Thursday, January 29, 2015

Calming Kitchen Corner in the Middle of Farmhouse Chaos


 
"I begin every major home project with both excitement and despair--anticipating the outcome but knowing first there must be chaos. . ."




I love our little farmhouse. . It's all the two of us need. . .but let me share with you a little of the chaos even the simplest project can generate. . Well. . .I say simple project. . .I suppose laying a new floor in two rooms isn't a small task. . .is it? . .No. . .But the problem wasn't the floor. . .It was where to put everything out of the way. . .Our house is so small--as in few rooms--that the slightest change can wreak havoc with our lives. . .

FOR WEEKS WE'VE LIVED WITH THIS IN THE THREE FRONT ROOMS

IN THE KITCHEN WITH THIS



Makes the word SIMPLIFY laughable, doesn't it?



There's NO PLACE TO HIDE AND GET AWAY FROM IT (sigh)

If it wasn't for my LIBRARY and this one corner of the kitchen, I'd be bonkers by now. . .




Hard to believe this is in the same house, isn't it? . .It's my one place of sanity. . .and I'll fight anyone who comes along and tries to clutter it. . .There are some things a person HAS to stand up for. . .(smile). . .

CLOSE TO THE FINISH OF PHASE ONE
 
I do think John will be finished with the floor today. . .Then I'll begin putting everything back in it's place and clean the entire house from top to bottom. . .Is that the end? . .NO. . .I'll be creating FARMHOUSE STYLE in the coming months. . .Through this three year journey, I've tweaked my style and my thinking. . .In my mind's eye, I know exactly what I want. . .I've let go of much and settled on a certain style. . .It will be interesting to see how my vision turns out.

Can't wait to get started. . . 



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Seasoning the Pots and Skillets

"Even if she (today's Southern woman) doesn't cook much, there is no more important heirloom than Mama's iron skillet. The iron skillet is THE essential tool of Southern country cooking, and as such it is a prized possession that is passed down from generation to generation, gathering unique character along the way. . ."

I can't imagine a kitchen without cast-iron cookware. . .and I cannot envision the older cooks in our family setting up any kitchen without their iron skillets and deep fryers. . .It's just not possible!
I've been very blessed to have acquired a family collection of coveted iron cookware pieces. . .READ MORE. . .


Sunday, January 25, 2015

SUNDAY: Sharing the Feast


"It is only by sharing  that we may make a feast"

It was early Sunday morning, well before the day broke light. . .I looked out the kitchen window. . .the ground glistening with frost. . .no movement anywhere. . .WINTER. . .COLD. . .STILL. . .

I shivered a little. . .wrapped in an over-sized robe. . .and fuzzy houseshoes. . .waiting for the coffee to perk. . .looking forward to those first warm sips to start the day.

Neighbors. . ."Where ARE the neighbors,?" I thought to myself. . .I haven't seen them since Fall. . .only an occasional truck or car now and then. . .Whatever happened to the days of family and friends gathering together on cold Winter nights for SOUP--or chili--or stew. . .Whether at homes or church. . .we gathered together. . .each with our contribution to the feast. . .SMILES. . .LAUGHTER. . .SHARING. . .

I poured my coffee. . .headed for the couch to snuggle with Boo. . .still DARK. . .still QUIET. . .still lost in my thoughts. . .
"STONE SOUP". . .I said to myself. . .I hadn't thought of that story in ages but somehow it seemed appropriate and not unlike our SOUP suppers of the past. . .
"Many years ago three soldiers, hungry and weary of battle, came upon a small village. The villagers, suffering a meager harvest and the many years of war, quickly hid what little they had to eat and met the three at the village square, wringing their hands and bemoaning the lack of anything to eat.
The soldiers spoke quietly among themselves and the first soldier then turned to the village elders. "Your tired fields have left you nothing to share, so we will share what little we have: the secret of how to make soup from stones."
Naturally the villagers were intrigued and soon a fire was put to the town's greatest kettle as the soldiers dropped in three smooth stones. "Now this will be a fine soup", said the second soldier; "but a pinch of salt and some parsley would make it wonderful!" Up jumped a villager, crying "What luck! I've just remembered where some's been left!" And off she ran, returning with an apronful of parsley and a turnip. As the kettle boiled on, the memory of the village improved: soon barley, carrots, beef and cream had found their way into the great pot, and a cask of wine was rolled into the square as all sat down to feast.
They ate and danced and sang well into the night, refreshed by the feast and their new-found friends. In the morning the three soldiers awoke to find the entire village standing before them. At their feet lay a satchel of the village's best breads and cheese. "You have given us the greatest of gifts: the secret of how to make soup from stones", said an elder, "and we shall never forget." The third soldier turned to the crowd, and said: "There is no secret, but this is certain: it is only by sharing that we may make a feast". And off the soldiers wandered, down the road."


It's daylight now. . .the sun is bright. . .the last bit of frost is gone. . .Inside I'm rattling pots and pans. . .looking for the right size. . .gathering the last of the winter vegetables. . .as John comes staggering in. . .half asleep. . .pouring his first cup of coffee for the day. . .

"Whatcha cooking?"
"STONE SOUP"
"Huh?"
"We're having company for supper. . ."




















WINTER VEGETABLE STEW
1 sweet potato
2 carrots
1 lb squash
2 cloves garlic
1 red bell pepper
1 cup onions, peeled and cut into 1/4" wedges
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup pureed tomato (or tomato sauce)
2 tbsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp cayenne (to taste)
1 (10oz) package frozen peas
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste
croutons for topping
Peel sweet potato, carrots, and squash, cut into 1/4-1/2" pieces. . .Peel and mince or press garlic. . .Cut bell pepper into 1/4" strips. . .Cook sweet potato, carrots, squash, garlic, onions and 1 cup of broth in a covered pan for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a few tablespoons of water if mixture begins sticking to the pan. Bring to a boil. . .Add 1 more cup of broth, along with the bell pepper, tomatoes, lime juice, and cayenne. Return to a boil and reduce heat. . .Simmer covered until vegetables are tender, about 12-15 minutes. If stew sticks to pan, add more broth. . .Add peas and stir occasionally until hot. . .Add salt and pepper to taste. . .Ladle into bowls and garnish with croutons.

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