Just a little Farmhouse Zen...

Need a little zen? Grab a big pot and boil together the ordinary, the quirky, the simple, and the sweet. Reduce to a simmer and add a sprinkling of yoga and a dash of country charm. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Contact Paper and Jell-O Molds

What can I say about moving...it's stressful, exciting, challenging, and filled with the unexpected. Using this very basic moving recipe, I find that moving into a really old house is heavy on the unexpected! Case in point, my kitchen...

I knew going in that the kitchen was in serious need of TLC and an updated look. The walls appear to be papered in some sort of Holly Hobby print. Worse yet, the colors are mustard yellow and brown and all of it is dirty beyond belief. The former owners purchased the property in 1976...a grand time for Holly Hobby, Jello molds, and bell bottom pants. Equally, 1976 must have been a revolutionary time in home decor given the popularity of such time savings products like contact paper - you know, the printed paper that isn't quite poster board but certainly not wallpaper.

Contact paper - still available today - comes in a variety of prints and designs, widths and lengths. It has been used to update closet shelves and kitchen drawers and my mother used it regularly in our cabinets and dresser drawers. She never, however, was bold enough to use it on the wall, so imagine my surprise when I decided to see how difficult it would be to remove the paper on my kitchen walls and discovered it was simply contact paper! Every wall, the shelves, drawers, and even the back panel of the built in spice cupboard are all papered with contact paper!

And speaking of the drawers, the former owners left something else unexpected behind...a handful of old product cookbooks including the Peter Pan Peanut Butter Cook Book and other booklets dating from 1962 to 1978. My favorite is Joys of Jell-O, an undated, spiral bound volume of recipes for everything from a Cherry Cola Mold to Ring-Around-the-Tuna.

I wonder what life in my kitchen was like for the homemaker of 1976. I imagine her with newly papered walls (admittedly a vast improvement from the interesting shades of green paint that graced the walls when she moved in) and a brand new book of recipes by her side tackling Christmas dinner or making dessert on for a 4th of July party. I imagine her pride and sense of peacefully domesticity. I imagine her embracing life on the farm, in an old house, filled with the unexpected.

I am enjoying my old kitchen, although I have already made plans for its renovation. I'm sure that, in the process, I'll have many more unexpected moments. For now, I'm peacefully settling in and trying to appreciate simple things like contact paper (I've already re-papered my cupboards and shelves) and jello molds, although I've not attempted any of my new found recipes yet. Stay tuned...

Farmer's Market Veggie Dinner:
We just moved, so I won't have a garden of my own this summer. That doesn't mean I'm without fresh veggies! I'm a true believer in supporting local farmers and lucky to live in an area with farmer's markets, veggie stands, and neighbors with gardens close at hand! Here is a quick and easy veggie dinner...oh, with a little something unexpected!

(Serves about 6 or my family of 4)

portobello mushrooms - any variety; roughly chopped
2 large green peppers
large onion
3 chopped carrots
lettuce and/or other greens
1 cup sugar snap peas
6 lices soy bacon, chopped
chopped or dried thyme
dried sage (1/2 tablespoon)
1/4 cup apple barbeque sauce
basil infused olive oil
worcestershire sauce

Saute chopped onion and green pepper in the olive oil until tender. Add bacon, thyme, sage, and about a tablespoon of worcestershire sauce. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and more oil, if necessary. Cook for 4 minutes. Add another tablespoon of worcestershire sauce and barbeque sauce. Cook for 5 minutes.

Toss lettuce with chopped carrots and peas. Place a bed of lettuce on a plate and top with cooked veggies, including a little of the oil/sauce mixture from the pan. Serve with a yeasty roll and a good glass of wine. Yum!

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