Monday, May 4, 2015
When Jill and Brent were little, Randy's mom, Marie, made them a finger play glove and several verses. I took them to Topeka, where a second generation can enjoy these handmade, interactive stories.
Friday, May 1, 2015
But this Cream of Coconut Cake had good reviews at a church potluck dinner last weekend. And, since my husband is a coconut fan, it also got good reviews for leftovers consumed at home.
When people ask for a recipe, I always feel a little guilty when it starts with a cake mix. But this one is doctored up with some extras, like pudding and coconut. And who can really argue with easy?
It's essentially a poke cake: When it comes out of the oven, you use a fork and jab it like a maniac on one of those detective TV shows. Then, for even more subtle coconut flavor, pour cream of coconut over the cake. Cream of coconut can be found where you'd find ingredients for mixed drinks. It doesn't have any alcohol. It just has the tropical flavor. A word to the wise: This isn't coconut milk, so keep looking if that's what you find. It's a syrupy concoction that oozes over the cake and gives it delicious moistness. The bottle I found was 21 ounces, but this isn't an exact science. Don't make yourself crazy looking for that exact amount. If it's an ounce more or less, it's still going to work just fine.
Once the cake has completely cooled, top it with Cool Whip. Or make your own sweetened whipped cream from scratch if you're feeling all virtuous. (I wasn't.) Sprinkle with toasted coconut to make it pretty and add a little more flavor and texture.
So, whether for Cinco de Mayo or for a church potluck or to satisfy your coconut craving, this recipe will be the "cream" of the crop.
Cream of Coconut Cake1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 pkg. French vanilla pudding mix
1/4 cup oil
1 1/3 cups water
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 21-oz. bottle of cream of coconut (not coconut milk)
1 tub Cool Whip
1 cup coconut, toasted
In a mixer, combine eggs, oil and water and blend until well mixed. Add cake mix and pudding mix. Blend until smooth. Add flaked coconut. Pour into 9- by 13-inch pan which has been sprayed with baking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven. Using a fork, poke holes all over the cake. Pour the cream of coconut over the cake. Put in the refrigerator to cool. When the cake is fully cool, spread Cool Whip over the cake. Sprinkle with toasted coconut to garnish.
Keep refrigerated until serving and refrigerate all leftovers.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
With a call that's been described as sounding "like a rusty farm gate," the symphony of my Blackbird Ballet may not have Tschaikovsky's staying power in the classical music world. But it is certainly a colorful dance and fortissimo musical rendition.
The past few mornings, the treetops in my front yard have been filled with yellow-headed blackbirds. I was a little afraid I'd landed in a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds." I saw that movie when I was in elementary school. It may be why I've never liked horror films. Thankfully, they weren't dive-bombing me like in the movie. But they sure raised a racket.
They are evidently camera shy like me. They kept to the tippy-top of the trees, singing their little hearts out in a cacophony of noise. They swooped from one branch to branch and tree to tree in a bird-like ballet.
Kansas Wetlands Education Center at Cheyenne Bottoms, said they migrate to Kansas in mid-April and leave for the winter in September. Before pairing off and rearing young, they gather in big flocks and often feed at cattle yards. They nest in the cattails at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and Cheyenne Bottoms.
"We have great flocks of them here at the Bottoms, so many they look like dandelions in the fields."I wish I'd thought of that poetic description!
As I've said before, I don't have a fancy camera, so it's hard to get portraits of my winged friends. While I was pointing my camera up to the treetops, I noticed another visitor on a line nearer to the ground. I snapped a photo and also sent it to Pam for identification
Pam says, "In Ohio, it was considered good luck to have them next to your barn!"
As good educators do, Pam prompted me to do a little research on my own.
"If swallows nested in farm buildings, it meant well-being and good fortune for the owners. People believed that the presence of these birds protected farm animals from diseases and curses and buildings from fires."
From Spring Alive
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Randy initially started planting April 11, but we got rain that night and the next day, totaling 1.50 inches. Then, we got another 3.10 inches here at home on April 16 and 17. A week later, April 23, a couple of fields had dried out enough to plant more. But when Randy about got the tractor and planter stuck after moving to another field, he took another hiatus. He started again yesterday (April 28). And, just so there is no question, I'm definitely not complaining about getting rain. I know some parts of the state got little to none.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Thankfully, my favorite farmer assigned me the job where I didn't need a flotation device. I do need to invest in a pair of waterproof boots. (On second thought, maybe the lack thereof led to my plum post. So maybe I'll just keep my ruined tennis shoes handy.)
Monday, April 27, 2015
Whether it's sunrise or sunset or the blue expanse dotted with the marshmallow puff clouds of spring, I love sky watching.
|Sunset, April 19, 2015|
|Zenith branch of the Kanza Co-op (HDR photo treatment), April 24, 2015|
I saved a devotional that arrived in my in-box last week from Guideposts. These photos seemed made to illustrate it.
|April 24, 2015, Stafford/Reno County line, looking east|
God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31
|April 24, 2015, Stafford/Reno County line, looking northwest|
A Time to Act
Look at the world with a vision magnified by the power of faith deep within you.
|Sunset, April 19, 2015|
A Time to Pray
Father, today I resolve to be a good steward of our world.
Friday, April 24, 2015
So imagine my surprise when I saw an article about food trends in The Wall Street Journal. Using Brussels sprouts raw in a salad was one of the food trends pictured in a photo accompanying Sarah Nassauer's article, Here Today, Kale Tomorrow: The Arc of a Food Fad.
And, lo and behold, I had Brussels sprouts in the fridge, ready to use raw in a salad recipe I found on Iowa Girl Eats.
Food trends typically advance in predictable stages. New culinary fashions often appear first in a creative chef's kitchen, at an ethnic restaurant or are invented by the eccentric owner of a small food company. ... Foods like acai, kimchi, kale, coconut sugar, sprouted grains and fancy burgers first became popular this way. In the early stage, almost anything can get a day in the sun. Cricket flour is now being pitched by a handful of small companies as cheap protein. ...OK, let's not get crazy now. There will be no cricket flour in the County Line kitchen. But Brussels sprouts? I can get trendy for those!
The fresh taste of the Brussels sprouts is enhanced with salty crumbled bacon and almonds. Red apple and dried cranberries add just the right hint of sweetness. And a homemade warm bacon vinaigrette dressing brings it all together.
This time, I served it with teriyaki-glazed salmon and cheese grits. Yummy! The fresh salad was definitely better than the leftovers, so if you can, just make enough for one meal.
Fresh Brussels Sprouts Salad
(with apples, almonds & bacon)
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats4 slices bacon, reserving fat
Olive oil, if needed
1 tbsp. shallots(or substitute sweet onions)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (or white balsamic)
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
8 oz. Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
1/4 cup whole salted almonds, roughly chopped
1 red, tart apple (like Jonathan, McIntosh or Pink Lady)
2-3 tbsp. dried cranberries
Cook bacon until crisp in large skillet over medium heat. Remove to paper towel to drain. Reserve 3 tablespoons bacon grease in skillet, adding extra virgin olive oil if there's not enough. To the bacon grease over medium heat, add shallots and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and whisk in vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. Return skillet to heat and whisk until ingredients are combined, about 30 seconds. Again, remove from heat.
Using a grating blade attachment on a food processor, slice trimmed Brussels sprouts very thin. Put in a large bowl. Crumble cooled bacon. Add to Brussels sprouts, along with chopped almonds, apple and dried cranberries. Pour dressing over the salad. Mix and serve immediately.