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random musings of a crazy cat lady

Monday, May 30, 2011

Recipe Geek: the Ithaca Tornado

Last summer my neighbors introduced me to a drink called the "Dark and Stormy". It's ginger beer with some rum and a garnish of crystalized ginger. If you don't have ginger beer, you can also use ginger ale. It's pure, clear-your-sinuses gingery goodness.
I bought some ginger liqueur the other day and did a head to head comparison of the standard Dark and Stormy with the same drink using ginger liqueur rather than rum. I then retired to my back porch to sit in my old biddy rocking chair at dusk and drink my concoctions. I saw a bat, and some of the first fireflies of the summer.
The ginger liqueur won out hands down, since it upped the ginger content to awe-inspiring levels and was sweeeter. So, here it is, named after both the Dark and Stormy and the tornado that touched down across the street from my house.

the Ithaca Tornado
Ginger beer or ginger ale
Ginger liqueur (to taste - I use one or two shots for a 12 oz bottle of soda)
Crystallized ginger

Mix soda, ginger liqueur and ice together. Garnish glass with slice of crystallized ginger. Sit outside and enjoy.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Old Biddy Speaks: Do as I say, not as I do

For all of my smug advice about what not to do on Facebook, I am actually a bit of a hypocrite. When Sheila posted on my wall asking what I was doing this weekend, I answered, on my wall, that I was hanging out with cowdude. It's not a status update, so it's not really up there with the major Facebook overshares, or even the minor ones. However, if T happens to Facebook-stalk me he will see it.
Not my finest moment, but just a bit of long-overdue passive-agressive Facebook payback.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Random Musings on Ice Cream and East Coast Weather

I can't deny that my former home has some of the best weather in the world. It's not too hot, not too cold, not humid and usually sunny. There were times that I missed it this past winter and short spring. But there is something to be said for those late spring early summer days, in the afternoon, when it's threatening to rain. Everything is green and the air has a certain alive feel to it. Some may disagree, but days like this are my favorite time to go and get ice cream or coffee and sit outside enjoying the moment.
Back in grad school I used to go get coffee, or donuts, or ice cream in the afternoon, and go sit outside in the big courtyard while I enjoyed my snack. I did this a few days a week from probably April-October. Today I went out to get lunch, but it was late and it was slim pickings at the cafeteria, so I opted for ice cream instead. It was my first ice cream outing of the year, and between the ice cream and the way the air felt, I was reminded of my grad school afternoon breaks.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rhubarb Extravaganza, Part 2: Old Biddy Rhubarb Cake

The rhubarb fest continues. I bought 2 more bunches of rhubarb on the way back from the airport. Tonight I made a rhubarb coffee cake that I found at I'm changing the name, though. The style of cake, although not common in modern American recipes, is well known to me since it is identical to the world-famous Mama Biddy Apple cake = thick cake batter + lots of chopped apples + streusel. My mom used to make it, or had me make it, when she had a lot of apples that she needed to get rid of.

Old Biddy Ruhubarb Cake

* 1 cups white sugar
* 1/4 cup brown sugar
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 1 cup sour cream
* 4 cups diced rhubarb
* 1 tsp vanilla

* 1 cup brown sugar
* 1/4 cup butter, softened
* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking dish.
2. In a large bowl, stir together 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking soda, salt and 2 cups flour. Stir in the eggs and sour cream until smooth, then fold in the rhubarb. Pour into the prepared dish and spread evenly. In a smaller bowl, stir together the remaining 1 cup brown sugar and butter until smooth. Stir in 1/4 cup flour until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the cake then dust lightly with cinnamon (optional).
3. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

The recipe was easy to make and baked up exactly as described. I forgot the cinnamon, unfortunately, but it was fine without it. Anyway, it was a moist, almost gooey coffee cake style cake, but wasn't too rich. In taste and in spirit it was very similar to Mama Biddy's Apple Cake. I took it into work, where the grad students polished it off.
Next up: strawberry rhubarb crumble recipe from the new Ithaca Farmers' Market Cookbook.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rhubarb Extravaganza, Part 1: Basic Stewed Rhubarb with Lemon and Crystallized Ginger

Yes, it's true. I like old fashioned produce like rutabagas, parsnips, and rhubarb. Now, how does a California girl acquire a taste for those things? Well, my mom is the queen of weird midwestern produce and I picked that habit up from her.
Anyway, it's rhubarb season here in CNY. I saw some a few weeks ago at the farmer's market, but it was $5/lb so I didn't get any. Inspired by this, I bought some plants the next day, but I don't think they'll produce much this year. However, this weekend I noticed a roadside stand outside of Ithaca. It was $3/bunch and you paid on the honor system. I bought two bunches, which was about 6 lbs.
For my first attempt at cooking rhubarb, I made some simple stewed rhubard like my mom used to make. I jazzed it up with some lemon zest and chopped up crystallized ginger.
It tasted just like I remember, except for the addition of the ginger. It also looked like gelatinous vomit, which is also exactly how it's supposed to look. I'll spare you a picture of it. Since it is in many ways similar to cranberry sauce, I served it with some grilled chicken. It was a tasty side dish, but the leftovers will also be good on its own for dessert or with some yogurt for breakfast. If I were paying $5/lb for it, I'd save it for "value-added" dishes like pies or cakes which don't need as much, but for $1/lb I wanted to take a trip down memory lane.
Anyway, here's the recipe.

Stewed Rhubarb with Lemon Zest and Crystallized Ginger

2 1/2 lbs rhubarb, washed and cut into 1" slices
1 cup sugar (or to taste. Next time I'll use less and/or substitute Splenda)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbs water (the rhubarb will sweat a lot so it you don't need to add much liquid.)
2 tbs crystallized ginger, diced. (optional)

In a big pot, cook the rhubarb until it is soft and stringy and the mixture has thickened. Cool and enjoy.

Stay tuned for the next installment of rhubarb extravaganza, where I will make a rhubarb cake or some muffins, or maybe even combine it with some strawberries.

For everything you ever wanted to know about rhubarb and more, go to The Rhubarb Compendium.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Attention FOOBarites!

I've updated my Facebook account so that you are now part of the FOOB (Friends of Old Biddy) group. It's a private group, so most of my Facebook friends will not be able to see it, which is probably a good thing since I do like to blog about other peoples' Facebook faux pas. Anyway, since I know that most of you like to get your news from Facebook, in it you'll find links to the blog when I post, as well as smart ass comments that don't necessarily merit a full post. Feel free to unjoin or hide my feeds if I post too much.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Spring in CNY

Spring has finally sprung, seemingly overnight. After a month of cold temperatures and rain nearly every day, it finally turned nice just in time for my dad's visit.
Spring here follows a different, and faster, route than I am used to. Every day I see major changes. In a few days I will not be able to see the lake from my office since the trees are leafing out so fast.
The first color that is visible is yellow - daffodils and forsythia everywhere. I wasn't able to resist this outpouring of rubber duckie hues, so I bought some forsythia bushes to complement my daffodils. At the same time as the yellow gets going, hints of blue pop up - hyacinths, scilla, etc. Just as the yellow starts fading, the whites, pinks, and purples get going - white daffoldils, flowering apple, crabapple, and magnolia trees, cherry trees, lilacs, and lots of other shrubs that I am not familiar with.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

An Old Biddy After My Own Heart

I was idly eating my dinner and reading the obituaries. I don't do this often, but once in a while it can be interesting.
Anyway, there was an obituary for a 90 year old lady who had been born in Scotland and moved here as a kid. It said, "She always dreamed of going back to Scotland to hear bagpipes and see kilts" and "She liked owls". Whomever she was, she was an old biddy after my own heart.
If it happens that you outlive me, I would like such information to be included in my obituary.