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Best New ‘Guy’ Gadget

bearatpondbearwithleaves

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If I didn’t know better, I’d think it was already October.

 

The front yard is  covered in leaves.   Went out Sunday afternoon and did a ‘little’ raking.   It was incredible how many leaves had fallen.  At this rate, the tree should be bare in a couple of weeks.

 

And you can see, that our Bear-doggie still enjoys drinking from his personal fountain.  The goldfish don’t seem to mind.

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Raked the somewhat wet leaves (makes raking easier)  into a long pile since I couldn’t push them any higher. Now all I have to do is move  them to the burn pile outside the fence.  Should take a few days to get that done.   Only good thing about this is that is maybe I’ll get finished with raking a little earlier this year.

 

mushrooms1

 

In addition to the leaves, there seems to be an over abundance of mushrooms. They are everywhere thanks to all the rain we’ve been getting.  Some of them I’ve not seen before and found a patch of them growing on a clump of pine needles.  On second thought, maybe they were just poking through??

 

mushrooms2

 

dentastixPretty uneventful week for us. Did take Bear to visit the Tractor Supply, his favorite store as you know.    Time to stock up on chow and grab a bag of treats.  He likes the Dentastix.  Didn’t know until comparing prices that they can be purchased on Amazon at a significantly lower price.  But then we find almost everything we want is less expensive on Amazon  . . . don’t like the word ‘cheaper’ although it fits, to my brain  seems to imply poor quality.

 

Signed up to have the Dentastix delivered monthly and now instead of paying over $14.00 for a box of 32 at the store we get them for under $8.00 for a box of 32 on Amazon by signing up for the monthly subscription.   Saving $6.00 a month makes me smile  🙂  and the monthly delivery will save me having to make a trip just so he doesn’t run out.

 

May be doing some of my Christmas shopping early this year. Saw the most ingenious gadget this weekend.  For those that have men in their life that like to work with wood,  build, repair or just putter –  this little Lumber Lockgadget makes cutting a piece of wood simple.  And, if you get two of them you can have a bench – albeit a little short.

 

trivice_wood

 

In addition to the Lumber Lock for wood, there is also a companion gadget (Tri Vise) for cutting pipe or round bits of wood, metal, PVC, etc. Another great idea !

 

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We’ve got lots of doctor appointments next few weeks – Sigh, so think I’ll be looking for some new, easy recipes to have on hand.  If I find anything extra-special, I’ll be sure to share !

 

Netflix – Secret Category Codes

littlebarnroofTaking advantage of the sunshine today to get a few chores outside done. Mainly, laundry.  I prefer to hang my clothes outside if at all possible but all of the rain has put me way behind.  So  got up early to try and get a couple of loads finished before the afternoon rains hit.  May just make it.  (Hear it’s supposed to get cooler too.)

 

Next chore, which I actually did late yesterday afternoon, was to replace a couple of the shingles that had slid down off the little red barn. We were concerned that a leak might develop.   Truly, have to say that was more of a major project since I DO NOT like getting more than 3 steps up on a ladder.  And climbing around on the roof is not my idea of fun.   Find it amazing the things one can do when they have no choice.

 

Fortunately, there is a flat roof covering the area between what we call the ‘little barn’ and the garage so I had a good, flat surface to work from – once I got up there. Took all my repair stuff with me in a bag and when on the access portion of the roof, did a ‘duck walk’ to the spot needing attention.  Felt uncomfortable standing up walking around.

 

flexsealUsed a stapler to put the shingles back then covered them (and the shingle edges) with some Flex Seal Clear . . . like you see on TV.  Once everything was back in place, carefully climbed down.  Haven’t any idea what Bear thought was going on but the whole time I was up there, he was going nuts barking and jumping around the back yard.

 

You’ve heard the old question, ‘if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?’ Well, in my opinion, the answer would be ‘yes’.  We were taking one of our daily walks and heard a strange sound coming from the woods.  Started out soft and slow, increasing in volume and speed.  Had us stopped in our tracks . . . just knew some sort of animal was going to come barreling at us any minute.  But, when we heard a large crack,  had to think that a dead tree fell.   We never did see anything – the woods are too thick.  Maybe this fall when all the leaves are gone we can see which tree fell – not that it makes any difference at all.

 

feralhogTaking a break on the deck early one evening, saw what we thought was a black dog on the drive. Oh, but wait, here come more black dogs.  Not.   It was a whole pack (or whatever they call a bunch of hogs)  running out of the woods across the property.  From what we could see,  looked like a couple of adults and a whole slew of little ones.  Must have twenty or so in total.    Hope they keep going.  The amount of damage these feral hogs  can do to a property is staggering.

 

 

 

Bread Tip:

You may find that this works for you . . . or maybe not since I’ve only tried it once with this particular type of bread. Had bought quite a few loaves of the Miss Claudia’s French bread –  David loves it –  and froze it.  However, the last time I baked it, seemed to have come out on the dry side and we didn’t really enjoy it.    So this week when I wanted to bake some to go with our spaghetti, did something different.  Thought to myself, since it was dry maybe it needed moisture  i.e., water?

 

missclaudiabread

 

To fix this, put the defrosted bread loaves under running water. Guess you could say I rinsed them off.  Baked them as usual, and to my surprise, they came out  completely tender and delicious.  No hard ends and no dried out center.  Tasted like fresh bread that hadn’t been frozen.    This will definitely be my way to prepare them in the future.

 

Secret Categories – Netflix

netflixYou may have already heard that Netflix has hidden categories that you can search for movies and TV shows by genre identification number. (News to me)     Know when we’re scrolling through the titles  seems like there should be more . . . right?  Well this link will take you to the list of secret categories   http://netflixcodes.me/.

 

From there, you can click on various topics – some even have sub-categories – and peruse many more movies and tv shows available.    Obviously, it goes without saying that you need to have a Netflix account to do this.  Know I’ll be spending some time searching for titles we might like to add to our list.

 

For a print out of all the categories along with their identification number , visit this link: http://mashable.com/2016/01/11/netflix-search-codes/#byuUNU1OiZqk

 

Once you have the id number, you can easily replace it in the address line using this address to search:   https://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/1365 – where the 1365 would be replaced with the code you get from the link above.  Seems like it would be easier and I love easy !

 

Torte Cake & Pencil Cake Recipes

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We have the best neighbors in the country. Our neighbor’s son came a couple of days ago and cut all our hay.  He did such a beautiful job, looked like artwork in the field with all the swirls and curves.

 

Hear we’re supposed to get rain next few days – that will be a nice change as it is also going to drop the temperatures into the high 80’s. We’ve been over 100 all week.  In fact, at 6pm yesterday it was 103.  That’s too much even for this Texan.

 

Now, for those recipes. Haven’t made either one, but they do look like they would be delicious . . . especially the torte one.  Of course, I would do some of it differently. . .  like put frosting as the top layer instead of the pudding.

 

Both of these are from a Duncan Hines (DH) recipe booklet; so all you need do is get a couple of cake mixes plus a few extras and you’ll have two eye-catching cakes.

Ribbon Torte

(12-16 servings)

 

torteIngredients

  • 1 package DH Deluxe Fudge Marble Cake Mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil (or butter)
  • 1-1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 package (4-serving size)chocolate instant pudding

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease & flour two 8 x 1-1/2 –  or  – 9 x 1-1/2 round pans
  3. Combine dry cake mix, eggs, oil and water in large bowl. Mix as directed on package but DO NOT add contents of small package.
  4. Turn half of batter (about 2-1/2 cups) into one pan
  5. Blend contents of small packet into remaining batter and turn into other pan
  6. Bake and cool layers as directed on package
  7. Chill cooled layers to make splitting easier. Split into thin layers **
  8. Whip cream until stiff. Blend in milk and pudding mix.  Let sit 1 minute.
  9. Place one chocolate layer on plate; spread 1/4 pudding mixture over layer. Top with remaining layers, alternating light and dark layers and spreading the pudding mixture between each layer.
  10. Frost top layer with pudding mixture.
  11. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

** Cut tops off before splitting to level each cake. This will make the cake easier to ‘stack’.

 

For those with little ones returning to school, this cake looks like it would be fun to make.

Pencil Cake

pencilcake(12-16 servings)

Ingredients

  • 1 package DH cake mix (any flavor)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil (or butter)
  • 1-1/2 cup water
  • 5 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 cup Crisco shortening
  • 1/3 cup non-dairy creamer
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Food coloring – red and yellow
  • Chocolate jimmies

Directions

Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan
  2. Combine dry cake mix, eggs and amount of water & oil as directed on package
  3. Pour batter into pan and bake according to package directions
  4. Allow cake to cool

pencilcake_2Frosting

  1. Combine confectioners’ sugar, shortening, non-dairy creamer, water, vanilla and salt in large mixing bowl.
  2. Beat frosting for 3 minutes at medium speed. Increase to high speed and beat 5 minutes more.
  3. Add more confectioners’ sugar to thicken or water to thin frosting as needed.
  4. Measure small amount of frosting and tint pink with red food color.
  5. Color remaining frosting with yellow food color.

Decorating

  1. Cut cooled cake as shown in diagram
  2. Arrange in pencil shape on large plate or platter
  3. Spread pink frosting on cake for eraser at one end and for wood at other end
  4. Spread yellow frosting over remaining cake
  5. Decorate with chocolate jimmies for pencil tip and eraser band.

Shortbread vs. Shortcake . . . Recipes

thermometer_2016It has been so hot, I’m finding it hard to even think of something to write about. Add to that the fact, that we’ve not been doing much of anything which doesn’t help either.

 

With the temps running over 100 degrees for the last week, been spending some of my house-time sorting through old cookbooks and magazines. Yes, I’m one of those old-fashioned people that still enjoys a good cookbook.   When we went to auctions, loved buying boxes of old cookbooks.  Granted some of them were weird, but most of them were really good.  For the good ones,  particularly enjoyed looking for notations made by the previous cook . . .  or those recipes that were obviously well used.  Knew those just had to be good.  Most of the time they were.

 

While perusing a few cookbooks earlier this week looking for nothing in particular, stumbled across a recipe for shortcake. Caught my eye because it was served with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.  Now I love shortbread.  But shortcake?  Not heard of that one.  So got to wondering what is the difference?

 

Did a little sleuthing on the computer and found that while the two are similar (they both have short in the name ?)  there is a difference.

Shortcake can be made using vegetable fat instead of butter and usually has a leavening agent, i.e., baking powder which gives it a different texture.   [1]      Shortbread is flour, butter and sugar . . . only . . .  but you can use butter in your shortcakes.

Guess you might say, “Shortbread is a particular type of shortcake and not all shortcakes are shortbread.”  [2]    Too confusing for me.

Was going to whip up a batch of the shortcakes just to see what they tasted like, but alas, didn’t have all the necessary ingredients for the recipe. This one will have to wait for my next trip to town to get the requisite whipping cream.  Something I would NEVER have on hand.

Putting the two recipes below for those that might like to give one or the other a try.

Shortcake Recipe  [3]

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1-1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream (divided)
  • shortcake1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Coarse sugar, option for topping

Directions

  1. In large mixing bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, orange peel and salt
  2. Cut butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse crumbs
  3. Whisk 1-1/2 cups cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla – add to flour mixture
  4. Stir until moistened
  5. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface, gently knead 8-10 times
  6. Roll dough to 1 inch thickness, cut with 3 inch round biscuit cutter
  7. Place 2 inches apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet
  8. Brush tops with 1 tablespoon cream; sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired
  9. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until light, golden brown
  10. Cool on wire racks for 5 minutes

To serve, cut the shortcake in half horizontally, place bottom on plate, top with strawberry mixture, place top on and dollop with whipped cream.

Shortbread

Ingredients

  • shortbread1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Lightly buttered 9-inch spring form pan
  3. Whisk flour sugar in medium bowl to blend
  4. Add 1/2 cup butter and cut in until mixture is like coarse meal
  5. Gather the dough together and form a ball, then flatten into a disk
  6. On lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness
  7. Using fingers press dough evenly over bottom to edges of pan
  8. Using the tip of a small sharp knife, score dough into 8 equal triangles then pierce all over with a fork
  9. Bake until shortbread is cooked through and pale golden, about 45 minutes.
  10. Using tip of sharp knife, cut warm shortbread into triangles along scored lines
  11. Run knife around the edge to loosen it
  12. Cool in pan at least 30 minutes
  13. Release pan sides and using spatula carefully remove shortbread (will be fragile !!)

Note: Read a couple of the comments, all said it was good – one lady added a little vanilla to the mix.

On reflecting on the shortbread recipe, it is the same ingredients I use to make the streusel for my muffins . . . just lots more of it, no wonder I love shortbread!

 

Next time, posting 2 more recipes. One is a ‘Ribbon Torte’ and the other is a ‘Pencil’ Cake.

 

Enjoy !

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shortbread

[2] https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070110153214AAkdkii

[3]   Taste of Home, April 2012

 

 

 

 

 

Pear Cake Update

pearbar

Made the pear cake this past weekend. It is every bit a 5-star cake.  In fact, think it is our all time favorite cake.  It is one of those cakes that gets better the longer it sits.  Only problem, gets eaten up too fast.  We found ourselves cutting thin slices of it during the day just to nibble on.

 

pearcake_1The cake batter is somewhat dense (photo looks more like baked beans 🙂 ) with the topping reminding me of a cross between caramel and pralines.  Of course, my methodology of making it  resulted in a more praline-like texture.  But, oh so good!!

 

Started out by making only half the cake recipe. The batter is very thick and needs to be spread in the pan.

 

Halved the topping recipe too, but found that this did not produce a sweet enough topping.  So went back and prepared another half recipe topping.  But this time, since I didn’t want to put the cake back in the oven for 4 minutes as this would dry it out,  prepared the topping ingredients in the manner I  would use for pralines.

 

Cooked it for 4 minutes (instead of 3), removed pan from heat and placed it in an ice bath while I stirred the topping for about 2 minutes. This helps to not only cool it but also thicken it.  Poured and spread this on the cake and let it sit . . . covered with plastic wrap.  This resulted in a layer of ‘praline’ on top.

 

pearcake_2Can’t say how the cake would turn out if I’d followed the original recipe – when have I ever done this? – and used the full recipe of topping.  Don’t think I’ll every do it any different than what I did this time.

 

The first half recipe of topping soaked into the cake helping make it moist and the second half of the topping – praline texture – was like eating a moist, delicious praline with every bite.   I’m even thinking for next time of putting some chopped pecans in the praline layer.   I think the flavor of the pecans would go well with the pear/cinnamon flavor.

 

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For those that may not like the flavor of caramel or praline,  this cake would also be excellent with a cream cheese frosting.   Get sugar free cream cheese frosting recipe here.

 

And, in case you missed the original posting of the pear cake recipe, you’ll find it again below.

 

Enjoy !!

Pear Cake Recipe   [1]

Ingredients – Cake

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups flour (sifted)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 4 cups raw diced pears (or apples)

Ingredients – Topping

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 lb. butter (1 stick)

Directions – Cake

  1. Mix all cake ingredients by hand in order given
  2. Pour in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan or spring form pan
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes and remove

Directions – Topping

  1. In a saucepan mix all ingredients and bring to a slow boil for 3 minutes
  2. Pour over cake and return to oven for 4 minutes.

 

 

 

[1]   http://www.food.com/recipeprint.do?rid=98869