Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mamaw's Cooking

I made a mistake in last week's post. My grandmother (Mamaw) turned 86, not 87 as I had stated. Regardless, she looks great! Mamaw is the spunkiest 86-year-old you will ever meet.
Mamaw has countless amazing qualities, but one that most fascinates and inspires me is her cooking. She can turn out an incredible spread in record time. If we call and say that we want to come see her, she will have the table set full of food by the time we get there, a mere 3-or-so hours later. 
The meal she usually makes for us includes: fried chicken, pasta salad, green beans, corn, cornbread, rolls, and strawberries with fluffy white dip.
Even though Mamaw cooks such amazing food, she has never had weight problems, and is in extemely good health. I think it is because she stays active (hardly ever sits down) ,eats tons and tons of fruit and vegetables, and does not eat lots of fast food or heavily processed things. 
 Her recipes are difficult to duplicate (a pinch of this, a pinch of that and lots of love baked in), but here are some close duplications:
Mamaw's Fried Chicken
1) boneless, skinless chicken tenders 2) Oven Fry brand coating mix 3) vegetable oil
Follow directions on coating mix up until the part where you put it in the oven. At that point, fry the chicken in vegetable oil. Oven Fry is made to crisp in the oven. You can only imagine how cruncy and delicious it gets when fried!

Mamaw's Pasta Salad
1) one package of tri-colored rotini pasta 2) assorted vegetables (cucumbers, celery, bell pepper, etc.)
3) Wish Bone Italian Salad Dressing
Cook pasta. While pasta is cooking, chop vegetables. Drain pasta, and rinse in cold water. In a large bowl, combine pasta, vegetables, and salad dressing. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Mamaw's Strawberry Dip
1) one block of cream cheese  2) 1 jar of marshmallow cream
Blend until smooth. Chill for about 2 hours.        

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Macaroni Salad

Gayle's list yesterday of top 10 picnic foods didn't include one of our favorites: macaroni salad. I make macaroni salad for just about every event to which I need to take a dish. In fact, if I'm taking a dish to an event ramrodded by one particular friend, I take two containers of mac salad; I take one for the event, and one for her to stash in the refrigerator to take home. :)

It's very simple:

MA'S VERY SIMPLE MAC SALAD
cooked macaroni
hard cooked eggs, peeled and diced
celery, diced
salt
pickle relish
mayonnaise

Not too much mayonnaise. If it's too dry, add some relish juice. It should taste like everything except the mayonnaise, with just enough mayo to make it smooth but not enough to make it gushy.

Mmmmmmm....

Egg salad is good, too. MA'S VERY SIMPLE EGG SALAD is the same as mac salad, but without the mac and with more eggs. I also put some green olives in my egg salad. Holy moly, pretty good!

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, May 25, 2012

Top 10 Picnic Foods

According to TLC Cooking, here are the top ten picnic foods (with links to recipes):

10. Potato Salad

9. Fried Chicken

8. Watermelon

7. Pasta Salad

6. Pinwheel Sandwiches

5. Bread, Cheese, and Cold Cuts

4. Deviled Delights (doesn't limit itself to just eggs)

3. Ready to Grill

2. Lemonade

1. Fruit Salad

So what do you think? Did the people at TLC get it right, or not? I'm pretty much in agreement with them; however, I can't recall a single picnic I've been to where pinwheel sandwiches were served.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Off to Kentucky!

Sorry I offering so little in my post this morning. My girls and I are getting ready to leave for Harlan, Kentucky to celebrate my grandmother's (I call her Mamaw) 87th birthday. Mamaw has been cooking for most of her 87 years. Next week, I will honor her by posting some of her delicious recipes! While I am thinking about my Kentucky roots, I will mention that the History Chanel is running a Hatfields & McCoys mini-series beginning Monday, May 28. I cannot wait to watch this account of these Kentucky/West Virginia families who have sparked so many books and legends!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

CSA - Special Veggie Unit

No, that wasn't a typo. Although, this being a web site about food and mystery, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that the difference between CSI and CSA is a single letter.

A CSA, in case you don't know, stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It's a form of gambling, as are all forms of agriculture.

One locates a CSA member, one pays a lump sum up front (literal seed money), and one receives a share of the harvest. Sort of like sharecropping in reverse. The payoff usually begins in June, but we had a mild winter so ours has already begun.

We had some divine strawberries this month. We're getting kale, chard, broccoli, green onions and butterhead lettuce. All through the summer and into the fall, we'll have a variety of fruits, vegetables, fresh eggs and -- and this is the best part -- we know not what else. And so I bring the subject around to mystery. :)

If you live in the continental United States and you want to locate a CSA in your area (it might be too late to buy a share this year, but it might not be), visit the Community Supported Agriculture site. There's a search area in the right-hand sidebar.

If you live outside the continental United States and you know of a CSA site for your area, please leave the link in the comments for the benefit of future visitors.

Thanks!

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Food and Mystery

Want to try a little food with your mystery?
By Joyce Lavene

The connection between foods and mysteries seems to be growing stronger every year. There are mystery novels with pizza, coffee, tea, pie, cupcakes and wine. The list is growing. Readers seem to like to read about food with their dead bodies.

Why food?

Maybe it's the comfort idea. We want to read about fun foods while we try to solve who done it. Kind of like eating popcorn at the movies or brownies while we finish that Elizabeth Peters' book. It could be a natural segue for us to like a little food thrown in with our mysteries.

Or maybe it's the whole food industry right now. And by that I mean the myriad of cooking shows from sweet to challenging. Maybe it's the recipes that keep us coming back to mysteries that add food. It could be the sharing of different foods from authors who researched them specifically for each book. Food as a fun and interesting subject is at an all time high.

Not that food hasn't always been important to people. Just think, we're willing to try eating insects and poison things like cashews to put something different in our mouths once in a while. It's what keeps Thanksgiving going (in the US anyway) and keeps holiday magazine covers interesting.

Why not mysteries too?

How many readers are enjoying a food related mystery novel right now?

What food do YOU think makes mysteries finger lickin good?

Joyce Lavene
www.joyceandjimlavene.com
@author54 - Twitter
Look for me at Google+ and on Facebook!



Friday, May 18, 2012

Summery Drinks

This time of year just begs for lazy afternoons spent on a porch swing, or a rocking chair, or a park bench with a refreshing drink and an engrossing book. On this blog, there is no shortage of books! :) Here are some recipes for summery drinks:

Italian Lemonade


Ingredients
2 cups lemon juice, about 12 to 15 lemons
2 cups Basil Simple Syrup, recipe follows
2 cups cold or sparkling water
Ice
Lemon twists, for garnish

Directions:
Mix lemon juice, Basil Simple Syrup, and water together in a pitcher. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Pour over ice filled glasses and garnish with a lemon twist.

Basil Simple Syrup:
1 bunch fresh basil, washed and stemmed
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
In a saucepan combine basil, sugar, and water and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, 5 minutes. Cool, strain the simple syrup, and store in the refrigerator.


Ingredients
1 1/2 quarts cold water
6 high quality black tea bags
2 cups mango nectar
Sugar
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
Thinly sliced mango

Directions
Bring water to a boil, turn off heat add tea bags and steep until tea is dark, about 5 minutes. Remove bags, add mango nectar and add sugar, to taste. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Place in pitcher and add mint leaves. Pour over ice and garnish with mango slices.

 
Ingredients
3 cups ginger ale
4 tablespoons grenadine
4 tablespoons orange juice
3 scoops orange sherbet

Directions
Blend together ginger ale, grenadine, orange juice, and sherbet. Pour into ice-filled cocktail glasses. (To make a version with alcohol, add white rum.)

 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Sagging Middle

This morning I am going to speak to a high school Creative Writing class. One of the things I will cover is the "sagging middle." Not only is the sagging middle something that happens to us as we get older, but it is a often a pitfall to anyone who tries to write a work of any length.

Most writers have a dynamic beginning and ending but have a hard time keeping the middle of their book interesting. How many of us find ourselves reading the beginning and end of a book, and skipping middle chapters?

I first heard the term "sagging middle" in reference to writing at a writing workshop in North Carolina. Some advice I got at this workshop to avoid the "sagging middle" is to:
1) make sure every chapter in the book moves the story towards the end
2) have friends and editors who read the book note where they take a break from reading

Hint #1 cuts out unnecessary scenes and characters that make a book boring or confusing. This has been one of the most helpful pieces of advice I have ever received as a writer.
 
I compare hint #2 to watching a movie, and having to go to the restroom. When a movie is good and intense, you hate to have to get up and leave to go to the restroom. No matter how much Diet Coke you have drank, you wait till that lull when you feel like you will not be missing anything.

A good story is the same way. Readers do not want to put it down when there is a great deal of excitement, which is how most of the story should be. If someone notes taking a break, it might mean the story needs a little punching up in that part.

These are the hints I will share today. Hope they are helpful!        

Cheerios, My Dearios

Why has it taken me so long to grow up? Well, let's be honest, I'm speaking in a very limited sense, because I hope I never do, entirely.

Here's the thing: When I was young, I had The Cousin From Hell. I still do, as a matter of fact, but he lives in another state, and unclean creatures can't cross running water, so I'm safe.

Oh, I forgot, this is a post about how mature I am.

This cousin of mine is not actually a Spawn of Satan, he was just one of those jolly, hearty, manly boys like Tom Sawyer, always up to some mischief, the kind who are funny in literature but pure torment to a quiet, shy, introverted weakling like Yours Truly.

Yeah, I got over that.

ANYWAY, I used to go to this cousin's house before and after school because my single mother had a job. I dreaded the days we had Cheerios, because Cousin would take a soggy O out of his bowl, put it on top of whatever jar or bottle was on the table, and finger-flick it at me. Nothing in the world was funnier to him than the sight of my face with soggy cereal plastered on it.

I still feel sorry for poor little me because I did NOT enjoy it at the time. On the other hand, if somebody did that to me now, I would fall on the floor, helpless with laughter.

So, have I grown up or down?

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, May 14, 2012

Herb crusted squash

Herb Crusted Squash
By Joyce Lavene

Oh the joy of herbs! What would our foods be like without them? Imagine no garlic, no rosemary. What about onion and basil? We could eat but food would be much blander.




This week I have a wonderful recipe for herb crusted squash that makes the plain squash divine. My character, Peggy Lee, in the Peggy Lee Garden Mysteries, is a lover of herbs. She is also a vegetarian, like me, so the recipe is for squash instead of chicken.

Peggy Lee is a forensic botanist who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina where she also runs her garden store, The Potting Shed. Her husband was a Charlotte Police detective who was killed in the line of duty. Her job with the police is to help identify organic substances found on the clothes and the bodies of homicide victims. These can sometimes help the police find the criminals who have committed these crimes. Her specialty is botanical poisons.

Peggy is an avid gardener, also like me, who loves plants of all kinds. She can't stand to see a ficus that isn't getting enough light in an office. And she has a large summer garden - which takes us back to squash.

This recipe for squash is healthy and satisfying without pan frying. It's best with fresh garden squash and herbs but is very good with the store-bought variety too. Just in time for summer gardens!

Herb Crusted Squash

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
5 Tbsp. basil
5 Tbsp. parsley
1  Tbsp. rosemary
1 large yellow squash, slice horizontally

Mix breadcrumbs with herb blend in flat-bottomed bowl. Use brush to cover both sides of squash slices with olive oil then cover in breadcrumb herb mixture. Spray baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray then place squash slices on the pan. Cook on 425 degrees for about 10 minutes. Crust should be lightly brown and crispy.

Enjoy!


The Peggy Lee Garden Mysteries
By Joyce and Jim Lavene
www.joyceandjimlavene.com
Twitter: @author54
Facebook: JoyceandJimLavene

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day Cakes

Don't forget Mother's Day is this coming Sunday! You still have time to make Mom a great looking cake, even if you aren't a very experienced decorator. Here are a couple of ideas:

Swirls Unfurled Cake

Now according to the fine folks at Wilton, you need to make the bow for this cake two days in advance. So if this is the one you want to make, you'd better get started! Just click on the link for instructions.

Chocolate Cream Cakes

Doesn't this look yummy?! Take your mother back to the days of Ding Dongs or Ho-Hos with these individual cakes.



Happy Mother's Day! 



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Week

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week. If you know a special educator, take a little time to do something special for them.
The PTA at my daughter's school has done an excellent job of organizing a week of great food for our teachers. Here's the schedule:
Monday-A local restaurant donated biscuits. Parents brought breakfast casseroles, bagels and other breakfast foods
Tuesday-A restaurant donated breadsticks and salad. Parents brought slow cookers full of soup to create a "Souper Buffet".
Wednesday-Parents brought finger foods.
Thursday-Parents will bring desserts.
Friday-No school, which is the greatest treat!

As a former educator, I know how nice it is to have food brought in. Teachers generally get such short lunches that it is impossible for them to ever leave school grounds for a meal. If teachers have meetings, club, or coaching duties after school, they may very well not have the opportunity to leave for dinner either.

Honor your favorite educator with a little treat this week. It will surely be appreciated!
   

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Keen on Quinoa

What da heck is quinoa? How do you even pronounce it? You say KEEN-wah. It's so good to say when your irritated. Say it with a fake British accent, very high-pitched and shrill on the first syllable and deep and growly on the second. Say it with me: KEEEN-wahhh. Doesn't that do you good?

Here is what Vegetarians in Paradise have to say about quinoa. Briefly, it's a seed that's eaten like a grain, native to Boliva and Peru and that general neighborhood. I've gotten onto it in the past couple of years. It's pretty good, and it's way cool to cook because it goes from seedy to really pretty. Most of it turns translucent, but it has a white rim.

Here's a picture of how I usually cook it. I wash it and toast it and add water and veg boullion and some onions and sweet peppers and turn it down and cover it and steam it for about 20 minutes.


Quinoa is supposed to be highly nutritious, but I eat it because I like the taste and texture and looks of it. I also like to say it. If I get tired of saying "quinoa", I remember that Vegetarians in Paradise say, "Eight to nine thousand years ago, Bolivian natives living in the Lake Titicaca area began to cultivate quinoa." If saying, "The quinoa of Lake Titicaca" doesn't make you laugh, you need to up your medication.


Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, May 7, 2012

Strawberries and the South

Strawberries and the South
By Joyce Lavene
The Sharyn Howard Mysteries

I'd like to just say how happy I am to be here writing blogs for the Fatal Foodies. Mysteries seem almost incomplete without food and good cooking - especially Southern recipes!

I write with my husband, Jim, and our first mystery series was the Sharyn Howard Mysteries. The stories are about a woman who becomes the sheriff of a small town after her father, the past sheriff, is killed in a robbery. Though she'd always planned to be a lawyer, she found out she was good at being sheriff and she kept the job through 12 adventures that we enjoyed writing.

The books are now available in mass market from Harlequin. And there were plenty of opportunities in the stories to indulge in finding some great Southern recipes. Jim and I were both raised by Southern mothers who'd married Northern fathers and their cooking was one way they kept their homes alive in their hearts.

At this time of year, strawberries are on everyone's mind. The moment they pop out in the spring with their fragrant flowers and their juicy berries, we are all just waiting to try new things with them. And if you have never picked and eaten fresh strawberries, you are missing a treat!

So here's Strawberry Pudding, a recipe my Mom made when I was growing up. I hope you enjoy it!

Strawberry Pudding
1 quart strawberries: cleaned, stripped of their green tops, and sliced
2 cups vanilla pudding (1 large package) - better to use the kind you cook so you can make it thinner
1 lemon pound cake - you can make it yourself or buy it from the store (I always get mine from the store)
whipped cream

If you've made banana pudding before, this is very similar. Start at the bottom of a medium, flat bottomed bowl with a layer of lemon pound cake. Add a layer of strawberries next then another layer of lemon cake. Then strawberries again. This should alternate until the bowl is full or you run out of cake and strawberries.

Make your vanilla pudding a little thinner than normal with 1/2 cup extra milk. I always let mine cool a little after cooking, but not too much. The trick is to pour the vanilla pudding across the top of the strawberry-pound cake mixture so that it will all soak into it.

Once the pudding is finished, put it into the refrigerator to chill. I like to add whipped cream to the top before serving. You can see how this could be done a variety of ways. Jim's mother did something like this with almond cookies and strawberries. Yum! Both ways are  good! I feel sure Sheriff Sharyn Howard enjoyed something very similar to this during strawberry season - between catching bad guys!


www.joyceandjimlavene.com
Twitter: @author54
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Joyce-and-Jim-Lavene/54780722723
www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=23373


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Give a Warm Welcome to Joyce Lavene!



Say "hi" to Joyce Lavene! She's the newest member of the Fatal Foodies family, and she'll be posting on Mondays.

Joyce and her husband Jim live in North Carolina with their family.
They have been writing together since 1994 and published since 1999. Last year marked their 52nd book in print.They enjoy writing mysteries but are at home with fantasy, romance and non-fiction. The couple both work for their small, hometown newspaper, The Weekly Post. They are active in Sisters-in-Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

Their most current release is A SPIRITED GIFT, in which The Town of Duck, North Carolina is hosting a conference for local mayors when the tail end of a hurricane hits. As they dig out after the storm, a terrible secret is revealed – one of the mayors is found dead. While the killer tries to make it look like an accident that happened during the storm, Mayor Dae O’Donnell is convinced that the mayor has been murdered. What might be a simple investigation becomes difficult when her dead ancestor, the dread pirate scourge of the Outer Banks, Rafe Masterson, comes to ask her for help. Dae must keep all her wits about her to follow the killer’s trail using her unique gifts - and to help her pirate ghost find his way back home.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Tea Cake


In case you're looking for a lighter type of cake....


Ingredients
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/3 cups flour
8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup sour cream
Juice of two lemons
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan.
In a small mixing bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the sugar, brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 4 tablespoons butter, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Mix until the topping is incorporated. Using an electric mixer, cream the remaining sugar and butter together. Add the egg, 1/2 and 1/2, sour cream , and lemon juice, blend until smooth.
In a mixing bowl, sift the remaining flour, baking powder, salt and remaining cinnamon together. With the machine running, slowly add the flour until all the flour is incorporated. Fold in the blueberries and lemon zest.
 Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the topping on top of the batter. Bake the bread for about 50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Slice and serve.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Is Oatmeal the new Kale?

Kale is hot! To be more accurate, it's hot, steamed, roasted, toasted, covered in chocolate and blended into  smoothies. For quite some time, Kale has been celebrated for its versatility and health benefits.

Although we have always know that oatmeal is a healthy food, it seems like it has recently become a really cool thing to eat. Used to be, the word "oatmeal" conjured up images of a round box with a smiling Quaker. The image was wholesome and pure.

Then, the instant, flavored oatmeal in pouches became popular. Varieties such as apple-cinnamon and maple-brown-sugar made for a satisfying, quick, hot breakfast.

Now, we are hearing about Scottish Oatmeal, Irish Oatmeal, steel-cut Oatmeal, even savory oatmeal dishes (cooked in chicken broth, with spices and vegetables added).If you are over-the-top cool, add Kale.

McDonalds is on the oatmeal train with their fruit-topped oatmeal to go, which I hear is delicious! Oatmeal is so popular that it now has its own month. Yes, January is National Oatmeal Month.

My pantry is never without a box of rolled oats and pouches of the flavored stuff. My latest oatmeal purchase is a box of Scottish Oatmeal. I find it to be a little chewier and heartier than any other oatmeal I have tried.

Last week, after watching, Braveheart for the first time, I imagined Mel Gibson and his warrior comrades eating Scottish oatmeal for breakfast. It seems like the kind of warm, stick-to-your-ribs breakfast that could take the chill off a foggy morning in the Scottish highlands, and sustain men through hours of bloody battle.

 Before I digress so much that this post becomes as crazy as a rant from the afore mentioned Mel Gibson, I will share a delicious and simple idea for an oatmeal bar:

 Use your favorite preparation method and favorite variety of oatmeal. Set out any or all of the follwing oatmeal toppings:
dried fruit, fresh berries, chopped apples, diced peaches, cinnamon, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, toasted coconut, chopped almonds, pecans or walnuts, flax seed, vanilla yogurt 




     

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cooking On Saturday - Guest Post by Bodie Parkhurst

Bodie Parkhurst has a new book coming out, just in time for Mother's Day. It's called BENCHMARKS: A SINGLE MOTHER'S ILLUSTRATED JOURNAL, and it is gorgeous! It's also touching and heartwarming and heartbreaking and funny and grand.

But today, Bodie has agreed to share with us her secret recipe for her world-famous (as soon as I publish this post) Krusteaz Crumb Cake.

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~


Most Saturdays I don't cook. Come to that, most Sundays through Fridays I don't cook, either, which is both sad and strange, because as a Sweet Young Thing I loved cooking. But then I hit the Romantic Years, and spent them mostly trying to find my way to men's hearts by way of their stomachs. By the time that particular process had run its natural course my love of cooking had taken a sharp left hook to the jaw and collapsed to the mat.

And that's pretty much where it has remained, except for the odd moments where it has drifted up into a state approximating consciousness. This never happens at convenient or predicable times. Take, for example, last Saturday.

There was little or no reason to try to cook. The Boy was off at a track meet far, far away. I had been putting off grocery shopping for a month, and supplies were at historic lows. I wasn't hungry. I actually wanted to be writing on one of several book projects, or designing baby stuff for my CafePress store, or even just lying on the couch watching a horror flick.

Artwork by
Bodie Parkhurst
It was not the day for cooking. And so of course this was precisely the day that my Love of Cooking would sit up, shake its head, gingerly massage its swollen jaw, and ask brightly, "So, what're we doing today?"

So there I am, peering into empty cupboards and drawers, muttering to myself, checking expired "sell by" dates, and sniffing suspiciously. In the end, this is what I came up with.  And by golly, it was good. It was so good, in fact, that my son said, "There's no way you made this from scratch, Mom. It tastes too good. It had to come out of a box."

"I did, too, make it from scratch!" I shot back, insulted. "It's not out of a box. It's out of two boxes and a plastic tub!" Which it is. Here are the instructions:

1. Take one Krusteaz Crumb Cake mix and mix the batter according to the instructions.
2. Look in your "weird stuff" drawer and discover a box of butterscotch pudding mix from 2008 hiding at the back. (I really don't know if the expired status of the pudding mix makes a difference. I'm including it, just in case.) Pull it out, realize there is no milk, and pour it into the Krusteaz mix batter instead. Discover that now the batter is approximately the texture of clay.
3. Consider adding sour cream. Check the refrigerator and discover the sour cream is all gone except for one tablespoon in the bottom of the container, which has sprouted a rich and verdant crop of mold. Shudder, close the container, and shove it to the back of the refrigerator. (This is called Dealing With It Later, or Cleaning the Refrigerator in our house.)
4. Look at the cake batter again, pour far too much oil into a cake pan, and half-heartedly spread half of the batter (which now has many of the tensile qualities of asphalt) into the oil.
5. Realize that this just isn't going to work, and run some more water into the batter remaining in the bowl. How much water is anybody's guess. Just stick the bowl under the faucet and turn the water on and keep stirring until it looks more like cake batter.
6. Consider scraping the too-thick batter in the pan back into the now-thinner batter. Decide it's just not worth the trouble.
7. Go back to the refrigerator and stand with the door open while you consider your options. Shove the sour cream container a little further out of sight behind the expired bottle of pickles.
8. Discover a small tub of caramel apple dip from last Halloween lurking in the crisper drawer under a petrified orange.
9. Take a spoon and add dollops of caramel dip to the top of the batter in the pan. You'll have to scrape it off with your finger, so there's the added benefit of getting to lick the caramel off your finger between globs.
10. Take the crumb topping from the Krusteaz mix and sprinkle half of it over the thick batter and the caramel globs.
11. Realize you've really got a mess here.
12. Drop the remaining batter on top of the thick batter, the caramel globs, and the crumb topping.
13. Drop on more caramel globs, since it's hopeless anyway.
14. Sprinkle on the rest of the crumb topping from the Krusteaz mix. Your crumb cake should now look like a cross between a garden badly rototilled too soon after a rainstorm and a gravel road.
15. Put the mess into the oven and bake it for fifteen minutes more than the Krusteaz box recommends. (It'll still feel raw, but probably it's all that caramel).
16. Take it out and eat it hot and slathered with butter, if you don't care about your arteries, hips, waist, or heart.
17. Listen in surprise as the House Leroy raves, and your son refuses to believe that you actually made this, from scratch, or scratch-ish.
18. Know in your heart that the secret to this recipe is that there is no such thing as too much caramel.

So there you have it, folks. You heard it here, first.

Bodie is also an artist, and it's her beautiful artwork that graces BENCHMARKS. She also has a line of CafePress products so adorable it makes me want to have a baby. My doctor says that, if I manage it, I should put a candle in the window because, "the last time anything like that happened, three wise men came from the East."


Benchmarks/amazon (for both hard copy and Kindle:)

Benchmarks Baby Stuff

Bodie will be visiting my blog tomorrow with another recipe.

Marian Allen