Wannabe Martha

Still trying to figure out which Martha

Falling off the end of the earth

Not quite, but it feels that way.

This year was another “first” for me.  One of those bad “firsts”.

This was the first Christmas where I’m the only one of my immediate family (Father, Mother, brothers, me) still here.

People say that time heals wounds and makes hurts go away.  I don’t think so.  I just get scabbed over.  And then I get afraid that I won’t feel.  So I rip them off.  It hurts and the wounds bleed, but at least I feel.

This evening I’m going to think about all the reasons to reflect with joy on 2013 – and it might be a hard task, but rather than wish it good riddance, I think I’d rather it just rest in peace and for that, I need to make peace with it.

Advertisements
5 Comments »

The Pod People are Here

And yesterday they took over my body and dragged it to the gym at 0700.

And did you know that the Pod People have mass?  Why yes they do, and when you get on the scale at said gym, they make you weigh more than you actually do.

Also, they think it’s a good idea to work with a trainer rather than just prance around on a treadmill.

So because of them, when you wake up the next morning your entire upper body is screaming at you.

Stupid Pod People!

10 Comments »

Guest Recipe from Morvena (YAY!)

It’s an exciting day here chez Maeve…we have a guest post and recipe from the lovely Morvena (actually it’s my first time having a guest recipe, er post that is, and I’m sort of preening all over the place – that’s some form of pride or what have you, but I don’t actually care at the moment). Anyway, without making this about me, and with no further ado, I give you….

Morvena’s Pretzel Kisses

122013_1408_2.jpg     You need:

     Parchment paper
     Square pretzels (I buy Snyder’s Snaps™ )
     Hershey Kisses™ (trademark implied from this point forward)
     Baking pan(s)
 
 
 
 
 

(1) Place parchment paper on your baking pan
(2) Place individual pretzels on the pan
(3) Place one Kiss on top of each pretzel
(4) Melt in an oven set to ~350 for about 2 minutes
(5) Remove from oven and squish one pretzel down on top of each Kiss; it should look like a little sandwich of sorts
(6) Allow to cool; works best if you can place the pan in your fridge for a little bit

Pretzel Kisses 2

Notes:

I’ve tried this with pretty much every type of Kiss (regular, Hugs, mint truffle, caramel, dark chocolate) and melt time seems to vary slightly depending on what kind of Kiss you’re using.  Hugs seem to soften the fastest, followed by regular and then the mint/dark chocolate/caramel.  In my case, the dark chocolate ones take closer to 3 minutes in the oven to soften enough to be able to squish the top pretzels down far enough.

Caramel is good, but it’s hard to get them compressed just enough to make the pretzels stick to it without squishing it too much and causing the caramel to bleed out of the sides.  They’re still *good* but stickier and messier and not as pretty.

Regular Kisses, Hugs, and the caramel ones are generally the best bet for a larger group of people. I’d limit the dark chocolate and mint truffles unless you personally like them or are making them for people that do.

Oh, and you will get melted chocolate on your fingers, but it won’t be hot enough to burn.122013_1408_1.jpg

So there you have it – quick, easy, and fun. Run out and get thee some pretzels and kisses, and whip up a batch for your family and friends. And THANK YOU MORVENA!

(Now, if Hershey’s would only come up with the PB-filled Kiss then all would be well with my universe)

10 Comments »

Laundry discussion with Iseult Part 100 – In which I expess dismay at the lack of progress

Just now…..

Me:  Iseult, you have an advanced case of garmentus eruptus on your dresser.

Iseult:  I know.

Me:  When are you going to put your clothes away?

Iseult:  I’ll get to it Mama

Me:  I really can’t comprehend how you can stand to have your stuff in such a disorganized state.

Iseult:  I am a mystery to be awakened and solved!

And thus ended the discussion…..

5 Comments »

Can one suffer from cooking blog burnout?

I subscribe a vast number of cooking blogs.  That little “ding” my phone makes every five minutes – yeah – it’s another “come read all about this awesome thing I just cooked or baked or served or whatever!”

I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by it all, possibly even resentful in an envious sort of way.  Well Maveypants, why don’t you just unsubscribe to the blogs and set about using your FIVE BILLION cookbooks?  You know, the ones that cause avalanches?  Those ones?  And maybe stay off P**terest?  And how about moving all the culinary FB pages you “LIKE” that keep showing up in your  news feed?  Hmmmmm?

Thing is, even with all the blog feeds, and the ladies posting their weekly menus and all the cookbooks and P**terest and FB, blah, blah, blah…I’ve been feeling a little uninspired with respect to dinners for the last couple weeks.  Might be the brutal work schedule I’ve been pulling.  Might be that I just get a little blue this time of year.  Might also just be excuses.  (Personally I’m kind of going with the last one, but let’s just keep in here between our selves, ‘K?)

Take last week, for example.  I actually only cooked twice – I know – TWICE.  Both times were crockpot food and then we ate various forms of leftovers.  In my own defense, I pulled some really long days last week (and I worked over the weekend); big girl had exams; little (ha) girl studying for her midterms.  The food was tasty and designed to be used in leftovers, but it’s just that I couldn’t bring myself to even think creatively about my menus – utilitarian, that’s the word I’m looking for – my menu was utilitarian.  How Bah Humbug!

This week needs to be better.

Monday – Butter Chicken with veggie sauté

Tuesday – Orecchiette with spicy chicken sausage and leeks

Wednesday – “left over chicken” & lemon soup & salad

Thursday – Jerk fish tacos

Friday – Dinner out

I was going to make the ubiquitous Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic this week (and bread from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day), but then decided that the likelihood of my peeling 40 cloves of garlic was pretty nil at the moment.  Maybe the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  If I get some time off.  Even better – I’ll have the girls cook it.

5 Comments »

Oh No – The whole milk I bought specifically for baking is about to expire! Whatever shall I do?

You knew it was just a rhetorical question, right?  I baked these….

Honey Cakes

They look a little ragged around the edges – you can take a sharp knife and clean them up (consume the evidence so nobody knows – people don’t have to know EVERYTHING!)

 

These are a variation on a coffee cake my mother made from her Joy of Cooking, 1964 Edition.  “Quick Rich Moist Coffeecake” was one of the more coveted treats in my childhood.  It really is all that the name implies, but the real mouthwatering part is the glaze – a thick, gooey honey butter glaze, Honey Bee Glaze” to be precise.

Now I have baked this as directed in a 9×11-inch pan.  I’ve baked it in a 9-inch spring form pan (not quite as successful – the seal isn’t’ as tight as it should be.  But I had never made individual cakes before.  I may never make it any other way again.

 

Quick, Rich, Moist Coffee Cake with Honey Bee Glaze

Heat oven to 350F

Make the Honey Bee Glaze:

In a small saucepan, stir and bring to the boiling point over low heat:

½ cup sugar
¼ cup milk
¼ cup butter
¼ cup honey
½ tsp. vanilla
½ cup crushed nut meats

A couple notes here – the original recipe does not call for vanilla and you can leave it out.  Also, you could use vanilla sugar (which is sublime); the nuts are optional, as there are nut issues in my house – NOT ALLERGIES, but issues (some people won’t eat them). 

Keep the glaze warm while you make the cake batter

For the cake:

Sift together:

2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt

Cut in:

½ cup butter

Break into a liquid measuring cup:

1 egg

Fill with:

Milk (enough to make 1 cup)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat the egg, milk and vanilla together and add to the dry ingredients.  Beat until smooth.

Divide the batter between 12 greased muffin cups.

Spoon about 1 Tbsp. Honey Bee Glaze over the batter (will be very full) and bake for @20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Once they’re out of the oven, you want to run a spatula around each cake and the immediately invert the pan onto a cooling rack.  I usually do this with wax or parchment paper on the counter to catch the drips.  You need to be careful because the honey glaze is about the temperature of the sun and will burn your hand off (OK – it’s more like the temp of lava….).  If there is any honey topping stuck to the muffin cups, just scoop it out and spread on the cakelet. 

DO NOT try and eat one of these right out of the oven unless you’re crushing on some cute doctor in the ER and need a very expensive and painful excuse to show up there.

Really BIG important note – I made these in a light-colored non-stick muffin tin (this one, as a matter of fact), which really helped them to release cleanly – and still used non-stick spray.  Don’t know how if a conventional pan will release as well.  Also, I reduced the temp to 325F and just watched the time carefully – as I’ve mentioned before, my oven runs hot (sometimes).

All recipes adapted from “Joy of Cooking”, Rombauer & Becker, 1964

Mother's Joy of Cooking

My mother’s copy of the Joy of Cooking. Spine is now a bookmark and it’s held together with rubber bands. I can’t remember it looking any other way

 

8 Comments »

Maeve’s Childhood Christmas Cookie Recipes

These are the cookies I make every year – and they’re also the ones my mother made.  I’ll post pictures later on as I bake them, but figured if anyone (Morvena, I’m looking at you LOL) was looking for some tried and true recipes, here they are!

Ethel’s Sugar Cookies (the recipe name, not my Mother 🙂 )

This is my go-to sugar cookie recipe; it’s the same one my mother used.  The texture is really nice.  You could vary the flavoring (maybe use some lemon or almond).  They’re not overly sweet and make a nice base for the frosting.

  • ¾ cup shortening (I used salted butter)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt

Cream the butter and sugar until light; add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well combined.  Whisk together the dry ingredients, and then add to the creamed mixture.  Chill the dough at least one hour.  Roll out your dough (@ ¼ inch thick) and cut as desired.  Bake in a 400F oven on ungreased cookie sheets (I like insulated baking sheets for these) for 6 to 8 minutes.  I always add the caveat that one should know one’s oven – some run hot and take less time.  Cool completely before frosting.  I double this recipe all the time; it freezes well, so you can make it ahead and then use when needed.

The frosting – I found this recipe on the box of SOFTASILK ® Flour.  It makes a ton and it outstanding for frosting both cookies and cakes.  I’ve made a couple tweaks, but if you want the original, it’s online at the Pillsbury website with the recipe for Deluxe Devil’s Food Cake (which is a pretty good cake too BTW).  My mother used a frosting recipe from the box of Domino’s Sugar, but this one is pretty much the same thing.

  • 1¼ cups butter, at room temperature (I use salted)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 8 – 9 Tbsp. milk (8 Tbsp. is ½ cup and I generally use just that)
  • 7½ cups (1 2-lb. bag) powdered sugar
  • Food coloring gel/paste
  • Sprinkles, etc.

On medium speed, beat the butter, salt and vanilla until creamy.  Gradually add the milk and powdered sugar alternating between the two.  Scrape the bowl frequently.  Beat on high speed and add any additional milk by the tablespoon until you get a spreading consistency.  Divide and tint as desired. 

As far as quantity goes – I have no idea how many you’ll get because we use large and small cookie cutters but you will get a lot if you double the recipe (which I always do).

 

Russian Teacakes

Certain people in my family (I’ll let you guess) are not fond of nuts in anything (which I think is nuts – haha).  My mother always made these with crushed walnuts (she used one of those nut crusher things that makes them just this side of ground – don’t use a food processor).  I think they’re better with nuts, but maybe I’m the one who’s nuts.

  • 1 cup soft butter (you know what I use by now)
  • ½ cup sifted confectioner’s sugar (and yes – I do recommend you sift it)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flout
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¾ cups finely chopped nuts (optional)

Mix the butter, sugar and vanilla thoroughly.  Blend together the flour and the salt and stir into the creamed mixture.  Add the nuts if you’re using them.  Chill the dough for an hour or so.

Heat the oven to 400F.  Roll the dough into 1-inch balls (I end up using a cookie scoop).  Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 10 – 12 minutes (you know your own oven).  While still warm, roll in confectioner’s sugar.  Cool, then roll again in the powdered sugar.  Hide them.

Makes about 4 dozen 1-inch cookies

(Note – I’ve never gotten 4 dozen from one recipe – probably because I make them larger than 1 inch.  Also, this dough doubles really well,)

 

Snickerdoodles

Next to the chocolate chip cookie, this is the single most requested cookie in my household.  My mother made them exclusively in the winter and served them with hot chocolate.  We always had them when decorating our Christmas tree.

  • 1 cups soft shortening (I use salted butter)
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt

Heat oven to 400F.

Mix shortening, sugar and eggs thoroughly.  Sift together the dry ingredients, then stir into the creamed mixture.  Roll the dough into 2-inch balls.  Then roll in a mixture of 2 Tbsp. sugar & 2 tsp. cinnamon.  Place them 2-inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 8 – 10 minutes.  Cool on wire racks.  They will puff up and then flatten out when they cool.

Makes about 5 dozen 2-inch cookies – says the cookbook – I never get that many.  You’re really going to need to hide them.

Recipes for Ethel’s Sugar Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes, and Snickerdoodles from Better Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook, 1961. 

16 Comments »

The Gauntlet has been Flung

An excerpt from Chapter 30:

“My gracious Lord and King,” said Myles, “I, the son of the accused, do offer myself as his champion in this cause, beseeching thee of thy grace leave to prove the truth of the same, being a belted knight by thy grace and of thy creation and the peer of any who weareth spurs.”

Thereupon, rising, he drew his iron gauntlet from his girdle, and flung it crashing down upon the floor, and with his heart swelling within him with anger and indignation and pity of his blind father, he cried out in a loud voice, “I do accuse thee, William of Alban, that thou liest vilely as aforesaid, and here cast down my gage, daring thee to take it up.”

 From “Men of Iron”, by Howard Pyle, copyright  1891

(Seriously, is that not the best challenge EVER?)

11 Comments »

Sunday Sillies

For once, words fail me.  But I think I might start crying.

Chubby Glitter Unicorn T-shirt

Chubby Glitter Unicorn T-shirt

(Iseult has advised me that she would love this for Christmas and would wear it proudly.  Where did I go wrong?????)

 

20 Comments »

People you don’t want to live next door to you

That would be us.  And not because I have dead plants in my front yard (they’re gone and the pansies are blooming); not because I don’t own a lawnmower (the teenage boys next door make a mint off of my lawn); not because of the swamp in the back yard (hey – I have the algae issue under control); and not because the house needs power-washing (appointment has been scheduled).

It’s the dog.  I have the peskiest, most passive-aggressive, barkiest dog to have ever patrolled a yard.  EVER.  AMEN.  THE END.

Her newest schtick:  stand at the foot of the backstairs and bark incessantly for an invitation to climb said stairs and enter the house.  It’s actually a little more complicated than that.  She doesn’t actually like to climb stairs (also she’s old, so it’s harder for her) and a bit of a running start is needed.  Some of the time, she makes the connection between “running start = getting up the stairs”.  Other times, not so much.  This morning was a “not so much” morning and necessitated me descending into the yard to chase her around the pool so that she could make it up.  Seriously.  At 0600.  In my jammies.  In the dark. 

The picture of innocence

The picture of innocence – NOT!!!

(Once, because I had nothing better to do, I just timed how long she would sit there and bark – 25 solid minutes!  I finally caved and chased her around the yard because the barking was making me crazy.)

4 Comments »