Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cookbook Sundays with Beef Stew



Today is Cookbook Sunday!  One of my favorite days. Why? Because I get to randomly  (or sometimes not so randomly) choose a cookbook from my shelves and  mark one more off my list.  It feels so nice...to cross one off the list.
I own some cookbooks which, once I cross them off the list, I will never use again.  I'm just being honest here.  I don't have the time to go into why I keep them if I'll never use them...that, I guess,  is the subject for another post, or my therapist.
Today's cookbook tho, is one of my own.  I call them my cookbook 'notebooks' and  in them I have tried (most of them) and true (85% of them I love) recipes that I make over and over again.  I ran out of room for a recipe box years ago, so I began sticking them all in a binder...recipes I wanted to try, to see if I liked them   (it would make sense also, to try them and if they are not anything I'd make again, to toss them, like that naggin 15% , as my friend Mitzi does.  Her cookbook notebook--and she has only one--is not bulging at the seems like mine is or are.)




You will notice how thick my notebook is....and also I typed that description years ago.   I have moved salads to their own notebook and also my cousin Linda's recipes have gone with them.  (My cousin Linda is a great cook and talks often of making her own cookbook.  I actually OWN IT ALREADY, but in e-mail form, as I keep asking for this recipe and that one.  It's a sneaky trick of mine )

This is Cookbook #2, Main Dishes and Sides,  from which I am making my beef stew recipe.
It was chilly and rainy and gray and it just seemed like a good night for Beef stew.  We invited our Friday Night Friends  (The Miltons. It's  a standard invite, if neither of us is doing anything we always eat dinner together on Fridays), so I would say that it's company worthy.  Or maybe very close friend worthy.  I mean, Beef Stew isn't something you would make for a dinner party, but, it's really, really good.   The ultimate comfort food.
I am taking that back.....serve it to your company, serve it to anyone.  Isn't it one of the most meaningful things in life, to sit around a good meal with friends and share conversation and laughter?
(tonight...Halloween night, it will be take and bake pizza's and friends)

I take Tyler Florence's Ultimate Beef Stew and adapt it slightly---I adapt it because I am usually running out of time.  I serve it along side or over mashed potatoes.



The Ultimate Beef Stew
adapted from Tyler Florence

2-3 lbs beef shoulder, cut into chunks
8 fresh thyme sprigs, plus 4 sprigs  (why he doesn't just write 12 is beyond me)
2 carrots, cut into 1/4 inch slices
6 garlic cloves, smashed
2 cups blanched and peeled red pearl onions
1 orange, peel cut in large strips
cloves, a few
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 bottle good quality dry red wine (recommended Burgundy)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil for frying, more to drizzle
3 T. butter
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Bouquet Garni
2 1/2 cups beef stock
1/2 lb baby carrots
1/2 lb garden peas
1 lb whit mushrooms, cut in half
pinch sugar
Fresh flat leaf parsley chopped as a garnish
chives
croutons
garlic puree

To make the marinade  (which to be honest I didn't do, and my stew was PERFECT)  (but you can do it if you have the time)
place the beef in a large glass or plastic container.  Add 8 sprigs of thyme, carrots, garlic, red onions, orange peel, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaves and the wine.  Mix well to coat, then cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Remove beef from the marinade and pat dry on paper towels.  Heat the oil and butter with the remaining 4 sprigs of thyme in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on a high heat.  When the oil begins to smoke, remove the thyme. Add the beef and brown evenly on all sides. Season with salt and pepper.   Strain the marinade into the beef and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up the flavorful bits in the bottom of the pot. Add bouquet garni and beef stock. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered until the liquid starts to thicken, about 15-20 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours.
( what I did was just brown the beef in oil and butter with some thyme springs and salt and pepper, then added some wine--not the whole bottle, maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of the bottle, and the beef broth, a bay leaf or 2,  minced garlic, and yes, i did buy some red pearl onions, which I just peeled and put in the stew whole.  I let it cook on the stove top for about 20 minutes.  Then I stuck it in my oven for a few hours on 275-300)

After about 2 hours add the baby carrots, garden peas and mushrooms, along with a pinch of sugar to balance out the acid from the red wine. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer, uncovered for about 30 minutes more, until the veggies are tender.  Season with salt and pepper.
(I just finished it off in the oven)
Garnish with fresh parsley and chives and croutons if you have them. 
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and  serve the stew along side of buttery mashed potatoes.

The beef just melted in your mouth!! 


I am linking this up to  Cookbook Sundays (of course)  And my own Cookbook Countdown (natch) and  Weekend Cooking (my bookie friends).   (wait a minute, I live in Nevada, Bookie  just doesn't sound right.... Book Bloggers?  That sounds better, altho I do believe Beth from Beth Fish Reads, has a ton of cookbooks too)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

IHCC

I Heart Cooking Clubs



This week's theme at IHCC is Chocolate Cravings...and just in case you don't know, our chef for the next 6 months is Giada De Laurentiis.
I was planing on using my one and only Giada cookbook,  "Everyday Italian" but  you know what they say, "The Best Laid Plans..."

My phone rang yesterday morning  (It was a state holiday in Nevada)
"Hi Gramma!"
"Hi Cam, what are you doing?"
"oh....nothing.  Just watching some TV.  There's nothing to do"
"oh....would you like to come visit me?"
"YES!"

Visiting, most times means spending the night, so I knew I would not have time to do a complicated  Giada recipe.  My job was to pay attention to Camron for the past two days.
We played Battleship, went to the movie,  he and his Granddad decorated the garage for Halloween, we all played cards.  Things like that.

Lucky for me  (because I didn't want to miss another week of IHCC) I found the easiest cupcake recipe from Giada on the FoodNetwork website.  And Camron helped me with it.  He was very happy to do so.



Check out how easy this is:

Chocolate chip and walnut cupcakes
Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis
Program: Giada at Home

(oh...I did have to do measurement conversions and they didnt' come out exact, they were always just a tad bit off.  For example 110ml vegetable oil is a tad bit less than 1/2 cup.  But for the most part, they turned out well.  At least the 2 I ate did.  I sent the rest home with Cam.)

1/4 lbs finely chopped walnuts
8 oz mini milk chocolate chips (I couldn't find any, so I just used regular sized)
1 box brownie mix  (recommended: Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge)
2 eggs at room temp
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water

For the Frosting:
4 oz cream cheese at room temp
4 oz mascarpone at room temp
1 lb powdered sugar

Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with liners.
In a small bowl combine the walnuts and mini chocolate chips and 1 tbsp of the brownie mix. Toss and set aside.
In a large bowl mix together the remaining brownie mix, the eggs, vegetable oil and water.  Stir for 20  seconds, until blended.  Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chips.    Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan (cupcake liners will be full).  Bake 22 -25 minutes.
Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before frosting.

For the Frosting:
In a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat the cheeses together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until smooth and spreadable.
Spread the frosting  on top of the cupcakes and garnish with remaining chocolate chips.





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

It's Halloween!  One of my favorite times of the year.  I don't know why I just love it. 
Earlier today Camron and his Granddad decorated our garage.   This year, it's just a small part of our garage, but we have been known to do the whole thing over into a graveyard.  Yeah, we kinda like the spookiness side of Halloween.  

I also like blond, blue-eyed, one-toothed 8 year old boys!



We haven't put up the cobwebs or the picket fence or the tumbleweeds, (we will skip church and do this tomorrow).  Then we will get take and bake pizza's and some of our friends who live in the country or neighborhoods with no kids, will make our house their Halloween "Home Base" and I'll put on  Disney's Ichabod Crane and It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, or Hocus Pocus and we'll have a wonderful evening.

(okay....this really is kinda creepy,  but he wanted to pose in the graveyard)




Happy Halloween everybody!

Two, 2....Two posts in one.



This is two posts in one--two challenges in one. Please bear with me.
The first part of this post is for the Power of Pink Challenge with the Bean Town Baker, but if you read all the way to the end, you'll see my "Food and Flix" post.
It's all about the Pizza.....Mystic Pizza.



At one time I had a book blog in addition to this blog (which used to be exclusively a food blog, but now I've combined both, in an effort to make life easier for myself.)


Here is an excerpt from my book blog, a post I did 2 years ago, almost to the day.
It is a true story....please read it, I'll explain everything at the end. There is a reason for me writing about breasts.... (October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, remember?)
Read on.....


from October 30th, 2008


Last night, after I got home from Book Club....(where we discussed the book, Tangerine--a great Junior Highish age novel ) I wandered into the family room where my husband Rich was watching TV. We visited for a moment, I am always very excited when I get home from a book club and I need to talk, and then..... (some of you might want to quit reading now---gets a bit x-rated from here on out).... I took my bra off.


Yes, it's true. I just slipped it off under my shirt and laid it on the chair... my intention was to pick it up when we went upstairs to go to bed. It was uncomfortable!!!


The girls needed to be freed. Ahhh....sweet relief!
It's a sad fact of life, but for a large breasted woman in her late 40's, the taking off the bra moment is the best moment of the day! (sigh)


I picked up my book and sat down to read for a bit.... I got sleepy. Rich got sleepy... he began to turn off lights, I followed him up the stairs...off to bed.
but, we had left behind one important piece of evidence behind....THE BRA!!!


Had it slipped my mind that my 25 year old son is now living with us again? Had it slipped my mind that he was not home and would soon be arriving?


His M.O. is to grab a snack and watch a movie or the news or something.... in the very same room where said bra was left.


I have no idea what horror he might have gone thru at the sight of that... b...r...a... just lying there over the arm of the chair. (sigh)


My mind cannot go there....poor child.


Even if he tried to go on with his life.....his routine of turning on the TV, eating a snack..... his eyes must have been drawn to the grotesque sight again and again, like one is drawn to a car accident. With every flash of light from the TV screen in the darkened room, it must have jumped out like a hideous phantom, like the boogy man in a house of horrors. (I can hear horror music soundtracks in the back of my mind).


Hopefully, when he finally went upstairs to take his slumber (and there is no doubt in my mind he went up earlier than usual), he was not bothered by nightmares.


The house was dark this morning as I walked down the stairs.. As I do every morning, I grabbed my book and headed to the coffee pot. I made the brew and then walked slowly out into the family room, turned on the light by the side of my chair and YIKES, YIKES, YIKES!!! There it was---evidence of parents who are gross and disgusting! I grabbed it and ran up the stairs, into the bathroom where Rich was in the shower and began screaming (In a stage whisper), "OMG!!! I forgot my bra!! It was just lying there on the arm of the chair, for the world to see!"


He said "so?"


I said, "Your son!! Dustin was down there!"


He said, "Well Dustin is 25 years old, I can pretty much guarantee you, he's seen a bra before."


I said, "Not his MOTHER'S! Just lying around in the living room, like we'd been.... you know."


He said, "no. I don't know."  (he says pointedly, as if we never "you know" anymore)


I listed all the things I think Dustin might be going thru....disgust, annoyance, horror, fright repulsion, etc.


Rich, as supportive (ahhahaah--a pun. Bra? Supportive?) as he usually is, just laughed at me.


Kind of like the clown in a horror movie..... laugh clown, laugh!! Laugh Rich laugh!


I guess this horror I must have put my son thru is appropriate...after all....tomorrow is... HALLOWEEN!!!
**********************************************


Back to the present. Tomorrow is Halloween again--2 years later. My son, who is now 27, has moved back to Virginia, and so my husband and I are alone once again.    And last night I left my bra on the floor by the chair in the TV room...again.  I can't help it!  (It just feels so nice to get out of that thing)  At least this time, I needn't fear anyone coming home to see it.


I am lucky to have both breasts and be able to write a funny story about them. Some women are not that lucky, and who knows what the future holds in store for me?  For you?  For our mothers?  Our daughters?  Our friends?
So in an effort to bring awareness to bringing about a cure for breast cancer, I am joining up with "Bean Town Baker"  and her Power of Pink Challenge.    October  happens to be  (both in the United States and Canada) Breast Cancer Awareness month.

I have made a fruit pizza....and made it PINK!




I used to give my mom such a bad time....she doesn't remember the 60's!  And it's not because she was a wild flower child, experimenting with all kinds of things.  It's because she was busy raising her family.  And the things she doesn't remember are music and movies.  I love the music of the 1960's,   and I was just a child, so I always think it funny that my mom can't remember popular music of the day.
Well....for The Food and Flix challenge, the movie of the month was "Mystic Pizza" and it was  tagged (on the back of the Netflix envelope) as
quirky linchpin of 80's  cinema.    I won't lie...I had to lookup linchpin.  It was the Top Dog, the Key Player of  1980's cinema!
And I missed it!  In the 1980's,  I was busy raising my family.   Sorry I made so much fun of you mom.
I even had an situation this spring, where my son and his wife went to Mystic, CT in May, and sent me a text saying  "We're having Pizza at Mystic Pizza."
And I thought,  "oh...is this some Sci-Fi thing?"
But, now...now...it is all coming together.  The movie 'Mystic Pizza'  was a great little movie.  I'm glad I watched it. (even tho I fought with the DVD which I had rented from Netflix. It had scratches on it, but only towards the end, so I struggled thru the last 10 minutes, but I made it).
I loved the  "friendship that is changing" aspect of the moive.... because that's kind of how life is, especially in our younger, highschool friendships.  We all struggle as we leave our familiar lives and grow into adulthood.
I loved the small town of Mystic....or at least how it was depicted; the sea, the fishing boats, the ethniticy of the fishermen, and it took place in autumn, my favorite season.  And those girls had boobies (that's my connection back to the breast cancer awareness post) as was made evident by their "slice of heaven" T-shirts, showing them off!
And I can't forget to mention seeing  a younger 'Berta' (from Two and a half Men) and a younger Matt Damon.
I chose the fruit pizza for two reasons,  one for the Food and Flix challenge of doing a pizza inspired food, and two, because I thought it would be easy to make it pink for the Power of Pink Challenge.  
Fruit Pizza
Crust:
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Filling:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
8 oz cream cheese
Glaze:
1 cup fruit juice
2 T. cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
For the crust, mix the butter, flour and powdered sugar together.  Pat in a 9x13 pan or a pizza pan.  Bake in a 325 F oven for 25 minutes, or untildone. After crust has cooled, spread teh cream cheese filling on the crust. Arrange desired fruit on the mixture.  Have your glazed cooked for two minutes or until clear.  Cool and drizzle over the fruit.
**I didn't use the glaze, but drizzled chocolate over it before I served it.
I also doubled the recipe for a larger pizza pan. And added some red food coloring to make a pink filling. You need not do this. you can also put any kind of fruit you want to. I've also seen a crust that is made with store-bought sugar cookie dough. That would be good also.



Monday, October 25, 2010

Souper Soup



I had high hopes this weekend of getting  a lot of blog posts up, but as luck would have it,  I didn't get any of them  up.  Instead I had a dinner party on Saturday  and got a nasty cold on Sunday and didn't feel like doing much except laying around and dozing most of the day.

Today I felt so "blah" and stuffed up and achy, (and was tired of eating leftover Mexican food)  that when my friend sent me this recipe for Souper Soup, I thought I'd have to try it.
It was hot, soothing, quick, easy and good!   It was just the comfort food I needed.

Let me first show you these cute little fruit cups that you can make just in time for Halloween!  For my dinner party on Saturday night I made Mexican food from scratch and I wanted fruit salad or something cool as a side dish,  since sometimes the Mexican food is so spicy.  
My friend Theresa brought these festive fruit filled fruit cups made from oranges.



I have previously blogged about all the Mexican dishes, and the fruit cups are pretty self-explanatory, so before I just keep rambling on in my NyQuil induced state, (head cold remember), let me give you this soup recipe, then I'm off to bed. 






Souper Soup

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. boneless chicken pieces, cut up
3 sliced carrots
1/2 cup celery
1/2 small chopped onion
2 cans (14 1/2 oz ) low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 envelope Good Season Italian Salad Dressing Mix
1 cup uncooked  bite-sized pasta
8 oz Velveeta Pasteurized Cheese

Cook and stir the chicken in hot oil in large saucepan until cooked through, drain.
Add vegetables; cook 3-5 minutes or until crisp tender, stirring occasionally.
Add chicken, broth, water and dressing mix.  Bring to a boil.
Add pasta; cover. Simmer 10-12 minutes or until pasta is tender.
Add Velveeta, cook until melted.
Serve.



I think the Italian dressing adds a little kick and the rest is just cheesy goodness.
I'm going to send this to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday  Round-up. Check out her site, she does an awesome round up every Sunday.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Cooking class

I am here.  And I have so much to catch up on!  I have 5 food posts 'almost' ready to put up, but my big work event threw me for a loop and I'm just now getting back in the swing of it.  (sigh) I just have to face it...I will never, EVER, be as organized and efficient as all the food bloggers and book bloggers I follow.

Once I went to a lecture by the author who wrote  "the Kite Runner"  and "A Thousand Splendid Suns",  (I can't remember his name at the moment, forgive me) and he mentioned that he was also a doctor.
Okay... I can't dust AND vacuum in the same day (I can, but I'm using that for emphasis), how can some people be so accomplished, and organized and efficient!!???

Plus...I have a confession to make. (I used to write a lot of posts at work)...I can't use blogger at work anymore, not because I am banned, but the stupid computer won't connect to Blogger.  I am sure they have installed a highly secret mechanism that stops it.  I have to sit there and actually WORK all day....so I am left to only the evenings to write posts.
I know, I know....all you highly organized and efficient bloggers are shaking your heads and 'tsk-tsking' me and muttering 'she's trying to justify her laziness'.

Well, last night I couldn't write a post because I went to a cooking class.  My friends Betty and April  were both going, so I wasn't about to be left out!  (therein lies a problem...I want to do everything everyone else is doing: wine tastings, book clubs, cooking  classes,  high school football games, etc.  And then there is self-imposed things I do to myself;  I must walk every other day for the rest of my life or I can never have a coke again...and I really, really, really like cokes.  And I must play cribbage with my husband every morning before we go off to work...sounds dorky I KNOW, but it's kinda fun, and I listened to a woman say that it was a great way to begin the day together and focus on each other and my grandparents did it every morning of their lives.  Another confession; we only play every other day and we havent' even done that for a few weeks.  Mornings are hectic at our house.  My husband has to be to work at 7:00a.m. and sometimes, he only has 5 minutes to spare...I've been known to scream, HURRY UP, HERE'S YOUR DAMN CHEERIOS, NOW DEAL THE CARDS, IT'S GOOD FOR OUR RELATIONSHIP!! )

So, you see, why I might not have all the time you other guys do.

Remind me..what was I going to write about?  Oh yeah, my cooking class last night.
It was so much fun.  It took place in the Home-Ec room of the Jr. High.  For the record, the Home-Ec room looks like it needs some help.  We were not in a professional kitchen, and we used the Home-Ec room's pots and pans, which was an adventure in and of itself.

RAJUN CAJUN was the name/theme of the class.



There were 6 in the class and we each made 2 dishes from the recipe collection the instructor gave us  (there wasn't time or enough people to make them all) and then we all sat down to eat and discuss what we did, what we liked, and all that jazz. Thru-out the evening the instructor would walk around, answer questions and help us with what we were doing.
All in all, it was a very fun evening, very relaxed too.  And I discovered that I like Cajun food.  This comes as no surprise, of course, since I like most food.  It was just fun to put it all together and see how it differed from other regional dishes.

I had so much fun that now I want to make a themed Cajun dinner for all my friends!  But it will have to wait for a weekend or two, this weekend it's a Mexican themed dinner party (will post on Sunday) with a recipe from a new cookbook, so I can do Cookbook Sundays again,  a recipe from  Giada De Laurentiis for IHCC and  a pizza inspired dish for  Food and Flix and Something pink for the Power of Pink Challenge and a soup for  Souper Sundays.   Geez, it looks like I'll be cooking all weekend.  And then posting all night long.
But, it feels good to be back!

I took some random photos of the cooking class from last night....in the ancient Jr. High Home-Economics classroom.
(and a lot of them )  (I am not in any of them) 













Monday, October 18, 2010

I am still here...really.

Last month, my little granddaugther Emerson,  lost her piggy.  See here.  It was very traumatic  ---for her parents as well as her.  After many a new pig sent by relatives and friends,  Emmy  had found her new Piggy and she loves her!!

Here is a picture of "new" Piggy....




Chosen from many a new stuffed pig...A hippo. Named Piggy.

When was the last time you looked at the toy aisle of  Walmart or any other retail store?   It's like a creep show....you walk by and things come alive and start crying, whining, laughing.... creepy, I tell ya.



Everything is motion activated now!  Fun sounds and Giggle and Shake, were two among many.  It was like being in the "fun house" at the carnival.

Not to mention these guys....



....I had never heard of monster high.  I need to keep up on these things, I guess.

Tomorrow, I'll be back with a food post.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I've got nothin'

I've got nothin'.  And probably won't until next weekend.  It's our big "event" at work and I'll be busy all next week.

Nevada has great sunsets!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Good Morning!

I, too, have my cup of coffee this morning, as I listen to the rain come down... it did stop for a bit, so the Handyman and I could go for a walk this morning.  We were late getting out---5:15 a.m.  (I blame that on my husband.  He has to be at work at 7:00).   We are not used to so much rain out here in Nevada.  I say, so much.. but it's only rained off and on for the past 3 1/2 days, that's it.  Some of these Nevadans are fed up, they want sunshine, but I LOVE IT.
We do have a mystery that plagues me tho....Nevadans have never got the hang of umbrellas, so we don't use them.  I think it's because it rains so little, we just dont' "own" any umbrellas, and then when it does rain, it usually only lasts a short while, so what's the use?  

I am writing this random post because I wanted to remind you again that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month...In Canada too!  And I linked to BeanTown Baker's  Power of Pink Challenge a few days ago, so I wanted to remind you.... make something pink and post about it this month.

A few more random pictures from my 3day-60mile walk.



There were medical tents at every pit-stop. There were pit stops every few miles.



Tent city again--you had to remember your street letter and tent number, because they all looked alike.


My sister in law and my friend.  Pretty much passed out after walking on day #2.
A few mintues earlier, you would have found me lying there too.


There  was a whole litte "city" at the end of the day.  We had 'crew' who cooked for us and cleaned for us. Shower trailers and even a "rememberance tent" (that was very emotional)


There was also a tent decorating contest!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Wife's Tale

The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens.  I read this book for my on-line bookclub "Word Shakers" hosted by Sheila at "One Person's Journey Through a World of Books."
What can I say about this book? First off, let me remind you that I am NOT a book reviewer...I could never write with such expression and articulation as most book bloggers do.  I, however, do have the gift of gab, and I can talk about books forever and not get tired.
I read The Wife's Tale in 2 days.  I was running late, but didnt' want to miss out on the discussion and being a part of the group.  At first, I was disappointed and  wasn't sure I liked the book well enough to read it in 2 days.  I did not like Mary, the main character very well.
For a bit of background, Mary was morbidly obese and reclusive and dependant on her husband for everything.  My reason for not liking Mary was not because she was obese or  introverted (which later turned to reclusivness), but because she was such an unhappy, unconfident, miserable person.  It's hard to like someone when they feel sorry for themselves all the time, which Mary did.  Her life was all about self-pity and eating.
But as the book progressed, and Mary began to emerge as a stronger person, a person who had thoughts and ideas and opinions, she became much more interesting and I began to want to know what was going to happen to her.  She lost some weight during the course of the book, but she was still a big woman...and that's okay, because she grew in other ways...opened herself to others and let them in to her life.
My favorite minor character might have been her husband Jimmy, who was never actually in the book, except in memories.  Jimmy abandoned her on the eve of their 25th wedding anniversary.  In real life, abandonment is a cruel, cruel thing to do, and it was in the book too, but  Mary  could never have had her life changing adventures if that crisis hadn't taken place in her life.   She had kind memories of Jimmy and how  he treated her during their marriage, and by looking back, she could see that there were things she could have done different.   She was just filled with so much guilt over an incident that took place the day before her wedding that she let it fill her whole life and it took over in the way of food and inertia, and eventually ruined her marriage and could have ruined her life.  Until Jimmy left her and forced her to  life.
So, Jimmy was a great minor character, whom we never met.

I liked the book.  I had read "The Girls" by Lansens a couple of years ago and really enjoyed that one.  One other minor thing that Lansens did in this book, was to have the characters Mary, Jimmy and their families/friends, live in the same town as the characters in her novel "The Girls".   It's mentioned in passing a couple of  times--the conjoined twins who lived in the town, but were dead now.
I always like a connection that.

My Big Backyard (usually on Wednesdays, sometimes Thursdays)

Because I'm a nerd, I want to see how my backyard changes throughout the year. So! I'm going to take a few pictures of it eac...