Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Baby's 9th Birthday

Yesterday was Mark's 9th birthday. For nearly a quarter of a century, I've had little kids around the house, and now my baby is 9. This is really hard for me to believe. Where did the time go? Recently, when we were discussing the fact that Mark's birthday was coming, Ryan piped up and offered that he remembered when Mark was born (Ryan was 3). He said he was really excited when Daddy told him that they were going to see Mommy and his new baby brother in the hospital, and really disappointed when they got there. "Where's the brother, and why is everyone so excited about this howling pink thing?" Great perspective, but I'm glad that cooler heads prevailed and we kept the howling pink thing.

Because Mark's birthday was a Wednesday, no one came home to celebrate. Everyone did call him, however, and many of his older brothers and sisters sent him presents. I'm so proud that they think so highly of each other that they put forth such effort. In honor of Mark being a dragon for Halloween, I put a dragon on his cake, which you really can't see here.

And what party would be complete without Thor in his birthday hat?
His head's way too big, and the elastic broke going around him, but he sat still (sort of) for the picture, anyway.
Happy Birthday to my baby, happy Dogs on Thursday to the rest of the world, and now I simply must finish Ryan's wizard costume. Nothing like the last minute crush to inspire one, is there?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lemon Pudding

This is another non-custard pudding, brought to us courtesy of Fanny Farmer. Since I have a family full of lemon fanatics, I thought this would work out well. Sure enough, my dearly beloved finished it for breakfast and promptly informed me that this had the usual problem: it was too small. Well, thank goodness he's around to diagnose these problems, and save me from leftovers, to boot.


3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

3 egg yolks
2 tbsp melted butter

2 tsp lemon rind
1/4 cup lemon juice
1-1/2 cups milk

Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.

Beat the egg whites until stiff; beat in the 1/2 cup sugar and set aside.
With the same beater, beat the egg yolks until thick and lemony. Add the remaining ingredients in that grouping, and mix completely. Mix in the dry ingredients, then fold in the egg whites. Pour into a greased 2 quart baking dish, place in a larger dish containing 1/2" of hot water, and bake 45 minutes at 350F.

The bottom of this cake is a lemon custard. My husband did gripe that it wasn't lemony enough for him, so the next time I make it, I'll add some lemon extract. I served this with whipped cream, and it lasted no time at all.
And while I'm still not at all certain what makes a cake into a British pudding, I still like this.

Global Warming?

Dear Al Gore,

I want my global warming back. Seriously. The leaves haven't even all changed color, and this happens?
Sorry, but it's just wrong.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Halloween planning

Yes, it was my birthday on Friday, and my very sincere thanks to all of you who chimed in with good wishes. I don't think so many people have sent me birthday greetings since 4th grade, when everyone was required to say Happy Birthday to everyone else in the class on the appropriate date. All of my college kids who weren't home for the weekend called, and one even sent a present. It doesn't get much better than that! I have never really acknowledged to the kids how old I am, because I never wanted them to feel obligated to do anything for me, but I'm now officially 48 (or, as my kids say, 21). Anyway, I got an ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer for my birthday - the official story is that my dearly beloved called up and told them to ship one - and the boys wrapped it for me and surprised me. Life is good in my little world.

Friday and Saturday were rainy and crummy, so when the rain cleared Sunday, we hopped off to the pumpkin patch to get the boys their pumpkins. Wasn't it beautiful?
59 degrees, too - what more can we ask at the end of October? Afterward, we meandered over to the fabric store for costume inspiration. I have to create a wizard by Thursday, but Mark wants to use a dragon costume I made a few years back for Ryan - hooray! It was a great costume, although I may have to lengthen the legs, since Ryan was 5 months younger when he wore it than Mark is now. I'm sketching out the ideas for the wizard-wear; updates later in the week.

Wasn't my back terrace pretty yesterday?

And don't you just love my burning bush, which Ryan dubbed "absurdly loud"?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bread Stuffing and Bread Pudding

Well, some dope allowed her house to run out of potatoes, pasta and rice. Just how difficult is that to accomplish? OK, to be fair, I knew it would happen; I can count, after all. So the plan was roast chicken with stuffing Thursday night. Then I found a recipe for bread pudding in that Fanny Farmer cookbook, and I knew I needed that, too! So, an extra large batch of one kind of bread Tuesday, and a different kind Wednesday were in order.


Toasted Bread Cubes - 1-1/2 to 2 pounds
2 sticks butter
1 large onion, minced
1 large carrot, minced
2 apples, shredded
1 cup chopped walnuts
Poultry Seasoning - 1 or more tbsp
Sage - 1 or more tbsp

Pepper - plenty
6 or more cups chicken broth

I used Italian bread for this (and it doesn't appear I've ever written about it - huh!). Dice the bread into pretty large cubes, let it dry out on a rack overnight, and toast the cubes in the oven. Note: learn from me. Do not become impatient with the toasting, and put the cubes under the broiler. Bad things happen to good bread left too long under the broiler. But I digress.

Melt the butter in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot, and saute until soft. Stir in the apple, walnuts and seasonings, cook for another minute, then pour in 6 cups of broth, and let it simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the bread cubes, add more broth if the stuffing isn't wet enough for you, cover and let sit for a few minutes off the burner. This is great for Thanksgiving, and you can bet that's what I'll be serving, although I plan to buy my bread cubes. I figure I have enough to do without chopping up bread. Note that most recipes call for the crust to be removed from the bread. I left it on; no one should object to a little crust on their stale, toasted, wet bread. Although my stuffing was still dark, even after I removed the most offensive over-broiled cubes, I also noted that there was very little stuffing left for Thor.

Which leads us to dessert, and....


4 to 6 slices of bread, crusts removed, cut into triangles
2 to 3 apples, cored and shredded
1/4 cup sugar
cinnamon to taste

2 eggs
3 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

Grease a baking dish (I used a 7x10 glass dish). Spread the apple in the bottom of the dish, sprinkle with the 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon (Grace, use plenty). Arrange the bread triangles atop the apples - create a pretty pattern, if you wish. I used Portuguese Sweet Bread for this; it's dessert, and supposed to be sweet!

In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, 1/2 cup sugar and salt until com
bined. Pour over the apples and bread in the baking dish. Let it sit for 30 minutes so the bread will absorb the milk and egg mixture. Sprinkle with more cinnamon and a touch of sugar, if desired.
Preheat the oven; after the 30 minutes have elapsed, put the baking dish in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top of the pudding is browned. Let it sit to cool somewhat before serving. This can be served warm or cold, with whipped cream on top.

This is a variation on the recipe I found in the Fanny Farmer cookbook. The recipe was written as I have shown it, without the apples, 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon, with a variation noted that applesauce can be put in the bottom of the pan before putting the bread in the pan. Given our good stock of apples, I created this variation. It must have been good, because my dearly beloved finished it for breakfast, even without whipped cream!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

7 Things About Thor

Inspired by Duckie's recent 7 things about her chihuahas, I decided that it was time to tell everyone all about Thor. Or at least more about Thor.

1. Thor was born May 1, 2001, which makes him 7-1/2 years old. He's the longest lived Mastiff we've had, and he's our third.
Wasn't he an adorable baby?

2. Thor's front shoulders are the height of my breakfast room table, which is 31", and he weighs about 265. It is rather hard to get a really good weight on a critter that size without a cattle scale, which we don't happen to have.

3. Thor dares not put his head on the table, because I once thwacked his nose with a paper for doing just that. Yes, one thwack is all it took to teach him that dog heads on eating tables are no-nos.

4. We got Thor when he was 7 weeks old. We paid $300 extra for the pick of the litter. He was one of the 2 biggest, his brother being the same weight within 3 ounces (and, at 22 pounds, what does 3 ounces count for?). We chose Thor because in all the pictures the guy sent, Male #4 had his tail up, and when we went to get him, he had his tail up and he was trotting around vigorously. We felt that was a sign of curiosity and intelligence, so he was ours! Of course, that soon meant that we were his.

5. Whenever any of his people come home, Thor does a really great happy dance. It doesn't matter if they've been gone an hour or a year, the greeting is outstanding!

6. Thor will only eat Bites and Bones, and then only reluctantly. If forced to eat plain dog food, he will do so, but there really ought to be people food in there; after all, Thor's a people, too. Even green beans trump Bites and Bones, but peanut butter sandwiches may
be the best of all!

7. Thor always barks at men walking past on the street, but not usually at ladies, and never at children. We have a fence to keep the kids (including the furry one) in, and those who don't know where to enter are kept out.

Thor loves that all of you come to visit, and encourages you to post 7 things about your favorite 4 footed family member! He reminds you that dogs and cats are people, too!

Edited at 11:15 to add that one of our neighbor's dogs was killed by a car last night. Their children are distraught. I'll be sending some apple cinnamon bread for comfort. This phone call just made me go wake Thor and give him a hug. Now he thinks school's over and it's playtime.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Apple Cinnamon Nut Bread

Well, while I might have been distracted, surely you didn't thing I would forget we are in prime apple season, now did you? I have apple trees. Apples thunk down in my yard. Wild animals eat them. Two legged wild animals (mine and from next door) throw them at each other. Darn good thing I like apples, now isn't it?

I decided to make apple bread because the apples were in my fridge, staring up at me, as if they wanted to be shredded. A food processor is a great shredding device, and I need all the help I can get. Now, don't drool on your monitor, because this is moist and luscious. And it contains plenty of cinnamon, which Grace will tell you is one of the most important elements in food.


3 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups shredded apples
1 cup chopped walnuts

Sift together the flour, powder, soda and salt; set aside. Beat together the eggs, sour cream and sugar. Add the flour mix and oil, then the vanilla and cinnamon. Stir in the walnuts and apples; pour into two greased and lightly floured 8x4 loaf pans. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes. Makes 2 loaves.
This was all that was left last night (Tuesday) of the two loaves I made Monday afternoon. So, I guess you could infer that my dearly beloved thought it was well worth my effort.

I'll probably be making more early next week and shipping it out to some of my college kids, along with Halloween candy. I know they're all starving, because they call and tell me so!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Someone Loves My Blog!

Violin Mom, a fellow Calvert homeschool mom, presented me with this award. Wow! Thank you!

I'd like to pass this on to all the wonderful people whose blogs I read, although they've probably all got it already. Paula, Pam and Pam, Prudy, Peter, Ducky, Kitty in England, Katherine, Linda, Gaylen: You all know who you are. And to Gaylen, Happy Birthday a few hours early!

Cottage Pudding

Given that my boys brought me this basket of apples, I will soon be returning to my regularly scheduled apple dessert programming. Given this recent post about apple seeds, I won't be eating any seeds any time soon, but then, I never have.
Now, on to the good stuff. This is another dessert I found in the Fanny Farmer cookbook. I really don't know why it's called "pudding"; it's another of life's great mysteries!


1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter
1-1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

Beat together the egg, milk and butter. Sift together the remaining ingredients and add to the liquid mix. Pour into a greased 8x8 or 7x10 baking pan and bake at 400F for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is crusty and brown. Serve topped with vanilla sauce, lemon sauce or sliced, sugared strawberries.


1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup boiling water

1 tsp vanilla extract
few grains salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter

Whisk the sugar & cornstarch together in a saucepan, and add the boiling water. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla, salt and butter. Serve hot over the cottage pudding. It would also work well over ice cream.

This isn't at all what I expected from "pudding", so I presume I don't understand the English definition of pudding. To me, pudding is custard. No matter, because this was good anyway!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cookbooks and Peanut Butter Brownies

Because Pam asked, these are the cookbooks I bought this weekend:
Actually, there are 3 others, but because I bought them for other people, I'm not confessing to having purchased them. One is a duplicate of one of my favorites, and two others are not my cup of tea.

Ryan found the one on repairing food, and told me he had his own quarter if I didn't buy it. Yes, it's paperback, and it was a quarter. How could I say no? It is rather humorous; for example, to repair butter that's heating too fast, and might burn, "add a few drops of any kind
of oil (except motor oil)."

I was excited to find the Fanny Farmer cookbook. It was published in 1961, but clearly a fair number of the recipes date back before that. I like old cookbooks; simple, classic foods live in them, waiting for us to discover them. Here's one from that cookbook:


2 eggs

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp softened butter
1-1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Beat together the eggs, sugars, peanut butter and butter until well combined. Sift together and add the flour, powder and salt. Change from original recipe: I stirred in a handful or 2 of chocolate chips at the end. Bake in a greased 9x9 pan (or 7x10, which is what I sued) at 350F for about 30 minutes. The recipe says this serves 60, but I think if I served my horde 1 square inch of brownie, they'd find a rope and a tree for me.

These tasted a lot like peanut butter cookies. You can use chunky or smooth peanut butter, as you see fit, and you don't have to add the chocolate chips, of course, but it does make the kids happy!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Library Book Sale 2

"Things that are bigger may be better, but smaller things feel better."

So said Ryan after we returned from our second library used book sale in as many weeks. This is today's library; isn't it adorable?

When I walked in, the little Korean lady bustled over from some corner, greeting me like a long lost friend, and telling me of her 11 month old baby. Of course, the boys found books, and I snagged a couple more cookbooks (hey, I found out Pam has over 100 cookbooks! I need more!).

But the best thing about this book sale is their baked goods table. Each o
f the boys got 3 cupcakes (which are one thing I never make), and I bought a cute little banana bread for my dearly beloved. Yes, I know I can make cute little banana breads. But look at this cute little baking pan it came in:
How can anyone resist anything that cute?

And when we came back, Thor was right in the middle of the book distribution. I mean, the poor boy had been alone for a good 65 or 70 minutes! Jeepers! The cruelty of his people!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Most Important Thing in a Child's Life

Yesterday, I had to make a UPS man wait on my porch for a couple of minutes while I readied a shipment. "No problem," he said, "I need a little break." So he sat on the steps, gazing out at my yard and the trees beyond, and Thor laid down beside him. He commented that Thor's a great dog.

I often see my own kids sitting like this with Thor - not just the little guys, but all of them. It reminds me of a book we used to read to them, called "How Fletcher Was Hatched!" Fletcher was a hound whose feelings were hurt because his girl was enthralled with some hatching chicks, so he ran away and had his friend Mr. Beaver build him an egg from which he could hatch. Well, from his egg, Fletcher heard his girl crying, and hatched. He realized that a great hound dog could be the most important thing in a little girl's life, even if he wasn't little and yellow and fuzzy.

Every day, Thor greets every one of his people as if we were long lost friends, and the UPS man's friendship with my dog reminded me of Fletcher.
Happy Thursday to all of you. Now, go hug your animals, and tell them they are the most important thing in your life!

(And for Prudy, these are some of my big kids playing a board game, while Thor plays with his lobster, this summer).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I found this recipe somewhere, and it's supposed to be Greek. It took some time to make - no 15 minutes from cupboard to table here - but it smelled superb while cooking. For any real Greek readers out there, including Peter (who must have been the Greek god of excellent food in a previous life), sorry if I didn't make it right. As I tell my older children, I'm doing the best I can given my limited capabilities (for those of you with kids over about age 14, use that line! it shuts them right down). Anyway, some of the kids were coming home from college for the long weekend, and this seemed a suitable way to have dinner hit the table whenever they walked in the door.


Meat sauce:
2 pounds ground beef
4 tbsp olive oil
2 medium sized onions, diced
2 minced garlic colves
2 thinly slilced celery stalks
1 tbsp parsley
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme

1 large can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
2 bay leaves
salt & pepper to taste
Bechamel sauce:
4 cups milk, very warm
1 cup cornstarch or flour

1 stick butter
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup parmesan
1-1/2 pounds ziti or similar shaped pasta
3 eggs
1 cup bechamel sauce

1/4 cup parmesan

Meat Sauce: Heat the olive oil into a dutch oven. Add the onion, garlic & celery and saute until softened. Add the meat and cook until done. Drain the fat off the meat, then stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes and spices. Add the wine and cook for an hour or so, or until the sauce has thickened. Meanwhile, make the bechamel sauce:

Bechamel: Melt the butter in a saucepan, and slowly whisk in the cornstarch or flour. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter mixture, whisking constantly. Add the spi
ces, and whisk while cooking until the sauce thickens. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool somewhat, then whisk in the cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the pasta 1 to 2 minutes less than the package directions call for, and drain. Drain and cool somewhat. When ready to assemble the meal, return the pasta to its pan, add the beaten eggs, cheese and 1 cup bechamel. Stir together.

Final assembly: Butter the bottom and sides of a large baking dis
h (mine was about 11x14, and it was full). Spread half the pasta in the dish, and cover with half the meat sauce. Add the remaining pasta, top with the remaining meat sauce, and pour the bechamel over it. Sprinkle a good 1/4 cup parmesan over the top (the recipe called for an equal amount of breadcrumbs, which I skipped), and bake at 350 for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. You are supposed to let it stand for 10 minutes before serving; good luck with that.

This served 7 people. My menfolk didn't like the allspice and nutmeg, but swore they'd eat it again without those things. It was a fair amount of work, not my idea of an "I don't cook on weekends" meal, but it was quite good. And, Paula, if you use your gluten free pasta, baby girl can have this, too!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Columbus Day Cake

This is an annual tradition of ours. I didn't make this cake from scratch, but that mattered not a bit to the boys. It's important that the cake be chocolate, because "Boats Aren't Yellow!" and that the frosting be chocolate. This year I was somewhat more creative than in years past, and made it look more like one of Columbus' ships.

I have an oval baking dish with slightly tapered sides, which I use once a year, for this project only. I always cut the top off the cake to level it; however, this year, I cut out the center to create a fo'castle and a poopdeck (which you know is every little boy's favorite part of the ship). I whipped up a batch of buttercream frosting, which I flavored with dutch cocoa powder and peppermint extract, and let the boys frost this sucker and make the sail. You'll note that Thor is nowhere to be seen in this picture, having had his dinner and knowing that he never gets dessert (although Larry the lobster is in the corner).
Hope you all had a great Columbus Day, whether you worked or not!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Weekends at Marjie's

The boys had fun at the book sale. Truthfully, I had never seen a library used book sale before I got here, but I'm a real fan. I have gotten some really interesting and odd finds for virtually nothing over the years. I've found several encyclopedia sets for $20 to $50 (that one was the Encyclopedia Brittanica!). So they aren't new - so what? If you want current statistics on Switzerland, "google" it. Has the history of Switzerland really changed in the last 10 or 20 years? The most fun set of encyclopedias I ever found was a "children's" set from 1928, which set me back a whopping $5. The writing is much more advanced than that in "children's" reference books today, and some things are down right funny. Quick, who is Rurik the Oarsman? (The Viking who led the settlement of Russia, which was named for the Vikings, called "The Rus", meaning "The Red") And how's your macadam holding up? You probably know it better as asphalt, blacktop, or just the street. Trust me, I'm glad I have macadam; I'd really hate to worry about bogging down in the spring's mud. And the articles about automobiles and aeroplanes are a hoot. But I digress.

The boys each got about a dozen books. I got a cookbook, and a little gift for a friend. And my car is clearly too big for the parking lot. They are looking forward to the sale next week at the library a few miles in the other direction. Their parking lot is even smaller. I could have to hog up a couple of spaces.
And in my quest to stop running trivial errands, I signed up for both Netflix and Blockbuster online. To aid you, my blogland buddies, in getting the most bang for your buck, I have to say that Netflix probably wins. You simply cannot count on Blockbuste
r getting a movie back from you in less than 2 days, they take a day or 2 to send another, and the next one takes 2 to 3 days to arrive. I was shocked to find that Netflix often has another in my mailbox 2 days after I send it out. This was true even the time I mailed one back from 650 miles away from my mailbox (why I did that is too complex to discuss). Netflix makes recommendations for you based on your filling out a questionairre of preferences, but doesn't necessarily show you the new releases. One good thing about Blockbuster is that they have a listing of the movies which are currently in theatres, and you can sign up to get them whenever they become available. So, since I can afford the $30 or so to belong to both services, I will, but if I could only afford one, it would probably have to be Netflix. For whatever that's worth. And since I drove less than 50 miles in September, I think I'm doing pretty well in my "no trivial errands" pursuit.

And I didn't get any sewing done this weekend, because some of the kids came home for the long weekend. Ah, well, maybe next weekend.

Happy Birthday, House

In my house, there are a couple of very narrow (8" wide), high (3 foot) cupboards at the end of the hall. In one of them, stuffed to the very back, I found this photo dated 10/12/28.

How cool is it to find a picture of your house under construction? I love that the guys in the picture are wearing overcoats, which today are too fancy for about anyone!

So, happy 80th birthday to my house!

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Last weekend, I finished the white princess seamed dress. I just love this pattern.

I'm making a different off white dress this weekend (I hope). But before then, I'm taking my little boys to a library used book sale. I love that they have such a great love of books. Of course, not having TV as any of the kids grew up really helped that situation a lot. Video games? Forget it. One of my sons brought a playstation or some such crap home from college at the end of his first year, and when it came into the house, I told him to take it back outside and put it in the trunk of his car, because it had no place in my house. He protested that it would be in his room, and I reminded him of whose names are on the deed - and his is not one of them. I won the battle, of course. I'm pretty sure I was a mean mom on that day (what else is new?).

Friday, October 10, 2008

Apple Walnut Squares

Grace has been plugging apples for a while now, and at last my boys have brought in a basket or two of apples from our trees. Well, we call them "the orchard", but I don't know how many trees you have to make an orchard. Anyway, it's fun for the kids to have an 80 year old orchard, isn't it? And from trees that old, you know that these apples are good, not like the flavorless mush they sell in supermarkets these days which are simply called "apples". I digress.

I found this in my Bon Appetit cookbook entitled "Too Busy to Cook?" Interestingly, I found the mail order receipt for this cookbook tucked safely inside it; it dates from 1981. I guess even then I wanted better quality food, without spending all day at it. And this dessert certainly proves that it can be done. Again, I digress. So, without further detour, I present.....


2 cups flour
2 cups brown sugar

1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups shredded apple

Stir together the flour, sugar and softened butter, until the mixture is crumbly. Add the nuts. Press 2 cups of this mixture into a greased 9"x13" baking pan.

To the balance of the flour mix, add the salt, soda, cinnamon, egg, sour cream and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in the shredded apples, and spread atop the mixture which was pressed into the baking pan. Bake at 350F for 35 to 45 minutes.

Now, for the Marjie version of shredded apples, don't fret over peeling the apples. Quarter them, cut out the cores, and put them through your food processor with the grater plate in it. After each batch, you can take the lid off and remove the apple skins from the processor. If a little of the skin remains on the shreds, it won't matter. Was anyone ever harmed by a little more fiber? Anyway, save your precious time for something else.

Serve this warm with ice cream or whipped cream. It is very filling, so don't start out with too big a portion, unless you want to drag your tummy around the house for a while!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Apple Upside Down Cake

This idea was in our paper, and it struck me: why not? We make pineapple upside down cake, after all, why not apple? There was a recipe, but of course I changed it, because that's what I do, to suit my mood, available ingredients, whatever I need to suit. Anyway, there wasn't much left this morning, and my husband, ever the helpful soul, cleaned out the serving dish for me. You knew that would happen, didn't you? He commented that it was like apple pie, only better, because it had a better base to it.


1 stick unsalted butter, melted
3 to 4 small to medium apples, about 1 pound
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 egg

1 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans

Generously grease a 9" round cake pan. Peel, core and slice the apples, stir them with the cinnamon and 1 tbsp sugar. Spread them evenly in the bottom of the pan (mine were about an inch deep). Mix the flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, egg and melted butter, and stir in the nuts. The batter will be stiff. Spread over the apples, and bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate. Serve with whipped
cream or ice cream warm or cool. Be prepared to have none left. No, I didn't get to try this, because it was just that good.

Thor in School!

Little dogs do funny things. Everyone thinks little dogs are cute.

Big dogs just exist to be the largest, hairiest member of the family. So there are rarely pictures of Thor doing cute or funny things - those usually happen during thunderstorms or power outages. This is Thor doing his thing today: attending school. Now, Thor doesn't seem to have learned much. He's never successfully answered a question, and he often seems to sleep through class. And I must be a real meany, because clearly in this picture, he had just been rudely awakened.

Happy Dogs on Thursday!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sunshine Chiffon Cake

We don't watch much TV around here; too much to do, and never enough time. But the other night we were watching Desperate Housewives, and at the end Bree's husband was waiting at midnight for the pot roast she'd promised him, and she was crying while cooking it. I guess she forgot that really, the best reason for anyone's existence is to be loved by and love another (or that's my opinion). She forgot how very important she is to him, while making her work the center of her universe. How many unhappy people do just that today? OK, I know these are imaginary people, I'm just saying....

This caused me last night to decide to try a new cake that I just knew my dearly beloved would greatly enjoy: Sunshine Chiffon Cake. My husband doesn't have a very strong sweet tooth; he won't refuse a piece of cake, but certainly will never chase a chocolate cake around the house. He loves sponge cakes, and since this was similar, I decided to try it. It took about 10 minutes from fridge to oven, and was well worth the effort. Except that I think I'd better get a "real" tube pan. I stuffed it in my Bundt pan, ungreased, as the instructions stated, and it sort of stuck in the little ribs on the pan. Ryan told me it looked moth eaten, so I offered him a dill pickle for dessert (he decided that moth eaten was good, after all).


7 eggs, separated
2 cups flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp lemon extract

2 tsp grated lemon rind
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Combine flour, sugar, powder and salt in mixer bowl. Add water, oil, egg yolks, extract and lemon rind. Beat about 1 minute. Stop, scrape the bowl and beat one minute longer.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed until stiff, but not dry, 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually add the flour mixture, folding in with a rubber s
patula until just blended.

Pour the batter into an ungreased 10" tube pan. Bake at 325F for 60 to 75 minutes, or uintil the top springs back when lightly touched. Invert cake onto funnel or bottle, and cool completely. Drizzle with lemon glaze:

1-1/2 tbsp butter, softened
1-1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2-3 tbsp lemon juice

Stir together the butter and sugar. Add the lemon juice bit by bit until the glaze is of drizzling consistency. Drizzle over the cake and enjoy its tangy, springy goodness!
(And another reason I cater to my dearly beloved: When I was making the salad last night, a bug crawled out of the lettuce leaves which the farmer had delivered. You can hear the whole exchange, of course, in your head. Me, whispering: help! Me, softly, Help! When the bug started moving, me backing up frantically: "AIYEEEEYEEEEYEEE!!!!!")

Monday, October 6, 2008

Chicken With Artichokes

One day last week, Pam made chicken with tortellini, artichokes and other assorted delectable tidbits. I was trying to decide what to do with my chicken for dinner when I read this, and knew that this would be my choice. Aside, of course, from the fact that the only things I had from this recipe were the chicken and artichokes, the plan was perfect!

My husband loves artichokes. Steamed with drawn butter, marinated hearts, as an ingredient, however I may serve them, the man loves artichokes. So I followed Pam's advice, and created something different and good.


3 lbs. boneless chicken

1 can artichoke hearts, quartered
2 tomatoes, cut into 1" cubes
1 lemon, sliced
2 cups chicken broth
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp cornstarch
salt & pepper to taste

spread the chicken out in the bottom of the broiler pan, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes on each side, until nearly cooked. Remove the chicken to a plate, and, on the stove top, melt the butter in the broiler pan, Whisk in the cornstarch, then the chicken broth and lemon juice. Whisk until thickened, turn off the stove, and return the chicken to the pan. Stir in the chicken, then add the vegetables. Return to the broiler for 3 to 4 minutes, until the chicken is cooked, remove, top with the lemon slices and return to the broiler for another minute. Serve over pasta or rice. (Since I'm currently out of rice, pasta was my only choice). Was this good? Well, there was j
ust about none left for Thor!

Saturday, October 4, 2008


I can't believe this is post number 300. I didn't know I had that much to say, and I never dreamed anyone other than my friend Paula would read it. So, to thank you all for reading, I thought I'd show you 5 of my favorite things in my house (besides, of course, my kitchen). The hard part was deciding whether to show interesting architectural details from my 80 year old house, or things I've put in to accent those wonderful architectural features. So, you're getting some of both. I hope you enjoy this little visit to my world.

First: the front door. They actually made the woodwork for this house on site! Geez-o-man, I can't imagine carpenters so talented that they made this stuff!

Next: the front room. I met the daughter of the couple who built this house, and she said her mother just loved windows. It's evident here. I redid this room about 5 years ago, because it was boring. These two chairs are tiny; my husband got them when his grandmother was moved to the rest home. I would guess they date from when she was a bride in 1905 or so. I found the little table somewhere, and the lamp came from Hancock Fabric. The drapes came from Penney's, and I used an extra pair to make the swags and jabots which top them. When I was done, my dearly beloved wanted to know why I had stolen Grammy's living room decor.

This is the only thing I have from any of my family. This was my grandfather's desk. It was a wreck when my grandmother gave it to me for my 15th birthday. I had it stripped and refinished. It has a herd of adorable pigeonholes inside the drop front. I love this desk.

These were bookcases in the living room. About 10 years ago, I decided that they would look better as something else, had the shelves removed, and wallpapered the back to match the lower half of the room, which I was also rewallpapering. I had the pretty antique prints in the left case, and the reproduction in the right section looking for homes, and here they were. Isn't this lamp wonderful? I found it last spring, and thought it made the whole setup.
Last, my grand piano. No, I don't play. Neither does anyone else. But I love having a piano, and some day I may learn. So my dearly beloved found this very inexpensively at an estate sale, and bought it for me. Behind the piano is a tiny staircase going upstairs. Under the stairs is a short closet, in which reside a vacuum cleaner and carpet shampooer. There's a light in the closet! I couldn't believe it when I discovered that - they installed a light in a tiny, short closed when they built this place! Notice the handrail and balusters - made here, too! These are across the living room from the bookcases above. In both cases, the interesting architecture dictated how I furnished these areas.
I hope you've enjoyed your visit to my little world. Thank you for reading!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Side Dishes

Thank you all for your comments about our ordinary meals a couple of days ago. I guess I've been listening to my kids, especially my second son, gripe about my food being boring for too long. Well, look at it from my perspective: my dearly beloved says he'd eat nothing but oatmeal if that's what I was serving, and who else but the kids is here to gripe at me? So, thanks, you've all made me feel better.

Now, some of you wanted to know how I did one thing or another. So, here goes:

Paula, the acorn squash is easy. Cut the acorn squash in quarters, and crumble about a tablespoon of light brown sugar into each section. Then put a tablespoon or so of chopped walnuts into each quarter. Drizzle a little bit of plain old pancake syrup over the walnuts - I'm probably talking about a teaspoon or so. Last, melt 4 tbsp butter, and drizzle that over the top and yellow sides of the squash. I roast mine in the oven for about an hour with my meat, until it's fork tender. My older kids have refused to even try this, but I threatened the little guys with living in the garage with the dog, and eating nothing but "Bites & Bones" if they didn't eat it, and they loved it! Ryan told me Patrick must be the leader of the food idiots.

Cathy, the pretzels were the same recipe as my boys' pretzels last week; I just shaped them differently.

Duckie, I made another version of wheat french bread, which went like this:

3/4 cup warm water
3 tsp yeast
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt

1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil

Mix in the bread machine, or soften the yeast in the water for a couple of minutes, then stir in the honey and olive oil, followed by the flours and salt. Stir until combined, and knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. In a Kitchenaid mixer, add the ingredients in the order listed, and, using the breadhook, mix on speed 2 for 8 to 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth. Regardless of the mixing technique, shape into one french bread loaf, let it rise about 20 minutes, then bake at 375 for 15 to 17 minutes, depending upon the desired darkness of the crust. Note that I used a locally produced dark honey; lighter colored honey will have a less distinct flavor. This is great hot from the oven, and also wonderful toasted for the next day's breakfast. (Also note that this is a small recipe, for people who aren't cooking for a large army, as I usually do).

And heart attack potatoes were named for my second daughter's exclamation one night: "Mmm! Heart attack goo
dness on a plate!" They're very easy. Wash and slice redskinned potatoes (or potatoes of your choice). I just use the food processor for this; you don't want the slices too thick, and they don't have to be pretty. I also leave the skin on for added flavor. Boil with just a touch of salt for 10 minutes or so, until the potatoes are soft. Drain, and cover the colander with the pot lid to keep the potatoes hot. In the potato pot, melt 1 stick of butter per 2 pounds of potatoes, grind in a generous amount of pepper, and add a good handful of chopped parsley per stick of butter. Stir them together, then stir the potatoes back into the pot. The slices will break up and absorb the butter, pepper and parsley. Like my daughter said, heart attack goodness on a plate.

Did I forget to tell you anything? I'm so happy that you all read what I write, and take the time to respond. Thanks, everybody! More food will be coming soon, I promise, including using the few peaches the (expletive deleted) deer didn't eat off our peach tree!