In the Fall

In the Fall

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Chocolate Eclair Cake

My family always loved Chocolate Eclairs.  They were a pain to make because you had to fill each eclair with pudding and then frost them.  The little frozen ones in the grocery store are good, but they didn't have those back when my kids were small.  One day I came across this recipe for Chocolate Eclair Cake in a cookbook.  I think it was in the late 1970's or early 1980's.  The first time I made it, it was a complete success.  It is very easy to put together and tastes just like the individual eclairs.  I have made this recipe many times over the years.

Chocolate Eclair Cake

1 cup flour
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/4 t. salt
1 cup water
4 eggs (room temperature is best)
2 packages instant vanilla pudding
2 1/2 cups cold milk
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
12 ounce whipped topping (Cool Whip)
3 oz. chocolate chips
2 T. butter
1 cup powdered sugar
3-4 T. milk

Bring water and butter to a boil until all the butter is melted.
All at once add flour and salt; beat until mixture forms a ball that leaves the sides of the saucepan;
cool slightly.  Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.  Spread mixture onto a ungreased jelly roll pan (15 x 10 x 1).  Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.  Remove from oven.  It will be puffy so pierce the bubbles with fork while hot.  Cool completely.

*Beat the softened cream cheese with the milk, then add the instant pudding and beat according to the pudding directions.  
Spread on the cooled crust.  Follow with the whipped topping.  Then melt the chocolate chips with the butter over low heat, mix with the powdered sugar and milk until you have a thin glaze.  Drizzle the chocolate glaze over the whipped topping.  Refrigerate for a least an hour.  Cut into squares to serve.

*Hint:  Mixing the cream cheese with milk and instant pudding works really well in a cream pie.  I cut up bananas in the pudding and put it in a pre-baked pie crust.  It sets up and cuts so much better.  I learned to do this after I took a pie to work for a treat.  My boss Dan liked banana cream pies.  When we cut it, it ran all over.  You needed a straw to eat the pie.  After that experience I figured out how to do a better job.  This method always works.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pelican or Whooping Crane...You Decide

For all who know me or have read my blog,  know how fascinated I am with the Whooping Crane.  I have written about them many times.  I follow their migration every year from Wisconsin to Florida.  I have seen them in person following the ultralight aircraft, but I have never seen them out on their own in the wild.

Yesterday I thought that had changed.  I was sitting outside at our daughters new house with Piper the grand dog.  My husband was busy finishing up a drywall project he was helping them with.  My dad was along and sitting in the living room listening to a book.  The weather was so perfect.  I looked up and saw some beautiful white birds flying around overhead.  I tried to take some photos.  They were quite high, and I thought they were probably sandhill cranes.  The sandhill cranes have become quite light in color this time of year.  In the summer the sandhill cranes are a rusty color which they apply to themselves with sand.  When I got home, I put the photos on the computer.  I got so excited, I thought the photos looked like Whooping Cranes.  A week or so previous, five Whooping Cranes from the Class of 2013 were spotted in Fond du lac county Wisconsin.  I was just a few miles from the county line.  Here are some of the photos I took. 

I wanted to be sure so I sent my photos to Operation Migration.  They told me they were NOT whooping cranes.  They were white Pelicans.  Now I'm not a professional, and I haven't devoted my life to stop the extinction of the whooping crane....but these don't look like pelicans to me.  I have seen tons of pelicans in our area.  They are white, and they do have black on their wings, but they have a much different head.  Pelicans don't have a long neck.

 So I don't want to question the professionals or be a sassy old lady, but I choose to think I saw five whooping cranes. Does believing hard enough make it true?  It works for Santa.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Trick or Treating Afternoon

Although Halloween is several days away, the local communities held trick or treat this afternoon.  It was a warm and sunny day.  It was perfect day for the kids and adults to roam the streets going door to door.  I walked along again this year.  A lot of adults dressed up.  Some were a little inappropriate, but I'm old with low tolerance.  I would have taken pictures but I didn't want to be yelled at.

This is Ewan, our youngest grandson.  He is four and his favorite movie is "The Princess Bride".  He wanted to be Wesley and was very put out if you called him a ninja or Zorro.  He mostly says "As you wish".  He did learn to say son of a B....from watching the movie several times,  but that was corrected very quickly.  His mustache didn't stay on very long because it tickled and made his eyes water. 

For school he was Clark Kent reporter.

The second to youngest grandson is Jack.  Jack is six.  He wanted to be Abraham Lincoln.  He was very serious about being the 16th president of the United States.  He even quoted  "four score and seven years ago" to people from Lincoln's famous speech.  When ever I tried to take his picture he would hold his lapels as if to speak with conviction.

Here is a picture of his speaking with conviction or preaching fire and brimstone.

Next is Sam.  Sam is ten.  He had to tell me what he dressed up to be.  I'm not familiar with comic book characters or super heroes.  I think he's a tree or a plant.  I think he said he is Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy, but don't quote me.  Sam has told me from the time he was small that he wants to write and direct movies like Star Wars.  Who knows, time will tell.

Then there was Dylan.  Dylan wanted to be a Rocket Man.  Thank goodness his other grandma is so clever and figured out how to make that happen.  His mom was out of town, but got back in time for the fun.  I didn't know what to do.  I didn't have any appropriate supplies.  I think they did an amazing and wonderful job.  I don't know where the Rocket Man idea came from, but I imagine it was from the same source as Sam.  It was either a movie, comic book or book of some sort.  A fun time because he is now old enough to go trick or treating with his cousin and friend. 

People go beyond the call of duty.  This was the most amazing house we saw.  The theme was the Wizard of Oz which is another one of Ewan's favorite movies.  They had the whole side of the house made into a big tornado with a house.  The people handing out candy were dressed as witches.  The sidewalk up to the house was lined with poppies, and they were playing Somewhere over the Rainbow. 

Witches handing out candy.

Poppies lined the sidewalk.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Unique Craft Sale Purchases

I went to a craft sale last weekend and love what I bought.  I am always amazed at the talent some people have.  Dylan's other Grandmother has a yearly sale, and I am always surprised how she comes up with different unique ideas.  My purchases included a bowl made out of a rhubarb leaf.  She uses a mixture of  Portland cement, sand and a conditioner and mixes it together with water.  Then somehow uses the leaf as a form.  When it is dry, the finished product looks like the leaf.  It is painted and sealed.  I will use it indoors for a bowl, but it can also be used as a bird bath or other outside decoration.

I also bought a smaller one to display with my other fall decorations.  This one is made from a Grape leaf.  She had some made from a Hosta leaf and a Canna Lily leaf.  She said next Spring she would show me the process.  I am looking forward to seeing how this is done.  If I am still blogging in the Spring, I will share the technique.  If you want to see more of what she makes check out her Facebook page.

I asked her about where I could get some bittersweet, and I was given a big bunch and a couple plants.  I hope they grow.  I put some sprigs in my pine cone wreath.  I haven't decided what to do with the rest yet, but I think it is beautiful.  It was a very nice thing for her to do.  Maybe next year I will be harvesting my own bittersweet. 

I bought this saying she painted on canvas too.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Someone Is Duck Hunting

Today turned out to be a very nice fall day in spite of the rainy, foggy conditions of yesterday and this morning.  We had a strange thing happen yesterday about dinner time.  The door bell rang, and it was a policeman.  He was wondering if I had heard gun shots.  I was outside earlier and the geese were being very loud.  They were coming in for a landing in large numbers.  Suddenly I heard a very loud gun shot.  The geese became totally silent.  Then in a few minutes they started honking again.  Apparently someone was duck hunting nearby.  Most of our land is in the city and hunting isn't allowed.  The police asked a few questions about property lines.  I think he figured out quickly that we weren't the ones doing the hunting and that we wanted to protect the ducks, geese and Sandhill cranes.  He told me to keep an eye out for anyone who was illegally hunting.

Geese at dusk.  They land in large numbers the darker it gets.  You can hear them honking into the night.

Other than that incident, I enjoyed the day.   Also I was happy to discover who was eating my outside decorations.  I have lost several small pumpkins and a couple cobs of corn.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

"D" is for Drugstore

This is my 500th blog.  I wanted to write something about the number 500.  I couldn't think of a thing.  I have never been to the Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500.  My parents used to play the card game 500 and wanted my sister and me to play in the worst way.  Neither of us ever enjoyed playing card games.  She wanted to read, and I wanted to knit.  500 is how old Noah was when he had children, but I have nothing in common with that.  The Roman Numeral letter for 500 is "D".  D could stand for a lot of things.  One of them is Drugstore.   How is that for only two degrees of separation from 500 to Drugstore.

Last Saturday we went to Rosholt, Wisconsin.  It is a small town in Central Wisconsin.  Our middle grandchild Sam was playing a youth football game there.  The interesting part is that my husband Mike spent many many hours in this town when he was young.  His uncle owned a DRUGSTORE in this town.  They also owned the home next door to the pharmacy.  He has a lot of fond memories traveling with his parents and brother and staying with their aunt, uncle and cousins several times every year.  During the summer visits his brother would work at the county fair. When Mike got older he too became a temporary Carnie.  It was a special time and place.  So after the game, we went downtown to see if we could find the old drugstore and house.  We did.  The pharmacy is now an antique store called Jackson and Louie's.  We went in and talked to the owner.  She didn't know much about the previous owners so we told her about how the building used to be a drugstore many years ago. 

A Vintage and Antique Store in Rosholt, Wisconsin

We wanted to go into the house.  The house is now a Pizza place and Brewery.  The antique owner said the pizza is wonderful.  We were too early, and the place wasn't open yet.  Apparently the house has been remodeled except for the original staircase.  My husband wants to see it so we will be returning someday, even though pizza is not my favorite food.

Pizza parlor and Brewery.

We drove up into the sight of the County Fair.  My husband said it hadn't changed that much in 57 years.

Beautiful fall view from the Rosholt park.

The best part of the day was yet to come although we enjoyed Sam's football game too.  As we were leaving town I heard from Mike's cousin's daughter.  Although we have never met in person, she is a Facebook friend.  I had messaged her with a question about the pharmacy.  She told us to stop and see her dad and mom.  He was one of my husband's cousins who he spent family time with.  He was also a pharmacist who continued the pharmacy in Rosholt after his father retired.  He had moved the store across the street.  So on the way home, we had a much over do visit with Mike's cousin.  It was so nice.  I don't know why people get so caught up in life that we fail to contact people who were so important in our lives and memories, or maybe it makes these impromptu meetings more special.  You don't have to see someone everyday to have a connection.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Make Your Own English Muffins

It was time to make bread again.  I have been making the same kind for a very long time, so I decided to try something different.  We only use bread for toast in the morning and a sandwich once in a while.   Since English muffins are meant to be toasted, I decided to make English muffins.  It was easy, and they turned out pretty well.  I buy bulk yeast, and I think it has lost some of it potency.  The English muffins didn't rise quite as high as I had hoped, but still acceptable.  They are made in a mixer.

English Muffins

1 cup hot water
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons honey (we get unfiltered honey from local bees)
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 Tablespoons softened butter

In your mixer, mix together water, milk, honey and salt
Add 2 cups of flour and the yeast.
Mix until you have a soft batter.

Cover the bowl and let it rise for an hour or so.

Add the butter and the rest of the flour.  Mix until well blended.
Roll out dough about 1/2 inch thick on a floured surface and cut into circles.  Let these circles rise until doubled.
Then cook on a buttered electric griddle set at 350 degrees.

When brown flip over and cook the other side.

I wasn't sure the center was done this way, so I put them on a cookie sheet and baked in the oven at 350 degrees
for 15 more minutes.  It seemed to work fine.  Perhaps not using the griddle and baking in the oven for twenty minutes or so on a greased cookie sheet would do the same thing. 

The honey we get.