Thursday, June 30, 2011


Posted by PicasaWhat we have here is a beautiful jar of lovely bright watermelon colored pickled radishes. I have no clue how they are going to taste as I need to wait another day before trying them. The recipe sounded interesting and I love radishes. They are certainly festive looking.
Here is the recipe.
Pickled radishes.
10 red radishes, trimmed, unpeeled and quartered
8 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 cups distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Combine first three ingredients in a clean quart jar. After measuring your vinegar in a measuring cup add the salt and sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the vinegar mixture to the jar and shake good.
Put in fridge and let sit for at least three days. Shake everyday.
So it is certainly easy and hopefully a crunchy good taste.
Normally I will not share a recipe until I have tried it. But this is so simple and luscious looking, what would be not to like?

The past few days I have changed up my daily routine a bit.
I get earlier than usual, have my two cups of coffee, put on my walking shoes and head out the door. I am back from my walk before seven-thirty. Then as I am cooling down I make myself a bite of breakfast. I am really enjoying this. It gives me so much more time during the day to do whatever and I do not feel rushed as sometimes happens. And I do not worry about getting my walk in as it is done and over for the day. I am really going to adhere to this routine as I feel I have more energy throughout the day.

It is not a pretty day here. The paper said 69 degrees with sun and clouds. At this point it is mostly dull gray clouds with high humidity. Today is the last day of cool and clouds supposedly. The rest of the week is warmer with lots of sunshine.

I cut our first head of romaine lettuce last night for a salad. It was so tender and tasty. Our red leaf is ready now too. I will take one of each to my sis in law this weekend.
I must make a run to the farm tomorrow for fresh strawberries for our strawberry shortcake Saturday. A nice birthday cake substitution for hubby. Also tomorrow I must run for a hair cut. My hair is out of control at this point I am way overdue for a cut. It is nice to be home today with my basic chores done already. So the day is mine for the choosing. I love that.

My brother and his sons will be camping at Silver Lake in Washington state over the 4th. It is nice he can share time with his sons. He is loving his new trailer. He just leaves it up there for the season which is so much easier for him. All he needs to do to when he goes for a few days now is take his groceries and clothes. Everything is already there. Really perfect for him.
I am going to join him there for a couple nights the end of July. Brother/ sister time out on the boat doing a little plunking for pan fish. It is always a fun time. Campfire under a black sky splashed with stars is soul touching. No noise, no towns nearby, nothing but frogs croaking and crickets chattering to interrupt our solitude. 

Well Let me see what do I want to do now? Something that needs doing or amusing myself with something I enjoy?  It is not even noon yet I am surely enjoying this new schedule of mine.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Posted by PicasaI love my potted flowers. I have several now scattered about the back deck. They just make me happy when I see them with their little faces all bright and happy.

Hubby is finishing a job today and then no more work for a few days. We have some events coming up. As well as the 4th we will be celebrating hubbies birthday and our anniversary. July is a fun month for us usually with our gatherings, parties and such.
We have been trying to decide what to do for his birthday day. I think Hubby wants to go to his fave mexican restaurant and order lots of food and have his favorites margarita's. So that is fine with me it is his day to choose. I have picked him up some goodies to open later and we will have family down for fresh strawberry shortcake and whipped cream after we return from our late lunch. Hopefully the weather will be nice so we can enjoy the evening outdoors. We are surrounded in our area by strawberry fields. They are coming on now a little later than usual due to the damp spring. They are always such a treat. 
My daughter bought me a bright yellow pail style ice bucket. Very cute! I am anxious to use it.  So I will fill with ice and pop in a bottle of pinot gris should go great with the strawberry shortcake. I love new things for entertaining!

Hubby will be working on our anniversary on a big job so we will not celebrate on that day. We have been discussing running over to the beach for a night when we have the time and eating at our favorite place for fish and chips then spending the night in the ocean front hotel there. That would be a nice anniversary treat.  Over the fourth we usually find ourselves doing nothing or going to his sisters house for food and street fireworks. Street fireworks are not a fave of mine and I really feel strongly they are just an annoyance to a great many folks. Especially folks with pets as most go ballistic because of the noise. I do know though my husband enjoys it.  I have come to the conclusion it is mainly for kids and men.

We had the most amazing fish dinner last and truthfully I had planned to take a photo while either cooking or after plating but I forgot and started eating. We had orange roughy fillets. Mouth watering believe me. Tonight we are just having simple fare. Chicken fried steaks made with cubed steaks and mashed garlic and sour cream potatoes with gravy and a garden salad. Nothing special but good old country cooking.

It is such a pleasant day today. I have both doors open as the front and back doors both have screen doors. I truly love screen doors. Not a slider just a plain old fashioned screen door. I remember so often when I was young my Mom saying as I left don't slam the screen door and of course it would slam. That is what screen doors do. But there is something nostalgic about them. Like Grandma's house you know what I mean? An old fashioned thing. I love the fresh air that comes in and I have the ceiling fans circulating it throughout the house. I do not mind the cooler weather no need for the air conditioning but I do like the sky blue. Which it is today with a few whimsical clouds spattered about here and there.

Today I worked for a couple of hours catching up the office. Also the washer and dryer are busy today. For two folks why all the laundry? Must be hubby.

Well I need to take my daily stroll so best get out the door. The walk will be lovely today with the nice day and the neighborhood seems quite quiet, I like that. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

THOUGTHS AND TIPS BY ZO as the garden grows.

Posted by PicasaWhile we were sitting in the garden yesterday afternoon I was jotting down some kitchen and cooking tips. Always good to have short cuts and tips from someone else. Of course any cook always has her own.

So here goes:
On entertaining.
Always be organized!!!! first and foremost.
Do your food prep as far in advance as possible even the day before if it will hold or store that long.
Have your table set and ready to go right down to the last detail. Always use cloth napkins and unless you are serving a hundred folks no paper plates. Not a fave of any one's. I love to mix and match plates and flatware. It is fun and festive. If you are setting up a buffet be inventive. Use vases, tin cans, old jars etc to stick the silverware and napkins in. Also tuck in fresh cut flowers in the same type of containers and if you have the room mingle several of them in with the food. Set out varying size plates big, medium and small for kids or tiny appetites. Use a variety of colors shapes and sizes. Make sure when you set the food out that it is in the order. For instance, salad or soup first, then entree and sides and then bread and condiments etc and finally desert. You would think this is a no brainer but believe me I have been to buffets where nothing is in order you miss things and it is confusing.
All the chopping, dicing, slicing should be done ahead and put into the fridge in zip locks or containers so they are ready to go when you need them.
Make sure your dishwasher is empty.
Do all your house hold chores way ahead. On the day of the event there is no time for housekeeping. You want to spend your time making your guests happy and looking great and feeling relaxed.
If serving drinks have your bar set up ahead. All glasses sparkling and ready to be filled.

Easy starters.
Bruchetta is always good. I drizzle olive both sides and broil both sides till crispy. Then I rub cut halves of garlic cloves on the toasts, a sprinkle of kosher salt and then add finely grated hard cheese like Romano,  Parmesan or asiago and let melt. Another good idea when you have  wonderful fresh tomatoes from your garden, rub a half of tomato over the garlic on the toast, it turns a pretty pink color and is very tasty. There are hundreds of options. The other night I used olive oil, garlic, asiago and fresh flat leaf parsley finely chopped. Nummy.
I like to set out divided trays of mixed olives, cheeses, nuts, peppers, pickles, nuts, crackers. Trader Joe's multigrain and flax seed crackers are wonderful and only a dollar box, a steal.

I find that wine and beer are the easiest to deal with if you are providing the alcohol.  I like to have a nice variety of white wine on hand and some club soda if some folks care for spritzers. I always have a jammy red wine and a lighter red for later in the evening especially if I am serving a desert with chocolate. Remember to put more reasonable wines in cute pitchers or carafes it helps them breathe as well and no one knows it came from a jug or a box!
When grilling be organized I cannot say it enough. I have a big tray and all I need is on it sitting right by the grill. No running back into the kitchen for necessary items.
Also make a sandwich sauce to spread on the buns. It is easier and takes up less room than individual condiments.
I blogged recently about a sauce I make with all that is normally used on a burger. If someone is a purist and for instance likes mustard only you can always grab the jar out of the fridge. Just put out the mixed sauce and most folks will just spread it on as it is what is offered.
When I make potatoes whether boiled, baked or whatever I always make extra. So breakfast in the morning for hubby is a snap. Just dice or slice up the potatoes and fry with eggs and whatever.
Hubby likes to pick up those small beer kegs for entertaining. You know the ones you get in the grocery stores? They are fun and kind of a man thing.
We do martini's sometimes. Hubby once again takes these on. We have two shakers which is a must when you are entertaining. We like pomegranate martini's and also dirty martini's. Buy the best vodka you can afford it does make a difference. Make sure your ice bin is full and have your cocktail picks and whatever tid bits you are putting on them ready to roll.

About shortcuts or enhancements.
I always try to go for tasty first and simple second when entertaining. I do not want to be slaving away in the kitchen while everyone else is having a fun.
Whatever your menu here are some little shortcuts that save time and taste good as well.
I keep packaged gravy mix on hand. Yes I know packaged mix but I add my drippings from whatever into a skillet add the gravy mix instead of flour and stir to make a paste and then add water(potato water is best if boiling potatoes.) Stir away, mmmm good flavor and easy.
Also packaged Italian salad dressing mix is a time saver make according to directions but also add fresh herbs and garlic and Parmesan cheese yummy what a difference. I always have Italian dressing mix on hand such a good marinade on so many things and easy.
I use panko crumbs for everything. It is my mainstay in the crumb world.
I love to add brown sugar and balsamic vinegar to my tomato based sauces like swiss steak sauce for instance. Anything that is a little to acidic a tad of brown sugar takes that right out and adds good flavor. A quick topping for meatloaf of any kind is a mixture of ketchup, Worcestershire, horseradish,brown sugar and balsamic vinegar and pepper to taste. This is a tangy sauce with a nice rich glaze.
Use top roman noodles in a variety of things, salads, soups, noodle bowls, they are small and crunchy. I throw away the seasoning packets, use what you like for seasonings. A fave lunch of mine is my cooked ramon noodles, with scallions, spinach and a shot of Braggs amino acids. Too yummy. Just add the fresh spinach to the noodles while cooking in the water and sprinkle the scallions on top after you bowl it. What you have is a lovey noodle soup. Braggs is a soy based product which is good for you and taste better than soy sauce and it is not so salty. You can buy it in the health food section of your grocery store. Also use it in soups, stews gravies.
I use a lot of polenta in recipes. The rolls are very convenient you can slice and bake it, fry it, or mash it. Instant polenta is easy also not as much stirring as regular polenta. No need to refrigerate the rolls they store on the pantry shelf.
My corn muffins are made with Jiffy cornbread mix but I cut down on the liquid a bit and add cottage, yes cottage cheese. Makes the texture wonderful and gives it a tang. Also you can add a bit of cheese or scallions or jalenpeno slices or whatever, use your imagination.
If you do not own one of the Cake Dr's cookbooks. Go buy one. These are good cakes started with a mix. You would never know they are not from scratch in fact my banana cake is always requested by family for celebrations. I make according to the cook book directions and it is yummy, but I make the frosting always from scratch and a perfect frosting for this cake, is cream cheese frosting with a sprinkling of chopped mixed nuts. I dollop the frosting on the cake and then use a butter knife or the flat side of a soup spoon to make interesting patterns in the frosting. Always put strips of wax paper between the bottom layer and the plate. Just tuck under a little so you can easily pull it out. There is no mess on the plate that way. I decorate cakes with fresh flowers and a lot or other things that are unusual, use your imagination. Of course there is nothing better than a from scratch cake and I have plenty of favorites that I make from time to time. Here again make your deserts a day ahead of your party. 
When making apple pie use gravenstein apples if possible. They make the juiciest pies ever. When this pie is baking is like going back to childhood for me. My Mom's fave cooking apple. If not available buy the freshest juiciest apples available.
A good way to make lemonade is muddle some fresh mint in the bottom of a glass and pour your homemade lemonade over with ice add a mint leaf to float on top. You can also do the same with club soda, add lemon wedges, grapes, melons wedges, pineapple or mint fill with ice, same with ice tea These are perfect summer time drinks. When I make lemonade I use fresh squeezed lemons and add simple syrup. Simple syrup is nothing more than equal parts of sugar and water brought to boil so the sugar dissolves. Let cool and use.

I have many more ideas and thoughts to be saved for another time.
I know I am stickler for organization but truly you do not know how many times  I been invited to someones home and everything is just chaos. Nothing prepared in advance, the table or buffet not set and the dinner that was to be served at seven is now being served at nine. All could be easily prevented by being ORGANIZED AHEAD OF TIME.

Enough of my thoughts at this point you are probably sick of them!
Till later.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Posted by PicasaWell now this was a tasty splendid mouthful! Everything other than the roll of polenta was fresh ingredients. The sauce was made from my freezer tomato sauce, the herbs from my herb barrel, the peppers and onions from the farmers market. Of course I did not make the cheese but would have if I could have!
This is an original recipe so I claim it proudly.

Polenta Sausage casserole.
3 sausages pre-boiled then fried till golden brown. My choices are chicken garlic, bratwurst, Italian sausage or whatever is your fave. If they are already cooked just brown nicely in a skillet with some olive oil.
1 roll of organic polenta sliced to fit the bottom of the casserole.
2 bell peppers in two different colors halved, seeded and sliced. I also tossed in a half of Anaheim pepper.
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 half small onion diced
1 Jar marinara sauce or make your own
Fresh thyme, fresh basil, fresh oregano. If in a pinch you can use dried oregano. About a tablespoon of each fresh. Use much less if dried.
1 med size package of shredded Italian cheese
Cracked black pepper to taste
Paprika for sprinkling over the top
Olive oil
Note* You do not need the sausage just make it veggie by adding another pepper or leeks or be inventive.

Prepare a casserole dish with cooking spray. Last night I used a little smaller casserole but originally I made the recipe for a 9x13 pan.
Lay the sliced polenta over the bottom of the casserole.
Saute the onion and garlic in a dab of olive oil and add to your marinara sauce along with the chopped herbs.
Saute the pepper slices in a drizzle of olive oil until bite tender.
Put the peppers on top of the polenta top next add the browned sausage slices then add the marinara sauce. Top with cheese evenly over the top and sprinkle with paprika and cracked black pepper.

Bake uncovered in a 350 oven for a half hour till the cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.
Remove from oven and let sit for ten minutes.
Serve with a good crusty bread and or a green salad.
You will love it and it is easy.

So tonight we repeat dinner. Love that idea an easy night for me.
I went on my run to various places today for needed items. When I returned home and put all away I worked in the backyard for a while weeding and deadheading plants.
Hubby surprised me by walking through the door just a bit ago. Home early for a change that does not happen often. So it will be lovely having him about this afternoon. I just heard him mention the garden is waiting for us to soak up some warmth. 
So I am off for some sun...........ah summer.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Posted by PicasaHere they are the little munchkins! Little Audrey in her cute cap and Jack in his swing and in the yard a few days ago enjoying the nice weather. Jack was a November baby and Audrey came three months later in February. She is petite and he is, well he is a big boy! I am so happy my grand nieces keep these adorable photos coming my way. It makes me feel close even though I do not see them in person. They are both such adoring Mommies.

I am posting this tomorrow but now it is Wednesday evening and I starting this blog as hubby just called and he is held up in construction traffic. At a dead stop who knows when he will be home. Why do they do road construction on busy through-ways at rush hour? A nightmare. So the grill awaits his arrival.
I have the shrimp marinating in garlic, lemon, olive oil, herbs and seasonings. Oh it smells so appetizing. Cannot wait. I have my rub on the steak doing it's thing. All should be very tasty.

I just heard on the news that the average person gains nine pounds every ten years! What? Well I guess if I honestly look back that is almost true. I was so fit and the perfect weight when I met my hubby. Well now that is not the case however I am 29 years older, but still I could do better. Weight has slowly crept on especially when I quit working.  I feel I eat quite healthy and adhere to small portions but I need more exercise in my life besides my daily walk. I am going to buy a hula hoop that would be good. I will be going shopping soon for some new summer togs so that is my inspiration to drop a few pounds.

Well it is Thursday morning now. Hubby finally wound his way home avoiding most of the delays last night.
Our dinner was yummy and he just hit sofa after eating. It was a long hard day for him. What he does refinishing and installing hardwood floors is such a hard job. I appreciate his work ethic so much he never complains though I can see his body is aching at the end of the day. But he always has a smile when we walks through the door in the evening. He is a very sweet guy and I am blessed to have him in my life.

I am thinking that I may run up to the Dollar Tree today for a few things. I find I buy a lot of cleaning products there. Of course you cannot beat the price. I also need to make a run to Trader Joe's for a few staples I only get there. I have already done my grocery shopping for the week but I feel like getting out today.

Tonight for dinner I am making my sausage, polenta, pepper casserole. This is a great dish to make especially when the red, yellow and orange bell peppers are on sale. It is a very pretty dish as well as so very tasty. I am using bratwurst this time however it makes up grand with any kind of sausage or no sausage at all. I will check back through my earlier blogs to see if I have posted the recipe for this casserole if not I will include it with a photo tomorrow.

Well the day awaits me so I best step into it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Posted by PicasaThis recipe is called Holiday Banana Bread. Reason being at holiday time you add dried cherries or cranberries or any kind of nuts or whatever you desire to the recipe. What I added yesterday was flax meal and chopped cashews. I have made it many different ways always yummy and always turns out perfect if you do not over bake.

The recipe is such.
Holiday Banana Bread.
1 stick of butter melted
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs at room temp
3 mashed bananas
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup of chopped nuts or mixture of whatever.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all the ingredients and mix well folding in the nuts last. Pour into bread loaf pan that has been greased and floured.
Bake for 45 minutes then place foil over the top of the pan so the bread does not get too brown. Bake another 15 minutes. Cool and serve.
So good with a smear of cream cheese or honey butter.
I just had a piece with my morning coffee just warmed as is. Very hearty and tasty.

I really have nothing on my agenda for the day. I love that. Like a blank canvas I can fill in or let just happen what happens.
I will walk in a bit. Right now it is very pleasant outside. We woke to bright blue skies and big sun at present there are a few high feathered clouds. 
Yesterday it did not get as warm as predicted as we had coastal clouds moving in and out throughout the day. We did run the air conditioner last evening as it was somewhat muggy.

If I have a mind to I will work a little more in our back yard area today. It would behoove me to get some yard work taken care of before hot summer mode sets in.

I have new photo's of Audrey and Jack which I will post tomorrow. Such adorable babies. Fun to have babies in the family again it has been many years since little ones have graced our lives.
Enjoy your day whatever you are doing.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Posted by PicasaDaughter Gina, enjoying our belated birthday gift exchange which are bags full of little meaningful or non-meaningful things. We get delighted no matter what.
For three days we laughed, ate good food and drank too much wine I fear. That happens sometimes when we get together. We just get to happy and want to celebrate. The first day she arrived we sat in the garden spot and felt the heat between clouds. We opened our gifts and I made shredded beef tostado's for dinner. The next day we woke to gray we were planning to be out and about so we just weathered the storm. It was a strange rain, a soaking mist that got heavier and denser as the day went on. We ate at PF Chang's Chinese Bistro their food is always divine. We had a starter of their tangy chicken lettuce wraps. Actually we were full after the appetizer but we wanted to order something as we knew we could bring it home. I ordered a rice dish and Gina ordered a noodle dish. We then made a stop at the grocery store on the way home for peppers, cilantro and limes as hubby wanted to make Gina the hot harbanaro salsa she likes. Then we stopped at a cute little place in the neighborhood to play a little video poker. Now granted we are not big gamblers  but this is something that the two of us like to do sometimes. So that was our second day.
Third day found us under pretty skies and warm weather. We chatted and sat in the garden and then later I made blue cheese stuffed burgers on seeded kaiser rolls. I also added crispy bacon and provolone cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onion slices , jalenpeno slices and my special burger sauce. Well these were mighty tall burgers. I do so wish I had taken a photo. Once again I could barely get my over to take my first bite. I did only eat half though due to the size of the thing. However daughter and hubby managed to eat the whole thing! I had baked potato salad to go with and lemon pudding and whipped cream for a late desert. So it was a simple fun meal and we dined at the patio table. I loved that and have missed dining outdoors.  The evening was warm and lovely.
So that was my Gina's visit to her Mom's.

I just crashed yesterday I was worn out I suppose. Late hours on top of the too much of everything else!
Today I rallied around and was at the grocery stores quite early then on for another stash of reading material. 
The washer has been spinning away as I catch up on laundry.  Now I am going to make a very delicious banana bread. I have tossed all my other banana bread recipes except for this one. It is amazing.  It is always moist with great banana flavor and I load it with nuts and flax. I will take a photo tomorrow and post the recipe.
Tonight it a veggie meal. Bakers loaded with a garden salad and home made blue cheese dressing. I do not know what time hubby will be home from the job site today but I am thinking late as it is a big job. He will be so tired as it is muggy and warm today.

So I am off to the kitchen to make the banana bread then will watch a couple of episodes of my fave new cooking program. It is French Food at Home with Laura Calder. I love it and enjoy her so much. She is delightful and it is kind of a whimsical little show. For some reason right now I am so into everything French. Odd I wonder why?

Thursday, June 16, 2011


This is the little dinner I fixed with the left over beer can chicken a few days ago. This is always a good meal especially if you care for mexican food. It is not spicy unless you make it that way with added hot sauce or salsa over the top. It is a good way to use left over chicken or pork.

Today I have underway a boneless beef roast in the slow cooker. I made my rub of spices and kosher salt and patted that into the meat and then seared the meat before adding to the slow cooker.
This helps keeps it juicy as well as gives it great flavor. I first added fresh garlic and chopped onions and a few slices of bell pepper to the slow cooker before adding the meat. I then drizzled a little beef stock over the top. All will be done by six. I will serve tonight with boiled red potatoes and make a brown gravy from the drippings. I will serve with steamed broccoli for a side dish. This roast will morph into tomorrow nights dinner which hubby and I will share with Gina. I will be making shredded beef tostado's heaped with refried beans,  chopped ice berg lettuce, sweet onion, tomatoes and grated cheese, sour cream and hot sauce. This is a easy meal to make and it will be light, if we just eat one each.

I had a marathon of a shopping day yesterday. I left the house before nine and did not get home until after two. As I have said before I am not a shopper but I needed to pick up my daughter some items for her birthday bag and also grocery shop for the week. I went to three grocery stores for specified items and sales. Then also banked, had the oil changed in my rig and went to two discount stores, plus the mall. I was worn to a frazzle. I did accomplish all I wanted though and that was the goal. I just could never understand the thrill of shopping. I shop when I must or absolutely need something. To just stroll around a mall or shops just looking and perhaps making purchases that I do not need has never been my idea of fun. I was the same when I was a young girl. My friends never like to go shopping with me and I never tag along with them. I just want to buy whats needed and the get the heck out of there. My Mother thought it was funny. She rather liked to go and browse but not with me. She said I was no fun and she knew I would be getting irritated or bored or whatever it is I get when I shop. 

Now today I will wash the living room windows in and out. Clean the other parts of the house I did not get to on Tuesday. Wrap my daughters gifts and clean the deck. The deck needs cleaning every day it seems. As soon as hubby finishes these next two jobs and has a break for a couple of days he will stain the deck and I will paint the deck railings. We do this every year as we must.

Our garden is looking good! The third planting of the cucumbers succeeded.  The squash leaves are getting quite large now and the walla walla onions look amazing. I wish we had planted more of them. The romaine looks healthy now and the red leaf lettuce is also doing well. We are growing a salad in our garden. What fun that is to pick all you need outside your door for a fresh salad. We just love it! Can't wait!

It is pretty here this morning. The day is bright, the sky is blue, the air is warm. What is not to like? I will get my walk underway here shortly. I did not walk yesterday as I ran out of time. I hate when I miss but sometimes it just does not happen. If I wait to late in the day my back will not allow it. I do not like the fact that I am getting older and dealing with issues like that.

My son called yesterday. He was chuckling as he now has a singing dog. Mike was playing his harmonica outdoors the other day while enjoying time with his dog. Well Bruin started to bark at first but the then he started singing and howling right along. Mike got so tickled by his antics he stopped playing and started laughing. When he quit playing Bru tipped his head at him and wanted more music. So Mike started up again and Bru put his head to the sky and wailed and sang.  So Mike and Bru had a fun time hanging out together and making music.  Now Mike will say to Bru do you want to hear the Monica(as he calls it to Bru) and Bruin gets all excited same as if he were getting a doggy treat. So his big doggy learned a new trick.

Well as you can tell I really have nothing of real importance to say so I am just chattering. I do not know if I will write again until my daughter has left on Monday. There really will not be time as I will be having too much fun!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


This is a French tart made with asparagus, flat leaf parsley, Gruyere cheese, cream, eggs and subtle spices. This is a heavenly tart. Fun to make and luscious to eat.
In truth I was proud of the finished product as it does take a while when the crust and all is made from scratch. 
This is what I did.
Make your favorite pie crust for a single crust. Make a ball and flatten into a disc warp in plastic wrap and set in the fridge for at least a half hour longer is better.
Then roll out and lay and press into a tart pan with removable bottom. Trim crust at the edge of the tart pan.

Asparagus Tart
1 pound fresh asparagus cleaned and trimmed 
2/3 cup shredded Gruyere cheese divided
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley minced
4 eggs lightly beaten
3/4 cup half and half cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Paprika for sprinkling on top
Cut two inches off the top of each piece of asparagus set aside
Cut stem pieces into 3/4 inch long pieces. In small saucepan add the 3/4 length pieces and cover and boil for four minutes. Drain and immediately drop in to ice water let sit a few minutes and then drain and pat dry.
Place the blanched asparagus pieces in the bottom of the tart shell then add 1/3 cup of the cheese and the parsley. In a small bowl combine the eggs, cream, salt, cayenne and nutmeg and pour over the ingredients in the tart shell. Arrange asparagus tops in a pretty pattern over the egg mixture and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and paprika.
Place the tart pan on baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for ten minutes  remove the tart ring and slice.
Bon appetit!!
I served this with a romaine lettuce salad with sliced radishes, grilled corn cut from the cob and sliced sweet onion . Italian dressing to the side with Parmesan shredded cheese and home made garlic Parmesan croutons. 
For desert I made a rustic apple pie with a butterscotch drizzle and a topping of whip cream.
It was a beautiful tasty meal. 
I set the table in a multicolored motif. With colorful patchwork place mats(courtesy of my Mom) and bright red napkins. All looked very festive. We dined while listening to French Cafe music. After dinner we watched a beautiful travel film about the French Rivera.  We had a nice evening with hubby's mother and she truly enjoyed the food and ambiance. 

Now today it is a work day for both hubby and I.
I am cleaning this house from top to bottom. I will also make out the weekly grocery shopping list and menu. With my daughter arriving on Friday and spending three nights I would like to serve some simple food that is not to time consuming to make.
For dinner Friday evening as hubby will work late I will make a polenta, sausage casserole with peppers and onions and the last of our homemade tomato sauce. A simple satisfying meal that I can pop into the oven when hubby walks through the door. As all ingredients are precooked all just needs to meld together and heat through. My daughter and I will have a Saturday late lunch  at PF Changs so hubby will have leftovers, he does not mind. Sunday the menu will be blue cheese stuffed burgers with the works and baked potato salad. Hopefully the weather will be decent so we can eat outdoors at the patio table.  So easy fare with basically no kitchen time so more time for us to play!

Well I had best start my day. I will get my walk out of the way first thing. We have coastal clouds this morning but I can see already they are growing thin and giving way to sunshine. I am a happy gal!

Monday, June 13, 2011


Posted by PicasaHere is Brooke in a senior photo. She is just as sweet as she is pretty.
She gave hubby and I big hugs at her graduation party Sunday and told us she loves us both so much and is so happy we are part of her life! 
Brooke will be acting in different venues around the city from time to time. We will try to attend as many as possible. We enjoy going to the little theater venues in Eugene of which there are many. We will also see her time to time at family gatherings. Brooke will have an amazing life as she is quite mature for her years and has always made good choices. So Congratulations Brooke on your high school graduation.

We woke to rain still coming down this morning early. Also heard it pounding on the roof throughout the night. Our garden is certainly getting a soaking which is does not need. Tomatoes like dry feet as they say so surely all the wet is not to their liking.

Today I must run to the farm for veggies for a asparagus tart and green salad I want everything as fresh as possible. We are having my Mother in law for dinner this evening. She is here in Eugene from Bend for the week. She always enjoys my meals as I usually try to make something I think she would love or not make for herself. I am making a apple rustic pie for desert with vanilla bean ice cream. Now hubby loves that desert.

My house really needs a sorting out this morning we let things get a bit messy over the weekend it seems. 

Hubby starts a big job tomorrow and then has no breaks for two weeks. We are so happy for this work but these long stretches make him so very tired.

My daughter is arriving on Friday and will be here for three nights. Makes me so very happy to have this time with her. We are silly together, and chat non-stop we will eat good food and sip nice wine and have our belated birthday gift ex-change. Let the good times roll!

Well I must make haste today and get to my to-do's.
I do wish the sun was out today all is so dark and gloomy. Well it is what it is.
Hope the sun shines on you today.
Bye for now.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Posted by PicasaI know I have posted a photo of  beer can chicken before but just could not resist. It is so much fun to make and it smells incredible while it is roasting  on the grill. This time was even more amazing as we put a pan of hickory chips in the bottom of the grill. The chicken came out with a crispy skin as you can see and the meat was tender, juicy and smokey. It was the best tasting one we have ever made.
Tonight with the leftovers I am making chicken chili chingalinga's. 
What I do is pull the chicken off the bones and put in a large bowl, to the bowl I will add diced green chili's, onions that I have sauteed in a little butter, red chili flakes to taste salt and pepper and green taco sauce and mix all together.
Then you heat flour tortillas and spoon the mixture on the tortilla and roll and fold to close. I put a toothpick in to hold all in place. Then you drop into hot oil and fry till golden brown. After putting them on a plate you add chopped ice berg lettuce and tomatoes and onions over the top. Then top with cheese and salsa and serve guacamole and sour cream to the side for dipping. You can serve these whole it you like but I like to cut them into thirds or quarters depending how large of tortillas you use. This is my own recipe and we have been making these yummy little guys for years with leftover roasted chicken or roast pork.

We got caught in a hard rain shower this afternoon. We were surprised that this happened today. We were at a graduation party this afternoon and sitting outdoors in this beautiful garden area eating.  A few rain drops started and we noticed a dark line of clouds approaching from the west. It continued to get darker and then the storm let go and hard rain started in earnest. We ran for shelter as the rain spattered down upon us. My thin cotton shirt was just sopped. I was not the only one so at least I did not stand out from the crowd.
Now that we are home the sky seems to be lightening up again so it was just a short event at the wrong time.
Tomorrow I post some photo's of Brooke. Her graduation last night was lovely and she sang like a angel. What a adorable talented gal she is. Today the grad celebration with her friends was lovely.

Well I must call my brother now as I promised I would call this afternoon late.
He has been at the lake camping and is leaving Tuesday morning to another area to boat and camp with his son. He does so well considering he is not a young man any longer. But he stays fit and does what he enjoys. Life is to enjoyed!

Till tomorrow have a lovely Sunday evening.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Posted by PicasaThis was really a good burger. I could barely get my mouth around it but I must have managed as a short while later my plate was clean. I do not usually eat a whole burger of any kind. But I was hungry last night as I had not eaten anything since my breakfast sandwich other than a snack of  a couple wheat crackers and a piece of string cheese.
We had great day outdoors yesterday. We did what was needed in the garden then hubby made a pitcher of his special tequila sunrises and we sat in our garden area under a patio umbrella to keep our frozen drinks from melting. It was festive back there with the fence art and brightly stripped umbrella. It gets so hot there no wonder our garden does well. We later sat on the deck in the shade of a tree and we were so thankful that lawnmower man was not indulging his passion.

We are looking forward to this afternoon and evening. As I mentioned we are attending our niece Brooke's high school graduation at the Hult Center. It is always such a pleasure to go to the Hult Center for the performing Arts. It is a grand facility. We will meet up with hubby's family in the lobby before the event starts. We are going down town a couple of hours earlier to have a nice dinner and stroll around the 5th st Market area. We love doing that. However we have not decided what we are in the mood to have for dinner. There are quite a few eateries in this area so we just need decide what our mouths are watering for.

Hubby starts a large job on Tuesday and will be tied up with that job for over a week. My daughter Gina is coming for a visit on Friday and will spend three nights. We have plans made of course as I am a planner. I do not like to leave things to chance like...........where should we go, what will we do, where will we have lunch etc. I like plans as we want to make every moment count. I know we will eat at PF Changs for one lunch. We both love to sit in their classy bar and have the chicken lettuce wraps for an appetizer. I love their lo mien and always tend to get that however their rice and noodle bowls are wonderful too. We are going to walk in the park one day along the river. Eugene is known for it's bike and walking paths. They are everywhere and go everywhere but the ones along the Willamette river are the prettiest especially this time of year when all is velvet green. I will fix us a meal here one night and we will dine on the patio weather permitting. I am going to try something new as I have hundreds of recipes just begging to be made. There are just not enough days in the week to make all I want to make.

We have the same ol gray blanket of low clouds this morning. However it is suppose to lift to expose sunny skies for the afternoon. At least there are no showers.

We slept in till eight this morning which was nice as we have been up so early every morning. I made us fluffy scrambled eggs with onions, fresh spinach and grated Parmesan cheese for breakfast we also had slices of nine grain toast. I was good and sprinkled on flax seed meal on my slice. You do not taste anything different except perhaps a slight nutty flavor, so our breakfast should hold us until we have our early dinner downtown.

I must get out the door now for my daily walk. I do not feel like walking this morning but I will go as I must.
Till tomorrow.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Nummy, nummy for your tummy and health too.
This is my own little breakfast creation.
One slice of your choice whole grain bread toasted.
Peanut butter
1/2 half banana sliced. Just eat the other half while making your sandwich.
1 teaspoon of flax seed meal
a drizzle of honey

Make the toast and cut in half.
Smear peanut butter on both insides
Sprinkle the flax seed meal over the peanut butter.
Add the sliced banana and drizzle with honey.
Put cut sides together and press. The bananas have a tendency to slip a bit while taking bites. It is not easiest sammie to eat but it is a grand way to start your day!

I went walking really early this morning as hubby was up early and out the door. I walked for forty minutes at a brisk pace. Today the sky is summer blue with pale cotton clouds adrift here and there. The air is warm and it is to be 77 degrees.
I also have made a trip to the farm this morning for a few more flowers, herbs, lettuce and pepper plants. I bought five pepper plants a red cherry bomb a yellow Hungarian wax pepper and two jalenpeno's and one serano. Hubby loves growing peppers it is fun for him and eats them hot or not.
We will work in the garden this afternoon. He will plant and I will get all fertilized it is time again. I am also going to hang my garden fence decor. I have been reluctant to do so because of the weather but now we are to have ten shower free days. FINALLY!
I will also put a festive table cloth on the patio table set up the umbrella and put the patio chair cushions on. I have waited for this day for a long time it seems. I love setting up the deck and making it summer ready.

This evening we are grilling southwest turkey burgers on seeded buns. I like to loosen the turkey up a bit as turkey is so dense. So I normally add a egg and a few bread crumbs and seasonings. When the burgers are medium I will lay on each patty a whole green canned chili pepper on top of that two slices of  cheese one white American and one pepper jack and close the grill lid till the peppers are hot and the cheese is melted.
We always grill our buns to the side while the meat is cooking. Neither hubby nor I care for cold buns. I drizzle them with olive oil and they slowly heat and brown. I will put out lettuce, tomatoes and sweet onion slices to go on the burgers. I love making my simple little sauce for burgers of any kind. A dab of mayo a squirt of ketchup, a squeeze of mustard and a dab of horseradish and onion and garlic powder and black pepper.  There you have all the condiments you would want all mixed together. Easy. I am just serving the burgers with home made pickles and kettle chips the burgers are big and filling.

I hope we can eat outdoors. I say this because it has nothing to do with the weather which will be lovely this evening but it has everything to do with lawn mower man that lives behind our house . His yard is right behind our high row of shrubs. This man mows every two days and goes over his lawn three times. Yes you heard me right, three times. The usual length of time he mows is one hour and twenty minutes. He mows his front and side yards first then the back yard then on alternate days he mows his rental next door. He has the loudest lawn mower we have ever heard. It is just disheartening peparing to eat or grill or just be out on your deck enjoying life when he starts this marathon. His mowing has been a thorn in our side since moving to this house. Does he not think? Is he so bored with his life that all he dreams of is to mow his lawn?  Does he hate his wife? Does he it do it to irritate all the neighbors? Or is the guy just an IDIOT?  So we are holding good thoughts that tonight there will not be a mowing event.

Well I must get going on my outdoor chores and I cannot wait I am so excited to make summer happen on our deck.
I hope your day is lovely as well wherever you are.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Posted by PicasaHow would like to spend a summer here in Vicenza? I know I surely would. What a fortunate girl young Sarah is. I suppose you all know if you click on the photo's they will come up larger.
I am still waiting to receive an e-mail from Sarah but her parents have communicated with her so they know she made the trip without mishap and is settling in. In fact she has already been doing a little sight seeing. Yesterday she was at a popular beach enjoying time with other student teachers. Way to go Sarah!

Today is Tuesday even though I started this blog yesterday.
I went grocery shopping early this morning so the weeks menu is set. I tried to not spend to much but what to do when the freezer goods are lacking and the pantry is sparse? It seems all at once we needed lots!

When I watered the garden yesterday I noticed that the lettuce has holes in the leaves. Must be bugs of some sort. Darn. So I will look up online what needs to be done to discourage them. Of course as I mentioned the cucumbers are gone so I have purchased yet more plants to be set in the ground tomorrow. Truthfully if these do not take I think we will give up on them. They are hubbies fave to grow as he loves to make his Mother's cucumber salad, he practicably lives on that salad in the summer time. I am not really a fan as it has sour cream in it and is just not to my liking. I prefer just to slice my cucumbers in spears and give them a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper and munch away. I also like thin sliced cucumbers in sandwiches with butter, salt and pepper. How strange it that? Sounds like an English sandwich.

I am going to make a rustic apple pie this week. It will be a nice addition to our beer can chicken dinner on Saturday. I will get some vanilla frozen yogurt to go with. A rustic apple pie is nothing more than the regular pie you would make except you use only one crust. You make the filling the same just a lesser amount then heap the apple filling on one large pie crust and fold the edges up over the pie overlapping the dough as you go. This leaves a opening in the middle without crust. When it bakes it is pretty as you see the open center with all the juicy apples sprinkled with cinnamon and the crust is browned and sticky from all juice. I cannot wait, once again not what I need but what will a small piece hurt?
This actually brings back a memory. When I was newly married at eighteen I went to my sister in laws for morning coffee and she gave me some rhubarb to make a pie. I was not a working wife at that time and I was learning to be a homemaker and more importantly a cook. While my husband was at work I looked at the Betty Crocker cookbook and decided to make a rhubarb cream pie. You chop up the rhubarb put it in the pie shell and pour a filling made of eggs, sugar and nutmeg etc over the top and then place the top crust on. Well I absolutely amazed myself. The pie came out of the oven a perfect pie in every way. I let it cool and later I thought I would try a small piece. I cut a piece and I could not believe how wonderful that pie taste. A while later I cut another little piece, later still another piece and on and on it went. Then I realized with a shock that about two thirds of the pie was gone. I was now in a fix as I did not want my husband to know I had eaten so much pie. So I just grabbed a spoon and finished it off, washed the pie plate and put it back in the cupboard. I never said a word about the pie. That following weekend we were with family and my sister in law asked me how the pie turned out. My husband said, what pie? I started to lie and say I never made a pie but then what would I have done with the rhubarb? So I confessed the truth. I was so embarrassed and felt like a pie pig. They always laughed about that story long after the fact. But truthfully my husband was irritated by the whole thing as he liked rhubarb pie. A day or two after I confessed he came home with another bag of rhubarb and I had to make another pie for him. You know it all most made me sick to smell it baking. If I recall I did not even have a piece of that pie. I did continue to make that pie often though as it became a family favorite even the kids loved it. I learned to enjoy a small piece every now and then. That actually was the second whole pie I have eaten. The first one was a lemon pie that my Mother had made. It was on the counter when I came home from school, she was not home and I started taking slices and the same thing happened. However she knew I ate the whole thing! What was wrong with me?

Friday evening we will be attending our niece Brooke's high school graduation. This is the niece that has so much talent. She sings, plays the oboe, acts, dances. Well you just name it she can do it and do it well. She has loved performing since she was three years old. Her graduation will be held at the Hult Center our venue for the performing arts here in Eugene. It is a wonderful facility and the acoustics are incredible. It will not be the normal graduation ceremony. There will be speeches of course but also entertainment. Brooke is singing two songs. We have no idea how long it will last as it is a large high school, So we will be venturing out for the evening which is something we never do, I hope we can stay awake if it goes past ten we may be snoozing in our seats!

Well it certainly has been a busy day and still I must get dinner prep going. Tonight we are having a big salad, and flat iron steak I will make the steak in my iron skillet. Simple and satisfying. For the price of those steaks they are wonderfully flavorful and juicy. Make sure you let them sit ten minutes under foil before slicing, I like to add a pat or two of butter it melts down over the meat.

Do have a nice evening wherever you are. It is mild here the doors are open and  the air smells of fresh cut grass and the wind chimes are tinkling in the breeze. I took my Claritan tab this morning so all should be fine with the grasses and tree pollen.
Till later.