Fly on the Wall – August

Fly on the Wall

Welcome to Fly on the Wall, where you get to buzz around and see what goes on in my home, and in those of 10 other bloggers. Little happenings that don’t warrant their own post, but may still be of interest. Things that may make you raise your little fly eyebrows! Come see, and then buzz along and visit the other blogs posted at the bottom.
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I bailed on Fly last month because my daughter and grandkids were here visiting. I figured they’d give me lots of good laughs for this month’s post, but I was so caught up in the visit I kept forgetting to write the good stuff down. I did manage to scribble a couple of notes, thank goodness! Here’s what I had:

Grandpa tried to “help” Sophie put makeup on. Said he’d get her ready for middle school. Sophie politely reminded him that she wasn’t going to clown college.

Taunee, looking at a pic of her mom on the wall: Mom, you were so pretty when you were little. You looked perfect. You looked just like me! (This child oozes confidence.)

Taunee had a prank planned for Uncle Dean Lord Voldemort, but couldn’t help dropping hints. When he started to question her, she told him it was a “surprise”. He told her she’d be surprised when the Turd Fairy left something under her pillow. I really wish I wasn’t such a visual person.

The girls: “Show us more skulls, Uncle Voldemort. Show us more skulls and bones.” Um, yeah. He has a weird collection. He did make Taunee happy by sending her home with a pair of shed deer antlers…I believe he’d had a bit to drink at the time, because he doesn’t usually part with any of his collection. My daughter’s new name for her brother is “Drunkle Dean Voldemort.”

Mr. Mack discovered “vroom vrooms” I love it! He’s been kind of a city boy, but Pa and me purt near took care of that!
mack on vroom vroom

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While they were here we had a really, really wild storm. It was brief, but intense. I may have shrieked when lighting and thunder hit at the exact same time and I was with the kids outside by the chicken coop. There was a lot of damage in the area, but we came out of it okay, except for the flour corn. It was just beginning to pollinate when the storm struck, so no cornmeal for us this year. It was very exciting for the kids, though.

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I dumped sand into a big tub, added a pile of loose change, and stirred. Instant fun. Here’s the best part: instead of fighting over the coins, I heard Taunee say to Sophie “there’s a quarter over there, by your hand”. How sweet was that? Better yet, Sophie’s response was “Here, you can have it”. Bravo, Mom and Dad – you’re raising those girls right!

Digging for gold.

Digging for gold.

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It was hot and smoky while the girls were here, due to all the wildfires in Washington State. Really hot.

C’mon, you know what you’re supposed to say.

“HOW HOT WAS IT?” you ask?

This hot.

This hot.

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russ breaks hammock dogs laughing edited

I’m pretty sure the dogs are laughing!

Our hammock had a tear in it (thanks to Otis, our yellow lab) and I thought I had repaired it pretty well before the kids got here. Oh, it was all fun and games…until Grandpa got in. Luckily, my daughter was right there with the camera when he fell through. On his bad back. Bwa ha ha ha ha. Snort. Can’t help it!
russ breaks hammock edited

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I’ve been curing my garlic on the back porch, and one batch was spread across a wicker basket for air circulation. Working at the sink I heard a weird rustling sound. Since this is snake territory, I was a little concerned and went out back to see. Someone had knocked the basket over because apparently it was the perfect spot to nest. I shooed her off, but an hour later she gave a repeat performance. She won. I love garlic chicken.chicken in the garlic

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So….fire, wind, flood, hail. Where are the locusts? Oh, wait – they’re in the garden…if you consider grasshoppers to be the same thing, that is. I opened the garden gates to let the chickens in so they could eat the hoppers, and they went straight for my buckwheat. That wasn’t the deal – so the gates are closed. I’ll pick and hand deliver the grasshoppers to the girls, I guess. They’re just so freakishly strong! It feels like something is exploding in my hand when I carry them. Eeeeuw.

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What was I thinking when I ordered 7 different types of green beans? Usually germination is hit-or-miss, so I planted extra in each row. I’ve picked over 60 pounds of beans. Some were given away, but most were trimmed, blanched, and frozen. Snapping or trimming takes time, so I did something unusual for me, and put in movies to watch while I worked. Not just any movies – musicals! Oklahoma, Hans Christian Anderson, My Fair Lady, Carousel. Terrible, wonderful musicals. The Man has spent a lot of time outside. We do, however, have bean security. And still they keep growing…

11 pounds. This is just 3 rows. I have 9.

11 pounds. This is just 3 rows. I have 9.

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Speaking of beans, The Man just turned 60 and here was his cake:

Happy birthday to youuuu.

Happy birthday to youuuu.

Just kidding. I made him a peach trifle.

Peach Trifle

Peach Trifle

Here’s the recipe, if you’re interested. You’ll need:

One angel food cake (if you’re feeling inspired, here’s my recipe:  Angelberry Cake)
Whipping cream – lots! About a quart
4-5 large peaches
One batch of “Peachy Creamy Pastry Cream” (below)

Peachy Creamy Pastry Cream
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Author:
Perfect for so many things! Layer it in a trifle, fill a cream puff, or eat it from a spoon :)
Ingredients
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup lukewarm water
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ¾ cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cups whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons peach schnapps
  • 2 cups whipped cream
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and sugar. Add the water and whisk well. Add the egg yolks and beat until combined.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and milk until it is bubbly and just beginning to boil. Add half of the hot mixture to the cornstarch mixture while whisking.
  3. Whisk the egg mixture back into the pan with the simmering cream and milk. Cook and whisk on medium-low heat until thick. Whisk like you mean it! You don't want it to scorch.
  4. Remove from heat and add the peach schnapps. (Stand back - the fumes will get you!)
  5. Allow the cream to cool completely, stirring occasionally. Lightly cover with waxed paper while it is cooling so it doesn't form a skin on top.
  6. Once the pastry cream is cool, fold whipped cream into it.
  7. Keep chilled until ready to use.

To assemble the trifle:

  • Reserve 3/4 cup heavy cream for making the Peachy Creamy Pastry Cream. Whip the rest of the quart (about 3 cups) until thick. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Keep chilled until ready to use.
  • Make pastry cream.
  • Cut the angel food cake into small cubes (or tear it, if you prefer).
  • Peel and cut peaches into bite-size pieces, dipping them in lemon water (or Sprite…a helpful hint from my friend Cydnee at Tampa Cake Girl) to keep them from browning. (Reserve a few slices for the top)
  • In a trifle dish, layer CAKE, PASTRY CREAM, PEACHES, WHIPPING CREAM. Repeat. If you have room, top with a layer of cake and then pipe whipping cream on the top. Decorate with peach slices, if desired.

fly1gifcroppedI was making cookies and the man tried to snag one. When I explained I needed them for a photo shoot first, he said:
“You’re not nice to me, and it’s almost my birthday.”
“But it’s not your birthday. I don’t have to be nice to you until your birthday”
“Yes you do, you have to start building up” Nicer and nicer and nicer until my birthday, and then taper off slowly.”
Hmmmm. I didn’t know there was an actual protocol for this. I tried. Kinda.

Here’s what The Man got for his birthday. He calls it his Cabela’s Club Member coffin. It kind of creeps me out, especially when he folds his hands on his chest. tent cotruss tent cot

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The Man hurt his back and was flat on the guest bed (which is firmer, lower) calling for cookies, medicine, etc. I had just put a load of wash into the dryer when he yelled loudly for me and I went running.
“That comes right in the window when it’s open” he said.
I was drawing a blank. “What’s coming in the window?”
“The dryer”
“The dryer” He was taking pain meds, but really?? “The dryer’s coming through the window?”
“Can’t you smell it? The wet. The fabric softener”
I wasn’t using fabric softener, so…it must have been “the wet.”
I closed the window.

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My gardening pants have been slowly giving away in the back. Today was the day. The Man said “I think we need to go find you a patch kit”. I felt around, and…..oh, crap. And I’d been bent over weeding with my butt to the road. Lovely. At least I wasn’t wearing my polka dotted undies. At least I was WEARING undies.

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I usually get a real kick out of the search engine phrases people use when they find my blog. But…Oh, MAN! This one was either hysterically funny or disgustingly gross, depending on your tolerance level. I have to admit I mostly laughed.

I noticed that I was getting a whole lot of views on an old Fly on the Wall post from a certain group of people. The tough thing is, it will be hard for me to explain it to you without using words that will bring more people with this…uh…inclination to my blog.

I know!!! When I get to one of those words I’ll bold it and spell it backwards, okay?

I posted an appetizer last year in my Fly on the Wall. It was for a baby shower, and featured refried bean filled puff pastry ypoop srepaid. Apparently this was very attractive to a group of people who like to get together and change each other’s srepaid, and they were kind of excited about serving my appetizers. I’m pretty open-minded and tolerant, but this is a little over the top for me. The views have been tapering off, which is a very good thing. Whatever you do, do NOT Google “repaid parties”.

On that cheery note, (and I realize that since you’re a fly, that might not have been too gross for you) please go visit these other wonderful blogs!

Baking In a Tornado
Just a Little Nutty
The Sadder But Wiser Girl
Spatulas on Parade
Stacy Sews and Schools
The Momisodes
Someone Else’s Genius
Menopausal Mother
Go Mama O
Follow Me Home

Pumpkin Pecan Raisin Cookies



pumpkin pecan raisin cookies watermark
I know it’s only August, and in a previous post I may have promised I wouldn’t bring out the pumpkin recipes until Fall.

I lied.

Our mornings already have a crisp feel to them, and the corn is almost ready to pick, so I hereby officially declare it…pumpkin everything season

I’ve made pumpkin cookies for years (they’re a big time favorite in my family) but made a few little changes to the recipe today and loved them even more, if that’s possible. The recipe for the icing is very generous, because – well – it “evaporates”. Or something. Let’s just say it disappears before your very eyes, and leave it at that, OK?

You know how I always give you photo after photo of preparation instructions? I’m taking a wild guess that you can beat ingredients together and scoop dough onto a cookie sheet without looking at pictures. If you’re new to this baking business and need help, check out some of my other cookies recipes…most of the steps are very similar.

In other words, I was in a hurry when I was making these, and forgot to take pictures. Sigh. I’ll be making them again in a couple of weeks for my guys to take hunting, but I don’t want you to have to wait that long!

Pumpkin Pecan Raisin Cookies
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Author:
Delightful, soft cookies that are soft and delicate, but rich and flavorful. Makes 3 dozen.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup toasted pecans, chopped (please toast them...it adds flavor!)
  • ICING:
  • 1½ cups brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1¼ - 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • Pecan halves for decorating, if desired
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy.
  3. Mix in the egg and pumpkin and beat well. It may look a little curdled - that's normal.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Beat until thoroughly combined.
  5. Stir in the raisins and toasted pecans.
  6. Using a cookie scoop (or a rounded tablespoon) scoop balls of dough about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake approximately 12 minutes. Cookies should be just showing a little brown around the bottom edges. Place baking sheet on cooling rack for a few minutes, and then transfer cookies to the rack to finish cooling.
  8. To make the icing:
  9. In a medium saucepan on medium heat, combine the brown sugar, milk, and butter. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  10. Stir in the vanilla and 1¼ cups powdered sugar. Whisk vigorously until smooth. Add additional powdered sugar if necessary. Icing should be just thick enough to spread on the top of each cookie without dripping down the sides.
  11. Put a generous dollop of icing on each cookie and top with a pecan if desired. Be careful - icing is very hot! If the icing thickens too much to work with, reheat gently on low heat, adding a little milk if needed.
  12. Store cookies in an airtight container.

 

Boiling the icing

Boiling the icing

Whisk in the powdered sugar

Whisk in the powdered sugar

So it begins. My pumpkins are taking their sweet time this year, and I’m guessing they might not be ripe before the first freeze. Luckily, I have no problem using solid-pack pumpkin. I freeze any unused portion, so nothing goes to waste. I guess I’d better stock up, because it’s going to be nothing but pumpkin recipes on Facebook and Pinterest for the next 4 months!

Works for me!
Lorinda
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Huckleberry Hurricane

What’s wild and wet and can knock your socks off? A Huckleberry Hurricane, of course.



Huckleberry hurricane

When the group of nutcase bloggers I post recipes with each month decided to skip the baked goods and bring on our best summer drinks, there was no doubt in my mind what I’d make.

I usually make huckleberry margaritas each year during berry picking season, sort of a reward for the hours of backbreaking work that went into foraging for this bounty. But I’ve got to tell you, white rum or vodka are lovely in this drink too! Margaritaa, daiquiria, or even (gasp) a booze-less version…all are wonderful. The important ingredient? Wild mountain huckleberries. You could use blueberries, but huckleberries have a much richer flavor. And I’m NOT talking about those nasty, sour, bright red huckleberries you find in the Pacific Northwest. These are found at high elevations and are dark purple and sweet; as precious as gold.huckleberries

I love to add a big blob (that’s a technical baking term) of huckleberry jam to the mixture in the blender, but it’s not necessary. Simple syrup sweetens the drink very well, and in a pinch – if you’re desperately eager for that drink and don’t want to make the simple syrup – you can get away with just using a couple of tablespoons of superfine sugar.

Huckleberry Hurricane
Print
Author:
Makes 2 drinks.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 cup huckleberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • juice from ½ fresh lemon
  • 1 tablespoon frozen limeade concentrate
  • ½ cup alcohol (tequila, white rum, or vodka)
Instructions
  1. In a small sauce pan, combine the sugar and water. Cook and whisk over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Cool completely. (If you are in a hurry, put ice water in a larger pan and set the small one in it to cool quickly.) You won't use all of the simple syrup, but my guess is you'll be making a second batch of drinks! If not, it will store in the refrigerator for several days.
  2. In a blender, combine ¼ cup of the cooled sugar mixture and the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. Taste. Add additional sugar if desired.
  3. Serve immediately.

 

Adapt this recipe to your own tastes, and beware of brain freeze!summer drink roundup

Here are links to the other fantastic summer drinks – I hope you’ll go check them all out!
Lorinda

Pineapple Kalejitos from Moore or Less Cooking Blog.
Cherry Chocolate Shake from Cooking From a Stay at Home Mom.
Melon Pucker Martini from Tampa Cake Girl.
Mommy’s Cherry Chocolate Milkshakes from Hun, What’s For Dinner?
Spiked Shortcake Italian Soda from Crumbs in my Mustachio.

Orange Chocolate Zucchini Bread



ORANGE CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BREAD 3 watermarkZucchini season is in full swing, and I’m almost afraid to step into my garden. I’ve learned to only plant a few hills of the green stuff, but man, those plants pump out the zucchini! I grate and freeze bags of it, stir fry it, make fritters, and bake with it. And yet, there was a basket full of zucchini on my counter today…just sitting there guilting me.

When life hands you zucchini, make zucchini bread!

I’m really excited about the flavor combination in this bread. Chocolate and orange makes me dream of Christmas, but I’m happy to scarf it down any time of year. Like right NOW.

I was throwing ingredients together really fast because we were having a wild storm here and I was afraid we’d lose power before the bread had time to bake, so I totally forgot to add nuts to the batter. The bread had been in the oven for five minutes when I remembered, so I tossed some chopped pecans on the top. This was not one of my better ideas, since the weight of the nuts made the top of the bread sink a bit. It isn’t picture-perfect, but I can attest to the fact that the texture and taste is amazing.

I know this because I tested it several times. For the blog.

One nice thing about this recipe is that you just use one bowl and don’t even have to mess with a mixer. A wooden spoon is all you’ll need to mix up this batter. It’s a slam-dunk recipe, which is kind of nice once in a while. You’ll want to print this one out; it’s a keeper!

Orange Chocolate Zucchini Bread
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Author:
Makes 1 loaf
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Zest and juice from one large orange
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Generously grease and flour a standard loaf pan
  3. Beat together the butter, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
  4. Mix in the orange zest and juice, buttermilk, and zucchini.
  5. Stir in the cocoa, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nuts just until combined. Don't over stir.
  6. Evenly spoon the batter into prepared pan.
  7. Bake 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the bread.
  8. Move pan to a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Release bread from pan and cool completely before slicing. (Ha ha ha...that's what everyone says. I've never managed to actually do this.)
  9. Enjoy!

 

Grating orange zest

Grating orange zest

Add the zucchini

Add the zucchini

Stir just until mixed. Don't over stir!

Stir just until mixed. Don’t over stir!

Spread evenly in the prepared pan

Spread evenly in the prepared pan

Cooling on the rack. Wait for it.....

Cooling on the rack. Wait for it…..



 
ORANGE CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BREAD CLOSE
So you know the drill. You can plant zucchini if you wish, but it’s easier to just leave your car door unlocked during zucchini season. Or put a sign on the bulletin board at work. Or come visit me!

Lorinda

Cloud Nine Berry Pie



CLOUD NINE BERRY PIE horiz2 watermarkedWe picked 8 pounds of raspberries yesterday from our garden, and there is no end in sight. This isn’t a complaint, of course…just an observation. The grandkids picked last week – even the baby! Daisy our black lab even learned to pick them. And yet they are getting ahead of me, and the bees are beginning to take more than their share.

Child labor.

Child labor.

So…a raspberry dessert was just what I needed to make for the blog. I played around with a meringue crust, and it was a huge hit here in my home. You could put the filling in a pre-baked pie crust too, of course, but we all loved the melty, crunchy, slightly-chewy-on-the-bottom crust.

The meringue piecrust can be made a day ahead if you’d like, stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Add the filling and give the pie an hour in the fridge to set up nicely before serving. The pie filling is very light and mousse-like, so cut generous portions! The meringue won’t be crispy after a night in the fridge, so you might as well eat it while it’s in its prime.

Baked meringue crusts. Don't worry about cracks - they just add to the charm.

Baked meringue crusts. Don’t worry about cracks – they just add to the charm.

I doubled the recipe and tried a couple of different pans. Here’s what I learned:

  • You must spray the pie pans with a non-stick spray! (Next time I might try greasing the pan and lining it with parchment.) Mine stuck a bit and was difficult to cut into neat pieces. But even if the meringue is a little crumbly, it’s delicious and you can just heap little pieces on each spoonful on its way to your mouth!
  • Don’t try to rush the crusts. They need to dry out slowly and completely in the oven.
  • Use clean utensils when making meringue, and be careful not to get any egg yolk in with the whites.

This recipe would work very well with other juicy berries too, like blackberries or huckleberries. A lemon curd layer on top would be heavenly – a little tartness to cut the sweet filling. But this has become my husband’s new favorite pie, so I won’t mess with a good thing!

Here are the ingredients you’ll need. (Remember, I made 2 pies…you won’t need as many eggs, berries, etc.)Cloud Nine Berry Pie ingredients

Cloud Nine Berry Pie
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Author:
Serves 8
Ingredients
  • MERINGUE:
  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • grated peel of one small lemon
  • a few drops of lemon extract (optional)
  • PIE FILLING:
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries (plus a few for decorating, if desired)
  • juice from one small lemon
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1½ cups plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, divided
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 250 F.
  2. In a small bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy. Sprinkle with cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.
  3. Add 1 cup of superfine sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well between each addition. When all sugar has been added, beat until stiff peaks form.
  4. Gently fold in the grated lemon peel and extract.
  5. Spray a deep-dish pie pan with non-stick spray. Spread (or pipe) the meringue evenly over entire inside surface.
  6. Bake for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave the pie crust in the oven until it cools (or at least 1 hour).
  7. While the crust is baking, begin cooking the berry portion of the filling: Place berries into a small saucepan with the lemon juice. Cover and cook on medium-low for about ½ hour, stirring occasionally.
  8. Place the cooked berries in a fine strainer over a small bowl and press the juice out, discarding the seeds and pulp. You should have about ½ cup of juice. If necessary, add a little water.
  9. Put the juice back in the small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  10. Combine ¼ cup sugar and cornstarch and whisk into boiling juice. Turn down to medium-low, cooking and stirring for 1 minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. If you are in a hurry, the pan can be set into a cold water bath to cool.
  11. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and 1½ cups powdered sugar together well, until creamy.
  12. Add half of the berry mixture (reserving the rest for drizzling over the dessert) and mix until combined.
  13. In a medium bowl, beat the whipping cream until thickened. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon powdered sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Fold into cream cheese mixture.
  14. Spoon the filling into cooled meringue crust. Chill for 1 hour. Decorate with whipped cream and raspberries and serve.
  15. Store in refrigerator. The meringue crust will soften during refrigeration, but the flavor will still be amazing.

 

Fold lemon zest in gently to avoid deflating those pretty stiff peaks.

Fold lemon zest in gently to avoid deflating those pretty stiff peaks.

 

Spread (or pipe) meringue in pan

Spread (or pipe) meringue in pan

Pour cooked berries into strainer and press out juice.

Pour cooked berries into strainer and press out juice.

Folding whipped cream into cream cheese/berry mixture

Folding whipped cream into cream cheese/berry mixture

Add filling and chill for 1 hour.

Add filling and chill for 1 hour.

CLOUD NINE BERRY PIE heart shape watermark

CLOUD NINE BERRY PIE vertical watermarked

Cool and sweet, light and creamy. How perfect is this for a summer treat? The meringue crust has given me so many ideas. One will involve pumpkin…but I’m not quite ready to go THERE yet. For now, I’m on a mission to use up some berries. If you come my way this summer, bring your bucket!

Lorinda

Huckleberry Bagels



HUCKLEBERRY BAGELS watermarkChewy on the outside and soft on the inside, studded with little wild mountain huckleberries – these bagels will not be found in the bakery section of your local grocery store! Nope…you’ll have to work for these babies.

If you live near mountains where huckleberries can be found, put on your hiking boots and grab your bear spray, because trust me…they are worth every back breaking, ankle twisting, bear encountering, mosquito biting moment. They truly are!
huckleberries
If you don’t have access to them, frozen huckleberries can be purchased on the Internet. They aren’t cheap, but they’re so flavorful that just a few berries can really make a flavor statement in a recipe. Of course you can substitute blueberries instead, and still have a wonderfully delicious batch of bagels.

Bagel dough is very VERY easy to make, and the rest of the procedure is a lot of fun. This is a bit of a shortcut version, since I’m always too eager to get warm bagels to opt for the “rise overnight” method. I also was a little reluctant to go with the lye bath; nor did I think my readers would want to try that. But either I’m not much of a connoisseur or I’ve never tasted an authentic New York bagel, because these tasted plenty good to me!

Huckleberry Bagels - The Rowdy Baker

To make bagels you take a simple yeast dough, let it rise, divide it into 8 pieces, (or 12 if you like sissy bagels) boil them, and bake them. Of course I had to complicate things a bit by adding huckleberries, especially since I didn’t have dried huckleberries which would have been a slam-dunk. I used frozen huckleberries and had to do some fancy footwork to keep them from turning the bagels purple. Here’s what I did:

Heat berries and strain them. Don't mash!! Be gentle.

Heat berries and strain them. Don’t mash!! Be gentle.

I put a cup of frozen huckleberries in a bowl and microwaved them for 1 minute. After stirring, I microwaved them for 1 more minute. This softened them so they would release some of their juices. The berries went into a strainer over a small bowl until they were cool. The juice was set aside for making huckleberry butter to top the bagels, and the berries (strainer and all) were set in the freezer while the bagels were being made. When I was ready to use them, I took them from the freezer, broke them apart, and dredged them in a tablespoon of flour. They weren’t mixed into the dough, they were added at the very last, right when the bagels were being formed. Worked like a charm!

Not that I wouldn’t have wolfed down purple bagels, of course.

Cream cheese is lovely to top bagels with. Butter is tasty too. But best of all is huckleberry butter. I made my own butter for this, but you are welcome to use regular butter. To make it, add enough water to the reserved berry juice to make 1/4 cup of liquid. Put it in a small pan with 3 tablespoons sugar and bring it to a boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Turn heat down to medium and continue to cook and stir for 1 minute. Chill. Beat 1/4 cup room temperature butter with 1 tablespoon powdered sugar. Add as much of the chilled berry syrup as you’d like. The color will get pretty vibrant if you add it all, but OH, the flavor! If it isn’t thick enough, add a little more powdered sugar. That’s it!

Cream separating. It's okay - this is what you want! BUTTER!

Cream separating. It’s okay – this is what you want! BUTTER!

Now…just for fun, you could do it my way. I admit, this was less because I’m a purist and more because I was out of butter, but I think I’d do it this way again; the butter is so sweet and good. To make homemade butter, simply put 1/2 cup of heavy cream in a small bowl and beat it on high with an electric mixer until it looks like it’s curdled and liquid appears in the bottom of the bowl. (I used a wimpy mixer and it still only took about 5 minutes.) Strain out the liquid (that’s buttermilk, folks!) and stir with a spoon, pressing and mashing gently. Again, pour out liquid. Cover the butter with cold water, mash a few more times with a spoon, strain out the water, and *voila!* you have butter. Add a pinch of salt, a tablespoon of powdered sugar, and berry syrup and mix until combined.

Oh, beautiful huckleberry butter...where have you been all my life?!

Oh, beautiful huckleberry butter…where have you been all my life?!

You’re WELCOME!

Before I give you the bagel recipe, I need to make a disclaimer. If you noticed that my finished bagels were a little dimpled, I have to admit I did something kind of brainless. I knew better, but it’s been a while since I’ve made bagels, and hey – it happens. I put the egg wash on the bagels before they rose, instead of after they came out of their bath. It probably kept the crust from forming, which made them look a little different, but they tasted great and were nice and chewy. Just not as crusty on the outside as usual. So if you like soft bagels, you might want to try my new “method”.

Huckleberry Bagels
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Author:
Makes 8 large or 12 small bagels
Ingredients
  • 1 cup frozen huckleberries
  • 1¼ cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3½ cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon flour to dredge berries in
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • finely ground cornmeal
  • 1 egg, and 2 teaspoons water for egg wash
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, heat berries in the microwave on high for 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Place in a strainer over a small bowl to drain. Don't mash them. When all of the juice has drained into bowl, place the berries in the freezer (it's easiest just to leave them in the strainer) and set the juice aside if you plan to make huckleberry butter. (See below)
  2. In a large bowl (a stand mixer is best) combine the water, white sugar, and yeast. Let it sit until foamy, about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Using your dough hook, add the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and 2 cups of the bread flour. Mix well.
  4. Add the remaining flour and knead by mixer for 7-8 minutes, or by hand for 8-10 minutes. Bagel dough should be very elastic and shouldn't break apart easily when you stretch it.
  5. Form dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow dough to rise until doubled, about an hour.
  6. Punch down dough and on a lightly floured surface, separate into 8 (or 12 for smaller bagels) equal pieces.
  7. Remove berries from the freezer and dredge them in 1 tablespoon flour, breaking them up as you work. Shake out the extra flour.
  8. Flatten one piece of dough at a time and sprinkle with berries. Bring the edges up toward the center and pinch to close.
  9. Turn the dough over so the pinched side is on the flat surface, and pull the ball of dough towards you, tucking sides under a little as you pull. This will create a very round, uniform ball of dough. Push your finger through the middle to create a hole, and then with both thumbs in the hole, twiddle your thumbs until a large hole is created. Try to keep the bagel as uniform as possible, but don't worry if a berry or two peek out of the middle. Bagels are rustic, not perfect.. Repeat until all bagels are formed, Leave them on the floured surface, covered with a towel, for 30 minutes.
  10. While the bagels are sitting, Preheat oven to 450 F. and lightly grease a baking sheet and sprinkle it with cornmeal.
  11. When the 30 minutes is almost up, fill a very large pot half full of water. Add 1 tablespoon baking soda and bring to a boil.
  12. Drop bagels into boiling water in batches, a few at a time, giving them enough room to move around without touching the other bagels. Let them boil for 90 seconds on each side, then gently remove one at a time with a slotted spatula, let it drip over the pan, and set it on the prepared baking sheet. They can go fairly close together since they won't rise while baking.
  13. Whisk the egg and water together and brush the top of each bagel.
  14. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a rich golden brown.
  15. Move to racks to cool.
  16. ***
  17. To make huckleberry butter, boil ¼ cup of huckleberry juice (add water if necessary) with 3 tablespoons of sugar, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking and stirring for 1 minute. Chill mixture. Beat ¼ cup soft butter with 1 tablespoon powdered sugar and add as much huckleberry syrup as desired. Beat until combined.

 

Dough is ready to rise

Dough is ready to rise

Dough, risen and ready to shape

Dough, risen and ready to shape

Pull edges of dough up over the berries

Pull edges of dough up over the berries

Give it a pinch or two and flip it over.

Give it a pinch or two and flip it over.

Scoot the dough, creating a round ball.

Scoot the dough, creating a round ball.

Poke a hole in the middle.

Poke a hole in the middle.

Use both thumbs and twiddle!

Use both thumbs and twiddle!

A steamy hot bath...

A steamy hot bath…

A little egg wash

A little egg wash

...and bake them to a glorious, shiny brown.

…and bake them to a glorious, shiny brown.

Huckleberry Bagels

Huckleberry Bagels

I love these toasted, with a thin scraping of butter. Oh, who am I kidding? I love these slathered in cream cheese, huckleberry butter, regular butter, or even plain. I’ll eat them stale!

I hope you’ll give them a try. Maybe I’ll see you in the woods!
Lorinda

Star Spangled Cookies

Each month a group of crazy food bloggers gets together to make theme-related recipes. This month we’re running with a rousing patriotic Red White and Blue theme! After you’ve read this post, click on the links at the bottom of the page to see what the other gals have come up with. There are still a few to come, so check back every morning for the latest creation.

Can you hear the John Philip Sousa march playing in the background? Smell the burgers on the barbecue? See the kids lined up at the fireworks stand? Independence Day is right around the corner, and do I have a fun recipe for you! Kids will love to help with this one. Presenting…Star Spangled Cookies!



Star Spangled cookies I used cinnamon Jolly Ranchers for the red cookies. You’ll find lots of hard red candies to choose from, and may prefer cherry or strawberry flavors. Your biggest challenge will be finding hard blue candy. I used Dum Dum suckers from the dollar store, but found that there was blue and then there was blue.

My first batch turned green when they baked. Apparently blueberry flavored suckers held their color, and blue raspberry didn’t. I recommend that you test one or two cookies first, just to be sure they’ll turn out a nice, patriotic blue. Red white and green just doesn’t have the same impact. Unless you’re Italian.

I have two more options for you. I tried baking the cookies until they were almost done and then pulled them from the oven and VERY carefully dropped the crushed candy in the centers, returning them to the oven just until the candy was melted. That worked quite well. The candy didn’t cook as long, so it didn’t get that amber tone to it. (Yellow + blue = green, as I found out.)

The other option is to make your own hard candy. It’s really very easy to do. Here’s a simple hard candy recipe from Lorann Oils. I would recommend making the candy, letting it harden, and crushing it. Pouring hot candy into the small star centers would be very tricky. If you have better hand-eye coordination than I do, you might be able to pull it off. I’d make a mess of that!

Whoops…did I say two options? I have one more, though it’s a little artsy-fartsy. I think it’s pretty, and you could mix colors this way too. Bake your cookies and as soon as they’re done, add the crushed candy. The heat from the cookie and the baking sheet will partially melt the candy. It won’t be smooth and flat, but as long as the candy is touching the sides of the cookie in a few spots, it will stay put. Kind of interesting, huh?

This is fun, too!

This is fun, too!

I used a strong freezer bag and a hammer to crush my candy. It worked like a charm and got some of that aggression out! Star Spangled Cookies horizThe cookie itself is a sturdy shortbread. If you have a favorite sugar cookie recipe that doesn’t spread too much, that would work well too. You’ll need two star cookies, one large and one smaller. Here’s my recipe and easy instructions.

Star Spangled Cookies
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Author:
Festive, summery shortbread cookies with a stained-glass candy window in the center. Makes about 36 cookies, depending on the size of your cutters.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • ⅔ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla (clear vanilla, if you have it)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ cup crushed blue hard candy
  • ½ cup crushed red hard candy
  • For decorating: ½ cup white chocolate chips, sprinkles, nonpareils.
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl (a stand mixer is best) beat the butter and powdered sugar together until creamy.
  2. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well.
  3. Add the flour and cornstarch. Mixture will be stiff - switch to a dough hook or stir by hand if necessary. Cover and chill for one hour.
  4. Heat oven to 350 F.
  5. Roll dough out to ¼-inch thickness on lightly floured surface. Using a large star cookie cutter, cut out stars and place them on parchment-lined cookie sheets.
  6. With small cookie cutter, cut a star out of the middle of each.
  7. Carefully put enough crushed candy in the center of each cookie to cover the parchment, but don't overfill or it will bubble up the sides. Use a toothpick to distribute the candy evenly. Make sure there are no little bits of crushed candy on the cookie dough. (Use the toothpick to flick them down where they belong!)
  8. Bake for about 10 minutes. Place baking sheets on cooling racks and let the cookies cool completely.
  9. Drizzle the cookie with white chocolate or royal icing if desired, and sprinkle with sugar decorations.

 

Here's what you'll need (plus fun decorations)

Here’s what you’ll need (plus fun decorations)

Distribute the crushed candy.

Distribute the crushed candy.

Just think of how pretty these will look in a basket on your picnic table this Fourth of July. They’ll be a hit with young and old alike. Now strike up that band and march over to these blogs to find some other great recipes!

Lorinda

Devilish Buffalo Eggs From Tampa Cake Girl.
(deconstructed) Berry Pies From An Affair from the Heart.
Double Decker Patriotic Pizookie From Cooking From a Stay at Home Mom.
Berry Pound Cake From Moore or Less Cooking Blog.
Red, White (chocolate) and Blue Trifles From Aunt Bee’s Recipes.
Red White and Blue Berry Poke Cake From Crumbs in My Mustachio.

Fly on the Wall – June

 

Fly on the Wall

Each month a group of bloggers gets together to write about the little things that happened in their homes that you’d only know about if you were a fly on their walls. This month there are 15 of us, so you have your choice of drama! As for me, I’m not happy with you at all, little fly.

This month, I have a bone to pick with you. Why can’t you earn your keep instead of being a freeloader on my wall? Now I’m going to have to buy some ladybugs to help out with the bug situation in the garden. You can eat poop, right? Then WHY can’t you eat Colorado Potato Beetles? Or at least the eggs. Here I am, welcoming you into my home every month, and you won’t even help out? Pfffft.

colorado potato beetle PUBLIC ENEMY

These little guys are back this year. It was an ongoing war last gardening season, with hundreds and hundreds of beetles picked off the potato plants by hand. They were moved to a bucket of soapy water lovely house with a pool. It appears this year will be more of the same. Picking off the bugs is the easy part (if you don’t consider my permanent stoop from bending over like that). It’s those darn eggs they lay under the leaves. Hard to find, and when you DO find them they have to be (eeeeeuw) squished. Ugh.

This is war. WAR, I say!

fly1gifcropped
I belong to a Homemakers Club, which is something you probably won’t find if you live in the city. Here, it’s a thing. We have a token youngster or two, but most of us are well past middle age, with many women in their 80′s and even a couple of ladies in their 90′s. I love them all dearly, but as you can imagine, our meetings are pretty sedate. Uneventful…

Until the last one.

For an activity, one of the ladies was showing us how to fold hand towels like they do on the cruise ships. My partner and I were given instructions for making a monkey, and after 10 minutes of frustration I gave up. She tried a little longer, but we both finally admitted defeat, though we got a lot of laughs out of the attempt. One lady was making a swan. She held it up for all to see, and either I was the first to notice, or just the first to say it out loud, but it looked exactly like…well…something that could have used a little blue pill.

I started laughing and delicately choked out something about a “phallic symbol”, worried that I would shock some of the more elderly members. I obviously didn’t give them enough credit, because let me tell you…that thing made the rounds! Everyone at our table had to have a turn playing with it, posing it in different ways. Hysterical (and surprisingly earthy) conversations made for a refreshingly fun meeting!  And everyone thinks we just read minutes and have bake sales. Hah!

fly1gifcropped

Anyone who knows me well would describe me as “organized”, “meticulous”, “efficient”…even “tidy”.
Excuse me while I clean up the wine that I just snorted out my nose!
I thought you might want to take a look at my awesome filing system. You know, for bills, receipts, etc.
Behold, my purse. It’s not a big purse; I bought it at a children’s store! It was, however, getting a little heavy. Makes for a sore shoulder, you know?

My poor, little, abused purse.

Here is what came OUT of that purse. I haven’t had the courage to sort through it yet. I’m pretty sure I will find grocery lists ranging from yesterday back to Christmas. The Man wanted me to plant some funny stuff in there, but I think this is horrifying enough.

My purse, deconstructed.

My purse, deconstructed.

You know what’s really bad? I have a similar purse hanging in the closet that should be thrown away, but I haven’t done that because it has all of my 2012 “filing” in it.

I need an intervention.fly1gifcropped

Three weeks ago I took a picture of the garden after the tomatoes were planted. The rows looked nice and clean, with very few weeds…so glad I took a picture of that, just as a wonderful, wonderful memory. June bites me on the butt every year. I get stuff planted and then the weather takes a dive, with torrents of rain, thunderstorms, hail…you name it. So while I’m huddling inside and the veggie plants are sulking outside, the weeds are taking advantage of the water and cool temperatures and exploding. By the time the sun comes back and I go out to survey my beautiful garden, the weeds have taken over. Every.Single.Year. I fight a good battle but never, ever win the war.

Today I worked on the onions. Here is what I got weeded:

So pretty after they've been weeded.

So pretty after they’ve been weeded.

And here is what I have left to do:

There really are onions between those weeds!

There really are onions between those weeds!

Pray for me.

fly1gifcropped

I love getting mail. Well, real mail that doesn’t have “final notice” printed on it in red, or “Lorinda, please come back to us” on it. So when I got an unexpected package in the mail from my friend Mary, I was really excited…and rightfully so! She brought THIS back from her vacation to Hawaii. 036

She and I now have two matching Christmas tops! There is nothing she could have brought me that would have been more thrilling (well…maybe a huge box of those chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Are you getting this Mary?) because I rock Christmas shirts.

If you were following me last Christmas, you’ll know that I have enough Christmas shirts to wear a different one each day of December – kind of like a Nativity calendar. That is, I did have that many, until my evil daughter made me throw away the one with the fake collar. I admit, it was pretty lame.

So now I’m back in action. And do you know what????

Plugin supplied by Your Christmas Countdown

Bwa ha ha ha. Only 187 days left ’til Christmas!

It’s pretty much been all work, no play this month. But next month my grandkids will be here visiting, so I should have LOTS of great material for you. For now, here are some other places to buzz by and check out. See you next month!
Lorinda

Baking In a Tornado
Just a Little Nutty
The Sadder But Wiser Girl
Spatulas on Parade
Stacy Sews and Schools
The Momisodes
Someone Else’s Genius
Battered Hope
Menopausal Mother
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy
Juicebox Confession
Black Sheep Mom
Go Mama O
elleroy was here

GINger Lime Buzz



GINger Lime BuzzYou know I’m all about baking. I seldom branch out into the world of meals and liquid refreshments, though of course I indulge in both regularly.  I made an exception today, because I wanted to create a drink for a good friend, Cydnee of Tampa Cake Girl and was shocked to find that I not only liked it, I LOVED it.

And here I thought I hated gin.

I’m on a bit of a ginger kick right now, so it features prominently in this drink. If you’re wild about ginger, add up to a teaspoon of juice. And if you’re wondering how to get ginger juice, you can either process it in a food processor and press out the juice in a sieve, or scrape the peel off with the edge of a spoon and grate the ginger, then press it through a sieve. Do NOT do what I did last night and squeeze a handful of grated ginger with your bare hand. I don’t have any lasting scars, but I can tell you I had a hot hand for hours!!!

I also recommend that you process a whole lot of ginger juice. It can be frozen in a bag and little pieces can be broken off whenever you are hot and sweaty and MUST have one of these!

GINger Lime Buzz
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Author:
Serves: 1
Tart and fizzy and completely satisfying on a hot day! Leave the ice in if you wish, but you might want to compensate by using a little more gin. *wink wink*
Ingredients
  • 2 ice cubes
  • ½ teaspoon ginger juice (from fresh ginger root, grated and pressed)
  • Juice from one Key lime
  • 1 ounce lime flavored gin
  • lemon-lime soda to taste
Instructions
  1. Place ice cubes in a glass
  2. Pour the ginger juice, lime juice, and gin over the ice cubes.
  3. Stir well to chill the liquids, and remove the ice.
  4. Add soda to taste

Happy summer!
Lorinda

Sugar Cookies – Straight Up!

My father liked his cookies just the way he liked his martinis: straight up! He’s been gone for years now, but Father’s Day (closely followed by his birthday) is coming soon, which always makes me nostalgic.



Here's to you, Pop!

Here’s to you, Pop!

So I’m bringing you his favorite treat, my grandma’s Sugar Cookies. No sprinkles, no frosting. But just as a martini needs an olive, he insisted that this cookie needed a single raisin right in the middle. I’ll admit, I like to put a very thin sugar glaze on mine, or a light dusting of sugar, which doesn’t overpower the sugar cookie experience at all. But I’ll leave that up to you.

Glazed, sugared, or adorned with a raisin...your choice!

Glazed, sugared, or adorned with a raisin…your choice!

These aren’t crunchy sugar cookies that can be cut into shapes; they’re soft and sweet and puffy. For Christmas and Dad’s birthday I would make four or five different types of cookie dough and freeze cookie-sized scoops of dough in zipper bags. Dad loved being able to bake a few cookies at a time. But without a doubt, the sugar cookie dough was eaten first! Sugar cookies glazed horizontal

Here’s Grandma’s recipe. Don’t leave out the nutmeg – it really adds a lovely, light flavor. And yes, Grandma…I measured my ingredients. Pretty much.

Soft Sugar Cookies
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Author:
No bells or whistles - these sugar cookies are the real deal. Soft, tender, and sweet. A little plain, but that's what makes them so charming. Add a thin powdered sugar glaze when cookies are cool, or sprinkle them with sugar before baking if you'd like. Makes about 4 dozen.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4¾ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Raisins
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  2. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg.
  3. Add vanilla and beat until combined.
  4. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and nutmeg.
  5. Beginning with the flour mixture, and ending with the sour cream, add alternately in three increments to the creamed mixture in the bowl. Cover and chill for an hour (or more).
  6. Heat oven to 375 F.
  7. On a floured surface or between two pieces of parchment, roll the dough out to a thickness of ¼-inch. Cut into circles using a round cookie cutter or biscuit cutter and place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press one raisin directly in the middle of each cookie. (Sprinkle with sugar if you wish.)
  8. Bake 11-12 minutes, until barely golden on bottom edges.
  9. Cool on a rack.

 

Cream the butter and sugar.

Cream the butter and sugar.

Sift the dry ingredients.

Sift the dry ingredients.

Add one third of the dry ingredients...

Add one third of the dry ingredients…

Add one third of the sour cream....etc.

Add one third of the sour cream….etc.

Roll and cut.

Roll and cut.



...and sit on the porch with a cold glass of milk and a plate of cookies!

…and sit on the porch with a cold glass of milk and a plate of cookies!