Friday, July 29, 2016

Blueberry Picking and the Blueberry Disaster

We went camping over the weekend with my parents.  We drove out the Steese Highway to a favorite spot, we played cards, went for walks, took naps, fished, and on Sunday we picked blueberries.  They seem to be out early this year, and they are plentiful!  I picked for just about an hour and got about 8 cups of blueberries.  That seemed like about enough for the day, and my back was getting stiff.  I carefully packaged the blueberries in a couple plastic containers and put them in the refrigerator of Bessie.  I figured I'd clean and freeze them once I got home.

We headed home a little later than usual on Sunday afternoon so we decided to stop at Chatanika Lodge for dinner.  Dave was looking forward to the Sunday special of fried chicken and I love their burgers and fries.  I can eat half a burger and half the fries, so I have lunch for the next day.  I headed out to Bessie with my doggie bag and opened the fridge to tuck away my treasure.  When I pulled the door of the fridge open, one of the containers full of blueberries flipped out of the fridge and on to the floor.  The top came off and the blueberries went everywhere!  I screamed a bad word (rhymes with truck) and then realized the motorhome windows were open and my mom was just outside..."truck!"

I got the blueberries picked up, most of the purple stains off the floor, and apologized to my mom.  I thought I would make it up to her by baking this coffee cake.  I knew she was going to stop by in the morning to do some laundry (they live in their motor home during the summer when they are in Alaska), and this nice treat was warm and waiting for them.

Next time I go to pick blueberries, I'm putting them in a ziplock bag.

Blueberry Coffee Cake
Bun on the Run Cookbook

Preheat oven  to 350˚F.  Spray a 9X13" pan generously with cooking spray.

Cream well:
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar

Add and Mix well:
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup buttermild
2 tsp. vanilla

Combine in separate bowl and Mix in until just blended:
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. saltF

Spread into prepared pan.

Top with:
2 cups blueberries

Sprinkle streusel (recipe follows) over top, squeezing lightly to form uneven clumps.  Bake until browned and toothpick comes out clean.  Test in several places, as the fruit can be deceiving.

Streusel Topping
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt

Mix together until texture is like damp sand.

1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
Bake for 55-60 minutes

1 year ago:    Camping with Bessie
2 years ago:  Chicken Salad and a Cool, Rainy Day
3 years ago:  Berries with Buttermilk Pastry Cream and the Death of My Stove
4 years ago:  Tiramisu Brownies and Getting Left at the Gas Station

July 29, 2017   Sunrise 4:43 am  Sunset 11:09 pm  Temp H 59/ L 54°

Monday, July 25, 2016

Hazard Lights

The Chick and I went to Seattle for the weekend.  The Seattle DIL had a baby shower and so the Chick and I went down to join the party.  We flew down late Friday after work, stayed at a hotel close to the airport, picked up our car in the morning, and drove out to Everett where the Curly haired boy and the DIL just bought a house.  We had only two fails driving in Seattle that weekend.

After we picked up the car I pulled out the GPS and said to the Chick, "Where do you want to go to breakfast?"
We checked the list on the GPS for someplace that was close.
"How about the Bagel Bakery," she said.

We touched the screen, hit go and the directions popped up and off we went.  We were getting closer and closer to the airport and then turned onto a road that said "NO PUBLIC TRAFFIC. RESTRICTED AREA.

We had chosen a restaurant in the airport.  That was the first fail.

We pulled over, I pulled the GPS off the front window, chose a different place and I reattached the GPS and off we went.  We were sitting at the stop light ready to turn and the Chick asked,
"Are your hazards on?"
"No, just my blinker." I stated and looked down, only to see both blinker lights flashing.  Yes, my hazards were on!  I panicked and searched for the hazard button in this new rental car.  I couldn't find it.  I saw a button and pushed it, only to realize it was the push button for the ignition.  I had just turned off the car.  Meanwhile, the light turned green, and there I sat.  I had to put the car in park, restart the car, put the car in drive,and take off, but not before the car behind me honked.  All this time the hazards are still flashing.

I turned the corner and finally found the hazard button, I had bumped it when I was reattaching the GPS to the windshield.  That was the second fail.

I have decided that people in Seattle are not very friendly, here we were with our HELP, WE NEED HELP! flashers going and someone beeps their horn because we didn't turn the corner fast enough.

The rest of the weekend went pretty easily.  We had fun at the baby shower, got to visit with the kids, and then Sunday went to my niece's house and visited with her, her man, and my two great nieces! It was a wonderful weekend, and ONLY two fails!

I did have to drink when I got home drinking during the weekend since I was driving.  I came home and made this refreshing drink. The two fails were totally forgotten by the second drink!

Coconut Banana Refresher

2 shots pineapple-coconut juice
1 splash lime juice
1 shot vanilla vodka
1/2 shot half and half
1/2 shot banana schnapps

Place all ingredients into shaker.  Shake until very cold, strain into glass and enjoy.

1 year ago:    Patriotic Pie and the Kitchen Disaster
2 years ago:  Banana Chocolate Chip Donuts
3 years ago:  Sweeping the Streets and Blueberry Buttermilk Cake
4 years ago:  Strawberry Upside-Down Cake

July 25, 2016    Sunrise 4:29 am  Sunset 11:23 pm  Temp H 72/ L 52°F

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Grapenut Bread

The last couple of summers, while my dad is here, he mentions some bread I used to make that he loved; Grapenut bread.  He talks about the crunchy crust and the flavor that he loved...he is hinting, I know.  The problem is, I never was the one who made that bread.  It was my mom.  I was hoping she would take the hint and make the bread, but she hasn't.  My dad brought it up again just the other night and I (again) mentioned that it wasn't me.  My mom got on the Google and looked up a recipe, and gave it to me.  Now, what is a girl supposed to do but make that damn bread for her dad.

And that is what I did.

I had to make it twice.  I didn't like the way the first batch turned out.  I had to make a couple of adjustments, add some vital gluten, and reduce the cooking time.  I think it turned out pretty good the second time around.

Now, when my dad is up for the summer again this year, I can make his bread.  Of course he will probably remember that my sister made it...

Grape-nut Bread
adapted from Kathie Carr on Just a pinch

2/3 cup grape-nuts cereal
1/3 cup oat bran
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp. molasses
1 1/3 cup boiling water
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
2/3 cup lukewarm water
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. vital gluten
2-3 cups all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine the Grape-Nuts cereal, oat bran, brown sugar, molasses, and boiling water.  Stir until completely mixed.  Set aside to cool.

Once cool, mix 2/3 cup lukewarm water, yeast, and sugar together.  Let sit for 5 minutes to proof.  Stir cooled grape-nuts mixture and then mix in the yeast mixture.  Using a stand mixer, or by hand, stir in whole wheat flour, salt, gluten, and 2 cups of the all-purpose flour.  Continue to add the last cup of all-purpose flour until a soft but firm dough is formed, using as little of the last cup of flour as possible.

Turn onto a table and knead, adding as little flour as possible, until dough is smooth and elastic.  Put dough in a greased bowl, cover, and set in a warm place until double in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough, turn it out of the bowl, and knead about 3 minutes.  Shape it into a ball again.  Cut the ball into 2 equal pieces.  Shape each piece into a loaf shape and place in two greased loaf pans.  Or shape into oval and place on cookie sheet.  Let rise again until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F about 15 minutes before baking.  Set a pan in the bottom of the oven or on the bottom shelf.  Put 1 cup of water in the pan to provide steam to help the crust bake properly.

Bake until the loaves are dark brown and sound hollow when tapped from the bottom, about 40-50 minutes.

Cool completely on a wire rack.  Slice and serve to a very happy dad.

1 year ago:    Surfing Lessons and Coconut Mojitos
2 years ago:  The Curly Haired Boy's Wedding
3 years ago:  Adult Root Beer Floats
4 years ago:  The Dogs Eating the Strawberries and Strawberry Pie

July 21, 2016   Sunrise 4:15 am  Sunset 11:37 pm  Temp H 56/ L 51˚F

Monday, July 11, 2016

Zip Line in Talkeetna

We had another great weekend in the camper.  We went to Talkeetna for the Zip Line.  Last year was so much fun we decided to go again, take the BBoy and the Chick and a niece and Dave's sister wanted to go.  It was a beautiful day for the zip, sunny with just enough breeze to keep us from overheating or the bugs getting us.  
My favorite zip is the last one, it is the longest and over this beautiful little pond.
My family, just before our zip adventure.
We left Fairbanks on Friday evening, drove to Healy and ate at 49th Brewery.  Their meatloaf with mashed potatoes and crispy fried onions is my favorite, and enough for 3 meals so I can share with everyone and still have left-overs for lunch the next day.

We made it to Talkeetna mid day on Saturday, had some lunch and off to the zipline.  After our adventure we went to West Rib Pub and Grill for dinner and then back to camp to visit and drink champagne.  

Sunday morning we had a new adventure and went to Trapped in Talkeetna.  It has two puzzle rooms where you have to figure out clues and solve a mystery. Before we went in, the guy who was running the place said we picked the hardest room and no one had solved it yet. Well, we solved it and had 3 1/2 minutes left to spare! We had an awesome group, and it was so much fun.  We will do the other room next year when we go.

So I had a fun weekend with the family.  I hope you had a fun weekend too.

1 year ago:    Cake Pops

July 11, 2016   Sunrise 3:41 am  Sunset 12;12 am  Temp. H 73/ L 54°F

Friday, July 8, 2016

Lemon Bar Mug Cake and the Weak Stomach

My husband, and all his siblings, have the weakest stomachs around.  A strong smell, an unpleasant odor, the sound of someone getting sick...send them all into gag mode.  I can't imagine how they made it through poopy diapers for their own children!

Well, last night at 12:45 I woke up from a deep sleep to the sounds of my 15 year old golden retriever having gastric trouble...all over the light carpet in my bedroom. I jumped up, got the dog outside and came back upstairs to find my oh so helpful husband, huddled under a blanket on the sofa, trying not to heave himself.  I, in my most loving voice, said something like, "quit being such a pansy and help me deal with this."
To which, he continued to dry heave in the family room.

I went downstairs, got paper towels, disposable gloves, and a plastic bag to begin the gruesome clean up task.  I got to work and then (lovingly, I'm sure) said something like, "would you get off your ass and go get the carpet shampoo and the machine?"

He brought them up to me and ran back to the sofa and hid under the blanket.

"Open some damn windows and find a candle." I screeched.

Well, I got a cursory clean on the spots, enough to make it until I get home from work and can scrub on them a little more, and went back to bed.  Dave slept on the sofa.

So this treat is all for me.  Dave doesn't deserve any.  And also notice, it's not chocolate.  I don't think I'll be eating chocolate for a while.

Lemon Bar Mug Cake
Mug Cakes, Leslie Bilderback

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. graham cracker crumbs
1 large egg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
zest from one lemon
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

In a large mug, cook the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds until melted.  Transfer 2 Tbsp. of the melted butter into a small bowl and set aside.  Add cracker crumbs to the mug, and stir them with a fork to coat the crumbs with the remaining butter.

To the butter in the bowl, add the egg and whisk with a fork.  Stir in the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice and mix thoroughly.  Pour the lemon mixture in to the mug on top of the cracker crumbs. (The crumbs will not be alarmed.)  Microwave the custard for 1 to 1/5 minutes until set.  Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes for maximum enjoyment.  When cool, top with a dusting of confectioners' sugar.

1 year ago:    Chocolate Heart Cakes and Summer Weddings
2 years ago:  Patriotic Pie
3 years ago:  White Water Rafting
4 years ago:  The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies and Baking to Warm Up the House

July 8, 2016  Sunrise 3:29 am  Sunset 12:23 am  Temp. H 75/ L 55°F