Welcome to our 1864 farmhouse…life is good!

Friday, December 31

lauching a new year!

On New Year's Day it's our tradition to eat stuffed pork chops and sauerkraut...two foods said to bring good health and good fortune for the new year. And while some of us (who will remain nameless) can only bring themselves to eat a single strand or two of sauerkraut, the meal has most certainly become a family tradition. Rounded out with mixed vegetables, cranberry sauce, and buttery sour cream & cream cheese mashed potatoes,
it's a dinner we all look forward to.

And as we enjoy the day watching movies and playing games together, we'll also cast a thoughtful glance back at the past year, wondering what the new one will bring.

As for our thoughts today, we are sharply aware of how blessed our lives are...good health, surrounded by those we love, and in a warm and cozy home.

There's an old saying that goes, "As you begin the year, so shall you end it." May we all begin 2011 healthy and surrounded by family & friends.

Wishing you a very happy New Year filled with blessings!

Tuesday, December 28

and about that Christmas clean up...

"One of the most glorious messes in the world
is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. 

Don't clean it up too quickly." 

- Andy Rooney

Friday, December 24

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you the warmth and love of the Christmas season.
Now, more than ever, we're reminded that the finest gifts and sweetest joys come from the heart.

Enjoy every moment!

Wednesday, December 22

prime rib roast recipe...

As the kids say, "Oh my dears to chicken ears!"
Christmas is nearly here!

And with the last of the baking in the oven, the only thing left to do it decorate sugar cookies and gingerbread men for Santa. Whew!

With the baking wrapped up, it's time to think about Christmas dinner. After the flurry of cooking that happens at Thanksgiving, we keep Christmas dinner very simple. For as long as I can remember we're prepared a prime rib roast...it's so easy and
really delicious. Here's our can't-fail recipe.

Prime Rib Roast

1, 3 to 5 rib roast
all-purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste

Rub roast well with flour, salt and pepper. Arrange roast bone side down on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Place in a 500 degree oven and cook 15 minutes per rib. (for example: 3 ribs, 45 minutes; 4 ribs, 60 minutes.) The oven will smoke.

Turn off heat; however, do not open oven door for 2 more hours. This will give you a rare roast with a crusty outside. If you'd like a medium roast, add 15 minutes to the roasting time. Carve and serve. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

We also make a tangy sauce to serve alongside...just blend prepared horseradish and sour cream together until you get the flavor you like.

Served with a salad, baked potatoes, and veggies, this roast makes a wonderful Christmas dinner...one that keeps us out of the kitchen and enjoying the day.

Sending you Christmas wishes with this lovely poem...

Scent of Winter

I love the smells of winter:
The pans of gingerbread,
The smells of wood and ashes,
And old quilts on the bed,
The friendly smells  of boots and skates
And the fresh smell of new snow,
The wondrous smells of Christmas pines
And holly and mistletoe.
I love the smells of winter;
And even the flowers of spring
Can't quite compare with all the joys
The smells of winter bring.

-Beverly Trickett

Saturday, December 18

Christmas cobb salad recipe...

It's cookie-baking time here and we're up to our elbows in flour, butter, and sugar! Once the counters are visible again, I'll share a few of our favorite cookie recipes.

However; as much as I love cookies, I'm also looking forward to Christmas dinner, so I thought I'd share this salad recipe. It's been a favorite for years and you really can't go wrong.

If blue cheese isn't a favorite, use feta, add grapes or cherry tomatoes instead of mandarin oranges, or sprinkle on croutons in place of almonds. It's really a simple salad using your favorite ingredients...it's the tangy flavor of the vinaigrette that we love.

Cobb Salad

6-oz. pkg. salad mix or baby spinach
2 c. roasted turkey, chicken or ham, cut into strips
6 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
15-oz. can mandarin oranges, drained
1 avocado, pitted and sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
4-oz. container blue cheese crumbles
3/4 c. butter toffee-glazed almond slices

Cranberry Vinaigrette
5 T. balsamic vinegar
4 T. olive oil
1 T. sugar
1 c. jellied cranberry sauce

Whisk together vinegar, oil, and sugar. Continue to whisk until sugar dissolves. Stir cranberry sauce well to break up; stir in vinegar mixture slowly until well blended.

Arrange salad mix or spinach in a large pasta bowl or on a platter; arrange ingredients across lettuce. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing. Serves 4 to 6.

Thursday, December 9

keeping it simple...

The season's joys are as plentiful as an overstuffed Christmas stocking. We've had snow here in the Midwest for several  days now. It's the kind of snow that falls gently all day long and everything is covered with a delicate powder. The pine
needles are even tipped with a bit of an icy glaze, and look like prisms on a sparkling chandelier.

As we know, December is a month of intense activity. Sweet Girl's Christmas program at school was last night, Friday is our church Christmas social, Secret Santa shopping is Friday as well, with school parties and get-togethers with friends next week.

However, with all this activity, we have a tendency to want to slow down and enjoy this quiet time of rest from the endless to-do list of warm-weather projects. This past Sunday a friend and I were talking about Christmas decorations, and we both agreed we were keeping it simple so we could really enjoy the season.

For us that means fresh greenery on the mantels & swags on the doors, sweetly scented candles, a fragrant tree covered with treasured ornaments, and a crackling fire. I want the kids to come inside after building a snowman or snow fort and find a cozy kitchen where they can sample freshly-baked cookies and warm up with mugs of chocolatey cocoa. We look forward to camping out under the Christmas tree where we giggle and talk long into the night before falling asleep under it's twinkling lights.

handmade ornaments

a centerpiece of fruit & greenery in a favorite bowl

a hand-crafted Advent calendar made by a dear friend

It really is the simple things in life that matter...and that's what we'll be trying to focus on as we celebrate this special time of year.

On the agenda for next week...cooking baking! Yay!
We are a cookie-loving family, they disappear in no time.
And because of this, I plan carefully...if I do the baking too soon, the goose won't be the only one who gets fat!

Wishing you Christmas cheer!

Wednesday, December 1

'tis the season to believe...

A dusting of snow, briskly blowing wind, and delicate patterns of frost on the windowpanes. Deer are feeding in the fields close to our home...it's now December, and soon it will be Christmas.

Although there's a bit of sleet hitting the windows, we hardly notice it as we enjoy the warmth from a crackling fire and hear a kettle singing on the stove. It's a good day to stay indoors, retrieve presents from their hiding places and begin the fun of wrapping. With Christmas music in the background,
the scent of a fresh-cut balsam tree, and wrapping paper close at hand...we're all set.

Or so I think...
no cat alive can resist chasing ribbons, ruffling tissue paper, or sneaking inside gift bags. And soon the kittens, who were earlier settled in for a morning nap, are racing around the room in a flurry of activity. I remember one year our cat, Zoey, slipped inside a bag and then decided she wanted out. As I was trying to help, she was soon out of my grasp and ran around the house in circles trying desperately to get the bag off.

It was useless...she'd put her head through the bag's handle, and the faster she ran, the more noise the bag made...causing her to run even faster! After several minutes she stopped to catch her breath, giving us just enough time to set her free. I admit, it was a bit funny to watch, but I'm sure she didn't think so.

Oh well, as they say, 'tis the season for animals, too! And in that spirit, the kids will make birdseed ornaments to hang on outside trees, plan special meals for our animals, and leave carrots and water for the reindeer.

It's a time of readying for Christmas...shopping, planning,
baking, secrets & surprises. They're all a part of the joy of the holiday season.

Yes, Christmas is coming...peace and joy to one and all.
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