Come on baby, light my fire- recycled fire starters

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My favorite time of year is any time I get to sit by a crackling fire.  It’s one of my favorite parts of camping and if you put the words “bonfire” on an invitation I will almost certainly be present. There is just something so magical about the ambiance a fire creates and the moments that occur when you are under its flickering light. 

Once the holidays roll around there can be no doubt that it is time to build a fire and gather round for cups of homemade nog to share the year’s memories and stories.   When the time has come to strike that match, I have a wonderful fire-starter project made out of your old toilet paper rolls and dryer lint!

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I have started to keep a little box by the dryer to collect the lint throughout the year and a little pail in my restroom to save the toilet paper rolls.  Simply fill the cardboard rolls with lint and stash near your fireplace.  

When needed, light the lint and you have a long-burning fire starter! These are great to stash in your camp box too!

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Keep your home fires burning!

-Marcella Rose

When life gives you miniature apples….make cider silly!

I have recently relocated to Ashland, Oregon and my hubby found the sweetest little two story prewar rental for us that fits me like panna cotta in a tea cup!  The yard came with some rouge blackberry bushes as well as a yellow plum and apple trees that have been sadly neglected over the years.  This is apple tree is trying so hard to produce fruit but only bore us little mini apples.  I thought it would be sad if I didn’t try to make something with all the effort that little tree gave.  The apples were stunningly sweet and so I knew I had to make some of my favorite hot apple cider.

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Ingredients 

  • 1 gallon non-filtered apple juice
  • 2 cinnamon tea bags
  • 2 black tea bags
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • The juice from two oranges and lemons
  • Slices of 1/2 an orange and 1/2 a lemon for garnish

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Directions

Place all juices in a stock pot and bring to a boil add spices and tea bags and take cider heat down to a simmer. A great tip is to place the tea and spices in a sachet and place in the pot to keep all the goodies contained in the cooking vessel and not in your guests glasses.

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Once the cider has mingled with the tea and spices for at least 15 minutes serve to your guests in a hot mug with or without a splash of whiskey or rum for add fun!

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Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Crisp Apple Coleslaw and Whiskey Fig Spread

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Seriously.  I speak the truth.  This is one wicked sandwich! The bonus is the Whiskey Fig Spread; the leftover is fantastic to serve with a cheese platter or to spread basically on anything.  My favorite is to use it on a nice chicken sandwich on crusty bread.  Oh the insanity of goodness!! 

Now don’t let this pork freak you out. There are a few steps but one of my favorite things to do is pop it in the oven on my way out to work and let it roast all day when you come home it’s done roasting and ready for the sauce.

Ingredients

Dry Rub:

  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 1 3 lb pork roast, shoulder or butt

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In Ashland we have been recently blessed with one damn fine butcher; Boulton & Son.  This shop is not only stunningly set up with so many delicious items and ultra-local products but the help is second to none.  The boys behind that counter can’t wait to share their knowledge and knowhow and even let you have a taste or two.  Seriously, if you need meat this is your place.  For those not in Ashland take the time to seek out your local butcher; you won’t regret it! 

 

Directions 

Place all items for the run together and mix.  Feel free to add and delete or change items to suit your personal tastes! Take ingredients and get in a get a little friendly with your pork, give it a nice rub down.  For added flavor you can put the pork in the fridge to let it get acquainted with the rub overnight.   If you don’t have time, don’t stress,  place the pork in a roasting pan and throw it in the oven at 300 degrees F for 6 hours.  For an 8 or 9-hour time turn the oven to 250.  

 Fig Whiskey Spread

Dice one onion and place around pork along with about 20 figs to bake with the pork.  When the pork is done take all the figs and onion and place in a blender along with all the juices from the pork and puree.  Add whiskey (or beef stock) as needed until the ingredients create a thick spread.  

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Apple Cider Barbecue Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 cup brown mustard
  • 1/4 cup molasses 
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Let all ingredients simmer together for 10 minutes or until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once the pork is done remove from oven and let cool until you can handle it, then with two forks begin shredding and add to sauce.  

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Crisp Apple Coleslaw

  • One head of cabbage shredded
  • 2 apples cut into match sticks- see photo

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For dressing

  • The juice on one lemon or lime
  • Two tablespoons honey or sugar
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise 
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix all together and serve along side the pork with buns and spread! Delish!!

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Constellation Cans

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The weather has begun to change and there is a bit of a chill in the air.  The sun is setting earlier and the street lights are coming on sooner.  I was looking for a project to bring a little whimsey and warmth to my home, to invite those holiday guests into the cozy warmth of our home.  To guide their way to our door and into the glow of the fall season.  

I came up with this easy craft project that I am calling constellation cans.  They can be as complicated, by using stencils to guide your design, or as easy, by simply punching willy nilly, as you would like!  You could even paint them to reflect your mood or event theme. 

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These would look so stunning lighting a path or glowing on the porch of your home.  For you urbanites they would look stunning casting a whimsical glow on the city from inside your apartment on the windowsills.  I personally am looking forward to having them grace the table for a winter wonderland centerpiece.  

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You will need

Cleaned tin cans- what a wonderfully lovely way to recycle!

A three inch scratching awl or nails of varying size and a hammer

Candles

Paper, pencil, tape if using a stencil

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To do

If using a stencil, cut and measure your pattern to fit to the can.  Secure your tin cans on a padded surface.  Begin punching with the awl letting its graduated shape create smaller holes by not punching so deep or wider holes by really pressing.  If you are using varying nails and a hammer it is best to freeze the tin full of water to protect the integrity of the can’s shape.  

To create a lantern punch the bottom of the tin can and invert it over the candle, to create a candle holder leave the bottom unpunched and place candle inside.  You could also create a hanging holder by attaching wire and creating a loop to hang.  The possibilities for these little guys are endless! 

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I found personally I liked the results of punching all over the can and creating a more free and whimsical pattern or what I am calling the constellation effect. 

Happy crafting! And do please share pictures of your projects!

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Do you believe in Cheeses??

It’s Friday night and I don’t know about you but I am having friends over for some socializing, light refreshments and perhaps a game or two.  Tonight I will be setting out a cheese board with some crackers and a few nibbles and I thought I would let you in on how I make this quick, simply and lovely snack for casual gatherings.

Cheese plates are so easy and can be made with any budget! There are lots of resources out there about building the perfect arrangement with strong guidelines and advice but I like to keep it simple and fun so I play with contrasting consistency and flavors. It makes it entertaining for me and for the tasters, my guests.  Any fancy grocery store will have a cheese counter with people eager to help so if you are intimidated let their knowledge be your guide!  It’s so fun to get advice and even a little sample while you chat about cheese with people who make it their job. These places, a lot of times, have little blurbs accompanying the cheese and that helps me make new choices, which I love! The most important thing to remember is that you can’t fail! I mean it’s cheese, it’s just delicious!   So be brave, be bold, and try something new!

For this party I have set out a selection of crackers to go with my cheeses, I always like to choose one gluten free option for those who have intolerance.  I have also set out some plain sea salt crackers so that the bold cheese really shines and some fun rye crackers with fig and olives to give that burst of flavor and some excitement for the more mellow cheeses.  Along with the crackers I have several nibbles, some almonds,  a few sweet cherry peppers, and a lovely olive called picholine, they are so thick and full of flavor!

Now for the cheese plate!  When I choose cheeses I like to choose a selection of varying intensities and textures.  I normally follow this guideline; one mild, one soft, one semi, one hard, one bold.  Sometimes I choose less options by making one cheese do double duty like tonight I am serving a mild and creamy triple cream.   For the get together tonight I plated the following;

  • Goat cheese wrapped around roasted pears- this one is new to me and looked delicious and so autumnal!
  • Smokey Blue- I love a blue cheese for its depth and tang so I normally include one on my cheese boards.
  • Triple Cream- a crowd pleaser if there ever was one, it’s like brie, times three!
  • Truffel Cheese- I tried this at a party not too long ago and feel in love…such divine flavor!
  • Manchego- this is my hard cheese for the plate tonight it is a goat cheese from spain.

I cannot resist a dried meat to save my life and tonight I am plating two along side my cheeses, a spicy Italian soppressata from San Francisco and a salami covered in Herbs de Provence..yes please!

For plating I use a nice big cutting board and arrange the cheeses, meats along with any sides or spreads that are to accompany the cheese.  I also have a few small dishes for nibbles and crackers on the side~ nothing beats a good serving dish!

On the side for spreading I have a fig compote that I made last night along a slow baked pork for pulled pork sandwiches…it is insane~ the flavor blending of caramelized onions with the roasted figs and that hint of luscious pork, holy moly! I will be posting the recipe in the next week or so, make sure to follow my blog and you will be sure not to miss it!  I also quickly sautéed some sage leaves in butter, it’s lovely little side that my dear friend Jessica served with her cheeses and it brings such a warm fall flavor that I have stated doing it too!

So with a fun trip to the supermarket and 15 minutes in the kitchen arranging you have a stunning spread that is sure to please the palate and the eyes of your guests!   It’s also easy to make ahead and pop in the fridge.  Then when the guests arrive voila you have a divine spread at the ready!

Happy Entertaining!