24 June 2016

Now that We're Home


So happy to find everything green and lush at home, after 5 weeks in Colorado. 


We arrived home just in time for l'heure bleu, or the magic hour if you prefer. 



We'd celebrated Father's Day a week early in CO, but I put together a special meal for CA. 





I've been interested in using Trader Joe's jarred peach halves for a pie as my expensive forays into freezing peaches have been less than successful. My favorite pie is a rustic version. CA loves pie. 

My primary focus since we've been back on Dufield Pond has been gathering appropriate plants for our window boxes and large pots. I'm finally ready to get my hands dirty and repot my finds. 




Our DIL introduced me to the idea of using Lady Bugs as an organic method to control aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, etc. Something damages my perennials, so I've ordered these from Hirts Garden through Amazon. 



CA is visiting GG today while I get moving on my summer projects. We worked together last night to make a treat for her. She's 88 years old and deserving of our efforts. 

These are my Monster cookies--peanut butter-chocolate chip loaded with pecans. Our recipe calls for making them over-sized, but for GG we felt a traditional size is better. To enjoy and to share. 


This is half the recipe. The other half is shaped into balls and frozen. Our daughter's family and some friends will use our home during CA and my next trip to CO, and they'll be happy to find treats ready to freshly bake. 




12 June 2016

Do you share recipes?


I've always shared recipes, except for my favorite cookie recipes. Those I'd held back from posting online. For a time I worked on a plan to sell to corporate clients, or through a website I had envisioned. 

The fact is that our family interactions and travel are more important to us than developing a small business. 

I'm ready to share my best cookie recipes. Because I only ever use the finest ingredients, these are 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (5 stars). Am I required to post reviews, or is "scout's honor" good enough?




Aunt Roxy's Oatmeal Crisps
(My MILs Aunt Roxie was a school cook, and bequeathed some killer recipes. )

Preheat oven to 350°

1 cup White sugar
1 cup light brown sugar 
1 tsp. Vanilla 
1 cup Butter
2 medium Eggs

1-1/2 cup Flour
1 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp. Salt

3 cups Quick oatmeal 
1cup nuts, chopped (pecans or walnuts, usually)
1cup White raisins (may substitute partial qty of dried cranberries 
(Roxy added 1 cup of Coconut, but I rarely have.)
(My husband CA thinks it's an abomination to add chocolate chips, but they do taste good in these cookies.

1. In large mixing bowl, combine both sugars and butter. Add vanilla. Mix thoroughly. 
2. Beat in eggs. 
3. Add dry ingredients into mixture in this order: flour, baking soda, salt. Now, stir in; mixing well. 
4. Pour in the quick oatmeal, nuts, dried fruit(s), etc. Mix in thoroughly. 
5. Scoop cookie dough into walnut-sized balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet 2" apart. 
6. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, or until slightly browned. For softer cookies, remove from oven when tops are still moist-looking. Cool slightly on baking pan. 
7. Place cookies directly on a cooling rack until they're cooled to room temperature. 
8. Store immediately in air-tight container. 

WARNING: Oatmeal is quite absorbent, so, for best results do not refrigerate or freeze raw dough. Doing so will result in drier, crunchier cookies. 


This is a very special shortbread recipe, discovered by a friend of a friend, but my friend, too--JZ. Posting this is especially poignant right now as JZ was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness. I have co-opted this recipe and shared it with appreciative friends for over 25 years. 

JZ discovered this recipe in the old Cuisine magazine in December 1983. 


This a 5"x5" baking pan=1/4 recipe.


This is an 8" square pan=1/2 recipe. 
 
My Father's Shortbread 
Cuisine Magazine, 12/83

1 lb. Butter
1 cup Sugar
3 cups Flour

1. Blend together as you would pie crust; do not knead.
2. Press mixture tightly into 9"x12" baking pan. I prefer a baking pan with squared-off corners rather than rounded. Cuisinart makes a great pan. The 8"x8" is perfect for 1/2 a recipe.  
3. With a metal scraper or chef's knife, score the cookie dough into 1"x 2-1/2" rectangles, small squares, or larger squares cut diagonally into triangles. 
4. Press the pointy tines of a fork into each cookie to prevent bubbles. 
5. Refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to 48 hours. Preheat oven to 350°. 
6. Bake for approximately one hour--watching carefully as ideally they will be slightly golden. The carmelizing butter makes the cookies darken. These cookies are very rich; the more carmelized they are, the richer they are. 
7. Wait just 5 minutes, then re-cut all lines and edges,?and poke again with fork tines. Cool to room temperature. 
8. Carefully remove cookies from baking pan. 
9. Seal immediately in airtight container. These cookies have a high-fat content, so interleave layers with parchment paper or waxed paper. 


This next recipe fascinated me as soon as I spotted "sieved egg yolks" in the ingredients list. My Polish girlfriend's mother declared she'd never, ever heard of such a Polish cookie. They're still fun to make and quite tasty, with an interesting texture. 








Sarah Leah Chase's
Polish Butter Cookies
Cold Weather Cooking

1 cup Butter
1/2 cup Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla 
1/2 tsp. Almond extract
1 Egg yolk, slightly beaten
2 Hard-cooked Egg yolks, cooled and sieved*
2 cups Flour**

  1. Beat together softened butter and sugar.
  2. Mix together beaten egg yolk and flavorings.
  3. Add seived egg yolks.
  4. Gradually mix in flour, until forms soft ball.
  5. Gather dough into ball, wrap with cling film and refrigerate one hour.
  6. Roll dough to thickness. Cut into small shapes 1-1/2 - 2".
  7. Bake at for 12 - 15 minutes @350°

*Press chilled yolks through a fine mesh sieve.


I worked for 16 years at a very good corporation, as an executive secretary. Yep! I'm that old. All of the lovely ladies I worked with were excellent cooks. This  lady is a true southern character. One of my favorite sayings MK would pull-out when a certain co-worker would consistently over-share: "It's like you put a quarter in and she just can't shut-up." 





Mary King's 
Molasses Cookies

3/4 cup Butter
1 cup Sugar 
1/4 cup Molasses
1 Egg
2 cups Flour 
2 tsp Baking soda 
1 tsp Cinnamon 
1/2 tsp Ground cloves
1/2 tsp Ground ginger 
1/2 tsp Salt
Extra granulated sugar for rolling in

1. Cream together butter and sugar 
2. Add molasses and egg: beat well 
3. Whisk together dry ingredients in a separate bowl 
4. Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture 
5. When well-blended, cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour 
6. Preheat oven to 350°
7. Shape cookies into 1" balls, roll in sugar
8. Bake on ungreased baking sheet for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown 
9. Cool 5 minutes; remove cookies to cooling rack; store in air-tight container 

I sometimes use this recipe to make sandwich cookies--with lemon filling. Just regular icing with a bit of lemon juice and lemon zest added. 


Our family calls these Monster Cookies because originally we baked them over-sized. The unbeatable combination if peanut butter and chocolate. 


Monster Cookies 

1 cup White sugar
1 cup Light brown sugar
1 cup butter
2 Eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla
2/3 cup Peanut butter
2-1/4 cups Flour
1 tsp. Baking soda
12 oz. Semi-sweet chocolate chips (I prefer Ghiradelli) 
1-1/2 cups Pecan pieces 

1. Preheat oven to 350°. 
2. Beat together butter and sugars. 
3. Mix in peanut butter, eggs, vanilla. 
4. Add flour and baking soda; stir until well mixed. 
5. Add chocolate chips and pecans; blend in completely. 
6. Form 1" to 2" balls--I use a cookie scoop. 
7. Place 2" apart on ungreased baking sheet. 
8. Bake at 350° for approximately 15 minutes. 
9. Cool 10 minutes; remove to cooling rack and cool completely. Store in Ziplock or airtight cookie tins. 

We usually scoop half the recipe into balls and freeze on a baking sheet. Drop frozen cookie balls into Ziplock bags and store in freezer. Thaw slightly before baking. 





10 June 2016

Catching Up


We're approaching the end of our month+ in Fort Collins and while home sounds good, we've enjoyed a relaxing visit--just the right amount of activity, family, eating in new restaurants, entertaining...



We've spent most of our time planning for, shopping for, and feathering our nest. 

We waited a bit for chair #3 to arrive...




And then, the first time we had guests for dinner, we decided we need to occasionally fit a fourth chair around our small table. 

We decided to order a variation of the Corvus Madonna (Overstock) so that the chair acts as a side chair next to the shiny red media cabinet. 


We're feeling comfortable these days, realizing our next visit can be about exploring, adventuring, and meeting new people. 









This clock just arrived and will hang on our very blank wall above the couch. 



We've done a bit of entertaining--my niece and her husband visited from Chicago. We put together a huge Mexican feast and enjoyed that meal together at D+Ms. Only pic I managed to snap. 


The Fun Kids spent an overnight with us their last day of school before Summer break. We had great pizza at Cozzola's and on Saturday morning we made our first visit to the Old Town Farmers Market. Happily, we found some small radishes--memories of French markets.  


The very best way to enjoy radishes--salt,  good butter, and a fresh baguette. 


On Memorial Day D+M hosted an indoor picnic and invited some international students. We ate All-American food, finishing off with an all-time favorite. 



CA and I are benefiting from our DILs garden. Sautéed Spinach is a family favorite--based on a Macaroni Grill version. 



We made Pasta Carbonara the same evening--using a technique we experienced first in Cagne Sur Mer near Nice. No worries--the pasta is very hot. The egg is rapidly stirred-in and creates a TDF creamy sauce. 



We spent some time with our niece JF and her newish (10/17/15) husband Cameron. Such great people. JF's  birthday was the day before they visited us. 



For dinner, our version of Georgio's (Crystal Lake) antipasta salad. 



O.K., so maybe I went a bit overboard on the cake! But, we rarely see JF and I can count on one hand the number of birthdays we've celebrated with her. D+Ms family stopped by mid-afternoon for a visit. 

I ordered a white cake (her 2nd choice), frosted simply in white, and took it from there. Since her favorite cake is carrot (not so much the Fun Kids fav and I made her one 5 years ago when we last celebrated with her), there were also Carrot Cake cupcakes. 





Plenty left to share with work friends. 





Our second Farmers Market visit. 



D+M's family spent several nights in the Black Hills right after Memorial Day. Loved everything--scenery, food, Mount Rushmore, wild animals... 





This purchase has already paid for itself. Car-to-elevator-to-flat; or reverse. Huge help. 

 

And finally, gorgeous roses from a DIL who shares generously. 


 

 

30 May 2016

Getting Into the Groove

Our "Welcome to Fort Collins" bouquet from DM, MK, and our Colorado Fun Kids. 



We arrived in time for LG's 11th birthday, May 17. 



Visited LG's classroom for each student's presentations on an individual state. LG's is Virginia--her daddy's birth state. 



Our experience with DIRECTV got off to a shakey start. All good now. 





My reward for a miserable few days dealing with wifi, DIRECTV, moving details, etc. 


We were here for NJ's Spring Poetry Recital, and her Kindergarten final recap. Precious. 



Visiting family kicked me into cooking again (finally). We did a full-out Mexican-Southwest meal. Plenty of leftovers for both DM's family and CA and me. 



Had the girls for our first sleepover in our flat, and found this cutie on our walk to Cozzoli's for pizza. 



Saturday morning, we all walked to the farmers market. 



I baked some fully-loaded Raisin Bran muffins. 



Helped our DIL as she assisted in an friend's wedding prep. Then, she was honored to be a bridesmaid in the combination Vietnamese-Indonesian-American wedding. 



We've been visiting DM's family's church--Mountainview Community. 



Our farmers market radishes-Demi baguette-butter-salt for Sunday's lunch. 



Preparing my mother's potato salad recipe for our Memorial Day cookout.