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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Texas in a Thousand Pieces, and Lemon Curd

  Mom got her puzzle put together--all 1000 pieces.  It looked impossible when I dumped all them out on the card table, but it is amazing how a person can gradually find pieces that fit.  Down toward the last I swore some of the pieces had to have been lost, because there was no way the rest could fit.   
I had Saturday School for boys who had missed too many days.  Six hours of solid teaching with a 30 minute break at lunch, wore me out, and I only managed to try out one new recipe--Lemon Curd.  I have never sampled it, not even when I had a chance way back in the day.  One of the Home Demonstration members made me a batch, and foolish me I was too picky to try it.  She was English and from Canada, and Lemon Curd was a family favorite of hers, and I know it was good.    All you need is sugar, egg yolks, fresh lemons, and butter, of course. I think one tablespoon is worth two Weight Watcher points.  I didn't think it would ever thicken up, but it does very quickly.  I cooked mine too much to suit me, so, remember, it sets up when it cools, and if it is going in the refrigerator, it sets up even more.  This is really good in tarts, or on slices of pound cake--anything that goes with a good lemon sauce.


This is the make-shift double boiler I had to use, because I have yet to see one in the stores I prowl on a regular basis.  Here is the recipe.   
 Lemon Curd   
5 egg yolks
1 Cup sugar
pinch of salt
4 lemons, zested and juiced to make 1/3 C.
1 stick butter, cut into pats and chilled
Method of Preparation
1.  Add enough water to a medium saucepan to come about an inch up the side of the pan.  Bring to a simmer over mdium-high heat.
2.  While the water is heating, mix the yolks, salt, and sugar with a whisk until smooth.
3.  Add the 1/3 cup juice (you can add water if there isn't enough juice in the lemons).  Whisk until smooth.
4.  Put the mixture in the top of a double boiler, or an oven proof bowl.  Do not allow the bowl to touch the water.
5.  Whisk while cooking, for about 8 minutes or until thickened.  
6.  Add the pats of butter one at a time and whisk until each pat is blended.  
7.  Pour into a clean container, and put a layer of plastic wrap on the surface of the curd.  This can be refrigerated for 2 weeks.                                                                              

Thursday, January 21, 2010

One of My Favorite Authors...

is Mark Twain.  At the moment I am reading Innocents Abroad to my home bound student, and there are times I am laughing so much reading is impossible.  Twain is so politically incorrect that he is just plain refreshing, and his descriptions of people and the things they do are hilarious.   So far the group of Americans have landed in Tangier, and traveled to Paris.  Everywhere he goes he studies people and comes to his own conclusions.  He made this comment about the Moors in North Africa.  "Spain is the only nation the Moors fear.  The reason is that Spain sends her heaviest ships of war and her loudest guns to astonish these Muslims, while America and other nations send only a little contemptible tub of a gunboat occasionally.  The Moors, like other savages, learn by what they see, not what they hear or read."  Hmmmm, maybe I need to send a copy of this book to our dear president.  While Twain and his side kicks were in Paris they had a chance to watch Napoleon III and Abdul Aziz, lord of the Ottoman Empire, in a parade.  After his observation, Twain had the nerve to write this comment.  "Napoleon III, the representative of the highest modern civilization, progress, and refinement; Abdul-Aziz, the representative of a people by nature and training filthy, brutish, ignorant, unprogressive, superstitious--and a government whose Three Graces are Tyranny, Rapacity, Blood."  I do believe if Abdul's name had been left off I would think someone on the left was trying to describe George Bush.
I just finished Borderline by Nevada Barr, and it was her best.  Blind Descent is a close second.  Borderline was about murder and intrigue in Big Bend and Terlingua while Blind Descent  all happened in a deep cavern near Carlsbad.  I was nearly claustrophobic reading parts of it.  If you like outdoor thrillers, I recommend these two because you won't be able to put them down.  More about Innocents Abroad later; it's time for bed, because tomorrow is Friday.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sharing the World with Bugs!

No pictures this time! I didn't feel like cooking tonight so Mom and I headed for the only cafe in town--a good Mexican place, with the best hot sauce around. We were in the mood for a burger, though. We had no sooner sat down than Mom started pointing at something. I couldn't figure out what her sign language meant, so I just ignored her. She kept on pointing, sort of inconspicuously, and then said, "Look," a low, almost inaudible tone. Finally, I figured out what all these antics were about--a bug. It scurried up on the window and disappeared. For some unknown reason it didn't even bother me--hunger does that, and the thought of going back home to cook does it too. I noticed he wasn't very big at all, and so I said, "He isn't going to eat much," trying to calm Mom down, because I knew who would do the cooking if we left. Thankfully the waitress came up, and overwhelmed us with the menu, and talk; Mom was distracted, and we ordered. The hamburgers were the best, fries were the best, and I think Mom forgot all about the bug. Now, if that had been a full grown roach I would had to leave, but a little bug on the window--no problem tonight. I think it is because I know the cafe, and know that they are clean, and it was a just a little bug! I guess my standards are slipping, depending on my mood.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Home of Two Presidents, Two Governors, and One First Lady

Saturday was a beautiful day, so Mom and I visited the boyhood home of George Bush in Midland.
George H. and Barbara moved from New England to the Midland-Odessa area in 1948. This was the second home they owned in their early married life--hard wood floors, gas heaters, small closets, nice light fixtures....
Does anyone remember these phones? There was even a little, thin phone book from the '50s with the Bush listing--MU4-4380; it was not a party line.
The Bushes were a pretty typical family moving up in the oil business in Midland. Young George was in baseball, and among other things, the Roy Rogers Riders Club, along with about 2 million other American kids.
Roy Rogers Riders Club had the following rules:
1. Be neat and clean.
2. Be courteous and polite.
3. Always obey your parents.
4. Protect the weak and always help them.
5. Be brave, but never take chances.
6. Study hard and learn all you can.
7. Be kind to animals and care for them.
8. Eat all your food and never waste any.
9. Love God and go to Sunday school regularly.
10. Always respect our flag and our country.
Hmmm...this is surely different from the wanton standards set by the fallen Hollywood stars of today. G.W. had his own room, with a desk, and a wall of shelves. There is a lot of knotty pine paneling in the house; this paneling is really amazing--over 1/2 inch thick. We had the same thing in the den of our house at Jayton.
The bed is a built in, and the Prez said it looked just like this back in the day.

I loved the kitchen! This ivy china is exactly what Mrs. Bush had, even though this isn't hers.

The ivy wallpaper is the same. The turquoise refrigerator was donated by Laura Bush's mother, and it still works.
No dishwasher, and cabinets on one wall.
Really cool tins! I remember getting Peter Pan peanut butter in a can, and I wish I had a can of Donald Duck coffee. Midland had a homecoming for W. and Laura after they left Washington, and in his speech he said, "It seems improbable in that little house on Ohio Street that there would be two presidents and a governor of Florida." And a first lady, I would like to add. Ordinary people can, and do become president--if God wants them to. We stopped at Wal Mart on the way home, and Mom watched the Wal Martians part of the time. She saw one woman with a T-shirt and black pantyhose and that is all! Dang! I should have left my camera with Mom! She could have gathered material for the Master of the Universe to publish. Of course, the big mama with the pantyhose might have wallowed her to the ground, and tore my camera to pieces, so it's probably just as well she didn't have this responsibility. I had the pleasure of checking out behind a couple who had burgundy hair, and the man had a T-shirt with the sleeves cut out so the whole world could see his flab (and tattoos). I was more interested in what they were buying for their three kids--3 liters of Coke, and a stack of TV dinners, pot pies (the real nutritious stuff). There was not a pound of hamburger (and believe me--I was looking), no potatoes, cans of tomatoes, spaghetti or dried pintos. Do some people really not know how to cook? I guess it is just too much trouble for them.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Time is Up!

Alas, the blue moon is waning, and so is my Christmas break. We will be back at it on Monday; two more weeks in the semester, and then the wild spring semester will begin. Kids will be going every direction--basketball, UIL academics, One Act Play, track, and every other conceivable outing. The sky was beautiful this morning--no wind to stir up the dust. There was a cool layer of blue on the horizon with a layer of rose between it and the light blue sky, and the moon was bright and big. I just wonder what that old water tower has seen down through the years?
Here is the only thing I made during the break--a tree skirt. Bob asked me, "Aren't you a little late?" "You, might look at it that way, but actually I am really ahead of the game for next year, and besides, the only time you can see the thing is before and after the presents, so I timed it just right." I have a stack on my sewing machine, and if I will just allocate 15 minutes a day, it will be done. That is my resolution--develop a new habit of using bits of time instead of putting things off until I have half a day (which never happens). I hope everyone made a resolution; it's good for us to set goals even if we don't reach them all.