Monday, August 31, 2009

Carrot Cake

Well, I had it in my mind to write about lunch this week, but I made this carrot cake, and it was wonderful. It was actually so good I made it twice. And my dearly beloved is seriously honked off that it's all gone.


1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups shredded carrot
12 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the oil and eggs, and beat until combined. Add the carrot and walnuts, and beat another minute. Turn the batter into a 13x9x2 glass pan, as I did (go ahead and defy the convention that says carrot cake must be layered!) or into 2 layer pans. Bake at 350F for 40 to 45 minutes for the sheet cake, or probably about 30 to 35 minutes for layers. Sorry, I don't do layers, so I'm not so sharp with my time to bake layers.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-1/2 to 4-1/2 cups confectioner's sugar

Beat together the butter and cream cheese with the vanilla extract. Add the sugar cup by cup until the frosting is very stiff. Add some cream to give your frosting a nice smooth texture.

Remember, even with only 6 people home, 2 cakes only lasted 3 days. That's quite a recommendation, isn't it?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Kid Friendly Scrambled Eggs

When my kids get to be about 10 or so, they're taught the fine art of scrambled eggs in the microwave. Please, don't "EWWWW!!!" me here. It's a whole lot harder to get burned with microwave cooking than stovetop, and the name of the game here is fostering a degree of independence. As for the adults among us, well, I think many of us are more inclined to eat well if we can do it quickly and with less mess.

So, for anyone looking for a fast cooked breakfast (or a way to safely tell your kid to cook his own eggs), here goes, complete with pictures from my youngest's cooking lesson.

Grease a microwavable bowl. Spray the bowl, or rub it with cooking oil, butter, margarine or shortening. It matters not which method you choose; just be certain to get the sides of the bowl greased really well.

Break 2 to 3 eggs into your bowl. Poke the yolks with a fork, then stir gently to blend. Add a little pepper if you wish. Put the eggs in the microwave, and cook about 45 seconds. Start a couple of pieces of toast at this point; it will be done about the same time as your eggs are. Take the eggs out, stir vigorously to combine. At this point, if you wish, a bit of cheese or ham can be stirred in. Return to the microwave and cook until the eggs reach your desired state, stirring every 20 seconds or so. This time will vary, because all microwaves are not the same, so watch your eggs! Take the bowl out carefully, because it will be warm.

Sit down, fill your face, and race out the door. There! No pan, and a nice hot breakfast!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thor's Friend Oscar

Technically, Oscar isn't a friend of Thor. He's our attorney's son's dog.

But doesn't his facial expression remind you of Thor?

Happy Thorsday!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


This is one of my favorite light meals. In keeping with my breakfast theme, this is another fast, easy breakfast or lunch. It's even acceptable for teenaged (or older) girls who might be whining, "I'm getting fat!"


1 can fruit cocktail in juice, drained well

1 pound cottage cheese
1/4 cup whipped cream (homemade, canned or cool whip - you choose)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup slivered almonds or chopped walnuts

Dump everything in a bowl. Stir. Eat. It'll keep for several days, if need be.

One of my absolute rules is that with protein one must eat carbohydrates. Eggs are not really all that filling without toast. This has dairy products and fruit, and so fulfills that requirement. If you pack it in a lunch with some nice crackers and a tall iced tea (unsweetened if you want to stay on that diet), it's really easy. And, as I said, when the girls got old enough to whine about not wanting a big breakfast, this was a good replacement.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Garden Tuesday

This is the garden today. The spinach in the far left row is gone, or what the deer left of it is gone, and the green leaf lettuce in the left row of the right bed went to seed.

The lettuce is gone too. But it certainly looks like someone should have weeded my kitchen.

Actually, the piggies loved the lettuce leaves below the seeds. It was much to bitter for us humans.

And here's another gate for you. It's wrought iron lilies. Isn't it beautiful? Just one of the joys of living in an 80 year old house - unusual, pretty things!

Monday, August 24, 2009


Over the weekend, Amy asked me what I do about breakfast and lunch. Good question, since I mostly write about dinner and dessert.

Many years ago, I believe in 1988, there was an article in the Wall Street Journal about a doctor and his wife who had (I think) 17 children. She said that her requirements for husband were that he be willing and able to support a dozen kids....bold! Anyway, a number of things she said stayed with me. One was, "Your socks are not your own unless they're on your feet. Otherwise, they're in a basket in the laundry room." Believe me, my dearly beloved, who is the laund
ry master here in my little corner of the world, has hung onto those words to this day. Another was that life is too short to sort silverware, and she just dumps it into a drawer. I can't live by those words; some day I'll show you a place setting of my everyday flatware (which I found on clearance). But, to each her own!

Finally, when I read this, my oldest son was under 5 years of age. She said that breakfast cereal was just too expensive, so everyone was required to eat pancakes or eggs. I filed that in the back of my brain, but it didn't make a lot of sense to me at that time. Fast forward nearly a decade. Minimum of $5 per day for Cheerios, and people gripe about them? Time for
a waffle maker. I developed a very easy waffle recipe, keep batter in the fridge at all times, and they're always available. Here's how it goes:


5 eggs
2-1/4 cups milk (or 1/2 cup powdered milk and 2-1/4 cups water)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4-1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
(optional) finely diced fruits, such as strawberries or banana)

Break the eggs into a refrigerator container and beat with a whisk. Stir everything else in with the whisk, and beat until smooth. Cover and store. (You can use a mixer and bowl if you'd like, but why dirty another bowl? Give your dishwasher a small vacation!) Most waffle irons use 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup batter per waffle. The kids can make this while they're getting dressed or gathering their school things and coat. A dusting of powdered sugar makes these portable, or, if you have time, serve on a plate with syrup to feel like you've had a fancy breakfast!

I'll try to publish more about our breakfasts later in the week. Meanwhile, everyone go enjoy a waffle!

(And Tony the Tiger is my cookie jar. I earned him by eating many boxes of his cereal in 1968, and mailing them off with a couple of quarters. My youngest son has loved him best, so Tony's probably going to my little guy some day.)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Shopping Therapy

One of my father in law's funniest statements was, to his wife, "Go shopping. It's cheaper than therapy." No, he wasn't a touchy-feely, sensitive sort of guy. My dearly beloved has never said anything of the sort. No with him, it's more like, "So get what you want. Why are you talking to me?" Fortunately for him, I never went shopping for a Ferrari or a sable coat.

Last weekend, when my old summer dressing gown tripped me, my dearly beloved growled at me to do something about a new one. That meant fabric shopping, and that meant (since it was around midnight) Fabric Mart on the internet. Carolyn, the Sewing Fanatic periodi
cally talks about the place, and I do have to say that their service was fast. Ordered Saturday, received Tuesday, this fabric has been sitting on my table talking to me, awaiting attention.

The loud blue and yellow abstract print here is already becoming a summer dress. These people are generous in their measurements, unlike the chain store hereabouts, where 1 yard means 36.25". (I did bawl them out once for cutting a piece crooked, and refused to take it, proving to them that while it was 36" where they had measured, it was under 35" at the other edge.) So, I'm thinking that there might be a fall dress in this piece, too, but I have to live with it for a while and see. The blue with yellow flowers is destined to be a skirt, the one with the silvery threads hasn't yet told me what it wants to be, nor has the off white with embroidered flowers.

I just love love love the burgundy floral in the center of this picture. It could be a million different things, but I bought this for the new dressing gown. I think more may come my way for other uses. It so reminds me of impressionist paintings, which I just adore. The almond fabric to its left wants to be a skirt, and the floral to the right hasn't given me any definitive answers yet.

So, now you all know I'm crazy. Textiles talk to me. Don't worry, I'll be locked back in the rubber room again soon (only kidding).

Friday, August 21, 2009

Dinner and a Question

Last night's dinner was plain and simple: baked ham with a honey glaze - just honey - and party rice. It's not called party rice because it's exciting; it's called party rice because one of my daughters, when she was about 10, declared, "It looks like a party in the house!" For party rice, use white rice, one chicken bouillon cube for each cup or fraction of a cup of water added, 1 grated carrot, 1 minced onion, 1/2 cup each diced tomatoes, shredded zucchini and chopped green things (spinach, kale, chard and parsley all work fine). I didn't have much green thing to chop because it was raining in my garden. But isn't it pretty?

And an orange almond salad. Red leaf lettuce (any dark colored lettuce or spinach will work) with canned mandarin oranges and slivered almonds. Top it with a vinaigrette dressing made from 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp orange juice, 1/2 cup oil, 1 tbsp chopped chives and a touch each of oregano and garlic powder. Easy and festive looking.
Now the question for all of you: My eldest son read my cookbook. He wants me to put in a "Date Night Cooking" section; says dummies like him want to impress girls, and Cheerios don't cut it. Now, I never had any man cook me dinner. So, tell me, what suggestions should I make for him? Remember, this is cooking for the person who barely knows a skillet from a baking pan. Ladies, what memorable dinners have your dates cooked? Gents? What do you cook to impress a date?

I'm spending the weekend in "Textile Therapy"; explanations to follow!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thor and the Pear

I debated as to whether this was a garden post or a dog post.

The boys found this pear on our pear tree. It's the first one that's been seen in years. I don't know what was special about this year, but there's at least one more down there.

What has this to do with dogs? Here's a closer look. Don't you just know that Thor was itching to take a bite of this? Even if dogs don't eat fruit normally.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Zucchini Bread

What screams of the excess of summer gardens more than zucchini bread? I like veggies, including most types of squash, but I'm always happy to turn one into a cake or bread. Doesn't it make you feel like "cheating" on the diet is really healthy? To my friend who starts her new job today, safe journey, and make this over the weekend so you can take it for lunch next week. Really, it's healthy food!


1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup shredded Zucchini
1/4 cup oil

1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped walnuts.

Combine the first 7 (dry) ingredients, and set aside. Mix the oil, egg and milk; add the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Add the zucchini, lemon juice and walnuts, and stir in evenly. Spoon into a greased loaf pan, and bake 50 to 60 minutes, until done,
at 350F. There you have it, no fuss. The lemon juice adds a bit of a tang to the bread.

Of course, I made 2 last night. I'll probably need to make more by tomorrow. Good thing zucchini production is in full swing!

Garden Tuesday: Zucchini

It's Tuesday, and that means a garden update. How about a picture of my yard instead?

We have grapes coming, too. I see grape jam in our future.

Well, I've heard the urban legends about people in the country leaving zucchini on neighbors' porches or in their cars, but I've never seen it happen. Truth be told, I love zucchini, so I wouldn't be leaving it anyway. In the garden over the weekend, I spotted this large beauty. The boys were against picking it, but I finally prevailed. It became Creamed Not Julienned Zucchini. Don't worry, we have more; zucchini bread will follow, possibly tonight.


1 pound or so zucchini
1/4 cup butter
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup milk
salt & pepper

Theoretically, according to the recipe with which I started, you should ju
lienne your zucchini. Or, you could be lazy like me, and just shred it. It worked fine. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add a touch of salt and plenty of pepper, and cook the zucchini for 2 to 3 minutes; it will be crisp. Stir in the cornstarch, then add the cream and milk. Stir until it thickens, another 2 minutes or so, and serve. My error was in using only 1 teaspoon of cornstarch, so the cream sauce didn't cling to the zuc well enough. Ah, well, there's always next time! I had this with my fish and wild rice dinner last night, and it was just the right amount of color and excitement on my plate.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Buttered Almond Ice Cream

You know your weekend won't be serene when your daughter goes to her best friend's house to sleep over on Thursday night, then calls at 11:30PM and says, "The wheel came off my car in the Waffle House parking lot." Yes, she said that. Of course, I couldn't remain sane without AAA, so she called the tow truck and had the car taken to one of my favorite repair shops. A miracle occurred, and Bobby had time Friday morning; the front ball joints were replaced before noon that day. At under $250, I felt lucky. Of course, the rest of the weekend was spent with her whirling around me trying to get everything packed to return to WVU, Thor, knowing something was up, was whirling around, and the house was a circus. So, I did what any sane person would do: I sewed and made ice cream.

This dress, and one of identical fabric except that the background is dark olive. And I look like crap in this picture, because it was about 4AM - sorry.

I also made an A-line skirt of the same fabric as the dress above. The olive skirt is cut but not sewn.

But you really want my ice cream. I promise.


2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup slivered almonds
3-1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp almond extract

Melt the butter on a cookie sheet, then stir the almonds into it. Toast the almonds at 325 for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes or so, until they're nicely toasted. Se
t the sheet aside to let the almonds cool. Meanwhile, combine the milk, cream, and brown sugar. Beat vigorously with a whisk until well combined, then stir in the almond extract. Pour into your ice cream maker, and process according to the manufacturer's directions. A minute or 2 before the ice cream is ready, add the almonds and butter. Just scrape the whole thing off the sheet into the ice cream machine. When the processing's finished, put it in the freezer until you're ready to eat it. Or, if you just adore the smell of almond extract, set a little aside to enjoy right away.

I also made an orange sauce for this. Actually, it was for an applesauce snack cake, but who's counting? 1/2 cup brown sugar stirred with 1 tsp cornstarch and 1/2 cup orange juice, then microwaved until it thickens, less than 3 minutes. My dearly beloved greatly enjoyed it.

Sadly, we're out of both ice cream and sauce. Something else will have to appear soon. And as long as all remains calm in my little corner of the world, I'll be back tomorrow! Hope you all had wonderful weekends, and no one else lost a wheel from their cars!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Happy Thorsday!

Thor has spent whatever sunny days we've had surveying his domain. Sadly, we've had thunderstorms every afternoon for I don't know how long. Still, he and his boys head outside faithfully every day, to be certain their yard is adequately used.
And, since I missed last week, here's another of Thor's baby pictures. It's the only time he was ever allowed to sit on furniture.

Let's hear it - "Awww, how cute!"

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chard and Dessert

Yep, 2-for-1 today. I had plans to post about chard, then I got a case of bananas and was really excited when I thought of a new, exciting dessert. So, without further ado...

I told the boys to go out and gather a head of chard. According to my research, chard is the edible top leaves of an inedible (or maybe just plain nasty) variety of beet. (My dearly beloved claims that all varieties of beet are inedible, but that's another story). Also, if you cut the tops off with a knife, new tops will grow, or so my book says. Yes, it's my 1930s Encyclopedia of Cookery to which I refer.

This was not much of a pile of chard, and I knew it wouldn't do much when they brought it in. Nonetheless, I didn't wish to scold, and they were eager to try it. So I cut out the center ribs and stems, steamed the leaves for about 5 minutes with just a touch of salt, then chopped them and stirred them in with pasta, diced tomatoes (canned), fresh ground pepper and heavy cream. I did try the chard before I added it to the pasta, as did the boys, and we found it to have a pleasant taste. Next time, if they bring in more, it will make a perfectly dandy side dish.

Then came.....dessert!

Last night being Tuesday, it was Brownie Tuesday night. The kids had their standard brownies with pudding, bananas and sprinkles on top, and I made a wondrous concoction for my dearly beloved. I even ate some, but this was filling!


1/4 cup butter

2 bananas, sliced
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp corn syrup
1 tbsp heavy cream

In a skillet, melt the butter. Add the bananas, and saute about 3 minutes, until the outsides begin to soften. Stir in the cornstarch, until no lumps remain, then add the brown
sugar, corn syrup and cream. Stir until it turns liquid, then begins to thicken. Serve over hard frozen ice cream - this is hot, and will begin to melt your ice cream! My dearly beloved ate 2/3 of this, and spent the evening groaning in joy. Paula, note, this is safe for your baby!

Thor will be back tomorrow, I promise! His mom won't be a lazy bum weasel and not fit enough hours into her day this week!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Garden Tuesday: Tomatoes and No Spinach

See my spinach? The row at the extreme left? Look carefully now.

Yes, all you see are stubs. The damn deer must have eaten them. Time to go to Agway for more deer and rabbit repellant. Rabbits don't show up on this side of the house. I think the deer didn't circulate the buffet notice to the rabbits' email inboxes.

But I have, according to my little guy's count, 89 tomatoes! Some are getting pretty big!

I figure these will be cherry tomatoes, the way they're clustered. But I might be surprised. I never know what's going on.

And, for a spot of color in your days, moss roses. They're not the prettiest variety of roses, but they can be counted on for voluminous blooms and riots of color.

Tomorrow I will write my mid-summer composition: "What I did with Swiss Chard." Argh! It's too early to think about school! Think ice cream!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Big Breakfast

Well, I spent last week furiously working on finishing my college kid's cookbook. There's nothing like a kid getting ready to leave for college 2 weeks early to light a fire under one's butt. I tried this on one of my college sons and his father, and it received 2 thumbs up. It takes a few minutes to cook, but I wasn't doing anything that morning, anyway!


2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp minced onion

1 small potato, washed and shredded
1/8 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tbsp milk
1/4 cup diced cooked ham

Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the potato, salt, ham and onion and cook about 5 minutes, until the potato is tender, stirring occasionally. Beat together the eggs and milk, then pour them on top of the potato mixture. Let it cook for a minute or 2, then stir to turn and cook the remainder of the eggs. This serves one (remember, it's from my college kid cookbook). I might like this with tomato added, but, while I have (as of Sunday) 84 tomatoes growing, I have none that are ready to hop onto my plate. Sad day.
I printed out my cookbook for Jeff - the limited edition, pre-production copy #1 of 2. He insisted that it needed an author's biography, so I handwrote this:

"Author's Biography

Jeffrey's mother. I feed him.
Look at him.
Need I say more?"

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chicken and Snow Peas

Like Pam over at Sidewalk Shoes, my dinners are named by ingredient. I blame my children for this; when you're cooking for people who want "Beans Beef", how can you ever remember the real name? I suppose things are sometimes named by ethnicity, but, again, how many times can "Chinese Chicken" or "Italian Chicken" be used? I digress.

My husband thought this was a stellar dinner. I found it a bit salty, but, then, I'm the person who has never put salt on anything. Nope, not salad, nothing. I cook with miniscule amounts of salt - really, does anyone else use only about 1/2 teaspoon of salt for 2 pounds of vegetables? Anyway, try this, cut down to the appropriate ratios for your family; you'll all like it.


5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken (I used thighs)
liberal amounts of soy sauce
1 small onion, minced finely
1 green onion, cut in small pieces
2 cans bamboo shoots
1 pound frozen snow peas
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Arrange the chicken in a pan; sprinkle lightly with salt and liberally with soy sauce, and spread the minced onion over it. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, turning once or twice, until the chicken is nearly done. Remove from the oven. Whisk the cornstarch and water together, add about 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, and stir into the chicken. Add the snow peas, green onion and bamboo shoots, and return to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with Sorta Risotto with Kale or rice florentine.

This could also be done as a stir fry dinner, but I really don't want to run 4 or 5 skillets; I'm just not that coordinated. In any event, this was a huge seller. We had no leftovers, and Thor got relatively little table scrap. Sorry, Thor can't offer a first hand review.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Garden Tuesday

Well, my garden looks ever more like a jungle.

The green leaf lettuce is astonishing. We live on salad, although my tomatoes aren't in yet, so I have to buy them. My little guy tells me we have 64 baby tomatoes (since about 30 of those are on one bush, I suspect those are cherry tomatoes).
I used some of the kale to make creamed kale. It wasn't bad, but it certainly didn't get raves from the starving hordes hereabouts. If you want to try it, grate two small potatoes and cook in 1-1/2 cups milk with a touch of salt and pepper. Meanwhile, chop about 2 pounds of kale, removing the stems, and cook in a small amount of salted water for about 10 minutes; drain. Whirl the cooked potato mix in your food processor or blender, and also puree the kale if it's not fine enough. Combine the kale and potato, add 1/2 cup whipping cream and a touch of nutmeg, heat a bit if necessary, and serve.

Fish last night, cooked with a small onion from our garden, a grated carrot and a tomato, with white sauce added. Served with heart attack potatoes, potato bread and a huge salad, no extra veggies were necessary.
And, finally, onion flowers! Aren't they pretty?