Monday, March 31, 2008

Quesadillas - Homemade Tortillas

If you are looking for ideas to stretch your groceries and to serve delicious meals, then think QUESADILLAS!

Now's the time to STOCK UP on staples like flour and oil. The prices at the grocery stores are going up!
Here's a recipe I created with pizza ingredients. If you like thin crust pizza, I found these quesadillas to be just as good, if not better than regular pizza!

Pizza Quesadilla

Melt real butter into an iron skillet...

Layer mazarella cheese on half side of tortilla, and sprinkle some Picante sauce. (Use your favorite pizza sauce, or even substitute Rotel.) For toppings, I used turkey pepperoni...

Close tortilla and cook slowly over heat, flipping tortilla over until both sides are brown and crispy.

Don't have tortillas on hand? Then make your own! All it takes is some flour, shortening, and water. If you're not in the mood for pizza, most anything in your cabinet will taste good grilled in a flour tortilla -- canned chicken, cheese, refried beans, leftovers, etc.


4 cups white or whole wheat flour or half each
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder (optional)
1/3 cup shortening
1 to 1-1/4 cups water
Waxed paper
oil (optional)

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt and baking powder. I prefer to use the baking powder because it makes the tortillas lighter, even if you roll them a little thick. The baking powder is not an authentic addition though, rather it is a southern mutation. Next cut in the shortening with a fork. When the flour is crumbly, add the water. Stir the dough with your fork until it makes a cohesive ball of dough. You may need to add an extra small spoonful of water if the dough is too dry. Be careful not to add too much though. When the dough forms a ball, knead it about 20 times. Then let it rest in the bowl for about 10 minutes. After it has rested, form it into 10 or 12 equal balls. Roll each ball in a little flour, to coat the outside of it evenly. Place a ball of dough on a sheet of waxed paper, or a clean, well floured surface. Roll the dough out into a a 6 or 7-inch circle. Try to get it as thin as you can. Loosen the tortilla from the rolling surface. Flop it onto a dry, hot skillet. Cook about 30 seconds, until the under side is dry, with a few brown spots. Flip it and cook the other side the same way. Transfer the cooked tortilla to a plate, and cook the next one. This goes pretty fast after you get the hang of it. You can roll out all of the tortillas first, in one stage, and then cook them all in the second stage. After you practice it some, the whole procedure takes less than 20 minutes, and the tortillas are sooo good. Use them the same way you would store-bought tortillas: burritos, soft tacos, etc.

The first few times you make these, you will need 30 to 40 minutes for the whole procedure. It takes time and practice to get the hang of rolling them out quickly and into a roughly circular shape. Please persevere. This recipe will save you $1 to $1.50 every time you make them. Also, if you don't have access to the store, you can still have lovely Mexican dishes all the same.

Homemade tortillas are not as flexible as store-bought tortillas. To make them more flexible, place them in a plastic bag while still warm, and let them cool right there in the bag. The steam will make them more pliable, and easier to roll up into fancy burrito shapes. This recipe makes about a dozen tortillas.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Remote Chance For Ghosts?

My mother had posted on her blog this morning her musings about whether or not her house was haunted --- Strange happenings, the TV flipping on and off, the microwave turning on, the sounds of a chair sliding across the floor...

This brought to mind an incident that had happened to me before my daughter was born. My husband and I had purchased an older home back in Lubbock Texas. A few blocks away from where Buddy Holly had grown up. A neighborhood that was ransacked by a tornado in 1970, leaving behind death and destruction.

One afternoon I swung the dust rag and rearranged the furniture. After vacuuming the floor, I flopped with satisfaction on the couch and turned on the television. Almost immediately my TV started to flip from one station to the next. I grabbed the remote and turned back to my original station. After a moment, the channels began to change again. This was beginning to get creepy!

From that day on, my television would flip on and off throughout the day. Sometimes I would wake up and the TV would be on, flipping channels. Or, I'd leave the room with the TV on, and re-enter the room only to find my television off. This really started to bother me and my husband and I wondered what was going on.

I also began to wonder if perhaps we too had ghosts. One of my unspoken fears was about the previous owners. The person who sold us the home used to be our former landlords. They were a business couple who owned several properties and also an appliance store. It was well known that they had lost a daughter a few years back to an unexplained murder. In fact, their story was on a television episode of, Unsolved Mysteries. I had never asked, but had often wondered if this had been her previous home.

One day I was wrestling with my phantom couch potato by angrily turning the channels manually from the knob of the TV. As I turned around to return to the couch, my eye caught a movement...

Directly behind my couch --- through the window --- across the yard --- into my neighbor's opened curtain, I caught a glimpse of MY neighbor holding out their TV remote control!

It suddenly dawned on me that EVER SINCE I had rearranged my furniture, I had been having problems. I also realized that MY TV was DIRECTLY in front of the aim of THEIR remote control as they watched their own TV!

I immediately assigned my TV to another corner and from then on, the channel switching stopped.

After that incident, my husband and I started to aim our control over to our neighbor's house to mess with them. We laughed and snickered and horsed around like this for a few days. One morning I reached for my shoes and decided to head across the lawn to chat with my neighbor and to laugh with them about this incident.

I can still remember that smile on my face as I started to walk across the lawn. I glanced with interest at the strange white truck that was parked in their driveway. As I reached their house, I read from the side of the truck, Television Service & Repair...

Suddenly I realized that my neighbors weren't going to find their $60 television bill as very funny.

I turned around and slinked back to my house.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Homemade Biscuits (Cheddar)

Here's one of my favorite woodburning stoves at the farm. It has a very nice oven.

This past week I baked biscuits, and served it with real butter, and honey.

Baking Powder Biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cups milk

Mix together flour, baking powder and salt.
Mix in shortening and add milk.
Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead about 15 times. Roll out to 1/4 to 1/2" thick. Cut with 2" bsicut cutter and place onto ungreased baking sheet. Place close together for soft sides, or apart for crusty sides.

Bake at 450 degrees, 10-12 minutes or till golden. Makes 12-16 biscuits.

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When using this recipe at the farm, I substitute REAL BUTTER in place of shortening.

Using this basic recipe, I added/subtracted a few things to RECREATE the cheddar drop biscuits I enjoyed so much at Red Lobster.


2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons of garlic salt
1 stick of real butter
1 cup of milk
1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
* Fresh chives if possible

Mix flour, baking powder and garlic salt
Mix in butter and milk, add cheese - stir until gooey. If too thick, add extra milk to give the consistency needed to drop biscuits into greased pan.

Bake 450 degrees till golden. These are delicious!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fishin @ da farm...

Yesterday, was the perfect fishing day! And boy oh boy were the fish BITING!

Several of our family and friends gathered at the farm to cast their lines.

No tall tales here, check out the biggest catch of the day!

8-year-old Brandon caught the biggest fish!

And yes, (gulp) we let the fish go!

Perch was in abundance...

I don't know about you guys, but I'm ready for a fish fry!

More bass!

And another...

The perch kept us busy!

This small lake feeds into Walnut creek that runs adjacent to the farm.

Further down the creek bed are small waterfalls, canyons and undererground springs. A perfect place to hike and explore!

Everyone had their try at fishing.

We had to duck several times when the lines were cast!

The water was so clear, we could see the fish swimming around. Someone spotted a HUGE goldfish!

We put away the fishing poles when we ran out of bait! Those fish wore us out!

Afterwards, we had a nice (surprise birthday) potluck at the Homestead and enjoyed a candlelit dinner under the stars.

Can anybody say, Let's go fishing again?!!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Day at Crowe's Nest Farm

Today, Pamela's 4-H group took a field trip to Crowe's Nest Farm in Manor, Texas.

4-H group.

Crowe's Nest Farm is a privately owned, non-profit organization that is licensed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Association. There was plenty of farm animals to see and pet --- exotic birds, creepy reptiles, and lots of interesting wildlife that the farm had adopted. Before long, we didn't feel we were visiting a "farm"...but rather a ZOO. But that was okay, as there was plenty to see and do. I especially enjoyed the many themed gardens, the duck pond, and the gorgeous Peacocks strutting around.

Walking into the Faeriewoods was especially interesting. I had noticed a dry creek bed and couldn't help but wonder how magical it would be to visit those woods again after a nice downpour. Windchimes were everywhere and they sounded so pretty.

Hay Ride!

Texas Longhorn!

(Click to enlarge)

After viewing an introduction film in the barn, we went on a guided hayride tour, and then walked the farm on our own. It was a very relaxing day, the kids enjoyed themselves, and afterwards we had a picnic! All in all, a very nice day!

What an amazing creature! I couldn't help but think of my mother after seeing all these peacocks. She's an artist and I've noticed that many of her sketches depicts these birds.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Making sense of haplogroup H - 16519c

Descendant of Rachel and Leah?

I grew up hearing about my German ancestry, and that "German stubborness" that we all seemed to have inherited ----My maternal roots tracing back as far as Baden Baden, Germany. I can't remember my grandmother, Ruth, without picturing her with a bible.

Baden Baden

My great-great grandma Caroline, great-great grandpa Fritz, and my great grandpa, Freddy, as a little boy.

My maternal Great-great grandpa Fritz Groat.

Here is what I have discovered about my test results: Haplogroup H (16519c)

It is hypothesized that 16519C represents the mtDNA of the matriarchs of Israel, Leah and Rachel.
Because of my great grandmother, Stella Ruth, being a mystery woman, my attentions have been drawn to her marriage to my great grandfather Groat.

My g-great grandpa worked for the railroad.

The surname, Groat, just so happens to be Dutch, which was given in the middle ages to thick or large coins.

Ever heard the saying, "Blood without groats is nothing?" meaning "family without fortune is worthless." Or "Not worth a groat" is an old saying meaning "not worth a penny".

Technically, Groat is derived from Groth --- some of my early ancestors changed their name from Groth to Groat when they came to America. My Groth/Groat ancestors, Fritz (nickname for Fredderick?) and his wife Caroline, only spoke German. They both were born in Germany and were known to have owned a butcher shop.

My great grandmother, Stella Ruth, had married into the Groat family on April 12, 1900 - in Pulaski County, Indiana. Going through the history of immigration, it is noted that Indiana became one of the first states (Ohio was the other) west of the Alleghenies to host permanent Jewish communities. The seeking of better lives, better economic conditions, and more freedom, fueled a "migration fever" among Germans in general.

My great grandmother, Stella Ruth, remains a mystery.
Unfortunately, Haplogroup H, is very broad with the mutation that is shared by a few additional haplogroups, mainly K.

Perhaps I will direct my attentions to the Groat line and test my maternal/paternal line for more answers.

Great grandpa Fred, Great Grandma Stella Ruth, and baby grandma Ruth. Counting in my Aunt, this makes me a fourth generation RUTH!

(click to enlarge)