Friday, March 27, 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Then there was the day my youngest son said, "You should make a giant cookie cake".

I used to buy a giant cookie "cake" for one of the boys' birthday every so often, but since they're grown up now, and besides I quit buying/started making cakes myself, we (they) haven't had a giant cookie in a long time.

So, I looked up a recipe and set about making a giant cookie....cake.

If you'll notice in the recipe it says to use a 9-inch cake pan or pie dish. 
And then notice in the photos for the recipe, how the cookie looks to be about 1-inch thick. 

I decided to use my (8 or 10-inch, I'm not sure) cast iron pan, which worked out great! The cookie was delicious!  It was also about 3 inches thick!

I sliced K a regular "cake slice" size of cookie, and it was like feeding him 8-10 regular chocolate chip cookies at once. LOL, but holy moly.
He loved it, but in smaller quantities at a time.

I had some left-over birthday cake frosting in the freezer I set out to let thaw while I was making the cookie-cake and letting it cool.

I used a piece of wax paper and one of my cake-decorating tips to "decorate" the cookie-cake just for fun. 

Next time, I would say I would look for a 12-inch cookie, or pizza pan with an edge, but I'm not about buying a special pan (or other kitchen items) to do a job that something I already have can do. So I think next time I'll divide the recipe in half (or maybe even thirds) to make it not as thick.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Shower Soothers

Or, the shower soothers that almost wasn't. Essential oils apparently aren't that popular/available in rural-ish Georgia*.

So J has sinus issues pretty much year-round. He eats sinus/allergy pills like candy, but after awhile they stop working for him or whatever.  So I look for different ideas/things to try to help him.

I came across this Shower Soothers thing on Pinterest one day.
When I was a kid and had allergies or a cold, Grannie would rub 'Vicksav' under my nose.
I also remember she used to put a pot of water boiling on the stove and my aunt would bend over it with a towel over her head and breathe in the steam. 
So I thought, a smelly thing in a hot shower might help open up his head.

I had a bottle of Peppermint essential oil I had gotten awhile back for another recipe (I haven't gotten around to trying yet), then I needed Eucalyptus oil.
This recipe called for Rosemary, Eucalyptus and Lavender, but the effects of the Rosemary and Lavender wasn't what I was going for, so I went by this chart that pairs Peppermint and Eucalyptus for clearing sinuses.

The recipe instructed to use a silicone muffin tin, or aluminum cupcake liners - but not paper liners on account of they stick - but I didn't have either of those so I just used regular tin foil in my muffin tin.

I baked them in the oven for as long as it said, and let them cool awhile, but probably should have let them set overnight. I think I was afraid they'd lose their smelly too fast, so I wanted to get them in the baggie asap.

They were really delicate, chalky. One fell apart when I pulled the aluminum off of it. I just added a drip of water and squeezed it into a ball and half-wrapped it in aluminum foil and stuck it in the baggie, too.

The verdict: J said he 'thought' it helped, but it dissolved away really fast.

If I try these again, I might try adding more water, and letting them dry out longer to try to make them really really hard, so maybe they won't dissolve as quickly.

*I know people that sell essential oils, not to mention I have Amazon Prime 2-day shipping, but when I get a notion I want something, I want it right then. Even if it takes me a week, lololol.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Paddy's Day Dinner

St. Patrick's Day is another day I don't really 'celebrate' much...I used to dress the kids in green for school, whatever...but the weather has been so nice, I'm feeling good...our last name is Irish, so I thought, why not, I'll give an Irish dinner a go.

I found a likely looking (read: easy) recipe for corned beef and cabbage. I'd never had corned beef & cabbage before, never bought a corned beef brisket before, so this was all new to me.

I cut the recipe in half, so I quartered 5 baby red potatoes and, I didn't have any fresh onions so I used some frozen chopped onions.
Added 2 cups of water and some Sam Adams beer (I don't know if it's Irish, it's just what we had), then added the corned beef brisket.

I let it cook on high for about 6 hours, give or take. The directions said 7, but it was looking done before then. I added the cabbage for what was supposed to have been another hour but my Aunt had come up to have dinner with me and she wanted to go to town to look at some antique and stuff stores.

By the time we got back and ate, dinner was pretty well done and then some.

Looks nasty, but it tasted good.  Or else I was just that hungry. I had been afraid, smelling it all morning, I wasn't going to like it.

Otherwise I tried making an Irish Soda Bread.

(I don't use enough to buttermilk to keep it in stock, so I just use the lemon juice-milk trick.)

Sorry to say, we were not very impressed with the bread.
That may have had more to do with my baking than the bread itself.
I baked it the amount of time it said and it looked done, only to discover the inside was still dough.
I baked it longer, and longer again, until I was afraid it was going to burn.

The inside was more done, but was still very heavy, like maybe it wasn't done. It was also pretty salty, which it might supposed to be, I'm not sure.

Anyway, Happy St. Patrick's Day

Spring and Pie Day

 What a week! Spring sprang and stuff started happening.

 I set my seeds to germinate on Thursday the 5th...I checked them on Saturday - two days later, but it had seemed like forever - but finally, the following Wednesday I had some action.

They look like sperms, but the little tails are small roots, meaning the seeds should be viable for sprouting.

All three varieties of my tomatoes (Cherokee Purple, Black Russian, Beefsteak) had germinated, and the Jalapeno peppers that I had put in a day later (when I remembered I had them).

The following Sunday my Datil peppers had germinated, but not the Sweet Banana peppers. They may be slower, or maybe were old seeds, I'm not sure.

I germinated way more seeds than I needed plants, but I didn't know how many would be viable, or how many will go on to actually become plants. I'll share any leftovers with family or others.

One day back in January, the weather had been nice enough to get out to work on our chicken house, but unfortunately we couldn't get much done because we'd ran out of materials.

I think that issue has been taken care of now,

I happened to refresh my FB wall right at the right time and caught a lady offering some "large wood and wire pet pens for chickens and others" on one of the freebie groups.
I typed "Interested" before the post was even a minute old, ha! (But it was mere seconds before the next person also typed "interested", so it was a close call.)

We took J's cousin with us to help (and he'll end up with a good bit of this stuff, also) and it still took a day and half to tear everything apart and load it all.

It came just at the right time, as nice as the weather turned off we probably would have broke down and went and bought the rest of the materials we needed to finish it, which would have blown the whole "completely free" part of the project.

I think not only will we be able to finish the chicken house, I believe there's enough there to frame in for screening my back porch. Maybe even several other projects, but I don't have any other plans in mind right now, and also J's cousin wants some of it for some of his projects at his place.
Rather him get it and use it than it lay out there and rot before I decide to do something with it.

Sunday was a gorgeous, sunny nice day, with the ground still nice and wet/soggy from some good rain on Friday.

One of the things I'd wanted to do before this Spring/Summer was move my Blueberry bushes and Hydrangea flowers, so Sunday seemed like a good day to do that.

I've had my Blueberry bushes for 5 or so years, I can't remember exactly, but at any rate, they weren't growing/producing/doing what they should have been doing for their age.

I had them planted down in the back yard along the fence, where they'd get plenty of sun, and - I thought? - water, since the yard slants down in that direction.
But no, apparently they didn't like it down there.
So I thought I'd move them up closer to the house, like we did the garden this past year (that did well until we left town and no one watered it while we were gone).

A few days ago, I was looking up something or other and had read something about not planting something under a Black Walnut tree.
I remember hearing before that some (all?) trees have some sort of defense that they drop some kind of something to keep so much undergrowth from overtaking them....or something to that effect.
Anyway, we don't have a Black Walnut tree here, so I filed the info away and went on about my business.

But then the day I went out to move my Blueberry bushes, I was looking around the area, trying to decide where to put them exactly, and I noticed something. 

I don't know if you can see it, but there's a large circle around the Pecan tree where the growth is a lot more sparse than the rest of the area.

I'm thinking I didn't want to plant my Blueberries in that area, either.
I ended up putting them uphill from the Pecan tree circle, near the clothesline. 

 I also dug my Hydrangea up.  These things are so aggravating.
I have these because my Mom prunes hers (just grabs parts of it with her hand and rips it off) and tosses the tore off parts at the burn pile, and she'll go back later to burn and find the things have taken root and started growing!
She dug them up and brought them to me, and I planted them in a nice spot, out front of the garden shed, watered, babied them, and nothing. Wouldn't grow. Didn't die, but wouldn't grow.

The front of the garden shed gets the afternoon sun, so year before last I decided to move them to the backyard where the morning/Southern sun shines most. Planted them in a nice row, along the fence line - apparently in the Pecan tree venom area. Ugh.

Instead of re-planting them right now, I put them in pots (which may have been a huge mistake, I have a terrible record at trying to grow anything in pots/containers). But I figure I can move them around to different places in the yard and see if I can figure out the magic growing spot before planting them somewhere.

And last but not least -

Well, Sunday dinner was just spaghetti, nothing special, but Saturday had been Ultimate Pi Day.

I don't typically 'celebrate' all the This Day and That Day things (and especially not a Maths related Day), but 1) they said it was once in a 1,000 years/Lifetime thing, 2) it was also Albert Einstein's birthday, 3) I had to cook anyway, 4) I had been saving a can of Cherry pie filling for...I don't know what, but I didn't feel like making in a 'regular' day, knowing eating the pie crust (wheat) wasn't going to agree with my gut, so it seemed like a good excuse to make it.

I made ham and cheese pies, an apple pie (with my homemade canned apple pie filling), and a Cherry pie. It's the half burnt one, because Broiler.

Sometimes it's fun to do something different.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Sunday Dinner: Empanadas

The first time I ever had (or even heard of) Empanadas was a couple years ago (or so) when we went to St. Augustine and met one of my Cousins for the first time.

My Cousin knew of this Spanish Bakery in the Old Spanish Village, and took us there for lunch.
It was the first time we - me, J, or the boys - had Empanadas and we all agreed they were really good.

After that I looked around to see if I could find a recipe to make them at home, and I did finally find an easy one I thought I could manage...and Pinned it and forgot about it, lol.

Sometimes I go back through my old Pins on some of my Boards to see if anything I had Pinned jumps out at me, and sure enough, Empanadas. (<~ Click for recipe.)

(I made a particular point to read, read, and re-read the directions!)

I browned my 1 pound of ground...(pork. It's cheaper than beef) and chopped onions (calls for medium size onion, I just put in how much I thought we'd like, not too much).
Drained the grease, then added the can of diced tomatoes with chilis, 1/2 tsp. of chili powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt.

How easy was that?!
That was so easy!

Would have been even easier to use refrigerated pie crust dough, but no way I want to spend 10 times (guesstimate) more buying pre-made dough when I could whip up my own just as (nearly) easily, but for sure way cheaper.
(1 cup self-rising flour, 1/3 cup shortening, 2 tblsps. cold water)

Even though the photo at the recipe site looks to show smaller, handheld size Pies, the recipe seems to say to make a couple of large ones, like 8 or 9-inch pie shell size.
I decided to make mine saucer-sized (which were still a bit big, I thought. I'll probably use something smaller next time).

I filled half the shells with the meat filling, then grated Monterey Jack cheese on top.

I brushed beaten egg around the edges of the shell...
(I don't have a pastry brush, I just used the back of the spoon. Same diff)
and sealed the edges together with a fork.

Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes.

They turned out yummy!

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Time to Start the Garden

 The weather's been kind of whack lately, last week we got a few inches of snow, yesterday it was 76°,  today it was rainy and the temps dropped all day, headed down into the 20's tonight.

Despite all that, today is 6 weeks from April 15th, which is our area's Average Last Frost Date for this year.
From what I read, I want to wait two weeks after that date for the soil to warm up (I thought the soil was always warm-ish, though) to do my planting.

(I plan to consult with my Great-Uncle who's been gardening his entire life and is very excellent at it to see what he says. Last year I waited to plant til after danger of frost was passed and his garden was pretty much already producing by then. He said he just covered it if it was supposed to freeze. He has a very big garden, so I need to ask what all he planted early, and how he covered it all.)

At any rate, whether I plant earlier or later, it's time to go ahead and start sprouting the tomatoes and peppers.

The tomatoes are Beefsteak, Cherokee Purple, and Black Russian.
The peppers are Datil and Sweet Banana.

I'm starting with the germinating process, to see if/how many of my seeds are viable before I plant them.
I did this last year and it worked out well for me, not planting "dud" seeds.

I tore open a coffee filter and wet it and put seeds on one half of it.

Then I folded it over and stuck it into a baggie with the name written on it.

I didn't last year, but recently I read to blow some air in the baggie, or leave it up-zipped for air circulation. I blew air in the bag and zipped them, to make them like little green houses. (Hopefully)

Then I laid them up on the high shelf over my kitchen door where it seems all my heat goes to do their germinating. They need warmth, but not light to germinate.