Saturday, August 30, 2008

Home deliveries are the best!

Cathy, you might want to remember this when you move to the wilds of Oregon. Getting the boring essentials delivered from Amazon is the best thing since tea and toast.

The milkman was an excellent find; his organic milk, while pricier than the store, tastes great. And his veggies are wonderful. While I might like to try out his chickens, I'm not emotionally ready for chicken to cost $3 per pound, so I'll stick with the restaurant supply house. So that relieves me of having to go out for milk and fresh fruits and salad supplies (although we'll see how his stock of those goes in January). That left me with only the boring essentials.

My drivers are all in college, and not available for errands. When they're home for weekends or vacations, I'm not all that keen to tell them to go fetch more toilet paper or detergent. And, frankly, I can't get all that worked up about soap and such stuff. So I began researching, and found that the above referenced merchant has an automatic delivery service for many items (I think I love Jeff Bezos for this). While I don't mind going out for "exciting" things (fun food, fabric, etc), I really d
on't relish trotting off to the store for some Cascade and toothpaste. So far, I'm signed up for periodic delivery of oatmeal, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, toilet paper and brownie mix; all of these prices are very competitive, and my buddy in brown brings it right into the kitchen for me. With CVS to deliver vitamins and toothcare supplies, and the online movie rental-delivery by mail thing, life just got a whole lot easier in Marjie-world.

Of course, Ryan was miffed at the boxes I tossed down the basement stairs, so he built a wall at the bottom. That way, I can't go get yucky veggies to cook for dinner! Um, yeah, that'll work. Because I'm so fooled by cardboard walls.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Lemon Torte

Who else has one of these cookbooks? I don't mean the title, I mean the one you bought 30 years ago, with really simplistic recipes, that nonetheless has some happy surprises buried in it?
Don't let this cover fool you. I did not pay $8.95 for this; I think it was being uppity, at a time when minimum wage was $1.26. I paid $1.49 at Kresges in 1978. And it has obviously earned its keep.

Isn't this spine lovely? Clear 2" wide cellophane tape is a truly wonderful thing.

Anyway, one of the hidden gems in this paperback, cello-spined beauty is Lemon Torte. For my friend Paula and many like her little one, this is gluten free. For those of us who adore lemon, this is heavenly. And for those of us who are perpetually watching our weight, it's a caloric nightmare. I do firmly recommend you try this; I've made it a couple dozen times during the course of our marraige, and I wouldn't testify that this isn't my dearly beloved's favorite dessert ever.



4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup sugar

Whip the whites until soft. Add the cream of tartar and sugar, and whip until stiff. Spoon into a well greased pie plate and bake at 275 for one hour. No peeking! At the end of the hour, shut the oven off and wait until it cools to open it, at least another hour. This is what the shell will look like; don't think yours failed because it fell. I've never had a pretty one.

4 egg yolks
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp grated lemon rind

Stir all ingredients together in a saucepan, and cook until it thickens, about 5 to 7 minutes, whisking constantly (or nearly so). Remove from heat and let cool, about 15 minu
tes. Then spread it on top of the torte shell. It will now look like this:

Top with whipped cream. This is your chance to even the whole thing up and make it look pretty. Heck, I guess you can even put nice yellow sprinkles or yellow sugar on top, although I didn't think of that until just now, and it's much too late.

This was another dessert that made my husband go hunt a plate at 1AM, because the pie was calling him. It was all gone before 10 today.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Breaded Parmesan Chicken

This is not, I repeat, NOT, to be confused with Chicken Parmesan, which I do love. I found this idea on Pam's blog, which she evidently borrowed from Ina Gartin (and I have no idea who SHE is, although I gather most folks do). Over the weekend, I actually found a MILKMAN who DELIVERS!!!!! Well, well, well, you know I was stunned. I got a few other goodies from him delivered yesterday morning, along with the milk; among those were a couple of herbs and a sack of tomatoes. Yes, I said a sack. Anyway, I remembered Pam's chicken idea, and, not really liking to follow recipes, not doing the frying thing or the grilling thing, I adapted to my peculiar lifestyle, added a couple of recipe tweaks, and, presto! White meat, which my dearly beloved despises, got a grade of A++. Dang! A miracle! So, here's my adaptation of Pam's adaptation of Ina's chicken thingy.


3 pounds chicken, sliced into 1/2" thick pieces
2 eggs mixed with "some" milk
4 slices bread
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

oregano - fresh or dried
1 stick butter
1 cup shredded cheddar
basil leaves
slices of tomato

Melt the butter in the bottom of the broiler pan. To make the brea
ding, put the bread in the food processor to pulverize (I used my buttermilk bread), and add the oregano (I used the leaves from about 3 stems of fresh oregano) and cheese to blend. Side note for my friend Paula: if you make biscuits from your gluten free baking mix to make bread crumbs, it should work fine for your little one. Pour into a bowl. Dunk each chicken piece first in the egg mixture, then in the breading, and place in the melter butter in the broiler pan. When all are in the pan, flip them so the buttered side cooks first. Broil for 8 minutes on the first side, turn over and broil another 8 minutes. When the second side is cooked, top the chicken with the shredded cheddar, then put one basil leaf and one slice of tomato on top of each piece of chicken. Return to the broiler for 2 minutes. I served this with buttered tri-colored rotini and fresh summer squash (also from said farmer) sauteed in butter and pepper for about 4 to 5 minutes. Poor Thor didn't get a lot of leftovers, although there were 2 small pieces of chicken left for someone's lunch today. Give this a try! It's well worth the effort, and dinner was on the table, with me sitting there, 43 minutes after I walked to the stove. Fast is good!


Yesterday, Thor and the boys were playing with the little boys next door, who have 3 dachsunds. All four boys were quite amused by the fact that the dachsunds were holding a barking contest with Thor, which evidently went something like, "Yip! Yip! Yip!" "Ah-ROO!" And all four boys were mightily amused. Because that property line is far from my kitchen, I didn't actually see this. So, here's a picture of Thor enjoying the summer, as only dogs do.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Beef and Greek Style Pilaf

We're eating lots of beef this week. My next grocery delivery comes on Tuesday, and I'm finishing much of what's in the fridge/freezer. For example, I have steaks to finish. They were the inspiration for last night's main dish, which was meant to be Boeuf Bourgignon (sort of). Since I really didn't feel like taking hours to cook the beef, and also had no mushrooms, this was a cannibalization of recipes, but I did like Craig Claiborne's Greek Style Pilaf.

First, for the beef, I cut steaks into strips (about 3 pounds' wort
h). I melted 1/2 stick butter in the bottom of the broiler, and cooked an onion, cut into half slices, in the butter until it was soft. I then placed the beef in the onion, and peppered it liberally, and broiled for 2 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, I made a gravy consisting of 1 cup beef bouillon, 1 cup burgundy wine, and 1/4 cup water whisked with 1/4 cup cornstarch, which was whisked into the bouillon/wine mix after it was hot. I poured this over the beef strips, and put it back under the broiler for one minute to combine flavors. It was served over the Greek Style Pilaf from Craig Claiborne's New York Times Cookbook. Since Peter M. is out of town, I don't feel bad about repeating this recipe, at which he might well scoff, "What does a New Yorker with an Anglo-Saxon sounding name know about Greek food?" The rice was pretty good nonetheless; it had a rather nutty flavor. Warning: this will not be low calorie, so don't say I didn't warn you to watch the diet....OK, ignore the warning. Life's too short to eat low-cal rice cakes alone.


1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
2 cups rice
4 cups beef or chicken bouillon
salt & pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a pan, and saute the rice in it until golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the bouillon and cook 20 to 25 minutes, covered, without stirring, until all the water is absorbed. Stir to fluff, add salt & pepper to taste, and serve.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Thanks, Claire!

A while back, Claire was offering a copy of Threads magazine and a nice McCall's dress pattern. No one else took her up on this offer before I got there, so I was the lucky recipient.

This afternoon, my boys walked down the hill to the playground behind the town hall, bought ice creams, and picked up the mail. This is what they brought me!

Thanks, Claire! I'm going to have to figure out what fabric calls to this pattern now!

Egg Bread

Another night, another boring meal, according to the boys: roast turkey breast, tri colored rotini in carbonara sauce, and oranges. Oh, yes, and egg bread. They'd probably think happy meals were the greatest thing since tea and toast; I guess they're spoiled!

Anyway, this was another bread I mixed in the bread maker and formed into loaves. It was rather rich, because of the eggs, and had a nice yellow tint to it; made great toast
this morning, too!


1 cup warm water
6 tsp yeast*
4 cups flour
2 eggs
1tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Pour into breadmaker in this order, and let it do its thing, or take it out and form into loaves. If mixing by hand, let the yeast soften in the water, then stir in the dry ingredients, adding the egg and oil when it gets really stiff. Or, in the kitchenaid, just put the whole mess in the bowl, turn it on to speed 2, and let it go for 10 minutes. If mixing by hand, knead for ab
out 10 minutes on a floured counter, let it rise for 10 minutes, and then put it into two loaf pans. Let the loaves rise for 20 to 30 minutes, until doubled in size, then bake at 375 for 23 to 25 minutes. *If you're not time-crunched, you can use only 3 tsp of yeast, and allow double for the rise times. The baking time is still the same.
And I've noticed something: doesn't all bread made in loaf pans pretty much look alike? Sheesh. Maybe I should just recycle my photos. Or not.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Another Beef Dinner

Another weekend gone, and summer is nearly over.

My last college student left Sunday afternoon, so Saturday was spent in pursuit of getting him ready. For Mom, that meant baking a cake in a disposable pan which he could take, and a couple of loaves of banana bread. It also meant treating the windshield of his truck with Rain-X. If you've never had the pleasure of Rain-X, allow me to introduce you. I'm not big on hype, but I hate the reduced visibility that comes with driving in the rain, and this stuff prevents most of that problem. I've told Patrick every time he leaves (and everyone else) to Rain-X their wi
ndshields, and while the others listen, Patrick doesn't. About 2 years ago, he called me in amazement to report that he was the only car left moving on the interstate, thanks to me doing this for him. Evidently, he forgot this experience, because, while I insisted on his wrapping everything in his truck bed in plastic, he scoffed at my contention that rain can happen on a 300 mile ride. 12 miles from the end of the journey, he called me to say he'd just been through a monsoon, and Rain-X kept him moving, and my plastic saved all his crap (yes, he's in college, and it's all crap). Sometimes, it's nice to be Mom and be right.

So, no sewing got done this weekend, and no great or glorious d
esserts - plain ol' cake will suffice when it's needed - but, once again, I didn't want stupid, boring steak for dinner. So, here's what I did:
and here's how I did it:

2 pounds steak, cut into strips
liberal amounts of garlic powder
about 1 tsp of ginger
liberal amounts of freshly ground black pepper
1 pound whole green beans, fresh or frozen
1 can of mandarin oranges
1 handful chopped almonds
1 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water whisked with 3 tbsp cornstarch
2 beef bouillion cubes (I know, I know)

When the rice is nearly done, put the beef strips in the bottom of the broiler pan, sprinkle with the spices, and broil for 2 minutes. Turn over, spice the second side, and broil for 2 more minutes. Meanwhile, precook the green beans for 3 to 4 minutes in the microwave without water or salt. Boil the cup of water and orange juice with the cubes, and whisk in the water/cornstarch mix. Cook until it thickens, and it will be thick, but it thins out in the final cooking with the meat. After broiling both sides of the meat, spread the green beans and oranges over the top, and pour the sauce over it all. Broil one minute, top with the almonds and broil for one more minute. Very flavorful, very fast, very colorful. What more could anyone want? Oh, yes, they could want Peppermint Patty cake for dessert. Lucky for them, it was ready.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sausage Grinders

Last night, I was lazy, so I concluded there was only one thing to do: cook an easy meal. I did, however, feel compelled to cook something better than spaghetti and meat sauce, because Patrick's leaving for college tomorrow. Knowing that everyone in my house loves sausage, and I have a new bread machine (AKA enclosed bread mixer), I was all set to cook.

Have I told you how I make grinder rolls before? Yes? No? Well, I don't remember, so I'll tell you again. It's simply my Italian bread recipe, with a bit of oil thrown in to make the bread softer, and the fact that Patrick took the last half of a loaf this morning, and layered it with leftover pork roast and BBQ sauce to make himself a breakfast grinder should testify to its goodness (if you bear in mind that Patrick is without a doubt the fussiest so-and-so on the planet).


1-1/2 cups warm water
6 tsp yeast*
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Add ingredients in order to the bread machine, and let it knead for 10 minutes. Or, to mix by hand or in a mixer, sprinkle the yeast into the water, let it soften for 2 to 3 minutes while you gather the rest of the ingredients, then begin stirring the dry ingredients into the water/yeast combo. Add the oil before it's all combined, and knead by hand or in the mixer for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth. Let it rise 10 minutes, form into 4 loaves, let rise another 10 to 15 minutes, then bake at 375 for 16 minutes. Fresh, hot grinder rolls in under an hour - who could ask for more? *If you're not in that much of a hurry, cut the yeast in half and follow the same procedure, doubling the rising times. The baking time will remain the same.

And look at what you could be biting into in under an hour! Dang! I'm hungry again!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Date Nut Cake

If you have picky eaters, do not for any reason tell them that this is anything other than cake. I told mine it was chocolate chip cake. And, to a man, they ate it. And loved it. (I had to whisper to my dearly beloved that there were dates and nuts in it, or he wouldn't have tried it.)

This comes from a Betty Crocker cookbook I bought a good 20 years ago, with a title to the effect of Shortcut Cooking For the Smart Cook (I think that's accurate, but I'm too lazy to trot through a couple of rooms to find it). The title of this cake pretty much sums up the ingredients....


1/2 cup chopped dates
2/3 cup very hot water
1/2 tsp baking soda

Pour the water over the dates, stir in the soda, and set aside for 5 minutes while you gather the rest of the ingredients.

1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Add all of these ingredients except the chocolate chips to the date mixture and mix until well blended. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour into an 8" square baking pan. Add the topping:

1/2 cup chopped nuts
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips (which I skipped)

Stir these together, and sprinkle over the unbaked cake. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, or until the cake tests done. While it's still warm, stir together 1 to 2 cups confectioner's sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract and a bit of cream until smooth to make a glaze. Drizzle over the cake and serve warm.

Around 1AM, I found my hubby wandering around the kitchen, plate in hand. "It called me," he said. Of course, he was talking about the cake; he ate a second piece before bed.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Honey White Bread & Lemon Tarragon Chicken

Last night's dinner was Lemon Tarragon Chicken, rice, broccoli, corn and bread. Patrick ate every single bit which had been claimed by no one else, explaining that he's hording calories to survive the fall semester in college. I've made this kind of chicken before, but this time I did it differently. Instead of making a paste of butter and spices, I simply loosened the skin on the bird, crammed chopped tarragon and lemon peel under the skin, then patted the skin back in place, squeezed the juice from half the lemon over the skin, drizzled a tiny bit of oil over it, then salted the bird. With the lemon chopped and placed inside the bird, I roasted it at 350 for a while (which is my favorite kind of recipe and timing....sorry!). I used cornstarch to make a gravy from the pan drippings, and it had a nice tang of lemon to it. Plain white rice is a perfect accompaniment to this chicken, because the lemon and tarragon are such vibrant flavors!

Last night was also the inaugural run for the breadmaker. I didn't bake the bread in the machine, of course; I think of a breadmaker as a nice closed mixer, which keeps the flour from puffing out of the bowl and making an obnoxious mess. If you want to use a breadmaker as a mixer, add the yeast into the warm liquids, then follow with the other ingredients and turn it on! This recipe is from Beth Hensberger's Bread Machine Bible.


2/3 cup warm water
2/3 cup warm milk
6 tsp yeast*
4 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
3 tbsp honey

Add the yeast to the water *Note: if you aren't in a hurry to have the bread get itself finished, you can use only 3 tsp yeast; it will take about 60 to 90 minutes to rise instead of 30 to 40. I am simply waaayyy too impatient to wait - and I rarely plan 3 hours ahead PLUS start the work then! I digress; sorry. Stir the flour and salt into the water and milk, and add the oil and honey before it's completely combined. Using a stand mixer, it will take about 10 minutes to knead; by hand, you'll have to knead about 10 minutes after all ingredients are thoroughly stirred in, until the dough is smooth. Either way, let it rise 5 to 10 minutes, then split into two loaves, let rise about 30 minutes, or until it's about doubled in size. Bake at 375 for 23 to 25 minutes. The crust will be dark, and the honey imparts a different flavor to this bread. Since the boys ate more than a full loaf for dinner, I'd say this bread was a hit!

Thor Playing

I almost forgot it's Thursday. The food post will wait until later.

Thor was playing with his lobster the other night. He puts his paws together around his lobster to pull it away from himself. I refer to him lying on his back as "full idiot pose".

He was also playing rope with Patrick; those two were tripping over the Calvert boxes. The boys have already peeked in their boxes; I'll look through them over the weekend, I think, and put things away.

This is Thor in the kitchen, while I was cooking last night. No one is allowed in the kitchen while I'm cooking, because one of my daughters, when she was small, ran under and jostled my elbow as I was removing a pan from the stove, causing hot sauce to spill down her back. I threw the pan back on the stove, grabbed her, and ran gallons of cold water through the hose down her back. She wasn't burned, miraculously enough, but the next weekend, I made my dearly beloved rip the closet out which had been between kitchen and breakfast room, and we had cabinets built to create my passthrough. I also issued a Mom Edict: Enter my kitchen during cooking uninvited, start planning your own funeral. It has worked for a decade. So after I took this very handsome picture of our boy, I evicted him from the kitchen, too!This week, Thor is a happy boy!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fish and Homestead Bread

Last night, I wanted fish without fuss. What to do? Fish out the ol' skillet, of course, and fill it with fish. This isn't really a recipe, so much as an idea; I make variations of this often, and it sits well. Plus, it was easy to chew, always a plus (although the gums are nearly healed up; now, if only the temporary crown was level....).

Melt 2 tbsp butter in a pan; shave some onion into the pan and saute it a minute. Slice in a carrot and a rib of celery, then toss the fish in the pan and cover it for 3 to 4
minutes. Flip the fish, recover and cook another 3 to 4 minutes, and you're nearly done. Remove the fish from the pan, whisk in 1 tbsp cornstarch and a cup of milk plus a touch of cream, then add a touch of sherry. Return the fish to the pan for a minute, and it's all set! I served this with angel hair stirred with diced tomatoes and cream, plus some nice whole green beans; it was a good meal.
Last night, I also made a batch of homestead bread. Since my bread machine was Kaput, I did it in the mixer again. Try this; it's really good - not too filling, nice and light!


1-1/2 cups warm water

6 tsp yeast
4 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Soften the yeast in the water and add the sugar. Stir in the flour, salt and oil, then knead for about 10 minutes. Let the dough rise for about 10 minutes; split into two loaf pans, and let rise for another 20 to 30 minutes, and bake at 375 for 22 to 25 minutes, or until golden. Let it cool for a few minutes, and slice. This is a really soft bread, and it makes excellent toast.

I was greatly p
erturbed when my bread machine died Monday, to say the least. (And, Paula, the appliance gremlins had better darn well have left the building, because I will be severely honked if a stove or refrigerator bites the dust!) Anyway, Monday night, I ordered a Sunbeam bread machine from for $42, and, of course, I wasn't about to pay $16 for shipping to get it faster. Well, it arrived this morning. I wonder, if I had paid the $16, would someone have trotted to my front door on Monday night? This bread machine has a pretty big footprint (deep, but not terribly wide), but I have a little nook on one counter where the bread machine lives, and this one tucks right in there. So, I'll doubtless give this machine its inaugural run tonight, but if anyone's in the market, this one appears to be a reasonable bread maker at an excellent price! I'll report back tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Milk Bread

I make bread almost every day. The little guys use it for sandwiches, although the college kids all bellow that they want WonderBread. But recently, my bread machine, a.k.a. great dough mixer, has been developing issues. For one thing, the little seal in the bottom of the bucket, around the mixing paddle, has been leaking lately. (It turns out that it had completely disintegrated.) This weekend, the thing in the bottom of the machine that turns the paddle froze up, but I managed to free it up. Last night, no dice. It wasn't turning. Attacking with pliers or screwdriver didn't do it, even my threat of sending it to the dump didn't do it. So, another one's on order, last night's bread came out of the lovely new Kitchenaid mixer, and all will soon be right in appliance world.

This bread is richer than many. It's got a nice, smooth texture, good flavor, and holds up well for toasting or sandwiches, even Fluff and Nutella!


1-1/2 cup warm milk
6 tsp yeast
4 cups flour

2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp butter

Add ingredients to bread machine in this order, or soften yeast in milk, stir in sugar & melted butter, and stir in flour with salt. Knead the bread for 10 minutes, then let it rise for 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to 2 greased loaf pans, and let it rise for about 1/2 hour, or until doubled in size. Bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. This crust will get quite dark if left in the oven. And my new bread blanket works really well, although my family still laughs at me for it!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Butterscotch Meringue Pie

Pie making is not in my DNA. My mother wasn't a splendid cook, to say the least, but at least she sometimes made a cake or nut bread. So I at least understood how to do that. I had pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, and never even had a slice of apple pie until about 3 years ago. ("Hmm. That's strange," I can hear you thinking. Yes, it is.) So, a long time ago, knowing that my dearly beloved loves lemon anything, I taught myself to make lemon meringue pie, using, of course, store bought crust. Some day, I may become brave and learn to make crust. Hey, it's more likely than me running a marathon when I'm 82, right?

So, in perusing a cookbook a while back, I discovered a recipe for butterscotch meringue pie. Perfect! We both love butterscotch and meringue. Aw, crud, it needs a crust. Well, I'll weasel my way through it!

1 pie crust, 9" diameter, baked


3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups warm water

1 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg yolks


3 egg whites
6 tbsp sugar

Line a 9" pie plate with the crust and bake until golden (or use a store bought 9" deep dish crust).

To prepare the filling, in a saucepan mix together the brown sugar, white sugar, cornstarch, salt and powdered milk. Over medium heat, stir in the water with a whisk, then add the cream. Heat to boiling, stirring frequently, and boil one minute, stirring constantly. To the egg yolks in a bowl, add some of the hot mixture, then stir the yolk mixture into the hot mixture on the stove and cook one minute longer. Turn off the heat, add the vanilla and butter, and stir until the butter is melted and combined. Pour into the pie crust.

Meanwhile, whip the egg whites with 6 tbsp sugar until stiff peaks form. Top the butterscotch mixture with the meringue, and bake at 400 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes, until the meringue is golden and beautiful. Cool thoroughly before serving, at least 2 hours, so the filling has time to firm up.
Now, I didn't want to try to make a pie crust. I am very afraid. I may need to conquer my fear, but first I would have to purchase one of those fancy pastry-rolling-out-mats. So, I had some graham cracker crumbs, but only enough to line the bottom of the pan. Well, there's more than one way to skin a cat, as they say. So I lined the bottom of the pan, and stuck meringue up the sides of it, and then poured my filling in, and topped it with the remainder of the meringue. It looked pretty, it worked well, it tasted superb, and the pie crust was rather nonexistent, having melted into the butterscotch filling. My dearly beloved tried to eat half the pie, although I stopped him at 1/3. He never gains weight, curse him! But guess who was in the refrigerator, hunting pie for breakfast?!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Chicken Noodle Soup

Saturday night dinner here was soup and grinders. I needed soup, since my tooth still isn't really healed (damn electrocautery on the gums!), and my gents won't tolerate a meal without meat. So I made a batch of grinder rolls, whipped up some tuna, and laid those on the counter with ham and cheese, and this lovely soup.


1-1/2 pounds chicken breast, chopped in small bits
1/2 onion, chopped up
2 carrots, sliced
4 stalks celery, sliced
9 cups water
salt to taste
(optional) 2 chicken bouillon cubes
About 1/3 pound angel hair, broken into 1" long pieces

Saute the chicken and onion with a touch of salt over low heat in a small stockpot or dutch oven until the chicken is no longer pink. Add the water, carrots and celery; simmer about 10 minutes. Note: You can add a couple of chicken bouillon cubes if the flavor of the broth isn't intense enough, but do so before you add salt. Break the angel hair into pieces - there will be somewhat over a cup of pieces - and drop into the soup. Turn the heat up so it will boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.Yes, I know chicken bouillon isn't a really acceptable ingredient, but sometimes you've got to do what you've got to do. And I know chicken noodle soup uses egg noodles, but they weren't in my cupboard, and you still have to do what you've got to do. And in my case, it was feed growling men. Fast. 20 minutes did it for them!

Thanks, Annette!

Last week, in the midst of the circus and sorrow which is delivering or sending children back to college, this ray of sunshine arrived in our midst:

Thank you, Annette, for sending these CDs to me. Ryan is jealous that Mark will get to use the Child's History of the World CD, and they are eagerly anticipating using the Ancient Greece CD together. Shockingly, no one seems excited about grammar. What's up with that?

Again, thanks, Annette. I ordered my Calvert boxes on Friday; school starts in about 2 weeks.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Santa Drives a Cab in Summertime???

Thanks to everyone who sent Thor sympathy yesterday for having no one to play with. He was miserable because Jeffrey had left for college a few days earlier, since he's an RA this year, and we were taking Kellie to college for the first time, with Cass. Patrick was still home, but most of Thor's people left Wednesday night, and Thor was Not Pleased!

Now, before you hear this story, you have to know a couple of things about me: First, I love driving. I do all of the driving in our household. I've done Cheyenne to Peoria in one day (yes, 1000 miles) once. I've driven the 750 miles to Myrtle Beach leaving my house at 10PM, and arriving there for breakfast. So 375 miles is no big deal to me. Second, I hate traffic jams. I've been known to wander 50 miles of back roads to avoid worshipping at a 20 mile long PENN
DOT erected shrine to Our Lady of Perpetual Road Construction. Single lane traffic on an interstate makes me crazy! Finally, I don't have GPS, and never consult maps. I always know where I am. I'm never lost. I can find my way anywhere.

So, Kellie and Cass filled the back of the Suburban (look at this picture: the bags were 3 feet deep, plus some in the second and third seats), leaving them to watch the back of my "black bus" whenever I needed to change lanes. And off we went at 7:30PM. Not much in the way of construction messes had me very happy. A stop at Perkins for dinner had everyone else happy (except for my dearly beloved, who doesn't like leaving home AT ALL!). So on we went merrily, until Cumberland, Maryland. Around 1:30 AM, at mile 46, there was a flashing sign warning of an accident and "all lanes of traffic blocked" at exit 43A. Oh, c**p! At exit 43D, I ducked off the exit ramp, beside already-parked traffic, and dropped down (literally) into Cumberland.

Cumberland is a very old city with narrow streets (not really large enough for my Suburban), nestled into a hillside, below I-68. As such, the streets don't run parallel to the highway. So I rambled along a mile or 2, until I saw a cab parked in a closed shopping center. I pulled up alongside it, and the driver looked like Santa with a couple of teeth missing, wearing a wife-beater and shorts. I explained the interstate parking lot, and asked if he could direct me to a point beyone exit 43A, and he responded, "Wail, no, ah cain't. But ah'll lead you there!" So I wound around narrow streets, once having to make a u-turn in the middle of a road blocked by a train; the girls were cheering in glee at this turn of events. When he turned into a gravel alley between a white cinderblock building and a bridge, a great roar of joy erupted from the back of my Suburban, and continued for the half mile or so. Bouncing over curbs, ignoring stop signs, it was classic movie chase scene, or as my girls said, "Just like being in a real, live video game!" He got me to a mile from the highway, pointed me in the right direction, and refused my money. Did I mention that I've always been fond of Santa Claus? Anyway, I got back on the highway, and NEVER again saw another car on my side of the highway. Not for another 70 miles. It must have been one heckuva pileup, to have shut down all traffic! But at least I didn't have to park on the highway. (You now know how much I hate to do that!) My Suburban was acting up a bit in Cumberland, and I did threaten to turn into the next dealership and dump it in favor of a 4WD pickup, which seemed to scare it into better behaviour. (Am I the only lunatic who talks to and threatens my vehicles? Sometimes it works, really, and sometimes they call your bluff.)

So we got my daughters moved into their rooms, and Ryan was in tears leaving his sisters and brother behind (Mom hid her distraught feelings well). No car problems after I threatened my "bus" with abandonment, and now my house is far too quiet, empty, lonely....
Edited to add: I just looked at my photo again, and had to laugh at how big this vehicle is. Well, I got 16mpg on this trip (I might have done better had I not exceeded posted speed limits), and all 5 people in this car other than me were stretched out and "chillin'," as the girls would say. I do love big cars (and trucks).

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I'm So Lonely!

I have a lobster and a rope. One of my back legs has been aching recently, so no one will play rope with me.
One of my girls was playing lobster with me. But now so many of them are going back to college. I don't like it when my people leave!Somebody come and play, please?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Chocolate Almond Brownie Cake

Every Tuesday night, we have "Brownie Tuesdays", which involves Mom making a big ol' pan of brownies, and pudding and whipped cream for topping, and all the kids lapsing into blissful sugar coma. Well, this recipe in the Kitchenaid booklet looked interesting, so I tried it. It was quite pretty, and good, too. Chocolate chips could be substituted for the chocolate squares, as could bitter chocolate, with the addition of more sugar.


7 squares semi sweet chocolate (7 oz. total)
1/2 cup butter
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp flour

1 square semi sweet chocolate (1 oz)
1 tsp butter

1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
sliced almonds

Melt chocolate with butter; cool slightly.
Beat egg whites until stiff.
Beat together chocolate mixture, sugar and almond extract. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating 30 seconds after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the flour and beat just until combined. Fold in egg whites with spatula.
Spoon the batter into a greased 8" springform pan, and bake at 375 for 20 to 25 minutes, until set in center. Cool completely on wire rack before glazing.

Move the cake to a serving dish. Melt 1 oz semi sweet chocolate and 1 tsp butter together, and drizzle over the cake. Sprinkle with almonds. Whip the cream with powdered sugar and almond extract, and pipe or spoon the cream around the edges of the cake. Store in refrigerator.
My brownie cake is rather thin, because my springform pan is 9" diameter, but I don't sweat the small stuff. The kids liked this, although it wasn't sweet enough for my husband's liking. Given my dislike of chocolate stuff other than chocolate, I only tried the whipped cream; it was great!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Apple Roll

For my mixer's inaugural dessert, I decided to try - by which I mean mostly alter - a recipe in the Kitchenaid instruction book. Given my great success with the mocha roll a while back, I thought I'd try a more conventional jelly roll type dessert, this with apple pie filling.

I tried to put my filling on waaaaay too thick (note to self: don't put filling in a jelly roll 1/2" thick, you dope!), but the cake was superb, and the concept was sound. I cheated and used canned apple pie filling last night, which I chopped in the food processor, because I simply didn't feel like going out to get apples and make a filling, but the result was fine. Sometimes, canned is just the way to go, although as a generality, I avoid pre-made anything. I'll give you the recipe I've developed for apple coffee cake filling, which I would have used if I'd had apples, but the apple pie filling was good. If I'd been smart, I'd have sprinkled the pie filling with cinnamon before I rolled it, but then, I was not in peak form last night anyway. APPLE ROLL


4 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon extract
2/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Beat the eggs at high speed until thick and lemon colored, about 3 minutes. Slowly add the sugar and beat for another minute. At low speed, add the water and extracts, then beat in the flour, powder and salt. Beat at medium speed for another minute, then turn into a 10-1/2"x15" jelly roll pan which has been greased, lined with waxed paper, and the waxed paper is greased. Bake at 375 for 11 to 13 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for a minute, then sprinkle the top with powdered sugar, place a clean towel over it, and invert onto wire racks. Remove the pan, peel the waxed paper off the cake, and roll up in the
towel to cool completely.


3 cups grated or sliced apples
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water

1/4 cup butter

In a 4 cup pyrex cup, combine the apples, sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch. Stir in the water, cut the butter in pieces and put on top of the apple mix. Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, stir and microwave again for 2 to 4 minutes, until the apples are soft. Let the filling cool completely while the cake cools.

Carefully unroll the cake, spread the apple mixture in a thin layer (1/4" or less), and reroll the cake. Place on a serving platter and spread whipped cream on the top and sides. Note that I didn't think of adding cinnamon to my cream as I whipped it, so I sprinkled it on top, then sprinkeld the cake with colored sugars for decoration. Refrigerate until serving.
Even though my filling was too concentrated in the center, because the cake refused to be nice and roll properly, it was pretty, and good, too! Remember, learn from my mistake, unless you want your apple roll to be a giant goop of apple filling surrounded by nice, light cake!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sewing Weekend

This was a sewing weekend. Despite my great joy at getting a replacement Kitchenaid stand mixer, all I made was waffle batter; I wasn't going to be eating anything other than mush, after all. Tonight, though, I'm trying something new, I promise; details to follow tomorrow (after I figure them out).

So, I'm sure some of you will recall the lunatic who bought 10 yards each of
2 different greens and a yellow jersey knit fabric. Yes, that lunatic was me. Now that I'm somewhat recovered from 3 hours with Kevin the dentist this morning (and drooling less), this is what the weekend produced:

Yellow prin
cess seamed summer dress. I had a favorite pattern, which has somehow disappeared in the last 2 summers. I don't lose things! This was distressing. I did, however, have one dress which I made from that pattern and hated. The fit was fine, but the fabric looked funky to me. So I carefully chopped it up, and replicated the pattern pieces. This is the blurry result; sorry for the photo quality!

Today I wore a princess seamed, short sleeved top I made from an adapted pattern. The original pattern butto
ned down the front; I don't wear buttons down the front. Gap problems, if you get my drift. It worked out well; actually, I've made this about 4 times, and love it. I may try it with long sleeves, but that's a project for September, not August.

I also made this tank top. Nothing special, but fast and easy. I've made this before, so I knew I'd feel good by getting it done quickly.

Last up was this ballerina top. In 1999, I bought a bunch of these in a rainbow of colors. In 2004, I decided I was fat, and these tops were too short. So I took the shortest one apart, made a pattern from it, and I've made a couple of these, too. Good for spring and all wear (and my dearly beloved just loves the neckline).

So, now my desire for yellow clothing is somewhat fulfilled, and I still have about 5 yards. This fabric is really, really wide, so it went a long way!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Kitchenaid Stand Mixer!

A bit over a week ago, I mentioned that my Kitchenaid stand mixer was having issues. Well, these were real issues, since the geartrain had separated, so it would no longer turn the beater; indeed, the beater wouldn't even fit inside the bowl. See?

It wasn't pretty. So I called Kitchenaid. My first indication of happiness was that the lady who answered the phone, Christy, was American. Indians are very polite. I have friends and acquaintances in this country who are Indian born or of Indian descent. But Indians who were not born here, and anyone else from any other country, for that matter, simply don't understand the nuances and implications of what people say. So, we just don't end up feeling like the customer service rep "feels our pain" or understands exactly what we mean. Stupid example: a couple of years ago, when one of my sons was flying from here back to Greenville, SC, for the end of the college semester, his layover was in Charlotte, and they cancelled his final leg to Greenville. No big deal, except that it was very early Monday morning, and his first class was at 1PM, and it was the last week of classes before finals, after which he would receive his Masters in Economics. Except, of course, if he failed this course. So, he had me on the phone, and was trying in vain to work with the reps at the airport in Charlotte, so I picked up another phone, and called airline customer service. I got an Indian. She was very sorry but since his flight had been cancelled, he would have to wait until tomorrow because all flights were full. No talking or cajoling changed her mind, until I began hollering about his class, his degree, and the reparations I would expect from the airline if he did not get on the next flight, in 15 minutes. Only when I spoke a language she understood ("you will be personally responsible for ruining my son's life, and this airline will pay for that, and so will you personally,") did I get any response. Immediately after I began talking about her personal ruination of my son's academic career, she put me on hold, and before she got back, my son's name was called to get on the "full" flight which was leaving immediately. At least with an American, they might have understood that he could drive the 100 miles if they reimbursed us for a car rental. The "I can drive there" culture simply doesn't exist elsewhere. But I digress.

Anyway, after I spoke to Christy at Kitchenaid and explained to her that using one's mixer doesn't cause the mixing head gears to separate, and I knew that the mixer was 4 months out of warranty, but could they possibly assist me, she took my phone number, so she could present the information to her supervisor. This was a Thursday afternoon. 7PM Friday she called: they would replace my defective 5 quart stand mixer with a refurbished Kitchenaid 6 quart stand mixer in my choice of color! Well, if I hadn't been the winner of "So You Know You CAN'T Dance!", and unable to carry a tune in a bucket, I'd have been singing and dancing with glee.

This was not my first Kitchenaid stand mixer. The previous one lasted 12 years, and I gave it to someone else when I bought my new one. It still works, as far as I know. So if Kitchenaid hadn't been so cooperative, I'd have been deeply disappointed.

A week later, this Saturday afternoon, the FedEx dude arrived, bearing gifts from Kitchenaid:
It's so beautiful! If I weren't involved in sewing, I'd have been cooking today! But with a hurting molar, I don't want much to do with food.

And here's the best part, from my perspective:Look at that label! It's American made! I am officially the biggest Kitchenaid fan on the planet today! So the moral of the story, folks, is that if you want a quality product, made in America, and with excellent customer service, find Kitchenaid. No insult intended to people from any other country, but sometimes we just need someone from home to understand our woes. And with everyone's concern about global pollution, doesn't it make sense to buy from closer to home, whether it's food or appliances, and use less fossil fuel to move the goods?

Vegetable Beef Soup

It was a cold night in August. It felt more like late September. So Marjie decided that steak under the broiler would be just the thing, especially since she won't let her dearly beloved turn on the furnaces until at least September 15. Well, that's great, but what about me, with the stupid broken tooth? Soup, again; let's toss stuff in a pan and see what comes out the other side!


1/2 cup small beef cubes (about 1/4"x1/4" small!)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1-1/2 cups beef broth
2 tbsp barley
1/2 cup broccoli
1/4 cup diced zucchini pieces
1/4 cup cut corn
1 tomato, diced small

Satue the beef in the olive oil for 3 to 5 minutes, until browned. Stir in the cornstarch until it coats the meat, then slowly stir in the beef broth. Add the barley, heat to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the vegetables and simmer another 10 minutes. Note to Paula: substitute diced potatoes for the barley, and it's gluten free for your baby. I have no potatoes in the house. ( How did that happen, I wonder?) This is another picture taken for your benefit, before I poured it in the blender. You really don't want to see pictures of brown mush with green grains in it, do you? It's just not a pretty sight.
But, hey, I go see Kevin and get my temporary crown Monday, so if he hasn't beaten up my gums too badly, I can eat real food Monday! Hooray!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Eggs and FB Toast

Around 2 this afternoon, I decided I wanted breakfast. I hadn't needed it earlier, and I don't usually eat before noon anyway, so it was time for some eggs and "fat broad toast" with my dearly beloved.

Background: A few years back, my mother in law decided that I needed a George Foreman grill. It would help the kids make snacks, and it would make delicious sandwiches, and she cooks her meat on hers, so she was sure I'd love it. She probably never got the memo that said I don't like grill marks, but it has been a great item from the kids' viewpoint. Anyway, a while back, I started grilling homemade bread on it
as toast for my husband with his breakfast, and he dubbed it "fat broad toast". Suffice it to say, he'll wolf the stuff when I put it in front of him. So, this is my husband's breakfast today; I couldn't chew the toast *sob*, so I just had 3 eggs with mandarin oranges. I'll bet you didn't know you can eat canned mandarin oranges without chewing - I did! Hooray! Last night I was able to eat watermelon after my soup, and WOW! Was that fruit sugar great! I felt like dancing and singing, except that I can't carry a tune in a bucket, and I'd win "So You Think You CAN'T Dance!" because I KNOW I can't!

It's cold here today - high of 61 - so steak tonight; I'll be eating some sort of beef soup. Updates at a later time.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fish Chowder

In my quest to not chew, while waiting for my temporary crown next Monday, I've been hunting soup recipes. I found several that were somewhat appealing last night, but none were "just right". I was cooking haddock for my dearly beloved, so I decided to create a fish chowder. It was really good, and, while not as filling as the cream of chicken soup from the previous night, I didn't feel stuffed for a couple of hours afterward, either.


1/3 pound Haddock (or any white fish), boneless & skinless
1 tbsp. butter
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup water
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup small broccoli florets

1/3 cup instant mashed potato flakes
1/4 cup (4 tbsp) powdered milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
fresh ground pepper

Melt the butter in a small pan and cook the fish in it, until the fish flakes apart. Add the chicken broth and water and bring to a boil. Add the corn and broccoli, return to the boil and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the potato flakes and powdered milk, and cook another 5 minute
s. Stir in the cream, heat through, and serve with ground pepper. Serves one (me!). I ate it with the last of my sour cream bread from the previous night, warmed up (but not toasted).This was as good as any clam chowder. Yes, I know you are all gasping at the idea that Marjie could possibly use instant potato flakes for anything - so am I. But I had them in the cupboard for making potato bread without the fuss of boiling and mashing potatoes, and thought I'd give them a whirl in this chowder. Again, my picture was taken before I put my soup in the blender so it would be non-chewing texture. I will certainly be making this again!

"I'm Really A Very Small Dog"

During dinner last night, Thor was curled up behind Mark's chair, waiting for anything Mark might drop. Now, the child hasn't been that clumsy in quite some time, but a guy can hope, can't he?