Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday - Faery Hangouts and One Good Reason

I walk our greenway every day now that it's nice. I don't believe in Faeries or fairies but if I did, most of these pics would be a good place for them to hang out.

One plant is a baby Lamb's Ear. I remember as a kid, going around the fields checking on livestock with my grandmother, and if we had to use the bathroom we looked for a mature Lamb's Ear plant to use as emergency toilet paper! LOL!

And I know that nobody who knows me would believe it, but Shy Violets are my favorite flower. Ever.

One last thing, and that is One Good Reason to get out for a walk. It's a little eye candy that happens every afternoon along the trail. Makes the walk worthwhile...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Local Color

Here are pics I've taken while out and about in our little town and parts of Knoxville. Our trees are not leafed-out yet but will be in a couple weeks, and then they will be Audacious Green... you know, the color that only God and little children color trees. LOL.

Each pic has a caption below, telling what it is. Enjoy our beautiful E. Tennessee!

A patch of Wild Chives in my daughter Des' yard. They're delicious in just about any savory dish!

Tiny blue wildflowers in the grass. I don't know what they're called, but they are ubiquitous.

This is looking down a side-street in Knoxville. Our car was on a main artery called Kingston Pike (US route 11).

This is from Kingston Pike, an exit going on to I-140 in Knoxville. When the tree is leafed out, you can imagine how pretty this is!!

This picture and the one below it are of daffodils growing along the major highways. This is the intersection at Clinton Highway, going North out of Knoxville. The picture below is a hillside along Pellissippi Parkway (I-140/TN 162), another major roadway.

This picture was taken at the entrance of our "Greenway" here in Lenoir City. It roughly follows Town Creek, and goes for 1.7 miles (2.735KM) in one direction. Walking it down & back is a 3.4 mile (5.47KM) walk. I usually start at a small park at the 1/2mile point and walk down and back. Because it is up & down hill, it's quite a workout! Several pics below were taken along this Greenway.

Yes, this really is a car, embedded in the bank of Town Creek on the opposite side from the greenway walk. LOL!

Some moss growing on the North side of the path

These beautiful, blooming bushes are called Forsythia. They are very common here, and will bloom all summer.

This is either a Redbud Tree or a Red Oak. Either way, the leaf buds & new leaves are a deep maroon color. Beautiful!

Our Bradford ornamental pear tree is budding, in a week these clusters will all be little white, highly-fragranced flowers. Gorgeous Sinus Hell. LOL

This planting bed is in the Walmart parking lot. The tall bush is Holly, short one is Firebush, and flowers are Hyacinths.

Last pic... this is a pink Flowering Dogwood in the parking lot of the Loudon County Clerk's office. These grow wild here too, among the mountains!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday - Building a Tomb

This weekend our church is having a big drama production. For the little kids, they're having a "Mystery Weekend." The kids will go to different stations in our Satellite sanctuary and get "clues" to what happened on Easter.

Today Des, Diantha and I went up to the church and spent the afternoon building a tomb.

Here are some pre-blocking pics of my TwitKal (Twitter Knit-a-Long) shawl. It's knitted of Merino/Bamboo handspun & has 48 hanging jewels. It will be about 6 ft. wide when blocked.

Oh and I got a new motorcycle today, a GS650 Suzuki. Which I very kindly let 18yos Artemas pose on for the pic. :D

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chocolate "Crazy" Cake

This recipe is for a dark chocolate from-scratch cake that goes together FAST and is the best cake we've ever made. We use it for everything from birthdays to weddings to sending a friend some cheer in the mail. Borrowed with my own variations, from the Doubleday Cookbook

NO SUBSTITUTIONS!! This cake will age incredibly well, even becoming moister as it ages, but only if you use REAL butter! (This also works on box cakes!) you can make "sour" milk by putting a tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice in a cup of milk for a few minutes. Or use up old milk that has turned (the cake doesn't care).

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare one 9x13 or 2, 8" or 9" round or square pans by greasing and flouring the bottom or line bottom with greased wax paper (crumbs will stick to the paper)!

Put the ingredients in the bowl in the order listed, without mixing until as directed. Then beat only 2 minutes.

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour milk or buttermilk
  • 3/4 C unsifted cocoa
  • 1 cup butter, partially melted
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups + 2 Tablespoons unbleached flour
    (or 3 cups cake flour)

    Mix until *just* blended, batter will be very thick! Then while mixing slowly, add
  • 1 cup hot coffee
    (If you don't like coffee, don't let this make you nervous. I LOATHE coffee, but you will never taste it in the finished cake. It does NOT taste like Mocha.)

    Blend for 2 minutes, pour into pans, bake 30 minutes or until cakes shrink slightly from sides of pan and test done with a skewer stuck in the middle (crumbs ok, batter = not done). Cool 15 minutes in pans, turn out and frost as desired
  • Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    Sour Cream Pecan Pancakes

    We made these for lunch today, & I had a request for the recipe. Once again, I'm putting up the small version, for a family of 4 or less. To feed more people, just use the quantities in parentheses to double the recipe.

    We used lowfat sour cream, and substituted 1/3 of the flour with buckwheat flour, to add fiber. Also I tossed in a tiny handful (1 Tablespoon or less) of crushed pecans while each pancake cooked.

    Calorie count for a 5" pancake without syrup: 80 plain, 120 with pecans. Add 33cal. per teaspoon for butter, syrup calorie count as listed on bottle.

    1 cup lowfat sour cream (2 cups)
    1 large egg (2)
    1 Tablespoon sugar (2 T)
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (1 T)
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda (1 t)
    1/4 t salt (1/2 t)
    1/4 t cinnamon (1/2 t)
    1/8 t nutmeg (1/4 t)
    3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (1 1/2 cups)

    Beat everything in order with a wire whisk. If necessary, thin batter with lowfat milk, skim milk, or even water. Heat non-stick or cast-iron griddle to medium-hot, until a drop of water sizzles on the griddle. Pour 1/3 cup mix, spread it around a little with a spatula, and if you like sprinkle with pecans (or chocolate chips). Cook until pancake bubbles and looks a little dry around the edges. Flip quickly, let cook about a minute more. Serve with butter and syrup or top with fruit compote!

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Baby Shawl, B & Busted Pipeline

    Today in cleaning out a closet in the girls' room, we found a baby shawl/blanket that I knitted for Desiree while I was on bedrest for 3 months before she was born. The last and only time I had knit anything before that, was a purse my grandmother tried to have me make when I was 10, in seed stitch, and I HATED IT.

    But 3 months bedrest is BORING, so dh took me out in a wheelchair to the local craft store, where I bought 2 or 3 sets of needles, some yarn, and a "Learn to Knit" pamphlet. Nobody told me lace was supposed to be hard. So for practice, I knitted a pair of slippers for dh & then cast fearlessly on and produced this blanket.

    Twenty-four years later, it has a couple picks in it but still looks pretty good!

    We finally got the girls' room that had the mold in it, fixed. I have some accent painting to do & a curtain to make, but Veronica is moved into the room & Betsy is slowly assimilating herself into that room too, as goes the plan. Well in *this* pic anyway, she looks quite content...

    And one more, she wanted me to take her pic the other night during an late-night computer & putting B to sleep session!

    Ok so for the past week or so, our driveway has been wet. That's no surprise if it's raining, but it hasn't been. Ground next to the driveway has been very wet & soggy. Today Richie called the Utility board to report it. Suddenly about 6:30 tonight he says, "What's that noise?" and heads out the front door.

    Seems they found a 4", freekin-old galvanized water main had a hole in it. Instead of replacing it with pipe, they ended up putting a rubber boot & clamps around it. After making an incredible mess of our driveway.

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    Special Request Pot Pie Recipe

    Ok, I actually make food for an army, so I'm gonna try to simplify this down to what a couple or your average family of 4 might eat, instead of the mamma-jamma version I make to feed what is anywhere from 7 to 12 ppl at my house for dinner on a regular basis.

    A few notes: I had leftover roast pork and a few roast-in-jacket potatoes. You could use a handful of any chopped meat you have on hand. You could microwave-bake a decent size potato, let it cool and chop it up. I usually make my own gravy, because I am good like that. But a can of gravy from the store will do too.

    Unlike baking, which is a formula based on acids and bases and leavening and should be followed fairly closely, good cooking is mostly being flexible. Because the recipe is flexible, calorie count is approximate. We figured around 298 calories per serving (1 1/4 cups)

    Pot Pie
    about 8 oz. pre-cooked and chunked up meat of some kind
    2 small cans or one jar of gravy, any flavor
    1 nuked good-sized potato, chopped into 1/2" cubes
    1 10-oz. box of frozen mixed vegetables

    Chuck all of this into a square or round 9" cake pan or pie pan. Salt & pepper surface to taste. Dampen edge of pan with water so crust will stick.

    Don't panic over crust. It's easy and you won't ever want to buy one of those tasteless cardboard store-bought frozen crusts again. Or maybe you will, in a pinch, but don't we all do that?
    (No, I don't. LOL)

    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1/3 cup cold shortening or lard or even butter, but NOT low-cal margarine-type spread, which will make your crust soggy & gross
    1 teaspoon salt

    then 1/4 Cup ice cold water

    Using a pastry blender, which is an essential kitchen tool with u-shaped wires attached at either end to a wooden handle (or two table knives held together if you lack a pastry blender), cut cold shortening into the flour using a press-down-and-flick-wrist-sideways motion (with blender, or up-and-down motion with knives), repeatedly until the mixture looks like coarse-ground meal or like small aquarium gravel.

    Pour ice water into the center and mix it in with a fork until *just* blended. Don't over mix! Very lightly dust countertop and rolling pin with flour, lay crust on counter, dust it lightly with flour too, and roll out, rolling from center outward in every direction. Fold lightly into quarters and place on top of pot pie. Unfold and seal down edges, folding extra in and pinching with fingers. Cut steam vents in top with a knife.

    If you don't have a rolling pin, you can use a large vegetable can, a relatively straight-sided soda bottle, or even a roll of frozen breakfast sausage!

    Bake the pot pie at 400 degrees F for about 25 minutes. Serve with green salad or sliced tomatoes!