Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sometimes I Amaze Myself

I have a rather checkered past when it comes to driving. I've been ticketed for rolling through a stop sign and for speeding (twice). And I've had more than my share of accidents. The first six months I lived in Nashville, I had three.

I have not, however, had an accident in about 19 years.

And this morning I was once again amazed at what I good driver I have become. I was driving to work in the dark, freezing fog at about 55 mph when a silver mini van turned left across traffic. I stepped on the brakes and spun the wheel to the right, easing the car onto the shoulder and narrowly missing both the mini van and the sedan sitting in the driveway of the gas station where the woman driving the mini van had turned in blissful ignorance of my plight.

The gentleman in the sedan looked at me wide-eyed and then smiled and gave me a thumbs up. Something tells me that if I had gotten out of the car, he would have high fived me.

A quiet prayer of thanks for safety and skills, and I was back on the road.

By the way, I've not had a speeding ticket in 15 years, but only due to good luck, not any weight loss in my right foot.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Baking

I had every intention of getting it all done over the week-end. I really did. I woke up feeling sluggish on Saturday, but soldiered on. I made the dough for Rugelach and tossed it in the fridge to set up. A couple of hours later, my nose began doing it's impression of Niagra Falls while I was trying to assemble the cookies. I lost all sense of smell later that evening.

Last night I decided to make cranberry pistachio biscotti. I pulled out all of the ingredients and realized I didn't have orange oil. Okay, I'll use orange extract. I don't have that either. Why did I think I did? What to do? Well, I did have a bottle of Grand Marinier extract, so I decided to use it. And instead of regular dried cranberries, I upped the orange a little with orange flavored Craisins.

Since I haven't been able to taste anything since Saturday, I have no idea how they taste or if my substitutions worked. Oh, well. I'll find out Friday when I make a cookie tray for work.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Soldier Cookies and My New Obsession

Last Sunday I baked cookies for Operation Baking Gals and mailed them off on Tuesday. The day we had torrential rain. It was the most fun, ever! I love OBG because it gives me the opportunity to try new recipes. I love to bake cookies, but certainly don't need them hanging around where I could eat them. So I bake, sample a couple, and send the rest off to foreign lands. In this case, to Afghanistan.

This month I baked for David King, my old friend Mary Kay's hubby, who is currently on his second tour in Afghanistan. Here is a picture of David & Mary Kay and their two sons, Zach and David.


First I made Black Forrest Crinkle cookies, but they did not crinkle up as well as I thought. They did taste good, so I made a second batch of those.

And then I made Koulourakia (Greek Butter Cookies)

I'll give you three guesses on the first ingredient.


3/4 pound butter softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs, plus 2 eggs, for glaze on top
2 tablespoons orange juice with no pulp
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
5 1/4 cups flour

All ingredients should be at room temp. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter for 5 minutes. Add sugar to the mixture and beat another 5 to 7 minutes. Add eggs and beat until blended.


Add the orange juice and the vanilla extract.


In a large bowl combine the baking powder and baking soda with about 1 cup of flour and stir in the egg mixture slowly. Add the remaining cups of flour gradually. The dough is ready when it leaves the sides of your mixing bowl completely. The dough is soft and pliable.


Pinch off a piece of dough and roll out the dough into long rope like portions, fold over in half and twist.



Place the cookies on a greased baking pan.
Beat the 2 eggs in a small bowl to make the glaze. Brush the cookies on the pan with the glaze and bake in the oven for 25 minutes until golden brown.

Butter cookies done
Voila! Cookies. Enough to feed a unit of the National Guard.

Now, about my new obsession...If you haven't checked out this site, your really should. Start at the very beginning and read forward because there are a couple of entries from the same people regarding lawn chairs that are truly side splitting.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Decorations

Karen, Ruth, and I went on the Holiday Home tour Saturday, in which we toured several homes built in the 19th Century decked out in their holiday finest. Among them was Elm Springs which houses the offices of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (and if you think that doesn't make me uncomfortable, think again)and the Polk home.

They were all lovely and very Victorian and I was inspired to go home and pull out my Christmas "stuff".

While Alabama romped Florida (it is, after all, the season of miracles), I put up my tree.



My main decor theme, if you can call it that, is angels and I am happy to say that I have plenty. And I dearly love the Mary's Angels from Hallmark. I receive one each year for my birthday.



Aren't they just too precious?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's a long list....

The list of things that I don't care about.

I don't care about the state of Brad & Angelina's relationship.
I don't care about what Lady GaGa wore or didn't.
I don't care about where Brett Farve plays football.
I don't care about misbehaving royals.
I don't care about child custody agreements of celebrities.
I don't care about what Michelle Obama wears.

But mostly...I don't care about Tiger Woods and his wife. Really. It's none of my business. I wish the news media would believe me.

Monday, November 30, 2009

In High Gear

I left work around 2:30 Wednesday, headed for my parents' house. I arrived around 5:15 and immediately began cooking, making a dessert, a cranberry salad, and some cornbread for dressing.

Thursday morning began early when I baked a ham. Then breakfast of eggs, biscuits and...wait for it...ham! Cleaned the kitchen and moved on to make the dressing. Next, I cooked the squash and onions to make a squash casserole. While the squash was cooking, I assembled a mixed veggie casserole, then whipped up the squash casserole.

After I showered, I changed the table linens and set up the buffet area. Mom set the table.

Guests began arriving a little after one and dinner was ready by two. Done by 2:30. No one ate dessert. I cleaned the kitchen and was in stretch pants by five. A lazy evening watching Miracle on 34th Street.

Friday I put up the Thanksgiving "stuff" and did three loads of laundry. Dad brought in the Christmas tree and ornaments and we set a card table in front of Mom with the hooks and let her put hooks on everything that needed it. I decorated the tree.

Following a lunch, Dad settled in to watch the Alabama vs Auburn game and Mom & I decided to bake cookies. We baked a batch of Justines' (5 1/2 dozen) and Jam Thumbprint cookies (4 1/2 dozen.) Cleaned the kitchen. Sis and the nieces came over for left-overs.

Saturday I began bringing the rest of the Christmas decorations down from the attic. I was able to get quite a bit done. Mom and I set the dining room table with her Christmas china. Uncle Bill came over to watch Florida vs FSU game and Mom and I headed to KMart where we met Sis. Back by six with lots of treasures, I made a pot of chili for dinner and we settled in to watch Criminal Minds. (BTW--did anyone see the episode Wednesday nite? Wow. Not a happy little holiday episode.)

Sunday I stripped the bed and did three loads of laundry. Dad helped me flip the mattress. I finished decorating the house and wrapped some gifts. I was able to catch a little Barefoot Contessa and Paula Deen on the Food Network. Then I made a quick meat sauce and spaghetti, prepared a salad and warmed some garlic bread for lunch. Cleaned the kitchen and Sis and her hubby came by just as I finished. We chatted for a while before they left, then I loaded my car and hit the road around 3:30.

I was home by 6:15 or so, and, after unloading the car, cleaned a mess left by a very unhappy cat. Everywhere. I mopped, scrubbed, and vacuum. Then had to sit for cuddle time. It's not very exciting, sitting there, holding a cat, so I assembled some Christmas baskets. I finally made it to bed around ten.

Quite frankly, I'm exhausted. But I feel very good about everything I accomplished.

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's Time to get A Bakin'

I'm a team leader for the next round of Operation Baking Gals and this round I'll be sponsoring David King, the husband of my friend Mary Kay. This is second tour in Afghanistan and I want to inundate him with goodies. If you are out there and ready to bake, please check out the Baking Gals website and consider "Giving A Little Support".


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oh! I Wish...

I wish I were a gifted photographer or painter. I wish I were a writer of great talent. I wish these so that I could convey the incredible beauty of middle Tennessee on a clear November morn.

My commute this week has been exceptional; from the drive downhill on a street lined with maples in red and gold adding glory to pastel Victorians to point on the hill where I see the courthouse dome rising over the deep red oaks that surround it. Out the highway past the little white Missionary Baptist church nestled at the foot of the rolling green hills, past the 60's brick ranch sitting atop the rise, with it's bright red barn and freshly painted white fence. To the left there are two old white columned houses built in the day of functional beauty, farmhouses shaded by more golden maples set apart from the more modern brick homes build a century later.

And now the antebellums, resplendent in the morning sun, one guarded by the old slave built stone fence and tall, century old hickories and oaks; the other in sturdy brick, with tall hollies standing sentry in the drive.

Then past the old, faded red barn with it's once white silo and peeling white fence in the foreground as the hills rise behind in various muted shades of autumn.

All this beauty and rural charm and in my head I hear the great George Beverly Shea singing...Oh Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all thy hands have made...

Oh! I wish I had a better vocabulary with which to describe this, but let it suffice to say, I arrive at work mellow with a smile on my face.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sunday Gravy

My Italian friends int he NY/NJ area refer to this quite often. A slow-cooked tomato sauce that is thick and rich. I've made it myself twice, the second being this past Sunday (how timely!)

I made meatballs of ground beef and pork, oregano, salt, pepper, Italian bread crumbs, Parmesan, and an egg and browned them. I took them out and browned a couple of country ribs. I placed the meatballs and ribs in the fridge for later.

Then I sauteed chopped onions, green pepper, and porcini mushrooms in the pan before adding garlic. Then I added tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and seasonings and turned the temp down to low. I would stir occasionally, but not often. Around 4I added the meats back into the sauce and let them finish cooking.

I spooned the sauce over whole wheat penne with fresh grated Parmesan. I'm still eating it and I have frozen left-over sauce for another day.

Thanks to the ladies who helped me in the instructions (no real recipe). Excellent!

Friday, November 6, 2009

How To Dress

While other parts of the country have clearly defined seasons and know exactly when to pull out the sweaters, and other parts of the country have almost no seasonal change at all, I seem to live in the amorphous part of the states.

It was 32 degrees this morning with hard frost on my windshield. The predicted high for today of 66 degrees. How to dress? Well, I wound up with a 3/4 sleeve light weight cotton blouse, jeans (because it is casual day), a cardigan, and a denim trench coat. The office was 69 degrees when I arrived. It will reach 82 by 2 p.m. when the air conditioning will be turned on.

So here is the way my day will go. Take off trench coat upon arrival. Take off cardigan around 9 a.m. Turn on desk fan around 11 a.m. Turn off desk fan around 2 p.m. Put on cardigan around 3 p.m. Take off cardigan for drive home.

Each day, I try to calculate what to wear to work and predict the comfort level in the office. It has become a challenge. I love beautiful fall sweaters but do not see them in my immediate future.

On the other hand, a beautiful 66 degree autumn day is a thing to be treasured. I'm thinking of heading to the Amish community south of here tomorrow, the drive there will be so spectacular!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Halloween Recap and Stuff...

I won the Spooky Foods contest with my Finger Sandwiches.


The competition was tough. We had Mummy Dogs


and Barbecue Worms


Strawberry Ghosts


There was more, but these were the contenders.

Then Saturday, I went to party at a friend's. Can you guess who I was?


And Sunday I made Easy Brunswick Stew in my crock-pot. It was a Southern Living recipe and those are always good, but it made way too much! I am really tired of Brunswick stew. I see Chinese in my immediate future.

I've been reading lots of supernatural/werewolves/vampire stuff lately and it's all been really good. I loved Soulless by Gail Carriger. It is a Victorian romance with werewolves and vampires and ghosts. Too cute by far.

And finally...

I was shopping for life's little necessities the other day. Standing in the deodarant aisle at Target, I was struck by the realization that I've been using Secret for over 30 years. My mom bought my my first stick when I was in high school!
Is that brand loyalty, or what?

Friday, October 23, 2009

I Just Had This Conversation

I was trying to find the roof for an SUV that seems to have gone on walk-about and no one seems to know where it is. So I made a rather snarky remark about the fact that the transport company had lost a 10' x 5' 35 lb box.

The woman responded with, "It's not lost, we just don't know where it is!"

I've got her name and address to send her a copy of the dictionary.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Halloween Finger Food

We are having a Spooky foods contest at work on the 30th, and I've been diligently working on prototypes for my entry. I adapted a favorite George Stella recipe to make Smoky Fingers.

You'll need this.

Deli sliced smoked turkey
3 oz softened cream cheese
1/4 mayo (light is fine)
2 T chopped dill
pickled green beans
cocktail onions
red food coloring

Mix the cream cheese, mayo, and dill. Halve some cocktail onions and place in a bowl with brine and food coloring (not too much).


Spread with cream cheese mixture and place a green bean in center.


Roll it up and tuck under one end.

Pull off one layer of cocktail onion and trim to resemble fingernail. Place on folded end of "finger".


I'm looking for the right bread to place these on for "finger sandwiches".

Monday, October 19, 2009


I've joined a soup cook-along and if there was ever a perfect day for soup, it was today! Gray and cold. So this week we made Zuppa Toscana, a creamy sausage soup that was quite tasty and perfect with some crusty bread. I found a nice rosemary bread at the super market.

Zuppa Toscana

Makes: 6-8 servings

1 lb ground Italian sausage
1½ tsp crushed red peppers
1 large diced white onion
4 Tbsp bacon pieces
2 tsp garlic puree
10 cups water
5 cubes of chicken bouillon
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb sliced Russet potatoes, or about 3 large potatoes
¼ of a bunch of kale
Sauté Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in a large pot. Drain excess fat, refrigerate while you prepare other ingredients.


In the same pan, sauté bacon, onions and garlic for approxiamtly 15 mins. or until the onions are soft.


Mix together the chicken bouillon and water, then add it to the onions, bacon and garlic. Cook until boiling.

Add potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour.


Add heavy cream and cook until thoroughly heated.


Stir in the sausage.

Add kale just before serving. Delicious!


Buon appetito!

Monday, October 12, 2009

My friend Carolea from the Contessa's Kitchen board posted this recipe from Land 'o Lakes on Friday. So, of course, I had to make it over the week-end.

Chocolate Lava Drops

1/2 cup butter
3 (1 oz.) squares bittersweet baking chocolate
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
32 dark chocolate kiss-shaped candies, unwrapped
1/2 cup sparkling sanding sugar - or sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place butter and bittersweet chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high (100 percent power), stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth (1 to 2 minutes). Cool 10 minutes.

lava cookie 1

Add 3/4 cup sugar and egg to melted cooled chocolate mixture; beat at medium speed until well mixed. Reduce speed to low; add flour, baking powder and salt. Continue beating until well mixed.

lava cookie 2

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Press 1 chocolate candy into each ball; form dough around candy to completely cover.

lava cookie 5

lava cookie 4

Place 1/2 cup sugar in small bowl; roll balls in sugar.

lava cookie 6

Place 1 inch apart onto lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until set. Cool 5 minutes on cookie sheet. Serve warm.

lava cookie 12

MAKE AHEAD TIP: Shape cookies; roll in sugar. Place in container with tight-fitting lid. Store at room temperature up to 2 hours or refrigerate until ready to bake.

REHEATING TIP: Place 2 cookies onto microwave-safe plate. Microwave on HIGH (100 percent power) until centers are melted (15 to 30 seconds). Do not over-heat

Yield: 32 cookies

Okay. I thought I was getting dark chocolate kisses, but got milk chocolate. Some woman was parked in front of them at Kroger and I had to reach across her shopping cart and grab a bag. I can only imagine how good they are with semi-sweet kisses. They are pretty darn good with milk chocolate.

lava cookie 8

Yummy goodness! Warm chocolate! Excellent! Please excuse the messy kitchen (hanging my head in shame).

Monday, October 5, 2009

Movie Night Munchies

We had movie night at Ginny's Saturday and, as usual, it was fab! She picked two great westerns with Jimmy Steward, directed by Anthony Mann...Winchester '73 and The Naked Spur.

And of course, we had plenty to eat. Ginny baked a ham and some sweet potatoes and whipped up some absolutely delish baked beans. Karen made a sweet potato and black bean salad and fig and caramelized onion tart. I made savory thumbprints with my Apricot Pepper jelly.

And I made this:


One-Dish Black-eyed Pea Cornbread
Souther Living

This uniquely Southern recipe works as a tasty appetizer when cut into small squares or as a main dish when paired with a tossed green salad.

1 pound spicy ground pork sausage
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup white cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
3/4 cup cream-style corn
1/4 cup chopped pickled jalapeño peppers
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles

Cook sausage and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes, stirring until sausage crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain.

Combine cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking soda.

Stir together eggs, buttermilk, and oil until combined. Add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. (Batter will not be smooth.) Add sausage mixture, peas, and remaining ingredients to batter, stirring well.

Pour into a greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until golden and set.


This is a great cool weather dish. It can be lighted by using less oil (as little as 2 T, but I use 1/4 cup), fat free buttermilk, and light cheese. I use mild or sage sausage because the peppers back enough punch for me. It can be made ahead and frozen before baking. And it is easily halved. I like to serve it with a green salad. That pretty much makes a meal.

Forgot to add that we had a beautiful birthday cake in the shape of a hat from the Publix bakery (always excellent) in honor of Ginny's birthday tomorrow.

Friday, October 2, 2009

In Need Of A Good Laugh

Very, very bad news at work this week. No new regime. No hope. No future. Bad.

So I headed to the video store for something funny. I rented four recent releases and none of them were funny.

Sunshine Cleaning--dark
Dance Movie--too stupid
AdventureLand--stupid and dark

I should have just gone thru my TNT DVDs at home. Better Off Dead, 27 Dresses, Miracle At Morgan's Creek, Strictly Ballroom.

But then I found two great websites that made me smile. Check them out.

Every DIYer's nightmare and every car owner's worst fear.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Workplace Changes

There is a new regime moving into our office. We've been sent a memo (with pictures) about how our workspace should look.


Here is part of the memo:

Remove all items from the cube walls
Only 3 personal items on your desk (you may put a personal item on the cube wall)
At the end of the day, everything on your desk top should be put away.....I mean Everything...including the stapler! Your Computer, phone and 3 personal items should be the only items left out.

So I began the task of depersonalizing my desk. Sorry, Mom & Dad--it's between you and the tissues and, with allergy season in high gear, the tissues win. Sorry Sis! Your picture or the desk-top fan. Uhhhh...ever hear of hot flashes?

I was cleaning out my desk and found a brand new, still in the package regulation baseball. Please don't ask me why I have a brand new, still in the package, regulation baseball in my desk drawer--I DON'T KNOW!

One of my co-workers has a six year old son, so I gave it to her. He insisted on writing me a note. In very deliberate, first grade printing. It reads:

Thank You
for the

Is that just too cute?

I'd hang it on the wall, but I foolishly opted to put a calendar up. Oh! Well!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Allergy Season

Who loves Clariton D? I love Clariton D!

My fall allergies set in on Saturday. It started with dry throat, so I drank a large soda at the movie. (Have you ever seen a large soda at the movies? And I made it all the way thru without having to go to the bathroom!)

Then I went to Virginia's for book group and my nose started running. Then I started sneezing. By last nite, my chest was feeling congested.

I picked up Clariton D on my way to work this morning. Wow! I feel so much better!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Just Too Funny!

The good people at roflrazz had a contest to create the best Kanye West photo. This is the winner...

see more Lol Celebs

Goodness! Will I go to Hell for finding this sooo funny?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Defining Moments

I just looked up arrogant, crude, boorish SOB and guess what I found? A picture of Kanye West!

I then I looked up graciousness and found a picture of Beyonce'!

What was I doing, watching the MTV Musice Video Awards anyway? And why do they keep inviting Kanye West?

And for the record, Taylor Swift would not have been my choice, but I didn't vote. Being a single lady, I think Beyonce's video was fab! And I can't discount my girl Kelly Clarkson's My Life Would Suck Without You.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Up & At 'em

Okay...the day started with grim conversation. Dad handed me his "To Do" list of things when he can no longer take care of himself or Mom by either illness, mental capacity, or death. Six thirty in the morning over coffee--not really what I wanted to hear!

It's Mom's last few days in the nursing home, so I've decided to make cookies and take to the nursing staff. More Jam Thumbprints, but I've never met anyone who would say no to them. After all, there's three sticks of butter in the recipe!

It seems that Mom is insisting I have a little birthday celebration at the nursing home this afternoon and it is driving Dad crazy! He is a list maker and keeps asking me for suggestions. Now he's making me crazy!

I have one goal for the day--a pedicure. My feet need comfort!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Birthday Blues

I've had a hard time celebrating my birthday since I turned 30. I cried all day that day. So since that time, I've tried to stay busy and not think about it. And then, in 2001, it became impossible to celebrate.

How can you think about trivialities and birthdays on the day the world changed? Innocence was lost. Thousands of people died. Our culture was changed.

I stopped celebrating on my birthday. I will celebrate before or after, just not on the day. And I have found that I am not the only one. I've met three other people who share my birthday who do the same thing...celebrate another day.

My family has recognized that fact, but it still upsets my mother. She wrote me a letter a few years ago in which she told me that, while it was a very dark day in American history, September 11, 1958 was one of the happiest days of her life.

As I've cried on almost every birthday for the past 20 something years, I cry today but for an entirely different reason. I cry for the loss of innocence, the loss of lives, the changed landscape. I cry for families facing the day without loved ones who died eight years ago in the towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. I cry for families facing the day without loved ones who have died on foreign battlefields since that day. I cry for the leaders of our country and others who must lead in times of turmoil. And I cry because, while September 11 may represent one of the happiest times in my mother's life, 9/11 is a very sad day for all of us.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Back In The Kitchen

I've been cooking again! Yeah! I love cooking! I hate cleaning up, that is something for another day.

I was inspired by the winner of The Next Food Network Star this week because she made one of my favorite foods...salmon patties...on her show $10 for Dinner. She made 12 patties from I can of salmon.

I am a strong proponent of canned salmon because it is still wild salmon. And very inexpensive to cook.

Melissa with the french last name added things to her salmon that I had never tried. She used baked potato for a filler and added mayo. I generally use saltines for filler and I've never used mayo. And I like to throw in a little dill, but instead she added bacon. And she added parmesan to the bread crumbs.

So I tried it her way. The potato and mayo made for a much lighter pattie, but I missed the intense flavor of the salmon. (It was great, however, for re-warming the next day, the scent of fish did not permeate the building). The bacon was pretty much wasted. I think the next time I make salmon patties, I'll add the mayo and maybe the potato, but will return to adding dill. But the parm in the bread crumbs I will definitely give two thumbs up!

As if the salmon patties weren't decadent enough, I fried a pan of okra to go with the salmon and mixed up a little cole slaw.

Perfect Fried Okra

2 c sliced okra
1/2 c white corn meal
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/4 tsp salt

Place okra in a bowl and toss with corn meal and salt. Place half the oil in an iron skillet on medium high heat. When oil is hot, add half the okra. Stir often to keep the okra from burning. Place on paper towel lined dish when golden brown. Repeat. Salt while hot from skillet.

I could eat this stuff like popcorn!

You can see Melissa's recipe here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'm Really Beginning to Hate Wednesdays

I spoke to Dad this morning and we've come to the decision that Mom will go to a nursing home for intermediate care.

I hate nursing homes. They seem so lonely. And sad. And I really hate the thought of my mother being there.

However, I know that she will get therapy she needs and constant care without draining my father physically. Dad is going to make the arrangements today at a facility across the street from the hospital. In my heart, I know that family and friends have spent time there and thrived. And her doctor works there three days a week.

Can you tell that I'm trying to cheer myself up?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

That Call You Never Want To Get

Came this morning. Mom was in ICU. She got sick last night and everyone suspected she was having another stroke. They called the paramedics and then took her to the ER where they waited until the wee hours. She seemed much improved so Sis & BIL headed home. Then she crashed. She was moved to ICU at 5 a.m. this morning.

I drove down in record time and arrived in time for the second visitation. She was on a respirator and her hands were restrained. By 5 p.m., she was off the respirator and the restraints came off. We went in at 8 p.m. and she was in such a deep sleep she could not be wakened.

Tomorrow her doctors will all meet to discuss the next steps. Her pulmonary specialist, her cardiologist, her primary care physician, and her neurologist.

In the meantime, there are two other families hunkered down in the ICU waiting room. Huge families. They come with infants, toddlers, and pre-schoolers. Teens with ear-plugs. There is all assortment of Alabama Crimson Tide apparel--from T-shirts to trucker caps. There is one young woman who comes out crying each time she visits her loved one. There is one woman who never stops talking. She talked for four hours solid at one point. Now the sound of her voice makes me cringe.

One observation about the hospital. The waiting room is near the same day surgery entrance, so we pass through fairly often. There is a wheel chair at the entrance that must be four feet wide. Then, there is a sign in the ladies room "Weight Capacity for Toilet is 500 lbs." Is anyone else frightened by this?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wonder What Prissy Is Doing Right Now?

I often find her asleep on my desk...Could she be doing this?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Comfort Food

I went to visit my folks this week-end. I have two responsibilities while there...take Mom shopping and provide home-cooked meals. Dad will grill and occasionally fix a real meal, but mostly they live off of frozen dinners.

After spending 1 1/2 hours in Tuesday Morning and another 2 hours at Publix with Mom pushing the speed limit on that little cart up to about 100 yards per hour, we made it home.

I made a pantry meatloaf in which I threw into whatever I found in the pantry, fridge and freezer. I served it with the Pioneer Woman's Crash Hot Potatoes and a salad. Dad really liked the meatloaf, and so did I. You never really know with Mom.

Pantry Meatloaf

1 3/4 lbs ground chuck
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
2 eggs
1 pkg onion soup mix
1/2 sleeve Ritz Roasted Vegetable crackers
1/2 c KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce
2 T A-1 Steak Sauce

1/4 c KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce
1/4 c catsup

Mix together eggs, BBQ sauce, and steak sauce and set aside. Blend ground beef, cheese, and onion soup mix with crumbled crackers. Add egg mixture and blend well. Form into a loaf in a greased 9 x 13 pan and bake @ 375 for 45-50 minutes. Mix together catsup & BBQ sauce. After 30 minutes, spread on top of loaf and allow to finish cooking. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

After I cleaned the kitchen, Mom wanted to make some cookies. Since she so seldom wants to do anything, we made Paula Deen's Thumbprint cookies. Mom was so proud! She kept insisting that Sis and her hubby have some when they dropped by.

I decided to cook Honey Curry chicken breasts for lunch yesterday, with fresh green beans. Since we had had potatoes the night before, I was reluctant to use more for a starch for lunch. I found some left-over corn that Dad had grilled on Thursday and it became the inspiration for a salad.

Corn & Tomato Salad

4 c roasted corn
2 c diced and seeded tomatoes
1/4 c fine diced onion
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
4 slices bacon cooked and crumbled
1/4 c mayo
Salt & pepper to taste.

Mix and serve.

I brought home two market baskets of tomatoes and am contemplating more tomato basil jam, salsa, and/or tomato pineapple relish.

What to do? What to do?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ahhhh! Refreshment!

Back when I had a glut of cherries, one of my online buddies suggested I put them in a jar covered with a sweetened vodka (white corn syrup and vodka) and keep them in a dark place. I asked her what to do with them and she said "Eat the cherries and drink the vodka!"

It has been one hellacious week at work, so last night I pulled out that jar of drunken cherries. I poured a little of the juice into glass of ice and topped it off with Diet Coke. Can I tell you just how good it was? It was amazing! Not too sweet, but barely sweet, without the burn of cheap vodka (like I would buy the good stuff!).

The vodka came from the same bottle that I am currently brewing vanilla beans in, before I added the beans.

But I have a little secret...I didn't have any white corn syrup, so I used honey. I added 2-3 Tbs (this is not an exact science) to 1 cup of Vodka. I cut the stems on the cherries about 3/4" long. What a cool thing! I can hardly wait for next summer to try this again.

And what about blueberries? Wonder if I could do the same thing? Hmmmm....

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It Struck Me As Odd

On my last visit to my parents, in which I raked up on tomatoes, my sister and I were sitting at the table with Mom, talking. The subject, for some reason I cannot recall, was pecans.


(A little back-ground is required here. My mom's cousin has pecan trees on her lake property and last year they were bountiful. She and her hubby brought bags of pecans to Mom & Dad who shelled and picked them while watching TV. They currently have 18 quarts in the freezer. Now back to our story...)

Mom made a sullen comment that someone kept using all of her pecans. Sis asked who would do such a thing. Mom rolled her eyes in my direction. Sis asked what I was doing with all of Mom's pecans.

Hmmm...I did make my father a carrot cake for Father's day. Left it there. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing....Oh, wait! In January, I made a batch of spiced pecans for my parents to snack on and left them...in January.

I was telling a co-worker because this had completely baffled me. Mom is generous. I once mentioned how much I coveted her slotted spoon. I now have 8 of them. There is a new one each time I visit. So why the pecan paranoia?

Seriously...there are 18 quarts in the freezer! And neither she or my dad cooks with them!

My co-worker thinks that each time I visit, I should make two pecan pies. And pecan sandies. And the fruit cake cookies that call for 10 cups of pecans.

Any ideas out there to further use up my mom's pecans? I'm open to suggestions.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Portrait in Red


I've eaten tomato sandwiches, bacon and tomato sandwiches, had buttered toast with sliced tomato for breakfast, and took Frank Stitt's Cornbread Panzanella to movie night. I think I prefer Ina Garten's Panzanella recipe, but this was pretty tasty, too.

I also made salsa and tomato basil jam which I canned. I have a tomato for lunch today and one for tomorrow and I'll be done with Dad's tomatoes. I'll have to buy more.

In the photos, the salsa is the lighter red...9 pints. The tomato and basil jam is the darker red...4 pints. And then I made a cherry jam using Splenda. It's the darkest red...4 1/2 pints.

This is Mom's recipe for salsa, which was a bit complicated to interperet.


11 large tomatoes
2 bell peppers (I used one green and one orange)
6 jalapeno peppers
2 large onions
1 TBS pickling salt
8 cloves garlic
1/3 c cider vinegar

Peel and seed tomatoes. Medium dice the tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers and place in a soup pot with finely diced jalapenos and minced garlic. Add vinegar and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for an hour to 75 minutes. Place in sterilized jars. Apply lids and rings and place in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

You can adjust the heat by adding and deleting the jalapenos. Being a wimp, I only used 5 and it was more than enough heat for me.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

notes from the meeting

For all the middle-aged Trekkies out there...

notes from the meeting

Shared via AddThis

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tomato Time!

I received an emergency email last Thursday from my dad stating that I needed to come down ASAP. Oh my! Had Mom taken a turn for the worse?


Tomatoes were in! In fact, on Thursday he picked three five gallon buckets full of tomatoes. So I re-arranged my plans for the week-end and headed south. I came back last night with a bushel of tomatoes. Sis took a bushel with her. We left Dad with about half a bushel and many, many more to be picked this week.

I gave about half to friends and co-workers, put some of the greener ones in the windows to ripen, and pulled out enough to make salsa and to eat tomato sandwiches for at least a week.

My friends and family consider me a heretic because I don't eat my "mater" sandwiches on white bread but prefer whole wheat. I do, however, slather it with Hellman's mayo and sprinkle it with sea salt. I've been known to add chopped basil for brighter taste. But a basic tomato sandwich is divine.

I may go for a little panzanella, too. Hmmm...Caprese salad, anyone?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ducks In A Row


My dad always says "Get your ducks in a row"...meaning, make sure everything is in order and you have everything you need before starting a project.

Many years ago, Mom was big into country geese and made dozens of them in ceramics. They usually wound up atop the upright piano. One day my dad was waiting in the car for her and that little mean streak she tries to hide came out. She stopped by the piano and began arranging the geese. When Dad came back into the house he stared at Mom, who smiled sweetly and told him...

"I just couldn't leave until my ducks were in a row." Dad is a sweet, long-suffering man, so he just rolled his eyes and asked her if she was about done.

The point of this story is that I find myself using this phrase often. And each time I do, I think of that incident.

It's like those moments when you suddenly realize "OMG! I sound just like my mother!"

Monday, July 6, 2009

Day 12

Michael Jackson is still dead. Alert the media!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I'm Pickled...Or How I Spent My Holiday Week-end

I got up Friday morning and straighted the house a little. Then I headed out to have my car serviced and run it through the car wash. And then I hit the road for Alabama to spend the holiday with my family.

Friday evening I made a vegetable salad that needed to marinate overnite. Next, I made dill pickles. I cheated and used a packaged mix for these but I used Dad's home-grown cucumbers.

pickles july 09(2)

Saturday morning I made banana bread and baked beans. Dad cooked ribs and corn on the grill. I also made some sugar free strawberry ice cream. So our 4th of July celebration included ribs, marinated veggie salad, roasted corn, sliced tomatoes, diced cantaloupe, baked beans, banana bread, and strawberry ice cream. Not bad for 6 people!

Today I put the finishing touches on a batch of bread & butter pickles I started on Monday. The photo above shows the dill pickles on the left and the B&Bs on the right.

Bread & Butter Pickles

2 gallons sliced cucumbers
1 1/2 c pickling salt
2 c vinegar
1 oz alum
5 lbs sugar
4 tbs mustard seed
2 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs celery seed
12 whole cloves
6 c vinegar

Place cucumbers in a non-reactive container with salt and enough water to cover. Refrigerate three days.

Drain the cucumbers and combine with vinegar, alum, and enough water to cover. Refrigerate two days.

Drain the cucumbers. Bring to a boil sugar, spices, and vinegar and pour over cucumbers. Refrigerate overnite.

Boil the pickles for 10 minutes and place into sterilized jars. Place in boiling water bath.

I can hardly wait to make a turkey sandwich to have with the B&B pickles. Ham for the dills.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Really???? You Want to Go There????

It has been one heck of a day at work. Seriously crazy. On top of a super crazy week last week. But we have been handling it.

Or so I thought.

I offered a co-worker some popcorn left from my afternoon snack. Another co-worker stated, "I don't know how you have time to eat popcorn...I'm too busy!"

Now I sat down and reviewed todays stats. I take calls. So far today, I have out performed her by 30% and everyone else by considerably more. And I've worked two reports and sorted through a couple of difficlut logistical problems.

I just need to vent here, but there is steam coming out of my ears right now. Nobody in this place can keep up with me and I am !@#$%^&* tired of hearing the martyr cry of co-workers who seem to think that nobody on the planet works as hard ass they do.

This is an easy job. Frustrating, but you sit in a climate controlled office, talking on the phone, typing, and doing a little detective work. We aren't out digging ditches or scrubbing toilets. DO. NOT. IMPLY. THAT. I. AM. NOT. WORKING. AS. HARD. AS. YOU!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day Carrot Cake

I gave my dad a beautiful bird bath for Father's Day and he really liked it. He's still watching for the birds to find it, though. So Saturday morning I asked him what he wanted me to cook for Sunday. His menu: pot roast with potatoes and carrots and onions, green beans and fried squash from the garden, cantaloupe. He pointed to a brownie mix in the pantry and suggested I make it for dessert.

"I could do that," I responded, "but I was thinking about making a carrot cake."

His eyes lit up and he smiled. "Really? Would you do that?"

You see, I know that my dad with the super sweet tooth has an all-time favorite dessert and that is Carrot Cake. And the fact that I was willing to make one for him thrilled him to no end.

So I took Mom to Tuesday Morning and then headed to Publix. She is almost as slow in the motorized cart as she is with her walker. And the basket kept filling up with things at her eye level. Ranch dressing, olive oil, syrup, etc. We got our shopping done and headed home.

I started grating carrots after lunch. If you've never made carrot cake, you have to know that you can't use the food processor to grate your carrots...you have to use a box grater. I used a recipe from Bon Appetite given to me by an online buddy, Diane. And I followed her advice and cut the oil from 1 1/2 cups to 1/2 cup and used 1 cup of applesauce.

I'm not big on cake baking. I'm not really very good. But this cake was quite tasty. It even looked halfway decent.

father's day

Just a little lopsided. Not too bad.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I can only get three radio stations on my clock radio...the oldies station, the farm reports, and 650 a.m. Classic Country. It is set on the country station because of the local news and weather, and I'm discovering some great songs I'd never heard and/or appreciated before. Like this little treasure from 1972. Please note the songwriter....

(Shel Silverstein)
Loretta Lynn - 1972

They say to have her hair done, Liz flies all the way to France,
And Jackie's seen in a discothèque, doin' a brand new dance.
And the White House social season, should be glitterin' 'n gay.

But here in Topeka, the rain is a fallin',
The faucet is a drippin' and the kids are a bawlin'.
One of 'em a-toddlin' and one is a crawlin',
And one's on the way.

I'm glad Raquel Welch just signed a million dollar pact,
And Debbie's out in Vegas workin' up a brand new act.
While the TV's showin' Newlyweds, a real fun game to play.

But here in Topeka, the screen door's a bangin',
The coffee's boilin' over and the wash needs a hangin'.
One wants a cookie and one wants a changin',
And one's on the way.

Now, what was I doin', Jimmy get away from there,
Darn, there goes the phone.
Hello honey, what's that you say?

You're bringin' a few ole buddies home? You're callin' from a barn?
Get away from there! No, not you honey, I was talkin' to the baby.
Wait a minute, honey, the door bell,
Honey, could you stop at the market and...Hello?
Hello? Well I'll be.

The girls in New York City, they all march for women's lib,
And Better Homes and Garden shows, the modern way to live.
And the pill may change the world tomorrow, but meanwhile, today.

Here in Topeka, the flies are a buzzin',
The dog is a barkin' and the floor needs a scrubbin'.
One needs a spankin' and one needs a huggin',
Lord, one's on the way.

Oh gee, I hope it ain't twins again!

Is that great or what? OH, Loretta, the places you will go!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lucky Finds

Last year about this time I found Lucy Addison Allen's Garden Spells at Kroger. I usually toodle through the books section there, just to see if there is anything new and am almost always disappointed. If I read John Grisham or Sandra Brown, I'd be in luck, but for most of my reading taste, Kroger isn't the best place to shop. The Bantam Discoveries were an amazing find because, after Garden Spells, I found The Wedding Officer by Anthony Cappella. Both of these books made my summer of 2008 memorable for reading material.

I ran into Kroger last Monday for some Diet Cokes that were on sale and wandered into the book aisle. And once again, I was pleasantly surprised. I found Eve of Darkness by S.J. Day, the first in an urban fantasy series. Eve had a brief, steamy relationship with Alec Cain 10 years ago and because of that, she has been "marked" and is now a member of God's enforcers. Alec is back in her life as her mentor, training her in the tracking and killing of demons and other devilish creatures. Alec's brother, Reed Abel, is there, too, to guide her. He also likes using her to irritate his brother.

I read this book in one night and loved it! And the best part of all? The second in the series just came out! I bought Eve of Destruction Sunday and finished it last night. Where the first book created the world and the history of the characters, this one took me full force into the action and left me with a mountain of emotional turmoil. Luckily, I only have another month to wait for the third in the series, Eve of Chaos.

If you like urban fantasy, are a fan of Patricia Briggs and Mark del Franco, you will really enjoy these books.

And for something really different....

I received a copy of Mr. Malcolm's List from the author, Susan Allain. This book was a refreshingly light romp in Regency England with shades of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen. Mr. Malcolm is highly desirable "among the ton" but is very cautious of his heart. He has a list of attributes for his perfect mate, an almost impossible standard. When one young woman finds out about the list after Mr. Malcolm has rejecter her, she sets her cap for revenge by presenting him with an ideal candidate who will then break his heart.

No sex, no violence, no foul language, just a pleasant little romance.

Great summer reads for two different genres that I can highly recommend.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mother's Day, Book Group, and Funerals

I met my book group buddies on Friday evening to attend the visitation for our friend Connie Welch. Jim seemed genuinely glad to see us. Afterwards, we went to Ellendale's and had a lovely meal.

I headed out to visit with the folks for Mother's day on Saturday. The flowers I had sent arrived on Friday, so I told Mom I would cook anything she wanted for dinner on Sunday. She wanted corn on the cob. Hmmm. To go with, I made one of my family's favorite dishes, Company Chicken Casserole, green beans, spinach and strawberry salad, and rolls. Strawberries with angel food cake for dessert.

We all went to the funeral home Sunday evening for visitation for my cousin Patricia. I felt so sorry for her children. Poor Tracy could not stop crying and Stephen looked, well, hollow. They had lost their father a few years ago, and now they were without their mother. Even in their 30s, this is a devastating loss. Patricia was 63, never smoked a day in her life, and died of lung cancer.

Last night was my general fiction book group, and we discussed Angels & Demons by Dan Brown. We had quite a lively intercourse on the subjects of religion and science. Then Lesa, who constantly tells us she doesn't cook, served the best meal of roast chicken, green beans, mac & cheese, and potato salad. She can no longer get out of cooking again!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Musings from the Middle of the Night

I was up at 2:30 this morning and could not go back to sleep. I tried the self-hypnosis but adult ADD would set in early...toes relax, arches relax, ankles relax, where did I put that bill?

Next came the contemplation of how best to sleep under the ceiling fan. On my right side, my ear hurts but the temperature is perfect. On the left side, I'm hot. On my back, I'm cold. I settled for on my back but under additional cover.

Prissy started hiccuping...something new...what caused that?

Who is the best American Idol, Kelli Clarkson or Carrie Underwood?

Should I take left-overs for lunch or go out?

What will I cook for Mother's Day to go with chicken casserole? Green beans? What?

Toes, relax...arches, relax, ankles, relax......

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


A very gifted and talented friend passed away today. I met her through book group and have known her for many years. She will be missed.

Check out some of her amazing beadwork here

Monday, April 27, 2009

Week-end Round Up

I had the Fantasy Book group at my home Friday evening to discuss Bone Song by John Meaney. There was quite a bit to discuss, as it was a very, very odd book. Well liked, but the world building was incredible and complicated.

Anywhoo, I served a roasted red pepper hummus with pita pieces and tappenade with sliced baguette (both dips thanks to the good people at Trader Joe's), and some pickled things because my friends do love some pickles. And some sangria.

For dinner I made a smoked salmon quiche/tart that I served with a salad and some Mondavi Savingnon Blanc. Dessert was a lovely double chocolate cheesecake and coffee.

After my guests left, I cleaned up and read for a while so I didn't get to sleep until almost 3 a.m. I was mostly worthless on Saturday, but managed to get my hair colored and do a little shopping. I've got to wonder about the color job, however, since no one seems to have noticed. Either the colorist did a very subtle job or my gray was not as noticeable as I thought.

Yesterday I baked some banana bread, fed my Amish Friendship Bread starter, and cooked some country style ribs in the crock pot. These I ate with fried okra and cole slaw. Oh yeah!

The smoked salmon quiche was my own creation, but I've done by best to record (approximate) measurements. The fun of a quiche/tart is that you can play with it.

Smoked Salmon & Goat Cheese Quiche

4 oz smoked salmon, chopped fine
1/2 c chopped green onions
2 oz crumbled goat cheese
5 large eggs
3/4 c heavy cream
1/2 c sour cream
2 T chopped fresh dill
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Place pastry in 10" tart pan and blind bake. Allow to cool.

Place green onions on bottom of crust. Layer next with goat cheese and top with salmon. Mix eggs, cream, sour cream, fresh dill, salt, and pepper and pour into crust. Bake 38 to 45 minutes, until top of tart begins to brown. Serve warm or at room temp.

*Use your own best recipe or the roll out stuff from the refrigerator section of the supermarket. In this case I used the recipe from Ina Garten's Goat Cheese Tart in Barefoot in Paris.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Warning To All of MY Friends Out There

I've been given a bag of starter for Amish Friendship Bread. In 10 days I will have three additional bags of starter. Get ready.

And for fun, here are the steps leading up to the day I start doling out more starter:

Day 1--do nothing
Day 2--mash the bag
Day 3--mash the bag
Day 4--mash the bag
Day 5--mash the bag
Day 6--Add to bag 1 c AP flour, 1 C sugar, ! C milk, mix well in bag
Day 7--mash the bag
Day 8--mash the bag
Day 9--mash the bag

Day 10--pour contents of bag into non-metal bowl and add:
1 1/2 c AP flour
1 1/2 c milk
1 1/2 sugar
Measure out 4 1 cup portions of batter into 4 1 gallon zip lock bags. Keep one for yourself and give the other bags to friends. You will be baking every 10 days.

Seriously, bread that is more work and responsibility than my cat. Do I take it out of town with me? What happens when I run out of friends? And what exactly is meant by "mash the bag"?

I have, however, tasted the bread and it may just be worth the effort.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bouncing On the Balls of My Feet

I have big plans for this week-end. I'm so excited, I'm bouncing around like a kid on the balls of my feet. What, you may ask, has me this excited?

I'M GOING BRA SHOPPING!!!!!!! Rebekkah Vaughn, here I come! Plus, I'm going to Trader Joe's!

Oh, what a sad life, when the prospect of new foundation garments makes you this happy.

On another note, a co-worker just introduced me to the most amazing place. I must go there soon. Very soon. Sherlock's Books in Lebanon, Tennessee.

Check it out here and tell me if it doesn't sound like heaven. (At least my version of it.)

Hope you have a great week-end!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What a Crazy Day!

Our phones are all hinkie at work today. All calls are coming to me. No one else gets a call unless I'm on the phone. So I have take more than three times the regular number of calls while my co-workers are finding homes for stray dogs, listening to the state legislature, shopping online, and wasting time.

And, on top of that, I went in search of a Diet Coke. I walked up to the vending machine and inserted my dollar before realizing I was at the snack machine, not the soda machine. I couldn't get my dollar back. I tried. So instead I decided to get sugar-free cookies. I selected E5. Unfortunately, the sugar free cookies were E6. I had selected Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls. Damn! I love those things, but I don't need to eat them. Then the package hung up. I'm too cheap to leave them hanging, so I thumped the machine until they fell down.

I've been staring at the thing all day. I did get a Diet Coke, though.

I'm currently sitting in time out. Not for mis-behaving, to give myself a minute to catch my breath.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Prep

At work yesterday, we were sent to the storm shelter four times. I'm not complaining, though, having seen the devastation of Murfreesboro..a mere 25 miles away.

I left work and headed south for the holiday with my family. I got to Mom & Dad's about 5:30 and, after dinner, took Mom shopping for an Easter dress. This is a monumental task, as larg retail areas send her into sensory over-load. Plus there is the whole trying on of things. We picked out six dressed and headed into the fitting rooms. The first was full, so we were sent across the store to a handicapped fitting room. Is it odd to anyone else that they would make the handicapped traverse the store to access the handicapped fitting room?

Sis met up with us at this point, so there were the three of us in the fitting room--if you've never been inside, the handicapped fitting rooms are huge--and lifted, tugged, cajoled and encouraged untile we found something we could all agree on. Then it was off to the cosmetic counter where Sis and Mom scored some make-up and a free gift while I scooted across the store to buy stockings for Mom and myself.

Today started early. I was showered and dressed by six and shared a couple of cups of coffee with Dad while Mom slept in (I think we wore her out!). Then I made breakfast of eggs, sausage, and biscuits. After cleaning the kitchen and doing some straightening around the house, Sis came over and we headed to Publix to finish up shopping for our Easter dinner.

Here is our menu (for now).

Chicken and cornbread dressing
Green beans
Purple hull peas
Scalloped potatoes
Broccoli salad
Carrot and raisin salad
Buttermilk salad
Devilled eggs
Lemon bars
Chocolate something
Sugar free dessert

So far this afternoon, I've made the cornbread for the dressing, the buttermilk salad, the carrot salad and the lemon bars. I've also cooked some bacon for the broccoli salad. I'm taking a break before making the broccoli salad. Then I'll cook dinner for tonight, spaghetti. Afterwards, I will make the dressing.

I plan on roasting the chicken before church in the morning and then making the potatoes and baking the dressing when we get home. Sis is bringing the ham, green beans, peas, devilled eggs, and chocolate dessert. My aunt and cousins will bring tea, rolls, and a sugar free dessert.

I'm feeling good about it all right now...hope I can say the same when I get up in the morning.

And may we all appreciate the sacrifice that made the blessed holiday so joyous and celebrate the ressurection of our Lord!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fat Friday

We take turns bringing snacks to the office on Fridays, and today was my turn. I forgot that I had book group last night when I signed up, so it was a bit of a challenge to get it done.

I prepared the Applesauce Breakfast Cake from the BH&G Jr cookbook when I got home from work and began prepping the ingredients for quiche. I fried bacon and saute'd mushrooms and onions and grated cheese. When I got home from book group, I blind baked my pie crusts. I got to bed about 11:30 last night and was up again at 4:40 preparing the quiche.

At mid-morning, one quiche has been eaten and about half of the cake.

Bacon & Ham Quiche

1 9" pie crust (home-made or the prepared sheets in the refrigerated section of the super market

6 slices bacon
1/2 c chopped onion
1 cup sliced porcini mushrooms
3/4 c half and half
1 c cooked chopped ham
6 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp Lawry's Season salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 c shredded Swiss cheese
2 T all purpose flour

Blind bake pie crust for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, remove pie weights and foil/parchment and bake another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce temp to 350.

Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp and remove to paper towels to drain. Crumble and set aside. Saute onions and mushrooms in bacon grease until tender. Add crumbled bacon, half & half, ham, eggs, and seasonings and mix. Toss cheese in flour and add to egg mixture. Pour into pie shell and bake @ 350 45 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Mmmmm... I do love my pork!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Back In the Saddle (for now)

I really haven't felt good in a long while. Nothing drastic, just an overall malaise. But yesterday, I felt good. Not just good, I felt great! Work was good. I came home to a clean house. I got a little kitty lovin' and read for a while before I decided to cook. It seems like soooo long since I last cooked myself dinner.

Unfortunately, I had to scrounge around for something good to eat. I found a can of salmon so I decided to make salmon patties. I made some bread crumbs and mixed those in with the salmon, chopped a shallot and tossed it in with some fresh dill and an egg.

While the oil was heating in my iron skillet, I tossed some asparagus in EVOO and spread it on a baking dish before sprinkling it with coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper. I placed it in a 425* oven while I fried my salmon. I drizzled it with balsamic vinegar before serving.

Now my house smells of salmon, but that's okay. Imagine how popular I will be when I go to warm up left-overs in the break room for lunch!

Friday, March 27, 2009


I recently joined Facebook. I'm a true novice at it and can find myself wasting huge amounts of time there. However, today I re-connected with an old friend from high school.

She's the one that I tell the great story about her wedding. During the ceremony, she and her groom were lighting the "unity candle" and her veil caught on fire. Her quick thinking hubby snatched it off of the top of her head, threw it on the ground, and stomped out the fire. Her wedding photos all show the singed veil.

I haven't talked to her in 25 years. It was so good to hear from her!

Tomorrow night is movie night and I've picked my movies and decided what to cook. Now I just have to clean my house, cook, and shop. I've got potatoes, so I'm going to bake them and have an assortment of toppings. I also have little smokies I'll cook in the crock pot with some sauce. I may make some brownies. We'll be watching 12 Angry Men and The Separate Tables.

Hope everyone has a great week-end!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I'm Back!

Did you miss me?

Things have been a bit crazy for me lately. I can't seem to get my act together.

I had book group last Monday and we discussed The Book Thief by Mark Zuzak. Since it is set in Nazi Germany, I decided to cook a German (inspired) meal. Here is what I served:

Pickle assortment including green tomatoes, baby corn, baby dills, and my sweet spears
Black Forest ham
Cheese--a German Tiltser and a Dutch Uber Kasse

Jagerschnitzel (fried pork cutlets with a mushroom gravy)
Weinkraut (sauerkraut, apples, and onions cooked in dry white wine)
Maple roasted carrots

German chocolate pie

2 different kinds of Reisling
sparkling water.

Everyone left, I cleaned up the kitchen and headed to bed. I woke during the night and messed up my back. I was in the floor for two days and still walk slightly twisted.

But on to better things!

We had a St. Patrick's Day party at work and everyone was supposed to bring green foods. I fixed a veggie pizza, making a crescent roll crust. I made a cream cheese and sour cream spread and added some green food coloring before spreading onto the crust. I placed a shamrock made from the bottom of a bell pepper in the middle and sprinkled around chopped bell pepper, scallions, olives, and fresh dill. I also made Irish Potato candy and colored it green.

We had a fruit tray with pears, kiwi, green grapes, Granny Smith apples, and a pistachio dip, pinwheels made with spinach tortillas, seven layer salad, devilled eggs with green filling, a chicken noodle dish (green noodles), another green salad, coconut cake (with green coconut on top) cream puffs with green custard, and fruit pizza with kiwi, green grapes, and mandarin orange slices. Plus, of course, the store bakery cookies that show up at every event.

I am currently on a quest to make an oatmeal cookie as good as Christie's Cookies. Thick, chewy, filled with raisins and toffee bits. I'm almost there.

I went to the local UPS office yesterday to pick up my free book (yeah!) and it was such a pretty day that I decided to ride around. I love the spring and yesterday's 78* sunny day was wonderful. Rural middle Tennessee is dressed in it's finest colors...verdant green hillsides, brillian blue forsythia and jonquills, electric coral Japanese quince, and azure blue skies set off by the delicate white of Bradford pears. There were horses running in the fields and bright red barns, old white farmhouses with wide porches.

Enjoy the season!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


What could be almost as good as winning the lottery to an avid reader? Free BOOKS!

I just won a copy of Kitty and the Dean Man's Hand by Carrie Vaughn. It's the fifth in a series introduced to me by my friend Virginia and it follows the tale of Kitty...late night radio talk show host, author, and werewolf activist. I can hardly wait!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Academy Awards

Wow! Tonight's ceremony was the best in years. I didn't mind the minor awards...you can certainly appreciate achievement in make-up and costume when Daniel Craig is presenting the award. I loved the opening number. I thoroughly enjoyed the big tribute to musicals. I even enjoyed the acceptance speeches.

Loved, loved, LOVED the five presenters. Queen Latifah's soulful singing of "I'll Be Seeing You" to the montage of the recently departed was inspired. I even enjoyed the commercials!

I thought the ladies all looked lovely. The dresses I loved most...Meryl Streep, Marissa Tomei, Amy Adams. The men looked good, too (with a couple of obvious exceptions). What was PSH thinking in that knit cap? Can the men of Hollywood not completely knot a tie? Ah, Mickey!

Anyhoo, I laughed out loud many times and can't remember the last time I had this much fun watching an awards show.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Goo Goo Cluster

Anyone who grew up in the South knows the joy of certain local treats...Moon Pie, RC Cola, SunDrop soda, and the Goo Goo Cluster, to name a few. Sweet! We down south love the sweets! The Moon Pie, marshmallow and graham crackers with a candy coating. Sweet sodas! Sweet tea! (Milo's sweet tea is the stuff of dreams.) Sweet red barbecue sauce.

And the Goo Goo Cluster.


Peanuts, marshmallow, caramel and chocolate. But the good folks as the Standard Candy Company didn't stop there. There is the Goo Goo Supreme--marshmallow, caramel, pecans and chocolate. And there is the Peanut Butter Goo Goo.

I love peanut butter. I love chocolate. I think that the Reese's Cup is perfection. But a Peanut Butter Goo Goo is almost that good. Peanut butter, peanuts, and chocolate. Zowie!

Did you know that the process of coating a candy with chocolate is called "enrobing"? I didn't until I read the book Candy Freak by Steve Almond. He visited the Standard Candy Company and watched them make Goo Goo Clusters. His descriptions were vivid and luscious.

Ethnicity sometimes escapes us in the South. I worked for a man from New Jersey once who said "Up north we say we are Polish or Italian or German or Irish. Down here you say you are Baptist or Methodists or Presbyterian."

But we certainly know how to satisfy a sweet tooth!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Praise for a Practical Product

I have been a fan of Glad Press N Seal since I bought my first roll. It keeps things fresh and is easily manageable. But I have to tell how well this product has performed for me recently.

I bought a bunch of celery the week before Christmas. I used two stalks at the time but trimmed and cleaned the rest and wrapped them in Glad Press N Seal. Since that time I've made a couple of batches of soup and stock, a little chicken salad, and that's about it.

But last night I grabbed the final two stalks out of the fridge, still wrapped in the original (though slightly ragged from use) piece of plastic. Two crisp, aromatic stalks greeted me, the leaves still perky.

So I'm singing the praise of this wonderful product which is helping me fulfill my New Year's resolution to not waste food!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Yes, I'm Blond, But....

I'm currently driving a car that has been in the family. My Dad drove it for a few years, then sold it to my sister. When her teen did not want to drive a "grandma" car, my brother-in-law drove it for a year. I needed transportation and my sister had an extra set of wheels, so I got the family discount and she and my BIL delivered the car to me about three weeks ago.

Both my dad and my BIL love this car. My dad asks every time we speak about the car, and BIL has called twice to check on it.

I finally told them both that the heat doesn't work in the car. The response?

"Are you sure?"

Now, I know I'm blond, but really! I'm not imagining the cold air blowing out the vents and my teeth chattering. Next came the question...

"Do you know how to work the heat?"

Believe it or not, I can figure out red means hot and blue means cold.

Both men are convinced I don't know what I'm talking about. Never mind that I work for GM and probably know more than both of them about cars. Also, I have access to service manuals.

But, hey! I'm just a girl!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dogs and Cats

I watched the Westminster Dog show and I am a huge fan of Stump. I've rooted for him in previous shows. He's just so darn cute! I love dog shows. I'm up early on Saturday mornings watching Eukanuba dog shows (5 a.m.). I love learning about each of the breeds. I love seeing the personality of each of the dogs in the competition. I love the gracefulness of some breeds, the sleek beauty of others, the cuddly cuteness of many, and the size extremes in yet others.

But I used to ask myself, "Why don't they ever televise cat shows? I know they have them, and they are big deals. That was until I saw one on tv. Primped and prettied cats sitting on pillows, not moving, does not make for good television. I do think, however, Prissy would be perfect! She can sit still and ignore with the best of 'em.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I'm hosting one of my book groups next month and I'm experimenting with a menu. We are reading The Book Thief (nothing happier than a holocaust story) and I thought I would try my hand at German food. I've got Saurbratten marinating to (for 3 days) in the fridge. I'll probably try my hand at German Potato Salad, too. Karen served red cabbage at our group last month, so I hate to repeat. I'll have to see what I can find.

The Saurbratten recipe is one I found in a BH&G cook-book from the 70s. The marinade includes red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, onions, carrots, celery, spices, and burgundy.

My friends can tell you that I am no expert on wine and really at a loss when shopping for it. My local liquor store only seems to carry burgundy in 55 gallon drums (yes! I do exaggerate, but not by much) which seems a bit excessive for a 1/2 cup. I don't drink the stuff and I know I could freeze it, but my freezer is packed. I asked around for a substitute.

I never received a definitive answer but I opted for a dornfelder because it was German, red, and moderately priced in a bottle I could manage. We shall see if it impacts the flavor. One can't help but wonder how much the flavor of the wine will matter when surrounded by all of that vinegar.

I'll update you on the taste when I cook it Thursday.

In the mean-time, I plan on making one of my favorite dished, Chicken Lombardi, tonight.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Justine's Cookies

I first tasted these wonderful cookies many, many, many years ago at the home of my Aunt Rachel. She lost the recipe for many years and only just found it again a couple of years ago. She can't remember the origin, but she it sure she got the recipe while living in either Monroeville AL, Mobile AL, or NOLA.

I made these as part of my pantry fare for Movie night last week, then brought left-overs to work.


1 c butter
1 c brown sugar
2/3 c white sugar
2 1/2 c AP flour
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp soda
1 c uncooked quick oats
1 c dates
1 c pecans
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
sugar for rolling

Blend together sugars and butter until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Sift together flour, salt, and soda and blend with butter/sugar mixture. Add oats, dates, and pecans and stir. Roll into 1 " balls before rolling in sugar and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Yield approx. 7 dozen cookies.

My Timing Is Completely Off

Last night I decided to go to bed early. I greased down with Ben Gay on my knees, Vicks on my chest, Avon Foot Works on my feet, hand cream, and face cream. I turned on my electric mattress pad and put Edith Piaff on the stereo before curling up with David Baldacci (The Camel Club).

The funny thing was, Prissy was fully intent on bathing, with one leg hovering up around her ear, when Edith came on. Prissy stopped and sat there, legs akimbo, thru three or four songs. Perfectly still. It was totally weird. Is she french? Or does she just have great taste in music?

Prissy--1 p.m.

Something happened this morning that never, ever, ever happens. I over-slept. I woke up this morning and kept wondering when the radio would come on. Finally, I looked at it and saw it was 5:44! That's about 50 minutes after my regular time to get up! I showered, dressed dried my hair, started the car to let it warm, fed the cat, grabbed some lunch, put on make-up, brushed my teeth and made it to work by 6:50.

Clock Pictures, Images and Photos

Now my whole day is off kilter. Nothing seems right. Did I put on my deodorant? Perfume? Underwear? What is exactly in my lunch bag? And why am I so sleepy?

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Definition of Irony

I just tracked a package. I won't say the name of the carrier, but there are big white trucks with purple and green writing on them and they played prominently in a Tom Hanks movie.

Anywhooo...the package left Fargo SD last nite but was delayed due to "freezing fog" in Memphis.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Challenge and an Award

I've issued a challenge to myself to spend only $20 this week by eating from my pantry, fridge, and freezer and utilizing my library card. I started the week with a full tank of gas and $20 and currently have $14.46. What did I buy, you may ask? A loaf of bread and a bag of cat food.

Last week I froze a lot of the white bean soup, so that has been my lunch twice this week with a salad. It has taken quite a bit of planning to come up with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for a full week but I think I'm doing okay.

Of course, my friends may not agree Saturday night when I show up with pantry fare for movie night.

I had in the freezer thin sliced chicken breasts and in the pantry some whole wheat spaghetti and a jar of Trader Joe's pesto. I dredged the chicken in a mixture of Good Seasons Italian Salad Dressing mix, fresh grated parmesan, garlic powder, and Italian seasoned bread crumbs and put on to bake at 350 while the pasta was cooking. I had a mixed green salad with this and can't help but being pleased with the results. It's also my lunch today.

Breakfast has been Applesauce Cake, a recipe from the Contessa's Kitchen board that I love and can feed me for a week. And I've even been bringing my own iced tea, sweetened with Splenda, from home.


My friend Becky at Random Musings of a Decolady gave me an award, but I can't post it right now. I'll do so soon, and pass it on to some other lovely people.

Have a great Wednesday!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Rosemary White Bean Soup

By Ina Garten and modified by Webbie

1 pound dried Great Northern beans
4 c sliced yellow onions
1/4 c. olive oil*
4 slices bacon diced
2 minced garlic cloves
1 large branch fresh rosemary (6 to 7 inches)
1 bay leaf
2 quarts chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground pepper

Cover beans with water by at least 1 inch and refrigerate hours or overnight; drain.

In a large stockpot over low to medium heat, brown the bacon to render the fat and remove the bacon. Saute the onions with the olive oil and bacon fat until the onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook over low heat for 3 more minutes. Add the beans, rosemary, chicken stock and bay leaf. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer for 90 minutes, until the beans are very soft. Remove the rosemary branch and the bay leaf. Puree the soup in the food processeor until coarsely pureed. Return the soup to the pot to reheat and add salt and pepper to taste.**
Top the soup with bacon pieces for serving.

One helpful hint from the book - do not salt the beans until after they are cooked, if you salt before they are cooked through, they become tough. Hope you all enjoy this soup!!!

*when using bacon fat, reduce the amount of olive oil
**I used the immersion blender

Seriously yummy stuff! Guess what I'm having for lunch today?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Needed A Laugh

I went to visit the folks last week-end, where I spent the week-end cooking and doing laundry. My dad says he feels guilty because I walk in the door working and never stop. I quietly remind him that if I stop, I fall asleep. Better to keep moving.

I cooked a family favorite...Chicken Pot Pie. I baked it in three separate dishes so we could eat some Saturday and then froze two for later consumption. I also made Paula Deen's Symphony Brownies which are hugely popular with my family. Hmmm...gooey brownies with candy in the middle...imagine that! Mom kept asking me how to make them. I kept telling her. Strokes and short-term memory, what a combo!

Sunday I made Chicken Spaghetti--a very mild, wimpy version.

It's been a tough week at work...I come home exhausted every day. My 30 year old clock radio died and I had to get a new one. The new one sucks! I can only get the oldies station and two religious stations.

My car died. Literally. I don't think she can be resuscitated.

I'll be busy cooking tonight. It's my turn for Fat Friday snacks, so I'm making chicken salad and Rice Krispie Treats. And for myself, I'm making Ina's White Bean and Rosemary soup. I can hardly wait!

Anyway, desperately in need of a laugh, I hit Cake Wrecks and I found myself doubled over. Check out the graduation cake. Tell me it didn't make you laugh. I dare ya!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Random Musings

I was listening to the radio this morning and couldn't help but laugh at the traffic report. There was a "fender bender" at the corner of 1 Mile Road and 1/4 Mile Court. How much imagination did it take to name those two streets?

I feel so dirty! Sunday evening I watched "Confessions of a Former Teen Idol" on VH1. And, while a guilty pleasure, this is not my dirty little secret. After COAFTI, Rock of Love came on. I'd not watched the two previous seasons, so I had no idea of the content of the show or the character of the participants.

Zowie! I had to shower after watching this show. I wish I had had the strength of will to turn it off, but I am weak and it was too tantalizing. If you ever need a little boost in confidence, to feel classy and refined, or just to be a voyeur in the window of life's lowest common denominator...this will elevate and exhort!

Participants on Jerry Spring and Maury feel superior in the wake of this train wreck.

And, finally...I saw Slumdog Millionare over the weekend and one thing consistently bothers me. Who decides the previews to show before a movie? They showed previews for the biopic of Notorious B.I.G during this art house film. Hmmm.