Thursday, March 29, 2012

Good Night, Mr. Scruggs, and thank you for the biscuits

We were sorry to hear the news that Earl Scruggs passed away yesterday; as a family we are big fans of Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys, as well as Scruggs on his own after the split. Emily had hoped he would hang on just a few years longer so she could hear him play live! She became a huge fan of the whole band when we started watching the Flatt & Scruggs show in Netflix last year. Here's a short clip of Earl in prime form:

The Flatt & Scruggs show (which was one early version of the Grand Old Opry, sponsored by Martha White Flour) is fantastic -- I'm not sure how much of it is actually available, but there are several volumes available on amazon, and the first 8 volumes are streaming on Netflix.

But to be honest, the biggest impact Earl Scruggs had on our household is in the kitchen. We heard that a biscuit recipe of his had been printed for many years by Martha White, and I finally tracked it down in their cookbook. We made it just for fun...but it actually is the best recipe I have ever used -- just look at the results!

Earl Scrugg's Biscuits

Biscuits are a regular feature on our table; sometimes as a side but honestly, most often as dinner (with sides of homemade sausage and a lot of honey and syrup.)

Earl Scrugg's Biscuits

The recipe has been replaced on their site with a new version that uses crisco and is now just called "famous" biscuits so here's how I make it:

Earl Scrugg's Famous Buttermilk Biscuits

First, melt 2 T of butter and set aside, and preheat oven to 450F

You will need 2 cups Self-Rising Flour OR
2 cups flour + 1 T baking powder + 3/4 t salt
To that add 1 t sugar and whisk (or pulse in a food processor)
Add 1/3 cup butter, chilled and cut up and either pulse in processor or cut in with pastry cutter until the mixture looks mealy.
Add 1 c buttermilk and stir in until it's shaggy looking. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead until smooth (don't be afraid to sprinkle extra flour in there); roll out to 1/2" and then cut into rounds. Place on baking sheet and bake in oven for 12-15 minutes. When golden brown, remove and brush with melted butter. Put on some Foggy Mountain Boys and enjoy.

Friday, March 16, 2012

spring is springing


The trees are budding, the bulbs are blooming, and spring is coming to the garden. Which is great except....I pulled out a garden journal I kept with Emily in 2009-2010 and this is what our garden looked like those years around April 10th. Hopefully this all just means a very early spring and not a fake trick spring followed by a freeze that kills it all.

pachysandra blossom

Just to be safe, we're taking it easy, not planting any seeds yet, just cleaning and preparing things and enjoying what's going on. And one thing I'm doing is sorting out the seeds, records and so on that we have. Last week I stumbled across a mention of MyFolia, a garden tracking site (that's totally free and prettily designed). I set up an account and I'm slowly adding in whatever info I can find on our existing plants -- I think it's going to be a big help in the long run! Even if all you do is plant a handful of containers, it's worth checking out.

Here's to happy planting!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Girl Scout Birthday Cookies!

Last Girl Scout post today, I swear! We made Birthday cookies for the day, using this shortbread recipe from Sweetopia, my vintage Girl Scout trefoil cookie cutter and the vanilla glaze we used on the Bloody Oreos. So pretty!!

girl scout birthday cookies

girl scout birthday cookies

I'm not sure I'm loving the taste of the shortbread, by the way. But it does make for a perfectly shaped cutout and the texture is as meltaway as promised.

Now we're off to work on a Brownie badge and get ready for the virtual Promise Circle tonight -- at 7:12 pm EST Girl Scouts and alumnus will be saying the promise together all over the world. Exciting!

Girl Scouts Birthday Gallery

The gallery of Life Magazine photos I linked to in the last post has some great photos, all from 1952. Here are a few more of my favorites:

Probably not an approved Girl Scout method of getting dishes down.

"I looked in the water and saw...myself!" The Brownie ceremony is still done the same way today.

A Brownie troop having snacks on an excursion. I want popcorn in a devilcat box!

OMG. That poor cat. How it is not freaking out I can't imagine.
There are tons more, including scenes you'd expect from 1950s scouts (camping, toasting marshmallows, friendship circles, cookie sales, lots of saddle shoes) and some you might not (martial arts, girls running for a train, and a Boy Scout/Girl Scout social). Worth checking out if you're interested in Scouts, or you just enjoy candid photos from long ago!  All taken in February 1952 by Edward Clark, © Time Inc.

Happy 100th Birthday!

How cute is this 1950s Junior Troop? From a gallery of Life Magazine photos by Edward Clark.
Today is the 100th Birthday of Girl Scouting in the US -- Emily is a 3rd-generation Girl Scout and proud of it; I was a Girl Scout, a Leader and am currently an Independent Scout Mentor, and my mother was both a US Girl Scout and a Girl Guide in the UK. We are not a dyed-green all-scouts all the time family, but it's obviously been an important part of our lives. Happy Birthday, Girl Scouts, and here's to 100 more great years!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Happy Girl's and Ghoul's Day!

March 3rd is Girl's Day in Japan, and we've celebrated it every year since Emily was born, usually by going to Mitsuwa in NJ and having lots of food and fun. This year we had a special guest girl to celebrate with us (and we let our boys come as well) and I think it was the best one yet -- in no small part because we also celebrated Ghoul's Day that evening! Girl's Day is also the Doll Festival and all three of us are huge Monster High fans -- so Emily had the idea to have a spooky doll-related party as a surprise for everyone. We made everything a day or two ahead of time and hid it, and after resting up from our day out on the 3rd we had some spooky fun. The highlight, of course, was the food:

ghoul's day:  party food!
Ghoul's Day party food!
We made the official drink of Monster High, Ghoulia's Ghoul Juice -- it's a recipe you can win on the website by playing a game (or just look up online). Looking at the directions, I realized it was just lemonade with food coloring added, and a bit of baking soda thrown in for fizz. So I just used our normal lemonade recipe and colored it bright green. No gummy eyeballs were to be found in March, so we just used maraschino cherries -- and skipped the fizzy baking soda part.

ghoul's day: ghoul juice
Ghoulia's Ghoul Juice (a.k.a. bright green lemonade)
Bloody Oreos were next on our list -- originally I meant to use some leftover red candy melts, but they never really melted (and to be honest, I think that stuff is gross). We were almost out of time but I found a recipe for a glaze that worked perfectly (1/3 c butter, 2 c powdered sugar, 2 t vanilla and 2-4 t hot water -- melt butter, add everything else and whisk until smooth). We colored it bright red and drizzled it on our cookies and came up with this:

ghoul's day: bloody oreos
oreos dripping with vanilla sugar blood
Seriously cool, and tasty as well! But the coolest looking snack had to be our Brain Puffs, based on a snack that the zombie girl, Ghoulia, has in her slumber party version. Emily thinks that popcorn looks a lot like brains, and I vaguely remembered saving a clipping from a 1960s magazine for making colored popcorn. I never did find the clipping, but luckily I remembered jello was involved and it turns out jello popcorn is a well known classic snack. I used cherry jello and this recipe, made human-sized boxes and we filled them with our Brain Puffs!

ghoul's day: brain puffs
I have to admit, the candied popcorn was a little sweet for us. It does keep well, but with a box of bloody oreos in the house to go for instead it didn't really have a chance. And without the box, the spookiness is pretty much lost. But the bloody oreos and ghoul juice will definitely be coming back for Halloween!

whoah, nellie!

Alright, the rss feeds have automatically switched....unfortunately they marked the last 25 posts as new and dumped them in Reader for me so I assume you all got them too. Sorry about that! First actual new post coming up....

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

well, hey there!

I'm in the process of transferring/merging my old movable type blog to a shiny new blogger version of itself. The blogger version is here for now, but shortly will be found at Well shortly as in, in a day or two. I think the feeds will move to the ones you see in the sidebar right now, but I'm not 100% sure. Hopefully this will make it possible for me to blog again, because wrangling with the old MT installation had just become more than I could bear. Sit tight, and see you here/there soon!
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