Monday, November 24, 2014

Granny 101: Homemade Gravy

I don't like to brag, (Okay, I totally like to brag.) but this granny is known far and wide for making really great sauces and gravies.  It's only fair, because I can't bake worth a darn.  (Don't report that to the Granny's Union, or they might try to take back my card.)

I'm just surprised at how many people claim they can't make good gravy, because honestly, it's not rocket surgery.  But if you are one of those people, let me show you how it's done.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Some Befores and a Whole Bunch of Afters

It's been quite a while since Granny posted anything about painting, but in fact, Granny has been painting like a mad fool!  That's because Granny was asked to contribute some painted objects to the Annual Church Christmas Bazaar.

Granny's church lady friends have been very busy this year assembling a motley collection of -- to be brutally honest -- some very ugly wooden things from garage sales (or maybe just their garages), from thrift stores, and who knows where else...

In other words, MY SPECIALTY!

Quite the bizarre mix, no pun intended!  (Oh, okay.  It was totally intended.)  But if there is anything that a bit of chalk paint and dark wax can't dress up, I haven't found it yet!  Allow me to illustrate:

It all began with a couple of pegged wooden shelves with heart cut-outs.   "Can you just paint these black?" they asked.  Well, no I can't.  But I can paint them Graphite.  And distress them with sandpaper.  And gloss them up with a 50/50 mixture of dark and clear wax...

Next they asked, "Could you do something with this old toy cradle?

How about this grungy sports memorabilia shelf?"

Yet another heart-cutout pegged shelf,

a shapely, little candle holder,         

and a box for what purpose no one knows.

A small wooden mirror,

and a nautical-themed clock just begging for a transformation!

And finally, a distressed, little hutch with yet more heart cutouts,  

and an old-fashioned coffee grinder.

To tie it all together, I whipped up a collection of chalk painted Christmas tree ornaments using the same colors as some of the larger pieces.

I'm proud to say my work was much appreciated, nicely displayed and...

I can't wait for next year!

Retro Fabulous Trio of Deviled Eggs

When I was a kid in the 1960's, no party or family gathering was considered complete without a big plate of halved, cooked egg whites filled in the center with a paste made from mashed egg yolks, jarred mayo and hot dog relish.  I said it then, and I still say it today:    BLECCHH!

Fast forward a few (okay, more than a few) decades, and Deviled Eggs seem to be making a comeback of sorts.  I have seen them on the menu of many a chic, innovative, fine-dining restaurant, but today's Deviled Eggs have nothing in common with the mid-century monstrosities my mama used to make.  (And to that I say glory hallelujah!  Sorry, ma'am, but it's time someone told you.)

Today's deviled eggs come in dozens of delicious varieties, using any number of inventive modern ingredients, but no matter which direction you want to go, It all starts with perfect hard-boiled eggs.

Here's a fun fact:  stuffed eggs have been around forever, but the term "deviled" came into use in the 18th century when eggs were most often stuffed with mustard, pepper and other zesty ingredients.  The resulting spiciness was considered devilishly delicious.  Now you know.

To make one dozen each of my trio of deviled eggs you need 18 large hard-boiled eggs -- cooled, peeled, and sliced in half lengthwise.  Remove the egg yolks and divide them evenly into three small mixing bowls, six whole yolks per bowl.  Mash the egg yolks, and then add in the following ingredients to mix together three different fillings:

Filling #1
  • 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon of citrus vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard,
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried dill weed
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt

Filling #2
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Tabasco sauce
  • 1/4 cup of softened butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt

Filling #3
  • 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tablespoon of finely minced green onion
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon of finely minced fresh parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt

Spoon each of the fillings into a piping bag with a star tip, and pipe evenly into the center of 12 hard boiled egg white halves.  (If you don't want to bother with a piping bag, just spoon it in.  It's all good.)

Before arranging the filled egg halves onto a serving plate, you will want to garnish each flavor to differentiate one from the other (and also to make your dish look pretty.)  I like using a sprinkle of paprika on #1, a tiny spoonful of minced sweet gherkins on #2, and a slice of black or green olive on #3.

And then stand back and watch these things get eaten up like it's 1965.  Some things never go out of style.

Perfect Hard-boiled Eggs

We like hard-boiled eggs.  They are the basis for one of my family's favorite retro recipes:  a Trio of Deviled Eggs.

Sliced, they are one of my favorite ingredients to jazz up a simple dinner salad.  Blended, they can be used to thicken up a runny salad dressing.  Overcooked, they develop an ugly green ring around the yolk...

..and though it is harmless, it is also to be avoided.  So let me tell you how.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sneak Preview: Chalk Paint Ornaments

My church holds an annual Christmas bazaar that is kind of a big deal.  All year long, scores of church members make hand-crafted gifts and decorations to be gathered and sold on a single day.  Everything is lovely, creative, and crafted with love.

As for Granny?  Well, I was asked to refurbish a motley collection of thrift store and garage sale finds -- in other words, MY SPECIALTY -- into attractive gifts.  Using chalk paint, of course.  To see the full transformation, click here, but let me give you a little sneak preview of what I had to work with:

Meet  "The Befores"

If I may be permitted to brag just a little, I think I did a pretty nice job of turning this motley group of misfit tchotchkes into a cohesive Christmas collection.  No, really, I mean it!  But like I said, if you want to see more, click here.

While I was working on the above sundry, I had a great idea for making the collection more Christmas-themed:  hand-painted ornaments using the same Annie Sloan chalk paint colors as my refurbished items.  Arles, Antibes Green, Duck Egg Blue, Primer Red, and Aubusson Blue are the colors of my Christmas rainbow.

I started with a dozen or so paper mache forms I purchased for about a dollar apiece from a local craft store.

I chalk painted each ornament a different color, and then lightly brushed over the molded edges with a contrasting color or two.  (The sloppier, the better.  For this project, smudges and spots only add more beauty!)  Once all the paint was dry, I gave the ornaments an aged appearance by brushing on, then immediately wiping off, a 75/25 mixture of clear and dark wax.

I finished by "burnishing" the edges with a gold Sharpie marker.

This was some ridiculously fun and easy stuff, folks, but the results were spectacular!

I went one further step with the ornaments shaped like Christmas trees by adding colorful detail using...'re not going to believe this, but it's true...
... ordinary Crayola crayons!

And then I embellished each little crayon "ornament" with a gold Sharpie marker dot. 


Sunday, October 26, 2014

No Time to Cook

"We love your recipes, Granny, but we work and have kids and we don't always have time to cook.  Do you have any recipes for busy working moms like us?"

But of course!  Let me help you by showing you how to make...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Retro Fabulous Chicken Divan

If you live long enough, you learn that nothing goes out of style.  No food, no fashion, no philosophy -- no matter how fabulous, funky or even ill-advised -- ever goes away for good.

To paraphrase Heidi Klum, "One day you're in, the next day you're out," and twenty years later you're in again!

So today I'm sharing a recipe that was all the rage in the early 80's and is still relevant today.  It's tasty, economical, healthy and easy to make, often using leftovers.  Guys like it, kids like it... Well, I guess I've sold it enough.  Let's see how it's made.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

One-Skillet Leftovers Breakfast

This is one of my favorite ways to use up leftovers, especially leftover sauce from making my famous Homestead Company Chicken dinner.  All that is required is one skillet and whatever scraps of stuff you have in your fridge from previous meals.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fun in Frankenmuth

From time to time, GrandDad Fabulosa and I like to forget for a while that we are grandparents... homeowners... responsible adults... and sneak out of town for a little one-on-one time.  Where we go matters far less than just being alone together and having a little fun. This past weekend we hopped into the car and found ourselves heading up to Michigan.  Frankenmuth, Michigan, to be precise.

The town was founded in 1845 by a group of Lutheran missionaries from what was then the kingdom of Bavaria.  Their mission was "to bring the word of God" to the Chippewa tribal people.  Their settlement in the new world became Frankenmuth.

I've been to Bavaria, people, and if that's too far to travel, this little town is a pretty nice alternative.  Charming, colorful, and family-friendly.  What a super place to spend a weekend!

For starters, this is a great place to indulge in a little "retail therapy."  Everywhere you look are interesting shops:  quality woolen and leather goods, wines and spirits, jewelry, health foods, artisan candies and fudge, clothing, craft beers, toys... you name it.

Frankenmuth also boasts the world's largest year-round Christmas shop.

Like German food?  I do!  But Frankenmuth also has a long tradition of family-style chicken dinners.

As for GrandDad and myself, we enjoyed a hearty meal at the Bavarian Inn, established in 1888 as the Union House Hotel, now a Michigan historic site.  Our dinner included Frankenmuth's famous chicken along with sauerbraten, schnitzel, sauerkraut, potato puffs and stollen bread.  Es war himmlisch!

And the fact that it was served to us by a friendly, handsome young waiter wearing lederhosen was just a bonus.  For me, anyway.

We also attended a wine and chocolate tasting at a local winery.  Our favorite was the Peach and Honey wine.

And yes, it came home with us.  But not that waiter, more's the pity.  (Ach du lieber!)

Are there other things to do in Frankenmuth besides eat, drink and shop?  Ja, auf jeden Fall!

You could visit the local historical museum...

... or the brewery museum.

Take a ride through town in a horse-drawn carriage...

... or along the river aboard the Bavarian Belle.

My love and I had a wonderful getaway weekend in Frankenmuth, Michigan.  I recommend you check it out for yourself.  But before you do, heed this one bit of Granny's advice:

This post can also be seen at some great parties!
Check them out:
Link It or Lump It Party
Making Monday
Inspiration Monday
What'd You Do This Weekend?
Plucky's Second Thought
Twirl and Take a Bow
The Gathering Spot
Wednesday Whatsits
The Wednesday Roundup
Work It Wednesday
The Style Sisters Centerpiece Wednesday
Wow Me Wednesday
The Project Stash
Mommy Needs a Time Out
Paula's No Rules Weekend Blog Party
Fridays Unfolded
Family Fun Friday
Saturday Sharefest

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Homestead Company Supper or How Old-Timers Cooked Chicken

Back in the days of old, dear children... before the internets, before the Food Network, and EVEN before Julia Child dropped that turkey on PBS, recipes were passed from hand to hand by people who prepared food from memory, from experience, and from their hearts... and then tried to reduce all that to a 3x5 index card for their pals.

I remember one sweet, little old lady who knew how to bake the world's greatest sweet potato pie but didn't know how to read or write.  Although we begged her for the recipe, well... she couldn't oblige because there just wasn't one.  So one of us had the bright idea to invite her over to bake one of her pies while eagerly recording her every move.  It started out something like this:
"First you git y'self a saucer and you dip out about 3 saucers of flour..."
Yeah, that was the end of that idea.  I've never forgotten those glorious pies, though...

But I digress.  The reason I bring up old recipes is because I have one to share.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Men can't help it. They're born that way.

Today was a long day.  A fun day, but a long day.  Our daughter has been feeling under the weather, so to give her a break, GrandDad Fabuloso and I decided to take her little boy out for a day of fun so Momma could have a day of peace and rest.

First we went to a local park to play in their "children's discovery garden."  What a lot of fun that was, with water features, sand play areas, a topiary maze and an outdoor "music garden" with features that make cool sounds when children play there.  We had a difficult time getting him to leave, but...

Next we went to a nearby children's "hands on" science museum, where he saw live animals, rode simulated amusement rides on other planets, and learned how to pierce an ordinary balloon with a bamboo skewer without popping it.  (It freaked him out a little, but we're going to kill with that trick at the next family birthday party!)

Then on the way home, we found ourselves pulling into a food truck rally for a special treat.  They had so many tempting offerings:  authentic fish tacos, slabs of barbecued ribs, fancy gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, and tantalizing vegan dishes made from organic greens and squashes...  He had a hot dog.  He liked it.

Great day!  But Granny sure was tired!  Later at our house (sleepover!) Grandson asked if he could play with my Kindle for a while.  I keep all kinds of fun puzzles and educational games (and Angry Birds.  OKAY!  Also Angry Birds!) on my Kindle, and I encourage the kiddos to have at it.  This time the conversation went something like this:

Grandson:   Granny, can I play with your Kindle?
Me:              Okay, but Granny is tired, so you have to go get it yourself.  It's in my bedroom, on the
                     nightstand next to the bed.

After about five minutes of rustling around:

Grandson:    Granny, I can't find it.  Come help me?
Me:               Did you look in my bedroom....?
                     On the nightstand next to the bed....?
Grandson:    Yes, and it's not there.  Come help me?

So off I went, heaving my old, tired, garden-chasing, museum-going bones up those stairs, and I found my Kindle.  It was in my bedroom.  On the nightstand next to the bed.  EXACTLY WHERE I SAID IT WOULD BE!  I handed Grandson the Kindle, he said, "Thank you, Granny," and off he skipped, happy as a little bird.  And then suddenly it dawned on me:

Okay, I'm joking.  The thing I have learned from observing this and other baby boys throughout the years is that men are men from the day they are born.  I knew he was a man the first time I pulled a pair of his dirty socks from between my couch cushions.  And again the first time he passed gas in my face and chuckled like it was proof of his bodacious wit.  And all the times he walks around my house with his little box of toy tools looking for something to "fix."

So, what was I thinking, asking him to find something for himself?  He's a man; he couldn't find his own elbow if I drew him a map and had a neon sign pointing to it.  These guys are lucky they're adorable, because if they weren't, who in the world would put up with them?

As for this little man, God willing, I hope to live long enough to see him grow up.  I want to dance at his wedding.  And then I want to commiserate with his poor wife because he is going to drive her bat-plop crazy!

This post can be seen at some great parties.  Check them out:
Wow Me Wednesday
Showcase Your Talent Thursday
Mommy Needs a Time Out
Happiness is Homemade
What'd You Do This Weekend?
No Rules Weekend Blog Party
Kitchen Fun and Craft Friday Link Party
Freedom Fridays
Tutorial Thursdays Month-long Linky Party
Friday Favorites
Fridays Unfolded
Fabulous Friday
Eat. Create. Party
Saturday Soiree
SITS Sharefest
Link It Or Lump It Party
Inspiration Monday
Plucky's Second Thought
Sweet and Savoury Sunday

Saturday, September 6, 2014


I'll bet you can guess what's been in my CSA box lately.  'Tis the season for zucchini.  Lots and lots and lots of zucchini!  Don't get me wrong; it's one of my favorite vegetables.  I love...

  • slicing it horizontally into thin strips and marinating it in a little olive oil, garlic and lemon juice, and then grilling it ever so lightly.  Delicious!
  • grilling skewers of round zucchinii chunks, cherry tomatoes and onion wedges.
  • zucchini breads and muffins...

But what I really love is making zoodles,  Zucchini noodles.  Healthy, low-calorie, gluten-free... and really, really fun to make if you have one of these...

This is my spiral slicer.  There are many like it, but this one is mine.  My sprial slicer is my best friend.  It is my... oops.  Got carried away there for a second!

My slicer is a Paderno World Cuisine Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer that I bought off of Amazon for about 35 bucks, as a matter of fact.  And I like it.  

You most definitely can make zoodles without one.  (But what fun is that, I ask you?)

I'm not going to belabor this.  You pop a zucchini into the slicer, turn the crank, and watch the magic happen.  Children love to help with this, and what better way to get them interested in eating a vegetable?  (Just keep little fingers at the handle end and away from the blades.)

In no time at all, you've got a huge pile of perfectly-sliced -- and may I just point out, really pretty -- zoodles.

So, how do you cook these things?  Well, actually you don't.  I've tried lightly boiling them like noodles, and they just go all limp and soggy.  I recommend "warming them" in a pan with a bit of salt and a little butter.  Maybe some sauteed garlic.  Some fresh basil is really good.  A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese or whatever.

And voila!  This just might be the healthiest, tastiest and prettiest veggie side dish ever.  No, really.  You have to try this.  Granny says eat your zucchini.

This post can also be seen at some great parties.  Check them out:
Nifty Thrifty Sunday
Try a New Recipe Tuesday
The Gathering Spot
Twirl and Take a Bow
Wow Me Wednesday
The Wednesday Roundup
Work It Wednesday
Wednesday Whatsits
Full Plate Thursday
Showcase Your Talent
Kitchen Fun and Crafty Friday
Fabulous Friday
No Rules Weekend Blog Party
Freedom Fridays