A Book, Photo’s, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

I’m dreaming of spring.  I want sunshine, warm temperatures, budding flowers, and green grass.  I want campfires, picnics, and days on the water just rowing our canoe to nowhere in particular.  I want to be able to open the windows and let loads of fresh air in, without letting all of the heat out.  I want to work on the Pink Paradise, and once she’s road ready I want to camp, or should I say glamp.

I’m not asking for much considering I live in upstate New York and we’re not even through the month of February yet. 

To help the cold winter months pass more quickly I’ve been reading and walking more.

I just started to read a book that I won during a giveaway hosted by the blog Pixi Wishes & Forehead Kisses.  It’s too early to give a  review, but I have to say that I was so glad to have found out that the author, Sandy Ward Bell, grew up a little less than an hour away from where I did.  

And as for the walking, it’s being done in an effort to help burn off some of the calorie laden treats that I can’t seem to stop making.  To make my walks more interesting I’ve been taking photo’s.  I thought I’d share a few.  If you’re looking for anything that resembles spring you won’t find it in these pictures.

And as long as I’m sharing – here is one of those calorie laden treats I was talking about.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Pretzel Bars

1 c. chopped pretzel pieces

1/2 c. creamy peanut butter

2 tbsp. margarine

2 tbsp. sugar

1 c. mini- marshmallows

1/4 c. powdered sugar

1 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided into two

1 tbsp. vegetable shortening

Lightly coat an 8”x8” pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a large a saucepan on low heat, melt peanut butter, margarine, and brown sugar.  Add marshmallows, half of the chocolate chips,  powdered sugar,  and stir until completely melted and mixed. Remove from heat and press mixture flat into prepared pan.

In a double boiler, melt other half of chocolate chips and shortening.  Spread melted chocolate over top of peanut butter mixture.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

What are you most looking forward to this spring?

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Peanut Butter Fudge and Bah Humbug?

Bah humbug?

So far, I haven’t won a single pair of (the most beautiful) cowboy boots (that I’ve ever seen) that The Pioneer Woman is giving away this holiday season. The last winner hasn’t been announced yet but I’m fairly certain as my luck runs, it won’t be my name that’s picked from that Oklahoman’s hat. 

Like a lot of other hard working folks in this country, we are feeling it’s economic collapse.  So no, there won’t be a sleigh full of presents parked under our tree come Christmas morning.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I forgot to add the butter to the one and only (favorite) batch of frosted sugar cookies I made for the holidays.  Please don’t ask…

As I sat sipping my nice warm cup of coffee and writing this post  the picture became very clear.  Sometimes we need a few bah humbugs to remind us that a good life is not  just about pretty boots, money, and perfect cookies – it’s about so much more than that.

If you know of someone who is having a bah humbug holiday make them a batch of this fudge to help sweeten their day.

Peanut Butter Fudge

1/2 c. margarine

2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. milk

1 c. peanut butter (I prefer crunchy)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 c. powdered sugar

Lightly spray a 8×8 pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Line bottom of pan with parchment paper.

In a medium sized saucepan, melt margarine; stir in brown sugar and milk.  Bring to full boil for 2 minutes – stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, stir in peanut butter and vanilla.  Once completely mixed, add powdered sugar one cup at a time.  Beat with electric mixer until smooth.  Pour into prepared pan.  Refrigerate until firm.  Cut and serve.

Wishing everyone a joyful holiday!

Help Solve This 33 Year Old Cold-Case

I am about to share a true homicide cold-case with you.  This post is considerably different from those that I normally write.  If you get the least bit squeamish or uneasy with these type of stories than please just skip this post.  I  understand that stories like this one can make some people uncomfortable. 

In 1982, I was a student of  a law enforcement vocational program.    As part of that program, our class was introduced to an unsolved murder of a young, unidentified girl, whose body was found shot and dumped in the nearby town of Caledonia, New York, on November 10, 1979.

And while it’s hard for me to believe, this week marks the 33rd year anniversary date of Jane Doe’s death. 

Jane Doe

Jane Doe - Caledonia

For me, this case has been hard to forget.  Maybe it’s because our law enforcement class spent countless hours making fliers, addressing envelopes, and mailing them to law enforcement agencies across the United States; maybe it’s because the victim was probably about my age when she was brutally killed;  maybe it’s because she has never been identified and I find unimaginable to believe that her family hasn’t  looked for her in all these years; or maybe it’s difficult for me to swallow the truth, that someone has gotten away with murder.  Whatever the reason, here is the story of Jane Doe – Caledonia.

On November 10, 1979, the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by a local farmer who had found a young girls lifeless body in his rain-soaked corn field. 

Upon physical investigation of the body it was determined that Jane was approximately 13 and 19 years old at her time of death. She weighed approximately 120 pounds and was  5’3” tall.

She was shot twice with a .38 caliber gun.  Once over her right eye and once in her back.  She was found fully clothed with her pockets turned inside out and stripped of any form of identification. The only two personal items reported to have been found on her body were a necklace and a key chain.

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She had visible tan lines that implied that she was not from the area where her body was found.  Her brown, wavy, shoulder length hair had been frosted about four months prior to her death. She had no previous dental work, but had some serious dental decay.  She was wearing tan corduroys, a boy’s plaid button down shirt, blue knee socks,  brown lace up ripple shoes, and a man’s red nylon zip up jacket that had black stripes down the sleeves.  The jacket was made by Auto Sports Products, Inc..

Jane Doe's Pants

Jane Doe's Shirt

Jane Doe's Shoes

Jane Doe's Jacket

There are reports that indicate a waitress at a local diner may have seen Jane and an unidentified male eating dinner there the night before her body was found. The FBI has posted a composite of a person of interest in this case, along with a description of the vehicle he may have been operating.  It is also reported that some truck drivers thought they saw Jane hitch hiking in the area the day before.

In 2006, Jane’s clothing was tested by Texas A&M University to determine what type of pollen traces were present.  The tests concluded that the pollen on Jane’s clothing could be  found in several geographical regions, including parts of Mexico, south Texas and Florida, three regions of  California, and the University of Arizona and Arizona State University.  Based on these findings, the investigators believe she may have originated from the Southwest. 

Along with the pollen tests,  DNA extraction was preformed on Jane’s body.  This process could help identify her through potential living relatives.

Jane was laid to rest in a Dansville, New York cemetery with the following inscription on her gravestone; “Lest we forget an unidentified girl. November 9, 1979. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

I would like to believe that this case can still be solved, and I believe all of you can help by tweeting this story, sharing it on Facebook, and/or re-blogging it. 

33 years is long enough –  it’s time to find out the who, what, where, when, why and how.

Note – The images and information related to this case are from various web sources, including The Doe Network, Wikipedia, Livingston County Sheriff’s Officethe FBI, and the blog – Kidnapping, Murder and Mayhem.

If you have information that you would like to pass on regarding the identity of Jane, information regarding the crime itself, or the person of interest in this case,  please contact the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office at  (585)243-7100.

My Cookbook!

It’s all said and done!

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Finally, after countless hours in my kitchen baking, photographing, writing, editing, pulling my hair out, biting my nails, and cussing just a little, my cookbook is finally finished.

A while back  I told you that I self-published my own cookbook and there would be more on it later.  Well, it’s later.

With that said, let me get the important stuff out-of-the-way.  First off, let me start by saying that I am not, nor have I ever, professed to be an Ivy League English major.  I am not a copyright editor in any sense of the word,  I am a self-taught photographer who probably values my work far more than any professional ever will,  I am a modest home baker, and I am a sticker. 

By sticker, I mean persistent, determined, and  who doesn’t  give up easily.  Perhaps that is the best quality to have if you ever decide (like I did) to write your own cookbook.

While writing and self-publishing your book may sound easy enough, I eventually concluded that I must have been bordering on the brink of insanity when I made that initial decision.

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My cookbook features a combination of my favorite sweets recipes, along with a full-page color photo for each recipe – 90 pages in all.

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Mission accomplished!  One more thing to cross off my bucket list…

The FLX Files

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In the midst of re-organizing my blog I decided to dedicate a page to one of the most amazing regions of New York State -  the Finger Lakes (FLX).   Over my last two years of blogging  I have  portrayed this region in many of my blog posts, and it only seemed right to give those posts a place all of their own.  While strolling through the FLX files you’ll likely find photos, mentions, and stories about a specific foods, wines, places, and events here.  I welcome you to the place I call home.

Red-White-and Finger Lakes Wine

Are you a wine-ie

Say Cheese

Weekend finds, but no food post

Homemade pizza from the Finger Lakes

Willkommen to Germany

Wine, and more wine…1st stop, Eleven Lakes Winery

Finger Lakes Cork & Fork, an Event to Remember

Kitchen Disasters

A Day of Adventure

A Day at Willard Asylum for the Insane

Black & Blues

Picking blueberries and my mood

Calling All Foodies from the Finger Lakes and Beyond

Apple Filled Oatmeal Cookies

2nd Annual Finger Lakes Cork & Fork Partners & Pairings

Another Great Finger Lakes Cork & Fork

Making Homemade Wine

Writing (and) Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Holiday Gift Ideas with Pumpkin Cheese Bread

Willard Asylum for the Insane – Updates

Sunday Morning and Doughnut Holes

A historic event, a statue, and photos

Shiitake, Almond, Wild Rice Salad with Balsamic Dressing

In The Finger Lakes – Bully Hill Vineyard

A Surprising Walk

Cream Puffs, You, and The Finger Lakes

Get Out Your Soup Making Pot

Cream Puffs, You, and The Finger Lakes

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Cream puffs are one of my most favorite desserts to make.  I first made them when I was fairly new to blogging.  This was long before anyone knew who The Joy of Caking was.  Let’s just say I wasn’t on the radar back then.  And while I still don’t have one of the most popular blogs out there, TJOC has come a long way. 

I’ve made some awesome friends, established some very loyal followers, and had the opportunity to work with some great companies that have great products.  I feel very fortunate, and hope my blog continues to grow.  What do you think my chances are of replacing Martha when she retires?

This batch of cream puffs is in honor of all of you.  Friends, followers, and great companies with great products. 

I have often thought of how awesome it would be to have a huge blogger fest here in the Finger Lakes.  And if that ever comes to be, I hope for all of you to attend.  You really would be wowed with a visit to to my neck of the woods.  Wineries galore, beautiful lakes and New York State Parks, quaint towns, antiques, art, museums, history, and food.  That’s what the Finger Lakes is all about.

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Now, back to the cream puffs.  Don’t be scared of making them.  They are easy and delicious.  My suggestion; follow a recipe straight out of a dependable cookbook.  This batch was made from following a recipe from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook.  The ingredients are simple.  Water, butter or margarine, flour, and eggs.  That’s it! Baker’s note: I have had the best luck using margarine over butter.

Cream puffs can be filled with whipped cream, or in this case, I made a vanilla cream pudding from the same cookbook.  And on a scale of 1-10, the pudding was a 10. 

Have you ever visited the Finger Lakes, made cream puffs, or do you want to be the new Martha?

 

A Must Read Guest Post by Denise of BeBetsy

Preserve Your Family History with Recipes

It’s funny how things that once seemed ordinary and taken for granted become so dear to the heart as we move along in our life’s journey.

I can picture our mother with her apron on hard at work in the kitchen of our home that my parents built brick by brick.

Our mother Barbara

The kitchen walls were lined with cedar wainscot. Closing my eyes I am transported back watching my father take pleasure in our mother’s cooking. Oh what meals she could whip up! Chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, freshly baked rolls slathered in butter and fresh plum jam made from the bounty of our grandmother’s tree.

It remains so vivid in my memory.

In winter the kitchen was the place to be with the warmth from the oven and wonderful smells that made your stomach churn in anticipation! I cherish those memories and right this minute I swear I can smell the chocolate, sugar and butter of the Saturday night fudge as it bubbled in that old, heavy saucepan.

Food memories are powerful and an important part of our family history. What a gift it would be to our children, and for generations to come, if through our recipes our family history would come to life!

Cookbook Christmas

Shortly after our mother died my sister Sharon and her family put together a collection of our family recipes in a beautifully handcrafted scrapbook of my sister’s own design. Included were pictures of our mother’s handwritten recipes cards.

This precious memory book reminds me of how our mother’s home-cooked meals brought us together around our kitchen table. Thinking of that I smile and cry all at once.

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So scour your family’s cupboards and locate those old cookbooks and recipe cards. Spend time with the older women in your family and consider recording them talking of the foods they would prepare for their family.

What a great treasure that would be to pass on to your own children.

Please share your own precious memories!

“A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.”
— Tenneva Jordan

I’m so glad to share Denise’s post with you.  There are few things more precious to me than my mother’s and grandmother’s hand-written recipe cards.  The preservation of their recipes is important to me, and my memories of watching them stay busy in their kitchen’s will always make me smile.

Denise and her sister Sharon are the masterminds of BeBetsy.com, a  FREE on-line lifestyle magazine. 

BeBetsy features great articles on health, beauty, fashion, money, gardening, home décor, food and drink, DIY, tech savy tips, along with information on today’s hottest products. 

Oh,  I almost forgot to mention the printable coupons and great giveaways and contests they share with readers too.

My suggestion, subscribe to their site so you don’t miss a single thing.    And why stop there? They can also be found on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook

Now, a bit more about Denise, the author of this  post.  She is the editor and co-founder of BeBetsy.  She is a writer, self-proclaimed musician, food junkie and sometimes funny person, who enjoys spending as much time as possible with her husband and family.

She loves classic cinema and indie movies and most forms of musical expression.  She loves to hike, camp, fish canoe and howl at the moon.

When she’s not howling at the moon, she spends time working-out, swimming, singing, writing, sewing, reading and telling others her opinion on any subject.  She ignores age and pretends she is 27.  (Don’t we all?)

Originally from Salt Lake City, she now lives in Southern Nevada enjoying the daily sunshine and serenity of the dessert.  Lucky girl…