Friday, June 29, 2012

Date and Nut Cake

We had beans, squash, onions, and cukes for dinner last night from our garden. I can't believe that I had to haul off over 20 overgrown zukes and cukes and yellow squashes yesterday. Now maybe the plants will produce again. We are still waiting for the tomatoes to ripen. Some of them are huge!

Have you checked out my Pinterest pins lately? I can't believe I am still finding good recipes and ideas.

The house is waiting for a good dust and vacuum, but now back to the cake recipes from Just Plain Cooking by Memaw:

Date and Nut Cake (Memaw's)

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter or shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup finely cut dates
1/3 to 1/2 cup orange juice

Sift together first four ingredients.
Cream butter and blend in sugar. Add eggs one at a time and heat until light and fluffy. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk. Blend thoroughly. Fold in orange rind, nuts, and dates.
Pour into greased 9 inch tube pan and bake in a moderately slow oven at 325 degrees F for about an hour.
Immediately upon removing from the oven, pour orange juice over cake. Let stand 10 minutes and remove from pan.
Decorate, if desired.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Orange Dog

Although our dog is a lemon beagle (tan and white), this morning he was orange. Our pond has just enough muddy water in it that Flip loves it as a wading pool. I didn't count how many times he waded this morning before 10:00 am, but when I finished my gardening I washed off the orange mud pack. He did not even protest or fight me, and he willingly surrendered to the towel before coming into the house. The temps are so hot that he is curled up in his bed inside and sound asleep.

And Chandler is a male dog, so phew! They just play a little strangely!

I still need to get back to cake recipes, but that will be another day.

I did try out another cake mix experiment last evening. I added 1 cup homemade Greek yoghurt to a devil's food cake mix and one cup of water. Then I mixed and baked it in a lasagne pan for about 35 minutes until the center was done. The cake has great texture, but it is definitely not sweet. Nor is it sour like yoghurt. With a good sweet icing it should be great. We snacked on plain cake, and I froze the rest for another day. It is bound to be healthier than one with eggs and oil, don't you think?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Up Too Early

We jumped right out of bed when Flip came in to wake us this morning, so that we could spread the mulch. I know, what idiots! But as the temperatures have been so hot later on in the daytime, we took advantage of the 20 degree Celsius temperature and got that work done. Most of the time I think gardening is not really work, but in the heat anything is WORK. Today I used the weed cutting machines around all the agaves and little trees and bushes, and my hub shoveled the mulch. Then he went inside, and I watered all the plants outside. Now to do a rain dance so I won't have to do that for a few days.

This morning while Hub was giving a live oak (that we want to keep alive!) a drink of water, he saw our beagle being friendly with the neighbor's dog. Actually it is the neighbor's son's dog that is visiting for the summer, and I am not sure if Chandler is male or female. Sooooooo. That means I will need to let the neighbors know that we think Flip has found a girl friend. Or he has interests that some folks in the US do not want to talk about, when it comes to humans, that is. LOL

Maybe you think I have forgotten the recipes from Just Plain Cooking, but I will get back to that soon. First I have to make sure my yard and house are in order.

I am still waiting for a nice slice of yellow watermelon. Wonder if the melon farmer out on the main road has some good ones this year? We aren't Sugartown, but we are close.
(The photo above of the yellow watermelon is from two years ago when I first began writing weekly letters to Oma in The Netherlands. The melon was delivered to me by our melon growing neighbor.)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dog Days of Summer

Before our dog found us, I thought I knew the meaning of "dog days of summer." Lazy days of doing nothing and trying to stay cool. The last couple of days have been hot, and Flip and the rest of us have tried to stay cool and hydrated.

Friday we went up to Spring to check out The Little Dutch Girl shop. That whole little shopping village is amazing. I had no earthly idea what to expect. The shop itself was sort of a disappointment. Now I know why the owner's fudge is the best seller. My hub got some Dutch licorice (Drop) and a couple of other food items, but I prefer doing my Dutch shopping in The Netherlands.

After visiting the Dutch shop we headed over to the Woof Bakery where I splurged on a couple of homemade (in the shop) doggy cookies for Flip and a sign for our gate. The owners were convinced that our pup is a full blooded beagle, so we will agree and not make any guesses of his background anymore. We are just still amazed that he was "dropped" on our doorstep almost 1 1/2 years ago. He keeps us walking every evening ( and me also every morning). So he is good for something. HaHa.

We have enjoyed our long weekend with our orchid growing son. (Check out my Pinterest Master Gardening board for a photo of his beautiful orchid. If I can figure out how to add the photo here, I will do it.) He is probably ready to send us home, since we made a pretty good mess of his clean house. But we have enjoyed the time together.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Warm Donuts

Two warm glazed donuts and one richly chocolate filled donut! That is what I treated myself to on my birthday today. We are at our son's home in the big, big city, and after taking Flip on his early, early morning walk, he and I drove a short shady distance to get fresh donuts. Yummy!

For a while back in the 70's I lived across the street from a donut shop. That is when I learned to like the chocolate filled donuts from Shipley's. They still taste the same as back then. But this morning I could not resist the still warm plain glazed donuts sweating in the closed box, so I tried out those, too. They were better than the 5 cent donuts we used to buy after Sunday School back in the 50's and 60's.

So if your math is any good, you have figured out that I am a Baby Boomer. One year to go before I reach retirement. HA HA, I stopped working paying jobs a few years ago! Retire can mean to withdraw or even to go to bed, and I haven't done much of either of those since stopping "work." Let's just say that I work when I want to work. No real rules or guidelines. No punching the clock or following dress codes. Just doing what needs to be done and what I want to do.

So when the guys are awake, I will sit down with them and have breakfast. Donuts, of course!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Flapper Dayz

Recently my hub's cousin in The Netherlands sent us this really old silent movie from Just click on this:

If you have a chance, take a look. It is of the main shopping street of Hengelo, The Netherlands in 1923.

My mother-in-law's family had two shops on that street. The first shop you see is a butcher shop. That was run by her oldest sister and brother-in-law. You can see her sister standing in the window.

Later on around 9 minutes or so, you can see a green grocer (veggies), and that was owned and run by my mother-in-law's mother and father. Her mother was an independent lady in the time, since she visited the vegetable auctions several times a week and did the buying for the shop.

The truck that you see around this time in the movie was their truck and driven by Oma's brother.

If we had just gotten this a little over a year ago, she could have told us everything about this movie. But I understand that the movie wasn't even released until January 2012.

It is a silly movie, but great to see what shopping was like when Oma was around 8 years old. (She passed away last May 2011 at the age of 96.) We looked at the movie numerous times hoping to see a little Oma running down the street. No luck! Enjoy.

Amazin' Raisin Cake

Taking liberties to change the name of a recipe from Just Plain Cooking is not what I am inclined to do. But today's cake title just needed a little tweaking. I am sure it is obvious what I did to the name. Bake and enjoy, whatever you call it.

Amazin' Raisin Cake (Memaw's)

3 cups unsifted flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup Hellman's Mayonnaise
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cloves
3 cups chopped apples
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Grease and flour 2 (9 inch) round baking pans.
In large bowl with mixer at low speed, beat first 10 ingredients for 2 minutes, scraping bowl frequently. (Or beat vigorously 300 strokes by hand.)
Batter will be thick. Stir in with spoon the apples, raisins, and nuts.
Spoon batter into pans.
Bake in 350 degrees F oven for 45 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove and cool.
Fill and frost with 2 cups of whipped cream.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pulling Weeds

While I pull weeds I write long editorials and lots of blogs. In my head, of course. Then when I come inside to my iPad I have forgotten what I "wrote." Maybe that is for the best, since some things I write are of no interest to anyone else, or none of their business!

We are trying to make a little, low hedge of boxwoods out front, and this morning early I was weeding out our new "babies." A handful had not survived the transplanting, so I shoved a few new cuttings in their places that had been surviving in a large flower box. I didn't see any new roots on the cuttings, but after over a month they are still green and even getting new leaves. So fingers crossed that this will work.

Actually I have been doing some type of gardening since I was 13 years old. When I was in the 8th grade I realized that if I wanted to have my own spending money, then I was going to have to earn it. I once tried washing the outside of our windows for my mom, but at a penny a pane that did not gather much money. I only worked outside with the hose, and it was hot summer. So actually it wasn't that bad, but I didn't get rich.

As for the gardening, I started out by mowing and trimming our neighbor's lawn every week. At that time their yard seemed huge, but we drove by there last week and saw just how small all of the yards are. Anyway, I remember having to ask my mom to pull the string to start our mower. I was so skinny and weak that I couldn't even do that. That must have been annoying for her to have to leave whatever she was doing to pull the cord.

Then I would mow the front and backyard and edge along the curb with a push edger. (No weed eaters then.) On the rare occasion, I would hand weed around the stepping stones up to the front porch. That would have been a cinch with the tools we have today. Somehow I remember that I made $2.00 ( not per hour!) to do the entire mowing job. I was as happy as a clam! Money in my purse for a trip to the movie or to save up for a new pair of shoes from Baker's Shoe Store.

I wonder if I was "writing" in my head while I cut and weeded back then. I don't remember if I was.

Monday, June 18, 2012

German Apple Cake

Here is the cake recipe that I promised. You decide whether it is Dutch or German.

German Apple Cake ( Memaw's)

5 cooking apples
5 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons soft butter or oleo ( margarine)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons water

Grease and flour 10 inch tube pan.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Peel and thinly slice apples. In a bowl, toss apple slices with 5 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, salt, eggs, oil, vanilla, orange juice, baking powder, and soda. Blend one minute with electric mixer at low speed. Clean sides of bowl, increase speed to medium, and blend 3 minutes. Dough will be very thick.
Fill prepared pan with alternate layers of batter and apples. (3 layers batter and 2 layers apples) Start and finish with batter.
Bake 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours or until tester comes out clean.
Cool 10 minutes in pan. Remove from pan and cool completely.

Make glaze--Mix confectioners sugar, butter, vanilla, and water until smooth. Drizzle over cooked cake.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dutch or German?

The Dutch soccer team unfortunately lost to Germany on Wednesday, but they are still playing a game against Portugal in a couple of hours from now.

My hub is definitely not a sports fan, but he is a true red, white, and blue Dutchman. He will be glued to the television for every last drop of that game today. Actually that makes him more like his mom than his dad. She always liked a good "voetbal wedstrijd" and watched it from very close to the television. I think my father-in-law was just there beside her for the companionship.

As I am definitely not interested in soccer or "voetbal" at any time, let's jump back to the Dutch and German relationship. For the almost 30 years of traveling to and from the Netherlands with my Nederlandse hub, airline personnel thought I was Dutch and he was German. We laughed, but I don't think he thought that was so funny. The Dutch are proud "Volk" and being confused with a "Duitser" is a "no no."

So my question is who in the world started calling Nederlanders the Dutch? Even Hollanders would have been closer to the truth, even though my hub's family weren't Hollanders. They originated from provinces (states) in eastern The Netherlands near the German border. Confused yet?

While listening to the national anthem of The Netherlands on Wednesday, my hub was annoyed at the references to Germany and Spain in the lyrics. Now who pays attention to that, except him? Actually maybe someone should write new and appropriate lyrics to such an important anthem. I will leave that to someone else. Have you ever read my Nederlands? But I do better than Google translation!

I digress. Someone, probably an American, heard Deutschland (German for the country Germany) and confused the inhabitants with the Dutch (or Nederlanders), and now we are all confused! In Pennsylvania, a group of people are called the Pennsylvania Dutch, when in fact they are actually Pennsylvania Deutsch (German). Or did their ancestors really come from Switzerland? I Give Up!

Last week at my Master Gardening class a classmate referred to my life in Sweden. Now how did she come up with that country? Please don't let her read this blog! She will never figure it out.

German Apple Cake recipe tomorrow. Wonder if it is from the Deutsch or the Dutch? He He! LOL

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Preaching to the Choir

The expression "Preaching to the Choir" is not as old as you think. Its use was first recorded in the 1970's.

That is back when I remember big evangelical ministers traveling around "sharing the gospel." That is also the time when Saturday Night Fever and disco dancing were the rage. For me anyway, but I was usually in church on Sunday morning.

I remember Dad's warning about discussing religion, but that was with family or friends. Or was it with anyone? Oh well, I haven't always kept his rules. So here goes.

Yesterday we went to Mom's doctor's appointment and got a sermon in the waiting room, whether we wanted it or not. There was a rotund dark gentleman in short pants with beringed fingers sermonizing the entire time while we were sitting there. At first I did not recognize him as a preacher (because of his attire!), but when he got louder and kept spouting scripture and verse, there was no doubt. This guy had a pulpit somewhere. At that moment, it was in the virtually empty doctor's office.

He had met one of his former work colleagues out in the parking lot, and I assume he was trying to witness to him. Oooor, maybe he was aiming at the two elderly white ladies sitting by the door (Mom and me). In any case, I believe he was "preaching to the choir." Neither his former colleague nor Mom nor I looked nor acted like we were doomed to you know where. I have never seen or heard anyone so "full of himself."

Maybe he was "preaching to the preacher"! Enough said.....

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fresh Apple Cake

It seems like for many Christmases Memaw had a baking repertoire of cakes, pies, and candies. I remember fresh apple cake as a member of that repertoire. Here is her recipe from Just Plain Cooking.

Fresh Apple Cake (Memaw's)

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup pecans
3 cups chopped apples

Chop pecans and apples.
Sift together all dry ingredients with the exception of the sugar.
Add oil and vanilla to dry ingredients and beat until it forms a very smooth batter.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until thick and foamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until well blended.
Fold the eggs and sugar mixture thoroughly into the flour mixture. Add chopped pecans and apples.
Pour into tube cake pan ( greased and coated with flour) and bake for one hour at 350 degrees F. Remove from oven and let cake remain in pan for 15 minutes. Then cool on wire rack.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Not the Cake Boss

I still think it is hilarious that I am publishing my mom's tried and true recipes in this blog, since I hate cooking.

Since I stopped teaching, I also am amazed at how much time I spend in the kitchen "piddling" around with food. Sometimes I do that instead of cleaning or weeding, so maybe it is just a place to escape what I really should be doing.

I have picked up a few kitchen techniques while "piddling" and cooking. For one thing, I use more silicone ware than most folks I know. I do not remember the last time I baked cookies on a bare cookie sheet. My silicone sheet pad is easy to use and to clean. The cupcake cups and muffin pan are also real scrubbing savers. And I hate paper cupcake cups, so that solves that. My silicone cake pan is great, but I have only one of those! The red loaf pans are the "bomb." Couldn't do without them. So I am a silicone baker, to say the least(or most.)

Yes, baking is sometimes more fun than ordinary cooking. And I am always looking for new baking ideas. A couple of weeks ago, I added a box of chocolate pudding mix to a red velvet cake mix. The result was very good, so last week I added a box of vanilla pudding mix to a butter cake mix. The result was a better vanilla taste and a bit denser. Not quite like pound cake, but better. I baked it in a long loaf pan until I was sure that the middle was done. That was a little beyond the baking time on the box, but I used a wooden toothpick to check the doneness. Even my "I don't like American cakes" hub liked this cake. And he didn't even choose to add icing to his piece.

My next cake endeavor will be to add pistachio pudding mix to a cake mix. I haven't decided which one yet. So far I have just added the dry pudding mix and kept the same boxed cake mix ingredients. No extra anything else! I notice on the Internet that bakers suggest adding extra eggs, etc., but for the time being I am sticking with just adding the dry pudding. I will keep you informed of my next cake bake-off.

No recipes from Just Plain Cooking today. The adding pudding was my one cake secret! Rumor has it that you should not add dry pudding to a boxed cake mix that already has pudding in it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

And that is how the cookie crumbles!

Here are the last two cookie recipes from Just Plain Cooking. We still have cakes and pies to go, and I have a great easy cake secret to share, too. But first the more lasses cookies:

Molasses Sugar Cookies (Memaw's)

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt shortening over low heat. Remove from heat and let cool.
Add sugar, molasses, and egg. Beat well.
Sift together flour, soda, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Add to first mixture. Mix well. Chill. Form into 1 inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar and place on greased cookie sheet two inches apart.
Bake in moderately hot oven 375 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes.

Spice - Molasses Cookies (Memaw's)

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice

Cream shortening. Gradually add sugar, beating well at medium speed of an electric mixer.
Add egg and molasses. Mix well.
Combine flour and next 8 ingredients. Mix well.
Add about 1/4 of flour mixture at a time to creamed mixture, beating until smooth after each addition.
Chill dough 1 hour. Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 9 to 11 minutes (tops will crack). Cool on wire rack.
Yields 4 dozen cookies.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Christmas Gifts for Students

My first few years of teaching are really a big blur in my memory. I still say that before taking Madilyn Hunter type courses I am pretty sure I did not teach very much. So that means from 1970-1986 I must have been doing a pretty good job of babysitting. And to get the good salary that I did after I started teaching in The Netherlands, I didn't do so badly!

I always "treated" and spoiled my students with sweets. Back in the really early years, I made cookies for them. My last Christmas in Alex, I made spritz cookies for the kids. My mom had a little apparatus for making them, and we iced and decorated the cookies. (I think I also made felt bookworm bookmarks for the students, but that was a disappointment when the kid on the front row ripped his into two pieces before I had even distributed them all. Maybe that is why I hate bookmarks!)

Here is Memaw's recipe for spritz cookies. Wonder if she still has the little spritz press?

Butter Rich Spritz (Memaw's)

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 egg yolks or 1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Sift together flour and salt. Cream butter and sugar. Blend in eggs, almond extract, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients gradually. Mix thoroughly.
Press a small amount of dough through a cookie press onto ungreased cookie sheet, using any design plate to make desired shape.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 6 to 8 minutes.

For Christmas cookies: Add a few drops of red or green food coloring and make wreaths, bells, and Christmas trees.

(We are down to the last two cookie recipes. Get out the molasses for tomorrow's recipes.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

In a Sauna

I remember going into a sauna once in my life. I had just met my future hub, and he took me there. I remember that I could hardly breathe and left there almost immediately.

Well, yesterday while outside smashing caterpillars that were eating on my tomato plants, I had the same feeling. The earth was so humid from the heat and the 4 inch rain that we had that the feeling was like a sauna. Later in the day I tried to give some water to my geraniums in the protected window boxes, and I had the same feeling.

Although our pond is slowly filling, I really do not like this humidity. And now the grass and weeds have gotten a boost, so the trim work will be back in business. Complaining? Well, maybe.

So let's think about something yummy.

Our beagle loves to snack, and so do I. Actually he and I have similar tastes, except I don't eat dog biscuits! But we do both eat peanut butter. His favorite treat is peanut butter on vanilla wafers. I have learned to cut the wafers into two pieces, since he can get choked trying to swallow the whole thing. He is really funny when the PB gets stuck in his mouth. But he loves it. And so do I. Here is another PB cookie recipe:

Peanut Butter Cookies (Memaw's)

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup soft butter or margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift dry ingredients together. Set aside.
Cream butter, sugar, peanut butter, eggs, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to creamy mixture. Mix well.
Roll about 2 teaspoons of mixture into a ball. Place on greased cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork dipped in flour.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes or until brown.
Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Let's Make a Date (cookie, that is!)

While eating my homemade Greek yoghurt ( yes, I am still making that each week) and muesli this morning, I noticed bits of dates in the cereal. Yummy! So I have a couple of date cookie recipes from Just Plain Cooking for you today.

Date Nut Crunches (Memaw's)

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups oatmeal
1 1/2 cups chopped dates
1 cup chopped nuts

Combine shortening, sugar, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.
Sift together flour, soda, and salt and blend into creamy mixture.
Stir in oatmeal, dates, and nuts.
Chill dough for 1 to 2 hours.
Roll dough into balls about the size of a walnut. Place balls on greased baking sheet. Flatten with bottom of glass dipped in flour.
Bake in 375 degrees F oven for 10 - 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Date Squares (Memaw's)

2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped nuts
2 cups finely chopped dates

Beat eggs until foamy. Stir sugar and vanilla into eggs.
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together and combine with sugar and egg mixture.
Mix in nuts and dates.
Pour mixture into well-greased 8 x 8 x 2 inch pan.
Bake in 325 degree F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until done and top has a "dark?dull?dual?"crust.
Cut into squares while still warm. Cool and remove from pan.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

(I still have plenty of silicone baking goods to use as prizes for those who can help me transcribe these recipes. Did Memaw mean dark, dull, dual, or whatever in the above recipe when referring to the crust? I can't make out what she means. And, yes, you can phone or email her for the verification. Just let me know so that I can correct this ambiguity.)

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Charity Shop in the Country

Not only do we have a Dollar General Store out here in the country, but this week a Catholic charity shop opened in a deserted Catholic church. Since I can easily become addicted to visiting charity shops, I had to see what they had to offer. So after cleaning my last porch this morning, the three of us drove over to the repurposed Catholic church.

There wasn't much there yet, but the lady said the main store "downtown" (lol) was getting too full, so they decided to open this shop. I found a much needed skein of brown cotton wool for making crocheted washcloths, an ironing board cover ( my old one is as flat as a board), a 1978 amber Aunt Jemima bottle, and my hub found a Tom Clancey book. We spent less than 2 dollars, and I plan to return someday to take them some donations and of course to shop! Fun in small town America!

While the guys nap and the thunder roars, here is a recipe for Butterscotch Cookies from Just Plain Cooking:

Butterscotch Cookies (Memaw's)

1/2 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate bits

Melt butter and sugar and let cool.
Add eggs, flour, baking powder, and vanilla and beat well.
Add nuts and chocolate bits.
Bake in square pan 275 degrees F for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with confectioners sugar. Cut in squares.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Happy 32nd Anniversary!

Who are these thin, attractive young people?

Thirty-two years ago today we were married in The Netherlands. We rode to the ceremony in our 1928 Fiat in the misty rain.

My mom and dad were able to attend the wedding, and Dad was one of our three witnesses (J. and A. were the other two).

Mom was looking really beautiful and had her ringed fingers crushed by the Dutch farmers and their wives who pumped her hand in our receiving line. (They don't do that at weddings here anymore! Receiving lines, I mean.)

As this was Mom and Dad's first time to visit Europe, they tagged along on our honeymoon. From what I can remember, we all had a grand time.

Our delicious wedding cake was made by the local baker who asked if I wanted an American wedding cake. He said that he had made one 10 years before. My answer was NO, and I even ordered extra petit fours to feed the masses. (LOL) The baker told us that he dropped our first cake as he tried to walk it through his door and it slid off the board. So what we got was our second wedding cake! That must be the reason we have had such a good married life!

Although we of course missed having most of my family attending our wedding, we had lots of our friends, colleagues, Dutch family, and my in-law's neighbors help us celebrate under a huge tent in the backyard. I even experienced being lifted high above the crowd and shoved in the direction of my lifted hub for a wedding kiss. I was terrified! (Not of the kiss, but that the lifters might drop me.)

As a kind gesture to all of those who had traveled so far to attend our wedding, we had prepared sandwiches for the travelers. The local neighbors/farmers were the first ones to hit the trays of sandwiches that had not even made it out of the kitchen.

So that is how our life together began on June 7, 1980!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Teaching to the Test (rant)

During my 37 years of teaching, you could have accused me of lots of things, but teaching to the test was not one of them. And in most instances I knew exactly what was on the tests. In some schools, I was on the test committee and either chose the test or made the test. So teaching to the test would have been really easy.

I am amazed that end of year test scores have become so over-emphasized and overrated. What ever happened to teaching the subject matter in the curriculum? If test makers are aware of what is in the curriculum, then the tests should be valid. So teaching to the test is unnecessary, and possibly end of year tests are also superfluous.

Then to think that there are some people who think that teachers should be compensated for their students' scores, which makes me very angry. There are way too many factors that influence student performance on tests. One of the most important ones is "life experience."

At least 10 years ago I served on a test committee in an international school. We were searching for a new test to replace the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. After spending many hours reviewing and viewing several new tests, the committee thought that they had made a decision. As I flipped through the test for Middle Schoolers, I noticed a reoccurring theme that did not fit our school population. On one page of the test there was a large drawing of Jesus Christ and questions concerning something (who knows what it was?). Then I glanced through other sections and found other Christian references. After thorough investigation, we found that this test was made for Christian schools/education. As a Christian, I had no problem with the test, but our international population may have well had a problem with it. So we were going down the wrong track. (Someone in the school system finally chose a test from Australia. Go figure!)

What do tests or questionnaires actually test? As I watched my mom filling out yet another questionnaire at the doctor's office yesterday, I decided that questionnaire makers must get their jollies at confusing the takers. The general instructions were to check off the best answer. I jokingly said "tick off" and explained to Mom that that is what the Brits say. Who ever thought that by the time she finished answering the questions there would be the other meaning for "tick off."

In part one of the survey, she was to check off on a short line next to her answer. Part two was very confusing, since the check had to be placed in a circle, which looked like you were answering zero O on every level of the rating. And then part three used small boxes for the check offs. When Mom was still answering questions beyond her appointment time, I did not rush her too much. Who ever heard of a doctor being on time for your appointment?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sugar Cookies

With a really busy schedule today, believe it or not, all I have time for is the following recipe from Just Plain Cooking:

Sugar Cookies (Memaw's)

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 unbeaten eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/4 cup dates (chopped)
1/3 cup candied cherries (chopped)
1/4 cup chopped nuts

Combine first five ingredients and beat thoroughly.
Sift flour, baking powder, and soda together. Add to sugar mixture and mix well.
Add fruits and nuts and mix well.
Drop by level teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet.
Bake in moderately hot oven 350 degrees F for 14 - 18 minutes.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Icebox Nut Cookies

Today's recipe has nothing to do with cold cookies. The icebox (fridge) is just the place to chill the dough before you slice and bake them. The recipe was probably around before Pillsbury came up with their slice and bake dough. Actually eating the cold raw dough might not be so bad on this hot day in June. Just remember that there is one raw egg, tho'.

Icebox Nut Cookies (Memaw's)

1/2 cup butter or oleo
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Cream butter and add sugar gradually. Add vanilla and unbeaten egg. Beat until well blended.
Sift flour, soda, and salt together. Add nuts. Gradually add to sugar mixture.
Shape into long rolls 2 inches in diameter in waxpaper or plastic wrap. Chill several hours.
Slice and bake on ungreased cookie sheet in hot oven 400 degrees F for about 7 minutes.
Makes about 4 - 5 dozen cookies.

(As an etymology nerd, I love discovering where words in English got their origin. Our word "cookie" came from the Dutch word "koekje.")

Actually it is too hot to bake cookies. When will watermelons be ripe?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Will Our Boxwoods Ever Be So Nice?

This is a photo of our house in The Netherlands. Actually, it is a photo of the front entrance of our house. When we moved there in the late 1980's, there was no front door.

I just wanted you to see our geranium window boxes and our boxwood border. Will our boxwoods that we have planted around the gravel by our front door in the US ever look like this?

I remember planting all of those boxwood plants in The Netherlands. My husband had laboriously set the concrete edges of the driveway in December. The following March he dug all the holes, and I bent down and planted the boxwood plants. I had so much muscle pain the following work day, that I called in sick. I could not get out of bed!

Planting our self-rooted boxwood plants here is almost as difficult. Here our soil is miserable clay, so you have to add soil in each hole so the boxwoods will grow. Last Spring we did a reasonable job of planting, and we still lost two plants. Overwatered? Underwatered? Your guess is as good as mine. This Spring we were too late to add the next self-rooted plants (goal: to get from the entrance to the road). The weather was way too hot, and this time I did not help with watering the holes, etc. My poor hub did the hot work all by himself. We see that we have already lost a few plants, but I am rooting a whole bunch in two big window boxes on the front porch. Next Spring we will be on time.

We have a long way to go to get to the road!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Can You Believe I Missed This?

The meal I missed.

Soon after we moved back to the US, my father-in-law celebrated his 90th birthday by taking a select group of family and friends on a dinner cruise.

My hub and son were able to attend, but I missed this feast.

Every time I see these ornate salad plates, I think about what Opa painstakingly put together for our first meal of every new year. The year that my son was born, my parents were visiting us on the changing of the old and new years. We spent that evening at my in-law's home, and the traditional salad platters were set before us as the first meal of the new year.

My father loved it! Sardines, salmon, potato salad, pickles, etc. were just up his alley!

Many years later in our own little village on the other side of The Netherlands, I was asked to help my neighbor ladies prepare salad platters for our yearly street party. I think they were ready to explain to me how to put mine together, but I had had a good teacher. I just wish I could find the photo of "my platter." Not a bad job, if I say so myself.

Now I have inherited the huge platters. As soon as I get them over here, I plan to fill them up with all kinds of salads.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Recently a friend asked how I can find something to write about every single day.

In the first place, I have been eager to write for almost 40 years. Now I have the time. Our trusty beagle wakes me every morning at precisely 7:00 am to be let outside. After that, I am up for the day. As my hub is a laaaate sleeper, I have plenty of quiet time to do whatever I want from weeding the flowerbeds to writing on my iPad.

Most days I write. When I took on the goal to publish my mom's recipes, that gave me even more incentive to write regularly. Our life out here in the country is not so exciting, but we like it that way. We lived in the country back in The Netherlands, and our nearest neighbor was repeatedly asking me if it wasn't too quiet or boring out there. Maybe we should have gotten a dog back then. I would have had a 20 year head start on my writing.

Let's jump out of season. Today I have a recipe for Gingerbread Men from Just Plain Cooking:

Gingerbread Men (Memaw's)

4 1/2 cups flour
1 cup quick oats
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup molasses
2 tablespoons vinegar

In a large bowl, stir together flour, oats, soda, and spices.
In a large mixer bowl, beat shortening and sugar until fluffy.
Add eggs, molasses, and vinegar and beat well.
Cover and chill for 3 hours or overnight.
Divide dough into thirds. On a lightly floured surface, roll each 1/3 dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into gingerbread men or other desired shapes.
Place 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheet.
Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 5 to 6 minutes. Cool 1 minute then remove to a wire rack.
Makes 30 cookies.