Half way down the stairs-

Halfway down the stairs

Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair where I sit:
There isn’t any other stair quite like it.
I’m not at the bottom,
I’m not at the top:
So this is the stair where I always stop.

Halfway up the stairs
Isn’t up, and isn’t down.
It isn’t in the nursery, it isn’t in the town:
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head:
“It isn’t really anywhere! It’s somewhere else instead!”

(A A Milne)

I love this poem by A.A. Milne!

When I was a little girl, we had a record with this song on it and I fell in love with it and him, then.  I have always been a halfway down the stairs kind of girl!

I was mentioning this poem to a friend once, and she said, ” Oh , you mean that Muppet song that the little frog sang on The Muppet Show?”

NO- I mean the A.A. Milne poem that he wrote for his son, Christopher Robin!

Here’s some pictures of my grandson sitting halfway-

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And here is the muppet version of A.A. Milne’s poem.

I just found this version by Ricky Gervais- let me warn you it IS a little creepy.

Just a little creepy – but really VERY funny!  I can’t understand all of Robin’s comments- so if he says something  inappropriate, please forgive me.

Bialys and buns- OR what I did on a very Hot day in July.

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Bialy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bialy, a Yiddish word short for bialystoker, from Białystok, a city in Poland, is a small roll that is a traditional dish in Polish Ashkenazi cuisine. A traditional bialy has a diameter of up to 15 cm (6 inches) and is a chewy yeast roll similar to a bagel. Unlike a bagel, which is boiled before baking, a bialy is simply baked, and instead of a hole in the middle it has a depression. Before baking, this depression is filled with diced onions and other ingredients, including (depending on the recipe) garlic, poppy seeds, or bread crumbs.

The name bialy is short for bialystoker kuchen (Bialystok Cake). The bialy was formerly little known outside of New York City, but has started to move into the larger market. They were originally brought into the United States by Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

I found the recipe here.  You can click over there from Zeb Bakes on my side bar of blogs and scroll down to see her breads. 

The bialy is a cousin of the bagel- just more depressed than holey.  The flavor and texture is wonderful- chewy and toothsome- I ate two still warm from the oven and I’m not a bit sorry.  I made them smaller- the recipe spoke of 12- I made 18.  These are really worth the effort- I just wish I could figure out why I start baking on stifling hot days.  The baking temp for these is 450 degrees F- so my face got a little singed every time I opened the oven.

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The buns are from the same  source.  Joanna at Zeb Bakes is a dedicated bread baker- and I love to try some of the artisan breads she tries.

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These are from  a post she wrote  this week- ” If you don’t know it, Dan Lepard writes a great baking column each week in the Guardian newspaper, usually with ingredients that are easily available and fairly straightforward techniques for the home baker to follow. ”

Mine don’t look as good as hers, but they sure tasted good.  I made them to go with hamburgers- and they are great!  They don’t get soggy, aren’t doughy or too big, and the flavor is delicious on its own.

tea and buns 025 They are easy to make, just indent the lines on the large rectangle before the second rise, and then bake them in the pan.

tea and buns 026 Cut them in half…

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…and load them up with goodies!

Everyone loved them!tea and buns 031

Pony Boy

  This is Not a reference to The Outsiders.

No.  I thought you might like to see how very much Aidan loved his pony bread.

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Please disregard all the mess in the background and focus your attention on the small boy and his pony/bread.

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Because as you can see- he really loved this bread.

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He bit his tail…

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…chewed off his face…

 rhubarb pie and pony bread 011   then shook him up a little.

 

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All together I’d say he loved it! 

After the pictures were done, he took his bread into a corner behind the table and ate almost all of the bread before we could bother him further.

This child loves bread as much as his grandmother.

And that is just fine with us both!

Rhubarb Custard pie- recipe

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I’ve had plain rhubarb pie.

I’ve had strawberry-rhubarb pie.

And they are really good.

But rhubarb custard pie is what I think of when you mention rhubarb pie to me.

My mother always made it with the custard- and it is perfect for a foil to the strong flavor of the rhubarb.  The tart flavor of rhubarb is tamed or modified by the sweet custard and you have perfection sitting on your plate.

It can be made without a top layer, since you already have the custard going on, but I like the look of a loose lattice top crust with the bubbly rhubarb pink juices staining the crust and gourmet sugar twinkling on top.

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Twinkle * Twinkle * Twinkle * Twinkle* Twinkle*

This is really a simple pie to make and it brings back accolades of praise and happiness in your family.   Try it- you will love it.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup flour

dash salt 

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

3 eggs, beaten

4 cups 1″ slices of rhubarb

1 TBS butter

pastry for double crust pie **

Roll out pastry for bottom and fit into pie plate.  I use a glass pie pan because it gives you a good indication of the even browning on the bottom crust.

Mix together sugar, flour, salt and nutmeg and stir into rhubarb until it is well coated.  Pour beaten eggs over mixture and stir well. 

Pour mixture into pie plate- I like to make two smaller, thinner pies- but this will make one large deep dish pie.

Dot butter over the top of pie.

Roll out second crust (top) and cut into strips and lay them on top of pie, weaving them into a lattice.rhubarb pie and pony bread 001

Over and under, gently lifting up the pastry slices to form  loosely woven top crust. 

Then sprinkle with large gourmet  sugar crystals and bake for 50 minutes at 400 degrees F. 

I cover the crust with aluminum foil for the first 4o minutes so the crust doesn’t get too brown,  taking the foil off for the last 10 minutes brings it to a lovely golden brown.

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**Double crust pie dough

2 1/2 cups pastry or AP flour

1 cup cold butter

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 to 1/2 cup ice cold water

Using either a pastry blender or food processor, work butter into flour and salt mixture until it is well distributed and looks more like the texture of meal.  Add water and gently mix together until it becomes a ball.  Divide in half and press lightly into a disk and then place in a bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

The custard will form whilst the pie is baking and will be a rich and wonderful base to the tart rhubarb.  This recipe has been in my family for at least the past 60 years and this pie never fails to bring smiles of happiness to every face.

Enjoy!

Another look at Psalm 4- by guest – Frank Fodor

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of David.

1 Answer me when I call to you,
       O my righteous God.
       Give me relief from my distress;
       be merciful to me and hear my prayer.

2 How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame ?
       How long will you love delusions and seek false gods ?
       Selah

3 Know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself;
       the LORD will hear when I call to him.

4 In your anger do not sin;
       when you are on your beds,
       search your hearts and be silent.
       Selah

5 Offer right sacrifices
       and trust in the LORD.

6 Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?”
       Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD.

7 You have filled my heart with greater joy
       than when their grain and new wine abound.

8 I will lie down and sleep in peace,
       for you alone, O LORD,
       make me dwell in safety.

A few weeks ago, my wife, Heidi, did her regular posting on her blog; a commentary on the Psalm 4 .

The 6th verse caught my attention.  The verse reads: ” There are many who say “Who will show us any good?  Lord, lift up the light of your countenance upon us.”

The psalmist then states that God put gladness in his heart more than material increase and causes him to lie down in peace and safety.  I began to wonder what it meant to have God’s countenance shine down on you, and what was the benefit of that holy light.  It sounded like a good topic to study.

I found that David was likely referring back to a benediction God told Moses to have the priesthood bless the people with in Numbers 6:24-26.

The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make His face shine upon you,

And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,

And give you peace.”

Have you ever thought what it really means to have God’s face and his countenance to shine down on us?  Why would God want to illuminate our lives and what attributes does He wish to have shine down on us?

As I thought about it, I realized it would most likely be His holiness, His righteousness, and His mercy and long suffering.  For these are the attributes He would want us to excel in.

You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” Leviticus 11:45.

God’s standards should be ours, after all, Jesus, in teaching the multitudes the beatitudes, said, “ You are the Light of the world….” Matt. 5:11

Thus the light of His countenance dispels the darkness from our lives and illuminates His standards  that we are to emulate.   What are the benefits  of reflecting  God’s light and being in harmony with Him?  The psalmist  said it was lying down in peace  and safety, for Isaiah 57:21 says, “ There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.”   For His perfect righteousness demands justice.  I believe that is what Jesus was warning people who mistreat children in Matt 18:10, when He said, “ Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”  The holy angels in God’s presence eagerly await God’s command to carry out His justice.

(Heidi, here-

I’m thinking that this is a good beginning to the contemplation of God’s benediction.  As usual,  Frank opens up scripture upon scripture to build a base upon which one can venture further into the study.  I look back at the times of God’s blessing and light in my life and recognize them as times of learning and understanding and yearning to be more like Him. 

Do you have any of these times when you had an epiphany- an illumination and inspiration to aspire to His holiness, righteousness, mercy and longsuffering?

We’d love to hear your experience of the Holy in your life.)

Homemade Salted Nut Bars

I’m not suggesting that this is a healthy alternative, understand.

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I mean, really, just look at them.  They must be evil on many levels.

But when you make it yourself , you don’t include ingredients you can’t vouch for or pronounce.  Or at least I don’t.

And actually, I’m going to give you my new and improved rendition of these bars, because the first ones I made following a recipe, they were too rich and thick and full of the dreaded corn syrup.

July and onward 011 and marshmallows.

They are still rich, and they have some corn syrup, but I cut down on the amount and also on the marshmallows and made them in a much larger pan, so there is less cake bar bottom.

Here is the recipe- they are really quite good- especially if you are sending them in a bag lunch or to a gathering with a lot of young people.

Base layer:

Yellow cake mix

1/3 cup butter

1 large egg

3 cups mini marshmallows

Mix together and press into the base of a jelly roll pan (at least 11×15) or into a 13×9 and an8x8 inch pans.  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 12 to 15 minutes- pull out of oven cover surface area with marshmallows and put back into oven for another 3 minutes.

Topping:

1/4 cup corn syrup

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup butter

2 tsp. vanilla

12 oz package of peanut butter or butterscotch morsels

2 cups Rice Krispy cereal

2 cups salted nuts

Put corn syrup, honey, butter and vanilla in saucepan and cook over low heat until melted, add morsels (peanut butter or butterscotch), and stir until this is all melted and just starts to bubble (low boil).

Add rice cereal and coat it with mixture, then carefully spoon it on top of marshmallow layer on the cake base. The marshmallows will be all melty and it takes a little care to keep it from becoming a gooey mess.  Now shake the peanuts or whatever nuts you decided to use – evenly over the top and push them into the rice krispy layer with the back of a spoon.

Cool, and cut into bars.

 

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salty nutty bars 001 They are really delicious.

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These long and thin bars are the healthier of the two pictured above.

I cut down the amount of yellow cake base, and the amount of corn syrup in half.

Saffron sun and stenciled loaves

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I made saffron bread with a sourdough base today.

It was a beautiful dough- silky and easily managed- just right for shaping- the sun face came out just right- I love the almonds in his eyes.

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The turtle- well,  I forgot to put in currants for his eyes, so he is blind- but cute.

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And small- he fits right into the palm of my hand- a perfect size for my grandson.

And following Joanna’s example @ Zeb Bakes , I stenciled a loaf, just to look pretty.

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And it does look pretty-

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and the texture is light and the crust chewy and the flavor is just plain yummy!

I started this bread last night-

here as best as I can remember is the recipe, if you are interested.

1 cup of sourdough starter

2 cups plain flour

2 pinches of instant yeast

1 cup hot water

This is for the sponge or poulish as Joanna calls it.  Stir well with wooden spoon and cover with plastic wrap.  Place in draft free area and allow to raise overnight.

The next morning add:

3 cups flour

2 scant tsp sea salt

1 cup milk, scalded

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter

1 large egg

1/4 cup sugar

2 pinches of saffron

Method:

While milk is still hot, melt butter in it, add two pinches of saffron and stir well, set aside, beat egg and add to milk when cooled.

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Add dry ingredients to 1 cup of flour and mix into sponge alternatively with liquid.  Mix well, adding additional flour until dough is quite stiff ( you may need more flour than listed).  Dump out of bowl and start to knead.

Knead dough for at least 8-10 minutes.   If is is too stiff at first, allow to rest on the cupboard, covered, for at least 20 minutes to relax and then try again.

When dough feels smooth and pliable, place into greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let raise until doubled- this could take up to 3 hours depending on the warmth, humidity,age of starter and many other factors.

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When risen, dump from bowl and divide dough for your shaping purposes.

saffron sun and family 002 I used a little less than half to form the sun.

saffron sun and family 003about 6 1/2 ounces for the turtle,

And the last half for the loaf.

I used a stencil and olive oil spray to design the stenciled loaf.

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I used a precut stencil and lightly sprayed top loaf of the bread with olive oil.

Sprinkle flour into stencil cut outs and remove carefully.

 

Allow to raise again, about  1 1/2  hours

Bake at 350F for at 30 minutes, until golden brown.

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I think it turned out quite well.

7 little things- an interim post

I was tagged by Cityhippyfarmgirl to share 7 more things about myself.

I am happy she wants to know 7 things more- I’m just a little stymied about what to add- I seem to do pretty full disclosure fairly often.  :)

However, I was planning on posting about baking today and nothing is ready to photograph yet, so this will be the first post of the day with a promise of BREAD later.

Here goes:

1)  I love old things.  New things are nice, but there is nothing like the patina and depth of beauty that comes from being lovingly and well used.  I’d rather have something with a history than a warranty.

2) I’m a random weeder.  I cannot walk away from weeds in a bed- and it doesn’t matter whose bed of flowers it is either.  I’ve weeded beds at Sea World, at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., at church, at other people’s churches, whilst on Home Tours, in Williamsburg, VA….  Sometimes, I just do it without considering the consequences or even if there is a garbage can to deposit  the evidence.

3) I’ve designed  and made cookies that were photographed and made into Christmas cards.  I’ve made many cookies that were works of art- but they were all too soon consumed.  These are documented and although I don’t send them out anymore for Christmas it is kind of nice to look back and say,”I made that”.

4) I do funny things with numbers in my head.  I add the numbers in people’s phone numbers or on their license plates- I count my steps when I walk-  it is usually an unconscious habit that I only become aware of when I start to get into the thousands.  It doesn’t mean anything really, but I seem to be keeping count.

5)  The first time I heard my husband’s voice, I felt a tingling in my spine.  We didn’t get together for many years after that, but even now, when I hear his voice unexpectedly, I get that same sensation. After 35 years of marriage- you’d think I would have become accustomed to the timbre of his voice.

6)  Three years ago, I was basically a computer illiterate.  I had a hard time sending email.  Since then, I have taken classes online, written a blog, do research, bank and conduct business on my computer. 

7)  I love mysteries.  Reading them is like mind candy to me- watching them on tv is always a challenge ( I Always figure them out by the middle- which drives my younger son bonkers!) and it is very difficult to surprise me because I’m paying close attention to the order of things about me.  ( I also tend to make up a story to go with puzzling occurrences- but then- I tend to make up stories just to keep myself entertained!)

OK- that is seven- if you read to the very end- congratulations!  You now know more about me than you ever wanted to!

I promise to post pictures of Saffron bread later.

Lavender wands and other stuff.

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First, I’d like to apologize for the long silence.

I was waiting for a guest blogger to fill in the space.

My husband wanted to do the Sunday Psalm series on benedictions and blessings throughout the scriptures.  So I waited for his input.

He has been so busy that although he kept assuring me he would get it done- well….

So I just kind of went off in another direction and played with lavender this weekend.  And I made wands and a pretty candle wreath of thyme and lavender.

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My kitchen smelled wonderful!

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And I now have lavender woven into sweet scented wands.

Painting cups

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I meant to put up one (1) picture and the picture wizard went crazy and put them all up! 

TA DA!!!

This is what I did this afternoon-  the mugs down at the house in Chincoteague (The Sailors Rest) are HUGE!  Even bigger than the mug I have in the picture immediately above with the red knitted cup cozy around it!   So large that your coffee gets cold- you go into diabetic shock from the amount of hot chocolate- and the tea in the cup ends up being iced tea rather than hot.

So- I saw the smaller mugs on sale for $.50 each and I bought them. 

The problem with that is that I had a small vision when I looked at them in the store.  I saw them with a small anchor logo and the name of the house on them.

And I heard Jean-Luc Picard’s voice in my head saying, “Make it so.”

OK– I didn’t have any Star Trek voices in my head, but I really did flash on the logo thing and it seemed like I should do it.

So I got out my ceramic paints and did it.

They have to cure for 24 hours and then I will bake the logo onto the cups.

I am so glad I only bought a dozen.

What do you think of the cup cozy?  I knitted it in wool and felted it. 

I’m thinking Christmas presents with a package of  Heidi’s Homemade Gourmet Hot Chocolate and a HUGE mug with a personalized touch painted on it, and of course a felted wool teacup cozy.