Monday, May 30, 2011

French Toast Casserole

This past week I had my sister Becky and her family visiting while they toured our nation's Capital. For breakfast one morning, I made Paula Deen's Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup. I found the recipe at:

First you place 20 slices of French Bread (about 1 inch each) in two rows (over lapping) in a 9x13 well-buttered baking dish.

Next you mix: 8 large eggs, 2 cups of half-and-half, 1 cup of milk, 2 tblspn. of granulated sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg, and a dash of salt. Pour this mixture over the bread slices, being careful to cover all parts of the bread slices (including in between). Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning mix together: 1/2 pound of butter, 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 cup of chopped pecans, 2 tblspn. of light corn syrup, 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg. Spread this mixture evenly over the bread.

Bake in a 350 degree, preheated oven, for 40 minutes, or until puffed and lightly golden.

Serve hot from the oven, with maple syrup. Delicious!

This casserole was very good, although it was a tad too sweet for me. I think when I make it again, I'll cut the brown sugar in half.


Friday, May 20, 2011

How Does My Garden Grow????

I mentioned in an earlier post that I've planted a garden this year...the first time since 2006. It wouldn't be an unusual conclusion to reach, that perhaps my 2006 garden was such a dismal failure, that I lost interest in gardening. I never did embrace "Try, try again" in a big way.

But, I got the gardening bug this year, so I set up square foot gardening boxes: two on my deck, and one out in the yard.

It's been a little over two weeks since I planted the gardens. Here is the box with the cucumbers and onions. I'm going to trellis the cucumber vines when they get a little taller. The containers hold the sweet potato plants. I have a third container but it's a little sad looking, I didn't have a drain hole in the bottom of the container and they may have drowned...:(

Here are a couple of pictures of the other garden box on the deck. It is full of green beans, cucumbers, and a couple of hot pepper plants. The green beans are just taking over all the space. I've asked them to share, but they won't listen.

Here is the squash patch out in the yard. Seriously, I watched this patch of ground for 6 weeks and it was always sunny. Of course, the trees didn't have leaves on them. Now my squash leaves are turning yellow and screaming to me they don't even need sunblock, because there are so few sun rays hitting them.

Bill took matters into his own hands and starting cutting down branches to give the squash more sunlight. Too bad the trees are 40+ feet tall. No matter how many low branches he cuts, the upper branches are still blocking the sunlight.

These trees used to have branches all down the exposed side you now see.

Now, after getting rid of all the tree branches from the Bradford Pear tree, there is now half a tree in the backyard that has to be cut up and taken to the recycling center.

Hopefully the squash will get enough sunlight to produce something. Otherwise, I just might have found the reason for that dismal garden failure of 2006......

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Queen Cat's Domain Is Free Of Intruders....

I realize there are some Noncats out there who will boo-hoo over this picture. The Intruder Cat was really putting on her "Sad Face" when this pic was taken. Take it from me, she is just fine, all snug and safe in her new territory.

This last "Go Around" with the Intruder Cat was quite taxing. She came in with an attitude of disrespect, and kept it the whole time.

Everytime I think of this incident, my fur stands up in a mohawk, and my claws flex with fury. That little minuion will never be under estimated again...

But, enough of that business. I started thinking about my relationship with the small Noncat who frequents my territory.

She came to my rescue when the rest of my Noncats were no where to be found. I'm thinking that perhaps, on her next intrusion into my territory, I may interact with her, just to show my appreciation. I like to give credit, where credit is due...which isn't often with my group of Noncats.

The next day, I sat on the couch, next to the woman Noncat, and eavesdropped on her conversation. I heard that the small Noncat was due to intrude the territory the very next day. This time, instead of retreating to my under-the-bed bunker, I will stay available for some minor interaction with her. It will be frightful, but as The Queen Cat, I am frequently called upon to handle difficult tasks.

The next day, I put on my most queenly attitude, and prepared to grant audience to, who, in the past, has been the one Noncat I avoided at all costs. But after The Intruder Cat, this didn't seem like such big of a deal.

"Hi there, Queen Cat!" I can't believe you are letting me talk to you! Wanna play house? Wanna be the baby? Can I pet you? Can you sit on my lap? Can I carry you around? Can I put you in my doll stroller and take you for a walk? Want one of my lollipops? Well, Queen Cat, are you listening?"

"Thank you, small Noncat, for helping me out the other day. I didn't really need your help, but since you were there at the right time, it worked out that you opened the door for me. Oh, and NO, to all of your requests...I am tired now from all your chatter, and I'm going to go to the woman Noncat's room, and I'm going to take a cat nap.

"Hey small Noncat, before I retreat, to show my gratitude, I'll let you play dress-up with me. Only one item...and this is the only time it will ever happen..."

And with a hat upon my head...I drifted off to sleep. Dreaming of future battles with The Intruder Cat, and a world where all small Noncats were under subjection to the Queen Cat of their colony.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Last Week At My House

Last week was a very busy week for us. On Monday, Susan moved to her new home in Brooklyn Park. She is now only a 12 minute commute from her job, and very close to the university where she is working on her Master's Degree in Education.

Bill signed us up as tour guides for St. Mary's City. It is a volunteer position. On Tuesday we shadowed two guides during a tour. It was only 2 hours, and a normal tour is 4 to 5 hours. It seemed too much like a job to me, but Bill enjoyed it. I can't imagine walking around in the hot sun, trying to give interesting facts about an Indian longhouse, to a bunch of people who want to know where the gift shop is located. Now I feel sorry for every tour guide I've ever said that to....

I haven't planted a vegetable garden since 2006. This year I got the "gardening bug" and decided to try square foot gardening. I asked Bill if he could build me one box that I could place in a sunny spot on the deck.

The idea is: instead of planting in rows, you plant in a square foot plot. It's possible to get quite a yield of many different things with a 4x4 box. Bill built me a 2x4 box for the deck. Later that day, Julie was shopping at the amish market, and told me the plants were only $1.00 a piece. I told her to get me some green beans, yellow squash, onions, cucumbers and potatoes.

I should have specified how many plants to get. This is the huge load she brought to me...

So Bill built me a second box to plant the vegetables now there are two on the deck...

But that wasn't enough Bill built me a third box, this time a 4x4 sized box, out in the yard.

Even after all that I still handed a flat of cucumbers and some yellow squash over the fence to my neighbor. I also planted some of the potatoes in deep pots on the deck, so I'll see how those grow. Of course, I have my two standard tomato plants in a container on the deck too. If everything grows, I'll either be canning, selling on the side of the road, or gifting many friends.

For Mother's Day this year, Bill gifted me with a Kindle. It is such a wonder of technology! I ordered a current release book I wanted, and had it in 60 seconds! I also was undecided about a book, and downloaded a sample to see if I wanted it. I'm already on chapter 3 of the sample book, I don't know if that's a normal amount, but it's certainly a generous sample of a novel.

The green cover not only protects the Kindle, but also has a built in light that allows for reading in the dark.

Julie invited me to have lunch at her and Tommy's seafood restaurant on Mother's Day. I had all-you-can-eat snow crab legs and spiced shrimp. Yummy!

I was blessed by each of my children and my husband on this day. May the Lord show me each day, ways to bless the people around me.

Have a great day!