Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Belated Happy Easter!

I know I'm really slow in writing about Easter.  I'm in the third week of a lovely case of bronchitis (thanks for the cold, boys!), but I do believe it's survivable, and I have managed not to infect my dearly beloved!

Most of the kids were home for Easter, and Shannon brought not only her boyfriend, but also his co-worker's dog, for whom they were babysitting for a couple of weeks.  Tippie was a nice houseguest.  He runs around too much for my taste, but he didn't waste a lot of time barking, didn't get up on the furniture, and didn't beg - although, like most dogs, he's a master of looking sorrowful.

I did make 3 dozen cholesterol free Hot Cross Buns for Easter, which my dearly beloved devoured.  Seriously, I think he ate at least half of them over the course of 2 days.

And he shared with Tippie, despite the fact that Shannon told him in no uncertain terms that Tippie is on a diet according to his owners.

But, hey, it was Easter, and Tippie deserved to celebrate.

I cooked a 15 pound boneless leg of lamb.  I think everyone enjoyed it, considering that there was only one 8 ounce slice left at the end of dinner.

I was suffering "digestive issues" that day, and so I cooked minimal food - lamb, rice and 4 pounds of asparagus. 
Dan carved the lamb, and one of my daughters helped with the side dishes; they both cleaned up after dinner for me.  I could only eat a tiny bit of rice, so I saved my lamb for the next day.  It was worth the wait.

So, that's my life the past couple of weeks!  I hope the world is being good to all of you!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Garden Tuesday: Early Spring

The grass has finally turned green, and things are starting to look like spring.

My daughter mulched the quarter circle where she planted bulbs a couple of weeks ago.  Come on, bulbs, pop up and give me some color!

The forsythia has started to bloom in the last couple of days.

Every little yellow flower is a welcome flash of color!

I'll bet everyone else has more color in their gardens than I do, but at least spring is finally on the way!  Happy Garden Tuesday, everyone!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy Easter!

That's me, in a dress made by my grandmother, with an Easter basket made by said grandmother.  I believe this was 1966, and I was in Kindergarten.

Happy Easter, everyone; I hope the Bunny's good to you.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thorsday Book Giveaway Results!

You all probably thought I forgot.  It just took me a little while.  I have to tell you a little story as an introduction to the results.

After the book sale on Saturday, I was wandering around my living room, when I recalled that I have any number of books on the lower shelf of a sofa table between two sofas in that room.  And I don't even really know what's on that shelf, other than the fat Shakespeare, but that's where I found one copy of Ceremony of the Innocent.

And then I noticed that the end book which is standing is really thick, and noticed the first word of the title.

I pulled it out and found.....

...which brought to mind Sue's comment:

"I'd love to read it. I've read other Taylor Caldwell books but not that one.

Have you read And Ladies Of The Club? It's a big thick book about strong women with lots of historical background."

So, since Sue pointed me to a book I already own, she gets Ceremony of the Innocent.

And, because I really don't even need two copies of the same book, I'm also sending one to Mango Momma, because her comment made me laugh:

"Hmmm... am I too late for the giveaway? Sounds like my kind of book."

So I'll be sending each of you a copy of Ceremony of the Innocent within the next couple of days.  I hope you both enjoy it!

Happy Thorsday, everyone.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Apple Filled Coffee Cake

One of the hardest things to deal with in my husband's new, heart-friendly diet is that there is sodium in everything.  The amount of salt in a single slice of bread is just unnerving, so I have to make bread or rolls daily just for him to have sandwiches for lunch or bread product to go with egg beaters.  And then there was the time when he was clamoring for something tasty.  Well, I came up with it.


2/3 cup very warm water
1 tbsp yeast
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup stevia (use all sugar if it doesn't concern you)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cinnamon
3 tbsp powdered milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 apples, diced or shredded in the food processor
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp stevia (or sugar if you prefer)
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp soft margarine

Make the filling first:  Shred the apples in the food processor or dice them, if you prefer.  I just leave the skins on; they are not noticeable.  Stir in the cinnamon, sugar, stevia and cornstarch, then add the water and stir.  Cook on high in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture bubbles for about 15 seconds.  Remove, stir in the margarine, and set aside.

Pour the 2/3 cup water into your mixing bowl or the workbowl for your bread machine.  Add the yeast, and the remaining ingredients in the order given.  Let it mix in your bread machine, or according to my directions (see link at the right), adding more flour if needed to form a smooth dough ball.  Let rise about 15 minutes, then punch down and roll out flat to about 12" wide by 15" long..  Remove to a greased baking tray, spoon the apple filling into the middle of the surface, and spread out to cover the middle of the dough from one end to the other.  Fold the two sides about 3" over toward the center, so they meet in the middle.  Brush the top with nonfat milk, and let rise until doubled in size, 30 to 45 minutes.  Bake at 350F in a convection oven or 375F conventional oven for 22 to 25 minutes, until it's nicely browned.  This can be served warm.

The boys enjoyed this, but my dearly beloved just adored it.  I've been making one of these every 2 to 3 days; that's how good it is.  Indeed, when I place my food order tomorrow, I'm going to need a case of yeast.  That's not something a regular household cook says often, is it?

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Library Book Sale!

The boys and I went out bright and early Saturday to attend the semi-annual used book sale at our favorite little library.

Do the boys look pleased that I made them stand out in the sunshine (only 45 degrees outside, but abundant sunshine was wonderful)?  Dan took up stuffing Mark into the hood of his jacket after I took this picture.  Well, a guy has to be amused somehow!

Upon arriving home, Dan immediately dove into unpacking the books....

while Ryan opened up the bag of baked goods in search of something delectable.

I didn't buy much - a couple of books for the relative in Denver, a cookbook for one of my daughters,

and these for me.  I still have plenty of other reading material, both in real book format and on the Kindle.  But there's another used book sale in 2 weeks, so I might load up then....even though I keep saying I'm not going to buy more books until I get through some of the thousands I already have!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend, too!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thorsday Book Review and Giveaway

My parents were highly irresponsible.  They moved at least once a year until I got to 8th grade.  At that point, I begged them to stay in that house until I finished high school, so I wouldn't spend my entire youth without any friends for more than a couple of months. I still have no idea why they complied.

Anyway, the summer before I started eighth grade, we moved; it was the ninth place I could remember living.  I didn't know a soul, and expected to know no one 3 months later, when school started.  So I found out where the library was, determined that it was less than 2 miles and I could walk there, and did so, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, all summer long.  I concluded that the best thing to do was simply read the entire library, alphabetically, but after a less than auspicious start, I began hunting for books approaching 1000 pages long.  That way, I could bring home one epic and one shorter novel, and have enough to carry me 2 or 3 days.  Thus, I discovered this author.

by Taylor Caldwell

This is the story of Ellen, a 13 year old orphan being raised by her aunt in a small town south of Scranton in the late 1890s.  Tall and red haired, she was considered ugly by everyone, including her aunt.  But Ellen was a kind, trusting soul who took no upset at the taunting of others, simply believing whatever they said.  That summer, her aunt told her to lie about her age, and got her a job as a kitchen assistant in the mayor's house for the summer, greatly augmenting the family income.  The mayor's son and nephew both became infatuated with Ellen, a minor scandal of a sort arose, and Ellen and her aunt were moved to another town to work for a distant relative of the nephew.  This book follows Ellen's life, through marriage, children, her aunt's manipulations, etc.

Not unusual for Taylor Caldwell's books, there is a lot of historical commentary; much of it is relevant today.  Consider this:

"Well," said Walter, in a somewhat hopeless tone, "so long as we have local governments in the jealous states, we'll have decentralized government, and so a measure of our freedom.  But God help us if Washington ever becomes big and overpowering, with a swarm of harassing and arrogant bureaucrats who would rule by fiat and not by law..."

Sound familiar?

Or this:

"He (Woodrow Wilson) approved the Underwood Tariff, which reduced duties on foreign importations. This cheap competition with American industry threw tens of thousands of American workers out of jobs, and induced a depression, and widespread despair..."

It almost makes you wonder if history just repeats itself every century or so.

I love Taylor Caldwell's writing, but this book just made me sad.  Maybe I was just having a sad week when I read it; I don't know.  It was well done, and the historical aspects were thought provoking, but the story overall was sad.  So I don't quite know how to rate it.

Now, for the giveaway: in cleaning up the playroom, and reorganizing the books, I discovered that I had not one, not two, but three copies of this book.  If you want it, let me know, and I'll send it to someone.  Maybe only one person will want it, or maybe I'll have to draw a number, or maybe I'll just choose the best comment, but I'll send a copy to someone.  And you can tell me if it was a downer or I was just having a down week.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Kiwi Fruit Squares

Last week, Michelle, a genuine Kiwi herself, pointed out to me that the picture I posted was of "kiwi fruit".  Fair enough; I'm quite certain Michelle is not a small, oval shaped furry object!  Of course, she didn't tell me why kiwi fruit are sold in a case of 9 baker's dozens.  One of life's small mysteries, I guess.

One night, inspired by my kiwi fruit, I decided to make dessert with them.  This is the result.


1-1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine, at room temperature

3 Kiwi Fruit, peeled and chopped
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup egg beaters (or 2 eggs)
1/2 tsp baking powder

Stir together the flour and powdered sugar.  Cut in the margarine until it all has a coarse texture, and press into the bottom of a greased 8x8 or 7x9 baking pan.  Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes, until it's lightly browned.  Meanwhile, put the kiwi fruit, sugar, and egg beaters (or eggs) in your food processor or blender and puree until well combined.  When the crust is ready, add the baking powder and pour atop the crust.  Return to the oven, and bake for another 25 minutes, until the topping sets.  Dust with more powdered sugar, if desired.

The boys liked this well enough, but my dearly beloved was not a fan.  I had to make him lemon squares the next night.  Of course,this is a heart-friendly recipe.  If you're watching your sugar intake, reduce the cup of sugar that's pureed with the kiwi fruit to 1/2 cup, add 1/2 cup stevia, and proceed as directed.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Garden Tuesday: Brown

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter planted some bulbs in areas where she felt we needed help.

Not much is happening.

We have had peonies growing beside this wall for years, and she added more.

Nothing yet.

She felt that we should have color in this quarter circle (and she hates the tree).

Nothing yet.

Maybe if it warms up after the rain for the past 2 days, we'll get a glimmer of green next week!

Happy Garden Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hybrid Ham

That's right, hybrid ham!  Plug it in, runs on electricity or gas....oh, wait.  I got confused.

My boys told me that calling it a "Hybrid Ham" was dumb.  I told them that since it combines cooking techniques, it is a hybrid.  My kitchen, my rules, right?


1 Ham, semi-boneless
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cloves

Put the ham in a large pot, half cover it with water, and cook for 20 minutes per pound, turning every 30 minutes or so, until the ham is just about falling apart.  Remove the ham from the water and put it in a roasting pan.  Remove the rind and fat, if any, from the outside of the ham.  Stir together the brown sugar and cloves, and add 3 to 4 tbsp of the water in which the ham cooked, just enough to make the brown sugar mixture into a gooey paste.  Spread on the outside of the ham, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 325F, just long enough for the sugar to harden. If you want gravy, take 2 cups of the water in which the ham cooked, and boil it down by half while the ham is in the oven.  Stir together 1/4 cup cold water and 2 tbsp cornstarch, and whisk into the reduced ham cooking water, along with one teaspoon of Dijon or other mustard.

Ham is a surprisingly lean meat; the biggest problem with it is the salt content.  Boiling it for most of the cooking time leaches out most of the salt, and the rub for the outside gives it extra flavor.  It was falling apart tender, and everyone loved it.  There was barely enough of a 4 pound ham left for Dan and my dearly beloved to have lunch the next day, if that tells you anything!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Kiwi

Guess how many kiwi come in a case?


\Happy Wednesday, everyone!