Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Happy Birthday to Pat's Kitchen!

How about a little celebration and a lot of thanks?

I have done blogs off and on for a few years, each one with a termination date since they were based on trips we take.  When my niece came over last year to help with my Mom we talked about my frustration at always having an end date and she made a suggestion to base it on something like the new kitchen we were putting in.  Without that germ of an idea, I am not sure this blog would exist.  So the first thanks is to Roxanne!

And another real surprise - this blog has readers in every continent!  What fun!  Thanks to all of you for making writing this fun. I love looking at the stats and seeing all the continents represented.  It amazes me that you all consistently find my blog interesting.  Thanks to all my readers!

And thanks to my husband who has to sit and watch me compose photos or the blog while I really should be doing other things.  His patience is legendary!  He is also very generous in trying what I cook and being honest in his appraisals.  Of course, he says everything is good! 


Special thanks to my little cooking partner, Corbyn!  I really enjoy baking with him and he is clever enough to give me the impression he loves to bake.  But between you and me - I am on to his deception.  He is a little boy who loves to eat cake, and he knows if he can butter up his Grandma enough to convince her he loves to bake, he will ultimately get to eat cake. Just don't anyone let him know I am aware of this!  And just so you know, I do live in hope that one day he will really enjoy baking for baking's sake!

Last Christmas I was lucky enough to be involved in a Cookie Swap.  This is basically an American concept, but it seems to be catching on over on this side of the pond.  There are certain criteria to be able to participate, such as actually doing a food blog and publishing so many times before a certain date.  I registered and was delighted to be accepted!  There have to be at least 4 people in a country before the concept of the cookie swap works.  In the Republic of Ireland though, there was only one sole person wanting to participate.  So some of us in the UK agreed to take on the (not exceptional) extra postage.  I have followed all three of the people I shared the cookies with and her's was the one that made me realize my blog's birthday was coming up.  She recently published her Blogiversary and that was what made me look up just exactly when mine started - 22 August 2012. So a huge thank you to the Velvet Moon Baker! 

Strangely the most popular blog has been Courgette (Zuchini) and Cheese Soup.  Admittedly, this is a delicious soup and easy recipe, healthy, weightwatchers.....and the most viewed!  10% of all viewings have been this soup! There even has been a surge recently, so maybe it is Courgette season just now!

I did tie in the accident, deterioration and death of my mother through the first 6 months of this blog, because she was instrumental in our decision to redesign the kitchen.  This was a comfort to me and I am grateful for all the support I felt through the many viewings of posts relating to our experience.

My only complaint would be out of the 1663 (as of this very minute!) viewings, I have only received 19 comments, all but 2 from family and friends. And those 2 were from my cookie swap partners!  I do receive feedback through facebook and have copied some of these to become a permanent part of this blog. But it would be so much more fun to hear from some of you who are all over the world! 

Maybe this year I will have time to improve my food photography and the layout of this blog.  But even if I don't, I am really looking forward to another year of sharing my attempts at keeping up with Pat's Kitchen!

"To climb steep hills requires a slow pace at first." 
William Shakespeare

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Corbyn's last day of "freedom"

I was very lucky today because I was able to have Corbyn all on my own all day. This was a very special day too, since tomorrow, he becomes a big boy and starts Primary 1! 

The first thing we did was play Zoo Tycoon, which is a computer game we both enjoy.  It is amazing how much Corbyn has learned through playing this game, such as noticing when we were at a safari park that their elephants had no savanna grass!

We ended the day with an hour walk to the little duck pond and through the woods, being very careful not to ruin his shoes in the mud.  I must say he was wonderful in avoiding all the puddles.  Not like the usual Corbyn, but maybe that is him already growing up a bit.

In the middle though, Corbyn wanted to bake and he really wanted to bake cupcakes. But I had bought him "My Baking Journal"  which was published by Belmont Academy students. It is aimed for young children to make baking fun!  I had originally decided to get it for all my nieces and nephews in the States, but the recipes are all British and it would just confuse a young baker.  But, after today, I can certainly recommend it to any up and coming baker!  Corbyn loved it and was very pleased with the results. But maybe I am getting ahead of myself!

To make the most of this journal, I thought it would work best to start with the first recipe and do each in turn.  Since neither of us had ever made flapjacks, and Corbyn didn't know what they were,  this was as good a place to start as any.  Now, the term flapjacks confused me when I first moved here and was offered a flapjack at someone's house.  What I was expecting was a pancake and I could not really understand why she would have offered me this. Then I was served a very sweet oat cake?  This is the trouble when living in a country where you think they speak the same language, and they often don't! 

Corbyn seems to have grown out of his little apron and wanted to wear the one with the moose on it.  He looked like a chef with the apron almost to his ankles!  But, as you can see, he loved it.

I had the foresight to set out all the ingredients.  This maybe defeats the purpose of the journal, part of the learning process is the numbers.....but my patience only stretches so far, and the same goes for Corbyn.  He did, however, arrange the dishes with the ingredients into what he decided looked like Mickey Mouse!

Since Corbyn is starting school and all that, I told him he could stir the pot with sugar, butter and syrup.  He did a few times, but asked me to take over because he is only 4! 

The journal also had a place for a photo and Corbyn was uncharacteristically cooperative in allowing me to take pictures.  And my camera battery died, so I had to depend on my Ipad.  Not as good of quality, but just as much fun!

Corbyn also had to rate the recipe on a scale of ten.  Trying to explain this concept to a 4 year old was challenging.  After discussion, he chose 4.  Later on, we were eating them in the car - cooler and much tastier.  Corbyn said he REALLY liked them a lot better.  However, I could not get him to change his rating because he just could not get his head around that concept again.  Oh well, this recipe will live on as 4 out of 10, at least until we do it again. 

The next recipe in the journal is  Rocky Road, or as Corbyn told him Mum - Chocolate Street!

This was such a simple recipe:

Fantastic Flapjacks

75g butter
50g soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
175g oats
50g sultanas (raisins) (optional)

1.  Grease or line a square cake tin.  ( I used a 9 inch pan and I think an 8 inch one would have been better).  Preheat oven to 180c.
2.  Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan on medium heat.

3.  Add in the oats and sultanas, mix well, and transfer to cake tin. 
4.  Bake in oven for 20 minutes until golden brown. 
5.  Cut into chunks and enjoy!









“A child educated only at school is an uneducated child.” — George Santayana



Sunday, August 11, 2013

Thoughts on Grandma's Potato Salad

I must admit I have become amazed at the evolution of "Grandma's Potato Salad"!  If you google Grandma's Potato Salad, there are loads and loads of possibilities.  How is this possible?  After living in Scotland for almost 30 years, I believe this phenomena is mainly an American development.  I now wonder if our ancestors who left their home countries missed their traditional food and the evolution of other recipes, including potato salad. began! 

So on a more personal level, my interest in the terminology of "Grandma's Potato Salad" started when my Mom and I realized my cousin was calling the recipe we always referred to as Grandma's  as Aunt Marie's Potato Salad.  For years, we did wonder at why she called it that.  However, in thinking about this, I believe what happened was - Mom and I left the area while my Grandmother was still the official family potato salad maker. But eventually she must have lost the energy or something and Aunt Marie took over the mantle of family potato salad maker.  Since the connection to Grandma was through my cousin's dad, it would make sense that he did not perpetuate the family potato salad recipe!  I would imagine most family recipes are handed down from the female members.  I hope that is not sexist, but it does seem to make sense. 

The way I see it is , we continued to use the same recipe and always, to this day, referred to it as Grandma's Potato Salad, but to my cousin the exact recipe is Aunt Marie's.  This must have happened for many years all over the United States!

So for my immediate family, what was once my Grandma's potato salad, evolved into my children's Grandma's potato salad.  And now I am making it and guess what, I am also a Grandma!

So after this tremendously long introduction, here is what I use as the recipe for our family's Grandma's Potato Salad!

Grandma's Potato Salad

First of all I must admit I went on automatic pilot and had to reign myself in every so often so I could attempt to share this recipe in a manner people might understand! 

I forgot the onion in this!

4 lbs potatoes  (In a recipe Mom gave me, she noted she preferred red potatoes, but any will do)
3 stalks celery, finely diced
1 onion, finely chopped
3 hard boiled eggs, finely chopped
1 plus cups mayo
1 plus tablespoons yellow American style mustard
vinegar and sugar to taste
salt and pepper

(Mom always put celery seed in the salad too, but I have difficulty finding it in Scotland and, frankly, don't miss it!)

Boil potatoes with skins on then peel them while warm. So much easier than peeling first!  Cube them and place in very large bowl.  Add celery, onion and eggs. 

In a separate bowl, mix everything else.  Go easy on the vinegar, you will know when the proportion of mustard, sugar and vinegar works with the mayo. This is really a matter of personal taste and I don't believe it could really be measured.

I am excited about tonight's dinner!  Friends are coming over and we are having a very Southern style evening meal - pulled pork, potato salad, 24 hour salad, coleslaw and corn on the cob.  All the feeling of a barbeque without the fuss of firing up the coals!  My friend is bringing dessert, so that might not be in the theme. But I do know it will be delicious!

"--Only a Southerner knows instinctively that the best gesture of solace for a neighbor who’s got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl of cold potato salad. If the neighbor’s trouble is a real crisis, they also know to add a large banana puddin'."  

 Found on a blog called New Around Town