Saturday, December 9, 2017

Cookie Bars

Eleven years ago this month, when I'd been writing for just a couple weeks, I posted a recipe for Magic Cookie Bars. As delicious as they taste, I don't make them very often because they stick to the pan. They've cracked and broken as I've tried to remove them. But from watching the British cooking shows, The Great British Bake Off and The Big Family Cooking Showdown I've learned about parchment paper.

I've owned some for ages but used it for only a roasted potatoes dish. Why haven't I tried it for brownies, etc.? I have no idea.

This recipe is a variation on the one I posted. You may find it here. I chose to not use any nuts, and honestly we like the taste better.

First line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper. I cut off the excess.

Melt 3/4 cup butter on low temperature.

While it is melting, put one packet of graham crackers

in a plastic bag and roll them out to make crumbs.

Mix the crumbs with the melted butter and put in pan. Pour over the top one 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk.

Mix together 1 1/3 cups of chocolate chips with 1 1/3 cups coconut. I've begun using Guittard because of the non-GMO lecithin and the fair trade cocoa. Plus, they are delicious. I'd only heard of Ghiradelli but this is another San Francisco company that has been around for ages.

Sprinkle the chips and coconut mixture on top of the condensed milk.

Bake in a pre-heated 350Âș f. oven for 25-30 minutes.

I made these for Hazel and Tom's 4th and 67th birthdays this year, and they were much loved by all!

Just to be sure they were good before posting the recipe, I made them a couple other times lately!!

To have some food fun, visit Weekend Cooking this week and every week!

Friday, December 8, 2017

All the Books of 2017

I saw this on a fellow blogger's instagram, and was immediately interested.

I thought I'd do a few days at a time.

1. My first book of the year was Dead Sand, the first in the Lewis Cole series by Brendan DuBois. I wrote a bit about this series here. I love these books. I love the way the author writes. Pure pleasure reading them.

2. I don't jot down the number of pages in the books I read so I'm not positive, but I think the Little Book of Hygge was probably the shortest.

3. I can't really answer in the 'best sequel' category because I read so many series books. I'm always reading a sequel it seems, and I like them all so much that I continue on.

4. My favorite cover is the book I'm reading right now.

It is a photograph done by Keystone-France/Gamma Rapho. It is such a beautiful view of Paris where this collection of Christmas stories is set.

5. Ah, new to me favorite authors. Such a good year for this category. Brendan DuBois, Natasha Solomons, Josephine Tey, and Basil Thomson.

6. A tie for beautifully written book - one fiction, The Song of Hartgrove Hall by Natasha Solomons and one nonfiction, The Perfect Summer 1911, Just Before the Storm by Juliet Nicolson.

7. New favorite characters would have to be Lewis Cole and Inspector Richardson in the Brendan DuBois and Basil Thomson books.

8. I reread two books. Battles at Thrush Green by Miss Read and A Rumpole Christmas by John Mortimer. These are two of my all time favorite authors and it is always a joy to reread any of their books.

I'll come back and do the rest in a later post.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

She likes the vac!

I'm very happy with my new Shark vacuum!

1. Even though I thought I wanted bags, I'm loving the ease of emptying the bagless vacuum. I couldn't change the bag in my old one. It was too complicated for me, so Tom did it. Also, no more expense for bags. I usually used one+ every time I vacuumed.

2. Hose is softer and more pliable than my old one.

3. Controls are simple and clear, and not many of them. In fact, the whole design is simple.

4. Easy to change it from doing bare floors to rugs.

5. Much lighter to carry up the stairs.

6. It is noisy, but I expect it has to be to be able to pick up dirt. Suction is good.

So, a great success!

Monday, December 4, 2017

The chosen vacuum

This is what I ordered today after reading your comments, and reading many reviews on the internet. I'll report back when I've tried it out. It is still a minor miracle to me that I can click a button and in two days a new vacuum will arrive at Windy Poplars Farm.

Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Canister Vacuum (NR96)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Back again asking for vacuum recommendations

I first asked you about vacuums 7 1/2 years ago! Here is the post. Then I bought one, which I wrote about here. Well, I can't tell you exactly how long that vac lasted but I do know that we've had three or four more since then.They break, they don't work, blah, blah, blah. I can't remember all the companies.

I am 7 1/2 years older and and more tired. I hate hauling out the vacuum and dragging it around for hours. I am not an everyday vacuum-er. I like to do it once a week and be done.

I want a light vacuum.

I want a quiet one.

I want bags. I've tried the bagless kind and emptying them was a huge mess.

I want a canister. I can't lift the uprights.

I have a yellow Labrador retriever - the 365/24/7 shedder! As long as we are healthy, this is the only breed we ever want despite that one little problem! So, I need a really tough vacuum.

I am willing to spend the big bucks if all my criteria are met.

Many commenters on the earlier post recommended Dyson, but I've read negative things about that brand, too. I expect there are new models that have come on the market. I've been all over the internet and have some ideas, but I would really like it if you could tell me what you have (and love and hate).

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. And sorry to bother you yet again!

If I sound agitated, that's because I am. Yet another vac went kaput today.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Stillmeadow - November

I've embarked on a year long reading adventure - Gladys Taber's The Book of Stillmeadow.

It is set up in monthly chapters, and that's how I'm going to read the book. I did much the same thing in 2011-2012 when I wrote about a book by Gladys and another by Rachel Peden. You may find those posts under A Year with Gladys and Rachel.

The book begins in November. Though so many people don't care for this month, it is one of my favorite times of year. I like the opening up of the woods, the quiet, the early darkness. Outdoor work isn't calling me and I can focus more on the inside, both of the house and my own inner self. It is a time for reflection.

I'm reading a 1984 reissue copy of The Book of Stillmeadow. It was originally published in 1948. The copyrights listed go from 1937 through 1947.

There is an introduction telling the reader how Gladys Taber ended up at this old farm in Connecticut that she named Stillmeadow. It's a lovely name, don't you think?

I've always loved books about city people who pull up stakes and move to the country to make a life there. Mostly they don't have a clue what they're doing, and yet they daily come to learn all they need to know. I believe the first series of books I read about this was Derek Tangye's books about moving to the Cornish coast and growing flowers. I mentioned him in one of my early postings. If you've not heard of him, this is a good starting place, and there's a wonderful Facebook page.

Gladys and her friend, called Jill in the books, were both married with children and living in New York City apartments when they began to dream about a place in the country. They thought at first that it would be a weekend place, but it became their life and the source of Gladys' many writings over the years.
I began to keep a kind of diary the year we found Stillmeadow. There were so many things we wanted not to forget and the family liked a journal to refer to. Sometimes it was recipes, directions for doing over the old furniture we had bought at the auction, notes about the puppies. And sometimes it was my own thoughts, a record of country living. It turned out to be a kind of potpourri of happenings at Stillmeadow.
And after nine years, it was filling so many scrapbooks that the cupboard was full. So I made a selection of the parts that would represent our life in the country and copied it out - a staggering task.
And now we have the Book of Stillmeadow.
As she begins the November entry, I was rather amazed to read something quite similar to what I wrote in my very first blog post. Had I read it in another Gladys' book, or did I come up with that thought myself??
At night, little faraway houses, never seen in summer, suddenly prick the dark with their lamps. 
She writes, "All the browns, a thousand browns, come out. Rust-brown, sand-brown, topaz-brown, and the faded gold of harvest fields." And she notes that in her Connecticut hills, "This is a peaceful, serene land, and never quite so peaceful as now, with the crops in, wood piled high, houses snugged down, brooks running slow with leaves. The days grow shorter. Dusk comes before we are finished with the day."

I think that's it. With all our capabilities and determination, we are still ruled by the natural world at least to some extent. I rather love it that I am not in charge of how long the daylight lasts. Even with a headlamp, or barn lights, you aren't going to pile wood. You are stopped. If we give November a chance, it can change us in profound ways by giving us the opportunity to look deep and maybe change some things that need to be changed. Things we don't even think about when the sun shines and "the livin' is easy."

In all her writings Gladys moves back and forth from her own personal world to the world at large. When she watched the sun going down,
My heart got to aching for all the sad people all over the world. I wanted so terribly to share the color and the peace and the serene fall of evening and the clean cold air coming up from the water. And I wanted families together, going quietly home at night. This, I thought, is what we must have in this world again, somehow. Not power and glory, not magnificence. Only freedom for folk to work and be at peace in their own lands.
She warns against "things."
Happiness is not upholstered in velvet, nor lighted by the push of a button. If we start a new wild scramble for material luxury, we shall begin a toboggan slide to destruction. I do believe in pleasant living, as much as our means afford - but I wish we could chart a modest course between overelegance and simplicity.
All these decades later and we are still striving. As the Talking Heads wrote, "Same as it ever was." Gladys Taber is a woman for all seasons and all ages. Her words are as meaningful today as when she wrote them. She offers solace and hope to the reader by showing us her deep and basic humanity, and her knowledge of what is important.
The house was warm and inviting when we got home, and smelled of bayberry and burning apple wood. And white moonlight began to sift through the windows. This time of year has so much comfort in it, when all is said and done. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Quote du jour/Nadiya Hussain

I've been greatly enjoying The Big Family Cooking Showdown on Netflix. In a episode I saw last evening, there were two great quotes from Nadiya Hussain who is a presenter. You may remember she won The Great British Bake Off in 2015.

"Oh, my God, mashed potato is my favorite thing in the whole wide world."
"I would rather have a baby than make soufflé."
Nadiya Hussain

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