Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Thor wishes you and yours happy trick or treating and handing out of goodies. As for Thor, his plans include guarding these pumpkins. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Friday, October 30, 2009

My Baby is 10

I really don't know where the time has gone. My baby turned 10 yesterday. Of course, we had a party last Saturday night, while his sister was home, but last night, we had another cake and he got the presents sent by his college sibs. That's right, the lucky little devil got 2 cakes and 2 batches of presents. These are Saturday night.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pumpkins on Thorsday

We never get our pumpkins more than a week before Halloween. I really just don't want 30 to 50 pounds of rotting vegetables laying around for that long. However, we must have them, because I don't want to disappoint my children.

Thor inspected Mark's pumpkin carefully to see just what this thing was
Then he pretended to snooze through the fun going on around him.
Just look at that piece Mark took out of his pumpkin! This may warrant further inspection....
And more inspection....

And yet more inspection....

Here's a closer look, in case you didn't see exactly what's going on here.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pain de Paris

yes, I had to get all fancy and make a bread with a fancy Frenchified name. And, of course, that meant I had to use the fancy Frenchified name for a title. Sorry about that!

I found the recipe in Beth Hensperger's Bread Machine Bible. Of course, I never finish my bread in the machine, and I often just use my mixer to process it, especially if I'm making a large batch. But, as I've said before, the bread machine is a very fine mixer!


Pate Fermente Starter

1/2 cup warm water (about 95F - the temperature of my fingers)
1-1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp yeast.

Mix the ingredients in the bread machine or a mixing bowl, and let sit at room temperature for 3 to 12 hours. Punch down every 4 hours if it's sitting long. (Or, you can mix it and put it in the fridge overnight, taking it out to come to room temp an hour before you plan to use it.) Makes enough for 2 batches of bread.

Bread Dough

1-1/3 cup warm water
3-1/4 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp sea salt
3 tsp gluten
2 tsp or 4 tsp (for fast rising) yeast
3/4 cup starter (half the batch)

Dissolve the yeast in the water, and stir in the rest of the ingredients. To measure the starter, rinse a dry measuring cup with cold water, shake it off, and scoop out the starter. It will be a low 3/4 cup, otherwise, your second batch won't get the proper amount. Mix according to my bread making directions (link over there---->), let it rise for 15 minutes, form into loaves, and bake for 17 to 20 minutes at 375F. Note that this bread doesn't brown up much.
I made this on two separate nights. The crust was very crunchy, and Thor espe
cially loved it. It was good, but nothing very special. The verdict? I probably won't make this often, because the starter is a pain. I had been hoping for a weak sourdough flavor, especially in the second batch, but it didn't happen. My boys did enjoy it as a grinder, but no more so than my usual French bread. Ah, well, we must keep life interesting around here, right?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Garden Tuesday

In the rare, perfect autumn day, I relish the sight of an apple tree with spots of ripe, red fruit abounding.
The maples are sporting new colors these days.

The sky is a perfect montage of shades of stunning azure.

And yet another hidden advantage of living in an old house: a weather vane and lightning rod combination.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chocolate Desesrt #72

OK, Chocolate Dessert #72 really isn't a complete dessert. But I know Sue's been waiting patiently for another recipe from the 365 Chocolate Desserts cookbook. I also knew my daughter would be driving home Friday night, although I didn't know she'd be driving through a monsoon. So I took this simple and great chocolate recipe, paired it up with another recipe, and, Bingo!

Banana Cream Pie in Chocolate Crust

Recipe #72: Chocolate Pie Crust

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips OR 3 ounces semisweet chocolate
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp shortening

1/2 cup ground walnuts
1-1/2 cups shredded coconut

Melt the butter, chocolate and shortening in the top of a double boiler or in a 4 cup mi
crowavable measuring cup. Stir in the walnuts and coconut. Spread in a very well greased pie plate, and freeze for 10 minutes or more.

Custard filling:

2 egg yolks
1-3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar

Whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in the 4 cup microwavable measuring cup. Whisk in the milk, then add the rest of the ingredients. Microwave until it simmers and thickens, stirring every 30 to 60 seconds.

Into the frozen pie crust, slice 2 bananas.
Pour the custard in - use my recipe, or store bought cook and serve, or instant - whatever floats your boat. I suppose you could even use chocolate pudding, although I think that would just be weird. Top with whipped cream - made at home, canned, cool whip, again, whatever floats your boat. This dessert isn't supposed to be complex; it's supposed to be good!

Paula, this is safe for your baby. Dog, replace the walnuts with some other ground nut or even more coconut; it's a good alternative to graham cracker crust. Duckie, sorry it's got chocolate in it. And everyone take note, the 4 kids who were at home ate half of it Friday night, and the rest for lunch on Saturday. Then they wailed because there was no more, although they also ate the one in the graham cracker crust thereafter.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Flowers and Tinkerbell

My daughter sent me birthday flowers from Wyoming. My little boys bought me the vase.

And my other daughter came home for me to turn her into Tinkerbell for Halloween. I do believe I was successful!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thousand Island Dressing

Who else likes to make their own salad dressing? When all of the kids are home, I don't make all that they want, because then I could spend my life with the blender and never get to eat. Well, maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing, especially at the end of the Grand Celebratory Season, which is rapidly approaching....anyway....

Who thought up Thousand Island Dressing, anyway? I've been to the Thousand Islands, located in the St. Lawrence Seaway between New York and Ontario. Rich people used to build giant vacation houses there. Does that seem like the kind of people who would suddenly holler at each other, "Dude! Let's put ketchup on our salads!" Ah, yes, I suffer such strange contemplations.


3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp sweet relish
1/2 tsp very finely minced onion
1/2 tsp horseradish
1 tsp water (if desired, to thin the dressing a little)

Mix the ingredients together (I use one of those Good Seasons cruets) and chill at least 30 minutes. Pour over your salad, and ignore people who poke fun at you for putting ketchup on your salad. It even adds flavor to the relatively bland Iceberg lettuce.

Katie and Michelle in the Southern Hemisphere, I know you're starting your kitchen gardens. Hope this is inspiration to you!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thor has a Lobster!

Thanks to Gaylen, Thor has a new Larry the Lobster. This one must not be cooked, since he is blue and not red. Well, it seems inappropriate to cook your friends anyway.

Thor has decided that this is his lobster. After he goes out, he pounces on Larry and selects someone to play with him.
And when he's tired out, he'll take a little snooze with his new toy close at paw. Thanks, Beau and Lucy, for telling your momma about Larry!
And, Sue, I sense another recipe from the 365 Chocolate Desserts coming your way soon. Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Seafood Bisque

It was cold and dreary here this weekend. And while we were lucky up to escape the (expletives deleted) snow with which we were threatened, we were lucky if the temperature ever hit 40. So, Saturday night was a perfect night for soup. My cupboards and refrigerator were shockingly empty (hardly a surprise, since I had forgotten to order a food shipment for Thursday), but I had some imitation crab in the freezer. And, since I love bisque, I hunted in vain for a recipe, and ultimately created my own.


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
2 finely minced onions
2 finely minced carrots
4 finely minced or shredded potatoes
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1 cup white wine

1-1/2 pounds imitation crab
1 cup powdered milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 tbsp pepper
1/4 cup sherry
1/2 cup water whisked with up to 2 tbsp cornstarch, if needed

In a large stockpot, melt the butter. Add the onions, and saute until soft. Add the carrot, potatoes, broth, water and wine; let them simmer for an hour or so, until the potatoes dissolve. If you wish, run the broth through the blender at this point, but I didn't bother; there really were no lumps in it. Add the crab, and cook until heated, then whisk in the powdered milk and pepper. If the broth isn't thick enough for you at this point, add the water/cornstarch mixture and bring the bisque to a boil. Taste, and add more salt, if needed (I didn't add any, but I'm not a huge salt fan). Add the cream and sherry, and heat to just below boiling. Serve with a mild white bread, such as Italian.

Patrick, who hates food, exclaimed that this was great soup. I only had one quart left over, and the three boys shared it for lunch on Sunday. If you want to use something other than the imitation seafood, it would be great, but we really enjoyed this. And I later learned from Louise that Monday was National Seafood Bisque Day, so maybe the boys should have saved the leftovers for lunch on that day? And, Paula, this works for your baby!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Through the Gate

I am happy to say that the snow which was predicted for my house, and which began flying on Thursday night, amounted to little. That's not to say it isn't cold, but it isn't white. This gives me the ability to answer a question asked a while back by Pam, who wanted to know what's through the gate on my header. Well, here's the gate today, with the burning bushes turning to their spectacular scarlet and hot pink hues (thus the name "burning bush").

I love walking through and under the boughs toward the gate.

And on the other side, I see....My little corner of the world! Complete with sunshine, an alien concept hereabouts of late!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cornish Treacle Tart

Let me state for the record: I'm not Cornish. I've never been to Cornwall. And I really, truly wouldn't know treacle if it hit me in the head (although I suspect I'd be quite irked if it did). But I was intrigued when I found the recipe in my Fannie Farmer cookbook. Plus, I have had this pan for about 20 years and never used it once!

Travesty, isn't it? Or, maybe it just shows how lacking my baking repertoire has been. Anyway, the recipe calls for an 8" pie pan, which is much smaller than mine; even this lovely tart pan is 10" diameter. So, I multiplied the recipe by 150%, and added the walnuts you find here, and am delighted with the result!


8" unbaked pie crust
3/4 cup golden syrup or 3/8 cup honey and 3/8 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup fresh white bread crumbs
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp grated lemon rind
(optional) 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (my addition)

Stir together all of the filling ingredients in a large measuring cup. Scoop into the crust, top with pastry strips, arranged lattice-style, and bake at 400F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

Ryan said this was my first ever classic pie-looking pie, and he was proud. Tasty and easy; what could be better?

Sunday, October 18, 2009


As Gaylen requested, I'm "flashing some foot," to use Chan's verbiage. Aren't they pretty?

And Michelle, my daughters will never, ever get near these socks!

(and now you all know I didn't do my filing on Friday, because I put my foot on my desk.)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Missing Teacher

In honor of Gaylen's present to me, I'm sharing with you this story which my youngest wrote last year, in the middle of fourth grade. They were assigned to write a story using several elements, but none of them struck my boy's fancy. Thus, you have, complete with his spelling and punctuation errors....

If someone asked George if he had something to do with it, he'd sa
y no. But the truth was he did. In fact, he had a lot to do with it. But let's start at the beginning. Goerge had given his teacher an apple the previous day, and now she was missing. It was 8:45, the bell had just rung. "Where's the teacher?" Katie asked? "Dunno,"said Joe. "Let's have a party," he suggested.

"But wait," one cautious boy said, "What if she walks in two minutes from now?"
"Now, Sam, you well know she would not do a stupid thing like that," said Steven. Sam wasn't convinced. "Yes, she would," he'd say. "If she doesn't come
in now, it's likly she won't come in."

"Yes, I know that, said Sam, but like you sayed, there is a slim chance she will." The others started taking sides. Some agreed with Steven, but most agreed with Sam. "Okay you guys can sit there and do Science like wimps," said Steven. He and his friends began to play games.

"You'll be sorry," said Sam. Andy began to be teacher. "Everybody must now begin to dance on their desks." The children had no choice but to obey. After school that day John, Tim, Tom, Joe and Sam met under the big oak tree in the yard. "I think someone kidnaped her," annonced Joe. All the others agreed. "I think we should try to rescue her." A rainstorm began. Steven walked up to them. "You honestly think she was kidnapped?" His voice was as angry as the storm. "You morons." He stomped away.

The sun cleared. The clouds rolled away. "Oh dear me," said Tim. "It's blue out. Cheer up you gloomy thing," said Tom. "Alright everyone," said Sam abruptly. "Our first course of action will be to find out anything that will give us any information about the capture."

The next day, they all reported to Sam. "All I found was a piece of apple skin," said Joe. They looked each other strangly. "GEORGE!" they bellowed. George came immedeetly. "Did you, by any chance eat an apple yesterday?"

"No." came the reply. George looked at them as if they had 3 heads. "I gave her an apple, but she did not eat it." Sam got excited. "We must find out who ate the teacher's apple. The we find out if he captured the teacher." They took a survey of the class, but no one had ate it. "I do enjoy apples," Brian had said. "But I most certainly did not eat the teachers apple."

"One of you is lying,"said Joe. "And when we find out who it is, you wi
ll be very, very, very sorry."

Suspect 1: Steven, because he is very opposing of us finding the teacher, he did not want to be caught.

Suspect 2: Brian. He likes apples so he might have ate it, then locked the teacher up.

That is what the suspect list looked like. The next morning in Science, the Science teacher explained about fingerprints. "There are loops, arches and whorls," she had said. "The apple piece looks like it has no fingerprints on it," commented Tom. as Joe and John walked home together discussing the day's happenings, they saw a trail of apple skin. They decided to follow it. At the end was the teacher's house. They walked through her house. There she was knitting a sock. "I could not go to school without a sock," she explained. She went back to school and everything went back to normal.


I was reminded of this story by Gaylen's thoughtful gift. I hope you all got a good chuckle out of it, too.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Present for Thor (and me, too!)

Yesterday, there was white crap falling out of my sky. And my youngest was sleeping on the sofa with a sore throat much of the day. And Thor insisted that he keep going out to see if this stupid white crap was over and done yet. And I had an unhappy appointment to keep after 5. So it was a miserable day here, until Mr. UPS arrived with a present....from Gaylen!

Most importantly, she found poor Thor a wonderful new lobster! Now, Thor has to be convinced that a toy is his before he'll play with it. This is good, because I'm pretty sure it saves a lot of stuff from being eaten. So, for a while, we napped with the lobster.

When Patrick came home from the job fair, he decided to play with the lobster. Thor helped. Ultimately, the little boys got to play, too. Soon, Thor will be convinced that this is HIS new Lobster!

But my favorite part of the lobster was the tag. How funny is this?Can you read where it says "For Dogs Only"? Were there problems with children using dog toys?

Gaylen also made me a pretty new reversible apron, which is here with Mr. Lobster. You can see it on my br
eakfast room counter; one side is the yellow print with pink accents, and the other side is the pink print with the yellow accents. Now my apron can match my outfits.
But nicest of all, she knitted me socks. Duckie, be jealous: they're pink. I have never seen hand knitted socks before, and look at the detailing on the sides, and ruffly tops. Thank you, Gaylen; you made my day!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

In Which Thor Celebrates Pooh's 83rd Birthday

Thanks to Louise, I became aware yesterday that it was the 83rd anniveresary of the first publication of Winnie the Pooh. Of course, everyone loves Pooh Bear, right? Right. So, since Louise thoughtfully provided a link to a Pooh Party Guide, which included a recipe for Hunny Cake, we had everything necessary!

Thor loves a good party, and you can be certain that he was in the middle of it, along with a couple of Birthday Poohs and Birthday Tigger.
He sniffed for a minute, to see if the Hunny Cake was dog friendly.

Having concluded that while bears like hunny, dogs do not, Thor laid down for a while. Others celebrated with Hunny Cake; Thor celebrated with Beef Treats.

In case you're not Thor, here's how you would go about making a proper Hunny Cake. Oh, bother, it requires baking! Sorry!


1-3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup hunny (or honey, as you see fit)

Cream the butter with brown sugar, then beat in the eggs until smooth. Add all of the dry ingredients, milk and honey, and beat until light and creamy. Spread in either two 9" round pans, or a 9x13 baking pan. Bake at 375F 20 to 25 minutes for either size, until the cake tests done. The original recipe suggests topping the cake with powdered sugar (and my dearly beloved opines that it would have been great that way), but I used....


1 egg white
1/2 cup honey

Beat the egg white until stiff. When it's very stiff, put your honey in a large microwavable measuring cup, and microwave it until it boils, less than a minute. (If you use a 1 cup me
asure, you run the real risk of boiling over, which is a delightful mess; learn from my experience.) With the mixer running, drizzle the hot honey into the egg white, and beat until smooth and glossy. Frost your cake; the frosting layer will be smaller than with most other recipes, but it's rich and moist enough to make up for that. This recipe was found in my old Fannie Farmer cookbook, although she didn't label it as being appropriate for Pooh's birthday.

Thor wishes you all a Happy Thorsday, and hopes you will celebrate a belated Pooh's Birthday with all of your two footed and four footed friends. Until next week, In Which Thor Hopes He Will Have Found Sunshine....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

With Thanks to Pam at Sidewalk Shoes...

...who has given my husband and 24 year old son another reason to shake their heads at me.

Spatchcock, n. A chicken split in preparation for cooking on the grill.

Spatchcock, v. To split a chicken along the backbone, and flatten out, in preparation for cooking on the grill or by other methods.

(And you wouldn't believe the size of the dictionary I needed to find these definitions.)

So, last night I took my trusty new kitchen shears and started cutting along the spine of my oven stuffer roaster, in order to be able to use one of Pam's new favorite words. My husband ordered my son to take the shears from me and finish the cutting under my supervision, since he's almost twice my size. (Oh, yeah, my feeling were so hurt. You're not stronger than a 24 year old man with enormous hands. Boo Hoo.) My chicken was still partially frozen, so this seemed the logical way to cook it efficiently. So, after Patrick spatchcocked that sucker, I rinsed th
e inside and coated it with sea salt, garlic powder and poultry seasoning. Turned over, the chicken was treated to finely minced onion under the skin, lemon juice squeezed over top, and another fine coating of garlic powder and poultry seasoning.

I roasted this in the oven for two reasons: One, I don't grill. You all know that I have an aversion to black lines on my food, so we needn't go back to that, right? Two, it was 41 freakin' degrees out last night, and I wanted my oven running. Actually, I wanted both running. Chicken, bread, brownies, butternut squash, Cornish Treacle Tart, a veritable smorgasbord of oven cooked wonderment. Anyway, this was the end result of my roasted spatchcock:

Best of all, for pernicious folks like me (translation: really cheap, although I prefer "thrifty"), there was almost no meat left stuck to the ribcage, and, therefore, less waste. Excellent! And since I had just about 2 tiny pieces of chicken left over, you know this had fine flavor, too.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Garden Tuesday

I have been waiting all day for the rain to stop. I didn't even require sunshine, just a lack of rain! Finally, at 4:30, my little corner of the world dried up a little bit.

The autumn colors are peering through just a bit. I spotted this dogwood on my way back in from a day at the doctor yesterday (and what could have been more fun than that?), and thought you'd all like to see it. Not many trees turn purple in autumn.

Happy Tuesday, everyone, and Thor sends greetings from wherever he's hiding from the evil wet stuff.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Craisin Almond Cookies

Another weekend in the life of the dummy who ran out of confectioner's sugar. Cookies seemed to be a good order of business, so I came up with this gem or a recipe. It was based (sort of) on butter cookies, which I like. And I got 1. Yes. One.


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup craisins
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Cream the butter and white sugar till light, then add the brown sugar, and beat until smooth. Add the egg and extracts, and beat until smooth, then beat in the flour and soda. When it's evenly mixed, stir in the almonds and craisins. Drop by teaspoonsful onto a greased cookie sheet, and bake at 350F for about 10 minutes. Makes approximately 2-1/2 dozen.

So, since I just created these beauties out of thin air, you're probably wondering exactly why I hate making cookies. I'll tell you:

4 cookies set aside for each little boy's lunch the next day = 8 cookies
5 cookies for each of the little boys for dessert = 10 cookies
6 cookies each for my dearly beloved and Patrick's desserts = 12 cookies
1 cookie left over for me

TOTAL: 31 cookies (which is what I made). OK, it's good for my diet. But I like to be able to choose to be on a diet. So, I only make cookies if I have no choice. And, no, I don't want to double or triple the recipe, and stand in the kitchen for an extra 10 or 20 minutes, because the cookies will still all be gone before I get any. Happy Columbus Day, everyone! And remember, the Vikings were the first Europeans here. (I love reminding Italians of that; it drives them nuts.)