Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Stumps, rocks and fudgy pops

My co-workers asked me what I was doing for the 4th of July.

Co-workers: "What are you doing for the 4th of July?"

Me: "Digging rocks out of my backyard."

Co-workers: "Really? For five days?"

Me: "Yes"

When we bought our charming little bungalow, the backyard was shrouded by a blanket of white. When the snow melted, we were greeted by stumps, fountains (seriously), underground hoses (they're for irrigation, duh), and lots and lots of rocks. In the middle of the yard

Lots of rocks.

So two solid months of rock digging led up to this very special weekend, when the last of the rocks were finally cleared out of the middle of the yard (there are still plenty along the perimeter), and, in it's place, SOD!

As a part of this transformation, we were also forced to finally address the 5-ish maple stumps in the way. Like this doozy, for example:
Now those of you who have spent any time with Nancy or me lately know that stumps have been on our minds. So this was a pretty big weekend for us.

Here's the result of our weekend outside in 90+ degrees, digging rocks and stumps:
And I can think of nothing better after that than a homemade fudgy pop.

Homemade Fudgy Pops

  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 2 TB cornstarch
  • 2 TB cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 C. milk
  • 1 TB butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and milk
  2. Heat on medium, stirring constantly, until boiling and thick
  3. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla
  4. Pour into popsicle mold and freeze until firm
* Tip: to get them out of the mold, Nancy told me to pour hot water over the mold to let the plastic expand and release the fudgy goodness. I learned this the hard way.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Kitchen organization and visions of zucchini muffins

I'm a bit of a freak when it comes to kitchen organization. Take for example this shelf in the baking cupboard above. Yes, each item is poured into a clear glass container, and yes, Each clear glass container is labeled with a labelmaker.

What goes where is also exceedingly important. Everything has to be in a cupboard that's accessible to what you're doing. Cups next to the fridge, potholders in the drawer next to the stove, plastic baggies reachable with one hand to where I make sandwiches in the morning.

It took me five years to perfect the old apartment kitchen, and this one is twice as big with three times as many cupboards. I've rearranged twice already (much to Nancy's dismay), and I just finished the third installment. Admittedly, it's putting me in the mood to bake...

Record heat is the talk of the day on the Book of Faces, and all I can think about is hot, delicious zucchini muffins.

The thing is, there's a delightfully cool breeze coming through the kitchen window, it's reaching noon-time and still 74 out, and so while it seems crazy to voluntarily heat my kitchen to 375-degrees on the purported hottest day in five years, this run-on sentence is trying to say that I'm going to do it anyway.

Who could refuse this already defrosted shredded zucchini from last summer's bounty??

Zucchini Muffins
  • 1/2 C. applesauce
  • 1/4 C mashed banana (applesauce and banana can be substituted for 2 eggs)
  • 2 C. sugar
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 C. vegetable oil
  • 2 C. shredded zucchini, unpeeled, liquid squeezed out
  • 3 C. flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 C. chopped nuts (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 375-deg F. Whisk applesauce, banana (or egg), sugar, vanilla, and veg. oil together until well blended.
  2. Stir in drained zucchini. Add flour, baking powder, salt, soda, and cinnamon and mix until well blended.
  3. Fold in nuts, if desired.
  4. Turn into greased muffin tins and bake 18-25 minutes or until pastry pick comes out clean
** You can also cook the batter in a loaf pan to make a bread. In that case, bake 45 min-1 hour
Makes approximately 20 muffins