I have been much amused by the town of Small Town, Iowa, this summer. In addition to the amazing church sign, Small Town has been busy entertaining me with its general weirdness.
First, I was stopping by our local Casey’s convenience store for my daily cup of caffeinated joy, when I noticed a sign in the window. A group had formed, it said, to clean up the parks of Small Town, Iowa. They would be meeting occasionally to pick up garbage and generally spruce up the area. This is lovely. Every town needs people who are willing to pitch in and clean up its public places. But the name of this group– shudder– is the Trash Termites. I have tried over and over to put into words my feelings about this name, but it is impossible. Even now, all I can say is that there are some things you should never sacrifice on the altar of alliteration. And the self-esteem of an entire group of people who are willing to spend their free time cleaning up after the rest of us is one of those things. Trash Termites. Eurgh.
Second, I have lived in Iowa for nearly eleven years now, and in other points Midwestern all my life. I have seen a lot of corn in that time. One of the most inspiring songs about Iowa ends in the rousing line “That’s where the tall corn grows.” And, if you’d like to know what it’s like to drive across our inspiring state, you might want to check out this video. All in all, it’s safe to say that around here we have a lot of corn. But this year the corn is blazing new territory, and possibly taking over the world, starting with my neighbor’s garage.
You can tell this is my neighbor’s garage because I included the weeds in this picture. Had it been my garage, I would have carefully edited them out.
Nothing says Iowa summer like the classic corn-and-siding picture.
That’s what I always say, anyway.
In other and completely unrelated news, I would like to include some links to recommend to you today. Mainly these are recipes, but first of all I’d like to send you to take a look at the Canvas of Happiness. I am entirely enamored of this idea and hope to try something like this in the near future.
Now, before I send you to these fabulous recipes, I need to add the disclaimer that I am by no means a cooking expert. These recipes work for me every time and fit my limited budget of both time and money, and that is why I am recommending them. I am not the Princess of Cooking, so I can pretty much guarantee that if these recipes work for me, they’ll likely work for you. That said, don’t call me if you mess them up. Trust me.
Zesty Slow-Cooker Chicken Barbecue Sandwiches
This recipe is based on this one from allrecipes.com, which is where I head pretty much whenever I need a recipe. It’s actually based on the instructions in one of the comments, but the sauce is what they say in the recipe.
- 2 pounds frozen boneless, skinless chicken breast (actually I usually use bone-in, which is much cheaper but a little more time-consuming)
- 2 cups water
- 2 chicken bullion cubes (or you could just use canned chicken broth in place of the water and bullion)
- 1 18-ounce bottle of barbecue sauce (don’t buy the uber cheap stuff, I usually buy Sweet Baby Ray’s but I don’t know where else that is available. Use at least a middle-of-the-road sauce)
- 3/4 cup Italian salad dressing
- 3/8 cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- rolls of some kind (just don’t use the cheapie standard hamburger buns, they’ll fall apart)
- Place the frozen chicken in the crockpot and add the water and chicken bullion. Set to low and cook for 7-8 hours.
- Immediately mix remaining ingredients (except buns, obviously) in a bowl and refrigerate. You want the flavors to blend while the chicken is cooking.
- Remove chicken and discard the water and junk in the pot. Shred chicken with fork and return to pot.
- Add sauce and cook on low for another hour.
- Serve on buns.
This recipe is soooo good. And it gets better as leftovers, so make lots. 🙂
The rest of these I pretty much follow the recipe exactly so I’m not typing it here.
Yummy Pizza Crust/Bread Dough for the Bread Machine
I found this recipe at allrecipes.com when I was searching for a pizza crust recipe for my bread maker. It is excellent as pizza dough, but it is also amazing just as a basic bread. You can leave the garlic in or take it out. I have baked it as loaves, as rounds of dough on a cookie sheet, as the crust for calzone, using half whole wheat flour, using brown sugar because I ran out of white, using both bread machine yeast and regular yeast, and it is impossible to mess it up. The texture is soft and yummy. And it’s extra good with homemade butter. You want to try it, trust me. Click here for the recipe.
I even took a picture!
Crash Hot Potatoes
I found these while stumbling, and they are as yummy as they look, although mine never look as good as hers. My husband and I prefer to eat these while standing over the pan immediately after they come out of the oven, because they are best when they are so hot they burn you.
Double Berry Cobbler
Finally, I was forced– forced I tell you, to use this recipe when we discovered mulberries at one of the parks here in Small Town, Iowa. I didn’t have quite the number of berries called for in the recipe so I chopped up some strawberries and added those in as well. A couple notes, there’s more sugar than you need in the berry mixture– I have a serious sweet tooth and thought it was too much. And you probably want to take the dough portion of the recipe times 1 1/2. I doubled it and it was too much. That said, this stuff is good. And it gets better as leftovers in your lunch the following day. And then it’s gone because it’s so good you can’t stop snitching it directly out of the pan.
Seriously. Look at that. I want some right now.