Oh how I love the end of August and beginning of September. I LOVE fresh tomatoes. Really big, red, juicy, fresh tomatoes. Ours acquired a bad case of horn worms this year, but I digress. Ever since I read Harriet the Spy, I’ve loved tomato sandwiches with mayo. I love tomatoes with mozzarella, in a salad, or with just a little salt. But, by far, one of my favorite ways to eat fresh tomatoes is in a BLT.
Everyone has recipes that represent their childhood. My crispy baked pork chops are a riff on the Shake ’N Bake Pork chops I loved growing up. There’s also a baked chicken recipe that I’ll share soon, but the quintessential “treat” when I was growing up was my mom’s brownies. Everyone loved them! They are chocolately and moist and more a fudgier brownie as opposed to the more conventional cake brownie. As a matter of fact, in a classic case of only wanting what you didn’t have, I used to PLEAD with her to buy brownie mix in a box. I wanted the cake style brownie. Eventually, I had my fill of cake brownies and I wised up. I know this recipe by heart. It’s THAT good and THAT easy.
My mom got the recipe from her sister-in-law’s mother-in-law, who was also a close friend of my paternal grandmother. Did you follow that? That woman was also named Ruth. So, here you have, Ruth’s Brownies.
4 squares unsweetened chocolate (I use Baker’s)
2 sticks of butter
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of flour
4 eggs lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract (use the real stuff PLEASE)
1 pinch of salt
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional – I NEVER get to add walnuts because the people around me equate eating nuts to eating bugs. I think they add something, especially if you have a few minutes to toast them before adding them to the chocolate, but it’s up to you.).
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Grease an 11×13 pan
Place butter and chocolate in a pan on medium to low heat until both are completely melted.
Add sugar, mix until blended
Add flour, mix until blended
Add eggs, mix until blended
Add vanilla and salt, mix until blended.
Add walnuts (if using).
Pour into greased pan
Bake for 30 minutes – NO MORE
As long as your oven is close to temperature you’ll be fine. When you pull them out, you’ll wonder if they are really done. The top should have a light crust, but still look a little moist.
Allow them time to cool before cutting.
Serve with milk.
The recipe can be halved, but really who would want to do that?
Have you ever had maple syrup? No, not that artificially flavored and colored corn syrup you buy at the grocery store, I mean REAL maple syrup.
If you stand in front of the super market shelves and see the price difference between manufactured goo and real maple syrup, the temptation might be to reach for the goo. I beg of you, resist. There is a difference and it IS worth it.
Our neighbors have made maple syrup for a few years and this year, we (*ahem*, A-Man), got in on the action. Making maple syrup is very time consuming and mother nature has to cooperate for the operation to work well. The process actually starts in the fall, when you traipse around the woods tagging maple trees. Once the leaves fall off, it’s hard to tell the maples from other indigenous species.
When the daytime temperatures start to climb out of the twenties, and the night temperatures still dip below freezing, then, it’s time to tap the trees to collect the sap. A good sap year has a few weeks of daytime temperatures in the high 30’s or low 40’s and night time temperatures below freezing. Once you have a good quantity of sap collected, it’s time to boil it down to make syrup.
Sounds relatively straight forward, why then is Maple syrup so expensive? It takes approximately 40 gallons of sap and approximately 12-14 hours to make 1 gallon of maple syrup. The first boil of the season was yesterday. They started at around 7am and by 9pm they’d managed to make just about a gallon of syrup.
Oh, but what a heavenly nectar it is!
Note to A-Man: What I wasn’t able to collect with the waffle, I used my finger to wipe up. Not a drop was wasted in the creation of this blog post.
“Mom what was your favorite thing about Charleston?” Mim asked. “The laughter.”
Four women, three nights, four days in Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounds. At one time, our only connection to one another was work related, but over time we grew to be friends which is good because eventually our work paths diverged. With one exception, we stay in touch via Facebook and Twitter. We know enough about each other to be concerned if one of us drops out of sight for too long (yes Scottie I’ve checked up on you), but there are great stories to share when we see each other.
The weather was warm, but not too hot. The food was fabulous and Karon took it upon herself to introduce the Yankees to some of the bounty the South had to offer. Bless her heart 😉. We experienced, she crab soup, real crab cakes, fried shrimp (that tasted like shrimp, not breading), fried green tomatoes, grits, muscadines, and boiled peanuts.
I learned some of the local dialect too.
“Iced tea, half and half”, results in a beverage that tastes good, but won’t put you in a diabetic coma after the first sip.
“Nakin, nakin, nakin” means “Do you want a napkin for the blob of muscadine that is on your chin?”
“Boyld peanut?” roughly translates to soggy, cold bead that has the texture of an undercooked potato.
We went on a Segway tour, saw Patriot Point, visited The Marketplace in downtown Charleston and experienced a fantastic farmers’ market. We shopped at a Piggly Wiggly (a.k.a. The Pig), ate breakfast at the Waffle House and enjoyed afternoon refreshment at Kudu, a local coffee house that also served craft beers and had a lovely courtyard. We rode the trolleys, got completely confused about who was meeting who, and where, ate lots of food that went straight to our hips and even laid a myth or two to rest. But, most of all, we laughed and that was indeed, the best part of the time I spent in Charleston, South Carolina.
They were really cute balls of fluff. I say were because they are growing like mad and are beginning to enter that awkward teenager stage. They are eating/drinking/pooping machines! But they are super cute.
This is a cooperative project between four families. Almost everyone has met our feathered friends and some have even been initiated (ahem pooped on). I think the award for most excited for their arrival goes to Becky. We’re pretty sure that K, (Becky’s youngest girl) has handled each of the 24 chicks at LEAST once :). It is cute to watch the kids take to them. We are carefully handling them so that they will become very used to humans. Before you ask, we instituted strict hand washing policies!
Fish is super excited and has requested that caring for the chickens become a permanent chore of hers. Mim hasn’t shown a ton of interest, but he’s held a few chicks and that’s good enough for me. A-man keeps asking them when he’ll get some eggs.
Last weekend we went away for one overnight and Becky and her husband stepped up to care for them. It really is pretty straightforward but they do require regular attention, so the only way this would work for us is if it is a group effort. We’re lucky to have such awesome neighbors!
This will not become exclusively a chicken blog, but watch for more chicken posts in the near future.
For the first part of the story please see this post.
Well! That was fast. In my last post I mentioned I sent a letter to the former owner of Hanley’s asking for guidance. His wife called me they day they received the letter. Cheyenne and I had a lovely conversation about small business, brambles, buffalo, indian powwows and of course Honey Health Bread. Her husband has had some medical issues since his retirement, but I could hear him in the background chiming in occasionally with bits of information.
He couldn’t remember the recipe exactly and she couldn’t put her hands on it, but they both knew there was no rye flour. He said there was no molasses, but she thought there might have been some. He remembered a syrup, but couldn’t remember what kind. There was whole wheat flour, but it was graham flour, a courser grind of whole wheat flour (and also the kind of flour used to make Graham Crackers). The both reminded me that it was a very wet dough, which makes sense given the moist open crumb.
Cheyenne said she’d look for the recipe for me, but she’s busy and I’m impatient. I’ve acquired some Graham Flour and some Barley malt syrup and am going to set about creating a recipe for Honey Health Bread. Wish me luck!
We’d had a lovely overnight at the Red Jacket Resort, and had just finished a delicious, made-to-order breakfast. It was a beautiful, crisp, fall New England day and we were in no rush to get home, so we decided to spend the day exploring North Conway. My son is obsessed with maps, so he picked up one of those promotional maps that highlights local attractions. Despite being ready to explode from breakfast, as soon as I saw the words White Mountain Cupcakery, I knew we had to stop.
The store is located at 2757 White Mountain Highway, the main drag through North Conway. The sunny yellow victorian is on your right as you head North (maybe to Storyland or Cranmore Mountain). We found a parking spot right out front and made our way in.
Co-owner Kathy Iannuzzi was there with a bright smile. She welcomed us as she filled an order for the people in front of us. I asked the woman ordering if the cupcakes were good and she replied with a resounding YES!
The cupcakes looked picturesque, something out of a Martha Stewart cookbook. The cake base was sizable, and the rippled pillows of frosting nestled on top just called out to my index finger (fortunately they were behind glass).
We each selected our own cupcake and although tempted by the seasonal offerings (Apple Pie and Pumpkin), we all stayed with some version of chocolate. The kids both went with Chocolate Avalanche (chocolate cupcake, chocolate frosting and chocolate chips), my husband picked a Chocolate Sno-Ball (chocolate cupcake, with buttercream frosting), and I went with Chocolate Raspberry (chocolate cupcake filled with raspberry filling finished with chocolate frosting).
As pretty as something looks, in my mind, it is the taste that truly matters. The cake was a rich chocolate and the raspberry filling added nice moisture. The frosting was chocolaty enough, but I’m a buttercream purist. I’m not wild about buttercream frosting that incorporates shortening. However, pure buttercream frosting is VERY difficult to work with especially in any kind of decorative manner. In this case, the frosting was a good blend of buttercream taste and shortening for structure.
The cupcakes are sizable lasted through a 12 day in the truck while we explored. We had half for dessert that night and the other half held up nicely the second day. All in all, a stop well worth making.
The White Mountain Cupcakery also prepares cakes and seasonal delicacies (Cannoli, GingerBread houses and a family recipe for Struffoli). Visit them online at wmcupcakery.com or like them on Facebook. Definitely stop by the next time you are ANYWHERE near North Conway. You won’t be disappointed.