September 2009 Chickens in the Road Newsletter

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September 2009 Chickens in the Road Newsletter


*Story: Old, New, Borrowed, Blue
*Kitchen Extra: Testing, Testing (Three-Minute Chocolate Cake)
*Embarrassing Photo of the Month: Touching Up
*My Favorite Thing Right Now: A Very Clover Calendar
*Recent Highlights: A Clothesline, Maple Pecan Pie (with Bourbon), Night on the Farm, and More
*Sneak Peek: The Cheese Press
*Blast from the Past: Finding Sugar

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*Story: Old, New, Borrowed, Blue

I love my kitchen and I love little tiny kitchen gadgets. I’m not talking about complicated gadgets. Simple gadgets. Like measuring cups. I have all kinds of mismatched and assorted measuring cups–glass, metal, and plastic. Some are old. Some are new. Some are borrowed. Some are blue. I never seem to have enough of them.

I also love my canisters that I keep on the kitchen counter.


From left to right on the kitchen counter, I have flour (a giant canister! it needs refilling right now, too), sugar, homemade baking mix (see my Quick Mix recipe), and brown sugar.

I like my basic ingredients to be handy.

To make them even handier, I like to keep measuring cups right in the canisters.


I keep a one-cup measure in the flour. Most of what I use flour for is measured by the cup or can be eyeballed down to a half cup or whatever. I kinda sorta think this old metal measuring cup jumped into my pocket when I moved over from the old farmhouse because I don’t remember having it before that. Don’t tell Georgia.

This one in the sugar canister looks vaguely familiar, too.


Okay, okay, this one jumped in my pocket from the old farmhouse, too. YOU CAN’T GO TELLING GEORGIA. I’m attached to them. My love of baking, for some time put aside, was truly regained during the time I lived there so I’m sentimental about these measuring cups. Besides, how could I have old, new, borrowed, blue if I didn’t borrow? See? They’re just borrowed.

I keep a one-third cup measure in my sugar canister. Unless I’m canning and using massive amounts of sugar, I almost always measure out whatever I need using this one-third cup, eyeballing down to a quarter-cup, tripling up to a cup, etc.

More of my measuring cup collection is stashed in this deep kitchen drawer along with all sorts of other gadgets.


The orange and blue measuring cups are really, really old. The orange ones are the oldest. I’ve had them for about twenty-five years. The blue ones are probably twenty years old. There are cups missing in each set. The one-cup measure in the blue set got the handle broken off years ago. One of the orange cups has a melted spot on the handle from some kitchen mishap a long time ago that I don’t recall. Those cups have measured out countless pans of brownies and loaves of Grandmother Bread. They’ve been with me through countless apartments and houses. They were with me before my children were born.

I’m very attached to my measuring cups, did I mention that?

The pink and white measuring cups in the photo above were given to me a few years ago by a friend. One of the pink ones ended up taking up permanent residence in the homemade laundry detergent container, so that set isn’t quite complete for kitchen use, either.

Glass measuring cups are really handy for liquid measurements. I rarely use my glass measuring cups for anything but liquids. The two-cup measure is especially handy for big recipes.


But despite all these many and assorted measuring cups, when I get to baking, I don’t have enough. I put messy stuff like molasses and shortening in the cups and I don’t want to stop to wash them as I’m going through sometimes two or three recipes in a handful of hours.

I saw this report on the news recently about endorphins or something. (We don’t have to be precise when we’re looking for an excuse to shop, do we???) It was about how buying stuff is good for you. Releases endorphins (or something) which makes us happy. And healthy! And wealthy and wise! (Okay, got carried away there.) I don’t spend much money. In fact, I devote a good bit of effort into not spending money. Surely I am neglecting my mental health!


The good news in this report was that it’s not the amount of money you spend that is so healthy. It’s just the spending. In other words, you can get the same mental health boost out of buying, say, a set of new measuring cups as you can get from buying a new car. And the boost lasts just as long.

Armed with this healthful scientific knowledge, I knew what I had to do.

I had to buy this gorgeous set of red measuring cups.


A brand new complete set of measuring cups! In RED! How happy can one person get?

Well, I thought maybe, just maybe, I could get even happier after all so I bought this matching set of gorgeous red measuring spoons.


And it’s true! You can spend $5 and be just as happy as if you bought a new car.

You don’t even have to make payments or buy any insurance.

P.S. Don’t forget to not tell Georgia about this:


I’m on my $5 endorphin (or something) high and you can’t be messing that up!

*Kitchen Extra: Testing, Testing (Three-Minute Chocolate Cake)

I’ve been wanting to try this recipe ever since I saw it posted on the Chickens in the Road Forum. Nearly a year ago. What restraint I possess to have waited all this time! Okay, actually I forgot about it. Until just now. And so I decided I’d better make it real quick to test it out for you. Because I’m a giver like that.

(Original discussion on the forum: Read it here! Thank you to Miss Dana for this recipe.)

How to make Three-Minute Chocolate Cake:

1 large coffee mug or cereal bowl
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips
splash of vanilla

Place dry ingredients in mug or bowl and mix well. Add the egg and mix again. Pour in the milk and oil; mix well. Add chocolate chips and vanilla, mixing yet again. Put your mug or bowl in the microwave and cook for three minutes at 1000 watts. Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or dollop of whipped cream.

I used “Special Dark” cocoa powder and “Special Dark” chocolate chips (Hershey’s). The chocolate chips are optional–you could leave them out. (Why would you??)

I didn’t think I had any mugs that were large enough so I used a bowl. This recipe fits perfectly in a regular size bowl like you’d use for cereal or ice cream.

Having read the discussion on the forum about the recipe, I was careful to not try three minutes the first time as one user had commented that three minutes resulted in a hockey puck for them and I’m using an old microwave–I don’t even know what the wattage is. I started with two minutes then checked the cake. It wasn’t done. I proceeded in 20 second increments and it ended up taking me the whole three minutes. Still, I’d suggest that the first time you make this, do it for two minutes then in 20 seconds increments until you find out how it will work in your microwave.

I flipped it out of the bowl and onto a plate. The chocolate chips drop to the bottom as it bakes, so when you flip it over, they are on top. I topped it with whipped cream.


This was surprisingly delicious for something made so quickly! The cake was moist and perfect and very chocolatey. My kids weren’t home when I made this, but they are going to flip out when they find out about this super-fast chocolate cake trick! (It makes enough for two, by the way. Nobody else was home, so I had to manage by myself. It was a hardship!)

*Embarrassing Photo of the Month: Touching Up

Another seriously tragic revelation.


This would actually be far more embarrassing if I’d thought to take a picture of the inglorious state of this windowsill before painting it. But I carefully avoided that, in fact cluttered it up with all sorts of things to mask its inglorious state, for the entire year and a half while I was avoiding touching up the paint after we moved in. Morgan saw me with the paint can and said, “Shouldn’t you have done that a year and a half ago?” Well, yes, YES, I SHOULD HAVE, THANK YOU FOR POINTING THAT OUT. This windowsill, for some reason, was never painted at all, and there were other minor spots around the house that had been knicked when moving furniture in. It didn’t actually take that long to touch it up, maybe about an hour, if you don’t count the year and a half of procrastination time. If you count that, it took me a year and a half plus an hour to touch up the paint so no wonder I delayed this monumental task! Wouldn’t you avoid a chore that you knew was going to take a year and a half plus an hour? (Whew, I feel validated now.)

*My Favorite Thing Right Now: A Very Clover Calendar

The queen of being the center of attention is in her element!


It’s A Very Clover Calendar — twelve months of photos with accompanying quotes from the wit, wisdom, and enduring arrogance that is Clover. Get it here! (THINK OF THE ENDORPHIN HIGH!)

*Recent Highlights: A Clothesline, Maple Pecan Pie (with Bourbon), Night on the Farm, and More

In the barn, you’ve got to see the Ruckus when I tried to help the ducks keep track of each other (which landed me in the doctor’s office), Night on the Farm with all the animals, and Sprite and Fanta coming home in Here Come the Brides. Find all my cute farm animal stories here.

Check out everything I did with A Box of Apples and also make some Flour Tortillas, and Maple Pecan Pie (with Bourbon). Don’t miss a thing! Get all my recipes.

I was putting up anything and everything from my garden and the Farmers Market in Harvest Home and A Good Tired, putting up A Clothesline, and putting up with lazy chickens in Where’s That Little Red Hen When You Need Her. See all my country living stories.

Don’t miss Coloring Queen Anne’s Lace, Fall Fashion, and How to Make a Corn Husk Doll. See all my other posts in crafts.

Also see all my garden stories.

*Sneak Peak: The Cheese Press

Construction has begun!


Building a homemade cheese press isn’t really a longterm project, but we’re still gathering parts to finish it up. Watch the blog for the homemade cheese press plans and the making of farmhouse cheddar soon!

*Blast from the Past: Finding Sugar

It’s never easy to move cats. Several of my cats disappeared, for varying amounts of time, after we first moved into our new farmhouse. Sugar–my dear little calico–was lost for nearly a month and I’d almost given up hope.

Read the nail-biter, Finding Sugar, for the whole story.

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Thank you for your comments, your support, and just for being there. Here’s hoping to see you on the Chickens in the Road Forum (make friends, have fun, come join us!) and every day on the farmhouse blog!



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