REBOOT: A Quilting Quickie

I finished the quilt for Grandbaby #2 in May. It’s bright and cheerful, just like the boy it was made for.

Fiestaquiltkid

I took the quilt to church with me one Sunday morning and gave it to him after service. I think he liked it! We took a few more photos at lunch.

 

fiestaquiltkid2

 

fiestaquiltkid3

Man! I love this kid!

I machine quilted his quilt by simply stitching in the ditch in and around the nine patch blocks. I used a template to mark the centers of the solid blocks with various sizes and numbers of stars and then I machine quilted those. I pieced together scraps from the solid blocks for the scrappy binding. The solids are all Kona Cottons by Robert Kaufman, and the rest of the fabrics are assorted stripes and polka dots from various, quilt quality fabric makers.

 

fiestaquiltbackWhen I saw this fabric, I knew it was perfect for the back of his Fiesta Quilt.

I have several other quilts or  quilt projects in various stages of completion, and I’ve had no time to sit at my machine for weeks! I’m itching to get in there and sew, but my quilting plans are plans that I’ve always had to hold loosely.

 

butterfliesroundmycabin

The flimsy for Grandbaby #3’s quilt is done, but it needs to be sandwiched, marked, and quilted. Lots of pink and butterflies for her!

 

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The fabric for Grandbaby #4’s quilt is purchased. That girlie loves purple!

 

purpletumbler

I’ve cut all of the charm squares into tumblers, lined them up into rows, and stitched the first couple of rows, but that’s where it came to a halt weeks ago.  This fabric is Lovely by Debbie Beaves for RJR Fabrics.

 

red&bluerunner

I also started a red and aqua table runner for the kitchen table. I love this vintage look fabric. The line is Twice as Nice by The Quilted Fish for Riley Blake.

 

rocketmanquilt

And then there’s the quilt for Grandbaby #8, Dani’s first baby! It’s a boy! I’ve no illusions about having his quilt ready before he’s born in just a few, short weeks, but hopefully I’ll have it for him before spring.  Dani picked this super cool, retro fabric, and I love it! The line is Rocket Age, by October Afternoon for Riley Blake.

I’m hoping to get back to my machine soon. This fabric is calling to me, and I’ve got a bunch of grandkids, and four kids, to make quilts for! Still holding those quilting plans loosely.

 

REBOOT: What I’ve Been Reading

Time for reading slowed considerably for me this last year. It didn’t stop entirely, though, and I’ve read quite a bit since early summer.

You know, of course, how important I believe it is that you, and I, spend some time reading. These wise words echo often in my mind:

“Read, read, read! Use the Bible as your home base, but vary your diet. I usually have several books going at once, tucked around here and there for easy access.” ~Ruth Bell Graham~

Spending time in God’s word is, of course, vital for us; but reading, and reading widely, is also good. When Paul was imprisoned he asked Timothy to bring him not only the Scriptures, but also his beloved books.

“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, ALSO THE BOOKS, and above all the parchments.”
(added emphasis mine)
2 Tim. 4:13

(Please remember, if you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

I’ve not read nearly as many books these last few years as I would have liked, but the pace has recently picked up. For that I am very grateful! Here’s a quick look at the books I’ve read recently, with just a quick recommendation of each.

 

I was quite a ways behind the crowd in reading Emily Freeman’s wonderful A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live. It’s pretty normal for me to arrive late to the party where new books are concerned. Here’s the deal, though. God always, always has perfect timing. I read this book while Copper and I were away for our annual anniversary get away to the coast this summer. I had gobs of quiet time,  with only the sound of the waves crashing over the rocks, to read and ponder before reading and pondering some more. I loved this book! No matter who you are, or what you do, you are an artist! Remember what I said about homemaking as art? Emily’s approach is kind and encouraging, with plenty of gentle reminders to put away the voices of the naysayers and to live out the art form that God has given uniquely to you.

I’ve found Eric Metaxas to be an interesting writer. In the past, I’ve found his writing style difficult to digest, though I’ve enjoyed every book of his that I’ve read. In Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery, however, I thought his unique style was perfect for this biography of William Wilberforce and, specifically, his almost life long war against slavery. The book is never graphic, but the subject matter will make it a heavy read for some. Wilberforce was a champion in the fight against slavery, and a dynamic Christian man. This was a great read.

Haywood Smith’s The Twelve Sacred Traditions of Magnificent Mothers-In-Law was a fun, quick little read that lived on my Kindle for quite awhile. It was the perfect book to open while waiting for a short time at the orthodontist’s office or for my son to finish his piano lesson. Each of Haywood’s twelve traditions is given in a short, light-hearted chapter that will make you smile (or even giggle a little), but there is wisdom there, too. Fun reading!

Looking for a good romantic drama set in 1950’s – 1960’s Ireland? Me either, but Maeve Binchy’s Echoes was a wonderful surprise! It’s not all romance. There is intrigue and scandal and a lot of reflection about life in a small, Irish coastal town just a few decades ago. I loved her characters and this story.

I’ve read Creating a SenseSational Home countless times over the years, but every reading inspires me anew to remember to appeal to all five senses as I look well to the ways of my home. Too many times we concentrate only on how our homes look, but we forget to make sure that they smell nice, have pleasing sounds in and around them, and that we fill our homes with things that are pleasing to the touch and to the palette. Though the book is quite old, very little of its content is dated, and you can score a copy, as of this writing, for as little as a penny.

I didn’t see the movie, but I enjoyed the book! The Hundred-Foot Journey is the story of a boy, the son of a restaurant owner in Bombay,  who becomes a famous French chef. The story is filled with colorful characters and lots of culinary details.

I discovered this book when Lori Holt, whose quilting blog I follow, mentioned that she was listening to the audiobook version as she worked. I checked it out on Amazon, thought it looked good, and ordered a print copy late in the summer. Whistling Past the Graveyard is a charming, often intense, and a couple of times downright frightening, story of a young girl who leaves the home of her not-so-loving grandmother in search of the mother who left her years earlier. It’s set in the deep south of the early 1960’s, and reminded me,  just a bit, of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I liked this one a lot.

I gather book recommendations from all sorts of places. Reviews in magazines, fellow bloggers, Amazon recommendations, friends, and, quite often, the notes for the quotations given in a book, are just a few of the ways I find the books I read. When a friend recommends a book, though, I usually make it a priority to read that book as soon as I can. If she mentions a book, or series, repeatedly, then I really pay attention.

Christian fiction has never really been my thing. I usually find it wanting in either substance or writing quality. So, I was surprised when my friend, and fabulous author, Kendra Fletcher, mentioned The Reluctant Prophet series to me on more than one occasion. I bought the first book, The Reluctant Prophet, by Nancy Rue, in mid-July, intending to take it with me to the beach in August. The book never made it to the beach.

Less than two weeks later, I bought Unexpected Dismounts, the second book in the trilogy.

Then, just six days later, I ordered the final book, Too Far to Say Far Enough. I’m not sure what to tell you about this series. It wasn’t so much the story line, but that was really good. It wasn’t just the characters, though they were amazing and I loved all the heroes and heroines, and despised all the villains. It wasn’t even the amazing way that the gospel was unfolded and presented at every turn without coming across as phony or forced into the story.

The thing about this series that is so amazing to me, is what it awakened in me as I read it and the way those ideas and thoughts have continued to spin in my mind ever since. What does it really mean to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty, visit those who are in prison, and invite in those who are strangers? (Matthew 25) Those thoughts have haunted me, and inspired me, and given me a lot to ponder since reading the books, in rapid succession, just a couple of months or so ago.

I think that’s it! I’m fairly certain that’s a complete list of the books I’ve read since I last checked in, book-wise. I have book marks moving along in several more books right now, and you can see those here (give them a couple of seconds to load), or in the widget in the right sidebar you can see if you click through to my site.

Until next time, God bless you as you look well to the ways of your household!

 

REBOOT: Let’s Catch Up

You know, in many ways, these last couple of years have been a very hard season; but it’s all been wonderful and good and I am blessed by all of it. In the course of about three months time, Dani got married and moved an hour or so away, Aaron graduated from high school and started working a full time job, and Copper retired. Those were three BIG changes and they all happened at once. It was all wonderful and joy filled and good, and God blessed us mightily in all of it. But it was a lot of change in my home, and that change, no matter how good, left some chaos in its wake.

All at once my two biggest helpers, and errand runners, were gone. My husband was home more, but he had his own agenda of long awaited projects to get to. The house was way too quiet, and the lists of chores way too long. My time to spend online was severely limited, so not much was written in this space for the last couple of years. That’s not the whole of the reason why this space has been so quiet, and I’ll share more, by way of explanation soon. In the meantime, here’s what’s happening.

I’ll apologize, right here at the beginning, for all of the photos and the length of this post. I wanted to catch up in one fell swoop – so here goes!

copperresting

Though he’s retired, Copper doesn’t spend a lot of time resting! In fact, he’s working as an “on call” deputy several hours each week. He has several goals for that extra income and we are blessed by his ability to provide for extra stuff this way.

 

grandbabiesonbuggy

Corin, her husband, and their seven kids are all swell. The kids are growing up so fast, and the “baby” is two, which sort of takes away his “baby” status. They are 12, 11, 9, 7, 5, 4, and 2! Between their homeschool schedule and ours, we don’t see them every Thursday like we used to, but I do see them most Sundays.

cutedani

Dani is doing great, and she’s the cutest pregnant person I know! Baby boy, my eighth grandchild, is due toward the end of November, and we’re all super excited to meet him. Eight grandbabies! I have EIGHT grandbabies! I am so so so blessed!

azaleas

After sixteen years on this piece of property, we finally decided to put in a real backyard. We dug out all of our long-unplanted flower  beds, mixed in lots of good compost and rich soil, and then filled them with plants. I love that the back of our schoolroom is now planted with azaleas and hydrangeas. Next spring and summer, this bed should be glorious.

dixiebackyard

Dixie helped, of course. Our sweet, old dog is ten years old now. She may be gray, but there’s still a lot of life left in the old girl. Kinda like me!

sprinkleronbegonias

Copper trenched and laid sprinkler and drip lines for all of the flower beds, and he put them all on timers. It makes me smile to look out early in the morning and see the sprinklers working. After sixteen years of dragging hoses, this is a huge blessing!

 

lightsintree

I have a lot of solar lights around the backyard, but we hung a few strands of electric lights in the big tree. We call it our “hobbit party tree”! It’s been nice swimming, or just sitting out and reading, with the lights on after dark.

willonladder

willsweeps

Will helped a lot with the backyard. It took all six feet and two inches of him, at the top of a ladder, to hang those lights in the tree for me; and he did a fabulous job helping clean up the patio after we filled and planted the flower beds. Gosh, those plants have grown a lot since these pictures were taken!

goodunclewill

He’s such a fun kid! At a recent birthday party, he had three nieces and one nephew all hanging onto him as he made his way through Corin’s living room. They love him, and he loves them right back. And yes, his hair was super bright red earlier this summer, and then it was bright blue.

willatlunch

These days it’s mostly his natural brown, with light blue highlights still hanging on.

aaronisserious

And then there’s Aaron. He’s being goofy here, with Will, as he’s packing his lunchbox/ice chest for work. Aaron works swing shifts, and he has an almost hour long commute to work. He leaves the house in the early afternoon, and doesn’t get home until the wee hours of the morning.

Aaronthinks

 

Aaronlaughs

Aaron’s following his dream, one he’s had since he was about four years old. More details will follow as his plans are confirmed. I’m so proud of him I could burst!

mynikeapp

This is a screen shot of the Nike App on my phone. It lies. I don’t “run” anywhere, but for the last several months, since early summer, I’ve been walking several days each week. I really only have an hour, most days, to walk, but my pace and distance have increased significantly since I first started. That walking, along with joining Weight Watchers, has helped me to lose thirty pounds as of this week. I’ve a lot more to go, but I’m well on my way. I already have less joint pain and a lot more energy.

I’m planning a brief(ish) post on books and quilting and such next, and then we’ll be all caught up and ready to move on.

Thanks so much for your sweet comments on the last post and on the Facebook page. I post on Instagram and Twitter, too, throughout the week, so you can follow along there, too, if you’d like.

REBOOT: Saying Hello

Reboot is kind of a cool word, one that didn’t even exist until the computer age. It’s a good word, though, and one that I think works well as I get back into the swing of things here.

REBOOT: restart or revive, give fresh impetus to

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In the days ahead, I’ll try to catch you up on what’s been going on here in my home and with my family. I’m planning a separate post to catch up on books, quilting and knitting. And I’ll finish up this little “REBOOT” series with my plans for Copperswife moving forward.

Somewhere in the middle of all of that, I’ll be posting an explanation of why the blog went cold and, frankly, why it’s been so hard to write for the last few years. There’s a lot of raw emotion caught up in that, but it needs to be said. I want you to know….you need to know….. how big grace really is.

REBOOThello3

I can’t promise a time frame. My home internet connection is still painfully slow, and I may have to upload photos when I’m in town, but I’m not letting the s – l – o – w Internet speed completely thwart me anymore.

So, hello! It’s good to see you again!

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Quilt…..

My grandson’s quilt has been put on hold, but only temporarily.

(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

I am, more or less, a self-taught quilter. I have a very dear friend, though I’ve never met her in real life, who has encouraged and coached and answered hundreds of my newbie quilting questions all via email or private message. Without her, I’d have never gotten started. A few weeks ago, though, I signed up for three beginning quilting classes at the quilt shop in the nearby city. One class is three sessions long, and the other two are just single sessions. The goal, of course, is to improve my piecing, cutting, assembly and quilting skills so that I can do a better job on the quilts I have planned. I have an ongoing goal, as most of you know, to be a life-long learner, and quilting is one of the things that I’d love to learn to do well.

kansastroublesfourpatches

It’s been a bit of a mixed bag, so far, with the three session class. A mix-up on the instructor’s supply list caused me to be woefully short of fabric after the first class. I ordered more fabric, but now I have two class sessions worth of homework to finish before next Monday. I love the class quilt, and I really love the fabric I chose for the quilt. The fabric is the Sweet Pea Collection from Kansas Troubles Quilters.

pairoffourpatches

The colors in this line really appealed to me, as do most of the prints. The quilt is made up of 35 four-patch blocks. I have twenty-one completed so far, and will be sewing like crazy for the next few days to complete all of the four patch blocks, combine all of those for the quilt center, and then begin the appliqué that makes the quilt special. I’m in a bit over my head, at this point, but I’m determined to finish well.

secondsockstarted

Knitting has taken a bit of a backseat, as well. I finished the first sock during the Winter Olympics, and have knit just a few rows past the ribbing of the second sock during Will’s baseball practices. I take my knitting to the park most every practice, but I get so distracted watching the team, not much knitting gets done. Maybe these washable wool socks will be finished before next fall!

bookstackmarch26

All of the same books are still in my stack, but I’m making great headway in Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery. Until now, I’ve not been a huge fan of this author’s writing style, though the content of his books keeps me reading and coming back for more. Amazing Grace, however, has been an interesting, albeit a hard, read. In this instance, Eric Metaxas does a tremendous job of pulling his readers into the passion that William Wilberforce had for the abolition of the British slave trade, and exposing its true horrors.

Expressing our creativity is important for all of us, and we, as makers of our homes, are artists. I also think that it’s vital that we all have at least one book that we’re reading at any given time. What are you creating right now? What book, or books, are you enjoying?

 

Using Evernote As Your Recipe Box

Evernote is a great way to keep track of all of your recipes. In fact, Evernote is now my primary recipe box. It’s the one app I use all day, almost every day.  Here are some suggestions for you so that you can get started using Evernote for your own recipes.

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(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

Before we add that first recipe, you’ll want to decide how you want to use your Evernote account …notebooks, notebook stacks, or just tagging everything.  I started out with notebooks, and then built stacks, and then I discovered the wonders of tagging.  (Stacks are a just a group of notebooks that you can lump together under a common title.)  I now use a combination of notebooks and tagging, and I’m constantly adding tags to old notes that don’t have them. 

I want you to set up your recipes in Evernote in a way that makes sense to you. You might just want to add all of your recipes into one “Recipe” folder. If you choose this method, be sure to add plenty of tags to each recipe so that you can find it later. You can also choose to set up separate notebooks for each category of recipe – main dishes, desserts, etc.

Recipe Box stack

In the picture above, you can see my “Recipe Box” stack, with all of the notebooks contained in that stack listed immediately underneath. I have my Chicken Main Dishes notebook open. Again, you set up Evernote in the way that will work best for you.

Evernote Tip: Remember, to set up all new notebooks as “Synchronized” notebooks, so that you can access them on all of your devices, or on any computer with an Internet connection.

There are several ways that you can now begin adding your recipes to Evernote. Today, I’ll give you two basic methods, and we’ll cover other methods next time.

 

newnoteinbreakfast

First, you can add a recipe by typing it in as a new note. Open the notebook that you’d like to hold the recipe, then click “New Note” at the top. Title your note with the recipe’s name, and start typing. Easy! In the photo above, I have my Breakfast notebook open, and the arrow is pointing to “New Note in Breakfast”.

 

breakfastrecipe

Once I click that box, a new note will open and I can begin typing in my new breakfast recipe.  Add the title of the recipe in the title box, and then just type in your recipe the same way that you’d write the recipe out on a recipe card.

 

clicktoaddtags

You want to be sure to add tags to all of your recipes. Tagging them really gives you access to one of the most valuable features of Evernote – the ability to search for a recipe even if you don’t know what it’s called or what notebook it’s in. Tags are your very best friend in Evernote. Use them! If you’re not sure if you should add a particular tag or not, go ahead and add it. You’ll never regret having too many tags. To add tags to your recipe, or to any note, click the “Click to add tags” button.

 

tagsadded

Now you can add all the tags you’d like. Evernote will save your tags, and once you’ve used a tag once, it will start popping up for you so that you don’t have to type it all the way out. You can just click it to add it.  In the photo above, I’ve tagged this recipe with “breakfast” “coffee cake” and “Pioneer Woman”.

If this were a main dish recipe, I’d include the meat used as a tag (beef, ground beef, chicken, pork, meatless, etc.).  If it’s a recipe that feeds a crowd, I include a tag for that, too. If the recipe can be cooked in a slow cooker, I tag it with “crockpot”. If the recipe can be frozen and served later, I tag it with “freezer” or “freezer meal”. Make the tags your own. You want to be able to find your recipes, and the best way to do that is to tag them with words that make sense to you.

If you’ve forgotten some of the tags you’ve used, don’t despair. Evernote remembers them for you.

findtags

 

You can scroll down to the little “tags” icon on the left sidebar. If you click that icon, a page will open with all of the tags that you’ve ever used.

-OR-

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You can also open up that same page of tags by clicking “view” at the top of your screen, and then clicking “tags” from the drop down menu.

 

findingevernoteemail

Second, you can email recipes right into your Evernote account. Evernote set up a private Evernote email address for you when you set up your account. To find that address, open up your account information. You can do that by finding the little drop down arrow next to your name at the top of your screen (see the photo above), and then clicking the arrow for the drop down menu.  You’ll then see  “Account Info”. Click “Account Info”.

 

evernoteemail2

When your account information window opens up, you will see a line that says “email notes to” and your private Evernote email address will be given there. Evernote will automatically save any notes you email to your account directly into your Default Notebook. You can forward emails that contain recipes into your Evernote account, or you could even share your Evernote email address with a friend who is sending you a recipe. Another fun thing is to use your phone to take a good, sharp picture of a friend’s recipe card and then email that to your Evernote account.

EVERNOTE TIP: Add your Evernote email address to your contacts list on your computer and your phone. That way, you can send pictures, notes, and all sorts of information directly to your Evernote account no matter where you are. Take a photo with your phone, or type in a quick note, and email it to Evernote! Nothing could be easier.

There you have it – two ways that you can begin, right now, to add your recipes to Evernote. The first method is the one that I’m using to get most of the recipes from all of my old recipe boxes and binders into Evernote. I’m adding a few a week, as I have time or as I pull them out to use them. Slowly but surely, I’m getting all of them saved into Evernote.

Next time, hopefully sometime toward the middle of next week, I’ll share with you how I save recipes, and all sorts of other great stuff, from all over the Internet to Evernote. It’s fun,  it’s easy, and it’s a great way to keep and organize all of those recipes you want to try.

You’ll find all of the posts in my Paperless Homemaking Series here.

 

 

America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Review

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve had a general, all-purpose cookbook that I’ve absolutely loved. That long wait makes this find all the sweeter!

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(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

I really can’t take any credit for discovering this cookbook. Last fall, while my kitchen was being remodeled, I asked several folks, who enjoy  cooking and baking as much as I do, to share some of their favorite cookbooks and/or cooking resources with me. I had several great responses, and I’ll be checking out all of them in the coming months.  However, my daughter, Dani, said that she loved The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook,  and I chose her recommendation as my first purchase.

In the last few months, I’ve prepared dozens of recipes, from almost every section of the cookbook. The recipes have all been delicious, family friendly, and, best of all, completely made from scratch. You won’t find any prepackaged mixes or overly processed ingredients in these recipes! Where canned, or frozen, ingredients are used, the editors of the cookbook are careful to tell you just why that is the best choice for the dish you are preparing.

That “why” is a good portion of the reason why I love this cookbook so much. Learning why something works, goes a long way toward making you a better cook. I’ve learned several techniques that I’ll use beyond the recipes in this cookbook. A few examples are: how to keep breaded, pan-fried meats crispy during and after frying; proper herb mincing technique and which knife to use for the job; and how to keep the pasta or vegetables in a long simmering soup from becoming mush.  An old dog really can learn a new trick or two! It’s important, to me, to not just keep doing things the same way I’ve always done them when there may very well be a better way to do it. I plan to be a life-long learner, and cooking is a good place to keep that spirit alive.

The recipes all have terrific, step-by-step instructions that make preparing a new dish easy. Quite often, there are clear photographs to go along with the instructions. Not sure if the white bread and buttermilk mixture you’re making for the Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs is quite the right consistency? Just look at the picture!

 

braisingfish

There are lots and lots of helpful tips about ingredients, techniques and equipment scattered throughout the cookbook. There’s almost one on every page.

 

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I also appreciate the special sections that help you figure out which cut of meat, or piece of fish, can be used in place of the cut called for in a recipe.

This particular edition of The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook contains a  thirty-two page guide to kitchen cookware and equipment, which covers everything from measuring tools, to pots and pans, skillets, mixers, bakeware and even grilling gear. That’s all followed by a fifteen page buying guide which will help you select the best bets for new, or replacement equipment for your kitchen. They even share their favorite plastic wrap with you!

 

buyingguide

Most of us can’t afford to buy all new kitchen equipment all at once, but it’s nice, when it’s time to purchase a new skillet, small appliance, or even a whisk, to know which are the best on the market, and which are the best buy. I was recently in the market for a good quality baking stoneto use for pizza and rustic breads. It was great to see that America’s Test Kitchen recommended the the very stonethat I’ve had my eye on. By the way – even though this cookbook, which was published in 2010, has fairly current pricing information, be sure to check around. The baking stoneI bought retails most places, and is listed in the buying guide, for $54.95; but I purchased it from Amazon for $40.22.

 

ATKtesting

There are also product tests and recommendations scattered throughout the cookbook. I like that even though the folks at America’s Test Kitchen might prefer the super expensive Le Creuset, they let you know that there’s also a more reasonably priced alternative.

I was also pleased to see that a good number of the recipes have a “make ahead” note (see the photo above), letting you know how to use your time more efficiently by prepping a dish hours, or even days, ahead of time, and how to safely keep it until you’re ready to finish the dish to serve.

While I’ve not found any printing errors, Dani alerted me to the fact that the double crust pie recipe triples the fat from the single pie crust recipe, rather than simply doubling it. I have no way of knowing if this was an error that the editors missed, or if the published double crust pie recipe is just the way they make it. I followed Dani’s lead, though, and just doubled the single crust pie recipe and it turned out beautifully.

The recipes include fairly accurate serving, prep and cooking times, which I find very helpful when planning my meals. I did notice that my “prep” times tended to run longer than those listed by America’s Test Kitchen, but I’ve gained speed as I’ve become more familiar with, and gained confidence in, the new-to-me techniques. My prep times are now pretty consistent with those listed.

 

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The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook contains hundreds of recipes that will provide years of wonderful cooking experiences for your family. There are great family recipes, as well as wonderful company dishes. This particular edition,with the Cookware and Buying Guides, would make a terrific wedding or bridal shower gift, too. I love this cookbook. It will have a permanent place in my kitchen for years to come.

 

Juggling The Dinners Menu Plan

I made my menu plan for this week before I knew which days, if any, Copper would be working, and before Will’s coach sent out the week’s baseball practice schedule.  I’m glad I didn’t wait. Will’s baseball practice schedule wasn’t released until Sunday afternoon, and we were gone all day celebrating Copper’s dad’s 81st birthday with family and friends, and then we spent the evening visiting with Dani & Sean.  It was a fabulous day, but I was tired by nightfall (it’s 11:30 p.m. as I type this!), and there is no way that I would have been able to come up with a decent menu plan this late.

All of my breakfast and lunch plans should be fine, and I’ll just juggle the dinners around to fit the week the way it now looks. With everything planned around what’s already available in my freezer, fridge and pantry, the day the various dinners are actually prepared really doesn’t matter.

(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

Because it’s so late, I’ll just dive right into the menu for the week. Here’s my “juggling the dinners” menu plan!

MONDAY:
Breakfast – Waffles
Lunch –  Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Baby Carrots & Ranch Dip
Dinner – Ree’s Favorite Meatloaf, Buttered Egg Noodles, Steamed Broccoli

TUESDAY:
Breakfast – Bacon and Eggs-In-A-Hole
Lunch – Meat Loaf Sandwiches, Chips
Dinner – Italian Chicken Packets, Garlic Toast

WEDNESDAY:
Breakfast – Cinnamon Baked Donuts
Lunch – Breakfast Burritos (who says you can’t have breakfast for lunch?), Fresh Fruit
Dinner – Bacon & Avocado Cheese Burgers, Parmesan Fries, Green Salad

THURSDAY:
Breakfast – Old Fashioned Oat Meal
Lunch – Egg Salad Sandwiches, Fruit
Dinner – Beef, Bean & Cheese Burritos, Green Salad

FRIDAY:
Breakfast – Pancakes
Lunch – OYO (Everyone is on their own)
Dinner – Thai Red Beef Curry (from this cookbook), White Basmati Rice, Asian Chopped Salad

SATURDAY:
Breakfast – Cereal
Lunch – PBJ Sandwiches, Chips
Dinner – Baked Ziti, Green Salad

SUNDAY:
Breakfast – Pumpkin Gingerbread with Orange Glaze
Lunch – Out After Church
Dinner – Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder, Corn Muffins

If menu planning is a new idea for you, or if you just need a few new ideas to freshen up your menus, my Menu Planning Series will help!

As always, I’m joining in this week’s Menu Plan Monday. What’s cooking at your house this week?

 

 

Baseball, Company & Good Eats

We won’t play our first game for a few weeks yet, but baseball is still keeping us hopping. Will has three practices a week, and all right at the time that I’d normally be prepping and cooking dinner. Having a well thought out menu plan is essential. We’re having company, at least a couple of times this week, too. I love that the workflow in my new kitchen allows me plenty of space to prep and bake and cook and clean up, all at the same time.

I waited a very, very long time for this kitchen, and I’m thankful for it every single day. However, making the most of the space you have can really help you love even a poorly designed, falling apart kind of kitchen. See my Less Than Perfect Kitchen Series for more on that.

(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

I’m relying on some quick prep, quick cooking main dishes this week so that we can still enjoy a delicious dinner before heading to ball practice.  A late brunch is the order of the day when Copper’s Dad visits us on Monday, and I’ll be trying out my brand new pizza stoneand a new pizza recipe when Will’s best buddy visits us late in the week. I’ll also enjoy the fruit of my earlier labors as I pull the second pan of Manicotti, made a couple of weeks ago, out of the freezer.  It only took about ten extra minutes to put together the second pan of Manicotti for the freezer, and what a blessing having that freezer meal ready to go is!

I also have a rough list of some things I’m hoping to bake this week. I’m not going to stress over getting these made, but I love having a list in mind if time to bake happens.

Here’s our menu for the week. As always, I’m joining Laura for this week’s Menu Plan Monday.

MONDAY:
Breakfast – Waffles
Lunch – (Actually a late brunch) Aztec Quiche, Poppy Seed Toast, Pretty-Yummy Fruit Salad
Dinner – Roast Beef, Provolone, Bacon & Avocado Sandwiches on Whole Wheat Toast, Chips

TUESDAY:
Breakfast – Cereal
Lunch – Meat Sandwiches, Chips
Dinner – Coconut Chicken with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce, Bacon Wrapped Green Beans, Dani’s Turmeric Rice

WEDNESDAY:
Breakfast – Cinnamon Raisin Toast & Scrambled Eggs Supreme
Lunch – Cheese Quesadillas, Baby Carrots & Ranch Dip
Dinner – Pork Medallions with a Bourbon-Apricot Pan Sauce (America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook),Tri-Color Couscous Pilaf, Chopped Salad

THURSDAY:
Breakfast – Oatmeal
Lunch – Left over Pork Medallions, Warm Tortillas, Peaches
Dinner – Tacos, Green Salad

FRIDAY:
Breakfast – Pancakes
Lunch – Everyone’s on their own
Dinner – Chicken-Bacon-Garlic-Basil Pizza, Green Salad

SATURDAY:
Breakfast – Blueberry Coffee Cake, Bacon
Lunch – Tostadas
Dinner – Manicotti, Green Salad, French Bread & Butter

SUNDAY:
Breakfast – finishing up the Blueberry Coffee Cake
Lunch – out after church
Dinner – Pasta E Fagioli (America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook), Garlic Toast

MY IF-I-HAVE-TIME-TO-BAKE LIST
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Triple Cinnamon Scones
Raspberry Cornmeal Pancakes with Lemon Curd
Pain à l’Ancienne Rustic Bread (Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day)

Looking for more information on why, and how, to menu plan? My Menu Planning Series can help!

 

 

 

Almond Poppy Seed Bread – Best Toast Ever!

I recently rediscovered my recipe for Almond Poppy Seed Bread, and I’ve been making it fairly often ever since. This bread is good to serve, spread with butter, as a side dish to almost any meal, and it’s texture and stability make it a good sandwich bread when a slightly sweet bread enhances the filling. However, my very favorite use of this bread is to toast it, spread it with real butter, and enjoy it alone, or alongside of scrambled eggs for breakfast. Or lunch. Or Whenever.

almondpoppyseedtitle

(If you click on the links below, and then make a purchase, some of them may put a few pennies into my pocket. Of course, there is no additional cost to you. I am always grateful to those of you who choose to bless me this way. You can read about how I spend those pennies, and more about how I earn them, in my disclosure policy.)

Almond Poppy Seed Bread makes the best toast ever. Slightly sweet with lots of great almond flavor. Great texture that holds up well in the toaster.

twothirdscupalmonds

The thing that makes it extra great, though, is the addition of the slivered almonds. They add a bit more flavor, and a lot more crunch, and all in all are what I think makes this such a terrific loaf for toasting. My recipe says 2/3 cup of slivered almonds. I make that a heaping 2/3 cup because I love them so much.

 

hello poppy seeds

There are also two Tablespoons of poppy seeds in this loaf. They look like a lot floating around in the pan, but as they’re mixed in and the bread rises, it ends up being just the right amount.

 

ready for the machine

That’s yeast on the top, in the picture above, but the slightly creamy color under the yeast is buttermilk powder. I use Saco Buttermilk Powderexclusively in all of my recipes that call for Buttermilk. I like Saco brand because it blends in beautifully and the results in the final product are every bit as good as they’d be from liquid buttermilk. The trick is to add the Buttermilk Powder to your dry ingredients, and then add water with the liquid ingredients in the same amount as the buttermilk called for the in the recipe.

The ratio of Buttermilk Powderis 1 Tablespoon of Buttermilk Powder for each 1/4 cup of Buttermilk called for in your recipe. The water ratio is cup for cup the same as the buttermilk used. In this recipe, I added 1 – 3/4 cups water at the beginning (instead of 1 – 3/4 cups buttermilk), and then added 7 Tablespoons of Buttermilk Powder with the bread flour. Super easy, and those directions are printed right on the container if you forget.

almondpoppyseedrecipe

My Almond Poppy Seed Bread recipe is on Evernote, which makes it super easy for me to find every time I want to make it.  Lord willing, tomorrow will be the day that I tell you how to use Evernote as your recipe box as I continue my Paperless Homemaking Series.

This is one of my current favorite recipes. It’s delicious, but because it’s made in the bread machine, it’s quick and easy to make, too. Delicious, quick and easy is always a good combination!

ingredients

ALMOND POPPY SEED BREAD

1 3/4 cups buttermilk (or 1 3/4 cup water if you use Buttermilk Powder)
2 Tablespoons Almond Extract (yes, TABLESPOONS)
4 Tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 1/2 cups bread flour (if you’re using Buttermilk Powder, add 7 Tablespoons Buttermilk Powderwith the flour)
2 teaspoons yeast
2/3 cup slivered almonds

Add all ingredients, except the slivered almonds, into the bread machine pan in the order listed. Set machine for basic, or regular/white bread cycle. Add almonds at the beep. Enjoy the wonderful aroma as it bakes!

I currently own, and love, my Zojirushi Home Bakery, and feel it’s worth every penny. Dani has the Zojirushi, too.  However, I also really liked  my old Breadman Ultimate, and my daughter, Corin still has hers, and she and my grandkids use it several times a week. I recommend both of these bread machines.