Post #665 Old Fashioned Applesauce Cake

August 18, 2019 at 2:49 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I had a request to teach someone about old fashioned applesauce cake, and since it’s been a while since I’ve had any, or made any, or did a step-by-step post about making something, it all came together for today’s post.  But, before that fun part, I just gotta tell you all about my tomatoes.  They are coming in thick and furious, as I’ve reported before, but today, I pulled some ripe tomatoes that I bought with my own home-grown and whizzed them in the Ninja and made some super fresh tomato sauce.  It’s in the freezer right now with a little salt and olive oil added in.  We’ve got a guest coming in a couple of weeks who’s addicted to Bloody Mary’s so we might use the tomatoes for that.  We’ll see.  I’m grabbing a handful of cherry tomatoes every day now.  They are my mid morning snack at work.  So many tomatoes.

So, let’s talk applesauce cake.

Applesauce cake, in one form or another, has been around for centuries.  Almost as long as people have been baking, they’ve been making cakes that are sweetened or moistened with fruit, and apples have always been a popular fruit to use.  The first recipes to specifically reference applesauce date back to American colonial times.  The basic formula is applesauce, flour, and sugar.  More is added when the baker wants a tastier, firmer type cake.  During the Depression when many ingredients were not available, various “make-do” cakes sprang up using ingredients that were on hand.  Applesauce cake made a comeback and has never really been out of the public eye since.

The batter for the cake tends to be wet, but a dry version can be made using apple chunks along with the applesauce.  The batter can also be modified to make muffins and donuts.  Most applesauce cakes are made in small square baking dishes, but the one I made today is in a larger sheet cake pan.  I’ve also seen some that are in loaf pans like a banana bread, and in bundt pans or fluted pans.  I’ve even seen some that have been modified into layer cakes and filled with a cream cheese based frosting.  Any of the cakes can be frosted or filled, but I usually sprinkle powdered sugar on mine.  Since they’re already sweet and moist, any additional frosting just adds to that and can be too sweet.  I once saw one that had a sugar crumble on top that was good, but again, very sweet.

So the recipe I generally use is this one:

  • 1/2 cup Crisco
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp mace or fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • This recipe also calls for rehydrated raisins, but I stopped using that years ago

Preheat your oven to 300.  In one medium sized bowl, mix the dry ingredients together (flour, baking soda, salt, and spices) and whisk together well.

In a large bowl, cream together the Crisco and sugar until light and fluffy.  This will take a little time, but keep at it and it will work.  I start the blender on low, then move up to medium after a couple of minutes.  Then add the egg and vanilla and blend well.

Measure the applesauce into a measuring cup, then measure the water into another measuring cup.  In alternating stages, add the wet and dry ingredients to the creamed sugar.  Follow standard baking protocol for this by starting and ending with dry ingredients.

Once all the ingredients are blended, use a rubber spatula to fold in the walnuts.

Taste the batter at this stage to see if you want to add any other flavors.  The spice blends and nuts can vary based on personal likes and dislikes.  I would not suggest adding chocolate to this cake, but always use cinnamon.  Apples and cinnamon go together like no other flavor combo imaginable.  I use cinnamon and mace (the ground husk of the nutmeg) because the mace flavor is deeper and earthier than nutmeg.  I also think the flavor of walnut and apple do well together too, and it’s one of the few times where I think the nuts are essential to the cake.

This also tends to be a fairly light textured cake in the batter stage.  I could eat the batter all by itself until I’m full.  Throw some oats in there, and you got breakfast!  Prepare a pan, and I use a disposable aluminum sheet cake with a plastic lid.  The primary reason for this is I take cakes to work all the time and I don’t want to worry about keeping an eye on my good pans.  Prepare the pans by spraying with vegetable oil, or spreading shortening on the bottom and sides then sprinkling with flour.  I haven’t floured a pan since I learned about Pam.  When the batter is in the pan, spread it evenly.

Then bake at 300 for 50-70 minutes.  It depends on your oven and the wetness of the batter.  Check at 50 minutes by sticking a wooden toothpick into the center.  If any wet batter sticks to the toothpick, give it another ten minutes and check.  Keep checking at ten minute intervals until the toothpick comes out clean.  The cake should look like this.

And once it’s cooled, and sprinkled with powdered sugar, it should like this.

And once you cut it and eat it, it should look like this.

And it will taste even better.

This is a great cake to take to gatherings since it’s delicious and stays moist for quite a while.  It will impress anyone eating it.

So, I hope you enjoy the cake.  Share pics if you make it, and feel free to share the post far and wide.

As always,

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Post #664 The Best of the Best

August 11, 2019 at 1:00 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s funny how things seem to come in threes, isn’t it?  In this situation, it was a case of several things happening coming together at nearly the same time leading to a funny ending.  At least, I thought it was funny.

It started a few days ago, maybe a week or so.  I was looking for a particular recipe and went to my hard drive.  I was running down the list of file names (each file name is the name of the recipe) and realized of the many dozens of recipes I’ve got on the computer, at least a third of them use the word Best.  I’ve got the best brownies, the best bread, the best yellow cake, the best butter cookies, and so on.  I got a chuckle out of it, found my recipe, and went on to cooking with a mental note to start naming the recipes with a little variety.

Then, this week at work, I flew solo.  The person I am replacing has retired and I was “on my own” so to speak.  Although since it’s a team effort, I wasn’t on my own really.  There’s an extra desk in my office/cubby that’s used by anyone who needs a space away from the mainstream to do work, usually to call patients.  Nearly everyone who came in during the week chatted cooking and baking with me.  All our conversations held the words, “I’ve got the best recipe for . . . ”  Usually, whatever that recipe was turned out to be a stand-out.  I learned some traditional Vermont and Canadian recipes, and I’ll likely learn more which I’ll share.  Ever heard of poutine?

But the capper came yesterday.  I was searching through some online cookbooks and found this one:

With the term “best of” ringing in my brain, I had to take a look at it.

I was searching on cooking basics because I was reminded that this blog started with the basics.  When this book popped, it almost seemed like fate.  I mean, the title is brilliant.  It’s designed to make you open the cover.  And the only quote about what’s inside is from a chef known for wanting perfection.  I’ve never heard of the guy, but the inside of the book is heavy with pictures, and “pro tips” to make the recipe more accessible for inexperienced cooks.  The only thing I don’t like about it is that the recipes are geared more towards “high class” cooking rather than home style cooking.  There are some basic recipes with good detailed instructions, but mostly it’s things like Chinese Noodle Bird Nest soup, and Cucumber Yogurt Gazpacho.  I can’t imagine any hungry four year old eating those.  But if you want to know how to make ’em, the details are there with tips to not screw it up.

Having said that, though, there are a ton of recipes that I’ve been looking for like authentic custard tarts, and roast belly of pork with apples and pistachios.  The real strength of this book is in the pro tips and keys to perfection sections.  These are lessons most people learn the hard way, but in this book they’re all spelled out in easy to understand (at least for me) language and steps.  And there are several recipes for building blocks; things like soup stock, and cookies, basic roasted chicken.

The search that found this fun book was looking for a basic cookbook to remind myself where cooking starts.  Since I want to bring the blog back to its roots, I figured I’d take a once-a-month approach and somewhere around the first of each month, I’d post a beginner’s style recipe and lesson.  So I was curious where cooking lessons start.  I remember as a kid, watching mom and absorbing information that way.  I knew what a stove was; I knew how to boil water for hot dogs and eggs; I knew how to make toast; I knew how to make popcorn.

What I didn’t know what how to plan a meal.  I didn’t know how to cook for small groups and large groups.  I didn’t know how to read a recipe.  I didn’t know how to blend flavors and textures.  I didn’t know how to think of a recipe as the first step.  I found a lot of advice, but no real lessons.  Even the above book is not a cooking lesson, per se.

Then I found this one:

And I thought, sure why not?  It’s a good cookbook and does the same thing as the one at the beginning of the post.  It gives a lot of tips, hints, and tricks to be successful.  I haven’t read all the way through it, but the bits I’ve read are good.

Over the years, I’ve read a LOT of cookbooks and “learning to cook” books.  They seem to follow a pattern and start with breakfast.  If they don’t start with breakfast, they start with the beginning of the meal.  So, I’ll likely follow that same pattern when I start.

For now, I’ll leave you with a favorite recipe.

When I was in high school, I did a lot of cooking, particularly in my senior year.  My home work and studying usually went pretty fast, and fixing and cleaning after dinner was normally done by 6 or 630.  My evenings were open, and unless the high school band had something going on that I needed to be at, I did a lot of reading and/or writing.  I started making cookies or fudge in the evening.  I made what was called Opera Fudge (I think) which consisted of cocoa, sugar, milk, vanilla, and butter.  The fudge was thin, shiny, and if it was made properly, it melted in your mouth.  But one thing I made only once in a while, even though it was my personal favorite – caramels.

I love caramel.   I love the ooey, gooey richness and flavor.  I love how it gets stuck to my teeth so I have to keep sucking at them to get all the candy off.  The first time I made them, I didn’t cook it long enough and it was more of a sauce than a candy.  It was wonderful on ice cream.  But over time, I got pretty good at it, and eventually started putting it on top of the fudge.  That never really worked exactly the way I wanted it to, but was pretty good overall.  Here’s the recipe I followed.

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter in pieces
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup

You will need an accurate candy thermometer for this.  Line a 9×9 inch glass baking dish with aluminum foil with an overhang of about an inch on two opposite sides.  Grease the foil with butter.  Do not use any spray.

In a large, heavy sauce pan mix all ingredients until well combined, then heat over medium-low heat until boiling stirring constantly to avoid scorching.  Cook for 35-45 minutes until the thermometer reaches 245.  Carefully pour into prepared dish and allow to cool completely.  Do not put it in the freezer or the fridge to cool as it may crystallize.  Once the caramel has cooled, pressed your finger lightly in the center to test for firmness.  It should have a slight give, but hold its shape.  Lift the candy out of the pan using the foil overhangs.  Gently peel the foil off the candy and place on a cutting board.  Cut into one inch square pieces and wrap individually in plastic wrap.

These can be decorated with a sprinkling of sea salt during the cooling stage.  Melt some chocolate chips with a little vegetable oil and pour over the top during the cooling stage and sprinkle with sea salt, or colored sprinkles.

Feel free to share this post far and wide and to ask me any questions you may have.

As always,

 

Post #663 What To Do, What To Do?

August 4, 2019 at 2:42 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tomatoes are coming in fast and furious.  I’ve eaten a handful of cherry tomatoes just this weekend, and the plum tomatoes are turning more and more red with each passing minute.  I’ve got a feeling we’re going to be knee deep in them soon, so I’ve devised a plan to whiz the ripe fruit through the blender and freeze it with some garlic and basil to make a fresh sauce.  And the tomatillos are coming in too.  We’ve got a lot of the paper balls and waiting for the fruit to fill them.  So that’s the update on the farming front.

A few days ago Partner/Spouse brought home a huge pork roast that was on sale.  The price was too good not to buy it.  We wanted to cut it into pieces since we’d only be cooking it for two people, but there was a large bone running down the center of it making cutting it problematic.  So, what to do?

I cooked the whole thing, low and slow on Saturday.  Today, I will be shredding the meat off the bone.  The plan is to then separate into three or four equal portions large enough for the two of us.  Then we’ll have three or four different meals out of it.

Meal 1:  Pulled pork sandwiches.  We both love barbecue.  And we’ve had a lot of different varieties.  One time in North Carolina, I made pulled pork with the traditional North Carolina barbecue sauce.  We’d never had it before so I mixed some of the pan juices with the jar of sauce and dumped it over the pork and tossed it all around.  We fixed our standard meal and all took a big bite.  Totally inedible.  We didn’t know that North Carolina barbecue sauce is a vinegar based sauce.  Using a whole bottle wasn’t the right thing to do.  And we should have tried it before using it.  Rule one in cooking, right?  Another time, we made one from scratch and misread the amount of red pepper flakes was supposed to go in.  Blazingly hot, it was, but it was so good.  What we use now, when we can find it, is a sauce called Bone Sucking Sauce.  It’s so good you’ll suck the leftover barbecue sauce off the bones of the meat, and off your fingers, and even your plate.  When we can’t find that, we use Sweet Baby Ray’s Original.  Part of the reason we tend to use “Original” in anything is so we can add to it any flavors we want in any combination or strength.

Meal 2:  Pork Risotto.  We love rice here, in all its forms.  Risotto is one of our favorites, but it takes planning and work.  Planning because adding the ingredients at the right time and the right order is key to success; work because you have to stand at the stove stirring that pot for 30-40 minutes to get it right.  For this meal, I’m thinking of garlic and onion sautéed with the rice, and asparagus added at the end so it’s crisp-cooked.  Lemon and parmesan at the very end.  The whole meal in one pot and plenty to have for lunch the next day.  I recently made risotto with chicken and leeks.  The leeks we got at a farm stand and I thought I’d cleaned them well enough.  I didn’t.  There wasn’t a lot of sand, but there was some and it gritted in our teeth at the most awkward times.  But it was yummy.

Meal 3:  Pork Tacos.  So, the best way to do this is to take some of the shredded pork and cut it into bite sized pieces.  I mean, really small.  Then crisp it up in the oven with some lime juice to get that wonderful citrusy flavor all over it.  I’m a sucker for tacos Americanos (as it was called where I grew up) which is basically a cheeseburger in a corn tortilla.  I fry up the tortillas (four for me one way; four for him another way.  Only takes a few minutes) then for mine I put down shredded cheese on the hot tortilla so it melts a little, then meat on top of that, then dices tomatoes, then shredded lettuce, then salsa or pico de gallo to top it all off.  We love tacos at our house, and we like seeing all the variations.  We don’t DO the variations, but we like seeing them.

Meal 4:  So if the roast stretches this far, and I’m sure it will, the last meal I’m planning for this roast is pork and gravy over mashed potatoes.  There’s not too much more satisfying than hot meat and gravy over mash.  I grew up with it, and have been eating it my whole life.  Sometimes I throw corn niblets or peas into it too.  Another one pot meal.

Meal 4 (Alternate):  So if the roast stretches this far, and I’m sure it will, and if I don’t want mashed potatoes another meal I like to make is rice and roast.  One of my favorite rice mixes is Near Eastern Rice Pilaf.  I like the flavor and the ease of preparation.  On my own, I found that if I throw in leftover roast of any kind, and cook it per normal cooking directions, the meat comes out as tender as a marshmallow.  With a salad on the side, or frozen veggies cooked with the rice and meat, it’s another one of those one-pot meals that are amazingly easy to do.

So that’s “what to do” with our roast.

And we’re considering our diet options again.  We recently investigated the keto diet, but opted out of it because with our current health issues, the keto diet was too stringent.  But we do want to get into a lower carb higher protein diet.  We want to lose some weight and eat more nutritiously.  So now we’re considering the Atkins diet.  It’s an established plan that’s been around for decades; there are tons of online tools to track our progress; and it’s been modified several times to keep up with new findings and popular foods.  Plus, we like their snack bars.  So you’ll be hearing a little more about that in upcoming weeks.

So, that’s this weekend wrapped up.  Right now, we’re sitting on the front porch in the mid-afternoon enjoying the cool breeze and warm sun.  The dog is asleep at our feet (actually a squirrel wandered by so he’s now investigating it) and the neighborhood is quiet and relaxing.  Music is filtering out the front door from the TV/Stereo, some Irish/Celtic mix, and it all adds up to a relaxing and wonderful day.

Hope yours is shaping up the same.

Feel free to share the post far and wide.

As always,

Post #662 Meanwhile, Back At The Festival

July 31, 2019 at 6:14 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In the last post, I told you about the full on weekend we had and how fun it was.  The Festival was one of the highlights.  I love doing community outreach for the various hospitals Partner/Spouse has worked at.  One time, I got to be in charge of the music and a little girl asked me why I had pink-purple IPod.  She seemed satisfied with the answer that I kept losing the black ones.  Another time, I walked all around Tucson with a group of people who never introduced themselves to me, but we were walking for heart health so I didn’t care.

The Festival was to commemorate the founding of our fair metropolis and the heritage it entails.  It’s a yearly deal, and kind of a big deal, too.  I was impressed with everything I saw, although we didn’t get to see as much as I wanted.  We got there early to help set up, and walked from our house because it’s really a small town.  It took us about ten minutes to walk there.

I got to indulge in my favorite pastime – people watching.  We had a smoothie making machine powered by bicycle.  It’s a stationary bike, and the front wheel powered the blender.  One little boy, about nine decided he was going to make the first batch of smoothies.  His mom encouraged him and it took about twenty minutes.  He was pretty beat by the time it was done, but he looked like he was having fun, and the crowd kept shouting Attaboy! and Go Faster!  When the smoothie was 99% done, a little girl with arthritis and braces on her legs wanted to take a turn.  Her mom and I got her on the bike, and while I steadied her, her mom helped her pedal.  And she had a blast!  I bet no other smoothie tasted so good.

There were a ton of food trucks at one end of the fairway and I wished I had the room in my stomach to try them all because they were varied.  I think I told you I saw the lady with the maple sugar popcorn.  She also had the popcorn kernels for sale.  Shoulda bought some, but didn’t think about it till it was too late.

It put me in mind of the county Fair where I grew up.  It was a magical time for kids of any age when the Fair came to town.  Since it was a small town and agriculturally based, the Fair was a big deal for the 4H clubs and the boy scouts, etc.  I didn’t enter anything in the competitions, but several of my friends did, so we always went during the latter part of the day so we could see the exhibits, then spend time in the evening on the rides after it got dark and the midway was lit up like Christmas.  Rides are always better when the lights are shining bright.

The Fair always meant good food, and the best was always Indian Fry Bread.  Nowadays, they call them Indian tacos.  It’s basically bread dough that’s been shaped into a small ball to rest.  Then, just before cooking, it’s stretched out to a disk about 8-10 inches across.  It’s deep-fried in oil or lard until it’s puffy and golden brown.  Then comes the fun part, deciding what to put on it.  There were several choices but the two most popular were cinnamon and powdered sugar, and The Works.  The Works were refried beans, taco meat, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, salsa, and sour cream if you wanted it.  It was served flat but most people folded it up like a taco, hence it’s name change.  I always ate it flat.

For some reason, you couldn’t get this delicacy any time but at Fair time, at least not anywhere I knew about, so every day during the week of the Fair, I’d head over at lunch time, beg my free way inside, grab an Indian Fry Bread, then go back to work with it.  My mouth still waters.  I’ve made it myself once successfully.  So good.

Thoughts of home and food inevitably make me remember the mom of one of our pack of friends.  She was the kind of woman who would feed the stranger at her gate and never think twice about it.  I’ve seen her cook three turkeys for Thanksgiving for a club house do, and forget to make dinner for her family.  I know she was just expecting them to come with her when she served, but it surprised her that she forgot.  Of course, that year, the kids ate at our house.  I mentioned once that I liked Cheerios for breakfast sometimes, so she kept a box on hand for me.  It got stale over time, but I kept munching away at it till it was gone.  I used to call them donut seeds.

Quirky neighbors abounded in our neighborhood.  Must have been something in the water.  Our next door neighbors were “naturists”.  They had planted enough shrubbery and trees to mask most of the yard, so they could be as natural as they chose to be.  Whenever I saw them, he would be wearing a tiny speedo, and she would be wearing a tiny string bikini.  Trust me.  Neither of them should have been seen in those garments.

My brother came over one day with a  strange look on his face.  “Did you know the neighbors are nudists?”  I started laughing.  Apparently he had gone over to borrow a tool to fix his truck.  The guy had greeted him at the door naked while his wife was spread out on top of the couch in full view.

But meanwhile, back at the Festival, we were having a good time and watching people go by.  My eyes bugged out a bit when I saw a young man walking by strip to his underwear due to the heat.  His girlfriend/wife/significant other didn’t react, like this was completely normal behavior for him.

A few minutes later, I noticed an odd look on Partner/Spouse’s face and followed his gaze.  Up the street walking away from us was an older couple, and the woman wasn’t wearing a top.  She should have been.

But I’m told there are no laws against public nudity here.

And the funnel cakes and maple sugar popcorn were good.

Feel free to share the post, and as always,

Post #661 Weekend Update

July 28, 2019 at 2:42 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We had one of those wonderful weekends where everything that happens is fun, and it all flows naturally from one event to another, almost organically.  And it finally culminates with an unexpected surprise and we can look back at the whole weekend and say, “Gee, that was fun.”

The weekend actually started on Thursday.  Like the rest of the country, we’ve been locked in the grip of unseasonably hot temperatures.  For this area, it’s unheard of to have “feels like” temp topping over 105, but we’ve had those.  We broke down and bought a couple of portable a/c so we could sleep at night.  Thursday, however, was the start of a break in that awful pattern of heat and humidity.  It was a pleasant 85 degrees, and a cool breeze was blowing, reminding us of the tops of mountains.  Humidity was in the low temps so burned off long before the heat rose.  Being outside was no longer torture.  It was like a present being given to us!  I spent some time with the plants before embarking on dinner plans and another wonderful surprise.  All the cherry tomatoes I showed you last week are all starting to look like this:

So yay!  Tomatoes coming soon!  Those three are now looking very red, and only a couple of days away from being food for me, and I’m at that waiting point again where I wish I could hurry time forward so I can try these puppies.  I don’t want to pick them too early because that would defeat the purpose.  So it was a happy Thursday.

Friday was my first day at work totally by myself.  The job isn’t difficult, but there are so many details to attend to.  Luckily, there are more than just my eyes seeing what I’m doing so if I goof, it will come back to me to be corrected long before it gets to a patient.  And I handled all the unexpected things thrown at me like I knew what I was doing.  The hardest part of the day was eating lunch by myself.  But the weather cooperated and I ate outside and got drowsy in the sun while looking at the tree covered mountains all around.

On the drive home, we opted to have Chinese food but couldn’t get to the place easily.  We did manage it, but there was a city festival going on!  Most of the main part of the city was blocked off and we had to drive around a little to get where we were going, then back again.  But it was pretty cool seeing it because of Saturday.

Saturday, we had breakfast of homemade sausage and buttermilk biscuits.  We had some ground pork and I added some seasoning from a packet plus a little extra for zing.  Once that was well mixed, I put it in the fridge, then started the oven heating for the biscuits.  I didn’t opt to make them this time, but went with the frozen ones.  We love these things.  So handy and when they’re made correctly they are delicious.  Once they were done, I started the sausage patties.  So in 40 minutes from the start, we were scarfing down biscuits slathered with butter (mine had a small dollop of raspberry preserves) and hot and tasty sausage.  Even Buddy got some, but not a lot.

Then we walked over to the Festival because we were volunteers!  Our hospital had a booth and needed help setting up.  Then we stayed until the other volunteers arrived.  The booth was fun.  The best part was we had a bicycle with a blender attached to it.  We’d get little kids on the bike to power the blender to make blueberry-kale smoothies.  We also had a Plinko game but that was more annoying than anything else.  We had freebies to give away, and a set up to check your weight and to get your blood pressure checked.  So overall, we had a fun and educational array.

The Heritage Festival is a big thing for the town, and started on Thursday night with a historic car show.  Friday night was live entertainment and food trucks.  Saturday started with a free breakfast hosted by the Rotarians at the library.  The library was also having a used book sale, but we couldn’t figure out where that was given the hordes buzzing around the pancakes, eggs, and bacon.  The food trucks were everywhere and so varied I was quite impressed.  One was the lady we’d met at the Made in Vermont Expo we went to back in April who was selling the Maple Sugar Popcorn.  Main Street (yes, really, Main Street is the key street in the town) was closed for several blocks from the courthouse to the city square.  We were located about halfway between them.  The city square end was where the tractor pull, the library sale, and the food trucks were located.  The courthouse end was where most of the kiddie events were.  There was a small petting zoo, face painting, bouncy houses, a pugil stick joust, lots of lemonade and popcorn, and general camaraderie.  The whole thing was capped by a spectacular fire works display at 9pm.  Buddy wasn’t impressed.

We walked home, but still felt energetic, so we did the grocery shopping, and stopped to complete one more errand.  We got home early and so I beat the heat and watered and fertilized the plants.  And checked the tomatoes again, hoping beyond hope they’d be ready to pick.  They weren’t.  Then we spent the rest of the day doing laundry, relaxing, reading, listening to music, and sitting on the porch.  Even dinner was a relaxed affair involving foraging more than anything else.

Today, we got up about an hour later than normal, at toast for breakfast, and drove to one of the first places we’d ever visited here, The North Branch Nature Center, about 7 miles from us.  The first time we visited was winter about a week after we arrived and Buddy took a face plant slipping in the snow while trying to pee on a tree.  It was a whole different look and so much fun.  On a Sunday, the center opens much later, so we had the place to ourselves.  Buddy had fun wandering around and peeing on everything.  It was mostly just a gesture since after the first couple of attempts, his bladder was as empty as last week’s bread wrapper.  The wildflowers were in full bloom and we saw many things we couldn’t identify, and plenty that we could.  I even took Buddy down to the river where he suddenly turned into a water dog.  We went back by a different route to see the garden section and found out something.

What we always took as the garden spot is actually a community garden plot.  So, we might be looking at that for next year’s veggies!  We saw a ton of different things, and were kind of surprised to see not broccoli but Brussels Sprouts, too.

But the highlight of the weekend came on the drive home.

“Wanna stop at one of the bakeries we passed?”  Partner/Spouse knows what I’m going to say yes to.

The first one had no parking and a line out the door so we kept going.  The second was a better option for us and we stopped at The Bohemian Bakery.

I’ve read about this bakery in a few of the books and newspapers that I’ve read.  It’s well-known, and well-loved throughout the state, shoot, throughout New England.  It’s shop front is a small, house-conversion.  They do that a lot around here.  The towns and villages are hundreds of years old and in an effort to preserve the history, they do their best not to have the cookie cutter steel and glass shopping centers.  Part is a space consideration and part is a heritage consideration.  Makes it hard to find things sometimes, but there you are.

So we went into this bakery and their selection has been picked over pretty extensively.  I learned after a few minutes that they have plenty more in the bakery itself and seldom run out of anything.  There was a family of six buying a ton of stuff and taking their time which I find truly annoying.  Get your stuff and get out – of my way.  Especially when they’re taking what appears to be the last of what I want.

But we managed to get what we wanted.  I got a chocolate spiral, and a croissant.  Partner/Spouse got a chocolate spiral and a . . .

“What are those?” he asked pointing.

“Kouign Amann,” came the reply.  It’s pronounced Queen Amoh.

He instantly said, “I’d like one of those, please.”

I immediately followed with, “Make that two please.”

The girl laughed and we explained we were big fans of The Great British Baking Show and had been wanting to try one for months.

She said she heard that a lot.

And they are yummeeeeeeeee!  Think of a perfectly flaky and buttery French croissant that instead of being rolled into the crescent shape is pushed into a muffin cup so that once it rises it looks a bit like a flower.  Also think of it having that flaky butter flavor with a little bit of sweetness to it.  And then think about that little bit of sweetness turning to a light caramel on the bottom as it bakes, and you’ve got the Kougin Amann.  I could eat three or four of them.  I wanted to eat three or four of them.

But we’ve found our favorite bakery now.

So the rest of the weekend is given over to writing, reading, and other fun pursuits at home.  And wine.  Can’t forget the wine.

So, tell us all how your weekend went.  Feel free to share this post far and wide.

And,

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