Things I'm Researching

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Autumn Delights

Autumn kinda snuck up on me this year. 

It seemed we went from the warm summer days to suddenly it's Fall...oh so quickly. Maybe it is because there were travel days that took us to other areas with different climates. Hmm... YES Colorado, Phoenix, then Long Beach and San Jose then back to the mountains of Alpine, thats what it was. 

Well now I find myself trying to savor the last bits of color, SIGH.

Part of the enjoyment of Fall for me is the last bits of the garden, recounting what I have put aside, seeing the beauty of the changing colors, homemade soups, fall recipes of every kind and pumpkin everything. 

The end of last month we  were able to take several days to enjoy the beautiful Alpine Loop, Sundance and Park City since we had family (Tom's brother Lee and his wife Kay) who came for several days. We crammed in a lot of site seeing in those few days and made some great memories. The first day and evening we spent around our house. We hiked to Lambert Park is a foothill area on the edge of the national forest.

In the evening we kicked back and had some really delicious Butternut Squash Soup and Spinach Pear Salad with wine and  cheeses.  The recipe for the soup was shared by my friend and pastor Greta Novotne. It turned out as yummy as I remembered it. 

There is a "law" when quoting someone that the first time you give them credit, the second time it is a random association then finally it becomes yours. Well apparently that's what happened with the soup, hence the name on the cute recipe card. 

 If you try the soup let me know what you think. 

Roasted Squash & Pear Soup
4 cups butternut squash, peeled and seeds removed, roughly chopped
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 leeks, halved and washed, chopped
4 tbsp. sage, chopped
2 pears, cored, peeled and diced
1 tsp. grated nutmeg
4 cups chicken stock
1 tsp. chili pepper flakes (optional) 
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
3 slices of bacon, chopped
1.                Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.
2.                Add the squash, pears, 2 tablespoons of sage, nutmeg and 1 tablespoon of oil in a large bowl and mix to combine. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and empty the bowl out into a single layer. Roast for 25 minutes. 
3.                Using a saute pan, add one tablespoon of oil over medium heat and add the bacon, cooking for five minutes or until slightly crispy. Remove from pan and place on a paper towels.
4.                Using the same pan, add the final tablespoon of oil over medium heat and add the leeks and garlic, cooking for 3 minutes or until softened.
5.                Working in batches, transfer the leeks, onion and squash mixture to a food processor and puree until smooth.
6.                Pour into a large pot with the stock and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
7.                Meanwhile, toast the breadcrumbs and remaining sage in a small fry pan over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add in the bacon and stir to combine. Set aside.
8.                To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with bacon &  breadcrumb mixture. Finish with chili pepper flakes.
9.                Serves 6.

Baby Spinach with Pears, Pecans, Goat Cheese and Bacon
(hoping to a picture in the near future.) 

Yields: 4
The Goods:
…for the dressing:
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and cracked fresh pepper
…for the salad:
4 cups baby spinach
2 medium ripe pears
3/4 cup pecans, toasted
pinch cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. honey
pinch salt
4 bacon slices, cut in thirds
3/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine honey, salt and cayenne and toss in the pecans until coated. Spread on a lined baking sheet in a single layer and bake until toasted, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. In a small bowl combine the cider vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and sugar and whisk. Slowly add in the olive oil and whisk until emulsified. Season and set aside.
3. Pan fry the bacon for a few minutes per side until golden brown. Drain and reserve.
4. Toss the baby spinach with most of the dressing in a bowl, reserving about a quarter. Plate the spinach. Halve and core and cut the pears into thin strips and toss the pear slices with the toasted pecans in the same bowl the spinach was tossed in.
5. Add the pears and pecans to the spinach and place bacon strips on top. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and place crumbled goat cheese over top.

6. Serve.

The Spinach Pear salad was an adaptation from one the one above. I'll definitely be making it again! 
(FYI, what I really did was  toss in the spinach, pears and pecans dressed with a bit of olive oil and a Lime Pear Balsamic vinegar and cracked pepper and sea salt.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

OMG Moments Making New Traditions at Thanksgiving

Just looked at the calender and had an OMG moment...Did you know??? It is only 17 days until Thanksgiving? 

I'm so excited! This year my son Nathaniel and his children are planning to come, it's the first time having my grandchildren come visit from out of state and I'm on pins and needles! They will meet families of their cousins face to face for the very first time and see Aunties and Uncles that they've not had in their life due to distance. 

Oops, change of plans,,,<heavy sigh> my son can't get the time very sad. I know it will be a blast just hanging out but of course I want the traditions we create and the food we eat to be memorable too. I'm still in the planning stages but I thought I'd share my ideas for my Menu...

Brined Turkey
 Carol's YUM Stuffing
Homemade Turkey Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Veggies & Dip
Relish Tray
Fruit medley
 Cranberry Relish
deviled eggs
 Sweet Potatoes
Pumpkin Pie
The newcomer...Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifle looks really yummy!

A few years back it was a great joy to have my dear friend Beverly staying with us for a while. As we talked over food plans for the Thanksgiving celebration she shared a tip...
Brining a turkey guarantees a delicious moist turkey. She and I bought our brine the first year from Williams and Sonoma but honestly it is a simple thing to make your own, I thought you might enjoy the recipe I have since used.

Turkey Brine

"This recipe makes 3 quarts of brine, enough for a 10 to 25 pound turkey. All of the spices and herbs in this recipe add great flavor, if you can't find one for some reason, don't worry, just leave it out. 
2/3 cup kosher salt
2/3 cup sugar
6 whole cloves
1 teaspoon juniper berries, crushed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
2 teaspoons whole allspice berries, crushed
5 fresh sage leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
8 cups hot water
4 cups ice water 
2 turkey size plastic oven bags or brining bags
1 large roasting pan (or a very large bowl)
1 fresh or thawed frozen turkey (12 to 20 pounds)
note: The easiest way to crush whole spices is to use a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. If you do not have either of these kitchen tools, place the whole spices in a heavy lock-top plastic bag, seal the bag while pressing out all the air, and pound them with the bottom of a small, heavy saucepan until coarsely crushed.
For the Brine:
In a large saucepan, stir together the salt, sugar, cloves, juniper berries, peppercorns, and allspice. Add the sage leaves, thyme, and bay leaves along with the hot water. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Boil for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat. Add the ice water and stir to cool the mixture. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
The Method:
Nest 1 plastic oven bag inside the other to create a double thickness. Place the double bag mouth open wide and facing up, in the roasting pan. Fold back the top one-third of the double bag to make a collar (this helps keep the bags open). Place the turkey inside the double bag. Unfold the collar of the double bag and pour the brine over the bird, then add 2 cups of cold water. Draw up the top of the inner bag, squeezing out as much air as possible, and secure it closed with a twist tie. Do the same with the outer bag. Turn the package so the turkey is breast side down in the roasting pan (or very large bowl) and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours. Turn the turkey 3 or 4 times while it is brining.
Remove the turkey from the brine. Discard the bags, brine, and any cured herbs or spices remaining on the bird. Rinse the turkey under cold water and pat dry with paper towels (sanitize the sink afterwards). Place the turkey back in the roasting pan (or on a rimmed sheet pan that is large enough to hold the turkey) and refrigerate, making sure that it touches nothing else in the fridge, uncovered, for at least 6 hours or up to overnight. This resting period allows the skin of the turkey to dry a bit so it is crisp when roasted. The turkey is now ready to be roasted. 

One new tradition for me began a few years ago, recounting things I am grateful for. I'm looking for an idea to help all of us express gratitude together on Thanksgiving Day. If you have an idea for me please share it in the comments

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Did You Know?...Tips About Stockpiled Scrapbooking Supplies Part 5

This is the final post of my  multi-part article where I been sharing tips and tidbits concerning stockpiled scrapbooking supplies. I really learned a lot from a very wise crafter who did some amazing mathematical calculations to determine time and use correlations of her craft room supplies to arrive at how long it would take to use up her current supply.  

  •  Did you know that one ABC sticker sheet usually makes only two titles before is is 'cast off' by most scrapbookers? Over half the stickers are then wasting away in binders or storage and clogging up precious storage space--never to be used again. Perhaps using your stickers as shown will give you some relief from the guilt of the previous statement. 

  • Did you know that people will pay $1 each for two punched flowers and a brad or pop dot? (Think Jolees, K and Co, and Paper Bliss) Do it yourself for a fraction of that. It takes only pennies to make a stacked flower from your scraps and chalk the outside petals..... I know you have scraps and brads, eyelets or pop dots! LOL Pay yourself about $20 to $40 an hour and make a few dozen sets instead of buying them.

DYI Paper Flower Tutorial

  • Did you know that stamping your own twill ribbon with phrases saves you $2.00 a yard? How many pre made ribbon yards do you have that you need to use up? Wording ribbon usually works out to 1 foot per page. If you have a stockpile of 20 yards of worded ribbons of all kinds, that means you better get cracking and make 60 pages before you buy more!!
Here are two links for tutorials to try this out. Link 1 Link 2

We've learned quite a lot from our calculator inclined scrapbooking friend but what I like to remember most though is:

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Did You Know?...Tips About Stockpiled Scrapbooking Supplies Part 4

Today as we continue to reveal details in this multi-part article about stockpiled scrapbooking supplies I hope you'll find these facts an figures helpful and perhaps even inspiring. What originally made me think about MY stockpiles of supplies was that I  had come across these figures in a scrapbooking article on a now defunct site a number of years back. It shocked me and made me laugh all at the same time. 

Sweet girlfriends, especially those of you who like to plan and organize, I know you have wondered these thoughts yourself but just did not have the information.These calculations and insights are for all of you sweet girlfriends with the plan and organize bug... Yes I agree, they are truly important. (Because friends share all the juicy details, right?)

  • Did you know that shopping once a week at the scrapbook store costs most scrappers an average of $25.00 each trip? 
(And most of those have enough items at home already to make 1000's of pages.) $25.00 times 52 weeks a year means $ 1300 spent per year.

  • Did you know that sticker letters cost an average of $3-$5 dollars a sheet now? Buy black so that later you can mix and match later your partial sheets for 'mixed font' titles. It will save you at least a dollar a sheet to BUY BLACK! Why? Because you will eventually get more many titles per sheet that way! Hmm so you are not thrilled with black? 

(Well  I'm thinking for those of us who have wanted to justify our purchase (past or present of the electronic cutter, yippie the cost of masses of sticker sheets has made the cutter practically pay for itself, right?!)

Or if you just aren't into the idea of buying an electronic cutter, how about this as a solution to all those orphan stickers.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Did You Know?...Tips About Stockpiled Scrapbooking Supplies Part 3

Have you been following this multi-part series as I reveal the details I learned from a very wise crafter who did some amazing mathematical calculating to determine a time and use correlation for her craft room supplies?  

What made me think about my stockpiles of supplies originally was that I  had come across her very informative (and funny) scrapbooking article from a now defunct site a number of years back. It was all about stockpiling scrapbooking supplies.

I realized scrapbooking is contagious...I caught this bug from my friend Cathy who spread it to many others including my friend Viv and we haven't been able to shake it. Oddly we have caught a second wave of this bug and it manifests as a need to organize all this stuff. We have almost as much fun organizing our "stuff" as we do playing with it.  

  • Did you know that the average gel and writer pen ink longevity INSIDE a pen is one year before it is generally dry or unusable? (Use them up before they DRY up!)

  • Did you know that playing music when you scrapbook helps your creativity and productivity?

  • Did you know that starting with a format saves you 20 minutes PER PAGE?
 A favorite method of mine is to use Trish Morris method called Assembly Line Scrap Booking or ALSB for short. I am able to put together whole albums quickly with her techniques!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Did You Know?...Tips About Stockpiled Scrapbooking Supplies Part 2

Recently I began a multi-part article where I shared some Tips and tidbits about Stockpiled Scrapbooking Supplies. We've all seen our girlfriends craft space and slowly shook our heads thinking how long would be before SHE would run out of supplies. Why would I be contemplating such a thought? Well of course because I want to connect for some shopping therapy! 

What made me think about my stockpiles of supplies originally was that I  had come across this very informative (and funny) scrapbooking article on a now defunct site a number of years back. It was all about stockpiling scrapbooking supplies and OH boy did it have the details. The kind of details that says "hide the credit card" so I thought and I thought to myself don't let my DH see this, he'll veto every visit I plan from now until  the apocalypse. 

But for you my sweet girlfriends, especially those of you who like to plan and organize, I will share the authors calculations and insights (because friends share all the juicy details, right?)

But dear friends, lets be real...over the holidays our favorite stores have amazing sales and of course our families need gift suggestions anyhow, right?  So let's keep all these calculations and wisdom in perspective! 

  • Did you know that one tin/set of 100 eyelets makes and average of 20 pages? (And how many sets of 100 do YOU own?)

  • Did you know that many paper packs and multi sheet slabs usually have 10-20% of their patterns that will not suit you within a pack? (one sheet in 5 may not be to your taste so don't keep it in the stash--share!)

  • Did you know that each sticker sheet you own will do approximately a two page layout? If you have binder full of stickers it will equal about 300 pages to use them up?

  • Did you know that each yard of fiber you own will make 1-2 pages? 

  • If you own a skein of knitting yarn, they contain between 100-200 yards of fiber? At that rate it will take you 100-200 pages of JUST THAT SKEIN to use up that yarn ball on layout pages? SHARE!!