Friday, November 12, 2010

Thus starts the dark months

Did you wonder what happened?  I was so wordy and then "NOTHING!"   My Farmer and my Bffs all decided to share their versions of the flu.  Bffs dear-grandson had it, my Farmer had it and Bff's dh got it Sunday night (after spending all day with us.... oh the germs!)  It was only a matter of time until we ladies got it.  I spent Wednesday home curled on the couch.  But now I'm well and feeling fine again.

Have you noticed the darkness!  Yes,  I know.  Daylight Savings Time has ended.  I'm liking the sunrise right after Farmer-dear leaves for the plant, but not liking at all, the darkness at 5-5:30 p.m.  Yesterday afternoon, after work, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things and with the clouds, it was gloomy.  It seemed like all the folks in the store were hurrying to get their lists completed and head for home.  I felt that same urgency as I walked quickly to my car.  It felt like early evening.  I was almost surprised to see that it was not even 5 p.m.   Today was even gloomier and blustery with wind and rain all day.  And with the bad weather, came frayed tempers and impatience along the roadways.  So many people in town, all trying to get somewhere and all in each other's way.  I was glad I had gotten my groceries yesterday and only had to do a quick errand at the bank and post office drop box before I headed for my cozy farmhouse.  

The Prairie Kitchen has been smelling wonderfully the past few days.  

Despite having a rumbly tummy on Wednesday, I still made some psuedo-homemade chicken noodle soup.  I like the noodles in Ramen Noodle Soup packages but I dislike the seasoning packet.  It's all salt and MSG.  So I always throw that way and make my own broth using either a good packaged chicken stock or my own homemade stock.  I added some of my dried "green powder" (dried celery, zucchini, aspagragus, chard... the green veggie part you might not want to eat normally, but are not bad/spoiled.  Just not pretty.  But they are fine dried and powered and added to soups and sauces for extra nutrition.) I also added some of my "mixed veggie powder" (tomatoes, carrots, etc.) and a little extra pazzaz from Adobo seasoning (garlic and onion are the dominate flavors there.)  I added some of my home dried thyme and some sage and a big handful of frozen mixed veggies.  I brought all this to a boil and added the noodles that I had crushed slightly to break up the lengths.  It was warming and calming and full of all the good things that veggies and chicken broth have in them.

On Thursday, I told you I stopped at the grocery store and one of items on my list was a variety of apples to make my boss-Richard, an apple pie for his birthday celebration today.  I bought Golden Delicious and Pink Lady apples to combine with the Gala and Granny Smith I had here at home.  Normally I just use whatever is on hand, but since it was a special pie, I wanted to make the filling extra special.  I also added a rounded teaspoon of cinnamon and a small amount (1/4-1/2 tsp?  just dumped) of Cardamom to the scant cup of sugar.  That was the finishing touch.  Not really a distinct flavor, but that extra "hmmm...what is that?" that lightened the flavor of the filling.  Sometimes cinnamon can make an apple pie seem "heavy."  The Cardamom brightened it all nicely. 

And tonight, after a long week, and with it cold and rainy, well it just called for Comfort Food.  Farmer-dear chose Spaghetti with my Homemade Meat Sauce.  I never say "No" to Pasta!  A couple of tablespoons of EVOO, a couple of smaller garden onions, 2 cloves of garlic, all chopped and softened in the oil.  Our good ground beef, browned with the veggies.   I deglazed the pan with a small amount of red wine, not much as Farmer-dear does not like the taste of wine, but just enough to deepen the taste of the sauce.  (By the way, those 4-packs of single glass bottles are perfect for this kind of use.  Screw tops so you aren't uncorking a bottle for just deglazing, especially if you are the only wine drinker and already have a bottle started (Pacific Rim Riesling) & need to finish it before you open another.)  (by the way, again.... I highly recommend the Pacific Rim Riesling, not too sweet, but not dry either.  Not that I'm a wine connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination!  I drink Arbor Mist too as well as some better local wines.  I drink what I like and like to try new varieties.)
I just keep getting side-tracked, don't I?  Blame it on the wine....  

Ok, getting back to the sauce, I deglazed the pan and added 2 16 oz cans of a good tomato sauce (I use Hunts), a generous teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, home grown & dried basil (last year's, I didn't get any to dry this year-- **sob**) and some mediocre store oregano.  I let it all simmer and reduce slightly for 30 mins., while the spaghetti cooked and the garlic toasts browned.  It was a soul-satisfying meal.

(All recipes will be on my recipe site soon.)

I've been taking advantage of some good deals online and some store return policies.  It really does pay to read those.  I had a pair of shoes that I wore for outside work and chores the past 2 years.  They used to be my "better" winter shoes for snow and cold.  Nice heavy, warm shoes.  (Not especially "sexy" shoes, but warmth is more important in the dead of winter than sex appeal.) 
Anyway, the warm shoes developed a rip just under the opening.  I'm not sure how or why, but it wasn't from wearing out... it was like a material flaw.  The store I originally ordered them from (and have another pair I'm wearing now), offers a "no questions asked" return policy.  I have returned another pair of these shoes a few years ago.  And they sent me a new pair... matter of fact, the ones I just returned, may have been that pair!  I do not abuse this policy, but figure if they offer it, I will take advantage of it.  
Another beauty products store has a similar return policy.  I ordered a new perfume, after just loving the sample I tried.  There is a definite difference between the sample and the large bottle.  The full-sized product was just too strong and heavy for me.  I thought I was "stuck" with it, until I read their return policy.  They had no restrictions and I had really only used it twice.  Thankfully I had kept both the product box and the shipping box.  And I had the postage free shipping label.  It was mailed off today.  

In addition to returning things, I've been buying a little too.  I found a good sale at Sears on coats for the grandgirlies for their birthday gifts.  There was a great deal on Groupon   (Groupon dot com) under the city of Phoenix for a $50 gift certificate for $25!  You can bet I jumped on that one!  I can't wait for the after holiday sales.  

I haven't had a chance to really watch the pre-Black Friday sales on BFAds dot com, but hope to do that this weekend.  It's time to get my Christmas shopping Done!

And that's the latest from the Prairie Farmhouse.  I'm off to make some thing warm to drink, look out and see if the rain has turned to snow yet and find my cozy quilt and my book.  I love cocooning during the Dark Months.

Happy Weekend, Puffins!

** "November days and a bright wood fire;
    A hearth and a home and the Heart's Desire."
  ~~Esther M. (Clark) Hill


  1. Doggone it, Kay! Reading your notes on using small amounts of red wine reminded me of a kitchen tip: If you have leftover wine, freeze it in ice cube trays or muffin tins. When it's frozen put the cubes/rounds in a freezer bag or container and label it. Then if you just need a small amount of wine for cooking, you can use your stash of frozen wine.

    The reason I say "doggone it!" is that I had guests a week ago. I'm not a wine drinker but they are. They left behind about half a bottle of white and most of a bottle -- a LARGE bottle of red. Why didn't I think of this? The wine's been sitting around for a week and now it's probably gone bad. 8-(

  2. One thing you have to remember Dorothy-dear, is that wine does not freeze solid, it stays more slushy. How do I know this? I do freeze leftover wine and had a bag of "frozen" wine cubes not seal all the way. My freeze was colorful and boozey when I found it. Also, I'm not a huge red wine drinker, so that's why I buy the small bottles.

  3. Sounds like you have been pretty busy around your farm too. :) Glad you are feeling better.

    Stop by and say hi. Come over and learn about my Have a Holly Jolly Christmas Recipe Swap that starts tomorrow! I would love to have you share your family favorites recipes, craft ideas, decorating ideas, tradtions etc... :)