Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cottage Cheese

The dish that screams picnic and hot weather the most for me is a simple bowl of cottage cheese topped with chopped green onions, fresh from the garden and seasoned with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. For me, that's summer in a bowl.

Back in the day, according to the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company's website:

"It [cottage cheese] was often made from older milk in which the natural bacteria had already started to work. The milk would be brought in and placed in a warm place (near the fire, behind the wood stove, or in the warming oven). Then after a day or so the natural bacteria would produce enough acid to cause the milk to form a curd. This was then cut, cooked to a dry curd, then washed with cold water. The finish was a cold dry curd with a tangy flavor. At some point someone realized that the taste improved with the addition of some cream to make the much richer tasting creamed cottage cheese."

And, on how to make cottage cheese:

"The primary process in making Cottage Cheese involves good dairy bacteria converting lactose to lactic acid. This lactose (or milk sugar) is an important component in our milk but unless it is converted by good quality dairy bacteria, some off flavors or worse may result. 

Several hours after the bacteria culture activity begins, the milk acidity increases to the extent that the milk coagulates into a solid gel which can be cut into small curds. This resulting curd is then cooked until the moisture is released and a dry curd is formed. Then this curd is chilled to the final cottage cheese as we know it. A final optional cream dressing may also be added to increase the richness and texture and this then becomes the Creamed Cottage Cheese."

Check it out:

Cottage cheese is loaded with protein, Vitamin B-12, calcium and phosphorous and can be included in such recipes as lasagnes, stuffed pasta shells, cottage cheesecakes, salsas, casseroles, biscuits, frittata’s, pancakes…etc

Favorite Brand of Cottage Cheese: Dairyland

Worth a Second Look - 'Country' Olivia

Before Grease, British born Australian Singer Olivia Newton-John sang country music.  And it was pretty good.  Before the movies Xanadu, A Twist of Fate, Score, A Hockey Musical and a whole boat load of pop records including Totally Hot (which I love) and Physical, the songbird from down under had recorded sweet, sometimes twangy, often folksy (she covered a number of John Denver's songs, most notably Take Me Home, Country Roads) tracks on a number of country albums which earned her an Acadamy of Country Music Award, four Grammy's and numerous other accolades.  It ticked off some country music purists (because she was not 'Country American') and ONJ was the subject of great debate on whether she qualified for those country music awards...

Time may make the heart grow fonder and nostalgia may only be a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days but Country Girl ONJ music is as good as it ever was.

Country ONJ is definitely worth a second look...or listen!

Here are my top ten Olivia Newton-John Country Songs:

  1. Come On Over
  2. If You Love Me (Let Me Know)*
  3. Let Me Be There
  4. Country Girl
  5. Free The People
  6. I Honestly Love You
  7. Mary Skeffington
  8. Country Roads, Take Me Home
  9. Changes
  10. Sam
The next seven:
Every Face Tells a Story, The River's Too Wide, Hey Mr. Dreammaker, Please Mr. Please, Have You Never Been Mellow, Let It Shine, Don't Throw It All Away...

* Driving home from the farm, my dad always had the country radio on and I remember him always trying to sing the low harmony to this song.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Ham and Cheese Biscuits

2 cups flour
2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar ( powder, not sauce)
1/2 cup cold butter
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped ham
1 cup cold milk

Stir together, flour sugar, salt, baking powder and cream of tartar. 

Cut in cold butter until crumbly.  (I use my hands to 'squish' cold butter into dry ingredients)

Fold in grated cheese and ham.  Pour in milk and stir to combine.  Turn out on floured surface and knead a few times and roll into half the thickness of biscuit you want as a finished product. 

Cut with round or square cookie cutter. 

Place on greased cookie sheet or greased baking pan, close together for soft sides or further apart for crispy sides.  Brush with milk to brown top.

Bake at 450 degrees for about 12 to 15 minutes or until cooked thoroughly.

Serve warm with butter.

Good Housekeeping Cookbook Milk Quote


"I Like Milk: Gay glasses and mugs make milk more appealing.  And don't forget, anything with a straw tastes twice as good! "       

From the Good Housekeeping COOK BOOK: copyright 1942 chapter, 'Treats for Children'.

Cookie by Tammy Churko

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Great Gift Idea - A Book and a Movie

Stuck for a great gift?

How about a book and a movie?  Everyone loves a great story and there are hundreds of entertaining and tantalizing tales out there to choose from.  There have been classic movies that have blossomed from brilliant books and flirty films that have spun off some fun literature (Yes, the movie Sideways starring Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church spun off the cheeky The Sideways Guide to Wine and Life).

It can be tricky if you don't know who you are giving a book and movie to.  It's quite the personal present as you don't want to give Fifty Shades of Grey (although the movie is pending) to your grandmother.  In my opinion, it's okay to give a used book but the movie has to be new.  In fact, if you can find a rare, classic, maybe even signed edition in print, it would make the gift that much more special.  As far as the movie goes, right now, you can't go wrong with a DVD.  Entertainment media is always changing so depending on your recipients preferred source, VHS may be too dated and digital may be too futuristic.

Here are my top ten book and movie pairs that would make excellent gifts:
  1. The Shawshank Redemption; book by Stephen King, movie starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman
  2. Forrest Gump; book by Winston Groom, movie starring Tom Hanks
  3. The Help; book by Kathryn Stockett, movie starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis
  4. Of Mice and Men; book by  John Steinbeck, movie starring Gary Sinise
  5. Oliver Twist; book by Charles Dickens, movie (Roman Polanski musical) starring Barney Clark
  6. The Color Purple; book by Alice Walker, movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover and Oprah
  7. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; book by Ken Kesey, movie starring Jack Nicholson
  8. Where the Red Fern Grows; book by Wilson Rawls, movie starring James Whitmore, Beverly Garland, Stewert Peterson
  9. Dances With Wolves; book by Michael Blake, movie starring Kevin Costner
  10. Gone With the Wind; book by Margaret Mitchell, movie starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable
 The Next Thirteen....

Jaws, Philomena, The Princess Bride, Charlotte's Web, Carrie, Mean Girls, Gone, Baby, Gone, The Green Mile, To Kill a Mockingbird, Fried Green Tomatoes, Stand by Me, Misery, The Bridge Over the River Kwai, Schindler's List.... 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Book Review - THE DAILY COYOTE by Shreve Stockton

Title: The Daily Coyote - A Story of Love, Survival, and Trust in the Wilds of Wyoming

Author: Shreve Stockton

Publisher: Simon and Schuster; 2008

A snapshot in time.  While raising a wild coyote pup may seem a bit out of the ordinary, truth is, we all at some time or another have thought about (but know better) how cool it would be to raise and tame a wild animal like a pet wolf or bear and have it love you, depend on you and defend you.  Shreve Stockton did just that.

Whether you agree with the methods of controlling the coyote population or not, the baby coyote had come to stay with the author by means of Mike, a Government Trapper with Wildlife Services.  For reasons he can't even recall himself, Mike spared the young pup, ultimately named Charlie, the trappers' code name for coyotes when referring to such via radio.  The story that follows is fun and, believe it or not, informative yet, in reference to Mike and the loss of his daughter, as a parent, I couldn't help but feel for him and want him to learn to love life again.  I hope he has.  Maybe there should be a 'Daily Coyote' sequel...

And baby Charlie is absolutely adorable.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Homemade Reese Peanut Butter Cups Two Ways

Here is the original pan recipe for squares:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup butter, melted
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 cup peanut butter, crunchy or smooth
2 cups chocolate chips

In a large bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, icing sugar and peanut butter.  Mix until smooth.

Spread mixture in lightly greased 9 X 13 pan.  Chill in refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

Melt chocolate chips in double boiler and spread over chilled peanut butter mixture.

It's easier to cut the squares before chocolate is completely set.

To make cups, follow same procedure using small aluminum foil pie plates.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easy Hearty Hamburger Rice Soup

2 cups cooked and seasoned ground beef
1 can (540 ml) stewed tomatoes
1 container (900 ml) beef stock (or homemade if you have)
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, washed and sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup rice (I used Basmati)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Combine everything into a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for approximately 20 to 30 minutes or until rice and vegetables are tender. 

Serve with toast, garlic bread or biscuits.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Great Quote on Balance in Life and 'Social Contracts' by partisannomore

Photo by Jacklyn Waronek

I'm not sure of the origin of this quote by partisannomore.  It seems to be a post in response to an article, another post or a comment on "Free market economics."  It most likely is Canadian as the name O' Leary (Kevin O' Leary) is mentioned?  For what it's worth, the author made a great point when it comes to the social economic responsibility of a successful society. And you can apply this ideology to so many things in life.


" "Free market economics." Whoever coined that phrase was ignoring another phrases: "Nothing in life is ever free. Someone always pays a price."

Those with a wealth mentality, don't care that gas prices are going up - they're investing in oil companies. They are concerned with making, saving, hiding and multiplying money. Nothing else matters, says O'Leary.

Well their wealth has to come from someone and that's the rest of us. Or trees.

It seems there are some posters who revere the wealthy and insist that getting there any way you can is just fine. The end justifies the means.

Then there are some posters who believe everything should be shared, that no one has the right to "hog" money, power and "stuff" at the expense of others. The end justifies the means.

And then there's the majority of us. We don't object to wealth as long as it's come by with a degree of honesty or with minimal damage. Taxes are what makes the playing field somewhat more level because, after all, we support the wealthy by buying their "stuff" and they support us by hiring us. As long as there is a comfortable balance, we are sometimes content with our lot in life.

When things get out of whack we notice and object. We get to a place in life where we can live is some comfort and the wealthy want to give our jobs to someone overseas or the wealthy want to cut our wages....just be be more wealthy! Nope, that's a deal breaker.

EI cheats are also deal breakers - we all pay into a system in case we or others need help. As long as we all refrain from taking advantage of each other, we can live together and acknowledge our unique roles and contributions.

Unions are good but not greedy unions. Capitalism is good but not greedy capitalists. Its called a social contract.

- partisannomore"


Monday, April 21, 2014

Cream Cheese Seafood Sauce Dip

1 8 oz block of Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayo
1 cup seafood cocktail sauce
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 green pepper, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1 tomato, chopped

Combine cream cheese, sour cream and mayo.  Blend until smooth.  Spread in 12 inch serving platter.

Spread seafood cocktail sauce over cream cheese mixture.  Sprinkle grated cheese, followed by green pepper, green onion and tomato on top. 

Chill and serve with favorite cracker or variety of crackers.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Devilled Eggs

6 large hard-boiled eggs
2 tablespoons mayo
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon yellow mustard

Paprika, to sprinkle

Cut eggs in half lengthwise, remove yolks and place in small bowl.  Add mayo, relish, mustard and mix well.  Spoon yolk mixture back into egg white halves.

Sprinkle with Paprika.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Natural and Veggie Dyed Easter Eggs

This is a case of whatever works, works.  Depending on the fruit, vegetable, spice or drink, the use of cold or hot dying methods and how long the egg is left in the dye, the color is never the same shade twice.  Through my own trial and error of a variety of food and drink, mostly vegetables, here is what I've come up with so far:

  • Ground turmeric: shades of yellow and orange
  • Beets: pink to red (the above picture is actually a hard boiled egg dipped in leftover sweet pickled beet juice for 20 minutes!  I love that it has a bit of a speckled look to it.)
  • Black tea: rusty tan
  • Blueberries: shades of blue
  • Cinnamon: shades of brown
  • Onion skins: shades of yellow
  • Kale: shades of green
  • Paprika: shades of orange
  • Carrots: shades of orange
  • Raspberries, strawberries, cranberries: shades of pink
  • Coffee: shades of brown
  • Red onion skins: shades of purple/lavender
  • Purple cabbage: shades of blue

Cold Method for fruits and vegetables:

You will need 1 tablespoon of vinegar for every cup of strained liquid dye.

Take one cup water and combine with one cup of fruit or vegetable.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the desired shade.  Cool and then strain.  Add appropriate amount of vinegar and submerge hard-boiled eggs for desired amount of time.