Thursday, December 31, 2020

My Top Ten Posts of 2020!

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Something Old, New, Green, Redo's
 TOP TEN posts of 2020.

    It's been a tough year for everyone. I seldom look back, but for the lack of anything interesting to blog about, I decided to peruse the stats and see just what you liked reading about in 2020.

How about a Count Down....10....whoops, right off the bat we have a tie. Two garden posts wrestle for the number 10 position. 

It was a very hot summer after a late cold spring, which seems to be the norm the last few years.

Tied for the 10th spot was...

 Boy, do (DID) we have sunflowers here: Midwest Gardening 2020: Sunflowers


I did many gardening post many of which were numbers 11-20....I must say, in the summer I barely have time to promote posts...but clearly these posts are of interest to you, dear Readers! 

And next, Number 9... was really a culmination post about "USE IT UP, WEAR IT OUT, MAKE IT DO, OR DO WITHOUT" on March 22, 2020, an old saying many of us grew up with. 


I came from a family that made do or did without. Druthers were for looking at in the catalogs, or cobbling someone's throw-aways, give-aways or thrifted to a Made Do status. Somewhere along the way---this became our preferred way of green living, despite having the income to choose otherwise. I shared many ideas in this post, perhaps the diversity of tags dragged traffic in.

Number 8 post for 2020 was

Normally I don't paint antiques, and despite the upper 80-90's temps I managed to do a post on redoing some very old, dry, and stained wood. Working with satin acrylic paint, I managed to turn a dark Arts&Crafts Movement bookcase to the perfect shelf for our tiny bathroom.


Another Gardening post from  July 6th.

We had started so many things in our greenhouse, it was fun to see the pots come alive after a late cold spring.
I do try to show you what works, and what 
doesn't here in the Midwest.

POST Number 6 Another Gardening Post titled

This was a nitty gritty post, planting seeds, yard clean-up, mulch---not much green at all.


The pandemic had reared its ugly head in full force by then, we were hunkered down---and others were realizing-- they may need to grow food. 

We were so glad we did so many plants from seed as the garden centers were picked clean by the end of May. 
Here are pepper starts we began end of January in the house and then move to the greenhouse with heaters.

2020 started as a tough year for me.

I did a few Thoughtful Moments posts in the past,
This one took the  Number 5 place on January 9, 2020.

It was really a post looking back at my 2019...and  recovering from a third knee-replacement. I had lost most of 2019 laid up for 6 months. Then into 2020...with the soon to be pandemic. Who knew ??? the first week in January---what we would be facing.

Next is POST #4
Surprise, another Gardening Post
This time about flowers! 

Every plant in my garden out-did themselves despite the dry heat and lack of rain. The Zinnias were 5-6 feet tall, the sunflowers 15 feet tall and huge flower heads, the Coleus were rich in color and prolific, the grasses fluid and flowing. Every plant seemed to KNOW we needed color to boost to our spirits. Going into 6 months of lockdown, the Hollyhocks burst into bloom! 

Post #3
Midwest Gardening: February 2020


Yes, a Gardening Post in February was super popular. From when the first seed catalog arrives, to when the seeds go up in the hardware and big box stores---gardeners salivate, pick, plan, pick some more, plan some more...and just crave the smell of dirt. 

We start our tomatoes, peppers, and a few other things in in plastic containers placed in our kitchen windows the end of January to March. Wow, it is crazy to watch things grow---quickly pushing their plastic covers off. 

On to POST #2 for 2020

A Spring Decorating Post

Because of the Covid shutdown---decorating really had to be simple (no company or holidays), make us happy,  and use everyday items. Besides my kitchen was FULL of plants for the garden due to our miserable cold spring.

I had time to promote this post a bit, but something drew people in...could it have been Christmas Pig had babies...who knows.


POST #1 for 2020 is.....
a decorating post about our small home on November 1st

Thank you, Dear Readers for visiting, commenting, sharing ,and hopefully enjoying my posts in 2020, the terrible of all years. I've tried to be upbeat but real, practical and sometimes over the top, serious, but helpful.  2020 sure hasn't been unicorn farts and rainbows...

but, I've enjoyed sharing each and 
every post with you. 

I stay pledged to be AD-Free by choice. I some how think if I were posting to sell or promote anything other than my own thoughts,  
the blog wouldn't be real. 

Hugs, stay safe, and 

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Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas Traditions: Rice Pudding, Danish Rolled Pork Roast, Red Cabbage

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In 52 years, I've only cooked Chtristmas Dinner for two twice!

Even when traveling to my mom and dad's place, I've always cooked Christmas Dinner for a bunch. Covid has had us all changing our Holidays around. We have always celebrated Christmas Eve with a special Danish Dinner. The menu changes with a few staples that HAVE to be served: rice pudding and red sweet/sour cabbage. The main course may be duck, goose, turkey, pork roast, and in recent years when we have had LOTS of friends and family--and ham.

The last time I cooked for two---we had just had a son two weeks before and were in Northern Wisconsin far from family. I think my husband cooked, I don't even remember 1974 Christmas, baby brain I suppose?

Yesterday, setting the table for two ---was extremely strange. I didn't bring out the porcelain or the silver. The silver boxes are taped up to help with tarnishing and the dishes are all so carefully packed, that to drag out two of everything didn't seem necessary. Horror, I used paper napkins, and cobbled together place settings from this and that of my everyday dishes and treasures. I usually use blue and white for Christmas in my red and white kitchen. 

The first thing started is the RICE PUDDING. For two---I used 1/2 cup of rice and whole milk, this is simmered all day(at least 5 hours) adding milk continually until it reaches a thick consistency.

Meanwhile a jar of sweet sour red cabbage simmers on the stove with one shredded apple. Usually a clump of butter is added, but we were trying to stay a little more healthy on this Christmas.

Just put this on low heat and cover, simmer all day. The smell is delicious...and it's not Christmas until the scent fills the air.

I took a 1/4 of a Pork Loin and carefully sliced it into a long piece. Just keep unrolling the pork as you slice. My thickness ended being about 3/4-1" thick. 
Lightly salt and pepper the entire surface. I used 12 soft prunes spaced evenly, thin cut apple slices soaked in lemon water, 1 medium onion finely chopped, 

1/2 bunch of parsley chopped, more salt and pepper and a good sprinkle of marjoram all across the whole loin. 

The next step is to roll this all back up and tie.

I don't have photos of this, but I skewered it as I went along, but it took 4 hands and there were none for the camera. Roll tightley, skewer, tie cotton string tightly around many times and across the ends.

I had prepared a pan with a layer of carrots, apples, onions and celery, sprinkled with the left over chopped onions and celery.  These will be my roasting rack and provide moisture and flavor for the gravy. Pork loin is notorious for not providing enough goodies for gravy alone.

I browned the roast on all sides in  some butter and vegetable oil, got a nice sear on it.

Placed the roast on the veggies, poured all the drippings over them.

I know I will have veggies left over---but these will be used for the next meal.

Lightly tented the roast is in the oven at 300 degrees for 1/2 hour then turned down to 275 degrees. Two hours later, the vegetables provide oodles of moisture as seen in the above photo.

Meanwhile the stove top is full. Carrots, potatoes, the red cabbage and rice occupy a burner. 

4-5 hours later. The roast is done, and resting before cutting. All the juice and drippings, potato water are boiled down for gravy, also made with whole milk and browned flour in butter. NUM. Normally the prunes should have also been in the bottom of the roasting pan...but I forgot. This addition makes a sweet dark gravy, so my gravy is simply veggie and meat flavorful and light...which is more than fine!

We start the meal with a cocktail and rice pudding. Normally an almond is placed in one bowl, and then passed around a table full of eager diners. Everyone eats their bowl of rice pudding, the one who gets the almond hides it until the last mouthful is eaten. A prize (a pig of some-sort) and candy or a bottle of wine is awarded the lucky person with the almond.

Strange with just two people we skipped all that!

The pudding is rich and delicious, creamy and so reminiscent of all the the Christmases Past, since I was a very little girl.

We had a light salad, greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and a bit of cheese.

Very refreshing after the rich pudding.

Hubby slice the roast. Baked long and slow, it is perfect.

Red cabbage, carrots, roast, asparagus and gravy.

I must say it was delicious! 

A friend dropped by with a lovely peppermint Poinsettia as a gift, and my thrift store ornament has a surprise.

It plays a selection from the Nutcracker Suite...! 

So dinner, music, and traditions with
coffee and Christmas cookies for a light dessert!

Time for  Facetime---for opening presents with the kids---it lasted an hour and a half, and was so much fun! 

Merry Christmas to All!
2020 Christmas wasn't bad at all. 
Joyful and with family---
Keep your traditions and Love and it will be perfect.

PLEASE -Do not use my photos without my permission and linking back to this post on my blog.

Thank you for your cooperation, 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Great Gramma's Finsk Brod: Adapting Old World Recipes

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Butter the size of an EGG?*!*!


My mother was never a baker, her expertise was no bake cookies, basically syrup, marshmallows and some sort of cereal. But, my extended family relied on the old world baking of my Grandmother with her vague, old, hand-written in Danish, recipes from Frederickshavn, Denmark.

During the holidays, her kitchen always smelled of butter, vanilla  and cinnamon. 

source pinterest
Infinite butter cookies were washed down with dark rich coffee, sweet cherry wine, or rich Droste old fashioned cocoa in milk. Not a marshmallow in sight.

I have many old hand-written baking recipe's in Danish with obscure measurements such as 'butter the size of an Egg', Fars cup of sugar..versus Mors cup of sugar??? (Father's cup and Mother's cup),  scrape a vanilla bean soaked in vodka, and many more oddities, not too mention litres, millilitres, etc.


I was fortunate to have helped my Gramma bake at Christmas time. I often spent days at her house while my mom worked extra in the family's Fish Market. 
Christmas was always their busiest time of the year. So many cultures use fresh fish and shellfish, imported cheeses. and delicacies in their traditional Old World holiday dinners.


Today, Gramma would be 122 years old, so now I'm Gramma and I often bake for gifts. What could be better than real Danish Poundcake? It took me quite a few years to get the balance right on this old recipe.
Tip: Don't use extra large eggs or the dough will be too heavy and not rise.

Recipe Here: 
Grandmother's Pound Cake


Now the kitchen smells like Christmas! 


Also excellent in the summer with strawberries on it 
and fresh whipped cream! 

I ran across an old family recipe for Finsk Brod, basically meaning Finnish Bread--a short bread cookie from my aunt, who had tried to duplicate the Danish cookies we were all so fond of. 


I always use a recipe as written first, and then try and tweak it to what I remember it really tasting like.


Suprisingly without leavening these still puff up.


The rich dough is rolled into finger size pieces, then dipped in beaten egg. 


 The recipe said to roll in chopped almonds and a bit of sugar. (The problem with this is the sugar burns on the next time, we will sprinkle the sugar/cinnamon on top) after rolling the 'logs' in almonds.

The almonds are chopped a bit fine!


The taste is definitely right...texture is perfect...the toasted almonds divine... the cinnamon just like Morsmor! (Mother's mother)


And warm, we could hardly resist gobbling them down.


Oh, my deliciousness! 

Danish Recipe for Finsk Brod- makes 75

1 cup of unsalted butter room temp
1/2 cup of sugar
Beat until thoroughly combined with mixer
add 1 tsp. clear pure vanilla extract

 2 cups of sifted(several times) unbleached flour with pinch of salt (or use salted butter)

Add a little at a time, I use a dough hook on my mixer and keep it going until it all the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Lightly knead the dough on a bread board. Take 1/4 of the very soft dough, quickly roll into long 1/2 " rolls cut 1-1/2" long pieces. 
Dip pieces in beaten egg 
and roll in fine chopped blanched almonds.

Place on parchment paper covered cookie sheets, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 min. 
Watch carefully. Remove the cookies on the parchment from the trays to cool immediately.
Store in air tight container in a cool place.

Have a Happy Holiday Season.

Other Danish posts:

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Thank you for your cooperation,