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.

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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.

09_29_2013

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).

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Thrifting in Oregon

September 15, 2013 § 9 Comments

I haven’t done much these past two months on Oregon, except recover from Shingles.  I didn’t realize that it could be so painful.  I spent two months extremely exhausted, and couldn’t figure out why.  Everything tired me out.  I’d come home at the end of the day, and wouldn’t be able to manage much more than to feed the animals and then drop into bed.  Dave said I was overdoing it.  My back was aching, and a heating pad wasn’t helping much.   I figured Dave was right, and I needed to stop working so hard.  Then, one morning two weeks ago, I awoke to a strange red patch on my skin, covering about 2″ in circumference.  In a matter of hours, the rash grew to a size that covered the entire right side of my torso.  It was blistery and painful, and landed me in the emergency room.  I thought I had a skin infection…it turned out to be Shingles.

“Oh, thank goodness,” I told the ER doc, “I was afraid it might be cellulitis.”

“Actually,” he said, “Cellulitis might be better, and you’re going to need an anti-viral and some pain medication to get through this.”

I accepted the prescription for the anti-viral, but spurned the pain medication.  How bad could it be, I wondered?  It’s just a rash.  Eight hours later, I was writhing in pain.  It was very bad; it felt like someone was hacking out my spine with a pickax (no exaggeration).  I sucked it up, and didn’t take the prescription pain medication, although I did avail myself of over-the-counter ibuprofen, which was very helpful.

Today, I’m feeling much better, although I’m still not 100%.  The pain is still there, and the rash is also still apparent.  However, I’m much improved as compared to several weeks ago.  Shingles is chicken pox for grown-ups, but much worse.  It can kill you, actually.  It’s painful and long-lasting.  I recommend getting the Shingles vaccine.  Ask your doctor about it.

While recovering, I comforted myself with thrifted cookbooks.  There are several thrift stores near the house, and I was able to pick up several “antique” cookbooks for a few cents each.

Cookbooks

Several of these I remember my mom using when I was a kid.  It’s fun to look at the pictures, and remember family meals, dinner parties, and holidays.  I love the “Betty Crocker: Dinner for Two” one the best.  It’s from the 1960’s, and although my mom never used it (our family was too big for dinner-for-two), it does bring back memories.  The aspics, stewed vegetables, congealed salads, and tips for making a happy home remind me of growing up.

I love old books, and I especially love old cookbooks.  Old cookbooks bring back happy family memories.

What are your favorite nostalgic memories?

Day 3: Colorado Springs

July 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

There were extensive wildfires when we drove through Colorado.  The smoke was so heavy, there were several times that I worried that we probably should have chosen a different route.

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Nevertheless we prevailed, and pulled in to the Colorado Springs KOA campgrounds before sundown.  Here’s the cabin that was waiting for us when we arrived:

GPP 7_29_2013a

Our KOA cabin was so cute, I could hardly stand it.  We had a cute little front porch with a porch swing, and a front “yard” with a picnic table.  In the back, there was a cute little sitting area where we grilled our dinner.  The cuteness outside was not to be surpassed by the inside of the cabin, where we had a bunkroom, main bedroom, and a bathroom.  The cabins had actual beds, which was a welcome treat after sleeping in a tent (not to knock tent-camping, which was so totally great).

I cracked open a teeny-tiny bottle of wine (more cuteness…who knew you could buy an 8-ounce bottle of wine?) while Dave cooked dinner.   We had filet mignon steaks and instant mashed potatoes.  The “Idahoan” brand of instant mashed potatoes is so delicious, it’ll knock your socks off, and is perfect for camping…especially the “Loaded baked potato,” which we are now addicted to.

After dinner, we slept wonderfully (who wouldn’t sleep wonderfully in all of that KOA cabin cuteness?).  There was one little glitch, which commenced when Dave announced that the back bedroom should be for people, and the front bunkroom would be designated for the animals (I like how Dave makes pronouncements like this…as if by virtue of making a rule, everything will just fall into place).  I knew immediately that Dave’s rule would require some sort of wrestling on my part to keep the door closed between the two rooms, since Addie is pretty good at opening doors.  At bedtime, Dave closed the door between the two rooms, and then went to sleep.  Addie waited a respectable period of time (8 minutes), and then deftly opened the door between the two rooms, and made a place for herself on my side of the bed.

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Meanwhile, Otis, Doodle, and Alexander were completely happy sleeping in the bunkroom.

So, the three of us (me, Dave, and Addie) slept somewhat wonderfully in the KOA cabin cuteness, even though Addie managed to completely hog half of the bed, squishing me into about 8-inches of space.  I’d just like to say right now that Addie is about 5 pounds heavier than I am, and when it comes down to nighttime wrestling, she usually wins.

After waking up in the morning, I urged Dave to go and avail himself of the KOA pancake breakfast.  Meanwhile, I stayed behind and made sure that the animals did their business, and the cars were packed (don’t get any ideas that I’m the one who does all the tough work around here…later, in Day 4, my true laziness is revealed).

Day 3 loading the cars

Dave came back from the KOA pancake singalong (or whatever it was), bringing me a big plate of eggs and bacon.  After eating, I supervised the final loading of the vehicles.  This step consisted of me bossing Dave around and acting like I’m the only one who knows how to load Otis into the car (which may actually be true).

Finally, at about 9am, we pulled out of the campgrounds, with Dave leading the way.  Dave drove 30 feet, and then skidded to a stop right outside of the campgrounds.  His wheels had locked, rendering his vehicle completely useless (thanks Mercedes).  While Dave called Mercedes, I headed back into KOA, and registered for “another few days” until Dave’s SUV could be repaired.

The rest of the day consisted of me and Dave overseeing the transfer of the Mercedes and its attached trailer, to the KOA campground, and waiting for Mercedes to come out to “figure out” what possibly could have gone wrong.  The Colorado Springs KOA staff were the BEST.  Not only did they easily accommodate us for an additional (and unscheduled) few days of stay, but they hooked the trailer up to a tractor and hauled it back to the KOA campground (something that Mercedes couldn’t be bothered to do, since their warranty coverage only covers the vehicle and not things that are attached to the vehicle).

The KOA staff placed us in a cabin next to their dog park (how cool and nice was that, since they knew we had three large dogs?), and then we settled in to await Mercedes’ analysis of Dave’s wheel-locking problem.  When it became apparent that Mercedes was feeling no sense of urgency whatsoever, Dave headed to the local car rental place, and made arrangements for renting a large passenger van to help us get to Oregon.  Meanwhile, sometime in the afternoon, Mercedes rolled in to the KOA and collected Dave’s car and hauled it back to the dealership (where supposedly they were going to expeditiously make everything good, but it turns out that they actually didn’t do that at all…however, we’ll save that part of the story for later).

Late in the afternoon, Dave returned with a huge passenger van.  He and his friend Robert (who conveniently lives in Colorado Springs), removed the van’s seats, and then with only a tiny amount of help from me, managed to transfer about half of our belongings from the trailer to the van.

That evening, we cooked dinner at the campfire, opened another tiny bottle of wine, and toasted our good fortune that the wheel problem happened right outside of the KOA campground, and not on some desolate highway in the middle of nowhere.   We also toasted KOA Colorado Springs, who’d kindly offered up a few days of trailer space in their park, and who so eagerly lent their tractor to remove our vehicles from the road in front of the campground.

We can’t say it enough…KOA campgrounds are fabulous, but the Colorado Springs KOA is the best.

Day 2: Burkburnett, Texas to Colorado Springs, Colorado

July 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

There’s not a lot of exciting stuff between Texas and Colorado.  Most of Day 2 consisted of riveting scenery like this:

Day 2 highway excitement

Now, here’s something exciting:

Day 2 exciting scenery

Oh, look.  A road sign.  Interesting:

Day 2 really exciting sign

This is also very interesting (not):

Day 2_windmills

Look, a tree…two trees, actually:

Day 2 exciting scenery 1

Highway excitement.  Oh. My. Gosh.  It is just so overwhelming:

Day 2 exciting scenery 2

Meanwhile, Otis and Alexander could hardly contain their excitement:

Day 2 Otie

Dave and I kept each other awake by calling each other on our cellphones (hands-free bluetooth).

Libby:  Did you see THAT?!

Dave:  What?  That gravel pile?  The highway shoulder?  What?

Libby:  That windmill!  Wasn’t it EXCITING?

Dave:  No.

So, that was day 2. We saw a couple of windmills and two trees.  That is all.

Day 1: Houston, Texas to Burkburnett, Texas

July 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Our first day on the road was fairly uneventful.  Except for Doodle’s backseat driving in Dave’s car, and Alexander pooping in his crate in my car, the first day out was unexciting.  For our first night, we stayed at the KOA campground in Burkurnett Texas.  Burkburnett is near Wichita Falls, which was the site of an enormous supercell tornado back in the 70’s.  I remember hearing about this tornado when I was a kid.  The Wichita Falls tornado flattened entire neighborhoods, reducing homes to rubble and a few sticks.

It was late as we pulled in to Burkburnett, Texas.  For our first night away from home, we were planning to sleep in a tent.  Purchased several weeks prior to the trip, we’d tested it in our backyard just before leaving Texas, and I was excited and looking forward to my first camping trip ever.  Dave, who camped a lot as a kid, thought I was crazy (turns out he was right, but I’ll still camp again, because that’s how I roll).

Meanwhile, at 11pm in Burkburnett, Texas, Dave set up our tent, and I walked the animals and made sure they had plenty to eat and drink.  Dave put some air into our inflatable mattresses, and then he and I had dinner (sandwiches, which was really about all we had the energy for).  After that, everyone hit the sack, whereupon the dogs decided that the inflatable mattresses were actually THEIR mattresses.  There was a little power struggle, which Dave and I won (score one for humans, yay).  However, at some point in the middle of the night, the dogs launched a surreptitious attack on the mattresses, and in the morning, Dave was surprised to find that he was sharing his bed with Doodle (score one for the dogs).

Day 1_Dave DoodleI can’t say that I did much better, since Addie and Otis surged onto my mattress, completely enveloping me (score another one for the dogs).

Day 1_Addie Otis

We woke up to ducks quacking (ducks?), and this view out the top of our tent.

Day 1_Tent in the morning

The dogs had a marvelous night, sleeping on air mattresses on top of a couple of oblivious humans.  Even the cat had a good night.  The cat had a special sleeping crate, which held a bed, litterbox, and a small living room (for relaxing, because cats evidently aren’t lazy enough).

 


Day 1_Otis and Alexander

In the morning, the KOA campground managers asked us a lot of questions about the dogs; evidently camping with Irish Wolfhounds is very uncommon, and only crazy people do it.  Probably they got the idea that we were crazy right about the time when Otis, Addie, and Doodle were demonstrating their special dog-trapeze maneuver (Doodle stands under Addie, who stands under Otis).  It looks very strange, and they did it right in front of the KOA managers’ office.

We loved the Burkburnett Texas KOA.