Miscellaneous Food Stuffs

The frost is coming so I must harvest the mint leaves. What am I going to do with all of these? I made a pot of mint tea but now what? What about putting some in vodka and making mint extract? I read somewhere about making one’s own vanilla extract by putting a vanilla bean into vodka…

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What to do with broken eggs? Went to the grocery store for a few items mostly for baking and when bringing the bags back to the car one dropped. The egg carton popped open and a few eggs rolled onto the parking lot. Oh no! Not the eggs! Well, one was lost completely as it had spilled its guts all over the ground. Three others had cracked their shells but the membrane was intact. Still I felt these needed to be used this same day. Scrambled eggs for supper maybe?

Made a frittata instead. Shredded four small potatoes in my Cuisinart food processor. I only remembered this summer that it has a shredder attachment. Finely diced one onion. Sautéed the onion for five minutes in oil then added the potatoes. I should have squeezed the potatoes drier and coated them with a little oil prior to putting them in the frying pan. I have to stir them and scrape them off the bottom of the pan frequently. I also dice up ½ green bell pepper a small chunk of ham and about 2 ounces of cheese. Crack four eggs into a bowl, pour in ¼ cup milk and whisk. Add a little salt, if you use salt, and some black pepper. When you think the potatoes look brown enough pour all the ingredients together in the fry pan and mix well. I use a cast iron skillet so I can put this directly into the oven, 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Turns out to be tasty and filling.

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I did not look at a recipe for the above but was trying to put together something from memory from cookbooks. I think I had the notion that the potatoes would be crispier like a hash brown. Perhaps if I had lined the cast iron skillet with the potato mixture, baked until crisp, and then added the egg and ham mixture? Sort of like a quiche with a potato crust? I think I saw something like that on a Facebook post from a food/cooking site using muffin tins. So not an original idea of mine.

Speaking of Facebook I find it is a fabulous place to get recipes that one wants to try. Then one can monkey around with the idea and personalize it. I bet women have been doing that in their kitchens since the dawn of time.

Dinners for the rest of the week have not been “recipe” dinners.

blogfoodpics 001Burgeblogfoodpics 002rs: add your own toppings. Hubby added Roquefort or Camembert or other smelly cheese; I added avocado, tomato, and salsa. One night we cut up a kielbasa, smashed potatoes and cooked frozen peas. And tonight is baked fish fillets sprinkled with lemon juice and dill weed, leftover smashed potatoes, and frozen veg.

Here’s dessert! This is from  http://www.dessertfortwo.com/2015/10/caramel-banana-pudding-2/

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Nooks and Crannies

I decide to make sour dough “something”. This will be for breakfast so I ask if it should be pancakes, waffles, or English muffins. It is the latter than would be preferred by the other human resident of my house, the hubby. The cats don’t get a vote!

english muffins and frittata 002I open the KAF 200th Anniversary Cookbook and read the recipe and instructions (Page 538). With raised doughs it is necessary to read through the recipe to know the timing of the rises to determine the amount of time needed for the end product. English muffins will be fun as well since they are cooked on top of the stove and not baked in the oven.

The starter-sponge is prepared in the evening. This recipe does not use additional yeast. The current recipe at the King Arthur Flour website does. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/sourdough-english-muffins-recipeenglish muffins and frittata 005

The sponge is made by mixing together the starter, milk, and about 3 cups of the flour. Mix well and cover with plastic wrap for 2-24 hours. I tell myself I must remember to get up at a reasonable hour on this weekend morning to prepare the dough. Made the sponge at 9:30 PM and will plan to get up 7 AM.

1 Cup sourdough starter; 1 ½ C milk; 5 ½ C Flour; 1 Tab sugar; 1 Tab salt; 1 teas baking soda; cornmeal to sprinkle on baking sheet.

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Mix the rest of the dry ingredients minus the cornmeal in a bowl and then mix this into the sponge. It takes some work to get all incorporated together. Then let rest for about an hour.

Now for the “fun” part: rolling the dough out thin. This is easier said than done but finally I get it to where it seems good enough to cut. I try a number of items but settle on a round drinking glass that is 3 ½ inches in diameter. My biscuit cutter seemed too small as the recipe said they shrink as they cook.english muffins and frittata 009

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These were a great success. I am glad I had a griddle so I could cook more than a few in a skillet at the time. After resting the cut outs on the cornmeal covered baking pans for 15-20 minutes and heating the griddle and spraying it with cooking spray, they cook ten minutes on each side.

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This recipe made 24 so I now have two sets of six fork-split muffins in freezer bags in the freezer for future enjoyment.

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Now we can make our own “egg mcmuffins” with the baked eggs from the “Planning Breakfast” post. I had previously been putting the egg in the middle of a muffin (wheat-germ whole wheat, also from the KAF cookbook). I mentioned this to a colleague at a McDonalds the other day when I ordered just a coffee and she was ordering lunch. The cashier was in good spirits and showed good humor. He was a pleasure to order from. I rarely go to McDonalds and only for the coffee when there is the “medium for $1” special. I was disappointed with the pumpkin spice coffee as they use syrup for the flavoring. I suppose I will just have to go across the street and pay more for the DD coffee in the future. Live and learn.

A mind at rest. Hah!

So I caught hubby’s cold and after one night of no sleep due to scratchy throat; the second night I slept very well and woke up rested. Still have a cold but not bad enough to stay home from work. I actually have some energy that morning. I get out chicken, cut up potatoes, carrots, onion and celery and throw this in the crockpot along with a sprinkling of Herbs de Provence (just because it was on the counter) and some apple cider (because I had been thinking about cooking chicken with cider). I will add green beans when I come home from work and that’s dinner.

About the middle of the afternoon my cold hits me full force. I sound like I have a cold. You can hear me breathe. I am sniffling into my tissues, drinking hot tea, and thinking I will take a nap when I get home. I’ll curl up on the sofa and read my library book. It is due back at the library next week. Dinner is already made in the crock pot.

So I get home from work and change into comfy clothes. I prepare my book and my box o’ tissues. And here’s what I going through my mind:

The bed sheets need changing. I wonder if I should do a load of laundry? Cat box needs cleaning. Did the cats eat their food this morning? Where is Squeaky? Foodimentary says its National Boston Cream Pie day: do I have anything to make cream filling with? Should I? A friend posted that she doesn’t like Boston Cream Pie. What should I make of that? I need to embroider something over the stain on the front of this favorite sweatshirt. The hairs on my chin need to be tweezed (you older women will relate; you young women will go “hunh?”). I should look at my pattern book to make clothes for granddaughter. How come there’s no mail today? And then I have a sneezing fit! Wash the hands yet one more time.

So here’s what the body does: Cleans the cat box. Wash hands. Pulls the sheets off the bed. Sorts laundry into two baskets and puts one load in the washer. Wash hands. When I got out the chicken this morning I found cookie dough in the freezer. I take the cookie dough and wonder why I made this. It appears to be a plain sugar cookie. I put green beans in the crock pot. Wash hands. I remove two of the chicken leg quarters from the crock pot and remove meat from bone and put it in a freezer bag so I can make chicken soup sometime in the future. Wash hands. I read some blogs while preheating the oven to bake cookies. I wash the few containers from my lunch so hubby doesn’t find dishes in the sink when he comes home. I slice the cookie dough. I find some chocolate chips and think about making a glaze for the cookies to fancy them up. And then I do.

cookies 001 cookies 002I did not make a glaze. What I did was put a few chocolate chips on the hot cookies as they came out of the oven, I covered the pan briefly with another cookie sheet, and then I spread the melted chocolate chips on the cookie, and voila!

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I really should eat that messy one there in front. Hmmmm?

Meanwhile hubby calls saying he is on his way home from work and not to worry about dinner. Little does he know it‘s all taken care of.

Leftovers/a novel bread baking experience/pictures of food

As the title suggests this will be a stream of consciousness blog about food …

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Leftovers from dinner

First: I miss having the kids around to eat all this food. Sometimes I like to set a table with a well-rounded meal: meat, veggie, bread, dessert, etc. My step-daughters are good eaters. They always seemed to rave about my cooking and baking. I miss having them around the dinner table. My son became a foodie and likes good tasting food of good quality. There came a time when he stopped eating packaged bread so I had to make bread or have bakery bread on hand, along with plain yogurt, fruit, carrots and the like. Hummus was very popular with him. My daughter eats well of the basic foods minus cheese and milk products. Now these family dinner tables are reserved for an occasional weekend visit or holiday meals. The wee ones are growing up and going out on their own, establishing families and lives of their own, as it should be. But I miss them.

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Leftovers are not always a problem. Sometimes leftover bread becomes a problem. Especially should I get the notion to make a new loaf or muffins when the first batch has not been completely consumed. Like this evening. I was reading the KAF 200th Anniversary Cookbook again and looking at batter breads. I have half a loaf of pumpkin bread and a few pieces of Artisan bread left here!

Second: I decided to make a yeast pumpkin bread off the KAF website. It was a cool fall day and we were hanging around the living room parallel playing on our computers in between the hubby sleeping off and on due to having come down with a cold. You must understand that there are members of my family that think I am a fabulous baker. I am mediocre at best but I do bake which makes me unlike other people who do not bake or obsessively think about baking. Actually I must correct this thought. I am not mediocre; I am pretty darn good, just not always creative, or that knowledgeable about the science of baking. Mind you I have several books in my repertoire/collection that could teach me about the science but I have not memorized the information. I can tell you bits and pieces only.

That said, the bread dough is stiff and I set it out to rise. The recipe said this would take 45 minutes. So after an hour and a half I “call up” the KAF baker for a live chat about this issue. I have never called a baking or recipe hotline! I was not sure what to expect. It turns out that trying to rise bread dough in a 65 degree kitchen is going to take quite some time especially since I used the scoop and sweep method of measuring the flour instead of the proper method: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe/measuring-flour.html

So the KAF on-line baker told me to boil water in the microwave, remove the boiling water, and put the dough in there to rise. This creates a warm moist environment that the yeast will like. It worked!

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So after the second rise I baked the bread in the oven and voila! pumpkin bread 004

This was fabulous.

Tastes good too!

Third: Since blogging about food I have been taking pictures of dinners and what I have made. I have not always written about a specific dinner but have enjoyed looking at the photos. Here are some in no particular order:

West point weekend 032spaghetti meal

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Cole slaw made in my food processor when I just realized that it had a shredder attachment. Served with ribs.

Planning breakfast

I wake up on Sunday morning. Hubby is coming down with a cold so he sleeps in. We miss church. I am sure we can be forgiven. This is so unlike what I used to be like but that’s a whole other story. I still have faith; I find I am not as compulsive about church attendance.

So I am spending time blogging instead of writing my memoirs. I am spending too much time cooking/baking instead of sewing. And I am spending too much time watching TV instead of reading. And the housework is barely getting done! We did winterize the trailer yesterday after looking at new ones. So now I am dreaming of a new trailer with a few more amenities. But this is not a priority for our finances.

It is cold now. Well there is frost outside on the cars and the outside thermometer says it is 30 degrees. My weather App says it was 27 degrees. Brrrr!

Here’s Squeaky staring intently out of the dining room window. There must be a bird in the tree out there. breakfast 011

We spent too much money on groceries the day before since we did not go to the discount grocery store. We went to Stew Leonard’s. We went because we wanted to make fully loaded nachos for a meal and they have the best tortilla chips. Well, they have wonderful cheeses and a wonderful bakery and really good New England clam chowder and good meat even though it runs a bit higher in price than we are accustomed. So we bought too much. Now there is too much food in my fridge and pantry. What to cook first?

I put the coffee on to drip. I was going to write “to perk” but it is an automatic drip coffee maker. I have bought minimally processed breakfast sausages and thought this would be a nice Sunday morning breakfast treat. Then I remember the other day making baked eggs in a muffin tin and think I could make some more of these for weekday breakfasts. Lots of protein which supposedly is good for mornings and good for weight loss.

breakfast 007Cook up the sausages in the cast iron skillet. Four of these are for our breakfast this morning. I slice up the other four to put in the baked eggs.breakfast 005

Break an egg into each muffin cup. First spray with cooking spray.

breakfast 006Grate the cheese and assemble. I used about two ounces of sharp cheddar for 10 eggs. Oh, and be sure to poke each egg yolk. I am not sure why I think that is a necessary step. I know it would be essential if cooking the eggs in the microwave.

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Bake these for 20-25 minutes. Let cool only slightly before removing from the pan and placing on a plate to cool.

breakfast 010Here they are cooling in my fridge. (I forgot to take a picture of them right out of the oven.)

They don’t really look appetizing but toast a piece of bread, “nuke” an egg in the micro for 20 seconds, wrap it in the toast, and you’ve got breakfast in a jiff.

And breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

Dream job: test kitchen cook!

Here’s a picture of the cats. banana bars 008

Just a random picture I decided to throw in.

I have gained 3-4 pounds since I have been back to baking and not deliberately thinking about calories, portion control, healthy foods, and not eating what is enjoyable. I will just have to start giving away the baked goods.

I finally found something enjoyable. I have been baking but have not been completely satisfied with the outcomes. I made that coffee cake and although it was nice right out of the oven with coffee on the lazy morning, it sat on the counter the rest of the week. Well, part of it did. I took half of it to work and my coworkers ate that half. But the rest just sat there. I admit I nibbled at the Crumble (topping) and sent pieces to work with the hubby but that was more like obligation. I baked bread which is fabulous right out of the oven spread with butter, eaten with dinner, but any leftover sits there in the breadbox. I was not happy with the sourdough bread that I made the other weekend, other than freshly baked. The loaf or boule did not rise well. I baked “Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day” and this was fabulous right out of the oven too. But hubby and I did not gorge ourselves on it and now there is a small piece of this boule sitting along side the sourdough in the bread box. They are not light enough to use in a bread pudding type dish. I may just throw them in the freezer for breadcrumbs or croutons at some future date as long as I don’t clean out the freezer and dispose of them.

I HATE to throw away food!

Banana bars: This is another effort to bake through the KAF 200th Anniversary Cookbook. These are on page 356. Not willing to leave well enough alone, I use whole wheat pastry flour instead of regular whole wheat, and I add walnuts and leave out the poppy seeds.

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I chose this recipe because I had three over ripe bananas providing their fragrance to my kitchen. I am not sure what it is about KAF but here is another banana recipe that adds cornmeal to the batter.

So I mix all this up and spread it in the pan to bake. Just for fun, I sprinkle some Hershey Special Dark Chocolate Chips on top.

banana bars 010Voila, banana brownies! And these are tasty. I send half of them to work with hubby to prevent me from eating them all and gaining even more pounds!

They are tasty with a glass of cold milk.

This is all well and good but as I mentioned earlier I do not leave well enough alone. I am thinking “pumpkin”. I have about three-quarters of a can of pumpkin in the fridge. This is leftover from a pumpkin smoothie trial earlier this week. I can substitute pumpkin for the banana. Why not? I would need to add spices too.

So here’s “my recipe”. (There may be some pumpkin bar recipe out there so I am not really claiming to invent this. It is my adaptation of the KAF recipe.)

Cream one stick butter with 2/3 cup packed brown sugar and one egg. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and the pumpkin. (an entire can or 3/4 of a can).Whisk dry ingredients together in separate bowl: 1 1/4 Cup all-purpose flour, 1 Cup whole wheat pastry flour, 1/4 Cup cornmeal, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves. Stir in dry ingredients and mix just til blended. Now stir in 1/2 Cup raisins and 1/2 Cup chopped walnuts. Spread in 10 x 14 jelly roll pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

This batter was dryer and more difficult to spread and smooth than the banana bars. But with patience I managed to get it spread. I sprinkled it with chocolate chips and baked it in a 350 oven for 22 minutes.

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These have a slightly lumpier appearance and chewier texture. They turned out pretty good. Cool!

Chili a la Aldi: on how to assemble a meal

Aldi is one of my discount grocery stores that I like to shop. Their prices are fantastic and I find their brands to be good. But like all groceries with prepared/processed foods one must look at labels to avoid ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and the like. I did find HFCS in their pickle relish! I do stock my pantry with the canned goods and have not been too disappointed by their produce. In fact that was where we bought the absolute best tasting honeydew melon this summer. And the cantaloupe was fabulous too. I don’t know where they get them. Could be USA, could be somewhere else. I admit I do not always pay attention.

It is autumn and the weather is cooling down. Chili is a good meal to prepare early in the week as its flavors get better with the leftovers. October is apparently National Chili Month. Who knew? Check out the following website for daily food holidays: http://foodimentary.com/

One can make chili any number of ways. I use ground turkey and beans. In my pantry I have chili flavored beans, regular pinto beans, canned tomatoes with chili, canned corn with red and green bell peppers, and chili powder.

chili 001You could  just put the content of the cans in a pot to simmer and have a quick chili. This might come in handy for camping or road trips or if the power is out and you need to cook your dinner on the grill or camp stove.

First dice the onion. I do not cut onion in a professional manner. Julia Child would be appalled! But I get the job done. Then dice the green pepper. While this is sautéing in the bit of cooking oil, I just then remember to put in a garlic clove. I watched a TV show in which Jacques Pepin diced a garlic clove. For a while I could do that just like him but now I have forgotten how. So I just do my best and throw that in the pan too.

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When hubby watches me cut up vegetables he yells  at me to “curl your fingers”!  I find this the most awkward way to hold the vegetable but I do try.

I read somewhere that fat enhances flavors so I put the chili powder in at this time. I then brown the turkey in this mixture before adding all the canned ingredients. I need a lot of practice to be a recipe blogger because I forget to take step by step pictures. But here are a few:

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Not having any cheddar cheese we serve this in bowls with a slice of American Cheese on top. I toast up some ends of leftover sourdough bread on the griddle and serve these toastettes along side.

Dinner is served.

Coffee Cake for a Holiday Monday

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I had a little helper earlier this weekend. My granddaughter “helped” roll out pie dough and punch down sourdough bread dough. Some of the first “toys” I gave her were a set of colorful measuring spoons and plastic measuring cups.

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I think I tried to have my own two kids help out in baking but I do not remember. Raising them was full of the chaos of frantically wanting to raise them in a perfect manner to avoid all the ills of racism, sexism, and stereotypes in our world. I was not a “go with the flow” parent; I second guessed myself and over thought almost everything. But that doesn’t mean these weren’t enjoyable and meaningful years. I would just do some things differently if I were a parent now. But isn’t that the way it is for a lot of things in our pasts once we have life experience under our belt?

I decided to make the Cheddar Apple Coffee Cake for this lazy Monday morning. In afterthought I should have gotten up at 5:00 AM when I first awoke to start this but too late now. So it is after 10:00 when we are eating freshly baked coffee cake with our leftover coffee.

columbusdayweekend 034Mis en place. All except the flour which I had to pull out of the cupboard while mixing was in process.

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So here I am in my kitchen peeling and chopping apples. I am thinking about the Vietnamese family that lived with my family in the 1970s following the fall of Saigon. Hoa (wife and mother) could peel apples and potatoes so thin; Mom and I were impressed. I’ve never been able to replicate that but try from time to time. I dice up the cheddar cheese block and wonder if there will be some left for my husband to have with chips or crackers later.

King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook, Page 104: Topping is 1 Cup Flour, 1 Cup Brown Sugar, 2 teas cinnamon, 1/2 Cup Butter. Mix together until looks like fine crumbs. I added sliced almonds to this.

I could not find this recipe on the KAF website. So I will write it here. It is a basic coffeecake made with buttermilk. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl: 2 Cups flour, 1 Cup whole wheat flour, 1 Tab baking powder, 1/2 teas baking soda, 1 teas salt.

In mixer bowl beat 3 eggs, 1/4 Cup oil, and 1 1/2 Cups sugar for 3 minutes. I added about 1/2 teas almond extract here. Mix in the buttermilk, 1 Cup, alternately with the flour mixture in two parts. Now stir in apples and cheddar cheese, diced and chopped 1 1/2 Cups each.

Pour into pan that has been greased and floured. Add 1/2 batter, cover with topping, repeat. Bake 350 degrees (F) for 50-60 minutes. My oven required 60 minutes. Cool in pan for ten minutes, then turn out onto plate.

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The KAF cookbook section on coffee cakes teaches about the basics of coffee cakes and the options one has regarding pan sizes and additions. This is good because I added a bit of almond extract to the batter and forgot to save a third of the topping to sprinkle on the cake after turning onto the plate. This plate is one my mother gave me. She had it in the gift box it came in and I am not sure if it was ever used or not. She wanted me to have it. That is what matters. And this is her signature topping: sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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Be sure to clean up aftewards.

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Kitchen Bully

That needs five minutes to cook before you add the eggs.

You’re going to put that in there? (with skeptical tone)

I don’t think that’s done.

Can you freeze raw eggs?

That should be enough for four.

It’s not fair of you to eat all of this; it means I don’t get any for leftovers.

You can’t cook it that way!

I was going to use this; why are you using that?

But they’re still frozen! (with scrunched up nose)

I am accused of being a kitchen bully. This is probably true. As long as I stay out of the kitchen when hubby is cooking, all is well. But if I am there “helping”, then I’m maybe not so nice! I should be grateful and I truly am! I just am a strong willed woman with definite opinions! And I don’t shrink from saying them outloud.

So we did go to the kitchen and chop a green pepper and an onion to put with eggs to make a wrap. I chopped ham and peperoni. Putting the veg in the skillet I say one of the above statements. Before that I said something about the size of the skillet he had put on the stove! In response to the “kitchen bully” remark I march over to the other side of the kitchen, an entire four steps away, open the King Arthur Flour Cookbook to something “chocolate” and announce that I will make a cake, so there! Page 281. (The cookbook recipe does not list espresso powder like the website does.) I made the cookbook version.  http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/king-arthur-flours-original-cake-pan-cake-recipe

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This is the pan cake recipe which is similar to the snack cake recipe I have clipped from the back of a flour bag many years ago. I don’t really make the three holes in the flour mixture for the oil, vanilla, and vinegar but pour all the wet ingredients and stir to mix well. Pour it into the greased pan and stick it in the oven. Voila! In 35-40 minutes we have cake. Technically it is Vegan, if that matters to anyone. It is made without butter or eggs.

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Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar and serve. Hubby and I eat half a cake while watching Jay Leno’s Garage TV show about classic cars.

We ate half a cake.

Got a problem with that?!

LOL (I think this is “text” for laugh out loud, but in my case it is more like “little old lady”!)

Eat cake; it’s good for you!

I don’t feel like cooking!

This is real life. I come home from work. I think about food. I go to grocery store for a few items. Come home with more than a few items. I went for half and half and cans of pumpkin for pie. I come home with grapes, bananas, apples, cheese, chips, half and half and cans of pumpkin. Oh, and green peppers.

I already made a big pot of spaghetti earlier in the week. Hubby made spaghetti pie which we ate yesterday and there is one in the freezer. We had frozen fish filet sandwiches already this week. There is salad in the fridge but who’s in the mood?

Hubby comes home and eats cheese and chips. We sit on the sofa and play with our iPhones or computer. I peruse many interesting recipes on blogs and other places on the internet. The cat is curled up on the chair awaiting an opening of a new can of catfood. There is still some in their dishes!

I have too many ideas of baked goods to make. I still plan to “bake through” the King Arthur 200th Anniversary Cookbook. I have made several recipes so far and will be using the sour dough bread recipe this weekend as well as the Cheddar Apple Coffee Cake. But what to do this evening?

I am reading a new book that women wrote about learning to cook and how food is important in their family. This is Three Many Cooks by Anderson, Keet, and Damelio. Is it the eating of food or the cooking of food that I love? I think it is the process of producing the food, cooking, baking, preparing. I also love to feed people. I like food, good food, but the social aspect of the meal is something I still strive for. My sister could write a book like that but she is not particularly a writer. Hey, here’s an idea: I could be her ghost writer! I do not remember being taught how to cook. I remember learning that homemade was better, and cheaper, which made it better. Mom gave me a cookbook when I got my first apartment so I could know how to cook vegetables and meats. I remember reading “women’s magazines” and trying out recipes. I learned that cakes were made from scratch and there were all kinds of cookies to make at Christmas. Mom  would make Divinity. My sister can make Divinity. Me, I make fudge!

So here I sit typing away getting hungrier and hungrier. I am most likely going to chop onions and peppers and put them in scrambled eggs. Should I use ham or bacon or pepperoni as well?

That will be my secret!