Monday, March 25, 2013

Brunch Puffs


Easter is coming up fast, and if you do a big Easter breakfast or brunch at your house, these eggs are  the  perfect thing!

It's  not so much that these scrambled eggs inside a cream puff are any more tasty than your own scrambled eggs, but presented inside a cream puff just makes them a little bit more special.  And together, everything tastes great. 
I even want to have company for breakfast!  And that's saying something, because I like my 'alone time' in the morning, but these are worth showing off.

I found this recipe in  The "Taste of Home"  Spring's Best magazine--found at a friendly grocery store near you--and bookmarked a bunch of recipes to try.  This was the first one, so we're off to a good start.



As I said, you can very well use your own scrambled egg recipe if you want to, but add some cheese or something.  Ham, bacon, sausage?
You could really use whatever you want.

Here's what they suggest:

Brunch Puffs
Judy Gochenour, Logan UT via Taste of Home

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs

In a large saucepan, bring water, butter and salt to a boil.  Add flour all at once and stir until a smooth ball forms.  Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg.  Beat until mixture is smooth and shiny.
I 'beat' by hand---doesn't everyone when making cream puffs?

Drop by 1/4 cupfuls, 2 inches apart onto a greased baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes or until light golden brown.  Transfer to a wire rack.   Split puffs open and discard the tops.   Set aside.

1/2 cup green pepper (or red, or both) chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used purple)
1 T. butter
8 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup chopped fully cooked ham
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large skillet, saute peppers and onion in butter until tender.  In a medium bowl, beat eggs, salt and pepper.  Add to skillet, stirring over medium heat until almost done.  Add ham and cheese, stir until eggs are set.
Spoon into puffs.  Serve immediately.




Enjoy your Easter!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday Snapshot




BEST BOOK CLUB EVER!  It happened last night.  I think I say that every time my "Lit Wit's" get together.  But it always seems to be that way.

Last night, we had a interesting evening--we didn't discuss the book. (sigh)

Our book was/is  "Flight Behavior" by Barbara Kingsolver---it's just that no one finished it (except me), so we decided to discuss 2 books next month.

Once that decision was made we ate supper (it's a dinner/book club) and opened some wine, had an after dinner cocktail, talked about what other books we were  all reading,  opened another bottle of wine, talked about what books we are excited about or have heard about, had another cocktail.
It got later and later and we were having the best time.
Then for some reason my friends....my best friends...were teasing me!  I guess when I was telling them about the Botanical Gardens in Phoenix--I used body language and made like a saguaro cactus.
Here  are some of them----making like me doing a saguaro cactus.   
It couldn't have had anything to do with the wine, could it?
(I love these people!)  (even if they were giving me a bad time)

PS  It really was the Best Book club night ever!!

I am linking to Saturday Snapshot, a meme hosted by Alyce from At Home With Books.



To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Booking Thru Thursday


Today's Booking Thru Thursday question is:
Happy Spring Equinox, everyone! What book are YOU choosing to celebrate with?


I will be celebrating by finishing up "Mudbound" and starting  "The Lacuna" for book club  next Wednesday.  Although I did find out that the Spring Equinox is also  World Storytelling Day, so that's kind of exciting news. 

I don't know if Oral Storytelling is the same as Reading Aloud, but I  love to read aloud to people.  My grandchildren mostly.  They appreciate me--their grandfather does not so much.  Years ago--28 or 30, I took a community college course on Reading Aloud, and I practiced on the Handyman.  I would read aloud in the car when we were traveling (we traveled far and wide--Nevada is big state ~grins~), this was before Books on Tape were wildly popular. Anyway, one time he laughed at me.  Because I was trying out different voices for the different characters.  It was what we were supposed to do!  He just didn't get it.

I listen to  'oral' stories or books almost every day when I walk.  I have books downloaded onto my iPod.  I love it.  I have no music on my Ipod.  I listen to books on my Ipod when I have to drive anywhere also (which is really weird, because I love music, but that's a story for another time)---it syncs to my car radio.

So...
Spring Equinox
World storytelling Day
Reading Aloud
Listening to oral reading aloud while walking
segues into:

my vent about walking shoes!  Right? 
I have always been walker.  (not to be confused with AMC's the Walking Dead) Sometimes a better walker, loyal to a program and to exercise, sometimes not so much.  But I just signed up for  Wendy Bumgardner's  Aboutwalking.com,  70 days to a better me, walking program.
I've been very dedicated this past week.  It really feels great to be out there  walking again.  Mentally and Emotionally great, not to mention physically.

I had to laugh at this article (from Wendy Bumgardner) this morning on walking shoes.
These are the kinds:
Motion Control Shoes (MC)
Lightweight Performance Training Shoes for Neutral Feet

Stability Shoes
Cushioned Shoes

Racing Flats

Race Walker Shoes

Lightweight Hiking and Trail Shoes



There are a few more types, but they really get  into heavier hiking types. So, I thought I would  buy myself some new shoes, and I was thinking I might need the Cushioned Shoes, because I have bad arches, flat feet and the word chusioned?  Just sounds so comfortable. Well, when I read the descriptions this is what best fits me: (the motion control shoes) Motion control shoes are the most rigid shoes. They are designed to be inflexible because they are meant to limit overpronation. They are generally heavy, but durable. Many are built upon a straight last, and may have a dual density midsole, with the denser material on the inside of the foot to help correct for pronation. Primarily, motion control shoes are for over-pronators and heavier people. Often people with flat feet do well in these shoes. The problem with most motion control shoes is that they tend to have a thick heel which makes walking in them the same as walking uphill with every step.   TWO THINGS! often people who are heavier do well in these shoes?!!!  And people with flat feet. I admitted the flat feet!! Can't I have some dignity here? Do I have to admit that I need to lose a (more than) few pounds. (sigh) How dare they!   This is my show... a motion control shoe.  (and it looks exactly like the shoe I wore this morning)  
Happy Spring Equinox!
Happy Reading aloud or listening Aloud!
and Happy Walking!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Refried Beans







I've been wanting to try these beans since Christmas time, when we had them at our son's house and I finally did it the other day.   I wonder now why I waited so long to do so.
Our wonderful holiday dinner was made by my daughter-in-law's mother, and it was a traditional Mexican Christmas  Eve feast.   Tamales, refried beans, and corn salad (except the corn was hot and spicy). The meal was To DIE FOR!!   On Christmas day we had Posole...and leftover  tamales, refried beans and corn.

Maxine does not speak English and I do not speak Spanish---but we've had many good times together at family gatherings and vacations.  (grandchildren make a common language)
This time, I stood by her side watching her cook--and trying to take notes at the same time.

These were THE BEST refried beans--special refried beans-- filled with cheese and peppers and all kinds of goodness.  I hope you try them because I know you'll like them.



Refried Beans

1 lb dried pinto beans
1 lb Mexican chorizo
1-2 chipotle peppers
1-2 jalapeno peppers
salsa ranchero
cheddar cheese
Monterrey jack cheese

Cook the beans.  Then blend in a blender untill  as smooth as you would like them to be.

Add a chipotle pepper and a a jalapeno pepper and blend in.  (this is totally to taste.  The chipotle pepper has a strong smokey flavor, so you don't want to over do that one---I used more jalapenos than chipotles)

Fry the chorizo and add the salsa ranchero  (this too, is to taste.  I wouldn't use a lot, or maybe I would skip this altogether and just add another jalapeno. It's really up to you--but I would never skip the chorizo)

Add the beans to the chorizo and stir together.  Add shredded cheese.  There is no  measurement, because you just keep adding cheese until it is the texture and taste you like.  (we added  about a  cup of each)

The beans will have a smoky, spicy, taste and they are SO GOOD.   They can be a side dish for any Mexican meal.

Enjoy!

Monday, March 18, 2013

It's Monday...What are you Reading?


What am I reading?   Sheila from Book Journey asks this question every Monday, in her   "It's Monday, What are  you Reading" meme.

I am having trouble this week---or I am IN trouble this week.
I have been chosen as a book giver for World Book Night, and I chose the book "Mudbound" by Hillary Jordan.  Then a few days after I was chosen my daughter-in-law informed me that I was supposed to choose a book I had already read and wanted to share.   HA!  Oops.  (please don't tell on me), because,
I'm reading it now!!

So, for this week:

Mudbound---I just started it and I'm loving it. So, I will have no problem sharing my love of  this book.

Goodreads says:
In Jordan's prize-winning debut, prejudice takes many forms, both subtle and brutal. It is 1946, and city-bred Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband's Mississippi Delta farm--a place she finds foreign and frightening. In the midst of the family's struggles, two young men return from the war to work the land. Jamie McAllan, Laura's brother-in-law, is everything her husband is not--charming, handsome, and haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, has come home with the shine of a war hero. But no matter his bravery in defense of his country, he is still considered less than a man in the Jim Crow South. It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives this powerful novel to its inexorable conclusion.


The men and women of each family relate their versions of events and we are drawn into their lives as they become players in a tragedy on the grandest scale. As Kingsolver says of Hillary Jordan, "Her characters walked straight out of 1940s Mississippi and into the part of my brain where sympathy and anger and love reside, leaving my heart racing. They are with me still."    
  I am doing a monthly read-along with Jill at Fizzy Thoughts, and we are doing the classic,  "Little Women".  (anyone can do this read along---just check out her blog).   I have read Little Women  2 or 3 times in the past, so why---WHY is it such a struggle this time?  I always thought I loved the book.  But...I.  Am. Struggling.  Ugh.   I don't know what to say about it.  But I'll carry on.  (I'll start to feel the feeling again, won't I?  Or have I gone beyond wanting to be Jo?  Loving sweet little sickly Beth and annoying Amy? ) Stay tuned.      
I am listening to  Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingslover.  Just listened this morning on my walk.  And rudely the Handyman wanted to talk to me.  He never wants to talk when we walk in the morning.  We roll out of bed and just walk.  We talk later. Anyway---I am loving this audio book.  It's a great story and I'm almost done.  I'll need another audio book soon.   from Goodreads: Flight Behavior is a brilliant and suspenseful novel set in present day Appalachia; a breathtaking parable of catastrophe and denial that explores how the complexities we inevitably encounter in life lead us to believe in our particular chosen truths. Kingsolver's riveting story concerns a young wife and mother on a failing farm in rural Tennessee who experiences something she cannot explain, and how her discovery energizes various competing factions—religious leaders, climate scientists, environmentalists, politicians—trapping her in the center of the conflict and ultimately opening up her world. Flight Behavior is arguably Kingsolver's must thrilling and accessible novel to date, and like so many other of her acclaimed works, represents contemporary American fiction at its finest        
For my library book club I am supposed to be reading this,  The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani.  I love her. She's funny and smart and a great writer.  Everyone loves her.  Everyone had glowing reviews for this book--at least the people whose opinions I trust.  So.... I am feeling badly that it is just  so-so for me. I hope it's just  my mood, because I so want to love this one.   from Goodreads: The majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, who meet as teenagers, despite growing up in villages just a few miles apart. At the turn of the last century, when Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished from his village and sent to hide in America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy. Without explanation, he leaves a bereft Enza behind. Soon, Enza's family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future.

Unbeknownst to one another, they both build fledgling lives in America, Ciro masters shoe making and Enza takes a factory job in Hoboken until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I and Enza, determined to forge a life without him, begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House that will sweep her into the glamorous salons of Manhattan and into the life of the international singing sensation, Enrico Caruso.

From the stately mansions of Carnegie Hill, to the cobblestone streets of Little Italy, over the perilous cliffs of northern Italy, to the white-capped lakes of northern Minnesota, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until, finally, the power of their love changes both of their lives forever.

Lush and evocative, told in tantalizing detail and enriched with lovable, unforgettable characters, The Shoemaker's Wife is a portrait of the times, the places and the people who defined the immigrant experience, claiming their portion of the American dream with ambition and resolve, cutting it to fit their needs like the finest Italian silk.

This riveting historical epic of love and family, war and loss, risk and destiny is the novel Adriana Trigiani was born to write, one inspired by her own family history and the love of tradition that has propelled her body of bestselling novels to international acclaim. Like Lucia, Lucia, The Shoemaker's Wife defines an era with clarity and splendor, with operatic scope and a vivid cast of characters who will live on in the imaginations of readers for years to come


So, in the midst of my needing to read and finish up all 4 of these great books---what do I do?  I pick up the Newberry Award Book  "When You Reach Me" by Rebecca Stead yesterday afternoon.
It's very good.  I know I'll finish this one first!

From Goodreads:
Winner of the 2010 John Newbery Medal


Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever.

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper:

I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.

I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.

The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late


And that is what I'm reading this week.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Irish Coffee



Happy St. Patrick's Day!

So,the Handyman isn't a big fan of corned beef and cabbage, but Irish Coffee?
You betcha!

A disclaimer:  I don't know if Bushmills is a 'good' Irish Whiskey or not,   I just grabbed the first thing I saw that said "Irish".
The coffee was good, I do have to admit.
Flavored, not only with whiskey, but also some  creme de menthe flavored whipped cream.  Yum.




Irish Coffee
Taste of Home Test Kitchen

Divide 2 tsp. sugar and 2 oz Irish Whiskey between two mugs; stir in 2 cups hot coffee.  In a small bowl whip 1/4 cup heavy cream and 1 tsp creme de menthe until thickened.   Gently spoon onto tops of drinks allowing cream to float.
Serve immediately. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saturday Snapshot

More pictures from my walk in the Phoenix Botanical Gardens.  It was gorgeous...and the weather was perfect.

They sponsor a concert series in the spring, which I would LOVE, and some children's programs  (which I am hoping my son and his family take advantage of, since I talked them into become members of the gardens), among many, many other things.  I'm going back the next time I visit---in the fall.

We came upon sculptures by another artist (the first artist was in last week's Saturday Snaptshot)  during our walk...Philip Haas.
The Four Seasons  are four monumental, earthy and exuberant sculptures that will delight your eyes.  ( taken straight from the pamphlet ) My son Luke said he felt as if he were in the Lord of the Rings movie and they would come to life and start walking at any moment.  

I am linking up with Alyce from At Home With Books, and her Saturday Snapshot meme.











Friday, March 15, 2013

Walking and Books


I signed up for the  "Walk of Life" program, and today is day #2.  My legs hurt.
(* humble admission that I am very out of shape)

We live in a very hilly area--you can't walk from our house without going  uphill or downhill. There is no flat area to walk.  But that's a good thing, right?
Before  you know it, I won't be huffing and puffing the whole time.  
(*another humble admission, that every spring starts out with me huffing and puffing and then by summer's end, it's an easy walk for me.  It's the below freezing temps that keep me inside during the winter)

But the Walk of Life is different.  I have to  'make a life change'  and 'eat healthy'  (sigh).  It's 70 days to a better me.  (I'll keep you updated.)

One thing I can tell you--day 2 of walking is a better me.  It puts me in a great frame of mind. 
So....WHY do I ever stop?  Activity  (walking for me)  is so good for your  mind.  

Another added benefit?  I get to listen to a book on my iPod. 
Woo hoo!  

Right now I'm listening to  "Flight Behavior" by Barbara Kingsolver.







I'm finding it very interesting.  She narrates the book herself, and I had read a couple of reviews that said, while she is a great writer, she should leave the narration to someone more professional.
While she's not the best I've ever heard,   she certainly isn't bad. 
Flight Behavior is also my  Lit Wits Book club has chosen for March.  I can't wait!  It will be an interesting discussion. 

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:
Flight Behavior is a brilliant and suspenseful novel set in present day Appalachia; a breathtaking parable of catastrophe and denial that explores how the complexities we inevitably encounter in life lead us to believe in our particular chosen truths. Kingsolver's riveting story concerns a young wife and mother on a failing farm in rural Tennessee who experiences something she cannot explain, and how her discovery energizes various competing factions—religious leaders, climate scientists, environmentalists, politicians—trapping her in the center of the conflict and ultimately opening up her world. Flight Behavior is arguably Kingsolver's must thrilling and accessible novel to date, and like so many other of her acclaimed works, represents contemporary American fiction at its finest

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Moody or not?



Today's "Booking Through Thursday" question is:  

Does your current mood affect your reading? Affect your choices? I know there are plenty of books I enjoy, but only if I'm in a particular kind of mood–or books that can lift me out of a bad mood without fail. Surely I’m not alone?



I am sure that my mood does affect my reading choices.  Like even tho, I love Stephen King, I have to be in the 'mood' to read him.  I have to be  'in the mood' to read Chick-Lit also, but I think the question is asking,  if you wake up in a melancholy mood, do you tend to choose a different kind of book  than if you'd woke up in a happy mood.
I'm sure the answer is  yes. But I can't see a pattern with me.  Because...I am always happy?  Well, more times than not, but everyone has 'moods'.  I am just not a moody person--usually.  (do not talk to my  husband and kids about this).

This doesn't particularly have to do with a 'mood', but when I was pregnant with my first son, 34 years ago,  I had just started "The Thornbirds"  (which was wildly popular and good and was made into a mini-series for TV), but I was so sick---SO SICK--with morning sickness, that every time I think of that book I hate it.  The thought of that book makes me want to puke. (sorry if that is too graphic).  I managed to make it thru to the end of the book, but  it was a horrible read for me.   I hate that book.

On the flip side, when my son was about  10, and  got really sick and had to be in bed for a few days,  I sat by his side and read "Dr. Doolittle" to him.  He loves that book and that is a good memory for him.

So, while those are not moods, I guess our choices of reading material can be influenced by lots of things going on with our lives.
Most of the time tho, a  book can take me away and make me feel better--just for having read it.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

To Err is Human

Yes,  to err is human....to forgive,  well, let's just hope we are all forgiven in the end. 

I was looking thru my posts and cleaning up some 'drafts' that I had and  lo and behold there is this 'draft' from my life last Labor Day Weekend!

I erred.   Enough said.
I never posted this, when I thought I had:



This was my surprise when I came home from being gone over Labor Day Weekend.  My middle son and his girlfriend ran off to the court house without me and got married.  Without her family too.   I think that's how they wanted it  (which is why they did it that way)

Congrats and welcome to this crazy family Jessica!!
Dustin and Jessica share an anniversary with our oldest son Jeff and his wife Tara.

Speaking of our oldest son---he and his family showed up, as we got home from our trip--to see our youngest son   (are you confused yet?)  that weekend.
So, how did we celebrate the marriage of  our 2nd to youngest/middle son  (very confused now??)  (so am I)
Well...  we walked up a hill!!   We are crazy like that!  Our celebrations?  The envy of others.



The Handyman,  sons Jeff and Dustin, Daughter-in-law Jessica and our grandsons  Hunter, Jorell and Camron,
getting ready to set off on the hike up the mountain.
This is actually a trail head in the high desert of Nevada.
Notice the big trees to shade ourselves in the 90+ degree weather.  
Notice the cloudy skies to shield the sun.
Notice ---how crazy we are.  I said that before



I am bringing up the rear.
It's only about a mile to the W.
But it's hot.
Do you remember my post about  Hillside letters in the west?


A fork in the road. 
(which is symbolic of the newlyweds--who are lagging behind---and they chose the  marriage fork)
(I am so philosophical)




I begin to lag behind.
And to be truthful....I don't see the Handyman either.  I just see the youngsters. 

Altho---Rich (Handyman) did make it to the W.
Anything for the grandkids!
I took lots of great pics. 

Happy Wedding Weekend Dustin and Jess!

Fish Tacos




I love eating at my son's house.  I love to taste 'real' Mexican food. Real home-cooked Mexican food.  It's so different from eating at a restaurant.  It's hard to explain, but it just is.
I spent the last week in Phoenix holding a new grandson,  playing with my 3-year old granddaugther and following my daughter-in-law around, eating what she was eating, tasting food she was making, snacks she was preparing, watching her every move in the kitchen,  and...
...watching Novellas on the Spanish channel.  (She told me the only way to learn to speak Spanish is immersion, so I watched  novellas (soap operas) with her on the Spanish Channel.  It was fun--but now I'm depressed as I had to leave before I knew the fate  Juan Carlos!!   DANG IT!!  ~grins~ )

Mara (my DIL) made fish tacos one night--(they were so awesome!!) (I just had to take  a photo)




And when I got home I made them for the Handyman--(I did a pretty good job I think, recreating a  home-cooked Mexican meal)
They look almost EXACTLY like her's, don't they?  They tasted pretty good too. So, it paid off , following her around like that!  (hopefully it didn't creep her out too much---having her mother in law looking over her shoulder all the time)





As I said,  I followed Mara closely around the kitchen and I hastily wrote this down in my notebook after we ate.   There is no formal recipe---you just do it.  She probably learned from watching her mom in the kitchen...the secret of many great home cooks.


Fish Tacos
Mara Stone
(as scribbled down by me)

Tilapia cut into strips--squirt with lime juice and sprinkle with lemon pepper and fish seasoning.
Dredge is seasoned flour  (lemon pepper and fish seasoning) and fry

cabbage
cilantro
fresh jalapeno
tomato

chop and mix together and add on top of fish in a warm corn tortilla, spread with Mexican sour cream.

avocado
jalapeno
cilantro
lime juice
salt

blend all together  (she did it in a blender and was a lot thinner, more like a sauce. It was really good.  Mine was more chunky)
Drizzle on top of the taco.
Squirt with lime and eat.
If you want you can add hot sauce.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Lazy Sunday Afternoons

You know...the nice thing about  late fall/winter/early spring are  the lazy Sundays. 
I LOVE Lazy Sunday afternoons!

Even if we did go to church, (which we did)  the afternoons are long and lazy.  Around here it's too cold to do much .....and I love the feeling of lazy Sundays.  Coffee cups and newspapers laying around,  maybe a movie in the afternoon, or a walk (because today the sun is shining and there are blue skies above), both of us reading books in big overstuffed chairs,  playing a game of cards together, baking, cooking,  wonderful kitchen smells.

Okay, I'm sounding kind of old.   Coffee cups and newspapers?  But it's true!   I don't feel the need to pick up on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Now in the summer, it's a different feel altogether.   I'm going to enjoy these last few  'winter' Sunday afternoons, because they be gone soon enough.

I am glad to see the time change ---even if it means losing an hour of sleep once a year.  We almost gained an hour tho.  The Handyman set our clocks BACK an hour before going to sleep instead of forward.   We are lucky to be early risers, and caught on real quick.

I had so much to say....or I thought I did, and now I can't think of anything.
Let's see...

I read  "A Good American" by Alex George while I was in Arizona.  It was a good book.

I am doing a read along this month---Little Women--with  Jill at Fizzy Thoughts.

I signed up to receive a newsletter (email) called "Bloggers Recommended"   ( Bloggers Recommend is the brainchild of veteran book bloggers Jen of Devourer of Books and Nicole of Linus’s    Blanket.)
It is pretty self explanatory  right?    I will receive an email that recommends great books by other bloggers.  (you can too---just check it out)

I just got back from Arizona where I visited my son and his family.
(we visited the Phoenix Botanical Gardens.  It was so beautiful!  Those are glass sculptures there.  The light green ones are Chihuly glass.)





The best words ever are  "Gramma, you are my best friend"
(I LOVE being a best friend)






The sweetest smell ever is:   (most of the time anyway)




I had a wonderful time.
It's  Fish tacos for supper tonight.   My daughter in law made them for me while I was down in Phoenix.  There were so good.   I hope I can recreate her meal.  It was Yum-MEE!!

On the way home this weekend (from the airport--we live  162 miles from an airport, and that many miles from a book store also)  , I made the Handyman stop at a bookstore.  I wasn't going to buy anything, (I have a HUGE TBR pile at home),  BUT- I had just read an essay from an author who prides himself on having always purchases something from every bookstore he's ever entered.  (my hero)  and when I told the  Handyman I wasn't going to get anything, he said "why not?"  (and he  KNOWS how big my TBR pile is!!)  So I felt obligated to buy a couple of books.
This is what I got this past week:




I'm going to go cook or read or maybe take a walk.  I'm crazy like that on lazy Sunday afternoons!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Saturday Snapshot



It's me---back from Arizona, and yes, I did make it to the Botanical Gardens.
As we walked thru the garden trails, we saw various sculptures by different artists.  It made for a very interesting little hike.

Here is a picture of a sculpture by Carolina Escobar.   

It looks so bizarre to me....this unique (I can't say weird, because it's all in the eye of the beholder ) sculpture of a...snail (?) in the middle of the Arizona desert.

I liked it, but it was so startling coming upon something like this as you are enjoying native plants and cactus.
I think this looks like an alien.





I am linking to At Home With Books and all the other bloggers who do a Saturday Snapshot.



I'll be back later with more pictures from my trip,  and a few thoughts on books.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pork and Beans



As you are reading this right now, I am really in  Phoenix, Arizona visiting my son and his family, and my newest grandson, Christopher.  And hopefully, we are at the Spring Butterfly Exhibit at the Phoenix Botanical Gardens, where a butterfly is sitting on my hand sipping nectar from a cup.
But because of the magic of modern technology,  I wrote this on Sunday afternoon and am  scheduling it to post on Thursday.

It is Thursday, isn't it?

On Thursday, I will be feeling a bit melancholy because I'll have to go home and leave my sweet little grandchildren behind.  BUT, I'll also be tired, I know. They have such energy, that I can't keep up.
We will have gone to the Bookstore, made cookies,  seen the butterflies, played endless games and I can't wait!

I'll be leaving my poor husband behind, where he will have to fend for himself for supper,except for the night he has these left over pork and beans.

Pork and Beans?  Well, kind of.  It is pork and there are beans....it's just not what came to your mind when  you read pork and beans, is it?  It is pork ribs--and beans.  (this dish might be good if you used pork chops too)
My friend Brenda, who used to have a food blog called 'Brenda's Canadian  Kitchen' posted this once and  we've enjoyed it many times since. 
It's an easy, crock-pot meal.  ( I'm vowing to use my crock-pot more often because last week  I had cold cereal two times for supper while the Handyman had some frozen burritos one night and a peanut butter sandwich the next. )  And it was good.  And very simple. I said that already, didn't I?  Easy, simple--they mean the same thing.
These are spicy and tender and the beans do not turn to mush, which is what I thought would happen the first time I made them.
The recipe says   to use  SMOKING HOT HABANERO sauce.  I cannot do that.  If you like tons of  'hot' spice, you really should use it because that is what the original recipes calls for.  While I like a teeny bit of spice, I usually have to temper it with the sweet, so I found a great  SWEET AND SPICY sauce that we love.  Just use your favorite.
This is a classic meat and beans dish.




Slow Cooked Smokin' Habanero Beans and Ribs      
Or.... just plain old Pork and Beans.
from Brenda's Canadian Kitchen

2 racks baby back pork ribs, about  3 lbs.
3 cups of PC Tequila Habanero BBQ Sauce  (or your favorite BBQ Sauce.  I used Sweet Baby Ray's Sweet and Spicy, because, I was afraid of the Habanero )
3 19oz cans white kidney beans or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

Cut rack of ribs into 2 or 3 rib pieces. Place in a bowl and toss with 1 cup of BBQ sauce.

In the bottom of a slow cooker, stir together rinsed and drained beans and 1 cup of BBQ sauce.  Place ribs on top of beans.  Pour the remaining 1 cup sauce over it all.

Cover, set slow cooker to HIGH and cook for 6 hours.  Mine are usually done just the way we like them at around 5.5 hours.

When done, transfer ribs to a serving platter, drain the beans in a colander, discarding liquid.


Enjoy!


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Carrot Cookies


These are a great little cookie that my friend Sally makes.  
She gave me the recipe with this note on top:

Remember---this recipe is 1960's Iowa.  You DO NOT have to use shortening.
When I brought these to church, I used a cream cheese frosting.

So..when I made them at home, I did use the shortening and used the orange butter icing.  I love the taste of orange in things.
I didn't really 'frost' them either, but rather, just dropped a spoonful of icing on top.  You can see the little orange zest flecks if you look close enough.  You can also see bits of carrot in the cookie that didn't get mashed well enough.

These cookies are so good---I love them.  They aren't that sweet,  kind of like a scone, but much more moist than that.  The carrots keep them moist and soft.  If you didn't frost them tho,  they aren't going to appease your sweet tooth. You  have to make them and frost them and get a book  (by the way,  A Good American is a really good read)  a cup of hot coffee,  and then bliss.
Either frosting you choose is good.  I first had these at church when Sally made them with a cream cheese frosting, but the original recipe comes with the butter orange icing, so whatever your choice is fine.





Carrot Cookies with Orange Butter Icing
1 cup shortening 
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup carrots, cooked and mashed
2 cups flour
2 eggs
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3/4 cups shredded coconut (optional)

Mix shortening, sugar, eggs and carrots. Blend in flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir in the coconut. 
Bake at 350F  for  8-10 minutes.
Cool and frost.

Orange Butter Icing
3 T. soft butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 t. grated orange peel 
1 T. orange juice

Blend the butter and powdered sugar. Stir in orange peel/zest and juice.  Beat until frosting is smooth and of spreading consistency.



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...