Monday, August 30, 2010

It's Monday, what are you Reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading?
This weekly recap is hosted by Shelia of One Persons Journey Through a World of Books. Each week we recap what we’ve read and look at what’s coming up this week. If you’re interested head over to Shelia’s site and get involved!

Last week I wanted your help with choosing what to read next. I didn't pay attention to most of you (sorry--must be why my  husband doesn't like to play that game with me either) ....I went with my daughter-in-law's suggestion and read "Mockingjay". I read it in 24 hours...a great ending to a great trilogy of books. But it made me sad to finish it. I guess that's the sign of a good book, isn't it? To leave you wanting more? It would be really bad if you read a book and thought, "wow, I'm glad that's over" (which honestly I have thought about a book or two in my lifetime).

Anyway....Mockingjay left me wanting more. It was very good and I'm glad I read it. Sorry it's over.

Then I picked up and started "Will Grayson, Will Grayson" which was in my TBR pile, so this week I'll finish that one. I put it on hold after one chapter to finish "Eye of My Heart", edited by Barbara Graham.

You all know about "Mockingjay", no one needs another glowing review from me about that book... but let me tell you about "Eye of My Heart" 27 writers reveal the hidden pleasures and perils of being a grandmother.

Fact #1: I am a grandmother.

Fact #2: I love being a grandmother. I've never been one of those women who are uncomfortable with it. It's a natural (for the most part--I do realize some people have to deal with infertility, and some have chosen not to have children for various reasons, but that's another story) progression of our lifetimes. So, yes, I do love it.  I want to be who I am, and part of that is a Gramma.

Fact #3: I have 3 sons and 1 stepson, so all the grandmothering I do is from the paternal grandmother position, and....I have been extremely fortunate to have the daughter-in-laws I have. I can say, and play and do most anything with my grandchildren. I will always try to honor and respect their parents wishes/rules of course, but for the most part, I think we all agree--I AM A WONDERFUL GRAMMA!! ha ha ha.....

So, when I picked up this book of essays (well, my friend Karen sent it to me) I sobbed thru half the stories. These were women who knew what it felt like to be a Grandma. The being in love part. In love with your grandchildren...

one author wrote: I have been in love with my husband for 45 years, but when I look at him, I don't see the pure wonder of life or think about keeping him safe from nuclear proliferations as I do when I look at (grandson) and (grandson)

Another wrote: I am clear about my role. I am the Nonna, not the mom. (son) and (daughter in law) have a right to raise their family the way they want. They have the privilege of instilling their values, and teaching the children what they consider to be good and beautiful. My role is to love them unconditionally and with total acceptance.

That's how I feel...about all my grandchildren.
The book has essays by grandma's who have traditional roles, are raising their grandchildren, are estranged from their children, who have adopted's a good read. For Grandmas.

This week, I'll finish up Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and the end of the week, the Handyman and I are headed up to Oregon to the family cabin. And the best part is: we are going to be ALONE. (I might be a gramma, but I'm still excited to be alone with my man)

We are taking some books, we will take some hikes, we will eat good food, we will practice with my new camera. Maybe we'll go out on the lake. I'm so excited. I can read in the car, so I'll maybe do a book on the way up there and a book on the way back home. I will take my TBR pile and read from it.... The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, The Curse of the Spellmans, etc. etc.

It's gonna be a good week.

Monday Morning

Yesterday morning, my son and I drove 165 miles to go to church. (it rained the whole way). We went to hear my daughter-in-law give a sermon. She is the new director of Children and Youth ministries at Reno First United Methodist Church, and the Pastor was on vacation, so Sadie got to give her first sermon at that church.  (she did an awesome job by the way)

It's a gorgeous church...the oldest one in Reno. It is on the Stained Glass tour that the arts council of the city of Reno does each year. And rightly so....look at this stained glass!!!

I've been in this church a few times. I noticed the beautiful stained glass and the beautiful pipe organ and the beautiful stone work. At lunch after church, my son says, those faces popping out of the wall creep me out.
I said, "what faces?" I didn't notice any faces. My daughter-in-law laughed and said, "yeah, what is really creepy is that those were actual faces of children, 60 years ago, and some of them are still members of the church and are sitting in the pews each Sunday."
And I was still saying "WHAT FACES? I didn't see any faces!"
And then I got home and downloaded my pictures onto the computer.

(can you see them?) It's still a gorgeous church. I want to go there, but 165 miles one way to church is a bit much for me. I've never been an organ fan--I prefer the piano, until.....until I head the pipe organ. The acoustics are (insert a singing voice here) woooonderrrfullll! Everyone sounds good when they sing in that church.

I took this picture too, from inside the church, because it was raining out and it looked so green from inside. Anything that looks green in Nevada, I take a picture of.

I'll be back later in the day for "It's Monday, what are you reading".

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Corn with Cream for Cookbook Sundays

The pictures I took, were all about the Tinga (which was great and I'll post the recipe for that later in the week), but this post is about "Cookbook Sundays", which means it is the's really all about the "Corn with Cream". Even tho the Tinga (taco filling) is prominent in a couple of these pictures.

The history of my love for the corn--because I really, really do have a love for this corn:

4 years ago, my son was in a car accident in Phoenix, AZ. The Airbag hit his eye left eye and pretty much destroyed it. I flew down a couple of times, when he had different surgeries and doctors appointments. After one surgery, he was asleep (sitting up--he had to sleep sitting up because of his eye pressure) and I heard a little bell, like the ice-cream man had. My son, Luke, woke up and said, "its the Corn Man mom...go get some corn, it's really good."
So I did. And my son was right. It was really good! The Corn Man sells Mexican creamed corn from a food cart.
If you are ever in Mexico, or the southern United States, where there might be a large Mexican population and see the corn man...GO BUY CORN FROM HIM. It's worth it.

2 1/2 years ago, at the same son's wedding, his mother-in-law made all the food for the reception. It was "real" Mexican food. And she made corn. It was the Corn Man's corn. It was so good.

Present day:
I asked my daughter-in-law for the recipe and she gave it to me, but I can't find it. I've misplaced it.
So....I found a recipe for "Corn with Cream" in my cookbook "The Complete Book of Mexican Cooking".

It says in Mexico this recipe would be made with heavy cream but the sauce has a better consistency when made with cream cheese.'s not quite as authentic as the Corn Man, or My daughter-in-law's mother's recipe, But it was really, really good.

This recipe turned out a bit thicker than the Corn Man's. I might try it with heavy cream next time, because even tho I loved this recipe, I loved the Corn Man's more.   And in the recipe my daughter-in-law gave me, one roasted the chilies then diced them. In this one, you used canned, diced chilies. Easier, but not quite authentic.
Still...I would make this again, and again, and again. If I can't have the Corn Man in Winnemucca, NV, this is the next best thing!

One more cookbook in my cookbook countdown, crossed off the list. Still, over 200 to go.  ( I must quit buying them, or my count will never really go down)

Corn with Cream
adapted from "The Complete Book of Mexican Cooking"

4 ears of corn (or fresh frozen corn)
1/4 cup butter
1 small onion, chopped
2/3 cup drained, pickled jalapeño chili slices
2/3 cup creamed cheese
salt and pepper

Strip of the husks of corn and slice kernels off with a knife, cutting as close to the core as possible.
Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the chopped onion and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until the onion has softened and is translucent.
Add the corn kernels and cook for 4-5 minutes, until they are just tender. Chop the peppers fine and stir them into the corn mixture.
Stir in the cream cheese. Cook over low heat until melted and the corn is coated in the mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cherry Pies in a Jar

The grocery store that I shop at puts out a quarterly magazine with recipes and entertaining ideas, promoting their products of course, but sometimes they have really good recipes, and since I had the day with nothing to do, I thought I would try out these little "Cherry Pies in a Jar".

Mine did not turn out looking exactly like the ones in the magazine (Raley's/Nob Hill  Supermarket, in-store free magazine )

 but, they are as easy as pie--pun intended--and quite tasty. Truthfully tho, when I make them again---and I will---I will just put some cherry pie filling in there and forget the jam, etc. UNLESS, you have...

BRANDIED CHERRIES from a friend in Montana. YAY---THE CROWD ROARS!

My friend, Karen from "Karen Cooks" sent me a gift box which included her brandied cherries. Just because she's nice like that. She says the cherries are great over vanilla ice-cream. I believe her, but they are also good in these little cherry pies. I didn't have quite enough canned cherries to fill the recipe ingredients, so I opened the brandied cherries and added some of them.  VERY yummy.

I will definitely be making these again, because now I have the jars, and they are just cute. As you can see, mine didn't "overflow" from the jar, but we just plopped a scoop of ice cream on top and ate them as is. I had taken them to a pinochle party (I don't even know how to play pinochle, but they're trying to teach me--sigh) and it was so fun to screw the lids on, place them in a bag and take them out again. Talk about easy travel!!

My gifts from Karen! Some Hot sauce---I'm making a Mexican dish called Tinga, and will post about that soon, and I'm making some waffles to use the jam with soon. Karen's gift! 3 food posts. How neat is that?
Cherry Pies in a jar
2 heaping cups canned or fresh pitted cherries--juice drained
1/4 cup Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp lemon juice
1 refrigerated pie crust
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray 4 wide mouth, half pint canning jars, or 4 1-cup ramekins, with non-stick cooking spray.
Stir together cherries, preserves, cornstarch and lemon juice.
Unroll crust on a floured surface and roll into a 12-inch circle.  Cut into fourths, triming edges to make a  5-inch squares.  Place in the bottom of each jar.
Place equal amounts of filling in each jar.   Use remaining crusts to make lattice tops over the  jars.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned. Let cool before serving.
I sprinkled some sugar on the crusts before baking them.  And I wasn't so precise in the crusts...I just eyeballed what I wanted.  And that's why they are so easy.  Like I said,  I would just use some pie filling next time and call it good.  And serve them at a  party. 
In fact, I'm going to plan a party right now. is the deal. You can go to Karen's blog and get her brandied cherry recipe and use those in lieu of the canned cherries you get at the store---it's a special treat, let me tell ya.

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday, What are you reading?

This weekly recap is hosted by Shelia of One Persons Journey Through a World of Books. Each week we recap what we’ve read and look at what’s coming up this week. If you’re interested head over to Shelia’s site and get involved!

This past week I finished:

Beneath a Marble Sky for my Lit Wits Book club
Beautiful Boy for my Totally Lit Book club
Summer at Tiffany for the on-line Word Shakers Book club
(pics of all those are on my side-bar, to the left)

And now I have some time to read for fun!
Yes, I have 3 books to read for book clubs in September, but I don't have to have those done until the end of the month. I have 'FREE TIME' to read a book or two for fun!! But I can't make up my mind. What to read?

I'm stealing an idea from Sheila....she does this. I hope it's okay. Sometimes my TBR pile gets so big that I have trouble making decisions, so....I need some help.
I ask my husband, but he gets annoyed at me and won't play along. I figured if anyone would play along, its other book lovers!

Here is my pile.... what should I read?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A brunch dish? Maybe.

I used to buy a cookbook from every place I visited. To be honest, I still think it's fun and I'm pretty likely to do it even now, when I have over 200 cookbooks and should know better. I like to go for those regional, "church" kind of cookbooks, where everyone makes their favorite and most sought after dish. Their signature dish, if you will, the one they want to show off with. My trouble is, that I've pretty much stayed on the west coast--except a few trips to Virginia, Connecticut, and New York--so, I've accumulated many more "west coast" cookbooks than I need.

This particular cookbook, Peanut Butter Sticks to the Roof of Your Mouth, by Joan Howard, isn't a stand out, for it's great recipes, but it has an inscription written by me:
3 great friends
4 great days
Wallow Lake, July 199
Tomi, Dink and Debbie

How could I ever get rid of it? They really were 4 great days! Myself and 2 friends on a Mom's getaway weekend.

Right under the title on this cookbook, it says: Light-hearted reflections and recipes with a Northwest flavor.
It was big on the reflections, which I loved, but very light on the recipes. I thought I'd try "Patty's Ham with Asparagus".
I have something similar to this in one of my cookbook notebooks, and it seemed like it would be a good brunch recipe and decided to test it.
We ate it, the Handyman, myself and my son. We did not love it.
The sauce did not set up too well, so it was a bit runny, and in looking at my notebook, the other recipe uses cream of mushroom soup and not a white sauce. I think that might be better. So, I might go ahead and try it again using the soup instead of the white sauce. It might make for a thicker consistency.
And hopefully, better photographs!

Patty's Ham with Asparagus

3 pounds cleaned asparagus
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour
2 1/4 cups milk
Dash each: salt, pepper and nutmeg
6 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
12 thin slices ham
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cups grated Swiss cheese
paprika (which I just realized I forgot to sprinkle on)

Steam asparagus until barely tender. Drain juice and add to measured milk. Melt butter in pan, add the flour and stir until thickened. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper. In a 9x13 pan, layer half the asparagus, ham, eggs and 1/2 cup of the sauce. Repeat layers ending with sauce. spread cheese over all, sprinkle with paprika and dot with additional butter if you'd like.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

I'm linking this to Cookbook Sundays, My Own Personal Cookbook Countdown and Weekend Cooking.

Before I leave I have to tell you a funny "regional" story. As you know I live in Winnemucca, Nevada.

All of us, anywhere we live, take pride in our towns, counties, states.... and we want people to pronounce things correctly. I work at the Chamber of Commerce and I never know if I should correct people's pronunciations about our town or not... I mean, who can really pronounce Winnemucca? (it's Winn-a-muck-a ....after a Paiute Indian Chief) But Nevada... I think I really should help people out. But I had help! My friend Massey, has a four year old daughter Hayden. Hayden went to Texas with her parents.
While there, a kindly lady asked Hayden.... So you live in Ne-vah-da?

Hayden said, WHAT?
The lady said, "Ne-vahhh-da, you live in Ne-vahh-da?"
Hayden, just as cute as can be, says "NO I DON'T. I live in Nevada. (the middle 'va' is pronounced as in 'at'). The Lady thought it was hilarious!
But really....Hayden is's Nevada not Nevahhda. I'm just saying....

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Summer at Tiffany

I just finished reading "Summer at Tiffany" by Marjorie Hart for the on-line book club Word Shakers.

I enjoyed the book very much, and it was a quick read.

For me, the book had three appealing qualities: it was a memoir, it was a period in history that I love, and the setting was a place I love. It was a delight to read.
Hart wrote about the summer of 1945, when she and her best friend Marty shared an apartment and independence in Manhattan. Between their Jr and Sr years in college, they boarded the train with almost no money in their pockets--but thankfully an apartment waiting for them--went to New York City and vowed to make it on their own and have the Best Summer of their Lives. They soon landed jobs as the first women pages at Tiffany. New York's renowned jewelry store. Both girls were in awe and loved going to work each day, even tho the salary barely kept them in tea and crackers. I think it was chocolate milk and crackers...and a lunchtime .25 cent sandwich at the Automat.

They experience a summer full of excitement: waiting on glamorous customers, dating midshipman, going to nightclubs and ultimately being in Times Square for V-day.
It kept me wanting to turn the pages, as I just so enjoyed the escape of being able to live that life for a while thru Marjorie and Marty's experiences.
One of the reviews said the book was "honey-dipped" but Hart had the gift of conveying the texture of mid-century Manhattan (U.S.A. today). That's it in a nutshell.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Unexpected finds!

A Smoothie.

I made a smoothie. I had a hard time finding a beverage recipe from Mark Bittman. Okay, so I didn't try that hard. I only searched on the internet one afternoon for about 15 minutes.
What I found was an article--with an accompanied video--in the NYTimes, for a smoothie. It was dated December 5th, 2207.

To be honest, before IHCC, I had never had much of a cooking relationship with Mark Bittman. I think once last winter or the winter before, I came upon a PBS show where he was traveling with Mario Batalli. I watched a bit of it, but it was in the middle of the program and I had things to do and I just had to walk away.

Today tho....I watched the video. I loved it. What I loved was him...and his personality. I mean, really, the smoothie was nothing stand-out, ( although it was really good, but smoothies are a dime a dozen )but I really enjoyed listening to him.
While searching for a beverage recipe, I kept coming across the word "minimalist" connected to Mark Bittman. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking....hmmmm that's interesting, I have a cookbook somewhere with minimalist in the title.

Look!! Look what I found on my own bookshelf! It's like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz---Happiness is in our own backyards, or bookshelves!

As you all know--since you follow me regularly--(I wanted to make you feel the guilt) a couple of months ago I bought Bittman's "How to Cook Everything", which I really am enjoying, but...BUT, finding another of his cookbooks on my shelf is like opening an early Christmas gift. I'm so excited. I've glanced thru it and it looks great.
Oh Happy Day!

I got off track! This weeks IHCC theme is "Can I Have a Sip?"
Where those of us who are participating, are making a beverage inspired by Cookbook Author, Mark Bittman. If you watch the video, will you notice that I did exactly what Bittman did.
I blended some Milk, Orange Juice, sliced fresh peaches and half a frozen banana.
Mine was a little bit runnier than his, was very tasty.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Peck of Pickled Peppers

On Sunday my mom and my sister-in-law got together to make their pickles. And then they sent me some pictures. So, I thought I'd make them the guest bloggers today....only neither of them want to write up a post.

I thought I'd share anyway. I have never made pickles or relish, but my mom and sister-in-law do. I'm just lucky enough to reap the rewards. I have two jars of these pickles in my pantray.

I like relish trays....the kind our old relatives had on their Thanksgiving table...full of different kinds of olives and celery and carrot sticks, spicy apple slices, and, if you were from an Italian background as my husband, pepperoni and peppers on the relish tray. But the thing I liked best were the homemade pickles. Pickles that were not store bought....pickles that were made in your grandma's kitchen. They were crunchy and good and fresh tasting.
I'm going to go open a jar of pickles right now!

I've always thought of the Mid-West when I think of pickles, but really pickling dates back to ancient Mesopotami. Pickling is a custom of nearly every world culture. As generations from different heritages headed to America, they brought traditional recipes from their homeland, engraining the pickle in the U.S.’s food traditions. Even in today’s age of year-round fresh produce availability when preservation techniques are no longer a necessity—pickles still entice. ( from Specialty Food)

I didn't know, but New Yorkers take their pickles very seriously, says this article. That only real New Yorkers know what a "sour pickle" is.
Sour pickles (the longer a pickle is fermented, the more “sour it becomes; half sour pickles are cured quickly in a low-salt brine) are the overall best seller in the region. “Outside of New York, people don’t know sour pickles, says Owner of Guss's Pickles, Tim Baker. “True pickle lovers in other states look for half sour.

Half sour?  Now, I'm going to be craving a "real" sour pickle.  I won't rest until I can find one!   I love regional foods.  FULL sour for me...whatever that might be.

The Mid-west? Sweet or candied pickles reign! There is even a "Pickle Bar" at the Miles Farmers Market in Solon, Ohio. Started about three years ago, the bar takes in between $3,000 and $4,000 per week
Wow! Could a pickle bar make it here? In Winnemucca, Nevda? We just opened our first Wine Bar.....a Pickle Bar must not be far behind.

These pickles, that my mom makes have a "bite' to them, as they are packed with a jalapeno pepper. Which is funny, because my mom and sil have been making them this way for a few years, but I understand that Pickles are getting hotter—literally. A Southwestern influence is injecting heat into the brine or producing pickles mixed with hot peppers.

Who knew? My family--on the cutting edge!

Please...bear with me. I was trying to get the recipe out of my mom and she kept wanting to know why I'd want to make them...since I don't even have a canner for heaven's sake!
so....consider this recipe "family style".

These are the ones from my pantry
taken with my new camera.

Pickles with a Bite!
(and they really do, but they are really good.  Hot and Sweet)

pickling cucumbers
jalapeno peppers

Take 1 cup of sugar and 2 cups of vinegar and 2 t salt and boil this until the sugar dissolves.

Take 2 quart jars (sterilized) and pack them with the cucumbers, 1 jalapeno pepper, 1 large clove or 2 small cloves of garlic and a sprig of dill.

Pour the marinade over the top and seal the jars.

Then boil the jars for 7 minutes at a hard boil in your "canner".

Once sealed, let the jars set for 30 days before opening and eating.
You can make as little as 2 quarts or as many as 20 quarts---just do the math and adjust your ingrediants.

Pictures my mom sent me
from their pickle makng day.

By the way......
I am thinking of doing a "Mr. Linky" type of thing for the
"Twelve Weeks of  Christmas Cookies".
Just thinking right now... but am the Holiday Season too busy for most of us, or do you think I'd get a good turn out?
It's just going thru my brain, so wondering if anyone had any advice?

Monday, August 16, 2010

How many is too many?

BermudaOnion asked "Holy Cow, how many book clubs do you belong to?" It wouldn't matter how much I read tho, I could never do a review like she does.

(It's weird, no matter how much I read, my written vocabulary ceases to increase. I still use phrases like, "it was such a cool book." EEK! )

How many book clubs do I belong to?
Too many? Not enough? (sigh)

1. The Literary Guild.     The oldest organization in Winnemucca. That says something doesn't it? That the oldest organization...the one that has stuck thru thick and thin for 75 years is a literary organization. Way to go Literary Guild.
This Book club, is not a discussion group--until recently, a few years ago, we decided to pick one month during the year when we  all read the same book and have a discussion.       But for the most part, The Literary Guild, meets at a restaurant once a month for lunch and has a "book talk", a speaker from the group, talk about a book she has read. The talk lasts about 15-20 minutes and the rest of the hour and a half is spent visiting and eating.
As a group, every fall, we buy and donate dictionaries to every single 3rd grader in our county.

I really enjoy the relaxing book banter that takes place, and there is no pressure to read another book. Although there is pressure for me to dress up. I am one of the youngest at 51...and I swear some of those nice older ladies still wear hats and gloves to Literary Guild Luncheon.

2. The Methodist Women's Book Club-- At our group/church we only meet 4 times a year and often the book is one I've discussed in another book club.
It's very low key, but also very nice.  Usually about 4- 7 women in the congreations take part.

3. My very own on-line book club (anyone can join, if they want to, but for now it's just 4 of my friends who live in different places, but all like to read, so I've organized a club) I call it the "Hot Picks for Book Club Chicks"....because, rhymed. I am using a list that I got off "Book Club Girl" that came from a panel at BEA called "Hot Picks for Fall Book clubs". There are 36 titles, so we will be working our way down that list for quite some time.

4. I just decided to join in the "Word Shakers" on-line book club. Sheila at "One Person's Journey Through a World of Books".
it should be great fun---even if I can't articulate what I want to really say about the book in a blog.    eh....I'm a reader and lover of books, not a reviewer.

And even tho I love all those book clubs and the friends I've made thru them--these next two are my favorite---

5. The Lit Wits! We read, we cook, we eat, we drink wine.
Besides being a book club, it's also a dinner club. We try as hard as we can to keep our meals themed to the book we read.
Here are a few pictures.

a book or two....with some sticky notes!

I made them pose for me. 

6. Totally Lit! We read and have dessert. We've been meeting since Jan of 2003. We lost some members and gained some members through-out the year, but the core has stayed the same. And we had the most exciting news this year. One of our members published a book of "Poems for Boys". Check out the website here.

 We are way beyond excited for her! In these pictures we had a surprise "congratulation party" for her and we all took turns reading one of her poems from the book. We had champagne and flowers and it was a wonderful time.

Her she is  (Lisa) reading a poem from her book.

Massey reads, while Jolina looks on.
(we are on April's deck overlooking her beautiful yard)

Most of the Totally Lits  (some, sadly, were missing)

I love my book clubs.
Too many? I don't think so.  

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It's Monday. What are you Reading?

It's Monday, What are you Reading?

This weekly recap is hosted by Shelia of One Persons Journey Through a World of Books. Each week we recap what we’ve read and look at what’s coming up this week. If you’re interested head over to Shelia’s site and get involved!

Last week I finished "Baking Cakes in Kigali" by Gaile Parkin for my on-line book club. And then I passed the book on to someone in my church book club (we only meet quarterly), so I'll be discussing this one 2x for 2 different book clubs.  

Right now I'm in the middle of "Beneath a Marble Sky" by John Shors for my LIT WITS book club. I never did get a book to download onto my Mp3 player, yesterday and then my husband decided to go to Reno with me, so I started Beneath a Marble Sky this morning on the way (he was driving, I wasn't), and I got thru 126 pages. This one will be an easy, quick read, which is good since the LIT WITS meet on Thursday.

And today while I was in Reno, I picked up "Summer at Tiffany" by Marjorie Hart for the Word Shakers on-line Book Club. (I think I have to hurry to get thru that one, I have until the 22nd to get it done. And...I hope I filled out the form to participate. I think I did? )

Have a good Monday!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Real Refried Beans for IHCC and Cookbook Sundays

It seems as if I say my life is hectic all the time....and it really can't be all that hectic, can it? It can't be anymore hectic than say Heather's at Girlichef,

or Deb's at Kahakai Kitchen,   Natashya's at Living in the Kitchen With Puppies,  or Kim's at Stirring the Pot.

We are all busy people with hectic schedules, right?  And yet, they all manage to get multiple food posts done each week. I can't mange that.
They are my heroes. Seriously. I want to be them. I want to be as organized, and as dependable as they are. Every week, multiple challenges, multiple dishes...and blogs that look so damn (can I say damn?) good!!

I fall short of my goals every week. I'm a procrastinator, so I tend to wait till the last minute. I love the last minute. If it weren't for the last minute, I would get nothing done!

Take for instance, this afternoon, I've been trying to figure out how to download an audio book to my Zune (Mp3 player) , so that I can listen to a book while I drive to Reno tomorrow to see my beautiful grandbabies--who have started walking since they moved out of my house 2 weeks ago. This has taken me ALL AFTERNOON. And at the same time, I have been making refried beans from scratch, so that I can make a Mark Bittman "refried bean dip" for the IHCC challenge  that I have to have up and posted by this evening since I'm leaving town tomorrow.    Same thing with the audio book... I need it now, because I'm leaving town early in the morning and we are going to our friends for dinner tonight, so that leaves me very little time left.

Speaking of dinner tonight....I'm not hungry. I've eaten so much  of the refried beans and bean dip, I don't feel like eating dinner.
Psst.....refried beans from scratch are really, really good. Really good.
I had trouble moving on to make the "dip", which was my recipe of choice for this IHCC's potluck post. BUT, move on I did, and then I had to dig out the chips and well, everyone knows, bean dip and chips require a coke, so I had to pour a coke, and then that shot my Weight Watchers points all to hell.

I am meandering, I can tell. My food blog heroes are also very "focused", which I tend not to be.
Why? I think it's menopause. I just had my 51st birthday. I thought I was having a hot flash  yesterday, but the Handyman told me that I "wasn't. It was just hot out, he was hot too."

I don't remember when he became an expert on menopause?

See....I'm meandering again. It really must be menopause....hectic, crazy, uncontrollable menopause. That's it! That's my excuse. That's why I feel so unorganized.
I feel much better having figured that one out.

But still..... have you seen their blogs?  (sigh) They are still my heroes. I just wish one of them would come help me figure out my audio down-load.

I would  then share this bean dip with them and we'd sit and have a coke or iced-tea and I'd show them my cookbook collection and we'd talk recipes and share cooking stories and then.....then......I'd be later in getting this post up!!
But it would be worth it.  ~smiles~

It's Potluck week at IHCC.  And I decided to make bean dip. But first I had to make the refried beans. I soaked the beans, boiled the beans, used real bacon grease, smashed the beans...but I left them a bit chunky for some texture.

Refried beans don't photograph that well..... but let me tell you, O.M.G. I will make Mark Bittman's refried beans again and again. And again!  The smoky flavor of the cumin just made me want to keep eating and eating them. I had to STOP MYSELF so that  there would be enough left to make the dip,  which is really good too.  (but I really, really just loved the warm refried beans)

Pretty, they might not be, but just have a taste..... mmmmmm....... smoky and a bit of semi-crunchy onion, some jalapeño......mmmmm. Can you imagine the taste on your tongue? NO? Then you better make some: FAST because it's too good to miss.

I will be taking this to our friends house tonight to share.

I will also be adding this to "Cookbook Sundays"  at  Brenda's Canadian Kitchen.
I don't know how above-board this is......but since I did use one of my Cookbooks (Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything") for this dish, I am going to just assume it's okay. In my own cookbook countdown,  I've already counted this cookbook, but....I'm just going to go for it and enter anyway.  Go ahead and click on that "cookbook countdown" and it will take you to a picture of the cookbook I  used....and explain that I have over 218 cookbooks, that I am "counting down".  Albeit, very slowly.  So, Cookbook Sundays is just the thing for me!

Next week, I hope not to let my hecticness or my menopause make me such a procrastinator and I plan on making two...TWO....different posts for both of these challenges.
As a side note: The Handyman is home and he is devouring the bean dip. He says it's really good.

Now for the recipes

Real Refried Beans
page 418 of How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

1/2 cup bacon grease. (and it you don't have it, lard, or fat drippings from Mexican Chorizo, butter, or neutral oil, like grape seed)
3 to 4 cups drained cooked or canned pinto beans
1 cup chopped onion
1 T. ground cumin
1/4 t. cayenne, plus more to taste
Salt and pepper
Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped.

Put the fat in a large skillet, preferably non-stick, over medium heat. When hot, add the beans and mash with a large fork or potato masher until they are the consistency you like.

Add the onion, cumin and cayenne, sprinkle with salt and pepper and continue to cook and mash, stirring until the beans are more or less broken up (some remaining chunks are fine) and the onion is lightly cooked, about 5 minutes more. Thin with a little of the bean liquid until you get the consistency you want. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Garnish with Cilantro leaves.

Then I made the dip

Refried Bean Dip
adapted from page 92 in How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.

1 recipe Real Fried Beans
1/2 cup minced red pepper
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup peeled and seeded tomato--chopped
1 T. minced fresh jalapeño
1 t. red wine vinegar
1 big spoonful of sour-cream
salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients and serve with chips or fresh veggies.

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