A Waterfall of Flowers. The Strawberry Pot Revisited.

It was a couple years back that I tried contatiner gardening with strawberry plants in the cute and trendy terra-cotta pot with holes. Such a cute idea… A tasty idea. It turned out to be a lot of work for at best a dozen juicy berries.

Staring at the now empty expensive pot, I got an idea. I planted flowers in those little cavities. The colorful flowers cascade down like a waterfall of flowers. This is a picture of the flower waterfall decked out for the Fourth of July!

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Macaroni and Cheese, Daddy Style

Ready for melt in your mouth Mac & Cheese? This comes with a little “kick” of course.

My Dad used to make this Macaroni and Cheese for us. It soon became a tradition to burn it a little on the side for that crispy cheesey flavor. Of course, the first time dinner was burned, my Dad 20141108_130252was mortified. Our Mom was out and he was burning the kids dinner. Not wanting him to feel bad, my brother and I told him how much we loved it over his apologies. Good we really did love it as from that point on, it was always just a tad burned.

My family has been making this recipe from at least the 1940’s. The burning version was added in the late 50’s or early 60’s. Once your soul is warmed by Daddy’s Mac & Cheese, you will pass this recipe on in your family for generations just as we have done.  Just can’t get enough. A smile with every bite.

Easy Ingredients

20141108_115005

1 pound sharp (or extra sharp) cheddar cheese                                                                                             Tips: We only use Kraft chunks of cheese for this recipe. Do not use shredded cheese.                        Extra Sharp Cheese has less moisture and will have a slightly affect the casserole

1 pound elbow macaroni                                                                                                                                         Tips:Try other pasta if you want after you first use elbow. There is a slight difference in                   moisture and cook time with other pasta shapes.

2 of 15 oz cans Hunts tomato sauce.                                                                                                                   Tips: We only use Hunts regular for this recipe.

For a little extra “kick” experiment with one of these two items:                                                            A little garlic powder sprinkled on the layers or in the tomato sauce.                                            Grated Parmesan cheese on the top before placed into the oven.

Casserole dish – clear glass works best for the burned sides. For the purpose of pictures, we will use a vintage white glass Corelle dish.

Ii you want to make a smaller amount, cut the ingredients in half using a smaller casserole dish. The pictures show the smaller version.

Easy Instructions

  • Cook elbow macaroni according to the instructions on the box
  • Cut up cheese into small thin squares while macaroni is cooking.
  • lightly rinse elbow macaroni and Drain well20141108_122145

You are now ready to assemble.

  • Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
  • Place half of the elbow macaroni into the casserole dish
  • Cover the layer of plain macaroni with one can of the tomato sauce – spread evenly with a spatula
  • Layer one half of the cut cheese over the macaroni and tomato sauce – right up to the edges.
  • Add the rest of the elbow macaroni evenly
  • Pour the second can of tomato sauce on the top of the cheese – spread this layer evenly with a spatula
  • Layer the remaining half of the cut cheese evenly across the macaroni – right to the edges
  • Bake for 30 minutes in a 450 degree oven

For the cheesy crust on the side, turn off the oven after 30 minutes and let sit in the oven until sufficiently burned on the sides. Yes, the dish may have to soak – but from one who hates scrubbing dishes, this recipe is well worth it!

We traditionally serve with brussel sprouts.

Enjoy for generations!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daddy’s Macaroni & Cheese with a “History” of Sorts

Ready for melt in your mouth Mac & Cheese. With a little “kick” of course.

My Dad used to make this Macaroni and Cheese for us. The tradition is to burn it a little on the side for that crispy cheese flavor. Of course, the first time dinner was burned my Dad was mortified. Our Mom was out and he was burning the kids dinner. Not wanting him to feel bad, my brother and I told him how much we loved it over his apologies. Good we really did love it because from that point on, it was always a little burned.

Macaroni and Cheese – the ultimate Comfort Food! Every season is Mac & Cheese season. Is there anything better than a dish of steaming mac & cheese Daddys with lots of melted sharp cheddar.  Oh, and a little crispy burned cheese on the sides of the casserole dish….   hmmm unbeatably yummy. This dish goes back in my family to at least the 1940’s. Once your soul is warmed by Daddy’s Mac & Cheese, you will pass this recipe on in your family for generations just as we have done.  Just can’t get enough. A smile with every bite.

Ingredients

  1. One pound sharp ( or extra sharp) cheddar cheese (We only use Kraft chunks of cheese for this recipe. Do not use shredded cheese.)Ingredients
  2. One pound elbow macaroni (Try other pasta if you want after you first use elbow. There is a slight difference with other pasta shapes.)
  3. Two of 15 oz cans Hunts tomato sauce. (We only use Hunts for this recipe.)
  4. Casserole dish – clear glass works best for the burned sides. For the purpose of pictures, we will use a vintage white glass Corelle dish.  If you want, cut ingredients in half and use a smaller casserole dish. The pictures show the smaller version.

Instructions

  • Cook elbow macaroni according to the
    Ingredients Readyinstructions on the box
  • Cut  up cheese into small thin squares
    while macaroni is cooking
  • Lightly rinse elbow macaroni and Drain well
  • You are now ready to assemble.

 

  • Place half of the elbow macaroni into the casserole dish
  • Layer one half of the cut cheese over the macaroni – right up to the edges. Fixing
  • Cover the cheese with one can of the tomato sauce – spread evenly with a spatula
  • Add the rest of the elbow macaroni evenly
  • Layer the remaining half of the cut cheese evenly across the macaroni – right to the edges
  • Pour the second can on the top of the cheese – spread this layer evenly with a spatula
  • Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
  • Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven
  • Remove from oven and enjoy every mouthful!                                                                                             

TIPS                                                                                                                                                                       * For the cheesy crust on the side, turn off the oven after 30 minutes and let sit in the oven    until sufficiently burned on the sides. Yes, the dish may have to soak – but from one who    hates scrubbing dishes, this recipe is well worth it!

* A favorite vegetable we serve with it are brussel sprouts. 

Finished  Plated

Making Homemade Yogurt With Kids

       Want a fun and nutritious project with the kids? Or even with Yogurtjust yourself? Making yogurt is both fun and economical. A Yogurt Maker is my preferred method for convenience and consistency. For some fun and experiments with the kids, or to satisfy the mad scientist in you, make yogurt from scratch using unconventional methods.

Items you will need:                                                     

  • 1 Quart Warm Milk
  • 1/2 C Plain Yogurt
  • Meat or Candy Thermometer
  • Bowl, prefer Glass
  • Fine Mesh Strainer
  • Whisk or Spoon
  • Pan – large enough to hold the quart of milk
  • Light Weight Towel for Experiment #1
  • Glass Covered Casserole Dish for Experiment #2, #3 and #4
  • Heating Pad for Experiment #4
  • Small Jars or Glass Casserole for Experiment #4
  • 2-3 Towels for Experiments #1 and #4

Experiment #1  Camping Yogurt                                                                                                                              Out in the woods, camping or just wanting to “rough it” for a bit, make yogurt with a wood burning stove or a range. After cooking dinner, place a bowl or clay crock holding the mixture of one quart of warm milk and 1/2 cup of plain yogurt on the back of the stove over night.                                                                                                                                                                            Keep the container covered with a light weight towel. In morning, your yogurt will be ready.

Experiment #2  Solar Yogurt                                                                                                                                     Here you will see how to use the sun outside to cook yogurt. This is definitely a little different and an energy saver.                                                                                                                              Pick a warm (not extreme heat) sunny day with a location that will be sunny for 5 or 6 hours.Simply place the yogurt and warm milk mixture in a glass casserole dish with the glass lid. Keep the lid on and the bugs out.                                                                                                     Check the consistency  in 4 – 5 hours. Depending on the heat from the sun, it may take a little longer. 

Experiment #3 Baking Yogurt                                                                                                                                  Start this after dinner or before going to bed. After warming your oven to 100 degrees F, put the 1 quart warm milk and 1/2 cup of plain yogurt in a covered casserole or baking dish. Glass is preferred to prevent any possible metal taste.                                                                               Leave the casserole in the oven, turned off, over night. In the morning, you will have fresh yogurt.

Experiment #4  Heating Pad Yogurt                                                                                                                       The kids may enjoy this. After the warm milk and yogurt mixture is poured into a large glass container or several small glass containers, wrap them up in an electric heating pad. Use towels to then wrap all to keep int he warmth and keep the heating pad in place.                  Set the heating pad to medium heat for 5-6 hours. Test the texture and enjoy!

Finishing Touches                                                                                                                                                       Add fruit, nuts or oatmeal for a healthy breakfast, snack or dessert.

TIPS

  1. To prepare milk, warm the milk to 100-110 degrees F in the pan. Use a meat or candy thermometer to check the temp.
  2. Mix the mixture using a wisk.

 

Easy & Yummy Beef Stew

This is a great recipe for your pressure cooker for a quick dinner. You can also slow cook this recipe in a crock pot or on the stove top. Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 Lbs of Beef Stew cubed meat or Round Steak (cubed yourself)
  • 2 Small Cans Hunt’s tomato sauce – plain
  • 1 Can Peas, drained
  • 5 – 6 Potatoes, pealed and cut up
  • 1 Bunch carrots, peeled and cut up
  • 2 Medium size Onions peeled & cut up
  • Butter

Cooking with Pressure Cooker                                                                                                                Brown meat in pressure cooker without top. Add other ingredients except peas. Cover and set pressure cooker according to the instructions. My mom used 15 minutes at 15 pounds for the old style pressure cooker. After done, Add peas and warm stew. Serve with butter on the side for the potatoes.

Cooking with Slow Cooker                                                                                                                        Follow recipe as above. Please check the instructions for your slow cooker. The goal of using a slow cooker or pressure cooker is to cook and tenderize the meat.  Once the stew is cooked, then add peas and heat. Serve with butter on the side for the potatoes.

Cooking On the Stove Top                                                                                                                                    Put all ingredients except peas in a large heavy pot. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to medium/low for approximately 4 hours. Stir every 30 minutes. Once the meat is tender, (before or after the 4 hours) add the peas and heat. Serve with butter on the side for the potatoes.

 

Measuring Your Windows for New Curtains or Drapes

As the icing on a cake, make your room appealing with great fitting window treatments. It is not as hard as your may think. Just remember what my Grandfather Baba always said, “Measure twice, cut and drill once”

Windows

A few things are needed for this project.

  • Tape measurer (not a ruler or yardstick)
  • Pencil or if not a pencil, then a pen
  • Paper

Which style for your windows. The most difficult part of this endeavor is choosing the style of your new windows treatments.

After making the choice, determine how the curtains/drapes will hang and where the hardware will be mounted. Before opening the package, check if the hardware/brackets will fit.  Is the window too close to the corner or another window? Are the window frames deep enough? Check with the Manufacturer or your local homes stores to make sure you have enough clearance if in doubt.

An Outside Mount:  Using an outside the window frame mount, start with the width and measure from the outside of the left window frame to the outside of the right window frame. Then measure the top of the window frame to the bottom of the apron, the floor or the spot you would like the fabric to hit.

An Inside Mount:  Using an inside mount, measure the width and the height from the inside of the window as explained above for the outside mount.

Pleated curtains or drapes can be tricky. If this is the first time you have worked with this style of window covering, speak to your designer, home or fabric store. Ask them how to work with the pleat depth factor. Additional inches may need to be added depending on the depth of the pleats.

Tabs and loops need to be mounted so as neither the window or the frame will be peaking through the spaces between the tabs or loops. Check the length of the tabs/loops and add the inches needed to the length measurement and the location of your hardware.

Adding a valance: The valance should not be longer than 1/3 of the window itself, even if the curtains/drapes are longer than the window.

TIPS

  • Check if the new curtain or drapes will be hemmed when you purchase them. You may need to add inches when ordering or shopping.
  • Remember Grandpa Baba’s advice: Measure twice. Cut and drill once.

 

 

Avoiding the Internet Lock-Out or Password Scream

What was that password? Which one did I use? Oh, that one needed eight letters and a number. The first letter was in caps, I think. Is that the password I wrote on the bill? Ohhhh, did I use one of my emails for the user name? Too many errors. Screeeeam! Sound familiar?

Stop the password scream with a small address book. ist2_1474694-making-notesStash your user names and passwords alphabetically. Use a pencil for when you make changes to the email, user name or password in the future.

Easy access to the book for up-dating is key to keeping this book of information up-to-date. It is easy to think the new password can be added later. Don’t fool yourself! Add it right away or you will again do the Password Scream! Keep the password book close to your computer and work area.

May this little book make your Internet cruising smoother.