Sunday, May 23, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake was very popular when I was little and Mother of Ken really disliked her and didn't want me to have a lot of Strawberry Shortcake-themed stuff.  It's too bad that this annoying little creature ruined the good name of a delicious dessert.  That doesn't mean I don't eat strawberry shortcake, of course, but I always think of this when I do:

I was looking for something completely unrelated today and came across a recipe for "Old fashioned Strawberry Cinnamon Shortcake" that I had torn out of the Penzey's catalog a few months ago.  Since I just bought some fresh strawberries this morning, I decided to give the recipe a try.

Start by preparing your strawberries as you normally would for shortcake with a little sugar.  I just cut up a few strawberries since I only needed a single serving.

For the shortcake, you need the following:
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 c. butter
1 egg
1-4 tbsp. milk
2 tbsp. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Grease a 9 inch round cake pan.  In a large bowl or mixer, blend the butter and egg well.  Add the flour, baking powder, sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon (I would also add 1/4 tsp. - 1/2 tsp. salt) and begin mixing.   Then, add the milk, starting with 2 tbsp., until it forms a slightly sticky dough.  Press the dough evenly into the cake pan and brush with melted butter.

Bake at 425 for 12-14 minutes and then let it cool briefly.  You can either cut a piece for an individual serving and split it in half or remove the whole cake from the pan and split it in half.

I layered my split shortcake with fresh whipped cream and strawberries until I ended up with this:

Very good--the addition of the nutmeg and cinnamon is just enough to make it taste different from a traditional strawberry shortcake.  I think it takes less time to make this cake than it takes to open a store-bought pound cake or Angel Food cake and it is exponentially better.

Thanks to Cynthia Field and Penzey's for sharing this recipe with the rest of us.  I'll be filing this one away for later...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust

Another vestige of The Disgustington's tenure in this house is now gone.  I won't go into all of the details, but I spent much of this weekend doing a serious spring cleaning and making some slight changes to the decor of the house.  One of the things that I did was replace all of the cabinet and drawer hardware in the kitchen and both bathrooms.  

Here is what was in the bathrooms before:

I really dislike things that are made to look like something they aren't--these handles are an example.  They appear to have a lock, but it is filled in.  Who thought of this?  Just make plain handles--you aren't fooling anyone.  I have a similar dislike for shirts that are made to look like two tops are layered and shoes that look like normal shoes from the front, but are backless and therefore not real shoes.  Anyway, I removed the old ones (and good God, I cannot describe the filth I found beneath that was certainly not my filth) and put on some new handles:

New glass knobs for the medicine cabinet:

The new handle design on the top and the old one on the bottom:

I also dislike handles that look like the ones that swing out when you pull on them, but are actually just stuck out permanently like the one that you see above.  I have a lot of opinions about seemingly insignificant things, but you probably already knew that.

Here is the downstairs bathroom vanity with new hardware:

Luckily for me, The Disgustingtons used the same hardware in both bathrooms, so I was dealing with the same measurements for all of the cabinets and drawers.  Here is the upstairs bathroom vanity with the old hardware (the kind with the fake locks and permanent swing-out):

New hardware:

The change in the kitchen is much more dramatic.  The old hardware was really too country for this house, so I replaced it with something more classic.  The filth beneath these was unimaginable--I had to pry several of the handles loose from the same dirt-covered grease that took Mother of Ken and me two days to remove from the stove when I moved in.  Here you see one of the new knobs on the left and one of the old ones on the right:

New drawer pull on the top, old ones on the bottom.  Kenna especially loves these because the design of the ends is called "paw."

The new hardware is heavier and nicer and it is shiny and new, so I'm hoping that will help us sell the house.  Here's what the kitchen looks like now:

In addition to the cabinetry update, I also cleaned all of the windows and window sills, dusted all of the logs and ceilings, washed all of the light fixtures and ceiling fan blades, and cleaned every room thoroughly.  Then, we did some work outside, deadheading some of the plants, cleaning the porches, etc.  I thought you gentle readers might enjoy some photos of the flowers in the front yard:

The world's largest volunteer viola below:

I tried to get Kenna to sit next to the viola to give you a sense of scale, but she wasn't cooperative.  She really just wanted to eat grass and then gag.  Fun times.

Doesn't she look exhausted from all of this work?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

These Dreams

Kenna had an exciting couple of days on Friday and Saturday.  On Friday, a box came from Mother of Ken.  McKenna was sure that Boomer was inside:

She posed with the Box of Boomer:

On Saturday, she had to go to the vet for her annual check up, which included a blood test and two shots.  She was exhausted when we got home and spent the rest of the weekend sleeping (for a change).

This one is my favorite:

She's totally healthy and all rested up now.  The best part was that she got a new rabies tag that makes a different jingle noise than her old one, which she loves.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I bought a new slipcover today because the one that was on the couch was starting to look pretty bad with all of the McKenna snags.  This one is pretty different--all cotton with very subtle stripes of neutral colors against a dark red background.  Thoughts, gentle readers?

Do we like it?  Should it stay or should it go back?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Reminiscing: Amazing Magical Jell-O Desserts

Okay, gentle readers, I know I promised you clowns peddling Jell-O, but I apparently confused clowns with magicians.  So, without further ado, I bring you Amazing Magical Jell-O Desserts with Marvello the Great.  Don't worry--Marvello is as creepy as any clown.

He looks like Mr. Peanut on stilts...

This cookbook has some very odd ideas for what you can do with Jell-O.  Consequently, the illustrations and photos are quite odd.  Here is an example:

What is happening here?  Why is the dog chasing that thing that looks like a firecracker or a bomb?  I hope MacGyver is around the corner...

Oh, okay, I get it now.  That thing is a "Banana Wobbler."  What the heck?

I'm sure that "Fred" is thrilled to be presented with this delicacy on his special day.  Or, I suppose that you could channel Sandra Lee and use these as place cards.  


I can totally think of at least ten applications for this method, mostly for Halloween.  "Um, I accidentally sliced my pinky while I was plating dessert, but I don't think anyone will notice the blood under the whipped cream topping..."

I think that Post paid these people to feature Alpha-Bits.  I know I'm always looking for a good "Whiz" recipe...

Oh, my.  This whole book reminds me of Aunt Sandy, also known as "Puddin' Cups" for her unfortunate saggy surgically enhanced breasts and her use of pudding cups in dessert recipes.

These. Freak. Me. Out.  Although, I have to say that I'm happy to see multiple ethnic groups represented.

Leah, if I ever throw you a party, I will make all of the food different kinds of "balls."  These will be on the dessert table.  Nothing like some cereal covered in gelatin...perhaps green for Leah, though.

I have so many things to say about this:

1.  This looks like a design for a new inflatable yard decoration, no?
2.  So, Santa is wearing glasses/sunglasses while motorcycling through the sky at night?
3.  Santa's bike has acorn lights and giraffe wheel covers?
4.  Instead of exhaust, Santa's bike spews out stars.
5.  He hauls around a dish of Jell-O pudding decorated with candy corn? 

You thought you'd never see that crazy rabbit again, didn't you?  It isn't enough just to see an illustration of this creation.  You will want the recipe and the accompanying photo.  Nothing bad could happen when you give children something that is held together with toothpicks, right?  Especially when you are supposed to break them in half and then stick them, splinter side in, into the large marshmallow...

All hell breaks loose at the end of this book.  The illustrations depict some kind of crazy Jell-O themed costume party attended by Weebles.

My personal favorite is the male ice cream cone who is really getting down.  I wonder what song is playing?  I'm also pretty excited about the person with the giant donut/bundt cake hat with the circus animals stuck into the top while brown stuff drips down the sides of the hat.

Toot, toot!  All aboard the "Gelatin Express!"  What is with this book?  It goes from the Jell-O costume party to the "Gelatin Express" in the space of two pages.

My best guess is that whoever put this together in 1977, perhaps Marvello himself, was not only high on life, but also on something else.  I suppose you'd have to be if your job was to create an entire cookbook of Jell-O recipes with a "magic" theme.  I'm posting this book on and I cannot wait for a Fandra (a fan of Sandra Lee) to snap it up so that I will have enough credits to get a copy of War and Peace.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Reminiscing: The Ground Meat Cookbook

As promised, I am bringing some "intriguing ground meat recipes" to you, my gentle readers.

I'm not sure that "intriguing" is a word that I would use to describe food, but maybe it had a different connotation in 1955?

Whoever put this cookbook together either had zero knowledge of how actual animals live or had a strange sense of humor.  Check out the cow having a photo shoot right at the beginning of this book:

As I glanced at this page, the word "oozing" jumped out at me.  Yes, there are times when this word is appropriately used to describe food, but I don't care for ground meat that "oozes."  "Quiz an American on his food preferences and you will uncover a devotee of hamburger, a lover of succulent ground meat oozing in a bun."  Whoever wrote this has a way with words, that's for sure.

If you aren't "intrigued" by the meatball Rockettes at the top of this page, then perhaps you will be interested in one of the many "intriguing" recipes below.  [BTW, I'm going to start using the word "intriguing" like Dave Barry uses the word "dynamic."]  

"Little Sausage Balls" and "Liver Dumplings" here I come...

For Leah:

Also for Leah, "Pork 'n' Apple Balls with Noodles" (two of your favorite words) and for everyone else who has been searching for years for an intriguing recipe for "Heart Patties with Gravy," look no further.

So here's an example of the disturbing illustrations in this book.  This page is all about lamb recipes, so the illustration includes lambs.  I get it so far.  Why is one of the lambs wearing underpants and why is one holding a parasol?  I sort of get the impression that they are going for a circus theme here, but besides the one with the ring, how are the other two related to anything that you see in the circus?

Also, "Frosted Lamb Loaf?"

I wonder how many recipes for "jellied loaves" there are from this period?  None of them look good and none of them sound good.  Why would you waste good veal on some horrible gelatin creation?

Also, I could not help but gape in horror at the photo of the ham loaf served with coffee...

Again, with the strange illustrations.  This page includes recipes for "Liver Loaf," "Ham Ring," and "Ham Mousse."  Aren't those mice?  How do they have anything to do with the food on this page?  Are they the only creatures who will eat this stuff?

There are no words...  This reminds me of the caperberry gravy that Bridget Jones made for her birthday dinner.

This may be the most disturbing of all of the illustrations.  A horse, a cow, and a pig standing in front of an oven, enjoying the scent of ground meat cooking?  Horses and pigs have been known to eat meat, I'll give them that.  Cows do not eat meat.  Cows, therefore, do not not eat ground beef.  Why, then, is this cow depicted with its eyes closed in bliss while it's friend sizzles away in the oven?  And how insensitive are the horse and the pig in this situation?

Finally, I leave you with an "intriguing" recipe for "Tongue Souffle:"

Keep coming back for more--I've promised clowns peddling Jell-O and I will deliver!