Friday, June 24, 2011


Mid-Pride peach tree planted February 6, 2010.  Produced a lot of sweet peaches, even in hot, dry Arizona.

A few of our Anna apples mixed in with the peaches.  So happy to have fruit trees bearing sweet little jewels.

Monday, June 20, 2011

CINNAMON TOAST - Pioneer Woman Cooks

Have you been thinking you make cinnamon toast the correct way? Me, too.  But apparently we have been wrong.  I stumbled onto the perfect concoction: yummy, caramelized cinnamon sugar toast from Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Instead of the old-fashioned way--slathering butter on toasted bread and then quickly sprinkling cinnamon sugar atop while the bread was warm--there is a much better way.

I didn't make quite the same size batch that Ree Drummond (aka Pioneer Woman) made, so I will give you both her recipe and what I did.  The toast was even better paired with hot, milky peppermint tea.  I just came back from a week in DC and am now addicted to Taylors of Harrogate (By Appointment to HRH The Prince of Wales, don't you know) Organic Peppermint Tea (caffeine-free) which was offered in the club lounge of my hotel.  The warm, sweet, milky tea finished the night off perfectly and quelled any sweet tooth desires, which is always a problem whilst traveling.  But I digress.

A small amount of softened butter was ready and waiting so I added a bit of sugar, cinnamon, a drop or two of vanilla extract, and whipped it up.  Don't ask me about the correct cinnamon to sugar ratio--I just know it when I see it. I spread the buttery cinnamon sugar over freshly sliced sourdough bread, baked it in my toaster oven at 300 degrees for 10 minutes, and then broiled the top until browned.  Oh my, yes.  My new favorite recipe for proper Cinnamon Toast. 


  • 16 slices Bread
  • 2 sticks Salted Butter, Softened
  • 1 cup Sugar 
  • 3 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract 
  • ⅛ teaspoons Ground Nutmeg

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Stir softened butter with a fork. Add in sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg, if using. Stir to completely combine.
Spread on slices of bread, completely covering the surface all the way to the edges.
Place toast on a cookie sheet. Place cookies sheet into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil until golden brown and bubbling. Watch so it won’t burn!
Remove from oven and cut slices into halves diagonally.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

DAUGHTER OF TIME - Josephine Tey - Book Review

The Daughter of Time, written by Josephine Tey, is a clever way to write a mystery story combined with rethinking what has almost become a historical fact: that Richard III murdered his young nephews to take the crown of England.  This book is an investigation into the famous "Princes in the Tower" stories that have been going around forever.   Tey is excellent laying out all the facts and working it through Scotland Yard Inspector, Alan Grant, who is stuck in a hospital bed with a broken leg, ribs, etc after a nasty turn in his professional life.  Since he is growing restless, his friend Marta (a famous actress) brings him stacks of copies of portraits to study (Grant loves to study faces).  He comes upon a portrait of Richard III which starts him on the path to determine whether Richard is guilty or not. 

One of the funniest scenes takes place between Grant and Marta, who at one time played the Queen (mother of the two murdered princes) in a play.  Marta, the actress, is mimicking the part of the Queen who has sought sanctuary at Westminster Abbey:

'Of course, the thing is farce, I hope you see,' Marta said, going on with her flower arranging. 'Not a tragedy at all. "Yes, I know he did kill Edward and little Richard, but he really is a rather charming creature
and it is so bad for my rheumatism living in rooms with a north light". This made me laugh out loud (which I love to do while reading or listening to a good book.)
The following is Alan Grant's analysis of Richard, the supposed criminal: 

"He reached for his writing-pad and pen, and made a neat entry:

CASE: Disappearance of two boys (Edward, Prince of Wales; Richard, Duke
of York) from the Tower of London, 1485 or thereabouts.


Previous Record:

Good. Has excellent record in public service, and good reputation in
private life. Salient characteristic as indicated by his actions: good

In the matter of the presumed crime:

(a) He did not stand to benefit; there were nine other heirs to the house
of York, including three males.

(b) There is no contemporary accusation.

(c) The boys' mother continued on friendly terms with him until his
death, and her daughters attended Palace festivities.

(d) He showed no fear of the other heirs of York, providing generously
for their upkeep and granting all of them their royal state.

(e) His own right to the crown was unassailable, approved by Act of
Parliament and public acclamation; the boys were out of the succession
and of no danger to him.

(f) If he had been nervous about disaffection then the person to have got
rid of was not the two boys, but the person who really was next in
succession to him: young Warwick. Whom he publicly created his heir when
his own son died.


Previous Record:

An adventurer, living at foreign courts. Son of an ambitious mother.
Nothing known against his private life. No public office or employment.
Salient characteristic as indicated by his actions: subtlety.

In the matter of the presumed crime:

(a) It was of great importance to him that the boys should not continue
to live. By repealing the Act acknowledging the children's illegitimacy,
he made the elder boy King of England, and the younger boy the next heir.

(b) In the Act which he brought before Parliament for the attaining of
Richard he accused Richard of the conventional tyranny and cruelty but
made no mention of the two young Princes. The conclusion is inevitable
that at that time the two boys were alive and their whereabouts known.

(c) The boys' mother was deprived of her living and consigned to a
nunnery eighteen months after his succession.

(d) He took immediate steps to secure the persons of all the other heirs
to the crown, and kept them in close arrest until he could with the
minimum of scandal get rid of them.

(e) He had no right whatever to the throne. Since the death of Richard,
young Warwick was de jure King of England.

And it occurred to him too for the first time in full force just how that
family atmosphere strengthened the case for Richard's innocence. The boys
whom he was supposed to have put down as he would put down twin foals
were Edward's sons; children he must have known personally and well. To
Henry, on the other hand, they were mere symbols. Obstacles on a path. He
may never even have set eyes on them. All questions of character apart,
the choice between the two men as suspects might almost be decided on
that alone.

It was wonderfully clearing to the head to see it neat and tidy as (a),
(b), and (c). He had not noticed before how doubly suspect was Henry's
behaviour over Titulus Regius. If, as Henry had insisted, Richard's claim
was absurd, then surely the obvious thing to do was to have the thing
re-read in public and demonstrate its falsity. But he did no such thing.
He went to endless pains to obliterate even the memory of it. The
conclusion was inevitable that Richard's title to the crown as shown in
Titulus Regius was unassailable."
A great, fun read--especially if you love the odds and ends of British history. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

HELLO DOLLY BARS - Smitten Kitchen

I needed to make something sweet and quick for a friend.  And, since it was Sunday, I needed to have all the ingredients on hand.  Yea for Smitten Kitchen.  Hello Dolly Bars aka Seven Layer Bars aka Magic Bars--what do you call them?  I think Hello Dolly sounds fun.

I plopped my iPad onto my cookbook holder and started gathering the ingredients. Because I knew they would be so sweet, I subbed unsweetened coconut for sweetened coconut.  Fifteen minutes later the little lovelies were baking away.  They were a hit!

1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, cut into large pieces
1 1/2 cups graham crackers crumbs (about 8 graham crackers)
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened)
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (just under half a small can)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

I don't like to pull out my food processor to pummel just one ingredient.  So placing the graham crackers in a large sealed bag and whacking it with a rolling pin is my easy, no clean-up trick.

Melt butter in microwave in heatproof bowl until just melted when stirred. Add graham cracker crumbs. Mix and then press evenly into the bottom of 8×8 baking pan.
Layer coconut, pecans, butterscotch and chocolate chips on top of graham cracker base. Pour sweetened condensed milk over whole mixture.

Bake in oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is light brown.

Because I wanted to get these delivered before the sun set, I placed them in the fridge to cool down quickly.  Much easier to cut and serve that way.

Saved one for me....delish.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Let's pretend we have the summer off and can really read that entire stack of books that has been building.  In the summer, it seems as if there is more time to read but I don't know if that's just stuck in my brain leftover from carefree school days.  I mean, really, I work year 'round so it's not as if I'm enjoying the lazy days of summer reading in a hammock somewhere.  But, for now let's pretend we have scads of extra time.  Here's my dream list:

The Greater Journey by David McCullough
The Lunatic Express by Carl Hoffman
The Provincial Lady in America by E.M. Delafield
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

And four of those slim little treats from Penguin, English Journeys:

The Pleasures of English Food by Alan Davidson
The Clouded Mirror by L.T.C. Rolt
Through England on a Side Saddle by Celia Fiennes
A Wiltshire Diary by Francis Kilvert

So, what are you reading (or hoping to read) this summer?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

MAJOR PETTIGREW'S LAST STAND - Helen Simonson - Book Review

This novel has an interesting storyline.  Ernest Pettigrew is a retired Major living alone in tidy home in Edgecombe St. Mary, in the English countryside (where else?).  The Major, a very proper Englishman who is widowed, falls in love with a Pakistani woman, Mrs. Jasmina Ali, who runs the corner market.  Mrs. Ali is controlled by her dead husband's family. The locals love Mrs. Ali but only as a tradeswoman, certainly not as one of the "true" villagers.  The story is set in present day time and serves as a good reminder to acknowledge and banish our own prejudices.

 A good book to read in between the more serious stuff.  Well-written, interesting plot, a good mix of good and rotten self-centered characters.  I recommend.