Sunday, April 24, 2016

Nerd to the rescue

With the assistance of my new helper I was able to turn out a Betty Crocker sour cream coffee cake for our church coffee hour, and also, ahem, Lacy Oatmeal Cookies. They went, too!! We had a big crowd.

This is what happens when you bring in a Sunbeam Mixmaster. People gather!

I love that ad up above, the seasoned cook gazing admiringly at the appliance. Being a novice I had so much fun, standing over this antique whirring machine. Here is something I love about the Internet: You will always have access to some nerd who delivers arcane information you desire.

Researching my Sunbeam Mixmaster I found this site where, this guy has obviously devoted his life to Sunbeam Mixmasters. He is the biographer of the Sunbeam Mixmaster the way I am of Leonard Pennario.

About the Model 9, the Mixmaster I own, he wrote:

This model appeared in August of 1948. Some of the new features include a plastic tip on one of the beaters to help turn the bowl. Also the decal changes during the model 9 production run. Early model 9s have the early style decal and the later ones have decals like in the picture.

I am reading that fascinated.

I had been puzzling over the plastic tip on one of the beaters! I was thinking: Oh well, it probably got worn off the other one, but that's OK. Now I see it is as God intended.

The chronicler also wrote of a previous model, Model 7: "This model is first with the beater ejector. A simple twist of the handle and out come the beaters."

And I go: "Oh! That's how the beaters come out!"

I could not figure that out on my own! I had begun to think I had an earlier model because I could not find a beater ejector.

Live and learn.

Thanks to the nerds on the Internet!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Mixmistress

I haven't written in a while but now that will change. It is fitting that I check back in today, because remember the Sunbeam Mixmaster? I got it going!

A turntable for it arrived from eBay. I spent something like $10 on it including shipping, zut alors. On the other hand, I got the mixer for nothing. On still another hand, it really works!

That bowl flies!!

I don't know what I was expecting, I guess for it to move around sedately. The slow and sedate speeds do not work on this mixer. It kicks in at setting 5, Mashed Potatoes. And it goes from there. I had it mixing cookie dough and it made quick work of the butter and sugar, I will say that. Just to see what it could do, I took it up to the higher speeds. It felt like being in a high-performance car and taking it up to 100 mph.

After I took the picture up above the mixer looked a little smudged so I polished it up. I am kind of sentimental over the $2 price sticker, is one thing. That was a nice deal. This World War II mixer that chugs along like the Memphis Belle. And it has the two bowls. That is lucky because glass bowls tend to break over the years. I will have to learn to recognize these and grab them at St. Vincent de Paul.

Anyway. Good job, mixer that dates to when Leonard Pennario was 24.

Well mixed!

Monday, April 11, 2016

The mixer mix-up

Because I have been baking more for church coffee hour, I did a wild and adventurous thing and I went down to the cellar to find my Hamilton Beach mixer.

I do not think I ever mentioned that I owned this particular small electric. I bought it at Salvation Army for I think $10. Since doing a little research I have learned it is a Model K! Here it is posing on the kitchen counter. If you look closely you can see the 1960s Osterizer in the background.

The Model K dates to the 1950s as I understand it. This mixer runs like a dream -- however zut alors, I am missing the turntable! That is what I have learned the part is called that the bowls sit on.

I know that my nieces Rosie and Millie were working this mixer once when we made Christmas cookies. So I knew it had been in service. Alas and alack and Alaska, I searched the basement but found no mixer turntable. I wonder if it ever had one, I mean while I have owned it. I have dim memories of us jerry-rigging it.

I must needs find a replacement turntable. That should not be too hard to do. And good news: While I was searching the basement I found a World War II-era Sunbeam Mixmaster I did not know I had! This is why it is fun to be me.

The Sunbeam runs very well too! I plugged it in. It is sluggish for the first few settings, but those are Mashed Potatoes and stuff, which I would never use it for. By the time you get to the beating it is going great guns.

However! It too is missing its turntable! Which must have been why I got it for just $2. The price sticker is still on it.

The beaters were wrapped in newspaper dated June 2008, so that must have been around when I bought it. I have dim memories of being at a sale with my mom and picking this up. Knowing my mom we talked it down to $1. Ha, ha!

I love the front of it. It is a Model 9 which dates to 1947 and was known for its grille. It looks like a World War II airplane!

Finding a turntable for this baby should not be that hard either. It seems people charge more for the bowls, which are beautiful white milk glass. The only thing that bothers me is the outside chance that I could have thrown one or another of these turntables out without knowing what it was. I have said it before and I will say it again: NEVER THROW ANYTHING OUT.


Leonard Pennario agreed with me on this. We had both thrown things out and regretted it.

Anyway. I look forward to baking for my church with one or both of these vintage instruments whirring away.

What fun!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Color my Saturday

Cheap Dollar Tree coloring books are the greatest. You pick them up for a buck and you can have extras on hand for when friends drop in.

My friend Mari and I did these while listening to Howard playing Gershwin songs on the piano. I have been getting over an, ahem, tooth infection which is a great excuse to kick back like this while letting the antibiotics do their work. I do not know what Mari's excuse is other than that when she walked in the door I tossed a coloring book at her.

It is amazing what can be done with a box of 24 Crayola crayons. Especially in the case of Mari who did the starfish. Mari is a professional artist and I am learning from her.

I did this story in The Buffalo News about coloring. It is a fad I like because it reminds me of something that might have been popular in the 18th century. I know in the 18th century people would sit around together and draw. You would have to do that in the drawing room! Mozart once had to play the piano to a whole room of people drawing. It drove him crazy. Luckily last night Howard did not seem to mind. You can color and listen to Gershwin at the same time.

What about Pennario's great album "The Piano Colors of Ravel"?

OK, I have to get to my real work. This Saturday cannot be flushed down the coloring toilet! Or toilets, as the case may be.

Still, the cool colors of the starfish are so pretty.

I think I will put Mari's picture up on the fridge.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The whole fish ...

... all the fish, and nothing but the fish, so help me God!

Yesterday I went to the Broadway Market and was drawn as if by a magnet to Broadway Seafood. I bought a Pompano -- that is the fellow up above -- and a Bluefish. The whole fish! They scale it for you and everything. And they were going to take the heads off but I said no. And they were going to take the tail fins off and I said no.

They know me so they just smiled. They do not speak a lot of English anyway, do the folks at Broadway Seafood.

Last night we cooked up these fish. Yum! You do not realize how easy it is to cook whole fish. None of my cooking magazines will go near it and so I found a recipe from Mark Bittman, the Minimalist. You turn the oven to 400 degrees and wrap the fish in foil with some, ahem, aromatics. I used red onion rings and lemon slices and kosher salt and black pepper. And toasted walnuts, which Bittman suggested. Well, he asked for pine nuts. Whenever I see the words "pine nuts" I do not even see them. I just think walnuts.

I also roasted some mushrooms and asparagus. Everything went into the oven and came out perfect.

Triumph! I make a lot of mistakes but sometimes everything turns out great. This fish was amazing. As was the asparagus.

How come stuff never looks like this when you have your friends over? That is what I would like to know. It is just you, or it is just the two of you, and things look right out of Martha Stewart. I remember thinking that in California when Leonard Pennario came over for dinner. The dinner was good but not as good as dinner had been the night before when I was just cooking for myself. Maybe you just try too hard sometimes. I do not know what it is.

Well, I know one thing. I will be going back to Broadway Seafood!

I want to cook my way through their fish!

The whole fish, all the fish.

And nothing but the fish!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Basket case

That chocolate zucchini cake for Dorothy's birthday was so gooey and good! I am not bragging. I am giving credit to the recipe.

I had a feeling it would be good. Remember when I made a chocolate zucchini cake for Howard's birthday? Fatal error! We were eating it for weeks. We put it in the fridge and every day it was as if no time had elapsed.

I think I am still working off that particular chocolate zucchini cake.

The one I just made, it uses two whole cups of zucchini, so come summer we will have to remember that. When you are surrounded by zucchini this cake is at your fingertips. SO GOOD. There it is up above occupying pride of place in the coffee hour buffet. Well, we took the picture before Mass. Later it had more competition.

The coffee hour continues to be great fun but I have to say, I do not know how the Blums did it for so long. They are the couple at St. Anthony's who did it for six years or something and I am in awe of them, I will tell you that right now. I am kneeling at Mass and all I am thinking about is did I set the Crock Pot on the right setting and what happened to those coffee cups I thought were there. The friends bringing the cups were late and I was up there in the choir loft singing the Kyrie and hyperventilating. Thinking: Did they forget we were losing the hour? No, I am the one who always forgets things like that, they always remember them. Where are they? Where are they???

Lord have mercy! Christ have mercy!

On the bright side we now have a coffee team. We have a bunch of people pitching in. My friend Lou made the coffee today and he also brought yummy banana bread. Bill and Margaret, the friends with the cups, did turn up. We were also aided by my beautiful niece and nephew Barbara and Georgie, photographed here in the quiet before the storm.

They contributed the Easter baskets visible on the table, so sweet of them. Kids can't help jumping the gun on Easter. That is all right by me. We sang happy birthday to Dorothy and it only took Dorothy two breaths to blow out the whole box full of candles.

People are already alerting me to more birthdays coming up. So that will mean more cakes in the future.

I am just getting started!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

I take the cake

Last week one the way home from church Dorothy let it slip that her birthday was the next day. So I am making a birthday cake for tomorrow's coffee hour.

That is it above! And here is a close-up.

Sprinkles are the greatest when it comes to birthday cakes. They are beautiful on white frosting but I think especially stunning on chocolate.

I inadvertently made an, ahem, healthy recipe. The cake is the Chocolate Zucchini Cake out of King Arthur Flour's Whole Grain Baking cookbook. Reason being, I was out of white flour. The frosting was from online. It is here on Kitchn for the next time you need to rustle up chocolate frosting fast.

You know me, I love baking birthday cakes. One regret I have is that I never got to make one for Leonard Pennario. Looking through my Betty Crocker cookbook today I saw a lot of recipes I want to try for birthday cakes. They have a Starlight Cake and a Chocolate Chip Cake that both seem to have a lot of fans online. This is the ancient Betty Crocker cookbook that my friend Lizzie gave me for my 19th birthday. It is always young. Just like Dorothy!

I hope she likes chocolate, you know? I did not think to ask. Of course how could she not. You do not make it into your 90s without chocolate.

Another thing, you do not make it into Daylight Savings Time without chocolate. Losing that hour tonight will not be fun! But that is where this cake comes in.

If chocolate cake doesn't get you out of bed, nothing will!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

[in Just-] Spring

I know it is early but I cannot help thinking of this poem by e.e. cummings I loved when I was in grade school.

[in Just-]
in Just-
spring          when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles          far          and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far          and             wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and




balloonMan          whistles

There is the poem. Now it is me again talking. It is sweet how e.e. cummings was so enthralled by the typewriter which I am guessing was kind of new at the time. The spaces, the punctuation, the capitalization or not. Even his name, it is so typewriter.

There is a font, American Typewriter. I think the poem should technically be read in that font.

I remember when I was a kid, and pretty little, I mean, about 9 or 10, I kind of "got" what he meant. That is how good he was. The world puddle-wonderful. And back then before iPhones we actually did come running from hop-scotch and jump-rope. How quaint I am.

Up above is a picture Howard took of Jeoffry looking out at the spring morning. I like to put pictures like this on the Web log because I do not want them to get lost in the shuffle of Facebook. We put it up on Facebook with the caption "Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning." Because that was a song by Cat Stevens.

Cat, get it? At first I did not.

Spring! A little early but still.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Quality meets quantity

So we return, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into A Dollar. 

There are also treasures to be found in the aisle where they have tossed a bunch of books. You have to keep your eyes open in this kind of aisle.

There were kids' coloring books there. I was bummed there were no grown-up coloring books. Well, give them time. There was also a pile of the hardcover Better Homes and Gardens Best Recipes of 2011 for $2.99, in case you need that volume to complete your collection. But here is what I found that I love.

It is Company's Coming Cookies cookbook by this author Jean Pare.

OK, so it is not exactly elegant. They have a bunch of Company's Coming cookbooks. Cookies, casseroles, chicken, I forget what else. I had never heard of this line of cookbooks and I assumed they were just these cheapie little no-name things. But then I opened the Cookies cookbook.

The thing is, our coffee hour at St. Anthony's has been rocking. Every week it seems more people show up. Which is a great thing! And I was thinking, it will be fun to find more cookie recipes suitable for this discerning crowd.

With an emphasis on "crowd." All the cookies in this book not only looked good, but the very first recipe, Gingersnaps, makes 90 cookies. Most recipes seem to make at least four dozen. Many make 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 dozen.

Now you are talking my language! Also I love the retro look and sure enough, this Jean Pare is an old-timer. She was born in 1927 and she is the best-selling cookbook author in Canada. Canadians love to eat and they know what they are talking about when it comes to rich food.

Anyway. All this was mine for $1.29! Look, I have written a couplet.

I am inspired!

My only criticism was when I got it home and was studying it, there were no bar cookies. But now I see why. Googling around I found this.

Back we go into A Dollar.

Got to find that square deal!

Monday, March 7, 2016

The spice of downtown

There is this dollar store downtown at the Main Place Mall. I think it is called just A Dollar.

It is indeed! This is funny, I just found this Buffalo Niagara site with a picture of the place. That is it up above. They also have a little write-up.

Everything from candles, body oils, greeting cards, bathroom, kitchen, home supplies and more for only a dollar.

Body oils, tee hee. But not all the description is as accurate. The deal is, everything unmarked in the store is a dollar. Most things have red tags on them with higher prices because the world being what it is, prices rise. The store has other strikes against it too. The aisles are painfully narrow and it is usually crowded so there is always a chorus of "Excuse me"s. On the bright side it is nice when people really do say Excuse Me.

So, not perfect, this dollar store. However.

There is hardly any other shopping in downtown Buffalo and so when I have the yen to shop on my lunch hour I have had no choice but to explore it.

And their spice aisle!

Today I bought Star Anise ($1.69) and ground ginger and powdered mustard, both for $1.49. I was out of ginger so that saved me an errand. The ginger is 1.5 ounces, same as you would find somewhere else, but the ground mustard is 4 ounces!

The spices are Mimi's Products and most are $1.49. That includes cumin seeds, mustard seeds, sesame seeds, caraway seeds, dill seeds etc., all in reasonable-sized bottles. Things you cannot find at Albrecht Discount or at CVS. It gets to be kind of torture because people are always trying to get past you as you are studying everything the spice aisle here has to offer. But it is worth the investment.

There is another treasure I found but I will have to get to that tomorrow because today I am not done with describing the spices. A Dollar also has whole nutmeg -- whole nutmeg! -- and peppercorns. Turmeric, flax seeds (ground and un-ground), whole and ground cloves, annatto seeds, pretty much everything you look for is there. Things for Indian and African and Latin and Middle Eastern cooking. Check it out.

A dollar store is a wonderful thing.

It spices up your work day!