Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Note to Liz

As I've said, before, growing up I thought of our friends, Liz and Louise, as family. One thing I remember as clearly as if it were yesterday was Liz's knack for making the most delicious pot of chicken and noodles I've ever eaten. Liz came from Indiana, and she told us the only way to eat homemade chicken and noodles (the Indiana way) was to ladle them over a big dollop of mashed potatoes. She was right! If Heaven has food, Liz's chicken-and-noodles-over-mashed-potatoes must be on the menu!

Today I got a craving for homemade chicken and noodles. I tried to buy some of those frozen noodles, that cook up almost like homemade, but couldn't find them in the store here. What to do? I'd make my own noodles! So, this morning, I started the great noodle adventure. I decided not to use my Kitchenaid mixer, but to do it all by hand. I made the well in the pile of flour, filled it with the eggs, and mixed it all up with my fingertips. After the dough started to come together into a ball, I kneaded it for about ten minutes, until it was smooth and elastic, let it rest for a while, and then began the rolling-out and slicing. My noodles are now laid out on the kitchen counter, drying, and my chicken is in the crock pot . . .


. . . and I feel like I've put in a full day's work!


Monday, February 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' February Challenge - Quick Breads

I'm back! After taking a sabbatical from the Daring Bakers' challenges, due to lack of kitchen and equipment while we were temporarily holed up in our little apartment, I'm back in action. What fun it was to break in a new kitchen with this challenge. This is my first kitchen with an island, and I'm blown away by how handy it is to have this wonderful, well-lit, center-of-the-room workspace.

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

I chose to make a rhubarb muffin. The basic recipe was shared with me, at least 17 years ago, by George Fox University co-worker, Katherine E. I have slightly modified it over the years, and in so doing have made it my own recipe.

In a large bowl combine
1-1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

Beat well with mixer. Then stir in
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen rhubarb (I used frozen).

In a small bowl combine
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir the flour mixture into the mixture in the larger bowl.

Spoon batter into paper lined muffin tins. Fill tins 2/3 full.

For sugar topping, combine
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Sprinkle sugar topping over each muffin and bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

With a cup of tea or coffee, these rhubarb muffins can't be beat! They're especially good warm, with a little pat of butter.

A little later in the month I whipped together another quick bread, just for fun (and for breakfast). It was a lemon-blueberry loaf, and was delicious. After we ate a couple slices warm, I wrapped the loaf and refrigerated it. We sliced off pieces all week long, until it was completely gone. Yum. This recipe came from Sweet Pea's Kitchen, and I highly recommend it!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lake Belton Photos

We've been so focused on unpacking, putting together furniture, setting up a household, that I haven't gotten out much to view the surrounding area. Tonight, after dinner, I drove to Lake Belton. It's only about six minutes from our house, and I'm looking forward to exploring the shores this spring. There are lots of picnic areas, playgrounds and nature walks.





Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'd Scrub the Floor . . . But My Mop is Out of Batteries!

When we left Albuquerque, we left behind our broom, mop and mop bucket. We needed a broom almost immediately upon our arrival in Temple, but I got by without a mop until this week.

I decided to join the 21st century and buy a Swiffer wet mop, which I'd seen advertised on TV and which looked so handy. So yesterday I made the purchase and came home all excited about mopping my kitchen floor. Though I'd never before needed to read instructions for a mop, I thought I should read the Swiffer instructions, since it was not your ordinary mop. I only got this far:

STEP 1: Insert four AA batteries.

Batteries? In a mop? That tickled my funny bone, and I couldn't stop laughing.

Of course, we didn't have any AA batteries - or rather, we hadn't yet found the ones we packed and moved. Mopping would have to wait until another day. What a great new excuse!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

It Doesn't Snow in Temple . . .

. . . so they told us. Took these pictures looking down the street (first picture) and across the street (second picture), around 3:00 this afternoon.



Thursday, February 9, 2012

Busy Busy Busy

Our first couple weeks of retirement have been fun, but not too restful. Moving into a new house is always a lot of hard work. We did sell some of our furniture, so have been trying to prioritize what we need now, and what we can do without for awhile.

This week we made a trip to Austin to see the IKEA showroom. We had visited an IKEA store in the Seattle area once before, so knew what we were getting into . . . a three hour walk through what feels like miles of displays. If they didn't hand out maps, and if they didn't have arrows and very good signage, we'd probably still be trying to find our way out of there. If they didnt have a Swedish restaurant oasis in the middle of the trek, we probably would have perished before we found the exit. Of course, when you get tired, there are always beds or chairs or stools or benches or footstools or something to perch on for awhile.

Anyway, all we actually came home with were some storage cubbies to put into our office closet . . . and lots of ideas for the future. Everything from IKEA has to be assembled at home, but everything is perfectly pre-drilled, and the 1-2-3 instructions with drawings are good.

Today I broke in my new kitchen by successfully completing the February Daring Bakers' challenge. The rules say I can't disclose what the goody is until posting day, but here's a teaser. Can you guess what this month's DB challenge is? Come back on posting day - February 27 - to read all about it.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Howdy from the Lone Star State!

Friday, January 27, was a day we had worked toward our entire married lives. It was retirement day for both Dan and me. We didn't let any grass grow underfoot, once the time came. The next day, Saturday, January 28, we loaded our cars for the move to Texas. Thankfully, we had some wonderful helpers: our son, Tim and two brothers-in-Christ, Wayne and Mike. Tim, Wayne and Mike carried things down from our 4th floor apartment. Lest you think that they actually had to climb up three flights and down three flights each time, let me assure you that we had an elevator. But, lest you think that made it an easy-as-pie job, let me tell you that the apartment building is laid out in an "L" shape. Our cars were parked at one end of the L, the elevator is at the corner of the L, and our apartment is down toward the end of the other leg of the L. That meant that every trip involved quite a hike.

While the others carried things from the apartment to the parking lot, Dan spent his morning loading my car. He has a real talent for turning the interior of a car into a Chinese puzzle. Here's what my car looked like when it was fully loaded.


Passenger side

Driver side

I'd love to say that he got EVERYthing in, but there were a few things that had to be left. The one we are most sad to have left was our ironing board. We looked for a new one today, but didn't find just what we wanted. Dan does much more ironing than I do, and he has some very specific specifications, so the hunt goes on!

We left the next morning, after loading the computers and a few other things into Dan's car. Albuquerque sent us off with a beautiful dawn - a clear blue sky playing host to a few hot air balloons.

On that first day, we drove from Albuquerque to Santa Rosa (an old Route 66 town), and then south to Lubbock. Santa Rosa has been one of our favorite NM towns. If you ever saw the movie, Cars, passing through Santa Rosa would make you think you had made a quick trip to Radiator Springs.

In Lubbock we met up with our good friend, Keith. We had a nice dinner together and then spent some more time visiting at the hotel, where Dan and I were spending the night.

On Monday, January 30, we finished our trek and arrived at our new home in Temple, Texas. This trek actually started nearly a year ago, when we began preparing our Albuquerque house for the market. We put a lot of our belongings in storage at that time, in order to de-clutter the house as much as possible. On April 22, we posted our "For Sale" sign, and by July 5, we accepted an offer. In less than a month, we moved out of our house and into a small apartment. Most of our belongings were held in storage by the moving company. We basically "camped" in the apartment for the next six months.

Only a month after moving into the apartment, we made a trip to Temple to purchase our new home. In October we came to Temple to accept delivery of our household goods, which had been in storage. While our goods sat safely in the house, we had to return to Albuquerque for several more months.

Now you understand why I say the trek from Albuquerque to Temple took almost a year. And you probably understand, as well, how excited, happy, relieved and thankful we are to be here now, living in our new house.

I can't say that the first few days of retirement have been relaxing. Besides the two days of driving, we've also had four days of unpacking, organizing, shopping and hard work. Still more to go, but we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Some wise person once said, "Be careful what you ask for." I said I would miss the mountains of NM . . . but a mountain of PAPER, in my HOUSE?! No thanks.

We keep running into things that remind us that we aren't in New Mex any more! Such as restaurant servers asking if we want regular or sweet tea, neighbors ALREADY asking us over for a Super Bowl Bar-b-q, and cowboy boots.

Today was the BEST, because we finally got our Internet connection. We were both suffering Internet and email withdrawals! Or maybe yesterday was the BEST, because we finally got to sleep in a king size bed, once again, after six months in a less-roomy one! I'm anticipating many, many more "bests" as we settle into retired life together.

Once we get completely settled in the house, I hope to get out and take some photos of the area. Stay tuned!