I store all kinds of things about cooking, quilting and some surprises in my cupboard. Check it out.

Raspberry Mountain

In the 1980s-90s, my husband and I lived in a rural area called Blue Jay, located on the Ohio/Indiana border.  My husband had a huge garden and every kind of berry bush and fruit tree that does well in our area.  My favorites were the black raspberries and we got bumper crops year after year.  I used them in every conceivable way, but regret that I found this recipe after we had to leave our country home and all the wonderful berries.  It’s a quick, easy way to turn 1-½ cups of fresh raspberries into a delicious dessert with a little cake and lots of berries.

Butter is melted in the oven in a 9-inch pie plate.  Then cake batter is poured over the butter (no stirring) and berries are scattered on top along with a sprinkling of sugar.  The cake rises up over the berries to form a thin layer and is delicious warm from the oven or at room temperature.

Raspberry Mountain


¼ cup butter, cut into small pieces
½ cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Dash of salt
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¾ tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup plus 2 Tblsp. milk
1-½ cups fresh raspberries
Additional 1-1/2 Tblsp. granulated sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and melt butter in 9-inch pie plate   Heat until butter is melted but not brown.

Meanwhile, mix flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, salt and baking powder in bowl.

Stir in milk.  Pour this batter over the melted butter – DO NOT STIR.

Drop berries over top, scattering evenly over surface.  DO NOT STIR.

Sprinkle 2 Tblsp. granulated sugar on top and bake for 30 minutes @ 350 F degrees.

The butter and batter rise to make a thin top crust that is buttery, sugary and crunchy at the edges.

Delicious plain or with a bit of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. 

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Knitting – A Good, Free and Easy Slip-Stitch Pattern

I like to work in color when knitting and early on found a good, free slip-stitch pattern that forms a brick design.  The pattern was originally written for a dish cloth but was easy to convert into a soft, sweet baby blanket .

More recently, I used the same pattern for a scarf for the Arkansas group of Special Olympics.  They specify the use of Red Heart yarn in colors of red, grey, black and white and I designed a scarf using these colors and incorporating the brick pattern.

This group asks for scarves and headbands and I included two headbands with Fair Isle patterns.

The free slip-stitch pattern is available at Ravelry.com

Knit Freedom offers a good class on slip-stitch/mosaic knitting for a fee:  http://knitfreedom.com/classes/double-knitting

 

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A Bevy of Swans

I received an Easter gift of a vintage swan holding some delicious chocolate eggs.

This new addition to my collection inspired me to gather all of the pieces which are displayed throughout the house and form a bevy of swans on the living room mantel.  (Note:  I had to Google “group of swans” to see what it was called.)  They range from a wooden candle holder …

… to a small planter with a Dutch girl …

I love them all, but I’m particularly fond of the pieces that are the kind that were found in the dime store in the 1930s-40s – the kind my mother, grandmothers and aunts would have had in their homes.

I love the large bulb bowl ….

…which my daughter keeps filled with beautiful arrangements made from simple grocery store bouquets.

My usual TV/knitting spot is on a couch facing the mantel where I can enjoy my special bevy of swans.

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Chicken, Spinach, Artichoke and Orzo Casserole

I saw a recipe online for bell peppers stuffed with rice, ground chicken and an interesting blend of vegetables which sounded good, but I thought my family would like it better in casserole-form.  I used chopped bell peppers along with chicken breast rather than ground chicken and substituted orzo for rice to make a very flavorful and satisfying meal.  I used my favorite mixture of oregano and chili powder to give the dish a little kick and it was voted a winner by the family.  I assembled the dish a day ahead of time and baked it for Sunday dinner.  We had enough for everyone to have an extra serving for supper during the week.  This dish would also freeze well.

Chicken, Spinach, Artichoke and Orzo Casserole

1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
½ cup onion, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
15 oz. can of tomato sauce
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess water
15 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and coarsely chopped
1 cup orzo cooked al dente according to package directions
½ chicken breast, cooked and shredded
6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

Oiled 9×13 baking dish

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and cook bell pepper and onion until soft but not brown.  Add minced garlic, oregano, chili powder, salt, and black pepper.  Stir in tomato sauce, thawed spinach, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes.  Add cooked orzo and shredded chicken breast.  Spoon mixture into oiled 9×13 baking dish.  Dish can be covered and refrigerated at this point and baked later.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place covered casserole in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until mixture begins to bubble.  Remove cover and sprinkle with crumbled Feta cheese.  Bake for 10 minutes more.  Serve hot.

6-8 generous servings


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Knitting – Seamless Tote – Market Bag

 

I enjoy going to thrift shops and looking for vintage collectibles and china, and since I’ve been knitting have found some good bargains in yarn.  Since 90% of my knitting is for charity, I appreciate finding some nice yarn at a good price.  I was thrilled to find a large plastic bag filled with 17 unopened skeins of Caron Premium yarn in off-white for only $10.00.

I envisioned soft, fluffy baby blankets for my Lakota Indian group and was disappointed when I made a trial swatch to find that the yarn was thick and rather stiff when knitted.  So much for fluffy baby blankets and I made a dishcloth, a table mat and a floor mat.  The yarn worked OK for these projects but I had a lot of yarn and didn’t want to make any more cloths or mats.  Then, I thought it might make a good, strong market bag to carry all the fresh corn and melons I buy at the farmer’s market every summer.  My daughter had a nice pattern for a seamless tote bag that is knit in one piece from the bottom up.  The pattern called for 4mm (#6 US) needles and cotton or DK (baby/sport) yarn.  I used #6 needles with my thick, sturdy yarn and following the pattern for the bag portion exactly, made a very thick, sturdy market bag.  I changed the pattern a bit for the handle which my daughter had made and found to be stretchy.  I made two long I-cords, doubled them and stitched to the center front and center back of the bag to form a shopping bag shape.

 

The design pattern is easy and the project is a good one to work on while watching TV or visiting with friends.

Using the thinner yarn would have produced a bag 13 inches wide x 14 inches deep.  My bag turned out to be 18 inches wide x 17 inches long.

Here is the link for the tote bag:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/seamless-tote-bag

 

…and here is a You Tube tutorial on how to make an I-cord.  This is another project that is mindless and good for knitting when there might be distractions.  I used the same needle and yarn size to make the I-cord as I used for the bag.

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Tipsy Peach Chicken – Low Fat

I found this recipe over 10 years ago online (sorry, I don’t remember the source) and adapted it to make a nice, light luncheon or supper dish.  I would prefer fresh peaches, but canned ones also work fine and give a little pep to this low fat, low cal meal.

Tipsy Chicken with Peaches

3 medium chicken breasts, cut into cubes
Salt/Pepper
1 tsp. olive oil
Large onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. smoked paprika
6 green onions with tops, chopped
¼ cup orange juice
2 Tblsp. Bourbon
1 cup sliced peaches
Grating of fresh nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Spray a 9 inch casserole dish

Place chicken cubes in prepared casserole and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a medium skillet, heat olive oil and cook onions over medium heat about 5 minutes.  Add paprika and chopped green onions.  Cook an additional 4 minutes.

Spread onion mixture over chicken; spoon orange juice and bourbon over the top and bake uncovered for @ 400 degrees F for 30 minutes, turning and stirring occasionally.

Remove chicken from oven and spoon peaches over the top.  Grate nutmeg lightly over peaches and return to oven to bake for 15-20 minutes more until chicken is done.

Serve over hot rice.

Diet Power:  ¼ of casserole with ½ cup rice =  278 calories, 3.7 g fat, 37.7 g carbohydrate, 1.99 g dietary fiber, 24.2 g protein. 

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Knitting – Easy Peasy Socks – Free Pattern

When I started knitting about a year and a half ago, I didn’t care about doing anything fancy – I just wanted to knit scarves, hats, mittens and … socks.  The scarves, hats and mittens were relatively easy to learn, but, oh boy, the socks.  I tried making a pair early on in my knitting experience and gave up after knitting a pair that was basically not wearable.  I waited awhile and tried again and yet a third time without good results.  At this point, I gave all of my sock/fingering yarn to my daughter who keeps me in gorgeous socks and figured I must have a mental block that kept me from doing what so many knitters consider an easy project.

Last week, I decided to give socks another try when I noticed a pattern on Ravelry called Easy Peasy Socks (“designed with the first-time sock knitter in mind”) by Stacey Trock.  The pattern calls for yarn and needles that would produce a gauge of 6 stitches/inch and I used #3 needles and baby/sports weight yarn to make mine.  I use only circular Magic Loop needles (circular with a long cable) and I was actually able to follow the pattern and make a pair of socks!  Stacey issues a warning:  “This pattern is annotated with lots of helpful hints & notes … it’s sorta like a transcript of what a sock class with me is like.”  And it’s how I felt as I followed along – it was like a class with a very student-friendly teacher.

My big problem has always been the heel flap and gusset, and I was able to do this reasonably well.

I’m now in the process of adapting the pattern so that I can make it with a longer leg length, longer ribbing and in a fingering/sock yarn.  I want to devise a formula that will allow me to make this very nice and “easy-peasy” sock in any size I want and using any needles or yarn that I choose.  More on that later.

Here is Stacey’s free pattern:  http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/easy-peasy-socks-for-first-timers

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