Thursday, August 27, 2015

Friday Friend Recipe #70 -- 'Berry Plain' Cheesecake



Friday Friend Recipe #70: Berry Plain  Cheesecake

Making my way thru my Friday Friend Cookbook, one recipe at a time.
What is the Friday Friend cookbook: I have about 50 of my closest friends and family on an e-mail forum which I called the Friday Friends (from all over the county). At first, most of them didn't know each other, (they knew me) but over the past 15 years, we've answered and shared silly--and serious---questions, exchanged Secret Santa Christmas gifts, had a dieting contest in which we paid a $1 a week and that money went to a scholarship fund for a Friday Friends son's memorial scholarship, and we went on a great vacation for my 52 birthday.

AND, we contributed recipes for a cookbook.
 
I was looking at the cookbook the other night and I said, "I should make every recipe in here for my blog."
The Handyman--who knows me better than I know myself (this happened to be a question on the Friday Friend forum once---does your spouse/partner know you better than you know yourself?)--said, "you'll never, EVER do that."

WELL---maybe I'll show him! Maybe I will.

Which brings me to this... recipe #70

Tomi's
Berry Plain Cheesecake
 
 
 
 
It's a good thing I gave up quality picture taking long ago... because these photos do not do this cheesecake justice.
This is the best  cheesecake,  bar none, I have ever made.  It is my 'go-to' cheesecake. 
 It's a creamy classic, wonderful, yummy, cheesecake.
 
You could top this with fruit, but we like it plain.  It has a sprinkle of cinnamon and topped with a sour cream sauce.
So, I guess technically, it's a cinnamon cheesecake.
It's the best!



Berry - Plain Cheesecake
FF Tomi Pingree
Kaysville, UT
 
3 eggs
2 8oz pkgs cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
sprinkle of cinnamon
10-inch graham cracker crust
 
Beat eggs and cream cheese until creamy.  Stir in sugar and vanilla.  Pour into crust.  Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with cinnamon.
 
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
 
Mix together and spread on top of cheesecake.  Bake at 400 for 5 more minutes.  Cool and keep refrigerated.
You may serve with cherries, strawberries, or blueberries, but it is delicious just as it is.


I have been making this cheesecake for years.  And years.
Every since I had it at my friend Tomi's house circa 1988.
I never thought I'd have to give the credit back to her (sigh), but I guess fair is fair.


 
This is  Tomi's 3rd appearance in the FF Cookbook Countdown.
I have many of her recipes which I still make to this very day--- even tho she says she is not a cook.  She  used to say that she never thought about dinner because she hated cooking and  would just whip together some "hamburger surprise" right before Stuart got home.
I will have to share one of those in the FF Appendix sometime -- simmered bbq burgers --  I wonder if Tomi  still makes them?
And why is it, that my friends who think they are not cooks, are the ones who's dinners I remember most?  They make great dishes.
 
Because I've always been interested in food/cooking,  I would study (I guess that's the right word)  my friends, as they would cook and make meals for their families.
When I think of Tomi,  stormy, Fall afternoons come to mind, when we would sit and visit and I would watch her begin to make her dinner.  Yes, there were many 'hamburger mystery' dinners, (weren't there for all of us?), but most of them were just good comfort family food.
 
When I think back on my life (ooooohhhh....don't worry, I'm not getting all melodramatic)  but good times and memories with friends in their kitchens (and I have been in many--and watched YOU, when you didn't think I was) are some of the best memories ever!
 
I am also extremely envious of Tomi  and Stuart and their travels. 
Luxemburg!  In front of a castle!
 
Their son, Zach, is in the Air Force, stationed in Germany, and they recently went to visit him.
 
(found this in my notebook from 2006 )
from Tomi:
(both her sons are in the Air force and her daughter, Emily taught school in Japan for a while)
 
Cody called this morning.  He received his base assignment.  He will be going to Guam.  Yikes! That's far away.  Now I'll really need to get a passport.  I'll go to Japan and visit Em, hop over to Guam to see Cody, and then I may as well go to Australia since I'm in the neighborhood.
I wonder where Zach will end up?
 

 
NOW WE KNOW!!
Luxemburg!  In front of a castle!
She has definitely gotten her passport.
 
 
 
So that's a Friday Friend Memory of Tomi... loved watching her cook.
She will laugh at this, but it's true.
 
I have a quick little story about her cheesecake and the Handyman.
One Thanksgiving we were invited over for dessert to our friends, Theresa and Mike's home.
There were having a lot of people and some were bringing desserts.  I made this cheesecake.
I made the crust from scratch as well.
My cheesecake overflowed a bit, and didn't look picture perfect, but I knew it would taste AMAZING, as usual.  But I said to the Handyman (who does love this cheesecake), be sure and have a piece of this cheesecake, okay?  When people see it cut it will look better and then they'll eat it, etc.
He said okay.
When we get to their house, there was a table with a variety of desserts.
He sees a cheesecake.  An OUT OF THE BOX JELLO cheesecake.  Perfect looking.
He says OH CHEESECAKE!  and proceeds to stuff his mouth with an OUT OF THE BOX JELLO cheesecake!
I could have killed him!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Girl With All the Gifts

From Goodreads:
 
Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her "our little genius."
 
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.
 
Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

From Me:
4 stars from me.
A dystopian suspense novel--- that's how I would describe it.  With Zombies.
You might think the zombie theme has been over done, but this has a very unique take on it.  I really liked how the author did that.
I was hooked from the very beginning. 
Great character development and a story with a moral dilemma--about Zombies?  Yes!
I would compare it to "The Passage" but with a softer, kinder, plot.
But not really, as the author does not hold back on zombiness horror.  You'll just have to read it.
I recommend it to those who like dystopian and zombies.  And even those of you who don't.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Church of Marvels

 
 
 
From Goodreads:
A ravishing first novel, set in vibrant, tumultuous turn-of-the-century New York City, where the lives of four outsiders become entwined, bringing irrevocable change to them all

New York, 1895. Sylvan Threadgill, a night soiler cleaning out the privies behind the tenement houses, finds an abandoned newborn baby in the muck. An orphan himself, Sylvan rescues the child, determined to find where she belongs.

Odile Church and her beautiful sister, Belle, were raised amid the applause and magical pageantry of The Church of Marvels, their mother’s spectacular Coney Island sideshow. But the Church has burnt to the ground, their mother dead in its ashes. Now Belle, the family’s star, has vanished into the bowels of Manhattan, leaving Odile alone and desperate to find her.

A young woman named Alphie awakens to find herself trapped across the river in Blackwell’s Lunatic Asylum—sure that her imprisonment is a ruse by her husband’s vile, overbearing mother. On the ward she meets another young woman of ethereal beauty who does not speak, a girl with an extraordinary talent that might save them both.

As these strangers’ lives become increasingly connected, their stories and secrets unfold. Moving from the Coney Island seashore to the tenement-studded streets of the Lower East Side, a spectacular human circus to a brutal, terrifying asylum, Church of Marvels takes readers back to turn-of-the-century New York—a city of hardship and dreams, love and loneliness, hope and danger. In magnetic, luminous prose, Leslie Parry offers a richly atmospheric vision of the past in a narrative of astonishing beauty, full of wondrous enchantments-a marvelous debut that will leave readers breathless.
 
 
From Me:
2 stars.
I feel bad....but it just didn't do it for me.
While I might have liked the story more, I just couldn't get past the narration ...and yet, I forced myself to listen to the end.
So, that must mean the story itself had some merit.
I checked out the ratings on Audible.com just now and it ranges from 4 to 2 stars--the lower ratings all mention the narration, so I suggest that you read the hardcover, because the story is not bad.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Friday Friend Recipe #69 -- Cheesed Spuds on the BBQ



Friday Friend Recipe #69: Cheesed Spuds on the BBQ

Making my way thru my Friday Friend Cookbook, one recipe at a time.
What is the Friday Friend cookbook: I have about 50 of my closest friends and family on an e-mail forum which I called the Friday Friends (from all over the county). At first, most of them didn't know each other, (they knew me) but over the past 15 years, we've answered and shared silly--and serious---questions, exchanged Secret Santa Christmas gifts, had a dieting contest in which we paid a $1 a week and that money went to a scholarship fund for a Friday Friends son's memorial scholarship, and we went on a great vacation for my 52 birthday.

AND, we contributed recipes for a cookbook.
 
I was looking at the cookbook the other night and I said, "I should make every recipe in here for my blog."
The Handyman--who knows me better than I know myself (this happened to be a question on the Friday Friend forum once---does your spouse/partner know you better than you know yourself?)--said, "you'll never, EVER do that."

WELL---maybe I'll show him! Maybe I will.

Which brings me to this... recipe #69
 
Barb's
Cheesed Spuds on the BBQ




You can't really see the Cheesey spuds here, but you can see how many packets of them I did for a BBQ, the other day.
This was the same day I  did the Sassy Meatballs and my grandchildren loved them!?  They also love the idea of putting their own potato chunks in foil, and sprinkling the cheese one and having their own special packet.
 
It was Parmesan cheese, which melts into the potato, so it's hard to see, but I am sure if you wanted to throw some cheddar on there, it would be great too.
 
I read somewhere that potatoes are possibly the perfect food to put in a foil packet. 
I have to agree.



Cheesed Spuds on the BBQ
Barb Brown
Buckeye, AZ

Pare and cube potatoes. Place individual servings on foil sprayed with Pam. Sprinkle each with onion salt, celery salt and grated Parmesan.  Dot with butter.
Seal foil into packets.
Cook on grill for about  30 minutes.
Turn frequently to avoid burning.


This is Barb's 17th appearance in the Countdown.
See all her recipes here.
 
You'll be seeing  a lot more of her.  I think that I'll have to do a Barb recipe every other time to keep up!
 
My family has a cabin in Eastern Oregon,  by Wallowa Lake,  in the Eagle Cap Wilderness, and one time, about 18 years ago, we took Barb and  her husband Doug, their daughter, Kim.
(we would take them again, but schedules and many miles separate us all, and more miles separate the cabin.  One day---fingers crossed-- we will do it again)
 
On this trip, they had to do a day's drive from California and then the next day we all had another day's drive up to the cabin.
The Brown's are game players and when you travel with them, one must play along  (not that we mind---it's tons of fun!)
We had 8 people and two cars, so on our 7.5 hour drive to the cabin, the rule was that every time we stopped (to use the restroom or have lunch), someone in each car had to switch places.
 
With the Handyman, that would have been 1 time.  1 stop.  1 switch.
 
Now, the Handyman is practically perfect in every way.... except when it comes to car trips.  He won't stop.  Not ever.  Unless gas is needed.
I've just learned to adapt over the years.
 
Not so, Barbara Brown.
We had to stop every hour!!
That was 7 times!
So, the switching was fun.  We all laughed and car hopped around and separated kids who didn't really love that, but ???  It was part of the game.
 
But 7 potty stops during a 7.5 - 8 hour trip?  Makes the trip  9+ hours!!
Even I was a little bit like---Barb?  Seriously?   ~insert smiley face right here~
 
Then I learn that during business trips, the Handyman ( he and Barb worked for JCPenney for many years) ---  would actually stop for Barb!
WHAT??
He stops for Barb, but not for me?
There is something wrong with that practically perfect Handyman!
 
Anyway, it was much fun and silliness doing the car hopping.
And yes, we are adults.  Just making a game out of life.
 
This photo (Barb is sitting)  is on top of Mt. Howard -- a very, very high mountain, in which you have to ride a tram up.  Then we did some hiking around up there. 
 
 
 



Doug was shadowing his wife!
And I'm not sure what they were doing.
 
Showing off some hazy farmland below?
 



And this concludes recipe #69
in the countdown where the Handyman, by challenging me to this, ensures he gets to eat once in a while.
 
 






Sunday, August 16, 2015

Friday Friend Recipe #68 -- Quick and Easy Baked Beans

 
 
Friday Friend Recipe #68: Quick and Easy Baked Beans
Making my way thru my Friday Friend Cookbook, one recipe at a time.
What is the Friday Friend cookbook: I have about 50 of my closest friends and family on an e-mail forum which I called the Friday Friends (from all over the county). At first, most of them didn't know each other, (they knew me) but over the past 15 years, we've answered and shared silly--and serious---questions, exchanged Secret Santa Christmas gifts, had a dieting contest in which we paid a $1 a week and that money went to a scholarship fund for a Friday Friends son's memorial scholarship, and we went on a great vacation for my 52 birthday.

AND, we contributed recipes for a cookbook.

I was looking at the cookbook the other night and I said, "I should make every recipe in here for my blog."
The Handyman--who knows me better than I know myself (this happened to be a question on the Friday Friend forum once---does your spouse/partner know you better than you know yourself?)--said,  "you'll never, EVER do that."

WELL---maybe I'll show him!  Maybe I will.

Which brings me to this... recipe #68

Linda's
Quick and Easy Baked Beans
 
 
 
 
This is the classic picnic side-dish!
And canned beans makes it true to it's name--quick and easy!
 
And Hooray for me!
I've completed all the bbq/baked bean recipes in the cookbook.
(sigh)
It feels so good to have one little section completed.
 



Quick and Easy Baked Beans
Linda Ornelas
Walla Walla, WA
 
2 cans, 15 oz, butter beans--drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup brown sugar -- tightly packed
1/2 cup ketchup
2 slices of bacon -- chopped
 
Mix the first four ingredients in a lightly greased casserole dish.
Sprinkle the bacon over the top of the beans.
Cook, uncovered, in a 350F degree oven for 1 1/2 hours.
 
Great for a potluck!




This is my cousin Linda's  4th  appearance in the  Countdown!
 
She was always going to make a cookbook--(she's a great cook), but now, when I am done with my challenge (in a gazillion years) she can just print off her own recipes from the blog and TA-DA!  Her cookbook will be done.
 
In this photo below (with her daughter Jenn) she looks just like her mother, my aunt.
When I first saw the picture, I was really taken aback.
 
But this is supposed to be a story or fun fact about the owner of the recipe here, so.....
 
Fun fact about my cousin Linda:
A few years ago while we were talking, she said that our grandmother and made chili every Christmas Eve for supper.
 
I smiled politely....because ...UM NO, SHE DID NOT. Not my grandmother.
I had never had chili on Christmas eve.  How silly is that?  And I was wondering why Linda was making stuff up?  Or maybe she had her confused with her Granny.
So, I asked my dad.... what did Grandmother make for dinner on Christmas Eve?
He said..... Chili.
 
My mom and I were like "WHA..????
We can't ever remember having chili on Christmas Eve.
 
But.... I guess that Linda is not delusional after all!
Good thing. 
~laughing~
 
Really tho, Linda and my dad grew up together, as my dad was only 6 years older than my cousin.  AND she lived with them, so they do remember having chili on Christmas Eve.
What a great tradition my grandmother had---at least until I was born.
 
The good cook gene was passed down
My Grandmother
My Aunt
My cousin Linda.
and...?  Maybe her daughter Jenn?






Friday, August 14, 2015

Friday Friend Appendix #6 -- Grilled Apple Salad



For the 3 of you who read this blog, you will remember that I have a homemade cookbook, which we will call The Friday Friend Cookbook, complete with recipes sent in by my good friends, far and near.  I call them the Friday Friends.

And I am in the process of making every single recipe in that cookbook and blogging about it  (See that here) and then talking mostly about my friends, and not so much about the recipe, because, let's face it--I like them a lot!
Anyway,  this recipe should have been in that cookbook, but wasn't.
 

I am adding this as an appendix to the "official Friday Friend  Cookbook"
(much to the chagrin of the publisher/typer upper Barbara Brown)
(she's afraid I'm going to make her type up a whole new cookbook.  Volume #2! )


(those recipes which should have been in the Friday Friend Cookbook, but weren't)

Deb E's Grilled Apple Salad




Those are apples that have been marinated in a balsamic vinegar marinade and then grilled in a grill pan..(they look kind of like peaches in the pictures to me)
It was supposed to be a 'white' balsamic vinegar, but I didn't have that, I only had a red one, so that's what I used, so the apples have a 'tint' to them.  But they were really good!

Apples combine really well with bleu cheese and walnuts -- grilling them was just a plus!


 
Grilled Apple Salad
FF Debbie  Engstrom
Winnemucca, NV
 
6 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar (I used red)
1/4 cup minced cilantro
2 tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili sauce
1 garlic clove--minced
2 large apples cut in wedges
1 pkg spring mix salad
1 cup walnut halves
1/2 cup bleu cheese, crumbled
 
Combine the 1st 8 ingredients. 
Marinate the apple wedges in 1/4 cup for 10 minutes in the fridge.
Grill apples. 
Add to remaining ingredients --  toss with leftover marinade mix.



Hello for the 12th time Debbie E!
Those twelve times in the blog include, Friday Friend Cookbook Countdown, FF Appendix and Cooking Club.
 
 
Fun fact?
She is the 6th of 8 children.
Her husband is an only child.
They compromised and had 4.
And I think they were only planning on 3, but had surprise twins!
 
Poor Charlie!  His life was never the same.





I am linking this up to Weekend Cooking at
 


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Friday Friend Recipe #67 -- Asian Broccoli Salad



Friday Friend Recipe #67: Asian Broccoli Salad

Making my way thru my Friday Friend Cookbook, one recipe at a time.
What is the Friday Friend cookbook: I have about 50 of my closest friends and family on an e-mail forum which I called the Friday Friends (from all over the county). At first, most of them didn't know each other, (they knew me) but over the past 15 years, we've answered and shared silly--and serious---questions, exchanged Secret Santa Christmas gifts, had a dieting contest in which we paid a $1 a week and that money went to a scholarship fund for a Friday Friends son's memorial scholarship, and we went on a great vacation for my 52 birthday.

AND, we contributed recipes for a cookbook.

I was looking at the cookbook the other night and I said, "I should make every recipe in here for my blog."
The Handyman--who knows me better than I know myself (this happened to be a question on the Friday Friend forum once---does your spouse/partner know you better than you know yourself?)--said,  "you'll never, EVER do that."

WELL---maybe I'll show him!  Maybe I will.

Which brings me to this... recipe #67

Barb's
Asian Broccoli Salad





I had the best day making this salad.  I made 5 things out of the Friday Friend Cookbook that day.
It was a complete Friday Friend supper!
A couple of these pictures were taken after the salad sat in the dressing for a bit.  The color changed, but not the crisp-tender of the broccoli.

There are so many Broccoli salads out there (just wait! More to come in the countdown) and I think they are all good.
This one is particularly easy.




Asain Broccoli Salad
Barbara Brown
Buckeye, AZ

Steam broccoli until crisp-tender.  Toss with sliced water chestnuts and the following dressing:

1 T brown sugar
1 t soy sauce
1/2 t sesame oil
4 oz rice vinegar
1 oz canola oil
1/4 t black pepper
(dressing is also good on green salad)




The Handyman is not fond of textures.
I mean.... for instance, in a fruit salad, he doesn't like bananas and apples to be in the same bite.
That's how he feels about water chestnuts.  He doesn't like them because they crunch. 
But this time the broccoli was crispy/tender so it was okay!
This would be a great one for a Potluck.
It's quick and easy to make and like Barb says,  the dressing is delish!



This is my funny fact about Barb today:
She thinks it's fun to diet.
You heard me.  She makes a game out of it.  And she loves all things game!
She once said these words to me:
It's been so much fun trying to find good recipes on this plan.

She had a great time cooking diet food!


This is Barb's 16th recipe in the countdown.

And this is my 67th one I've tested and tried!



Monday, August 10, 2015

This and That -- A Man and his tools


A month ago, I had to yell at the Handyman.
Yes--yell at him.
He was trimming branches and fell off a ladder in our front yard.
He didn't tell me, until I noticed him wincing while he was doing other stuff and then he fessed up.
He wouldn't go to the doctor to get checked out, said he was fine and then, not 30 minutes later-- I saw him out in the back doing this!!!
(he had a chain saw in his hand)




He is on a rocky hill!
With a chainsaw, without a spotter.
Why wouldn't I have  yelled at him?
Perhaps 'yell' is a strong word.
I just talked loudly in a very concerned voice.

Our yard goes like this:

(our grandson Eli standing in a downpour--on a dare from me)


It's a steeper incline than it looks.
He had no business on a ladder on the rocks.

So, on Sunday, he was so happy to have some 'chainsaw' time in his own backyard!
Sans the ladder.
He cut some limbs off a tree.
He looks like a man on a mission!  


He's a trimmer... a hacker.... a cutter. 
It always starts out in the spring, baron and so desert looking, that I can't bear to have him trim anything and then by late summer even I cant' stand it and I'm begging him to trim things!







He looks so happy with himself.