Monday, July 29, 2019

Anniversary Week: A Cookbook Recommendation

When I was married three decades ago, the big cookbook every newly married girl needed in her kitchen arsenal was Southern Sideboards, a product of the Jackson, Mississippi, Junior League.
My mother bought me my own copy, and I've used it often over the years. It's a great cookbook. It doesn't have every recipe you're looking for, but if it's in there, you can have utter confidence it will be an excellent recipe.

I'll give four examples that I've used and starred as "keepers." 
First, the No-Roll Pastry Crust:
I love pies but I hate making pie crusts. Some pies must have a rolled-out pastry crust, but many don't need them, like all "filling pies" -- pumpkin, pecan, chess, etc. This simple recipe is THE answer. I've made it many dozens of times, and it never fails.

Second, those Chocolate Graham Cracker Thingies:
Whoever Florence is, she gave us something oh-so yummy. This is the dessert you pull out when you have less than 30 minutes to make something, and it needs to be "finger food" type, and extremely delicious so that everybody at the party eats it first. You can also add coconut if you like, but it's perfection as it is. The only tricky part? Do NOT under any circumstances use the chocolate chips that have the chocolate liquor in them. That kind is designed not to melt, but to stay intact, and they won't work on this recipe. You'll end up with a nasty mess. Buy real chocolate chips, like Toll-House, and you'll be good to go.

Third, the world's most fabulous apple pie, at least according to Adam. I think it's a pain in the neck to make, but I must admit it's so delectable!
I even wrote "Adam's favorite" next to it, so I wouldn't forget. This pie has an added caramel shell you pour on top, Oh My!

And last, a recipe I tried for the first time this past weekend that was a smashing success:
Good ole banana pudding, so summery, so fresh and light. Again, this recipe takes some work. But wouldn't you expect that, to get a dish that makes everyone melt into their chairs and say, "Yummmm," when they take that first bite? Also, this recipe serves many more than 8 people. I made angel food cake (from a mix, duh). It is so, so, so much better than vanilla wafers. Adam dislikes bananas (bad childhood associations resulting from a potassium deficiency), but even he declared this dessert to be superb and had at least 2nds and I think 3rds. 

There you have it! This cookbook is available online, used, for a pittance. I've given away many, many cookbooks to the thrift store, but this one I always keep close at hand. Do you have a favorite cookbook? Why do you love it, and what's its name?

Good Morning

Yes, good morning. And perhaps I should say Happy Anniversary to us. Adam and I have been married 30 years, today.
There we are, all those years ago. No kids, no pets, no troubles yet. We thought we knew what troubles looked like, but we didn't have a clue. Thirty years doesn't sound like an astounding amount of time, but you can live a lot of sorrow and a lot of joy in thirty years. We've had both. We still have both -- much sorrow, much joy. Mostly I'm so grateful for a good, kind husband. It's his goal to be a good husband to me, so he leads me into being a better wife as well.We're still in love, still faithful, still hopeful.

This morning I'm having my usual, toast and tea.
 Adam's bread, my apple butter, creamy chai
I've painted two cards as practices for some larger pieces. A student from many years ago is interested in commissioning four watercolors of farm animals, 11x14".

I'll be doing a goat and a sheep also.
It was fun to be back at the farmer's market on Saturday morning after being gone for a month. I sold seven of my watercolor cards! We have a sweet group of cheerful, nice people there, and it makes Saturday mornings (and all that work!) worth it.
Above you see the chickens I have now.
The six in the front are all hens, 2 and 3 years old. Good birds who lay well. The two in the back (by the black pole) are new birds from this spring and I'm pretty certain they're both roosters. Ugh. I was hoping for at least one new hen! I may keep one of them, because a rooster is good for getting baby chicks, but I don't want two. I'm trying to determine which one will be less mean.

On to happier subjects!
Anna sent me this photo in a text last week. They're doing well. He's a good eater, gaining weight. She's feeling great, so much better than during the end of her pregnancy. Two cutie pies!

Now I must finish my toast and tea and get outside in my farm clothes and weed the herb beds. Our farm is in a frightful state after we were gone so long, and after this drought. It's hard to be motivated to care for garden beds that look half-dead from lack of rain. We did water for a while in June, but it increased our water bill by $100, so we won't be doing that anymore! See you later - I'm off to rescue the oregano!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Back to Creativity

Since returning home I've tried to keep busy, which usually means keeping creative. Finally, I warped up my loom again.
 It's been many months since I wove anything. I'm using these yarns that a friend gave me.
 I really wanted to use this deep brown/mahogany yarn as well, but it snaps under very little pressure, so I can't use it in the warp.
 For the weft, I'm using this sock yarn. It will blend in better, being variegated, and it has the same basic color scheme.
 A friend shared a new hymn arrangement on facebook -- a new tune to "How Great Thou Art" (although named "Then Sings My Soul") by Mary MacDonald.

 I found myself singing it for days, which is a sure sign that I love a song. She wrote it for a choir, but I'd like to have it for a solo, or a simplified version that our church members can sing easily. 
So I sat down at my piano with some staff paper and got to it. I'm going on music theory from nearly 40 years ago ... so quite imperfect ... but I hope I'll be able to have a version we can sing.
But the most time-consuming thing I've been doing is writing and painting. I'm finishing "The Rescue of William Shrew." I'm on the final illustration! Here are a few of the recent pages:

It's a simple rescue/adventure story appropriate for young children as a read-aloud. After this one is done, I really need to get started on a Christmas story, but I don't know if I'll finish it in time this year ....
Plus painting a few cards. I still love this little honeybee.
We thought for sure our garden would be TOAST after the drought and our long absence, but we returned to so many cherry tomatoes!
I cooked them down in the oven with garlic and olive oil, and put them through a sieve and into the crock pot to make tomato paste.
The hardest creative work of all is writing. I finished the "Cozy" book I've been working on for about 2 months, and then Adam went through it to give me editorial help, and now the ball's back in my court, as it were, to fix all the many fixable points. Sigh. I don't think most people realize how much exhausting WORK goes into writing a book!
I'll end with a few doggie photos from Chattanooga last week. Pondi and Trixie love to play together.

Charlie and Beau


All these doggies (plus Chauncey the Cat) give one's imagination plenty of material for story-writing, so that's been swirling around in my brain too. Here's Chauncey :

When he realized I was doing a photo shoot, he decided to give it all his cuteness!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Eating Japanese

This post is honestly for my daughter who spent two years in Japan and knows so much about the food of that lovely country. Tonight my son took a bunch of us out to dinner at a very nice restaurant, Two Ten Jack, in celebration of the upcoming birthday of another of my children. We had so much fun.

First, I'll show you most (but not all!) of the little dishes that arrived at our table.

chicken/green onion skewer

pork dumpling

some sort of fabulous beef?

sushi - I didn't eat this one

These were like hush puppies with little cubes of
 octopus inside with a honey glaze on the outside.

There were tater tots in this dish - oh my goodness, SO good.

salmon with some sauce and a slaw on the side

ramen bowl with pork

ramen bowl for a vegetarian

birthday dessert!

This meal was superb for two reasons: the food was brought to the table and shared among the five of us, and the food itself was phenomenal. Sharing food makes the meal very fun -- exclaiming about a bite, showing it to your neighbor, comparing to something else, having so many various dishes and not too much of any one. It was delightful, and the knowledgeable waitress was a huge help, while making our experience delightful. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Clarksdale Sights

Adam and I are enjoying our time in Clarksdale. I wanted to share some of the sights with you before we leave this week. Clarksdale has so many cool old buildings in various states of dereliction or beautiful restoration. There are also quite a few fun murals painted on the sides of downtown buildings.
 This old drug store is next door to where we're staying. The Greyhound station is across the street.
 The impressive McWilliams Building, a skyscraper in its day, is in the heart of downtown, its many rooms empty. This is its back side.
 The back door of this men's clothing store has a fun image.
 The home below belonged to Blanche Clark Cutrer, who inspired a character in Tennessee Williams's work.
 T. Williams's grandfather was pastor at the Episcopal church, below.
 The Methodist church has fascinating architecture!
 Lovely homes:

This home is for sale for $285,000.
 This turret! There's a porch under it.
 The pink building was once an ice house and then an ice cream parlor. Next door (the little house) is Hooker Grocery, a nice eatery.
 The McWilliams Building from the front -- it needs some TLC:

 And now the murals:

 I like this little store, Miss Del's.
 Plenty of stores have spots to "sit a spell."
I'll end with a few more baby pictures, okay?

 He's a very good baby and sleeps well, but Anna still could use a nap or three.