Hillbilly Air Conditioner FAIL

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Living in Georgia, I thought I might be the perfect candidate for a Hillbilly Air Conditioner. We proudly live near the famous Honey Boo Boo.

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And are just a stone’s throw away from this exciting outdoor event….

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When I saw a Hillbilly Air Conditioner on Pinterest, I thought to myself…”Hmmm, we sure could use us some cold refreshin’ air when we “set” out on our porch drinking from mason jars and swattin’ at skeeters.”  So, I went to Publix and got a $3 cooler and I went to Ace Hardware and got a $2 pvc pipe.  I already had a fan.

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First, trace and cut a hole in the top for the pipe.

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Next, cut a hole in the back for the fan.

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Add a block of ice previously frozen in an ice cream tub.

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Next, put ear plugs in to shut out the mockery from your family. In case you can’t tell, this is not a ” great job, mom” face.  This is a “you’re crazy, mom” face.

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Last, enjoy the marginally cool breezes from the Hillbilly Air Conditioner.

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All parts proudly made in America! Ain’t that “sumpin”?!

(Okay, here’s the scoop.   I really did think this might be a great way to make a cheap and portable air cooler for the screened porch or for camping.  HOWEVER, it really didn’t cool all that much more than just the plain fan.  Back to the Hillbilly Drawing Board I guess.)

 

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Chocozinni Muffins

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Using up zucchini in the summer is a gardener’s challenge and these muffins were perfect for the task.  Warning:  they are delicious but probably not very nutritious even with the added zucchini.  I am putting the leftovers in the freezer for a quick breakfast or late night snack.

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Chocozinni Muffins

3 eggs

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups shredded (or grated) zucchini

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon each of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg

 Topping

1 cup brown sugar (not packed firmly)

1 cup milk chocolate chips

1 cup chopped nuts

 

Mix together the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla.  Add the zucchini.  In a separate bowl mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.  Add the dry ingredients to the egg and sugar mixture.  Do not over beat. Scoop batter into 24 muffin cups.  Mix together the brown sugar, chocolate chips and nuts.  Spoon one heaping tablespoon over the top of each muffin.  Bake for 20-25 minutes  or until done.  Serve warm.  Makes 24.

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The Walking Dead Tour

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Are you a fan of The Walking Dead on AMC?  It is the most watched cable show in television history according to my reliable source…Wikipedia!  and we know they are always correct!  It is a seriously popular show and people come from all over the United states to see the locations for the show.walkingdead_020614_1280-610x343

I happen to live with in a few miles of the locations of the show and when Nancy and Dorothy came for a visit we did a driving tour of some of the local sites from The Walking Dead.

We started the tour in Senoia which is the principal shooting locale.  It also houses Raleigh studio where filming takes place.  We ate dinner in Senoia at the Southern Ground Social Club which is a restaurant owned by Zac Brown, a country singer and local resident.

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I ordered a southern favorite, Fried Green Tomato Sandwich.

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Live music started at 8:00.  We were a little too early for that.

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These flowers bloomed from square stems that looked like wheat.  None of knew the name of it.  Anyone else know??

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Nancy got a jump start on the tour the next morning because I had to work, but I will add my photos to the trip.  I don’t have Senoia (pronounced “Sen oy”) photos but I can add them at a later date for those interested.

I do have photos from Griffin and Grantville.  Nancy also went to Newnan.  There are many, many maps of locations for The Walking Dead.  I would link a few here but it would be easier just to Google it -” Walking Dead Location Map.”   There are several great sites that link the location to the episode.  I have not seen all the episodes so maybe Nancy or someone else can chime in and tell us what we are looking at from a Walking Dead point of view.

On the way out of Senoia and on the route to Griffin we passed a local  landmark.  It is Starr’s Mill.  This was used in the movie Sweet Home Alabama. The current mill was built  in 1907 by William T. Glower.  The original mill was built around 1821 by Hananiah Gilcoat when Creek and Cherokee Indians were still living in the area.

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Next stop, was Griffin.  This is now a tannery but the location was used in the show.

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We took some personal sightseeing photos that weren’t in the show.  This antebellum house in Griffin is in perfect condition and we couldn’t resist a picture of this dream home.

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Next, on to Grantville.  It’s a bit of a ghost town now but we did meet a couple from Indiana who were making a detour through Grantville on their own Walking Dead Tour.

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We were told to look in the upstairs window of this blue and white building to see the chalk writing.  Fans will know what I mean.DSCF1688

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This was the three way view from the railroad tracks.

Left…

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Right….

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And, straight ahead…

If I’m reading the history page correctly, the buildings starting from the left used to be a bank, a barber shop, a hotel, and a pharmacy.

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My personal favorite building was on the far left  – the bank.  I don’t think it was featured in the show but it was interesting to photograph.

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Read this next sign from Grantville out loud.  You will smile!

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This next home in Grantville was used in filming.

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A view up the street.

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And the view down the street.  Wish I could be a better tour guide.  I did read that the name of Grantville used to be Calico Corner and Senoia used to be called Willow Dell.  The house at the end of the main business section is called Bonnie Castle and is rumored to be haunted.  It was built in 1896 by Mr. Colley, the owner of the bank.

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And that ends the tour.  Thank you, Nancy for taking me to some new places so near to my home.   And Davis says thanks for the snacks!  We love our Snyder’s and Schearer’s.

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Happy Mother’s Day 2014

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Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there.  My brother and family came over for lunch.  Unfortunately the star of the day had her eyes closed for the picture below, but when you are photographing 7 people someone is going to be sacrificed for the sake of the group, I’m afraid.  When I say “cheese” you better be grinning from ear to ear with your eyes wide open.  There aren’t too many second chances!

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Olivia celebrated her first furry Mother’s Day.  It’s somewhat the same.  They poop, you clean it up.  They give you slobbery mommy kisses.  And, they are expensive.  Pretty much sums up child rearing and pet rearing.

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For lunch we had Swedish Meatballs on noodles, squash casserole, steamed broccoli, three-bean salad, and chocolate strawberry shortcake.  Recipes listed at the end.

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Olivia gave me a great “extra” mother’s day gift.  She mowed the lawn!  Whoo Hoo.  I am not a yard person.

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Davis was busy studying for his exams this week.  Or so he said.  There was a lot of mouse clicking every time I came near.  LOL

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Now, I’ve saved either the best or the boring for last depending upon your love of flower pictures.  My peonies cooperated this year and I was able to use them on our table.  If you are not a flower person, see ya next post.  If you are, then scroll down to see some of my peonies.  I don’t grow many kinds of flowers so I really look forward to when these bloom.  I wish there were smellervision because they smell wonderful!

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Mothers Day

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I’ll finish out with a few recipes from the day.

 

Swedish Meatballs

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup chopped onion

3/4 cup soft breadcrumbs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth

1 1/2 cups half and half

12-ounce package medium noodles (6 cups dry noodles)

Melt butter in a large skillet.  Cook onions until tender.  Add onions, breadcrumbs, milk, salt, pepper, allspice and lightly beaten egg to the meat.  Mix well. Shape into 1 1/2 inch balls.Cook meatballs in a large skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally to ensure even browning.  Remove meatballs from skillet, reserving 2 tablespoons of the drippings in the pan.  Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly until mixture is smooth and bubbly.  Gradually stir in the chicken broth.  Cook until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly.  Stir in half and half; cook an additional 2 minutes.  Add meatballs to sauce and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve meatballs and sauce over hot cooked noodles.

 

Squash Casserole

3 cups cooked and drained squash

1/2 cup chopped Vidalia onion

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup milk

3/4 cup butter,melted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

12 butter crackers,crumbled

Boil the squash and onion until tender.  About 5 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly. In a small bowl mix together mix together the rest of the ingredients except the crackers.  Add the squash and onion and place in a 9 X 13 greased casserole dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Add the crackers and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Three Bean Salad

1 14-ounce can  green beans

1 14-ounce can yellow wax beans

1 14-ounce can kidney beans

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1/2 onion, sliced

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup white vinegar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

salt and pepper

Drain beans.  Mix all ingredients.  Chill several hours or overnight before serving.

 

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup butter, cubed

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups water

Filling:

4 cups siced fresh strawberries

1 pint whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons confectioners sugar

Chocolate Glaze:

3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup confectioners sugar

3 tablespoons water or half & half

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Melt chocolate and butter; stir until smooth.  Cool  Transfer to a large bowl; beat un sugar until blended.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  Combine the flour, baking soda and salt’ gradually add to chocolate mixture alternating with the water. Pour into 24 cupcake papers.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until cake tests done.

In a large bowl, beat the whipping cream until stiff.  Stir in the vanilla.  Add the powdered sugar.

For the glaze,  melt the chocolate with the butter.  Stir until smooth.  Stir in confectioners sugar, water and vanilla until smooth.  Cool slightly.  Assemble the shortcakes by slicing a cupcake in half and fill with whipped cream and strawberries.  Add the top back to the cup cake and add more whipped cream and strawberries.  Drizzle the chocolate glaze over all.

 

 

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Apple Pie

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Last October I froze bags of apples for use during the year. Recently,  I noticed that I hadn’t been using them up very quickly so today was apple pie day.  I originally froze the apples in 6 cup batches with 1/2 cup sugar.  Today, it was easy to pull out the bag, add a few more ingredients, and have a great pie.

To make the crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup solid vegetable shortening

1 teaspoon salt

6-7 tablespoons ice water

Mix together the flour and salt.  Add the shortening and cut with a pastry cutter until particles are pea-sized.  Switch utensils to a fork.  Add in the water a few tablespoons at a time until pastry just holds together.  Let it rest for 10 minutes.

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Use a pastry blade to cut shortening into flour.

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Use a fork to help blend in the water.

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Roll out pastry on a floured surface.  Roll from the middle to the sides to keep the shape round.

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Use a knife or pastry blade to scrape up the dough.  Fold into fourths and place in the pie pan.  I am using a very deep dish pie pan so the dough doesn’t come up as far as it would in a regular sized pie pan.

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Place the apples in the pie pan.  Sprinkle with an additional 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour.  Dot with 3 tablespoons butter.   You can also add cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger….I did not.

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Roll the second pastry out on the floured surface.  Fold it and place it atop the pie.  Normally, I would crimp it decoratively but since I was using the deep dish pie pan and the regular double crust, I don’t have the luxury of a nice overlap to crimp.  I’ll call this rustic.

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Now, don’t skip this next step if you can spare more sugar in your diet.  Sprinkle the top of the pie with water and then sprinkle with sugar.  It will crust over and caramelize brown.

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Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour.

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The crust was flaky and the apples were tender.

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For me, apple pie is easy when you have the apples frozen and ready to go. Saves lots of time and the clean up is easier, too.

 

 

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Running with Scissors

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Literally, running with scissors.

Chupa is a rascally dog.  He is into EVERYTHING!  If you set something down, he will get it.  If you leave something out, he will get it.  If it’s dangerous or messy, he will get it.

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I was placing vinyl lining under my sink today and I set down my scissors.  Next thing I knew Chupa was running with scissors.  If you chase him, he runs faster so you have to pretend you don’t want the scissors and you are just casually offering treats for no reason at all.

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At least he has then by the side!

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He’s a funny one! That’s for sure.

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Another favorite activity of his is to stand on his back legs and sniff the food in the oven. There are vents in the top of the oven door and he loves to stand there and smell the pot roast or other tasty foods inside.

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The Uglies

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Unfortunate name for a delicious cupcake.  You could even serve these as a muffin for a brunch.  I did last week at school.  Since there is no frosting they disguise well as a muffin and taste much better. You already know my aversion to muffins.

This recipe is from our The Cat Who Reunion Cookbook.  In case you are the last person on earth (insert exaggeration)  who doesn’t have a copy of this cookbook, you can still order these babies from Amazon. If you are among the millions (all kidding aside….thousands)  who own the cookbook, it is on page 158.  They are super delicious and easy to make.

The Uglies

1 8-ounce package cream cheese

1 egg

1/3 cup + 1 cup sugar

1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup water

1/2 cup oil

1 tablespoon vinegar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix cream cheese, egg, and 1/3 cups sugar together, stir in chocolate chips.  Set aside.  Mix flour, 1 cup sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt together.  Stir in water, vinegar and vanilla.  Beat well.  Fill  paper-lined cupcake pans 1/3 full of batter.  Top each with 1 heaping teaspoon of cream cheese mixture.  Add a few sliced almonds to top of cream cheese. Bake 25 – 30 minutes. Makes 20 cupcakes.

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Release the Kraken

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Yesterday at Pike’s Nursery in Atlanta we received some free ladybugs for the garden.  Apparently they are as potent as the Kraken in a garden killing pests with their ladylike appetite.

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Who knew?

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The directions said to release the Kraken at dusk at the base of wet plants.  I watered my blueberry bushes with my twirly sprinkler that my brother gave me for my birthday.  Love it. It’s perfect for my small patch of blueberries.

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Notice the deepening shadows of dusk.

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A friend who owns a blueberry farm told me I need at least 6 bushes to get enough blueberries for a family.  I had room for 5 bushes.  I may squeeze in another around the corner.

You can see the blueberries beginning to form.

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Finally, I released a few of the deadly critters on my peonies.  The peonies are my pride and joy when they bloom. It won’t be long.  Usually by Mother’s Day I am able to use the flowers on my table.DSCF1566

 

Here is a flashback from last year. I hope this year will be as good.

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Maybe this year will be even better because they are now protected by the Kraken.

 

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Tomorrow’s Sugar Cookies

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I said I’d post the recipe for sugar cookies “tomorrow” a few days ago but I guess this will have to do.  This is my favorite sugar cookie recipe for many years.  It is best as a cookie cutter recipe rather than just a plain sugar cookie.  I have a recipe I like better for a stand-alone sugar cookie but this is good as a cut-out recipe because the top is smooth when you get done compared to the crinkly top of my other sugar cookie recipe. (Probably a run-on sentence for all you grammar Nazis out there, but when you are talking about cookies, all the rules go out the window.)

Christmas Sugar Cookie Recipe

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 sticks butter

2/3 cup shortening

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2  tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl beat butter and shortening together.  Add sugar and beat until fluffy.  Add eggs, milk, and vanilla; beat well.  Add dry ingredients to sugar mixture and beat till well combined.  Cover and chill 4 hours or overnight.  Working with 1/4 of the dough at a time, roll on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness.  Cut into shapes with cookie cutters.  Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.  Allow to cool.  Frost with butter frosting or glaze.

Butter Frosting

1 1/2 sticks butter

8 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

food coloring

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Here are a few pictures of the process.  I’m adding the flour to the butter mixture. Scrape the sides often.

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The dough is really soft after it’s all the flour is incorporated.  You really do have to refrigerated it if you want to roll it out for a cutter.  If you want to make drop cookies, you can use it right away.

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The frosting I used in the photos is not the same as the recipe given today.  I used a glaze. Basically, the difference is that I melted the butter and milk first and added less powdered sugar.  I did add vanilla at the end.  As the butter and milk cools, the frosting sets into the very yummy puddles of frosting.

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These cookies freeze well, too.  I like to take them for lunch or pull some out for dessert during the week.

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Savory Vegetable Ribolitta with Italian Crostini

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If you have a hankering for cabbage, then this is the soup for you.  (Ha, like anyone has ever hankered for cabbage.) So, to be less specific, if you like tasty soup, then this is the recipe for you.   I wanted to eat this dinner on my screened porch so I dared to clean the pollen off of it.   Murphy’s Law will catch up to me but I do believe most of the yellow pine pollen is gone.

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Each year it is a major event to get this porch back into shape after the onslaught of the yellow pollen invasion.  Every other year I take the furniture out of the screened porch and wash it off.  Fortunately, we did that last year and this is a dust only year.  However, even without washing it did take several hours to get rid of the pollen.

First, I start with a yard blower to get most of it out the door. It’s stubborn, though, and doesn’t really blow off readily.

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Then, I vacuum every inch including floor and cushions to get the rest.

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Tonight we celebrated with a clean screened porch supper of soup, salad and my favorite sugar cookies.

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The soup was surprisingly good for a reluctant vegetable eater.  I think the crostini put it over the top in taste.  Don’t leave that step out!  You can see it in the bottom of the bowl.

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Savory Vegetable Ribolitta

 

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup chopped celery

1/3 cup diced carrot

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small zucchini, diced

1 14-oz can cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained

1 14-oz  can vegetable broth

1 14-oz can diced tomatoes

2 cups chopped Savoy or Napa cabbage (I used Napa)

Thyme, Basil, Italian Seasoning, Salt and Pepper to taste (Don’t go crazy with seasonings because the crostini adds even more seasoning to the soup.)

Crostini Recipe

1/2 loaf Italian bread

1/4 cup olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

3/4 teaspoon Italian Seasoning

 

In a large saucepan over low heat, cook onion, celery, carrot, and garlic in olive oil until tender.  Add the zucchini, beans, broth, tomatoes, cabbage and seasonings. Add 1/4 cup water if more broth is desired. Simmer 20 minutes.  Serve soup over crostini. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.   To make crostini,  slice Italian bread into 1-inch slices.  Mix together the oil, garlic and Italian seasoning. Brush oil mixture onto bread and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly toasted.

Here are a few pics along the way.  First, cook the vegetables in olive oil.

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Add the cabbage, tomato and broth.  I used Napa cabbage.

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Ready to simmer.

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We finished off the meal with a frosted sugar cookie.  Recipe to come tomorrow. I’m going to go now to see what’s left of the fire out on the porch.

 

 

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