Hello dear friends! Hope this post finds you all safe and sound. We experienced a true Indian Summer this week, when the temperatures reached into the 70s. We even had to sleep with the windows open. Strange weather for November! The next day it was so cold and chilly that my light winter coat wasn't warm enough. We even spotted a few snowflakes. I think we are finally settling down to what is normal weather for this time of year, thank goodness! Winter weather is one of the reasons I live where I do.
A SIMPLE MEAL
We had the simplest of meals today for lunch, vegetable soup and biscuits. Vegetable soup is certainly easy on the pocketbook and quick too. I always start with a base of onions, carrots and potatoes; the most inexpensive vegetables you can buy. Then I add a can (or in my case,jar) of tomatoes. Next I add a bean for protein, any old type will do; kidney, pinto, Great Northern, etc, but my favorite is the good old lima bean. After that I add whatever on the pantry shelf needs using up, this week it was a can of corn that was nearing it's expiration date. For seasoning, I add some minced garlic and some smoked pepper and salt. I find that what we miss most in vegan foods is the smoky flavor, so by using smoked salt and pepper, we don't miss the meat at all. And there you have it, vegetable soup! To make the meal feel more special, I made an herb butter for the biscuits. Serve your humble meals in pretty serving dishes and your family will feel like they're royalty. How you serve your meals is just as important as what you serve, in your contentment, I've found. You can eat a can of soup right out of the pan or over the kitchen sink and feel "I'm poor" or you can serve it in a pretty bowl by candlelight and feel privileged and content. An added plus to sitting down to a table properly set is that it slows you down, you have conversations, and you feel fuller with less.
I knitted another baby sweater from the pattern in the last post. This time in red with a hood and a pompom on top.
Now is the time to mulch your berries. We take advantage of the many leaves and just run them over with the lawn mower with the bagger attachment. Then we place them around the strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Free mulch! I never rake the leaves from the flower garden. It adds another layer of insulation. Plus it's the lazy man's way of doing things. By the time we can rake them out in the spring, many have composted adding nutrients to the soil. Gardening can be as easy or as hard as you make it.
IT'S FRUITCAKE WEATHER, BUDDY!
Just as Capote's sherry-eyed cousin Sook knew it in her bones it was time to make the fruitcakes, we know there's a day here, too. And that day was this past Friday. Many of you, I'm sure think fruitcake is plain old nasty, but Ran and I look forward to having a slice in the evening throughout December. I even receive requests for them from my mother and sister. You have to start in November to have a proper fruitcake for December, they need time for the flavors to develop. My recipe differs from the traditional ones, it doesn't have the spices or gummy green citron in it. It's a variation on a fruit and nut cake that was quite popular in our hometown for weddings way back in the 1960s.
2 C. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 C. butter, softened
1 C. sugar
1 tsp. coconut extract
1/2 tsp. orange extract
1/2 tsp. brandy extract
1/2 C. orange juice
1/2 C. maraschino cherries, chopped
1/2 C. candied pineapple, diced fine
1 C. golden raisins
1 C. nuts, chopped
Combine 1 1/2 C. flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside
Toss cherries, pineapple, coconut, raisins and nuts with the remaining 1/2 C. flour. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in extracts. Mix well.
Stir in flour mixture alternately with the orange juice. Mix well.
Fold in the fruit and nut mixture.
Pack into a well greased and floured Turk's head mold or a large loaf pan.
Bake at 250 degrees for 2 hours or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.
Once cool, wrap in tin foil and store in a cool dry place. (Like a refrigerator).
Wait several weeks before slicing for the best flavor.
You can also sprinkle a little rum over the top before storing if you are so inclined.
I make a batch in those small loaf pans. You have to adjust the time for smaller pans. Check after 45 minutes for doneness.
There's plenty of free activities this time of year to enjoy. Local churches offer free concerts and for a small sum there's many harvest suppers being offered. Almost every weekend until the middle of December there's a craft fair to attend. All the small villages offer holiday open houses, cookie walks, and tree-lighting ceremonies. So you see, even us peasants can have fun this time of year! There's no excuse to stay at home and be bored!
ADVENTURES IN SHOPPING
Once a week we stop into our local grocery store and
check out the reduced for quick sale meat, and that determines what we
eat for the week. So far we had hamburg at $1.89 /lb. that was very
good. We made hamburgers, which are a rare treat for us, and meatloaf. Another time they had those seasoned pork loin roasts, which we used for sandwiches. One week, there wasn't anything too good, so we just used what we had in the pantry
MAKE DO AND MEND
I rescued an old skirt from the rag bag. I was going to use it for the
wool because it had a small pin prick moth hole, but instead darned the
hole. It's the pretty plum one you can see the edge of in the picture
of the socks. I love it. It's very vintage and the wool is such good
quality. And it's a circle skirt so it has just the right amount of
swishy-ness. And I only paid $2 for it!
THRIFTY THING WE DID THIS WEEK
We ate out of the pantry and freezer.
We're still hanging our laundry outside. Can you believe it?
We still haven't used the furnace, relying on wood to heat the house. Maybe we'll make it to Dec. 1st!
Knitted Christmas presents from my yarn stash.
Attended a holiday open house at our local Ben Franklin store. They had a sale of 20% off everything, so I bought supplies for knitting and sewing.
Sewed a curtain valance from two tea towels that I bought at the open house sale.
Used leaves for free ground cover.
Watched several old movies for free on YouTube. We're rewatching The Edwardian Farm.
Rescued an old skirt from the rag bag.
Just enjoyed the company of my husband and son. I'm so glad just to have a home and people that love me to share it with!
Here's hoping that you all have the loveliest week ahead of you!