Happy Birthday George Harrison – You Were Part of My First and Best Concert!

Beatles ticket stub cropped.jpgWhen talk of first concerts comes up, I always sit quietly, smugly waiting for my chance. Then, as casually as possible I say, “My very first concert was a Beatles concert at Cleveland Stadium in 1966.” People’s jaws usually drop. They are amazed, either at how wretchedly old I must be, or that I really got to see the Beatles in person. Continue reading

The Most Awesome Cheesecake You’ve Ever Had

first-page-cheesecakeI am finally getting my bearings after the shock of going back to being a full-time employee on November 3rd.  I’m trying to get back on a weekly blogging schedule, and will do my best, but don’t hold your breath.  However, I just had to write about this cheesecake because it’s worth every decadent calorie.

I know I already laid claim to the best Carrot Cake ever. I’m going out on a limb again because I also have the recipe for the best cheesecake ever.  I may be a lapsed Catholic, but I cannot lie (not convincingly anyway) and I’m serious, this is the best cheesecake I’ve ever had. The common denominator for both these outstanding recipes is my sister-in-law, Donna. Her attention to detail is almost mind-numbing.   Continue reading

The World’s Greatest Sleepers

I was at work last week, fighting a nasty bout of  bronchitis and kept nodding off at my desk. I thought I was being very sly, but someone walked past, noticed and mentioned it to me. He said it looked like I was in deep thought, but I think he was just being kind.

I know what I look like when I’m nodding off and it is definitely neither thoughtful looking nor attractive. I never think I’ll do it, but learned years ago that nothing can stop a determined Tunno sleep gene. Continue reading

Happy Groundhog Day!

I am clearly still getting used to being a full-time writer, but in an effort to not look as lazy and shifless as I clearly am, I am re-posting an old favorite of mine, “The Real Truth About Sex and Love, A Groundhog Day Story.”

I wish you all a Happy Groundhog Day full of fun and surprises, like one of mine was many years ago! Click on this link to find out why:

https://atfranstable.com/2016/02/01/the-real-truth-about-sex-and-love-a-groundhog-day-story/

What Will Change in a Year?

fish-house

The Fish Shoppe, no Christmas starts without it.

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. I love it. I love the decorating — filling the house with all my favorite things from Christmases past, laughing and remembering as we put up our ridiculous ornaments, baking, and being with family and friends. But I hate the rushing to try to get everything done and most of all, I hate taking it all down, packing it up and putting it away.

I hate it for a few reasons. Mostly, because it takes time. I’m anal enough to try to wrap each ornament in the same box it came in, if I still have it. I wish I could just be like normal people — throw it all in a box and not worry about it — but I make sure everything is wrapped securely to survive a summer in the heat of a California attic. I also make sure it’s organized so I can easily find things. I sometimes even label the boxes, but not always, because I kind of like the thrill of opening boxes and being surprised at what’s inside. Continue reading

My First Christmas Alone

Most of you will read this and think, “Oh God no! Fran had to spend a Christmas alone?!!!” I didn’t have to, I chose to, and actually, it was pretty wonderful. (Especially since hazelnut thumbprints were involved.)The kids and I celebrated on the 23rd with dinner out and gift giving, so when they left on the 24th, I was OK. (If they hadn’t celebrated with me first, I don’t think I’d have felt as magnanimous.) I had a party to attend and new pajamas to sleep in on Christmas Eve, a DVD waiting with eight – yes eight, English movies to watch, so I was set.

This was after a week of maniacal shopping, sending packages, and a little baking, but not nearly as much as I usually do. Even so, I was really ready to relax.

I went to the party, came home, slipped into my new PJ’s and woke up Christmas morning perfectly happy. I had nowhere to go and nothing to do, so I had a leisurely morning latte, read the paper for the first time in over a month, walked Topper,  went through receipts, then ordered a pizza with exactly what I like (pepperoni and mushrooms) had a salad, ate  a See’s pecan turtle and a lemon cheesecake bar, and a hazelnut thumbprint or two, listened to Christmas music, basked in the beauty of my not-dead-yet-tree, watched a movie, and relaxed.

Honestly, I think some people can be lonely in a crowd, and some are perfectly content at home alone, even on Christmas Day. Not that I want to do it every year, but it was comforting, relaxing and felt good.

hazelnut thumbprint.JPG

As for the hazelnut thumbprints I tried n my last post.  they turned out wonderfully. I would have eaten more of them if my daughter hadn’t beaten me to them.

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and that 2017 brings each of us the fortitude to accept and embrace everything that comes our way — even a Christmas alone…and the energy to try even more cookie recipes.

As you may have noticed, I’ve not been able to put out a blog a week lately. I’m still regrouping and will figure out a rhythm as soon as the holidays are over. Thanks, as always, for reading! You are the best! Happy 2017!

I Want to Bake Christmas Cookies

For eight years, I wanted nothing more than a full time job so I could live like a normal human and not worry 24 hours  a day.

Now I have a full-time job and I’d really like to blog and bake cookies, but I’m so pooped by the time I get home, get something to eat and clean up, I don’t have time or the energy. I also want to finish decorating the tree, buy people gifts and send lovely packages – we’ll see how much of that gets done.

I’m planning a huge intake of caffeine this week so I can whip through the decorating, cookies and packages and collapse in a lump  on the couch with a hot toddy maybe by the 24th. So far, I got the house decorating done, the tree is up, but still in need of ornaments and I have bought 1.5 gifts.

When you’re a kid, all you can think about at Christmas is the presents. When you’re a female adult, all you can think about is what you probably won’t get done in time.

I’ve been itching to bake Thumbprint Cookies. I love Thumbprints. I learned to make them in seventh grade. Wilma Heiberger was my partner in Home Economics and we had a great time dropping the balls of dough from as high as we could reach so they made a big splash into the cups of egg white to coat them before we rolled them in nuts.  This did not please our Home Ec teacher, Miss Hartley. Do kids even have Home Ec classes anymore? Probably not.

I also love baking this time of year because it reminds me of the hours I spent at our dining room table baking with my mother.  The clear plastic cover over the tablecloth was dusted in flour every December, as I helped Mom bake and get ready for Christmas. Man, what I would give to have one more evening of baking with her.

One year we were baking her favorite, Banana Cookies. They’re a filled cookie that’s very time intensive. You make the dough, then the filling, then fill them, roll them, bake them and ice them.  We’d already made several dozen and she was tired that night.  There was a fist sized mound of dough left and a good cup of filling left, which would have made at least another dozen more cookies.

I’d walked away from the table to take the cookies out of the oven and came back to my mother laughing so hard, the table was shaking.  She looked up at me repentantly and showed me the  gigantic cookie she’d made with the rest of the dough and filling. Tears rolling out of her eyes with laughter, she said, “Don’d a worry Frenzy, your fodder (father) will eat it.”

Cookbook.JPGBefore she passed away she told me about a book she got from Hershey’s loaded with recipes for chocolate cookies and cakes in it. She wanted to bake them with me. I wish I’d been able to do that, but we never got the chance.

So, if you’re lucky enough to still have your mom, or grandma, or aunt or anyone who wants to bake with you, do it! You never know how much time you have left.

This year,  in honor of mom,  I’m trying a twist on the original Thumbprint recipe, making mine dipped in toasted hazelnuts with a dollop of chocolate hazelnut Nutella in the center. I think Mom would approve. (The originals have walnuts on the outside and either icing or jam in the middle. I love them with icing too.) I’ll post photos once I bake them.

I also want to bake Mini Carrot Cakes and Mini Cheesecakes and Brownies with Chocolate Ganache, Seven Layer Cookies, Russian Teacakes, Almond Cookies, Peanut Squares, Lemon Ricotta Cookies, Lemon Cheesecake Bars, Hershey Kiss Cookies, and my mom’s favorites, Banana Cookies, which I may try next week…if the espresso holds out.  Wish me luck.

Hazelnut Thumbprints

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup butter (softened)

1 tsp. vanilla

2 egg yolks

2 cups unbleached flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2 egg whites slightly beaten

1 1/2 cups finely chopped hazelnuts (I get the dry roasted ones from Trader Joes)

Cream the sugar and butter, then add the vanilla and egg yolks. Mix together the flour and salt.  Combine the flour with the butter mixture.

Roll the dough into small balls, then dip them into the slightly beaten egg whites, then roll them into the hazelnuts.  Place them on a baking sheet and press the centers to form an indentation.

Bake at 350 for 8  minutes,  remove from heat, reset indentation and bake for five more minutes. Remove from heat and once they’re cooled, drop Nutella into the indentation. You can sprinkle them lightly with powdered sugar when they’re done also.

 

 

 

 

Winner of the Cutthroat Tunno Pumpkin Pie Contest and a Killer Pecan Pie Recipe!

Yesterday was my sister-in-law Patty’s birthday. She is one of the nicest humans on the face of the earth and watching her raise her kids showed me the investment of time and love that goes into raising children.  Why do you think I put it off for so long?

I mention her because after many years of either not placing or not baking, she is finally the winner of the CTPPC, and it’s about damned time! Continue reading

And the Mystery Food is:_________

Well, I soaked it and soaked it. And after a lot of scraping, I uncovered what is definitely an apricot pit. the-pitSo, since several of you answered correctly, I have to send the five dollars to the first person who guessed correctly, Nicol Zanzarella.

So Nicol, I will either mail it to you, or hand it to you next time we meet for coffee because a promise is a promise. Who knew a person could have so much fun with food gone bad? Continue reading

Five Bucks to Anyone Who Can Identify This

It’s the week before Thanksgiving and two days ago I was doing what I do every week before Thanksgiving — cleaning out all the forgotten crap in my fridge, so I can fill it with new crap that I’ll forget about in another 1.5 weeks.

rotten

I put it on the nice table runner to dress it up a little.

I came across this beauty of a…well, I’m not sure exactly what it is.  I’m thinking maybe a desiccated apricot…but I’m not sure. So, if you have any ideas, please respond. Continue reading