Monday, May 17, 2010

I need some help, Musing Monday and other bookish memes

I am having a horrible time remembering what I read in my High School English Lit class.

It's important because my daughter-in-law wanted to know. She asked me to ask my "Friday Friends", and I have, but before compiling all the answers and sending them to her, I thought I should also answer. It's just that I can remember the teacher's face, the great feeling I had from being in the class, but not any of the titles of the books.

We read one alternate reality or sci-fi book (I think I had a progressive teacher for the mid '70's, public school system), where thru out the whole book, all pronouns were plural. There was no "I", "you", "he", "she", they were all "us" or "we". Through the course of the book, the people "escaped" whatever confinement they were in an discovered books and deserted towns, and by the end of the book, in the last chapter the narrator used the word "I".

For the life of me, I can't remember the name of the book!! It reminds me somewhat of "The Giver," or "Flowers for Algernon", but I can't find the name anywhere.
(does this ring a bell to anyone?).

I know we read Flowers for Algernon, and I think we read "Lord of the Flies" and I remember reading "The Call of the Wild" and "The Children," but I can't remember if those were assigned reading or if I read them for fun. (I can remember tons of books I read for fun).
"Go Ask Alice". Holy Cow...that had to be for leisure reading, they wouldn't have assigned that, would they?

OH....The Diary of Anne Frank. We had to read the Diary of Anne Frank.

Do you remember books you read for your high school English Lit class?

I'm participating in 2 memes today.

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about movies based on books…

What happens when you see a movie based on a book/story, especially one you’ve not read? Do you feel the need to track it down and read it?

Musing Monday is hosted by Rebecca at Just One More Page.... Be sure to head over there and check out some of the other answers to this weeks question.

My short answer is yes. Most of the time I like to read the book first of course, but I have often read books after seeing the movie. Movies that come to mind are "The Poseidon Adventure" I saw then movie then, read the book. The book did give me a lot of background on characters which I really liked. "The Three Musketeers", when I was in high school I saw the movie with Michael York as d'Artagnan, and I just had to read about it. "Love Story" was another one.

It just occurred to me, that I haven't done this recently, it was more likely to happen when I was younger. Nowadays I will read a book in one day to be able to have read it before I see the movie.

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme, hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

Last week, I finished up, "On Writing" by Stephen King. A book I absolutely loved.

Then I read "The Postmistress" which is really big on book club lists, but for me it was just okay. It was good, but not a "YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK" kind of book for me.

 And this week, I hope to finish up a couple that I'm in the middle of:
The Pat Conroy Cookbook, which is more, much more than just a cookbook. It's full of memoir and essays of his life. I am enjoying it very much, PLUS, yesterday I made his coconut cake from scratch. Huge hit at my house!

 Watership Down. I want to read it, I like it, I'm just having a hard time picking it up and actually reading it. It must be my old copy. It has no book jacket to entice me.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I've had this out from the library for weeks and have re-checked it out a couple of times.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Asparagus frittata and Weekend Cooking

We had a great Sunday.

And it began with asparagus frittata.

And ended with us sitting here:

watching this:

eating this:

But this is about my frittata.

Last week, my friend Debbie mentioned that she had made a frittata for her mother's day brunch and also some bacon wrapped asparagus. Those things have stuck in my mind all week.
I'm a very suggestive eater....I don't know any other word for it, and it sounds crude, I know. It's not like I'm eating a banana and "really" enjoying it kind of suggestive, but rather, when I read a book and there is a description of a food item, it nags me until I make it. The same thing happens when my friends mention dishes that they have made. Debbie mentioned it last weekend and that is why I was set on making a frittata this weekend. I made the two become one tho. I made an asparagus frittata.
And it was good.

Asparagus fritatta
10 bacon strips, diced

1/2 cup chopped onion
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 eggs
1/2 cup half-and-half cream


1.In a skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels; drain, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings. In the drippings, saute onion until browned; drain.

2.Cut eight asparagus spears into 4-in.-long spears for garnish. Cut remaining asparagus into 1-in. pieces. In a saucepan, cook all of the asparagus in a small amount of boiling water until crisp-tender; drain.

3.In a bowl, toss the bacon, onion, asparagus pieces, cheese, flour, salt and pepper.  Pour into a pie plate.  In a bowl, beat eggs and cream; pour over bacon mixture. Top with asparagus spears. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.
It is 9:29pm  Pacific Standard Time....and I think I can get this into  "Weekend Cooking".  Right....under.....the gun.
Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads. It is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bourbon Kissed Baked Beans and Flashback Friday

It was one of our first warm spring evenings! Yay! It snowed last week, and this week it is practically summer.

I wanted to take it easy so the Handyman grilled up some Italian sausages and I made a potato salad and some baked beans.
I found this recipe for baked beans with "a kiss of bourbon" on this website "" and thought I would give it a try. I adapted it quite a bit...actually I just added bourbon/whiskey to my own recipe.
It was really easy and it was really good. I thought it funny that the author put in a side note to Texans, an alert to them, if you will.

He said if you are from Texas you might not like these beans because they are sweet. That's the way the rest of the nation likes it's beans. Sorry.
(kind of like cornbread....the rest of the nation likes it a bit sweet)

We also had a funny moment in front of our liquor cabinet (pantry--like we would have a liquor cabient!)...the recipe calls for 1/4 cup Kentucky Bourbon or Tennessee Whiskey.
We had Kentucky Whiskey, so the Handyman didn't want me to use it.
We did and he loved these!

I made them in the oven, but you could slow cook them on top of your grill or smoker, or even on top of the stove, if you'd like.

Bourbon Kissed Barbecue Baked Beans

1/2 pound bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/2 onion, chopped fine.
1/2 green pepper, chopped fine
3 cans (15oz) of your favorite beans --you can mix and match. I use kidney beans and pinto beans.
1/4 cup of your favorite bbq sauce
3 T. Molasses
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 T. Kentucky Bourbon or Tennessee Whiskey

Mix everything together and put in a Dutch oven or bean pot and bake in a hot oven 375 degrees, uncovered for 1 hour.

The Handyman, loved, Loved, LOVED the beans this way...with the addition of the bourbon.
The taste was very subtle.

*for the recipe, they had raisins and jalapeño as well as some other seasonings such as mustard and a bay leaf. I did not use any of these. Mine was pretty basic.



It is late Friday evening... and while the Handyman is watching a movie, I thought I'd take a few minutes to post about Flashback Friday, a meme hosted at Lovely Little Shelf.

Jacki says:
Every Friday we’ll post about the books that we loved. Do this however you want. You can outline the plot as you remember it, tell why you remember this particular book, talk about how it is still affecting you, whatever you want. This part is totally up to you. Feel free to nab the little guy up top and put him at the top of your blog post.
Come over to Lovely Little Shelf and comment (with a link to your blog) on my Flashback Friday post. Explore each other’s childhood book loves.
Don’t feel like you have to participate every week, although that would be fun! Anyone is welcome to join at any time.

I have a book shelf in my spare bedroom, that is full of children's books and while I was straightening it this morning I came across "Meet the Austins" by Madeleine L'Engle. The same L'Engle who wrote "A Wrinkle in Time."

I love Madeleine L'Engle. I loved A Wrinkle in Time, but I think that Meet the Austin's is my favorite L'Engle book of all time.

The Austins were the family I wanted to have...before I had a family.
They listened to Brahm's Second Piano Concerto, and made standing rib roasts and used phrases like "we all love him tremendously." They were noisy and chaotic and had a Great Dane named Mr. Rochester.

It was the kind of book that gave you a warm feeling inside. The Austins were a family with 4 children, whose lives are interrupted when their parents bring home an orphaned girl to stay with them for awhile. She makes life rather difficult for them, but as the story develops all five children grow and flourish in their relationships with each other. It's funny at times and sad at times, but basically just the story of a loving and likeable family.

I enjoyed the Austins in a number of  other books too, they have been characters who have stayed with me since my own childhood.
They feel like old friends.

These books by L'Engle all feature the Austin family:

Meet the Austins, 1960
The Moon By Night, 1963
The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas, 1964
The Young Unicorns, 1968
A Ring of Endless Light, 1980
The Anti-Muffins, 1980
Troubling a Star, 1994
Miracle on 10th Street, 1998
A Full House, 1999

Madeleine L'Engle writes both children's books and adult novels. One unique thing and what I especially love about L'Engle books, is that they are all connected. One of the recurring themes in L'Engle's fiction is the interconnectedness of all things. The books themselves reflect this idea; nearly all her fiction books can be linked.

I love the "Cross and Connect" theme. If you want to see how her characters are linked together  (and more) check out this site.
It says:
L'Engle's best-known works are divided between the "Chronos" and "Kairos" frameworks. The former is the framework in which the stories of the Austin family take place, and is presented in a primarily realistic setting, though occasionally with elements that might be regarded as science fiction. The latter is the framework in which the stories of the Murry and O'Keefe families take place, and is presented sometimes in a realistic setting and sometimes in a more fantastic or magical milieu.

Most of L'Engle's novels from A Wrinkle in Time onward are centered on a cast of recurring characters, who sometimes reappear decades older than when they were first introduced. The "Kairos" books are about the Murry and O'Keefe families, with Meg Murry and Calvin O'Keefe marrying and producing the next generation's protagonist, Polly O'Keefe. L'Engle wrote about both generations concurrently, with Polly (originally called Poly) first appearing in 1965, well before the second book about her parents as teenagers (A Wind in the Door, 1973). The "Chronos" books center on Vicky Austin and her siblings. Although Vicky's appearances all occur during her childhood and teenage years, her sister Suzy also appears as an adult in A Severed Wasp, with a husband and teenage children. In addition, two of L'Engle's early protagonists, Katherine Forrester and Camilla Dickinson, reappear as elderly women in later novels. Rounding out the cast are several characters "who cross and connect", Canon Tallis, Adam Eddington and Zachary Gray, who each appear in both the Kairos and Chronos books.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What's Outside my Kitchen window

Last week we had a huge windstorm... you can read about it here.

This week....this is what's going on outside my kitchen window.....or it's what's going on outside my neighbors windows.  (because they're the ones who can see my house)

Please come buy this house next to mine.  The grass is dead.  It is annoying me and every other neighbor.  We work hard to get green in the desert!

PS:  that is not the Handyman up there.
We thought about doing it ourselves, but then we decided,  "eh, what the heck.  It's only money and time"

Monday, May 10, 2010

Musing Mondays

Musing Monday's is hosted by Rebecca at Just One More Page. This week, Rebecca asks:
Do you have to carve out time in your day for reading (due to work and other obligations), or does your reading just happen naturally?

Well, there is NEVER enough time to read like I want to read.

A perfect weekday morning for me... (m,w and f )
get up at 5:00am, go for a walk, home by 6:00, have coffee and read for an hour, get ready for work.

Believe it or not, during the summer, this happens about 80% of the time. (in the winter I don't walk like I should, but I still read for about an hour every morning).

I love having that time to curl up with my coffee and read in the mornings. I've always been an early riser, so it works out good for me. The hard part is walking actually---getting my butt out the door that early. The easy part is the reading.

2-3 times a week, I'm able to go home during my lunch hour, grab a sandwich and a book and have a good 30 minutes to read. And if I am meeting friends for lunch and I arrive early....YES, I am that nerd in the booth by myself reading a book.

The evenings are the hardest for me and I usually get distracted by all kinds of things. I do take a book when I go to bed and maybe read for a few minutes before falling asleep.

So, I would say that during the week, I make that time... it looks that way anyway, since it's all so "scheduled".

But on the weekends, it just happens naturally. At least I think it does, because I do's "natural" for me to pick up a book any old time.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Banana Bread

We all have our little quirks, right? Here is one of mine.

I will spend weeks on having a "find just the right (fill in the blank) recipe".

For instance I once spent about two months making a different apple pie recipe every weekend. I wanted to find "just the right one", so I subjected my family to this, weekend after weekend, for about 7 or 8 weeks in a row. (at the same time, my friend Sally was trying to find the perfect rice pudding ). I made apple pies with cinnamon and nutmeg, with a crunch topping, with brown sugar, with nuts... My family never complained. Nor did they when I was trying to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. They are troopers I tell ya...troopers, being forced to eat my samples.

The downfall to this is that I have no signature dish that people request me to bring to potlucks, dinner parties, etc.
My friend Shelly makes 3 things. We can always count on one of those three things being brought to a backyard bbq or get-together. But she makes them well, and we all love them. They are her signature dishes...the ones we all crave and rave about.
Me, on the other hand....I will even make a dish I've never made before to take and share. And if someone were to ask me to "bring your apple pie, it's so good," I would have no idea which one they were talking about.

My daughter-in-law Sadie once said to me, that she really liked that thing I made, with noodles.
I've been haunted about that for years.....trying to remember what noodle thing it was. I've made other noodle things for her since then, but have never recreated "the" noodle thing.

For a while I was also trying different banana bread recipes. The trouble is, they are all good, so how does one pick "just the right one"? Well you can't. But I did make one the other night and I thought I would share it.

I was reading this book, "Being Dead is no Excuse, the Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral" by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays. It's full of funny little essays on Southern etiquette and recipes. In it there was one for banana bread. Now, I don't just make any banana bread I come across anymore, but this one intrigued me because it didn't have any salt in the recipe. I thought salt was one of those "chemical" ingredients you need to do any baking? Well, there was none there. So I decided to make it. And guess what? It was really good.
I would make it again, although I'm still not sure "it's the one."

Mother's Banana Nut Bread

4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons soda
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
6 ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups chopped nuts

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Sift the flour, baking powder and soda together.
Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and mix. Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar and egg mixture.
Fold in the mashed bananas.
Lightly flour the nuts and fold them into the batter.

Bake for 1 hour in 2 buttered Loaf pans. Glaze if desired.

2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
4-6 tablespoons milk
In a small bowl, blend the above ingredients until smooth. Remove the bread from the pan and spoon the glaze over it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Weekend

A phone call on Saturday morning...

Me: hello?
Camron: Hello Gramma. I've been sooo wanting to come to your house.
Me: you have?
Camron:  Yep.
Me: well, I'll pick you up in 30 minutes and you can go to a ribbon cutting with me.

I work for the Chamber of Commerce. We have ribbon cuttings. But this one was more fun than most: WATER WARS!
A new water balloon slinging kinda place.
And since he was with me, he got to sling a water balloon.

Camron letting go.... of the water sling shot!

Then we hit the library, the dollar store, Burger King, the skateboard park (where he rides his bike), home to make rice krispie treats and then homemade pizza for dinner. Only pepperoni (he's 8, no artisan pizza's for him), watch some Goosebumps DVD's, (he begs for a ventriloquist doll with creepy eyes), then he scared to fall asleep, I lay down with him, we watch cartoons to take our minds off the Goosebumps shows. He shakes me and says "Gramma you're snoring".

ME? I don't snore. He must be mistaken. Ask Granddad..he LOVES to sleep with me. I don't snore. I must have had allergies.

We wake in the morning. We make waffles from scratch. We go to church, where he is asked to be an acolyte (candlelighter). I cringe. They are trusting him with fire?! FIRE! The altar is covered with wispy Easter things. And close by are paper butterflies the Sunday School class made.... (sigh) he does fine.
During Joys and Concerns he raises his hand for a prayer request (he's not sitting by me, so I have no means of intervening )
He requests prayers for his cousin whose concussion didn't mess up his brain too much.

He's excited for Church to be over, so he can go to the brunch (fellowship hour). His granddad arrives during the "brunch" of cookies and crackers and cheese and asks him if he wants to go to the motocross races. He says yes.
Off they go.

I am pooped.

I can't wait until I get a phone call from these guys saying they want to come to my house soooo badly!  ( I would drive 500 miles! to get them)
My other grandchildren!!  If only....if only.... they lived closer.





Our pizza.

Don't get all was all Chef Boy Ardee. But it was good.
Doesn't it look like a face? I love my new pizza stone.

Our morning waffles.

The waffles were good.  I will post about them tomorrow.  They  had corn starch in the recipe and it made them crispier than normal.  I like that texture in a waffle.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

What's Outside My Kitchen Window, Cookbook Countdown and Flashback Friday

If you want to know more of what's outside my kitchen window, head over here to my Big Backyard Blog.

For now.... It's the Handyman enjoying the warm spring sun on Sunday.

Last night I finally settled on Linguine and red clam sauce.
(I knew you were all waiting on pins and needles to see what I had made)
I found a post I did about it in 2008... but no pics. Hey I was new to this.

Go here to see.

then, I found my very first food post ever
I had been doing just a personal blog before I had NO IDEA what I was doing the day I decided to do a food post. LOL

BUT, this clam sauce is the easiest---semi homemade--and tastes great!

And....yep, I'm using this for my cookbook countdown. I use this cookbook all the time, Pasta with a Flair, by Katherine DeDomenico Reichert.

Reichert is the daughter of of the founder of the Golden Grain Company, which is well known for it's pasta, Rice-a-Roni and Noodle-Roni products. I love this little cookbook. I use it all the time. It has the best and easist pasta recipes I've ever made.

Everyone loves this red's a bit different, as one usually sees clams in a white sauce.

For the recipe go here.
I just found out about Flasback Fridays   from my daughter-in-law over at "So Many Books"    And even tho it is Saturday, I'm going to participate. I'll pretend I wrote this at 11:50pm last night.
Flashback Friday is a chance to showcase books that you loved as a kid or teenager.

Every Friday we’ll post about the books that we loved. Do this however you want. You can outline the plot as you remember it, tell why you remember this particular book, talk about how it is still affecting you, whatever you want. This part is totally up to you. Feel free to nab the little guy up top and put him at the top of your blog post.
Come over to Lovely Little Shelf and comment (with a link to your blog) on my Flashback Friday post. Explore each other’s childhood book loves.
Don’t feel like you have to participate every week, although that would be fun! Anyone is welcome to join at any time.

Seventeenth Summer.
I read it in the 8th grade.
It was old even then. (it was written in 1940).
I picked it up at a book fair in the Jr. High Library, where my friend Kathy and I meandered for what seemed like hours, to get the most books for our money. We would make sure that we picked up books we could share with each other, so in a sense we had doubled our buying power. I should have known back then in 1972, when I picked up Seventeenth Summer, that my life was sealed forever....

"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes" - Erasmus

.....Book Fairs, book sales, used book stores...have always been my downfall. Always. But at this particular book sale, I happened to grab Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly.

It holds a special place in my heart. I will admit, it's not great literature. In fact, when I was reading some reviews on Goodreads, most were written by young women who had read it recently and they just didn't "get it."

They didn't GET the love story of Angie Morrow and Jack Duluth!? They didn't love their summer of "cokes with the crowd," "rides in Jack's car," "movies?"

They didn't get young love from 75 years ago?!! Sheesh!
Seventeenth Summer is considered the first ever Young Adult novel, the first ever to anticipate an audience of between 12-18 (professor Amy Pattee)

It's not great literature, as I said, but it's a sweet and simple summer love story between two teenagers, in a more simple time, so you're not burdened with all the social issues that teenagers have to deal with today. I know it's not realistic, but I think it's okay to just have an escape book for young girls.

In the book, Angie didn't kiss Jack until the 3rd date! And then she was embarrassed that we, the readers might think badly of her. We might think she was "fast".

Maybe it's not the love story or the characters that have stuck with me all these years, but the descriptive writing.

"It was just after nine o'clock and I was in the garden picking small round radishes and new green onions for dinner at noon. I remember it was a warm day with a blue and white sky. The garden was still wet with last night's rain and the black earth was steaming in the sun, while between my toes the ground felt soft and squishy--I had taken off my shoes and left them on the garden path so they wouldn't get caked with mud--and I remember thinking how much fun it would be to go barefoot all the time. The little tomato plants were laid flat against the ground from last night's downfall and there were puddles like blue glass in the hollows. A breeze, soft with a damp fishy smell blew in from Lake Winnebago about three blocks away..."

The way Daly described  everything in the book, made me fall in love with it. The writing really did take me there, to the sweltering heat of lazy summer days, small towns and summer love. I loved the garden, the family dinner table, the lake, the town...everything.

Perhaps it was just that I was beginning to notice boys around the same time, and that combined with reading a "love-story", has just stuck with me after all these years. Knowing that I might have a romance just as Angie did.

I'm not sure what I think of the newer book jacket. It changes things up to look more contemporary. And the book is not.

Here is a link to an article on the changing of book jackets Cover Girls.
The article talks about rebranding books as their latest readers come of age. Could you imagine rebranding Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice as the latest readers come of age?

It's an interesting subject.

I think books that stick with us for years, and I have many, just spoke to us in some way....a way that's hard to describe, as hard as it is to describe why you love somebody....and we each have our own favorites. Ones we might "flashback" to every so often.

Friday friend recipe number 274 and 275-Grapefurit Shrimp Salad and Crispy Potato Chicken

  My Friday Friend Cookbook Countdown #274 and 275 My Mother-in-law's Grapefruit Shrimp Salad and Crispy potatoes . and you know all th...