Chocolate Chip Cookies

coffee and cookies or milk and cookies, either way, chocolate chip cookies are one of the all time favorites, easy to make and pure pleasure to eat~

Chocolate Chip Cookies are easy to make and most people love them. I borrowed this recipe from Elizabeth’s cooking site   ‘My Home Cooking’  check it out, some great recipes, and lots of detailed instructions. She built it as a school project eight years ago when she was fifteen and it has been running ever since. This is a simpler version of her cookies but the results are the same. Homemade cookies are great to take on a trip,  then all you need is to find a Starbucks~)

                                       Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 c Crisco shortening
1 stick real butter
1 1/4 c white sugar
1 14 c brown sugar
1 T vanilla
2 eggs
4 c flour
2 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
12 oz.pkg semisweet chocolate chips 
1 c toasted pecans, chopped coarsely*
Cream Crisco, butter and sugars together, beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, and eggs and beat again until completely mixed. In another bowl, combine flour, soda and salt until well mixed. Mixing at low speed, add the flour a few tablespoons at a time to the cookie dough, stopping several times to scrape down sides of bowl. Now you can add the chocolate chips and toasted pecans and stir well. (if you freeze the chocolate chips first, they will hold together in the cookies and won’t turn the cookie a brown color)
Using an ice cream scoop or table spoon, place dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet with room between  and bake in 350 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then remove with spatula onto a wire rack and cool completely. *to toast pecans, place on paper plate, microwave one minute, stir and microwave another 30 seconds, watch that they don’t scorch~

Fitness and Fun

there are stair climbers and treadmills, bicycles, and machines for upper body strength

One December morning it was wet and cold and I was getting my exercise, doing my usual jogging/walking down the road, not too bad until I turned around and started home facing the wind. There was a little sleet hitting my face and my hands were cold.  Before I got back home I decided I could go to the wellness center and sign up for a month or two and try that. It has been almost three years now. I can go do 45 minutes, the temperature is always perfect, the treadmill  does cross- country, hills and flats, I pick my speed  then there is a five minute cool down, all the while I can close my eyes and plan my day, it is perfect. 

This room is for weight training and the zumba dancing, they get pretty noisy in here~

They also have Zumba classes and I tried those a couple of times, even bought me one of those blingy things you tie around your hips. It was an hour of intense exercise~ the best part was the last five minutes when the lights went down low and we swayed to the sweet sound of Amazing Grace. Anyway, I didn’t feel too good the next day so I gave my blingie away and am happy with the treadmill. I will show some Zumba pictures in another blog later on. 

running hard, jogging, walking, you pick your speed.

This is more intense than the treadmill, it makes you huff and puff~

 

Cat Lady

this is Buttermilk, staying cool on the porch when it was so hot a few weeks ago.

Meet Buttermilk, she is a kitty that came up when she was a little thing and would not leave. I would see her out by the windmill and she would stay still so I wouldn’t notice her. (every time I walked by, I would tell her to Go Home!) Well, she liked it here and wasn’t afraid of me. 

she likes the little chair on the porch, I like her~she is a fine cat

She had kittens somewhere, I only got to know one. He was black and white, marked almost identically on each side, I named him Domino. 

Domino is a beautiful cat, he won’t let me hold him but he will let me touch his nose and that is our bonding each day~

I caught him in a live trap and took them both to have them fixed. Then they stayed on the screened porch for several weeks while they recovered and he got more tame.

here is Mamie cooling off in the bird bath, she is a sweet one. 

I also have Mammie, the garage kitty who came up and had her kittens in the Model T. She was gentle to start with. When I found homes for her five babies, I had her fixed. Now I don’t need any more cats.

she is named Squaline because she has the loudest and scratchiest meow you can imagine. There is a black cat and a Siamese that come to eat with her now~

There are several in the pasture and I take food down to them, away from the house at 5:30 every day. This is Squaline, half her tail is gone, from something that happened before I knew her. She is a feisty little thing and will hiss and scratch me if I try to pet her, but she comes running toward the car when she sees me. Soon, I will catch her and get her fixed. Dan was the one who loved cats, I was strictly a dog lover. Cats liked him because he sat in the yard and smoked his cigar and they would stay in his lap. Since he has been gone, I have learned to love cats too, probably since I am responsible for them. I have gotten to really know them. They are beautiful animals, they come in all colors and designs. They can live to an age of 20 or more years.  

Old Fashioned Potato Soup

this is a satisfying meal, beautiful to look at and delicious, I use low fat milk and it is still creamy tasting~

This is a summer meal my mother fixed sometimes for supper. We all liked it, even Daddy enjoyed it although he was steak and potatoes man.  It made a pretty table with all the colorful vegetable. A sip of soup, a bite of radish, then a sip of soup and a bite of cheese~ on and on. The summer sausage was extra good with it.  I serve it every so often when the kids come on Sundays, it is easy to have after church since it can all be ready in advance, I just have to heat up the soup. The vegetable platter has pickled okra, black and green olives, cheese cubes, radishes, green onions, cherry tomatoes, green and colored peppers, carrots, and cucumbers. You can just put together any vegetables you like. I also serve it with little whole grain crackers. Don’t forget to ask the blessing, we all have so much to be thankful for. 

Irish Potato Soup
3 T real butter
1/2 c chopped onion
6 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 c water
2 tsp salt
2 1/2 c hot milk
1/2 c cold milk
1 egg yolk
crisp fried bacon and cilantro for garish
Melt butter in heavy pan, add onions and cook a few minutes
until tender. Add potatoes, water and salt, cover with lid and 
cook just until tender. (Take out 1 cup of the cooked potatoes
and save to add to the soup before serving). Mash the rest of the potatoes in the liquid, add hot milk and stir well. Combine half cup of
cold milk and beaten egg yolk, mix well, and slowly add to the warm soup,stirring constantly. Reheat soup but don’t let it boil. (at this point add  the cup of potatoes that you saved back) Pour into bowls,
top with crisp bacon, course ground pepper and a sprig of
cilantro. This recipe makes 6 or 8 servings~

West Texas Sky

I love clouds and I love stars. Since we have clear skies at night, the stars are always out, it is one thing that has never changed in all my life.

We had a nice rain last week, it is clear today and feeling like fall. I have a busy weekend so this is the blog for today, either this or another doll story~this may be what is known as “coasting”. Anyway, we are happy for the cool rainy weather. Thank you for checking out my blog~

Barns and Snakes

this scene was just right for painting, I didn’t have to change a thing in the one I painted.

I have several beautiful photographs of old barns in West Virginia to show you today. Every one would make a good subject for a painting. All of these barns look like they have been here forever. You wonder how they survived termites and weather.  Barns immediately remind me of snakes, there are many varieties in this area but only two are venomous  and dangerous to humans, the Timber Rattlesnake and  the Northern Copperhead. I couldn’t believe the green pastures. everything was lush with vegetation, a refreshing sight. Just a beautiful part of the country. Here in West Texas, a barn is a perfect place for rattlesnakes, some barns are out on remote ranches and no one goes around them for months at a time, so there is nothing to disturbed the snakes. We could almost always find one at Hulldale. It is interesting to look in a barn, there is a feel to them, especially an old one, a little scary too~

this barn had a lot of interesting fences and lush pasture around it, it was another big one. The countryside in West Virginia had lots of barn, most of them were old.

a barn built on the side of a hill, you wonder how they got it level

this was an interesting old gate, it looks like the path had washed away, there is a small barn up there somewhere.

this one is in good shape, it is a little different from most of them and  it was huge

this barn needed a little work

 

Angelo State University Folk Festival

 

this is a special photograph for me, sitting behind me were my mother Elizabeth Elder and my little cousin Carroll Morgan, both flew away to heaven within a year~

I was invited to exhibit and demonstrate oil painting at the ASU Folk Festival in February of 1973. I met a lot of people and also saw many familiar faces. I liked the demonstrations, everyone was happy and full of chatter, they enjoyed watching and many of them were also painters. I had my miniature covered wagon and all the little rooms on display so if anyone wasn’t interested in painting, they liked to look at the little things. The famous wood carver, Gene Zesch was also exhibiting his wonderful carvings, he carves old cowboys and anything to do with ranch life, with much skill and unbelievable humor.  I was in good company that day, it is a sweet memory for me~

Miss Piggy and Kermit

she looked pretty happy with him today, it was either lavishing him with kisses or throwing him across the room

When I bought Miss Piggy and Kermit in 1977, she was a hand puppet. She had a big vinyl hollow head, (no body) and the famous elbow length lavender gloves with matching dress.  I had planned from the start to make her into a doll. I made her a soft body, she felt cuddly and nice to hold.

it was fun making the shoes, they were pretty tall wedges.

 

I carved some platform wedge sandals and added satin straps. (They are in style now) Then I made her a long formal satin evening jacket.

A girl likes some bling

Of course she needed jewels so she had  several stands of pearls, a pearl and gold filigree broach and a tiara for her hair.

here he is in his tux, his character seemed to be a happy go lucky guy

 

 

Kermit was just a green frog so I made him a Tuxedo with a pleated shirt, pearl buttons and a cummerbund. I knew it would be what Miss Piggy would want. These two characters have lived at my house, and lived in Sonora, then San Angelo and finally are back with me. (They were Christmas presents that we passed back and forth). They are both in perfect shape, even after 35 years.  We watched the Muppet Shows on TV for several years~ Miss Piggy and Kermit were our favorite characters. I loved those shows. Jim Henson, the famous puppeteer who created the Muppets died in 1990 at age 53.

Spaying and Neutering Pets

Getting a dog spayed is what a responsible person does. The world doesn’t need two litters of puppies from their dog every year to add to the pet population. So many precious dogs end up in the pound and don’t find a home. Most of our pets have either come from the pound or were abandoned on our road.

this was the day after Spook got fixed, she was in pain and miserable, I felt terrible for her, it made me cry~

This is Spook, I have written about her before because she was such a fine little dog, she made me happy for almost 19 years. The day we found her on the Mertzon road was in early 1980. The following week I took her to Sonora to have her fixed. It was a horrible experience, she was miserable for several days, she was in so much pain. 

Spook turned into the sweetest and happiest little dog ever, she was the perfect one

She recovered and didn’t seem to dwell on her first days at her new home. Later, when we took our dogs  to have them fixed, the procedure was easy and they didn’t seem to suffer any pain.

Schatzie was a baby girl from the pound, she helped drive home after her surgery

 

(Dan and Debbie had Schatzie fixed at Ronnie’s and she sat up in his lap going home and helped him drive the pickup, same with Kobi, he helped with the driving.) 

 

 

here is Kobi with Missy, he was straight out of the pound that day, what a little prize!

the only trama with Jitter Joe was my fault, I am so so sorry Sweetie~

Now with Jitter Joe, it was 8 years ago and I had an appointment with Ronnie to get him fixed and decided to ‘shave’ him myself because he was used to me and didn’t mind me grooming or working on him. In a little while, he started scooting on the carpet and licking himself and I saw that he was all red and irritated where I had done my thing. It got so bad, I called Ronnie’s office to see what I should do and they said to put antibiotic cream on him. Poor baby! I took him the next day to get fixed and they were rolling their eyes up there, inside his whole hindquarter, shaved slick. When I brought him home, I saw that they only had to make a tiny half inch incision in his abdomen and all the shaving I had done was for nothing. Anyway, the good thing is that spaying and neutering doesn’t cause our pets any distress, they are just a little sleepy  afterwards. At church the next Sunday, Scott McGregor told me he had heard the story about ‘my dog’~  word got around~  

Family Dinners

this is one of Debbie’s fabulous dinners, she always makes enough for everyone to take plates home for the next day

Debbie is a wonderful cook, I am always amazed at the size of her bowl of potato salad. She fixes special dinners for our family, she has Christmas Eve supper, then the big Christmas dinner, and the 4th of July get together. Anna does Easter and other special dinners throughout the year. I mostly cook Sunday dinners after church. Anyway, we are ”sit down at the table together people”. Today I thought I would show you one of our meals at Dan’s and Debbie’s. Elizabeth was getting ready to go back to Africa so this was a goodbye party too. There were 10 of us there. Debbie had smoked a pulled pork all night, and cooked all good things to go with it. This is just one of her usual company meals. She can put it all together, we eat on time and sit down to a beautiful table.

all kinds of desserts, something good with coffee later

I brought the pies, Stacy brought a cake, Tricia had the cantaloupe, Anna brought things out of the green house. No matter who is cooking the meal, we always have homemade hot rolls, lots of them. There is music later, Tricia plays the piano, Mark brings his guitar and sings to us and  sometimes I do my Mexican songs. What fun. When the boys are sitting on the patio later, they remember Daddy, this was his favorite time, a good meal and then to smoke his cigar and visit with the boys~

Homemade Corn Tortillas

You make the balls of dough the size of golf balls, don’t worry if they are a little ragged on the edges, they are home made, not machine stamped~

Home made corn tortillas are not necessary for good Mexican Food but they are delicious and fun to make. They have a real corn flavor, more like the ones you get in Old Mexico. The masa is pure ground corn flour, that’s it.

press it flat, you will learn how hard to press after a couple of times

I have had a tortilla press forever, I have bought them in Mexico for other family members and friends. You can find them on e-bay, priced $8.00 and up. You want a cast iron press, 7 inch size. Or you can roll your tortillas out with a rolling pin. Put the ball of dough between two one gallon size plastic bags, roll it thin, then peel the plastic back and lay it in the skillet.

it is ready to lay into med. hot skillet, 30 seconds on each side, then stack and keep covered

I realize not everyone has as much spare time to do these things but for those who do, it is worth it. (Now the press isn’t for flour tortillas, you need to roll those with a rolling pin). I just finished eating six tortillas, I have certainly enjoyed making this blog~

at this point, they are like store bought ones, they are not ready to eat. Never just  heat in a microwave, you need to soft fry them, that is the secret of great tortillas and great Mexican Food, remember, to soft fry first!

     Corn Tortillas
2 c Masa Harina  or Corn Flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/8 c water
Mix flour, salt and most of the water for about 3 minutes. Add more water a little a time until it is firm but not sticky. Unlike pie dough, you can’t hurt it by overworking.
Divide into 16 pieces, form each piece into a ball, golf ball size and lay on wax paper.
Flatten slightly with hand and using a tortilla press. place between two heavy pieces of plastic. (I use two gallon size bags). A little dusting of the flour helps keep them from sticking) If you don’t have a press, you can use a rolling pin. Carefully peel off top plastic, lay tortilla in your hand and peel off the bottom piece of plastic. Flip out of your hand into the med hot ungreased cast iron skillet and cook for 30 seconds on each side. Continue until all are cooked. These should now be soft fried. To soft fry. put a small amount of oil in skillet, med hot for, about 6 seconds on each side. Pat grease off on paper towels. These are better than any corn tortillas you can buy, they have a real corn flavor because you use fresh masa. You can hard fry them by using more oil and cooking longer. I don’t hard fry mime, there are so many good corn chips out there, I use those for my nachos etc.

Texas Prickly Pear

when the pasture is thick with pear, you have to choose your path carefully or you will end up with ankles full of tiny painful thorns and stickers

prickly pear fruit  is filled with seeds and covered in more of those annoying stickers

Prickly pear is a thorn in a landowner’s side. The problem is they can take over a pasture in a few short years, they are almost impossible to get rid of. It takes constant work. Hot dry weather doesn’t faze them. One leaf can drop and start growing roots immediately. They have long needle like thorns and under those are hair like stickers that catch hold if you brush up against them~ hard to get out of your skin.

They are quiet beautiful, the petals are  like tissue paper~

The other side of this cactus is that in the spring they have beautiful yellow blooms, with delicate petals~almost like an orchard. 

all of this prickly pear is in the pasture behind my house, I know they are not desirable but I love them in secrete~

During drought ranchers can use a pear burner to get rid of the thorns and stickers and end up with clean thick green leaves that the cattle love. If you are burning pear the cattle hear the roar of the burner and come running to eat it even while it is still hot. (The first modern burner was invented by a man named John Blackwell in Moore, Texas in 1914, it was an improvement over the ‘rag soaked in kerosene on a stick method’) When you are walking through the pasture, you pick your path carefully to try to avoid the cactus and watch out for rattlesnakes.