The Christmas Present

It is Christmas Eve.  As I look out my window I am greeted by a winter’s scene that could grace any Currier and Ives IMG_8114rChristmas Card.  I wanted to share a little from my heart this morning since we are in the season.  Isn’t it a shame that we don’t always feel we should be in this season?  Something about Christmas brings out the best in all of us.  I wanted to share about a very special present I received this year.  I want to give you a little back-round.  On Wednesday, November 20th I received a phone call informing me that a friend had just suddenly died, an apparent heart attack.  He was in his fifties and in good health.  I really just had a very sad feeling that I couldn’t shake.  I was at work but my heart wasn’t in it.  I just didn’t understand this at all.  A couple of hours later one of my dear customers from Cleveland came into our store.  I only see her once or twice a year.  She brought in a gift for me.  I couldn’t imagine what it could be.  I opened the present and to my surprise there was a beautiful Christmas vest made out of fleece.  She told me when she saw the vest she thought of me.  She said she thought I would get cold while I was working at the store.  I put the vest on, and suddenly I felt like God was watching out for me.  He was letting me know He was still in control.  I wear this vest almost every day.  Don’t worry I wash it about every night.  I feel so loved every time I put it on.

Hug your loved ones a little tighter this year, and maybe there is someone that you can give a “special” Christmas gift to this year.  You never know how your hands will be used.

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you.  I appreciate you more than you can ever know.

Until next time…From our Butcher Block to your Table.

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No Fail Pizza Crust

Some of you are probably a little skeptical by the title of my post.  Is there anyone else like me out there?  I can’t make a pie crust.  I have tried every “no fail” pie crust recipe there isMauri-1.  I have tried everyone’s aunt’s, grandmother’s, mother’s pie crust recipe, and guess what–they failed.  I am to the point that I won’t try another pie crust recipe.  I have a mental block about it.  I am resigned to making Pillsbury pie crusts for my pie creations.  With that said, I want to share a recipe for a pizza crust that is not only “no fail”, it is delicious.  If you have sworn off making home-made pizza crusts, try this one.  If you have a pie crust recipe for me, I will try it.

Pizza Crust
3 1/2 cups bread flour (Three Roses)
1 1/4 cups tepid waterphoto (9)
1 Tablespoon of Yeast
1 Teaspoon of Salt
2 Tablespoons of Sugar
3 Tablespoons of Virgin Olive Oil

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix until they are blended well and you can shape into a ball. Knead all for 3 minutes. Cover with a large bowl and let it rise for 1 1/2 hours.

Spread some of the olive oil on a large pizza pan. Spread the dough on the oiled pizza panphoto (8) and let rise again. Put additional olive Oil on the top. Put sauce and ingredients on the crust. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes. See if the crust looks done. Put on Extra Olive Oil and cheese and dry oregano, melt cheese in the oven.

This will be a family favorite–guaranteed!

By the way, the pie crust thing, my mom said I came by it naturally. My grandmother couldn’t make a pie crust. She had to use store-bought pie crusts. I can truthfully say that I use my grandmother’s secret recipe for pie crust.

Until next time…From our Butcher Block to your Table.

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Cooking for many–even if it’s just two

Yesterday was so bright, sunny and warm.  Today is a typical fall day–a little cool, a little Mauri-1damp.  I am so spoiled.  I know it’s going to cool down; However, I’m never quite prepared for it.  It never gets too warm for me.  It can be 100 degrees and I am outside enjoying every minute of it.  The Butcher, on the other hand, likes it a little cooler.  This is perfect weather for him.  Today I am sharing a little bit about “being prepared”.  Many of the things I share with you are not rocket science, they are just “common sense”.  Today I want to share some of my cooking strategies with you.  I always cook “big”, even if it is just the two of us.  First of all, if you are making something that takes a lot of time, why not cook a double batch?  You can freeze half of it, pull it out of the freezer and have a delicious meal without doing all of the work.  Chili, spaghetti, stuffed peppers, sauerkraut and pork, roast beef and enchiladas are just a few meals that are easy to make and put in the freezer.

This past Sunday when it was so warm and beautiful we grilled out.  We grilled out chicken breasts and boneless pork cutlets.  My whole grill was full; However, last night I photo (44)took the chicken breasts and heated them up in the oven with barbecue sauce and voila, barbecued chicken without the fuss.  We had Seiberling’s corn last night.  That is something else I am going to miss.

Tonight we will have grilled chicken cut up over salad.  Again, no muss–no fuss.  I like having home cooked meals, and I also like having time.  This way you get the best of both worlds.

Enjoy this fall week.  Plan your menus so that when it is nice, you don’t have to be slaving in a kitchen.  You can pull something out of the reserves in your freezer.

Until next time…From our Butcher Block to your Table.

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Paw Prints on the Heart

It was the warm compassionate dark brown eyes that first caught my attention.  I can’t Mauri-1believe it was nearly 14 years ago that the Butcher and I got our Jack Russell Terrier, Callie Rose.  She was a very special dog.  We got her in the fall.  I would rake leaves, put her on the plastic with the leaves and give her a ride to the road and unload the leaves.  She would never wander away from me.  She and I would walk every day, and I mean every day.  It would be so cold her feet would get iced up.  I would have to pick her up and carry her until her feet thawed out and then she was right back on the ground.  We always walked the same 2 mile route.  In fact she knew the route by heart.  When she got frightened during storms, firecrackers or gunfire she would walk the route by herself.  That gave us some scares photo (27)over the years.

She was good around all people.  She received certification to go into nursing homes as a therapy dog. She was always so patient and good with everyone.

She was a champion ball handler.  She would take a basketball and put on quite an exhibition.  She would roll the ball around and bounce it off of her nose.  She was a dog equivilant of the Harlem Globetrotters.  Everyone who saw her performances was amazed.

Unfortunately, Callie Rose’s health began failing in May.  We took her to the vet, and he photoruled out diabetes.  She was losing weight.  We told the vet we didn’t want to do anything extraordinary.  She was almost 14 years old.  She had led a good life.  We weren’t ready to say good-bye, but we weren’t going to prolong a life that was less than full for Callie Rose.  One thing I was really sad about was the fact she was not going to be able to walk the route with me anymore.  Two weeks ago I was walking the route.  I was about 1 1/2 miles into the walk when I felt a nudge.  I looked down and there was Callie Rose.  She had walked the route and caught up with me.  I carried her the rest of the way.

On Monday, Callie Rose went to her reward.  We miss her so much.  She definitely left her paw prints on our hearts.

Until Next time…

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