Sunday, April 24, 2016

Week 18, 4-24-2016

Taking a little blogging break because I'm. . . .

Tidying big time.  I keep my book inventory on the computer by Type (Mystery, Biography, Non-Fiction, etc), Author, Title, Time Period, Location, and When Read.  When I got a new computer, I couldn't figure out how to open the Access file I use for my books.  By the time I got someone to figure it out, I had read books, bought books, moved books, etc.  And I moved a lot of books because I was making room for all the dishes I was buying for my Tablescapes.  I've been working days to bring everything up to date.  I still have four more shelves in the office and five more shelves in the garage.  I hope to finish tonight, so I can make the changes on the computer and print out a new inventory tomorrow.  I dread seeing the number of unread books, as time is marching on and I'm on the downhill side of middle age. This is in addition to the 1,000+ on my e-reader.  I'll let you know.

Tales:  I have, however, been racing through the Coventry books.  I just finished this one.

and this one

and I don't want the series to end.  I've grown very fond of these ladies.

More Tales.  I went to the Clever Library Book Sale and only bought one book and one cookbook.  I didn't know that Jean Auel had written a sixth book and found it in paperback for a quarter.  And how I could I resist this?:

That cute little potato is actually a potato brush

Maybe I'll never make the recipes, but you have to admit that this is CUTE!

Tasting:  I didn't make one new recipe this week.  I did, however, deliver two more of those meals I mentioned last week, and I urge you to save those recipes.  They really come in handy when someone needs dinner.

A couple of Miscellaneous T's.  

Teaching and Learning:  I went to a Camera Essentials class on Saturday.  I'm taking a baby step from this - 

to this - 

I suspect that the teacher thinks I'm a hopeless case, because he told me, "Just put it on A when you're outside and P when you're inside.  You'll be fine".

And Thank You to Friend Joey who knew I was looking for jumbo muffin tins and bought this for me -

She even found the proper paper liners AND a little gadget to scoop out the inside for a filling.

And then today, she came with this -

She actually brought two pieces, but I ate one so quickly, I forgot to take a photo.  I asked her if she wanted one of the pieces and she said that she didn't because she had some at home.  I waited until she left before I did the happy dance.  I doubt this piece will make it through the day.  It's sooooooo good.  What if I waited until tomorrow, and we got hit by a comet tonight?  Well, we could.  You know it's possible.  I know it's not likely, but it IS possible, and I'd sure hate to let this go to waste.

Things That Grow:  I'll never be a gardener.  I thought I was so smart, getting my seeds planted early.  Most didn't germinate.  I did have some radishes, but I didn't plant the red ones deeply enough, so the tops were above ground, and something nibbled on the red part.

And these had lots of little hairy roots on them.

And the watermelon radishes didn't come up at all.  The white radishes had beautiful tops. 
Are they edible?  I need to Google that.

Tips:  One little thing I wanted to mention, which you probably already know.  After you cook in a stainless steel pot, sometimes there's a white residue in the bottom after you wash it, especially when you cook beans.  I've discovered that if you cover the inside bottom of the pot with a thin layer of white vinegar and let it sit a bit, the stuff comes right out.

Just wanted to mention that the only photo taken with my new camera is of my old camera. I'll play with the new one this week perhaps.  For now, I just have to finish my book chore. As a little side benefit, I have a good start on the garage as a result.  Just wait until you see how many books I have.  You'll swear that I've lost my mind.  I do plan, however, to hit the Greene County Library Book Sale which starts April 27. Don't worry, I'm just going to buy the cookbooks I'm collecting (which shall be nameless until I have all eighteen, because if I tell, you'll all run out and buy them).  I'll let you know. 


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Week 17, 4-17-2016

Travel certainly messes with your schedule.  However, I'm unpacked, laundry finished, mail picked up, bills paid, emails answered, and my last blog posting took two days.  I always take too many photos; easy to do with digital cameras where you don't have to pay to develop film to see what your photo looks like (or in my case, sometimes what I have in the photo - must get a camera with a view finder).

Tales:  When I picked up my mail at the post office on Monday, I stopped by the used book sale at the Christian County Library where the redbud tree is blooming its little heart out.  Of course I bought a box of cook books and a couple of novels.  You knew I would.

Tasting:  The Food Marathon continues.  Friend Kathy's husband has pneumonia so she couldn't leave him to go out for her birthday.  My turn to be hostess for the VECC (Very Exclusive Cooking Club) lunch on Thursday (Kathy's birthday), so I made her cake and took her lunch to her on Wednesday.  I cheated and used a strawberry cake mix and strawberry pudding frosting.  You'll find the frosting recipe in the post from Week 2 (chocolate) and Week 13 (Pistachio).  You just change the pudding flavor to match the cake.  This will become one of your favorite recipes if you try it.

I made my standby take-it-to-a-friend lunch:  

Crunchy Chicken Casserole
(Recipe in Week 2)

Cranberry Jello Salad
(Recipe in Week 2)

And Frozen Green Beans from Aldi

Then right back to cooking for the VECC lunch on Thursday


April 14, 2016, at Patsy’s



Magic Pan Salad

Garlic and Herb Tri-tip with Horseradish Sauce

Mashed Potatoes

Mixed Vegetables

Broccoli Cornbread

Coconut Cake with Strawberries

Iced Tea    Coffee



Double-duty centerpiece

One of the ladies from Amy's (Love Made My Home) Five on Friday blog posted a photo of her Easter cactus.  It's like a Christmas cactus, but pink blossoms instead of red.  I found these at Walmart, but labeled "Spring Cactus".  That way, they don't have to go on "Clearance".  The rose garland surrounding the cacti is from a thrift shop.  The roses are actually purple like the dishes, but appear pink like the blossoms in my photos.

Copy Cat Magic Pan Restaurant (out of business) Recipe

Tear up enough Romaine lettuce to serve the number of guests
Add to taste: Mandarin oranges from a can and finely sliced green onions

Toss with vinaigrette

Top with toasted slivered almonds

1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Mix all dressing ingredients together in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stir to make sure sugar is completely dissolved, then cool.
Harter House

1 2-1/2 lb tri-tip, with fat on one side
Santa Maria seasoning (available at Harter House) Rub all over tri-tip, all sides

Oven Roasted
Heat oven to 350

Place tri-tip on a rack in a shallow roasting pan, fat side up, no water, and no cover, do not turn

Roast 1 hour and 15 minutes

Bring charcoal to high heat

Sear tri-tip 15 minutes with fat side down

Push coals to one side, cook tri-tip with fat side up away from the coals, for 1 hour

Can also be cooked on gas barbecue

Adjust cooking time according to weight

Tent tri-tip with aluminum foil and rest ten minutes before cutting

Starting at point end, cut across the grain into thin strips
From somewhere on the web

1 box Jiffy Cornbread Mix
10 oz pkg of frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and squeezed with a clean kitchen towel
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (can use Colby-Jack)
3 eggs, beaten
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne

Heat oven to 375°.

Grease an 8” square baking pan.

Mix all ingredients and pour into baking pan.

Bake 30 minutes.

For a drier cornbread, bake in a 9” x 13” baking dish and reduce baking time.
I call it Pain-in-the-tush-dirty-every-dish-in-the-kitchen Cake

5 eggs, separated and room temperature
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
  For Frosting
1 8-oz pkg cream cheese
4 cups (1 lb) powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup flaked coconut, toasted

Heat the oven to 325°.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg yolks and beat well.  Stir in the vanilla.

Whisk together the flour and baking soda and add to creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beating well after each addition.

Stir in the coconut and pecans.

In another mixing bowl, with clean beater, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold into cake batter.

Pour into two greased and floured 9” baking pans.  Bake 40-45 minutes. 

Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

For frosting, beat all ingredients except coconut until creamy.  Frost cake and sprinkle with coconut.
Decorate with pecan halves, if desired.  Store in the refrigerator.

On Friday, Nephew Ron came down from Kansas City to sign the papers and close on Brother Sonny's property.  A sad day, but one of relief that one more thing is finished and can be crossed off the "Settling the Estate List".  No more Sonnyville, but in a way he's still there, as we scattered his ashes over the property he dearly loved.  No more Sonny, but in a way he's still here because we have all the wonderful memories.

Ron and I had lunch at FD's Grillhouse, and of course I chose my favorite tilapia and shrimp.

Then I met Friend Katie Sue at Nearly Famous for Lemon-Blueberry Cake and coffee so we could catch up on card making and paper crafting news.  

Tales:  I managed to finish two books this week.  One more Covington book, and that will be the end of the seven-book series.  And now that I've read Susan Branch's latest book, I must wait until the next trip to Great Britain, after which she'll bless us with another.  If you haven't signed up for her blog at yet, please do.  You'll be happy you did.  And read my review on her latest book at, which tells the whole story.

And Miscellaneous T's:  I filed my Taxes and can forget about that for another year, and my Termites have been treated behind the house - no more flowers close to the foundation.

I didn't intend this to be a food blog, but it seems I've leaned in that direction.  Time to shift gears and get back to the T's and T's, which I shall do this week.  If you don't know what they are, check my "Complete Profile".  

Be sure to make a wish on the full Pink Moon on April 22.

So back to Taking Care of Our Health:  Apples, leafy green vegetable, and tea every day, a fruit or vegetable from each color group (red, white, green, yellow or orange, blue or purple) each day, eight glasses of water, thirty minutes of exercise five times a week, ten minutes of sun, a good night's sleep.

And back to Things That Grow.  I planted my seeds too early and most did not germinate. Now I have a flourishing crop of weeds in that soil I prepared so carefully.  Gardening is not my most accomplished talent.  You might say it's the least accomplished.  Much to do in this department this week.






Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Travel and Tasting continue.
Day Four  

We decided to walk over to Jackson Square and check on the progress at the Presbytere.  It was still closed, so we looked around for breakfast.  Some of the palm readers and fortune tellers get there early so they can reserve a spot.  

This doggie gets his own bed

I don't know his story.  He was nearby.  Maybe just homeless.

We walked down to the original French Market, which started out as a Farmer's Market, but now is mainly food and shopping.  We found Joan of Arc.

A fire truck went by and I liked this photo of all the shiny metal.

We found a breakfast buffet at The Market Cafe.

We visited two National Park locations.  One had a great courtyard.

And I'd love to know the name of this plant.

Bill did some shopping here.

And I peeked in the windows here.

We saw more street vendors

The bead tree.  And the parades don't even go through the French Quarter.

We saw statues.

Street musicians.

And the seedy side.  The sidewalks are badly damaged and trash cans line the streets.

We got on the hop on-hop off bus I told you about.  The brochure doesn't tell you it's for three days, so I made a big boo-boo by not buying the tickets the first day.  Maybe it wasn't a boo-boo after all.  I needed all that walking.

We got off at Mardi Gras World - a must if you visit New Orleans.  Float parts line the entry.

When the tour started, we had a movie about Mardi Gras and its history and were served King Cake.

The tour continued into the studios where the actual work takes place.

Then we were allowed to walk around and take photos of the floats stored here. They're from the Orpheus Krewe, founders include Harry Connick Sr and Jr.  Their floats always have flowers.

These two are always included, and it has become good luck to throw your beads back and try to land them on one or the other.  Sorry, I've forgotten their names.

There are costumes to wear for photos.

And they're already starting on plans for next year.  They can make flowers ahead and many parts of the floats are reworked.  Betsy Ross might become a mermaid, etc.

I don't know who this guy is -

but here he is again.

Thirty percent of the work is for commercial accounts.  Recognize the Chick fil A cow?

And they even have a robot now to do part of the work.

The gift shop also has props.

And fun things to buy.  Here's Let the Good Times Roll on cocktail napkins.

Voodoo dolls to give bad luck to others.

Or Ju Ju dolls to bring good luck. Maybe I'll make one to see if I can change my windshield luck.

Mardi Gras World is right on the river.  You can bring your lunch and eat outside or just have an ice cream, as we did.

Still more props outside the gift shop.

(Sorry, Mike, I blurred the ra-ra's)

Time to leave and finish our Hop on-Hop off tour, take a look at the Riverwalk Mall and find dinner.  We decided to eat at The Crazy Lobster, which used to look like this, but some guy had too much to drink and decided to take a ride and broke one of the lobsters.  (Photo is from a prior trip).

It's near the Spanish Plaza

Of course, I had fried food.

Bill had char-grilled oysters.

And bread pudding with bourbon sauce, large enough for a family.  We both worked on it, but we couldn't finish it.

I decided to end the day and pack and read.  Bill went out for music again.

End of Day Four - burp!

Day Five

We took Highway 90 almost all the way.  This was a day of Tasting.  We found a cute little diner called The Big Easy Diner for breakfast.

Now I know about pan bread.  It's a piece of a roll, buttered and toasted on the grill.  Just can't get enough of these southern grits.

Then lunch at The Harbor View Cafe

Bill had salad and linguine with crawdads.

And I had the salad sampler.

Than dinner at The Beau Rivage, where the buffet is well know around the south.  I tried Bill's etouffee (the bowl on the left), but found it's too spicy for my taste.  A lot of the Cajun dishes taste very similar to me, with onions, carrots, and bell peppers, known as their Trinity.

Remember the flower border on the table when I talk about the hotel later.

A dessert sampler, of course.  The rice pudding isn't a good as Friend Bev's.

Now that we've covered the food, I'll tell you about a couple of stops along the way.  I'm not sure where this is, but not far inside the Mississippi state line, because there was also a State Visitor Center here (closed, of course).  We didn't go in because the place would soon be swarming with school children - they were already getting lined up to go in.  It's the Infinity location of Nasa Stennis Space Center.

There was plenty to see outside.

My camera screen is barely visible in sunlight (what happened to view finders?), so when I took three photos of the alligator, I got one photo so far away the alligator wasn't distinguishable, one photo of a log, and one photo of muddy water.  Fortunately, I had the foresight to take Brother Bill along with his phone camera.

Next stop - Beauvoir (which means Beautiful View), the last home of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy.

Beauvoir took a direct hit from Katrina.  I was amazed at the progress in its restoration. The museum was formerly in the basement of the main house.  Now it has its own brand new building, but many of the artifacts are gone forever.  The two smaller buildings flanking the house have been restored as well.  There's a movie in the museum and a DVD in the small house which was the former owner's school rooms, then Jefferson's library with some built-ons for living quarters.  The DVD is not the same movie as the museum.  The other small house was for itinerant ministers and judges.  The out-building kitchen has become restrooms.

Photos were allowed, but no flash.  There's no wallpaper - everything is painted.

There's no crown molding, it's all paint.

The doors are cypress, painted to look like oak.

According to the guide, the throw is needlework of Varina Davis (Mrs. Jefferson Davis).

The wings at the back of the house.

In the wings, Jefferson's bedroom (and bathtub).

Varina's bedroom (connecting doors).

The Dining Room with Food Warmer

The Kiddies Dining Room

The house for visiting ministers

The school/Davis library (where we watched the DVD)

Beauvoir is on Highway 90 with the Gulf of Mexico on the other side.

The Museum

Katrina's damage

Jefferson Davis was a kind and forgiving man, with a life of tragedy.  He lost a wife prior to Varina, and four sons.  When he was arrested, after the Civil War, he was put in a cell and even shackled.  He was a man without a country, a non-citizen, because he would not swear an loath of loyalty to the Union, believing that the constitution gave states the right to secede.  He was finally pardoned by President Carter.  

"Read the memoirs of Jefferson Davis" has been added to my bucket list.

And now, one of most beautiful hotels you'll ever see:  Beau Rivage in Biloxi, MS. The theme is flowers and yes, the ferns, blue hydrangeas and yellow begonias are real.

Tiny squares make up this mosaic.

If you like to swim or bake, is there a nicer place than this?

The Gulf is not accessible from the hotel, and the marina was taken out by Katrina and has not been replaced.  You have to peer over the wall beyond the pool to see the Gulf.

A peek in some of the shops - couldn't possibly pass up a chance to see dishes.

The view from my room - water side cost more.

Say Goodbye to the Beau Rivage

End of Day Five

Day Six

Today is a long drive back to West Memphis.  We couldn't find breakfast until we saw a sign which said 49 Flea Market and a little sign which said Eaves Cafe.

Breakfast was - well, breakfast.

Pretty boring day until we turned off the highway to look for lunch in Winona, MS, where we met a feisty little lady named Kia, who was an excellent waitress.  She says that she's all sunshine and daisies, and I agree.  Here she is with the owner of the restaurant, appropriately called "The Tracks".

The restaurant is the old train station, and right next to the restaurant is an abandoned rail car, along with a caboose.  We had a delightful lunch, as well as a delightful visit, with the people who make The Track a success.  Lots of character -

Some history

Great food: Fried Green Tomatoes to share; Shrimp Po Boy for Bill; and Chopped Beef Steak with Mushrooms and Onions plus a Baked Potato for me.

Too bad we were late for the special - such a deal

We hated to leave, but we still had lots of driving to get to West Memphis, AR.

Dinner was at Las Margaritas Fiesta next door to the Days Inn.  I wasn't hungry, so I ordered taquitos.  I ate two, Bill ate one and we left the other.  First time I've ever had taquitos made with ground instead of shredded beef.  Bill said his chicken enchilada was okay.

I've been told that if you can't say something nice, you shouldn't say anything at all, so I will tell you that the motel was quiet.

End of Day Six

Day Seven

Homeward bound and not much to see along the way.  We happened across this raven in Ravenden, AR.

  We made a stop at Mammoth Springs State Park near the Arkansas/Missouri border.

This was a hydroelectric station until the 1920's, but no longer in use.

We decided to have lunch here and the lady at the visitor center recommended Carrie's.

The American Legion had just finished their meeting.

Bill and I both had pork tenderloin sandwiches; mine with fries, his with zucchini fries.

Carrie, the owner, kept checking on us and we had fun discussing food.  She treated us to an order of her onion fries, which are excellent, and taste like the Blooming Onion from Outback.  Carrie was born here and worked as a waitress for 20+ years until she finally got the nerve to strike out on her own last June.  Her place is clean; it's easy on and off the highway, the service is friendly, and the food is good.  She should do well.

And then it was time to head for home so I could get to the library to pick up a book they had on hold before they sent it back into circulation.  We got there 25 minutes before closing.

End of Day Seven.  End of trip.  Whew!

Tidbit:  I picked up a paper in the lobby while waiting for Bill and look at these chicken prices.  Four different stores.  Why is our chicken so high compared to theirs?  And isn't it fun to see papers from other areas?  A Mini Muffaletta Platter.  You won't see that in my paper.  And Blue Bell ice cream - 2 for $9.  I pay $6+ for one.

Thinning and Trimming:  Remember the two pounds I said that I gained?  I got on the scales this morning and poof! gone.  It's magic.