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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Recueil du Jour

My Valentine's roses continue to be pretty, although it is a considerably shorter bouquet than one week ago. To get the most out of my bouquet, I trim the roses and refresh the water every other day, I re-vased them in a smaller container, and I plucked any browning petals and dry leaves off of the blooms and stems. Just adding fresh water makes the entire bouquet look brighter. I am saving the fallen petals in a baggie in the fridge, with the plan to try making some rose water when my flowers are completely spent.

In the comments on the creative savv facebook page, Sarah Nosworthy gave info on treating drooping roses, saying that "trimming the stems and doing a five minute boiling water blanch will remove air bubbles. Then [plunge] into cold [water]. Works for sunflowers too." When I asked for more detail, she replied, "only the stems and only needs to be a few centimetres or an inch or so." Sarah once worked in a florist's shop. So, the next time around with grocery store rose bouquets, my game plan is to try dunking the stem ends of drooping roses into boiling water for a couple of minutes, then plunge into cold water. And if any of the roses are still drooping, then I'll try the straight pin. Anyway, thank you, Sarah for the professional!

Here's one of this week's desserts, in honor of President Washington, cherry cupcakes. I made a half of a recipe of yellow cake, substituting almond extract for the vanilla, adding chopped candied fruitcake cherries, and baking in red and white cupcake liners. The frosting was donated to the household by my daughter, who grabbed it from the free table at work in December. It was a white, fluffy frosting, to which I added cherry Kool-aid powder and some cherry pie filling. The frosted cupcakes were topped with a spoonful of cherry pie filling. A couple of things about the cherry pie filling. This came from Dollar Tree ($1/can) and the brand is Mother's Maid. We originally tried this brand on Christmas to top cheesecake. We all think this is pretty good for a dollar store pie filling. Just sayin' as some dollar store brands are just so-so. The other thing to tell you about is our encounter with a mouse in the house, prompting the creative use of food that we have on hand.

A Mouse in the House

Sometime, in the past several months, it appears that we had a little guest. I went to get a package of cookies out of the spare pantry (a closet in the hall where I sometimes stash packaged foods), and the package had been torn into. On a shelf beneath this package, there was another package that had not only been chewed, but the plastic packaging bits remained on the shelf. The four of us spent about an hour that evening going through every food item in our house and moved it all to the fridge or freezer. Fortunately, it looks like our “friend” only got to those two items. We have no idea how he got in, or where he went after his little nighttime nosh, but have now set up traps in strategic places in the house. We decided that absolutely every food item not already in hard packaging should be stored in the fridge or freezer. The up side to this is that we also decided not to grocery shop until we actually have room in the fridges or freezers to store anything. Our recent bout with snow conditions helped greatly with this goal, as we were trapped for several days and unable to navigate the ice-packed roads for over a week.

On the food front — we are searching the freezers for lingering leftovers, breakfasting on crock-pot oatmeal, and basically using what we have. Before the mouse discovery and superfluous snow, I had made one quick stop at a grocery store to pick up produce and a couple of other essentials in anticipation of really bad roads for a few days. Otherwise, I haven’t done any major grocery shopping in the month of February. After the snow, I bought some marked down avocados and mushrooms, whole wheat flour for baking bread, frozen blueberries, and a couple of loaves of marked-down bread (50 cents/loaf, too good to pass up). It’s the third week of February and I’ve spent about $90 on groceries for the month. Surprisingly, we’re doing okay with making meals and snacks from what we have on hand. If we had to have a mouse in the house, this is probably a good time for it, as there are few grocery bargains in the early months of the year, and our freezers are somewhat well-stocked from holiday sales. So, the cherry cupcakes were more inspired by needing to use up some of what is on hand than a past president's birthday, but we can claim patriotism, right?

This was our Valentine's Day dessert, a cheesecake that only called for 1 8-ounce bar of cream cheese. When we originally planned for cheesecake, I thought we had a lot of cream cheese still in the freezer. However, I only found 1 bar. The recipe that we found is from this blog -- Watts Cooking, by Aimee

Our Review

The cheesecake was delicious. It was not as dense as those made with New York-style recipes, which often call for as many as 4 bars of cream cheese. Yet we enjoyed this very much. Our only objection was how thin the cheesecake turned out. If we make this recipe again, we’ll use a smaller pan. For this one, we used a 9-inch springform. Otherwise, if you're making cheesecake and only have 1 bar of cream cheese, this recipe is very good.

I made another batch of garlic cheesy bread, using canned biscuits. This time I added chopped salami, lots of mozzarella cheese, and lots of dried oregano and frozen rosemary. It was really delicious and would make a great bread item to go with grocery store fried chicken for springtime picnics. Can you tell that I'm ready for winter to end? I'm planning picnics by the lake already.

One last thought for today, I'm planning a couple of inexpensive Easter crafts, based on items that I've seen in stores. I'm excited to try one of them this next week. I'll let you know how it goes afterward. Have a lovely evening!


  1. Hmmm, I'm not fond of having rodents in my house. Hope yours goes away and stays away!

    Sounds like you have had quite the winter! Our weather has been challenging, but I've been enjoying the extra down time and slower pace. I have had moments, like you, of wanting springtime--I had a craving for hamburgers about a week ago so I broiled them for dinner (and also made a rhubarb dessert with some of my frozen rhubarb!).

    1. Hi Kris,
      good idea to make a warm weather dinner to appease your cravings. Waiting for warmer weather is trying for me.
      Yes, me too on the mouse!

  2. Good luck with you mouse. We have had a couple in this house, but had lots of them in at our other house. As soon as the weather turned cold, they would come inside. However, they didn't eat much in the kitchen, they got stuck between the walls and would die and then rot and STINK. Mice can fit into incredibly small holes and we never figured out how they got in even when we had an exterminator come to help with the problem. BTW, we didn't use his services because he couldn't give us enough information to know that they would work.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      oh my goodness. what an awful thing to contend with, the mouse trapped in the wall and dying/decomposing there. I hope that you eventually discover how they got in and can block their future entrance. I'm surprised that the presence of your cats doesn't deter rodents. I would think the scent of felines would drive them elsewhere. There goes my back-up plan -- get a cat.

    2. I lived in an apartment where I had a similar problem, but instead, with birds. They were able to get into the attic area and from there somehow ended up in my walls .... I could hear them thumping from their wings flapping before their demise .... yeah, a little creepy!

    3. Kris,
      this sounds like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie or the Twilight Zone. Creepy.

  3. This week, we've been resourceful and creative with using ingredients too. In fact, our menu planning is not farther than the next meal. A concoction of leftovers from the last meal and short dated produce and pantry foods. Some very interesting meals were the result. As my husband commented, this is why we can't say or remember what we ate yesterday lol

    The garlic cheese bread looks so delicious. I will suggest this to my husband who is the baker in our home. He has been on a sweet bread baking retreat till he got the process just right, using the breadmaker to mix and knead, and I had the fun part of getting the rolls shaped for baking. Our grandsons love commercial sweetbread, so now we are prepared for their next visit.

    Have a nice day,

    1. Hi YHF,
      Oh yum! The sweet breads sound delicious. What lucky grandsons. Our cold weather, here, has brought out my sweet tooth. For my figure's sake, the weather had better warm up soon!
      I go through periods where planning just one meal at a time works better than planning several days at a time. It does help with using up leftovers and odds and ends. And I find we have fewer lingering foods that spoil with this method of planning meals.

  4. Have you ever given a recipe for your garlic cheesy bread? It looks delicious!

    1. Hi there, yes, it's in this post:
      However, for the bread in the photo I increased the butter to 1/4 cup, garlic to 1/2 teaspoon, and cheese to about 1/2 to 2/3 cup (and used mozzarella). I added some chopped salami, dried oregano, and frozen chopped rosemary. It smelled like pizza when it was baking and was dubbed pizza bread that night. Definitely a winner!

  5. I, too, am so ready for Spring! No - make that desperate! I finally was able to get out after being snowbound for 10 days and made a grocery run for fresh produce. Then I stopped in at Dollar Tree and they had kitchen towels and tablecloths that shouted Spring! I bought two of the towels and a tablecloth for a total of $3.00 - flimsy quality but boy! did it add some cheer. Good enough until I get my own Spring decorations out. PNW snow can't ruin our Spirit!

    1. Hi Shirley,
      I don't know if you saw snow falling this morning but when I saw it falling, here, I let out an audible, "no!" Fortunately, it didn't stick. But had me worried for a moment. I read that this February may go on the records as one of the coldest Febs in the PNW. Not too surprising, as it has felt very cold.
      Oh what a wonderful purchase at Dollar Tree -- a very thrifty way to bring in spring cheer.


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