Hand-made Steamed Milk?

Another double post day…

The Republic of Tea dropped a tempting recipe in my inbox this week.  


Photo from RoT

Chocolate Candy Cane Tea Latte         


  • 6 oz fresh, filtered water
  • 2 Republic of Tea Double Dark Chocolate Tea Bags
  • 6 oz steamed milk or milk substitute
  • The Republic of Tea Agave Nectar (to taste)
  • 2 candy canes or peppermint sticks


  • Heat fresh, filtered water to a rolling boil.
  • Place each tea bag in a standard sized mug. Pour 3 oz. water in each mug and steep for 5-7 minutes.
  • Remove tea bags, stir in agave nectar. Top with steamed milk and garnish with a candy cane or peppermint stick.

Serves: 2

There are a few problems, easily corrected.  I am mostly a loose tea gal – THAT substitution is easy enough.  I don’t have their Agave Nectar either, but I’m guessing a mild honey or simple syrup would do nicely instead.

But steamed milk?  I do have an espresso machine, but it lives in a box, not even in the kitchen.   While my counter space isn’t too limited, I am a kitchen appliance junkie, so not everything can live in plain sight. 

Google to the rescue!   How to steam milk without an espresso machine.   Has anyone tried this?  (If you didn’t click on the link, the short version is, dump the milk in a container more than double the volume of the milk and SHAKE, then steam in the microwave.) 


... and she wonders why we LOVE peppermints?!

 I’m also thinking peppermint extract is the way to go, because a candy cane sitting out of a mug is an invitation to both of my dogs to lick, slurp, etc., especially since they also LOVE milk!

(Why yes, I am going to go home and drag out the espresso machine and try both methods, unless some of you foodies weigh in first and assure me that the shaken, not stirred method will work just as well.)

We are Thankful

We will have our regular Thursday posts tomorrow, but it’ll be big fun to write them with the fur-girls for a change.  However, a lot of you are already elbow deep in the holiday baking, and others already have house guests, so I wanted to get a somewhat timely Happy Thanksgiving out there!

The buffet

Un-garnished version from Christmas 2005

I’ll make my cranberry sauce tonight.  I’m terribly picky; I gagged a bit earlier this month when Sandra Lee suggested just buying the canned stuff because it’s so much cheaper and no one will know the difference.  Hello?!  You bet I will!   (And no, I’m not a big fan of Semi-Homemade, but it was on…) 

It’s a very simple recipe; just follow the cooking instructions on the bag of fresh crannies, add orange zest (or a teaspoon of marmalade if you’re without a fresh orange) while cooking.  Chill overnight, then garnish with finely chopped pecans or walnuts.

A hint on zesting…  It really is more of an art than one might think.  Do NOT add pith – the white stuff.  It’s bitter!!   I actually use a micro-grater and then just add a few pretty “curls” of zest to the top, along with the nuts.

I had planned a lovely pumpkin bread pudding for dessert, but the Knight announced this morning that he and his brother require their grandmother’s strawberry cake.  Oh boy.   It’s not always fun being the keeper of the strawberry icing.  (That’s the secret…  Anyone can make the cake well enough.  I’m pretty sure real, fresh, unsalted butter, whipped to a frenzy is the key.)

The buffet

The popular corn pudding

Do you have go-to dishes that your family expects every holiday?  I’m also expecting a call tomorrow morning, asking me to make corn pudding.   Aside from my cranberry sauce, I’m a baker, not a cook.  (Thanks to MJ and her strange collection of holiday pot luck tables on Flickr!  Without them, I would have had to use stock photos from somewhere…)

Whatever you do, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  And if you’re not in the US, we’ll see you tomorrow for the usual posts!

The anti-medley

… and to think, when I awoke this morning, I thought I had nothing to blog about except a book.

So, we’ll start there, because frankly, the three topics for the day are so insanely different there’s no way to tie them together.

This morning, I finished Gunpowder Green, the second book in  Laura Childs’ Teashop Mysteries.  I can’t stand to read series out of order, but a swap pal long ago sent me this book, and I finally got around to reading it, mainly because there was nothing else in the house I cared to read.   I’ve ordered #1 & #3, despite Ruth‘s offer to loan me her copies.  While it’s not a literary masterpiece destined for high school reading assignments, it’s a fun little series with characters I know.

No, no… they’re fictitious, I’ve never been to Charleston (gasp with me!  I long to correct that faux pas in my life as a southern lady), but Theo, Hailey, Mrs. Dimple and Ford Cantrell are shades of people I know from my own life.  (As are other characters, but I do have other things to share with you today, payroll to do, etc.) 

I’ve finally accepted that just as most of last year I needed simple knits, I’m in a place where I’m not compelled to read the literary classics that I normally enjoy.  I’ve always insisted that it’s more important to just READ than to read from a specific list, so I guess it’s time to put my pages where my mouth has been for years.

What are you reading?  Is it in line with what you’ve historically liked over the years?

Item #2.  Dogs and auto insurance.  While Gretchen would have us believe that dogs and cars don’t mix, dear Barbara emailed me yesterday to share a tidbit she’d found in an insurance policy, and Sue took the ball and ran with it.  Do visit Dogs ‘n More and let us know if your auto insurance offers any coverage for your pets, will you?

photo borrowed from Moveable Feasts

Last, but hardly least, my weekend plans have taken on a life of their own this morning.  I was thinking that I just had to deal with the dreaded taxes and a little shopping, until I was tempted by THIS post and recipe.  All the ingredients are my kitchen, and we do have help coming to work on the shed (finish?) tomorrow…

photo borrowed from Modern Day Ozzie & Harriet

Because of my metabolic issues, I need protein with every meal, but most especially in the morning if I’m having a pastry.    Luckily, dear Marjie anticipated my need and posted a recipe for a crustless quiche for a manly crowd.  I’ll be swapping homemade sausage for the beef… 

And simply because I can’t resist any type of cheese straw or cheese biscuit, I hope to have the stamina to make THESE cheddar thumbprints.

What plans do you have for your weekend?

Cheesy Questions

We interupt the parade of finished objects to discuss something near and dear to my heart – macaroni and cheese AND Thomas Jefferson and Monticello.

I love Good Eats and Alton Brown, but when he gave TJ credit for inventing macaroni and cheese or at least for bringing it to the USA, I was almost motivated to put down my knitting and prove him wrong, then and there.  Instead, I will direct you to a page of Monticello’s own site, which notes that the esteemed Mr. Jefferson did no such thing, but he did design his own pasta  maker.  Note, I said PASTA maker.  Ol’ Tom used the word macaroni to mean pasta,  period.

Here’s his recipe, right from the website:

Jefferson did not introduce macaroni and cheese to America, nor did he invent the recipe. There is, however, a recipe for macaroni in Jefferson’s own hand:

6 eggs. yolks & whites.
2 wine glasses of milk
2 tb of flour
a [?] salt
work them together without water, and very well.
roll it then with a roller to a paper thickness
cut it into small peices which roll again with the hand into long slips, & then cut them to a proper length.
put them into warm water a quarter of an hour.
drain them.
dress them as maccaroni.
but if they are intended for soups they are to be put in the soup & not into warm water

So, there’s your history lesson for the day, and if you now crave mac ‘n cheese, well… misery loves company.

Now that we have THAT out of the way, Jessi played 20 questions on her blog, and since I thoroughly enjoyed reading her answers, I’m considering myself tagged.

1. Explain what ended your last relationship?

Um… friends.  Three very good mutual friends finally came forward to let me know… stuff.

2. When was the last time you shaved?

Honestly, isn’t that insanely personal?!  Luckily, I can say yesterday…

3. What were you doing this morning at 8 a.m.

Smooching Sissy on the nose and letting Gretchen lick me in the face.  

Why yes, I am supposed to be at work at 8 am, but ever since these two beautiful dogs arrived in my life, I’ve been getting later and later.  

4. What were you doing 15 minutes ago?

Good question.  Emailing?

5. Some things you are excited about?

OBX, baby!  Can’t wait.  Wrapped up in there is time with our brother inlaw and his family, dinner at The Black Pelican, the new Knitting Addiction location, and SO much more.

See the Sissy purple on the right?! Crocuses!!!

Spring flowers.  My crocus are going to be waving at me when I get home and I’ll get a better photo then.  (Note to Jessi:  See?!  I can remember that my phone has a camera!)

Toes showing!  As much as I love my handknit socks, I love warm weather and bare toes.

6. What is your favorite flavor of JELL-O?

None.  Can’t stand jello or its American pudding cousin.

7. Your prom night, what do you remember about it?

I fell asleep on the way home from my junior prom.  Need I say more?  I was so impressed it was my ONLY prom.

8. Do you have any famous ancestors?

Nope.  There was a rumor that I was related to Robert E. Lee, but my research doesn’t support it.

9. Last thing received in the mail?


10. How many different beverages have you had today?

Coffee, tea, water…

11. Do you ever leave messages on people’s answering machine?

Voicemail?  Do people still have answering machines?  And yes.  Generally if it was important enough for me to dial, I’ll leave a message.

12. Do you draw your name in the sand when you go to the beach?

Pick up the crab shell and turn your head counter-clockwise Gretch...

With what?  The camera, or Gretchen’s leash?

13. Any plans for Friday night?

Not yet. 

14. Do you like what the ocean does to your hair?

I sure do.  That’s what hats, silk scarves and hair clips are for.  (Okay, no.  I hate the way it frizzes, waves and otherwise finds interesting ways to stick out, but that’s what the beach is all about!)

15. Have you ever received one of those big tins of 3 different popcorns?

Sure.  Fred figured out how to knock it over and have a popcorn buffet, so we had to ask people not to give them to us.  I’m positive Sissy would be into it in record time.

16. Do you re-use towels after you shower?

Sure.  To quote the Knight, “You’re clean now, aren’t you?!”

17. Describe your keychain(s)?

Which one?  I have my car key on the basset hound charm-thingee Nichole gave me after Fred died.  Some other keys are on the Lupine ring with Mugsy & Fred’s memorial dog tags…  I could keep going, but you get the point.

18. Where do you keep your change?

In my coin purse?

19. When was the last time you spoke in front of a large group of people?

How big is a group?  Public speaking doesn’t phase me, so it happens often. 

20. What kind of winter coat do you own?

Yet again, which one?  The Knight gave me a nifty hooded park for Christmas.  I wear a barn coat a lot.  I have countless fleece jackets.  I have a two long coats…

If you chuckled, you’re tagged.

Pie, anyone?

Frozen Peppermint Pie

Thanks to The Blond Duck, we’ll be celebrating National Pie Day tomorrow.  Sissy’s hoping for the peppermint pie from Christmas Eve, but that won’t be happening, even though she has  I have plenty of peppermint ice cream and peppermint candies on hand.

I don’t have a recipe, but that one was made as follows, per the Knight’s relation:

1 container peppermint ice cream, roughly one quart

about 20 peppermints, the striped kind

1 graham cracker pie crust (or I bet the chocolate version would be great, but don’t feed it to your dogs!)

whipped topping for decoration

Set aside a few whole peppermints and crush the rest.  Set aside 1/4 of crushed mixture for garnish. 

Combine softened ice cream and remainder of crushed mints.  Pour into crust.  Top with remaining mints & whipped topping.  Freeze for at least two hours. 

What’s your favorite pie?  Favorite recipe?  We’re very fond of pumpkin, pecan and from there, we become a his ‘n hers pie household.  I love chocolate chess and he loves lemon.  I have outstanding recipes for all of the above, so you’ll have to come back later to see what  fix!

We’re having a great ice-day today.  The whole pack has been very lazy, and it’s been great!

It’s been a hectic week.  Most of it has been good and/or fun busy stuff, but still, I’m delighted with the early start to the long weekend.  I ventured out last night and finally gifted that blanket, which I finished in August, for a September baby. 

February 2008

The two blankies live together now, with two adorable little boys.  If my friends have another baby, she (er, or he?) will also get a blankie at some point in the first year of her/his life, because every knitter loves to give a gift that is treasured, used, enjoyed and most of all, appreciated.  (Click HERE to learn more about the green blanket, or Rav-stalkers can find both there.)

Only other basset hound owners might get this, but Wednesday night, Sis just relaxed and let the Knight trim her toenails – ALL of them!  No one got scratched.  No one whimpered.   No one swore or huffed.  It was good.  It was very good!  For the newer readers, easy-going Gretchen has never been a problem.

What’s on tap for your weekend?  With the Knight being sick, I’m sticking close to home.   I need to do laundry, bake a pie or two, and maybe make more chicken soup…

Strong Women

Happy birthday, Alison!   May your amaryllises bloom and your hot chocolate be sweet.  I wish I could think of a clever pun to entertain you, but alas, my brain is very wrapped up in the local history nugget I just gleaned from a food blog!

Photo from Williams-Sonoma

Dear readers, THIS is why I blog.  I love local history and women’s history more than knitting, so imagine my delight this dreary, wet, frozen morning, when I stumbled upon unfamiliar local history while celebrating Gingerbread House Day!  (For those of you who don’t click on all my links, today is Alison’s birthday, but the blog post that spawned this one was written yesterday, as December 12th is the day of Gingerbread Houses.)

Meet Lottie Moon.  She’s a local, born and raised almost literally in my back yard, some 150 years ago.  I’d heard her name before, but only learned about her in earnest today, which I find rather upsetting, since I fancy myself somewhat of an expert on local women of historical interest. 

I think the reason I’d not heard more than her name is because the bulk of her fame is from her service as a Christian missionary in China, but she’s so much more complex than that.  Ironically, December 14th is her birthday, so perhaps I should have saved this post for tomorrow, but I’m just too darned excited!!

ETA:  Miss Moon was born December 12th.  There was one conflicting source siting the 14th, and of course, that’s the one I used. 

She was a linguist; she spoke at least a half-dozen languages and read Hebrew as well.  She was educated FAR beyond the norm for even a girl born to a wealthy, Virginia plantation owner.  (Yeah, I’m biased.  I happen to think that my home state has done education well from just about day 1, but still, educated women were a novelty up until about 50 – YES, FIFTY – years ago.)

In 1861, more than a century BEFORE UVA would admit women to its college, she earned one of the first Master of Arts degrees ever awarded to a Southern woman, from a now-defunct all-girls school, of course.

An older sister became a physician in the Civil War (!!), but Lottie helped her widowed (pre-war) mother hold onto as much of the family plantation as possible, through her teaching career.   Eventually, she did become a missionary, and from there, a cook book was born.  (You can read much more about that in the original link to the food blog above.)

Because we all know offering a cookie goes a long way to making a friend, here is a well-publicized version of Miss Moon’s cookie recipe.  (I find it very interesting that both Wikipedia and the host of Mission-related sites I found gloss right over her out-of-print cookbook.  Maybe that’s just me?)

Lottie Moon’s Plain Tea Cake Recipe
From the Web site for Woman’s Missionary Union (www.wmu.com): As a way to earn the trust of the people and show her goodwill, Lottie Moon made tea cakes for the children in her village in China. Once the children ate the cookies, they would take Lottie to their homes where she would share the gospel with their mothers. The children began calling Lottie “the cookie lady” instead of “foreign devil.”Plain Tea Cake
(As made by Lottie Moon)
Three teacups of sugar
One teacup of butter
One teacup of sour milk
Four pints flour
Three eggs, well beaten
Half a teaspoon of soda
Flavor to taste, roll thin, bake in a quick oven.

Adapted recipe:
2 cups flour
½ cup butter
1 heaping cup of sugar
1 well-beaten egg
1 tablespoon cream

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and mix well. Add the flour and cream. Dust a board with flour. Roll the dough very thin. Cut cookies with a round cookie cutter. Place on a buttered or nonstick cookie sheet. Bake at 475 degrees for about 5 minutes.

Do you have interesting women in your local history?  I’m simply delighted to have learned about Miss Moon.  I think for a couple of days anyway, she’s eclipsed my favorite Langhorne Sisters, five powerhouses from the western corner of my county.

Now, I really must get back to my knitting, if I stand a chance of finishing up those three projects for Christmas! 


Whew.  I need the week to recover from my weekend.  It started around 9pm Friday night, when our new Marine strolled into the firehouse!  I wish I had a photo for you, but I don’t.  You can go see Anita’s new Marine, who happened to be in the same platoon with ours.  It was great see him, all tan, lean and back to ma’amming me to pieces again.

He joined us Saturday night for a dinner already planned for our 4th Year dude at UVA.  “Blister” has been around for years, being a local who opted to attend the hometown college.  Luckily, while Blister won’t be running crew regularly for the academic year, he will still be around.   No pictures of him either… sorry.

Finally, a photo!   Saturday morning, I did make it to our guild’s vendor market.  I couldn’t resist these pretties.   Christina and her sister fire their own glass and create all kinds of beautiful pieces.  If you don’t want to wear their art, they also make windchimes and sushi plates.  To see more of their work, click HERE

After dodging tornado warnings and hitting all three Richmond yarn shops, I didn’t have time to make a dessert as I’d promised I would for Saturday night’s fete.  Good thing The Pampered Chef had introduced me to what I call my 10-minute to chocolate cake recipe.  (Again, no photo…   I was too busy knitting and listening to those boys  young men to remember my camera languishing in my purse!)

2779However, I do have a recipe.  You’ll need the Rice Cooker Plus, although I happen to know that the stoneware fluted pan will also work in the microwave too, but the times will vary.  (Disclaimer:  I do happen to be a Pampered Chef consultant.)

It’s easy, quick, moist and yummy.  Supposedly, this will work with ANY type of frosting and cake mix, but I’m too hung up on my almost instant German Chocolate version to try anything else.

YOUR COOKING TIME WILL VARY!   Microwaves are persnickity things.  Your wattage matters.  Whether or not you have a turntable matters.  It’s a little touchy, figuring out when the cake is done.  I will tell you this…  do NOT use a cake tester-thingee.  The spongy nature of microwave cakes wipes the thing clean.  The jiggle test doesn’t work so well either, so good luck, and try using a table knife…


“canned” frosting (I use coconut pecan)

one box cake mix (I use German chocolate)

oil, water and eggs

Directions:  Spread frosting on bottom of rice cooker.  Mix cake mix BY HAND, according to the directions on the box.  You don’t want all the air a mixer will create in the batter… trust me.  Pour batter over the frosting.  DO NOT use the lid for the rice cooker.  Cook for 7-10 minutes, on high, until done.  Let cake stand for a couple of minutes, and then carefully turn the rice cooker upside down on a plate. 

The cake will self-frost.   I recommend serving on at least a dinner plate sized piece, with some sort of lip to it, unless you like running, sticky glaze on your counters, table and hands.

If you don’t have a turntable in your microwave, you’ll want to turn the cake at least once during cooking.   If you use the stoneware, allow at least a couple more minutes of cooking time.

It gets rave reviews, even from professional cooks.

How was your weekend?