Sunday, November 29, 2009

Writer's Notebook

Ralph Fletcher is one of my favorite authors. He has published children' s novels, poetry books, short stories and books on the writing process for teachers. One of my most treasured books he has written, besides Fig Pudding, is a very small compact book called A Writer's Notebook Unlocking The Writer Within You. He notes in this book that keeping a writer's notebook is one of the best ways he knows to live a writing kind of life. He does emphasize that it is not a diary, but a place where you can jot down the important little details you notice or hear in daily life. Mr. Fletcher suggests that having a writer's notebook provides a good place to include personal entries, poems, lists of books you have read, favorite words, interesting quotes, goals, artifacts and photographs. He feels a writer's notebook is like a scrapbook to be a gathering place for your writing and at a later date provide you with inspiration. It is quite possible you might even have several notebooks/journals on going at the same time.
Over the years, I have kept many notebooks/journals. My current one is a fairy journal in which I have collected lots of fairy information, documented some observations, listed fairy books and valuable internet sources. So all of this brings me up to the Fairy Handbook, which I would like to put in the beginning of my sock fairy manuscript as an introduction, or at the end as a glossary. This would give the reader some information and answers to any questions they might be thinking about. Some ideas planned are definitions for the following words: fairies, fairy circles, meeting places, fairy gifts, fairy wands, fairy lights, fairy wings and information on how fairy messages are sent and some creatures they fear. What I would like is some input on placement. Would it be better placed in the beginning of my story as an introduction or at end as a glossary. If you have any thoughts on this please send to me by way of the comment box.
This is one of my favorite Ralph Fletcher quotes..."I have often been asked how to become a better writer. I always say, go out and live the most exciting life you can, and never quit writing about it. Don't mix up the order."
If you have any special requests for recipes you would like to see included in this blog please let me know.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 8,000 Calorie Poem
May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plumb
May your gravy and potatoes
Have nary a lump
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs
Anonymous
Thanksgiving gives us a chance to express our gratitude towards our family and friends and even strangers for their help. Here is wishing you and your family a wonderful day!
Brownie Chocolate Wedges
after you have worn off your Thanksgiving dinner
Ingredients:
  • 1 package (10 0z.) and 1/2 of another (10 oz. package) Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate (62% cacao) that come in squares
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 TB. coffee(liquid)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup flour plus 2TB.
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 2 TB. Kahlua

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325 and line a 8x8 baking dish with foil that has been greased
  • On stove heat on low heat sugar,chocolate, butter and water. Stir constantly till smooth and chocolate is melted
  • Pour into a medium bowl and stir in eggs one at a time
  • Stir in vanilla, flour, salt, nuts and Kahlua
  • Mix all ingredients using a spoon
  • Bake 25-30 minutes
  • Cool and cut in wedges and remove from foil

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sock Forum

Several blogs back I let readers know about the Bureau of Missing Socks that can be found at http://www.funbureau.com/. If you recall I wrote about my findings that this organization is devoted to looking at all aspects of the phenomenon what really happens to single socks when they go missing. I am sure there are many people who will always remain optimistic that their missing socks will someday show up and be reunited with their mates. I have read a variety of humorous theories that speculate where these missing socks could be... like sucked under agitator of the washer to a black hole, or beamed into space, or gone through time travel to sock fairy land.
So when I found The Missing Bureau had a sock forum called: The Laundry Basket I was quite interested in reading what other people had to say through online discussions. But I was disappointed that this site has not recently been updated. So I decided I would offer readers my own forum and look forward to your responses. The topic: Where do missing socks go when you do the laundry? At the end of this blog click on Comment and post your thoughts. If this comment box does not work (sometimes it is temperamental) please try it again later in day.
The countdown is on for the Turkey meal. I will be serving cornbread along with sausage/cranberry stuffing. Will post that recipe next time..
Cornbread
Ingredients:
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup honey
2 TB. brown sugar (packed)
4 large eggs separated
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. parsley flakes
chopped green onion
optional: jalapeno pepper chilies
Directions:
Preheat oven 350
Grease 9 inch round cake pan with 2 inch high sides or 8x8 glass pan
Separate 4 eggs
Whisk first 5 ingredients in bowl and set aside
In another bowl using mixer beat butter, honey sugar till pale
Add yolks one at a time beating well add spices, peppers, onions
Mix in dry ingredients, alternating with buttermilk in 3 additions
In another bowl beat egg whites adding a pinch of creme of tartar (spice)
Gently fold into batter
Bake 25-30 minutes till toothpick comes clean at center

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Season's Must Haves

I am posting a recent photo of me in one of the season's hottest items: Orange Gear. It is available in sizes S-M-L-XL and found at most sporting goods stores. Its flamboyant color offers security and high visibility when out walking in the deer country. These coats and hats are insulated for warmth. An added benefit to owning this outfit is using it early in the season as a Halloween pumpkin costume. Only a green stem is needed to be sewn at the top of hat to complete the look. I know it can work, since my husband did wear it one Halloween!
The second hot item of the season are arm warmers. They are both functional, stylish, lightweight and scrunchable. These chic sleeves have a finished thumb hole and are available in different textures and color choices. In addition, these arm warmers can be mixed and matched depending on the look you want to achieve. Please refer to a recent photo I posted of a fairy labeled Some Wishful Thinking. This sock fairy is enjoying wearing her new pair.
Several blogs back I did alert readers that with the fall and winter seasons approaching, fairies are busier than usual. Which means for you, more socks could be missing. Fairies have been spotted as of late, snatching socks and hurrying off to the sock bank. I suspect sock fairies spend many evenings by the fireside making arm warmers, leg warmers, sock monkeys, and other sock accessories. It has been thought that fairies can fashion at least 3-4 arm warmers from one adult sock for themselves or their fairy friends. Perhaps when fairies gather for their nightly meeting, they exchange their wares with one another.
So... if you happen to find any of these new sock accessories around your house just maybe... you are the recipient of a fairy's good deed. I would like to add in case you are impatient waiting for arm warmers to magically appear, they can be purchased at a local Macys store or online at sockdreams.com
I am cooking again trying out another recipe I might serve for Thanksgiving. Let me know what results you get if you try it.
Apple Cake with Penuche Frosting
Ingredients for frosting
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 3-5 TB milk
  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar (sifted)
Directions for frosting
For best results use a whisk

  • Melt butter in saucepan
  • Stir in brown sugar
  • Boil and stir over low heat 2 min.
  • Stir in milk
  • Bring to boil, stirring constantly
  • Stir in confectioner's sugar
  • Additional milk can be stirred in a few drops at a time to get the correct spreading consistency
Cake Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water ( could substitute apple juice)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 apples cut in 1/2 chunks (use Haralson or Granny Smith)
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Directions:
  • Grease a 13x9 pan
  • Heat oven 350
  • Use a whisk for this recipe not a mixer
  • In a bowl whisk together- buttermilk, oil, water, brown sugar, eggs, baking powder, baking soda,salt, spices, vanilla until smooth
  • Whisk in flour
  • Stir in apples and nuts
  • Bake in glass pan 13x9 for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from center
  • Cool before frosting




Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter

Recently I came across a series of books written by Susan Wittig Albert called The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter for adults. The author's style is quite clever. She mixes fact with fiction, so the reader learns more about the life of Beatrix Potter, children's illustrator, countrywoman and conservationist. Each tale has a mystery added. There are problems to solve and the animal characters from Beatrix's books are woven into the storyline as problem solvers. The tales have a fairy like quality about them as the author draws the reader into the village life of the Lake District of England with her descriptive writing. One sentence that caught my attention was the curling mist rising over the marshes and fields like wisps of fairy webs. It reminded me of a photo I posted several blogs back with the mist rising over the lake in the early morning. As I was reading one of the tales, I found a helpful hint: if you carry a small bible in your pocket it can be a good luck charm against any possible fairy abductions. Well that's in case it is a worry to some readers out there!
With the holidays coming up perhaps you will be doing some entertaining. This is an easy appetizer your company will like.
Cherry-Pecan Brie
Directions:
Stir together in bowl
  • 1/3 cup cherry preserves
  • 1TB. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
Drizzle over 1( 80z ) warm Brie round (rind removed from top)
Top with toasted pecans
Serve with crackers
To Toast Pecans
Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan until lightly roasted, stirring occasionally about 8-10 minutes

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fairy Magic

I have a feeling that childhood has been robbed of a great deal of its joys by taking away its belief in wonderful, mystic things, in fairies and all their kin. It is not surprising that when children are grown, they have so little idealism or imagination, not that so many of them are like the infidel who asserted that he would not believe anything that he could not see.
These words were spoken by author Laura Ingalls Wilder adapted from an essay she wrote in 1916 Fairies Still Appear to Those with Seeing Eyes.
Probably few people know that in addition to writing the Little House on the Prairie series, she also wrote columns for the newspaper. Laura Wilder and her daughter Rose collaborated on a collection of fairy poems. Several year ago a friend, knowing how the lives of fairy people interested me, gave me a book called Laura Ingalls Wilder's Fairy Poems. Stephen Hines introduced and compiled this book.
It is a sweet book and I would like to share one poem
The Fairy Dew Drop
Down by the spring one morning
Where the shadows still lay deep.
I found in the heart of the flower
A tiny fairy asleep.

Her flower couch was perfumed,
Leaf curtains drawn with care,
And there she sweetly slumbered,
With a jewel in her hair.

But a sunbeam entered softly
And touched her, as she lay,
Whispering that 'twas morning
And fairies must away

All colors of the rainbow
Were in her robe so bright
And she danced away with the sunbeam
And vanished from my sight.

'Twas while I watched them dancing,
The sunshine told me true
That my sparkling little fairy
Was lovely Drop O' Dew
Not only was I was drawn to this poem because of its lyricism, but the college I attended had a small pond called Dew Drop!
February 1915

Au unexpected warm fall day calls for celebration: Bavarian Apple Cheesecake
Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 TB. shortening
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 cups apples cut in thin slices
  • 2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 sugar
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
Directions:
  • In a bowl beat 1/3 cup sugar, margarine or butter, 1 TB shortening, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon till combined. Blend in flour and salt till crumbly. Pat into 9 inch springform pan and set aside
  • Place apple slices single layer in a shallow baking dish. Cover with foil bake at 400 for 15 minutes
  • Beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp. vanilla, 1/2tsp. cinnamon beat till fluffy, add eggs all at once beat on low just till combined
  • Pour over crust
  • Arrange warm apple slices on top
  • Combine 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon and almonds, sprinkle over apple slices
  • Bake 400 about 40 minutes till golden
  • Cool then remove sides and chill 4-24 hours before serving


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Moon Magic

Tonight the moon certainly stood out in the night sky much like Monday evening. It was a celestial show and a perfect time for fairies to gather for their evening meeting. I imagine they discuss their work and make plans for next day. Perhaps tonight they might help each other spin fine threads of gossamer to make wings. It is a fact not all fairies are born with wings and it is important each fairy owns several pairs. Sometimes when it is real quiet outside late at night I can hear strains of music. To me that is a sure sign fairies have finished their work and are enjoying dancing by the light of the moon. The following recipe is a tasty treat fairies would love to serve for their evening gathering.
Mashed-Potato Casserole
with smoked Gouda and bacon
Ingredients:
  • 6 slices of applewood smoked bacon
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 3 lbs russet potatoes,peeled cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted bread crumbs that have been mixed with 2 TB parsley flakes
  • 2 cups (8oz) coarsely grated smoked Gouda cheese

Directions:

  • Butter a pan 13x9
  • Cook bacon till crisp drain on paper towel, crumble and mix with chopped onion
  • Place potatoes in pot and add enough cold water to cover
  • Sprinkle with salt cover and boil till potatoes are tender-about 20 minutes,drain
  • Return potatoes to pot cook over low heat till potatoes are dry and light-about 2 minutes
  • Add sour cream, milk and butter-use potato masher, mash till smooth-better yet try a ricer for this step
  • Stir in 1 1/2 cup Gouda and 1 cup bacon/onion mixture
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Spread in pan, sprinkle rest of cheese over potatoes
  • Top with bread crumbs
  • Bake 375 uncovered until cheese melts and edges of potatoes are bubbling about 30 minutes

Monday, November 2, 2009

Captured...The Moon

My early evening walk was a bonanza in terms watching the spectacular rising of the hunter moon. I was able to get several good shots which I am posting for you to enjoy. I numbered them in the order which they were taken 1-5 but they are posted in opposite order. It is amazing how quickly and EARLY it gets dark. Note on # 5 picture a slight wisp of cloud is covering the moon.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Moon Escort

A moonlit night was an inspiration for this free verse
Note: a work in progress
Moon Escort
The moon was following me
every place I went.

A constant companion
that kept me safe
with its visible light.

A gem of jewel
that can out shine
even the brightest star.

This autumn moon
followed me home
on a cool November night.

It pays to be attentive to nights like this when the moon is almost at its fullest. It can be a sure sign that fairies will be out dancing in the woodland. But remember, I have warned you before that people who are lured by their enchanting music and get too close to the fairy rings can disappear from human life for seven years!
I did not have a moon photo of a November night, but thought you'd enjoy thinking about the photo I took of the moon rising over the Atlantic Ocean.
I suppose now that November is upon us you are gearing up for the holiday season and looking over your recipes. I have already pulled out my cranberry/cherry sauce that is great over turkey slices. Try it and see how much better it is than canned cranberry sauce!

Cranberry and Dried-Cherry Sauce
Ingredients
  • 1- 12 0z. container of frozen cranberry juice cocktail thawed
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick broken in half
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1- 6 0z. package dried cherries
  • 1- 12oz bag cranberries( found in produce dept.)
  • 1/4 cup merlot wine
Directions
  • Bring first 5 ingredients to boil over medium heat, stirring till sugar dissolves
  • Add cherries and cook 2 minutes
  • Add cranberries and cook till berries pop, stirring occasionally about 9 minutes
  • Pour into bowl and stir in merlot
  • Cool and then cover and chill
  • Can be made ahead one week
  • Discard cinnamon sticks
  • Serve at room temperature