Christmas Decorations

PQ wanted me to put up Christmas lights, so I did.

Keep your fork and have a Merry Christmas

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Grandson’s Question

Her 9-year old grandson came in from outside playing and asked, “Grandma, what’s that called when two people sleep in the same bedroom and one is on top of the other?”

Taken aback, she decided to be honest, “It’s called sexual  intercourse,” she answered.

“Oh, okay,” said her grandson and went back to playing with his friends. A few minutes later he returned saying angrily, “Grandma, it isn’t called sexual intercourse. It’s called ‘bunk beds’ and Jimmy’s mother wants to talk to you.”

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Which Apples for Baking?

Some apple varieties are better for baking pies, crisps, and baked apples than other varieties. Here are four varieties that are the ones you want for baking.

Granny Smith: This variety is high in pectin, a natural starch that will help the juices in your pie filling to thicken. You can combine this variety with Golden Delicious apples for less tartness.

Golden Delicious: This variety has a thin skin (peel) which allows you to ship the peeling if desired. They have a mellow, sweet flavor and gets very tender when baked.

Pink Lady or Honeycrisp: These two varieties have a tart-sweet flavor and a firm texture, so they’ll hold there shape when baked whole. These are also very good for use in pies and tarts.

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Pizza Popcorn

Here is a recipe that combines two foods that are enjoyed by many people, pepperoni pizza and popcorn.

1 (8 oz.) pkg sun-dried tomatoes, not packed in oil
2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
4 tsp. garlic powder
¼ c nutritional yeast
1 (3.3 oz) pkg microwave popcorn
3 Tbsp. melted butter or olive oil
1/3 c sliced pepperoni or mini pepperoni

To make tomato seasoning: In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast. Pulse 1 minute, until smooth. Transfer mixture to a resealable container until ready to use.

To make the popcorn: Microwave the popcorn according to package directions. In a large bowl, combine the popped popcorn, melted butter, pepperoni, and 2 Tbsp. tomato seasoning. Toss to coat. Add an additional 2 Tbsp. tomato seasoning and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

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Scoville Scale and Handling Chili Peppers

Back in 1912 chemist Wilbur Scoville developed the ‘Scoville Scale’ which measures the heat produced by chili peppers. We probably all know that peppers vary widely in their level of hotness. Sweet bell peppers serve as a threshold with a zero rating, jalalenos go as high as 8,000 and this year we found the variety Trinidad which has a 2 million Scoville unit rating.  I don’t care how adventurous of a pepper eater you are, Trinidad turns up the heat as far as I am concerned!

It’s common knowledge that removing the seeds, which contain most of the heat, and veins will tone down the heat. No matter which peppers you choose, be sure to handle them with care. Rest assured that even the pros wear rubber gloves when dicing and slicing peppers. Taking it one step further, do as native cooks have done for centuries, coat your hands with oil before handling hot peppers. Even using these protection methods, be sure to wash your hands and arms with plenty of hot soapy water after working with any hot peppers before touching your eyes, face or any other vulnerable body part(s).

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Finding Jesus

A local church held their winter revival meeting last week which reminded me of this story.

A man is stumbling through he woods, totally drunk, when he stumbles down a riverbank and bumps into a preacher who is baptizing people. The startled preacher turns around and is overwhelmed by the smell of alcohol. He asks the drunk, “Are you ready to find Jesus?”

The drunk answers, “Yes, I am.”

So the preacher grabs him and dunks him in the water. He pulls him up and asks the drunk, “Brother, have you found Jesus?”

The drunk replies, “No, I have not found Jesus.”

The preacher shocked by the answer, dunks him into the water for a little longer. He again pulls the intoxicated man out of the water and asks, “Have you found Jesus?”

After not getting an answer, the preacher is at his wits end, so he dunks the drunk in the water again, but this time holds him down for about 30 seconds. When the drunk begins kicking and waving his arms and legs, he quickly pulls him up. The preacher again asks, “For the love of God, have you found Jesus?”

The drunk wipes his eyes and catches his breath and says to the preacher, “Are you sure this is where he fell in?”

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A Way to Sweeten and Purify Water

Imagine you are out in nature hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, chasing big foot or for any other reason and loose track of time. Darkness is fast approaching so you find a less than desirable camp location that has a slough, swamp or pond nearby which has an unpleasant odor. It’s the only water source and you need to hydrate and replenish your water supply. What do you do?

One way to sweeten and purify the water is to drop several bits of charred hardwood from your campfire into the boiling pot of water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Usually this method will do the job. You can then skim away most of the foreign matter, and then either strain the water by pouring it through a clean cloth, or if time permits and you have extra utensils, allow it to settle out before using.

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Pumpkin Cheddar Grits

Grits are a staple in most pantries in the Southern and mid-Atlantic states. Those who say that grits are bland haven’t tried this recipe.

3½ c water
¾ c grits
½ tsp. salt
¾ c grated Cheddar cheese
½ c canned unsweetened pumpkin (may substitute pureed sweet potato or squash)
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring water to a boil over high heat. Stir in grits and salt. Reduce heat and cook according to package directions. Add cheese, pumpkin, and pepper. Cook until cheese in melted, about 2 minutes.

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Tickle Me Elmo

Minnesota is known for its lakes and the excellent fishing that goes with them. Most people do not know that there is a factory in northern Minnesota which makes the Tickle Me Elmo toys. The toy laughs when you tickle it under the arms. Lena is hired and reports for her first day promptly at 8:00 am.

The next day at 8:45 there is a knock at the personnel manager’s door. The foreman throws open the door and begins to rant about the new employee, Lena. He complains that she is incredibly slow and the whole line is backing up, putting the entire production line behind schedule. The personnel manager decides he should see this for himself, so the two men march down to the factory floor. When they get there the line is so backed up that there are Tickle Me Elmos all over the factory floor and they are beginning to pile up. At the end of the line stands Lena surrounded by mountains of Tickle Me Elmos. She has a roll of plush red fabric and a huge bag of small marbles. The two men watch in amazement as she cuts a little piece of fabric, wraps it around two marbles and begins to carefully sew the little package between Elmo’s legs.

The personnel manager bursts into laughter. After several minutes of hysterics he pulls himself together and approaches Lena. “I’m sorry,” he says to her, barely able to keep a straight face, “but I think you misunderstood the instructions I gave you yesterday. Your job is to give Elmo two test tickles!”

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Pepparkakor

Here’s a new offering for a lot of you to add to your holiday cookies and treats baking.

2 sticks butter, softened
1½ c sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbsp. molasses
3¼ c flour
1 tsp. ground cardamom
3 tsp. cinnamon
3 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. cloves
2 tsp. baking soda

Cream the sugar and butter, then add the egg and molasses. Sift flour with spices and baking soda to combine, then stir into sugar mixture to make a very stiff dough. Form into long rolls and chill until ready to bake. Either slice thinly or roll on a floured surface, using cookie cutters to make gingerbread men or other shapes. Bake in a preheated 350º oven for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on size of cookie. Cool on wire rack and decorate as desired with icing made of 1 egg white combined with 1½ c powdered sugar and ½ tsp. vanilla or other flavoring.

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