Friday, November 21, 2014

Things are moving along nicely.

My objective is to have every box opened by the time I hit the bed Sunday night.  I just might make it!  And if I don't, some of the things will have to wait.

Today I attacked the living room.  I do believe it was the worst, dusty, full of boxes, all of my stereo equipment just sitting there, and some overflow of things I'm not sure what to do with at this point.

Yesterday I finally picked out my closet system.  I thought it was a little pricey, but my daughter says no, not for that kind of closet.  She thought it sounded very reasonable. So I have rods for dresses, double rods for blouses and skirts, shelves for sweaters and shoes.  The guys spent most of the day on it.  They were very proud of their handiwork, and they should be, as they came up with some great suggestions.  I was able to return one system, and Joe picked up some boards for top shelves - a good place for hats and scarves.  I also got two cubes - 3 x 3.  One is put together and fits perfectly under the closet window, will hold nine pairs of shoes or whatever.  The other will be put together tomorrow to go against a wall in the living room - perfect for CDs and movies.

Now to get some type of shelving for the stereo, receiver, turntable (yup, I still have a stash of 33's) and all of the other sound system components.  My son will be disappointed if it isn't accessible on Thanksgiving Day.  We always play Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians singing Christmas carols after we are done with dessert. 

A few days ago, I despaired of getting it all done, but today it's looking better.  Here are some pics.  Still good, bad and ugly, but even the ugly bits aren't as ugly as they were a few days ago.

Boxes and papers awaiting pickup from the packing company

Cabinet installed on wall above the throne

Tomorrow morning I will start unpacking the wardrobe boxes - ALL FIVE OF THEM!

New closet installation - still empty but not for long.

All this room!  I love it!!!



I call this my Island of Peace - everything in order.  :)

This was solid boxes this morning.  Only two left to unpack.

China cabinet is full.  That is my great grandmother's Limoges china on the second shelf.

Pictures displayed on top of piano.  So nice to see them again!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The good, the bad and the ugly . . .

I'm having trouble dealing with trying to work in the mess.  Still a lot of boxes to unpack and it is stuff that I really don't have a home for.  I am going to have to make a few more trips to Goodwill, and our church bazaar said they will welcome some of it - but not that damned TV!!  I am almost happy when I find something broken, because throwing it in the trash is easier than finding a place to put it.  I definitely downsized!

I have tried to make room for my soap operation, finally found a place last night to lay out my molds - it will work really well - then got together all of the equipment and supplies needed.  Lye has gone missing, but I have enough lye to make three quarters of a batch of soap, so that will be it. More lye ordered, might be here by Friday.

Soap molds ready to fill - GOOD, very good indeed!
 I spent a good bit of time cleaning and clearing.  It helps to have some organization here and there, even if it means carrying stuff to another place where I will have to deal with it later.  I don't have time to put everything in its final home.  Later.

Here are some pictures of the chaos I am living in, as well as some showing the progress I've been making.  My mood is surprisingly good.  My mantra now is, "This too shall pass."

A few weeks ago - fall colors, view of mansion across river - GOOD
My first selfie with big camera - organizing list for Purple Porch baking - GOOD
Can it be?  A clean counter, sparkling canisters - GOOD
This morning's snow - GOOD (and beautiful)


Bread dough ready to be cut and formed into six baguettes - GOOD


Grain mill ready to grind grain for whole wheat bread - GOOD
Soap room counter - at least it's visible, let's call this GOOD


What a mess - BAD, except for my little Ayn Chee

Soap room, still a long way to go - UGLY

One little island of sanity among boxes, tolerable but BAD

Living room, which I am tacking tonight.  UGLY, except for my precious Natasha Marie.





Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Only a crazy cook would do this!

I have not been at Purple Porch for three weeks now.  I thought surely I would only miss one week, maybe two at the most.  I didn't count on a contractor who just simply couldn't meet a deadline.  We had a talk and ended it with "I quit / you're fired" pretty much spoken simultaneously.

I will not go into the details.  Suffice it to say that because I was living there (in the midst of the unfinished mess), I was able to observe the lack of responsiveness and poor quality work.  He did okay until it came to finishing - then not so good!

So I am living in a mess.  I can deal with it, but I couldn't find things, so there was no way I could bake for Purple Porch.  I decided to list products for tonight's delivery to force myself to dig through boxes in spite of the mess.  Yup, I found everything, although I had to use organic demerara sugar in my brownies instead of granulated.  Actually, they turned out pretty well!  Now the timer is nagging at me to get back to my whole wheat bread.  Found everything but the wheat berries - then suddenly remembered that I threw them in the freezer for lack of a better place for them as we were heading out the door.

Only a crazy person would make bread in this mess.  Here are two pictures - I was unloading boxes and given time constraints didn't have time to find a home for everything.  But I am making it work!  I hope my customers enjoy the bread!!



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Good news from the Farmers Market restaurant!

I was a harsh critic of the restaurant food since we had a change in management.  I will not review what I didn't like about it - once said is enough.

In defense of the new management, Michele got thrown in the deep end.  Mistakes were made, customer left, some never to return. But everyone deserves a second chance, and I have been watching the food improve over time.

The other day I ordered the quiche.  Much to my surprise and delight, it was delicious!  The plate was appealing, lined with a big piece of deep fried kale (a little hard to eat but worth the mess it made).  The potato sticks were crisp.  The price was fair.  Now on to the star of the plate.

I used to have a restaurant.  We were famous for our quiche, and I know first hand that it is not always the easiest thing to get right.  This quiche was spot on!  The filling included apples and sausage, and the egg custard was just right, not overcooked, not undercooked.  As Goldie Locks would say, it was JUST right!

I enjoyed every bite of it.  Give the restaurant another chance.  Come on back!  I will be posting other delightful dishes in the future. Keep learning, Michele.  We do appreciate your efforts!!


Farmers Market apple and sausage quiche with sides of potatoes and kale


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Too much zucchini? Here's an idea.

Each year I vow that no zucchini will be left behind.  Well, two giants have been found - obviously totally missed by both Nate and me.

Italian Zucchini Strips

What do I do with a monster zucchini? Enough with the zucchini bread!! Try peeling and then cutting thin strips with your potato peeler to make this simple (and delicious) recipe.

Ingredients:
4 oz. thin strips of zucchini (about a cup)
2 T. finely sliced onion
1 T. olive oil or bacon grease
¼ tsp. Italian seasonings
Salt & pepper to taste
A little butter to finish

Heat a cast iron skillet and add olive oil or bacon grease. Drop the zucchini strips and onions into a hot oil, add Italian seasonings and salt & pepper to taste and stir fry until just beginning to brown. Spoon onto a plate and top with a nob of butter. And that's enough for me as I like mine very simple.

They are almost like big wide fettuccine, and people watching their carbohydrates could make a mean plate of “pasta” with these zucchini strips topped with Sauce Bolognese and some grated Parmesan cheese. Yum!!

4 oz. of zucchini strips =
3 grams carbohydrates (net)
1 gram fiber
18 calories

In the iron skillet

 
Ready to eat.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Here's to 30 years.

My son Jim and his wife Julie dated from the time he was a sophomore and she was a junior at LaSalle-Peru High School in Illinois.

They would have been married 30 years on July 21.  On Palm Sunday this year, Julie passed away from colon cancer.  It was swift and brutal.  We all miss her, but of course my son misses her the most.  He told me that when she died, he lost his best friend. 

I was worried about him being alone on Monday.  Not to be.  He invited all of the kids to come to the house.  They are going to Chicago over the weekend, then back home for a family dinner on Monday.  He told me they will toast their anniversary, "because we almost made it."  He said it was close enough to deserve a toast.

Happy Anniversary, Jim and Julie.  I love you both.

Mom/Susie


Friday, June 20, 2014

Sad times at the South Bend Farmers Market - can you help?

There is a lot on my mind today.  Our new restaurant manager/cook is devastating our business at the South Bend farmers market.  My receipts have dropped by about $200 per week since the new manager and head cook came in.  Many of the customers are complaining, the complaint box is overflowing, many people demand refunds.  And still the board stands behind the new restaurant manager, saying she is learning.  Our president and one board member disagree, but they are not a majority, and so the bad news just keeps getting worse.

I don't think the new manager/cook is learning a thing.  One of my (formerly) regular noontime customers decided to give breakfast a try Thursday (she's given up on lunches) and got eggs Benedict with an English muffin with mold on it.  One of the shareholders at the market got sausage gravy and biscuits in which the sausage was still pink.  How on earth did she make it?  All I can think is that she dropped raw sausage into simmering milk gravy and hoped for the best.  She claimed the problem was Sawyer's sausage, that it would not properly brown.  Say what?

Early on, she told me she needed to teach the people at the market how to appreciate good food.  I don't think so.   Somebody needs to teach her how to make good food, and if she can't learn, then she must be replaced before too much additional damage is done.
 
It saddens me to see our lunch counter going from full or close to it every day to nearly empty many days, and it hurts me financially when my noon-time shoppers are now going elsewhere for lunch.

I bring this up so publicly because if you are a customer of the Farmers Market, I am asking you to go in, have a meal, and if it is not good, go first to the complaint box at the office and register your complaint, and second, take the offending food to Mr. Hovencamp, who brought her in and continues to think she just needs another chance.  While we wait for her to "learn,"  (what's to learn about serving an English muffin with mold on it?), we are losing long-time customers, and some of them might never come back.  That saddens me.

In the meantime, I expanded to Purple Porch a couple of years ago, and that business continues to grow.  It is helping to fill the gap.  Recently I decided to get a booth at the new Granger Farmer's Market, and my shrinking revenues at the South Bend market had a lot to do with that.

Hopefully if enough of you long time fans of the South Bend Farmers Market complain, the board may wake up before it is too late.  I have complained to the board, I have complained directly to the new manager, I have put my opinions in the complaint box, and nothing seems to be working, not for me or any of the people who are complaining.  So I am taking it to Facebook.  I do not want to see a venerable old staple of our community go down in flames over this.  All it takes is getting a decent cook back into the restaurant and going back to good farm cooking like we have had for years.  And the sooner the better!