Category Archives: food musings

I’m a Featured Apronista!

featuredapronista200x200

Squeeeeee!  I have a new friend, Shawnee, who creates The Apronista–Domestic Dish for the Hip Homemaker.  Her site is about lots of homekeeping things, but focuses on Aprons.  How I loves a cute apron!  Shawnee found me through a couple of my apron posts: Apron Strings, Heart Strings, and  Holiday Baking Needs a festive Apron.  I associate aprons with cooking and the women in my family.  Like Great-Aunt Rosie who was only without an apron in church.  Here she is “herding” the passel of first cousins, apron underneath her cardigan.  Notice her hand firmly controlling cousin Danny.  😉  I’m the one closest to her right elbow.  Her apron strings were powerful, indeed!

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Now I can add a new apron association–making new friends!  Trip-trap on over to Shawnee’s site to see me(!) and check out groovy apron patterns, recipes and more.  Like her page on Facebook for apron-tastic updates!  I’m thinking I may need a new apron to celebrate!

 

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Holiday Baking Needs a Festive Apron

I’ve posted about my apron fetish before–I just can’t resist a cute apron!  In that post, I showed you my collection at that point, but my Holiday aprons were packed away in a box marked linens.  In with red and green kitchen towels and napkins and such is an equally sizable and always increasing selection of required Holiday kitchen apparel.  Now that I’ve decorated my house for Christmas, I get to decorate myself as well.  Oh how I loves to wear a festive apron when baking Christmas cookies!

Let’s start with aprons handmade by my Mom, and given to me as Christmas gifts.  To me, handmade gifts are the best.  When you make something for someone else, you spend time thinking of the person you’re making it for and all the love you have for them goes right into the gift.  These aprons are hugs from my Mom.  One is from a pattern she had that called for a variety of Christmas print “fat quarters.”  Fat quarters are remnants of fabric that are just over a quarter yard.  It has a great roomy pocket and a skinny one for a wooden spoon, and is tied with green grosgrain ribbon.  The one in the middle is made from a fabric printed especially to be an apron.  It has a teddy bear Christmas tree on it and is tied with fabric that looks like music.  The last is the first one she made for me from a single pretty red Christmas print.  It’s the least fancy of the three, and usually my favorite of the three.  My mood or what I’m cooking sometimes sways me to one of the others, plus a silly sense of fairness–“Oh I haven’t worn that one in a while, I probably should.”

From Mom

My BFF Becky and I both have these three.  We co-host a cookie exchange party each year, and some years we get new matching aprons as gifts to each other.  The newest one is the one with words all over it.  We love the colors and style and that whoever designed the print might not have been paying attention.  The word Noel is there, its first three letters capitalized and the L in lower case, so it looks like this:  NOEl.  Like it should be pronounced no-ee.  A funny little flaw that is somehow endearing.  We also have hand-painted Christmas tree aprons with jaunty little striped bows and “sexy” Santa aprons complete with feather boa “fur.”

cookie party

These are two aprons I bought for myself.  The one with red and white shoulders and pockets is made from an old-fashioned pattern, and I’m a total sucker for such bits of nostalgia–had to have it.  The black and white one isn’t what you might think of as festive, but it is definitely a holiday apron.

mine

Here’s the story:

My Mom used to give a Holiday party between Christmas and New Years.  It was quite the event, with tons of food and drinks and people.  Michael, Zach and I were there for one of them and got roped into making all of the lefse and kringla and then making sure that platters were kept full as the Open House progressed.  Mom teased me about needing a black and white maid’s outfit.  The year she died, she was planning another of these extravaganzas and asked if we would come (to New Mexico) for it.  Yes! we said.  She said to be sure to bring my maid’s outfit.  I schemed with my sister to have maid’s uniforms ready and to not tell Mom.  We had white shirts, black pants and these black and white aprons.  What a fun surprise it would have been!  Mom’s last party didn’t happen and the apron went unused.  I’m hoping one of these years I’ll be organized enough to host my own Holiday Open House.  I’ll wear the black and white apron.

Adele's

The last two belonged to Michael’s Mom.  We came upon them packing up her things after she died, so I don’t know their stories.  I do know that this sort of apron is known as a hostess apron–worn by the hostess after all the cooking is done, during the party.  Probably with pearls.  And heels.  And a pretty party dress.  These aprons are for someone (like my Mom-in-law) with a tiny, tiny waist.  I keep them around for the nostalgia, because they’re not going around MY waist!  My favorite is the green one with red, flocked poinsettias.

All of these aprons bring me a great deal of joy when I unpack them each year.  They make the Holidays all the more special, especially by remembering the great cooks and hostesses they represent for me.  ❤

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An Ode to Butternut Squash

Autumn.  A bit of chill in the air.  Sky that seems even more blue.   Leaves vibrant in yellows, oranges, reds and purples. Quiet afternoons strolling through fallen leaves; kicking them in the air, breathing in their aroma as they crush.  Apple cider, sweaters, the smell of the burned place on the lid of a jack-o-lantern.  Fall is the reward for surviving summer’s heat; a time to make memories to keep you warm in the cold of winter.

Butternut squash grow and become fat during the summer, turning a lovely tawny gold by first frost.  Being so-called winter squash, they ripen in the fall and will keep in a cool dark place for up to six months.  Their orange flesh is sweet and the perfect foil for savory fall soups and pastas. I grow butternut plants in my perennial bed; their vines traveling through and around the flax, chocolate flowers and iris.  When the garden frosts off, I’m left with a sort of treasure hunt to find the squash.  This year, I found nearly twenty!

Aren’t they pretty? 

These will keep me in squash for the winter, even after sharing with friends!  The first recipe that comes to mind after squash harvest, and deserving of a reposting, is Pasta with Butternut Squash, Brown Butter and Rosemary.  I love the sweetness of the roasted squash combined with nutty brown butter, the piney tang of rosemary and pine nuts, and topped with salty parmesan.  Oh.  Fall flavor in a bowl.  Yummy!  I made it last week, using rotini instead of the torn lasagne.  I think I like the rotini better–the butternut gets caught in the little twisty turns of the pasta for more yum per bite.

Celebrate fall by going leaf-scrunching wearing your favorite sweater and come home to a yummy butternut squash pasta…..and maybe a lovely chardonnay!

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Filed under comfort food, dinner, food musings, Garden produce, recipe, Vegetarian

Pizza Night!

Monday night has been Pizza Night since Mr16 was a freshman in marching band.  Marching bands practice for hours and hours.  Often, more hours than the football team!  When he gets home he is thirsty and hungry.  Dinner can’t happen quickly enough.  The solution?  Take-and-Bake pizza! 

If we’re near the highschool, we go to Papa Murphy’s.  We order the pizza and drive a couple of blocks to pick it up.  If we’re in town, we go to Nick and Willy’s.  Tonight we were in town for an oboe lesson.  We ordered right after the lesson, and the pizza was ready when we got there!

We have a VIP card from Nick and Willy’s–bought from a school fundraiser.  The card is $10, and gives you a two-for one sort of deal: buy a signature pizza, get a single topping of the same size free.  The card pays for itself on the first use, and you can use it 10 times!

Tonight we ordered a large Magellan and a large sausage.  The Magellan is one of the signature pizzas.  The menu describes it this way: “An adventure in taste! White zesty garlic sauce, mozzarella, fontina, fresh spinach, roma tomatoes, mushrooms, spicy sausage, fresh-chopped basil.”

 

Yummy!  All take-and-bake pizzas come with similar baking instructions, conveniently stuck on the top of the wrapping.  A bit of experimentation is in order to find the correct time for your oven.  The pizza comes on a disposable pan, so clean up is a breeze!

Here are a couple pieces of the Magellan, baked and the baked sausage pizza.

I love having dinner already decided on Mondays.  No fuss, no mess, yummy, and you can’t beat two large pizzas for $16!  We usually have leftover for breakfast the next day and/or lunch!  (Just LOVE pizza for breakfast!) 

We almost always have pizza on Mondays–even during vacations.  Do you have special food days at your house?  How did they come about?

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Planned Overs: A New Way of Thinking

….a new way of thinking about leftovers.  We’re a leftover sort of house–anything not eaten is stored away in the fridge.  These pre-cooked items are sometimes repurposed as breakfast, sometimes eaten for lunch, sometimes eaten for dinner the next day.  Popular leftovers are eaten first, the not so popular get eaten by me.  If they become fungus farms (that last little bit of Thanksgiving stuffing?!), they get eaten by the disposal.

I currently have a selection of three different former entrees:  beer-braised chicken burritos, spicy sausage, potato and spinach soup, and tuna with tarragon.

These three will most likely be served like they were to begin with.  But sometimes you have a little of this, a little of that.  That’s the time to type leftovers in the search window at Food Network for ideas or become the Iron Chef of your own kitchen stadium and whip up your own “succulent variations” using your leftover “secret ingredients.”

I’m sure I’m not the only one trying to stretch my food dollars these days.  More and more Food Network shows seem to be featuring leftovers.  Rachel Ray has a new program based on the idea of cooking one day a week and having dinners all week from the planned overs. Leftovers/planned overs are just too valuable to waste.  And why not?  Lots of foods are better the next day, after all the flavors have a chance to blend.  Who can resist the siren call of leftover Thanksgiving turkey?  It just begs to be a sandwich or enchiladas or tetrazzini or turkey noodle soup….  

I love having leftovers.  It means a night off from cooking, or a meal that can come together quickly when we have a tight turn-around between events.   Because of this particular quality of leftovers, my mom started calling them planned overs!  You know when your week is going to get crazy.  You make a big pot of somethin’ yummy early in the week and pull out the planned overs when the crazy starts.

How ’bout you, dear reader?  Leftovers=yummy or leftovers=blech?  Join the conversation by responding to the new poll on the left and/or by commenting to this post.

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