Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An Unexpected Discovery at the Lake

I just had a feeling something unusual was going to happen today when I looked out the window at the lake very early this morning. The combination of the mist with the rising sun and cool air spreading over the warm waters created an eerie magical scene. As the morning mist lifted and gave way to deep blue skies I was energized by the crisp cool air to take a fall photo walk. Just as I was almost ready to snap a great picture of a cluster of leaves I stumbled and almost lost my balance. I steadied myself on a nearby tree trunk. But sounds of muffled laughter low to ground caught my attention. I crouched down to the ground hoping to see something and was quite startled to come across this wee house near the base of the tree. It would have been easy to miss since it was almost hidden by all the brush. Across the door read: Fairy Cottage. With a light touch I knocked but no answer. Of course this did not surprise me, since I know fairies rarely show themselves to humans. I looked around and could see no one, but felt a strong presence. Now this was definitely a Kodak Moment discovering this wee house. So I snapped several pictures just so someone would believe my story. I took some twigs and leaves to weight down some paper that I had in my pocket to mark the place so I could find it again. I had been gone for quite awhile and needed to get back to the house because my neighbor was coming for coffee. I had told her about my recent visit to the apple orchard and a wanted to make this great recipe for apple crisp. Actually this recipe came from one of my former students, Rob Weinhandl, whose parents own a small orchard. I am posting a photo of my unexpected discovery plus one of the leaf cluster and one of a magical morning scene. I have included the recipe for you to enjoy one fall day!
Apple Crisp
Apple Mixture:
  • 6 large Haralson apples or use another tart kind chopped in chunks
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2TB flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 TB. cinnamon
Topping Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups of old fashioned oatmeal (dry)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 6 TB. melted butter
Grease 13x9 pan
Mix apple mixture and spread in pan
Mix topping mixture till crumbly and spread on top of apple mixture
Bake for one hour uncovered at 350
Serve warm with ice cream


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Live Your Poem

I have a plaque in my office that reads: Live Your Poem. It is my reminder to stop, take time and pay attention to those things around me that I written about in poems and stories. Since fall is making an entrance today what better time is there to think about the changes in seasons and in our lives. Fall is energizing with cooler weather, different schedules, and promises of new beginnings. I have often used this free verse structure when I was doing journal writing with my middle grade students when I was teaching. Since I am a big list maker this form worked well for me and perhaps you might be motivated to try your own Random Thoughts.
Random Thoughts
I thought I'd
write a verse
read a book
see a play
call a friend
bake a cake
take a trip
snap a picture
enjoy the moon
take a brisk walk
explore a new place
savor morning coffee
learn something new
listen to a child's concern
for it's never too late
to
Live Your Poem

Speaking of lists...are you aware that fairies gather each morning early to get their lists of tasks for the day? And I mean all fairy creatures including garden, sock, tooth, dream, house and brownies. They are determined to stick with tasks till completed because in the evening it is their time to put on their dancing shoes to make merry to the tunes of music near the fairy ring. They also enjoy sharing treats of fruits, berries, honey and fairy cakes. I hope they won't mind I have borrowed some of their honey so I can share this recipe with you.
Cantaloupe-Blueberry Salad
  • 1 half package of baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cantaloupe cut in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cucumber cut in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 cup of cashews
  • 1 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup red onion rings
Dressing make in blender
  • 2 Tb poppy seeds
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 TB. honey
  • 3 TB. olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground pepper
Tips: May have to double ingredients depending on size of the salad
A time saver... use bottled Poppyseed dressing


Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Blanket of Fairy Dust

A blanket of shimmering fairy dust covers the morning's waters. This was one of my recent journal entries as I watched the sunrise over the lake at the cabin. It made me think how we need to stop and take a moment out of our busy lives to appreciate what surrounds us. The beauty of the North Woods that morning inspired me to write some free verse borrowing a line from the text of the picture book:Up North at the Cabin by Marsha Wilson Chall. The following is a work in progress
Up North at the cabin...
I am a wanderer
lost in my thoughts
planning, reflecting
gazing at still waters
which nourish my soul.

Up North at the cabin...
I am a dog's faithful companion
throwing, pitching, retrieving balls
much to the dog's delight.

Up North at the cabin...
I am a lover of beauty
early morning sunrises
moonlight nights
blazing campfires
restless dragonflies
and the call of the loon
searching for its mate.

Up North at the cabin...
a single moment captured
by a photo lens
stowed away
as a reminder
of days at the cabin Up North

I posted a picture of a recent sunrise
So might I suggest... sometime this week treat yourself
Grab your favorite beverage, some of my favorite blueberry coffeecake and watch a sunrise!
Carpe diem

Blueberry Coffeecake
Use a glass pan 8x8 greased
Crust
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup of old-fashioned oats (not quick)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1TB cinnamon
  • 1 stick of chilled butter cut in small cubes
  • 3/4 cup of sliced almonds
Filling
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries or 12 oz frozen blueberries not thawed
  • 1 cup blueberry preserves
  • 1 TB flour 2 tsp grated lemon peel
Crust:In a bowl whisk oats, sugar,salt cinnamon. Add butter mixing in with fingertips until mixture sticks together. Reserve 2 cups of mixture for topping. Pat crumb mixture in pan. Bake 15 minutes until golden and firm to touch. Cool 10 minutes
Filling: Mix all ingredients in bowl and spread evenly over crust.
Topping: To reserve mixture add almonds and sprinkle over filling and bake about 30 minutes more.
Tips: If oat mixture seems too dry could add a little more butter
coffeecake is done when filling is bubbling and topping golden brown
To get a head start the crust/ topping mixture can be made a day ahead



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Determination and Hard Work:Pay-Off

I must say dreaming big was certainly evident in the finale of America's Got Talent show. Leona Lewis, a past winner, and Susan Boyle, a winner from the UK, both gave heartwarming performances. They are just some of the many talented people in all walks of life who aspire to beat the odds and be a winner. Shakira, another of the evening's performers said she felt determination and hard work helped her rise to the top of her game.
Well these two traits: determination and hard work certainly could describe the sock fairies work ethic. Each day and way into the evening they are determined to stuff their leather bags till they bulge with mismatched socks. They can be ruthless snatching socks from clotheslines, dryers, under the beds, behind the toilet, between the couch cushions and even from the dog's bed. They seem to move silently with just a little flutter of their gossamer wings as they make their way down the road toward a large brick building. What kind of building do you think would attract sock fairies carrying bags of mismatched socks? Now that is really something to think about!
We Minnesotans certainly have had a lucky break with a bit of summer extension with this warm weather. Of course I think we really deserve it. Are you still in the mood for grilling? Here is an easy idea for a meal you might want to consider.
By the way, I am almost done with the book The Help I mentioned a few blogs before. What a fascinating story that draws the reader in told by three voices: two black maids and one white woman in Mississippi during the early 60's. It is on the New York bestseller list and very deserving of this place.
Mango-Peach Chicken
Ingredients:
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup of rum or tequila
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 soy sauce
  • 2 TB honey
  • 1 tsp of garlic
  • 1 tsp dried of thyme leaves
  • 1 cup of prepared mango-peach salsa-save rest of jar for thickened sauce used in basting
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 2 lime slice
  • 2 orange slices
___________________________________________________________________
Combine all ingredients except chicken in a bowl. Place 2/3 cup of marinade in a large plastic
bag and add chicken breasts. Turn bag several times and place in a 13x9 inch pan. Refrigerate for 4 hours and turn occasionally. Take leftover marinade and place in saucepan. Add 1/2 cup peach-mango sauce from the jar to marinade. Mix 1/4 cup water and 1 TB cornstarch and thicken slightly on medium heat. Drain chicken and grill. Baste with thickened marinade.
To serve place chicken on a platter and place rest of marinade on top. Add orange and lime slices on top.
Yellow rice and watermelon wedges would be great with this chicken dish.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Dose of Fairy Magic

Recently I attended SCWBI writer's conference. I was energized by the presenters, ideas and resources that are available to writers. It gave me a better understanding of the existing publishing market for children's books. I came across two websites that I highly recommend kidmagwriters.com This one has the latest news and tips for children's book writing plus a wealth of paying children's markets. The second one is robynopie.com An Australiian children's book author offers articles on constructing, writing, editing and publishing children's books. There are also two of her books available for free downloads. At this conference I had an opportunity to have my sock fairy manuscript reviewed and it looks like back to the drawing board. It was suggested that my story would work better in a different format as an easy chapter book for ages 6-9, rather than a picture book. I will keep you posted on my progress.
Lucky for me I still have a bottle of fairy dust that is almost full. Never underestimate the power of fairy dust; it needs to be used sparingly. Did you know that fairy dust is the most important fairy work tool? And a fairy would never travel without it. I went online and found a website that sells fairy dust and it comes in six different colors just in case you might need a dose. Check it out at: www.magicfairygarden.com
My next door neighbor certainly could use some fairy dust for good luck. She is still searching for those missing socks taken off her clothesline the other day. Wouldn't you know it her son needed a matching pair since his football game was that day and it was part of his uniform. While they were at the game I decided to bake him one of my fairy specialities to cheer him up when he got home. I have included the recipe in this blog.
Lastly, since I am new to blogging I would love to hear from you with comments, suggestions or any questions. At the end of the blog where it states my name and day click on: 0 comments and a comment box should pop up.
Almond Tortoni
Ingredients:
5 eggs
2 cups whipped cream
1/3 powdered sugar
1 cup crushed soft macaroon cookies
3/4 cup toasted almonds
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract....if making for big people use 1/4 cup amaretto instead
1/2 tsp. creme of tartar
Beat 5 egg whites adding creme of tartar and powered sugar
In a separate bowl whip cream adding almond extract or Amaretto
Gently fold whip cream mixture and egg whites. Add crushed cookies and toasted almonds.
Spoon to cupcake liners that have been placed in muffin tins
For some fairy magic add pink sprinkles from the cake decorating section (grocery store)
Refrigerate and enjoy!

Sue Ready

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Help

I am enjoying a new book called The Help by Kathryn Stockett. It is quite an engrossing story set during 1962 in Mississippi. The book tells the stories of three women who are determined to start a movement of their own. Some of the choices they make change the town forever and the way women view one another.
Speaking about this book reminds me of the help my neighbor recently needed. She was all worked up when she went outside to take her laundry off the line and found each of the three pairs had a missing sock. The clothesline had a few bare spots where the socks had been, but the clothes pins were still tightly clamped on the line. I offered my help to find them thinking they can't possibly be far since it isn't even windy out. As we searched I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye moving near a bush. I heard some muffled laughter. You don't suppose those sock fairies are up to mischief again? Well we never did find those missing socks and I need to get home. We are having a neighborhood garage sale tomorrow and I am making a treat thinking the day might be warm and who can resist an ice cream dessert. Perhaps you might consider making it some time.
Buster Bars
Lightly spray a 13x9 glass pan
Ingredients:
  • 1 package of Oreo cookies
  • 1/2 gallon French vanilla ice cream
  • 1 can (10 oz) Spanish peanuts
  • 1 can (12oz) evaporated milk
  • 1 stick of margarine
  • 4 TB butter
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 (60z) package of chocolate chips
  • vanilla
1. Take 1/2 gallon ice cream out to soften while making crumbs
2. Make Oreo crumbs using blender. Do only a few cookies at a time to get finer crumbs
3. Blend melted butter and crumbs and pat into a pan. May need more butter if crumbs not all moistened. Chill in freezer for an hour
4. Spread softened ice cream over crumbs. Press Spanish peanuts into ice cream. Return to freezer while making chocolate sauce
5. Sauce:
In a saucepan add evaporated milk, chocolate chips, margarine, powdered sugar
On medium heat stir and bring to a boil using a whisk for blending
Turn heat down and simmer 8 minutes stirring constantly
Remove from stove pour into a large bowl add 1 TB vanilla (3 TB Kahlua optional) let cool to thicken about 45 minutes
6. Pour over ice cream mixture and return to freezer to set. After a few hours cover with heavy foil. Note: Will last in freezer several weeks depending on how much willpower you have!

Sue Ready-Enjoy

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Little of This and A Little of That

This blog is written from Up North in Minnesota
Sark, who is a writer, once wrote in one of her books
We must continue to celebrate the moon it softens all our edges.

The celestial sky has provided us with a magnificent show this past week. Jupiter dazzled us with its brightness hoping to outdo the gorgeous full moon as it rose above the lake changing from a deep gold to a milky white. Both seemed to be vying for our attention. Lucky for me, because this show gave plenty of material for my ongoing moon journal. I have kept a moon journal for several years. From time to time I add photos, sketches, journal entries and newspaper clippings. Right outside the cabin door I have plaque that reads: Goodnight Moon a reminder of one of my favorite children's story. Recently I was reading a book on fairies. I learned the best time to attract good fairies is when the moon is full. To me standing outside looking at the moon with lots of stars gleaming brightly in the northern sky seems rather magical. Perhaps that little whisper of the wind or rustle of the leaves could just be a tiny fairy rushing by off to a late night meeting . Last night I was convinced some mischievous fairy was about somewhere in the yard with my sock. Since one was missing from the deck where my shoes and socks had been lying. It's amazing how over the years the amount of mismatched socks one can acquire. I just keep hoping one of these mates will magically appear one day so I can have a matching pair.

I am entertaining today and thought I would share an easy to make salad with you
Tomato Mozzarella Salad
You will need a rectangular platter
  • one bag of baby spinach leaves
  • 3 tomatoes that are sliced
  • !/2 pound sliced mozzarella cheese but provolone works well as substitute
  • basil leaves optional
  • bottled dressing such as Poppyseed, or Creamy Vidalia Onion or Champagne by Girard's
Arrange salad in layers starting at short end of platter repeating and overlapping layers working way down to end of platter
Layer that is repeated... handful of spinach leaves,sliced tomato placed on top of leaves,cheese slice placed on top of tomato
when platter full could add basil leaves, drizzle with dressing and grate parmesan cheese on top
Enjoy you Labor Day holiday

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Mixed Bag:Sock Fairies and Other Stuff

I have written a story for children about sock fairies who are thieves. To my credit I have received a number of rejections, but am hopeful one day just the right person will read my manuscript and think it is PERFECT to publish! I love the idea that a fairy could steal a sock, since haven't we all had a missing sock and been left with a mismatched one!
I have never done a blog before, but was so impressed with the idea from the movie Julia and Julie. I admired the way Julie Powell got right out there and just wrote about one of the things she was passionate about food. Since I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes I made an immediate connection to her. Like Julie, I wondered what I could write that someone would want to read. My daughter suggested sharing my list of favorite wines and from time to time special recipes that I have used when entertaining. So I will follow that path plus along the way share some of my sock fairy friends' adventures.
So here goes....
I was lucky last fall to go on an Elderhostel trip to Italy. On this trip with some friends we explored the food, wine and culture of the Tuscany region. The following is a list of some of the wines that we enjoyed.
2005 Cline Ancient Vines Mourvedre
Cline Cashmere
Castello di Chianto Classico Vendemmia 2006
Chianto Classico Riserva Castello di Verrazzano 2005
San Givese di Roma Gna 2005 superior
Pinot Grigio Vento Incanto
Ca'Bembo Friuli Sauvignon 2007
the following list are some of my personal favorites even though not from Italy but just as good
Nobilo Sauvigon Blanc 2008
Buttonwood Farm Sauvignon Blanc
Altanuta Pinot Grigio
Old Vine Red Lot Number 49