Thursday, March 31, 2011

Good night

Okay apparently you don't have to have a 'smart' phone to have Twitter on your phone.  You just have to have a smart 'person' to know that.  I guess it  wasn't me.  Because after I embarrassed myself saying I have to use my computer to get into my Twitter account, my sweet daughter-in-law sent me a text  (or maybe it was a tweet?) letting me know that I could indeed get Twitter on my phone.  (we have the same phone).

I am an old dog.  I can only learn so many tricks.

Speaking of that--(only so many tricks I can do)  please bear with me as I change my blog header.  I NEED my daughter in law to do that for me too and she's really busy this week.  Like seriously loaded down busy.  I want her, I need  her....but  works/career stuff  trumps the mother-in-law.
Sometime next week, I will look good again. I promise.   Or my header will look good again anyway.  Me?  I still have some jogging and dieting to do....

My "Lit Wits" book club met tonight.  (sigh)  I love book club.   My friend told me she read on the news that if a person (I am going to insert myself here) belongs to a club  (inserting book club here), they are as happy as a person who has a million dollars.
It was on the news, so it must be true.
I felt like a millionaire tonight---basking in the company of friends.  ( you think I jest, but I don't.  I really do love going to book club)

Here is my book and my cup of tea and my scones--yummy scones!



It's late, I'm not reviewing the book .  Okay--I cannot tell a lie.  I DIDN'T EVEN READ IT.  (now my friends will see this --dang, I ratted myself out--they didn't have a clue. )  But it seemed like everyone else enjoyed this one.  A couple of them have read the sequel already.   It was a good discussion...and I joined right in.  I would say  "do you think"   and that would lead them on to discuss something at length.   It was just fun for me to listen to them 'book talk'.
The book was "The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club"  by Gil Mcneal.   It got good reviews for a "quick and easy, chick-lit" book tonight.

On the menu for tomorrow night?   Seafood Soup and Bacon Stuffed Shells.

Now...good night.

O bed! O bed! delicious bed!

That heaven upon earth to the weary head.

Twittering

I have a Twitter account.  (sigh)  I'm not sure why--I dont' even have a smart-phone.  So, the whole idea of using it from my computer kind of defeats the purpose I think.
I can go for a few days without checking it...and then I feel I must Tweet something.  The trouble is--I have nothing of any importance to Tweet about.

My Tweet for today?  "Book Club tonight.  I hope she has good food."

I guess tho, you can get quite addicted to it.  I had to laugh at Steve Martin's Tweet from the other day  (don't ask my how I got to be following Steve Martin.  I have no idea!!  I think it was a retweet anyway...from someone who does follow him.  So.....if I post on my blog a retweet orginally from a tweet from Steve Martin, are there are laws, I'm breaking?)

Anyway...addiction.
Steve said  (or tweeted):   Twitter over capacity! Couldn’t Tweet for 30 minutes. Forced to tell doorman that I had Cream of Wheat for breakfast. Not the same.

Now that's funny.
I love Steve Martin.

Who has Twitter?
Who has Twitter that is over 50?  (non-celeberaties I mean)

Mmmm-hmm.  That's what I thought.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Meatloaf Hoagies



The Handyman and I like sandwiches, altho you might not be able to tell by my blog, since I have never posted about a sandwich.  Well the time has come for me to make amends and tell you about a great little meatloaf sandwich.  I found this recipe in  the 2007  April/May issue of Taste of Home Magazine, sent in by Connie Boucher  of  Dixon, Missouri.
(weird---Boucher was the last name of my first boyfriend  )

Meatloaf is probably one of those sandwiches that you either love or hate. There is no in between.   I love cold meatloaf sandwiches, so I usually make extra when we have meatloaf just for that reason.  The  Handyman is not fond of meatloaf for  supper.  He'll eat it, and when our boys were young, they loved it, so....I made it--he had to eat it,   but what we (and yes, him.  He does like cold meatloaf sandwiches ) were really looking forward to was lunch the next day.  
I won't try to sway you one way or the other---meatloaf is what it is.

And while  we liked this Hoagie for supper, it too,  was even better the next day, cold on white bread for lunch. 
Too bad that my pictures, when I looked at them the next day, were not 'better' also.   I got great shots of the pickles and the potato chips.




Cheeseburger Meat Loaf Hoagies

1 egg lightly beaten
1 can (8oz) tomato sauce
1 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/3 cups mayonnaise
2 tbsp ketchup
2 medium tomatoes, sliced  
8 slices cheese
8 bacon strips --cooked and halved
8 hoagie buns--split and toasted

In a large bowl, combine the egg, tomato sauce, oats, onion, salt and pepper.  Crumble beef over mixture and mix well.  Press evenly into an ungreased 13x9x2 inch baking dish.
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for  30-35 minutes or until no pink remains.  Drain off grease.
Combine mayonnaise and ketchup; spread over meat loaf.  Cut into eight rectangles; top each with tomatoes, cheese and bacon.  Place on baking sheet; broil 3-4 inches from the heat for 2-3 minutes or  until cheese is melted.
Serve on buns.
8 sandwiches.



In other news, I understand that today the Oxford English Dictionary has 'okay'ed'   the word  (or use of )  LOL.
Many times I have been tempted to 'lol' in a blog post, but I have held off.  But now?  Be warned --according to Facebook,  LOL is my most used word on my status updates.  (sigh) I need a new word.  Especially now that LOL has become so passe` and conventional.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mexican Chocolate Cake

I have this wonderful little cookbook  called Treasured Recipes From the Charleston Cake Lady  by Teresa Pregnall  and it has the best cake recipes!   

I've tried a few of the pound cakes in the past and loved them, but  the trouble with having so many cookbooks, is that once in a while they slip thru the cracks,  which is exactly what happened with this one and it got stuck  behind another cookbook and it was "out of sight, out of mind"  for quite some time.  Like a few years.   
I had a lot of fun 'rediscovering' it this weekend and I've found  a few more cakes that I want to make in the next few weeks.



This time a wonderfully rich chocolate cake caught my eye.
It's called "Mexican Chocolate Cake."   I'm not sure why. 
I'm not sure of the distinction that might make it "Mexican"  (if anything really does---we all cook/bake right?)  and it's almost exactly   my Chocolate Skinny cake  which is a sheet cake I make in the summer.  It didn't dawn on me that it was almost exactly like my  Skinny Cake,  until I was already in the process of making it. It's  a good cake tho, so it was worth posting about again.  This cake is really moist and chocolaty and fudgy. You Pour the frosting on while the cake is hot!  I think that makes it extra moist.  And then you let it cool only 45 minutes so it's still a bit warm when you eat it that first night.   Mmmmm.
The Handyman has eaten cake 3 nights in a row--that is unusual for him--he is a one piece of cake eater, maybe 2 and then he's done.  So, if you are looking for recommendations, that is a good one!



The Mexican Chocolate Cake directions said to put it in a 9x12 pan.  I have lots of 9x13 pans, but not a 12x9.   So I measured the inside of one of my 13x9 pans, and it is  NOT EVEN  quite 9x12.    Perfect.   I  did have  to bake the cake longer than the directions said.  I'm not sure if that is because of the cake pan size or the altitude  (we are over 4000 ft ), but it all turned out great.



Pregnal does mail orders too. She has baked and mailed thousands from her Charleston kitchen.  Part of me wants to order a cake from her to see how it turns out, because while I have the recipes and they turn out good, I have to  play around with them, because we are over 4000 ft altitude and things just cook different.

Mexican Chocolate Cake
1 cup sweet butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted
1 cup water
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 12x9 inch pan.
In medium saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the cocoa and water and bring to a boil. Set aside.
Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl.  Stir in the sugar.  Pour the boiled mixture into the bowl and mix well. Add the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla and mix well.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes  (I had to bake about 27 minutes), or until the cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  While the cake is baking, prepare the icing.

Hot Fudge Icing
1/2 cup sweet butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 box (1 pound) confectioners sugar
1/2 cups walnuts chopped  (I left them out this time, as my family prefers cakes without them)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Stir in the cocoa til dissolved and the buttermilk, Bring to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat and gradually add the confectioners sugar, nuts and vanilla.  Stir well.
Remove the baked cake from the oven and pour the hot icing over the top.  
Allow the cake to cook in the pan for about 45 minutes. 
Cut to serve.

I'm adding this to my Cookbook Countdown as cookbook #41

Monday, March 21, 2011

It's Monday





Be sure and check out the Friday Friends Big Back Yard today!




It's Monday, what are you reading?
Brought to you by  Sheila of  "One Person's Journey Through a World of Books".
Check it out!

I finished this book last Monday at noon.  I could have written up a quick post and made it to  last week's meme by the skin of my teeth. But I knew I couldn't do it justice if I had to do it fast.
I'm talking about the book  "Sing You Home" by Jodi Picoult.



As you know, I don't review books, I just tell you if I like them or not.  "Sing You Home" has gotten mixed reviews and I was afraid to read it because I did not want to be disappointed.  I like Picoult and enjoy her books very much.

(a sidenote here....my daughter in law and I had talked about going to see Picoult in San Fransisco this month, and we ended up not going.  I  now wish we had tried harder, because I would have loved to hear her talk about this book,)

I was not disappointed.  I know Picoult's novels are not something like great classic literature, she'll never win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, BUT she writes popular novels with cutting edge topics, that keep thousands and thousands of fans hooked on her books.
Maybe my reasons for liking this book were more on an emotional level than the fact that it was well written, a good book, etc. Although I thought it was all those things.
I know people who live everyday of their lives dealing with the issues  Picoult wrote about in this novel (gay marriage--or lack thereof,  infertility, divorce ).  Not all at the same time as the story in the book portrays, but different people, same issues.   So it kept my interest on a personal level. 
I think Picoult always tries to show both sides of an issue and how complicated these situations can be.  I really appreciate her research and empathy for people and that comes thru in her novels.
The only thing I was a tad bit disappointed in, was that when Picoult addressed this 'hot topic' (same sex couples having children)  she represented the ultra-conservative, evangelical side of religion and there wasn't a  representation of the more moderate, liberal religious view.
I felt that  was a bit biased. For people who read the book and have no religious background, that could be a huge turnoff for religion for them. That is not always the religious viewpoint.   Of course, the ultra-conservative are the loudest, so they get the attention, but there are more moderate religions who would have shown compassion and kindness and  advocated for the couple.

I'm off topic, because what I really wanted to say about the book, the thing that really stuck with me was the idea of Music Therapy.   The main character was a music therapist.  I LOVED that idea.  I had never heard of a music therapist before, but once I did, I was hooked.
Music has always been an important part of my life.  I can't sing, I can't play an instrument, but I LOVE music. All kinds of music.   I DO have a soundtrack for my life.  I know it, I have it in my head  (of course the Handyman would say that his theme song is  I Can't Get No Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones.  He's so funny ) I plan dinner parties around what music I am going to play, I have certain music rules (rainy days I play the Sinatra channel on my car Sirius radio, Sunday mornings Gregorian Chant or  Yo Yo Ma,  working in the yard--the 60's channel,  country music when I'm at work, jazz on Friday nights!)
I just loved the idea of music helping people thru their lives.  Or out of their lives.  My friend Debbie, just lost her mother this past December, and in the last days the one thing that comforted her was music.  She would listen to Ava Maria over and over.

Some years back I read  "The Crosswick Journals" by Madeline L'Engle  ( A Wrinkle in Time) and she mentioned that she had four generations  of her family living under her roof one summer and she loved the fact that her 80 year old mother was subjected to the Beatles played by her son on his record player that summer.  She didn't want her mother to be so old as to never know what great  new music was being made every day.

I hope that my grandchildren want to share their music with me.  I know I'll never love it like they do  (it's an age thing) but I do want them to be able to share with me.
Who knows....what comforts me when I leave this world might be some new cutting edge rock and roll song in say....50 more years!

I liked the book, Sing You Home,but I haven't yet listened to the music CD that came with it.  For the same reason...I'm afraid of being disappointed.  But since I wasn't with the book, there is hope for the music, right?




I also listened to "The Weird Sisters" by Eleanor Brown on my Mp3 player.  I am not usually a fan of audiobooks, but I have to say this narrator kept me interested. I loved the way she read.   I downloaded it so I could listen on a drive to Reno, and then I enjoyed it so much I wore my little headphones all over the place, whenever I could.  
"The Weird Sisters" is about 3 sisters raised by  academic parents,  (They quote Shakespeare all thru-out the book) who return home as adults because their mother has cancer. 
All 3 have issues, and all see each other from their own/different perspectives.  It was all about family dynamics,  with Shakespeare quotes added in and a strong emphasis on book reading (they didn't have TV or radio growing up).
I liked the book.



I read "Still Life" by Louise Penny,  the first in a series, featuring Chief Inspector Gamache.  It takes place in a small village outside of Quebec.  I know nothing about Quebec and its relationship to Canada, so  a few insights have been quite interesting.  I will be reading the 2nd in the series soon.

This weekend I picked up  Don't Sing at the Table:  Life Lessons from My Grandmothers by Adriana Trigiani. I think it will be a quick read for me.  I always love a good memoir too.
And After that, probably  The Lonely Polygamist which is waiting for me on my Kindle.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Best-Ever Bourbon Brownies



My grandmother loved bourbon.  Yep.  She did.  Bourbon and water was her drink. This was back in the days of the cocktail hour when everyone had one ( a cocktail or two that is) at the end of the day before dinner.  And my grandmother's was bourbon and a splash of water.  At family dinners---way back in the 1960's, my family were very Mad Men-ish, and we children had to wait for supper until the adults had a cocktail, and a cigarette.  It was a different time.
(now, it's no cigarettes at all and wine with dinner) Anyway....the smell of bourbon brings back fond memories of my childhood.  I even make a a bourbon cranberry dish for Thanksgiving just so I can smell it, so when I was looking thru some old cooking magazines and came across this recipe for "Best Ever Bourbon Brownies" I thought--why not?
I gave it a try. 

and it was...

REALLY GOOD.  (and it made my house smell great while baking and cooling)

We had company for dinner  (corn and shrimp chowder, lettuce wedges with blue cheese vinaigrette, herbed bread, BBQ steaks in case you're wondering)
and at the end, I brought these out. 



Everyone was quite excited about the bourbon.  It was just the Handyman and John and Robbie Milton, whom we have dinner with every Friday night, so I feel comfortable trying out new recipes on them.  The Handyman said  "Mmmmm....the bourbon enriches the chocolate flavor."
WOW.  So profound.  He usually just eats and thanks me.  Not too much of a critic  (except for the Sour Beef disaster of a couple weeks ago).
Well, he was right....the bourbon did enhance the chocolate flavor and these brownies were very moist and mmmm, mmmmm, good!
I think they taste better the 2nd day after they've sat in the bourbon for  a while.  (apparently so did the Handyman, as he has eaten 2 this morning while I was gone 90 minutes to church and back)

I found this recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens Hometown Cooking magazine, June 2001.  I loved that little cooking magazine, where they would showcase hometown cookbooks from across the country---you know, ones made by the Chamber of Commerce or the Community Church?   Great cookbooks because every one always puts in their very best dishes.



Best-Ever Bourbon Brownies

1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp water
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2-3 Tbsp bourbon

3 Tbsp butter--softened
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2-3 tsp milk  (I used a bit more.  I guess it all depends on how thick you want the frosting)
1/4 tsp milk
1 oz semisweet chocolate, melted

Grease an 8x8x2-inch baking pan; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the 1/3 cup butter, the granulated sugar and water.  Cook and stir over medium heat just until mixture boils.  Remove from heat. Add the 1 cup chocolate chips, stirring until melted.  Stir in eggs and vanilla, beating lightly with a spoon just until combined.  Stir in flour, baking soda and salt.  Stir in pecans.  Spread batter in prepared pan.
Bake in a 350 degree oven about 20 minutes or until edges are set and begin to pull away from sides of pan.
Using  a for, (I used a toothpick) prick the warm brownies several times.  Drizzle bourbon evenly over brownies; cool in pan on wire rack.

For the frosting, in a small bowl, beat the 3 tbs butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 30 seconds.  Gradually add powdered sugar, beating well.  Slowly beat in 2 tsp of the milk and the vanilla.  If necessary, beat in remaining milk to reach spreading consistency. Spread over brownies; drizzle melted chocolate over frosting. 
Makes 16-20.  (I made larger pieces--12--and used them as a dessert, not a bar/brownie) 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Snapshot Saturday and some book talk

At our last Totally Lit book club meeting, something weird happened.   No one had a book.  We had Kindles and Nooks and Sony E-Readers, but no one had an actual book.  It was kind of eerie in a way.  Like Twilight Zone-ish:  Let's all talk about a book that...no one has.

See what I mean?  No one can flip back to 'that passage' to see what was really said.  No one can hold up the cover when we begin to say:  First of all, who all read the book? and who liked the book? 

Okay...you can still ask those things, but not while lovingly holding the book and touching the cover.
It was just kind of odd. Futuristic?   I hope not.  I hope that books will stick around for a long long time.  It was just a funny coincidence I'm sure.

We read  "The Hand that First Held Mine."  It was a fine book.  Not my favorite.

It switched back and forth from one protagonist to another in different time periods.  
This has never bothered me before, so it leads me to believe that I just wasn't in the mood for this book.  It didn't call to me.

I didn't love the main characters and the writing confused me a bit, which sounds silly because I can read and understand all kinds of literature.  So this led me again to think the book just wasn't calling me.

Some of my bookies liked it a lot and some just thought it was okay.  No one hated it and it did lead to some good discussion.

After the eeriness, we had a bit of amusement. 

This is Ralph. 



Ralph is a parrot.  Ralph can sing Old MacDonald and quite a few words, but on book club night he was being shy and would talk.  What he did was copy our laughter.  We were all laughing so hard....at him.
At first, we just heard an echo of one person's laugh, and so we would laugh a bit harder, then the echo got louder and more peoples laughter was coming from the cage...and that just started a roller coaster of laughing and listening.

You know what tho?  That was kind of eerie too when you think about it.  A book club with no books, and a parrot imitating our laughter.  Quite  Twilight Zone if you ask me.

I am linking this snapshot of Ralph  (who is a girl, by the way) to   Snap Shot Saturday at  'At Home With Books'. 

PS.   I had wanted to find a good picture of my kitchen to show you the 'before' we begin or redecorating project.  paint, flooring, appliances, lighting, counter tops, sink.  But I couldn't find the picture I wanted.  So this week, you get Ralph.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hamburger Soup

It was nasty outside today.  It rained and hailed and the wind blew. It was a good soup day.  But I didn't make soup today. 
Then why did I title my blog post 'hamburger soup?"

Well I got this e-mail today from my friend Tomi:
I made Hamburger Soup today. You gave me the recipe years and years ago back in Elko. Every time I make it I think of you.

The first time I had Hamburger soup was at your house. It was game night, and you were hosting. Dink and Cash were there too. I think we played Trivial Pursuit that night-and it was a hotly contested game. Good times!!!

It made me smile to think of old times and old friends.   And I'm glad to know that the Hamburger Soup lives on.  The Handyman hates the name, but he likes the soup.
Years ago... 2008...I had a very short-lived 'soup' blog and I posted Hamburger Soup.    I thought it would be a good day to repost it.   A windy "lion" kind of March day.
Monday spring will be here--can't be soon enough for me!

Here is the original post of Hamburger Soup on my soup blog  "Ahhhsome Soups"
(it's basically just  a beef vegetable and barley soup, made with ground beef, but it's really good.  These pictures are old.  I had to steal them from my old blog---taken with my old camera)



Hamburger Soup


1 to 1 1/2 pound lean ground beef
4 cups beef broth
4 cups water
16 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 medium onion--chopped
2 carrots--sliced
2 ribs of celery--sliced
1/3 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tsp. season salt
1 tsp. dried basil
1 bay leaf

Brown the ground beef, drain off the grease. Add water and remaining ingredients in order given. Simmer for 2 hours or until the vegetables are tender.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Woolworth's Cheesecake



Grab your coffee cup, or  your coke or whatever your poison is, and settle down for a long read.  I should probably post about the cheesecake first, but...all of my recipes have a story.  Granted,  these stories might not be all that interesting to you, but they are interesting to me.  And this is my blog.  WHICH by the way brings me to state, that I'm not changing my blog. ( in my last post I was thinking about having a defined theme to my blog)  It's a book and cooking blog.  I'm over my identity crisis.  Eating and Reading--this is the blog for it!  My apologies to all you purists out there reading this right now  (hahaha...if you are a purist, you certainly aren't reading this blog), but.... 

OKAY....I'll quit rambling and post the cheesecake recipe.
I was looking thru  some Kopycat recipes the other day and I came across this recipe for Woolworth Cheesecake.  I don't know if anyone remembers the old Woolworth  5 and dimes, but I do....and I tasted my very first piece of cheesecake at their luncheonette.



Woolworth Cheesecake

1 (3oz) package of lemon Jell-0
1 cup boiling water
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup granulated sugar
5 Tbs lemon juice
1 can Carnation evaporated milk, well chilled
Graham Crackers--crushed

Dissolve Jell-O in boiling water.   Cool until slightly thickened.
Beat cream cheese, sugar and lemon juice with mixer until smooth. Add thickened Jell-O and beat well.
In a separate bowl, beat the Carnation milk until fluffy.  Add cream cheese/Jell-O mixture and beat well with mixer. 
Line the bottom of a  9x13 pan with crushed graham crackers, reserving some for the topping.  Spread filling over the top and sprinkle crushed graham crackers on top.
Chill.



My thoughts:  This was a really good dessert.  I would make it for company, we liked it very well.  Tasted very lemony.   BUT--it didn't really taste anything like cheesecake.  Even the very first Cheesecake I had at the Woolworth's Luncheonette.
I would rename it  "Lemon Fluff"  or something.  And for lemon lovers who are looking for  light (not in calories, but in filling) dessert for a spring get-together, this is it!
It looks like what I had at Woolworth's Luncheonette all those years ago. They were square and sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs on top too.  I might make it again and add some more cream cheese, and less evaporated milk and see what happens.
I also added a little  melted butter to the crushed graham crackers to help them bind together and I stuck the crust in the freezer while I made the filling.



********************************************************************************
I loved going to the Woolworths store!   The Five and Dime store.  You could get everything there.   It was better than a Walmart, because it seemed more intimate.  I'm being Nostalgic today.


The Woolworth's luncheonette!!  What do you remember about them?  I loved them.  I think the reason I am overweight today is because lunch has changed so much--SO MUCH over the years.   We used to be happy having an egg salad sandwich and a cup of tea...then hamburgers came about. With fries and then shakes and then they started to SUPERSIZE everything.
We don't need that much for lunch.    People make fun of the 50's and 60's health/diet wise, but seriously?  One tuna sandwich a pickle and a glass of milk  vs a Big mac and fries and a coke?   Which is better for us?

I don't actually see  cheesecake on this menu--but I swear I remember this menu!!   But I also remember hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and BBQ beef that simmered all day in  a warming drawer and by the end of the day looked pretty bad.  



The memory that should stand out in all our minds about the  Woolworth's Lunch counter is the "sit in".
On February 1, 1960, four black students sat down at a segregated lunch counter in a Greensboro, North Carolina, Woolworth's store. They were refused service, touching off six months of sit-ins and economic boycotts that became a landmark event in the U.S. civil-rights movement. In 1993, an eight-foot section of the lunch counter was moved to the Smithsonian Institution and the store site now contains a civil rights museum, which had its grand opening on Monday, February 1, 2010, the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the sit-ins.
I grew up in the northwest,  so segregation is foreign to me  (NOT to say we didn't have our race issues, or prejudices, but not segregation).  I didn't  understand how you could "not serve" someone who wanted to eat.




The Handyman and I are listening to the 60's on Sirius/XM radio and they are playing a lot of Monkee's songs.  On account of the Monkees having their 45th reunion tour this summer.
45 years ago!!  Wow.   Time flies.
Then a song came on called "Where the Action is" and the Handyman remembered a  TVshow called  "Where the Action is."   I didn't.  Of course he is much much older than I am.....HEY, I'm surprised he remembers that far back. 
(okay...I've picked myself up off the floor, from laughing so hard)  He's not much, much older than I....only one much.
I on the other hand remember,  "Happenin'  '68" with Paul Revere and the Raiders (who also hosted  Where the Action is for a couple of years).    They were all Dick Clark productions.

I am meandering, but does anybody remember  "Where the Action Is?"

Talk about meandering...you should check out my blog from a year ago!  I made some great Iced Tea!   And, I reminisced about some great children's books.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Booking Thru Thursday--multi-tasking

This week's "Booking Through Thursday" asks:

Do you multi-task when you read? Do other things like stirring things on the stove, brushing your teeth, watching television, knitting, walking, et cetera?

Or is it just me, and you sit and do nothing but focus on what you’re reading?
(Or, if you do both, why, when, and which do you prefer?)

My answer?
It's really hard for me to multi task.  So, no, I never multi-task when I'm reading a book.


Well, there. That was the easiest answer I've ever given.  Do you multi task when reading a book?  I can't even multi-task when I'm cleaning my house--I get distracted.  I have to do one thing at a time.

Which brings me to my blog....one thing at one time.  I am doing multiple things here.  Posting about food/cooking and books and random stuff that pops into my head.  I'm not sure it's working out.  For instance I've noticed that some of my blogging friends have links to   what they posted on their blogs  'a year ago today'.  
This way they can bring back recipes and/or book reviews that new followers might have missed.  Or just what they want to share again because it's WORTH SHARING AGAIN!   And I love that!!     Because usually you are reading someone  whose cooking and recipes  or book tastes  you love---so it's fun to find something new from them.
I really love it.

So I went back to my blog a year ago today and guess what I found?  Library Books...I posted what library books I got.   (not to say that I don't love the meme Library Loot, I just am not doing it anymore)
Also, what is outside my kitchen window.  Well, its the same EXACT thing that's outside my kitchen window right now.  Go take a look.
And now, this blog post....if I brought it up a year from now, it would be, well, nothing.

I need to make up my mind!   Books or Food?!  Cooking or Reading?!    I'm going to grab a warm chocolate cookie and my book and give this some thought.

Books and Food

Fried Spaghetti





Yesterday afternoon I finished  the book Dead Irish by John Lescroart.  It was not my favorite.  I read it because, I like mystery or suspense series with recurring characters and my friend Barb suggested this author and this series. She really likes the main character, Dismas Hardy.  I didn't dislike him, but the book didn't keep my interest all that much.  To be fair, tho, I will give the 2nd book in the series a try.  Maybe it's like someone you meet and you're not sure you really like them and then once you get to know them, they turn out to be your best friend.
So, yes, I'll give John Lescroart a 2nd try.  I'll let you know how that one goes---when I get to it.
And now I'm in the beginning of Jodi Picoult's "Sing You Home."   I know it's had mixed reviews, but I'm enjoying the beginning.  I love the idea of music therapy.  I love the line--Every life has a soundtrack--because I've always believed that.

So, you know what I'm reading, now what am I eating?

My cousin Linda makes a dish she calls Fried Spaghetti.  It is different from most friend spaghetti recipes I've seen tho.   She fries bacon and onions and peppers  to add to the spaghetti.  Kind of like a pasta primevera but with crispy fried bacon added.  And sometimes I add zucchini and mushrooms too.
It's really quite good. We like the bacon ---I mean a person can add bacon to anything and it's instantly better, right?
Bacon and eggs tho---they go together like Barbie and Ken.  Like Anthony and Cleopatra.  Like  Bonnie and Clyde.  (I could go on...... but I won't)

I have a Cooks Illustrated magazine from last fall (2010) called Italian Favorites and in it there is a recipe for  Spaghetti with Fried Eggs.



Are you following me?  I thought....why couldn't I combine the two and make Fried Spaghetti with Fried Eggs.
It made sense in my mind, so I tried it.
The Handyman liked it a lot.  I did too.   I think you should try it sometime to see if you do too.
I might make the original recipe sometime to see if it's just as good---and I'm sure it is, as it's known as a Salerno-style pasta dish, and is very common in Naples, Italy.
But for my rendition we really liked the warm egg yolk dripping down into the pasta.



Fried Spaghetti with Egg

1/2 pound spaghetti
1/2 pound bacon --chopped
1/2 lg onion-- chopped
1/2 green bell pepper--chopped
1/2 red bell pepper--chopped
1 cup mushrooms--sliced
minced garlic --optional
red pepper flakes--optional
Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
4 fried eggs

Cook spaghetti as usual, drain, set aside.  (save pasta water)

Fry bacon in large skillet for a few minutes, add other ingredients  (except Parmesan cheese) and cook until bacon is crisp. Drain off grease. 
Put spaghetti into the skillet with other ingredients, stir and cook for 3-4 minutes.  (add pasta water if you think the spaghetti is too dry)

Take a skillet and heat. Add 2 Tbs oil and swirl to coat pan. Crack two eggs each into 2 separate bowls, then add eggs to pan, sliding then into hot skillet simultaneously from opposite sides of the pan  (so your white dont' spread too much)  Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook until whites are set but yolks are still runny--2 to 3 minutes.  Uncover and remove from heat.

Put the spaghetti onto individual serving plates and top with a fried egg or two.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

It's Monday What are you Reading? and Musing Mondays


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.








This week, I read Room by Emma Donoghue. 
I really enjoyed the book.  It wasn't a read for a book club, so I didn't really get anyone's take on it, except my daughter-in-law, who read it for her on-line book club.  She said that  people in her book club had some issues with the character, Ma.  They thought she was selfish and horrible--especially after they escaped  (sorry, spoiler alert)  She and I both found that interesting as that wasn't what we got out of it. 

My daughter in law said "  I however thought they were missing the point that this was a woman who had been locked up and raped almost nightly for 7 years. She held it all together for a long time and then I think she reached her breaking point after the interview and the questions about if she was selfish keeping her son."

and

"I was just surprised at how shallow and surface level they were being about the realities as presented in the book. They seemed to forget that a "ma" was more than a mom and prior to becoming a mom by her rapist she was kidnapped raped, beat, lost a child etc. "

I think maybe because we heard the story thru Jack's voice, people did tend to forget all those horrific things Ma must have gone thru daily.

I'm interested in what YOU think if you read the book?  Were you or others you know  bothered by Ma's actions outside of "Room?"




I also started and finished  "Dead as A Doornail", a Sookie Stackhouse book by Charlaine Harris.  It was the 5th book in the series.   They are just a nice light read for me.  Although in this book,  not 5, but 6 men all lusted after Sookie. 
You know...that happens so much in my life, that it gets old in books.  (that was sarcasm)  It seemed a bit over the top.  But for the most part I love to pass the day away with a Sookie Stackhouse book.








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

Musing Mondays is brought to us by Miz B at Should be Reading.

This week’s musing asks…



What book(s) are you most excited about right now? (it can either be something you’re currently reading, or something you just bought, or a book/books that are soon to be published).


Well, I'm very excited to read Jodi Picoult's new book,  "Sing You Home" for lots of different reasons. I just started  it tonight.  And then a book called "Dead Irish" which is an older book (1989) by John Lescroart.  It's a  mystery/suspense, and the beginning of a character series.  The Handyman (my husband)  and I are going to read it at the same time.
The bad part about that?  I'll be done in 2-3 days and it will take him 2-3 weeks.  I want to discuss it with him--so maybe I'll let him start.

Peanut Salsa for Cookbook Sundays



Yes, you read that correct--Peanut Salsa---DON'T click off this post just because you think it sounds funny.
Trust me.

I found this recipe in an annual Taste of Home cookbook.  The Taste of Home recipes have been tried and tested and found worthy before they are printed and sent to me.  So, if you don't trust me....if the sound of Peanut Salsa turns you off....at least trust Taste of  Home.



Okay.  Are  we good now?

Last week I was going to a little wine tasting party.  We participate in this once a month and it's always a  lot of fun.  If you attend, you bring a bottle of wine and an appetizer.  Believe it or not, sometimes the appetizer is harder to choose than the wine.  I knew it was getting close to the monthly Cookbook Sundays hosted by Brenda's Canadian Kitchen, so I grabbed one of my seldom used (and never for Cookbook Sundays or my own  Cookbook Countdown ) cookbooks and started looking for a good and unique appetizer.
I found it in--Peanut Salsa.  The second recommendation  (the first being in a Taste of Home) was that not 1, not 2, but 3 people asked me for this recipe.  I think that means it's a hit.
It had a really unique flavor, we liked it very much.

Before you go on to read the recipe, just let me tell you one more thing...which is that in a Plains (Georgia) Peanut Festival, former President Jimmy Carter gave first place to this salsa.  That's right--FIRST PLACE.
So, just try it.  You'll like it.


Georgia Peanut Salsa
from the  2008 Taste of Home Annual Recipes
Lane McCloud-Siloam Springs, Arkansas

3 plum tomatoes seeded and chopped
1 jar (8oz ) picante sauce  (I doubled this)
1 can white corn, drained
1/3 cup Italian salad dressing
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
4 green onions, sliced thinly
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 cups salted roasted peanuts OR boiled peanuts  (I used salted-roasted)
hot pepper sauce -optional
Tortilla chips

In a large bowl, combine the first nine ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
Just before serving, stir in peanuts and pepper sauce if desired. 
Serve with tortilla chips.

It's really quite good!




Saturday, March 5, 2011

Snapshot Saturday

I live in the high desert, in Nevada.

Here's the thing about  the desert....it's really different than people think it is.
It's not just flat and sand. If you are driving thru the state, you probably think...'oh my gosh...it's so....dry and barren and... (say it--I won't get mad.) ugly'.
But it's not.  One just has to get off the beaten path  (or interstate 80 as the case may be)  and there are so many surprises to be found.  There is beauty in the desert.  You just have to have the eyes to look for it. 

A few weeks ago,  I did  a Snapshot Saturday of  a dry lake bed here, which is maybe what people think of when they think of a desert,  but if you head in a different direction, just a few miles you can see this....



Of course a few miles in the west is different than a few miles in the east.
This is probably  60-70 miles --as the crow flies---from the dry lake bed.

I am joining up with  Alyce from At Home With Books for her fabulous Snapshot Saturday!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fear

March is Women's History Month!  And for that reason I thought I'd share something about women, written by a woman.
I guess I could say I have a guest blogger...my daughter-in-law, Sadie.
I stole this post from her blog--I asked her first of course, but I liked the theme of her post.  Women and fear.  Are you ever afraid? 

I use to walk a lot.  I walked early in the morning, sometimes alone and sometimes with another female friend.  I always comforted myself with the thought that  'bad guys' were not awake at 5:30am in residential neighborhoods.  And I live in a small town.

I know I am deceiving myself.

My daughter-in-law Sadie Stone is the Director of Children and Youth Ministry at the First Methodist Church in Reno, NV
Here was her 'thought' the other day.....

One of the thing that constantly strikes me is the level of innate fear present in the majority of women that men never think twice about. (Stick with me I have a point). On Tuesday nights I have youth group with my middle school and high school students. We end officially at 8:30 but sometimes due to talking, cleaning up etc. We all leave closer to nine. Add to the equation that we are a downtown church in the middle of casinos, bars, homelessness etc. Being out at night can sometimes be unnerving.



As such I always inquire where my high schoolers parked and then if necessary accompany them to their vehicles. When I ask my male high school seniors, they roll their eyes and often respond with a sarcastic tone, "I'm fine I'm a big boy." Where as when I ask my girls they automatically understand and appreciate my concern and respond, "We parked right out front, we drove with each other so we've got each others back." They get it. As females their concern is different and it's heightened.


On Tuesday night as I accompanied two of my senior high girls to their car there was a homeless man standing right at the entrance of our church. He tried to approach the girls and started talking to them, but they both quickly kept walking and got into their car. I then headed back to the building (behind locked doors) and asked the man if he needed something. He claimed he didn't and I went back in to finish shutting of the lights and gathering my belongings.


Then I faced my own dilemma. How did I get to my car safely? I peaked through the window and saw that he was still standing there. So I waited several minutes hoping he would leave, and looked again. He was still there. At one point I stuck my head out the door and said, "hello" and then popped back inside. (I was hoping he was gone).


At this point I called Marcus and asked him if he thought I was being a baby because I was going to call the non-emergency police line and have them escort the man off the property/escort me to my car. Marcus told me to do what I needed to do so I punched the number in my cell phone and as I was headed out I ran into one of our custodians who lives upstairs in the church's apartment.


I was hugely relieved and asked if he would stand at the door as I walked to my car. He was thoroughly confused by my request not understanding what the issue was. It's not as though I expected him to do anything per say but often just the presence of another person will deter someone.


In the end all was well, but it got me thinking once again about a conversation I had with Marcus after I returned home from my summer studying in Spain.


I simply asked him, "When you walk down the street, or are in a parking lot by yourself to you feel afraid. Do you fear for your safety?" His response was a simple shrug and, "not really."


I then explained to him that I, and most of the women I have had this conversation with do. When I walk outside alone, mostly at night I have an overlying level of fear. In Spain this was one of the most challenging aspects. We were placed with host families in various neighborhoods in the city of Seville. Therefore, we were spread all over the city.


I lived in the same neighborhood as two of my closest friends in Spain and so we always walked each other home. The issue was that I lived the farthest away. The other two never arrived at their apartments alone, but as I dropped them off I was left to walk the remaining four blocks by myself and it was deeply unsettling, and my friends felt the same way. We always departed with the simple request, "Text me when you get home."


It was an unspoken understanding and we wanted confirmation about ones safety. It was late often past 10 (this is the nature of Spanish culture). I was alone and we were in residential neighborhoods far away from where any large groups of people would be. During these four blocks home I walked as swiftly as I could, I intentionally carried little with me, if I saw a couple or even better a family I awkwardly tagged along with them, and I often crossed back and forth across the street depending on who was on the other side. Often a single male walking alone triggered a need to cross the street (not always some were more menacing than others). Keep in mind this is also the same city where men frequently whistled, grabbed, made comments, and one guy even ran up and licked my face (although that was not the norm clearly) all in the daylight so at night I felt even more vulnerable.


On one of our last nights in Spain a group of us went to the Bull Fights which ended a little after midnight. We then all went our ways to our various neighborhoods. This evening there was a group of about 6 of us walking in the same direction and finally it was just me and one other guy from the program. He lived a couple blocks away from me.


I was grateful that for once I would have someone accompany me all the way home, especially since it was later than usual. Yet, we reached the road where he turned left and I turned right and he looked at me and said, "see you tomorrow" and walked away.


He obviously had none of the same concerns about walking home alone at night and he seemed oblivious to the fact that walking two extra blocks to get me home would have eased a great deal of tension.


As an adult male he simply wasn't concerned and it didn't occur to him that I might be. Much like Marcus had never really thought about it. After explaining all of this to Marcus I made him promise that should he ever be in a situation where he can walk someone a few extra blocks home (especially a female) just do it.


It sucks that so many women exist with an overarching sense of fear. A fear that my friends and I didn't even have to communicate with each other we simply felt it and knew.


There's a really incredible monologue that's part of Eve Ensler's collection A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and a Prayer that so fully speaks to this fear. (I'll have to look it up when I get the chance).


I think I'll be having a larger discussion with the youth group about this very thing. Especially since so many of them are off to college next year. A talk about safety, a talk with the guys who roll their eyes at my concern, and a talk about why we feel this way and what we can do to combat it. Women should not have to exist with fear.
****************************************************************************

Thanks Sadie for letting me steal your post!

Are there times when you might feel afraid in a situation because of your sex?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sour Beef: are you a fan or not?

I am a suggestive eater.  Wait....that doesn't sound quite right.  Let me try again...... I'm a suggestive cooker?  No, not that either, altho, I do have the cookbook Cooking in the Nude by Debbie and Steve Cornwell.  I've never actually used it.  It was a gift from someone.  Possibly the Handyman.
......I am often swayed, by books I've read, to make certain food dishes.  Food dishes?  Recipes?

Last week, when I read  The Sugar House by Laura Lippman, a Tess Monaghan book,  the characters went to a festival and had Sour Beef.    They were all looking forward to it.  Tess was even going to ask for an extra dumpling!



Most of the Tess Monaghan books take place in Baltimore, Maryland.  I love learning about Baltimore thru the Tess Monaghan books.  I am wondering tho,   is Sour Beef a local favorite of Baltimorians?  (or however you refer to yourselves). Or perhaps a favorite of author Laura Lippman, so she incorporated it into her book?

I couldn't get it out of my mind.  Sour Beef.   Sour Beef.

All the characters LOVED it.    I Googled it. 

It's pretty much another name for Sauerbraten, the German pot roast which is marinated in vinegars and spices, and some recipes use gingersnap cookies in them.


Since I couldn't get it out of my mind, I  knew I had to make it.  (this happens quite often when I am reading a book, just ask my family.  Sometimes it turns out great!  Sometimes not)
It was our Sunday dinner.  Mmmmm...Sour Beef.   We would be enjoying it just as Tess and Crow had in the  Sugar House.
Except for one thing.  We didn't  enjoy it.



Please, please don't take offense all you from Baltimore  (I still love Baltimore), it's just that this recipe was ----well, it was REALLY sour.  And it kind of ruined the roast for us.  Maybe it's an acquired taste.
To be fair, I would try Sour Beef or  Sauerbraten again--at a festival or restaurant where their specialty is German food, but I'll never make it again at home.  It just wasn't good.  At least how it turned out for me.

WAIT--I might have spoke too soon.  I just remembered a German Pot Roast recipe that my grandfather wrote down for me.  And I just went and looked it up.   Ooohhhhh.....I should do a contrast and compare between the two.
This one is different tho, it only has 3 T. of vinegar and the sour beef had cups.  CUPS of vinegar--red wine vinegar--but still.....
I'll get back to you on that one.

But for now.....just in case I am wrong  (it's been known to happen)




Baltimore-Style Sour Beef and Dumplings
adapted from Coconut and Lime, a food blog.

Marinade
1 3/4 cups red wine vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 onions sliced
2 carrots sliced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp whole allspice
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 whole cloves
2 tbsp  black peppercorns
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt

3 1/2 pound beef round roast

24 hours before your meal,  make the marinade in a non-reactive bowl and place the roast in it.
The next day:
remove roast from marinade and pour the marinade into a slow cooker.  In a large skillet, quickly brown all sides of the meat in  canola oil. Add the meat to the slow cooker and turn on low for about 8 hours.

Potato Dumplings

4 cups plain mashed potatoes made from peeled red potatoes.
flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 egg
salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  In a bowl combine the cooled mashed potatoes, salt and egg. Stir in the baking powder and add the flour in 1/2 cup increments until it resembles a dough and the mixture holds its shape when molded  (roughly 3 cups).  Form into 2 to 4" balls.  Drop them into the water.  They should sink, then rise to the surface when cooked through. Set aside.

During the  last 1/2 hour of cooking time, skim off any visible fat that may have risen to the top of the slow cooker.
Add 8 crushed gingersnaps and turn the heat to high.
After the time is up, shred the meat with a fork or break it into pieces.

Serve hot with dumplings on the side.

(sigh) for the sake of full disclosure....I had no red wine vinegar, so I used white wine vinegar and red wine mixed together. I didn't think there could be that much difference, but maybe there was. According to ask.com it says I can interchange them if...if...if I want to die!

Food.com says that white wine vinegar is more tangy. Maybe that was my problem. I shouldn't have substituted.
As I said....to be fair, I would try Sour Beef again--made from a qualified Sour Beef maker!

My Big Backyard (on Thursday instead of Wednesday)

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 ea...