Well, March didn't come in like a lion or a lamb, more like a lion cub, with spurts of snow squalls throughout the day. We took a ride through the countryside and the sight of the fields of corn stubble peeking out of the snow with the crows silhouetted against the pale gray sky made my heart swell. All the old barns and farmhouses made the world look like a Billy Jacobs painting. This land, this place, is where my heart belongs. There's such a serenity that comes from knowing you are where you should be, it reminds me of the Shaker song, Simple Gifts.
'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
"Faux" Spice Cake (do not eat!)
2 C. flour
1 C. kosher salt
1 C. coffee (the stronger the better)
1/3 C. cinnamon
3 tbsp. cloves
Combine all the ingredients, spread into your cake pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. You can "flour" the pan with more cinnamon or any spice, if desired. Make sure to fill the pan all the way up, as these "cakes" don't rise and spread the batter in really well because the ingredients don't melt. Bake at a very low oven, 175 degrees, for 4-6 hours depending upon the size you are making. They should be dry to the touch and the batter should be pulling away from the side. Remove from the pan. I like to sprinkle mine with some of that oil used in those diffuser reeds for added scent. Smells great! And prettier than one of those scent diffusers, I think. You can use different spices too. It's a fun project and an easy craft. Only problem, it makes me hungry for real spice cake!
What a joy it was to get out my sewing machine! I love to knit, but sometimes it's nice to have a project that can be finished in a matter of hours rather than week (or months, in my case). I sewed this butcher-style apron, using an old sheet.
I cut the fabric to take advantage of the decorative border. It's cute but next time I'd make it smaller, the top part gaps, and I'd make the straps longer, as the darts and waist do not hit me where they should. Glad I didn't waste any money on it! Here's the vintage pattern I used:
The One Thing I Like About Lent
To me, Lent is not a season of happiness, it is a season of atonement, mourning and regrets, but there is one thing I do love about the season and that is that fish becomes very affordable. Yesterday, I bought pollock for $1.69/ lb.! Here's my recipe for my very favorite way to prepare it:
Pecan Crusted Orange Whitefish
1 lb. any whitefish (catfish, pollock, whitefish, cod)
1/3 C. orange marmalade
1 tbsp. prepared mustard
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1 C. cornflake crumbs or breadcrumbs
1/2 C. chopped pecans
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
Place fish fillets on a broiler pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Broil until fish turns white and starts to flake (about 10 minutes). Remove from the heat and turn over the fillets. Combine the marmalade, mustard and 1 tsp of Cajun seasoning in a small bowl. Cover the fish fillets with the marmalade mixture. Combine the remaining ingredients and top the marmalade covered fish with it. Return to the broiler and broil until the fish is cooked through and the topping begins to brown and the marmalade begins to bubble.
I know that this may seem like an unusual combination of flavors to some, but oh boy!, is it ever good! Combine this with some oven-fried sweet potato fries and a nice green salad, and you've got yourself a meal!
Don't Buy It, Make It
No need to buy those expensive bottles of Cajun seasoning, it's easy to make from spices every kitchen should have on hand. There's a ton of recipes on-line and they are all the same, just combine:
2 1/2 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. oregano
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. black pepper
Thrifty Things We Did This Week
We actually hung the laundry outside on the line one day. Halfway through the drying, it began to snow and we had to rush to get them off the line before they froze, but they still got that nice outdoor fresh smell. Ah! Springtime in Michigan!
Bought fish for $1.67/lb.
Sewed an apron from an old bedsheet.
Bought half a dozen old magazines at a thrift store 3/$1. Best entertainment I could find for $2!
We didn't need to buy groceries this week (except for the fish), as I'm trying to work down my pantry and freezer. Some of the meals we had were beef stew, lasagna, and pizza.
Renewed my Walgreen's prescription plan. This saves us a lot of money on my thyroid medication.
Got a good report from my doctor's appointment. Those that don't think diet and exercise matter, it matters!
My computer crashed, again. Jamie managed to get it up and going, without having to buy a new one. I thought for sure this time it was a goner.
Picked up all the bottles and cans we found along the road as we walked and returned them. Made $4! Maybe not enough to live on, but surely enough for a couple of bags of beans or rice. PLus the roadsides look cleaner too!
So that's it for another week at the old Zempel boarding house. I hope you all have a joy filled and contented week!