Summer Sweet Pickles

Have I ever found the best recipe for sweet pickles!!!! And it all starts with dill pickles – yes, I said dill pickles. These are the most wonderful tasting pickles and easy? Oh my yes!

Sweet Pickle FixinsThe ingredients are simple and probably in your pantry already. Start with Kosher dill pickles, sugar, distilled white vinegar, water and pickling spice.

Drain a large 64 ounce jar of Kosher dill pickles and slice into 1/4″ pieces.

Pickle SlicesPlace in a bowl with 2 cups of sugar. Stir, cover and stand at room temperature for 6-8 hours or overnight.

Sugared PicklesIn a medium saucepan, mix together 2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup of vinegar, 1/2 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of pickling spice wrapped in a square of cheesecloth. Bring to a boil.

Sweet Pickle PotPour over the pickles and allow to stand at room temperature for 6-8 hours or overnight.

Transfer pickles to sterile jars and store in refrigerator.

Sweet Pickle JarsYou absolutely will not be able to make enough of these to keep up with the demand – they are that good! Try them! You’ll see!

Advertisements

The Blue Pantry Door

Every pantry has a door, right? Well, some don’t but most do. Some have a solid door, some a hollow door and some a slatted door. My pantry is special. It has a screen door. Yes, a screen door!

IMG_0867

I’ve wanted a wonderful pantry for many years. Finally, I had the inside just right and it was time for a unique door. What is more unique than a screen door?

I looked long and hard for an old screen door, but because the pantry entrance is narrow (28”) I never could find one. I then looked for a new door I could make old looking.

I found the most beautiful little Victorian screen door that fits the opening perfectly. Then I roughed it up a bit with a hammer to make it look used.

IMG_0819

 

IMG_0818I painted the door crudely with three different colors of paint to simulate years of repainting. Between each layer, I sanded different areas where normal wear would occur, such as around the knob. The last color of paint was blue, which is the color of the kitchen.

.IMG_0825

 

IMG_0827IMG_0828After painting, I covered the entire door with an antiquing glaze to basically make it look old and a bit dirty. I applied the glaze and rubbed it off with a dry rag. The technique worked very well.

IMG_0865

Then the screening had to be applied. Who knew there were different colors of screening? I chose a dark bronze, which looks old (not shiny) and somewhat opaque. I wanted to be able to see through the screen but not have it look shiny and new. One really dark screen color I thought I might like, ended making the door look like it belonged in the Addams family home – it really looked a bit creepy. The one I finally chose, the dark bronze, ended up looking the best.

IMG_0868

The cherry on the cake is the handle. I found an old silver serving spoon and bent it to use as a handle. I attached it with screws and it looks very charming.

IMG_0866

Now my pantry is so cute inside and out. I love it! Lights on or lights off it looks adorable. Every time I walk in the room it makes me happy. No more can be asked of any pantry.

 

 

 

Easter S’mores

S’mores are wonderful any time of year. But I discovered these for Easter that are so cute, I had to share.

The ingredients are the same as any S’more: marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker. The difference for the season is the marshmallow – substitute a little Peep for the regular big white one. How sweet is that? IMG_0592Make the chocolate a single serving bar and package it all up in a small baggie. What a nice change from the usual egg. Enjoy!!
IMG_0595Happy Easter to everyone!!

Overnight At Granny’s

“Finally”, my 7 year old grandson Mac says. “Finally, I get to spend the night at your new house.”

“I know”, says I. “Why has it taken so long?”

“I don’t know.” he replies. “I just don’t know.”

Well, I’m not quite sure either, but it probably has something to do with not being able to find sheets for the bed, not having a functional kitchen for months and not being able to walk through the house due to towering columns of boxes. You know, moving issues! We’ve had them for several months. Yuck!

But now, things seem to be improving. I have a stove! Yeah! The washer and dryer work! Yeah! There are pathways throughout the house! Yeah! So I’m ready for grandchildren to come for sleepovers! Yeah!

Having a kiddo spend the night is so much fun for Gramps and me. We love spending one-on-one time with each child. The conversations, the sharing, the snuggling, it’s all special and unique with each child each time.

When Mac comes over, he first makes all the requisite visits with Gramps to the camper, the truck, the garage, the backyard – all the boy places. The two of them have imaginary games they play each time in each area. For example – while in the truck, they pretend they are driving to an imaginary town they have named “Noodle, Texas”. They talk about what they see, the road they are on, who will be there when they arrive. They laugh and carry on like two old friends. Then it’s off to the camper for the imaginary camping and fishing time. And on and on until all the familiar places have been visited and enjoyed. It’s all great fun! It happens every time! And no girls allowed!

We always try to spend some time outside with Mac when possible. That can be construction work in the sand box, gardening (he has his own tools!) or simply walking around the neighborhood observing whatever might be happening.

Mac loves to cook, so he is a big helper in the kitchen. Of course, we try to have his favorites for dinner and he always sets the table for us. What a sweet boy!

After dinner is LEGO time or maybe a board game. Whatever it is, we are usually on the floor with Mac – lots of touching, giggling, smiling and high fives!

Before going to bed, there’s shower, brushing teeth, PJs and don’t forget, reading time. Gramps has read to Mac at bedtime since he was a baby and even though he can now read for himself, he still loves being read to. So three books, four funny voices and two snuggly bodies later, it’s off to bed.

First thing next morning, Mac and Gramps are in the kitchen together, in their pajamas, making applesauce pancakes. It’s a longstanding tradition, not to be broken. Usually, they make more than enough pancakes, so we eat them all day long!

Having all these special activities , special foods and special routines is what makes sleepovers so fun. These things only happen at our house with us and become special because of their rarity and uniqueness.

Gramps and I adore these times because we have the kiddo’s full attention and desire to be with us. The conversations can be amazing! The cuddling is heavenly! And we are all relaxed. No one is leaving in an hour. We have lots of time to just “be” together. That’s the best of all!

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

This has got to be the most decadent comfort food I have ever seen! It is a bowl of scrumptious warmth with healing properties and taste from your childhood, all at the same time. It started out as a recipe from The Amish Cook that I tweaked a bit. Enjoy!!

  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 6 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 6 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup chopped cooked chicken
  • 4 oz. fettucine noodles
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • salt
  • pepper

Melt the margarine in a 2 quart saucepan over low heat. Blend in the flour. Dissolve the bouillon cubes in the boiling water and gradually add to the flour and margarine mixture. Stir until smooth. Add the chicken and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook noodles to al dente and add to mixture. Stir in the half-and-half. Season with salt and pepper.

This serves 4-6 people. Add a piece of toasted chunky sourdough bread and you have a wonderful meal for a cool evening. It’s even better reheated but I bet you will not have any leftovers!

The Taste of Summer

Summer foods – love them! Watermelon, ice cream, sno-cones, green salads, lemonade, fresh corn, popsicles. Fresh, crispy and cool. The taste of summer. Ahhh!

The months of June, July and August are warm. Here in Texas, they are HOT, HOTTER AND HOTTEST. So we tend to want cool invigorating meals when the temperatures rise. And I’m always looking for new fresh foods and recipes to try.

With the wedding at the beach and planning for numerous meals to share with large groups, I was especially mindful of appropriate snacks, dishes and drinks. I found 2 recipes that were great hits and thought I would share them with you. One is a snack cracker and the other is a wonderful version of Sangria.

Enjoy my Sweeties!

MADELYN’S SIMPLY MARVELOUS RETREAT SNACK CRACKERS

3 sleeves unsalted crackers

1 package dry Zesty Italian dressing

1 package dry Ranch dressing

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1 1/4 cup canola oil

Put crackers in airtight container or jar. Mix together all other ingredients and pour over crackers. Turn container every 30 minutes for 4 hours. Serve.

SUMMER WHITE SANGRIA

1/2 pound strawberries, sliced thin

1 apple, diced small

1cup fruit of choice, cut up as needed

mint leaves, optional

1-2 bottles Chardonnay

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup club soda

1 cup white grape juice

In large pitcher, layer fruit and sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes. Add club soda first, then remaining liquids. Fill pitcher with wine. Stir and serve.

Memories Of Pie

I am in the process of saying goodbye to my house – the house that Gramps and I designed and built 23 years ago. We have loved this house very much. It has been a perfect fit every day of those 23 years and leaving it is not easy. But leaving it is what we are doing.

So I am letting go and saying goodbye to special parts of this loved house. The parts that hold the most memories and bring back the most remarkable thoughts of gatherings, laughter, fun and family. Like the dining room and breakfast room, where family meals of all types and sizes have occurred. I’ll take all those memories with me. In fact, our next house must have a dining room big enough for future family gatherings and future memory making events.

One very special piece of the house I must say goodbye to is the marble square set into the kitchen countertop. It has been the best pie crust making spot I’ve ever had and one of my best ideas when building this house.

My love of pies and pie making came from my mother, who was a baker of all things wonderful and sweet. The holidays for her were just one big excuse to bake – anything, everything, for everyone. She made cakes, breads, pies, cookies – even candy! And then gave it all away! A truly remarkable woman!

However, I did not learn to make pies from Mother. I was not very interested in domestic crafts growing up and then she died at a relatively young age. So I remember her pie making but learned pie making later in life on my own. But lucky me – I inherited her pie crust recipe! So somehow, it all came full circle.

Every time I made pies, especially during the holidays, I would be rolling out the dough on the marble slab and thinking about Mother. Always – thinking about her, missing her, talking to her, catching her up on all of the family gossip. It just all went together – pie, dough, marble, Mother. Now, after 23 years, I only have to see the marble slab and I think of my mother.

The marble slab will not be going to the new house but all the warm, cozy memories will. And I certainly plan to have a special spot to make pies in my new place. It will be different but special in its own way.

I sure hope the new owners of our home enjoy the marble as much as I have. I hope they make a bunch of wonderful memories for their family and when the time comes, they have a hard time saying goodbye too.

As an added treat, I’ve included Mother’s pie crust recipe. It’s different than any I’ve seen and I think it’s terrific. Her name was Peggy and she would love the idea of sharing her recipe with all of you, my Sweeties. Enjoy!

PEGGY’S PIE DOUGH

2 cups flour                          1/2 cup cold water

1 cup shortening                 pinch salt

Combine flour and shortening until crumbly. Add water and salt until just combined. Chill for at least 1-2 hours or overnight. Then divide, roll out on floured surface and place in pie dish. Makes 3 – 9″ pie crusts or 2 – 10″ pie crusts. For prebaked pie, bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

(Pie dough must be cold when used. Since this is made with shortening instead of butter, it must be chilled.)