Wednesday, December 31, 2008
There's a bakery outlet in my town, where it's made. It's half price right now. Guess where I'm stopping my my way home from work. Happy New Year.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
We made a mad dash to Texas for the holiday. Happily, with Christmas day being on Thurs, my work gave us Wed and Friday off, extending the weekend just as much as possible. It was a magical ride from sub zero daytime temps to balmy upper 70's for several days. Even more magically, we returned to the great white north to discover a freak warm spell had swallowed up all the snow! Now, that's Christmas magic!
The whole holiday was wonderful for me, starting with a fun hide & seek hunt for my Secret Santa gift at work. Not only was it fun to play games, look what a treat the gift was! I love my new camera phone! And I adore my retro new mug in a cool, funky color I never thought I'd like! Thanks Santa!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Yesterday's toffee has become warm hearted gifts. These are going to friends at work tomorrow, and there is a secret message of love in this photo. I'm very pleased that my cutting skills have improved now that I have "middle aged" eyes and see better up close that I've ever seen in my life!
Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near.
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
And for you all, this song, Light is Returning .
Saturday, December 20, 2008
So once I could feel my hands and ears again, I decided to have some fun. Making candy is fun. Now, I wish I had some secret ingredient that made this toffee recipe unique, but alas, I do not. This may be just about the easiest candy in the world to make. Which is a good thing, because once you start sharing it with your friends, you're going to be making it over and over. One year, I think I ended up making 10 batches and had requests for more.
1 cup butter (no substitutes)
1 cup sugar
3 T. light corn syrup
1/2 to 3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 to 3/4 cup finely chopped (or ground) pecans or walnuts, optional
Before you get started, prepare a cookie sheet by either spaying with PAM or lining it with a parchment sheet. I like parchement, it makes life much easier when you're dealing with multiple batches. You'll also need to have a couple of hot pads or a towel under the cookie sheet, cause there's not much hotter than the molten sugar lava you're about to be dealing with!
After years of making candy in various pans, I've learned 2 things.
1. You always need a larger pan than you think you will.
2. Once you find the right pan for you, guard it with your life. Mine's a nice deep Revereware saucepot.
Lets's get started. Put the butter, sugar and corn syrup into a large sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly as the sugar dissolved and melts into the butter. Now for my electric stove and my beloved pan, that means the number 4 setting.
Keep heating until the mixture begins to boil. It will be a light lemony yellow color for quite a while, and then it will start to thicken and you'll see it gradually turn light tan. Starting to understand the lava reference?
Now it's the most critical part of this whole process. If the phone rings, don't answer it! I'm not kidding, this next part goes fast. Trust me on this. DO NOT WALK AWAY.
Continue stirring this boiling molten sugar until it reaches 305°. If you're going to make candy, you need a thermometer. There's no messing around here, no eyeballing and praying. Adjust heat as necessary to avoid scorching. And keep stirring!
Immediately sprinkle the top with chocolate chips. You don't need to completely cover the top, just evenly distribute the chips. Wait a few minutes for them to melt.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Fast forward 7 hours to when I had to brush off 4 inches of snow from my car before I could head home, and the romance is over. I changed gloves midway to keep my hands dry. I changed one more time when I was done to keep my hands warm on the way home. It doesn't seem silly any more to have about 6 pair of gloves in my car.
I confirmed something today too, about living in Nebraska. It's too wicked cold when even the cows have snow building up on their backs!
Monday, December 15, 2008
Frankly, I could have gone my whole adult life without knowing how it FEELS, but it is sort of pretty. Did you know that if you combine -9 with a pretty stong wind, it actually becomes just like -22° and schools even close? And that your steaming hot coffee in the very good thermal mug will become a tepid memory of coffee in less than 10 steps from your door to your car?
Me either. But it does. A friend at work told me today that it can also freeze your pillow to the window if you sleep too close to -9. That's just not right.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
That left me pondering what to do with the old phone. Or more correctly, the 4 old phones that have been living in a drawer for the last couple of years.
I found Cell Phones for Soldiers. They take your old phones and turn them into free calltime for deployed service people. Check out their site for other service relief projects too.
So, who needs old phones? They do. They even pay postage.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
In Sweden, Lucia Day is celebrated in a big way. St Lucia was a young Christian girl who was martyred, killed for her faith, in 304AD. The most common story told about St Lucia is that she would secretly bring food to the persecuted Christians in Rome, who lived in hiding in the catacombs under the city. She would wear candles on her head so she had both her hands free to carry things. Lucy means 'light' so this is a very appropriate name.
December 13th was also the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, in the old Julian calendar and a pagan festival of lights in Sweden was turned into St. Lucia's Day.
St. Lucia's Day is now celebrated by a girl dressing in a white dress with a red sash round her waist and a crown of candles on her head. The crown is made of Lingonberry branches which are evergreen and symbolise new life in winter. There are parades, feasts and other celebrations.
In families, the youngest daughter traditionally dresses as Lucia, and awakens the family bearing special saffron breakfast rolls. Our Lucia had a crown of battery operated candles; can you imagine putting real candles on top of a squirmy 5 year old! When I didn't work, I'd bake cinnamon rolls for her to wake Daddy with. And then there was a present for everyone.
Over the years Lucia Day evolved into cooking baking day. One year at a craft show I came across this Lucia doll. She makes her appearance one day a year, this year she's got a peppermint Oreo! Lol... no little Lucia's anymore. I like Lucia day because it blends so nicely our older Christian traditions with our more current worldly religious beliefs. We still give each other a gift on Lucia Day. Now it's holiday time! How does your family mark the beginning of your holiday season?
Friday, December 12, 2008
.ow that I live in a totally landlocked state, I realize just how much I miss the romance of the sea, even if it is just in the memories of wooden sailing ships.
Mystic Seaport is located in Mystic proper, always my favorite memory of living in the area. Each holiday season, the Seaport has a living history event, Lantern Light Tours, an evening walk through the historically correct, recreated village of Greenmanville. As you step back in time to a whaling village of 1876, visiting various merchants and families, you'll find yourself wishing for a simpler time and maybe, you'll even begin to find some meaning in the holiday season beyond the number of gifts under your tree.
Or maybe you'll really be thankful for the almost instant heat in your car and the warm homes we take for granted. And glad you weren't the homemaker, ropemaker, whaler or sailor in that long ago time when bone chilling cold and the smells of living weren't always as nice as gingerbread.
If you're in the New England area, try to go. It's really special. If you're far away as I am, hop on over to the web site, watch their video and rejoice in the internet.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
pachynsis - pă-kĭn'sĭs)n. A pathological thickening of a bodily organ, tissue, or structure.
The elephant has nothing to do with it, execept for the root of the work, which looks like it should come from pachyderm. I just think it's so joyful I wanted to share a smile.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Chicken Corn Soup with Rivels is a traditional, hearty Amish soup that warms you body and soul. I learned to make this soup at a church soup supper in Rosedale, MD. It's got quirky little Rivels, that I just adore. They're like random bits of noodle dumplings floating in your soup, but tons easier than making old fashioned noodle. This recipe perfectly divides in half, important to know if your family is only 2 people like mine. This is one chewy soup. Let's get cooking!
Shortcut Chicken Corn Soup
1 store bought rotisserie chicken,meat removed or about 2 cups of cooked chicken
1 pk (20-oz) frozen corn
3 qt chicken stock ( 2 boxes of good chicken broth/stock )
8 tablespoons butter
1 sm onion; peeled, chopped
4 ribs celery,sliced thinly
2 cans (17-oz) creamed corn
Ingredients for Rivels
2 Eggs; beaten
2 c Flour
1 pinch Salt
4 Hard boiled eggs; peeled & diced or sliced
1 tb Chopped parsley
Instructions for Chicken Corn Soup with Rivels
Now the fun part..... with your broth just simmering, grab up a handful of rivel dough. Roughly pinch off little bits, no larger than an inch, and drop them into the soup. I like them best when I've somewhat flattened the little rivel before I've dropped it in, so it's like a fat noodle chunk. They kind of look like clouds in your soup.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Function: adjective or noun
Brobdingnag, imaginary land of giants in Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
If you lived in the Southern Hemisphere, you got a treat last night - a celestial smiley! For those of us in the cold north, it's still a pretty spectacular sight. We've had clear skies, so I've been able to planet gaze. I wish my camera could capture this.
That's Venus and Jupiter keeping company with Luna. An event that won't happen again until 2052. I'll be 97...hope I get to see it then.
Monday, December 01, 2008
If I really need my whole desktop, I have to close the door to the room.
She hates that.
We've compromised. She mostly just leans on the very edge of the keyboard now, and only tried to eat the mouse cord when she thinks I'm not looking..or when she's successfully slid something off on the floor to distract me before she pounces on the mouse's tail.
She also thinks the ideal place to sleep is under the covers with just her nose peeking out. It's a cat thing.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I'm tired. I know all the things you're suppose to do and not do to promote healthy sleep. My bedroom is cool. I keep to a bedtime routine. I don't eat within 3 hours of going to bed, because I do have GERD and it's bad, bad,bad to violate that rule. I don't drink anything other than a few sips of water after 6:30 pm and no caffeine past noon. No alcohol. I also have RLS, medication takes care of that but I'm still not sleeping through the night. I don't have pain issues.
It's dark in my bedroom. My husband uses a CPAP machine and still occasionally snores, so I always sleep with ear plugs. That's not the issue. I don't break any of the sleep rules and yet, somewhere between 2:30 and 3, I wake up. The hamster wheel in my brain is going overtime and all I want to do is sleep.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Here's a couple of ideas, approved by our vet at work.
Turkey Supreme (for cats)
Makes 4 servings
1 turkey breast, cooked and chopped fine
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/4 cup spinach, diced
1/2 cups green beans, diced
3/4 cup cooked brown rice
No-salt chicken broth
Combine turkey, carrots, spinach and green beans. Add rice and enough chicken broth to bind ingredients. Cool until mixture is lukewarm and serve.
Lazy Turkey Loaf (for dogs)
Makes 6 servings2 pounds ground turkey
1/2 cup cooked vegetables
1 teaspoon garlic powder*
1/2 cup quick-cook barley
1 cup quick-cook oats
4 ounces canned no-fat gravy
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a mixing bowl combine turkey, vegetables,garlic powder, egg, barley and oats. Mix thoroughly. Spoon into a greased loaf pan
and pat down meat mixture until level. Spread gravy on top of loaf and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cool and cut into six even slices.
Store unused portions in refrigerator.
* Garlic powder in small amounts is not considered dangerous to dogs.
Maybe it's my past in retail management that makes me especially scornful of this Black Friday nonsense. Stores opening at 4 am, people acting like starved lunatics, media outlets hyping the mania. We should be ashamed of ourselves, for condoning and encouraging the retailers who incite and take advantage of the herd mentality.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I know there are people who don't care for cranberry sauce. Not me, I love the sweet tart cranberry taste. I prefer Cranberry Orange Relish, made with raw cranberries, over the cooked varities. I got my bag of berries out of the fridge this morning to make my relish to discover that Ocean Spray no longer puts that recipe on the bag. Thank goodness for the Internet. I've decided to share it here, so I'll never loose the recipe again!
So how about you - cooked or raw? C'mon, cook ( or actually don't cook ) along with me, it's super easy. You can do it.
Cranberry Orange Relish
You need 1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries. Pick through them, removing any that are mushy, wrinked or just creepy looking. Rinse them off. You'll also need an orange, sugar and cardamom, which we'll get to a little later.
Cut the orange, rind and all, into 8 segments. You don't have to be fanatical about it, but try to get them pretty evenly sized. And yes, I really mean the rind... I promise it will not kill you. Really. Place 4 orange segments and about half of the raw cranberries into a food processor. If you don't have a super spiffy food processor, you can do with with an old fashioned food grater, but if I were you and I wanted to make this, I'd go splurge on a food processor....even the tiny little ones will do this job. You'll just have to work in smaller batches. Alternatively, you might as well sit down with the old food box grater and watch the parade while you shred your fingertips.
Ready to move on? I thought so. Pluse the blade several time until you have a medium textured gind going on. Actually, grind it as fine as you like it. I just prefer this size. And yes, you will have bits of visible orange peel that you can actually eat. Be brave. It's wonderfully fresh.
When the first half is processed, repeat with the remaining orange sections and cranberries. Move all the goodies into a bowl. As you can see, I am quite partial to this gigantic measuring cup.
Now we've got to add some sweetness to all this tarty goodness. The standard recipe calls for 3/4 to 1 cup of sugar. I really only use 2/3 cup sugar, but I like it tart. I was toying around with the idea of a little maple syrup at this point, but decided against it. Lemme know if you try it.
It's at this point that I go a little crazy and deviate from the traditional method of cranberry relish prep. Not only do I like it slightly more tart than sweet, I love a hint of spice. It really heightens the cranberry orange taste for me. So, if you're a wild woman too, now's the time to add from 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of spice. I prefer cardamom but I think cinnamon or corriander would be nice too.
Now, just mix together, cover and refrigerate for several hours. If you plan better than I do and get this made the night before, not only do you get a gold star and the turkey leg, you'll get a mush more magical flavored cranberry orange relish. I didn't plan well this year, so we get the immature vintage. I still love it.
This recipe makes about 3 cups. It survives quite nicely for several meals. It's also an outstanding accompaniment for pork and chicken dishes. Plus, it's great mixed with cream cheese and spred on toast, or mixed into pound cake batter, pancakes... you get the picture.
1 12 oz bag fresh cranberries
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
In my job, there is some very specific vocabulary and I'm always learning new words. Joy! Often, when looking up a new technical word, I learn some new word that's totally not related but gets in my head anyway.
Starting today, I'm going to share my new words with you. Introducing New Word Wednesday!
Chick"a*bid`dy\, n. A chicken; a fowl; also, a trivial term of endearment for a child.syn. child, bud, chick, juvenile, kid, moppet
In short, a term of endearment for something that's just too darn cute for real words!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Ever notice how snoozing cats are almost as hypnotic as a small baby sleeping on your shoulder? This is Shadow. We rescued her from a warehouse where she'd be found. She was so timid that she spent almost all of the first 2 years we had her hiding under furniture. She didn't know what to make of other cats and the dogs we had at the time.
Moving to a different home opened her world. When everyone was unsettled, she was finally able to have a little courage and we could get to know her. One of our older cats decided to pick on her and when she almost died from a sneak attack, she became the "back of the house" cat. We had doors on our hallway and kitchen entrances, and we were able to block off the bedrooms. That wasn't the best solution, but it worked. I've since learned that in a group of cats it is not unusual for one to be the bully and one to be the pariah. Unfortunately, she's still quite timid and is physically a very small, almost kitten size cat.
The bully died before our next move. With that next move, Shadow really came into her own. Oh, there was another cat who decided to become the bully, but he wasn't as motivated as the first one. Bully 2 was a lot older. Plus, she was able to stick up for herself a bit more.
Now, she is completely at ease around the rest of the family and boy, does she have a lot to tell us. We've never had such a vocal cat as little Missy Shadow. Yak,yak,yak all day long...with the most annoyingly whining cat voice possible. She's now our constant companion, everywhere... like she's glued on! Oh, and sometimes, she's incredibly silly, sleeping with her tongue out.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Veteran's Day is a day of remembering and saying Thank You to the men and women who protect our freedom. It's thanks to them that we have the right, as Americans, to be wrong, stupid, make bad choices and then start all over again. It's thanks to them that when the worst hits us, we can stand and bear the burden.
I am from a military family. At times, in my youth, my military focused upbringing made me uncomfortable with the pull of my generation to an anti-military stance. When friends from school became casualties of war, it was difficult to reconcile the sorrow of loss with the dedication to duty. I understood both.
Recently a discussion on what is patriotism has really made me give thought to this issue again. I'm still not entirely sure just where my understanding of patriotism is, as a philosophical stand, but I do know that my deep regard and respect for those who serve is not lessened by the questions in my mind.
It is because of them, the young men and women who serve , that I am allowed to question. I am allowed to discuss the unpopular. To the patriots in my family, to the one's I'll never meet.. Thank you for our freedom.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Spirit photography was all the rage in the late 1860's. The Spritualist movement was a new and powerful force for people who were terrified and unsettled by their times. It wasn't just in America, where the national heartache following the Civil War over the unheard of loss of life, where Spritualism took root. It became a very real presence in England, where it remains an active religion today. Here in the US, American Spritualism is also a current religion, although much smaller in force and often considered a "fringe" religion by the mainstream.
The American Museum of Photography has a wonderful collection of spirit photography of the era, Do You Believe?, The preeminent spirit photographer of the day was William Mumler.
He understood how to combine the mysteries of technology with mysteries of the sprit, and his photographs are the result. The wonderful old home entertainment stereoscope even had it's fair share of 3D spirit photos.