Monday, August 29, 2011

Pancake Zingers

Pancake Zingers
You might be asking,
what are Pancake Zingers?

Well, I'll be glad to tell you!

They're a full meal deal.
 Meat, veggies and sometimes cheese,
all combined to make a yummy disk shaped treat!
No syrup needed!

I'm always searching for food to go.
I have to leave for work early in the AM
so on the road food is my only choice.
I try not to do the fast food places,
not good for my health or my pocketbook.

So here goes.
These are delicious.

Pancake Zingers

Ingridents for the filling:
1 small onion, minced
2 ribs celery plus some leaves, minced
1 small bell pepper, minced (any color)
1 small roma tomato, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup cooked ham, minced
oil for sautéing

Ingredients for the batter:
1 cup flour
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg
1 cup milk
2 tbsp. cooking oil

Directions for the filling:

Heat oil in a sauté pan, (about two turns of the pan)
add onion, celery, bell pepper and tomato.
Sauté  till limp, then add the garlic clove and ham.
Warm through.
Remove from the heat.

Directions for the batter:
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Mix well.
In a large measuring cup, measure milk first, then add the egg, then the oil. Blend.

Add the liquid to the dry, lightly mixing. Now add your sautéed veggie/meat mixture.
At this point you can add any grated cheese of your choice, about 1/4 cup.
Use a light hand to incorporate.
Let the mixture sit a few while you're heating your griddle.

When a few drops of water dance on the griddle you're ready to go.
I use a small gravy ladle to spoon out my batter, and I can fit three cakes on my griddle.
(I have a seasoned cast iron griddle so there's really no need to grease the pan).
When bubbles form on the top of the cakes, flip and cook for another a minute or so.
Remove to a platter and continue on.
Makes about fifteen cakes.

You could sub cooked ground pork, diced cooked chicken or any meat of your choice.

I package these up three to a baggie and eat them cold.
Sweet and savory!

If you have any suggestions for one handed, on the road food, let me know.
I'm always looking for something different!
I mean it!!!

Till next time,

A little Of This, A Little Of That!!!

I got up early, 5:30ish.
We had plans to can up the tomatoes today.
Plans change, weather you want them to or not!
Nathan was in town and needed a ride back to East Texas.
A five hour ride,   

I put the tomatoes in the freezer,
maybe next weekend?
  So off we went!
Nathan likes me to read to him, he says I have "the voice",
so I took along our current book in progress,
A story about a dragon rider, evil kings, magic and such.
Steve drove over so I could read.


I do love to read to him,
making the story come alive with the emotions of the characters!
Loud voice here, whispered voice there,
trying to read the story like it was a movie.
He says I should read to the kids at the library.

I think I might scare them.
 We did manage to get the green bean/new potato
mix canned before we left.
I made the fried okra when we got back,
and also put some chicken breasts in the electric roaster.
(still not using the oven)
By this time I'm about tuckered out.
I fell asleep at the computer trying to write this post.
So you're getting yesterday's post today.

It's time to clock in so....

Till next time,

Saturday, August 27, 2011

No Rain, No Problem! Farmer's Market To The Rescue!!!


Since we had to quit the garden
 due to the  no rain issues/fines for using too much water,
a trip to the farmer's market on Friday was in order.

There was no arm twisting involved, I love to go,
 I would rather not have to buy my produce.

Oh well,
the bright side is,
 I'm helping out a south or East Texas farmer.
(Gotta take the positive notes where you can)!


We scored about 20 lbs of roma tomatoes for $8.00
4 giant, red bell peppers for $1.00
okra @ $3.oo a pint (got 2)
green beans @ $3.00 a pint ( got 2 also)
new potatoes @ $2.00 for 2 pints
and, 2 fairly large cantaloupe for $5.00

Some of the goodies

Not too bad, especially compared to the supermarket!

We canned some of the okra yesterday for Steve's mom
and saved the rest to fry.
We'll do that on Sunday.
My Steve does enjoy his fried okra!
He also enjoys green beans and new potatoes,
Sunday on that one also.

Today I got started on or meals for the week.
First up was spinach/lasagna roll ups from Rachel Ray's kid cookbook.

Rachel Ray's cookbook
Naturally, I put my own spin on the recipe using ingredients I already had on hand.

Here's my take!!

Mince, mince, chop!

1 small onion, minced
3 ribs celery, with some leaves, minced
1 red bell pepper, minced
1 roma tomato, seeded and minced
1 package spinach, drained and chopped (about one lb.)
(I had a package of blanched mixed greens in the freezer, swiss chard, spinach and beet greens)
about a 3/4  lb. of queso fresco, divided use (fetta or ricotta would work)
medium thick rue, about 1 and 1/2 cups  divided use (made with turkey broth)
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
6 lasagna noodles, cooked, rinsed and drained
olive oil for sautéing

Sautee first 3 ingredients in heated olive oil about 7 minutes.
Add spinach/greens, 1/4 lb. queso fresco, 1/2 cup rue and nutmeg.
Stay with the skillet at this point.
Cook, stirring until queso fresco starts to melt.
Remove from heat.
Lay out your cooked lasagna noodles on a cutting board.
With a rubber spatula coat the noodles with your spinach/queso fresco mixture.
I added extra, crumbled, queso fresco at this stage, a little for each roll up.
Fill and roll up all noodles and place seam side down in a casserole dish.

Time To Roll!!!

Spoon extra rue over the rolled noodles, sprinkle with extra queso fresco or parmesan cheese.
Bake in a 350 degree oven till cheese melts and noodles heat through. About 15 minutes.

When I make these in the summer I stop at the baking step. I just cover the casserole dish with plastic wrap and pop in the fridge. When ready to eat just spoon out a noodle or two and microwave.
Great for gourmet, lunch box treats !!!


I'm curious...
Have you been restricted on your water usage,
fined for using too much?
Do you  recycle your water when possible?

Tomorrow we'll be canning the tomatoes,
frying okra and making the green beans and new potatoes.

Till next time,

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

.....God Blessed Texas!

Oh my, we've experienced rain!

I've quit keeping track of the 100 degree plus days,
the long string of no rain days,
just too depressing to think about!

We've had to quit the garden,
concentrating only on keeping  the trees and herbs alive.

God truly blessed us with rain.

I can see a difference,

My herbs?
I may lose some.

The sage is hanging in there along with the rosemary,
 but the lemon balm, lemon verbena, mints,
 oregano, basil and thyme are not doing as well.
Grasshoppers are also wreaking havoc!
The fruit and nut trees?
They'll make it by the grace of God.

Young Mulberry Tree, Happy

Notice the icky brown grass?
Mature Mulberry Tree Lookig way Sad!

Walnut Tree
More icky brown grass, cow food?
Where's that combine?

The Mesquite Tree, Protecting my wild blackberries!

Don't bother me now Grandma!
Till next time,

Friday, August 19, 2011

Crispy Breakfast Tacos To Go

Have some leftovers?
Need a good breakfast meal?
Good, because I have one!

I was watching PBS a few weeks ago
and they were featuring Pati's Mexican Table.
If it's Mexican, I'm in!!!
This is the original recipe,

Naturally, I only had a few of the ingredients,
 but hey, I can improvise!
OK, here goes...

Filling Ingredients:
3 medium potatoes, boiled. Cool, and cut into cubes (skins on or off, your choice)
about 1/2 pound cooked pork roast, minced

1 small onion, minced
3 or 4 ribs of celery, minced (use some leaves too)
2  roma tomatoes, seeds removed and minced
(after mincing I put them into a strainer to drain off the liquid)
oil for sautéing  (3 turns of the pan)
oil for frying ( about 1")
about 12 corn tortillas
Seasonings, I used salt, lemon pepper, mexican oregano and cumin

Sautee onions, celery  and tomatoes in oil about 5 minutes.
Add pork roast.
Heat roast/veggie mixture about 4 minutes.
Add potatoes.
Mash everything together with your potato masher or a large spoon.
You now have something that resembles hash.
Remove from heat.

Fan your tortillas on a plate, dome with another plate and warm in microwave for about 4 minutes.

Now we're ready to roll!!!

Spread a few tablespoons of the potato, veggie, meat mixture on the tortilla and roll up cigar style.
Secure end with a toothpick.

Securing, safety pin style
Patti suggested picking 2 together. I tried that the first time.
Second time I ran a tooth pick through them each individually.
This time I used the toothpick like a safety pin, worked much better!

Frying, cast iron style

Fry them up in about 1' of hot oil, (about 350 degrees), turning once, until they're lightly browned.
Use tongs to remove from pan.
When you're removing them from the pan, tilt slightly to drain off  the excess oil.
Place on a paper towel lined platter.

Draining on vintage platter
You can also bake these.
Temps here are still in the 100's plus, so baking is not an option right now.

These are yummy hot or cold.
I package them up 3 to a zip baggie, makes 4 breakfast meals.
If you are eating these at home, try dipping in some sour cream and salsa, even better!

Tomorrow I'm off to get this hair cut.
17" of ponytail is more than enough for Locks of Love!

New do in the works!!!
Nathan says "hi" to everyone, he's missing our cooking together!

The next Iron Chef?

Till next time,

Monday, August 15, 2011

Grinding Pork, Making Breakfast Sausage


Ground Pork
I'm experimenting again.
I haven't used my meat grinder in quite some time
but a great deal on some "pork roast" 
 made me pull it out again.
This meat was labeled  "for Carnitas", (a Mexican dish).
Heavily marbled, it seemed the right type of meat for breakfast sausage.

I ground it up, sort of,
the fat keep clogging the grinder,
added herbs and seasonings, then fried it.
It was ok, not great, dry tasting,
I guess I need to experiment some more.

Round Two!
I decided to grind some more to use as taco meat.
I trimmed away some of the fat this time and that helped getting it through the grinder.

sautéed  the meat with some onion,
garlic and jalapeno peppers,
then added chili powder, cumin, diced
 tomatoes and tomato sauce.
I cooked until the liquid had reduced a bit,
then served in taco shells with grated cheese on top.
That turned out really good.

So the first batch, with the fat, turned out dry,
and the second batch with the reduced fat turned out great.

Maybe I cooked the first batch too long?
Maybe the acidity of the tomatoes in the second batch helped to tenderize it?
 Anyone have any opinions/suggestions?

Till next time,

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hacking, Canning & Fun


So we finally had the time to can up
all those wild blackberries we picked in the spring.
We also pulled out the flat of strawberries from first monday,
and the surplus tomatoes from the garden.
They've all been patiently waiting in the freezer,
 anticipating being turned into yummy pantry shelf goodies.

Also pulled a couple packages of
cooked pork roast to defrost.
Later I'll be making it into something for our work lunches.

For the berries we decided to
 can them whole instead of making jam or jelly.
This way they can be utilized for
smoothies, cobblers, pancakes, muffins etc.

 I used the instructions in Jackie Clay's canning book.

The process was to pour sugar over the berries,
1/2 cup sugar to each quart of berries, (same amount of sugar for both types of berries) 
gently mix, then cover. Let the strawberries sit for 6 hours and the blackberries for 2 hours.

Free blackberries
While we were waiting for the blackberry two hour window, we moved on to the tomatoes.

Squashing TO-MATERS
We blanched the tomatoes to remove the skins,
then quartered them.
Into the pot they went.
We squashed them with the potato masher,
 simmered for a bit,
then ladled into hot, sterilized jars,
adding 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice to each pint jar.
Released the air bubbles, wiped the rims, capped, and
processed pint jars for 35 minutes in the water bath canner.

To can the blackberries, 
we heated them up in the turkey roaster,
(I like to use the roaster because
the product has a chance to spread out.
I straddle it between two burners,
making sure the middle gets stirred to the ends).

When it starts to bubble,
ladle into hot, sterilized jars 1/2" from the top.
I use a chopstick to release the air bubbles,
wipe the rims, cap, and boil in the water bath canner.
Strawberries process for 10 minutes,
blackberries for 15 minutes, (same method) 
The process timing was for pints,

we did 1/2 pints but used the pint timing.

After that we were on to making our lunches for the week.
I diced one package of the pork roast and set it aside.
The other went in the fridge for ham salad.

In a large skillet, I heated some olive oil,
added chopped onion and garlic,
 sautéed for a bit,
added 1 cup brown rice,
and sautéed a bit more.
Next I added the diced pork roast,
1 can of cream of potato soup, 1 1/2 cups water,
and some frozen mixed veggies.

I brought the mixture to a boil,
reduced the heat to low and cooked for 20 minutes.
Forgot to add any herbs or seasonings,
but I guess the canned soup had some.
Oh yeah, I did cook the roast with herbs, forgot!

By this time my brain was sort of fried,
(we started at about 9am, finished about 5pm.)
The ham salad will just have to wait till tomorrow.

In the middle of all this, I get an automated call from Citi Bank.
Hello, your credit card has been used for an online purchase,
suspected fraudulent.
Call us at bla, bla, bla number.

Being the wary, suspicious,
know that crooks call and Email
you to get your info, 
person that I am, I don't call the number they leave.
I call the number on my statement!
Sure enough, my info has been hijacked!
Seems Citi Bank has been hacked.

The credit card I haven't used in about 3 years,
the same card I haven't even
activated in that same amount of time,
 has been used to purchase something,
or some service online, at the cost of about $100.00.
They even tried to use it again at Cabala's.
(hope I spelled that right)
Seems to me,
an inactivated card should be
declined the first time!!!
But what do I know?

one long, excuse me, could you repeat that again,
conversation later, I'm to be sent an Email that I have to E-sign,
stating, I have no knowledge of this.
Never get the email.
(By the way, I'm the one saying, can you repeat that again).

Call again 2 hours later,
same excuse me, could you repeat that again, conversation!
 (I'm thinking, trying to can food here, it's your fault you got hacked, you fix it).
Thankfully my brain didn't let me voice those words.

Got the Email this time. Hope my E-sign went through.

I was assured that I would not be responsible for the charge,
but you know what,
in the end,  the charge has to be covered by someone.
Guess who that is?

Never even got make soap today, oh well!
At least I had fun canning, got to make some bread
and even had time to call Nathan.

Now it's 10:34pm,
 I work tomorrow, goodnight!

Till next time,

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Free, Yes, I Said Free....


I've mentioned before that my husband Steve
works at a nursery
When the guys go out to do a landscape,
they invariably come back with rocks,
lots of rocks.
Texas specific rocks.... Shale, chalk rock,
whatever you choose to call it.
You can't dig three feet without encountering it!
They usually dump it along the creek bed sides
at the nursery property or....
put it in the dumpster.

What... Dumpster, are you kidding me?

No way!!!!!

Steve talked to the guys and they agreed to offload
said rock in a pile for Steve to take home.

Yeah, decent driveway in the works!

Steve's boss, Roland, let him use the
F550 to bring the rock home.

Borrowed truck
Even has a dump bed!!
Way cool!!!

Dust cloud on it's way!

After I took this pic I made a beeline for upwind!

Big rocks, little rocks, rock dust,
once it gets dumped, Steve drives over it to crush the biggies!
Eventually we will have a non mud driveway.
Not that it's muddy now, but in the spring,
let's just say, cars beware!

The lean, mean, working machine, AKA the hard working hubby!

Yes, it would be nice to have a non dusty,
concrete drive like we had in the city
but for a driveway as long as ours,
that just isn't in the budget.

Crushed rock is just dandy!
(And washing my truck is useless)

Can't beat free!
I'm canning tomatoes and making soap tomorrow,
should be fun!

Till next time,

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Silver Lining!

My beautiful Grand-daughter, Lauren,
 is  having a little baby girl!!!!

The little girl I used to push around in the wheelbarrow.
The same little girl who used to help me in the garden.
She liked to make collages from magazines,
she would make me pictures to hang on the fridge.
(Which I still have)

She's all grown up now.

I'm going to be a great-grandma!!!!!

How cool is that?

 Till next time,

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


My grandson Nathan has gone to live with his Dad,
2 1/2 hours away.
Doesn't sound very far except,
2 1/2 hours equals $75.00 in fuel one way.
This is the boy that has spent every weekend
 with us since about 1998.
The boy I sometimes pick up after
work just to hang out.
We cook, we fight, we create, we love.
We were working our way through
Rachel Ray's kid's cook book.
He has plants here, projects here.
He was learning here.
Other people are influencing his life now.
I have no say in this.
I am very sad.
I miss him.