Archive for October, 2013

An Unexpected Visitor


Tuesday morning I was working at my computer (working = Solitaire) when I looked up in time to see a very special little face watching me. (And it wasn’t a mouse this time. A bigger face!)

Can you spot the visitor? (I think you can click on the photo to enlarge it. At least that’s how it works on my computer. If it doesn’t on yours, please run out immediately and buy one like mine.)

I grabbed my camera and snapped a few photos through the glass of the storm door, but they didn’t turn out too well, although I am fond of this little “Where’s Waldo” pic.

It became apparent that my new friend was not wary of confrontation, so I opened the door as he moved across the lawn to the grape vines. As he was helping himself to some sour snacks, I walked out onto the deck and took a few more pictures. He glanced up at me, but wasn’t about to run off until he felt like it. We chatted.

Not sure if you can tell by these photos, but he an unusual assortment of cat’s cradle material wound around his antlers: string and pieces of a vine and even a bright blue ribbon. Perhaps he’d just been to a birthday party.

In any case, I hope he comes back soon. Carrots await!

Cold Day, Quick Dinner


This isn’t exactly gourmet food, but that could be said for about 85% of my diet. Still, once in a while you need something that is quick and hearty for a day like today, when the first thing you see in the morning is snow on the back deck, and more flakes coming down. It’s a kind of day ovens were made for. Crank it up!

You know those people who cook and bake wonderful dishes and then take creative photos of their accomplishments? I am not one of those. But I did snap a photo of this dish mostly because the top of the stove was clean. I seized my opportunity! Here’s the recipe.

Pork Chops with Sour Cream and Stuffing

3 or 4 chops
1 package stuffing, prepared as directed on container or bag
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1/2 pint sour cream
1/2 soup can of milk

Brown the chops on both sides. They don’t have to be thoroughly cooked, because they’re going into the oven. Browning them just makes them look better. Place the chops in a 9×13″ baking pan.

Mix the soup, sour cream and milk together and pour this mixture over the chops. Top this with the prepared stuffing.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Then cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes longer.

Bob’s yer uncle.


It’s Pudding, Puddin’!


Oy, the day I've had.

Let’s say you’re a semi-retired old woman who actually works 2 days a week in other people’s homes, and who has yard work that’s not getting done, laundry piling up, dust balls in all corners and 7 (seven!) hospice patients to visit each week as well as a hospitalized friend that you visit each day. Let’s say you come home some chilly fall night and you’re too tired to cook actual food, but something sweet would just hit the spot. You know those nights.

What says quick energy more than pudding? Nothin’.

So here are two quick recipes guaranteed to warm up a chilly night and soothe those jangled “How the hell did she use 17 towels in one week” nerves. One’s easy, one takes a little more time, but they’re both really really good. And worth the bother. Just like you!


3 Tablespoons white flour
4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
3 Level Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 egg
3 Tablespoons milk
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
3 Tablespoons chocolate chips (optional but a luxurious touch)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Put all the dry ingredients into a large microwave-safe mug and mix well with a fork. Add the egg, milk, oil and vanilla, and mix thoroughly. Stir in the chocolate chips if you plan to use them. Put the cup in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at high power. The cake may rise over the top of the mug (depending on the cup you chose) but won’t spill over. You can use a knife to tip it out onto a plate, but I figure why mess up one more plate? Grab a spoon and enjoy!

(When I was taking Home Economics in junior high school, back when they still called it junior high school, our scary teacher Mrs Olsen instructed us to use a capital T for tablespoon in all recipes, and a small t for teaspoon. I don’t know if anyone still does this, but it sticks in my brain, so I do it most of the time. I digress.)

If you want to spend more time in the kitchen and get all Betty Crockerish, here’s one that’s really delicious and will serve more people than just you so you can feel a little more righteous. I think this may be one of my aunt Kay’s recipes. My sisters and I have made versions of this for years.


1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (plus 1/2 cup for later in the recipe)
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1-1/2 cups hot hot hot water

Heat oven to 350 degrees. You won’t even need a bowl for this. In an ungreased 9″ square baking pan, stir together the flour, white sugar, 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder and salt. Mix in the milk, oil and vanilla and stir with a fork until smooth. The batter will be very thick at this point. Spread it over the bottom of the pan as best you can. Sprinkle the batter with the brown sugar and 1/2 cup cocoa powder, and the pour the very hot water over the whole shebang. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let it sit for about 15 minutes before serving. You can serve this with whipping cream or ice cream if you’d like, but it’s great all by itself.

Don’t forget to eat real nutritious food at least once a day, but don’t neglect that part of you that yearns for sugar, either. And maybe clear some stuff off your calendar so you can take an occasional walk.

Happy fall! (The seasonal kind, not the kind I did at an auction recently that involved a boat motor and what my sister Kim jokingly called my “falling shirt” when I wore it a second time.)