Monday, August 29, 2011

The most adorable puppy ever

Grew up into the best companion ever.
He helped us with our schoolwork.
He joined in our games, as any good family member would
He always made us laugh.
He took care of even the smallest family members.
And always made sure our food was safe.
Ho holiday was complete without Thor.
And he always enjoyed a nice piece of cake.
Everyone loved him more than I can express.
And now he's gone. He took ill Thursday, was hospitalized Friday night, and died about 10 minutes ago of multiple organ failure.

It's the first time he's ever made us cry.

Rest in peace, beloved Thor. May 5, 2001-August 29, 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

Before the Storm

It's sunny and 75 out there. If the hurricane's coming (and they claim we'll get "at least" 3 to 6 inches of rain, up from 1 inch predicted yesterday), it'll be in and out in a hurry.

Thor's preparation for the hurricane, out on the porch, waiting:
Food preparation: Deviled eggs, sandwich rolls, soup, tuna salad. I guess this means my daughter will stay here an extra day or 2; easier to tolerate power outages here in the boonies than in downtown Philadelphia, right? Note to self: Better buy bottled water and lamp oil. Sure-fire protection against power outages.


1-2/3 cups warm water
3 tsp or 6 tsp yeast
4 cups flour
6 tbsp powdered milk
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp vegetable oil

Put the water in your bread machine container or mixer bowl; add the remaining ingredients in the order given, and mix according to my bread tutorial directions. When the first kneading is done, or when the dough has been beaten about 10 minutes in the mixer, shut the machine off, take the dough out, and form into 16 balls, flatten them, and put on a baking sheet to rise. Bake at 375F for about 15 minutes, until the rolls reach the desired degree of brownness. Serve while warm.

I made these rolls for Sloppy Joes last Saturday night, and another batch is mixing up as I write. I'm thinking 3 batches will carry us through the weekend, power outage or not! (Did I show you all my new bread basket blanket yet? Isn't it pretty? Ryan says it's too girly, but I point out that a bread basket is girly.)

There might be some sewing this weekend, depending upon whether I can see or not - the treadle machine works without electricity, after all! While the East coast frets over the hurricane, I hope the rest of you have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lazy Thorsday

Well, it's raining here. So there's a lot of this going on.

And Thor's girl is up from Philadelphia to help her sister organize for back to college. So there's a fair amount of this going on.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Apples and Earthquake

My apple trees are bearing some fruit!

So the apples aren't picture perfect; that's because we don't like to spray. But I have about a dozen trees of different varieties. I know you can already start to smell the applesauce and apple pies and apple upside down cake, and are getting jealous. After all, I'm hungry just thinking about them!

And there was an earthquake centered not too far from my friend Chan shortly before 2PM. I thought Thor was kicking my chair at first, and my dearly beloved told me to stop shaking the table before the boys came racing in from the family room to ask what was happening. Happily, this wasn't a serious earthquake, just enough to make everyone in this house with 18" thick masonry walls laugh at each other for wondering what happened. My daughter in Philadelphia said everyone evacuated the high rises there and just stood around in the park looking at each other. This is normal in the western US, I know, but it's a novelty here on the east coast.

Happy Tuesday, everyone; hope your house isn't shaking tonight!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Peach Ice Cream

We're headed into the last 2 weeks of summer. It's been a lovely summer, but gone by entirely too fast for my tastes. So, here's a little something I concocted to keep the flavors of summer around a little bit longer. I couldn't find a recipe I liked, so I put together something I thought would fill the bill.


1-1/2 cups peach slices (fresh or frozen), grated
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp cornstarch

1/4 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 cups hot milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar

Melt 1/4 cup butter in a sauce pan. Add the peach slices, salt, cornstarch and brown sugar, and cook 5 to 10 minutes. Microwave the milk to heat it.

Beat the egg yolks for a minute. Add the 1/2 cup sugar, and beat until light. With the mixer at low speed, slowly beat in the hot milk. Combine with the peaches, and cook for another minute or 2. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla extract and 3/4 cup cream to the mixture. Chill for at least 3 hours, and up to 2 days, until very cold.

Beat the egg whites with cream of tartar, vanilla and 1/4 cup sugar until stiff. Set aside in the fridge until the custard base is cool. Beat the remaining cream with the remaining vanilla and sugar, and put that in the fridge as well.

When the custard base is cold, put the egg whites and cream into your ice cream maker, turn it on for a minute to combine, then add the custard and process according to your machine's directions. If you have no ice cream maker, use a whisk to stir the whipped cream and egg whites into the custard base, then put it into the freezer, stirring with the whisk every half hour or so, until the ice cream sets.
This was good, but the peach flavor still wasn't that strong. I notice this a lot with homemade ice cream, the flavor not being intense enough. I'm thinking of hunting down some peach extract and trying this again; does anyone have any ideas? I'm getting tired of the flavors never being quite strong enough. That's my gripe. But Ryan and my daughters quite loved this ice cream. So maybe it's not as bad as I think.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

FNSI Report

Well, I finished my dress on Friday night. I used my favorite spaghetti strapped princess seamed dress, which I created from a dress I bought in Myrtle Beach many years ago. Usually, I make this dress from knits, but this voile was light weight, floaty and perfect for a summer dress. It was also much easier to work than most light weight fabrics. I used a 18" zipper in the back, which is much longer than any dresses have, or any patterns require. I simply like to be easily able to step into my dresses.

I couldn't find a photo assistant, and the Kodak with the self-timer needed a good battery charging, so all of my pictures were taken with the Pentax in the dining room mirror. The dress is lighter in color than it appears here, but you could tell that. You know I have never had a tan in my life, other than in these pictures.

I wanted a jacket to go with the dress, so it will be wearable into fall, but 2 yards of fabric was nowhere near enough. Fortunately, in my giant heap of fabric I had a black lace bought as a remnant from Wally World at least 15 years ago. It only cost one dollar, and it's really rough, stiff and nasty. Then I found a yard of a sheer fabric left from some long forgotten project; it was originally 5 yards for $10 at Scranton Fabric, according to the tag still stuck to it. With just enough voile left for the collar, this is what I created:

And this is how it works with the dress.
I didn't finish the jacket until Saturday, but I'm still counting this as a Friday night project. Not bad for a Friday night's work.

Other things are working their way through the machines, but not much is finished yet. Actually, I need to sum up nearly a while summer's work, but that's a post for another day.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Thor's Good News

Thor's surgeon called this afternoon. The biopsies on his cysts came back, and they were all benign. We are all delighted!

Especially Thor. (snore)


On Debbie Cook's blog, I read a bout the Friday Night Sew In. She's mentioned this before: plan your project, link up here, settle the household, relax and sew something. Then post a picture on Saturday sometime.
I think I'll try this. I'm going to make a summer dress from the black & white Calvin Klein voile I just got from Fabric Mart (bottom of the right hand pile), and maybe a jacket to go with it - we're headed to cooler weather, after all. Then we'll see if I'm inspired for something else. The recipient of the yellow dress 2 weeks ago told me that if anything else just "falls out" of my sewing machine and lands in a box destined for Colorado, she'd be happy to have it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Happy Thorsday!

And it is a happy Thorsday indeed. Thor's stitches will not be taken out until next Tuesday, but he's back to behaving normally, and his fur's growing back in.

This is what Thor was doing during the thunderstorms earlier today.

He wandered outside with the boys earlier, but decided the lawn service needed a good barking, so he had to come back inside. We pay those guys too much to harass them!

So, in the world according to Thor, everything is good. And Thor thanks each and every one of you for your concern.
Too much appreciation. Time for another nap.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Thunder Cake

I might have posted this cake recipe about a million years ago. It came from a story in Calvert School's third grade reading program about a little girl who makes a cake with her grandma while a thunderstorm approaches. It's a pretty light cake, and everyone enjoys it. Of course, if you have a picky eater, you might not want to admit to the "secret" ingredient in this cake. I did modify the ingredients and procedures a little bit, but the cake is all the better for my meddling.


3 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 egg yolks

1/3 cup pureed tomato
2-1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup cold water

Beat the egg whites, 1/4 cup sugar and cream of tartar until stiff, and set aside.

Cream together the butter and shortening. Add the vanilla, sugar (1/4 cup at a time), egg yolks and tomato, in that order, and beat until fully incorporated. Note: It's not necessary to remove the seeds from the tomato. No one will notice them. Sift together the dry ingredients, and beat into the creamed mixture at low speed, along with the water. Beat for about 2 minutes, until fully combined, and add the egg whites, folding in completely. Pour into two greased and floured layer pans, and bake at 350F for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each layer comes out clean. Cool and frost with buttercream frosting.

You will notice that the cake has been cut in my picture. That's because one side of the stupid top layer cracked off and refused to stay together no matter what. Stupid layer cakes. They don't like me.

Edited to add: I used a fresh tomato that I pureed in my blender. You can use canned, if that's what you have. Pat, does that help?

And Thor wants to thank you all for your concern. He is doing wonderfully. Updates tomorrow, on Thorsday!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Garden Tuesday: Clouds

The clouds in my little corner of the world don't usually look picture pretty, like this.

Usually, they're more solid, like this.
And some days, the clouds are almost nonexistent, like this.
More thunderstorms are threatened for tonight. Should be fun. Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rainy Weekend

It was a rainy weekend here, probably 3" of rain on Sunday, but that's less than NYC got, so I'm not griping.

I tried to make a strawberry meringue tort, but it flopped. I spooned it into bowls, and will try it again soon. No need for pictures before it's right.

I created a new ice cream, but haven't tried it yet. You'll probably see pictures and recipe Wednesday.

I finished a lap quilt as a gift to someone. I really, truly hate quilting. Really. I made one in 1999, and swore I'd never make another. Given that track record, I'll probably be cursing another quilt around, oh, 2023. Maybe I'll be smarter by then.

I made an apron for my oldest son's girlfriend. I just thought I should send her a present so she knows we like her, instead of taking my son's word for it. She's very quiet. I loved these colors, and my dearly beloved said this was too pretty to be an apron. It's wrapped and moving out today.

I loved the colors of that apron so much that I made a new bread basket liner. Ryan whined that sewing is bad, but I'm betting he won't gripe when it's wrapped around bread or rolls, keeping them warm for him.
More cooking tonight; maybe even a great cake, since it's rainy and 66 degrees out! Nothing like warming up the kitchen for someone who refuses to wear sleeves in August!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Book Review!

This book title sounds like it ought to be a Harlequin romance or something similar, but it isn't.

by Eric Ambler
copyright 1940

This is another title from the set of mysteries I've been reading. My pictures of the books are pretty boring, but all of them so far have been good.

It's 1940, World War II is getting wound up, and Graham, a 40 year old munitions engineer working for a major supplier to the British government, arrives in Turkey via steamer after assignment in Northern Africa, on his way home. Met at the dock by his usual contact, Graham and his contact spend an evening out dining, followed by a visit to a night club. Upon arrival in his hotel room, Graham finds himself the target of gunshots by an unknown assailant, who esca
pes down the fire escape. Calling his contact, Graham finds himself under the protection of the Turkish secret service. It turns out there's a contract on his life, placed by Germany, to stop him from helping the Turks gear up properly for the war. Graham's travel plans home are scuttled, replaced by another, secret, itinerary.

This was a short book, but fast paced and entertaining. It was entirely believable, a big plus in my opinion. Despite having been first published 70 years ago, the book is still available in paperback. Also, right now, there is an entire set of these mystery books listed on Amazon! (Just an aside in case you want 10 good books instead of one).

Hope you're all having a good weekend.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Miscellany

There's been cooking, and sewing, but with the sudden trip to Florida last week, and Thor's recovery, my brain's a little fried. So you get a bit of Friday miscellany here.

I wanted a picture of the bridge on which I was not driving. It didn't work out so well.

Someone who needs to go for a few weeks of laser treatments wanted me to make her a small blanket to take with her. I didn't have fabric I loved for it. So I sent her a dress. Her husband loved it. Her neighbor wants one like it. I think it was a success.
I got an order of fabric. It was on sale; I couldn't resist. I'm kind of a dope.

Left pile: The pink and blue on the bottom of the pile (2 yards each) will be used for an apron for my son's girlfriend and a new bread basket "blanket" for me. Leftovers haven't been assigned yet. The peach on top of that (4 yards) are for the above referenced blanket. More on that later. The floral with the bits of gold are as yet undetermined, but isn't it pretty? 2 yards.

The white on the right is to make a summer cover for my best coat. The red might want to be a dress, and the purple and black rayon does want to be a dress (or maybe 2). The black and white is also destined to be a dress. Thank you, Fabric Mart, for a lovely sale.

Maybe a book review tomorrow; I read about 4 books last week.

And Thor's wandering around outside with the boys, and being warned vigorously not to run around and bark. Thankfully, around here, there's not much that needs to be barked at.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thor's Off Leash Activities

So, the vet ordered that Thor do no running or jumping, and participate in no unsupervised off leash activities.

Well, Thor decided he'd had enough of being supervised. So he went off to do his own thing. Unsupervised, because the boys got bored.

I guess the vet needn't worry about Thor's running and jumping.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Butterscotch Swirl Ice Cream

I'm a plain food kind of girl. Alway have been. But one thing I do love is butterscotch. So, after I made my new, wonderful French Vanilla ice cream, I thought I'd see about making Butterscotch Swirl, a close second on the favorites list. It turned out to be pretty easy: make butterscotch sauce and mix it into the ice cream. You've just got to love easy.


1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
dash of salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon juice

In a sauce pan, stir together the brown sugar, cream, corn syrup and salt; heat to a simmer, and cook until the sugar is melted. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter until it melts, and cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract and lemon juice. Makes about 2 cups, and can be used warm or cool.


1 recipe French Vanilla ice cream
1 recipe butterscotch sauce

Make the ice cream. When it's soft-set, drizzle the fully cooled butterscotch sauce over the ice cream and stir in. Note: this would work best with 3 hands, so you'll need a helper. Maybe it could be put in during the last minute that the ice cream processor is doing its thing, but I didn't try it. Freeze until the ice cream's firm.

Of course, you can drizzle still more butterscotch sauce over your ice cream for extra flavor!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Thor has been home about 4 hours. He's staggering like a drunk - it's a good thing my son stapled carpet to the ramp he made Thor last week, or the poor guy wouldn't be in the Suburban yet. He came in, leaned on everyone for a while (Mango's Momma knows the Mastiff Lean), and then laid down.

Thor's snoring loudly, instead of his normal soft snoring. He's got fentanyl patches on his haunch, and they warned us not to let him run or jump, and to give him plenty of cage rest.

All of which leads to the questions: Does Thor need to be told to walk, not run? And what size cage do they think we have, zoo sized, maybe?

Anyway, happy day! Thor survived the anesthesia, and will be just fine. Thank you all for your well wishes.

Sunny and 75

This is what sunny and 75 outside looks like.

The sun was getting ready to set around 8PM last night when I took these pictures. Nothing makes one appreciate temperatures under 80 degrees as much as the heat and humidity of Florida in August, coupled with a hostess who insists on keeping the thermostat at 85 degrees.
But mostly, we should appreciate the natural beauty of our surroundings every day, weather notwithstanding.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Thor has had a lot of cysts breaking open lately - 3 in the last 6 weeks. Most worrisome, he had several under his tail, one of which was looking pretty bad.

So, today he went in for surgery to remove all of them. We just got the call from the vet that they're all removed, he came out of the anesthesia just fine, and can come home tomorrow. I don't know that Thor counted on camping away from home, but they love him at this veterinary clinic.

I just wanted you all to know that our boy had a little problem, but everything's on the mend now.

What I was Cooking.

Some of you commented on my cooking in a white dress. Well, that's pretty normal, although when I'm cooking messier foods, I wear an apron. Remember, I'm the girly-girl who hasn't worn pants since August of 1983.

So, what was I making on a hot summer afternoon while wearing a white dress?


1-1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup whipping cream
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2" vanilla bean
2 tbsp butter
2 egg whites

1 tbsp sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp sugar

Heat the milk and cream in a sauce pan until it just simmers. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks until well combined, then add the sugar, cornstarch and salt; beat until thick and very light yellow in color. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the black powder inside it into the egg yolks, and beat a minute more. Put the outside of the bean into the simmering milk. Pour a little of
the hot milk into the egg yolks with the mixer running at low speed, then return the pan to the stove, add all of the egg yolk mixture, and heat to a simmer; cook until it thickens somewhat. Stir in the butter, and chill for a few hours.

Beat the egg whites with 1 tbsp sugar until stiff peaks form. Whip the remaining cup of cream with the vanilla extract and 1 tbsp of sugar. Set both aside in the refrigerator until the custard is cooled.

When the custard is cooled, put the whipped cream and egg whites into the bowl of your ice cream maker, turn it on, pour in the custard base as it's running, and pr
ocess according to the manufacturer's directions. If you don't have an ice cream maker, use a whisk to stir the egg whites and whipping cream, in that order, into the custard base, then freeze for several hours, stirring about once an hour until it firms up.

The egg whites keep this a little softer than most homemade ice cream, and it has a lot of flavor. I assure you that this will be reappearing in my freezer soon!