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Check out my science fiction series - The Fall of the Altairan Empire

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thursday Recipe - Plum Cobbler

Plums aren't usually the first fruit people think about when they think about cobbler. But this time of year, when they are ripening on the trees, I remember all the bowls of plums we picked from the trees in our yard when I was growing up. My dad loved fresh fruit. He planted a mini orchard in our front yard and a matching one along the edges of the garden in the back. Cherries, peaches, plums, and the lone apple tree that was there when we moved in. We won't even mention all the grape vines he added to that yard. Let's just say we were juicing, canning, and processing fruit from June through November most years.

I love fresh plums. My favorites are the Italian prunes. Yep. The ones they dry and sell as old people digestive aids. Fresh, they are sweet and juicy. The pits pop right out. Best of all, they are compact in size but not in flavor.

I got my hands on a box of Italian prunes. A big pile of them are now jam - lovely deep red-purple jam. And another pile are now Plum Cobbler. I can't wait to dig in.

Plum Cobbler

2-3 quarts of freestone plums
1 c. sugar
2 T. instant tapioca
2 c. oatmeal
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted

Wash the plums. Cut them in half and remove the pits. Roughly chop the halved plums. You should end up with about 6-8 c. of chopped plums.

Add sugar and tapioca to plums. Toss until well coated. Dump into a greased cake pan. Spread evenly across the pan. Set aside.

Mix oatmeal, brown sugar, and butter. (I usually use the bowl I just mixed the plum stuff in. One less dish to wash.) Spread oatmeal mix over the top of the plums.

Bake at 325°F for 45-55 minutes, until plums are soft and juice is bubbling.

Let cool at least one hour before serving to allow the tapioca to thicken the juices. Or serve hot with plenty of vanilla ice cream.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Melon Report

We planted Tigger Melons last year and got nothing. We planted them again this year and have a bumper crop. They grow on medium vines, kind of like cantaloupe. The melons are about the size of a softball.

The unripe ones look like little round watermelons—dark green with lighter green stripes. When they turn a pale orange, they're ripe. The darker orange ones are overripe and not as tasty, but still quite good. Unripe, they taste like cucumbers. You can peel them and use them like cucumbers, too. The ripe ones taste like honeydew. Very delicious.

So if you're looking for a different melon to try, Tigger melons are fun and as easy to grow as cucumbers.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Thursday Recipe - Eclipse Ring'O'Fire Cookies

I wanted to do something for the eclipse. I have not-so-fond memories of train wreck pudding from grade school. It involved chocolate pudding and whipped topping and sticking out your tongue. Now that I think about it, it was more than just gross. But moving on...

The total eclipse has a ring of light with a dark middle and dark outside. Chocolate and vanilla coming right up!

Eclipse Ring'O'Fire Cookies

1/2 c. butter, softened
1/3 c. shortening or coconut oil
2/3 c. white sugar
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 c. cocoa
4 eggs
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
3 c. flour (1 1/2 white and 1 1/2 whole wheat OR 1 1/2 rice flour and 1 1/2 almond flour)
18 large marshmallows
36 Hershey's kisses

Cream butter, shortening, and sugars. Add cocoa and beat well. Add eggs, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Cream until smooth and fluffy. Stir in flour.

Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350°. Grease two baking sheets.

Scoop dough into 1 inch balls, it should make 36 cookies. Place them on the baking sheets. Bake for 8 minutes.

Pull the marshmallows in half. Push a half marshmallow onto the top of each cookie. Do it gently or the cookies will crumble too much. Bake the cookies for another minute.

Push a kiss into the middle of the marshmallow on each cookie, bottom side up. Let them sit and cool on the cookie sheets for 10 minutes.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Bizarro Search Engine Auto-Complete

Woohoo! Eclipse Day is here! Are you excited?

What would your browser search engine history say about you? I read an intriguing story that was told all as a search engine history. There was so much hidden between the lines, yet it was a rich, full story. I'm toying with the idea of writing some stories this way.

Search engine history can be funny, too. I was looking for a name for a character  the other day. Baby name generator sites are great for this. So I started typing the letters I wanted the name to start with. Then had to stop and laugh. This is what auto-complete gave me:

Totally going to name my fancy-pants girly character CreamedEggs.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Thursday Recipe - Chocolate GF Sponge Cake

I'm experimenting with a wheat-free diet. My health issues are getting the best of me and I'm willing to try anything that might help at this point.

So I decided to start this wheat-free diet on my birthday. While I have guests in the house. And all sorts of other crap going on in my life. Not a good idea. Extra stress is not pleasant.

But it did give me the option of playing around with my GF sponge cake recipe. It's easy, fairly quick to pull together, and makes a delicious cake. I made one on Saturday that was gone before everyone got a slice. It was vanilla, filled with coconut cream, whipped topping, and fresh berries. Today I shall attempt chocolate sponge with chocolate whipped frosting.

*Note: This cake is more dry than the vanilla version. It's best to underbake it a bit, then after it cools, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Frost and serve the next day. Mine also didn't rise nearly as high as the vanilla one. Still tasty.

Chocolate Gluten-Free Sponge Cake

7 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/4 t. salt
1/3 c. rice flour
3/4 c. almond flour

Heat oven to 325. Grease a 10-inch springform pan and set aside.

Separate eggs, being careful to keep the yolks out of the whites. Set the whites aside.

Beat the yolks until very thick and creamy, at least 3-5 minutes. Add sugar and salt. Beat for another 1-2 minutes. Stir in flours. Set aside.

Beat whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg yolk mixture and cocoa into the whites until the bits of white foam are all incorporated and cocoa is mixed in.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, just until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then gently release the cake. Finish cooling on a baking rack.

Once cool, split the cake into two layers. Fill with half of the chocolate frosting. Use the rest of the frosting to decorate the cake. Refrigerate to set.

Store in the fridge.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday Promo!

I've got a friend with a book going FREE for one day only. If you enjoy clean romance, check out this book. (She even has a great title - I've got a Second Chances story out, too. Great minds...)

Second Chances by Donna K. Weaver

Thirty-seven-year-old Francie Davis is sure her luck has changed when she lands a job on campus that will pay her tuition. But when her handsome new boss yells at her on the first day of work, Francie learns that the last person you expect to fall in love with might be the one that’s the most perfect for you.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Thursday Recipe - Hawaiian Haystacks

This is another of those build-it-yourself recipes. Everyone puts their own together with whatever they like. It's easy to adapt to various food allergies and preferences. It's also easy to cook, which is always a win in my book.

Hawaiian Haystacks

4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I use the frozen ones straight from the freezer)
2 c. water
1/4 c. cornstarch
2 T. chicken bouillon
1 T. dried parsley
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. turmeric
1/2 t. paprika
1/2 t. rosemary
1/2 t. thyme
2 c. white rice
1 t. salt
4 1/2 c. water

Put the chicken in a large crockpot. Cover and cook on low 3-4 hours or high 2-3 hours, just until the chicken is barely done.

Remove chicken from the crockpot, leaving the liquid behind. Cut the chicken into bite-size chunks and put back into the crockpot. Mix the 2 c. water, cornstarch, bouillon, and herbs together, then gently stir into the chicken. Cover and let cook on low for another 45 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, combine rice, salt, and 4 1/2 c. water. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes or so until rice is done. Or just dump everything in your rice cooker and let it do its thing.

Serve chicken gravy over rice with any or all of the following toppings. Season with soy sauce to taste.

Toppings (not limited to this list, use your imagination):
sliced celery
shredded carrots
pineapple tidbits
green onions
chopped bell pepper
chopped daikon radish
sliced water chestnuts
bamboo shoots
sliced almonds
sliced olives
shredded lettuce
chow mein noodles

Monday, August 7, 2017

Random Images from my Phone

Okay, not totally random. These were just the latest four that were downloaded to my laptop.

This is the famous Teapot Dome Gas Station in Zillah, WA. We stopped on our way to Husum, WA, where we went white water rafting on the Little White Salmon River. High adventure for me and my hubby.
 The gas station is now a historical site. It wasn't open when we were there so we couldn't buy any keepsakes inside the little station, but we could walk around and look at it. Cute little building.
 And check out the prices! I haven't seen gas that low for decades!
I also made totoros for a friend's children. If you haven't seen the movie, it's a cute one from Studio Ghibli. My Friend Totoro is a good one to watch with kids, although it might give them a few ideas...

What have you been up to?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Thursday Recipe - Saucy Potatoes in the Slow Cooker or in Foil on the Grill

Grilling potatoes just doesn't work for me. Yeah, I could wrap them up and make baked potatoes, but I still haven't got the temperature thing right. They are usually burnt on the outside and raw in the middle when I try.

I came across this recipe and thought it would be worth trying. They were tasty and mostly done without being burnt, but some were still crunchy. We decided this dish would work a lot better in the crockpot. Or else you could try boiling the potato slices for 5 minutes or so to pre-cook them before wrapping it all up in foil.

Saucy Potatoes

6 medium potatoes
1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 T. grated parmesan or romano cheese
2 T. dried parsley
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. paprika
1/2 t. black pepper
1 small onion

Scrub potatoes really well, then slice into 1/4" slices. Place in a large pot, cover with hot water and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and cover. Set aside while you prep the sauce.

In a large bowl, mix together mayonnaise, cheese, parsley, garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper.

Peel the onion, then slice into thin rings or slices. Add to sauce.

Drain potatoes. Add to sauce. Toss gently to coat.

To grill: Divide potatoes between two large pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Fold up into flat packets. Grill over medium heat until potatoes are tender - 20-30 minutes. Makes two large packets.

For slow cooker: Dump the potato mixture into a large crockpot. Cook on low 3-4 hours, until potatoes are tender.

Serves 4-6 people.