Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Grandma Betty's English Trifle

This is a dessert that my English step-grandmother made when I was a child. It was my favorite, and she would make it for any occasion, even a simple weekend cookout. She passed away when I was 14, and I never had the chance to learn the recipe for myself, and of course, it wasn't written down anywhere. After some trial and error, I came up with this recipe on my own, and to everyone's delight, it tastes just like Grandma Betty's. I make it for special occasions and holidays.

Trifle custard (recipe below)
Pound cake, homemade if you have it, but frozen is fine
1 lb strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Amaretto, brandy, or other liqueur, to taste
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar

Trifle Custard
2 cups milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
4 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Combine milk and heavy cream in saucepan
; cook over low heat until warm.

2. Combine eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl;
whisk until combined well.

3. Slowly add about 1/4 of warm milk mixture
to eggs,whisking well.

4. Pour egg mixture into saucepan with
remaining milk, stir well

5. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until
mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon.
Remove from heat, add vanilla, and cool to room

While the custard cools, prep your other ingredients (or recruit a kid to do it for you, like I did)

Slice the pound cake...

and the strawberries...

and whip the heavy cream with the sugar until almost stiff.

Assembling the trifle

In a trifle bowl, layer pound cake and sprinkle it with liqueur...

then add 1/3 of the strawberries...

then 1/3 of the almonds..

and then 1/3 of the custard

Repeat layers twice more, and it should look like this:

Top it off with the sweetened whipped cream, and any leftover almonds, refrigerate for at least 4 hours, overnight if possible. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A week of Thanksgiving......Tuesday (yes, I skipped right over Monday)

I'm extremely thankful for my kids. I don't even know where to begin. They are my life; there's nothing else that I spend more time on. I know some mothers who often wonder what they'd be doing if they didn't have a family, but I've never even pondered that avenue. I know what I was made for, and it is this: life in Mommyville. I am amazed every day by their accomplishments, and often, their silly antics.

#1 is growing into a young woman, and it's awesome and yet sad to watch, all at once. She's smart, beautiful, and everything a daughter should be.

# 2 is the ray of sunshine in our lives. She's witty beyond her years, and never fails to bring smiles and laughter to us all. She is the also the MINI ME. She looks like me, she acts like me, and I can't count how many times she's heard "You are just like your Mother!" from her dad or grandparents. I think it's a good thing...

# 3 is my baby boy. He is ALL boy, too.
We must often remind him that his sisters
don't LIKE to "play" Iron Man, or
Transformers, or Spiderman, especially when they have to be the bad guy. I had to watch him go off to Kindergarten this year, and I miss him terribly. He is my last baby, the one that you watch grow every day, knowing that this is IT. He was the last resident of Babyville. And now he's growing up on me, too.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A week of Thanksgiving.......Sunday

Every day this week, I'll be posting about the many things I am thankful for, in no particular order.

Today, it's my Mom. She is my best friend, my confidant, my sounding board. She's my coffee buddy, my motivator, and my teacher. She's strong, she's hardworking, and I'm glad she's mine. She's my children's loving Mae Mae, their playmate, and their advocate when they've been naughty. My husband loves her; none of that typical mother-in-law stuff applies to her! Even our chihuahua prefers to stay on her lap when she's here. So, yes, I am so thankful to have a mom like mine.

What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanksgiving is almost here!

In our family, everyone contributes their best dishes to the turkey day dinner. My step-mom always cooks the turkey and gravy, and makes an awesome southern cornbread and sausage dressing - her father's recipe. I make dressing too, just a different kind (see recipe below). My mom makes a wonderful broccoli casserole, deviled eggs, and the pumpkin pies. I usually make a dessert as well, and often it's an English Trifle. I'll be posting that recipe tomorrow. My sister likes to make Brussels sprouts marinated in a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette...yummy! Then, of course, we always have sweet potatoes of some sort, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. What are some of your favorite dishes for this holiday? Comment and let me know what your family's specialties are.

My Dressing

This is pretty forgiving, but you will need to taste as you go.

  • cornbread, prepared and baked in 13 x 9 pan (I use two boxes of Jiffy corn muffin mix, prepared as directed for Johnny Cake), crumbled into chunks onto a sheet pan and lightly toasted
  • 1 loaf French or Italian bread, (crust on or off, you decide) cubed and toasted
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4-6 cups chicken stock or broth, low sodium
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cherries
  • rubbed sage, to taste
  • salt and pepper. to taste
  1. Place cherries in a small bowl, and cover with chicken stock. Let them soak a while.
  2. Place all of your cornbread and French bread cubes in a very large bowl, mixing them together well. If necessary, use two bowls, but be sure to divide evenly.
  3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add celery and onions, and cook slowly until tender. Do not brown the vegetables.
  4. Once the vegetables have softened, you want to add the seasonings to the skillet. I start with 1 teaspoon of sage, one tablespoon of salt, a 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. It will taste strong, but remember, there is a LOT of bread to soak up those flavors. And, this is just a starting point.
  5. Drain the cherries, and add them to the skillet mixture, stir well.
  6. Pour the skillet mixture over the bread (remember to divide evenly if using two bowls). Mix well.
  7. Now, we'll start adding the stock, a little at a time. Start with 1 1/2 cups, pouring it over the dressing, and stirring to incorporate. Keep adding stock until the dressing is sufficiently moist (This is also a matter of personal preference, some like a loose, almost batter-like consistency. I like mine moist, but still be able to identify all the ingredients).
  8. This is the time to taste. Make sure you get a little bit of everything on your spoon. Adjust the seasonings to your liking, and be sure to mix well.
  9. Pour into a greased casserole dish (it may take two dishes to hold it all), and bake alongside your turkey until heated through and evenly browned on top, about 45 minutes.
I always make mine a day ahead, and let it sit, covered in the fridge until time to bake it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I love the Fall!

I love when the weather turns cool, which around here doesn't happen until, well, right around now. It's not unusual to wear short sleeves and flip flops until Thanksgiving here in the Low Country of South Carolina. Lately we've had a bit of Fall weather, and we went outside to enjoy it. Here's #2, gearing up for a game of Monkey in the Middle with her brother and dad.
And here's #3, climbing the crab apple tree, in flip flops, no less!

This is a bird's nest we found in a crape myrtle.

Alas, no birdies, just fallen leaves.

These cool Autumn days won't last long. Here, we usually go from hot and humid to freezing cold in a flash. We'll enjoy it while it's here!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What if I were a HMS (home school momma)?

I've been dreaming of homeschooling my children for years now. Why haven't I started yet? Simple. Pure fear. Fear of the unknown, and mainly fear of failure. What if I can't teach my kids? What if we aren't disciplined enough to stick to it? What if we waste a year and learn nothing, only to thrust them back into school at a disadvantage? What if, what if, what if...

What if we go bankrupt paying for the private school they attend now? What if my kids grow farther away from us every day as they are influenced by their peers? What if I lose all those aha! moments when my kids learn something new, only to go unnoticed in a classroom of many?

What if I just bite the bullet and take my kids back? Yes, I am. I'm taking the rest of this school year to research and prepare, and get things in order. We are becoming a homeschooling family. What if it's great? What if it's the best thing we've ever done? It will be. I just know it.

If any of you homeschoolers out there have any advice to offer, please do. If I've learned anything lately, it's that there are a ton of homeschooling bloggers! Anything you can share about curriculum, discipline, organization, etc., please do so!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Old Red Barn Giving away 3 quilts!

Three beautiful quilts are yours to win! Get on over there and check it out. Click on the button on my sidebar to go there.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Life is Grand

You should write what you know, right? So, here we are in Mommyville. Mommy stuff? Now that, I know. I have three wonderful children. My oldest, #1, is twelve. My middle child, #2, is seven. Last but not least, #3 will soon be five. My husband D and I are your average folks, working to make a living and raise our kids the best way we can, and we just celebrated fifteen years together on the May 14. Sometimes I sit back and think about how lucky I am to love, and be loved, by these amazing people. Everyone should be so lucky as me.I'm at a point in my life where I've realized that it's time to stop taking things for granted. I'm making over my attitude and outlook on life. My kids are out for summer break soon, and I plan to make the most of it. Does that mean running hither and yon in the heat doing crazy stuff we don't normally do? No. It means turning the tv off, and reading a story to my kids (even #1!), camping in the backyard and roasting marshmallows, playing hide-and-seek in the dark outside, lazy days on the beach, making up stories together about our tomorrows, picking ripe tomatoes out of our garden, re-decorating a certain bedroom for a certain pre-teen, and acting silly for silliness' sake. Life is grand.