Monday, November 29, 2010

Too many things, too little time

That seems to be the story of my life lately --too many things to do and too little time to do it in.  My job interferes  with so much of my life!  I'm not sure what to do about that, as I have to work to pay the bills.  I'm getting ready to redo my kitchen after the first of the year....new tile in kitchen and dining room.  New oven, new counter, new sink.  I will keep you updated as we go along.  But these things need funds, so... off to work I will go, even if it cuts into my blogging time!

I am getting ahead of myself.  I was saying....I'm busy. So are you.  So I will get on with what I have to say.

It looks like this outside my kitchen window:




(it was 4 degrees outside when I took this!  Brrrr!!)

It's a good thing I have these:



Do you want to know why a rural Nevada girl is sporting new Canadian mittens?  Because  my  new friend Brenda, (a fellow blogger)  gave them to me!  And they are really, really warm.    I voiced the questions to my Friday Friend Forum this morning:  Are you a glove kinda girl or a mitten kinda girl?  I am awaiting their answers.  These mittens are warm tho.  I love them.  Thanks Brenda!
Brenda and I met up and had lunch in Las Vegas on Wednesday.  We became friends thru our blogs.   It was so much fun to get together for lunch.....it was just much too short.
We really had a nice time getting to know a bit about each other in that short hour.  Here is one thing I do know:   she has a sense of humor.
We met at Toby Keith's "I love this bar and grill" in Harrah's. 



As we were sitting there eating, I noticed that their were bras hanging around the bar.  All kinds, all shapes, all sizes.  (it was a mild lunch, mind you, but we decided that it becomes a different place at night)  Well, I don't know if you remember, but about a month ago I wrote this blog  and Brenda has been giving me a bad time every since.  She has been teasing me about my bra!  (read the post) So I am sure she picked this place on purpose.  (she says no, that she had no idea ~smiles~)
It was so funny to see those things hanging around. 




Thanks again Brenda for such a nice time.


Brenda and Toby and me


Brenda, me and the Handyman.




I wanted to mention that I did participate in the  "Thankfully Reading Challenge".  I just didn't have the time to post about it.  I was in Phoenix and I read books for 13 hours on the drive down there and for 13 hours on the drive back to Nevada.







And here I can segue into   "It's Monday,  What are you reading" because I am reading:

Home by Bill Bryson.  My book club is going to kill me.  Not that it's not a great book. IT IS...it's just not a novel, and I think they are expecting a novel.  And it's a big, thick book.  December is a cruel month for a big, thick book, that is 'required' for book club.  (But I love him!!)

The Christmas Chronicles by Jeff Guinn.  Which is going to fulfill part of 'The  Christmas Spirit of Reading Challenge"  (doesn't officially begin until Wed), but I am really enjoying it.  The first book  in the chronicles is  "The Autobiography of Santa Claus" which incorporates history and holiday into one.  I really am liking it.





A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens for the  Read-a-Long at Sheery's Place.
What do I think of it?  I love the story.  I love the language.  I love that it takes Dickens 3 pages to describe one thing.  I am happy to be reading it.   Although, you have to pay attention, because it doesn't flow easy--the words and description are not what I am used to, but it's okay, it's a classic.
This week, we have only read Stave 1.  We will read a stave a week and end right before Christmas.



I will end with dessert  (don't we always? )

I had a Pumpkin Pie challenge!
We spent Thanksgiving at my son's in Phoenix, AZ.  I made the pies.  My son and his wife made everything else.  
I made three different pies.  (my pictures don't do justice to the pies... my picture taking confused the in-laws, so I hurried)

One from Brenda's Canadian Kitchen. 



One from Bobby Flay's Throwdown.    (good whipped cream!  It had bourbon in it)



One from Recipe Girl. 



I kept saying,  "We're having a contest!"  Until my son informed me that I was  the only one in the contest and I was going to be the winner, because I was making them all.  (They weren't quite  as excited as I was)

3 pies.  All very good.   All a bit different, so I can't say that I loved one above another, they were all really good, they were like my kids!  I can't choose just one.    But if  actions speak louder than words,  The Double Layer Pumpkin Pie from Brenda's Canadian Kitchen went home with the in-laws!  (They left us only one piece for later)  They took HALF A PIE!!

oh....and this:



wasn't scary at all.  It looked like this when you were actually on it (you couldn't even see the dam):





You couldn't tell you were going over a bridge at all. 
Now it's late--the Handyman is in bed, I can hear him snoring.  He is upstairs, I am downstairs and the TV is on, "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives"....and still I hear the rumble from the bedroom upstairs.  Heaven help me!

Night!

Monday, November 22, 2010

New Friends and coffee cake

Have you ever thought how weird and wonderful the blogging world is?  We make friends with people we don't know.  We send gifts to people we've never seen.  We encourage people in contests and challenges, we find things in common with virtual strangers!
It seems to me  that my blogging friends understand my compulsions better than any of the friends I have close.   For instance:  being a foodie, and just wanting to write all about it.  Or being a complete book nerd.

But you, YES YOU....You who are reading this right now?  You get me.  (or at least you put up with me and I can't see you rolling your eyes or hear you sigh).
I'm telling you this because when I first came upon Brenda's Canadian Kitchen and saw that she did "Cookbook Sundays", I thought WOW, this is so cool, she "gets" me.  She gets me because I had made a challenge to myself to make something from very cook book I own. I found that I was easily distracted.   Cookbook Sundays would help to keep me on track.  I was sure of it. 

And so began  the relationship between Brenda and I.

Brenda and I...we're  taking it to the next level.  Yep. We are daring like that.   We.....are.....actually......going to meet!  YAY!

Who would have ever thought it would happen. She lives in Toronto, which is  the cultural, entertainment and financial capital of Canada!
I live in Winnemucca, which is  the Crossroads of the West  (2 freeways intersect.  Two. Whole. Roads.  woooo! ).

But Brenda and her husband have a dirty little secret;  they love Las Vegas. 
It's in Nevada.  I live in Nevada.  They flew into Vegas on Sunday.
The Handyman and I are driving thru Vegas on Wednesday.

We talked, we planned, we brainstormed.  And finally Brenda came up with a plan.     We are all  meeting for lunch at Toby Keith's 'I love this bar and grill'.
WOO HOO.
Just remember,  What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.  There is no telling what might go on.
(but I'm sure one of us will take pictures and post them on our blog sometime).
You will have to stay tuned to find out.
I'm very excited..  (oh, and tomorrow is her birthday....go to her blog and wish her a happy day!)

I will be gone for a few days, so I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving a couple of days early and leave you with this great coffee cake I made on Sunday.  (and no I didnt' get it up on Cookbook Sundays, bad me!  I'm going to have a talk with Brenda about keeping me on track!)



Cherry Cheese Coffee Cake

2 pkgs. Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
1 pkg. cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 can cherry pie filling
1 egg white
1 tsp sugar

Roll out crescent rolls in a rectangle. Cut 1-inch strips all the way down both sides.  You want to leave about 6 inches in the middle.  Mix the cream cheese and sugar together and spread down the center.  Spoon the cherry pie filling over the top.  If you use a fork you will not get all the juice.  Fold the crescent rolls over the top.   Mix egg white and 1 tsp sugar and paint the top of the coffee cake.  Bake at 350 for  25-30 minutes.

Have a great Thanksgiving everybody! 



P.S.   I have my stack of Pumpkin Pie recipes to take with me.  We are going to have a Pumpkin Pie throw down in Phoenix!!
And my stack of holiday books for the Thankfully Reading Weekend and  The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge, to read on the 12 hour drive.  NO, I'm not doing the driving...the Handyman is.
And most important is...I get to see my son and his family.  My granddaughter Cassandra. 
Be safe!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Crazy Book Club--The Lit Wits.

Saturday morning, we woke up to this:



There is nothing as exciting as the first snow:  the hustle and bustle of finding our gloves  (where did we put them last spring?),  getting our driveway shoveled quickly (or else it freezes and it's a slope), realizing we don't have any 'ice melt' or 'salt' for the  walk-way, making a snow ball and throwing it at your husband as he shovels the driveway.



I'll be very tired of it come January 1st, but for now, it's beautiful.

The Lit Wits. This is my 'cooking'  and reading club.  We cook a meal, that is sometimes themed around our book, sometimes not.  After the excitement of the snow, it was fun to go to a book club brunch, where we discussed "Half Broke Horses" by Jeanette Walls.



(mini book review:  we  all enjoyed the book.  It explained a lot about  The Glass Castle, as to why Walls  mother was the way she was.  I guess explained is the wrong word--it brought to light reasons why her mother might have been the way she was.
Walls' Grandma Casey was a bit eccentric, but really an amazing woman.  As one reviewer put it,  " Walls has packaged Lily as a gumption-packin’ ranch gal whose pluck never quits."
It did, in a strange way, remind us of  "Little House on the Prairie" all grown up and twisted.
Walls wrote the novel, (and she calls it a novel, rather than a biography, because she did have to fill in some blanks from old family stories) in first-person, in her grandmother's voice to give the oral history more passion.   Walls says that these stories of her grandmother's life are among her favorite childhood stories.
 We read it.  We liked it.  We had a good time discussing it.  The end. )

We are intelligent, well-read women, who also like to cook.  Apparently, Renee can't find her apron,  but she can really make a great feast in the morning.   We had:  bacon, sausage, eggs, fruit, muffins, mimosas, coffee.



We look normal, right?




But at night, when the sun goes down, my mild-mannered, meek  Lit Wit friends turn into:




Crazy Disco Babes!
(we went to a 70's dance last night)



Saturday, November 20, 2010

Beer Tasting Party With Friends!

So you think you know your beer?  You're a connoisseur, you say?  You'll only drink "your" brand?



Last night we got together with old friends and had a beer tasting party.  All of those invited were asked to bring a certain kind of beer and an appetizer and to come and watch the Boise State/Fresno football game on the big screen TV.  It turned out to be an embarrassing football game to watch if you were rooting for Fresno, but since none of us were, it was a good night.

My friend April has the perfect house for hosting parties.  In her lower level, she and her husband put in an "entertaining" kitchen, in the big room where they have a Big  Screen TV and a pool table.  But the important part is an whole OTHER kitchen in their house.  In the lower level, where my parents might have put a "bar" by their pool table (not might have, they did), April and Doug have a small kitchen.  It's perfect!!



Each of us arrived with our beer in a brown paper sack and it was whisked away to a secret room, then poured into a pitcher labeled with the name of a tree. (you will notice the tree suckamore in place of sycamore, because Doug hates those trees)  Then we were given voting sheets, to vote for the best tasting pitcher of beer, and at the end of the evening a winner was declared!



The Handyman and I laugh because one year we did this and our friend who was adamant about knowing his "Bud Light"   chose  O'Douhl's  (non-alcoholic beer) as the best tasting.

So, the question is, do you really know your beer?   For Domestic beers,  it turns out  the answer is, no.  Not usually.   Believe it or not, in blind taste tests, a beer is a beer, is a beer, 90%  of the time.     But for premium and micro-brews,  you can really tell a difference in beers.  Last night that's what we had,  the premium and micro-brews. We even had a home brew in the midst.   We did know our beers.
Well, okay, I didn't, but all of the beer drinkers did.  They could pretty much tell if it was a stout, a porter, an ale, a red, an ultra-fruity girly beer (that's the exact words of the Handyman...ultra-fruity, girly beer) a wheat beer, and so on.



I voted for the Ultra-fruity-girly beer.  It was good!   I did my taste test and then changed to iced-tea.  I am just not a beer drinker.    If one looks close at my pictures ( you can see them here), neither is Shelly.  You can see a wine glass in her hand.

It was a nice evening.   There is just something about being with old friends!

And then when we left at around 11pm......it was beginning to snow.



We went home and went to bed and when we awoke?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Yay!!

My daughter in law "fixed" it for me.  My header, that is.  My birds, my backyard!  In the winter of course, as we head into it...just  a reminder of what it looked like last year.

Thanks Sadie!!

ACK!

I've really messed up my header.  It's too bad I have to rely on a template, because I am so "blogger header" challenged!
I will be back later.....and try to fix this. 

Carry on.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

At the end of the day.....

One can never belong to too many book clubs.  It's sometimes hard to keep up tho...I do my best, but today was a 2 book club day!  I can't give them up, I love them too much.

Today, we met for the Literary Guild Luncheon.  The Literary Guild is the oldest club in Winnemucca (my little town) and  my friends and I are the youngest members.  We are all right around 50, but we are known as the "young ones".    Most everyone is older...and that's kind of fun too, to be able to  visit and get to know some of the older community members.   A sad note is that  in the 10 years which I've been a member, we've  lost some. (as in they have passed away) They were well into their 80's+.
It used to be this was a very high fluting club meeting.  One dressed and wore hats and gloves, etc.   It has changed very much over the course of the years.
Today I wore my jeans.

For these monthly meetings  (only 9 a year...they go dark in the summer months) we meet at the same restaurant, a Basque restaurant called  The Martin Hotel.  They've been meeting at the Martin Hotel for well over 50  years.
We don't all read the same book (except in May), but rather, we listen to a "book talk" or "book report" given by one of our members.

Today's book talk was on the Hunger Games Trilogy.   I loved these books, but beside myself and Doris, who was giving the report, no one had read them.  I can understand that....this great YA read was probably not on their radar.

I always love these lunches.




It looks like her friends fell asleep while she was giving her book report...
...not so!  It's the photographers fault. 




Then tonight was  my Totally Lit(erature) meeting!  It was a small group tonight, just 6 of us.   We have about 16 girls in the group, but I don't think we've ever all been  together at the same time.   We discussed  "The Hotel on the corner of Bitter and Sweet", which we all enjoyed.



I say often,  I am not a book critic, nor do I review books.  I just love books. This one was a quick, easy, but very interesting and thought provoking read.  We discussed  the relationship between fathers and sons, the way immigrants are treated  in the United States.  How complicated a subject that can be.
And also first loves and our own ancestry.
We enjoyed wine and a great pumpkin dessert.  And most of all, a great discussion on a good book!
I love my book clubs. (sigh)

Tonight?  As I said, there were just  a few of us.  And a cat to sit on our laps.





In September we met at the Stonehouse, which is a Bed and Breakfast about 30 miles out in the country, where we had supper and some of us enjoyed wine, others were designated drivers.  I guess out of 13 of us, only 3 were designated...all others partook of the wine. 

In December, we'll have our annual, "white elephant" book exchange as well as a book discussion. We all have to bring a wrapped book that we already own to use for the gift exchange.  We figure we all have enough stuff and we all love books and maybe there is one we have been wanting to share....one we already own.  It's a stress-free gift exchange!

In January we are going to have our first: Miss Hot dish meeting....where we all bring a "hot dish" to share and we will elect a queen! She will be Miss Hot Dish for a whole year!  It's our fancy way of saying Potluck.

I feel like a broken record, saying how much I enjoy my time at book club(s)  (wait till Saturday, when I do this all again)


At the Stonehouse 







Good Night!! 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Coffee Blond Brownies from Ms. enPlace

I am feeling more and more confirmed in my conviction that there is a common thread that runs through all of humankind.
I found that quote (?) in a file on my computer.  I like to collect quotes and sayings that I like, and then use them in Handwritten letters.  (yes, I'm weird like that, I do still write letters and send them by snail mail)
I also found this in my drafts:
You know how sometimes you wonder about yourself?  At least I do....   
...but I can't remember what I was wondering about.?
Right now, I'm wondering about how 2 or 3 people can  make the same recipe and it turns out so different.  And I wonder about altitude and how it makes baking so different.   We live at over 4000 feet above sea level.  Not so very  high (is it?) but it does make a difference when you are baking.
And I baked last Friday. 
I made  Ms enPlace's  Coffee Blond Brownies.   I made them and took them to a party--without having tested them.  I thought I was going to have to wrestle people away from them, so I could take a few home.  (I actually kept some at home just because I was afraid of that)
At first, I was wondering, why my Blondies didn't look blonde and looked more brownie like.  I was going to blame the altitude, but then I looked back at Michelle's and her's were pretty dark too.  So, I quit wondering about that.
Let me state for the record that these blondies/brownies were very GOOD!!  They were everything she said,  chewy and moist and gooey.  They had a distinct coffee flavor...mmmmmm.  Everyone at the party was grabbing them up.   They would have been great with some vanilla ice-cream, but I  saved some for breakfast the next morning.  No ice-cream for me.  I was on a diet, so I just saved them for my breakfast.
My book, the blondie/brownies and a hot cup of coffee.  What a nice start to the morning.
They look chocolaty, don't they?  But really...only chocolate chips and coffee.
And brown sugar and pecans.  I have to stop here, before I wonder if I have all the stuff to make more of them!  They are so good!
I'm going to let you get the recipe from Ms. enPlace's blog post here.
That way you can check out some of her other goodies.
Tomorrow I have 2 book club meetings.  One is just a lunch meeting, where we listen to a ' book talk', and then in the evening it is my 'Totally Lit(erature)" meeting, where we will be discussing  "The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet".  I'm not finished with it yet, so I'm off to read, even tho I feel like going to bed.  I'll post about book clubs tomorrow.
This is totally off the subject, but.... I once asked some friends of mine what decade of clothing they liked the best.  Out of about 45 answers, there were lots of 40's, 60's but believe it or not, quite a few 80's!
My husband and I own a dry cleaners and we have a 19 year old girl working the front counter.  Today someone brought in a "jump suit"  (remember those?)  And our girl held it up and asked "What IS this?"
Ahhhh.....to be so young, to not remember jump suits.   What is your favorite decade of fashion?
Good night!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Humble Pie

Humble Pie....it's not easy to eat.  But a couple of times this past week, I have had to do just that.
To backtrack a bit, I am not a FOOD blogger.  Well, I am, but I am not a professional cook, baker, entertainer. I have no plans to make a cookbook, nor go on our local TV station with a cooking segment (we don't have a local TV station--sigh)  I just like to cook and take pictures and write about what I make and write silly stuff.  I think that describes 95% of most "food" bloggers.  At least I hope it does.  I hope some of you can relate to me, in eating the humble pie.  Or if not in eating the humble pie, at least in a couple of cooking disasters.

Let me explain.....  last week,  Ms enPlace  tagged me with some questions. 

#6 was this:
6. What was your worst kitchen disaster?



My answer was this:
Hmmmm.....I haven't really had a bad one. I've put things in the oven and forgotten to turn it on. Actually at my house it's a disaster to have a baked potato which is still hard in the middle. It has happened often thru-out the years.

Since I answered that in such a superior tone, I've had 2, TWO cooking disasters!   And I'm going to be brave enough to show them to you.  I told you:  Humble Pie. 

What makes it worse for me is that I used two new ( to my cookbook countdown) cookbooks, and now  I don't know if I should or shouldn't "count them down".    Is it okay to use a recipe that was a DISASTER,  just to be able to cross them off the list?   I know for certain that I can't  post them for Cookbook Sundays  (which was my reason for making them in the 1st place)
To  make up for my snobby answer, I've made Ms. enPlace's  Blondies.  YUM!!!   I'll post about them later in the week.
 
Anyway.... my disasters:
 
Apple Cake
( from a church cookbook. And it was my own church.  I know this lady and she's a great cook!!  I should have known the 2 T. baking soda was a typo!! )
 
 
 
 
Pizza by the Yard
(6 inches from the broiler really does mean 6 inches from the broiler)
 

Coming up soon:
Coffee Espresso Blondies
Cherry Coffee Cake
And....
both of my book clubs meet this week!
oh..and a beer tasting party coming up.

and next week?
I'm going to meet a friend in Vegas.
(more about this later)