February Haiku Challenge: Sleeping in, Eating out, Eating in (and SNOW everywhere all the time!)

Feb 12

Sleep in:  late school start.
Why are we still behind time?
Some things never change.

image by Dauvit Alexander via Flickr CC
image by Dauvit Alexander via Flickr CC

Feb 13

Snowy drive ‘cross town
slip, sliding our way to YUM
Viet, Thai, Lao lunch

Vietnamese Beef Salad, Mekong Cafe LLC Milwaukee Lunch Buffet — Awesomely delicious!

Feb 14

Making what I want —
Not waiting, hungry to sit.
Valentines at home!

Valentine's Day roses
image by Philip (outdoorPDK) via Flickr CC

(See my food blog soon for tonight’s recipes!  Aunt Helen’s Ham Loaf, veggies stir-fry, Martha Stewart’s Molten Lava Cakes — The Heat is ON!)


“the Heat is ON!” — my new recipe blog!

Dear Tromp Queen friends,

I invite you to check out my new recipe blog!  I really don’t want to turn The Tromp Queen into a food blog, but I frequently find myself wanting to share a particularly yummy, easy to make, wonderful recipe.  I also am planning to work on a family cookbook (one or more!) and think this blog could be a good way to help that project stay focused.

My first post on the new blog is a recipe for Black Bean Soup.


Thank you, as always, for reading, commenting and encouraging me in my writing and blogging ventures!

Aunt Ruthie’s Terrific Toffee

Image by The Tromp Queen, CC license
Image by The Tromp Queen, CC license

I realize I’m a little late sharing this for this year, but this is my favorite Christmas candy of all time. I want to say “THANK YOU!” to readers of The Tromp Queen. I’m thankful for the journey this blog has taken me on with all of you. Please accept this token of my gratitude:

 Aunt Ruthie’s Terrific Toffee recipe.

Aunt Ruthie has been gone a little over 8 years now.  I think of her often and miss her so much!

My Dad was one of 8 children. Aunt Ruthie was one of his older sisters. Way into her late 80’s she was “taking care of the old people.” She would make pounds and pounds of Christmas candy and home-made noodles and baked goods each year (fudge, toffee, pecan rolls, cinnamon rolls, butterhorn rolls, and more). All through the Holiday season, lots of goodies would be sitting on top of her washer and dryer on her screened-in porch (between the kitchen and garage). Friends and family could help themselves as they were coming or going from her house. She was tiny, feisty, hard-working, witty and quick-to-laugh. She loved the Cubs and the Republican Party! She collected Hummel figurines, old dishes and various antiques. She was a FABULOUS cook.

We drove by Aunt Ruthie’s grave today. She and her husband, Uncle Spike (his real name was Dale, but he lost both hands in a corn picker and wore metal hooks that opened and closed so he could drive and do all sorts of things) are buried in a little country graveyard a couple miles from the nearest small town, just down the road from where my cousins now live in a new house built on her old farm land.

Agate gravestone
Agate gravestone

Their headstone is a huge agate rock that was found on their farm. Aunt Ruthie had it polished and cut when Uncle Spike died in a tragic car accident when I was 15 years old.
I could write many blogs posts just about Aunt Ruthie and Uncle Spike, but I will not keep you waiting for the recipe any longer!

Aunt Ruthie’s Toffee

1 c. packed brown sugar
2 sticks of butter
chopped pecans
good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips or bars

In a saucepan, heat the sugar and butter on medium heat until it reaches 280 degrees.  (My mom’s note says you “can turn it on high” 🙂  Stir most of the time.

Butter a pan (jelly roll type or cookie sheet).  Crush or finely chop pecans (or whatever nuts you like) and spread them around on the buttered pan.

(I would probably toast them first, but I don’t think Aunt Ruthie did that).

Pour hot the sugar mixture over the nuts.  When it sets up some, put chocolate on top (chips or broken up bars).  It will melt.  Spread the chocolate around. Break it into pieces when it has cooled.


Thank you, dear Aunt Ruthie!

What once was lost; Now is found!

What once was lost; Now is found!

I’ve been missing my favorite recipe notebook for several months now.

When I noticed it was not in the usual places, I figured it had just gotten buried in a stack of cookbooks or hidden under a stack of dish towels or hot pads or something.  (My kitchen is a “creative” kitchen.  Not the tidiest place in the world, usually).  The weeks went by and I became a little more concerned.  I did a pretty thorough cleanup and still did not find it.

Now I was really getting concerned.

I asked my family if anyone had seen it lately.  I did a deep search.  Still nothing.  My husband assured me he did not throw it away.  I was still worried it might have fallen into a trash can or gotten caught up in a pile of papers and put in the recycling bin.

I started making a mental list of the recipes I had in the notebook.  Which ones could I get again from the original sources?  Many were from friends in other places we’ve lived.

Some were recipes I had tweaked and/or created.
Some were recipes from our children’s pre-school.
Some were recipes my mother-in-law made for us when she visited after our first child was born.
Some were recipes from my mom, written down in her very colloquial vernacular.
Some were recipes from other countries.

Some I had clipped recipes from magazines and newspapers over the years, but always including only the best ones.

Things didn’t just get into that notebook automatically.  They had to be GOOD.  Extra special.  Recipes I used often.

Well worn edges show how much I use this!
Well worn edges show how much I use this!

I sighed inwardly.  I sighed outwardly.

I resigned myself to the fact it was gone.  I would have to re-create the notebook to the best of my abilities.

I just recently began asking friends to locate the recipes I had gotten from them.

Then, today—

I've been writing recipes and cutting/pasting recipes that I especially like in this notebook for at least 15 years or more!
I’ve been writing recipes and cutting/pasting recipes that I especially like in this notebook for at least 15 years or more!

I found it!  It was indeed buried in the farthest corner of my kitchen counter (way back behind the dish drainer).  It was under a stack of insulated lunch bags that rarely get used and behind a bin of empty spice jars that are waiting to be re-filled.  (I LOVE Penzey’s Spices!!!)

I’m so happy!

In honor of this finding, I will share my mom’s macaroni salad recipe.

Boil elbow macaroni until not quite done.  (I would call that al dente but these are her words.)  Rinse with cold water and drain.  (You can use anywhere from 2 c. to a whole 1 lb. box or more).  Squirt it with yellow mustard.  Whack up celery and onions. Add sweet pickle relish and some of the juice from the jar, too.  In a bowl, blob of mayo and add a bit of sugar.  Thin the mayo with a little water.  Chop up 2 to 4 hard boiled eggs.  Add all this together.  Might need to add some milk.