Friday, June 9, 2023

Better Late


Strawberry Fudge Ice Cream Cake, an assembly only recipe. | recipe developed by | #recipe #dessert

The early bird catches the worm.

Better late than never.

Old (ancient, actually) sayings with a valid point to make.

Well, let me just say now that I'm not really interested in first dibs on any worms. Early, late, or anywhere in between.

But lilacs? Now that's a different story. And it's through lilacs that I've come to tweak "better late than never," to just plain "better late." Because, it turns out, late is a great way to get the best of both worlds.

I love lilacs and, if you go by the number of lilac trees you see up and down the streets of our neighborhood, I'm hardly alone. It's not just their beauty, but their unmistakable floral scent. My lilacs are just outside the window in my stairwell, and when the window is open, and they're in bloom, I can smell them before I see them.

Lilacs have come to represent spring, as they bloom early. Well, everyone's but mine, that is. 

Better Late | picture taken by, featured on, and property of Karen of | #flowers #blogging

Most people who I know have lilac trees. I don't. When we were adding to our landscaping, I found some lilac shrubs. I hadn't heard of them before, but I fell in love. We planted the little bushes along the west side of our house and hoped for the best.

At first I was disappointed. Early spring came along and everyone's lilac trees were blooming. But not my little shrubs. I do have a neighbor who knows that I love lilacs and every year when her lilac tree blooms she brings me a bouquet.

Eventually my lilac bushes bloomed. And grew. And grew. 

I don't know if it's that they're shrubs and not trees. I don't know if it's the side of the house where we planted them. I do know this, every year Lisa brings me a bouquet in the early spring. Which makes me so happy because all I have along the side of my house is big, bushy, but totally green shrubs.

I'm almost always on time, and I tend, by nature, to be an impatient person. But not with the lilacs.

Because then, when everyone else's lilacs have ceased to bloom, I get flowers. Lots and lots of flowers. 

Turns out, late is so much better.

Better Late | picture taken by, featured on, and property of Karen of | #flowers #blogging

Spring is also a time for ice cream. After a long, cold winter, this treat makes its debut again around my house as soon as the heat gets turned off. Lately, I've been making a lot of ice cream, ice cream pies, and this ice cream cake.

Strawberry Fudge Ice Cream Cake, an assembly only recipe. | recipe developed by | #recipe #dessert
Strawberry Fudge Ice Cream Cake

I took the first picture in this post just as I'd unmolded and decorated the frozen cake. This second picture though, well, taking pictures, getting it just how you want it, takes time. And in that time, ice cream does what ice cream does, it melts.

The picture may have come out a little meltier than I would have liked, as pictures go, it was taken a little later in the whole photography process. But I happen to like my ice cream a little melty.

So . . . better late . . . 

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Strawberry Fudge Ice Cream Cake         

Printable Recipe

1 (48 oz) container strawberry ice cream
1 jar (about 12 oz) hot fudge sauce
6 strawberry sandwich cookies
6 chocolate sandwich cookies
1/4 cup strawberry jam
2 fresh strawberries

OPT: fresh sliced strawberries for garnish

*Using a large piece of plastic wrap, cover the insides of a loaf pan, allowing the ends of the wrap to fall outside of the pan (to assist in removing later).
*Place about 2 cups of the ice cream in a large bowl on the counter for about 10 minutes to soften. Chop the strawberry sandwich cookies.
*Mix the chopped cookies into the ice cream, spread into the bottom of the prepared pan and freeze for 30 minutes.
*Remove 2 TBSP fudge sauce and set aside. Spread half of the remaining sauce over the ice cream layer in the pan and freeze for 1/2 hour.
*Place another 2 cups of the ice cream in a large bowl on the counter for about 10 minutes to soften. Chop the chocolate cookies.
*Mix the chopped chocolate cookies into the softened ice cream, spread onto the fudge layer and freeze for 30 minutes.
*Spread the other half of the remaining fudge sauce over the ice cream layer in the pan and freeze for 1/2 hour.
*Place the last of the ice cream in a large bowl on the counter for about 10 minutes to soften. Hull the strawberries and chop.
*Mix the strawberries and the strawberry jam into the ice cream and spread into the pan. Freeze until hard frozen, its best to freeze overnight.
*Run a knife between the plastic wrap and the pan. Use the overlapping plastic wrap to help you remove the ice cream cake from the pan. 
*Garnish with fresh strawberries, if desired, drizzle with the reserved fudge sauce. 
*Wrap any remaining cake and store in freezer.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Information Wars: Power or Danger


Strawberry Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies | recipe developed by Karen of | #recipe #cookies

I got a frantic phone call from College Boy while he was at work the other afternoon. 

"Mom," he said, "quick, can you get onto FB and delete my account?"

Delete his account? "Why?" I asked him. "Please, I can't talk, I'm at work and I need it deleted."

"Just tell me, are you safe?" "Yes," he told me. "And have you done something wrong, are you in trouble?" "No," he assured me, "I just don't want any pictures of me on social media. I'll talk to you later."

Let me just take a step back here and say this:

Information is power.

And information is dangerous.

In this country, we have blurred those lines, and every day I see another frightening situation that proves my point.

Information Wars: Power or Danger | graphic designed by, featured on, and property of Karen of | #MyGraphics #blogging

Many states have decided that in order to have a book approved for their schools' curriculum, history, our country's past, must either be denied or rewritten. Politicians are using their power to deny students information. I wrote about this in my post Woke Up, about how I believe that blocking information from students, squashing critical thinking, will ultimately be to the detriment of our future. If we are going to have breakthroughs, in all industries, information, the good, the bad, and the ugly, all needs to be disseminated. Information, in the form of educating honestly, is power.

And power over information is dangerous.

When it comes to information itself being dangerous, I've talked about this before, we are tracked, spied on, made marketing targets without any ability to limit the personal information collected. It is not only creepy, but an affront to our ability to feel safe, to feel that our identity is safe, to feel that we can even discuss family issues with our children via phone or text. How can I feel that my identity is safe when companies I've never heard of send me birthday wishes? They know my name, my address, my email, my birth date. I am impotent, naked, unable to control what strangers know about me.

What I put out there myself, like on this blog, the recipes I share, the stories I share, that is, and should be my choice.

Strawberry Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies | recipe developed by Karen of | #recipe #cookies
Strawberry Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

But the rest of it, the personal information I do not put out for public consumption, should be controlled by me. Only me. 

More than that, a dangerous step further than that, is that not only do marketers have access to our personal information, but they don't just market us personally based on it. They are reckless with it, sell it, put it out there for others to find.

I did get into my son's FB account and deleted it for him. And then I waited anxiously for him to come over and explain why he wanted pictures of himself off of social media.

Besides a day job, College Boy engages in his first love, music. He buys and sells albums. I'll often hear old jazz or blues coming from his room, but the rare and limited edition records he buys and sells are mostly Hip Hop and Rap. He's extremely well informed on the history of the genre, and is engaged in the community, on Discord and other social media platforms where they share information, availability, purchases and sales. He'll stay up late, wake up early, sometimes even set me up on a laptop when there's going to be a limited edition drop.

Recently, he'd been able to buy a rare bundle, which he shared with his groups. In one group, some people offered College Boy a very lot of money to rip (copy) the album for them. He refused, it's not only illegal, but unfair to the artist.

One guy was very, very angry. When my son heard of a business that had a copy, he reached out to this guy. He didn't know if it would be for sale or not, but he wanted to just mention it. The guy responded by telling College Boy to "piss off." When College Boy said he was just trying to help, the guy's response was rude, borderline threatening. The guy then immediately changed his profile picture.

To a picture of my house.

I don't know how dangerous this guy may or may not be. I do know that he was able to go onto Google and find a picture of our home. And use it as a veiled threat.

Information can be power. And Information can be danger. We as a society need to identify which is which. But when it comes to personal information we, as citizens, should have a voice in setting the parameters for ourselves. We must have the right to protect our own privacy. And in some cases, even possibly ensure our own safety.

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Strawberry Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies         

Printable Recipe

Ingredients (makes about 3 dz large cookies):
1 stick butter, softened
1 stick margarine, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon 
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 strawberries, hulled and chopped
6 strawberry cream cookies, chopped
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips

*Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
*Cream the butter, margarine, and both sugars. Once smooth, beat in the eggs.
*Starting on the lowest speed until incorporated, beat in the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
*Press the chopped strawberries between paper towels to remove some of the moisture.
*Mix in the cookie pieces, dark chocolate chips, and strawberries into the dough. 
*Drop the dough, by rounded tablespoons, onto the baking sheets. Leave lots of room, they spread.
*Bake for 12 - 13 minutes, until browned, then leave on the cookie sheets for 3 minutes before removing them to cool completely.

Friday, June 2, 2023

Alzheimer's, Reality and Hope


Strawberry Brownie Cupcakes | recipe developed by | #recipe #dessert

 June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness month. I'm recognizing this month in memory of two people I've lost. Not both of them to the Alzheimer's.

We lost my dad in 2015. Yes, to Alzheimer's. We lost Rena just a few months ago. Not to the disease. Both, to me, personify the struggles on both sides of the Alzheimer's fence. Both had to navigate daily life with the condition, even though both did not have it.

I write to process. And then to vent. It's a coping mechanism for me, a catharsis of sorts. In cases like this, not so much to get over it, but to take the first step, actively acknowledging the reality of it. Although we lost dad in December of 2015, it took me 4 months to be able to write about it, to make it real through words of my own. It was a raw, emotional piece, not about the disease itself, but the aftermath, facing the reality.

I call that first piece Daddy's Girl, and I hope you'll click over and read it. A piece of my heart sits on that page. 

We lost Rena this past March. And yet again, it took months to write about it. Just a month ago, I wrote Rena: Mourning to Missing. The reason Rena is part of this post is because she saw this disease from the other side. She was a caregiver. Not only a caregiver, but a fierce, tireless, vocal advocate for Alzheimer's awareness, for caregiver support, and an endless source of information. Her site, The Diary of An Alzheimer's Caregiver remains available, and if you're looking for facts, and hope, Rena left that behind as a gift to us all. 

In fact, it was at Rena's urging that I finally, in 2020, wrote a broader piece about the disease called Alzheimer's, the Battle and the War. For that piece, as I always do, I created a graphic. To my surprise, this graphic has been re-pinned on Pinterest more times than I ever could imagine. Making me both happy that people are interested, and sad, knowing how many people are affected.

Alzheimer's Awareness | graphic created by, featured on, and property of Karen of | #MyGraphics #blogging

I want to end on an up-note, with a few sweet thoughts. Reality intertwined with hope.

Strawberry Brownie Cupcakes | recipe developed by | #recipe #dessert

Strawberry Brownie Cupcakes

First, I wrote in my piece about the individual battles of the Alzheimer's war, that I had hope that I lived to see the day that the disease is eradicated. That hasn't yet happened, but there has been progress. Scientists now made some progress in identifying a cause of the disease, and there is an approved drug that could slow its progression. And with progress, there is hope.

And second, I want to leave you with Rena's words, those she lived by every day as she dealt with Alzheimer's in one way or another:

"Appreciate the good, laugh with the crazy, and deal with the rest."

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Strawberry Brownie Cupcakes       

Printable Recipe

1 box (18.3 oz) fudge brownie mix
1/4 cup water
2/3 cup oil
3 eggs
1 box (15.25 oz) strawberry cake mix
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
3 eggs
1/4 cup strawberry jam

OPT: powdered sugar, chocolate frosting, strawberry frosting and/or fresh strawberries for garnish 

*Grease 18 cupcake wells. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*In a bowl, whisk together the brownie mix, water, 2/3 cup of oil, and three eggs. Set aside about 1/3 cup of the mix and divide the rest fairly evenly into the 18 greased wells. It doesn't have to be exact.
*Beat the strawberry cake mix, milk, remaining 1/2 cup of oil, remaining 3 eggs, and strawberry jam for 2 minutes. Fill the wells the rest of the way with the cake batter. Drizzle the reserved brownie batter over the top.
*Bake for 20 - 30 minutes, until the centers spring back to the touch. Allow to sit in the cupcake pans for 5 minutes before running a knife around the edges and removing. Cool completely.
*OPT: once completely cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar or top with chocolate or strawberry frosting and/or top with strawberries.