Saturday, January 05, 2008

Antique Cooking

John has been pestering me about using the dates I bought a while back (because he wants to eat the leftovers), so I finally got around to baking a date cake from a recipe hand-written by my great-grandmother. It turned up somewhere in the family, and copies were made for all the grandchildren. I don't know if my mom or sisters have tried it out yet, so I might be the first in years and years. But I am sharing it here now.

It was super easy to make (although chopping up gummy dates was a bit of a sticky mess) and tastes pretty good. John is the connoisseur of date cakes, since his grandmother makes one (although it is more like a fruitcake with dates in it), and he liked it, too.


Date Cake

Date Cake

1 cup of chopped dates
1 cup of boiling water
1 teaspoon of [baking] soda
1 Tablespoon of butter
1 cup of sugar
1 egg
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
spick of salt
1/2 cup nut meats
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Sprinkle soda over dates; add boiling water, butter, and sugar. Beat until all is dissolved [I just stirred vigorously with a spoon]. Add beaten egg. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into mixture and stir. Add nuts and vanilla. Bake in loaf pan in moderate oven [350]. Black walnuts are best.
[I used a well-buttered and floured bundt pan and baked for 30 minutes.]

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Last Bit of Xmas

For some reason, John's grandmother used to think that a bed-in-a-bag was the perfect xmas present, and all us grandkids ended up exchanging them right away. On the other hand, John's mother always had her finger on the pulse of our interests and needs and would find appropriate gifts for us. How ironic that this year, we took the xmas money from John's mom and bought bedding with it.

New Bedding

These down comforters are *so* fluffy and warm. I will never sleep under anything else.

I love tacky xmas socks, but mine are getting a little thin. I knew that John would not lower himself to actually buy me any, so when I saw some in town, I bought 2 pairs.

xmas socks

For some reason, my pictures get cut off on the right, so you all are missing the glory of my leg hair. If it were actually visible (and you can see it in full if you click on it), I would have made the Internet collectively barf. (BTW Jooge, the next time your mom gives you a hard time about your leg-shaving habits, let her take a look at this photo. And tell her that I've seen hairy-er toddlers (no offense) *g*).

I bought John the first season of Futurama on DVD from amazon-uk, and for some reason, the titles and directions are all in Italian. We have checked and double-checked all the settings, and everything *should* be in English, but that doesn't seem to matter to our DVD player. At least Hannah is giving her language skills a work-out by figuring out what the labels say for us.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year to you!

We had a good time at our friends' last night. They brought out their raclette grill for us. I bought one for John for xmas, so I'll have to post pictures of it when we finally get around to using it, but it is basically a type of indoor grill. The top is sort of like a griddle; our friends put a couple of dishes to keep hot on there. Then there are little non-stick pans that you slide under the griddle surface, and the heating element cooks the contents of the pans. Cheese is the most important ingredient, because it melts and browns wonderfully under there. Yum! Hannah had fun grilling the various pre-chopped foods and even ate some grilled veggies.

After the food and the conversation and the midnight toast, we went down to the street and shot off some fireworks. New Year's is the only time the plebes are allowed to use fireworks, so everyone and his dog were out there. At one point, it was so smokey that we couldn't even see one of the bottle rockets we had just sent up. It had snowed while we were eating, so there was a lovely layer of ice on everything. Despite my (inner) fear that someone would slip and crack her head open on the sidewalk or have an eye shot out, the fireworks were a real hit. The only damper on the night o' fun was when I stepped into a giant fresh pile of dog-doo on the way home. I hate dogs.

I just remembered something I haven't told John yet, and I know he is going to be crushed. If you happen to hear a faint cry of "Whyyyy?!!" from the other side of the Atlantic, you'll know that I have informed John that our grocery store no longer carries Charmin. Not even non-winter scented white.

I missed John and his sweet ways while he was in Chicago. He's in the kitchen right now, murmurring to the cats while he feeds them their favorite wet cat food.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Junk Galore

John made it back from Chicago, none the worse for wear. I think he had a good time, but he wasn't able to meet up with as many people as he had originally hoped to, so he was a little lonely. That didn't stop him from eating at the same Mexican restaurant for four lunches in a row, though. *g*

He always brings us something back when he travels, and Hannah makes it a little easier to pick something for her because she always makes a list of American junk food she wants. For me, America is the land of the free and the home of the brave, but for Hannah it is the home of the Frito-Lay company and the land of MSG, as evidenced by the fruits of John's shopping labors.

To the Founder of the Feast!

We also got shirts, so his efforts won't have completely disappeared into a pile of empty wrappers and crumbs within a couple of days.

A girl I'm sort of friends with in the German department (it's complicated) gave me a music-mix CD a couple of Christmases ago, but I thought it was xmas music, and I didn't actually listen to it right away. While digging around for the software from our internet provider to load onto my new laptop, I found the CD and decided to give it a spin. She picked some really good music! And not xmas music, although I would have liked that, too. So I think I might load it onto my laptop for my listening enjoyment while working.

I really like my new laptop, but the keyboard action on it is stiffer than on John's laptop, so it is taking some getting used to, especially the buttons below the touchpad. My poor thumb is still sore from sewing button-holes into Hannah's pants (the zipper broke), so that might be part of my typing problem.

On Friday I took Hannah and her friend to see Alvin and the Chipmunks. *shudder* I got a little nostalgic when they sang their xmas song the first time, because it used to come on the radio when I was a little kid, but otherwise I concentrated on trying to crochet in the gloom. And then about 3/4 of the way through the movie, Hannah's friend started saying, "My tooth! My tooth!" I took her out in the lobby, and sure enough, her tooth had gotten knocked loose by a piece of popcorn. Hannah's lost baby teeth while eating ice cream and a hamburger (never did find that one), so it wasn't totally surprising, but she said it really hurt, so I ended up leaving the movie early to take her to meet her mom (thank the dwarfs for small favors). I met back up with Hannah afterwards and we went to Pizza Hut as planned. But I had to stop at the yarn store to buy this first:

All the Potholders You Can Eat

John asked me what I wanted for xmas, and I told him that book, and this apron:

He always suspects that I'm throwing him wishlist items underhand to make it easier and cheaper for him*, but always tell him what I would like but wouldn't buy for myself. Which is funny, because even though they are often small items, I really get a kick out of having them.

I totally should have bought this one while we were in Scotland:

So if he's not going to do it, I'll just pick them up myself the next time I see them.

* His stepmom always used to ask for refrigerator magnets when asked what she wanted for xmas.

We're going to spend New Year's Eve with another family, so I guess I'll spend the meanwhile finishing some straightening up I started this morning before I had to go pick John up from the train station. I can never manage to get every part of my house clean at the same time, but at least over the 2 week school break each part will have been clean at least once.