Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Puff pastry bravery

 Ok, this is a book review with pictures and surround smell.  I was given this book to review for Blogging for Books and as is my custom, when reviewing a cookbook I make something from it.  I love to bake and was excited to get this book.

 After reading through the whole thing looking for something I wanted to try, I decided to do something I never, ever, ever would do on my own.  Puff pastry.  Why would anyone make it themselves when there's a box of it in the freezer section at the grocery store?  I chose it for the challenge.  I also wanted to see if the technique is easily explained.  It was also the first step for many of the recipes in the book so you kind of have to do step one, the pastry, to make several other things. This is just the first step.  If you make puff pastry then you need to make something FROM the pastry.  I chose palmiers because I love them.  Around here they're called Dutch crisps.

There is a LOT of butter in puff pastry.  I knew that but when you see it lined up on the counter it made me read the recipe again to be sure. 

 Incorporating the butter involved some rolling on a well floured surface because in the beginning it's a very soft dough.  The punch mark in the lower left corner is there to tell me I was on my first fold over.  Now on the the cookie sheet to be chilled for 35 minutes.  There will be four of these rollout/foldovers with a 35 minute chill in between.  These chills helped firm up the butter again and the dough was easier to roll each time.

 How fun that you pour a cup of sugar on the counter for rolling the dough for palmiers! No flour, just sugar.

Roll then fold, fold, fold, fold so you have a log of folds held together with sugar.  

 At this point they can be frozen so while I baked six (self control at work here) I froze the rest.  What a great treat these will be in a couple of weeks!
Crispy, sweet, lightly caramelized, I have to say, puff pastry is a cinch to make and I won't run from it anymore.  I actually have some ideas.  A little cinnamon in the sugar?  Just a touch.  Some finely ground pecans rolled in there?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


It's Tuesday again and time for sharing stories.  Halloween is around the bend and so Halloween was the topic for the most part.

 This one was new to me and I liked it enough to buy it.  Yes, I really do still buy picture books. Grouch, Grump and little Gloom and Doom thought they were the worst monsters and constantly fought about that.  One day they decide to make the biggest, baddest monster of them all and with a little help of some thunder and lightning, they do.  But this monster's monster was hardly what they had in mind.

 Adelaide asked me to bring this one today. I can't even count how many times I've read this story.  The copy we had at school before I retired was practically worn out so I had to buy my own. The artwork is brilliant and everytime you'll find something you missed.  Our old man is a ghost who expects a perfect pumpkin pie and keeps coming back, grumpier every time, until he gets it.

 You must remember this cautionary poem. I explained that when something is good it never goes out of style or becomes irrelevant. Publishers don't keep printing books that don't sell.  If this tale has been around this long, it must be good.  It was first published in 1826 and so for 180-some years has warned children that flattery will get you nowhere.  Today we call it Stranger Danger. 
I asked "How do you wake up in the morning?  Alarm clock?  Mom or dad?"  This is the true story of Mary Smith, a "knocker-up" from England in the 1920's. It tells of people who were employed to wake people up.  Mary's technique was a pea shooter aimed for a window.  And then of course, I had to demonstrate how much farther a pea can travel if you use the straw instead of just spitting it out of your mouth.  I wasn't sure if teacher would appreciate my showing kids how to use a pea shooter (or spit ball shooter) and I'm quite sure moms and dads might be calling teacher, but the kids sure were impressed with how far a lil' ol' pea can go.  I also explained to them about dried peas and such.  Luckily we had the dried apple doll from last week still in their memory banks.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Whistling Women

Whistling Women by Kelly Romo

Addie lives in a nudist colony, her refuge and safe haven after an incident she instigated when just a teenager.  That incident changed her life,  the life of her sister and the lives of everyone in their world as she runs away, finally finding refuge in the nudist colony.

Now, 15 years later, the Sleepy Valley Nudist Colony residents are on their way to San Diego to be a part of the 1935 World’s Fair exhibitions.  But San Diego is where all the trouble started for Addie. She is reluctant to open those doors again.  Addie’s sister Wavey has been coping for the past 15 years with raising two daughters and the changes she was forced to make to keep Addie and her daughters safe.  Through happenstance one of Wavey’s daughters discovers she had an aunt she never knew about and the aunt lives as a nudist and she’s right there in San Diego.  Rumor is the spunkier of Wavey’s daughters and demands answers for their life.  You can see the collision coming.

While this all sounds like a downer story, it isn’t.  Set with the backdrop of the fair and the nudist colony’s beliefs and practices, and the plot twists in the story, I would confidently recommend this one.