Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thorsday Book Giveaway Results!

You all probably thought I forgot.  It just took me a little while.  I have to tell you a little story as an introduction to the results.

After the book sale on Saturday, I was wandering around my living room, when I recalled that I have any number of books on the lower shelf of a sofa table between two sofas in that room.  And I don't even really know what's on that shelf, other than the fat Shakespeare, but that's where I found one copy of Ceremony of the Innocent.

And then I noticed that the end book which is standing is really thick, and noticed the first word of the title.

I pulled it out and found.....

...which brought to mind Sue's comment:

"I'd love to read it. I've read other Taylor Caldwell books but not that one.

Have you read And Ladies Of The Club? It's a big thick book about strong women with lots of historical background."

So, since Sue pointed me to a book I already own, she gets Ceremony of the Innocent.

And, because I really don't even need two copies of the same book, I'm also sending one to Mango Momma, because her comment made me laugh:

"Hmmm... am I too late for the giveaway? Sounds like my kind of book."

So I'll be sending each of you a copy of Ceremony of the Innocent within the next couple of days.  I hope you both enjoy it!

Happy Thorsday, everyone.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Apple Filled Coffee Cake

One of the hardest things to deal with in my husband's new, heart-friendly diet is that there is sodium in everything.  The amount of salt in a single slice of bread is just unnerving, so I have to make bread or rolls daily just for him to have sandwiches for lunch or bread product to go with egg beaters.  And then there was the time when he was clamoring for something tasty.  Well, I came up with it.


2/3 cup very warm water
1 tbsp yeast
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup stevia (use all sugar if it doesn't concern you)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cinnamon
3 tbsp powdered milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 apples, diced or shredded in the food processor
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp stevia (or sugar if you prefer)
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp soft margarine

Make the filling first:  Shred the apples in the food processor or dice them, if you prefer.  I just leave the skins on; they are not noticeable.  Stir in the cinnamon, sugar, stevia and cornstarch, then add the water and stir.  Cook on high in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture bubbles for about 15 seconds.  Remove, stir in the margarine, and set aside.

Pour the 2/3 cup water into your mixing bowl or the workbowl for your bread machine.  Add the yeast, and the remaining ingredients in the order given.  Let it mix in your bread machine, or according to my directions (see link at the right), adding more flour if needed to form a smooth dough ball.  Let rise about 15 minutes, then punch down and roll out flat to about 12" wide by 15" long..  Remove to a greased baking tray, spoon the apple filling into the middle of the surface, and spread out to cover the middle of the dough from one end to the other.  Fold the two sides about 3" over toward the center, so they meet in the middle.  Brush the top with nonfat milk, and let rise until doubled in size, 30 to 45 minutes.  Bake at 350F in a convection oven or 375F conventional oven for 22 to 25 minutes, until it's nicely browned.  This can be served warm.

The boys enjoyed this, but my dearly beloved just adored it.  I've been making one of these every 2 to 3 days; that's how good it is.  Indeed, when I place my food order tomorrow, I'm going to need a case of yeast.  That's not something a regular household cook says often, is it?

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Library Book Sale!

The boys and I went out bright and early Saturday to attend the semi-annual used book sale at our favorite little library.

Do the boys look pleased that I made them stand out in the sunshine (only 45 degrees outside, but abundant sunshine was wonderful)?  Dan took up stuffing Mark into the hood of his jacket after I took this picture.  Well, a guy has to be amused somehow!

Upon arriving home, Dan immediately dove into unpacking the books....

while Ryan opened up the bag of baked goods in search of something delectable.

I didn't buy much - a couple of books for the relative in Denver, a cookbook for one of my daughters,

and these for me.  I still have plenty of other reading material, both in real book format and on the Kindle.  But there's another used book sale in 2 weeks, so I might load up then....even though I keep saying I'm not going to buy more books until I get through some of the thousands I already have!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend, too!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thorsday Book Review and Giveaway

My parents were highly irresponsible.  They moved at least once a year until I got to 8th grade.  At that point, I begged them to stay in that house until I finished high school, so I wouldn't spend my entire youth without any friends for more than a couple of months. I still have no idea why they complied.

Anyway, the summer before I started eighth grade, we moved; it was the ninth place I could remember living.  I didn't know a soul, and expected to know no one 3 months later, when school started.  So I found out where the library was, determined that it was less than 2 miles and I could walk there, and did so, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, all summer long.  I concluded that the best thing to do was simply read the entire library, alphabetically, but after a less than auspicious start, I began hunting for books approaching 1000 pages long.  That way, I could bring home one epic and one shorter novel, and have enough to carry me 2 or 3 days.  Thus, I discovered this author.

by Taylor Caldwell

This is the story of Ellen, a 13 year old orphan being raised by her aunt in a small town south of Scranton in the late 1890s.  Tall and red haired, she was considered ugly by everyone, including her aunt.  But Ellen was a kind, trusting soul who took no upset at the taunting of others, simply believing whatever they said.  That summer, her aunt told her to lie about her age, and got her a job as a kitchen assistant in the mayor's house for the summer, greatly augmenting the family income.  The mayor's son and nephew both became infatuated with Ellen, a minor scandal of a sort arose, and Ellen and her aunt were moved to another town to work for a distant relative of the nephew.  This book follows Ellen's life, through marriage, children, her aunt's manipulations, etc.

Not unusual for Taylor Caldwell's books, there is a lot of historical commentary; much of it is relevant today.  Consider this:

"Well," said Walter, in a somewhat hopeless tone, "so long as we have local governments in the jealous states, we'll have decentralized government, and so a measure of our freedom.  But God help us if Washington ever becomes big and overpowering, with a swarm of harassing and arrogant bureaucrats who would rule by fiat and not by law..."

Sound familiar?

Or this:

"He (Woodrow Wilson) approved the Underwood Tariff, which reduced duties on foreign importations. This cheap competition with American industry threw tens of thousands of American workers out of jobs, and induced a depression, and widespread despair..."

It almost makes you wonder if history just repeats itself every century or so.

I love Taylor Caldwell's writing, but this book just made me sad.  Maybe I was just having a sad week when I read it; I don't know.  It was well done, and the historical aspects were thought provoking, but the story overall was sad.  So I don't quite know how to rate it.

Now, for the giveaway: in cleaning up the playroom, and reorganizing the books, I discovered that I had not one, not two, but three copies of this book.  If you want it, let me know, and I'll send it to someone.  Maybe only one person will want it, or maybe I'll have to draw a number, or maybe I'll just choose the best comment, but I'll send a copy to someone.  And you can tell me if it was a downer or I was just having a down week.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Kiwi Fruit Squares

Last week, Michelle, a genuine Kiwi herself, pointed out to me that the picture I posted was of "kiwi fruit".  Fair enough; I'm quite certain Michelle is not a small, oval shaped furry object!  Of course, she didn't tell me why kiwi fruit are sold in a case of 9 baker's dozens.  One of life's small mysteries, I guess.

One night, inspired by my kiwi fruit, I decided to make dessert with them.  This is the result.


1-1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine, at room temperature

3 Kiwi Fruit, peeled and chopped
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup egg beaters (or 2 eggs)
1/2 tsp baking powder

Stir together the flour and powdered sugar.  Cut in the margarine until it all has a coarse texture, and press into the bottom of a greased 8x8 or 7x9 baking pan.  Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes, until it's lightly browned.  Meanwhile, put the kiwi fruit, sugar, and egg beaters (or eggs) in your food processor or blender and puree until well combined.  When the crust is ready, add the baking powder and pour atop the crust.  Return to the oven, and bake for another 25 minutes, until the topping sets.  Dust with more powdered sugar, if desired.

The boys liked this well enough, but my dearly beloved was not a fan.  I had to make him lemon squares the next night.  Of course,this is a heart-friendly recipe.  If you're watching your sugar intake, reduce the cup of sugar that's pureed with the kiwi fruit to 1/2 cup, add 1/2 cup stevia, and proceed as directed.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Garden Tuesday: Brown

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter planted some bulbs in areas where she felt we needed help.

Not much is happening.

We have had peonies growing beside this wall for years, and she added more.

Nothing yet.

She felt that we should have color in this quarter circle (and she hates the tree).

Nothing yet.

Maybe if it warms up after the rain for the past 2 days, we'll get a glimmer of green next week!

Happy Garden Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hybrid Ham

That's right, hybrid ham!  Plug it in, runs on electricity or gas....oh, wait.  I got confused.

My boys told me that calling it a "Hybrid Ham" was dumb.  I told them that since it combines cooking techniques, it is a hybrid.  My kitchen, my rules, right?


1 Ham, semi-boneless
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cloves

Put the ham in a large pot, half cover it with water, and cook for 20 minutes per pound, turning every 30 minutes or so, until the ham is just about falling apart.  Remove the ham from the water and put it in a roasting pan.  Remove the rind and fat, if any, from the outside of the ham.  Stir together the brown sugar and cloves, and add 3 to 4 tbsp of the water in which the ham cooked, just enough to make the brown sugar mixture into a gooey paste.  Spread on the outside of the ham, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 325F, just long enough for the sugar to harden. If you want gravy, take 2 cups of the water in which the ham cooked, and boil it down by half while the ham is in the oven.  Stir together 1/4 cup cold water and 2 tbsp cornstarch, and whisk into the reduced ham cooking water, along with one teaspoon of Dijon or other mustard.

Ham is a surprisingly lean meat; the biggest problem with it is the salt content.  Boiling it for most of the cooking time leaches out most of the salt, and the rub for the outside gives it extra flavor.  It was falling apart tender, and everyone loved it.  There was barely enough of a 4 pound ham left for Dan and my dearly beloved to have lunch the next day, if that tells you anything!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Kiwi

Guess how many kiwi come in a case?


\Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Beef Marinade

In my 1989 American Heart Association cookbook, there's a table which contains the cholesterol levels for cooked meats.  It's really a great table, because it's rather hard to translate raw food into cooked.  But one thing I've learned is that lean beef isn't that much higher in cholesterol than chicken, turkey or pork.  So we have beef once a week, and it helps my dearly beloved to feel less like his life has been ruined.  (Really, this is a man who doesn't love food; one of his most frequent statements about food is that it is "just s*** waiting to happen.")  I found this recipe for marinade in one of my New York Times cookbooks by Craig Claiborne.  Look, friends!  No Salt!  Lots of Flavor!


1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup red wine
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1-1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp (3 cloves) minced garlic
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tbsp chopped rosemary
1/2 tsp sugar

Stir all of the ingredients together.  Marinate your beef in the mixture for at least 30 minutes before cooking.  Easy-peasy, just as I prefer it!

I doubled this recipe for my purposes. I used it on St. Patrick's Day for a brisket - not corned beef, because I dare not offer up that amount of salt - and everyone liked it.  Then I used again last Thursday (or was it Wednesday?) for London Broil, and it was superb.  My dearly beloved didn't even whine about his beef not having salt.  I saved a bit of the marinade before the cooking, and added it to beef broth to make gravy; it was terrific!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  April starts tomorrow, and I'm hoping that the snow we had yesterday was the last of this season!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thorsday Book Review

I bought this for my dearly beloved for Christmas.  Of course, I read it, too.

by Virginia Savage McAlester

My dearly beloved is a big fan of houses. He loves to study the architecture and details of housing everywhere we go. So, when I saw this book reviewed in the Wall Street Journal, I knew it would be perfect for him. At the beginning of the book, there are charts with diagrams to help the reader identify the type of house he/she is looking at. For example, a sketch of a roof with a 2 or 3 word description, and the book recommends looking at one or more type of house to see which it is. However, it's also very good for reading, with chapters on the layouts of early towns and so forth. There is also a section on the housing used by various Native American groups. Each chapter about a style of houses includes a few pages of history, etc, before sketches, details about characteristics of the type, and photos of actual houses of each style from various parts of the country. Good for a long reading session, but it's also a fast and easy reference for when you just want to know what you've just seen.

Of course, I read the whole book, cover to cover.  It also caused me to think about a post Karin did recently about a house she admired in her area, and to recall "the one that got away".  It was a fabulous house, but we passed on it because the estate was selling off the house alone, without most of the acreage, because, naturally, they wanted to build a subdivision on it.  We gave up on the house because of that; the driveway to the house was slated to become the road, and the 3 acres which were offered with the house were almost entirely in the front yard.  It had other problems, including that the "mechanical plant" (translation: furnace) was in the garage, and not included with the house.  It also had a mammoth wing off the back of the house, with thousands of square feet of servant rooms.  I'd have been loathe to demolish it, but it really was useless.  Ah, well, I'm well served here; I love my house.  And, yes, my house style is listed in this book: "French Eclectic".

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: 1928


Entries about school...

And about Scranton.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Garden Tuesday at Sunset

I can't see west from my house; I have to walk out into the street or tromp through the mud to the center of my lawn to see the sunset.

But sometimes, if you look at just the right time, the sunset gives the southeast view a fiery glow.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!