Monday, September 24, 2012

Super Hero of the Grill

Right now as I am writing this my wonderful husband Frank is outside grilling some chicken and corn for me, at my request. I am bringing lunch to a girlfriend tomorrow for her birthday and the salad recipe calls for grilled marinated chicken tenders and grilled corn on the cob. He's so sweet to do that.

There was a time I wouldn't have asked him to do it. You see he was born and raised in New York City, Spanish Harlem, to be exact, so he didn't really gain the skills needed to grill.....he had to gain street skills to survive gang wars, Mafia bosses and extra large roaches!

We have struggled through most of our marriage with bad grilling. Always with a charcoal fire that didn't stay hot or was too hot....fighting over badly cooked, undercooked, taking an hour to cook, food that was not edible. He tried different ways to build the fire, went through 3 or 4 charcoal starters to no avail. Until we went on vacation this summer and used the NICE, BIG GAS GRILL that was provided for us.

Our wedding anniversary is in July so we decided to buy ourselves a NICE, BIG, GAS GRILL. It turned my husband from a mediocre griller to a SUPER HERO OF THE GRILL. He got into it. He's got his own area in the corner of the yard where he made a rack for all his utensils, has a garbage right there and even a place to rinse the utensils. There's a chair there also for anyone who wants to sit and chat while he works.

I came up with the name Super Hero of the Grill because he loves all the super hero Marvel and DC characters, movies and paraphenalia that goes with it AND he wears his Captain America pants while he grills.

That HAS to have something to do with the fabulous food we've been eating since July.

AnnMarie :)
Try this recipe for the Grilled Chicken, Corn and Avocado is so good I had to include it!
 P.S. This blog post was approved by Frank.....he even laughed while reading it :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Got Zucchini.....Still? Make This Bread!

I had forgotton how fabulous this Zucchini Bread recipe is until I had a lot of zucchini to use up! The orange and coconut in it is what makes it irresistable. It is a very easy recipe also.

I hadn't had a lot of zucchini over the summer and the season for them is pretty much over here in the Northeast. When I saw some really nice ones at a roadside stand I couldn't resist buying 3 of them for 25 cents each. I decided to have a zucchini bread baking marathon. This recipe makes two nice sized loaves, so I set out my two mixing bowls to make two recipes at once.

The Junior League of Rochester, NY put out a cookbook in 1991 called For Goodness Taste. Every recipe in it is fabulous and this one is called.....

 Taster's Choice Zucchini Bread
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
3 eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups shredded, fresh zucchini (1 1/2 lbs.)
1 medium orange, ground with the peel
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup raisins
Mix sugar, oil and eggs. Stir in all other ingredients.

Grease and flour pans (either 2 large or 3 small). Pour dough into pans.

Bake at 325 degrees 40-45 minutes for small pans, 75 minutes for large pans. I baked these about 75 minutes, but checked them at 60 minutes.

So good! Even the raw dough is SO good to lick off the spoon! Enjoy!!
It is Tuesday and I just finished off the zucchini I used for the bread to make a cake, so I had to come back, edit, and include the recipe. It is UNBELIEVABLY good. The ingredient that makes this cake irresistable is the cinnamon. It is from the sister cookbook from the Junior League of Rochester, called Applehood and Mother Pie and is simply called....
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
 It literally just came out of the pan to cool. I usually put a chocolate glaze over it but the recipe does not call for any is that good by itself!


 2 cups sugar
3/4 cup oil
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups coarsely shredded zucchini
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
In a large bowl beat sugar, oil and eggs. Add vanilla and zucchini. Mix dry ingredients together. Add alternately with milk to zucchini mixture. Blend well. Pour into a 10 inch tube or Bundt pan.
Bake at 350 for 50 to 60 minutes. Allow to stand 10 minutes then remove from pan.
These two recipes have been staples for me every year at zucchini time. You should see how messy my cookbook pages are that the recipe is on!!
AnnMarie :)


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Discouragement Dispelled

Discouragement can mess with your mind. Just when you think all is lost and some drastic measures have to be taken, something wonderful happens to brighten your spirit and liven up your creativity.
While trying to come up with new things for my shop The Button Lady last year, I decided to offer custom button frames for weddings, graduations, babies, etc. It was a scary thing not knowing what requests I'd be getting, but I like to be challenged creatively, so I put it out there.
This is one for a bride who wanted symbols of Love and Luck in purple and ivory
 Last May (2011) Tobi, a very nice lady from Iowa, asked me to make her some custom button frames. She wanted a dance themed frame and a graduation frame for her daughter who was to graduate in May 2013. I was given specific colors and things about the dance and the high school and then I was on my own. Wow, I had a lot of time to get them done! But when I have something to accomplish I won’t stop till it is done, so I started right away.  I got that funny, doubtful feeling in my stomach as to whether I could pull it off but I did, and she loved them.

Fast forward a little over a year later and I am really discouraged about The Button Lady shop on Etsy. I have lost interest in making button things. The work had kick started the inevitable, hereditary arthritis in my hands, and aggravated my  bad C5 disk in my neck! My attention has been 99.5 % on NaNa's Things and so I have been thinking of what to do about it all. I was discouraged, my creativity for buttons was dry and my shop was just there on Etsy.
Then Tobi emailed me again.
This time she wanted three custom button frames for her daughters graduation party….still not happening till May 2013. She said she is a Mom that likes to do things ahead of time!

She ordered a candy themed frame to go on the candy bar at the graduation party. Her daughter is going to the University of Iowa and wanted one University of Iowa-ish. On the third one she wanted to showcase the fact that her daughter plays trombone in the jazz band, the concert band and the marching band at her high school. I was given the colors, the themes and carte blanc to do anything I wanted.
At first I was reluctant because I thought my button supply was low and I didn’t know if I could get all the parts together, or if I even wanted to. She assured me there was no hurry (!). So, since she is a return customer, which is a very high compliment, I told her I would do it for her. It was just what I needed to help the discouragement I had been feeling.
As soon as I set my mind to it, the creative juices started flowing. I found buttons and frames in the colors I needed in my supplies and the paper scrapbooking pieces I needed were readily available….except for the trombone. I had the hardest time finding one, and what I thought was one turned out to be a trumpet! Do you know which one is the trombone?

Neither one is!!!
I enlisted my husband to copy pictures off the internet of a trombone and the University of Iowa logos onto this thick magnetic paper (he works for Xerox!) that I could cut and paste onto the frame.

And then they all were finally finished!!

I got the 100% stamp of approval from Tobi and her daughter Dakota.
I'm not sure what the future is for The Button Lady shop ( I will always be "The Button Lady" though!) but the fact that someone likes my work and my creativeness was the boost and encouragement I needed. 
That is one of the reasons I love selling on Etsy. It is a networking community of creative people who encourage each other through Teams by favoriting items, putting them in Treasurys and pinning them. It is all about encouraging, supporting and helping each other.
How can you encourage someone today?
AnnMarie :)


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Little Known "Day"s of the Month

Does anyone really celebrate the little known "Day"s that come around every year? Depending on which calendar you have, there can be as many different ones as there are days in the month....

My Farmer's Almanac Calendar seems to have some unique "Day"s I haven't heard of. In August, I am sorry I missed Colorado Day on the first, National Aviation Day on the 19th and Women's Equality Day on the 26th.

One Day I do know about is National Grandparent's Day. It is celebrated the first Sunday after Labor Day and this year it falls on September 9, 2012. The day was created in 1978 by a federal proclamation, passed by Congress and signed by President Jimmy Carter. The purpose was:

  • To honor grandparents
  • To give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children.
  • To help children become aware of the strength, information and guidance older people can offer.

  • The R & W Berrie Co's made a bunch of these kitschy figurines in the 70's and they were quite popular as a gag sort of gift, as I remember. This one is marked 1970 on the back.

    What a cute gift for your dear Grandpa.....

    These handcarved figures can be Maw and Paw Kettle or Grandma and Grandpa. They are the work of an 80 year old gentleman who rough carved these as samples for the finished product.

    In October on the 16th is Boss's Day. It is not a public holiday but an observance. Since 1962 employees have celebrated the day in the workplace to appreciate their employers. It actually has become a popular celebration. A great reason to have a pizza party and cake and GIFTS! I just happen to have one of those for Boss's Day too!
    Not sure why he is blue and has that grin on his face....I think he is just waiting for you to clock in late. He is also from the 70's from the R & W Berrie collection of kitschy figurines.

    After running around getting gifts and trying to observe or honor or commemorate all the little known Days for all the different people in your life, be sure not to miss the International Day of Peace on October 21st. It is a United Nations General Assembly thing, but I see nothing wrong with each of us having our own Day of Peace...... AnnMarie's Day of Peace.... (insert name here)'s Day of Peace......

    I'll contact the President to have him declare the day a National holiday.

    All in favor, say "I"!

    AnnMarie :)

    P.S. All the figurines above are available in my NaNa's Things shop.