Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: One of my new Cemetery Angel Series Photos

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Meals with Mincie: Strawberry Shortcake

Today is the official first day of summer and, for me, no summer is ever complete without enjoying several strawberry shortcakes.  Mincie often made her own Southern style shortcakes, which were my favorite. Occasionally she'd resort to purchasing mini Hostess sponge cakes that had wells in them to hold the sweetened berries.  They were good, but not as good as her homemade sweetened biscuits.  Like so many things she made, I don't think she had a recipe for these, but the following is my closest approximation.

Mincie's Strawberry Shortcake

1 quart of fresh strawberries (approximately)
1/3 cup of sugar

1) Wash and hull strawberries.
2)  Slice into a bowl.
3)  Sprinkle sugar over berries.
4)  Set aside for about an hour, at room temperature.
5)  When ready, sugar should be dissolved and berries should be juicy.

Sweetened Biscuits:

2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup milk

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2) Mix dry ingredients.
3) Cut butter into about eight pieces and add to dry ingredients.  Mix butter into dry ingredients, using either a pastry blender or the back of a fork.  Butter should be about the size of small peas when blended.
4) Make a well in the center, add milk, and mix until thorougly moistened.
5) Let dough sit for a few minutes, then sprinkle flour on clean countertop, pat dough out into a rectangle, knead two to three times, then roll out using a drinking glass.  Cut into biscuits using the opening of the drinking glass and place in buttered biscuit pans.*
6) Bake 10 - 12 minutes until brown on top.

To prepare:
Slice biscuits in half, horizontally, while still warm and place a pat of butter on the bottom.  Place top back on so both halves will end up buttered.  Allow to cool slightly, then remove top of biscuit, cover bottom of biscuit with sweetened strawberries along with some juice, and place top of biscuit on top of strawberries.  Top with more strawberries, then add Cool Whip or whip cream.  Enjoy!

* Note:  While Mincie's method involved the use of a drinking glass to roll out her biscuits, yours does not have to.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday Snippets: Time has been flying swiftly for me, of late!

For several weeks leading up to the Steampunk World's Fair, it seemed as if I was consumed by creative ideas and was in a mad flurry to finish them all.  Once the event passed, I had a few days to recover and prepare for the family vacation.  Now, after what seems like only a week, I find almost a month has passed and I've been severely lax with my blog entries.

Since returning from the family vacation it seems about all I've had time for is spending time with my guys now that they're out of school for the summer.  I love having them home, but this year it seems like such a huge adjustment to my schedule.  Somehow, about the time August rolls around, I'm sure I'll figure out a way to arrange my schedule to allow time for my creating, writing my blog, and them.  For now, though, it's still a bit of a challenge finding time for anything other than the guys.  While I know they won't be young for long and I don't regret spending time with them, I'm going to try to carve out small pieces of time for me so I don't feel guilty about neglecting the blog and can enjoy time spent with them all the more.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thursday Thinking Green: Organic food vs. GMO crops

I rarely use my blog to write about political issues, but our food quality and preserving choice is one I feel strongly enough to devote space to here. 

Monsanto is on the verge of releasing GMO alfalfa.  If you at all value the quality of the food you eat, please take a moment to read this post and sign the petition linked at the end of this entry. Not only would GMO alfalfa almost certainly wind pollinate and contaminate organic crops, but there is also the potential for this to severely negatively impact small scale farmers, family farms, the eco-system, etc. The far reaching implications are frightening, but unknown, as not enough research has been done to safely introduce this product to the market. The biggest danger with allowing the introduction of GMO Alfalfa is that, unlike previous GMO introductions, this is a perennial crop. Monsanto's GMO soybeans have already resulted in creating uber-weeds that are resistant to Roundup causing new, more invasive weed control products to be created and, at times, causing farmers to implement intensive tilling farming methods - the very methods the GMO soybeans were created to eliminate.

From the Credo action site: "Stop Monsanto's GMO Alfalfa!

Organics are under attack again. Earlier this year, we let you know about Monsanto's efforts to market and sell its genetically modified (GMO) Roundup Ready (TM) alfalfa. The USDA has given initial signs that it is preparing to grant Monsanto approval to distribute its seed, even knowing that it is almost certain the crop's modified genes will contaminate non-GMO -- including organic -- alfalfa.

Fortunately, the possibility of the USDA giving Monsanto the green light has caught the attention of two leading members of Congress -- Senator Patrick Leahy and Congressman Peter DeFazio. They have written a "Dear Colleague" letter, addressed to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, asking him to maintain the ban on GMO alfalfa in order to protect farmers, the environment, and the organic industry.

If your members of Congress have not done so already, they have until the end of this week -- less than 24 hours -- to sign the letter and join their colleagues in asking Secretary Vilsack to maintain the ban on Monsanto's GMO alfalfa.

During the Bush administration, Monsanto illegally won USDA approval for its GMO alfalfa by convincing regulators to bypass a mandatory environmental review. In response to a lawsuit by consumer groups, the courts then stepped in and banned GMO alfalfa until the USDA followed the law.

During the USDA's public comment period on Monsanto's alfalfa application in March, CREDO Action members submitted over 77,000 comments asking the USDA to protect the organic sector by keeping the GMO seed off the market. Now, we need to generate the same kind of overwhelming response to members of Congress so they will tell Secretary Vilsack to protect organics and farmers instead of Monsanto's profits.

Sign the petition to your senators and representative today, urging them to sign on to the Leahy - DeFazio letter asking Secretary Vilsack to reject Monsanto's application to market and sell GMO alfalfa."

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday Meals With Mincie: Strawberries and Cream

t was a bowl of strawberries and cream that began Mincie's strawberry growing hobby and led to my lifetime fascination with strawberries. When I was little, I visited her every chance I got. Each June, as soon as the strawberries from her neighbor's garden were ripe, he'd bring me a bowl of strawberries and cream. I enjoyed it so much, that it wasn't long before she'd planted a small patch of strawberries so I could have more fresh berries the following spring. By the time I was in high school, that one small patch of berries had grown to two sizeable berry patches and we enjoyed a variety of strawberry desserts as well as strawberry freezer jam throughout the year. Next week I'll share more strawberry recipes, but for tonight, here's the recipe for, what is for me, a bit of early summer childhood nostalgia in a bowl.

Strawberries & Cream:
1/2 cup fresh strawberries
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream or milk
1) Wash and hull strawberries

2) Chop strawberries into a coarse dice.

3) Cover strawberries with sugar. Use a fork to mix sugar with the berries and gently smash the berries, until juice begins to run and sugar is dissolved.

4) Pour whipping cream or milk over berries and enjoy.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Free Form Friday: This weekend's vending schedule

Here it is, fairly late on a Friday evening, and I'm just now getting a chance to sit down and write a blog entry for today.  I had a lengthy list of things I needed to do today, many of them online, and, as luck would have it, thanks in part to a mishap caused by one of our dogs and the interference of summer storms, I haven't had the internet available to me for the majority of the day.  Yesterday came and went without providing the opportunity to do much online, including writing a blog entry, thanks to the school year winding down and two boys who were so excited to have a day off due to the annual Kennywood Day (a day when area schools attend the local amusement park) that they kept me overly occupied for the entire day.  Next week, the boys only have 3 1/2 days of school left until they're out for the summer, so I'll have to make the most of the last of my "free" days for awhile. 

Many weekends I have a packed vending schedule, but I'm especially excited about this one.

Saturday, I'll be vending at the 12th annual Fleatique on the Mon, a wonderful event that's close to home and is always quite fun.  The event runs from 8:00 am - 4:00 pm and you can find me among the fine crafts and antique vendors that are located in Chess Park, right on Main Street in Monongahela.  If flea market vendors are of interest to you, make sure you wander over to 3rd Street where they'll be located.

Sunday, I'll be in the I Made It! Market tent in the Creativity Zone at the Three Rivers Arts Festival from 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm both vending and teaching children how to make flowers from pop cans.  They'll be able to create a flower to take home with them and will hopefully look at their trash a bit more creatively as a result.

If you attend either event this weekend, please stop by and say hello.  Have a fantastic weekend, whether I see you or not!


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