Today’s Music Monday is a Christmas song! Is it too early for a Christmas song? Absolutely NOT! We love Christmas music and listen to it all year round. One of our favorite Christmas songs is Carol of the Bells by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Frequently while we are out delivering our newspapers, we see, hear and smell all kinds of wildlife. Last week, we posted about seeing a mule deer doe and her baby, we even posted a great picture of the two of them. Most of the time though, we are not so lucky to capture pictures of the creatures we see, which is the case of the skunk Al stumbled upon last night.
As mentioned above, we included smell and boy do we smell a lot of skunks while we are out. Everyone once and awhile we will see them from our cars but never face to face. That all changed last night! Al was delivering papers in a very large apartment complex and as she walked around a corner, there was a skunk standing in the middle of the sidewalk. EEEEKKKK! We startled each other! Al took a step back and the skunk slowly turned around and showed her its lovely raised tail and tush. Al stood still and silently pleaded with the skunk to not spray her. Luckily her prayers were answered and the skunk crept into the bushes and Al continued on with her delivery.
This interaction led to some research about skunks that we thought we would share with you:
- Skunks can be found from the southern parts of Canada, throughout most of the United States and into the northern parts of Mexico.
- They have great sense of smell and hearing but poor eyesight. They can only see about 10 feet in front of them.
- They can spray a target 10 feet away (Al was definitely in the spray zone).
- Skunks are omnivorous.
Hopefully one day we will be able to capture a photo of a skunk without being sprayed!
Oatmeal raisin cookies, people love them or people hate them. The raisins can be a point of contention for cookie consumers. It has taken us many years to like these cookies but we think it all comes down to the recipe. Oatmeal raisin cookies have the tendency to be dry and crumbly after the first day and that is just sad.
This recipe though, generates moist cookies for a couple of days after baking, that is if you don’t eat them all on the first day 🤣. The reason they keep their moisture is the inclusion of molasses. Molasses adds moisture, but it also adds another layer of sweetness and flavor. You can use regular molasses, but recently we have switched to using robust molasses in our baked goods and have been very pleased with the flavor. Try it out for yourself and see if you like the robust flavor also!
We love Macklemore, he is an excellent rapper who isn’t afraid to shy away from difficult subjects. Glorious is a great uplifting song and the video features his grandma who absolutely adorable!
We work at night, driving around Tucson, delivering newspapers and this affords us the chance to see various types of wildlife that we never get the chance to see during the day. Growing up, we would see street signs on our nearby streets that warned of deer as seen below.
We always laughed, “There aren’t any deer around here!!!” We soon discovered after starting our delivery job, they do exist around here. We see both bucks and does, but we usually se them alone, never in pairs or groups. They also move very fast so we have never been able to take a photo of them. That is until last night! We spotted a Mule Deer doe and her baby. They stood still long enough for us to take this awesome photo. The baby didn’t want to turn around for us but it was super cute!
Growing up in the southwest we learned Spanish in school and at the start of every November we would celebrate Día de los Muertos with our class. Día de los Muertos is a three day celebration in Mexico, during which families celebrate their relatives that have passed. It is believed that during these three days, family members return to the living world to visit, therefore offerings are made to help them celebrate. You can read more about Día de los Muertos here. One of the most common food offerings is Pan de Muerto, or Dead Bread.
During school we would make and eat this bread at our Spanish class festivities. Traditional Dead Bread is an enriched yeast bread, made wth milk and eggs and flavored with anise seeds. However today we wanted to present an alternative to the traditional Dead Bread.
Our first variance from the tradition is the omission of anise seeds. Al is not a fan of anything licorice tasting at all, therefore we left them out.
Our next variance was born purely out of an accident. Our original recipe included sweetened condensed milk instead of whole milk. While perusing the options at the grocery store, we picked out a couple of cans of our go to brand, Eagle Brand but then we also decided to try a different brand, La Lechera. The La Lechera brand also had some other interesting options including Dulce de Leche Caramel. Very pleased with our purchases of all the different options, we waltzed home to make our Dead Bread. We decided to try the La Lechera sweetened condensed milk but with all the cans looking similar, instead of opening the correct can, we opened the Dulce de Leche Caramel. This is probably the best baking mistake we have ever made! The bread turned out extra moist with a deeper yellow color than other versions we have made with whole milk or sweetened condensed milk.
Another switch we made from tradition is the finishing of the bread with granulated sugar, which is usually sprinkled on right right after the loaf comes out of the oven. We love cinnamon so we decided to substitute cinnamon sugar and then we helped it adhere better by brushing melted butter on the top then sprinkling the cinnamon sugar onto the loaf.
Forming the shape of the Dead Bread is probably the most challenging step of this whole process. Traditionally the loaf is topped with a skull and crossbones. How elaborate this decoration is, is up to the baker. We kept it pretty simple. We took 8 ounces of the dough after the first rise and separated it into 5 pieces. With the remaining dough, we formed it into a round loaf and then made a golf ball sized indentation in the middle. Next, we formed the skull and crossbones. We rolled four of the pieces into cylinders, lightly brushed one side with water and placed them on the main loaf, meeting in the middle. The fifth piece we rolled into a ball and then flattened it slightly. We also brushed a little bit of water on the underside of this piece and placed it in the center, covering the mesh points of the crossbones, to be the skull.
One last tip before we share our recipe. While baking, leave the loaf uncovered for the first half of the baking time to allow the loaf to brown, then tent the loaf with a piece of aluminum foil to protect it from over browning and drying out.
We wouldn’t necessarily classify ourselves as huge P!nk fans but her latest album, Beautiful Trauma is awesome. There are multiple songs on this album that are great, but I Am Here has a great message a rockin’ beat. Listen to this great song below.
Happy International Cat Day! We have two cats that we absolutely adore and celebrate every day, not just on International Cat Day. Mac is the furry mom to Billy, a 9 year old male tabby. You can read more about him here. Billy is the definition of a mellow cat. He loves to sleep and once a day harass Izzy, our crazy Wheaten Terrier.
Al is the furry mom to Tyra, a 13 year old female white cat. You can read more about her here. Tyra is not a fan of other animals but loves to cuddle with Al.
We have taken both of them on road trips with us at different times in the past. Check out our book, Woof Trekking: How To Road Trip with Your Pets, where we give advice on how to travel with your favorite cat.
We recently read about a pretty cool cat. The newly elected Prime Minister of New Zealand is Jacinda Ardern and she has an awesome cat named Paddles. Paddles is unique because she has a set of crazy thumbs! She also has her own twitter account which is pretty hilarious.
Hi, I'm Paddles and I am the First Cat of New Zealand. I have opposable thumbs, I'm purrty special. pic.twitter.com/MPkxdhWCRu— Paddles (@FirstCatofNZ) October 21, 2017
We have previously posted several banana based recipes: Banana Chocolate Chip Scones, Banana Oatmeal Muffins, even dog treats. We have also featured our “Best” Banana Bread. However, the previous recipe for the “Best” Banana Bread has been dethroned as the “Best.” We still love that recipe but the one we are sharing today is even better.
Our new, favorite banana bread has walnuts in it, we had NO idea what we were missing out on! Use a food processor to pulse your nuts to get them finely chopped but be careful not to over process or you won’t be able to taste them in the bread.
Another lesson we have finally learned is lining the loaf pan with parchment paper before pouring the batter in. This makes the removal so much easier and you no longer have to hold your breath hoping the loaf comes out perfectly.
Our last tip is letting the eggs come to room temperature. Room temperature eggs allow for the incorporation of air and sugar to volumize the bread.
We are big fans of the Food Network and one of our favorite tv chefs is Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman. If you watch the show, then you know that one of Ree’s favorite ingredients is Lawry’s Seasoned Salt.
We have seen it at the grocery store many times, but never felt compelled to grab a bottle and put it into our cart. However, one fine day last week, we decided to make breaded pork chops and saw Ree’s version used seasoned salt. We didn’t want to run to the grocery store, so decided to look up a copycat and version. It was so good, we have already added it to all of our favorite savory dishes and it adds a great punch.
The effect is subtle, but definitely there! It has that savory taste, that “umami.” Wikipedia says that umami means “brothy or meaty.” Basically, it’s our new favorite thing in the kitchen!
Do you use Lawry’s Seasoning Salt? Have you tried Kitchen Bouquet or Gravy Master? We’re eager to know, so please share below! 🙂
Tis the season of holiday cookie exchanges. A wonderful time of year! If you are still on the lookout for cookies to bake, checkout some of our favorite cookie recipes.
Peanut Butter Cookies
This recipe is from one of our grandma’s cookbooks and the cookies are soft and chewy! Perfect to satisfy those sweet and salty cravings.
All Time Favorite Mini M&M Cookies
Whenever we crave chocolate chip cookies, this is the recipe we turn to. We have been making them for years and they are delicious.
Oatmeal Apple Cookies
If you love oatmeal cookies but not the traditional raisin variety, give these cookies a try. The apples in these cookies keep them moist, while the oatmeal plumps up to give them a chewy texture.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pumpkin spice has overtaken the food market, and we’re joining the trend. The spice mix in this recipe is perfection. The addition of mini chocolate chips make these cookies extra sweet and warming.
Date Pecan Cookies
Pecans add a delightful crunch to these cookies. The chopped dates are marvelous morsels that add moisture and soak up the warm spice flavors.
We hope you give these cookie recipes a try! Let us know how they turn out!
As you guys know, we LOVE cookies and we also LOVE warm spices. We had some leftover apples after we made Our Favorite Cinnamon Apple Cake so we decided to make these cookies. While Mac enjoys a good oatmeal raisin cookie, Al finds raisins to be most unpalatable. Consequently, we replaced the raisins with apples. They turned out to be a perfect substitution.
The moisture from the apples permeates the oatmeal which keeps the cookies soft for a couple of days. The cinnamon and nutmeg are perfect to warm you from the inside out in the cold winter weather. These cookies are delicious for any occasion.
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt.
Peel, core and finely dice the apple. Place in a separate bowl.
Cream together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar.
Add in the egg and vanilla. Mix well until combined.
Add the dry mix until combined, then mix in oats.
Finally add the diced apple.
Cover and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes. Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake 12-14 minutes at 350°F.
They taste great warm, but if you can resist eating them for a couple of hours or even overnight, they taste even better. Store in refrigerator.