Thursday, March 26, 2009

Is it marshmallows yet?

Or is it cake?
For some strange reason, my oldest daughter finds cooking to be a very excellent way to relax when she is stressed. That and reading seem to be her top two ways to relax. (Don't ask me. I have no idea where those come from. No idea whatsoever. Really, I don't.) Any way, the last several weeks before her spring break she had been under stress. It might have something to do with taking 18 hours of upper level mathematics and anthropology courses this semester and running tech stuff for two plays back to back, or maybe not. I vote on the side of maybe yes. (Why no, she has not suffered from being bored much in her life. Good thing too, as that is a personal problem and if someone decides to involve me in their personal boredom problem, they get put to work, doing things like cleaning the garage without it being an extra paying job. The alternative would be to ask if I a had any extra chores that needed doing to earn extra money. Either way I got the garage clean, but one way involved a lot less whining. Not that she suffers from problems with whining much either. She, and her younger sister are both pretty good at learning from other people's examples. But I digress.)
So while she was home she spent time reading and some time cooking ('cause really, how much time do you get to cook if you get out of class at 5 PM and call is at 5 PM? Oh, well, for her it was changed to "after you have grabbed some dinner," aka 5:30). She also got to enjoy having someone else cook for her (but you know, it was terrible hardship for me to have to cook for someone I love).
For St. Patrick's day we made a Chocolate Stout Cake, just because, well you know, we could.
So now I suppose you want to know about those marshmallows, don't you? OK, here's the deal. I drove up on a Saturday to pick her up, but we weren't going to leave until Sunday, as she had light board to run Saturday night. The show was sold out several days in advance and she wasn't able to get a ticket for me, so I had some free time on my hands after she reported to call. She told me the best way to get to the Lake/beach, so I could wander about, see stuff, and take pictures. She also told me that if I should happen to wander into the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, she would not be opposed to me bringing an Apple Pie (Caramel) Apple back with me, "Or a caramel covered Marshmallow. You decide which one you want. I am fine with either one. But only if you want to." What can I say? She got both. Thus came the inspiration for us to make our own caramel covered marshmallows. (Oddly they aren't on the menu on the website. Maybe they are a specialty to certain stores, or certain times of the year?)
So, really these are pretty easy to make, they pretty much are just like they sound, except for the lack of the word "chocolate" in what I have been calling them. So the basic run-through is stick some skewers (or sucker sticks, but we didn't have any of those around that day) into marshmallows, dip them into melted caramel, let that set up and then dip/drizzle chocolate over them.
You could melt caramels just like you would do for dipping apples, either the unwrapped candies or the Kraft Caramel Bits that they sell in the baking section with the chocolate chips. (What? you didn't know about these? You are missing out on a good thing.) Or you could do what we did and make a batch of caramels from scratch (plus side of that is then you get to have homemade caramels from the leftovers). DTE put three marshmallows per skewer (though you could do just one per stick if you wanted to make them for small people appetites) and I lined the baking sheet with parchment paper and greased the pan for the extra caramels. (Parchment paper is one of my favorite kitchen tools. I buy it by the case. I probably have a lifetime supply unless a bunch of it goes to live at the DT's kitchens in the future.) We used bagged marshmallows; we have never made our own, though they are on the list of "things to make someday." Anyway, then the caramels were made (Joy of Cooking), and allowed it to cool some so as not to melt the marshmallows when the two came into contact. (How cool? That is pretty much a play it by eye thing. I am sure you know what I mean if you really are going to go to all the trouble to make these. Not to be made by people who are not allowed near hot stoves and sugar syrup. I think she put at least some of the marshmallows into the freezer to cut down on the melting of marshmallows, but I am not certain.) Dip marshmallows into caramel, or spoon over, whichever you decide works best for you. Anyway, let the caramel covering set up and then cover with melted chocolate if you want. DTE used dark chocolate (it was left over from the dark chocolate for the cake frosting), though the ones from TRMCF were covered in milk chocolate (they also did three per skewer). As I recall some of he ones they had in the display case also had the ends dipped in sprinkles or chopped nuts.
Given that I hadn't really been thinking about needing to explain this whole process while we were doing it, and that I was enjoying hanging out in the kitchen with DTE, we only have pictures of the finished product, not of the stages. If/when we make them again we might go foe the stage pictures, but no promises.
So now that I have given you all a very long answer to such a short question, I have a question for you. Should I give you some pictures of the still partly frozen lake and the stuff I saw while walking around?

Nope, no marshmallows here either,

but there are socks, and another baby hat.


 

There is a guy who works at the coffee shop where our knitting group meets and he is really wonderful to us, always friendly, and an all around great guy. When I found out that his wife was going to have a baby (not their first), of course I wanted to make something for them as a small token of of thanks for how wonderful he has been to us! They already knew it was going to be a boy, so I made my standard baby hat in blue, with matching socks.
Last night was the first time I had seen him since the baby was born a couple of weeks ago, so I delivered them to him. He was very touched and thought they were really cute. I even got to see pictures of his whole family enjoying their new brother!
(This brings me to 5 of 12, just in case anyone is wondering. Though I do have half of #6 done. Oh, and a tailor's ham is perfect for steam blocking a baby hat!)

No, this isn't marshmallows,

it is Bassets on Thursday. (Opposed to Dogs on Thursday, which you might remember that I have stated before I am just not sure my dogs are exciting enough to make it worth signing up for. I am sure a moderator will weigh in on that subject.) Anyhow, this post is about the dogs, as it were.
One night a couple of weeks ago a rather unusual thing had happened; Sadie went to bed without me! Really, this is not normal behavior for her. Simon will always go to bed when Hubband does, but Sadie usually hangs out on the stair landing if I am in the kitchen, or in the family room with me until I head upstairs. Sometimes she decides she want to go to bed and will fuss and whine at me to finish what I am doing and go to bed, just so she can!
Anyway, this was what I saw when I went in the bedroom. Sadie, all tucked in and fast asleep, without me having to tell her it was time to wake up to go to bed.
 

Of course Simon had gone to bed as well, but that was a given, since Hubband was fast asleep and didn't notice the flash going off near him. (Actually, the dogs were oblivious to it as well. And while we are speaking parenthetically, please ignore the dried slobber on Simon.)
 

Do you see this beautiful ear? There is a sad tale about this ear, and the other one. They used to let him know when our car or truck was coming down the road when he was outside (he could tell the difference between them based on sound), told him when the garage door opened and someone was home, or when food was falling into their dishes, even when he was fast asleep. Now these ears have failed him terribly. He can't hear the doorbell to let him know the mailman has come to visit, he can't hear us call him to dinner or inside the house, the garage open or Hubband's voice when he comes home, he can't hear any of us walk up to him, so is always startled when we reach out gently to wake him up for something or someone walks up behind him. It is rather sad for him, and it means we need to be extra careful that he doesn't get loose since he would never hear us calling him or a car coming.
There is one upside though. He has always hated baths and went to great lengths to avoid going near the bathroom or coming back inside when he heard the bathtub running. A week ago the weather was warm enough for the dogs to get baths and Simon didn't hear a thing and Hubband was able to run the water and lead him right into the bathroom before he realized what was happening.
Unfortunately, the route to the vet's office is not based on sound. I need to take both of those Sleeping Cuties to get their claws clipped and there is only one thing in life Simon hates more than a bath, and that is to have his feet touched/claws clipped. He hates it enough to make a huge fuss, whining and howling about it. In fact, when I call to make the appointment, the receptionist often says something about they will prepare themselves and make sure the techs doing his have their ear plugs handy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ok, I know you have all been waiting

for pictures and information about caramel covered marshmallows (though they also got a dousing of chocolate) and you might be wanting an Oribel update today. Well, lets go with the Oribel thing for now, and see how awake I am after that. Maybe you'll get marshmallows yet tonight, or maybe tomorrow instead.
(Time out. Someone just decided she needed a snuggle.)
OK, I'm back, she's done and is now dragging around a piece of ribbon and watching it follow her. (No, I don't think I'll be able to catch a picture of that this time. I am sure it will happen again.)
I am sure that most of you out there know that Oribel has a bit of a yarn obsession (it is right up there with kitty treats and Kitty Crack Toys). It is not unusual for the skein or ball of yarn for a project I am working on to suddenly jump from my lap or hop out of the bag and go dashing across the room.
Well, a couple of weeks ago I was hanging out, working on a sock and she was hanging out with me, behaving herself. (Not that I actually believed it was going to last for long.)
 

Yep, just as expected, the skein of yarn went AWOL.
 

This is where it stopped for a little bit, before embarking for the stairs. At that point I went to rescue the yarn and somehow in the process of the about-face the yarn took to hide under the bed, it got wrapped around one of her back feet. That, of course, turned into a major ordeal because she was upset about her foot being tangled up in yarn, but she wasn't about to let me help her with it since that would mean I would have to touch her foot! (Oh no! Not the dreaded foot touching!) I wound up having to cut the yarn to get the ball loose, but she had a section still tangled around her foot and following her everywhere. I needed to figure out a way to either get it off of her, or at least clip it close to her foot (without getting flayed or bit in the process), considering she was very intent on eating it. After much hissing, growling, et caetera (I should have just gone downstairs and gotten the leather welders/grilling gloves, but I didn't really think of that at the time), I was able to cut the yarn close to her foot, leaving just a small bit still wrapped around it, which promptly fell off. About two or three hours later I was stuffing her in Sadie's old puppy crate to go have her claws clipped; luckily the people she loves to let touch her feet didn't have deal with the last bit of yarn.
FYI, the figuring out how to protect myself, to hold her still after capturing her, and run the scissors near her thrashing foot, all at the same time and then the execution thereof took a lot longer than the actual "steal the yarn, get tangled up, and cut the ball loose" part.

Don't forget that today is Whiskers on Wednesday!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ahh! Gee! Thanks everyone!

Well, I really hadn't been meaning to come across as being down on myself. I was really feeling sorry for you folks! But I will say I am very glad to hear that none of you are terribly upset to not have heard or gotten emails from me recently. Seriously, next week might be better, 'cause it will be just me and the wildlife (and the two non-wild ones).
I promise to give you info and pictures of the marshmallow experiment on Saturday or Sunday, but I need to be off to bed early tonight (aka before 11 PM). DTE's spring break is coming to an end and we are heading back north early in the morning and then I am driving back home in the afternoon. All that means eight hours plus of drive-time, on winter-weary roads. (No, I don't usually chose to do the round trip in one day, but she is rested up to help drive, and I prefer to spend the weekend with Hubband before he leaves.)
See you all soon!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I am beginning to think

that I pretty much suck at the whole "Internet friend" thing. I mean, people leave me comments on the blog (which I love getting) and I don't respond back or leave them comments very often(both of which I think sucks); people send me emails and cool "I am thinking/caring about you" stuff (which I also love) and I don't respond, or send them on to people I think/care about (which I also think kind of sucks).
Then there is the whole falling off the face of the earth out of the Internet tubes thing for days on end. I am not talking just the "not posting on the blog" here, I am talking the not writing emails to folks at all, even though I am thinking about them and the things I want to tell them about what I am reading. Yeah, I pretty much suck at this Internet-friendship thing sometimes. Maybe next week will be better. Right now I think I will go see if DTE needs help making caramel covered marshmallows.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I am going North tomorrow,

to explore North images, see some big rocks, get new pictures and inspirations. Well, to do and get all that, and DTE too.

They go together

I know I showed you this picture already for March 10,


 

but these go with it.

They aren't dead,

they are taking a long winter nap. If they were dead, they would look like this tree in our yard,


 

and would be home to some of Oribel's favorite channel on "Kitty TV".

PS4

North March 9
6 PM

 

North March 10
7:30 AM

 

North March 11
5:50 PM

 

North March 12
6:50 PM

 

North March 13
10:20 AM

Thursday, March 12, 2009

If I had had my act together yesterday,

there would have been a WoW post, and this is what you would've gotten.

Oribel was helping watching me wash dishes, and keeping track of her kingdom for invaders at the same time.


 

Sure enough, she spotted one!
 

It moved in closer,
 
even closer, and onto the deck, so of course that required a different approach.


video

(As always, you can click on teh pictures to get a better view of her nemesis.)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Boston Brown Bread (a la MIL)

One of my family's favorite foods from Hubband's mother is her Boston Brown Bread. Recently I shared some with several friends, and was asked if I could share the recipe. So I asked my MIL if it would be alright to share the recipe here with all of you and, being the sweet lady she is, of course she said,"Yes."


You will need four empty cans, about 28 ounce (796 mL) size. (No this one isn't empty, but I am showing it to you for a "rough" example of what size you need. I bought it special, just for you all out there and this recipe post. Think also of "family size" soup cans, since that is what my MIL uses). Grease your clean and dry cans and set aside.
You can preheat your oven to 225° now if you want, or you can turn it on to that temperature when you are ready to put your bread loaves in the oven. You get to pick when, just don't forget to turn it on.
 

Mix together in a large bowl:
1 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 tsp baking soda
 

Add and stir to combine:
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
 

Add and mix in:
1 cup of raisins (If a few extra fall in, nothing horrible will happen. I promise, I have never been struck by lightening when extra fall into my BBB, and extras are always falling in when I make it. If you are thinking you will be sharing this with your dogs, you can leave them out, but yes, I am sure diced dried apples will be fine. Let me know how it turns out when you do it.)
 

Fill each of your greased cans half full with batter (which will be thick). I promise, you really don't want to over fill your cans!
 

Cover each can with greased foil and bake at 225° for 2 1/2 hours. Test with a long skewer to make sure it is done all the way through.
 

Remove from oven, remove foil and let cool on a rack for about 40 minutes.
 

(See why you don't want to overfill your cans?)
 

After the forty minutes are up, run a knife around the bread in the can, and remove. Let sit on rack to finish cooling.

My MIL's mother used to use screw-top coffee cans in a steamer, as did my MIL. But, "When we were planning to go to Indiana for a year I debated whether I should take the steamer and cans which I had been given after her death. A friend told me that since the cans were covered I didn't need the steam - I just needed to keep the temperature about what the steam would be. I started doing it in the oven. This meant I could do two batches at a time. I switched to tall Welch's grape juice cans and aluminum foil which made 3 loaves per recipe. When the tall cans were no longer available I used shorter V8 juice cans and now use the family size soup cans (4 cans per recipe)."

Super easy to make, well worth the time, and "Oh, so very delicious!" (No mixers involved, so safe for someone to do with her kids). Store in the refrigerator, and it freezes well.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sock knitting

I have been knitting away on (half of) a pair of socks, watching it grow, and loving the colors. It has grown from a tiny bit of ribbing since you saw it last, to having a heel and most of a foot in the last few days.
 

This afternoon I pulled it out to help it finish growing to the point of being ready for a toe, and discovered a problem. I have heard of a few folks having trouble with the join of these needles, so I thought I might be able to stick them back together, and I could at least check out the policy on replacement.
 

But then I found the other end in my sock bag, and discovered the situation was much worse than I had first thought. Fortunately, I do have some DPNs in this size, so tomorrow I will be transferring stitches (and probably seeing about getting a new long circular in this size). Needless to say, I was disappointed about this development, but am glad I found out about it before heading out with it as my project for tonight!
(I might have another pair, or three, in process as well.)



 

I have knitting and life content,

but need to leave for pot-luck and movies. I am taking this Asian Noodle Salad, and will get back to you later tonight with some of the life and knitting stuff.

PS4 March 7 and 8

North March 7, 8:30 AM
 

North March 8, 3:30 PM

Friday, March 6, 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

PS4 March 5

North 2:30 PM
The first part of Project Spectrum involves the following information
NORTH (March/April)
Color: Green
Material: Stones/Gems/Rocks
Season: Winter
Element: Earth


Lolly, the genius behind PS, suggested the other day to face North and take a picture of what you see. Thus, the pictures of the trees/yard yesterday. Today I went out and wandered about the yard, looking for green, things that reminded me of the earth and my connection to it, and bits of winter. I never cease to be amazed at the moss and lichens that grow on everything around here. If I had wandered a bit out into the forest, I am sure I would have seen some on rocks as well. I am thinking it would be fun to take a picture everyday to watch the season change.











 

Jelly-ear Fungus