Saturday, April 22, 2017

Furry Alarm Clocks and Saturday Eats

My husband and I stayed up much later than normal as he's been traveling a lot the last six months and we had a lot to catch up on, just enjoying some wine and conversation into the wee hours, knowing we could sleep in.

Tell that to the furry alarm clock. Normally she doesn't bark in the morning, even if we sleep til 8 or 9 after a late night flight home.  But this morning promptly at seven the bark alarm went off.  My husband let her out then she came back in

"Did she have to go?", I asked.

"No," he said.  "She just wanted to lick the dew off the grass".
Abby Lab then having celebrated Earth Day, went back to sleep, ignoring the food he put out while we laid there wide awake.

"Might as well get up and make something nice for breakfast", I said.
What are you going to make Mom?

Popovers.  These are so worth buying a pan from Williams and Sanoma.  They can be made in a muffin pan but won't be as high and fluffy.  I've made them often enough I don't need a recipe but the recipe IS from my favorite vegetarian cookbook "The New Moosewood Cookbook".
 Preheat oven to 375F.

Spray popover pan with non-stick spray.

In one bowl mix:

4 small or 3 large room temperature eggs (let sit out a bit or run under a bit of warm water)
1 and 1/4 cup milk or almond milk
In another bowl mix:
1 and 1/4 cups flour (regular or King Arthurs gluten free adding 1/4 tsp xanthan gum if you do)
1/2 tsp salt.

Divide 3 Tablespoons of butter into six pieces.  Place 1 in each popover cup.  Place in oven to melt while you finish mixing (you will then remove the hot pan and place batter in it.

Mix wet and dry ingredients, whisking with a fork.  Do not over mix. The batter will be lumpy but you shouldn't see globs of raw flour in it.
Place in hot popover cups and bake 30 minutes. Make sure there is plenty of room ABOVE them for them to rise (don't ask me how I know).

 Do NOT peek, unless it smells like they are burning
Serve immediately (they will start to deflate pretty promptly).  They're crisp on the outside, soft and pillowy on the inside.  Serve with butter, jam, or honey
You never give me PUP-overs.  I'm calling the SPCA!
Put the phone down Abby, you can have a piece of the bacon.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Flowers for Dory

Today we remember our friend Dory.  We are so thankful for all the smiles and joy she gave us as she welcomed us to her backyard, joining us in fun and happy barks, making us feel like family.  We will miss you Dory. -



I built a tiny garden
 In a corner of my heart
I kept it just for lovely things 
And bade all else depart 
And ever was there music 
And flowers blossomed fair; 
And never was it perfect 
Until you entered there - 
-Beulah B. Malkin


Thursday, April 20, 2017

TDIF

The photo is the little "pocket Titanic" complete with iceberg and lifeboats and sits in my office.  It has silently made its way onto the table in meetings before.

All I can say after a very busy week. . .

Thank Dog tomorrow is Friday!
Could I have a treat while you pour that class of Chardonnay Mom?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Best Easter Ever - Holiday Pressies!

Mom has been super duper busy and has not had time to log onto the computer for me to post but I HAD to show you the super neat pressies my sweetie Frankie Furter sent for easter.
First, there were peeps for Mom and Dad to blow up in the Microwave, (Mom, who skipped school to go watch Star Wars in the theater in college is a fan of fun entertainment).The picture is the autograph she was asked to give for actor Peter Mayhew who plays Chewbacca in all the films - he is a fan of animal rescue and The Book of Barkley. (Mom's photo of him reading the book on set made her smile for about two months because she is SUCH a Star Wars geek.)

Look at the bottles below. Puppy Grigio. Cabernet Barkingnon.  BOL.  It's the coolest toy - it's a water bottle AND a squeaker inside so it is both crunchy and squeaky.   It is made by Greenbrier Kennel Club and can be found online at dollartree dot com!
 I got two of them - one red squeaky and one white (you know in case Mom gives me a salmon treat)
 Aww,  I "heart" you too Frankie.
Oh, Milk Bone soft and chewys!  And a Minties to gnaw on - I will have the freshest breath ever (until I can go eat more rabbit poop).
Thanks so much to the Price household and especially my Frankie for making it the best Easter ever!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Memories of My Brother

Three years ago on Good Friday, he said goodbye.

I had just been out to visit him.  My big brother had moved in with Dad some months ago.  The doctors told him he was in remission last fall, he said, for how long, we did not know. But he had no job to return to with Defense cuts and couldn't afford to keep his home.  It was a good move though, for Dad, relieving us of the expense of a full-time home health provider, as Dad couldn't live on his own, even as he still refused to live with the family that would welcome him.  Even today, as he's outlived two children and two wives, he said he would only leave his home when he ceases to breathe, and I arrange for the full-time nurse in-home so he can do so.

Back when my brother was with us, I visited as often as I could, using both vacation and sick time, there to provide for their care. There was always lots to do, meals to prepare and freeze, cleaning, flower beds and gutters and the stocking of supplies. We made no trips but for short drives, his planning such overnight outings with the whole family for when I was away, but it was OK, those dinners with just he and my brother and I. My brother and I could do things that needed to be done around the house, and he seemed to like just having the time with just the two of us, sharing the memories of that home when Mom was still there. Between us we got Dad's bills paid, the budget drawn up, taxes completed, even if we ended up doing it over the phone.

But had I been able to talk to him one last time, I wouldn't have asked where the insurance info is or what Dad did with the phone and cable bills or where the spare keys are.  I would have simply told him I loved him, and how much he meant to me, one more time.  But we never knew our last words would be just that. Our last words are often not said, our lives always coming up short for those measured statements which through all of our brief utterances were our lone and enduring hope. There is never enough time for those last words, of love, of faith, of fear, or regret.
The words not said hung in the air the days after he left us, without warning. They were days that seemed like a lifetime, and yet seemed like only moments, perhaps because I don't know if I every really slept in that time, or if, for a moment, time itself shifted, holding me down in the moment, as G-forces did long ago in a steep banked turn.  Time held still for me, but for my brother, it had overtaken him and moved ahead. All of his things, placed into Dad's house, now to be moved again, to charity, to our homes, to our hearts, medals and coins, and books and I probably don't want to know why he had a loaded flare gun hidden alongside his concealed carry piece. There were laughter and tears, there in so many pictures, of early days, and the freckled face of fatigue, memories of a strong, reliable man, the simple kind of man that was the cornerstone of great reputation, even if the world at large would not observe his passing with tears or trumpets.

There was such much to do, to organize, to communicate. So many people stopping at the house or church, to pay their respects.  There were church friends, My brother's best friend, who came to the service even though he lost his own mother the day prior, high school friends and Don and several of the guys from Electric Boat. Then, before I knew it, a service, a eulogy I remember writing, but could not utter, the minister reading it instead with his own message, there as the Easter Lilies on the alter leaned towards him, as if listening.  There were words, of Easter, of remembrance, works that will give us a sense of what meaning can be gained from pain and suffering, death and eternal life. Things some of us ignored for years, then, in moments self-awareness, truly hit home.
It hit home for me when I looked out the window of the little memorial structure where he would receive his military honors before internment and saw the uniforms outside, just prior to raising their guns to the skies.  I heard the guns before they were ever fired, not as sound, but as a tremor that passed over my body the way you will see a flag unfurl, before even the wind that moves it is felt.

We often go through life with our eyes half shut, brain functioning well at idle, senses dormant, getting through our days on autopilot.  For many, this sort of life is comforting, welcoming.  Then for some, not the incalculable majority, but many of us, there is a moment, a flash, when in a moment we truly know all that we've had, held there in the moment of its loss.

All that week long it had rained, never really ceasing, only diminishing to a gentle mist now and again.  Yet as we arrived at that place, where guns would be raised, and taps would be played, the clouds moved aside as if paying their own respects.  The rain stopped as we pulled into the gates, and when we gathered, the sun came out.  As the officers stood at salute, all was silent, no rain, no wind, only stillness, the sunlight on the pooled water, now sleeping,

The guns fired their salute, taps were played, and the Lord's Prayer was uttered.  Then one by one, hands were placed on a stone urn, one final goodbye that we could not bear to end, a moment of immobility that accentuated the utter isolation of this hilltop in which valor is laid to rest.
The moment I drew away, warm hand from cold stone, walking outside, the skies opened up again with heavy rain.  It was as if the heavens themselves wept, the rain enfolding us all the way home, mingling with our own tears. My hands clutched the three empty rounds that had been placed there, holding them so tight my nails dug into my flesh, not wanting to ever let them go.

Since that day, I have returned many times to that hill, to the comfort of his ground where the final stone is placed, to remember, the memorial being but the echo to his sound.

All around, I see the dead; in the small memorial at the spot where two trains once collided,  in a sign erected in the memory of a local killed in a long ago war. There's the little cross by the side of the road where another young soul left us. On the dresser, there is a paw print in plaster residing next to a box where a loving heart resides until I see him again. How important these undistinguished little memorials. Every death is a memory that ends here, yet continues on, life flowing on, sustained by love and faith.Such is the lesson

How thankful we are for these memorials, for the spirits smoke that stays with us after the candle has been blown out.  As I heard the taps I realized that they signified distance, heard there in that first echo. The dead were not sleeping, they were gone. When the final taps were played, I no longer heard the echo, but I will always remember it, for the memory helps us hold on. After a while, an echo is enough.

His was a death that arrived on Good Friday, and it was a life celebrated there and remembered here now, on Easter Sunday.  For that is what Easter was, and is,  to our family.  It's  remembrance. It's the remembrance of a death that brings us life. Of sacrifice, of knowing that we will not be forgotten. Of the hope that after darkness there is light, inky comfort in the unknown.
 - L.B. Johnson

Easter Sunday


As we remember the reason for this holiday.
He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Saturday Eats - Blueberry Cobbler




I love this time of year when we start seeing more fresh fruits and produce come into the store.  It's still early in the season for a lot of local items but there were some nice looking blueberries at the store. I made a batch of blueberry bacon cornbread for my husband to have on hand for his breakfast in the coming week, but I still had LOTS of blueberries.

Time to make blueberry cobbler.  The recipe came from a friend and was modified slightly for our tastes and it's a hit every time I make it.

My husband has been working on all his days off rebuilding our whole front porch support system (we had some rotten timbers underneath) and building by hand new steps with a safety rail that's easier for an older with arthritis or younger person to grip than the large hand railing and meets the Village building code. Still some sanding and painting to do next weekend (we're under a thunderstorm watch) but I think it turned out nice and he deserves a treat.



The cracked sugar top is made by pouring boiling water over the sugared batter layer without stirring and then popping it into the oven with the water still pooling on top. The result, a crisp, sugary top with moist, fragrant cake underneath. The berries need no extra sugar and have the perfect level of subtle tartness which balances the whole dish.
MMMMM. This makes another wonderful cobbler, with that cracked sugar crust and a very juicy base. It didn't even need ice cream.

It's very simple and was assembled in less than 15 minutes with just two bowls.
In a cereal bowl add 1 and  1/2 teaspoons Braggs apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) to 1/2 cup milk, stir and let sit to sour it (or use buttermilk)

In a 10 x 10 or 11 x 7 shallow casserole place 2 pints (roughly 4 generous cups) of fresh picked blueberries, sorted and washed (this makes for a very juicy cobbler).

In a medium sized bowl mix:

1 and  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
the soured milk mixture
5 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter
Whisk with a spoon until pretty smooth and pour and smooth over the fruit (it will be quite thick)

Sprinkle with a mixture of :

1/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch

Then  pour 1 cup boiling water over the top of the batter:

Do not stir!
Immediately and carefully place in a preheated  350 degree  F. oven and bake about 45 - 50 minutes (until golden and a toothpick stuck into the top layer comes out clean.)

When it's out of the oven, sprinkle on another tablespoon of sugar, if you wish.

It's good for a treat on a sunny afternoon or even heated up to have for breakfast with coffee.

You can just leave that with me Mom.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Tales From Rainbow Bridge - A Good Friday Post

Tonight - it's the Good Friday anniversary of my brother's sudden death. He was only in his mid-fifties and it is still something I can't quite get my head around.  I miss him terribly  We were adopted together (though not biologically related) and were "thick as thieves" as our elderly Dad would say. There are some wonderful and sad memories there, so it was a good day for a little package to show up from Amazon with a book I ordered.

So tonight, I'm curling up with some warmhearted and delightful stories of loss and hope from one of Blogville's own


It's a tender, gentle, and wonderful read, written by a very big heart. You all would enjoy.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Wildlife Conservation - An Abby Lesson

Mom's having a snack - she read the name off of the box.
Animals Crackers.  They're for animals. . . right??

Sorry, Abby - Mom's just thinning the herd.   I'll get you a Blue Stix.

Hey Abby, at least I'm eating the plain gluten free ones.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Monday, April 10, 2017

There's a Prize in the Box - Growing Up in the Sixties

My brother and I were raised on the sugar sweetened joy of the 60's.   My favorite Western RanchHands were Twinkie the Kid and the Hostess Cupcake. We drank Koolaid (Soda Pop was an expense that was only the rarest of treats in my house), or better yet, cold water from the garden hose. We watched TV when we could, but mostly we ran, we jumped, we covered miles of ground on our bikes. TV was a treat, not a weekend-long marathon and the backyard was our empire, one of constant motion. None of us had an ounce of spare flesh on us, we were lean and healthy from all the outdoor playtime.

And our cereal came with prizes in the box.

When did the cereal prizes disappear? I'm sure, as most children did, I drove my Mom crazy begging for one type of cereal over another, depending on what toy was inside. The toy would be buried deep down, and we'd have to eat about half the box to get to it. Of course there were those times Mom left us alone briefly while Dad watched football, and with the help of a large mixing bowl, the toy was liberated soon after purchase, the bowl then cleaned (here boy!) and put back in the cupboard. But that didn't happen often so normally the prize would plop down into our bowl about half way through the box. What a treat that was!

Most of the toys plastic figures were slightly larger than Monopoly counters – animals, trains, cars. Sometimes there were decoder rings, badges and other trinkets promoting TV adventure shows. Sometimes the prize was a cut out on the back of the box that could be made into a toy, there were even cut out photograph records on the back.

One of the cereal toys I've never forgotten was a plastic submarine. On its bottom was a tiny container into which you placed baking powder.  The sub would then dive underwater and resurface on its own, again and again. I loved that toy and spent a lot of time with it in the bathroom sink and in the bathtub.

Big Bro spent his years after school on a real submarine, so perhaps all that play with those things had some effect.
The non sweetened cereal usually didn't have a prize, but it would have a coupon where you could collect box tops and send away for a prize. The sugar laden cereals usually had the prize right there. The prize might sway our decision but our favorites remained unchanged. Were they healthy? Not particularly. You'd have to add an orange grove and an entire pig to be a "complete breakfast", but that's not why we ate them.

Sugar Pops - My personal favorite. The original cereal was just Sugar Pops. Then they added the word corn, then they dropped the word sugar, then they dropped the corn thinking kids didn't want to eat a bowl of corn, now they're just Pops. That was one thing I liked about that generation. They weren't afraid to use the word sugar. They were PROUD of the word. Then they filled everything full of corn syrup which is worse for you and simply changed the names. Not only was the cereal great tasting (I still eat it before big presentations at Secret Squirrel headquarters), but the concept was cool. Blasting sugar onto the cereal with a gun? How cool was that? The earlier boxes that my  brother remembers even had special offers for a "Colt six shooter".

Sugar Crisp -The sugar bear started out as your average bear, then later got fashion sense (though no pants) and this laid back groovy persona. The Sugar Bear was the cool dude your retired military Dad NEVER wanted you to date (attitude and no pants, never a selling point with my Dad). He was so popular some kids went as Sugar Bear on Halloween. Or maybe that was a real bear in our garbage can that night.

In the 70's they came out with a Super Sugar Orange Crisp that had little sour orange bits in it. The sweet and sour was enough to keep you bouncing off of walls for days. It didn't last long, probably banned by the PTA.

Alpha-Bits - like Cocoa Puffs, as a kid I was on the fence about these. They were OK, , but as an adult I thought they tasted like hamster food. It was fun to try and spell words in your spoon though, except for that time I tried out a NEW word which I heard my Dad use when he dropped a tool on his foot, which my Mother did NOT find amusing.

Sugar Smacks - Start your day the Sugar Smacks way. Dig em the frog was OK, but not as cool as the bear. However even Spock could have figured out they were the exact same cereal as Sugar Crisp.

Frosted Flakes - one of the few breakfast cereal that hasn't changed, been improved or altered (I cringe when I think what they've done to Trix over the years). I used to eat it dry, in a little bowl with my fingers, watching Scooby Doo (those meddling kids!) because it it lasted about 10 seconds in milk before going limp.

Froot Loops - not sure where Toucan Sam got the English Accent in the 1970's but it was a house favorite. The only colors were a tropical fruit sort of red color, yellow and orange. What more do you need. I got sample box in the mail recently to which several new colors were added (is that blue?) PLUS fiber.

What's next? "Honeycomb. Improved, now with Ginkgo Biloba?"

There are a lot of things that aren't good for us. Letting your kids eat junk food in adult portions all day long is good for no one. But what about a little bowl of sweet, the occasional cookie with the hug and fun with our imaginations and the help of a "beam up badge"? Did it really do us any harm?
So I'm going to start my day  some weekend soon with a big bowl of Quisp cereal.


You remember Quisp?

The voice of Quisp on the commercials was Daws Butler, the voice of Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Snagglepuss and Huckleberry Hound. It tastes like Captain Crunch but doesn't remove the roof of your mouth when you eat it. The slogan I remember as a kid in 1970. . . "it gives you Quazy energy".  It's hard to find but it's still out there.

Look, I try and eat healthy most of the time. But I refuse to grow up, and I'm going to enjoy my sugar laden dreams via a bowl of cereal from the 60's.

And then I'm going to give Abby an extra treat.

For growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.