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.
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


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.

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
Perfect for so many things! Layer it in a trifle, fill a cream puff, or eat it from a spoon 🙂
  • 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
  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


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.

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.

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
Delightful, soft cookies that are soft and delicate, but rich and flavorful. Makes 3 dozen.
  • 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 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
  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!

Pumpkin Pecan Raisin Cookie, from The Rowdy Baker


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
Makes 2 drinks.
  • 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)
  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!

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
Makes 1 loaf
  • 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)
  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 – The Rowdy Baker

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!