Who Is Anastasia?

My photo
New Castle, Indiana Zone 5, United States
When I was 55, I decided to embrace the things I love and hold precious and dear - regardless of anyone else's thoughts and opinion. I am a folk artist who loves flowers - my own flowers, grown by me. I love good, hearty, exotic foods, and I love to prepare them myself. I love the secret garden situated in my backyard, regardless of how junky it gets. No longer able to afford a vacation, this will have to be it for the time being. In the winter months, I still enjoy it. Anyway, here I am sharing my art, favorite recipes, cocktails, gardening tips, and just my usual vents and bantering. After all, I'm old enough to say whatever the heck I want to now ... Oh, the two pictures below are NOT of my garden, although the one with the pink French doors looks very much like the backyard I grew up with. I am searching for pictures of that wonderful place and will post soon.

JEWELS OF MY SOUL

JEWELS OF MY SOUL
My Book Available on AMAZON

Stacey Torres ART Prints

Stacey Torres ART Prints
A very limited selection of reproductions from my paintings can be found here

August 26, 2009

Lemon Drop Bread


Gracious, gracious, good gracious! I have to try this soon - Already bought the lemon drops at the dollar store!

Lemon Drop Bread

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Easy Tomato Basil Bisque


















Another soup, and it's still August? Sure. Tomato Basil Bisque is the perfect soup to have on a warm, hot or chilly day - all of which we here in Indiana are experiencing this August. With the weather being so unpredictable this year, this soup offers us some comfort. It's refreshing, light, and very, very tasty. Perfect with a salad and sourdough bread with pesto!

3 cups peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth or chicken broth
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

1. In blender container combine tomatoes, vegetable or chicken broth, and tomato sauce. Cover and blend until smooth. Stir in basil. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 4 side-dish servings.

This recipe is from Better Homes & Gardens

My Greek Chicken Soup


This is a delicious and savory dish that is both warm and wholesome; it's a great soup to serve to company as a main dish with some nice cheesy bread - a soothing comfort food with a kick!

I love chicken soup, and it is a hearty staple in my home. My grandmother used to make a chicken soup that had every vegetable and flavor imaginable all in one pot. She even left the bones in the soup, as most of the good flavor and nutrients came from the marrow. This soup is warm and satisfying any time of the year

Greek Chicken Soup

1/4 c olive oil
1/4 tsp celery salt
2 tbsps sambuca liqueur
2 quarts chicken broth
2 medium carrots, sliced
½ cabbage shredded
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp sliced fresh garlic
8-10 tbsps crumbled feta cheese (optional)
2 dashes hot pepper sauce
3 c washed & sliced fresh spinach
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 c shredded cooked chicken
2 c cooked wild rice
2 large Vidalia onions, sliced
1/2 cup sliced celery
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 tsp crushed peppercorns

In a large saucepan, sauté the carrots, cabbage, celery, onion, green and red bell peppers and garlic in oil over medium heat or flame until vegetables are tender.

Add the Sambuca and lemon juice, then sauté about five minutes. Add the broth, chicken, peppercorns, hot pepper sauce, white pepper, celery salt & spinach. Simmer for 20 minutes before adding the cooked rice. Once you have 'bowled' everything up, you can garnish each bowl with a tablespoon of cheese.

August 23, 2009

Winter Sowing - My Secret Passion


Several years ago, I discovered a process called winter sowing, wherein you actually plant seeds (winter soltice is a popular day), outside in the snow, in little containers - anything from milk jugs, foil carry out containers, margarine tubs, etc., and you get the most incredible strong, sturdy and lush plants in the Spring. The thing is, like anything in nature, it is hit and miss; sometimes they work, often they do not. Most of my rugosa roses were sown this way, as were a lot of my perennials.

That darn Butter n' Eggs is still strangling everything in my old rose bed, and I'm ticked off about that ... sorry to vent

Anyway, click on the link above, and it tells how to do this. You can also do some vegetables this way.

The thing is, you save tons of money on plants - no need to pay for seedlings/plants; this helps relieve your mid-winter gardening itch; and in the Spring, you're ahead of the game.

Whatever you do, DO NOT BRING THESE CONTAINERS INSIDE, REGARDLESS HOW COLD, HOW MUCH SNOW, HOW MUCH ICE OR WIND YOU GET! The process is a hardening off thingee - my technical term - but, you will be amazed at the results. Rule of thumb; perennials true to your zone will work; annuals that reseed in your area will work. Annuals, are often not sown until the end of Feb. or early March.

The photo above is NOT mine, it belongs to Kasmira, of cinticapecod.blogspot.com/2007_03_01_archive.html Please check out her Cincinnati-Cape Cod Blog - It's delightful!

Fuzzy Navel Shotcakes

Went to a party last night for a small group of friends, about 375 of us, and made little 'shotcakes' ... Once again, I forgot to take pictures!!!

Fuzzy Navel Shotcakes

1 Box Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix
3 Jumbo Eggs
1/4 C Oil
Substitute Tampico Peach Punch for Water (per measurements on box)
1/4 C Peach Tree Schnapps
1 Pkg. Orange Jello (any cheap-azz brand will do)
1 Tub Blended Peach Yogurt

Combine all ingredients and pour into paper lined muffin tins (mini size for shots). Bake at 350 degrees for - here's the crazy part - about 10-12 minutes for shot size - you'll have to check it, and because there's so much stuff in here, the toothpick test may deceive you. Trial and Error here - sorry.

While still hot out of the oven, pierce the tops of each cake with a sharp knife. Top with Glaze (make the glaze while they are baking).

Glaze = 1 Jar Orange Marmalade & 1/4 C Peach Tree Schnapps

Then let the cupcakes cool on a rack. Once they are cool you add the icing. Icing? Yes, icing - I omitted the icing yesterday because of the dampness and humidity; didn't think they'd hold up well outdoors, so I just left stopped with the glaze.

Icing:

1/2 lb Butter
10 level Tablespoon Crisco
1 can Eagle Brand Milk*
1 cup Powdered Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Peach Tree Schnapps

Butter should be room temp.
Beat Butter and Crisco together until creamy (Do NOT use butter flavored Crisco)
Add the Eagle Brand Milk, beat on high till creamy.
Add Powdered Sugar and Schnapps, beat 3 more minutes

Dump into a strong ziplock back and cut a tiny corner off one end. Squeeze to pipe a circular pattern on cupcake, leaving a tiny bit of glaze peeking in the center.

*Just a note, if any recipe calls for Eagle Brand Milk, it's not an advertisement; there's a reason, and I don't know what it is, but some recipes, i.e., NY Cheesecake, etc., will not come out right unless you use Eagle Brand - go figure.

(Keep in mind; I tweak all my recipes, and rarely do them the same way twice) Depending on your oven, you may have to experiment with cooking times because the tiny cupcakes do NOT bake the same way as the standard size; which, I believe would serve this particular cupcake better. The concentration of sugar from the cake and the liqueur may be a bit much for everyone's tastes. Enjoy Y'all ...

August 21, 2009

A Mid-August Friday in the Garden





What's winding down? Everything - But wonder of wonders, my early blooming (spring) Delphinium Magic Fountains are coming back again!
But, today, I found blue petunias, Casa Blanca Lilies and Seafoam Roses with Queen Anne's Lace; I expect all of these to hang around until the first serious frost comes to town.

August 19, 2009

Easy Summer Pies

These are my favorite (easy) SUMMER PIES!

Topless Blueberry/Blackberry Pie
3/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 pinch salt
1 cup water
2 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh blackberries
1 tablespoon butter
1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked

In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir in water and 1 cup of mixed berries. Cook and stir over medium heat, until thick, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.
Add butter and let cool about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining berries.
Pour into baked pie shell and cool in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours.

Easy Limeade Pie
1 (6 ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (8 ounce) frozen container nondairy whipped topping (Cool Whip, etc.), thawed
1 graham cracker crust

Mix limeade (may substitute lemonade concentrate) and sweetened condensed (not evaporated) milk in a large bowl. Fold in whipped topping. Pour filling into graham cracker crust. Place in freezer 2 to 3 hours
This is a really cool pie for hot summer months; not the same as a Key Lime pie, but so refreshing!

August 16, 2009

Fried Chicken Like You Know Who's


Do you ever get a taste for something that you just have to have? I mean, like in the middle of the night? Let me clarify; you just have to have it, in the middle of the night, and you don't live in an area where everything or anything is open late? The other night I wanted some fried chicken; not deli chicken, and certainly not my fried chicken; I've never been able to master that. I ended up doing oven fried, which was okay, and definitely healthier. The truth is, I had a jones for some KFC. No such luck at 2 a.m. In my town, no such luck after 8:45 p.m.

The other morning, while on my usual walk through the web, I googled fried chicken recipes, and low and behold, on Cooks.com, I found the following recipe for fried chicken that tastes just like KFC - So it says. I have not tried it yet. Remember, I'm not a good chicken frier.

Why don't you try it, and get back to me with your results?

FRIED CHICKEN (LIKE KFC)

2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup flour
3/4 cup fine bread crumbs
1 tsp. Knorr chicken bouillon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (not salt)
1/4 tsp. onion powder (not salt)
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/3 tsp. Bell Seasoning or pinch ground sage
1 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
2 large cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. Wondra flour
additional flour for separate pre-coating
5-6 cups non-hydrogenated Crisco or peanut oil
1 frying chicken, cut in pieces

Safety Warning: A special pressure fryer is the only type of pressure cooker that you can fry in safely. Read your manufacturer's instructions before frying in a pressure cooker. If you don't have your instruction manual, then prepare this chicken in a regular deep fryer.
Pour the oil into the pressure fryer or deep pan suitable for frying, and then heat over medium heat to about 360 degrees.

In a small bowl beat the egg, milk, and soy sauce, then stir in 1/2 tsp. Knorr chicken bouillon (save the other 1/2). Put the garlic cloves through a garlic press and add into the egg mixture. Add half of the parsley and 1 tablespoon Wondra flour. Stir well.

In a separate bowl, combine the 1 cup flour and the bread crumbs, and the remaining ingredients. Mix well with a fork.

Put about 1/2 cup additional flour in a separate small bowl. Use this to dip each chicken piece, prior to dipping in the milk and seasonings.

Roll each piece of chicken around until well covered, first in plain flour, then in milk mixture, then in flour/bread crumbs mixture.

Gently lower the chicken pieces into the hot oil and allow to become a golden color (add the bigger pieces first).

Pressure Fryer:

If you are using a pressure fryer, place the lid on and lock it when the chicken is a very light golden color, usually about 3 minutes. Begin timing when the lid is locked and the gauge indicates a pressure of 5-6 pounds. Bring temperature up immediately and watch carefully (don't walk away!).
Remove from heat after about 7 minutes and reduce pressure following manufacturer's directions. Remove the chicken pieces and place on layers of paper towels. Return the pan to the stove and bring temperature back up and continue until all chicken pieces are fried. If your chicken was too brown, cook the next batch for a minute or so less, and vice-versa if your chicken wasn't browned enough. Do not overload the cooker with too many pieces, as it brings the temperature down too quickly and will cause the pieces to absorb more of the cooking oil than it otherwise would.

Regular Deep Frying:

Fry the chicken at 360-375°F, placing the larger pieces in when the temperature is slightly lower (temperature will drop when pieces are added). Put the smaller pieces in when the temperature is higher, and they will be cooked more quickly. Remove when chicken is golden brown and drain on paper towels.
Cooks Tip: To flavor the oil in this method, you can thickly slice a few large onions and add to the oil before the chicken - skim these out when they are browned, before adding the chicken. It will add an additional layer of flavor to the oil!

Submitted by: CM

August 9, 2009

Fresh Raspberry Cream Cake Recipe @ CDKitchen.com :: it's what's cooking online!

Fresh Raspberry Cream Cake Recipe @ CDKitchen.com :: it's what's cooking online!

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Lady & Lord Baltimore Cakes


Southern weddings were not complete without the gracefully elegant Lady Baltimore Cake, and the Lord Baltimore Cake (possibly for the groom?) There is a history behind both cakes, simply click on the title above for the link. These old classics still reign today!

LADY BALTIMORE CAKE
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
6 egg whites
1/2 cup white sugar

Lady Baltimore Frosting
1/2 cup raisins, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup chopped candied cherries
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 9 inch round layer pans.
In a large bowl, cream butter or margarine, 1 1/4 cups sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla together well. Beat until light and fluffy.
Stir flour, baking powder, and salt together in another bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 parts alternating with milk in 2 parts, beginning and ending with flour.
Using clean beaters, beat egg whites in mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Add 1/2 cup sugar gradually while beating until stiff. Fold whipped egg whites into batter. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until an inserted wooden pick comes out clean. Cool.
To Make Filling: Stir 2 cups Lady Baltimore Frosting, raisins, nuts, cherries, and 2 teaspoons vanilla or sherry all together. Use as filling to spread between layers. Spread remaining frosting on tops and sides of cake.

LORD BALTIMORE CAKE
2 3/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
7 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup crushed macaroon cookies
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped blanched almonds
12 candied cherries, quartered
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 9 inch round layer cake pans.
In small bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. In another small mixer bowl beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored; set aside.
In large mixer bowl combine butter and sugar. Beat until very light and fluffy, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in egg yolks. With mixer at low speed add dry ingredients alternately with milk and vanilla, starting and ending with dry ingredients. Divide evenly among prepared pans. Spread to edges.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
Make Seven Minute Frosting. Remove one third of the Seven Minute Frosting and place it in a mixing bowl with the macaroon crumbs, pecans, almonds, cherries, lemon juice, and orange rind. Fold together until thoroughly blended. Use this mixture as the filling between the three cake layers, and use the remaining 2/3 of the frosting to cover the tops and sides of the cake.

Seven Minute Frosting
2 egg whites
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/3 cup cold water
1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put egg whites, sugar, water and syrup in top of double boiler. Beat until mixed well. Place over rapidly boiling water. Beat constantly with electric beater while it cooks for 7 minutes or until it will stand in peaks when beater is raised. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Beat. Fills and frosts 2 layer cake, 8 or 9 inch
Recipes from http://www.Allrecipes.com

LADY BALTIMORE SHOWS HER BUD!


This week, the Hardy Hibiscus are finally beginning to strut their stuff. It's been a fairly cool/damp summer, and I didn't know what to expect. I planted Lord Baltimore, who is red; Lady Baltimore (shown above), big pink and blousy in a small bed with Silver Beacon Lamium, Casablanca lilies and a butterfly bush about five years ago. Now, there is a third one growing in the middle that is pink with a red center ... How do you think THAT happened? I've asked Lord Baltimore, but he just lets his branches languish and spread all over the place, as if he owns it - even reaching across the little path. Lady Baltimore simply blushes and bows gracefully! I love these things!!!

They are so easy to grow, low maintenance. Just let them candelabra all over the place, and in early Spring, cut them back to the ground. The only thing I can't figure out is this huge, woody clump they leave behind when you cut it. I don't know whether to leave it alone, chop it up, or what - it gets bigger each year. This can't be normal; and no one has been able to give me a reasonable explanation on how to care for it. Anyway, I love them, and they love me. I call Lord and Lady's Baby "Pink Diva" ... it's probably a boy ... Oh, well.

Early this summer, Rural King had some of their leftover plants on a clearance rack. These were supposedly water plants for ponds and water gardens. One of them was a Hibiscus moscheutos var. lasiocarpos (native rose mallow a/k/a Marsh or Swamp Mallow or Wild Hibiscus). They are actually hardy, and are supposed to grow near water. It was a cheap boxed plant soaking in water, about 6" tall. Well, I have no water near me, and my garden is lucky to get a drink from the watering can once a week. But, I bought this cute little thing, planted it and forgot it (sounds like an infomercial). Today, I saw the perky thing peeking from behind a butterfly bush. It's now about 12" tall, but very full and lush, and it has the nerve to have a little bud on it. I didn't expect it to survive, let alone bloom in year one. When it does, I'll share a picture. It deserves a place of honor in my garden - anything that survives, gets to stay.

August 7, 2009

A Glory Morning Friday!


























Tootsie calls it Fertilizer Friday; I call it Glory Morning Friday - especially in August, when the Morning Glories are in bloom, the Blackeyed Susans have stretched to six feet, and sprawl around like godesses ... and, on an old ladder there's Wave Petunias, Mandevilla, dark Ipomea (ornamental sweet potato vine) finally spread their glory - Thank you, Tootsie for the fertilizing suggestion!

I'd invite you to take a stroll with me through my weird little paradise, but you could lose your way ... Talk to ya soon!

August 6, 2009

Spinach Melon Salad


Sometimes in the early morning hours when I have left Dreamland, I wander the web in search of a delicious new treat. This summer, I've made it a point to try and live healthier and happier. While I have never been diagnosed with diabetes, it seems to be more and more common among people my age (older than 40/younger than 70). However, I am a little familiar with their food plan, and the recipes are beneficial to most anyone seeking a healthier lifestyle -- most are much tastier than I anticipated too.

This morning, I came across this Spinach Melon Salad (a link is provided to give nutritional value - click on the title above).

So, here try this refreshing dish, which can be served as a side salad, appetizer or main dish. And, as always, perfect for the backyard gathering!

8 cup fresh chopped spinach, torn
1 cup Watermelon, fresh, balls
1 cup Melon, honeydew, fresh, balls
1 cup Melon, cantaloupe, fresh, balls
1/3 cup Cucumber, with skin on, fresh, sliced, thinly sliced
1/3 cup red onion, sliced, thinly sliced

Combine spinach with melon balls, cucumber, and onion. Toss with dressing.

Honey Dressing
1/2 oz honey (up to 1 oz)
1 tbsp Vinegar, red wine
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp orange juice (up to 2 tbsp)
1 tsp fresh lime juice (up to 2 tsp)
1/2 tsp ground tarragon
2 pinch salt (2-3 dashes)
2 pinch black pepper (2-3 dashes)
3 Whisk together all ingredients and chill until ready to serve.

* How I tweaked it? You know, I added a bit of smoked turkey. Yeah, I know, probably sent the nutritional value off the charts ... But, I could have really done damage if I suggested the smoked barbecue chicken that I wanted to add. You didn't hear that from me ...

August 5, 2009

JASMINE COCKTAIL


This divinely sour cocktail speaks for itself - crisp, tart and tantalizing on a summer's night on the back porch:

The Jasmine Cocktail
Combine in an iced cocktail shaker:

1 1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1/4 ounce Cointreau
1/4 ounce Campari
Shake until very cold. Strain into a cocktail glass.

The Backyard --Today's Vacation Spot

The Backyard --Today's Vacation Spot
A simple garden meal in the shade. No, it's not my backyard, but it looks identical to the one I grew up with at our home in Queens. Looking for an original pic of it to post soon!

Old Fashioned Tips