Thursday, April 17, 2014

Who's Peeping . . .

Lots of children AND adults at Easter time and other holidays too. 

Current company advertisements advertise  Peeps® — Always in Season with marshmallow treats for Halloween, Christmas and Valentine's Day. 

Just Born, an 87-year old, family-owned sweets firm based in Bethlehem, PA makes Peeps®. For years I thought the name was connected with the "age" of the candy chicks. Not so as the company name derives from the last name of the company founder.

Sam Born, a candy maker by trade, emigrated to the U.S. from Russia in 1910. He used innovative technology to produce chocolate sprinkles and the hard chocolate coating for ice cream bars. In 1916, he invented a machine that inserted sticks into lollipops. In 1923, Born opened a candy-making and retail store in Brooklyn, NY and marketed the freshness of his daily-made candy with a sign “Just Born” that became the company name. In spite of the 1930s economic downfalls, the company prospered and expanded, moving operations in 1932 to an empty printing factory in Bethlehem. 

In 1953, Just Born bought the Rodda Candy Company which produced a handmade candy marshmallow chick. Sam's son, Bob, liked the way the chicks looked and, in 1954, developed machinery to mass-produce marshmallow chicks which be trademarked Peeps®.

Today, Just Born is the world's largest manufacturer of novelty marshmallow treats. The company also produced numerous other novelty products.

The manufacture of seasonally shaped Peeps® began in the 1960s. In the 1980s the company introduced a marshmallow bunny. Until 1995, marshmallow Peeps® were only produced in the iconic yellow as well as pink and white, then lavender versions were introduced. In 1998, blue Peeps® were produced for the Easter holiday.

Other flavors and colors followed: In 1999, vanilla-flavored candies were added, then strawberry, in 2002, a chocolate one was introduced. Recent new flavors include bubble gum, lemonade, party cake and blue raspberry, among others.

There is little redeeming NO nutritional value in Peeps® which consist of sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, and assorted food dyes. For more info on these sweet confections, check out the Peeps® website.

Do you like Peeps® — fresh, stale, roasted, decorative — or NOT at all.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cleaning the Cleaner

Since the primary function of a dishwasher (DW) is to clean, you might think that it's self-cleaning. Not so as often it gets gunned up with leftover food, grease, and soap scum. The DW might smell bad and even worse dishes might not be sanitary.
Our DW is 10 years old and, while I have successfully used the vinegar and baking soda method below, I came across conventional and some unusual methods of cleaning this household appliance.
Vinegar and Baking Soda 

Vinegar is one of the most versatile liquids — aside from water. Its uses include cooking, killing weeds, and cleaning. Combine vinegar with the equally-versatile baking soda, and the DW will be clean and fresh smelling. Best of all, these products are usually already in the house.
Remove the DW filter (if there is one), soak in soapy water for 10 minutes. Then replace it, add 1 cup of white vinegar on the DW bottom and set for a heavy cleaning cycle. When the cycle is done, sprinkle baking soda on the DW bottom, leave it overnight, and run another heavy cleaning cycle in the a.m. 
Borax Method
For starters, borax and baking soda are not the same. Borax is sodium borate and baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. 
Cleaning with Borax isn't difficult. It's recommended that you scrub the DW bottom and inside door with a damp sponge and plenty of borax. After scrubbing, use a damp rag to clear away the borax.
To complete cleaning, line the bottom of the DW with 1/4 cup of borax during its next cycle. You can have dishes in for this part. Use regular detergent and run the dishwasher as normal. The extra borax will freshen up the DW and remove water spots from glasses. 
Bleach (see caution)
This is also a sodium-based cleaner.The major benefit to cleaning  with bleach is that it's a sure way to kill mold. Bleach is harmful to stainless steel, so IF the inside of your DW is stainless, skip this method. For persistent mold, fill a cup with bleach, place the cup on the top rack and run the DW at its hottest setting. This should resolve the mold problem. 
Tang/Kool-Aid Method
Here's an unconventional cleaning, but apparently very effective, solution. Use citrus Tang or lemonade Kool-Aid by adding to the detergent cup and running the empty DW.
SeriouslyTang or Kool-Aid not only can remove hard water deposits  but also wipes out stains. Other brands of powdered lemonade will work too, but avoid ones with sugar added and don't use colored powdered Kool-Aid. These will stain the DW. And, you are trying to clean it, after all.
Start by running the faucet until the water is hot, then add Tang (or citrus Kool-Aid) to the detergent cup, then run a full cycle. The citrus from the powdered drink mix will remove hard water deposits and stains.
Hope this was helpful.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Broccoli Salad

This salad is often a mainstay for many potluck or holiday get-togethers, yet it's good anytime and even served at home. It was a first time dish at The Frog & PenguINN this weekend.

Broccoli salad can be overdone with too much mayonnaise and sugar. Too much of either and the broccoli can't be seen or tasted. 

A recipe in Cook’s Country magazine formed the basis of this version

Broccoli Salad
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped fine
  • 1/2 C golden raisins
  • 1-1/2 lb. broccoli florets, cut into 1-inch pieces (we used 1 lb.)
  • 1/2 C mayonnaise
  • 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 C walnuts, toasted and chopped; pecans will work too (we had these)
  • 1 large shallot, minced (skipped this as had none)
  1. Cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain on paper-lined plate.
  2. Boil water; add broccoli and cook for about 1 minute, until sightly tender. Drain and place in ice water to cool, then drain again.
  3. Whisk mayonnaise, vinegar, salt and pepper in large bowl. Add broccoli, raisins, nuts, and shallot (if using) and toss to combine. Season with (more) salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Sprinkle with bacon and serve. I mixed the bacon in with the raisins and nuts in the above step.
Grenville declared a “keeper" and that's always high praise. It pairs well with many entrees, including beef, pork and chicken and we served it with grilled steaks for Sunday dinner. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Seeing the Light

in late afternoon as sunlight glows through neighborhood trees.

Now that the days (finally) are much warmer and longer, we've resumed our local walks. We don't go walking every day, but try to get out a couple of afternoons a week, in addition to regular morning "Y" visits. Yard work also gets us outdoors more now.

This tangled maze of branches was not budding a couple of weeks ago.

Afternoon light creates unique patterns especially when coupled with special effects. These shots were done "straight out of the camera" (SOOC) using varied camera settings.

A fish-eye setting with an added "zoom" effect can make the world seem to go "faster."
ENJOY your weekend — hope that your weather is better now too. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Funnies

Could this be where the Keebler elves call home . . .?

At the base of our neighbor's tree ?

If any delivery trucks start driving in, then we'll know for sure.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Feathers and Phishers

A previous post ranted about house finches, that were trying to nest not in trees, but on our front porch ceiling fan. Several times daily we’d clear nesting materials off the porch and fan blades. We had put snakes (plastic not real) on the blades, without success. These birds were set on starting a home. We were just as determined that they find other lodgings.
SO, we begged asked for reader suggestions. Possum, Dianne and Michelle suggested that we leave the fan running. A great idea and one we thought of too as we set it on low before leaving for a weekend trip to Washington, DC.
So far it’s worked. We’ve been checking the  porch and fan since returning home. NO feathered homesteaders in sight — porch and blades are clear.
There’s MORE . . . image
IF you remember (and even if not), in  mid-March, Grenville posted about an Elizabethimage Henderson
, who sent an email that she was interested in buying our house, sight unseen. Supposedly, she was abroad and unable to come and view it: “The sale of the property does it require I come for a viewing first before we conclude?  Because I am in UK at the moment.” 
REALLY, too good to be true?
Yeah, we thought so too. Grenville sent an email reply  that our lawyer would follow-up. Ms. Henderson sent another email with a mobile (UK) phone number and asked us to call her. WHY would we do that?  We’re too cheap thrifty to call abroad AND also not un-savy. We weren’t born yesterday (no age-related jokes, please).
Bet you can guess what happened — that’s right — she hasn’t contacted us again.
DRAT. We were ready to pack-up — if an offer seems too good to be true, it’s not.
imageYET, scammers and phishers keep at it. Since Grenville’s Did You Get the Call? post, we’ve had more phony PC-related calls, always starting off with: “Your Windows computer is infected and is sending out emails with viruses . . .you must turn on your PC now so we can help, etc.”
Grenville continues to have fun with these scammers. He will ask them for their Microsoft ID number OR tell the caller that he is a security advisor.
Odd thing is that THEY always hang up on him. OK, it’s usually after he mentions the armed security team that he will dispatch to their location.
Guess they really don’t care about our computer. We never thought they did. Also we use Apple products. And as posted before, Microsoft Security doesn’t call directly.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Capital Visit with Friends

Our weekend trip was a capital one, not just because Washington, DC was our destination, but because we visited with special friends (not Michelle and Barack).

Our Saturday excursion was to the National Gallery of Art to see a photo exhibit of 160 B&W photographs. All taken by Garry Winogrand, a renowned photographer of New York City and American life from the 1950's through the early 1980's. 

Primarily a street photographer, Winogrand
was known for his portrayal of American life. He preferred shooting film to editing pictures or producing books and exhibitions. When he died in 1984 at age 56, he left 2,500 rolls of undeveloped film, 6,500 rolls of developed, but not proofed exposures, and nearly 300,000 unedited images. Many of his photographs depict the social issues of his time. Winogrand never published or exhibited approximately one-third of the photographs in this exhibit; most were printed posthumously. 

In addition to viewing the photo exhibit, we explored the National Gallery for awhile. Here's some before shots of a few things seen there.

And, the same views after some filter fun in Picasa.

We were hoping to see the famed Washington cherry blossoms in bloom, but our hopes went unfulfilled. While there trees budding near the Jefferson Memorial, full flowering is late this year because of the prolonged winter weather that also hit DC. We did see there flowering blooms in downtown DC — tulip magnolia and a cherry tree

There were some architectural views downtown as well during our walk around.

Thanks, Linda and John for your hospitality; we had a wonderful weekend visit. 
"Old" friends (not referring to age, thank you) are the most special people. Even though we don't see one another often, time has a way of having "stood still" whenever we get together. We can always pick up where we left off, irregardless of the years gone by.

Is it the same for your special friendships as well?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Fanning the Nest

Sure, that's a strange title, but not as strange as what's been going on this week on our front porch. We really enjoy sitting here on nice afternoons.

But lately, our overhead space is being invaded by house finches that have been trying to build a nest on the ceiling fan blades. The fan is directly above the rockers and definitely not a good nesting spot. Several times a day we've been clearing nesting materials (seen below) from the front porch.
Grenville heard that birds fear snakes, so this is one solution he's trying. So, far, it hasn't seemed to deter these house-hunting finches.
Has anyone had a similar problem ?

If so, HOW did you handle it . . .

And, did it work ? 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Baby Brother’s Birthday

Today is my younger brother’s birthday — no number, but it’s been a number of years since taking his first steps . . .Tony collage2And posing with with dad and mom . . .Anthony-Mom DadFamily celebrated his 2nd birthday at home; that’s me on the right. Tony1stbdayFamily (grandparents, uncle, aunt, cousins, mom, sister) gathered as our dad snapped the photos.Tony1stbday2Here we are this past Christmas; he’s all grown up now.Tony-Dorothy1225Living in different states, we rarely celebrate birthdays together now . . .

Happy Birthday, Tony, from your (slightly) “older” sister

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Supper for Loafers

Do you like comfort food?

We do. Over the years we've tried (and sampled) many meat loaf recipes at home and when dining out. Like many recipes, some were good and some were not so good. Recently we found a new favorite (at least for now).

In this one, added vegetables provided extra moisture and flavor. If you don't want visible chunks of carrots or celery, chop the veggies extra-fine with a food processor. A meat loaf mix of beef and pork is often hard to find in our local supermarket, so we used only beef.

If you prefer, sauté the veggies first. But when chopped fine, there's no need to pre-cook, besides it's an extra step. 

(New) Favorite Meat Loaf Recipe
  • 1-1/2 to 2 lb. ground beef (or use a mix of beef and pork
  • 1/2 to 3/4 C bread crumbs 
  • 2 carrots, chopped fine
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped fine
  • 1 med. sweet onion, chopped fine 
  • 2 TBSP parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 tsp dry mustard 
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 C ketchup 
  • 1 TBSP kosher salt (or 2 tsp table salt)
  • 1 tsp black pepper 
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten 
  • 1/2  C ketchup
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place ingredients in a large bowl. 
  3. Mix  together well using your hands.
  4. Place into glass baking dish and shape into loaf.
  5. Mix together topping ingredients in a small bowl, then spread on meatloaf
  6. Bake for 1 hour (until internal temp. reaches 175 degrees).
  7. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting.

We served with a topping of mushrooms and onions with sides of baked sweet potatoes and sautéed zucchini and peppers.
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