Fly on the Wall – April

Fly on the Wall

Welcome to our Fly on the Wall group post. Today 12 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house,and then check out the other houses too! Links to all of the crazy bloggers are at the bottom of this post.
fly1gifcropped
April finds me whirling around like a Dervish. I usually thrive on multi-tasking, but you may have noticed that my personality has suffered a bit. In other words, do NOT come in my kitchen! Or talk to me. Or expect me to feed you. Several deadlines are all looming, and I’ve actually had to resort to putting a priority list down on paper instead of juggling things around in my head. You’ve been pretty good about staying on the ceiling, out of my way, but the other occupants of this house haven’t been as helpful.

And how those occupants have multiplied!

We had decided NO MORE DOGS after we lost our German Shorthair last fall. We had Otis, our yellow lab, and that was enough; he seemed happy to be an “only child.” Oh, occasionally a box of puppies at the feed store would tempt me, and The Man and Lord Voldemort were lobbying for a dog that was trained to hunt for antlers that the deer, elk, and moose shed every year. I made myself walk away from the box-o’-pups, and a shed-hunting dog was out of our budget completely, so we had no plans for another dog.

You hear it coming, don’t you?

Sweet DaisyMy husband booted up a hunting site he chats in, and there was a 2 year old black lab, a trained shed dog, free to a good home. Her owners had to move to an apartment, and she was miserable there. I can’t say I was consulted; by the time I realized what was going on, The Man was already on the phone, saying “We’ll take her”, but I was wholeheartedly in favor. So Daisy joined the family, and she has stolen all of our hearts. Otis loves having her to play with, and even the cats like her. Of course, she went into heat right after we got her, so there has been a lot of yelling, screaming, and shooting of BB guns going on to ward off the neighbor dogs. And Miss Daisy went right to the vet to avoid eight or ten more little family members!

Silver Laced Wyandotte chicks

Silver Laced Wyandotte chicks

I also brought home some chicks on my last run to town. I got out of the car holding a white cardboard box that look very much like a pastry box. If The Man could hear better, he would have known immediately what was in the box. Six chicks can make an awful lot of noise! But he can’t hear well (don’t get me started) and for a brief moment he looked excited and hopeful, thinking I’d brought him home a treat. The guilty look on my face must have given me away, because the first thing he said was: “that had better not be chicks”. Oops.

We needed them (the old girls are about to go to freezer boot camp) but we weren’t ready. He spent the next hour fixing up the brooder box while I scurried around trying to keep them warm enough. A heating pad under the box and one over the top, and they were just fine. Now they’re all cozy in their home for the next six weeks. This means the pressure is on my husband, because he is the one who will have to dispatch Laverne, Shirley, Thelma, Louise, Lucy, Ethel, Betty, Wilma, Rachel, Phoebe, Monica, Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, Sophia, Kendra, and Holly. I will be gone that day – guaranteed!

And I’ve learned my lesson…I won’t be naming these young ladies!

fly1gifcropped

Starched doilies, drying.

Starched doilies, drying.

My Homemaker’s Club Spring Tea is coming up next week, and I am making nut cups for 80 women. The theme this year is “Elegance and Old Lace” so I bought lace and tried starching circles of it to go around the little cups. I was fussing over them, weaving a little ribbon through the lace (not sure I liked the way they looked) and The Man was hovering over my shoulder giving me a headache guidance. Finally I cut, colored and starched little doilies out of a tablecloth I had, and asked him what he thought. Helpfully, he said “if you put the doily on the cup, and the drawstring, you can call it a nutsack.

Yeah, that would go over real well. He’s a charmer.

I had to laugh later, though, when I heard him singing from the other room. It was the Mr. Rogers tune, and he was crooning: “I’m a beautiful guy in the neighborhood.” Really? I started snickering and he assured me ““You got the whole package, Lor. Cute, funny, playful.” I could add to that list. I could! But I’ll take the high road…this time.

fly1gifcropped

Eeeuw.

Eeeuw.

When I try a recipe and it fails, I don’t usually post pictures for everyone to see. But a monumental fail calls for documentation, so here’s my attempt at an “heirloom” Easter recipe. It was supposed to be a beautiful Kulich, but the recipe had me pouring oil over the dough and trying to work it in with my hands. It was a fairly expensive recipe to make, so I didn’t give up…just kept trying to “fix” it. Huh. The only word for this big, sloppy mess is FAIL. We did get a good laugh out of it though. You can find this (and my ham fail) in my April Yummy Northwest column. There are some good recipes on there, too!

kulich oozing oil

Dough, basting itself in oozing oil.

fly1gifcroppedfly gf grill

Do you have one of these? I do. The Man gave it to me for Christmas a few years back. I usually try to be polite and appreciative; it’s the thought that counts, right? But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t! I looked at him slack-jawed and waited for an explanation. He said, and I quote: “I thought you’d like it. It’s for our diet.”

I can see every woman’s eyes roll back in their head right now. If there are any men reading this, they’re probably looking around, shaking their heads, going “Whaaaa?” Just for the record, never, NEVER give your wife a gift with a cord on it unless she specifically tells you that’s what she wants. And even then, get something personal to go along with it. And never ever EVER give her something that has the words “Fat Reducing” on it. Trust me!

But I digress.

I used this machine exactly twice. I mean, I cook with butter and cream for heaven’s sake. I really don’t think that squeezing a few drops of fat out of a piece of meat is going to make a huge impact on my diet. And it’s just another hard-to-clean appliance. The darn thing was taking up shelf space in my fruit room, so after brainstorming with The Man, we came up with some other uses for it. Here are a few:

Mean Green Chicken Shit Scraping Machine.  (Boot scraper)

Mean Green Chicken Shit Scraping Machine. (Boot scraper)

The Queen Preen Crimping Machine (for those of us lost in the 80's)

The Queen Preen Crimping Machine (for those of us lost in the 80′s)

The House Isn't Clean but Come in Machine (Door stop)

The House Isn’t Clean but Come in Machine (Door stop)

Reach the Latrine Step-Up Machine (for youngsters)

Reach the Latrine Step-Up Machine (for youngsters)

I even tried a recipe in it, doing my best to thwart the healthy vibes it was emitting. It isn’t a thing of beauty, but it’s easy and tasty. It would have been really good with a dollop of whipped cream on top, but I didn’t think of it at the time. The other possibility would be marshmallow cream (or a leftover Peep?) on the inside of the cake. I used a few marshmallows, and they added sweetness but disappeared as the cakes grilled.

In case your mind works anything like mine, don’t even consider dipping it in an egg mixture. It doesn’t come out like French toast…it turns into a soggy mess. You’re welcome!

You know I rarely make a single batch of anything. When I make a cake, I make extra and freeze a layer or two. It comes in very handy when you have to produce a dessert quickly (trifle) or want to take something special to a friend (petits fours) or get a sudden craving for Grilled Pineapple Cakewiches.

Grilled Pineapple Cakewiches
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Author:
This started as a joke, but turned out to be pretty tasty! Grilled cakes, cooked in a George Foreman grill.
Ingredients
  • Thin slices of white or yellow cake (easiest to do if cake is frozen!)
  • Pineapple slices
  • Brown sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Butter
  • Marshmallows (or marshmallow cream)
Instructions
  1. Heat the grill to 375
  2. Butter both sides of cake slices
  3. Put 1 teaspoon of brown sugar on each slice. Sprinkle with cinnamon
  4. Add either 6-7 mini or 1 large marshmallow, or a spoonful of marshmallow cream on one side.
  5. Top with 1 slice of pineapple and turn over on top of the other piece of cake to make a “sandwich”
  6. Cook for 4 minutes, or until the outside of the grilled cake is a rich golden brown.
  7. Serve with a fork and a dollop of whipped cream.

 

Marshmallows!

Marshmallows!

Done! And see? Not much mess.

Done! And see? Not much mess.

Oh, c'mon. Try one!

Oh, c’mon. Try one!

Love my Easter hat! And do you know what the best part of it is?

The cute little tail!

The cute little tail!

Happy Easter!
Lorinda

Okay, buzz off and visit these fun blogs!

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

 

Chocolaty Croissant Puffs

broads collage aprilEach month a fun group of bloggers shares recipes that represent a theme that one of us picks. This month that theme is “Celebrating Chocolate” and I have the pressure honor of being first up to bat.

I’m sure the other gals will take it much easier on you, but I brought a recipe that is a wee bit challenging and (oh, please don’t run away) time-consuming. It is also worth every minute spent in the kitchen!

When the Cronut excitement hit last year, my daughter immediately challenged me to create my own recipe for these flaky little fried pastries. She loves my croissants and assumed Cronuts would be a simple transition. Do you know what? She was right! They came out just as I had envisioned them – a rarity, for sure.


cronut plated vertical closeup watermark

This slightly sweetened croissant dough takes time to do properly, but it’s one of those processes that is spread out over two days. The dough can be started in the afternoon, turned and rolled several times over the course of the evening, and then put in the refrigerator until the next day (or even the day after!) when the shapes are then cut out, allowed to rise, and then fried, rolled in sugar, filled, and frosted.

I know, I know. It sounds complicated, but if you follow the instructions one simple step at a time, you will be rewarded with this:

cronut plated vertical many watermark

So…here is my recipe for Chocolaty Croissant Puffs. Don’t let the length of it intimidate you; I get a little wordy when I’m trying to explain how to do something. Just be glad I’m not standing behind you in the kitchen, micromanaging you! Not that I ever do that, of course. Ahem.

Also, for some helpful hints you might want to check out my CROISSANT blog

Chocolaty Croissant Puffs
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Author:
Flaky layered doughnuts filled with chocolate pastry cream and iced with a ganache glaze. Makes12-14
Ingredients
  • 1 package active-dry yeast
  • 1⅓ cups warm milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cold butter
  • A shallow bowl of sugar for rolling pastry in
  • oil for frying, enough to fill pot 3″ (I prefer peanut oil)
  • ……
  • Pastry Cream:
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup half & half
  • ¼-1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ……….
  • Chocolate Glaze
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate (or 1 cup chocolate chips)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup half & half
  • 1 teaspoon powdered egg whites or meringue powder (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl (a stand mixer is best) combine the yeast and warm milk. Let it sit until dissolved – about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the butter, vanilla, sugar, salt, and 1 cup of the flour and stir until combined.
  3. Switch to a dough hook and slowly add 2 cups of the remaining flour. Knead with the dough hook for 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining ½ cup of flour if needed to make the dough come away cleanly from the sides of the bowl.
  4. Cover with a towel and let the dough rise until doubled – about 1 hour.
  5. Drop the dough on a lightly floured surface. Turn it over to coat, and knead a few times. Place the dough in a large plastic zipper bag, or wrap loosely in plastic wrap. Put in the refrigerator.
  6. Working with one stick of butter, pound and roll the butter between two pieces of waxed paper or parchment, making a 6½-inch by 4-inch rectangle. If necessary, trim the butter to get reasonably straight edges and use a knife or spatula to spread the trimmed butter back onto the rectangle. Place in the refrigerator. Repeat with the other stick of butter.
  7. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Place chilled dough on floured surface and roll it out to approximately 12×8 inches, with the long side towards you.
  9. Put one piece of chilled butter in the middle of the dough, with the butter’s short edge towards you. Fold the dough from the right, over the butter, pressing down gently. Place the other piece of butter on the dough that is covering the first piece of butter and fold the left side over, pressing the seam to close. (It is like a book, with the “open” edge on the right and the short edge facing you.
  10. Roll out gently to measure 12×8 inches. Fold into thirds again, press the edges to seal, and put the dough back into the plastic bag. Refrigerate for 45 minutes.
  11. With the long sealed edge on the right, roll out again to 12×8 inches. Fold into thirds and place back in the bag in the refrigerator for 45 minutes
  12. Repeat one more time and refrigerate overnight.
  13. The next day, roll the dough out to measure 12×8 inches. Fold into thirds. Roll it out again, to approximately ½-inch thick. Cut shapes out with a flower-shaped cookie cutter or a round biscuit cutter. Lift the cutter straight up – don’t twist it. Use a small round cutter (a bottle cap works in a pinch) to cut a circle out of the center of each pastry. These doughnut holes are wonderful when fried! Cover with a towel and let rise until almost double, about 1 hour.
  14. Heat oil to 370 degrees in a deep pot, with the oil about 3 inches deep. Keep a close watch on the temperature, as it will change quickly as dough is added and removed. It is important to keep the temperature near 370 degrees to keep the pastry from absorbing oil.
  15. Slide a few pieces of dough into the pan, leaving enough room for them to move around. Cook for approximately 1 minute on each side, or until a light golden brown. Remove with a “spider” or slotted spoon. Place on paper towels to drain, with more paper towels over the top. When cool enough to handle, roll the bottom and sides in sugar. Repeat until all of the doughnuts and the holes have been fried and sugared.
  16. MAKE THE PASTRY CREAM:
  17. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, sugar, water, and egg yolks. Beat or whisk well.
  18. In a medium saucepan on medium heat, heat the half & half until it’s hot and bubbly. Pour half of it over the egg mixture, whisking briskly. Pour the egg mixture back into the hot half & half. Whisk continuously on medium heat until thick, about 2 minutes.
  19. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Whisk until incorporated. Cover and let it cool, stirring occasionally. When completely cool, put the pastry cream into a pastry bag with a bismark tip or a medium round tube tip.
  20. With a skewer, poke a hole in one side of a pastry. Insert the skewer to the left as far as you can without poking it through the side of the pastry, then to the right. Put the tube into the hole you just created and squeeze filling in each direction. Repeat on the other side of the pastry. Each doughnut should have two holes. NOTE: If you prefer, you can cut each pastry across the equator, add filling and replace top. OR you can “plug” the bottom with a small piece of one of the doughnut holes and fill the core from the top.
  21. MAKE THE GLAZE:
  22. Melt the chocolate in a small saucepan over the lowest heat setting. Add the butter, corn syrup, and vanilla. Stir. Add the powdered sugar alternately with the half and half until the mixture is fairly thin. Adjust the amount of liquid as necessary. If you want a firm glaze, add the powdered egg whites or meringue powder and stir well.
  23. Dip the top of each pastry and decorate with candy flowers or sprinkles if desired.

 

Cut out the shapes (save the "holes"...they're the best part!)

Cut out the shapes (save the “holes”…they’re the best part!)

Risen - look at those layers!

Risen – look at those layers!

Ready to fry.

Ready to fry.

Fry for 1 minute, flip, and fry for another minute.

Fry for 1 minute, flip, and fry for another minute.

roll in sugar

roll in sugar

Options, left to right: plug bottom and fill the core, slice horizontally and fill, or fill using pastry tip.

Options, left to right: plug bottom and fill the core, slice horizontally and fill, or fill using pastry tip.

Insert skewer to the left, then the right on both sides.

Insert skewer to the left, then the right on both sides.

Pipe in the pastry cream.

Pipe in the pastry cream.

Like croissants, these are best eaten the same day they are made. With a little planning, there would be plenty of time to fry them in the morning for a brunch, because the pastry cream and glaze can be made the day before, just like the dough. (They are both fine in the refrigerator for several days…just let the cream soften at room temperature and re-heat the glaze gently.) You could also save time by using instant pudding for the filling.

A little chewy, a little flaky, and sinfully rich, these sweet puffs taste as beautiful as they look.

cronut plated vertical watermark

Be sure to come back to see what the other bloggers bring. I can assure you there will be some absolute recipe gems! Links to their posts will be added each day. Enjoy!

April 7th. Chocolaty Croissant Puffs from The Rowdy Baker
April 8th. Double Chocolate Cheesecake Pie from Baking in a Tornado
April 10th Iced Mocha Latte Chocolate Cake from Tampa Cake Girl
April 11th Raspberry Candied Bacon Dark Chocolate Brownies from Cooking from a Stay at Home Mom
April 12th Chocolate Covered Strawberry Ladybugs from Hun…What’s for Dinner?
April 13th Chocolate Champagne Raspberry Truffle from Crumbs in my Mustachio

That’s it for this month. Thank you for coming by and indulging!
Lorinda

Sweet Sugar Eggs

What’s pink and purple and yellow and white and green and covered in roses and violas and miscellaneous unidentifiable flowers and filled with bunnies and chickens and baskets of eggs and more flowers and bees and rainbows and clouds….

Gasp. Coming up for air, here.


sugar eggs

Panoramic sugar eggs, of course!

For the last week my kitchen and dining room table have been taken over by these eggs. Here’s what happens: I make up a couple of bowls of colored sugar to fill my egg molds with. Then, when they’ve dried for a few hours I turn the molds over and scrape out the soft sugar, which goes back into the bowl. Do you see what happens here? There isn’t quite enough for another whole egg, so I add more sugar and fill more eggs, then scoop the extra back into the bowl. And….repeat.

Somehow I just don’t have it in me to throw away the extra sugar.

The smart thing would be to start with a light color (like pink) and when the pink egg is filled and scooped, add a little extra sugar and a couple of drops of food coloring and turn it into something darker, like purple. At some point, though, you will have to throw away a little sugar. After a week of this madness, I finally reach the point where I can cheerfully do that.

Rather than give you instructions on this blog, here’s the link to a Yummy Northwest column I did a couple of years ago that shows you the basics of making SUGAR EGGS

I made some cute bunnies, carrots, and bees using gum paste. If you’ve never tried working with gum paste, you’re missing out on a lot of creative fun. It’s like playing with clay, only it hardens into something resembling tooth-breaking porcelain. Once made and dried it will last and last. I like to use the powdered gum paste; that way I can just make as much as I want. Keep it in a heavy plastic bag when you’re not using it, because it will dry faster than you’d ever believe.

For my bee I just made a little body, painted it with yellow food coloring, painted on stripes and eyes with black food coloring, and stuck two slices of jelly bean on it for wings.

Gum paste bee on a royal icing flower.

Gum paste bee on a royal icing flower.

For the bunny, begin with the head. Make a small ball. Give it a small triangular nose and press a mouth (shaped sort of like a soft “W”) under it with a toothpick. Poke two holes in the top for ears. Make ears, dampen the base of them slightly, and stick them in the holes. Poke a toothpick in the bottom of the head where it will connect with the body and let the it dry until the ears are stable. Meanwhile, you can paint the inside of the ears, the nose, and the cheeks with a little pink food coloring or petal dust.

For the bunny’s body, make a ball of gum paste slightly larger than the head. Make two flat feet (press lines with a toothpick for toes) and set the body on top of them. Any time you put two pieces of gum paste together, it helps to dampen the place where they connect. A damp washcloth works perfectly for this. Add a fluffy tail. Add the head, poking the toothpick into the top of the body. If the toothpick is too long, shorten it with a pair of scissors. Add arms, either individual paws or one long piece that stretches all the way around. You can have it hold a candy egg, flower, or carrot if you’d like.

Cute little guys.

Cute little guys.

Speaking of carrots, I’m SURE I don’t have to explain how to make one, right? But for the record, adding a little food color to the gum paste is simple, but it will get your hands messy. Plastic gloves might be a good option if that kind of thing bugs you. Also, powdered food coloring is easier to work with. If you use liquid, you may have to add a little more powdered sugar to the gum paste too.

Have fun with these! Go to your favorite search engine and find articles on shaping royal icing flowers and little critters – ducks, chickens, lambs, etc. I covered pieces of spaghetti with green gum paste for flower stems and made a basket with gum paste and then brushed it with dry cocoa to give it a light brown color. Use your imagination…or better yet, ask a child for advice! Go through your favorite candy store to find all kinds of potential decorations.

An upright egg with a peep hole.

An upright egg with a peep hole.



This one lays flat with a peep hole in the pointy end.

This one lays flat with a peep hole in the pointy end.

Half an egg on a sugar stand.

Half an egg on a sugar stand.

Beware. Sugar eggs are addictive to make. Oh, and though everything is edible (well, except for that toothpick) I really don’t recommend gnawing on these. They’re just to look at, okay?

Fly on the Wall – March

Fly on the Wall

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 14 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

fly1gifcropped

 

Let’s see, my buzzy friend. You hitched a ride in my car with me to California last month, survived a blizzard, had fun at Disneyland with my daughter and her family, and then you hung around with me while I was sick and being a most unpleasant house guest. That’s where we left the story last month.

We traveled to Modesto, you and I, to visit my oldest son and his wife. I spent a few days recuperating, dozing and reading, while you explored their back yard. (They have 2 dogs, so I KNOW what you were doing out there. Gross.)

In the evenings we talked, ate, and drank wine, and I learned things about my kids’ teenage years that I’m probably glad I didn’t know at the time. If any of you readers have young children, your day will come! Usually when I hear these stories I nod wisely and say “We knew more than you think we did” which makes us look omniscient and makes them think they never really got away with anything. You might save that little gem for later when they tell you stuff that makes your hair stand on end.

From there I made my way north again. Since my poor grandchildren had been stuck with “Gross Grandma” for two weeks while I was sick and crabby, I had to try a little damage control. I was heading to my cousin’s in Oregon, but had enough time to put on makeup and curl my hair and sweep through Redding with a gift for each child. See? I can be “Fun Grandma!” I brought Taunee the Ken doll she wanted badly. I was there less than two hours, but by the time I left Ken had hooked up with Barbie, was sweet talking her, and they’d produced a baby. That guy works fast!!

I was off and running again, north to Oregon.

More good food, wine, and a comfy bed at Cousin John and his lovely wife Kathy’s home. I could really get used to having others cook for me! After a couple of days of pampering, I felt good enough to head home. Luckily, the weather was delightful and I had long (12 hours) but uneventful drive home. Yes! I know I was happy to tumble out of the car at home, and I’m sure my little fly companion was too. I came home to a clean house, dinner in the oven, and a relieved husband. Sweet.

fly1gifcropped

Egg production has been down in the chicken yard, but every time we start talking about…um…eliminating some of the old chickens, they start laying like crazy. Here’s an egg we got recently. I can just see one of the old girls going: “Must.Produce.Egg.Gruuuunt. Nope, that’s the best I can do.”

What the....

What the….

Really? That’s all you’ve got?!

Big whoop.

Big whoop.

fly1gifcropped

And, while I have eggs on my mind, The Man came up with an idea for little cakes that turned out so cute. Here’s a link to my blog for Deviled Cakes. I’m going to put them on the table during our Ladies Spring Tea next month and see the funny reactions. Maybe I’ll get a couple of good pictures for next month’s Fly on the Wall.

Yes, these really are CAKES!

Yes, these really are CAKES!

fly1gifcropped

If you think Caesar had it rough, look at what the Ides of March brought us:

Ugh. Not the day I was hoping for...

Ugh. Not the day I was hoping for…

I love winter, and I love spring, but I really dread this in-between mess. Beware the Ides of March, indeed!

fly1gifcropped

Easter candy is my most uncontrollable guilty pleasure. When the kids were little I’d buy tons of candy for “decorating” but would put the boring stuff like jelly beans and salt water taffy in the cute little bowls and hide the good stuff for myself. The Reeses peanut butter eggs, Cadbury mini-eggs, Russell Stover marshmallow eggs…all were stashed in closets, or sometimes in the freezer disguised as bags of “broccoli”. I know, I know…I’m unspeakably ashamed. My children will probably end up on an analyst’s couch one day talking about how withholding their mother was.

I admit I had a carton of marshmallow eggs hidden in the baking cabinet this year, but for the most part, I’ve gotten so much better about sharing. I HAVE!

Mine! Mine! Mine!

Mine! Mine! Mine!

fly1gifcropped

Speaking of Easter, every year I make sugar eggs. I don’t know why, exactly; it’s just an urge. Bags of icing of every color, sugar eggs in various stages of completion, sugar egg carcasses that bit the dust…my dining room table craft table is covered with debris. Rather than clean it up, I have convinced myself that I must make more sugar eggs. There’s no sense in cleaning it up if I’m going to make more, right??? Um. Anyone want an egg?

Hooooeeeeee. Did I do that?

Hooooeeeeee. Did I do that?

Right now there is more sugar flying than flour, but still…I love this gift my daughter made me!

Love that girl!

Love that girl!

That’s it for me. It’s been a pretty dull month here. My youngest son (aka: Lord Voldemort) will be here next week, so I should have some good stories to tell. Until then, try buzzing around these other homes and see what’s happening!

Baking In a Tornado
Just a Little Nutty
Menopausal Mother
The Sadder But Wiser Girl
Follow Me Home
Spatulas on Parade
Stacy Sews and Schools
The Momisodes
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy
Someone Else’s Genius
Pink Heart String
Spinster Snacks
Juicebox Confession

Deviled Cakes!



deviled cakes plated horizontal watermark For a fun spin on traditional Easter food, make these sweet little cakes that look like deviled eggs! The cake is tender and white, and is covered with a light coating of white chocolate, then decorated with yellow whipped buttercream icing. A dash of red sprinkles gives the appearance of paprika. At first glance, they will really fool you!

You can't fool everyone...

You can’t fool everyone…

We may have an eensy-weensy problem here, though. The pan I used (Wilton’s Petite Egg Pan) is no longer available. If you are lucky enough to have one, or there is someone you can steal borrow one from, you’re set. OR if you are wealthy and money is no object, there is a similar pan on the market that runs around $100. Such a deal! Worst case scenario, Wilton has a small egg pan that has designs on it. Since you really only see the top of the egg anyhow, I think it would work just fine. Hopefully you’ll figure something out, because these are just so much fun to make!

I’d love to say I thought up this idea, but The Man was the one who came up with it. I guess now he’s the idea man, and I’m the lowly person who does the grunt work. Meh…that’s okay. He deserves his moment in the limelight for this.

I tried to make the whitest cake possible, so used coconut oil instead of butter (it adds a lovely coconut flavor, but you can use shortening if you’d like) and didn’t use vanilla. If you have clear vanilla, go ahead and put a teaspoon in when you cream the oil and sugar together. Also, because I used whipping cream in the frosting to make it look fluffier, these really should be refrigerated.

Oh, I love these!

Oh, I love these!

Deviled Cakes!
Print

Author:
Makes a LOT. At least 7 dozen, maybe more. You could also make 2 dozen and bake the rest of the batter in a 9″ cake pan for another use.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup room temperature coconut oil (or you may substitute shortening)
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon clear vanilla (optional)
  • 2¼ cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cup buttermilk
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 pound white candy melts (get the whitest ones possible. I used Wilton’s “Bright White”
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • Yellow and orange food coloring
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Prepare pan by greasing and flouring, or by spraying with a flour/oil combination spray like Baker’s Joy.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  5. In a large bowl, cream the oil (or shortening), sugar, and clear vanilla. I used less oil than normal, so it won’t get fluffy. Just mix it together really well.
  6. Alternately add the dry ingredients and buttermilk, beginning with the flour and ending with the buttermilk, about a third of each at a time.
  7. Beat for one minute on medium-high speed.
  8. Fold in the egg whites.
  9. Fill each egg cavity almost to the top.
  10. Bake for 8-9 minutes, or until the edges are beginning to turn golden brown and turn out onto racks to cool.
  11. Slice the domed tops off of each egg.
  12. Melt the white chocolate melts in the microwave at 15 second intervals, stirring each time until completely melted.
  13. With a table knife, spread a layer of white chocolate on the flat side (top) of each egg.
  14. In a large bowl, combine the butter and powdered sugar. Mix well.
  15. Add the whipping cream a little at a time until it reaches the desired consistency for piping, adding a little more cream or powdered sugar if necessary.
  16. Add a little yellow coloring and a TINY bit of orange or red. Whip the frosting to combine. Adjust the color to resemble deviled egg filling. Continue to beat the frosting until it is light and fluffy.
  17. With a star tip, pipe the “yolk filling” on each egg. Dust with red sugar sprinkles.

 

deviled cakes ingredients

Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Fold the egg whites into the batter.

Fold the egg whites into the batter.

Fill the eggs ALMOST full (I overdid it just a little in this photo)

Fill the eggs ALMOST full (I overdid it just a little in this photo)

Bake about 9 minutes.

Bake about 9 minutes.

Level the tops (eat the scraps) and "frost" with white candy melts.

Level the tops (eat the scraps) and “frost” with white candy melts.

Pipe the frosting and add sprinkles. TA DA!

Pipe the frosting and add sprinkles. TA DA!



deviled cakes corrected watermark

Chicken Pot Pie

pot pie wine with watermarkWe’re at that awkward time between winter and spring, where I don’t know whether to cook hearty meals or start pretending the weather is nice and the green foods I find at the grocery store are fresh and wholesome. A hearty meal won today!

I’ve given you a link to one of my pot pie recipes before, but I changed it up a little (I try never to use canned soup now) and like this version much, much more. Hope you’ll agree.

If you’ve followed any of my posts, you know that my unofficial motto is: “If it’s worth making, it’s worth doubling.” Seriously – if it’s worth the time to make something, make a LOT of it and freeze it. You’ll be glad when you’re caught with unexpected company or just don’t feel like entering your kitchen.

This pot pie recipe makes two generous pies. Freeze one and inhale the other! Click on this link for my favorite pie crust recipe. You’ll have to double it, of course.

One to eat...

One to eat…

and one for the freezer!

and one for the freezer!

Here’s my version, but as always, feel free to customize it to your tastes. Add mushrooms, celery, herbs, bacon, broccoli, green beans, cheese…well, you get the idea. Anything goes!

Chicken Pot Pie
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Author:
Serves: 6
A rich chicken pot pie with a flaky crust – a hearty meal that is good enough to serve to company!
Ingredients
  • 4 large chicken halves (about 5 pounds)
  • 3 cups sliced carrots
  • 3 cups cubed potatoes
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup chicken grease
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ⅔ cup flour
  • 1½ cup chicken broth
  • 2½ cups milk
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • Pie crust – enough for 2 deep-dish shells and 2 top crusts
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place chicken breasts in baking dish and bake until done – about 1 hour. Remove from heat and reserve ½ cup of the grease.
  3. While chicken cools, peel carrots and slice. Peel potatoes and cut into small cubes. Cover potatoes with cold water until ready to use.
  4. In large saucepan or deep fry pan on high heat, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add the carrots. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Drain the potatoes and add them to the carrots. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook for 3 minutes.
  6. Add the chopped onions and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  7. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, combine the chicken grease, butter, and garlic. Stir until butter melts and the mixture is bubbly.
  8. Add the flour gradually, stirring constantly. It will turn into a thick ball of dough. Stir and cook for one minute, turning heat down a little if it begins to brown.
  9. Slowly add the chicken broth, stirring well. You may want to switch to a whisk here.
  10. Add the milk gradually, Whisk continuously! The mixture should slowly thicken.
  11. Reduce heat to low and allow the mixture to cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. The goal is to make a design on the top of the sauce with the whisk or spoon, and watch it disappear quickly. In other words, not too thick, not too thin. Add more liquid if it’s too thick. You may use cream if you want a richer sauce.
  12. Remove sauce from heat and set aside.
  13. Heat oven to 400 F.
  14. Remove the meat from the chicken and chop into generous bite-size pieces.
  15. Drain the cooked vegetables and add the chicken. Add the frozen peas and stir to combine.
  16. Divide between the two pie crusts, just to the top of the pan. Refrigerate any extra filling for another use.
  17. Pour half of the sauce over the filling in each pie.
  18. Cover with top crust. Cut vent holes in the top crust.
  19. Bake at 400 F. for 45 minutes, or until the crust is a rich light brown.
  20. Allow the pie to sit for 15 minutes before cutting.

 

Pot pie ingredients. Um...except I forgot garlic, chicken broth, and peas :)

Pot pie ingredients. Um…except I forgot garlic, chicken broth, and peas :)

Cook carrots 3 minutes (they take longer than potatoes) then add 'taters.

Cook carrots 3 minutes (they take longer than potatoes) then add ‘taters.

Cooking the fats and flour.

Cooking the fats and flour.

Pour sauce over meat and veggies.

Pour sauce over meat and veggies.

Dig in!

Dig in!

This is the ultimate comfort food. I remember loving those nasty little frozen pot pies from the grocery store, even though they always were so hot they burned my mouth and accidentally finding meat in them was a real bonus. This pie…THIS PIE…is so much better than those. It’s packed full of chunks of chicken and vegetables that are easily identifiable. No comparison! Make a couple of them this weekend and you will never even pause in the freezer section again.

Mint Bombe



mint bombe with watermark horizontalDo you remember my Brownie Bombe from last December? I thought I’d try a mint version for St. Patrick’s Day, and it turned out yuuuuuuuuumy!

An ice cream bombe is always an impressive dessert, and yet it’s really very simple to make. The trick is to start early – at least a day before you plan to serve it. The bombe must be frozen between layers, then frozen overnight for best results. To make it even simpler you could use boxed brownie mix, jarred hot fudge sauce, and a large tub of non-dairy topping, but making these things from scratch is really easy, I promise.


mint bombe inside close with watermark
This mint bombe was made with two ice creams: Mint Brownie and Vanilla. I only used two ice creams this time because I added a core of mint fudge. Feel free to use any ice cream flavor you like; you can’t go wrong with this dessert!

Mint Bombe
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Author:
Serves: 12
A core of mint fudge sauce, surrounded by ice cream, surrounded by brownies, surrounded by whipping cream. Mmmm.
Ingredients
  • One batch of brownies (recipe below)
  • Two cartons (1.5 quarts each) ice cream
  • Mint Fudge Sauce (recipe below)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 2-3 teaspoons creme de menthe (or 2 drops of green food coloring)
Instructions
  1. Prepare a 2-quart bowl by lining with foil. Lightly oil the foil.
  2. Press pieces of brownie against the foil, making a thin brownie shell. Make sure all of the foil is covered, but leave approximately ½ –inch of foil showing at the top of the bowl. Reserve the remaining brownies; these will be used at the end.
  3. Remove your first flavor of ice cream from the freezer to let it soften for 10-15 minutes. Put the brownie-lined bowl in the freezer while the ice cream is softening.
  4. With a spoon or rubber spatula, press a layer of ice cream over the brownie layer. You will use the entire carton of ice cream. Bring it all the way to the top of the brownie, keeping the layer as uniformly thick as possible.
  5. Return to the freezer for at least 2 hours, or until firm.
  6. Remove the second container of ice cream from the freezer and let it soften for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Fill the center with softened ice cream, almost to the top. With a wooden spoon handle, make a hole in the center for the fudge sauce. This should make the layers of ice cream the same height. If not, add a little more of the second flavor to make the top even.
  8. Fill the hole with mint fudge sauce.
  9. Return to the freezer for at least 2 hours, or until firm.
  10. Remove from freezer and crumble the remaining brownies over the top, pressing firmly.
  11. Cover the bombe with foil or plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
  12. Lift the bombe out of the bowl using the foil. Turn flat side down on serving platter and remove the foil.
  13. Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Add in the crème de menthe or food coloring if you are using it, and “frost” the bombe.
  14. Decorate with sprinkles or candy shamrocks. For best results, freeze again until the whipping cream is firm (but it can be cut right away if you’re ready to serve.)

 

Brownies:
1 cup powdered cocoa
3 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup oil
1 tablespoon vanilla

1. Heat oven to 350 F.
2. Grease and flour a 10×10” (or 8×12 or 9×12) pan.
3. In a large bowl, combine the cocoa, sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder.
4. In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Add the melted butter, oil, and vanilla.
5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.
6. Spoon into prepared pan and level with a spatula.
7. Bake for approximately 35 minutes. Don’t overbake.

Mint Fudge Sauce:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup mint chocolate chips (or use semi-sweet chocolate and add a few drops of peppermint extract)
1/2 cup cream

Combine all ingredients in a small pan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently until chips are melted and the sauce is completely smooth. Pour into a small bowl to cool and thicken.

Press brownies into the foil-lined bowl.

Press brownies into the foil-lined bowl.

Add a layer of mint ice cream. Freeze until firm.

Add a layer of mint ice cream. Freeze until firm.

Add vanilla ice cream, make a hole, and pour in mint fudge sauce!

Add vanilla ice cream, make a hole, and pour in mint fudge sauce!

Add a brownie top (which will actually be the bottom...)

Add a brownie top (which will actually be the bottom…)

"Frost" it with whipped cream.

“Frost” it with whipped cream.

Freeze, slice, and serve!

Freeze, slice, and serve!

St. Patrick’s Day is Monday, so start one of these this weekend! Seriously, if the bombe in-progress sits in the freezer for 4 or 5 hours between steps, that’s perfectly fine. Work it around your schedule! Even if you don’t serve it for a few days, as long as it’s covered up in the freezer, it will come out perfect.

A sweet little Irish wish for you:

Sláinte chuig na fir, agus go mairfidh na mná go deo!
(Health to the men and may the women live forever)

Okay, maybe a little nicer:
May your home always be too small to hold all of your friends.

Sundae Swirls



sundae swirls teacup with watermarkWhen we moved from the city to the country seven years ago we knew we would be making some concessions. There would be no malls, Starbucks, pizza delivery, or ballet. What we didn’t understand, and trust me, we might have reconsidered, was that there would be no Dairy Queen.

We used to live less than ten minutes away from our local DQ and often flipped a coin to see who’d make the drive for Peanut Buster Parfaits or Buster Bars. Every once in a while one of us will suggest that the other “run down” and get one of these treats, and then we laugh like hyenas. After seven years I thought I had successfully managed my addiction.

Then I visited my son in California, and was treated to a Buster Bar. Vanilla ice cream with fudgy, peanutty layers. The longing hasn’t left me since.

So…there I was, sitting in my chair, fantasizing about Buster Bars, when an idea for a cookie came to me. The inspiration may have been from DQ, but the cookie took on a life of its own. And it only took me two tries to get exactly what I imagined: a vanilla dough with swirls of chocolate and peanuts.


Sundae Swirls with watermark

Maybe if I put a glob of vanilla ice cream between two of them….
ice cream sandwich

Sundae Swirls
Print

Author:
Makes approximately 36 cookies
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup coconut oil (you may substitute shortening if you prefer)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla (yes…you want a LOT of vanilla flavor!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 8 ounces chocolate, melted and cooled (chips are fine…semisweet or milk)
  • 1½ cups lightly salted Spanish peanuts
Instructions
  1. Cream together the coconut oil (or shortening) and butter.
  2. Add the brown sugar and white sugar and beat well.
  3. Add the milk, vanilla, and eggs. Beat for one minute.
  4. Add the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Stir until well combined.
  5. Working with half of the dough at a time, place the dough on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Dust the top with flour and put another piece of parchment over the dough. Roll out into a 12-inch by 8-inch rectangle, with the long side facing you. Use your hands or a spatula to shape the dough if necessary to get the sides straight.
  6. Spread half of the melted chocolate on the dough, leaving a ½-inch clean edge, and sprinkle with half of the peanuts.
  7. Starting at the edge closest to you, roll up the dough like you would for cinnamon rolls. It may help to use the parchment to lift and help roll the dough. Try to keep it snug, with no air pockets.
  8. Roll up the roll of dough in the parchment and place in the refrigerator. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
  9. Allow the rolls to chill for 2 hours.
  10. Heat oven to 375 F.
  11. Slice the rolls into ½-inch slices and place 1″ apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  12. Bake for 11-12 minutes, or until they begin to brown. For softer cookies, bake them to a golden brown. For crispier cookies, let them get a little darker.
  13. Cool thoroughly on racks until the chocolate is firm.

 

Put dough on floured parchment and roll it around to coat lightly

Put dough on floured parchment and roll it around to coat lightly

Yes, I roasted my own peanuts. I do NOT expect you to do that!

Yes, I roasted my own peanuts. I do NOT expect you to do that!

Roll dough out to 8"x12". Spread with chocolate and peanuts.

Roll dough out to 8″x12″. Spread with chocolate and peanuts.

Use the parchment to help roll it up

Use the parchment to help roll it up

Rolled and ready to wrap in parchment

Rolled and ready to wrap in parchment and chill

Chill and slice

Chilled and sliced

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

Baked to perfection!

Baked to perfection!



sundae swirls for header with watermark
These cookies won’t drip down my chin or give me brain freeze, but I guess if I get to hankerin’ (that’s how we talk here in the country) for a DQ fix I could pop a couple of them in the freezer and get my “frozen treat” experience. Sigh.

Chocolate Mint Swirl Zucchini Bread

Green and Spring

By now you may have realized that my cohorts (my mental health support group…my partners in crime) and I are on a roll! We had so much fun with our December group post featuring cakes that we decided to create a new series of recipes each month. We brought you dips in January. February was “Love and Food”. Now we are “Celebrating Green and Welcoming Spring” with recipes that include a naturally green ingredient. This was a little challenging for me since I love to make EVERYTHING green on St. Patrick’s Day, using copious quantities of green food coloring…which was not an option.


chocolate mint zucchini swirl bread w watermark
Zucchini was my “green” of choice, and I added a little spirulina (you can buy a small amount of it in bulk at most natural food stores) to deepen the color of a chocolate swirl zucchini bread. I originally used Irish Cream in the recipe, but even with the spirulina it just wasn’t green enough, and though it was tasty, I really wanted a little more flavor. Chocolate mint is a combination I love, so I swapped out Creme de Menthe for the Irish Cream and was very, very satisfied. Not a natural green source, of course, but I figure the zucchini and spirulina bought me a little leeway.

Either way is good, so I’m leaving the choice up to you. Or, if you really don’t want to use booze, you can always substitute milk and add teaspoon of peppermint extract for flavor.

Chocolate Mint Zucchini Swirl Bread
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Author:
Makes 2 loaves
Ingredients
  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 cups grated zucchini
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • ½ cup buttermilk (or regular milk and a teaspoon of lemon juice)
  • ¼ cup strong coffee, cooled
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • ⅓ cup creme de menthe
  • ¼ teaspoon spirulina (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Prepare two loaf pans by greasing and flouring, or using an oil/flour spray (like Baker’s Joy)
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and walnuts. Add the grated zucchini and toss to coat.
  4. In medium bowl, whisk the eggs well. Add the oil and buttermilk and whisk until combined.
  5. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients (don’t put the medium bowl in the sink – you’ll use it in a minute) and stir just until most of the flour is incorporated. Put half of the mixture back in the medium bowl.
  6. To one bowl add the coffee and melted chocolate, and stir until it is combined. Don’t overstir!
  7. To the other bowl add the creme de menthe and spirulina. Stir until just combined.
  8. Divide the chocolate mixture evenly between the two loaf pans. Pour the green mixture over the chocolate mixture and swirl a little with a rubber spatula or table knife.
  9. Bake for approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Cooking time will depend on the size of your loaf pans. When I used slightly smaller pans the bread took a few more minutes to bake.
  10. Remove pans to a rack and allow them to cool for 10 minutes before turning the bread out. Allow bread to cool completely before cutting.

 

Dry ingredients in one, liquids in the other.

Dry ingredients in one, liquids in the other.

Add liquids to dry ingredients.

Add liquids to dry ingredients.

Adding chocolate and coffee to half the batter

Adding chocolate and coffee to half the batter

Pour the green layer over the chocolate layer

Pour the green layer over the chocolate layer

Give it a swirl!

Give it a swirl!

Cooling before they're sliced

Cooling before they’re sliced



Mmm, mmm good.

Mmm, mmm good.

Here are links to the other recipes this month. Please visit the ones that have already been posted – there are some impressive ideas from some very talented gals – and then check back because I’ll add the new recipe links as they’re presented.

3/4/14 Pistachio Blueberry Cupcakes, from Baking In a Tornado
3/5/14 Key Lime Chiffon Cake, from Crumbs in My Mustachio
3/6/14 Colcannon Cheesy Potatoes with Kale, from Lemony Thyme
3/7/14 Asian Salad with Chicken, from Tampa Cake Girl
3/10/14 My Chocolate Mint Swirl Zucchini Bread
3/11/14 Roasted Tomato Spinach focaccia with Parm from Cooking from a SAHM
3/12/14 Lox Me Up and Throw Away the Key from Moore or Less Cooking Blog
3/13/14 Maple Poached Pear Salad with Walnut Crusted Goat Cheese from Hun…What’s for Dinner?

and still to come:

3/14/14 Manila Spoon

Fly on the Wall, Yo Ho Yo Ho edition

Fly on the Wall

Every month you’re invited to Fly on the Wall Friday, where a group of bloggers show you what’s been happening in their homes. You’ll see and hear things that will make you smile, gasp, and shake your head. Little moments we share (wisely or not) with flies who are brave enough to hang out on our walls.

fly1gifcropped

I’ve had an eventful month. Not necessarily in a good way, though it started OUT okay. Bear with me – this could get a little lengthy.

My birthday was the end of January, and was an absolute riot. The crazy group of gals I hooked up with (um…not sure that’s a good phrase) to share a group post of recipes each month on our blogs decided to bomb my Rowdy Baker Facebook page with hysterical posts. It kept me busy all day just keeping up with all of them. You should go there and scroll down. Seriously funny stuff. Lots of love from everyone. I think my favorite was a photo of a cake my daughter found…with Tom Selleck on it. It just doesn’t get better than that!!! That man makes my toes curl.

The girls call me "Eema", so that's close enough!

The girls call me “Eema”, so that’s close enough!

fly1gifcropped

And then, a couple of days later, THE SEAHAWKS WON THE SUPERBOWL! I’m not a huge sports fan, but since I lived in the Seattle area for 50 years, there was no way to avoid getting sucked up in the excitement. Woo HOO! Here’s a shortbread cookie I made. Did you notice I said “a”? After a ridiculous amount of effort, I got one to almost come out right. I quit while I was ahead. gohawks

fly1gifcropped

Here’s where things start to get a little dicey. My grandson Mack was having his first birthday, and I really, really wanted to be there. The last time I saw him he was a newborn. Keep this in mind when you’re questioning my sanity later, okay? A grandma’s urge to see her littles is very, very strong. To sweeten the pot, my daughter told me they were going the surprise the girls with a trip to Disneyland a few days later, and if I could get down there (Northern California) and back, they’d love to have me go with them.

Normally I wouldn’t even consider driving in February – in fact, we’re usually snowed in. But…it was a mild winter and the passes to California looked pretty good. I could have (SHOULD HAVE) flown, but if I drove there was the added incentive of saving a few bucks and being able to drive to my son’s for a visit too. The Man has a tendency to look on the dark side of things, and I’m a raving optimist, so as usual, I blew off all his cautions and concerns. If it snowed up north I’d just stay longer in California. Off I went, car spit-shined, oil checked, and dashboard sporting the GPS he bought me for my birthday.

I had my last physical therapy appointment that morning, and my PT and I did a last check of the weather. It showed the possibility of a little light snow, but pretty much clear sailing. Ha… HA HA HA!

I’d almost reached Oregon when it was obvious I was in trouble. Snow was blowing so hard around the cars and big trucks that I was getting disoriented. I had to cross my fingers and aim between two posts for an exit the GPS told me to take, because I couldn’t see where it was exactly. Gonna tell you right now, it was a white knuckle ride and there was no place to get off the highway.

I have a new pet peeve. Semi trucks should not be allowed to be white. Nope. I was behind a “ghost” truck – totally white, with its tail lights obliterated by packed snow. I would try to trail far behind it, but the next thing I knew it was right there. Scary stuff.

My plan was to get to Madras, Oregon for the night and continue in the morning, and I made it. Barely. I was a shaky mess when I checked in. Continuing in the morning was a no-go. The Oregon trip cameras were daunting, and I could stand in my motel window and watch cars in trouble on the street. I booked another night.

From my window, second night.

From my window, second night.

Now in case anyone was worried that I was starving, I’ll admit this: the first night I ate Triscuits and licorice that I had with me in the car. The next morning I gathered my courage and drove to the nearby grocery store, where I bought more nutritious foods. A salad, sliced ham, bread, peanut butter, jam, milk, cereal, hot dogs, chocolate covered raisins, Oreos. You know…just in case I was stuck there for a month. I had a microwave and a fridge in my room, internet, and a comfy bed. Not the worst situation. Yet.

Morning of day three. Yikes.

Morning of day three. Yikes.

This was more snow that this little town has seen – if not a record, it had to be close – so the snow plows were being run ragged. But even though the motel parking lot wasn’t plowed yet, there appeared to be a window of opportunity. After The Man checked the weather from home and I checked it from there, we decided that if I could just get onto the highway I should be able to get through the worst of it quickly. The snow was DEEP and even when I locked the car in 4WD, it wasn’t very cooperative.

That should have been my cue to book another night, right? Oh, Lord, I’m stubborn.

I finally got to the T where I could turn out of the motel lot. Right was uphill (the way I’d taken to the store) and my car was balking. Left was downhill…a more realistic option, except I couldn’t see exactly where the road went. I was directed to stay to the left of some posts and I’d get out to the road. Everything was white, and…well…I was looking at a completely different post. Let’s just say that I created a road where no road had ever been, and found myself down a slope in a wall of snow. End of my escape.

Wait. It gets better!

Soaking wet after climbing out of my hole and slogging the long way back to the office to call for road assistance, I was put on hold forever. Bless the gal behind the desk! She let me use their phone and drip on their rug. I finally hung up when I started shaking too bad to hold the phone. I had no choice but to go back to the car and bring up dry clothes and something to eat, because obviously I was there for another night. I got my room key back, and this is where things got bad.

My gloves were in the car. My snow boots with cleats were in the car. By the time I got down there and started digging through the suitcase for clothes, I think hypothermia was setting in, because I could not figure out what to grab. I got my computer because that was my only link to home. I got a change of clothes and a can of soup and for some reason the entire package of disposable bowls, and put them in a paper bag. Brilliant, huh? Snowing like crazy and I’m going to drag a paper bag all that way. I did not grab my gloves or my boots. My hands were freezing solid (it was 3 degrees out) and I just closed the door and headed back. Only I was panting and falling down and, just like in the pioneering books that I love, I wanted to stay down and rest, but I knew I couldn’t let that happen. Dropped the can of soup in the snow, and I know I dug it out, but I never saw it again. It probably fell out of the soggy paper bag! Half way back I knew I was in big trouble, having to rest every few steps. I knew I should let go of some of my stuff, but it was snowing so hard, it would be covered in minutes.

When I finally got back up to the motel parking area, my angel behind the desk (Tanya) saw me and helped me to my room. She had to pry my hands off the computer case and dig around in my pockets for the room key. Blue nail beds, palms, shins. A long hot shower and dry clothes helped, but if you’re wondering, it hurts like HELL when the blood moves back into frozen hands. And then I had to do it again, to show the tow truck guys where the car was. Their response? “Oh, my GOD!” and “NO WAY!” They said they wouldn’t even attempt to tow it until the snow melted some. Great.

I spent the next 14 hours in bed, getting warm, feeling very sorry for myself, and adding up the costs of this trip so far. I also a big bowl of homemade chili with the works that my new front desk best friend had her husband bring over for me. It’s a good thing, since that can of soup was under the snow somewhere. Now THAT is service. Shameless plug here: if you’re ever in Madras, I highly recommend the Econolodge. Not only do they treat you like family, there’s also a really good free breakfast with fresh waffles, sausage, and scrambled eggs. I can assure you I took complete advantage of that.

Okay, so I called the other towing company in town and coughed up an insane amount of money for a tow because even though the slope I went down wasn’t that steep (people walk up it to get into the parking lot) they played musical tow trucks for a while, and finally had to park the big truck waaaaaay back to be on an actual road. Lots of heavy cable used. The Man took exception to this, and apparently called to let them know of his displeasure. (It may have been insult to injury that I used his credit card number for this. Ahem.) They said it took 2 hours. Pffft. Not even close. But honestly? They were all tired and crabby from the unimaginable amount of tows they’d been providing, and I was lucky they did it, especially on a Sunday.

I made my escape on Monday and finally made it to my daughter’s that evening with little drama. Shaken, my confidence beaten to a bloody pulp, but so very grateful to have made it in one piece. And oh, so happy to see them all!

Greetings from my "other" granddaughter.

Greetings from my “other” granddaughter.

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A day of rest, and we were off to the happiest place on earth! A baby who was developing a double ear infection made the 11 hour drive a little less than festive, but strangely enough he always calms down to Christmas music, particularly “Big Fat Santa”. Bless you, Peggy Lee.

What can I say about Disneyland? Sore feet, smiles, and souvenirs! I hadn’t been to Disneyland since our kids were little, so it all seemed new to me. I loved watching all the impromptu dancing my youngest granddaughter managed to do with some of the park characters. My oldest granddaughter was more interested in making sure Grandma didn’t get lost!

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So. We had a suite with connecting rooms, my granddaughters and I in one, and Mom, Dad, and baby in the other. I’m starting to change clothes quickly to go back out when I see the youngest girl sitting on the bed with her shirt over her head. I ask her why, and she replies: “I DON’T want to see you naked!” Oh my. I guess there are some things that just can’t be unseen. Naked Grandma is probably pretty high on that list. I may have scarred her for life. Sorry, sweetie.

Which reminds me, did you know that it is actually possible to gain 5 pounds in 4 days when you are sitting on your butt on a motel bed eating junk food? Just sayin’.

Footsore and happy!

Footsore and happy!

We were on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride (my personal favorite) in the last area where the drunken pirates are trying to shoot the big barrels of black powder. Singing “YO HO YO HO, A PIRATE’S LIFE FOR ME.” Do you know why I put that in all caps? Because it’s freaking loud!!! It was even louder 15 minutes later when we were still sitting there because the ride broke. Every few minutes the voice would come on saying “we’ll be just a few minutes, thank you for your patience.” Crying baby, yelling pirates, and the same chunk of song over and over and over and over. The only good thing was that I was behind the poor people who had the big barrels hanging right over their heads. That would make me pee myself for sure. The ride jerked and started,(to loud cheers) then stopped again with (you guessed it) me under the barrels. It was a tense “few minutes” for me before they finally got us out of there.

I’ve got to admit, though – all you have to do now is start singing that song and we all crack up. It’s funny now.

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Here’s an entertaining video (honest!) my daughter and youngest granddaughter made, hitting the highlights of a trip to Disneyland as clearly as possible. I laugh every time I see it!fly1gifcropped

The ride home was a little tougher. Sad to leave and come back to reality land, and they were dragging home a sick Grandma. Figures. Nothing is going easily for me on this trip! My daughter has been plying me with creature comforts and has valiantly shopped three times for boxes of lotion enhanced Kleenex. Sore nose much?

Pneumonia? Bronchitis? One of the two – both were listed on the paperwork from the walk-in clinic. Sigh. I can tell you right now, the antibiotics and the inhaler both seem like a good idea. The codeine stuff that only helps me sleep long enough to wake up disoriented and in a panic? Not so helpful.

And I sure hope the steroids don’t make me go home with a beard and deep voice, because this has turned into one expensive, stressful trip, and though I’m sure The Man will be relieved to see me, I’m certain to be in line for some “I told you so’s.” It’s pretty hard to pull off the “poor little me” bit when you’re singing bass.

And I still have the drive home to face.

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Speaking of The Man, we send out Valentines every year instead of Christmas cards. Here’s the photo that was on the front of this year’s card. It shows him pouting because he’s left alone feeding the chickens, dog, and cats. I’ll bet after all the excitement I’ve had on the trip this far he’s starting to feel pretty lucky after all!

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If I haven’t made you want to beat your little head against the wall while you’re hanging there, please go buzz around these other blogs for a while, and see what THEY do and say when they think no one is there!

Baking In a Tornado
Just a Little Nutty
Menopausal Mother
The Sadder But Wiser Girl
Follow Me Home
Spatulas on Parade
Stacy Sews and Schools
Searching for Sanity
The Lazy Mom’s Cooking Blog
Dates 2 Diapers 2
Spinster Snacks