Changing It Up

Never is a dining table bare in our house.  To see an empty surface is one of those things that makes me feel out of sync.  Yep, that’s an idiosyncrasy, but we all have them…..at least I hope that’s true!

fall tableWalking in  the Houston house after being absent for several months, the first thing I noticed was a table that had passed its season.  Before I unpacked my suitcase, I got to work on the table replacing the warmer weather runner  with a embroidered one that speaks more of nippy fall days which Houston is actually having.

fall tablePlacemats turned lengthwise to drape off the round table complete the linens.

fall tableA few pumpkins and paper turkeys from Michaels and this table is ready for dinner with friends in a couple of days.

fall tableTypically, these dishes don’t see the light of day until Thanksgiving day, but I’m cheating a little because the bowls are just the right size for the soup I’m thinking of making.

fall tableA salad plate, green Fostoria glasses, silverware, a napkin and all is done in a flash once again proving that every day tablescapes are nothing but easy.  Oh, those clementines?  Our friends are off sugar so they will be dessert, not a great replacement for a caramel/rum glazed spice cake or apple dapple cake

Not only are they off sugar, this couple is vegetarian.  Luckily, there are lots of good soups to satisfy that dietary need, and I’ll share one of my favorites from a Moosewood Restaurant cookbook.

potato kale soupCreamy Potato Kale Soup

1 c. finely chopped onions

2/3 c. finely chopped leeks

1/2 t. salt

1 T. canola or vegetable oil

4 c. vegetable stock

4 c. coarsely chopped potatoes

1/4 t. fennel, seeds or ground

1/2 c. finely chopped celery

2 T. while wine

1/2 t. dried dill

2 t. Dijon mustard

2 T. minced scallions

1 1/2 T. fined fresh basil

1/2 c. milk or half and half

4 c. loosely packed shredded kale

salt and pepper to taste, a squeeze of lemon if desired.

In a large soup pot, saute onions, leeks and salt in the oil on low heat until tender.  Add the stock and bring to a boil.  Add potatoes, fennel, celery, wine and dill. Simmer covered for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender.  Puree the soup until smooth. (This is where a handheld immersion blender comes in very handy.)  Stir in mustard, scallions, basil, milk.

In a separate pot, gently boil kale in just enough water to cover.  When it is barely tender, drain and stir into the soup.  Add salt and pepper, lemon juice if desired and gently heat until all is hot.  Makes 4-6 servings.

When I make this soup, I always hope for leftovers because it’s mighty good the next day for lunch.  Should you want to modify if for meat eaters, all you have to do is add slices of Polish sausage.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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WPC: Achievement

Achievement is measured in so many ways.  It might be making a good grade in a troublesome subject, being recognized for an accomplishment, shooting the winning basket, meeting the challenges of life…well, you get the picture.

Today, I give kudos to my son-in-law who a few years ago committed to doing a triathlon.  For me, swimming, biking and running in the same day sounds like torture, but to those athletes who choose to do it, it is hours in the pool, on a bike and on the pavement prior to participating in the actual event.

Linda  041This one was in Bath, Maine, where the water is cold and the hills are steep making a triathlon even more challenging than in Houston where he had prepared.  Each step was a real achievement acknowledged with a smiling face.

Linda  042Spotting their dad in the distance, the girls ran to greet him and together they crossed the finish line, a most special moment for all.

Linda  043Tired but happy at having met the challenge, he can be credited with quite an achievement.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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Reentry….

TexasNo sooner do you get into Texas than you begin to notice changes that define its character.

TexasThere are lots of wide open spaces with cattle grazing and maybe an oil well or two pumping away.

TexasChemical plants and refineries are not unusual sights,

Texas/pickupand pickups are more common than cars.

Texas/HoustonAs you get closer to Houston, billboards and strip centers line the highway, not a pretty sight as an entrance to the nation’s fourth largest city.

HoustonFreeways widen to 4-6 lanes in an effort to keep traffic moving

Houstonand spaghetti bowls head off in every direction.

HoustonNo matter how wide the freeways or how many there are, traffic can come to a complete stop at any time of day.  A Maine friend thinks 4 or 5 cars stopped in traffic is gridlock.  Wonder what he’d say about this!

HoustonSpying the city skyline in the distance, I am awed by its transformation in recent years.  Little of the old is there, but that is characteristic of Houston which has demolished so much of its history to create a new story and reflect its can do attitude.

HoustonCranes are everywhere, and new construction is proof of Houston’s booming economy.  This kind of activity is not what one sees much of in Maine which is both a positive and a negative.

Houston’s bigness makes me a little panicky.  All the traffic, all the activity are things that take some getting used to after several months in a much more tranquil environment.  Also, I have to start thinking differently about what is beautiful.  It won’t be the harbor or magical islands or evening sunsets. 

HoustonAs all of these thoughts race through my head, we turn the corner and up ahead I see our house and am calmed.  It is close to all the things that Houston has to offer, but the uniqueness of this area is that it seems far removed from the city’s bustle.   This, too, is a place I’m lucky to call home, and after 14 states, 2280 miles and 34 hours in the car I’m glad to be here.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

For The Bundt Of It

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze

Lemon Buttermilk Cake with Lemon Glaze

Why do I like bundt cakes?  Because I am a terrible layer cake maker.  The layers are never the same thickness, one side is always higher than the other, and icing generally runs down the sides onto the plate.    You should see all my failures, and you’d know I’m speaking the truth!!

Apple Dapple Cake

Apple Dapple Cake

A bundt cake is different.  It’s a single thickness, requires nothing more than a simple glaze and glides right out of the pan without falling apart….most of the time.

cake/muffin pansBundt cakes are fun because there are so many different pan designs.  I have to confess, however, that some are better than others when it comes to cleaning.  The more detail, the harder to clean.  I have thrown a couple of pans away because they were too much of a pain to clean!

bundt panRecently, I’ve liked serving individual desserts and for cakes this Wilton pan is perfect.

pecan spice cakeSeveral friends have had birthdays in the last few days, and using the pan I was able to make each one his/her own cake.  It was a little bit of a risk to try a brand new recipe, but luckily, it turned out great.  It is a Pecan Spice Cake with Caramel/Rum Glaze from Southern Living.  Should you make individual cakes, the recipe is good for 10-12.  If you still are looking for a Thanksgiving dessert or one for a holiday party, this is a good one.  

bundt cakeCuisine Kathleen, I’ve saved one just for you for challenging your readers to a bundtathon.  It will be fun to see how everyone put their unique creative touches on all things bundt!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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In the Barnyard

FranklinA couple of years ago, one daughter and her family moved to a small farm in Franklin, Tennessee.  It is halfway between Rockport and Houston, so it’s a perfect overnight stop on the third night of travel

FranklinNow, I’m not sure I’m a farm girl, but it is fun to take in all the activity in the barnyard.    How all those two and four legged critters know when its feeding time is beyond me, but when they see the girls step inside the gate, a mad rush ensues.  What is really funny is that the different species hang with their own giving real meaning  to the saying “Birds of a feather flock together”.

FranklinThe same is true of the sheep.  They stay close to one another

Franklinand follow their shepherds wherever they go.

Franklin

I couldn’t get enough of the sheep.  They are so affectionate with each other,

Franklinand their sweet faces would steal anyone’s heart.

FranklinI’m told we are having farm raised turkey for Thanksgiving,

Franklinand it looks to me like they may be hatching a plan to avoid the chopping block.

FranklinThey may have a hard time outrunning this gal

Franklinwhich means Thanksgiving dinner will be the one that doesn’t get away.

FranklinAll this activity is a bit much for Lucy who looks down on it from her high perch.

FranklinAs for Aslan, he’s on the outside looking in wanting to be part of the action.  With his energy that would cause total chaos!

FranklinIt’s tempting to linger to take in the natural beauty of the farm, but hit the road we must.  

FranklinAs we sneak down the stairs hoping to leave quietly, we find Super Daughter in the kitchen scrambling up some farm fresh eggs.  Now, that is a loving and delightful surprise.

FranklinSpeaking of eggs, the chickens are the girls’ responsibility.  Eggs are plentiful, and the girls have built a customer base for all the extras.  Pretty enterprising, wouldn’t you say?

Until next time through, that’s it for barnyard happenings.  There’s no telling what changes will occur there between now and then.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

P.S.  If you want to see more of Ten 10 Farm, visit here.

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