Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Blessings, Darlings!

Being broke is one thing - feeling deprived is another.  The Chubby Hubby is happy that I'm making sure he doesn't feel like he's broke AND on a diet.  Instead, I'm 'medicating' our stress by baking nummies.  Lots of nummies.  From scratch.

But now that we're several weeks into Even Harder Times, my recipes are changing.  Last week I had to decide if I was going to buy butter or shortening for baking with.  I went with shortening.  In recipes that call for butter I'm now using half butter and half shortening.  For recipes that call for shortening, I'm using shortening.

The shortening container (all vegetable shortening, BTW) does creative measuring, using a serving size just small enough that they don't have to say it has trans fats in it.  I'm not falling for that trick, but I'm still buying the stuff.  Even if I wasn't using it in the baking now, I'd still use it in pie crusts, because having been raised Jewish I just can't do leaf lard crusts.

Back to the baking at hand:  the first cupcakes I baked to perk him up was from a recipe, probably from America's Test Kitchen.  It called for four eggs and two sticks of butter, among the other ingredients.  The Chubby Hubby LOVED them.  The spawn and I found the distinct egg flavor and stiff - even rubbery - texture off-putting.

To keep the baked goods going, and keep all of us happy, I'm switching cookbooks.  Farewell, America's Test Kitchen, hello Betty Crocker!

The Betty Crocker cookbook is probably the oldest cookbook we own.  The Chubby Hubby bought it when he was still single (along with some Sunset Cookbooks). We still use it heavily.  It contains the duct tape of cooking - the standard recipes that hold a kitchen together.

From Betty, I decided to do the One Egg Cake recipe, in cupcake form.  Only one egg, not four eggs, only 1/3 cup of 'soft shortening' (that means regular vegetable shortening to you and me), not two sticks of butter.  The recipe DID make 3 less cupcakes than the other recipe, but the taste and texture made the Spawn and me happier, and the Chubby Hubby was content if not ecstatic.

Neither recipes cupcakes needed any frosting, BTW.  They rocked standing alone.

Oh, the Spawn has made his first yeast dough baking - soft pretzels - and he did a WONDERFUL job.  He followed Alton Brown's recipe.

Next, we will either bake brownies (both America's Test Kitchen and Betty Crocker have easy cheap ingredient recipes) or I'll add chopped semisweet chocolate to the one egg cupcake recipe.

On a TOTALLY unrelated note - I've dropped 3 pounds since moving.  I think it's all the stairs. It's certainly not my diet....

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Blessings, Darlings!

As regular readers have already discovered - we eat a lot of home-made soup here.  Partly because we DO like it, partly because it's easy to heat for lunch, partly because it's cheap when made from scratch.

Today I decided to make minestrone, for the first time. 

Looking it up I discovered that 'minestrone' simply means 'first course'.  Which makes sense, when you consider the 5-course meals at good Italian restaurants that we share as a family.  Soup, salad, pasta, main course, dessert.  Small servings of 5 courses (one meal, split 3 ways, maybe with an extra salad thrown in).
Lot of variety, but SMALL SERVINGS.

I digress.

Every area of Italy apparently has it's own style of minestrone soup.  And to my husband's amazement, "Campbells" is NOT an area of Italy.

Not being in Italy, I looked at recipes and winged it, using what I had on hand.  Meaning no zucchini, which I have ALWAYS seen in minestrone soup.  And I have several bottle of 'tomato water' - the liquid left over after I canned jars of tomatoes. 

So I took one quart of 'tomato water...
One quart home-canned tomatoes
One onion.
One 15 oz can of commercial canned carrots
one stalk celery
a little leftover spinach
three cups of chopped cabbage
a little leftover ham
a pint of home-canned green beans
a quart of cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans
two bouillion cubes
a little freshly-ground black pepper
Some salt.
Leftover whole-wheat rigatoni, chopped a bit
1 1/2 tsp oregano
a clove or two of finely chopped garlic

I quickly cooked the raw veggies, everything else in a big pot, added enough water that it was soupy.  Simmered it a while.


And it was .... excellent!  I really enjoy using the 'tomato water' as a major part of soup bases.  It adds a great depth of flavor, and reduces the amount of salt recipes need (I can that without added salt). 

All regular pantry stuff, and it equaled a gallon and a half of soup.

Happy family!

Frondly, Fern

Monday, February 14, 2011


Blessings, Darlings!

NeoWiccan (who frequently comments on this blog) and I were hanging out together the other day, shopping, having nails done, and discussing, among other things, necromancy.  A pretty typical Crones Day Out.

NW was wondering what the big deal is - why so many folks get their knickers in a knot over this type of divination.  Not that they (in this case, a comment from a Roman Catholic) are happy with ANY type of divination, but that necromancy is clearly more upsetting to them than, say, the attention lavished on the groundhog on groundhog's day, or even tarot readings.  Heck, even in Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files series necromancy is one the things banned by the White Counsel (the Good Wizard's Union).  And the series has the good guys calling up demons to work with without blinking an eye!

So we discussed the ancestors and the Ancestors (family vs. Big Name/religious), we touched on the real and perceived role of spiritual entities involvement, etc.  And I figured I'd do more research and blog about it.

For those desperately googling, Necromancy is divination that relies on contacting the dead for the info. Clearly, to be able to do this means you have to believe that the soul or spirit hangs out after death, and that it can communicate with living beings if the living do the right thing, and that the dead have insight/knowledge that they didn't have before.  In other words - even if they were morons before death, they are now morons with access to a better library now that they are dead!  Okay, to put it more ... gently ... they are 'closer to the sources of real knowledge'.

So, what's to fear?

Well... First there is the fear of the dead and ghosts and undead and vampires and zombies.  What DO they want from the living? Apparently, in the gut-level view of a lot of people, all the dead want to do is live again, at any cost to the actual living.  They will eat our brains, they will drink our blood, they will possess our bodies.  I dunno if the afterlife is supposed to be that boring, or at least it's not seen by most people as the dead REALLY being 'in a better place'?

Second, some see an impenetrable barrier between the dead and the living.  Whether the dead are 'unconscious' until resurrection, or live is live and disembodied are disembodied and never the twain shall meet.  People with this view tend to see any purported necromancy as demons pretending to be the dead.  And that demons have access to all knowledge, too, the better to imitate the dead (and, I suppose, promote science the better to use scientific advances to take people away from religion).  I CAN sort of see how people would get this idea from contacts with their departed friends and family - they would have a different perspective after death, being now spirit not primarily soul and flesh.  The answers/responses are going to show a different focus.

It's probably pretty clear I don't hold to these views.  OTOH...

So, what's to give even ME pause?

Okay, at Samhain I invite the Honored Dead to come by, have a meal, say hi.  No promise, no demands that they show up.  An open invitation. Once a year - it's not my 'standard' form of divination. 

I've seen some people who have been unwilling to let go of the dead, mucking up their own lives with this.  There's a nice scene of Edith Piaf doing this in the movie "Le Vie En Rose".  It's not always emotionally healthy for the living person - not because of the dead's focus, but because of his/her own.  It can practically be a form of necrophilia!

And I DO wonder how healthy it is for the dead to keep being called back to this plane.  They have moved to be more spirit than soul, in my belief system they have new things to do/work on rather than still work the family issues they shed with their bodies. Let them move on with their afterlife.

Frondly, Fern

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Coming Monday!

Blessings, Darlings!

Given how most of us are pretty much brain-dead on Mondays .... I'll be blogging about Necromancy then.

Stay tuned!

Frondly, Fern

Friday, February 11, 2011

Working It

Blessings, Darlings!

Now comes the nitty-gritty of working the 'no more accumulation' challenge. Working the stuff I've not sufficiently worked before.

I'm starting with a Ivo Dominguez, Jr.'s book "Spirit Speak: Knowing and Understanding Spirit Guides, Ancestors, Ghosts...".  Wisely, he has his main preparations work chapter early in the book, so you can start work right away before you're too tempted to do anything else!  But, as in all good books - there are so many exercises!  The Emerald Heart (to be one only once every week or so), chakra exercises, and such that can be done daily.  And stuff that is best to work to memorize - chakras and their locations and associations, etc. 

How long will it take for me to really have worked these things?

I'm figuring a month for daily workings, hopefully only two weeks to memorize associations.  But doing the Emerald Heart (which I will NOT be posting - it would not only be another 'info dump' into your overcrowded piles, but would also tend to deprive an author another eventual sale) once every week or so means that mastery of that is going to take .... well into reading another book!  And this is even with me  having been exposed to all of this before, since I've been attending Ivo's workshops for well over a decade, been attending Assembly of the Sacred Wheel events for a decade, and been a MEMBER of the Assembly for over 5 years.

If I was re-working Ivo's "Castings" book, and giving each of the 6 castings alone a month of practice each (and those aren't the only things to practice in the book) it would take me half a year to work it. 

Clearly, really working the books/etc. that we Pagans accumulate would slow down our Pagan reading ... and slow our accumulation!  Not the best thing for our already under royaltied Pagan Authors, but a better thing for the spiritual/magical growth of our community.

So, while slowing our reading of Pagan books, what do we do with that reading time freed up, even after we add working?

Read deep background books/magazines!

Deep background includes at least popular publications on science, history, primary sources (well, okay, translated) of paleopagan mythos, following the daily national/world news, etc.  Most of these are at your library, BTW - you can read 'em without buying them!  Don't have time to read every story on the cover of the NYT? Read the front page of USA Today! 

Anyway - so far today (1 pm yesterday  now, I'm playing catch-up on blogging) I've read a few chapters, done two exercises, and did some note-taking to help me memorize associations.  And this while sitting in the food court of a grocery store as a friend does tarot readings at another table, kids are loud healthy kids, the PA system makes announcements, and there are general 'busy grocery store' noises going on.  I'll save the Emerald Heart for when I DO have quiet space!

But I DO give thanks for the distractions - for if I can hone my focus under these circumstances, then I should be able to have really great focus in rituals/magical situations where I have built a better/quieter/less distracting more focused environment.

I give Thanks!

Frondly, Fern


Blessings Darlings!

Adding the Amazon links sure screwed up the formatting of yesterday's blog.  I'll try to do better today!

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What Makes a Wiccan .... Wiccan

Before I write about what makes a person Wiccan, I’m going to start with makes Wicca Wicca.

For me, Wicca is a fairly recent inspiration of the Gods, and features pantheism, functional duotheism, small group structure, coven hierarchy, liturgical format based on ceremonial magick, liturgical cycle based on combining the agricultural cycle and herding cycles and diving those holy days into 8 evenly spaced ones, noting and often working with Lunar cycles, working with polarity, and being an experiential mystery religion.  How many of these things can something called “Wicca” be missing and still be Wicca? I’m not going there today!

With its roots in Ceremonial Magick and mystery religions, Wicca-the-religion doesn’t accept just anyone who wants to join the Group Mind/Egregore – it is going to be into growth and evolution, yes, but not self-destructive changes.

You don’t have to be ‘actually’ Wiccan to worship The Goddess and The God, or to worship ‘Wicca Style’.  Not being Wiccan doesn’t keep you away from the Gods, after all.  But is DOES mean that you are not connected to the Egregore.  It’s sort of like the difference between Kosher and Kosher-style.  The taste – the liturgy and ritual actions – can be the same, but it’s not connected to the same Egregore.  Kinda like planning to work with Bridget, but working with Hecate instead (hey, both are Goddesses and have 3 aspects, how different can they be?)

So the question becomes “How do you connect with the Egregore of Wicca?”

Seems to me that the Gods set it up as study and practice (outer court work), which then is  made active by the Egregore acting through a HP/SS (or coven) that chooses to give the person membership or initiation. 

Can the Gods or the Egregore initiate a person themselves?  Yes, but in my experience it’s pretty rare.  The Gods put the coven system in place when They inspired Wicca (or caused it to evolve out of CM), and aren’t going to lightly put it aside.  The person the Gods are going to make an exception for is going to have to be special, and desperately needed for the growth of Wicca … and not just as a bad example.  I’m thinking that anyone They do that for is going to have to become as important as, say, Gerald Gardner, or Victor Anderson, or Doreen Valiente.  And even then, I’d expect that They would do it after the person, having lived in isolation somewhere with no chance to study with a coven, and no chance to move to study with one (and no chance to move away to even go to a university, which is harder to find time and money for than finding a coven), still did all the studying about Wicca, and practicing as much as they could get from books, for years on their own.  In other words, They don’t do it for the human individuals convenience, but to better manifest the Wiccan Egregore’s Higher Will.

Frondly, Fern
Other vaguely related blog posts:  Preparing for Samhain
                                                   Ancestor Worship

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Blessings, Darlings!

This post is for my Pagan readers.  Foodies, preppers, and snark-addicts - read it if you want, but the challenge is not for you!

Modern technology has made information virtually free.  You're reading this via the internet in some form.  You can get this from a terminal at your local library for free.  While there, you can pick up books on neo-paganism, or witchcraft, or herbalism, or astrology, or whatever - for free.  Most of you are accessing this in the convenience of your home.

Many of us spend our time accumulating not just things, but information.  Can we ever get enough of either?  Yes.  In fact, most of us here online have TOO MUCH of both.


Stop the accumulation of "Pagan information".  Use - WORK THROUGH - what you already have, at least until Lughnasadh, preferably until next Imbolc.  No new books until you're read and done all the exercises in the ones you've already got.  No downloading new rituals to try out.  No new tarot spreads until you've mastered the decks and spreads you already have information on.  Do every meditation/visualization you already have in your possession. Master every tarot deck. Become intimate with the Nature Spirit of every herb/spice/resin you work with before getting more information on how to make potions or incenses.

Use, rather than consume/amass/hoard.

If that means not reading my blog, I'll understand, altho' I post rather less on Pagan/magic/worship/Gods/power than I'd like to be, and I always think I'm rather light on adding to the information overload in general.  Still, if you have to decide whether to read a blog or work a book you own - read the book, not me!

Work it.  Internalize it. There is no 'Wicca 400' level books/blogs - there is introduction and then the working, the making your path manifest in the challenges of life.

Frondly, Fern

Vaguely related links:  Altars, an Alternative View

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dry Soup

Blessings, Darlings!

The other day I did a soup experiment.  Well, let me back up a little.....

Over the past few years I've dried a whole LOT of veggies. I have not USED most of those veggies.  Now that the food storage and I share the same office, I've heard them calling my name, asking to be used.

So I did.

Dried veggies aren't always the easiest things to re-hydrate.  Therefore I decided to make them into an experimental soup.  A quart of water.  Two bouillon cubes. A double handful of dried tomatoes - I chose the somewhat ... uh ... over-dried ones (some might call them burnt, the Chubby Hubby generously calls them 'smoke flavored'). A handful each of dried wild green onions, eggplant, carrots, potatoes. Cover.  Simmer for a few hours.  Add leftover cooked wheat berries and some just-cooked chickpeas.

It worked! The tomatoes even DID add a nice smoky flavor.

This food drying stuff might just be a good idea.

Frondly, Fern

Other vaguely connected links: Drying Pumpkins

Monday, February 7, 2011

Money Magic

Blessings, Darlings!

Some of y'all might be wondering why it seems I haven't been doing money magic, given how our finances are going this month.  No one has ASKED - but getting any of y'all to comment is like pulling teeth!   Sheesh!


The answer is that, you're right - I'm not doing any specific 'money magic'.  I've been concentrating on magic to help us as we learn to better run a business, better tweak our website, better do our product marketing, and investing time in honing those skills as well.  For the record, I'm the one with the better copywriting skills, the Chubby Hubby is better at web design.

I don't recall if I've told this story here before ... but about 10 years ago I did some spellwork aimed at improving my husband's consulting marketing.  It worked INCREDIBLY well.  So well we had more business than he could handle.  We ended up sued by a company that ran into a cash flow problem while we were working for them, as the work took so long. (We ended up getting our money from them, and they didn't get any from us, but all we got from them went to the dang lawyer!)

I've learned to be pretty specific in what I do magic for!

That said, I'm considering doing some work to help move the current batch of customers who owe us money to pay us more promptly.  And to send the checks to the right address - SEVERAL of them have conveniently been sending the checks to our old address, delaying us cashing them for about 10 days each.  This after we repeatedly gave them our new mailing address.

Oh, I'm going to be flogging a product I really like soon, and that we're an affiliate marketer for.  I'll be up front when I do that.  So far, no one has paid me a DIME for any products I like and have mentioned here.

Frondly, Fern

Other vaguely related blog posts: Smith & Wesson Protection Spell
                                                   Magickal Metrics

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday

Blessings, Darlings!

Yesterday they announced the list of retired football players who have been voted into the Football Hall of Fame. Richard Dent is on that list.

Back when I was pregnant with the Spawn ... I lived in the Chicago area, where he was playing. It was the season the Bears ended up winning the Super Bowl.  I was also working at a homeless shelter at the time.

We women were following the Bears, and discussing them over lunches.  One day when I was VERY pregnant we were discussing Dent.

"He's certainly not pretty".... "well, not his FACE.  But on the field, in those tight pants, his butt is a thing of BEAUTY". 

I laughed so hard I pulled a round ligament.  Was in pain for DAYS.

Totally worth it.  And a true statement to boot.

Richard Dent - I salute your football playing abilities/career, and your sweet hind end.

Frondly, Fern

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Blessings, Darlings!

Yes, the Mubarek government has to go - they have a history of oppression and are the tool of the oligarchy. Yes, some coalition has to take its place that is not totally tied to the oligarchy (but, clearly, has to have the approval of the military).

I'm no policy or urban or economic development wonk, or an economic history buff (either professional or hobbyist).  But SOMEONE out there must be! 

How do you turn an oligarchy into something that allows for economic opportunity for everyone in the country?  What exactly does a government to do promote job development in this case, when just a relatively few families hold all the assets and apparently only hire people they know? 

Are they historic examples of this happening?  If so, tell me about them, please!

Frondly, totally at sea Fern

Friday, February 4, 2011

Test 1,2,3

Blessings, Darlings -  this post is just to see if I've screwed up adding something to the HTML.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sprouting Beans

Blessings, Darlings!

I got a question on how to sprout mung beans. So here's the answer!

Buy a bag of whole mung beans, still in their green 'skins'.  Take about 1/4 cup of them, pick them over (broken ones out, stone out, etc), and soak them for a few hours or overnight.  Drain and rinse.

Put them in a sprouter ... or in a big jar and put a piece of cheesecloth over the top. Put the jar on its side in a cabinet or in a paper bag - you don't want a lot of light on the little darlings at this point.  Rinse the beans, draining well, two or three times a day. 

Depending on how warm your house is, they will take 3 to 7 days to sprout to the point you'll want to use them.

They last well, in a covered container in the fridge, once you 'harvest' them, for up to a week.  I've frozen them the rare times I've had too many or when unexpectedly called out of town and that worked just fine.

Frondly, Fern

Cheap menus

Blessings Darlings!

I was asked what my menus are for this funds-free time/cash-flow problem.  So, here you go!

Breakfasts are mostly hot cereal - oatmeal with dry milk, dry fruit, nuts or grits or cornmeal mush.

Lunches are soups, often with open face grilled cheese, and with an apple or orange.  I make a gallon or so of soup once or twice a week.  Currently we are having split pea soup.

The dinner menu is where the variability is.  Now, while we are currently working on a $40 a week budget for 3 adults and two cats, before we were on an $80 per week budget.  That allowed me to fill the freezer and pantry, and is allowing us to eat a larger variety of foods now.  I'm only buying meat for one meal in the next 3 weeks, altho' I am buying eggs and cheese.

So, our dinners for the first 3 weeks of 'middle class survival' eating are:

Shrimp Yaki Soba, using cabbage, carrots, and home-sprouted bean sprouts.

Sausages (in hot dog buns), potatoes, cole slaw.

Stew with beef (beef is leftovers from a previous dinner.)

Eggs - veggie omelets for Chubby Hubby and I, sandwich for Spawn; and fruit and home made rolls.  We'll do this once a week.

Pork Fried Rice, featuring more home sprouted bean sprouts.

Fried Chicken - we will have this 3 times - I made a lot and froze it because chicken was on a GREAT sale; home-canned corn, veggies

Pasta Carbonera, salad, veggies

Superbowl Sunday - okay, I'm buying a pound of deli meat/cheese and one tomato and making subs.  But I'll make the bread and cole slaw myself.  And pop corn, not chips.

Corned beef - I've a corned beef brisket in the freezer.  This will be at least two meals, maybe 3.

Chicken or pork stir fry - more cabbage/carrots/bean sprouts in use, rice.  Once a week.

Pasta with meat sauce, salad, veggies. Some pasta once or twice a week.

Home-made steak and cheese, because we have thin sliced raw beef in the freezer and I can make rolls.  More cole slaw with this, and potatoes.

Tacos - filling half beef and half black bean.  Taco bell has nothing on me.  I can make tacos where the filling is only 38% beef myself!

Spanish rice.

Pulled pork (we smoked a pork shoulder that was at a GREAT price recently)

Veggie Flautas

Mackerel/salmon patties/crouquettes




I can do this because I have a fairly full pantry.  I've not even worked the canned ham or tuna into rotation, mostly because I think the guys will be using them for half sandwiches at lunch when we don't have cheese. Or we could use them at dinners with soups, an have peanut butter at lunch.  We have options. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

More Cheap Eats

Blessings, Darlings!

Since we're still digging out from moving expenses (not only was moving more costly than we had figured, but when you're self-employed all that time spent packing, loading, unloading, unpacking you don't earn a penny!) my choice for February is to either have a working cell phone or food.  And my cell phone isn't that expensive... so it's going to be a very low food budget month.  Like $200 for the month.

So last Friday I did shopping that will get us thru' 2 - 4 weeks, with some fresh food added at times.  I bought 15 pounds of white flour (I grind my own whole wheat flour already, but husband and son aren't yet hungry enough to eat 100% whole wheat everything), two dozen eggs, two gallons of milk, lots of sale priced apples and oranges, two pounds of carrots, a bunch of celery, three pounds of frozen green veggies, cat litter, and a few other things. I do wish I could have afforded more veggies and a few cans of cream of mushroom soup, but I just didn't have the money.

I figure we can get thru' February spending maybe $40 a week on food and such.  That would be $8 on milk, $15 on produce, $15 on meat, and $5 on 'misc'. "Meat" includes eggs and cheese, for those keeping score at home.

Oatmeal with dried milk and raisins for breakfast.  Soup and maybe peanut butter sandwiches for lunch.  Lots of cabbage and carrots featured in dinners.  I've 2 1/2 weeks of dinners planned, and we'll see what meats may or may not go on sale for meals later in the month. Sunday night we had shrimp yaki soba (the shrimp was a BOGO purchase, and we used bean sprouts and cabbage in it), Monday night we had a little sausage with cole slaw and buns, Tuesday pot roast leftovers became a stew that will double as a lunch later this week, tonight is veggie/cheese omelets and home made rolls......

Of course, as this hits it has also become clear that the bag of mung beans I've been using for sprouts are past their prime - the sprouting ratio has dropped.  Instead of getting 3+ cups of sprouts from every 1/4 cup of dry beans I barely got 1 1/2 cups the last time.  I've one more bag that's about the same age - we'll see how that goes - but I also have two newer bags I bought this fall.  They should still be in good shape. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Blessings, Darlings!

I've been on a chocolate binge lately.  Chocolate frosted yellow cupcakes, hot cocoa, chocolate pudding, moon pies, candy bars, sleazy Hershey's Kisses (TM), you name it - if it has any chocolate in it I've been eating it.

This has happened to innumerable people before, and will continue to happen in the future.  No news there.

The only thing new was that I made chocolate pudding from scratch. This was ENTIRELY the fault of @jmfield on Twitter, who tweeted "Cheffirmation: I am never more than 15 minutes away from homemade chocolate pudding. :)".  Well!  I took that as a challenge.

In fact, it took me 18 minutes - mostly because my husband or son had put my whisk away in .... well .... a place I would NEVER had put it, and it took me FOREVER to find it.

One of the many joys of chocolate pudding is that the ingredients are mostly pantry-stable.  I could have used powdered milk instead of fresh (and, while looking at recipes, I saw that the 'instant chocolate pudding' recipe by America's Test Kitchen uses powdered milk), I suppose I could have used baking chocolate instead of cocoa powder and butter (yes, the cocoa powder is shelf-stable, but the butter isn't), the flour and cornstarch and salt and vanilla the recipe called for last forever.

It was fast to make.  It was easy.  It tasted WONDERFUL.

Everyone to the kitchen, grab that 2 to 3 quart saucepan, set your timer (so you can see how fast this really is), and GO!

            CHOCOLATE PUDDING - served the 3 of us because we showed some restraint
1/2 cup white sugar                         2 3/4 cups skim milk
3 tablespoons dutched cocoa          2 tablespoons butter      
1/4 cup cornstarch                          1 1/2 tablespoons amaretto

Into that saucepan you grabbed, add all the dry ingredients.  Whisk them a bit to make them as smooth as possible, it helps reduce lumps later.  Add the milk.  Heat at medium (medium high on my stove, but your stove will vary!) until boiling, stirring constantly.  Reduce to a simmer, keep stirring. Soon it will be thickened.  Take off the burner, add but butter and amaretto (you may prefer the more traditional vanilla).  Try to let it cool long enough that you don't burn your tongue.  Can be served warm or cold. 

We tasted it before the amaretto was added - it was nice, but 'flat'. Amaretto and butter kicked it up wonderfully.

Frondly, Fern