Gramma's Pen

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sweet Peas

Just a few Wayfarers had a Birthday Party for Marjorie this morning. That's all right. I sent some flourless chocolate cake home with Ingrid and with Marjorie. the rest came home with me and landed in the freezer. When it gets solid, I'll wrap it properly and seal it for some later date when we might need dessert. The recipe is relatively simple, just a little involved, certainly worth the effort:

Danielle's Temptation

1/2 pound butter (2 tablespoons melted)
6 1/2 oz semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2 oz pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
9 egg yokes
4 egg whites

Chocolate Ganache

3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
8 oz semisweet chocolate broken into 1//2 oz pieces

Lightly coat the bottom and sides of a 9" x 3" springform pan with butter. Line the pan with parchment paper and butter it. (I didn't have any so used a buttered circle of aluminum foil)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat one inch of water in bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place the remainder of the butter and 6 1/2 oz of the chocolate in the top half of the double boiler. Cover the top with film wrap. (I didn't bother to do this). Allow to heat for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat, stir until smooth, and hold at room temperature. (I cooled it quickly in the fridge).

Place the egg yolks and one cup of sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on high until lemon-colored and slightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on high for 2 more minutes.

While the egg yolks are beating, whisk the egg whites in a large stainless steel bowl until stiff, but not dry, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Using a rubber spatula, fold the melted chocolate mixture into the beaten egg yolk mixture. Add a quarter of the beaten egg whites and stir to incorporate, then gently fold in the remaining. egg whites.

Pour the chocolate cake batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake the cake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. (During baking, the surface of the cake will form a crust; this crust will normally collapes when the cake is removed from the oven). Invert the cake onto a cardboard cake circle (or serving plate) and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To prepare the Ganache, heat the heavy cream, butter, and sugar in a 1 1/2 quart saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil. Place 8 oz semisweet chocolate in a stainless steel bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth.

Use a cake spatula (or any old spatula you have) to smooth the sides of the cake with 2 tablespoons ganache. Pour the remaining ganache over the cake, spreading with spatuala to create an even coating of ganache on both the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes. If you like, decorate the top with shaved chocolate curls.

(Since it was midnight when I made this last night, I happened to make a big mistake. I beat all the egg whites and incorporated them into the batter. That's a no-no. Kedg likes to save the extra five whites to make meringues. The cake may have been a little lighter, but tasted scrumptious anyway).

When Marjorie brought me home this morning, Bobby and I stayed out and picked off all the sweet pea pods from our shriveled up vines. Now I have a pill bottle half full of seeds for planting next year...guess it will be January or February. Does anyone know when?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Lavender Blue, Dilly, Dilly

Oh yeah...what has green flecks through and through and smells like garlic? My new loaf of French Bread! Beverly graciously shared her French Bread recipe with me and I put all the Ingredients into the machine and pushed the button after breakfast this morning. It rose clear up to the top of the contraption and baked to a golden crispy, brown. In fact, I had to cut off the equivalent of three slices before I could reach the fold back handle to lift the loaf out of the baker. The first fat slice I put in the toaster oven right away. That made my open face tuna sandwich for lunch. I relished that with tall glass of skinny cranberry juice. Perhaps I was a little heavy handed with the Dill Weed (a whole tablespoonful slipped into the batter), but with a like amount of granulated garlic it turned out to be just the way I like it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Only Wednesday

Here it is Wednesday already. My handy-dandy notebook is jammed full of ideas for my presentation for tomorroe morning. But...

Yesterday Kedg dropped me off at DMV so I could replace my California ID card. She made an appointment on line for me to see someone at 9:15 Tuesday morning. BJB was busy all morning with various and sundry things like being a monitor of sorts for BJB's field day at Bear's school down on Lincoln. So JWB was volunteered to come pick me up. I offered to walk, but my daughters nixed that idea. JWB was scheduled to ferry his sister and Josh to school at Acacia by 8:30 so just a jog brought him to DMV early. Took off for a library errand then back to DMV. Would you believe? They made me take off my glasses for the pic that obviously broke the camera. At any rate, they now have a new right thumbprint and new signature and I only need to wait about four weeks to get my ID in the mail. Meanwhile I have been carrying my old driver's license that expired on my birthday in 1997...afterall, it's the same address and number, and a much more flattering picture. My hair isn't all gray on it. While there, waiting in one of the myriad chairs, I bumped into my old co-worker, Pat. You remember when we had such a twit for a supervisor...she made us work every other weekend with an odd day off during the week? That meant Pat missed half her son's Little League games and I missed every other Breaking of Bread meeting. We decided that I would work all her Saturdays and she would work all my Sundays. We didn't ask permission, we just made our own schedule. I doubt if our super ever checked. We had the appropriate hours punched in on our time cards. As long as it added up to 40 was all that seemed to matter to her.

Monday afternoon our chairs were ready, fresh from the warehouse. CC borrowed Ladybug's big red truck and together, she and Kedg picked them up at LaZboy. No problem. The problem came at the back was too narrow. And the back gate was also too narrow. So they drove aroundd to the front. I knew the front door was wide enough. That is the way our Refrigerator had to be delivered a while ago. Now, the old wing chairs are stacked "spoon-style" in the garage. Ladybug promises a garage sale in the near future. I hope it's soon. The pile in the corner of our garage is growing to mountainous proportions, you know, all those games, clothing etc., and odd furniture.

Kedg has jumped in with both feet in putting together plans for her birthday celebration in October at Kihei, Maui, Hawaii. She and Weeze and K-Wid and Canada Gal hope to go together at PF and KF's time-share condo.

This isn't getting my story written. My sestina was such a FLOP! I really have to put some effort into it this week.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Errand Day

Yes, this is the day we load ourselves into the car and traipse around town to do our errands: To the bank to make Kedg's weekly deposit, to JoAnn's for notions, to shop for groceries, to peruse second hand shops, to stop at Long's to take advantage of some of their specials, to the nursery just to look see. Bobby gets so excited because HE gets to ride "shot-gun" with the car window down and his ears flapping in the breeze. Before we go I must make some bread. It is such a simple exercise, and I really love the results. Today I think it will be raisin-walnut.

Today we'll be having a cook-out at the Cabana as a farewell party for John Wendt, our handy, dandy, do everything man who has been with us here at Peppertree for as long as we have been here (20 years +). I'm told this is his third farewell, for each time we have been able to coax him back. He knows how to fix everything.

This afternoon we plan to go to KLB's piano recital. She's doing so much better with a new teacher who just happens to be more strict.

Maria and Nellie came yesterday morning and now my house sparkles plenty. This is such a relief for Kedg. Her business seems to be growing by leaps and bounds since she has moved her shop, so when she gets home at night, she is really tired.

We are already working on Kedg's birthday celebration. This is a special year and we're planning DV to send her to Hawaii where she was born. Three of her friends are looking forward to going with her.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Liquid Gold

Yes, that's what I call it. Chicken Broth is liquid gold. Anything you can do with those old stand-by soups: Cream of Mushroom, Cream of Chicken, Cream of Celery and even Cheddar Cheese, you can use Chicken Broth. Great nutrients cook out of the bones. Their goodness also contriut

After you have strained the broth, simmer it until reduced by one half.

Saute one slivered onion and one peeled, sliced Granny Smith Apple.
Sprinkle over one tablespoon curry powder and one handful of raisins.
Add one cup of canned coconut milk or make your own
(Pour hot water through one cup coconut in a strainer three times)
Add two cups of chicken broth.
Thicken with a slurry made with one tablespoon cornstarch and one tablespoon water.

This basic sauce is good with plain parboiled vegetables cut into 1" pieces: potatoes, carrots, turnips, celery, peas, string beans. Dress it up a bit with one cup of chicken chunks, OR one cup of leftover beef, OR a can of baby shrimp. You could even use fresh shrimp.

Saute one slivered onion. Add one cup leftover chicken. Add two cups chicken broth. Add one cup sour cream. Generously sprinkle one tabespoon paprika. Thicken with slurry of water and cornstarch. You can add mushrooms to this if you like.

Parboil potatoes, carrots, onions, one cup each.
Place in casserole dish. Add one handful of frozen peas.
One cup of thickened chicken broth.
Cover with biscuit topping, either bisquick or buttermilk biscuits from a tube. Bake until biscuits are done. Serve with chicken broth on the side.

Brown beef cubes in bottom of crockpot along with one slivered onion.
Add parboiled potatoes and carrots. Add two cups beef broth and one can of undiluted tomato soup. Thicken with cornstarch/water slurry. Put into crockpot. Cook on high four hours, OR on low for eight hours. Serve with crusty loaf of French bread.

To one cup of beef broth add one boullion cube, a little celery salt or garlic salt. Thicken with usual slurry, this time use flour instead of cornstarch. Some folks like to use a splash of soy sauce or Worcestershire Sauce too.

Thses are some of my favorites. I'm sure you can use your imagination and come up with many other uses for beef and chicken broth.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


I just finished lunch of consomme and grapes before I went out to water. I know, I'm a little late, but I wanted to get Ladybug's ham bone in the crockpot with beans and an onion before I went outside. I like to clean up the kitchen before I leave it, too. Now, since DaBu helped us move our furniture around, switching dining stuff and computer stuff, I'm much happier. You can't see all the computer paraphenalia from the front door. Then too, we've been eating outside on the patio, it's so pleasant in the morning with all the birds flittering about teaching their youngin's and in the late afternoon we have that ever ready breeze wafting in from the west. That blows whatever flies we might have, clear into the next county.

The trickle of the fountain is tickling my ears. His highness, Bobby is stretched out on the porch swing. But, to get to the bones. SAVE THEM! Keep a large container in the fridge and fill it with leftover chicken bones and skin. When you have steak (ha ha) keep those bones, along with pork chop bones in a separate container. When you have enough, put chicken bones and skin in a large pot. Cover with water and simmer with a quartered onion, for about an hour. Remove the bones. Strain the broth. Put in a large square round Tupperware, cover and refrigerate. The next day, or the next, turn out onto a large bowl. It will be stiff. Scrape off ALL the fat and discard. Cut gelatinized remainder into cubes and enjoy a wholesome, good for you, low calorie "soup" or, if you'd rather, continue on by adding noodles and vegetables, heat it for supper. Rice is a good addition instead of the noodles (even if leftovers hardened, they'll soften). Let's get to the beef and pork bones. When an ample supply has accumulated, spread them all on a broiler pan and bake for about an hour in s 300 degree oven. That is the secret of rich brown favor. Transfer bones to a large pot. Cover with water and simmer away for another hour. Skim while cooking or just wait and strain when you take them off the stove. Again, throw away the bones. Refrigerate overnight, then remove the fat that has risen to the top and hardened. This also is a good consumme. But,it makes a good base for gravy or barley soup,too.

This week I started a sourdough starter. I'm having so much fun with the bread machine Aquila used to use. Jeannette says he has retired from being the family baker. Afterall, he's only 91. 'Bout time wouldn't you say? Anyway, Hemet is not even close to the atmosphere of the San Francisco Bay area. And, what dumb-dumb would even attempt to make bread on a bright June day (no not June Gloom), but bright and sunny and warm. I guess I could have waited until another day, but I was anxious to try out a new recipe. The bread turned out to have good flavor. I have been enjoying it. It does NOT have that tantilizing sour taste I remember from the time we spent up in San Leandro.

Does anyone want the recipe for starter?

Monday, June 04, 2007


For Anonymous...Splenda is supposed to be spoon for spoon, but I think that is too sweet...I like to use 1/2 for one. Flavorwise it is two teaspoons per packet.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Why did it take so long?

Well, I did it. I finally came to my senses and arranged with the nice WaMu people to automatically take funds monthly from my checking account and transfer them to a savings account. That way, every December and April, the property taxes will not hit me like a Mack Truck. I'll be ready. After all, I do have my Verizon, Cal Gas, Edison and Time Warner taken care of automaticaly. That's especially good since I have run out of checks. I have been managing with only my Debit Card. This is errand day and I've made my lists for: Bank, JoAnn's, Staples, Long's, Target and the Nursery for more potting soil. Thursday after Wayfarers' Group, Marjorie and I went to Siam Gardens and had wonderful soups...she had shrimp, I had coconut. Then we stopped by Henry's for blueberries. Can you imagine only 60 cents a box? They were so sweet and yummy I had Schnickle stop on her way home from the shop to pick up some more. Breakfast has never been better. Yesterday I had mapped out a plan: De-bone the chicken I had roasted. Put the skin and bones on to make broth. Put the Pumpernickle makings into the bread machine. Try to make a sourdough's now three days later. The sourdough HAS started, smells nice and sour...will put it all in the machine right after breakfast. Had Chinese with the cauliflowers yesterday, the Trucker had gospel last night. I think it shows that he does not get out to mid-week meetings. He seemed to strain a bit. We have a bright, bright Monday morning. I'll be out planting before it gets hot. Marshmallow told us that we are watering our Japanese Maple too much...that's what makes the ends of the leaves turn brown. I'm going to use my last slice of pumpernickle for my poached egg this morning.