Cathy’s Cookbook Corner (say that 3 times fast)

I’m sorry I haven’t posted much lately! I’ve been preoccupied. Actually, I’ve had my nose deeply embedded in 2 new cookbooks that have recently debuted. Then I headed to the kitchen. I’ll be posting some goodies here very shortly.

The first cookbook is Joy the Baker. The author is Joy Wilson, a young girl who couldn’t help but become a baker. Her dad had her baking with him when she was old enough to hold the rolling mat for him to roll out pie crusts and her mom was a cake decorator. She says, “Surrounded by all of that love, support, flour and butter, its no wonder I became a baker.” AMEN! Even though she hasn’t been “professionally” trained, all of that experience under her belt has served her well. She started a blog http://www.joythebaker.com in 2008 and was named the Best Baking Blog by Foodbuzz (another food blog). She also has podcasts. In her cookbook, she’s shared 12 really helpful hints for around the kitchen. Here’s a small sampling: In a pinch buttermilk, how to make your own brown sugar (who hasn’t been out of that when its most needed), anatomy of cake flour, reasons for sifting flour, cold vs. softened butter and how to make your own vanilla. There are over 200 pages of mouthwatering recipes,which include Vegan recipes. She’s more than just a baker. There are recipes for caramel corn and ice cream!! Of course there are cakes, muffins and cookies, cinnamon rolls and for the more adventurous; giant mint chocolate chip marshmallow cubes!! Now, I gotta to tell you, I’ve made marshmallows and they are NOT as daunting as they seem. I know, I know, “Cathy, I can go BUY a bag of marshmallows for $1.00!” (you need to read that with a whine). BUT!!  Just imagine the look of amazement and wonder on your kids’ faces when you tell them you MADE marshmallows!!!  After all, they think only God makes marshmallows!!!! Your friends and family members will be VERY impressed. Just sayin! There are pictures of the finished recipes (I’m thinking there’s a picture for every recipe but don’t hold me to it).  I bought and downloaded this cookbook from Amazon onto my Kindle app. Joy Wilson, in addition to being a baker, is also a photographer who used her own photography in her cookbook. She’s funny, she’s witty and to read her blog and cookbook, you’d think she was talking only with you. I would definitely suggest, if nothing else, that you check it out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

The second cookbook I’d like to recommend is The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Food from My Frontier. If you’re someone who likes/needs pictures as you cook, this is the book for you!! This cookbook is LOADED with step-by-step mouthwatering pictures! Ree Drummond, who is The Pioneer Woman, is also a homeschooling mom, blogger, writer, photographer and has done the photography for her cookbook as well. This is Ree’s second cookbook. That’s right, I’m on a first name basis with her. She’s also on the Food Network on Saturday mornings at 9:00 central time. Ree lives on a ranch in Oklahoma with her  husband, 4 kids, dogs, cats, cows, horses and other sundry critters. Her blog, http://www.thepioneerwoman.com, not only has recipes but a home and garden section, photography tips, give-aways (YEA!!!!), quizzes (don’t worry, they’re fun), as well as just musings about ranch life. It’s really pretty interesting; Tom and I have learned a few things. She also has periodic guest posts on homeschooling and photography. There’s literally a little bit of something for everyone. Back to the book. She and her family like their food with some spice. Don’t let that scare you away, just leave out the hot stuff (I admit I reduce those measurements). There are about 100 recipes in this cookbook (including a couple of canning recipes) of which some are NOT on her blog. And, just as with Joy Wilson’s cookbook, Ree’s directions and quips make you feel as though you’re having a pint jar of her FANTASTIC iced coffee – oh wait, I’m drinking that now – and just having some one-on-one girlfriend time. This too is definitely worth checking out.

P.S. In an earlier post I showed you the fantastic shelf my hubby made for my cookbooks. I mentioned that I’m very selective when buying any new cookbooks because whenever I get a new one, one has to go. That’s a very painful choice to have to make. Well, I’ve found a way around my own rule!! Remember I said that I downloaded the Joy the Baker cookbook onto my Kindle app?! Hellooooooo!! I’m not saying this is for everyone because it is, after all, viewing a whole recipe in 3 inch increments. Plus the fact, there were times that my phone got flour (and various other ingredients) ALL over it (I don’t recall a “flour clause” in the warranty . . .) but where there’s a will, there’s a way. I slip my phone into a sandwich bag or a zip lock bag. I know!!!! It’s PERFECT!!!  No muss, no fuss, I don’t have to worry about spills of any kind (just make sure you zip it closed – don’t ask why I have to point that out) and I don’t have to give away a book!! Go ME!! Just thought I’d share some wisdom.

Just when Tom thought it was safe to be in public with me

This morning started out like every other Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning – a trip to town to the chiropractor. Afterward we’re footloose and fancy free to run errands, do a little shopping (or major shopping) or just head back to the ol’ homestead. Today, Tom wanted to go to a specialty store to look for boots. But, before we headed that far, I needed to make a pit stop. Off to McD’s we went. After the use of their facilities and on my way out to the truck, I saw a younger woman sitting by herself at a table that faced the outside door. As I walked somewhat toward her to go out the door, she was looking at me. As I then walked past her and through the door, I thought to myself, I wonder what she’s thinking. Hmm. Side note: I often wonder what people are thinking about, particularly when they’re eating alone. Are they perhaps thinking about  the reason why they’re there by themselves, mentally preparing for what’s ahead in their day, what pray tell?

Off in search for Tom’s boots. When we walked into the store we just moseyed through the front looking for his size and making sure we were in the right section. A darling, and friendly, sales girl approached us and offered her assistance. When Tom told her what he was looking for and his size, she said they were in the back of the store. Just like in school, we marched, in single file to the right, to the back of the store with Tom in the lead, me, then the sales girl. She got Tom all set up with a few different selections to try on while I was perusing up and down the other aisles. Then the sales girl did something kind of odd. She walked up to me, very closely, and said, “ma’am, you have toilet paper sticking out your pants.” It was one of those moments where you hear that eerie music from the shower scene in Psycho.  Weeeeee, weeeee, weeeee, weeeeeee!!!!  I turned to look in the mirror, (yeah, the boot place had a mirror to look at your feet but McD’s doesn’t have a full length mirror to look at, well, to protect against things like this!!!!!) to see the horror of a very LONG stream of toilet paper, back-of-my-knee length, hanging out from the bottom of my coat!!!!  Beam me up Scotty!!!! Stick-a-fork-in-me-I-am-done moment.  “What did you do??” you ask.   Side note: When I get embarrassed, or nervous, my first reaction is to laugh. You might think that’s a kind of a fun reaction to a situation but it can also happen in a most inappropriate situation (careful what you wish for).  But, laugh like an idiot I did.  I hugged her and said “Thank you for telling me and I’m so sorry because I know it took a lot of nerve to tell me. Thank you!” I couldn’t see her reaction and I don’t recall getting a reciprocating hug but I’m not so sure how I would have felt being hugged by some lady with a toilet paper tail!  Tom, in seeing me hug this young girl, was quite perplexed at the sight and asked what was going on.  I backed up and as nonchalantly as a dog chasing it’s tail, I was finally able to remove the tissue, which now looked like some remnant from a teepee party and held it up ever so slightly to show him.

When he saw the tissue, he instantly knew what had happened (I’m glad because I was laughing too hard to even talk). Then he started laughing. Now when Tom really gets into a “serious” laugh, it’s a high pitched kind of a hit-and-miss giggle, which is hilarious in and of itself. He just stood there, laughing that laugh and shaking his head. We both laughed uncontrollably. The sales girl, well, she just looked at us like we were nuts and we’ve seen that look before. Finally we regained our composure, and Tom continued his boot shopping. I occasionally took a trek down another aisle because I started thinking about it again and – well laughing again. Tom found some boots (I’m still convinced he bought some only because he felt sorry for the girl) and while at the register, between the 3 of us, nobody looked at each other. When we got to the truck Tom and I  burst out laughing again, like idiots, again. Then I remembered my thought as I was walking out of McD’s. I might have a pretty good idea of what the girl was thinking as I walked to the truck, with my white tissue tail flapping in the breeze. I just hope she didn’t spit her food all over the glass or have soda come out her nose when she saw it. Or maybe I will wish it on her if I see my picture on the internet.

About my family and me:

If we’re supposed to get to know each other, I guess I have some things to tell you about myself. I’m married to a wonderful guy named Tom. We’ll be married 30 years this September! Woo-hoo!!!! I recognize how blessed I am having him in my life. We’re each others’ best friend, we’re confidants, we’re sole mates. We both have a sense of humor and try not to take ourselves too seriously. The Lord is first and central in our lives which makes a HUGE difference. We pray together. We respect each other. We value each other’s opinion, even on those rare occasions when we don’t take it. We support each other. We know how to have an argument without having a fight; our words are chosen carefully! We know how to have fun and work together. I think we’re gonna keep each other. I’d show you a picture of us but he’s kinda shy so, maybe another time.

We have two sons. Our oldest is married and he and our daughter-in-law have given us 3 of the most wonderful and adorable grandsons in the world! I have to admit, they’re even cuter than our boys were at that age – and our boys were adorable too! You’ll have to use your imagination. More about them throughout the blog.

Our youngest son, Clayton (we call him Tate), is living with us, finishing college and working full time. He’s a busy guy. He’s our cowboy, except without the horse (other than his Mustang car – hey, a guy’s gotta start somewhere) or a ranch. He’s not without a spread however; it’s just usually “spread” all over the floor of his bedroom.

This was a celebratory picture. I took this shortly after he’d lost 60+ pounds. What’a hunk, huh?! Can a mom say that?

This is our dog, Chester. He really IS the greatest dog in the world!! He said it’s okay for me to post a picture of him; he’s a bit of a ham. I really dig his sexy black ‘stache and he’s every bit as soft as he looks. He’s 110 pounds but thinks he’s a lap dog. He’s a great chaser of cats and squirrels, until he hits the end of his leash. He leaves them with a powerful threat – something about next time. Usually he’s smiling; I must have caught him in a more serious mood.

To say I love to cook is an understatement. I LOVE to cook. I LOVE to browse, share and collect recipes! I wish I were a gourmet chef; I wish I were a plain o’ chef. I LOVE cookbooks, however, I have limited space for them. I promised myself that if I get a new book, I have to give one away. Not only does that prevent me from hoarding but it also makes me think carefully about buying just any ol’ cookbook. Having to choose which to give away is like choosing between my children!!! I’m thinking the TV could go.

My husband and sons all had a hand in making this cabinet for me! It’s beautiful and I love it!! I was looking up at this shelf one day and wondered what a stranger might be able to tell about me just by seeing the various cookbook titles. First, one would say, “she likes to eat.” That too is an understatement. But I’m thinking I may have a few more pastry/baking cookbooks than anything else (other than the totally underutilized Weight Watchers cookbooks). So one may accurately deduce I enjoy baking the best. Baking is more of the challenge I’m looking for; accurate measuring (not a problem), long hours of waiting to see if the product turns out like the picture (even that’s ok) but it’s mostly the artsy part of it that attracts me. It’s the over-the-top eye candy that makes me want to step up to the challenge. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy cooking as well but pastry/baking is my first choice. I’ll be sharing recipes with step-by-step pictures. I hope you’ll try them and come back for more.

I really enjoy photography as well, even though I’m a novice. I like to try unusual settings, lighting and poses. I appreciate getting advice and tips from other websites that I can pass along. I’m a total fan of Ree Drummond from thepioneerwoman.com. She has page after page of photography tips and instruction.My plan is do all of my own photography for the recipes I share. We’ll see how it goes but you’ll have to tell me what you think.

Well for now, that’s about it. I hope you’ll come back frequently for recipes, quips and musings. Hopefully we’ll be able to spend more and more time together.

Thanks for stoppin by.

Come on in!

Hello. My name is Cathy Miller and I am, the Prairie Godmother. I hope you’ll come visit me from time to time as I talk about anything and everything that’s on my mind at that moment. This is my attempt to reach those with like interests, kindred spirits as it were, sharing with each other, honing old skills and learning new ones. So please, make yourself a nice cup of tea or coffee, pile the kids in front of the tv for a couple a’hours, get comfy and let’s get acquainted.

We live in a teeny tiny town called Fancy Prairie. Our town (actually, its an unincorporated village) is surrounded by prairie (well actually, the prairie has been turned into fields. However “Fancy Fields” wasn’t quite as picturesque of an image so the name never changed.) Just sayin. Come March, there will be 101 residents and there are 35 houses. Often times small towns this size have one dilapidated house after another along their main thoroughfare, toilets sitting in the front yard and couches on the porch. In Fancy Prairie we put things where they belong – inside the house. Folks take pride in their homes and yards. My husband and our sons grew up here. It’s small but mighty.

It’s mighty in the fact that we honor God and country. Flags are flown all summer and some, all year round. We’re a close-knit community where neighbors take care of each other in good times and in bad. When an unfamiliar car or people lurk around town, within 10 minutes the townspeople know about it. Landlines, cellphones and texting is abuzz when the vacuum cleaner sales guys are in town. It’s not that we don’t like “outsiders”, the majority of us have been “outsiders” at one point, its just that we don’t want a vacuum cleaner.