Sunday, September 26, 2010

Basket Weaving...Not for Sissies

To those who have more 'craftiness' in their little fingers than I have in my entire body....more power to you...I'm jealous.  You know who you are.  Halloween comes and you've got the whole place decked out like something from the  Haunted Mansion at Disneyland or Christmas rolls around and there just aren't enough hours in the day for you to finish decorating those sugar cookies with royal icing...and you like it!!!  Me, I just try to survive it...

Yesterday I took a basket weaving class with my friend, thought it could be fun, isn't this what they stereotypically prescribed for calming the folks who had a 'touch of nerves' not all that long ago?  Well, I had a 'touch of nerves' when I was done, and I give tremendous credit to those of you who are actual basketeers. 

From start...
To finish...
And everything in between...

...I was a basket case (pun intended).
I felt out of control the entire time, constantly looking to the instructor or my friend for guidance.  I don't like that helpless feeling.  I'm not the damsel type.  Though seriously, I could see where, if you had a clue, on a nice warm day, with a pitcher of homemade lemonade nearby....it could be a sweet way to wile away a lazy afternoon.

I'm not sure I'll pursue basket weaving any further.  I'm really more of a needle worker and this just seemed to make my brain hurt.  I wish I could get the knack though...they would make lovely gifts for Christmas.  Or...maybe something in which to place a jar of homemade jam and scone mix with a cute little get well card!  Hey!!!  Maybe I do have a little creativity...buried deep...very deep...

Anyone interested in giving basket weaving a whirl....here are a couple sites run by a gal in the know...
http://www.basketmasterweavings.blogspot.com/
http://www.youtube.com/user/basketmasternancy

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Easy Fruit Cobbler

Here is another recipe that I inherited with the husband.  It too comes from his grandmother and is just too good not to share.  A bonus....it goes together in minutes with no taste sufferage!  The only problem with the recipe is it's one of those...a pinch here and a dab there kind.  No rules, just eye ball it, my dear!

Grandma B.'s Fruit Cobbler

Sugar
Cinnamon
Fruit of your choice, sliced (I used fresh peaches)
about 4-6 T. Bisquick Baking Mix (I know it's kinda cheating... but that's what Grandma used!)
1/3 c. Sugar (adjust to your liking)
Milk
1/8-1/4 c. Canola Oil (or any light oil, I've even used light olive oil!)
Pam Spray (to grease the bowl)

I had 3 peaches sitting on the counter that I knew weren't going to get used in time, so...I decided to make Grandma's cobbler.  They would make just enough for a single night's dessert.

First thing you do is slice the fruit, peel as necessary.  You can use anything you have.  Frozen is fine, too.

Next, you'll want to sugar and cinnamon the fruit.  This is a matter of taste.  My husband likes his cobbler very sweet, so I put a lot of sugar in ours.  After mixing, place in a greased oven safe casserole or bowl.

Now for the batter...when Grandma says 4-6T. Bisquick....she's not pulling your leg....she means 4-6 of those great big spoons our moms used to use for serving! ...Pile it high...
You'll have to guess a little based on how much fruit you have.  But you can't really go wrong.
Add the 1/3 c. sugar to the Bisquick.

Add milk to make a medium batter (like a pancake batter)...

Stir in the oil and it'll look more like this....

Now pour the batter over the fruit...


 Looks yummy, doesn't it?  Now bake 1/2 hour at 400*, then turn the oven down to 350* and bake 1/2 hour more (a total of one hour).  That's it!  And you get this....


My husband likes his fruit cobbler served with half and half, I'll eat it plain!  It's so good.  The beauty is you can't really mess this up too much.  If you have a lot of fruit, then make a little more batter to go with it, no prob.  It's all "eye-balled" anyway and I've never had it turn out bad.

**Note: Try any fruit you have in the orchard or freezer, Blackberries are my favorites!  
             Heck, I've even used rinsed canned peaches! 

Hope you enjoyed another peek into my family's cookbook.  I'll be posting a lot more family recipes this winter!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Barbie Was Right...

On a wild hare I decided to take a beginning Algebra class at our local community college.  Everyone assured me that it would be no problem, that it's like riding a bike and comes back to you.  HA!
I just finished the second week of class and have decided that, while my family and friends have a deep and abiding affection for me....they lied.

 (view off one of the sky bridges heading into the outer perimeter of the college....get that "math teminology"?)
(view off the other side of sky bridge...downtown Dayton)

For the record, the last time I had a math class was freshman year of high school.
I was a music and drama geek, where math wasn't a requirement in any perceived future. Therefore, as soon as the requirements for graduation were met...math and I were no longer speaking.  My parents didn't have any beefs with that.  Fine.  They believed that girls didn't really need math anyway.  Girls should have occupations like beautician or secretary or married mothers.  Get the picture?  WWII old fashioned values in play.  No problem, but it didn't serve the generation I was growing up in.  There were bigger things out there for women.
So I went on my merry way, oblivious to the true future in store for me.

Now here I sit, not singing on a stage and knowing no math.  Struggling to remember 2(4)=8.
My husband, thank goodness, is a math whiz and without his tutelage I would be lost.
I just want to pass this class.  I'm not shooting for the lowest common denominator here, but college moves faster than my old dying brain cells can handle.  If somehow I get through this...maybe I'll think about going on and eventually getting an HTML certification.  It interests me.  Though it'll be a long while.

I guess the moral of the story is...
Girls, Barbie was right...math is hard.  Don't listen to the blowhards out there that say it isn't.  The truth is, it's hard for nearly everyone.  It takes long hours of work and practice.  You are learning another language, after all, don't let it scare you.  It's just another season of your life, one of study and you can do it!
Don't be like me, do it while you're young, your future will be so-o-o rewarding and bright.

So, if I seem a little sporadic in my postings, I hope you'll forgive and understand.  The fish I am frying are monsters and require more of my attention. ><> +  ><> + ><> + ><> + ><> + ><> =  6 ><>

Update-January 16, 2010:   Just a post script...
I passed the class! Not only did I pass, I got the highest "A" in the class! Woo-hoo! I guess my friends didn't lie to me after all. Thanks to my genius husband for filling in all the gaps while listening to my junior high-like crying. Love you, babe.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Best City Festival of the Summer

We like city festivals.  They are free, fun and give you something to do for an entire afternoon...if you count driving time.  After having been to many this summer, I can honestly say we ended the festival season (at least for us) with a bang.

My husband likes to print out a "menu" of which city is holding what type of festival each weekend.  His list includes, type of festival, costs, directions (with mileage), and what we're likely to see as far as booths and activities.
To be perfectly honest, we've been more than a little disappointed in the quality.  Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of effort evident, but they have been ALL the same.  Same carnival, same food vendors, same music, and rarely did they have anything displayed that remotely had anything to do with their festival name!  Disappointing.
Until-l-l-l we came to the quaint little town of Lithopolis, OH yesterday.  You could have knocked us over with a bee hive!  A festival that lived up to it's name....Lithopolis Honeyfest, Glory bee!!!  We were beside ourselves with joy and honey. Pooh would have been envious.

They had a wonderful vendor area.  I'm not talking crocheted potholders and cheesy Buckeye jewelry...there were honest to goodness honey products!  Unbelievable.  What wasn't honey, was nice quality homemade goods, such as copper lawn/wind chime-y products, a 'started-it-in-my-kitchen"-type spice company, a stained glass hobbyist, etc...


There must have been at least a half a dozen vendors selling honey, complete with taste testing and we indulged, after which my honey chose to buy a 32 oz. squeeze jar of summer honey from Honeyrun Farm

The festival had a Honey Cook Off and sale...

Actual bee hives scattered around...


Bee Keeping lectures...

Wine and Mead tasting...
Heads up on the wine tasting tent...you're paying $2 a ticket, and a ticket gets you one 2 oz. sample.  If you like something, buy it while you're there, it'll be gone when you go back later.  Happened to us, so no Honey Mead in our cupboards....(insert sad face smileycon here).

It was a wonderfully fun afternoon, although I was a little down in the mouth that I didn't get to see the bee bearded man.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
I do wish to make one honorable mention here.  While the International Sunflower Festival was pretty much like all the others, they at least made an effort to throw in some Sunflowers, even if they did get all wilted the first day...I'm just sayin'...
Effort noted Frankfort Ohio.
 *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Final thoughts & a slight detour to grumpy town:
Cities and towns...if your gonna hold a festival, please, PLEASE don't string us along thinking that you're going to actually have some of what you're boldly advertising present.  It's not nice to make us drive (sometimes) hours to your town and find that we've been had.  If you have a Radish Festival (just an example), then by gum, I want to see radishes everywhere! and in your food and vendor booths OR don't call your town/festival...Radish Capitol of the Midwest!!...please.

Pooh and I will now go find our hunny jar and do some bonding...
Oh, and good job Lithopolis!

 As my Uncle likes to say...
'Nuff Sed.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Martha Stewart's Surprise Cookies

I have no story to tell today, just another good cookie recipe.

I had recently checked out Martha Stewart's "Cookies", published 2008, from my local library and found an abundance of wonderful treats within it's pages.  To my delight, I later found that most of the recipes I was ogling/drooling over were published on her website.  Happily, I printed out and tested her Surprise Cookies, the first of many, I'm afraid.

Since you can find the recipe online (see the link), I'll not post it here.  What follows is the walk through and notes.
Martha Stewart's Surprise Cookies


Ingredients are pretty much what you'd expect.  Flour, cocoa powder, sugar, eggs, milk, etc...  
Do you see marshmallows?  Just wait, that is where the magic happens!

You're gonna do all the usual stuff, whisking, creaming, adding, setting aside...

...until you get a lovely cookie dough that looks like this....

Using a cookie or ice cream scoop, lay them out in neat rows on your cookie sheet.  Bake at 375* and remove from oven....  (It took enormous self control to not gobble all these down....)


Add the halved marshmallows, as directed, and bake again for a couple of minutes.  They'll get a little toasty on top.  S'all good.

 Now comes the frosting....(Can you stand it???  My mouth is watering just typing this!)

All that's left is frosting and enjoying!


Notes:
1.  There is hardly anything bad to say here.  They are extremely rich, so if you're palate has "matured",  these may not be for you.   My college-aged girls loved them though....(their palates haven't "matured" yet...).
2.  You have to work FAST when frosting the little stinkers.  The frosting will start to 'harden' after a very short time. 
3.  If you read the comments associated with this recipe at MS's website, you'll find a lot of imagination.  Some folks thought of substituting peanut butter cups, peppermint patties, and the like,  for the marshmallow.   I think they are geniuses!  What is your idea?

This was a great recipe, very much like Mallomars, and I will be adding it to my Christmas cookie list.  It was a little time consuming, but well worth the effort.  A special thank you to the fabulous cooks at MS.  

On a personal note...
Martha Stewart and company....my hips hate you...(in a good way).