Friday, September 30, 2011

Homemade Vanilla and Surprises

I am trying my hand at making homemade vanilla.  Not that it is hard a whopping 2 ingredients.  My dilemma started at the liquor store.  What kind of Vodka do I buy.  I'm not a vodka drinker I prefer wine and the occasional Margarita.  I didn't want to go with something cheap or expensive so after starring what seemed to be a hundred different bottles I choose Finlandia. 


1 750ml bottle of Vodka
12 vanilla beans

Place your vanilla beans in a glass jar and pour vodka over and close.  Place in a cool dark place.  I'm going to let my vanilla beans ferment for close to 6 months.  Then place in a dark bottle and it's ready to use.


Anna came home yesterday from her vacation to California.  She was gone about a month.  To my surprise my mom gave her 6 cans of Libby's Pumpkin to bring home to me.  You don't know how excited I am to have my favorite canned pumpkin for my holiday baking.

Anna's boyfriend Josh also added a nice surprise for us homemade Kimchi and homemade Korean Pickles (the pickles are for Anna but she has been sharing and they are wonderful and very salty).  I love kimchi and I remember seeing a potato salad recipe made with kimchi on someones blog it sounded very interesting.  Now I just need to find it.

Until Next Time,

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Do Have A Mantel

I was enjoying visiting blogs this morning and came across The Lettered Cottage and she was having a Fall Link Party with beautifully decorated mantels.  Bill and I have talked about how nice it would have been for our new house to have a fireplace with a mantel.  But after going through our first winter we do love how much heat that is put out by our soapstone wood stove.  As I looked at every one's photos I was looking around at my decor challenged house and there I spotted it.  Above the front door and between the windows in the living room are wood shelves my answer to a "Mantel".

Above the front door Bill had put this collection of insulators across the shelve.  I took a few of them down and I have candle holders about the same size of the insulators.  Simple but sweet.

In the living area I put up pumpkins, leaves, primitive candy corn and other fall items.  I had already but up my birdhouse that Bill had made me along with a couple of decoys and deer antlers.  I am pleased with the way it came out and my house is starting to feel like a home.  (I can't wait to put my snowmen up for Christmas)

Today they pulled out our water pump and found out they used the wrong pipe and that will have to be replaced too.  We were told the well going to the spring was 400 feet down and it is really 520 feet down.  The pump guy is hoping to have everything by tomorrow and have the work completed by Thursday.  Keeping my fingers crossed this is a long time to go without water.  I even went to town today just to get my hair washed.

Until Next Time,

The Lettered Cottage

Monday, September 26, 2011

Layered Chicken Enchilada's and Water Pump Update

The water pump has gone out and we have been without water since Saturday night.  Why do things go out on a weekend?  We called the "pump guy" this morning and he has a full day.  He said he would try and get to us but it looks like he will not be here until tomorrow.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that it is something simple and not that our spring has gone dry.  I'm getting a little grumpy not being able to shower or wash my hair checking into a hotel will get a little costly just to be able to use a bathroom.  

Saturday I made our last meal which has lasted us through today.  

I have never had a recipe for this dish always wing it and use more or less depending on the size dish I use

This is the recipe for a 10 x 8 inch baking dish.  Serves 6

1 29oz can and 1 10oz can enchilada sauce
1 roasted pre cook chicken from the market
1 large onion, chopped
1 large can olives, chopped
3 cups cheddar/jack mixed shredded cheese
12 corn tortilla's

Since I am not softening the corn tortilla's in oil I soak them in some of the enchilada sauce while I prep my other ingredients.  I spray the baking dish with Pam and place some of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of the baking dish to coat.  Pluck that chicken clean tearing the meat into bite size pieces and pour enchilada sauce over the chicken just to coat every piece.  Chopped your onions and olives and set everything up in a line to assembly.

I start with two tortilla's then I take one more and split it in half to cover the bottom of the dish.  I start layering with the chicken, onions, olives, cheese and then more enchilada sauce.  I continue to layer the same way often tearing up the tortilla's to cover each layer.  The last layer will be tortillas, cheese, onions, enchilada sauce and olives.  Place on a foil covered cookie sheet to catch any spills. Bake in a 375 degree over for 1 hour or until heated through.  You can garnish with sour cream and cilantro. 

Easy recipe for a pot luck or a large crowd also freezes great.

Until Next Time,

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Rural Life for Me

Yesterday for most of the day we did not have any water and the plumber was not calling us back.  I was in panic mode - No Shower.  Our electrician showed up to start work in our basement and he took a look at the pump breaker and pressed the reset (there's a reset?) and magically we had water again.  We are city folk who need to learn the ropes of this rural lifestyle. 

Here are some of my City Vs Rural

Trash Pick Up Vs Taking Our Trash Down The Mountain

Mail/UPS/FedEx Delivery Vs Pick Up mail and packages in town

Land Line Vs Cell Phone

Sewer Vs Septic

Water always there Vs Spring 400ft water pump & can run out

Paved Streets Vs Dirt Dirt and more Dirt

Electricity Vs A wheel and a couple dozen hamsters (just kidding)
we don't even need a generator, progress

All kidding aside I love it up here.  It's quiet, beautiful, wildlife (animals, not like CA's wildlife), kick ass sunsets, National Parks, hunting, fishing and all 4 seasons there's more but I don't want to brag too much.

The BLM was back 3 times this week working on the fire break.  There are two men in this photo it's like playing "Where's Waldo" that is how thick the trees and brush are.  Bless those guys.

Olive went to the Vet yesterday and her shots are now up to date until next year.  She is 15 lbs and will be 4 months at the end of September.  Look at those feet they are huge and she is going to grow into them.  For the last 17 plus years we had two Jack Russell Terriers that were 15 lbs.  Olive could easily be 50 lbs although I would be pleased if she didn't go over 30 lbs.

I am leaving you with this Maple tree - Reminding you it is now Fall

Until Next Time,

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Moda Fabric & Photographing a Puppy

I received my Moda fabric "Ruby" today from Stitches N' Giggles (to visit Stitches N' Giggles click on the blog button on my sidebar).  I fell in love with this fabric when I saw it online last week.  My winter project will be making a quilt for the cabin. 

I took Olive out on the deck today to take some photos of her.  

Olive is such a sweetie
Then the rubberband snapped - note the blurry photo
Attack mode and I'm laying on the ground taking the photos
Bill was in the house laughing at me screaming the joys of Puppyhood

Okay I will admit it I am giddy over this photo - The leaves are starting to change colors my first Fall

Until Next Time,

Pumpkin Bread and Earth & Vine

Saturday I stopped by the market to pick up a few things.  One item was canned pumpkin.  I love Libby's canned pumpkin and I was in shock there was not one can on the shelve only the store brand.  Is this going to be another year of not finding canned pumpkin.  I started to panic!  There was only a handful of store brand pumpkin and I grabbed it up 5 large cans. (my precious)  Now I have to decided which recipes are pumpkin worthy (yep, I'm taking that one from Seinfeld)  Can one down and it is "Pumpkin Worthy"

Pumpkin Bread

1 can 29oz Pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 cups sugar
6 eggs
4 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat over 350 degrees grease three 9 x 5 inch loaf pans.

In a large bowl mix together pumpkin, oil, sugar and eggs. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and all the spices and mix together.  Stir dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well blended.  Divide the batter evenly between loaf pans.  Note: Pecans, walnuts, raisins can be added to this recipe.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour until top of loaf springs back when lightly pressed.  The bread freezes well.

I made 2 loaves with the recipe above.  The rest of the batter I used my Nordic Flower Pan.  I put a small amount of batter in 3 of the flower molds then I added a heaping tablespoon of the Earth & Vine Mandarin Pumpkin Marmalade and the other two the same amount of the Apricot Chili Pepper Jam I then topped them off with the rest of the batter.  I baked them for 40 minutes.  

If you have not heard of Earth & Vine check them out here.  They have the most incredible products.  Besides their jams I have tried their Blackberry Elixir, mustard's, cranberry shallot relish just to name a few.

Until Next Time,

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Walk Around The House

Good morning I'm enjoying my first cup of coffee this beautiful morning.  I've been looking at photographs I took while walking around our property yesterday.  We live on 42 acres but a lot of that acreage goes up the mountain and is heavily wooded.  Thanks to the deer we have nice game paths throughout the property which makes it a little easier to explore.  I make sure I always have my camera on me you just never know what you are going to see.

Yesterday's walk wasn't all that far from the house.  Bill, Olive and I went for a nice walk.  One thing Olive likes to do is grab a piece of wood or a rock and carry it around with her.  I love that is has her paw on a pine cone. 

Olive didn't want to have anything to do with standing on this stump.  But notice she still has the piece of wood in her mouth anyway just barely.

At the beginning of summer the Forestry suggested that we trim up all the low branches on the trees around the house.  Sap has now covered where the branch was cut off and dripped.  When the sun hits the sap it just sparkles.  

This cactus is starting to shrivel up and it reminds me of a quilt or smocking.  The texture is beautiful.

Bill started to clean Olive's teeth she thought it was more fun to clamp down on the toothbrush

Olive is almost 4 months old needless to say I think we should have started this adventure much earlier.  Got to keep those razor sharp puppy teeth nice and shinny. Notice all the bites on Bill's hands and arms.

Until Next Time,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Old Time Favorite Tamale Pie and my Big Fail

I haven't had Tamale Pie since I was a kid.  I thought this is the perfect time of the year for this recipe.  Fall is just a few days away and I feel a crisp chill in the air.  Leaves are slowly changing here and I am looking forward to spending my first fall in Utah.

Tamale Pie


1 1/2 to 2 lbs ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 19oz can enchilada sauce
1 14oz can black beans, drained
1 1/2 cups corn (I use frozen)
1 14oz can black olives, rough chop
1/2 cup sliced jarred jalapenos
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp Salt


2 1/4 cups yellow corn meal
2 cups water
1 12oz can evaporated milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 4oz can diced green chilies
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

For Filling: Preheat over 425 degrees, grease 12 x 9 inch baking dish. Cook beef, onion and garlic in large skillet until beef is browned, drain.  Stir in enchilada sauce, beans, corn, olives, jalapenos, cayenne pepper and salt.  Pour into baking dish.

For Topping: Combine corn meal, water, evaporated milk, cayenne pepper and salt in medium saucepan. Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently for 5 to 7 minutes or until thickened. Stir in green chilies. Top filling with corn meal mixture.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes, sprinkle with cheese and bake another 5 minutes or until cheese has melted. Serves 8

If you are not a fan of the heat leave out the cayenne pepper and jalapenos.


I have to tell you about my fail and thank goodness I tried this recipe now instead of waiting until the holidays.  I was making Ina Garten's fleur del sel Caramels but it was a total fail.

Not sure what I did wrong 

My caramels look nothing like Ina's beautiful caramels
I will be trying this recipe again I want those caramels

Until Next Time,

A Walk Down Memory Lane - Deparment Stores

This morning I had such a craving for a Monte Cristo Sandwich and I know I am not going to find one in Southern Utah let alone a good one.  It got me thinking how much I miss the Monte Cristo Sandwich from Buffum's Department Store.  The only two things I ever ordered off the menu was the Monte Cristo and "For The Ladies" Chicken Salad served with a hard boiled egg and date bread.

Now not only am I missing that yummy sandwich I am missing all the great Department Stores I would go to with my mom in the 1960's and 1970's.  Before Macy's started to buy them up and turn them into JCP or Sears or they just closed up and faded away.

Bullock's was my favorite of all the Department Stores.  My mom would take me to lunch at either Bullock's Pasadena or Wilshire.  I loved when the fashion shows were going on during lunch.  Year after year we would see the same ladies modeling the clothing. We also had favorite waitresses at each store and would asked to be seated where they were serving. Bullock's also had the best after Christmas sales.  I remember saving up my allowance for the longest time (I got 25 cents a week) to get my white leather Go-Go boots from Bullock's which cost me $8.00.  Another department store that had the fashion shows during lunch was Hinshaws and we would go there too.

Shopping back then was enjoyable not a chore like it is today.  Clothing was made to last.  The staff was helpful and ready to assist you.    I want to keep a hold of those memories and It's no wonder I do my shopping online today.

Until Next Time,

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Soapmaking Workshop

Yesterday I attended the Bizzybee Retreat Workshops.  I had signed up for the Soapmaking Workshop.

Monique who taught the class did a wonderful job even with a broken collar bone and some broken ribs. Monique showed us how to make bar soap using the hot method, dish soap, dishwasher soap, laundry soap and lotion.  All of this in 3 hours.  We were given recipes, lists of books to help us along and sources to buy what we needed to get started.  Seeing what Monique did during a few short hours I know this is something I could do.  Besides the pride that "I did it myself" you can save major dollars.  With Christmas around the corner just think of the lovely gift baskets you could make with your Handmade Soup and matching Lotion and even bath salts.

The best part we came home with samples to try out.  My family can tell you I am not a fan of lotion but when I got home I tried the lotion and loved it.  

I would love to hear from any of you that make your own household products.  What your experiences are and do you do it for your household, gifts or business.

Here is a list of the other workshops and I look forward to taking many of them at the next retreat they hold.  Bread, Butter and Jam,  Beekeeping, Cheese Making, Keeping a Family Cow,  Pressure Canning,  Natural Medicine and Chickens 101.

I will leave you with another beautiful sunset this one is from last night off of my deck

Until Next Time,

Friday, September 16, 2011

100 Days Until.......

You guessed it 100 Days Until Christmas.  It's time to start making plans and making lists not only for Christmas but for Thanksgiving too.  I want to make these holidays extra special this year since it will be our first Holidays in the new house.

One of these trees could be our Christmas Tree.  We are going to search for our tree when the weather gets colder and tag it. (I don't want to meet up with a snake)  We have thousands of trees on our property to pick from.  I have the perfect place to put the tree and could have a tall tree.  But this year I think I should stick with a 5 or 6 foot tree since I don't have ornaments yet for a 12 foot tree.

Today I started decorating for fall however, I didn't get too far.  I can not find my box that has all my pumpkins in it.  Could be anywhere we have been here for 8 months and we still don't have everything unpacked.

Sharing a couple pictures of Olive

Pretty soon she will not fit under the showcase
Not sure if you can use "Dainty" and "Bull Terrier" in the same sentence

Today's photo is brought to you by the letter "W" for Wagon
(Not sure when I will get to X still looking)

Until Next Time,

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hiding Out From The Weather

The last few days Bill and I have stayed home and worked around the house.  Bill has been in the basement moving things around to his liking and I have been doing laundry, cooking and cleaning the kitchen.  We both have been catching up on our reading and watching some TV.

One of the reasons we have been sticking around has been Thunderstorms.  They make a lot of noise and put on a pretty light show but not much rain.

The temps have dropped so Bill requested Chili.  I made a large pot that will last us through the week. Chili recipe I shared last month

Tonight I made a really simple Apple Cobbler

2 Cups Bisquick
2 1/2 Tbsp Sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Stick of Butter cut into chunks
2 cans Cinnamon Apple Pie Filling

Mix together the first 6 ingredients.  Add butter using your hands (or pastry blender) squeezing the butter through the mix until the butter is the size of peas and is mixed through the dry ingredients.

Take on can of the apple pie filling and put in a 9" square baking dish.  Take a heaping cup of the mixture and spread evenly over the apples.  Take the next can and pour of the mixture add the rest of the mixture to the top and place in a pre-heated 375 degree oven and bake for 40 minutes.

Add a scoop (or two) of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and enjoy.

Today's photo is brought to you by the letter "V" for Vietnam Memorial.  Cedar does have a beautiful War Memorial Park.

Until Next Time,

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Silent Sunday

Sending prayers to all my fellow Americans for Peace and Healing on this 10 year Anniversary of one of America's darkest days.  My heart is heavy for those who lost their lives and for their families and for our Nation who grieves right beside them.

Our Spirit will never be broken

With Sincere Love and Prayers

The Capone Family

Bill, Pam and Anna

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