Mushroom soup

1/4 c butter
1/4 c flour
2 c chicken broth
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 to 2 bay leaves
2/3 c finely chopped celery
1/4 c finely chopped onion
3 T cooking oil
4 to 5 c sliced fresh mushrooms (about 1 pound)
2/3 half-and-half or milk

Melt butter in a 2 qt saucepan. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in broth. Add salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally. In another saucepan, saute the celery and onion in oil until tender. Add mushrooms, cook until tender. Add this to broth mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 15 minutes, siring occasionally. Add cream and heat through. Discard bay leaves. Serves 4.

February is a great time for mushroom soup! I clipped this recipe from a magazine in the 1990’s. Attributed to Elsie Cathrea of Elmira, Ontario.

Oatmeal spice cake

Roll the presses! I made food! This recipe is made from a combination of two different cakes recipes.

1 c rolled oats
1.25 c boiling water
0.25 c butter
0.5 c white sugar*
0.5 c packed brown sugar*
2 eggs
3 T plain or vanilla yogurt
1.5 c flour
0.5 t nutmeg
0.5 t cinnamon
0.5 t allspice
0.25 t ground cloves
1 t baking soda
0.5 t salt

In a small bowl, stir oats into boiling water. Set aside to soak.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray oil on the bottom and sides of an 8×8 inch baking pan.
In a medium bowl, cream together the white sugar, brown sugar and butter until smooth. Beat in the eggs and yogurt. Combine flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, baking soda, and, salt. Add these dry ingredients to the egg mixture stir just until moistened. Mix in the soaked oats. Pour into the prepared pan, and spread evenly.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

* The recipe that I began with called for 1 cup of each type of sugar. This was too sweet. One-half cup of each produces a good cake. Adding three-quarters white sugar will make the cake sweeter and may improve the cake structure (it is a little dense).

The spices are good in this cake. I may try it again with 50% more nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves.

I recently tried this Cauliflower Rice Stuffing and found it to be good and not as different from other dressings as I would have guessed. The mushrooms tie everything together and I would likely skip this recipe if I didn’t like mushrooms. Two heads of cauliflower is a lot of cauliflower, but there were a reasonable amount of leftovers when I made it for just George and myself. I would make this recipe again, perhaps with the additions of grated carrot and dried cranberries.

Car camping

tent, fly, stakes
tarp/ground cloth
cot
sleeping bag
flat sheet
pillow
duct tape
camp chairs
wood camp stool
cook kit

utensils, spatula, can opener
knife
water bottles
dish soap, dish rag, dish cloth, dish pan
hot pads
cutting board
coffee pot

milk can
cast iron pan
dutch oven and lifter
matches, lighter
stove and fuel
grill
axe and Sierra saw
shovel
tp
cooler
water cooler
flashlight, headlamp
bug dope
day pack
clothes line and pins
wet wipes
paper towel

canoe
paddles
PFDs
anchor

No wonder that the truck is full when we’re ready to go!

Practice

It’s been a long time since I’ve tried to sew clothing from scratch. With clothing so inexpensive at thrift stores, there is really no reason to, except I’m picky about the color, texture, and fit of my clothes. (Not that you’d know that by looking at me!)

Photo of pattern and shirt front

Pattern and shirt front

So I gave it a whirl, or at least part of a whirl, and the shirt ended up being too big. As I sewed, I felt that the shirt would be too small. Almost the next moment, it would grow to a huge size and then back to my UW-Platteville size.

The placket went together perfectly. Well, almost. There were no puckers and the top stitching was top notch! Somehow I made it one placket width off center though. Oh well, it is a busy print, and the front is pleated. (Another note to self: vertical pleats are not good for me.) Then I went on to put the collar on. It was too small, either from the same error that caused the placket problem, poor cutting, or both. I was about to make a new collar and put it on (because this would be the right time to do so; easier than doing it with sleeves and sides seams in place) but then the size kept growing and shrinking in front of me. I added the sleeves and side seams (no puckers or gaps, thank you very much) and tried the shirt on. It’s at least a size too big. I guess that is better than a tiny shirt, but only for my ego. I’m done with this shirt.

I’m not too discouraged, but my next projects will be adapting a couple of pairs of pants from the thrift store. I should try this shirt thing again before another 25 years pass and I don’t remember my mistakes. Just in case I don’t get back to it before my memory fails me, I’ve made a few notes for myself below.

Next time I will compare the measurements on a shirt that fits me well to the pattern before cutting it out. My body measurements did match the XL size on the B6099 Butterick pattern, but the shirt didn’t fit me. I was careful with the seam allowances.

Body measurements chart in pattern

Photo of back of pattern envelope

Note the Easy designation. Read the directions carefully anyway. It may help get the placket on center!

The button hole feature on the sewing machine is easy. Make sure the button is in the presser foot however, or you will end up with one really big button hole. (The busy fabric will disguise this.)

Pat’s Thanksgiving dressing (almost)

Four generations of my family gather for Thanksgiving annually. (The group is big enough to warrant the rental of a local church hall. This provides a little room to move around and two sinks for dish washing.) This year I joined another limb on my family tree to celebrate with. It also was good company and food, including the dressing, but it wasn’t Aunt Patty’s dressing. Today I’m making Pat’s dressing to make up for not having it on Thanksgiving weekend.

Slow cooker with stains that indicate use

Slow cooker with stains that indicate use

1 c butter

2 c chopped onion

2 c chopped celery

1/4 c parsley sprigs

16 oz sliced mushrooms

12-13 c slightly dry bread cubes

1 t poultry seasoning

1.5 t salt

1.5 t sage

1 t dried thyme

0.5 t pepper

0.5 t marjoram (optional)

2.5 – 3.5 c chicken or turkey stock

2 well beaten eggs

Melt butter in a skillet. Saute onion, celery, parsley, and mushrooms. Pour over bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Add seasonings and toss well. Pour in enough broth to moisten. Add eggs and mix well. Pack lightly into slow cooker. Cover and set to high for 45 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook for 4-8 hours.

My changes: I used butter rather than the oleo called for at the time it was written. Since I love mushrooms, I used sliced fresh ones rather than two eight-once cans of mushrooms, drained. The amount of liquid from the sauteed mushrooms reduced the stock required by one cup. Here’s the original recipe, as saved by my mom.

I use a 3 quart slow cooker. I’ve tried using whole wheat bread in this recipe and have found that it has a bitter flavor that I don’t care for.

Pat's dressing recipe

I must be in a cooking mood, because I’m also making spicy lentil and sweet potato stew. Either that, or I’m avoiding cleaning. The stew looks a little funky because I’m using purple carrots. They are fresh though, probably the only ones I’ve dug from the garden on December 6.

What to pack when visiting a turtle

I’m excited to return to Wassaw Island National Wildlife Refuge with Caretta Reseach Project in July 2015!

The first step has been interviewing people about their recommendations about keeping cool on a Georgia coastal island in July. Maybe I should tell you WHY ON EARTH anyone would visit in July! If nature follows her pattern, loggerhead sea turtles should be both laying nests (the huge mature females) and hatching (the cute-beyond-belief emerging turtles, judging by photographs). Based on my interviews, staying cool will not be possible. Since we will be working at night based on the turtle’s preferences, I’ll be trying to sleep during the day in a cabin without electricity and away from any breeze that can be found on the beach. The cold shower does sound very appealing! I do like Mom’s recommendation to stay cool best: take a canoe, canopy, and anchor and sleep out on the water. If you know something about staying cool that my interviewees thus far have overlooked, please let me know!

All gear should fit in one large duffel bag and one small backpack. If duffel and backpack are not water resistant, put all items inside a large plastic bag inside the duffel and backpack for transfer to the island.

Sleeping

1 set twin sheets with pillowcase
PJs
earplugs (all volunteers sleep in a small cabin together and I snore)

Clothing

2 shorts
2 long pants
t-shirts
long-sleeve shirt
swimsuit and swim shirt
sweatshirt
windbreaker/rain jacket (poncho not recommended)
hat with visor or brim
hat with mosquito net?
lots of socks
underwear
walking shoes for beach (may encounter cactus and spines)
flip flops for cabin time

Sundries

2 towels
washcloth
medicines
sunscreen lotion
lip balm
toiletries
small first aid kit (band aids and mole skin)
mosquito dope
anti-itch cream
powder (back on the hot and humid theme)

Tools

wristwatch for night use
water bottles (one to use and one to chill)
small flashlight/headlamp (one with a red light/filter is great)
spare batteries
battery operated fan
A Georgia Native Plant Guide
paperback books
binoculars
camera, charger, and waterproof bag
cell phone and charger
earbuds
bandanas

Also pack clothes for return to civilization in a small bag to be left in the rental car. You will be happy to have them!

Czech it out

I’m researching the Czech Republic and using bad puns. [Have you read that China has banned puns?]

I’ve found Czech Republic: Recommended Books and Movies by Rick Steves and Honza Vihan useful.

The Twelve Little Cakes by Dominkika Dery

The Twelve Little Cakes by Dominkika Dery

I gulped down The Twelve Little Cakes by Dominika Dery. Dery’s telling of her father putting the secret police to work restoring the yard after a flood in the chapter “The Little Coffin” is wonderful. This recommendation came from ‘Czech Republic: Recommended Books and Movies’.

Another memoir, Under a Cruel Star: A Life in Prague 1941-1968 by Heda Kovly speaks of Nazi horrors and communist mistrust. This recommendation came from ‘Czech Republic: Recommended Books and Movies’.

References

‘Czech Republic: Recommended Books and Movies’. Czech Republic: Recommended Books and Movies | ricksteves.com, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2014. <http://www.ricksteves.com/europe/czech-republic/books-movies&gt;.