Monday, March 13

Irish Corned Beef and Cabbage

A traditional St. Patrick's Day dish I make every year. 
But first, what is Corned Beef?
Corned beef is made from a beef brisket that is cured or pickled in Brine. Brine is salt water.

In North America, corned beef dishes are associated with traditional Irish cuisine. However, there is considerable debate about the association of the corned beef and cabbage dish with Ireland.

In the 1800's, corned beef was used as a substitute for bacon by Irish-American immigrants because it was cheap and considered a luxury in Ireland. Corned beef and cabbage is really the Irish-American version of the Irish dish of bacon and cabbage.

Wait, bacon and cabbage?!?!  Well, now that's on my list to make!

My son and his girlfriend waiting for the St. Patrick's Day parade

The Irish and Corned Beef
The Irish did produce a salted beef around the Middle Ages that was the "forerunner of what we today know as Irish corned beef" and in the 17th century the English named the Irish salted beef "corned beef."
And Ireland did produce a significant amount of corned beef that was sold and traded to other countries from local Irish raised cattle and imported salt. Coastal cities, such as Dublin, Belfast, and Cork, created massive beef curing and packing industries, with Cork producing half of Ireland's annual beef exports by 1668. But most Irish did not eat the corned beef produced in Ireland because it was way too expensive.

       

Some historians say it was not until the wave of 18th century Irish immigration to the United States that much of the ethnic Irish first began to consume the corned beef dishes we know today.
In today's Ireland, the serving of corned beef is geared toward tourist consumption and most Irish in Ireland do not identify corned beef dishes as a native cuisine.

Colcannon (boiled new potatoes mixed with boiled cabbage, leeks or onions, with added butter, milk and garlic) is more likely to be considered Ireland's national dish. Or possibly even Irish Stew. 


Click for info on St. Patrick's Day History

Tips and Suggestions:
  • You can add everything in the pot at once including the cabbage if you're going to be gone all day.
  • Carrots are optional and many times I do not add them.
  • Buying the brisket with the spice package is the easiest way to make this dish.
  • You can add a stout beer in place of the water, but I preferred water (and butter).


Typical package of corned beef 

Irish American Corned Beef and Cabbage

3 lbs corned beef brisket (plus the spice packet)
½ C. water
½ stick butter
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1 head cabbage, cut into wedges
4 to 6 medium potatoes, halved or quartered
Small pkg baby carrots or chopped carrots (optional)

Choose a nice round green head of cabbage

Directions:
Add water and cubed butter to the crock post.  Set crock pot temperature on high. 
Rinse off the corned beef brisket (if spice is packaged separately) and then place in a crock pot. Sprinkle the spice packet over the brisket. Add onion and garlic, potatoes and carrots.
Cook 2 hours on high temperature then reduce heat and cook 4 to 6 more hours.
While corned beef is cooking, stir a couple times to mix all ingredients with the spices.

Cut cabbage into wedges and remove core


1 to 2 hours before serving, wash cabbage and then cut into 4 to 6 wedge pieces. Cut out cabbage core. Pull apart wedges and place pieces in the crock pot. Even with a larger crock pot, the pot will be crowded. That's OK, the cabbage cooks down pretty fast. 


Stir all ingredients and cabbage together as cabbage cooks. 
Cook for 1 to 2 more hours or until cabbage is wilted and tender.
Serve in a large bowl with a side of horseradish sauce and a stout beer,  if desired.

PRINT RECIPE 

A good combination on St. Patrick's Day




My daughter on St Patrick's Day
Happy St. Patrick's Day, may the luck of the Irish be with you always,

Elizabeth

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Me and St. Patrick at the Irish Family Reunion




Thursday, February 23

The Longest Yard Sale in the World

The 127 Yard Sale
The weather has been in the 60's here in Ohio and spring is in the air so yep, I'm daydreaming about gardening and yard sales!!

The World's Longest Yard Sale is also known as The 127 Yard Sale or The 127 Corridor Sale and is a 4-day event every year. The dates are always the first Thursday of the month of August, from Thursday to Sunday.  And that's 4 whole days of yard sale heaven!
If you are a yardsaler, antiquer, flea-marketer, thrift store shopper or anything in-between, you will love this!
The 127 Yard Sale covers 690 miles of sales, through six states, from Addison, Michigan to Gadsden, Alabama and boasts thousands of vendors every year.
And it's even been featured on HGTV!

History Of the 127 Yard Sale:
This original fantastic idea came from a Tennessee county executive named Mike Walker and was established in 1987. When it began, the sale route was much smaller and only followed US 127 from Covington, Kentucky, to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
But by 2012, the 127 Yard Sale route had extended all the way to north of Addison, Michigan, totaling an approximate end-to-end distance of 690 miles.

There are numerous farm fields full of vendors along the route

My husband and I have been doing the 127 Yard Sale for only a few years and really enjoy it. Some years my daughter and her boyfriend join us too. It's always more fun with others along to share the excitement of finding great deals. And believe me, there are some great finds, good deals and treasures but also lots of junk. But isn't that why we do it, for the hunt??
So far, we have driven through Ohio, Michigan, and Kentucky, going a different direction each year. 


It's a lot of walking so wear your most comfortable shoes!

Whole entire towns set up for the sale so you can park and just walk up and down main street (and some side streets too) for the sales.

Many farms rent out large fields for multiple vendors to set up.
And flea markets along the route are open with tons of vendors.

And there's usually community groups like churches or boy and girl scouts set up along the route selling homemade food, cookies, and drinks, etc.


Tips and Suggestions:
We learned our lesson on our maiden trip, so now we book a hotel or campsite for stopping for the night. We then usually drive until exhausted the second day and drive home.  
You may not be able to even find a hotel room or campground space available, so plan your route and book ahead.

Make sure to bring a large enough vehicle to haul all your finds! We ended up strapping a commercial grade stainless steel table (we bought 2) and a king oak bed to the top of our van the first year because the van was so stuffed. We've taken our pick-up the last couple years.  

Our van was too full to fit this stainless steel table.

I strongly advise taking a cooler with ice, water and drinks, lots of snacks, your cell and charger (you'll want to text everyone about the treasures you find!) and overnight bag. There are diners and restaurants in the larger towns but they're usually really crowded so bring sandwiches or other food.

Now that's a lot of yard sales!!

It's also very warm in August especially in the southern states so make sure to drink plenty of fluids, dress in cool loose clothing and rest when possible.

And take lots of cash. Cash because these are yard sales, no one takes cards unless it's a store.


Yard saling can be hot, dusty and sweaty so bring along a pack of disposable wipes. You'll thank me.

We bring along cloth bags, cardboard boxes or a tote or two to put small items in so they don't slide around in the car. Books are always on my list and those end up everywhere if not in a container. 

And again, just to remind you, all hotels are full. You may not be able to find a room so plan your route and book ahead.


There is a printable checklist of things to take with you:  Checklist
And here's a website for Lookout Mountian, where the 127 Yard Sale first began.

Don't think you have to do the entire route. We usually don't even go 100 miles in one day, there are so many sales it's impossible to stop at them all and get very far. Yes, there's that many. 

Below are a couple things we found last year: An adjustable dress form for my craft room for $13.00 
and a vintage receiver for $5.00 for my husband's mancave and his rock and roll music. (Yes, that's my handsome hubby)

            



Wishing you a beautiful Spring, a great gardening season and good luck at yard sales. Get your trip planned and I'll see you along the route!

Elizabeth


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Friday, February 17

Texas State Flag Quilt

Click the photo to view larger.  
My daughter Jami and her husband Donnie and the kids moved to Texas for a job in 2009. I hate that they're so far away (I'm in Ohio) and that I don't get to see them much. But we have taken numerous trips to Texas and we think it's a nice state to visit. We've even been to the Dealey Plaza and the Grassy Knoll in Dallas.

I have been making quilts for family members for the last year so decided to make Jami and Donnie one for Christmas gift.

I searched Pinterest for ideas and knew as soon as I saw it that the Texas State Flag would be the perfect quilt for them. And besides, patchwork is my favorite quilt pattern.  I always seem to be drawn to it the most, even before making quilts myself. Of all the quilts I've purchased over the years, I have the most of the Patchwork pattern. It just feels very homey to me and very “usable.”

I used 4-inch squares for this quilt (cut at 4 1/2 " for seam allowance)

I did not have a pattern so to make the quilt I first needed to figure an approximate size. I say approximate because my quilt sizes are never exact. For example: If I strive for a 60 x 90 it may end up as a 64 by 92, depending on the size of the border, the pattern used, the binding, etc.
For the Texas State Flag Quilt, I decided on 80 x 100 quilt, using a patchwork pattern, which is numerous squares sewn together.
Remember, each square has to have an extra ½ inch added for seam allowance, and although some do and some don't, I iron all my seams flat.

Rows laid out to make sure no two squares of the same fabric were touching

I also number the rows so I remember which one to sew together next

I chose many different prints of fabrics for each color and also laid out many rows at a time to make sure there are no matching squares next to each other. And numbering the rows helps a lot. 

What I Did:

Red Section:
I used 150 – 4-inch squares (cut at 4 ½ ) to make a 40” by 60” section. That's 10 -four-inch squares across and 15 -four-inch squares down.

Cream Section:
I used 150 – 4-inch squares (cut at 4 ½ ) to make a 40” by 60”section. That's 10 -four-inch squares across and 15 -four-inch squares down.

Rows are sewn together

Blue Section:
The squares for the blue section are 20 – four-inch squares (cut at 4 ½ ) across and 10 -four-inch squares down, (cut at 4 1/2  inch) leaving a space to add the wonky star.

My scribbles and wonky star designs on paper

Now here's where it gets tricky, making the star.

Wonky Patchwork Star:
The Texas state flag has a star in the center of the Blue section. I decided to make what is called a “Wonky Patchwork Star.“ It was the first time trying it and it wasn't as easy as I thought it would be.

To make the star, I first drew a wonky star on paper, then used it to cut the star out of fabric. The star is cut out of different patterns of fabric stacked on top of each other. You then chose one piece from each fabric of cut out stars and sew them together to make a wonky patchwork star.

Wonky Star cut out of multiple fabrics then patchwork pieced back together

After making the star, (I practiced, making three or four) I added a border. My star ended as a 12 ½ ” by 12 ½ ” square once I added the border.

Wonky Star is sewn together

I then started sewing all the blue squares together, making sure to add the Wonky Patchwork Star in the middle of the blue section.  The Wonky Star replaced 16 of the blue squares. 

Adding the Wonky Star to the blue section

Once all three sections were finished, I sewed them together.

For the backing, you can use one of the fabrics you used in the quilt front so it ties together or use multiple fabrics to make a design. I like my quilt backing to have a design.

Quilt  backing design 

For the top stitching, I take it to a local lady who has a huge longarm machine. I chose a stitching that has stars and what reminds me of barbed wire. Perfect for this Texas State Flag quilt.

Top stitching of stars and "barbed wire" 

The finishing touch was, of course, a quilt label.
For directions on making a quilt label go here: How to Make a Quilt Label

Quilt Label

This is one of my favorite quilts I have completed so far. Truthfully, I say that every time I finish one, but I mean it this time, at least until I make the next one..........

Elizabeth

Finished Texas State Flag Quilt





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Quilt folded and ready to pack to mail to my daughter



Monday, February 13

Best Ever Monster Cookies

I make these cookies for different holidays, so this week, they're for Valentines Day!

Monster Cookies are not new and the recipes for making them are endless. Probably 95% of my cookies are homemade, but sometimes you just need a quick and easy recipe. 
I decided to come up with my own version of Monster Cookies which are easy and great to throw together when we have unexpected visitors or to serve at club meetings or any other last minute function I need to take something to.
For me, there will always be room in my recipe collection for a few super easy and fast recipes for busy days.

They're called Monster Cookies, I believe, because it's easier than saying “peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal M & M super yummy cookies!”

Besides easy, did I mention they're a wonderful tasting soft chewy moist delicious cookie?

Monday, January 9

The Mercantile

A few years back I received The Pioneer Woman's first cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, as a gift for Christmas. 
I love it and have since bought for myself or received as gifts all her other cookbooks!
The Pioneer Woman or Ree Drummond also has her own blog and recently opened a shop called The Mercantile in her hometown of Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Ree and her husband Ladd purchased an old red brick building in downtown Pawhuska and she had it completely remodeled.  And the results are stunning. I just love old red brick buildings and am always so happy to see them rescued from demolition.

According to The Pioneer Woman's website, the building was originally a mercantile beginning in 1910 and was known as the Osage Mercantile.
It was a place for trading goods and browsing. Ree and her family wanted to honor that legacy by recreating that shopping experience with hints to an earlier time in small town America.