Monday, September 20, 2010

It's Monday

...and what am I reading?

This weekly recap is hosted by Shelia of One Persons Journey Through a World of Books. Each week we recap what we’ve read and look at what’s coming up this week. If you’re interested head over to Shelia’s site and get involved!


This past week.....
I just finished "Candy and Me" by Hilliary Liften.



I'm in the middle of  "The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott" which I am really enjoying.



But I got sidetracked by  "What to Read When" by Pam Allyn,  The books and stories to read with your child-and all the best times to read them.  

Who knew that reading a non-fiction book about reading to children could make me cry?  I  am just so passionate about reading to children and I get so emotional about  wanting my grandchildren to enjoy reading... I want to cuddle with them and read to them and I know that time is fleeting.  They will be growing fast and I don't know if I can get all the reading in I want to share with them....that is why I bought this book for my son and his wife.  So, they have a complete list of really good books  (altho, they are Ivy League graduates, I doubt they need my help for picking books for their children).   I bought this book for them... but by the time I give it to them it's going to be all bent pages and tear-stained and bookmarked, for things I thought were important.

I'm going to order 4 more books for all my sons and their families and keep this one for myself.

What to Read When is a celebration of storytelling, of new worlds to explore and the sense of endless possibility that parents and children can discover through books.


And I have my  "Lit-Wits" Bookclub this coming Thursday and I must read  "A Year on Ladybug Farm" by then.  I haven't started it yet.



Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cookbook Sundays/Potluck Sunday--fried chicken



I guess I get a little obsessed sometimes.  For instance, take the case of my granddaughter's lost piggy.  (this will become  more relevant to you if you read my posts 2 before this one and my next post) 
Last Christmas I bought she and her twin brother, a  "jack-in-the-box" wolf and 3 little stuffed pigs, and many--maybe 5--different versions/books of the Fairy Tale "The Three Little Pigs".    I bought the same "themed"  gift my my other baby granddaugther too.  (and their older cousins in previous Holiday seasons)   Eli, Emerson and Cassandra---pictured here, because they are so darned cute. 

Even today, if I come across a new version of the Three Little Pigs, I will grab it.  But for some reason they don't sell the particular pig we need anymore.
More on that tomorrow.


 I believe in comparing similar items or good things.  And I believe in "one can never have enough of a good thing"---hence the reason I have so many cookbooks and am joining in on challenges like Potluck Sunday and  Cookbook Sundays--and I believe in "if one is good, more is better"  (But only in certain things... as I am not a collector.  Unless you consider skeleton keys.     



 And clocks.  I do have 12 clocks in my living room.  Only 1 chimes and none cuckoo )




I think "versions"  of the same thing are really interesting tho, so I am inclined to get a bit obsessive when it comes to cookbooks showcasing different interpretations of the same dish. 
And---please stick with me----this really is leading up to my cookbook entry for Cookbook Sundays and Potluck Sunday:  I have this cookbook called The World's Best Fried Chicken Recipes! It is the ultimate in comparing a good thing.



The World!  The whole wide world. This book lets me compare and contrast fried chicken dishes from the whole world.   One can never have enough fried chicken!! And to be able to compare how it's made in Milan compared to Memphis or Bangkok to Buffalo, is just the kind of thing I love.   (just you wait...I also have  "The Whole World Loves Chicken Soup"  and "50 states-50 bowls of chili--they'll be coming up one week soon)

Rarely tho, do we fry up a chicken anymore.  What used to be a Sunday dinner norm, is now the exception because we are all very well aware of  the health benefits of staying away from fried food.  It's a shame tho... because fried food is so good, as are all the chicken recipes in this cookbook by Damon Lee Fowler.

I ended up making 2 recipes from this cookbook.  One could not have Almond chicken cutlets without having Quick Apricot Sauce to dip them into.  One just couldn't.


Good things about this recipe:   We all liked it.  It had a very Asian flair.  It was crispy on the outside, but tender and juicy on the inside and the sauce was great tasting.
Bad things about this recipe:  I made it on a work-day night and it was a bit time consuming.  Not hard to make at all, just a lot of steps and a lot of separate dishes had to be used.  I cooked it on a bit too hot heat and it looks very well done, but it really wasn't.   I would make this again, but on a weekend or a day I wasn't working.




Quick Apricot Sauce

2/3 cup apricot preserves
1 Tbs fresh grated ginger
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs light brown sugar
1 Tbs rice vinegar
1 clove garlic-minced
2 tsp toasted sesame oil

Put everything except the sesame oil into a small non-reactive saucepan and stir until smooth.  Over low heat bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat and let the sauce come to room temp then add the sesame oil. Let stand an hour to let flavors meld.
Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.



Almond Chicken Cutlets

4 boneless chicken cutlets
1 Tbs sweet rice wine
1 Tbs soy sauce
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg--slightly beaten
3/4  cup Chinese dry bread crumbs ( I used  Panko)
3/4 cup sliced almonds
salt
peanut oil for frying
lettuce leaves

Wash the chicken breasts and pt dry.  In a large non-reactive bowl, toss the chicken with the wine and soy sauce until the chicken is coated.  Set aside to marinate for  30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Place the flour in a  pie pan. Slightly beat the egg in a separate pie pan.  Combine the bread crumbs, sliced almonds and healthy pinch of salt in a third pie pan.
Lift the chicken cutlets out of their marinade, one at a time, letting the excess flow back into the bowl. Roll the cutlet lightly in the flour, dip it into the egg until it is coated, then roll the cutlet in the crumb mixture, patting the crumbs and almonds into all sides.  Lay the chicken on a clean plate and repeat with all the cutlets.  Set aside for 15 minutes.

Fit a wire  cooling rack on a cookie sheet and set aside.  Fill a large cast-iron skillet with enough oil to come halfway up the sides.  Over medium high heat, bring the oil to 375 degrees (hot but not smoking) Add enough cutlets to fill the pan without crowding. Fry until bottoms are golden brown, 2-3 minutes.  Turn and continue frying 2-3 minutes more.  Set the cooked cutlets on the rack on cookie sheet until all are done.
Slice the cutlets crosswise on the diagonal and set on lettuce leaves.
Serve with sauce.


I am linking this post to my own Cookbook Countdown  (this will be cookbook #34)  as well as  Cookbook Sundays and Potluck Sundays.
Both great sites to visit!


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Candy and Me

This is my friend Betty and me.  (I don't normally post pictures of myself, so, you shoud consider this a rare sighting. And if you notice the date, you will think I've had time to lose that extra bit of weight by all this walking I'm doing....keep thinking that)  I am the one in the sunglasses.   With the double chin, but please remember also that the camera adds chins!  Or is that pounds? Nevertheless.... here we are in the newspaper.



Betty and I joined the hospital's walking program called "Destination Fitness" and they had a big kickoff back in May, and another official big walk in July and another coming up at the end of this month.  In between we are supposed to be cataloging our walking miles until we've walked to our imaginary destination.  Betty picked somewhere in Alaska--over 900 miles away and I picked the closest town I could think of which is only 50 miles away. 
Then we began to walk on our lunch hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Betty walks the whole hour...the whole 60 minutes.  She doesn't even get swayed by me when we walk past "Jack in the Box" and I say, "I'll buy you a hamburger..."  She is dedicated.

Another thing she does is change up our route. She just keeps track of our "time" and we walk and walk and walk for 60 minutes.  I have learned I'm a creature of habit  (well, truthfully, I've always known that) and I like to walk the same route, so I know EXACTLY how many miles I've walked.  Last year, when I  was training for the Susan G. Komen  3day-60mile walk for breast cancer---one of the greatest experiences I've ever had--I mapped out my training routes...2 miles, 4 miles, 6 miles, 10 miles.   I had to follow these exact routes and they all began and ended at my front door.   So, this is really difficult for me to just begin to walk (unless it's a Saturday morning and I'm walking with the Handyman. SIGH--I know, I have too many rules inside my head.  He tells me this all the time) and walk and walk, willy-nilly for an hour.
Betty does not know how hard this is for me.  I just keep my eyes down and keep on visiting with her, so I don't think about it.  Geez, tho, even the hospital's  Destination program has mapped out routes for us to go on.  And even  when I was hiking this past Labor Day weekend?



Uh huh.....  It is marked!   I think this Willy-Nilliness--changing our way every day, is just not normal!  For me.  Betty seems to enjoy it tho.

So, believe it or not this  is kind of a book post.....
....I just read this book  "Candy and Me" by Hilary Liftin. 



 It was a cute, very fast, fun little memoir about her life growing up and the candy she liked.   Liftin was addicted to candy tho....and it showed in her chapters, which were titled  things like;  Candy Corn, Spree, Bottle Caps Nostalgia, Tootsie Roll, White Chocolate Break-up, and so on.  She wrote a little about life and a lot about candy.  She was blessed with good teeth and good metabolism, thank goodness, because while I enjoyed this book, and it brought back those great nostalgic memories of the candy of my youth, it also made me sick to my stomach sometimes to think of all that sugar.  It made me think of tooth decay and diabetes and obesity.  She really ate that much candy... she never held  back how much she ate and how she would hide her candy wrappers under her mattress, or steal her brothers Halloween candy when her's was gone. But like I said,  she was blessed with NO CAVITIES and no weight gain, sometimes tho, the amount of candy made even me shudder.  Only for a moment tho, because it was an enjoyable read.
Her writing was well paced and funny and poignant and it was a "sweet" book.

As Betty and I were walking on Thursday, I was telling her about the book.  I had just finished it and wanted to share my memories of   Bottle Caps and Smarties and Lemonheads with her and I started telling her all about them in hopes that she would reminisce with me.  You know what she did?   She actually changed the subject to  the "thin" hamburger buns they now have available at our market and they are only 1 Weight Watcher point!    Sigh....I didn't even ask her to stop for lunch as we walked past my favorite Mexican restaurant. I just kept my eyes down and kept on visiting with her. 

****************************************************************************

A quick change of subject here......
remember my sadness when this tree cracked and broke?  Click here for more details.  Here is the Handyman cutting it down.



Our side neighbor is really close, which is interesting in a way, since none of the other neighbors are...if it wasn't for this guy I could run around naked and no one would see me.  Not that I would.  Or could...since this neighbor is right there.  That is why we planted a tree.....we wanted something to give the illusion of privacy.  I guess we just planted the wrong tree.   And now, as you can see, it's gone.  Just a tree trunk in it's place.



In the past few years, first one branch broke, then another, then another till we knew we had to take the tree out.

It now looks like this:



It has a horrible root system!




and once the Handyman got to chopping down the tree we found this  (or these, as there were lots of them. LOTS OF THEM)  the Locust Borer Beetle.   They disguise themselves to look like yellow-jackets and they do a mighty fine job of it.



I took one down to our local  tree guy to see if we now need to spray our other trees.  It would make me very, very sad if all my trees died.   I live in the desert  (aha....you thought I wouldnt' say that in this post, but I snuck it in.) and I like my non-deserty backyard. 
Bugs Beware!

My Asters look good tho.  I love fall flowers.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tortilla Soup


I think I've found the best tortilla soup EVER.  And the Handyman thinks it is the best EVER. He even said the words "this is REALLY good soup."  He said it more than once!  That's a pretty good compliment since he usually rolls his eyes and sighs when I say "I'm making soup"  (although when I said I was having a tortilla soup showdown of my very own for Girlichef's year long Tortilla Soup Round-up, in her quest to find the perfect Tortilla Soup, he did ask me to space them out, since we ended up eating this particular Tortilla Soup 3 days in a row for dinner, lunch and eatwhateveryoucanfindbecauseI'mnotcookingtonight).

I love to make soup.  I think soup is one of the easiest meals you can make.  Even tho most times there are lots of chopping, dicing,  stirring, adding, waiting.....  but I enjoy all that.  I think I love to make soup because there are so FEW DISHES TO CLEAN UP.  It's a one pot meal.  I mean, what are a few knives and a cutting board and a measuring cup or two?  It's one pot....a couple of bowls and a couple of spoons, some nice warm homemade bread (rolls, muffins, cornbread, etc) with real butter, a glass of wine (or whatever you enjoy with your soup), and  you have heaven on earth.

I meandered away from my main subject yet again.... The Best Tortilla Soup EVER!  And here is where I inject a secret.  I don't think I've ever had tortilla soup before.  Shhhhh......don't tell Heather....shhhhhhh.
Seriously tho, this soup was really, really, really good.  I could have eaten it for 3 more days... mmmm,mmmm good. (and it wasn't even Campbells').
Having said that.....I think this is a replica of "Houston's" Tortilla soup.  I think it's very well known....Houston's soup that is..... Except by me, who never has had Tortilla Soup and am now in love with Tortilla Soup.

Just forgive me if I'm using a recipe that is KNOWN worldwide as a good Tortilla Soup  (I can hear you all now saying  ---geez, she's original, sheesh!")   But don't say it. PLEASE.  I am new to the Tortilla Soup World, and I carpetbagged on a good thing.  Is ignorance bliss?  I thought so, until I googled Houston's Tortilla Soup and saw how popular it was.

You know what?  Never mind....I don't care, cuz this soup is really good.  I have wide shoulders, I can take being shunned  (well....really I can't.  Please, please dont' shun me,) laughed at behind my back  (but don't do that either please--I'm very sensitive you know.)  Just consider me an infant in the  Tortilla Soup world.
And then, if you've never tried  "Houston's Tortilla Soup" do it soon, because this is... So. Damn. Good.

I have 4 more recipes to try, so stay tuned as I join Heather at Girlichef, in her quest for the perfect tortilla soup.
And then, I'm just going to keep going and try all your recipes for this soup too. And maybe even open a restaurant called "The Tortilla Soup  Factory" and serve all your soups.   Hmmm....well, okay, I'm not going to do that, but it wouldn't it be fun? 



My Recipe for Houston's Tortilla Soup

1  2 1/2 lb chicken, cut up, skin removed
2 ribs of celery cut into chunks
1 med. onion-quarterd
2 sprigs parsley
2 Tbs. chicken soup base
1 tsp lemon pepper  (aha!  I didn't have any lemon pepper, so I made my own using lemon zest and black pepper)
1 large clove garlic-minced

Combine all of the above in a stockpot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer and cook for one hour until chicken is tender and meat falls from the bones.  Strain and reserve broth. Tear meat off the bone and set aside.

1 1/2 pounds potatoes
1 lg can creamed corn
1 10oz can of Rotel
1 1/2 cups half and half
cilantro
cheddar cheese
jack cheese
corn tortilla
avocado
black olives
sour cream

In 4 cups of the reserved broth, boil about 1 1/2 pounds peeled potatoes   (I had a 10lb-bag....the math was horrible for me ) until tender.  Remove from  heat.  Mash up the potatoes in the broth and add;  1 large can of creamed corn, 1 10oz can of Rotel tomatoes, 1 1/2 cups half and half, 2-4 minced Tbs of cilantro.
Add reserved stock and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
Before serving stir in 1 cup of both cheddar and jack cheese, and the chicken, 4-6 corn tortillas which have been cut into strips. Cook until cheese is melted.
Ladle into bowls--garnish with a dollop of sour cream, chunks of avocado dipped in lemon juice, slices of black olives and tortilla strips that have been deep fried.

I am sending this to Heather for her Tortilla Soup Challenge   and to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sundays.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lost Piggy

Today a terrible thing happened---my granddaughter,  Emerson's beloved "Piggy" (her security object) was lost. We have searched the place where we think it was left on two separate occasions we have scoured the internet and this particular pig can no longer be purchased. So now our only hope is that someone, somewhere has this particular stuffed pig from The Children's Place and would be willing to send it to our broken hearted little girl. (we would of course pay shipping etc.)



So here is my plea, does anybody have this pig?


Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Sexy" Spanish Tortilla for IHCC



I live in the desert, so anytime I see some "green" I fall in love...and I love my backyard because it has some green in it.  It is not a pristine, sculpted, well maintained yard.  I let my veggie garden to go to seed this summer, and I haven't pulled weeds in weeks.  But I romanticize my back yard, because I love it so.     (and I know I always say...I live in the desert, but until you do live in the desert, I don't think you know how brown it can be out there.  Not that I don't love it, I do, but I romanticize anything "green" )

Romance.  When I say the word to the Handyman, he think of sex---I think it's a guy thing.  No matter their age.
Where am I going with this?  Well, this week for IHCC, we are to think "sexy" food....we are to make  "sexy" food, we are to eat "sexy" food.  I was figuring that anything I made by Mark Bittman could be considered sexy food, but my mind went to breakfast for this week's entry.
How "sexy" would it to be to sit out here (I was getting ready for a diner party on Saturday night) amongst the birds, the sound of flowing water, the early autumn flowers, in our snowy white, spotless white terrycloth robes, my shaved legs, newly acquired pedicure, of course our teeth brushed and our hair combed, no smudges under my eyes.  We would have our coffee and eat our Mark Bittman Spanish Tortilla.  We might even feed each other bites while reading funny tidbits from the newspaper.




That's fine in theory....but this is what my backyard looked like this morning.....


....because I was tired last night and didn't want to clean up in the dark. 
(or maybe in our "raspberry vodka  lemonade" induced state of glee at hosting a very pleasant dinner party--we ran upstairs when our company left to host our own private sexy food party.  I can't believe I just wrote that--whatever...it still  meant I woke up to a mess)

I did get up (put on flannel jammie pants and a sweatshirt, the handyman had on sweats and a stained t-shirt. We hadn't combed our hair, nor did I shave my legs) and make the Spanish Tortilla and juice. It was really good too. But this  was view  we ate our breakfast by morning.....


ugh....to clean up.

You know what tho?  Sexy was just being out there with the Handyman talking about how nice our dinner party was the evening before and laughing at some memories we had of our friends...and, um....talking about our grandbabies.  The thing is--the food was good, the birds were still singing, the flowers were still blooming and eating with someone you love is just--sexy.  We still read the paper, didn't feed each other anything tho, cuz that's really kind of weird to
me.



Spanish Tortilla*
 adapted slightly from Mark Bittman's
The Minimalist Cooks at Home.

*The Spanish Tortilla has nothing in common with the Mexican tortilla except its name, which comes from the Latin torta --a round cake.

3-4 medium potatoes
1 medium onion
1 cup olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
6 extra-large or jumbo eggs

1. Peel and thinly slice the potatoes and onion.  It's easiest if you use a mandolin for slicing.  Meanwhile, heat the oil in a 8-10 inch non-stick skillet over medium heat.  After the oil hand been heating for 3-4 minutes, add the potatoes and onion along with a good pinch of salt and a liberal sprinkling of pepper.  Gently turn the potato mixture in the oil with a wooden spoon and adjust the heat so that the oil bubbles lazily.
Cook turning the potatoes gently every few minutes and adjusting the heat so they do not brown.  You want the potatoes to be tender but not brown.

2. Drain the potatoes in a colander, reserving the oil.  Heat  a 8-9inch skillet  (can be the same one, but wipe it clean.  over med. heat for 1-2 minutes.  Add 2 Tlbs of the reserved oil. 

3.  Gently mix the warm potatoes with the eggs and add them to the skillet. As soon as the edges firm up reduce the heat and cook for 5 minutes.

4.  Insert a rubber spatula all around the edges of the tortilla to make sure it will slide from the pan.  Carefully slide it out--the top will still be quite runny--onto a plate.  Cover with another plate and, holding the plates tightly, invert the.  Add another Tbls of oil to the skillet and slide the tortilla back into the skillet. Cook another 5 minutes, then slide the tortilla onto a plate.
Serve warm (not hot) or at room temperature.  Do not refrigerate.

This is my entry for IHCC and I'm also adding it to my own personal Cookbook Countdown as cookbook #33.


Cookbook Sundays



Does anybody remember going to a carnival or a fair, where they had those splatter paint machines?  You  paid $1 or so and they put in a white sheet of paper and the machine started spinning it around and you could put squirts of paint on it.....and you "Jackson Pollock" masterpiece was born?
Well that's what my cupcake decorating reminds me of: Splatter Paint.   I was supposed to "swirl" the red food coloring into the white frosting, but, I splattered.
Nevertheless, they tasted good--and were quick and easy.
While technically not a book,  I am using this magazine recipe for my entry into "Cookbook Sundays" Hosted by Brenda at  Brenda's Canadian Kitchen.  She did the same thing a few Sundays ago... we (as in we cookbook collectors) hang on to certain (we think wonderful) cooking magazines, so they become part of our collection, and as long as we are counting down, we must also count our magazines as part of our cookbook stockpile.    And that magazine would be the  2002 edition of Betty Crocker's  Fall Baking.
It really is a wonderful magazine, chock full of great recipes for desserts, cookies, pies, cakes and cobblers, and since (to steal a line from Sheila at  One Person's Journey through a World of Books),   we are throwing the "f" word around here like crazy,  (f-word, f-word, f-word) because it feels like FALL,  and in the FALL, I feel like baking, so I did.
I made "Red Velvet Cupcakes"  (with splatter paint frosting).  I love Red Velvet Cake....the memory of it.  I've only had it once and it was made by scratch from my friend Julie.  It was moist and delicious.  I've always loved that memory of her cake.  I've just never taken the time to make one myself...until I found this shortcut in the Betty Crocker Fall Baking Magazine.
It was easy-peasy.  A Cake mix and a bottle of red food coloring.    Of course, nothing can compare with a homemade version of this Southern Classic, but in a pinch?  I would do this again.  It was a good recipe.




Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 tsp water
1 bottle (1oz) red food color
1 box of Betty Crocker Supermoist devils food cake mix
1 1/4  cups water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 container of Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy cream cheese frosting.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Place paper baking cups in each of 24 regular-sized muffin cups.

In a small bowl, mix 1 tsp of water and a few drops of red food coloring, set aside

In a large bowl mix the rest of the ingredients  (excerpt frosting) well, and divide batter into the muffin cups.

Bake 18-20 minutes  (or 15 if you are above 3500 feet)  Cool 10 minutes then remove to colling rack and cool another 30 minutes before frosting.
Frost the tops of the cupcakes with frosting.  Using a fine-tip brush, paint cupcakes with red food color, swirling paint to create design.  Store loosely covered at room temp.

This is my entry for Cookbook Sundays and Weekend Cooking hosted by 'Beth Fish Reads"  (she reads, shethinks, she photographs.  She cooks too! Great Website)  and Potluck Sunday  nosted by Tina at   Mommy's Kitchen  And my own...Cookbook Countdown


***********************************************************************

This might seem like a strange segue into  Hillside letters,  but I've been wanting to mention them for a while... since my son and his wife moved very close to a Hillside letter.
WHAT is a Hillside letter, you East Coasteners and Southerners are asking?   LOOK, LOOK at my pictures of Hillside letters! 


Lovelock,  NV  (look hard)



Winnemucca---my "high desert" NV town.



Reno, NV


In the west (of the United States anyway)  The letter of a town, or high school or university is displayed high on a hill above town so that anyone who is driving thru can see your letter.  This is  a source of pride and is all very well and  good, unless you live in town just down the road from me--Battle Mountain, NV---and you have a big BM on your hill for all the world to see.
The first Hillside letter appeared in March of 1905 in  San Francisco--the students of the University of California refer to that hill as "the big C"--the students of Berkeley launched a tradition that changed the American Landscape--in the west.

(this is a picture from the book Hillside Letters  A to Z --A Guide to Hometown Landmarks by Evelyn Corning.  You can see--mostly Hillside letters reign in the west.  Maybe because we have hills to put them on?)


In our town the 'W' is mysteriously painted green on St. Patrick's Day...and then fades back to white thru-out the rest of the year. (we have 5 Irishmen, who get drunk and hike up the hill in the middle of the night every year and paint it green...all the little kids think it's the leprechauns who've done it)
Maintenance is actually quite involved--that's why usually (not always),  Hillside letters are in a college town, so that the college kids can take care of it..

The history of  hillside letters is really very interesting...and unique to the west.   You should google it.
Here is a link to Hillside letters.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Coming up on 500 posts, shrimp dinner and a good book

I am coming up on my 500th post.  I am at 489 with this one.  I should really  have a give-away or something, but since I can't decide if I am a food blogger or a book blogger, I wouldn't know what to give away. Besides, no one has ever given me a signed copy of a book or an ARC or sent me a food product to test out.  I guess I am just a plain old blogger, who likes to cook and read books. And who also likes to write random stuff so that my family and friends could read it in an easy to find place.  (I could probably take the time to handwrite them a real letter and they would be THRILLED, but we are living in the 21st century now. I have to keep up )  
Who knew that I would make new friends, who, I might add, read my blog a lot more often than my family and friends do?

It's kind of fun to say  "I have a friend in Louisiana...."  Or "my friend in Montana",  and my husband, the Handyman will look confused and say,  "we don't know anyone in Louisiana"  and I will say, "I know that," and then go on explaining what I was going to say in the first place.

It's really hard to put into words why I would feel someone whom I've never met is a 'friend', but I do.
While I love all the cooking posts, I love, even more when bloggers tell me, by their stories,  a little bit about their world, where they come from, what they like to do.  I feel as if I'm  able to visit different regions as a blogger voyeur.  Food bloggers are much more apt to give a part of their world away, than Book bloggers are.  I'm not sure why.  Book Bloggers get right down to business and start talking about the book.  Which I love too.
I love going to my book clubs and being able to say, "That book is a really hot topic in book clubs", or some such thing.   They think I'm so intellectual!  (Little do they know).
It's fun to share my hobbies with my friends in the blogging world.  I just don't know what to "share" with you all on my 500th post.   Just the glory of me surpassing the #500?  My kids never fell for that either.  Or my 8-year old grandson...Gramma, that's not a very good prize, just being happy for you.  (and that is why I usually let him win...because for me the prize is just fine...being happy for him).
Anyway, I digress....I am coming up on my 500th post.  WOW!  Hard to believe.  I'm really glad to have met/made some nice friends in the blogging world--Foodies and Bookworms!

That is just the right statement for me to segue into my dinner tonight.  I came home from work and started right away to make   Southern Red Rice with Shrimp  from  the kitchen of Deep Dish South.  I was so organized, I had my kitchen cleaned while the dish was in the oven. We were ready to sit down and enjoy our meal....so excited to have something with Creole seasoning.... except...I didn't turn on my oven.  I discovered this after the timer beeped 45 minutes later.
I had 2 grown men in my kitchen drooling ---but they had to wait another 45 minutes to eat.  We finally got to sit down at almost 8:00.  But--it was worth the wait.  It's a slightly spicy shrimp and rice dish.  Very yummy.
For the recipe please visit Mary at Deep Dish South.



Then I sat down with my new book  (new, as in next in line to be read by me)  during the extra 45 minutes.  I got to start  "The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott".  I can tell already, I'm really going to enjoy it.



I'm going to leave you with this link to my "picture blog",  just in case you wanted to see where I went this past weekend.   And here is a picture of someone who came right up on our deck to see if we had food- -sadly for her, we only had our camera.  
You can check out more pictures on the link.....my friends and family are supposed to link over there, because they really might be interested in these pics.... but I have a feeling that more of my blogger friends will take a quick peek.  That's just how we are.

Oh the places we went!

In the words of Dr. Seuss...........



Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!


Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.


Well actually today I just get to go off to work...and write a bunch of letters requesting donations for our annual fall/harvest fundraiser event. woo hoo.


BUT..... this past weekend, we ate at great places!



I said we were in the "woods"
and we were....but this little town is only 6 miles away.



We found a little Farmers Market, where I bought some veggies, because I love Farmer's Markets....
....and veggies for that matter.



Yumm!



We ate lunch at our favorite Brew Pub  (but they were out of the beer that I like.  I don't even know the name of it, but they drizzle honey over the top)


but my favorite this trip?


Back view



but the best....was the bathroom