Monday, August 29, 2016

The Book Thief

Several words can describe this book.  Death, survivor, evil and loss are just a few.  The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a young German girl in Nazi territory.   It takes place between 1939-1943 on a cobble stone path called Himmel Street in a small fictional town of Molching Germany during the Holocaust.  How can someone who's lost so much still carry on?   Liesel's real mother was a communist and most likely killed.  We never learned about her father other than he was most likely a communist also.  Her brother dies on the train to the Foster parents house.

Liesel, her Foster parents Hans and Rosa, the Jewish man Max that they hide from the Nazis and her best friend and neighbor Rudy Steiner lived in fear during World War II.  Liesel and Max are the only ones that survive and reunite after the war when Max comes to Alex Steiner's, Rudy's father tailor shop looking for Liesel where she was working.  The story ends there for Max which is frustrating.  Leaving you wondering did they marry.  Liesel on the other hand goes on to live a happy life in Sydney Australia with a  husband, no name and three kids and grandkids.  Is her husband Max??? 


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Hillbenders At Bluegrass Underground

After a brief tour through the Cumberland Caverns, which was beautiful.   Karen, Greg, Stone and I quickly made our way to the Volcano Room where the Hillbenders were to be performing beginning at 1pm.  Since we had the Bucket List Package, one of the things we received was a lunch ticket.  While the Volcano Room was filling up, and since we had an hour before the concert was to begin we made our way back to the concession stand and pick out our goodies.  Now with food in hand, we returned to our seats which just so happened to be on the front row.

The Hillbenders performing a rock opera, was the best concert Stone and I have seen at Bluegrass Underground, a subterranean amphitheater 333' feet below McMinnville Tn.   This was by far the best one ever.  They were "high-energy" as they performed The Who's TOMMY.  Of course being on the front row was fabulous.  You almost felt as though you were part of the band.  If you haven't been to Bluegrass Underground, you should try it out.

As we are on tour we can see down in the Volcano room as the band is warming up and chairs are being set up for the concert.  The concert was completely full holding five hundred people.

Greg and Karen

Twin Falls

Saturday, August 13, 2016

French Coconut Pie

Coconuts are probably my favorite fruit.  I like them plain, toasted and in just about anything.  Actually I can't honestly say I like them plain.  Once Stone and I were in Mexico, sunning along the Riviera Maya when a young man approached with a fresh coconut that he had picked from a tree, drilled a hole and put a straw in it and gave it to me.  It was so pretty, I got all excited.  It had this little umbrella sticking out of it all fancy like.  I took a sip as he stood there waiting, wondering what I thought of his gift.  Hmmm, I didn't like it at all!  The young man was so sweet to give that to me that I couldn't tell him I thought it was just awful, so I pretended to really like it.  Slowly sipping until he was out of site.  

Recently I came across this recipe from a co-worker from many years ago and wondered why I haven't made this pie in so long.  Actually I've never made it for Stone.  With Kathy and Scott coming for dinner I decided it was time to make this quick, easy SUPERDELICIOUS pie.  Words cannot describe how good it was.   Served with a dollop of whipped cream, it was the perfect ending to our meal. 

 French Coconut Pie
Serves: 6

3 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter melted
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 (2") vanilla bean (which is what I did)
 pinch of salt
1 (9") uncooked pie shell, homemade or frozen
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream (optional)
1.  Preheat oven 350'.
2.  In a bowl mix beaten eggs with granulated sugar.
3.  Add melted butter,lemon juice, vanilla and salt.  Mix.
4.  Stir in coconut.
5.  Pour into unbaked pie shell.  Bake for 45 minutes-1 hour, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Shrimp Boil At The Lake

Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes: 36 cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter, I use Creamy JIFF, but you can use crunchy if you like.  
1/2 cup shortening, I use Crisco butter flavored, but you don't have to.
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
additional granulated sugar to roll cookies in
1.  In a mixing bowl, cram together the butter, peanut butter and shortening.  Mix for about 1-2 minutes.
2.  Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking powder and baking soda.  Beat until combined.
3.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.
4.  Add the flour and mix until just combined. 
5.  Chill dough in the fridge for about an hour.
6.  Preheat oven to 375'.  Scoop dough using a cookie scoop, I use my mother-in-laws antique ice-cream scoop.  It holds 2 Tablespoons.
7.  Roll cookies in granulated sugar.  Flatten slightly with a fork to create marks that symbolize peanut butter cookies, I don't know why.
8.  Bake 7-9 minutes, transfer to a cooling rack to cool.
What I like to do is: Do steps 1 though 4.  Skip step 5,  go directly to step 6, eliminating the preheating.  Then place them in the freezer on a parchment lined cookie sheet and freeze.  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350',  using a parchment lined baking pan, bake on the 3rd rack for about 18 minutes.  Depending on how well you like your cookies.  
Iced Lemon Cookies
Makes: 17 cookies

Cookie Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup oil, (I use Crisco's pure canola oil)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/4 teaspoon salt
extra granulated sugar for top of cookies
Cookie Directions:
1.  In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, and powder sugar.  Beat well.
2.  Add egg, oil and lemon zest.  Mix well.
3.  Add flour, baking soda, cream of tarter and salt to above mixture. Beat until well blended.  
4.  Cover dough with saran wrap, refrigerate 2 hours for easier handling.
5.  Heat oven to 325'.  Shape dough using a cookie scoop, I use my mother-in laws antique ice-cream scoop that holds 2 Tablespoons, flatten cookies into rounds with bottom of glass dipped in sugar.
6.  Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on wire rack.  Glaze.
What I like to do is Steps 1-3.  Then deleting step 4, do step 5 eliminating the preheating.  Then place in freezer on a parchment lined baking sheet.  When ready to bake place cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 325'.   When cool, put on glaze.  Also the flavor intensifies if you make them the day before you want to eat them.  Put them into an airtight container over night.

Glaze Ingredients:
2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
zest of one lemon
Glaze Directions:
Using a small bowl, blend powdered sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice for desired spreading consistency. Spread glaze on cooled cookies.


Budhu's big catch of the day.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Banana Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

So many times I have bananas that begin to get a little ripe for eating.  You know the kind I'm talking about, slightly mushy but perfect for baking.  I hate to throw them away, so I just put them in the freezer, peel and all.  It's the best way to preserve them. The peel protects the bananas from freezer burn.  The peel will turn black in the freezer, don't let that fool you, the insides are perfect.  When you are ready to bake with them you just thaw in the refrigerator, cut the end off and squeeze out the banana.  

Finally the day comes when I open the freezer and think, I need to do something with the bananas. They are beginning to take over one of the shelves.  I grab a few and put them in the refrigerator to thaw as I look for a recipe.  More often than not I make Banana Bread, but since we were having Debbie and Glen over for dinner I decided to make a Banana Cake.  This isn't just any ole cake.   This is a very dense cake which I prefer.  So if you are like my husband and would choose a lighter fluffier cake, this is not for you.   The best part is it's loaded with toasted walnuts mashed into the cream cheese frosting on the side of the cake, yum.   Serve it with vanilla ice-cream, seriously oh yeah!!!

 Banana Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 3 (8") round layers

Cake Ingredients: 
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups mashed banana's (the riper they are the sweeter).
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 1/8 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup whole buttermilk

Cake Frosting:
1 (8 ounce) Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
chopped walnuts

Cake Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 275.  I know this is weird, but that what the recipe says.  It does take a long time to bake at this temp.  
2.  Line 3 (8") round baking pans with parchment paper.  Then spray with baking spray.
3.  In a bowl, sift flour, salt and baking soda, set aside.
4.  In another bowl, add mashed banana's with lemon juice, set aside.
5.  In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
6.  One at a time, add eggs.  Then add vanilla.
7.  Beat in flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk.
8.  Now add the banana mixture, stirring lightly.
9.  Scoop the batter into the prepared pans and bake in the oven that has been preheated for 1 1/2 hrs.       or until cake tester inserted and comes out clean.  I bake my cake on the third row.  
10.  Let cake cool completely, and frost.  
11.  Toast walnuts in a 350' oven for 5 minutes, let cool and place on sides of cake.
I store this cake in the refrigerator, it tastes really good cold, just sayin.
What I do is freeze cooled layers that I have wrapped individually in foil up to 2-3 weeks.  When ready to frost, do not thaw.  Frost cake while it is frozen and it will hold in the moisture.  I also like to frost the cake the day before you are going to serve it.  The flavors meld really well when it has set overnight in the fridge.