Party Food/Breakfast Food

“I thought you gave up being a Party Animal some time ago?” Jabber inquired seriously.  “Actually, what kind of party animal were you ‘xactly?  Elephant, giraffe, or wolverine?”

Jabber, this has nothing to do with being a Party Animal.  It has to do with food.   I shall save the party animal discussion for another day.  Besides, nobody believes I was ever a party animal, anyway.  People my age (111) are certainly not allowed to be party animals any longer and many who knew us when we were are no long around.  Or no longer remember.  Except you.  (And I was never any of those animals!  As we all know, in my former life, I was an elegant Poodle.)

Party food requirements:  It must be food which can be served at room temperature, it must be finger food, it must be tasty, can’t be too exotic and can’t be too common, it can’t be definitely ‘winter’ food when it is summer and it can’t be ‘summer food’ when it’s winter.    And one has to consider costs and what is on-hand.  It’s sometimes difficult to come up with something different, at least for moi. 

This is what I came up with for a get-together:

(Oh for heaven’s sake, Weeders!  Yes, in answer to your unspoken questions, I had the cream cheese, the puff pastry, the mustard, the cream, the jam on hand.  I did NOT have the ham.  So I went to the store and bought it.  Deli ham slices—it said ‘sweet ham’ slices.  And this easily made about 60 appetizers/party food snacks, so it was economical.  Does that answer you questions?

What?  Well, actually, they are rather easy to make.  And actually, you can keep them in the refrigerator after they are cooled and they can be made a day ahead.

Best heated or at room temperature, though……Well, they are sort of appetizers and sort of desserts—could be either or both actually.

(Why am I writing ‘actually’ so many times?)

Yes.  You are correct.  I adapted this from other recipes I’d read online.  Because.

Because it’s what I had available, that’s “Ka Buzz!” (why because!)  PAY ATTENTION! 

Are you quite done now?  Well, good.  On with the description and stop the interruptions!  SERIOUS business this, preparing food.  For a party.  By an ex-poodle no less.)

Sweet and savory Palmiers:

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Palmiers with powdered sugar

1 package puff pastry.  Bring to room temperature, but do not allow to get too warm or you won’t be able to open up each sheet into its full size.  (I know this.  Ka-buzz.)**

Lightly flour a surface (I like to roll on parchment paper) and lightly roll out until the size of the sheet is about 11 by 8.

What?  NO!  You do not have to get the ruler and measure!  APPROXIMATELY 11 by 8.  That’ll do.  Fine.  Continue………..

Whip 8 ounces of room temperature cream cheese with a little cream until it is spreadable—do not make too soupy or you’ll be sorry!  Spread this on the puff pastry.

Lightly dab some prepared spicy mustard and spread this over the cream cheese—not too much!  (About 2 Tablespoons maximum, I’d guess—I think I used very little, maybe just 1 Tablespoon.)

Huh?  You want to know why I don’t have persact measurements?  Oh come on, folks!  Because I made it up!  As I went along.  And blogging about it was not at the top of my list/mind when I did it. 

Layer some sliced deli ham on top—a couple of pieces ‘deep’.  (I only had one slice ‘deep’—it would be better with twice the amount of ham I put on it.)

Spread on some apricot jam lightly.

Take one long edge and fold to the center, then the other long edge and fold to the center to meet the first edge.  (This is where using parchment paper is very helpful!  Use the edges to ‘roll’ the pastry to the center.)

Finally, the folded edges on the outside of each of the longest sides are folded to meet.  Pinch the ends closed.

Now, lay a piece of plastic wrap against the long side and using the parchment paper, roll the pastry onto the plastic wrap.

Lightly wrap in the plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator—this is KEY!—for at least 45 minutes.

Prepare the second sheet of puff pastry, if desired.

Preheat oven to 400.

After 45 minutes, remove chilled pastry from refrigerator and with a serrated knife, cut into 1/2 inch pieces.  These should look like little hearts. 

Place on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes or longer until pastry is golden brown.  (Mine took about 30 minutes, but watch them so they don’t burn.  Remember, I didn’t have any real guidelines to follow.)

Remove and cool on a cookie sheet and sift powdered sugar over top while warm and repeat once cooled (if desired). 

I served them with optional apricot jam to be dabbed on top of each palmier.  (Below topped with apricot jam.)

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“That what you had for breakfast, then?” Jabber inquired.

No!  We had this for breakfast:

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I had a bit of leftover ham, so combined with slices of turkey, cheese and made Monte Cristo sandwiches with two leftover tortillas.  I used the leftover apricot jam and some fresh blueberries as well.  The recipe for Monte Cristo sandwiches is here:

http://harpethview.com/2013/03/26/monte-cristo-breakfast-sandwiches/#comments

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Grandson, way back when he was little, used to say “Ka-Buzz” for “Because.”  We all thought it was very cute and the word became part of family vocabulary.  Ka-Buzz it did, that’s kabuzz why!

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What’s Up?

Aside from weeds, what else is up in your gardens or pots?

I planted ours very late this year.  Trying to keep costs at a minimum, but still have some color on the back deck in pots, I dug up some sweet potato vines which had ‘wintered over’ inside their pots.  Chopping the larger sweet potatoes (yep, they become sweet potatoes and no, I’ve never eaten any), I replanted a piece in several pots, covered with soil and watered. 

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(Security’s new ball is always close by.)

These sweet potato vines are both purple and lime green—very colorful and seem to live “to infinity and beyond!”

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It is very easy to root sweet potato vines—just cut off a few leaves and stick in water.  In a couple of weeks, each leaf will have roots.  Plant in a pot and voila! a new plant will grow.  If you have patience, this is a great way to save some money for the ‘viney’ look you may want in your pots.

Of course, I did buy a few geraniums and ‘spikes’ to add to the pots.  Below, some caladiums (I think that’s what they are—if you know better, let me know please) came back up—actually they were trying very hard to poke through the soil in their pots whilst still in the basement.  They got a new home and some plant food and seem quite content.

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In the largest pot, below, I place a planter; you can see the edge of it at the top of the pot.  After placing it inside, I discovered a bird had a nest below in the pot.  The bird and I were ‘at war’ but that seems to have ended.  I think the babies grew up and flew off.

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Stumbled/tripped across some information for keeping bugs off the sweet potato vines—actually it is a spray one concocts for black spot on roses.  Since I was spraying the roses today (every 2 weeks, but I think my roses are gonners even though I’m trying to save them*), I sprayed some of the solution on these vines as well.  Sweet potato vines tend to get ‘buggy’ and the bugs eat holes in the leaves making them not-too-attractive.  This should solve the problem providing I spray them every few days.

Here is the ‘recipe’—non-toxic and safe for children and animals:

1 gallon water

1 aspirin tablet

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 Tablespoon Miracle Gro soluble plant fertilizer

1 Tablespoon liquid dishwashing soap

Place apple cider vinegar and aspirin tablet in a container and let tablet dissolve.  Then pour aspirin/vinegar into water, add soap and Miracle Gro, mix well.  Spray with one of those pump sprayers lightly onto your plants.  For roses, the directions say do this every 2 weeks for black spot.  This is the first time I’ve tried it on sweet potato vines, but it should work for them as well.

An empty large jug of white vinegar is a good way to save/mix this spray.  Keep it in the garage and label so you know what it is.  I don’t have to use much of it each time, but I do use it often.

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**Roses:  I have “Knockout” roses which have contracted “Witches’ Broom” disease I fear.  If it is that, there is nothing which can save them.  So, I’ve a plan to replace them all this fall—PLUS the soil. 

You can read about Witches Broom here:

http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/roses/rose-rosette-disease.htm

 

Salt of the Earth and Green Soup

“Oh,” Jabber groaned, “it’s one of those mornings when you decide to do all sorts of wacko stuff before noon to avoid doing what you ought to be doing.”

Suppose so, yes.  Being 111, I go with the flow, more or less, and when my inner Jabber says do something creative, I generally try to do something.  Besides, it helped me avoid going to workout this morning, but I DID manage to iron the last shirt (which was dampened and starched and waiting in the plastic bag to be ironed before it got mildewed), clean up the kitchen, water the plants, get showered and cleaned up—all before 7:30. 

Now, what was I going to do?

Make asparagus soup, that’s what. 

Why, you might ask—well even if you don’t, I am going to answer.  Because I happened to be digging in the freezer to figure out what to fix for supper tonight when I ran across two bags of asparagus stems and pieces I’d washed, cut up and frozen ‘for later use.’  This was ‘later.’

We love asparagus, the fresh kind, but it always has to be snapped off so the tougher end pieces are wasted—unless, of course, you LIKE eating tough end pieces.  Or, in my case, you simply throw them in a freezer bag, label and freeze ‘for later use.’  Sometimes they go in a pot of vegetable soup.  Once in a while, if I have enough and I’m in the mood to do so, I make asparagus soup. 

Asparagus Soup

About 4 to 5 cups of cut up pieces of asparagus.  Place in a pot, add water to cover, add a bit of salt and pepper, three cloves garlic (they can be whole).  Bring to a boil with a lid on, then remove lid leaving uncovered, and stir until the pieces are quite soft.  (Use a fork to check tenderness.)

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While it’s cooking, assemble your what-cha-ma-call-it doodad thingy you NEVER use, but store anyway.  Maybe you used to use it to make jelly out of grapes or to make apple sauce, but that was a long time ago.  You kept it.  Regardless.  Might, at some point, get the urge to make asparagus soup. 

Am I right?

Oh well, anyway, place it over a large bowl.  (You can get one of these at a yard sale, particularly a yard sale or estate sale of someone who has done like me and stored one for decades.  They are much cheaper that way.)

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Ah ha!  It’s called a FOOD MILL!  That’s what it’s called!  I just found this great website that lists all the equipment a cook might use—and maybe forget the names of said equipment—highly useful.  At least at times.  Okay.   At least for moi!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_food_preparation_utensils

Go look to see how much you’ve forgotten.  Or never knew!

Now that we got that out of the way, go stir your asparagus.  It’ll take about 30 minutes for it to cook to complete tenderness and no, no way to hurry up this.  About half-way through, you can add a handful (or however much you like) of chopped onion, fresh or out of your freezer stash of chopped onions.  Now, consider what spices you have on hand to give it a bit of additional flavor…………

At the onset, I told you to add a ‘bit’ of salt.  That means a ‘pinch’ which means not much.  This because, of course, you can always add more seasoning later, after you get the soup assembled and you taste it to see what it needs. 

By the by, what kind of salt do YOU have?  I am the proud owner/user of all of these!

image                                                                        This salt is……….PINK!  image

Then, someone gave me all of these as a gift a while ago:

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Each salt has a specific food group with which it is best served.  (Yes.  I use them all.  I am nothing if not into ALL FOOD GROUPS.)

“Yep.” Jabber interjected here.  “You sure are.  You will eat ANYTHING…..”

Nuf Jabber!

Then, of course, I’ve got the usual table salt—but how dreary!  Who knew there were SO MANY different types of salts to choose from.  (For a selection in our area, you might go to The Green Door Gourmet here in Nashville.)

Ahhh…..wait, check on the asparagus!  Is it done yet?  No?……..okay, consider your spices……..

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I have these—dried from last year—and, of course, a whole cabinet full of the type one buys.  But it’s a lot of fun (and satisfaction) to open one of these small jars and pull out a pinch of parsley or oregano which I grew and dried myself!  Today I chose two pinches of parsley and a pinch of Rosemary.  (This is called channeling one’s inner Martha.  I like to pretend.  Which you knew anyway.)

Wait!  The asparagus is about done.  Remove from the heat, STRAIN by pouring the liquid into a strainer inside a bowl in the sink.  Reserve the liquid.

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This morning, I took about 3/4 cups of the cooked asparagus and pulverized it in a food processor.  I then place that into the food mill.  Keep turning the crank on the food mill until the asparagus no longer yields any liquid.  Dispense the fibers and do this process again until all the asparagus is first processed in the food processor and then put through the food mill.  (High tech!  Wow…….) 

I had about 2 cups of liquid after processing all the asparagus.  Place that back into your original pot, add about 1/4 cup of the strained liquid from cooking (adjust depending upon how much liquid asparagus from the food mill you have). 

Pour the rest of the asparagus WATER from cooking into a double plastic bag and freeze it.  Good vegetable juice for soups or other creative cooking endeavors.

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I then added 1/2 cup of heavy cream.  Place over heat and warm.  Taste it.  Add spices and salt and pepper as you go, not too much!

This will yield about 3 cups of soup—enough for supper!  You can serve it cold or hot.  You may add other flavors as you like such as hot sauce.  In its purest form, it is a very mild flavor.

GREEN SOUP!

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I’ll cover and refrigerate the soup, add some type of topping before serving such as tortilla chips, small or broken crackers, and serve with crusty French bread and a salad.  I haven’t decided whether it will be hot or cold soup—depends upon the temperature tonight.

Gets me to thinking—I’ve got some sliced carrots in the freezer……..hmmmmmmmm, might make some carrot soup next!

Thanks to Cousin Ben as his emails got me thinking about salts!

 

Audrey III

“It’s a vine! for heaven’s sake,” Jabber explained to me, matter of factly.  “Look, it’s just looking for a place to grab on and continue to grow.”

Sure.  That’s right, you just go ahead, Weeders, and agree with Jabber.  But take a look at these pictures, all taken from the same angle at different times of the day and THEN tell me this thing isn’t threatening!  Look how it keeps trying to reach out and GRAB something!  Reminds me of the musical, “Little Shop of Horrors,’’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Shop_of_Horrors_(film)  except this one is right next to my kitchen window.

Below, 8 a.m. July 22, 2014  (look at top of the vine)

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Below, about 9 a.m.

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Below, 10 a.m.  yes, she was looking right at me!

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Audrey the III, that’s what it is!  Searching for something to latch on to!  See photos below and then tell me it isn’t Audrey III.

11:20 a.m., Audrey III is reaching for the house. 

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“Wait a minute here……….” Jabber FINALLY noticed what I’ve been trying to tell her all long, “That thing is moving!”

Not only that, she seems to turn counter-clockwise about 180 degrees every 4 to 5 hours.  And her tip opens, then forms a circle, then opens again, reaching, reaching……..and she’s growing, too.

It’s 12:45 p.m.  Do you know where your plant is?

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Here is a close up of Audrey III

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Audrey III LIVES.  Do you think she’s an alien?

French Toast

“You are still hung up on being French-i-fied?” Jabber inquired.

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Yes, I suppose I am!  But I love a nice brunch on a Sunday, don’t you?

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I fried up the bacon first, setting it aside to drain on paper towels and then prepared the French toast.

This is a tasty recipe (and I’m sure there are many somewhere online, but frankly I made this one up, from experience).  The French toast is crunchy a bit on the outside with a nice flavor.

French Toast for Two:

2 eggs, whisked. 

Add about 2 Tablespoons heavy cream (you can substitute milk or half and half, but heavy cream makes this very delicious and rich). 

Whisk a little bit more to incorporate and

add about 1 teaspoon vanilla (or other flavoring—almond or orange is nice, or you can use orange juice concentrate) and

2 Tablespoons sugar.  Whisk again and

dip 1/2 inch slices of French bread in the mix.  (You may use other types, but I love French bread for this recipe.)   Let the bread soak a bit, turning over and poking some holes with the tines of a fork in the bread so the mixture soaks in well.

Place in a pan with melted butter over low heat.  These will take a while to cook—you don’t want to fry over higher heat as you want the coating to crisp up nicely without burning and the inside to cook a bit, too.

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I move the bread around in the pan and flip periodically.

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Serve with a bit of powdered sugar, berries, and warm syrup if you like.

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Surprise!

Surprise Lilies, that is.  Anyway, that’s what my mother used to call them. 

They are rain lilies, over 100 years old, from my grandmother’s garden.  They are bulbs.  They winter over nicely in or out of the pot under the house.  All they need is a lot of water and some sun……….

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This one was actually planted last week—about 6 days ago.  We had a heavy rain during the week, cool weather, and a lot of sun.  Surprise! Lilies like that.

It looked like this, only this morning earlier:

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I am always amazed by how things grow so quickly under the right conditions.

 

In Which Yard Sale Treasures Are Named

Because I had to do something to make this post a little more interesting.  That’s why.

Here are some photos of yard sale finds (repeat the mantra, “You Can find ANYTHING at a yard sale.”)

Because my photos are such masterpieces, I have given them names.  You know, in case they wind up in some art gallery.  Somewhere.  On another planet.

 

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This masterpiece is called “Yard Sale Seller with Large Head.”

The one below is called Urning for Coffee”—(get it?  “urning for coffee”?  Oh never mind.)

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Actually, it’s a coffee server. It doesn’t actually make any coffee.  It holds the coffee.  Yours for only $10.  New!  Never used!  (There is a lesson here……)

Now, here is a find, a real treasure.  Or it will be when Racer Daughter gets through with it:

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“Tool Box With Patina”

And, something for moi.  This will be hung over a small table on the deck.  Candles will be inserted and lit for ambience.  (Well, yes, it is nothing if it is not ambient.  I like big words.  What can I say?)

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Candelier!

Two demitasse cups and saucers, Rose Minton pattern, $2 each.  Just so happens Racer Daughter has a set of Rose Minton.  These are very old dishes, from maybe the 1920’s or 1930’s.

  “Cups and Saucers”

(I am nothing if not creative.)

“You are not creative.”  Jabber interjected here.

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Finally, a mystery find.  You WILL see her again at Holiday Time.  She cost $1.  And yes, she did have clothes, but I took them off.  She will have new clothes!

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Isabella.  She will be playing the role of Natalie.

“Oh no,” Jabber groaned, “Another mannequin?  You haven’t even learned how to spell mannequin ‘cause auto correct always says your spelling is wrong.’

Yes.  This is true.  But I’ll continue to work on it.

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