Monday, September 30, 2013

Musing Monday


What do you do when life gets in the way, and you just don’t have much time to read? Do you complain? Do you accept it? Do you do everything in your power to make time to read? Share your thoughts!



What do I do?  I quit blogging.  I am truly an introvert and when life gets too hectic  (and my job can be kind of hectic at times and I deal with people a lot) I just go into hermit mode when I can and curl up and read.

That's why I'm quiet on here (this blog) sometimes.  I just need to refuel.  On books. And quiet time.

(sigh) who am I kidding?  I  never have quiet time.  It's only in my dreams.


Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by  Should Be Reading.  You are welcome to join in.

It's Monday--again. (why do they keep coming around?)





Before I get to books...

Our weather has changed.  It went from being warm enough to turn the air-conditioner on for about an hour a day (to make it cool enough to be comfortable in the evening) to having a fire in our fireplace, in the space of one week.

I've been taking pictures of my backyard every Saturday, to see how the seasons change. We don't get a lot of color in the fall in Northern Nevada,  We go from hot, dry summer to brown, cold winters.
There is beauty in everything tho, right?

My back yard week #1




My back yard  week #7





When I put those weeks side by side, I see changes...not too many when I put up week by week on my backyard blog.






It's a fun weekly meme all about books we are reading or are going to read.
I always look to other book bloggers when I'm in the need of a good book, or just to keep up on the book trends, popular authors, subjects, etc.
You can check it out by going to Book Journey today!

What have I been reading?
Right now I'm reading 2 books and am loving them both,one fiction, one non-fiction.



I love coming of age books, and the era of the 1960's.
I just want to sit down and not do anything but read this book.  Housework be damned!
(that's okay, right?)

from Goodreads:
The year is 1968. The world is changing, and sixteen-year-old Jon Mosher is determined to change with it. Racked by guilt over his older brother’s childhood death and stuck in the dead-end town of Brewster, New York, he turns his rage into victories running track. Meanwhile, Ray Cappicciano, a rebel as gifted with his fists as Jon is with his feet, is trying to take care of his baby brother while staying out of the way of his abusive, ex-cop father. When Jon and Ray form a tight friendship, they find in each other everything they lack at home, but it’s not until Ray falls in love with beautiful, headstrong Karen Dorsey that the three friends begin to dream of breaking away from Brewster for good. Freedom, however, has its price. As forces beyond their control begin to bear down on them, Jon sets off on the race of his life—a race to redeem his past and save them all




History and literature are my two favorite subjects.
This book is so interesting!

from Goodreads:
In "To America," Stephen E. Ambrose, one of the country's most influential historians, reflects on his long career as an American historian and explains what an historian's job is all about. He celebrates America's spirit, which has carried us so far. He confronts its failures and struggles. As always in his much acclaimed work, Ambrose brings alive the men and women, famous and not, who have peopled our history and made the United States a model for the world.


I finished these 3 in the past week, and recommend them all:

Night Film by Marisha Pessl
A suspense filled mystery.  I really enjoyed it. We read it for book-club and it was highly discuss able.  Everyone liked it.

The  Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
A nice love story.  Not cheesy or chick-Lit-ish.  (Chick-lit is okay sometimes, but not my favorite, but this was not --it was a really nice story)

Battle Born by Claire Vaye Watkins
A book of short stories featuring Nevada.  Kind of weird, but still, it's my home.
(short stories are always weird for me.  They leave me lacking and I want to know more) But very well written and the settings were somewhat familiar.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Saturday Snapshot




Everyone has heard of Color Runs, right?  There are some pretty famous/popular ones out there... the biggies:  The Color Run, Color me Rad, Run or Dye.  They're huge organizations where thousands of people run.   They are tons of fun, they are for good causes...and they are pricey--very pricey when you want to bring them to a small town in the middle of nowhere, which is exactly where I live.
So, we did our own.   I work for the Chamber of Commerce and we just did our own.  Instead of thousands of runners, we had hundreds.  Almost 300 hundred.  Everything was downsized quite a bit---we just did what we thought would be good  (none of us had ever actually been to a color run).
It was a fun day.  You could do a 3k or a 5k, you could walk, you could run.  You could even skip if you wanted to.
At every  "K" there was a color station where you were splashed with color. It's a powdered corn starch with skin friendly dye in it.   We purchased it from the Hare Krishna's.  In Salt Lake City. (just in case you ever need some)

Here are some photos of our day  (and by the way, it was a great fundraiser for us--thanks community), which I am linking to Saturday Snapshot hosted by  West Metro Mommy Reads.

I took the pictures.  I carry my camera everywhere I go.  My camera got a little bit of residual color powder on it.  I tried to stay clean, but people kept hugging me.

Color the Mucc photos.  (We called it color the Mucc, because we live in the Mucc. WinneMUCCA.)   sigh... we are very clever that way.





















Friday, September 27, 2013

Tortilla Soup (Trisha Yearwood's)





Our weather has turned!   Last week, I had the air-conditioner on to cool the house down before we went to bed.
Last night the Handyman made a fire in the fireplace and we lounged around it, reading books, taking a cat nap before going to bed.  It was 57 in our house before the fire,  67 by the time we went to bed.  I have this thing about not needing heat before October! We can handle this for a few more days.  (maybe)

But to take the chill off  you should try this soup.
It's mmmm....mmmmm good!

Trisha Yearwood's Tortilla  Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 14oz cans chicken broth
  • 4 cups half-and-half (or low fat millk)
  • 1 cup prepared salsa
  • 4 chicken breasts (boneless skinless (already cooked))
  • 1 15oz can kidney beans
  • 1 15oz can black beans
  • 1 15oz can corn
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 package fajita seasoning
  • 1 15oz can cream of chicken soup

Directions

Step 1
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and the onion and saute until softened, 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir well, cooking for 1 minute more. Add the broth and the half-and-half. Stir in the cream of chicken soup, salsa, chicken, beans, corn, cumin and fajita seasoning. Continue to simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
Step 2
Crumble the tortilla chips into individual bowls and top with a ladle of soup. Sprinkle each serving with cheese and add a dollop of sour cream.





We liked it very much.  Maybe one of the top  Tortilla soups that I've had...and I usually liked  'fried' tortilla strips in it, not tortilla chips OR  'raw' tortilla strips.  But I liked the crunch of the chips with the cheese on top of this soup.



Saturday, September 7, 2013

Lemon Blueberry Muffins


If I had a  Bed and Breakfast, I would make these muffins every morning and put them in a basket for my guests.  Every.  Morning.

There is no lemon in the batter, just in the glaze and the sugar they were sprinkled with on top.  You have to like lemon to like these because it is a real intense lemon flavor at first, but then it's just a good old moist blueberry muffin burst in your mouth.
I guess you don't have to put the glaze and sugar coating on top, but....why wouldn't you want to?  Oh...you don't like lemons?  Well, then... just go on now and make something else, because these are great!   The lemon burst in your mouth is wonderful.

I found the recipe in  America's Test Kitchen "Best Baking Recipes" magazine and gave it a try this morning after our walk, while The Handyman fixed the cover on the patio, so it wouldn't leak.
Then we sat on the patio and enjoyed a couple of muffins and a cup of coffee.

If you look closely you can see the lemon glaze dripping down the side of the muffin and also the little flakes of lemon zest in the lemon sugar.



This recipe said it made a dozen but for me, it made 18 regular sized muffins. 
I had to give some to the neighbors, so we wouldn't eat them all.

Big Beautiful Muffins
from America's Test Kitchen magazine

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt
2 large eggs
1 stick melted and cooled butter
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries with 1 T flour.

1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Grease  12-cup muffin tin.

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk the yogurt and the eggs together until smooth. Gently fold the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined, then fold in the melted butter, then the blueberries.

Using a  prepared 1/3 cup measure, divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups.  Bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before glazing and serving.

Stir together  1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest i a small bowl.
Simmer 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan over med heat until syrupy--about 3 minutes.
Once the muffins have cooled, brush the tops with the lemon syrup and then dip them into the lemon sugar.



While I was taking pictures of my muffins, The Handyman was doing this:



putting flashing on the roof of our patio cover.   We like to sit out there when it rains....which it rarely does in Nevada,  BUT when it does, it downpours.  It's a cloudburst that makes flash floods in the desert and makes rivers of our downhill roads.  And it also floods our patio.
We had a cloudburst on Thursday.  It was amazing---thunder, lightning and a downpour like I can't even explain.


But they only last for about 15 minutes or 2o at the most...and then the clouds move on and we have blue sky again---as you can tell by this pic.  
Angry cloud moving on and blue skies in it's place.

I am doing this weird thing.  I am taking  picture of my yard every Saturday.  I'm going to do it for a year---just to see how it changes.
I used to have a 'backyard'  blog,  but I never did enough stuff  (gardening, etc) to really post, so I stopped.  Now I am posting  "a year in my backyard" there.
You can check it out every so often, when I mention it here.  Just click on the link.     (it's kind of boring really---nothing changes in 4 weeks )
But now I'm off to lay in the hammock and read a book out in the big backyard!  Not too many more Saturday afternoons of doing that.

Saturday Snapshot


I talk about Nevada a lot.   It's dry, it's dusty....but it's home.
Sometimes I talk about Washington State, where I grew up...on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.   It's home too.
And then once in a while I will throw in Oregon!  It's where my grandparents all lived, where my great grand-parents homesteaded in the late 1800's.
It's green!  There are trees.

We have a family cabin at Wallowa Lake in Northeast Oregon.
Sometimes we take a hike that takes us to this Totem Pole.
I've walked by this Totem Pole hundreds of times, so I thought, why not take picture for Saturday Snapshot.







Saturday Snapshot was started by Alyce of At Homes With Books and is hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy.  It’s easy to participate – just post a picture that was taken by you, a friend, or a family member and add your link on Melinda’s site.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Hatch Chili Green Chilie



A couple of weeks ago,  I was so excited to get my Hatch green chilies when they came in at our local market.   I made a great cheese, bacon and egg stuffed Hatch chili for breakfast one morning,  The Handyman made his famous  Hatch Green chili and grilled chicken tacos one evening, we roasted some and froze some and I also mad this great  Green Chili.

We love Green Chili. I first had it years ago, when a friend served me some canned Green Chili over Fritos.   It sounds weird, but it was good and I've loved all sorts of green chili every since.
She was from Wyoming, and I'm not sure of the brand, but I've never been able to find her  canned green chili since.  

I make a good green chili, which we love, but it is made with a jarred green chili sauce---kind of like a 'semi-homemade' version with fresh ingredients and packaged, so I thought since I had some fresh Hatch  Chilies, I would make my own homemade version of Green Chili.

I made a crock-pot version found on this website Latin O Foodie.  I haven't had time to check it out much, but there look like a lot of good Mexican/Tex-Mex inspired recipes on here.



The first time I tasted this--it was HOT*.  So I added some cubed potatoes in hopes that they would soak up all that hotness and just leave the goodness of the flavor.
We really liked the addition of the potatoes---it was more like a green chili stew.  And when I ate it, it really wasn't too hot.
Although you just have to  play around with that one,  All green chilies are alike in that sometimes they are mild and sometimes really hot.  
Taste and experiment is all you can do.

*I had trouble figuring out what tomatillo sauce was vs green chili salsa.  I could not find a can of tomatillo sauce in our little town.  I Googled it and all I could find were recipes and references to a green chili salsa...which the main ingredient is  of course, tomatillos.
So, I purchased a can of green chili salsa, which might not seem too different from the other  green chili recipe I made---but it really was. Because this one had FRESH Hatch Green Chilies in addition.
If you know what tomatillo sauce is, please let me know.

I would make this again.  We both really liked it.

I am going to link this up to "See you in the Gumbo" hosted by Michelle at  Ms. enPlace.  It's a potluck party she hosts on her blog.   This Sunday is  #98 for her.  





Hatch Green Chile Verde
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 6 hours in the slow cooker
Serves: 6 to 8 people
Ingredients: 
For the pork:
2 pounds – boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoon each – Salt and black pepper
2 tablespoon – Vegetable oil
2/3 cup – onion, chopped
For the Hatch Chile Verde sauce:
1 tablespoon – olive oil
½ cup – onion, chopped
2 teaspoon – garlic, minced
6 whole – Hatch Chiles, roasted, peeled, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 cup – chicken broth
½ teaspoon – salt
½ teaspoon – ground cumin
1 (16-ounce) can – tomatillo Sauce
Directions
For the Hatch Green Chile Sauce
  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onion and saute until translucent and soft.
  3. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute without allowing the garlic to brown.
  4. Add chiles, chicken broth, salt, and cumin.
  5. Bring the mixture to boil, then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  6. Combine the chile mixture and the tomatillo sauce in a blender and purée.
For the Slow Cooked Pork
  1. Season the pork with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the oil and heat until shimmering.
  4. Add the pork and brown all sides.
  5. Transfer the meat to a slow cooker.
  6. Add onions.
  7. Add the chile verde sauce and cover.
  8. Slow cook on medium for six hours, or until pork is fork-tender.
Your entire home will be filled with the wondrous aroma of roasted green chiles, onion and garlic when making the chile verde. Make sure to check on the heat level of your Hatch chiles. They come in mild to extremely hot. 

Friday Friend Recipe #153 -- Crock Pot Meatloaf

Come with me as I continue to countdown my Friday Friend Cookbook! What is it, you may ask? In a nutshell... About 17 years a...