Friday, April 29, 2016

Homemade Rice-A-Roni

To break up the monotony of salads for lunch each day, I made Lebanese meatballs with Greek salad, pita and homemade rice-a-roni the other day.
 I hadn't made rice-a-roni in years and I forgot how much my kids like it.  My husband too!


  • 2 oz vermicelli, broken into half inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup long grain rice (not instant)
  • 4 tsp chicken bouillon
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • dash garlic powder
  • 2 3/4 cup water or chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp butter

In a large skillet, melt 2 Tbsp butter. Add broken pasta and rice.  Cook until lightly brown.

Add water and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover.

Cook 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until water is absorbed.
 So good and so much better than store bought.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Feast for the Kids

The after school program ends next week.  I am trying to make the kids last meals memorable.  Recently, I stopped at a smoke house to stock up on bacon and sausages.They gave me a half ham and a container of their ham salad for free.  I guess they smoked too many hams for Easter.  I decided to make the kids a groaning board of meats and cheeses.
 I also baked them 60 rolls.

 They could make small sandwiches if they wanted to.

 This tray is so big it was tough to get a pic of it.  I filled it up with smoked cheeses, regular cheese and lots of sliced sausages.

 I added lots of assorted nuts too.

I baked the ham in maple syrup and cut it into wedges then added some grapes and strawberries to the tray.  The Summer program starts in July but over 100 kids have signed up for it so other than occasionally making hot dogs, I won't be able to feed the kids until next Fall.  I hate to even think about how they will eat until then. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Caprese Pasta Salad and Focaccia

I made the after school kids this caprese pasta salad for their dinner yesterday.  It was almost 85 degrees here so I wanted to make them something cool and refreshing.  I diced lots of fresh mozzarella, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions and fresh basil.  I made a balsamic vinegar dressing and tossed it with bowtie pasta.

 And I made rosemary and sea salt focaccia to go with it. The kids had never heard of focaccia before.

 They sure liked it.

 One of the kids pulled The Blog Tech aside and told him he can never thank him enough for feeding them each day.

 He said that knowing he will get a home cooked meal each day is such a relief to him.  He told The Blog Tech that he used to live on soda and chips from the Dollar Store.  Why can't our government help these kids?  When I think of the money being spent on this election yet there is no money to feed our kids?  It's just not right.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ramp Festival

 Sorry for the blurry pic but The Blog Tech thought it was fun to take "ramp" pics on the way to our first ramp festival of the year.

 This one is held in beautiful West Virginia.  If you've never been to West Virginia, it is simply one of the most beautiful places.

 This is a small festival in a cute little park on top of a small mountain.


 Ramp candy.  Chocolate covered ramps, ramp flavored hard tack, and ramp mints.  My daughter tried the ramp mints and said they ruined her life.

 Rebel flag territory.

 This was so cute.  Each picnic table had ramps as a centerpiece and a bowl of green peppermints to help with your 'ramp breath' after you've eaten.

 Wooden hand carved ramp plaques.

 Ramp butter.

 Ramp dips, ramp seasoning, ramp vinegar.  all things ramp for sale and taste testing.

 Click for a closer look.

 Fried ramps are very good.

 Ramp hot dogs, ramp salad, ramp potato soup and ramp hashbrowns.

The Blog Tech's fiance really, really likes ramps. 
 On the way home we stopped at a Hungarian smoke house.

 Click to enlarge.

Welcome to Trump country!

Monday, April 25, 2016


 On Saturday morning we headed out early to go to a ramp festival.  When we returned, my daughter surprised us by making brunch.

 I was so impressed with these tiered trays she filled with bagel toppings. The top tray held smoked salmon with capers, dill and cream cheese.

 The second tray held thinly sliced red onions, cucumbers and another spread. The bottom had fresh tomatoes and basil and a wonderful tuna salad.

She did such a nice job and it was such a beautiful presentation.  Thank you wonderful daughter!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Ramp Carbonara

We are eating ramps in everything while they are on season.  I made ramp carbonara a few days ago and it sure was good.
 The recipe:

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 cup chopped pancetta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ramps
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup grated pecornio romano
  • 1/2 medium sized lemon
  • 5 eggs 

 First, prep the ramps. Cut the root end off and separate the bulbs from the leaves. Slice the bulbs in half and then chop. For the leaves - stack 5 - 10 leaves on top of each other. Then slice them lengthwise into 1/4 inch ribbons. Repeat with the remaining leaves.

In a mixing bowl, mix together the eggs, parmesan cheese,
pecorino and salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a large (big enough to easily handle a pound of cooked spaghetti) skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp. Add the white wine and cook until reduced by half.
 Remove the pancetta and add the ramp bulbs, cooking until soft, about 5 minutes.   Add the ramp leaves and cook until softly wilted.

  Cook your spaghetti 1 minute less than suggested for al dente. (Your pasta will continue to cook in the sauce).

  Drain the cooked pasta (reserving 1/4 cup pasta water) and add the spaghetti to the pan with pancetta and ramps. Toss the pasta in the sauce for 1 minute, allowing each piece to get coated with the sauce. The pan should still be at medium heat.

Pour the egg/cheese mixture into the hot pasta, using a wooden spoon to quickly distribute the mixture. Remove from heat and continue stirring for 1 - 2 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the eggs are cooked. If the sauce is too thick add a bit of the pasta water. Squeeze the lemon over the sauce and season with salt and pepper if it needs more.

 Ramps rule!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Playing in the Woods

 Hey Teddy, do you want to go and get a drink?
Teddy always wants to get a drink.
Don't slip, it's a long way to the bottom.

 When I was a little girl, I loved playing in the woods.  We would come home from school, throw our books on the floor and head out to play in the woods.  In the summer, my friends and I would fill up our old WWII canteens with water, pack a lunch and spend the whole day there playing until it turned dark. I always felt safe in the woods.Years ago I had the chance to buy some property behind me and I decided to recreate those woods in my own back yard. ( You can see the ferns and hostas popping up).

 We played in the creek in that woods a lot and would sit in an old dish pan to ride over the little falls.  So, I added a creek and falls too.

 When it rained, we picked Mayflowers and held them over our heads like umbrellas.  This year I was pleased to see that the Mayflowers I planted have started to spread.

When I started building my forest, there was not one tree or plant of any sort.  I had the big trees planted by experts but my husband and I planted every single thing that grows here now.  The Blog Tech and I love the Eastern Red Buds we see growing all over the mountains on our trips so last year we bought one and planted it on my husband's birthday.
 We always had fun finding Jack in the Pulpits when we were playing.  We liked making Jack preach.  Mine are just pushing up through the leaves right now.

 Columbines growing among the daffodils and the ever present dandelions.

 I don't think riding down this in a dish pan would work very well now.

 My dad would take us berry picking and my mom would bake blackberry pies.  I have blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries and currants growing.

 Each Spring my grandfather would make rhubarb sauce to eat on his toast.  My rhubarb is coming up next to my horseradish.

 My dad would take me to visit his parent's grave sight and on the way we would pass a place that had the most wonderful phlox for sale.  He would always stop and buy some to add to our garden.  I have phlox planted all over my woods and it is blooming right now.  The high winds of a few weeks ago blew my potting shed door off so it is in the shop being repaired.

 We also had a garden filled with apple trees and grapes.  My grapes are leafing out and my apples are blooming.

Something I did not have as a child were ramps but I now have a couple patches growing in my woods.

 Each year I add a few plants to fill in bare spots or replace plants that have died.

Am I seeming a bit nostalgic the last few days?  I am indeed.  I think it's because the after school kids had projects away from the program this week so I haven't had to cook.  Having and extra 6-7 hours a day gives me time to think about things.  I'll be back to not thinking next week!