Monday, December 31, 2018

Residual Effects Of The Fires

You wouldn't think when a fire occurs way up in Northern California, it would affect us much, other than maybe a little smoke.  I hate to admit it, but I've lived in this valley on and off for over .... nah, I'm not going to say ... but for a VERY long time.

I have never seen such devastating fires like this last year.  Personally, I blame the politicians and environmentalists that refused to let those who work the land burn off the underbrush.  We did it for years in the high country where we ran cattle (mostly to clear dead trees) and there were no huge conflagrations.

At any rate, I'm certainly feeling the effects of it here.  Just look at all the junk streaming off the roof of my rig.  Of course much of it is from the sun's rays that cause oxidation of the roof coating, but it's never EVER been anywhere near this bad.

To make matters worse, it sticks like glue.  You really have to brave the heights of a ladder in order to clean it off, and even then you never get it all.  This was my task yesterday.
Even at the top of a ladder, I wasn't tall enough to get it really clean.  By the way, do YOU have one of those motion sensor lights over your door?  Did your lenses disintegrate like mine?  TWICE?  Yes, I replaced them once (at the same time as everyone else who complained they didn't even last one year), but alas, they are completely broken out.  I was wondering why the light stayed on all the time.

More evidence of crud from the roof flowing down the side.  This isn't even the worst side.  Ugh ... I wasn't looking forward to this at all.  I'm hoping to get it washed and waxed in Yuma, but am not sure the Park where I am staying will allow it.  
Here's where all my RVing friends come in .... PLEASE PLEASE!!  Either I posted something somewhere (which of course I will never find again) or someone ELSE posted something about something somewhere!!  Just kidding.  But really, there was a conversation about roof coatings.  

The nice gentleman said he washed his roof, let it dry, then applied two coats of elastomeric coating with a paint roller.  I actually did a screen shot so I would have the info, but of course cannot find it now.  Does anyone have any information?

I know it would help if I knew the TYPE of roof I have, fiberglass or something else.  Apparently it makes a difference on what product you use.  

So my friends, this will be the first big project when I arrive in Arizona, or at least when the weather warms up a little.  This just HAS to be done!!  Maybe someone knows someone who knows someone.  Actually, I could use a little help, so maybe there is even someone who does this sort of thing.

Not nearly as clean as I would like, but it's the best I can do.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to really scrub the top, so it's going to happen again with the next rain.  Double and triple RATS!!
Yeah, you caught me.  This picture is from last year because I forgot to take one of the finished product after washing.  It's too dark to get one now, so I'll post it tomorrow.

In the meantime, I hope everyone has fun New Year's Eve party plans as we celebrate 2019.  Who thought we would ever make it past Y2K?  My big celebration will consist of a glass of wine in front of the fireplace snuggling with my two kids.

CHEERS to a GREAT 2019!!!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

My Kind Of Sign

I laughed when I saw this on the internet.  It fits me perfectly.  Not that I drink a lot of wine ... I can survive on a single small glass once a week, if that.  I definitely need my puppies though, who keep me company, snuggle with me at night and make me laugh all day long.
Not the best picture in the world, but here we are cuddled up on the couch.  This was the last picture my friend took before losing her phone at Walmart.  Speaking of Walmart, I forgot to mention the Def fluid.  

My rig was one of the first to come out with a Def requirement and a tank to hold such requirement.  Problem is, they put the tank on the wrong side of the rig.  The only way to fill it at a fuel station is to head in the wrong direction.

Truckers don't like us taking up their space, so you can imagine how happy they are when they see that.  To keep the peace, I prefer to buy it at Walmart.  Yes, it's probably more expensive, but worth NOT having a hassle.  

I looked at the price on the shelf ... $14.95 and was thinking GEE, Wally World has upped their price.  It used to be $11.88.  I bought three.  Wasn't I surprised to find out the REAL price was only $7.88 for a 2-1/2 gallon container.  YAY FOR WALLY WORLD!!  It's now $4 cheaper.
It's officially freezing in Central California.  Several days in a row now we have had below freezing mornings.  I cringe every time I hear the heating system come on.  I have to say it's not much better in Arizona where my second home lives.  It's been down to 26 something there!!  Maybe it will freeze out all the pack rats!

To keep busy, I've been baking once more.  This is a super simple shortbread recipe you make in less than ten minutes, then put in the fridge.  They are supposed to be perfectly round rolls before slicing them, but as you can see, I wasn't very good at the rolling part.
Nevertheless, they came out delicious.  These were at the request of Jonathan.  He's finally gotten tired of the bits of peanut butter cookie he gets.  In case you were wondering, he's SO happy his morning scrambled eggs are now warm from the microwave.

This kid eats better than I do.  Chopped apple, grated carrots, sunflower seeds in the shell and out, safflower seeds, banana, banana bread, spinach and a specially baked corn biscuit are his usual morning fare, along with scrambled eggs and sometimes toast.  That's probably why he has lived so very long.
It's getting closer and closer to take off time and I need to hit the hose and bucket.  I'll show you pictures of what I'm up against tomorrow.  Unfortunately, it's going to require a ladder ... a very TALL ladder.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

I'm Dancin' I'm Dancin'

Out with the old and in with the NEW!!!  I danced around the kitchen and giggled like a little kid.  How could I be so excited over a kitchen appliance?  Of course all that happened after the small disaster.

When I ordered the microwave on line, it said Walmart was the only one who could deliver it before January 1.  In fact, delivery would be on December 28.  Later that day, I got an email that said ESTIMATED delivery date December 28.  No no no ... I need it NOW!!!

My friend Cyndae from Sacramento is visiting again and I refused to go anywhere until I got the email saying it was ready for pickup.  Just after noon, I checked my junk mail.  YES!!!  IT'S HERE!

We jumped in my truck and rushed to Walmart, parking at the very far end of the lot because of all the Christmas sale shoppers.  I went inside to use their new touch screen to tell them I was there.  Instantly my name and the apple of my eye "microwave" came up on the board.

I was so excited I couldn't stand it when Joe came out with the biggest box I've ever seen.  Uh oh ... I'm not sure that will fit.  They loaded it in a basket and carried it to the truck for me.  So far everything is going PERFECT.  In no time I'll have that nice cup of microwaved coffee.
That's when disaster happened and we didn't even know it.  Cyndae had gone with me to get dog food, since she brought her dog, but not the food.  We got in the truck and drove back home.  As I pulled into the garage, I hear "where's my phone?"  

Oh nooo ... did you leave it in Walmart?  No idea, so I called her number.  Amazingly, someone answered ... someone who didn't speak English.  I said "my phone", she said "no speak English".  Where are you, I asked?  Target (which happens to be next to Walmart).

We jumped in the truck and I drove like a race car driver back to Walmart.  Poor Cyndae was hanging on for dear life.  When we got there, I called the phone again and got someone who said Customer Service Walmart.  

Cyndae raced inside to find a very nice lady with three kids sitting in a chair waiting for her.  She offered the nice lady $20, but she refused it.  Gosh, you just don't run into nice people very often around here.  She gave the lady's son the $20.

Lucky for Cyndae, her drivers license, military I.D., credit cards and cash were all intact.  I told her she really needed to buy a wallet and keep that stuff separate from her phone.

Back to the house, it was time to unveil my prize!!  I was very scared it was going to be too wide, but someone was looking down on us both.  It fits perfectly in the hole left by the previous owners wine fridge.  WE HAVE TOUCHDOWN!!!  And it works, which is always a bonus!!

I hate to say that Walmart has become my go-to store, but you can get everything there, or at least almost everything.  The previous day's trip netted more gelatin, Def fluid which I was out of for the rig, four big bottles of water for the RV rally outdoor cooking and Valentine's Day candy.

Yup ... it wasn't even December 27 and they had Valentines candy and cards on the shelves.  The candy is for the rally too ... whoever has the best candy on their group's table, wins the most newcomers attention.

I hate those do-it-yourself check out stations which eliminate employees, but honestly found I love them when it comes to checking out.  This Walmart has only had two employees checking folks purchases anyway, even if there are ten stations available.  The lines were always LONG!  

Doing it yourself bypasses all the talking and chitty chatting about those adorable jammies they have on, or what their current shampoo is, not to mention changing their mind about purchases.  I checked myself out in a matter of seconds, only using two bags instead of the usual six and even got cash back.  I was dancing in the aisles.

Yup .... Walmart just might become my full time store.   

Friday, December 28, 2018

Ooey, Gooey and YUMMY!!

Who's made marshmallows in their very own kitchen??  It can't be THAT hard, right?  With not a lot else going on at the moment, I decided to give it a shot.  I've had them before and they are NOTHING like the ones you buy in the store.

First and foremost is two packages of gelatin.  Kind of like jello, but without the flavoring. That's something you would never find in my kitchen, so I had to make a Walmart trip.  I needed Def fluid for the rig too, or I would have gone somewhere else.  THAT is tomorrow's story!!

Anyway, back to marshmallows.  Dump the gelatin into a big mixer with some water.  Actually, do not DUMP because it splashes all over and makes a big mess.  The instructions SHOULD say stir lightly.  There was no mention of STIR.

In the meantime, sugar, water and corn syrup are boiled until it reaches 240 degrees.  At the time I was thinking "here's another one of those pour carefully down the side of the bowl" things.
That of course didn't work well since there's absolutely NO pour space in these mixers.  It went down the side of the bowl where it stuck, making for a nice waterfall effect.  Turn on high.  I thought the bowl and all were going to go flying off into the kitchen!!  

Let it go for 15 minutes.  Yikes!!  That gives you time to prepare the pan.  First off this should have been placed in an 8 x 8 pan, not a 9 x 13, but I followed the directions.  Spray with cooking spray and pour in powdered sugar mixed with a little cornstarch.  No, it did NOT say to sift it first.  

In no time, I had big lumps of powdered sugar and cornstarch on the counter, all over my jeans and even in my hair.  Every time I turned around, there was another "poof" of it on the floor.  

When 14 minutes had passed, I poured in a teaspoon of peppermint flavoring.  That was just enough moisture to make the mixer go wild as I hung on for dear life, not wanting it to land on the floor.

Finally ..... it's DONE.  I squeezed out a few drops of red food coloring to look more pepperminty and dumped it in the pan.  It wasn't the easiest thing to spread, but who cares.  I've already got the wire beater in my mouth getting every last vestige of marshmallow.  It's FABULOUS!!!!!
Now comes the hard part.  The waiting game.  I sprinkled the very top with more powdered sugar, mostly by just shaking my shirt and left it to rest for 5-24 hours.  I think that's the hardest thing I've ever done.

At long last, the time was up.  You of course know I only waited 4 hours and 45 minutes.  I spread more powdered sugar over a pastry cloth (an old pillow case) and dumped them out, completely shocked that they didn't stick.  Now for the pizza cutter method of cutting them up.  

That didn't go real well since none of them came out the same size.  I tried to measure, but nothing worked.  They all ended up pretty wonky, but who cares.  I dusted the VERY sticky edges one more time.

If you've never experienced these delicate puffs of sweet goodness, you should make some yourself.  They are melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  I just can't get enough of them.  Yeah, there was maybe three or four missing before I even got them in a container.
That's when I got the bright idea to dip them in chocolate.  Just melt chocolate chips and dunk them like strawberries, right?  That would be wrong.  With no microwave, I tried the glass bowl atop a pot of boiling water.  

It melted the chips alright, but it was too thick.  Maybe a little cream will thin it down.  Oh oh oh NO.  NEVER EVER put a cold liquid in melted chocolate.  It makes the entire bowl seize up like concrete.  Wait ... I've seen this on those cooking championship shows.  Just add a little more and heat it back up.  

As you can guess, that didn't work AT ALL.  By then I was almost on the floor with laughter.  I threw it all out and started over, this time adding NOTHING to the chocolate.  That made the dipping a little difficult since it was pretty thick, but that just makes for MORE chocolate per bite.  

Pretty messy looking, but five minutes in the fridge made these the most decadent peppermint marshmallows I've ever eaten.  I could eat the entire tray in one sitting!!!
I packaged up all my pretties in zip lock bags and am keeping them in the freezer.  I'm limiting myself to one per day and making it last as long as possible.  They are so good, I'm going BACK to Walmart for more gelatin.  

Time to clean up the mess, which is when I discovered half a package of gelatin pretending to be Gorilla glue on the bottom of the pan.  I let it soak.  It refused to budge.  I dug at it with a knife.  It STILL wouldn't budge.  I finally boiled some water and poured it in while chipping away with a screwdriver.  At long last, it dislodged itself.  Next time remember to stir lightly.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Clean Up On Aisle One!!!

Thanks to the motorhome microwave, I'm at least able to reheat and repeat my wonderful Christmas dinner.  I have to say I'm appreciating both the food and the microwave much more than in the past.

I'm pretty sure Jonathan hasn't appreciated his breakfast however.  His morning biscuits are kept frozen in the freezer.  So far cold scrambled eggs and hard muffins haven't gone over so well.

With the last of the quiche going away, I thought I might try something for breakfast for ME that could be reheated in the Breville oven.  I've been looking for a scone recipe and CRANBERRY scones sounded perfect.  Have you ever worked with these little jewels?  Aren't they just gorgeous?

Little did I know!!!  The recipe said to chop them on a cutting board.  The first three hit the floor before I even grabbed a knife.  One swipe with my beautiful kitchen cutter and half of them went flying through the air, ending up under the stove, under the fridge and rolling clear into the living room.

I finally ended up cutting them one at a time with a small paring knife, and even then some ended up on the floor.  What a mess that was!!
I finally got the dough patted out on a sheet pan, WAY too small for the three circles of dough, even though the directions said they would fit.  Into the oven they went.  I wish I knew exactly what the temperature was.  I have a thermometer inside the oven, but who knows if it is correct.  I jacked it up to 400 degrees in the hopes of getting 350.

Lightly browned, I removed them from the oven and waited for them to cool.  Some jam would be nice, but instead, I smothered one in butter.  I took a bite.  Instantly I knew ..... cemetery material ... not exactly raw, but rather gummy in the middle.

I actually tried to bake them a little longer, hoping to salvage SOMETHING.  At least the cranberries were delicious, even if they did have a little dirt on them from the floor.  I washed them, really I did.

Those big crows in my back yard think they are wonderful.  After all, they eat garbage out of the neighbors cans all the time.  I don't even think a microwave would help these babies.
Not to worry, I received these beautiful little petit fours along with a Merry Christmas wish from my only nephew.  Truthfully, I was expecting some of those wonderful homemade marshmallows his wife makes, but I love these too.  

I have to admit, I was a LITTLE concerned when I saw something about WARNING ... CANCER on the top of the box.  Wait .... is that for real????  I ate a couple, thinking they tasted really good, if a little stale.  I ate a few more and a couple more after that.  BIG mistake!!  My stomach instantly did some big flip flops when the last one went down.  

I double and triple checked the box, to find a small note saying these were SUGAR FREE.  Maybe that's why they didn't sit well.  Why on earth would you make such a decadent treat SUGAR FREE??   

Not giving up, nor looking a gift horse in the mouth again, I'm going to try one more time, sampling just one or two.  If that doesn't work, the crows are going to have a Merry Christmas!
I'm off today in search of an Interstate battery for the Jeep.  I really don't want to pay an overpriced  dealer to install it, so if I can find one, I'll have my Bingo buddy (who is on speed dial now) put it in for me.  

I've actually washed half the rig ... she looks beautiful ... and sanitized the water tank.  It's been fun with temperatures at 34 in the morning, going up to 50 in the afternoon, helped along by a VERY leaky hose.  Time to start thinking about packing up.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

POOF!!! Just Like That It Was GONE!

Santa gave me coal for Christmas!  Yeah, he looks like a jolly old elf, all sweet and smiling, but when he came to MY house Christmas eve, he caused total havoc.  Apparently I've been looking my gift horse in the mouth.  Who knew you could rely on something so heavily that when it's gone, you just stand there and stare.
That's what happened to me Christmas morning.  Maybe Santa was mad I didn't put up a tree.  First thing, with sleepy eyes, I grabbed my coffee cup, filled it with water and stuffed it in the microwave.  A minute later, it wasn't the least bit hot.  I ran it again ... and again ... and again.  POOF!!!  Just like that it quit working.  No warning signs, no loud noises, no bangs ... it just QUIT!!
Believe it or not, it took a minute to figure out how I was going to get coffee.  AHA!!!  I have a Keurig in the closet.  I whipped it down, filled the water container and hit the button.  It growled and grumbled, kind of like me first thing in the morning, then began spewing out ..... NOTHING.

I emptied it and tried again .... and again ... and STILL nothing.  I put it away.  Now what?  This is just WAY too much for 4:30 in the morning!  Finally, an actual pot on the stove heated up my water.
At least the oven was heating up as I worked to cook my Christmas dinner.  Turkey .... check!  It was the most beautiful turkey breast I've ever seen ... HUGE in fact ... that required I slather it with butter and spices.  Oh wait ... I need to melt the butter.  I put it in a paper bowl and had it in the microwave before I remembered.  I tried it again, just to be sure.  Nope ... not going to happen.  I have one small pan ... I melted it on the stovetop.  YAY!  Only 3 hours to perfection.
Now it's the waiting game.  How about a piece of quiche for breakfast?  I'll heat it up in the ....... microwave.  Or not!  I looked around the kitchen trying to figure out how to reheat THIS one.  I finally opted for a frying pan, kind of like reheating pizza.  The crust came out a beautiful black color!  Somehow that didn't work out like I expected.

I passed the time playing with the puppies, squawking at Jonathan and double checking the patio for kitties.  I remembered the potatoes ... check!   Those cook in a pan on the stove, as will the gravy when the turkey is done.  Hmmmm I need a vegetable.  

I scrounged through the fridge to find some broccoli.  Perfect ... I'll microwave it!  Oh wait ...  no kidding, I thought about how I could cook it in the oven, or at least the Breville oven, to no avail.  I searched through my cabinets for another small pan to place on the stove.  AHA!!  Found it.

That's when I remembered those plastic microwave pans don't work well on a gas burner.  RATS!!  I guess I'll have to wash that last pan and use it again.  

When was the last time you had boiled broccoli?  Of course I only added enough water for the microwave, so it was a tad brown on the bottom and WAY over done ... you know, that funny green color of overcookedness (my new word).  

At long last,  I was ready to carve the turkey.  WOW!!  What a turkey!!  It was done to perfection and I have enough to feed a family of EIGHTEEN!!

In the interest of full disclosure, I ate one bite of the broccoli and tossed it in the trash.  There's no use spoiling this magnificent turkey dinner.  
Now to deal with the leftovers.  It took me over an hour to cut it all up, make bags with my Foodsaver and get it in the freezer.  I've no idea how in the world I'm going to reheat ANY of this dinner without a microwave.  Who knew I had become SO dependent!  Course I am the Queen of Lean Cuisine!!  WAIT!!!  How am I going to heat up THOSE dinners?

Two hours later, I finally found a replacement unit on the internet from Walmart.  It's the exact same one and costs $20 more than any of the others, but I can pick it up THIS Friday, versus three weeks from now.  Otherwise I'm going to have a few problems heating everything up on the stove with only two tiny pans.  I mean really, how to you reheat turkey??  In a saucepan??

So Santa Claus, thanks for the Christmas morning adventure, but I'm going to fool you.  I'll be taking all my meals in my MOTORHOME for the next three days!!!  HA!!!  Take that Mr. Santa Claus!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

A Visit From St. Nicholas???

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not puppy or mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes St. Nicholas soon would be there.
The puppies were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of chew sticks danced in their heads.
And me in my jammies, my robe and my cap,
Had just taken a pill for a long winters nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
Puppies sprang from their bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the door they flew like a flash, 
as I tripped on squeaky balls left in my path.

The moon on the breast of the new fallen frost, 
Gave a lustre of midday to chew toys lost.
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a big black cat with a decided sneer.
With a yowl and a hiss, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he wasn't St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his paws they did move,
as Cooper and Jessie got into their groove.
WAIT Cooper .... BACK Jessie ... No chasing the kittens
I frantically yelled as I pulled on my mittens.
With fur sticking straight up into the air,
and a tail the size of a grizzly bear,
I watched kitty up to the fence top fly,
with a scream that would make a baby cry.

The puppies they raced around and around,
Until back to the house they finally bound.
They were covered in stickers from heat to foot,
As I did my best to make them stay put.
I drug out my clippers, my scissors, my brushes, 
To clean up the mess of puppy bulrushes. 

As I peered through the windows to check on the damage,
I spotted the kitty trying to manage.
As he leapt through the bushes, he gave me a yowl
and flew out of sight with one last HOWL!!

Two hours later with stickers piled high,
The puppies slept as I gave a big sigh.

A visit from St. Nick?  It gave me a fright.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Monday, December 24, 2018

I Didn't Waffle On Taste Testing

See what I did there?  Yeah ....... anyway, on to the waffles and pancakes at the Yankee Hill Cooking School.  It was interesting to see three kids there this time.  I rather imagine they will not return.

It's pretty hard to keep eight year old fingers out of the food and away from the knives.  I mean really, when you were a kid, did you touch a gas stove burner to see if it was hot?  When they climbed up on the counter after being told to watch in the mirror, I thought Chef Ron would say something.

Instead, the mother in charge got the evil eye.  When the kids grabbed the first seven ebelskivers without giving anyone else a taste, they disappeared, never to be seen again.  Someone should have explained the rules.
At any rate, Swedish pancakes were next up on the menu.  We threw together a quick batter with a rather runny consistency.  Here's a tip for you .... they took a butter knife and stabbed a cube of butter on the end.  

It became an instant handle to swish butter around the hot pan before pouring in a ladle of batter.  As you can see, in about 40 seconds, they were beautifully brown.  Let the flipping begin.  Although we all thought about flipping with the pan, we used the spatula instead.

I have to admit, these were not my favorite.  I've never been a pancake girl.  If you wrapped them around whipped cream and chocolate, I might like them better.  Basically they had little flavor.
Honestly, I've never been a fan of waffles either, so I wasn't the first in line to taste test these.  Again, we whipped the egg whites into a frenzy before folding in.  Just before closing the lid, he dropped in some chocolate chips.  Ugh ... that didn't sound very good.

While they cooked, we made maple syrup.  In the days of Jessie James, my Mom used to make all our syrup.  It's simple really .... dump one cup of sugar into 1/2 cup of boiling water, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Add one teaspoon of maple flavoring and let simmer until it becomes clear.  There you have it ... instant maple syrup.

It's almost nuclear and lasts in the fridge forever.  If it crystallizes, just reheat and serve.

Time for a taste test.  Oh my goodness ..... who would have thought waffles could taste this good, even with chocolate chips?  I may just have to head out to the Thrift Store and find a waffle machine. 
This batter was made a little differently .... all with buttermilk by the way .... and cooked in a cute little machine that made it look like a flower.  They are also MUCH thinner.  Again, they put chocolate chips in the center.  

Once baked and cut apart, each section was placed on the plate to make the flower.  That didn't work so well for me, since by the time the plate was full, they were rather cold.  Maybe keep them in the oven while flower making?
More powdered sugar .... making it look like snow.  Smother these in that maple syrup and you have breakfast AND dessert.  There were also berries and jam if you wished.  Can't find fresh blackberries in the store?  Go to the Grocery Outlet or Dollar Store he says, for anything out of season.
Lastly, we went for the savory sauces.  Chef Ron took one of these waffles, added an over-easy egg and topped it with hollandaise sauce.  Funny how all that tasted good together!

Next up .... mushroom sauce.  Two ounces butter melted in a large fry pan, along with eight ounces of mushrooms.  Let it cook down until just a little juice remains.  Add maybe 1-1/3 cups low sodium (or homemade) chicken stock and reduce until half the liquid is gone.  Add 4 ounces white wine and reduce again.  Add 4 ounces of cream and reduce to half again.  

Herein lies the problem.  He added chicken stock in the class, but did not put chicken stock on the recipe.  I will probably leave this recipe right here until I meet up with him again.  I have to say, it was the most flavorful sauce I've ever eaten.  Throw in a couple of almost cooked thin pieces of pan fried chicken and fifteen minutes later you have dinner!

Want to do a taste test without burning your mouth?  Take a teaspoon and touch the BACK of it to the sauce.  By the time it gets to your mouth, it will be cooled enough not to burn you.  Of course we all stuck a spoon in the sauce to see if it worked.  Just don't keep using the same spoon!!

There were no take-homes from this class, other than a full stomach.  Surprisingly, I guess I like waffles after all.  I'm pretty sure they are 100% carbs which everyone is avoiding these days, but on special occasions, they would be mighty tasty.  Yes, you can freeze the leftovers, rewarming them in a toaster oven.  That's MY kind of food.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

You Say Ebelskiver, I say Aebleskiver

Aebleskivers (pronounced e-bull-ski-vers) are the Scandinavian equivalent to donuts ... sort of.  I had never heard of it until I signed up for this Yankee Hill Winery cooking class.  To be truthful, I've enjoyed these so much, I didn't care WHAT they cooked.

Chef Ron runs a tight ship and rules the Roost, like any good Chef worth his salt.  When he says quiet, you can hear a pin drop.
At 80 years of age, he hasn't slowed down one bit.  At his direction, we made up the batters, then he demonstrated the cooking techniques.  This one is unique, to be sure.  I always wondered what those crazy cast iron skillets with the round holes were for.  
Ebelskivers are for that lazy Sunday morning with your family in the kitchen.  Why?  Because you have to whip the egg whites until stiff and fold them in to the batter.  That all takes a little time.  Then you drop about a quarter cup into each buttered hole in the already hot pan.

Almost immediately, he grabbed a fondue fork (another reason to take that fondue box off the top shelf), stuck it in the batter and lightly turned it one quarter turn.  Yikes!!!  I thought he was going to have a big mess on his hands ... that batter was raw as could be!!  
Another 30 seconds went by and he turned them again.  This is where it got interesting.  We chopped up ham and cooked bacon, placing a little bit onto each ebelskiver, right into the raw dough.  Apparently the Swedish like jam because they put teaspoons of the sweet stuff in each one instead of bacon or ham.
Turn and turn again, for about three minutes.  Are they done?  You test them by sticking a stick ... or the fondue fork ... right into the middle.  If it comes out clean, they are ready.
He then handed the bowl and tools to me, saying he already knew how to do it.  I look so serious, right?  That's because the pan was getting too hot and they were starting to burn.  OH NO!!!  I kept turning them faster and faster as I tried to turn the stove down.  Of course I shut the burner off completely.  Not once, but TWICE.  I never said I was good in the kitchen.
Don't they look delicious??  As soon as they were on the plate, they disappeared.  
The plain ones are usually served with powdered sugar and jam.  The Scandinavians sure do like their powdered sugar.  The savory bacon and ham ones we made were served just like eggs benedict.
That means you need sauce.  Hollandaise sauce to be exact, something I have never tried to make.  There's WAY too much whipping involved for me to do that.  But WAIT!!  You can make it in your blender.  

I hope you like butter.  Chef Ron's motto is the more butter, the better.  Well this recipe has a LOT!  Blend one egg, one tablespoon of lemon juice and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard (or more if you want).  

Once very smooth, start pouring in TWO CUPS of melted butter, VERY slowly, trying all the while not to make a big mess and get butter all over the floor and counter, like Chef Ron did.  I'm glad it wasn't me.

Instead of poached eggs, they fry one over easy, place three bacon ebelskivers on top and cover in sauce.  That plate disappeared in less then 3 seconds.  Oh my gosh it was good!!

In the interest of time, I'll finish this up tomorrow, as we made three types of waffles, super simple Swedish pancakes, homemade Maple syrup and a mushroom sauce to die for.  It was three hours of Sunday morning brunch!  

On the way up, I spent 40 minutes walking Columbia looking for photo ops.  I actually found Santa Claus, but he wouldn't let me take a picture.  I got the rooster instead, but that too is for another day.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Boot Scootin' Takes A Break

If you've read my blog for awhile, you know I'm NOT about selfies.  I rarely EVER take them, mostly because I never like the results.  Just because it's Christmas, I decided I needed just one as I headed out to the Bingo Volunteer Dinner.

Since the cowgirl in me will never leave, and since I retired (code for I can wear anything I want), you will never see me in "shoes".  Its cowboy boots or barefoot with maybe a few sandals thrown in when it's hot.

THIS night I thought I would throw everyone a curve and wear ..... wait for it ....... HIGH HEELS!  With levis, of course, mostly because that's all I have in my closet.  I figured everyone would be shocked.

I have to admit, it took me three tries to find a pair that didn't kill my feet instantly.  I wobbled a tad on the first few steps.  My boots are mostly "high" heels, but they are also two plus inches across.  Balancing on a half inch piece of plastic took some doing.  It's funny because I wore high heels for probably 30 years at work.

It took four tries to get a picture, a blurry one at that.  It seems since I updated my iPhone, the pictures are not as good.  Anyway, here you go ..... sans boots.
I feel rather like Imelda Marcos ... remember the pictures of the shoes in her closet?  There's been lots of boot scootin' in these over the years.
So I get to the party, walking ever so careful on the new laminate floor, and not one single person realized I wasn't wearing cowboy boots.  I click clicked around the room noticing that most people clean up really nice.  A couple of them, I didn't even recognize, but come to find out, they are part of the kitchen crew that cooks the burgers and dogs on Tuesday nights.

I sat at the first table with a TREE view, hoping the waitress would take our order first.  That would be a NO.  Apparently she was a bartender and not a waitress.  She started at the very back of the room.  I was the last person to place my order.  Sadly, I knew exactly what that meant.
Friday night dinners at the lodge are a real event in this small town of no restaurants and nothing to do.  It's always crowded with 100-200 dinners served.  Mix in an additional 50 bingo volunteers and the wait can be excruciatingly long.  

We plied ourselves with soup, salad and drinks.  I figured to take the dinner home in a box.  Pretty soon, the plates began to arrive as the waitress/bartender balanced ONE at a time in her hand.  Finally, one of the ladies went to the kitchen and began to carry plates herself.  

As I wandered through the lodge looking for salt and pepper, I saw the kitchen prep area full to the brim with plates of food, all getting cold, in spite of the warmer.  Where's all the help???

Be patient people ... it's FREE.  Ninety minutes later my cold dinner arrived.  I chucked it in a to-go box and headed out the door, along with everyone else at our table.  I can't wait to get home today and have that chicken cordon bleu and baked potato.  That is if I have any room left in my stomach.

Today is ebelskiver and Scandinavian pancake baking in Columbia.  I'm still full from last night's soup and salad.  To make my stomach even more uncomfortable, there's a secondary bingo party with all English/Scottish food tonight.  That should be interesting.  I see a food coma in my near future.

Maybe I should take the bottle of Tums with me.

Friday, December 21, 2018

It's A Little Crowded Around Here

Yesterday brought an emergency trip to the Doctor's Office.  Not for me (happily) but sadly for my little Cooper.  My poor baby has had an ear problem for a couple of days.  Living on a ranch, we learned to doctor everything from horses to nuts, the nuts being us kids of course.

You got a cut?  Pour iodine on it.  You need stitches?  Pour iodine on it.  You got a mosquito bite?  Pour iodine on it.  You get the picture.  But when my baby puppy gets an ear infection, I go directly to the Vet without passing go.  Actually I did use some medicated powder for a couple of days, to no avail.

I imagine you can guess the Vets office is NOT Cooper's favorite place to go.  I have to drag him kicking and screaming.  Unfortunately the techs are not quite as compassionate as I am.  They shaved his ear, pulled out all the hair (omg I just can't imagine how great THAT felt!!) and doused it with medicine.

Now that we have tortured him, you can take him home.  Don't put anything in his ear for a month.

I have to mention here that the Vet is Dr. Christine McFadden.  The name may be familiar to you.  I've been seeing her ever since she got out of Vet School and opened her little business on the South side of town.

That was when I was in to raising exotic birds.  Parrots, cockatoos, macaws ... and the only Vet was in San Diego.  I drove down there many times with sick birds.  Christine was a money saver for me when she specialized in exotic animals.

She is the one that kept Jonathan alive through two long bouts of pneumonia-like illness where I had to give him shots in the belly, twice a day.  It took months for him to get over it both times, but amazingly, he's still alive and squawking disco, kitty kitty kitty!

You might be able to google the rest of her story, a tragedy like no other involving her children.
The good thing about the trip to the Vet is that I bought a bag of treats, made in the USA of course, that distracted Cooper on the way home.  He has such an expressive face, it just kills me.  Once on the couch, he shook his head constantly until lots of snuggles put him to sleep.  
I'm presently sitting on the front two inches of my little office chair with Cooper cuddled in my lap.  Behind me, also on my LITTLE office chair is Jessie.  If Cooper gets to sit in my lap, she gets to sit behind me.  It's a little crowded around here this morning.

One place it WASN'T crowded was at the Elks Lodge last night ... Lawyer's night.  I guess it's because no one likes lawyers, right?  Turns out they didn't serve shark after all.  The last time they tried it, everyone said it was terrible.  Apparently they didn't advertise New York steaks loud enough. 

That worked in my favor.  Every dinner has raffle prizes you can win with the magic ticket number ... kind of like Bingo.  For some reason, the Lawyers like booze.  Rarely do I ever win, but THIS time, with so few people, I won a nice bottle of Ketel One vodka.  Perfect for those bloody Mary's at the RV rally.
I'm afraid there won't be anything exciting on the schedule today, other than get over my food coma in order to do it again tonight at the Bingo Volunteer dinner.  I'll be spending it all on the couch with my baby puppy, hoping his ear heals up quickly.  I just can't stand to see that sad face!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Minnie Mouse Is In The House

I bet you didn't know that every quilt has a name.  I didn't either until I started having them quilted.  There is always something on the pattern package, like Four Square or Nine Patch.  Most however have exact names that you are supposed to use.  Who knew?

Tres Graphic, Lexington Sampler, Cheese and Crackers, Cracker Jack, Rippling Star and Nina are just a few I've made.  Weird names, for sure.  My quilter is always asking me the name so she can keep it in her computer should I ever need to duplicate it.  I always have to make up something dumb because I never pay attention to the name.

A couple of days ago, that changed.  I just finished this quilt called Simply Delightful.  It seems to me the names never suit the quilt, so I renamed this one Minnie Mouse.  The backing is red with white polka dots (hard to see here) and just looks like everything Minnie Mouse to me.  Unlike some I've made, this one is a keeper.
On the other hand, THIS one is called Cemetery Quilt.  Can you guess why?  It's going the way of my cooking disasters ..... to the cemetery.  It's horrible!!!  It's called Where The Wise Things Are.  Well they certainly aren't in the instructions of this quilt.  The colors and design are just beyond words. 

It's not all sewn together here, which is why it's wonky.  Luckily I stuck it up on the wall before stitching the rows.  I instantly named it the Cemetery Quilt because that's where it's going to end up.  

My quilt cemetery is under my sewing table.  Boxes and boxes of leftover pieces, plus a couple of other disasters destined to be covered in dust and dirt for eternity.  They will never see the light of day.

Good news however .... I absolutely love the owls.  They are very elegant and deserve better.  I took them to the quilt shop many miles away and asked for suggestions.  When the quilt store clerk is more shocked than you when looking at the picture, you KNOW you've named it correctly.

Thank heavens for quilt shop clerks.  She was able to come up with a solution for the owls AND a replacement fabric for this one.  After all, she said I've already sewn together 196 triangles, I might as well come up with SOMETHING to finish it out.  It cost me $120 for the fix and I will end up with TWO quilts.  I suppose that's better than my dirt solution.  
That of course, remains to be seen.  I'll let you know how it goes!  

It's going to be a busy few days, as dinner after dinner after breakfast is consumed.  Lawyer night at the Elks is tonight, followed by the Bingo Christmas Party tomorrow, followed by pancakes and ebelskivers (whatever those are) at the cooking school on Saturday.  

I can see it coming, so I bought a HUGE bottle of Tums!!!!!  I'll be in my sewing room.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Magic Kingdom Lives On

Was I hoping it would disappear in a poof of smoke?  Not really ... the Magic Kingdom is pretty much what gets me out of the house when I'm not on the road.  I could probably lose a few peasants and not skip a beat though.

I knew I would be alone again with the infernal machine, so I met with the Knights of the Round Table in the Castle's treasury room.  The tables are round, hence the name, and the most important things are kept there, like popcorn and libation.

Actually libation for everyone else, coke for me.  In a flash, it was time to head to the dark dungeon where the peasants would gather.
Luckily I had a helper, Princess Maribel.  I've changed her name to protect the innocent.  As Princesses go, Maribel is as sweet as they come.  All the single male peasants (and some of the married ones) follow her around like a puppy dog since she was recently widowed.  She promptly told them all where to go, as no one can replace her Prince Charming.

Once the line dwindled down to a few, she changed her clothing and slipped in with the peasants unnoticed.  She's a die-hard Bingo player!!

This being the last Bingo meeting in the dungeon until the second week in January, there were lots of new folks and old folks throwing their hard earned (or welfare) money at me.  Along with that came home baked goods.

You know how I feel about that ... do I just say no thank you and offend them or do I say THANK YOU and toss it in the trash?  There was an abundance of cookies that I collected on a plate, then took it into the main room and left it on one of the tables.  It didn't take long for them to disappear.  Magic at the Magic Kingdom, even though Merlin wasn't present.

I have to say the night went well.  There were no rolling-on-the-floor fights, no screaming matches and no hoards of peasants clamoring to kill the caller when he made a mistake.  Christmas is in the air, although I did hear one lady call another a bad name.  There's going to be coal in her stocking!!

It was then I remembered ... this is the LAST game of the month, meaning it's PIZZA time!!  Once a month we get Costco pizza for being such good little volunteers.  We also need to get the final two pints of Baskin Robbins ice cream we won at a charity auction last year.  I reminded the King, who sent a Knight on a mission to claim our property.  He came back a hero, pizza in hand.

Unfortunately he must have walked the entire distance because the pizza was cold.  The ice cream was cold too, thank goodness ..... butter pecan!!!

Happily the infernal machine balanced to a T as I sadly closed down for the year.  It's okay though, I'll see the Knights of the Round Table at Thursday night dinner ... Lawyer's Night.  We'll be dining on Shark.  Yup .... that's what the Lawyers always serve.  Fitting, right?

Friday night is the Knights of the Round Table Bingo volunteer dinner, another wonderful perk of putting up with the peasants for an entire year.

In the meantime, I have another cooking disaster to relate ... a real cemetery piece.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Up The Ladder, Down The Ladder

As soon as the rain quit yesterday, I had the ladder out of the garage and ready for work.  As you can see, it's not quite tall enough for the work at hand.  To be comfortable, it needs to be at least two feet taller.  I got in a little exercise though as I carefully climbed every step.

I was rather surprised when I crawled up the first time to find the waterfall gutter relatively clean.  Perched close to the top step, I finally realized just how much roof area drains into two long lengths of gutter.  It's a LOT!!

We got so much rain in so short a time, the gutter simply couldn't handle that many gallons without overflowing.  It doesn't help that it's practically level either.  Still, I drug the ladder all the way around the back, checking every few feet.
This is all I got in the way of gutter trash.  Hardly a drop in the bucket, so to speak, considering there's probably 150 feet of gutters.  There is one more long length I need to check out in front, but directly underneath are flowerbeds.  

There's no way I'm putting a ladder in that soft dirt and crawling to the top.  What I really need is a drone to do a fly by and check it out.  What a great new business!!  Let me drone your gutters!!  Hopefully it will be sunny and warm for the next few days so the beds will dry and I can check the last waterfall.  
All the while I was outside, Jonathan was trying to get a little attention.  He was screaming for the kitty kitty kitty and generally rocking out, discoing around his cage.  The little trouble maker chewed up his stick in no time and pulled the paper from the floor up through the bottom of the cage, making mincemeat of it.  

Then, just for fun, he somehow finagled the catch pan on the very bottom, all the way out of the cage.  I came in to a lovely mess on the floor.  You can tell by his expression he's saying it wasn't him!!  Yes, birds can be little brats!
I've been playing hermit for the last few days .... it costs me less that way .... but it's time to head out for some groceries and pick up a quilt that's been completed, as well as it's Magic Kingdom time again.  

In the meantime, I've finished the binding on the last quilt.  Minnie Mouse has arrived!!  Pictures tomorrow.