Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekend at Grandma & Grandpa's House

Had a wonderful, beautiful weekend. Friday night the grandkids came over for a two-night visit while Mom & Dad had a much needed weekend away. This was the itinerary:

Friday night: Pizza at the local restaurant. Highlight: Being told by other patrons that when they saw us coming with kids they groaned. Then they told us they were so impressed with our grandchildren they just had to tell us they enjoyed their meal tremendously. (Could it be these children have been taught how to behave in a public setting, to be respectful of others around them, to enjoy the company of the ones they are with instead of wanting to move around and to speak in a proper tone instead of screaming to be heard?)


Taking them to the new Super WalMart. Highlight: Actually being able to walk around the store without chasing children AND walking through the toy department without having to buy them one toy. (Could it be that these children have been taught that it's okay to look and dream without having to have every want fulfilled immediately?)

Off to Nana's house for a quick visit. PopPop was working :( Highlight: They love their great-grandparents. (Could it be that these children are being taught the value of family and it's okay to just pop in for a few minutes just to say hi?)

Aunt Sue's for lunch. Four adults, four children and loads of fun. Highlight: Kids played well together while the adults had time to sit and chat. (Could it be that the children are being taught that there are times when the grown-ups would like to visit too?)

Back to Grandma & Grandpa's for dinner and a movie. Highlight: Sitting in the dark, eating popcorn and having the movie in surround sound a little louder than it should be making it feel like we were in a real movie theater. (Could it be that the children are being taught that you can have fun right there in your own living room?)

Sunday: Enjoying a big country breakfast together, having your granddaughter sing a song that you could pretend to cry at the beginning and then laugh with joy at the end, raking leaves outside with Grandpa and running through the house and screaming because Grandpa was playing the monster part. Highlight: Seeing the children's faces because they didn't want to go home even though they were happy to see Mom & Dad. (Could it be that the children have been allowed to bond with their grandparents and their grandparents aren't too busy to spend time with their grandchildren?)

Overall I would say the weekend was PRICELESS!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Spaghetti Squash

There is an abundance of Spaghetti Squash at this time of year. Up until last year, I was intimidated by this (and most) squash. I stopped by an Amish farm stand and spoke with a wonderful mother and daughter about this produce. They explained to me how easy it was to cook and prepare. This was one of their favorite meals served with either a marinara or meat sauce.

I thought that if you are like me, you may have passed this up at your local farm stand or grocery store because you don't know how to prepare it either. So I decided to take pictures of how I made this squash. It really is easy!!!

First, you want to choose one that is blemish free. There is quite a bit of "spaghetti" inside so choose according to your family size. (The first time I made this, I had a fairly large squash and we were eating it for a few days.)

With a large, sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise. As you can see, there are quite a few seeds inside. (Not sure if you can roast these like pumpkin seeds but I would think that they would be comparable.)

Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp with a large spoon. Make sure you leave the flesh of the squash intact.

Place squash, cut side down, in roasting pan. (I used a 9x13 glass baking pan.) You can add a little bit of water if you would like, but I found that this wasn't critical.

Cover tightly with foil. Bake in 350 degree oven for approximately 1 hour.

Squash is cooked when fork tender.

Allow to cool enough to handle. Place in large bowl and with fork begin scraping out the "spaghetti". Keep scraping until all strands are removed and you are left with an empty shell.

As you can see, you do wind up with quite a bit of spaghetti. This squash is somewhat bland but yet there is a hint of sweetness to it. You can serve this with a tomato based sauce if you'd like. Or, try some warmed olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. Makes a great main dish or side dish.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Until Next Year :(

Remember I was telling you about our ONE blueberry bush! Well, here's the last of this year's harvest - over 6 gallons of big, beautiful blueberries!!!

Most have gone into the freezer for muffins, cakes, ice cream, etc. so, if you have any good blueberry recipes, feel free to pass them on!!!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Beef Stew

As the weather begins to cool, I start looking forward to those "comfort" foods we all enjoy. One of my favorites is beef stew that has slowed cooked in the crock pot. After an hour or so, the house begins to smell wonderful and I can't wait until the stew is finished and we can sit at the table with a bowl of hot stew and warm bread out of the oven.

Not being one who doesn't share, I thought that you might like to try this for yourself:

Beef Stew:
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 ribs celery, sliced
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 3/4 tsp dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 lbs lean beef stew meat, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (14 1/2 oz) reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cold water
Layer ingredients in slow cooker in the following order: carrots, celery, potatoes, onions, garlic, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, basil, pepper, beef, tomatoes with juice and broth. Cover and cook on LOW 8 to 9 hours.

Remove beef and vegetables to large serving bowl; cover and keep warm. Remove and discard bay leaf. Turn slow cooker to HIGH; cover. Mix flour and water in small bowl until smooth. Add 1/2 cup cooking liquid; mix well. Stir flour mixture into slow cooker. Cover and cook 15 minutes or until thickened. Pour sauce over beef and vegetables. Serve with your favorite crusty bread.