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Saturday, May 4, 2024

Book Review: Corduroy by Ruth Comfort Mitchell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars (worth a read but not a reread) I don't normally read romances, other than the Regency variety, but because I'd picked this up on Project Gutenberg, I didn't know it was a romance--they can be chary of detail sometimes. By the time I'd figured that out, I was invested in the characters and the plot.

It's mostly set in California just after the First World War. Half Scottish and half Spanish, Ginger, practically born in the saddle, is the sole proprietor of a large cattle ranch. Dean is a proper Bostonian who is more into mental activities. They meet because he and Ginger's brother were buddies in the war and he was there when her brother died. Once he's partly recovered from his own wounds, he travels across the country to deliver her brother's last message.

Throw in the local Spanish rancher who's always planned to marry Ginger, Dean's lack of interest in the great outdoors and Ginger's lack of culture, and I'm sure you can see where this is going. But getting there is half the fun. If you enjoy romance in a western setting, it's worth a read.

Monday, April 29, 2024

Strawberry Snow Pudding

 My mother-in-law used to make a dessert called lemon snow which involved unflavoured gelatin, lemons, sugar, egg whites and lots of elbow grease. My husband loves it, so I tried to make it. Once. While it came out edible, it did not come out right. So when I saw this recipe in Royal Fruit Gelatin Suggestions, published in 1926 by the Royal Baking Powder Company, I thought it looked much easier and I’d give it a try.

It is much easier, and chances are you have the ingredients in your house already. Apparently Royal Gelatin still exists, though I’ve never seen it. I’ve made this twice, once with grape Jell-o jelly powder, once with cherry store-brand generic. Both worked fine. The original recipe called for sugar but I took that out as packaged jelly powder these days generally comes with it already added.

 

1 package strawberry-flavoured jelly powder

1 cup boiling water

½ cup cold water

2 egg whites

 

Dissolve Royal Strawberry Gelatin and sugar in boiling water. Add cold water and chill until mixture begins to thicken. When almost set, whip with egg beater (Hah! Haven’t owned one of those useless implements for years. I used a hand whisk instead). When light and frothy, add egg whites beaten stiff. Continue to beat until mixture holds shape. Pile into sherbet glasses or place in moulds and chill. Serve with custard sauce. Serves 8.

My MIL’s recipe was also served with custard sauce. I suspect it’s because it uses up the two egg yolks rather than any special affinity for gelatin and custard. I didn’t bother making the custard sauce but will probably turn the egg yolks into custard later for a separate dessert.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Book Review: Lord Peter Views the Body by Dorothy Sayers

Another gem found on Project Gutenberg. I rated it 4 stars on Goodreads because 3.5 wasn't an option

I enjoyed this collection of short stories featuring Sayer's rich aristocrat/amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey. There was quite a selection of plots, from a really ingenious ghost story to a treasure hunt, blackmail, jewel theft, murder (of course), odd wills (three different stories), spies, and even a criminal secret society. If you don't like horror (I don't), skip the first story. The rest are fine.

These were obviously all written before Lord Peter developed a social conscience, and I actually like him better this way. Some of the stories I did figure out before I got to the end (yay, me!) but I have to admit the crossword puzzle one left me clueless. Fortunately, the answers are in the back of the book.



Monday, April 15, 2024

Book Review: Four Girls of Forty Years Ago by Nina Rhoades

Seems I can post book reviews I do on Goodreads here as well, so why not?

I gave this children's story five stars. That means I think it's worth telling other people about and worth rereading.

This was really good! I think that younger fans of Anne of Green Gables would like it.

While the four girls aren't technically orphans, with their mother dead, their father working far away, and the fact that they're living with a step-grandmother who's not fond of children, this does feel like that kind of book.

Dulcie, the oldest, is an avid reader and teller of tales, and believes that the fictional stories she reads reflect real life. This is forever getting them into trouble, for example, when they decide a young girl they see on the street is a stolen child and needs to be restored to her rightful family. While they often go astray, their hearts are in the right place.

For those who are concerned about political correctness, there is one character in the book (not one of the girls) who firmly believes that the higher class you are, the better person. And there is an unflattering description of the home of an Irish family living in poverty, though the family itself is portrayed as loving. And a fistfight between two boys, if that sort of thing bothers you. All perfectly normal for the period in which the book was written.

Product Review: Giovanni Rana Fettucine Mushroom Sauce with Mild Italian Sausage Meal Kit

Saw this in Walmart’s fresh food section the other day and it sounded good, so I picked up a package. By the heft of it, I thought it would abundantly feed the two of us, so the eight bucks plus sticker price wasn’t too outlandish.

When I opened the outer wrap to prepare dinner, I found a very large microwaveable container, a package of fresh pasta, and a package of sauce. Fresh pasta, eh? That did make the sticker price sound better.

I spread the pasta out in the dish as instructed and shook up the sauce package, then poured it over. Looked and smelled like Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, but I like Campbells. The dish, however, wasn’t even half full. I started to have doubts as to whether it would feed both of us. Maybe it would expand on cooking? Nope.

Did cook perfectly fine in the microwave, however (I did it for 6 minutes since I’m not fond of al dente). Tasted quite good, too, more like something you’d get in a restaurant. As for servings, while the website claims the package makes 2.5 portions, I’d say 2 would be more realistic, and then only if you were serving it as a side dish, with perhaps bread and salad. And dessert, of course. Or wiener schnitzel. It would be awesome with that.

I was disappointed that other than the microwaveable container, none of the packaging was recyclable. That seems to be more and more common these days and I don't understand why.

 

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Coconut Sour Cream Drop Cookies

Here’s another variant on the Sour Cream Drop Cookie recipe from the Betty Crocker Picture Cooky Book. I actually made it several weeks ago, but life got in the way.

Just for fun, I made it with banana yogurt rather than sour cream, thinking banana would go well with coconut. However, you could only taste the banana if you already knew it was there. Not a wasted experiment, though, as I now know yogurt can be substituted for sour cream, if that’s what you’ve got in the house.


½ cup shortening

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream* (half a 500 ml tub)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup shredded coconut

2 ¾ cups flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

 

Cream together shortening and sugar. Add eggs. Stir in sour cream and vanilla. Stir in coconut.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir into shortening mixture. Chill at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 425⁰F. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes until delicately brown.

Makes about 5 dozen.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Granola

With the price of everything, including breakfast cereal, sky high these days, I decided to pull out my old recipe for homemade granola. Making your own is easy, cheaper than store-bought, and you know what’s in it. Don’t like raisins? Allergic to nuts? No problem. Use your own add-ins. I like dark chocolate curls and banana chips.

 

6 cups quick cook oats

6 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

3 ounces vegetable oil (coconut gives a nice flavour if you happen to have any on hand)

2/3 cup water

Add-ins (optional) such as raisins, almonds, dried pineapple…


Combine oatmeal, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir in vegetable oil and water. Spread thinly on one or two cookie sheets (the ones with sides, not the flat ones) and dry in a 225⁰F oven for two hours. Stir in desired add-ins.