Thursday, January 21, 2016

HEAVENLY PORTIONS


After hearing that a 9th planet may have been discovered, we had to celebrate with my favorite dessert: Banana Pudding.  I know this was a fitting choice, because when I ate it, it was like eating a piece of heaven.


I use my own recipe for the pudding, which is a bit like Aunt Irene's:

VANILLA PUDDING

2/3 C. sugar
1/3 C. cornstarch
2 1/2 C. milk (even low-fat milk works just fine)
2 eggs, well beaten
2 T. butter
1 tsp. vanilla (which I often forget to put in)

In a 1 quart container:  Blend sugar and cornstarch.  Gradually stir in milk, mixing well.

Microwave on HIGH for 5-7 minutes, whisking/stirring every 3 minutes, until thickened, smooth, and clear:  until it looks like pudding!

Drizzle (stirring madly) a small amount (perhaps 1 cup) of hot pudding gradually into the egg.  Then return the egg mixture to the hot pudding, mixing well.

Microwave on MEDIUM LOW (#7 out of 10) for 1 to 5 minutes, stirring after each minute, until it is smooth and thickened.  I do sometimes have trouble with this step; sometimes it really thins out and I don't know why.  So keep at it till it thickens.  Someone has suggested not to let it get over 180 degrees hot?

Add butter and vanilla.

Now, you're supposed to wait until the pudding cools before adding bananas and graham crackers. This is the hardest part of the recipe!  My son has suggested that you make a double batch of the pudding so that you can eat some of it plain while it's hot.  This will hold off your anxiety until the pudding cools enough to be used for the BANANA part.

This plan works well.

BANANA PUDDING (SOME CALL IT REFRIGERATOR PUDDING)

The proportions depend upon your taste, but the general idea is to make it in layers:  pudding, graham cracker crumbs Kinnickinick makes great GF ones), sliced bananas.  Again and again until you've reached the end of the pudding.

It is SO GOOD!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

JUST CAN'T BE BEAT


I have a strong nervousness about using food that comes directly from China.  I'm sure you've read the news reports and understand why.  But there's one item from China I can't seem to avoid: powdered garlic. So I went on a quest to see if I could find a way.

To make your own powdered garlic sounds like an exciting prospect.  Just imagine the freshness, along with the happiness of having something you made yourself.  Empowerment!  Healthiness! Improved taste! I am super excited about this idea.

I never would have gotten around to it except that I saw pre-peeled garlic at Sams' Club for an incredibly cheap price.  What a fantastic opportunity.

So I sliced it thin and popped it into the oven to dehydrate.  Unfortunately, mine took hours longer (i.e., 48 hours) instead of the 2 hours that I was told.  (This may have been due to my oven and its specialized dehydrating instructions, which included having the oven door slightly open)

The end product is wonderful.  And a sadly depressing small amount, given the labor.


Here's the funny thing, though.  At the end, I realized I had never asked myself where the garlic came from.  And....you guessed it:  the inexpensive peeled garlic came from China!!



Friday, November 6, 2015

AUTUMN JOYS


This photo shows both the sadness and the great joy that comes with fall.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

NEW CHAIRS


I heard that you can rejuvenate your plastic deck furniture with spray paint made for plastics, so I decided to try it. Imagine the possibilities!

Videos on Youtube helped me out a lot, but the weather in western PA didn't.  The spray paint directions desired below a humidity of 60% and my town just couldn't do it.

For a long time.

So it kinda took all summer.

This is one of the finished chairs.


The other chair is dark green, and the table has dark green legs with a bright green top.  Here's the table "in process."



If you decide to make yourself a polka-dot item, be sure to let me see a photo!


Sunday, November 1, 2015

IT'S TIME


I have long been a fan of clocks; I'm sure it's because my mother is a collector and I grew up with the sound of the cuckoo clock keeping time in the wee hours of my night.

But I've never done much about my interest.  When the boys were little, I bought a small cuckoo clock that I wind daily; and then I adore the Audubon clock that has a different bird chirp each hour. Quite often instead of saying to myself "Oh, it's 11 o'clock" I will say "Oh, it's the 11 o'clock bird".

But what I really like is what my mother has:  the antique "gingerbread" shelf clocks we inherited from my great-grandparents' households.  These American clocks (New England area) were made in the late 1800's and early 1900's, using technology that made clocks an affordable household item for many families.

So I bought one.  I am appreciating it SO much.


It was made by the Gilbert Company (Connecticut) in 1911.  It keeps great time, and I bought it from an expert who cleaned and serviced it before the clock came to me.  It has a strong, low "bong".

Well, in my opinion, clocks are like Lays Potato Chips--"you can't have just one".  Yesterday, another clock from Ben Kniskern's shop arrived and it is precious too.  This Seth Thomas shelf clock has a quieter chime than the Gilbert, but still rich and pleasing.



I am LOVING these clocks!  Christmas has already arrived here!


Saturday, April 4, 2015

TAKING THE EASY ROAD


I might aspire to fun and fancy foods, but when it comes down to the bottom line, I always choose the easy way.  So when I had a hankering to make a "nest with cute egg" dessert for Easter, the only choices I found just sounded a le-e-e-tle bit too difficult or time-consuming.

So I adapted a recipe I already had in my box!  Known as Mud Cookies, Wax Paper Cookies, and No- Bake Cookies, these make excellent gluten-free bird nests.



WAX PAPER COOKIES

3/4 C. sugar
2 T. baking cocoa
1/4 C. butter
1/4 C. milk

1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 C. peanut butter
2 C. uncooked gluten-free oats

candy that looks like small bird eggs, such as jelly beans (malted bird eggs are NOT GF)


1.  Decide what type of pan you will use.  Tiny muffin tins make small nests, but you can also place wax paper onto a cookie sheet and just shape the nests with a spoon.  You can see in the photo that I tried it both ways--the muffin tins are toward the front and the hand-shaped are toward the back.

2.  Combine the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan.  Stir to a boil over medium heat and boil for 1 minute.

3.  Stirring constantly, add the next 3 ingredients.

4.  Quickly drop the cookies with a teaspoon into tiny muffin tins or onto wax paper.  Place a candy egg onto each one.

5.  Put the pans into the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes to help them harden well; then you can remove them and display how you wish.

BUTTER LAMBS

Reposted from 2009

BUTTER LAMBS

Years ago when my husband and I lived in Buffalo, New York, there was (and still is) a big Polish Catholic tradition of purchasing butter in the shape of a lamb for your Easter celebration.

I don't ban the bunnies, but I feel a lot happier with a few lambs and crosses around my house, especially at this time of the year.  Those sorts of things are getting more difficult to find nowadays on account of having to make store shelf room for the camouflage plastic eggs and the Barbie tin pails that someone out there feels is a MUST-HAVE for your modern egg hunt (I have to admit that those little rubber duckies they have this year are adorable!).

So when we lived in Buffalo, I joyously bought my butter lamb every year. When we left Buffalo, I was very sad to have no more.  So I make my own now.

Some people make a "wooly" lamb by making the butter all squiggly through a garlic press, but I just use a plastic mold that you might buy for making chocolate lambs.   I have 2 kinds:  one has a front and a back that makes a whole lamb, and the other is for chocolate lollipops--the front of a lamb without a back.


You can purchase a whole lamb mold at a baking supplies shop or at the Polish Art Center.

Here's how to make a butter lamb!

1.  Using clean hands or the tip of a table knife, press semi-firm butter into the molds.  Keep looking on the front-side as you're pressing, to make sure you get the air bubbles out.


2.  Scrape the back-sides level, wipe off the excess around the edges, and attach the two sides together.


3.  Put in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

4.  Carefully take the lamb out of the mold.  Using a knife and/or paper towel, trim the excess off the seams.


5.  Traditionally, peppercorns are used for the eyes; I melt a few chocolate chips and use a toothpick to paint the eyes.

6.  Traditionally, the lamb has a bow or sash, and a toothpick flag with a red cross is placed in his back.  I usually put a red or purple ribbon bow on mine, using melted chocolate to attach it.

May you have a blessed Easter, Friends!

"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all."  ~~Isaiah 53:6