Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Spool of Blue Thread


From Goodreads:
From the beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning author--now in the fiftieth year of her remarkable career--a brilliantly observed, joyful and wrenching, funny and true new novel that reveals, as only she can, the very nature of a family's life. 
     "It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon." This is the way Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she fell in love with Red that day in July 1959. The whole family--their two daughters and two sons, their grandchildren, even their faithful old dog--is on the porch, listening contentedly as Abby tells the tale they have heard so many times before. And yet this gathering is different too: Abby and Red are growing older, and decisions must be made about how best to look after them, and the fate of the house so lovingly built by Red's father. Brimming with the luminous insight, humor, and compassion that are Anne Tyler's hallmarks, this capacious novel takes us across three generations of the Whitshanks, their shared stories and long-held secrets, all the unguarded and richly lived moments that combine to define who and what they are as a family.


From Me:
I would agree that you enter an Anne Tyler book, you just don't read it.
You get to know and understand and recognize the characters and you can love them even if you don't like them --that happens in families right?
Tyler can make you feel for the characters in her books/stores, just the way you feel for your own family.

But sometimes her stories are very melancholy.  Like, a lot of the time.
I like a good melancholy read tho -- it makes me ponder the meaning of  things; life, love, happiness.

I enjoyed listening to this book.  She had some quirky characters, but if I stepped outside of myself, I can see some of those quirky characters in my extended family. 
And yours.
She's able to capture that honesty in her characters and her writing that keeps me captivated.

I liked it very much.
Still -- if you've read Anne Tyler before, you will understand when I say melancholy, right?
Her books just are.

Saturday Snatpshot




On Wednesday, I shared some photos of our most recent drive out in the country  (see Outdoor Wednesday)  And I had mentioned that there were mines and mine shafts in the hills of Nevada.
 I  think I mentioned that they creep me out!

For Saturday Snaptshot, I thought I'd share  a few more pics of a mine shaft...
.... and see if you don't agree with me, about the creepiness.

This is the landscape I'm talking about:
(you can hardly see it, but that's a cow walking along the ridge)



The Nevada Division of Minerals as well as the Bureau of Land Management has done a good job of fencing the mine shafts in, but there are a few not fenced --considering there are hundreds all over the state, they do the best they can.



It just gives me the heebie jeebies to see a mine shaft.






No one knows where it ends!
I'm even nervous to walk the ground outside of the fencing.
If you fell down there,  you'd be a gonner for sure.




So this is what I'm sharing for Saturday Snapshot.
Let me know if you get the heebie jeebies!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Friday Friend Recipe #43: Green Chili Enchiladas#1

Friday Friend Recipe #43:  Green Chili Enchiladas

Making my way thru my Friday Friend Cookbook, one recipe at a time.

What is the Friday Friend cookbook:   I have about 50 of my closest friends and family on an e-mail forum which I called the Friday Friends (from all over the county).  At first, most of them didn't know each other, (they knew me) but over the past 15 years, we've answered and shared silly--and serious---questions,  exchanged Secret Santa Christmas gifts,  had a dieting contest in which we paid a $1 a week and that money went to a scholarship fund for a Friday Friends son's memorial scholarship, and we went on a great vacation for my 52 birthday.

And,  we contributed recipes for a cookbook.
Which brings me to this... recipe #43

Shelly's
Green Chili Enchiladas



This is good.
Chicken, cheese, sour cream cheese, salsa, cheese.
Did I say cheese?
How can it not be good?

In the Friday Friend cookbook, I have  8 versions of this recipe.
EIGHT!!
And none of them are exactly the same -- just a tad bit different here and there, so I have to make them all.
Just to be fair too all the cooks, right?

(we are going to weigh 300 lbs by the time I'm done with this cookbook! )
(Better get to walking!)





Green Chili Enchiladas
Shelly Noble
Winnemucca, NV

8 flour tortillas
1 can cr. chicken or cr. mushroom soup
8 oz sour cream (or more)
2 lbs shredded chicken meat
8oz shredded jack cheese (or more)
8oz shredded cheddar cheese (or more)
Optional:  green chilies, black olives, salsa
Mix all and roll into tortillas.
Place in a 9x13 pan, top with cheese.
Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.
(good prepared 1 day ahead)







and now... 
Herrrreeee's  Shelly!  Michelle.  Shel.
(we call her lots of names)
The one who submitted this version Green Chili Enchiladas -- version #1.

Shelly has many recipes in the FF Cookbook.  She probably ranks #2 in recipes in the book as well as blog posts.  
So again, what facts/stories to tell each time, as I have many more to go?

Shelly is an Washington State University Alumni.
Can you tell?

She is also a faithful mother who sits at her son's baseball games each spring.
He's in college now --- but she has sat at many sports games in all kinds of weather, in all kinds of schools (elementary, high school, college), at all kinds of venues.

Spring is cold!  Brrrrr.

To see all of Shelly's recipes so far, click here.
(I know you want to, so go ahead)





I just keep plugging along with my Friday Friend Cookbook.
As I said in one of my recent posts --
--this blog isn't about me doing great original recipes
---it's about friendship!

AND
to see all of my friends and their recipes
click here!









Meatballs part 2


Ta Da!  (I made the Stroganoff)


Just in case you really did turn in from yesterday's meatball post!
I decided on the Russian version of meatball stroganoff.
Although I am not too sure how close it comes to real Beef Stroganoff. 


The Handyman's opinion?
He loved the meatballs.
The sauce?  meh...   he said it was just okay.

I agreed with him.
The meatballs, for how simple they were, were great.
I would make them again (but try to keep them 'round' and not lumpish, as my meatballs tend to be)
The sauce was okay---   2.6 stars.

That's it for now!


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Outdoor Wednesday





The Handyman  loves to head out into the Nevada Desert and see what he can find.
We went looking for Daveytown last week.

This is what we found.
Daveytown plus the old Jumbo mine.

Hard to believe that once they were bursting and bustling with people.

Old mines scare me -- they creep me out -- and they intrigue me.
There are hundreds of old mine shafts in the hills of Nevada.
A person could fall down there never to be seen again.

This one below, we just came across while driving old back roads in the hills.
At least it has a scaffolding or whatever you call it above the mine shaft.
But down there?  In the middle of that lumber? 
There is a hole that's been dynamited out and it goes on and on and on.

Nevada has gold.
But it always makes me wonder, how and why some random wild-west pioneer chose to dynamite a section of hill so far removed from anywhere.
Well, I guess it was all very far removed at one time.
But up in them thar hills?
Why?
Gold.
That is the answer.










 Some pics of Daveytown -- or what's left of it.







 I just thought the windmill was cool.




And then we came upon the old Jumbo mine.
And we had a picnic.



Meatballs!


I have been waiting for years to use this pamphlet.
For years and years. From when I was in the  7th grade in fact.  
I now have a grandson in the 7th grade.
That's how many years I've been waiting.
2 decades.

I have loved this little pamphlet about ground beef meatballs.
Loved it and kept it, because I knew that one day -- one day (sigh)
it would be  my  (sigh again)
Passport to Far-Away eating!
(it says so--right on the pamphlet)

I have no idea why I waited for 2 decades to sample 'far-away' eating.
(actually, I have no idea why I've kept this thing all these years)
The time never seemed perfect-- until now.
(You'll have to visit the Months of Edible Creations to find out why now)

Just this morning I pulled out my much loved pamphlet and made up some basic meatballs.




Hmmmm... now, what 'far-away' place shall I travel to via meatballs?

Who knew that there were so many culinary adventures  with ground beef to choose from? 
I cannot forget to mention evaporated milk, because this pamphlet that I've kept since my 7th grade home-ec class is sponsored by the "Evaporated Milk Association" in Washington D.C.
Not the Ground Beef Association as one might think.
(when meatballs are mentioned, doesn't evaporated milk come to mind?)

They say evaporated milk is essential in getting your meatballs  juicy.
the key to tender, juicy, meat balls is the use of evaporated milk as the binder. This 'double-value' whole milk blends and binds the ingredients for easy shaping and keeps the meat mixture tender and moist throughout the cooking. 

Evaporated Milk is it!
I don't disagree with that statement.
It makes lots of things juicy and good.
My mother in law  uses it in her mashed potatoes and her mashed potatoes are to die for.




Okay, back to the meatballs --

the basic recipe goes like this:
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup fine dried bread crumbs
2/3 cup chopped onion
1 tsp salt
dash of pepper
2/3 cup of evaporated milk
2 T butter

Mix together the ground beef, crumbs, onion, salt, pepper and evaporated milk in a medium mixing bowl. 
Shape into 12 meatballs  (or 40 smaller meatballs for Swedish-style meat balls)
Melt butter in  a large skillet over medium  heat. Add meat balls, turning occasionally to brown on all sides.
Then use in one of the following ways:



Our choices are:
Polpette  (Italian spaghetti and meatballs)
Boulettes de Boef  (meatballs French style)
Albondigas (meatballs Spanish style)
Keftedes (meatballs Grecian style)
Sauerbraten (meatballs German style)
Strognaoff ( meatballs Russian style)
Cantonese (meatballs Chinese style)
Japanese style meatballs
Kottbullar (meat balls Swedish style)

There is evaporated milk in everyone of these sauce recipes.
Just sayin'

This pamphlet is so 1970's!
Which incidentally, is when I was in 7th grade Home-Ec.
I guess I kept this pamphlet because of the nostalgia.  I loved 7th grade 
Home-Ec with Mrs. Jackson.

Here is a plate of the basic meatballs after I browned them.
(a little too much browning--oops)    




so that was this morning.

I made the meatballs.

What I am going to do with these meatballs you ask?
To see what country I 'visited',
what Far Away Eating place I sojourned to

Come by tomorrow....
I'll surprise you.


(Louise at Months of Edible Creations is having a meatball round-up in March. It will be fun to see everyone's meatballs. And while this  is just a basic meatball  from a funny pamphlet I got  45 years ago in my 7th grade Home-Ec class, and nothing fancy -- just think of what you can really do with meatballs!)

I am going to share this with Marjie at 
who is hosting  Cookbook Wednesdays for Louise for a while.
After all, this is a little cookbook-let and it's been lonely  for quite a while.




Tuesday, February 24, 2015

This and That (in the evening)




A few months ago, while cleaning out some tubs in a closet, I came across some journals of my son's from when he was in elementary school. One evening he decided to read from his own journals.

It was -- hysterical!  His delivery!  His pacing.  His emotion.  Was --Hysterical!
We all had a great laugh listening to a 31 year old read from his 9 year old point of view.

Let me share a few entries from his journal -- but first, imagine yourself at open mike night in a trendy bar, lounge, tavern...
....why?  because just last week I found this great podcast, which I listened to and laughed and laughed.  I loved it. 

We’re looking for book reports, embarrassing poetry, screenplays, diary entries, letters from camp, and anything else your weird and wonderful younger mind came up with. Since 2007, Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids has invited brave adults to read their childhood and teenage writing… out loud in front of an audience.











 I tried to talk my son into letting me video him reading tonight, but he wasn't about to let me. 
I think he would by just as funny as anyone at the actual events..
But maybe that's just the mother in me.
He made sure all of our phones were in plain sight and off, before he would humored me and read again tonight.

1st grade:
I wish I were invisible. If I were invisible I'd kick someone in the balls.
(he learned potty mouth early -- he has a big brother)

A sound I don't like is yelling.  I'm sorry I spilled the milk.
(okay, I have HUGE mother guilt over this journal entry)


4th grade:
Well, I don't really have an exciting life, but it's really funny.
When I was seven, I wanted to be a comedian, so every book order that came I ordered joke books.
(he's still funny)


I would go back and stop the assassination of President Kennedy.  If I miss the first time, I would keep trying.
(um... he had this before Stephen King in  11-22-63 !!)

I don't have anything that is passed down to me. Not a thing.  Nothing at all. Nothing is passed down to me.
(he had his brothers clothes!  He has been bugging me about an antique pickle server that was his grandmothers -- I have put his name on it)


This just puts a smile on my face!  He dedicated it to  "all the detectives"
I like how one guy has a curly mustache.



I bet my other two sons are scramblin', trying to find their journals and hide them!
Too late, I've already got the stuff I need.

Anyway, it's a great podcast if you are into podcasts at all.

A Supremely Bad Idea


from Goodreads:
It was an epiphany: The moment two friends showed Luke Dempsey a small bird flitting around the bushes of his country garden, he fell madly in love. But did he really want to be a birder? Didn’t that mean he’d be forced to eat granola? And wear a man-pouch? Before he knew it, though, he was lost to birding mania. Early mornings in Central Park gave way to weekend mornings wandering around Pennsylvania, which morphed into weeklong trips to Texas, Arizona, Michigan, Florida—anywhere the birds were.

A Supremely Bad Idea is one man’s account of an epic journey around America, all in search of the rarest and most beautiful birds the country has to offer. But the birds are only part of it. There are also his crazy companions, Don and Donna Graffiti, who obsess over Dempsey’s culinary limitations and watch in horror as an innocent comment in a store in Arizona almost turns into an international incident; as a trip through wild Florida turns into a series of (sometimes poetic) fisticuffs; and as he teeters at the summit of the Rocky Mountains, a displaced Brit falling in love all over again, this time with his adopted country.
Both a paean to avian beauty and a memoir of the back roads of America,A Supremely Bad Idea is a supremely fun comic romp: an environmentally sound This Is Spinal Tap with binoculars.


from me:
I really liked this book.  I gave it 3 stars.
It was 'laugh out loud' funny in a lot of places.
(but maybe only if you've been bird watching)
The writing was witty.
(There is no arguing that)
The book did encourage and excite me and motivate me to  -- go find more birds!
I want to go birding with my bird-nerd friends!!

Having said that tho, I thought the flow of his essays flitty. 
Yes, flitty is a word (I just made it up)
Flitty like birds, so it only makes sense his observations would be the same.
It goes back and forth a bit too much for me. Like there is a memory/story inside another memory/story inside the first memory/story and then he  brings it all back around.
But truth be told, I find that is kind of true of every birding memoir I've read.  The stories are great and fun and exciting, the writing usually good,  but...
....if you are not into birds, why would you think reading about  spending hours trudging thru mosquito infested forests in northern Michigan in the cold fickle spring, which then brings to mind the  pondering of your dead father, and the fact that you are a picky eater, fun?
(see?  I told you, story in story in story)

I know that books take us places we've never been and expand our minds, blah blah blah, but those are novels.  I think memoirs need to have an audience and I'm just not so sure birding experiences have a big one  (audience that is).

This, of course, sounds like I didn't like the book, which I DID. Very much.
It was funny, and very well written.
I would give it 3.8  stars, but they don't give me that much leeway. 

 I do love the outdoors/nature and I am always saddened by what our growing population does to wildlife habitats.
And in books such as these, I always learn a tad bit more information which makes me a tad bit more sad.

If you like birds and you like essays and/or memoirs and you like witty writing then:
THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Cookbook Countdown #73 -- Jello for Company (Seriously!!) and FF appendix #5




Cookbook Countdown #73
 --  In my own personal Cookbook Countdown!
A very slow countdown it is -- and
 FF Appendix #5 (those recipes which should have been in the Friday Friend Cookbook, but weren't)

If you want to see All of my 73 cookbooks, just click on this link.

And I know -- I KNOW, I should be ashamed to be sharing Jello with you.  
But--- I'm not.

I think it's too funny to pass up.
An old mid-western, church cookbook, given to me by a friend, that includes Jell-O recipes.
How to make Jell-O.

This makes me  'fall off my chair laughing' -- directions on how to make the 
Jell-O.
In a cookbook.




This is good for Sunday night supper when company drops in?
Who the heck drops in anymore, without calling first?
And --  Jello?  Is great for company?

I'm not saying that I'm opposed to Jello, it's just.... funny to me.
This is plain jell-o.  Not even pretzel jell-o salad or something.

Here is my copy of Lutheran Church Basement Women.
My friend Debbie E, gave it to me, after she took a train trip to the mid-west.



Why, you might be wondering as to why  I want to include this in the FF Appendix?
Well, because it includes the stories of two of my Friday Friends!

I KNOW that Jell-O is not 'their' recipe, although they could have very well written down those directions and added them to any cookbook too.

I figure since my goal as a part-time food blogger is only to
1) make one recipe out of every cookbook I own and to blog about it
2) make every, SINGLE, recipe in a cookbook my friends and I put together, called The Friday Friend Cookbook,  I can do whatever I want and I want to include them in this post, and include this story in the FF Appendix.
(which really doesn't exist except in tags on this blog.  I just want to make my FF editor Barbara Brown a bit nervous, thinking she has to type a whole new cookbook)

In a nutshell--
It's more about friendship than authentic, original recipes!

So let me tell you how this began--
My favorite Minnesotan Friday Friend, Mitzi,  sent me a text a couple of weeks ago.
She said:  Look what I found in my grandma Edna's kitchen:





I said/texted:
Too funny!  I have one also!
I then asked if her's had  the coffee with an egg in it?






Sure enough!
Mine had fruit soup/sweet soup -- and on the same page Mitzi said it would be.

She wrote back:
Yep!  Prunes and raisins for craps sakes, doncha know!

(she really said that; doncha know, you betcha.  Cuz she's from Minnesota*)
(okay, she didn't really, but -- she might as well have-- she's from Minnesota*)





Minnesotans, at least Mitzi and Larry, do love it when friends 'drop in'.
She was even so gracious one time, when our friend April dropped in a day early for a dinner party.
Mitzi made them stay for the chili she was fixing.  At least April arrived with dessert in hand.
That is the ultimate in 'dropping by'.
And Mitzi never (okay, rarely ) says 'doncha know'. I just like writing that.

I have no intention of making the sweet soup any time soon, nor the coffee with egg in it.  
Jell-o is good enough for now.  It's good enough for company for craps sakes, doncha know!

I actually think the cookbook is funny and unique.  There are all kinds of poems and tips and there is even a 'ode' to jell-o.

You know you're a "mid-western" Lutheran Church Basement Woman if:


  • you have more than five flavors of Jell-O in your pantry.

  • your church library has three Jell-O cookbooks.

  • you think the four food groups are coffee, lefse, lutefisk, and Jell-O.

  • you think lime Jell-O with cottage cheese and pineapple is a gourmet salad.

  • you think the term "Jell-O salad" is redundant.
and so on...

So...
now I introduce you to Mitzi.
Mitzi and her husband hail from Minnesota, but lived in Nevada for over 20 years, before he retired and they moved back to Minnesota just last summer.
We are all still trying to recover from the rejection of her leaving us.
(sigh) We'll make it thru -- eventually.  I'm sure we will.

Mitzi is an outdoor girl!


Every summer for the  past 15 years or so, she and her husband would spend the summers in Minnesota fishing   (they are school teachers, doncha  know)
then they would return to Nevada and have a big fish fry for all of us.
I have blogged about this.
right here...there... right,  there...click there below!
We loved the fish fry!  
Now who will fry fish for us?
We are going to be reduced to eating frozen tilapia.





And Debbie E, who started the whole thing by giving me the cookbook in the first place.
Seen here with her twin daughters, Katie and Kelsey.

We lived next door to each other for years.
The girls were 3 back then.
Where does 26 years go? 
Gone in a blink of an eye!




These little girls are going to be mother's soon.
One in March one in May.

Maybe Debbie and I will make Jell-O for our grandkids!
Now, there's an audience who will appreciate some Jell-O!

for all the recipes of 
and 

And thank you for hanging around for my 'ode' to friends.

I am including this in Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads.
As you know, It's Monday and I don't like to do that, BUT my computer was giving me trouble on the weekend.





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...