Friday, February 25, 2022

Treasured Treats: Monthly Poetry Group


Triple Mint Cookies, the ultimate mint lover’s snack. | recipe developed by | #recipe #cookies

Last Friday of the month is for
Monthly Poetry Group to rhyme.
Diane, Mimi, and I take turns,
"Snack Foods," is the theme this time.
As usual, today I'll try,
a poem to write . . . or fudge.
Whether I'm successful or not,
you get to be the judge.  

Snack Foods, a monthly multi blogger poetry writing challenge based on a theme. | Graphic property of | #poetry


Treasured Treats

As many people as you ask,
their favorite snack to eat,
is how many answers you will get,
some salty, others sweet.

So I went on a quest to find,
which snacks my friends prefer.
Wondering if I'll find that with,
their choices, I'd concur.

The results of my study, though I know
that scientific, it's clearly not,
is that the people who are in my life,
are quite a diverse lot.

Jalapeno chips, crunchy and hot,
but they come with a two-fer.
A snack for sure, but then you get,
the heartburn they incur.

Candy came up many times,
but no agreement on the kind.
Chocolate, sour, fruity, mint,
are a few that came to mind.
Crab Rangoon was a surprise,
a love with which I agree.
But I have t admit they're not,
snack food category for me. 
Ice cream was another choice,
(my favorite, mint chocolate chip).
But problematic in the winter when,
not even a milkshake will I sip.
Pistachios, oh yes, I agree,
with the love of the little green nut. 
But cracking them always breaks my nails,
and those ones that come tightly shut!

Now Cheetos are the messy choice,
though I knew they'd be represented.
People've been happily orange covered,
ever since they were invented.

Though I could choose each and every one,
and binge with all my friends,
My heart belongs to baked goods, where
my snack love begins and ends. 

 Triple Mint Cookies, the ultimate mint lover’s snack. | recipe developed by | #recipe #cookies
Triple Mint Cookies

Monthly Poetry Group, a monthly group writing challenge, poetry based on a theme | graphic designed by and property of | #MyGraphics #poetry
Before you go, stop by these blogs for more Snack Foods poetry:

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Triple Mint Cookies        


Printable Recipe

1/2 stick butter, room temperature
1/2 stick margarine, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp mint extract
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 TBSP green colored sugar
1 TBSP red colored sugar
8 Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses
13 Andes mints
*Cream butter, margarine, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and peppermint extract.
*Gently at first until incorporated, beat in flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix in the colored sugars. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
*Coarsely chop the candy cane kisses. Cut the Andes mints in half. Set aside.
*Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper.
*Roll the refrigerated dough into 26 equal sized balls. Place on the prepared cookie sheets and flatten (a glass works well).
*Bake for about 9 minutes, until they start to brown.
*Immediately, while the cookies are still hot, place 1/2 of an Andes mint onto the center of each candy. Once the candies start to melt (about 1 minute), swirl around the top of the cookie. Sprinkle with the chopped candy cane mints. 
*OPT: You can either use a toothpick to swirl the melted candies together (don't mix together completely), or leave the chopped kisses to melt on top of the swirled Andes mint.
*Remove from the cookie sheets and allow to set completely. They'll set more quickly if refrigerated for 15 minutes.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Shall We Dance?

Spicy Crockpot Pulled Pork: slow cooked in a sauce with a bit of a kick, this versatile recipe can be served over rice, potatoes, or as a sandwich. | recipe developed by | #recipe #dinner

Shall we dance?
I cannot get that song out of my head. It got in there pretty easily and, actually, by chance. I was scrolling through TV channels the other night when something on a channel I'd flashed past made me stop and go back. There they were, Debra Kerr and Yul Brynner gliding across the stage to Shall We Dance (sung by Marni Nixon), and I could not help but sing along.

What a flood of memories that brought back. I'm going to tell you a little secret but please, keep it to yourself. My mom had a crush on Yul Brynner. I'm not sure she ever actually said so, but she did. 

I can't remember how many times I'd seen this movie with mom, but it had to be a lot because I know the words to many of the songs. I remember mom singing along, as I was now. I bet she'd still sing along today were she to catch the movie. Neither of us can hold a tune if you gave it to us in a paper bag (as the old saying goes), but that sure as hell wouldn't stop either one of us.

It may have been the music and the dance that held me there, watching that old movie from the 50s, but it was the story that stayed with me. Or I should say the new lessons learned from the story when viewed through today's lens. A wholly different lens from which I'd viewed it in the past.
Not just in Siam, but it was also obviously such a different time in western culture. There were social norms, men bowed and politely asked women for the honor of a dance. There were customs, personal space was respected. There were shared ethical values, courtesy, civility, relationship rules. 

Also not just in Siam but in general, let me say that they were quite an unusual pair, dancing there. King Mongkut of Siam, a ruler with over 30 wives and concubines, and Anna Loenowens, a British widow, brought to Siam as a governess and to tutor the royal family in English and in western customs.
There's so much to unpack here and I won't do it all in this post (you're welcome), but what I walked away with, this gazillionth time I'd watched the film, is about loss and gain, society and direction. There would be no story here without an intelligent king with an inquisitive nature, global awareness, and an open mind.

It all starts here: sometimes when you take a chance and put together unexpected components, the results can be delicious. But you have to be open to it. Take a chance.

Spicy Crockpot Pulled Pork: slow cooked in a sauce with a bit of a kick, this versatile recipe can be served over rice, potatoes, or as a sandwich. | recipe developed by | #recipe #dinner
Spicy Crockpot Pulled Pork
King Mongkut was open to western culture, Anna would not have been there were he not. But he also was king, he was revered and obeyed. Without question. 
Promises were made to Anna that were not fulfilled right from the start (a separate home for she and her son). There were practices she was forced to conform to (always having to keep her head below that of the king's even if it required undignified prostration). She did not leave. Instead she made her points where and when and with the intensity that she could. She picked her spots, kept an eye on both the future of Siam, and the present greater good. The relationships was, for all intents and purposes, a dance.
I don't want to gloss over what the Siamese society of the 1800s was, the slavery and brutality, but my focus on this night was on the relationship between Anna and the King. And what I saw more than anything was the push and pull, give and take, intrinsic and gained respect, and the restraint, all of the intertwined components required to negotiate a successful symbiotic relationship. 
Every dance requires balance.

Shall We Dance, new insights inspired by an old movie | graphic deigned by, featured on, and property of | #MyGraphics

So, it's starkly different, how I view this whole story today as opposed to any other time that I'd seen it. It had always left me with hope, knowing that we, as a society, were moving forward. We were taking steps towards equal rights for all women, races, religions, sexual orientations. They may have been small steps, and they may have been a long time coming, but they were steps nonetheless. 
Today I can't help but be left with despair, a deep feeling of loss. We have taken so many steps back in recent years, not just in equality, but in the rights and freedoms we'd taken for granted.

There is now very little push and pull, give and take, respect, or restraint in this country. We have devolved into a society of just pull, we've broken off into camps grabbing for what we want and not letting go. But when there is only pull, only take, a lack of respect and restraint, there is no other possible result than for that at which we're all pulling to eventually break. 
Do I want us to go back to the days of slavery, misogyny, dictatorial governments? Of course not. But the 1860s do have some lessons to impart. Because ultimately society back then, though deeply flawed, functioned.

We have lost dignity, we have lost respect, we have lost decorum. But most importantly, we have lost the art of achieving balance.

Perhaps it's time to ask ourselves with renewed resolve: "Shall We Dance?"

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics


Spicy Crockpot Pulled Pork        


Printable Recipe

1 bottle (28 oz) Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup Jim Beam Apple Bourbon
2 TBSP pepper jelly
2 TBSP sliced pepperoncini
3# pork tenderloin
OPT: 8 french roll buns, rice, or mashed potatoes for serving
*NOTE: This recipe can be served at the time of cooking, but is best when allowed to thicken, then served the next day.

*Grease a slow cooker and turn onto high. Add the barbecue sauce, water, bourbon, pepper jelly, and pepperoncini. Stir.
*Cut the pork tenderloin in half, lengthwise, then cut each half into about 5 chunks. Add to the slow cooker. Make sure the meat is mostly covered with the sauce.
*Cook on high for 2 hours. Stir, reduce heat to low and cook for 3 hours, stirring now and then.
*Uncover and remove from heat. Using 2 forks, shred the meat. 
*To serve same day: serve over rice, mashed potatoes, or as a sandwich in toasted buns.
*To serve the next day: allow the meat to cool and the sauce to thicken at room temperature. Store, covered, in the refrigerator. Reheat in the slow cooker or in a pan on the stove.


Friday, February 18, 2022

Live It Up to Live It Down: Fly on the Wall


Skillet Chicken Florentine, a healthy, flavorful dinner in just ½ hour. | recipe developed by | #recipe #dinner

 Welcome to a monthly Fly on the Wall group post. Today 3 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house. At the end of my post you’ll find links to this month’s other participants’ posts.

When PurDude moved into his first apartment, he took (among other things) my dishes, silverware, drinking glasses. I went back to using the dishes and silverware Hubs and I had gotten when we got married, but I had very few drinking glasses.
At the time, I'd been in and out of many stores getting his apartment set up, and when I was in HomeGoods, found some drinking glasses for myself.
It's now been a few years and we'd broken some of them, were down to our last 4. I wanted more of the same glasses but didn't know who made them or who carried them. After much research I found some on Amazon that looked very similar and bought them. They arrived a week later and I unpacked them when Hubs and College Boy were in the kitchen.
Me (while putting the glasses into the dishwasher): These glasses are very similar to the ones we're using, they seem to be a little wider and thicker, but they'll work out fine.
College Boy (looking over): Yes, they do look very similar. 
A few minutes later we sat down to dinner.
Hubs: You did a great job of matching these glasses, I can't tell them apart from the ones we've been using.
Me (answering while College Boy is laughing and I'm rolling my eyes): That's because the new ones are in the dishwasher, these ARE the ones we've been using.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by | #MyGraphics
We have a very large trash can for recycle. The recycle service comes every few weeks and usually the bin is very full. There seems to be just enough room in it for our family's recyclables for two weeks.
Last month, though, it was pretty full after just one week. When we used to just have a small recycle bin, I'd flatten things and fit boxes into other boxes when it got too full, but this is a full sized trash can. 
Me: That recycle bin is really full and we have another whole week before collection.
Hubs: I'll flatten some of those boxes and smash some of those soda bottles.
Me: Are you sure you want to reach in there to do that?
Hubs: Yeah, I may as well.
A little while later the phone rang and I answered it. It was a telemarketer, of course.
Telemarketer: I'd like to speak to . . .
Me: He can't come to the phone right now, he's playing in the trash.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by | #MyGraphics


Me (angrily): You made quite a mess. I just had to clean out that whole drawer in the bathroom.

Hubs: What do you mean?
Me: You put the toothpaste into the drawer without the cover on it.
Hubs: You know you used the toothpaste last, right?
Me (less angry): Oh. Never mind.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by | #MyGraphics

I'd tried a new recipe, Peppermint Stuffed Cookies, and I was excited for College Boy to try them.

Me (handing him a cookie): Here, try these.
College Boy: They're good. What's the pink part?
Me: Candy melts. And the cookie part is vanilla wafers.
College Boy: I can tell.
Me: And the inside is . . .
College Boy: Toothpaste?

Great, just great.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by | #MyGraphics

College Boy let me know he was going to be here, but late, and that he was tired, hadn't eaten. He asked me to put together a salad for him and stick it in the fridge, which I did. I was trying to make it as healthy a salad as possible so I added spinach, snap peas, and an assortment of other vegetables. I also made some of my homemade Italian dressing, which he likes.

The next day:

Me: How was your salad?
College Boy: It was good.
Me: You liked how I made it?
College Boy: Yeah. You know, you really know how to put lettuce on a plate.

Jeez, I can actually cook a meal too, btw.

Skillet Chicken Florentine, a healthy, flavorful dinner in just ½ hour. | recipe developed by | #recipe #dinner
Skillet Chicken Florentine
Hubs (reaching for the Skillet Chicken Florentine): I think I'm going to have seconds.
Me (feeling kinda proud, thinking he loved dinner): Wow, and you had a huge first portion.
Hubs: Yeah, I'm really hungry.
Me: Ummm . . . you mean you loved it?
Hubs (looking a bit sheepish): I meant I loved it.
Me: Thanks.
Hubs: In fact, I'm not even hungry, it's just so good I can't resist it.
Me: What?
Hubs: It may even be my new favorite dinner.
Me: Enough.
Hubs: Over selling it?
Me: Just a bit.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by | #MyGraphics

We'd been having trouble with our cable boxes forever. They worked intermittently, and often freeze. We can't stream (long story), so we'd been calling and calling and arguing with our cable company constantly.

They finally agreed to send a tech out without charging us for it at a price they wouldn't name (something they hadn't been willing to do before). The tech came out, felt that he'd figured out what was going on and, after 2 1/2 hours, left telling us to call if we still had issues.

The boxes were working all that night and the next day. Well, except for one strange occurrence.

Hubs: How was the cable today? Was it working?
Me: Yes, except for one odd change.
Hubs: What?
Me: When I was using the guide, I had to click right for the guide to move left, and up for the guide to move down.
Hubs: After all we've been through, if that's all that's wrong, we'll take it.
Me: It's not like that any more, I was able to remedy the situation.
Hubs: How?
Me: Well, I just had to turn the remote from upside down to right side up.

Chances are I won't live this one down any time soon.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by | #MyGraphics


Here's another one I won't live down: 
We have a back hall off of the kitchen. The laundry room and lockers are back there, and there are 3 doors. On one side is a door to the main floor bathroom. On the opposite wall is a door to the family coat closet, and straight ahead is the door to the garage. If you open the door to the garage, to the right is the recycle bin. I put it there for easy, I open the door, throw anything recyclable to the right and it goes into the bin, I don't even have to step into the garage.

I was tired. That's not just an excuse, it's true. And often when tired we do things we wouldn't normally do.

I didn't even realize what I'd done until the next day when Hubs opened the coat closet to get out his boots.

Apparently, I'd opened the wrong door, because on the floor of the coat closet were my recycle cans from the day before.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by | #MyGraphics

And {{sigh}}, yet another one (looks like I'm on a roll): 
Me: We have to sell the house.
Hubs: Did you see a spider in here somewhere?
Me: No.
Hubs: Then why?
Me: Don't ask. Just call a realtor.
Hubs: I'd like to know why.
Me: I flashed the neighbor.
Hubs: You what?
Me: I told you not to ask.
Hubs: How did you manage to do that?
Me: It's a gift.

The back story: I was in my den wearing a shirt and sweatshirt (no bra, I was at home, after all). I decided to take the sweatshirt off, stood up, pulled it over my head, then noticed that my shirt had come with it. Looked out the big triple window in the den and to the far left I see my neighbor in his back yard. I don't think he saw, but would you take the chance?


Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by | #MyGraphics


Hubs comes home in the late afternoon and I'm in the den, with the CD player on (fairly loud), a bunch of bottles from our bar on the kitchen counter, and a drink in my hand.
Hubs: You OK?
Me: Yeah, fine.
Hubs: What are you doing?
Me: Counterbalance.
Hubs: Counterbalance?
Me: Yes. I just wrote my Fly on the Wall post and realized how much many things over the past month that I have to live down.
Hubs: And the answer is . . . day drinking?
Me: No. My counterbalance of living it down is living it up. This is the covid version.
Hubs: OK. I think I better get us take out for dinner.
Me (raising my glass): L'chaim.



Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by | #MyGraphics 

Now click on the links below for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Skillet Chicken Florentine

Printable Recipe

2 TBSP olive oil
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt, pepper, garlic powder
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
4 oz mushrooms, quartered
3/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup white wine (can substitute chicken broth)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups fresh spinach, cleaned

*Cut each chicken breast into 4 pieces each. Sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
*Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until the bottom is browned, turn over, and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
*To the same skillet, add the onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Cook and stir until the onion softens.
*Stir the half and half, wine, and crushed red pepper flakes into the pan. Add the spinach and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Return the chicken to the pan. Boil, stirring now and then, for 3 - 4 minutes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Sweet and Scary: Word Counters


Mocha Mascarpone Cake, this cake features both chocolate and coffee flavors, topped with a creamy mascarpone frosting. | recipe developed by | #recipe #cake

Counting my words again. 

Today my fellow Word Counters and I are sharing our monthly group post. Each month one group member picks  a number between 12 and 50. All participating bloggers are then challenged to write something (or a few somethings, as the case may be) using that exact number of words. Today we all share what we came up with. 

 This month's number is 44
It was chosen by Diane of On the Border.



As I've been doing in these Word Counters posts, I've chosen a theme and am using my word count multiple times in keeping with the theme. This month I've chosen the theme Sweet and Scary, and I'm talking about dreams.
~ Strange things have been happening with my sleep cycle. All through my twenties, I was a night person, staying up (partying) till all hours. And I'd often sleep, when I didn't have a class or later work, until two or three in the afternoon.
~ Kids change that. You have to be a morning person, like it or not. They tend to be rather inflexible and demanding so you'd best adjust. Hubs was always a morning person, so this wasn't a change for him, but it was for me.
~ With the boys grown now, my sleep schedule has become more or less my own. I'm still up watching TV and reading until between midnight and one in the morning, but I rarely sleep in, the early morning habit is (sadly) still well ingrained.
~ Lately I'm suffering from sleep cycle kerfuffle. I get up at the same time, but can't seem to keep my eyes open in the afternoon. If I sit down, I'm out cold. Naps are short, but sometimes there are two or three of them.

Sweet and Scary | graphic designed by, featured on, and property of | #MyGraphics

~ You'd think that would mean that I can't fall asleep at night, right? But that's not what's been happening. I still fall asleep right between twelve and one. And, although ever the light sleeper, I sleep hard. I wake up knowing I've slept well.

~ The difference? The dreams. Wow, I've been having some pretty bizarre ones. Often more than one a night, and each more strange than the one before. And I remember a whole lot of them when I wake up too, which is also unusual.

~ Like this one from a few nights ago. I not only remember it quite clearly, but it's been rolling around in my (wakened) brain, bothering me, like there's a message there I'm not getting. This one started with a cake (of course it did) . . .

Mocha Mascarpone Cake, this cake features both chocolate and coffee flavors, topped with a creamy mascarpone frosting. | recipe developed by | #recipe #cake
Mocha Mascarpone Cake

~ I'd been asked to make a theme cake. It wasn't my job, just something done for friends. I know I got a lot of praise for my them, and enjoyed both being able to do it, and how I felt when they saw them.
~ This cake was huge, and I'd made it in a terrarium (don't ask me). It was mountain shaped, rising high above the terrarium. You could see through the glass sides. One side of the cake was decorated as a ski mountain with a skier.
~ If you looked through the glass at the other side, it was more intricately decorated, far more impressive. Unlike the ski theme this side made you feel like you were looking into the ocean (if the ocean were mountain shaped . . .), and there were fish.
~ Hubs walked in. Definitely not current in real life Hubs (who actually can't even boil water), no idea who this (hot) man was. But he took apart the side with the skier and rebuild the mountain. I didn't say anything, but I was hurt.
~ Then Rena (blogging friend) took apart the ocean. She made a shark, realistic but way too big for the cake. Saying she wanted it to be mean, she dotted on gold leaf, then brown paint, continuing until the shark was black, dry, and withered.

~ Meaning what? I want a (non cake designing) replacement Hubs? I'm jealous of my friend who makes better dried up sharks than I do? No one appreciates my mad cake skills? I should immediately seek therapy? Maybe I'll just fall asleep on the couch . . .

Word Counters, a monthly multiblogger writing challenge | run by and graphic property of | #bloggingchallenge #MyGraphics

Here are links to the other Word Counters posts:

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Mocha Mascarpone Cake         


Printable Recipe

1 box yellow cake mix
2 tsp instant coffee granules
3 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup coffee, brewed, cooled
1/3 cup oil
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

1 cup canned vanilla frosting
3/4 cup mascarpone cheese
2 TBSP baking cocoa powder
1/4 cup coffee, brewed, cooled
1/2 oz semisweet chocolate or 1 small chocolate candy bar

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 X 13 baking pan.
*Beat the cake mix, coffee granules, eggs, milk, 1/3 cup brewed coffee, oil, and 1/4 cup mascarpone on medium for 2 minutes. Mix in the mini chocolate chips and pour evenly into prepared pan. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the center springs back to the touch. Cool completely.
*Whisk together the vanilla frosting, the remaining mascarpone cheese, baking cocoa, and the remaining brewed coffee. Refrigerate to thicken until the cake is completely cooled.
*Spread the frosting over the cooled cake. Shave the chocolate bar over the top of the frosting. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature to serve.