Saturday, June 25, 2016

ALI BLAKE and MINI CORN DOG MUFFINS

By Mary Kennedy                                    
                                                                       

Ali Blake from the Dream Club Mysteries here! As you know, I love to experiment with new recipes for our little candy shop-cafe, Oldies But Goodies. One of our most popular items is "goodies to go." That means anything you can hold in your hand, put on a stick, or scoop out of a disposable cup. We have a whole menu devoted to these fun items!

                                                                                  

Savannah is such a beautiful city that most of our customers want to get something quick and eat it on the go as they explore the Riverwalk and the Historic District.  Of course, some customers like to linger in the shade of our umbrella tables in the back garden, but I'll save those recipes for another time. 

 I've always been a fan of corn dogs. I use veggie dogs when I make them, but I realize some folks like the real thing. All you need is corn bread batter and whatever kind of hot dog you like. Plus some wooden sticks you can buy at a craft store or the grocery store. 

They're very easy to make, just remember to get the oil at 350--if you drop them in before that, they tend to get soggy. They should be crisp and delicious if you get the batter right and get the temperature right. The batter can't be too thick, or the corn dog will taste "doughy." and it can't be too thin, or it won't stay on the hot dog or veggie dog. Experiment and you'll quickly get the hang of it.

                                                                              

I have a special cornbread recipe that I've used for years, but probably any recipe will do, even the mixes you buy at the supermarket. 

I decided to experiment with mini corn dog muffins and they were a huge success. You can make them in muffin tins, or mini muffin tins. Don't they look good? And of course, they're baked not fried.

You can use big slices of hot dog...

                                                                              

Or just sprinkle little pieces of hot dog into the batter....



You can also add a little cheddar cheese, like I did in the photo at the top of the page...

If you like pigs in a blanket (I do!) you can try something completely different and use poppy seed dinner roll dough wrapped around a hot dog and use a skewer. Yes, I know it's not a corn dog, but these are really tasty and our customers love them. I take the dinner roll dough apart, roll it into "strips" and then wrap a strip around half a  hot dog and put a stick in it. Then just sprinkle with poppy seeds, bake them in the oven and voila!

                                                                                    

I hope you'll try these at your next picnic or get together! And of course, if you're ever in Savannah, Taylor and I would love to have you stop by. There's always sweet tea and home-made lemonade waiting for you at Oldies But Goodies--on the house!


Mary Kennedy

Friday, June 24, 2016

Favorite Cups

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

Mr. L and I have an entire cupboard filled with coffee (and for me, tea) mugs. (Okay, except for a few plates that I bought at a yard sale, and maybe a votive candle holder, a couple of plastic glasses, and a jar with some bean seeds.) Some of them we've been drinking out of for nearly 25 years. (It's our big anniversary next month - and if I don't get a BIG CAKE there's going to be hell to pay!!! Just sayin'.)

We've got cups we bought each other, that my mother bought me (before we were married) that my aunt gave my mother, and she gave me, and what we bought on vacations.

We've got souvenir mugs from Maine, Edinburgh, Toonces the Cat (from Saturday Night Live), Star Trek (lots of those), Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Chicago, The (Frank Lloyd Wright) Larkin Company mug (from Buffalo); the Roycroft mug (from East Aurora, NY and the whole US Roycroft arts and crafts movement); my Mum's blue willow or blue Danube mugs; mug from Lombard Street (that zig-zags) in San Francisco (and nearly scared the poop righ tout of me when Mr. L drove me and my parents down it at break-neck speed), the
MILK mug I bought in LA when I lived there for way to short a time, chili peppers from New Mexico, Cadbury's Dairy Milk (chocolate) mug obtained at a charity shop in St. Andrews. Scotland (where Prince William went to university and met Kate Middleton). etc. The "How To Eat A Lobster" mug from Maine, given to me by my very first publisher. The howling wolf mug Mr. L bought at on a business trip to Scottsdale, AZ. The mug I gave Mr. L from the Henry Ford Museum that I bought when we were just courting (and I got him a T-shirt, too--and wasn't that indicative of TRUE LOVE???).

I have a bunch of favorites, as does Mr. L.  My current favorite is the Union Jack.. You can tell by the tea and coffees stains how much we love and use it. (Gotta get out the baking soda and give it a good scrub.)

My favorite for the past two years has been my Union Jack mug.I got it in Niagara-On-The-Lake in Ontario Canada (at the Scottish shop, of all places). It's not all that high, but WIDE and you can get a really nice cup of tea in it.

As you can see, we really have far too many for just two people to use. (Himself (the Irish mug); Britannia (the former Royal Yacht mug) the Jeff Resnick mug my mother asked me to give her; chili peppers from New Mexico; the Litiz, PA Wilbur Chocolate Factory mug. Christmas and Halloween mugs,

We keep saying we're going to downsize them, but then we start reminiscing, and none of them go in the charity box.

Are you keeping something similar that you really should get rid of, too?






Thursday, June 23, 2016

Meet my new love






I have a new love in my life: my wisteria.  What? Oh.  Sorry if you were expecting Fabio!


But apparently, I have to watch out for betrayal.   I’d had no idea that this plant would be hardy here in Eastern Ontario.   

 To me, masses of wisteria seemed to signal old Charleston or somewhere else with a romantic history.   Still, hope springs eternal, as they say, and I planted one three summers ago.   

The first year, it barely stayed alive. 

The second year, it managed a pathetic shoot up the side of the naked pegola.  At that point, a gardening friend of mine from a better climate told me to beware.  It cannot be trusted to behave and without warning will leap to take over the roof and other plants nearby. There are even specialists in her BC town who can cut it back to save other plants, trees and structures. Huh!   

There was no sign of that.  More like: Should I call 911 for the poor beleaguered plant?  Now in its third year, the wisteria has survived and had a little northern growth spurt and is now moving up in the world.  It is outside my bedroom door and the pendulous mauve blooms give me a lift on these June mornings. I love the way it filters the bright morning sun on the little deck. 

Still, today, I thought I saw it casting a sidelong glance toward the eaves trough and the roof tiles. 

I’ll try to talk it down. But if you ask me, it’s worth it.






How about you?  Do you view wisteria with love or fear?  And do you have another climber that you want to recommend to me?  As you can see, we’re always willing to take a chance!  Let us know or just come by and say hello.

Happy late June, my friends!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Great Outdoors!

June is Outdoor Month. I love the outside! I very seldom use my AC as I love the open windows and the letting the outside in even if it is hot and humid.


I don’t use the AC in the car either. For me it’s windows down and letting the wind in. I love to hike and I love to plant stuff. My kids will give me gift certificates for manicures and as nice as it is, it’s a waste of money. 

I’m always digging and planting and hauling and fertilizing and... well you get the picture. I use gloves sometimes but other times I need to feel the dirt and the plants.

One of my fave outside things to do is hiking. IMO walking a place is really how you get to know it. I’ve taken tours where you drive around in a bus and the person narrates what you see and where you’re going. 


I never remember what they say and what I saw. I have to get out and walk and get lost...I always get lost even in Target I get lost...but that makes a place real for me. It’s the experience of the place.

I’ve had some great times in the outdoors...wonderful hikes and walks and some really scary times. There was the time we got lost on a hike in the middle of freaking nowhere and it started to snow and hail and we had no idea where we where. I thought for sure we’d have to spend the night on the side of that mountain. 


And then there was the hike with huge drop-offs and no turning back.
The ocean is the ultimate outdoor adventure. Nothing more fun than all those waves pounding your way. Or boating... Sailing is the best!

Another fave outdoor thing is grilling and even better is cooking over an open fire. Something about camping and that fire at night that is totally magical.


So what is your fave outdoor activity? Hiking? Walking? Swimming?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Summer Travels

by Maggie Sefton




I'm back in Colorado for a couple of weeks after having a busy and fun-filled 2 weeks in Northern Virginia enjoying family and friends and celebrating my granddaughter Natale's graduation from high school with a picnic and special dinner in Washington, DC.






And, of course, playing with daughter Christine's family dogs----Grayson, a pit bull mix, and Wrigley, a Rottie.  Both of them sweet dogs that race  to greet me and slurp, slurp, slurp.  Doggie love.





The entire family gathered, including daughter Serena from Houston, who flew in.  Daughter Melissa came down from Manhattan.  Daughters Christine and Maria already live in Northern Virginia.  My son-in-law Tim's parents also drove in from Indiana.  So we had a big group.



Of course, summer travel also means you have to deal with summer thunderstorms which can really cause flight delays.  My flight leaving Washington Dulles airport was supposed to leave
at 7:00pm last Thursday night.  But summer thunderstorms traveling all over the East Coast kept incoming flights from arriving.  My flight finally left Dulles a little after midnight.  I arrived at Denver International airport at 2:00am Mountain Time (4:00am East Coast time).  Of course, the shuttle back to Fort Collins didn't run again until 4:30am, so it made for a very long night. . . turned into day.  Dawn was breaking as I arrived back at the shuttle station in Fort Collins where my car was parked.  So---I decided to treat myself to breakfast.  




People always ask me if I have gotten tired of traveling, and I can honestly say No, I have not.  The vast majority of the time, schedules and planes and shuttles all move on time.  No problems.  So, the weird screwed up times are really few and far between.  And, of course, when I returned I got to play with my doggies, Katy and Max.   :)

Monday, June 20, 2016

YOU'RE ONLY SIX PEACHES AWAY FROM PEACH CRISP!

By Mary Kennedy                                                  

It's peach season! And what could be better than a fresh-from-the-oven peach crisp? A couple of weeks ago, I shared a recipe for peach slab pie and next week, I'm making peach jam. (so you can see where this is going, right?) By the way, here's the link to the peach slab pie recipe, if you missed it.  http://www.cozychicksblog.com/2016/05/peach-slab-pie-recipe-from-ali-taylor.html 

                                                                              

And now on to peach crisp. It's super easy and delicious. And best of all, you don't need to peel the peaches! (see the picture below)

                                                                          

PEACH CRISP

Ingredients:

Six ripe peaches (no need to peel them)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar (I don't add this, the recipe is plenty sweet without it.)
1 teaspoon tapioca (optional)
Sprinkling of cinnamon


TOPPING:

1 cup sugar (you don't need to add this much sugar. I substitute extra oats for some of the sugar)
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup oats
pinch of sale
1/3 cup soft butter


Directions: Slice the peaches and remove the pits. Don't bother peeling them. Combine the sliced peaches with the lemon juice, sugar, tapioca and cinnamon. As noted above, I don't add the sugar or tapioca. Place peach mixture in a baking dish. Blend the dry topping ingredients and cut in the butter to make crumbs. Spread the topping on the peaches. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or so.

                                                                             


Top with whipped cream or iced cream (cinnamon ice cream is REALLY good) One of my friends tops it with rum-raisin ice cream at  parties, and it's always a hit.

Enjoy! Be sure to let me know if you try it.

Mary Kennedy

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Spotlight on Camilla MacPhee (sort of)




Greetings, readers. My name is Alvin Ferguson and I’ve been asked to introduce my sometime employee, Camilla MacPhee, as she was tied up in Court today (defending that ‘reformed burglar’ Bunny Mayhew) and couldn’t make it. Hmm, what to say?  Camilla is very smart, very stubborn and, it must be said, occasionally cranky. For some reason, I bring this out. Not my fault. It is so not fair that she refers to me as 'the world's worst office assistant'.  After all, our families are both from beautiful Cape  Breton Island and we should be kinder to each other. 





Perhaps she's surly because she lost her husband fifteen years ago when she was thirty. He was run down by a drunk driver. Paul and Camilla had been together since law school and it seemed to people who knew them that they’d always be together. Camilla turned her attention to victims of crime and I think she still works things out by helping victims.  One thing for sure, you don’t want to get in her way.  Anyway, she did a lot of good with her advocacy agency JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS. Too bad about the explosion, but that’s a story for another time. 

I’ve been with her about five years now.  Of course, now that the government has taken over some of the roles of the agency,  Camilla’s back to doing a bit more legal aid work and she’s kind of got a new man in her life: a police officer! That’s so weird because Camilla does not like police officers and it’s pretty well mutual. This is in spite of the fact that her sister Alexa is married to one.  I suppose I should mention Camilla’s three older sisters: Alexa, Edwina and Donalda.  They are all tall, blonde and elegant, like their father, the retired school principal, Donald MacPhee. Camilla is short, dark and unslender, the odd one out in the family of Cape Bretoners transplanted to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada’s capital. 

Every one of the six crime-solving adventures that Camilla has been involved with seems to be connected to one of the Ottawa festivals: Speak Ill of the Dead is the first, in which I am introduced. It takes place during the spectacular tulip festival, although I would like to point out that at no point does a giant black cat appear in the tulips in front of Parliament Hill or elsewhere. I mean, seriously!


The Icing on the Corpse takes place during Winterlude and while Camilla is trying to figure out who killed a very bad man (we all felt like it), she’s distracted by the need to get a bridesmaid’s dress for her sister’s wedding. Although she claims they’re all butt-ugly (the dresses, not the sisters), I feel she isn’t trying hard enough. Also, I think that winter may be the villain in this book, because I have a very rough and wet night. 

Little Boy Blues takes a road trip to Cape Breton where Camilla takes a dislike to my family, perhaps with reason. She’s back in Ottawa for The Blues Festival (with a police officer following her) and a dangerous encounter with a serious bad guy who wants to hide an old crime.


When Camilla ends up as next of kin for a college acquaintance she hardly knew, in The Devil’s in the Details, she learns that the steep embankment behind the Supreme Court of Canada was the site of her benefactor’s murder and also that the woman was not who she appeared to be. The Balloon Festival just adds complications.


One of the things I like about Camilla is her relationship with Mrs. Violet Parnell, the smartest ‘eightysomething’ you ever met. Camilla respects her and calls on her expertise in all things technical. We don’t know exactly what Violet did back in WWII and after in her career in some shadowy branch of the government, but that background and those connections sure come in handy. In The Dead Don’t Get Out Much, Camilla follows Violet who has vanished to Italy after claiming to have seen a dead man. It’s a great vacation for some, although I had to stay home and miss the drama and the connection to the war.


Camilla’s not that crazy about lawyer jokes, so when she starts to receive them anonymously at home just before people in the legal profession are killed, it makes her even grumpier than usual. Seems like The Dragon Boat Festival is a bit more dangerous this year, and for a lot of lawyers. murder is no joke.


Oops, here she comes!  I said nothing about her bossy sisters or any of her bad habits. If cornered, I will deny everything.  But she will want me to have told you that she will be back in a new adventure next year.  Stay tuned for details.

Next time though, I’d like to intro Violet Parnell. 

Until then, keep reading and stay safe.  By the way, Camilla MacPhee books are all available as trade paperbacks and the whole bundle of Camilla books is available in e-format for 23.99 for all six.


 

Your new friend,
Alvin Ferguson

Friday, June 17, 2016

What do I do about the tree?

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

After my mother passed away last spring, my very good friends Ellery Adams and Leann Sweeney (former Cozy Chicks) sent me a small magnolia tree in memory of my mother, so that every spring I would find comfort in the pretty blossoms.

It was a brutal winter, but our landscape people thought if the tree was heavily mulched, it would survive. And I'm so pleased to say that it did. Not only did it bloom once (in May), but another branch of it bloomed in June, too, giving me five very pretty pinkish flowers.  I'm hoping that next year I'll see double the flowers. : )

But there's also another tree I'm concerned about. A couple of years ago, my mother noticed a small pine "twig" in one of the containers on her back patio where she planted annuals. She figured a squirrel had buried a pine cone in it, which isn't surprising considering squirrels live in the BIG pine tree in her front yard, and every spring they devour the middle of the pine cones (and mostly eating them on the roof and plugging the front down spout with their leftovers. Ahh, nature).

My Mum decided to nurture the little twig. One of the last things we talked about before she left her home forever to go to hospice was that little tree in the container. She wanted me to promise her that I wouldn't let anyone yank it out and kill it. She knew she was dying, but she wanted that little tree to live on after her.

We had to clear out the house last week for the sale, and one of the last things to go was the container with the tree. But now what? I don't have a place for it in my yard. I've got an Ash that will probably succumb to the Emerald Ash Borer, but I'm hoping that won't be for a few more years.

Thanks to the 22,500-gallon pool that occupies way too much real estate, what's left of my backyard is the size of a postage stamp. It's surrounded by arborvitae and a few lilac bushes, but other than that nowhere for a tree that will probably grow to 30 or 40 feet one day.

I'd love to hear suggestions on how to find this little Charlie Brown tree a home from anyone who may have had a similar problem.

Thanks!



Thursday, June 16, 2016

A BIG HAIRY DEAL






 First: we want to announce the winner of  MJ's book, LITTLE BOY BLUES, from last week’s contest.  We were very pleased with the response. Congratulations to our frequent commenter, Cordella Miles. Cordella is the winner of the random draw for the typo contest!  We’ll need your mailing address, Cordella. Can you please send it to us? Email is:  detect at rogers dot com

As for the rest of you, there will be other contests!  

And now on to: A BIG HAIRY DEAL 


Is this a solution to a bad hair day?
We’ve all been there: bad hair day!  It never happens unless there’s something important on, or is that my imagination?  If we are working around the house we don’t worry much and the hair’s usually pretty good. It’s when you put your dancing shoes on or dust off that speech you plan to give to a crowd that the humidity hits a zillion and out comes the frizz. 

On our way to Toronto two weeks ago, Victoria had a fabulous new straight angled bob. She looked like a million.  MJ had managed to blow dry the waves out of her bangs and they looked straight as they were intended to.  We were both sporting quite a lot of hair ‘product’ as they call the various goop to make the hair behave. The six-hour drive on a very hot, very humid day had us arriving late afternoon at a venue with, you got it, NO air-conditioning.  You could practically hear the hair exploding.  Victoria’s went SPROING and looked like a startled hedgehog.  Imagine MJ’s bangs making little squeaking sounds as each separate strand curled in a different and unrelated direction. 

WHY DIDN'T WE REMEMBER TO BRING OUR HATS?


Oh well.  Nobody died.  That’s what we told ourselves as we did our best to enjoy the event and to laugh at ourselves.  Next time, we'll bring a disguise. 

NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW


After all, nobody does die of bad hair, even though sometimes we think … But enough of this. We all have our stories.  Come on over and make us laugh or cry with your bad hair day stories or solutions, because we can use a laugh, a good cry or a solution. Or a mantra! That would be good. 


We love you all and we really really  love it when you drop in.

MJ and Victoria