Monday, December 31, 2007

These are the sourdough biscuits I made yesterday. They are so yummy! Maggie learned how to make biscuits taste buttery like KFC or Chick Fila. You melt 4 tbsp of butter in your 9x13, then dip your biscuits individually, on both top and bottom, in the butter before baking in the remaining butter. It works, but it's hard to enjoy knowing how much butter there is!
I also made the sourdough soft pretzels. The pretzel on the left I baked in a covered cast iron dutch oven. What a difference that made ~ but I could only fit one pretzel at a time. The pretzel on the right was just regular baking. Both were delicious and disappeared quickly.
The homemade cherry jam was a gift to us from a local friend. It was sooo delicious. The cherries came from her trees.

Well, I've taken the big step, and I've started listing on eBay again. It is always hard for me to stop, and even harder to start up again. But I have three pianos that will need tuning soon. Anna is so excited! She loves choosing fabrics and working together in our quilting room.

Today we are madly cleaning for our New Year's Eve party this evening. Maggie will be doing most/all? of the cooking. If you live nearby, please feel free to join us from 7 to midnight.

Have a wonderful, blessed new year.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Recipe for Sourdough Biscuits

Evening before:
1 cup starter
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour.
Cover with plastic wrap and set at room temp.

12-18 hours later:
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Whisk dry ingredients together. Work in 1/3 cup shortening.

Dilute 1/2 tsp baking soda in a tsp of water. Add to the wet mixture. Add dry mixture. Mix to a soft dough. Knead lightly a few times to get in shape. Roll out and cut into biscuits. Bake at 375 degrees until golden. (Do not use a rolling pin to roll out dough...just use your fingers.)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sourdough Waffles

Anna put together this centerpiece for our table. Isn't it beautiful? The votive candles are apple pie spice and smell wonderful.
This morning we took the same recipe for sourdough pancakes on yesterday's post, and made waffles. Not only were they delicious, but what a breeze to make! Unlike conventional waffles that like to stick to the wafflemaker, the soudough waffles just lift off in one piece. The picture above shows a beligian waffle and the picture below shows a regular waffle (as far as size).
Today I have two sourdoughs set up for dinner ~ one for biscuits and one for soft pretzels. I will let you know how they turn out. And here I am trying not to eat many carbs!
I found this shirt at the thrift shop and gave it to Ruthie for Christmas. Anyone who knows Ruthie knows how appropriate this shirt is for her. It pretty much sums up Ruthie's idea of homeschooling!
Ruthie enjoys crafts more than anyone else in our family, so I was glad that she received many craft projects for Christmas. Here she is doing one. I'm not sure why she looks sad because she was actually happily singing. I guess I caught a split-second look.

My parents gave all the children $100 gift cards for Christmas. For Sarah, it was a gas card from Wawa (where she works). For Maggie it was from JoAnn's Fabrics. For the youngest three the cards came from Michaels. Now I don't have to pay for any school art supplies!

I'm off to clean house. Enjoy your day.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sourdough Pancakes

This morning we had sourdough pancakes...yummy! They were really tasty. The thing about cooking/baking with sourdough, is that you have to plan ahead. Last night I made the sponge for the pancakes (otherwise known as a poolish):


1 cup water
1 cup flour (all purpose, not whole wheat or it'll smell like a sill)
1 cup starter

Mix well and cover with a piece of plastic wrap with a rubber band wrapped around to hold tightly. Let sit at room temp overnight, but not more than 12 hours. I re-use my saran wrap many times before I throw it away. Just dab it dry and hang it in your pantry to collect as many bacteria as you can imagine!

In the morning, make the pancake dough:

Recipe for Sourdough Pancakes:
1-1/2 cups flour (now you may add your healthier flour)
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder
1 recipe poolish
1 cup milk
3 eggs (optional ~ we didn't use any)
1/4 cup melted butter

Combine the dry ingredients, mixing well. Combine sponge, milk, and eggs; mix well. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mix well. Let set 10 minutes. Mix in the melted butter. Cook pancakes on medium-hot greased (preferably cast iron) skillet or griddle. Makes 6-8 pancakes.
This is the gloppy dough that you end up with (this is right before I wiped the sides down).I know the recipe says cook on med-hot, but once my cast-iron skillet heated up, I had to cook them on med-low. Ruthie was in charge of pouring the batter onto the skillet while I did the flipping.
Maggie came in and saw me making pancakes, so she quickly got some frozen blueberries out of the freezer and whipped up her blueberry syrup that my children love. And this is what it looks like with syrup! Ruthie tasted the dough before it was cooked and she was disgusted. There is a reason why they call it sourdough! Somehow it turns into the best pancakes once it is cooked!
The only thing that would make these pancakes better, would be if we had eaten these deep in the woods on a campfire. I'll have to add that to my wish list for this spring.

Today we are working hard around here. We are having a New Year's Eve party on Monday evening, so we need to get out of our loafing "vacation" mode and start some serious cleaning. I think everyone must be tired of being "on holiday," because no one is complaining about their lists of chores. PTL!

Have a good day. We are getting rain later this afternoon, so I am feeling extra blessed today!

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Christmas, a little late. This picture was taken on Christmas Eve, a few minutes before going to bed. If you are a Mom, then you can relate to how I was feeling when I took this picture. Every last gift was wrapped, the stockings were stuffed (Sarah's delightful task), the groceries bought and put away, the cleaning done, and I could breathe deeply and enjoy the rest of the season.
Earlier on Christmas Eve, while I was still in the rush of trying to get everything done, Mike walked in from running errands and gave me these flowers. I love the way flowers give me a completely different outlook on life! Thanks so much, Mikey-dear.
Sarah gave Ollie a new dog bed that he loves. Isn't he a cutie?
The day after Christmas we ate these shrimp for dinner. What a treat! I was so tired of ham (Christmas with my family), roast beef (Christmas with church), and turkey (Christmas with our family), that I didn't want to see any meat of any kind. These shrimp are so easy and delicious. Just put a piece of thinly-sliced bacon on shrimp, pour a small amount of BBQ sauce on each shrimp, then broil until the bacon is done. Voila! This recipe also works well on scallops.All of our bunnies are bedded down with lots of hay. They love it.

Today I had fun making bread, breadsticks, and pizza from the slow-rise recipe that I posted about 2 weeks ago. It was sooo good!
For the breadsticks I put equal amounts of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, kosher salt, and minced garlic. We didn't have any marinara sauce for dipping, so we used pizza sauce.

We gave away several batches of Almond Crunch to Sunday School teachers, friends, and nurses. Two people asked for the recipe, so here it is. But I'm almost too embarrassed to post it since it is sooo easy. I will be sure to take a picture next time I make this:

Almond Crunch

1 stick butter (no substitutes)
1 tbsp corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sliced almonds

Prepare dish: Wrap foil around a pie plate and smear with small amount of butter.

Melt butter in a 2 or 3 qt saucepan; swirl butter to coat the sides of pan. Add corn syrup and sugar; boil for about 3 minutes, until golden brown. Add almonds. Pour into prepared dish and refrigerate for 10 minutes or until cool.

We were able to make 2 batches in less than 10 minutes.

I hope everyone had a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas Day. My parents arrived in Texas on Christmas Eve where they will be staying until mid-February. So while we enjoy the break from piano lessons, we miss them terribly. Enjoy your warm weather, Dad.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Monday, December 24, 2007

Graham Family Christmas Party

This past Saturday was our family Christmas get-together. As usual, it was a lot of fun. We gave our children their main Christmas gifts so they could ride them with their cousins. We bought these go-carts from an online ad for a great deal.
This is Maggie riding Dustin's dirt bike. Maggie has always loved anything with an engine, so she had a great time on the dirtbike.
This is my nephew, Dustin.
I will introduce you to my family starting with the baby, Uncle Simba and his wife, Natalie. They are expecting their first baby in June. This is a long-awaited event, a true answer to prayer. We are overjoyed!
Next is Floyd and his wife Cecilia. This was an emotional time for Cecilia who just lost a close friend this past September. I drew Cecilia's name for the gift exchange. She was excited about the gift I gave her ~ everything for doing mosaics including molds, book, adhesives, cement, and lots of mosaics. I had fun choosing them all. (I knew she wanted mosaics.) And Cecilia chose my name for the drawing. She gave me a lovely cedar birdhouse (which was what I wanted) and some hanging birdfeeders. It is a perfect gift!
I am next in line, then my oldest brother, Mike and his wife, Leslie.

This year when we did the drawing, I had each person write his name on a piece of paper, then they had to write a wishlist. That really helped with gift-giving this year.
The two gifts that everyone thought were the best, was this sign for Mom and Dad's VA waterfront home, and this sign:Floyd made this sign for Dad to post outside the little cabin down by the pond. Isn't it adorable?!
This past Sunday evening, Mike took the children to a local farm called, "Bubby Knott's Farm" to see all the unique animals and Christmas lights. They enjoyed it so much that we are going to try to go back again after Christmas.

I stayed home to clean up after the party, and to organize some last-minute details for Christmas. It is a rare treat to have the whole house to myself!

It is also a rare treat to have all 6 children together! Here they are at Bubby Knott's farm in one of the barns.

We are getting ready to go to church for our Christmas Eve Candlelight service. Almost all of us are singing or playing an instrument. Have a blessed Christmas with your family. You are welcome to come by anytime for tea and dessert.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Saturday, December 22, 2007

This morning we are washing the kitchen floor which is the last job for today. My family is coming over for our annual Christmas party/dinner/gift exchange. I took this picture because my kitchen floor only stays clean for a few minutes before it gets dirty again:-) As soon as this half dries, we will move the table and island to the other side and wash that side.

For you homeschoolers, download this fun video: (It took me less than 10 minutes with dial-up)

Maggie has been busy cooking plates of cookies and desserts. Our menu for this get-together is always the same: heavy h'or d'oeuvres. We will have ham sandwiches, coleslaw, crab-artichoke dip, cream cheese and pepper jelly dip, shrimp mold, stuffed mushrooms, spinach dip, and veggies and dip.

Every year I try a new appetizer, but this year I am making a new punch recipe to use up my grapefruits. It tastes delicious.

Have a nice weekend finishing up your pre-Christmas preparations. I know that in two hours when my family walks through the door, I can take a deep breath and enjoy the rest of the day.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Friday, December 21, 2007

Trip to Apple Basket

One of my favorite places to visit is the Apple Basket in Mechanicsville. It always has unique ideas for gifts at very reasonable prices. In our family, getting an Apple Basket gift certificate is the best gift ever!
The large entrance room changes monthly, and it is always exciting to see what is featured. This week there was a beautiful, large, solid oak table surrounded by 6 pressed-back, oak chairs. In the center was the above candle chandelier. My picture doesn't do it justice. And with the homemade potpouri smelling up the whole place, it was Christmas-spirit-in-an-instant! Every year I look for handmade, pottery plates or bowls to give away with our homemade cookies/candy. Aren't they beautiful? We found a whole stack of these. Upstairs, the rooms are all themed: baby, seasonal, waterfront, silver, white glass, green glass, etc. Downstairs there is an entire room devoted to candles and tart warmers. There are also antique jewelry and old-fashion candies.
I almost didn't include this picture because it looks gaudy, but this place is anything but. I didn't see that musical note hanging to the left of the doorway until I saw this picture...oh my, must go back and see it! My mother always shops here for wedding gifts, and people have commented to me that she gave them the best and most unique gift. So go see for yourself!

Last night, Sarah invited the college and career group from church to come for a Bible study and fellowship. Only four guys were able to come. Here they are playing ping pong. One thing I learned is never leave your camera unattended. I guess they had to unwind from college (3 from Liberty, 1 from Patrick Henry).
I hope they got it out of their system...whatever it was!

Take a minute and visit Rob's blog at and take his Christmas Carol quiz.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It's Orange Season!

Orange season is here! For most varieties, orange season lasts from December to July. While I cannot stand to drink store-bought orange juice, I love a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice every morning (especially if someone else does the squeezing!).

I buy my oranges by the half-bushel at the local farmers' market. My favorite vendor, John, laughs when he sees me coming. He says I bug him about when the first oranges are coming in the winter, and when the first seedless watermelons are coming in the spring. Can't help it ~ those are two of my favorite foods!

Actually my favorite orange is the ruby orange which is in season for two weeks out of the year. It has a bright red inside and is delicious. John says the rubies will be here next Saturday. I'll be sure to show you a picture. The oranges above produced 2/3 cup of juice each!

Here we are making orange juice this morning...oops, we're in our jammies, so no picture of us! About 5 years ago I bought my juicer that I think is the best on the market...still! I've tried all the electric models, but this non-electric version requires less muscle than any of them.

Hamilton Beach Commercial Juicer Model 932. I bought mine on eBay about 5 years ago for $75. I just checked eBay and cannot find a single one for sale. That really surprises me since there were hundreds sold regularly when I bought mine. I checked the reviews on Amazon and they are still good.

There is very little mess with this juicer. See the little black cup next to the measuring cup? It slides under the juicer automatically when you remove the measuring cup. So no drips!

The only drawback for this juicer is that it is too tall to fit on the counter, so I have to keep it in the pantry. But it is a small price to pay for a great juicer. This juicer also has an attachment for limes and lemons. We are able to buy grapefruits that are the sizes of oranges, so we also make grapefruit juice.

Whatever you do, try to buy your oranges from California, not Florida. California oranges are naturally orange, but Florida adds a known carcinogen to make their green oranges the right color. Even though you don't eat the rind, it leaches into the juice once cut.

We are leaving in a little while for violin lesson, so I thought I'd show you the cute little guest-towel I made for Lizzie's teacher. Actually, I made 5 of these for my Mom, aunt, and cousins who are musicians. I will wrap it with a gift certificate in some music-themed fabric.

Hope you are enjoying this season. My children are making sugar cookies with sprinkles. I have always gotten requests for my sugar cookie recipe, but would tell people, it's in the butter. Use real butter. Each of my brothers' wives agreed that is the secret ingredient. (My brothers always asked their wives to make my sugar cookies:-).

Anyhow, Maggie has come up with an eggfree and dairyfree cookie that is almost better than the real thing!! Give her a day to post the recipe on her blog.

Keep warm, East Coasters!

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The past few weeks I have been going to the thrift shops twice a week hoping to find some Christmas gifts for my children. I wish I could tell you my finds, but my children read my blog. I did find a Christmas crafts book for 10 cents, and I decided to make the beaded ornaments shown in the picture. I am not crafty at all, so this was a real step for me. But I can follow directions, so I dove in.

I couldn't find any prebeaded strands, so I decided to buy the beads and make my own. Ha! It took all of my free time yesterday and today to bead the strands. But I have to admit it was fun. This would be a great craft to do with girlfriends since it doesn't require any thought. I chose silver and blue, and Allen chose these pretty Christmas colors:

To give you an idea how tiny these beads are:
I used 2" styrofoam balls, and two packets of beads to make 6 yards of beads. The glueing part wasn't bad at all. Believe me, if I can do this, anyone can!
If you can believe ~ I ran out of beads only 4" from the end!! So Monday I will go pick up more beads and finish. Only I would do that!
Did I mention this is a great craft for children? Now that I am almost finished mine, I will help Ruthie and Allen with their beading.
Added the next day: Anna came home today and immediately started beading. She used quilting thread with beading needles and used the needle to sort of scoop up the beads. I tried it and was able to bead 5x faster!

While I was beading, I listened to one of my two favorite radio stations called, Heartland Public Radio, the Western Music Channel. It features a mixture of cowboy poetry, western music and western gospel. Once in a long while I will have to turn the mute on because of a Western Swing or Country song. It all depends who the DJ is for the hour. But mostly it is wonderful music.

The unbelievable part about this radio station is that the gospel is presented often in music and poetry. Can you believe?! Makes me want to move to the heartland!

One last thing. Remember my thrift shop trips? Well, I told Mike two weeks ago that I'd really like to buy a cast-iron wok. I really wanted a Lodge brand since I own many Lodge pans, and I like them a lot. So what do you think I bought for $4? I have been thrift shopping for 20 years and have never seen one! Thank you, Lord!

Doesn't it look nice? And it cooks like a dream.

Have a wonderful Sunday. Drive safely, pray often.

Many blessings ~ Kathie