Monday, July 30, 2012

Pan Due Shock-o-Lot




































This is The Chief and Weegie.

I may have mentioned them before.

The Chief is a complex and interesting man, not one to show a lot of emotion or to get excited about much. He does really love a few things...

Jesus

His family

Weegie

Efficiency

Logic

Power Tools

Non-power Tools

Tractors


But he doesn't show much excitement toward things like bugs or trees or TAB or food stuff. Things that can practically make me sing with joy. So you can imagine my surprise when we were in Paris a few years ago and he seemed to fall head over heels for this.




























The pain du chocolat.

A flaky, buttery pastry (croissant-like) with a bit of chocolate inside. Every good french pastry shop has their own personal version.

We tried several. Or forty.

Anyhoo, the other day The Chief actually mentioned that he missed the pain du chocolat. He missed a pastry! He understands me! So,  I thought to myself I need to get the man a pain du chocolat (or at least something that tastes like one without having to, you know, go to Paris.)

Although that's a thought.

But word on the street is that a trip to Paris for me to buy a good and authentic pain du chocolat for The Chief might be inefficient and illogical. Things that were most definitely not on The Chief's Love List.

Bummer.

French pastry chefs study for years and years to perfect the flaky croissant-like pastry layers. They pride themselves on these luscious bites. Feuds, duels have been fought over the secret recipes. Countries have fallen. So I decided that before I delve into the intricacies of making something too authentic I would just go for quick and easy and kind-a-sorta the same idea.

So I looked around until I found these.

























I rolled out the crescent roll dough and kind of mushed the seams together with my fingers...

























Then I did this.

























Then this...

























And then this.

(Isn't this mesmerizing?)

























I baked them at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes or so.

























They were warm and chocolate-y. And good!

Pan-Due-Shock-o-Lot

Texas Pantry style!

And did I mention easy? I realized afterward that if I had laid each little nugget over on it's side instead of up and down they would have looked more authentic but  it was all experimental so I live and learn.

Another lesson - green is probably not their friend.

























Next time I'll try them the other way.

And maybe next time I'll make them when The Chief is actually here.

After all, it's all about him, right?


Salut.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

You Too Can Be Chuffed to Bits


























Y'all.

The Olympics begin Friday and I couldn't be more excited. I mean I have so much in common with all the athletes. You know with my disciplined training schedule and all.

And I'll add that in my very humble and oh so non-newsworthy opinion it's going to be mighty tough for the Englishmen to top the "extravaganza" that was the opening ceremonies in Beijing, but the Londoners are a "determined and somewhat cheeky lot" so who knows!

Let's keep our collective fingers crossed.

Several years ago The Chief and I traveled to London for some business meetings (his, not mine) (most of my business meetings take place at Sonic or Chick-fil-a) and I found myself on several days perfectly free to roam the city and see all the sights. The Chief just asked me to please not get lost or arrested or anything, because that would cut into his meeting time. Not to mention how inefficient the whole mess would be.

Have I mentioned how much he dislikes inefficiency?

So I promised to avoid arrest and also to not accidentally end up in another country or stranded in a tower or a castle. I like to stay low maintenance.


So where pray tell did I find myself?  In Harrod's Food Hall, that's where. And I was "chuffed to bits" to find a Krispy Kreme donut store on the bottom level. While other tourists were visiting the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, and the London Eye, I was mesmerized by hot little yeasty rings being doused in a warm glaze as they traveled leisurely down a conveyor belt. 

Right there next to the kippers and meatpies.

I may or may not have watched for an inordinate amount of time.


I know.


Anyway, this morning I was hungry and thinking about donuts (don't be a hater) and decided to make these little muffins that taste a lot like a tender cake donut with a shiny glaze.

But mostly I did it in support of my fellow athletes and the Olympics. Go USA.


Here's the easy recipe adapted from A King Arthur Flour Cookbook.




Glazed Doughnut Muffins

For the Batter
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 to 1 ¼ teaspoons ground nutmeg, to taste (I used ¾)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
For the Glaze
3 tablespoons butter; melted
1 cup confectioners’ sugar; sifted
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons hot water
Directions1) Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a standard muffin tin. Or line with 12 paper muffin cups, and grease the cups with non-stick vegetable oil spray; this will ensure that they peel off the muffins nicely.
2) In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars till smooth.
3) Add the eggs, beating to combine.
4) Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla.
5) Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.
6) Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan, filling the cups nearly full.
7) Bake the muffins for 15 to 17 minutes, or until they’re a pale golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean.
8.) In a medium bowl, prepare the glaze by mixing together the melted butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and water. Whisk until smooth.
9.) When muffins have cooled slightly, dip the muffin crown into the glaze and allow the glaze to harden. At this point, you can leave them as is or go for the double dip. I glazed my muffins twice.
10.) Serve warm, or cool on a rack and wrap airtight. Muffins will keep at room temperature for about a day.
Recipe adapted from: King Arthur Flour


Monday, July 23, 2012

A Friend Indeed
































"Have no friends not equal to yourself."
- Confucious (551 - 497 BC) Chinese philosopher.

































"To like and dislike the same things, that is indeed true friendship."
- Sallust (86 - 334 BC) Roman historian


































"Tell me what company thou keepst, and I'll tell thee what thou art."
- Miguel de Cervantes (1547 - 1616) Spanish novelist.





"A Friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of Nature."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882) US poet & essayist.























"A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


"It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Kitchen Intervention




Sometimes I just want to go to the grocery store and buy all kinds of new and exotic ingredients to make something fancy and different that I've seen in a cookbook or maybe a magazine.

But that would be wrong.

Yesterday when we were having a bad thunderstorm I found Weegie sitting inside the pantry. The door had been left open, and in a effort to escape the violent claps of thunder, he had settled there smack dab in the middle of the floor. I sat down beside him to offer some consolation (and also because I was not convinced that the large dead pine tree right outside the garage that was recently struck by lightning was going to survive the onslaught of wind and rain) (by the way, the tree is not on our property)(we have contacted the responsible party) (and this is a bad case of TMI) (not to mention boring) and while sitting there, I came to the conclusion that:

I have a problem.

"What!!??" you say.

An overloaded pantry problem. And so today when I got the hankering to make a little something sweet I told myself that I should use some of the stuff I already have and not run to the store and buy MORE STUFF.

And for probably the first time ever, I LISTENED TO MYSELF.

Thank you. I agree. It was impressive.


So. I made this great Apple Upside Down Cake





Apple Upside Down Cake with Tangy Lemon Glaze
Lu


¾ cup butter (divided)
½ cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar (divided)
3 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cup cake flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 can Apple Pie Filling

Preheat oven to 350.
Spray a 9 inch cake pan with baking spray.
In a large bowl, beat ½ cup butter at med. speed until creamy. Gradually add sugar and ½ cup light brown sugar. Beat until fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
In a separate medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until well combined.
Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk. Begin and end with dry ingredients.
Melt ¼ cup butter and pour into bottom of cake pan. Sprinkle ½ cup brown sugar over butter, and then sprinkle with cinnamon. Pour and spread the pie filling over the butter/brown sugar/cinnamon. Carefully pour the batter over the pie filling and spread out evenly.
Place cake pan on a cookie sheet and bake in 250 degree oven for 40-45 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes then run a knife around the edges to loosen from the pan. Carefully invert onto a serving plate.
Mix the juice and the zest of one medium lemon with enough powdered sugar to make a glaze. Pour over the warm cake.


Now the great thing about this is that you could:

1. Use a cake mix for the cake part.
2. Use fresh fruit instead of the pie filling (you'd probably want to sprinkle in a little more brown sugar over the butter in the pan).
3. Use pineapples, peaches, plums, whatever!


Try it!!

Lu







Monday, July 16, 2012

He Likes to Mix it Up

























Last week we had lots of rain. (Yippie Yahoo by the way!)

Weegie mostly did this.

And then because he's just so wild and cray, later in the day he did some of this...




























And then to really change things up, he'd do this for a while...



























But THIS WEEK, he's determined to take advantage of the non-rainy (yet at least) days and get all kinds of funky and do this...


































(Please excuse his wanton-ness)


and then he might just top it all off with a little...


























Let it never be said that Weegie doesn't live in and for the moment.



I hope your Monday has been equally as spontaneous!





Lu

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Spotlight:Obsessive/Compulsive Pasta Salad Disorder

























Fine. I admit it. I have OCPSD.

The Chief has encouraged me to join some kind of group, but I think we can just work through my issues right here. After all, we're all friends, right?


I love a good pasta salad, and loathe a bad one. There should be laws and regulations against what some people do in the name of pasta on a plate.

The pasta salad pictured is one I made recently with farfalle (bow tie) pasta, a little red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, pepperoni, spicy salami, fresh basil, toasted pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and a little basil pesto mixed with a spicy Italian Dressing to finish it off.

You don't need a recipe. Just add the amount of ingredients that look good to you. Switch them up a bit if you like.

Just make sure you follow Lu's Hard and Fast Rules for Pasta Salad Correctness.

(No pressure intended, of course)

(We're all about fun here)

(Just don't mess up)

(Oh, I'm just kidding)

(I'm a kidder)


But listen up, people.

1. When you boil your pasta cook it (in VERY HEAVILY SALTED WATER)  one less minute than suggested on the package for al dente'.
You're going to add some dressing and other things that will soften it up, and the VERY LAST THING ON EARTH that you want is for your pasta to get soggy, fall apart, or lose it's shape.

An untied bow tie is unacceptable.

Do not let your bows untie.


2. If you're using onion of any kind get it chopped up and ready before your pasta is ready. Put the onion in the bowl you plan to mix the salad in and then when your pasta is drained and still hot, pour the pasta on top of the onion and then mix it all together before adding anything else. This softens the onion a bit and takes away the potential for a hard unpleasant bite, and also slightly flavors all the pasta.

Do not go nuts with onion. Have some restraint.

3. Think about your pasta shape. If you're using tubes of some sort (rotini, penne) make sure to cut your other ingredients into sizes that won't disappear and hide inside the tubes. You want to see all the ingredients. As a general rule, try to have all the components approximately the same size...

4. Use some sort of crispy ingredient for a contrast in textures. Toasted nuts are always great. Pine nuts are an excellent choice.

Giada would approve.

5. If using cheese, make sure you wait until the pasta is cooled before adding the cheese. Slightly melted cheese makes for a gooky salad. Typically I add any cheese at the very end, after adding the dressing. If you're using a dry cheese (like Parmesan) the dressing will help the cheese stick to the pasta.

By the way, gooky is a very advanced and technical French cooking term. Don't be embarrassed if you didn't know.

We're all here to learn.


6. Be generous!! with all the components!

7. Be careful with whatever dressing you choose. Add a little at a time and then toss and wait. There will be that perfect point at which the flavor is balanced, and the ingredients are glistening with the dressing but oh my soul, there should be no drippage.

None.

8. Always finish with a little freshly ground (or coarse) black pepper.



OK. Now I feel better. Please carry on.



Lu

Thursday, July 12, 2012

All Are Welcome Here At The Home For Wayward Reptiles

Listen.

I know you're looking for some recipes. And some pictures. And some stories from The Weege.  I have fielded and filed all your complaints including PLEASE STOP IT WITH THE SCORPION PICTURES, and your moanings about lack of posts from Weegie.

But what with all the travel and remodeling and the intense thinking about whether it is best, when putting on socks and shoes, to put on (in this order) both socks and then the shoes? or if the order should be one sock, then the same foot shoe, followed by the other sock and shoe...

Oh sweet fancy Moses, IT'S JUST ALL SO CONFUSING.

But anyway, with all that in the mind mix, I have cooked and baked so little and then left my camera for days under the back seat of The Chief's truck, and clearly there has just been very little development in the way of, well, anything remotely interesting to post.

But. Then.

I remembered a picture or two that I had saved from my camera last week and lo and behold the angels of the Lord told me to share.


We had been working on the remodeling at the farm all day. I had expertly handed The Chief all manner of tools and had successfully washed every 5 gallon bucket in a five county radius free of grout, mortar or paint. I had stooped and bent and flailed about on the floor for hours. I was tired and wanted so badly to weep but all of my tear ducts were clogged with ALL THE DUST, so instead, I just sobbed silent, dry, sobs.

We were finally finished for the night and I limped to the bedroom to clear the bed of all the things that had been piled on it  from the rooms under construction. I shoved stacks of towels onto the floor and just walked right on top of them to reach the other side of the bed. Who needs clean towels when you haven't actually been clean in over three days?

I went over to The Chief's side of the bed to close the blinds on the window and this is what I saw





















Yes, now they're trying to get in.

But really? I thought it was kind of cool and said in my most excited voice "Chief, Chief, COME HERE AND HURRY"

Then I waited. And he didn't come. And I thought I may have heard what sounded like a baseball game on TV...

"CHIEF! HURRY! REALLY! HURRY!

Crickets... Nada...


Finally... he responds "Well, where are you?"

Now people. Seriously. This is not a big house. If you're not in the kitchen/living area (where he was)  you're either in the bathroom or the bedroom right next to the bathroom.

It's not like I was in the servant's wing or anything.

And after he had stalled as long as he could (or perhaps when the inning was over) (he seems to have become a little nonchalant about all THE DRAMA) he eventually moseyed back to where I was.

I think he had a bowl of ice cream.

Thank goodness I wasn't having any sort of medical episode or being attacked by something. Because, really? The lack of concern. It was evident.



I pointed out the snake 

















And then announced, "Let's go outside Chief and see if I can get a picture! I know it's dark, but you can hold a flashlight for me! Let's go!"

And in his defense, although his eyes said REIN IT IN GLADYS, IT'S ONLY A CHICKEN SNAKE ON THE WINDOW, he didn't say it out loud, and even followed me out into the night with the flashlight in one hand and the ice cream bowl in the other.

And then for the next 5 minutes I unsuccessfully tried to figure out how to get my camera to take a picture of a five foot long snake hanging on the bedroom window in the black pitch of night illuminated only by a wobbly light source that was more often pointed at the Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla than at the window.

(And also did I mention it was really dark?)

I only gave up the fight when the snake finally jumped off the window right toward me, and then didn't realize until I got inside that The Chief was already on the couch watching baseball.

The Yankees, I believe.


So that's it.

(But you should know I've named this one Tom. As in Peeping.)

(And I'm curious about your feelings on the sock/shoe order conundrum. What's your chosen plan of attack?)

Lu

Monday, July 9, 2012

You Won't Find These in the New Testament

Y'all.

I am slap worn out. The Chief took off work the last 6 weeks so we could "get some things done" and the main thing we got done was EXHAUSTION.
Bless His Big Chief heart, he's such a worker! and a fixer! and a repairer! and a doer! and a laborer! and a remodeler! Don't get me wrong, I'm so happy and blessed that he's not a slacker or the couch potato sort. Really, I am.

But here's the problem.

All the doing and the working and the fixing and repairing? It leaves so little time for sitting! and reading! and contemplating! and watching the Food Network! and baking muffins! and drinking TAB!

And we all know that those are some of my most accomplished spiritual gifts.

But The Chief has tried to convince me that I also have the gifts of:

misplaced tool finding


grout bucket washing


rag rinsing


tape measure holding


general schleping of building materials




I'm just not buying it. I don't think I'm good at those things at all. He's just a great big flatterer. A sweet talker of the very worst sort.

Honestly, he should be ashamed.


But he's back at work today (Warning! Warning! Oil and Gas Industry! Get Thee Up Off The Couch!)  

And believe it or not, I almost feel like I should be doing something. Accomplishing something.
 I THINK IT'S OBVIOUS THAT I'VE BEEN THE VICTIM OF SOME TYPE OF HORRIBLE BRAINWASHING.

He has messed with my very essence, that's what he's done. No telling how long it will take to get my mojo back.

I shall begin with a TAB.

And perhaps then I'll go look at my cacti. And watch them grow for a while.

And then think about it.



I'll be back to normal in no time.


Lu


Monday, July 2, 2012

It's a Planter. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.







Well, we've reached a new and unprecedented all-time low in the area of curb appeal.



This was the sight waiting for me when I arrived at the farm last week. I've mentioned that we're doing some remodeling on the farmhouse and our son who has been forced to happily volunteered to help while he is hanging out with us this summer had gone to the trouble and expense of displaying a customized welcome sign for me.

And of course, the guys are always up for a little miter saw humor...



Gah.

This time there were 2 torn-out bathtubs, pieces of sheetrock, tile, a tile cutter, various and sundry tools and air compressors and pressure washers and oh yes, a toilet, on the driveway. Not the toilet from last week. A different toilet.

Because we are very fancy.


And also because we want to look good for the oil and gas workers that travel our road. Oh and also for the lawbreakers who ignore the Dead End, Private Road, and No Trespassing signs. We especially want to look good for them.


We've been stuck on a remodeling roller coaster. Or merry-go-round. Or Tower of Terror. Whichever one you occasionally get thrown off of or throw up immediately after disembarking.


And then you get back on. 


Because you love punishment. 


And you're not very smart.






But just as soon as my stomach settles and The Chief and I have had all of our knees replaced from the torture of tiling the bathrooms, I have all kinds of things to post.




I've already started writing a fascinating story entitled There Once Was a Man Named Sprig.

I've got a great salad recipe to share that I served at the Ladies Bible Study last week. It's so, so easy.

I'll share a few pictures of the remodeling progress.

And Weegie has written a riveting post on the Hazards of Kayaking that you simply won't want to miss.



Are you in?



Lu