Tag Archives: recipes

My Taste Is All In My Mouth

A couple of years ago I confessed my utter failure as an interior designer in Fail! and Fail! Part Deux (Or Is That ‘Duh’?).  It was embarrassing, but at least after I departed that career long ago (to everyone’s relief, including my own) I figured I was pretty safe from future colour-related embarrassment.  After all, there are lots of other people who can’t create attractive colour schemes, and they get through life just fine.

And I have gotten along fine, other than a minor issue twenty years ago with house paint that turned out to be a revolting pale candy-pink instead of off-white.  (But I was the only one who had to live with that particular mistake; so no harm, no foul.)

But this week my self-esteem got slapped down again:  At the dollar store, where I was buying balloons for Hubby’s aunt and uncle’s upcoming 60th wedding anniversary.

The clerk paused halfway through ringing up the sale.  “Are you sure you want these purple balloons?” he asked.  “Were you looking for black instead?”

I whipped out my reading glasses (which I obviously should have been wearing in the first place).  Sure enough, the balloons that looked black in the package were clearly labelled ‘purple’.

“Yes,” I said with relief.  “Thank you!  I’m really glad you caught that.”

He smiled.  “I figured you must have gotten them mixed up.  Purple didn’t go with the other colours you’d picked out.”

I stood gaping wordlessly.  The other two colours were pearlescent gold and dark red.  He was right:  The third colour was supposed to have been black; but I would have thought deep purple, dark red, and gold would be fine together.  It certainly wouldn’t have occurred to me to question somebody about them.

Maybe he knew something I didn’t.  Maybe the balloons are actually vivid purple and screaming red when they’re inflated. But I still wouldn’t have flagged that as a mistake; I would have just assumed someone was decorating for a Red Hat event.

(And now I’m giggling, because if you follow that link to the Red Hat Society site, there’s a heading in ornate script that reads “How It Farted”…  Okay, fine; it actually says “How It Started”, but I can’t help seeing ‘farted’.  Clearly I’m childish as well as colour-impaired.)

Anyway, it’s a sobering thought that even a middle-aged male dollar-store employee has better taste than I do. I’m comforting myself with the fantasy that he’s actually a talented designer moonlighting as a store clerk for amusement, between his lucrative contracts with upscale clients.

At least the party decorations will look okay, because I didn’t choose the colour scheme — I was only the minion dispatched to buy balloons.  So with any luck I’ll make it through another decade or so without any further hue-miliation.

Meanwhile, I’m going to go and eat some of the yummy cinnamon pinwheels I made the other day.  At least I know there’s nothing wrong with my taste there!

Cinnamon Pinwheels
This recipe is tasty but not too sweet… like a cross between a biscuit and a cookie.  (So you can eat lots!)

Dough:
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix to form a soft dough. Sprinkle worksurface with flour, sprinkle dough lightly with flour, and roll out into a rectangle about 12″ x 20″ and ¼” thick1.

Filling
1¼ cups brown sugar
½ cup flour
1 egg
Enough milk to make it spreadable (start with about 2 teaspoons and add more as needed)

For the filling, mix the flour and sugar thoroughly, then mix in the egg. The mixture will be damp and crumbly. Add enough milk to make it barely spreadable. (Too thin and it’ll all run out before you can get the pinwheels on the pan.)

Spread the filling over the dough rectangle, being careful to push the filling out to the ends; but leave about ½” of the dough bare along the long edges at the top and bottom. Sprinkle liberally (or to taste) with cinnamon.  You can also sprinkle on nuts or raisins if you like.

Cut the dough rectangle into quarters2. Beginning from one of the long edges in the middle (yes, the gooey part), roll the first quarter like a jellyroll, out to the naked edge of the dough3. Slice the roll into rounds about ½” thick4 and place them on a parchment-covered baking sheet with lots of space to expand5.

Bake at 350°F approximately 15-18 minutes, or until lightly browned. (You may have to adjust the baking time considerably, depending on how big and thick you’ve cut your pinwheels.)

*

1 Despite the layer of flour underneath, the dough usually sticks to the counter when you roll it out. Don’t panic. You’ll have a ridge of loose flour along the edges of the dough rectangle after you’ve rolled it out, so just take a thin metal egg flipper… (Spatula? Whatever those things are called.) …and slide it through the flour and under the dough. It’ll push the flour underneath and free the dough at the same time.

2 This will give you a roll about 1½” in diameter, which yields a baked pinwheel about 2″ to 2½” in diameter. If you want bigger pinwheels, you could make larger rolls.

3 Only do one roll at a time, and only slice as many rounds as you need to fill your pan. If you roll and slice the whole thing, the filling will ooze out before you can get it all baked.

4 You could cut the rounds thicker if you want a more ‘biscuit-y’ size and texture, but I prefer them more cookie-like.

5 Don’t worry when the roll squishes flat and your pinwheel looks like some weird alien/amoeba thing. Just lay it out on the parchment and push it approximately into shape. When it bakes it’ll go back to being roundish.

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Great Balls Of Portent

Every now and then I think to myself, “Diane, maybe it’s time you grew up. Seriously, you’re a fifty-year-old woman. Don’t you think it’s time you stopped snickering at farts and tasteless double entendres? Even teenagers aren’t as dirty-minded as you.”

And just about the time I take a deep breath and decide to squelch my baser nature and write nothing but G-rated blog posts forever more, I find an anatomically correct building.  (And it’s Canajen, eh?)  Newmarket Health Centre in Ontario, Canada, was kindly brought to my attention by the CTV news team: http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/aerial-view-of-anatomically-correct-newmarket-health-centre-sparks-jokes-worldwide-1.2254688.

I don’t care how innocent and/or politically correct you are, there’s only one thing that building resembles.

It was built in 1951 and nobody seems to recall who the architect was. He (I use the male pronoun because it seems the most probable) just couldn’t have drawn up those plans without recognizing the likeness. And the terracotta-coloured scrotum is the biggest joke of all – there’s no way that was accidental. It sticks out like a sore… um… never mind.

The architect probably thought he was safe in perpetrating his practical joke. After all, there was no Google Earth or satellite view available to the general public in the 50s. But now his puerile sense of humour is, erm, exposed, for all to see.

I think it’s hilarious, but remember I was innocent in this. I didn’t go looking for the likeness on my own – even I am not so twisted that I scour aerial maps in the hope of finding suggestively-shaped buildings. Nope; fate just dumped this article in my lap. So to speak.

Coincidence, right?

I think not.

Exactly a day after the Newmarket Man showed up in my news feed, my friend Chris sent me a link to “the tastiest balls you’ll ever put in your mouth”.  If you want to try ‘em, the recipe is here:  http://www.mtlblog.com/2015/02/poutine-poppers-are-the-mini-mouthgasm-you-need-to-eat-now/#

Needless to say, the tagline incited a few comments, largely focusing on the quantity of comparative research required in order to authoritatively apply the superlative. (Or, as we boorish types put it: “How many balls has he actually tasted?”)

Again, there’s really no polite and wholesome way to take this. Unless you were raised in a social vacuum by a Victorian nanny, a tagline like that is going to make you laugh. Or choke, I guess.

But my point is this: These two items popped up completely unsolicited, only a day apart, immediately after I’d considered cleaning up my act. They’re clearly a message from some higher (or probably lower) power: A clean mind just isn’t in the cards for me.

Since omens frequently arrive in threes, I waited with bated breath to see if fate would offer me any more family jewels. But, nope; that was it for this week.

When I think about it, though, I guess it makes sense. Balls generally come in pairs.

Did you get any portents this week?

P.S. I just realized it’s been nearly three whole years since I last wrote a post about balls: https://blog.dianehenders.com/2012/05/02/oh-balls/. Maybe my mind is cleaner than I think. But probably not.

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Virtual Cookie Exchange

cookie exchange

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog to bring you… cookies!  And fudge!  And snackables!

My blogging buddy Linda Grimes invited me to participate in a virtual cookie exchange, and being the foodie I am, I couldn’t resist.  I promised her my simplest no-cook 3-ingredient fudge and a couple of other super-quick recipes that make you look like a holiday hero for making goodies from scratch.

Author Linda Poitevin is hosting this festival of yumminess.  Here’s a  list of all the recipes so far, and she’ll be posting another update today and again next week.

Here you go – happy snacking!

Simple Chocolate* Fudge

1 – 300ml can of sweetened condensed milk (about 1-1/4 cups – it doesn’t have to be perfect)

2-1/4 cups chocolate* chips

3 tablespoons butter

Instructions:  Melt everything together, stir well, and pour into greased 9×9 pan.  Chill.  Eat.

(Note:  If you’re using the microwave, only nuke in short bursts until the milk gets hot and then stir until the chips melt.  If you over-nuke it the chocolate chips turn to cardboard instead of melting.)

*Tip for holiday heroes:  You can make this into any kind of fudge you want – just use a different kind of chips.  White chocolate, milk chocolate, butterscotch, whatever.  If you want to be fancy, throw in some chopped nuts, crushed candy canes, dried cranberries, chopped-up candy bars, or whatever else moves you. If you want to go all Martha Stewart and give homemade fudge as a gift, make a double batch and chill it in a parchment-lined loaf pan, then slice it into slabs the way the fudge shops do.

Simple Peanut Butter Fudge*

1 cup butter

1 cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

3-1/2 cups icing sugar (powdered sugar)

Instructions:  Melt the first 3 ingredients together, stir in the icing sugar, and press into greased 9×9 pan.  Chill.  Eat.

*Tip for holiday heroes:  Make the peanut butter fudge first, then make a batch of chocolate fudge and spread it over top.  Choco-peanut-butter fudge, hello.  This almost fills the 9×9 pan, so if you like your fudge a little thinner, put it in a 9×13 pan instead.

Ranch Crispix Snack*

1 box Crispix cereal

1 box mini-Ritz crackers

1 bag cheddar Fishie crackers

1 bag pretzel twists

1-1/2 cups roasted almonds/pecans/macadamias, whatever

1/3 cup canola/sunflower/corn oil

2 envelopes Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dressing mix

2 or 3 tablespoons dried dill

Instructions: Throw everything in a paper bag* and shake well.  Pour out.  Eat.

*This recipe might sound kinda gross to those who don’t like ranch flavour, but it’s irresistible if you like tangy, crunchy, salty snacks. And you can shake it up in anything you have handy – a turkey roaster or covered pail or whatever.

And now…

Since this is actually supposed to be a cookie exchange, here are my favourite molasses spice cookies.  They do require baking so they’re not quite as fast and simple as the first three recipes, but they’re soooo worth it!

Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies

3/4 cup melted butter

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

4 tablespoons dark molasses

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

Instructions: Mix the first 4 ingredients together, then add the rest and mix well.  Roll into teaspoon-sized balls*, dunk in sugar, and place on a greased baking sheet.  Flatten with a fork* and bake at 350 degrees approximately 12 – 14 minutes or until lightly browned.

*Note to Linda Grimes – I know this one has more ingredients than you want to deal with, but you gotta give me credit – continuing in your fine tradition, I said “balls” and “fork”.

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