All posts by Callie Ham

The Best Spice in the World

McCormick’s Montreal Steak seasoning is my favorite all purpose use everyday spice.  As you can see I have a 1 lb container that I can use to my liking!  I think it could be used when cooking almost anything.   I would like to share one of my favorite staple recipes.  It is very simple and tasty.

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Ingredients:

Russet Potatoes
Olive Oil
McCormick’s Montreal Steak Seasoning
Veggie of choice (optional)

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Clean and chop potatoes and veggies into bite size chunks.  This time I used brussel sprouts but broccoli or onions are both good options as well.  If you don’t want any veggies you can also just do the potatoes.  Put the chopped potatoes and veggies into your pan.  Drizzle with olive oil, then cover with the seasoning.  Wash your hands and then mix the olive oil, seasoning and potatoes all together so that it is mixed well.  Then sprinkle another layer of seasoning on the top.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour turning once.

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I don’t want to give exact measurements because I never measure when I make this dish and depending on how much you would like to make it will change how much olive oil and seasoning you will use.  This can be used as a side dish and left overs can be cooked with eggs in a scramble for breakfast.

Another option for this recipe is to use Lemon Pepper, which is another staple at my house.  Does anyone have a favorite spice that I should try?

-Callie Ham

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Read for Entertainment Only

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Image from:

http://www.evanovich.com/novels/plum-series/explosive-eighteen/

There are many reasons that people read books.  Some people read because they want to learn something new.  Some read because they want to be transported to a different time and place, others  because they enjoy a good story.  The list goes on and on.  I read different books for different reasons, but I read Janet Evanovich for entertainment only.  I just finished reading Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich.  I have been reading this series of books for quite a few years.  As you can tell by the title it is the Eighteenth book in the series.  I would recommend these books to anyone who enjoys reading simple humorous mysteries.  They take place in a suburb of Jersey called the Burg.  My favorite part of these books are the characters.  The main character Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter that is scared of guns and lives alone in a small apartment with her hamster.  In every book Stephanie is going between two men; Morelli who she has known her whole life who is a cop that is always involved in the mystery that she ends up solving and Ranger who is also a bounty hunter/security business owner and bails Stephanie out of numerous binds.  Then there is Lula who is a very large black woman who dresses in skin tight clothes and is an ex-prostitute.  Stephanie’s grandma is also a really amusing character who always carries a gun and goes to a funeral weekly for social reasons.  Through 18 books the characters have really taken on personalities and behave in expected ways and it is fun to see what they will say and do next in each new situation.   In every book Stephanie manages to catch her skips, blow up at least one car and solve the big mystery, all the while seems incompetent and in general a hot mess.  One of my favorite scenes from the books is from the 9th book when Lula decides that she is going to go on a diet in which she only eats bacon.  She starts carrying bacon in her purse and she gets chased down the street by a pack of wild dogs.  Needless to say that was the end of that diet for Lula.  Explosive Eighteen was a little weak on humorous happenings per usual but I am willing to keep reading on in hopes for further entertainment.  I would recommend reading them in order because you can see the development of the characters.  If you are interested in reading them, check it out:

http://www.evanovich.com/novels/plum-series/

-Callie Ham

Refashioned Jean Skirt

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I had some jeans that were a little too small in the thighs so I decided I was going to make a new jean skirt out of them.  All you need to do this is a sewing machine, a small piece of fabric and a pair of jeans that you would like to refashion for whatever reason.

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As you can see in the picture first you need to cut the jeans to about the length you want.  It is always better to cut off less and then adjust.  Next the inseam needs to be cut apart.  Then all you need to do is cut your scrap fabric to the size you want.  The larger you make the scrap fabric the wider the skirt will be.  Then you can decide what you want to do with the seam that is already in the jeans.  I decided I liked the look of the seam so I left it in the skirt.

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After you have the front the way you want it the back seam needs to be sewn together.  I turned the skirt inside out for the look that is in the picture above.  There was a lot of extra fabric and as I said before it is better to cut less and then adjust to the size you need.  I also sewed around the bottom but it could also be left for a frayed look.

-Callie Ham

Duck Noodle Soup

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On a whim for New Year’s Eve dinner I decided I was going to roast a whole duck.  It was much easier than I thought it would be; much like a turkey but less time and I went with Asian spices: lemongrass, ginger, garlic and spring onion.  As with most large pieces of meat there were a lot of left overs and my husband and I don’t tend to eat the same meal over and over again before it spoils.  I decided I was going to use all the left overs to create a recipe similar to my Mom’s recipe for Chicken Noodle Soup. So some of the credit for this recipe should go to her.  This is what I did:

For the duck stock:

  • 2-3 celery stalks with flowers
  • duck carcass

After we were done eating I took the left over duck carcass and covered it with water in a large stock pot and added a few stalks of celery with flowers and brought it to a boil and then let it simmer on the stove for about 2 hours.  It is done when all of the meat has fallen off of the carcass and it is has generally smaller pieces of meat and bone.  Strain and save the liquid.  Look through the strained pieces and throw away fatty pieces of meat, bone and celery.  Put the good pieces of meat back into the duck stock.  Refrigerate until you are ready to make the soup.

For Duck Noodle Soup:

  • 3-5 carrots chopped
  • 3-5 celery stalks chopped
  • onion chopped
  • 2 inches fresh ginger grated (or to taste)
  • 2-4 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 small packages of frozen egg noodles (or 1 large package)
  • Previously made duck stock

Skim the fat off of the top of the refrigerated duck stock.  Add carrots, celery, onion, ginger, and garlic and bring to a boil and let simmer for about an hour, up to 2 hours.  If you let it simmer longer the flavors meld together and it tastes better.  When the vegetables are soft taste the stock and add salt and pepper to taste and egg noodles.  Cook the egg noodles according the package directions.

This recipe makes A LOT of soup.  I froze half of it.  It tends to taste better after it has been refrigerated over night but it is good the same day as well.

-Callie Ham