The hummingbirds are back. Something I look forward to each spring. We have one hummingbird that has been here before. We know him because he perches on the bird feeder pole or the garden fence and watches the house. He is our little “guard bird”.
I’m also back to my blogging. I took a blogging break – longer than anticipated – but that is just how life goes sometimes.
Have you ever noticed that after you put an empty canning jar on the shelf, a bug takes up residence in the jar? This time of year, we have a lot of empty canning jars because we have eaten our home canned fruit, but we don’t have any bugs in those empty jars.
After a canning jar is empty, I wash both the jar and lid (not the ring because the ring will rust) in the dishwasher. I then put the lid on the jar upside down and put the ring on the jar. The reason I put the lid on upside down is so the rubber ring doesn’t stick to the rim of the jar. I store my empty jars on my basement shelf.
When canning season rolls around again, my jars are clean and ready to sterilize. I throw the old lids away after the jars are filled with fresh fruit.
I also use my empty, clean, bug-free jars that are sitting on the basement shelf for leftovers. The jars can be put in the freezer or the microwave. I just hand wash the lid, fill the jar with leftovers, and put the lid on the right way with the rubber ring against the rim of the jar. I then label the lid using a permanent marker so I know what is in the jar.
I have a two Metric Wonder Cup adjustable measuring cups. These plunger style measuring cups are well worth the space they take in my kitchen.
The reason I have two is because my one cup Wonder Cup cracked after many years of use. I expressed my dismay to my husband because I use the Wonder Cup so often, so he bought me a two cup Wonder Cup. Both of them get a lot of use.
The plunger style measuring cup is great for measuring messy or sticky foods – honey, shortening, ketchup, oil, etc. All of the food is pushed out of the cup. There is no waste.
The outer cup with the measurements is clear so it is easy to see if you are getting the right amount of your ingredient or if there is a large air pocket in the cup.
The numbers on the cup are easy to read. There are measurements for teaspoons, tablespoons, ounces, cups, pints, ml, and liter.
So I don’t have to think so hard or find a chart with equivalents when I am adjusting a recipe, I can glance at the Wonder Cup and know that half of 3/4 of a cup is 3 ounces, 6 tablespoons, 18 teaspoons, the metric equivalents, or, if I am not being very precise in my cooking, it is a generous 1/3 of a cup.
I can use my newer two cup Wonder Cup for measuring liquids as well as gooey foods. I wash it by hand because I don’t want the heat from the dishwasher to affect how well the cup works and the ability to use it to measure liquids. I also don’t want the dishwasher to fade the measurements written on the cup. Clean up is easy because you don’t have sticky food stuck to the cup.
My cracked Wonder Cup cannot be used for liquids but I use it for more solid foods like peanut butter. Because it is cracked, I have to hold it so it stays on the right measurement. I do put this one in the dishwasher – that is probably why I keep it. The numbers are still legible but they are faded.
If I had to choose between the one cup and two cup Wonder Cup, I would favor the one cup. I rarely need larger than the one cup amount. The one cup size with those messy ingredients is easier for me to handle.
- Easy to read measurements
- Equivalent measurements (cups, tablespoons, teaspoons, etc.) written on the cup
- Can use it to accurately measure liquid or dry or gooey ingredients
- Easily pushes all of the ingredient out of the cup with no mess
- Easy to clean
- I wash mine by hand
The granola makes a quick snack or gives an added crunch to a green salad. I keep a small container in the car so I have something for the “I need to eat now or else” times.
The granola keeps at room temperature for a week or so, but I prefer to keep it in the frig so I don’t have to worry about the oil in the granola tasting rancid. You can also freeze this granola.
I prefer it plain, but you can embellish this recipe with raisins or other tasty morsels that you enjoy in your granola.
Makes 5-7 cups
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups oats (quick or old fashioned)
1 1/2 cups sliced or slivered almonds (6 oz bag)
In a small saucepan, warm:
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
This just needs to be warmed a few minutes – long enough for the oil and honey to mix together well.
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pour honey mixture over oat mixture and gently stir until all the oats are coated.
Spread the granola on an ungreased large cookie sheet (about 12” x 18”).
Bake for about 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
Move pan to a rack to cool.
Add 1 to 2 cups raisins or cranberries to cooled granola, if desired.
Measure the oil first and then use the same measuring cup for the honey. The honey will slide out of the oiled cup.
So I don’t lose track of time when baking the granola, I set two timers. One timer for 45 minutes. The other timer I keep resetting for the 10 minute intervals.
I love this time of year. I understand other chemically sensitive people love this time of year as well.
It is warm enough to go outside and bask in the beauty of the world.
The sky is blue.
The grass has turned green.
The early flowers have bloomed.
The trees are budding and are almost ready to blossom.
The birds are singing.
The wildlife is more active.
As an added bonus:
It is too early for the use of lawn chemicals and pesticides.
No running lawnmowers, weed wackers and blowers.
In other words: The Air is Clean.
If I am going to eat a fresh banana, I want it the perfect ripeness – no brown spots. Unfortunately, that means I buy bananas at the grocery store and within two or three days they have either been eaten or put in the freezer. It would be nice to be able to keep bananas perfect more than two days after you have bought them, especially if you want them for a recipe you are making later in the week.
I recently read this article in the Reader’s Digest 10 Food Storage Guidelines You Didn’t Know. I knew most of the things they mentioned but I decided to see if they were right about the bananas. The article said if you put a ripe banana in the frig, it will keep for a week.
When I read the article, I happened to have a perfect banana sitting on the counter.
- I put the banana in the frig.
- I left it there for 5 days.
- The skin turned an ugly brown.
- I expected the banana to feel mushy, but it was firm like a banana is supposed to be.
- Before eating the banana, I set it out on the counter to warm up to room temperature.
- I was pleasantly surprised – the banana was firm and was what I consider to be the perfect ripeness.
Leaving the bananas in the frig more the 5 days does affect the quality of the banana.
I learned something new. The article mentions some other items to either put in the frig or leave out of the frig. Most of them I knew, but not all. Check it out, you might learn something. http://www.rd.com/slideshows/food-storage-guidelines-you-didnt-know/#slideshow=slide1
I am never going to learn.
There is a reason I write my recipes the way I do. I have a difficult time correctly following a traditionally written recipe. I always add ingredients before I should or I add the wrong amount with a divided ingredient or I leave out a step or an ingredient – you thought I could cook. My husband laughs and tells me I am supposed to read the recipe before I start cooking.
I did it again. I found a recipe in the newspaper that sounded good (I read the recipe once). I read the recipe again to make sure I had all the ingredients (I read the recipe twice). I read the recipe before I started mixing ingredients (three times is supposed to be the charm, right?). Well reading the recipe three times didn’t help – I added a main ingredient before I should have. The problem was the ingredient should have been added after everything else was baked, not before. The recipe turned out okay. It tasted fine but the texture and appearance weren’t quite right. It would have been much better if I had followed the recipe correctly.
Now you know why I write my recipes the way I do. I need to start at the top of a recipe and work my way down.
Am I the only one who has difficulty following recipes?