Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Perfect Pulled Pork

It was a wonderful Memorial weekend. We looked forward all week to three days off and Ken and I thought it would be a good weekend to try out a new recipe I was just given. Ronnie is one of my new co-workers and since the first day of my new job I've heard how everyone loves her Pulled Pork. They rave about it and beg her to bring it every time there's a potluck. She was kind enough to share her secret with us and can I just say.....SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! Really. It's like Heaven on a bun. And Ken loved it too. The best part is that it was super easy to do and made enough for us to have a few meals. It was almost sad when we split the last of it for lunch on Sunday.

What you'll need:

1) 5-7 lb pork roast (shoulder or Boston butt)
3 Tbs. Paprika
1 Tbs. Garlic Powder
1/4 to 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 Tbs. Coarse Salt
1) bottle Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar (more or less to taste)
1/4 cup maple syrup


Mix the Paprika, Garlic Powder, Brown Sugar and Salt in a small bowl. Rub the spice blend all over the pork and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for one hour to over night. When you're ready to cook it, you can either put it in a covered roasting pan at 300 for 6 hours or do what we did and put the roast in the crockpot and let it cook all day on low. When the roast is pretty much falling apart, remove from the juices and fat and use two forks to pull the meat apart. Spread the shredded meat on a cookie sheet and cover with the Sweet Baby Ray's. Place back in the oven on broil just to kind of glaze the sauce a LITTLE bit to the meat. Put the glazed meat into a bowl and splash on the vinegar and drizzle with maple syrup to taste.

Just look at this...

This is actually the second one I fixed. The first one I was down to the last few bites when I looked at Ken and said "I forgot to get a picture!" I love coleslaw on my pulled pork, but you don't have to add that if you don't want. Put it on a melt in your mouth bun and there it is. Pretty sure it's one of our new favorite dishes for summer. Thanks for the share Ronnie!!

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Proposal Place

It was such a good weekend! On Saturday my sweet husband took me on a day trip to the place where he proposed to me. It was a beautiful drive. With all the rain we had this winter, everything is even greener, if that's possible. It was just a peaceful leisurely drive through an area that we tend to fly through on our way to see my kids or back home again. This time we even took a few side roads. Roads that we've driven by for the last 10 years and always said "we should drive down there one day". It was one of those days where you're just happy to be sharing time together and not really doing anything big.

Our final destination? Here.....

...beautiful Sahalie Falls. Can you imagine how romantic it was 11 years ago on this very spot when a handsome man from my past got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife? Still takes my breath away.

So there we were on a beautiful Saturday with an obnoxious Schnauzer barking at everyone and pulling at his lead, when my husband of 10 years turned and asked me if I would marry him again. Sigh.... Of course I would. Over and over and over again. Another beautiful memory made. Thank you husband...

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

I love living where we do. Our home is about 20 minutes out of town and while that's great for many reasons (nobody just 'drops by' without calling first giving me a good 20 minutes to freak out and toss things behind closed doors) there is also a down side. We only have one store and it closes at 7:00 pm. I know how totally foreign that is for my city readers. But it's true. There are actually areas in rural Oregon where the sidewalks roll up at dusk. (Ok, not really, but you get my point.)

So here's the thing. If, by some strange coincidence, you're in your most comfortable pj's with your hair in a ponytail  and you get an uncontrollable craving for something sweet and wonderful and there is NOTHING in your cupboard, you're out of luck. Unless, of course, your husband is willing to drive about 35 miles round trip on a goody run (mine won't, he's mean like that). It's times like this that I pull the evening out of the dumpster by making my Mom's 3 ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies. Yep, you read that right. Three whole ingredients. And who doesn't generally have peanut butter, eggs and sugar?

What you'll need:

1) egg
1) cup sugar
1) cup peanut butter

And that's it. Just mix it all together, drop by the spoonful on a cookie sheet, press with a fork or the sugared bottom of a glass and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350.

They don't really brown on top so you'll want to start checking at 8 minutes to make sure the bottoms don't get too brown. And you have to cool them completely before you try to take them off the cookie sheet or they crumble. Which actually is fine since you get to eat those first. After all, you wouldn't want to serve your family a less that perfect cookie ;0)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Taking Chances

Ten years ago today, I did something that I swore to anyone that would listen I would NEVER do. I got married. Again. I don't often tell people that I've been married not once, not twice, but three times. Yeah, I know. That's a lot. I'm not proud of it, it's just a fact.

After my second marriage failed, I decided that I should maybe let the idea of being part of a couple go. I worked a full time job, did my best to raise my kids and spent my spare time working in my yard and garden. It wasn't a grand life, but it was a life. And then something amazing happened. Just when I stopped looking for Mr. Right, Mr. Smart walked into my life. It's such a good "never give up on love" story and I tell it every chance I get.

We were married here at Rosehaven on a beautiful sunny day surrounded by our friends and family. We had our first dance on the patio right outside the kitchen window. I love that memory. And I love the way that every time I'm in our yard I can picture the day so perfectly.

I took a huge chance when I came here to be with Ken. My track record wasn't good, I didn't really trust myself anymore and my self-esteem was shot. But something told me that I had to do this, to take this chance. It took everything I had to step out of my comfort zone and step out into the world. I can't believe all that I would have missed if I had stayed where I was.

It's a wonderful thing when you marry someone that was your friend first. And there is a certain comfort that comes from finding a friend to love you in the second half of your life. After knowing how bad relationships can be, I can fully appreciate how wonderful this one is. And I can honestly say that when I wake up and see my husband next to me I think "Wow, I can't believe I'm married to Ken Smart!" I LOVE this boy.

So on this day I honor my husband and offer him a heart full of love and gratitude for being the best friend I've ever had. I love you Mr. Smart and appreciate all that you do for me and they way you don't run when I say things like "hey, I've got an idea!". Thank you for making me Mrs. Smart.

Ken and Wren May 2002

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Road Less Traveled

I live in a very beautiful area. Spring is especially amazing around here. I realized a while back that for the past few years I've gone through my life just working along and not really paying attention. And I've decided to make an effort to become aware again. This last Sunday I had a wedding meeting with a young couple. The groom's parents have a home in the woods up the North Fork of the Siuslaw River. The drive up was gorgous. The road takes you though a bit of residential and then off though farmland and a spattering of other homes. There were cows with their spring calves in the fields that reminded me of home. Those sweet little babies frolicking in the fields while their mothers look on just makes a heart happy.

After my meeting I took the back road home. It's this wild beautiful drive over the hill to my home in Mapleton. I forget how much I love it out there. I came around one sharp corner and was moved by the view.

I decided to pull the car over and get out for a stroll. As I was walking up the road, I bit of white caught my eye...

...wild Trilliums. They are always the best indication that Sping is on the way. I got back in my car, headed home and actually felt like I had had a mini-vacation. And it hadn't cost me a thing. It started me on my "road less traveled" kick. From now on, when I can, I'm going to take a few side roads or the long way around. I'm going to explore the places in my area that I've been missing because I've been so caught up in just getting there.

Quick road trip anyone?

My Own Voice

For those of you that followed me over from the Wren's Nest blog to here, you know that I generally write about happy, fun and beautiful things. With so much negative in the world, I feel like I need to put as much positive out there as I can. But the other day I was reading a post by a fellow blogger and something she said stuck in my head; "Write in your own voice".

I thought about this for a bit and then came to the realization that though I really do write in my own voice, what I don't do is write in my own voice on those days when construction jobs are slow to come in and there isn't enough paycheck to go around, or on days where I feel like everyone wants something from me that, at the moment, I can't deliver and to top it off, my dye job is a mess and my clothes don't fit. I tend to gloss over those days and follow the advice that my Mother gave me years ago. "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."  So I wait until I have a project or a happy note to post about.

But then it occurred to me that by doing that I really don't allow my real voice to come through. No one lives a perfect life. We all have our off days and our struggles. The funny part is that we think we're all alone and no one else ever feels this way. Certainly not those perfect women that have those perfect blogs with the perfect children who do those perfect crafts. So NOT true...

So here it is, an off day in my real voice...

It seems that the last 6 months have been more struggle than not. I think a big part of it was too many life changes coming too fast combined with some seasonal blahs (one of the liabilities of living in the very rainy Northwest) and a 49th birthday. Also turns out that I am the queen of denial and had convinced myself that I had only put on a few pounds (try 50!) and that I LOVED working for someone else and not owning my own business ("It's just so freeing to not HAVE to be creative!!"). And I've been feeling a bit stuck. Nothing is flowing. Everything I want to do costs money and everything I need to do is free but no fun. So I'm crabby. And a bit negative.

But the point is, it's just an off day. We all have them. ALL of us. And it's ok. They pass. We get through them the best we can, and we go to bed and have faith that when we get up in the morning it's going to be a better day. And we take comfort in the fact that somewhere out there, there is someone just like us who is suffering through a bad dye job and tight clothes just like we are and we are not alone...

Wishing you more on days than off,

Saturday, May 19, 2012

One Step Closer

I'm so excited. Nothing irritates me more than no progress and nothing excites me more than when things finally start to happen! Remember this mess....

 ...it's the upstairs junk room that is suppose to become my studio. I wrote about it way back in February. Full of determination, I had this big plan to put in an hour a day working on the space. Didn't happen. And I also thought we were going to tear down all the gross ceiling texture and replace it with new sheet rock and nice texture. About $125-$150 worth of materials. Nope. So, the room has just sat while we have tried to come up with some less expensive options. So frustrating. Until yesterday. Ken had a day at home and a box of sheet rock mud from another job. By the time I got home he had put a nice coat of mud over all the nasty texture to even it out and patched the holes that someone made while tearing out the dividing wall (hummmm...wonder who did THAT?)


That last photo is the same view as the first one. Quite a change already but still a long way to go. The frustrating thing about sheet rock mud and texture is that it's a "hurry up and wait" process. Mud, let dry, another coat of mud, let dry, sand, texture, let it dry.....I'm so impatient. And Ken keeps messing with me and saying that it's going to take another seven or eight coats. I don't think so. I'm dying to get in there and paint and paper. I've got it all planned out...

Ken gets a little twitchy when I drag out the graph paper. He knows it's going to be work for him. I'm chomping at the bit and making him crazy with "what do we do next? Huh? Can I paint now? Can I?!" And check this out.....

...just a little teaser. It's part of one of the feature walls in the studio. So excited. Can't wait to share the next step. And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to head back up the stairs and watch the mud dry. And try not to irritate my husband/carpenter.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Favorite Vases

If you've been reading this blog or followed me over from My Wren's Nest blog, there's no way that you can miss that I LOVE flowers. They just make me happy. Over the years, I've collected many vases, but it seems like there are two that I find myself filling time and time again.

In fact, I have 3 or 4 of the hobnail milk glass vases (all the same) just in case I happen to break one. It's the perfect vase for the tall wild looking arrangements that I like to put together and the white color sets off every flower that goes into it.

This is actually one of my most favorite arrangements. I gathered a little of this and a little of that and just kept adding. I love the odd combination of the Autumn Joy Seedum and the small cabbage with the old fashioned Snapdragons and a touch of Bovardia. And roses are always good....

....so pretty.

My blue vase is a bit taller and the perfect color of blue pottery. It's a nice heavy vase that can handle the heavy blooms or large branches of the cuttings I like to take around the house. Just got it out and filled it this last week with lilacs....

Such a happy maker. What about you? Do you have a favorite vase that you find yourself filling again and again?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Great Mother's Day

It was such a good Mother's Day this year. My husband gave me a beautiful necklace and the perfect card. And my daughter showed up with the grandchildren, my adopted son Jack and their friend Ashley and her kids. We had a houseful! After a fun day at the ball park watching  the Ducks play baseball, we all crashed back at our place. We live in this great 1928 house that always seems like a nice sized home until you fill it with 3 extra adults and 8 children under the age of 12. When everyone comes home for a visit, the living room floor turns into one huge bed and every piece of furniture that can be slept on holds a body. It's one big noisy happy mess and it just makes me feel content. Best of all, Papa didn't have to climb a tree this time to get a grand kid down and we only had one head wound that luckily didn't require a stitch.

I woke up early this morning, got the coffee going and tried to keep the dog from waking the kids for a bit. It was nice to just sit out on the patio and sip a hot cup of coffee in the quiet of the morning knowing that all the little (and big) kids were snug asleep in the house and I would get to spend a little more time with them before I had to head to work and they all had to go home.

By the time everyone started to wake up I had biscuits in the oven and sausage gravy on the stove. The kitchen was filled with a wonderful smell and happy voices and I couldn't help but think of how much this was like a morning at my Grandma's house when I would spend the night and wake up to wonderful aromas coming out of her kitchen. And then I had to laugh at how I had put my twist on the entire thing. Since I work a full time job and there wasn't much time, the biscuits came out of a can and the gravy out of a couple of packets. Not the 'made from scratch' meal of my Grandma's day. But the feeling was the same. There were good smells, tasty food and such a huge amount of love. And those simple things are the things that great memories are made of.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mothers - Part 3, The Queen Mother

As my Mothers Day tribute finale, on this day of honor for Mothers everywhere, I would like to honor my Mom, Mary Jane....

 .....isn't she beautiful?! I've always thought she looked like a young Liz Taylor. Don't you think so? And she really is a Queen. A Rodeo Queen. Really, how many children can say that their mother was a Rodeo Queen? I wish I had a picture to post. Somewhere there is this great 8mm movie of a young dark haired beauty riding out into the arena on a big horse just waving her heart out. Best movie EVER.

My Mom has always been a hard working make-do kind of gal. She was born and raised in the small Eastern Oregon town she still lives in and grew up riding horses and working at the Guest Ranch that her parents owned. She taught us at an early age that you don't need video games and TV to have a good time, you just need the outdoors and a good imagination. She was the kind of Mom that was up for a week of camping out along the river where we would roast marshmallows, make Hobo stew, and get dirtier than any four kids could ever hope to get. She took us on vacation to her brother's house in Idaho where we learned to run through a corn field, ride ponies and calves and swim in a trout pond (that last part was for my sister. She actually fell in the trout pond and the only thing that kept her from drowning was the fear of the fish biting her! Sorry Stephi, couldn't help myself.)

She was a young mother with me coming along when she was 18 followed by my brother and my two sisters. We had a full childhood and if you would have asked us then, we would have told you that we were what one would consider "middle class". Our father was the local butcher and we always had a good home to live in and food on the table. It's funny how you perceive things as a child. It wasn't until the four of us started to grow up and have our own families that we realized the big pot of beans that she would make and we would eat for a week wasn't because her and Dad liked beans, it was because they were cheap and went a long way. She could take a few packages of Top Ramin Noodles, add some peas, chopped boiled eggs and green onion and voila! full meal. She managed to keep us all fed and clothed on a tight budget and somehow kept us from knowing that we were actually poor. Amazing. We never felt that there wasn't enough. Just goes to show yet again that it's not how much money we had that made us rich, but how much love.

I wrote the other day about having a strong willed daughter and my poor Mother had one of those as well. There were a few years there that we didn't see eye to eye and I had no appreciation for the sacrifices she made for us. I gave her a hard time as teenagers sometimes do. So glad that we're past that. She's come to be not only my Mom, but my friend. We laugh on the phone together about silly things. Like the way she has of making up her own words that completely changes the meaning of things. I keep threatening to write a book of things she says. So funny. The best was when she called to tell me she was sick again with that "thing that she got in Mexico that started with a 'G' and then blurted out the name of an STD and not the Giardia that she really had. I thought I was going to die laughing.

My Mom and I live 7 hours apart now and I don't get home much, but this year I decided that I just had to go home for Easter with my family. Our father passed away suddenly about 10 years ago and Easter was his favorite holiday. This year Easter actually fell on his birthday and I just wanted to be with my Mom and siblings. I left right after work on Friday and my niece and I got in around 1:00 a.m. I couldn't help but feel like a teenager again sneaking in after curfew so as not to wake up mom. But Mom's little fluffy dog alarm went off and before I could calm her down and tell her it was ok that I was in the house, Mom was heading down the hall. After hugs and a bit of visiting, I crawled into bed. I might be a 49 year old mother of 3 and grandmother of 5, but when my mom leaned over and kissed me goodnight, I felt like a little girl again and I knew I was home. Turns out that you're never too old to need your Mother.

Thank you Mom for doing all you've done to raise four great kids and to see us through all our trials and tribulations. We're not a perfect bunch, but you've taught us what it means to be a family and pull together when things get tough and how to help others when there is a need. Happy Mothers Day. I love you very much and can't wait for you to come visit so we can sit on the porch and laugh together. We're pretty good at that!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mothers - Part 2, Daughters & Daughter-in-laws

Motherhood has got to be one of the hardest jobs around. There isn't an instruction manual to be found and if there were a job description that you could read over, well, I'm not too sure many of us would have taken the job. But my daughter and daughter-in-law have both taken to the role of mother like it's a walk in the park. (Ok, maybe sometimes a walk through a Zoo...)

My daughter JoLee became a mother of twins at a very young age. I have to admit  that I acted like a total ass the day the ultrasound revealed not one but two babies. I giggled with glee and told her that now she would get back double what she gave me. I just couldn't help myself. And any mother of a strong willed daughter will know exactly what I mean. But that little girl became an amazing mother. I don't know how she does it. She's now the mother to four very active kids spending time coaching baseball and running them around. She's an awesome mom and just enough kid herself to still know how to have fun with her own kids. A funny thing happens when your daughter becomes a mom. Suddenly they 'get' where you were coming from when they thought you were clueless. And as those twins become teens, I'm sure she'll understand even more :0) It makes me laugh when I hear things come out of her mouth that I had said to her not so many years ago when she was a teen. I laugh even harder when I catch one of the girls rolling their eyes behind her back. I often wonder if my daughter has any idea how she's blessed my life by giving me these four little grand kids to love and just how proud I am to be her mom and see the way that she works through tough times and keeps her family going strong.

My daughter JoLee and her family
A couple of years ago, my oldest son Tim, was going through a hard spot. He was in his late 20's and it didn't look like his life was going anywhere good. It hurt my heart to see him struggling, but I was powerless to do anything. He needed to do it for himself. One day I got a call from him saying that a girl he knew in Alaska had offered to send him a ticket to come up and see her in Skagway. I wanted him to go. He just wasn't sure. He had nothing to lose, but the fear of stepping out of his comfort zone, no matter how bad that zone might be, was keeping him stuck. He had always wanted to be a father, but he told me not too long before that if he didn't have a wife and a baby by the time that he was 30 that it just wasn't going to happen. As a mother, that broke my heart.

But then, something amazing happened. This Alaska girl somehow convinced my son to get on a plane (his first time ever!) by himself and fly to Alaska. He sent me texts and called from each layover and by the time his plane landed in Juneau, he was a changed man. The absolute beauty of Alaska had enchanted him. In less that two years, not only did he have a job and a new wife, but a beautiful baby girl too. I credit my daughter-in-law Dannie for saving my son's life. She was exactly what he needed; a no-nonsense girl that would push him to do things that he wouldn't do on his own. The kids have flown me up to Alaska twice now and I've got to spend time with Dannie and get to know her better. My first visit up I was so worried that she wouldn't like me. Sometimes I think that mother-in-laws get almost as bad a rap as stepmothers. Turns out she was as nervous as I was. Once we got over that initial meeting, we were good to go. She's a crack up. The other day I sent her a picture of me in my new glasses and asked her if they made me look smarter and she said no, since you could still see my face. I'm still laughing about that one. That's the kind of relationship we have. She's comfortable enough with me to give me a bad time. And I love her like one of my own. About a year and a half ago, she gifted me with a beautiful little granddaughter Maycee Renee. And this fall, she's giving me another grand baby. I can't wait. Not only is she an amazing Mom and a good wife to my son, but she's the best daughter-in-law ever.

Dannie and Maycee, my Alaska Girls
These two girls have given me the greatest gift of all; a bunch of bright eyed grand kids to call my own. I know that they struggle with the jobs of being a mother and a wife at times and I'm sure there are days when the whole thing just wears them out and they wonder what they were thinking, but I'm so happy that they decided to do it. My grandchildren are lucky to have them as their moms.

Happy Mothers Day Girls. I love you much!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mothers- Part 1, Stepmothers

In honor of Mother's Day, I've decided to start my tributes a few days early so I could get all the mothers in my life mentioned. Today's tribute? Stepmothers.

According to Cinderella, most step-mothers are wretched, mean things with a warts on their noses (I might have made that last part up). Most definitely NOT a creature you would want in your life. Except the two stepmothers in my life are nothing like that.

My parents were very young when I came along in 1963. My father became a Marine shortly after I was conceived and due to stresses of life in that time, the marriage didn't last. Both of my parents eventually found the partners they would spend the rest of their lives with. My father relocated to California, and there he met Charol. I didn't have the pleasure of meeting her until I was older, but in pictures I have seen of her, she was a true California girl. Long blonde hair and a beautiful wholesome face. They moved back into our hometown when I was about 15. It can't have been easy for Charol. Eastern Oregon is a different world. From the very beginning, Charol treated me with love and kindness. She landed in the middle of nowhere during my turbulent teen years and all the drama that came with that and she handled it all with grace. Not once did I see the Evil Stepmother persona rear its ugly head. She has an amazing sense of humor and I love to talk to her. When she laughs her entire face lights up and I always look forward to my visits with her. If I would have had an opportunity to choose the perfect step-mom for me, I couldn't have picked better. She's not just a stepmother, she's a friend. 

The second Stepmother in my life I also consider a friend. Like my mother, I married early and started a family right away. Though that marriage didn't last, it did produce three very much loved children. A few years back, the father of my children fell in love with a tall, pretty Indiana girl and convinced her to come clear across the United States and spend her life with him. She left all she knew and her own family to come be with us. I know for a fact that it's been hard for her and she misses her own children very much. But we feel blessed to have her. Sherry is a girl after my own heart; creative, crafty and just fun to be with. She fits right in with our family. Just the kind of Mother that you want for your children. With Sherry, there has never been a feeling of rivalry. I love her, love that she is there if the kids need her when I can't be. She is good to my children and grandchildren and I hope that they know how lucky they are to have double the Mom/Grandma love. There has never been a time that I've been in her home that she hasn't treated me as part of her family and made me feel very welcome.

 Divorce is never a good thing, but the new people it brought into our lives has made all the pain of unfortunate situations worth it. I'm so thankful for the part these two wonderful woman have played in my life and the life of my children and grandchildren. Our family really lucked out when it came to stepmothers. Not at all wretched or mean and best of all not a wart to be seen on either of their beautiful noses.

Today I give tribute to Charol and Sherry and the sacrifices they made to come to Oregon and be part of our lives.  Happy Mother's Day. I love you both very much.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Spring Lilacs

It's not really Spring to me until I catch the first perfumed smell of the blooming lilacs around our home. The little green house that my grandmother lived in had a big beautiful lilac in front right by the screened porch. The scent from that one tree permeated the porch and made it one of my favorite places to be in the spring.

On one of my last visits to her home, I brought back a few starts of her lilac. This is the first year that they are really blooming. So beautiful. These purple ones are from her home...

...and these white ones are from a bush that was here when we bought the house. 

I have a feeling it's as old as the house. It had been neglected for several years and it killed me to do it, but I cut it down to about 4' tall a few years back. Turns out it was just what it needed. This year it was covered in huge blooms and much healthier looking.

I went out this morning and cut a big armful to fill one of my favorite vases. I love the old fashioned look of them and the wonderful scent memory they give.

 Just the sight and scent of them makes my heart happy!

Blackberry Cobbler

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The saying goes "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade". Here in Western Oregon, we've changed that up a bit. "When life gives you blackberries, make blackberry cobbler"! With all the moisture that we get, things grow like crazy around here. Especially blackberries. They have a wicked mind of their own and the wild things will grow up and cover your house, car, outdoor pet in no time if you don't fight them off with a machete on a regular basis. Last summer, Ken was doing just that in the side yard, when he decided to grab a bucket and pick before he chopped. We ended up with several bags of ripe beautiful frozen blackberries.

Cobbler is one of those super easy desserts that was a staple at my grandmothers table. Several years ago, on my 23rd birthday she gave me a copy of her favorite cookbook.

 It's a collection of recipes from the ladies of a nearby ranching community. Good hearty recipes from a group of women who were used to feeding large families and hardworking ranch hands. And I love the fact that every time I open it, I get to see this...

...a picture of my sweet grandma. In probably the only illegal thing she ever did in her life, she had cut out the picture of an old drivers license and taped it on the first page. It was one of her favorite pictures and it captures her spirit perfectly.

The cobbler recipe from grandma's cookbook uses basic ingredients and is quick and easy, but what a treat. Nothing like warm cobbler with ice cream.

What you'll need:

1 cube butter, melted
1 c. flour
1/2 c. milk (might need a little more to make the batter thin enough to pour)
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
a dash of cinnamon (optional)
about 1 quart blackberries ( or any other favorite fruit, sliced)

Preheat oven to 350. Place fruit in the bottom of a 9x9 baking dish...

Mix the remaining ingredients together in a mixing bowl to make a thick but pourable batter. Pour over the top of the fruit, but don't mix.

Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. The batter ends up cooking down into the berries giving it a.....wait for it.....

...cobbled effect. (Get it? Cobbler, cobbled effect?! I crack myself up...). Couple of tips: let your cobbler cool a bit before you sneak a bite from the corner to make sure it's fit for anyone else to eat. Oh, and don't try to blame the cat or the dog when your husband asks who took the nibble out of the corner. He won't believe you.

Add a scoop of good vanilla ice cream and you end up with this.......

...heaven in a dish. So good. Last night when I came home from work, Ken had gotten off early and had mixed one up for us. Love that boy. He knows how to keep me happy!


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Calico Beans & Cornbread

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Now that Spring is in the air, Ken and I have been spending every weekend trying to get caught up on all the neglected yard work and burning that has got to be done. It's a hard job, but something I'm very much enjoying. It just feels good to be back doing things that I love after several years of being too busy to appreciate the simple things.

And speaking of "simple things" one of our favorite weekend dinners practically fixes itself. Calico Beans is one of those hearty comfort foods that can be put together in a flash, cook all day and be ready when you come in from the yard.

What you'll need:
Crock Pot (a dutch oven would work too)
1 lb. Bacon
1 lb. Hamburger
1 can each of Garbanzo, Pinto, Kidney, Butter Bean, Pork & Beans
1 sm. chopped sweet onion (optional)
Worcestershire Sauce
Brown Sugar

In a large skillet, crumble the hamburger and cook till browned. Drain and add to the crock pot. In the same skillet, cook the bacon till crisp. I like to use my kitchen scissors to cut the raw bacon in smaller bites before cooking.

DON'T DRAIN! Scrape the cooked bacon, grease and all, into the crock pot with the hamburger. (I know, I know. It goes against every thing you hear now a days about removing every bit of bad fat that you can. But trust me, it adds wonderful flavor and it's not greasy at all. Live a little and throw the dang grease in the crock pot!)

Next,  open all the cans of beans.


Pour the Pork and Beans in the pot with the hamburger and bacon.


Pour all the other beans in a colander and rinse well with cool water.

Then throw them in the pot with the rest of the ingredients. Add 3 tbs. of Worcestershire Sauce, 1/4 cup of Ketchup and 3/4 cup of brown sugar. To be honest, I don't even measure anymore and probably add a bit more brown sugar. Mix it all up, put the lid on, turn the crock pot on low and let it cook all day till you have this.....

....a big pot of wonderfully gooey, stick to your ribs comfort food. Yummmm.... We like to mix up some cornbread muffins with some honey butter to go with them. So good. So easy!

Do you have a favorite "quick but amazing" meal?

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