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Anything is good, in moderation. I cook because I love to and because I can share with those around me. I crochet for the same reason.

Do what you want to do, enjoy what you do and use it to touch those around you.

Nov 30, 2012

Aunt Bev's Corn Casserole

  At Thanksgiving, Aunt Bev was telling us about her corn casserole.  It sounded delightful and she sent it to us this week, so I am sharing it with you.  Her note included instructions for freezing - put wax paper sheets between slices and wrap securely before freezing.  

1/2 cup butter
17 oz whole corn with liquid
17 oz creamed corn
8.5 oz box Jiffy corn bread mix
2 eggs, slightly beaten
8 oz sour cream
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.  Put in a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 minutes or until firm.  Cool slightly before cutting into squares.  Serves 12, freezes well.

Nov 29, 2012

Ned Smith Center

Another gem for hiking in Central Pennsylvania is the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Arts.  Nestled in Millersburg, Dauphin County, this site has miles of hiking trails that are well marked and well maintained.  To get there from route 22 in Harrisburg, take the Halifax exit.  Follow 225 over Peter's mountain until you come to route 147 North.  Follow 147 North to route 209 North.  From route 209, you will turn right onto Water Company Road - well marked with both a street sign and an indicator of Ned Smith Center.  Travel down Water Company Road and you will see the entrance to Ned Smith Center on your Right. 

Park in the parking area and follow the path to the right of the building - just to the right of the handicapped spaces in the picture below.

Once you get to the end of the concrete walkway, you will see the entrance to the walking trails.

The first set of trails you come to are the North Trails.  These are three nested loops that have a great view of the creek you can cross and the other ridge line managed by the center.

When you finish exploring the North Trails, you continue down your original path to the bridge that crosses the creek.  Please note - as you are crossing the creek, you are getting closer to the area that allows hunting.  The line of demarcation is the Rail to Trail Trail.  It is recommended that you wear orange any time you hike on any of the center's trails during hunting season.  If you do not have orange and are hiking while the gift shop is open, they have vests they can loan you.

The totem, above, is at the far end of the bridge.  You will turn right and follow the trail up the hill.  When you come to a Y in the trail, stay left and you have a gentler climb to the rail trail.  When you get there, turn left.  Shortly, you will come to the Hemlock Trail on your left.  This is the only other trail that does not travel through hunting territory.

This trail loops back onto the path you just followed - there was a sign for it not long after you branched left at the Y.  This trail has a nice, roped off sitting area overlooking the creek.

Although our hiking was limited due to the hunting, it was a nice day and someplace that we would like to hike more extensively.

Key Lime Sponge Cake

This was my favorite Thanksgiving dessert recipe.  I love key lime pie and the lightness of the sponge cake was a nice addition.  If you cannot find key limes, you can use a regular lime for the zest in the cakes.  If you do not have 9x3 cake pans, use two 9x2 cake pans and divide the batter between them.  Reduce baking time to 20 - 25 minutes.

  ----Cake----                                                                              3 Tbl Vegetable Oil
  1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour                                                       ----Filling----
  1/3 Cup Cake Flour                                                                 14 Ounce Sweetened Condensed Milk
  1/4 Tsp Salt                                                                              1/3 Cup Key Lime Juice
  4 Large Eggs                                                                            ----Meringue----
  2/3 Cup Sugar                                                                          2 Large Dried Egg Whites,
  1 Tsp Vanilla                                                                           -Constituted Per Package Directions
  1 Tsp Lime Zest                                                                       1/4 Cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Coat one 9 by 3 inch round cake pans with cooking spray with flour

Whisk flours and salt in a medium bowl.

Separate eggs.  Beat whites with 1/3 cup sugar until peaks form - set aside.

Beat yolks with 1/3 cup sugar until lemony in color.  Beat in vanilla and 1 teaspoon lime zest.  Beat in oil until incorporated. Fold in egg whites.  Add the flour mixture; gently stir until just incorporated. Add to the pans; spread to the edges.  Bake until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert onto the rack, remove the pans let cool completely.

To prepare lime filling: Whisk condensed milk and lime juice in a medium bowl until combined. Refrigerate until thickened.

To prepare meringue: Beat egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Beat in 1/4 cup sugar in a slow, steady stream. Continue beating until stiff peaks form.  Cut cake in half horizontally.  Position oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source; preheat broiler.   Spread the meringue on
 the top half.   Broil until lightly browned, watching carefully to prevent burning, 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Remove from oven.

Put bottom half on cake plate, cover with filling.  Top with meringue covered cake.

Nov 27, 2012

Chocolate Cake Roll

This cake roll is my loose tribute to Ho Ho's.  It was a hit a Thanksgiving.

  1/4 Cup Special Dark Cocoa Powder                                       ----Filling----
  1 1/4 Cup Sugar                                                                       8 Ounce Cream Cheese
  8 Tbl Butter                                                                             1 Cup Powdered Sugar
  4 Large Eggs                                                                            2 Tbl Butter
  1/2 Cup Cake Flour                                                                 1/2 Tsp Vanilla
  1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour                                                       ----Topping----
  1/2 Tsp Baking Soda                                                                1 Container Magic Shell
  2/3 Cup Water                                                                        

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, spray with cooking spray and set aside.

Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl, cream together.  Add eggs, one at a time, combining well after each addition.  Add cocoa powder, mix well.  Add 1/3 cup water, then cake flour, then remaining water and then the AP flour and baking soda, mixing well after each.  Pour into prepared pan and bake 20 minutes, or until it springs back when touched.  Remove from oven, sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Top with a clean towel, turn onto a flat surface and roll carefully, removing paper as you roll.    Cool completely on a wire rack.

When cool, combine filling ingredients.  Unroll cake gently, spread with filling and re-roll.  Refrigerate until very cold, remove and top with magic shell, then return to refrigerator.  If you like, do this last step a few times to make a thicker chocolate shell.
Serve cold.

Nov 26, 2012

Conewago Recreation Trail

The Conewago Recreation Trail is a 5 mile rail-trail that is managed by Lancaster County Department of Parks and Recreation.  To get to the beginning:  From Harrisburg, take 283 toward Lancaster and exit at Tollhouse Road.  Turn right.  Go to the red light and turn left.  The parking area is three miles ahead on the left.

This path is mostly level, quite wide and gravel covered. 

It is also recognized by the Audubon of Pennsylvania as a Susquehanna River Birding and Wildlife Trail. 

The trail is marked at approximately every .5 mile (some are missing) and road crossings are clearly marked.  Just across from this crossing is a passage through rocks.

Both sides of the trail are heavily posted for no hunting, but please remember that this is a notice for strangers only.  Landowners could still be hunting their land, as could anybody they give permission to.  So, if it is hunting season, as it was for this walk, make sure you and everyone with you is wearing orange.

This hunter appreciated that we could be seen...

Continue down the path, cross the road and you will see 283 ahead of you - you are about to walk under bridges.  Past the bridges on the left is the Hershey Meadows Watershed Restoration Project.

 The sign for the 2.5 mile mark is a stones throw away from this stop and just before the route 743 crossing.  If the road is busy, you may want to turn back here.  We continued on, expecting to go to the three mile mark.  It was a bit of a surprise to me when we saw 3.5 - the three is currently missing.  It also seemed a good time to turn around as the trees were getting thicker on each side and the ability to see hunters - and them to see us - was limited, so turn we did.  On the way back, we passed a gentleman that had two huskies on a harness and they were pulling him on a wheeled cart.  When we crossed 743 again, we got another good view of Hershey Meadows.

We walked back to the car, pausing to enjoy the stream just before the rock pass.

Nov 25, 2012

Cold Springs/AT/Stony Valley Rail-Trail Loop

Today found us traveling through Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.  To get to the starting point, 943 until you come to Asher Miner road.  Turn left, if you are traveling north, and follow Asher Miner Road until it becomes 443.  Turn left onto McClean Road.  Turn right onto Cold Springs Road.  NOTE:  WHEN YOU TURN RIGHT, YOU WILL SEE A SIGN INDICATING THAT YOU WILL BE PASSING THROUGH LIVE FIRING RANGES.  IF THERE IS A RED FLAG OR A BLINKING RED LIGHT, THERE IS ACTIVE FIRE.

Follow Cold Springs Road up the mountain.  You will leave paved road and start on a dirt road just as you start to climb.  This road is not maintained in the winter and, if no snow is on the ground, this section can be done, slowly, in a standard vehicle.  Hubby's Altima did it nicely.  When you get to the top of the mountain, you have the option of turning right (I would not advise that, as it is marked private for Indiantown Gap), turning left and parking or continuing straight down Cold Springs Road.  If you do not have four wheel drive and, I would advise, a high clearance, I would advise parking.  This does add about two miles to the hike.

Park the car and walk down the road.  When you get to the bottom, you will see a stone wall on your right just before a wooden bridge.  Cross the bridge and start climbing - you will come to the other parking area just around the bend.  Continue following the road past the metal gate.  Just as you enter, you will see two blue marks on a tree to your left.  Continue straight on the road until you see the same color blue on a tree to your left - follow this path.

This will start your climb up the mountain.  At one point, you will break through onto a flat rail trail.  Resist the urge to follow this path now, you will see it again later.  Continue across the road to where you see a sign for the Appalachian Trail and continue to follow the blue blazed UP the mountain.  Did I mention UP?

This is definitely a case of slow and steady wins the race or, in this case, finishes the mountain.  When you get to the top and see the junction with the Appalachian Trail, you will feel like singing.  Once you catch your breath, if you are like me.

The logs you can see in the picture make a nice place to sit and catch your breath, have a drink and a snack.  Once you are ready to move on, you can come back and look at what you just climbed.  You may even be tempted to just walk back down the mountain the way you came up.

I pondered that, but then I realized that my car was parked at the TOP of the ridge line you can see in the picture.....that encouraged me to take a more circuitous, less steep trail back down the mountain.  Having made that decision, I turned right onto the AT from the Cold Springs Trail and started following its gentle path back down the mountain.  This was an extremely peaceful walk.  No road traffic, cell phone was good for nothing except taking pictures.  When we stopped, there was no noise at all excepts some birds and the occasional squirrel - or plane flying over.  When you get toward the end of the AT, you will begin to see remnants of the coal mining that happened in the area.

Not long after, you begin to hear running water.  This section of the trail parallels a stream.  Not long after this coal pile, we came upon a campsite.  Continuing to follow the trail, you will come to a T intersection.  To the right is a trail to the Rausch Gap Shelter.  To the left is a sign marking State Game Lands.  Continue to follow the AT straight down the mountain.  Be careful here, there is quite a bit of loose rock.  Once past the rock, you get into an area of heavy pines.  There was a layer of pine needles about an inch thick, so Abby decided to do her border collie stance and plow them.  She ended up with a three inch pile of pine needles touching the bottom of her chin.  She looked so happy with herself.  Shortly after this, the AT meets up with the nice, flat rail-trail.

Turn right and follow this rail trail back to where you started.  At this point, you can climb back down through the trees, but I suggest walking straight until you come to an old road to your left - two tenths of a mile or less.  Turn left onto this road and follow it through the remains of Cold Springs Resort.  This road will take you back to the gate at the four wheel drive parking area.  Follow the road back up the other mountain to your car.

Week 46 - 47.42

This week found me traveling near Pirogue Island State Park and passing through Miles City.  From the Montana State Park Website:
PO Box 1630
Miles City, Montana   59301
Phone: 406-232-0900
Floaters find this isolated cottonwood-covered Yellowstone River island an excellent spot to view wildlife, envision the Corps of Discovery's travel along the river, and hunt for moss agates. The site is a haven for waterfowl, bald eagles, and whitetail and mule deer. Though there are no designated hiking trails, the site is level and easily walked througout the entire 269 acres. At 2,371 feet in elevation, this site has no formal development and care is needed when crossing side channels. Crossing is not recommended if water is flowing. Hand launching for lightweight crafts for boating.

Nov 24, 2012

Joseph E. Ibberson Conservation Area

Today and tomorrow, we will take a break from Thanksgiving desserts to meet travel locations.  Today, it is Joseph E Ibberson Conservation area in Halifax, Pennsylvania.

To find it, cross Peter's Mountain into Halifax on route 255.  After you reach the bottom of mountain, you will come to Camp Hebron Road - turn right.  There was a PADCNR indicating the turn when I visited.  Follow Camp Hebron Road until you see the sign above on your right.  The parking area is a one way road and, when you are parked, you have a wonderful view of the valley.

When you are ready to begin, there is a sign board that includes a brochure.  In that brochure is a map, so take one along just in case.  There is also a wooden board that gives a nice overview of the available trails.

Just beside that trail is the beginning to the Evergreen Trail - blazed in red.  I started on this trail and followed it to the left to where it met the blue Victoria trail.  The trails are very well marked.

I stayed on the blue trail - it crossed the beige Rock trail and the pink Whitetail Trail then turned into what appeared to be an old road and started to climb the mountain.

At the top of the mountain, you will come to the end of the blue trail and a steel gate.  Just across the gate you will see white blazes and another trail - this is the Appalachian Trail.  The view from the top is quite nice, but you can only see it when there are no leaves on the trees.  You can, at this point, turn left onto the AT and follow it to the blue trail and continue to follow it until you come to the pink trail.  I did not take this option, I walked back down on the blue trail.

Not only is there a better view after the leaves fall, Abby has a great time playing in the piles of leaves on the way back down to the pink trail.

As you walk back down the mountain, you will find where the pink trail crosses your path.  Turn left onto the pink trail.  Continue to follow the pink trail - it will join with the yellow trail for awhile.  When the pink and yellow trail diverge again, you will be at the pond.

There is a bench on the far side of the pond.  If you would like to sit for awhile, continue past the pond and turn onto the next left trail.  You will see a trailer ahead of you and the bench is just behind that.  If you see the Eagle Path, in blue, it can be taken, but it is very close to the water and was not as well maintained when I was there.  Continue on the pink path until it meets back to the red path - there will be a small cottage where they meet.  At this point, you have done 2.5 to 3 miles (depending on how many side trips you take around the pond, etc) - a mile less if you don't climb to the top of the blue trail.  If you want to have a slightly longer walk, bear right and follow the red trail back to where you started.  If you want to get done, turn left and head back to the parking area.

To learn more, go to

Nov 23, 2012

Pumpkin Pie - with or without Brandy

I made two versions of this pumpkin pie this year - one with the brandy and one without.  This is spicier than most, so if you prefer just tasting pumpkin, reduce the spices by half.  The brandied version of the pie was a BIG was the Key Lime Cake and my tribute to Ho Ho's - those recipe's to follow.

  9 Inch Deep Dish Pie Crust                                          1/4 Cup Brandy
  2 Large Eggs                                                               1/4 Tsp Salt
  2 Cups Pumpkin                                                           2 Tbl Cinnamon
  12 Ounce Evaporated Milk                                           1 Tsp Ginger
  3/4 Cup Brown Sugar                                                  1/4 Tsp Fresh Nutmeg, Ground

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line pie plate with crust, return to refrigerator until ready to fill and bake.

Put eggs in a large bowl and whisk.  Add pumpkin, milk, sugar, brandy, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg (if using jarred nutmeg, double the amount used).

Remove crust from refrigerator and fill.  Bake 50 - 60 minutes until set.

Nov 20, 2012

For my Niece - Buckeyes

My poor, sheltered niece has never heard of buckeyes (aka buckeye candy).  All the years I have been making this wonderful chocolate/peanut butter goodness and she has yet to partake.  Every Thanksgiving alone is a double or even triple batch.  So, here are pictures and an recipe if she gets really ambitious.  :)

  1 Lb pkg. powdered sugar, sifted                                      1 Tsp vanilla
  18 Oz Jif peanut butter                                                      1/2 Tsp salt
  1/2 Cup butter, softened                                                    1 Lb Chocolate Wafers For Melting

Blend sugar, peanut butter, margarine, salt and vanilla until smooth. Shape into 1 inch balls. Melt chocolate top of double boiler. Dip balls in chocolate mixture with toothpick until 3/4 covered. Place on waxed paper until set. Cover over hole until smooth.

New Cooking Bags

I recently had the opportunity to try the oven bags made by the same people that brought us FireWire  (see more about firewire here).  Traditionally, I don't use cooking bags because I cannot see the food and most call for lining the bag with flour, something else I don't like to do.

When selecting a size of bag, don't just look at the size on the front.  In the picture above, you can see that these are large bags - they hold 6 - 11 pounds.  However, if you look at the back, when cooking ham, it falls under the extra large.  As I found when i cooked a 9 pound ham, it was related to the irregular shape of the ham.

I opened the bag, put it in a roasting pan then set the ham in the bag.  You could season the meat at this point, but I was not doing that, so I just placed it and sealed the bag with the ties provided.

The instructions say to cut the top corner off of the bag to prevent steam from building up and to allow the meat to brown. 

I did cut the corner off, but I didn't cut enough off and the steam did cause some inability to see the meat later in cooking unless I tapped on the bag.  This was not a big issue for me, but if you prefer to watch your food brown, either cut a larger hole or make a few slits in the top of the bag.

When I removed the ham and cut the bag, it was browned beautifully and extremely juicy.  Juices from the ham remained in the bag and were ready for use in anything I wanted to use it for.  If I had wanted to glaze the ham, I would have cut the top of the bag about half an hour before it was done cooking, added the glaze and returned the ham to the oven.

This bag worked beautifully and I look forward to cooking the geese and ducks that hubby returns from hunting with.  Unfortunately, cooking my Thanksgiving turkey isn't an option as my turkey is 23 lbs.  I will have to see if they carry a Jumbo sized bag that will allow me to do so.  Finally, these bags are microwave save.  You can cook your foods without making it inedible and still keep it moist.

Nov 19, 2012

Toffee Oatmeal Cookies


   3/4 Cup butter, softened                                2 1/4 Cup all-purpose flour

   1 1/4 Cup packed brown sugar.                    1/4 Cup old fashioned oats

   1/2 Cup sugar                                               1 Tsp baking soda

    2 Large eggs.                                               1 Tsp baking powder

    2 tsp vanilla extract                                     1/2 Tsp salt

    1 Tsp almond extract                                   10 Oz Toffee Bits

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In mixing bowl, cream butter, and sugars.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in extracts.  Combine the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture.  Stir in toffee bits.  Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 in.  apart onto ungreased baking sheets.  Bake at 375 for 10-12 min.  or until golden brown.  Cool for 1 min. before removing to wire racks.

Nov 18, 2012

Week 45 - 46.31

Not much to say other than I am in Montana just over 1/3 of the way from Bismarck, ND to Helena, MT.

Nov 15, 2012

Nutty Toffee Bars

These are a nice cookie bar.  If you are allergic to chocolate, you can replace the toffee bits with more almonds, toasted coconut or oatmeal.

  1/2 C Butter                                                                     2 Tbl Flour
  1 1/2 C Brown Sugar, Packed                                            1 Tbl Baking Powder
  1 C Flour                                                                          1/2 Tsp Salt
  2 Large Eggs                                                                    1 C Toffee Bits
  1/2 Tsp Vanilla                                                                  1 C Almonds, Slivered
  1/2 Tsp Almond Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream shortening and 1/2 c brown sugar together in bowl until light and fluffy.  Stir in 1 cup flour; blend well.  Press mixture with your hands into bottom of an ungreased 13 x 9 inch oblong pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.  Beat eggs well in a separate bowl.  Beat in 1 cup brown sugar and vanilla.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt in another bowl.  Stir into egg mixture.  Fold into toffee and almonds.  Pile mixture on top of baked dough in pan.  Return to the oven and bake for 25 minutes.  Cool slightly then cut into bars.

Nov 14, 2012

Stuffed, it is - Roasting the Squash

If you have decided to stuff a squash, you will first need to roast it.  Start by heating oven to 375 degrees.

Step 1:  Wash the squash.

Step 2:  Cut squash in half.

Step 3:  Remove seeds.

Step 4:  Put squash cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with non stick foil.

Step 5:  Roast until soft, about 45 minutes.  Turn upright to stuff.

Step 6:  Stuff and top with cheese.

Step 7:  Return to oven until stuffing is heated through.  If using the sausage and bean stuffing, it should take about 15 minutes.