Friday, January 29, 2010

Uncle Bradie's Sauce

OK I don't call him Uncle Bradie as I didn't really get acquainted with my Uncle until I was a young adult.  Being an Air Force Brat we just never lived close enough.  Also when I was a kid he was a teenager.  He's only 9 years older than me.  Not much interested in a pesky niece.  He was too busy trying to become a rock star.  The younger nieces and nephews called him Uncle Bradie and I just thought it was funny and cute.  So, when I became aware of his sauce I called it Uncle Bradie's Sauce.

I got aquainted with this sauce when I first met my husband.  He was stationed at a base not far from San Francisco.  On my 2nd date with DH we went to an Aerosmith concert at the Cow Palace.  I drove to San Francisco and stayed the night at my Aunt and Uncle's house.  It was my Aunt who suggested I defrost some of Brad's Spaghetti sause and have DH over for dinner before the concert.  We both thought the sauce was very good.  Next time I came to San Francisco I asked Uncle Brad for the recipe and he said he didn't have one.  So, I watched him make it and wrote the recipe down myself.  We've been having this sauce ever since.  That's been 25 years.

Uncle Bradie's Spaghetti Sauce

1 pound hamburger
1 pound ground pork
1 pound Italian sausage (taken out of casings)
1 pound sliced mushrooms
1/2 head of garlic, chopped
1 onion med. to large, chopped
6 cans of tomato sauce (8 oz cans or 36 oz)
2 cans of tomato paste (6 oz cans or 12 oz)
1 tsp of white pepper
3 bay leaves (turkish)
1/2 bottle of Italian seasoning
2 tsp oregano
4 cups of burgandy wine
1 T sugar

Brown all meats separately and drain the fat off.  Put in large pot.  Add remaining ingredients.  Bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 1 1/2 hours.

First thing I do before starting the sauce is make some Italian seasoning.  This recipe uses a lot.  I usually have all the herbs needed already.  I put 2 tablespoons of each Basil, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary and Thyme in a bowl and stir.  You can buy this premade if you don't have the ingredients already at home.
Then I begin browning the meats.  Here I'm browning the ground beef using my handy dandy mix n chop from Pampered Chef.  Makes short work of browning a lot of meat.
I'm browning the sausage IN the casing here for the first time in 20 years.  Uncle Brad had slices of sausage in his.  I thought I'd make it more like his.  I ended up not liking the large chunks of sausage in the sauce.  Reminded me why I do it differently.  So, let this be a lesson to you all take the Italian sausage from it's casing and brown it like you would the ground beef and pork.  The sausage mixes with the flavors of the sauce much better that way.

To save time while I brown all the meats I add the other ingredients to the big pot and start heating it up.  As the meats are browned I put them into the pot.

Here is the ground pork on it's way to being browned and ready for the pot.

Everything is together and simmering.  I usually make a double batch.  This sauce freezes beautifully.  This sauce also makes great lasagna.

A Snuggle With My Poodle

She doesn't get all the way on my lap.  I'm not sure if she feels she's too big or if it's some dominate dog thing or what.  My Miss Marie would sit on the top of my head if I let her.  Little Star likes to lay very close.  She especially likes to lean on me.  Or she'll lay next to my legs and throw her head over a leg.  Right now she's leaning and laying her head on my stomach.  She letting me look at her beautiful brown almond shaped eyes.  She wants to make sure I get a glimps of he adorable gum drop nose.  She knows I have a weakness for fuzzy poodle snout.  She's usually not this cuddly unless I have a plate she wants to lick.  She's and expert smoozer.

She can be so nonchalant too.  "Plate what plate?  I didn't see a plate I was just here to snuggle.  What? You want me to lick the plate?  OK if I have to."
It's very difficult to get a good photo of a black poodle.  Flash or no flash they are still very cute and snuggly.
Full on snuggle sneaky smoozin' mode.  I say, "Are you my baby?"  And she lays her head down and gives the eyes.  You know the eyes that say, "Yes I am."
I can never resist such fuzzy warm cuteness.  Charles Schultz said it best, "Happiness is a warm puppy."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kool-Aid Dyeing

I got my special yarn in the mail yesterday for my Kool-Aid dyeing project.  Couldn't wait to try it out and bought Kool-Aid today.  Diana Sullivan has a video on her "Diana natters on..." blog describing the whole technique and I followed it to the letter.

OK maybe I did one or two tiny things different from the video.  In the below picture I wetted the yarn in the warm water I filled my spaghetti pot with.  I wanted to make sure I wetted it through.  Once soaked I put the yarn in my colander while I heated the water to nearly boiling.

Since Diana's pot wasn't at a rolling boil I turned the heat down to simmer once it was about to boil.  I added 4 packages of Berry Kool-Aid and stirred.  What a beautiful color.

I ran the wet yarn under warm water again to make sure it was warm as Diana warned that cool yarn might be shocked into felting.  I didn't want this to happened.  Hand squeezed out excess moisture and added it to the pot of unsweetened hot Kool-Aid.

As I stirred the yarn around I got worried it wasn't working.  I was talking out loud about it.  My son in the background working on homework says, "Mom it's only been one minute."  It did feel like 10 to me since I was trying a new craft.  He was right I kept stirring. 

Saying out loud, "I don't think it's going to soak up all the dye in my batch."  In the back ground I hear my son say, "Mom it's only been 2 minutes."  Felt like 20 to me.  He was right.  I kept stirring.
Wow it really did soak up all the dye, but my water never did turn white as in Diana's video.  I'm at the 3 minute mark now.  I was amazed at how quickly it all went despite my fears of messing it all up.

I just couldn't believe the water went from a royal blue to clear!
After letting the water and yarn cool until I could comfortably pick it up I drained the pot in my kitchen sink.  I thought for sure the water on my white sink would have a faint blue color.  Nope.  Completely clear.
I got a rag towel out and jelly rolled the yarn up in it squeezing out as much water as I could.
I undid the ties that Diana had us do to give the yarn a tye dye look.  Since I really like variegated yarn I wanted to tye dye it to see what would happen when all knitted up.

I really enjoyed seeing how the yarn resisted the dye under the ties.  Yarn is hanging to dry.  Will check on it in the morning.  I can't hardly wait to make something with my newly dyed yarn!

Diana said her kitchen smelled fruity after she was done.   Maybe my kitchen is too open to trap the scents.  So, I decided to smell my yarn for a beautiful fruity scent.  My yarn smelled like a fruity wet dog.

It's tomorrow and couldn't wait to see how my yarn dried.  I touched my dyed yarn and it felt like it was just as wet as it was last night.  Maybe it's the rainy weather we've had for 9 days.  I bet there is a lot of water in the air.  So, I stuck it in my dryer on the delicate drying bed.  Set dryer for air dry.

Look What I Did Today!

Yep cut my hair.  Well, my friend and hair dresser Ranell cut my hair. 

Last May my daughter got her hair cut for her 2nd donation to Locks of Love.  It got me to thinking that I needed a hair cut.  My daughter said, "You know mom if you gave it a few more months your hair would be long enough to donate too."  I thought why not.  I asked her how long should I let it grow.  She said, "How about next May?"  I said, "NO! I desperately want a hair cut now I couldn't go a whole nother year.  How about January?"  She and I agree another 6 months should do it.

Come October I was waking up with my hair wrapped around my neck.  I felt like I just had to have a hair cut.  I'd reminded myself January is not that far away for someone who needs my hair.  So, for 3 more months I put it in pony tails, buns and braids to try and deal with this mop on my head.

Next thing I knew January was here.  Then I kept forgetting to call Ranell and make an appointment.  Finally got around to it last week.  Today was my appointment.  It was no secret I was getting my hair cut, but I must not have talked about it much.  As I saw each of my family members today and different times each were so shocked and surprised that my long hair was gone.

Most of my friends and family wanted to see and hold my braid and thought it was neat.  My 18 year old son jokingly said, "Get that thing away from me it's creepy."  Of course I had to tickle him with it and watch him get the creeps.  I told him I'd have to hide, because I'd find him cuddle up with it in the morning.  He said, "No you won't because I don't cuddle.... RAT TAILS!"  He's so funny and makes me laugh.

My braid measures 12 inches and I'm proud to have a decent donation.  My hair cut is pretty cute too.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Little Star

My little poodle baby.  We are at my parents house for Christmas in this picture.  This is exactly what I was talking about when I said a dog can be your baby when your children no longer are.  My kids are too big and too embarrassed to let me hold them like this now.  Little Star doesn't mind it a bit.  In fact she climbed up on me and laid down without any coaxing.  Our first conversation was do I look like a couch to you?  She just gave me a look that said, "No, you look like mom."  She is a cuddly poodle, but not quite this cuddly.  I think when we are away from home she gets a bit more clingy.  I often wonder if she feels like she needs to lay on me, so I won't forget to take her home with me.  Like I leave her places all the time.  No I don't.  She's more important than my purse.  I've never left her any where.  I asked DH to take a picture, because she was just being so precious.  Smoozing me for food is probably more like it.  When we go to Grandma's and Grandpa's there are a lot more snacks given out than at our house.  Little Star's sister Twinkle asked for snacks several times a day and got them.  When we are visiting Little Star gets them too.

For Christmas Little Star got a toy Pheasant.  Petco started carrying a realistic animal line of toys a few years ago and Little Star loves them.  She now has a chipmunk, squirl, duck and pheasant.  I thought it was so cute that with Twinkle's toy scattered about Little Star knew this was hers.

She slept on it quite a while until she realized she was being watched.  Sorry cute poodle alert! Had to take a picture!  Like with people, pets need to be appreciated every single day, because one doesn't know how long we have together.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

RIP Sweet Twinkle

(Twinkle Opening her Christmas present 2009)

Our dog family has taken quite a hit in just the past 6 months. We've gone from a 4 dog family to 1.  This year my dad's hunting dog and Twinkle's friend Chyna died of old age on Memorial day. My brother's dog (my Miss Marie's brother) died on the same day Marie did October 15th only 2 years later. He was 19. Though the 3 dog deaths were sad... in a way they were expected. That is the cycle of life when owning a pet. We took great care of them nursing them till the end. When cancer and getting hit by a car are the leading ways dogs die we were lucky and vigilant.

This past week we got news that my parent's poodle Twinkle had liver cancer. She was expected to live about 2 more weeks. She made it 5 days. She was 7 years old. She is the sister to my poodle Little Star. Together they were "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." A death that none of us were ready for least of all my parents. It has hit them pretty hard. They were right there with her till the end. She is buried next to Chyna in the garden they both loved so much.

It has hit my parents hard not just because they loved Twinkle so much, but also because they are entering the twilight of their life. Dog ownership is a big question when you start to wonder how long will you live. They expected Twinkle to live another 10 years and probably be the last dog they'd ever own. My parents are at a time in life when taking care of themselves and each other from day to day is their job. Having a pet to love and take their mind of their own selves was a blessing. Having a dog to make one get out of bed when arthritis makes you want to stay in bed is a pleasurable reason to get your body moving.  Having a dog to baby when your children aren't babies is a joy.  My parents don't just see this as a death of a dog, but a death of dog ownership maybe even the beginnings of their own death.

My dad gave me the run down of Twinkle's last day. I knew he needed to talk. He talked through his tears to give me the story of how brave Twinkle was. What I heard was how brave the three of them were. After my dad was done telling Twinkle's story he said emphatically, "NO more dogs for us. We couldn't take that again."

I thought how sad that the death of a beloved dog would stop one from ever having another. I get it. They are feeling old. Well, they are old. But they'll get older and they should have the joy of a dog until the end. I talked to my brother last night about their situation. My parents have had a dog in their house usually 2 for the last 40 years. I discussed with him that in a few months we'll talk to them about getting another dog and assure them that we will help them with their pet ownership.

My husband and I know full well what it is like to inherit a dog. My husband's parents were 15 years older than my parents and died fairly quickly after we were married. We inherited a 98 pound guard dog named Nixon. He always seemed pretty scary.  Nixie as we affectionately called him, became a beloved member of our family. We didn't have any pets at the time and I was pregnant with my first child. There was very little questioning when we took him in and made a house dog of him. Yes, he altered our lives in big ways. Allowances needed to be made, but we made them. Nixie lived until he was 13 1/2 and my children remember what a great dog he was even though they were pretty little when he passed on. We live on 1/2 an acre much bigger than we probably would have gotten, but big dogs need big yards. Our beautiful big backyard is because of him.

(Sister-in-law, Niece, Nephew and Twinkle excited about her Christmas present)

It's been a few months and my brother and his wife are ready for another dog. My hope is in a few months my parents will be able to open their hearts to another dog. The benefits of owning a dog far out way the heart break at the end.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Restaurant Review

New Years Eve we decided to give this restaurant a try. It came highly recommended. It was described as "Home Town Buffet only better." Well, I have two problems. First I didn't think Home Town Buffet is very good. I love to cook and taking me to a buffet where their main goal is to get large quantities of food out fast isn't always a good thing. Secondly, I can't eat a lot of food in one sitting. I don't have a problem with it, but dear hubby doesn't feel like we're getting our money's worth when taking me to a buffet.

We decided we had to try the "Golden Corral" just to see what all the hoopla was about. I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised. The selection and quality of the food was very good. My daughter and I fell instantly in love with their Loaded Potato & Bacon Soup. I moved on to fried clams, beer batter fish and had a stare down at the freshly made onion ring station.

A cook came out of the back with 6 large freshly deep fried delicious looking onion rings. A gal standing right in front of the warmer tray asked the cook, "Do you make these fresh yourself?" He said, "Yes, we do." She said, "They are wonderful." She proceeded to pick up all 6 onion rings and put them on her plate with me standing right there waiting for at least one. This is where the staring came in. I gave her the "I can't believe you are going to take them ALL when you've already had some!" look. She hadn't quite got to her plate and let 2 of the onion rings slide off the tongs back in the warmer tray. I smiled at her. They were good! Beer batter dipped large slices of sweet onion cooked to a tender perfection.

I had a mini sirloin burger, a mini buffalo chicken sandwich, a bite of orange chicken and "OH GOODIE" creamed spinach! Yes, I'm weird and I love the stuff. I surveyed the Mexican section, the Italian section and cruised through the bakery section. They were making their own bread dough. You could watch them working in their kitchen. This is also where I saw the cutest mini donut machine. My first thought was I want one! It could sit on my kitchen counter forever. Check out my short video. I just had to share it's cuteness with my friends and took a video.

I have to say though the only 2 things I didn't like at the Golden Corral was their orange chicken. Had a fake odd orange flavor and the creamed spinach was to put it mildly disgusting.

A mere 20 minutes into our adventure I was full. My daughter and I decided to share the same side of the booth as my husband was up and down many times. Now he is someone who can eat a lot in one sitting. After sitting for about 20 minutes I decided to just look at the dessert section. All different cakes and pies, Rice Krispie treats and fudge, pudding and jello, soft serve and ice cream scooped on a cone. What to get?! Who are we kidding I can't just look. Everything looks so wonderful. I'm getting the feeling of being in Wonka land. Then I see it my all time favorite pie Coconut Cream and it's so tiny. A wafer thin (any Monty Python fans out there) morsel of Coconut Cream pie. Surely I can fit this in. After fighting off my daughter I ate the pie and nearly exploded in the true sense of Monty Python's "Meaning of Life." If you haven't seen "Meaning of Life" don't it's pretty gross. If you have you get the idea.

We all had a great meal and will definitely try this restaurant again. Next time I may have pie first!

To see if there is a Golden Corral near you visit their website.

Store Hours
As a general rule all Golden Corral's are open 7 days a week. Specific hours and menu items may vary. Please call your local Golden Corral to verify days/hours of operation and menu offerings.

Lunch and Dinner 11am to 10 pm
Saturday Breakfast 7:30am to 11:00 am
Sunday Breakfast 7:30am to 11:00 am

My local restaurant is located in NORTH HIGHLANDS, CA, 4940 WATT AVENUE 95660.