Monday, September 1, 2014

Late Summer's Words and an Apple Tarte Tatin



I met Eleanor Keiper, author of "Journeys Into Poetry", last week at the Northwoods Book and Art Festival in Hackensack.  Her book of poems captivated me and I could not resist purchasing a copy.  She writes, "I consider myself a 'Fireside Writer' just now taking the time to indulge myself with the music of the written word." 
She goes on to say, "I see poetry everywhere I look. If I can inspire children to imagine pictures from my written words my epitaph will be... She has succeeded the torch has been passed. "
Well I am inspired by Eleanor's words.  I learned from reading her book she has been on an epic journey of Parkinson's Disease for over 21 years. Her 'can do" attitude has not derailed her in the least. As Eleanor learned to live life in the slower lane it has opened up new avenues pursuing children's writing and poetry. 
One of her chapters is titled "Reflections of Minnesota".  Even though the calendar has turned a page I thought this a fitting poem for the day. 
August in Minnesota
by Eleanor Keiper

August at Summer's back door,
Bittersweet, warm, gusty winds galore.

The dog days of Summer,
As August is called-
Like the cadence of the drummer,
Says Summer is stalled.

The Labor Day picnics,
The fishfries and such,
Mark the end of "real" Summer,
Pretty much.

The harvest is ripened,
The fields feel the reaper.
Summer's anxious to leave us,
There's no way to keep her.

Now the Labor Day dances
On still August nights,
Hold a hint of a chill
Under crisp, starry lights.
To learn more about Eleanor's poetry, prose, reflections and poetry books follow this link 
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Tarte Tatin, is the famous French upside-down apple tart, baked with a pastry crust placed on top of a luscious caramelized-apple filling, then inverted after baking. It is especially delicious served with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream.
Tarte Tatin can also be made with pears, peaches, pineapple, tomatoes, other fruit, or vegetables, such as onion. In terms of dough the Tarte Tatin can be made with either puff pastry or shortcrust pastry.
A cast-iron skillet works best when making this tart because it helps the fruit to caramelize, but any heavy-duty nonstick pan with an ovenproof handle will do.
Apple Tarte Tatin
Cook's notes: This recipe comes from Pepperidge Farms. I used puff pastry for the crust. It was easy to put together and only had 6 ingredients!
Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 heaping tablespoon flour
  • 4 Granny Smith apples peeled and cut into wedges 
  • 1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet), thawed
Directions:
  • Heat the oven to 400°F. Stir the brown sugar, cinnamon, butter and flour in a large bowl. Add the apples and toss to coat. 
  • Roll out pastry sheet on a floured piece of wax paper. Use a bowl to measure a circle the size of the skillet.   

  • Arrange the apples, cut-side up, around the inside edge of a 10-inch oven-safe nonstick skillet, filling in towards the center. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until the brown sugar mixture is thickened. Remove the skillet from the heat.
  • Place the pastry over the apples, tucking in the edge around the inside of the skillet.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Let the Tarte Tatin cool in the skillet on a wire rack for 5 minutes. 

  • Carefully invert the Tarte Tatin onto a serving plate.

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Garden Fiesta-MInestrone Soup

Minestrone originally was a very humble dish and intended for everyday consumption, being filling and cheap, and would likely have been the main course of a meal.
Minestrone means ...."Big Soup" to Italians and means a soup with lots of goodies in it, especially pasta, beans and vegetables. The word however originated from Minestra, which means to dish up or serve. The Italians often eat a light soup as a first course, or a bigger soup as a light evening meal. The other interesting thing is that Italians often eat a hot soup on a hot day, as they find that it actually makes them feel cooler. 

Minestrone Soup
Cook's Notes: Reap the benefits of the summer harvest with a garden fiesta. Good minestrone soup captures the flavors of summer vegetables in a bowl. Advance planning adds to the ease of putting this soup together by cooking the Italian sausage and dicing carrots, celery, onion and mincing the garlic the day before. Place sausage, minced garlic and veggies in a covered container and refrigerate. 
Summer squash appears in many different shapes and colors. Three favorites include scallop or patty pan, and zucchini (green) and yellow zucchini.
This soup can be a vegetarian meal by omitting the sausage and substituting vegetable broth for chicken broth. 
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup each carrots and celery, diced  
  • 1 small yellow sweet onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 TB. Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Tuscan Herb Olive Oil
  • 32. oz, box low-sodium chicken broth or low-sodium vegetable broth 
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage (a package of coleslaw mix works)
  • 2 cups cooked, crumbled Italian Sweet Sausage
  • 2 cups tomato juice or V-8 Juice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 can chunky tomatoes (basil, oregano. garlic)
  • 1 cup each zucchini or patty pan squash, cherry tomatoes (patted dry on paper towel)
  • 2 cups green beans, diced in half
  • 1 can light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. each thyme, basil, parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. ground sage
  • 1-1/2 cups dried pasta (pasta shells or penne)
Directions:
  • In a large soup pot or Dutch oven add olive oil. Saute celery onion, garlic and carrots until onions are tender-about 5 minutes.
  • Wipe any excess olive oil from pot.  Add to pot with the onion mixture; broth, chunky tomatoes, cabbage, tomato juice, water and spices.
  • Bring to boil from a low-medium heat, cover and simmer on low 15 minutes.
  • Stir in zucchini, green beans, kidney beans, cherry tomatoes and cooked sausage.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer for an hour covered.
  • Last 30 minutes of cooking time add dried pasta. 
  • Remove bay leaves before serving.
After 5 hours of driving and making multiple stops at different locations for The Arts of 84 Art Crawl it was quite a treat to return home for a bowl of minestrone soup. 

Labor Day weekend was the 7th Annual The Arts of 84 Art Crawl. It is a 31-mile art touring event held in various locations along State Highway 84, between Pine River and Longville. MN. 
Art’s Off 84 mission is to promote works of local artists and provide an art presence to the Pine River, Longville and surrounding areas. This juried event features high end art forms as well as quality handcrafted items.
Many of the locations were what I would call rural so you never know what you'll see. Take for instance these chickens running around at one location. In the back of photo there was a huge chicken coop. 
or these clever signs (like the old Burma Shave signs) which were meant to rhyme with each artist's venue at the location. Signs were placed along over a mile long walk to reach one location. Parking was at a premium.



This sign alerted the walkers a bathroom was nearby. Personally I thought the signs were meant to be a distraction to be read so walkers wouldn't mind the distance to reach the location. 


There was something for everyone to enjoy the creativity and imaginative art by local artists.













And last but certainly not least, lovely floral gardens.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The World According to Bella

Good News... Prayers Answered
Remember last winter when Mrs. S and I went to the Farmer's Market in Fernandina Beach? Here is what I wrote
Taylor's Treats. Now here was a booth that caught my attention. I wasn't greedy like the dog ahead of us. We watched him get up on its hind legs, pounce on the table trying to get treats out of the jar. The owner was struggling trying to get control of his leashed dog. I was patient waiting for my turn. I wanted Mrs. S in the worst way to buy this very same dish set up (pictured below). You could customize it with color and shapes choice. But I heard Mrs. S mumble something about $60.00 being an excessive price. So I figured I was probably not getting a new water/food dish. But Taylor was giving out free samples.

Well I think Mrs. S must have had a weak moment. Check out what she came home with yesterday for me. What a setup! A doggie's dream.  I hardly have to bend over at all for my food and water.
Good News...Prayers Answered 
I Got Mail
I couldn't believe  it when Mr. C and I got to the mailbox. Somebody read my blog last week and answered my plea for mail. This package was even better than the magazine with my picture in it from Dr. Ekholm. 
What's not to like about Chewnola Snacks. Lucky me! But now here is some...
Bad News: My annual check-up up from Dr. Ekholm showed me up 10 pounds since Florida. Guess maybe I've done too much porch sitting and sitting in my hole this summer. Running the beach must have kept me in good shape. So Mrs. S declared I need more exercise and lose weight. I thought I heard her say at least 8 pounds. I can see that Chewnola bag of treats will be limited but at least I did get one today.  
Love, Bella
We know from written history that doilies were made to protect furniture or china but here's another use for crocheted doilies.

Antimacassars were a type of covering or protection for the back of stuffed furniture as well as the arms in the 1800s. They were made specifically to keep the furniture clean. One of the main problems with keeping furniture clean in the 1800s was men’s use of Macassar which was used to groom and style hair. This solution was basically made of oils. It made sense that furniture had to be protected.
Later, these Antimacassars were known as chair sets (United States) and were promoted to not only help keep your furniture clean but as an appealing way to make your home welcoming and that using crocheted doilies was a way to encourage people to linger. Of course these doilies were also used to cover worn spots on the arms of the chair.

_________________________________________________________________
Roasted Honey-Sage Sweet Potatoes with Pears and Red Onions
Cook's notes: A colorful mixture of sweet potatoes, red onions and pears blended with sage and sweet honey in this easy-roasted side. It has hints of fall flavors and can be assembled in 15 minutes. The taste is amazing.  Suggested entree Pork Roast or Roasted Pork Tenderloin. 
Serves 4 recipe adapted from Midwest Living 
Ingredients:
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 2 medium pears, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 3-4 teaspoons Extra light Olive Oil or Blood Orange Olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 2 TB. honey
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh sage
Directions:
  • Line a 15 x 10x 1-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Toss together sweet potatoes, pears, and red onions. Spread in an even layer. 
  • Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. 
  • Roast in a preheated oven 425 degrees 15 minutes. Stir in walnuts. Roast 5 to 10 more minutes. To serve, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with fresh sage.


Friday, August 29, 2014

And let the crafters begin...

Each summer a group of teacher friends come to the lake for relaxation, good eats, fine conversations and making crafts. We rotate taking turns coming up with a craft and making sure everyone has the right supplies. Thrift stores are one of our most valuable resources. Some of our previous creative endeavors from years past include:
 left to right front of picture
cake stand (plate glued on a wine glass for a base) wine glass (decorative wire and beads glued on) spoon (decorative wire and beads glued on) writing original poems (typing on decorative paper and framing the work) and last year's napkin note cards.   
To the right of the cake stand are 3 new additions.
Paper Gift Boxes
These little gift boxes were highly addictive. Once we figured out the process we couldn't stop making them. We had so many paper choices which made it fun to choose top and bottom with different papers. Only materials needed for this project are scissors, pencil and scrapbooking paper. 
There are many links and tutorials on line to help you create decorative paper boxes. Just type in GOOGLE decorative paper gift. Try this one
I had to cut myself off at 8!!
Starched Crocheted Doily Baskets
This is what I call "The Granny Craft" And we all went a bit crazy on this one. In preparation many of us scrounged thrift shops or looked in attics and closets for old fashioned crocheted doilies. Any size works.  This Pinterest project was adapted. Originally it called for using a spray starch stiffener from a craft store like  Micheals. But when we used it the finished product was too soft and not firm enough to hold its shape. Plain liquid starch in a bowl worked great.
Step one: Cover working surface outside with wax paper. You will need a variety of bowl sizes depending on size of doily. Cover the bowl with cling or saran wrap. This helps in the removal of the doily once it is dried. 
Step Two: Place doily in liquid starch and really soak it.
Step Three:Place doily over inverted bowl and press firmly to bowl and smooth out doily edges toward edges of the bowl.  
Step Four: Let bowls dry outside in sun for at least 5 hours. 
So we were doing just fine on step 4 when the sun disappeared, clouds moved in followed by drizzle. Some quick thinking on the part of our craft directors and step 4 was reinvented. Remember liquid starch is water soluble and we'd be back to square one if we left them outside. 
Everything was moved into the garage for an overnight stay with fans turned on to help the drying process. 
The results are amazing and the delicacy of the doilies make this an eye-catching project. 
 Michaels sells colored doilies and a thin ribbon can be added as a decorative touch. 
My creations.

Wine Glass Shades
These shades were made from vellum paper. A tea light is placed inside the wine glass.
One creative participant suggested skipping the vellum shade and placing a doily basket on top as the shade and using this as a nightlight.
Check out this link for more ideas and template for wine glass shades. 
Well congratulations for making it all the way to the end of this long blog.  If only you were here I'd offer you a piece of Cafe Latte Turtle Cake. But the next best thing is a link to a previously published  Cafe Latte Turtle Cake recipe. Perhaps you may want to try it.
   

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Caprese Lasagna Roll-ups

"Before you quit, try. Before you talk, listen. Before you react, think. Before you criticize, wait. Before you move on, forgive." 

-- Author Unknown



Caprese Lasagna Roll-Ups

Cook's notes: This dish has all the flavors you would find in the traditional caprese; mozzarella, fresh basil and tomatoes plus the traditional flavors of lasagna. 
recipe adapted from Cooking Classy and makes 8 lasagna roll-ups
Ingredients:

  • 14 oz. freshly shredded, low-moisture part skim Mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup light ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2/3 cup freshly, finely shredded Parmesan cheese, divided  
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 - 4 medium Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced (about 1/6 inch thick slices)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 8 lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup marinara sauce, recipe follows
  • Simple Marinara Sauce
    2TB. extra virgin olive oil
    2 cloves garlic finely minced
    1 (28 oz) can chunky tomatoes, garlic,bail and oregano
    1/3 cup fine
    ly chopped yellow onion
Directions:
Marinara Sauce:
1. Saute onions and minced garlic in olive oil.
2. Add in tomatoes and mix well. 
3. Bring to a boil and simmer 25 minutes; set aside.
  •  Lasagna Roll-Ups
  • 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to directions listed on package to al dente. Drain pasta (DO NOT rinse with water) and align lasagna noodles in a single layer on a large sheet of parchment or wax paper.
  • 2. For filling, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together ricotta cheese and egg white until well blended. Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Mix in 12 oz. of the Mozzarella cheese and season with black pepper to taste (I wouldn't recommend seasoning with salt just because the cheeses already have plenty of salt).
  • 3. Place 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture over each lasagna noodle and spread into an even layer, going from one end of the lasagna to the other. Align 4 thin tomato slices over cheese mixture then sprinkle fresh basil over top. 
4. Snugly roll lasagna noodles to opposite end. Spread about 1/4 cup pasta sauce in the bottom of lightly greased an 11 x 7 inch baking dish. Align lasagna roll ups, seam side down in dish. 
5. Top each roll up with about 2 Tbsp of the pasta sauce (covering edges of pasta so they don't dry out while baking). Sprinkle top with remaining 2 oz. shredded Mozzarella and 1/3  cup Parmesan cheese. 
6. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes. Remove from oven, plate pasta and garnish with plenty of basil ribbons. Serve warm.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Reinventing Ants on A Log

Food Network was creative and inspiring with a new take on the classic Ants on a Log,  a favorite after school snack. Note that peanut butter and raisins aren't the only ingredients to get kids to eat celery. Even adults will go for these snacks. perhaps you will be motivated to try a new combination yourself. 
Ants On A Ranch
cream cheese mixed with ranch dressing and peas
Berries On A Branch
peanut butter and blueberries
Ladybugs On A Log
strawberry cream cheese and dried cranberries or cherries
Beans On A Stalk
guacamole and black beans
Fish In A Stream
hummus and Goldfish pretzels
Pigs In A Pen
pimiento cheese and bacon bits
lyrics supplied in case you feel like singing a bit today!

The Ants Go Marching One By One
The ants go marching one by one.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching one by one.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching one by one;
The little one stops to suck his thumb,
And they all go marching down into the ground
To get out of the rain.
Boom, boom, boom, boom!

The ants go marching two by two.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching two by two.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching two by two;
The little one stops to tie his shoe,
And they all go marching down into the ground
To get out of the rain.
Boom, boom, boom, boom!

The ants go marching three by three.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching three by three.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching three by three;
The little one stops to climb a tree,
And they all go marching down into the ground
To get out of the rain.
Boom, boom, boom, boom!

The ants go marching four by four.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching four by four.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching four by four;
The little one stops to shut the door,
And they all go marching down into the ground
To get out of the rain.
Boom, boom, boom, boom!

The ants go marching five by five.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching five by five.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching five by five;
The little one stops to take a dive,
And they all go marching down into the ground
To get out of the rain.
Boom, boom, boom, boom!

The ants go marching six by six.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching six by six.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching six by six;
The little one stops to pick up sticks,
And they all go marching down into the ground
To get out of the rain.
Boom, boom, boom, boom!

The ants go marching seven by seven.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching seven by seven.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching seven by seven;
The little one stops to pray to heaven,
And they all go marching down into the ground
To get out of the rain.
Boom, boom, boom, boom!

The ants go marching eight by eight.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching eight by eight.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching eight by eight;
The little one stops to rollerskate,
And they all go marching down into the ground
To get out of the rain.
Boom, boom, boom, boom!

The ants go marching nine by nine.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching nine by nine.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching nine by nine;
The little one stops to check the time,
And they all go marching down into the ground
To get out of the rain.
Boom, boom, boom, boom!

The ants go marching ten by ten.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching ten by ten.
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The ants go marching ten by ten;
The little one stops to shout
"THE END!!"