Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Cake that Brindi Built

This is the site

that pictured the cake

that inspired the nut

to make the cake

that took up the counters

that caused the mess (bubbling witch's cauldron)

that drove the nut

to chug a little of this

that made the nut

decide to make

a back-up cake

that bubbled over the pan

that made the house

smell like charred feet.

This is the mess

that produced the mini-b-day cake (Happy Birthday Cheryl!)

and the messy, sliding layers.

These are the freaky babies that adorned the cake

the fit so perfectly in the new Lock and Lock cake carrier.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Juice and Graham Crackers

"Our preacher Veronica said recently that this is life's nature: that lives and hearts get broken -- those of people we love, those of people we'll never meet. She said that the world sometimes feels like the waiting room of the emergency room and that we who are more or less OK for now need to take the tenderest possible care of the more wounded people in the waiting room, until the healer comes. You sit with people, she said, you bring them juice and graham crackers."

Anne Lamott Traveling Mercies

You can read a portion of this chapter here. Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers. I would recommend that you read the entire book, though.

There are so many people in my life right now who have hurts. They have those hurts that leave you without anything to say. They have those hurts that leave you feeling helpless.

But I can bake. I can sit and eat cake.

Maybe those people don't need deep, life-changing wisdom. Maybe they just need some juice and graham crackers. Maybe they just need someone to sit with them.

I challenge you today to make something warm from the oven.

Share with someone who needs it. There's always someone who needs it.

And if you don't know someone who needs it, just surprise someone with it. Go with your heart. First person you think of, take it to them.

There will be a blessing.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What's for Breakfast?

Farmer Brown got up before dawn and took Frack for the day to North Carolina to look at a bull. Even as romantic as that seems, I didn't want to go. Because I didn't go, I had to take over some of the morning chores.

I was in charge of making breakfast. Thankfully, the farm hand was there to help.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Country Living in West Virginia

Today was the last day to enter the HGTV Home of the Year. I don't really have a desire to live in California, but I wouldn't complain if I won the house.

Another Home of the Year that wasn't as publicized was the Country Living Home of the Year.
The magazine finally published in their January issue photos of their 2009 Home of the Year. This beautiful house is located in Snowshoe, West Virginia.

Because the house is built on mountain slope, it is tall, four stories high, not wide like most houses. The house is eco-friendly.

The house was open for tours during the months of August, September, and October. I made it up to look at the outside of the house, but it was closed. I think that it stinks that the home is now closed for tours and then they publish the pictures. The house's furnishings have been removed, and it is set up for nightly and weekly rentals. If you have $1000 a night, you can rent the house. Of course, it is for sale for $1, 575,000. You can also custom-build your own house after you buy your own lot for $400,000 in Sawmill Village.

One of the downfalls of this article is that it doesn't show how remarkable the views are. Nor does it talk about how fabulous the entire Snowshoe Resort now is. I remember going to Snowshoe when there were some funky octagon rental houses and one hotel. Snowshoe has developed to be more of a four-season resort, offering mountain biking, hiking, and golfing. They also have fabulous festivals throughout the year.

If you live on the eastern coast, Snowshoe is a destination worth checking out. The prices are reasonable at any time of the year. It showcases the best of the West Virginia mountains.

Send me a note and I'll meet you there!

If you do decide to visit, you need to swing through Greenbrier County to get there.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Some Days

First, I love my job. Love those kids. Really, I love middle school kids.

But some days....sigh....I come home exhausted. Some days I never get a chance to sit down. Some days the lesson requires high energy. Some days I have paperwork due right NOW. Some days I have back-to-back meetings with parents during my entire planning time. Some days I can't find my desk at the end of the day. Some days I get cornered in my room by a parent who wants to make another excuse for her child. Some days I don't leave school until two hours after the kids have left. Some days I bring home at least two hours of work still to do.

Today was that day.

But some days I get in the car and turn up the music. Some days I take the long way home so that I can be by myself just for a few minutes more. Some days the DJ on the radio knows exactly what I need to hear (a little Biggie - old school style - hypnotize me, baby.) Some days there are no bills in the mail. Some days the children at home are well-rested.

Some days require a meal on the grill with minimum clean-up.

Bless the creator of foil-packets.

This recipe has been hanging out in my recipe binder for a few years. It makes gravy in the packet. Gravy with no whisking.

Some days you need easy gravy.

Easy Pork Chop Packets
4 sheets of aluminum foil
1 small onion, sliced thin
4 boneless pork chops
salt and pepper
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup (I used reduced-fat)
2 Tb. soy sauce (I used low sodium)
1 medium green pepper, thin strips

Preheat grill to med-high. Center onion rings in center of each piece of foil. Top with pork chop. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Combine soup and soy sauce. Spoon over pork chops. Top with green pepper slices. Fold up foil packets to make a little pouch. (Mine just get wadded up nicely.) Grill 10 - 12 minutes in covered grill.

Because it does make a lovely little gravy, it is good over rice. My kids don't eat rice, so they eat theirs over egg noodles. I fixed Farmer Brown and myself some brown rice. Farmer Brown ate the egg noodles.

Doesn't look very appetizing, but those pork chops are like butter.

*This recipe apparently can be found on this site here. All props to them for the foil and the recipes.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

New Love

Who doesn't like looking at beautifully decorated cakes?

Well, this site doesn't let you do that - except on Sundays. Check out this wonderfully funny site that now has me spending time in the bakery section of my grocery store, looking for the latest Cake Wreck. I haven't been brave enough to photograph anything, but I have found a few at our locals.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Barbecue with a Side of Coleslaw Love

So, is coleslaw a Southern thing?

I love coleslaw. I'm not sure if it is all the veggie burgers, brown rice, or Kashi cereal, but I am thinking all about coleslaw.

I used to eat coleslaw on my pizza. My mom would buy those cheap pizzas in the dairy case (Do they still sell those?) and make coleslaw for them. My sister and I used to refuse to eat pizza if it didn't have coleslaw on top. I remember getting coleslaw off of the salad bar at Pizza Hut to put on my pizza. I haven't done that for awhile, but it sure sounds good, right about now.

True story - four months pregnant with Frick. On a trip to visit relatives in central Pennsylvania, I made Farmer Brown stop at the Boyds Bear Barn in Gettysburg. (Farmer Brown was ecstatic the entire time. I just told him it was a barn, but I forgot to mention that it was stuffed with bears.)

I needed lunch, too. Willie B. Bacon's Feed Trough was selling those big, 3/4 inch hot dogs. I ordered mine with chili and slaw. It came served with chili and sauerkraut. It wasn't the same, but I ate it and Farmer Brown's too. Remember, I was pregnant. (Farmer Brown also ordered sausage gravy that was served over potatoes, not biscuits. What is with you people in Pennsylvania?)

Anyway, I prefer my barbecue with coleslaw. And as much as I like coleslaw, I can't make it to taste like anything but watery cabbage. So when I make barbecue, I buy a tub of coleslaw from Bob Evans - now that's Ohio people, and they know how to serve it.

I made barbecue last week, but forgot to stop and buy the required tub of slaw. So here's the recipe for barbecue, but you will need to get your own slaw. If you live in Pennsylvania, you're probably just out of luck.

Barbecue Beef

2 onions, chopped

1 c. celery, chopped

1/2 c. butter

1/4 c. vinegar

1/4 c. sugar

4 tsp. mustard

1 Tb. lemon juice

1 c. ketchup

3 tsp. wortershire sauce

4 c. cooked, chopped beef (I use leftovers from Babe the Big, Blue Ox)

salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion and celery in butter in large skillet. Add the rest of ingredients except the beef and simmer for 20 minutes. Add beef. Cook 15 - 20 minutes more. Can be eaten with coleslaw or not, but for Pete's sake, please toast those buns, especially the seeded ones.

Or if you are trying to cut back like me, toast your two pieces of cardboard.

If you haven't been digging on the Arnold's Sandwich Thins, they are really good. I prefer the multi-grain. The whole wheat is a little dry. They are a healthy replacement to the white, sesame-seeded buns I so desperately wanted. But if I am going to eat coleslaw, I have to cut back somewhere.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Sweet Party

For my momma's birthday this year, my sister and I decided to throw her a surprise birthday party. I am happy to say that we pulled off the surprise.

Since we wanted to enjoy the party too, we decided on little bite-sized desserts with a side of dancing, two of my momma's favorite things.

As good sisters do, we divided the tasks according to our talents. I was in charge of invitations and food. She was in charge of paying for the building, paper goods, and drinks.

I like to bake, but a caterer I am not. I ended up delegating some desserts to the Aunties who were more than happy to help. Big special thank you to Auntie Judy who decorated the tables and helped us focus.

I wish that there were fabulous pictures from the party, but I got all caught up in the excitement and dancing and eating, that I forgot to take pictures. These shots were all post-party. These are some of the easy desserts that we used.

Key Lime Tarts This was the first time that I had used phyllo tart shells. This was an after-party picture. These were on a tray with lemon curd tarts (put homemade strawberry jam in the bottom, lemon curd from a jar, strawberry garnish).

Tuxedo Brownies (Another after-party picture.) This recipe calls for making the brownie mix according to the "cake-like" directions. I would make the regular brownie recipe and bake at 350 for a richer chocolate flavor. Bake for about 12 minutes. The filling was good! My momma's name starts with an "s" so I made little chocolate "s" from melted chocolate.

Mini Fruit Pizzas This was an after-party picture but it was while we were cleaning up. The party was in a barn - it IS the place to host a party in our little hometown. I used individual sugar cookies to make the little pizzas.

Little Lemon Drops You would think that I would make tested recipes, but I wanted to try something new. Don't mine look like the picture at Woman's Day? (Not even close.) These are easy to make. I would say that my silicone pan worked the best for getting a pretty yellow color and for ease in removal from the pan. Also, don't fill up the muffin cup with too much batter. They were delicious, even though they looked a little sad.

Doing all desserts allowed us to do all the prep work ahead of time. Fifteen minutes before the party, we set it all out. We had multiple tables around with duplicate trays so people could mingle and eat. It was lovely.

Happy Birthday, Momma!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

We Interrupt this Dinner....

I found a beef chuck roast in the freezer of beef, at least that is what the package said. I am becoming more convinced every day that Farmer Brown mistakenly took Babe the Big, Blue Ox to the butchers. Look at that bad boy. It barely fit into my extra large skillet to braise.

I am a die-hard crock pot girl because I usually don't have the time to slowly simmer a roast in the oven all day. But since it was a snow day, it was time to try something new.

I Googled a recipe for beef chuck roast and this came up on several different sites. So if it is yours to claim, all the credit is yours.

I glanced at the recipe, glanced in the fridge, and assumed it was all systems go.

Pot Roast
Beef chuck roast
2 large onions
Salt, pepper
2 lbs. potatoes, cut up
1 lb. carrots, cut up
1 bottle (8 oz) Kraft Catalina Dressing, divided
Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of roast. Brown meat in large heavy pot on high heat in 1/4 c. of the Catalina dressing (I also used a smidge of olive oil), turning to brown all sides. Add onions; stir to brown. The recipe said to then do a bunch of stuff and let it simmer on the stove. But I was worried that the hunk of meat squeezed in that pan wouldn't cook properly, so I plopped that bad boy in a 9 x 13 roasting pan. I added water to the rest of the dressing bottle and poured it about a quarter-inch around the roast and onions.

(See, Farmer Brown forgets to tell me when he uses something almost to the bottom so that the rest of us can't enjoy it. It's like a game - how much can he get away with without having to replace it or add it to the shopping list. This is everything - two sheets of toilet paper, one swig of juice, one ounce of gas. When I found the recipe, I glanced in the fridge, saw the Catalina. During the recipe, I noticed that there was only about a 1/4 of cup in the bottle. I was stretching to get enough to brown the roast.)

Then I forgot to add the vegetables.

Cover the pan tightly with foil. The goal was to simmer for about 4 hours.

After 2 1/2 hours, Farmer Brown called and got me all flustered about the impending snow storm. I had to go to the store. The forecasters were calling for 6 - 12 inches, which where we live, can leave you stranded for a few days. Because I'm a paranoid freak, I turned the oven off because I had visions of the grease bubbling out and over and starting a fire. When I returned 1 1/2 hours later, I turned the oven back on to 350 degrees to bake the rolls, so it cooked for another twenty minutes.

The roast was tender and had a tang from that 1/4 c. of dressing that I added. I can't imagine the flavor if I had used a whole bottle - would have been fabulous.

Vegetables would have been nice.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Snow came quickly this afternoon. When we got home, we were so excited to go out, that we didn't even bundle up properly.

(Post mostly for family, but hey - they were eating snow.)

Click to play Snow!
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