Thursday, January 29, 2015

Garden Tuesday on Thursday

Well, Tuesday came and went without a hint of Garden Tuesday.  But you all doubtless have seen the headlines that declared we should expect end-of-days snow, followed by the ones that said, "Well, what happened?"

What happened, indeed.

We were supposed to go see our oldest son's new house over the weekend.  So, Friday night, this "dusting" of predicted snow started.

And when it was over, on Saturday, we had 6".

I didn't even bother to take pictures of the Great Blizzard That Wasn't.  We only got about 2-1/2", and it mattered little whether or not the plow guy showed up. (You know he did; you know he wanted the money!)

We're expecting another 1 to 2 inches tonight, which, as you can see, could mean anything.

Happy Snowy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cookbook Wednesday: Famous Foods?

Remember when there were recipes on the back of everything, and people would tear them off the cans, cartons, bags or whatnot?  And then they'd throw the recipes in a drawer, and before you knew it, there were 487 scraps of paper in that drawer, being tossed about and mixed up?

Yeah, I don't remember that.  My mother couldn't cook.  But it must have happened somewhere.  And this cookbook memorializes those days, and actually simplified the process!

Jeffrey found this cookbook for me at a used book sale a good 10 years ago.  He picked it up, noted that it was a good deal for 50 cents, even though it was falling apart.  And then he told me that if I didn't like it, he'd keep it in his room until he had a kitchen of his own.  Silly boy!  As if I ever ignored a cookbook that came my way.

This former beauty was published in 1961 by Saran Wrap (it says so on the cover).  Recipes come from all different food and spice companies.  They're split into categories - appetizers, soups, poultry, bread, cookies, and so many more!  I just flipped it open to where the pages had broken out for you.

I've actually made these Batterway Yeast Rolls (and some other Batterway recipes from the previous page, too), and they are darn good.  I'm thinking they're on the menu for Superbowl Sunday.

There are a small number of pictures in this book, too.  This is another break in the binding, and this picture reminded me of Louise's post on Irish Coffee a few days ago.

So, there you have it - another oldie, but goodie!  And best of all, it saves me from having 487 scraps of paper falling out of that drawer all the time!

This is my contribution to Louise's last weekly Cookbook Wednesday, at least for the time being.  I plan to continue featuring cookbooks on Wednesday, although my collection is nowhere as extensive as many of yours.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

More Books on Thorsday!

My oldest son just bought a house near where he's teaching - he closed the week before Christmas.  So, a couple of days after Christmas, several of his brothers and sisters formed into a parade of sorts, and went to see the first house purchased by a brother.

While there, they went touring around the area, stopped at an antique store and purchased a couple of pieces for the new house, and brought me some presents.

Aren't they pretty?  These white ones are a complete set of the works of Mark Twain, published in 1917.  I have to find a permanent home for them, where they can be seen and admired.

The red ones are a mini set missing 2 volumes.  They've already found a home in a corner shelf.  They were published in 1914. I love books to read, but there's a lot to be said for pretty books, as well!

No actual book review this week.  I read The Aviators by Winston Groom, and while it started out very promising, it turned into sort of a history book, and I just skimmed the last 100 pages.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cookbook Wednesday: A Year of Pies

A couple of years ago, the Wall Street Journal reviewed two pie cookbooks.  I saw the article, mentioned it to my dearly beloved, and, smart man that he is, he said, "Well, you should order both of them right now!"  (Smart man on two levels: satisfy his wife's longing for shiny things, and let her learn to bake pies and feed him!  Genius, I tell you!)

This is the one I've used less.  It's entitled A Year of Pies, and that's appropriate.

As you can see from the table of contents, the pies are organized by the season in which the ingredients are locally grown.  That's a little irrelevant in this day and age, because produce is shipped from all over, but it's an interesting concept.

The author shows, in picture form, how to mix up a pie crust.  (Excuse me for being lazy, but I'll stick with using my food processor for this part.)

And she demonstrates how to make prettier pie crust.  I probably need to spend a lot more time studying these pictures, and practicing.

Many of her recipes have photos of the ingredients, artfully arranged,

while others show a completed pie.

Some are "guest entries", and those have no photos.

I'd say about 2/3 are dessert pies, and the remainder are savory or dinner pies.

So, there you have it: A Year of Pies.  I think I hear my menfolk calling, demanding that I make more pies.

This will be my entry for Cookbook Wednesday, hosted by the charming Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations!  Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Dan's Chili

While Dan was home for 2 weeks at Christmastime, he decided we should make chili.  I made chili often as a teenager, because my parents loved it (undoubtedly in no small part because it was cheap to make), but haven't made it in over 35 years because my dearly beloved has a great aversion to beans.  In any event, Dan and Ryan convinced him that he wanted to try chili, and so we made a big batch, using the recipe Dan has developed for himself.

(small batch)

2 pounds ground beef
2 large sweet onions
1 tsp salt
1 large sweet potato, diced
2 cans (28 ounces each) diced tomatoes
1/2 can water
2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

In a large stock pot, brown the ground beef with the onions and salt; add the sweet potato while the meat is still browning.  Drain the meat mixture and rinse with cold water to remove the fat, then return to the heat and add the tomatoes, water and spices.  Cook about 30 minutes, add the beans and cook another 10 minutes until the sweet potatoes are soft and the beans are heated through. 

Serve with shredded cheddar cheese on top, if desired, and bread.

We made a double batch, and Dan and Ryan had it for lunch the next couple of days.  They love it, and my dearly beloved and Mark grudgingly admitted that it was OK.  That's a win from bean haters, right?

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thorsday Book Review: The Kitchen Boy

Once again, this is a gem of a find at a used book sale.  I love historical fiction, and I don't know of anyone who doesn't have some interest in the story of Nicholas and Alexandra.

by Robert Alexander

Chicago, around 1990: An old man writes a letter to his beloved granddaughter, the only child of his only son, now dead.  His wife has recently died, and the old man wishes to tell his granddaughter the story of his life and that of her grandmother.

Russia, 1917: Leonka is a 14 year old kitchen boy, one of the few servants to Nicholas and Alexandra after the overthrow of their monarchy.  Working in the kitchen, one day he is given a note concealed within a milk bottle's cork, with direction to take it to the Czar.  The note, written in French, has been delivered by the nuns who supply fresh milk and eggs to the royal family, and has information about a plot by some loyal officers to aid the Romanovs in escaping; Leonka dutifully delivers it to the Czar's personal physician for transmittal to Nicholas.  The story only occurs during the 3 months or so when the Romanovs were in captivity before their execution, and meanders through Leonka's interactions with the family, with the nuns who were delivering the messages, and with the other staff in the house, as well as with the guards.  Other details, including Alexandra and the girls stitching their gems into their corsets and even Nicholas' cap, are woven throughout the story, making it feel very real.  At times, there is a break from the story, as the old man stops to collect his thoughts and reflect upon what he's trying to do.  Of course, we all know how this story ends.

Or do we?  There is a twist at the end, involving the body of one of the Duchesses falling off the truck taking them for burial.  But is that the truth?  We all know that one of the daughters' bodies was not buried with the rest of the family, which leads to the story of the Grand Duchess Anastasia suddenly appearing in Europe some years after the family was executed.  This was a very well written book, with a great deal of attention paid to actual historical detail, and enough story woven into it to make it a good page turner.  5/5

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cookbook Wednesday And a Celebration!

I have quite a few specialty cookbooks, but my favorites are always the general cookbooks.  You know the ones: with chapters on this and that, and a little of everything between two covers.  And this is one of the best known general cookbooks:

 Yes, I call it the "Red Plaid Cookbook".  I bought one for my eldest daughter a couple of years back when she wanted One Good, All Purpose Cookbook.  My grandmother also had one, but I have no clue what my idiot mother did with it.  I bought mine in 1990, after I'd been in this house about a year.

I like the fact that it's got conversions, equivalents, and substitutions, along with everyday tips, inside the covers.  You can tell from the wear on mine that it's been in and out of the bookshelf more than once or twice.

And the celebration part?  Well, it was my dearly beloved's birthday yesterday, so I made him a lemon sponge cake, (mostly) using the recipe shown above.  Mark and I "sang" to him (trust me, it's not something you want to hear; we are not a tuneful family), and he blew out his one candle. Yes, one candle.  When Mark asked if Dad was 27 or 28 (because the running joke is that Mom admits only to being over 21, and Dad is just a few years older), my dearly responded that he is 1, because this is his first birthday since his surgery.

So, Happy Cookbook Wednesday, and I wish we could share our cake with all of you!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Molasses Quick Bread

Ryan spotted his cookbooks sitting on the kitchen counter on Wednesday, and decided that I should make "his" bread recipe.  Of course, he remembered exactly the story in third grade which inspired this recipe, and told me all about it.  I was tickled pink that he remembers so well and fondly.


2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup molasses
1-2/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Stir together the dry ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients and mix until combined (tip: measure the oil in your measuring cup first, swirling it around to coat the inside, then measure the molasses, and it will all fall nicely into your mixing bowl).  Turn into a greased 9x5 loaf pan, and bake at 325F for one hour.  Let it cool 10 to 15 minutes before cutting, or it will fall apart.

Ryan enjoyed this every bit as much now as he did 10 years ago!  It's similar in texture and flavor to a Boston Brown Bread (which my grandmother used to bake in a one pound coffee can; I wonder what she'd use now that coffee cans are smaller and plastic?).

This will be my entry for Cook Your Books in January!

Happy Friday, everyone; enjoy your frigid weekend.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Thorsday Book Review: A 2014 Reading Recap

I read a lot in 2014.  Some of it was due to my dearly beloved's illness (I couldn't sleep 16 hours a day, after all), and some due to just "I want to read."  About half of these books were Kindle books, many were from the shelves on my house - used book sale finds, recent or long ago, and one was a gift from the ever delightful Pam at Sidewalk Shoes!  (OK, I won it in her drawing, but that counts as a gift).  Of course, there were a number of books I gave as gifts, and I "had" to read those, as well; we wouldn't want to give anyone a dud, would we?

So, in approximate order of reading, my 2014 reading list:

1. George Washington's Secret Six by Brian Kilmeade and Dan Yaeger 5/5
2. The Ming Storytekkers by Laura Rahme 3/5
3. Titanic Deception by John & Toni Rakestraw 3/5
4. Tolstoy Lied by Rachel Kaplish 3/5
5. The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton 2/5
6. The Financier by Theodore Dreiser 4/5
7. The Secessionist by John Frye 4/5
8. Murder on the Rocks by Karen MacInerny 4/5
9. The Barker's Dozen by Robert Warr 5/5
10. Scent of Gardenia by Dick C. Waters 3/5
11. 64 by Patrick Hurley 3/5
12. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 5/5
13. A Thistle in the Mist by Megan Denby 4/5
14. The Mystery Box by Eva Pohler 3/5
15. Play Him Again by Jeffrey M. Stone 5/5
16. An American Outlaw by John Stonehouse 4/5
17. The Vengeance by Patrick Hurley 4/5
18. Enemy in the Room by Parke4r Hudson 5/5
19. The Story of the Human Body by Daniel E. Leiberman 4/5
20. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton 3/5
21. Famous by Kate Langdon 4/5
22. Ceremony of the Innocent by Taylor Caldwell 2/5
23. A Field Guide to American Houses by Virginia Savage McAlester 5/5
24. Tangled Roots by Angela Henry 4/5
25. Cold Mountain by Charles Frasier 5/5
26. Dead End Job by Ingrid Reinke 4/5
27. Murder on the Mind by L. L. Bartlett 3/5
28. The Assassination by Patrick Hurley 3/5
29. ...And Ladies of the Club... by Helen Hooven Santmeyer 5/5
30. Tender Deceit by H. Y. Hanna 5/5
31. The Housewife by Patrick Hurley 3/5
32. The Redemption by Patrick Hurley 3/5
33. Tin City Tinder by David MacInnis Gill 4/5
34. A Dignified Exit by John Asher 5/5
35. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald 2/5
36. A Hardboiled Murder: An Aggie Underhill Mystery by Michelle Ann Hollister 4/5
37. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd 5/5
38. The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst 1/5
39. Shane by Jack Schaefer40. The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teichholz 5/5
40. Death Waltz in Vienna by Thomas Ochittree 3/5
41. The Company You Keep by Angela Henry 4/5
42. Little Girl Gone by Brett Battles 5/5
43. Apron Strings by Mary Morony 4/5
44. Jet - Ops Files by Russell Blake 3/5
45. Chasing the Sun by Natalia Sylvester 4/5
46. Noble Intentions by L. T. Ryan 4/5
47. Factory Man by Beth Macy 5/5
48. A Pedigree to Die For by Laurien Berenson 4/5
49. Tender Treachery by H. Y. Hanna 5/5
50. The Bridges of Madison County 5/5
51. The Yellow Room by Mary Roberts Rhinehart 5/5
52. Daughter of the Bamboo Forest by Sheng-Shih Lan 3/5
53. Jet by Russell Blake 4/5
54. Above the Bridge by Deborah Garner 4/5
55. Illuminated by Matt Bromleewe 3/5
56. The Mine by John A. Heldt 4/5
57. Playing Santa by H. Y. Hanna 5/5
58. Playing for Love by H. Y. Hanna 5/5
59. Playing to Win by H. Y. Hanna 5/5
60. Fallen Angel by Tracy Chevalier 3/5
61. Savannah Project by Chuck Barrett 3/5
62. Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell 4/5
63. The Penguin Who Knew Too Much by Donna Andrews 5/5
(Yes, books are everywhere in my house!)
So, there you have it: a year's worth of reading.   How was your year in reading?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Cookbook Wednesday: School Cookbooks

A couple of weeks ago, Chan wrote about a cookbook her aunt had, which was one made in school by someone.  That, plus Christmas, caused similar cookbooks to come to mind.

In first grade, Ryan's class made cookbooks for their mothers for Christmas.  Each child decorated the cookbook for his or her own mother.

 Of course, the mothers had to be involved in helping their own children make up their cookbook pages.  This little girl, one of a set of triplets, wrote her own page:

Ryan had me type his on my IBM Selectric.  I always did love the script type ball.

They did it again in third grade, this time with both third grades involved.

The children typed their own pages during computer class, and printed them on sheets decorated with what look to me like Tommie de Paola illustrations.

(I should know the name of the book from which these came.  I just can't remember it.)

I'm certain that many of the kids had help selecting their recipes from their mothers.  Ryan's was from his Calvert School lessons (in 3rd grade, we used Calvert along with him going to school; things were very easy back then).  I ought to make this bread for him this week, before he goes back to college, because he did enjoy it.

So, this is my entry for Cookbook Wednesday with Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations!  Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Garden Tuesday: Weekend Snow

On Saturday around 11AM, it started to snow.

Before it ended, around 3PM, we had 3" of snow.

And then it got warmer, on Sunday it rained just a little bit, and by noon Sunday we just had a yard full of mud again.

Of course, Monday (yesterday) the temperature dropped by 30 degrees, and we now have a yard full of frozen mud.  With below zero low temperatures expected for the next 3 days (and 15 degree highs), I know you'll excuse me for not showing you some lovely pictures of frozen mud.

Did you get hit by this arctic blast?

Happy Garden Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, January 5, 2015

The end of the Holidays

During Christmas week, we always celebrate my oldest daughter's birthday, since she was born 4 days after Christmas.  It's always fun to have another party, after all.

Here are all of the celebrants, smiling impatiently, waiting for Shannon to open her presents, so they can have cake,

and the birthday girl, preparing to blow out her candles.

No visit from Jeffrey would be complete without a bouquet of flowers - he brought me these on the 23rd, and they are still doing well today - nearly 2 full weeks later!

And Cass' new boyfriend brought me an orchid.  Shannon confided that she has never taken more than a week to kill an orchid, so I'm doing pretty well at 10 days now.  This doesn't mean I think I can grow orchids, merely that I can't kill them as fast as my green-thumbed daughter!

Since I didn't take any New Years' Eve or Day pictures, that's the end of our Christmas Vacation Celebrations!  I hope you all had exactly the type of year end holidays you enjoy most.  Happy New Year to all of you.