Hollyhock. Different than what I was used to growing up - but it's still pretty. : )
Well.....hello!!!! Glad you are here for Part 2 of my June newsletter. : ) I've been busy writing things down and I'm excited to share them with you.
We had such beautiful weather at the beginning of the week, but it turned hot and humid again. Only for a couple of days though from what they are telling us. We usually have a lush, green lawn - not this year. In some spots it is burned to a crisp. We just can't keep up. It's important right now to keep all the plantings alive so that is where our emphasis on watering goes.
*Last time I had mentioned the three decorating styles (along with homemaking styles) I tend to be - Farmhouse, Cottage, and Cabin. I, again, wrote a few more things down in regards to this while cleaning the house. I feel we should show our style and what to bring into the home - what we like and how that reflects our families. In our home:
The farmhouse style means that I have a few signs around, I display old photos, old oil lamps and candles, homemade things, old recipes and books, cookies in the cookie jar, old bowls, and I often have coffee brewing.........
The cottage style means that I have some artwork, pretty tea cups, flowers and lots of green plants, lace doilies, embroidered tablecloths, and pretty magazines for inspiration........
The cabin style means that we display our hobbies such as oil paints, picture puzzles that are framed and hung up around the house, photography, games are out, rocks are displayed, books to pick up and read, a globe to look certain countries up, binoculars and nature books........
You wouldn't think that these different decorating styles would work together, but they do and they tell the story of who we are and what we like. It's important to decorate your home for YOUR family, not someone else's. : )
*Now that we're into the summer months, it can be hard to keep the kids occupied, so I have a few more ideas that we did when our son was young. I can honestly say that I don't remember him ever being bored. He had a wide variety of interests and we just kept building on those.
- the first thing is to ALWAYS have books to read - classic kids books that are morally sound, adventure books (especially for the boys!), books on different kinds of hobbies that they can try, books for information such as nature to get them outside or how to build things or how things work. Read, read, read.
- games are great - play with them or have them invite friends over or let them try to make up their own games!
- buy them a journal or just a plain notebook that they can turn into a journal. Encourage them to write in it every evening as to what they did during the day.
- if they want or have a hobby, don't hesitate to buy them what they need for it. Yes, over the years you will have spent a bit of money on this, but this is SO important! They are no different than we in that we sometimes have to try several things before we find something that we really enjoy doing but it's so worth it when they do. What they love as a hobby now, will stay with them until they are old. There might be a few years where it looks like they have set it aside because, even for them, life happens. But when they think they finally have the time again, that hobby will come back. We have seen that happen to our son and his wife.
- go places - visit state parks and trails, go to museums, go to art galleries, go to antique stores, go biking, go on picnics........just go! : )
I know I didn't say anything about sports and the summer can be consumed by sports. We weren't a sports family. Our son never showed an interest and we didn't push it and I'm glad we didn't. After high school he earned a degree in health and fitness and he, himself, is very strong and fit. So, even though he wasn't an athlete, he always took care of himself and then helped others in that as well. We need to let them find their own way, not what we would want for them. I see too many parents who live vicariously through their kids and put a lot of stress on them. If, however, your child really has a desire to play a certain sport, and it's his/her idea - that's different. Let them find out if it's really what they want. Sometimes it isn't and they just don't want to do it anymore and that's okay too! : )
*Now, onto a bit of food and recipes. I must admit that when the weather is hot, or even beautiful and I just want to be outside, my desire for cooking wanes a bit, but we gotta eat so...............
We have been enjoying the summer foods, especially the watermelon! We have it every day and it's SO good for you. For lunch today, we had BLT's (bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches), watermelon slices, and homemade strawberry/rhubarb pie - such a classic summer meal. It tasted great. I think it's fun to get the most out of summer with all those foods that we crave in the middle of winter.
I have two rhubarb pies to share with you - a rhubarb custard pie and then the strawberry/rhubarb pie that I just mentioned. Totally different but totally yummy. My little patch of rhubarb shriveled up, so I had to resort to buying it at our local co-op which is a little spendy but I bought enough for the two pies and then quite a bit to freeze so that maybe in the fall or even winter we can have a taste of summer again! I grew up with rhubarb. My husband and I both agree that we didn't exactly like the pies that our mom's baked so I have always been determined to make one (or two, in this case) that defies our not liking it. I may have shared the rhubarb custard pie in the past, but wanted to share it again in case you're interested. ; )
RHUBARB CUSTARD PIE(above)
1, 9" unbaked pie shell
Pie filling - 1 1/4 cups sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, 3 Tbsp. flour, 2 beaten eggs, 4 cups chopped rhubarb
Topping - 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup butter (chilled and cut into small pieces), pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir the dry ingredients together and then stir in the beaten eggs, then add the chopped rhubarb and mix well. Pour into the unbaked pie shell. Mix together the topping ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle this over the rhubarb filling. Bake for one hour and let cool completely before serving. Putting it into the fridge after cooling really helps the filling to set up.
Enjoy! : )
STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE (above)
1, 9" unbaked pie shell
Pie filling - 3 cups sliced rhubarb, 2 1/2 cups chopped strawberries, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup packed brown sugar, 3 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Topping - 1 1/4 cups flour, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup chilled and cubed butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all pie filling ingredients together and pour into unbaked pie shell. Mix the topping ingredients together and sprinkle over filling. Bake for 50-55 minutes and, again, let cool completely (then refrigerate it) before serving. REALLY good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!!!!
As you can see, the two recipes are very similar but the results are very different. We were VERY happy. : )
In my cooking over the years, there are certain things that I've always stretched myself with - especially the basics. I'm not a natural cook - in fact, cooking sometimes can be a real pain for me because I would much rather be doing something else!!! But food is important in a home and we all enjoy food that tastes good. We don't want it to just satisfy our empty tummies. It's so much more than that. Sitting down to a plate of good food goes far beyond that. So, like it or not, I'm the one who does it and I'm determined to keep learning and find those tried and true recipes that we now call comfort food.
There are things that I want to perfect. Things like the perfect pie crust, the perfect loaf of bread, the best fried chicken, the best roast chicken, a wonderful pot roast.........and I really don't stop until I find that recipe! Since I'm not a natural at cooking, I'm that person who NEEDS a recipe to follow. I don't have it all in my head and I don't "add a little of this and a little of that". It's just the way I am. I'm that way with sewing or crafting (or anything else). I have to have directions. Anyway.........
I found such a great slow cooker whole chicken recipe that I will count on from now on. This will take a permanent place in my recipe box. I can't believe that I didn't take a picture of it though!!!! It looked SO good when it was topped with all the good seasonings. It tastes exactly like a rotisserie chicken and couldn't be easier. Here it is:
ROTISSERIE-STYLE SLOW COOKER CHICKEN
5 lb. whole chicken (remove the neck and giblets)
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. paprika
Spray a slow cooker large enough to hold your chicken. Crumple up some pieces of aluminum foil for the bottom of the slow cooker (this keeps the chicken from sitting in the liquid during cooking). Place the chicken in the slow cooker.
Mix all the rub ingredients together and rub the spice mixture all over the chicken. Cover and cook on High for 4 hours or until the thermometer registers 165 degrees or higher.
Slice and serve. I hope you give it a try!!!
*What I did with this was make it on Saturday, sliced it, put it into a baking dish, poured the juices over it and popped it into the fridge. On Sunday after church all I had to do was bake it in a 350-degree oven for about an hour while preparing the sides to go with it. Easy peasy. Perfect Sunday meal.
*Then, of course, I saved the leftover meat and bones and made a terrific Chicken soup/broth.
I think we've all heard of shrimp boils and around here we love our seafood so I noticed one day that I had everything to prepare it with. Here is a photo and the recipe I used:
Shrimp boils are usually in a huge pot on top of the stove, but this one is on a sheet pan in the oven. The corn is usually cut up into chunks because this is the type of meal that serves a crowd, but since it was just my husband and I, I knew we would eat a whole corn cob anyway so I just left it whole.
SHEET PAN SHRIMP BOIL
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a large sheet pan and set aside.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook 1 lb. baby yellow potatoes till just tender (about 10-15 minutes). Stir in however many ears of corn you want during the last 5 minutes of cooking time; drain well.
In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup melted butter 4 cloves of minced garlic, and 1 Tbsp. Old Bay seasoning. Place the potatoes, corn, 1 1b. medium shrimp (peeled and deveined), and 1, 12 oz. pkg. sausage ring, thinly sliced in a single layer in pan. Stir in butter/seasoning mixture and toss gently to combine.
Place in oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or till shrimp are opaque and corn is tender.
*Again, this is a fun crowd-pleasing meal. Served with French bread and a salad - it's wonderful.
In our family we have a few things coming up leading to the 4th of July:
On Monday the 28th, our son has his birthday - here is what he has requested:
Fried chicken (which we will pick up at the deli)
My potato salad (it does my heart good when someone requests something that I make!) : )
Variety of pickles and olives
Vanilla cake with buttercream icing (I'm making individual Bundt cakes so he can have his own to blow the candles out!)
Variety of sodas
On Saturday, July 3rd, it's my birthday - and here is what I'll be having/making:
Grilled hot dogs with the fixins'
Variety of chips
Blueberry and Cherry pie
Variety of sodas
Ever since I can remember, we also use my birthday as our family 4th of July gathering.
On Sunday, July 4th - we'll just see what comes up - but I know one thing for sure, we'll be eating leftovers!!!!!! : )
I've already made the Sloppy Joe mix and have it in the freezer. It's our favorite and I'll share it with you too:
2 Tbsp. butter
2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 large onion, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dry mustard
Worcestershire sauce to taste
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Add butter to large pan over medium heat. Add ground beef and cook till brown. Drain. Add onions, green pepper, and garlic and cook for a few minutes until vegetables begin to soften. Add ketchup, brown sugar, chili powder, dry mustard, and water. Stir to combine and simmer for 15 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Add tomato paste, Worcestershire and taste to adjust seasonings.
Serve over buns and top with a slice of cheese if desired. YUM. : )
I think that's about it for food! What are YOU serving up for the 4th?
For my birthday gift wish list it has nothing but books on it because I truly enjoy summer reading. I am now reading:
I can't believe I haven't read this book yet, but I'm so glad that I'm starting. Already a lot of underlining and hopefully can share some things with you too.
And then I can't believe I haven't read this yet either. Again, really liking it and more underlining.
I hope you, too, are continuing to learn whether it be in your housekeeping, your cooking, your baking, your reading..........it's so important to learn new things. If you have children or grandchildren, it's a wonderful thing for them to see you learning and being interested in all kinds of things.
Before I end this post, I will share some other photos that I've been taking lately:
Begonia under the apple tree.
Our new batch of little turkeys.
Beginning to make more cards.
Our back yard bird area.
Well, I think I had better let you go and for me to get going!!!! Thank you SO much for your visit - I appreciate all of you and I hope you got a little inspiration. Please remember to keep on praying for our country. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be praying about certain things as I do now. How in the world did we get to this point? But, having said that, God DOES hear our prayers and is totally able to help us in our times of trouble. So, I encourage you in your prayer life as well. Let's all be diligent.
I'll probably drop by on the 4th of July for a moment but until then.......God bless you and your families and God bless you in your homemaking! Bye for now.