Stretching Chickens and Raising Kids…

A slightly quirky blog post title, I know. I’m not quite sure if I’ve had too much coffee this morning… or too little. But there you have it. The things in my head at 8:00 a.m. And Hubby escaped into the world of hammers and nails before I started exponderating. Lucky readers.


Along the thought line of making do in the kitchen, have you ever heard of “Rubber Chicken” recipes? Go ahead… google “rubber chicken recipes” and you’ll find LOTS. I can’t quite remember where I first learned the term, but the idea has been passed down for generations by frugal homemakers. How to make a single chicken last and last and last. It’s quite a fun game. One night last week, Hubby and I were pondering dinner way past the time dinner should have been, and we decided to just run to the store for a couple of TV dinners. We walked past the rotisserie chickens and changed our plans. Out we walked with a skinny little $6 chicken and a package of microwave garlic mashed potatoes. I had applesauce at home to round it out. Fast food dinner for two for under $10. At least I knew I could pull another dinner out of the remains of the chicken the next night.

Since it was so late, we really didn’t eat much of the chicken. So, the next night, I pulled it out of the fridge, warmed up the rest of the white meat, and served it with broccoli and a package of brown rice pilaf  which I had purchased in bulk a few weeks ago when they were on sale for $1 a bag. (They make a great side dish for those just-the-two-of-us dinners!) So, a second dinner for about $3, counting up the broccoli, rice, and leftover applesauce.

Two nights later, the thought of dinner came up again, and I knew that bird was still hanging out in the fridge. As I was picking all the meat off the carcass, the kids called and said they were on the way over. Chicken soup was offered if they hadn’t eaten yet, and they hadn’t. The bones and skin went into a pot to boil, and I scrounged the kitchen for soup-makings. Several carrots, some celery, an onion, a potato, brown rice, and some spices were thrown with the leftover chicken once the broth was strained. Added in some homemade bread and opened another jar of applesauce, and we all had warm and full tummies.

And then last night, instead of heating the leftover soup, we opted for rolling out a pie crust and turning the soup and the leftover broccoli (from Dinner #2) into a chicken pot pie. Sides were corn and leftover applesauce. (We both really like applesauce, by the way.) We only ate half the pie, so dinner tonight is leftovers again. I stopped trying to figure out what the dinners cost after the first two nights, since all they “cost” was a bit of elbow grease and stuff that was already in my fridge threatening to mold if we ordered out. I do know that skinny little chicken ended up being a part of five dinners…one with company. Chicken stretching… favorite sport of frugal homemakers.


And in the area of raising kids… Mom and I have been taking my youngest daughter, Kate, who is great with child, on looong walks in hopes that the grand baby will be born soon. Last week we went to an antique shop that takes several hours to peruse, and I was very well-behaved, coming out with only a $3 book that looked interesting. And it has been. Absolutely, utterly refreshing, and rather funny… which couldn’t be helped considering who the author is. Common-sensical wisdom on child raising combined with humor and whit, written over 50 years ago. I’ve read a lot of books on parenting, but I’ve never laughed quite so much or agreed any more than I have while reading this one…


I have to put the disclaimer that I don’t agree with everything Mr. Linkletter writes, but Oh. My. Stars. he sure hits the nail on the head in so many areas. It’s like having a great conversation with your grandfather about how to raise happy, healthy kids. I may be sharing some of it with you in the next few posts.

Have a great Tuesday!

The Cookie Section…

I had an unexpected quiet hour this morning, and decided to tackle a pile of recipes that I had pulled out of my old recipe binder a while back. I’ve been slowly adding them to the new red Martha Stewart binder that I filled with cute Susan Branch recipe dividers from another binder.

Yep. I do tend to collect binders. And dividers.
And various other paper organizational materials.
And switch them out and rearrange them a little too often.


Anyway, I’ve been avoiding the “Cookie Section.”
It seemed just a tiny bit overwhelming.
Is it a major character flaw if the “Cookie Section” of
your recipes is the biggest and most used section?

I think not.

One thing that really impressed me when snipping out these old recipe pages and pasting them in the new binder, was how many ladies are represented in my “Cookie Section.” My Mom and my girls. Grandmoms and Teen-agers. Old and Young. Best friends and Ladies I just met. So many memories in a rather large stack of cookie recipes. Those recipes represent Christmas from my childhood, tea parties with my girls, “Wow, I really need that recipe,” mega-cooking adventures, Civil War balls, snow days, dinner with friends,  and because-we-need-cookies-right-now-why-won’t-the-butter-soften-any-faster?

Cookie Section

If you look closely, your name might be in that pile!


If not, it’s probably in the “Dessert Section.”

A Mood Board, of sorts…

One of my girls enlightened me on “Mood Boards” this past year.

I think I sort of knew about them, but for some reason never saw the importance of creating a mood board when coming up with a new design, a fresh brand, or a  snappy decorating scheme. Jo uses them with her graphic design clients to get a feel for who they are and what they are looking for in a logo or blog header. And today, while shuffling stuff around (Expert Stuff Shuffler here.) I gathered a few things that I LOVE and that have been an inspiration for Something-In-The-Works.

I’ve had this wonderful calligraphy mat for a while…


…And lots of Verbage/Words/Signage…


…And am slowly adding to a collection…


…And a historic print that I have LOVED since childhood
has been developed into textiles…


… which jumpstarted the Something-In-The-Works!

Any guesses?


A Love/Hate Relationship…

Contact Paper.

Need I say more?

Nothing freshens up old cupboards like brand new Contact Paper.
One of my girls bought me several rolls of this happy
vintage green Magic Cover Contact Paper at the
Dollar Store because it looked like me…


I saved it for a while because it had to go in just the right spot.

And I had to be in just the right mood.

Because there are a several important
steps to applying Contact Paper properly.

Step #1. Measure Carefully, taking note of
indentations in the structure of the cupboard floor.

Step #2. Cut out the first piece of Contact Paper
completely backward just for practice.
(This piece can be used later for a smaller area.)

Step #3. Cut out a new piece of Contact Paper
with the proper dimensions, right side up.

Step #4. Peel off the backing carefully and prepare
to apply the contact paper to the bottom of cupboard.

Step #5. Stick Contact Paper to your head, arms,
and any other available extremity, as well as to itself
before applying to the surface you had planned on covering.


After the battle is over application is complete
you will love the results! Fresh cupboards!

This Week…

Haven’t had much time to write, but have been keeping my hands busy lately!

So, just a few photos from this week…

FramesIt began with frames and yellow paint…

GrainingAnd then some brown paint…

MoreFramesAnd then some more frame parts took over the dining room…

(And laundry too…
…a basket of folded clothes decided to make an online appearance!)


And there were LOTS of little details!


We even got to spend a few hours holding little hands!


And there was sustenance in the form of Raisin Bran Muffins…


I am always amazed when making this recipe
that was a staple of Hubby’s Mom’s kitchen…


The bowl is filled to the brim with the initial ingredients…


…and then you’re supposed to stir in a box of of Raisin Bran cereal!


And somehow it fits!

DSC_0018And there are plenty to share… The batter can keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks!

(Great to have on hand for Instant Hospitality!)

It’s amazing what can be accomplished with a pot of coffee on the back burner
and a stash of fresh, yummy Raisin Bran Muffins!

Grammy’s Raisin Bran Muffin Recipe…
(Originally from Kellogg’s, I think!)

Mix together 1 cup oil, 4 eggs, & 3 cups sugar in your largest bowl.
In a medium bowl, sift together 5 cups of flour & 2 tsp. baking soda.
Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients, alternating with 1 quart buttermilk.
(You will need the entire quart!)
Once the buttermilk, oil mixture, and dry ingredients are well mixed,
Stir in 15 oz. Raisin Bran cereal.

Bake muffins @400° for around 15-20 minutes.
(They should be golden brown, and not smooshy on top.)

Keep extra batter in fridge for up to 6 weeks…
…but I’ll bet it won’t last that long, they’re so yummy!


You can play around with this recipe…

Mix up your flours… white, whole wheat, spelt, oat?

Use brown sugar?

Add in some nuts or seeds?

Also… I never seem to have the correct size Raisin Bran box, so I look at the serving
size on the side and do a bit of math to figure out how many cups are needed.
This store-brand cereal ended up being 7 ½ cups for 15 oz.

I usually use between 7 & 8 cups.

Use It Up…

One of the earlier Pie from Scratch posts was about making things from scratch… A value that Annie is being taught by her grandparents. As Thanksgiving is approaching, I keep thinking of a little sing-song-y bit of wisdom that Nana always quoted…

Use it up, Wear it out,
Make it do, or Do without.

Another treasure from the Depression Era! The reason I’ve been thinking about it, is because of a phone call from my Uncle the other day. Now, he’s not usually a chat-on-the-phone sort of guy, but he had heard a statistic about Thanksgiving that completely blew his mind. So he called us to see if we could guess the correct number to the following question…

How many pounds of turkey is thrown away after
Thanksgiving Dinner in America each year?

We’re not talking about in restaurants, or leftover turkeys in grocery stores… Just the turkey that’s left after we all sit down to eat. Thrown away.  Any ideas? My answer didn’t even come close.

280,000,000 Pounds.

Somehow that struck me as important when illustrating
a children’s book that focused on old-fashioned values.

I never “picked” a turkey until my first Thanksgiving away from home as a new bride. I’m sure it had been done in my home, but I guess I was oblivious to the clean-up process. (My poor Mother.) For our first Thanksgiving, we invited another Navy couple over for dinner (which was MUCH later than expected, because I also didn’t know it took DAYS to thaw a turkey! That morning included me and Hubby desperately trying to thaw the biggest bird we ever handled in a warm bath tub!) They brought along the wife’s mother and elderly grandmother. After dinner was over, cleaning up was the last thing on my mind, but that Grandma took me in the kitchen and showed me how to pick a turkey! (She even showed me a secret hunk of yummy turkey meat under the bird, with the admonition that “We don’t tell the men about this.”) Before I knew it, I had POUNDS of turkey meat in the fridge waiting for post-Thanksgiving meals. Like Hot Turkey Sandwiches, Turkey Soup, Turkey Stuffing Casserole… You get the idea. AND, she told me to save the carcass, and boil it the next day with some celery, onions, and carrots to make Turkey Stock to freeze!

How did I not know to do that?

I’m guessing, according to that 280,000,000 pounds statistic,
that there must be quiet a few young wives out there that also
do not know how to “use up” every bit of their Thanksgiving Bird.

Sooo…. in the spirit of Annie’s farm grandparents,
who would have “used it up” and not thrown it out…

What do you do with your Thanksgiving leftovers?

You can post a link in the comments if you have a great recipe!

Here’s one of our favorites…

Leftover Turkey Stuffing Bake

Mix in a large bowl:
2 cups diced, cooked Turkey
2 stalks Celery, chopped
1 small Onion, chopped
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1 cup Milk
Seasoning to taste… Salt, Pepper & Mrs. Dash is our choice!

Place mixture in deep casserole dish, and top with 2 cups leftover veggies.
(Peas are our favorite!)

Cover the veggies with Leftover Stuffing and bake at 400° for 25 minutes.

Top with grated Cheese, and bake for another 5 minutes.

This recipe was adapted over the years from a Campbell’s Soup Recipe, as we tried to really use up our leftovers, and also adapt it for our dairy-intolerant family members. The original recipe is yummy too!

Pie Filling…

After making the pie crusts, the next step is to
decide on the perfect pumpkin pie filling recipe!

I’m playing with several recipes we’ve used over the years,
trying out all the changes we’ve made to them…

…Like replacing brown sugar for white, for that extra “yum” factor…

And just the right blend of spices…

Hopefully we’ll eventually mix up the perfect pumpkin pie!

Does anyone have a killer pumpkin pie recipe?

I’m experimenting with recipes that use fresh pumpkin
and heavy cream or milk instead of evaporated  or condensed milk.

And I need a recipe that a kid can follow…
…with a little help from her Nana.

Who knows?

Maybe YOUR recipe could be in

Pie from Scratch!

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

Pie Crust…

Finally got a chance to play with some pie crust!

I’m going with an old-fashioned pie crust recipe…
…the kind our grannies used…
…with “real” ingredients…

I used a cup each of fresh ground wheat flour and white flour.
And 1/2 teaspoon salt.
And 2/3 cup “shortening.”

For the shortening, I used a butter/lard combo…
Living on a farm, I figured that is most likely what
Annie’s Nana would have used for her pie crust.

First you have to “cut in” the cold butter and lard
until you have crumbs the size of peas…

And then you add just enough ice water to form a dough.
Really… ICE water. See the ice cubes in the bowl?

Then form the dough into two balls…

Roll them out…

Transfer the dough to your pan…

Trim the edges…

Make them pretty…

And bake!

Single crust pies usually need to have the crust baked first…
I’m just going to “half bake” it so the edges aren’t too well done.
I found these fun “Baking Beans” at Hobby Lobby…
They’ll keep the crust from puffling up while baking!

Special Nana Anne Tip for Baking with Kids:

Let the kids have the pie crust trimmings for their own baking project! She would give my girls the trimmings to roll out, enhance with spices, and bake. Pop Vin used to tease the girls that they would play with the dough until it was too dirty to play with, and then eat it! Actually, they used to feed the finished products to him, and he was quite a good sport about it! Even when not making pie crust, the girls would beg Nana to make them “dough” so they could create fantastic baked goods. Their favorite “recipe” was butter topped with cinnamon sugar…

Ah, Kitchen Memories…

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

A Little Red Hen Sort of Day…

One of my favorite childhood stories was The Little Red Hen.

(Snagged this copy for a quarter at a yard sale this Summer!)

The early folk tale teaches children hard work pays off…
…And so does pitching in and helping!

I’m pretty sure that I pulled that story
out of my hat a few times as a Mom.

However, as a kid, the story intrigued me,
because it talked about how wheat became bread!

Long ago, every kid knew that wheat had to be planted,
and then reaped and threshed to get fresh wheat berries…

…And then it was taken to the mill…

…To be ground into flour, made into dough,
and baked into yummy fresh bread…

We live about 4 miles from the coast in Delaware, and this weekend was spent wondering where Hurricane Sandy was going to make landfall… The track kept fluctuating between Fenwick Island and Atlantic City… and we’re pretty much right in between those two places. Yesterday, my plans for a rainy, blustery day included doing a trial run of Annie’s pie crust, but in the morning there was a sudden concern that our bread supply would run out… FAST… if we were indeed stuck here with no power for days. So, the pie crust trial run turned into a “grind lots of wheat to make lots of flour to make lots of bread” sort of day! I felt just as satisfied with the finished loaves of bread as the Little Red Hen did!

Thankfully, we only got a little wet yesterday… just a few drippy leaks and a lot of water standing in low spots. However, our prayers are with those facing flooded homes and businesses, and dealing with power outages, downed trees, and heavy snow.

“And now,” said the Little Red Hen,
Who will help me eat the bread?” 


See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!

Cooking Pumpkins…

Today, I attacked the pumpkins!

Or at least it felt like I did, considering
the big knife I needed to cut the things open!

It’s been a while since we’ve cut open a pumpkin around here. And usually we leave the hacking-in-half process to the men. However, it was just me and the chickens here, so I got to do it. These Fairytale pumpkins had a sweet scent inside… sort of like a cantaloupe… and they had bright orange flesh. It was a slightly messy adventure, so I’m glad I did at least part of the hacking and scooping outside.

I decided to roast the largest pumpkin in the oven. After scooping out the stringy middle flesh and seeds, the pumpkin halves went open-side-down on a baking pan, and into a 350°oven for about an hour and a half. (It was a big pumpkin to roast… a smaller pumpkin might only need an hour of roasting.)

The other pumpkin went into a pot on top of the stove. I cut it up into smaller pieces,
peeled the rind off the outer edges, and boiled it for about 20-30 minutes.

After both pumpkins were sufficiently cooked, (fork tender) I set about pureeing them. I needed to mash the boiled pumpkin before processing it further, but the roasted pumpkin didn’t need mashing. I first gave the “old fashioned” method a try, and ran some of the pumpkin through my hand-cranked food mill…

…And then decided that for blogging purposes,
my food processor would be faster.

I did want to post about this TODAY, after all.


And, after giving my 20 year-old tiny food processor a good workout…

Lots of pumpkin puree for pie-making!

The Results

The boiled pumpkin took longer to prep for cooking,
but cooked much faster and was easier to process.

The roasted pumpkin had no prep time, but took
longer to cook and to scoop out of the shell.

The finished products had the same consistency,  which
surprised me because the boiled pumpkin seemed more watery.

HOWEVER… The roasted pumpkin had more flavor!

AND… Neither pumpkin had the same thick
consistency as store-bought canned pumpkin.

I wonder how that will effect the finished pies?

See all the blog posts about making
Pie from Scratch!
by clicking below!