Saturday, May 19, 2012

Of Plums, Chick Flicks And Picnics

It is a beautiful day here in Vermont, looking to be a gorgeous weekend!   Grandma is busy doing dishes and baking this and that to carry along for a picnic tomorrow.   We're going to be spending the day traveling down to Massachusetts to bring Grandma's eldest daughter back for a bit of a vacation (and help with more unpacking!), but I did want to pass along a few tidbits and a recipe or two between loads of dishes and trips to the oven.

Bread baked in a cast iron Dutch Oven

As I type,  iTunes is busy downloading a surprise!  One of the things that Grandma likes best about her precious, should-be-grafted-to-her-arm iPad is that it plays movies and with the 64Gig HD, there is plenty of space to carry around a small library of films.  We've long lived not too far fromJanet Evanovich's New Hampshire home, so she's been a "local girl makes good" favorite ever since Stephanie Plum made her first appearance in One for the Money.  Not long ago, Grandma and her youngest saw the movie version of One For the Money in the theater and quite enjoyed it - definitely worth watching again.  The movie was released on DVD &  Bluray on May 15, 2012, so guess what is downloading to Grandma's computer as she types so we can watch it during that long drive tomorrow:

PSST:  You also get an Instant Video Rental of this movie good for 30 days when you order this from Amazon.

Good FREE Things All Around!

As you know, Grandma reads and reviews more than a few books in Amazon's Kindle format.  Her iPad, though, also reads iBooks from the Apple store and Grandma must say, the difference between even a professionally done cookbook in Kindle format and one in iBooks is like the difference between a "diamond" from the five-and-dime and the Crown Jewels of Britain!  Cookbooks in iBooks look just exactly like they do on paper.  Sometimes, they are even interactive.

One truly scrumptious cookbook is FREE all around.  Those of you lucky enough to own either an iPad or an iPhone can download the interactive version of 100th Anniversary book, SunMaid Raisins and Dried Fruits.  This book is stunning!  Done by the folks at DK,  the book is 184 superbly done pages long.  The recipe section is particularly neat:  click the little button at the top of each recipe to choose to have the recipe units displayed in either US Standard or Metric measurements.  Grandma had such fun clicking back and forth!

If you don't have an iPad, don't feel left out.  You can download either a   US Edition PDF or a Metric Edition PDF.  If you choose, you can also download the chapters instead.

But wait!  Grandma's not done yet!  Sun Maid has produced many, many more cookbooks in the years since they began in 1915.   One of their latest is Sun-Maid Recipes for Healthier Eating.   You'll find almost every recipe book Sun-Maid has ever put out available for download on this page- 34 of them!

Nope, Grandma is still not done!  There's one more - the Gooseberry Patch Family Favorites recipe book!

But WAIT!  If you're anxiously awaiting Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, click here to enter Sun-Maid's  Safari Sweepstakes.  Grand Prize:  a Roar and Snore Sleepover at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

PLUS - Print the form you'll find on that sweepstakes page, buy any 20-ounce canister or 6-pack of 1 ounce cartons of Sun-Maid Raisins and either the DVD or Bluray version of Puss N Boots for a $3 rebate:


And Picnic Food!

One of Grandma's favorite books has always been Gene Stratton Porter's A Girl of the Limberlost*.  Elnora, the girl, is the daughter of bitter, often mean Mrs. Stanton, whose husband drowned in the swamp when Elnora was just a babe in arms.  Elnora deeply wants to go to high school, but her mother won't give her the money or do anything to outfit her, so Elnora must find a way herself.  Here they are, getting ready for Elnora's second day of high school:

When the work was finished that night Elnora took her books and went to her room to prepare some lessons, but every few minutes she looked toward the swamp to see if there were lights near the case. Mrs. Comstock raked together the coals in the cooking stove, got out the lunch box, and sitting down she studied it grimly. At last she arose. 
"Wonder how it would do to show Mag Sinton a frill or two," she murmured. 
She went to her room, knelt before a big black-walnut chest and hunted through its contents until she found an old-fashioned cook book. She tended the fire as she read and presently was in action. She first sawed an end from a fragrant, juicy, sugar-cured ham and put it to cook. Then she set a couple of eggs boiling, and after long hesitation began creaming butter and sugar in a crock. An hour later the odour of the ham, mingled with some of the richest spices of "happy Araby," in a combination that could mean nothing save spice cake, crept up to Elnora so strongly that she lifted her head and sniffed amazedly. She would have given all her precious money to have gone down and thrown her arms around her mother's neck, but she did not dare move. 
Mrs. Comstock was up early, and without a word handed Elnora the case as she left the next morning. 
"Thank you, mother," said Elnora, and went on her way. 
She walked down the road looking straight ahead until she came to the corner, where she usually entered the swamp. She paused, glanced that way and smiled. Then she turned and looked back. There was no one coming in any direction. She followed the road until well around the corner, then she stopped and sat on a grassy spot, laid her books beside her and opened the lunch box. Last night's odours had in a measure prepared her for what she would see, but not quite. She scarcely could believe her senses. Half the bread compartment was filled with dainty sandwiches of bread and butter sprinkled with the yolk of egg and the remainder with three large slices of the most fragrant spice cake imaginable. The meat dish contained shaved cold ham, of which she knew the quality, the salad was tomatoes and celery, and the cup held preserved pear, clear as amber. There was milk in the bottle, two tissue-wrapped cucumber pickles in the folding drinking-cup, and a fresh napkin in the ring. No lunch was ever daintier or more palatable; of that Elnora was perfectly sure. And her mother had prepared it for her! "She does love me!" cried the happy girl. "Sure as you're born she loves me; only she hasn't found it out yet!" 
She touched the papers daintily, and smiled at the box as if it were a living thing. As she began closing it a breath of air swept by, lifting the covering of the cake. It was like an invitation, and breakfast was several hours away. Elnora picked up a piece and ate it. That cake tasted even better than it looked. Then she tried a sandwich. How did her mother come to think of making them that way. They never had any at home. She slipped out the fork, sampled the salad, and one-quarter of pear. Then she closed the box and started down the road nibbling one of the pickles and trying to decide exactly how happy she was, but she could find no standard high enough for a measure.   
*The Girl of the Limberlost link will take you to Project Gutenberg, where you can download the entire book in a half-dozen different formats, including both Kindle and Epub versions.

Grandma adores picnics and not so long ago got herself a pretty, insulated, collapsible picnic basket.  This  is the first time she's filling it up with goodies to go, so, like Mrs. Stanton, thinks more than plain old sandwiches are in order!  Perhaps not spice cake . . .  but just maybe

Grandma's Special Lemon Bars

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter

Mix the dry ingredients, then rub in the butter, cut into small bits, until the mixture is well combined and crumbly.  Press evenly into the bottom of an 11 x 15 jelly roll pan.  Bake at 325F for15 minutes.

2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, slightly beaten
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

Mix the filling ingredients until well combined, then spread evenly over the hot-from-the-oven crust and return to the oven for 25 minutes or until just golden brown.  Make a Lemon Glaze with 1 cup confectioner's sugar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons melted butter and 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind in a small bowl.  Drizzle the glaze over the still warm bars from the tines of a fork.   Allow the bars to cool completely, then cut into 1.5 inch squares.  Store in a tightly covered tin with waxed paper between the layers.  These will keep several days to a week - if you can hide them long enough!

Happy Cooking!


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post, Grandma! Thank you.

  2. Lovely as always. Thanks.


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