Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cashew Crisps

One of my favorite "mystery author with recipes" is Joanne Fluke. I was craving some cookies last week at work so Doris, Cathy and I grabbed a bunch of books by Joanne Fluke and decided on a few recipes. This is a great advantage of working in a library. Almost any book you want you can get. I make it a bit differently, but the ingredients are the same. Next week it will be the Chocolate Sugar Cookies, but today it is...

Cashew Crisps

2 cups salted cashews
1 1/2 cups mostly melted butter (3 sticks)
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 Tablespoons molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350.

You need 1 1/2 cups finely ground cashews. I used 2 cups halves and pieces and ground them in the food processor. Make sure and pulse do not want cashew butter!

Mostly melt the butter in the microwave. Dump it in the mixing bowl and add the sugar, vanilla and molasses. Stir until blended and add the soda, powder and salt. mix well.

Add the nuts and mix. Break the eggs into the bowl you used to melt the butter, mix them up with a fork and add to the mixing bowl. Then add the flour one cup at a time, mixing between each cup. DON'T lose track of how many cups you used! Use a pen to make a hash mark on the recipe after each cup. The phone will ring and you will forget...been there, done that.

At this point I put the mixing bowl in the fridge to rest and firm up. I put all the food away and clean up the counters. I get out the cookie sheets and the Sil-pats. I use three at a time. You can just use greased cookie sheets, but Sil-pats are the best and you should indulge yourself. Ask for them for Christmas. As a long forgotten commercial in Hawaii used to exhort viewers, "You will be grad you did."

I also use a cookie scoop. It is similar to an ice cream scoop, but much smaller. You can use a spoon and try to get them all the same size, about the size of a walnut and then try to get them off the spoon or you can get the cookie scoop and do it fast and easy.

Bake at 350 for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges turn golden brown. Cool on the cookie sheet for at least 2 minutes. If the cookie starts to fall apart, wait another couple of minutes for it to firm up. Then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

I fill one sheet and then put it in the oven and set the timer. Then I fill another sheet and put it on the bottom shelf and set the second timer. Then I fill the third sheet and have it ready to go. Next I start the dishes into the dishwasher and get some soapy water going. I like to clean as I go so there is not huge clean up at the end. When the first timer goes off I take out the first sheet and then move the bottom sheet to the top rack. This allows the cookie tops to brown evenly. Then I place the filled cookie sheet on the bottom and re-set the timer. The finished cookies wait for a few minutes and then I remove the cookies to the wire rack and start filling the now empty sheet. Then when the timer dings, I am ready to rotate everything around. It's an assembly line! When the last cookie sheet goes in I start washing the bowls and finished cookie sheets and then I am all done with the clean up shortly after the last pan comes out. Easy Peasy, lemon squeezy.

Another Spa Day

Well, THAT didn't work. The big bath and vacuum day last week was a bust. More dog hair than ever...just cleaner dog hair. So I finally broke down and bought a Furminator.It is supposed to get all the loose hair out of a dog or cat. It worked pretty good on the dog. I am not sure I am brave enough to attempt it on the cats.

At any rate we Furminated (is that a verb?) and washed and vacuumed. Did I mention that RJ is not fond of this process? This moring I swept up a whole pile of dog hair. I need a MAID!!!!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

O Frabjous Day

It was 65 degrees when I went to the barn this morning! I wore a jacket! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! I chortle in my joy. Cool weather for a change.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day at the Spa

Not much is happening at the Shenandoah Gateway Farm. It is still unrelentingly, oppressively hot and humid. If there is a more moist and miserable word than humid, I would use it. Almost like being in a sauna, except you can't get naked and sit and feel rejuvenated. Just hot and sticky.

Lee has been building a run-in shed for us. Usually I help him with these kind of projects, but he is doing it when I am at work. It is really too much for one person, but he is doing it anyway. It looks great! We have some beams from our repair of the bridge to the lower part of the property. They were 9x5x16 or so, and some of them are in pretty good shape. They also look as though they were soaked in creosote, like railroad ties. Lee is using them as the upright poles to support the building. He is using the left over metal from the two new buildings we have, the barn and the shop. Also, there were some left over materials from the house that we found when we started clearing the land. It will be good to get this construction stuff out of the basement! Because we had some of the material, Lee only has to buy the new 2x4s and fasteners.

Lee dug the holes and set the post all alone. This is hard enough to do with a helper. I feel bad that I am not helping, but he is doing it when I am at work. It looks great. He has it all framed up and has the roof on.

We have two different pastures to rotate the horses on in order to consistently have grass during the growing season. This cuts way down on the hay consumption. That cuts down on the hay we need to store and feed. I only feed when the grass is too short to keep them well fed. Usually during late fall to early spring. The draw back is that the pastures do not have any shelter from the heat or the cold. Building shelters also means we have a place to put the tractor equipment that is not in use. But the best thing about it,from our point of view, is that we can get away for a few days and just have someone throw food and refill the water. They will not have to get the horses out, always a dicey proposition for a non-horse person. We can someone come feed the cats and board the dogs and freedom awaits!! FREEDOM! I feel like William Wallace in Braveheart!! (But before Mel went off the deep end!)

So, because Lee has been working so hard on the shelter and I really don't feel like making him work on it during the week-end when I could help, I decided to wash the dog.

Actually the dog has been shedding worse than the two cats. We called a local dog groomer and she wanted $45 to wash the dog! PetsMart only wanted $31, but it is quite a drive. So I got some horse curry combs and doggy shampoo and warm water and scrubbed away. It is not a hard job, but I am getting older and bending over while I tried to wash away all of the loose hair (and a bunch of the stuck in kind) is kind of a chore. I may have to invest in a tall doggy tub!

At any rate he is mostly clean and mostly not shedding and it didn't cost me anything. Not a bad deal in my mind.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Our friends, Rich and Mary Donnis, gave us this wonderful recipe for quiche. It has become a family staple. I make it with a few changes. Just simplifications to make it easier than it was, which was pretty easy, but I am lazy.


1 unbaked 9 inch pie crust
8-10 slices bacon
6 oz Swiss cheese
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBL flour
dash nutmeg
1 3/4 cup milk

Heat oven to 425. Set the frozen pie crust on the counter for a bit. They come two to a package and you do not want to break them getting them apart, so let them sit while the oven is heating and you assemble the rest of the ingredients.

Fill the bottom of the pie crust with pie weights if you have them. Otherwise it will bubble up. You can try to prick them with a fork, but even then you will wish you used the weights! Bake for 7 minutes. When you take out the crust, you will have to turn the oven to 350.

While it is baking, cook the bacon. I like the precooked kind so that I just put them in the microwave for 2 minutes to crisp and brown them. Cool and drain them on a paper towel.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, milk,flour and salt. I like to grate the nutmeg, but you can use ground nutmeg if you wish. Add that.

By now the pie is cool. Dump the pie weights on a clean dish towel. You will want to wash them later. Crumble the bacon in the paper towel and then dump them in the pie crust. Add one bag of shredded Swiss cheese...or shred it yourself, you can use up to 8 oz.

Pour the egg mixture over the cheese and bacon in the crust. Be very careful. Don't over fill. Remember you still have to carry this to the oven!

Bake the quiche for 35-40 minutes at 350...remember you turned it down a few minutes ago????

While it is baking, throw out the trash and wash the mixing bowl. Then add more soap and water and the weights. Swish them around gently and put the strainer in the sink. IMPORTANT STEP! Pie weights in the garbage disposal is a very bad thing! Rinse the weights and drain them and put them on the other side of the dish towel. Dry and return them.

Go put your feet up or start cutting up fruit for the meal.

The quiche may look a little jiggly. That is OK. Just remember to let it rest and cool a bit before serving.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


My mother used to tell us the story of Epamanondus. It is best told with a Southern accent and his mother should be in the higher registers! At least that is how I remember it.


Once upon a time there was a boy named Epamanondus. He lived in the forest with his mother. She liked to visit her mother when she could. One day she decided to send Epamanondus instead. It was a long walk and she had many things to do that day.

After a nice visit, his granny sent Epamanondus home with a cake she had just baked. Epamanondus carried all the way through the forest, climbing over logs and wading through the streams and by the time he got home it was a mess of sodden crumbs.

"EPAMANONDUS!," his mother cried. "What you got dere?"

"A cake, Mammy."

"That ain't no way to carry cake. The way you carry cake is you put it under your hat to protect it on the way home. Next time you go to your granny's that the way you supposed to do."

"Yes'm Mammy, " said Epamanondus.

The next week it came time to visit Granny on the other side of the forest. His mammy sent Epamanondus again. This time his granny sent home a pound of freshly churned butter. He carefully put it under his hat and walked home through the forest. Now, it was a very hot day and by the time he got home, it had melted and was dripping down his face. His hair was covered in butter and there wasn't even enough left to butter a biscuit.

"EPAMANONDUS!" cried his mother. "What you got dere?"

"Butter, Mammy," said Epamanondus.

"That ain't no way to carry butter! The way you carry butter is, you wrap it in the cool, dark leaves and every time you come to the stream you dip it in the water, dip it in the water. That the way you carry butter!"

"Yes'm, Mammy." said Epamanondus.

The next week it was time to visit Granny and Epamanondus went through the forest. After the visit his granny gave him a little puppy to take home. Epamanondus loved the little puppy and wanted to take very good care of it so he wrapped it in the cool, dark leaves and every time he came to a stream he dipped it in the water, dipped it in the water. By the time he got home he was carrying a poor, dead, little puppy.

His mammy saw him coming across the clearing to their house and about pulled her hair out. "EPAMANONDUS! What you got dere!"

"A puppy, Mammy," he said sadly, knowing he had once again done something wrong.

"That ain't no way to carry a puppy! The way you carry a puppy is, you tie a rope around its' neck and you drag it along behind you!"

"Yes'm, Mammy," said Epamanondus quietly.

Once again it was time for a visit to Granny. Epamanondus went off happily knowing that he knew how to carry any gift home. After his visit his Granny gave him a loaf of freshly baked bread. Epamanondus tied a rope around it and dragged it all the way home. You can imagine what it looked like when he came through the clearing.

"EPAMANONDUS!" yelled his mammy. "The next time you go to visit your granny, you ain't a goin'. I'se a goin'!"

So the next week she baked a bunch of pies so she would have something to take to her mother and something to have for supper when she returned. She placed them on the porch to cool and before she left she said to Epamanondus, "You be careful how you step in them pies!"

"Yes'm, Mammy," said Epamanondus. And he very carefully stepped in the middle of each and every pie!

Roz and Dieter

My sisters, Robin and Rosalind went on a cruise near Tahiti a number of years ago. It was not the usual cruise ship, but a tramp steamer with quite a few staterooms. There was no menu and entertainment. The entertainment was provided by the different islands they stopped on each day and by the companionship of the people they met on shipboard. One of these was a man from Germany named Dieter Blauensteiner. They struck up a friendship with him and sent emails to each other.

Years later, Roz and Arnold went to Germany and spent some time with Dieter and his family. They communicated over Skype. When Roz became ill again she didn't spend as much time on the computer and Dieter called me very concerned. It fell to me to inform him of her death. He sent me the most wonderful letter and I wanted to share it with you. Perhaps in the future you will have the sad duty to write a condolance letter to someone. This is a beautiful model to use.

Already for a while we knew that there would not be too much time for Roz on earth. But nevertheless anyhow we have edged it out, haven't noted that her time could run out so quickly. Now we are offended. What we guessed for quite a while now has become a certainty. The whole day, since we know it now, our thoughts are filled with her, the eyes with hot tears over and over again. She was such a marvelous person. We knew her only for four years, you the brothers and sisters and the family have known her almost a whole life long, her strengths and weaknesses. But the small chapter of her life of only four years had been enough to recognise and to feel what a special person she was. We would have wished so much to meet her once more. We have always hoped it, however, it should not have been. This makes us even sadder. During the last months before her death the contact became a little less, partly because she didn't feel well, partly because the everyday life had eaten up the time too quickly.

We haven't understood the email from Arnold. The attachment was missing and we thought Roz wanted to inform us of something. We thought it could wait-but unfortunately there was no more time left to her!

Timon had contact with her by Skype a few months ago. Possibly it was his voice which she heard last from us. Thsi pleases us because she liked him very much.

Our thoughts will still be with her and we wish that she can still feel this. We are so far away and regret very much that we could not embrace her once more. Thus we think back to the time three years ago when she and Arnold were with us. The memory and the pictures will yet get more value. We are greatful that we got to know her and that we got a place in her heart. She has a place in our hearts, in any case.