Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Traditions- Chile Cheese Rolls

Growing up in Oklahoma with lots of cousins, aunts and uncles in the surrounding area, our Christmas celebration was casual, fun and always held at Grandma Carter's house on Christmas Eve. Grandma's silver artificial tree was set up on the coffee table in the corner by the fire place with the rotating colored light disc transforming the whole living room into a colorful, noisy ball of excitement. The uncles teased and tickled, the aunts were helping in the kitchen, the bright strobe of the camera flashed, and the presents were stacked high as the party began. Sitting on the back stairs was always a where you could find the cousins.
My mom and dad Christmas 1967 standing by the famous silver tree.

The tireless aunts doing dishes in the tiny, yet effective kitchen. Left to right, Aunt Jo, Aunt Leila, Grandma Carter, and my great Aunt Georgie.

The silly cousins sitting on top of Uncle Al. Both of my uncles were fun and loved all the kids.

The menu was simple, yet consisted of three must-haves for Christmas to begin:

Uncle Sam's Weinie Roll-Ups, yep the hot dogs rolled in crescent roll dough, baked and dipped in mustard or ketchup.

Chile Cheese Rolls, sliced and placed on Ritz crackers (recipe to follow)

A pickle and olive tray

and 8 oz. bottles of Coca-Cola

This combination was magical and festive and we all looked forward to it's simple yumminess every year.

Sadly we moved away from Oklahoma City many years ago, and no longer go home for Christmas to celebrate with the family. All the cousins have grown up and now have traditions of their own. As my kids are all young adults now, our own traditions and our Christmas eve meal have graduated to cheese fondue, mixed veggie tray, french bread, and cider and wine.

But, before I get ahead of myself, here's the recipe for

Grandma Carter's Chile Cheese Roll

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

8 oz. cheddar cheese, grated

1 tsp. garlic salt

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. Chile Powder PLUS

1 container Chile Powder (buy the big one at your local box store)

In a large bowl, place cream cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic salt, pecans, mayo, and 1 tbsp. chile powder. Set aside.

Tear off 12x12 inch squares of wax paper and stack 3-4 sheets on top of one another and have ready nearby. Onto the top sheet of wax paper pour 1/2 cup of chile powder into the center.

Mix all ingredients together with your CLEAN hands. This is the best way to incorporate all ingredients. I know it's messy, but it works.

Shape into rolls or logs 5-7 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. If I'm making this by myself I make all the rolls and set aside inside the bowl til all are shaped. If working with my husband or one of my young adult offspring, one of us does the messy work, and one keeps their hands clean to do the rolling/wrapping.

With clean hands (or a helper) roll the logs into the chile powder, lifting the wax paper and moving the roll around to maintain shape, yet cover in chile powder.

Slide the first sheet of wax paper off, and place newly rolled log onto a clean sheet of wax paper to wrap and store in fridge. I like to also add a second, neater wrap of aluminum foil on top of the wax paper wrapping, so it's ready for gift giving.

Add a ribbon the roll, and put it in a pretty gift bag with a sleeve of Ritz crackers and bottle of Coke.

When serving my own for guests, I like to roll the log in chile powder one more time before placing it on a pretty plate with Ritz crackers surrounding. I promise you the folks you give this to will be nice not naughty all year so they'll get another one the following Christmas.

Last night my son, the Carter namesake, came over to make these rolls for gift-giving and our enjoyment. It was fun remembering Christmas Eve dinners at Grandma's and simple pleasures.

Merry Christmas!


A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."

Isaiah 40:3-5

Friday, October 2, 2009

Tubing the 'Doah

Last year began a tradition of Staycations with two other families whom we've vacationed with for several years. One of the eleven kids got married last summer so thus began our goal of doing fun summer activities locally. Not everyone makes each part of the "Staycation" activities, but we all do our best to take time off to be together.
Last year we did a white-water rafting trip down the Shenandoah, but this year decided to do a shorter trip by tubing down the 'Doah. The top photo is a beautiful view of Harper's Ferry, West Virginia as you drive over the bridge from Maryland into West Virginia. It was a welcomed cooler day, overcast with bits of sprinklings.

Here's the gang above: Clancy, Trevin, Jessie, Hannah, my hubby Michael, Katie, Paul T, and Beckie. Yes, those are the tubes in the background which were incredibly comfortable to rest and relax while floating down this beautiful river.

We had to buy these cute little "floaters" for our sunglasses and of course, Clancy and Trevin found fun ways to wear them. Check out this ironwork on the bridge, it's almost as beautiful as the river and mountains. I took photos on the river with a waterproof camera they sell in the tube rental office, but have yet to have them printed. So, imagine four fifty-something adults with six young adults floating lazily along the river. What a glorious way to enjoy God's incredible creation. Being propelled along with a gentle current of the river and looking up at the sky, an occasional osprey, and friends and family made for a great summer day.

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Tim. 6:17

Thank you Lord for a day of rest in the middle of the week to enjoy your rich provisions.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A matrimonial summer

So you don't think I've done nothing all summer but get creative with swiss chard, I decided to post a little about my work. Some of you readers may know I'm a floral designer and have started a business with a friend. We have the best job in the world; making people happy, playing with flowers, designing in clever and creative ways, AND getting paid to do so. What could be better? Here's a recent wedding we did for a lovely couple, Meghan and Ryan. Meghan chose green hydrangeas and gerbera daisies for her bouquets, and here's the cake sporting their flowers alongside the toss bouquet.

Look at this lovely Bride's Room. Ahhh..... I think I could swoon awhile in her while escaping from the summer heat and enjoy a Mojito or a glass of champagne. Ahh......... isn't it gorgeous?

The location of the reception was a beautiful place called the Newton-White Mansion near Annapolis, Maryland. When you enter the courtyard of the mansion these handsome brick roosters greet you on either side of the terrace.

Can't you just picture well, anyone in a beautiful gown with a tuxedoed arm wrapped around their waist in this courtyard? Maybe a horse-drawn carriage, too.

OK, back to reality... here my dining room table filled with the flowers of the day, and you can see the bouquets peeking over at the end of the table. In the foreground are baby green, and large green hydrangeas, with Belles of Ireland, stock and lisianthus in the black bucket.

Like I said, Meghan loves Gerbera Daisies and each bride's maid had a different color daisy featured in her bouquet, with the corresponding boutonierre of the groomsmen. Here's the red bout. A bit on the large, and even garrish side, but hey these guys are young and can handle sporting a large bloom on their lapel. I think it's rather cool.

Here's the "pink" bride's maid admiring the flower girl's petal basket. My daughter did a great job wiring the flowers to a barrette for this precious flower girl, who was debuting as such in her first wedding.

In the center is the lovely mother of the bride along with Miss Orange, and Miss Yellow bride's maids.

I loved each of the bouquets but I think the pink was my favorite. See those green tea roses imbedded in the huge hydrangeas?

I love the lacing we did on these bouquets, as it immitated the corset-style lacing of the bride's gown. Speaking of the bride........

Isn't she spectacular? Her bouquet was filled with fragrant white stock, white roses, gerbera daisies, and soft, beautiful lisianthus. Ahh....... I'm swooning again.
I'm telling you I do indeed have the best job in the world. I'm so blessed to be able to work at something I love, and in the end bless others and bring glory to God through all he's given me. My business partner and I just marvel over how God is blessing this business and opening doors for us to meet lovely brides.
Stay tuned for more bride's a a birthday post.
Here's to summer bride's, flowers, and pursuing the gifts God's given you~

Monday, June 8, 2009

What to do with Swiss Chard

I made a dish called Eggs in a Nest from a book I read back in January entitled Animal, Vegetable, Miracle; A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver with Stephen L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver. If you're interested in where food comes from or what you're really eating when you purchase most of your food from the local grocer you might want to read this book. It's fascinating. The three authors are three members of a family who move to a farm and live off the land for a year. The authors daugther Camille added recipes and stories along with way of life as a college student eating unlike most college students. One of the recipes is Eggs in a Nest.

I added a little salt and pepper and parmesan cheese to the top of the eggs once they were poached. Clever Husband and Busy Girl loved it. They added some Tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) to theirs for some extra flavor. These photos are backwards and I don't have time to rearrange them now, but here what the chard looks like after it's been sauteed. I'm making the indentations for the eggs.

As you can see the raw chard below filled the cast iron skillet before it cooked down.

Here's the sauteed onion, garlic, carrots and dried tomatoes which are under the chard. I wasn't sure I'd like this combination with the tomatoes, but that was one of my favorite flavors in this dish. I used Sun-Dried tomatoes in olive oil.

Here's the brown rice in the cooker ready to go.

Why Grow it in the first place?
To be honest we've had some curious looks when we run down the list of the veggies we're growing when it comes to Swiss Chard. Some folks nod and smile and you can tell they're wondering why in the world we'd grow it, or they've never heard of it and don't want to appear ignorant of the lovely plant. Swiss Chard is in the beet family so the green tops look close to beet greens. The stalks which hold these leaves look like skinny celery or rhubarb stalks in colors ranging from pale green to deep red and even pink and yellow.
Swiss chard loaded with nutritious vitamins including vitamins K, A, C and E, plus several B vitamins, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron and dietary fiber. Calcium is also in these beautiful plants along with cancer-fighting properties. The reason it's called Swiss Chard is because a swiss bontaist named Koch gave it's official scientific name of beta vulgaris. See told you it was in the beet family. That name doesn't conjure up affection toward this plant, but instead I read it "Vulgar Beets." Don't be alarmed! Nothing vulgar about this plant at all.

Greening up your diet can do nothing but good for your body so planting swiss chard is an easy way to add some healthy greens to your table. We bought "Bright Lights" which is a combo of colors and planted the seeds in late March. We've been harvesting the leaves for the past week and the plants show no signs of stopping. Cut the outside leaves with scissors just like lettuce and it keeps producing from the center of the plant.
Any takers willing to try adding swiss chard to their menus this week or to their gardens? Try the Eggs in a Nest for a nutritious meatless meal. It fills you up with lots lots good fiber, greens, and veggies, along with the protein in the egg and brown rice.
Here's to brave palates and colorful garden vegetables!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Baby broccoli and berries!

Nope this guy is not looking for broccoli and berries through those binoculars.

He's just taking a break from gardening and observing this red-bellied woodpecker enjoy our suet cake across the yard. I can't do a garden update without showing what's blooming in the flower garden. Right below this feeder is a new columbine my mom gave me for Mother's Day. I had to put it near the bird feeder and under the red bud. The beauty of these flowers amazes me. I have some solid pale pink and some white, but nothing as fancy as this bloom.

Here's a rhodedendron we've had for 17 years. It's one of three we planted, and still blooms it's little heart out for our enjoyment.

Here's Maggie, the Queen of the deck! She's 13 years old and spend most of her days sleeping in the garage in her crate. This is her choice. We crate trained here when she was a puppy and she still likes the comfort of her own space in the crate. She's moving slowly as arthritis is settling in her hind quarters, but she still dances when my husband comes home as he's the one who feeds her. This dog lives for food.

The mastermind behind the garden is my husband. He's been great about doing all the heavy lifting when needed, and is just like a little kid in his enthusiasm. He's enjoying a rest in the hammock swing while petting Shadow.

The potatoes are growing quicker than we can keep the straw and grass cuttings piled up under them. We'll put a some kind of enclosure around the outside of the box so we can continue to fill and cover the plants to encourage vertical potatoes.

The onions, carrots, lettuce and corn are doing well. We'll replace the lettuce with other crops as soon as it gets hot. Probably peppers seedlings I have ready and waiting. The spinach has already bolted and I miss adding it to my salads.

Our blueberry and strawberry plants are covered to protect them from the cat birds and others who like berries. My husband built this lightweight covering out of chicken wire and a four-sided bottom. He lashed it together with plastic trash ties. It's easy to lift off to access the berries. Ooooh, I can't wait to pick these lucious blueberries some morning in June and enjoy them with some yogurt.

Above are the tomato plants we put in May 14. We've planted Celebrity, Old German, Brandywine, and Better Boys. There's one more yellow variety in there also.

Below is the tomato box with the broccoli/cabbage/cauliflower box in the foreground. These three vegetables were bought as plants in tiny six packs from our local Farmer's Coop. We planted them on a cold rainy day in March.

" .......but God gave the growth." Look at them now! Big healthy plants. Some didn't make it, so we immediately filled those available squares with extra beets and swiss chard.

This past week we began seeing the baby broccoli heads.

We're amazed at how easy square foot gardening has been for us. No digging and no weeding has been the best part. Looking forward to a boutiful harvest! I'd love to see other gardens, so if you've got one tell me what's growing in your corner of the world.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building. 1 Cor. 3: 6-9

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Table Runner Giveaway

One of my favorite places to dream about decorating is The Lettered Cottage. I love Layla's style and wish I could bring her to my home for a week and help me finish my basement decorating.

The photo above shows a cool burlap table runner she's giving away on her blog. Here's the info. about who made it and how you could win it for your home.

The woman who makes these Grace has an etsy shop which can be found here:
If you win Grace will put whatever letter you want on yours. Love it!
You can read more about Grace here on her blog, and she's even having a giveaway, too.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Recession Garden update

See this empty bed? We're impatiently awaiting May 15 to transplant our tomato plants into neat rows. We'll plant them deep as tomatoes send out more roots when planted this way. Below are the tomatoes waiting to be snugged into their new bed. Today we added more composted cow manure and vermiculite along with crushed egg shells to add calcium to the tomato bed. I've been saving egg shells since before Easter, and today I crushed my collection into a powder before dusting the bed.

Here is our potato bed. We've planted Klondike Gold, Russets, Redskin, and sweet potatoes into this bed. As they come up we'll continue adding more straw and dry grass clippings so the plant will become a vertical producer of more potatoes.

Here are the strawberry plants surrounding the blueberry bush. I was checking today and there are lots of strawberry blossoms promising sweet red berries. Mmmm......

The red, yellow and white onion sets are coming up nicely. We've lost a few cauliflower and broccoli plants perhaps due to too much rain this spring; or it could be we set them out a bit too early. Yep there's Maggie watching the broccoli grow. We're wondering if she'll live much longer.

We've picked enough baby spinach and lettuce leaves for a few salads and some added crunch to our sandwiches. Some days we snack on it as soon as we bring it in and wash off the dirt.
This photo shows the layout of six plants in the square foot.

It's amazing to me how a big head of cabbage will grow from this lowly plant.

This Friday I'll be planting tomatoes, peppers and eggplant into the garden. My neighbor has planted his tomatoes and placed large cardboard boxes over them to keep them protected from any chance of late spring frost and to keep the deer from snacking on the tender leaves. He's cut windows in the boxes for light. Each year we're neck and neck in the first red tomato race. Stayed tuned!

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