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.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Racing Towards August!

"Life is not a race, but a journey to be savored each step of the way."--Nikita Koloff

     The summer is going by so swiftly.  My youngest son celebrated his birthday this past week and decided to take a few friends to the Miller Motor Sports Park and do some go-carting.  They enjoyed their time there.

     I borrowed this quilt pattern from a friend in the neighborhood.  It's called "Honey Bees" by Calico Hills Farm.  It's one of the few quilts I am able to finish this summer.  I did hand-quilt it though.

Summer is all about salads.  This one is loved by everyone in the family.  It's easy to prepare and can be served as either a main dish or a side.

Oriental Chicken Cabbage Salad

2 chicken breasts, boned, skinned and cooked

2 T. toasted sesame seeds

2 T. slivered almonds

½ head cabbage, chopped

2 green onions

1 pkg. chicken ramen noodles, broken up

Combine salad ingredients in large bowl.  Combine dressing ingredients in bottle.  Cover and shake.  Pour on salad and toss.  Chill for 1-2 hours in fridge.

Dressing:   3 T. rice vinegar                            1 tsp. salt

                  1 tsp. lemon juice                          ¼ tsp. pepper

                  2 T. sugar                                      seasoning mix from noodles

                  ½ cup oil


     I can never think of a good way to use up extra plums.  This recipe is fun to make because the plums go on the top during the preparation but end up on the bottom after baking.  I love the tartness with the sweet cream.

Plum Pudding Cake

1 C. flour                                             3 T. oil

¾ C sugar                                            2 C. sliced fresh red plums

2 tsp. baking powder                          1 C. packed brown sugar

¼ tsp. salt                                            1 tsp. cinnamon

½ C. milk                                            1 C. boiling water

            Heat oven to 350°.  Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Beat in milk and oil until smooth.  Pour into ungreased square pan, 8x8x2 inches.  Top with plums.  Mix brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over plums.  Pour boiling water on plums.  Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes.  Serve warm and if desired, with cool whip.  Makes 6 servings.

     I found this book at my daughter's house and I borrowed it because I heard it was a pretty good read.  I heard right.  The couple in the book were prisoners of war in Malaya and met up again six years later in Australia where they worked hard to build up a town in the outback.  I was impressed with how hard they worked and it caused me to wonder what kind of business would I start if I had the chance.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Summer Midpoint

"All great change in America begins at the dinner table."--Ronald Reagan

     This weekend the rain came and put out the fire that was started by lightening on the mountainside just east of our home.  It was called the Flood Canyon fire.  It put quite a bit of smoke and ashes in the air in this valley.  This is one of three fires close to home this week.

     Lately, I have had a few people ask me for this recipe so I thought it better go on the blog.  We have this quite often.  I use the salmon that we purchase from Costco.

Salmon with Lemon and Dill
1 pound salmon                                    3 T. lemon juice
¼ tsp. salt                                             2 tsp. dried dill weed
¼ tsp. pepper                                       2 T. butter
1 tsp. onion powder                             3 T. soy sauce
1 tsp. garlic powder

            Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease a medium baking dish.  Place salmon in the baking dish and sprinkle with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.  Pour lemon juice and soy sauce evenly over the salmon.  Sprinkle fish with dried dill weed and place slices of butter evenly over it.  Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with a fork.

     My mom has been begging people to come and get apricots from her tree this week so they don't go to waste.  It reminded me of this recipe that we enjoy.  This is a nice, moist cake and a delicious way to use apricots.

Apricot Spice Cake
                                         2 eggs                                      2 C. flour
                                         1 C. sugar                                1 tsp. cinnamon
                                        ½ tsp. salt                                 1 tsp. cloves
                                        ½ C. vegetable oil                     2 tsp. soda
                                         2 C. apricot puree                    1 T. hot water

            Generously grease 9 X 13” baking pan.  In large mixing bowl combine eggs, sugar, salt, and oil; beat well.  Stir in apricot puree.  Add flour, spices and soda mixed with hot water.  Pour into prepared baking pan.  Bake at 350* for 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool.  Frost, if desired, with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
            In large bowl, cream together 4 ounces softened cream cheese and 2 T. softened butter or margarine until smooth.  Gradually beat in 3 C. powdered sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla.  Beat until spreading consistency adding small amount of milk if needed. 

     This quilt is called "Stars and Stripes" and is one of my favorites.  The pattern was printed in the magazine McCall's Quick Quilts a few years ago.

      I realized this year that I have never read Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.  So in March I read it and quite enjoyed it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fireworks on the Fourth!

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."--The United States Declaration of Independence

     Happy Fourth of July to you!  We did try to pursue happiness today and I think we succeeded.  Utah has been plagued by many wildfires and fireworks have been banned in all unincorporated areas of the state.  Our governor has even declared a day of prayer because the fires have become very serious and threaten to destroy more homes and lives.  With all this in mind, we started out the day by going to the parade in Grantsville.  We returned to our home for a barbeque and then the water festivities began.  We figured that playing in the water would not endanger  our dry country areas any further.  We started with a giant homemade slip and slide.  The kids of all ages loved that.  Then we moved on to launching water bottle rockets; and finally we ended by filling up the pool.    The whole day was topped off by returning to the city of Grantville and viewing the fireworks there.

A tradition we like best for the Fourth of July is to make homemade rootbeer and homemade vanilla ice cream.  It's such a refreshing treat.

Root Beer

1 bottle root beer extract
4 lbs. (8 Cups) sugar
4 ½ gallons water
5lbs. dry ice

Mix sugar and extract, then add water.  Stir well to dissolve sugar.  Add dry ice and allow about 45 minutes before drinking.

Vanilla Ice Cream

4 eggs                                                       6 cups milk
                      2 ½ cups sugar                                                 1 ½ T. vanilla
                     1 quart cream                                                   ½ tsp. salt

            Beat eggs in large bowl until light.  Add sugar ¼ cup at a time until hard to beat.  Add milk, cream, vanilla and salt.  Beat until smooth.  Chill in  ice cream freezer.  Makes 4 quarts.

Variations: You can add fresh or canned fruit.  Peaches or strawberries are good.  You can also add ground up candy bars.  Butterfinger or snickers are good.

Here are some mini quilts made from patterns from one of my favorite designers--Nancy Halvorsen  from Art to Heart.  Here are a couple of her booklets.