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My Green Velvet Life

Where everything sticks.

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food

If life is a bowl of cherries you’ll need a pit bull.

We just spent a lovely weekend with family in Wisconsin’s thumb (Door County), the land of boats, lighthouses, hollyhocks, and many apple and cherry orchards.  I bought the smartest, granny-est souvenir from http://www.orchardcountry.com/:

Orchard Country’s Cherry Pitter

Yay! Now I can eat cherries respectfully at work.  No cherry-pit-spitting-cup needed!

I also brought home a bag of dried cherries.  (We won’t talk about the chocolate-covered dried cherries that mysteriously disappeared).  This gave me the perfect excuse to make my https://mygreenvelvetlife.com/2010/11/12/dish-darts-ode-to-jergens-lotion-cherry-almond-bagel-spread/.  Please try it! It is so yummy and easy!  No bull!

Taco Soup: What the elves are eating.

I have the perfect, easy and delicious recipe for all you elves out there.  We call it Taco Soup.  I can’t take credit for it.  A friend had found it in a newspaper many years ago.

Dump into pot and heat over medium heat:
Salsa – medium size jar
corn – 1 can (I don’t drain anything)
black beans – 1 can
chicken stock – 1 large can
green chilies – 1 small can (optional)
 
In the meantime, lightly crush tortilla chips into soup bowls.  Then cover crushed chips with grated cheese (we like sharp cheddar, but your choice).
 
 
When soup is hot, ladle over chips and cheese.
 

 You’ll be astounded at your elf magic!

This recipe makes a nice size pot of soup.  It’s about the quickest meal I’ve every heard of.  It keeps really well in the fridge (great to have for the day after Christmas or New Year’s Day).  You can also adjust the recipe in endless ways.  I often add cooked ground beef, shredded chicken, rice, etc.  Try it!

And maybe treat yourself to a cold Blue Moon beer with sliced lime.  So light and refreshing . . . The perfect way to unwind.

Santa says it’s ok put up your little elf feet for a bit.  He knows you’ve been busy.

Wishing you peace, joy and love!

What’s on Your Christmas List?

Are you feeling it? That longing for simplicity and joy in the midst of running around like mad trying to keep up with the season? What is on your wish list? I have a feeling it’s not something from a department store. Most everyone is feeling the pressure of producing lovely Christmas memories on an increasingly smaller budget, while of course the dollars we get hold less and less value. Time to take a deep breath and think about all the things that make you smile at Christmas time.  Here are some of my favorites. (Cliche warning!  If you venture beyond this paragraph don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Enjoying the views of Wisconsin winter from our house on the hill.

Off to the woods to cut down our tree.  Okay, the woods aren’t ours.  They belong to the Christmas tree farms.  We’re lucky to have so many beautiful places here in Wisconsin.  This year we got ours extra early so no snow . . .

Our tree filled with memories of a lifetime.

Christmas carols.  We all have our favorites.  Here are some of mine:

That Spirit of Christmas by Ray Charles
Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley
December Child by Cyndi Lauper
A Baby Just Like You by John Denver
Christmas Canon by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Music Box Blues by Trans-Siberian Orchestra (anything by these amazing people!)
Bluegrass, White Snow by Patty Loveless
Santa Train by Patty Loveless
Suzy Snowflake by Rosemary Clooney
Frosty the Snowman by Fiona Apple
Face of Love by Jewel
Here was a Man by Johnny Cash
Cool Yule by Louis Armstrong
Winter Song by Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson
Winter Light by Linda Rondstadt
Mary Had a Little Lamb by Garth Brooks
Beautiful Star of Bethlehem by Patty Loveless
Go, Tell It On the Mountain by BarlowGirl
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus by Jimmy Boyd
What Child is This by Tanya Tucker
While Roving on a Winter’s Night by Darol Anger
 

Making cookies with the kids.  It’s always a mess and there’s usually yelling at some point.  This is actually an old Easter picture but you’ll get the idea of the craziness.  Don’t worry.  No human mouths touched his finished cookies.

Christmas cards, a dying tradition I just can’t let go.  I save all of my favorite cards and dream over them during the season.  What a sap I know.  But don’t knock it.  It’s a great way to relax and simply enjoy beauty–no standing around in an expensive art museum, plus you can drink hot cocoa if you promise not to spill.

Handmade gifts.  When we were young newlyweds, we made most of our presents for family members.  Nowadays I try to at least make ornaments for all of our kids and grandkids each Christmas.  Here is one I made in 2008 using an old greeting card and painted cardboard.

Finding gifts in unexpected places.  My daughters and I love to spend the entire year keeping our eyes open for presents at rummage sales, Goodwill, St. Vinny’s  and small thrift shops.  No amount of mall shopping could have unearthed this little treasure.  Does anybody know more about these beautiful containers?  I’m picturing a little granny with her crochet hook . . . The cards all have a similar look.  I’d love to know who the artist is.

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Attempts to get all the grandkids in front of the tree and smiling at the same time.  We came close in 2006!

Remembering the excitement of getting ready for Christmas when my girls were little.   I can still smell their little shampooed heads.  My doll babies.

Wishing all the hurt away.  Let us remember the beauty of Christmas can be a source of great pain for many people.  But don’t stop celebrating because we have sadness and worry.  Just add a little compassion and gentleness to your gift list.  It’s the ultimate gift you can afford to give everybody, even yourself.  It’s free and personal.  It’s the original Christmas gift, recycled for over 2000 years.

DISH DARTS: Peppermint Patty Cake Box Cookies

Cake Box Cookies are your friend.  They are so quick and delicious.  There are many recipes, all very similar, and the combinations are endless.  Just pick a cake flavor and add your own flair (raisins, nuts, chocolate chips, etc.).   I recently used a chocolate cake mix and added white chocolate chips and crushed soft peppermint.  It’s my new favorite!  Easy and fun for everybody.  And pretty enough to leave for Santa himself.

Here is the recipe I use.  But first . . . the most important step:

Stock up on Bob’s Sweet Stripes Soft Peppermint Candy.  This old-fashioned treat is much softer than most peppermint candy.  In a cookie it’s heavenly!  I find it at Walmart every year at Christmas time where you must snatch it up immediately.  It disappears fast.  You can also order it from this fun candy site:  http://www.oldtimecandy.com

Soft Peppermint Patty Cakes
chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
6+ crushed soft peppermint sticks (I recommend Bob’s)
white chocolate chips
 
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together cake mix, oil & eggs.
Stir in crushed peppermint sticks & white chocolate chips.
Place by large spoonfuls on greased cookie sheet and bake approximate 10 minutes.
 
Now patty yourself on the back and eat some!  Makes about 2 dozen. 
 

DISH DARTS: Ode to Jergens Lotion (Cherry Almond) Bagel Spread

I love food blogs.  Someday I might even write a food blog.  But for now you’re stuck with my new food feature, DISH DARTS, on this everything-blog.  I’m all about no-fuss so don’t expect kitchen wizardry.  But I do have high standards:  Fresh.  Quick-and-easy.  Fun-to-eat.

You might notice I don’t give much direction on amounts and measuring.  Sometimes it is important to measure, but most of the time, you should be in charge of how much of whatever you like to put in your food.  You’re the boss and you get to eat it.

I also don’t have an endless store of ideas, so I might often hit up my talented friends and family for recipes/ideas to feature.  They’d get all the credit of course.  (All credit is paid in glory.  Sorry no cash.)  And if they’re shy I can use an alias or first name only . . .

When you have a few minutes, please check out http://foodpress.com.  It’s a brand new place WordPress has created for all sorts of food blogs and postings.  (For your convenience I’ve added it to my list of links to the right.)  Okay.  You’ve probably guessed it.  I wouldn’t mind getting featured over there once in a while.  But I don’t need it.  I am a homebody.  All I need is my cozy kitchen and comfy blog, and of course a few happy readers.

And . . . you readers will be very happy if you make this yummers Cherry Almond Bagel Spread.  It’s an Ode to Jergens Lotion because, as a young girl in the 60’s, I have very fond memories of the pretty black labeled lotion bottle sitting by our kitchen sink.  (Sorry Jergens but your vintage bottle was way cooler than the modern version.)  I’ve always loved the cherry almond smell, although as a child I had no idea it was cherry almond.  I also had no idea it would one day inspire my bagel spread.  Actually, I had never heard of a bagel back then.

Warning! Not for use with your bagel spread.
Ode to Jergens Lotion (Cherry Almond) Bagel Spread
  • cream cheese (I like Neufchatel cheese–it’s much less fat)
  • a little sugar (I like brown sugar)
  • a dash of almond extract
  • dried tart cherries (you can find these next to raisins, dates, etc.)
  • sliced almonds (best if you lightly toast them in a skillet with a dab of butter)
  • plain bagels
  1.  Soften the cream cheese.
  2. Add a little sugar to taste.
  3. Add almond extract to taste.
  4. Stir in dried cherries.
  5. Spread mixture over toasted bagels.
  6. Smother in toasted almonds.
 If you’re lucky enough to have some leftover you will get a delightful surprise.  After a day or so (stored in the fridge of course) the dried cherries in the mixture will plump up and burst open with yumminess when you spread it over the bagels.
Maybe you have your own memories of the Jergens 1960’s bottle?  I’d love to hear about them.  Whether you do or don’t, you can still go out and buy yourself the modern version.  It still smells wonderful.  And you might be buying a bottle of memories for your child . . .

Get Fried with a Friend

Fried Green Tomatoes.  Either you love them, hate them or really don’t care (and your response probably has a lot do with you being a southerner, at least at heart).  But you absolutely must love the movie!  My daughter Tara and I watched it once again on Sunday.  It’s the perfect movie for a lazy summer afternoon.  It’s about non-perfect people and friendship.  Who can’t relate to that?  Okay, if you think you don’t have one friend in this world, I promise you that is not true.  The world is full of people just waiting to be your friend.  Maybe you’re shy.  Well then take a class or volunteer, or start a blog for shy people.  Maybe you’ve hurt people.  Well then stop hurting people and ask for forgiveness (it’s never too late).  Maybe you’ve been hurt.  Well then cry, let go and move on.

Or.  Maybe you’ve just been cranky and depressed.  Well then remember Tawanda!  (And just maybe you need to get you some hormones?)  You don’t need to smash into any cars or knock down your bedroom walls.  Just smash into life and knock down your I’m-scared walls.

If you’ve never had fried green tomatoes, here is Tara’s yummy recipe.  She is like her mother and often struggles with being specific on quantities and measurements.  Don’t ever be afraid to eye-ball it.  Just be careful not to let it get out of hand like Idgie and Ruth did.  

 Tara’s Fried Green Tomatoes
green tomatoes (unripe red tomatoes)
flour (Tara recommends Kentucky Kernel Seasoned Flour)
milk (can add egg if you like)
salt & pepper (optional)
vegetable oil (we like canola oil best)
1 to 20 friends, depending on the size of your living room
1 Fried Green Tomatoes movie
a few paper towels (to drain tomatoes after frying)
1 box of Kleenex (to drain tears after crying)
 
Slice tomatoes to whatever thickness you like.  Dip each slice into a bowl of flour, then milk, then flour again.  Heat approximately 1/2 inch of oil in skillet and fry tomatoes, turning once when nice and golden.  Drain on paper towels.
Note:  When frying anything, do not crowd the skillet.  You’ll get much better results by making just a few at a time.

 

and here’s my recipe:

Recipe for a Lazy Gardner

I went to my garden today, looking for my supper.
It had been a hard season and I have been neglectful
so I didn’t even bring a basket.
Besides, weeds and mosquitoes would be waiting–
stealing the show, my energy and my time.
 
I found a few surprises, as we often do
in life and in gardens.
My tomatoes, even forgotten, grew.
Beefsteaks–big-shouldered and sweet.
Lovely heirlooms–classy and dependable.
And Roma’s, those saucy little mamas!
 
I smiled, until I saw the busted ones.
No excuses.  Only regrets.  Move on
to what I was really looking for.
The sassy young ones
without spots or bruises,
still smug with secrets of life.
 
Long ago, somebody was brave
or hungry or crazy enough
to throw them in a skillet
and call those tarties’ bluffs!
 
I went back for my basket,
thinking of oozy goodness
all melty under a salty crust
you can only get from frying
after milk and seasoned dust.
 
I’ll get better at tending my garden.
I’ll consider it a social routine,
because tomatoes grow like friendships,
and some kinds just best fried green.
 
–poetgranny
 

 

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