Mar 302013
 

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Bread Machines—The Jetson Invention.

If you have been following me at all, you will have discovered by now that I am hopelessly devoted to my bread machine.

I learned how to make bread when I was a newlywed—learned to knead it by hand, etc.  Then my mother in law bought me a Kitchen Aid mixer, and I thought I had died and gone to heaven, it was so wond-a –mus!  (And I still have it—over 30 years later!)  It is a work horse, for sure.

Kitchen aid

Next, I bought myself a Cuisinart Food processor, because they were all the rage.  I learned to make my bread dough in the see-through processor, and was thoroughly impressed with the speed of this magnificent invention.  I bought all the blades and played with it whenever I needed to cut up or mix or grind up anything.  I even remember when we had used up our hamburger from our beef allotment and so I made my own burger using the round steak.  I kind of wore it out—so I updated several times over. The one on my counter right now has a stubborn misfiting  part  that insures the safe use of the processor – and I really haven’t figured out how to go around the safety feature so that I can make is perform more easily. It gets little use now days, and has been retired from the bread dough business long ago.

Cuisinart

So after the food processor, the bread machine arrived on the scene.  I was incredulous!  How could this be?  Load up the ingredients and push a button?  It seems so,   so Jetson-like! (Okay, I am most certainly dating myself—if you don’t know who the Jetsons are, Google it.)  Anyways, when they first came out, the cost was prohibitive.  But soon, they became more affordable, so I splurged.

Bread Machine

And I have never looked back.  In fact, I am probably on my 5th   or 6th  machine.  And right now, I have two in my pantry.  Because.  Because sometimes they don’t make a large enough recipe, so that I have to use two.  And because, whenever I see a decent one at the thrift store or garage sale, I pick them up, and usually for under $5.  I clean them up, test drive them and then download the manual from the internet.  I have purchased them for my daughters and friends, and family members,  because I just cannot imagine anyone not owning one.

So, why am I so infatuated?  Here is my fascination:  measuring the ingredients and starting the machine only dirties up two– maybe three items. (And if you read my dishwasher diaries, you know how important this feature is to me.)  Then, you push a button and voila’– you are on your way to perfect bread!

But let me add this one caveat- which is likely the reason why people discard their machine.  Unless I simply do not have the time to do otherwise, I do not bake my bread in my bread machine.  I am hopelessly devoted to the dough cycle of these marvelous inventions.  In my book, (whatever  book  that means) they make the very best bread dough this side of manna heaven.  The fact that the non-stick bread pan means that you use less flour, and have a warm motor with powerful kneading action means that your dough creation is perfect for most any breads that anyone would want to put into a regular oven.

Simply put, I just don’t think any aforementioned invention quite measures up to this magical machine!  I just hope to high heavens that they never quit making them—or that I never deplete my back up supply.  I just cannot imagine taking a step backward in time!

 Posted by at 12:30 pm
Mar 252013
 

Hello!  Here it is:  New ZipList Feature

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onlymybestrecipes.com  has partnered up with Zip List an online grocery list and recipe clipping site, to help you all to save time and money.  Here’s how it works.

1. First of all, you will want to create an account….. this takes about 2 minutes and it free.
(I know, not another password to remember!)  
This one will be worth it, I promise.
2. Look for the little blue Save Recipe buttons at the end of my recipes, then,
click on them to add to your personal recipe box
3.  To ZipList recipes on sites without this feature just install a ZipList button
to your toolbar(Just like on Pinterest).  As you are browsing the web for recipes
you can zip them into your recipe box for later.  You can also create a shopping
list from the recipes in your box.
4.  You can also clip some coupons from this site.  To find out more about how
ZipList can simplify your grocery shopping and 
organize your recipes from the web click here.Also, you may want to try the new
printer friendly button, you can choose to print the recipes.  And our new share
buttons (below) will enable you to share any way
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I hope that you will find this addition to be user friendly.  One of my blog readers
suggested it a few days after I had discovered it.  I decided it was worth the “try it and see” .
Let me know what you think!
Happy Monday!
Arlene
 Posted by at 4:52 pm
Mar 242013
 

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Okay, I know that my health conscious friends will turn up their noses at this recipe.  First of all, it is definitely NOT gluten free.  Second, I use hotdogs.  Yes, I just typed that out:  HOTDOGS.  They are probably one of America’s most popular food, but OMG, not the healthiest thing to put into your mouth.

Anyhew— I still crave them.  And although I am married to a beef rancher, we still stretch a BBQ meal (cookout, for you who say “y’all”) by cooking up hotdogs on the grill.  Believe it or not, I actually salt them with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and kinda sorta burn them so that they are black and crispy.  Yumm.  Makes me want to do that tonight, except that at the time of this writing, it is 12 degrees outside (even though spring arrived two days ago– Montana weather.)

So, to appease the beef industry, I will at least suggest that you buy all beef hotdogs.  And then, try this hot dog recipe—just be ready to be “hounded” to make it again.

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Here is what you will need

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting with your bread machine (which, by the way, is the BEST way to make bread dough)

Here is the dough recipe that you will make this hot dog recipe with:

 

My “Fab-Fave White Bread” dough for bread machines:

 

1 c. milk, warmed a little or at room temperature

1 egg

¼ c. sugar

1 t. salt

1 T. yeast

Place these ingredients in the bread pan and swirl together until the yeast is dissolved.

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Then, add:

3 c. flour

¼ c. shortening (again, I like Butter Flavor Crisco, for the flavor and color)

 

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Run the dough cycle of your machine, checking it to make sure that the dough is not too sticky (add a tablespoon of flour if it is.)

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Dough here is a bit too sticky– add a tablespoon of flour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t just start the cycle and not check the process—monitor the dough.  I often “help” it along in the beginning, pushing the flour with a rubber spatula to get it started.  Maybe I do this because I have literally worn out about 3 machines.  (My best advice:  start with less flour to begin with, adding more as needed)

Once the dough cycle is completed, drop the dough out on the counter, cover it and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

 

 

While the dough rests, put the hotdogs into hot water.  This is very important because the hotdogs should not be cold.  Once they are warmed, drain and place on a towel or paper towels to dry (which is also important, too.) You will need 10 – 12 hotdogs, depending on the size of the dogs.

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Roll the dough into a long rectangle, approximately 16 x 20.

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Place one hot dog on the end.  Cut the dough across using a pizza cutter.

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Roll the dog up, cutting the dough as pictured.

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Pinch the dough together.

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Roll the hot dog to seal the edges.  I also pinch off excess dough on the ends as I prefer not to have too much bread.

Place on a greased cookie sheet—a shiny one works the best.

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Continue until all the dogs are wrapped.  Allow to rise for about 1 hour, keeping covered with a light towel.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Before placing in the oven, take a very sharp knife and slice two openings to allow the steam to escape (otherwise your doggies will puff up and bloat)

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Bake on the middle rack for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your oven.  As always, I exhort you to “babysit” your stuff—every oven is different.   If you have taken the time to prepare your bread for the oven, don’t sabotage your end results by “going by the book” so to speak—take the time to check and check often!

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Remove once golden brown and the underside of your dough is baked.  (This is the determining factor as to whether your “dogs” are done.)

While still hot, use a cube of butter or margarine, rub all exposed dough with the stick.  This makes the dough stay soft and adds an extra bit of saltiness that your taste buds will enjoy.

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Allow to cool on a rack before packaging if not serving immediately.

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But let me tell you, fresh out of the oven, these dogs will not last long—get out the mustard and ketchup, or, do like my sister in law does at hunting camp:  top with chili and cheese.  OMG.  Dog Heaven- if ever there was one, this is it!

 

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Dough Doggies– Hot Dog Heaven!

Dough Doggies– Hot Dog Heaven!

Ingredients

  • 1 c. milk, warmed a little or at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 T. yeast
  • 3 c. flour
  • ¼ c. shortening (again, I like Butter Flavor Crisco, for the flavor and color)
  • 10 - 12 hot dogs

Instructions

  1. For pictured directions, go to: [http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/dough-doggies-hot-dog-heaven/]
  2. Place the first 5 ingredients in the bread pan and swirl together until the yeast is dissolved.
  3. Then, add the flour.
  4. Run the dough cycle of your machine, checking it to make sure that the dough is not too sticky (add a tablespoon of flour if it is.) Don’t just start the cycle and not check the process—monitor the dough. I often “help” it along in the beginning, pushing the flour with a rubber spatula to get it started. Maybe I do this because I have literally worn out about 3 machines. (My best advice: start with less flour to begin with, adding more as needed)
  5. Once the dough cycle is completed, drop the dough out on the counter, cover it and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
  6. While the dough rests, put the hotdogs into hot water. This is very important because the hotdogs should not be cold.
  7. Once they are warmed, drain and place on a towel or paper towels to dry (which is also important, too.) You will need 10 – 12 hotdogs, depending on the size of the dogs.
  8. Roll the dough into a long rectangle, approximately 16 x 20.
  9. Place one hot dog on the end. Cut the dough across using a pizza cutter.
  10. Roll the dog up, cutting the dough as pictured.
  11. Pinch the dough together.
  12. Roll the hot dog to seal the edges. I also pinch off excess dough on the ends as I prefer not to have too much bread.
  13. Place on a greased cookie sheet—a shiny one works the best.
  14. Continue until all the dogs are wrapped. Allow to rise for about 1 hour, keeping covered with a light towel.
  15. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake on the middle rack for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your oven. As always, I exhort you to “babysit” your stuff—every oven is different. If you have taken the time to prepare your bread for the oven, don’t sabotage your end results by “going by the book” so to speak—take the time to check and check often!
  16. Remove once golden brown and the underside of your dough is baked. (This is the determining factor as to whether your “dogs” are done.)
  17. While still hot, use a cube of butter or margarine, rub all exposed dough with the stick. This makes the dough stay soft and adds an extra bit of saltiness that your taste buds will enjoy.
http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/dough-doggies-hot-dog-heaven/
http://www.ziplist.com/

 

 

 

 Posted by at 7:44 am
Mar 212013
 

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Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Chili

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I woke up this morning feeling domestic—like maybe a little Rachel Ray-like.  Wishing that I had her retro kitchen and fab success.  Until I think about how hard she has worked to get there.  And remembering that she passed on having children— something I wouldn’t pass up for any or all worldly treasure–especially when I reflect on the entertainment our 2 ½ year old grandson brought us yesterday.  This transpired after Heston slurped down half of David’s 32 oz. caffeine gulp from McDonalds.  He managed to quaff most of it while I wasn’t supervising, and while Grandpa saw it but looked the other way, which is what grandparents do sometimes because they think it is so darling.  Parents have a fit while grandparents pretend to be sorry, all the while secretly chuckling about how amusing it is to broaden the children’s worldview.  This little oversight on our part produced an afternoon of high energy cuteness, including a video-worthy rendition of salsa dancing to the tune, “Rocky Top”.  I laughed till my cheeks ached.

So anyway…

I wanted to make my latest obsession—a super easy, tasty crockpot meal that comes from another blogger. I got it from my daughter, who got it from Pinterest.  You didn’t know that Pinterest is like a cookbook for the internet addicted?   Well, now you know.

So Paige, my daughter, pinned it, then made it; I tasted it, and I it was all over.  I mean, I was all over it!

It comes from a blogger, Rita’s Recipes, who you really must follow!  She was part of my inspiration to start my blog, because her blog idea is to post really great recipes, once a month.  It brought me my “aha!” moment that told me, “I should blog!”

So, because I always keep these ingredients on hand so as to indulge when needed, I pulled out my crockpot and assembled the stuff.

Now, I must tell you, this recipe is nothing short of fabulous!  It is super versatile, super easy, uses common ingredients (that you can always keep on hand) and is universally liked! This is perhaps the very best recipe I have ever gotten off the internet!  In fact, it is so good that it qualifies for the comment from my husband:  “Again?”

Let me explain:  It seems that when I discover something new and easy to make, that I make it, and make it all too often.  It’s not that he doesn’t love it, he does!  It’s just that I tend to repeat a successful gig until he has to say, “Enough”.  So predictable– the very night that I made this for my blog post, I told him we were having Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Chili, and he had this “Again?” reaction!   I soooo know my husband. (I have to admit, he is right—if I had my way, pizza would be on my menu more often than not.  He calls it “Pizza Fatigue”) Hmmm.  That just gave me an idea—can this be a gourmet idea to topping for a pizza???

I better not go there.

So here it is—thanks bunches to Rita May!  My crock pot loves you!

 

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Ingredients that are easy to keep on hand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 chicken breasts, still frozen

1 can Rotel tomatoes with green chilis

1 can corn kernels, do NOT drain

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix

1 T. cumin

1 T. chili powder

1 t. onion powder
1 t. red pepper flakes- optional

1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese

 

 

Put the frozen chicken breasts in your crock pot.
Top with the tomatoes, corn, and the beans.
Add ranch dressing, and seasonings.

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First, stir these ingredients together and then top with the brick of cream cheese.

 

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Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring once or twice to blend in the cheese.  Resist the temptation to do this too often.  I’m not even going to tell you not to taste it here, you probably already have.

When ready to serve, remove the chicken, shred and return to the crock pot.

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Now the best part: decide how you want to serve this.

  1. Serve over rice
  2. or quinoa,
  3. in tortillas,
  4. over tortilla chips
  5. or thin it down with chicken broth for a soup.
  6. I have even caught my daughter warming it up to serve as a chunky dip!

 

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How do I love thee, Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken, let me count the ways!

Next, I think I will try substituting pork chops for the chicken, right after topping a pizza crust to create a gourmet style pizza!

Hopefully David will look the other way.

Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Chili– So easy, you can assemble it in under 10 minutes and leave it for the day. This recipe will get you raves!

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 6 hours

Total Time: 6 hours, 5 minutes

Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Chili– So easy, you can assemble it in under 10 minutes and leave it for the day.  This recipe will get you raves!

Thanks to Rita May, from whom I borrowed this recipe. check out her blog, Rita's Recipes!

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, still frozen
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes with green chilis
  • 1 can corn kernels, do NOT drain
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 1 t. onion powder
  • 1 t. red pepper flakes- optional
  • 1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese
  • Serve on:
  • Flour Tortillas
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Rice
  • Tortilla chips

Instructions

  1. [For pictured directions, go to:/ http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/crock-pot-cream-cheese-chicken-chili-so-easy-you-can-assemble-it-in-under-10-minutes-and-leave-it-for-the-day-this-recipe-will-get-you-raves/]
  2. Put the frozen chicken breasts in your crock pot.
  3. Top with the tomatoes, corn, and the beans.
  4. Add ranch dressing, and seasonings.
  5. First, stir these ingredients together and then top with the brick of cream cheese.
  6. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring once or twice to blend in the cheese. Resist the temptation to do this too often. I’m not even going to tell you not to taste it here, you probably already have.
  7. When ready to serve, remove the chicken, shred and return to the crock pot.
  8. Now the best part: decide how you want to serve this.
  9. Serve over rice or quinoa,in tortillas,over tortilla chipsor thin it down with chicken broth for a soup.
  10. I have even caught my daughter warming it up to serve as a chunky dip!
http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/crock-pot-cream-cheese-chicken-chili-so-easy-you-can-assemble-it-in-under-10-minutes-and-leave-it-for-the-day-this-recipe-will-get-you-raves/

 Posted by at 7:18 pm
Mar 192013
 

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Cheap, Easy and Quick Salsa

There is a restaurant near us that serves great Mexican food—I love their chimichangas, I DON’T LOVE their salsa  —  mainly because it stays with me until the next day, or the next shower—the garlic is just too pervasive!  I have been tempted to take a jar of my own salsa with me so I (we) don’t have to live with me smelling like a garlic bulb for the next week.

I acquired this recipe a long while back.  I think it bears a striking similarity to the Chili’s Restaurant’s salsa.  Taste and see what you think. I know that lots of my friends have secret recipes for elaborate unmeasured creations– creations that I love, but cannot make cause there is no “recipe” for them.  This is for beginners, cheaters and anyone who happens to have run out of salsa while assembling their Mexican dish (which by the way, my husband says is usually the same ingredients that are simply rearranged.)

But I am fond of this one because it is very simple to make and uses common ingredients. Canned tomatoes may not be as great  tasting as using fresh tomatoes, but it certainly works for me, because it kills me to spend the $$ for fresh ones.

Use fresh cilantro if you like, or none at all—you can make the call.  I find that many of my friends either love it or hate it.  I am non-committal.

Also, add more or less jalapenos to your taste.  This one rates as a medium salsa.  If you are like me, medium doesn’t satisfy– double the peppers for the burn that you crave.

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1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes

¼ c. sliced jalapeños

¼ c. chopped yellow onion

1 T. white vinegar

¾ t. salt

¾ t. sugar

¼ t. cumin

Dash dried cilantro (if desired)

Chop onions and jalapeños in food chopper—I like to use my Vidalia Onion Chopper for this.  Put these in a 1 ½ qt. bowl.

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Add spices, sugar, salt and vinegar.  Add tomatoes and stir.

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If you like chunky salsas, then you are done.  If you like smoother salsa, use a hand blender to blend it to your desired consistency.

The salsa is ready to eat, but like most salsas, it does improve with time.  Just be sure to store in a glass container.  It will forever change the smell of anything plastic!

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5 minute Salsa- incredibly easy and quick

Prep Time: 10 minutes

1 1/2 cups

5 minute Salsa- incredibly easy and quick

The salsa is ready to eat, but like most salsas, it does improve with time. Just be sure to store in a glass container. It will forever change the smell of anything plastic!

Ingredients

  • 1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • ¼ c. sliced jalapeños
  • ¼ c. chopped yellow onion
  • 1 T. white vinegar
  • ¾ t. salt
  • ¾ t. sugar
  • ¼ t. cumin
  • Dash dried cilantro (if desired)

Instructions

  1. [For pictured directions, go to:/http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/5-minute-salsa-incredibly-easy-and-quick/]
  2. Chop onions and jalapeños in food chopper—I like to use my Vidalia Onion Chopper for this.
  3. Put these in a 1 ½ qt. bowl.
  4. Add spices, sugar, salt and vinegar. Add tomatoes and stir.
  5. If you like chunky salsas, then you are done. If you like smoother salsa, use a hand blender to blend it to your desired consistency.
http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/5-minute-salsa-incredibly-easy-and-quick/

 

 Posted by at 5:19 pm
Mar 182013
 

 

 

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The Table came with the house.  Or should I say, the house came with The Table?  Since 1946, it hasn’t moved from its domain.  Like a silent family patriarch, a rich history is recorded on its sturdy benches and time worn surface.  Three generations from our family have poured coffee and broken bread ‘round its being.

It has no pretense for style or elegance, nor comfort and grace. The benches are hard and straight edged.  The table top, edged in a chrome-like metal, are sharp and hazardous. It is safe to say, The Table is not crème de la crème.

So when it was proposed that we get rid of The Table, I couldn’t believe what was said!  It was as though it had been suggested that tear out the apple trees!  Or burn the family Bible!  Or I had to repeat the idea in my head in order to digest it.  Get rid of the old Table???

We were planning a remodel, the second for this old farm house, and someone assumed that we would surely get rid of The Table. This was unimaginable … no, unthinkable! I had to agree, The Table was old in the sense of, well, seasoned.   And not very pretty, I’ll admit.  But it has a place in the history of this old house, and moving it to the barn or firewood pile would be like tearing away the precious or burning the sacred.

Built for Grandma Diehl in 1946, it is plain, but sturdily built.  Its 8’ by 4’ slab top is supported by plain Jane legs; the same style benches stretch the length of its expanse, posted underneath when not in use.  The bulk of its structure is painted milk white, the benches accented with black paint on the edges. Cream colored linoleum covers the expansive table top; inscribed with a mottled sheen, its surface is a semi-random road map of wear produced by years of passing potatoes and pushing hot coffee.  Yes, this Table is anything but pretty … but despite its lack of beauty, I cherish its company in the family kitchen.

Created for utility, its job was to accommodate thrice daily meals for hired help.  Grandma Diehl’s kitchen was the idyllic picture of what American farms provided for their hired help.  This was a time when room and board was common wage; Grandma prepared hearty provisions for laborers on the dairy farm that she and Grandpa Diehl operated in the Prickly Pear Valley near Helena, Montana.  Along with five sons of her own, the workers at the ranch were rewarded with home cooked meals served at The Table in the main house.   The benches endured field-dirty Levi’s and shop-greasy coveralls, being refurbished annually with fresh paint to cover the year’s scratch and dent collection.

When Grandma and Grandpa moved off the ranch to a home in town, my husband’s parents inherited The Table and the 1917 home that housed it. Peggy was the new keeper and cook. A new remodel replaced painted cupboards with varnished birch cabinets.  A new stove and dishwasher came on to the scene.  The ranch help now received twice daily meals, cooked by the young farmwife along with four of her own little diners.

The increase of technology brought decrease in laborers, but the quality of provender retained the Diehl reputation for home style and bounty. When I arrived on the farm in 1973, only one hired man was fed at The Table.  By this time, three of the young diners from Peggy’s table had become the workforce. The fourth was her mother’s assistant.  I watched with admiration, the joy and diligence applied to the cooking duty.  Pitching in was my internship; too wrapped up in teenage activity, this eighteen- year-old had never learned to cook.  Peggy’s farmwife ease in putting on the chow inspired my domestic side and her example of casual hospitality was a trait I desired and had determined to acquire.

In 1979, my turn came to move into the “main house.”  I looked forward to the prospect of filling these women’s shoes, or better, their potholders.  The farm technology now meant only seasonal need for a few hungry teens during the summer months.  While raising three small children, I relished the art of filling the hollow legs of two or three teenagers whose mothers rarely cooked such fare. In addition to our daily meals, holidays and birthdays gave occasion to surround The Table with the Diehl clan, an extended family then numbering 13 in all.

By 1984, the condition of the birch cupboards, battered by years of constant duty, necessitated a kitchen remodel.  A new design removed the wall between livings and dining area; the old birch cabinets retired to the barn and new oak cabinets took up residence.  A vogue country look replaced 60’s decor. The Table still stood, a quiescent body of stout furniture, though clearly outmoded with its cream colored linoleum and saddle sore benches.

Enter the question… get rid of the table… get rid of The Table?????

The thought never tasted a second of consideration, or a bite of regard.

But, after some food for thought and a pound of effort, The Table and benches made a debut with a fresh coat of robin egg blue.  The linoleum gave way to an oak trimmed slab of “almond leather” Formica, this time angled at the corners.  A smorgasbord of gum was scraped from the underside and hours of elbow grease had removed Grandma’s annual bench painting.

The Table remains in this remodeled state, with one alteration made in 1991.  The conclusion of that year’s wheat harvest brought change; a spinal cord infection stole the use of my husband’s legs.  A ramp to the old house would be built and a taller clearance was carved at one end of The Table, allowing David’s wheelchair to be seated at the head.

The Diehl family clan, then 24 in all, still allowed us to live in the house that is home for The Table, though our share of the work has been lessened by the presence of the wheelchair.  And sadly, Lou Gehrig’s disease claimed Dan, the third born of Peggy’s little diners. At present, the third generation dines at The Table.  Our son, Nicholas, after completing his college degree, declares his commitment to come back to the farm. Two sons-in-law, Trinity and Jeramy, have been welcomed to dine, and room for the fourth generation is numbered at five kidlets.

Now, at my new home, built to accommodate David’s wheelchair, I sit down for a solitary breakfast, (for my diners have all flown the nest), the sun’s slanted rays shine on the ranch to the west of us.   I now have taken  leave of its presence in the same way that Peggy and Grandma Diehl have done … a new home, away from the main ranch, built to our specs.  When we first decide  that we are moving from the old ranch house to a new house on the hillside, it  brings strong protests from our daughters, Paige and Andrea, saying “Unthinkable!” — For they are strong soul ties attached to this old house.  To them, the prospect of our leaving The Table and its 66 year residence seems….  sort of like tearing out the apple trees or burning the family Bible.

So while drinking the day’s sunlight, I am reminded of some things unalterable:   though my life inherited change and my kitchen moved, it seems that one thing has remained unchanged: The Diehl Table, loved as it is,  would stay in its original home,  and life would continue with all its new directions.  For there are some things meant to be unmoved, and The Table, and all its blemishes,  is numbered among them.

 

table 1

 Posted by at 2:14 pm
Mar 172013
 

 

Simple, Sweet and Pink:  Frosty Strawberry Squares

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So when I was a fairly young bride, I discovered this strawberry recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

It looked easy—I was into easy.

It looked pretty—I was into pretty, AND pretty easy.

And I was into strawberry fruit stuff.

And I was very impressed with the amazing flavor combo of the salty-toasted-walnut-butter mixture and the fluffy strawberry cloud that melts in your mouth.  So much so that I almost ate it all before it made it to the freezer.

I count this as one of the best desserts you can make—but let me warn you:

This recipe is dangerous.

Why, you ask?  For me, I simply cannot have it in my house if I am counting calories.  It calls to me from the freezer.  I find myself lifting the foil tent, stealing a spoonful here, a spoonful there.  Sometimes I surrender to helping myself to a full serving, promising my scale that I will cut back elsewhere.  Or skip a meal, or spend a half hour on the stationary bike… or just tell myself that I deserved the reward for a hard day’s work.

Whatever.

Anyways, I think you will count this as one of your favorite strawberry recipes.  Just don’t count the calories while making it.

Oh and by the way, you can use the whipping cream as the recipe calls for it, whipping it up yourself, or save some time and use some prepared whipped topping—it works either way.  Using the prepared topping also means one less bowl to wash (as I said, I am into easy.)  Also, you can substitute fresh, sliced strawberry fruit instead of the frozen strawberries, adding more sugar – about ½ cup.  Either way, I think that you will discover it will not last long at your house.

Which may or may not be good.

 

So here it is:Frosty Strawberry Squares—a most irresistible strawberry recipe!

1 cup flour

¼ c. brown sugar

½ cup chopped walnuts, more or less as desired

½ c. butter or margarine, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a 9 x 13 inch pan, stir together the flour, brown sugar, walnuts and melted butter.

 

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Stir with a fork.

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Toast in the oven until browned; stirring occasionally.  Babysit your oven—stir every 10 minutes or so.  If you use a dark pan, it will brown more quickly. Reserve about 1/3 of this mixture and spread the remainder evenly over the bottom of the 9×13 inch dish.  Allow this to cool.  (If I am in a hurry, I empty the crumbles into a bowl and run the pan under cold water so that it is ready for the strawberry fluff.)

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Place crumbles in the pan and shake until evenly distributed over the bottom.

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Strawberry Fluff:

2 egg whites

¾ c. sugar

12 oz. frozen strawberries, partially thawed (I like to reserve 1/3 for topping)

2 T. lemon juice (usually ½ lemon, squeezed, or use bottled lemon juice)

Optional:  1 t. almond flavoring

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In a large bowl, whip the egg whites, lemon juice, white sugar and partly frozen strawberries until they can hold a stiff peak. This will take a long time if you don’t have a big hefty mixer.

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Next, prepare the whipping cream:

1 c. whipping cream or 1 small container of whipped topping, thawed.

In a separate bowl, whip the cream with an electric mixer until stiff but not grainy. (No need to beat the whipped topping if you cheat and use this.)

Fold into the strawberry mixture.

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Pour over the browned mixture and spread evenly. Top with the reserved walnut mixture.

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Freeze for 6 hours, or overnight.  (cover it with foil or plastic wrap)

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Serve partially thawed, topping with a spoonful of the reserved frozen strawberry mixture.

Hint:  Look the other way if your friends are licking the plates.

Or better yet, join them.
 

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Simple, sweet and pink: Our favorite strawberry dessert–Frosty Strawberry Squares

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours

Simple, sweet and pink:  Our favorite strawberry dessert–Frosty Strawberry Squares

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ c. brown sugar
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts, more or less as desired
  • ½ c. butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 egg whites
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 12 oz. frozen strawberries, partially thawed (I like to reserve 1/3 for topping)
  • 2 T. lemon juice (usually ½ lemon, squeezed, or use bottled lemon juice)
  • Optional: 1 t. almond flavoring

Instructions

  1. [For pictured directions, go to: /http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/simple-sweet-and-pink-our-favorite-strawberry-dessert-frosty-strawberry-squares/]
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. In a 9 x 13 inch pan, stir together the flour, brown sugar, walnuts and melted butter.
  4. Stir with a fork.
  5. Toast in the oven until browned; stirring occasionally. Babysit your oven—stir every 10 minutes or so. If you use a dark pan, it will brown more quickly.
  6. Reserve about 1/3 of this mixture and spread the remainder evenly over the bottom of the 9×13 inch dish.
  7. Allow this to cool. (If I am in a hurry, I empty the crumbles into a bowl and run the pan under cold water so that it is ready for the strawberry fluff.)
  8. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites, lemon juice, white sugar and partly frozen strawberries until they can hold a stiff peak. This will take a long time if you don’t have a big hefty mixer.
  9. Next, prepare the whipping cream:
  10. 1 c. whipping cream or 1 small container of whipped topping, thawed.
  11. In a separate bowl, whip the cream with an electric mixer until stiff but not grainy. (No need to beat the whipped topping if you cheat and use this.)
  12. Fold into the strawberry mixture.
  13. Pour over the browned mixture and spread evenly. Top with the reserved walnut mixture.
  14. Freeze for 6 hours, or overnight. (cover it with foil or plastic wrap)
  15. Serve partially thawed, topping with a spoonful of the reserved frozen strawberry mixture.

Notes

The crumbles are so wonderful, sometimes I double this part of the recipe!

http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/simple-sweet-and-pink-our-favorite-strawberry-dessert-frosty-strawberry-squares/

 

 

 

Mar 142013
 
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Photo by KJ Gregor

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I “married” the man I love, but “married into” the life I love.  David stole my heart during a June sunset as I watched him flood irrigate an alfalfa field.  As I sat in his brand-new ’72 Pontiac Ventura (bought with sweat), I fell for the romance that the hard- working farming lifestyle embraced.  In the midst of the hot, humid air, and pesky mosquitoes, my city-girl values came under review by the picture of the character that the farm work ethic produced in my 17 year-old boyfriend.  His commitment to getting the work done and the tangible fruits of his labor that I saw unfold that summer, made me see that life was more than earning a living.  It was about caring for the land, looking to the sky for favor, and harvesting virtue in your own character.

On that day, I decided that I would marry David, accepting the uncertainties included in the package. I knew that Saturday nights would be superceded by harvest and haying, overruled by a heifer in labor, or simply forestalled by the fatigue of my farmer husband.

   And now, like seed fallen to the ground, harvest has produced the next generation; today I watch our son walk in his father’s boots, forsaking city life seen at college to return to the soil.  To the joy of his parents, his love for farming is wrapped around fruits far beyond fields and corrals. A choice tied to the reward that farming reaps in the intangible: harvest in family, soul and character.

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Nick and his wife, Mindy ( who loves chickens!)

 Posted by at 6:28 pm
Mar 122013
 

“Pat’s Cornbread in a Skillet”

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I have some friends who operate a bed and breakfast just outside of the little town of Lincoln, Montana, otherwise known as the Home of the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski.  You probably remember when he was arrested?  If not, you may be too young, ’cause the spell check recognized the name I was trying to type, so his fame extends at least that far.  So that is pretty much irrelevant, but at least his arrest put Lincoln on the map.  So now you have this for a point of reference.

Patty is a fabulous cook who can put on a meal for 80 people with the greatest of ease.  She is a wise woman with what I think are Hollywood looks.  Her husband, Rick, is a Paul Bunyan, Grizzly Adams sort of guy and is the perfect antithesis of the Unabomber.  Both of them are inimitable people, with hearts as large as the Montana Big Sky.  I know that is an exaggeration, but, well, you get the point.

Their new venture is this:  they are a “safe house” for girls that need a new start in life.  A HUGE new start—a start that is free from prostitution, drugs and the life they could not call their own.  Perfect for this mission, they no doubt will succeed in being the parents that these girls could only dream of having, mentors that will show them the way to freedom through Christ.   I love them for their kind, sweet mission.

I also love to stay at the expansive log home, and dine at the bed and breakfast table.

But I digress–among all these other wonderful qualities, Patty can bake up the most undeniably delicious cakelike cornbread!  Her recipe is simple, uses common ingredients, and is often requested when I serve it up.

My recipe card calls it “Patty’s  Corn Bread”, but I shall rename it, “Pat’s Cornbread in a Skillet”.  Because blog recipes sort of demand a better name.

Name it what you like, but just be ready to share the recipe if you make it for your friends.  You will understand why it qualifies for the “Only My Best Recipes” award.

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Here it is–

“Pat’s Cornbread in a Skillet”

Place a 10” cast iron skillet in the middle rack of your oven.  Turn on your oven to 350 degrees.

Combine these dry ingredients in a large bowl:

1 ½ c. flour

2/3 c. sugar

½ c. cornmeal

1 T. baking powder

½ t. salt

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Next, place 1/3 c. butter into the skillet and return it to the oven.  Allow the butter to melt and bubble.

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Now, combine the wet ingredients:

1 ½ c. water or milk

2 large eggs

1/3 c. vegetable oil

Mix these ingredients thoroughly in a smaller bowl.

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Once the butter in the skillet is bubbly, stir the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir just until all the ingredients are combined.

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Remove the skillet from the oven, and slowly pour the batter into the pan, being careful to pour directly into the middle of the skillet. This will allow the butter to surround the edges of the batter so as to create a crispy, buttery crust.

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Bake for approximately 35 minutes, but check it after 25 minutes, because your oven may behave differently than mine.

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Serve hot, with honey or maple syrup and butter, or if you like, naked. It is that scrumptious.  I promise.  The crispy buttery edges are so delectable that you will never make your old recipe again, if you did have one.  And if this is your first (cornbread) rodeo, no other recipe will measure up to the Lincoln, Montana version.

I promise. I unconditionally promise.

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Here is the Ziplist version:

“Pat’s Skillet Corn Bread” the most delectable corn bread your lips and maple syrup will ever meet.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

8 - 10 servings

“Pat’s Skillet Corn Bread”  the most delectable corn bread your lips and maple syrup will ever meet.

Using a cast iron pan is the best, but you can still use any 9 inch pan. Darker is better!

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ c. flour
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • ½ c. cornmeal
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • ½ t. salt
  • 1 ½ c. water or milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 c. vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. [For detailed and pictured directions, go to: /http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/category/recipes/quick-breads/]
  2. Place a 10” cast iron skillet in the middle rack of your oven. Turn on your oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Next, place 1/3 c. butter into the skillet and return it to the oven. Allow the butter to melt and bubble.
  5. Now, combine the wet ingredients thoroughly in a smaller bowl.
  6. Once the butter in the skillet is bubbly, stir the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir just until all the ingredients are combined.
  7. Remove the skillet from the oven, and slowly pour the batter into the pan, being careful to pour directly into the middle of the skillet. This will allow the butter to surround the edges of the batter so as to create a crispy, buttery crust.
  8. Bake for approximately 35 minutes, but check it after 25 minutes, because your oven may behave differently than mine.
  9. Serve hot, with honey or maple syrup and butter, or if you like, naked.

Notes

Be ready to share this recipe!

http://www.onlymybestrecipes.com/pats-skillet-corn-bread-the-most-delectable-corn-bread-your-maple-syrup-will-ever-meet/

 

 Posted by at 4:46 pm
Mar 102013
 

The Wedding Chair

By Arlene N. Diehl

PN News article

Article as it appeared in the February 2003 issue of Paraplegia News.

            Winter had concluded and spring was upon us.  The April 5th wedding date was not far away.  Paige’s wedding had been on the front burner for several months and the female attention to planning every aspect of the big day had begun to wear thin on the male components of the wedding.    Nonetheless, the day was fast approaching and the dreams were beginning to encroach upon reality.

            So, following the advice of several wedding planner books, we made preparations for everything from wedding etiquette to reception detail. The ladies from our church transformed the old Community Center into a western style banquet hall, stringing white Christmas lights and positioning straw bales to create the ambiance of a Montana night under the stars.  With the decoration being complete, it was time to rehearse.

The detailed wedding planners had covered every practical to-do list and advised for every awkward family arrangement.  Their ready-made counsel seemed all-inclusive, except for the dilemma, our dilemma:  how to get Paige down the aisle?

Our dilemma did not include a blended family or a deceased parent.  No dysfunctional relationships had clouded this aspect.  Paige had a healthy love and virtuous respect for her father, one to be envied on any level.  Being most like her father, they easily tolerated one another’s view of life, and found that their shared objectivity often put them on the same page, reading life’s events in casual harmony.

So the question of who was to escort her was not a dilemma.  The question to resolve was a matter of transportation.  How would David escort Paige, his first daughter, to meet the man that she had chosen to spend the rest of her days with??

Our transport dilemma concerns the chair. David’s wheelchair.

Six springs had come and gone since David’s bout of transverse myelitis. Experiencing the grace and sufficiency of God, we had learned to adapt to David’s paraplegia.  Using creativity and ingenuity, we had resolved nearly any accessibility issue, including getting on a tractor.  Paige and her siblings knew a different kind of normalcy.

But this “different normalcy” still brought us to this dilemma:  how to have a “normal escort” down the aisle at Paige’s wedding?

We discussed the options.  With years of physical therapy, David had acquired the strength to ambulate with long leg braces; having never recovered the nerves for sensory or motor function, his gait was difficult and dangerous without a strong escort to assist every step.  Technically, he could walk her down that aisle.

Or perhaps David could hold her arm, while I follow, pushing the chair from behind?

Or how about both of us grip the wheelchair and sandwich David in between while steering our way to the front of the church?

None of these came close to normal, and certainly none was the picture that we were hoping to create.

Then our wedding organizer, Jill, made a suggestion.  Why not take the escort while sitting on David’s lap??  No, it was not normal.  But neither was it abnormal, since Paige was quite comfortable climbing onto her father’s lap for far less important occasions.  So, having eliminated all other possibilities, it was decided.  At an ordained moment in time, Paige was to appear at the top of the stairs.  When all was ready, she would seat herself on his lap, receive her bouquet and make ready for the escort.  David, strong and muscled, would wheel the chair forward and take his passenger to the front of the church, where Trinity would then take her hand to help her to her feet.

It was settled.  Rehearsing brought confirmation and emotion to all.  And since this was what Paige and her Dad wanted, it was natural for them.  We knew that the real moment would be a tearful one, even if David could walk.  But envisioning this picture, I mostly feared that the emotion would flood over father and daughter, making it all the more difficult for mom to stay afloat.  But that didn’t matter at this juncture.  A wheelchair ride is what it would be.

The day came.

All the effort put into the planning was not in vain. But all the painstaking anticipation did not predict that the plans of a girl and her father would upstage every detail with stunning display.  Every eye would record the picture of the bride’s radiance and her father’s victory over adversity as the two redefined the traditional trip down the aisle.

Did we remain composed? Of course not.  And even though I knew how the stage would unfold, I still had to fight hard to protect my makeup from the tears bursting within. So, with a curious mix of joy and sorrow, my wish for normalcy was drowned by immeasurable gladness for the two passengers on that chair.  There was a collective hush and strain to see as they forged ahead, both seeming unfazed by the outpouring of surprise and emotion erupting all around them.

The rolling escort concluded with a graceful assist to a stand.  Paige now stood, ready to say her vows and to be joined to a new escort in her journey into time. A simple escort was the day’s crowning glory.

 

Though ours is an abnormal journey, we thank our Heavenly Father that we can celebrate each season. We have learned long ago that although normalcy is what we desire, gratefulness has brought a different gladness.  And although we disdain the chair, that dark winter of life has forged our character within, bonding parents and children in a way that “normal” could not.

            It has been said that we could not appreciate spring if it were not for the winter.  I believe that is true… There are times like this wedding that our senses and emotions not only savored a wondrous spring, but at the conclusion of the day, it is certain to say that what our seasoned hearts had experienced …  was truly … the glory of summer.

Here is David with his daughters, Paige and Andrea, both of whom he “carried” down the aisle.

Paige and her father

Paige and her father

Andrea and her father

Andrea and her father

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 Posted by at 7:38 am
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