Monday, December 27, 2010

Split Pea Soup

Split pea soup at Christmas time has become a tradition in our family. Actually anything we do once and like becomes a tradition. My sister had a friend named Art and he brought a Honeybaked Ham to my parents house for a meal. Instant heaven. Once you eat the delicious sweet ham, you can't just throw away the bone! You have to make soup. A Honeybaked ham bone makes the world's best soup.

One complication of this tradition is that Tara is a vegetarian. We can't have a meal that exists solely of soup and bread as she will be reduced to eating only bread and that isn't nice. On the other hand I don't want to have to make two different meals...that isn't nice. So I make a ham based soup and a veggie based soup at the same time in two different pans. Here is how that works. Now, you have to understand that I don't rely on a recipe, so I make it slightly different each time. Here is how I made it this year.

Split Pea Soup....with and without ham!

Chicken broth..whatever you have on hand. I use what I have and water if needed or just water.
Vegetable broth....two cans
2 bags split peas
celery if you have some.
chopped garlic
A wee bit of olive oil, or skip the saute step and dump the veggies in the pot.

I chopped up the left over onion from the night before. It was a big one so it make about 1 1/2 cups. Then I chopped up about 15 or 20 mini carrots and a couple of celery sticks. I have never used celery and thought it would be nice.

Pour a couple of tablespoons of EVOO in a large stock pot and a medium sized saucepan. I put about 1/4 of the chopped veggies in the small pan and the rest in the large pan reserving the garlic. Garlic will turn bitter pretty quick, so I sauteed the veggies a few minutes over medium and then added the garlic. I have also just dumped them in the pan without oil and I don't notice a real difference in taste.

After the garlic cooked for about a minute...OK, let's be honest here. I don't time it. After I dumped in the garlic I dumped the ham bone in the big pot.

I added one and one half of the split peas and then added the chicken stock (I had one can) and poured in about 3 cups of water. I didn't wait or time anything. This is a EASY recipe!!

Then I added the last of the split peas to the smaller pan and pored in the 2 cans of vegetable stock. I turned up the heat to medium high on both pans. While I was waiting for the pans to boil, I cleaned up the kitchen and then after they boiled I turned down the pans and went in to rest. WHEW!

OK. In reality I came in and stirred every 30 minutes or so and had to turn down the heat a bit and once I had to add water to the ham based version as it was getting too thick, but basically I had 2 hours of nothin'. Hey! It's Christmas! I had a lot of recuperating to do! The hardest part is remembering which is the spoon I stir the ham based soup with and which is for the veggie version.

After 2 hours or three, who's counting? I took out the ham bone. Now I don't like to eat meat with fat or gristle, so I painstakingly cut off the parts I don't like and returned the chopped up bits to the soup. I might even add an extra slice or two of the ham all chopped up as I like a lot of ham in my soup. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Guess what? You are done, now! You can keep it warm on the stove while you make some sort of interesting bread. We just toasted some we had leftover from another meal. This is the meal I make after all the fancy holiday meals and it is really EASY. And it is DELICIOUS!

When our kids were little, Split Pea Soup was hard to say (you say it three times fast!) One of the kids, who shall be nameless, not to protect their privacy or anything, but because I can't remember, called it Spit Sea Poop. I must admit that we still call it that. There is a chance that you will also call it that, because the tongue finds that easier for some reason. Just don't slip up and call it that in a restaurant. But if you do, please let me know!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It snowed last week and as I look out our second floor office window, I can still see snow everywhere I look. It's starting to get thin, now, so I expect it won't be there in a day or two. I have been putting the hay in the run-in shed that Lee built and I am happy to see the horses in there from time to time. Lee finished it just in time.

I plan on rotating pastures in January. Then Libby and Claire will have to get used to going in the OTHER shed! At least I know that whether it is cold or hot, they can always find shelter if they need it. It is particularly important when I am at work and there is a weather change. I used to feel terrible if it suddenly came up storming and there was no way to get them to shelter.

Right now they have had blankets on since Wednesday. It is supposed to be 45 degrees on Tuesday, so maybe they can get them off then. I don't like to keep the blankets on too long in case they develop an area that is rubbed raw and I can't see it.

Lee got a post card in the mail the other day. A man had aerial pictures of our house and was selling them. What a cool idea. These were before Lee finished the second run-in shed, but you can see the materials in the field. Now you can see what a great place we have. Won't it make a wonderful B&B?

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I haven't written for some time. Between Thanksgiving and getting ready for Christmas, it seems like I have had no free time. In reality I have had quite a bit of free time, but I have chosen to spend it being a slug and reading and watching trashy television. Tara has gotten me hooked on 16 and Pregnant and we are enjoying the guilty pleasure of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills!!! Throw in a bunch of reading while petting kitties that miss me while I am at work and you can see that I have had no time . Really. None at all.

In the meantime, Lee has finished the run-in shed in the other pasture in time for the winter. I don't know whether the horses appreciate it, but I certainly do. He also has built a doggy prison in the basement. He walled off a portion of the basement that includes the dog door to the fenced-in garden area off the basement. Now the dog can stay warm in the basement or go out side and bark and sniff and do other doggy things. Unfortunately he can also climb up the gate and hop over it. We have been working on preventing his escapes, but every time we drive up he is waiting for us in the driveway with a sappy grin on his face. I don't care if he is out as long as he sticks around, but we worry he will run down the drive and get hit or lost, so we keep "improving" his prison.

We had a great Thanksgiving. My brother Roland and his wife Jane and her brother Mark came from Alexandria. Tara has been living with them while looking for work and she came also. My Aunt Suzy from North Carolina came and brought her daughter Saja, who also happens to be my cousin Saja. Saja brought her husband Beau and also her two daughters, Evan and Addison. They are intrepid mule drivers and horse visitors, so they were barely seen and hardly heard. They did show up to eat, however!

The Fincastle Library has had a lovely volunteer for some time now. Her name is Rupinder and she and her husband have come from New Zealand, and before that, India, to live here. Her husband Parminder works for a New Zealand manufacturing company in Buchanan and because Rupinder doesn't know many people in the area and she can't work yet, she has been volunteering EVERY DAY.

One day I was telling her that we would be closed for the holiday so that she should not come. I tried to explain the concept of the Thanksgiving holiday to her and ended up inviting Rupinder and her husband to come and join us. I told her it was about families getting together, but also about welcoming others! They were able to come and we had a great time. Rupinder is a good cook and she brought many Indian dishes for us all to enjoy. They are vegetarian and so is Tara so we had lots of dishes for them to try also.

And so that is how we came to recreate the original Thanksgiving. We Pilgrims to Virginia served our food and the Indian neighbors brought their food and we had a great meal in fellowship and Thanksgiving for all our blessings. A perfect day.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Beignets with Blueberry sauce

There is not much new happening at the farm. Lee finished the second run-in shed. He used the best of the bridge boards and the left over metal from the other outbuildings, so we saved a lot of money. Now the horses have a warm and dry place to go in each pasture, should they need it. This picture is a bit fuzzy. I took it from the upstairs office so I could get both sheds in one picture. There is a screen on the window, so there you have it....

I went for a visit to see Mom in California. It was nice to have a visit when everyone I was going to see was well and happy. It is still hectic, but worth the visit.

Due to a dearth of farm news, I have a wonderful recipe. We ran out of beignet mix and still wanted some. They have quite a few without any yeast, but this one sounded best. It was from with a few moderations and was delish. Don't leave out the blueberry sauce. Just because they don't do it that way at the Cafe Du Monde is no reason to leave it out. Try it and you may never have beignets without it!

Beignets with Blueberry Sauce


1 package frozen blueberries
1 cup sugar


1 cup warm milk
1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of butter
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for kneading

Oil or shortening for deep frying, I used canola
Powdered sugar

Place the frozen blueberries in a medium sauce pan. Add the sugar. Cook over low heat. Stir frequently. I like to let it cook down to thicken it.

Combine the milk, yeast and sugar in a large bowl. Let it stand until the yeast dissolves and starts to bubble; about 5 minutes. Mix in the salt, eggs and melted butter.

Add the 3 cups of flour to form a sticky dough.

Dump the dough out onto a well floured surface. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary.

Lightly oil the original bowl and plop the dough back in. Roll it around a few times to coat it and cover it and let it rise until doubled, about 40 minutes. Don't forget to stir the blueberries!

Heat the oil in a deep fryer or wok or heavy Dutch oven to 325. Use a thermometer. I used a Dutch oven and had to keep adjusting the temperature. Don't put the dough in when it is too cool. You will get greasy beignets. Don't forget to stir the blueberries!

While the oil is heating, put the dough on a floured surface. Punch it down and let it stand covered for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the dough with flour and roll it out into a 12 X 12 square. Using a pizza cutter ( or a knife) cut the dough into 4 strips and then cut those into 6 pieces each. You can trim the edges if you wish, but I didn't. Don't forget to stir the blueberries!

Layer three large paper towels to soak up the oil and start frying. Work in batches. Remember to keep an eye on the thermometer. When you add new dough it will lower the temperature. Don't let it get too hot, either. Fry the dough until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Use a slotted metal spoon to turn them and then to transfer to the paper towels. Arrange 3 beignets on a plate and simply drown them in powdered sugar from a sifter or a metal strainer. I put the blueberry sauce in a gravy boat and let guests add their own, but you can drizzle them with sauce and circle the plates with it.

These are to be eaten with your fingers, so have a lot of napkins out and prepare to vacuum!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

RJ's Big Adventure

Monday morning at ^:00 it was still as dark as the middle of the night. The only light was from the headlights on the mule. RJ ranged behind, beside and in front of me. He has no respect for the mule and darts in front of it, so you have to keep as eye on him when he comes along side. RJ bolted in front of me. I slammed on the brakes, skidding slightly on the loose gravel, narrowly missing him. He ran toward the big walnut trees. I continued to the barn.

When I got there I turned on the lights and music and went to get Libby. She is the lead mare so I get her out first. Then I got a whiff of skunk. I looked around the barn for the source. RJ was walking in the door with his head down and his tail between his legs. I now know the source of the stench.

I quickly put Libby and Claire in the pasture and clean the stall, frantically trying to see how to get the dog clean. We are shorthanded at the library and Lee is doing an early morning bus run. I remember using tomato juice on our dogs from childhood, but they were outside dogs and surely there is something better.

RJ, in the meantime was working desperately to remove the smell. He was rolling in the wet grass and rubbing his neck and face by pushing himself along the grass with his hind legs. When that proved fruitless, he rolled in the dirt in the turnouts. I was worried that he would roll in the horse urine, but in reality it couldn't get worse. And who knows? The acid might help! If it does, I hope it doesn't become a popular cure. Can you imagine men across the country taking car of dogs in this fashion? Yeah, me, too.

Next RJ rolled around and around in Claire's stall. The floor had a lot of shavings in it. I was impressed. Was it smart thinking or was he just desperate? It didn't work, but by this time he was a mess. Muddy and covered in shavings and stinking to high heaven.

When I got to the house, poor RJ was fed outside and locked out. While I fixed my break, I fired up the laptop and searched for the "recipe" for removing skunk stench.

Here it is. It's simple and you can remember it.

1 quart 3% Hydrogen Peroxide, make sure it isn't expired. It has been sitting there for years.

1/4 cup baking soda, you know the stuff in the yellow box.

2 teaspoons of liquid soap

Mix it all in an open bucket. Don't plan on saving it. A closed container may explode.

Use rubber gloves and work it into the coat. Don't get it in the eyes. It will sting. Then let it sit 5 minutes. If you have any left over, pour it down the sink.

I left Lee a message on his cell. He couldn't answer and I knew that, but I wanted him to know to stop on the way home. Then I tied the poor dog in the garage and went to work. I knew Lee would be home in the next hour or so, but I still felt bad for the sad little boy.

One part of message included an offer to come home at lunch when more people would be at the library. Honest. Nonetheless, my wonderful husband managed to buy the Hydrogen Peroxide and get the job done. He even gave RJ a regular bath after to make him smell good. It didn't completely work, but it was WAY better. The first night when we closed the door to our room to keep him confined, It was pretty bad. I had to open the bedroom window and keep the ceiling fan on low all night. I keep thinking we will wash him again, but it has just been too darn cold. Maybe it will wear off. Eventually. That's the plan at any rate.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Coconut Macaroons

This is one of my favorite recipes. It calls for egg whites, but I hate to throw away the yolks, so I like to make it when I make creme brulee, which calls for egg yolks! Last week I made some croissant bread pudding and it called for a lot of egg yolks ,so I saved the whites and here they are. I had 8 and the recipe calls for 4 so I doubled it. I will put in the original recipe for you, but if the quantities look large, that is why! This recipe is from the Epicurious web site.

Coconut Macaroons

4 large egg white
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour

In a heavy sauce pan stir together all the ingredients. You may want to sift the flour. I don't always and it works fine. It looks like too much in the way of dry ingredients, but the egg yolks are gooey enough to mix in well.

Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. I leave it for short periods of time, like to put the ingredients back in the pantry, but don't leave it longer than a few seconds. Then turn it up to medium high and this time I mean it when I say stir constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes. The mixture will thicken and pull away from the sides. DO NOT OVERCOOK.

Transfer to a bowl and cool slightly. Then cover completely with plastic wrap and chill for one hour or so until it is just cold.

Preheat oven to 300. Drop by heaping teaspoons (or use a cookie scoop) onto buttered baking sheets. My preference is to use Silpats. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the are pale golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Fall Colors

This is probably the best weekend for the fall color viewing from our front and back porches. Quite a few trees are dropping their leaves before all of the trees have changed. I think this is probably because we have had such a dry summer and the trees are stressed.

We have porch swings with wonderful cushions, thanks to my great kids. So sitting and viewing is big fun. It's great to sit out there and watch the cat hunt or just hang around. The dog likes to fetch the ball...if by fetch you included not always bringing it back to you.

We let the horses out in the yard today, versus being put inside generous pastures. I like to let them roam around when we can be here and keep an eye on them. The whole 60 acres is not fenced, but it has so many rolling hills and trees it is impossible for them to know that, so they stick around the barn. They do take occasional forays up the hill, but that is the fun part!

The back porch has the advantage of being screened, although we really don't get much in the way of biting bugs. Now stink bugs...we are getting tons of them, but so is everyone else! The view from the back porch allows us the illusion that we are the only people for miles around. Pretty cool. it's hard to imagine a more beautiful place to live.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

James River Clean up

I got a message from Kevin Costello on my county email. He was organizing a clean up day for the James River in coordination with the Twin River Outfitters. I knew Kevin because he is in charge of the county tourism office and Lee and I were now models in all the Upper James River brochures and web sites. We also knew the Twin River Outfitters because they had donated the use of the canoes and their services for the photo shoot.

The original date had to be postponed because we had so much rain. The water was up 3 feet and it "looked like chocolate milk." So it was this weekend. Unfortunately, it was a holiday weekend for the county. Monday is Columbus Day. So a lot of people had made vacation plans. Including Kevin. So when Lee and I showed up only one other guy was there. His name was Rich Maxwell. With John from Twin Rivers ( he and his brother are twins, hence the name of their company )that was only two canoes. There were some other groups and individuals that showed up to clean the landings, but we were the only water based clean up group.

We put in at the Springwood ramp. There were some Class I rapids as we put in, so we didn't even look for debris until we got through that. Right away we started finding tires. They were filled with putrid, black mud and ooze. Even after a good rinsing the bottom of the canoe held lovely, wet bilge water that we kept for the whole trip.

The other group kept mostly to the left side and we worked the right. At times the right side was so sheer that there was nowhere for trash to land, so we drifted left and got trash behind them. At times we were quite far apart and then we would catch up. We each kind of did our own thing.

Sometimes we were able to snag trash with the T of the paddles. That was nice. If not, we had to beach the canoe and one of us had to get out and retrieve the junk while the other tried to hold the canoe in place. Now I'm old and my hips don't like being bent all day, so it was nice to be the one in the front of the boat so that I could get out. I needed to straighten out my hips. Once, Lee wanted to get out. We went nose first into the beach to hold the boat. The water was so clear that it looked more shallow than it was and when Lee stepped out, he sank down and as one leg was still in the boat it tipped us sideways so that we took on water and I had my left side submerged. I am not proud of the fact that I said something mean about that. Something along the lines of, "Just because you are falling in, don't take me with you!" How mean is that? Sorry, Lee.

He managed to right the boat pick up the garbage and then we got out a jar from the trash bag and we bailed off and on for the rest of the journey. Water kept coming from the tires as we bounced around and the sloshing water made it hard to stay upright. In addition, the tires made us top heavy and they would shift a bit from side to side. It made navigation in the other rapids quite tricky for two novice paddlers.

There is a art to paddling. Lee is so much stronger than I that if we both pick a side and paddle, the boat will turn to the side I am using. So Lee has to switch sides to keep us straight. But just when you get the boat going straight and switch to the other side, it keeps on going the other way. So you have to under correct. I had to switch sides due to sheer weakness. I had to let the other side get tired and sore, too! So Lee had to watch what I was doing, watch the way the boat was going and look for garbage. It sounds like a lot of work, and it was, but it was fun, too. The air was clear and warm. It has just started to get cold, so the leaves are turning beautiful colors. The water was mostly smooth as glass, with just a few rocks to keep you on your toes. A perfect day

Add to all of that the idea that we were helping our community and our environment and you would be hard pressed to come up with a better way to spend a Saturday in Fall. Count us in for next year!

Extra Special Brownies

Friday was Rena's birthday and if you ask her what she wants...for pretty much ANY occasion, she will say, something special, like brownies. That is even MORE true on her birthday, so I wanted to make some special brownies and here is what I did.

Extra Special Brownies

Two of your favorite brownie mixes for a 8X8 pan
ingredients necessary to make two boxes, usually eggs, water and oil
Oreo cookies, I used Double Stuff

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 Tablespoons butter, softened
4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt..just a pinch
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat pan to the temperature on the box. Spray a 9 X 13 pan with Pam. Mix the first box according to directions. Spread evenly in pan. Crush or chop 2 rows of Oreos and sprinkle on top.

Mix the second box according to directions. Carefully drizzle and then spread over the OREOS. Bake according to the directions, test with a toothpick.

While it is baking, clean up and start the frosting. Cream the butter and cream cheese. Add the vanilla and the salt. Add the cocoa powder and mix slowly until mixed together and then mix faster to get it nice and smooth. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time. Again, first mix slowly and then faster to fully incorporate the sugar.

By this time the brownies should be done. Let them cool while you fix coffee for breakfast and make your lunch for tomorrow. Still not cool?? Clean the cook top and scrub the sink. When the brownies, spread the frosting. Wash the last of the dishes. Cut them big or little, depending on how many people you have to feed.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

You never know if RJ wants to ride down to the barn or run. This morning I started down the road while he was still trying to decide where to pee. It is an important decision and takes him quite a bit of searching. Sometimes while driving down the hill a rabbit will bolt out of the grass and run across the road to the wooded hillside. If RJ is in the Mule he will jump out and take off after the rabbit. I try to stop or hang on to him, but he doesn't even mind rolling end over end in his quest for a good chase. I worry I will run him over.

This morning he was chasing something, but it was 0 dark 30 and I couldn't see him behind me. I could only see where the headlights were. I noticed something rustling in the tall grass to the side of the road and started slowing to allow the wee beastie to cross in front of me. Much to my dismay, I saw a small skunk waddle out across the road. Now even a skunk in a hurry doesn't go real fast, so I stopped and gave it plenty of room. It wouldn't do to make him mad or scared!

My next thought was, "Where is RJ?" I could just imagine what he would do with a skunk! Fortunately, he was still busy behind me and never noticed. I did not want to spend the next week keeping him outside and washing him in tomato juice!

As I got to the barn, I took a wide turn so I could back up to the doors. This makes it easier to load the muck buckets and then I am heading towards the compost pile. I looked up towards the house. It was still pitch dark and when I turned off the Mule I could see all the stars so clearly. Orion was above the house. That was fortunate, because it is one of the few constellations that I know.

After I finished at the barn I went up to the house and fed RJ. When I patted him on the neck and back, I found something crusty and foul smelling. I am almost gagging as I write this. He loves to roll in dead animals and other putrid smelly places, but now he had brought this in the house and I WANTED MY BREAKFAST!

I had to wash him the best I could. The rag came back dark brown and covered in long black dog hairs. THIS IS IN MY HOUSE. I cleaned him up the best I could without a full bath. I had to get to work and Lee was already gone. Can you imagine if he had had a confrontation with the skunk? I guess it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mountain Magic in Fall

The plan was to help clean up the James River and then head to Buchanan for the Fall celebration. The James clean up was cancelled because of the rain last week. The river was too high and too fast to safely climb around in it for the clean up. It has been postponed until next Saturday. I will have to decide whether to wear my knee high muck boots or the beach shoes I wear in Hawaii for snorkeling and walking on the reefs. I would not like the boots to fill with water and leave me stuck!

So the big outing for this week was to Buchanan for the Mountain Magic in Fall Festival. We waited too long. Neither one of us was hungry so we waited until 3:00. It closed at 5:00 so we thought there would be plenty of time.

By the time we parked and walked up to Main Street, most of the cars for the car show were gone. Lee was disappointed, but held back the tears! I took quite a few pictures because I want my friend Marcy in California to come out one year and be a vendor. I doubt it would pay for her ticket, but it would be fun anyway!

Of course the most important vendors are the ones that sell the food! That is why we had to wait until we were hungry and that is why we missed the car show! I guess we'll know better next year. Go early, eat often, look at cars!

The music is always fun. They set up the stage in the parking lot between the bank and the drug store. I love a drug store with a fountain. Reminds me of the movie Murphy's Romance, but I have yet to see James Garner there. The streets are full of families and happy kids and I would have to say, that is better than James Garner...probably...maybe.

I did buy a T-shirt this year. I can't wear it to work in the library, so I guess it will be my "work and laze around the house" shirt! Next Saturday it will be my "clean up the James" shirt. I'll try to take pictures. If I drop the camera in the water it will be my excuse to get a good one. I bought a book on digital photography from Doris so there is no longer any excuse for lousy pictures!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Not much going on here on the farm. We did get in a second cutting of grass hay. We also cut a lot more acreage, so even though the grass wasn't as high as the first cutting, we still got about the same number of hay bales. We hope to clear more land for more hay, but it is labor intensive. I work full time and Lee works part time, so it may take another year to bring more land into production.

Next week I am driving the Bookmobile for Monday and Tuesday and we are participating in a cleanup for the county along the Upper James River, so I will finally have something to say and not have to rely on my recipes. (Here is the segue to the aforementioned Biscottis!)

I told Doris I was thinking about almond biscottis. Tara had made some the other day and it inspired me. Doris Googled around on the Internet and found some recipes that she gave to me to pick from. I kind of took 1 from column A and 2 from column B and here is what we have.

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
2 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sliced almonds

Chocolate Glaze
1 cup chocolate chips
1 Tbsp shortening

Preheat the oven to 350. The butter was not soft and it was cold and rainy so I unwrapped a stick of butter and put it on a plate in the microwave for about 8 seconds....I figure if that is good enough for a Krispy Kreme, that is good enough for butter. Then I put it in the mixer and ran it on slow. When it was smooth I added the sugar. I had to run it on medium for awhile, I think because it was kind of cold. Then I added the 2 eggs and the almond extract and mixed it up. The recipe calls for sifting all the dry ingredients together and then adding them to the butter. You can do that if you want or do as I did and just add them a cup or so at a time and mix slowly.

I repeat, mix S-L-O-W-L-Y. If you don't, the flour will go everywhere!

Then add the almonds. I didn't have enough sliced almonds, so I added some toasted whole almonds that I then chopped coarsely. I thought they would add an extra crunch. One that even dunking it into a hot cup of coffee won't soften!

Divide the dough in half and dump it out onto a lightly floured board. Roll it into a log and then transfer it to a Silpat on a cookie sheet or a greased cookie sheet. Flatten it until it is about 11 inches long and 3 inches wide. Then do the other one. They will spread out so keep them apart as much as possible. Bake for 30 minutes.

Then remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Carefully transfer each log to a cutting board and gently cut them with a serrated knife on the diagonal about 1 inch apart. Reserve the ends for munching while you wait. Put the slices back on the cookie sheet with the cut side down. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully turn the slices so the other cut side is down and bake for 10 more minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Make the chocolate glaze. Mix the chocolate chips and the shortening in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate over the biscotti.

Make a big cup of coffee. Dunk a short segment in the coffee for a few seconds then let the drips stop and gently bite the soaked biscotti. Continue until you have eaten the whole thing. When you finish the coffee don't get grossed out by the crumbs in the bottom of the cup