Saturday, February 14, 2009

Printing Posts The Easy Way

Just an FYI, as of this afternoon I have widgeted up this site yet again. You can now, if you so desire, print a post without all the additional sidebars and folderol printing with it. This is great for posts with recipes or if you are gathering them together to try to sell them in book form. Oh no, that's me, sorry. Just click on a post you want to print and an icon will appear at the bottom of the post. If you would like to add this to your blog, I got it from Bloggerbusters who have all kinds of hooha you can use to trash up your site. Enjoy!

My Very First Blog Award!

Today has been a great Valentine's Day and it's only 10:30 a.m. First Travis McGee, the love of my life, made bacon and eggs, then I went over 1,000 hits on this blog and now I've received a Lemonade Award from Tatersmama, one of my favorite bloggers! Life is close to perfect at this very moment.

Thank you to Tatersmama over at Tatersmama's Take on Things. She is a funny gal, transplanted from the U.S. to Australia and currently dealing with heatwave, floods and raging fires in her adopted homeland. Even with all the recent burdens she remains entertaining, honest and completely captivating in her posts. I love her take on things!

The rules of this award are as follows:

  • It is to be given to bloggers who exhibit great gratitude and/or attitude.

  • It is to be passed on to 10 other bloggers

  • You should link back to each blog that receives an award and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they've been given it.

So, with no further ado and in no particular order I give these Lemonade Awards to five people as I don't follow that many blogs right now but plan to up my intake:

  1. Treehouse Chef over at Treehouse Kitchen. We have been friends for over 20 years and have formed our own little blog support group. I inspired her to start blogging and she's inspired me to keep blogging. Her recipes and the stories that go with them are always entertaining and mouth-watering.

  2. Kim at Finding Deals in the Ville. She is fairly new at blogging like me but has a great site and is finding unbelievable deals and passing them along. She's also my neighbor and it's nice to have her so close and have this blogging relationship with her.

  3. Brittany at Brittany Runs. Brittany is training for a marathon, eating healthy food and finishing her education. In other words she's the girl we all should have been in our early twenties. She inspires me with her can-do attitude and makes me at least feel like I should get off my butt and do something. Love her!

  4. Blackbeard's Wyfe. This girl is funny and has a unique take on the world. The only thing is, she doesn't post enough so we are deprived of her sense of humor. We want to be entertained so please keep writing!

  5. Robynn over at Robynn' Ravings. I know, I know. She already has this award but she has been such a big supporter of mine since I started and she has also entertained me with stories of gophers that I will never forget. I think she needs to be put on the front of the stage again.

So there you have it. Thanks to all these girls for keeping us entertained and aware. I'm going cruising around the web for some more smart bloggers and may add a few to my awards list next week. And thanks again, Tatersmama!

Cirque du Soleil Louisville Bargain!

One more reference to Valentine's Day and then we're done for this year! This is a Louisville area bargain only but I have a feeling that in the current economic climate this may be a normal kind of deal as this show travels. If you've never seen a Cirque du Soleil show you should take the opportunity if you get the chance. They are mesmerizing and we always feel we've gotten our money's worth. We've seen O, the water show, which was spectacular and Zumanity, which is billed as the sensual side of Cirque du Soleil. That was an understatement. Great burlesque, acrobatics, and a dose of overt but tongue-in-cheek sexuality. A great show for adults and a great night out in Vegas.
Anyway, I digress. The Louisville show, Saltimbanco, is suitable for all ages and sure to impress. It comes to town March 11-15. Through February 15 at midnight tickets are available in pairs at a two for one price starting at $15 each. There are handling charges that apply since this is Ticketmaster but these tickets usually are at least $55/ticket for traveling shows and over $100 in Vegas. Go here for details before it's too late!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, here is my most favorite romantic moment on film. This is Gomer Pyle and Mary Grace Gossage from the Andy Griffith Show. In this episode Thelma Lou's very plain cousin, Mary Grace, has come for a visit and Thelma and Helen refuse to go to the dance unless the guys also find a date for her. Gomer is pressed into service after being told that she's "nice, real nice." When they get to the door he takes one look at her, makes his excuses and takes off. The girls are furious and Andy and Barney are mortified. They finally go to the dance without Mary Grace but are bickering the whole time and soon the girls demand to be taken home. When they get to Thelma Lou's house they find Gomer and Mary Grace dancing up a storm in the living room. As they crowd around, he looks at Andy, clearly thrilled to be with her and says, "You were right, Andy. She's nice, real nice!"

The sweetest moment is when she has been left behind and Gomer returns to the house. He had realized when he saw her that she, unlike the other girls, didn't have a corsage and had gone to get one for her. As he presents the flowers to her he utters one of the best romantic lines ever, anywhere----"Twouldn't be right for you, Mary Grace, to go to the dance unnadorned."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

TGIF Buy One Get One Free

Enjoy a BOGO deal at Friday's through March 1, 2009. This offer is not good for Valentine's Day but otherwise is valid any other time. Enjoy and thanks to for the heads up!

Four Days of Chocolate - Chocolate Fudge Pie

This one is not from Katherine Hepburn but another gorgeous, sassy old broad--my mother. We have been making this pie for years in my family and it is failproof. It's basically a chocolate chess recipe, and if you were raised in the south you've had every variation of chess pie including lemon, lemon shaker, peach, raisin, buttermilk, pineapple, shoo fly (molasses based), coconut and vinegar. There is a reason they have such staying power. They are all good. These pies represent the basic chemistry of baking. A few simple ingredients with not too much of anything. They have a smooth consistency and a rich taste and like all recipes that make it into the repertoire, they are easy but look like they should be difficult. I make this pie in a corning tart dish, cheating with a premade crust pinched up to look a little freeform. It makes it a little more special visually and stretches it farther. It also features cocoa instead of baking chocolate which puts it squarely in the frugal corner. You can also put a little bourbon in instead of vanilla for variation.

Corinne's Fudge Pie
Mix together: 1/2 stick butter, melted
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 tbsp. cocoa
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 5 oz. can evaporated milk
Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake for 10 mins. at 400 then approx 30 mins. at 350. The top will rise a bit and then fall and usually crack.

*I mix the sugar and cocoa together before adding to the wet ingredients.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Four Days of Chocolate - Katherine Hepburn's Brownies

I ran across these in about three different places within a week so obviously they are not a secret. They are, however, the best brownies I've ever made or eaten. They are not too sweet, crunchy on top, moist underneath and it just makes a 9x9 pan so you can only eat so many. Once again, like yesterday's Dump-it cake, this is a one-saucepan adventure. This recipe is one variation of several that are attributed to Ms. Hepburn. I have added chocolate and peanut butter chips to them, and put a little cinammon and chili powder in them for Mexican brownies and they never disappoint. Trust me, you will never want to open a brownie mix again after making these. Happy day 2 of chocolate!

Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies

A version of this recipe accompanied an interview with the actress Katharine Hepburn in the August 1975 issue of The Ladies' Home Journal. This brownie recipe, which calls for the smallest amount of flour, produces incredibly chewy bars with a full but mellow chocolate flavor.

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for greasing

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup roughly chopped walnuts

1⁄4 cup flour

1⁄4 tsp. fine salt

1. Heat oven to 325°. Grease an 8" x 8" baking pan with butter. Line the pan with parchment paper; grease the paper. Set the pan aside.
2. Melt the butter and the chocolate together in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir to make a smooth batter. Add the walnuts, flour, and salt; stir until incorporated. Pour the batter into the baking pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Let cool on a rack. Cut and serve.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Four Days of Chocolate - Chocolate Dump-it Cake

Every cook needs a repertory of tried and true recipes that she or he can fall back on. Everyone should also be able to make a birthday cake so that your loved ones don't have to eat a Kroger crisco sugar bomb with lurid icing and plastic figures on it. To that end, I am going to share a few chocolate recipes for Valentine's Day that have great provenance, whether it be the New York Times, my mother, or Katherine Hepburn.

First off, Amanda Hesser's Chocolate Dump-it Cake, so-named because it is actually mixed in a saucepan. Hesser is a food writer for the New York Times and first featured this recipe of her mother's back in 2002. It was recently refeatured in a Personal Best column in the NYT Sunday Magazine. This cake is everything it purports to be and more. It is moist, easy, chocolately without being too sweet and a one-pan wonder to make. I have pretty much given up on any other chocolate cake recipe out there.

It also features one of the great icing recipes ever devised. The first time I read the recipe and saw the frosting was made from chocolate chips and sour cream I laughed. But it works! It makes a really shiny light frosting that's easy to slather on and then it hardens into a fudge-like consistency. The sour cream cuts the sweetness of the chocolate and gives the cake another layer of depth tastewise. I usually bake it in a bundt pan (the ubiquitous tractor tire pan I bought for .20 years ago), slice it down the middle, add a layer of raspberry jam and fill the center with fresh raspberries. Perfection!

Chocolate Dump-It Cake (Adapted from Judith Hesser)

2 cups sugar

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups Nestlé's semisweet-chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups sour cream, at room temperature.

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place a baking sheet on the lowest rack to catch any drips as the cake bakes on the middle rack. In a 2- to 3-quart pot, mix together the sugar, unsweetened chocolate, butter and 1 cup of water. Place over medium heat and stir occasionally until all of the ingredients are melted and blended. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
2. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the milk and vinegar. Grease and flour a 9-inch tube pan.
3. When the chocolate in the pot has cooled a bit, whisk in the milk mixture and eggs. In several additions, and without overmixing, whisk in the dry ingredients. When the mixture is smooth, add the vanilla and whisk once or twice to blend. Pour the batter into the tube pan and bake on the middle rack until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool on a rack. (This can be tricky -- if someone is around to help, enlist him.) Let cool completely.
4. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler, then let cool to room temperature. Stir in the sour cream, 1/4 cup at a time, until the mixture is smooth.
5. When the cake is cool, you may frost it as is or cut it in half so that you have 2 layers. There will be extra icing whether you have 1 or 2 layers. My mother always uses it to make flowers on top. She makes a small rosette, or button, then uses toasted slices of almond as the petals, pushing them in around the base of the rosette.
Yield: 10 servings.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Frugal Romance

I ask you--does this not have the look of a true Valentine's dinner? What more could a girl in love ask? At the Basilica White Castles are considered a delicacy. They are useful for curing hangovers, good at breakfast and at 2 a.m. and great for Friday night dates that involve eating in bed while watching 30 Rock on the dvr. Here in Kentucky they are often served at parties right alongside real food. We know they are, well, whatever they are, but they're still so good. You might labor over a spinach artichoke dip or artfully encase your brie in pastry with cranberries, but halfway through the party the sliders will be gone and your cheese will be congealing on the plate.
Travis McGee's best friend lives in D.C. but grew up here in Kentucky. When he comes back for a visit he requires a trip to Pat's, his favorite steakhouse and a trip or two to Whitey's. He is a very cheap date. He also drinks milk with his sliders but we love him anyway. For those of you who have to make do with Crystals I give you my sympathy. They are an also-ran to the real thing.
White Castles across the country are offering candlelight, white tablecloth dinners on Valentine's Day from 5-9. This rare opportunity requires a reservation so make sure to call ahead. Nothing beats a $10 candlelight dinner and you already know Valentine's Day dinners are like New Year's--overblown and overrated. Give yourself the gift of frugality this Valentine's Day. Enjoy your sliders!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

$5 Magazine Subscriptions

Image my surprise when I opened my email this morning to find a magazine publishing company courting me with rock-bottom subscription prices. Last week New York Times reported on the demise of Domino, one of my favorite all-time magazines. I'm sure my subscription will be replaced with Architecture Digest, the publication of unattainable and untouchable design. Not interested. I am, however, a shelter magazine freak. It's my guilty pleasure. Before I became a blogger I would curl up in bed with a Dwell or Met Home and just pore over every layout. Now of course I am owned by this online monster that must be fed and have less time for such frivolity.
Anyway, Hearst Publishing is offering yearlong $5 subscriptions on an array of mags including O, Redbook, Popular Mechanics, Bazaar, Town and Country, and Esquire among others. I am personally going to indulge in my secret Oprah love. Click the title link for more info!