This summer has been filled with visits to and from friends, both old and new (have I mentioned I love that about retirement!) Last weekend, Mr. A. and I hopped into the car and drove through monsoon rain to reunite with friends from our "college days." We've been talking about a reunion for...hang on here folks...over 42 years! So, when Mr. A received his All-Greek Reunion postcard last Christmas, I decided it was now or never. I grabbed the bull by the horns, emailed Jane, Mary and Rosa, made Hotel Reservations and eagerly awaited our long talked about reunion. We were not disappointed! It was as if we hadn't missed a beat since our conversations ended so many years ago. We laughed till we cried...and then laughed some more. The fifth member of our group, Susie, had passed away in 2004, yet she was so very much a part of each story told that we felt she was with us in spirit.
We all did our best to bring everyone up to date on our lives since we'd parted and made a pact, henceforth, to meet at least once a year. So, stay tuned!
...our lives are filled with them. Some are big...some are small...some are happy and some are not. Last week I watched as our first grandchild strapped on his backpack, hugged his brothers and his dog and headed off to SCHOOL! A huge, happy, milestone for him...and a happy/sad one for those of us who have fussed over him, watched him learn to walk, talk and develop into his own little man. ...Oh, the places he will go!
This summer has been filled with some big milestones. My Medicare card arrived along with my 65th birthday. That word, Medicare, always conjured up visions of old old, white haired folks shuffling through their day while waiting for their social security checks to arrive. Don't get me wrong...I'm grateful as all get out for my Medicare coverage ad my social security checks. I just can't quite believe I've reached that age! For the most part I'm still, say, age 32! Somewhere between 32 and 65, I raised a family, several dogs, one cat, and one husband! To say time has flown by is an understatement!
I LOVE breakfast...could eat it three times a day! One of our favorite breakfast restaurants, Ovens of Brittany, made an out of this world morning bun that made your mouth water just looking at it. They were in business for a long time but, sadly, closed their doors several years back. You know how every once in a while you get a craving for something you used to eat? Well, every so often I would crave their morning buns. Then, one day, while reading the newspaper...there it was...the Ovens Of Brittany Morning Bun recipe! It's rather time consuming...but worth every minute! I won't even tell you how many calories and fat are in each bun....let's just say....a lot!
Ovens of Brittany Morning
4-½ Cups warm water 1 1/3 Tbsp dry active yeast 2-½ Tbsp sugar ½ Cup dry milk solids 1 1/3 Tbsp salt 9 1/3 Cups unbleached white flour plus ½ Cup, divided 1 pound unsalted butter
Combine warm water, yeast and sugar in a 5-quart mixer. Let yeast become activated and foam,
then add the milk solids, sale and 9 1/3 cups flour. Mix with dough hook until flour is just incorporated. Avoid over mixing as that causes rapid
toughening of dough. Place dough
mixture in airtight container (a 2.5-gallon plastic container with lid is
perfect) with room for rising, and refrigerate at 38 to 40 degrees for 12 to 24
hours, punching down occasionally if dough rises too much.
Roll butter into dough: Place 1 pound unsalted butter into 5-quart mixer. Mix with paddle dough hook, gradually
adding remaining ½ cup flour. Mix
until butter is moderately soft but not creamy in texture. Too soft butter will not layer properly
Remove dough from refrigerator and turn out onto well-floured
surface. Spread dough with hands
into a 6 by 8-inch rectangle. Shape soft butter into 3 x 4 inch rectangle. Place butter in middle of dough. Envelope butter with dough, bringing
dough from sides into middle without overlapping; then dough from top and
bottom into middle, again without overlapping. Press envelope of dough down evenly with hands, preserving
Set aside to rest 15 to 20 minutes (you may want to
refrigerate the dough during the first rest period if butter is very soft.)
Turn envelope of dough and butter onto its “tummy” with
seams down. Using a large rolling
pin, roll rectangle of dough down to 3/8 to ½-inch thickness uniformly. Fold in thirds.
Turn the dough 90 degrees and place seams down on your
rolling surface to rest 15 to 20 minutes more. Finally roll dough down again to 3/8 to 1/2-inch
thickness. Place in large
2.5-gallon covered plastic container, carefully preserving its folded
shape. Refrigerate 12 to 14 hours,
again at 38 to 40 degrees.
1 tsp. beaten egg mixed with 1/3 Cup water 1 pound brown sugar mixed with 2-½ tsp cinnamon 1 pound granulated sugar mixed with 2 ¼ Tbsp cinnamon Butter for greasing muffin tins
Roll croissant dough into rectangle 12 inches wide and
1/8-inch thick. Relax by lifting
with hands and let it contract on table surface. Length of dough determines the number of morning buns
Wet exposed surface lightly with mixture of egg and water.
Spread brown sugar and cinnamon mixture (2 ½ tsp cinnamon to 1 pound brown sugar) over entire surface of dough.
Note: Too much
moisture from either water or melting brown sugar can overwhelm the dough
during the baking process. Water
mixture is only to help sugar and cinnamon adhere to dough. The butter in the dough will melt into
Crimp long edge of dough closest to you as you begin to roll
this dough up like a jellyroll into a tube. After having rolled your tube of dough, cut off slices
2-inches wide or to stand above your greased muffin pans by ¼ to ½-inch when
placing them in cut side down.
Bake immediately or refrigerate overnight before
baking. Bake in a 350-degree oven
for 35 to 50 minutes or until puffed and dark brown. Check for doneness in center of buns. They should spring back.
Garnish buns by rolling them in white sugar and cinnamon (1
pound granulated sugar to 2 ¼ Tbsp of cinnamon.)
Serve warm within 4 hours, or freeze immediately to serve
warm later. Makes 24 Morning Buns.
I spent four days up north visiting friends this summer. Since I hate to arrive empty handed I brought along Barefoot Contessa Outrageous Brownies (yes...they ARE OUTRAGEOUS) and Cowboy Caviar. I have no idea why it's called Cowboy Caviar...the beans perhaps? Both were a huge hit. You can find the Outrageous brownie recipe on the Barefoot Contessa website. Thought you'd enjoy the Cowboy Caviar recipe too.
1 Can black beans, drained
1 Can Black-eyed peas, drained
1 Can whole kernel corn, drained
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
Handful of cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 Cup olive oil
3/4 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup cider vinegar
Biol oil, sugar and vinegar for three minutes. Cool. Mix dressing with vegetables. The longer it marinates the better it tastes. Serve with scoops
I tried Dragon Wing Begonia in the window box this year...with great success. This is s shady location until later in the day so not everything will flourish. Dragon Wing Begonia's have never failed to perform. And, combined with sweet potato vines, I'd say it's a winner!
Wait...what's that I see in the window? Why...it's Gracie...
Had a complaint from a loyal follower (love all 9 of you guys). A one word comment: "....yawn." I get it....you want more, interesting, exciting posts. Well...here it is! Mr. A has purchased a Honda Metropolitan scooter! Now....Mike wants one too!
I'm off to buy lots of bandages and antibiotic cream! Stay tuned!
I'm officially a card carrying Medicare member! It was another scorching hot birthday but we didn't let that stop us from having a fun afternoon. Carrie brought the boys over and Mike and Kim came home in time to have some water fun on the Slip N Slide!
I made my mother's Chocolate Angel Food Cake (can you see where little fingers just had to taste the frosting?) Since it's such a delicious cake I thought I'd share the recipe.
Chocolate Angel Food Cake
3/4 Cups sugar
3/4 Cup cake flour
1/3 Cup cocoa
12 egg whites (at room temperature)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tarter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Cup sugar
In a separate bowl, sift together sugar, cake flour and cocoa mixture 3 times.
Using the wire wisk attachment on your electric mixer, beat the egg whites, salt, cream of tarter and vanilla to a foam using high speed. Add 1 cup of sugar in a slow steady stream. Reduce speed to medium and continue mixing until whites form soft peaks. Remove bowl from mixer. Fold sugar/flour mixture into egg whites. Pour into an ungreased angel food cake pan.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 35 minutes. Invert pan to cool.
Beat 1 Cup butter (room temperature) and 1 Cup powdered Sugar until creamy.
In separate pan, melt 2 squares of unsweetened chocolate on low heat. Add 1/4 cup sugar and stir to combine. Add 4 room temperature egg yokes (be sure to temper the yokes before adding to chocolate and sugar). Cook this mixture slowly until it begins to thicken. Remove from heat to cool. Combine with butter and powdered sugar mixture.
Beat 4 egg whites to firm peaks (I substitute meringue powder for egg whites for safety).
Fold egg whites into cooled chocolate mixture.
Frost cake..REFRIGERATE until ready to serve. Yum!
As I take my daily walks I'm trying to be more, well... "present." Deepak Chopra, a pioneer in the field of mind-body medicine, says its important. The bottom line is...it's all about spiritual wellness. For a good part of my life I haven't been "present." I was either worrying about something that's already happened or wondering about the something that might happen in the future. So, I've been taking my camera along for my walks and I snapped a few "present" shots of one of our oak trees as it began to leaf out this spring. I wondered just HOW the leaves developed so I took a few progression shots. They're such magnificent trees, some of them probably over a hundred years old. Yet, every year with the advent of spring, they renew the cycle of life by shooting out thousands of leaves and acorns. I love my oak trees...
When the local garden center had their end of season sale last year, we purchased two very sad looking peony plants. The price was so good we couldn't pass them up. Our hope was that one of them might survive. To our surprise, they both came up this spring and each plant had 5 or 6 huge, pink flowers. I love peonies but I don't love the ants that come with them. So, after a bit of research I decided to try submerging the entire cutting in water for 20 minutes to see if I could get rid of the ants. I needed something heavy to weight down the cuttings and, well, Mr. A's beer bottles fit the bill. Apparently commercial growers harvest the peonies when the buds are soft like marshmallows to avoid the ant problem. Ill remember that next year!
Carrie and the boys are staying with us this week while their bathroom is being remodeled. Since the weather is so nice, we decided to try making a water pillow. What's that you ask? Well.....buy a roll of plastic...preferably 3.5 ml or better. Open it up, fold it in half, seal the sides with duct tape, leaving a small opening to fill with water...add three kids to bounce, roll and fall all over it and you've got a recipe for a great time!
P.S....I must caution those that might choose to make a water pillow to be sure and put it on LEVEL GROUND....otherwise you will find your water pillow...and children...rolling down hill...seeking level ground.
I found these beautiful dishes while shopping at one of my favorite resale stores a few weeks ago. They're made by Johnson Brothers and the pattern is "Friendly Village." Though I saw no dinner plates, there were 8 salad plates and 8 desert plates. I think they will mix nicely this Easter with my mother's creamy Wedgewood.
I know the Holiday Season is long gone and, instead of thinking about snowmen and Christmas trees we're thinking of daffodils and tulips, but these poinsettia just keep on giving! Bought them last November for $10 a piece. Best $20 investment I've made in a long time!
Miss Gracie has doubled in size...weighing in at 20 lbs. She's turning out to be a wonderful addition to the family. Mr. A is working hard on obedience training and they both attend puppy class (graduation is tonight). She loves this warm weather and spends a good portion of her day chasing oak leaves and waddling through the tiny creek that runs through the property...which has precipitated the bath Mr. A gave her this morning! We were thrilled when she figured out she should jingle the bells on the front door when she needed to go outside. However...she's also figured out she gets to go out WHENEVER she wants by simply jingling those bells! Wonder who is training who?
What to do on a snowy day.....? Why, polish the silver (seems silly to polish the silver because I rarely use it, but I did), make pumpkin muffins....oh, and take Miss Gracie to the vet for more shots. Shy as she is, she did quite well. She loves the vet techs to death. But then who wouldn't when they ply her with treats! While Gracie took a long nap, I made Martha Stewart's pumpkin muffins. Here's the recipe so you can enjoy some too.
10 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup of brown sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 can (15oz) pumpkin purée
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 stick melted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
In mixer, Beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, allspice. In separate bowl combine buttermilk and pumpkin purée. Add dry mixture alternately with pumpkin mixture. Spoon batter into greased and floured muffin tin. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool on rack for 10 minutes. In the meantime, melt the 1/2 stick butter and combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Brush with melted butter and toss in sugar/cinnamon mixture.
WELCOME! My husband and I are the parents of two grown children and grandparents of three ADORABLE grandsons. We've just retired and built our "cottage in the woods" so please idle awhile and I'll take you along for the ride!