I live in a rural area of Arizona. I grew up in Iowa and transplanted to Arizona in the early 80's. I moved from a small Iowa farm to Phoenix, Arizona. Talk about culture shock! I lasted a couple years in metro Phoenix, then looked at a map and chose a small town.
I live with my husband, Ken, and dog, Maggie, on an acreage just outside town.
So much of what I learned by doing, as a way of life, is being lost. Everyone has something to offer the younger generation, so here I go...
It’s been another week of high winds and daily watering. One lonely green bean is growing, so I’m going to try soaking the seeds before putting them in the ground. I’ll let you know how that works out.
Not a single carrot sprout yet, so I’m going to replant using a different seed pack. Perhaps I bought a bad bag of seed? Other than that, not much happening, watching and waiting.
I love scalloped potatoes, but get inpatient waiting for them to bake. I came up with an easy way to make scalloped potatoes in my electric skillet with about half the usual cooking time.
2 lbs. potatoes (about 6)
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
Salt and pepper for seasoning
2 ½ cups milk
½ cup finely chopped onion, optional
1 cup cooked ham, cubed or
1 ea. 5 oz. can smoked ham
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
Peel potatoes and slice thinly. [I put the peelings in the composter.] Add a little oil to the electric skillet. Set on lowest setting, about 150°.
Add potatoes and onions to skillet. Turn occasionally as you’re preparing the white sauce. This speeds up the cooking process as the potatoes are about half done by the time the sauce is ready.
Melt butter in 2 qt. saucepan over low heat. Blend in flour using a whisk.
Continue cooking over low heat, stirring until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Add milk. Increase heat to medium high. Stir constantly until mixture begins to boil. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Add ham to skillet. [If you’re using canned ham, use two forks to shred and pull it apart in a small bowl before adding to skillet.] Pour sauce over potatoes, onions and ham. Mix well. Put lid on skillet and check every 10 minutes to stir and turn the potatoes. Cooks in 30 – 40 minutes.
When potatoes reach the desired doneness, turn off the electric skillet. Add cheddar cheese and put the lid back on (to speed up melting of cheese.)
The cheddar melts in 3 – 5 minutes.
*A note about electric skillets.
Recently, I replaced my old faithful skillet with one of those where the cooking pan lifts off from the heating base. It was a little more expensive than the other models, but I thought the removable base was worth the added expense. Wrong. It lasted exactly one use of frying chicken at 350°, then warped.
So buyer beware. You do get what you pay for. The more expensive skillets with removable bases may not warp, but my relatively inexpensive (50.00-60.00) did.
What a better use of yesterday’s leftover roast beef and gravy than a hot roast beef sandwich? Growing up, I ate a lot of these. They were a quick and easy supper before the days of microwaves. Most every local café, served hot roast beef sandwiches with a big dollop of mashed potatoes. I haven’t seen a hot roast beef sandwich on a menu in years. If they’re out there, I guess I haven’t been going to the right restaurants.
The ingredients are pretty straightforward – leftover roast beef, leftover gravy and bread. I prefer reheating gravy and meat the old school way on top of the stove vs. using the microwave.
Reheat gravy in saucepan. Add water as necessary and stir occasionally while reheating over medium heat. Put a small amount of beef broth or water in a small frying pan. Add roast beef. Cover and let warm up over medium heat.
In a few minutes when everything is heated through, pile roast beef on a slice of bread. Put another slice on top and smother with gravy.
This is my favorite way to prepare a beef roast. The meat is tender. The carrots have a beefy flavor and the broth makes the best tasting gravy. It seems like most supermarket meats are just packed with water anymore, so I only use a little water to prevent scorching at the beginning. Since I’m using condensed soup, I don’t add any salt to the roast.
Whenever using a crockpot, remember vegetables first, meat on top.
3 – 4 lb. beef roast
1 lb. baby carrots
¼ cup chopped onions
2 – 3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 can beefy mushroom condensed soup
¼ cup water
½ cup cold water
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet sauce
2 cups beef broth (from crockpot)
If so desired, quartered potatoes can be added around the roast. Turn crockpot on low and let cook for 7 to 10 hours. If you’re around the house, turn the meat over about half way through the cooking time.
When done, transfer roast and carrots to shallow bowl or plate. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm while you prepare gravy.
Measure 2 cups of broth and put in a 2 qt. sauce pan. If you don’t have quite enough broth, add water to make 2 cups. [I don’t strain the broth since the onions and mushroom bits add a lot of flavor to the gravy.] Bring the broth to a good rolling boil. While the broth is heating, combine ½ cup water with the cornstarch and flour in a pint sized canning jar. [Put the water in first, then the cornstarch and flour.] Shake to mix well until no lumps remain. [I use a combination of cornstarch and flour when I make this type of gravy.]
Stirring constantly, slowly add the flour mixture to the boiling broth. Continue stirring as the gravy thickens. Simmer for 5 minutes or so to allow time for the flour to cook. Stir in Kitchen Bouquet and gravy’s done!
If you have any leftovers, save them for tomorrow’s hot roast beef sandwiches!
This is my latest experiment. I’ve seen articles about re-growing various vegetables, so I thought I’d give celery a try. I’ll update this as the weeks pass. It’ll be interesting to see if it actually works or not. I began with cutting about 1″ from the bottom of a celery bunch. I ran water over it and placed in a bowl with about ½” of water. I change the water daily, and rinse from the top down to get water between the stalk bases. The bowl rests on the windowsill of an East window.
These buns have a very mild dill flavor with a hint of onion. I wanted something a little different, so I changed up my basic bun recipe. The flavor wasn’t as strong as I expected, so I’ll try increasing the dill seed next time for a stronger flavor. It can be difficult to get to that ‘just right’ point – lots of flavor, but not over powering.
1 package active dry yeast, (2 ¼ teaspoons) room temperature
1 ¼ cup warm milk (110° F to 115° F) [Check the temperature with an insta-read thermometer. I combine the milk and honey and warm in the microwave.]
1 teaspoon white sugar
¼ cup honey [Use a liquid measuring cup.]
3 tablespoons butter, melted [Olive oil can be substituted.]
1 or 2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large [or extra large] egg, room temperature
½ tablespoon Kosher salt [Do not use table salt. it measures differently due to size of granules.]
1 tablespoon minced onion, dried
½ teaspoon dill seed
1 teaspoon dill weed
½ cup whole wheat flour*
3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
Combine yeast, milk, sugar and honey. Mix well to dissolve yeast. Let sit about 5 minutes to allow yeast to bloom. Add 3 tablespoons melted butter, egg and 2 cups of flour. Mix on low with dough hook until smooth. Add remaining flour as needed until dough comes together. [For me, I always use all the flour.]
Add salt. Knead 7 – 9 minutes with hook until dough is tacky – not sticky.
Place in greased bowl. [Bowl should be at least a 2-qt.] Cover with light-weight dish towel. Let rise until doubled about 1 hour. Check after 45 minutes.
Grease a 11” x 15” cookie sheet with Crisco for rolls or a 11″ x 17″ size for hamburger buns. Roll or press dough on floured board, into rectangle about 1” to 1½” thick. Shape into 24 pieces for rolls or 15 pieces for medium sized hamburger buns [or a combo of sizes, depending on what type of buns you want.] Put on greased cookie sheet. Cover again with the dish towel and let rise until doubled 45 to 60 minutes.
Bake 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown in 350° oven. Remove from oven. Brush with 2 tablespoons melted butter.
*Don’t fret if you don’t have any whole wheat flour on hand, you can use 4 ½ cups of all-purpose flour.
Online I’ve been noticing a way of baking your eggs in a muffin tin. I haven’t tried that method yet. I seldom need that many hard boiled eggs at once, so I think I’ll stick to the old fashioned way of boiling on the stove top.
Place 4 to 6 eggs in a 2-quart saucepan. Fill pan with cool water to about a ½” from the top of the pan. There should be 1″ to 2″ of water on top of the eggs. Bring water to a boil over medium high heat. Once the pan is boiling, remove from heat and cover.
Let eggs sit for 25 minutes.
Drain water and fill pan with cold water. Gently break the eggshells and peel under running cold water. Store eggs tightly covered in refrigerator.
That’s it folks, bring to a boil and let them sit. Can’t get any easier than that.
Slicing and dicing eggs is a breeze with a slicer. Follow the pictures below:
Another week of waiting has passed. The above photo of lettuce shows the most successful plants thus far. When the lettuce is a little bit taller, I’ll need to thin it out. Radishes, spinach, onions and one lonely green bean have poked through. Still nothing has sprouted in the carrot patch so far. We’ve had some strong winds with advisories this week. Not surprisingly, the winds beat it up the tomato plant, so it’s hanging on.
The photos were taken around noon before watering. Yes, it is extremely dry here.
Although hard to see through the cages, but the spinach and radishes are doing well. They broke through the soil last Tuesday.
I’m thinking I’ll give the carrots, zuchinni, yellow squash and green beans another week to see if anything will sprout. There’s always the possibility that I planted too deep. All new seed this year, so I’ll have to blame it on my planting depth.
Granpa has been working on another bed that’s about 36″ wide by 10′ long. It’s leveled and ready to start mixing compost, dirt, sand, peat moss and vermiculite. He used cinder blocks for the raised bed and is laying out other beds that will be watered by the landscape watering system. We’ll probably leave the beds unplanted until the fall planting season.
Spring is a great time to repot indoor houseplants, too. I’ve repotted a fern and bamboo plant so far.
You know, the later in the week it gets, the less I feel like cooking after work. These meatballs are quick and easy. We like them with slices of cheddar cheese, crackers and corn-on-the-cob for a quick supper.
1 lb. lean hamburger or ground chuck
1 cup Minute Rice, uncooked (white or brown)
1 can (10 oz.) condensed tomato soup
1 egg, slightly beaten
½ cup water
1 teaspoon onion or garlic salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons catsup or ketchup
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
Combine ground beef, about ½ can of soup [I spoon it right out of the can.], egg, water, salt, and Worcestershire sauce. Add rice. Mix well. Let mixture set for 5 – 10 minutes. [This lets the rice absorb the water. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate several hours until ready to cook.] Shape into small balls (about a tablespoon each). [I use a small scoop for this.] Arrange in a circle on a microwave meat platter or a large glass pie pan. Cover with wax paper.
Microwave at full power for 4 minutes; rotate meatballs on platter so what was facing in towards the center is now facing out towards the perimeter. Cover waxed paper. [You can re-use the piece you already used.]
Return to microwave for 3 minutes. Using tongs, move meatballs to a serving platter. Form the remaining meat into balls, cook as above and transfer to serving platter. The meatballs brown up as they sit. The meatballs on the right are the ones that were sitting while the ones on the left just came out of the microwave.
Stir catsup and mustard into the remaining soup mixture, still in the can. Use a soup spoon to pit a dollop of sauce over each meatball. Return to microwave for 2 minutes. [No waxed paper this time.]
This is one of those salads that I just throw together. I’d never written down the recipe before. I like lots of eggs in a creamy potato salad, so this one is heavy on the mayo. In case you hadn’t noticed, I seldom add salt to anything (except in baking.) When I serve this, I make sure the salt shaker is on the table and everyone’s happy.
4 eggs, hard boiled
5 potatoes, medium
3/4 cup celery chopped, (1 stalk)
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup sweet pickles, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons sweet pickle juice
Start the eggs cooking. Peel potatoes and cut into ½” cubes. Cover with water and boil until just done, about 15-20 minutes. [Fork should go into the potato easily. Don’t overcook or your potato salad will be mushy.] Drain in colander and rinse with cool water.
While the eggs and potatoes are cooking, chop celery, onion and sweet pickle. [I always cut everything into strips, then chop.] Put in large mixing bowl.
Eggs should be done by now. Pour off water. Fill pan with cool water and peel eggs under running cold water.
Add eggs and potatoes to other ingredients in mixing bowl. Mix well.
Add mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, pepper and pickle juice. Stir until mixed well. You can add more mustard for your particular tastes.
Level salad in bowl. My mom always sprinkled hers with paprika for color.
Cover and refrigerate several hours until thoroughly chilled.