Thursday, June 30, 2011

Happy Thorsday!

When I had my screaming headache, one of my sons brought a wingback chair from the family room into the breakfast room for me, and parked it next to the air conditioning vent, right under the ceiling fan. My friend spent 3 days right next to me.
He was recuperating, too. Notice that his left arm is shaved a bit. A cyst on his back broke open and got infected, so we took him to have it cleaned out. They used a mild sedative on him. After a week of antibiotics and steroids, he's in fine shape. They shaved a very large area on his back, and in deference to Thor's image, I won't be taking pictures of it. Suffice to say that he's been romping outside with the boys, who are anxiously keeping him out of the sun so he won't suffer sunburn!

Happy Thorsday, everyone! Thor's hoping you're all as healthy as he is!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Banana Cream Pie

Every year, Louise hosts a Picnic Game. Sadly, it's not a real picnic, since her participants hail from all over the world, but everyone who plays posts a recipe for something they enjoy on a picnic, in alphabetic order. This year, I drew the letter B.


I'm going on a picnic, and I'm bringing...

A - Apricot Cobbler from Mae

B - Banana Cream Pie!

I just adore cream pies, and banana cream pie is my favorite. Of course, that's doubtless because I really love bananas. When I order them (by the case, of course), I'll eat alm
ost nothing but bananas for the 4 or 5 days they last. Yep, about 8 bananas a day. And I lose weight doing so. (That, my friends, is a big bonus in my book.) So, here's my recipe (and a simple way out at the end).


1 9" Pie crust, baked (I used my Best Ever Crust)
2/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp salt
3 cups milk
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 tbsp butter
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 bananas, sliced
whipped cream

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk the milk in and turn the heat to medium (to speed the process, microwave the milk for 2 minutes before adding it to the pan). Cook until the mixture thickens. Pour a little of the hot mixture in with the egg yolks, then add the egg yolks to the pan and cook for one minute longer. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and vanilla extract. Slice the bananas into the pie crust, and pour the custard mixture over them. Chill for at least 3 hours. Top with whipped cream (1 cup cream, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tsp vanilla extract beaten until thick and luscious) and serve to your hungry hordes.

Of course, if it just happens to be nearly July and very hot, you can shortcut it this way: Use a graham cracker crust from the store. Slice the bananas into it. Whip up a box of vanilla instant pudding and pour it over the bananas. Top with whipped cream. Go ahead and take 2 minutes to make the real'll enjoy it ever so much more than store-bought. Let it set for about 30 minutes, and enjoy. Don't confess that you took the easy way out, and no one will know.

Hop over to Louise's blog to see all of the Picnic Game entries, including one for our special 4-legged companions - that's right, Diva Doggy Treats!

See you on Thorsday!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Garden Visitor!

Have you ever had a headache that stretched on for 3 long days? That was my weekend and Monday, the kind of headache that's made worse by moving and thus elevating blood pressure. So I subsisted on orange juice, advil and tylenol. This guy's visit all day Saturday made me happy.

His momma showed up periodically with worms and whatnot. He spent the whole day in the rhododendron right outside my kitchen window, not more than a foot from the glass.

He was too fast at gobbling up his worms for me to get a picture of him being fed. So I just took pictures of him turning around.
He flew off with his momma on Saturday at dusk. I hope he's doing well!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Terry Bison Ranch

After reading Sue's post yesterday about the buffalo who have taken up residence near her house, I realized I'd never posted any pictures from the Terry Bison Ranch at the south side of Cheyenne, Wyoming. It's a great place. It's been in existence since the 1890s, when it extended west almost to Laramie (about 40 miles), east almost to Nebraska (about 100 miles), north and south about 100 miles each. Today the western boundary is I-25 North/South, east about 30 miles, north about 5 miles, and south about 10 miles from where the pictures were taken. The up close and personal buffalo here are what they call the "Show Herd" of animals that are more docile than most. Truly, you should avoid buffalo; they are very irritable animals, and extraordinarily powerful. The ranch herds them with Suburbans instead of horses to minimize danger to the people and horses. The buffalo have been know to charge the 4WD vehicles and knock them over - one on one. They can only be kept penned by use of high tensile strength barbed wire; they will walk through any other kind of fence.

Since they were shedding their winter coats, they really looked quite disreputable.

Most of the show herd gathered around the train that took us into their field, looking for the pellets our driver threw out the door. This one was particularly friendly.

I'm hungry; feed me!
This one liked her head rubbed. My daughters were enchanted.
Here's how you tell the adult boys from the girls, apart from the obvious. The girls' horns curl back over their heads, like these two lovely ladies.
The guys' horns go straight up. There are fewer dudes in the Show Herd, because they're fiercer.
This is one of three trains that roll through the buffalo pastures for their tour. The owner of the bison ranch built the trains and their track himself. He purposely looped his track about 3oo feet into Colorado, so he could boast that he owns the largest privately held interstate train line in this country. That made me laugh.
They had other assorted animals near the train depot, but the funniest was this goat. I love his hairdo.
And this is the mansion on the Terry Bison Ranch. Originally built by Senator F. E. Warren of Wyoming, very close to the Colorado state line (like 1/10th of a mile), President Teddy Roosevelt was a guest. So they can truly brag that "Teddy Roosevelt slept here!"
Of course, they had a restaurant with great food; we had buffalo burgers, bison chili and Beast sandwiches (pulled buffalo). No pictures of food; we were too busy celebrating Shannon's graduation.

And thus ends my little tour of Wyoming. I hope you all enjoyed it. And now you know what gender your buffalo are, should you ever encounter them!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


It's Thorsday. But Thor thinks every day is Thorsday. And he wanted a hug from Jeff.
Then the Evil Midget told him to get his head off the table. Look at those big, sad eyes!

Yup. So sad. He had to take his head off the table anyway.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ultra Rich White Bread

So, let's stretch your imagination here for a minute, and give you a peek into my kitchen. Let's say you have 29 eggs left, and a delivery of 15 dozen coming tomorrow. What do you do? (Aside from ponder how on earth you got 29 eggs in the first place, what exactly you will do with another 180, and who makes deliveries anyway?) Well, hmmm. Daffodil cake will use 14 egg whites, but only 5 yolks. Broke 2 more yolks, so I can feel not guilty about tossing them. How about some ice cream? Still, we have 3 egg yolks here; what shall we do? I know; make a really rich bread, and plan on using it for French Toast the next morning.


1 cup warm milk
6 tsp yeast

4 cups flour
4 tsp gluten powder

2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp butter

Pour the warm milk in your bread machine bucket or mixing bowl; sprinkle the yeast over it. Add the remaining ingredients in the order given. Mix in your bread machine for one cycle, or following my bread tutorial instructions (link to the right), let the dough rise for 15 minute, punch it down, form into two loaves and put them in greased 8"x4" loaf pans. Let the loaves rise until approximately doubled in size, then bake at 350F for glass or dark pans (375F for light colored metal pans) for 22 to 25 minutes, until the bread is as brown as desired. Cool for a few minutes before slicing.

Yes, this is heart attack bread. But life's not much fun without some flavor, right?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Garden Tuesday: Summer Solstice!

Today is our Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. As you can see from these pictures, taken at noon, it's sunny outside, and a balmy 75 degrees.

We will have plenty of apples on the tree in the courtyard this year.

And the second species of dogwood is blooming. A few weeks ago I posted a picture of a pink dogwood next to a lilac; these white ones might be Korean dogwood, according to a book I have, and they bloom much later. I like having flowers for weeks at a time!
Happy Summer Solstice, everyone!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Strawberry Gelatine Dessert

It's been one of those months around here. My little guy finished Calvert School 6th grade right after Memorial Day, and got all 1's (that's straight A's in most schools), no minor accomplishment! It's the first time this year he hasn't gotten a 2 (B) or even one 3 (C) in the mix. Ryan finally finished school last Monday, and came out of his finals very pleased with himself. The report card will, of course, arrive in a couple of weeks. Father's Day was a joyous affair, as always, with gifts such as meatball subs and cookies being bestowed upon the adoring Dad. Obviously, he was a very happy man.

So, how about an easy dessert for a hot summer night?


1 pound frozen strawberries, partially thawed and sliced
1 box strawberry gelatine
1 cup boiling water
2 cups ice
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

Distribute the strawberries between 5 or 6 dessert dishes.

Pour the boiling water into a 4 cup measuring pitcher, stir in the gelatine mix, and stir until dissolved (I use a whisk). Add the ice, stir until it begins to melt and the gelatine partially sets, remove the remaining chunks, and distribute about 2/3 of the gelatine among the dessert dishes. Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla; remove half from the mixing bowl, pour the remainder of the gelatine in the bowl and beat into the whipped cream. Spoon over the desserts, and put them in the refrigertor for a few minutes to set. Top with plain whipped cream. (For those of you who hate to make whipped cream, use something store bought. I understand completely.)

It's easy, it's pretty, and it's cool. What more could anyone ask for?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Book Review - A First for me!

You all know I cook - a lot. You all know I sew - a lot. You probably don't know that I read a lot, too. My local paper, the Wall Street Journal every day. Time, Bloomberg Business, National Review, Smart Money, Forbes, The American Spectator, Smithsonian, National Geographic and other stuff I've forgotten all get at least a cursory glance, and usually much more, when they come in. And guess what? I read books, too. Nothing new, of course. Virtually all of my books come from used book sales at the library; as Karin said, there's nothing like giving an old book another chance. So I'm going to tell you about some of them periodically. You'll probably run from the room screaming in fear, because I'm no great reviewer, but you might hear about something you like!

The Doorbell Rang
by Rex Stout
pub. 1965

Below the title, on the title page, it said "A Nero Wolfe Mystery." That was enough for me. Who else remembers the series on TV from a few years ago? I enjoyed it, and I enjoyed this book.

The story opens with a rich widow showing up to hire Nero Wolfe to stop the FBI from following her and bugging her house. He decided to take the case because it was January, and his income had not yet reached the point where it was taxed at the 91% rate; she wrote him a check for $100,000. Nero's assistant, Archie, was dispatched to determine that the client was indeed under surveillance by the FBI, and then to determine why. The story is fast paced and easy to follow - no great plot turns such as are typical with Agatha Christie, for example. I read the entire book while my dearly beloved was having one cataract surgery performed, laughed at Nero's specially made chair for his 1/7th of a ton body, and gasped in awe at Fritz the cook's 289 cookbooks. During one distractionary caper, I learned a new word, when Nero Wolfe's "Ten for Aristology Club" had a meeting. Don't fret; I looked it up for you: Aristology is the science of dining. (Just because I have a minimum of one dictionary in every room contiguous to my kitchen, including the kitchen, doesn't mean I think everyone does).

This was a light, easy read, requiring not too much thinking. Try it!

(This was one of a set of mysteries that I bought for $4. I've read or plan to read some of the others, and I'll bore you with those reviews one of these days).

Happy Weekending, everyone!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Goodbye, Cinnamon

We lost Cinnamon the guinea pig last night. The boys were upset, of course, but recognized that he's at least 5 years old, which is pretty old for a small animal.

Some of you might remember the day we got him and his friend, Rusty. Cinnamon always was a gutsy little guy. Right after I snapped this picture, he nibbled on Thor's nose. Poor Thor just looked like someone hurt his feelings. He's always kindly to smaller creatures (virtually all of us).

And when the boys took Cinnamon and Rusty outside to graze, Thor sat right near them, to make sure no one disturbed his boys and their little critters.

Remember when Dan gave Cinnamon a carrot? Thor had hurt feelings and had to have a carrot, too. It made us all laugh. Cinnamon calmly kept munching.
RIP, wee Cinnamon. I hope you find lots of sweet, green grass across the Rainbow Bridge.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thor Attends a Birthday Party

Just because there were no pictures previously, don't think Thor wasn't at his sister's birthday party last weekend.
He's a very polite and attentive guest.
Thor is a well behaved guest. He didn't get marble cake; instead, he got Jerky Sticks!
Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wheaten Rolls

It was pretty chilly here Sunday, Monday and yesterday: we never reached 60 degrees. So to those of you sweltering in the South, this might seem weird, but baking was just what we needed this week. I decided to make a different kind of roll that could be used for lunch the next day. Even with only 5 of us at home, 16 of them only lasted one dinner and one lunch.


1-1/2 cups warm water
6 tsp yeast
3 cups white flour

1 cup whole wheat flour
4 tsp gluten powder
3 tbsp powdered milk
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Pour the water in your bread machine bucket or mixing bowl; spri
nkle the yeast over the water. Add the remaining ingredients in the order given, and let your bread machine run for about 10 minutes, or mix according to my bread tutorial (see link to the right). Let the dough rise for 15 minutes, punch down and knead on a floured counter, then divide the dough into 16 pieces. Form each into a ball, place on a greased baking sheet, and let them rise for about 20 minutes, while the oven preheats to 375F. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, or until they've reached your desired degree of brownness. Try to let them cool for a couple of minutes before serving.

These rolls are good with jam for breakfast. They make great sandwiches, too!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Garden Tuesday: Black Birch

I think this is a black birch. I love that so many trees flower, even those we don't think of as flowering trees. There are several of these in my yard; this one is right out front.

And I would be remiss if I didn't wish you all a Happy Flag Day. It's not that easy to decorate a round cake like an American Flag!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Another Birthday...

My middle daughter turned 22 on Friday. Suddenly, she thinks she's old. Hmpf. What does that say about the rest of us? Anyway, I told her that's exactly why my age has been "Over 21" for quite a while now.
What fun would a birthday party be without presents and cake?

And, of course, how could anyone hold a birthday party without a Nerf Machine Dart Gun to liven up the festivities? I'm blaming this one on Cass' boyfriend. He spotted the gun on the toy shelf, got Dan to demonstrate it for him, and they brought it to the festivities. (Actually, I like the guy; he's smart, quietly humorous, fits in with my nutty horde, and employed!)

Hope you all had a great weekend, too, and successfully avoided getting hit by too many Nerf darts.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thor Celebrating Green Bandana Day!

Many of you know the Portuguese Water Dogs. There are 8 of them, along with 2 other dogs: that is quite a household, isn't it? Anyway, every year, they celebrate Portuguese Water Dog Day on June 10, and invite their friends to wear bandanas of the "Color of the Year". Of course, Thor has to support his friends.

Now, Thor is just plain to big for a bandana; he'd need a blanket folded in a triangle. And it's just too flippin' hot for that. So, Thor's human thought long and hard about this. Eventually, I concluded that Thor is an English gentleman, and needed an ascot. Sadly, ascots don't seem to be available for a 33" neck, so I was on my own for this one. The need to be drool proof was another consideration; a standard silk ascot wasn't going to cut it.

So, Thor's Momma decided to make him a green chintz ascot, complete with the required pleats to make the wings hang properly.

Oh, Mark, do I have to wear this thing???

Oh, all right, I'll let you adjust it. You're a good boy.
See, I'm being good. I'll even wave to all of my friends.
Remember to visit the Porties tomorrow, and see the hundreds of dogs celebrating Green Bandana Day! You'll see me there!
Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Well, finally! The part of my trip you have all been eagerly awaiting (or at least Karin has): Vedauwoo. First, the pronunciation: "Vee-Duh-Voo". Easy, right? This is its own exit right off I-80; it's a wandering around, picnicking and rock climbing place. It's also public land, where you can just release your cattle to graze for the summer, and go collect them at the end of the season. So bear that in mind if you need a place to park your cows for a while.

This is the view from the parking lot. It's farther than it looks to those rocks just beyond the trees, and they're bigger than they look.

See? We're on the path now.
Still walking. Those are baby sage bushes there in with the snow. Remember, this was May 13. And there was plenty of snow around.
Finally, we get to the base of the rocks. The yellow is lichen of some sort, and that tree is growing out of a crack between the rocks.
Two of my climbers coming down after their first foray up the rocks.
There's another one. He was a very long way away; hooray for that zoom!
Out in a field, ready to go attack a different rock pile.
This is a more distant view of the first rock pile. You can actually walk up to behind the rock with the yellow, beside the 2 evergreens. I know, because my kids went up there to see a dog who was there waiting for his master. The master is the black speck near the top of the roundish rock in the middle of the picture. Right there: see the itty bitty black speck? I told you these rocks are bigger than they look.
There. See him now? Love that zoom. He had another dude at the bottom of the rock with his dog.
My 2 little guys, standing atop a rock, admiring the climber. NO, they are not going to take up rock climbing as long as I'm paying the bills.
Now, let's walk through the snow toward that other set of rocks.
This is how deep the snow is.

The wind always blows here. This tree is permanently bent in the direction of the wind: east
Look! They made it up the rock pile. Judicious use of the zoom again. Even when wearing ballerina flats, this dress loving girl does not climb rocks.
I thought the moon over the tree was pretty. It was about 5PM.

I know it's silly and juvenile, but the boys and I just had to have this picture. Note the sign on the outhouse. But I'd think that would be obvious!Hope you all enjoyed Vedauwoo! There are some more on my photo blog!