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Apple Pickin’ Fools


It’s apple pickin’ time.  We bundled up in our BGSU finest this morning and drove out the MacQueen’s Orchard in Holland, OH. On the way we stopped at Tim Hortons.  This was our first visit there, and for those of you who didn’t know (like me) Tim Hortons seems to be a higher quality Dunkin Donuts. Jonathan says the coffee is better and our bagels were wonderful!  I got hot apple cider with mine.  Though it was clearly from a mix, I enjoyed it and it filled the car with yummy “appley” smells.

Once we got to the orchard and spoke with the nice folks there, we decided to pick a half-bushel of Jonathan apples and a half-bushel of Ida Reds.  Despite the foggy damp morning, the orchard was beautiful and I only stopped taking pictures to pop a few apples of the trees.

The Red Delicious apples were gorgeous, but we don’t find them as delicious as the name implies

My dad says I need an apple picker.  Who needs an apple picker when you are amost six feet tall and have hands

Half a bushel of Ida Reds

I was slightly obsessed with the fact that everything had droplets of water on them. So pretty!

Imagine that, Jonathan’s favorite apple is the Jonathan.

Look closely.  Yes, his mouth is full.  Yes, he’s eating an apple.  No, it wasn’t his first, second, or third. Yes, he taste-tested all the apple varieties.

Apple picking was a fun way to enjoy our morning.  After loading our bushel into the car and having it inspected (no apple thieves here…except maybe the few Jonathan ate), we went into the market.  The smells made us wish we hadn’t stopped at Tim Hortons!  There were some amazing looking baked goods there!  There were also mini-pumpkins and gourds, which we promptly bought.  They are now part of my on-going effort to Fall-ify the house.  More on that later…

Last but not least, amidst the shots of apples and us, I snapped a pretty little picture of a stick.  Yes, a stick.  But it’s a stick with a rain drop…and I thought it was cool.  So there!

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2011 in Life, Photography

 

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19 Pounds of Pickles


It’s been a while since I’ve shared anything and while I certainly could have shared last weekend, other things got in the way.  Like a really cool arts festival, so I didn’t write.  Now I am here to tell you about last weekend.  We entered the wide world of food preservation.  Thanks to my grandma, we came home from my parents’ house completely equipped to start canning.  With 19 pounds of pickles fresh from our garden, we naturally made pickles.  We used a few different recipes, two of which were the packaged pickling spices.  The third was Alton Brown’s Dill Pickles.  I will leave the rest of the story to the pictures…

These are Alton Brown’s pickles…they are supposed to be made in a pickle crock.  Since we didn’t have one, we opted for the crock out of our crock pot.  They are currently fermenting away in our basement along with 15 jars of perfectly canned pickles.

 

 

Too bad I don’t really like pickles.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2011 in Cooking and Restaurants, Life

 

A Clack (a.k.a A Lack Clock)

So two days ago it was in the high 80s and I was splashing around in my parents’ pool in Pennsylvania with the cutest little two year old in the world.  Now, it is in the 60s and the wind is whipping by.  As I type I’m wearing jeans, long sleeves and fuzzy slippers.  It.  Is.  Amazing.  I love fall!

Before I left for Pennsylvania, I whipped up a few projects and would like to share one today.  We had an old IKEA Lack tabletop that was stained and lacking (no pun intended) legs.  I saw an IKEA hack in which someone created a clock out of this same kind of table top so I knew I could do it as well.  All I needed was some fun fabric and a clock mechanism. 

First, I figured out where I wanted the clock to be positioned on the square, then drilled an appropriately sized hole through the tabletop.  Next on the back side, I used a large drill bit to open up the back hole big enough to fit the clock mechanism.  It turns out the tabletop was pretty much hollow so my drill bit wasn’t necessary. Therefore I had to whip out my Dremel tool to open up the hole.  

Then I positioned the fabric and flipped the whole deal over so the fabric and table were upside-down.  I pulled the fabric taut over the wood and stapled it into place.   I was thinking the fabric might fray, so I folded the edge of the fabric under before stapling.

I felt around for the small hole on the front and used an x-acto to cut the fabric.  

All that was left to do was insert the clock mechanism and follow the instructions on how to attach the hands. Finito!  And the finished product:

I’ve been staring at this living room wall for weeks now and have been thinking I didn’t really like it.  With the new clock and a few change ups for photos and lamps I think I like it.  Check out the before and after.

Ugh…don’t like at all…

Much better

What do you think?

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2011 in Home Decorating, Life

 

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Meatless Monday…Veggie Burgers and Edamame Broccoli Slaw

For the last month and a half we have challenged ourselves to have a meatless meal each week.  This week I turned to Betty.  Yes, I like to call my cookbooks by their first names…Betty…Joy…

So Betty has a decent vegetarian section and I found Veggie and Bean Burgers.  I altered it a bit and added some more seasoning.  They were awesome!  My favorite veggie burger by far! It had a creamy texture and a nutty flavor and was perfect with a toasted whole wheat English muffin, a slice of tomato, spinach, and a dollop of mayo.  I am drooling a bit right now; good thing I have a burger in the fridge for lunch!

Coming up with a side dish for our meatless meals is a little bit of a challenge.  I always want to do something creative but we are not so imaginative with side dishes.  Jonathan suggested edamame, so we bought a bag of shelled edamame and I threw some things together and we ended up with a pretty tasty slaw.

Veggie and Bean Burgers (adapted from Betty Crocker, New Edition)
serves 4….or two and lunch the next day

1/2 cup cooked brown rice
3/4 cup broccoli (measuring broccoli is ridiculous, so I used a small crown)
4 button or crimini mushroom
1/4 bell pepper (red or green…I used green)

1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 egg
1 clove garlic

1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 t. grated onion (I used a micro plane grater…you could just finely chop ’em)
1/4 t. ground red pepper
1/4 t. cumin
1/4 t. turmeric
salt and pepper to taste

sliced tomatoes
four whole wheat English muffins
baby spinach leaves
mayo

1. In food processor pulse the broccoli, mushrooms, and pepper until finely chopped. Mix with the rice in a medium bowl.

2. Add beans, egg, and garlic to the food processor.  Process until smooth.  Add it to veggie mixture and mix in the bread crumbs, onion, red pepper, cumin, turmeric, salt and pepper.

3. Heat a bit of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Form the mixture into four even patties.  Cook 4-5 minutes on each side until golden brown.  Serve on English muffins with toppings.

Edamame and Broccoli Slaw
Serves 4ish…probably more.

1 pound frozen shelled edamame
1/2 package broccoli slaw
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 T mayonaise
2-3 T apple cider vinegar
1 t. soy sauce
1 T honey
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the edamame according to package instruction. Drain and run under cold water to chill them

2. Whisk together yogurt, mayo, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, salt and pepper.  Taste and tweak as necessary.

3. Add edamame and broccoli slaw to the dressing and mix

Try the recipes out and let me know what you think!

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2011 in Cooking and Restaurants

 

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Steinstossen, Schnitzel, and Pineapple Upside Down Cake

It’s Sunday evening and I am not hungry for dinner.  My belly is sufficiently full of schnitzel, potato pancakes, and Molasses cookies.  We headed up to Oregon, OH for the German American Festival this afternoon and were rewarded with the smell of sausages and sauerkraut as we turned into the parking lot.  Mostly this festival is an excuse to eat delicious fried food and drink authentic German beer, but they did have a few interesting events…my favorite being the Steinstossen, or stone throwing contest.  For the men’s competition, the guys had to throw a 138 lb stone…or would that be a rock?  A boulder?  Hmmm.  The farthest we saw someone through was 12.5 feet.  Granted, he was like seven feet tall, but still no small feat.  The ladies had to throw a 75 lb stone.  The record when we left was over nine feet!  I picked up some good tips on form and technique and I am ready to try it out myself next year!

Hanging out with the Germans wasn’t the only fun thing we did this weekend, we also had dinner with our new friends, the Ryan family. We supplied the dessert and in true Brynn fashion it was homemade.  I started out with a simple pineapple upside-down cake, but I wasn’t satisfied.  It may have been the fact that the only round platter/cake plate I have is substantially larger than your typical 9 inch cake, therefore making my cake look pretty puny.  

I needed an accompaniment and what goes better with cake than ice cream.  So…I whipped out my friend Joy (Joy of Cooking, that is) and found her recipe for Vanilla Frozen Yogurt.  Four simple ingredients: plain low-fat yogurt, sugar, whole milk, and gelatin.  

I whipped it up and poured it in my ice cream attachment for the Kitchenaid and we were in business.  When it was still soft out of the machine it tasted a bit like frozen Cool Whip, but as it hardened it morphed into true frozen yogurt.  Yum yum!

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Favorite Photo Friday

I am beginning to think it is fall despite the fact that I just about sweat to death when I went for a jog today.  I have been collecting inspiration for autumn mantels as this is the first time EVER I have had a mantel.  I have never been the type to decorate for the seasons…well, maybe a mini christmas tree in the corner, but never corn stalks, pumpkins, gourds, wheat, etc.  I want to…I want to really bad!

For the last four years I’ve lived in a state that didn’t have fall.  Needless to say I am psyched to see the leaves change.  In honor of that I bring you two of my favorite fall photos:

This one I took in Frederick, MD back in 2004 when I was a nanny.  This was one of about thirty pictures I took of these beautiful leaves.

Some of you may have seen this photo before.  It is one of my favorite places, right along Rt. 15 near the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania.  I drove by this barn every time I went back home to my parents’ house when I lived in Maryland and Virginia.  Every time I drove by I suppressed the urge to jump out of the car and take a picture.  Last November when we were back in the area for a wedding Jonathan pulled over and I hopped out and finally got my picture.  It was during this trip I realized I hadn’t seen fall in three years and that I truly missed the changing of the seasons.  I am thrilled to be in Ohio where we are guaranteed the weather will get colder.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Happy Homemaker

That is what Jonathan has started to call me…Happy Homemaker.  I am on day three of being an official housewife, and I have probably another week or two until my services are called upon to substitute teach. That is my plan for this year, substitute teach and get a feel for what education is like in these parts.  I was a little spoiled teaching where I did in Florida as it afforded me the opportunity to be creative and innovative with my teaching.  This is not the case in many other places.  Anyway…I am not here to talk about the state of education in this country.  I am here to talk about the yummy meal I made on day two of being a housewife.

I dug down and pulled out my Cuban heritage and made ropa vieja, frijoles negros, y arroz amarillo.  Muy facil y delicioso! Ahem, I mean I made Cuban beef stew, black beans, and yellow rice.  Very easy and delicious.

Ropa vieja translates to “old clothes” as that is what the beef looks like when it is all shredded apart and yummy.  I’d prefer not to think of them as clothes.  Anyway…I’ve made this a few times and have stopped looking at recipes much because with all traditional dishes in a particular culture, everyone has a different recipe and everyone says it’s authentic.  Here’s what I did:

Disclaimer:  I don’t really measure anything…ever when I cook.  Baking, maybe…cooking, no.  So, these are all approximations

2 bottom round steaks (or any meat that would be tough to eat if you didn’t stew it all day)
1 large can tomato puree
3/4 small can tomato paste
2-3 bell peppers sliced…red or green doesn’t matter
1 onion sliced
2 cloves of garlic chopped
2 bay leaves
sprinkle of dried rosemary
sprinkle of cumin
splash of white vinegar (maybe about 2 tablespoons?)
2 little cubes of beef bouillon (optional)

  1. Sear the steaks in a little oil over medium-high to high heat…just to get them brown. Watch out for your smoke alarms, mine didn’t like this step.Sprinkle with salt and pepper if you please.
  2. Place them in the bottom of a smallish crock pot.  I started out with our big one, but opted for the smaller one as you need to cover the meat and veggies with liquid and it would take too much to do that in the big one.
  3. If your pan has all kinds of yummy brown bits pour a little water in and scrape them up.  Pour this over the meat.
  4. Place the peppers, onions, garlic, and spices on top of the meat.
  5. Pour on enough of the tomato puree to come to the top of the veggies
  6.  Mix in the tomato paste and vinegar
  7. Cook on low for 8 hours
  8. You’ll know it’s done when the meat shreds apart when you poke it.  I just kept poking it and stirring the pot with a spoon until it was all shredded up and stew-looking.
  9. At this point, taste it.  If it tastes a little too acidic, add some honey.  If it tastes a little too tomatoey and not beefy, add some beef bouillon.

For the black beans I went easy and opened two cans…just like Grandma used to.  I popped them in a pot with half a green pepper (diced), a clove of garlic (finely chopped), a sprig of oregano, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Set it on low and let it simmer away.  The longer the better.  I usually add onion, but we ran out.

The rice was easy and not what I usually do.  My family always has white rice with our black beans, but at my favorite little restaurant in Gainesville, Mi Apa, they serve yellow rice and it is really yummy.  I didn’t look to see how to make yellow rice, so I just sprinkled a packet of Sazon seasoning into the rice water.  Miraculously I ended up with yellowish/orange rice.

A fabulous meal!

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2011 in Cooking and Restaurants, Life

 

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