Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Garden Tuesday, On Wednesday

Our visitors have gone home.  The house is quiet for a little while.  Reflashing of the chimneys is underway this week, because....

The slate is done!  I have rocks on my roof again!

(Man, that garage and porch look massive, since I'm standing at the far end of the garage roof to take this picture!  But it's a fun place from which to survey the roof and yard.)

The color match isn't great, probably because it's hard to match freshly cut slate with that which has been weathering 90+ years.  You can see on this stretch above my bedroom, which is visible from nowhere except atop the garage roof, how different the color is.  Mostly, though, they mixed old and new, dark and light, and it looks pretty good.

And, yes, I painted that window and all of the trim around that dormer after I was finished with the camera.  I was standing on top of the porch roof.  Since I wasn't a dullard, and didn't walk off the edge, it was all fine. 

(But I do have to confess that the roofers had a ladder up next to another dormer which they had repaired, and I climbed up to paint that dormer's trim, too.  Hubby footed the ladder to prevent it from tipping over, if that really is a thing.)

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Dogs on Thorsday, a Day Late

Bebop's person went on vacation to the beach.  Evidently, Bebop was not invited.  So he came to visit us.  Ryan became his substitute person.
I never saw a dog smile before Bebop.
 He was so happy his whole body was wagging here!

 With Cass gone, he found other people to hang around with.

 Many other family members are visiting from Wednesday through next Wednesday.  So at least there are plenty of new friends for Bebop!
Happy Friday, everyone!  Bebop hopes you have a nice weekend, and keep your people close!

Monday, August 15, 2016

National Lemon Meringue Pie Day

I was going to dust tonight.  And vacuum tomorrow night.  That's the schedule.  But then I learned it was National Lemon Meringue Pie Day.

So I made the Best Pie Crust Ever, and then made a low cholesterol Lemon Meringue Pie.  My dearly beloved is going to be so excited!  I don't foresee him eating much else until it's gone.

(Yes, this was a drive by posting.  Happy Monday.)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Thorsday Book Review, On Friday...With a Dog

Last summer, a friend sent me this book.  I read it and was enthralled; it gave me an escape from the mental pressures of getting the yard ready for Shannon's wedding.  I read it again after our attic fire, in the little spare time I had, because it was such a welcome escape from the filthy realities of my ash covered, unroofed world.

DELICIOUS! A NOVEL

Billie has just dropped out of college and moved to New York City to work for a storied food magazine, Delicious!  Her first day on the job, she was sent off to get an obscure ingredient, and met Sal there, who took her to his family deli, Fontanari's, where he had her sampling cheeses and whatnot, delighting in her perfect sense of taste.  Her job originally was assistant to the editor, and she was required to cook something as soon as she was hired, which caused her to have a panic attack - we learn why as the book unfolds.  Lonely and alone in New York, she also works at Fontanari's on the weekends, learning to love Sal's family, and enjoying the customers there.  Then, one day, the publisher announces that Delicious! is being closed down, and Billie stays on to answer the mail and phones, including the complaints made against the Delicious satisfaction guarantee (you will like every recipe in the magazine, no matter how old the issue, or they'll give you a refund).  One old lady in particular is a real pip in her terrible recipe substitutions, and she lends some levity to the book.  Then, as she's wandering through the empty building, which is a 200 year old house (and the architectural descriptions of the building are wonderful - I longed for that house), she finds a locked room upstairs containing a library, in which Billie discovers correspondence between Lulu Swan, a 12 year old girl in Ohio during World War II, and the legendary James Beard (who worked for the magazine at that time).  Following the correspondence with Billie is wonderful.  On the personal side, Billie is emailing her sister frequently, and her emails are full of sorrow - we learn why toward the end of the book.  A Fontanari's customer known as "Mr. Complainer" makes a few appearances in the book, too; it's all well written and woven together, and leaves you really caring about the characters (and the house, too, at least in my case).

And, Bebop is here this week, following Ryan around.  Since Cass is away at the beach, Ryan is his substitute person.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Rosemary Roast Chicken

The other night, it was raining and chilly, and a roasted chicken seemed to be the order of the day.

ROSEMARY ROAST CHICKEN

1 oven stuffer roaster
2 tbsp butter, softened
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp rosemary
3 cloves garlic, minced (or 3 tsp minced from a jar)
1 onion, chopped in eighths
1 carrot, quartered
salt



With a fork, mash together the butter and olive oil; mash in the rosemary and garlic and set aside.  Wash the cavity of the chicken, and salt liberally.  Put the carrot quarters and half the onion in the cavity.  Tuck the remaining 4 pieces of onion between each leg and the body, and between each wing and the body, under the skin.  Loosen the skin over top of the breast, and push the butter mixture in a thin layer over the top of the meat, including down the sides and onto the thighs.  Roast in a 350F oven until done; mine was an 8 pound chicken, and took about 2-1/2 hours.  Let it sit for 15 minutes before carving.

This was a terrific, moist chicken.  I'm going to remember this flavoring combination the next time it's cool enough for me to want to roast a chicken!

And, regarding my corner bookcases, Dan built those a couple of years back, when he rebuilt the old playroom into a family room.  He does great work, doesn't he?

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Happy Book Lovers' Day!

I wonder...do you think I qualify as a book lover?

I do have a couple of books around.

I learned to read when I was 4, and have never stopped.  Bobbesy Twins in kindergarten and first grade, Nancy Drew in second grade.  These 3 bookshelves are probably about half of the books we have in this house (or maybe a little less; who's counting?).
 

I read an article in my Sunday paper about the author's favorite book, and realized that your favorite book must change as you get older.  I loved The Secret Garden when I found it, maybe in 3rd or 4th grade.  I reread it a few months back, and still loved it.  Then there was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  I found a copy of that one at the book sale the week before our house fire; I'm going to read it again soon.  Gone With The Wind?  Yep, 6th grade.  I've read it several times.  I realized while thinking about this post that all of these books have something in common: a girl/woman in difficult circumstances who does what she must to survive.  Poor Mary, cranky and unloved.  Francie, well loved, living in a tenement.  Scarlett and Melanie, the same and so different.  I'd have liked to think I'd have been Scarlett, but without modern medicine, I fear I'd have been Melanie.

Then, the summer before 8th grade, when we'd moved yet again, and I didn't know a soul, I took up walking the mile-and-a-half to the library every other day to get myself 2 or 3 books, and I found Taylor Caldwell.  Historical fiction set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which gave a great look at how people lived and thought not so long beforehand.  My favorite of all of her books was Captains and The Kings.

Of course, there have been a gazillion other books - too many to mention - but the ones which stay with me the best are the ones where the main character speaks to my heart, moves me.  Most recently, The Little Paris Bookshop and Delicious! come to mind.

So, what about you?  Favorite books, currently or in the past, or even a favorite book ever?

And, just in case you wondered, here is Mark's summer reading selection.  He also had to read Night by Elie Wiesel for history, along with the first quarter of the textbook (and a bucketload of questions to answer for that).  I'll probably read some of these, too.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Garden Tuesday on Wednesday, Sort of.

So, a few weeks back, we learned that no one has bothered to get my mother in law's name put on the in-laws' headstone, despite the fact that she died over a year ago.  I have ordered that problem rectified, because evidently my husband is the only of her children who thinks her grave should be marked.

That caused us to look into his grandparents' headstone, because one of his brothers visited the cemetery where they're buried about 25 years ago, and brought us pictures of many headstones, but not theirs. So, he called that brother, who just happened to be going to New Hampshire, and stopped by the cemetery in Monson to look for that gravestone.  It does exist, but my dearly beloved thinks that stone is small and weaseley, so I'm looking into getting it replaced, as well.


(I don't know why some pictures insist on orienting themselves sideways.  Just pretend it looks right.)

And look what BIL found.  I know these markers to indicate the 8 year old and 3 month old daughters of a different relative; both have been dead 80 to 90 years.  And the sad thing is that I don't think anyone knows of the existence of these girls except me, because BIL had to clear dirt off the stones to photograph them for me.  And he had no idea what they meant; he said they looked like surveyors' monuments to him.

So, I'm thinking of having the current gravestone for my grandparents-in-law (now dead 38 and 55 years) refaced, and carved for these babies.  Someone ought to remember them, after all.

OK, not your typical Garden Tuesday.  But it's what I've been chasing for the better part of a week, and it beats pictures of 3" of rain.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

So, Let's Say....

So, let's say you're a dummy and leave a container of sour cream at the very back of the fridge on the top shelf, and it freezes.  So you move it to the front to thaw, and 24 hours later it's pretty watery.

And, let's say the kids are coming to visit, so you order half a case of bananas from your restaurant supply house.  Hey, the case is 40 pounds, so that's only 20 pounds of bananas.  Easy peasy, right?

So, you decide to make banana bread, using the watery sour cream in lieu of liquids and fats.  I won't even bother trying to remember the recipe, because I hope none of you are dumb enough to freeze your sour cream.  But it largely disappeared.


And since my son in law was running an Iron Man Triathlon that Sunday, not too far from here, he was very appreciative of the fact that I'd made him some "excellent" carbs for "carb-loading".

And, what if your daughter had called to get the recipe for The Best Pie Crust Ever, and said son in law made a strawberry rhubarb pie to bring up for the family?

(This picture was taken after he'd served it for dessert, of course.)

Well, then you'd just have to whip up some cream to go with it, and tell your daughter she's one lucky lady, having a husband who is quite competent in the kitchen!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Week in Excitement!

Well, words aren't really needed here.  We had Madeline from Sunday through Thursday, because her Mommy and Daddy had to go on a business trip.


 Guess who thinks she can feed herself, even though she can't even hold up the bottle?
 She does love her Grandpa, and it warms my heart to see him smiling so much. (Full disclosure: I was the one who got up at 7AM with her.  But I trained her to sleep until 9 within 2 days.)

On another note, I found a gauze sale.  So look what came in yesterday:


There are 10 yards of the Kelly Green, and 4 to 6 yards each of the other colors, for a net of about 50 yards.  I suddenly feel the need for new summer dresses.  I wonder which color I should chop into first?  The salmon, or the green?

Happy weekending, everyone!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Hot Fudge Sundaes!

A couple of weeks back, the Wall Street Journal ran a big article about ice cream sundaes.  You know The Wall Street Journal, right?  That iconic publication which tells you everything you want to know about the financial news, with a healthy dollop of food thrown in for good measure?  OK, so I'm probably a little off kilter looking for the food news in the WSJ.  Tell me something new.

Back to ice cream.  This article said that the perfect sundae should have texture, ice cream, sauce, maybe some fruit and maybe whipped cream and sprinkles.  Terrific!  Gotcha!  And they had a recipe for your texture: Shortcake Crumbles!

SHORTCAKE CRUMBLES

2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
6 tbsp cold butter
1 egg
1/2 c. buttermilk or sour milk
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract.

Stir together the flour, powder, soda and salt.  Cut the butter in 1/2" cubes and cut into the dry ingredients, or pulse together in a food processor.  Stir in the egg, buttermilk, brown sugar and vanilla with a fork.  Line a big baking sheet with parchment and drop the shortcake onto the parchment in 1" to 2" diameter crumbles.  Bake at 400F for 12 to 15 minutes.  Cool on the baking sheet, break into bite sized crumbles and serve dessert!  (These would also be an excellent base for strawberry shortcake.)

And from my 365 Great Chocolate Desserts cookbook, I give you the perfect topping for your ice cream sundae:

DARK CHOCOLATE FUDGE SAUCE

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup heavy cream*
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Stir together the sugars, cocoa powder and salt in a large microwavable bowl.  Stir in the cream.  Microwave on high for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, or until well mixed, stirring once.  Cook another 1 to 2 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and all the sugar is dissolved.  Stir in the butter and vanilla extract and serve hot.  Can be refrigerated and reheated. 

*Note that I had to use about a cup of cream to get the sugars and cocoa powder to form anything other than an ugly gloppy ball of brown.  So don't worry if that happens to you; it's not fatal.

Ryan loved his sundaes with the shortcake crumbles; Mark grumbled that they were just weird.  But you all know and love Mark by now for the grumbler that he is.

Hope you all have a great weekend!  The baby granddaughter is coming on Sunday to spend a week with us, so you know everything around here will be happy!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Independence Day Vacation

Dan came home for 10 days during vacation, and Jeff came up to visit.  He had a foster dog in tow.  I took one look at this face, and said, "That's not a dog; he's a puppy."

So, this is Quincy, the foster.  He was rescued from North Philly, and declared "dangerous" because he guarded his food.  (More on that later.)


 It looks like this is the first time Quincy has seen acres of grass where he can romp and play.  He gave Tank a run for his money, but Tank was very gentle with the little guy.

Of course, Quincy immediately determined that the Great Red Protector is the guy to sit near, because he is a sucker and shares his food.

Jeff went off on an adventure at one point, and left Quincy and Tank to wait with Ryan, who was working in the porch. Quincy stayed within 10 feet of Ryan, making a nest out of a couple of tarps on the porch. Jeff's dogs don't stray when they know that their person is missing.
This is where Jeff went: He and Dan determined that we should have a picnic table.  So, we now have one.  It was a good place to play a board game while surrounded by romping and playing dogs.

As for Quincy guarding his food?  Well, Jeff had been fostering him 2 days by the time they arrived, and he already had Quincy trained to sit in a line and wait for treats.  Jeff has a similar act for when he's preparing doggy dinners; they all sit and wait.  What you can't see in the pictures is that Lilly (a.k.a. Adventure Beagle) dances with her front legs every time there's any food to be had.  It's a funny act.

And, by the end of the weekend, Jeff had decided that Quincy is a great little brother for Tank, so after 4 days with Jeff and Mara as fosters, Quincy found his forever home with them.

Hope you all had a great holiday weekend, too!  Happy Monday!


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Carrot Cake for Cass' Birthday!

Well, there are no actual pictures of a slice of the carrot cake.  But here's what it looked like before we set it on fire...I mean, lit the candles.


Cass decided she was not going to be short between her little brothers.  So she made them hoist her up to their level, leaving me and Shannon looking as if we were standing in holes.

Anyway, the carrot cake.  Our traditional birthday cake is a marble cake, but she requested carrot cake instead.  With my buttercream frosting, because, as Cass said, she looks forward to birthday cake frosting all year long (not that I don't always make it, just that she's not usually around).  I changed it up a bit to make it a little healthier.  Just remember, as I told my dearly beloved, simply because the word "carrot" is in the name doesn't make this either health food or diet food.  Rats.

CARROT CAKE

1 cup flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
6 egg whites or 1 cup Egg Beaters
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups shredded carrots

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flours, sugar, powder, soda, salt and cinnamon.  Add the egg whites and oil; beat 2 minutes.  Stir in the carrots and turn into a greased sheet cake pan (or 2 layer pans, if you prefer).  Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes, until a cake tester in the middle comes out clean.  Frost with my buttercream frosting (1/2 cup butter, 1 pound confectioner's sugar 2 tsp vanilla extract and whipping cream to smooth it out, beaten until creamy) or cream cheese frosting (4 ounces cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, 1 pound confectioner's sugar, 2 tsp vanilla extract and whipping cream to smooth it out, beaten until creamy).  Either way, it's delicious.

That's my feeble attempt to put Bebop on the cake.  Cass loved it; she served around Bebop and took that part of the cake home with her.

Today's Mark's driving test; my fingers are crossed!  Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Edited to add: Mark passed his test!  I am officially finished teaching kids how to drive!