Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dogs on Thursday: Thor's Christmas

In our house, Christmas Eve is when the kids exchange gifts with each other. Thor gets plenty of presents, and always opens them gleefully.
This is his new blue elephant, and Thor's been hauling him around for everyone to play with! he also tries to trade elephant playtime for food, but that's another story.
And, of course, on Christmas, Patrick needed help opening his presents. Or maybe it was just that he needed help shredding the paper. I'm not sure which.
Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Garden Tuesday: After the Blizzard

So, within 125 miles of me, Philadelphia got a foot of snow, New York city got 2 feet, and New Jersey approached 3 feet. My paper claims we got 5" of snow.

Does this look like 5" of snow to you? It has not been plowed.

Here's Thor's footprint in the 5" of snow, alongside mine.

OK, my footprint is a little odd looking, because I was wearing my new Rocket Dog shoes. Here's a picture, because I know those gents in the over 125 year old set love the flash of a well turned ankle. Or maybe just because my lady friends are always looking for new shoes to love.
How much snow did all of you get?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A One Horse Open Sleigh

At the tree farm, there was a One Horse Open Sleigh on display in the back yard. It does not look like the kind of transportation I would enjoy.

Naturally, Thor and I had to stuff people into the sleigh for pictures. Aren't we festive?

(I am rather offended that the sign at the Christmas Tree Farm says "Happy Holidays". Am I nuts?)

Merry Christmas to all of you, my invisible friends. I wish you much love and happiness through the season, and here's hoping for a better 2011!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Week Menu Planning

Well, to answer your questions, there was a lot of grumbling going on in the Suburban. And, of course, everyone informed me that we "always" take "at least" 2 cars, which has never happened. So, while my order that everyone was going to be merry was not met with the greatest of enthusiasm, at least the grumbling ceased. And we rode home with the tree INSIDE the Suburban, along with 8 people and Thor, because it was too cold for the boys to merrily tie it to the luggage rack.
For the Florida Violin Mom, we love scoping out the 10 foot to 12 foot trees, but have only an 8 foot ceiling in the family room, so we stick with the standard sized trees.

The kids and Thor put the lights and "garlic" on the tree (so called because some of them couldn't pronounce "garland" about a million years ago), and we still have a tree covered with only lights and garlic. But at least it's lit, and smells nice.

Now, the food plan for the rest of the week:

Today, Wednesday:

Eye Round Roast
Heart Attack potatoes
creamed corn
steamed broccoli spears
Pullman Bread
Chocolate cake with buttercream frosting

Thursday, 12/23:

Roast turkey breast
corn bears (corn bread in little bear shaped pans)
pumpkin pie (because I like it)

Christmas Eve:

Shrimp Scampi
Angel Hair
Sponge Cake

Christmas Dinner:

Standing Rib Roast
Yorkshire Pudding
Rock Potatoes

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Spinach Salad

Christmas Morning:

2 pans of brownies (with and without walnuts)
chocolate cake
2 color cake
4 loaves cranberry bread

2 loaves banana bread
Christmas punch

hot chocolate

And, in case you want a great Christmas punch, here it is:

12 ounce can orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 liter bottle diet cranberry ginger ale
1/2 pound frozen strawberries
whipped cream

Pour the orange juice into a punch bowl, and slowly add the ginger ale (so it stays bubbly). Add the frozen strawberries; they will keep your punch cold. Top with whipped cream - I make mine fresh, but use canned or cool whip if that's what floats your boat! It's good, it does have some redeeming nutritional qualities, it's not loaded with sugar, and, best of all, it's really, really easy!

Thor leaves you with a picture of the new Santa hat his soon-to-be lawyer girl bought him. He does not look that pleased to me!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thorsday already?

On Saturday, Thor took his people shopping for their Christmas tree. The tree farm is one of the few intelligent, dog friendly stores around. Hmph. Why would anyone not want Thor to come to their store, anyway? It's one of life's great mysteries.

The first order of business was to get his harness on. It must have shrunk in the wash. Or else people are sabotaging Thor's "pudgy puppy" diet. I won't speculate as to which it might be. (Notice my daughter wearing floral tights and little black flats to go to the farm. Sniff. I am so proud.)
There were some interesting smells to be found, and a lot of pee-mail to be left.
Time to scope out the Christmas trees in the barn, then off to see the ones outside. The boys were successful in not letting Thor "mark" any Christmas trees.
After enough romping, Thor sat down beside his littlest boy to wait for someone to pay for the tree. Then, back to the Suburban to ride home with the tree! I do have to confess that the usual b***hing, moaning and wailing about everyone getting into the Suburban, instead of taking 2 or 3 cars, did occur, but I held my ground, announcing, "You're all getting into the Suburban, dammit, and you're all going to be merry if it kills me!" Can you tell we've held this debate before?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Solstice Swap

A while back, Sue and her 10 dogs organized a Winter Solstice Swap, and Thor and I decided to participate. Was it hard to convince Thor to participate? No, of course not. He sleeps through the preparations and gets the reward; life is good in Thor World.

So, last week we got a package from a Secret Santa in a mysterious, snowy place called "Chicago". It must be snowy, since Santa lives there, right?
The boys were all about helping Thor open his present. I was all about not letting Thor eat the wrapping paper. I lost.

Our presents came from a guy named "Mr. Pip"! Upon investigation, we discovered that he is a small dude, so it must have been very hard for him to drag home this giant present, suitable for someone Thor's size. I think Mr. Pip said to his mom, "OK, here's the scoop. We need something as big as me for that monster!"
It's a jute toy which appears to have a bottle or something inside it for stability. Thor liked it!
Mr. Pip's person, Kim, made me this beautiful scarf, hand dyed, hand hemmed and machine washable! She may not have a giant slobber-bombing resident in her house, but she evidently understands them!
Look at how pretty it is!
When I gave Thor back his present after photographing it, he carefully placed it with his flat fox, and his few remaining scraps of wrapping paper. A guy has to keep his stuff in order!

So, thank you Kim and Pip for these goodies, and thanks to Sue for organizing this swap!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Waffle Week, Part 3

I'll bet you thought I forgot about Waffle Week, didn't you? Nope. Just had a lot to do yesterday.

Of course, there are still no waffle pictures. So, once again, random pictures to brighten your day.

Random picture #1: Thor, of course!


4-1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
5 eggs

3/4 cup vegetable oil
2-1/4 cups milk
1 cup raisins
2 apples, cored and chopped small

Beat the eggs until they're light; stir together the dry ingredients, and add to the eggs in 2 batches, alternating with the milk and oil. Beat until well combined, then stir in the raisins and apples. Keeps in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days, and sneaks fruit into your family without the realization of the fact!

Random picture #2: Thanksgiving, shortly after midnight, when my daughter decided to learn to use my new camera. Well, now you'll all remember the color of my eyes, or at least that one.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thor's Waiting

It's been about a million years since Thor's college people left him, or at least 2-1/2 weeks. How does the poor guy ever pass the time?

Watching football with his smallest boy. Note that while he's lying down, Thor's eyes are open, watching whatever game was on.

Checking on Ryan after high school, and being overjoyed at his report card. Not to brag on my kid or anything, but his first quarter GPA was 96. So, he's debunked the myth that homeschooled kids are poorly socialized and can't thrive in a school setting. That doesn't make Thor any happier that both of his little boys aren't home all day, every day.

One of Thor's big brothers arrived home last night, and many more arrive over the weekend! He is ecstatic!

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Waffle Week, Part 2

Welcome back to Waffle Week! (Isn't that better than welcoming you back to "Pull out your hair before the holidays week"?)

Entry two for Waffle Week is a little bit of a surprise when you eat it!


5 eggs
1/4 cup sugar

2-1/4 cups orange juice
3/4 cup vegetable oil
zest of one orange
1 tsp lemon extract
4-1/2 cups flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup powdered milk

Beat the eggs with the sugar until well combined and smooth. Add half o
f the flour and half of the orange juice, and beat until smooth, then add all of the other ingredients. Beat at low speed until combined, then at medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth. Bake in your waffle iron according to the manufacturer's directions.
These waffles have just a little tang to them. They're good with honey or with apricot syrup. They are also evidently a good afternoon snack, plain, as Ryan will attest.

Meanwhile, Thor is dreaming of cookies with his picture on the box, just like the ones he got a couple of years ago. He likes that Milk Bones recognizes a full sized dog when they see one.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Garden Tuesday: Winter Planting

My dearly beloved wanted different plantings along the street. Arbor Vitae, or, to be exact, Green Giant Arbor Vitae. They are supposed to grow very fast, and not be the deer smorgasbord that the regular American Arbor Vitae are. So he hunted up a landscaper we've used before, and the guy said he had a grower who could still dig the trees out last week, before the ground froze too hard.

So, there they were, unloading trees the first week of December, and getting ready to plant away!

Some fool actually stopped beside the landscaper, and informed him that he can't plant at this time of the year! Really? First off, pal, you don't even live in this neighborhood. Second, it's not your money. Last, I believe the guy who's paid to know what he's doing, especially since these plants come with a warranty.
Jeffrey was complaining bitterly last night, because it was 12 degrees at 7PM; he was moving to Cuba for the weather, and figured the $20 in his pocket would last him a month. I pointed out that come summer, he'll be dead of sun poisining. So, it's a good thing these trees got planted last week!

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Hope your Christmas planning (or preparation) is coming along well!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Waffle Week, Part 1

Breakfast at my house is usually a simple affair. Granted, there are days when I wake up and just want to make a coffee cake or something similar, but most of the time it's your choice of one of three things: oatmeal, eggs or waffles.

Quite some time ago, I posted my basic waffle recipe. I make a batch of waffle batter every day or 2 when everyone's home, and twice a week when we have a smaller hungry horde. This keeps really well in the refrigerator, so if you want to try it, you needn't fear spoilage before you can use it.

And if you're not tempted yet, I've come up with three new variations, all of which are big hits here in my little corner of the world. First up:


5 eggs
2 cups milk

3/4 cup vegetable oil
4-1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 to 2 cups frozen blueberries, partially thawed

Beat the eggs with the sugar until smooth. Beat in half the flour and half th
e milk until smooth, then the remainder of the flour, baking powder, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat 2 to 3 minutes until smooth. The batter will be rather thick. Stir in the blueberries. Cook in your waffle iron according to the manufacturer's directions.

This batter will keep 4 to 5 days in a cold refrigerator (full disclosure: I keep mine at 34F). If you want easy waffles during the week, make up a batch of waffles on the weekend, and take them out of the waffle iron while they're very light in color. Line up on cooling racks until they're at room temperature, then seal them into ziploc bags and freeze. They're better than supermarket waffles, and just as easily cooked in your toaster. And there you are, an easy hot breakfast in less time than your coffee maker will take!

Since all waffles look alike, there isn't much in the way of photos for this week's posts. Expect random pictures of whatever I find.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

New Header

The new header picture is from 3 years ago. Thor's Santa hat hasn't been since then. However, Thor wants you all to know that this embodies his deepest belief: that every dog should have a boy or two, and that everyone should enjoy the Christmas season to the fullest!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wipe Your Paws!

It's been bitter cold here for about 2 weeks; we've not reached 25 degrees in that time. On Monday morning, I noted with alarm that when Thor went out, one of his back legs hit ice from his water bucket, and started to go out from under him. We immediately called Jeffrey at work, and told him to go get Thor a door mat, so this wouldn't happen again.

Isn't it great?

And here's how Thor is spending this balmy 17 degree morning: hibernating!

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sweet Potato Puff Rolls

I have not had the mental energy to do any great and exciting cooking hereabouts. Trying to figure out what to buy for Christmas for all of my kids is a taxing experience at best, and I feel like it's a cop-out to just hand out gift cards. Call me crazy, but that's how I think.

Anyway, I was perusing an old bread cookbook, when I happened upon a recipe for potato rolls. Having a small container of mashed sweet potatoes in my fridge, I thought I could make some dandy substitutions. Surprising light and fluffy, these rolls disappeared in a hurry!


1/2 cup mashed sweet potatoes, warmed
1 cup warm milk
1 warm egg (place in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes)
6 tsp yeast
4 cups flour
4 tsp gluten powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp butter, cut in small pieces

Pour the milk in your bread machine bucket or mixing bowl; sprinkle the yeast over top. Add the dry ingredients, followed by the butter, sweet potato and egg. Mix according to my bread making directions (see icon to the right); let rise 15 minutes, punch down, and form into 16 nice round rolls. Let them rise until doubled in size, about 20 to 30 minutes, then bake at 375F for 16 to 18 minutes.

My little guy cut one open the next day, put some cheese inside and cooked it in the George Foreman grill. He swore that it was a great lunch! Ryan filled two with chicken and lettuce for a nice portable lunch; clearly, these were quite good.

Thor will see you all tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Garden Tuesday: A Dusting of Snow

Buffalo got 2 feet of snow. Erie got 2 feet of snow. I got just enough to paint the yard white for the morning.

See? That's my footprint. Clearly not much snow. I'm not complaining.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Spatchcocked Orange Chicken

Somehow, this is my 900th post. Astonishing. I've never had that much to say in my life. And so I thank you all for visitng me!

December has me, as usual, a few degrees off plumb. So, while this chicken was really good, the same dummy who exploded an apple pie plate last week also forgot to take a picture; sorry! I'll fill in with random pictures that I know you'll like, like this one of Thor enjoying a lamb bone last Easter.


1 Oven stuffer roaster
Peel from one orange (enjoy the orange before you cook)
1 onion, quartered
1/4 cup cold water whisked with 2 tbsp cornstarch

Cut the chicken along the backbone, and open it up.
Salt the inside of the chicken. Cut the orange peel into slices, and arrange half in the bottom of your roasting pan. Lay the chicken on top of the orange peel, tuck the onion quarters under the skin between the body of the chicken and the legs and wings. Slide the remainder of the orange peel, orange side down, between the skin and the body of the chicken. Roast at 350F for about 2 to 2-1/2 hours, until the meat thermometer registers 165F when inserted in the thigh. Pour the pan drippings into a sauce pan, and heat to a simmer. Whisk together the cold water and cornstarch, and whisk into the pan drippings; cook until thickened. Serve with rice or potatoes. The chicken and gravy have a slightly orange flavor, and are really good!

Final random picture: this clock is in my breakfast room. It was a gift to my dearly beloved's grandparents for their 50th anniversary, way back when. When his father died, his mother gave it to me. Evidently, I'm the only person nutty enough to like it. But, hey, I'm girly; I like gold and curlicues, and I love clocks, too!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thor's Smallest Visitor

While Thor shook hands with lots of people over Thanksgiving week,

And got plenty of ear rubs and hugs,

His smallest visitor wouldn't even talk to him. Winston was petrified of Thor, and of the noise in the house, and hid under my son's bed upstairs for 5 days.

I made him come out to play with me, thus I got this picture of Winston snoozing.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fish in a Sherry Cream Sauce

I need to confess right now, so you can all hate me and get past it. I lost 3 pounds Thanksgiving week despite drinking 2 quarts of eggnog all by myself. It's all because I was so busy cooking that I didn't want to eat. Absurd, yes, but that's how it went. Sorry!

So, last night was the first time in nearly 2 weeks that I've been hungry. And I was ravenous. So I decided to try something new with fish, adapting a recipe I found in the classic red plaid cookbook.


2 pounds fish filets, 1" thick
melted butter
salt and pepper
2 tbsp butter
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
8 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sherry
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup milk

2 tbsp cornstarch
more pepper

Brush the top of the fish with melted butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook about 5" under the broiler for 8 to 10 minutes per side if frozen, about 5 minutes if not frozen, and when you turn the fish, brush the second side with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan, and saute the garlic and scallions until lightly browned. Stir in the sour cream and let it start to melt, the
n add the chicken broth and sherry and heat until it begins to boil. Whisk the cornstarch into the milk, and stir into the sauce. Stir until thickened, and spoon over the cooked fish.

I served this with flavored rice (tomato powder, vegetable flakes and spinach), broccoli with cheddar cheese, and a salad. It was heavenly. I told you I was hungry!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Garden Tuesday: Sunset

When Thor was coming in Sunday around 4:45, Ryan noticed that the tree trunks in our yard had a vivid hue. Intrigued, he wandered out with my camera to capture what he saw.

Looking east:

And looking west:

I think the boy has a pretty good eye!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Recap

Larry asked which people in this crowd belong to me. Here's the ID for everyone; click on the picture to biggify, after you've memorized the people.
Standing: Younger son of our friend Greg, my 3rd daughter, my 3rd son, (forward) the Colorado mom, my second daughter (brunette), my oldest daughter (blond, child #4), my second son, oldest son's girlfriend (also a redhead), oldest son behind visitor from China, Greg behind his daughter in law, Greg's oldest son, me and my dearly beloved.

On the floor: Ryan, my 5th son (and 8th child), the two little boys from Colorado, Thor (everyone really comes to visit Thor, let's be honest here), Mark, my youngest, and my 4th son, Jeff.

Don't worry, there won't be a pop quiz later.

Now, on to Mango's favorite topic, the food:

And everyone's favorite topic, dessert!

We have here the orange and green cake, lemon meringue pie, chocolate cream pie, pumpkin pie, crumb topped apple pie and blueberry angel torte. There were duplicates of some of these pies. However, the second apple pie didn't survive. Some dumb*** had it sitting on the stove to cool, when she turned on the wrong burner and the pie plate exploded. I won't say who the dumb*** was, but her initials are mine.
Look at my daughters! You can tell that dessert is their favorite thing, too!