Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Butterscotch Bars

Jane and I were at Mom’s last week and prepared a supper for all of us. We decided we needed something for dessert, and the discussion turned to brownies vs. bar cookies. Jane remembered a recipe from Aunt Agnes in the family cookbook that she had made. I immediately knew which one she was thinking of: The one that she could prepare quickly after work. We dug out the recipe and perused the ingredients. We needed to buy eggs, but all of the other ingredients were available in the house. We found a stick of margarine in the freezer, and that started the first of many wrangles: Should we set the margarine out while we went to the store for eggs or leave it in the freezer? Jane: “It’s going to be melted anyway.” But my superior judgment prevailed, and the margarine was left out.
First step was melting the margarine and adding the brown sugar. “Be sure to pack the brown sugar while you’re measuring.” “Of course, I will, you moron. I know how to measure brown sugar.” That led to a debate of how long and how much the ingredients should “bubble” over the burner. I stirred the bubbling concoction with a metal spoon. And the bickering continued: “You’ll burn yourself when the heat radiates up the spoon handle.” “It’s bubbled long enough.” “Has hardly bubbled at all.”
The next step was to remove the melted ingredients and to let it cool slightly. Jane then handed me a rubber spatula to stir in the remaining ingredients. Jane wanted to add mini-M&Ms, but I didn’t want them. I wanted to add coconut – as directed by the recipe – but Jane vetoed that. We did agree to throw in mini-chocolate chips. And we finally compromised by pouring half the mixture into the baking dish, stirring in coconut to the remaining mixture, and pouring the remainder into the dish. One last compromise was to sprinkle mini-M&Ms over the half of the batter that did not contain coconut.
We laughed when we read that Aunt Agnes had said she could whip this dessert up quickly when she got home from work. We think a committee of two sisters arguing over each step of the process couldn’t be responsible for getting any recipe prepared quickly.
With the batter now safely in the baking dish we discovered that the end of the rubber spatula was missing. My goodness! the heat of the bubbling margarine and brown sugar must have melted off the end. Now what?
We did what anyone else intent on eating bar cookies would have done . . . . . we baked the bars.
The bars looked beautiful when they finished baking, and we couldn’t wait to eat them. We did approach the tasting with some trepidation considering the rubber spatula had melted and contaminated our dessert with all manner of rubbery particles. But we persevered, and the bars were delectable.
Later that evening we decided we needed a pick-me-up snack, and in cutting further into the bars, we found the rubber end of the spatula baked into our butterscotch goodness. Jane had a laughing fit that necessitated a fast run to the bathroom so she wouldn’t pee her pants.
Here’s the recipe. Please use the correct utensils when preparing it.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Girls Gone Wild II

Earlier this month, we five sisters celebrated Sister #4's 50th birthday by spending 3 days and 4 nights at her home in eastern Tennessee. We traveled from Illinois and Virginia and invaded. Her husband and son bravely greeted us, then stayed clear of the noise and silliness.

Wednesday, May 4
traveled with Martha and Amy
arrived around 4 p.m. eastern time; Jane already there sipping wine with Susan
supper: home-made lasagna, garden salad, focaccia bread with olive oil and Parmesan cheese, Key lime bars and 7-layer bars

Thursday, May 5 –
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
lunch: Old Mill Pottery House Café & Grille, Pigeon Forge
supper: pasta with tuna salad and/or leftover lasagna
movie: “The King’s Speech”

Friday, May 6
Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Greeneville
lunch: Cracker Barrel
supper: LaParilla Mexican Grille
movie: “Love Actually”

Saturday, May 7
drove around and shopped locally
lunch: Lakeside Tavern
crafting with Susan: mini photo albums
supper: M&M BBQ – pulled pork, chicken legs, green beans, macaroni & cheese, potato salad

Sunday, May 8
breakfast: Pillsbury cinnamon rolls prepared by Jim

Things I learned:
don’t choke your chicken
Jesus is a Cheeto
how to say a Christian prayer in Chinese
tube steak
Amy served a stint in the Navy
galloping consumption
bearded clam
how to plunge a toilet

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Tuna Salad . . . . Two Ways

I prepared another gourmet supper last night: tuna salad.

I made myself a sandwich. When I looked at the amount that was left, I was pleased to see there would be plenty for John’s supper as well as enough to make me a sandwich for lunch today.

Then John made his sandwich for Friday supper . . . . . and used ALL the remaining tuna salad. I told him I hadn’t planned for him to take it all, but go ahead since it looked like that was what he wanted.

John ate his 4-inch thick sandwich with plops of it falling out of the sides.

Half an hour later he ran to the bathroom and barfed it up.

I was left thinking: “There goes my Saturday lunch sandwich a second time.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pothole Time

Winter weather and snowplows create havoc in the roads. Here's how our town handles potholes.

This is a couple blocks north of our house and has been there for at least two months now.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Big Winter Storm

This winter's big snow storm was forewarned the end of January. The meteorologists started telling us about Friday, January 28, that a large storm was forming. Indeed, as it turned out, it impacted about a third of the United States. East central Illinois did not receive the possible 14-inch snow fall. It was more like 6-8 inches. But it was preceeded by freezing rain so conditions were treacherous.

Cold rain and snow began Monday afternoon, January 31. Most schools announced closings that evening, and I was thrilled to hear that the College was one of them. I heard the announcement on the radio as I was trying to fall to sleep. Not trusting that I heard correctly, I got up and watched the scrolling list of closings on the local television station. After seeing the College's name pass by a couple times, I figured it was safe to turn the alarm clock off.

Tuesday morning, February 1, was leisurely. No big snow overnight and traffic on the streets seemed to be traveling at a "normal" pace. But the weather forecasters were still preaching heavy snow and strong winds. Once again schools announced closings for the next day and, again, the College was one of them!

Wednesday proved to be a nasty day. The roads were definitely not to be traveled. Snow plows were making the rounds, but it took several passes before the main streets were plowed curb-to-curb and corners of intersections were cleared so that you didn't have to make what felt like a 90-degree turn.

John and I tackled clearing our driveway after lunch. It was not a simple task. The snow was "crunchy" with a layer of ice beneath. I was assigned with breaking through the snow, and John scooped and moved it away. As we cleared and approached the street, it was daunting to think of having to break through and remove the compacted snow that the plows had left at the end of the driveway.

After an exhausting 3 hours the driveway was cleared. I figure John did about 75% of the work, but that doesn't mean that I didn't have stiff and sore muscles for the next couple days.

Notice the chunks of snow. Click on the picture for a larger image.

Three days later, Saturday morning, February 5, we woke to a steady snowfall. It was quite pretty with a Christmas card-look. You can see in the photo below that our big efforts on Wednesday to clear our driveway were now covered.

The snow stopped after about 4 inches, and after lunch, John and I again shoveled snow. This was an easier snow to clear.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Two weeks later, February 18. What a difference a couple weeks make. With yesterday's temperatures in the mid 60s (after being in the single digits just last week), this is the view in our front yard:

P.S. How many people have a periscope coming out the top of their house??? ;-)