Pasta Dumplings Lasagna

this is a 20 minute meal, you only use two pans and a big spoon. I like lasagna but it takes a lot of time, this one is every bit as delicious. It is enough for six people and left overs~

I have a little secret about taking pictures of food for the blog. One recipe doesn’t always make a table full, it might seem a little skimpy so like on the lasagna, I turned a cereal bowl upside down in the bottom of the pot and poured the dumplings on top of that, then it makes it look like it is a heaping pot full. If the bread basket doesn’t look full, I put a wad of paper towels under the napkins and pile the bread on top. If I am going to show pictures of the food, I want it to look as generous as it really is.

This is a recipe ZZ sent me from Kenya. This morning I am going to make a batch of it for the freezer, it is absolutely wonderful. (one plate for me and 7 plates for the freezer). It makes a lot. It is easy to make and takes about 20 minutes.

Pasta Dumplings Lasagna
12. oz. package of pasta dumplings or bowtie pasta
1 lb very lean ground meat
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 T olive oil
1 large carton cottage cheese, put in strainer and run water
over it to get milky stuff off, drain
8 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 can med. black olives drained
Put the pasta in 10 cups of boiling water and 1 tsp salt, cook just until tender~ drain.
Brown meat, seasoning, garlic powder, salt and olive oil in wok or big
pan until done, about 10 minutes.
Pour spaghetti sauce on meat, get it hot then add cottage cheese,
mozzarella cheese, cooked pasta, and olives. Stir carefully with
big spoon until mixed and heated through.
Serve with sliced cucumbers or a vegetable salad.

Shish-K-Bobs

this is a picture of the meat and vegetables strung on a skewer, ready for the broiler. If you crowd them a little, they will stay put when your turn them and not roll over, don’t over cook, you want them tender~

A few days ago, I put Pinto Beans on my blog and for less that $10, there were enough beans and tortillas, cantaloupe and iced tea for 6 people. (some left for the freezer too) Today I want to show you my Shish-K-Bobs. This is a great company dinner. I served them with Armenian rice, cantaloupe, homemade French bread, and for dessert, I made a cherry cobbler with ice cream. My kids come for church and dinner on Sundays, so there were five of us~My grocery bill for  this meal  was $66. (gulp) It takes sirloin steak, lamb, red and green bell peppers, mushrooms, and a few other things. Give yourself plenty of time, it takes some preparation. You can cut up the meat, vegetables, and the cantaloupe the day before, and have all of this in the refrigerator.

I got the skewers 50 years ago, If you don’t have any, go buy them. You will want at least 10. This recipe makes enough for dinner and left overs, I always cook enough so that everyone takes a plate home for supper

 It makes a wonderful meal and is something everyone looks forward to. I call this my Greek Dinner. Anyway, I hope you will try it some time if you have an unexpected windfall~

The nutty flavor of the wine , the curry and the grated onion,makes this something you will remember. The vegetables stay crisp and the lamb and steak are tender from having been marinaded for hours..

Shish-K-Bobs

 2 to 3 lbs sirloin steak
1 lb lamb chops
6 slices thick sliced bacon
2 pkg mushrooms
3 green bell peppers
2 red pimento peppers
6 Roma tomatoes, quartered (or 20 cherry tomatoes)
2 onions, cut in quarters and separated
cut loin and lamb into 1 1/2 inch  cubes
cut vegetables  in nice size chunks
Marinade
1 large grated onion
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup Canola oil
Place meat in large bowl, cover with marinade and refrigerate 12 hours or overnight, stirring several times. String meat, mushrooms and vegetables on skewers, in the same order on each one until everything is used. Drizzle any marinade left in the bowl over the shish-k-bobs. Broil in oven, 4 inches from burner. Turn after 5 minutes, then turn twice more until all sides are cooked, watch carefully and don’t over cook then. Place skewers on platter, scrape up juices left in pan,  heat and serve it in a small pitcher.
Armenian Rice
 4 cups rice
1 stick real butter
1/2 tsp celery seeds
1 1/2 tsp salt
8 cups hot chicken broth with about 1/4 cup of white wine. 
In 4 qt pan, brown rice in butter with salt and celery seeds, stir constantly until rice starts to brown,  add heated chicken broth, (careful, it will spatter when you put it in the hot rice) put tight lid on and leave for 20 to 25 minutes on med heat.

Fried Okra Salad

Here is my blog from over a year ago. I just wonder how many have actually tried this recipe for Fried Okra Salad. I am giving you another chance. It is absolutely one of the best dishes in the world. Easy too, it is OK to get frozen Okra that has been already breaded and ready to fry. It cooks up in a few minutes so cut up the onions and tomatoes first so they will be ready when the okra is done. I still go for the pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy for a wonderful meal. I like thin cut pork chops with the ‘bone in’, they are done in a few minutes and tender and crisp.

something special about the crunchy okra, fresh tomatoes and onions. All time favorite!

This may be your favorite once you try it. My mother got this recipe at least 75 years ago from Beulah Kerr. It has been a family favorite for four generations. Simply delicious! It is especially good with summer time meals~pork chops, mashed potatoes, fresh green beans and  pickled beets~

Crunchy Fried Okra Salad  

1 pkg. sliced frozen okra   ( Or buy frozen cut okra that has been breaded, then you can put it right  in the skillet still frozen and eliminate the next two steps. Just as good either way.)
1 ½ c. flour (more if needed)
½ tsp salt
1 large tomato, chopped
½ c. chopped onion

Thaw sliced okra in warm water,
pour water off, then toss in plastic bag with
flour and salt mixture. Coat well. (okra should
be stuck together in clumps) You DON’T need to do this step if you use the cut and breaded frozen okra! I am making it really easy for you.
Heat about two inches of oil in skillet, med. hot
Fry half the okra at a time. (add more oil if
necessary on second batch). Use large slotted spoon to turn okra and cook on all sides until light golden and crisp, watch carefully so it won’t burn.
Drain on lots of paper towels, get that grease out! When ready to serve, toss okra with the chopped tomatoes and onions. Salt to taste.

General Robert E. Lee

one of my favorite paintings, it was a pleasure to paint this great man, I knew his history and felt like I knew him personally by the time I was finished.

I painted this picture of Gen. Robert E. Lee in 1984, from a photograph by Mathew Brady~ published in Harper’s Weekly at the time, the caption read:  “This photograph shows a picture of Robert E. Lee. The picture was taken shortly after Lee’s surrender. The photograph was taken by Mathew Brady, and shows the General in his uniform. Despite his recent loss in the War, the General still stands tall and proud. ” I enjoyed painting this picture of the General  tremendously, he was one of the really great men of all times. The painting  belongs to one of my sons, he found a mistake, he said “General Lee did not have blue eyes.” 

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 10 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~

Coons

I am on a quest to catch some coons that have been invading my yard for several weeks. They mess up the cat’s water bowl, knock limbs out of the trees and  I just don’t like them! I hate coons~
This duck house was built with left over lumber when we built our house in 1974.

This duck house was built with left over lumber when we built our house in 1974.

Thirty years ago, a small coon got in the duck house one night and killed everything that was precious to me. There was a small space under the eve for ventilation and this little coon squeezed in, not to do anything except kill them. There were our two mallard ducks, Rose Olive and Stanley and our three guineas, Sir Chester Charles, Matthew, and Alfonzo Thomas. They had been our pets for 8 years, I got them at a garage sale when they were 3 days old. I was sick for days, it broke my heart.
.
one of the coons that week, there were 13 of them~

one of the coons, there were 13 of them~

For years I trapped coons in the back yard, once there were 13 coons in two weeks. The live trap I have is too small for the new coons, they are about 10 inches longer than the trap so it won’t snap. 
This DP Coon Cuff sells at Amazon for $15, the setting tool is another $5 and I will need it if I ever get this trap set.

This DP Coon Cuff sells at Amazon for $15, the setting tool is another $5 and I will need it if I ever get this trap set.

 Bobby told me at church last week about a trap that was a sure thing. It is called the DP Coon Cuff (dog proof).  It will only catch coons or possums, coons have five long fingers and long nails. You bait it with a marshmallow and when he reaches into the cylinder the trigger snaps and he is caught. This is not a trap and release, it is a bait, catch and shoot. I ordered two of these traps and studied the videos online about using them. It looked simple, you dropped in the marshmallow, set it and secured it to a stake. Problem was I couldn’t set it, the spring is so strong it is impossible. I even asked a trapper if he knew how to set it and he tried, he pushed the jaws down and then his wife reached over to set the little trigger and she got a blood blister. So I have ordered the ‘setting tool’ that Amazon highly recommended and I’m waiting for it to arrive in 10 to 14 days. It looked like a large hair pin~
a coon cuff, it is supposed to really catch them, if only I could set it.

The spring is too stiff and I put a clamp on it overnight to try and loosen it up. No luck~

For now I am forgetting about the coons, my .22 rifle has scotch tape holding the sight on and I wasn’t sure how to load my 410.  Now a friend has loaned me one of his guns and showed me how to load mine, so when I am ready to go after the coons again, I will be in business. I really really don’t like coons!
Up Date~ I gave up on the new coon traps and gave them away. I am back to live traps and they work. I caught 4 coons and a grey fox in just a few days, then they got smart and quit coming. Now I bait them for 4 days and if I don’t catch anything, I take a rest for a while and start over. I had been hauling the dead coons over to the farm and dumping them but someone told me to just throw them over the fence here, the buzzards would get rid of them in one day. So I threw the next one out by the windmill and I think it worked.

I counted 9 buzzards out by the windmill in an hour. Two were guarding and the others were waiting for the word~

I counted 9 buzzards out by the windmill in an hour. Two were guarding and the others were waiting for the word~

The New Rain Gage

this is the garden after a big rain, I lost one of Dan’s boots out there that day, it was buried in the mud and never seen again~while I am thinking about it, I also buried a treasure out there years ago same place as the rubarb, it was in a quart mason jar and had a wrist watch, a silver dollar and a surprise note. The rubarb never came up and I never found the treasure.

Our rain gage had been  broken for a quite while, (when someone ask me how much rain we got, the answer was “not much, quite a bit, or I heard the Spinks about got 2 inches”).  Years before when I was at a Hemphill Well’s Sale, I saw nice rain gage  for half price and bought it. When I showed Dan what I found,  he had a not so tiny fit! He said you could get those for free anywhere, the bank~ the gas company~ everyone gave them away. (‘Free’ for him meant ask for two). Anyway, my feelings were hurt so I kept it in the drawer for  a long time before I put it up. One day I screwed it to a board and wired that to a post on the fence out across the road from the house. It  was level and secure,  I did a fine job. When I was walking back to the house, I saw a  rock in the driveway, picked it up and threw it over my shoulder. Then I heard “ping”. You guessed it, perfect shot~

Deck Chair Finished

I was able to save the name I painted on it when it was new.

I was able to save the name I painted on it when it was new.

One month ago I showed a project I was working on and have completed the job. It seems like it was a lot longer than a month but that was 30 blogs ago so that is a long time. This chair was one that Dan & Debbie called the Schatzie Kay chair because their little dog claimed it for her own. The legs finally rotted from sitting outside for  25 years and it either had to be restored or thrown away. old leg

Bad legs, ready to be sent to Dan's Shop Smith

Bad legs, ready to be sent to Dan’s Shop Smith for copying duplicates in new wood

All striped and sanded, waiting for the new legs~

All striped and sanded, waiting for the new legs~

All finished and smooth as silk.  Deck chairs have solid brass screws and hinges so those have stayed like new.

Finished and smooth as silk. The  chair  has solid brass screws and fittings so those have stayed like new. To find if fittings are brass plated or solid brass, try a magnet test, if it sticks to the piece it is solid brass.

This was the second time I restored it. The bottoms of the legs get wet and the water wicks up into the wood, the rest of the wood is fine but wet legs rot. Dan copied the old legs perfectly, cutting and matching everything down to the last screw hole. Now it is like a new chair. This time I bought some epoxy after reading about it on the internet. It is like putty, two parts mixed together and put on the bottom of the legs. It dried in two days and should take care of the water problem. I also put gliders on the bottom to hold the leg up off the patio. This was a good project, I like working with wood and I like to save things.

 

Cast aluminum chairs were nice ones but the finish developed a problem.

Cast aluminum chairs were nice ones but the factory  finish developed a problem.

The patio chairs were good ones and comfortable. However the finish on them had started cracking and chipping off.. Debbie sanded them down to the bare cast aluminum, ready for primer and then deep hunter green paint. These pieces  all sat in my garage for a couple of weeks after I finished them and I was growing attached. They came and got them today and sent the pictures. I am going to be looking for another project that is fun to do. This was one of those.

My Ranching Experience

this is a picture of an angora goat, they are smart, cunning and playful. This picture was borrowed from Wikipedia, looks a lot like that other goat~I just noticed this onet had a little blood on his nose, maybe he got in a fence~

these are two of the Pfluger’s goats from last year. They were shearing today and will be busy with that job for another several days. Ranching is hard work~

Sometimes I feel like a ranch hand except I have never ranched~unless you count taking care of pasture cats and wild life. But many times I have had to stop on the road and get a goat out of the fence and I felt like a real rancher woman. Reciently I had to do that job, I was on my way to San Angelo to see the tax man and do some banking business. The wind was blowing a gale, I didn’t have my head scarf so my hair got really big~ you know like having to walk through a door sideways.  Not good at all. There is a trick to getting a goat out of a fence, they all want to stick their heads through the wire to eat the same stuff that is on their side, it works fine until they try to pull back, then their horns hang and they are stuck. They will bleat and fight all day until someone finds them.  To help them get lose, you have to pull their head toward you as far as you can and twist it around and poke their nose back through (nose first~if you manage that, then the horns will follow). It looks like it would hurt and sometimes there is a little blood but you keep talking to them and telling them you like them and they are going to be fine. When they are finally free, they take off running. My ‘used to be neighbor Joe Max’ had Spanish goats and he solved the problem by cutting a broom stick wider than the head and wiring it across the horns, there was no way they could get that new head gear through the wire fence. I thought it was ingenious, it didn’t hurt the goat at all and it kept it out of trouble. I love goats, especially the little kids. They have boundless energy and are the most entertaining creatures, maybe something like the pasture kittens~ By the way, a man in a pickup stopped to help with the goat that day, that is usually what happens.  

Mertzon Road

This is a simple little 11 x 14 scene I painted 46 years ago.  I was driving over to Mertzon one day and when I saw it the tree, I turned around and went back to get a picture of it. I have had it hanging in the same spot all these years.  If it had been bigger, I would have had a windmill and rock tank in it.

This is a simple little 11 x 14 scene I painted 46 years ago. I was driving over to Mertzon one day and when I saw  the tree, I turned around and went back to get a picture of it. I have had it hanging in the same spot all these years. If it had been bigger, I would have had a windmill and rock tank in it.

Here is another place between Eldorado and Mertzon. I think I painted every scene from here to there at some time. There are a few pretty live oaks, some windmills and rock tanks, and only about three houses in the 32 miles.  A woman who lived on a ranch out there was at a bridge party one time and we were all telling funny stories, she told us that one freezing day she went out to see if ice was forming on the water in the tank and dropped her car keys in. She had to do what was necessary so she ran to the house. put on her bathing suit and went back and jumped in the freezing water. She found the keys and was climbing out when Mr. Halbert drove up in his butane truck to deliver gas. She said she headed straight for the house like nothing had happened. She was sure he must have thought she had lost her mind. It was a good story and I know none of us ever forgot it. When I look at the paintings from Mertzon, I think of her.

Sunflower Afghan

the panels are crocheted in the afghan stitch, then the flowers are embroidered in a cross stitch. It feels good to be working with yarn~

If I can wake up with a project every morning, I am happy. I hope it will be the same all of my life.  When my first baby boy was born, one of the greatest things was to realize I would be totally committed to taking care of  him for years. Having two babies was the best of all projects~ Today is about a sunflower afghan, it took longer than most things, in fact I made two of them, each taking about 3 months. It was so much fun working with all the beautiful colors. I made them in 1969. My friend Billy had showed me how to do the afghan stitch, using a long crochete needle, it was easy to do and made a good background for the embroidery work on the flowers. Once when we were at a school picnic, a teacher saw the one I was working on and wanted to know where to get the thread and pattern. Billy wanted to show her the simple afghan stitch but she was not interested, she said she “already knew how to do it”. So Billy didn’t insist, even though there was a trick to doing it right. Later at the end of school, we saw her handiwork, it looked like a big loosely made fish net and was about 10 feet long.  She told us she realized it was not right but she liked it anyway. It was sure something different~ The two I made were for my boys and  stayed on their beds while they were growing up, I liked the bright colors, it was a decorated place in our house. Much later I showed each of my two little left handed granddaughters, (Stacy Mae and ZZ) how to crochet.  I showed them the  ball of yarn that was no more than a colored string, then had them hold an afghan and see how that string could turn into something beautiful and warm and wonderful. They learned quickly. 

Hydroponic Greenhouse

European cucumbers  are also called burpless cucumbers, they grow 18 or more inches long and are still tender and sweet.

There are several kinds of lettuce   like romaine and butter head, you can pull them out of the trays and put the roots in a glass of water and keep them fresh on the  counter for several days.

Tomatoes and cucumbers grow well in buckets of perlite, there is no dirt or soil involved

Here are a some pictures from the green house at Christoval. Anna and I had been left in charge of it last year (with lots of instructions) when her husband was out of the country for a few weeks. We were growing tomatoes, European cucumbers, lettuce, broccoli and all kinds of greens. She called me one Monday afternoon and said the pump had gone out on the big floor tank and she had called the plumber~ but he couldn’t get there until the next morning. So I loaded the dogs up and went up there and we installed a new pump ourselves and it was working in a matter of minutes. Women can do things, we always read the directions. (canceled the plumber) I will be in charge of the green house for a while this summer, big job. I will also be taking care of chickie town and the peacocks and one sweet little dog. I think I will set up a roadside stand and sell fruit from the orchard, eggs from the chickens and all those fresh vegetables. Or maybe I won’t~