Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Halloween, My Pretties!

I love the whole trick or treating thing for the way I get a chance to meet my neighbors.  Here in my little Texas suburb, we're tucked away from the rest of the world.  The children and teens who come through here are local.  My husband and I both dress up... well, he (always!) wears his "Steve Martin" arrow through his head "costume" (the 70's were very good to him) and I try something witchy.  I have enjoyed watching the children grow up and learning what's "hot" in Halloween fashion every year.  Trick or treating ends when we turn off the lights, which happily coincides with running out of candy.

I picked up this cute hat Etsy shopping.  What?  You don't know about Etsy?  I don't know everything there is to know, but I've purchased from four different buyers and they've all been wonderful.  I have "saved" my name JOY & COMFORT just in case I find something I can create and sell... still looking for that little miracle.  Here's my Etsy adventures (no, I'm not being compensated, I was just very impressed with these 'shops').

My first a photo from Robin at INSTANT fine art and photography

My book from Vintage Spoken Here

My hat from ChineseArithmetic

My favorite shop is Diane's Yonks

My next one..... who knows?


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bad Spellers of the World Untie

I am not the world's greatest speller trouble is I usually spot other folks mistakes much easier than I see my own.

Why is that?  I don't see my faults, but just let me walk through a shop or read a letter and poor spelling just jumps out at me.

Does anyone else have this problem?


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Let Them Eat Pie

Finally!  My moon flowers are starting to bloom.  I guess after a long, hot summer maybe plants enjoy a bit of cooler weather, too.  I was out in the dark garden a couple of nights ago and saw this beauty, which I would have missed if sunset had been any later.

It is in the cooler weather that I enjoy cooking things in the oven.  The fragrance of pies, cakes, cookies, stews, roasts, even a simple baked potato (yes, they are better in the oven than the microwave) - the list goes on and on and each in its own way makes the house smell wonderful.

When I wrote the post about my apple pie, several folks told me that they just couldn't make pie crust.  All I can tell you is keep trying, really, it's that easy (hopefully you can still eat your mistakes).  But it's one of those cooking lessons that usually works once you get the hang of it.  The recipe I use was given to me long ago and far away, and I have used and trusted and played with it for years.  Many thanks to my Charlotte, North Carolina friend, Bertie, (circa 1979), she was kind to me when I was the new kid in town and for that she will always hold a special place in my memories.

"Easy" Pie Crust:

For a bottom crust (double recipe for top & bottom)

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening (a butter and lard mix works best)
Ice cold water

Sift flour and salt. 

Blend in shortening until there is no loose flour left in bowl. 

Add 3 tablespoons of cold water, mix until water is absorbed.

You may need to add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of water, add each spoonful slowly, mixing well after each. (I usually add 5 tablespoons.) 

Handle the dough as little as possible. 

Place ball of dough on floured surface.  I work with a piece of freezer paper under everything and then roll out the dough on the freezer paper - makes for an easy clean up.

Roll. (Sprinkle flour on your rolling pin to keep the dough from sticking to it.) 

Place in 8 or 9 inch pie pan. 

 Follow directions with pie recipe on cooking the crust.  Usually with cream pies you cook the crust first, and with all others you cook the crust as the pie cooks.

The pears were bought three days ago, I wanted to make sure they were ripe.  Peeled, sliced, and covered with a three tablespoons of sugar, a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, and a few dashes of ground ginger and cinnamon.  I was going to try fresh ginger but forgot to buy some, so I just went with the powdered spice.  These waited patiently for me in the bowl while I made the crust. 

Before dumping the fruit into the crust I added:

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

(It was about here that I remembered to preheat the oven - so I turned on the oven about 5 minutes before I put the pie in (I'm telling you this so you can see that even if you don't do everything 'perfect' you can still make a pretty good pie).  When I remember, I like to preheat the oven for about 15 minutes.)

I mixed all this up and poured into the pie crust, then I took a heaping tablespoon of butter and dabbed it across the top of all this.

I only made 'one' pie crust, rolled it thin, and then pulled the edges up. Somewhere I've seen this called 'rustic.' I like that. I'm using all the dough and this is an easy finish. 

I sprinkled a little sugar and cinnamon on the top.  Then popped it in the oven - 425F for 40 minutes.  After 40 minutes it was bubbly on top with just a little brown on the edges... Perfect.

I took it out of the oven to cool.  After dinner, Mr. J&C and I each enjoyed a slice with a little vanilla ice cream.

We didn't eat it all.  I have plans to have some with my breakfast coffee.. and maybe with my afternoon tea....


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Friends and Neighbors

"It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them."             Ralph Waldo Emerson

Good friends are one of the best things about being human.  Those friends you can talk to once in a blue moon and it's like you've never had a break in the conversation.  Friends who hold you when you cry and don't remind you how bad you look when your eyes are all red and puffy.  Friends who signal you to get the parsley off your front tooth or remind you to check your zipper - they are priceless.  Aren't those friends who gently hand us a breath mint or even a fuzzy cough drop wonderful on days when we don't notice our breath is less than beautiful?

My friend and neighbor, Patti, was kind enough to suggest (in her own sweet, non judgemental way) that I might want to put curtains on my front door.

We (Mr. J&C and I) were so happy to get rid of the double front doors that were here when we moved in.  On cold, windy nights, I could stand in front of those closed front doors and feel the breeze.  We found this Texas Star pattern at Lowes and added the sidelights to fill in the space the second door had occupied. 

The light coming into the house is so wonderful.  Before the change out it was like standing in a closet, once the new door was in, sunlight flooded the room.  The door is on the north side of the house so the extra sunlight adds light but not heat, it is just a thing of beauty. 

Being neighbors, Patti and I enjoy discussing the comings and goings of the neighborhood.  As Jane Austen so cleverly put it, "For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors and laugh at them in our turn?"  Who knows what the neighbors really get up to, but it is fun to speculate.  Rumor has it there's a sweet little lady with a telescope in her front window and she lives on my street.  Patti pointed out to me that if she had a similar door, she would have curtains.  I can see her point.  If the lights are on anyone and everyone can see into our house.  So, I've been pricing curtain rods and curtains.  I'll put up curtains but I'm going for the lacy ones - I love the light and don't want to get rid of that, I'm just looking for a bit more privacy.

I hope Patti is not suggesting curtains because one day she dropped by and saw more than she planned to see...  But then she's my friend, she can be discreet and I trust that no one else knows what goes on at our house... Then again, maybe it is something that Patti does in her own home that has her worried for me?  Hey! We're old friends, I will keep her secrets. We're also neighbors, so naturally I'm wondering what she's been up to...