Someday, this old school oven shall preside over the Damsel’s kitchen. From this angle, she can see no down side. Someday. Someday.
Anyone have any info on whether this exists in the real world, or is only found in old-fashioned dreams?
The Damsel in Dis Dress
The Damsel is pleased to have a writing buddy as a substitute teacher today: Christy Monson. Not only is she a brilliant writer, but she makes darn good English toffee–an old school Christmas treat indeed.
Now, some people think this stuff is tricky to make. Follow these instructions, and you’ll be a pro in no time.
Christy: Toffee is one of my favorite holiday candies. I like to make it because it’s fast and easy. It’s also fail-proof once you know how to do it. You can make it with or without nuts, depending on your taste and allergies. I love it with sliced almonds, but my favorite is fresh chopped walnuts. We have a walnut tree in our back yard. (The squirrel and I have a contest each fall to see who gets the nuts. When I get there first, he scolds me soundly.)
Here’s what you need: (good, basic stuff you’re likely to have around the kitchen)
Put the butter, sugar and water in a frying pan and turn the heat up high. Don’t turn it down. Stir the whole time. It takes about 10 – 15 minutes to make. Cook it until the color turns caramel. You can see little puffs of smoke coming from the caramel-colored bubbles. Take it off the heat and add the vanilla.
Pour the candy over the sliced almonds or chopped walnuts.
I have a marble slab that I pour the candy on, but you can use a cookie sheet set on a bread board. The candy gets so hot, I wouldn’t put the cookie sheet directly on Formica. It might burn through. If you want the candy covered with chocolate, sprinkle pieces on top while it’s hot and let it melt. Spread it out.
Cool, break it into pieces and enjoy.
Plan on making several batches. My kids can eat it faster than I can make it.
You can find Christy Monson:
Every Saturday at Prophets in Person for unique stories about the lives of pioneer prophets.
Daily at Connections for a quick daily thought or scripture to keep your day positive and peaceful.
Every Monday at Paper and Parchment for tips and quirky insights into the life of a crazy writer.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are some thoughts that are dear to the Damsel’s heart. Have a blessed Thanksgiving Day.
The Damsel noticed that with nose hairs.
Eight years ago, while taking chemotherapy, she lost all her hairs, nose and otherwise. Even the little tickly hairs inside her ears. She knew she’d miss her head hair, and oh, how she missed her eyelashes. But she never gave her nose hairs much thought.
Poor underappreciated nose hairs! The Damsel is very glad to have them back, and apologizes she never knew what they did for her until they were gone. The Damsel would rather not go into details, but let’s just say she didn’t know nose hairs slowed the effect of gravity on nasal drip.
The Damsel hopes none of you will have to go without nose hairs in order to appreciate them. She hopes you’ll simply take her word for it.
Of the many blessings (yes, there were blessings) the Damsel received through having cancer, this one is her favorite: Noticing The Little Things. She’ll never forget the words of her wise surgeon, a man who struck her as deeply content.
She asked him, back at the beginning of her treatment, “How can you keep so cheerful, when day after day you meet with people who are desperately ill, and many of your patients die?”
He replied, “I love my patients. They are people who have the light turned on. They are people who realize every new day is a gift. They see the world through different eyes than the rest of us. They inspire me to really notice and appreciate the little things.”
At that moment, the Damsel resolved to be one of those people. When she wakes up in the morning, she feels happy to see the sun shine through the window by her bed–a brand new day, as corny as that sounds. She has a little party in front of the bathroom mirror while she brushes her grown-back hair every morning. She reminds herself to notice how nice it feels to have a healthy body.
And she remembers now and then to be glad about nose hairs.
The Damsel begs your pardon for the lack of new content on the Old School.
She hopes you’ll understand…this past month has been a flurry, and the fulfillment of a life long dream. Her novel, Sudden Darkness, has been published and is now available. It’s actually on the shelf. She still can hardly believe this is happening!
It’s hard to express the emotions this brings. Almost, although not quite, like having a baby. So much labor, so much joy.
Here is the link to learn more about the book on Amazon: Sudden Darkness
The Damsel feels like celebrating, so she’s holding a giveaway for a free copy of her book, for followers of Old School. All you need to do is leave a comment saying what your flavor of follow-ship is. (Email, blog reader, facebook, etc.) So sorry, but the contest is limited to those with a US shipping address.
The giveaway will end Saturday morning, at which time a name will be drawn and announced here. May the odds be ever in your favor!
Here’s a rare pic of the Damsel herself at a book signing:
A very happy day indeed.
Pumpkin. So good.
In the olden days, October was a time to pull those last bits of harvest in and finally take a deep breath after the year’s hard work. The humble pumpkin has sort of become a symbol of all that, even now, when the most we have to do with a pumpkin is a yellowish-orange can or carving a jack-o-lantern or two. (Here’s how to make your own pumpkin puree)
There’s something about that smooth, orange yumminess, mixed with the spices of autumn–cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger–that make us feel cozy inside, whether it’s baked into pies, cookies, or whirled in a shake.
In that spirit, here’s a recipe for pumpkin spice scones. These are English-type scones. Baked flaky bites, just right for nibbling along with a cup of tea, rather than the raised-dough-deep-fried type you see in the Western U.S. Don’t be scared of the seemingly long list of ingredients. This recipe is a piece of cake. Well, scone.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (heaping) granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons half-and-half (The Damsel used milk and nothing bad happened)
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 425 deg. F. Put all the dry ingredients in your mixer and whirl them around. Add the chopped butter and let it go at it until the butter is incorporated and looks like coarse meal. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix just until everything is evenly orange.
Take the dough out of the mixer and form into a ball.
Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a 1-inch thick rectangle about 4 inches by 12 inches. Use a large knife to slice the dough making three equal portions.
Cut each of the portions in an X pattern (four pieces) so you end up with 12 triangular slices of dough. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until light brown. Place on wire rack to cool.
Now, just to be extra fancy, these scones have TWO types of icing/glazing. Just do it. Everything will be okay. Everything will be MORE than okay.
While the scones are cooling, make Icing #1.
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
Adjust this by adding milk or powdered sugar until the consistency is soft and spreadable, but not drippy. Now the hard part: wait until the scones are cool before glazing them with a pastry brush. The Damsel understands it’s hard to wait, but if they are still hot, the glaze will melt and drip. Not okay. While this firms, make Icing #2.
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch ground cloves
Mix all together. The Damsel had some of the Icing #1 left, put it right in and felt no sensation of sin. To make up for that she made the pinches of spice HEALTHY pinches. Icing #2 should be thinner so it will drizzle, so add a drop of milk if necessary.
Drizzle this over the scones in whatever way pleases you.
The original recipe had some ridiculous talk about waiting an hour before eating. Whuut.
Don’t forget to give some to the kitchen staff.
The Damsel recently came across this website: Neeman Tools. She loves everything about this, and especially its philosophy:
“It is a tragedy of the first magnitude that millions of people have ceased to use their hands as hands. Nature has bestowed upon us this great gift which is our hands. If the craze for machinery methods continues, it is highly likely that a time will come when we shall be so incapacitated and weak that we shall begin to curse ourselves for having forgotten the use of the living machines given to us by God.”
She hopes you enjoy it and most of all, that you are inspired by it.
There once was a video embedded on this spot, but since the video link broke and refuses to be repaired, here is the link to watch it: Handmade
The Damsel guarantees your satisfaction in making that extra click. So. Worth. It.
If you’ve ever experienced the traumatic experience of being out of this:
…you’ll be happy to know that you can easily make your own, from stuff you probably have in your cupboard.
Along with its rescue properties, homemade chocolate syrup is considerably cheaper. It’s less than half the price of the store-bought kind. And, if you’re one of the growing number of people trying to avoid high fructose corn syrup, here ya go. (Hershey’s is MOSTLY high fructose corn syrup, being the first ingredient, and the second ingredient is regular corn syrup.) You have the control. The rest of life may be crazy, but of this one thing, you are the Man. Or Woman.
You can also vary the sweetness (this recipe falls somewhere in the middle of syrup recipes out there) by increasing or decreasing the amount of sugar. Nothing bad will happen. (The Damsel hasn’t heard of people using less than 1 cup, though, so you’re on your own at that point.) You can also vary the amount of cocoa, and even the type, if you are a chocolate snob or like organic/free trade products.
Chocolate syrup is easy as kindergarten.
Mix: 3/4 cup cocoa powder (this gives a fairly “dark” chocolate flavor; use 1/2 cup if you prefer a more “milk” chocolate) and 1 cup plain white sugar in a sauce pan. Add 1 cup water and whisk as you bring to a boil. Continue boiling for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, depending on how thick you like your syrup. Let cool or start eating it at will.
Spoon over ice cream or stir into milk to make chocolate milk. Does the Damsel really need to tell you what to do with chocolate syrup?