Friday, January 30, 2009

Desserts this week

While mentally preparing for Superbowl Sunday this week, and doing all of the things normally required in life, my brain hit "Overload". So there was nothing particularly exciting to show you in the food for the past couple of days. Care to peruse desserts?

Brownie Sundae with caramel ice cream, bananas, praline powder and whipped cream. No, I did not partake, since I don't like brownies. It's better for my derriere this way.

Pound cake with orange sauce, bananas and whipped cream. About this day, my older son growled that he saw a pattern emerging here. I don't know whether he was pleased or not the next night, when banana cake appeared.

Yes, you've guessed it: I got another case of bananas this week. A half dozen loaves of banana bread will go into the freezer, a couple will leave with my son on Monday, when he returns to Carolina, and more than half of the case is already gone.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Well, despite the evidence last week that Thor's a great student of phonics, this is how he spent the last testing day we had.

Yesterday, the weather guru declared a snow day, or at least, part of the day was a snow day.
The snow mixed with freezing rain at times, and none of the boys, quadruped or biped, liked that too well. The neighbors didn't stay to sled for long. Well, maybe next time.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Caramel Ice Cream

I know why the late, great James Beard was, in today's parlance, a "gentleman of size". The ingredients in this ice cream, as well as the previous one of his, tell me all I need to know. And yet, it's so sinfully delicious that one finds onesself willing to risk additional girth to eat food a la James Beard.

This doesn't taste like Brach's caramels, but it's very rich. My husband thought it was some kind of coffee ice cream, because it was a little bitter, but 2 of my sons liked it. F
or the record, my youngest child doesn't like anything. No, he likes brownies, orange juice, hot dogs and Nutella (although he hates sandwiches), so I disregard his opinions. If he says something's "not too bad", that's high praise indeed. (sigh) Thank goodness his brother is here to display enthusiasm!


1 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
3 cups cream
1/3 cup sugar

4 egg yolks
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
5/8 cup caramel syrup

In a saucepan or heavy skillet, melt the sugar, shaking the pan occasionally, but not stirring (the sugar will stick to everything!). When it's melted, stir in the boiling water. Wa
rning: it will spit. Wear your cooking mittens. You'll be clumsy, but you'll be safe. Cook until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes, over medium heat (about 240F on a candy thermometer, which I don't have). This makes the caramel syrup.

While the caramel syrup cooks, heat 1-1/2 cups cream to boiling on the stove, or in the microwave. I used the microwave, as I do with all of my custard based ice cream. It works fine, and it's one less pan to clean. ( I really hate cleanup, and I really hate looking at dirty pans in my sink. I digress.) Add the 1/3 cup sugar to the cream, and heat to dissolve the sugar. Stir some of the hot mix into the lightly beaten egg yolks, then whisk them into the cream. Cook in the microwave for 4 to 6 minutes, whisking every 30 to 45 seconds, until the custard mix thickens. Don't let this mix
ture boil, or the eggs will curdle. When it coats the back of the spoon, it's done. Let it sit on the counter for a few minutes to cool, then add the salt, vanilla and the balance of the cream. Stir in 5/8 cup of the caramel syrup made in the previous step, and cool for 2 to 3 hours. Process according to your ice cream maker's directions. When you're ready to serve, the balance of the caramel syrup can be reheated in the microwave, and spooned over the individual helpings of ice cream (although I skipped this step). Warning: this ice cream is so rich that you'll be able to eat about half of what you normally eat from a store-bought container.

Since my dearly beloved didn't like this as much as some others, I'd probabl
y add a bit more sugar to the custard mix, and a bit less caramel syrup, but I'm pretty sure this will make the list of "gotta have it" again. And, of course, since it was snowing last night, ice cream was a perfect dessert, don't you think?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

White Mountain Cream Frosting

I saw the title for this in my "new" Fannie Farmer cookbook and thought, "Well, that's what our yard looks like, so why not?"
I'd made a plain ol' yellow cake (my favorite), and found mys
elf woefully lacking in confectioner's sugar. Remembering that there is such a thing as cooked frosting, although it's not often seen these days, I thought I'd give it a whirl. My sons thought it tasted like a cross between marshmallows and cotton candy, and it disappeared quickly enough to convince me that they liked it. I've learned through many years to disregard whatever men say, and pay attention to how fast they demolish something. Example: "These are the most delicious brussels sprouts ever," as they eat 2. "This cake is passable," as they eat 2 pieces. Case closed.


1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine everything except the egg whites, and cook over medium heat "until it spins a 6 inch thread" (whatever that means) or reaches 240F on a candy thermometer. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until very stiff. Drizzle in the hot sugar mix, and beat more, until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla and frost your cake. While I think I prefer buttercream frosting (truth be told, I am not that big a fan of frosting), this certainly looks beautiful.

Important note: Don't get impatient and stop cooking the sugar mixture too early, or it will never stiffen up properly. I threw out my first batch, so trust me, it's worth the wait. I also let my Kitchenaid mixer to the egg work while I cooked the sugar mixture. Having more to do made me less impatient!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Although it didn't match the -2 we suffered earlier last week, Saturday's 6.6 degrees was just too darn cold for me. And, when it's cold, what's better than warm grinders (a.k.a. hoagies, po' boys, subs) and nice hot soup? Precious little, in my book.

Probably 5 or 6 years ago, I was preparing to make a pot of cream of broccoli soup, and my husband growled at me that he couldn't be expected to eat that (expletive del
eted). Since he'd eaten, and claimed to like, it before, I was rather stunned. I poured the contents of the pan down the drain, cooked up some eggs, and told him he'd never suffer cream soup at my hands again. Well, I lied. I wanted this soup on Saturday, and so it was dinner. My son, the flooring guru, when he smelled it starting to cook, made appreciative noises and commented that he hadn't had it in a very long time. He ate 3 big bowls full, so it was obvious he liked it. And even my dearly beloved claimed to enjoy it. This really is good; try it!


1-1/2 cups broccoli, chopped small

1 onion, chopped small
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup powdered milk

2 cups heavy cream
copious amounts of freshly ground black pepper

Cook the onion and broccoli in the chicken broth about 15 minutes, or until done. Whisk in the powdered milk. Add the cream and pepper, heat through, and simmer for 15 minutes. There was one cup left over, and it was my breakfast/lunch on Sunday.

In case you'd like to make your own grinder rolls:

2 cups warm water
8 tsp yeast
6 cups flour
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil (optional)

Dissolve the yeast in the water. Stir in the sugar, then add the flour and salt. If desired, add oil; this will make your rolls softer. Knead or mix in the Kitchenaid (this recipe was too big for the bread machine) for 10 minutes, let rise for 10 minutes, form into long l
oaves and place on baking trays. Let them rise about 15 minutes, or until doubled in size. Bake at 375F for 16 to 18 minutes, until desired degree of brown is reached. Makes 4 foot-long rolls (14", in my case). If you don't want your grinder rolls in about an hour, then use half the yeast. Me, I don't like to wait too long. We filled our grinders with pork in BBQ sauce and turkey with gravy; I wish I'd had some meatballs.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tropical Fruit Muffins

Thank you all for your compliments on my new floor, and my china cabinet. Thor loves the new floor, because his feet don't slide out from under him when he's standing up, although I don't think he's thrilled that I've promised mayhem to rain upon anyone who drops food on this floor any time soon. He still sits expectantly between the boys, waiting for donations to the Hungry Dog Foundation.

My breakfast room set is a French Provincial dining room suite I bought in 1986, and they had discontinued that series. I especially love the cherry tops on the white furniture, because it's not something you see every day! My dearly beloved has become accustomed to the fact that his wife is a girly girl, and some of his furniture therefore must be girly. The things our men put up with for us!

Gaylen asked me for the recipe for yesterday's muffins, and I'm ashamed to say that I was so excited about my floor that I simply forgot to post it! These came about because I bought some Welch's dried tropical fruits. I thought they'd taste interesting, and instead they tasted like sugared stuff. So don't waste your money, unless you want really good little muffins! Again, these could be made in full sized muffin pans, but I love mini muffins, because then I can eat 2 or 3 without feeling guilty, and without gaining 10 pounds! So, stir these up in your little mixing bowl, and enjoy them without dieter's guilt!


1-3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 tbsp powdered milk
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 cups orange juice

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup Welch's dried tropical fruits
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Stir everything together in a mixing bowl. Spoon into greased mini muffin pans. Optional: sprinkle sugar on top of each muffin, although they don't need it. Bake at 400F for 12 to 14 minutes, or until they are light golden and test done. Cool and glaze, if desired (I did this for the ones that lived until Friday morning). Makes 24 muffins.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Another One Bites The Dust

OK, I probably shouldn't try to be so cutesy in my titles. Last night, around 9PM, the second coat on my floor was finally dry.
I had wanted to pickle it, to keep the floor light, but since we spring for the extra money for premium grade maple, my husband thought it was light enough, and we simply varnished it instead. So the china cabinet returned to the room.

Shortly thereafter, the table followed, along with some of the chairs. Dan's putting another coat on the floor, around the two large pieces of furniture, and this weekend my room will be back together.

I made 6 dozen mini muffins to celebrate. Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thor in School

Paula asked me what we're doing for school with my kitchen and breakfast room disruptions. Well, we stuffed a small table in the corner of the dining room. Of course, Thor still goes to school every day.
And, while neither his speech nor his reading abilities seem to have improved, nonetheless, he still studies his phonics.
Happy Thursday, and Happy Dogs on Thursday!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Applesauce Snack Cake

In my shrunken kitchen, I'm trying to use as few dishes, bowls, pans, etc. as possible. This recipe from my Shortcut Cooking for the Smart Cook cookbook was perfect, since it required only the baking pan and a glass mixing cup for the microwave. Actually, I first made this last Thursday, and my dearly beloved asked for a rerun last night, so I'm guessing that means it was better than "not too awfully bad!"


1-2/3 cups flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vinegar (I used cider vinegar)

Use an 8"x8" or 7"x10" baking pan, ungreased. In the pan, put all of the dry ingredients, and stir them together well. Add the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in the nuts. Bake at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake tests done. Serve warm, topped with this sauce:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup orange juice or apple cider
2 tbsp whipping cream

Melt the butter in the microwave. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, then cook in the microwave for 1 to 3 minutes (depending upon your microwave oven), until the sauce thickens. Serve over the warm cake. Then cry because there will be no leftovers for tomorrow morning's breakfast. Grace, here's another winner for your cinnamon recipe collection!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dirty Brisket

My breakfast room table, which is 10 feet long, is still diagonally occupying most of my kitchen. I am restricted to cooking on one stove, with only 2 feet of counter available, and, at best, 4 feet of floor behind me. Obviously, I'm cooking as simply as I can, especially when you consider that Thor and his 2 footed companions will periodically just show up to see how things are going, and have to be chased from the room. There have been times when I wanted to take my older son up on his offer to just arm me with a length of maple flooring, explaining that it is 12% harder than redwood.

So, yesterday's dinner was a take off on a pot roast recipe, using a corned beef brisket which had been lurking in a corner of my freezer. 3 minutes from freezer to oven: how could anyone not love it?


1 corned beef brisket
1/2 can pureed tomatoes
1 envelope onion soup mix

1/2 cup water

Put the brisket in the smallest possible roasting pan. Pour the tomatoes over it, sprinkle the soup mix over the tomatoes, and carefully pour the water in the sides of the pan to keep it moist. Cover tightly with foil, and roast at 300F for about 3 hours. Serve with boiled potatoes stirred in with melted butter and chopped parsley, and your favorite green veggie. Expect no leftovers.
It was a little salty for my taste, but the guys simply devoured this, and whined that there was no more!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Football and Sewing

Saturday, a lot of progress was made on my hardwood floor. Sunday, not so much. After all, there was football to be watched!
To prevent me from being an overly attentive supervisor, I decided to sew on Saturday, and made two skirts from one of my favorite patterns. One is A-line, the other a full circle. Both are a black pattern, because I have a bad habit of starting something in one color, then going on to other things in the same color. I don't like to rethread my machines. The A-line skirt has a vivid floral pattern. I had bought this fabric for one of my daughters a few years back, but she never used it, so I snagged it. There wasn't enough fabric to make a waistband, so I faced it instead.
The circle skirt has a tiny embroidered pattern, reminiscent of eyelet, and is filmy and floaty. At least they kept me occupied for a while. And, sheesh, those are some ugly blurry photos, aren't they?

The boys enjoyed the football games, and who wouldn't with my wonderful commentaries: "I'm voting for those guys in the red outfits, because they're very snappy." "Watch that long haired number 11 dude in red. He did stuff last week." "Can the Eagles wear the red outfits, so I can vote for the home team again?" "Where's the 800 number to cast my vote again?" For the Super Bowl, I'll have a real dilemma - do I vote for Longhair #11 or for Troy the Longhair (who also does stuff) and the dude named for an awesome clock - "Big Ben"? Yes, I know better than that. But it's a way to amuse myself while watching something I don't terribly like with a group of people
I do terribly like. I also fed them LaBrea Tar Pit drumsticks, breadsticks, polynesian meatballs and orange ice cream. So they chuckle at my silly comments, and enjoy my food.
It was below 10 degrees here from Wednesday through Saturday, when it finally reached 14. Today, I've put the boys out in the yard to enjoy the balmy 27 degree weather, sled, and chase Thor around the yard. Until my breakfast room is reassembled, I'm afraid I'm a bit disorganized, and feel really stupid. Hope everyone else's life feels better today - Happy Monday!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Spice Cake

I can't believe I forgot to tell you about my spice cake on Wednesday! I blame it on my floor. Someone asked why we were replacing the floor. Here's the short answer:Lovely, wasn't it? It was like this in many places. Now, on to important things.

This is a really good cake. It's easy, it requires no frosting, it can be served warm - and when it's 2 degrees outside, you really appreciate warm - and it tastes good, besides. What more can anyone request of a cake (other than a lack of calories - can't help you there, sorry)? Adapted from the Ladies Home Journal cookbook from the late 1950s, this one is a keeper.


3/4 cup softened butter

2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
2-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt
1-1/4 cups sour milk
3 egg whites
1/4 cup white sugar
dash cinnamon (or more, if you're Grace)
4 tbsp praline powder or chopped nuts

Cream the butter with the brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, then the egg yolks, one at a time. Sift together the dry ingredients, and add in 2 additions, alternating with the sour milk. Beat until smooth. Pour into a 13x9 pan, and bake 1 hour. Just before the hour is up, whip the egg whites until foamy, then add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Add the cinnamon and beat until combined. Remove the cake from the oven after one hour, quickly spread the meringue on top of it, sprinkle with praline powder or chopped nuts, and bake an additional 15 minutes. Serve warm or cold; no frosting necessary.
Thor tried to convince everyone that dogs like this cake, too, and I'm sure they do, but no one was sharing. He got a doggy treat instead.

Edited to add: To sour the milk, put 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vanilla in the bottom of a measuring cup, then fill to the 1-1/4 cup line with milk. By the time you are ready to use it, it will be sour!

And I just realized that this is eligible to join Grace's lineup of cinnamon lovers' foods! Cool!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thor on Thursday

Everyone who lives in Thor's house is required to give him a hug in the morning.If you don't cooperate, he will stuff his head under your arm so you must give him a hug.

This is easy to do when you weigh 265 and stand 32" at the shoulder. This is what a 6" long rawhide bone looks like, brand new, in the mouth of a big guy like Thor. Um-yum! Treats!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Another Floor Has Begun

This was the scene in my breakfast room at noon Tuesday.

Within 2 minutes, Thor was hiding behind me.

The room is actually quite roomy without the furniture. I believe, however, that some people will be upset if I leave the room empty; how will they eat without Thor putting his face in their plates?

Then he went to hide in the mud room, despite the fact that it's quite cold out there. All the tile is gone now, and my son is doing whatever he must to the subfloor before he starts the hardwood. We're using unfinished maple, which I will then have to figure out how to finish. Of course, you can bet that I won't be the one on the floor doing the work. I will be the supervisor, a task at which I excel.

The breakfast room table has been stuffed into the kitchen. Functioning is difficult. Dinner was turkey legs and thighs (requiring no attention), stuffing (ditto), salad (ditto). Spice cake with meringue topping did require attention, but I was able to shove people out of my way to let me get to the mixer for that!

Before this project is even finished, the guys are talking about changing out stoves and countertops. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Parmesan Cauliflower

Well, it only took my daughter 15 hours to get back to the Denver airport on Sunday. She was not pleased, and called to read me the riot act (because, as I'm sure everyone realizes, I control the snow....or not). In her honor, however, I decided to write about the two new cookbooks she gave for Christmas. From one, I took the LaBrea Tar Pit Chicken Wing recipe I posted a couple of weeks ago. The other is a Gourmet cookbook. Today's recipe (sort of) comes from that.

Like so many of you, I sit and scan my cookbooks. Over and over, I flip through pages, looking for inspiration for anything. Suddenly, from these pages, a recipe for a cauliflower, mushroom and parsley salad hopped out at me. Mushrooms? I can't stand them. Warm salad? I'm rather a skeptic. But here was my cauliflower, hoping to be useful in my little world, and here was a recipe from which I could take a small part, change the directions, and make everyone happy.


1 pound frozen cauliflower, thawed and patted dry
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup grated parmesan

With a fork, beat the egg lightly with the salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a skillet. Dip each piece of cauliflower in the egg to coat it, then move it to the parmesan, and roll it around to coat. Lightly saute the cauliflower in the butter, turning once or twice, until it's tender-crisp. Serve at once.

I made 2 pounds of this cauliflower, and had sons - big sons, at that - who were disappointed because they couldn't get seconds on this. Men who want more veggies? How unusual is that?! Trust me, I'll be making this again, soon.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The End of the Holiday Season

My oldest son turned 25 Saturday. He wasn't here, having had to return to South Carolina the previous weekend. Like so many in the financial world, he was laid off, but he found an opportunity to teach some Economics courses at a community college down there. It isn't much money, but it is a foot in the door. However, since classes start next week, he had to return for "new professor orientation" last Tuesday. So, he took his birthday cake with him, and drove his birthday present (sort of), a new exhaust system for his car. Not attractive, not fun, but expensive and useful.

Three of the kids returned to college Saturday morning. They drove my 4WD Suburban, and were grateful, since the first 90 minutes of the 5 hours were snow infested. I had to put my daughter on a 7AM plane Sunday morning, so I stayed up all night, and left 30 minutes before I should have needed to, because it snowed all day Saturday. Well, I needed that extra 30 minutes (imagine the fun of following 4 snowplows side by side across the interstate at 23 miles per hour for 15 minutes, and you'll have a picture of my joyous journey. Fortunately, my winter car is a 1995 Cadillac with front wheel drive, and I never slipped even a bit. Now, I admit that there are two 90 degree turns in my driveway, within 50 feet of each other, and I drove over the lawn to make them gentler. But still, I drove through 5" of snow like it was nothing, and over 30 miles of snowy/slushy/slick roads without incident. Gotta love the "winter beater".

Of course, my daughter's plane was cancelled, as were 3 after hers,
and the airline provided buses to Philly so the other 3 planes could make their connections, but not for her plane, so she sat in our local airport for 5 hours, calling me and bawling me out. Do I run this airline? Where's my big executive salary? And when is the government going to offer me a bailout? Oh, yea, I don't run any airlines, airports, or even the weather. Silly me. I sent my other son out the door for his 5 hour drive around 1PM, after the snow had been stopped for 12 hours, so the roads would be clear. Now we just have the little guys and the talented son, who, incidentally, is taking apart my breakfast room so he can begin ripping out the floor. I may be in hiding for a week or two.

The last meal I served before the kids left was beef stew with "corn bears". Think corn bread, which everyone loves, turned into little tiny bear shaped pans. Jeffrey got me those pans for Christmas, because everyone knows Moms love cute stuff, and it turns out everyone loves corn bears, too. But the star of dinner was Focaccia.
I found this recipe in the newspaper a while back, and never got to trying it. I
was bored while the menfolk were watching football Saturday, having wandered through the room and voted for the cute turquoise outfits, and then the adorable bright red ones, as the teams that should win. Yes, I know we don't vote for the winners, but it's tradition around here. I also periodically gasp with horror that they aren't playing in an orderly fashion, but cheer for them "slugging" each other. My sons laugh at their normally smart mother being such a football dope. I can, however, make a pretty good bread! So, without further ado, here's a great, boredom-eliminating Focaccia.

FOCACCIA - Italian Herb Bread

1-1/2 cups warm water
3 tsp (1 envelope) yeast
3-1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil

olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan
1-2 tsp basil
1-2 tsp oregano
1-2 tsp garlic powder

Sprinkle the yeast on the water, then stir in the remaining ingredients with a wooden spoon. This dough is really soft, so it will not be kneaded, simply stirred in a bowl (or mixed in the bread machine). When the dough is smooth, scrape it into a greased 13"x9" pan, and smooth it out as best possible. Let it rise about 30 minutes, until doubled in size. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes in the dough. Drizzle oilve oil ove rthe top of the bread dough, then sprinkle with the parmesan and spices. Turn on the oven to preheat to 375F, and let the dough rise another 15 minutes. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until browned nicely. Remove from the oven, let the bread sit 10 to 15 minutes to cool somewhat, then cut into 2" squares.
They tasted even better than they looked. There was none left.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Lampshade Woes

Am I the only person whose lampshades are falling apart?
I know that the ones with plastic inside don't last, so I bought many with full metal frames, which have a plasticized material wrapped in a huge series of loops around it. They lasted 20 years. Unfortunately, several now look like this.

I experimented with a little one, and wrapped it with wide lace. It looks pretty good, but you can still sort of see the bulb through the lace. I really need fabric that comes in a strip about 2" wide with non-fray edges. Does anyone know where I can get that?

I'm a little afraid to try to stitch fancy lampshade covers, with layers of fabric inside and out stitched together at each metal upright (although I have quite a few of those, and they are holding up splendidly). I'm hopeful someone can help!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Teaching "Health" to Children

Probably most of you know that I teach my two youngest boys using the Calvert School curriculum. They're in 4th and 7th grades, and it's a delight to teach using these well designed courses. All of the books they use, whether Calvert designed or published by other companies, are child friendly, colorful, in depth, and just plain nice. One of the things I like about these courses (aside from the fact that they give me manuals telling me how to teach the information, which I really need!) is the parent forum, in which parents ask questions and give each other ideas. Invariably, each summer, when the majority of people are ordering their courses for the next year, there is great discussion over "Why doesn't Calvert have a stand alone health course?" Well, well.

Personally, I've never thought schools were supposed to teach health to children, and I've held this opinion since I was in school. Once they taught me the "4 basic food groups", I was good to go. I understood that larger people need more food, and smaller people need less food. Gee, what a concept!

Anyway, Calvert
teaches basic health and nutrition in Science. Each year, they teach a little more, in a bit more detail. But really, the child learns his health information at home. I'm not referring here to the function of muscles, for example, which this textbook covers very well, or the organ systems. I am referring to personal health and nutrition, and I think these belong in the home. I have always had a rule: dinner must include meat, complex carbohydrates and two veggies, one of which must be green. My children routinely recite, when asked to select two veggies, "One of which must be green!" And, other than on rainy days, I have always thrown them out in the yard for hours on end. Indeed, my little guys will go out after breakfast, come in to collect a picnic basket full of food for lunch (including some for Thor), and just spend the day outside if it's not absurdly cold. Balanced diet and exercise program which is just "having fun". What else is there to teach? Hygiene? Again, not the school's job.

I do overall like Calvert's approach. As the child gets older, the information in the Science book becomes mo
re in depth. And I agree with Calvert's unstated position that they teach the basics, but it's really a parent's job to teach the child to live right.

I dislike the fo
od pyramid. Really, that thing says "You have to eat stuff. We won't tell you how much." What's wrong with 3 servings daily of meat, fruits and veggies, starches and dairy products? If we remember that Daddy eats more than Mommy because he's a foot taller and weighs 90 pounds more, then everything is good. In my trusty old Reader's Digest cookbook, from a tag sale when I was 14, there are charts for how many calories males and females of various ages and heights should consume, and that's the best information anyone can have.

Well, I've ranted. What do you think?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Batterway Bread

Many years ago, when Jeffrey was about 12, he found a little, old cookbook called Food from Famous Kitchens. It's a compilation of recipes probably from the backs of packages, or published in magazines, since each mentions some product by name. The pages were yellowed, cheap paper, and had broken into a couple of clumps within the book, but it was a hardcovered book. Since it was on the "10 for $1" table, he hauled a dime out of his pocket and bought it for me. I was straightening out the counter on which my cookbooks reside recently, and found it stuffed in behind a couple of other things. Thumbing through one of the clumps of pages, I found a number of recipes from Red Star Yeast. Well, you know that it was time to make my first "new kind of bread" of the year!


1-1/2 cups warm water (around 110F)

6 tsp yeast
4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar

1-1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, cut in small pieces or melted and cooled

Place all ingredients in this order in the bread machine, and let it knead. Stop the machine, remove the dough, and split into two loaf pans.

To mix by hand: Pour the water into a bowl, sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit for a couple of minutes, until it softens. Stir in the sugar and flour, then the salt and butter. (O
r just let a mixer do the work). Knead or beat at low speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until the dough is well combined and smooth, then split into two loaf pans.
Let the dough rise until it's doubled in size, then bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes. Because it's got a lot of butter in it, the crust will be dark, but very thin and soft. This bread rises quite high, and is really soft - I find that cutting it actually mashes it down a little bit. I've made it twice now, and not a single slice has made it past dinnertime - despite the fact that bread is an auxiliary starch in my house, and never the main starch! So, try it; I hope you'll like it as much as we did.