Sunday, December 29, 2013

Smitten by the Mitten

Lake Michigan, Manistee, Michigan

This is my home for the next month!

Not this spot actually but I will be visiting with my sister and her family who live in this town until the end of January when hubby comes back to pick me up.

The wind was wicked cold today, I had to hurry up and take this pic because the wind was spitting tiny snow pellets into my face and camera lens.  I'm thrilled with the way this pic came out.  Those waves were slapping the shore so loud and so hard.

Downtown Manistee, Michigan - a lovely Victorian town

We are testing ourselves to see how much we can handle these N. Michigan winters for our possible move up here.  So far . . . so good.

Hubby is in heaven.  Since he grew up in upstate NY, he's used to these type of winters, where there's snow all winter.

They do a very good job here in Manistee in clearing the roads.  You can't tell that there's a lot of snow on the ground with this picture.

This is how most of the city looked like today, covered in snow.

This is a ritzy section of Manistee.  These are some homes with a view of Lake Michigan.

The wind was still blowing hard as we took a drive around our tribe's reservation.

We had a wonderful turkey meal at my sister's home.  As we waited they gave me a glass of water with these ice cubes in the shape of the state of Michigan.  Aren't they adorable??

Needless to say, I am, "smitten by the mitten"

Savoring every moment . . . . -Bev

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Meal - Stuffed Crown Roast of Pork

Chestnut and Pear Stuffing:

Extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 Spanish onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 fennel bulb, cut into 1/4-inch dice
Kosher salt
4 sprigs rosemary, picked and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
8 ounces peeled chestnuts, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup dried cranberries
4 Anjou pears, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 cups dry white wine
12 cups cubed crustless, stale sourdough or peasant bread
4 cups chicken stock, warmed

I made the sourdough stuffing bread crumbs a few days ahead of time as it needs time to dry and get stale.
I bought two packages of six sourdough rolls and cut them up.

Placed in a large cookie sheet covered in olive oil.  Spread out and bake in 350F pre-heated oven until browned 10-14 minutes.

Remove from pan and cool.  Place in a container or baggie, set aside.

On medium heat, cook the bacon until all the fat has rendered and it's crispy.  Add the celery, onions, garlic, rosemary and fennel.  Sprinkle with salt, stir and cook until the vegetables are tender, 7-10 minutes.

Add the cranberries, chestnuts and stir.  Isn't this a festive looking part of the stuffing?  So pretty :)

Stir in the pears and then add the white wine, let it reduce to half.  Place the bread crumbs into a large bowl, add the veggie mixture and half of the stock. 

Place in a baking dish reserving enough for the center of the roast crown of pork.  Bake in 350 for half hour, until topping is browned.  On a side note, my son offered some constructive criticism and said the bread should have been a bit more crispier.  I should have brown them some more on a lower heat and for a longer time.  I will take that into consideration next time I make stuffing from scratch.

Here is my Crown Roast of Pork, just the way Fresh Market gave it to me.  I did remove the apple before I stuffed the roast.

Combine the following ingredients for an eight-to-nine-pound crown roast of pork:
Salt and freshly ground pepper
5 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Grated zest of 1 orange
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup of white wine
2-4 cups of chicken broth

 Preheat oven to 425F degrees.
Place the roast on rack inside roasting pan.  Stuff the cavity with a cup and a half of stuffing.  Rub the buttery garlic sauce in and around all over the roast.  Sprinkle with a generous portion of salt and pepper.  Cover each pork bone with a piece of foil.  Pour 2 cups of broth and the cup of wine in roasting pan.  Place roast in preheated oven and bake for 1/2 hour.  Reduce heat to 320F degrees and bake for 2 1/2 hours.  Remove from oven when done and cover with foil and let sit for 25 minutes before serving. Make gravy from leftover juice liquids left in pan.

Place on a serving dish, drizzle with pan gravy and dress with chop frills. 


Everybody got an extra goody on their plate (a N. France tradition) thanks to our family in upstate NY.

I bought six large plates of Charter Club Dinnerware, Holly Berry Collection
plus two smaller plates, my favorite pattern from Macy's.  They were on sale and that's all I wanted at the time.  In the future I will get a few more matching pieces one at a time.  

This was the first time I ever cooked a Crown Roast of anything.  I was a little anxious at first but what I usually do in this situation is just take one step at a time.

It looked great when it came out of the oven and even better when placed on the table.  My husband and son thought it was DELICIOUS, the best yet.  I on the other hand was a little disappointed.  My piece was dry with no taste and didn't understand why they were so happy with it.  What we came to find out was that they were eating pork closest to the bone.  They were practically devouring it.  When I had a piece like theirs I felt the same way.  The dressing was also a hit with them, I wasn't crazy about it.  Perhaps the bread should have been a little more drier and crispier and a little more savory.  It was a treat to have for leftovers and most of it is all gone this day after Christmas.

We had a wonderful time with family, especially the grandkids who happen to make Christmas morning a lot of fun.  We are so blessed! 

Happy blessed New Year to you and yours!

Bev and family

Sunday, December 15, 2013

JOY in my Painted Bookshelves

These twin shelves belonged to my mother-in-law.  I longed admired them for several decades.  She brought them down with her when she moved into her apt. and then a year or so later, brought them when she moved in with us.  We first put them on both sides of our fireplace and there they stayed for a couple of years full of a multitude of photo albums.

This is the paint and color I chose.  Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP) in Old White.

No stripping.  No sanding.  That's why ASCP is so popular!

Here they are after the first coat.  Another fun thing about ASCP, is it dries in minutes!!  Seriously!

First time I've used the whole can of ASCP on a project.  I'm convinced it's because I used white on a dark color.  I was able to paint three coats.

No more paint to paint underneath the shelves but I wasn't planning to.  Hubby said I should have.  What do you think?

This was the following day.  Grand-daughter was inspecting and she agrees with Gpa.

and here she is lecturing me about needing to paint underneath the shelves, not a good view from where she stands! ;)  "I ran out of paint boss, what was I to do?"

So anyway, after she left with her mommy, I decided to wax the bookshelves with Annie Sloan Clear Wax.  Just dip the brush into the wax, don't need to grab a lot.

 In a circular motion, brush on the wax.  Here I covered about 12 x 18".

With a clean cotton rag, rub in the wax.  I bought a pkg. of XXL 100% white cotton t-shirts, they come in very handy for this procedure.

and they're done!  I can't wait to put them back in their original spots in the living room.

I made a JOY banner with vintage sheet music I downloaded off the internet.  I got the idea from Ella Claire.  Check out the rest of her banners by clicking here.  Instead of putting Gma's photo albums back on the shelves, I placed  wrapped pkgs. pine cones, and any other rustic items I could find as well as our Nativity set.  I was only able to put one bookshelf back in it's place.  I'll put the other one back later on this week.

A close-up of a pkg. and homemade tag.

Do you know the acrostic for the word JOY?
J = Jesus
O = Others
Y= You

and in that order

 Before and after photo.

Hope you're having a blessed and wonderful Christmas season.  Remember to savor every moment!

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Lemon Snowballs

1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
1 tbsp. Meyer lemon zest
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
Confectioner's sugar

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar and egg until well blended.  Add lemon juice and lemon zest.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; stir into creamed mixture.  Add almonds.

Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Remove from refrigerator and roll into 1-in. balls.  Place on ungreased baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned (cookies will not brown on top).  Remove immediately to wire racks; cool for 5 minutes, then roll in confectioners' sugar.

If you look real close, my snowballs sorta flattened.  I'm not sure why but I believe the reason is 1) I over softened the butter by melting it too much.  2) and because of that, I should've let the dough set overnight but I didn't because I'm impatient.  Either way, these crunchy little cookies were delicious, lemony, buttery and my favorite thus far this holiday season.

Have a great week and in the meantime, savor every moment!

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