Vacation Is More Fun Than Reality

So I returned home the other day. I am very fortunate that my job gives me a lot of vacation days, but it still seems like it is never enough. As I get older, I realize there are many things I have left to do and work interferes with that. My bucket list is so long, it is now a silo list.
I still have not watched every “Snapped” episode, tasted all the chocolate bars in the candy aisle (because I keep getting caught), or wrestled in lime jello. I may not look good wrestling in granny panties forever, especially if I accomplish the second thing. A 51 year-old body can only be duct taped in place for so long before the sticky stuff just isn’t strong enough anymore.
I think there should be a book given to everyone when they are born, explaining you need to use your time wisely. When I was younger, I thought my time on Earth was unlimited. I also thought walking in six inch heels was sexy instead of dangerous and that I’d always weigh 105 pounds. If I had realized I wasn’t going to be around forever, I would have bargained for more vacation time….. a lot more……

I am not so good with technology. Some things I get….. like wrinkles…. but, if it involves key strokes, I seem to be missing the brain cells to understand it. When I was younger, I excelled at logic problems. Now I can’t even figure out how to use a Tracfone.
I finally broke down and bought a Nook. Didn’t touch it for three days. I’m not sure what I was scared of, other than breaking it before I even got a book on there. I look around at everyone else, and they seem so at ease with these products. Is it in the DNA? Maybe I am just missing that gene and can blame it on my parents. That is so much better than admitting I am a peri-menopausal idiot.
When I first got a computer, I would try and talk to it to make it do what I wanted. Pushing random buttons hadn’t worked, and I didn’t know what else to do. Eventually I would have to call in my husband to fix things. When he would ask me what happened, I would tell him I didn’t know and that the computer did it on its own. It was like having a baby – I was just as clueless, only it didn’t matter if I forgot to feed or change it. Which is why I don’t have kids, but I digress.
Contrary to what people think, I really do try to ‘get’ it. All their explaining could be in a foreign language, I understand so little of it. This is what I hear, “Blah, blah, blah, Marcy, are you listening?, blah, blah, blah”. I fall further and further behind each day. I think I am a ‘toaster oven’ gal in a microwave world…… which is another thing I haven’t yet mastered, even though I’ve had the microwave for three years now. I know it has different settings, I just can’t figure out how to use them. Luckily I do know how to use paper towels, to clean up the mess I’ve made after the food explodes inside it from cooking at the wrong temperature.
I try to cope as best I can. For now I still go to the library, order lots of take-out, and keep two cans and a long string in the car…… you know, in case I have an emergency.

Jon’s Review for Week #3 – COFFEE CAKES

Well, last week I reviewed Marcy’s scones, which are a cake made to go with tea. This week, I will be reviewing Marcy’s coffee cakes, which are cakes made to go with coffee. Next week, I presume I’ll be reviewing something that goes with beer, like a Subway 6-foot Hoagie or a Taco Bell Super Mucho Burrito Grande. Que bueno!

 

 

Like many of us, I enjoy coffee, and the little cakes that go with them. I grew up drinking coffee (my mother found it easier than nursing), and I usually had 2 or 3 little DRAKE’S COFFEE CAKES in my lunch every day. Which also explains why I was an obese child. Really. We used to have to buy my clothes in a special section of the store, which for some overly-sensitive reason they didn’t call “THE FAT SECTION”. They called it “THE HUSKY DEPARTMENT”. That was where I got my clothes as a kid. Husky. I grew up thinking I should be towing an Eskimo around on a sled. Other kids dreamed of winning the World Series or the Super Bowl. Not me – I dreamed of winning the Iditarod. It was embarrassing for me. Actually, me and some of the other Husky kids were going to picket the store once – you know, walk back and forth in front with signs. We called it off the day before – after second thought, it sounded like it would be too much walking.

But I digress. I like coffee and coffee cakes. That was the point. So Marcy had an easy shot with this one. You wouldn’t think she could miss. You just wouldn’t….

SURPRISE!!!!

The 1929 coffee cakes have no connection with the DRAKE’S COFFEE CAKES of my youth. They remind me of something else from my youth. Possibly the baseballs we used in Little League. Although those were softer, but you get the point. And if someone hit one of Marcy’s coffee cakes down the right field line, Bobby Kaminski wouldn’t have bothered chasing it. Bobby always chased down baseballs bouncing down the right field line. Then he promptly threw the ball into the Parking Lot. The runner got the base he was going to, plus one extra. Then they called a time-out to look for the ball, during which FREEZ-POPS were half-price to distract the crowd. They called it ‘THE KAMINSKI RULE’. Bobby’s errant throw once broke the windshield on my father’s 1964 Chrysler Newport. Based on the condition of the rest of the car, the Albany (NY) Police refused to make a report. “It’s probably been broken for a while”, they said. Then they wrote my father a ticket for having replaced a broken rear turn signal with used birthday candles. Thanks a lot, Bobby Kaminski.

 

 

Back to Marcy’s coffee cakes. These were not really anything like the Coffee Cakes most of us would expect. They were more like stale biscuits.  With icing. Or perhaps small pieces of highway with overcooked nuts on top. REAL coffee cakes are supposed to be a pleasant ACCOMPANIMENT to coffee. These would REQUIRE the coffee just to WASH THEM DOWN. They are 3-D CAKES: Dry, Doughy, and Difficult. Either something went wrong, or these were meant to be served with gallon jugs of coffee. THESE were a DESSERT? No wonder people were thinner back then.

Often, when I write these reviews, I try to think of WHAT ingredient needed to be more EVIDENT in the final product. In this case, I’m not sure. I want to say “ALL OF THEM”, but it’s clear that these had more than enough dough. Also, the burned nuts could probably have been cut back. Or eliminated. Yeah – that’s it – eliminated. Don’t put them on the cakes to begin with. Just burn the nuts and throw them out back as a test for the chipmunks. Serves ‘em right – the little striped rats…. I’d probably recommend increasing the sugar. The recipe called for 4 tablespoons… I’d probably increase that to 4 pounds instead. And the glaze was pretty good. More glaze – less cake. Maybe just skip the cakes altogether and serve glaze. No nuts though…

Marcy reads these reviews, so it is at GREAT cost to myself personally that I am forced to rate the COFFEE CAKES with only ONE HAPPY FACE. I would like to give them more, but it would be a sham. It would be like putting Bobby Kaminski on the Little League All-Star team. Come on – his own MOTHER used to boo him. She’d yell “You stink, Kaminski! You’re riding home in the back seat!”. I think he’s a lawyer now. Bobby Kaminski cost us a game against the South Pearl Army-Navy Store Red Sox when I was 10. I never forgave him for that. We would have won. He made six errors. He struck out nine times. He wet himself in the on-deck circle. TWICE! His mother was right. And THEN there was the time Bobby Kaminski, or “Booby Kaminski” as we called him, had a pop fly hit RIGHT AT HIM, and despite that, he…..

Oh – sorry – coffee cakes…. I get discombobulated. Yeah – one happy face. Because I haven’t figured out the graphic for a “Frowny Face” yet. Someday….

                             

 

Welcome to week #3 of the challenge, as I cook recipes from the 1929 book. I am beginning to think things were very different back then, in taste and texture…… or maybe it is just my baking.

 

 

This week I am attempting to make individual coffee cakes. I say ‘attempting’ because, no matter how many times I read the recipe first, it doesn’t seem to help. Maybe you’ll do better.

 

 

I gathered what I thought were all the ingredients together, so I could take the pic. I was wondering why there were no eggs in the recipe. It turns out there are – they had hidden them under the guise of ‘two eggs’.  (Okay, as I was rereading this, I just noticed it said one egg and I put in two!) I also forgot the confectioner’s sugar.

 

 

I mixed all the dry ingredients together in a bowl, then added the shortening. So far, so good.

 

 

Next I beat the eggs (my favorite part – relieves stress).

 

 

Added in the milk, beat a little more……

 

 

Added the liquid ingredients into the dry, and mixed until it formed a soft dough.

 

 

I put it onto a lightly floured piece of wax paper and flattened it out a bit, so I could cut it into six equal pieces.

 

 

Well, they were supposed to be equal…….

 

 

Now here is where I should have paid closer attention. I flattened and stretched out each piece and cut it in half.

 

 

Brushed each half with melted butter……

 

 

Folded the half onto itself…..

 

 

And started twisting it into the cresent shape. It was really hard to twist such a small piece. Turns out I wasn’t supposed to cut it in half. I thought the recipe made twelve coffee cakes. Really, really small cakes. I guess it would have been much easier if I paid attention to the recipe, especially the part where it said makes six.

 

 

They are not looking like any crescents you would find at a store.

 

 

All twelve are ready to be sprinkled with chopped nuts and put in the oven. I brushed them with a little more butter, just so the nuts would stick.

 

 

All sprinkled and ready to bake. I didn’t put nuts on a few, because I know Jon prefers without. Now this is in the “But I knew better” department – baking them at 450 degrees for 20 minutes is going to leave me with burnt nuts…. which it did.

 

 

All baked, burnt nuts and all, and ready to ice with the confectioner’s sugar and water mixture.

 

 

Now here is what mine looked like……

 

 
And this is what the looked like back in 1929. Jon said to me, “That photo of them looks great! They came out so perfect.” This was the pic he was looking at. :-)

 

 
Here are my thoughts, when I was starving – “These are good.” Here are my thoughts after I ate a few – “Why did I eat those?”

 
I am not sure how much my screw-ups contributed, so I can’t really blame the recipe. It certainly isn’t close to what we think of as a coffee cake today. There is very little sugar in these recipes, much different from the cups of sugar called for in most of today’s recipes. To me, it seems much more like a biscuit than a cake. If you are looking for a sweet piece of cake, this is not the recipe for you. If you are after something to go with a cup of coffee, it wouldn’t be the worst thing you could choose. I know, not a ringing endorsement…… but at least the squirrels wouldn’t bring these back. Until next time…..

 
 

Jon’s Response to Week #2: SCONES

“Marcy’s Scones” – or “Why The British Lost the Battle of Yorktown”

Scones are definitely not an American pastry. The entire history of scones in the U.S. can be traced to Starbucks. Starbucks sells scones. At Starbucks, a scone costs something like $14, or roughly the price of a cup of their coffee. Scones were almost brought to this country by American troops who trained for the D-Day landings while stationed in Great Britain during 1943 and 1944, but after braving the machine gun fire and land mines of the Normandy beaches, they decided “Hey – we’ve suffered enough. The hell with scones. Let’s introduce Tex-Mex cuisine instead.” The rest is history. Or as they say in Mexico, “el historio”.

Anyway, Marcy’s scones remind us of exactly why the British Army was beaten at Yorktown. Answer: the French. Marcy’s batch of scones, or as they say in France, “le merde”, suffered from a lack of seasoning. The logic is as follows:

• French support of the Colonials doomed the British army at Yorktown in 1781.  No, really - it did – go look it up.
• French cooking is known for excellent use of seasonings. In fact, many sauces and seasoning mixes used in French cooking were reportedly developed to cover the taste of slightly spoiled meat before refrigeration. I’m assured this is true. Spoiled meat. Which brings us back to Marcy’s kitchen.
• Marcy’s scones need more seasoning. Although the recipe only calls for a little salt, these needed more salt than that. And possibly other seasonings. As is, they tasted more like a low-sodium scone.
• Had the cannons of the Colonial troops at Yorktown in 1781 been loaded with Marcy’s scones instead of cannonballs, it is almost certain that the United States would have received Canada as part of the surrender. Ice hockey would not be played or enjoyed anywhere. Marcy’s hockey puck-like muffins would no longer be requested by the neighborhood kids every winter like they are now.

Anyway, the TEXTURE was surprisingly good: light, fluffy, perfect as an accompaniment for coffee or tea. It was much lighter than most commercial muffins. Perhaps the closest approximation would be a dinner roll. So as far as texture, these deserve my highest compliment. The reader should keep in mind that I once ate one our dog’s peanut butter flavored biscuits because I was hungry. I was not enthralled with the dog biscuit, by the way. Although I finished the dog biscuit.  No point leaving a half-eaten one around, right? In any case, the scones had great texture.

Now for flavor. I’ll be the first to admit I like my food well-seasoned, just on the mild side of spicy. I am no fan of low-sodium entrees. When/if I get even older and must cut my sodium intake, I intend to go on a salt-filled orgy of over-seasoning that will kill me and cause my coffin hinges to rust. Anyway. The recipe for these scones lacked seasoning in my opinion. Specifically salt. Whatever the recipe called for should be increased slightly. Perhaps teaspoons were bigger in 1929. Or maybe the salt was better before the Stock Market Crash of 1929 devalued it.

In any case, these scones needed more salt. That would have helped them A LOT, in this reviewer’s opinion. The cranberries and chocolate helped add some nice touches of flavor. Whether they are eaten with tea or coffee, the hot beverage will work well with these. It would work better with some salt, of course. Yes, you could add salt to the finished scone with a shaker. As if it was an ear of corn. You’re not supposed to shake salt on scones. This is why Starbucks does not have salt shakers on the tables.

And if they did, they’d probably charge $2 a shake.  That’s Starbucks for ya.  “Barrista“….   Yeah, right.  It’s just A CASHIER WHO MAKES COFFEE, people…

 

Hmmmm........ I wonder if it's too late to put it back...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall rating: 3-1/2 happy faces; more salt would have added a whole happy face:

 

 

 

 

Well, we are on to week #2. This week’s recipe is for scones. I figured this should be a piece of cake…… no pun intended. With so few ingredients, how can I mess up? Let me count the ways…..

So I gathered all the ingredients I would need….. twice, because I forget eggs in the first pic…. and was ready to go. I read the recipe over so there would be no mistakes. (The full recipe is also at the end, because I can’t figure out how to work this stupid WordPress stuff. Ugh!)

I decided to add in Craisins and mini-chocolate chips, because I wanted them to have some extra flavor.

I mixed all the dry ingredients and cut in the shortening. So far, so good!

The next step was to whip the eggs – and it turns out they mean with a beater and not a real whip, so that trip to the bedroom was wasted – and I enjoyed this part immensely. Next the milk is added to the eggs…..

And then it is added to the dry ingredients and mixed in.

When it forms a dough, it is time to put it on a lightly floured surface.

I can’t believe it – this is so easy! I divided the dough into thirds. Time to flatten out each one into a circle, and then I will cut it into quarters. Maybe there is hope for me after all.

It is almost time to cut and bake. How Exciting! Now this is the part where your husband comes in to see what is going on and says, “Where are the chocolate chips and craisins? When do you add them in?”

So then you take the two balls and the circle and throw it back in the bowl and try again.

A little overmixing never hurt anything, right?

This time I mixed the dough with my hands, to get rid of some of my tension. I formed three balls……. again……..

I am more experienced this time. Don’t they look better? Just say yes…. please?

Flattened into a perfect circle, because I had extra practice, remember?

Look at those quarters! Amazing, huh? Time to go on the lightly greased baking sheet. Finally.

I brushed them with milk….. which was good, because at this point, I had drank all the wine coolers.

Sprinkled with sugar, they are finally ready to bake. Into the oven for about 25 minutes. That seems like a long time to stare into the oven.

They seem to look okay.

Certainly not as pretty as the ones you buy, but that is fine with me. These ones have sweat in them.

After tasting one, I would also add in a teaspoon of maybe orange or almond extract. I didn’t keel over and no one had to be rushed to the hospital, so at my house, that makes it a recipe I may do again.   At my age, my motto is “Eh, that’s good enough”.

So after a few days, it turns out the biscuits were too dry cough, cough for me to eat. Jon suggested writing ‘NHL’ on each one. Trying to do a good thing, I put them out in the backyard. I figured the wildlife could use some extra food during the long winter.


.


Well, it turns out the squirrels in the neighborhood can be very cruel heartless SUPER MEAN. When I came home, this is what I found by my front door.





I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. AJ, the dog, didn’t want them either. He said his dental plan wasn’t good enough to cover the damage. Wise ass.

Tomorrow’s baking challenge will be scones. I’ll see ya back here then. :-)

I went to a book sale and saw a book written in 1929 called, “Anyone Can Bake”. I know I wasn’t even born then, but I figured they must have known I was coming and wrote this with me in mind. Since I am not one to walk away from a challenge, I bought the book and will take the next year to prove them wrong.

Each week I will attempt a new recipe and then blog about what happened. Jon will add his two cents. And at the end of the year, I’m pretty sure the book will have to change its name.

I began with the first, and easiest, master recipe in the book, ‘Baking Powder Biscuits’. Five ingredients. How hard can this be?

After gathering all the ingredients…… (wow, am I exhausted)….. I was excited to get started. I tried to follow the recipe exactly. First I carefully measured out all the dry ingredients.

Then it was time to add in the milk and make a smooth ball. First problem – the dough is too dry. Second problem – my ball isn’t smooth. But I am not a quitter and will continue on…..

I flatten the dough and realize there is no way I am going to get fourteen biscuits out of this. Rather than using a biscuit cutter, I will use a tiny juice glass to cut out the biscuits….. and still don’t end up with fourteen. Oh, well…..

After all that, I have eleven teeny biscuits ready to bake. Since I am scared to turn my oven up to 475 degrees because I don’t want my dishwasher to melt (long story), I set it to 450 degrees and figure that is good enough.

After twelve minutes of staring into the oven, my baby biscuits are ready! Lets take a look, shall we?

They don’t look like the biscuits you get in a restaurant….. at least not any one you’d go back to.

Well, they taste okay but they aren’t pretty. I think I’ll give this one to me. So, week one leaves me as the victor. What will week two hold?

Hey, I saved you a biscuit. Dig in!

The Twelve Menopausal Days Of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas,
my true love said to me
“You have one chin hair”.

On the second day of Christmas,
my true love said to me
“You have one chin hair”,
Plus I tripped over my nipples twice.

On the third day of Christmas,
my true love said to me
“You have one chin hair”,
Plus I tripped over my nipples twice,
And I discovered three sets of car keys in the fridge.

On the fourth day of Christmas,
my true love said to me
“You have one chin hair”,
Plus I tripped over my nipples twice,
I discovered three sets of car keys in the fridge,
And I washed my hair four times because I couldn’t remember if I had just done it.

On the fifth day of Christmas,
my true love said to me
“You have one chin hair”,
Plus I tripped over my nipples twice,
I discovered three sets of car keys in the fridge,
I washed my hair four times because I couldn’t remember if I had just done it,
And I put on five pairs of pants until I found a pair I could zip up.

On the sixth day of Christmas,
my true love said to me
“You have one chin hair”,
Plus I tripped over my nipples twice,
I discovered three sets of car keys in the fridge,
I washed my hair four times because I couldn’t remember if I had just done it,
I put on five pairs of pants until I found a pair I could zip up,
And I had six people tell me I am too old for ‘Hottie’ shorts.

On the seventh day of Christmas,
my true love said to me
“You have one chin hair”,
Plus I tripped over my nipples twice,
I discovered three sets of car keys in the fridge,
I washed my hair four times because I couldn’t remember if I had just done it,
I put on five pairs of pants until I found a pair I could zip up,
I had six people tell me I am too old for ‘Hottie’ shorts,
And I counted seven new varicose veins.

On the eighth day of Christmas,
my true love said to me
“You have one chin hair”,
Plus I tripped over my nipples twice,
I discovered three sets of car keys in the fridge,
I washed my hair four times because I couldn’t remember if I had just done it,
I put on five pairs of pants until I found a pair I could zip up,
I had six people tell me I am too old for ‘Hottie’ shorts,
I counted seven new varicose veins,
And I walked into a room eight times and didn’t know why.

On the ninth day of Christmas,
my true love said to me
“You have one chin hair”,
Plus I tripped over my nipples twice,
I discovered three sets of car keys in the fridge,
I washed my hair four times because I couldn’t remember if I had just done it,
I put on five pairs of pants until I found a pair I could zip up,
I had six people tell me I am too old for ‘Hottie’ shorts,
I counted seven new varicose veins,
I walked into a room eight times and didn’t know why,
And I had to pee nine times in one hour.

On the tenth day of Christmas,
my true love said to me
“You have one chin hair”,
Plus I tripped over my nipples twice,
I discovered three sets of car keys in the fridge,
I washed my hair four times because I couldn’t remember if I had just done it,
I put on five pairs of pants until I found a pair I could zip up,
I had six people tell me I am too old for ‘Hottie’ shorts,
I counted seven new varicose veins,
I walked into a room eight times and didn’t know why,
I had to pee nine times in one hour,
And I ate ten pieces of chocolate cheesecake.

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
my true love said to me
“You have one chin hair”,
Plus I tripped over my nipples twice,
I discovered three sets of car keys in the fridge,
I washed my hair four times because I couldn’t remember if I had just done it,
I put on five pairs of pants until I found a pair I could zip up,
I had six people tell me I am too old for ‘Hottie’ shorts,
I counted seven new varicose veins,
I walked into a room eight times and didn’t know why,
I had to pee nine times in one hour,
I ate ten pieces of chocolate cheesecake,
And I had eleven hormonal rages.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my true love said to me
“You have one chin hair”,
Plus I tripped over my nipples twice,
I discovered three sets of car keys in the fridge,
I washed my hair four times because I couldn’t remember if I had just done it,
I put on five pairs of pants until I found a pair I could zip up,
I had six people tell me I am too old for ‘Hottie’ shorts,
I counted seven new varicose veins,
I walked into a room eight times and didn’t know why,
I had to pee nine times in one hour,
I ate ten pieces of chocolate cheesecake,
I had eleven hormonal rages,
And I’ll be eligible for parole in twelve years.