Cafe Brigitte

A place for stay at home moms to talk over coffee

My Brown Thumb Turned Green August 13, 2009

Filed under: Gardening,Home Management — Cafe Brigitte @ 6:45 pm
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Two years ago I decided it would be a great lesson for my children to plant a garden. Since I didn’t have a lot of space or tools, I bought the book All New Square Foot Gardening and followed Mel Bartholomew’s directions as closely as I am capable of doing. I spent a bit of money creating my box and filling it. I bought the seeds, started them in peat pots inside until they were ready for the ground, and watered the garden religiously.

Things appeared to start off just fine, but then the trees filled in and my little garden was not getting a whole lot of light. The young plants, like all other plants I have ever tended, began dying. Not one plant yielded one little veggie. It was pathetic. Oh well, that is pretty much par for the course with me. I kill plants.

Early this summer, at our new house, we dug out some over grown shrubs in the front of the house. The soil in that area is red Virginia clay. Since we didn’t have any immediate plans for new plantings in that area and the kids wanted to dig in the dirt, I gave them the leftover seeds from my previous attempt at gardening. I knew nothing would ever grow from those seeds in that soil, so I let them dump seeds to their hearts’ content.

Then we went to the farmers’ market and a lady was selling seedling of various sorts for a quarter a piece. I went ahead and bought some for reasons unknown to myself. Some of those seedlings went into that same barren soil the seeds went into and some went into pots.

Well, my thumb must be changing colors. The pattipan squash seeds sprouted into a plant that has taken over my walkway. We have cucumbers bigger than any I have seen in the grocery store. And, even my poor, pathetic green pepper plant is trying to produce something.

Take a look:

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My New Favorite Seasoning July 31, 2009

Filed under: Home Management,Recipe — Cafe Brigitte @ 2:07 am
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When we moved to Bristol last summer we began frequenting Sam’s Club on a very regular basis since it is less than 10 minutes from our house. We can’t resist the samples – who can?! Many times we have had samples of various cuts of beef and pork and they were simply delicious. I finally asked one day what they used to prepare the meat and the demonstrator replied Lawry’s.

Having grown up with a very European mother, I had never heard of such a thing. One day I saw it in the grocery store and decided to give it a try.

Man, does that stuff really taste great on beef, chicken and pork. If you are looking for something quick, easy, and tasty, get some Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and sprinkle it on before you grill, bake or pan fry your meat. You will be glad you did.

 

Easy Spinach Quiche July 23, 2009

Filed under: Home Management,Recipe — Cafe Brigitte @ 1:32 am
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I was away from home most of last week and have been on the run ever since I got home at midnight on Sunday (or is that Monday?). I have not had a chance to restock the fridge, so I had to be creative for our dinner tonight. I had spinach in the freezer, pie crusts, and lots of eggs. I love quiche, but so many of the recipes online required ingredients that I didn’t have. That is where I had to be creative and simplify. Here is the recipe I came up with:

1 – 9 inch pie crust (premade frozen, the folded variety, or use your favorite recipe)
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
half of a 16 oz package of frozen, chopped spinach
1 small tomato or half a large one seeded and chopped
1.5 cups shredded cheese (you pick the type – I used colby-jack since that is what I had on hand)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the over to 400 degree and bake your crust for about 8 minutes (my frozen crust was thawed). While that is baking, cook the spinach according to package directions and drain excess water from the spinach. Then beat your eggs with the milk. Add the spinach and tomato to the egg mixture. Salt and pepper to taste (I used about 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper).

When the crust is finished prebaking, reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Sprinkle half your cheese in the bottom of the crust, pour in the egg/spinach mixture, and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

I made two quiches this evening thinking that we would have one for tonight (my husband is working tonight) with leftovers for lunch tomorrow and that I would freeze the second one. Well, my girls ate not just seconds, but thirds, so there were no leftovers from the first quiche. The second one will be lunch tomorrow.

What I like about this recipe is that it is made from things I always have one hand (well, I don’t normally have pie crusts in the freezer, but I do have the ingredients to make them) and it is a complete meal.

Spinach Quiche

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I’m no Martha Stewart July 6, 2009

Filed under: Home Management — Cafe Brigitte @ 12:41 am
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There I have admitted it. Of course, to those who know me, there was never any illusion that I was. 😉

Martha Stewart is a remarkable woman. She has built an amazing empire creating a lifestyle that many of us would love to recreate but don’t have the time or money to do so.

On occasion, I will pick up Martha’s magazine Martha Stewart Living. Usually I buy the magazine because I see a recipe or a decorating idea that I like (once in a blue moon I will actually make the recipe). The July issue caught my eye with the section on lobster. We had a house in Rhode Island and loved getting lobsters from the fishing boats at Point Judith. That section was making me feel a bit nostalgic, so I bought the magazine.

After making my way through the over-the-top lobster bake ideas (see the S’mores To-Go Box on page 40), I came upon an article about French chef Tony Esnault. His recipes look inviting and accessible for us non-Martha types. What I found really intriguing about Esnault, was the following quote: “Sometimes I plan a whole meal around dessert.”

That quote ties in with something a local chef told me recently. He said that he went back to culinary school to become a pastry chef because he saw how people reacted when they ate a fabulous dessert. The reaction to a really good meal was no where near the reaction people had when enjoying dessert.

So, when you cook for a special occasion, do you plan the dessert first and the rest of the meal after, or vice versa? How do you react to a great main course as compared to a great dessert?

Now I feel like I need to have a party, and see how I plan the food and then watch for my guests reactions to the various courses.

Hungry yet?

 

Knitted or Crocheted Dishcloths June 29, 2009

Filed under: Crafts,Home Management,Usborne Books,Work at Home — Cafe Brigitte @ 5:26 pm

I had an Usborne  Books booth at a Ladies Day Out event at the new Cancer Center in Abingdon,Va. last fall.  The Tupperware lady was selling some homemade dishcloths at her booth that I thought were very nice.  She was charging $3 a piece for them and sold all of them before I had a chance to buy any.

I enjoy knitting and crocheting, but I am not very good at it and I tend to lose interest in a project before it is done.  So, after missing out on buying the dishcloths at that event, I thought making my own would be the perfect (fast and seemingly easy) project for me.  I found many sites online that offered patterns that I could follow, but they were mostly crochet patterns.  After some experimentation, I found that the easiest thing to do was crochet a square (about 4 inches) in single crochet, then crochet a boarder around it.  They are nice and tight and are great for light scrubbing.

I have made scrubbies simply knitting cotton yarn with strips of tulle.  They are durable and won’t scratch non-stick surfaces. Crocheting them did not work as well for me, for some reason.

Here is the problem.  I like to make matched sets of scrubbies and dishcloths, and since I have signed up to contribute a supply of homemade crafts for a fundraiser and the only craft I know is this one, I need an easy knitted dishcloth pattern to match my scrubbies.  Well, after looking for a long time, I think I have found the one I need at the Groovy Mom Blog.

I will let you know how it works for me and publish pictures of a completed dishcloth as soon as I get it done.