Tag Archives: cookbooks

Bits and Pieces…

I’ll start by apologizing to my regular readers for the long hiatus from posting…it was a combination of laziness, and not having much to write about.  Here’s what’s been going on the last little while:

1. Kaylee and Scott celebrated their fourth anniversary together last Monday.  Anna put her artistic touch on a Black Forest Cake I made.  We also made cupcakes, which Hope and Brianna decorated. 

This is the cake...we found out afterwards that neither Kaylee or Scott are fans of maraschino cherries...

Brianna's cupcakes...

 

Hope's cupcakes...

 

The cake recipe was from my trusty Better Homes and Gardens cookbook…I’d like to try pairing it with my brownie recipe for a “chocolate overdose” dessert…maybe a layer of each with chocolate ganache in between?  Yummy!

2. Jim made a delicious turkey soup with the remains of our Christmas bird and some more of our garden veggies, and served it with awesome homemade biscuits.  That was a good supper!

Jim's soup and biscuits...delicious!

3. Jim was on vacation last week, but spent almost every day doing something IT-related…a great deal of time was spent building my dad’s computer for him (Christmas present).  We installed it at the bookstore on Wednesday (the same day I was running late, and Dad decided I wasn’t coming and left ten minutes early, without me!)…unfortunately, neither Jim or I remembered to feed the parking meter out front in the afternoon, and we got a parking ticket!  On Saturday about lunchtime, Dad’s monitor “went black.”  We didn’t find out about it until Sunday morning about 9, when we came down to find a note he’d left us.  If he’d called us at one of the three phones we have between us, we could have fixed it for him Saturday (my dad’s picture is in Webster’s under “passive-aggressive”)!  I discovered this morning that the monitor had bitten the dust…luckily my old one was still out back, and I got it hooked up with no help from my techie guy…I was pretty proud of myself! 

4. Last week, I was honoured to be asked by my blogging buddy and fellow Ohioan, Maura at 36 x 37, to be a guest host at her blog while she is offline this week.  You can find me over there on Thursday with a post from when I had five loyal readers my early days.  It was neat to get the invitation…it’s lovely to know that someone likes (and trusts) your writing enough to put it on their blog!   I told Maura that I finally felt like “one of the cool kids” (the other writers who are filling in are also on my Blogroll).

5. I have a famous visitor coming in the next couple of weeks…all very hush-hush for now, but of course, I’ll be blogging about her visit!  We’ll be showing her the highlights of Saint John, New Brunswick…she’s never been in the Maritimes before!

6. We got a big bunch of books in on Thursday…17 garbage bags full…yes, I did say “garbage bags.”  Believe it or not, they’d been thrown in the back of a pickup truck!  It was all anybody could do to lift them, and of course, all the corners were ripping through.  What a mess!  At least there were some decent books in the lot.  That was a first in ten years…it amazes me how stupid people can be, especially with valuables!

7. Devin went to driving school last week.  He had some bad luck in the classroom simulator the first day…I asked him on Thursday after he got home if he’d hit anything that day: “I don’t think so,” he replied.  Probably not the best answer…he reported that at least when he had hit something, he didn’t scream and take his hands off the steering wheel the way the girls in the class did!

8. I was pleasantly surprised at the reaction/support to my last post…so far, we’re doing well with our “experiment.”  Anna and Brianna de-decorated the Christmas tree on Friday, and Jim dismantled it (that’s probably a record for early removal!).  I almost “slipped” on Saturday, when Anna demanded I make breakfast for her.  I was making my own anyway (the same thing), so Jim suggested I do it at the same time in a larger pan (I was going to make mine first, and then hers, after she got out of the shower).   Anna floored me yesterday by asking what I needed help with while I was trying to get dinner ready (I needed someone to take stuff out of the washer and dryer, and put more clothes in, which she did).  Anna and Hope have even been getting along better!

9. Anna’s friend, Celia, came over on Saturday for a sleepover.  It was her first time visiting.  Jake liked her as long as she was either sitting or lying down (or feeding him treats)…standing up, not so much!  Luckily, Celia works part-time in a veterinary hospital, so was fairly comfortable with our neurotic dog.

10. I am now the proud owner of a “pastry cloth.”  After a search through Saint John’s kitchen stores, I finally found what I was looking for at Decor 8 in Brunswick Square…a thick cotton cloth especially made for rolling out dough.  It even came with a rolling pin cover: $10 plus tax.  It will make things easier not having to use wax paper!

11. Elise and her parents were here for a visit last night.  Elise’s vocabulary of words (and signs) is growing quickly…that was the first time I’d heard her say “NO”!  I warned her parents that Kaylee had hit “the terrible twos” at eighteen months (Elise was 16 months old yesterday).  I’m working on trying to get Elise to say “Gramma.”  She is also having fun with the Elmo drum set that her sadistic “Uncle Ben” got her for Christmas…glad those things stay at her house! 

12. The kids go back to school tomorrow, after the longest Christmas break ever!  We’re all happy!

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A Pinch of This, A Dash of That…

Anyone who comes into our dining room can see that I’m well-prepared for this whole self-sufficiency thing, at least in terms of cooking resources…our entire mantel is covered with cookbooks!

My obsession with recipes started at age 9, about the same time my mom started letting me cook and bake.  Mom had the hard cover, red and white checked, five-ring binder version of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook – it was probably a wedding present from Mom and Dad’s nuptials in 1959.  Its pages were splattered with various foods, because it had been well-used over the years.  Tucked inside the front cover were several index cards with family recipes written on them.  One of my first projects was labouriously copying some of my family favourites on to lined paper (which I still have today):  Great Great Aunt Nellie’s Toll House Cookies, Grandma Shoots’ Molasses Cookies (aka Shirley’s Cookies – I have no idea who Shirley was!), Mamma’s Crumb Cake…

Mom's Cooking Bible...

Sometime in the mid-’70’s, our local newspaper published an insert which featured recipes submitted by readers.  I got out my scissors,  clipped those that sounded good, and made my own recipe book with an old notebook from school (still have that too!).  My standard Fruit Crisp recipe comes from that book. 

I moved out (the first time) in 1979.  It was then that I found that I didn’t really have much of a clue about cooking (although I was pretty good at baking).  I remember the time that I put a pan of scalloped potatoes in the oven, only to realize after setting off the smoke alarm that I had neglected to add the milk to the pan!  Off I went to find what would become my “cooking Bible”…the Joy of Cooking.  I had to settle for the 2-volume softcover version – I was poor and unemployed at the time!  One of the best features of “Joy” is the fact that there’s a little description of every ingredient imaginable that tells about ways to cook it.  I also find the substitution section very helpful.

After I got married in 1984, my cookbook collection really took off…I belonged to the Quality Paperback Book Club, and they were always releasing books I couldn’t do without!  I bought my own paperback version of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, and kept my eyes open at yard sales for other interesting titles.  We were also the beneficiaries of fundraising cookbooks from various organizations our relatives belonged to.  Those are still my favourite kind – basic recipes that real people make and enjoy on a daily basis!  Our Chicken Lasagna and Maple Fudge recipes came from my youngest daughter’s elementary school cookbook.

The kind of community cookbook I love!

Another favourite type of cookbook on my mantel is the one put out by companies to promote the use of their product…good ones are the Magic Baking Powder Cookbook (mine is ca. 1930 and was purchased in an auction box lot for a quarter in the early ’70’s), and the Purity Flour Cookbook (somebody gave that one to me, I think).  I use the Buttermilk Pancakes recipe in the Purity book every weekend for “family breakfast.”

Magic Baking Powder Cookbook...

In the early ’90’s, I used Joy of Cooking to teach myself how to make bread…kneading dough is an excellent tension-reliever!  I experimented successfully with using multi-grain cereal in the loaves…my rolls and cinnamon buns are also a big hit!

Sometime around 2000, I was confident enough to create my own recipe – I took a Hershey’s Cocoa brownie recipe, and put my own spin on it, to create “West Side Wendy’s Brownies.”  Countless people have told me they’re the best brownies they’ve ever had!

One thing I’ve never mastered is piecrust…I’ve managed to fail every “no-fail” piecrust recipe I’ve ever tried…I’ve given up.  Jim’s mom brings the pies for family dinners at our house!

When we moved to our current home in late 2008, my stepdaughter, Brianna, looked at the cookbooks carefully lined up the entire length of the fireplace.  “I think you have a few too many cookbooks,” she observed.

“But think of all the cool stuff I can make!” I replied.

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