Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Antique 4-H'er -- Demonstrations and Refreshments

The best parts of any 4-H meeting were the demonstrations, recreation and refreshments -- the 3 final orders of business each month. Recreation could be a wild relay or a quiet pencil game. Refreshments were always better at some houses than others; some moms put on quite a spread -- sloppy joes, chips, pop in bottles -- and others settled for popcorn and kool-aid. But I loved demonstration time most of all. Some kids went all out; my pal, Jill, did an awesome demonstration on giving yourself a manicure. 35 years later, I still think of her every time I file my nails toward the center of each finger. I loved preparing a demonstration; in fact, the summer before my senior year in high school, I won the State Dog demonstration, and got to take a trip to Washington, DC. (But, no big purple rosette ribbon. Do you believe that?)

One of my early years in 4-H, I demonstrated chocolate waffle cookies when the meeting was at our house. I think mom found the recipe in the Farm Journal or Watt Highlights; they were unique and delicious -- perfect demonstration and refreshment material!

I dug out the recipe a few years ago, and made the cookies for "T" week in kindergarten (I must really love these -- it's the 3rd time I've posted about them!) With a dollop of green icing, the cookies sort of resemble turtles. So in true 4-H spirit, I thought I would share the recipe (and also so I don't have to look too far when I need it next year!)

Chocolate Turtle Waffle Cookies

2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
a pinch of salt
4 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat waffle iron. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa and salt. Stir in eggs, butter and vanilla until well blended. Drop batter by small spoonfuls onto the four sections of the waffle iron; close and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove carefully (I use 2 wooden skewers) and allow to cool on wire rack. Frost with butter icing, a la the 1961 Betty Crocker cookbook ( 1/3 cup soft butter, 3 cups powdered sugar, 3 Tablespoons milk and 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, plus a little green food coloring.) These are really good plain, or with a little powdered sugar sprinkled on them-- like little corrugated brownies!
Next week's treats, the return of the purple pancake. OR, maybe pumpkin pancakes!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


this is for sister Karen, who checks my blog every day. I love you, and thanks for giving me a figurative kick in the pants.

I have a rotten cold, and don't have anything bright to say, so I'll just post a few pictures.
First, here's the antique 4-H'er's Home Furnishings project for September:

I have wanted to put together a table like this for several years; I store some of my yarn in an old suitcase and love the look, and finally found 3 nice cases to stack together. The feet are just drawer pulls I found at Menard's. A little drilling, a little velcro, and finally, I have the perfect place for my teapot lamp.

When I was in 4-H, we didn't have the cake decorating project; Maggie and Sarah both took the project a couple of years, using styrofoam cakes and royal icing -- it was fun, but messy, and not very delicious.
So, our pal, Fred, came to fix our air conditioning when it went out in July. Because he is our lifelong friend, he wouldn't take any payment, but said I could make his daughter's birthday cake this year. I just love the barter system, especially when I get to make a cake for a sweet girl!

More cakes coming up, as we are planning a triple birthday blowout party for Tommy (who turns 6 today), Paul, who will be 2 on the 27th, and Griffin, who will be 4 on the 26th! We're off to celebrate with the Anderson's at Applebeast tonight.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Antique 4-H'er, Part II -- Foods

Before I tell you what's cooking, I feel it's my duty pass on a small warning about Internet recipes. I wanted to make some of my favorite soft oatmeal cookies for a bake sale this weekend; the best recipe I have found is from America's Test Kitchen. I have loaned Sarah my ATK cookbook, so I went looking on line. I found a recipe that a blogger called the ATK oatmeal cookie, and the recipe seemed right, but the cookies were not the delicious little orbs of oatmealy perfection they usually are. When I get the book back (or buy another copy!) I'm going to check. It could have been me. Either way, consider yourself warned.

I am always on the lookout for a great casserole recipe to make in quantity, freeze and share with others; I think I found my new go-to dish: The Pioneer Woman's Chicken Spaghetti. I tripled the recipe, but got 4 nice 9x13 dishes for my effort --viola! Dinner for us! I did leave out the green pepper (a very bad experience with cooked green pepper has made me a hater) and added mushrooms, which I sauteed in a little olive oil with the onion for a bit, and used a can of cream of mushroom soup for one of the cream of chicken. Also, I tossed the cheese for the top with breadcrumbs and a little melted butter, because that's just how I roll.

I've always been a cupcake fan, and am trying out recipes from Martha's Cupcake Cookbook. Last week, it was her applesauce cupcakes. In general, I don't love icing, but I could eat the cream cheese/brown sugar icing on these cupcakes without the cupcake, if you know what I mean. With a spoon. All of it.

And, I accidentally developed a recipe, by opening a box of white cake mix that I thought was chocolate. I made cupcakes for the Junior Miss dinner the other week, and had already made a batch of white cupcakes with raspberry cream icing; I didn't need 2 dozen more white cupcakes. So, I added a package of instant chocolate pudding, 1/3 cup cocoa, 3 teaspoons of espresso powder, an extra egg and 1 and 1/2 cups of chocolate chips to the white mix. I dusted them with powdered sugar and espresso powder, and they were good. I am calling them Mocha Chocalatta Cupcakes. Ya ya.

My latest decorating extravaganza/failure:

Sometimes (read: all the time lately) my cakes don't turn out anywhere as beautiful as I had them pictured in my head. See that blue blob on the right there? That started out as the base for a rice krispie ferris wheel; I had seen a picture of one, and was sure I could re-create it. I could re-create it, but I couldn't make it stand up. Not even with skewers, chopsticks and a little time in the freezer. Boo. And, although they look like baby booties, those little orange and blue blobs are bumper cars. Could you tell?

Peace, cookers.