"Bludgeoning hard times with a rolling pin"

"Bludgeoning hard times with a rolling pin"

Friday, May 27, 2011

A podiatric ecosystem for the boudoir

Once upon a time when I was a young wife, one particular housekeeping nuisance caused such grief. I would lose sleep, pace the floor and stew about the house. What could have been such a horrible annoyance?

Unmatched socks.

Everyone deserves a companion, I thought. What has become of Tube Sock with Grey Heel’s better half? Oh sure, I could attempt to pair him with Tube Sock with White Heel…but then what if Grey Heel eventually shows up? Like in the movie My Favorite Wife. Poor Irene Dunne.

Nowadays, however, I’m proud to announce, I maintain a humane system of handling troublesome loner socks. Introducing…

The bedroom sock basket.

There is no more tube, anklet or mid-calf drama. A permanent fixture in the boudoir, the basket occupies merely a small space. It’s not invasive or offensive. It hurts no one. It is symbiotic.

Turmoil has been eliminated. There is no more pressure to match the chronically unmatched. In fact, I’d go so far as to say, the day there is no sock basket in my room, is the day when I have too much free time on my hands.

After the easy-going socks have been paired, a clan of rowdy rebel socks surface. Instead of reacting with a horror-movie scream (as I had so often in years past), I say, “Hello boys. Off you go to the basket.” That is their punishment for seeking love elsewhere.

I’ve done it so often now, I don’t even feel remorse. One might say, I’m desensitized to this process.

Maybe socks don’t dread the basket. It’s not such a bad place to be, I imagine, from a sock’s point of view. The socks enjoy spending time with one another, many from different backgrounds—like a melting pot. Large ones, small ones and a variety of colors coexist peacefully.

Perhaps stories are swapped about the old days back when they were “in the loop” of mainstream laundry. Maybe they console one another over the hardships of being socks—toes popping through, being worn outdoors. In gravel even!

Their community has been kept pure. Besides socks, no other articles reside in the sock basket. Well, maybe a dryer sheet or two, but that’s all. There is a sporting chance each sock’s mate may be found in that very same location. If it gets stirred enough, perhaps the two will find each other and have a reunion. Would it be a happy reunion? Or would they each blame the other on their circumstances?

Sock 1: After the slumber party when I was being carried into the house, I saw you just lying there in the van. You lazy slob, all rolled up in a ball, not moving an inch. You don’t care if we stay together do you?

Sock 2: I was so sad you left me in the van. I was hoping someone would kick me. I even rolled up into a ball--you saw that. But no one kicked. Alas, not even a strong wind budged me from my predicament.

Both socks sob and hug the best way socks can.

So, you see, the sock basket is to me, I would guess, what a Habitrail is to other people. I don’t have the heart to disrupt their lives now that they have adapted to living there.

Maybe I already do have too much time on my hands.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Cheery springtime cake

You don’t need to be a professional cake decorator to “wow” family and friends with a pretty cake.

For the cake in the photo, coconut was tinted green to simulate grass; and royal icing was used to create the colorful decoration toppers. It’s all so easy to do. Here’s how:

First of all, make a cake and frost it.

To tint coconut:

Place one cup of coconut in a baggie along with 2 or 3 drops of food coloring. Seal the bag. Shake and squeeze. Make sure color gets through all coconut clumps.

The coconut is now ready to be used for decorating.


Add another drop of coloring to darken the batch.
Add more coconut to lighten the color.
Save money by using an empty bread bag for this job. Just twist and hold the end shut.

To make royal icing decorations:

In a mixer on low speed, mix for 7 minutes:
3 tablespoons meringue powder (found in the craft/wedding supplies area at the store)
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons warm water

Portion amounts of icing into small bowls. Add food coloring or paste to create one color per bowl of icing and mix thoroughly.

Transfer icing into decorator bags, squirt bottles or even a baggie with the corner snipped. One color in each, of course.

I find the squirt bottles easy to use and clean. They also can be found in the craft/wedding supplies area at the store. The bottles come two to a pack.

Lay some waxed paper down and begin creating fun, colorful shapes. The icing should be rather thick. Avoid making designs with thin lines, because the shape may break upon removing from paper. The fatter the shape, the better.

As long as you are physically able to use your hand muscles to squeeze the icing onto the waxed paper, it is not too thick. If it is really uncomfortable to squeeze out, remove the icing from the bottle or bag, stir in a drop or two of water and return icing to the bottle or bag. Flatten unintentional icing peaks by pushing the peaks down as soon as possible with a finger moistened with water.

Make extra shapes of similar size. When you think the icing has hardened (after a few hours or overnight) remove these extra shapes from the paper first. If they peel off easily, your real designs probably will, too. And practice shapes are just as yummy as the real thing—a sweet treat for the baker!

If you are going to top the cake with coconut, do so at this time.

Carefully peel your gorgeous designs from the waxed paper and lay them onto the cake. I recommend using a layer of coconut first because it is so forgiving. The icing pieces can be tried in a few different spots before final placement. Just fluff the coconut and no one is the wiser.

All that’s left to do is enjoy the praise…and eat some cake!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I-can-do-it apple pie

Think you can’t make a decent apple pie? Do you feel these types of desserts should be left to the blue ribbon winners at the fair?

Well, throw those notions out just like that uncooperative batch of pie dough. Try this recipe instead!

Start with the pie crust…

Pie crust: (You’ll say, “You must be joking. This crust doesn’t hate me!”)
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons milk

Mix the above ingredients together and work it with your hands to make a big ball of dough.

Take about half of the dough and press it evenly into a greased pie plate. Keep the remaining half nearby.

Apple pie filling:
6 apples, washed, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons flour
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Place the apple slices inside the formed pie crust.

In a saucepan, heat the butter and flour together to make a paste. Mix in the remainder of the ingredients (sugar, brown sugar, water and cinnamon). Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat down, but keep on the stove, stirring every once in a while. Don’t keep the heat on longer than 5 minutes or so.

That is just enough time to…

Roll out the remainder of the pie crust dough on a floured surface. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes. Lay them on top of the apples in an attractive design. (Extra dough freezes well.)

Pour the stovetop mixture over the top of the apples and the cookies on top. Just pour, pour, pour--making sure not to overflow or splash.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 and bake for another 40 minutes.

You might want to place a sheet of foil under the pie plate to save your oven from any overflows (mine did not overflow, however—probably depends on the size of your pie plate.)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Not worth my time? So says Convenience.

The Mertz Log Cabin at Faust Park, Chesterfield, Missouri

I wrote the other day about how Worry paralyzes me from doing what is necessary. Let me introduce you to my other frenemy, Convenience.

Convenience says, "Kris, it's not worth your time to bake bread and mix your own orange juice." It continues, "Just pick up a loaf at the store and while you're there, grab one of those gallon jugs of orange drink, too."

Stop it, Convenience. Stop it, right now!

I see you giggling with Worry behind my back. You two are like mean girls gushing over my new sweater before glancing eye rolls at each other. I'm onto you guys.

At best Worry and Convenience are enablers. At worst, they are saboteurs. Oh yeah, those days are over. I must find new, like-minded pals.

I am learning that the spare change saved from domestic activities such as cooking from scratch add up. And, money saved is actually better than money earned because you don't have to pay taxes on it.

Implementing even more do-it-myself projects should really ca-ching" into some major dough (I regret the pun).

Are you with me?