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Hodgepodge from The Geranium Farm

Debbie Sharp Loeb, teacher by training but full-time mom to a disabled son, craftsperson, bead artist, great cook, creative homemaker & terrific spotter of cool new products for everything under the sun, presents Hodgepodge: recipes, household hints, stories about children, friends & relatives, cool stuff, music, & much more.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dawn Direct Foam

I have found this new Dawn Direct Foam works great on tough greasy dishes. Good for that stuff that needs to be washed by hand or won't fit in the dishwasher. The special pump dispenses the soap into a foam so there is less waste. You keep the dispenser and refill it. It comes in 3 scents. Pictured above is Fresh Rapids. There are also Citrus Kick and Lime Surge scents. To get a dollar off coupon go to this link:

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Leaf Wars

Hopefully The Leaf Wars will soon be over. They have been late in falling this year in our area as we had extended warm weather and then so much rain. It seems the trees just didn't know what to to with their leaves. The last few days we've had some high winds and I'm hoping they'll all just fall off. My husband employs various methods as he goes to battle to try to get a handle on them. I'm tired of hearing the "Nnnnnnnnnnnn" drone of the leaf blower and the ride on lawn mower with grass and leaf catcher as he attemps to corral them. He also has a backpack blower in addition to the handheld and push blower. There's also something called a "Billy Goat" which I guess is the outdoor version of a indoor vacuum. He actually used it a couple of times before we had the grass catcher to vacuum up clippings when the lawn had gotten too high and it wasn't all mulched by the mower. Cracked me up! Out there vacuuming the lawn.
Being that our house is on a major road we don't have the luxury of just blowing them to the curb and waiting for the Township to come with the big vacuum truck to come and take them away like others in the neighborhood. Also because of how we are situated, there are some people across the road that will blow their leaves just to the edge of the lawn and wait for the winds to carry them down the road, which can often mean they end up by us!
Oh, how I miss the days of my childhood when you'd rake them in a pile and jump in them. Back then you were allowed to burn them and I kind of miss that smell and the popping of acorns. It meant that fall was here and winter was around the corner.

Copyright © 2005 Deborah Sharp Loeb

Monday, November 28, 2005

David's First Paycheck

Back in October David started a new day program as his name had finally come up on the waiting list with DDD (Department of Developmental Disabilities). Part of his program is working there assembling toiletry packs for hotels. Well, last week David came home with his first paycheck. From the way he was beaming you'd thought he'd won the lottery! For his 5 hours of work he earned $1.30, with 30 cents being withheld. (That's the amount I made per hour back in the 70's went I was in college and working at Orbach's.) We're so proud of him. He called up his grandparents right away to tell them and the next day he took the check back with him so he could show his friends. Thanksgiving day he sat on the sofa clutching his check so he could show everyone as they arrived. We're just going to frame this one and give him the money. He wants to buy some new games. Yep, David's a working man now!

Copyright © 2005 Deborah Sharp Loeb

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Color Purple

If you've been watching Oprah lately you know that The Color Purple has come to Broadway. We were in the area so here's a picture of the theater where it opens on December 5th. Currently it is in previews. Want to know more? Go here:

(If you look closely can see the Late Show theater in the background.)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

"The Pumpkin"
Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and South, come the pilgrim and guest,
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored,
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before.
What moistens the lips and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich pumpking pie?

-John Greenleaf Whittier

A Very Happy Thanksgiving to All!
...and don't forget to leave some room for the pie : )

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Radio City Music Hall

Lobby and Grand Staircase

The Rockettes

"Parade of the Wooden Soldiers"

Santa puts a pillow at the end for the last wooden soldier.

"Living Nativity"

By now you may have been wondering just why I was in New York City with my brother. Well, he has an old college friend, Barbara VanZandt, who is the Wardrobe Supervisor at Radio City Music Hall. She called him and asked if he was interested in 2 free tickets for a rehearsal show. Oh, but of course!
The last time we had seen show was in 1993. It was the first time for my boys who were 6 and 12 at the time. Now the weird thing about this is that the 2 times I went as a child, I was 6 for one show and 12 for the other! Now how do I remember this? Well, back at that time they also showed a movie and the two movies we saw were Auntie Mame (1958) and Father Goose (1964). We hadn't planned it that way, we just figured it out after we had come home and looked up the years that the two movies had come out. I think that's kinda cool.
Oh, also before we saw the show we went on the Radio City Stage Door Tour. Since there were 6 of us they made us a group by ourselves which was nice. If you go to the show you really should try to do the tour. The boys thought it was neat. We saw the costume shop, one of the two art deco apartments that are used for receptions, a private enclosed booth that is used by celebrities to see the show, watched a movie about the Hall being built and the opening night, and there is even a Rockett in costume in the rehearsal hall that we took our picture with.

The show starts with The Mighty Wurlitzer Organ, which we didn't get to see this time as there was a musicans strike, which I think was settled the next day. That we did miss! It is followed by an Overture and then there are 10 scenes to the show. I've included a picture of the Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, the part where they all fall. It's a family favorite. Back in 1993 when we took my dad he had tears in his eyes at this scene which of course got my brother and I all choked up too.
The Living Nativity comes at the end and is just wonderful with live animals and beautiful narration.

Radio City Music Hall Website:

Copyright © 2005 Deborah Sharp Loeb

(In Paul's first teaching job he worked with a girl who was a Rockett. She taught dance.)
Note: I don't know if picture taking would be allowed during a regular show, as I said this was a rehearsal show.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ellen's Stardust Diner

While in NYC we had dinner at Ellen's Stardust Diner. It's a fun place to eat with a singing wait staff. We had been there before and since it was in the area where we were going we thought we'd go back. Why not see a little show with your dinner? .... and there was one song right after another that night! That's our waitress Denise in the bottom photo's.

At the website you can look around, see the menu, and get additional information like location, and times.

For one review of this diner go to:

Monday, November 21, 2005

Late Show from the old Ed Sullivan Theater

51 W 52nd St
Last week I was in New York City with my brother and I thought I'd share some pictures I took from there.

For an article about Ed Sullivan:

For more about the theater:

For additional photos of the inside go to:

The picture at the bottom shows the beautiful entrance.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A-Pass-Along (Sweet & Creamy Pumpkin Dip)

1 pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
1 tbs. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. orange extract
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

Ginger Snap cookies, fruit, etc.

Blend cream cheese and confectioners sugar (in a food processor if you have one) until smooth. Add pumpkin and remaining ingredients. Blend thoroughly. Chill 30 minutes or until ready to serve.

Dottie Pratt
All Saints' Church
Frederick, MD

Friday, November 18, 2005

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

2 - 10 oz. pkgs. frozen chopped broccoli
2 - 5 oz. jars KRAFT OLD ENGLISH pasteurized process cheese spread
(Note: small glass jar with a blue lid on aisle shelf – not refrigerated)
20 RITZ crackers

Steam broccoli just until thawed and hot. Drain and squeeze broccoli well to remove excess water. Return broccoli to warm pot and add cheese. Mix well. Add 15 crumbled crackers and mix again. Place mixture in a small glass baking dish. Crumble the 5 remaining crackers on the top of the mixture and dot with butter.

Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

This recipe is easily halved or tripled.

This recipe comes from my brother, John and is a family favorite.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pumpkin Yams

2 pounds fresh yams peel, steam cook until tender, cool
2 Tblsp. brown sugar
5 eggs
5 Tblsp. flour
1 3/4 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Mix all ingredients together in a food processor with the knife blade.

1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup oatmeal
3 Tblsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. melted unsalted butter
Mix ingredients together and spread on top before baking.
Bake: 350' uncovered for 45 minutes

I made this recipe up based on the Carrot Souffle'.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Carrot Souffle'

1 pound cooked carrots - mashed
3 eggs
3 Tblsp. flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 stick melted unsalted butter
dash of cinnamon
(and you can add a little sugar to your
carrots if you think they're not sweet enough)

Mix all the ingredients together. A food processor with a knife blade works best.
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup oatmeal (or original recipe called for cornflake crumbs)
3 Tblsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. melted butter
Mix together and spread over the carrot mixture.
Bake: 350' uncovered for 45 minutes.
If doubling, use the recipe to follow for the Pumpkin Yams as a guide.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Picture ... as requested.

OK - here's a picture of me as requested.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Paper Clip Project

Eighth graders in the small town of Whitwell, Tennessee, created a monument to commemorate Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Their project was inspired by Europeans who wore paper clips on their lapels as a statement of protest against the Nazis. It originally honored Johann Valer, the Norwegian Jew who invented the paper clip. Their goal was to collect six million paper clips, one for each Jewish victim of the Holocaust. The students received over 20 million, along with letters from survivors and their families. The inspiration for the project came after the Associate Principal became inspired by a Holocaust survivor's speech. He wanted to teach the school's largely white and protestant student population about the issues of hate and intolerance and have them learn about the Holocaust. To go to the school's site go here:

HBO is presently airing the documentary this month. To find out when it is on go to this link and type in Paper Clips:

The book "Six Milllion Paper Clips: The Making of A Children's Holocaust Memorial" is available in bookstores nationwide and the video is at Blockbuster Video.

Friday, November 11, 2005

DJ's Fall Farm Fest Dessert - Maple Walnut Pie

The famous Q

Maple Walnut Pie
4 large eggs
3/4 cup real maple syrup
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cinnammon (to taste)
1 1/2 vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 unbaked 9" pie crust
Optional: whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for the top

1) Preheat oven to 375'
2) Beat together all ingredients , except walnuts and pie crust, until light and frothy.
3) Spread the walnuts into the unbacked crust. Pour in the batter.
4) Bake for 20 minutes or until solid in the center. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
5) Serve warm at room temperature, or cold, with or without whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

DJ's Brazilian Black Bean Soup from Fall Fest

Buddy and Deacon Joanna

Brazilian Black Bean Soup Yield: 6 - 8 servings

Preliminary: Soak 2 cups dry black beans in plenty of water for at least 4 hours (and preferably overnight)

2 cups dry black beans, soaked
6 cups water
1 Tblsp. olive oil
3 cups chopped onions
10 medium cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp. cumin
2 eo 2 1/2 tsp. salt
1 medium carrot
1 medium bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups orange juice
black pepper, to taste
cayenne, to taste
2 medium tomatoes, diced (optional)
Optional toppings: sour cream, cilantro, salsa

1) Place the soaked beans in a kettle or Dutch Oven with 4 cups of water. Bring to a biol, cover, and simmer until tender. (about 1 1/4 hours

2) Heat olive oil in a medium-sixed skillet. Add onions, half the garlic, cumin, salt, and carrot. Saute' over medium heat until the carrot is just tender. Add the remaining garlic and the bell pepper. Saute' until everything is very tender. (another 10-15 minutes) Add the sauteed mixture to the beans, scraping every last morsel.

3) Stir in orange juice, black pepper, cayenne, and optional tomatoes. Puree all or some of the soup in a blender or food processor, and return to kettle. Simmer over low heat 10-15 minutes more. Serve topped with an artful arrangement of sour cream, cilantro, and salsa.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"Surprise Rolls" from Fall Fest


This is the recipe I used for the rolls copied from the King Arthur Flour website. I made it with my mixer with the dough hook on the lowest speed. Now my special twist is that I made them into "Surprise Rolls". What's that you ask? Well, I went to and picked quotations from Friendship, Life, and Thanksgiving. I copied and pasted these to microsoft word and then cut them into strips, I rolled them up around the end of a pen then I placed them in a 2" x 3" piece of Reynold's Wrap Release Foil, the release side out and folded the foil around them. (Regular foil may work.)On the quotation by Pam Brown I highlighted " small, silly presents every so often". This one was the "winner". It was picked by Jen and the prize was a ceramic white frame which will be just perfect for one of Matt and Jen's wedding photo's.
Variation: Have your Thanksgiving guests write on slips of paper things they are thankful for and place these in the rolls and then let your guests guess who wrote it.

You can go to this link to get my printout for the quotes:
Surprise Roll Quotations

or for a party, how about famous movie quotes? You can go here for those:

Refrigerator Dough
For Quick Crusty Hard Rolls
Throw refrigerator dough together in the morning or evening, or whenever you have a few spare moments. The small amount of yeast allows the dough to keep in the fridge for up to 5 days without developing a "sour" taste. We kept one batch for 6 days; the rolls were a little denser, but still tasted good. Note: If you plan to use the dough within 12 hours or so, knead it and then let it rise at room temperature for 1 hour before refrigerating. — S.G.
4 1/2 cups (19 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) water
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
Manual /Mixer Method: Combine all of the ingredients and mix till cohesive. Knead the dough, by hand or mixer, about 5 to 10 minutes, till it's soft and somewhat smooth; it should be cohesive, but the surface should still be a bit rough. Place the kneaded dough in a greased bowl, cover it, and refrigerate at least overnight, or for up to 5 days.

Bread Machine Method: Place all of the ingredients into the bucket of your bread machine. Program the machine for dough or manual, and press Start. Check the dough after about 15 minutes; it should be smooth-looking, but very soft. Add additional water or flour as needed. Cancel the machine after the final kneading cycle, and refrigerate the dough as directed previously.

Shaping: Remove the dough from the refrigerator, fold it over gently a few times, and cut off the desired amount; you'll need 1 1/2 to 2 ounces per roll (golf-ball sized pieces); about 1 to 1 1/4 ounces per breadstick (about 1 1/4 inches in diameter); or 10 ounces (one-third of the dough) per baguette. Return any remaining dough to the refrigerator.

Form rolls by shaping the pieces into balls, then rolling them under your lightly cupped fingers on an unfloured work surface.
For breadsticks, roll each piece into a 12-inch rope, keeping the ends blunt (rather than tapered), so they'll bake evenly.
For baguettes, shape the dough into a rough, slightly flattened oval, cover it with greased plastic wrap, and let it rest for 15 minutes. Fold the dough in half lengthwise, and seal the edges with the heel of your hand. Flatten it slightly, and fold and seal again. With the seam-side down, cup your fingers and gently roll the dough into a 14-inch log.

Place the shaped rolls, breadsticks or baguette onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, cover, and let them rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until they're very puffy. (Note: I found making a little X or cross a top the dough on the rolls makes them easier to break open when they're done as they have a very hard crusty exterior.)

Bake the rolls or the baguette in a preheated 425°F oven for 15 to 18 minutes, till they're golden brown. Bake the breadsticks for 12 to 15 minutes (for soft breadsticks) or, for crisp breadsticks, bake them in a preheated 375°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Yield: 30 ounces of dough, enough for 15 to 20 rolls, 28 12-inch breadsticks, or three baguettes.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Recipe from Fall Geraniumfest - Italian Beef Soup

Barbara and Buddy

This is the soup I brought. It's a hearty soup for a fall or winter day.

Italian Beef Soup
(I double all these ingredients and make it in a very large pot)

1 pound of ground beef - browned and drain off the fat
Then add:
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz.) can red kidney beans (which I leave out)
6 cups water
3 Knorr Beef boullion cubes
1 Tablespoon parsley
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp oregano
Bring this to a boil and then simmer , covered 20-25 minutes.

Then Add: 2 cups of shredded cabbage
1/2 cup frozed green beans
Bring to boil, cover and simmer 30 minutes, adding your desired pasta the last 10 - 15 minutes or whatever time the pasta takes.
This last time I made it I removed some liquid to a separate pot and cooked my pasta al dente, and then drained the soup back into the pot. I refrigerated the soup overnight with the pasta in a separate container and added it back just shortly before serving and that way the pasta wasn't over cooked. The original recipe calls for elbows but I used Gemelli and I liked them better.
Serve with nice warm crusty rolls with a garlic herb butter.
(A recipe for those will be forth coming.)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Fall Geraniumfest

Matt and the Mrs. Matt-to-be, Jen

Yesterday was our Fall Geraniumfest and Matt, our web dude guy was there with his fiancee, Jen. Yep, all hail to Matt who makes the Farm look beautiful and run smoothly. We couldn't do it without him. As Martha Stewart would say, he's a good thing! We all told Matt he should write a little something, especially after we found out he was an English'll be waiting to hear from you. No pressure..Hee..hee!
It was good to see Buddy again, and hear that sweet southern drawl, and DJ kept us rolling with all her accents...what a hoot!
We dined outside on such a gorgeous Indian summer day, just perfect. There will be some recipes, but of course, so stay tuned, more good stuff to come!

Friday, November 04, 2005

The History of Thanksgiving

"Our rural ancestors, with little blest,
Patient of labour when the end was rest,
Indulged the day that housed their annual grain,
With feasts, and off'rings, and a thankful strain."
- Robert Herrick from A Thanksgiving To God, For His House

The first Thanksgiving which was an autumn harvest feast that the Pilgrims shared with the Wampanoag Indians was nothing like what we celebrate today. Many of the foods we eat were not at this feast. The Pilgrims didn't even eat with forks. They used spoons, knives, and ate with their fingers. Large cloth napkins were used to wipe their hands or pick up hot foods.

You can find out more about the first Thanksgiving, Mayflower Myths, and there is even an interview with two of the actors portraying Pilgrims from the Plimoth Plantation at this link from The History Channel:

I've been to the Plimoth Plantation and it's a very interesting place to visit.
This link will take you there:

Nearby is the Mayflower II which is also facinating to see.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Pumpkin Cheesecake

"What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?"
- Erma Bombeck

Preheat oven to 325'
On the bottom rack place a 13" x 9" roasting pan
filled halfway with water

Use a 10" spring form pan

Crust - 40 Gingersnap cookies, crumbled
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
Mix the ingredients together and press into the spring form pan to make the crust.

Filling - Beat for 3 minutes
3 (8 oz.) packages of softened cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar

Then beat in: 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

Gradually beat in: 6 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour filling into crust. Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour 20 minutes or until edges are golden and middle is set. Turn off the oven and let stand in oven for 30 minutes. Then cool completely, cover and refrigerate overnight. Best made the day before.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Requesting - Your Thanksgiving Tips, Recipes, and Stories

"Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence."
-Erma Bombeck

With Thanksgiving just around the corner I'd like you to send in your special tips, recipes, or stories for this holiday.
Here are a few of my tips:

- Have your table set ahead of time.

- Line the cavity of the turkey with culinary cheesecloth and then put in your stuffing. When the turkey is done you can pull all the stuffing out at once. If you can't find the cheesecloth you can use those oven brown in bags but be sure to poke a bunch of holes in it before you put it in so the juices from the turkey can get into the stuffing.

- When you're letting the turkey cool down before carving, cover it with a clean wet towel to help it keep it's moistness.

- Although we are only 8 having dinner, for years I was making a very large turkey so there would be enough for leftovers. Of course this requires getting up at the crack of dawn on a day you could normally sleep a little later to get that big sucker in there in plenly of time to hopefully get done, with everyone looking for that little timer to pop so you can finally eat! Doesn't it always take longer than it says it will?
Well, for the past few years I've greatly simplfied that! Days before I make a turkey, usually that frozen one you get for free if you've spent X amount of dollars on groceries. I carve that one all up, put it away, and it's ready for people to take home for leftovers. You can put a damp paper towel (or if you're Martha Stewart a damp linen towel) in with the meat to keep it moist. You can make up your gravy now too if you make it from scratch because you already have the drippings you need. This also allows for more dressing to be cooked in the turkey, which always tastes better.

Now on Thanksgiving I do another turkey, this time fresh so there is no sweat wondering if it's throughly defrosted. The rest of the stuffing can be cooked in this one. Also because it's not huge it doesn't have to be started so early and it doesn't take forever to get done! If you don't want/need so much dressing cooked in the turkey you can do this one without it and it'll be done even sooner.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Birthday Remembered

This past Saturday would have been my mother’s 85th birthday. In previous years we’d go out to Ohio in mid July to the cemetery in the little town where my father’s grandparents had lived to visit her grave in the family plot. Drawing water from a pump we’d water the shrubs, clean off the headstones, pull any weeds, and maybe plant some flowers. Sometimes I’d take a silk flower vine and wrap it around the marker as it seemed to fit just perfectly.
Last summer was the 15th anniversary of her death and it would have been impossible for my dad to have made the trip. It was then when we decided to move things closer to home and we planted two azaleas in the memorial garden at church.
This year we decided we do something on her birthday. I dug up some of my Stella D’ Oro flowers and we transplanted those into the garden at church. Afterwards we attended Saturday evening service and Barbara was kind enough to include my mom in the sermon. Afterwards we all went out to dinner to a little restaurant in town. I’d like to think that my mom was there too, knowing we had remembered after all . . .

Copyright © 2005 Deborah Sharp Loeb

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