28 June 2013


Embassy Suites, Downtown St. Paul
Six hours later, here we be.
Fun Kids arrived at 3:00pm yesterday as a stopover on their way to St. Paul for their Uncle Eric's wedding. Funness ensued...
So many sweet and fun moments in just a few hours plus a wake-up. Cars, skateboard, soccer, dog romping, exploring... This morning we made Monkey Bread and Orange Juliuses--family holiday traditions.
JE's family pulled out just after 8:00am, while CA and I hung around home until 1:30pm. Our evening is free, while the 5 of them have a command performance for the rehearsal and dinner. LE is one of two flower girls and MA is helping to officiate his brother's wedding.
The reception will be a Hootenanny, as the groom is a professional musician and many guests are also.
I believe "funness" will ensue.

25 June 2013

Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop.

Five pops so far. Need to hear 8 to know for sure my strawberry jam is sealed and preserved.
First time ever (?) to make cooked jam. Always before did freezer jam.
Planning a taste test.
Strawberry freezer jam...
Strawberry preserves...

23 June 2013


Having a house guest, refocuses one's perspective and ordinary days and places take on new significance. These images are from our village square, which was featured in the movie Bill Murray's Ground Hog Day as
Gobbler's Knob--actually, Woodstock, IL. Bill Murray is from Wheaton, IL--an hour or so from here.
This corner restaurant, Angelo's, was featured tonight on Robert Irving's Restaurant Impossible.
A few scenes from the Ground Hog Day movie...
And then, reality...

22 June 2013

Refinished Corian

Almost 13 years in this kitchen. I've done a lot of cooking, entertaining, and projects.
It became clear that our peninsula counter was insecure. Not shy! But, not safely balanced and braced.
It's taken awhile to figure out and line up the appropriate contractors, but once the carpentry work was done, the Corian guy came in and re-caulked the seam between the counter top and backsplash, and polished everything to a better-than-new finish.
In the early Fall, we'll have the painters in and everything will be BM Dove White. Before then, we'll have 6 Fun Kids here for a lovely visit, so we'll paint AFTER their stay.

21 June 2013

Too True

Ran across this today and love it.

20 June 2013

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together!

So... It took me almost two weeks, but I finally got a gift together for a friend who's had a lot on her plate lately. First, I found the English teacup and saucer at a resale shop. Knew I wanted to fill it with flowers or a plant. 10 days ago I found the small pot of delicate Wandering Thyme at our local farmer's market.
After my jam making, biscotti baking session earlier this week I realized I had a theme.
After searching through my gift reserves, I found the perfect box to make it all come together. Then, ding-dong-ditch and the deed is done.
Fun project. Even if it did drag on a bit. The results were satisfying.

19 June 2013

Baking Today

CA put together up the pie pastry for me. He's a pro. Usually, he does the crust and I do the filling and assembly. Pie is his most favorite. Breakfast-snack-dessert. With high quality vanilla ice cream, of course.
I decided to sprinkle some gold sugar on top before baking. Unimpressive, I decided.
We also made two small four-berry pies to freeze and bake later. Blueberries-strawberries-black berries-raspberries. Again, used a Martha recipe to great results.

18 June 2013

Orange and Basil Biscotti

Ran across a recipe for orange-basil biscotti, but since we prefer the more cookie-like mandelbrot, I adapted this recipe to great results.
Substitute 1 T. Basil, freshly chopped and the zest of one orange for the chocolate chips. And, I also substituted roasted and chopped hazelnuts for the walnuts. Spectacular!
After over-night refrigeration, I shaped the batter into two logs, approximately 3" dia. x 10" long.
Just out of the oven...
Cool for 10 - 15 minutes, slice slightly on the diagonal. Brush cut side with melted butter; sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Return to 300 degree oven for 30 minutes (or more) to finish drying. Store in airtight container.

Farmers Market

Tuesday and Saturday mornings our village has a small farmers market around the historic square. Today we had live music from the center gazebo. Everything is locally grown, so mostly now the vendors are offering organic meats and garden plants.
Today I was able to get some so-sweet strawberries. Small, but succulent. At first I was thinking pie, but then I did a throw-back thing and made strawberry jam instead. A treat for the upcoming Fun Kids Club Summer Sleepover.
Freezer jam. I'm thinking of making some cooked jam and making a comparison.

Couldn't resist a bouquet just for me.

16 June 2013

Grandpa Korta

For Father's Day, Aunt Margie's father is being featured in a display at her assisted living facility.
Louis Korta
Louis Henry Korta was born in Germany, May 10, 1887. He was the son of Ludwig and Marie Koch Korta. When Ludwig died, Marie immigrated to America with her three young children. Louis, at 5-1/2-6 years of age, was the oldest. They traveled by freighter and entered the United States as immigrants during the first years of Ellis Island and eventually settled near family in Tazewell County, Illinois.
Louis’ mother remarried and had 5 more children and Louis was sent to live and work on a family farm in Washington, IL. When he was 25, he moved to Peoria and learned the carpenter trade. He worked for Fred Harbors’ Sons Inc. and later formed his own carpentry and cabinet-making business. He retired in 1956. He was a U.S. Army World War I veteran.
After their marriage, June 14, 1922, “Lou” and Frances moved to Peoria to live in the home he built for them at 215 E. Forrest Hill. They had three daughters–Juanita, Amy and “Margie Lou” were the delight of Lou’s life. He also loved growing vegetables, fruit and flowers in his large garden, and generously allowed several neighbors to garden on his property. Lou also cherished his prize-winning Dahlias and took hundreds of photos of exceptional blossoms–several of which won recognition from Eastman Kodak.
Lou died November 6, 1968. He left his wife, 3 daughters, 2 sons-in-law, 8 grandchildren, one great grandson and four siblings.
Lou was faithful to his family, God and his church. While Lou and Frances were initially uncomfortable with their youngest daughter’s missionary call to the mountains of Virginia, Margie’s dedication to touching so many lives and reaching so many young hearts for Jesus in Dickenson County, Clinch County, VA became the crowning achievement of their lives.

14 June 2013

The Grand Hotel

Missing Downton Abbey? Check out this BBC series from the late 1990s. Set in post-WWI Manchester, beautifully cast and stylized drama surrounds the fates of a family dynasty hotel buffeted by the rapidly changing culture and industrialization of the era. 18 episodes. Stream it on Netflix.
Rebecca Callard as Kate, the absolutely gorgeous hotel maid.
Mark McGann plays the diabolical Marcus Bannerman.
And, Tim Healy gives a solid performance as Jacob Collins, the head porter who sees all, knows all, and rights all wrongs.

10 June 2013

BLT Pizza

Start here...

8" x 5-1/2" each/3pack

#Spread a thin layer of lite mayonnaise; completely cover crust.
#Sprinkle quesadilla cheese over mayo.
#Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden.
#Cut Naan pizza crust into quarters
#Sprinkle cooked and crumbled bacon over cheese.
#Top with seeded and diced Roma tomatoes.
#Generously add Shredded Romaine lettuce
#Drizzle mayo over lettuce. I used a squeeze bottle of Hellman's Lite.
#Salt and pepper to taste.

Peanutbutter-Chocolate Salt Caramel Cookies

Decided to adapt my recipe when I saw these Rolo Minis this morning at Blain's Farm and Fleet(!).
Inspired by these...
And, a few recipe variations I've seen around the Internet.
Salty! I lightly rolled the tops of the cookie balls in a few grains of Bolivian Rose sea salt. Are there degrees of saltiness in sea salts? Must be. There's no salt in my basic recipe, so I can't adjust that. Next time I try this I'll use no-salt peanut butter and regular Kosher salt (sparingly).
Mama-mia! This Bolivian salt is way salty!
Oh, and I froze the Rolo Minis so they wouldn't over-melt. Still stuck to baking sheet. Next time silicone baking liner, and maybe I'll strategically place the Rolos rather than stirring them in to keep them off the bottom.
This is my splatter guard. Yes, a real splatter guard came with my mixer (20+ years ago), but it is mostly ineffective, and two more things to wash-up.