Not that Grandma is going to come online and see the birthday wishes, but I thought I would share them with you. I’ll tell you, having a 106 year-old Grandmother who is still sharp changes one’s views of aging significantly.
I’ll give Grandma a call today, if she has time to talk to me given the vast hordes of people who are likely to drop by her house to wish her well. Vast hordes is not an exaggeration. Just the sheer number of descendent’s she has at this point would justify the word “horde.”
Meanwhile, here’s Grandma’s recipe for Teatime Tassies for you to celebrate with.
1 – 3oz. Cream cheese
1/2 cup butter or margerine
1 cup sifted flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter
Dash of salt
2/3 cup broken pecans
Let cream cheese and butter soften to room temperature. Blend and stir in flour. Chill slightly until firm. About 1 hour. Shape 2 dozen 1 inch balls. Place in tiny ungreased muffin cups. Press dough on bottom and sides of cups. Divide half the pecans among pastry lined cups.
Beat together remaining ingredients until smooth. Add to pastry cups and top with remaining pecans. Bake in slow oven 325° for 25 minutes or until filling is set.
I grew up saying “pimenna” cheese and loved eating it on celery stalks or as pimento cheese sandwiches. Outside the South, it doesn’t exist. I knew Grandma made it, instead of buying the store variety, but I’d never tried until today.
Here is, roughly, Grandma’s recipe translated to the Pacific Northwest ingredients. She said she tastes as she goes along, so that’s what I did too. This is what I wound up with when it tasted “right.”
1 8oz. block Tilamook extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 7 oz. jar of diced pimentos, drained
3 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon canola oil
Allow cheese to come to room temperature. Grate the cheese into a bowl. Add the other ingredients. Mash with fork until smooth.
Give up, cheat, and dump everything into the food processor and pulse for one to two minutes until smooth. Refrigerate.
By the way, this is one of those flavors that you might have to grow up with. Rob thinks it is… unpleasant. On the other hand, the treat from his childhood which he still has a fondness for is Spam musabi, so, you know. Take his dislike with a grain of salt. I love it.
I’m not cutting and pasting the actual recipe because, as we all know, that would be a copyright violation BUT I will direct you to the recipe that I use when I make the Garbanzo Salad with Pomegranate Seeds.
I make it with and without the cilantro, usually skip toasting the ground cumin, don’t peel the cucumber, and frequently double the amount of pomegranate seeds because I love them so. Other than that I make it exactly as is.
This is one of the single best things to do with a pomegranate and is a staple at my Christmas dinner party.
I mentioned that at the reading tonight, there would be a specialty cocktail. Rina Weisman, the power behind SF in SF, has given me the recipe to share with you
As the inventor, I graciously share the recipe for all: 1 shot Velvet Falernum over ice, fill with a nice champagne, add a dash of Rose’s Lime Juice, and topped with a maraschino cherry. DELISH! And for those of you who don’t know Falernum…it’s divine.
“This famous Bajan ‘Gold Medal’ beverage and mixer with a uniquely refreshing flavour was developed by John D. Taylor of Bridgetown, Barbados in 1890. This sugar cane based liqueur born and bred in Barbados is a staple of every Bajan’s bar. Its uniquely refreshing flavor comes from a refined infusion of lime laced with fine cane syrup and ‘botanicals’ including almonds and cloves.”
I made one of those random dinners that I made up with what was in the pantry. It was tasty enough that we all wished it was a recipe and repeatable. Here is what I think I made.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small shallot, sliced
1 can artichoke hearts, quartered
3 oz. mushrooms sliced
3/4 bottle of leftover cheap white wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
6 oz. fontina cheese, grated
1/4 cup heavy cream or milk
1/2 lb. macaroni
Boil macaroni until al dente
Heat olive oil over medium flame. Saute shallots and mushrooms until soft, about five minutes. Add artichoke hearts, white wine, balsamic and Italian seasoning and turn heat to medium high. Reduce until only 1/4 of the liquid remains, or about as long as it takes to boil the macaroni. Reduce heat to low.
When the pasta is done, add it to the artichoke reduction with the 3/4 of the grated cheese and the cream. Stir together. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Finish under broiler until the cheese is melted and browned.
After seeing the film Ingredients we decided to finally sign up with a CSA and found one that goes through the winter. Our first CSA box contained:
Unsalted Butter, Noris Dairy
Eggs, Moonshine Farm
Bread, Flour Garden Baking Company
Cremini & Portabella Mushroom
Red Bartlett Pears
Yellowstone and Orange Carrots
Red Beets n’ Greens
We already had some beets that I’d roasted earlier in the week so I was thinking through the list of things I could make with two bunches of beets. I mean, we like them but what to do with them. That was the question.
At the same time, I was having the hankering for cookies. The problem with cookies is that we’ll eat them. But I remembered this outstanding chocolate beet cake I’d had when we’d done the Iron Chef Beet Battle. I went looking for a recipe and they were all loaded with sugar.
And then I found a beet cookie recipe. Digging through the internet, I found several more, most of which had almost no sugar. I figured, what the heck.
The recipe I used was… unbalanced in the batter form. Impossibly lurid pink, which was pretty cool, but had a strong flour and vegetal taste in the batter. So I looked at some other recipes and modified this one before baking. The “cookies” were tasty but the texture was bizarrely spongy. More like a muffin than a cookie.
So this morning I baked the rest in muffin tins. As muffins, the texture is very moist but I’ll have to play with the baking time and temperature to wind up with something that’s truly nice. So… good flavor here, texture isn’t quite there yet.
3 Beets (About 2 cups)
1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal
2 1/2 cups yogurt
1/2 cup Cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons Honey
1/2 Tablespoon Vanilla
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts
Roast and peel and slice the beet. Puree with yogurt. Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for 1 hour. Grease muffin tins and fill with batter.
Bake in 375 degree oven for half an hour.
This time I did them for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, like my usual muffin recipe, and had to stick them back in for another ten minutes. They got too brown on the outside, so I suspect that next time I need to lower the temperature slightly and lengthen the baking time to help them dry out a little. Really, gorgeously moist inside.
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 stick butter
1 cup milk
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 quart fruit, sweetened to taste
Melt butter in deep baking pan. Pour on top of it a batter made of sugar, flour, milk and baking powder. Have ready for it the fruit with the extra sugar. Pour the hot fruit on top of the batter. Bake in oven at 350 for 25 minutes.
Mom says adds a dash of cinnamon and that sometimes she puts walnuts on top.
Edited to add: This works with just about any fruit. I’ve made blackberry, peach, and apple cobblers. Mom says she makes pear cobbler sometimes.
Delighted that the gas for our stove had been turned on, I decided to make muffins yesterday. Compared to the stove in NYC, which was quite old and to the 1950s Wedgewood in our house, this oven is massive. It has a smaller external footprint but the interior seems large. Of course, the Wedgewood has a double oven, which makes cooking for a dinner party great since you can set separate temperatures.
If the complex will let us, I’d like to swap this stove out for a vintage one. The older stoves held a steady temperature, while the new ones, like this one, cycle on and off to maintain the temperature, which means that there are constant fluctuations. It’s not as nice for baking.
In any case, the reason I’m posting is to remind myself of this recipe. I hadn’t purchased eggs yet, which I remembered after mixing the dry ingredients together. So I looked up eggless muffin recipes and combined it with my usual recipe turned out a muffin I quite liked.
1 1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup sugar*
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda**
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar**
Mix flour, oats, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir in raisins.
Combine milk, oil and vinegar. Add to flour mixture and stir until moistened. Batter should be lumpy. Lightly grease muffin tins. Bake in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden. Makes 12.
*I use turbinado, because I like the crunch.
**These are the egg substitute for this recipe. Normally you’d use one egg instead, but I liked the texture of these. More scone like.
I’m also happy to report that the smoke alarm works. It is a little overzealous, since it is in another room and the muffins were perfectly done, just piping-hot.
Why is it cool that she looks like my grandmother? Because she’s based on Grandma, even if the name isn’t the same. My grandmother, is still alive, well, and sharp as anything. She was born in 1905.
I got the story idea because we were sitting around talking about things she had seen and it is staggering. She remembers World War I, for crying out loud, and the Titanic. Anyway, when she turned 100, she said, “I figure the Good Lord put everyone on this earth for a reason. I just haven’t done my yet, so I better get busy.”
To celebrate, I’d like to share these recipe cards with you. I made them for Grandma’s 101st birthday and they are some of my favorite things she makes.
Eleanor Louise Jackson stood inside the plain steel box of the time machine. It was about the size of an outhouse, but without a bench or windows. She clutched her cane with one hand and her handbag with the other. It felt like the scan was taking far too long, but she was fairly certain that was her nerves talking.
Her corset made her ribs creak with every breath. She’d expected to hate wearing the thing, but there was a certain comfort from having something to support her back and give her a shape more like a woman than a sack of potatoes.
A gust of air puffed around her and the steel box was gone. She stood in a patch of tall grass under an October morning sky. The caravan of scientists, technicians and reporters had vanished from the field where they’d set up camp. Louise inhaled with wonder that the time machine had worked. Assuming that this was 1905, of course—the year of her birth and the bottom limit to her time-traveling range. Even with all the preparations for this trip, it baffled her sense of the order of things to be standing there.
As small gifts at Christmas, I made homemade Balsamic dark chocolate truffles. This was my first foray into truffle making, so I was surprised by how easy they were to make. They were so easy that I decided to try another recipe from the same site that several reviewers recommended.
Tasty, yes. However, it prompted me to post to twitter, “I am hoping that wrapping the homemade truffles in gold foil will keep them from looking quite so much like turds.”
Why am I writing about it now? Because I need to make another series of small gifts and am strongly considering the truffles. My only problem is that I don’t know where to go for the gold foil in NYC.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch… The show I’m working on is in previews and I’m busily doing things like making foam tubes to turn a table into a wrestling ring– that’s hard to explain. I think it makes sense in the context of the show.Â Maybe…
The really interesting bit is that I’ve been making disappearing ink for blood. We’ve got this scene where several people get shot and stabbed, spattering blood everywhere, but the next scene happens immediately after that, with no time for cleanup.Â I remembered these squirt guns that my brother and I had had as kids, which had disppearing ink in them.Â I told the director about this and he got excited.
So, I’ve been doing chemistry at home to adjust the basic disappearing ink recipe into something that a) still disappears b) looks like blood and c) won’t hurt anyone.Â The challenge is that one of the ingredients is lye.Â Yeah.Â Even though the blood doesn’t go near any of the actors, just the walls, there’s only so much I can add before it becomes too caustic.
Right now, we’re trying to darken it because it is actually disappearing too quickly from the walls.Â It is utterly fascinating to me and an area I don’t often go with puppetry.
By the way, if any of you happen to know a way to introduce opacity to the mix and still have it disappear, do let me know.
1/2 lb. chopped onions (about 1 1/2 cups or 3 medium onions)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon salt
1 cup vinegar
Grind or grate each of the first four ingredients into a collander and let drain. Put them in a heavy sauce pan with the remaining ingredients, mix them thoroughly, and cook ten minutes. The recipe makes 2 to 3 pints.
This is mostly so I can find the recipe again. A friend of mine gave me a bag of Thai Iced Tea, which is one of my favorite beverages. I can only have one and early in the day, because I have issues with caffeine, ((More than a half cup of coffemakes me shake, sweat but mmmmm… so good.)) I just made it at home for the first time and it is perfect, perfect I tell you, for beating the heat.
6 cups water
1 cup Thai tea
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cream
6 tablespoons condensed milk
In a kettle, bring the water to a boil. Place the tea in a teapot or glass container. Pour the water over the tea and let steep until bright orange in color, 3 to 5 minutes. Strain into a clean container, such as a pitcher (or, if in tea bags, remove the bags). Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Fill 6 tall glasses with crushed ice and add tea to 3/4 full. Add 1 tablespoon cream and 1 tablespoon condensed milk to each glass.
Friday I had a meeting about a show I’m going to do set design for — one that does not involve any body parts at all — and then… then I had nothing on my calendar. I staggered for a bit, feeling like I had to race somewhere or do something but I didn’t.
I took the subway home, where my fabulous husband had dinner waiting. I spent some time getting work done that’s been pending at home and rediscovered the surface of my desk. It is brown and wood. Who knew?
Saturday, well, suffice to say that Saturday was lovely and is private. It has been a good six years.
Then today we rode the motorcycle up to D– and J–‘s home from their son’s second birthday party. It was good seeing them both. I hadn’t seen D– since the show we’d worked on in Iceland. My heavens. Their son was still in-arms last time I saw him and he’s a tyke now. Plus! They had a puppet show there, which was performed by our mutual friend Steve Widerman, of The Puppet Company. Great seeing him.
We headed from there to Katonah to visit the L– family. They let us store Rob’s motorcycle in their garage and, as a bonus, we get to spend time visiting. Tonight I introduced them to hot toddies and may have made converts.
If you don’t know, a hot toddy is the best cold weather beverage ever invented. Unless you don’t drink, in which case I’ll argue for hot apple cider.
We just returned from those outings. Heavens. I feel like a real human being.
Edited to add, per request:
My hot toddy recipe
1 shot of bourbon, whiskey or scotch
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Fill the rest of the cup with boiling-hot water
There are many variations and I make no claims that this one is The Genuine hot toddy, but it’s the one I like. Tweak to your hearts content; I like mine on the tart side, so I tend to keep the lemon juice ration high.
(Tor Books – July 14 2020) Mary Robinette Kowal continues her Hugo and Nebula award-winning Lady Astronaut series, following The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky, with The Relentless Moon. The Earth is coming to the boiling point as the climate disaster of the Meteor strike becomes more and more clear, but the political situation is already overheated. Riots and […]