Yearly Archives: 2014
Post by Alison Hein.
It’s summertime! And peaches are in peak season. Head out to western New Jersey and its numerous u-pick farms, their hefty fruit trees laden with lush, pink-skinned, fragrant peaches. Flavors of fresh-from-the-tree fruit are sprightly and intense. I picked some recently, and after satisfying my craving for raw peaches (by, er, eating about four of them), I decided to lightly caramelize a couple of them and add them to a giant, baked crepe-like pancake, sometimes called a Dutch Baby.
While I was fiddling around in the kitchen, my new recipe somehow got mixed up with the Vanilla Ice rap song Ice, Ice, Baby (yes, there may be something wrong with me), and somehow new lyrics were born for my Peach Baby (definitely nothing wrong with that):
Peach, Peach, Baby
Peach, Peach, Baby
All right stop, and head to the kitchen
Peaches are ripe – here’s a brand new invention
Inspiration grabs ahold of me tightly
Flow like batter, sweetly and lightly
Will it ever stop? Yo, I hope not
Those Peach Babies really hit the spot.
I hope Vanilla Ice doesn’t mind me borrowing the rhythm of his iconic classic, and I hope you enjoy a peachy, rhythmic breakfast in bed. Don’t forget to rap along. 😉
2 large peaches
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter
¾ cup milk
¾ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
Place a 12–inch diameter cast iron frying pan, or other oven-proof pan, in oven and preheat to 425°.
Peel peaches by cutting a small “x” in the bottom of the fruit. Carefully drop the peaches into boiling water and blanch for up to one minute. Remove peaches from pot and immerse in ice water. Peel off peach skin starting at the “x’. Slice peach by cutting lengthwise to the pit, and pulling slices away from pit. Place peach slices in a large bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of sugar and cinnamon until evenly mixed. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan, add peaches and sauté until soft and lightly caramelized, about 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside.
Crack eggs and add to a blender or food processor. Mix until thickened and frothy, about 1 minute. Turn blender or food processor to low speed. With blender or food processor running, gradually pour in milk until mixed. Gradually add flour and salt until well mixed.
Remove heated frying pan from oven. Add remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. When melted, spread peach slices evenly across bottom of pan. Pour blended batter over peaches and return to the oven. Bake pancake until puffy and well-browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle top with remaining sugar and serve immediately.
Makes 1 large Peach Baby; or 2 to 4 servings.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Stick Dog by Tom Watson.
Once, when my kid was sick and being forced to bed rest for a couple days, I perused the library’s downloadable e-books to find something to keep him both immobile and entertained. I happened across a book called Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog which discussed (okay, “discussed” might be a strong word for it) the adventures of a stray dog called Stick Dog and his friends as they try to score a meal of free hot dogs. My son enjoyed the story and it has been a topic of discussion (more appropriate term here, I think) ever since.
WELL let’s fast-forward. He got a Kindle Fire for his birthday and as much as he’d like it to be nothing more than a Minecraft-playing machine, I have strong opinions about this. As a librarian, I cannot let what is loosely termed an e-reader go un e-read. So I have been loading it up with library e-books in a not-so-subtle attempt to show him the other features of his toy. In this process, I came across the book Stick Dog. I had no idea we had jumped right in with the sequel! Furthermore, the whole Stick Dog thing makes a LOT more sense in print than it does in audio format. Apparently the whole point is that the author (or the narrative author, who is a kid) is terrible at drawing. His art teacher disapproves of his stick dogs. So he draws a series of stick dogs, each with different features to prove that they may look terrible, but at least they look different.
This is the premise of the book. Peppered with self-consciously bad illustrations, we are taken on the adventures of Stick Dog and his friends, Poo-Poo (because he’s a poodle, not THAT kind of poo-poo!) Stripes, Mutt, and Karen. I love that one of the dogs is named Karen. It’s dumb, it’s simple, and if you are six, it’s laugh-out-loud funny. Join Karen and Poo-Poo as they seek out the source of those delicious hamburgers!
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Want luxury in your bedroom? Creating extravagance in your sleep space isn’t as hard as you might think. Try these five things and you’ll feel like a star in your boudoir in no time.
Make your bed a focal point
No matter how plain or ornate, the bed itself can be the focal point in a space and add to the luxury. Place the bed on the most inviting wall for the layout of your room (walking into the foot of the bed is best). Always make your bed and fluff the pillows, no matter what time you rise.
Unless you’re allergic, down is the ultimate luxurious item in any bedroom. Start with a feather bed (on top of your mattress and under your sheets) for the ultimate comfort. And no bed is complete with down pillows, so you get that cushy feeling every time you turn in.
Buy high thread count sheets
Purchase the highest thread count you can afford. Always go for 100 percent cotton and never synthetics. Your will thank yourself when you hit the hay and when you awake.
Arrange fresh flowers
Fresh flowers or greenery is a nice added touch and inexpensive. A small bedside arrangement of roses or wildflowers adds color and will make you feel like a king or queen.
Add fragrance or fresh air
If your home is in the country, fresh air is a must and will awaken your senses every morning, If you’re a city dweller and need to keep windows closed to block noise, add soothing lavender for scent. Use a diffuser, place lavender sachets in your pillowcases, or spray lavender on your bedclothes and bedding. Lavender treats insomnia and will relax you, even after the most stressful day.
Post by: Alison Hein.
You can’t eat deviled eggs for breakfast? Wow. Someone should have told me that a long time ago. Mom taught me to make these when I was just knee-high to a grasshopper (that’s a saying, right?), and they’re still one of my absolute summertime favorites.
We’ve made deviled eggs before on this blog. Not Mom’s cozy comfort food, but the more sophisticated Ebbitt Room Deviled Eggs (http://www.charlesprogers.com/blogs/archives/6243). Mom knew what she was about long before “five ingredient” dishes came around, and kept it really easy adding only mustard (she preferred Gulden’s), mayo and paprika. “Deviling” in the kitchen refers to the addition of a hot or spicy ingredient, in this case, mustard. The term first appeared in print in 1786, the association made between condiments like mustard or cayenne pepper and the fires of Hades.
While Mom’s eggs called for only a couple of simple staples (and really aren’t all that fiery), I learned on Wikipedia that people around the world commonly use the following ingredients in their deviled eggs: tartar sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pickles, relish, vinegar, olives, pimentos, onion, caviar, cream, capers and sour cream. They may use spices like chipotle, turmeric, poppy seed, thyme, and cilantro, and toppings including caviar, anchovies, bacon, shrimp and herring!
French people use pepper and parsley; Germans prefer anchovies, cheese and capers; and Hungarians add milk-soaked bread, parsley and sour cream, then bake them and serve them with a side of French fries! (Look for these exciting recipes here in the future!)
So, it’s summertime. People around the globe are making crazy eggs. And I’m grabbing a cup of coffee, one of Mom’s chilled eggs, and partaking in the devil of a breakfast in bed.
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons paprika
Place eggs in a small heavy saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil on high heat and continue to cook eggs for 10 minutes, until hard-boiled. Cool and peel.
Carefully slice eggs in half lengthwise. Remove cooked yolks and add to small bowl, setting whites aside. Mash the yolks finely with the back of a fork (or use a fine-mesh sieve for a very smooth filling). Stir in mayonnaise and mustard until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon or pipe filling into reserved whites, mounding yolk mixture in each half-egg. Sprinkle generously with paprika. Place in refrigerator and chill until ready to serve.
Makes 16 deviled eggs.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
A multipurpose room might seem like a design decision from days of yore, but more and more people –– particularly in urban areas –– are living in less square footage. That comes as no surprise since doubling up on functionality is practical for both space and budget.
A space that can be easily re-adapted is the guest room, particularly one that is used only several times per year (such as when your old college roommate comes to visit).
Here are four ways to make alternate use of your guest room after your guests have checked out.
1. The Guest Room/Nursery
If needed, use your guest room as a nursery and when Aunt Brenda comes for a visit, move the baby into your room for the weekend. This inviting dual-purpose space is lovely enough for a newborn, or your most discriminating in-law.
2. The Guest Room/Office
One of the most practical solutions for a multipurpose room is a guest room and office in one. This modern take on a traditional layout –– with a temporary wall separating the spaces –– works beautifully and enables one person to catch some sleep while another is hard at work. The room also functions well as a home office. This design is perfect for a city apartment guest room.
3. The Craft Room/Guest Room
Clever built-ins and a sewing machine turn an extra sleep space into a project area. The uncluttered approach leaves guests plenty of room to sprawl. Pleasant and practical for work, play, or rest, this versatile guest room receives a good amount of natural light through the double window and skylight.
4. The Guest Room/Children’s Room
These clever built-in bunk beds are ideal for kids or teens. This cabin could very well be a second home, in which case you could move the children into your room (perhaps on folding cots) when you have overnight company. This space is also convenient for a family of four if you have a couple with children come for a stay.