On the road again…just can’t wait to get on the road again

June 5, 2014 § 8 Comments

Hey folks…for the last year, we’ve been living in two different places.  I (Libby) has been in Eugene, Oregon, and Dave has been in Texas.  It has been tough.  We tried to make it work, but we missed each other (yup…we’ve been married a bunch of years, and we still love each other hugely).  Dave tried to find work in Oregon, but discovered that no one is hiring space station simulator engineers….imagine that.  Meanwhile, I wrestled with a very cool job, but missed my husband, and I missed human spaceflight.  There’s nothing like launching people into space for giving one a sense of perspective.  While I loved Eugene, I kept wondering about that huge bigger-than-myself-goal.  It just wasn’t there. That’s not to say that Eugene isn’t the BEST PLACE EVER, because I love it here.  Truly.   I probably shouldn’t even say that, because now everyone will move to Eugene, and it will turn into Chicago or something, which would be terrible (Chicago is cool, so calm down, all my friends from Evanston…it’s just not Eugene).

So, bottom line:  I’m moving back to Texas.  I asked Dave to come and get me, and he (such a sweetie-pie), is driving out to Eugene to help me with the transition.  He and I will load up a truck and a car with stuff and dogs, and then begin the week-long journey back to Texas.  I’ll never be through with this place.  Eugene is lovely, and I’ll be returning.  Actually, I’ll be back in July, and later in the fall…probably next spring, too.

Deviled ham spread: A favorite with “menfolk”

January 8, 2014 § 10 Comments

Last weekend, I found a vintage cookbook from the 1970’s.  It’s from a Junior League in Alabama, and the recipes are marvelous.  It’s fun seeing what people ate back then, but I especially like the regional and family names for recipes…concoctions like “Carol’s Confetti French Dressing,” and “Aunt Mary’s Whiskey Cake” make me think about my own family traditions.  I can’t wait to try “Vera’s Blizzard Balls,” which turns out to be ordinary dinner rolls…still, with a cool name like that, don’t you think there’s a really fabulous story in there somewhere?  Speaking of balls, there are also “Brickle Balls,”  “Fruity Balls,” and “Aunt Cissy’s Balls.”

In the Appetizer section, along with such offerings as “Crabmeat Mould” (mould spelled with a “u” just to make it extra special) and “Brantley’s Crabmeat Spread”  I happened upon a recipe with canned deviled ham as an ingredient.  Canned deviled ham is what Dave and I keep in the pantry for camping trips, or when we’re starving, or when we run out of catfood (yes, Underwood canned deviled ham is really that awful).  It’s very salty and pretty blah.  It’s what you eat when there literally is nothing else in the house.  At all.

Since we actually have a couple of cans of deviled ham leftover from our camping trip to Oregon, I thought I’d try making the “Deviled Ham Spread” from my vintage cookbook.   I made some modifications, adding extra seasoning mostly.  With my changes, this stuff is pretty good…actually, more than pretty good; I really liked it.  It would be great for an appetizer at a party.  Even though it starts out with off the shelf ingredient basic like canned deviled ham, it’s actually delicious…just don’t tell your guests what’s in it.

Also, just to let you know, according to my cookbook, this is a “favorite with the menfolk,” but I liked it too, being a girl and all.

Ham spread from the 1970’s: For menfolk

1 4.25-ounce can Underwood deviled ham spread (or 1/2 cup of liverwurst)

8-ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Place all ingredients in a bowl, and use a fork to mix well.  Serve to menfolk with crackers or sliced vegetables.  If you use liverwurst, act like it’s a secret ingredient, and your Aunt Cissy (the one with “the balls”) will disown you for giving away the recipe.

What to do with a 5-pound zucchini?

October 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Have you ever received a 5-pound zucchini as a gift?  It just happened to me.  Dave and I actually like zucchini.  But 5-pounds all at once is a little difficult.  It’s way more than can be consumed in one meal.  So, when a colleague gifted me with an enormous 5-pound zucchini, I wasn’t sure what to do with it.  I finally pulled together this recipe for zucchini muffins for a crowd.  It is not very sweet, and can easily be served for breakfast or alongside dinner.

Be sure to squeeze as much moisture as you can from the grated zucchini.

GPP 10_14_2013

Zucchini Oatmeal muffins (for a crowd)

4 cups grated zucchini , moisture removed

5 eggs, lightly beaten

1-1/3 cups butter, melted

2 cups white sugar

4 teaspoons vanilla

4 cups white flour

1 cup oatmeal

4 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

2 cups raisins

Preheat oven to 350-degrees fahrenheit.  Prepare muffins pans with paper wrappers or nonstick cooking spray.

Stir together the zucchini, eggs, butter, sugar, and vanilla; set aside.   Add the flour, oatmeal, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Stir lightly, until ingredients are just mixed.  Fold in the raisins.

Spoon into prepared muffin tins.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until a pick inserted in the center of one muffin comes out clean.  Makes 36 muffins.

Pinto beans with noodles and cheese

October 13, 2013 § 3 Comments

On Friday, I attended an event where there were leftovers…lots of leftovers.  I was lucky to escape with the leftover cooked pinto beans.  I’m not complaining; I love pinto beans.  It’s just that I don’t eat much, and with Dave still in Texas, I’ve had to significantly curtail the food I prepare.  So…what to make with pinto beans?  Finally, I decided to use them in a casserole.   It turned out great, and I’ll definitely make it again….probably when Dave’s here in a couple of weeks.   You can make this as spicy as you want.  I went for extra spicy, and added extra Cajun seasoning.  Use what feels good for you.

I also divided this recipe into two portions, so I could freeze half.


Pinto beans with noodles and cheese

8 ounces Kluski noodles

4 cups cooked pinto beans (2 15-ounce cans, drained)

2 cloves, minced garlic

2 10-ounce cans diced tomatoes and green chilies (I used Rotel)

3/4 cup sour cream

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Creole seasoning, to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon)

Cook the kluski noodles according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees fahrenheit.  Grease 2 small or 1 large glass pan (9″ X 13″).

Meanwhile, stir together the pinto beans, garlic, and diced tomatoes.  Stir in the noodles.  Pour half of this mixture into the prepared pan(s).  Dot with all of the sour cream, and sprinkle on half of the cheddar cheese.   Sprinkle on creole seasoning to taste (I used about half a teaspoon).  Top with the remaining bean noodle mixture.  Sprinkle on creole seasoning (another 1/2 teaspoon) and remaining grated cheese.

Freeze, or bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until hot and bubbly.  Serves 8.

I divided this into two separate dishes, and cooked one and freezed the other.

Where’s my leather skirt?

October 8, 2013 § 6 Comments

There’s a lady in my building who wears the cutest clothes.  Today, she came to the office in a black leather skirt, which reminded me that I TOO HAVE A LEATHER SKIRT, which has mysteriously disappeared.  I’m pretty sure my skirt is somewhere in the farmhouse in Texas, with Dave.

Libby:  You need to mail me my leather skirt.

Dave:    I just mailed you a big box of stuff.  What else could you possibly need?

Libby:  My leather skirt.

Dave:  It’s 90-degrees…not leather skirt weather.

Libby:  In Oregon, it’s 38-degrees.  It’s WINTER.  I need my leather skirt, and a couple of turtlenecks, you know, that nice cashmere one; oh, and the brown cotton one…


Libby:  Maybe I’ll just buy some stuff here.  I’m not even sure what I have…maybe I should just go shopping.

Dave:  [Sigh]

And that’s how it happened that Dave agreed to arrange all of my clothes on the bed and take pictures of everything and text them to me.

Pumpkin muffins for your workplace

October 3, 2013 § 5 Comments

Here in Oregon, I have an appreciative audience for my cooking experiments.  That’s not to say that people aren’t appreciative in Texas.  However, I’ve never been in an environment where 24 muffins could disappear in 17-seconds.  These healthy muffins are indeed tasty.  I really wanted to add chopped pecans to them, but with one person here who is allergic to nuts, I made these sans nuts.  Feel free on your own to use as many pecans or chopped walnuts as you want.  When I make these for me and Dave, I’m going to stir in a cup of chopped pecans (Dave’s favorite).

I really liked these.  They have a light texture, and are great with coffee for breakfast.  I only had one, because when I went back for another, the plate was empty.


Pumpkin muffins

2 cups white flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1-1/2 cups white sugar

3-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3 eggs

1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (or 2 cups homemade pumpkin puree)

1 cup vegetable oil (i.e. canola, soybean, or corn oil)

Preheat oven to 350-degrees fahrenheit.  Prepare 24 muffin cups with paper liners or cooking spray.  Whisk together the white flour, whole wheat flour, white sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, salt, and baking powder; set aside.

In a separate bowl, stir together the eggs, pumpkin puree, and the oil.

Combine egg mixture with flour mixture, making sure that it is completely incorporated (do not beat).

Spoon mixture into the muffin cups.  Place in oven and cook for 20-minutes, or until a pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Makes 24 muffins.

* Pumpkin pie spice isn’t available everywhere, so here’s an easy (and economical) recipe for making your own.

Pumpkin pie spice

6 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 teaspoons ground ginger

1-1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Combine.  Store in a small jar in the pantry.  Good for pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, or muffins.

Hot and spicy curry with edamame

October 3, 2013 § 2 Comments

The weather lately has been cold, windy, and rainy…perfect for snuggling up with a blanket on the couch.

Not sure what to make for dinner, I finally settled on a spicy Indian curry.  This warming dish is easy to prepare, and contains no meat.  The long-simmering sauce improves with time, so feel free to put this in the crockpot, while you work, run errands, or do chores outside.

You can adjust the level of spiciness to your own taste.   I went with 2 tablespoons of curry powder, but I like food spicy.


Hot and spicy curry with edamame

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon curry powder (add an additional 1 tablespoon for extra heat, if desired)

1/4 cup white flour

1 cup dry white wine

14-ounce can coconut milk (unsweetened)

8 -ounces fresh mushrooms, quartered

2 jalapenos, seeds removed and thinly sliced

salt, pepper

1 cup fresh or frozen edamame, uncooked (or peas)

Freshly prepared hot white rice

Saute the onions in the butter over medium heat, until soft and translucent.  Add the minced garlic, and continue to cook until the garlic is soft.  Stir in the 1 tablespoon curry powder and the 1/4 cup white flour.  Stir until the flour is well incorporated.  Pour in the white wine and stir until the wine is incorporated, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the coconut milk, then the mushrooms and jalapenos.  Cover and reduce heat to low.  Cook for 1 – 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Alternatively, you can pour the mixture into a crockpot and cook on low for 2 – 3 hours (this was my method).

When you’re ready to serve, salt and pepper to taste, adjust the seasoning (curry powder), and gently stir in the edamame (or peas).

Serve over hot rice.

Serves 3-4.

Kielbasa with apples and sauerkraut

October 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

The weather is getting colder, and it seems the perfect time for fall foods like apples, smoked sausages, and sauerkraut.  With the recent heavy rains in Oregon, this dish seemed like an obvious choice.  It’s quick and easy to put together, and it tastes great on a cold day.

If you don’t have white wine, just use red wine vinegar.  This also doubles easily, and it goes well with mashed potatoes or potato pancakes.

GPP 10_01_2013

Kielbasa with apples and sauerkraut

1/2 onion, sliced

2 apples, cored and sliced (unpeeled is fine, unless you feel like doing extra work for no reason whatsoever, plus the peel is packed with vitamins)

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces kielbasa sausage, sliced

14.5-ounce can sauerkraut (I like the kind with caraway seeds, but use what you have on hand)

2-3 tablespoons brown sugar (to taste)

1/2 cup white wine

3-4 cups mashed potatoes (if desired)

Saute the onion and apples in the olive oil over medium heat in a frying pan, turning occasionally.   Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, and the apples are slightly brown.  Move the apples and onions aside, and add the sausage to the pan.  Brown the sausage slightly, turning once.  Stir the sausage into the apples and onions, and then add the sauerkraut, 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar, and the white wine.  Reduce heat to low, and cook 20-25 minutes.  Serves 2-3.  Serve with mashed potatoes or potato pancakes.

Easy slow-cooker applesauce

September 30, 2013 § 4 Comments

This is the season for fresh apples.  We keep a big bowl of fresh apples on the kitchen counter, where they’re always ready for breakfast or a quick snack.  If the apples sit too long and become a little spongy or soft, don’t throw them away…turn them into applesauce.  It’s so easy in the slow-cooker.

I used this applesauce in homemade muffins, but it’s also nice by itself for breakfast, with hot oatmeal, or  with pork chops for dinner.  It freezes well, too.  Just spoon it into 1-cup containers and pop it into the freezer.


Homemade applesauce in the slow cooker

10 peeled and cored apples, sliced

1/4 cup sugar (optional)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Place the apples in the slow cooker.  Sprinkle over the sugar and cinnamon.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Remove lid, stir gently and serve.   Depending upon the size of the apples you use, you’ll have 3-4 cups of applesauce.

On the hunt for mid-century modern

September 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

My sister and I are big thrifters, especially when it comes to mid-century architectural furniture.  We’re always on the lookout for Danish-modern pieces from the 1960’s, and the Pacific coast is our hunting ground.

If you’re bothered by profanity or a lack of enthusiasm for contemporary Christianity, read no further, because this post is likely to offend you.

I’ve been looking for a desk for Dave.  Requirements are mid-century, teak, and something that can be closed to hide the bills and paperwork.  I found something new here in Oregon, but thought the price was a little high.  The following exchange is between me and my sister Kristin, and I apologize for our lack of respectfulness (I’m green, she’s blue).