Saturday, November 16, 2019

Queen Bee


I just finished Queen Bee by Dorothea Benton Frank.  And by just finished, I mean five minutes ago.

I have long enjoyed her South Carolina Low Country Stories. She really gives you the flavor of the place and dives deep into the characters and their personalities.  A fabulous writer.

Queen Bee is the nickname of the imperious and demanding mother that younger daughter Holly lives with and cares for.  It is also for the bees that Holly cares for as a beekeeper and the glorious garden she plants for them.

It is not a romance novel, but some of the people find romance.  And not the romance that you think they might find, but in another direction you hadn't seen coming from the beginning.  It is not a comedy but there are quite a few laughs.  It is not a character study, but there are quite a few characters in this book.  There are many times that Frank writes a line that has me stop and want to call somebody and read it to them.  They are that good.

I really liked this book and it has happy and hopeful ending.  But I was terribly sad to get to the end.  Not just the kind of sad you feel when you finish a really good book and you will miss the characters you have come to care about. But sad because I will never again get to read a new book by one of my favorite authors.

Dorothea Benton Frank passed away this year after a brief illness and we are all the worse because of it.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Lemon Pudding Cake

I recently read No Judgements by Meg Cabot.  The characters live through a hurricane and several of the meals eaten had the recipe included in the book.  This was one of them.  I made a minor change or two.


Lemon Pudding Cake

1 yellow cake mix
1 package instant lemon pudding mix
4 eggs
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup vegetable oil


2 cups powdered sugar
1 lemon
3 Tablespoons softened butter


Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a Bundt pan with Pam.  Set aside.


In a large mixing bowl whisk the 4 eggs.  Add the cake mix, pudding mix, water and oil.


Whisk smooth.


Carefully add the cake mixture to the prepared pan.


Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Mine took 40 minutes.


Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.  Then invert over a cooling rack. If you coated the pan well enough you can lift the pan off the cake.  Let it cool completely.


Mix the glaze.  Zest the lemon.  Then cut it in half and squeeze the juice.  I got just under 1/3 cup and so that is what I used.  Sift the the powdered sugar, in a medium bowl.  Add the butter, lemon zest and lemon juice, then mix well.


Place some waxed paper under the cooling rack and drizzle the glaze over the cake.


Serve a giant wedge.  Enjoy the moist cake with the burst of lemon in the glaze.


Then go read the book.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Apple Pandowdy

A pandowdy was originally a way to use up stale bread. It was mixed with spiced apple slices and baked in to a type of bread pudding.   This version is made with puff pastry to make it quick and easy.     I liked it, but next time I'll up the apple to pastry ratio.  But you have to careful not to to overfill the baking dish or it will bubble over and make a mess in your oven.


Apple Pandowdy

1/2 package puff pastry
6 large apples
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
3 Tablespoons flour, divided use
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons Turbinado sugar


Preheat the oven to 425°.

Get out one folded sheet of puff pastry. Set it on the counter to let it thaw.


Melt the stick of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Swirl the pan frequently for about 5 minutes until the butter turns a golden brown.  Don't do a lot of other things when this is going on or you'll burn the butter.  Like I did.  Set aside.


Peel the apples.  Cut chunks leaving the core behind.  Cut into slices and then cut them in half, making uneven chunks.


This is a rustic dessert!

Wash the lemon.  Use a microplane to zest just the yellow part of the lemon.  Cut it in half and squeeze the juice


Place the chunks in a large bowl and add in 2 Tablespoons flour, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon zest, juice and salt.  Mix together.


Mix and place in a 12X8, or thereabouts, baking dish.  Drizzle all but 2 Tablespoons of the browned butter over the apples.


Sprinkle about half of the remaining Tablespoon of flour on the counter and unfold the thawed puff pastry.  Dust the top with the rest of the flour.  Brush both sides gently with your hand.  Cut the pastry in uneven strips with a knife or pizza cutter.  Then cut the strips crosswise to make pieces about one inch...ish.


Place the puff pastry all over the apple mixture.  Use a pastry brush to brush the rest of the browned butter on the pastry chunks.  Sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the top of the dish.


Bake for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 350° and bake for 25 minutes more or until the pastry has puffed and is a golden brown.


Serve warm. You can sift on some powdered sugar to dress up the dessert.


But the best way is with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  AND the powdered sugar.


Sunday, October 27, 2019

Felafel Pita Sandwiches with Garlic Dill Sauce

I wanted to fix a simple sandwich meal, but not the same old thing.  I decided to make a felafel pita sandwich.  I generally get ideas for meals by reading books and when the characters eat something, it inspires me to try that, too!  All you authors out there, let your characters eat something fun!

The recipe calls for the dough to chill for 2 hours before cooking, so keep that in mind.


Felafel Pita Sandwiches

1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 large shallot
3 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cardamon
1/8 teaspoon coriander

pita bread
tomatoes and lettuce
oil for frying


Garlic Dill Sauce

1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans.  Dry them with a clean dish cloth.  Place them in a food processor with the chopped parsley.  Mince the shallot.  Add the shallot, sesame seeds, cumin, salt, pepper, cardamon and coriander and pulse the processor until the beans are finely chopped but not smooth.


Add the flour and pulse until mixed. Use a medium cookie scoop or a large tablespoon and check to see if you can form a ball that holds together. If it is too wet, add a bit more flour.


Chill for 1 to 2 hours to firm up.


Make the Dill Sauce.  Adjust the garlic salt to taste.


While the dough was chilling, I went out to the chicken yard where I have a plethora of volunteer tomatoes growing.  I picked and washed a few for the sandwiches.

Use the scoop to make balls of all the dough.  I flattened mine a bit to make them easier to cook and eat.


Fry in 1/2 inch of oil over medium heat until golden brown on each side. Place on a paper towel to drain.


When I opened the pita I had purchased, I realized it was scored.  My original intent was to fold the pita over the filling.  But, based on the scoring, I chose to fill the pocket of the pita.


Smear the Diil Sauce inside the pita.  Add lettuce and tomato slices to taste.  Place two or three crispy and warm felafel balls, or discs, inside and enjoy.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

More on Rosalind's quilt

Rosalind started this cathedral window quilt and I am going to finish it.  It won't be exactly as she planned but I wanted to highlight her work, not mine.


I found one square that Roz had written on with pencil.  She wore her name and birthdate on  corner.


Her husband was Arnold Yasui. She had written his name and birthdate on the opposite corner.


I used an off white thread to backstitch those details. This square will be the center of my quilt.


My sister's nickname was Pinky. and the colorful fabrics she chose had various shades of pink.  I chose a pink fabric with tones from the "window" pieces.  This became the sashing between the squares.

I thought too much pink would take away from the squares, so I picked a green fabric that worked with the green of the "windows".


I need to add a back piece, some batting and start quilting.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Smoothing Out The Divots.

The back part of our property was not kept mowed.  It was just bush hogged a few times a year.  I wanted it mowed regularly so we bought a zero turn mower and we've been trying to dig out all the roots and rocks.  This has left divots and bumps which slows down the speed you can mow. We don't want to tear up our new mower!


The new shop had some excavation done to accommodate the footings and slab.  We have a large pile  of dirt...and rocks and roots.  Lee has been using the tractor to take buckets of dirt around the yard and filling in the depressions.


I expect the grass will take some time to fill in.  At least we'll be able to speed up the mowing.


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A New Garage

When we moved to our new house it was missing one thing.   A shop/garage for Lee to store and work on his cars and trucks.  Fortunately we have plenty of room to add a building for this purpose.  We are now in the process in correcting that.


There was an old abandoned well too close to the new location, so we had to cap it.


This involves filling the hole and capping it.  


We also had some glue lam beams delivered.   The are beams made of layers of wood laminated together to make a super strong beam. These are stronger, yet smaller than a solid beam of wood.


Next they brought us some trusses.  These will hold up the roof.


We had to remove a tree, which wasn't my favorite part.  We now have the permit and the construction will start soon.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Rosalind's Quilt

My sister Rosalind started a quilt. It is a cathedral window pattern and is all hand stitched.  It is made with triangles of a light fabric.  You fold the edges of the triangles over a square of a patterned fabric, to sew it to the fabric in a diamond shape.  Like this.


Roz hand stitched everything.  I don't know if she even owned a sewing machine.

Then she passed away and the pieces were forgotten in a storage space.  Her husband remarried and then he got cancer and passed away.  His widow contacted me and as she went through the storage unit and has Kindly sent me several boxes of Rosalind's keepsakes.  The quilt squares were in one of the boxes.

I decided the quilt needed to be finished.


The finished squares had a lot of issues in terms of evenness.  I tried to fix them with ironing.  This was minimally effective.


There were over 100 squares.  The original pattern called for all the finished squares to be sewn together and then continue adding in the colorful squares. There was enough fabric to do so and I thought about finishing it that way.  ButI didn't want to hand stitch a quilt that was going to end up King size.   If I machine sewed it, there would be an obvious difference between the triangles.  Also, it would be more my quilt, at the end, then the quilt Roz started.


I decided to keep the squares as she made them and assemble it as I would any other quilt.

I also chose to take the advice of the folks at my local fabric store, WebFabrics.  They suggested  breaking the quilt up into two smaller quilts.  It would be much easier to do the quilting on my regular sewing machine.  It meant that I could make the second quilt for my niece.  She and Roz had started the quilts together and she was a thrilled when I asked if she wanted a finished piece.

I chose some pink fabric to be the sashing between the squares and to try to even them up. My sister's nickname was Pinky, so this was an homage to that.  I'll get to that next.