Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Warm Food on a Cold Day

We woke up this morning to a really good snowstorm. It snowed hard for about two hours, and was snowing when I left to go to the Church about 8:45. It was such a pretty drive, with the big thick snowflakes, that we haven't seen all year. I noted that it was 36 degrees. But just a little while later, it was raining hard (which it has continued to do all day) and only 33 degrees. Does that make sense to you? Weather is really not understandable, no wonder they have such a hard time predicting it. It is just good to know that God makes the weather each day, and we can just stand in that truth, and enjoy it. I do love a rainy day, it's pounding on my skylights right now, and it also makes me want some good hot comfort food. One type of meat that has been really popular for the last couple of years is pork loin. It takes a good marinade to make it flavorful, and I am going to print out a couple of my favorites.

Marinade #1
1/2 Onion, chopped
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
1/4 C Fresh Lemon juice
1/2 C Soy Sauce
1/2 C Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 C Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Rosemary
1/2 teaspoon Marjoram
1/2-1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning (to taste)

Marinade #2
3/4 C Olive Oil
1/2 C Soy Sauce
1/4 C warmed Honey
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
3-4 Sliced Green Onion
1/2-1 teaspoon Ginger
3-4 cloves of Garlic, minced

For either of these, place ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Place 2-3 lb pork loin (or more) in a large zip lock bag and add the marinade. Seal and shake to distribute. Place the loins in a dish and refrigerate. 24 hours is best, but it can be up to 48 hours as well. You do have to think ahead on this.

 Here are my two loin pieces, placed in the marinade and ready for the refrigerator. It is good to turn them over after several hours, so that both side marinate evenly. By the way, Marinade #2 is for a larger cut of loin, so if you need just a small piece cut the recipe in half.

When it's time to cook, remove the loin from the bag and discard the remaining marinade. Put the loin on a rack in a shallow cooking dish, like the one above if you are going to bake it in the oven. It is also a good idea to line the pan with foil for easy clean-up. Pork loin is also really good grilled on the barbecue, and I will give directions for that at the end. I tend to oven bake this in the fall/ winter, and grill in the spring/summer.

Put the meat into a pre-heated 450 degree oven, and immediatly  turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Roast until the internal temperature shows 170 degrees on a meat thermometer (it doesn't take all that long). Take it out of the oven, tent with foil and let stand about 15 minutes to distribute the juices.

Carve and enjoy the meat. It is juicy and tender and has great flavor with the marinade. *For grilling, place on a pre-heated hot grill and barbecue for 10-15 minutes per side or until 170 degrees internally. I like to quit the cooking process when it is still just a bit pink, and let it finish cooking under the foil, as it sits for the additional 15 minutes. It remains a bit juicier that way. Enjoy it on a cold snowy/rainy day!

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Quiet Escape

 Last week, the insurance man and I were able to get away for a few days to the Oregon Coast. What wonderful weather we had for January! It was cool, but bright, clear, and sunny, with no wind. Not even enough to fly our kite. It's rare to have the sky completely clear, day and night, but it was and we enjoyed it. We got in several really great walks on the sand, watching the waves. They were small-ish when we arrived, but bigger each day. We actually just got the best weather right up until we left last Saturday, with a monster storm approaching, in sheets of wind-driven rain, and the crashing of much, much bigger surf . We made it home and over the pass before the snow, but they did have snow on the sand that night, a fairly rare occurrence. We stayed at the home a friend inherited in Lincoln City, just two blocks from the beach, with a great access. It was so nice to have a whole home to stretch out and relax in.

We mostly ate in, as there was a complete, fully-equipped kitchen, but we did go to one of our favorites for lunch one day. We almost always go to the Otis Cafe for breakfast, but this trip it fit in our schedule to go at lunchtime. 
 It is just a few miles east of Lincoln City, at the 'big' town of Otis. It has been a favorite spot to stop for many years. I had a white cheddar tuna melt on home-made bread, with a truly gigantic chocolate milkshake, made like they used to in the 'good ol' days'....enough for both of us. The insurance man couldn't resist having his breakfast favorite...sausage gravy over home-made hash browns, a big plate full. Not a healthy eating place, even if it is all natural. Every thing's full of butter, cream, cheese....you know all the good stuff! It was full on a Wednesday, 14 of us in there...including the four guys with burgers at the counter.

The house was quiet, peaceful and just what we needed for taking the stress level down a few notches after the holidays. I actually took this photo for JoAnn, because her favorite colors are purple (or lavender) and green. There was purple (or plum or eggplant depending on which generation you are) all over the house, which suited me just fine.

The irony of this picture is that the insurance guy had to hold my coffee container so I could take his picture, smile. He just loves doing that....But again, sweatshirt weather on the beach in January...an unexpected blessing.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mom!

 Today is January 15th, my Mom's birthday. She was born Susie Erskine in 1927, the 8th of eight children born to Guy and Mabel Erskine. There are no baby photos of her, and the one above is the earliest we have. She is in the arms of her oldest brother Art, and I love the adoring look on his face.

 She is posing with her Uncle George's airdale pup in this photo. She is in grade school here.

 Here she is with her Uncle George Kuentzel at the time she graduated from Queen Anne High School in Seattle. Most of the boys in her graduating class had already left to fight in WW II.

 She married my Dad, Frank Vernon on March 12, 1946 in Seattle, right after the war had ended. Her best friend June was her maid of honor, and her brother Harold was Frank's best man.

 Here she is as one happy bride, on her honeymoon along the Oregon Coast.

 Four years later, she had her first baby, me. And four years after that my brother Joe was born. Susie never worked outside the home. She took care of her family and extended family all her life, and worked hard.

 Frank and Susie in Seattle.

 Later, Susie became a Grandma to five little girls, whom she dearly loved. Here she is with Julie, after we brought her home from the hospital. (Julie, is wearing the 'coming home' outfit, that my babies wore home, and all of Joy and Julie's have now worn...)

I wanted to honor her life today, and wish her a Happy Birthday. 
Susie Erskine Vernon, January 15, 1927-January 5, 2000.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Already Memories

Christmas 2011 is already but a memory. But I am just getting to sorting and printing my photos today, and I thought I'd take a minute to download a few of the highlights of the past month.

 The month started out with my birthday on the 1st, and the insurance man and JoAnn took me out for breakfast for a pumpkin scone and coffee.

 Shortly after that, granddaughter Kory turned 18 on Dec. 7th and we took her to Tacoma to see a musical version of the Christmas Carol, which was just wonderful. Here she is with our daughter Joy.

 This is Joy & Kirk's HUGE beautiful, live Christmas tree, that they cut down on some friends' property.

 We had such a good time with Joy and her family for the week-end, and here we are after a performance of their 'Singing Christmas Tree' in which Joy, Kirk and Kory all performed. My cousin Beckie brought her mom from Vancouver, and we all had a great time.

 We hosted many dinners and enjoyed the company of friends and family throughout the month.

My in-laws and brother and sister-in-law all came for the Messiah Concert, and we stopped for a photo op at the Theatre.

 On Christmas morning we enjoyed our stockings, traditional breakfast of Sausage Souffle and home-made applesauce, and a gift exchange after the morning Church service. JoAnn is currently enjoying this musical collection of Loudon Wainwright.

 Joy and her family came over for New Year's Eve week-end, and we had another gift exchange with them. Here is granddaughter Macy, opening up her new penguin bathrobe.

 Later on Christmas Day we drove to Burns, to celebrate there with the insurance man's family. His Mom had set such a pretty table for our 'next' Christmas dinner.

 JoAnn had fun sharing some new crocheting stitches with Grandma...

 and the insurance man shared a Christmas hug with his Dad.

 On New Year's Eve we had a few friends over for a party to celebrate the New Year. Macy is really getting into it with necklace and hat. But her favorite part was the 'blower' that made noise!

 Some of our New Year's party food...it was really good, but we are still eating the left-overs. Good to remember for next time!

Kory brought her boyfriend Sam with the family...a first for her and for us. He was so nice, and fit right in. We all had a really nice week-end.  Thanks for going through the memories with me...and hope that your December was really fun and provided you with some good memories too.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Solitary January

January is actually one of my favorite months. Everything seems minimalized, especially activities. It is my time to hibernate, after the whirlwind that is November and December. I have spent this first week cleaning up and putting away everything from Christmas and New Years and watching football. It's Thursday and I'm almost finished. There is no garden work for the next couple months, no busy social schedule and more time for the projects I love and need to do. I am not a people person at heart, and after weeks of social activities and family and friends I crave some much needed solitude. I am reminded of the times Jesus took out for solitude and prayer. We all need some time to rejuvenate and refresh, and January is my special time to  indulge that craving. I don't always get a quiet January, as sometimes there are more important things on the docket, like the birth of a new grandson last January, or my Mom to care for in her last days. But this year God has cleared my calendar, and I am very much looking forward to the next few weeks. The insurance man and I have a quiet trip to the winter Oregon Coast planned, partly as a retreat to review and refine our 2012 budget and finances, and partly some time to be alone together. I have a couple of sewing projects: 1) a quilt needs repair that I made 20+ years ago from pieces from my maternity outfits, and toddler clothing, 2) I have a piece of flannel that is begging to be made into a nightgown for my granddaughter Macy and 3) a quilt top made by my great-grandmother for my mother in 1938 that needs to be quilted after all these years. My family history research has been left undone for too long, and I can't wait to get back into it. I have some writing to get back to, and finally several scrapbook projects including: finishing up an album featuring Julie's school years, our vacation last fall to the Grand Canyon and finally in the Asmussen family history I am working on an album of the life of my father-in-law. Actually as I look through this list I'm not sure I see the minimalization, but I think it is just exchanging and finding time for other projects....which brings me back to January and the time for indoor, quiet projects. The above photo is one I have kept for many years and always get out in January to remind me to be quiet, to slow down and to enjoy the indoors. May you be blessed in this new season, and find some time to be quiet and enjoy solitude and projects.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Yeah Huskies!

When I was growing up in Seattle, I was the one selected to accompany my Dad to football games at the University of Washington Huskie Stadium. My Mom did NOT love football, and my younger (by 4 years) brother was too little. What fun Dad and I had, and those games instilled in me a life-long love for college football. The first time the Huskies played in a New Years Rose Bowl after I was married, found me in a bowling alley. The guys were at home watching the big game, and my sister-in-law had taken me in tow to go out and do something 'fun' with the rest of the girls in the family. Fortunately for me, the bowling alley had a small TV mounted to the wall by the concessions, and I remember well standing there totally absorbed in the game for several hours. It was the first Rose Bowl win for the Dawgs in the Don James era, and my sister-in-law was totally frustrated with me. 
Since I have been a transplanted Oregonian for 40 years now, I do love to watch the Ducks and Beavs, but my heart remains with the Huskies. 


 This week is a happy one in our household. All the college football bowl games are being won and lost, and seasons are ending. For the Washington Huskies, their season ended in the Alamo Bowl last Friday night. But what a way to go! It was the most entertaining game I have seen in several years. I am not ashamed to admit that I love a good offensive game. (Not so hot on watching long, boring defensive games) And this was the grand-daddy of offensive games....almost more of an exhibition game. Two great quarterbacks, going head to head with superb athletic plays, big passes and smart playing. The end score looked more like a basketball score, but the game was close and so much fun. Though the Huskies did not win, they played much better than I would have expected in a much anticipated and highly touted bowl game. They played Baylor University, and the opposing quarterback was the Heisman Trophy winner for 2011. Both teams need some work on their defenses for sure, but oh what fun for fans of great offense. Can't wait for next season!