a Christmas gift from my daughter-in-law, a roll on essential oil product that I've used for at least 8 years. 

Boy, was I going to need it along about January 20th when this happened in our front yard...

That's right, a big salt truck slipped backwards into our yard and wasn't able to get back on the icy road. 

After watching vehicle after vehicle slide into the ditch  of our long road frontage that afternoon we were first very happy to see the salt truck come to the rescue. That is, until he slid backward into our yard and broke our water meter and line and we were not only without water but water began spewing out into the yard, soon giving us an ice rink. Oh, and the white car is where someone in the neighborhood abandoned his car there and walked home. 

The good ending to that night was that three trucks and four supermen from our local utility district came and worked in the dark to restore our water. And as far as we know, in all the vehicles up and down our street that landed in the ditch that day, no one was hurt. 

Now, back to pretending it's January 2nd! I'm going to attempt to embed a video of our family Christmas party on December 23rd hosted by daughter-in-law Court in our old Valley View.

I hope that works! It was a wonderful night with everyone there except for our dear daughter Christy and son-in-law Bryan who now live in northern Florida. But her sons Luke and Alex were there with Alex's family. In fact, we had four generations of our family there including our four great-grandchildren! 

It was such a joy to join together as a family at the house that was our home for over 26 years. While there I couldn't help remembering all the Christmases and Thanksgivings and birthdays that were celelbrated and all the good times in the kitchen cooking and eating together. I'm so grateful to Court for hosting all of us!

Now, on to New Year's Eve. Let's have dessert first, shall we? Last post I told you I was going to make a Boston Cream Pie so I must show you that, but don't expect a cake where the chocolate glaze just drips down the edges because if a little chocolate is good, more is better.

A homemade cake deserves a pretty presentation so my Boston Cream Pie went on my milk glass cake stand and called for damask napkins and my wedding silver and wedding china. The television is set on YouTube's Hobbit House fireplace.

The cake was the best Boston Cream Pie I've ever eaten, including the first piece I ever had, in a Miami Beach restaurant when I was 18.

We did share our cake with our firstborn son and his family but RH and I looked forward all day to our slice at night until it was gone. 

This was a Cook's Illustrated recipe back when my dear Christopher Kimbell was Cook's Illustrated and I subscribed to the magazine for years. If you search for Wicked Good Boston Cream Pie you can find where food bloggers have the recipe for it. I now find Christopher Kimbell on his podcast, Milk Street. 

I did end up making braised salmon with caramelized onions from my Mediterranean cookbook by Nancy Harmon Jenkins.

And made potato salad to go with it. I froze individual portions of the salmon that make delicious lunches.

 That's pickled green beans on the plate too, part of a big gift box from Court.

On New Year's Day we got busy in the kitchen early. RH washed and cut two large bunches of collard greens for me. They do quickly cook down.

I also had black-eyed peas cooking early, soaking them overnight first, and Rancho Gordo's are the only dried beans I buy. Here's my last order from them of dried beans and their wonderful spices. I even gave Rancho Gordo products for Christmas gifts! 

After getting the collards and black-eyed peas cooking, I started on the pork loin roast.

That's prunes and apricots in the final gravy.

 I begged for a break in football games while we ate and got to watch a favorite Christmas movie.

Do you recognize it? I should have cropped out our red sofa. 

I'll end with a quotation that was the inspiration for my pork roast recipe, even though mine did not end up as beautiful as the one in the quotation from a favorite old 1975 book.

The Omars always ate dinner by candlelight. It was restful, provided a cozy atmosphere, and seemed right in the old house in which they lived. Barbara Omar was an expert in bringing forth the beauty from everything she touched, and she never minded the extra work. She was an excellent cook and the dishes she served often resembled magazine displays. He was a lucky man to have such a wife...He turned his attention back to their meal--the pork roast was almost too pretty to carve, he joked, so beautifully decorated with apricots, stuffed prunes, and parsley. This was the life he loved--a dear family which showed its love, good food, and the warmth of home.

                         From The Golden Acre by Thyra Ferre Bjorn 

I want to be Barbara Omar when I grow up! 

I'd like to sincerely thank those who read this terribly long post--even if you just scrolled through, which I wouldn't blame you for doing! 

RH and I wish you a safe and blessed 2024,