Sunday, November 29, 2009

Jon writes...
Three pictures that I have been forgetting to send...
This one is the bunnie under the dwarf lilac at 4425
who stayed and watch me rake the yard.

Also, two views of the eagle that has been roosting on a light pole at L. Harriet for the past 2.5 weeks to the delight of people passing under it...Until it poops.

JD out.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

kitchen chairs

Dear Mary and Jeni,
Dear Mary and Jeni,
Well, to tell the truth, so far it is only one chair. But the fabric is almost finished for the other two. Now I have to look around for a 4th chair to recover and paint. It doesn't have to match, but I would like it to be close in size. These are wonderful 'lady' sized chairs. Not too big and my feet reach the ground!
I have been having fun doing this project. It started from a picture in Fons and Porter's Quilting Magazine this summer. First I did the little footstool and now I have these chairs that I found free out on the curb in Mayville.
They were sort of a maple color and the seat was glued down with crud under the sides of the upholstery and they smelled of smoke. However that is all in the past and now they are just as cute as the dickens.
I hope I get them finished before I have to return to Minneapolis next week.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Giblet Gravy by Mom

I have been online recently and seen a lot of posts about gravy. Evidently Thanksgiving makes a lot of people nervous about that particular part of cooking a Thanksgiving meal. Our mother has made Giblet Gravy for years. She got her recipe from our paternal grandmother who never measured anything. I had to keep an alert eye on Mom to get this recipe down correctly. I have made it for 5 years now and it works every time so I guess we have it right.
The best part about this recipe is you make a gravy 'starter' a day or two before and then all you have to do is stir it into the hot drippings from the turkey and heat it up. Mom does it right in the roaster which she puts over two of the gas burners of the stove so she doesn't have to pour the drippings into another container.

It makes a medium dark thick gravy with many bits of the giblets and the neck meat in it. When you also grind up the cooked veggies it has some color too. This is not a gravy for someone who wants a pale thin gravy. This is a robust gravy.


I spent the afternoon (12/24/04) cooking and thought I would write down Mom’s method of making giblet gravy. She starts two days before serving, but the day before will do. Tools are a small stock pot and an old fashioned food grinder.


Turkey giblets and neck

One carrot, in pieces

One celery stalk in pieces

One small (2-3inch) onion quartered

2 cloves garlic, smashed or not, your choice

2 teaspoons each pepper and kosher salt

Water to cover


First Mom removes the giblets and the neck and puts them in a pot with water to cover. To this pot she adds one carrot in about 4 pieces, one stalk of celery also cut into pieces and one small onion, again in pieces. The onion was the size of about ¼ of a softball. She puts a couple of teaspoons each of salt and pepper and the garlic into this stock. Then she puts it on the stove to simmer until it is easy to get the meat off the neck. This will take at least one hour and probably more. I like to simmer it at least two hours. Add water as needed as it cooks out.

Eventually she thought it was cooked enough and decided it was time to grind up the giblets. (She used to simmer it for hours when we were younger and now she doesn't. I think it would be better to do it longer. The meat should be very tender.)

After the giblets and broth have cooled she made Dad get out the old-fashioned grinder and clamp it to the kitchen table. Then she told me to cut the tendons and gristle off of what I think was the kidneys. (There were two) After that she told me to pull all the meat I could off the neck. (This is why you cook it longer.) We threw the remainder of the neck away and stuffed the meat in the grinder with all the giblets and squished it all out into a bowl. We ground up all the veggies too.

Once that was ground up she mixed up some flour and water. Probably about 1-½ to 2 cups worth. It should be about the texture of Elmer's glue. Then she started heating up the broth from the giblets with the ground up stuff added to it. She tasted it at this point but didn’t add any more seasoning.

When it was boiling she added the flour/water mix, slowly whisking it in as she went along. She added it in about 3 batches and said she wanted it “really thick”. When we had added all the flour/water mix she cooked it about 5 more minutes and we left it on the stove to cool. It was very thick when it was hot. It was solid and pale tan when cool. She said you could add seasoning at this point but if you tasted it now it would taste really floury so she didn’t add anything at this point. When it had cooled we put it out on the porch, covered, until the day we cook the turkey. (We live in Minnesota and the enclosed porch is an extra refrigerator in the winter)

On the day you cook the turkey you will finish the gravy.

Once we have the turkey out of the roaster, we put the roaster with its drippings on the stove and scrape any crusty bits into the juices. When it is heated and near to boiling then we add the thickened giblet concoction in large spoonfuls to make the actual gravy. I like to use a wisk when I am slowly mixing the drippings and the 'starter' together. Because you have already cooked the flour into the giblet blend you don't really have to worry much about getting lumps in the gravy.

That is when Mom adjusts the seasoning to taste. We seldom need to add any more. The veggies and the giblets add a lot of texture and taste. It makes somewhere between 1 and 2 quarts depending on how much stock you end up with and how much drippings you have. We always have plenty for leftovers.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Indoors, Outdoors and Quilting at Faye's

Hi Mary and Jeni,
This is what is left on my ancient crabapple tree. Jim's parents planted it in the late 1940's. It has had many branches fall off or die but it still has the apples each year. I am waiting for the Cedar Waxwings to come and clean it off.
Speaking of clean, this is my new, chair and a half sleep sofa. The cats love it. It is a good thing I took pictures as soon as it and the 'storage ottoman' were in place. The room is just a junk pile right now. I have also added three painted wooden kitchen chairs that I am in the process of making new quilted seats for. (no pictures of those yet)
Alice and Abbie above, and Abbie below.
It was not hard to find them on it for pictures. Here is Alice queening it up for the camera.
Then I spent last weekend at Faye's with my cohorts in crime. We just love being given the key to the store and being able to play all weekend. This is the quilt top that I finished on Saturday.
It is a queen sized (84 x 108) and is intented to be my summer quilt. I am putting a lightweight cotton backing on it instead of the flannel I put on my black and white quilt that is the same pattern.
Yes that is me being proud.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Quilt Camp and More Leaves

Hi Mary and Jeni,
I was at quilt camp Thursday through Sunday this week. We had a great time. It was put on by Faye's Henhouse and hosted at the Cooperstown Bible Camp. The ride out was sort of scary as it had rained for over 24 hours and the gravel roads to the camp were, what we North Dakotan's call, 'greasy'. That means it is sort of soapy in texture and it is really easy to slide off into the ditch.
This is the quilt top I made this weekend. It is stitched into rows, but the rows are not stitched together yet. Luckily the Bible Camp has these convenient valances for you to pin your quilting up onto.

Another thing the Bible Camp has in abundance are oak leaves.
Here is a closeup of the pile I was standing in.
They also have lovely hiking trails. I went out and walked for 1.86 miles with my friends Deb and Karen. You are probably surprised that I walked that far. So am I. However, now that I am off of the cholestorol drug Lipitor, my muscles have stopped aching all the time. Even much of my foot soreness was part of the Lipitor problem. I have been off of Lipitor for about 3 months now and I feel as if I went back in time to when I was 5o. Heck, maybe 40. So we walked.
Above, Deb and Karen are waiting patiently for me to take a picture.
Below is a shrub, about 7 to 8 feet high. With these red berries. Anyone have a guess as to what it is? I certainly don't know. We saw many of these on our walk.
We crossed over the 'mighty' Sheyenne River on a floating bridge near camp and then started to walk back.
And walk back. Notice the lovely Oak Tree in the left foreground.
And walk back some more.
When we dropped into the woods for a while we saw this beautiful moss.

Eventually I tired of the woods and it's uneven footing and followed a deer track up onto the road. We saw this huge fir/pine/spruce tree and none of us knew what kind of tree it is. We hope someone will tell us.
Naturalists we are not.
However you might note that Karen is another leaf collector! Well, maybe you can't tell but she is holding up a handful of oak leaves.
How did they get that far ahead of me....?
Well it might be because I kept stopping to photograph leaves in the mud.
We are easily amused here in North Dakota
I think that is the last one.
Soon after all the leaves in mud we made it back to our sweatshop in the main lodge at the camp. It is a wonderful room and we all sewed merrily into the night. Some of us (not me) stayed up until 1 a.m.
I went upstairs early and read in bed for a while. (The first Jesse Stone novel by Robert B Parker) Then, since last night was the time change, I actually saw the sunrise this morning.
Here is a closeup of my quilt pretending to be a stained glass window. It is all florals from my 'watercolor' stash. It will be queen size (86 x 108) when I finish it.