Saturday, January 21, 2017

Green Onion Cakes - or - The way to my man's heart is through his stomach.




Green onion cakes. 

Just saying those 3 little words out loud,
  "green-onion-cakes"
will get my husband drooling.
And nagging for me to make them.
And good wife that I am, I get busy in the kitchen.

Sometimes.

If I want some too, anyway.

This is actually a Chinese bread, (also known as Scallion Pancakes, or  Green Onion Pancakes) but my family loved them so much, that I used to make them all the time, even if I wasn't making a Chinese meal.  
They're great with soups or stews, as a side with salads, or simply on their own, with a dipping sauce.
In my opinion, they're the perfect accompaniment to just about any meal.

And, they were also my kids favorite go-to snack for after school.

~~~~ Green Onion Cakes ~~~~

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup boiling water

1 cup green onion, chopped finely

optional: a handful or two of diced cooked bacon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon softened butter to brush on dough, or you can  brush on bacon grease instead, if you're using bacon.

 vegetable oil for frying

 ~~~

 Combine salt and flour in a mixing bowl. Slowly add the hot water into the flour while stirring. It's kind of like making biscuits from scratch... the dough should start to pull away from the bowl, as you mix it.  (you can add additional flour or water as needed, until you have a semi-smooth "dough ball".

Then, on a floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and silky... adding  a little flour as needed, to achieve a smooth consistency.   

I usually use a large piece wax paper or parchment paper for kneading the dough and rolling it out, because I hate the sticky mess that you have to scrape off the counter... and then it gets all under your finger nails and it messes up your good scratch-er sponge as well)  

I'm all for short-cuts.

Then, just let it rest in the bowl for a few minutes, covered with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, while you chop the green onions. And crumble the bacon, if you're using it. Crumbled bacon with the green onions is my favorite way of making these, but for a quick addition to dinner, I usually don't bother. 

Once you have your chopped green onions ready,  take about half of the dough and roll it out on a floured surface.  Brush on half of the butter or bacon grease, and then sprinkle half of the onions over the entire greased surface.   You can kind of "flatten the green onions in", using your rolling pin, if you want to.  (it keeps them from escaping, when you start to roll the dough up)

From the wide edge, roll the dough by hand, kind of "jelly-roll style", keeping it as tight as you can.  If you can't... well, no biggie.  This stuff is versatile. (I've even just pinched off large walnut sized pieces by hand, and then flattened them, but they're not as "purty and swirly looking" as the jelly-rolled ones

Once you have your roll... ermm... "rolled", pinch the open seam closed, and try and shape it so that it's fairly even.  Even if you have to squish it a bit.

We're going for taste here.... not perfection.

Cut the roll into about 8 equal pieces,  flatten them slightly, then one at a time, dip each piece lightly in a bit of the left-over flour, and then roll them into a circle...

Once you're done with the first 8 pieces, repeat with the other half of the dough and green onions.

That's it.

Now fry them.

 Heat the oil in a skillet to about medium, and then fry each cake one side at a time, until it's golden brown.

 I  usually fit 3 or 4 at a time in my big 12 inch cast iron skillet, because I like to push and turn them around a bit, before turning them over... for more even color. 

Once they're golden brown, drain them on paper towels.

That's it.

We had them with salad tonight, but the left-overs are good cold, for snacking, too! ( I know this for a fact, because I'm trying to type with greasy fingers right now. But shhh...)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Snow Cream


Well, we got our first really cold temps here in the North Georgia Mountains, and we were blessed with SNOW!

 Lots and lots of it!
(okay, 4-6 inches is a lot when you were only used to getting a minuscule dusting in Northern California)

So what does a presumably sane person do when they're freezing their cute little patootie off because of the approximately 8 degrees Fahrenheit temps?

Why, we make SNOW CREAM of course!

I've made it many, many times, but the dear Husband had never had it before, so I took myself outside, risking frostbite and the potential of having several of my digits freeze plumb off, 
 and I scooped soft powdery snow into a big old metal bowl until I couldn't stand the cold anymore.

(for some reason, I simply can not "do" gloves, and I only resort to shoes when absolutely necessary... which somewhat limits the amount of snow I am actually capable of scooping)




So, once I had the bowl filled, I stuck it in the freezer while I assembled the rest of the ingredients. Or, when it's a mere 8 degrees outside,  you can just leave it sitting outside until you're ready.



So here we go with the recipe:

About 6-8 cups of fresh snow
1+ teaspoon of Vanilla extract
sugar to taste (approximately 1/4 cup more or less)
1 can of evaporated milk

Now, with this recipe, nothing is exactly "exact" and you can play with it as much as you like. 
 Substitute maple syrup / chocolate syrup / or any other favorite flavorings for the vanilla extract if that's what you want to do.  
I like maple syrup, so that's what I went with.
And I like sweetened condensed milk,  so I went with that too.

Which means that the recipe I just shared with y'all above, 
is totally "tweak-able".




Snow Cream is meant to be FUN, so just go with what you have,


 Once everything is ready, just drizzle your "flavoring" over your snow, and stir it in slightly. (I use a big metal spoon as shown above)
Then start adding your condensed milk (or plain or evaporated milk), and keep stirring until everything is completely incorporated.

That's all there is to it. 

After about 5 minutes of stirring everything in, this is what you end up with:


The heaping bowl of snow only made about 2 good sized bowls, but when it's freezing outside, I really don't want to put very much "cold stuff" in me at a time!

Plus, Snow Cream is so ridiculously simple to make,
 that as long as you have access to clean fresh snow,  you can stir up more... any time you want!


Sunday, April 10, 2016

My sister is coming!! WOO HOO!



I just got word this morning, that my baby sister (Leslie) who lives in Anacortes Washington, is on her way to visit me... and I'm over the moon about it!  She messaged me from Oregon a short while ago, and told me to get her bed fixed... so it shouldn't be long now!




I'm so excited, that I can't even think straight!  
Do we take her out for meals?  Do we cook at home... do we  barbecue?  
Oh my goodness gracious...what do we do?  
I don't think she's ever actually been to Murphy's before, even though she's been to where I lived in Altaville many times over the years... so I'm thinking that maybe we'll have breakfast at the Murphys Hotel or Hillbillies restaurant?  A picnic in the park, if the weather is nice?  Or maybe some of each?

And a bed!  That's important!   I hope she doesn't mind sleeping on the couch, because with all this packing to get ready to move, that's about all I have to offer.   Even though I'm sure that she won't mind a bit, I want everything to be nice for her - perfect for her!  
You know what I mean?

It's been just about 21 years since I've seen my little sister, so this week is going to be a blast!

 This is a picture of the 3 of us girls, so, so many years ago.  My oldest sister Susan is in the back,  I'm the blond in blue, and my little sister Leslie, is the little "cute as a button" one on the right!



 Now to get that darn "bed" cleared off! 





Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Saving Memories



I was standing out on the porch with my coffee this morning, and thinking about how much I'm going to miss my yard when we're moved.  I've spent virtually every morning of the last 3 and a half years out here  - in rain or shine -  and the memories are bittersweet.



Black Calla Lillie's



The growing season is so very short for these treasures, but they're breathtaking, all the same. Hopefully, I can dig them up, and take them with us.

~~~~~~~~


My Crepe Myrtle is just starting to leaf out... Sadly, we will miss out on the flowers this year

~~~~~~~~~~


My beautiful Hollyhocks... these ones, as well as another cluster close to the kitchen window, shoot up 12 feet or more every year and as sturdy as the stalks are, they're always weighed down with flowers.

~~~~~~~~~~



My sweet little guard cat with marble eyes... when the passing vehicle lights hit him, it causes his eyes to glow and  hopefully encourages the drivers to slow down a bit.  Well... actually it doesn't slow one particular 'neighbor' down, which is a one of the reasons we'll be glad to leave here.
~~~~~~~~~
 



The view from my porch. So many dead pines, due to the drought and the bark beetles, and although I've hated watching them die, it will eventually open up the view.
~~~~~~~~~~
 



My young apple tree... this will be it's 2nd year for fruit.  Last year, we had close to 30 apples on this skinny little tree, so I expect far more this year.
~~~~~~~~~




Chives and Lavender
 Even most of my potted plants will be left behind, or given away.
~~~~~~~~~~
 



My young Apricot tree.. she was completely covered in fruit last year, and this year looks to be the same!!
~~~~~~~~~~




Old cut metal bear that we found buried in the garden.  So many treasures, and probably many many more left for the new owners to discover.
~~~~~~~~~~

 


I don't know what this Rose is, but it's simply stunning when it's blooming, and it makes for a lovely frame at my kitchen window! In the foreground is the stalk from the other Hollyhock - well above the roof line.
~~~~~~~~~~


It's going to be hard to leave here, and we'll miss so many of the neighbors, but we're both looking forward to the new adventure in Georgia

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Chickens are good for what ails ya...


I've been stressing for the last several days, (ever since Wally's passing)  because earlier in the day on Wednesday,  I had promised my workmate Shirley, that I would try and find a couple of small hens for her.  Then with the stress of Wally collapsing, and then later, with us all dealing with the heartbreaking outcome.... the whole "I'll try and get you some chickens, Miz Shirley" idea was kind of forgotten.

But no sooner had Shirley left,and gotten home, then she called us at work to tell us that when she had gotten home, she found that her house had been broken into, while she was at work!

We kept her on the line until the sheriff and her daughter arrived to deal with it all, but I kept agonizing over the complete awfulness of the entire day for her, and  I seriously worried about it's impact on this sweet older lady.  Shirley is no spring chicken herself,  (for goodness sake, don't ever tell her I said that!) and  I knew that although the whole day had been rough on all of us,  it had been completely overwhelming for her.

 So now I was on the look-out for chickens.  I called here.... I called there... I sent emails... and I sent messages,  but I was having no luck finding a few small hens.  Until yesterday - when I hit the jackpot!
The woman I worked with yesterday, said that she had heard that her neighbor was getting rid of their chickens, in preparation for a bunch of new chicks - and that they didn't want their slightly older "girls" hen-pecking the young ones.  She would check into it for me... and then this morning, she called me back and said, "come and get them"!

We gathered up a box to put the ladies in, then called Shirley, to tell her that we would be bringing her some babies soon... and the excitement and joy in her voice, had me almost in tears!

Well... when we got to the place where we were picking up the hens, they had decided to hide under some snarly old bushes, and they were kind of hard to coax out... one hen took off, screeching her head off, but Dan saved the day (and muddied his clothes) by crawling right on in there, and catching the first one.

And what a beauty she was!
A gorgeous, gorgeous Golden Laced Wyandotte... and not the plain white Leghorn I had been expecting!  (why was I expecting a Leghorn?  Who knows?)


   Photo borrowed from http://www.poultryvalley.co.nz


The one that had taken off when we first got there, had gone straight back to her chicken yard, so once we got inside the yard and got the door closed tight, it was no trouble at all to catch her .

And we had another beauty!
This time a gorgeous wheaten and white Ameraucana - with her sweet little earmuffs and beard... looking so much like my Esther (we gave my small flock away a week or so back, because we're moving) that I almost cried!   I  just adore their funny little faces,  and the bonus is,  that they lay the prettiest blue eggs you ever did see!


 Photo courtesy of http://www.backyardchickens.com


We drove straight to Shirley's house just down the road from us, and when we got there, she was out preparing the coop, and getting the feed and water dishes cleaned,. for the new arrivals...  and she was almost dancing, as she was doing it!

The look of absolute joy on Shirley's face when we opened the box and she saw those hens
- her NEW hens - still has me grinning from ear to ear! 

The chickens now have a happy  new home, and my dear friend now has herself some sweet babies to dote on, and to help keep her mind occupied.

Lands sakes...   but that fragile looking little old lady, sure has a powerful and heartfelt squeeze!

All in all.... it was a great day for of us, and the chickie babes!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Thrift Store Wins & Thrift Store Losses


I've been working /volunteering at our little local thrift store since the beginning of the year, and I absolutely love it!  Not only the work itself (which involves just about everything imaginable) but I've been blessed to be able to work with, and spend time with, some amazing people.  I usually work on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and the Wednesday crew  are really some great folks to work with.  Well the folks are great on both days, and I love them all... but on Wednesdays, there are two special gals who come in at the same time as I do, and we just "clicked" right from the beginning,  if you know what I mean. 

All of the ladies I'm blessed to work with, are fun to be around, but there has always just been something special about Wally and Shirley... and maybe their "advanced" (at least to me, anyway) age has something to do with it.  They tend to treat me as the spry "young 'un" of the 3 of us, and it's somehow comforting to kind of feel "coddled by Mama figures" at my age.  These ladies both love to share their life experiences and stories, recipes and opinions, and it just makes the hours we spend together, whizz by.  It's been fascinating to listen to talk of their careers (Wally was a Botanist before retirement, and Shirley was/is still a Nutritionist - both back in the day when ordinary women didn't have "careers", so to speak) and I love to hear them talk about the dreams they've fulfilled, as well as their dreams for the future.

So yesterday was a wonderful day...

It started out with an amazing thrift store find of an old antique cheese box / pantry box, and I was thrilled when I found out that it was within my price range!



 I'm thinking that it's pre turn-of-the-century - and it's as heavy and solid as they come!


 1890's or maybe even slightly older, judging by the fasteners used to hold it together.



 It's in pretty good shape, although it's definitely showing the dings and dents of a life well lived.



And  yesterday was a bad day.

 Anyway...the gals and I worked like clockwork together yesterday, seemingly anticipating each others next move, and getting a whole lot accomplished before lunch time - with lots of laughter and talking and teasing  thrown in... which is the way it usually it is, on our day together.   Wally only works a short day, from 10am until lunch time, while Shirley is there until 3, while I and the lead person ( the "lead person" can vary week by week), continue to work until closing time.

Well, at about noon, Wally left to go next door to the Senior Center for lunch, and shortly thereafter, someone came in, and said that Wally had passed out right after eating her lunch.  911 was called, but in spite of half a dozen emergency vehicles, and at least a dozen medical personnel and sheriffs officers running in and out of the senior center, all putting in their best efforts, our Wally didn't make it.

It hit us all pretty hard.
I'm still having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that one minute we were laughing and sharing stories and recipes, and then the next minute... that those sharing and caring moments with Wally, would never happen again.

I was restless and stressed for most of the evening last night, and I kept wandering by that beautiful old cheese box, stroking it, and trying to find joy in it again, but it didn't work.
Maybe it's just too early.

Thank you for your friendship, Wally, and thank you for sharing so many of your life experiences, recipes and opinions on life in general with me.  It meant more than you know.




Thursday, March 31, 2016

You can't keep a good woman down. (New Beginnings, all over again)

.

Four years ago, when I  left Australia, and came back "home" to California, I thought my moving days were forever behind me. I wanted - and needed - to be near my son and his family.  But things didn't work out according to plan, and after 2 and a half long painful years, I finally realized that there are just some things that you can't change.  And not just for lack of trying, anyway.

So after a year or more of discussion, my husband and I made the decision to make another move.  Closer to other family members of mine, and closer to one of his daughters as well....  and so we bought us a house together.

So now we're moving again...  this time, all the way across the country to Hiawassee Georgia.

The house is gorgeous, the surrounds are gorgeous, and I'm looking forward to the  "big move" in just a few short weeks.  Well... not the packing and tossing and donating stuff we don't want or need, part.  But it will be so worth it, once we're finally all settled in and we can start enjoying ourselves once again.

The house is an old farmhouse, with plenty of room to move,  and to get away from each other and all the necessary updates have already been done, so all we'll have to worry about is some "we'll do it down the road" cosmetic work, like painting a few rooms.  Easy peasy stuff!
And the bonus?  Almost 3 full acres of tranquility, and one of the prettiest little trout streams running through it, that you ever did see!








Most of the dirty work here has already been done, especially since I've been busy packing things up for months now... and my sweet husband is due to head back east to the new house with the first load, about the 14th of April!  Alas... I have to stay back and take care of the animals while he does this first trip, but I should be back there and all settled in, by the end of the month.

New beginnings.... I love 'em!




Monday, December 14, 2015

The Butterfly



For quite a while now, we knew that we were going to lose my friend Jenny's husband, Peter... and our hearts were all breaking...  but stubborn man that he was, he just kept hanging in there.
And part of me - part of all of us - thought that it would never happen.

But earlier in the week, Jen asked me to call her.... and she told me then, that they were bringing Pete home from the hospital, for the last time.

I cried after I got off the phone, and I immediately started pricing plane tickets to Australia, but no matter how we crunched the numbers or where we looked, the facts is, these weeks leading up to Christmas are definitely not the time to start looking for international flights. So I decided to try later.  Closer to 'the time'.

Then this morning, I got a message from Jenny asking me to call,  and even though I knew Pete was nearing his time,  I fully expected her to tell me something funny that he had just said or done...

But all she said was:

"It's over, Katie"

I was too numb to say much of anything, and I know that she was having a hard time saying anything coherent too, so we cut the phone call short, with promises to call each other in a day or two.

So there I was, standing outside on the frozen deck at 7am in the morning, with the morning sky just beginning to lighten,  phone still clutched in my hand, and with the tears falling,  my mind just whirling and my heart breaking in two, because I wasn't there with my Jen and her family, where I needed to be.

Then something caught my eye...

It was a bright blue butterfly, swooping and darting around me in the icy air and half dark morning, and I said out loud, 
"but it's the wrong time of the year for butterflies!"

And then I heard 

"But not for Angels... it's never the wrong time for Angels."


  Goodbye, Peter... we will always love you.




Jenny, Emily, Ben, Matt, David and Tammi ...  I love you all.

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