Sunday, February 26, 2012

Make it from scratch Monday: Beef and Rice casserole (in Pyrex!)

I have a very large collection of vintage cookbooks. I just can't resist them, especially ones from Better Homes and Gardens from the 1950s and 60s. While they may not exactly be current and hip for the foodie in me, I love the basic ingredients and easy preparations. And usually, for a weeknight meal, that's all I want in a recipe!

It doesn't hurt that some of the recipes are just fun/weird to look at and imagine- many of these books were the source for James Lilek's Gallery of Regrettable Food. But there are definitely gems in there if you can get past the aspic. This recipe is from BH&G's Hamburger and Ground Meats Cookbook.

Of course, just about everyone has ground beef (in our case, ground venison) in their freezer and rice in their pantry, so I found this recipe that uses those ingredients. It was OK- came together quickly, didn't require anything fancy- but if I make it again, I will alter it slightly to add some more depth of flavor.

And since I will be sharing this blog post with the folks over at the Pyrex Collective III, I thought it was a good opportunity to break out some of the Pyrex casserole dishes! Everything tastes better in Pyrex!

Cheesy Beef-Rice Bake

1 lb. ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. uncooked rice
2 T. butter
3 c. water
1 c. shredded carrot
2 t. beef bouillion
1 t. parsley (dried or fresh, chopped)
1/2 t. onion flakes or powder
1/2 t. dried basil
1/2 c. shredded cheese

In large skillet, brown ground beef. Drain fat (not necessary if you are using super-lean ground venison!). Remove from pan and set aside.

In same skillet, melt butter and brown uncooked rice, stirring frequently until golden brown. As an aside, this is one of my favorite preparations, and a big reason I chose this recipe- the rice gets a nice nutty flavor before cooking.

Stir in water, bouillion, carrot and spices. 
I do not like dried bouillion cubes, so I used concentrated stock. You could also use 2 c. regular liquid beef stock or broth, just eliminate an equal amount of water. At this point, to improve the flavor, I would also add a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles and eliminate another 2/3 cup water.

Bring to boiling, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.

 Stir in browned meat.

Get your Pyrex ready! 

The recipe specifically calls for a 1 1/2 qt. casserole, so I thought that my 1 1/2 qt. Butterprint  fridgie would be perfect. Wrong. I filled it with about 1/3 of the mixture still left in the pan, so I had to get out a second casserole dish. My 2 qt. turquoise Starburst promo dish was begging for the job, and probably would have been big enough for the whole lot, but I divided it between the two dishes so no one's feelings were hurt.

Cover and bake in a 325 degree oven for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with shredded cheese (I used a mixture of jack and cheddar) and bake, uncovered, about 5 more minutes.

The verdict- everything tastes better in Pyrex, and even more so in a rarely used promotional piece! Thank goodness, because this dish was bland, bland, bland. I was kind of hoping it would be more like a cheeseburger casserole, but it wasn't. I would definitely add a can of diced tomatoes/green chiles to the mix to give it a bit more zing. I think with that addition it would be pretty good. But it was easy and required only the one frying pan, so that wasn't bad!

Friday, February 24, 2012

A peek inside Chez QT: Kate's room

In my last post I mentioned I had a full bedroom set of Art Deco furniture. I wanted to take a moment to share it with you all, because it is really something special. It is in my daughter's room, and will be her furniture as she gets older.

This set consists of bed, nightstand, vanity, bench and high boy dresser. All the pieces match and are made of burl walnut and mahogany, with bakelite pulls on the drawers. I inherited them from a family member who passed away in 2005 at age 97. She had bought them new in the early 1930s. (Family lore says 1929, which is not out of the question, but to me the style is a few years later, and my relative would have been in her early 20s by that time. She would have just graduated from college with a degree in business- very unusual for a woman at the time- and had a very good job, even though it was the Depression.) The set is extremely high quality; the burl veneer is over solid mahogany with dovetailed joints. Since I am just the second owner, everything is in great condition.

This is the view as you walk in the door. The bed is a full size bed. At the far right is the vanity. You can see some of the detail in the veneer work.

The waterfall chifferobe on the left is a cedar closet. It is not part of the set, and is a few shades lighter. I bought that years before getting the rest of the bedroom set.

The nightstand. Kate's room has a "Vintage Rose" theme, so all the accessories, like the lamp and the art are rose. The wall color is a dusty rose (not as pink as it appears here). Hopefully it will grow along with Kate, who is almost 4, because it is a pain to move all this furniture to paint! :)

The vanity and bench. I like the tall tombstone-shaped mirror- it's not your usual round one. I recovered the bench with brown and gold Asian fabric- it originally had a needlpoint cover which was quite worn (but I still have in storage.) The crib is in the foreground and was hard to photograph around. In a few months that will be gone and Kate will be sleeping in the big bed.

The high boy dresser. You can really see how luminous the veneer is and the neat bakelite and brass pulls. This would have been the man's dresser (the woman got the vanity) and the top drawer has small lidded compartments for cufflinks, etc. My relative never married, so it was all hers! The bottom of the chest is actually two large doors which swing open, instead of a drawer. I suppose it would have been used for shoes or purses, but I keep my collection of quilts in there.

I love my Art Deco furniture, and if money was no object would likely have a house full of it. I hope you enjoyed this part of our tour!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Style Envy

I don't know about all of you, but sometimes I get a really bad case of house envy from looking at others' blogs. Perfectly put-together homes with consistent styles get me every time. Those homes also tend to be the polar opposite of what mine looks like - a carefully curated museum exhibit, rather than the museum storage room! Makes me want to sell everything on ebay and start fresh!

My house is such a hodge-podge of styles, sometimes I fell like it's everything and nothing all at the same time. I'm not sure if I could even limit myself to one particular style of decorating. But if I could, I would have a whole house of mid century modern decor. Or maybe vintage industrial. Or maybe cottage chic.... I guess that's the problem, really, I love it all!

Literally, I have all these styles and more in various rooms of my 1800 square foot house:

Shabby chic/cottage style:

Rustic Adirondack:

Mid Century Modern:

50's Atomic

40's cute

Art Deco:

At this point I think I'm too set in my ways and too much in love with all my stuff to ditch everything and start over. A lifetime of collecting vintage items will do that, I suppose. But it still doesn't deter me from dreaming about owning and furnishing a 1950s Eichler, or a 30s Frank Lloyd Wright, or an industrial loft, or....

What about you? Can you stick to one style or is it a mishmash?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thrifted Thursday: 1950s atomic storage stool

As I noted in my previous post, I have been doing quite a bit of thrifting lately. I went to some of the usual places, and also one of my favorite places that I don't get to very often. It was there that I found something I've been looking for for some time- a vintage storage stool!

I love the upholstery; unfortunately it is vinyl and the top is cracked. I'll have to replace that some time. But the rest of it is in great shape. As you can see it matches my great trash-picked MCM black and white chair. I paid $10 for it, and I think that was a pretty sweet deal. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Trash Picked Tuesday: Pyrex!

I'm thrilled to be a member of the new Pyrex Collective III- here is a post I wrote for that site yesterday. Hop on over when you're done here and check it out!

I have been using Pyrex all my life, of course, but mostly the clear stuff. And as much as I love the colors and patterns... well, we all know they can't go through the dishwasher. And as a stay-at-home entrpreneur ;) with two small kids, I am all about the dishwasher.

So while I collect Pyrex to display and use (carefully) I often find myself relying on those pieces that are clear or just plain white for everyday use, and dishwashing!

And since I am also all about frugal living, I try to buy my pieces as cheap as possible. I prowl the thrifts, the yard sales, the flea markets, etc. for Pyrex.

There is nothing I like better than finding cheap Pyrex, except, of course, finding free Pyrex!

I nabbed these two cuties outside of one of my favorite thrifts, on the "Free" pile! I don't know how or why they got there, but heck, I'm not complaining! I will get lots of use out of the divided dish- I have a primary yellow one in which I usually bake a chicken leg or two on one side with the stuffing on the other. I also make my own bread every week, so the loaf pan will sure come in handy. It has the old style scalloped handles. The loaf pan has a few chips around the rim, but nothing that makes it completely unusable, while the divided dish is pristine. Not bad for being free!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Trash to Treasure: Kustom Bathroom Scale

This is another one of those projects I have had hanging around forever! Just like the TV-quarium project, I have had this old bathroom scale on the back burner for years. Literally, like 10 years. 

It had been a wedding present to my in-laws back in 1960. After a while it got too rusty and grungy to be in the bathroom and they had it sitting in the garage. I asked if I could have it, since we have a pink and black bathroom and it would match. I knew it would take a lot of work to get back to being usable, so I just stored it in the basement for a -long- time.

For all those years, my main concern was that I wasn't able to find the "correct" vinyl to restore the treads- pink textured with sparkles (!). I would have settled for just plain pink upholstery vinyl, but I could never find just the right shade to match the tile and the pink paint I already had.

Then I saw a great bathroom scale restoration done by the folks over at the Hepcats Restorations blog (thanks guys!) using black step tread material, and finally had my lightbulb moment! I didn't have to find original vinyl, I could do something a little different.

So we disassembled it, peeled off the old vinyl and stripped the paint.

The back got a coat of Rustoleum textured matte black and some new rubber feet. 

The top got several coats of pink paint. Notice the strip of original vinyl on the right, and how closely the pink matches! My husband used to be an auto body tech, so he did the prep and painting- much better than I could have done!

I masked off the shoulders and a strip on the front to leave the original chrome. Then I smoothed out the edges with a little pinstripe. Cleaned up the dial and painted the wheel and the "Detecto" emblem with black. 

Since I was going to be able to cut the tread material to whatever design I wanted, I decided to have a little fun with it and do a flame pattern. I did need to cover the holes in the top, so I had to take that into account when cutting the treads.

So here it is! Another item crossed off the to-do list, and a fun weekend project. Might even make stepping on the scale enjoyable!