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*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘Cyndie

Breakfast Bread

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She never ceases to amaze me. Cyndie has outdone herself with a very impressive first-try baking success yesterday. Too bad you can’t smell the aroma of this image.

One of the unique treats we enjoy when visiting Cyndie’s parents in Florida is “Breakfast Bread.” Chock full of a cinnamon flavor, just the right amount of cherries, raisins, apricots, cranberries, dried apples, and chopped walnuts, with a texture that works perfectly well for toasting.

We loved the treat so much that we wanted to buy some for ourselves when we got home. The problem with that plan was that the only place we were able to find it was at Publix grocery stores in Florida.

Cyndie searched the internet for breakfast bread and the majority of the results that appeared included the word, “Publix,” and also phrases like, “copycat recipe.”

She had been cunning enough to take a picture of the ingredients on the label of one of the two Publix loaves we hauled home last week in our carry on luggage, which, for the record, earned my bag extra scrutiny going through security at the Fort Myers airport.

Armed with one of the many breakfast bread recipe ideas from the internet, and her list of actual ingredients from the loaves we know and love, Cyndie set out to bake a couple at home.

I am very proud to exclaim, “She NAILED it!”

On her first try.

I asked her how much a loaf costs at Publix and started doing the math. We could sell these, they are so good!

It may be time to revisit the latest version of the cottage food laws of Wisconsin.

When we moved here, Cyndie researched and discovered Wisconsin had strict restrictions requiring commercial kitchens in order to sell home-baked goods to the public. Since that time, there appears to have been some relaxing of the laws, so maybe it is time we explore new ways to take advantage of her baking skills for generating business income.




Written by johnwhays

February 10, 2019 at 11:10 am

Cookies Galore

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She’s done it again! Cyndie moves like magic in the kitchen when her weekend of Christmas cookie baking arrives. She made a noble dent in the project all by herself on Saturday to start, then, with the help of friends and family yesterday, achieved a record number of total recipes baked when the flour dust finally settled.

It was a sight to behold, but don’t take my word for it. See for yourselves. (Thank you to Melissa Williams for sharing pictures she took of the extravaganza!)

For the first time ever, Cyndie baked meringue cookies from her gramma’s recipe. They come with a memory of being told, as grandchildren, that they needed to be very calm and quiet while meringue cookies are baking in the oven or the cookies would be wrecked.

After her first try success, Cyndie is inclined to think the strict constraints placed on them back then could very likely have been a ruse by her grandmother, taking advantage of an easy opportunity to command good behavior.

More power to her, I say.



Written by johnwhays

December 10, 2018 at 7:00 am

Cyndie’s Shots

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Cyndie has always been incredibly generous about allowing me to post photos she has taken. Lest there ever be doubt, I add her name to the bottom right corner of images of hers that I use.

On my way home from work yesterday, I received a series of images texted from Cyndie that reflect scenes she had captured during the day.

“Why, yes, I’d love to use them!”

First off, this fascinating shot reveals that a couple of deer decided to lay down in the middle of a trail, for a long enough time that they melted the snow all the way down to the ground.


That’s a first. With all the excellent cover available, these two chose a large clearing for their naps. Must be feeling plenty safe on our property.

Notice what a difference a few days makes with regard to the snow sticking to the trees. Scroll down a couple of posts and compare this shot with the two I posted a couple of days ago.

There is still plenty of snow out in the fields. Cyndie framed up this gorgeous view of snow drifting around a culvert.

Delilah looks so stoic as an accent to the shadow and shapes below her. I love the perspective of different elevation this provides.

Finally, there is this beautiful sunset.

If you can make out the chicken coop in the distance, the low sun is shining through it such that it looks like a light is on in there.

It’s fair to say that Cyndie has probably contributed more pictures to this blog in the last year than I have.

For that, I am extremely grateful. Thank you, C!



Written by johnwhays

December 7, 2018 at 7:00 am

Kitchen Aromas

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Honestly, I don’t feel worthy of the aromas that greeted me from Cyndie’s kitchen when I walked in the door after work yesterday. She pulled me all the way into some of my fondest November memories with a robust batch of fresh Chex mix roasting in the oven.

Threw me back to Thanksgiving day parades, afternoon football games, and my dear ol’ mom.

I don’t know which came first. Did my love of cereal lead to an overwhelming attachment to Chex mix, or did my fondness for Chex mix lead to my mind-boggling passion for cereal?

No sooner does the mix come out of the oven and Cyndie puts in a pizza crust to pre-bake.

Not one to avoid a challenge, she was working her magic on an untested recipe for an adventurous fresh cranberry balsamic white pizza.

I can sincerely say that this did not bring back a single memory or aroma from my past. I can take, or leave, an arugula salad on my pizza, but ricotta cheese in place of a good salty tomato sauce left this experiment lacking.

It looked tantalizing, though.

Just needed more sauce and maybe a heaping crown of mozzarella cheese for my tastes. And bacon.


That was Cyndie’s idea. We read somewhere that the most common ingredient in contest-winning recipes happens to be bacon flavor in some shape or form.

We both got a chuckle out of that.



Written by johnwhays

November 14, 2018 at 7:00 am

Problem Solved

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Look! No leaves!

Just in time for Cyndie’s return from Guatemala, 3 or 4 inches of snow have covered up the leaves in the front yard.

She flew to Atlanta last night and texted me from there to bring her a jacket. I grabbed a scarf and mittens, too. The flight from Atlanta left over an hour later than scheduled. It was a middle of the night drive to the Minneapolis airport and back.

Small price to pay to have my baby home again!

Despite a few scares, I kept all the animals alive while she was away. I must say, that’s a welcome relief.



Written by johnwhays

November 10, 2018 at 7:00 am

Simple Feasts

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Eating alone this week while Cyndie is out of the country brings back some memories of the year she lived in Boston and I stayed home in Eden Prairie. Cooking for one is always a bit of a trick, but doing so when I’m not the person who does any food prep in this household adds some challenge.

Although, it only becomes a hassle if I happen to venture very far from the few simple choices I tend to produce with embarrassing regularity. Warming already prepared food in a microwave falls right in my wheelhouse.

One task I am pretty handy with in the kitchen is, melting cheese. There aren’t very many leftovers in the refrigerator that I can’t enhance by melting cheese over the top when reheating.

My lovely wife was unnecessarily thorough about providing me with many meal options before she left. The freezer was well stocked and the refrigerator held a variety of delectable leftovers.

Last night, I assembled one of my favorite reworkings of leftover meatloaf.

I toast a slice of bread while heating servings of meatloaf in the microwave. (Doing two things at once in the kitchen! Look at me go!) Place meat on the toast, cover with a slice of cojack cheese, add a little salt and course-ground pepper, then broil until the cheese is bubbly.

It’s a leftover delicacy.

Plus, clean up is a cinch. No pots and pans.

Monday and Tuesday was reheated homemade chicken chow mein, per Cyndie’s suggestion I eat that right away or toss it, as it was approaching an expiration date. Between that and the meatloaf, of which there is still enough remaining to last for days, I might never get to all the things she stocked in the freezer.

I think there may still be some grilled bratwurst patties somewhere in the fridge, too. Add in fresh “homemade” eggs and I will have no problem assembling simple feasts for myself until she gets back.

I certainly won’t have to worry about going hungry.



Written by johnwhays

November 2, 2018 at 6:00 am

Sixty Years

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Sunday evening was definitely the grand finale of the weekend family celebration of Cyndie’s milestone birthday. It would have been easy to confuse the occasion with a Friswold Christmas dinner for a number of reasons, most noticeably, the inclusion of the artificial tree (left up all year in the rarely used basement these days).

Cyndie’s parents and brothers planned, prepared, put together, and pulled off one heck of a spectacular customized evening to give the birthday girl exactly what she wanted, and more.

With tie-dye patterned flags and a “peace” banner adorning the tree, they presented a basket filled with a wide variety of crazy photos of Cyndie in every stage of life. Family members took turns selecting photos to hang on the tree, presenting each with a personal message for the girl.

Love overflowed. The tree and Cyndie glowed.

Fred offered readings from some ancestors’ letters providing fabulous historic perspective, followed by a powerful statement written recently by brother Ben, addressing present-day issues. The profound meaning of this sharing was perfect for an occasion to honor and celebrate Cyndie, especially with honorary “adopted” sister, Rabi, from Kenya present (who surprised Cyndie by flying in from out-of-town for the event).

There was also a light-hearted reading from Marie, ala the custom-composed candy prose she masterfully wrote and designed. I didn’t see if Cyndie, or nieces and nephews, ended up with the haul when it was deconstructed.

Marie set out well-loved appetizer choices and Carlos enlisted assistants to put finishing touches on place settings for dinner. Truly works of art that lifted the evening to out-of-this-world (and incomparable) levels.









The meal was some of Marie’s best beef tenderloin ever, garnished with just the right compliment of potato, vegetables, salad, and bread. Of course that was finished with Norwegian Cream and some obligatory birthday cake.

It was truly a wonderful evening. The best of everything family. There is no questioning the Friswold’s ability to put on a special birthday party.

The entire weekend was an absolutely perfect way to celebrate sixty years of Cyndie’s amazing life.



Written by johnwhays

June 12, 2018 at 6:00 am