wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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American Thanksgiving

Just when you think things are so bad that you have nothing to be thankful for, along comes the Thanksgiving holiday to remind us of so many blessings in our lives.

I won’t begin to name any of the thousands of things we have to be thankful for. Each of us has a perspective uniquely our own. Some might be thankful for good health, while others in failing health are thankful for other things that they have come to appreciate. Some might be thankful for having lots of money, while others are just as happy with much less.  My own thought on that is ,”Money isn’t everything, but it sure helps.”

Whatever your circumstances allow, it’s important to make the most of the good things in life.

If you are lucky enough to be with friends or family on Thanksgiving, why not share some of the things you are truly thankful for.

H     Home for holidays is fine,

A     Appetizers, and some wine,

P     Pie dessert is understood,

P     Pumpkin’s always pretty good,

Y     Yams and taters fill the plate,

T     Turkey dinner would be great.

H     Happy family, sisters, brothers,

A     Aunts and uncles and their “others,”

N     No one needs to be left out,

K     Kinship’s what it’s all about.

S     So much to be thankful for,

G    Guests and family we adore.

I     It’s a happy time of year,

V    Valued friends that bring us cheer.

I     It’s a ritual affair,

N   Nothing else can quite compare,

G   Giving thanks for all we share.

 

In case you have trouble getting a turkey this year with all the supply chain problems just choose one of these Merriam’s wild turkeys I “shot” for you by the Missouri River.

 

To all my American friends and family, I wish you a happy Thanksgiving holiday.

 

 


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Easy Sandwich Buns

A bread machine can do more than just make bread. I haven’t made bread in it for ages. I’ve found that it’s quicker and easier to make flat buns. I’ll talk about the recipe at the end.

The advantages of making these buns instead of bread:

  • you can freeze the buns in ziplocs, six or eight to a bag and take out one or two as you need them
  • you don’t have half a loaf of bread that is less than fresh, sitting in the fridge
  • the buns are almost as fresh as if they were just out of the oven if you put the frozen bun in the microwave for 20+ seconds
  • they make great sandwiches
  • toast them if you want
  • you don’t use your bread machine for baking as much because you only use the dough setting, and so you prolong the life of your paddles and the “plastic” seals that seat them (you don’t bake the seals, which always seem to be the first to go in a bread machine).

 

When  the two hours of the dough setting have timed out and your dough is mixed and has risen, place the dough on a board and cut in half.

 

Press one half into a rectangle. You can use a rolling pin or just press with your hands. I just use my hands. Then cut the piece once lengthwise and then make cuts for eight pieces. Place those pieces on a buttered baking sheet. Do the same for the second piece of dough and place on a second baking sheet.

Whisk one whole egg in a small bowl. If my whisk isn’t handy I use a fork.

With a pastry brush, paint the beaten egg over the top of each bun. If you have a dog or cat, you might want to put that leftover egg in the microwave for a few seconds and after it cools, give them a treat.

After I brushed these buns with egg, I sprinkled cardamom and cumin on them, having ground some cardamom and cumin seeds in an old coffee grinder. I also sprinkled a few grains of coarse salt on the buns, but these are things that you can omit if they don’t suit your taste buds.  You can make up your own toppings to sprinkle on, or have none.

I put my oven on very low for a few minutes and then turn it off. When it is just barely warm, I place the two baking sheets in the oven to rise for about 20 minutes or so.

Then I take them out, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the buns, one sheet at a time, for 22 minutes each. If I had a bigger oven or a convection oven I might be able to bake both baking sheets at once, but you know your own oven and will be able to figure out what works for you.

 

For these buns, you can change the basic recipe and play around with your ingredients to suit your own preferences.

Basically:

2 cups of  lukewarm liquid

2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. honey (or sugar)

2 tsp. salt

5 cups flour

2 tsp. fast acting  (instant) yeast

*****

What I do:

I pour two cups of milk into a big measuring cup and put it in the microwave for two minutes.

Pour the milk into the bread pan in the bread machine.

Add the butter, salt, and honey.

Then, instead of using 5 cups of flour, I substitute for one of the cups of flour and use rolled oats, or Sunnyboy cereal, or cracked wheat, or whatever I feel like adding. Sometimes it’s a mixture of the above.

If I have them handy, I like to add a tablespoon of fennel seeds from my garden. I collect them in the fall and dry them, and they are so handy for baking or for adding to a mint tea.

On top of the flour, I add two teaspoons of the instant yeast.

*****

One last thing:

The buns work well for making garlic toast. Just cut a bun open as if you were making a sandwich, and then cut the two pieces in half. Spread with crushed garlic and butter. Toast under the broiler for a VERY short time. Use a timer, one minute at a time.

 

They also work really well for making paninis.

 


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First Dampish Days

A dampish day, but that’s okay,

The sky is overcast,

The garden’s wet, so I’m all set,

The watering chore is past.

 

A squirrel hops, he looks, and stops,

He chatters to my face,

Then turns to run and have more fun,

At some much safer place.

 

I pick a pear and am aware

That rabbits like to chew,

If fruit should fall to ground at all,

It’s nibbled through and through.

 

The garden thrives and gives up chives

To make a lovely sauce,

But not the squash, it was a wash,

Complete and total loss.

I’m glad that kale does not get stale,

It’s growing, slow but strong,

This healthy plant in soup just can’t

Make anything go wrong.

 

A lonely rose, so bravely grows,

And blooms its last few days,

But come next year, you must not fear,

Again, it will amaze.


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A Savoury Haircut

My savoury plant was in dire need of a haircut. I’m sure it thought its usual hairdresser had gone out of business with the lockdown following the Covid outbreak. Imagine its surprise when the hairdresser came along with her shears and gave it that long overdue cut.

When the leaves are dry, I’ll strip them from the stems and put them in a jar to use throughout the winter until next year’s crop is ready.

 

 

My tendrils grew so wild and free,

And I no longer looked like me.

My tresses dragged, my body sagged,

And every passing bug got snagged.

 

I knew I was in dire need,

I looked like hell, oh yes indeed.

So when the pruners clipped my hair,

Someone responded to my prayer.

 

They saved my growth for other use

And saved me from this rude abuse

My leaves when added to the food,

Impart great flavour when it’s chewed.

 

And I no longer look so wild,

With hair like some unruly child.

I now look pretty, tidied up,

The folks will taste me when they sup.

 

It’s how I pay the salon fee

A cut and set that pampered me.

I’m glad that I won’t go to waste

And give to food a lovely taste. 

 


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The Car Thief – a True Story

“The car sure is nicer to drive than my truck.” I relaxed into the velour seat back. “It’s like a luxury limousine.”

My mother-in-law smiled. “Harris loves his car. Keeps it in good condition.”

“He’s a real car buff, isn’t he?”

“Oh, yes. Always has been. Ever since we were married, sixty-six years ago,” Myrtle said. “He’s very fussy about his cars.”

“I’m surprised he let me drive it. But I guess he wants you to be comfortable .”

“That’s right. Now don’t take this the wrong way, but Harris thinks ladies shouldn’t have to ride in trucks, and I know you don’t have a choice.  But it is a long drive to Nanaimo and he thought we’d enjoy it more if we took his car.”

“It’s a treat to drive a car for a change. Feels like we’re floating along in a dream.” I was pleased that Harris trusted me to drive it. He had it all shined up on the outside and vacuumed inside. “You wouldn’t know it was ten years old. You still see lots of them around but not many in good shape like this one. It’s like a brand new car.”

“He spent hours on it yesterday,” Myrtle said.

“It’s our lucky day. Parking spot right by the door. Doesn’t look too busy yet either,” I said as I looked through the large plate glass window of our favorite bakery.

Lunch was delicious as always, and half an hour later, we came out of the bakery loaded down with bags of rye bread and buns.

“Hope I can still fit into some clothes after that lunch. Where would you like to shop first, Myrtle?”

“You lead the way. You always find good quality places to shop.”

“Hang on a sec,” I said. “Here. Can you hold the bread while I get the door for you?”  I fished Harris’s keys out of my purse. “I know one of these is for unlocking and the other is for starting the car,” I mumbled to myself as I fit one of the keys into the lock.

The door wouldn’t open. Myrtle stood by the car waiting patiently.

“Must be the other key. Don’t worry. I’ll have it open in a sec.” I flipped the keychain around and tried the second key. It too, was sticky going into the lock. “Maybe I had it upside down.” I turned it and again jiggled it in the lock. No luck. “That’s funny.…”

“Anneli. What does that man want?” Myrtle pointed at the bakery window.

A middle-aged man inside the bakery was leaning over the bench seat, banging on the window with the palm of his hand.

“I don’t know but he looks mad at us.  Why’s he pointing at the car?” I looked up at him with a puzzled frown.

“Now he’s pointing at himself.”

I looked at Harris’s keys, then at the angry man at the window. He was still pointing at the car and at himself. I turned to look at Myrtle and that’s when I saw it. Parked next to the vehicle I was trying to enter—Harris’s car.

*****

If you are interested in easy writing tips, please visit my other blog https://annelisplace.wordpress.com/


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Easy Snacking Bread

Have you ever wished you had some little treat to offer a friend to go with that cup of tea or coffee you’re offering? No cookies or squares in the freezer? Here’s something that you can make ahead and freeze for any time. Now that I think about it, this would go well with beer or wine as well.

A bread machine helps but you can still mix, knead, and let the dough rise in the usual way. I’ve become lazy and use my bread machine all the time. This is a regular white bread recipe, but I’ve added about half a cup of 12-grain mix and eased off on the flour by a quarter cup. You can use any recipe you like – whole wheat if you prefer it.

My basic bread recipe is at the end of the post.

I’ve cut the dough into two portions to roll out with the rolling pin and put each one on a buttered cookie sheet.

Then I added a clove of crushed garlic to about a quarter cup of olive oil in a little bowl and mixed it around. I brushed the oil mixture onto the flattened bread dough, and then sprinkled some powdered cumin on it. I made the cumin powder by putting cumin seeds in an old coffee grinder to pulverize them.

You can use any kind of herbs or spices, whatever suits your palate. That flour you see in the cup was only for sprinkling on the dough as I used the rolling pin. Sometimes the dough is stickier than other times. I was lucky this time and hardly needed any.

I was experimenting here, so I wasn’t sure whether to cut the dough before or after baking, but as it turned out, cutting it before was the better way to do it. You don’t have to cut it all the way through. Just a quick score will do it.

Then let the dough sit in a warm place for half an hour to an hour – until it puffs up a bit.

Bake it in a hot 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes. Because of the scoring, the pieces break apart easily. You can then eat them as they are or cut them open and add your favourite toppings (or none). The piece with the Jalapeño Havarti cheese slice on it was SO good!

When the bread is cool, you can put the pieces into Ziploc bags and freeze them for using any time. Before serving, putting them into the microwave for a few seconds will make them taste as if they just came out of the oven.

Standard Bread Recipe

2 cups milk (heated 2 minutes in the microwave – that should make it just warm enough to melt the butter but not kill the yeast)

2 Tbsp. honey (or sugar)

2 Tbsp. butter (or oil)

2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup 12-grain mix (optional)

5 cups flour (or quarter cup less if adding the 12-grain mix)

2 tsp. fast-rising yeast

Enjoy!


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Cinnamon Rolls

I used to make sticky buns (cinnamon rolls with a syrupy topping) but I’ve found that without the stickiness, these cinnamon rolls are much more fun to eat (unfortunately).

The easiest way is to use the dough setting on a bread machine. If you don’t have a bread machine you can still make up the dough the old-fashioned way (recipe at the end of the post).

Once the dough is rising, either in the machine or in your old-fashioned bread bowl, there is plenty of time to get the ingredients lined up.

I chopped pecans (which you can leave out if you have a nut allergy), and mixed up the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Currants are ready in a jar, but you can use raisins if you prefer them. Butter is waiting to be melted in the microwave just before I roll out the dough.

I like to make two smaller batches from the one dough recipe, so I cut the dough in half and then do the following procedures twice, once for each baking dish.

Roll out the dough in a rectangular shape, until it is a little less than half an inch thick. Spread melted butter over the rolled out dough.

Sprinkle the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture on the dough. You can make it quite heavy without hurting the outcome of the rolls. Add the nuts and currants. My rectangle didn’t turn out so well, but it didn’t matter that much.

Roll up the dough and cut into 12 pieces. I cut the roll in half and then cut the halves in half again, and finally I cut each of those four pieces into three. That allows me to make four rows of three in the baking dish, which I have already buttered very well.

Place the rolls into the baking dishes and then brush butter on the sides of each roll so it’s easier to take them out once they are baked. I press the rolls down so they are almost touching before letting them rise in a barely warm oven for about half an hour.

Below, you can see that I have pressed them down before letting them rise.

I set them in the barely warmed oven to rise for half an hour, and then turn them on to 375 degrees to bake for about 35 minutes. Watch them near the end of the baking time so they don’t burn.

The brown sugar in the rolls may have dripped through and baked into a bit of syrup, but this shouldn’t be a problem. The rolls should be easy to remove from the dish if you’ve remembered to be generous with the brushing on of butter between the rolls. Remove the rolls immediately after they come out of the oven.

The dough:

2 cups milk heated for 2 minutes in the microwave

2 T. butter

2 T. honey or sugar

1 1/4 tsp. salt

5 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp. fast rising yeast

*Optional: add a beaten egg to the liquid before adding the flour

The filling for the rolls:

3 T. melted butter (some of it to be used for brushing the sides of the rolls)

2/3 cup of brown sugar

1 T. ground cinnamon

3/4 cup (or more) chopped pecans (or other nuts)

1 cup currants or raisins

When the cinnamon rolls are in the oven, go put your feet up for about 35 minutes until they finish baking. The rolls, that is, NOT your feet!

This is a good time check out Anneli’s website at www.anneli-purchase.com


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Comfort Food

Yesterday I felt the need for comfort food. I took out a bag of frozen apples and a bag of frozen pears, but the pear bag was bigger than the apple bag, so rather than have one pie too big and the other too skimpy, I combined the fruit and made pearapple pies.

While I had a messy kitchen and a hot oven, I thought I might as well make some almond pie squares using half the sugar and adding a cup of coconut.

I won’t do the recipe thing here, because I’ve done posts on them both before. I’ll put the links to the posts with the recipes at the bottom of the page.

 

Almond Bars:

https://wordsfromanneli.com/2018/06/13/almond-bars/

Apple Pie:

https://wordsfromanneli.com/2016/08/11/apple-pie/

Anneli’s books to read while you eat your comfort food:

http://www.anneli-purchase.com/


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Simple but Good Scalloped Potatoes

Since we are all at home and have plenty of time, I thought it would be a good time to  make scalloped potatoes, and have enough for several meals if I put the extra portions in little tubs in the freezer.

The food processor makes a lot of the jobs easier, like slicing potatoes and onions and grating the cheese, but you can certainly do it with a knife if you don’t have a food processor.

I like to get all my ingredients ready before I start building the creation. Celery sliced fine, thin bits of ham, sliced potatoes, sliced onions, and grated cheese (I like to use Asiago in the middle for a zippy taste, and something that melts well – like cheddar or mozza on the top).

Don’t ask me how many potatoes. Maybe six? Seven? As many as it takes.

Butter a large casserole pan and put a layer of potatoes in the bottom.

Grind some pepper onto the potatoes but DO NOT put salt on if you are using ham. If you still crave more salt when it is done you can always sprinkle a bit on at the table.

Layer the onion, ham, cheese and celery in the pan. I ended up with one layer of celery and two of ham, probably three of potatoes, with Asiago in one of the middle layers. Arrange it any way you like. It doesn’t matter that much. I’ve heard some people say not to put the cheese and the onion next to each other or the cheese tastes too much like onion, but you have to suit yourself. Throw some more pepper on  now and then.

The cheddar or mozza goes on last, but before that last layer, I poured about two cups of half and half (coffee cream) into a measuring cup and added a couple of tablespoons of pesto. You don’t need to do the pesto thing but I thought I’d try it and we liked it. Parsley is probably the standard green stuff to put on it at this point.

If you use milk instead of cream, you might want to add two tablespoons of flour and mix it into the milk before pouring it over the layers.

Then sprinkle cheese on top – lots of cheese! – and cover it with tin foil and put it in the oven at 350 for an hour, or hour and a half. Take the tin foil off 15 minutes before you take it out so the cheese can brown a tiny bit.

Poke the potatoes with a sharp paring knife to check for tenderness. (This is probably the only time you can poke something with a sharp knife and expect tenderness.)

In that hour and a half while the scalloped potatoes are baking, you have plenty of time to make a salad to go with it.

There was so much food in this one dish that I was able to put away several portions in the freezer to take out for quick lunches some other days.


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Not Christmas

No snow for Christmas. Just wind and rain.

While it looks pretty to have snow, it’s safer for driving if the precipitation is just water, not ice or snow.

So here we have the view today.

Blustery, gray, wet! When you see whitecaps on the water, you know it’s breezy.

Since it doesn’t look like Christmas, I decided that my baking didn’t have to be Christmassy either. Just plain comfort food is good today.

Apple pies await.

 

And the staff of life, bread, is almost ready to come out of the oven. Not Christmas bread; just bread.

(The pale part of the bread is from the light in the kitchen.)