Monday, May 30, 2011


I am a sucker for blueberries.  I love them - on cereal, on ice cream, by the handful, baking with them, making blueberry sauce.  Yum.

This weekend I discovered a brick of cream cheese in the fridge that wasn't used when making Easter candy.  Plus I had lots of blueberries (some recently bought and some of my prized Newbury Blueberry stash in the freezer).  Hmm... what could I do with both of them?  Blueberry cheesecake bars! 

I found a recipe that called for refrigerated sugar slice & bake cookie dough and pie filling, but that was easy enough to swap out with my Evil Bar crust and blueberry filling from scratch.  As I'm whipping this together, I was told the blueberry cake I baked last week was pretty good, and would I mind making another?  Sure.  Plenty of blueberries to go around.

The kitchen smelled wonderful while these were baking.  I've discovered the blueberry bars are good straight from the oven, chilled or frozen.  They will make good cool treats for the warm days ahead!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Baking Overload

Why bake one batch of something when you can do two?  or four?  My mother probably taught me that.

Zucchini bread, Pumpkin Bread and Blueberry Cake
As luck would have it, tomorrow is both my turn at Breakfast Club and an ice cream holiday at work.  Breakfast Club means I'm baking breakfast stuff.  An ice cream holiday means I'm making ice cream base to churn at work in my old 4-quart White Mountain ice cream maker.  Its a tradition I started in 2004 or 2005:  I bring in the maker and custard base, everyone else brings makings for sundaes.  We churn at noon and have sundaes at 2:30.  We do this the Friday before Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and possibly Columbus Day.  Not a bad way to kick off a long weekend.

On top of Breakfast Club and ice cream, I found a recipe for pumpkin butterscotch cookies I've been dying to try.  What's one more recipe?  I spent this evening making zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, pumpkin butterscotch cookies, blueberry cake and ice cream base.  There will be lots of happy people tomorrow!

For me, baking is synonymous with disaster area.  The kitchen is cluttered with piles of measuring cups and bowls, dirty pans and cookie sheets.  All of it dusted with flour and bits of cinnamon or nutmeg.  When I'm cooking this many things, they're all in different stages, so I'll be mixing batter at the same time I'm baking or having items cool.  I usually run out of counter space halfway through the evening.


But what a haul!  Zucchini bread that squirrels would die for (or at least chew through window screens to get at).  Nutty pumpkin bread.  Golden brown blueberry cake with Newbury blueberries - I can't wait to have a slice.  Lastly, the pumpkin cookies -  the brand new recipe.  They're a bit odd looking.  Not quite as pretty as the photo on the recipe.  It's a cake cookie, so it's light and sweet.  But I like the flavor.  I think they're a keeper.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Unhappiness is...

...being forced to swallow bactrim.  As antibiotics go, bactrim is the worst tasting of the bunch.  I've seen my pigs suck down doxycycline like there's no tomorrow.  Baytril isn't so bad, either.  But bactrim?  Even with flavoring?  Yuck.

Bertie spent most of yesterday attempting to imitate a coffee peculator.  I couldn't tell if it was in the nasal cavity or the lungs.  But it had gone on long enough that I got concerned.  The vet was closed today, so I pulled out the antibiotic I had on hand and started her on that (bactrim is not my choice for respiratory infections).

Mama, why are you doing this to me?
I've never seen a guinea pig take an antibiotic quite like Bertie.  Usually, when you get more than 0.5cc of liquid into a guinea pig's mouth, they start chewing and swallowing.  No matter how vile it is.  Bertie doesn't chew until after the syringe is out of her mouth.  She hasn't figured out how to spit it out.  So she'll sit there for several seconds, mouth slightly agape letting whatever is in there to dribble out.  Only when she decides it won't go away on its own, will she chew and swallow.

She hasn't fought me and the syringe yet.  But give her a day or two to associate the syringe with the terrible taste.  I wonder if she'll be as much of a fighter as Willow can be.  Bad pigs.

Look at that pathetic face.  I am so mean.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pinni Goes For The Kill

In the last month or so, Pinniped has picked up this odd habit of shaking her favorite treat before settling down to eat it.  She's the only one of the three who does this.  I've seen Willow toss her head and run with something delicious, but generally speaking, she doesn't wrestle it to the ground.  And Bertie doesn't waste time playing with her food.

It reminds me of a dog shaking a stuffed animal.  The intensity doesn't seem to correlate to the type of treat she's about to eat:  what causes a frenzy one day will be wolfed down without fanfare the next.  One of the first times she did this, I was holding her and she managed to whack me across the face with the cantaloupe.  Excitable rodent.

Since then, I have been trying to video her doing this.  All sorts of videos, all with lackluster performance.  On a whim this morning, I picked up the camera before I gave her a slice of cantaloupe.  Success!

 Kill it, Pinni!  Kill it!

What a goofy guinea pig.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Guess Who Is Seven?

Today Willow is seven years old. Seven!  This is quite a milestone, considering she's had ovarian cysts, passed a large bladder stone only three months ago and has outlived her daughter by over a year.  Willow has been living with me since July 2005.  The adoption paperwork indicated her daughter, Pippin, was 9 months old, so I worked Willow's age and birth date from there. She is my longest lived pig to date.  Go Willow!

We jokingly refer to Willow as the Cranky Old Bat.  Sunday morning she demanded breakfast so loudly we could hear her all the way to the back of the house on the second floor!  She's showing some signs of her age. She sleeps heavily.  Occasionally she is slow to realize there are goodies in her cage long after the Newbies have devoured their portions.  I wonder about her hearing and eyesight (I suspect she has selective hearing).  She is also a bit too skinny for my liking.  I have to keep telling her, Mangia! Mangia!  (Do guinea pigs know Italian?)

The last two years Willow has been on death's door in the springtime; I was positive she wouldn't survive.  But she is a tough old bird.  This spring she is in better shape than she has been in a long while, which is a welcome change.  Overall, Willow is one happy little pig.  Chewing bars when she shouldn't.  Wheeking loudest for food.  Begging for treats whenever she thinks she can get away with it.  We're looking forward to a great summer filled with grass and sunshine.  Happy Birthday, Willow.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

First Outing of the Season

The temperature crept up to 69F this afternoon, with enough sunshine to dry out and warm up the back lawn.  Finally!  A chance to let the girls kick up their heels outside.  After a short, frantic search for grids and connectors, I had assembled the cage and started transporting pigs.

Heaven!  Pinni hit the ground eating.  Willow tried to eat as much grass as she could without budging from her cozy.  Bertie initially panicked, ousted Willow from the cozy and hid in it.  Silly pig.  A few minutes later they were all grazing contentedly in the bright green grass.

Unfortunately, the pigs only had about 10 minutes of sun before storm clouds rolled in.  Fifteen minutes later the clouds and the thunder became so ominous I decided to bring them back indoors.  In my haste to grab the girls, Bertie got loose.  She made a mad dash for the trees before I managed to nab her.  She lost a clump of fur in the struggle.  Poor traumatized Bertie.  Poor traumatized me!  I should have known better than to lift the grids off the ground to catch her.

Overall, a glorious time was had by all.  All three are thoroughly sacked out right now.  Amazing what a bit of sunshine, fresh air and spring grass can do to a pig.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bertie's Love Affair Continues

Last summer Bertie was in love with the hay rack.  After several modifications, I successfully barred her from sleeping in it.  Poor Bertie.  She mourned her loss for months, staring longingly at the hay rack for hours from the top of the step stool.  Her mourning finally ended when I replaced the step stool with a hammock.  It was an adequate substitution that allowed her to be near to her beloved hay rack.

The one leg doesn't quite fit.
I recently opened a new box of Kleenmama's 3rd cut hay and all the girls have been eating it like crazy.  But much of it has ended up on the floor of the cage.  The hay is very short and I suspect its falling through the hay rack soon after they start to eat it.  When cleaning the cage today, I left the hay rack empty and stuffed a bunch of hay into a tissue box.  I'm hoping this will keep the cage a little neater.

Regardless of the cage's tidiness, I am quite certain I have made Bertie's day.  Within 10 minutes of returning to the cage, Bertie rediscovered her favorite way to eat hay.  Perhaps the tissue box doesn't have as nice of a view as the hay rack or the comfortable sloping sides but its obviously a very good alternative.  Once Bertie got in that box, she remained there for at least three hours

Ah, yes.  The love affair has resumed. We'll see how long the tissue box can withstand this amount of affection.

One comfy pig - look at the toes!