Saturday, July 30, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Fellow Southern Indiana Writers Group member T. Lee Harris and I were at FandomFest this weekend, sharing a table with Hydra Publications. (For The True Story of what happened there, click this link.)
Meanwhile, a dear friend of #4 Daughter was visiting #4 from out of town. Friend Sarah had never been inside a White Castle, but had seen it in the movies. So we met at one next to the Festival.
Now, I grew up on White Castles. In fact, we were so poor, White Castle was considered fine dining. When I was expecting #4 (originally expecting her, I mean, not this weekend. "Expecting", not expecting, you know.), the only thing that would settle my all-day-sickness was -- yes -- sliders (slang for White Castle hamburgers, so called because they slide down your gullet). I absolutely LOVE 'em!
Sarah's final decision: "Thank you for the White Castle experience, but I'm not entirely sure I've had food."
Ah, well. Maybe you have to be raised on 'em to fully appreciate 'em.
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Like Donis I also have a patch of mint in the garden. And as most of us gardeners know, a patch of mint enevitably becomes a LARGE patch of mint. Without attention it might well become a garden of mint with a patch of grass. I like to put two or three fresh leaves into tea, particularly at night after dinner. (Better mention that in Canada tea always means hot tea. Iced tea is consumed occasionally, but has to be refered to as iced tea, and is not very common.) One of my favourite uses of mint is to make a mojito. Nothing better sitting out in the deck with friends on a hot summer's evening while the BBQ is warming up. Here's my recipe.
2 cups sugar
1 cup whole mint leaves
1 lime cut into quarters
Combine 4 cups of water with the sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Put the sugar-water into a plastic or glass bowl and refrigerate until chilled.
Put ¼ of the mint into each of 4 glasses. Squeeze ¼ of the lime in each glass, and add 2-3 dashes of bitters. Mash with the back of a spoon. Add ice. Add 1 ½ oz rum to each glass and fill the remainder of the glass with sugar syrup.
Enjoy in the sun on your back deck, preferably with a good crime novel.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
Once A Month Mom - I don't know who does this blog, but she (or maybe they) are all over it! They have traditional menus by season, a whole foods menu, a gluten-free/dairy-free menu, a baby food menu, a vegetarian menu, and a diet menu. Instructions and grocery lists are included, and readers are advised on how to create their own menus.
From the main menu, I clicked on Traditional Menu and then on the July 2011 post. To my surprise, this blog really means once a month cooking! Not only are dinners included, but breakfast and lunch meals are listed on the menu as well.
Not finding many items on the July menu that I thought my children would find appealing, I checked out the June and May menus. Within those, I found enough meals to please my picky eaters as well as my husband and me.
I'm currently on a deadline, but afterwards, I'm hoping to take a couple weeks off before beginning another book. I want to give this a try. I'll keep you posted! If any of our readers have tried this before, please leave a comment with your thoughts.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
My husband and I kept bees for two years. Everything bad that could happen to bees happened to ours, with the exception of a raid by bears. Our hive was where the souls of bad bees went when they died. Our hive was what mama bees threatened their little bees with to make them behave. We finally gave our now-empty hive away. A few months later, a storm took down a tree, which fell directly across the placed where our hive had been.
Honeybees aren't native to North America; they came over with settlers from Europe. Almost all the honeybees here are kept. A nasty little customer called the varroa mite pretty well wiped out all wild honeybees--any many of the kept ones--right about the time we tried to establish a hive.
The Beekeeper's Lament by Hannah Nordhaus fills you in on the world of bees and beekeeping. It sounds like a snoozer, but it's a wonderful book, beautifully written, and gives a real feel for the practicality and goofiness of those of us who love bees.
Another book about bees I love, and possibly more appropriate to this site, is Frank Parrish's Sting of the Honeybee, a Dan Mallet mystery. I won't tell you anything about it except that Dan Mallet, an ex-banker who gave up a lucrative career to come home and take care of his ailing Mum, and who is saving up money for her hip replacement by poaching, runs afoul of a heartless criminal. Bees help. I'm usually not a fan of criminals as heroes, but I make an exception for Dan. Mostly.
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
Chicken Charlie has already gone through 150 pounds of Kool-Aid powder and 1,500 pounds of flour. Selling five Kool-Aid balls per order, that amounts to around 9,000 deep-fried Kool-Aid balls being eaten during the fair's opening weekend.
One taster says, "It starts off tart and tangy, and then finishes really sweet."
Personally, I think I'll stick to the caramel apples.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Well, some friends and I had brunch at a joint called Toast on Market, and they stuffed theirs with ham and cheese, and also with blueberries and cream cheese.
I didn't have cream cheese, but I had a couple of bananas that were about to go to Jesus, so I mished them up and used them in place of the cream cheese. So:
STUFFED FRENCH TOAST
- butter or margarine
- 4 pieces of bread - stale is fine
- 1 egg
- 3 or 4 Tablespoons of milk (almond or soy is fine)
- small blip of vanilla
- 2 bananas, mished
- blueberries or other fruit
- pecans or other nuts, chopped
- powdered sugar
This was SO GOOD! Try it. I think you'll like it. :)
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Unlike Donis in Arizona, up here in Ontario we’re enjoying our summer. The days are sunny and warm, not too hot or humid (that will come) and just right for sitting out on the deck and taking the occasional dip in the pool. My mom is visiting and during the week we went to the beach. Sandbanks Beaches on Lake Ontario are as good as beaches anywhere (really) and the water is great for swimming. But don’t tell anyone, please, because we get enough tourists here.
One of the things I most like at this time of year is fresh greens. It will get very hot and humid here soon and the lettuce will all bolt and turn bitter and that will be the end of most of it. But in the meantime I enjoy it.
I prefer a salad of really fresh, locally grown (hopefully home grown) with no accompaniments. No grated carrots, celery, peas, sunflower seeds, cheese. Not even tomatoes. A couple of slices of green onion might be nice, and tonight I’ll toss in some mint a la Donis. But that’s all. And with a salad as light as that, I always make my own dressing. At other times of the year a hearty salad with all sort of tossed vegetables, nuts or cheeses can hold up to a bottled dressing, but not a handful of tender leaves.
Here’s my favourite homemade dressing. I never measure ingredients, but try to make suggestions here.
Vicki’s Dressing for Fresh Greens
1 small garlic clove, minced
½ cup best quality olive oil
Less than ¼ cup vinegar (oil and vinegar should be 3 parts to 1)
1 tsp Maggi (the secret ingredient)
½ tsp sugar
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
Put everything in a jar, screw on lid and shake vigorously until all ingredients are blended. The excess dressing can be refrigerated and just needs another shake to be ready to use again.
Use very sparingly, you don’t want to drown the greens.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
Is this a fun gift for a Fatal Foodie, or what?! I just found it on Foodbeast (here's the link). On the back of the mug, it says, "The Killer Element."
This made me wonder what other fun gifts are out there for writers. Here are links to what I found:
There are some really cool things at this Cafe Press site. One of my faves: "Writer's Block: When Your Imaginary Friends Stop Talking To You." There are other Cafe Press sites with merchandise aimed at writers. Just type what you're looking for into the search bar.
Shakespeare's Den also has gifts for writers, including literary finger puppets and action figures!
I'm going to have to go back to these sites when I have more spending money.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
The one thing that I feel an urgency to use is a tub of leftover slaw that needs to be used in the next couple of days. That is why tonight, my family will be having ham and slaw reubens.
These are delicious sandwiches! Trade the rye bread for sourdough. Swap corned beef for ham, and use slaw in place of kraut.
What stays is the Swiss cheese and thousand island dressing. You can either wrap the sandwiches in foil to toast them in the oven or sear the bread in a pan on the stove.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
One I particularly like is summer pudding.
Originally, it was called "hydropathic pudding" because it was served in spas and health resorts of the 19th century. It was developed as a healthier alternative to heavy puddings made with pastry. It consists of a pudding made with mixed summer fruits poured into a basin lined with bread. I say "fruits", but berries seem to have been specified: redcurrents, raspberries, blackcurrents, gooseberries and strawberries--apparently, anything with appalling quantities of seeds. In the 20th century, its popularity became more general, and the name was changed to "summer pudding" by cookbook writers. Under any name, it is delicious.
Charlie and I were invited to a cook-out at the last minute, so I made this:
HILDA RUMPOLE'S SUMMER PUDDING
- white bread with the crusts off
- whipped cream or "whipped topping"
- blueberries, some reserved
- strawberries, hulled and cut up, some reserved, one left whole
Run a knife around the sides to separate the bread from the loaf pan and turn the whole thing out. If you've mished it enough, it will retain its loaf shape.
"Frost" the loaf with whipped cream and sprinkle blueberries on top and sprinkle blueberries and strawberries around the base. Slice the single whole strawberry through to the cap several times and fan the slices slightly. Put the strawberry in the center of the loaf.
To serve, slice onto plates.
If you make this with juicy fruits, you don't need the whipped cream. But you may, of course, have it if you want it, Rumpole.
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes
Saturday, July 2, 2011
It’s midsummer, and ouch, it’s hot. This is the time of year when God makes us southern Arizonans pay for the fabulous weather he gives us during the other three seasons. We’re going for 116 degrees today (maybe even higher, they say!) But don’t worry, we should cool down to around 106 by Tuesday. In days of yore, before the advent of the giant concrete jungle known as Phoenix, it would cool way down at night. This is because the humidity is generally very low in early June, hovering around 10 percent or less. I know that “dry heat” is a cliche, but that truly makes a difference, even considering that nowadays all the streets and houses throw off their accumulated heat at night and it never does cool down very much.
I complain, but if I have to live in a hot climate I would rather live here than in Tulsa, where I grew up. My brother and sister-in-law still live in Tulsa, and I tease them when they grouse about having to endure 106 degrees for two days. The truth is that their 106 with 80 percent humidity will kill you dead quicker than our extra degrees and lots less water in the air to boil you. I can take hot and dry better than hot and wet. Just drink lots of water, stay out of the sun, and be still. Seriously. Don’t move.
So what do you do for Independence Day in the Phoenix metro area? You get out of town if you can, go to the lake, the mountains, the woods. Or you stay indoors all day and go down to the Rio Salado after dark and watch the fireworks. You drink beer and lemonade and eat watermelon.
When I was a kid, my grandfather raised watermelon commercially. My sister and I would follow behind him through the field and watch him plunk his fingers on the giant green melons to test their ripeness. Every once in a while he’d take out his pocket knife and “plug” one, or cut a two or three inch wedge out of the top in order to taste for sweetness. Often he’d give the plug to us and we’d scarf it down.
Since there is no chance I’m cooking for a while, I’ve been going through my entire repertoire of cool food. One of my favorite summertime meals is a cucumber sandwich with cream cheese on wheat bread, accompanied by watermelon salad. It’s hard to mess up a watermelon salad, though I like to keep mine as simple as possible.
Last night I chunked up half a small watermelon and combined it with one small red tomato and a handful of yellow cherry tomatoes off my own vines. Then I chopped about half a cup of fresh basil leaves and half a cup of fresh mint leaves (whatever else you put in your watermelon salad, don’t leave out the mint.) I mixed it all together and added a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette, and my, oh my, did I have a delicious, easy, and above all, cool supper. A big glass of ice tea and a sprig of mint goes along perfectly.
Have a wonderful Fourth of July.