Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday Musings

First and foremost...I read the new Maisie Dobbs, An Incomplete Revenge, over the week-end and it was wonderful. Jaqueline Winspear has a great gift for time and place in her writing. The mood in this novel was as dark as can be expected from a depression era tale. Now I must read Steve Womack.

We had our movie night Saturday. After I finished Maisie and cleaned my fridge, I made Orange Cappuccino Cookies. I used a basic chocolate chip recipe and used cappuccino chips and added orange zest. The next time I try to do this, I will use half chocolate chips and half cappuccino. And maybe up the Orange zest just a little.

I also made Ina Garten's Pan Fried Onion dip and it was divine. I could have put my face into the bowl and eaten it all. I stopped at Kroger and picked up a bag of Munchos to go with.

And it's a good thing, because we might have starved to death without it! I mean there we were, 6 of us, and all we had to eat was:

Hoppin' John soup
Slow Roasted Pork with Tuscan White Beans
Hot dogs with an abundance of toppings
1 foot long meatball sub
1 foot long club
Veggies and dip
Nacho chips with queso dip and salsa
Prunes wrapped in bacon
Onion dip and chips
Lemon cake
bread pudding
Cadbury Eggs and Lindor chocolates
Plus a wide variety of beverages

We watched The Red Shoes and Whiskey Galore between stuffing our faces and gossiping (just a little). It had been years since I had seen The Red Shoes and it was lovely. Whiskey Galore was a British comedy and quite charming.

I didn't get home until the wee hours Sunday so I slept in, and then tried to catch up on my sleep all day Sunday. I did not succeed. I've been up since 1:30 this morning and I am currently dead on my feet.

At 1:30, I tried fruitlessly to find something interesting to watch on tv and couldn't. However, at 2:00 DaVinci's Inquest came on and it was dark, and scary and very good. Unfortunately it was to be continued and I must (truly, deeply) hope that I am not awake for part two. After DaVinci's Inquest, I played Text Twist online for a while, then watch an episode of Roseanne. And at 5 I began getting ready for work.

So, what do you do when you can't sleep?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I am in "the in-between". I've been on a lucky streak lately, really enjoying everything I had to read. And then I realized I could either pick up an 800 page tome or I could find something new to read. Since I wasn't ready to settle in for a really long read, I picked up a supernatural suspense type romance and Walgreen's.

To quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, "Big mistake. BIG MISTAKE. Huge!"

I am keeping my fingers crossed that the three I ordered from Amazon last week will be on my doorstep when I get home.

I am waiting on the latest Maisie Dobbs, an Ann Patchett novel for general fiction, and the Steve Womack for our Mystery reading group.

I need something to read!!!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Success Story

My sister and I provided the Easter Dinner this year. Amy did a ham, Birds nest Slaw, deviled eggs, a chocolate cake (from Publix) and an almond pound cake with strawberries and whipped cream. I have to give her props, because my dear sister does not enjoy cooking, so this was done out of a sense of duty, which she performed admirably. I sometimes feel her efforts are worth twice the praise because of this.

I made chicken and dressing, green beans, carrot and raisin salad, squash casserole, pineapple casserole, banana cream pie, and coconut cake. My aunt and cousins provided sweet tea, unsweet tea, and rolls.

Here's the thing. My father kept telling me all week-end that it was the best dressing he had ever eaten. My aunt called to tell me it was the best dressing she had ever eaten. And my cousin David sent me an email telling me it was one of the best meals he had ever had. This was only my third attempt at cornbread dressing.

And the kicker is that my Aunt Nellie (Dad's sister) makes amazing dressing. The stuff dreams are made of. At family dinners, everyone waits anxiously to see if she has brought dressing. To hear my father tell me I made the best dressing he had ever had almost made me weep.

Southern Chicken and Dressing

1 pan Southern style cornbread
4 slices white bread
1 tube saltine crackers
3 stalks celery
1 medium onion
1 qt chicken broth
2 eggs
2 tsp salt
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 cooked chicken

Place chopped celery and diced onion into a small sauce pan with a cup of water and simmer until soft. Drain. Crumble cornbread, white bread, and saltines into a large bowl. Add onions and celery. Beat eggs and pour over bread mixture. Shred chicken and place in bowl with bread, eggs, and veggies. Add seasoning and begin adding broth until wet but not loose. Should take almost the full quart. Place in pan and back at 375 degrees until golden brown on top.

Pineapple Casserole

2 20 oz cans chunk pineapple in its own juice
6 tbs flour
1/2 c sugar
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 tube butter type crackers (Ritz, Club, etc)
1 stick melted butter

Drain the juice from one can of pineapple and place in a bowl. Add the 2nd can of pineapple with juice. Add flour, sugar, and cheese and mix well. Place in a 9 x 11 pan sprayed with cooking spray. Cover with crumbled crackers. Pour melted butter over the top. Bake @ 350 degrees 25 to 30 minutes, until top is brown and inside mixture is bubbly.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Momentary Rant

When I leave the office each day, my desk is clean. My in box is empty, there is not clutter, loose papers, or detritus anywhere. And it is clean. I keep a canister of Clorox Wipes in a drawer and clean any spills, crumbs, or dust before I leave.

So what is the deal with papers in my chair? I came in this morning and a fax that had come to my attention was in my chair. Because obviously there was just no place to put it on my desk!
What's with that?!

My desk consists of three sections. Let me describe it to you. To the left is a 4' long section that, at this moment, has a 5 x 7 framed photo of my parents and a 4 x 6 framed photo of my nieces in the corner where it meets the wall of my cubicle. Next is a triangular piece that is 3' x 3' x 3' on which is sitting my tape dispenser, my stapler, my calculator, my computer, a bottle of water, and a tube of lotion, and my phone. To the right is another 4' long section that contains a box of Kleenex and my "IN" box.

That's it.

So the question remains...why the chair?

Okay. Done now.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I stepped in dog poop this morning, on the way to my car. It was dark outside, so I didn't see it. But I smelled it all the way to work. I tried to get it off of my shoes, still in the dark, in a grassy spot in the parking lot.

I came in and sat at my desk to get everything up and running, and was overwhelmed by the smell. I looked at my right shoe...fine. I looked at my left...yuck! All over the side!

I hustled to the restroom with a plastic knife from my desk supply and scraped my shoe. Then I dampened paper towels with soap and warm water and washed off the sole and the leather. Then I used a Clorox wipe on my shoe.

Then I washed my hands. And I washed them again. And again.

Then I got ready to make coffee and washed them again. They are looking pretty pink right now.

But I have that smell in my head now, and it will not go away.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


It is incredibly dark and dreary and I so wish I could have stayed in bed this morning. Thunder and lightening and heavy rain make me long for a good book and fine coffee. Instead, I'm at work...again...on a Saturday! Don't get me wrong, I volunteered to work the occasional Saturday and really enjoy the extra money involved. But last week's snow and now a monsoon. AND OFFICE COFFEE!

I've been invited to a friend's tonight to play dominoes. I found some very ripe bananas at the Piggly Wiggly yesterday, so I think I'll make a loaf of banana bread to take with me.

Speaking of cooking, I made Chicken Lombardi last night and it was wonderful. Tender chicken breast cutlets pounded paper thin, dredged in seasoned flour and browned in butter, topped with a layer of mushrooms sauteed in butter, a mixture of grated Parmesan, grated mozzarella, and scallions, and a sauce of chicken stock and Marsala. OMG!

Well, the coffee is ready and the workday is about to begin. Why am I hungry?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

TOP CHEF...Do Not Watch While Hungry

What a great way to start the season! A cooking contest in Chicago must involve Chicago style pizza, mustn't it? And the pizzas looked good. Except for one that was all bread.

First, let's review the contestants and what I feel is the biggest controvery of any season, so far.

Andrew--who is extremely self-confident and quite braggadocious.
Antionia--sorry, I don't remember her.
Dale--Hung II. Seriously. Molded in the image of Hung. And not in a good way.
Erik--Like wow! What is this guy doing in the kitchen. He looks like a bounty hunter. He scares me.
Jennifer--Kewpie doll lesbian.
Lisa--another who had a poor edit last nite and I really don't remember.
Manuel--did not make an impression last nite. I'm blaming these on the edit. I'm sure he has a personality.
Mark--a cutie from New Zealand, heretofore to be called Cutie Kiwi.
Nikki--sorry, another that did not stand out last night.
Nimma--Well, hmmmm, uhhhh, they spent a lot of time on her. She didn't want to make friends, only wanted to play alone.
Richard--twin haircut with Jennifer.
Ryan--the pretty boy in the group. He claims to have been cooking since he was 11.
Spike--being a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I couldn't help but remember his name. And that he is greek.
Stephanie--cuddly short girl with curly hair...fluffy, like a true foodie should be.
Valerie--I'm so sorry I don't remember you.
Zoi--Jennifer's partner, also a chef from San Francisco.

Okay, I wouldn't make such a big deal of the lesbian couple if the show hadn't. I personally feel it gives them an unfair advantage. While everyone else is away from home and family and friends and loved ones, they have each other. These two women have their support system with them. It makes them stronger.

Done with my rant now.

The quickfire challenge was genius! Create your own signature Chicago style pizza. And they (most of them) looked fabulous. I was so hungry watching Padma and Rocco eat these that I had to go have bowl of cereal. Especially liked the idea of the peach with a sweet tea reduction. Rocco selected the best, exactly half of the group, and left the contestants to settle into their new digs. Nimma decided to separate herself from the group, as did Dale.

The elimination challenge came the next day and was mucho fun. The winning group from the night before had to each select a challenger from the losing group. The challenger then selected the item they would each cook. The choices? Crab cakes, Duck l'Orange, lasagna, chicken piccata, steak au poivre, eggs bennedict, shrimp scampi and souffle.

Richard and Andrew face off on crab-cakes. Andrew forgot to buy mayo and used panko bread crumbs which nobody liked.

Mark and Stephanie presented their duck l'orange. Both had taken an Asian swing, but Andrew failed miserably while Stephanie created a dish the judges did not want to stop eating.

Jennifer and Nikki did the lasagna. While Jennifer went for the winter veggies, Nikki made her own pasta and used goat cheese to make a more traditional version. The judges liked both, but preferred Nikki's.

Spike and Lisa did eggs bennedict. They loved both, but felt Lisa had better execution. And she used lobster.

Dale and Manuel made steak au poivre. Dale deconstructed his, while Miguel gave his a mexican flare. The judges liked both, but preferred Dale's.

Ryan and Valerie presented chicken picatta. The judges hated Ryan's. Really, really, really hated. They didn't like Valerie's either, but they hated Ryan's.

Lisa and Nimma did shrimp scampi. Nimma's shrimp was too salty and her cauliflour flan was not flan.

Eric and Zoi did souffle and neither did well. The flavors were there for both, but they made custard, not souffle.

In the end, Stephanie was declared the winner and Nimma went home.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

NBC and the Great Cross-over!

Tuesdays are very difficult for me. I am an American Idol fan, but I am currently caught up in The Biggest Loser. So I can record one and watch the other, but that requires more energy than I feel like expending, or I can flip back and forth.

I managed to catch all of last night's AI performances and keep up with BL! My favorite performances from AI were my new boyfriend David Cook, Chikeze, Jason Castro, and Amanda.

Now then, NBC has taken cross-overs to a new high. On next weeks episode of The Biggest Loser, the contestants will get a make-over, supervised by Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame. I love Tim. I'll have to tell my friend Ginny about this, because she has claimed Tim as her gay boyfriend.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Living Dead

We had book group last night, and I didn't get home until 1:45 this morning. I should have left earlier, but how do you remove yourself from a gathering of friends with good food and sparkling conversation?

Of course, we discussed the book (some) and it probably should have warranted far more discussion. A Brief History of the Dead is the story of a city in which the dead dwell until the last person who remembers them dies. The city suffers quite a bit change when a virus is unleashed on the unsuspecting population and wipes out almost everyone.

It asks the questions, how many people have made an impression on you that lingers in your memories? How many will remember you? And, what is the best thing you have ever done?

After book talk, we talked about politics and television, food and traffic, the new sins, and the governor of New York. We had a lovely meal of a ham and bean soup served with salad and cornbread, and gingerbread.

I have to pick the book for May...what to choose? What to choose?

Sunday, March 9, 2008


What more can I say about a perfect evening. There I was, Beethoven on the stereo, surrounded by bubbles and reading a lovely book. The smell of lavender hung heavy in the moist air of the bathroom as the lovely Fidelio encompassed me. I was no longer in a small town in Tennessee, but somewhere far more interesting and exotic, experiencing joy and despair, pain and ecstasy.

There is something wonderful in a book by a gifted author. And there is little else as wonderful as Beethoven's symphony number 9.

Now I'm off to slumber...perhaps to dream...carried on the wings of contentment.

Saturday, March 8, 2008


When I was a child...I loved snow. When I was an adult living in Birmingham, I loved the snow. And on days when I have nowhere to go and nothing to do, I love snow. But days like today....I CURSE THE HEAVENS!

It rained hard yesterday morning and misted all afternoon. About 4 it turned to sleet and then became snow around 6. This morning we have about 2 1/2 inches. No preventative measures were taken because of the rain yesterday. So this morning I started around 7:30 by using the broom to get the snow off of the car. Then I started the car and let it run with the defroster on high. I barely made it out of the parking lot, but once I reached the more travelled roads, I was okay...until I got to the exit for the office.

The ramp was a solid sheet of ice with a carpet of snow, as was the parking lot. Luckily, they had done a great job of covering the steps and sidewalks with a de-icer so I didn't do any damage to myself getting in the door. It looks like it may be thawing a little now...I hop so.

It was absolutely gorgeous outside with everything covered in a blanket of white. I really wish I could have stayed in my pjs, made a loaf of bread, and cuddled up under my favorite throw watching the Food Network and Turner Classic Movies while working my way through my To Be Read pile.

I started the book for our General reading group last night. It used to be called General Fiction, but in the last 12 or so years we've wandered into non-fiction a few times. The selection this month is A Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier. It is the tale of a city in which the dead dwell, carrying on much as they did in life, until the last person who remembers them dies. It is quite interesting and so well written that the words flow across the page. It won't take long to finish.

I'm also reading the latest by Patricia Briggs, Iron Kissed. The series is about shapeshifter living among weres, vampires, and other supernatural things in western Washington.

Ooooh! The sun is out, melting the ice rink that is our parking lot! I may make it home in one piece after all!

ETA: The reason I had no qualms about driving on icy roads in Birmingham is that they shut the city down when the weather was bad. You got a ticket if you were caught driving on closed roads.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Project Runway

So. I'm not surprised. Disappointed but not surprised. Christian's designs were over the top. I can't help but giggle about the feathers. The judges were drooling over the dress made of feathers but were repulsed by Chris' use of human hair. Of course, I had birds of all kinds so the feathers were far more disgusting to me. I am not a fan of skinny pants, but I did love his fuller cut slacks.

Jillian's collection was lovely and feminine. Her knitwear was amazing. It all looked wearable. Granted, I was not thrilled with some of the cut-outs, but no one does a jacket or ruffled sweater like Jillian. I hated the gold dress as much as I hated it in it's earlier incarnation at the museum challenge. Loved the black evening pantssuit.

Rami, Rami, Rami. I couldn't believe how the juges were drooling over this collection. I'm willing to concede the construction and technique ware amazing, but I felt like I was watching an old episode of Dynasty! Especially the blue dress with the saddlebags. I did like the cream/beige dress, but in general, I was underwhelmed.

Now, in the text of reality TV, this show has a very low financial return. $100,000.00 and a Saturn Astra. (BTW...Christian was the only contestant who could comfortably fit into an Astra. Believe me, I know of that which I speak). We must, then, assume that it is the exposure that is the final reward and even those who do not win are rewarded for their efforts.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

War In South America

Venezuelan troups are massing at the border to Columbia according to AOL news sources. 9000 troups...10 battalions...left by bus.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

An Absolutely Beautifuld Day

And I slept right thru it. Yesterday and today. It is currently 71 degrees outside. I've got my windows open. But I could never seem to wake up for any length of time.

I finished a couple of books this week-end. Black Angel by John Connolly and Thru the Grinder by Cleo Coyle. While both would be shelved in the mystery section of any library or bookstore, they have only one thing in common...murder. Black Angel was dark, dark, dark, with satanic overtones. Thru the Grinder bordered on romance. Hmmmm.

I gave in to a craving and made myself a lovely dinner of salmon crouquettes, pesto pasta, and salad. I even had sugar free ice cream for dessert. Now I have the absolute weirdest craving ever. I want artificial fruit. Sunkist orange soda, Country Time lemonade, Crystal Light peach iced tea, Grapico. Skittles, SweetTarts, Pixie Stix. These are things I don't ever buy. So I'm going to have to be creative and come up with something else.

And I'm sleepy again.