Monday, December 24, 2007

New fingerless glove pattern

I just spent 2 days trying to knit the old pattern that I posted in Oct.
I tried it on dpns and ended up frogging it - several times.

Then I got to the last stitch on my circular needles (I use my circulars for flat knitting. I have better control with them), pulled the loop through and before cinching it down, decided to try on the glove to see how it fit. To say it didn't would be an understatement!

So....I frogged it back to bare yarn and started over. Tried to use the dpns again and again I frogged it. So after about 6 times of frogging this same blasted yarn, I went to my circulars, but changed size and knit the thing flat and then sewed up the seam. As I went, I changed the pattern so that it didn't end up with a huge bulge at the wrist. This new pattern is fitted and I liked how it turned out. Now if I can just get the second one done in time for Christmas - it's a present for someone and so I have a deadline. I've got the ribbing done on #2 and just started the glove itself, but since it's 2am, I'm going to go to bed. Well....after I finish this blog.

Here's the new pattern by yours truly:

Fingerless Gloves

Materals: approx. 2.5 oz worsted weight yarn - I used the Wallyworld $2 skein of acrylic - the big one and have enough to do several more pairs. Actually, this is left over from the slipper/socks that I flat knitted for my son for Christmas and still will have enough for a pair of these gloves.

Size 2 or 3 dpn or flat knitting is your choice. If you're not good at using dpns, do yourself a favor and knit it flat.

(The first time I did this pattern, I used size 5 and it turned out ok. I did decrease some stitches around where the ribbing and glove meet - to get rid of some of the bulk, but I do like the new pattern better.)

Gauge: I need to check this in daylight. The yarn is black and with my lighting, it's hard to count. Best I can see right now is 6 stitches to an inch and 9 rows to an inch. I think the gauge will change. For some reason, probably trying to learn to use dpns, my stitching was SO tight it was miserable to knit. With the second glove, I've loosened the stitching and it's going much better. I will measure both pieces when the sun comes up and get back to you. I'll also put "Edited" on the title so you know I've changed or confirmed the gauge.

Needle for finishing.

Cast on:

I used a size 2 needle and casted on 36 (and added 8 stitches at start of glove – after ribbing is done this shapes it to the hand so side isn't puckered or sticking out.)

Work in K1, P1 for 3" to 5" I do 5" because I like a longer cuff.

Begin glove:

Row 1 : K4, M1, K8, M1, K8, M1, K8, M1, K4 (To M1 (make 1) I knit the stitch like I would normally, then pulling the stitch up so it's a larger stitch than normal, I twist the needle so that it makes the yarn tight on the needle, then go back into the stitch I just used and reknit the stitch so that you've got two stitches from one knit stitch. The two stitches will look like a v with the needle going through the top of the v. Each leg of the v is a new stitch, the bottom of the v is from the row that is on the needle.

Row 2 : Purl

Row 3: K6, M1, K8, M1, K8, M1, K8, M1, K6

Row 4: Purl

Row 5: Knit

Row 6: Purl

Row 7: Knit (Optional - if you need more room before starting thumb gusset, which I do.)

Row 8: Purl (Optional - if you did a row 7, you need to do this as a purl row)

Row 7[9]: Knit 14/17/18/21 stitches. Place marker, K 2, Place Marker, Knit to end (If you used the optional two rows, then the bracketed number is the row you're on.)

Row 8[10]: Purl

Row 9[11]: K across to markers slip marker, Increase in each of the two stitches (4 stitches), slip marker, knit across.

Row 10 [12], Purl

Row 11 [13]: Knit to marker, slip marker, inc in first stitch, k in following stitches, inc in last stitch (6 stitches), knit across .

Row 12 [14]: Purl

Row 13 [15]: Knit to marker, slip marker, inc in first stitch, k in following stitches, inc in last stitch (8 stitches), knit across

Row 14 [16]: Purl to marker slip marker, knit 8, slip marker, Purl to end

Row 15 [17]: Knit to marker, slip marker, Increase in first stitch, knit to last stitch and increase (10 stitches), knit across row

Row 16 [18]: Purl across to marker, slip marker, Knit 10, slip marker, purl across

Row 17 [19]: Knit across to marker, slip marker, increase in first stitch, knit to last stitch and increase (12 stitches), slip marker, knit across

Row 18 [20]: Purl to marker, slip marker, knit 12, slip marker, purl across

Row 19 [21]: Knit to marker, remover marker, bind off 12 (knit first stitch, knit next stitch and then slide the first stitch over the second stitch). Do this to marker, remove marker, then slip that last stitch back on with the rest of the to-be-knit stitches, knit it and all the others to end. (This binding off and reknitting that last slipped stitch keeps a hole from forming in bound-off area.)

Row 20 [22]: Purl across stitches

*Row 21 [23], 23 [25]: Knit (25 is what I use, but I like the longer length)

*Rows 22 [24], 24 [26]: Purl (26 if you did 25, then you need to do this row too)

Repeat from* for number of rows you want for palm length(remember to include the 6 rows below in calculating your length), ending with purl row.


If you want a tighter top, do six rows in K1, P1 ribbing and bind off. I do the K1 P1 it keeps the end from rolling so much and so that it keeps its shape better.

Otherwise, knit six rows even and bind off.

Sew up side seam (if knitting flat) and fasten off end.

To do this in the round, just knit all the stitches on all the rows EXCEPT when, on the purl rows it tells you to knit those few stitches between the markers. Those between the markers you will purl, so it turns out looking right and having some support at the end of the thumb.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Home-sewn 'feminine protection" - pads

Earlier this week Sarah ask me how I made my feminine supplies. I forgot that I was going to do a blog on that. Thank you Sarah for reminding me.

I'm at that season of life where I need feminine protection infrequently, but I do sometimes need protection from wetting when I sneeze. sigh Ain't having had kids great. The little left-behind damage done to a woman's body. More stuff your mama never told you about!

I was wearing a disposable "incontinence pad" because I never knew when a sneeze would cause a little dampness. I started out with it happening once in a while then went to it happening a LOT. I found that over time, I was having a continuing problem that seemed to be getting worse, so I was wearing pads more and more often, until I was always wearing them.

I came to be using cloth as part of a challenge. The challenge was to try cloth wipes for the bathroom. I did and really liked using the cloth for wiping. I had already started using cloth napkins instead of paper towels. Which got me thinking again about cloth for feminine needs.

After thinking about this for a while and reading the praises of others, I decided that I would make myself some pads and the result was AMAZING. After a couple of weeks, I noticed that I wasn't leaking when I sneezed - until I was sick and sneezing REALLY hard and a lot of times in a row. When I got really sick with a respiratory illness and was just sneezing my head off and the cloth pads weren't enough, I went back to the disposable ones. After several weeks, even though I wasn't sneezing as much, I was still having problems. So I went back to my cloth pads and in less than a week, I wasn't having constant leakage with sneezing. I guess there's something in the disposable pads that causes me to have MORE of the problem. In fact, most of the time, I don't have any problems at all.

The pads I made were very easy to make and I like them a lot. The only thing I would do differently is that I would cut up a piece of those "diaper changing pads/crib mattress protection pads" that I used with my kids and use that to back 1/3 of my pad - as a leak protection. I had even found one of those old crib pads while cleaning my daughter's bedroom. And I put it ??? I've hunted high and low and I have NOT been able to find it. I decided to go ahead and make the pads without it. So sometimes I do leak through my pads. I don't have the money to just go by some PUL to use. My solution is to just change frequently.

To make my pads I used polar fleece and flannel. I found both in the remnant bin at Wally world. From 1 yard of 60"wide fleece and about 1 1/2 yards of 35" wide flannel, I made 14 pads. Oh, the last 2 pads I used a couple of old diapers I had left instead of the flannel - I ran out of flannel. If I had had it, I would also have used PUL or mattress protection padding.

What I did. First, I looked online at all the different patterns/sites that dealt with this subject. I decided what style I liked. Then I looked at how fussy the pattern was going to be and decided that, I really didn't need a "shaped" pad. Also, I didn't like the sizing on the pads. I'm a large size and the tiny pads that were out there would never work for me. So I got the bright idea of just going my own way and measuring myself so that the pad would fit ME.

I used a measuring tape to take 2 measurements. Measurement 1 was from where I wanted the pad to cover from front to back and the second was the inside of my legs - as in how wide was my pelvic region from the inside of one leg, across to the other leg?

I like a lot of coverage. I've always hated having leaks - front or back - because of skimpy pads. I hate side leaks because the pad was not wide enough or too wide and bunched up.

My starting point with the tape measure was in the back at the point that I wanted the pad to start, then I pulled it gently up between my legs (over my underwear so it wasn't tight) to the front where I wanted the pad to stop. That was the first measurement and for me, it was 18". Others might want/need it longer or shorter. It depends on a lot of factors, most of them personal choices and likes/dislikes. Just measure yourself - or if you have a commercial pad that you just love, measure one of them and make it that length. If you're not sure how long you'd like it, try different measurements and make 1 pad of that length. See what length you like best, then make your pads that length.

For width, measure yourself like you do for your inseam measurement, only instead of going down your leg, you're going from the crease of one leg, across your nether region to the crease of the other leg. Again, measure over underpanties. For me, 3" is about right.

So I made my pads 18" long by 9 inches wide. Why 9" instead of 3. Well I fold my pad in 3rds, which makes the 1/3 part be 3".

First, I washed and dried my material in hot water and in a hot dryer. This way, it's shrunk all it's going to. Next, I snipped into the selvage and tore the flannel off across the top, until I had the top squared, then did the same thing at the bottom of the piece. Then I cut my fabric into 18" lengths and then across to 9" widths. (Actually, I snipped into the selvage edge and just tore - YUP tore! the fabric across. Made nice straight pieces that way.) Now the fleece doesn't tear and it is sort of a pain to cut - unless you're fortunate enough to own a rotary cutter. Scissors are a pain, but that's how I had to cut mine. Things don't have to be exact. Who's going to see it?
Any way you do it, you want to end up with pieces of fabric and fleece the length you want by 3 times the width.

If I had found the crib pad or had some PUL, I would have cut it 18" x 3".

I did have some 18" x about 3" sections of "leftover" fleece that I used - why throw it away?

I made a "sandwich" of the 18x9 fleece on the bottom, then the 18x3 scrap I put down the middle of the fleece. If I had the PUL/pad, I would have put that next to the 3" fleece section, so that as I looked at it, there would be on the left edge the PUL/pad, next to it in the center 1/3 would be the fleece (those two together, side-by-side, would be the middle layer) and then the right 1/3 section would be the bottom layer of fleece showing up with nothing on top of it. The top layer is the flannel and it goes right side up.

I didn't bother to pin it, I just started sewing around the edges with a zig-zag stitch, near the edges. I used a small zig-zag stitch about 1/8" in from the edge. That made a large rectangle. The edges are not all "even", but they're close enough for my needs.

Next I sewed 3" in from the edge on both long sides of my rectangle. So I was sewing 3" from the edge of my material and down the 18" length. I turned it around and sewed down the other side, 3" from the edge. I did use a straight stitch to do these guidelines. After doing a couple of these, I got smart and marked 3" out from the side of my machine needle and it made it so much easier and my line is straight. Yup, right on Mr. Machine himself! You could use masking tape - if the kids haven't absconded with it. But failing tape, a Sharpie does a great job and won't smear off onto the fabric - just give it a minute or two to dry.

This straight stitching divides your rectangle into 3rds, so it makes it easy to fold and helps it to not unfold. When folded it makes the pad as wide as you wanted it by the length you wanted. By doing a trifold, you have at least 6 layers to better absorb moisture. (The ones of mine that I used the scrap piece down the middle is 7 layers thick and when I find that pad, I'm going to open up the side and add that so it will then be 8 layers thick.)

To use: just fold it in 3rds along your stitch line, lay it in the bottom of your panties, pull up and you're ready to go. Snug panties are a help in holding the pad in place. Also, if you used the PUL/pad - which I would REALLY recommend if you can at all afford it, make sure that the 1/3 section that has the PUL is in the bottom third. That way, it's farthest from your body. The flannel will keep it in place in your panties and the next layer will be the PUL/pad which will keep the pad from leaking. (or in other words, fold the 1/3 section without the PUL/pad in towards the center of the pad first, then fold the 1/3 section with the PUL/pad towards the center next. That way, the center 1/3 of the pad is on top and next to your body, then the second section is next, then the section with the fleece - pad- flannel is last. When folded properly and with a middle layer of PUL/fleece, you're pad will be: flannel, fleece, fleece, fleece, flannel, fleece, PUL, flannel.)

Nicest thing about this pattern is that it unfolds to wash and dry so that it doesn't take forever for it to wash and dry. I toss them in with my whites. I wash with 2 Tbs of grated Fels Naptha soap, 2 TBS of washing soda (this is NOT baking soda, but the box is similar to the baking soda box - the same company makes it.) and white vinegar in the rinse spot - where you'd put the fabric softener. I wash them in hot water and dry in the regular dryer. They've been being washed once a week since about Oct. and I've not had any trouble with them raveling or coming apart. I've got a couple that have a bit of very light staining, but that's my fault for not treating them or at least putting them in some cold water or rinsing the blood out. I was in crazy mode from the comings and goings I was having to do, and just tossed them in a special container I use and the blood dried on them. I then forgot and washed in hot without pre-rinsing them or treating the stain.

Some people worry about "germs". The soap/washing soda is alkaline and the "germs" don't do well with that. The vinegar is acidic and the "germs" don't like that. Then there's the heat from the washer and dryer and they don't like THAT either. By the time the laundry is done, you've got more bacteria on your hands than you do in the clean pads (or clean cloth wipes, even ones that you've used to wiped after a #2 with!)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Emergency Baking substitutions

So you're in the kitchen and open your cabinet to get out the ingredients to bake and find that the kids have used up the last of something and neglected to tell you. What to do, what to do?

Here are some handy substitutions. Actually, many of these are useful for everyday cooking. You know what the ingredients are! For instance, most baking powders have Alum in it. Do you know what "alum" is. Aluminum! Yep, the stuff that's been indited as a culprit in Alzheimer's. I'm under the impression that there are only 2 brands available. One is found in health food stores. I don't remember the name brand. The other is Rutherford's. The Rutherford's is a double acting, but you can make your own single acting powder.

Baking Powder (single acting)
This works well, but doesn't store well. Also, you need more of this than you do commercial.
2 Teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon Baking SODA (sodium bicarb)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

Mix together and add to your flour. (Use about half again what the recipe calls for)


Cake Flour
For each cup of cake flour you want, measure 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch into a 1 cup measure, then spoon in enough flour to make 1 cup. Level off and sift together.

Self-Rising Flour
8 cups flour
5 Tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt

Mix together, then sift a couple of times. Store in an airtight container. (Don't use homemade baking powder unless you're going to bake with the flour immediately.)

Confectioners' sugar
Put 1/4 cup regular sugar into the container of your blender and blend at highest speed for 2 mins. Stop the blender once in a while to push the powdered sugar off the sides of the container.
If you use a food processor, you can process up to 1 cup at a time.

1 cup regular sugar = 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups in a blender and a bit more in the processor.

To stop it from clumping together, mix in 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch to each 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar. (Store-bought sugar has the cornstarch in it so it won't mess up your recipe.)

Commercial powdered sugar is a little finer powder than what you can do in a blender, so know that 3/4 cup of your homemade sugar is equal to one cup of commercial stuff. 2 1/4 teaspoons is equal to 1 Tablespoon of commercial.

If your processor can make 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of powdered sugar from 1 cup of regular sugar, then you won't need to make any adjustments.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Honey Whole Wheat Graham Crackers and "gingerbread" houses

I have yet to try this, but it looks really good. You won't taste the beans or the vinegar in it and the beans with the milk and grains makes this a complete protein.

Part A
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour (save out about 1/4 cup. If flour is very absorbent, you won't need the full 1 3/4 cups, but if it's already absorbed a lot of humidity, you may need a bit more than the 1 3/4 cups. By saving some out, you won't have to add a bunch more water to have a workable dough.)
1/4 cups white bean flour
1/3 cup dry milk powder
1/4 teaspoon soda
scant 1 teaspoon baking powder (scant=almost, but not quite, a full tsp, but more than 3/4 tsp)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

Part B
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons water

Place part A in a bowl and mix it together. Make a well in the center and add part B.
Mix until it forms a dough. Don't knead it, just get all the flour moist. This is where you'll find out if it needs more water or flour.

Roll out dough to about 1/8th thickness (you can roll it in parts and use 2 pencils as a guide to get an even thickness. Place pencils on either side of the dough mass that you want to roll. Using a rolling pin, slide the pin over the dough until the pin rests on the pencils. Sort of like the skids used to move heavy pieces of stone.) You can also roll it directly on your cookie sheet, but you'll need one without sides or a pin that will roll between the sides of your sheet. Make sure you spray your cookie sheet with no-stick stuff before you start. After it's rolled out, you'll need to score the dough or cut it into shapes with either a knife or have fun with your cookie cutters.

It's best to prick the dough with a fork to keep air bubbles from forming. They won't hurt anything, just don't look as tidy. Large pieces have to be pricked.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Makes one jelly roll size pan of crackers if it's just scored into squares. Two pans if you cut out shapes.

This would also make a good "clay" for an edible project (don't know if I'd want to eat it after the kids have played with it for a while, lol). Let the kids model with it and then bake it until it's dry. Then they can eat it (or not). I would have them make the project in a couple of hours time, not let it sit out overnight.

You could make figures out of it, but I'd bake them at about 200-250 so they get dry. I don't know how long, as how long to bake will depend on how big the pieces are. You can make your own Nativity set. (This will make brown people/buildings. I guess if you wanted white people/buildings, you can make a dough from either salt or cornstarch and use that for anything you wanted to be slightly off white (salt) or stark, bright white (cornstarch).) Any of the above will also make good things to make cutout ornaments with. I have a set of 12 Day of Christmas ones that I've used. I poked a good size hole in the end so I'd have an opening to thread so I could hang them.

For those whom don't like the taste of gingerbread, they could also use this in place of gingerbread to make "gingerbread houses". It would take a couple of recipes, or only make a smaller house.

Download a template from the net or design your own house, roll out dough and cut out. It's easy to do. Use a sharp knife and a straight edge to cut 7 squares. 4 for "walls", 2 for the "roof" and 1 cut on the diagonal for the 2 triangular pieces that go to hold the roof up on the ends.

Place on a piece of cardboard covered with aluminum foil or cover the cardboard with pretty paper then on top of that with plastic wrap. Make this larger than your house and you can landscape it. Use frosting or make "royal" icing to use as glue - any kind that will dry. White icing makes "snow" and chocolate blends in with the brown to look like mortar.

Either use a pastry bag and a tip or fill a zip-type bag and just cut a very small corner off of it and pipe a layer of frosting on the sides of all the "walls" to get them together. Next put some on the bottom edges so it will stay on your cardboard base and place on the covered cardboard. Then attach the roof pieces. Glue all sides of every piece so that it will hold. You may want to let 10 mins go by to let the pieces harden a bit before you move them around. So do some gluing, let the pieces dry for a few minutes, then move them and add some more pieces. I'd let it sit for about an hour before I decorated it, just so the glue will have a chance to set better.

Now you're ready to decorate. Use whatever you've used for "glue" to hold your decorations on. Any type of candy is fair game. Just use your imagination. Dinner mints can be sidewalks or paving. regular chocolate-covered mints can be shingles or paving stones. Roll out gumdrops and cut into shapes, or make trees out of them. Lollipops make good trees too. Hard candies in a Christmas assortment (out at this time of year) make good pieces for decorating. Use some of the round pieces with the decorated centers for the "windows".

Or, before you bake the dough, cut "windows" in your wall pieces and add some crushed "lifesaver" type candies inside the cut-out square for stained glass. While the dough bakes, the candy melts and it looks pretty. Just crush the pieces very small and let it sit on the tray for a minute or two when it comes out of the oven so that the candy will harden a little before you move it.

Add a steeple and make a church. Only use 3 walls and make an open house that is decorated inside as well as out. Have fun and let the kids have fun. You're not making a piece of art for a prize, you're just having fun. Rustic is good! Don't worry that it's not "squared" or "perfect". You can buy perfect from the store, already done up. No fun to be had, but hey it's PERFECT. (or not. take a close look at store bought stuff and see the flaws in it.)

One last tip, if you don't want to make your own graham crackers, buy the store ones and use them to make little house with. You can make a whole village out of a single box. It takes 2 long pieces, broken where it's scored in half for the 4 walls. Another long piece, broken in half for two sections of the roof and another 1/2 piece, cut on the diagonal (a tricky cut, saw gently with a serrated knife to keep from breaking the cracker) for the two roof ends.

Hey, use some of those new mini, mini-lights and light your village with them.

Great gifts for grandma and grandpa from the younglings.

Or make "kits" either before baking the dough or after and let the grandparents play with the kids with this. (Remember if you give a before baking kit, it only works if there's an oven going to be available to bake the dough. Otherwise bake "blanks" and let whomever gets it do their own decorating.

So you kit would include either the dough ingredients layered in a pint jar with a list of the wet ingredients needed, plus the instructions. Or the dough that has been pre-made into the correct shapes and baked. With either one, include the fixings and instructions for the "glue", an assortment of candies (homemade or store bought), a pre-covered base and any other goodies you'd like to add.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

French/Italian bread or tortilla pizza

Does everyone know this quick breakfast, lunch or dinner trick? This takes less than 1 1/2 minutes in the microwave, less than 5 under the broiler or less than 20 in the oven. I taught my 2 1/2 year old daughter to make these for herself on a tortilla - without the sauce. I was pregnant and in labor from 17 weeks onward and on bed-rest. So I'd lay on the couch and watch her, telling her what to do. This is how she learned her numbers! (I could see the microwave from the living room - it was in a small trailer.)

Take a loaf of French or Italian bread and cut it in half front-to-back so that the top is removed and can be set upside down (on what was the top) on a cookie sheet next to the bottom half.
Then put some spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce (even though I cook, I've never figured out how to have a different "taste" for pizza sauce, so I keep some Ragu pizza sauce around). Spread some sauce on both halves - how much will depend on how much sauce you like on your pizza. Add some cheese and any toppings you have handy. You can use amounts that suit you or more importantly for some of us, what's available to use. You can use less cheese or even cut the bread into thirds instead of in half, but watch your hand that you don't cut yourself! This would lower the calorie count, but still taste good.

Bake in a 350-375 oven or under broiler until bread is heated and cheese is melted and bubbled a little.

This can be frozen either before or after it's cooked. I prefer to freeze after cooking so that the sauce doesn't absorb into the bread and make it soggy. Either way, just wrap it well in whatever serving size is convenient for you and freeze. We eat it all in one sitting, but then, I have a teenage boy. lol If it was just me, I'd make the pizzas and then cook them, then cut the bread again so that I have 1/4 of the loaf. I'd individually wrap the other 3 pieces, put in a zip type bag, suck the air out of it and freeze. When I wanted pizza, I'd put one piece in my toaster oven on toast or I could nuke it in the microwave for about 45 seconds - or until the cheese bubbles a little. You're wanting to thaw/heat the bread and melt the cheese.

We also do the same thing with tortillas. Usually we don't fool with the oven we just nuke them, open-faced, for about 45 seconds to one minute. Roll them up or fold them over to eat. This makes a fast breakfast as well as lunch or dinner.

Serve with grape juice and a salad. Yummy

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Buttermilk Biscuit master mix and recipes

Buttermilk Biscuit Mix

Some years ago I devised this mix and enjoyed it very much. This is a master mix, meaning that you make up a large amount of the mix and then use portions of it to make other things.

10 cups flour (white, 1/2 and 1/2, whole wheat; OR 8 cups white flour, 1 cups each bran and wheat germ)
1/2 cup baking powder (3/4 cup if using whole wheat)
3 Tbs sugar
4 Tsp (1 Tbs +1 tsp) salt
3 Tbs vital wheat gluten (opt. makes buiscuits lighter - especially if using whole wheat)
1 2/3 cups shortening*

Mix dry ingredients together (you can sift it if you want to).
Cut in shortening.
*you can use equal REAL mayo. (not lite or Miracle whip!) This will keep the biscuits soft once they cool, but then the mix MUST be refrigerated! With just shortening, it will keep on the shelf for several months.

To Use:
1 batch (6 cathead or 9 rolled and cut out)
2 1/2 + 1/3 cup mix
1 cup buttermilk (or put 1 Tbs lemon juice or vinegar in bottom of measuring cup and fill to 1 cup mark and let sit 5 mins. Yes, this will curdle and look nasty, but tastes fine after baking.)
Mix together to make a soft dough. Knead 5 times, adding just a little flour if needed to keep it from sticking. Make catheads or roll and cut out or roll out in your pan and cut almost through the dough where you want the biscuits to be. This will give you square, break-apart biscuits.
Bake at 375 F for 18-20 mins or until golden brown.

2 Batches (12 cathead or 18 rolled and cut out)
5 2/3 cups mix
2 cups buttermilk (or put 1 Tbs lemon juice or vinegar in bottom of measuring cup and fill to 1 cup mark and let sit 5 mins. Yes, this will curdle and look nasty, but tastes fine after baking.)
Mix together to make a soft dough. Knead 5 times, adding just a little flour if needed to keep it from sticking. Make catheads or roll and cut out or roll out in your pan and cut almost through the dough where you want the biscuits to be. This will give you square, break-apart biscuits.
Bake at 375 F for 18-20 mins or until golden brown.

You can also use this to top pot pies and casseroles instead of using pie crust or mash potatoes. Just pat dough out to size of whatever you're covering or drop like dumplings

To make Dumplings for savory or sweet foods:
Add 1/2 - 3/4 cups more milk to make a thinner dough, scoop out with spoon dipped in water and drop into boiling broth, juice, milk, etc.. Cover and cook for 10 mins, uncover and cook another 10 mins or until done. (Cut one and see if inside is done - light and fluffy instead of still looking wet.)

"New" fridge and Pizza mac

My dear daughter fixed lunch for us today. I was busy cleaning a fridge I got off of Freecycle.

Seems someone got it from a remodeler friend. I think she thought is hadn't been cleaned and decided she didn't want it. But it had, it was just stained. I tried some commercial cleaner I had on hand and it didn't get any cleaner. So I got out a Mr. Clean sponge. Now I really do try to use my eco-friendly stuff, but this was NOT going to come any cleaner.

This fridge is black with a texturized finish and the Mr. Clean Eraser did the trick inside and out. It looks like new and is a lot larger than the older one I've had since 1984. The nice thing is that it has a shelf in the freezer and 4 layers of shelves for the fridge section. Plus the doors hold a gallon and a half gallon. No more frozen milk! YEAH!!! And I can finally organize my leftovers and all the normal stuff that lives in there.

This recipe is SO easy!

16 oz package of twisty macaroni, cooked according to the package directions
12 oz jar of Ragu pizza sauce
1 soup can size pitted black olives
1 cup of cheese

Cook the mac and drain. Pour the pizza sauce in, break up the black olives (or skip them if you don't like them). Add the cheese. Stir well and eat.
Takes about 20 mins from start to finish.

Monday, December 3, 2007

"Mr Fenton" and Walmart - a joke

Ok, I love clean jokes and I love to laugh. We laughed over this one until we were in tears. Or perhaps things have just been so tense over trying to get the car back up here and insurance taken care of. (No, this old car was not insured for collision. We have a $500 deductible and the trade-in value is only $478. So there was no reason to insure it for that. They would have just declared it totaled and not paid anything.)
Anyway, I thought you guys might enjoy reading it.

This is why women should not take men shopping against their will. Don't take us, we don't want to go!!!!

After Mr. and Mrs. Fenton retired, Mrs. Fenton insisted that her husband accompany her on her trips to Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, Mr. Fenton was like most men, he found shopping boring and preferred to get in and get out. Equally unfortunate, like most women, Mrs. Fenton loved to browse. One day, Mrs. Fenton received the following letter from her local Wal-Mart.

Dear Mrs. Fenton,

Over the past 6 months, your husband has been causing quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and may be forced to ban both of you from this store. Our complaints against Mr. Fenton are listed below and are documented by our video surveillance cameras.

June 14: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people's carts when they weren't looking.

July 02: Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.

July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official voice, "Code 3 in Housewares-get on it right away".

Aug. 4: Went to the Service desk and tried to put a bag of M & M's on layaway.

Sept. 14: Moved a "CAUTION-WET FLOOR" sign to a carpeted area.

Sept. 15: Set up a tent in the Sports Department and told other shoppers he'd invite them in if they would bring pillows and blankets from the Bedding Department.

Sept. 23: When a clerk asked if they could help him, he began crying and screamed, "Why can't you people just leave me alone?"

Oct. 04: Looked right into the security camera and used it as a mirror while he picked his nose.

Nov. 10: While handling guns in the Hunting Department, he asked the clerk what aisle the anti-depressants were in.

Dec. 03: Darted around the store suspiciously while loudly humming the theme to "Mission Impossible".

Dec. 06: In the Auto Department, he practiced his "Madonna look" by using different sizes of funnels.

Dec. 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browsed through yelled "PICK ME, PICK ME!!"

Dec. 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumed a fetal position and screamed, "OH, NO! IT'S THOSE VOICES AGAIN!"

And last, but not least, on

Dec. 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited awhile, then yelled very loudly, "Hey! There's no toilet paper in here!"


Regards,

Wal-Mart

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Easy Cream of Broccoli Soup

I thought I had everything together to do a daily post again. Then life happens.
My oldest had a car accident. She's ok, the car is not and the Jaguar she hit is even worse. And they claim it's my daughter's fault. Perhaps it is, but a Jag can go from zero to sixty in only a couple of seconds. The lady didn't even try to brake or swerve and when her husband came to get her, he started to shout and she shushed him, then pulled his head down, whispered something to him and he immediately shut up. So I wonder what her driving history is.
So I've spent the last week trying to get the car back to our county from about an hour from here and getting another car we had that wasn't usable roadworthy.

Anyway, here's a nice recipe for Cream of Broccoli Soup:

1 Polybag of frozen broccoli - about 32 ozs.
2 cup water and
2 chicken bouillon cubes or
2 cups chicken broth/stock
1/4 to 1/2 cup dry milk powder
2 tbs butter
1 tbs lemon

Put the broccoli in a large pot with the water/bouillon or chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook through. Do NOT drain. Put the broccoli and it's water in a blender. Add some dry milk powder and some butter and lemon. Whirl it until it's creamy. Takes about 10 minutes to make this. If you want, add some grated cheese to the mixture after it's blended. Yummy!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

To freeze or not to freeze, that is the question

So what's the answer?

Insulation!

But it's so expensive!

Not necessarily.

I was reading some of the blogs that I like to read and was captivated by the link to several articles on insulating your windows. And since I'm poorer than the proverbial church mouse, free is my favorite word.

As in free bubble wrap to insulate your windows. Bubble wrap on windows? Insulating windows is such a pain to do. And then, here in the south, some days it's cold enough to freeze water and the next, the door is open to let a little heat OUT.

When I lived in North Florida, I used to put up insulation on the windows. You know, the big, super-size sheets of plastic. You stretch the plastic over the offending window and tack it into place - with small pieces of cardboard between the plastic and the tackhead. Or else you make like McGyver and duct tape it up and hope the residue comes down before you have to pay to have it fixed. Either way was a pain. And once it was up, there was no using that window until you wanted to take it down for the Spring.

Times, they are a changin'. And that brings us to my lead for the day:
http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/Conservation/bubblewrap.htm

I just happen to have received a shipment of school books. It happened to have been wrapped in bubble wrap and I just happened to have saved said wrap.

What could be simpler? Spray water on the window and smack on that lovely, fun to pop bubble wrap. Ok, Some of it I did have fun popping. But to help us all resist, here is another link for you:
http://www.duck-bubblewrap.com/fun/intelligence.asp
Click on "Bubble wrap game". I scored 104. What's your score?

Oh, and the site that got this all started:
http://www.motherearthliving.com/issues/motherearthliving/
green_home/Save-Energy-with-Winter-Window-Treatments_733-1.html

(This address should all be on one line, and does appear on the edit page as readable. But when I tried to post it, on the page you see, the address goes off into the night. So I cut the address in half so that the whole address would appear.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Letting the young eagle fly

Well, it's finally happened. My 18dd spread her wings and took off. In the only working car. By herself. Just for a couple of nights. At the house of her boyfriend's parents. In ATLANTA.

She planned it out with me ahead of time, but wasn't sure if she was going to return late Fri. evening or early Sat morning.
I IMed her late Fri to find out if she was going go ahead and drive back late, but she didn't answer me back.
So I go to bed - at 5:30am and I'm tossing and turning. The fact that HER dog was in MY bed may have had something to do with the tossing! (Chihauhau, but still, I don't sleep with animals in my bed!) Anyway, I'm waiting for her to get in this morning. I look at the clock and it's 9:30.!?! She's supposed to be to work at 8:30!?!?! I call work. Her manager answers and I ask for her. He tells me she's not there yet. Oh, now I'm frantic! "She's NOT THERE?????" "no. She was supposed to be here at 8:30." "Well I'll try and find out why she's not there yet." (did I mention she has the only working car with her?)
So the next call goes to her cell phone. Rings once, then no answer, no busy signal, nothing. (Visions of her car breaking down on the interstate and someone kidnapping her flash before my eyes.)
Next call, (with panic in my voice) is to BF's mom. She says she doesn't know what time, dd left, but it was early. (Former paramedic is now trying to keep from having a heart attack on the spot. Atlanta is only an hour and 15 mins from here.)

At this point I just happened to look at the clock on the computer. I looked again. I looked at my watch, I looked at the clock on the wall. They all agree it's only 8:20. Then BF mom says BF just got off the phone with her, she just got home. (ok, not at the house. But at work)

Mom feels stupid. And I'd swear on a stack of Bibles that my bedroom clock read 9:30! So I go check it and it too reads 8:30.

Please understand this is a responsible young person. And I'm really NOT a clingy mom-type. And I have no earthly reason WHY I read the clock as 9:30, when it was only 8:20 (the alarm is deliberately set 10 mins ahead.)

All I know is this. I'm just not cut out to be the mom of teens. lol I just don't seem to have the stamina for it. I'm fine with pukey, poopy babies. I'm fine with tantrums (hey, Thang#1 was down on the floor from the time she was 13 months old until she was 3 1/2. One day I tried to count how many tantrums she had had. I lost count at noon and the count was 36 times to that point. She was 3 at the time.) I just stepped over her and let her rip. I was fine with cuts, and an 15 month old who followed big sister up a tree some 10'. (Remember the old Kodak Moment commercials. Well, Thang #1 came in shouting "Mom, come quick and bring your camera! It's a cardiac moment! Yup, it was at that.) I'm good at teaching them things - we homeschool. They can all cook and sew - yep, even ds. They all know the "facts of life." They can clean and do dishes. They can all take care of kids from newborns to school-age. They know how to make a flint and steel fire, set up a tent and camp. They know how to check the oil and fluids in a car, mow the lawn and paint. Not a problem.

I never thought I'd have any trouble teaching my kids anything. But this teenage stuff is killing me. Driver's Ed was the first clue I was in trouble. As I mentioned, I used to be a paramedic. I KNOW what can happen in a car. I know this kid. And the combination of the two scared the daylights out of me. I was a nervous wreck and made her one. Now mind you, she's a good kid. Except when she's being a brat. But cars are big and unforgiving things. At 65 miles an hour, you're toast if you hit anything. Like a deer, or a cow, or another car. Thang #1 just got her regular driver's license 2 weeks ago. Yes, she's 18, not 16. But between the two of us, it was just better for her to wait. Plus, now she's paying $104 a month for her insurance instead of the $45 she was paying with me being the only licensed driver. We just didn't have the money to pay the extra.

Now I've got to start teaching Thang#2 to drive. He wants to argue with everything I say. I'm just not ready to have him get behind the wheel and argue with me over how he's driving. sigh.

Can't I just go "poof" with a magic wand and make 'em little again. Just for a while longer. Until I'm ready for them to grow up and deal with them being teens. kwim? lol

Friday, November 9, 2007

Colds, rice bags and bedtime routines

Just gotta love getting sick. NOT.
I caught a cold a couple of weeks ago and it's still lingering on. Mostly in the guise of some serious coughing. I'm not running a temperature, so it's viral - no good to take antibiotics for it. I just have to let it run it's course.

In the meantime, I've not done any blogging. I thought I'd better check back in with everyone.

It's finally gotten cold here in the North Georgia mountains. The temp has been down into the low 30's at night, 45 during the day.

I've been very thankful for my rice bag and shrug that I made a while back. It was so easy to make these two items. During the day, when I'm up running around, I overheat and I don't wear/own many long-sleeve shirts. Once it gets dark and I sit in my chair typing, my arms get cold, especially my right hand that I'm mousing with. Then new shrug keeps my arms warm without adding extra covering to the rest of me.

While looking at some of my favorite blogs, Chrunchy Chicken had a bit on her blog about using Field corn to make the bags. The deer corn lady has a website that gives pictures as well as written instructions for making these. They are used the same way as rice is used.

I have trouble falling asleep if my feet are cold, so I've developed a new bedtime ritual. First, I take a warm bath. I like to use scented salts instead of bubble bath. Too much of an opportunity to develop a yeast infections with bubble baths. You can buy scented salts at Wallyworld for under $3. Or you can make your own.

To make your own scented salts all you need are Epsom's salt and some essential oil or fragrance that you like. You can buy the small boxes or bags of salts in the pharmacy area of any drug store or Wallyworld-type place for about $2. OR you can go to the plumbing section and buy a 50lb bag of water-softener for about $5-8. The water-softener crystals will need to be broken up a bit - they're too big to work well in the tub. Just put some of the crystals in a bag and whack it with a hammer or drive your car over it. I'd double bag it to drive the car over it!

When you've gotten the crystals smaller, bring them in, place them in a jar - a mason jar works well, and add your scent. It doesn't take a lot of scent. Several drops will do it. Then stir the salts around and close the jar up. Let it sit for a bit so that the scent will be absorbed by the crystals - several hours to a couple of days should do it. If you want it to fizz, add 1 tbs of baking soda to the crystals and stir that into them. A couple of tablespoons to 1/4 cup will make a nice relaxing bath.

After my bath, I heat the rice pack and place it at the end of my bed. If my room is extra cool, I'll also plop another heated bag above my head. This warms me up enough that I fall right to sleep. In the past, I've found that if I put on socks, I'll end up waking up in a couple of hours to take them off - I'm then too hot. But by then I've had enough sleep, that I can't get back to sleep. The heated rice packs seem to take care of the short-term cold feet without causing me to awaken later.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Things you don't hear any more

My laugh file is subbing for me while I get over my cold.


Thing you don't hear any more.


Be sure and refill the ice trays, we are going to have company after while.

Watch for the mailman, I want to get this letter in the mail today.

Quit slamming that screen door!

Stay in or stay out! If you keep running in and out,I'm gonna set your fields on fire!!

Be sure to pull the windows down when you leave, it looks like it might rain -- and bring in the clothes off the line, too.

Don't forget to wind the clock before you go to bed.

Wash your feet before you go to bed, (you've been playing barefooted outside all day).

Why can't you remember to roll up your pants legs? Getting them caught in the bicycle chain is tearing them up and I ain't made outta money.

You have torn the knees out of that pair of pants so many times there ain't nothing left to put a patch on.

Don't you go outside with your school clothes on!

Hang up your Sunday School clothes, you know you need to pass them down to your brother in good condition.

Go comb your hair. It looks like the rats have nested in it

Be sure and pour the cream off the top of the milk when you open the new bottle. I need it for baking and Pa's coffee.

Take that empty bottle to the store with you so you won't have to pay a deposit on another one.

Put a dish towel over the cake so the flies won't get on it.

Quit jumping on the floor! I have a cake in the oven and you are going to make it fall if you don't quit!

Let me know when the Fuller Brush man comes by, I need to get a few things from him.

You boys stay close by, the car may not start and I will need you to help push it off.

There is a dollar in my purse, go by the service station and get five gallons of gas when you start to town.

Open the back door and see if we can get a breeze through here, it is getting hot.

You can walk to the store; it won't hurt you to get some exercise. Maybe you will learn to be more careful with your bicycle.

Don't sit so close to the TV it will ruin your eyes.

Don't lose that button, I will sew it back on after while.

Get out from under that sewing machine, pumping it messes up the thread!

Do you want to go get me a switch?

Be sure and fill the lamps this morning so we don't have to do that tonight in the dark.

Here, take this old magazine to the outhouse when you go, we are almost out of paper out there.

Go out to the well and draw a bucket of water for me to do dishes

Don't turn the radio on now, I want the battery to be up when the Grand Ole Opry comes on.

No! I don't have nine cents for you to go to the show, do you think money grows on trees?

Eat those vegetables; they will make you big and strong like your daddy.

That dog is NOT coming in this house! I don't care how cold it is out there, dogs just don't belong in the house.

Sit still! I can't cut your hair with you being a wiggle-worm.

Hush your mouth! I don't want to hear anymore words like that. I will wash your mouth out with soap!

It is time for your system to be cleaned out, I'm going to give you a dose of Castor Oil in the morning.

If you get a spanking in school and I find out about it, you will get a worse whupping when you get home.

Quit crossing your eyes! They will get stuck that way!

Soak your foot in this pan of coal oil so that cut won't get infected.

When you take your driving test don't forget your hand signals each turn. Left arm straight out the window for a left turn, and left arm bent up to the sky at the elbow for a right turn and straight down to the side of the door when you are going to slow down or stop.

It is "Yes, sir!" and "No, sir" to me and your elders young man, and don't you forget it!

While we are at Aunt Mary's and Uncle John's you kids eat when the adults get through and I don't want to hear "I don't like this stuff". You better keep your mouth shut and eat everything on your plate.

If I hear you repeat one word of this I will beat the daylights out of you, do you understand that?!!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Biscuits, Egg McMuffins and dumplings(Edited)

I didn't realize that when I cut and pasted this recipe, it overfilled the area allowed and that the instructions weren't readable. Sorry. I usually check and try to be very careful with my posts. But I don't usually go to the page itself to check it. If ever you find another non-readable page, please let me know so I can go correct it.


I've had a request for my biscuit recipe. The Mom's angel biscuits is my favorite one.

Mom's Angel biscuits


5 cups
Flour
3 Tbs
Sugar
1 Tbs
Baking Powder
1 tsp
baking SODA
1 tbs
or 1 pkg. yeast
3/4 cup
mayo or shortening
1/2 cup
warm water
2 cup
Buttermilk, warmed

1 Combine dry ingredients in bowl. Add mayo, water and warmed
buttermilk. Blend well. You can either use it now or
cover and chill. This dough will be a soft dough.
2 When ready to use, spoon a large spoonful into flour canister
and shape into a round shape. Place on greased cookie sheet.
Then turn on oven and set your cookie sheet near oven vent.
When the oven is to temperature, bake biscuits at 400 for
10-12 mins. Until golden brown.



Yield: 2 doz cat head biscuits. Eat what you want 'n' freeze the
rest. Nuke for a minute or two when you're ready to eat a
frozen one.

Cooking Tips
If you use shortening, it must be cut into the dry ingredients
before adding liquid to mix. The mayo keeps the cooked biscuits
soft - even when they've gotten cold. In other words, they
don't get that hard outer shell that regular biscuits get.



NOTE:
When using Mayonnaise for baking (to keep the cooked baked
good soft when it's cold) you must be sure to use REAL Mayo.
Not "Miracle Whip", not salad dressing, not "lite" or "reduced
fat" mayo, but the real stuff. Otherwise it won't work properly.



Oh, for all the Yankees (can ya'll tell I'm from the South? hehe) and my foreign friends I will explain what a "cat head" biscuit is. It's a biscuit that's the size of a cat's head. True, I swear it.
Without all the fur - fur's nasty, we don't eat that. Of course, cat is probably nasty too and we don't eat them either - unless you're from a different culture. I've heard that there are some cultures that do eat cat!

Most American's roll out their biscuit dough to about 1/2" thick and use a 2" cutter (or a kitchen glass like you'd drink water out of if you have company - no, honey, NOT the Mason jar, we only drink from one of those if we're by ourselves or on a picnic!) . Then they transfer the dough to a cookie sheet, mush the left-over, cut up dough together and reroll it until the dough is used up. That method is supposed to give you 5 dozen (That's right FIVE DOZEN) hockey pucks, I mean biscuits. And they measure 2.25" x 3/4" Just about right to play hockey, but no size to make a meal out of it. Plus, by the time it's been rolled out a couple of time, the resulting biscuits have some real chewiness to them. Makes 'em REALLY good for hockey then! If you insist on rolling and cutting, at least use an empty tuna can for the cutter (yes, you clean it first. Tuna biscuits - ewwweeeee. I don't like fish. Not much anyway. Fried catfish and smoked mullet are about my only fish eating forays. Shrimp and lobster don't count!) And for pity sakes, roll the dough out THICKLY I'm talking 1 1/2" worth of thickness. 1/2" thick biscuits - shudder!

Cat head biscuits are good size biscuits. The kind you can open up and put stuff on - like fried egg and a sausage patty, scrambled egg and bacon or sausage gravy. Substantial enough to make it a meal by itself. Who needs Micky D's? By the way, you do know that all an Egg McMuffin is is a buttered, toasted English muffin with a piece of Canadian bacon on the bottom, a fried egg on top of that and an piece of cheese topped with the other side of the muffin? So break your eggs in muffin tin sections, and bake at 350 until the yolk is just set. While the eggs cook, butter and toast your muffins and then make a batch of these all at once, wrap well, put in a zipper bag and freeze. Take one out, unwrap it from any plastic, wrap in a paper towel or cloth napkin and nuke it for 1-2 mins. Now you just saved $$$. And you know what's in it. I got one at Micky D's once and it had the root bottom slice of an onion on it. Talk about YUCK! And I took it to go, so there was no returning it. (I discovered it quite a few miles down the road!)

When I make my biscuits, I use my large serving spoon - this is larger than the regular spoons that you'd eat soup with, but smaller than the 1/2 cup size, slotted buffet-type spoons. I use this to just plop the mixed, unkneaded dough into my flour container. (This practice may be why the old recipes tell you to sift the flour. lol)

You can just scoop some flour into a mixing bowl and use that instead of getting dough particles in your flour canister. Anyway, you're wanting to take a big spoonful of dough and put it into the flour. Coat the dough with flour and shape into a round shape, with a flat bottom, tucking in the edges and making it smooth as you shape it. After doing a few, you'll get the hang of what you're doing. My biscuits start out about 3" in diameter and about 1 1/2" high. They rise and spread some as they cook so they end up larger, about 4" in diameter and about 2 1/2" high.

There's another way to make these. Take all the dough, knead it for a couple of seconds with some more flour - just enough to get it to a smooth dough instead of rough pieces of dough. Then pat it out onto your lightly greased cookie sheet and lightly score it with a knife into biscuit size portions. I'd make 5 scores the long way (6 pieces) and 3 scores the short way. (4 pieces) That would give you 24 biscuits. Don't cut all the way through the dough. Let it rise a little while the oven preheats.

Now there's one last way to make biscuits. My exMIL used to keep self-rising flour in a container. She'd pop the top, add her mayo to the top of the flour and stir it about. Then she'd add milk - yup right in the canister. She'd use her fingers to stir the milk in, then pull out some dough, shape and plop on the cookie sheet. That's a woman that's been making biscuits for 60+ YEARS. Personally, I'm not that brave. I'd have the whole canister oozing milk.

Here's my dumpling recipe:

Dumplings x1
This is good for one or two people

1 ½ cups
flour
2 tsp
baking powder
¾ tsp
salt
3 tbs
shortening or mayo

¾ cup
milk

1 °If using self-rising flour, omit baking powder and salt
2 Measure flour, baking powder and salt into bowl. Mix together
3 Cut in shortening thoroughly, until mixture looks like meal. Or use mayo and add to milk then
4 Stir in milk
5 Dip tablespoon in cold water. Dip up dough, use second spoon dipped in cold water to drop dough by spoonfuls onto hot liquid. (Instructions say to drop on meat or vegies, not in liquid, but it's always worked out in the liquid for me.
6 Cook covered, 10-15 mins or until dumplings are fluffy and then another 10 mins without the lid.

Yield: 8-10 dumplings

Dumplings x2


This is good for 2 or 3 people

3 cups
flour°
4 tsp
Baking powder
1 ½ tsp
salt
6 tbs
shortening or mayo
1 ½ cups
milk

1 °If using self-rising flour, omit baking powder and salt This recipe has been doubled.
2 Measure flour, baking powder and salt into bowl. Mix together
3 Cut in shortening thoroughly, until mixture looks like meal. Or add mayo to the milk.
4 Stir in milk
5 Dip tablespoon in cold water. Dip up dough, use second spoon dipped in cold water to drop dough by spoonfuls onto hot liquid. (Instructions say to drop on meat or vegies, not in liquid, but it's always worked out in the liquid for me.
6 Cook covered, 10-15 mins or until dumplings are fluffy remove lid and cook another 10 mins.

Yield: 16-20 dumplings

Dumplings x3
This is good for 3-4 people.

4 1/2 cups
flour°
2 tbs
baking powder
2 1/4 tsp
salt
½ cup
shortening, or mayo


PLUS
1 tbs
shortening or mayo
2 ¼ cups
milk

1 °If using self-rising flour, omit baking powder and salt This recipe has been tripled.
2 Measure flour, baking powder and salt into bowl. Mix together
3 Cut in shortening thoroughly, until mixture looks like meal. or add mayo to the milk.
4 Stir in milk
5 Dip tablespoon in cold water. Dip up dough, use second spoon dipped in cold water to drop dough by spoonfuls onto hot liquid. (Instructions say to drop on meat or vegies, not in liquid, but it's always worked out in the liquid for me.
6 Cook covered, 10-15 mins or until dumplings are fluffy, remove lid and cook another 10 mins.

Yield: 24-30 dumplings

My servings are based upon hungry teenagers. I'm sure regular people would eat less. I'm about sure that each large dumpling would be one serving of bread in an exchange diet.

Also, I use the same spoon to make dumplings as I do to make the angel biscuits. I cut WAY back on the SALT! We eat a lot, but don't use much salt. I don't like salty dumplings.

I haven't tried this recipe yet, but I know you can do much the same with the angle biscuit recipe.

Paula's Purty Nearly Instant Biscuits


6 cups
self-rising biscuit flour (OR 6 cups flour, plus 3 tablespoons baking powder & 1 Tbs salt)
1 cup
shortening (or mayo - if'n ya hate cutting in that bleeping shortening!) mix it with the buttermilk.

2 cups
buttermilk OR sour milk OR yogurt thinned with a little milk or water

1 This recipe is inspired from somebody's very dear friend named Paula. It involves preparing biscuits from scratch and then freezing the unbaked biscuits. Paula created the idea because her family always wanted her good biscuits for supper, and she needed a way to make them hot, and fresh, even on days when she didn't feel like baking. The results are divinely inspired.
2 First get out a large mixing bowl. Measure in the self rising biscuit flour (or flour, baking powder and salt). Add the firmly packed shortening and mash it into the flour with your fingers or a fork. DO Not Overmix. The shortening should be casually combined with the flour, and small chunks the size of dried beans should remain. This is what makes the biscuits flakey. Now stir in the buttermilk or sour milk or thinned out yogurt. Stir it up until you have a nice soft dough. Knead the dough about 10 or 12 times. NO more, No less. This activates the gluten in the flour just enough to make good biscuits. Roll the dough out into a nice thick slab. I use a rolling pin, but any sturdy jar or glass will do. Cut the dough into biscuit shapes. Use a clean can or glass rim, if you don't have a biscuit cutter. Tuna cans are just the right size for big breakfast biscuits. Continue rolling and cutting until all the dough is used up. (Or make ya some o' them cat heads or pat it into your pan and score em.)
3 Lay waxed paper on a plate or large pan. Arrange the shaped biscuit dough on the waxed paper. Freeze a couple of hours or overnight. (If I leave any bread product more than a couple of hours, they start to dry out. So freeze for a couple of hours or cover with plastic wrap.) When frozen, the biscuits can be gathered up and stashed in plastic freezer bag.
4 When you want to cook them, just take out the specific number you want and place them on a lightly oiled cookie sheet or pizza pan. Bake in a preheated 425 to 450° oven for about 10 minutes. The biscuits will rise up beautifully and will be a nice golden brown when done.
5 These biscuits are better tasting, and much cheaper than canned whack-'em-on-the-counter-biscuits. The whole recipe makes between 30 and 35 medium sized biscuits, or about 20 big breakfast size biscuits (grand-sized).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

An alternate cistern

I haven't actually made this cistern myself. I live in North Ga, and even though the state is in a "drought", we've had plenty of rain where I live. However, this is one of those ideas that I've kept in my mind - you never know when you'll need something like this.

Most houses have rain gutters with a downspout. The downspouts drain the water away from the house - unless you reroute the water to where you want it.

What I have seen done is to make a small 55-60 gal. cistern with a trash can under a downspout. They took a large, clean trash can and build a small fence around it, about 3 feet high and just a bit wider than the circumference of the can. They placed the can in the middle of it, on top of a couple of bricks and put some large gravel around the can to stabilize the outside of the can - to keep it from tipping over as it fills. They then cut the downspout so that the end was just inside of the trash can. They cut a hole in the lid, just large enough that the downspout could fit through it and let the lid close. They also covered the cut area with small screening - to keep dirt and leaves out. They also fit a small piece of screen at the top of the downspout for the same reason. You will have to make sure that you check for leaves in the gutters/downspout or it will block the downspout from draining.

You can make one of these for each corner of the house. That would be about 240 gals. of extra water. If you can have some other clean trash cans around, you could dip off the water to the other cans and keep letting your spouts funnel water to the fenced cans.

NOTE: If you DO NOT have a fenced yard or have small kids, I would use food grade 55 gal drums to do this and use a siphon to remove the water from it. Any kind of bucket - even a 3 gal bucket with water in it is a drowning hazard to a small child. Being top heavy, they fall forward and can not get back out and are dead before anyone finds them. The food drums have two 3" openings in the top. The lid is one solid piece and no one can fall into it. Also the fence keeps the barrel from being tipped over. 55 gals of water weigh a LOT and a kid pulling on it would be badly hurt if it fell on them.

I have also seen a threaded drain port about 2" from the bottom of the can/barrel. The port lets you attach a hose to it and turn water access off and on.

I have also heard of people getting a new septic tank sunk in their yards and having the flow from their downspouts funneled into that. They used a submersible sump pump (new) to drain the water as needed. Some people also put in a drain field so that when the tank is full, the water has someplace to drain to. It would depend on how much rain you get as to what you will need.

Here are some links I found:

http://www.rainbarrelguide.com/

http://www.geocities.com/rainsystem/howto.html

http://www.lid-stormwater.net/raincist/raincist_specs.htm

This site has a LOT of neat stuff!
http://www.floydcountyinview.com/cistern.html

http://deercreek_63080.tripod.com/theprimitivecabinwebsite/id8.html

http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/suppliers/water-tankscisterns/

http://www.scribd.com/doc/96380/rainwater-harvesting

http://www.plastmo.com/plastmo/rbdivert.html

Everlasting chicken - was Magic chicken

Ok, my 18dd suggested I change the name of this post. I'd forgotten that "magic" has other connotations - pot (and I ain't talkin' 'bout what 'cha cook in!)

I thought I'd include my everlasting chicken recipe. I use this recipe to make several meals from one fryer size (3-4 pounds) chicken. You can make 1 large pot of soup, 1 large pot of either chicken and rice or chicken and dumplings or a smaller pot of each. You will also have breast meat to make another meal out of, plus more chicken meat from wings, back, neck and scraps that didn't come off with the breast and then more broth.

First I thaw my frozen chicken (if it was frozen), then wash it out, pick off any missed pin feathers and remove the giblets. I then take Mr or Ms chicken and put it into my large soup pot, cover it with water - to about 2" from the top of this large pot. I then season it with salt, onion powder, garlic powder, Adobo and poultry seasoning. Bring it all to a boil and reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for about 20 mins.

I then remove the meat from the pot. I have a partially done chicken and about 6 cups of stock.
Next I remove the legs/thigh quarter from both sides and set that aside. I preheat the oven to 350 degrees, while that's heating I re-season the chicken itself with the above spices, sans salt. I put the chicken and the giblets into a roasting pan and cook the chicken for another 30 mins or until the meat is tender.

While the breast meat is cooking, I remove the meat from the thigh/leg quarters. I put the fat, skin and bones aside, I'm going to use them again later.

When the meat is off the quarters, I then need to make some choices. What do I want to make with this batch of broth. I can make a large pot of soup, or I can wait and make the soup from the later broth I make from the scraps and bones. Normally, I make a batch of either rice or dumplings. I have a ds, Thang #2, that is a bottomless pit, so I make 3 cups of rice to the 6 cups of broth, or split the broth into two pans and make dumplings. I could just make the dumplings in one pot, but we like the fluffy dumplings and found that 2 pots made better dumplings for our taste buds than one pot did.

Chicken and Dumplings
Broth
Chicken cut or shredded into pieces
Biscuit dough (This is Southern U.S. biscuits, made with flour, salt, baking powder, milk and shortening/lard/oil. Biscuits in the rest of the English-speaking world are cookies to us. We DON'T want sweets here lol)

Make your biscuit dough with about 1/2 more milk than the recipe calls for. You don't want a stiff dough that you can knead, but you don't want soup either. It needs to be stiff enough to use a spoon to scoop it out. (if I need to post a recipe, email me and I will. It's late and I don't want to go hunting for it now. lol)

Now put the chicken and broth on and bring it to a boil, then turn it down to simmer.

To make dumplings, you will need a cup or glass of cool water and two kitchen spoons, not measuring spoons, but what we call table spoons. Bigger than what you stir your coffee/tea with, probably a soup spoon elsewhere. Here's what to do: dip one spoon in water, dip it into the dough and come up with a lump of dough on your spoon. Now dip the second spoon in the water and use it to push the dumpling into the now simmering water. Keep dipping the spoons into the water before you go for the dumpling dough and they will slide right off the spoons.

When you have all the dough into the pot, cover the pot and set the timer for 10 mins. Listen to make sure it doesn't boil over - with the lid on, you may need to turn it down just a tad, but you do want it to be simmering. At the end of 10 mins, take the lid off and let it cook for another 10 minutes. Test a top dumpling. It should be light and fluffy. The inside should be cooked. If it's still gummy, let it cook a minute or two longer and it should be done. Also note that the top dumplings will be fluffy, but the dumpling underneath will just be clumps of cooked dough. Some people like the more solid dough a lot. We don't like them as much, so that's why I use two pans - even though I could get all the dough into one pot - even when it's a triple batch of dough.

When I do two pans of broth, I double or triple my recipe to have enough fluffy dumplings. So one batch of biscuit recipe should be enough for one pot of broth for normal people.


Chicken and yellow rice - VERY easy to make
meat from 2 thigh/leg quarters
6 cups broth (add water if you're a little short on the broth. Or water and bullion if there's no broth)
3 cups rice
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp Adobo
1 tsp salt

Measure broth and rice carefully! Too much of one affects how the rice will turn out!
Put the ingredients back in the big pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low (3 on mine on a scale of low to 9, 9 being the hottest), stir well, put a tight-fitting lid on the pot and set your timer for 14 minutes. DO NOT remove the lid, stir or otherwise mess with it. LEAVE it ALONE! When the timer goes off. STILL DO NOT remove the lid, stir or otherwise mess with it! Just take it off the heat and let it sit for 10 mins.

At the end of this time, you will have perfectly cooked rice, no sticking to the bottom of the pan, no undone rice and no soupy rice - unless you've either not measured carefully, don't have a tight-fitting lid or opened the pot. I've fixed rice like this for 30 years and the only time it has ever failed is when I've gotten lazy with measuring the broth or rice. This means getting to eye level with your measuring pitcher for the liquid and using a knife to scrape the excess rice off the top of the measuring cup instead of scooping and shaking the rice sort of level.

The turmeric will give the rice a nice yellow color.

I serve this with my Aji picante (Colombian salsa)that I posted before. (And if someone will tell me how to link back to that post, I'll gladly link it for everyone.)

Salsa Colombian style (Aji Picante)
6 Roma tomatoes, or 3 regular tomatoes, diced small
1 med onion, diced small
1 jalapeƱo pepper, minced
1 1/2 tsp salt
red wine vinegar
olive oil

Place in a medium size bowl and mix together tomatoes, onions and peppers. Add vinegar to 1 1/2" to 2" below vegies. Pour a 1/2"-1" layer of oil over all. Add salt and stir well. Use fresh.

Back to our chicken in the oven. When it's done, remove the meat from the bone. You may save the breast meat either in two halves or shred it. You can make another meal or two from this meat. Either chicken sandwiches, chicken salad or baked breast meat with potatoes/rice, vegies and bread or salad. You will also have meat from the wings and back, as well as scraps of meat from other parts. Save these for the next round of broth-making.

More Broth
Save the skin, bones and scraps from the chicken from the oven as well as any goodness on the bottom of the roasting pan. Do NOT add the liver, this will make the broth have too strong a flavor - unless your family is just crazy about the taste of liver. I've been known to add some water to that pan and "deglaze" it, then add that to the broth pot as part of the water. Add the ones from the thigh/leg quarters. Add a couple of carrots, not peeled, just broken into about 3 pieces, 1 onion, not peeled, just cut into quarters, 1 or 2 stalks of celery - again, just broken into 3 pieces. Place into a roasting pan or into your big pot and cover well with water. Add the usual cast of characters: salt, onion powder, garlic powder, Adobo and poultry seasoning. Place in the oven at 350 for a couple of hours, replacing the water as needful or place on stovetop and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for a couple of hours. (Can put this in the crockpot too!) At the end of this time period, you have a nice broth. Strain it (I just pour it into my colendar, with a bowl underneath it to catch the broth). Toss the bones, skin and cooked out vegies. You can either put it into a container overnight, remove the fat and use; or go head and use it. The fat will pool at the top and you can skim it off with a spoon.

Chicken noodle soup
Broth
Egg noodles
Bits of chicken from deboning the chicken
Anything else you'd like to add - shredded carrots, potatoes, cooked rice instead of noodles, diced celery, diced onions, etc.
Seasonings to taste

Put the broth, noodles and bits of chicken into the soup pot along with anything else you'd like to add. Bring to a boil and lower heat. Cook until the noodles are done. If using uncooked rice, make sure you use 1 cup of rice to at least 3 cups of broth, perhaps even 4 cups of broth. You want soup, not a pot of rice.


Chicken gravy

You can also use some of the broth to make gravy and shred some chicken into it. Serve it over rice, potatoes or bread.

For each cup of broth you want to make into gravy, add 3 tablespoons of flour to another bowl. Add just enough water to make a slurry. Pour the slurry into the hot broth and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. Adjust your seasonings.

Chicken Pot Pie
Gravy from above with some meat (or not)
pie crust, biscuit dough, corn bread dough, tortillas, mashed potatoes, etc. Enough for 1 or 2 crusts (one for top and one for bottom - if you want a bottom crust)
frozen mixed vegies
diced potatoes (see note below)

This is so simple. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Select your pan - pie plate, 9x13, cast iron skillet, casserole, whatever you want to use.
Mix gravy with meat and vegies. If you want a bottom crust, pat it into your chosen vessel, otherwise grease with your choice of stuff so you can get it out of the pan when cooked. Then pour the mixture into the pan. Top with whatever your using for a top crust. If a solid crust, cut a couple of small slits into it. Place your pan on a cookie sheet (to catch any overflows) and put in the oven for 30 minutes or so. You want to heat the food through and brown your crust.

All of these recipes can be frozen - unless you add potatoes to anything. I've heard that other people freeze potatoes, but I've never had good luck with the texture after doing that.

There you have it. One miracle with chicken.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Newly licensed - Thang #1

Okay. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I can now send the child to the store without me. On the other hand....MY BABY! What if she wrecks? What if she gets lost? Ok, so she won't get lost that easily - she's grown up around these parts. But, uhmmmm, she's not such a good driver yet. She forgets really important things like her blinker. She has a bit of trouble parking. Could all that only be because I'm in the car? Because I make her nervous? I make HER nervous??? I'm the one that used to be a paramedic. I KNOW what can happen with a car!!
And it's raining and she took her brother, Thang #2 ALL the WAY to Walmart - 16 miles from here! Without me.

Okay, breath, mom, breath. Hysterical moment over!

She's very responsible. She bought and paid cash for her own car last year. She's 18 1/2 and holds down a part-time job as a Customer Service Manager for the store where she works. She's still finishing up high school or she would be working full time. She even found a sale on a pair of name brand shoes for her brother. Regular price was $48 and with tax it came to $26 - cheaper than the cheap shoes at Wallyworld. She's been paying her own bills for about 2 years - except for a period when she couldn't find a job. She's never bounced a check on the account she's had since she was 15 1/2.

So why is my stomach in my throat? Could it be the severing of the ties? Now she can go and do without me. Now I'm not her ride any more. She's free to come and go as she wishes. Scary!

Update:
After buying Thang#2 some shoes, they went to their dad's house, ate pizza with dad, step-mom and Thang #3. Despite the hard rain which I had them wait out at dad's, they are now home safe and sound.

whew

I may not be cut out for this phase of life. lol

And we've all grown from the experience.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

EASY Fleece shrug (like a shawl, but with arms)

Ok, it's getting cold here in North Ga. The temp was 51 at 9:30pm. I'm not going to running the heater until I can't put it off any longer. We need to put on more clothes to keep warm. So what does that have to do with a shrug and what the heck is a "shrug" anyway?

A shrug is sort of like the sleeves of a shirt/sweater, without the body of it. It goes from one wrist, over the shoulders and down to the other wrist. It's meant to add some warmth to arms and shoulders without overheating the rest of you. Unlike a shawl, it won't slip off with movement. The "sleeves" stop that from happening.

While I'm up and moving, I HATE long sleeves. Normally, I go out in the snow without a jacket, sweater or coat. I overheat very easily and really prefer to be cooler than hotter. Unfortunately, as soon as the sun sets, especially when I sit at the computer or read, my body temp seems to drop and I get COLD. To the point of miserable, cold! My right hand will be icy in no time, my feet freeze (ok, perhaps I should put some shoes/slippers on once in a while. lol) and my arms are goosebumped.

I've knitted slippers for the feet and a fingerless glove for the hand. Tonight, I realized that even with shoes on, my arms were just cold but that the rest of me was fine.

I happened to look over at a pile of material that I've been going through making various napkins, feminine protection, wipes, hankies, etc and saw a piece of scrap fleece. I bought this remnant for about $2.00 at Walmart. It's a piece that's 21" long and 60" wide. All of a sudden I got a really bright idea.

I picked up that scrap, put it over my shoulders with the 60" side going from wrist to wrist. I used a pin to mark where the "sleeve" needed to stop so that I could get in and out of it. I did that for both arms. I then turned the material so that the wrong sides were together (the sides that want to "roll" inward is the "wrong side") and pinned near where I had marked the material for the "sleeve" to stop. I held the two "sleeves" together to make sure they were even. I then zig-zagged from the wrist end to where the pin was, making sure to backstitch both at the start and end of the stitching so that the stitching wouldn't come out. I stitched about 3/8" from the edge and sewed a seam 12" long - before I ended the stitching. I just used the same thread I had been using to sew some light-colored material. (This is a black background with bright dots on it.) I trimmed the threads and turned it right-side out and slipped it on. It's working GREAT! my arms aren't cold anymore. My torso isn't hot and I have freedom of movement. The wrist ends are rather baggy, not fitted at all. When it gets really cold, I may make the wrist end tighter, but I don't think I'm going to need to.

So the mental picture is a piece of material that is a rectangle and then it's sewn up on each side so that there is a sleeve, then an open, unsewn piece of material and then a second sleeve as one continuous piece of material and that's a shrug.

I'm very heavy, so the wider piece of material is needed to cover me. If you're thinner, you could probably get away with a piece of material that was only 16"-18" long and 60" wide. If you're a smaller person and the 60" makes the sleeves too long, trim the sleeves down a bit to fit.

It's taken me longer to type this up than it did to make the shrug. I don't think it took me 15 mins from the time I thought about doing it until I was wearing it. My kind of project!!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Beef and chili burritos

I had a college roommate whose family came to visit and made this delicious concoction for dinner. It is SO good. I don't make it much any more, my kids won't eat this either. I think this is another meal I'm going to go ahead and make for me, then freeze.

Beef and chili burritos:
1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1 onion dice and cooked with the meat - if using store-bought chili
1-2 cloves of garlic, also cooked with the meat - if using store-bought chili
2 regular cans of chili (I make my own and use 2 cups or so of it instead.)
1 can of mushrooms (really doesn't matter if it's the small or large can. One is 4 oz and the other is 8 ozs., so it will depend on how much you like mushrooms.)
1 can of black olives, sliced (Regular size can, not the little one.)
1 med onion, diced
1-2 tomatoes, diced
Shredded cheese - your choice. I usually use cheddar or jack
Sour cream
Splash of red wine vinegar (opt)
Flour tortillas - Burrito size

Brown meat and vegies if using canned chili. Drain, add chili, mushrooms and olives. Heat well on low. Place other ingredients in individual bowls to pass around as people make their own burritos.
Heat tortillas in microwave, covered with damp towel to keep warm.

When ready to make:
Place warm tortilla on plate. put 2 tablespoons of meat/chili mixture down center of tortilla. Add a tablespoon or two each of tomatoes, onion, shredded cheese and sour cream. Sprinkle with a little red wine vinegar. Fold ends up toward middle - about 1/3 each side. Then fold each side over about 1/3 to make an enclosed package. Now it's ready to eat. YUM-YUM!

My favorite vegetarian recipe

Several times a week I make vegetarian meals. At one point in time, I ate vegetarian all the time and this is the first "recipe" that I learned to make. It's pretty easy to make. I will admit that I don't measure anything with this, I just always "eyeballed" it. So the measurements are an approximation, but they really should be close. Adjust as you need to for your family and their likes (mine won't eat this. They also don't eat "chunks" in the sauce. That's why there's the real deal and then the powders - for the picky amongst us.)

Lentils and rice:
Lentils
Brown Rice
water, stock or bullion
Spaghetti sauce (I make mine homemade, but you could use store-bought sauce)
Grated cheese (whatever kind you like. Cheddar, Mozzarella, Parmesan, etc.)

How much of the ingredients you need depends on how many you're wanting to feed.

I would use 1 cup of lentils to 1/2 cups of brown rice and be eating this forever. Or you could make it and freeze it. (Seems like this was 1/2 a small bag of lentils and about 1/4 - 1/2 small bag of brown rice.) This would make about 3 1/2 cups of lentils/rice - without the spaghetti sauce.

Add liquid to more than cover it. I would add about 4 - 5 cups of water, stock or what have you to the lentils/rice and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cover it. I simmer it, stirring every 5 mins or so, for 45 mins, until the grains were tender. (Take a bite of both lentils and rice and see if you like how done it is.) If there was any liquid left I used to drain it off. Now I just use less water and watch the fluid level as it cooks.

While the lentils and rice cook, I make my spaghetti sauce, but don't add any ground beef and/or sausage to it.
Spaghetti Sauce:
28 - 36 oz can of tomato sauce, puree, diced tomatoes - whatever floats your boat
1 6 oz can of Tomato paste
1 6 oz can of water (from rinsing out the tomato cans)
1 onion, diced (size of onion depends on how much sauce and how much onion you like) and/or 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 -2 cloves of garlic, minced and/or 1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt (we don't use much salt at our house. Up it if you need to)
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp brown sugar (opt)
1 can black olives, broken into pieces or sliced (opt)
1 can mushrooms (opt)
1 tsp cumin (opt)

Saute the onions, if you're using them until they are soft. Then mix all the rest of the ingredients together. Bring to a soft boil, lower heat to low and COVER - unless you like wiping up tomato splatters from the stove and any surrounding areas! Let simmer until the lentils/rice are done.

Once the lentils/rice are done, drain any water from the pot and mix in spaghetti sauce to make a nice consistency. You want it to be moist, but not soupy - unless you just like a lot of sauce. If there's sauce left over, freeze it in serving size portions or put in ice tray for smaller cubes to add to eggs or burritos.

To serve:
We would just put the mixture in individual bowls and then cover the top with grated/shredded cheese. Personally, I like med. sharp cheddar best. You can also serve this with sour cream.
Add a green salad and perhaps some garlic toast. YUM. Shame my kids won't eat this. sigh. I think I'm just going to make me some and freeze in meal-size portions. My roommates and I sure did like this and it's cheap - if you don't add the olives and mushrooms.