Sunday, December 26, 2010

Lemon Pound Cake Recipe

 Hey, I'm not the Food Maven, okay? So yes I continue to scan my recipes instead of rewriting them. It is sort of for your own good. Haven't we been over my inattention to detail? I'd hate for you to go to all the trouble to make this and have it ruined because I left out some minor tidbit like how much flour or what the oven setting should be (I'm only thinking of you). However, if you really can't read it let me know and I'll bite the bullet and rewrite it just for you.


The basic recipe calls for lemon zest and flavoring, but I have used orange as well and it s equally delicious. I also changed the cup of light whipping cream to 1/3 heavy whipping cream, 1/3 sour cream, and 1/3 milk.

This is one of the lightest cakes I've ever made. The batter is something akin to whipped cream.


Perfect for gift giving.  Friends, neighbors, and coworkers will love you. This cake is delicious all by itself but the light citrus flavors would also be great with a variety of toppings.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Santa, the Pretty Pretty Princess, and Mr. Snarky.

1985 Pretty Pretty Princess(2 wks.)
It became an annual tradition and I was nearly obsessive about it. I was determined for my kids to have their pictures made with Santa EVERY year until they were 18 or so. It sounded so easy in the beginning. You take the baby, and eventually babies, stand in line, plop them on Santa's lap while some teenage girl in an elf costume tries to get them to smile, snap! Pay here.

Here's your photo...


She really wasn't sure about this at all but by the following year she had made up her mind.


She was terrified of Santa.

Well, the costume is a really bad one, I'll admit. I finally had to tell the photo elf to just take the picture screams and all.

A year later she had discovered HE BRINGS PRESENTS! Well NOW we are talking.

I'm thinking this was a My Pretty Pony, Cherry Merry Muffin, Care Bear discussion...




Around this time she realized the whole Santa visit was also a photo op.




Now she's just working us...and Santa.

She is still VERY good at this. 

Oh.

Sharing the spotlight.

Bummer.

Well he can't ask for much, right? 


This was the year we discovered a nearly authentic version of Santa. He even had me fooled.

This is my all time favorite.

So precious.

Pigtails.

I miss that.



The haughty Mr. Snarky made his first holiday appearance in '93.

His expression sums up his whole attitude.

You gotta problem with that?
 While waiting in a long line for our chance to visit with Mr. Claus Mr. Snarky disappeared. Two parents and two grandparents were looking frantically for him when we heard a man yell "HEY! That's not my kid!" My husband and I exchanged glances that said "No. He would be ours." There he was, sitting on SC's lap with another boy. When we asked him why he cut in line he just said "He's right there, why are we standing around?"


1996

A couple of years came off without a hitch and the kids looked forward to it.
 
This was the year the malls discovered if they took real photos instead of Polaroids they could charge fifteen dollars instead of two.

The princess is in the braces years, Mr. Snarky is in the full throes of Legomania (symptoms include a crazed facial expression whenever the toy is discussed).




Time just kept marching on...


and on...


The kids got older, the lists got longer, the Santas got better and the photos got more expensive. 
We had just returned from London, where I had wanted to have the Santa photo made but was informed that the kids would have to STAND next to Father Christmas as sitting on his lap was considered...sort of suggestive.

Oh heaven help me, are they kidding?



We all especially love this one of Mr. Snarky...

He recovered nicely the next year from whatever was wrong with him, part of which was probably my decision to let him wear whatever he wanted. Clearly, in this picture his sister and I had laid down the fashion law.

The photo above was the last year I insisted they get the photo made.

The next two years they missed doing it so much that the following year they went and secretly had it made, framed it and gave it to me for Christmas. There was almost a tear.

Almost.

2006

                  So that was it...the LAST Santa photo.

Not to say there are not new kinds of Christmas photos...

My daughter is engaged and so her holiday photo this year with her intended came out like this. Okay, this is the one I liked, but they actually chose another one for their official Christmas photo.


I'm thinking at some point in the future the process is going to start all over again...

           This is the last post until after the holiday.

 "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."

                Merry Christmas!















Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Frenzy in Dixie

I have no one but myself to blame. 

Less than a week until Christmas, what have I been DOING?

I can tell you what I HAVEN'T been doing; baking, writing Christmas cards, shopping, watching holiday movies, and anything else that I suddenly realize with 6 days to go, should be done... NOW if it is going to get done at all. 

I HAVE been making time to be with people I care about, making myself available for my daughter's wedding related activities (very important stuff), and pretty much pretending that Christmas isn't just around the corner.

Now...it's time to pay the eleven pipers piping.

Is anyone else addicted to that adrenaline rush that happens when it looks like you might not make it?

I should be finished and have my feet up in front of the fire watching Christmas in Connecticut but I'll admit to being in a bit of Christmas rebellion. When the decorations arrive in stores in August and the carols are heard immediately after Halloween, I work hard to ignore it.

I've been a major success.

What am I serving on Christmas Eve? No idea.

What am I having for Christmas Day brunch? Beats me.

This is however, where many previous years of scrupulous planning come into play. Because I have...

The Binder.




It will save me. It contains every holiday menu I've served over the last 15 yrs. or so along with a master shopping list in a plastic sleeve to be marked off with a dry erase marker. It has lists of every present ever given, received, or contemplated along with receipts and price lists. It contains articles about holiday decor ideas from magazines and books along with photos of decorations I've used in the past, themes, instructions, etc.

It contains more ideas than I could get to in 50 holiday seasons. Asian themed Christmas...got it. Directions for making silhouette plates of pets for gifts...check. Web addresses for ordering personalized gift wrap...yep.

But at this point if I get out a few cards, finish my shopping, and make everyone feel welcome in my home while we sit next to the fire eating pumpkin pie, I'll consider it a blazing ;) success.

I killed off my perfection driven demons years ago and I don't miss them.

Neither does anyone else.

The documentation of those years is about to come in very handy though!

Time to "git r done"...

I cannot believe I just wrote that. It cannot be a good sign.

Merry Christmas, Y'all!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Southern Lit Field Trip, Y'all!

Isn't her hat cute?
Nobody loves a field trip like two blogging former home school moms. While I was staying with The Food Maven last week I heard her talking on the phone to her daughter.

"And you didn't invite US?"

This is code for "We are officially inviting ourselves." Her daughter had been assigned a trip to Flannery O'Connor's childhood home by her English professor during finals week.

"We'll meet you there!"

We showed up and met FM's daughter and friend and we proceeded to be those horrible middle aged women that my daughter used to complain about in her college classes.

"Oh my gosh! They are so annoying, they ask all these questions and keep us there so long because they just appreciate their educational experience SOOOO much."

Yep. That's us!

We apologize again for all our shortcomings.




 Naturally neither The Food Maven nor I could resist purchasing an award winning book of her letters. You know how I feel about those.

Here's a little tour.




 Fireplace in the parlor with family pictures displayed above.





A simple but bright and charming kitchen. The O'Connor home is the only museum home in Savannah restored to it's original depression era style.


Door to the back yard where young Mary Flannery kept chickens and gained notoriety as a little girl for training them to walk backwards.



 


 



Mary Flannery's bedroom
           and the home's one bath.












Mary was a critic early on and some of her books include inscriptions voicing her opinions as early as age six, about the time she began calling her parents by their first names. In this photo she looks unimpressed with whatever book she is reading.






Of Alice in Wonderland she wrote:
"Awful. I wouldn't read this book."

This is the worst book I ever read next to “Pinnochio” was her comment on Georgiana Finds Herself.

She led a fairly simple life much complicated by the disease lupus which caused her untimely death at age 39.


There won't be any biographies of me because, for only one reason, lives spent between the house and the chicken yard do not make exciting copy. Flannery O'Connor

I think Ms. O'Connor would be very surprised indeed to see that not only are there biographies of her, but she still has fans and is considered a great treasure of Southern literature. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It Was Pretty Ugly (So Was I)

I should preface this post by saying that I'm generally very easy going. I don't have the emotional energy most days to spend on trivial things that won't matter in the long run. However every once in a while, something pushes me just over the edge...

I've been having a problem with my cell phone company. Long story, short, they needed to remove a charge for a service I no longer have.  It went kind of like this:

I go into the store: "Sorry, ma'am you have to call customer   service to get that removed."

I call customer service: "Sorry ma'am, you have to go into the store to get that removed."

Which then became: "You have to upgrade to get that removed."

All of which I did. Then the bill came. There it was.

Back to the store: "It won't let me take it off, you'll have to...(you know where we're headed, right?)

I decided to call customer service WHILE I WAS IN THE STORE.  You probably would have thought of that before.

And then I got...Nancy. Nancy did not want to help me. Nancy could not even feign concern over my problem. Really? If you are going to (you know the word I want to use here but this is a PG blog) me, at least pretend like you care for the 5 minutes or so it's going to take. Nancy was unfamiliar with this concept.

I told her in no uncertain terms what I thought of her customer service skills, several people came into the store and quickly exited during my tirade. All the while the poor in store person, Alan is cringing and apologizing profusely. But he is very interested in helping me. Which he does, it takes him an hour on the phone with someone who is actually interested in keeping my business. While he is waiting on them to check what can be done, I review reasons why Nancy might be a...well, you know. Maybe her dog died, maybe her husband left her, maybe she has really bad PMS, or just needs therapy.

After a ridiculous amount of time spent on something that the company could have fixed in a matter of moments if they cared more about customer satisfaction than their company policies, they solved my problem.

And Alan? I took Alan a big platter of ribs and wings in appreciation for his help, and wrote the company a letter letting them know what a trooper he was.

The concept of customer service isn't all that difficult. I'm the customer. I have a problem. I want you to fix it and be nice while you are doing it. If there is truly nothing that can be done (which I doubt) tell me how sorry you are.

Don't take no from someone who doesn't have the power to say yes.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Where Would I Wear It?

So symbolic.


I love this. I want it. It's calling my name. 

It might look a bit out of place on the cereal aisle at Walmart. 

What can I say? 

Some feminine fantasies die hard.

It IS my birthday...so just in case you were unsure of what to get me...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Presto Change-o ! Instant Christmas!

We've just come through that magical weekend when we turn off the candlelit, glow of Autumn, with her quiet dignity and turn on the flashing multi-colored production that is Christmas.
The tree needs...something. Last year we were going to be out of town from Christmas day to New Years coming and going through New Orleans so  we put up the tree tossed some Mardi Gras beads at it and feather boas. We didn't bother getting out all the sentimental ornaments.
I thought it looked like a stripper tree (it did seem excessively east to UNdecorate).

My daughter looked at the tree this morning. "Put the Mardi Gras beads on it."

So I did.

Much better!

Disclaimer: No trees were flashed in the making of this holiday decor. ;)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ginger Winter Squash Soup

Ingredients: 

2 Squash, 1 acorn, 1 butternut (baked in halves until tender)
1/4 C. butter
1 onion, diced
8 C. chicken stock
1 tsp. fresh ginger
2 carrots 

2 TB brown sugar                          
salt to taste


An ice cream scoop is perfect for removing the roasted squash from the skin.




 Beautiful & healthy acorn and butternut squash!




Saute onion and carrots in butter, add to stock pot along with other ingredients.




Use only fresh ginger.

 Peel and chop a tablespoon.





Bring to low boil then reduce and simmer for 30 minutes. Ladle soup into blender and puree in small portions.

Serve topped with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Traditional Southern Coconut Cream Pie

This is a Thanksgiving staple at our house and my daughter's favorite pie. It's full of fat and calories so plan on getting in an extra walk or two around the holidays. It's the real deal from scratch but very worth the effort. 

Ingredients:

1/2 C. sugar
4 TB cornstarch
1/4 ts. salt
2 1/2 C. scalded milk
4 egg yolks
1 ts. vanilla
1 1/2C. flaked coconut
2 ts. conf. sugar
1 TB butter
1 C. heavy whipping cream

Directions:

In the top of a double boiler mix: sugar, cornstarch, salt. Stir in milk until smooth. Cook over med. heat until mixture thickens. Stirring constantly. (I like to use a whisk for this.














Beat 4 egg yolks and add 4 TB of hot mixture, whisking til blended. ( what is tempering?)





Then add egg mixture to milk mixture.




Cook and stir until smooth and thick.






Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, 1 C. coconut, and butter.






Stir and pour into prepared pie shell.





Whip cream with conf. sugar, spread over filling.

Top with toasted coconut. (click here for how to toast coconut)

Chill.

Call in the refill on your cholesterol medicine. :)