Thursday, January 31, 2008

Weathering Pain

For all those who are say, under 40, you may find this post doesn't apply . . . yet. Since I'm slamming into the 60's door pretty soon, just so you know ahead of time, weather changes can create new aches and pains never before experienced. For several weeks (months) now we seem to have been experiencing an army of fronts marching across our area--along with the rest of the country. First its warm--in the 80 degree area, then it crashes to sub-freezing temps for a day or two. Next, it rockets back to the balmy 70's just before dropping two to three inches of rain. But is it over yet? Oh, no! It slumps back down to the just-above-freezing temperatures again for a day or two. My poor aching bones! And muscles! Go figure! I've known about the joint aches off and on for maybe fifteen, twenty years--nothing bad mind you. But now!? It's muscles, too? How'd that happen? What is going on, I ask you?
When my Grandma Z was about my age, she complained that riding in a car half-way across the country was just too painful for her because her legs would ache so much. I was 21, so I simply could not relate. Wellllllllllll . . . those days are gone, and hello, Grandma, here I am! Borrowing a quote from Pioneer Woman's Blog a few days ago (and she borrowed from Hee Haw--the TV show of some years back) "gloom, despair, and agony on me . . ."
With a new front making its way into our neck of the woods, my body had new tinglings, and twitchings, and agonies never experienced before this morning as my husband expected me to "rise and shine forth" and iron a shirt for him before he left for work! It was all I could do to muster the strength! I moaned and groaned, I thought, sufficiently. But he came back upstairs to see if I were coming a few minutes later as I catalogued all the new painful areas from my waist down, and I promise there were some new ones, never before experienced.
My rational side tried valiantly to encourage me with thoughts like, You know it'll feel better if you just suck it up and get the heck out of bed! Well who wants to be rational when the bed is so nice and comfy and warm and you're tired and freshly aware of waking up to pains you definitely did not have when you went to bed the night before? NOT ME! Come on, now! You know that getting up and moving around is the best cure for all that pain you're feeling. It'll be better soon as you get up!
Well, that little voice from my rational side lied. It was worse. There were pains in my lower back, pains in my sacroiliac, my hips and my left knee. If that wasn't bad enough, when I finished ironing my sweetheart's shirt--I do this most every morning (and have been for nearly 38 years now, because I love him dearly)--I discovered new pains! My muscles and/or nerves from somewhere around my pelvic joints to my left knee were screaming! When I tried to rub away the pain behind my knee, I found it didn't help! It aggravated it! So much for rational voices in our heads!
But, strangely enough, uhmmmmmmmm . . . I am feeling better now, and it is only two hours later--after getting out of bed. And I've actually survived the ordeal. The pain. The trauma. The feeling like my grandma did nearly 40 years ago. For now. At least. Yet, acording to the weather folks, we're in for some kind of a doozy of storm weather possibilities today! If we lived further north and were in the path of all the sleet, freezing rain mess, I'd for sure crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head! Can't wait for what tomorrow may bring. Maybe I'll just iron a couple of shirts later today. Yeah! Then I'll take a pass at getting up at 6:30 am tomorrow. Hmmmmmm. Sounds like a plan to me! (IF the power doesn't go out, anyway.)
Just as an aside: In all fairness to him, so you don't think ill of him, my dear husband has suffered back pain and joint pain and miserable arthritis about as long as I've known him. Since all that pain . . . yes, with nerves, and muscles and more . . . is so familiar to him he kind of rolls his eyes when I complain about my minor stuff. I'm coming to better appreciate all he suffers--while still valiantly earning a living for us! He's a keeper!

Monday, January 21, 2008

My Special Hot Cocoa Mix

My Delicious Hot Cocoa Mix

6 cups NestlĂ©’s Quick
1 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
7 cups Coffee Mate
5 cups Powdered Milk
2 cups powdered Sugar

Begin by measuring each ingredient into a medium size bowl, sifting the powdered sugar and cocoa--separately--into their individual bowls. Then, in a much larger bowl add a portion from each of the ingredient bowls and combine using a large wisk. Continue adding dry ingredients together with the wisk until everything is throughly mixed together.

Place in an airtight container(s). Mix about ¼ cup mix with 6 to 8 ounces of hot water. If desired, add milk or cream to taste. Enjoy.

Snow Down South!

Wow! My husband and I were in Jackson, Mississippi, this weekend and we saw SNOW! Felt SNOW--and it got in my mouth and eyes as it blew. It was COLD! Blowing and cold! I'm trying to remember the last time I was in a snow storm--in the South. Hmmmmmm. I don't remember. Of course, I DO remember the last blizzard I was in. Back in '94, my father died and we were traveling to Utah for his funeral.

We saw some of the most interesting weather I'd ever seen before. Around Dove Creek, Colorado, which is very high in elevation--a beautiful bean farming area--we saw some of the blackest, threating, nearly on the ground storm clouds you can imagine. It was raining, thundering, raining, sleeting and snowing! And if that weren't enough, we saw rainbows! Honest! We saw rainbows! It was stunning, awesome and intriguing! I'd never seen it before, nor since that time.

That trip had some really unique experiences, actually. Later that same night, in November 1994, we were traveling along I-70, not far from Moab, Utah. One of my brother advised us that the mountain pass we normally traveled through was closed. I personally haven't seen too many bucks in the wild. Maybe none. Does, yes. Bunches. Bucks, no. Anyway, this big guy was probably an elk. He had a rack of horns that was huge. Really humongus! There were two or three does ahead of HIM in the median and a few does behind him. But he BACKED UP a step or two as our van approached. Honest. We had three of our four children with us in the van on that trip. They slept during this portion of the trip, so contemplating the possibilities for our family on that night . . . Well, you can imagine.

A few miles down the road my husband asked, "Did you see the deer?" "Yeah." "Do you know what would have happened if that buck had been in the road?" Uhhhhhh it wouldn't have been good." "We would all be dead right now." "Yeah?" "Didn't you see the SIZE of that guy?"

Well, it would have been gruesom, I'm sure. I'm SO grateful we're here today to talk about it! So blessed! I know lots of people were praying for our safety on that trip. Well, I credit their prayers--and ours--with the Lord's providential care.

Only thing is, my husband's version of this incident is quite intriguing! It has morphed over the years. It's far more entertaining that my rendition, but then, I'll let him tell it. Sometime. And I'll turn the other direction and try to keep a straight face. I love my husband. And...his story is, as I said, more entertaining!

How I wish I had a picture of that huge buck! He had a rack of horns, I tell you . . .

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Another day in the life

'Tis another day and it's wet and cold. Southern winter. Could be worse, of course, with sleet and freezing rain. Been there. Done that. Hope to avoid it ever happening again.

I've been thinking recently about how much I enjoy the physicality of writing with a pencil on paper. Now there are some drawbacks if the paper is rough, or the pencil "lead" too hard, etc. But, even in this day and time of computers--where I can type like crazy--boy! What I could have done in typing class! We actually had SOME manual, non-electric, old-fashioned typewriters! Or even, when I worked for Uncle Sam as a clerk for the USAF about 40 years ago and typed non-stop for eight grueling hours a day! Oh, the aching back! And, lest you already know, that meant typing in at least triplicate, which meant for every mistake I had to erase--with an eraser--not only the original, but each of the carbon copies and go again. And if you think erasing tissue paper copies isn't fun. Well, you just haven't lived and loathed having a job like that!

When we got our first computer with a word processor and, WOW! Spellcheck! (Unlike this blogger posting window.) I thought I'd simply died and gone to heaven. I bet I was typing better'n 500 wpm! Well, maybe only sixty-lebben wpm, but it was way faster than anything I'd ever typed before! It was so cool! AND the best part, every copy was letter perfect and just like the original, i.e., no erasures, no smears, no misspelled words (no holes in the paper meaing I had to start over from scratch). AND it had no return to hit at the end of each line of typing either!!! I feel so blessed to have all these wonderful tools at my disposal. What I could have done with them 40 years ago!

Ahhh, hmmm. Excuse me. This started out about pencil writing on paper. So, I love to write on paper. I love the feel of longhand smoothness as I compose sentences and erase the mistakes, and move on and write again. I've found that some notebook paper--the lined stuff you can buy at Wal-Mart for like 20 cents for a package of 100 sheets about the time school is going to start--must be treated paper. Some I've bought is so smooth, my pencil just glides over the surface like butter sliding on a warm skillet. I found in my old stacks of unused lined school paper, however, the very opposite--rough, scratchy paper. I don't like writing on that kind.

Of course, I love brand new, very sharp pencils. I'll use a dull one if I have to, but I prefer new sharp ones, just like I prefer a very newly sharpened knife when chopping, slicing, etc. while cooking. A writer or cook is no better than her tools. And good tools should be sharp. Like my mind. (I wish.) Used to be somewhat sharp. But, well, my kids give me grief all the time about how my mind is slipping.

So, I love writing with pencils. I even like some mechanical pencils, especially those that have the .5 mm leads or smaller. (We all know it's really graphite because lead, real lead, is a deadly poison that nobody wants around. Actually--and you can correct me if I'm wrong, but a long time ago--yes in my lifetime--I think some pencils actually did have lead in the writing part. People used to, excuse the graphicness of this, but, people used to spit on their hand or something and put the lead part of a pencil in the spit--I forget why they did this--but the lead would turn purple. I remember seeing people stick the pencil in their mouth before writing, like it made the "lead" work better, or something. If anyone knows more about this, I'd like some more information. Weird. Sorry.) Which also makes me remember having to sharpen pencils with a knife--yes, sharp knife--of course. I've done it myself, but much prefer my handy electric pencil sharpener. It's great!

Sometimes when I write, I like to try different writing styles--the physical part. Like slanting my letters left or right, making them closer together or spreading them further apart. Making them tiny and concise. Or, large and flowery--ehhh. Maybe not exactly flowery, but heading in the direction of being pretty-ish. Sometimes I've noticed that my script more closely resembles my Mom's tighter, rounder characters. I hardly ever write like my Dad did with bold, almost rigid straight lines on a right-handed slant. Sometimes I don't think anyone could possibly read what I've written--including me--and other times I've surprisingly received compliments on my "beautiful penmanship". I think those folks were just being nice.

I always try to have paper and pencil handy--in my purse, glove box, by my bed, of course by the phone(s) and in whatever bag I might be traveling with because I might, just might, think of something I need to write down before I forget it. Honestly, one night at about 2:30 a.m., I had a brainstorm and had to get up, turn on the light and take dictation. My brain was racing with ideas for a project I was working on and, well, I suddenly had a jillion and a half things flood my brain. I'm sure I only captured a few or three on paper, but it helped tremendously with my project.

Of course, there were the many times I had wonderful poetry, song lyrics and melody (which I wouldn't know how to write if I had to) that have wafted through my slumbering thoughts and I felt prompted to get up and write them down, but being asleep, I hardly convinced myself that it was essential. Especially after having one singular experience about 40 years ago when a poem came to mind. I didn't particularly like the poem, but it wrapped itself around my every sleeping moment and I couldn't shake it. The rhthym incessantly beat against me. The mental pictures--were pretty neat, but still, I refused to get up and write it down. From previous experience, I knew if I DIDN'T write it down, it would go away. Ha! I say. And again, Ha! But only for this one poem. Even after I got up, went to work and came home that next day, it simply would not leave me alone. And I still have no clue why. Want to know if I ever forgot the poem? Well, though it's been at least, or probably about 40 years ago, I can still tell you at least the beginning of it--which I finally resigned myself to write down that next evening because it would not be stilled. Period. Here goes:

Swiftly, swiftly soars the eagle, o're the rocky glen
It makes an arch, a smooth caress of feathers in the wind.

Okay. That's how it began, and yes, I did write it in pencil. When one is composing--or taking dictation, as in the case of the soaring eagle--one must write in pencil. That way, you can erase anything you need/want to. Well, I think I have a copy around here somewhere, just for posterity's sake. Weird after all these years it still comes to me.

So, on to Post-It Notes. One of the finer inventions of our time. I LOVE Post-It Notes, all sizes and colors and versatilities! I have tons stuck to my bulletin board on the back of my kitchen cabinet, the wall by my computer. And, on occasion, I've stuck them on peoples foreheads--only in the interest of helping them/me remember something really important. I use them in scripts, books, lessons, you name it, to mark really cool ideas, points I want to remember, points I want to share--They are fantastic. Wish I'd thought of them first and could be a bizzillionaire by now, but, well. I just use them and give my thanks to the wonderful individual(s) who invented and marketed them.

In case you're wondering, I also like writing with pens. All kinds of pens, but most especially really fine point pens. And I love colored pencils. You should see my collection. Some, are in mint condition--for future use, you understand. Some are merely stubbs, because of excessive usage. And Crayons. How can one not like Crayons? I mean really! They're so, well, colorful! And I love colors. My children--mostly my daughters--laugh about my huge collection of crayons, stashed in various locations. I mean, I used to work with Kindergarten children, and you simply have to have Crayons when doing so. And, often, I've donated--maybe a little reluctantly--a box or two (you know the ones about 128 Crayons size) to one or more of those daughters. One of them almost shares my affinity for Crayons--she even has a nifty little cylindrical holder/display item with a built in sharpener and other nifty stuff. I want one, too. Anyway, I love to color with Crayons. I like coloring with my grandkids, too. In coloring books, on paper, with Crayons doing the color thing on the paper, not the grandkids--you know what I mean.

Well, if I haven't bored you to death by now...Okay. I'll end this post for today. Hope you have a very colorful and delightful rest of the day.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Cinnamon Roll Recipe

Had a craving for more cinnamon rolls yesterday and needed to take a dessert to a family of my friends who had a loved one recently pass from this life. It was a good excuse to make some more. Received great compliments and a request for a copy of the recipe. So, after nearly 40 years of hoarding it, I've decided to come clean and share. It really is good and has garnered 40 years of compliments. If you try it, perhapsyou too, can enjoy these yummy sweet treats and receive compliments of your own. Let me know how it goes for you!
Cinnamon Rolls

1 pint sour cream or buttermilk
1 cup sugar, divided
1 cup butter, divided
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons dried yeast
6-7 cups flour
½ cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
Cinnamon sugar: Combine about 2 cups of sugar with 4 heaping tablespoons of cinnamon and mix thoroughly.

Icing Glaze: 4 cups powdered sugar

4 tablespoons (probably much more), lemon juice, but add a little at a time, mixing well after each addition, till it's the consistency to drizzle.


Warm sour cream, or buttermilk, with ½ cup butter till butter is melted. In a 2 cup measuring cup add 1 tablespoon sugar to warm water, sprinkle yeast over water, then add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of sugar over yeast. Mix sugar, water, and yeast well. In a large mixing bowl, add 6 cups flour, remainder of sugar, and salt. Mix till blended. Next, add all liquid ingredients and mix gently till blended. Add eggs one at a time, and mix thoroughly. With kneading hook on mixer, knead mixture thoroughly for 5 to 7 minutes. If you need to do this by hand, use a very large bowl, and knead the mixture in the bowl with a wooden spoon. If dough is too runny, add the additional cup of flour. However—dough should be VERY soft, not stiff--almost pourable.

Place dough in a LARGE bowl, well greased with shortening. Spray top of dough with Pam Spray and cover with plastic wrap before placing in a warm spot. Allow to rise multiple times, always punching the dough down when it has doubled in bulk. (More realistically, I rap the bottom of the bowl on the counter top to begin the release of built up carbon dioxide, then, using a very freshly washed finger, pull the dough from the sides of the bowl toward the center at about one inch intervals until it's almost back to the original bulk. Then I recover it with plastic wrap. When you can smell the yeasty, almost fruity aroma indicating that fermentation has begun, the dough will be ready to work with.

NOTE: You can put the covered dough in the refrigerator at this point, if you won't have time to complete the task. However, if you do, please be sure your bowl is large enough to allow the doubling of the dough without spilling over the edges. I know from past experience that this dough, once begun, loves to continue to "grow". If you do refrigerate the dough, however, you'll need to get it out to warm up an hour or two before you plan to work it into rolls.

On a well floured surface, take ¼ to 1/3 of the dough and form a loose ball. Knead it slightly with the flour and then, with a flour dusted rolling pin, roll it out in a rectangle until it is about 1/8 to ¼” thick.

With a pastry brush, generously spread melted butter over the entire surface, then sprinkle generously with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Beginning on a long side, roll the dough, jelly-roll style, then slice into about ¾” to 1” pieces. Place these cinnamon rolls, flat side down, on a well greased cookie sheet or in a cake pan, casserole dish—whatever you have--about 1/2” apart. If you crowd them all together, you'll get weird landscape looking cinnamon rolls. If you want normal shaped rolls, place them at least 1/2" to 1" apart so they can expand without curling crazily out of the middle while rising. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for approximately 1 hour. When they're about twice original size, remove plastic and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

While baking, mix together Icing Glaze ingredients enough to make a somewhat runny glaze. As soon as rolls are removed from the oven, drizzle glaze over the top. Serve warm, and everyone will thank you! If you let them eat any of them.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Heaps of Yummy Rice Krispie Treats

I apologize for the fact that this large dish of Rice Krispie Treats--not yet cut--is not a very good picture. I'm not an exceptional photographer. Mediocre (another of those weird looking words). That's my photo skill level=Mediocre. At any rate, after posting the previous picture of my very faaaa-vor-ite cinnamon rolls, I realized that I promised my baby sister, who is almost ten years my junior, and younger, and more talented than I, that I would send her a copy of my version (as I mentioned in the previous post, I'm always messin' around with recipes to improve them) of Rice Krispie Treats. So, since I don't think she's managed, or bothered, to look up my blog, I thought I'd be mean and tell her that if she wants this recipe, she'll have to come here to find it. Big sisters are often mean like that. I try not to be too mean, however. We're really very close--emotionally and friendship-wise--even though she lives miles and miles and miles and miles away from me, as does my married daughter and her family of very cute and intelligent and entertaining family members. Which makes me very sad because I really miss all those adorable people.

Uh-hmmmm. Yes. Rice Krispie Treat Recipe. But, before I do that I have to publish a disclaimer. Sorry. I'm one of those terrible cooks who makes things up as I go. It's true. Ask my children. I'm constantly being admonished: "Mom, did you write down the recipe you concoted for this stuff. It's really good." Sheepishly I must admit, "Uhhhhh. No. Sorry." To which they often reply, "MOM! Write it down! Okay?" So then I try to recreate approximately what I put in the pot, or bowl or whatever, in approximately what proportions--Yeah. That's another of my foibles: I don't really measure. Usually. So, I've had to repent endlessly and attempt to mend my ways and start writing things down--and not losing them afterwards--and sharing them with my children, siblings that ask for them, and occasionally with friends.

With that said, this is APPROXIMATELY how I manufactured the heap of Rice Krispie Treats pictured above. By the way, the container you see measures 15" x 11". Just so you know what you're dealing with here.

I began with 1 cup of butter. DO NOT EVER attempt this recipe with anything less. Or different. Margarine of any sort simply will not do!!! That's what I believe! (My middle daughter tells me she uses margarine. So, I'm ammending my command: Use ONLY--if you absolutely have to use margarine--use only the kind that has no ADDED water. That's all I'm willing to say about the subject.) I only use butter. Period. Margarine has water in it. I learned the hard way, I promise. If you put water into your Rice Krispie Treats, you'll end up with--yeah--soggy Rice Krispie Treats! Yuck!!! WHO wants soggy Rice Krispie Treats? Not me! Certainly not you either. Right? Right.

OK. Now with that cup of butter, begin by rubbing it all over the insides of an extremly large pot. I used my very large canning pot that's supposed to hold 7 quart jars while pressure cooking the living daylights out of whatever I'm canning. The reason you want to rub the entire interior of that pot is this: you don't want any more sticky adherence of the goodies you'll place in there to stick more than necessary. You decide. But, that's how I did/do it.

Next. Place your exceptionally large, butter coated interior pot on the large burner and turn the heat to about medium or medium high. You want the butter and soon-to-be-added marshmallow avalanche to melt, not fry or scorch or anything remotely similar. So after the cup of butter melts satisfactorily, begin adding the aforementioned avalanche of mini-marshmallows. I used three pounds. Seriously. Three 16 oz. bags of mini-marshmallows. And maybe a smidge more, like a cup. I think I also added another stick of butter, for good measure about the same time. Honest. I stirred constantly with a favorite wooden spoon while the marshamallows simmered in the buttery ocean at the bottom of the pot until every last one of 'em (the little mini-marshmallows) had joined in happy harmony with all the others in the paradise of fat and sugar just waiting for the crispy, crunchy nutritionally enhanced cereal to be added.

When that harmony of butter and marshmallows was perfect, I turned off the heat! Very important!! That way you and I can, and did in this case, avoide the dreaded scorching nastiness that could have happened otherwise.

Next, I incorporated about 20 cups (an 18 oz. box plus another cup or three--just for good measure) of Rice Krispies to that yellowy-white, sweet, tempting mixture in the pot. I gently folded in the last ingredient (the Krispies) using a wooden spoon untill every bit of chrunchiness was covered with gooey, sweet, fatty goodness.

I had previously sprayed the interior of the 15" x 11" inch dish with a generous portion of Pam spray. You could use butter, of course, but Pam was simply easier for me. Now everything was ready for the last step: getting the wonder of sweet crispiness into the glass casserole dish waiting to receive it. So, being the wimp I'm becoming, I called for assistance from my oldest daughter, who was visiting and anxiously awaiting the tasting of that stuff. Between the two of us, we managed to pile it into the huge container previously prepared. Well, it wasn't big enough to handle all that STUFF. So, I found a much smaller container, sprayed it as well, and removed some of the sticky stuff and stuck it into the smaller container. I also scraped the interior of the humungous pot and put a goodly portion on a piece of wax paper for my personal sampling and was done. Well, almost. I wasn't acutally done until I tasted all the heap of stuff from the waxed paper. It was yummy, I tell ya'! Very yummy. And crunchy. Good, even.

I'm exhausted now, just thinking and writing about it. That was New Year's Day, I believe, and now it's like two days later, and there's like hardly any of the STUFF left! If my son-in-law were here, it would have all been gone the first day. If you want proof, check out my daughter's blog: bugsinthedesert. It shows him eating an entire pan of RK Treats. By himself. BY HIMSELF!!!! The very idea! Of course, had we been in the same room (or even state) at the time, I would have fought him for some, at least!

Weird Landscape?

Some weird landscape, eh? My son suggested I take a picture of this weirdness. So I did. My husband said it looked very "artsy". I should maybe make a poster. In case you haven't guessed just where this lovely landscape is located--but you've probably come very close to doing so--you could have stumbled upon it in my kitchen the day after Christmas. Yes. It is a 13" by 9" pan of cinnamon rolls just prior to entering a 400 degree oven! Oh, the curelty of it all! Not. They were delicious. Quite delicious. And here it is a week later and they and all their cousins in another, yet smaller pan have disappeared. My husband was very sad to learn that fact last evening when he was looking for a sweet treat. He thought it exceedingly unfair. Guess I'll have to make some more. After. After I get some more sour cream. Yes, they are made with sour cream in the dough. I did mention that they were delicious.

If I get really brave, I'll make some more and maybe enter the recipe for others to try. I've been making the recipe for probably over forty years. Eeeeehhhh! I said it! Actually, when I first endeavored to make a sweet treat like this for the first time, I was knocking on the door of my 18th birthday. It was Christmas time--it's been a yearly Christmas tradition since. But I'd found a recipe for some kind of cool looking braided, cherry, Christmas yeast dough dessert thingy. It may have had sour cream in the dough, I honestly don't remember--you know, the older brain issues I have and all.

At any rate, being adventurous and all about cooking--I inherited it--the adventurousness of cooking family tradition some of my forefathers, and/or foremothers apparently had. That was kind of in the days when my mother still tackled cooking. Mom ALWAYS encouraged me to be involved in cooking. She made some things I still remember and would love to eat. But, she never seemed too happy with having to. My dad actually taught her how to, but I digress!

Back to the cinnamon rolls saga: When I was fifteen, and living in Texas, on a huge Army post, I had a friend who lived a couple of doors down from us, and her mom was a great cook. She made these great, crescent shaped cinnamon rolls for her family--and some of us who were lucky enough to be invited to sample her cooking! I'd watched my friend make her Mom's recipe, so since it was mouth-wateringly delicious, I called her up--after my 18th birthday, at some point, because we were living miles, and miles away from each other at that point--and asked if she were allowed to share that most delicious recipe.

Long story short: I learned that they used potato water in their recipe. It was great and I tried it a few times, and I'll be forever grateful to their family for sharing their most awesome recipe with me. But, I have this nasty habit of tweaking recipes to fit my own spectrum of cooking tastes, or whatever you call it. Anyway, as I fiddled with the potato water recipe, I remembered the cherry, braided dough Christmasy thingy I'd made at almost 18. It had sour cream in it. I liked the sour cream taste of it. It was yummy. So I put my inherited cooking talents, abilities and interests to work. I substituted. I did. I put sour cream and butter in rather than potato water and, well, maybe butter. I don't remember. Ooops. My memories issues. My son could go on for days. Heck, my daughters and my husband could--and probably will for the remainder of my life--go on for days about all the things I've forgotten or can't remember or whatever. Family! You gotta luv 'em. And I do. When I REMEMBER to do that. Actually, I never forget that I love them. They may question my methods, but I hope they know I love them. Dearly! Every cotton-pickin' one of 'em! Especially my husband. And my daughters. And my son-in-law. And my son. And especially my three grandchildren. They're super. They're very cute and exceptionally intelligent. And did I say cute? Well, they are. And I do love them.

OK. The sweetrolls. Back to the sweetrolls. I remember making them. Humungous piles of these tasty little love bites one year for Christmas presents. I'd made them at home a time or two, tweaking the recipe, as I mentioned earlier, and had my younger six and older one sibling hooked on them. Not to exclude myself from being hooked. ON them. Well, you understand.

Since I was newly married in 1970, my husband was in school, and we lived fifty thousand miles away from my family, and we had little $$$, I decided the best thing to do was to bake goodies for my family back home, my in-laws, my co-workers and some friends.

One of the first things I learned about this recipe on that particular occasion--since it is a yeast dough based goodie--if you leave it around very long while you make humungous piles of the stuff, the dough rises, over and over and over and as it sits around rising over and over again, it starts to ferment. It's a natural process. I mean you combine flour, water, yeast, sugar--lots of sugar--and all the other stuff, yes. The sour cream. And the butter. But it's mostly the sugar, and the yeast acting with the flour and you achieve fermentation. Well, it turned out to be an added bonus, I learned, AFTER being devastated that I couldn't roll out huge circles of dough, butter and cinnamon sugar them fast enough to keep ahead of the fermentation process. So, I resigned myself to failure. Turned out, it really made them tastier. Nowadays, I refuse to roll out the first batch of dough until I can smell the fermentation taking place.

The great thing--or troubling thing as it was at first--was that this dough will continue to rise in the refrigerator! I can't tell you how many pounds of dough, over the years, I've had to toss because it flowed over the boundries established as being reasonable and just--for being able to use to eat.

So that's about it. My family back home, my new family of in-laws, my co-workers, and friends couldn't get enough. My family back home demanded them every Christmas, until my little sister took up the challenge one year when I was either too busy or too lazy or too something to make the blasted cinnamon things and I shared my recipe with her. She told me just last night, I think it was, that family members, especially my youngest brother--who's getting married on my birthday in less than two weeks--Christmas just wasn't the same if she--SHE--didn't make HER sweet rolls for them. She told me that she reminded them (him) it was MY sweet roll recipe. At least, that's what she told me. I don't know. Her recipe probably morphed differently than mine has over the past thirty years that she's been making the gooey, yummy, cinnamon . . . . . . . Yeah. You get the point.

Now after all this thought and expression, I'll probably have to take myself into the kitchen at some point in time today, and make another batch of the cinnamon, sugary, slightly yeasty, fermented, pastry thingies. Sigh. They smell so good rising. Baking. I can almost smell the heavenly aroma now! Ya'll have a great day! OH!!! and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Tangled Oaks, et al

Had to add more picture(s) to show how much this one tree filled up my driveway and yard as it came to rest. We were so fortunate that it didn't crash into the house and only ruined an old truck--which has, by the way--been replaced with a nicer, bigger, newer model--and most unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, tangled with and ruined the live oak, the juniper bush and my beloved redbud. This beloved redbud was planted when it, and my then eighteen month old son were the same height. My son grew, but not nearly so tall as that redbud before its demise. It must have been a good thiry feet tall when it went down. Sob, sob. I miss that tree.

Before it went down, however, I never knew how determined to survive some species of tree can be!!! There's just this little stump of the tree left, and it continues to put out new shoots! It looks kind of ridiculous trying to grow--now that its damaged and all--but it's putting up a fight! My husband is planning to remove it--I don't think he EVER really liked it--when he gets around to it. Some health problems have combined to make that issue a little more difficult, but in due time, we'll get around to re-landscaping. I know we will! Don't know just when, but I know we will!! In fact, redbuds, I've discovered, indescriminately cast their seed all over the place, so we have a lot of little fledgling redbuds scattered around which I hope to transplant to the back yard against the foresty edge of our property. Maybe that way my husband won't object and try to eliminate them altogether. I really don't understand his dislike for something so pretty. We all have our druthers, I suppose.