Monday, April 15, 2013

It's spring somewhere

We are still in Arizona, enjoying the desert in full bloom. Our Prickly Pear cactus has the most beautiful yellow buds that flower during the day, then close at night to go to sleep.

The breezes are warm as the temperatures climb to the upper 80s. We enjoy our coffee on the deck in the morning and our evening strolls.

We are from Minnesota. We spend winters here and most years are packing to head home about now.

But not this year.

It has not been a kind Minnesota winter, and that's the kindest words you'll hear Minnesotans say. It's mid-April and they are fed up. As well they should be.

It's a cruel trick of Mother Nature this year, the winter with no end. I feel for my fellow Minnesotans and I'm not gloating, nor did I write the first paragraph in a mean spirit.

There is hope, Minnesota. Spring must come. And when it does, it will be even more special. Those sights and smells will be appreciated even more after suffering through a very long seven months.

We have not been gone so long that we've forgotten. Those days that drag on and on and on and you just long to see green grass, open windows, and commence with spring cleaning and washing up golf clubs, pumping air into those bike tires, sorting fishing tackle.

Ahhhh, spring. It will come to Minnesota.  And when Minnesotans are enjoying those fresh breezes, tulips popping out of the ground, picnics and outdoor baseball games, Arizonans will be suffocating in the heat, broiling under the hot, intense sun, and getting cabin fever from sitting inside their air-conditioned hot-boxes, paying obscene electric bills to stay cool.

So take comfort, Minnesota. Spring is coming. I promise. We'll be there to celebrate it with you.

Monday, April 1, 2013

April fool

Well, it's April 1...April Fool's Day.

Yesterday was the day I felt like a fool. Guests for Easter Sunday dinner, I decided to try some new recipes.

Never, ever do that.

I was looking online for crockpot, or slow cooker, recipes so that we could go to church and have dinner cooking itself.  I found several ham recipes and several scalloped potato recipes that made it difficult to even choose between them. They all sounded great.

I chose a ham recipe that called for maple syrup and pineapple juice. It was reported to be the best ham ever!

Using half the time called for in the recipe, it was overcooked and dry, and had lost its color. The only thing that saved it was spooning the juices from the crockpot over the sliced ham on your plate.

On to the scalloped potatoes.  The recipe I selected called for a cheese sauce. Now who could go wrong with a cheese sauce?  It cooked up beautifully, so rich and creamy. Poured over the thinly sliced potatoes, it looked great going into the crockpot. Smelled good, too.

The result was awful. The sauce turned into paste, the potatoes turned brown, and again, using half the time called for, they were way overdone.

I had made a Jell-O salad in individual molds. That's about as artistic as I get. No matter what I tried (yes, the warm cloth over the molds, letting them set out at room temperature, running a hot knife around the edges), they would not unmold. I finally shook them out and they ended up looking like little blobs on a leaf of lettuce.

As our guests thanked us and said everything was delicious, I felt like the April Fool.

Thankfully, the deviled eggs turned out (it took 16 eggs to get 10 perfect ones), and the dessert was to die for...angel food cake with a can of crushed pineapple, frosted with whipped cream, topped with coconut.

Maybe our friends will just remember the dessert.