Archives for November 2011

Back From North Carolina

I’d like to tell you we were gone for two weeks without internet since that’s how long it’s been since I’ve blogged.

But that would be a lie.

I guess it took me a week to prepare to go to North Carolina.

Or not.

Mostly, November has flown by in a blur.

Granny flew in from Texas the week before Thanksgiving and we headed to a cabin on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

Here’s a pictorial from our week in Murphy, North Carolina…

Though not very high up in the mountains, the cabin was off the beaten path and lovely.

We were in a small cabin “neighborhood” of 17 cabins or chalets. Some people refer to them as luxury cabins or homes. I guess this is because some people’s definition of a cabin is a cement floor and an outhouse down the mountain by the creek where you draw some ice cold water to bathe in.

We have personally grown fond of a few more amenities and I’m not too proud to admit that. I’m all about running water, electricity and leather furniture. 😉

We arrived in shifts on different days since the college kids still had classes and two of them had to work. I heard too late that the basement bedroom had the best bed.

The Grunter and I arrived on Sunday and Scary Baby immediately challenged us to a game of pool. She and Granny and PhilBillPaul had already been shopping in town which is where she scored the sock monkey hat that she did not take off during the entire week. (Except to shower – I confirmed this.)

The dog boys were very excited to accompany us on vacation and enjoyed many walks up and down some rolling hills. It was excellent physical therapy for Dudley.

The darling twins arrived next and the dogs are always excited to see them.

The dogs haven’t had this much attention in a very long time.

We also ventured out for some scenic driving and Scary Baby was excited to see wildlife a chicken from our car.

It got more exciting when she squealed, “Are those cows loose in the road up there?”

Yes. The cows were obviously loose as I jumped out to snap photos just like city slickers do when they see cows in the road.

The Grunter said he didn’t want to go on a 4 hour scenic car ride. This is what he and his sister were doing just before the cow sighting.

Luckily, they were not asleep when we drove to Blue Ridge, Georgia in search of this cupcake shop.

Minutes before they closed, we snagged some of their very last cupcakes to bring back to the cabin. Four chocolate lava fudge (one might be missing), one apple caramel and one pecan pie cupcake. The Sweet Shoppe lived up to its name.

Of course we played euchre every single day. PhilBillPaul gets a little obsessed with it.

Sabu was there to help him. Not that he needs it because he is the Euchre King.

Dudley was not left out.

Side note: Notice Wizzy’s cell phone. It was almost a technology-free holiday. NO internet but if they stood in certain places they could still text and sometimes make calls.

Rachel bought a puzzle and introduced Scary Baby to her new obsession which is gluing the puzzle together after they complete it.

All in all, it was a good week away and in spite of some very loud bickering and competitive game playing, I do love when we are all together and I see the college kids becoming semi-adults.

When we are not fighting and talking ugly to one another, we laugh a lot.

I choose to remember the laughing.

Black Friday at Walmart which was really at 10:00 pm on Thursday was another adventure for the memory book. Sorry, no photos and my bruise is almost gone from some really aggressive pillow grabbing for Elizabeth while she scored a king-sized memory foam mattress top for us.

My favorite photo from the week…

Look, she took the sock monkey hat off in this one unstaged photo that PhilBillPaul captured.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving together. Thanks Granny, for enduring the Georgia Humpfreeze clan and spending time with us!

How did you spend your Thanksgiving? I hope you all spent time with the ones you love…

P.S. Should you ever want to explore Murphy, North Carolina, we’ve got the beat on a very affordable cabin and Granny gets a referral so just ask me for the info!

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Typo Tuesday ~ Google Peak

I had to bring it back.

I know, I know. Some of you love Typo Tuesday and others do not understand my sick fascination with typos that I find. I really can’t help it ~ it’s a gift.

Or a curse.

Whatever.

I really love my friend Google and consult with him daily. (I think Google is male?) I consider Google to be one of my smartest friends.

This screenshot came from Google Docs which is just one of the many services Google offers. If you haven’t used it yet, try it! Super easy and free. What’s not to love?

I was a little surprised that my friend Google doesn’t have a personal proofreader to catch things like this.

The screenshot was from last week so maybe they’ve fixed it by now. I hope so.

If not, they could hire me to proofread everything they do. They could send it all to me via Google Docs and I can proofread from home. That would be my dream job!

I’ll let you know if they call me…

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A Perfect Saturday

We had a quiet weekend at home.

WHAT?

Shhh.

Yes, it’s really true. A quiet weekend at home.

Such a rare and strange thing for us.

Saturday was pretty much a perfect day.

I almost forgot what we were suppose to do.

Luckily, I remembered…

  • Sleep in.
  • Not run errands.
  • Not drive anyone anywhere.
  • Make omelettes for lunch.
  • Have The Grunter join us at lunch after he worked an early shift
  • Bake chocolate chip cookies.
  • Make little bags of cookies for the college girls.
  • Watch Amazing Race with Scary Baby.
  • Wait for the soldier daughters to be released from their weekend drill.
  • Have dinner with darling daughters and a few of their college friends.

They actually planned this and invited us to dine with them.

Watch PhilBillPaul traumatize his darling Roger Leroy by playing a home movie for her friends.

It is a highlight tape of some of her best comedy from her middle school years that Scary Baby had enjoyed watching a few weeks ago.

Someday I’m sure she will let me post a portion of the video here on the blog.

I don’t think she’s ready for that yet.

This is the 2nd time he has done this.

The first time her brother had to hold her down.

The second time she and PhilBillPaul wrestled to the floor. Then her friend Ashleigh sat on her so everyone could watch the video.

I think everyone will agree she is very strong.

And funny.

Please come home again to visit – we really do love you, Rachel.

Dad says he is sorry.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Throwdown

We have loved our Chocolate Chip Malted Cookie recipe that we’ve been making for years and years taken from Taste of Home.

But I’ve stopped using Crisco almost completely and that recipe calls for butter-flavored Crisco. I banned margarine from the house about 5 years ago. It’s all butter in my baking now. Look at these healthy strides I’m making.

Let’s discuss the evils of white sugar another time, okay? I want to stay focused. This is about our new favorite cookie.

The recipe inspiration is from one that was seen around blogland in several places and you can check out the original recipe on The New York Times from 2008.

I’ve made them 3 times now and with some personal tweaking, they are now at the top of our favorites list!

The things we think elevate these to our new favorites:

  • Two kinds of flour ~ cake flour and bread flour
  • Coarse salt
  • Creaming the butter and sugar for 5 minutes
  • Three kinds of chocolate chips
  • Refrigerate dough over night before baking
  • Sprinkling with sea salt before baking

Scary Baby graciously allowed me to photograph her first cookie tasting.

Wizzy wasn’t quite as dramatic.

We love, love, love these cookies. They are fat and chewy and lightly crisp at the edges. The texture is exactly what I want in a cookie and I think the combination of two flours and refrigerating overnight are the keys to this perfect cookie!

Triple Chocolate Chip Malt Cookies

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1/2 cup malted milk powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar (can use light but we like dark)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips – mix a combination of dark, semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips

Optional add-ins: You can also add in 1 cup of broken pretzel sticks and/or 1 cup of caramel bits which turn them into another delicious cookie!

Mix flours, malted milk powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside. Cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Mix in chocolate chips.

Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours or frozen.*

To bake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Use small cookie scoop (or large if you want giant cookies and bake a few minutes longer) and place on cookie sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more.

Side note: The sea salt is optional. The Grunter and I love it. The others are lukewarm about it. The malted milk powder is also optional but we think it adds another subtle layer of flavor that we love. You decide.

*Frozen Cookie Dough Has Changed My Life

Don’t laugh at that. I have frozen cookie dough for years. Usually at holiday baking frenzy time.

What changed my life about freezing it is to scoop out the cookies and freeze into individual cookie balls first and putting in ziploc freezer bag.

Duh.

Shut up. I’m slow but when I learn something worth sharing, I share!

The prep time is totally worth it. Having bags in the freezer with cookie dough is great for all of us.

Baking just a dozen hot, fresh, homemade cookies after dinner is perfect. Really, is there a bad time to bake a dozen cookies?

Recipe inspiration came from a variety of sources. Look how this blog inspiration circle of life thing works:

My Baking Addiction inspired me to try the New York Times cookies AND led me to…
Goodlife Eats who taught me how to freeze cookie dough the right way and…
Leigh Anne inspired me to add pretzels and caramels to a batch of dough because she was inspired by…
The Diary of Dave’s Wife even though we all used different chocolate chip cookie base recipes.

Let me know if you make them. Or share your recipe if you have one that rivals this one.

These are the ones I put in the college care packages and I didn’t hear any complaints except from my family who squealed “Don’t send them all to other people!”

Which is why I’ve made two more batches.

And now I’m on to my pumpkin obsession…

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