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Thursday, October 26, 2023

Thursday Threads

Fall has finally come to far north Texas, and you can see how the tree behind the shed is just now starting to give a hint of color. We received 3.20 inches rain yesterday, and by next Monday temperatures will be in the 30s at night - makes me so happy.

In the sewing room, my sister-in-law's butterfly quilt is sandwiched and ready to quilt (after I get those pesky wrinkles smoothed out).

I had leftover triangles from the butterfly quilt, and I made some HSTs. Here is one potential design as I decide what to do with them.

Five minutes after I shot the HST photo, Toby decided it was his bathtub.

This squirrel-spiration was found on Jocelyn's post the other day in her link to Susie calls it the "Sixteen Across" quilt block, and it is a simple sixteen-patch block made with 2-1/2 inch light and dark squares that create a diagonal design. I decided to use up some Christmas scraps to make a few and see how it looks. I like it! If you squint you can see the diagonal in mine. My light and dark squares probably need to be more strongly valued (is that a thing?) but at this point I just want to use up those scraps. It's nice to just sew without reading a pattern or struggling with fabric selection.

At night I've been crocheting a scarf. Back in 2016 I bought 3 skeins of  I Love This Yarn in Painted Canyon. It was a time in my life when I was very unsure about the future, and the yarn and crochet offered me an odd comfort. I stitched a few nights, then put it away and forgot all about it until a few weeks ago when I was rearranging my yarn closet. I'm enjoying the Moss Stitch on this one - doesn't take too much attention away from TV!

Gus (aka Gussy, Gustopher and Baby) the sweet black kitty
This little guy has taken up a lot of my time, trying to help him feel comfortable and safe in his new environment. The other kitties are trying to make friends with him, but he still hisses a bit. I leave the door open to his space a little more each day, and he actually seems very happy. Can a cat be happy? If they can, I think this one is!

Our 54th anniversary was this week, so we celebrated early last Friday at the local Texas Roadhouse, then headed home for this dessert - brown sugar apple pie. I actually use both kinds of sugar in it, but I like the brown sugar name better - lol! Here is the recipe if you'd like to try it:

Brown Sugar Apple Pie
4-5 cups apples, sliced thin (Granny Smith, Braeburn, Honey Crisp, or any variety of your favorites)
1/2 cup salted butter*
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
Heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 9-inch double pie crust
*If you use unsalted butter, add 1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425°. Prepare pie crust dough for 9-inch double crust.

Melt butter in saucepan, add flour and stir to form paste, cook a couple minutes over low heat. Add sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and water, whisk until smooth, and bring to boil. Add apples, lower heat, and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. (Sometimes I add a half teaspoon maple flavoring too.)

Roll out and place bottom crust in pie pan. Add apple mixture. Roll out top crust and place on top of apples. Crimp edges and cut slits or shapes in several places.

Bake at 425° for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 350°. I place mine on the lowest rack of the oven. It seems to cook the apples better and the crust edges don't brown as quickly. I also place foil on the crust edges about 30 minutes into the bake, to keep from browning too much. Bake until apples are tender and juices are bubbling through crust. Mine is in the oven about an hour total. Place on wire rack to cool.

I hope your week is is going well and that you are looking forward to a great weekend!
Thursday, October 12, 2023

Thursday Threads

I enjoyed this sunrise several days ago
It has been awhile since I wrote an I Like Thursday post. Thanks to LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color, for her encouragement to look for things we like! Her links to additional bloggers and their I Like Thursday posts are right here. This is a long, photo-heavy post, so if you like, just look at the photos!

SLC, a common term describing "scary looking clouds!" These only contained rain and lightning
I like this October weather! We had rain, then it got down in the 40s last week and is supposed to again this coming weekend - woo-hoo!

I like my "new" old Club Ware aluminum pot. My Mom had one just like this one, and the best pot
roasts were made in it. I was "watching" one on eBay and got an offer from the seller I couldn't refuse.

Although many would say it's too soon, I like Christmas displays! We found this one
last week at Home Depot, and I'm sure Hobby Lobby and other stores have followed suit.

I liked spending time at soccer practice with Delaney. And we will get to keep Laney
and Everett a couple nights this weekend while Jenni and John go on a weekend trip!

Our new black kitty Gus, with Toby creeping around the corner to meet him.
Meet our newest kitty Gus, named after my favorite Lonesome Dove character - Augustus "Gus" McCrae. I've been spending an enormous amount of time helping this sweet little guy adjust to the good life, after being a street cat that I have been feeding whenever he showed up for two years. In August he finally allowed me to pet him, and last Friday we made the decision to bring him inside before winter. He is so sweet and shy but brave, and so far tuxedo Toby is his favorite of the other four cats.

Leeanna recently provided some interesting prompts related to our favorite spices and herbs, so here we go!

Most used spices or herbs
My favorite baking spice is cinnamon, followed closely by nutmeg. I buy whole nutmeg and grate it with a microplane. Favorite cooking spices and herbs are garlic (both fresh and powder), basil (fresh and dried), smoked paprika, and cumin. I like spice blends like Everything Bagel and like Wendy, I like to sprinkle it on my hummus. My husband bought a big jar at Sam's made by Einstein Bros, but I prefer the blend from Spice House. I used to buy Penzey's spices and used them frequently in my catering, but when they made me feel unwelcome a year or so ago, I was one of 40000 folks they lost as a customer. But the bonus of that was finding Spice House, and I love their spices and buy them in "flatpacks", which are shipped free. I also purchase spices and herbs from Trader Joe's and Walmart.

Sits next to the stove and frequently used!
Special containers
I purchased some pretty glass containers on Amazon, and Hubs made a special spice rack for the counter so everything is handy. Sometimes I just use the container it came in, especially if it is Trader Joe's! 

Herbs I grow
Basil is almost always in the garden. Although I fail to use it very often, I do like to pick a leaf and smell it! Rosemary is another favorite, and I love to use it in homemade bread. I haven't grown any since we lived in south Texas, where it was pretty much perennial and grew into a small bush. It is included in my garden plans for next spring.

An unusual herb I enjoy
Maybe it isn't very unusual, but I love cilantro. In my experience people either love it or hate it. My mother hated it and said "it smells like a stinkbug" - lol! I buy a bunch in the produce section, cut about a half inch off the ends, and store it in water in the fridge, loosely covered with a plastic bag. I love to snip it into salsa, salads, guacamole, and soups. I change the water every few days, and it lasts about two weeks, then I throw the remains with the water into the garden.

Spices and herbs used when I was growing up
Mom used Lawry's Seasoning Salt, and that was when it still contained MSG. She was quite adept with the shaker, and everything she made was delicious to me. I think she used garlic salt too. I buy the low salt version of Lawry's (no MSG) and garlic powder instead of garlic salt. Like Helen's Mom, my Mom sprinkled paprika on her deviled eggs, and she made some kind of really good noodle dish with the name "paprika" in it. My cousin Weezey had never heard of paprika and couldn't remember the word so she repeatedly asked Mom to "make those Puerto Rico noodles" every time she visited.

My Granny used nutmeg in her old fashioned sugar cookies (recipe here on my old blog), so I grew up loving it. It is my favorite cookie spice. Mom used whole cloves when she baked ham, and she covered it with them. I used to like cloves, but for some reason I no longer care for the taste, so I do not buy pumpkin spice to use in pumpkin pie but instead use cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and sometimes a bit of cardamom.

Ethnic foods I like, and do I make any of these at home
Mexican is always my choice for a restaurant! Our favorite Mexican restaurant is Lupe Tortilla and our favorite in south Texas was Guadalajara. My husband gets the same thing every time - beef enchiladas covered with chile gravy and cheese, but I like to branch out and try some of the "specials" (even though I'm usually full of a frozen margarita, chips, queso, and salsa!). My favorite entrees almost always contain chicken, avocado, and roasted poblano peppers, and I love fish tacos with either grilled or lightly fried fish.

I have recreated my husband's favorite enchiladas and a really good queso by using
this cookbook by Sylvia Casares, the owner of popular Tex-Mex restaurant in Houston.

If you've stuck with me this far, let me know what kind of spices/herbs you like in the comments!