Sunday, March 28, 2010

Corned Beef and Cabbage

I LOVE corned beef and cabbage. I was raised up on it. I have even served it to a few lucky souls around here.

For me, it is my favorite March meal. Corned beef always goes on sale around St. Patrick's Day since it is considered an Irish meal. Since my birthday is soon after that, at home we always had corned beef and cabbage the closest Sunday to my birthday and Mom still serves it to us when we visit near my birthday and considers it MY birthday dinner.

Most people view this meal with suspicion or worse. It doesn't help that the meat is bright red and juicy in its package before it is cooked. There is an art or skill or just plain know-how that makes this meal "traditional" and delicious.

Jim never ate it until he met me, and even after eating it, still married me, and even more so, requests it at least once a year.

Choosing a corned beef needs to be done with care, as a brisket can be a very fatty piece of meat. There are usually two choices of cut, the flat cut, or the point. The flat cut is usually more expensive, less fatty and tenderer meat. This particular piece was excellent, with very little fat, which is unusual.

If I am at home I simmer the corned beef on the stove, covered in water for nearly an hour a pound. It usually gives directions on the package. If I want it for Sunday dinner, I simmer it on the stove until time to go and then put it in the slow cooker.

Inside the package, comes a smaller package of spices that can be used at the cook's discretion. I always use it. You can see it sprinkled on top of the meat below.

While the meat is cooking, I peel and cut up potatoes and carrots to boil after the meat is done.

I also cut cabbage into wedges to also boil later.

When the meat is fork tender, let it rest a few minutes before slicing against the grain. Usually there is quite a big of fat to cut off.

While the meat is being sliced, the potatoes and carrots are placed in the boiling broth to cook for about 15 minutes. If there is room in the pot, put the cabbage in also, a few minutes after the others to cook for 5-10 minutes, so everything is done at the same time.

After removing the vegetables, strain the broth to use as gravy. I don't thicken it.
At home we were served vingar to eat dribbled on to the cabbage. Jim uses it on the whole meal.
I bought this vinegar cruet at a junk/antique shop to use just for this purpose. Mom had a little tiny glass cream pitcher that we used and I have coveted it since I first saw it.
Here is my plate of dinner. I love cabbage.

Just Desserts

Lynette is learning how to cook, and she is also learning how to make her food look nice.

This is a very nice mulberry shortcake, served in her great-great grandma Bennett's sauce dish. I only have 5 of them, and they are used only on very special occasions, like mulberry shortcake days.

We found some "mini-bananas" at the store so Lynette made a "mini-banana" split, with the ice cream dips made with a cookie scoop.

Cute little bananas.

One small banana split served on one of Thelma Holmes' depression glass sauce dishes.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An Outside Kind of Day

Zane and I were having an afternoon exercise tour around the place the other day, when it hit me that is was good picture taking weather. This of course, happened after about half our time to be outdoors was gone, and he was running around being so cute that he might be out of outdoor cuteness for the day.

I think I need to wear my camera around my neck. But, since I don't even know where my cell phone is all the time, I don't think that is going to happen either.

So, I raced inside to get my camera, and we started our trek over. I took LOTS of pictures in search of the one great one, which I got later, but I also got some cute enough pictures of what our place looks like in March with Zane in it.

Zane, at so close to 15 months we'll just call it that.

A good walker.

Practicing going down the steps with no support.

Oops, it must be easier this way!

He can kick a ball.

Very good balance.

Cute face.

Oh, please excuse me, while I rock and cuddle this boy. He's taken to wanting a couple of minutes of cuddle time in the afternoon.

Up the stairs WITH support.

And the way it's always done.

Looking over our property. Especially the place he wants to be, down by the cows.

It's easy to climb on chairs.

Out in the back, just looking around.

By the shop, couldn't get this door open.

Oh, look, the kitty is joining us.

Peek-a-boo! No cows in here.

And HERE is the great one.

Talking to Charlie.
This one is pretty cute, too.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow.

You know a little boy's hair is too long when auntie puts a ponytail in.

I didn't know it was possible for this much hair to stick straight up after getting out of bed in the morning.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

He's Watching Me!

Zane loves blankies, especially his fleece ones.

He doesn't seem to mind carrying around the very biggest one, even though he trips over it every other step, going upstairs or through the living room.

When he wants it, he will go to his playpen in the "napping room", and "ask" to be put in, grabs his blankie, and then wants right back out.

It's cute.

He likes my afghan projects, too. I've been working hard to get this one finished so he's seen me working on it everyday. I don't think it's so very soft to cuddle up with, but he does a little bit, but the funniest part was the day he decided to crochet.

Zane isn't very old, he's only 14 months old. He looks a lot bigger and in some ways acts a lot older than he is. But, he is watching us, he does what we do, and he understands what we say and will do it sometimes.

I knew this when I my children were little, and I am learning it again. If I want to know how I act and what I do, just watch the little ones. They are learning everyday and they are learning from me.

What is so sweet at this age is the response to our requests. We say, "pick up the book" and he will, or "throw that in the trash" and he does. Later I guess when toddlers are a little older with a little more knowledge or reasoning power, they figure they have a choice and have to be made to obey.

Oh, to be more childlike.

Wisconsin Cheese Head

On top of spaghetti-eeeee, all covered with cheeeeze....

I found my poor Zane boy... ( is everybody singing along now!!)


he poured a little bowl of cheese powder all over himself.

And the floor.

Now, why was a little bowl of cheese powder on the counter where Zane can get it? You can wonder all day long, but how am I supposed to know this until the first time he can reach on to the counter over far enough to grab things. He has moved up to a new level.

I guess I should have known since he can throw things into the sink.

As to why the cheese powder was there in the first place...

Lynette likes macaroni and cheese and if you buy the boxed mixes on sale for 50 cents each, you have a cheap after school snack. And, you can make it even cheaper if you divide it up into 4 individual servings so it all gets eaten and none gets into the fridge to mold, although I'm not sure this mac-n-cheese will ever mold, since it probably just artfully created preservatives made to look like macaroni and cheese looking powder.

She likes it FRESH, not left over. So, she figured out how much macaroni, cheese, milk and butter she needed to make a 1/4 of a batch, put the mac in ziploc (is that a generic term yet, or will I be subject to trademark infringement?) bags, and the cheese in a throwaway little bowl with lid, that I use over and over again.

I'm so proud, she's learning her tightwad, errr, economical ways from me.

So, I didn't get the lid on in time!! So I turned my back for half a second while Zane was in the kitchen!!! So, sue me!

And to think, he won't even eat macaroni and cheese!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Job Well Done

A long time ago, it seems like a whole lifetime ago, I was in college. I lived in the dorm my first year, and got a job at the college cafeteria in the spring and the summer. I stayed in town that first summer and moved in with a couple who were like parents to me. I biked all over this town to my jobs and to visit my friends. I worked for an old lady that had me doing everything she needed, from foot washing to housecleaning and cooking.

In the fall I qualified for work study hours and got a job in the Physical Science Dept with two professors that were a little younger then than I am now. One of them died this week with cancer. He was 68 years old.

I loved that job. I wasn't a very confident person in those days. The first months I spent learning my way around the lab cum classroom as I set up equipment for lab work and cleaned up when class was done. I made minimum wage and every two weeks I would go to the main science office and pick up my check and visit with the secretary or the head of the department.

As the years went by, it was easier to set up labs and they gave me more and more responsibility. I would supervise tests, sort and grade papers and enter grades into the grade book.

They would take the time to teach me about what they would teach the students in their lab classes I was setting up. If I had questions, they would answer them. They were never in a rush, and were always laughing and telling jokes. They weren't terribly picky about how tidy the storage area was, instead they would take my time teaching me physical properties.

They were a funny pair. They shared the same last name, but weren't related. One was shorter and chubby, one was tall and thin. They had a rapport which I imagine is hard to find among most professors. They worked 3o years together, about 15 before I came.

They did many things together, even outside the classroom. They had acreages, raised children and cows, and went to the same church.

The next summer they wrote me into a grant they received for a couple weeks of junior high science camp. I was lab assistant, girl's dorm mother, and the general "go to gal" for the kids and professors alike. I oversaw the equipment, bought supplies, supervised the kids, helped with the classes themselves and took a summer computer class at the same time.

Eventually, I felt confident enough to clean up the storage cupboard that was full of things never used. I threw away things we hadn't used in 2 1/2 years and suggested new items we needed, and washed and tidied the rest as best I could.

I did my student teaching that last semester of my senior year and spent very little time down in the basement where the science department was. But, after I graduated I had one more job with them. One of the professors became ill and was unable to go on the Outdoor Education class offered for elementary teachers in the summer. So, I went along to help. I packed all the equipment and myself for a 5 day workshop at a campsite near Cozad. Some of the things I did in that class I had always done, like setting up the activities and cleaning up after them. Some things, I had never done, like taking responsibility for some of the activities and participating when they needed an extra person. It was a fun 5 days, classes during the day and enjoying ourselves in the evening.

I gave that job my best and enjoyed those professors. I didn't see them much in the 25 years following my graduation, but living in Kearney, we crossed paths a few times and they always remembered me.

Today at the funeral the one professor introduced me as the "best lab assistant" they ever had. I'm not so sure about that, but I sure tried to be. They've never forgotten me, or the work I did there and I appreciate that. I've never forgotten them or those years I spent working for them.

It was some of the best years of my life.

Monday, March 1, 2010

This Time Last Year IV

March 2009

Zane is starting to sit up and take notice (supported of course).

He's wearing the little booties I made for him. I need more practice at this bootie making thing, and socks are a lot easier to put on. But they sure are cute.

This is one of my favorite photos of all time. Not only is it so nice of Nathan to be playing with his nephew, but I have a photo with a smile on his face!
Nathan just loves that Zane boy!
"I love (him) best when (he's) asleep, and better still when (he's) awake." --Anne of the Island

These sleeping baby photos are all the more precious a year later, when we are tired from chasing Zane around all day.