Thursday, August 21, 2014

Canoe-Trip Banana-Butterscotch Brownies


I have a favorite recipe for Banana-Butterscotch Brownies.  In an April blog post, I provided a link to an article I wrote about them, where I had included the recipe.  Unfortunately, that article no longer exists on the web.  The good news is, I can now share that information here.  My family and friends love this recipe - and I think you will too!

Pan of brownies ready to be packed for a canoe trip!
It is fascinating how a recipe can become a family favorite. The first time I made these brownies, originally just called "Banana Brownies," it was because I had an abundance of overripe bananas.

Farmers, warm memories, and a new favorite recipe 


Years before I discovered this recipe, my grandmother gave me the National Grange Bicentennial Year Cookbook. "The Grange" is a National Fraternal organization, originally made up of farmers and was (according to the cookbook), the "very first organization of the country to give women an equal vote with men." My grandparents, dairy farmers, were faithful attendees of Pennsylvania Grange meetings; once or twice they invited me to accompany them. My cookbook invokes warm memories of my grandparents and of being proudly introduced to their friends. The original Banana Brownies recipe appears on page 188, and was submitted by Denise Smith, Sonora Grange, Grinnell, Iowa.

Floating brownies get renamed 


My children always liked these brownies. Then, my niece came to Montana for a visit. We packed a picnic and took her canoeing on the Jefferson River. The cooler held an assortment of sandwiches, fruit and beverages - and these brownies. Eaten chilled, on a hot summer day in the middle of a pristine river, they tasted like pure perfection. Their name was changed that afternoon to "Canoe Trip Banana-Butterscotch Brownies." I frequently make them for family, friends, team dinners, large parties, and always, for when we go canoeing.

"Canoe Trip" Banana-Butterscotch Brownie Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 
2/3 cup shortening 
  • 
1-lb box brown sugar (=2 1/3 cup) 

  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten 

  • 2 large ripe bananas, mashed 

  • 3½ cup flour 

  • 1 TBSP baking powder (2 tsp. if adjusting for high altitude)
  • 1 tsp. salt 
  • 
1 tsp. vanilla extract 

  • 1 cup chopped pecans 

  • 6 oz. package butterscotch bits 

  • Glaze (recipe follows)

Instructions:

  1. PRE-HEAT OVEN to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 10x15 inch (jelly roll) pan.
  3. Using a wooden spoon or electric mixer, cream shortening and sugar in bowl.
  4. Blend in eggs and bananas.
  5. Stir in dry ingredients, then vanilla, nuts and butterscotch bits.
  6. Spoon this mixture into prepared pan.
  7. Bake, about 30 minutes, until lightly golden.
  8. Spread with Glaze. Cut into squares while warm.

Glaze: 


  • 2 TBSP mashed banana
  • 1 ½ tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 ¼ to 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
Using a fork, mix the following ingredients until smooth and pourable/spreadable.
    With my minor alterations to the original recipe (published in 1977), this recipe may become such a favorite of yours that you may also change its name!

    Resources: 
Smith, Denise. ""Banana Brownies"" National Grange Bicentennial Year Cookbook. Montgomery, AL: Favorite Recipes, [c.1976]. 188. Print.
    Have you ever renamed a recipe because of a good memory associated with it?
    This article was originally published on Yahoo Voices on February 21, 2014, but Yahoo Voices was shut down, and rights for this content reverted back to me.  
    This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog.  Check them out!

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    The Sunshine Award Makes Bloggers Glow!

    Sunshine makes me happy
    and
    so does the Sunshine Award!

    There's just something special about sunshine - especially in Jamaica!
    I asked for a rain check on the Sunshine Award!
    On July 24th, Marie from NormalEveryDay Life nominated me for The Sunshine Award.  I was thrilled with the honor, but I asked if I could wait a few weeks to write the acceptance post. July and early August were busy enough already.  She graciously agreed - and now I finally have time to accept the award!

    A word of appreciation!
    Before I say any more about the award, I need to tell you about Marie's blog.  If you haven't paid a visit to Normal Everyday Life yet, you really should. Marie is a mother of five, and she blogs about motherhood and everyday life. Her blog is easy to read, and her posts are always entertaining and informative.

    How to make a blogger glow:
    As Marie explained in her post linked above, when a blogger receives the Sunshine Award, he/she then passes it on to other bloggers by whom they have been inspired.  Perhaps it is called the Sunshine Award because receiving recognition can make a person practically glow - as though bathed in sunshine!

    To further explain, I will (sort of) use words from a John Denver song (modified by yours truly!)
    Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy,
    Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry,
    A Sunshine Award upon my blog - it looks so lovely!
    I'll pass it on to others, and I'm here to tell you why...
    The rules of the award are as follows:
    1. Post 11 random facts about yourself
    2. Answer 11 questions about yourself from the nominating blogger
    3. Nominate 11 other bloggers to receive this award
    4. Write 11 questions for your nominated bloggers
    5. Let them know they are nominated!

    Once a blogger is nominated, and completes the above requirements, they may post this on their blog:

    The  coveted Sunshine Award Badge
    So, here goes. You may notice that the steps necessary to accept this award are similar to that of the Liebster Award. I will try not to repeat myself!

    11 (VERY) Random Facts About Myself:
    1. I am of below-average height.
    2. I have the ability to nap at any time of the day, ever since I worked night shift as a nurse.
    3. I live where temperatures are often below zero, F. - yet I really don't like cold weather.
    4. I love sunshine - which is why I like living where I do, as the sun comes out nearly every day.
    5. I once brought a baby chick home from elementary school, and I named him Eggbert.  Neighbors adopted him when he got big, because the intention was always to have a chick, not a chicken!
    6. I hate to vacuum, more than any other household chore.
    7. I don't like hard boiled eggs.
    8. My eyes are brown, but they seem to be getting lighter as I get older??
    9. I rode a school bus for nine years, then walked to high school.
    10. I may be the only person on the planet who cannot successfully grow zucchini!
    11. I am still trying to figure out how to use Facebook and Twitter ... 
    11 Questions for me to answer, from Marie:
    Why did you start blogging
    I had heard it was a good thing for a freelance writer to do, and I thought a blog would motivate me to write consistently.  I had no idea of what I was getting into - or just what a good idea it really was!

    Are you an early bird or night owl?
    I was a night owl up until I had kids.  Since I began to write, I have found myself staying up very late - and often still getting up early!

    Who is your favorite author?
    An unanswerable question.  I love many different types of books.  Perhaps my favorite author is whomever I am reading at the time.

    What is your guilty pleasure?
    It has always been ice cream!

    What is your all time favorite TV show?
    I used to watch ER and West Wing, but when those series ended, I stopped watching television.  I will occasionally watch a show just to be with my family, and I do enjoy movies, but like to spend my time in other ways.

    Name three things on your bucket list.
    1. Write a novel.  2. Organize our photo collection.  3. Clean out my closet.
    (I just shared part of my To-Do bucket list - not my Fun bucket list!  However, #1 is actually on both!)

    What's your favorite way to relax?
    With a good book!  Floating on water with a good book or with family is the ultra-perfect way.

    Do you collect anything?
    Recipes. Photos. Tree ornaments from my travels. Memories (in written or photo form, so I actually remember them!)

    What's your favorite post on your blog and why?
    Another hard question.  I have had a lot of fun writing fiction short stories, including my latest, The Papalo Cure.  I don't really have a favorite, but I was very happy when my post on  7-8-14, The Best Excuse Ever, was selected to be featured on BlogHer.

    Do you enjoy appetizers or dessert more?
    Tough choice!  I love them both - usually more than the entree!

    What is your favorite season and why?
    It has always been summer - I love to be warm and I love sunshine!

    11 Bloggers I am Nominating to Receive the Sunshine Award:
    I have so many favorites - it was hard to only pick eleven! I narrowed it down a bit by deciding to only name bloggers I have not previously featured or nominated for other things. 

    These bloggers have helped me to make my blog better in some way - either by their blog content, blogging events they have hosted, and/or by commenting on my posts - some of which were the very first comments my blog received! 
    1. Delores from Under the Porch Light
    2. Diane from On the Alberta/Montana Border
    3. Mimsie from A Geriatric Grandmother
    4. Zaby from Zaby's Perspective
    5. Lily Leung from OneThousandandTwo
    6. Carol Graham from Battered Hope
    7. Lizzy from Your Cup of Cake
    8. Laurel Regan from Alphabet Salad
    9. Colette from Jamerican Spice
    10. Susan and Janice from 5 Minutes for Mom
    11. Romi C at Letters from the Land of Cherry Blossoms
    Note: Some nominees may have already received this award, and not everyone will choose to accept this award for a variety of reasons. I completely understand, and I hope none feel obligated to do so - I simply wanted to let them know I appreciate what they have done for me. 

    Many thanks to all the bloggers mentioned above, and to Marie for selecting me to receive this award!

    Here are the 11 Questions for my nominees:
    1. How long have you been a blogger?
    2. If you could give a million dollars to a charity, which one would you choose?
    3. What is your favorite meal?
    4. What is the last book that you read, or you are currently reading?
    5. Do you have a pet?
    6. Have you ever had a surprise party? Would you like to?
    7. What is your favorite holiday?
    8. How much time do you spend working on your blog?  
    9. How much of the time spent on your blog is when you are actually writing posts?
    10. What percentage of blogging time is spent on reading other blogs, commenting and replying to comments?
    11. How much time do you spent promoting your blog?



    What is your favorite type of blog to visit?

    This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog.  Check them out!

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

    Rocky Relationships Redefined: The Papalo Cure, Part 7

    A few weeks ago I began using the Words for Wednesday Challenge from Delores at Under the Porch Light to create a story, The Papalo Cure. Readers commented, requesting to know what happened to Grandpa after Maria got on the bus to South Dakota. I didn't know! The plot of this story is being directed by the weekly Words for Wednesday word prompt!

    Using the prompts, I have been adding to the story - and even I am surprised by the turns it has taken. Today, I am publishing the final chapter of this story.

    This week’s chapter can be read without background information, but I recommend reading the proceeding parts of this series first. Links for each previous chapter were supplied yesterday in my post, Cliff Hanger, and are also available on my FICTION page. This week's challenge words are listed at the end of this chapter and highlighted in bold in the story.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Water from an overturned glass pooled into a lake on the conference table

    "I can barely breathe, I am so anxious," Maria said to Mateo.  They were in a conference room of the Hilton Hotel, waiting for a representative from the oil and gas company to arrive for the meeting that had been scheduled.

    There was a knock at the door, and a beautiful young woman walked in.  She extended her hand, greeting first Maria and then Mateo.  

    "My name is Julia.  I have been working with your grandfather, Mr. Bedoya, regarding the purchase of his property by my company, PetroNation Oil and Gas. I understand you have some questions, which I may or may not be able to answer.  

    Maria said, "My grandfather has been ill, and we have been unable to discuss this matter with him.  You might be surprised to learn that the farm does not belong to my grandfather - but is the property of my grandmother, Mrs. Bedoya.  She signed a document stating that she sent us as her representatives and empowering us to make decisions on her behalf. She would like to stop the sale of the farm.  It has been in her family for generations - and she has no intention of losing it now."  Maria finished speaking, and grimly took the letter from her grandmother out of her purse and shoved it towards Julia.

    Julia said, "I think we should all sit down. Mr. Bedoya warned me that this sale was likely to stir up quite a tempest. He expected to be able to calm things down; but, he knew he was sick and he worried questions might arise while he was hospitalized. Your grandfather instructed me what to tell you, in the case that he could not. Let me explain." Julia paused briefly, gathering her thoughts.

    "Your grandfather is devoted to your grandmother.  I have never witnessed love quite like it.  He was willing to make himself appear a villain, to spare her embarrassment.  He cares a lot about you both as well. I assume his plot to repair your rocky relationship worked, or you would not be here together."

    Rising abruptly from his chair, Mateo accidentally knocked over his water glass, and the liquid formed a lake in the center of the table.  "Maria, this sounds like a scam," he said through clenched teeth. "I think we should go."

    "Perhaps, Mateo," said Maria. "But we have come so far - let's just hear her out."

    Mateo crossed his arms and remained standing, but agreed.

    Julia continued.  "Your grandfather, Mr. Bedoya, contacted my firm about a year ago.  He asked us to do some surveying to see if there might be obtainable oil or gas on his farm.  PetroNation has an oil well nearby which is producing copiously, so the farm does interest us. My job was to negotiate a fair price, and your grandfather and I had many conversations.  It was obviously very hard for him to sell the farm, which seemed odd to me as he initiated the sale.  During one conversation, he seemed so sad, I asked if he wanted to talk about it.  His motives - and his anguish became clear.

    "Your grandfather first made sure I understood what a remarkable woman your grandmother is, but then he told me that she has developed a gambling problem. She racked up a lot --"

    "NO" - Mateo said forcefully, "it was my grandfather who gambled."

    "-- of debt," Julia continued.   "Please let me finish Mateo, and then you can decide what is true.  Your grandmother kept her gambling obsession hidden for quite some time - she had incurred a huge debt before your grandfather discovered it. He spoke with her about selling the farm here in Mexico to pay the bills, but she refused.  Selling the farm and declaring bankruptcy are their only alternatives, however - and in either case they might lose the farm anyway.  Grandpa began the negotiations, hoping he could convince your grandmother that it was the right thing to do.

    "When your grandfather realized he was sick, he called and asked me to check to see if the herb papalo still grew on the farm. He explained to me about the rift between you two, and he came up with the plan of asking Maria to bring him papalo.  He was convinced that if you came to South Dakota Maria, and saw Mateo at the hospital, you could mend your differences.  Apparently that plan, at least, has worked."

    "He never even believed papalo would make him better?" Maria asked. She was so stunned by all that Julia had just said, she couldn't even decide if she should be angry. "I bet he even knew I had substituted watercress for the papalo, and just pretended that he was fooled. My plants had all wilted - it must have been just after you checked the garden for papalo Julia, that the sprinkler broke!  I can't believe this! 

    "But - I guess I do feel sort of badly. We both just assumed it was Grandpa who had the gambling problem Mateo heard our grandparents arguing about! Why would Grandma tell us he was the gambler though?  That's so mean that she was willing to let us think that about him!"

    Julia replied, "She probably felt like she needed to tell you the partial truth. Perhaps she was afraid if you knew it was her mistakes that had put the farm in jeopardy, you would not help her to stop the sale.  She probably assumed her husband would forgive her for the lie, but she might lose you both because of her mistakes."

    Mateo had been absently patting at the water on the table with some napkins.  Suddenly, he spoke.  "Julia, you seem like a nice person, and I can't think of anything that would have motivated you to make all this up.  So, I am going to believe you.  It appears my grandparents have both deceived us - my grandfather out of loyalty to my grandmother; my grandmother because she wanted us on her side to prevent the sale of the farm.  Thank you for sharing this information with us.  Now that we have the facts, perhaps the right decision can be made.  Would you mind answering a few questions for me though?"

    "What sort of questions?" asked Julia.

    "Did my grandfather ever tell you how much my grandmother owes?"

    "No, he never did," said Maria.   

    Mateo continued, "The detective I hired had been told that the appraisal value of the farm is gargantuan. I am wondering if it would be necessary to sell the entire farm, or would we be able to subdivide? If we sold just a portion of the property, would it be enough to cover Grandmother's debt?  Perhaps these are questions to ask of my grandparents - not you.  But - if it turns out the value of just a portion of the property is equivalent to her debt, would your company consider a partial sale?" It would be preferable if we could keep the section upon which the house and barns are located. What is the likelihood of that?"

    Julia said, "Your family needs to do a lot of talking! I don't have a lot of answers to your questions, but I have some. Although it was rumored that we plan to drill right where the house sits, those rumors are unfounded.  No decisions have yet been as to an optimal drilling site."  

    "Also," continued Julia, "my company had the property appraised. I know what it is worth, and I find it highly doubtful that your grandmother could have gambled enough to lose such a huge sum.  I suspect that even if you kept the land around the buildings - and even some in addition to that - your grandparents would have ample money from a sale of the rest to pay her debts.  I can't make promises, but I am pretty persuasive in my company, and I think I could rework the agreement."

    "Which would mean ...," said Mateo, then paused and smiled at Maria. "... that you would still have a home in Mexico, and not have to return to the comparatively boreal conditions of South Dakota!  Grandma could forgive Grandpa for selling the farm, and no one would else needs to know she incurred such a huge debt.  I even know a good addiction program she can enroll in, so it doesn't happen again."

    Maria suddenly thought of something, "Wait! What about what Grandma told us - about how Grandpa accused Grandma of wanting to see Pablo,her first love again. Can you explain that, Julia?"

    "Just smoke and mirrors," Julia said.  Mr. Bedoya told me he felt badly about that conversation, but it was the only way he could think of to prevent his wife from visiting Maria in Mexico - and possibly spoiling the deal he was trying to make with us. He knew she would never agree to it, and didn't know how else to pay off her debt."

    "When Grandma learned about the sale, she figured out that was why Grandpa had voiced concerns about Pablo," Mateo said. - "She also suspected Grandpa of using papalo to lure Maria to South Dakota. Such a clever lady - no wonder she did so well gambling!"

    "Mateo, don't talk like that!" Maria looked stern, but then she smiled.  "I'm so excited to tell Tomas I'm still going to have a place to live in Mexico. I think it is time to call Grandma. She is expecting me to call her this morning, to update her and check on Grandpa's progress.  If Grandpa is feeling better, perhaps we can tell them both what we now know, and explain our solution to their problem."

    Exiting the room, Maria asked over her shoulder, "Coming Mateo?"

    "In a bit."  Mateo smiled warmly at Julia.  "It seems I really misjudged you initially.  Can I invite you to lunch, and attempt to show you a better side of my own character?"

    "Actually, Julia said. "I would like that."


    The end ... or the beginning.


    What do you think - did they all live happily ever after?


    The Words for Wednesday Challenge supplied the following word prompts: 
    boreal, rocky, tempest, lake, rising, breathe

    This story is totally fictitious and may not contain accurate factual information. I had never even heard of papalo, until I did an Internet search for “indigenous plants of Mexico.”




    #fiction
    This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog.  Check them out!

    Edit to post: In the line which begins "--of debt," there was an error as to whom was speaking. It is Julia, and this had now been corrected. My apologies for any confusion this caused before it was corrected! 

    Monday, August 18, 2014

    Cliff Hanger

    An Iguana in Mexico
    Weekly, for the past six weeks, I have been publishing a chapter of a story, called The Papalo Cure.  My inspiration for these fiction chapters has come from the Words for Wednesday word prompts - supplied every Wednesday by Delores, on her blog Under the Porch Light.  My story takes place in Mexico and South Dakota, and it is about relationships, some mysteries, and a fictitious herbal cure (loosely based on some research that showed papalo does have some medicinal properties).

    Some people have commented that my series has been a real cliff hanger.  The Merian-Webster Online Dictionary defines the term cliff hanger as: "a story, contest, or situation that is very exciting because what is going to happen next is not known."

    It has been a true cliff hanger - because not even the author has know what will happen each week! The plot has been somewhat dependent upon the words supplied as the prompt.  Delores has not failed me though, and I have been able to keep this story moving towards an end.

    This week I will publish the seventh and final chapter.  Look for it tomorrow on my blog.  I was going to post it today, but decided I should give a little warning that the story is about to end - and provide an opportunity to review previous chapters before reading the final one, if anyone desires.

    So - here are the links to the chapters so far. (Click on the date to view the chapter.)

       7-4-14 Facing Insurmountable Odds (The Papalo Cure - part 1)
     7-10-14 Insinuations of Deadly Intentions (The Papalo Cure - part 2)
     7-18-14 A Clandestine Meeting in the Cove (The Papalo Cure - part 3)
     7-28-14 Glittering Shoes and Shadows (The Papalo Cure - part 4)
       8-4-14 Blindsided (The Papalo Cure - part 5)
     8-11-14 Back to the Blistering Heat (The Papalo Cure - part 6)

    The photo at the top of this post has nothing to do with the story - except that I took it in Mexico.  


    The photo below shows my family standing above a cliff near some Mexico ruins.  Cliff hanger -! Is it possible to use a photo as a pun? Perhaps my daughter is even covering her mouth to muffle a scream?  (Just kidding - I think she was yawning or brushing away a fly!)



    Standing on a cliff above the beach, near some Mayan Ruins in Mexico
    Tomorrow - the chapter I publish will have nothing to do with a cliff - nor will it be a cliff hanger.  Well, not intentionally anyway, as it is meant to be an ending to the story. (Although, unless all the characters die, and the world ends - which I promise doesn't happen - an ending is usually also sort of a beginning.)

    I am always greatly disappointed when a book I have been enjoying has a lame ending.  I struggled to get this right. I hope you will not be disappointed.

    I hope you will take this opportunity to read any of the parts of my story you may have missed  - and stop back tomorrow to read the rest.

    Many thanks to Delores for a fun challenge and a terrific selection of words!  

    This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog.  Check them out!

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    A Chance to Catch Up

       
    Our family reunion in British Colombia was anticipated for months - it was more fun driving towards it than back home.

    Re-entry into my life after vacation was a little more hectic than I expected yesterday. Some days are just like that!

    With some pre-planning, while I was on vacation I managed to publish posts on this blog all week.  I was unable, however, to share these posts on Facebook and other social media sites the way that I usually do, and some of my regular readers may have missed seeing them. 

    Rather than write something new, today I thought I would just mention some past posts, and provide all of us a chance to catch-up ...

    Topics of my blog posts over the past week included:
    Clicking on the above links will take you to these posts.  While there, I hope you go to the home page of the most - - of every moment, and take a look around!


    Montana landscape (through a typical cracked MT windshield!) We chased a rainbow for quite a few of the 800 miles we drove to get home.

    Do you have a favorite post from this blog - or a favorite moment from this summer?

    This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog.  Check them out!


    Thursday, August 14, 2014

    A Family Reunion and the Orphan Train

    Floating in a pool with a good book - a perfect way to relax!
    I will be returning to my desktop computer today, after a week away. I just spent a wonderful vacation with my parents, my three sisters, and our families.  We rented a large vacation home with a beautiful pool, just outside of Vancouver, B.C., Canada.  The amenities of the home, and the absolutely perfect weather during our stay, made us all agree we were experiencing a little slice of heaven.

    Internet was available at the house, but access was inexplicably minimal and intermittent. Had I not written and scheduled most of the week's daily blog posts ahead of time, you would not have heard much from me.  Having a guest post supplied by Lana yesterday was really helpful, also. I will be busy this week, though, trying to get caught up reading the blogs I usually follow.

    Internet may have been scarce, but free time was more plentiful than usual. I finally had a chance to read a book I have been interested in for some time.  Orphan Train: A Novel, by Christina Baker Kline.

    Just over 30 pages into the book, I discovered what seemed like perhaps the most beautiful paragraph I have ever read:
    ". . .  Dusk softens the sharp points of trees outside my window; the sky slowly darkens, then blackens around an orb of moon.  Hours later, a faint blue tinge yields to the soft pastels of dawn, and soon enough sun is streaming in, the stop-start rhythm of the train making it all feel like still photography, thousands of images that taken together create a scene in motion."
    Don't you think this is a beautiful piece of writing? Of course, my perception could have been influenced by my surroundings when I read it. I was floating on a plastic raft in the middle of a pool on a beautiful day, sipping a cold beverage, with nothing else needing my immediate attention.  Reading it again just now, however, I am struck by the descriptive poetry of the words.

    While sections of Orphan Train are extremely lovely prose, it is also a very captivating book to read.  It is a story of two very resilient women, and the life challenges they both faced growing up at different times, alone in the world. Reading about the hardships they endured was especially heart-wrenching, while surrounded by my family in our beautiful vacation setting. My copy of the book is now a little dog-eared with pages warped by wet wrinkles, but it is readable condition. I will pass it on to family and friends with my highest recommendations.  
    Christina Baker Kline has apparently written four other novels. I am looking forward to reading them!
    Having my family all together felt even more special after reading Orphan Train.

    Who is your favorite author?

    This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog.  Check them out!


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