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Friday, 25 March 2016

EASTER 1974 . . . and Maple-Cornmeal Biscuits

(Undated: 8 cent stamp:   To 316 Stradbrooke Avenue, Winnipeg:  best guess:  March or April 1974)
Dear Eleanor:

        I am writing about that I did not talk much to Bryan and Diana 

I am sorry but I am not very good at talking to all people I run out of what to say that Bryan I am sorry I will make up for it in person I hope he will understand I think he’s a nice guy and besides Dad was at me that I will run you brock talking so long and he said I will not have anything left to say when you come.  There is a lot I would have liked to ask you about the cake  

if its not all right to put only soft icing like you had last time being it will be used up I don’t think it needs almond icing as its nice with only what they put over almond icing but its up to you it will cost less with only one icing I will have to take in first week in May and have it done and it will be over.  I will try and use the table after Easter as they may be coming less with the kids 
Alines mother is in France having a good time she send the children Easter goodies

We killed a pig this week when you phoned I was in the middle of floor scrubing and waxing the living room everything looks clean I had a rest after I finnish the floors now befor supper had notting to do so thought I will write to you as I haven’t written for a long time
I washed the kitchen curtain and they look good. 

I stoped knitting may try and make few blocks for a quilt I will do in the same pattern like the one that’s on Bryan’s bed you mentioned you want strips but it all block of strips I hope it will look good I was wondering if those velvet pant to use as a centere block I will make up one block and see how it looks I likely will not have it done till next winter and that after Christmas with so many wedding I don’t think I can do much more than garden and poultry and besides I don’t mind making blocks in summer when I hve time but making the quilt it takes over a week and I do it in Nestor’s room so don’t want it sitting there when some one comes

I phoned Diana tonight but she was out with Bill I am glad she’s having fun Dorthey said she may bring Diana some day I will have to keep the house in order now not that I don’t but there is days that the kids and men track up my floor

 But I may wax my kitchen floor tomorrow it needs two coats and its hard the men allways trot in and out mostly when I am working with floor.  But Dad is going to town tomorrow if Diana & Dorthey do go home you write or tell what you would like them to bring from home.

I will close for now Oh I looked at that Deep fryer it has a timer to set and chart on it it can even roast a very small chicken I am sending all my love to you dear & Bryan.  May God bless you both in everything

                                            Love Mother

Nick said why I didn’t wish happy Easter from him to Bryan.



            From:  BISCUITS and SCONES by Elizabeth Alston, 1988.

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
5 tbsp butter
¼ cup maple syrup

·        Preheat oven to 425.
·        Grease a baking sheet.
·        Put cornmeal, baking powder, and salt into food processor.
·        Whirl to mix well.
·        Add butter and spin until butter is mixed in well.
·        Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl.
·        Pour ¼ cup syrup into a measuring cup.  Add enough milk to make 2/3 cup of liquid.
·        Stir into flour.
·        Drop large spoonfuls onto baking sheet.
·        Bake 14 minutes.

I'm not even a huge fan or cornbread, but these are DELICIOUS served warm and just with butter.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

The Longer Road Home . . . and Beet Greens

       I dream sometimes of finding treasure in some little place in London or India -- like a delicate piece of china or some ancient book.
        Several years ago, Nicole took me to Half-Price Books in San Antonio, and then I took Bryan.   He can't resist old bookstores either.

This year,  we gleefully planned a “little stop” on the first leg of our journey home.

Day 1:  Laredo to San Antonio to Fort Stockton


My finds!

Day 2:  Fort Stockton to Phoenix
Day 3:  Phoenix to Palm Desert:  

                     Hwy 70 from Lordsburg to Globe goes through an Apache reservation and is scenic but the speed limit is about 50 mph.

   Hwy 60 from Globe to Superior is spectacular : mountains and mining

                            from the hills above the city:

Day 4:  Palm Desert to . . . well, the I5 to Redding was the original plan, but when I looked again at the map, Hwy 395 practically leaped at me.  “Let’s do it,” responded Bryan, enthusiastically.

Maps and cookbooks:  sure there’s comfort in the tried and true but . . .  oh, the lure of the unknown!

We have this rule about rest breaks having to be right by the road, but then Bryan noticed a sign advertising RED ROCK BOOKS in Ridgecrest, and away we went.

More finds!
Day 5: Shannonville to Red Bluff to Tigard, Oregon

        Scenic treasure:  The narrow but paved road from Shannonville to Red Bluff took us past attractive resort villages, fog banks, and Lassen Volcanic National Park (the volcano blew in 1914).   

In Tigard, Oregon we found food treasure:  Miller’s Homestead Restaurant!   Supper arrived piping hot . . .
I chose the Polish hot dog which came with home made potato chips --
thin, crisp, and absolutely delicious.   Bryan had yummy clam chowder, a juicy beef sandwich, and . . .
lemon pie, too!

We decided we had to have breakfast there as well. . .

and we weren’t disappointed.  The scrambled eggs with ground beef were fantastic; two different syrups came with the pancakes in Joe's Special . . . and the recipe for the wonderful pancakes is actually patented!
Day 6:  Tigard to Surrey.  So much driving . . .

but we had fun and now we're HOME.

BEET GREEN treasure

    For years, I discarded the leaves when I bought beets.  No more!

Beet leaves from a small bunch of beets
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh or pickled jalapeno

*Cut beet leaf stems into one inch lengths and cut the leaves into thin ribbons.
*Heat oil and butter in a large frying pan.
*Add chopped jalapeno and cook for one minute.
*Add beet greens and stir for 30 seconds.
*Cover.  Reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes or until greens are tender.
*Sprinkle with salt and serve.

P.S. you can combine beet leaves with other greens in many recipes.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day . . . and Dublin Steak

Kepler 2015


Bryan at Ballyforan!



Based on Myrtle Allen’s recipe in The Ballymaloe Cookbook

Serves 4
1 and 1/2 lbs lean beef (rump steak) thinly sliced
6 tbsp butter, divided
1 large onion
Fresh parsley sprig (also fresh sage and thyme, if you have them; otherwise, substitute ¼ tsp dried sage and ¼ tsp dried thyme)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp Salt & ¼ tsp pepper
1 cup stock
1/2 cup stout
3 to 4 potatoes (red, medium) 
1/8 cup chopped parsley for garnish

1.    Cut the meat into 4 steaks.
2.    Finely chop the onion.
3.    Peel the potatoes, quarter, and set aside in cold water.
Preheat the oven to 350.
4.     Brown the steaks in 2 tbsp butter.  Remove.
5.    Add 1 tbsp butter and onions and cook 2 minutes.
6.    Put steaks, potatoes, onions, stock, stout, parsley, bay leaf, sage and thyme into a large pot (Dutch oven).  Bring to a boil.  
7.    Cover and put in oven.  Cook until tender (45 minutes to 1 hour).
8.    Make a roux:  Melt 2 tbsp butter and stir in 2 tbsp flour.  To make the roux brown, increase the heat, stirring and watching so it doesn’t burn.
9.   Remove the meat and potatoes.  Discard the herb sprigs and bay leaf.  Thicken the sauce with the roux and add 1 more tbsp. of butter.
10.                To serve, surround the meat with the potatoes, and sprinkle with parsley. 
tBryan loved the gravy!

                               a B&B on the Irish Coast

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

MARATHON, Texas . . . and Chicken Braised with Balsamic Vinegar

If you blink you’ll drive right through and miss this little oasis.

Enjoy the clubhouse sandwich at the outdoor tables of the little café.  Kepler got lucky and a train rocketed past just across the street.

Then visit the GAGE GARDENS just across the tracks and a bit down the road from the Gage Hotel.   (We were a bit fuzzy on directions and ended up walking to the edge of town . . . sad-looking houses but nice people.)  Dogs are allowed in the gardens . . . nice!

The Gage Hotel has a lot to offer:

interesting décor,

a beautiful swimming pool,

and cosy robes,

lots of  space for "Run, run!"

an outdoor fireplace: perfect for a board game,

and incredible food:  especially the Texas quail on the barroom menu!

We're not offering quail but this is still something special that Nicole made for us:

based on a recipe in THE DEAN & DELUCA COOKBOOK  by David Rosengarten, Joel Dean, and Giorgio DeLuca, c1996

1  ounce dried porcini mushrooms
6 chicken thighs, bone-in
5 garlic cloves
¼ cup flour
¼ lb thick-sliced bacon
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup red wine
½ cup chicken stock
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tsp cold water
¾ cup drained, chopped canned tomatoes
fresh parsley for garnish

  • Rinse porcini mushrooms well.  Pour 1 cup boiling water over them in a small bowl and let soak for 10 minutes. Drain well. Reserve liquid.
  • Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Chop 2 garlic cloves finely.  Mix with ¼ tsp salt.
  • Cut a horizontal slit in each thigh, just above the bone.  Divide the garlic-salt mixture among the 6 thighs.
  • Cut the bacon into pieces one inch wide.  In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp.  Remove the bacon.  There should be about 2 tbsp bacon fat in the pan.  Add vegetable oil if necessary.
  • Shake the chicken pieces in flour and put in skillet, skin down.  Cook for 15 minutes, until crisp and golden.  Transfer chicken to a plate.  Sprinkle again with salt.  Discard the fat in the pan.
  • Finely chop 3 cloves garlic.
  • Combine wine, broth, and balsamic vinegar.
  • Heat one tbsp olive oil in skillet. Cook garlic for one minute.
  • Add reserved mushroom liquid, wine, broth, and balsamic vinegar.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the cornstarch mixture.  Stir in tomatoes.  Add the chicken, coating both sides with sauce.
  • Reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered, for 30 minutes.
  • Chop parsley and set on table beside your plate so you will remember to garnish the finished chicken.
  • Ten minutes before serving, stir in the mushrooms and bacon and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Serve with a mild vegetable like carrots and a nice crusty bread.

Beet greens and fresh pasta also work!