Fruitcake – Love It Or Hate It!

kitchen-scale-weighing-baking-cooking-46170Several years ago I had a friend ask me to teach her how to make a fruit cake (the real kind with liquor) just a few days before Christmas.  Her husband loved it and she wanted to surprise him.  I pointed out to her that it took weeks to make a proper fruitcake and that I’d be happy to teach show her but it wouldn’t live up to his standards due to her time constraints.

Since it’s getting close to time for thinking ahead for the holidays, I’d thought I’d cover this love it or hate it item.  It seems that there is no gray area on this as far as liking it.

At the risk of backlash from the haters, I’m going to post this anyway.


Prep Time:  20 minutes

Cook Time:  45 minutes

Ready In:  10 weeks



  1. Soak cherries, mango, cranberries, currants, and citron in 1/4 cup rum for at least 24 hours. Cover tightly, and store at room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Butter a 6×3-inch round pan or loaf pan and line it with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; mix into butter and sugar in three batches, alternating with molasses and milk. Stir in soaked fruit and chopped nuts. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons rum.
  5. Cut out one piece parchment paper and one piece cheesecloth, each large enough to wrap around the cake. Moisten cheesecloth with 1 tablespoon rum. Arrange cheesecloth on top of parchment paper, and unmold cake onto it. Sprinkle top and sides of cake with remaining rum. Wrap the cheesecloth closely to the surface of the cake, then wrap with paper. Place in an airtight tin, and age for at least 10 weeks. If storing longer, douse with additional rum for every 10 weeks of storage.

Brown Sugar – Light or Dark?

pexels-photo-310575.jpegAt least once a year (during the holidays usually) someone asks me which brown sugar they should use for a recipe.  I am, personally, a fan of dark brown sugar.  But, unless it’s otherwise noted in the recipe, I usually recommend light brown sugar.

So, what’s the difference?

Let’s start with “table” sugar.  It’s made from sugar cane or sugar beets.  In the US, it’s usually made from sugar cane.

They crush the stalks of the sugar cane and remove the liquid.  Then, they add a few things to make it clearer and to make it a syrup and then basically dry it out and then you have table sugar.

Brown sugar is this process with an added one.  They add molasses and, voila, you have brown sugar.  Dark brown sugar has more molasses.  Therefore, it is heavier, has more moisture and has a little bit more acid in it.  I love the rich taste of dark brown sugar.  A lot of people associate it with the taste of caramel.

You can usually substitute one for the other without a whole lot of problems as long as you remember the difference and you are ok with it.

So, see?  There’s no mystery!

Peace, Love & Sweetness

Hoosier Barn Chick

Searching For Shannon


I’ve been on a bender for small-town crimes that have happened in a town that I am, or have, lived in or near.  On a side note, I’ve been looking at the whole urban exploration thing too . . . you know, where people explore abandoned places?  But, that’s a whole different thing.  I haven’t actually done it, just looked at videos and pictures.

So . . . .back to the whole crime-thing.  This one actually touches upon my hometown, Tipton, Indiana.

In October of 1986, a 6 year-old girl was playing in her yard with other kids in Thorntown, Indiana.  This town is familiar to me because I lived in Sheridan, Indiana at one point.  And, I even worked at Old Indiana Fun Park in college before Emily Hunt was paralyzed and her grandmother killed on a ride.

Sometime during that afternoon, she simply vanished.  That’s right, vanished.  Not only was her disappearance investigated, the police even brought in hypnotists at one point to delve into her playmates’ memories in hoping to get some valuable information stored away there.  Her parents were given lie detector tests to clear them.  Later, Dorothy Shannon did an interview where strangely noted that she believed the Shannon was held captive for around 3 days before she was killed.  No evidence has ever surfaced that she was killed and Dorothy’s statement remains unexplained.

Fast-forward to July 2003 and Shannon’s family was contacted by a woman claiming to be Shannon.  She even provided pictures of herself growing up (after she had disappeared) to the family.  She initially gave vital information of her missing years (like where she went to school, her social security number etc.) but none of it could be verified.

Eventually it was discovered that the woman was really Donna L. Walker (who was 35 years-old) from Kansas.  And she was mentally ill.  She ended up entering a guilty plea of attempted identity deception, identity deception, and false reporting.  She received a sentence of 18 months in prison.  Not nearly enough for the damage she caused the family if you ask me.

Donna Walker

The connection to Tipton is that Shannon’s father is from Tipton and lived there while all of this was going on.  Shannon disappeared from outside of her mother’s mobile home, in Thorntown.  I can’t say that I ever knew her dad unless it was in passing and I’ve forgotten.

In 2006, Jeffrey L. Sunnycalb (imprisoned for the rape of two children) sent a letter to Thorntown Police claiming he had shared a jail cell with serial child killer David Elliot Penton and had information about Shannon’s disappearance.  Penton was a convicted serial killer.  His victims were children.  Penton denied having anything to do with Shannon’s disappearance.  So far he hasn’t been connected with it.

To this day, Shannon is still missing.  I couldn’t find any real update on the parents in the last decade and Shannon is still listed as missing on the Charley Project site.

My heart goes out to the family and all they have endured in the last 30+ years.

Peace & Love for Shannon’s family

Hoosier Barn Chick


Oh Look! A Squirrel!


Puttering around The Barn brings me back to my center . . . and makes me brainstorm like crazy.  I don’t really need any more projects on my plate . . . but inspiration hit.

Due to my short attention span, I’ve only seen parts of Julie & Julia.  But, the parts that I saw burrowed into my brain and made a happy little home there.  I love to cook.  Why not take a journey?

So, it’s decided.  In 2018, I will work my way through two cookbooks as a series for my blog and as a learning experience for myself.

My current top choices are The Joy of Cooking and Baking:  From My Home To Yours.  I’m not ready to commit to those two books just yet.  But, I’m pretty sure The Joy of Cooking will be my final choice for the first one.  It’s a classic.  How could I go wrong with it?  The other choice will most likely be a dessert cookbook.  Let’s face it, I’m a sweets fanatic.

Don’t get me wrong, there are THOUSANDS of awesome cookbooks out there.  But, I want to stay away from one specific type of cuisine.  I’m sure The Hubby wouldn’t appreciate eating Mexican (or any other kind of food) EVERY week.  It would get old.

I’ll spend the next few weeks researching cookbooks and make my final choice.  Then, it’s off on my journey to learning, eating and growing.  Hopefully my photography skills will improve too!

Peace, Love & Yummmmmmm

Hoosier Barn Chick

Super Chewer Bark Box – Review

20171022_184005Ok, Daisy Doodle AKA Wonder Lab is a natural born chewer.  Seriously, she will chew anything she can get her teeth on.

So, I decided to give the whole Super Chewer Bark Box a try.  If you pay monthly, it’s $40 a month.

First of all, I can’t believe how quick it came.  I got it only a few days after signing up!

The theme for this month was Dog Vs. Wild.

This is what was included in the box:


We decided to try the Real Bacon Rocking Dental Chew out first.  She jumped on it and took it to her bed right away and began working on it.  It’s held up pretty well so far.  Sometimes she chews on it by herself and sometimes she brings it to me so that we can play tug together with it.

The Banana Safari Snacks are one of her favorite things.  She goes nuts when I get the package out of the “doggie” drawer.  Yes, she already knows which drawer it is.  I think she can smell the treats in it.  She will often go stand at the drawer and look at me.  The Safari Snacks are really soft like a real cookie.  They must taste great with the way she gobbles them up.

The Pig Ear Chew went over great too.  However, it only took about an hour of chewing  before she had it soggy.  It didn’t seem to deter her from going back to it though.  It must have made her thirsty though because I found it in her water bowl at one point.  My guess is that it was in her mouth when she got a drink and fell into the water.

Th Mac And Cheese treats have also been a hit.  I have used them when we work on training to sit.  We also use the Beef Burger Treats for training.  I try to mix it up to make it exciting for her.

The blue thing is a hit and miss item. She likes that it rolls and bounces but I’m not really sure she likes it to chew on.

All in all, it was ok.  I’m not sure if it was really a super deal.  We’ll wait on the next one to make a final decision.