Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thor and Gifts

After we finished Calvert 6th grade, I sent our math books to Paula. She hadn't used Calvert math previously, and was contemplating its use for 7th grade for her son. I was happy to have our books take a trip across country - after all, they'll not get such an exciting vacation again - and happy to help a friend make an informed decision. Well, I got the books back today, and she sent them with gifts of chocolate for me and the boys, plus Nutella. This was mentioned by Kevin in a post about crepes a couple of weeks back, and dummy me, I'd never even heard of it. Everyone else was raving about it, and I'm the dope saying, "Is this a commercial product?" Well, when one of my daughters saw the Nutella, she was dancing in glee around the kitchen with it, and Jeffrey scooped up her with the Nutella, and ran through the house, singing, "We stole the candy! We stole the candy!" So, Paula, the boys had their chocolate in a picnic basket with Nutella sandwiches, Cass had a Nutella sandwich, Thor had peanut butter crackers, and you provided great amusement for all. Thanks!

My youngest son has had issues in learning to speak clearly. Brilliant kid, articulate, but less than fully intelligible. So, this summer, I hired a speech therapist to com
e to the house twice a week to retrain Mark. He is making astonishing progress. But the funniest thing of all is that Thor always attends speech class. No, don't get me wrong; Thor is not becoming more articulate. But he always sits or lays between Mark and the teacher in my dining room, presumably protecting his boy. When Mark has to stand at the mirror to watch himself talk, and see how he's forming his words, Thor stands between Mark and the teacher. He is really a funny dog! This was yesterday, when he didn't want to lay down, and Mark was hugging his dog while speaking.
I tried to make a fabulous sounding orange cake last night, but my almost new Kitchenaid stand mixer, which is 3 months out of warranty, developed some serious issues. If Kitchenaid resolves them fairly, I'll let you know. But, if they tell me to suck it up and buy a new mixer, you'll hear about that, also.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Strawberry Muffins

After everyone pigged out on strawberry shortcake Monday night, there were just a few sliced, lightly sugared berries left in the bottom of my mixing bowl. So, after they had spent the night in my refrigerator, I decided to give them a useful life. Tossing a bit of this and a bit of that in the bowl with the strawberries, I came up with dandy muffins; hubby and sons implored me to write down what I'd done so I could repeat it again. As usual, these are mini muffins, because I'd rather have more than one, if I really want it, and my daughters agree!


1/2 cup strawberries, sliced and lightly sugared
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp strawberry extract

Stir all ingredients together in a bowl. Spoon into greased mini muffin tins. If desired, sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar on top of each muffin. Bake at 400 for 10 to 12 minutes, and remove to a serving tray. Makes 24 mini muffins. Of course, I only got one, and, as usual, there were none left for my dearly beloved for breakfast the next day, which caused a great moaning and groaning.

Strawberry Shortcake

After Thor's unhappy day at the vet's office Monday, I decided a dessert which included our dearly beloved dog was in order: strawberry shortcake. Sadly, strawberry season here is over; however, many of the 24 quarts I froze live on! I laid them on waxed paper on cookie sheets and froze them individually, then transferred them to ziplock bags, and look how perky they still look!

I'm sure most of you have shortcake recipes. Mine is very simple, measuring is helpful but not entirely mandatory. This can be made into individual biscuits or pressed into a round cake pan (my family prefers the biscuits, so everyone gets his or her own personal shortcake).


2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg
7/8 cup milk
1 tbsp baking powder

Stir together the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients, and drop onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 400 for 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 12 individual shortcakes. To bake in a round pan, bake at 375 for about 16 to 20 minutes, then cut into wedges. Serve with sliced strawberries, sweetened or unsweetened, and whipped cream (I whip 1 cup of cream with 2 tsp vanilla and 1/4 cup sugar until soft peaks form). Thor got his shortcake without the strawberries or cream, but he was contented because he got dessert, also. Take that, vet who said Thor was fat!

To use this recipe for biscuits, which work phenomenally with stew, cut the sugar in the recipe to 1 tbsp. For my crew, I quadruple the recipe and sometimes a couple of biscuits are left over.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Apple Coffee Cake

On Sunday morning, I felt like coffee cake. So, after reading some of the Sunday paper, it got to be Sunday afternoon, and I made two apple filled coffee cakes. These are really good, and, while they need a little attention, they are well worth the effort. I offer this proof: half of one survived until this morning, and my 3 oldest sons aren't even home!



3/4 cup warm milk
2-1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp. butter

Add all machines to bread machine bucket and let it knead for about 15 minutes, or soften the yeast in the milk, stir in the sugar and salt, and add the egg yolks, melted butter and flour and knead until smooth and elastic. Let it rise about 15 minutes, while you make the filling:

2 large apples, cored and sliced
4 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
4 tbsp butter

In a 4 cup pyrex mixing cup, stir the apples with dry ingredients; cut the butter in chunks and put on top of the apple mix. Microwave about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring once or twice. Set aside until the dough is ready.

Generously grease & lightly flour a 9" round cake pan. Roll the cake dough out into a rectangle, and fit into the pan, with half the pan's width hanging out each side; smooth the apple mixture into the portion of the dough in the pan, and fold over the dough which is hanging out of the pan. With a few drops of water, close the seam in the center. Brush the top of the coffee cake with 1 tbsp melted butter or egg white whisked with 1 tbsp water. Let it rise about half an hour, then bake at 375 for 24 to 26 minutes.

Thor was eating the end pieces I'd saved for him, which had no filling in them, after his unhappy experience at the vet. The vet told the kids Thor was "somewhat overweight" and should lose at least 10 pounds, and one of my smart-aleck daughters told him he was not so fit himself. My son almost choked.

Thor and Friends

Over the weekend, one of the girls wanted Jeff to give her a piggyback ride. This, of course, caused them all to want piggybacks. So, after one turn around the family room, the second daughter piled onto Jeff's back, and he walked around the family room again. At this point, Thor decided that this was wrong. Notice in this picture that his head is level with his back. This means he is saying "Ah-roo!", which roughly translates to "stop that right now or I shall jump at you!", and shortly thereafter he will begin stuffing his head between the involved parties to cause them to cease their unseemly behaviour at once! Of course, since they were upsetting Thor, the girls stood on their own feet and fed him dog treats.We have had a stressful day. Thor has been favoring his back leg for about a week, so last Friday the kids tookhim to a vet, who convinced them to bring him back this morning for X-rays. After the application of $600 to this vet, it was determined that Thor does not have bone cancer, arthritis, tendonitis, or hip displasia. As I told the kids, he's just a little older, and neither his nor their mother's joints work quite as well as they used to. Well, at least now I can stop worrying about our faithful, loyal companion and get back to cooking and other useful pursuits.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Taco Night

Saturday night was Taco Night this week.

When we were married, my husband promised to love, cherish and take out to dinner every weekend night for as long as we both shall live. Or something like that. Anyway, after about 14 years, he got tired of that routine, with (then) 7 kids to drag along. So, for a couple of years, I refused to cook, instead ordering delivery pizza. Hey, I didn't care; I don't even like the stuff. Then I settled upon a course of easy to cook meals for Friday and Saturday nights, consisting of whatever I could make with minimal effort, at whatever time I deemed fit (which has included midnight,
after finishing a wallpaper project, for example). Sometimes it's pasta with meat sauce or white clam sauce, sometimes it's beef stew, soup and grinders, quiche or tacos.

There's no real reci
pe here, just a picture of my ingredients, which included 5 pounds of seasoned ground beef, 2 pounds of jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, diced onion, and salsa, plus, of course, flour tortillas, laid out on my passthrough for the family (and, this week, a guest who happened through). The passthrough is one of my greatest creations ever. It puts the food out for buffet style self-service without anyone tromping trhrough the kitchen, possibly endangering themselves or me; the location right next to the stove and 6 feet from the sink makes service and cleanup relatively easy. And what you can't see is Thor lying on the floor in front of the right edge of this counter, patiently waiting fot the day someone hands him his own plate. Ah, the power of belief in his humans!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Halloween Chicken

"What is this, Halloween chicken?" asked my husband as the big sons were grumbling about the pollution all over their chicken. Come on, guys, like it or go buy your own dinner somewhere!

It was only 54 degrees last night, certainly not July as we know it. So I decide that the thing to do was make chicken under the broiler with other ingredients, and this is what I came up with. Remember, we're still at summertime "sorta big" family levels, so cut down your ingredients accordingly.

HALLOWEEN CHICKEN (why not, it works!)

4 pounds boneless chicken
garlic powder
1 minced onion
1 can pineapple
4 tomatoes, diced large
2 carrots, grated
2 cups chicken broth
juice from pineapple
3 tbsp cornstarch
3 cups white rice, cooked

Slice the chicken into 1/2" thick chunks. Sprinkle lightly with salt and liberally with garlic powder. Broil for 8 to 10 minutes, then turn over, reseason, and broil for 6 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the chicken broth in a saucepan with the minced onion. Whisk the pineapple juice with the cornstarch, and stir into the chicken broth; bring to a boil. Cook until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes, then add the vegetables and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the sauce and vegetables over the chicken, and return to the broiler for 3 minutes. Serve over a bed of hot buttered rice. Gluten free for Paula's not-so-little baby, and good for everyone.

Of course, you might want to add peppers and/or mushrooms to this, but I'm allergic to peppers (can't even take the smell of them cooking in my house) and averse to eating fungus.

Incidentally, my daughters warned my sons to knock off the Halloween jokes; one of them said she'd not put it past me to google "chicken and pumpkin recipes". To which I promptly went to the cupboard, fetched 2 cans of pumpkin, and said, "I'm ready, guys! Don't tempt me!" Yes, I'm sure you heard the groaning from wherever you were last night.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thor in the Clubhouse

Last night, a wicked line of thunderstorms rolled through. Booming right over our house, poor Thor was scared out of his wits. Since someone had a chair from the line out of place during dessert, Thor crawled under the breakfast room table. He used to do this as a baby, and the space under the table was dubbed "the clubhouse". (Yes, I admit it, sometimes when my kids are being unpleasant, I threaten to go to the clubhouse myself. Never have, though, because I might get stuck there). So, here's your Thursday morning dose of Thor, looking for protection from noise by his people. I'm looking forward to Gaylen's pictures of her happy hounds!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Daughter's Birthday!

My third daughter turned 18 yesterday. She is a delightful girl, even if she doesn't appreciate her absolutely perfect, below waist length strawberry blonde hair with the natural wave (grrr. it makes me mad to just think about how much I'd love to have her hair.)Kellie wanted a marble cake, and her older sister laid claim to the decorating rights. Thus, there's a penguin on this cake. Truthfully, I'm not sorry there's someone elso to take on decorating jobs sometimes; I must've made and decorated around 200 birthday cakes by now? My arm is sore just thinking about it. We got everyone to stand still for Dad to take a picture, although Mark is nearly hidden behind one of his sisters; yes, the three oldest sons are missing. And, yes, I'm on 3" heels, so I'm not appearing as short next to Jeffrey as I truly am.Of course, Thor had to get his picture taken with the birthday girl. What fun would a birthday be without a large and friendly dog?Here's Jeff helping Cass with her cake, after he had finished his own. Hey, you don't think he weighs 220-plus from failure to find plenty of food, do you? Jeff started wearing his hair below shoulder length in high school, when he was working for a mason one summer, and he let it grow out to help prevent sunburned neck and ears. The girls admired it when he went back to school, so it's been long ever since. I figure he should enjoy it now, since male pattern baldness is likely to strike him at some point in his life.

I hope you all had a wonderful Tuesday, although most weren't as good as Kellie's Tuesday. And happy 25th anniversary today to my friend Paula and her husband; she was a beautiful bride!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Banana Cream Pie

Ah, summertime. The desire for cool, delectable desserts abounds.

I must confess that last Tuesday, when my grocery delivery came, I ordered a case of bananas. Again. Sometimes I just can't help myself. I love bananas and all things made with them. So, last night I decided to make a banana cream pie from my dwindling stock. Make the filling first, then prepare the crust.



2 to 3 bananas
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt

2-1/2 cups milk
3 egg yolks, beaten slightly
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract


1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup melted butter


1-1/2 cups whipping creawm
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in the milk. Heat to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. In a second bowl, beat the egg yolks slightly. Combine them with half the hot mixture, then add this to the hot mixture in the pan. Return to the stove, reheat to a boil, and boil for one more minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and vanilla, and let the filling cool.

Meanwhile, make the crust: Crumble graham crackers (1 entire small package from the box makes about a cup of crumbs), either crushing between sheets of waxed paper with a rolling pin, or pulsing in the food processor. Pour into a small bowl, mix completely with the sugar, and add the melted butter, stirring with a fork to combine. Press into a greased deep dish pie plate. Slice 2 to 3 bananas, to loosely half fill the pie plate, into the crust. Pour the filling over the bananas, and place in the refrigerator to cool for at least an hour.

Topping: Whip the heavy cream with the sugar and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Spread over the pie, and chill completely.

This is really rich. What looks like a small slice will be a huge serving.

Of course, if you wish, you can use instant vanilla pudding for the filling. Just replace 1/4 cup of the milk required with whipping cream, and proceed as described above.

This is what was left after we had dessert last night. No one would wait for the picture to be taken before they took their slices. Of course, this is so filling that I ate about 3 bites of my dearly beloved's piece, and nothing more. Now, go ahead, admit that you want this....

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Cakes and Stick Shift

Our third son has been in the southeast this summer, building a house. Bad time to try to get into the building business, I suppose, although if he can make it now, he can make it any time. Anyway, he's been driving a 1995 Caddy that I found for $2000. It's been a trouble free car for 3 years (other than the water pump failure about a year ago), so I really am happy with it. But, since he's always been fascinated by building, and this is clearly what he intends to do, without bothering to finish his college degree, when a friend of mine called and said he was standing in front of a 1998 Chevy extended cab pickup for $2500, and it was Dan Green, I told him to snag it!

Earlier this week, Dan flew home to get his new truck. He brought a present for Thor: a biiiigggg bone. Now, while Thor can haul around the super big rawhide bones, he can't chew them all that well. So, my boys being resourceful, they sawed it in half. And look how happy Thor is!

I still have the Chevette I bought for my 18th birthday, 5 months before I got married. I paid under $4000 for it, it only has 39,000 original miles on it now, and it always runs. Besides, it wasn't ever worth anything for resale, so I just kept it stored in a garage. When we sold that building last year, the Chevette came back here. And it spent the winter and spring under a cover. All of my boys have been hounding me for years to teach them to drive a stick, so, given that I doubt Dan will be back except at holidays, I took him out Friday afternoon to drive around our yard in the Chevette. First, a quick demo of "how it's done"; pay attention to the sound of the engine, the whole thing. I taught him the gear pattern, how to use the hand brake, and, after he'd become sassy in thinking this was easy, I put him on a very small hill in the driveway, and told him to start from a dead stop. Well, 20 or 30 tries later, he got it up the hill, parked it, and declared, "No wonder they stopped selling these things! That's way too much work for driving!" But at least now I know he can drive a standard transmission if he must; my work here is closer to done.

The last night before Dan drove back to the apartment he shares with his brother, an investment banker, we had lemon chicken, lemon rice and sauteed zucchini and summer squash. This is really very easy: slice one (or more) each zucchini and summer squash fairly thin. Melt 1/2 stick butter in a skillet, grind in plenty of fresh pepper, and saute for about 3 to 5 minutes. This dinner served with spinach salad caused Dan to declare, "I really need to learn to cook!" That's about as good a compliment as a Mom gets.

And, of course, what kind of mother would I be if I hadn't set him on the road with plenty of provisions for himself and the brother with whom he rooms? 2 cranberry bread, 3 banana bread, one devil's food cake with buttercream frosting and one yellow cake with chocolate peppermint frosting should keep them happy until at least Tuesday....I hope!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Beef With Ginger and Veggies

This was a throw-it-together-in-a-hurry dinner. But hubby picked up his head and bellowed, "Hey, this is really good!" in the middle of dinner, which told me something. So, try this the next time you're bored with your regular menu choices.


3 pounds steak, cut into strips
garlic powder
ground ginger
mustard powder
Worcestershire sauce
salt (very little)

fresh ground pepper
3/4 pound broccoli
3/4 pound cauliflower
3/4 pound sliced carrots
1 cup beef broth
2 tbsp cornstarch whisked into 1/4 cup water

Line up the beef strips in the bottom of the broiler pan. Sprinkle liberally with Worcestershire sauce, then all of the dry spices except the salt. Broil for 3 to 4 minutes, then flip the meat and reseason. Broil an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Meanwhile, combine all of the vegetables in a bowl with a touch of salt, and microwave for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Heat the beef broth on the stove, and whisk in the cornstarch whisked with 1/4 cup water; cook until thickened and clear. When the beef comes out of the broiler, pour the pan drippings into the beef broth mixture, whisk and return to the boil. Stir the veggies in with the beef, and pour some of the beef broth mixture over the whole thing. Return to the broiler for another 2 minutes. Serve over a bed of rice. Serves about 8.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Three of my teenagers were in California visiting relatives for the past week; I picked them up from the redeye flight at 10 this morning. While they were exhausted, and miffed that I chose to drive a car that had "weak" air conditioning (how would I know? I last drove this car in April!), they were certainly glad to see the big, comfy Cadillac awaiting their arrival.

On the way back into town, my son commented that the grass everywhere is a great idea - he's a fan. They liked the climate, not so much the lack of vegitation, and weren't fans of the insect infestations in that house. As we drove back into town, our squad car was parked in its customary driveway, with the chief of police sitting in it, reading his newspaper. As one of my daughters said, "That's just where he belongs. In another hour, it'll be time for him to go sit on the front porch of the deli, have lunch for a couple of hours, talk to everyone there, and watch the traffic go by.

Life is good in a tiny town.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Artsy Award....Me???

Well, lo and behold, I check my messages this afternoon, only to discover that I've been awarded an award for creativity and good blog design by Paula. Creative? Artsy? Me? Hmmmm.....
OK, maybe that picture is artsy. But, it really did occur, outside my front door a couple of days after Christmas. The color is not photoshopped. And I got lucky and found it, so does that make me creative? Thanks, Paula.

As I said, this award is given for creativity and design and so forth; see here for the original explanation, in Spanish, which I comprehend almost not at all. But the award is pretty, isn't it?

These are the rules of this award:

1. Choose 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and their contribution to the blogging community.

2. Each award has to have the name of the author and a link to his or her blog.

3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name of and link to the blog that presented her/him with the award.

4. The award winner and the one who has given the prize has to show the link of Arte Y Pico blog so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5. Show these rules.

Well, Paula, you chose 2 of the 5 people I'd have chosen, plus yourself; dangit, now I have to think harder. So, without further ado, here goes:

Gaylen of GMarie. Nice photos; a lady who sews like I do. Plus, I love her dogs. Check out Lucy and Beau; what's not to love about those faces?

Kevin of Closet Cooking. What's not to admire about someone who cooks in a self-described "kitchen the size of a closet" and makes such handsome looking food?

Trina of Nitoy's Homeschool Journal. I love her photos of Manila...a world away from me, a place I will never see, and yet, teaching the child is so much the same!

Cidell of Miss Celie's Pants. Pretty clothes, great sewing commentaries, great photos when she goes to visit her mom in Panama, another place I will never see, a nice, down-to-earth style.

I'll have to defer the fifth award; my brain is whirling about what I like and why. And in conclusion, I would like to thank my dearly beloved, my children, my kitchen, Calvert School and my dog, without all of whom this blog wouldn't be possible.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Chicken in Parchment

This was a double try-somethng-new dinner, and it all worked. How lucky is that?

The big kids were out, so I had a small family for which to cook. Yeah, I know most people think 2 adults and 2 children is normal, but when you're acclimated to cooking for a group roughly one fourth the size of a traveling circus, it's a small family.


Tear off pieces of parchment or foil approximately 18" long. Pile on each piece, in an amount appropriate to the person being served, in this order:

Italian green beans or whole green beans
Chicken cut into 1/2" wide strips
garlic powder, oregano, paprika and salt
mushrooms (optional)

Sprinkle olive oil over the top of the pile, fold the paper or foil over and crease twice, then crimp the ends. Bake at 475 for 15 to 20 minutes, or cook on the grill for about the same time. Meanwhile, prepare the....

Angel Hair with Italian Parsley Sauce

1 pound angel hair, cooked and hot
1 stick butter
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped Italian Parsley
fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

In the same pan in which the angel hair was cooked, melt the butter with olive oil. Saute the garlic cloves for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the parsley and pepper. Turn off the heat and stir the angel hair into the sauce. Top with the parmesan and serve. This has a lot of flavor, and will stand up to the heartiest of dishes!
So, while this was not quite a panless meal, my dearly beloved was pleased nonetheless. And cleanup? Well, no big least there's no broiler pan or roaster!

Friday, July 11, 2008


Here we go round the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, the mulberry.......Tree.

The lovely
nursery rhyme lied to us all. The mulberry bush is a tree. And, as you can see, mine is in a corner, so we can't even dance around it. This tree was here when we moved here. I had no idea what it was the first time the kids started talking about this berry tree, so I clipped a branch and sent it to a boy scout leader we knew. After learning that mulberries are "great", all 9 of the children have spent many happy hours over many happy years sitting in this tree, filling their faces with pretty little deep purple berries.

the little guys came inside and grabbed a mixing bowl, and took it outside. An hour or so later, they came in with these delightful little gems. The operative word here is "little". Most mulberries are under 1/2" long. They are very sweet, with no tart overtones to them as raspberries have. The boys, of course, wanted to know what I could do with them. Hmmm.....the 1930s Encyclopedia of Cookery says only that they are native to North America, very sweet, work well in baking, and have never caught on in this country. Well. How about muffins?

Inspired by Kevin's Strawberry Sour Cream bread, and Peter's Amygdolata, I created a new muffin recipe, very filling, doubtless quite caloric, and very flavorful.


3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup mulberries

Sift together the dry ingredients and add the eggs, sour cream and oil. Beat gently until smooth. Stir in the mulberries. Spoon into mini muffin pans, and bake 12 minutes at 400 degrees. Makes 48. You could also use 24 normal muffin pans, and bake probably for about 20 minutes. I guess mulberries aren't popular because they're not commercially available, because it certainly isn't due to a lack of nice smooth, mild, sweet flavor! Try these if you ever get your hands on some!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Strawberry Bavarian Cream

Luscious. Creamy. Cool. Fattening. Everything you want in a summer dessert is right here.

I spotted a recipe for Bavarian Cream in one of my cookbooks when looking for something else, and when I got my last batch of strawberries, I studied a few recipes to find one that worked. The first thing I noted was that most called for Lady Fingers lining the dessert glass, so I had to hunt a recipe for those, too. Solution found in my 1930 Encyclopedia of Cookery. Well, now that I can make them, is English Trifle far behind? Anyway, first....


2 eggs, separated
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a large baking tray and line it with parchment.

Beat the egg whites until soft. Add some of the sugar (less than half) and beat until stiff. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until very thick. Fold in half the egg white, then the flour, then the other half of the egg white. Scoop into a pastry bag with a 1/2" round tube, pipe finger length cookies onto the tray, and bake for 8 minutes. Remove the paper from the sheet with the lady fingers on it, allow to cool, and remove from the paper. Makes about 4 dozen. I had to threaten my husband with a wooden spoon to keep him from eating all of these while I made the strawberry part of the
dessert. (And you know he was scared. He's only a foot taller, and only outweighs me by about 90 pounds.)


1 envelope plain gelatin
2 tbsp. cold water
1 cup crushed strawberries
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar

Pour the cold water into a large bowl, and sprinkle the gelatin on top of it; let it sit about 5 minutes to soften. Hull the strawberries and crush in the food processor. Then, warm and stir the gelatin in the large bowl, which will start out looking a lot like a bowl of wet sand, over a pan of hot water, double boiler style, stirring occasionally, until it's dissolved. Remove from the hot water,s Stir in the crushed strawberries and chill until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Whip the cream with the confectioner's sugar until medium stiff; stir into the strawberry mixture and refrigerate for about an hour. Line parfait or dessert glasses with the lady fingers (I spooned a bit of the strawberry bavarian cream into the bottom of each glass so the cookies would
stay upright), then fill the glasses with the cream. Serve topped with strawberries and, if desired, blueberries.
Luscious. Cool. Creamy. Fattening. And pretty, too!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Almost Amygdalota

I saw this recipe a while back in Peter's excellent blog (which, by the way, is a place to avoid if you even think you might be hungry). I love almonds, my dearly beloved loves almonds, and, happiest of all, the children do NOT love almonds, which means that the love of my life could have all the cookies he wanted, maybe tossing a couple my way, without competition from the kids, especially the big boys, who are known to eat everything in sight!

Anyway, his procedure was a bit vague, so, like a dumbass, I just whipped the egg whites with the sugar, then dumped in the almonds, and the result is the somewhat shapeless mass you see here. Well, they were surprisingly filling, and absolutely fabulous, fabulous, fabulous! So, I plan to try these again really soon, and here's Peter's recipe, with how I'll proceed "next time".


4 egg whites
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 cups almonds
4 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 325. Grease cookie sheets, then line with waxed or parchment paper (very important!) Grind the almonds to a fine powder in the food processor or blender.

Whip the egg whites until soft, then add the sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, and almond extract, 1 tsp at a time, and whip until very stiff. FOLD IN the almonds. This was, I believe, my error, because Peter told me to beat everything together until stiff. My egg whites went soggy when I added the almonds, so, Peter, if I should not fold in the almonds, but beat them for, say 10 minutes, and that will solve my problem, please tell me. I digress. Anyway, put little mounds of "dough" on the cookie sheets, and, if desired, top with a slivered almond slice (which I didn't do). Put in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until th edges are dried and the cookies are very light beige. Remove the paper or foil from the cookie sheet to a wire cooling tray, and let them cool completely. Then they will peel off very nicely. (That was the part I actually got right!) This recipe made about 3 dozen, and I intend to make more the next time I get my paws on almonds. Peter, dear, kind sir, another wonderful creation, even if I botched it a bit! My picture is how these cookies should not look, but I will post again if I make them prettier next time. And, Paula, try these for Little Miss. They are surprisingly filling, and, did I say that they are delicious? Thanks for the recipe, Peter; see, not only do I drool over your food, I even cook it sometimes!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fireworks Cup Cakes

I saw this idea in my local paper last Wednesday. I thought it was adorable, but didn't have ingredients, so I stored it in the back of my sometimes-scattered brain. The kids were delighted, my dearly beloved said it looked like a restaurant dessert, and a good time was had by all - except me, that is - I ate my berries straight, with nonfat milk and no sugar - booorrrring, I know....

Anyway, you can use 1-1/2 cups of yellow cake mix with one egg, 2 tbsp. vegetable oil and 5/8 cup water, beaten together for 2 minutes, to make about 8 cup cakes, or you can try this old recipe, adapted from my 1950s era McCalls cookbook:

YELLOW CAKE (Size: Small)

1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp. butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk

Sift together the first three ingredients and set aside. Beat together the butter, sugar, egg & vanilla until smooth. Add the flour mixture and milk alternately. Beat until smooth.

Spray the entire inside of coffee or tea cups with nonstick goop, and place them on a large baking tray. Spoon the batter into the cups, filling them only 1/3 to half full. Place the tray in a cold oven, so as to reduce the possibility of breaking your cups, turn the oven on to 350, and bake 20 to 25 minutes (maybe more, depending upon the size of your cups). They will take about 5 minutes longer than you think, because you're starting with a cold oven. When they test done with a toothpick, put the entire tray aside for a few hours to cool.

To serve, place each cup on a saucer. Whip about 1-1/2 cups heavy cream with 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 cup sugar until fluffy but not hard. Spoon a liberal amount of whipped cream onto each cup cake, then top with blueberries and strawberries. Just before serving, for the fireworks, sprinkle pop rocks on top of each cup cake! It's a riot to listen to your dessert popping away - when you have 5 of them making noise right beside you, it's pretty loud. All of the kids thought this was a really fun dessert, and they thoroughly enjoyed every bite of it!

Monday, July 7, 2008


The last trip to the strawberry patch this season occurred this afternoon. *sob* The kids only got about 14 pounds of the red, luscious gems. We'll have to see how I can find ways to enjoy these, also. But, hey, Mark's pretty pleased with himself, isn't he?

Burger & Dog/Sausage Rolls

Poor Thor had a terrible weekend. People started lighting fireworks as early as Thursday night, which delights the kids, and terrorizes the animals. Thor spent Thursday night trying to figure out how to get under Dad's chair. He's the Alpha Dog in the house, he will protect small dogs, right?

Friday, I was futzing with the treadle machine - and I got it mostly figured out, although I still have tension issues to puzzle through - and so Thor took up hiding under the swing-open leaf of the machine, trying to stuff his head through the cast iron leg and onto the treadle with my feet. It was most funny, but not photographed because he glued himself to my leg when I stood to get my camera. Poor baby wouldn't go out to get a drink or relieve himself or anything.

Saturday was much quieter, but we went for a picnic at a private lake, where friends of the little guys are members. Now, it's not much of a stretch to imagine how much I adore picnics. There's nothing this girly girl loves more than sitting on a grubby wooden bench or chair and eating with all manner of flying insects. Oh, yes, other than NOT doing those things. So you have to picture my method of packing for a picnic. I gave in and allowed the kids to buy disposable plastic plates and cups, which I abhor, but made them get a tablecloth for my table. Those things got packed in a huge basket with my rolls, which were wrapped in a small bath towel. Yes, you should pack your baked goods with a towel. They will stay very fresh, and not get soggy, because the towel wicks away the condensate! Someone was running a grill, so I packed meat in a cooler, along with salad ingredients, and we carried a big, ugly tupperware bowl to make the salad in. Oh, yes, I also brought s few citronella candles to try to keep the nasty flying things away from my food. And, no, Thor didn't go, because they had fireworks at this private lake, and we didn't need him howling in fear. I left him home with the TV on for company. I don't know how much he likes PBS, but it's better than being home alone, and maybe things outside would be booming again!



2 cups warm water

6 tsp yeast
4 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp salt
6 cups flour
6 tbsp powdered milk

Add the yeast to the water to soften. Add the flour, then all of the other ingredients. Mix with a kitchenaid mixer, or stir together with a wooden spoon, and knead for 5 to 8 minutes. Let the dough rise for about 15 minutes, then punch down and divide into 24 pieces. Flatten into burger rolls or hot dog (or sausage) buns and place on greased trays with cornmeal sprinkled on them. Let rise until doubled in size, about 15 to 20 minutes, then bake at 375 for about 20 minutes. These are positively the best burger or dog rolls ever!Adapted from Donna Rathmell German's Bread Machine cookbook. Sorry, but this one is too big to go into the bread machine.

And, yes, I did wear appropriate 4th of July colors to the picnic. White denim skirt, dark blue top with flutter sleeves, and maroon strappy sandals with 2" heels. I also had a small American Flag standing in my bread basket.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Pulled Pork

A while back, I wrote about "sorta" pulled pork, using the leftovers from a pork roast we'd had a day or 2 earlier. Well, in my comments, Debbie Cook offered me assistance.

A funny side note: Whe we moved into a different school district when I was in 8th grade (it was my 11th school; no, my parents were not military, and had no other similar excuse for moving all the time), there was a girl there named Debbie Cooke who was one of the very few people I ever met who was as pathetic as me at gym class. Hooray! We were friends! On the rare occasions when one of us was made a gym team captain, our first choice was always the other; it was the only time either of us was not chosen dead last. Given that this Debbie Cook was in Florida, where my 8th grade friend had moved ultimately,
and about the same age as me, I thought she might be my friend. But no, she's just another really nice person, and great seamstress to boot.

Anyway, Debbie gave me her recipe for pulled pork. It sounded terrific, despite the fact that I don't have a crock pot. (Whi
ch is for 2 reasons: first, I don't do one pot meals, except stew. Give me segregated food. No gravy either, except for the occasional very tiny amount of a very delicate sauce on the side of my plate for dipping food into. Really. The second reason is that they don't make 4 gallon crock pots, as far as I know. And I use a 16 quart stockpot for stew. And most of it gets eaten the first night, and it's all gone after lunch the next day. Really.) My only variation from Debbie's recipe was that I didn't have molasses, so I skipped it. So, my pulled pork is rather light in color. I served it with my Italian bread, which is an entry for another day. Like she said, there was some left for lunch for a couple of days. Another good, easy weekend meal. Some sewing needs to be done this weekend, and we have a couple of picnics I may not be able to wiggle out of, so tonight was sewing night, not "cook a 4 course meal" night.

Happy Independence Day, Everyone!

Roast Beef with Tomato Vinaigrette

Not so much a recipe as an idea, this was a dandy roast nonetheless. I had just a wee bit, perhaps 2 ounces, of Peter's Tomato Vinaigrette dressing. I also had an eye round roast, notoriously lean and often tough. What to do? Pour the dressing over the roast, let it sit for may hours, and roast as normal, at 310 degrees, covered for the first half of roasting, and uncovered for the latter half, until it reaches 140 on the thermometer for rare beef, with cut up redskinned potatoes in the pan (seasoned with oil, garlic salt, oregano & minced onion). After removing the potatoes from the pan, I scraped the tomato bits off the top of the beef, and into the pan drippings, and used the whole thing to make a lovely gravy. I don't want to say it was good, but there was barely a scrap for poor Thor out of a 5 pound roast and 4 pounds of potatoes. So I guess others said it was good for me.

For dessert, I served my French Apple Cobbler. I was thinking about this for Paula; why can't the topping crust be made with your gluten free flour for Little Miss? Trust me, with either ice cream or whipped cream, this one's going to fly off your dessert table, too. (I've also made it with canned apple pie filling, in a dead-of-winter emergency, when I just had to have a hot fruit dessert or else I'd just "die" of winter doldrums. It works.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Blueberry Sour Cream Pound Cake

Last night, one of my daughters begged me to make pound cake. Since I love it, too, it was no hard sell. Since I'd seen blueberries in the supermarket ad for "buy one, get one free", I sent her after 2 boxes of them (along with 8 gallons of milk, to last until Friday). So, from the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, c. 1989 (y'know, the red checkered one), here it is:


1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 cup sour cream
3 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 pint fresh or frozen blueberries.

Let the first 4 ingredients come to room temperature, about an hour. Beat the butter until soft, then beat in the sugar, 1/4 cup
at a time, until it's light yellow in color. Beat the eggs in one at a time, then add the vanilla. Sift together the flour, powder and soda. Add half the flour mixture, followed by half the sour cream, then the balance of the flour and sour cream. Gently stir in the blueberries. Turn into 2 greased and floured loaf pans and bake 60 to 75 minutes at 350. I used my 8x4 loaf pans, which I prefer (for no good reason), and these loaves were scrumptious. A full one disappeared last night, topped with sliced strawberries and whipped cream. Unfortunately, no photos of the whole dessert appear, because the kids snagged theirs waaaaayyyyy too fast for me to take pictures. Isn't that a hallmark of a delectable goodie?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Treadle Sewing Machine

About 2 months ago, I found a nice White treadle sewing machine for sale in Pittsburgh. Since none of my kids could pick it up on the way home from college - too much crap - sorry, very important stuff - in their cars, I arranged for shipment. Well, the carrier busted it up. (Can you see the steam rising from my ears still?). Broke a cast iron leg and the wood front. Long story short, they paid for the freight and my purchase, and I had a couple hundred pounds of wood and cast iron. Wasn't this lovely?

Well, I don't give up. I've wanted a treadle sewing machine since I was about 8. And I was going to have it. So I researched how to weld cast iron, then found someone who could do so. And they fixed that broken leg for $37. Yes, $37! Then it was time for me to do what I'd planned all along: make it pretty.

Rustoleum high gloss black enamel is great stuff. If you're spraying parts that move, the trick is to keep them moving while the spray flies (after putting a couple of drops of WD-40 in the joint so residue can't filter in). Then, for an easy, all in one woo
d finish, I used a product that I use whenever I want to make my wooden French Doors around here look new and spiffy: Polyshades by Minwax. Stain and varnish in one. Use one brush, wrap it in nail polish remover soaked paper towels followed by plastic wrap to keep it fresh overnight while the first coat dries, then do an additional coat, and heave the brush. Note: Don't use the cheapo brushes with the black shiny bristles. Those suckers drip like no one's business. So, yes, you'll be throwing away a $5 brush, but it can be used over the course of several days. My wood was pretty well beat up, but I sanded it gently, so as not to peel off the veneer, and put 5 coats of Polyshades on it between Thursday and Sunday. Then we hauled it out of the basement, plopped it in the middle of the family room, Ryan grabbed the sewing machine and helped me put it in the cabinet, and we laboriously attached the new belt. Lo and behold, it appears to work! Ryan spent hours yesterday cleaning the plated parts with WD-40, sewing machine oil and steel wool. Then I had a brilliant idea for cleaning the paint: Why not use Turtle Wax Bug & Tar remover? It works on cars, right? Well, look how pretty it looks now!

And Ryan had a great time figuring how to make it work. Now, I only have one minor problem: Does anyone out there know how to take the bobbin out of this sucker? I'm sure I can figure out how to thread it, but if I can't take out the bobbin, I can't try it out, can I?

Edited at 9PM: Yippee for me! I figured out how to take out the bobbin. Threading hasn't gone as well, yet, but I did get 6 stitches before the thread broke. Now, on to threading.....