Thursday, December 25, 2014

Swedish Spritz Cookies


Family traditions are important to me, especially now that my family includes only Wayne and me.  Christmas has always been a time to remember our heritage.

Grandma's family came from Norway by ship and through Ellis Island. Her father (Swedish) was a chef, and was sponsored by the Adventist church to work at the Kellogg Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan. Grandma's Aunt Mary (from her dad's Swedish side) served as a missionary in South America, but often visited at Christmas when my mom was young. Along with amazing tales of living in a far off country, she brought her Swedish baking skills for holiday goodies.

So, one of our family Christmas traditions has been to make Swedish Spritz Cookies each year. The old family recipe card is in Mom's handwriting with the title:

Sprits - Swedish Cookies (Aunt Mary)

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg (or three egg yolks)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons brandy (if you have some)
2 1/3 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Be sure the butter is firm and do not make on a warm day. Handle as little as possible.

Cream butter and sugar. Mix in egg and flavourings. Add flour, salt, and baking powder. Don't overwork!

Place dough in a cookie press. Press cookies onto a sheet and bake in a 335 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.

Remove cookies to cool, and store in an airtight container. These are rich, crispy cookies that make a nice Christmas, or anytime treat.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours. -- Margy

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Deception Pass, Whidbey Island


Deception Pass in Washington State is a narrow channel of water that separates Whidbey Island from Fidalgo Island connecting Skagit Bay in Puget Sound with the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Deception Pass was discovered by Joseph Whidbey during the 1792 Vancouver expedition to the Pacific Northwest. Vancouver named it Deception Pass because it had appeared to be a narrow bay instead of a strait.


A 976 foot bridge connects Fidalgo and Whibey islands. The two spans of the bridge were constructed high above the pass as a public works project in 1935. In the middle is tiny Pass Island. Here you will find a small viewpoint parking area. There are also turnouts and parking areas on each side of the bridge. The bridge itself has narrow pedestrian walkways for the brave (not me!).

Deception Pass State Park is located on both sides of the strait. It was also constructed in the 1930s as a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) public works project. Today, it is the most visited state park in Washington. It offers camping, picnicing, hiking, boating, kayaking, fishing and swimming. Camp and picnic areas have shelters for fireplaces and picnic tables. Seeing one of the original ones at the north shore picnic area really brought back memories of camping when I was young. If you prefer something less rustic, there are hotels and motels in nearby Anacortes and Oak Harbor.

Because it's a narrow strait, the tides create a flow of water up to 6 knots. Sailboats with small engines can be seen waiting for the tide to change before attempting passage. Even powerboats with larger engines time their transit for calmer waters. For viewing, I recommend the north beach area on the Whidbey side of the park. Day use is free. The trail from the parking area to the beach is only 1/10th of a mile down a gentle trail.

Sit on a log and watch your cares flow away. -- Margy

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Butter Cookies


Usually I do my baking at the cabin, but this holiday season we will be in the States, so I decided to bake some cookies at the condo. I chose a simple butter cookie recipe and they turned out nice. This recipe makes a crunchy cookie that isn't overly sweet. It's great for the holidays, but it's a good cookie for nibbling any time.

BUTTER COOKIES

1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg slightly beaten
2 2/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons almond extract

Using a hand mixer, cream the butter (I used margarine) and sugar. Add the egg, then the almond extract (or vanilla). Mix the dry ingredients together before adding them slowly to the wet ingredients. Mix thoroughly. The dough will be crumbly like pie dough. Divide it in two.

Use your hands to roll the dough into a 1 1/2 inch diameter log. Place it in plastic wrap and roll back and forth on the counter for a uniform shape. Chill the dough for an hour before slicing. Cut cookies 1/4 inch thin and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Decorate if desired and bake at 400 degrees for 7-10 minutes. If cookies are slightly brown around the edges, they're done.

Remove to a rack (I use a paper bag) to cool then store in a sealed container. The cookies crisp after cooling.

I froze my second roll of dough so it'll be quick and easy. Are you busy baking Christmas cookies? What is your favourite kind? -- Margy

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

USC Sports-cation


USC Women's Basketball at CSULB
When the weather gets cold, we start our sports-cations to California and Arizona laced with University of Southern California sporting events.

This time of year there's football and basketball. Within a 10-day period, we took in two football games, several basketball games, and a Lakers pro game.

We flew from Bellingham to Palm Springs on Allegiant. Avoiding rush hour, driving to Los Angeles is better than airplane transfers.


USC vs UCLA at the Rose Bowl
We drove straight to Long Beach State University. USC women were playing against my alma mater. It was fun to return to my college after twenty years. USC won, but I was rooting for both teams.

Wayne coordinates hotels to match sports venues, so we headed to the Pasadena Hilton to position ourselves for USC vs. UCLA football. We sat in "enemy" territory and had to listen to a lot of heckling, even though UCLA won.


USC Men's Basketball takes Cal State Fullerton
We had a late at the Pasadena Cheesecake Factory in honour of the Big Bang Theory we watch on our laptop at the cabin

Between games Wayne picked the Montebello Hilton Garden Inn for some serious sunbathing. Heading to the suburbs, he got a good deal.

Next was USC men's basketball at the Galen Center.  Wayne got us into the Raddison next door. This can be difficult on football weekends, but at off times it's a good choice.


Sunny downtown LA
We headed to the Downtown Sheraton. From here we could walk or ride the Metro Rail to our remaining events.  First was the Lakers basketball game at Staples Center. It was exciting to see the players in action, especially Kobe.

On Thanksgiving we walked to the LA Auto Show at the Convention Center. It was a good way to see all models in one place. Later, we enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at the classic downtown Pantry Cafe.


Our last event was the USC vs. Notre Dame football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Metro Rail to Exposition Park was 35 cents each way for seniors, or $1.75 full fare. One great thing about a big city is inexpensive rapid transit.


The LA Coliseum
This game was more positive game with a win for our team. What a great end to a USC sports-cation.

Wayne does our travel plans and reservations. When game tickets go on sale, he purchases them directly from the schools. Our second choice is to use StubHub

You can develop your own sports-cations around your favourite college (or professional) sports teams. While Wayne is the USC sports nut in our family, I enjoy the trips and going to the games. Over the years, I've learned a lot about football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, and softball. Because we enjoy both men's and women's events, it broadens the opportunities within a short period of time.

Do you follow a favourite team?
Consider crafting a vacation around their sporting events. -- Margy

Saturday, November 29, 2014

USC's Mascot Traveler


Wayne and I have been on a University of Southern California sports vacation. Wayne is an alumnus and huge fan.

Today, we went to the USC vs. Notre Dame football game at the USC home field in the Coliseum, the  historic stadium that dates back to the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.  It was a warm, sunny day, a nice change from the chilly high of freezing in Powell River.

If I had to pick my favourite college mascot, it would be Traveler, the white horse carrying a Trojan warrior at the USC home football games. First of all, I'm a horse nut. Second of all, Traveler gallops around the stadium each time the team makes a touchdown.

Today Traveler was very busy with 7 big USC touchdowns versus the two that Notre Dame made.

On the USC campus, you will find a bronze statue of Traveler that was donated by outgoing president Steven B. Sample in 2010.


According to Traveler's own website, he first pranced onto the field at USC football games in 1961. That was Traveler I. He was discovered in the 1961 Rose Parade. Traveler wasn't the first horse to perform at USC football games, but he is the most famous. 

Over the years there have been seven Travelers. They have been a combination of Tennessee Walkers, Arabians, mixtures of both, and now an Andalusian. But they all have been white. You can also find Traveler in the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, ridden by his Trojan warrior, Tommy Trojan. 



It's quite a sight to see Traveler gallop around the field at the Coliseum as the USC Band plays "Conquest" when the team makes a touchdown. Here's a sample by equusvideo on YouTube. -- Margy

Saturday, November 15, 2014

NOMA LED Twinkling Spheres


Last Christmas our good friend Jeanne gave us a set of Valerie Parr Hill Glass Spheres. When I wrote about them on my Powell River Books Blog, they weren't available in Canada.

But this week Canadian Tire came out with their Christmas Catalog and I found an ad for NOMA LED Twinkling Spheres. I went to the store to check them out. They look exactly like the Valerie Parr Hill ones.   YEA! Now we have a local option to get these great decorative items.

The NOMA spheres cost $49.99 CAD and come in small, medium, and large. They can be hung or have a flat bottom for table display.

The NOMA spheres come in silver or gold. A timer controls a 6-hour on, 18-hour off cycle. They are indoor/outdoor rated, and use three C-cell batteries that last over two months.

These are great sitting on a patio table (like Jeanne uses them), or hanging in the living room (like we do). We both use ours year-round, and at the cabin, they make a nice warm glow in the evening without using any of our limited solar-powered electric supply.

Here's what ours look like in action.



If you enjoy glowing lights at night, give either the Valerie Parr Hill or NOMA version a try. -- Margy

Friday, November 7, 2014

Easy Chili Rellano Casserole


In September, I shared a recipe on the Powell River Books blog for Easy Zucchini Casserole.  I discovered the original  over at Linda's Crafty Gardener Blog.

As I was eating the tasty dish, I thought the concept would work to make an Easy Chili Rellano Casserole. Here's what I came up with.



Easy Chili Rellano Casserole

1 can whole green chilies
Mozzarella cheese cut into sticks
1/2 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
1/3 sweet onion diced
3 eggs well beaten
1 package refrigerator crescent rolls
1/2 cup grated Colby cheese
Saute onion. Set aside to cool.

Cut Mozzarella cheese into thin sticks.

Grate the two cheeses. I used Mozzarella inside the casserole for that gooey consistency, and Colby for the topping for a toasty flavour. You can use any kind you like.  Set aside.

Open the can of whole green chilies. There are four in a can, a perfect size for this casserole. Carefully stuff each with the Mozzarella cheese sticks, trying not to split them open.

Press half of the crescent rolls in the bottom of a lightly greased 9X12 inch baking dish.

Beat three eggs until frothy.

Spoon half of the beaten eggs over the crescent roll bottom crust. Sprinkle half of the grated Mozzarella cheese over the eggs.

Lay the four stuffed chilies on top and sprinkle the top with the sauteed onions and remaining Mozzarella cheese. Then pour the remaining beaten eggs over the top.

Cut the remaining crescent rolls to make four large triangles to cover the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until the top is lightly brown. Sprinkle with the grated Colby cheese and return to the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until it's melted and slightly browned.


Cut and serve warm. This made two large servings for our dinner plus two extras for later in the week. I added a taco salad on the side and it made a hearty fall meal.

Thanks Linda for the inspiration. I find so many great ideas at your Crafty Gardener Blog. -- Margy

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Historic Rosalia Railroad Bridge


This weekend Wayne and I took Highway 195 from Spokane to Pullman for the Washington State University vs. University of California football game.  Wayne did the driving. That gave me lots of time to watch the scenery and take pictures.

The two lane road follows undulating hills of grain dotted with beautiful barns. Another interesting sight along the way was an old, concrete arched bridge. It took some searching, but using Google maps in the satellite view I was able to locate it just of Highway 195 near Rosalia, Washington.



The Rosalia Railroad Bridge was built in 1915 by the by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. Where freight and passenger service once ran, now the John Wayne Pioneer Trail exists. When the railroad went bankrupt in 1980, the right-of-way was obtained by the State of Washington. From the Washington/Idaho border to near Seattle, the old rail bed provides a dedicated route for non-motorized use.


The concrete bridge seems out of place in these hills better known for wheat production. But in its day, it provided an important link for the busy route from back east to the west coast. The arches are a classic design, helping the bridge get recognition in the National Register of Historic Places.


The bridge has two spans. The shorter 114 foot section is over Northern Pacific tracks. The longer 502 foot span crosses Pine Creek and the Old State Highway. Want a unique experience? Check out the John Wayne Pioneer Wagons and Riders Association. They have an annual Cross State Ride along this unique trail. No horse or wagon? Hikers and bike riders are also welcome. Or watch the Rosalia Battle Days parade to see riders and wagons pass through town. -- Margy

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Yarn Embroidery on Burlap


I enjoy doing a wide variety of hand crafts. Embroidery is one of them. I had an old stool that I wanted to fix up for our part-time condo living room. Here's what I did.

After the wood was stripped, sanded, stained and finished with urethane, I started on the seat cover. I chose burlap for the backing because it's easy to count the threads to keep a pattern uniform. One disadvantage of burlap is that it wears through fairly quickly. If your stool is going to get lots of use, a firmer material would be better.

I cut a piece of burlap large enough to cover my stool's top with enough extra to turn under during the upholstery process and a little extra in case the loosely woven material unraveled. You can always trim it to size later.

I drew my border design on the burlap lightly with pencil. Working from the outside in, I first created the frame for my picture. I then drew my central picture on newspaper and transferred it to the burlap, again using light pencil marks. I chose my float cabin and garden for my design.

If you are looking for a good resource on embroidery, go to Sharon b's Dictionary of Stitches for Hand Embroidery and Needlework. It's has both photographs and descriptions of numerous stitches.


Here's the pattern I used for my border. You can use it and then customize the central picture to match your life and interests, or just keep working in geometric shapes. Don't have a stool? The same method can be used for pillow covers.

Fortunately, the stool's padded plywood seat was still in useable condition. When the cover was done, I used upholstery tacks to secure it to the plywood bottom.

So, if you are looking for a simple way to create a unique focal point in your home, try yarn embroidery on burlap.


Head on over to A Peak into My Paradise for the Happiness is Homemade Link Party to see more recipes, crafts and DIY projects. -- Margy

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Old Edison in Edison, WA


From Bellingham, take Chuckanut Drive to Edison for a scenic excursion. When you get there, stop at The Old Edison. This historic restaurant was established in 1934 and has provided good food and drink to locals and travelers alike.

The Edison has two things I really love, beer and oysters. The restaurant has 15 beers on tap, now that's a little bit of heaven. You can get oysters as an appetizer or a meal. Of course, there are steaks, burgers, salads and other good stuff -- but the oysters are for me. Prices are very reasonable and the oldtime casual atmosphere makes it comfortable. Want to eat outdoors on a sunny day or warm evening, there's a huge grass area with tables out back.

Like entertainment? There's a pool table and two huge shuffleboards. They have live music every weekend. Lunch is served daily from 11:30 a.m. Closing is at 11:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, later on Fridays and Saturdays.

Edison may be a little off the main road, but it is well worth the trip. If you are heading north or south on I-5 take the Bow-Hill exit and head west (click here for directions). You can't miss it. -- Margy

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mommy's Magic Meatloaf


Here's another recipe from Mom's favourites file. She was an elementary school teacher and put in long hours both at school and at home preparing for class.

Mom would cook on weekends and freeze meals so that weekday dinners would be healthy but simple. One of her classic dishes I call Mommy's Magic Meatloaf. Here's Mom making a batch when she lived in Bellingham to be near me.

Mommy's Magic Meatloaf
• 1 pound ground beef
• 1/2 cup milk
• 1 egg
• 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
• 1 small onion, finely chopped
• 1 cup crumbled bread
• 1/2 cup ketchup

Leave several slices of bread out to get dry. Crumble them into small pieces in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Finely chop a small onion and mix with the bread. Add salt, pepper and poultry seasoning and mix well. Beat one egg with 1/2 cup milk. Pour over the bread to moisten.

Add the hamburger to the bowl and mix well. This is the "magic" part. It's the loving touch of Mom's hands that makes it taste so good. Now my hands have to take on that important role.


Place the meatloaf mixture in a baking dish and form it into a loaf. Leave a small space between the side of the meatloaf and the edge of the dish for juices to collect during cooking.

Cover with a liberal amount of ketchup and bake at 350 degrees for about one hour. Let the meatloaf cool for about five minutes before cutting. Serve with mashed potatoes and peas and for a comfort meal just like mommy used to make.

What are some of the foods your Mom made that seemed like magic? -- Margy

Friday, October 17, 2014

Siletz Bay Airport, Gleneden Beach OR


Wayne and I fly our Piper Arrow 997 along the West Coast several times a year. In summer, the cooler weather reduces turbulence. When the Oregon coast isn't covered in fog, our favourite stop is the Siletz Bay Airport (S45 ) at Gleneden Beach, Oregon.

Even when we camp at the airport, we love to eat out. There are two excellent restaurants within walking distance.

One is at the Salishan resort. Our favorite, however, is the Side Door Café at Eden Hall. Take the airport access road and cross Highway 101 (carefully). You will find a partially hidden trail with steps leading to Gleneden Beach Loop Road. Turn left (south) and the restaurant is on the other side of the road. They are closed on Tuesdays and you may want to call before flying there for dinner during the winter months.


There are many interesting things within walking distance of the airport. You can take the Gleneden Beach Loop and walk past beautiful beachfront homes. Just north of the Salishan Resort is Siletz Bay. It's a bird-watcher’s paradise. For easy walking access to the beach, take Highway 101 south to Wesler Street and head west to the Gleneden Beach State Recreation Site.

If you fly or drive and prefer a hotel, the Salishan Spa and Golf Resort has excellent accommodations. The golf course and location make it a good travel destination any time of year. For fly-in guests, it's just a short walk north along Highway 101.

Whether you are looking for dinner or an overnight destination, try Siletz Bay State Airport at Gleneden Beach.

http://www.amazon.com/Flying-Pacific-Northwest-Wayne-Lutz-ebook/dp/B00ET5OVL6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413571751&sr=8-1&keywords=flying+the+pacific+northwestYou can read more about our flying adventures at Siletz Bay and Gleneden Beach in two of Wayne's books. Up the Airway includes stories about flying along the West Coast and throughout Canada. Flying the Pacific Northwest features flying destinations in Oregon and Washing. Both books are written for pilots and non-pilots alike.  For more information go to www.PowellRiverBooks.com.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Butternut Squash with Arugula in Browned Butter


When we travel to Oregon State University in Corvallis, we like to stay across the street at the Hilton Garden Inn. For dinner one night, we had a very tasty vegetable side dish with squash and arugula. I found a similar recipe online at Simply Recipes but added a few items to make it more like what I had in Corvallis.

Butternut Squash with Arugula in Browned Butter
1 onion
5 cloves garlic
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 butternut squash
1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
2 cups arugula
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
salt and pepper to taste
Go to the Simply Recipes site for excellent directions with pictures on how to brown butter.

Heat a large skillet on medium then add two tablespoons of butter. Whisk frequently as the milk solids in the butter turn to a light brown and get a nutty aroma. Do not burn! Remove from heat and add julienne strips of onion. Return to medium heat and cook until lightly caramelized. Remove the onions from the skillet leaving any residual butter to slowly cook the sliced garlic.

From here you can continue the cooking process or hold the onions and garlic until later like I did to make the final assembly for dinner easier. Remove the seeds, peel and dice the butternut squash into 1/2 inch pieces. Put the three remaining tablespoons of butter in a clean skillet to brown. Remove from heat and add thyme.

Return to medium heat and add the diced squash. Toss to coat with butter and thyme then spread out in a single layer. Cook without stirring until browned on one side. Stir and spread out again to brown on another side.

Return onions and garlic to the pan, cover and cook on low for 10 to 20 minutes or until the squash is tender. Just before serving, add arugula and hazelnuts and season to taste with Worcester sauce, salt and pepper. Cook just long enough to wilt the arugula.

Serve and enjoy. It wasn't as saucy as the restaurant version, but was really tasty. -- Margy

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mom's Special Lime Jello Salad


For the last two and a half years of her life, I lived with Mom in Bellingham. That way she was able to stay in her own home, which was wonderful for her and me.

I did most of the cooking, but Mom helped with some of her favourite recipes. It gave her a chance to stay active, in her normal routine, and feel more independent.

Mom's been gone over a year now, but every time I fix her favourite foods I remember all the wonderful things she did for me. That makes them real comfort foods.

Mom liked to make a simple Lime Jello Salad that kept well in the refrigerator, and was a refreshing addition to her lunches and dinners. I especially liked it because it was quick and easy to prepare and serve.

Mom's Special Lime Jello Salad
1 small package of lime jello
1 cup hot water
1/2 of a 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple
1 large red apple
15-20 red seedless grapes
2 large stalks celery
Dissolve jello in hot water in an 8X13 glass baking dish. Stir in the half can of crushed pineapple (freeze the rest for another batch).

Let the jello cool while you prepare the other ingredients. Cut the grapes in half. Give the celery a fine chop.

When the jello is cool, add the grapes and celery.

Cut the apples into small pieces immediately before putting them in the jello and make sure they are coated with the mixture. This will prevent discolouration and help the salad last longer.

Cover with plastic wrap. Pat it down to touch the surface of the jello. This will also help it to keep longer in the refrigerator, usually up to a week.


If you are looking for a tasty salad to take to a holiday potluck, this one easily fits the bill. For a quick and easy side salad at supper, just shred some lettuce, place the jello on top, add a dollop of mayonnaise and shake a little paprika over the top. Yum!

Do you have any favourite jello recipes? I'd love to hear about them.



Hop on over to the Homestead Blog Hop at Idlewild Alaska and see some great ideas for homestead and simple living.

http://nancyonthehomefront.com/Want more ideas? Try Nancy's Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop. -- Margy