Sunday, November 23, 2014

Butternut Pumpkin Risotto

What do you do with fall veggies?  My nieces grew pumpkins this year - eatin' pumpkins - and they gave us two.  I also had a great butternut squash from the farmer's market.  I cut both up and roasted them in a little olive oil, salt and pepper at 350 for about an hour - about.  I stirred every so often (how's that for vague instruction?)

After the squash was good and soft, I put about a cup in the food processor to mash it up so that I could add it to the risotto.

Then I used a recipe adapted from Cooking Light (link to the specific recipe is not available as I write this - will try to find it and add it later).

4 cups chicken stock/broth
1 cup white wine
1 cup risotto (arborio rice)
1 cup mashed squash (see comments above)
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 cup cheese (I used a combo of parmesan and cheddar because it's what I had and needed to use)

Bring chicken stock to a boil on the stove.  In a skillet, add olive oil, onion and garlic and cook until both soften.  Then add the arborio rice and cook for 1 minute.  Add the white wine and stir until absorbed (not too long).  Then add chicken stock one cup at a time until each cup is absorbed, stirring nearly constantly.  Keep in mind that everyone always says you need to stir risotto constantly.  I do, kinda.  Sometimes I refill my wine glass; sometimes I run to the loo.  The risotto has never failed me.  Don't go watch TV or something.

When the chicken stock has been absorbed, add the mashed squash (butternut squash and pumpkin in this case).  Then add the cheese and salt and pepper (should you want salt and pepper - with the cheese, I don't add as much salt - but I love pepper).

Then serve.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Garden Recipes

What do you do when you have a bumper crop of everything in your garden?  You make stuff!  We had a crap load of wonderful herbs and cabbage, carrots, peppers, carrots, you name it.

Caprese salad done my way.

Coleslaw my way.

Tabouli to take advantage of mint and parsley.

Caprese Salad done my way:
Pick fresh tomatoes from the garden.  In my case I used grape tomatoes and whatever else happened to be there.  If grape tomatoes, cut in half.  If others, cut small enough to be half a grape tomato.
Cut up fresh mozzarella small enough like the tomatoes.
Cut up fresh basil by rolling the leaves and slicing.
Add a bit of olive oil
Add balsamic vinegar

I don't measure any of the above.  I add enough olive oil and vinegar to touch each of the pieces and to taste.  Also add a little salt and pepper to taste.  Stir up and serve.

Coleslaw my way:
This recipe was adapted from Robert Irvine and Bobby Flay of Food Network.  Far be it for me to think I can improve on two wonderful chefs, but I did try.  This recipe is delicious and takes advantage of what you have growing in the garden.
1 head green cabbage
1 head red cabbage
2-4 cups carrots
2-4 cups turnip
1 onion
1 c. mayonaise
1/4 cup champagne or other white wine-type vinegar
1 tsp celery seed
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp try mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Blend all ingredients from mayo down into the dressing.  Chop all veggies into slaw (some like it very finely chopped, others more like ribbons, if you will).

This recipe was adapted from Food Network.  Adapted is the wrong word.  It was damn near taken completely from Food Network because it's so good.
1 cup bulgar wheat cooked according to package direction (likely with 1 cup water)
1 cup parsley (I use a combination of flat leaf and Italian parsley)
1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
1 small onion diced
3 tomatoes diced
2 cucumbers diced
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
The recipe suggests that you seed the cucumber.  I never do.  Everyone in the pool, I say!
Cook bulgar according to package directions.  When finished, add all ingredients through cucumbers.
Mix the olive oil and lemon juice.  Add to veggie and bulgar mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Let sit in the refrigerator several hours.  I usually make mine the day before and let it get good and tasty overnight.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Amber Waves of Grain

Jamie and I found ourselves driving all over creation last summer.  What was funny is that we seemed to notice all the wheat/grain fields as we were driving.  They had to have been there for years, but last year, we noticed them everywhere and fell in love with the color.  We decided that we had to paint one of the rooms in our new house the color of those fields.

Jamie asked me how we might find it and I told him I could guarantee that one or more of the paint companies would have "amber waves of grain" or some derivation thereof.  Sure enough, Valspar has a color named "Amber Waves."  It became the color we put in our hallway.

I also told Jamie that we had to paint something with the two accent colors we often found with the fields - one a vivid pink/purple and another a palish blue.  We haven't done that yet, but it's coming.

I have added some before pictures of the hallway below:

The ceiling has been replaced as has the light fixture.  The "wall" at the end of the hall has been removed and a French door has been added.  The space is much more open now.

The paneling is visible in the hallway in a better way than in the living room.  It is the same.  Also, the carpet is the same as in the living room.  It has been removed.  The hallway may be seen in the after photos of the living room in a previous post.  I will also take more after photos after we finish some additional handiwork.

Ooops. Where are the before shots?

A very astute friend of mine (she likes to be anonymous so let me disguise her name - let's call her Kathy) noticed that I hadn't posted before pictures for our living room.  I think that I was so excited to have a "new" living room that I didn't care about the before.  I am posting before pictures below.  The post from July 6, 2014 shows the after (the post just before this one).
Living room as we were moving in.  Our old furniture is pictured.

Living room before.
Please notice the paneling on the walls that has been removed and had been painted.  Also notice the carpet.  We ripped up all of the carpet in the entire house and found gorgeous hardwood.  We also painted the ceiling, trim and bookshelves.

The bookshelves contain my National Geographic Magazine collection.  Window treatments have also been replaced.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

The Living Room

We finished the living room....sort of.  We do need to fix the hole in our wall and also add trim to the top and bottom of the walls.  We are having it custom made so that it is keeping with the style of the house.

I was incredibly nervous to buy leather furniture with dogs.  Everyone I'd talked to, though, said that leather furniture is a God-send with pets.  They were right!  Not one scratch (knock on wood) and the fur and spit just wipes right off.  Why didn't we do this sooner?  Oh yeah, it's expensive as hell.  But it lasts a lifetime - or it better.

We opted for pieces that would be more traditional looking without being trendy so that we were sure we would still like it years from now when we are still wiping spit and hair off of them.

Look at how wonderful the floors look.  This was after removing carpet and not doing a damn thing to them but sweeping and mopping.  Notice the orangish throw on the back of the sofa.  One of the best, most comfortable finds at a local antique shop.  You may also see the hallway color on the right.

View from the inside of the living room looking out into the hallway.  We painted the trim in the living room but have not yet gotten to the trim in the hallway.  That will happen soon enough!  Staircase is fabulous.  From this photo you can see the hallway, and to the left, the door that leads to the dining room (notice that wonderful Coffee Rose paint color on the walls).

View into the living room from the hallway.  Notice the shelves at the top left.  My NatGeo collection is houses there!

The floors:
We removed the carpet in the entire house.  Under most of the carpet we found stunning hardwood floors that required no maintenance or repair.  This is an example of that.  


Main wall color: Hi-Ho Silver (Olympic) 
Back of Shelves color: Blue Fjord (Olympic)
Hallway walls: Amber Waves (Valspar) 
Trim: Snowbank (Olympic)

Other pieces:
Leather Furniture:  Calvin's Leather Gallery, East Amherst, NY
Furniture:  Company no longer in business so it doesn't matter (sorry)

Curb Appeal from any Angle

How does the house look now?  We were so excited to see what would grow this spring and summer season since this is the first year in our house.  We were excited to be able to get rid of some plants and add some others, but not too many.  We want to see what we've got.

We weeded the heck out of the front garden and used black mulch.  That's our favorite and it contrasts nicely with the red barn to the left and the grey house.

Our side porch with awesome hanging baskets from Pleasant Valley Greenhouse.  We redid the plants around the lightpost.

Lowes had a sale on heather plants.  We don't even really know what they are, but they look nice - the little purple/pink bushes in the front.

I like to walk in the backyard which is up a pretty steep hill.  This is the view from the top of that hill looking down at our barns.
I absolutely love rural living.  I feel as if we have certainly found our home.  I love waking up in the morning and enjoying the backyard or the side porch.  I also enjoy coming home from work and going into the garden, or for a nice walk up the hill.  Idyllic, to be sure.

A goober's life....Nat Geo forever

We finally have shelves to house my collection of National Geographic Magazines (NatGeo, for those in the know).  We painted our living room a light blue, the trim Snow Bank, and the back of the shelves a darker blue.  The NatGeos really do pop against the shelves and stand out in the room.

I have been a fan of Nat Geo since I was a kid.  I remember reading them monthly as a new issue arrived.  I also have a signed copy - Eugenie Clark, renowned shark expert, spoke at the Buffalo Museum of Science at the former Hayes Lecture Series.  My father and I were regulars.  I asked her to autograph a then recent article titled "Sharks, Magnificent and Misunderstood."  What kid does that?  I still have it.

In fact, my father was probably tickled that I was a goober.  He had to be thinking, she won't be a teen pregnancy statistic because she won't even kiss a boy until she's 30.

I have most issues from 1950 to the present and many from 1920-1950.  A pretty nice collection and they look wonderful in the living room.  They had been at my mother's house.  I think she was thrilled to get rid of them.

It may be difficult to see the navy background color, but look how we've arranged the magazines.  I didn't want to just have them loaded one after another as they are on the bottom shelf.  Jamie was worried that was what I was going to do.

I like that they are displayed with other things that mean something to us.


Main wall color: Hi-Ho Silver (Olympic) 
Back of Shelves color: Blue Fjord (Olympic) 
Trim: Snowbank (Olympic)

How does your garden grow?

We moved to Franklinville in September after living through hell to get us there.

Jamie surprised me a few months ago with a newly rototilled spot at the top of our fenced in yard.  "This is the garden," he said to me.

It's huge.

We took great pains to select the appropriate produce to grow.  We ordered seeds from Burpee, Territorial Seed and Stark Bros.  We also bought plants and seeds from our local nursery - Pleasant Valley Greenhouse in Hinsdale, NY.  We are so pleased with our plants.  There were a couple of fruit "trees" that are really just sticks.  We are reluctant to pull them because we were lazy and left others and they've since sprouted at the bottom.  Sticks grow!

We've had a bounty of plants and herbs and now struggle with what to do with them.  For example, radishes.  We have a bazillion radishes.  We ordered one pack of tricolor radish seeds.  We have red, white and purple radishes and each has a bit of a different flavor.  Rather than separate them, though, we try to cut up one of each.

But how many radishes does one need at a time?  How many can you cut up and put on a salad before you want to poke your eyeballs out?  Turns out not many.  So I turned to Cooking Light to find other uses and found two wonderful sides.  The first is a radish slaw that we made with a vinegar base and included yellow peppers and carrots that we served with a wonderful slow cooker bourbon -peach, pulled pork (also from Cooking Light).  Delicious!  The second recipe combined leeks, shallots and radishes.  Saute them in a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and serve as a side.  It went very well with a perfectly grilled New York strip steak.  Yum at our house!

We are also using the lettuce for more than just salads (hello, sandwich), but we are making different salads with different toppings and different dressings just to jazz things ups.

We cordoned off the "salad" section.  We put clothesline around the poles so that the peas have something to cling to.

The garden just getting started.

Tomatoes growing like it's their job!

The herb garden which is adjacent to our back patio is ideal.  There are also salad greens growing here.  This photo was taken in a recent rainstorm.  So nice to sit outside and watch the rain and listen to it hit the metal barn roof.

I take a walk out to the garden each day.  I find it enormously relaxing.  It's also wonderful to see what's new.  These pictures are a few weeks old.  I will have to add some new ones, the progress is that stark.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Better pictures of the Orange Room

I have been struggling with the orange room.  It's our bedroom and it's also kinda dark.  We had quite a bit of sun today and I turned the lights on.  Let's see if these look a tad better.

I just love the combo of orange and purple.  This quilt is from an antique shop.  Just love this room.

We bought some new bed linens to better match the room. I love the combination of orange, purple and green.  The wall hanging on the right is from China.

View from the door looking straight in.  I realize that feng shui dictates that the foot of the bed not aim for the door, but it's all we can do for now.  We will change it when we convert our master bedroom.  This is the guest room/my office.  The picture on the wall is of Assisi, Italy, from Assisi.

A better view of the room without as much blur.  Of course I have a broom hanging on my wall.  You may also see my antique schoolmaster's desk.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

We are in an HGTV Renovation Show!

Jamie and I both love to watch HGTV.  We love Love it or List it, House Hunters, Property Brothers, you name it.  We always giggle when people get upset during a renovation when they uncover something unexpected.  This usually happens in basements, but not always.  Someone will take down a wall and realize there is a plumbing issue or something isn't built to code.

We think it should be expected.  You are doing a renovation - particularly on an old home - and you are going to hit one snag or another that requires time and money.

We hit a snag.

Our living room had this horrible paneling all over the walls.  Originally we were going to paint over the paneling.  Then we discovered that the paneling was textured so if we painted over it we would get the underlying texture.  That wouldn't be a bad thing except the underlying texture is farmhouses, water mills, and fences.  It's quite rustic and in keeping with our surroundings, but we are getting rid of the paneling for a reason.  We don't care for it and it isn't our taste.

So Jamie ripped the paneling down.  Being good renovators, we expected to have to repair some of the underlying plaster.  We did.  What we didn't expect:

Water damage underneath a window.
Jamie said to me, "Come take a look at this wall.  Does it smell musty to you?"  This was before he ripped the plaster and lathe out.  I told him it did smell musty and also felt a tad damp.

We had two choices 1) not worry about it and just paint over it or 2) rip it out to see what the problem is and fix it.

Whenever you are remodeling an old home, option 1 isn't the best option.  Hell, in any home, option 1 isn't an option.  You really do need to figure out what's wrong and fix it.  Jamie did some searching, as you can see.  It seems that the roof overhang outside does not have gutters and the water is falling directly on this window and then getting into the wall.  It should be an easy fix, but it is setting us back a tad.  We are entertaining next Sunday and hoped to have this room finished by then.  Perhaps not, but my colleagues will not mind....I hope.

He will fix the inside.  We need some bleach to take care of the mold.  When the weather breaks a bit, he plans to install gutters on the outside roof to redirect the water to an appropriate place.  Egads.

It's a good thing we do our own work.  And it's a good thing Jamie knows how to fix these things.  I can help with the renovations, but I am afraid of power tools and don't know how to do some things.  I don't screw around with plumbing or electrical.  In fact, I don't let Jamie play with electrical either.  We call in an expert.  Anything that could burn the house down is relegated to someone else.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Dining Room

Dining Room
The next victory is our dining room.  While not 100%, it is close enough to do some comparisons.  We do love renovating our home.  We get to use our own colors and our own style.  We live in an old farmhouse built in 1869.  Why wouldn't we use period pieces or faux period pieces?

Notice the carpet in the dining room.  But also notice the window nook and built in cabinet.  I am looking into the room from the kitchen.

This is a view from the hallway into the dining room.  The light fixture also has to go.

Please take a look at the door to the left and also behind the dresser. 

The walls in this room were not wallpapered nor were they paneled as was the case in every other room.  We removed the carpet, painted the walls, and replaced the light fixture.  We also removed both doors.  The door to the left leads into the hallway.  We removed the door and left the "doorway."  Now it is just an entrance/exit into the hallway.  The door behind the dresser leads to the front porch.

A word about the front porch.  It was the original entrance to the house and was an open porch.  It had been enclosed and broken into a room and two closets, one of which was accessible from the hallway and one accessible from the front porch.  We gutted this room.  Right now this front room is a mess and is loaded with debris.  We hope to redo this room in the spring.

We installed French doors into the front room.  One set may be seen in the after photos below.  The other set is in the hallway and will be shown in a separate post.

Notice the hardwood floors.  Also, notice the French doors at the back.  We haven't painted them yet, but they will be Snowbank as is all of the trim in the house and the built in cabinet to the right.  Also notice the light fixture and furniture.  The furniture we brought from our house in Alden.

This is the "door" to the hallway.  We removed the door and just left the space.  Nice view of the French doors also. If you look closely, you may see the other set of French doors through the open doorway (to the right).

Both sets of French doors are visible (partial view of the doors through the doorway).  The photo on the wall is a piece of art we brought back from Assisi, Italy. It depicts the olive tree fields.  It's a black and white drawing.

Notice the wine cabinet to the right.  It gets used....
View is into the kitchen.  There is a swinging door that Jamie would like to keep.  I would like to get rid of it, but am not going to fall on sword on that one.

This is the window nook.  We have quite a few plants here and Christmas decorations at the moment.  We ordered curtains for it.  They should arrive this week.  You can see our red barn and my Honda Fit through the window.

The built in cabinet, window nook and floors.  We are going to have the trim custom-made so that it mimics what would have been in the house.  Notice the art on the right.  I brought that piece back from Uganda, Africa.  It depicts three women taking care of their homes.

The floors:
We removed the carpet in the entire house.  Under most of the carpet we found stunning hardwood floors that required no maintenance or repair.  This is an example of that.  The kitchen and hallway, however, require some work.

Main wall color:  Coffee Rose (Olympic)
Window Nook color (also the color on the walls of the built in cabinet):  Gooseberry (Olympic)
Trim: Snowbank (Olympic)

Other pieces:
Light fixture:  Shaynor Electric, Orchard Park
Furniture:  Company no longer in business so it doesn't matter (sorry)

I found the cord! Let's get started...

Bedroom One
I found the cord to the camera.  Woo hoo!  The bad news is that the camera is on its last legs, I think.  I've started taking pictures with my cell so those should work out a tad better.

The first room was our bedroom.  Right now this room serves as the master bedroom/my office, but in the future it will be a spare bedroom/my office.  It was the easiest to work with.  The room had carpet and wallpaper.  We removed the carpet and painted over the wallpaper.  Not idea, but it works.

Orange is one of my favorite colors.  It was one of our wedding colors.  I had to have an orange room!  My argument was that this would soon be my room.  Also, a little piece of me thought it might make the master bedroom redo move a bit more quickly if my husband had to sleep in an orange room all the time.

This is the room before we painted and removed the carpet.  We also removed the window treatments and added our own.  Notice the built-in closet.  There is a better picture of it below.

Ignore the stuff still in the room.

Here is the built in closet.  Awesome!

After (Warning, these photos are a tad blurry.  I will find better ones.)
The orange walls are clearly visible. The desk is a 19th century school masters desk.  It is fabulous!  The quilt was purchased at an antique store near Leroy, NY. Not sure if you can see the hardwood floors or not.

We had a color book from Lowes that noted that purple is a great color to complement orange (as are deep greens and reds).  Jamie was skeptical, but I think it works.  Can you see the hardwood floors?

The window treatments are a tad long.  I will hem them.  I just haven't felt like doing so.

There are a couple of other areas in the room I would like to capture. There is a brown chair in the corner that I use to read and relax.  It is so comfortable.  When Jamie watches TV, I escape to this room to read and relax.  So nice.

Wall color:  Orange Ochre (Valspar)
Trim: Snowbank (Olympic)

Other Pieces:
Bedset: No idea, it belonged to Jamie before we got married.
Desk:  Antique store
Butterfly quilt:  Antique store
Window treatments:  Bed Bath and Beyond (I think)