Life in the A-Frame

Life in the A-Frame

Friday, January 29, 2010

Italian chicken, polenta and roasted vegetables

Some of my favorite meals feature polenta. It takes some attention and time to make but you can put together the rest of the meal while it simmers.
4 1/2 cups boiling water
whisk in 1 cup stone ground cornmeal and 1 teaspoon salt
Turn the heat to low and continue to whisk. Make sure the mixture bubbles very slowly. Stir gently and fairly often. Cook for 35-40 minutes. Take off the heat and add 4 tablespoons of butter. Stir to combine. You can add cheese to the polenta at this point if you wish. I usually don't add cheese because the dish is already rich.

I like to serve some type of "soupy" casserole over the polenta.

As the polenta cooks, I put some frozen vegetables (any kind you like) on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and toss them with olive oil and salt. I put them in the oven to cook along with the casserole. Make sure to cook them until they are tender and crispy on the edges.

To make the Italian Chicken:
cut 1 1/2 - 2 pounds boneless chicken into cubes.
add 1 can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup grated asiago cheese
a sprinkle of dried Italian seasoning
Place all the ingredients into a casserole dish and toss to combine. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Sprinkle another 1/2 cup asiago cheese over the top and return to the oven for 10 minutes.

Serve the casserole by spooning it over the polenta and place the roasted vegetables on the side.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A scene from our icy days

Mike shows us the ice from Kerrie Griffin on Vimeo.

Mike enjoyed a few rare days of icy weather recently but ventured out just a little too far...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Easy, quick Chicken and Dumplings

"Old fashioned" chicken and dumplings call for boiling a whole chicken, taking the meat off the bone, and making homemade dumplings. Of course the end product is delicious but I use some short cuts and end up with an equally (to me) delicious recipe. I always get lots of praise when I serve this:

I boil 2-3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Remove the chicken to cool a bit and allow the broth to come to a boil. In the meantime, make the dumplings.

I used 2 cans of biscuits. These are larger than regular canned biscuits but are not the "Grand" size. If you use Grands, just cut more dumplings per biscuit. I used floured parchment paper to roll out each biscuit into a 4 inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. I cut each circle into 6 dumplings. Drop the dumplings, one by one, into rapidly boiling broth. Stir occasionally as you add more dumplings.
The dumplings will float and will be very fluffy. As they cook, they will flatten, become translucent and sink. That is how you know they are done. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Next, add enough milk to thin the broth, probably a couple of cups. Check the taste and add more salt if necessary. Cut the chicken into chunks and add to the broth.

This recipe turns out to be really delicious, hearty, and easy.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Christmas gift #3

My family gave me a pretty necklace with my children's names and birthstones. It is from an Etsy shop. These shops feature handmade or vintage items. I love to shop there. Check out the next time you need a nice gift for someone.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chicken Coop Archery Practice

Before we tear down our old chicken coop, it will make a really good backstop for archery practice. Reinforced with tin, a hay bale and some leftover boxes from Christmas, it gives Mike a safe place for his target.

He shows me the area, in white, that is the ideal target range.

This practice arrow has been repaired with black electrical tape. Those arrows actually penetrate the tin if you miss the target!

He shoots from a short distance, working his way back until he is about 30 feet away. His aim is getting more accurate. He has found out, however, that 3 hours straight is too long to practice. Ice packs and Deep Heat have been required the last few days for his left shoulder and elbow.
He has informed me that knife throwing will be the next sport after he masters archery.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

It is cold-even here!

Is is very cold here, at least by our standards here in central Texas. It got down to 18 degrees the last few nights. Needless to say, I haven't spent much time outside. It is good weather for cooking though. We are having a farewell luncheon for our former Pastor at church today and we decorated with a snowflake theme. I thought that making these little cake ball snowmen would be appropriate for dessert. I got the idea from Bakerella . I dipped the cake balls and my daughter decorated them.

Yesterday morning we discovered that our tank had frozen over for the first time since we made it, about 15 years ago. I tested the middle, where it is the deepest, by throwing some sticks out there. They just hit and bounced, then skidded. It was frozen all the way across. Mike broke the surface of ice so the animals could drink. This morning it was frozen again.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Featuring: a Christmas gift #2

I've featured the Christmas gift from my daughter-my Reader's Haven book club and now I want you to see my new Bobby Flay bakeware. Here is one large and one small casserole dish. I also received a large round one that now holds a huge:......

Shepherd's pie!
This consists of seasoned ground meat (I used chili and garlic of course), followed by a pound of frozen mixed vegetables that I steamed and buttered, topped by creamy homemade mashed potatoes. After baking it, I added a mixture seasoned bread crumbs, butter and Parmesan cheese, then put it back into the oven to crisp up. This made a huge amount and will feed us for days!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Unique--my deck update

Mike continues to work on the deck and has made a lot of progress. It is his design and it is as unique as the A-Frame house we built. I helped a little with the design of the ramp but all the rest is his vision, skill, and muscle. All he has left is to finish the decking boards and build the rails for the ramp.

The deck will extend across the front of the house now. You can stand on it and be at the exact level of our windows. And you can look right in!
Mike shows off his ramp. The ramp is a safety feature as well as as a design element. As least it will be when the rail is built. Before, we had a dangerous edge to the deck with 3 small steps to navigate. I always watched visitors ascend and descend to make sure they didn't misstep.

This view looks toward the road and shows how little Mike has left to finish the decking boards.

I am photographing from the deck, looking down the ramp. You can step off the end and onto our fire pit area or turn left to our parking area. See the white bird bath in front of the ramp by the big rosemary bush? My little dog, Amos, can drink out of it now-if he stands on the ramp. All the big dogs who "visit" from neighboring houses always drank from it but Amos was always too tiny. We just moved the bird bath there temporarily for construction purposes but now we may have to leave it. Amos drinking from it is just too cute.

Monday, January 4, 2010

First Sunday

It is the first Sunday of the new year. I'm ready for church. I have a new dress and a new coat. Old shoes....8 years old. Old church....130 years. New/Old Pastor.......served us for 7 years, now back as interim Pastor for 5 months. Welcome back! New year, Old friends. Old timeless comfort and faith, new excitement!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

It is up for discussion

I've written a few things on my new book club site and welcome your comments and suggestions. If you want to participate......let's read and talk.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Reader's Haven Book Club

I have a new website that I am almost ready to share. My daughter made it for me for Christmas. It is a book club with discussion topics for the members to comment on. She has it all set up for my first book-"Gone With The Wind"-which is my favorite book. I'm adding things to the website and soon I will open it up for everyone and I hope some of you will join me for discussions. She made the website and gave me a set of books to use as one of my Christmas gifts, isn't that an awesome gift! I hope to use a different book for each month. Gone With The Wind may take more than one month because it is super long and full of discussion topics. Please tell me you've read it! Seeing the movie doesn't count because it barely resembles the book. Even though the movie is almost 4 hours long, it is a "bare bones" version of this magnificent story. If you haven't read the book, please tell me you will! And then join me at my Reader's Haven.... Coming soon......