Places to Party

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Creamed Tunafish on Toast... or Biscuits & Gravy's Trashier Cousin....

Snicker if you must, I realize this will  never appear on the Food Network, but this is the favorite breakfast of my brother and I growing up. Many a morning we would get up for school and my father would have a delightful pan of the rich milk gravy laced with whatever leftover meat we may have had or with our favorite version, tuna fish. Now, I'm not fond of canned tuna fish normally, but this is absolute ambrosia. The fact that my father, who worked third shift and, along with my working mother, had a farm to take care of, would take the time to make this for his children truly demonstrated that we were loved.

True, this the not the food of the rich and many a former soldier from WWII or Korea may recognize this as the colloquial SOS* (Sh*t on a Shingle for those not on this side of the pond) if made with chipped beef, but this is the food that I'd like to think my Great Grandma Nellie fed her children and working man husband during the Depression when money was short and there were many mouths to feed. This is a recipe that could have quickly been put together out of pantry staples and put on the table fast. If for no other reason than the fact that this was humble food served by honest people trying to stretch a bunch in a bad economy, you should try this meal. In many ways, the same thing could be declared about today's economy....

So try Creamed Tuna fish on toast. It may not be totally good for you but it will warm your soul and your belly and put a smile on your face! Enjoy!

Creamed Tuna fish on Toast 
Simple Pantry Ingredients

  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1 can Evaporated Milk
  • Milk to Thin
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Tuna or whatever leftover
    meat you may have
  • Toast to serve it on

Step 1: Melt your butter in a pan over medium heat taking care not to burn it. Next add  your flour. You can add as much or as little as you like depending upon how thin you want your gravy. For
general guideline, we'll start with a 1:1 ratio.
One stick (1/2 cup) of butter to 1/2 cup flour.
What you are essentially doing is creating a rue much
like you would to thicken anything, mac & cheese,
soup, a stew, etc.

Make the rue, taking care not to burn it.

Make sure you get out all the lumps. After you add
the meat, it becomes impossible to do so.

Step 2: Once the rue begins to thicken, add your
evaporated milk. This may be enough of a gravy
or it may thicken up on you depending on how
much flour you put in.

Add the milk and ...

Stir to combine.                                          
Who could go wrong with butter and flour?

Step 3: Add  your chosen meat. Here we are utilizing
my personal fav, drained tuna fish.
Mix well.

Perfect technique for using up the holiday turkey or ham.
Or if your not that imaginative, put in sausage.

Step 4: If necessary thin with milk to your desired consistency.

Mix well.

Step 5: Salt and Pepper to taste.
Stir in.

In the home stretch!

Step 6: Serve over toast and ENJOY! From my family to yours.. although honestly, I can probably eat the whole pan if you don't like it.... pass it my direction...YUM!!!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Because Creativity Creates Reality....

Be Brave, Be Bold! You have
have nothing to lose!

  In honor of the upcoming Spring, I want to take you to one of my favorite places in the house.... the porch. Our porch is a tranquil, serene, beautiful area that I often go in the summer to read a book, talk to a friend or simply watch the farmers plow and plan their fields praying diligently that they aren't planting cabbage again (smells horrible when it rots!). However, this oasis wasn't always an oasis...

When we purchased our house, it was far from ideal. We bought it because we could see beyond the misguided decorating scheme (Seriously, polka dotted blue and white wallpaper in the dining room? White and red plaid wallpaper in the kitchen?) and notice that it had really good bones. I'm a firm believer that houses can speak to you and this house was crying out for someone to come back in and take care of it an love it. The porch itself was in a state. The previous owners actually used table salt (which we found on the porch) to melt the snow on the walk. The porch itself was painted flat white with peel and stick linoleum in various states of scruffiness. In short, anything I did was going to be an improvement so there was little room for fear.

In a word. SAD.
Like most new homeowners we didn't have any real money to put into any renovations that weren't absolutely necessary. After all, there were furnaces going awol and water heaters to replace! So gathering up left over supplies, art supplies I had and taking into consideration the room's use itself, I decided first to vacuum up any old bugs and get rid of everything the previous owners had left that was unusable. Then to scuff up the surfaces so that they would accept the paint, I used a rotary sander and sanded all the surfaces with fine grit sandpaper. Then I took TSP (found in any home supply store) and washed down all the surfaces. Then to eliminate any stains from coming through, I used Kiltz for acrylic paint and painted two layers. After that dried, we get to the fun part, PAINTING!!!

Step 1: Sectioning off a section of floor
              for where the rug should go.

I love paint. I love it as a noun and a verb. Paint is truly the great equalizer. When you don't have lots of money, you can still create brilliant effects just with paint. I painted the entire porch a battleship grey color that I had left over from another project. After applying a couple of coats and allowing them to dry, I immediately began loving the porch. But now to what makes the porch special. A rug. Not just a regular rug, but a painted rug. You see, the porch is very much used during the summer and winter months. In the summer months it's a pleasant place to linger, but in the winter months, it becomes a place for wood storage for our wood stove. Knowing this, I didn't just want to put out a rug to have underfoot that could cause a tripping hazard. Also, the farmers are constantly working the fields during the summer/fall months and a cloth rug would have to constantly be laundered. So the logical and creative alternative
                                                            was to paint a rug.

Step 2: Sectioning off your grid.

After the paint dried, I positioned our wicker seat to figure out how large the rug should be. After doing that I used painter's tape to section this part out. I painted the base, neutral color to act as the background and let that dry. Then I sectioned off the squares I wanted for the rug, using the linoleum as my guide.

Step 3: Applying second color.
Then painting every other square I set down my second color.

After the paint has dried thoroughly, remove your painter's tape and retape, this time taping the inside of the colored sections so you have the maxium amount of the background showing up. Using a stencil, stencil
Step 4: Tape off in the colored section's
(in this example, the blue section) edges
to bring your stencil to the very sides of the
neutral area, like a real rug.
                                                      your chosen pattern on this

Finally, for added interest, I taped up a border and using a combing tool (you can purchase these at Micheal's or even your ACE hardware), I dragged the wet paint to the edge of the taped off board to act as the "binding off" area of my rug.
The finished result is below. A beautiful "rug".

Now with a new wicker set purchased after summer for a discount, and a few items we bought through the years at garden centers/dollar stores or we made, the porch is now a thing of beauty. It's a joy to sit out there and watch the Fourth of July fireworks or just the sunset going down over the trees.

The finished rug.

Most importantly, it has the cats' seal of approval and knowing how particular their taste, what could be better?

Tux approved!
 I think it just shows you that you don't have to have tons of money if you have the willpower and the creative drive to make your home, YOUR HOME. I hope you find this interesting and inspirational and maybe start looking at projects you can do. Life is too short not to live it beautifully and you have all the talent and ability to do this as well. So get to it!

The end result! Wonderful!