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Wishing you a whole bunch of beautiful this weekend!
Enjoying the simple to sublime,
Mothers have the ability to hold children in their hearts no matter where they are. For the first time in a decade, mine are within hugging distance and I’m loving every minute of it! I know my Mom feels the same way about me.
I’m writing this from Minnesota again… made another spur of the moment trip after a decline in my father’s health. Not only has it given me a chance to spend time with my Dad, I’ve been able to treat Mom to some of her favorites — Chicken Alfredo, strawberry shortcake, and popovers, to name a few.
Wishing you a Mother’s Day filled with love and hugs. And favorites.
Enjoying precious time,
Six years ago I didn’t have email.
Sure, I used it at work — but at home, my computer wasn’t even connected to the internet.
Then I moved to Oklahoma — away from family and friends and familiarity — and took the electronic plunge. By that time, everybody I intended to e-mail was off and runnin’ on Facebook.
It took another four years to get up the gumption to join that social forum and, once again, I was left in the technological dust.
Twitter was all the rage.
Not one to be daunted, I dove into blog world with my digital camera in hand (which I’m sure is obsolete by now) and watched as Pinterest took off. (And G+, Linked In, and Instagram et al.)
Today there are so many social forums it makes my head spin!
But, people are communicating – embracing technology, posting updates, sharing photos, and offering a glimpse of their lives — expressing what’s important to them, by any and all means.
And I absolutely love it!
Even if I haven’t figured out how to use it.
By the way, my hesitance to jump onto the information-sharing bandwagon has more to do with “reading up” on things first and pondering at length than it does with fear of technology.
That, and clinging to the antiquated concept of privacy.
Prior to that, Cinco de Mayo was the impetus to post a Mexican-themed dish on or around May 5th.
Do you know the history behind it?
It’s surprising the trends we follow without knowing why. In the meantime I’ll keep plugging along and pondering.
And in the spirit of celebration, here’s my contribution to Cinco de Mayo.
(recipe adapted from my Sis)
½ lb. hamburger & ½ lb. pork sausage (or a pound of either)
1 large onion, chopped
Salt & Tabasco sauce, to taste
1 (16 oz.) can refried beans (or black beans, slightly mashed — just as delish!)
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chilies (or a fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded & chopped)
2 to 3 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
3/4 c. taco sauce (or salsa of your choice)
Garnishes: sliced green onions, sliced black olives, avocado dip or guacamole (I used avocado slices), sour cream, a variety of lettuces, diced tomatoes, & chopped parsley or cilantro
Tortilla chips, warmed
Preheat oven to 400° F. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown meat and onions, stirring occasionally; drain. Season with salt and Tabasco sauce to taste.
Spread beans on a large, oven-proof platter (I made a half-batch and used a 10″ pie plate.) Layer with meat mixture, green chilies, and cheese; drizzle with taco sauce.
Bake uncovered 20 to 25 minutes. To serve, sprinkle green onions and black olives over the top and mound avocado dip in the center.
Top with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with diced tomatoes and chopped parsley or cilantro. (I used sliced green onion tops.)
Place lettuce on an individual serving plate, add a celebratory scoop of Super Nachos, tuck in some warmed chips and dig in!
I’m pleased to share this dish with you via “technology” — and a lil’ more knowledge than I had before.
Even if it meant jumping on the bandwagon.
Happy Cinco de Mayo!
It’s no secret that I love pasta. (Understatement of the year…)
But prior to this, the only pasta I’d made from scratch was plain ol’ noodles. (Insert happy memory here: When my son was a wee babe, he called them “noonles.”) Family food memories are a delight, aren’t they?
During my early noodle-making years, I seriously underestimated how large uncooked “noonles” can grow when they simmer (after cutting them in a hurry, I might add…)
The result was a hefty batch of noonles, which my kids promptly dubbed 2 by 4′s! To this day, we refer to my homemade chicken noodle soup as “2 x 4 Soup.”
But, this kitchen exploit involves grown-up pasta…
Laced with spinach, toothy, and as large (or small) as you care to cut it and tossed with freshly grated Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil or, my favorite – butter, sea salt, & freshly ground pepper — Spinach Pasta is sure to bring out the kid in you.
The grown-up kid.
Homemade Spinach Pasta
(adapted from bell’alimento — thanks, Paula!)
6 oz. fresh spinach
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
Extra virgin olive oil (enough to lightly coat skillet)
Pinch of Kosher salt
Grind of black pepper
2 1/2 to 3 c. flour
Salt, to taste
In a large skillet, saute the spinach in olive oil until it begins to wilt.
Add garlic; stir until fragrant, about a minute. Remove from heat; season with salt & pepper to taste.
Transfer spinach to a sieve; allow to drain. Press out as much moisture as possible with the back of a spoon and place drained spinach in a food processor or blender; pulse until smooth.
In a large bowl, measure 2 1/2 cups flour. Make a well in the center; add the eggs and a pinch of salt. Mix with a wooden spoon — or your hands — it’s fun!
Add pureed spinach a little at a time until the dough comes together in a ball. (I left mine a bit “sticky” to compensate for the flour used when rolling out “noonles” with a rolling pin.) If you happen to be the proud owner of a pasta machine, please refer to your manufacturer’s instructions.
FYI… you may not use all of the spinach. (If not, reserve the rest for another use.) You also may (or may not) use the remaining flour. It was humid the day I made this batch, so I used less spinach and the resulting “noonles” weren’t as green.
Also, I wish I could be more precise, but pasta-making isn’t an exact science! Use your judgment and have fun with it.
Cover the dough with a clean towel; allow to rest 15 minutes.
Divide dough into fourths; roll out a portion at a time to your desired thickness. (Sprinkle with flour as needed to keep from sticking.)
With a sharp knife or pasta machine, slice “noonles” into desired widths, bearing in mind that they swell when they cook. :) Allow them to rest (covered) while you roll/cut the remaining dough.
Meanwhile, bring a large kettle of water to a boil; add salt to taste.
Throw in your desired portion; cook until al dente and serve immediately. The remaining uncooked noodles may be dried on a rack (or your counter top if need be…) and frozen for later use.
No matter what you call them, a noodle by any name is worth it.
I’m not kidding!
Enjoying grown-up “noonles,”
Last year I went out on a limb and published my first annual “State of the Blog” address. (I dislike canned speeches, but it’s always good to know what’s going on.) A year has passed, and here we are again.
It took me awhile to come up with a topic for My Second Annual State of the Blog Address… there haven’t been many changes here this past year, other than tweaking the font and messing with my blog roll settings. (From here on out, there’ll be a smaller number of random “Delightful Reads” in the sidebar — easier for me to manage and you to read.)
While others have converted their sites into a sleek visual oasis (which I enjoy very much), coming here is similar to traveling to a vacation cabin, throwing off the dust covers, and spreading a clean table cloth on the ol’ dinette set. Nothin’ fancy, but welcoming nonetheless!
Like sitting down to Sunday supper…
Simple. Satisfying. And entirely up to the cook!
That stance may leave me behind in the cyber dust, but “posting regularly” just isn’t on my menu. (And I’ll be danged if I’m going to write a certain way to generate numbers.) Freedom of expression means more to me than page rank.
Confession: I don’t own a smart phone. (I don’t even know if mine’s literate, but it gets signal at the bottom of the bluff…)
As far as social media is concerned, it’d probably be easier (and less time consuming) if I owned an instant-access gadget, but truthfully I don’t like how “market-y” FB and G+ have become.
(That’s as far as I’ve advanced “socially,” by the way…)
To me, there’s a difference between socializing and advertising.
I hope that didn’t sound antisocial!
When I do spend time on those forums, I enjoy seeing what you’re up to and I appreciate the reception I’ve received there.
Here are a few other things I’ve learned in “year two”:
Blogging has been an adventure since Day One, but overall, I feel like I’ve been heard – no matter how large or small my “audience” may be. Who doesn’t want to be heard… or at least listened to, considered, and pondered… if only for a moment?
By the way, what you say matters to me. I can’t count the number of aha’s I’ve had (in the kitchen and in my personal life) after reading your comments and/or posts. Each one has a story to tell. Present-day life. Blasts from the past. Kids, jobs, pets. Inspiration. Food and photos. I love them all!
In the coming year, I’ll still be serving up a little lunch (or Sunday supper) whenever you care to join me. Or whenever I’m here. :)
Have you made any changes re: your online time? If so, why?
It’s not every day you come home to a man building a boat on your back porch — not because he’s intent on building a boat, but because (eventually) he’s going to build an airplane.
(Something to do with testing the tensile strength of mahogany before he constructs the wings?)
If you haven’t already discerned, I admire and love The Man Of Few Words (hereafter referred to as TMOFW) and his ingenuity.
Howard Hughes may have built the Spruce Goose, but TMOFW dreams of flying the Mahogany Marvel. A few weeks ago, I asked what he’s going to name his future aircraft and he replied, “Airplane.” (As for the boat, it’s dubbed the “Hope She Floats.”) Such is my practical man.
With a little sweat and a lot of common sense, I have no doubt he’ll be airborne one day. If Howard Hughes (and the Wright Brothers) can do it, so can he!
Not only does TMOFW continue to work on his dream, he grants huge leeway for my musical/writing aspirations, for which I’m entirely grateful. Someday he hopes to soar (literally), or at least float until our ship comes in. I’d love to help fulfill his dream.
(Wishful thinking, I know — but ya never know.)
Day by day this patient craftsman builds dreams. (His, mine, and anybody else who asks for his help.) Just yesterday I witnessed TMOFW patiently attending to a lovely lady with the onset of Alzheimer’s who needed his expertise on some “fix-its.” The gentle smile on his face said it all. His heart’s in the right place… but it’s still on the ground.
As I continue to putter away on my novel and compose music in bits and pieces, TMOFW diligently works on his dream and has something to show for it. (Once he even painstakingly devised a scale-model aircraft out of a cereal box!) But, the legacy of service he’s constructed exceeds those of his aviation aspirations — and speaks for itself.
Such are the life and times of one who learned from the “Old Masters,” as he modestly testifies. No fanfare. No pretense.
Simply the day-to-day application of what he’s learned on the quest to fulfill his vision — while helping others along the way — including me.
All that lies between his dreams is the deep blue sea…
Which I expect we’ll be adrift on any day now — in the “Hope She Floats” — catching fish.
Next up, the wild blue yonder…
Of that, I’m confident.
Enjoying ingenuity and dreams,
Leave it to my home state to roll out the white carpet for me.
Within hours of my arrival in Minnesota, it snowed.
Four days in a row.
No complaints. Mother Nature’s sense of humor amuses me.
It’s just that I’m not used to scraping my windshield.
Although the weather outside was frightful, the warmth inside was delightful.
Laughter, memories, food… and lots of it.
Family stuff. xo
Unexpected chills make you appreciate warmth.
Safe havens cause you to count your blessings.
And snow can be fun. (Yes, fun.)
You can take the girl out of Minnesota…
Many thanks for your love and support during my recent trip.
I’m looking forward to catching up with you soon!
In the meantime, it’s great to be home again. Ahhh…
Enjoying a lil’ Spring in my step,
P.S. Snowmen are best enjoyed with a cup of coffee… :)
Custard is one of the simple joys in life. A few basic ingredients and a bit of stove-top tending are all that’s required.
By the way, I generally don’t snap fridge photos because: 1) the lighting isn’t the greatest and 2) it gets a lil’ crowded in there. :)
But, what’s a girl to do with a camera in one hand and a spoon in the other?
I also tend to favor the bain marie method “ala oven” because it never fails; however, my new double boiler was begging to be used.
Plus, it employs some of my favorite cooking utensils…
Grandma M’s measuring cups and spoon. A microplane from my sister. An apron made out of fabric that once belonged to my Grandma (sewn by my sister.) Ramekins from Mom. Memories of eating custard with Grandma S…
Some may beg to differ re: memories being a ‘utensil,’ but in my kitchen they’re an essential tool.
I love being surrounded by the women in my family while I cook.
Recipe credit goes to Christopher Kimball & “The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook” (another gift from my sister); method adapted by me.
2 c. whole milk
1 c. heavy cream
2 egg yolks
3 whole eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Freshly grated nutmeg
Butter 8 individual ramekins or a 2 quart baking dish; set aside.
Bring water to a boil in the bottom of a double boiler; reduce heat to a simmer. Keep water at a simmer from here on out and make sure the water level in the bottom pan doesn’t touch the bottom of the top pan. (I hope that made sense.)
Add milk and cream to the top of the double boiler; heat over simmering water until bubbles form around the edge, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, whisk together the yolks and eggs in a bowl. Stir in sugar, salt, and vanilla.
Whisk egg mixture into hot milk/cream until combined.
Cook over simmering water, stirring constantly, until custard coats the back of the spoon. This process requires standing in front of your stove for approximately 20 to 25 minutes and I cannot emphasize the two “s’s” enough — simmer and stir — or you’ll end up with a third “s”… scrambled eggs.
Pour custard into individual ramekins or a 2 quart dish.
Grate nutmeg over the top.
Refrigerate and wait patiently until set.
Alternatively, stir together the hot milk/cream and egg mixture.
Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into buttered ramekins or baking dish and place them in a bain marie (i.e. larger baking dish filled with boiling water half-way up the custard dishes.)
Bake at 325° for 15 to 20 minutes (ramekins) or 40 to 50 minutes (baking dish) until custard is set. Cool, then refrigerate.
Although I’ll probably revert to the reliable oven-baked method for future custard-making adventures, it felt rather nostalgic doing it the ol’ fashioned way again.
Custard’s Last Stand, so to speak…
Who’s in your kitchen with you while you cook?
Enjoying memories and simple joys,
A phrase that pops up frequently in recipes is “if desired.” (Add x, if desired…) I like that. I like that a lot. Not just as a cooking term, but for the myriad possibilities it presents in life.
Generally, I make choices because something needs to be done.
Laundry or dishes? Vacuum or sweep? Some days it doesn’t feel like a choice at all!
What if I added “if desired” to life’s lil’ recipe?
Vacuum, if desired…
(That just inspired me to tidy up the house, ha!)
But first, I desire salad…
“If Desired” Salad
Assorted greens (add baby spinach, if desired)
Cooked chicken breast, coarsely chopped
Avocado slices, sprinkled with fresh lime juice
Red onions, thinly sliced
Cherry tomatoes, quartered
Bleu cheese, crumbled (or Feta — whatever cheese you desire)
Freshly ground pepper & sea salt
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
How to… layer ingredients on a plate. EAT!
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A few other things on my “if desired” list…
Finish my novel (which requires even less time online…)
Write a song that doesn’t repeat the chorus 400 times (lol) and continue to write “symphonic music.” (Workin’ on it.) I LOVED what I learned in the recent songwriting class, but sometimes music can’t be expressed in 26 letters of the alphabet. (!) Notes without words… aaahhh.
Eventually share some of my music here. (Also workin’ on it!)
Rid myself of “winter weight.” Aarrggh! It seems my metabolism has changed (again) and my penchant for pasta and baked goods MUST be curtailed…
Write with a pen and paper more often than I spend time on my computer. Hoohah, it’s deck season!
I don’t consider it an indulgence to write in front of a scenic vista, because I worked long and hard to get to this point (trucking comes to mind, as do a multitude of other jobs) and I’m grateful for this blessing. I desire to write here, as often as possible…
“Office hours ala Spring”
Most days I don’t mind making decisions, but when I desire to do things, life’s a lot more fun!
How ’bout you? What would you do, if desired?
Enjoying myriad possibilities,
Sometimes life comes in bite-sized chunks. Appetizers of things to come. Tidbits, if you will.
Rather than one grand, glorious meal, it’s served on small plates.
It also serves as a lesson in patience and perseverance. Most days, I have a platter mentality. I want it all now, please.
Or dessert first. ;)
While there’s nothing wrong with craving the completion of a project/dream/insert your unfinished business here, tidbits provide flavor to life, one bite at a time.
Tidbits serve a dual purpose…
They simultaneously appease your hunger and whet your appetite for more. And, when they happen to come in edible form, yeehaw!
Last week I was going through the ol’ picture file and ran across some photos I’d forgotten about.
Tasty! Fun! Why didn’t I post these earlier?
I’ll tell you why.
Because they were waiting for the “idea” of tidbits to appear and my brain finally caught up.
Be patient with yourself!
By the way, there’s no need to labor over these Crispy Fried Polenta Bruschetta as pictured. (From Ally’s Kitchen – many thanks, Ally!) They’re entirely delectable, per the original recipe, like Caprese with a Southern kick.
I just happened to downsize them with an apple corer and cherry tomato slices so I could play with some new cocktail forks!
(Some days I just need to fuss… ever feel the same way?)
Ah yes, good things happen exactly when they’re supposed to — in exactly the “size” they’re supposed to occur.
Turn life’s tidbits into a party!
There’s no “one size fits all” — do what’cha need to do.
Downsize. Upscale. Adapt. You’ll know when it’s right for you…
Because you’ll be smiling.
Enjoying life’s hors d’oeuvres,
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