Saturday, January 19, 2019

Bonsai 101: Soils, Top Dressing, and Making Our Own Bamboo Potting Chopsticks

This most recent Bonsai 101 class did NOT have us working on a tree.  GOOD!  Worked on trees have to be babied over the winter and I didn't want any more needing coddling.

This time we learned the what and why of bonsai soil.  We learned why to do a top dressing (moss layer) on our trees and how to make it instead of paying big money to buy.  And we made bamboo potting chopsticks in various sizes.  It was a very interesting day.


Top dressing is one half dried sphagnum moss that has been soaking in water with a touch of Sume ink (for a better color).


After the soaking, it has to be laid out to dry.


The other half is 'pillow moss' (aka driveway moss!).


You have to trim off the 'roots' and dirt...


Then grate it on a 1/4 inch mesh screen.  It then is dried.  When that is finished, it is mixed with the dried sphagnum moss.  It can be stored quite a while.  

It is spread over the top of 70% of the soil.  Just add water and you have moss!  This protects the feeder roots of the tree and in the summer helps with moisture control.


Our teacher Eileen showing how to make the chopsticks.


It starts with splitting off pieces from a large bamboo piece.


Then you use nippers to shape one end in a wedge shape (like a bullet train).  This works better than the round shape of culinary chopsticks.


After you make the basic shape, it is time to refine and smooth with a sander.


Finished (almost- could use some more sanding) chopstick and the piece of bamboo it came from.



Thursday, January 17, 2019

A One Cherry Turnover...

This is the inside a cherry turnover from Publix grocery in Clarksville, TN.

ONE cherry and a smear of filling!




 The seam line was left unsealed in one spot so the filling would ooze out.  


We bought a 2 pack of these and they were exactly the same.






Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Teri's Slow Cooker Chicken Pho


Himself and I decided a fun (and tasty) thing to do this year would be to make a new soup each month.  Because one of our favorite meals out is to have Vietnamese Pho, that is what we decided to be our first soup of the year.

We had done a class at Whole Foods where a local chef made her pho recipe.  Very good but a ton of seasonings I don't regularly use... like fish sauce.  And it was on the stove simmering for a really long time.

So I did a search of various pho recipes that were made in a slow cooker.  One that did not use fish sauce used dark brown sugar to get that umami flavor.  That worked for me!  After that I basically winged it with ingredients.

Here's my version of chicken pho:



Teri’s Slow Cooker Chicken Pho

3 packages (32 oz each) chicken broth
3 T packed dark brown sugar
3 cloves garlic (good sized ones)
5 whole cloves
3 whole star anise
2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 inch long piece of young lemon grass
2 inch stick of cinnamon
½ cup cilantro leaves and stems
1 T whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
½ of a small onion
*2 pounds bone in chicken
**1 package thin dry rice noodles

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Accompaniments
Bean sprouts
Sliced green onion
Fresh cilantro sprigs
Sliced jalapeno
Lime wedges

Sriracha hot sauce and/or hoisin sauce
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In slow cooker, combine first eleven ingredients.  Mix well.  Then add chicken and onion.  (For more flavor depth, lightly sauté onion in a separate pan.  Then add a bit of the broth, stir, and add to slow cooker broth.)

Cover and cook on HIGH for about 3 hours or LOW for about 5 hours... or until chicken is tender.
Remove chicken from slow cooker, set aside to cool.

Strain broth either in a colander lined with cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer.

For quicker eating, I poured the broth into a pot and heated to a boil on the stove top.  Then as per directions, I added the rice noodles and cooked according to package time (about 5 minutes).  HOWEVER, next time I will cook the noodles in separate chicken broth.  The noodles clouded the beautiful chicken stock.

Slice chicken into bite size pieces for soup. 

To serve: First put noodles into bowl, and then add broth.  Add sliced chicken on top.  Then let each person garnish their soup from the accompaniments you have prepared.

*Chicken – I used thighs because it is what I had.  Best would be half white and half dark.

** Amount of rice noodles you cook is purely personal.  However~ only cook enough for one meal.  They don’t do well as leftovers.



Sunday, January 13, 2019

Christmas at Federal Grove, Auburn KY


 One of my clubs returned for Christmas lunch at Federal Grove Restaurant and B&B in Auburn, KY.  This year Himself and I arrived early so I could take photos of the restaurant without disturbing people.

During the Christmas season they serve their well-known "family style" meal all day.  An all-you-can-eat meal served to your table in platters and bowls... if you run out, just ask for more.  Our meal had: fried chicken, country ham, turkey & dressing, green beans, corn pudding, mashed potatoes, cranberry relish, baked apples, and rolls.














So many pretty Christmas plate sets!  My favorite is the evergreen trees.



Head up either of these stairways and you are in the B&B area.  No one was staying the day we were there, so we were invited to explore the rooms.





Very nice spacious rooms!

Any information you'd want about the restaurant or the B&B can be found on their web site:




Thursday, January 10, 2019

Calcified Sink Like New Now


Cleaning testimonial! We have hard water and it is a battle to keep our glass bathroom sink in the hall bathroom calcium free. I haven't been paying attention and noticed recently how BAD it had gotten. In fact, felt a little sick about it as I thought it was ruined.

Then I remembered a tip on a FB group. A woman said she cleaned a badly calcified sink with a lime remover product she got at the Dollar Tree, and it worked where several spendy name brands had not.

So I got a bottle and tried it. $1... what's there to lose?

I poured it all around (it's like unset jello) and it sat for 15 mins. Gave it a quick scrub with an old nail brush. Rinsed.

Oh my goodness! I didn't take 'before' pictures but I did miss a couple little places so you can see it.




An area I missed under the controller. The sink bottom didn't look quite that bad but close enough.


The sink after.


The controller. You can see the place I missed and how good the rest of it is.


Lime-A-Way from the Dollar Tree.  Worth all one hundred pennies!

Keeping that sink calcium-free will be so easy from now on.



Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Monday, January 7, 2019

Review: KRUPS Belgian Waffle Maker

Late 2017 our much beloved and VERY old (like it belonged to my grandmother in her early marriage!) waffle maker finally gave it up.  It was a sad day indeed.

And so the search for a new one started.  I looked and looked and looked.  Either they had terrible ratings, were those 'flip' waffle makers (ugh, let's just feel like we're in a motel), or they were tiny and usually cutesie (I don't need a single heart shaped waffle~ I need breakfast!)  The few I did find that met our needs were almost $200.  Ummm... No.

In June of 2018 another search brought up the KRUPS waffle maker.  It seemed to check all the blocks and was only $40.  Sold!  By the beginning of July we were having waffles.


The machine.  A bit of reality here; it is not a shiny display piece.  It gets used as it is here.


Putting the batter in.  It's very important to have a recipe that you like.  Not all recipes are equal!



Part way through the cooking process.  I like my waffles very light and only have one square.  So Himself sets it on a lower temps and pulls out one square for me.  He then closes the lid and turns the dial up one level to get the browning he wants for his waffles.

(The waffles are stuck [but only lightly] to the lid because Himself didn't get the top rack oiled well enough.  Yes, even with nonstick coating you still have to oil.  By the time his were done, they popped right out.)


The finished waffles.

I waited several months before writing this review because I wanted to see how we really liked the machine and how well it really worked.

We like it and would definitely buy another.