Friday, September 29, 2017

Recipe for Infidelity?

In place of the usual Friday Funnies, here's an equally amusing, but true story, and a recipe too which asks the question . . .

Could the brownie recipe of a famous actress lead to infidelity?

That was the claim left 2 years in a recipe comment when The New York Times published Katharine Hepburn's Brownie Recipe. The comments had the usual tales of recipe success, failure, and tweaks, but only one went viral at the time, and then was forgotten, but not by The Times

A few weeks ago, the paper did an article noting that of over 16 million comments ever reviewed, the so-called "brownie infidelity comment" was an all-time favorite.

In case you missed it, here's that original comment as written . . . 
“This has been my go-to brownie recipe for 30 years. In the ’80s, an acquaintance in Germany to whom I brought some of the brownies, and who considered herself a great cook, asked for the recipe but was never able to get it to work. She kept asking me what she was doing wrong and I was never able to solve her problem. Eventually, she moved to the U.S. and stole my husband!”
Names have been omitted, but the story was on NPR and network stations this week. According to the stories, the woman and her husband became friends with another couple when in Europe. The wife was given the brownie recipe, but despite trying couldn't "get it right" and reportedly accused the recipe giver of leaving out ingredients.

Later, that woman, whose own marriage had ended, visited the "recipe giver" in the U.S. She began an affair with the recipe giver's husband. The recipe giver later divorced her husband, relocated and remarried. 

And, that's why this brownie recipe, which was said to be the late Ms. Hepburn's personal favorite, has become as notorious as she was rumored to be.

Coincidentally, it too has a well-known connection to marital infidelity. Hepburn and actor Spencer Tracy carried on a 25-year relationship and he was married throughout it, until his 1967 death. Hepburn died in 2003.

After reading about the "brownie infidelity" story this week, I decided to try the recipe. That said, I'm not sharing it with married friends. Hopefully, none will read this blog post. You might consider doing the same — just to be on the safe side (just saying).

Katherine Hepburn Brownie Recipe

Set oven to 325° F. Butter the bottom of an 8x8-inch baking pan or line it with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

  • 1/2 C cocoa or 2 squares (2 oz.) unsweetened baker's chocolate
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 C flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 C chopped walnuts or pecans
  1. Melt butter with the cocoa or chocolate together in a heavy saucepan over medium
    low, whisking constantly till blended. 
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar. Cool before you whisk in the eggs and vanilla, so as not to cook the eggs. 
  3. Stir in flour, salt and walnuts. Mix well. 
  4. Pour into well-buttered square baking pan. Bake at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  5. Cool completely and cut into squares. (The brownies may be difficult to slice cleanly; use a sharp knife and a spatula to help loosen from the baking dish.)
NOTE: The 1/4 cup of flour is not a typo. Reportedly, Ms. Hepburn, after tasting brownies made by a friend's father, was said to have commented: "Too much flour; and don’t over- bake them. They should be moist, not cakey.”  She then gave her own recipe.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.
(Yes, we did enjoy the brownies.)

Monday, September 25, 2017

Frenzied or Frazzled Fireworks

These fireworks shots were taken awhile ago, and forgotten about until this weekend when I started reorganizing photo files on my computer. The results were not as good as previous attempts, which is probably why I forgot about the photos until now.. 

These displays were shot along the river walk in Nashua, NH near the mill apartments where we live. The viewing location was not ideal as trees and poles blocked a clear view. The camera has a "fireworks" setting, but was handheld with erratic results.

This one reminded me of flames in a fire.
And, this one appeared to look like holiday lights. 

This final shot reminded me of an explosion.
Hope your weekend was a good one and cooler than ours. It's still "summer-like" here in NH and daytime as temperatures were in the high 80s both Saturday and Sunday. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday Funnies

Private eyes
They're watching you
They see your every move * . . .

This granite, bronze and electric light sculpture is by Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) on the grounds of the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, MA. 

* Lyrics from Private Eyes (written by Warren Pash and Janna Allen with arrangement and chords by Daryl Hall) was a 1981 hit single by the singing duo of Daryl Hall and John Oates (Hall & Oates) and the title track from their album that year. The song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for two weeks in 1981. 

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Massachusetts Potholes

Sure, lots of places have potholes, but how many have glacial ones?
That distinction can be claimed in Massachusetts.

A short walking distance from the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, MA, brought us to another local sight, the Glacial Potholes at the base of Salmon Falls. This site is one of the largest collection of natural potholes in the world.

Glacial potholes, called kettles in geological terms, date back hundreds of millions of years, most recently taking the form they have today at conclusion of the last Glacial Age. As the glaciers receded, separate pools ranging from 6 inches to 39 feet in diameter were formed. The round holes were ground down by granite by a whirlpool effect of water and gyrating stones of varied sizes. 

As a result of the constant whirling of the granite stones, the potholes took on a symmetrical and rounded shape. They continue to be formed today during end-of-winter snow melts when water levels rise significantly and the grinding millstones, still found in the smaller potholes, are whipped up into swirling whirlpools.

Years ago a soak in the cooling waters of the potholes was a welcome respite on a muggy New England day. But, since 2002, the pools have been “closed” to the public. Swimming is illegal and done at one's own risk. A metal fence enclosure discourages trespassers.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday Funnies

Circling the ravi(oli)s . . .isn't like
circling the wagons, but it's what Grenville commented when he saw this canned ravioli display in a local supermarket. (He watched western shows growing up and ate canned ravioli; his taste has improved since then.)

The phrase dates to when the western U.S. was being settled. Wagons of settlers and freight threatened by bandits or hostile Indians would circle the wagons to provide a protected perimeter to hide behind and fire their weapons at the attackers.

Today, circle the wagons can mean uniting a group or team to defend a common interest.

Different meanings but both still concerned with protection in differing ways.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.
(Our thoughts & prayers to all affected by Hurricane Irma.)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Bridge of Flowers

If you want to see a beautiful and very colorful re-use of a former transportation route, look no further than the Bridge of Flowers.

This 400-foot-long former trolley line bridge has been converted into a garden pathway. Open from April 1 to October 31, the bridge spans the Deerfield River between Shelburne Falls and Buckland, MA. The bridge is covered includes over 500 varieties of continuously blooming flowers from April through October. Luckily, our recent visit was in late August.

The bridge was built in 1908 at a cost of $20,000 by the Shelburne Falls and Colrain Street Railway, so that freight could be picked up and dropped off directly with the railroad. 

By 1927, the street railway company went bankrupt. Automobile usage was increasing and freight began to be transported by trucks. By 1929, the bridge was abandoned and weed covered, when a local resident (Antoinette Burnham) had an idea to transform it into a garden. It wasn't needed as a footbridge, yet couldn't be torn down as it carried a water main between Shelburne Falls and the adjoining Buckland, MA.

The Shelburne Women's Club sponsored the flower project in 1928 and the following year, 80 loads of loam and several loads of fertilizer were brought to the bridge as women's clubs around town raised $1,000 for planting.

By 1975, the bridge structure was deteriorating. Funds were raised for a study that found it required nearly $600,000 in repairs which included replacing a water line. The monies were raised by various local organizations. During the restoration, every plant was removed and cared for privately.
Then, in 1983, the bridge was completely renovated, at a cost of $500,0000 and under the expertise of a local horticulturalist. Today, its upkeep relies on a paid gardener as well as volunteer help from the Shelburne Falls Women’s Club.

The history of the railway is preserved in the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum which maintains Trolley No. 10. This trolley crossed the bridge for 30 years hauling passengers, apples, mail, milk and other freight. It was restored after being used as a shed and chicken coop. Unfortunately, the museum was closed on the day of our visit, which means we'll take a future road trip there.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Peach of a Cobbler

Free peaches is what the sign said while we were out walking last week. Quite a few had already fallen to the grass, so I selected the ripest of this group. Then, there was only one thing to do with them — make a peach cobbler.
This recipe is super easy. Everything needed was already in the pantry, including the 8x8 baking dish. Adding sugar to the peaches is optional. If the peaches are over-ripe, they may be sweet enough. If you use peaches canned in syrup, they should be sweet without added sugar. 

Bisquick Peach Cobbler
  • 3 C sliced fresh peaches
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 TBSP brown sugar packed
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (more if you like)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanila (optional)
  • 1 C Bisquick mix
  • 1 C milk
  • 1/2 C (1 stick) butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine peaches, granulated sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg, cinnamon, and lemon zest.
  3. Mix together Bisquick, milk, and brown sugar. Add to 8x8 baking dish.
  4. Pour fruit on top of mixture, do not stir.
  5. Bake for 45-60 minutes.
Serve warm or cold with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
We gave this recipe two forks, one for each of us.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Moments of Silence

Today, September 11, is the annual National Day of Service and Remembrance, a day of action to commemorate the hijacking of four passengers airlines that resulted in the destruction of the World Trade Center  in NYC,  damage to the Pentagon in Washington, DC and the crash of UA Flight 93 in PA 16 years ago.

This spirit of giving and acts of helping has been shown many times over here in the U.S since that fateful day, and even more so in recent days. Two major hurricanes have struck major cities in the U.S. and caused widespread devastation in several other countries. First responders and strangers have stepped in to help those in need performing rescues and providing aid.

We should never forget September 11, 2011. (Comments are off today in remembrance.)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Welcome Fall

Fall has arrived here in NH at least outside our apartment entry. The scarecrows and pumpkins are surrounded by a lot of foliage because this is New England.
Percy the penguin and Ferdinand the frog also have a new companion for the season. As of now, these mini scarecrows are nameless, but we're open to any suggestions.
Leaf peepers will soon be out and about as the New England states display their autumnal color show. Soon, we'll be taking walks in the nearby Mine Falls park. As of this week, the park was still fairly green. However, there's been some recent rain storms and cooler overnight temperatures and within a few weeks, the park will have some colorful foliage. 

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone
(Our thoughts will be with those affected by "Irma.")

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Here We Go Again

We, like countless others, have been watching the unfolding (and unceasing) news and weather reports about Hurricane Irma, the second devastating storm in as many weeks after Harvey slammed Taxes. "Irma" has already devastated the Caribbean country of Barbuda and parts of Antigua, striking at Puerto Rico and threatening havoc in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and possibly the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Once again, the U.S. mainland is in its sights as it gathers strength and potentially causes catastrophic damages and flooding in Florida and other other states.

Sometimes, we wonder what's worse — the impending storms or the unceasing news coverage. While the dissemination of information is vital during such events, it can also be quite unnerving and worrisome to many.

Internet source
Here's a suggestion: if you have family and/or friends living in or near any of the targeted storm path, why not call them or send an email or text message to let them know you were concerned about them. And, if possible, you might also ask them to let you know they're safe after the storm.

Yesterday and today, we contacted family and friends in FL and GA. A couple of them told us that they were not in harm's way, but appreciated the contact. Another relative is sheltering in place in VA where she was visiting family; she's safe, but very anxious about her FL home.

And, it helped us feel better too.
You and others might feel the same.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Homemade Sunday Sauce

This past Labor Day holiday weekend is traditionally a day of barbecues and picnics for the last hurrah of summer. But, Sunday was rainy and cool, the perfect time for comfort food, like homemade tomato sauce (gravy if you prefer) and lasagna. 

There's always several cans of crushed tomatoes along with a couple jars of store bought tomato sauce in our pantry. But homemade is always preferred and it was the usual fare in my childhood home.

(The recipe below was adapted from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis.)

Marinara Sauce (non-meat)
This basic tomato sauce uses ingredients that are most likely already in your refrigerator or pantry. It's fairly easy to make and is very versatile. And, any leftover sauce can be refrigerated or frozen.
  • 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh basil and oregano, if available
  • 2 (32 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onions and garlic and sauté about 10 minutes until onions are translucent.
  3. Add celery, carrots, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper, basil and oregano (if using). Sauté until vegetables are soft.
  4. Add tomatoes and bay leaves, let come to a low boil, then lower heat and simmer about an hour over low heat until sauce thickens.
  5. Remove and discard bay leaves. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
There's nothing as delicious as homemade sauce served over a tray of (also homemade) lasagna.
And leftovers are even better, just ask us.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Who Ya Gonna Call?

When you accidentally break a part on one of your favorite and much used kitchen appliances. And, it happens on a Sunday on a holiday weekend (Labor Day in the U.S.) ?
This KitchenAid food chopper is a compact unit with a 3-cup capacity and a single chopping blade. Its (much) larger counterpart is stored away and used for larger chopping jobs. This small one is handy for chopping smaller amounts of vegetables, especially those calling for onions, garlic, carrots and celery.

After using it to chop veggies on Sunday, I washed it (parts can be placed in the dishwasher) and placed the bowl and top lid on the unit. 

For some unknown (to me) reason, I pressed on the lid which resulted in a cracking sound (not good). As a safety measure, the lid dome has an side extension that locks the bowl in place before the unit can be operated. I'd accidentally cracked a piece of that locking mechanism and without it the unit won't turn on. 
Checked the user manual and saw the purchase date was in 2002 — 15 years ago and it's still working. Sort of lends credence to the thought that things built years ago last longer!

Apparently, that's too long a lifespan for a small kitchen appliance, according to KitchenAid website. Checked there for parts availability and the chopper was listed as "obsolete." KitchenAid no longer carries replacement parts, but you can buy a newer one.

More  online checking and I found a site Appliance Parts Pros which not only provided an online parts search, but also offered Customer Support 7 days week and 365-day returns. 

Called on Sunday, spoke to Robert in customer service and a replacement lid will arrive in 5-7 days. According to the reviews, this company has a lot of satisfied customers, now including myself. If you're ever in a similar situation with an appliance, check out this site. It was less costly than replacing the whole unit.

What's not to like?
Less costly than a new one; total cost including shipping = $16.40. Hopefully, the chopper will last a few more years. Because . . . "they don't make them like they used to."

What about you — any repair stories of your own?

Friday, September 1, 2017

Friday Funnies

Seen at a local optometry shop.
It made us smile.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.
(Labor Day weekend here in the U.S.)