“Good Morning!”

…can we ever have enough SCONE recipes?…especially when I have…zero!
……..hugmamma.

"On Dragonfly Wings with Buttercup Tea"


Weekly Photo Challenge 19 - Good MorningScones, Devonshire Cream and Jam
Not just for mornings!


WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge:
“Good Morning!”

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Recipe for Best-Ever Scones

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup whipping cream, divided
Wax paper

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 450°. Stir together first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until crumbly and mixture resembles small peas. Freeze 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. cream, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.

2. Turn dough out onto wax paper; gently press or pat dough into a 7-inch round (mixture will be crumbly). Cut round into 8 wedges. Place wedges 2 inches apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush tops of wedges with remaining 2 Tbsp. cream just until moistened.

3. Bake at 450°…

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weekly photo challenge: broken

I would hover…hoping that I’d get to gobble up the broken pieces.

Thanks to the wonderful baking skills of my husband and daughter, I now have a “spare tire”…around my middle…

…which i’m trying very hard……… to deflate………hugmamma.

recipe exchange…a pasta…a mimosa

You might want to check out a couple more recipes that have been added to recipe exchange, a page listed at the top of this blog, under the header picture. One is from fellow blogger, under the oaks, for Burgundy Chicken Linguini. Sounds absolutely yummy! And I’ve added another for Mango Mimosa which I’ve not yet tried, but that’s no reason why you shouldn’t. The occasion to do so may present itself to you,  before Costco and I get around to throwing another party. ha, ha. So kick up your heels…

and party!!!………hugmamma.

365 photo challenge: trading

trading places?

trading stocks?………sorry………none to trade……… 

trading baseball cards?………will a photo do?……… trading lives?

trading jokes?  

how about…trading recipes?

“meatloaf maui no ka oe“……………….interested?

click on “recipe exchange” at the top of the blog, beneath the header…………..

take mine………in exchange for one of yours…….meatloaf, if you like………or something else………just link to your posting………

anyone can join the recipe exchange……….the more, the merrier!!!

can’t wait to check out other deelish dishes………hugmamma.  🙂 

“blog buddies,” getting it…finally

Figuring out how “blog buddies” works has been a bit of a mystery. But I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. It seems to be a matter of finding bloggers with whom I share common interests, and once found, trying to establish continuing dialogue. I’ve begun doing that with a couple of sites, by growing the conversation. It’s not easy keeping several conversations going at the same time. But it is fun, once you begin. I’m sure I’ll find the technical components that make it easier to check in with everyone, without having to click in all the time. Takes me a little bit, but I eventually manage. Good exercise for growing brain cells, and staving off Alzheimer’s.

The first blogger who taught me about being a blog buddy was Scriptor Obscura. A knowledgeable techy, she was the first to leave regular comments and “likes” on my posts. I was very touched when she asked to run some of them on her blog. She allowed me to decide which they should be, but I left the decision with her, emailing those she “liked.” Not all mind you, I didn’t want to overrun her site. As passionate as me about causes, Scriptor Obscura minces no words in her support of issues. A person less than half my age, I admire her conviction to promote compassion for those less fortunate.

Another blogger with whom I’ve begun a conversation is jeanne’s blog. I just learned that she and I share a love of antiques, hunting them down, owning, and cherishing great finds. Her blog’s photo header displays 2 adorable lhasa apsos or shitzus, not sure which. I had a shitzu, years ago, named Sushi. She was the sweetest, smallest dog. Loved her to pieces. Jeanne’s gardens are lovely, like an oasis. Mine will be, once the last dregs of winter pull up stakes and leave. She also shares recipes, which shows a love of cooking, another interest of mine. She’s gotten me started doing book reviews. And the lady has a compassionate spirit, as is demonstrated in inspirational messages she posts.

Image representing Etsy as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

The Daily Dabbler is another blog with whom I’ve begun another conversation. It’s centered around crafting, a shared interest of ours. Both dabblers in creating things, I think we both realize making a living at it is best left to the professionals, not amateurs like ourselves. Nonetheless it’s fun to check out the creative offerings on ETSY, where all manner of beautiful crafts are sold.

My French friend has shared so much of herself in my interviews with My English Thoughts. Besides our love of travel, though we’ve both not the kind of time or money to globe trot, we have the commonality of the theatre, where she works, and my daughter performs. I can understand the trials and tribulations she must endure in such a unique occupation, because of those my daughter herself has endured. But I’m sure they would both say that there’s also something magical about the stage, especially behind-the-scenes. What’s also captivating about Isa is her simplicity. She seems to “go with the flow,” dealing with life as it presents itself. At this stage in my life, taking life as it comes is less stressful. My friend from France has learned it at a young age. Kudos to her!

I’m getting to know other bloggers as well. Random Thoughts from Mid-Life speaks my language, although much better, I think. An excellent writer who expresses herself so clearly, with seeming understatement. By contrast, I think my words explode on the page. But we’re different people, with different messages. Learning from others is always good, great in fact. And I’ve a lot to learn.

Space Buddies

Image via Wikipedia

Pet lovers such as those who blog at The (mis)Adventures of Sage, and Lifewith4cats remind me of my own four-legged family, and how much joy they bring their human family. Never underestimate the healing power of animals. They give so much of themselves, asking so little in return. And they get me up and exercising, even when I’d rather be lazy and blogging. A walk with Mocha, or running down the hallway with Sitka and Juneau, or crouching on all fours to stroke Sunkist, remind me that I too need to move about to keep my joints oiled. And how they make me laugh, watching some of their antics. ha, ha.

So I take my hat off to all who’ve nurtured their own communities of blog buddies. It’s an art form which when begun, takes thought and effort to maintain. But the rewards of connecting with like souls is immeasurable. I encourage you to visit these blogs mentioned above, and I’ll let you know of other blog buddies with whom I start a dialogue.

writing is fun…sharing with others enhances the enjoyment…hugmamma. 

christmas wishes, more than

Received a wonderful letter from an older sister today. We’ve not maintained regular contact over the years; life happens, even to the best of us. One of the great side effects of my blog is that siblings, and other relatives, with whom I’ve not been in touch consistently, have been regular readers. Having been the youngest of 9, at home alone with my mom when the others had gone on to live their own lives, I often felt like an only child. Friends with whom I’d grown up, knew me better than my own kin. Even through college, interaction with my own brothers and sisters was sporadic. And because I was dating my husband then, his parents and siblings were more like my own family. This isn’t a unique scenario, for sure. Jobs, relocation, children, friends, in-laws, can all cause families to lose touch.

It’s not in my nature to regret and wonder “what if.” I’ve lived my life “in the moment,” making the most of each and every one. My priority became my husband and daughter, because my own family was not close-knit. I wanted to make sure mine would be, and it is. Friends filled in the gaps, sisters, brothers and the like. Of course they weren’t the real thing, but I was content. Forcing kin to connect is not my style. Forcing anyone to do anything, has never been my “modus operandi.” Must be because as the youngest, I couldn’t force anyone to do anything.

Age equalizes. It makes me accept life as it is, tweaking it here and there as necessary. Living my best life is what I strive to do, and what I wish for others, including my relatives. Receiving my sister’s lovely letter, let me know that she’s enjoyed getting to know the me she’s not really known for nearly 40 years. And that’s good.

Happiness for me is found in the small pleasures, and among them are my sister’s Christmas wishes.

Not going to make this a lengthy Christmas letter. Just to let you know how much I enjoy your blogs. I continue to be impressed with how well you express yourself and with the wide coverage of subjects you write on. …I especially look forward to seeing what’s cooking in your kitchen. The coconut cream cake is absolutely out of this world. I baked the first one for my sister-in-law’s 84th birthday, and she couldn’t get enough of it. I’m baking a couple of them this weekend: one for a Christmas block party, and another as a gift for my girlfriend. …several people have already asked me for the recipe. One of these days I’ll try the oven-baked pancake.

   everyday words from one sister to another…special christmas wishes…hugmamma.

any day, pancakes

Sunday morning is when we usually savor a breakfast of pancakes and all the trimmings. These depend upon what’s in the refrig. If you’re ever able to find Portuguese sausage, serve it up sliced and sautéed. Yummy…my mouth’s already watering. An egg, fried, over-medium, is nice, or eggs scrambled with chopped onions, red peppers, mushrooms is very tasty. But the piece-de-resistance is the following recipe for the smoothest, easiest-to-make pancakes. And I don’t like making this usually, difficult-for-me-to-get-right food. My husband’s way better at it, although lately, not so much. We’ve now been opting for pancake houses, like the International House of Pancakes, which can be found in many cities. An absolute favorite is Pancake House in Nashville, where you can breakfast on southern cooking at its greatest. There’s always a lineup of customers, but it moves pretty quickly, and the wait’s worth it. Soooo worth it!!!!!!

But if you’re in the mood for pancakes, and really don’t want all the fuss and bother of watching, and waiting for the right number of bubbles to form before flipping these oft-times, temperamental delicacies, then this is for you. I know there’ll be some of you, maybe many, for whom pancakes is a “no-brainer.” Well then, you’re really, really blest. Wish I had a “white thumb” when it comes to cooking, but sometimes I’m just “all thumbs.” And pancakes is definitely one of those times. I usually blacken them before the insides are cooked. So if you are inclined to share some tips for getting them right, feel free. Like I said, my husband’s not even doing so well with making great pancakes these days. Maybe my lack of “white thumbs” has rubbed off on him. Forty years together, these things happen.

The beauty of this pancake recipe is that you combine all the ingredients in an iron skillet, put it in the oven, and forget about it. Well, not literally, more like 15-20 minutes. But no checking every few seconds to decide when they need flipping, removes the stress, and replaces it with unbridled enthusiasm to sink your teeth into what will taste like a “heavenly cloud,” baked “cotton candy,” French pastry. And you can take all the credit, even though your iron griddle and oven did all the work. Well, okay, you put all the stuff together. Hey! That’s work!

After this buildup, hope this recipe doesn’t fall short. But I don’t think it will.

OVEN PANCAKE

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Ingredients: 1/4 cup butter, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup milk, 2 eggs ( beaten), salt and nutmeg to taste

Melt butter in iron skillet in oven. Combine flour, milk, eggs, salt and nutmeg in bowl; mix well. Pour into skillet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Garnish with confectioners sugar. Serve with REAL maple syrup which keeps the dish “light,” not heavy. But hey! Whatever suits your taste buds, go for it. Even “Mrs. Butterworth” tastes good, as does blueberry jelly. My favorite way to serve up these pancakes is with a handful of fresh blueberries, lovingly distributed over the powdered sugar.

any-day-of-the-week pancakes, for my family…and now yours…hugmamma.

reality vs. freedom and hope, dr. william petit

How does one wrap one’s brain around the horrific murder of a mom and two, untainted, beautiful, young daughters, one 17 and the other 11? Where do you begin to unravel the tightly wound “spool” that commingled the thread of 6 lives? How did they become entwined? Was it perchance, or was it fate? Where was God when this crime against humanity, against Him, occurred?

Apart from hearing of the Petit murders sensationally broadcast all over TV when they happened in 2007, I didn’t care to delve deeper into the crimes. Certain acts, like these, register too close to home to want to acknowledge them head on. It’s easier to turn away, so that your brain doesn’t absorb all the evil details, so that your imagination doesn’t prohibit you from living without fear.

 The Petit family may have lived a privileged life by virtue of Bill’s being a physician. Maybe that sealed their fate that day. But when one of the co-conspirators, Joshua Komisarjevsky, randomly selected Jennifer Petit and her daughter Michaela in a local supermarket as possible victims, he didn’t know that they were of above average means. Not until he and his partner, Steven Hayes, were well on their way to committing the heinous crime, did they establish how much money, $15,000, they could abscond. So the Petits were stand-ins for any number of American families. The configuration of victims and dollar amount might have differed, but the crime would have played out somewhere, according to the whims of the 2 men who decided to play God.

Dr. William Petit spoke with Oprah, allowing us insight into a victim’s agonizing recovery. Looking at him, only a “shell” remained. He has reconciled himself to living, deciding that suicide would remove any possibility that he could rejoin his loved ones in the after-life. Slumped on the formal sofa, eyes squinting from behind eye glasses, Bill’s voice barely resonated. Oprah seemed to infuse life into him with her gentle probing. Perhaps the interview was cathartic to the doctor’s healing process. It’s obvious he’s in need of a spiritual transfusion.

Having lost his family and his home, which the criminals burned to destroy the evidence, Petit has lost the essence of his identity. He was Jennifer’s husband, and father to Hayley and Michaela. Without them, it’s difficult to heed well-meaning advice from those who tell him to “live in the moment.” His past gone, and his dreams of the future destroyed, he feels disconnected from the present. Upon leaving the cemetery with his sister one day, he asked her “Who am I? Whose clothes are these?” No longer the same person, Bill is unconvinced that he will find happiness, or love once again. Because he suffers post traumatic stress, he gave up his medical practice, something he says Jennifer would want him to resume. He claims to have “good” days, and “bad” days. His sister is saddened on the days when her brother is unable to get out of bed, or when he shuts himself in a room, away from life.

“What is it called when you lose a child?” Petit asks Oprah. He explains that when a husband loses his wife, he’s called a widower; when a wife loses her husband, she’s a widow. The talk show hostess suggests that it’s unnatural for a child to die before its parent, so there is no word to describe his position after the loss. Petit agrees. When asked if he can forgive those who took the lives of his loved ones, Bill first lists crimes which could be forgiven, a car accident, a theft, verbal diatribes. But, he says, “it’s inappropriate to forgive the essence of evil.”

Talk of his daughters momentarily lights up Bill Petit’s eyes which twinkle, a smile creeping across his face. He had a special relationship with the eldest, Hayley, whom he nicknamed “KK Rosebud.” Her favorite saying had been “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Smart and athletic, Hayley was bound for Dartmouth where she would continue to participate in sports as she had in high school. Had she known first love? According to her father, Hayley was in love with someone a year younger in school, for whom she would interrupt her studies to shoot hoops. Petit wished his daughter had experienced true love, before her life was snuffed out.

Michaela, the youngest, liked gardening, but loved cooking more. She cooked the family’s last meal together. Petit remembered it as being a very good meal.

Jennifer, Petit’s wife and partner in managing their lives, was a nurse and surrogate mom to the students in the boarding school where she worked. Amazingly, she also suffered with multiple-sclerosis, though she never complained about it, according to those who knew Jennifer. Daughter Hayley had started a foundation to support MS research in the hopes of saving her mom from the disease. After their deaths, Precious Petits continued the cause. Bill Petit sees the foundation’s purpose as three-fold. First, to fund educational programs, such as those in the sciences, especially to benefit young women; second, to fund MS research; and third, to help victims of violent crime.

Helping others has eased Petit’s heartache, as has knowing that the world is filled with many good people, like those who have contributed to the foundation. He knows too that Hayley and Michaela would want him to be happy. God isn’t to blame, instead they’re at a standoff, says Bill, a Christian. “He has nothing to do with what happens on earth.” Petit’s probably right.

Seems to me we’ve been given all we need to live our lives, including making our own decisions, correctly or incorrectly. There are cultures which see God manipulating their lives; that’s not our culture. Americans believe in freedom, for everyone. We also believe in hope, that we will live our lives without violence. But we know that reality is ultimately, an uncertainty. We can’t control what lies beyond our reach. So we enjoy our freedom, and hope, in silence, that our lives will be harmonious. That was Bill Petit’s expectation of his family’s life in suburban Connecticut.

But what reality subtracts from our lives, hope and freedom restores. Life is change, in small ways, as well as sizeable ones. These “detours” are the sum total of who we are, at the end of our lives. Bill Petit has just taken a detour on his journey through life, and he’s decided to go the distance. Somehow we all dig deep for the courage to go forward. What’s the alternative? Quitting? I think we’re too curious a species, not to want to know what might be just around the corner, or behind door #2, or awaiting us with the dawn of a new day. Who knows? The grandest of all gifts might still be waiting on the horizon.

Reality is, what is. Freedom and hope are what can be.

for Bill Petit as he discovers “what can be,” huge hugs…hugmamma.

 

“stretching” meals

Because there were so many mouths to feed when I was growing up, my mom was adept at “stretching” meals. I’m sure she wasn’t the only single parent, or married parents for that matter, who learned to enlarge meals by adding fiber, like oatmeal, or veggies. I was reminded of this when I tried a new meatloaf recipe the other night.

It wasn’t so much that the recipe made more, there were just added ingredients that I wasn’t accustomed to using, like grated potatoes, grated carrots and white rice. The recipe was entitled “Juicy Meatloaf.” Well it really wasn’t juicy. It was more like our dried out Thanksgiving turkey. What really struck me though, was the denseness of the meatloaf. Unlike the one I normally cook for our family, there was no “give” to this meatloaf. Each slice stood firm, and solid. And that’s how it tasted, firm and solid, not moist and juicy. It did last a few days, showing up as left-overs, alongside something else I’d cooked. So I guess the additional ingredients did “stretch” out the meatloaf. It was so dense that half-a-slice went a long way in filling my belly.

A favorite meal I serve my family is steak and onions. This dish can definitely be increased to serve more by adding items like sliced mushrooms, corn niblets, red pepper slices, and I guess anything else that’s to your liking. I’ll often look through the refrig for leftovers, which can be added. Of course everything has to be sliced thin, so they can blend while stirring. Just pour a little oil, perhaps a mixture of a couple pats of butter and canola, into a fry pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and saute. Toss in the thinly sliced steak pieces. It’s best to use the best cut you can afford, so cooking is quick. When the meat and onions brown, toss in the remaining ingredients, if any. Saute all, stirring every so often. Season with salt, pepper, and soy sauce to taste. Cover, and lower heat, cooking for another 15 minutes or so. It’s delicious served over rice, white or brown.

The same thing can be done with ground beef. I’ve never tried it with ground turkey, but it might work just as well. Serving a simple salad alongside either entrée, makes a nice meal. In these economic times, foods prepared simply can still satisfy the gourmand in all of us. By the way, one-and-a-half pounds of either meat will serve 3 adults. The more extras added, the further the entrée will “stretch.”

bon appetite!…hugmamma.

“easy overnight turkey,” the hard way

Decided to try a different turkey recipe than the one I’ve used for the past several years. The following recipe enticed me away from my tried and true. Choosing recipes entails using my vivid imagination and attention for details. As I peruse the ingredients, I can imagine the look and taste of the finished product. Hope I never lose this ability. It’s always served me well, for I’m inclined to try new recipes on guests. Talk about being fearless!

Looking through the brief instructions for the recipe I used, I could taste its magnificence, glazed to perfection, and succulent. I couldn’t resist replacing my usual way of cooking turkey, for this seemingly, old-fashioned, grandma-tested version. I’ve reprinted it below. See what you think.

EASY OVERNIGHT TURKEY  (Easy for who? Zombies? I sure felt like one on Thanksgiving Day.)

1  20-pound hen turkey (Costco only had “toms,” so I went with that. Wasn’t about to drive around on icy roads, trying to chase down a “hen.”)

1/2 stick butter

1  large clove garlic, slivered

1  large peeled onion, quartered

l large unpeeled apple, quartered

Rinse turkey and wipe dry. Rub inside and out with half the butter. Place remaining butter inside cavity. Place garlic, onion and apple in cavity. Do not salt or pepper the bird. Place breast-side down on rack in roaster. Bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees. Turn bird on back and reduce heat to 200 degrees. Bake, uncovered, without opening oven, for 10 to 12 hours. Serves 12.

(Stopped to give my fat cat, Juneau, a bear hug, so he’d stop nudging my hand as my fingers flew over the keys.)

I guess chefs follow recipes to the letter, at least the first time they try a new recipe. I’ m not a professional, just a basic cook. After 40 years of preparing meals, 3 times a day, 365 days a year, I tend to “wing it.” Unlike the early years of wedded bliss, when I cooked an entire meal before guests arrived, and reheated everything in the oven before serving them up. Talk about dried out food. Yikes!

Since I was prepping all the side dishes for overnight refrigeration, to be cooked after the turkey exited the oven the following day, I left “Tom” turkey to my husband. He attacked that bird with gusto! He even lay on the living room couch  through the night, babysitting it as it baked. Funny thing, unlike me, my husband didn’t look like a zombie Thanksgiving Day.

The recipe indicated that the turkey should cook from 10-12 hours. Not having baked a 20-pounder before, we opted for the maximum amount of time. Not having a traditional roasting pan, the large oval ones specifically manufactured for the occasion, my husband made do with the pan that is usually part of a stove purchase. You know, it’s a combo square catch pan with a top that has slits in it. Food’s broiled on top, and the drippings seep through to the pan beneath. Anyway, the turkey fit in the catch pan, so we were good to go.

As we peered through the glass oven door, we beheld a glorious sight, a beautifully, browning turkey. We oohed and ahhed many times over the course of 12 hours. At some point, I wondered if we might recommit to a different cook time, maybe 10 1/2 or 11 or 11 1/2 hours. As the bird continued to deepen in color, I thought it might also be drying out. But, of course, not knowing what the pros know, we stayed our course.

About half-an-hour before dinner, my husband brought out the amazing cooked specimen, setting it atop the counter to “rest.” Then, while I finished baking the remaining dishes, he carved the turkey. It was more like a massacre. Poor, golden, sacrificial bird, it was chopped into smithereens. There were square chunks, rectangular slabs, strips of flesh, everything but nice, thin slices of meat. I was moved enough to vow that I’d carve next Thanksgiving. I hope my brain retains the slaughtered image until then.

So how did it taste? As dry as all those reheated meals I use to serve up in my 20’s. I cautioned our dinner guests to drown the meat in Costco’s delicious gravy. For those who didn’t, I’m not sure how they managed to swallow.

Next time we tackle this recipe, and believe me there’ll be a next time, I’ll try to find a hen turkey, bake it less than 12 hours, and carve it up myself. Oh, and we’ll buy a proper roasting pan, so we don’t wind up cleaning the oven again, because of overflowing juices. I’ll still let my husband help, prep the bird and babysit the thing overnight. We’ll do it just like the pros next time.

I’m open to suggestions, especially if you try this recipe and the results are scrumptious.

Bon appetite!!!…hugmamma.