Saturday, March 31, 2007

use up your rhubarb

This is the time of year when we look into our freezer and see what fruit we need to start to use up. It seems like I tend to hoard the really yummy things and then realize that the new fruit is nearly ready. Today I made a bunch of little bit size cheesecakes for my friends open house.
It's always a good idea to have your eggs and cream cheese at room temperature when making cheesecakes.

The recipe for the cheesecake is very simple.
Just beat 2 8oz. packages of cream cheese really well, add 2/3 cups of sugar and blend. Add 4 eggs 1 at a time and beat until just combined. Add 1 tsp. of vanilla.

Into little bite size muffin cup liners put a 1/2 tsp. of crumbs and stamp it down with a little top of a medicine bottle lined with saran wrap.

Word to the wise from the now cranky baker. Test your graham crumbs before making crumb crusts. If they are the least bit stale, it will ruin your cheesecakes. I am quite picky about this and I used a sealed fresh box but didn't test the crumbs. Sseven dozen little lined cups later . .I test one and realize they are a bit stale. I proceeded with my beloved husbands help . . to take out every little cheesecake from its liner, shave the bottom graham crust off and put the cheesecake minus the crust into a new liner. I now have 7 dozen crust less cheesecakes ready for the party.
I wasn't going to tell you this but I thought it best I come clean and fess up. My kitchen is not with out its disasters.

Don't those little crusts just look perfect. They sure did look nice, but back to the cheesecake. I found that putting the cream cheese into the liners worked perfect with a small ice cream scoop. There were no drips and the sizes all looked perfectly the same.
I baked the cheesecakes at 325 for 12 minutes, or just until the top is puffed and has a slight crack.

I did go check my rhubarb in between and I was proud of myself for using up what I had in my freezer.

The topping is very simple. In a measuring cup put 2 cups of rhubarb. For every 2 cups of rhubarb put 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1/2 cup of sugar. Mix this altogether and cook it in the microwave until it is bubbly. Stir every 2 minutes. I add 1 tablespoon of strawberry jello to the cooked filling. It adds flavour and a nice colour.
Let this cool and put a little dab on top of each cheesecake. This topping can be used on top of pound cake or ice cream.
OK, this cranky baker is off to tidy the kitchen and clean some bathrooms. I'll feel much better in a few hours when my house is clean.
Strange way of improving my mood I know but it works.
I hope you all have a wonderful day my friends.
If you have a moment to read this today Hilda, I'm sorry that the little cheesecakes won't be perfect, but they will be there. (smile)

Friday, March 30, 2007

spring on the farm

Don't you just love it when you are outside and reach in your pocket for a Kleenex and find some chocolate that you put in there for a rainy day? I do that regularly. I have a little chocolate in all my purses and jacket pockets because I never know when my beloved will invite me to have a coffee. People I have lunch with are often treated to a little chocolate with coffee after lunch. You know . . .. its always good to be prepared .

What you putting in your trailer Mister? Ah yes, life on the farm. Lest you think that my beloved has plenty of time on his hands to play, I want to assure you there is plenty of jobs that literally stink.

So, this is as close as I wanted to get. I'm all about documenting life on the farm, and I fancy myself being a journalist of sorts but this picture was taken with the zoom.
Well, I'm off to have a walk, the swimsuit is hanging on my doorknob and the days left to prepare for wearing it are short, I best not sit in this chair too long. Have a wonderful day my friends.
PS . . . .from the farmer . . . ."lest you think that I drive that tractor all day long, there is plenty of shoveling by hand, those corners and nooks and crannies don't clean themselves between the driving and spreading. Why didn't you take a picture of that?". (wow, that was almost like an interview)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

my care group girls and sausage rolls

This morning I woke up and heard them say on air that the sun was just rising. I rushed outside and was probably a minute too late to capture the nicest shot but the sun was rising in all its glory and I thanked the Lord for the beauty of this day.

A few days ago the girls from our church care group met together at my friend Hilda's house to begin to prepare the food for their open house. We made 200 little sausage rolls. I thought I would give you the recipe since the dough is very easy to work with and they taste so much better than the little frozen ones that you bake. These freeze really well, you can make them much larger and have them handy to pop in the lunches for your men.

First of all Soften 1 tbsp. of yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add 1/2 tsp. of sugar to the yeast and water. This helps the yeast to have something to feed on. Let this sit while you measure out your flour and butter.
In a bowl . . .measure 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1 cup of butter and a pinch of salt. (this can be done in a food processor) Cut the butter into the flour and pinch of salt with a pastry blender. Add 2 slightly beaten eggs. Mix this altogether and let it chill for 30 minutes.

Put the dough onto a floured surface and knead it a few times to make it workable. A little flour can be used to keep it from sticking.

Roll it into a long piece. I made more than one recipe at a time so you won't have this much. dough.

In the meantime, prepare your sausage. We used well smoked farmer sausage that is very lean. We peeled it and then sliced into quarters lengthwise. They appear to be having a very fun time.

Lay the sausage of your choice (smoked is the best) along the length of the dough and roll it up just until it covers it once and enough to press the dough together. Cut the dough down the long strip and then slice into desired sausage roll length with either some thread or a sharp serrated knife.

Place another length of sausage on the dough and repeat until all the dough is used up.

Bake them at 350 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes. If you have a convection oven the time will vary a bit. They can sit for about 30 minutes before baking and will puff up nicely in the oven. It seems that I forgot to take a picture of the finished sausage roll.

In between this process have a cup of tea and chit chat it up with your friends. This is as therapeutic and good for the soul as any day at the spa. These are my friends Becky on the left, Hilda in the center and Linda on the right. Linda is also the mom of my daughter-by-love Karlee. (it is amazing what can be accomplished in a care group . . . is it not?)
Have a wonderful day my friends, I'm off for my 30 minute walk.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

our bea

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Beatrice. She was born in a land far away and moved here when she was still a little girl. She was born with a disposition that others strive to emulate. The very first time that Terrence brought her home to meet us she won our hearts. She has a gentle manner, very much a lady and loves life and all it has to offer her.
She grew up to be a beautiful young woman who married our son Terrence. At this point you may be scrolling down to see the wedding picture and the funny thing is I had one in here and thought to myself, no, they will need to wait until the anniversary posting early this summer. If you think I'm being a bit strict, I agree, you have no idea how much I want to show you what a beautiful bride she was.

If it seems that this is Bea week , I suppose in a sense it is. She is a teacher and this is her official first spring break. It has provided me with opportunities to spend a bit of time with her while Terrence is at work.

Since you are not yet allowed to see the picture of the bride I thought I would treat you to their engagement picture. They were married early that June.

Last May the day she handed in her very last paper in university we as a family boarded a plane to Maui. It was there that we saw Bea relax for the first time since we first met her. As I said earlier she loves life. Our room on the second floor was directly above their room. Early one morning we were relaxing on our lanai having some coffee when Bea poked her smiley face over our balcony. "Hello" she said with a glint of mischief in her eye, . . .what happened after that was a bit of a blur for all of us and she spent the rest of the vacation sporting the cast that she is unsuccessfully trying to hide in the picture above. This was just one of the many times we have had opportunity to see what she is really made of. She is a non-complainer. Period. She stood at the waters edge while the rest of played in the waves, and claimed that she was just fine and never once moped about.

Those of you that know our family personally will attest to the fact that I brag regularly about my "daughters". Somehow even though it seems a bit rude to unabashedly brag about our children the ones that have come to us by marriage is a bit different. I like to think of it as congratulating the parents who raised them on a job well done. We are constantly amazed at God's goodness and faithfulness in His leading and direction in our sons' lives.

OK, I won't pretend this is her birthday cake. This cake is actually one of the test cakes for their wedding. It is a coconut tres leche cake, very yummy and at some point I'll give you the recipe for how we made 30 cakes for the centerpieces for their wedding.

Bea is all about projects. What other girl would bring her sewing machine along to her party so that she can continue to sew a few stitches between meal courses? Bea is presently working on her "couch" as she calls it. We keep saying a couch? She says, oh I mean a chair and she smiles. She found a perfect little upholstered chair at the local thrift shop and is now in the process of recovering it.

As is typical with all parties, there needs to be some fun. Tobee and Camryn provided that for us. This was Camryn's first experience with Stu and Karlee's little pup. She didn't even have her jacket off yet and she said "halten" (German . .for hold) Tobee is looking at Karlee to see if he is safe.
So Bea, . . Dad and I want to wish you a wonderful Birthday. We are blessed to have you as part of our family. It is our prayer that God will continue to make His face to shine upon you and to be gracious to you and give you His peace.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

rag quilt making . . .with Bea

A while back I explained how to make a rag quilt and I wanted to show you one more tutorial on it just because it is such an easy beginner quilt. First of all you cut 5 inch squares. You need the same square front and back. In between these squares, put an identical sized flannelet square. Sew an X from corner to corner, on all the squares. This is to give it stability. Then you decide what pattern you want to make. They can be random or a repeated pattern. First sew rows of squares, pinning them carefully so they stay straight. Once you have all the rows sewn, sew all these rows together, pinning all the corners so that you have a perfect quilt on the back side. It can be displayed either rag side or back side.

After all the squares are sewn together, decide on a border. Bea put a 3 inch border around. Cut lengths of fabric 3 inches wide. You will make 1/2" seams around all the squares and rows and the border as well. All the raw seams stay to the top. This will be ragged later.

After a narrow border is attached, a wider border is also added. She cut 6 inch wide pieces of fabric, doubled that for front and back and added flannelet to this as well to give it a bit more thickness.

This was also sewn seams up on the front side so that they would be ragged as well.
Here you can see how nice the back side is turning out. Both sides turn out just beautiful.

You can miter your corners or do 90 degree corners as Bea did. Make sure you allow for the extra length onto each additional border from the length of the last length before it.

When it is all sewn together, you will need some rag scissors. Start to snip down every raw seam and into all the corners. This process takes at least 4 hours. You will snip every 1/4 inch to give a proper ragging afterwards.
Try not to snip into the seam, but if you do just resew a little deeper into the seam. This quilt is very forgiving.

This is the finished rag quilt. After you have snipped it all, throw it into the washing machine and give it a rinse. Put it into the dryer and dry it. You may want to remove the excess lint from your dryer in between. Some people like to go to the laundromat to keep the lint out of their own dryer.

This is the one I made and you can see additonal pictures on the beginning of my blog under sewing.

Monday, March 26, 2007

sing along . . . "Heavenly sunshine"

Yesterday the clouds parted and we were treated to a day of sunshine. After 20 some odd days of rain, this was no small matter.
Our magnolia's are starting to really bloom. We have several varieties and this is the earliest.

Even the raspberry patch was feeling like stretching forth its leaves just a bit.

My pond plant the Floating Heart Flower is just starting to bloom.

Later in the afternoon we were invited to Terrence and Bea's for dinner with her parents. Apparently Terrence has been working on a project and we were to come have a look at it. Was it this . . .a new bulletin board? No, although I loved this as well. This was Bea's project. Her dad made the frame and she covered a piece of thin plywood with batting , some beautiful fabric and some ribbons. I just thought she did an amazing job. I just captured the top of it so you could see the detailing. Oh look, you are treated to some pictures of her sweet little niece Camryn as well as Bea's little cousins and also their friends, Ben and Kari.

Bea set about making us a wonderful dinner of pizza.

She also made a spinach and artichoke dip and a tray of veggies and dip. We were treated to some Strawberry crumble for dessert.

She made me a pot of green tea. My throat had been bit sore in the afternoon and there are a lot of flu bugs floating around. (pun intended on the floating). Not in the tea . . . .in the air.

This was Terrence's project. Sons and their dad's. The apple never really does fall far from the tree does it? Both of our sons have varying degrees of similar traits from their dad. As we were raising our children we often wondered what they would be like as adults.
Now we know, the beans are all spilled and we see the fruits of our labor. We are infinitely blessed Terry and I. Is it because we have clever children that can build wonderful workbenches or have worked hard in their careers to established homes for themselves and their girls? Well perhaps that is a part of it. I think that when we see that they are making a life for themselves, independent from us and yet including us, we realize our job of parenting is complete. We will always have the heart of parents and yet we no longer are required to parent. We pray for them, and love them, that is what we do. They are building homes with a foundation of the Lord as the center, and we find so much joy in that.
I suppose I am thinking of the blessing of parenting today because we have friends who are just embarking on this adventure.
This morning we are waiting for some dear friends to welcome their little one into the world. It's been nearly 30 hours since they last slept and the labour began. Please pray for our friends Todd and Nancy as together they labour and await the child that will know so much love.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

naming the '50 merc

As promised earlier in the week, the names that you all selected have been scrutinized and everyone in the family has had the opportunity to have their opinion heard.
As with all new babies, you need to really look at them and make sure the name fits. Remember how I told you that this would likely be the last time you would see it kind of together before it's dismantled? Well this week the dismantling began. Terrence came over several times and helped removed fenders, the box and the hood etc.

After copious amounts of Paska were consumed the boys went to the shop. I followed them out there in the pouring rain to take some pictures. When I looked at the pictures later in the house I of course wasn't happy with all my results but I wasn't about to brave the monsoons again to do retakes. So . . you'll have to use your a imagination a little.

As you can see Terry has been busy spot welding some little holes. This week I plan to take a few more action shots. I was a less than a supportive wife this week. Occasionally I would think of running to the shop, and I would look outside and the monsoons would discourage me from venturing out.

So far, they have poured over parts books and the Internet looking for the best place to order parts. See, this is something us girls can identify with. We love making decisions regarding redecorating right? So, . . . I totally get it. This is apparently a really good time for them. Have at it boys.

It appears to require a great deal of concentration . . .. It's incredible how different men and women really are. Honestly, I couldn't have budged the girls from the couches on Friday night with . . ."do you want to go out in the pouring rain to the shop to see the old truck . . . .taken apart"? We love our men to have ambition and hobbies and motivation to accomplish wonderful things but we just don't see what there is to look at so long.
Then they moved over to where the parts were and just stood there and looked at them. I was happy to take the pictures and run back to the house to visit with the girls.

So . . Terry has named the truck Miss Ella. Thank you Kathy for this wonderful suggestion. Terry liked the shortened version of my name. I thought that was very sweet. I was very touched. I asked him if I could give it a second name and he said sure . .why not? So the name of the truck is Miss Ella Esmeralda. Esmeralda was Jill's suggestion. I pretend to like things simple and for the most part I do . . but you know? I have this side of me that is a bit fancy. I guess when your parents bless you with three given names at birth you can't help but have a little flair for fun things.
There were quite a few nights this week when I would venture out to the shop and yes, you girls were right, I have seen his back a lot. I really don't mind though, he's in his element, and this is his sport, he's waited a long time to have this fun. Oh, and incidentally I found one more casual chair for the shop, so now I can invite 2 friends over to watch. One chair for Kathy, and one for Jill. How fun.
So Miss Ella Esmeralda it is. I've been trying to think of an appropriate prize for these girls all week long. Aside from the fact that I think it would be wonderful if they could be here to have a ride in her when she is all done, I'll have to give it a bit more thought, I'll let you know.
Thank you to all of you for all the name help. It sure has added a bit more fun to the week.
Well, the sky is becoming light and I can see some blue. Today, we will venture outside for some fresh air. This week we have seen a lot of rain and I'm feeling a little cooped up.
Whatever you do today, I hope you have a wonderful day my friends.