Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Do You Have A Job Interview?

Hello....In this economy, many of us are seeking employment, and it's a tough row to hoe out there.  The competition is fierce, and companies can pick and choose.  So, how do you get them to pick and choose YOU?  I ran across some tips from a government website recently, and they actually look pretty good.  If you are out of work, or afraid that you will be at some point, it would be worth perusing this little article.

Here is the website from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

In my job, I hire about 10-15 people every year.  Although I agree with most of the tips to follow, I will put some comments in parentheses and you are welcome to ignore them!

Job Interview Tips
An interview gives you the opportunity to showcase your qualifications to an employer, so it pays to be well prepared. The following information provides some helpful hints.
  • Learn about the organization.
  • Have a specific job or jobs in mind.
  • Review your qualifications for the job.
  • Be ready to briefly describe your experience, showing how it relates it the job.
  • Be ready to answer broad questions, such as "Why should I hire you?" "Why do you want this job?" "What are your strengths and weaknesses?"
  • Practice an interview with a friend or relative.
Personal appearance:
  • Be well groomed.
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Do not chew gum or smoke.
The interview:
  • Be early.
  • Learn the name of your interviewer and greet him or her with a firm handshake.
  • Use good manners with everyone you meet.
  • Relax and answer each question concisely.
  • Use proper English—avoid slang.
  • Be cooperative and enthusiastic.
  • Use body language to show interest—use eye contact and don’t slouch.
  • Ask questions about the position and the organization, but avoid questions whose answers can easily be found on the company Web site.
  • Also avoid asking questions about salary and benefits unless a job offer is made.
  • Thank the interviewer when you leave and shake hands.
  • Send a short thank you note following the interview.
  • (Use some humor, but not too much.  Smile a lot)
  • (No matter how nervous you are, do not talk too much - answer the questions but don't ramble on)
  • (And if you ARE nervous, let the interviewers know (with a smile).
Information to bring to an interview:
  • Social Security card.
  • Government-issued identification (driver’s license).
  • Resume or application. Although not all employers require a resume, you should be able to furnish the interviewer information about your education, training, and previous employment.
  • References. Employers typically require three references. Get permission before using anyone as a reference. Make sure that they will give you a good reference. Try to avoid using relatives as references. (The best references are work-related, especially former supervisors).
  • Transcripts. Employers may require an official copy of transcripts to verify grades, coursework, dates of attendance, and highest grade completed or degree awarded.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Monday Recipe Blog

Hello....What a great Monday we are having, and now we get a recipe, too!

This blog features Lois Elaine Mueller's recipes every Monday. Lois' heyday was in the 1950's and 1960's, and her children swear she was the best cook that ever lived. Many baby boomers will remember these mouth-watering recipes, and these dishes are just as tasty today as they were in the sixties.

Last week we featured Lois Elaine's recipe for peach cobbler, and this week we are posting the pastry portion of another summer favorite, Strawberry Shortcake.  This recipe is for a biscuit-type pastry. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it!

Lois Elaine's Shortcake for Strawberries:

Sift together in a bowl:
3 c. flour
3 1/4 t. baking powder
1 1/4 t. salt
2 T. sugar

Mix in:
1/2 c. shortening (or butter or butter substitute) until crumbly.

Add 1 beaten egg and 2/3 c. plus 2 T. of milk, stirring with a fork to make a soft dough.  Knead 15 to 20 times on lightly-floured board.  Pat dough into a greased round 9" layer cake pan evenly with fingers and bake at 450 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Friday Dog Blog

Hello, and TGIF!  AND, thank goodness we have a dog for our Dog Blog!

Sofi the Talking Schnauzer is feeling shy these days - it must be the heat.  When asked to pose for a nice picture in the woods, she pulled a Greta Garbo - "I want to be alone...."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oh, These Oklahoma Stories!

Hello and happy Wednesday!  I love old ghost stories, and I came across this one the other day on the website

So, here we go....

You Can't Get Out

A Oklahoma Ghost Story 
retold by
S. E. Schlosser
One dark, windy night, the town drunk was meandering his way home after the bar closed. Somehow he got turned around and ended up walking through the churchyard instead of taking the road home.

The wind picked up and he thought he could hear a voice calling his name. Suddenly, the ground opened up in front of him, and he fell down, down into an open grave! He could hear the voice clearer now, calling to him. He knew it was the devil, coming for him just like the preacher said, on account of him being the town drunk.
The hole was very deep and inside it was pitch black. His eyes adjusted to the darkness after a few moments, and he made out a form sitting in the darkness with him. It called his name, and he scrambled away in fear, trying to climb out of that terrible grave. Then the figure spoke. "You can't get out," it said.

The drunk gave a shout of pure terror and leapt straight up more than six feet. He caught the edge of the hole in his hands, scrambled out, and ran for home as fast as he could go.

Inside the open grave, his neighbor Charlie sighed in resignation. He'd fallen into the hole a few minutes before his friend and had thought that together they might help each other climb out. Now he was going to have to wait until morning and get the mortician to bring him a ladder.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Monday Recipe Blog

Hello....Are we out of the Dog Days yet?????  Well, at least it's time for another recipe....

This blog features Lois Elaine Mueller's recipes every Monday. Lois' heyday was in the 1950's and 1960's, and her children swear she was the best cook that ever lived. Many baby boomers will remember these mouth-watering recipes, and these dishes are just as tasty today as they were in the sixties.

Oklahoma produces great peaches, particularly in the Stratford and Porter areas, but this year the pickin's were pretty slim.  For anyone anywhere who were lucky enough to snag and freeze some fresh peaches, here is a great Lois Elaine recipe for Peach Cobbler!

Lois Elaine's Peach Cobbler:

1 c. sugar
2 T. cornstarch
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 c. water
2 T. butter (or butter substitute)
5 c. sliced, pared fresh peaches

Biscuit Topping:
1 1/2 c. biscuit mix (Bisquick, for example)
4 T. sugar
2/3 c. light cream
2 T. grated lemon peel

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Blend sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon in a 2 qt. saucepan; add water. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add butter and peaches. Pour into a shallow baking dish. Combine biscuit mix and 2 T. sugar; blend in cream with a fork. Drop dough in 6 mounds around the edge of the baking dish. Combine the 2 remaining T. of sugar and the lemon peel. Sprinkle on the dough.

Bake 25 minutes or until peaches are tender and biscuits are golden brown.  Serve warm with plain or whipped cream (or vanilla ice cream!)

Makes 6 servings.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Friday Dog Blog

Another Friday rolls around, and another dog pops up....

Sofi the Talking Schnauzer entertains frequently during the summer, but like Archie Bunker, she has her chair and you had better not try to sit in it or you get "the look"....

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How To Make A Perfect Pie Crust

Hello, hope you are staying cool on this hot, hot Wednesday.  In Oklahoma we are in the midst of a terrible heat wave and drought, I am trying to think cool thoughts but it doesn't seem to be working.
Recently I made a couple of pies - a lucious chocolate pie and a buttermilk pie (picture on the left), and I wished that I could make a perfect pie crust.  I started researching and came up with what appears to be pretty good directions for a nice, flaky pie crust.  Thought I would share it with you today, but I'm not planning on heating up my oven again any time soon to try it out!

How To Make The Perfect Pie Crust:

With a home-made pie, the crust can make it or break it.  Yes, the filling is important, but a bad or tough crust can turn a great pie bad in the blink of an eye.  Most of us know the 4 absolutely essential ingredients of pie crust - flour, some kind of fat, a liquid and salt.  The flakiness of the crust often depends upon the type and condition of the fat, and the salt serves to brown the crust nicely and also enhances the flavor a bit.
(Note:  I also use a tablespoon of sugar and a half-tablespoon of vinegar in my crusts).

Whatever fat you use (lard, butter, shortening or butter substitute), it must be chilled before you start.  You do not want the fat to disappear into the flour, so make sure it is nice and cold.  After you mix the dry ingredients together, then add the fat.  I cut mine into small pieces and pinch the fat into the mix with my hands, but you can also use a pastry cutter.  Mix or cut it until the mixture has pea-sized lumps.

The water needs to be chilled or, even better, ice water, and then add it, just a little at a time, into the dry mix. Stir it with a fork until it can form a packed ball.  Remember, the more you handle it, the less tender and flaky your crust will be, because the fat will become blended into the mix and you want to leave as many little fat balls as you can.

If you are making a one-crust pie, roll the mixture into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes, and it can be longer if you need it to be.  This is where I always fall short - I never seem to have enough time to let the dough chill for 30 minutes!  But here's why you should always do it - It goes back to that fat again - chilling the dough keeps the fat from absorbing into the flour when you roll it out, and, of course, makes your crust light and flaky.

Remove the dough from the fridge and flatten it as much as possible with your hands.  Dust it a little with flour before placing it on a clean dry surface (wax paper is good) that is also dusted with flour.  Start rolling at the center and roll outwards. For less mess, you can put a sheet of wax paper on the top of the dough, too.  It helps to have a heavy rolling pin like the kind your grandmother used.  My aunt uses a huge, antique wine bottle as her pin.  I prefer a black, non-stick pin that you cool off in the freezer before using.

Roll the dough to about 1/4 to 1/8 inches thick and at least 4 inches bigger than your pie pan.  Fold your dough in half, then in quarters.  Carefully pick it up and put it in your pan where the center of the dough is in the center of your pan, then unfold it.  Don't be afraid to patch any cracks or holes with extra dough.

Press the crust firmly into the pan.  (I use an old glass Pyrex pie pan, and I love it).  If you don't press, you risk unsightly bubbles in the finished product.  Trim the extra dough, but leave at least a half inch for fluting the edges.

There you have it - directions for the perfect pie crust!

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Monday Recipe Blog

Hello, and happy Monday to you!  This blog features Lois Elaine Mueller's recipes every Monday. Lois' heyday was in the 1950's and 1960's, and her children swear she was the best cook that ever lived. Many baby boomers will remember these mouth-watering recipes, and these dishes are just as tasty today as they were in the sixties.

Remember Chicken Cacciatore?  It was wildly popular in the '60's, and still tasty today!  Here is Lois' recipe for Chicken Cacciatore for Four....

Lois Elaine's Chicken Cacciatore:

2 1/2 pounds frying chicken (pieces)
1/4 c. flour
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 c. salad oil (vegetable, canola, etc)
14 1/2 oz. can of tomatoes
6 oz. can of tomato paste
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/4 c. chopped green peppers
4 oz. can of mushrooms plus the liquid
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 c. water
1/4 t. thyme
1 bay leaf

Dip chicken in flour, salt and papper mixture.  Brown in oil in a skillet. Combine remaining ingredients, stirring to break the tomatoes.  Pour over chicken. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Uncover and simmer for 30 minutes longer. Remove chicken and remove and discard the bay leaf.  Thicken the sauce and serve over rice or noodles.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Friday Dog Blog

What a great, hot Friday we are having!  Here's a great, hot dog, just for you....

Cindy's Charlie Brown loves the dog days of summer.  He pulls out his favorite pillow and curls up in front of the air conditioner.  All summer long......That's why they call it the dog days, right?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

For Dog Lovers Everywhere!

Hello, hope you are keeping cool during this record-setting summer!  My friend Heidi sent me this old story, and it reminded me how much I love it.  I have heard this story in various versions, and even saw it played out on an old episode of The Twilight Zone.  It never loses its message that dogs are wonderful companions and friends....So, here it is:

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.

He then remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead now for many years. He wondered where the road was now leading them.

After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.
When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man sitting at a desk to one side.

When he was close enough, he called out, 'Excuse me, where are we?'

This is Heaven, sir, the man answered.

Wow! Sure is beautiful. Would you happen to have some water? the man asked.

Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up for you immediately.

The man gestured, and the big gate began to open.

Can my friend, gesturing toward his dog, 'come in, too?' the traveler asked.

I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets.
The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.

After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. Indeed, there wasn't even any fence to protect the property.

As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book..

Excuse me! he called to the man. 'Do you have any water?

Yeah, sure, there's a old pump over there, come on in.

How about my friend here? the traveler gestured to the dog.

There should be a bowl by the pump.

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it on the ground.

The traveler filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog.

When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.

What do you call this place?' the traveler asked.

This is Heaven, he answered.

Well, that's confusing, the traveler said. The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.

Oh, you mean the fancy place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's actually hell.

Doesn't it make you mad at them to be using the name 'heaven' there like that?

No, we're just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Monday Recipe Blog

Hello - hope you are staying nice and cool this summer!  Here is another Lois Elaine recipe for you....

This blog features Lois Elaine Mueller's recipes every Monday. Lois' heyday was in the 1950's and 1960's, and her children swear she was the best cook that ever lived. Many baby boomers will remember these mouth-watering recipes, and these dishes are just as tasty today as they were in the sixties.

In the 1950's and 60's people didn't get their cake frosting from a can - they made it from scratch.  And that's the way serious cooks still do it.  I've published a few of Lois Elaine's frosting recipes in the past few months, and here is another one for a vanilla frosting. The recipe card notes that this comes from Lois Elaine's sister, Clarice....

Lois Elaine's Frosting:

1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg white, beaten
1 t. vanilla
2/3 c. milk

Cream the butter and sugar. Add egg white and vanilla and beat well. Scald milk and add that to the mix, slowly.  Beat well.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Friday Dog Blog

Hope your Friday is a great one!  Time for the Friday Dog Blog....

Sofi the Talking Schnauzer is letting her shirt do the talking today.....

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Some Great Ideas For The Lowly Cucumber, Part II

Here are ideas 7-13 for your garden bounty of cucumbers.  Thanks to Barb, who facebooked these hints to me, and anankkml for the photo!

More Ideas for Cucumbers:

7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge?

Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often by European trappers, traders and explorers for quick meals to thwart off starvation.

8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don't have enough time to polish your shoes?

Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe. Its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.

9. Need to fix a squeaky hinge?

Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!

10. Stressed out and don't have time for a massage, facial or visit to the spa?

Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water. The chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber with react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown the reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.

11. Just finished a business lunch and realize you don't have gum or mints?

Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath. The phytochemcials will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.

12. Looking for a 'green' way to clean your taps, sinks or stainless steel?

Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean; not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but it won't leave streaks and won't harm you fingers or fingernails while you clean.

13. Using a pen and made a mistake?

Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing. Also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Monday Recipe Blog

Hello, and happy Monday to you!  Another Lois Elaine recipe is primed and ready to go, just for you....

This blog features Lois Elaine Mueller's recipes every Monday. Lois' heyday was in the 1950's and 1960's, and her children swear she was the best cook that ever lived. Many baby boomers will remember these mouth-watering recipes, and these dishes are just as tasty today as they were in the sixties.

Even the cute name for these chocolate cookies is great - Try these, you'll like them!

Lois Elaine's Chocolate Snappers:

1 c. sugar
3/4 c. soft butter
1 egg
1/4 c. corn syrup
2 envelopes Nestle Choco-Bake (substitute powdered chocolate)
1 3/4 c. sifted flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt

Combine in bowl the sugar, butter and egg.  Beat till creamy. Stir in corn syrup and powdered chocolate.  Stir in flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

Shape into balls, using 1 level T. for each ball.  Roll in sugar and place on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Let stand a few minutes before removing from pan. Makes about 3 dozen 3" cookies.