Quiet Today…

Today Monday September 19th should be a quieter day here because of the Queen’s funeral and it being a bank holiday here in the United Kingdom.

We stocked up on picnic supplies to enjoy in our apartment today during the funeral televised on the major channels here.

Grocery stores are closed today. Some of the other businesses will have open hours today. We are going to have an off day today just relaxing in our apartment, eating up what we have on hand. Curious as to what we purchased? Well let me tell you anyway. We have a beautiful loaf of Rosemary Sour Dough bread we purchased at the amazing Gail’s Bakery. We have a lovely Pear tartlet and Strawberry tart with custard we purchased at Paul Bakery. We have salami, cheese, olives & feta combo, avocado, grapes, tomatoes purchased at Sainsbury. We won’t starve.

Later I’ll share about the nice Sunday we had worshipping at a church service here in Oxford and our other Sunday experiences.

Raclette for a Worthy Cause

I managed to take a few photos of the Raclette Meal in progress. We served Steak, Shrimp, Asparagus, Red Bell Pepper strips, Mushrooms, Thinly sliced Onion, Pickles, Cheese, Boiled Potatoes, bread and butter. It was up to our guests what they would cook on the top of the grills and melt in the individual melting pans that fit under the grill. The usual item placed below the grills is the cheese or something else cooked with a little butter like mushrooms.

For dessert I served the Strawberry Ice Cream Cake that I posted the recipe for on Wednesday Hodgepodge.

The Raclette Meal was a hit and it was a first for all 6 guests. This was a meal that we offered up for an auction item at our church to raise money over and above our usual monthly support for our missionaries to the Ukraine. The couple that won the bid donated $450.00 for this meal for them and 4 of their guests. We enjoyed serving them. The Missionary Auction brought in $16,000 from items donated by our church members and then bid on by people in our church.

This week I’m very busy both helping out by watching the grands during the day and then in the evenings helping with our Vacation Bible School which runs from 6pm until 8:30. I won’t have much leisure time for visiting blogs. I’ll visit when I can.

A Quartet of Sisters Hodgepodge

It’s Wednesday and time for the Hodgepodge questions this first week in August! Thank you to Joyce From This Side of the Pond!

1. Do you have a sister? Tell us something about her. If you don’t have a sister, tell us about a friend who has been like a sister. Or tell us about a sister-in-law if you have one who is extra special. 

I have 3 sisters and 4 brothers. My sister-in-laws are extra special, too. The photo above is of us sisters in age order, youngest on the left and oldest on the right.

My oldest sister Kathy is a gifted teacher. Vera has the gift of hospitality. Lana is an amazing organizer. We all challenge each other to follow Jesus closely. We all sing and have sung in choirs, trios, duets or in a ‘rock’ band. We all can cook for a crowd.

2. Resister, assister, insister, persister…choose one of the words listed and explain how it relates to you and your life lately. 

Right now since I’m working on dropping unwanted pounds I would say I’m a resister. It’s interesting what a great resister I am in the morning up until about 3pm and then it gets tougher for me to resist so I switch to insister, telling my brain I do not need to have this or that as it will derail my plan. I’m working on some healthier eating habits, too. I want to be able to walk in England in September without huffing and puffing and sweating more than I need to because of excess weight.

3. Share a favorite song, book, movie, or television program that features sisters.

How timely as we pulled out BBC version of Pride and Prejudice on Monday evening and are watching all the episodes again with the 5 sisters who are all quite different from each other.

4. August 3rd is national watermelon day…are you a fan? ~ Yes

Do you like watermelon flavored candy?  NO

Besides eating the melon as is, do you have a good recipe made with watermelon? 

This Watermelon Cucumber Salad is perfect for a summer get together.

5. ‘Tis August…what are three things you’re looking forward to this month.

Our Coast kids are hopping over for a long weekend visit, Addy starts soccer this month so I’ll enjoy watching on the sidelines, and I’ll be helping a little with Vacation Bible School.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

I’m making this dessert again this week for a dinner we are having here on Saturday evening. It has a few steps but is pretty easy to make. It’s a dessert you can make a few days ahead. I think it would easily serve 10-12 people. I’ll give you the link so you can see how much prettier you can make it look with whip cream and fresh strawberries on top. I only used a large carton of good Strawberry Ice Cream. My carton was not 1/2 gallon so my version is not as tall as the showstopper…

I used vanilla wafers and regular Strawberry Ice Cream.

To see the showstopper version of this cake and get the recipe click below!

You can find the recipe here.

It’s called Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Cake because she used Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream. I call mine Strawberry Ice Cream Cake since I didn’t find the shortcake version of ice cream to use. It is not overly sweet. Hopefully I’ll remember to take a photo of the cake decorated with whipped cream and Strawberries on Saturday.

Sweet and Salty Snack

This sweet and salty snack is hard to resist. The ingredients are few and the method is simple. This is also a Gluten Free recipe.

1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup peanut butter
1 package of corn chips (10-1/2 oz.)

Prepare a 15 x 10 sheet pan lightly greasing it. Distribute the corn chips evenly in the pan.
In a medium sized pot cook the sugar and corn syrup until it bubbles and the sugar is completely dissolved. Take pot off stove top and blend in the peanut butter. Pour the blended sugar, corn syrup, peanut butter mixture over the corn chips evenly. Let it cool and enjoy!

Since it’s summer and we are in a heat wave this recipe that requires no baking is a good one to try.

Nadia’s Kulich and Seernaya Paska

What many of you call Paska we call Kulich. This is my mom’s Russian Easter Bread Recipe that I quartered because the amount she would make is quite daunting for me. We have cut it in half in years past. Now what you need to know about my mom and recipes is that she ends up tweaking them from year to year so this recipe is for her Kulich from 2001. I have a 2009 and 2012 recipe, too. This one was easier to quarter. Here’s the link to the original. My dear mom passed away from this earth in September of 2013 so I cherish her tweaked recipes.

Ingredients:

2 packets rapid rise yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup lukewarm milk
1 teaspoon sugar

4 egg yolks
1 egg
1-1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup half and half
1/2 ounce apricot brandy
1-1/2 teaspoons powdered vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
Zest of half a lemon
About 2-1/2 pounds of flour, sifted (about 7 cups)
Vegetable oil to coat the rising dough

6 to 7 one pound or two pound cans for baking. You can use loaf pans or large muffin tins if you don’t have the cans to bake them in.

Add yeast to the lukewarm water and milk and sugar in a stainless steel bowl. Make sure the liquids are lukewarm. Let this mixture dissolve and sit.

Beat the egg yolks and egg together.
Cream the butter and sugar in the large bowl of a stand-up mixer.
Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture slowly mixing to combine and then beat to incorporate well.
Mix the half and half with the whipping cream and heat until lukewarm, not hot, and slowly incorporate into the creamed mixture.
Mix in the vanilla and brandy.
Add the yeast mixture and the salt and beat with a mixer.
Continue beating and add the lemon zest.
Continue beating and add the sifted flour about a cup at a time.
Once you cannot beat the dough any longer using the mixer, put the dough on a floured surface and start incorporating the remaining flour by kneading the dough.
The dough should be kneaded very well, approximately 10 minutes.
You should knead the dough until you can cut it with a knife and it is smooth without any holes.
Place the dough in a stainless steel bowl. Take some oil and pour a little on the dough and spread it all over the dough. Make sure to turn the dough so it is coated evenly.
Cover with plastic wrap right on the dough and a dish towel on top of that.
Place in a warm place away from drafts to rise. (My sister usually puts it into the oven that has been warmed slightly.

It is now time to prepare the coffee cans (1 lb. and 2 lb. cans are the best) Cut circles the size of the bottom of the cans out of wax paper. You will need four circles per can. Make sure the cans are well greased. Put the 4 circles in the bottom of the cans.

Use a empty and clean coffee can like the ones above. If there is a label make sure to take it off. If the can has a lip at the top you’ll need to use a can opener to cut the lip off the can. I hope these pictures will make the process easier to understand.

Cut sheets of wax paper long enough to line the sides of the can and tall enough to be 2″ above the rim of the can. Use Crisco to seal the ends of the paper.

When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn it over.
Let it rise a second time until it doubles in size. Punch it down again.
Now the dough is ready to put into the prepared cans.
You will take a portion of dough about 1/3 the size of the can. Knead it and form it into a smooth ball that you can easily drop into the can.

Let the dough rise again inside the can until it is at least double in size.

Bake in a 350 degree oven until golden brown on top.(approximately 30 minutes or more depending on your oven.)

Let them cool slightly in the cans. Remove them from the cans and then cool completely standing up. Some people cool them on their sides turning them often to keep their shape. We found this time that they cool just fine and keep their shape standing up so we didn’t bother with that step!

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To go with this bread my mom always makes a wonderful sweet cheese topping that is formed in a mold in different shapes. For my mom’s Sernaya Paska (cheese spread) recipe click here.

We like to serve the kulich with the spread and strawberries.

This blast from the past was probably our first Easter in Washington State, 1989.

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I’m not sure if I’ll be trying this Kulich/Paska recipe quartered at the end of this week. I’ll let you know if I do and how many coffee can shaped loaves it makes. We got seven loaves out of this recipe although we shorted some of the cans.

Are you preparing for Easter?

Sweet and Salty Snack

This sweet and salty snack is hard to resist. The ingredients are few and the method is simple. This is also a Gluten Free recipe depending on the corn chips you purchase.

1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup peanut butter
1 package of corn chips (10-1/2 oz.)

Prepare a 15 x 10 sheet pan lightly greasing it. Distribute the corn chips evenly in the pan.
In a medium sized pot cook the sugar and corn syrup until it bubbles and the sugar is completely dissolved. Take pot off stove top and blend in the peanut butter. Pour the blended sugar, corn syrup, peanut butter mixture over the corn chips evenly. Let it cool and enjoy!

Best enjoyed soon after making it.

Creamy Pear Bake

Our internet is acting weird right now so I’ll have to postpone posting some great photos from our family weekend. We are having a wonderful time and enjoying so many great photos from Auntie Lolo. In the meantime here’s a recipe to enjoy. Happy President’s Day Weekend here in the USA and Happy Family Day in Canada!

This is a simple recipe with a nice creamy result. If you really enjoy creamy, you can serve it with ice cream or whip cream, too.

Creamy Pear Bake

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups cored and sliced fresh pears ( I did not peel mine but you could if you prefer)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Topping:

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Prepare a medium sized baking dish.
  3. Mix sugar, flour and salt.
  4. Gently toss and incorporate this mixture with the pears.
  5. Mix the sour cream and extracts together.
  6. Add this mixture to the pears and gently toss till incorporated.
  7. Pour into the prepared baking dish.
  8. Mix the topping ingredients till crumbly.
  9. Dot the top of the pear mixture with the topping.
  10. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the topping is browned and mixture is bubbling.

Stepping Back 100 Years!

We have some very talented people at our church who can transform a gym into a great themed venue. Others come up with a menu and cook and serve a nice dinner with dessert to 90 of us. The cast of the murder mystery did a great job, too. We had to find out who killed Chuckles and how they did it. There were several puzzles to solve to get more clues. One table of 8 got all the answers correct and won gift cards to small businesses in our town.

At ‘Carossino’s’ in ‘Chicago’ we enjoyed Cherry Spritzers, a plated salad, cheesy bread, stuffed shells, meatballs with sauce and a lovely triple dessert.

To get into Carossino’s for the evening we walked through a back alley (a transformed hallway in our church) through a phone booth with a false door. We knocked on the false door and were ready with our password to gain entrance.

Photo fail…I forgot to get a photo of the back alley and phone booth!! If photos from our church get posted I’ll ‘borrow’ some to add to this post. Many of the 90 of us were dressed for the 1920’s era.

By the way, it was Blondie who killed Chuckles.

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!

Butter Pecan Ice Cream Pie

This is a make ahead dessert that will finish off any meal well. It’s rich and creamy with a nice crunch. Quick and easy to prepare but it needs a good three hours to set well before serving.
~
Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 lightly baked 9-inch pie shell
  • 1-1/2 cups cold milk
  • 1 cup Butter Pecan Ice Cream, softened
  • 1 package (6-serving) instant pudding-vanilla flavor
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Combine brown sugar, butter and nuts in saucepan and heat until the butter is melted.
  3. Pour this mixture into the lightly baked pie shell and bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes, cool.
  4. Blend milk and ice cream in a medium sized bowl thoroughly.
  5. Add the pudding mix to the blended ice cream and milk.
  6. Beat slowly at lowest speed of electric mixer until blended for one minute.
  7. Pour immediately into prepared and cooled pie shell.
  8. Chill in refrigerator until set, approx. 3 hours.
  9. Garnish with whipped cream and additional nuts, if desired.
  10. Serves 4-8 depending on appetite or sweet tooth.

I posted this back in 2016 on the MGCC Blog and wanted to include it on my own.

You can choose a different flavor of ice cream for this recipe.

Baking and Snowmageddon!

For Katie’s birthday Addy and JJ helped me mix up the cake.

Thank you to Laura for capturing the moments.

Macarons ~ a small round cake with a meringue-like consistency, made with egg whites, sugar, and powdered almonds and consisting of two halves sandwiching a creamy filling.

Our son Dan surprised us all with his perfected Macarons for us to try. They were amazing!

We had our first snowstorm of 2022 starting late Sunday night into Monday the 3rd of January. It snowed all day on Monday. We shoveled off the deck but kept a section to measure our snow falls. Our neighbor plowed our front drive up to our garage on Monday and for that we are grateful. Here are photos of our snow piles!

The photo above is just for perspective. It was taken on Christmas. Notice how far up off the snow laden deck Joseph, Mary and the Baby Jesus are.

Here was the snowfall from early Monday morning with Mary just barely visible.

After we shoveled off the deck.

We have an accumulation of about 20 inches out in our yard right now. This is the most snow we’ve had accumulate since we moved here in 2018. Other years the snow melted off in between storms. This year is different with temps low enough that the snow has not melted off. We have more snow coming.

Snow hats all around!

Hope 2022 is starting off well for you!