Welcome to American Homestead. I'm happy you have found my blog. Make yourself comfy and see what's been happening around here. I write about the things that interest me ~ creativity, travel, food, nature and a happy life. I'd love to read your comments.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Elle's Kitchen: Cauliflower and Cheese

We tried a new recipe last night as
a vegetarian entree, serving it with
beets, salad and a pretzel roll.

1 cauliflower
salt and pepper
2 cups milk
2 cloves
1 small onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
5 tablespoons of butter
1/3 cup flour
1 2/3 cups grated firm cheese,
(I used gruyere)
freshly grated nutmeg

Remove the green leaves from the cauliflower
and break into even size florets.  Add florets to 
a pan of boiling salted water and boil until almost
tender (keep checking, this doesn't take too long).

Drain the cauliflower and lay out on a dish 
towel over a cookie sheet to allow more 
moisture to leave the cauliflower.

Preheat oven to 375 F.
Put milk, cloves, onion and bay leaf in a 
saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Cook for
a minute or two, then cover and leave to infuse
off the heat for 10 minutes.  Then strain the milk
for the next step.  Discard the bay leaf and cloves
but keep the onions for later.

In another pan, melt the butter and stir
 in the flour.  Cook over low for a few minutes.

Add the strained milk all at once and
whisk together.  Stir until sauce begins to
thicken and become smooth.  Continue to
cook on the lowest setting you have for
10 minutes (I didn't wait that long).

Add the cheese and stir until fully melted.
Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.

Put the cauliflower in a greased casserole.
Add the reserved onions and stir, then add 
the cheese sauce and stir to make sure it 
coats all the veggies.  Sprinkle with a bit more
cheese and some grated nutmeg.  Bake for
25 to 30 minutes until bubbly and the top
begins to brown.


This was tasty but it took a lot of steps and
a lot of pans to just get a cauliflower with
cheese sauce casserole.  If I ever write
The American Homestead Cookbook, it
will be filled with good but simple recipes...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Penny Lane Pattern

In the "never a dull moment" saga of weather 
in the American Midwest, in the past week we 
have had bitter cold & grey skies, fog & grey 
skies, snow & grey skies, (last evening) 60 degrees
and grey skies and today we are going to have
severe rain and I anticipate... grey skies, though 
the sun isn't up yet.

But the bright spot is ~ the rough draft of my 
manuscript has left the building!

So I plan to get back to some designing and 
stitching, while listening to the falling rain
 and watching some British mysteries on Netflix.

Above is my Penny Lane tablerunner, a nice
stitchery project to work on through the winter 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Make Do" Pedestals

The days of Butler's pantries and endless
storage in our homes is long gone for most
of us.  Yet, we still like to entertain and 
presenting food on plates of varying heights
makes for an interesting presentation.
I do own a few cake stands but they are
difficult to store.

So here is a little trick I use for "making
do" with what I have.  Take a pretty plate
and a tall candy dish or vase like the ones
shown above.

Place a few rounds of Mounting Putty on
the bottom of the vase or candy dish.  Then
turn the plate over and center the putty
end of the vase on the center of the bottom 
of the plate. Apply enough pressure so the
pieces stick together but take care so you
don't break the plate.

And this is what you end up with.
Mind you, I'd only use this for a 
buffet, you wouldn't want to pass
this around because with too much 
movement it could come apart.
For those that are lucky enough to have
tons of storage space, you could make this
permanent with an adhesive.  Personally,
I like to be able to change the various
tops and bottoms as it fits my needs.

This is how they look in use.  When  finished,
 just pull apart and store as usual.

Monday, January 28, 2013

High Tea for Downton

We usually dine out on Sunday evenings
but there was a threatened ice storm
(which thankfully never came).  So, we 
decided to do something special at home.  
Since it was Sunday and we always watch
Masterpiece Theatre, we decided to make
a High Tea.

A selection of sweets and savouries.  Downton
Abbey is currently on Masterpiece so we 
thought it was fitting.  Perhaps if we have 
threatening weather again soon during this
season of Downton, we will have a "below
stairs" meal ~ maybe beans on toast?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Spice Market

Thank You Mr. Wonderful

In our American Homestead, we cook ~ a lot.
And when we cook we like to spice it up.  When 
we travel we find dishes we like and then buy
spices in the local markets so we can recreate
the dishes at home.  All of this is great, except
where do you put everything?  We had a "spice
cabinet" that had a few lazy susans but it would
take so long to find everything it was not efficient.

I made a little sketch of a simple spice rack
that would fit perfectly on an unused wall 
of my kitchen and my Wonderful built it for
me.  Then it sat empty for over a year while 
I searched for the right containers.  I could
have gone with tins but didn't like the look 
of them, jars needed to have a large enough
opening to fit a tablespoon measure inside.
Finally I found just what I wanted and then
the label problem came up.  I wanted to be 
able to make my own and they had to be
coated so they could be wiped off...

I'm happy to report that problem was solved
and I have been filling up spice jars in the 
evenings as I watch tv.  And now it is done!
The jars are in alphabetical order, I can easily
see when I'm out of something.  If you look 
above, I need to get some chili powder.
There is another thing to scratch off the "to
do" list ~ yeah! Looking at it makes me happy.
Now to cook...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Elle's Kitchen: Pecan Pie

Happy National Pie Day!

Today is National Pie Day, at least, that's
what I saw on facebook...  But since I like
pie, I'm taking advantage of this holiday
and making a pie.


1 cup light corn syrup
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tabl. butter, melted
1 teas. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecans
1 unbaked 9'' deep dish pie crust

Preheat oven to 350F.  
Thoroughly stir together the first 
5 ingredients using a spoon.
Then mix in the pecans.

Pour into pie crust.  Bake on center rack of 
oven for 60 to 70 minutes. 

If pie crust is over-browning, cover edges with foil.

 Cool for 2 hours.  

Store pie in refrigerator (using a pie keeper is
 helpful to keep the pie from picking up any
odors from other foods.)

Pecan Pie is now my favorite pie.  I used to think
Pumpkin Pie was my favorite but now I find I
prefer to eat Pumpkin Bread.  I never made pecan
pie until a few years ago, we never made it in my
house growing up and I thought it would be difficult.
Oh how wrong I was, this is one of the simplest 
pies you can make!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Baby It's Cold Outside...

It is VERY cold here in the American Midwest.
  It would be a good day to curl up in front of the
 fire and stitch some American Homestead feltworks
 patterns.    It was 4 F when I woke up this morning!
What is the weather like where you are?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Elle's Kitchen: Bacon and Swiss Quiche

I learned to make quiche from
Julia Child (of course...) many years 
ago and it used to appear regularly on
the menus at Avalon.  Then, one of the 
kids decided they didn't like it and it has
been so long since I've made it I actually
had to consult The Way to Cook for cooking
time and temps.


a pre-baked pie crust
6 strips of bacon, crumbled
3/4 cup swiss cheese
3 eggs
half and half
freshly ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375F.

Place the bacon evenly over the bottom of the 
crust, sprinkle the cheese over that.  Beat the 3 eggs
and then add enough half and half to make a mixture 
of 1 1/2 cups, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Pour liquid over the filling and add a bit more nutmeg 
to the top.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until puffed and
browned.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dream Rides

At the Henry Ford Museum, you can imagine
there would be many great cars.  I picked out
the three I would like to own.

This VW Westfalia has always been a dream,
I remember looking at one at the VW dealership
when I was a child and dreaming even then.

If I ever get to live on Longboat Key, I 
want something like this to drive up to the 
north end to watch the sunset each night.

As a teenager I spent a lot of time in a VW bug.
My sister and I drove all over the eastern US 
and Canada.  Her bug was Texas yellow ~ loved it.

Friday, January 11, 2013


I visited the Henry Ford Museum recently and
of course, I was drawn to the display of kitchens
through the years.

I wish I could have been a Kitchen
Anthropologist, I love to research
all the gadgets and wares of the various
time periods.

Though I wouldn't want to live with
a pump and a dry sink, I still like the
look of it.

Looking through these displays, I realized
I own or have owned some of these pieces.

I loved the 1930's kitchen,  I would not 
want to cook in this in my busy life I lead
everyday but if I had a cottage I could escape
to and spend hours whipping up meals,
this kitchen would be perfect for me.

That sink is one that got away for me...
Years ago before I had a house, before I
was married, I saw that sink on the trash
pile of St. Mark's Church in my hometown.
I said to my sister I want that to be my
kitchen sink someday!  We tried to pick it 
up and even though we were young, healthy
and strong, we could not move it an inch.  It
weighed a ton!  I still dream of having that
sink ~ someday...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bagel Love

I grew up in a part of the USA that is 
probably the area of the country where 
you can get the best bagels ~ in and around 
New York City.  Yet, I didn't love bagels, I 
felt they were a bit plain, too doughy and
hard to eat.  Then I had my first 
EVERYTHING bagel, my life changed...

Then my life changed again when I moved 
to the American Midwest and at that time
we could only buy frozen bagels.  Eventually
we got a Panera Bread and even the grocery
stores stock fresh bagels now.

Every once in a bit I treat myself to an
everything bagel.  I cut mine in 3 slices
before I lightly toast them.  I like the
 slices to be thinner and that makes more 
surface in which to spread my delicious
homemade scallion cream cheese.

Scallion Cream Cheese:
Thinly slice 2 scallions, stir into 1/3 cup
of whipped cream cheese.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Elle's Kitchen: Swiss Chard Frittata

Here is a quick, tasty dish that uses
one of the healthiest veggies you can find.

4 teas. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bunch Swiss Chard, remove
tough stems and chop leaves
5 oz. roasted red peppers,
drained and chopped
4 eggs
2 egg whites
1/4 teas. salt
1/8 teas. pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Preheat broiler.

Heat oil in an oven proof non-stick pan over
medium high heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook,
stirring for about 5 minutes.  Add chard and peppers,
cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes.

Whisk together eggs, egg whites, salt and
pepper in medium bowl, add mozzarella.

Pour over vegetable mixture and stir gently
to combine.  Reduce heat to medium and cook
until eggs are set, 7 - 8 minutes.  Place
frittata under broiler and broil 5'' from heat for 
2 minutes until top is lightly browned.  Let
stand for 2 minutes before serving.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I have a scarf problem.

This is this season's scarf of choice for me.
In the course of 1 minute today, 2 separate 
strangers approached me to tell me how 
beautiful my scarf was and wanting to know
where I got it...
There's the problem, I don't know.

I was just having this conversation with
my girlfriends recently.  They loved the scarf
and wanted to know in what part of the world I
picked it up.  I had to tell them, you know you
have a scarf addiction when you have a scarf this
beautiful and you have no idea where it came from.

I buy scarves like other people buy postcards.
I have never liked typical souvenirs, I always
buy things I will use all the time.  Scarves. dishes
shoes and a great purse I bought years ago in
Madrid and I use it more than any other purse I
own and it still looks great.

I have shelves filled with scarves in all my closets,
they are stuffed into boxes and drawers...

On the hanger of every jacket or coat I own, 
there are probably 4 to 5 scarves wrapped 
about the top.

See that white silk floral in the photo above?
While staying in Istanbul our hotel room had a
 little table that Mr. Wonderful & I wanted to sit 
at in the evenings to look out at the view of the
Hagia Sophia.  Unfortunately the table had a 
faux wood formica top that I couldn't stand.  
So, I went to the little shop on the corner and
bought this little silk scarf and it was our 
tablecloth during our stay ~ now I wear it.

Scarves are the traveler's friend, they are 
small and easy to carry and have so many uses.
I have dressed up black jeans and a plain black tee
with a scarf and dined at very elegant restaurants.
They have become tablecloths for a picnic, they
can become a blanket or pillow on planes or they
can make a plain hotel room look a bit more like home.