Monday, January 26, 2009

Mouse + Snow = No Internet

Why hasn't there been a blog in almost two weeks?
For the last two weeks we have had the most dreadful sub-zero cold snap in recent history. When just normal winter cold happens, the mice (remember, this is the country) for whatever mousy reason, go into the phone company's breaker boxes, and power stations and build little nests around the wires and when they are tucked away in their newly-built creations, they start chewing on the wires. This results in instant electrocution, unlucky mouse, and crackly, popcorn noises on the phone which means limited or no internet because the signal can't get through properly, unlucky me. So, in the mornings the internet is down, and in the afternoons, there is spotty service which doesn't help me at all since I have to blog before daylight.
My husband gets so angry every time this happens that I just didn't tell him for about a week. Early last week, he wanted an email sent to him from home to the office, and I finally had to break down and tell him that 'it was that time of year again'.
This has been going on for now 5 years that we have lived here. Oddly, I have become used to it. Eventually, the Windstream guys come around and fix the problem. Then, in the spring, the other scenario happens, torrential spring rains with driving winds push water into the breaker boxes and the wires get wet and it happens all over again. Crackly lines translate into sporadic internet service. And think, we ran a business out of this home office for 4 years! I have to smile when I think of the corporate office of one of the largest (and in my opinion the best) home improvement stores that were always so understanding, probably because their home office is in the country too. Even when we had turkeys last spring who for whatever reason decided that the back door and driveway were so much more exciting than their coop, and would gobble at the sound of a tractor driving by. So when David would step outside to talk and get some air, and the three turkeys at the sound of his voice would break into unison gobbles, even then, the corporate guys were cool about it.
It's just country living, and one can get spittin' mad, or just deal with it knowing that in good time, it all will work out. I opt to deal with it. Believe me the first year and a half, I did get mad and probably came across to Windstream and their guys like the crazy lady on the hill, but I could not would not believe that in the 21st century, mice still wreaked havoc on telephones which, in turn, translates into internet problems. It is true, and there is nothing one can do about it. Mice will always be in the country.
It was really maddening last week because Friday a week ago, I found the best meatball recipe that I wanted to share. Last Monday I had some exciting news which I have since forgotten, Wednesday I made ricotta gnocchi that I wanted to pass on to you. And then, this past Friday was National Pie Day. Kentucky has some wonderful pies none more famous than the Derby Pie. I am going to hold on to my Derby Pie recipe until we get closer to Derby. Did you know, I am "breaking the law" by calling it my Derby Pie recipe? Yep, a couple from Louisville in the late '60s trademarked the name, Derby Pie. Get real, a nut and chip pie laced with bourbon by any other name is still Derby Pie. I'll take my chances, and call it what it is.
Anyway, in my recipe research for another one of my cooking contest that I'm gearing up for, I rediscovered a recipe for Strawberry Pretzel Salad. The strangest sounding concoction. Many years ago, I was asked to make an anniversary dinner. The client gave me her Mom's recipes which included this salad recipe. I had never heard of it, and frankly, thought it sounded disgusting. I made a little bowl for myself, in the spirit of research of course. It was delicious. Odd, but tasty. Sweet, tart, salty, creamy, crunchy all in a congealed salad creation. I cannot resist a good congealed salad. So very American, and many times, as in this case, so southern. When you make it, you will dream of warmer weather and that other southern speciality to complement it, a cool sweet tea.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Serves: 8-10
2 cups crushed pretzels
3/4 cup melted butter
3 TB sugar, plus 3/4 cup sugar
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese
1 8 oz container whipped topping
2 3 oz pkgs strawberry gelatin dessert mix
2 cups boiling water
2 10 oz pkgs frozen strawberries
1 8 oz can crushed pineapple
Whipped topping or whipped cream, to garnish.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
For the crust, mix the pretzels, butter, and 3 TB sugar. Press this mixture into a 9 x 13 x 2 glass baking dish, and bake for 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and 3/4 cup of sugar. Fold in the whipped topping, and spread over the cooled crust. Refrigerate until well chilled.
In a small bowl, dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water, and allow to cool slightly. Add the strawberries, and pineapple, and pour over the crema cheese mixture. Refrigerate until serving time.
To serve, cut slices and serve with a dollop of whipped topping.

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