Thursday, May 29, 2008

Family Recipe: Deviled Eggs, any way you like it.

This square is from my Mom, Jill, the one who made the quilt for me. It is a sewing machine with snippets of fabric that she used in dresses she sewed for me over the years. The turquoise one on the left was from a Homecoming dress, the white and yellow is a baby dress (that now fits Louise), the batik was from a sundress she made for me in High School and I brought to Chile with me, the velvet was my senior prom, the pink and green was an Easter dress, and the other two... I'll have to ask. I'm sure she still has them if they were hand-made and from my childhood. She has this amazing way of arriving at my house with a few little things, memories of my childhood, usually at the precise moment when my own children could use them. I'm sure Louise will wear that green and pink Easter dress in a few years.

My mom is now retired, though far from sitting around looking for things to do retired. She seems busier now than when she was working, but happier all around. If she isn't painting watercolors, she's out in her yard puttering with flowers, taking care of grandkids, creating a cool grandma thing or updating her blog... always up to something interesting and creative. She's an amazing inspiration to me and my siblings and a best friend to me.

Recipe: Deviled Eggs, any way you like it

Eggs, boiled... as many as you like.

Peel the eggs and consider cutting them horizontally instead of vertically if you plan on taking them anywhere besides your own kitchen. They travel much better horizontally. Mash the yolks together with a bit of mayo, a bit of mustard, some salt and pepper and then whatever delights you. If it is Valentine's day, then add red food coloring. St. Patty's day... add green. Summer... add basil and finely chopped tomatoes. Or whatever inspires you. Mix together and place into a zip-loc baggie, cutting off one corner and squeezing the egg mixture into the halved eggs. So versitile, so old-fashioned, everyone will LOVE you at the potluck. They are always the first thing to go and bring smiles to everyone's faces.

Try this for traveling to a potluck:
Remember to put a little plastic wrap inside the egg carton. Works like a charm!

Family Recipe: "Mama's" Beans and Rice

This recipe is not from my Mama, but my brother, tuba player in Mama Dig Down's Brass Junction. Erik is a tuba player almost from birth, actually 4th grade, but it was in his blood from birth. Our grandfather and two uncles played tuba and it seems like Erik was destined to be a great tuba player. He's had music in his bones and as long as I can remember and he has taught me and Krista to enjoy music too. He's a school social worker by day, but a New Orleans style tuba player any chance he can get. Check out his band's website if you get a chance.

Erik's square is a painted one, representing a local Minneapolis reggae band we used to go see and dance to at outdoor venues. We were 16 and 18, driving downtown to outdoor festivals, thinking we owned the city of Minneapolis. I'm not sure if Ipso Facto is still together, but Erik, Krista and I seek out live concerts as often as we can.
Recipe: Mama's Beans and Rice
1 pound red kidney beans
1 finely chopped green pepper
2-3 finely chopped stalks of celery
1 finely chopped large onion
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 pound ham or smoked sausage
2 tsp. salt and pepper
2 bay leaves
Soak the beans overnight in enough water to cover the beans. Rince and drain the beans and put them in a large pot with enough water to reach 1 inch above the beans. Slice the meat into bite-sized pieces, then saute it in the skillet. When it is browned, put it aside and saute the green pepper, garlic, onion and celery. Once they start to brown, add them to the pot, along with the meat. Add to the pot the bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then reduce the heat slightly and keep the beans at a medium boil for about 2 hours, stirring frequently, then reduce the heat slightly and keep the beans at a medium boil for about 2 hours. Stir the beans occasionally until they begin to get creamy. If necessary, add more water along the way. Heap onto a plate of white rice and add some hot sauce if you like.
Afterwards, head to New Orleans to Cafe du Monde for some beignets and cafe au lait. Mmm. Or find a recipe and make your own. Yum!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Family Recipe: Yummy Yummy Pizza

This square was created by Nora (or actually, I believe her mom sewed it), a dear friend I met in Chile when we were both exchange students. She's from New York, I'm from Minnesota. I'm tall, she's not. We're both blonde. We both became teachers, though neither of us is currently teaching in a school. We lived in a city called Osorno, which feels very far away from the United States, and spent quite a lot of time traveling around the country. At times we had a hard time realizing that we were in that long, skinny country in S. America, thus the square.
We connected on many levels the first day we met in 1991 and haven't gone a day without thinking of eachother. I'm still in Minnesota but she has since moved to New Mexico and is happily raising her two children with her husband. We read eachothers' blogs and call, email occasionally. Somehow, though, despite the distance, we feel very close.
This recipe comes from Nora and Alan (or Al, as I previously knew him) who taught me the finer things about making pizza from scratch one summer long ago. Who knew this would become a staple item in both of our households? My boys go crazy for this pizza with pepperoni. Not quite the spinach, artichoke heart and goat cheese pizzas of our days on Grand Avenue, but still, quite yummy, as the title states. Enjoy.
Thanks to Al for typing the recipe in! You saved me.
Recipe: Yummy Yummy Pizza
1 1/4 cup of warm water
1 packet of yeast
1 tbs of honey
3 tbs olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
dried herbs
3 cups flour (can be white or ww. or a mixture)
Mix together the first 4 ingredients and wait until it bubbles, then mix in1.5 tsp salt, any dried herbs that you like, 3 or more cups of flower just add one cup at a time and stir. Then knead until you get a nice smooth ball. Put the ball of dough into an oiled bowl with plastic wrap on top. Let rise and then spread onto a pizza sheet and top with sauce, cheese and your favorite toppings.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Family Recipe: Angel Food Ice Dream Cake with Mint-Berry Sauce

This square is from my sister Krista. When we were in high school we shared a light blue, old-school Volkswagon Bug. It was a stick and a little sticky. I wasn't the most talented stick driver either, so every time we had to stop, I would inevitably stall it. Krista's job was to turn on the hazard lights and stick her hand out the window, waving the cars behind us to pass. What a sight we must have been. The hidden aspect of this square is the glow-in-the-dark paint that she incorporated into several parts of the square. Very sneaky, on a quilt to be used at night. Truly a favorite square. Truly my best friend.

Krista's a bundt cake master, but this recipe is my favorite thing she makes. Very summery!

Angel Food Ice Dream Cake with Mint-Berry Sauce

for the cake:
1- Angel Food cake
1- Quart Premium Strawberry ice cream, softened
1- Quart cream, whipped (I sometimes use Cool Whip) for the sauce
1- Pint fresh strawberries, quartered
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup chopped mint

Slice the cake horizontally twice, making three layers. Separate the layers and place the bottom layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Spread half the softened ice cream over the bottom layer of cake and stack the second layer on top. Spread the second layer with the remaining softened ice cream and cover with the top layer. Freeze for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, using an electric mixer or wire whisk, whip the cream until stiff. Remove ice-cream cake from the freezer and frost with the whipped cream, using the back of the spoon to make swirls. Return to freezer for up to 2 days. To make the sauce, combine the strawberries, sugar, and mint in a bowl, and serve alongside the cake.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Family Recipe: Glazed root vegetables

The square says:
Since the world is round, the homes of friends and family are always just around the corner! Travel well, visit neighbors, receive love.

This square is from my Uncle Tom and Aunt Sue and cousins Peter and Sarah. Tom is my mom's younger brother. Both my Mom and Tom inherited a collection of incredibly creative genes. Tom is a Lutheran pastor (who performed the homily at our wedding) and talented wood-worker and gardener extraordinaire. He has a very good eye for design and can create amazing things with few supplies. In his garden he has always shared and split plants for my brother, sister and I as we each bought our first homes. When our front yard elm tree was struck with Dutch Elm's disease and we were left with a terrible void in our yard, he came over to help me design two new garden areas. Sue is a dietician and can whip up great food for guests, ready to go with a new, healthy recipe at all times.

Here's a recipe that Sue gave me for Christmas many moons ago, tucked into a recipe box filled with her specialties. This one is very popular at potlucks. Depending on what is fresh in your garden, you can add or subtract vegetables. Lately I've been making it just with baby carrots.

Glazed root vegetables from Sue:
8 tiny new potatoes, quartered
1 medium rutabaga, cut 1" pieces
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 medium turnip, cut 1" pieces
1 medium parsnip, sliced
1 onion, cut in wedges
2 tsp. marg or butter
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. corn starch
1/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. fresh dill weed or 1/2 tsp. dried
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

In a large saucepan cook potatoes and rutabaga, covered, in boiling water for 10 minutes. Add carrots, turnips, parsnips and onion. Return to boiling and reduce heat. Cook covered for 7-10 minutes or until tender. Drain.

Meanwhile, for the glaze, melt mutter in a saucepan. Stir in brown sugar and cornstarch. Stir in water, lemon peel and juice, dill, slat and pepper. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook 2 more minutes.

Pour glaze over the drained vegetables. Toss to coat and heat until warmed through. Keeps well for a potluck.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Family recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've decided to join Eren's (Vintage Chica) Summer Family Recipe Challenge.

It's late here and I don't have any current photos of my first recipe, so out of desperation sometimes comes inspiration.

I have a quilt that my mom made for me after I graduated from high school, or rather, when I returned home from Chile after having spent a year abroad as an exchange student. The quilt squares were parceled out to important family members and friends. Each person made a square that represented me or them, a certain memory from our lives together. The quilt is beautiful. An amazing time capsule of memories with the creator of each. A few of those people have passed away and yet, with the blanket pulled up over me, I can almost feel their hugs.

Most members of my family and close friends are interested in the kitchen and have cooked many-a-perfect meal over the years. Each person seems to have their specialty that they prepare often and and have landed in my food memory bank.

For starters, let's take a peek at my square from my Grandma and Grandpa Hanson. Grandma is an amazing cook and baker and always made sure that we had an ice-cream bucket or coffee can full of chocolate chip cookies in our homes. My brother, sister and I all ate them at different rates... and for some reason, I have always been able to make mine last a little longer. I was also the kid who hoarded my Easter candy 'til Halloween, then the Halloween goodies 'til Easter. I guess I was a candy brat. My memories of her cookies are so very clear... the crisp, fall-apart-in-your-mouth kind of cookies. Why mess around with the Toll House chewy ones when these soak up the milk perfectly and disolve instantly in your mouth?

You know your mouth is watering. Go get out your mixer and get mixin'.

Here's Grandma's chocolate chip cookie recipe:
2 c. shortening
1 1/2 c. white sugar
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
4 eggs, beaten well
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. hot water
4 1/2 c. flour
2 c. nuts (optional)
2 tsp. vanilla
1-2 pkg. chocolate chips (depending on how chocolately you like them)
Cream together the shortening and sugars. Add the eggs and beat well. Add soda, water and flour and mix well. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips by hand. Bake at 350 degrees until done. 12 minutes, maybe? Grandma doesn't say the time on her recipe card... she just bakes them til they are done. Keep your eye on them. You'll be glad you did.
Thanks Grandma!

Monday, May 12, 2008

The BIG 3!

The birthday boy with his Uncle Tieg and their Mexican lunch.

Gus and Louise almost share a birthday. They were spared this situation by a mere 40 minutes or so. I was in labor with Louise and Ron asked the nurse (at 11 pm), "What are the chances that this baby will have its own birthday?" She looked at me, looked at the chart and said, "Pretty good." Eighteen minutes later she was born. She must have known that Gus would really like to have his own day, but wouldn't mind sharing a party or two in his life.

Gus turned three this weekend. This is going to be a big year for him... a time for preschool, a time to have more big-brother time with Louise when Carl starts kindergarten and a time for him to snap out of the intense middle-child behavior we've been witnessing this year. This is his "sparkle" year. "Sparkle" is a word that was coined by my mom one day when I was at my wits end with something he was doing, maybe relapsing on potty-training or yelling at Carl. She described a sparkle day as one when he didn't have accidents, got along with everyone, and generally was more patient. He loved it. I ran with it, even going as far as creating a secret handshake for sparkle boys. It makes him feel like the coolest kid in the world and has the power to immediately snap him out of the worst behavior, catching his attention and his fist gravitates towards mine to bop fists and say "sparkles" while we wiggle our fingers. How can a secret handshake do so much? He's a new dude. And now, he's THREE!

Not my finest cake at all... but what was I supposed to do when the kid wanted a "candy cake, like a pinata, Mom." Hmmm... I think after this shot I added some Mexican wrapped candies on top to really give it the look. It was four layers high and didn't get attacked by our hungry dog this year as has happened in years past to my home made creations. Tasted great, made him happy, and looked spectacular next to the tulips on the bright yellow table cloth. Ole!

The local grocer Kowalski's gives free cakes to kids for their first birthdays. Couldn't pass that up. And it was SO cute!
The pinata Gus picked out. Spiderman... paper plates and all. It was so strong that the kids couldn't hit it with the wooden bat by themselves. Eventually Ron picked them up and swung them to attempt to do some damage to the pinata.

To my 2nd baby... Happy Third Birthday, Gus!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Roasted Vegetables with red pepper and garlic dip

Mmmm... my absolute favorite way to enjoy vegetables. As long as it isn't too cold outside (relative, I suppose, living in MN), I will always volunteer to bring these apps to an event. I first had these when my sister brought them to my 30th birthday party a while back. I suppose it should become "her" recipe, but I love to make it too. The dip is great drizzled on sandwiches, pasta, or anything really. The other plus of roasted veggies is that you can use up vegetables from your rotter (crisper) drawer in the fridge that might be on the verge of going bad. With a little kosher salt, pepper and olive oil, toss 'em on the grill and they're brand new.

Here's the recipe. Enjoy!

A nice hors d'oeuvre teaming fresh vegetables with a simplified version of rouille, the spicy red pepper and garlic sauce that typically accompanies French fish soups.

2 large garlic gloves1/2 cup diced drained roasted red pepper from jar
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Assorted vegetables (such as carrot sticks, yellow bell pepper strips, cherry tomatoes and boiled baby potatoes)

With processor running, drop garlic through feed tube and mince. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add roasted pepper, vinegar and cayenne and process until mixture is almost a smooth purée. Add 1/4 cup mayonnaise and process using on/off turns just until combined. Transfer sauce to a small bowl; mix in remaining 1/4 cup mayonnaise. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate at 30 minutes. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Place dip in center of platter. Arrange vegetables around dip and serve.
Makes 1 cup.

Bon Appétit
May 1994

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Visitor in our Yard

Carl and Gus have loved being outside more lately with the nicer weather. One day recently we spent time cleaning up the yard with Mor Mor and Opa. They came over to help with yard work (my dream come true!) and help out with the kids so I could work in the yard. While we were out there, Carl and Gus discovered a little critter among the leaves that protected our plants over the cold winter.

Gus gets really excited about things sometimes. I had to put a little hollow log over the critter to protect it after he proclaimed, "Mom, I moved it so it would be safe."

Ok, thank you. Glad you picked it up. I guess when you're two, it is hard to resist touching warm, fuzzy, grey critters even when your mom tells you that we don't touch baby animals we find outside. I guess I would have wanted to touch it too... but I'm an adult, I'm supposed to know better. It looked soft to me. At least it wasn't the racoon we saw tonight on our way home, cuddled up to the new retaining wall by the freeway. What was it doing there?!?

Happy? Scared because a 2 year old picked it up? Relieved? Looking for its mama? The next day we found it in a new pile of leaves, quite far away from Gus' new location for the bunny. Truly a beautiful find in our hosta bed.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

May Day Parade

Parade time!

Must have been a good one... Gus fell asleep for a while. I guess it WAS during his nap time and he DID have sunscreen in his eyes. Poor little guy.

Every year in Minneapolis there is a parade for May Day, sponsored by the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater. It is truly an amazing feat, bringing together over 2,500 people and their costumes, many made of paper mache, and pulling off a themed parade.

This year's theme was related to the 35W Freeway bridge collapse that took place in August-- as a metaphor for the pace of our lives, as a bridge into the future. During the profound Ecumenical Memorial Service for the 13 citizens who perished in the river, Hamdy El-Sawaf of the Islamic Jurisprudence Council of Minnesota offered these words:
“If a bridge made of iron, steel and concrete can fall down, then a human bridge of faith, trust, confidence and hope must be established.”

We always say that this is the best time to people watch, as all the hippies, former hippies and wanna-be hippies come out of the woodwork. Gotta love the diversity of Minneapolis.

We brought a picnic and enjoyed the sights.

I think that is a mushroom on stilts. Fun Halloween costume idea, anyone?

Go Keith Ellison!
My brother Erik played in the parade.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

gettin' started on the birthday dress

Louise turns one in a week. ONE! Where did this year go? I mean, I haven't "worked" at my job in a year and I'm wondering where my year went. The fastest year yet, I believe.

Here's the start of Louise's first birthday dress, hopefully the first in a long line of mama-made dresses for her birthday. Since her birthday is in May, she'll always have a fun sundress of sorts to wear during the summer, made with birthday love.

The fabric was purchased from Crafty Planet, who had a booth set up at Craftstravaganza a week ago at the State Fair Grounds. Man, was it COLD!
I'm going to make the little red one... with the ruffle at the bottom. Vintage pattern thanks to Mom!