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Hi folks….after less than two weeks with my blog on this site – I’m posting my last one….but WAIT…..that’s only because I’m moving to a new site…..my Blogguru, Jenny, via email from Buenos Aires, found me a better place – one that allows for more creativity.  And she knows what she’s talking about – unlike me – so I took Jenny’s advice and my new site – while still being worked on – is now available for you to tune into….so please visit me there from now on.  Go to:  www.potsandpins.typepad.com  This will be the one and only move I’ll make and sorry for the inconvenience! 

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I was shopping this morning in a local store that sells gift wrap, ribbons, and boxes and there were two people in the store….me and some guy who was buying a single sheet of gift wrap and a piece of ribbon.  He paid his money and then set this little box on the counter and asked if they would please wrap it for him.  There were 4 clerks standing behind the counter…..FOUR….and none of them moved – finally one said, “I’m sorry, we don’t wrap gifts here.”   The man then asked if they knew where he could get his gift wrapped – all four of them shook their heads back and forth and one whimpered a “sorry.”  

Four employees with NOTHING to do… tape and scissors on the counter and not one of them could help this guy!  So I asked if I could use some of their tape and told the guy I would be happy to wrap his gift for him.  He was so happy!  “Oh thank you, thank you, you are most kind!”  He even bowed a little!!!  (He was not an American – hence the bow….which I could get used it!)  It took me all of 2 minutes to wrap his gift, tie on the ribbon and attach his card – while all four of the ejits behind the counter stood there and watched. 

What has happened to customer service?!?!  When a guy is buying gift wrap, well, that’s like me buying a carbuerator – I may know what it’s for but I would have no clue as to what to do with it!  (I don’t even actually know what it’s for but that’s not the point!)  This man basically needed a favor – a very SMALL favor – something that someone with any business sense (or common courtesy) should have been happy to oblige.   So they don’t wrap packages – would it have hurt them to wrap this one customer’s gift??  Possibly keeping him as a customer?  I could understand them saying no if the place was busy or if he asked to have several items wrapped….but really…..when a man asks for help with gift wrap, isn’t that a little bit like watching a wounded animal?  I just don’t understand how they could have refused!

That’s my soapbox for today…..I’m glad I was there to help him – one good deed deserves another…what did you do today?

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So this is the one that worked…..Cranberry Bread – tart/sweet and hot from the oven – nothing is better!  I have two recipes for Cranberry Bread – both have the usual ingredients – flour, eggs, sugar, – but each was different enough that I couldn’t decide which one to make – so I combined the recipes and it worked! 

Cranberry Bread– adapted from Linda Millward (infamous baker/cook and mother of my friends, the Fashionistas) and Joni Geurts, my sister and wannabe Fashionista.  Makes 2 small loaf pans (6 1/2 x 4 1/2) and freezes well.

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons apple cider

2 tablespoons vegetable cooking oil

juice from 2 large oranges, about 1/2 cup

1/2 chopped walnuts

1 cup fresh cranberries, cut into quarters

zest of two oranges

Zest both oranges, set aside.  Juice both oranges, gathering 1/2 cup of juice.  In a small bowl combine orange juice, oil, apple cider, beaten egg and both sugars.  Mix well.  In separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.   Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing only until moistened.  Fold in nuts, cranberries and orange rind.   Bake in greased bread tins, lined at the bottom with parchment paper (or use the disposable paper pans that need no greasing) and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes before trying to slice – if you can stand to wait that long.

And now…..the recipe I ruined…..more times that I’d like to count, I have disasters in the kitchen and I will try to be scrupulously honest here and let you know when that happens – unless it happens everyday, in which case I will be forced to lie.  I was asked to bring corn bread to a church function tonight…..corn bread…..a no brainer, right?   Well, it is if you HAVE corn meal and if you FOLLOW a recipe….neither of which I did.  And I got the results I deserved.  When baking, if you don’t follow the recipe you might as well eat out.

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Here’s the before……and the after…..and it looks great!  But I’m jumping ahead – let me tell you what I did….while digging in the pantry looking for corn meal – and discovering that I had none – I found a bag of polenta which is basically the same thing as corn meal so I turned the bag over and there was a recipe for San Francisco Polenta Bread – so then I was in business!  But the recipe sounded kind of bland – let’s face it, polenta is really grits – and who can eat grits without dressing them up with butter or cheese?  So I decided – with my infinite wisdom – to doctor the recipe with cheese and cayenne and corn……it could have worked – truly – except that I made one fatal mistake…..I mixed everything together and started spooning it into the pan when I realized that I had forgotten the cheese – so instead of scooping everything back into the bowl and mixing it up – I thought how wonderful it would be to have a layer of cheese in the middle of the cornbread!  So I tossed in the TWO cups of cheese in the middle of the mixture – covered it up with the remaining batter and threw it in the oven! 

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I think you can see from the picture what the problem was….the layer of cheese had turned into an oozing mass of cheese – making the cornbread too gooey to hold it.  IF only I had mixed the cheese into the batter  then I think this would have worked….what little cornbread I could taste – the pieces around the cheese – had a great flavor but nothing could stop that wall of cheese from running all over the place!  Hardly something I dared take to the church dinner – not with all the blue ribbon cooks there!

So, if you want to give it a try – here’s the recipe…..and I cut back the amount of the cheese…just to be safe.

Polenta Cheesy Corn Bread

1 cups sifted flour

2 cups polenta

6 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups milk

1/2 cup cooking oil

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 can (15 oz.) whole kernal corn

1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese – try not to forget to mix this in!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place all ingredients in mixing bowl and blend.  (I love recipes that only use one dish….dump and mix!)  Pour into a 10-inch cast iron skillet and bake 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown on top.  May also be baked in two 8-inch square pans or muffin tins.  And may the force be with you. 

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DEADMAN OVER WORMS…… 

Herewith I submit my award winning recipe for Deadman Over Worms….well, I actually didn’t win any award, but I did win Emeril Live’s Halloween Contest last year….okay, so I was one of four winners….but I was definitely Emeril’s favorite – fine, so I wasn’t his favorite….but my meatloaf was….trust me on this, his exact words were:  “Folks, this is a really good recipe….BAM!”  Now I’m not making this up…..afterall, would I lie about meatloaf?  So out of all of the thousands and thousands of entries – probably millions – this was one of the winners:

 3 eggs

2/3 cup milk

2 slices French bread torn into small pieces

1 cup oatmeal

1/2 cut grated carrot

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon bouquet garni

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 pounds lean ground beef

1 pound mild Italian sausage

1 (16 oz.) package spaghetti noodles, cooked according to package directions

Butter

Topping:

1 cup tomato ketchup

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons prepared mustard

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup of your favorite bottled spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, beat the eggs.  Add milk, bread, and oatmeal.  Stir in carrots, onions, cheese, herbs, and seasonings.  Add beef and sausage and mix well.  In a shallow baking dish, shape beef mixture into the shape of a body.  Round ball for head, (about the size of a softball) oval shape for body, mounding up for tummy.  Shape arms and place next to body (you don’t want them sticking out or they will cook too quickly.)  Shape legs and place next to each other, not apart.  Smooth meatloaf so the “seams” are not apparent. 

Make topping. 

Bake meatloaf for 45 minutes, then spoon half of the sauce over meatloaf.  Return to the oven and continue baking for an additional 45 minutes or until meatloaf is cooked thoroughly. (Total baking time about 1 1/2 hours – cover with foil if it gets too brown.) While meatloaf is baking cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions.  Rinse noodles and put butter, to taste, on them; set aside.

When meatloaf is done, remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes.  Put spaghetti noodles on a tray.  Carefully place meatloaf on top of spaghetti noodles, using two spatulas.  Don’t worry if an arm or a leg falls off – just “reattach” and cover with sauce.  Before serving place a knife in the “heart” of the  deadman …..serve with remaining sauce.

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jenny_and_lyndsey.jpgMy daughter’s childhood friend is now also my friend – and expert blogger extrodinaire! This is Jenny on the left and my daughter Lyndsey on the right – many years ago – we made a quick trip up to Butchart Gardens in Victoria BC – had a great time even though I wrecked the car….but I digress…… This post is about Jenny, not my driving ability…..She is an amazing talent – If you don’t believe me, check out her wonderful site, www.jennyvorwaller.com and you’ll be transported – literally – to Buenos Aires where she now lives.  Jenny is an artist…jewelry designer…photographer and a wonderful writer….but more to the point, I owe her my most heartfelt thanks as she has been my resource to get my site up and running.  She has been so patient – never once calling me retarded or stupid or dumb – although she certainly had every right to!  After working with me for the last couple of weeks, I would like to nominate her to Sainthood but won’t because then she would have to be dead or at the very least sealed in concrete.  Anyway, a big thank you to Jenny for all of her help!  Now, with that being said…..I hope you’ll forgive me for any mistakes you find – they would be my mistakes, not Jenny’s!  I’m still new at this so be patient, grasshopper, I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got to work with! 

Wasn’t it Shakespeare who asked what’s in a name?  Well, let me tell you, a rose might be a rose by any other name but when it comes to blogs, there’s no such thing as sharing!  So I picked a name for my blog….. it was taken…..so I picked another….it, too was taken….and then another and another and another – all taken!  Sheesh!  Think of the brain power I wasted!  And with that being said and with what limited brain functions I had left I came up with pots and pins…..humor me and pretend it’s clever and avant gaard…..and I arrived at this name because I wanted my blog to reflect my two favorite hobbies/passions/time-wasters….food and quilting.  So, there you have it – pots and pins.