observations, ideas and inspiration... from my pennsylvania home, garden, kitchen, and studio

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spring Cleaning???

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.
~Native American Proverb
Spring Cleaning today....actually I have a bug to paint! It happens every year at this time. But I count it as "cleaning" also because when you paint something you have to clean the whole room to make it special....an incentive. Hope Dino isn't reading this, he hates when I start painting everything ....just "cleaning" Dino "cleaning".

I made this ravioli dish last night for Dinner ~ yummy yummy goodness. And of course easy because I like easy. Can't remember where I got the recipe but I've had it for years. I'm in love with it, I hope you will be too!
Remember Earth Day today and go green. Feel a hug ~~ Jenn

Baked Ravioli
2 TBSP Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 - 1 stick butter
1 Can (28 oz) Whole Tomatoes (I love Dei Fratelli's tomato products ~ never sour)
1 Can (28 oz) Crushed Tomatoes
2 Pounds Frozen Cheese Ravioli
1 1/2 Cups Fresh or Shredded Mozzarella
1/2 Cup Parmesan ~ grated

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and season with salt and pepper; cook stirring occasionally, until soft ~ about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes and spices (I'm always tasting my sauce so make it like you like it). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, breaking up tomatoes, until sauce is thickened. I add the butter in at the end...sometimes I up it to a whole stick, what ever you prefer. You want the sauce to be reduced to about 5 1/2 cups.

Meanwhile, cook ravioli in large pot of boiling salted water just until they float. Pasta will continue to cook in oven. Drain and return to pot.

Mix sauce in with ravioli. Pour in a large baking dish and sprinkle with cheeses. Bake in preheated 425 degree oven about 20 - 25 minute until golden. Cool slightly before serving.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pretties From Lancaster

The "girls" (my mom, sister, me and the two little chicks) took a very short last minute trip to Lancaster County this past weekend. It was beautiful and well needed....it's been a long spring with my grandfather being sick and then passing away. Of course most of our trip was done antique shopping. See the good stuff above. I've got more too!

Wish we could have gone to a few more shops but because of the time and also it gets a little restless for the little ones...we gave them lots of sugar to keep them happy though!

We manage to squeeze in Ken's Gardens for some lovely perennials and heirlooms tomatoes, which are always the best! AND of course we ate at Dienners twice ~ breakfast and dinner! It was a good time. Now it's back to work! Have a happy day! xoxo Jenn

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Miss. Potter

"Believe there is a great power silently working all things for good, behave yourself and never mind the rest."
~Beatrix Potter

I am in love with everything about Beatrix Potter and dream about visiting Hill Top Farm someday. This movie came out in 2006. I think because of the Easter holiday they have been playing it over and over again and each time I watch it over and over again. It's just lovely.

Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Primitive Gathering Offering for April

I almost forgot...

You think of the 15 of April as tax day and even though I sent mine in a while ago I still keep thinking ....did they get it??

And that is why I almost forgot about the update. My offering this month is a Primitive Sewing Birds Make-do. Made from an old hog scrapper and lots of browns. Please visit here for more information and to view wonderful creations from all the talented artists there.

Recipes from the Slacker...Ham and Potato Soup, Banana Cake

I should have been working the last few days but instead I decided to make cake and garden. Why not? Lydia was on spring break from school so me too! What a slacker :)

Actually I've been working on the new shed/studio...the outside that is. I've finally got a plan for a cottage garden and have been removing sod. ALSO finally put in the sweet pea seeds and those poor daffodil bulbs that never got planted in the fall. It was done very professional like ~ shoving at least 7 bulbs at a time in giant holes all over the place. The inside studio is starting to come together. Dino's helped me with the inside putting up insulation and adding electricity....I've got 5 plugs! He does bathrooms also.

Last week my mom gave me an old banana cake recipe my sister had from my Grandma. My sister said she's had it for a while. I think it must have been in with some old photos she got when grandma passed away. As I was making this cake I imagined my grandma making it for different family gatherings. Christmas Eve was always the best. We would go to my Aunt Ruthie's house for Christmas Eve. She had two boys that didn't want to play with "girl" cousins. We always thought they were rich because they had cool games like Operation and Mouse Trap. That game kept us busy for hours. We had no idea how to play but setting it up was the best.

All this just to tell you that this vintagy cake stands the test of time, it's delightful. Dino's already had 2 pieces in the last five minutes...although to be fair he did give up sweets for lent and still has that sugar deficiency.

Grandma's Banana Cake
1/2 Cup Butter or Shortening (shortening would make it a lighter cake)
2 Cups Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Cups Mashed Bananas (4-5 bananas)
2 1/2 Cups Flour ~ sifted
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9" x 13" pan.
Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in eggs one at a time until creamy. Add mashed bananas.

Sift together baking soda, salt, baking powder and flour. Gradually add dry ingredients into banana mixture, until well combined.

Pour in prepared pan. Bake approximately 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool slightly and spread on frosting.

Creamy Frosting
3/4 stick Butter ~ melted
1 1/3 TBSP Flour
1/8 tsp Salt
1/3 Cup Milk
2 1/2 Cups Confectioners Sugar.
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/2 Cup Chopped Walnuts or Pecans

Mix butter, flour and salt together. Bring to boiling point. Add milk and cook until thick. Remove from heat and beat in confectioners sugar. When cool enough to spread, add vanilla. I think I did this next part wrong but I poured the icing over cake and spread it out then added the chopped walnuts on top before icing completely cooled. I think what your suppose to do is add the nuts to the icing then spread it on cake. Either way I think you'll get the same taste.


That was my blog from last night that I never finished. It's raining outside this morning and I think I will actually do a little work today. I've also added this recipe for your ham leftovers.....easy! easy! easy! And not fattening at all (wink wink wink).

Have a happy one.

Simple Ham and Potato Soup
1 Ham Bone*
2 TBSP Butter
2 Stalks Celery ~ chopped
1/2 Large Onion ~ chopped
2 Carrots ~ grated
6 Cups Water
2 Cups Low Sodium Chicken or Vegetable Stock
Pinch of Thyme
4 Cups Cooked Ham ~ cubed
5 Cups Potatoes ~ peeled and cubed
Salt and Pepper to taste

5 TBSP Butter
5 TBSP Flour
2 Cups Whole Milk or Cream
In a large stock pot melt butter. Add onion, celery and carrots, cook until almost tender. Add ham bone, water, stock, and thyme. Bring to a boil then simmer for 2 hours.

Remove ham bone and let cool. Take off any left over ham on bone and add back to soup. Add cubed ham and potatoes and cook for another 1/2 hour or until potatoes are soft.

Meanwhile in another smaller pan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook for about a minute. Slowly whisk in the milk and continue stirring until thickened...about 5 minutes.

Add rue to soup and stir until combined well and heated through. Serve with a little grated sharp cheddar on top and crusty bread.

*In the deli or meat section sometimes you can find ham bones with lots of meat still on it for about .99 cents a pound.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Buon Pasquale

Happy Easter! It's a beautiful day here in Pennsylvania. The sun is shining with not a cloud in site.

I've got all my peeps in a row today. What's going on??? It's Easter and I am ready, my family is ready, everything is ready....we've been to church, ham is almost done and I'm just sitting here watching Paula Deen, drooling over a crab stuffed flounder she is making. JUST SITTING HERE ~ that never happens on holidays!! We are headed to my parent's home for Easter dinner then over to my brother-in-law's for dessert....this will probably be my second dessert because my mom makes the best egg custard pie! Speaking of desserts....Paula is now making a banana split frozen dessert ~ I'm dying here! YUM!!

I wanted to wish y'all (as Paula would say) a joy-filled happy Easter. Praise God for our Saviour Jesus! I hope your spending this beautiful day with family and loved-ones.

Buon Pasquale as the Italians say...
Love, Me

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Best Easter Ham ~ Trust Me

I usually don't boast about things but I absolutely love this ham glaze. It has the perfect yummy balance of sweet matched up with the saltiness of the ham. Plus ham is really really easy to make. Just make sure when your done to save the ham juice to drizzle...or dump over your ham slices.

I had a really good picture of this on my computer but since it has a boo boo and this loaner keeps giving me power surges on my back-up drive I don't have it. Just trust me its good.

Baked Ham
...aka the best damn ham!

1 Whole Semi-Boneless Ham
1 Can Orange Juice Concentrated
1 Can Whole Berry Cranberries
1 1/2 Cups Dark Brown Sugar
3 TBSP Dijon Mustard

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl combined all of the ingredients except for the ham of course. Score fat side of ham in 1" diamonds. Arrange fat side up in shallow pan. Pour sauce over ham. Cover with extra wide heavy foil, tenting it up in the center so it doesn't touch ham. Crimp foil tightly around edges of pan. Bake until done depending on size of your ham...internal temp 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Bast with pan juices every 30 minutes. When done let ham stand at least 20 minutes or more before carving.

.....and don't forget about the ham juice! Pour some over your carved slices. Set aside extra if you want (need) more.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Onion Snow

Gosh I've been trying to write here since Thursday! I've been having some issues with my computer and its off to the shop for two weeks! Luckily Dino was able to get me a loaner and I think everything should be fine until then.

Thanks everyone for visiting my website for that little update of Easter and Spring Goods...I truly appreciate it! A few things are still available http://www.rabbithillprimitives.com/ if you'd like to take a look.

I've been on a search for a new magazine since Country Home and Cottage Living have ended. I use to love Country Living but in the past few years things have changed and I would be on again off again with my subscription. It seems that Country Living has a new editor and she is requesting emails about what we would like from the magazine. Her email is sarahgray@hearst.com if you'd like to write her. I would love to see more ideas and pictures of early and primitive decorating....wouldn't you??

While on that search I found this magazine which was quite interesting. Though not much decorating. It was a lot of good reading and lovely pictures about true country living with articles about collecting, crafting, gardening and healthy cooking.

One of the articles near and dear to my heart is about honey bees and bumbles bees and how they are disappearing. The "Great Sunflower Project" is asking for volunteers to plant a sunflower and twice monthly count the number of bees it attracts in a half-hour or less. This will help researchers pinpoint regions which bees are most scarce. To sign up visit http://www.greatsunflower.org/. A free packet of Lemon Queen Sunflower seeds is sent to you for planting.

April 1st was the day to hang your hummingbird feeders. Here in Pennsylvania they usually start arriving early-mid April and they really rely on us since it can be hit or miss for them with early spring blooming flowers....they need lots of high-energy sugar rich-fuel for migration. Check the hummingbird migration map to see how far along they are to you. http://www.hummingbirds.net/map.html

We've also had another bird visiting us the last few days and NIGHTS! Early Sunday I could hear a bird singing in a tree by our house. First I thought it was morning, then I looked at the clock and it 3:00 a.m.! We have lots of cats and a few owls in our neighborhood so I thought it was a bird in distress. I got up, put on my robe, and went outside to scare away whatever was bothering this poor creature....have I mentioned my neighbors think I'm crazy?? There on the tippy top of our pine tree, like a star at Christmas, stood a mockingbird singing his little heart out. After a little research I found that it was just a love song. Apparently all adult male northern mockingbirds sing during the day, only a bachelor sings at night. He'll stop doing this as soon as he wins a mate. He's still looking for her because I can hear him as I'm typing this.

The poor little daffodils look so pretty with snow filling up their cups. I guess this is our onion snow. I think this might be a regional term...here in PA, onion snow is a common expression for an early spring snow that comes right when the wild onions are sprouting at the edges of woods and fields. It's usually gone by mid-afternoon...thank goodness! Have a great day!

Mockingbird photo courtesy Wikipedia

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