Whimsical and Homespun Art Creations with a Little Rural Living Thrown In

Friday, December 31, 2010

Thrifty Friday Find~ Vintage Cast Iron Griddle/Pizza Pans

These were some treasured finds that get used quite a bit in this household. They are flat cast iron breakfast griddles. They can be used over a flame or burner and were manufactured by Piqua and Wagner. They are excellent for making pancakes in the morning. While watching the dvd "Frontier House" from PBS, I noticed that Adrienne Clune got creative in her cooking. In one scene on her wood burning stove, there appeared to be something similar to pizzas formed on similar cast iron pans. The light bulb clicked on... I had those griddles. I am happy to use my cast iron whenever possible, and I love to make homemade pizza. This was a match made in heaven...

This New Year's Eve, our family had homemade pizza and garlic bread. I made it with a thick Chicago style crust (can be found at King Arthur Flour on side bar.). I just use any leftover dough to make cheesy garlic bread. A word of caution... spread the dough thin as it rises more in the oven. I always coat the griddles with a little Crisco before spreading the crust out. It helps to keep the pans seasoned. The griddles are placed two settings up from the element to get a crisper bottom to the crust. Be careful if you have the large Piqua griddle with the wire handle. I was taking it out of the oven a few months ago and lost my grip on balancing the cast iron bottom. The pizza flipped onto the floor! Yikes!! :( They slide easily from the cast iron surface. The pizza is cut on a wood board. I would rather not have the tomato sauce to come in contact with the griddle. It can be rough on the seasoned surface. I highly recommend cooking pizza in this way. I suppose it would be effective in a cast iron skillet as well. Maybe even better if one was making a deep dish pizza. Hey... now there is something to try in 2011!!

As I wrap up this post, the year 2010 is coming to an end. It has been a wonderful year. I am happy with my accomplishments... thrilled that this blog is up and running. I look forward to sharing more endeavors, setting aside more time for creating and blogging, and designing a page to sell items on this blog and on Etsy. I raise my glass of spiced cider to the arrival of 2011. May everyone be blessed with good health, happiness, and prosperity in the New Year.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Danish and Wassail Recipe

I probably should have listed this before the holiday, although this is a wonderful treat throughout the year. Here was a simple but delicious... easy yet full of flavor breakfast my family enjoyed on a beautiful Christmas morning (to be honest it made a great dessert for that night, too!). I was lucky enough to get this recipe from my Aunt Barb a few months ago. It is adapted from the Pillsbury Danish recipe (that are made in individual servings). This recipe is constructed in a 13 x 9 pan. The beauty of this recipe is that my whole family can cut their own size portions (less waste), and it can be made the night before and refrigerated. Yay!!

Here is the Danish recipe:

2 pkgs crescent rolls
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1t vanilla
2 (8oz) cream cheese (easier if softened)

Unroll the first package of crescent rolls, keeping the dough in a sheet, and cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

Make filling by mixing cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla. Spread the mixture evenly over the crescent roll dough in the baking dish.

Unroll the second package of crescent rolls and place over top of cream cheese mixture.

1/4 c. sugar
1t cinnamon
1/2 c. chopped nuts (Optional)

Sprinkle this over the top layer of dough. You can cut amount if you do not like a lot of sugar (or use a vanilla glaze drizzle after the danish has cooled).

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.

Note: I prefer Pillsbury Crescent rolls for this recipe. Some of the off brands are just to greasy. I also prefer the name brand cream cheese. If you are a sale shopper like me, these items are constantly on sale at holiday time!

**Note:  Want to give it a little more pizzaz?  Top it with your favorite pie filling... Yummmmm! :)  ***

Do you want an easy drink that can be made ahead of time and heated up in the microwave? (Although if you make it during a holiday, the smell is just wonderful!) Here is a great wassail recipe that I have used through the years.

Wassail Punch Recipe:

2qt. apple cider
2c. pineapple juice
1/2 c. sugar
4 sticks of cinnamon (if they are short you can add a few more)
2 c. orange juice
1/2 c. lemon juice
12 whole cloves (I've been known to throw in a half a dozen more)

In a large kettle, bring all ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Remove cinnamon and cloves. Serve warm. Makes about 3 1/2 quarts.

Note: I usually halve the recipe for my family. Make sure you get the good apple cider that is cloudy with pulp. It is sooo much better. I've been known to freeze half gallons of cider during harvest time to save for the winter months!

Friday, December 24, 2010


May the wonder and excitement of the season fill your heart with joy!

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pecan Pie in a Jar

I love pecan pie (almost as much as I love pumpkin!). Many times I have enjoyed a slice, but I have never took the time to actually make this pie. Since I am the only one in my family that likes pecan, I thought, "Why not make it in a jar?" I found a southern recipe that sounded good, cracked some pecans our neighbors gifted us from Missouri, and created my mini pies. A standard 10 inch pie crust worked well for this project along with a recipe for a 9" pie filling. The pic is a little dark, but I must say they turned out well. YUM!

As everyone knows, pecan is a super rich and sugary pie. (Gelled syrup and nuts? What would you expect!) So, controlled portions is always good. One thing I would change is to make six or seven jars instead of five and make the pie more shallow in the jar. Doing five jars made the pies way to thick and caused the baking time to go quite a bit longer than the recipe called for. Now granted baking longer is no big deal, but a bubbling and rising pie that threatens to go over the jar is not a pretty sight. Also, the less time cooking... the less time the pecans are browning. (Foil can only protect them for so long!) Plus, I could only eat half of the pie for a dessert. Thank heavens for a sealed lid to save leftovers, but I think a more shallow pie needs to be created. Something more similar to the depth of the mini pecan pies that can be found in the stores would be nice.

Even with the future changes, I consider this kitchen experiment a success. I will never again have to wait for a special event to have a slice of this great pie. Which reminds me... I better go walk the dust off my treadmill. I think that I could use the exercise! ;)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thrifty Friday Find~ Reed's Rocket Nut Cracker

I can remember, way back when I was a kid ;) , Santa bringing us a fruit basket at Christmas, and there was always mixed nuts sprinkled through out. My Dad would always carry a pliers in his pocket and could crack any kind of nut without dropping a shell or ruining the contents. What was his secret? He was gifted in being able to cup his hand around the pliers without pinching himself in the process, when the nut finally cracked. This was NOT a talent of mine, and let me tell you that pinch that followed the loud (or was it fear that made it sound loud??) crack hurt like the devil. (Did anybody else get a nasty blood blister from trying something so stupid??) Not to mention, it was no thrill to try and sort minuscule nut meats apart from pulverized shells. And just in case you were wondering... stealing Dad's hammer was no better. Over the years, I graduated to a meat tenderizer (to my hubby's horror) for my bludgeoning tool. Ahhhh the memories, but those days are gone... my counter is now safe from being marred. There is a new tool in my arsenal...

This is a Reed's Rocket Nut Cracker, and it was found at a garage sale unused in its original box. My Dad found me this... well, actually he found two... lucky me!! This little gem was manufactured in Arkansas, which is no surprise, since it works brilliantly on pecans. Okay to be honest, the pecans I am cracking were brought back up from Missouri! It is easy to get the pressure just right to produce beautiful pecan halves. I only wish my recipe called for halves! :( LOL This by far is the best nutcracker that I have ever used. Christmas morning is going to find me trying out some hazel nuts in this baby!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Painted Reindeer Gourd

Here is a little guy to get us into that holiday mood! This North Carolina gourd appeared to be the perfect shape for a reindeer. I love working in the earth tones and used a design that lends itself to the primitive side of Christmas. His antlers are done with twigs, and some rusty jingle bells strung between them to add to the festive feel. He sits so nicely at 13 1/2 inches tall.

How do you like that hat? I love the long hats with tassels, and this gourd was perfect for one of this length! The plaid hat and scarf were chosen to accentuate the earthy, outdoor theme. I did have to add a smidgen of hot glue to keep his hat out of his eyes.

It wouldn't be Christmas without Santa. Isn't this a lovely scene? It has such a simple flair to it, and the browns come across with a very gingerbread feel to them. For being such warm tones, the white pops out and gives a wintry chill to this whimsical scene. This little guy is one of my favorite gourds so far... :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Mouse Caught the Gingerbread Man!

So what have I been up to this past week? Decorating for Christmas! We even had 6 inches of snow to add to the merriment. I love to collect decorations for Christmas throughout the year, but my favorite pieces are the ornaments that my son has made me over the years and taking them out each winter always brings a smile to my face. At the end of the season, I carefully pack them away and store them in my upstairs side closet. Each year went along smoothly as the one before with its new handmade ornament added to the group... That was until that fateful year... Oh yes, the dreadful year when a mouse found his way into our house! And where do you think he decided to set up residence? Yep, in our side closet!

It has been some years since the incident, but I remember the time well. It was an early fall. As I began to doze off in bed, I heard a scratching at the wall behind me. No way! My cat raised her head up, and sure enough, the scratching of little paws could be heard again. Then, our little friend raced up and down the length of the closet, having a gay old time for a good part of the night. At the time, I thought he was a little to jazzed up even for a mouse. Little did I know, he was on his own personal sugar high!

It took a couple of days, and the intruder was caught. I did not think much more about our unwanted visitor until a few months later when decorating for Christmas. I was unpacking decorations for our main tree and pulled out my son's handmade gingerbread man. Now in my defense, this gingerbread man had been stored without incident in the closet for three Christmases prior, but unfortunately, that record was about to be broken. The photo you see below is the repaired ornament. At the time, he emerged from the box missing his M&M eyes/nose and chocolate chip smile. (Thankfully, I am a chocoholic and that was quickly mended!) But as you can see, this mouse lacked a fondness for clean fresh peppermint breath, and he left a good portion of them behind. Instead of ruining the little man by pulling off the starmints (this candy hoarder had some of those on hand too!) I chose to leave those 'as is' as a reminder of the adventure this ornament had.

I must add that now this ornament is kept in a drawer in my front room. I laugh every year when I see him. Some people may not like the idea of half eaten peppermints, but maybe it is the Beatrix Potter in me that thinks it is a story waiting to be told every year.

Just an interesting side note... In the same box of Christmas decorations, there was an ornament that my son made out of a dog biscuit. Oddly enough, the mouse left that untouched. I guess, I really don't blame him. My preference has always been for sweets, too!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thrifty Friday Find~ Chenille Bedspread

I love going to resale shops this time of year, when the flea markets and garage sales have finished for the cold months. My favorite stores sell for charitable organizations. This gives me the benefit of finding a few nice items for myself, some interesting pieces to recycle, and make a charitable contribution at the same time. Yay! Here is one of my latest finds... a aqua chenille bedspread. Isn't it lovely? As you can see from the photo, there is a rust stain on a little bit of the spread and fringe, slight fraying to one of the finished (non fringed) corners, and a few fringe that found their tips in mauve paint at some point in their existence. Other than that, this bedspread is in great shape for its age.

I do not see chenille bedspreads as often as I used to at sales. This might be due to the fact that they have become a popular crafting media. Plus, they make a beautiful bed covering in a vintage accented room.

I am not sure what I will do with this find. If my memory serves me correct on visual inspection (I worked in linens and window coverings for 2 1/2 years.), I believe this is a twin bed size which is not a bed size that I own. It may end up being a wealth of material for some projects that I would like to do. I will put it away, for now, in my blanket chest and decide its purpose later.

I have been coming across some very interesting treasures lately. You never know what you will find as new donations keep pouring in to these stores. I am very happy with this piece. Oh and by the way... I thought it was a pretty thrifty buy for $1.00! :)