Yes! Another train trip to Texas.

Almost a year ago, I took the Amtrak Heartland Flyer to Fort Worth, to see a concert.  Now I’ve done it again, for another dose of culture, including the band ‘Yes’ and much more!  This should definitely become a habit.

This trip was to see the ‘Royal Affair’ tour, consisting of Asia, Steve Howe’s Yes, John Lodge of the Moody Blues, and Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy with guest vocalist Arthur Brown.

The show opened with something ‘Crazy’ I never expected to experience live:

One thing that did draw me to the show was Carl Palmer.  Fifty years ago, he was the amazing drummer for the amazing Emerson Lake & Palmer.  Today he is possibly even better.  He did sets with his own band, and as a member of Asia.

Carl Palmer drums RSR

Curiously, there was a little megaphone on stage.

Buggles megaphone RSR

Before long, I knew why:  One of the Asia members was in the Buggles.  So I’ve now sung along to ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’…with Carl Palmer on drums!

Other special moments were hearing the John Lodge 10,000 Light Years band perform ‘Legend of a Mind’ (Timothy Leary’s Dead); a song from John’s early years with the Moody Blues at their most psychedelic.

Then Steve Howe’s ‘Yes’ did a full set of Yes songs.  Steve’s guitar playing was another main highlight.  The entire concert was over four hours long.  Definitely a full evening.

The next morning, it was back to Fort Worth for an afternoon of museums via Bike Share.  It was Sunday morning, so I had extra time to kill before the museums opened.  I did some exploring around downtown, first with a bike ride around downtown, and then via the free Molly-the-Trolley loop.  All of my modes of transportation were available from the Fort Worth Intramodal Transportation Center (Fort Worth ITC).

Fort Worth ITC RSR

When the museums opened, I headed to the Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Museum via bike.  It was already a hot day, but with a slight breeze, thankfully.

Bridge bike RSR

Trinity Park RSRCowgirl HOF selfie RSR

The museum district has these great murals on the buildings.

Ft Worth murals RSR

After that, it was time for an unplanned treat.  Just down the street from the Cowgirl museum, the Kimbell Art Museum has a special Monet exhibit!  It runs through September 15, 2019.  I saw dozens of original Monets!  It was fascinating, comparing the painted scenes at a distance, and then up close where the brush strokes and colors seemed almost random.

Monet 1 RSRMonet 2 RSRMonet 3 RSR

The famous bridge.

Monet 4 RSRMonet 5 RSRMonet 6 RSR

All of those lovely water lilies.

Monet water lillies RSR

Monet water lillies --close RSR

From the museums it was a bike ride back to the Fort Worth ITC station, and time to board my Amtrak train for home.

Train approaching RSRTrain boarding RSR

It was another gorgeous, scenic ride; on time, with a dinner of buffalo chicken and wine, and no bad weather.  I was home by midnight.

River view RSRRiver and peak RSR

IMG_20190721_175227499_HDRa RSR

Homemade Ice Cream — made with the stand mixer

Ice cream is a year round food for me.  This Kitchen Aid ice cream maker attachment was on my wish list for ages.  But at around $100, I considered it too pricey for an ice cream making gadget.  And then finally came a Black Friday deal, and I bagged my own ice cream freezing/churning bowl for under $50.  (Although still a little on the pricey side for this frugal cook.)  Lately the price seems to be holding at the $50 level.

https://smile.amazon.com/KitchenAid-KICA0WH-Cream-Maker-Attachment/dp/B0002IES80

Ice Cream bowl

Ice cream bowl and attachments

The Kitchen Aid (or any frozen ice cream mixing bowl) is super convenient, because you don’t have to deal with the bags of ice and rock salt needed for a traditional ice cream machine.  The frozen mixing bowl works quicker, too.  But there’s a process to it.  So without further delay, here’s what works for me:

The Recipe — comes from this blogger:  https://barefeetinthekitchen.com/homemade-ice-cream-recipe/   Visit her page for excellent instructions and comments.

Everyone has their own target level for ice cream taste, texture and nutrition; and her ingredients are more rich than my preference.  So below is my version of the ingredients.  For my taste, this texture is still creamy enough to enjoy and not feel deprived of the decadence:

1 cup heavy cream
2 cups skim milk
¾ cup sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp sea salt

Quick Method (for eating soft ice cream asap):

  • Mixer bowl must be frozen in advance.  There are no shortcuts for this step.
  • Combine all of the ingredients and pour into frozen mixer bowl.
  • Churn in frozen mixer bowl for 25-30 minutes.
  • Serve.  It will have a light, soft-serve consistency, with a slight crystal-ly texture.  It will be a bit like eating frozen, sweetened whipped cream.
  • Then store the leftovers in the freezer, and in a few hours, you should have perfect hard scoop ice cream.

Longer Method (for smooth hard scoop consistency):

  • Freeze the mixer bowl in advance.
  • Combine the ingredients and cook on the stovetop, just long enough to dissolve the sugar.  Stir while cooking.
  • Chill the mixture in the fridge.
  • Pour the chilled mixture into the frozen mixing bowl and churn for 25-30 minutes.
  • Transfer to a tub with lid, and freeze for a few hours, or overnight.

When you start the churning process, it will look like this:

Then 10-15 minutes later, you’ll notice the mixture expanding and taking form:

After 25-30 minutes, the mixture will be at or close to the top of the bowl, and the motor will be working harder: 

That’s when I stop and scoop the soft-frozen mixture into a tub, and put the tub in the deep freeze for a few hours.  The batch fits perfectly in a 45 oz margarine tub:

Ice cream tub b w

Carton label w edited RSR

A few hours later, it’s like this:

Ice Cream scoop w


Serving:  My current favorite toppings are strawberries and homemade chocolate sauce.

Ice cream toppings2 w RSR

Or, you can take it to another level and make Fried Ice Cream.  (And then top it with strawberries and chocolate sauce.)

One final tip:  After the churning process, the mixing bowl will still be partly frozen.  Immediately wash it and put it back in the freezer so it will soon be ready to make the next batch.


Start the process now, and by the time this video stops playing, you’ll have your own delicious homemade perfect hard scoop ice cream.

 

DIY Mini Rolling Pin (and making dog treats easy)

It was a drag, rolling out dough to fit my baking sheets.  The sheets are ‘jelly roll’ style, which means they are rimmed with a raised edge.  A regular rolling pin is too big to fit within the pan.  My option was to treat it like pastry dough; i.e., roll the dough out on the counter and measure it to fit the sheet, then carefully lift the dough and place it in the sheet; or press the dough into the sheet with my fingers and then roll it with whatever cylindrical gadget I could find to fit the pan.

Some of the gadgets I’ve tried; none of which worked out very well:

IMG_20190427_094616205w

Myrtle-the-pup loves homemade dog treats, and I enjoy making them.  So this issue of rolling out the dough was becoming an all-too-frequent annoyance.

The solution:  I bought a 1.25-inch diameter wood dowel from the craft aisle of the store.  It was $1.50.  They are sold in 3-foot lengths.  At home, with a little saw, I measured and cut a piece to the width of my baking sheet.  Then washed the new little ‘rolling pin’ and coated it with mineral oil.

IMG_20190427_090431927w

Now, a batch of dough goes from this…

IMG_20190427_084442213w

to this…

IMG_20190427_084629146w

to this with ease!

IMG_20190427_084835390w

For Myrtle’s treats, I score the dough before baking, to be broken into little squares later.  A pizza cutter works great for this.

IMG_20190427_085126271w

Don’t make the scoring tedious.  The pieces don’t have to be uniform in size or shape.

IMG_20190427_085200213w

(Yes, I have a dog bone-shaped cookie cutter.  But using it is a slow, tedious process.  I do use it for special gifts for Myrtle’s dog friends and cousins, but that’s all.)

After baking, the treats come out of the oven looking like this.

IMG_20190427_092555578w

After cooling, it only takes a minute or two to break them all up.

IMG_20190427_092938978w

I store the treats in an old Parmesan shaker, for easy dispensing.

IMG_20190427_093306732w

The dog treat recipe I used for this batch is the Apple-Carrot Treats from this page:

https://www.mybakingaddiction.com/homemade-dog-treats/  (The recipe is adapted from this one:  http://fortheloveofpooch.blogspot.com/ ).

The taste-tester approves.

IMG_20190427_093521413w

 

 

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You say Shrove Tuesday; I say Pancake Day!

They say it started more than 500 years ago, when on Shrove Tuesday (the day before the start of Lent), a housewife in England was cooking at her stove, heard the bell for church, and dashed from her house to the church still wearing her apron and carrying her skillet.

Today it is an annual international women’s race, in which the participants wear a housedress, headscarf and apron, and must carry a skillet with a pancake in it, and flip the pancake.

The event takes place in Olney, England and Liberal, Kansas USA.  Each town holds a race, and the fastest finish time wins the international contest.

(Picture from Olney’s website)

A multi-day festival has grown up around the event.  Each town maintains a Pancake Day website; and each maintains a Facebook page, which is great for enthusiasts like me who want real-time updates on race day.

This totally awesome Olney poster was designed by one of its middle school students:
(Click the poster to go to the Olney page for more info on the poster.)



How the International Pancake Day Race came about:

Each of the two cities’ websites gives a brief history of the Pancake Day Race.  Since each site provides a fact or two that the other one doesn’t, I’ve included both.  But hey, the best thing to do is visit both websites for more history and photos of past events.

From the Liberal, KS site: 

“In Olney, England, the Pancake Race tradition dates back more than 500 years to 1445. A woman engrossed in using up cooking fats (forbidden during Lent) was making pancakes. Hearing the church bells ring calling everyone to the shriving service, she grabbed her head scarf (required in church) and ran to the church, skillet and pancake in hand and still apron-clad. In following years, neighbors got into the act and it became a race to see who could reach the church first and collect a “Kiss of Peace” from the verger (bell-ringer.)

“HOW DID PANCAKE DAY GET STARTED IN THE UNITED STATES?​

“It all started in 1950 from a magazine picture of the Olney women racing each other to the church. Liberal Jaycee President R.J. Leete contacted the Rev. Ronald Collins, Vicar of St. Peter and St. Paul’s church in Olney, challenging their women to race against women of Liberal.  Like in Olney, the traditional prize of the race is the “Kiss of Peace” from the verger (bellringer).”

From the Olney, UK site:

“No one is quite certain how the world famous Pancake Race at Olney originated. One story tells of a harassed housewife, hearing the shriving bell, dashing to the Church still clutching her frying pan containing a pancake. Another tells that the gift of pancakes may have been a bribe to the Ringer, or Sexton that he might ring the bell sooner; for ringing the bell signalled the beginning of the day’s holiday and enjoyment, no less than to summon the people to the service at which they would be shriven of their sins before the long Lenten feast.

“Tradition declares that the race was first run in the year 1445, pancakes at the time being a popular dish, receiving royal favour. It was run on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent, and the whole day was given over to a festival of celebration, pranks and pastimes. It is not known where the original start line was but the finish line was at the Church door.

“The race continued through the centuries, and whilst many other local customs died, and the race itself may have lapsed many times, such lapses never caused the race to be entirely forgotten by the womenfolk of Olney. It is known to have taken place during the troublesome times of The War of the Roses (1445 to 1487).

“THE CUSTOM REVIVED

“After a lapse during the Second World War, it was revived again in 1948 by the Vicar of Olney the Reverend Canon Ronald Collins. In clearing out a cupboard he came across some old photographs, which had obviously been taken in the Nineteen Twenties and Thirties of women running with frying pans. Filled with enthusiasm to revive the ancient custom, he called for volunteers, and in response thirteen runners appeared on Shrove Tuesday that year. The race immediately caught the popular imagination and people of Olney set out to enjoy this simple and colourful link with their rich past, a day of festivities.

“THE LINK WITH LIBERAL

“In 1950 the race became an International event. A challenge was received from the town of Liberal in Kansas, USA, where they had, after seeing the press photographs of the race at Olney, conceived the idea of setting up a similar custom. Olney readily accepted the challenge and, in a spirit of international goodwill and friendship, the two towns now compete annually and prizes are exchanged. The race is run on a timed basis.”



THE RACE!

  • At 11:55 am Olney time (5:55am Central US time), the Olney Race begins.
  • At 11:55 am Liberal time (5:55pm Olney UK time), the Liberal race begins.

The weather forecast for this year’s race:

  • Olney:  Partly cloudy and 50°F with a SW wind of 17 mph, causing a feels-like temp of 45°F.
  • Liberal:  Sunny and 29°F with a N wind of 8 mph, causing a feels-like temp of 22°F

Don’t be fooled by the dresses, aprons and skillets; these races are legit athletic contests.  So, what is the actual race like?  Here is a recent video from each side of the pond:

The Olney, UK race (2012)

The Liberal, KS USA race (2014)

Attending these two Pancake Day races is a bucket list item for me.  It’s only a 3.5 hour drive for me to Liberal, KS, but Tuesdays pose a problem.  Once again this year, work has intervened to keep me from going.  Next year, Pancake Day is on Tuesday, February 25.  I shall try again.



I love to eat pancakes, so pancakes must be included in this story:

American pancakes are typically thicker than English pancakes.  I love both.

An American style pancakes recipe:  https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/21014/good-old-fashioned-pancakes/

(photo from allrecipes.com)

An English style pancakes recipe:  https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2907669/easy-pancakes

(photo from Epicurious.com)

I love pancakes so much that on my first ever trip to England (in 2010), I took a picture of my first-ever English pancake, and the lovely, skilled vendor cook who made it for me.

Wikipedia:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrove_Tuesday

Fried Ice Cream — made in the Air Fryer

     The Instant Pot has a companion in my kitchen–the Air Fryer.  Together they have transformed how I prepare foods, without my noticing it was happening.  Last year, I bought the Bella 2.5 liter air fryer, and it has indeed been a game changer.
     From wings, to simple buttered toast, to fish fillets, hamburgers, bacon, grilled cheese sandwiches; you name it, I now rely on the air fryer.
air fryer
One weekend when it was bad weather outside, I attempted fried ice cream in the air fryer, and kept experimenting until I had a process that worked.  Here’s what worked:


FRIED ICE CREAM
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE AIR FRYER
• Scoop ice cream into balls and freeze until hard.
• Coat in flour.
• Freeze until hard again.
• Coat in egg and then roll in slightly crushed cornflake cereal.
• If necessary, use your hands to squeeze the flakes into the ice cream and round out the shape.
• Freeze until hard again.
• Coat in egg and roll in crushed cereal again. If softened, freeze until hard.
• For frying, place on a small pan or piece of foil.
• Fry in air fryer for up to 2 minutes at 400F.
• Remove gently (because it will be soft on the inside) and eat immediately.
Tips and notes:
  • As you can tell from the steps, the key is to keep the ice cream frozen hard.  It’s not a quick process.
  • A 1 3/4 quart carton of ice cream made 16-17 small scoops.
  • My ice cream scoop is fairly small.  If you have a larger scoop, you might get an even better result than I did.  If so, please let us know in the comments.


Here are the steps in pictures:  
Make individual scoops of ice cream.  Freeze until hard.
Make individual scoops of ice cream
Coat ice cream in flour.  Freeze until hard.
Coat ice cream in flour
Dip in beaten egg, then cover with partly-crushed cereal flakes.  Freeze until hard.
(I’m using Aldi’s version of ‘Honey Bunches of Oats’. It makes a tasty shell.)
Dip in beaten egg then cover with partly-crushed cereal flakes
Press the flake-covered ice cream into a round ball and freeze until hard. 
(As you can see, the work surface gets a little messy.)
Press the flake-covered ice cream into a round ball and freeze until hard
[Do a second coating of egg + cornflakes.  Freeze hard again, if soft.]
For frying in the air fryer, put the ice cream on a little baking pan or piece of foil.
For frying in the air fryer put the ice cream on a little baking pan or piece of foil
Fry at 400F for up to 2 minutes; and maybe another 30 seconds, but that’s the max for these little scoops.  Any longer is likely to make your ice cream start to melt.
fried ice cream in fryer
Remove from the fryer with tongs and/or spatula, and eat immediately.  
fried ice cream done


Extras can be stored in the freezer to fry later.

Extras can be stored in the freezer to fry later
Get creative and try different things:
  • Drizzle sauce on the fried ice cream, such as caramel or chocolate sauce.
  • Top with goodies such as fruit, jam or sprinkles.
  • Try different flavored ice creams and cereals.

 

DIY Oatmeal mix

This being the first of the year, when people renew their vows to eat healthy, I’m sharing my easy, cost-effective oatmeal mix.  I don’t buy the single-serving oatmeal packages or flavored oatmeal.  I make my own, for pennies a serving.  Lots of people try slow cooker or Instant Pot oatmeal, or overnight refrigerator oatmeal.  To me these methods require way too much unnecessary time and effort.  (Caveat–I cook for one; not a family.  A family may change the efficiencies.)

I buy the 42 oz. carton of quick oats; currently $2.39 at Aldi.  That works out to 45 servings at 5.3 cents each.

oatmeal

Shopping list for the mix:  (Dillons/Kroger prices listed)

  • Oat bran — $2.69 for 18 oz
  • Wheat bran — $1.99 for 8 oz
  • Chia seeds — $3.99 for 12 oz
  • Flax seed — $4.49 for 16 oz
  • Sugar
  • Ground Cinnamon

mix ingredients a w labels rsr

The packages of seeds and bran store neatly in a basket in the back of my frig.

mix ingredients frig a w rsr

Measure into a pint-sized jar:

  • 1/2 cup Oat Bran
  • 1/2 cup Wheat Bran
  • 1/4 cup Flax Seed (ground)
  • 1/4 cup Chia Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 4 tsps. ground cinnamon (optional)

The ingredients will look like this in the jar:

oatmeal mix a w rsr

Shake the jar until the ingredients are mixed.oatmeal mixed a w rsr

I keep an old broken teaspoon in the mix jar, and an orphaned 1/3 measuring cup in the oatmeal canister.


To make a bowl of oatmeal

For breakfast stumble into the kitchen sleepy-eyed, and measure into a bowl:

  • 1/3 cup of oatmeal
  • 2 tsps of the mix
  • 3/4 cup of milk (whole, 2% or skim–your choice)

I use a large soup bowl so it doesn’t boil over in the microwave.

  • Microwave on high for 90 seconds.
  • Stir and let cool for a few minutes; then eat.

mix in bowl a w rsr

I eat this oatmeal every. single. morning.  It’s a small breakfast, so around mid morning, I usually need a ‘second breakfast’ of toast or an egg; or I eat a very early lunch.

Additional notes and tips on the oatmeal mix:

  • Buying all of the ingredients at once may seem pricey; especially if you aren’t sure you’ll like it.  So my suggestion is to buy one item each trip to the store, and start using that item in your oatmeal.  Start with oat bran, then wheat bran, then chia seeds, then flax seed.
  • Flax seed can be purchased as whole seeds, and then ground in a coffee mill for the mix.
  • Cinnamon definitely changes the taste.  I suggest trying it in one bowl before making a whole batch of mix with cinnamon. I’m used to the taste, and I like that it ‘might’ have anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • I’m not sure the sugar is necessary.  I don’t need my oatmeal to be sweet.  I plan to make my next batch of mix without the sugar and see if I like it.
  • For an extra jolt of flavor and nutrients, try tossing a few craisins, raisins or other dried fruit pieces into the bowl before putting it in the microwave.

When I say I eat this every morning, I mean every morning.  If I’m going on a trip, I pack my own individual oatmeal packets; one for each morning I’ll be away.  Usually I pack some powdered milk too, so I can make breakfast with hot water, in case that’s all I’ll have access to.

mix for overnight a w rsr

Here are the potential health benefits of the ingredients as described in WebMD and Livestrong:

Oatmeal — LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol management

Milk — Essential for bone density; helps with blood pressure, metabolic syndrome and weight management.

Oat Bran —

“Oat bran might work by blocking the absorption from the gut of substances that contribute to heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes.  When applied to the skin, oats appear to reduce swelling.”

Wheat Bran — 

“Wheat bran is a source of fiber. Some people take wheat bran by mouth for preventing diseases of the large intestine (including cancer), stomach cancer, breast cancer, gallbladder disease, hemorrhoids, and a condition where the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm muscle (hiatal hernia). It is also used for treating constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.”

Flax Seed — 

“There’s some evidence it [flax seed] may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. That’s quite a tall order for a tiny seed that’s been around for centuries.

Chia Seeds —

“Enjoy chia seeds for their flavor and to boost the fiber, protein, calcium, antioxidants, and omega-3s in your diet.”

Cinnamon —

“Lab studies have found that cinnamon may reduce inflammation, have antioxidant effects, and fight bacteria.”

Six Updates on Things I Wrote About in 2018

Just for fun, here is what has happened with some of the things I wrote about over the last year.

1.

Our historic ballpark is gone.

The entrance to our 84-year old ballpark looked like this in September, when they announced it would be torn down.

WP_20180903_003 a

They first tore the grandstand down.  Here is the site in November, when only the box office and entry gate remained.  Now those are gone too, and it’s a big flat dirt field.

stadiumtorndown2 RSR

stadiumtorndown b RSR

In 2020, we are supposed to have a new ballpark in its place.

2.

I finished reading “Sticky Fingers”.

Sticky fingers cover

After my blog post about the book, it took a couple of renewals from the public library, but eventually I finished the book.  It is a well written book about a repulsive character.  It was a repulsive read to the end.  It made me want all of those hours back that I’d spent over the years reading Rolling Stone magazine.

The soiling of Page 393.

As I was pushing on to finish the book, a bad thing happened.  I took the book with me to the movie theater to read while waiting for the movie to start.  I bought a little bag of popcorn.  Too late, I realized the bag was leaking butter.  I soiled the library book on possibly the most important page, and maybe the only important page of the entire book.

Page 393 a w RSR

When I returned it to the library, I confessed and showed them the page.  I’m waiting to find out if they are going to bill me for the book.  They certainly are within their rights to ask me to pay for it.  Because I was up front with them, and the stain was confined to a couple of pages (it bled through to the next page), they will not ask me to pay for a replacement book.  Lesson learned!  Have I mentioned how much I ❤ our library?  Well, this is just the latest reason.

3.

The electric blanket needs another repair already.

Thanks to the foster pup, aka “Jaws”.

Chewed plug aw RSR

4.

The pepper plant is still growing.  

The Poblano pepper plant that I’d planted and tended outdoors all summer, is now in a pot on the enclosed porch in the south sun.  It gets cold on the porch but has stayed above freezing.  When the sun is shining, the room can get above 70°.  Three peppers are growing on the plant, albeit very slowly.  I may be waiting all winter for a harvest of three peppers.

Outdoors vs Indoors:

 

Indoors

5.

Another Coco dress is in the works.

Here are numbers 1 and 2.

 

Sneak preview of #3:

Yellow Coco aw RSR

6.

I’ve made a shell from the 1937 pattern making instructions

 

and it fits.

IMG_20190101_160201865a w RSR

 


Aaand another holiday season is in the books.  One of my favorite holiday songs goes from reflective to angry to a call for hopefulness.  It sums up the end of the holiday season the way I feel it–looking back on the joyous gatherings of family and friends, and looking forward to the new year.

“And so I skate, across the Thames, hand in hand, with all my friends.  And all the things that we planned…

“Goddamn this government, will they ever tell me where the money went?  Protesters march out on the street, as young men sleep amongst the feet.”

“The end of Christmas day, when there is nothing left to say, the years go by so fast, let’s hope the next beats the last.”

 

 

Boxing Day!

Happy Boxing Day!  I hope you had a lovely Christmas day.  Here’s some of what came out of my kitchen over the past few days:

Soup mixes for my family who have pressure cookers. 

Soup mixes RSR

Homemade treats for the pup cousins, using this simple recipe from another blogger.  

Pup treats aw RSR

I tried baking a small carrot cake in the Instant Pot.  It came out dense like a brownie; not light like a cake.  The flavor was good though, so I hastily frosted it (aka the best part), and put it away for my own snacking later.  We shall not speak further of this failed cooking experiment. 😉

Carrot cake baked in PC RSR

Carrot cake ruled out, I ended up making my fail-safe pumpkin bread to take to the family gathering.  

Pumpkin bread aw RSR

Prep for the road trip to KC involved bottling a supply of hot coffee for me, and packing a bag of food, toys and blankets for Myrtle the foster pup.

Thermos etc a w RSR

While I was in the kitchen doing Christmas prep, this cute little booger was in the other room producing a spectacular array of shredded stuff.  Look how proud she is of her work.

Home Alone a

Myrtle mess gif

Not from the kitchen, but this was my first-ever attempt to knit a tiny sweater tree ornament.  It was my ‘hostess gift’ to our aunt and uncle who had us all at their home. (Free download pattern here.)  

Tiny sweater a RSR

The family gathering was special, as always.  Myrtle got lots of attention from the foster cousins, both human and canine.  The cat cousin Willie opted to hide out in the bedroom.

Back at home, where my Christmas decorating is bare-bones, this print is one of my treasured holiday items.  

I Believe in Father Christmas 2 a RSR

Can’t leave out Adam Sandler’s masterpiece.  🙂 

Creamy Wild Rice Soup–what I’ve been making

This is a pressure cooker (Instant Pot) recipe I tried this week after seeing others recommending it.  They were right; it’s simple and scrumptious.

The recipe calls for carrots, celery, onion, and mushrooms; all chopped.  My own twist was to use dehydrated ingredients from my pantry.  It worked out great!  Oooh, the possibilities!

Here’s the link to the recipe: Instant Pot Wild Rice Soup

My assembled ingredients:

Wild Rice soup ingredients2 w RSR

(All of my ingredients are dry or dehydrated, except the mushrooms.  I only had canned mushrooms on hand, and didn’t want to postpone making the soup.)

What it looked like in the pot, before adding the water and cooking:

Dried wild rice soup w RSR

A bowl of soup!

Bowl of soup w

My dehydrated carrots were grated, which made them too small for the orange color to stand out.  Next time I dehydrate carrots, I’ll chop some of them instead of grating the whole batch.

This was my first experience ever with actual wild rice.  (The recipe emphasizes to use only wild rice and not a rice blend.)  It turned out perfect; thanks to the recipe and the pressure cooker.

While I savored the delicious soup, someone else chewed an old boot.  We were both happy.  

Myrtle boot w RSR

Gift idea!  Using this recipe, I’ve decided to package the dehydrated and dry ingredients into gift soup mixes for my family members who have pressure cookers.  I’ll be able to give it a label that says, “Just add water and margarine.”