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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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April 12, 2010

Grammy and Johnny - Part II - Wrapping Up

Just a little bit more to report.  Thursday morning came cloudy and foreboding.  Johnny had mentioned feeding the ducks at the river and I had bought that wonderful loaf of bread in Charleston, which meant the loaf end I had that was getting stale could be used for duck food.  We lolly-gagged around for a bit but finally decided we'd better get a move on if we wanted to get down there and back before it started to rain.  So we struck out into what felt like gale-force winds, with the dark clouds getting darker and the temperature pretty cool.  I tried to convince Johnny that if we went in at the closest entrance (where the ducks aren't) and started throwing the bread in there, they might see it and come get it, but he was insistent that we go down to the further entrance where the ducks hang out.  So, we did.  There weren't many ducks about - I told Johnny they were probably all taking cover under the bushes or something.  But we got our bread thrown out and the ducks that were on the ball got breakfast.

We started back and had just left the park when we felt the first drops.  We ran for the covered parking garage and by the time we got there, it was raining.   I fail as a grandmother because I hadn't brought an umbrella, neither one of us were wearing a jacket and I hadn't even brought along my purse.  By the time we took cover in the bookstore in Pullman Square, we were fairly damp and it was really coming down.  So I pondered a bit and decided I'd better call for a cab.  When he got there I told him we just needed to go about 2 blocks to the condo and that I didn't have any money but was going to send Johnny up to get it.  And, thank heavens for Huntington.  He said "no, that's all right you can go get it" and I said okay, I'd leave Johnny at the entrance so the driver would know I was coming back, and he said no again - said we could both go.  So that's what we did and made it home relatively dry.  Always an adventure! :)

We had a lot of cooking to do - cupcakes and ravioli - so we got started on the cupcakes first.  Johnny helped here and there and when we got the cupcakes (banana cupcakes) out of the oven, they had to cool before frosting (with a peanut butter frosting), so we stopped for lunch. 

After lunch, we started on the ravioli.  Made the dough with no problems and wrapped it up to rest.  Then we made the frosting - some confectioners sugar, a stick of butter, a half cup of peanut butter, and 8 ounces of cream cheese!!  Could there be any more fat in it??!  I don't think so.  This was a magazine recipe I had found prior to Johnny's visit and had never made.  I was worried about the cupcakes because when they came out of the oven, they sort of sank in the middle and when I took them out of the tin, the butter in the batter had soaked through the papers!  But we frosted them with the kitchen reeking of peanut butter.  I tried a cupcake that had broken - put some of the frosting on it and ate it.  It was, I guess, strangely good.  Or maybe strange but not bad?  Or ???  At any rate, there was too much batter for 12 cupcakes so we had put the remaining batter in a little loaf pan and baked that and frosted it.  I decided to refrigerate that one and we could try it in the morning - after all, bananas, cheese and peanut butter - one could say that had some food value in it.  Johnny ate about half of his and decided he was full.  I tried to get him to admit that he wasn't liking them very much (which usually he's very vocal about any food he doesn't like) but no, he liked it, he was just full (after two bites of half of a miniature loaf).  Meanwhile, I kept eating mine and wondering why.  But it was one of those things you keep taking another bite of to see if you can decide if you think it's good or not.  Very long story short - Johnny never did eat anymore, finally admitted that the frosting was very peanut buttery (which it was), I ate another cupcake that night and one Friday morning, and threw the rest out.  I knew if I kept them, I'd keep eating them and they just weren't worth the calories.

Then came the ravioli and I am sorry to report that I had all kinds of trouble getting it rolled out.  It really was a nice batch of dough but for some reason I couldn't get it to go through the thinnest setting so where the two layers of dough came together to seal the pocket, it was too thick really and didn't cook up nice and soft the way it should have.  I had made the chicken filling and had the meatball mix browned and ready so I made 6 raviolis of each.  We ate it with the leftover spaghetti sauce and it was all right but you really couldn't taste the fillings, or at least any difference between them.  I don't know if the sauce was too strongly flavored or what.  Anyway, I was disappointed in them.  But for dessert, I took some of the pumpkins raviolis I had made a while ago and frozen, cooked them, stirred them into some melted butter and we sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar.  We both agreed that was the best part of the meal. :)  Oh, and my great idea of the oil/flour spray for the ravioli press?  That didn't work - it comes out of the can like it is jet propelled and so you have great puddles of it everywhere.  I threw that out too.

Chicken mix is cooking on the left.  It smelled delicious - had a base of carrots, celery and scallion minced fine and a little bit of Marsala wine and then it gets minced all together.  But in the ravioli, just not much flavor impact.  Yesterday I added some mayo and curry powder to the leftover mix and made a sandwich which was pretty good.

Friday, we went over to the library and worked up in their book sale room alphabetizing all their science fiction books.  We were there by ourselves and Johnny was really a big help and seemed to enjoy it.  When I asked him Friday evening what had been his favorite parts of his visit, working at the library was near the top of the list!   When he first got here, I had bought him the first and second Harry Potter books because at his house he had been reading the last one.  I told him NO, NO, NO - he had to read them all before he read the last one.  So, he had just finished reading the first one Thursday night and after we were finished working, we were looking at the kids books and they had several of the HP's so I bought him number three too.  And we found a VCR tape of the first Harry Potter movie and watched that Friday evening.  He took the number two book home with him and I told him I'll send him the third one a week or so after he finishes the second one.  Then we packed up, had one more Crazy Eights session at Starbucks and that was pretty much it.  It was a lovely day Saturday to drive up and meet his mom and Sophia for lunch and then I drove home very quietly all by myself.  Always takes a day or two to get used to no one saying "hey, Grammy". : )


Christopher said...

Sounds like all in all, another good visit with Johnny...!

Mary Lynne said...

It WAS a real nice visit I think. And I think he basically thought so too. I think he thinks I'm weird sometimes, but then I think he's pretty weird sometimes too! :) But he's good company...and a very nice little boy.

vrmichie said...

Bwware of recipes with peanut butter -- your cupcakes sound really revolting (I'm with Johnny on two bites and out) but then I once made pork chops with peanut butter from what I thought was a yummy-sounding recipe and I had to throw them out. All in all, it sounds like you both had a really good, fun visit.

Mary Lynne said...

It wasn't revolting...just strange. The cake was actually quite good - tender, moist and just enough banana flavor. The frosting...actually, I think it might have been better without the cream cheese - that gave it a slightly tart taste which was the strange part I think...

January said...

That sounds great! And you're a good influence, making him start those books from the beginning so he can know what a load of B-S the movies are. I salute you!

Mary Lynne said...

Thanks, January - I guess the old Ogre of Oney Avenue still functions occasionally... :)

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