Yeah, my arteries are clogging like the toilets at the SuperDome....

My daughter's (the FruitBat!) birthday was this week, so, last Saturday, we had a small family gathering to celebrate.  Most folks came from over an hour away; I thought it was only proper to feed everyone!  I love, love cooking for people and little gatherings like the one we had on Saturday is the perfect excuse to cook.  What was on the menu, you ask?  FruitBat's favorite meal seems to be breakfast so I had breakfast/brunch foods available:

 Fresh fruit-- of course!  She is, after all, the FruitBat!
Cream scones-- plain and cherry.  Oh, were these ever easy!
           Here's the recipe I used: http://breakfast.food.com/recipe/cream-scones-129193
Mini apple-cinnamon muffins (Thanks to Duncan Hines!)
Egg casseroles-- the family standby.  We had two-- one spinach and mushroom, the other bacon.  These are great make-aheads for holidays and special occasions.  And are easy, easy.
           Several pieces "squishy" white bread  (English muffins are also yummy!)
           8 eggs
           One cup of milk
           Salt and pepper to taste
           2 cups cheese (we like sharp cheddar!)
           Fillings of choice-- the traditional recipe calls for sausage, but I've also used bacon, scrapple, (YUM!), broccoli, peppers, onions, spinach, and mushrooms in varying combinations.  The mushrooms are best sauteed in dry sherry, BTW.

Butter/spray large baking pan.  Break bread into pieces and lay flat in bottom of pan (bottom should be covered).  In a large bowl, whisk eggs and milk; add salt and pepper.  (I've also added dry mustard on occasion.)  Spread filling(s) on top of bread, top with cheese.  Pour egg and milk mixture into pan.  This should come near the very top-- if it doesn't add more egg and milk!  Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, preheat oven to 350.  Bake casserole for about 40 minutes-- covered.  Take the foil off for the last 15 or so minutes-- casserole is done when eggs are set through.

I also tried a new baked French toast recipe.  Last year, I did an apple French toast, which was good, but..... This one is absolute vanilla-y heaven.  And I LOVE vanilla.  Love, love, love.  Thanks to The Pioneer Woman's blog for this one: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/05/cinnamon-baked-french-toast/  It's to die for.  I used challah for the base and let it dry out a bit before adding the milk mixture.  This was another overnight deal. 

Cake: Entirely homemade.  Same one that I made for Greg's birthday, but this one came out dry.  I don't know if it was the weather (dry) or getting interrupted in the middle of mixing (overmixing), but it didn't come out as beautifully as Greg's.  I used the chocolate cake recipe on the back of the King Arthur cake flour box and the no-cook fudge frosting recipe courtesy of the old stand-by cookbook: the old red-and-white checked book.  Betty Crocker?  Better Homes and Gardens?  I don't remember.  :-)  But FruitBat didn't care that it was dry.  It was chocolate.  And had a dinosaur-- specifically, a Tyrannosaurus Rex-- on top.  (RAWR!!)

All in all, a good time was had by all, and I can retain my title of Super-Mom.  (Though I share it with so many others.)

Until next time, friends....


Mrs. Bennett's Grandmother's Sugar Cookies. Or, om nom nom nom COOKIES!!

I've had a couple of requests for the 100+ year-old sugar cookie recipe.  This far surpasses ANY I've ever eaten, and sugar cookies are my absolute favorite.  I like simplicity, what can I say?!?

1 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup sour milk ( use 1 T vinegar to make sweet milk sour)
1/2 cup shortening (or 1 stick butter)-- I've only ever used shortening.  I don't know how these will turn out with butter!
1/2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 t vanilla
Add enough flour to make a rollable dough

Roll and cut out-- bake about 8 minutes at 375*

These can be flavored-- or have food coloring added.


How NOT to write a research paper

It's been quite a while since I've posted-- I've been quite busy with this first semester of teaching community college.  It has been quite the experience so far-- I love it and wouldn't trade it for the world, but it has also been quite the eye-opener as to how crappy our public education system is.  Or, in some cases, how crappy home-schooling is.  I'm currently in the midst of a gigantic stack of research papers-- reading, grading, and, in some cases, attempting to keep myself from slamming my head into a wall.  Repeatedly.  And one wonders why I like to imbibe every now and then?

I don't know if the crappification that is these papers is due to public, private, or home education.  Really, I don't.  But what I do know is that, somewhere along the line, they were not taught how to properly write a research paper.  What follows is some of the joy that I get to read-- and attempt to find some way of constructively criticizing-- this Thanksgiving. 

The Mayflower Voyage: 1620

There have been many works written on the mayflower voyage, but this paper uses only three of them. Mayflower, Dear America a Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple and http://www.sail1620.org. All three of the works have very similar views and facts on what happened when the Pilgrims encountered when they came over to America. The paper has a timeline taken from the site that has what happened from 1001 to 1700s. The paper will start with Dear America, then talk about Mayflower, then some information from the site.
The Dear America books were published in 1996. They are filled with real and fake life events. One was written on the mayflower voyage, titled Dear America, A Journey to the New World the Diary of Remember Patience Whipple. Even though the book is fictional, it mentions real tribes and people who lived in the 1620s. Mem, as she calls herself, writes about her journey to the new world and what she encounters when she arrives in America. Mem mentions that her father makes her a stool and how she feels very fortunate to have it and gloats a little because her younger sister doesn’t get a stool, she has to stand. The kinds of clothes they wear are dresses, coats, head-dresses, and many other layers that are not worn today. Mem likes to be with the Indians, especially Tisquantum a.k.a. Squanto. Later in the book, Mem talks about the Massachusetts settlement, saying “There is more talk these last days about the expedition to the Massachusetts province.” 1 At the very end of the book in the epilogue, it says, “Many of Remember’s hopes and dreams came true, others did not.”2 After the epilogue, it mentions a small historical note and straight from the text, it says “ the Pilgrims sailed to America in order to escape religious and political persecution and establish a settlement where they could live and worship in a way that they defined as godly.”3 In a way, that is true, but they also came over to America to live their own lives and not be ruled by a king as mentioned in Nathaniel Philbrick’s book Mayflower. Only a small part of this book will be mentioned, but it is an important part, the Massasoit tribe. It says that the “Massasoit’s first impulse was not to embrace the English but to curse them.”4 So, obviously the Massasoit did not like the English settlers on their land. The English did take over, but later learned to get along with the Indians and started to trade with them. The Massasoit made an agreement with the English that read,
  1. That neither he nor any of his should injure or do hurt any of our people
6. That when their men came to us, they should leave their bows and arrows behind them, as we should do our pieces when we came.5
That treaty may or may not be exact, but it is close to the real one. It is hard to make an exact replica or use the real document that was made hundreds of years ago. As the days passed, “they were strengthening their settlement’s ties with Massasoit and the Indians to the west.”6 As that was going on, Massasoit was preparing for battle, but never followed through with his plans. Now, a member of the Massasoit tribe has died, Bradford, and the tribe burries him, then they go along with their everyday lives. This is a timeline taken from sail1620. org.
1002 — Icelanders sailed to Newfoundland and possibly New England.
1498 — Sebastian Cabot sailed along the coast of New England.
1524 — Giovanni da Verrazano, sailing for France, explored the coast of New England and possibly abducted an Indian boy.
1525 — Estevo Gomes abducted 58 Indians sold in Spain as slaves.
1527 — An English Captain observed 14 European (Portugal, Breton and France) boats fishing off St. Johns Newfoundland. Within a few years 200 ships/year fished these waters.
1602 — Bartholomew Gosnold was greeted by Indians wearing French clothing.
1604 — Samuel Champlain established a colony at the mouth of St. Croix River in Canada.
1605 — Squanto and four other Indians were abducted by Captain George Weymouth and given to Sir George Fernando Gorges who hoped to plant settlements in New England.
1606 — Jamestown colony began, but abandoned in 1608.
1607 — Fernando Gorges financed a settlement at mouth of Kennebec River, abandoned it in 1608.
1609 — Captain John Smith mapped the New England coast and engaged in skirmish with Nauset Indians on the upper leg of Cape Cod.
1611 — Captain Edward Harlow abducted five Indians including two Sachem in Martha's Vineyard.
1614 — Captain Thomas Hunt kidnapped 27 Nauset and Patuxet. Later the same year French and Nauset were killed in a skirmish.
1618 — Nauset were killed by English crew sent out by Gorges.7
All credit goes to sail1620. org.
It was just easier to use this timeline from the site, than to recover things from memory, which is hard for some people.
This paper included three works on the Mayflower Voyage. They had information that was in all three. Some was fact and some was fiction, but it was interesting to write about and learn too. Dear America is fictional, but includes facts too. Mayflower is non-fiction, and has all facts and information fit for anyone. Sail1620.org has information that is the same as Mayflower and it includes a timeline of events. This paper was easy to write, even though much research was put into it.

1 Dear America pg. 130

2 Pg. 155

3 Pg. 159

4 Mayflower pg. 95

5 Pg. 99

6 Pg. 110

7 www.sail1620.org


The Powhatanization...

Oh, the things I do for authenticity.  I dyed my hair.  Yup, you read that right.  It's now a dark brown, thanks to an upcoming gig as a 17th century Powhatan.  Well, it's dark reddish brown, since apparently, it's nearly impossible to dye red hair without the color showing through.  I could have bleached it out first, but I refuse to go THAT far.  The dye is a temporary one, courtesy of Clairol.  It should wash out in about 28 days.  This is the first step in "becoming Powhatan"-- this afternoon it will involve self-tanner (really expensive self-tanner).  And Friday evening sometime, I'll take a henna pen and tattoo myself all up.  I'll be sure to post photos of the "transformation." 


In the end, is the beginning....

As it is with most people, my life goes in phases.  But, what I've noticed over the last few months is that my life phases appear to happen, most often than not, in August.  I was born in August.  New school years start in August (or close enough to it).  Most jobs I've had have started in August, especially those that we the most life-changing.  And, par for the course, another phase in life begins... in August.  A friend suggested that I start a blog about the insanity that is my life, so here I am.  August.  And everything after.