Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Weather Change and Skeletal Pain

How quickly the earth can spin and send us in different weather patterns.  It's not the weather that bothers me so much as the dampness and chills when it rains.

In the last couple of months we have gone from warm 70 degree days to overnight lows of 50's and lower.   Even with a new furnace and setting the temps around 70 for heat and 72 for air the living room seems to be in a constant chill.  That could be because I don't get any direct sunlight into that room and there are no windows on the afternoon sun side.


But for the most part it is the damp weather brought on by rain or snow that gets to me and my bones.


The reason for writing this blog is because my bones are feeling the dampness and I have had to resort to medical treatment twice in the past three months.  The air conditioning was on and I don't deal with cold very well.  So far I'm still only using Tylenol extra strength but I'm taking 4 doses a day during the bouts of pain that creep into my joints and bones.


Doc doesn't think it's arthritis because of where the pains are and where they radiate but I'm the one feeling them and I know it's in the joints and bones.  I do have a bone spur on my shoulder though.  I've become my mother and resorted to using Icy/Hot patches on my back and arm.

Twice I've taken an inflammation prescription but that doesn't help unless I continue to take my Tylenol at the same time.

I firmly believe that it is the dampness in the air that affects everyone who has any joint or skeletal ailment.  I don't have the solution for the pain but I know when it occurs.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Raised Doughnuts Made With Yeast

Let's tempt our taste buds with one of my favorite doughnuts, a raised donut made with yeast.  They can be made in any shape or size but I prefer these doughnuts to the cake doughnuts.



While most recipes for this doughnut call for a dollop of honey, I can't make these because my daughter is allergic to honey.  In place of the honey, I use maple syrup.  It doesn't alter the taste that much but does give you the sweetness that comes from the honey.



To make these doughnuts, you combine 2 cups of warm water, a package of dry yeast and 1 teaspoon of maple syrup in a large mixing bowl.  Cover with a linen towel and let raise until bubbly.



Add 2 eggs, beaten, 3/4 cups sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon lemon extract and 1 stick melted butter to the yeast mixture.  Add flour until the mixture is no longer sticky.  Cover with your linen towel and let raise.  Punch down.



Roll out the dough and cut with doughnut cutter.  Place doughnuts on cookie sheet, cover and let raise.  Fry in your deep fryer placing the raised side down first.  Turn over when the doughnut raises to the surface.  Place doughnuts on brown papered surface and coat with sugar or glaze.

This is the same dough that you would use to make the Polish version of doughnuts, Paczki for Shrove Tuesday.

These doughnuts can be frozen and eaten at a later time if you make too many.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Doughnuts The Old Fashioned Way

As a child I remember my father would bring home a package of cake doughnuts, just plain old cake doughnuts with no powdered sugar, no chocolate, no cinnamon on them.  It was just a package of a dozen plain cake doughnuts.



You can still buy the packaged brands of these doughnuts or you can go to the supermarket and buy some from the bakery section.



There is Bella Christi Bakery in Aspinwall where they make a smaller version of these doughnuts right in their sales room as patrons are coming in to purchase baked goods.

It is very easy to make these simple doughnuts.  I prefer to use my deep fryer to make these but you can do it in a cast iron frying pan filled with 2-4 inches of oil with the flame set on high.

Mix 1-1/2 cups of flour with 1 c. sugar, 3 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, 2 tbsp. soft shortening, 2 eggs and 3/4 c. milk.  Blend on slow speed in your mixer and then stir in 2 additional cups of flour.



Put dough on well floured surface. Roll around lightly to coat with flour. Roll dough 3/8 inch thick. Cut with floured doughnut cutter.



Slide doughnuts into hot oil using a slotted spoon, turning them when they rise to the surface with a slotted spoon.  Don't use a fork to turn the doughnuts so that they don't get saturated with oil. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Remove carefully from oil with your slotted spoon. Drain the doughnuts on brown paper.  I use the paper bags from the grocery store for this.  Paper towels work just as well but are more expensive to use.



Serve plain, sugared, or frosted. When you are done with your doughnuts, you can make a batch of doughnut holes to use up all of your batter.

Enjoy our version of old fashioned doughnuts.




Thursday, January 26, 2017

Prayers and Money

A very wise man, my grandfather, once told me, "A penny saved is a penny earned."  He was obviously expounding Benjamin Franklin. Papa was a frugal man who had come through the depression on the other side of wealth. Once a steel mill executive, he was now a hard working pipe inspector who went to work daily on his split shifts. He was by no means wealthy in the form of money but his advice and parenting were golden.


As small children, Papa would give my brother and I a nickel and then later in life a dime with the same piece of advice which revolved around saving. Every week, I would run around the corner to the local store to buy my nickel or dime's worth of penny candy. I hadn't learned the lesson of saving for a rainy day yet.
That's not to say we didn't have the proverbial piggy bank. Ours were plastic Planter's Peanut Men. Mine was green and my brother's was red. It was stuffed with birthday money and what I thought was a fortune in silver dollars.
As we got older, Papa increased our weekly money to a quarter and I felt like a millionaire as I went down street to the five and dime variety store to spend my fortune. I loved paper dolls and every week I would come home with another booklet of dollies with an assortment of beautiful clothing. My pride and joy was my Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles paper dolls.
Then came the day that I wandered across the street to a new shop. It was called the Swagger Shop and it carried a little more expensive toys and sundries. In the window was a dress making doll. It came with a doll and what I thought were gorgeous dresses and cost a small fortune; almost $10. I lusted for that doll for months and months.
It was about that time that I learned the secret to praying for money. What you really needed you were to ask in Jesus' name. Every night, I would say my night prayers and at the end I would add a prayer for that doll set until I finally forgot all about it and quit asking. A couple of months later came my birthday and in my envelope from Papa was a crisp $10 bill. I had no trouble spending that $10. I all but ran to Swagger Shop to make my purchase. As I said, it had been months since I started praying for that toy. In the end, it gave me less pleasure than I had thought it would and the packaging was very deceptive. There were no clothes with those dolls just the material to make them clothes. Here was another lesson lesson to learn, "All that glitters is not gold."


Papa lived with us a few more years and retired from his mill job at the age of 75. I remember my mother telling us to not ask Papa for money because he was retired and didn't have the money to spend that he used to have.  Papa was the only driver in our little family and when he retired he sold his automobile which cut back on those luxury trips we had learned to love.
By this time, I had learned my lessons that Papa had taught us.  When he left us, I soon began my own earning life.  At the early age of 12, I begged my Dad to let me do dishes at his little diner that he had purchased when Papa passed. I did that until he no longer had the restaurant and I was old enough to get a paying job at the age of 16. Hard work never hurt anyone they say and I started young. I'm well past 65 now and I'm still working rather than rust away. I may not work until I'm 75 but that is my goal.  It is my time to respect what God has given me and spend it wisely on what is needed.
I still ask God for what I think I need and in the name of Jesus for the important life events. What God wills me to have he gives me.  God always answers my prayers, but not always at the time I ask and the answer sometimes is "No" because it's not in my best interest.
The best Prayer by which to live our lives is the Serenity Prayer:

The lesson here is: "Yes, God answers our prayers for money but only to the extent we need it. He also tempers in some of life's lessons to go along with what he provides for us."

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Cookies: Biscotti

My father-in-law was a dunker.  He loved dunking his cookies in his coffee to eat them.  Biscotti is one of the cookies that can get hard if you aren't careful.  They can also be spongy and easy to eat.  This is one of the easiest cookies to make and one that is good no matter what time of year.  I know my father-in-law loved these and the honey cookies that get hard if not stored in an airtight container with a slice of apple.

Continuing on with my Cookie stories, I spent a lot of time in the grocery store last year deciding whether to make Orange or Almond Biscotti for Christmas.

Orange Biscotti made right
I was torn between the flavors and since I don't have another orange cookie on the list, I decided to make the Biscotti orange. 

My orange biscotti in a storage container
If you remember, I made Peppermint Biscotti a few years ago but I wasn't happy with the end product.  I think the color turned me off since it came out pink from the ground up peppermint sticks.


Peppermint Biscotti
Everything started out fine as I followed the steps in the recipe.  I used the spatula attachment to mix the margarine, sugar, eggs and orange extract.  Once I was ready for my dry ingredients, I switched over to the dough hook and proceeded to mix in the dry ingredients a little at a time in my Kitchen Aid mixer.  The dry pour attachment is a big help in keeping the dry ingredients from flying out of the mixer.



Another use for having the right tools to do the job.  After using the dough hook it was time to roll out the dough into logs.


Next the logs were put into the oven for 35 minutes.  Following the directions, the logs were then cooled before cutting into slices and putting back into the oven for an additional 15 minutes.

The results was that I misjudged the size of my logs and my Biscotti are the size of what they are named for biscuits.  Next time I need to keep the dough a little wider and not so round.  That's the lesson for today.  Time and trial are the best cooks or bakers.  Even though they taste wonderful, the next time they should turn out more like small cake slices instead of round.


Almond with chocolate

Biscotti with chocolate drizzles
For weddings though you need to be more creative and garnish you biscotti with nuts or even chocolate drizzles.  Almond slivers in an almond biscotti is a favorite for weddings.






Almond Pistachio
Chocolate with Nuts

Almond pistachio is another taste that I like since I'm partial to any baking done with pistachios.  My personal favorite is a chocolate biscotti with nuts.  Today is my birthday and chocolate with nuts would be a great selection for toasting my special day.


That's my baking story for today.  Happy baking.



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What's for Dessert?

I have to admit, I've been pretty lazy when it has come to baking.  My sweet tooth is smarting something fierce and the store-bought goodies just are not cutting it even though the lemon meringue pie from Eat 'N Park came really close in the tart versus sweetness test.

I guess I have to pull out some of my recipes and see what I can come up with to ease the hunger pangs.


Let's start out with a cake that my mother-in-law made almost every time there was an occasion to need one.  She called it the Yum Yum Cake and it was chocked full of so many goodies that it was hard to not to like it.



Even though I'm lactose intolerant, I'm a big fan of whipped cream and had a favorite bakery that made Whipped Cream Puffs every Wednesday.  I was so fond of them, I would buy two and eat those for lunch instead of having anything else.  What's even nicer is that these don't take a lot of ingredients.  The hardest thing about them is making sure that all of the moisture beads have baked off giving you that great crusty shell to be filled.


Of course, if you are making cream puffs, you just need to add chocolate icing to the top to make it an Eclair.  You can use custard filling or any whipped filling to give it some variety.

Apple cake ready to pour the caramel glaze

If you have more time and energy, my very favorite cake is apple cake with caramel drizzle poured over it.  This cake is even more decadent than Death by Chocolate.

Now that I have made myself totally hungry, I need to decide which it's going to be for tonight.  How about a vote from the audience.  Which would you make today?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Love Your Neighbor

We have been told to "Love your Neighbor, as yourself."  I ask you, "Who is your neighbor?"  Is it the lady next door or the person who stole your wallet last week?  That is an extreme example but one that you have to take into consideration.  It's not just the little things we need to forgive but even the bigger ones.



The real answer is both.  Yes, your neighbor is everyone with whom you come in contact.  Over the years, I've learned that fighting doesn't solve anything when it comes to personal situations.  Your inner being has to let it go and learn to live on with the people around you.

Don't get me wrong.  That doesn't mean you have to be best friends with that someone who has wronged you but you do need to forgive and forget.  I've heard people say, "I'll forgive them but I'll never forget they did that to me."  In the end this leads to a festering sore inside that makes people bitter in their dealings with not only that person who wronged them but with everyone around them.

It's time for us to take a look into what is festering in our mind and whom we are having problems letting go of wronged feelings.  It's time to make a conscious effort to letting go.  You don't have to physically encounter them in order to do this.  What you need to do is make an effort to not dwell on what happened but take it to the high ground and look for what good you can do by letting go of the emotions that are holding you back from forgetting.

I've had many upsets in my life and one of them was one that I had to rid myself from all contact with a person.  Over the years, I let the bitterness set in and avoided them at all costs.  I've learned that because of other circumstances, I'm only hurting other people involved and have come to a position in life where I can speak with them without the rankling and enjoy the company of others in their company.  This is loving your neighbor as yourself in it's fulfillment and I thank God for that realization and with his mercy having come to this point.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Saturday and the Aroma of Homemade Bread

Home Made Loaf of Bread

In this day of squishy bread or too dry bread it is ludicrous that anyone would bake their own bread and spend the time it takes to make it.  Ludicrous unless you want that wonderful aroma that fills the house or the pleasure of the first piece that is cut with butter that melts because the loaf isn't all the way cooled yet.  There are reasons why people make homemade bread that are totally self indulging.

Even though I knew how to make bread from scratch, I started baking it when I was a single Mom and off work due to surgery.  I could not go out to shop during the weeks after surgery so I made bread instead.  After I met and married my second husband, I made homemade bread because I had seven children.  My husband had been brought up on homemade bread from the time he was an infant.  His mom made it every Saturday, and after I married him, I got in the habit of making it every Saturday.

Bread Dough After Rising

Bread is the opposite of making pie dough.  You can't knead it too much.  Getting those air pockets out of it are what makes it good.  The recipe I've given you makes about seven loaves of bread.  I like to braid it when I doing it for a special dinner, but otherwise I make loaves.  The only difference is I make 5 individual pieces for each loaf and knead and roll them into little logs.  Then I place the logs next to each other in the loaf pan before I let them raise for the last time before going into the oven.  It doesn't affect the taste and the loaf bakes into one but it makes a different shape to the tops.

Pepperoni Bread
As a variety, we like to use the dough to make Pepperoni Bread.  Just flatten out the dough and roll pepperoni and mozzarella cheese into it before you let it raise for the last time.  Bake the same as your homemade bread.

Sandwich Buns
You can also use your bread dough to make sandwich buns by kneading smaller pieces of dough and folding the edges under before place each piece in a rectangular baking pan.

Fried Dough in Deep Fryer
Fried Dough sprinkled with sugar
Another fun thing to do with bread dough is to take a piece about the size of a handful.  Pull the dough out and drop it into 350 deg. oil to make fried dough.  Almost a doughnut but not quite.  Once it's browned you take it out and shake it into a bag of sugar to coat it.

Pizza Shell from bread dough
The last tip I have for you is to make the last loaf into pizza dough.  Spread it out on a pizza pan and make your own pizza.  My mother-in-law would make white pizza with olive oil spread over the dough and then dropping her cheeses and vegetable onto it before baking it at 350 deg. for about seven minutes.

If you like good yeast bread and buns, you are sure to like these. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

It's My Way Or None

The title of this article has a bold ring to it.  In my world, I only have to cater to myself since I no longer have a husband.  Yes, my son lives with me, but he is every bit as opinionated as I am when it comes to personal needs and habits.  We co-habituate but we each do our own thing.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am very opinionated and have an opinion on just about anything and everything.  That's one of the reasons why I write this blog and post to other media.  It's just my opinion and you are free to disagree with me.  After all the Bill of Rights guarantees our right to freedom of speech.

I love carrots raw cut into sticks or baby carrots, but I have an aversion to cooked carrots.
Baby Carrots with Ranch Dipping Dressing
 They are too mushy for my taste.  It's something to do with the consistency rather than the taste.  I can eat some cooked carrots in stews or soups as long as they are cut small and there isn't an overabundance of them in the mix.

From the time I was a small child, I could not eat beets in any form.  I don't know why.  It could be that they have the same mushy consistency.  But just seeing those hard boiled eggs in beet juice turns me off and I love hard boiled eggs.

I spent many a long evening sitting at the dinner table until bed time with a plate of something in front of me because I would not or could not eat what was on it.  Oysters was another of those but I loved the warm milk they were served in and oyster crackers in it.

I don't like what I call designer coffee products that you can buy at most coffee stands or delis.  I drink black coffee but only black coffee.  I prefer Maxwell House, "good to the last drop" in their Master Blend.

Maxwell House Master Blend
Today, it took me half an hour to find the latest version of that blend since they continually change the packaging and I had to find it.  They now package it as Master Blend, Light.  They have stronger versions that are Medium and Bold. I don't like what I call designer coffee products that you can buy at most coffee stands or delis.  When I was younger, I tried drinking coffee as a courtesy visiting my first husband's home.  I tried it with sugar.  I tried it with milk.  I tried it with both.  Unforturnately, I didn't try it black until I was stuck in a snow storm one day on the way to work and black was all that was left in the coffee machine.  I've been drinking it that way ever since.

When I was growing up I had a best friend.  She was every bit as opinionated as I was and had no qualms about telling you what she thought.  I bring her up because a lot of my best recipes came from her family and a lot of my best memories went to rest with her just before Christmas in 2013.

One such memory was the wonderful Fudge that her Aunt Grace used to make.  It was just the right consistency that melted in your mouth with just a hint of the chocolate coated sugary granules melting into your taste buds.

Hershey Cocoa fudge
 She made her fudge from the Hershey's Cocoa Recipe and it was sent many times to Korea where her son was stationed and it arrived in tact rather than a pool of sugary drool.  She had perfected the ability to test the cooked chocolate by the small ball in water formula.  That is how I love to eat fudge.  I don't like the versions that so many of the stores carry that is smooth and creamy.  No one can get just the right consistency that Aunt Grace achieved.

I have opinions on religion and opinions on politics but I have lived long enough to learn the value of keeping those opinions to myself.  It profits no one doing battle over those two subjects.  So I've lived my life as stubborn as they come because "it's my way or none."

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Old Fashioned Penny Candy and Fudge

In years gone by, I remember penny candy that we would buy from the corner store.  Don Kahn, our local grocery store owner, and many like him across the country had glass cases just lined with these delightful candies that sometimes sold two for a penny.

glover320.blogspot.com


I have searched the Internet but cannot find a picture of one of my favorites which was the tiny pie tin that had chocolate fudge in it with a tiny tin spoon to eat it.  The poster I borrowed from another blog has the closest picture I could find.  They sold for a penny each and they came in chocolate or vanilla fudge.  The link is to Old Fashioned Fudge Recipes.


Of course, everyone remembers the licorice whips which you can still buy in the candy section in bags sold as Strings.


Along the same line, was the red jelly candy coins.  These were normally cherry flavored.


During holiday seasons, you might find some of these treasures in the candy case.  They were chocolate medallions covered with gold foil.
When I had more than a few pennies to spend I would buy the candy balls that would change colors as you sucked on them.  In and out of your mouth you would pop them to see what color they had turned into.  Then there were the fireballs that were red hot as you sucked away at the sweetness.


I remember those waxy little bottles that were filled with just a drop or two of sugary flavored syrup that we called soda pops.

Tootsie Rolls and Daisies


Who could forget the Tootsie Pops that are still popular today



Tootsie Rolls that come in various sizes and bags of the bits in your local candy aisles.



In this selection you have your Mary Jane that were peanut butter flavored and a Bit-O-Honey another hard candy.  Banana Flips were popular too.


Fruit slices were not among my favorites but you could buy them in various flavors.  The most popular being the orange slices.  You can still buy these by the bagful at the grocery store.

The day of the penny candy is gone but not from my memory.  Candy has become a big business and most of these candies are still sold in various containers and sizes of bags.