Life really can be a picnic!

Everyone loves a picnic! This blog is about some of the things I love the most, and the term "picnic" just about covers them all. First of all, a picnic has to include food; simple food that is easy to fix. Next, you need someplace fun or different to visit; a nice, peaceful location. And of course, you always need to take along a good book to read and a well-used quilt to spread everything out on. So, there you have it! Easy recipes, good books, fun quilts along with some interesting, down-to-earth places to visit. You can even take your family or a friend or two if you want.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Happy Day After President's Day!

"A creative mess is better than tidy idleness."--message in fortune cookie

     I have never had the least desire to travel to Africa.  The dry desert and wild animals have never really appealed to me.  But after reading a book called The #1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith  I am reconsidering.  This book is about a woman named Precious Ramotswe who lives in the country of Botswana in Africa.  She starts up her own detective agency when her father leaves her his cattle just before he dies.  He tells her to sell the cows and start her own business.  And that's just what she does.  I admire her integrity and her courage, but most of all her uncanny common sense.  Precious uses her curiosity and natural talents to help others.  I am thrilled that it is the first in a series of ten books.  I definitely want to read more about her adventures.  Smith describes Africa with fondness as a place of exotic beauty.

     It's that time of year when citrus is in season and I have a recipe that I like to use those lemons in.  I got this one from my sister.  Since I like snow peas, it's become a favorite.  I also like to use instant brown rice in this recipe.

Lemon Chicken

1 lb. skinned, boned chicken breasts,                              1 large carrot, sliced diagonally

cut into strips                                                        2 T. fresh lemon juice

1 medium onion, chopped                                                 ½ tsp. grated lemon rind

2 garlic cloves, crushed                                                       ½ tsp. salt

2 T. butter or margarine                                                     1 cup snow pea pods

1 T. cornstarch                                                                     3 T. chopped parsley

1 can (13 ¾ oz.) chicken broth                                         1 ½ cups dry Minute rice

Saute chicken, onion and garlic in butter until chicken is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Stir in cornstarch and cook 1 minute.

Add broth, carrot, lemon juice, lemon rind and salt.  Bring to a full boil.

Stir in pea pods, parsley and rice.  Cover; remove from heat.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.  Makes 4 servings.

Here's another birthday quilt I made for my sister.  It is made from only one block and only three different fabrics.  It's called Rock, Paper, Scissors.  I did the Scissors layout.   The pattern is put out by Prairie Sky Quilting and is one of their Triple Expresso creations.  Minky on the back makes it nice and cuddly.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day Month!

"Life's greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved"--Victor Hugo

     Since it's the month of love, I'll have to recommend not only one of my favorite all time musicals, but it was also a really good book to read.  The Scarlet Pimpernel takes place during the French Revolution.  It's a great adventure book as well as being a pretty good romance.  If you haven't seen the musical, you are really missing out.

We tried these cookies the other day and they were really tasty and I thought they would make a really nice Valentine's Day treat.  You can also replace one cup of the flour with a cup of oatmeal and add a 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon to make a great cookie with a slightly different flavor.

Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, softened                                                2 ½ cups flour            
1 cup brown sugar                                                      1 tsp. baking soda
½ cup sugar                                                                 1 tsp. salt
2 eggs                                                                          2 cups white baking chips
1 tsp. vanilla                                                                1 cup sweetened dried cranberries

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter, brown sugar, sugar, eggs and vanilla in large bowl.  Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.  Reduce speed to low; add flour, baking soda and salt.  Beat until well mixed.  Stir in baking chips and cranberries by hand.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoons, 2 inches apart, onto greased cookie sheets. 
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until light brown.  Cool completely.

Here's a quilt I did last year.  I love black and white quilts; then you throw in a little red and it takes it to the next level of dramatic.  This pattern is by Anka's Treasures in her booklet called Stop, Drop and Roll.  It's called  Center of Attention; and you can see why.