Tuesday, September 11, 2018

September 11, 2001

My loss this year has been profound.  But through my sorrow this date still holds great significance and the memory of horror.

We will never forget.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Cottage Cheese Bread

This one is for Pam in Oregon.

I mentioned that I made Cottage Cheese Bread to go with my Cream of Chicken Soup.  The hardest part of this was getting the cottage cheese up to room temperature so the bread would rise!  (In case you wonder, the microwave works, but be very, very careful, or it will just puff up over the rim of your measuring cup and create another lovely mess for you.  Learn from me.)

COTTAGE CHEESE BREAD

1/2 cup warm water
1-1/3 cup cottage cheese, at room temperature
3 tbsp. butter, melted
1 egg, at room temperature
2 tbsp yeast (1 for slow rising bread)
 4 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt


Add the ingredients in the order given to your bread machine bowl (or follow my directions over there-----> to use a mixer).  Using the regular cycle, let it go through its first mixing and rise, and let it start its second mixing for just a minute.  Remove from the bowl and split in 2; place in well greased or sprayed 4x8 baking pans and let rise until doubled in size.  While it's rising, start your oven to preheat: 350F.  When the dough has doubled in size (about the time it takes my oven to preheat), put it in the oven and bake at 350F for 22 to 25 minutes, depending upon how dark you like your crust.

This bread was really rich and delicious.  The boys - and there are only 2 of them home presently - finished it the next day.  With my soup, of course.  Note that I didn't say this is low calorie bread.  But what's the fun in that, anyway?

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Cream of Chicken Soup

So. I got up Tuesday morning and my tongue hurt.  Trying to eat my oatmeal, I discovered why: an ancient filling was falling apart.  Off to visit Kevin, my dentist, and you know how this goes:

Kevin: "You need a root canal.  What are you doing this afternoon:
Me: "Evidently, getting a root canal, but only if you'll do it."
Kevin: "How does 2 o'clock sound?"

I wasn't in the mood for either cooking or eating that night, obviously, and then Ryan suggested soup as tasty and easy to eat. Sometimes I swear the kid's a genius!

CREAM OF CHICKEN SOUP

2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken, cut up
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, minced
2 carrots, shredded
3 celery stalks diced
1 tsp vegetable base
2 tsp chicken base
1/2 cup rice
4 cups water
2 to 3 cups cauliflower florets
2 cups milk
1/2 cup whipping cream, or to taste
fresh ground black pepper in copious amounts

In your soup pot, melt the butter, then cook the chicken and onion at medium-high heat.  Add the celery when the onion is soft, and cook until the chicken is lightly browned on both sides.  Add the carrot, vegetable and chicken base, rice and water, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes; add the cauliflower, and simmer another 15 to 20 minutes, until the cauliflower is soft..  Add the milk, reheat to just below the boil, stir in the cream and add pepper to taste (I used 30 turns).


I ran a hand blender through mine to bring it closer to a puree, but the boys ate theirs straight.  And they loved it.  There was just enough for each of them to have some for breakfast the next day, and poor Thatcher wondered why he didn't get his share.  I served it with a cottage cheese bread, which the boys also loved.

And later that night, Ryan proved why everyone thinks he's a great guy.  He was out playing chess with friends, and a friend of a friend was showing off his car which had a flashing check engine light.  That made Ryan nervous, so when they were all going home at 2AM, he followed Mr. Check Engine, and, sure enough, his car started smoking from the hood. Ryan called AAA and had the guy's car towed, then gave him a ride home.  Yes, that's one great guy we raised.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Peach Pie!

A few days ago, my daughter's best friend phoned me; she was in town on break from medical school, and would I like to come to her parents' house for a little dinner party?  Of course I would, and could I bring anything?  "Oh, no; my father is cooking Persian food so we're all set."  My translation: Mediterranean food likes fruit for dessert, so how about a pie? 

Now, the original recipe calls for you to peel, pit and slice fresh peaches.  That's so much fun that I decided to leave that task for some other person, and just used frozen.  I also changed the spices a little to suit my tastes.  Oh, and I also doubled the recipe, so we would have a pie at home.  No sense disappointing the boys, now is there?

PEACH PIE

1 batch of the Best Pie Crust Ever, for 2 crusts (see sidebar for link)

About 2 pounds of peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced (or frozen, if you're like me)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp flour
2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tsp almond extract

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Stir together the peaches, sugars, salt, cinnamon and almond extract.  Sprinkle the flour on top and stir in well.  Scoop the mixture into a pie crust, and spread it out evenly.  Gently lay the second crust over the top of the fruit, trim the excess crust off the edges and crimp the crusts together.  Cut 5 or 6 long slits in the crust for ventilation; then brush whipping cream lightly over the top of the crust and sprinkle turbinado (sanding) sugar over the top.  Bake at 425F for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375F (don't open the oven door), and continue baking for 35 to 40 minutes.

Note: Don't be a dope like me!  Put your pie on a baking sheet so the filling doesn't boil over onto the bottom of your oven, set off your fire alarms, and have the alarm company calling to ask you if everything is OK, or if you need the fire department.  It makes the whole baking experience less than fun.


This pie was a great hit at the dinner party; the honoree's brother in law is a chef, and teaches at a culinary institute, and he quizzed me about my pie crust because it was so good. Everyone else raved about the filling.  So I guess this recipe is a keeper. (And of course I forgot to take a picture of the cut pie.  It happens.)

Happy Monday, everyone!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

I had chopped an entire head of cauliflower for dinner last night, and my boys didn't finish it.  Foolish young men!  So, despite the fact that they laughed at me, I wrapped the very considerable leftovers, and saved them for lunch today.  Hello, fresh soup!

CREAM OF CAULIFLOWER SOUP

1 cup water
1 teaspoon vegetable base
1/4 cup sherry
1 cup milk
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup cauliflower
fresh ground pepper to taste

Bring the water to a boil, stir in the vegetable base, then add the cauliflower.  If it's been precooked, just heat it through; otherwise, cook until tender-crisp.  Add the sherry and milk, and return to a simmer.  Using a hand blender or a blender or food processor, blend the soup until the broccoli is in very small bits; the soup will thicken up magnificently.  Add the cream, stir for a minute, then season with fresh pepper to taste.  Serves 2.

I didn't take a picture of this soup, because, frankly, it looked like white glop.  It surely did taste great, however.  I shared with Ryan (Mark stated that if he wanted white glop, he would eat oatmeal), and he agreed that this was excellent soup.  So, instead, how about a picture of Thatcher sitting beside me on my newly refinished breakfast room floor, waiting for me to share my soup?

Silly dog; it's not possible to drop soup on the floor without making a terrible mess!

Happy Weekending, everyone!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A Little Getaway

My daughter was taking her family to Cape May, a lovely beach in New Jersey, for a couple of days, and invited me along.  Well, what else did I have to do for those couple of days?  So I drove to her house, hopped into her car, and adventuring we went.

I had never been to any of the Jersey Shore beaches before.  Honestly, as a teenager in Connecticut, I knew that all metro-New York teens went "down the shore" as they say, and truly wanted no part of it.  But Cape May is just far enough south that only families venture there; the rowdies stay a few miles north, where there is more entertainment.

Without further ado, pictures of my family and me (including 2 of my 3 daughters and my daughter's mother in law) enjoying, or hiding from, the sun:











I'm going to try to return more often; I'm trying to get my life on schedule, but it's really turning out to be very difficult re-centering my life, when I've lost the man who was my sun, moon and stars.  But look how happy that baby was playing in the sand!  Days like that help immensely.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Graduation and Birthday!

So, life carries on.  And on the 12th, Ryan graduated from college.  I am proud of him, and hope he'll continue his education, and set the world on fire; I'm sure that's what we all want for our children.  All but one of his siblings made it home for the event; for me it was bittersweet, because it's the first of a lifetime's of events which will in my mind be incomplete, lacking my dearly beloved.


The following weekend was Ryan's birthday.  Of course, cake was involved.  Despite the appearances of this picture, Thatcher was not involved with the cake.  He was merely hopeful.

I've been working on the PBS Great American Read book list; I've read The Alchemist (very good, fast read), Gone Girl (saw the movie, but the book was still great, even knowing the ending), Their Eyes Were Watching God (this was actually a great book, and I'd recommend it), The Handmaid's Tale (another very good book), and Pilgrim's Progress (I only slogged through 1/4 of this book; it was just too tedious.  I pity Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy for having gotten this book for Christmas; couldn't their Marmee have thought at least of giving them variety, so they'd have more exciting things to read?).  I've started Memoirs of a Geisha today.  I don't sleep much, so I do have to do something...

Happy Wednesday, everyone; I hope your spring is progressing well.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Hanging In There

It's been 5 weeks since I lost my dearly beloved, and it still feels like 5 minutes.  If I didn't have the boys to feed, I'd probably be subsisting on frozen dinners, if I even remembered to eat.  My next door neighbor has been a rock, dropping by with a cup of tea to visit every few days.

Yesterday, we had a fierce thunderstorm roll through - in and out in 20 minutes.  Afterward, I looked out the front door, and was amazed at the myriad shades of green, and sunshine, against the dark sky where the storms were still rolling through to the east of us.


And, who's excited about the PBS Great American Read?  OK, maybe "excited" is a little strong.  But I downloaded the list, and was pleased to see that I've read 30 of the books on it, and have at least 5 more in my house.  I might as well read; the insomnia is going to drive me nuts otherwise.

So, tell me, how many of these books have any of you read?  And are you all enjoying the colors of spring after our rather cold April?

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Last Holidays

Like everyone else, we had Christmas.  Unlike everyone else, we had it 3 times.

First Christmas:

What is Nora studying so intently?
 Grandpa's flying shark, of course.  What else would one get a grandfather?

 Bebop wanted to protect Nora from her bear.

And, of course, first Christmas dinner: Turkey.

Real Christmas:

Breakfast:
 "Will you share with a poor starving doggie?"

 Filet Mignon and assorted foods.  Small crowd.

Third Christmas:
Yes, I was there.



Shannon's birthday:



And then came the visit by the grandchildren for a week, while their father took a business trip to California, and their mama went to get relief from snow.

The children bought this hat for their father some 10 years ago, and our son's wife found nearly matching hats for our son and his 2 kids.

And my dearly beloved's 75th birthday, for which many made the pilgrimage, and we enjoyed a Lemon Sponge Cake.


But a week before this event, my dearly beloved, who had had pneumonia New Year's week, was diagnosed with lung cancer.  He began treatment within 3 weeks, but it wasn't enough.  To cut short a long and painful story, he was hospitalized twice, the second time because his left leg was paralyzed.  The cancer grew despite treatment, broke his spine, and the week after Easter, they gave him 2 to 4 months to live.  He died 36 hours later, on April 6.

My heart is broken; I don't know how to live without him.  He's been the center of my universe for 39 years.  Now, I have to figure out how to recenter my world, and survive for the sake of Mark, who lost his father when he was only 18, and Ryan, who's not in much better shape at 21.  The world is a cold, harsh place today.

Or, as Jim Croce sang on what I believe was a B side of a 45 back in the early 1970s, "Photographs and memories, Christmas cards you gave to me, all that I have are these..."

I'll be back, some time.


Friday, December 15, 2017

Our Great New Lawn Service

So, last Thursday, our new lawn guy showed up at the back door.  Of course, he wanted to be paid for the fall cleanup work he'd been doing, which is absolutely phenomenal.

How phenomenal, you ask?

Well, Tank was here for 5 days, romping about our 10 acre lawn.  And Mr. Lawn Guy was returning Tank's tags, which he found somewhere on said 10 acres.  That's some phenomenal work.

On that note, I thought you'd all enjoy one of the tags Tank usually wears; I hadn't seen this before.

Happy Friday, everyone!  Christmas preparation is about to get serious!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dog Sewing

Yes, dog sewing.

Jeff went off to Joann's and bought a few pieces of fabric that he could ostensibly fold for festive bandanas for Tank, but then suckered me into sewing them.

First up: I made all the dogs bow ties from a piece of flannel Jeff bought that was just 1/3 yard.  I attached plastic snaps to hold them on their collars, and everyone was instantly festive.

Just look how festive Tank is with his bow tie and jingle bells!


At a later point (like last weekend), I made bibs for Nora and Little V.  I will wrap them for Tank to give to his human cousins.

Jeff bought this stripe for his girlfriend's dog, but he didn't like it, so no stripe for Tank.  Quincy didn't care - something about dogs being colorblind - and he was happy being elevated above the crowd.

Bebop models the turkey bandana.  Only he and Tank got these.

Just finished, and ready to send to Jeff: Merry Christmas and Santa Dog bandanas.  These are relatively small, because I put snaps on the turkey bandanas since that was all the fabric there was, and Jeff liked that a lot better than tying them and giving his dog tails to drool water all over.

 I made 5 of each of these, so Jeff can share them with all of the family dogs.  Lily got a Merry Christmas rosette, with jingle bell hidden inside.  I don't think it came out very well, but for my first attempt to make a fabric flower, it isn't awful.  I might take it apart and remake it, though.

So....dog sewing.  Silly, but easy and kind of amusing.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Introducing Thatcher Formally

So, I mentioned that Patrick came home for an extended time; he and Thatcher drove from Arizona (and hopefully won't ever go back).  So, this is Thatcher.  He's a cute little guy.


He likes children and larger humans, too.

He would not jump up to take the specks of food Maddie was trying to share; she had to drop them on the floor for him.  I thought that was really polite of him.

The only problem with Thatcher is that he doesn't like other dogs.  Hence, we had him muzzled for Thanksgiving weekend.  It made me sad.

Anyone have any suggestions as to how we can get Thatcher to be nicer to dogs?  He was growling at Tank, which hurt poor Tank's feelings.  By and large he ignored Bebop, maybe because Bebop had a hurt leg and was just laying around or hobbling when he was up.  It's a shame, because he could have lots of friends.  And since I expect people with dogs to start arriving on Thursday the 21st (only 10 days, folks; time to get that Christmas organization into high gear), it's going to be a problem.

Anyway, I just wanted everyone to meet Thatcher!  Happy Monday!