Category Archives: 2022

Borrowed Cookies

I made brownies and cookies for a funeral luncheon last week (and, of course it was the hottest day of the summer so far).   I just did the basics and was happy that my friend didn’t insist on lemon bars, which seem to be a funeral luncheon staple these days.

The chocolate chip recipe that I used is one that I got from our Anna years ago, which she got from the Betty Crocker Boys & Girls Cookbook, which was published in 1957.  Since Anna shared this recipe, it has pretty much replaced every other chocolate chip cookie recipe that I’ve ever used.  Great taste, great texture and really reliable.  What more could you ask for in a chocolate chip cookie?

Betty Crocker’s Boys & Girls Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
2⁄3 cup shortening (I used butter-flavored Crisco)
2⁄3 cup butter softened (but not too much)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1  cup chopped nuts (optional)

Directions

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Mix thoroughly shortening, butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla.
  • Stir in remaining ingredients adding chips at the end
  • Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.
  • Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown.
  • Cool slightly before removing from baking sheet.

Yield:  I use an ice cream scoop so this recipe makes approximately 3 dozen larger cookies.

At the luncheon THREE different people asked me for the recipe.  Luckily since I had just made 3 batches the day before, I still had it in my memory.  The yesterday another friend texted me, asking for the recipe as well.  I’d feel proud except that I feel Betty Crocker and Anna should get all the credit!

Do you have a recipe that just always works? 

 

 

Summer Garden

In most summers, we would be at the height of flower and fruit production. The roses and peonies would be at their best, the veggies in the garden would be thriving, and we would have an abundance of strawberries and rhubarb . Well, this summer is different.

Our garden beans are finally setting out new leaves after the hail storm last week. The rhubarb was shredded by the hail, and it has been pulled and cut back. The strawberries that we just planted in May survived the hail, and are in their first year of setting out runners. We are clipping the flowers off to stimulate runner production, and there will be no fruit until next year.

Depending on where the flowers and shrubs were planted, they either were shredded or are in full bloom. Prior to the hail, Grover Cleveland, our earliest and most lovely peony, was in bloom.

I love his very deep red color, which is rare in peonies. Grover was hailed out. We also have some Japanese peonies in the front yard, which are spare and ascetic and a contrast with more traditional peonies. They were protected from the hail by the house.

We planted more traditional peonies in the church garden a couple of years ago, and they were protected from the hail by some Siberian elms.

I am happy that our raspberry bed was protected from the hail, and we anticipate a stunning raspberry harvest in a month or so. They are only a few feet from the rhubarb, but they were protected by the hail by our neighbors’ awful ash trees. How ironic!

What are your favorite summer flowers? If you were to redo your yard, what would you plant or change? Any good raspberry recipes?

Baby Gates

Puppy training is going well. Kyrill bops his potty bells when he needs to go outside. He sleeps soundly with us for five hours at a time before he needs to go out. He even stayed close by us, unleashed, in the front yard for more than an hour on Sunday as we gardened. (That is highly unusual for most breeds of terriers, but typical for Ceskys. )

We have lots to work on in terms of thievery and his refusal to drop objects he isn’t supposed to have. He has yet to learn that our wine glasses and coffee cups are off limits on the lamp tables. He also has a love of cat food, and that requires a baby gate.

Our baby gates are somewhat decrepit, and hale from when we were training our second Welsh Terrier about 20 years ago. It was surprisingly hard to find new ones in town, and I had to order one from Target. We feed our cat in the basement. She, poor thing, has been sorely neglected since Kyrill’s arrival. We need to restrict his access to the cat food but allow her access to the upstairs. We have a strategically placed gate that allows her to jump over but keeps him out of the cat food and litter box. We also have a gate on the backyard deck so he can be outside when we work in the yard and be safe. He howls in frustration when he spies us and can’t get to us. It is hard to meet every creature’s needs these days.

When I was about 3, my parents had an enclosure in the back yard that they put me in so I could be outside but they didn’t need to watch me continuously. My mother said I got so upset when I saw the other neighborhood children running around that the let me run with them all over the block. No disaster ensued, but that was brave of my parents. Of course, this was in the early 1960’s, and things were different then.

What were your boundaries for roaming when you were a child? Did you have curfews? What are your experiences with baby gates?

Mel-O!

Last week YA and I had dinner out with friends of ours.  In the course of the evening I mentioned that my last program was coming up – a warehouse run for which I always buy donuts for the warehouse crew.  This led to our friends sending us a Star Tribune article from a couple of weeks back that listed the top donut shops in the Twin Cities AND a lengthy discussion of their favorite donut place:  Mel-O-Glaze.

Mel-O-Glaze has been around for sixty years and I’ve driven by it numerous times but never in the morning, which is when my donut-desiring genes normally kick in.   Most of my routines are south and southwest of my place, so I have to make a decision to go someplace east and it doesn’t happen on a regular basis.

But after listening to rave reviews for a good ten minute, I determined to make a different decision.  I went east the next morning, timing my trip to about the time they opened.  This turned out not to be the best time to go…. although they were open, they weren’t really up to speed yet.  An hour later would probably have been better.

There were enough to choose from however.  When the owner, Paulette, came out from the back I told her it was my first time.  She quickly ran to the back and when she returned she had a donut hold that she gave me as a sample.  It’s easy to see how people say these are addictive.  In fact, even though I’m not usually a donut-hole fan, I bought six, along with another donut for myself and one for YA.   The donut holes didn’t even make it back home.  So now in addition to Sunrise Donuts, Bogarts Donuts, Sunrise Breads and, of course, Dunkin, I’ll be adding Mel-O-Glaze to my roster of donut place. Guess I’ll be going east a little more often now.

Any embarrassment of riches in your world?

A Need To Worry?

While I was gone in Minnesota earlier this month, my colleagues on the Youth and Family Team decided I needed a new lanyard for the electronic card that opens some of our office doors. They got me the one you see in the header photo.

It looks quite nice, and is quite comfortable to wear, but there is a slight problem with it. It poses a safety issue. The beads on the lanyard are set on a strong, thin wire, and there is no catch on it that will release if the lanyard is pulled hard enough. That means someone could strangle me with it. Being strangled is something one needs to prepare for when working in a mental health facility. All the lanyards issued by our administration have safety release catches on them just for that reason.

I am not worried my colleagues have it in for me, but I thought they would have been more safety aware. We have safety in-services quite regularly. I suppose this is one of those situations I could write about to an advice. columnist “Are my coworkers trying kill me?”

Have you ever written to an advice columnist? Which ones do you like to read? Have you ever felt someone had it in for you?

Still Growing

Today’s post comes from Ben

I’ve got this young man helping me out this summer. Fifteen years old and has his drivers permit. Great kid and we get along well and he’s just fun to have around and I guess he enjoys being out here too.

On his first day he was stumped by the shift lever on the steering wheel of the truck. It’s an automatic, and I hadn’t realized that was unusual, but I guess most cars are on the center console now. Lucky it wasn’t a ‘three-on-the-tree’. Although I do wish I had a clutch for him to learn.

And then his second day, we were driving around in the gator and he said, “Doesn’t this thing have windows?” I said yes, and he realized it had a crank and it was “Oh. OOOOhhhhh!” yeah, I knew the crank was a pretty far out concept for kids today.

I talk about crop development and since he’s always in shorts, he better learn what nettles look like. He knows wild parsnip. Nettles: I got a bad rash from them as a kid, but nowdays, if I don’t scratch it when it first burns, it goes away and doesn’t bother. I’m not sure that works on everyone and I told him I don’t want him to find out. Anyone know about nettles?

We measured out 17.5’ on the corn the other day. (that being 1/1000th of an acre on 30” rows. Then count the plants in the 17.5’) Actual stand is about 30,000 plants / acre. Theoretically I was planting corn at a rate of about 33,000 plants / acre based on gear ratios used, which dictate how fast it drops seeds, and the amount of seed I used on the acres I had. Then you expect some won’t germinate and the planter skips a few here and there, and that’s why I measure out the final stand to see what the actual rate is.

We dug up some soybean plants and it was really interesting to see the root development in comparison to the size of the actual plant. And there are already nodules on the roots that are converting nitrogen to the plant from the air.

I cut open an oat plant the other day. The kernels are coming; they’re in the top third of the plant and I’d expect them to start heading out any day now.

Corn is growing fast, it’s already knee high, and can be considered ‘lay-by’ in another week or two. Not that it matters to me; I’m not in there doing anything with it. The header photo is a few days old the corn is twice this tall.

The chickens enjoy making holes in the yard and taking dust baths.

Ducks are still doing well. This photo doesn’t show all of them, but it does show two guineas, a dog, a chicken, and some ducks A little bit of everything.

We’re cutting the roadsides this week and hope to get them baled up in the next few days. Hoping the rain predicted for Saturday doesn’t happen just so I can bale. My helper and I got the haybine out and greased up, and got the baler greased up.

Any fun stories about getting into the weeds?

Yard Work

Last night after work, Husband and I finally got our cabbage and cantaloupe plants into the home and church gardens. It has been a weird, late, planting season. I hope it isn’t too late for them. The replacement tomato and pepper plants go in tonight. We have to work quick, as our puppy has learned to scale his outdoor play pen walls, and we can’t have him outside with us in the front yard anymore. He howls if he leave him safely in the back yard. He just wants to be with us, but, being a terrier, he might dash across the street to get some prey, and we need to keep him safe.

One reason we have a vegetable garden in the front yard is so we don’t have to mow the lawn. Husband got a reel mower last year, but decided a cordless electric one would work better, and he got that last week. He still has this odd sense of pride about a neatly manicured lawn (although we have very little lawn to manicure). I am Dutch enough to pull every weed I see, but I don’t feel too overburdened with them.

I was saddened to hear that ND Senator Cramer is convalescing at home after a serious accident while he was doing yard work. I don’t agree with his politics, but any Senator who does his own yard work and gets his hand crushed by a boulder while moving it has my sympathy. He may need fingers on his right hand amputated.

I would like to see the neatly manicured lawn go the way of the Dodo’s. I detest the chemicals and water that are wasted on them. What grass we have looks awful, but people see our vegetables and flowers, not the turf.

What do you think is a good alternative to a lawn? What are your favorite and least favorite yard tasks?

I Love a Parade

I believe every little town in the land has some kind of summer weekend festival/carnival. The Twin Cities’ one grew into the Aquatennial. Winona calls theirs Steamboat Days, and it happened this past weekend.

Husband and I pretty much steer clear of the crowds and the midway at this point, partly because our bodies no longer enjoys things like the Tilt-a-whirl. But there are a couple of things I like to do:

– the Vintage Car Show – 3 blocks of downtown cordoned off, for a walk down memory lane. (Click on link for actual colorful photo…)

– and The Parade. Quoting from the Winona Post:  “The Winona Steamboat Days Grande Parade is… packed with great enterainment including the U.S. Marine Corp Band from New Orleans, the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, 34th Infantry Red Bull Army Band, area community royalty and several awesome high school bands…” 

The Parade at noon on Sunday is kind of a big deal – I think it’s the only city-wide parade all year. People start staking out their territory on Saturday, cordoning off their turf or setting out awnings, blankets, and lawn chairs. I got there right at noon, expecting to just stand, but was able to sit on an unoccupied stair step for a while – Husband came later.

There was an enterprising guy with a wagon stuffed with bags of kettle corn for $6. . There were Clydesdale horses, a collection of colorful Jeeps, and a person on stilts.

Winona’s Clown Club gave the Shriners some competition, and there was a group of little dancers from a local ballet studio that stole the show for a while there.

Winona’s own Little Warriors Drum Corps brought up the rear – they are amazing when they are in there element, many ages and cultures of kids who have found a place to showcase their talent. (Wish you could see the littlest guy better.)

When was the last time you watched a parade, or attended a summer festival?

Where else have you been able to gather where there are people of all ages, and from all walks of life?

Messages To The World

Our puppy gets two or three walks a day, and this has afforded me more observations of the neighborhood. I noticed on my most recent walk a faux rustic sign on a front porch that said in rather decorative lettering “Don’t Let The Top Step Kick Your Ass.”

That sign had been purchased, not made by the home owners. I have a hard time understanding why people would put a sign like that in the yard. I suppose it is meant to be amusing. It sure makes me hesitant to get to know them.

We have a small, cast iron pig with wings in one of our front perennial beds. I hope it tells people we are somewhat fanciful and goofy. The Gulf War veteran down the block has an American flag along with his Marine Corps flag. He is a good guy. I am happy to say our neighborhood Trump supporters don’t have any signs up. I suppose if I really wanted our neighbors to know what we stand for we would erect a free little library by the front Spruce trees.

What signs or symbols do you have in or outside your home that could tell people about you? What messages would you want to convey to the world from your yard?

Big Storm

At about 4:30 yesterday afternoon a huge thunderstorm roared through town. Husband and I were at work. The wind was well over 60 MPH, and the rain was torrential. For a while it was impossible to see anything out of the office windows due to the rain and wind.

Driving home was difficult, what with the flash flooding. The water was halfway up the tires of our van in some intersections. I never saw rain like this in our 35 years here.

We arrived to this when we got home. That is our front yard veggie garden.

There was no hail in the part of town our office building is in, but our home neighborhood got nailed. The hail was about 1/2 inch in diameter. I think much of the garden is lost.

The rhubarb didn’t fare too well, either

This is disappointing, to say the least. We still have some cabbage plants and cantaloupes to put out, and I think the chard, kohlrabi, and peas are ok. Tomatoes, peppers, and pole beans may be lost. It is too early to say. We never had a hail storm like this, either, so I don’t know how plants recover after something like this.

Husband will be in Bismarck today, and is going to Lowes to check for tomato and pepper plants. There aren’t many bedding plants left in our greenhouses here.

Got any hail stories? How do you handle disappointments?