Monday, November 29, 2010

A Good Deed

Part Four:
Will nudged one of the fairies in front of him. "Hold my place, I need to go and talk with your friend for a minute!"
"Hi, my name is Will. I was standing behind you and your friends in line. Aren't you going inside Fairyland with your friends?"
"No, I'm waiting for them out here. Besides I can't buy anything today even with the discount."
"Look I am almost done with my shopping today and I have a few extra gold coins. How about you take two of them? That still leaves me with four. Besides I can always go back for more coins when I need them at the Sock Bank.* I have collected several mismatched socks that need mates so I am ready to turn them in."
"Really.. you'd give me your coins!!! Gosh, what can I say...really...thanks!"
Will pressed the coins into her hand. "We'd better hurry-look... the line is moving and it's almost 11:00!"
Inside the store Will could feel excitement in the air as many customers tried on different jeweled pieces. The fairy he had helped and her friends seemed so excited to try on several jewelry items. The glitter and shine of each of the gemstone pieces made decisions even harder.
Will looked around the store, mesmerized by the beauty of all the gemstone jewels. He wondered what his mother would like when all of sudden he spied it, there nestled in a black velvet case was a Sparkle blue toned gemstone necklace. Now this is perfect for my mom he thought to himself.
After making his purchase he stepped out into the Mall corridor and headed toward one of his favorite stores The Funky Monkey Shop. He remembered how much Holokai loved this store. Will was sure he could find something fun for him. Maybe he could even get some ideas for Holokai when he entertains the crowds at the SockMart on Saturdays. Being his manager, Will is always on the lookout for stuff.
"Would you like to try a sample of our Strawberry-Banana Smoothie? We are selling all the ingredients to make your own. It's over there in the refrigerated case," said one of the workers in the store.
Will even though full from his last treat could not turn down such a yummy sample. He decided he'd have to buy a few bags to bring home and keep in his freezer to make his own smoothies.

*Sock Bank-a place where you can bring your mismatched socks. The tellers try to find a match for your socks. If they do find a missing mate you leave the sock and get a gold coin as a payment.
All Rights Reserved Ready 2010

Lucky for us Will got the recipe!
______________________________________________________________________________________
Banana-Strawberry Smoothie
Ingredients:
2 bananas that have been peeled and frozen in a bag
1 cup of sliced frozen strawberries
8 0z milk or 1 small container 4 oz. of vanilla yogurt
Directions:
Use blender to mix ingredients
Note: Using frozen fruit instead of ice makes for a thicker consistency

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sparkle Special

Part Three: An Unexpected Turn of Events
Just as Will was deciding if he should splurge on a another helping of Fairy Cloud, his thoughts were interrupted with a loud voice over the Mall loudspeaker.
"Do you know someone in your life who would love a Sparkle gemstone? Don't miss out on our Saturday special. Only from 11:00 to 12:00 today can you purchase a Sparkle gemstone for just 50% off regular price. This is a chance of lifetime and found only at Fairyland Shop right here at the Mall and not at any of our other locations. Don't miss out on this great special!"
Well it was at the moment the Mall crowd went wild and flew toward the Fairyland Shop. It did not take long for a line to form with only minutes to spare before 11:00. Will hurried knowing the value of these gemstones were top quality. He knew fairies loved the glitter and shine of these gems and were often seen wearing them. Indeed, this was a bargain and Will could think of many who were on his shopping list that would love such a gift.
He was lucky to squeeze in line right between two groups of fairies who were excitedly pointing to the window display of Sparkle gems. The glitter and shine of the pieces did make them look priceless! "Gosh, 50% off is such a deal." Will exclaimed out loud.
He fingered the gold coins left in his pocket. He was quite sure he had enough to purchase a few gemstones.
Just as the crowd was inching their way toward the doorway Will noticed a very dejected looking fairy slip out of line and move close to the wall opposite the store entrance. Will caught snatches of the fairies conversations in front of him...something about their friend not having enough coins to purchase any Sparkle gemstones even with a 50% off discount. Will looked at the window display of all gemstone jewelry thinking what a rare opportunity this was to buy with such a discount. Will glanced over at the fairy and made a quick decision.
To Be Continued

All Rights Reserved Ready 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Wintery-Like Thanksgiving

The promise of a White Thanksgiving is now becoming a reality as snow blankets the metro area.
Judging from the packed grocery store parking lots food must be on a lot of people's minds. The stress of holiday cooking brought to my mind a funny poem I used in the classroom this time of the year.

The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven

Jack Prelutsky

The turkey shot out of the oven
and rocketed into the air,
it knocked every plate off the table
and partly demolished a chair.

It ricocheted into a corner
and burst with deafening boom,
then splattered all over the kitchen,
completely obscuring the room.

It stuck to the walls and the windows,
it totally coated the floor,
there was turkey attached to the ceiling,
where there'd never been turkey before.

It blanketed every appliance,
it smeared every saucer and bowl,
there wasn't a way I could stop it,
that turkey was out of control.

I scraped and I scrubbed with displeasure,
and thought with chagrin as I mopped,
that I'd never again stuff a turkey
with popcorn that hadn't been popped.

This poem brought recollection of the time when anarchy prevailed in our home one Thanksgiving when I was a child. My mother wanting to be super organized and on top of things as she prepared the big Thanksgiving dinner for eight children had what she thought was a great idea. After the turkey was cooked in mid-afternoon without our knowing, she instructed my father to debone the whole bird. As we all sat down for our big feast waiting expectantly for the Main Attraction, my mother proudly placed a huge platter of meat on the table. You should have seen the looks of disappointment! And then the cries of dissent arose. One could hear, "Where's the turkey? I want turkey! Where did the turkey go? No explanation from my mother would erase the disappointment of eight children who expected a whole cooked turkey on the platter on the table. The dinner was just not the same. Well, you can be sure my mother never repeated what she thought was a great idea on Thanksgiving again. And by the way, a learning lesson for me.

Lastly, upcoming blogs: Creative ways to use turkey leftovers and some vegetarian main dishes. I received my first new issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Hope you all have a safe holiday and enjoy time spent with family and friends.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Some Lucky Finds

Note: Please refer to blog: Keeping Up written on November 2. This blog updated you on previous Rocky Socky adventures with his friends Will and Holokai. In Part One we left off with Will wanting to get a jump start on his holiday shopping with plans to return to Sockland. He was busy cutting out coupons from the Sockland Gazette and making a wish list of items for his friends when he suddenly spied...
Part Two: The Perfect Gift
Will talking to himself as he scans the newspaper. "Oh my gosh-how perfect is this! I know Rocky Socky will really like these. And I can even use this coupon: buy two and get the third one free. He is so into this genealogy stuff."
Since there was no school with a holiday coming, Will wasted no time getting to the bus stop hoping he could catch the 10:00 run to the Sockland Mall. He ran furiously down the street just as Sockland Express was pulling to the curb. "Hi, Rocky Socky. Wow look how crowded your bus is already. Looks like lots of others want to do some early holiday shopping just like me."
"Hey, Will how are you? I have missed seeing you the past few weeks. Holokai keeps asking when are you coming over."
"Tell Holokai to keep on thinking up some new tricks to improve his act. We are really going to be busy at the SockMart all through December. In fact that is one reason I am going to Sockland Mall. I need to get my shopping done early. Being Holokai's manager keeps me busier that I thought."
Will settled into his seat thinking about his list. It seemed like time just flew when he heard Rocky Socky yell,"Sockland Mall! Sockland Mall!"
As he entered Sockland, Will found himself changing from his usual size to a very small size. Even after all these trips to Sockland he still felt funny with his new smaller body size. Will made a beeline for the bookstore. He spent time searching the shelves for books. Will found ones on the history of red-heeled monkeys, how to make red heel monkeys, craft ideas on what to do with single socks, sock monkey stories and many more. Will selected three he knew Rocky Socky would just love. Will was quite interested himself in learning more about the Red Heel Monkey Shelter.
As Will moved out to the inner Mall he couldn't resist stopping for a treat at the kiosk. Fairy Cloud, one of his favorites, is something he can never resist.
All Rights Reserved Ready 2010
_______________________________________________________________________________________
Dear Readers,
I am happy to report Will was lucky to get us the recipe.

Fairy Cloud
(light-airy-melts in your mouth)

Almond Macaroon Meringue

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 8 crushed macaroon cookies (use food processor)
  • 1-cup milk
  • 3 large eggs (separated)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ package (envelope) of Knox unflavored gelatin (about ½ TB.)
  • 2 TB. milk
  • 1 cup of heavy cream whipped
  • 2 TB. Kahlua
  • ½ tsp. almond extract

Directions:

  • Scald 1 cup of milk in saucepan-cool slightly (off burner)
  • In a bowl beat egg yolks and sugar
  • Pour 1 TB. scalding milk into egg yolks then whisk egg mixture and milk together in saucepan
  • Cook on stove till mixture coats back of wooden spoon
  • Soften gelatin in 2 TB. of milk and add to custard mixture in saucepan
  • Cook on low heat 1-2 minutes (do not let mixture boil)
  • Pour custard mixture in bowl, add 2 TB. Kahlua, and ½ tsp. almond extract
  • Cover with wax paper for about 30 minutes to cool
  • Beat egg whites in a separate bowl
  • Beat whip cream in separate bowl
  • Gently fold egg whites and whip cream mixture together
  • Add custard to whip cream/egg white mixture
  • Layer in the following manner:
  • In each parfait glass (I used martini glasses) sprinkle 1 TB-2Tb cookie mixture in bottom of glass, add some custard mixture, more crushed cookies and rest of custard mixture, on top sprinkle crushed almonds
  • Refrigerate till serving

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Jumpstart

"To give without any reward,
or any notice,
has a special quality of its own."
Anne Murrow Lindbergh

Needing a jump start on holiday gift giving ideas? Make your own Sand Art Brownies in a jar to give a friend, co-worker, neighbor or family member who would enjoy receiving a holiday treat.
The following idea is easy enough for even the non-baker. You will need a quart wide mouth jar, ribbon, tag and the following ingredients. And then just leave the baking to your lucky recipient.

Sand Art Brownies

Adapted from allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup plus 2 TB. flour
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup vanilla baking chips
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • Note in recipe ingredients there is a total of 1-cup flour plus 2 TB.

Attach a large tag to the outside of the jar with the following directions below for baking on one side and on other side of tag print the ingredients up above that are used in the recipe

Directions:

Preheat oven 350

  • Grease bottom of a 9 inch square pan
  • Pour contents from the jar into a large bowl and mix well
  • Stir in 1 tsp. vanilla, 2 TB. Kahlua, 2/3 cup vegetable oil, and 3 eggs
  • Beat just till combined
  • Bake 22-25 minutes-do not over bake
  • Dust with powdered sugar after brownies have cooled

Directions for layering ingredients for sand art brownies-press each layer down to keep packed- screw top on tightly-add ribbon and a tag

  • Mix ½ cup plus 2 TB. flour
  • In a wide mouth 1 quart jar layer the ingredients in the order given
  • Start with flour/salt mixture
  • Cocoa powder
  • White sugar
  • Chips
  • Brown sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • Walnuts

The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.

Pierre Corneille French Poet 1606-1654


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Savor A Book

Two Lives Are Yours
Richard Armour

Books I think
Are extra nice.
Through books you live
Not once but twice.

You are yourself
And you are the things
With fur or fins
Or shells or wings.

As big as giants
Small as gnats
As far as stars
As close as cats.

You live today
And long ago
The future, too
Is yours to know.

You're multiplied
expanded, freed.
You're you and also
What you read.

National Children's Book Week is a time honored tradition since 1919 dedicated to spreading the word about children's literature and encouraging the joys of reading. It is held annually the week before Thanksgiving.
PW Children's Bookshelf website is a great resource on noteworthy books, authors, book events and other information related to children's literature. Scholastic Books has three new featured books for November that warrant a closer look.
The first is Danger Box by Blue Balliet.
It a mystery novel aimed for children 9-12. A kid named Zoomy who is living an ordinary life in the Midwest suddenly finds himself pulled into a mystery when he discovers a small handwritten notebook from a famous scientist delivered to his grandparent's home.
The second book is Odrous Ogre by Norton Juster written for all ages.
The story centers on a really rotten ogre who terrorizes the country side until a chance encounter with a friendly young lady brings about a change of heart.

The third book Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh for ages 9-12.
An angel is buried behind the Abbey of Crowfield. An orphan boy is drawn into a dangerous world of old magic and into the history of the Abbey.
___________________________________________________________________
Recently I had the privilege of being a guest at a writer's group up in the northwoods. It was particularly interesting for me to be a part of a group of writers and poets whose focus is adult writing rather than young adult and children. Some of the members referenced frequently they were writing NaNoWriMo but what it sounded to me was like nanorimo. Now...not wishing to show my ignorance, I listened carefully to the discussions... hoping for hints. The kept saying I am writing in NaNoWriMo.
Thoughts raced through my head...Was this a new genre I had not heard of? Was this something to do with Native Americans? Was this a new recently coined word like refudiate? A new language? Well you can be sure after the meeting I made a beeline to my computer for enlightenment. And there it was... an acronym meaning National Novel Writing Month. Now why didn't I guess that!!!! This is a annual creative writing project you actually register online to participate and promise to write a 175 page or 50,000 word novel by midnight November 30. In 2009 there were 165,000 participants. Lucky for me it is halfway through the month so pressure is off to get involved.
_____________________________________________________________________

Cranberry and Dried Cherry Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. container frozen cranberry- raspberry juice cocktail thawed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/8 tsp. allspice
  • 1- 6oz. package dried tart cherries
  • 1- 12oz. bag fresh cranberries (produce dept.)
  • ¼ cup Merlot

Directions:

  • Bring first 5 ingredients to boiling in a saucepan stirring to dissolve sugar
  • Add cherries and cook 2 minutes
  • Add cranberries cook until berries pop about 8 minutes
  • Stir in Merlot
  • Cover and chill overnight
  • To serve discard cinnamon
  • Refrigerate till serving-heat on low to warm it
  • Serve over turkey, chicken, pork

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Continuing Poetry Tour Conversations

Another poetry tour to add to your list in the metro area St. Paul, MN.
St. Paul Public Works, Public Art St. Paul and Marcus Young and friends in 2008 implemented a city project called Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk. Marcus Young writes in his introduction to the project "Sidewalks are the blank pages of our city as a book." He goes on to say "On our modest sidewalks we hope to create delightful moments of open air reading and make public and common the beauty in our hearts as expressed by out poets."
Each year, citywide, a contest is held to invite participants to submit their poems to be added to the collection. Go to their website through GOOGLE: Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk for more information on the project, 2010 contest winners and poetry locations.

Monday, November 15, 2010

An Unusual Walk...Poetry in Motion

All truly great thoughts
are conceived by walking.
Friedrich Nietzche

If you are seeking creative ideas,
go out walking.
Angels whisper to man
when he goes for a walk.

Raymond Inmon


A Poetic Fall Ramble by Veronica Newington, a feature story in the Star Tribune (Sunday Nov. 14th) caught my interest. It is a rather intriguing thought how walking and poetry can be meshed together to inspire creativity. The town of Red Wing in Minnesota offers a self guided Poetry Barn tour. It is 20 mile loop tour that can be done by car or bike to view four different barns that each have a seasonal poem etched on their side. These poems were part of a project conceived by Massachusetts poet, Mark Mendal, who was involved in Word Works, a festival sponsored by Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1983. He found four farmers who were willing to post his seasonal poems on their barns.
Reading this article was a segue into wondering if they are other poetic walking tours available. For those who have an adventurous spirit, love to travel, enjoy poetry and getting exercise then I have just the tours for you. Note: these are real tours!
The first one is located in Central London. It is a poetry walk along the banks of the Thames. Relevant poems are recited at several famous landmarks by local guides. If traveling to the UK is a bit much then how about New York City? There is an organization of artists called Electric City that lead walks around New York. They encourage participants to listen and look for things they don't usually pay attention to around them. It is their hope these walks will inspire creativity and poetry writing. Washington, DC hosts a poetry tour through the eyes of its great poets, scholars and musicians in the nation's capital. Poetry lovers can download audio tours and maps to help in their exploration of the National Mall and other famous D.C. spots.
I suppose all this exercise talk has you thinking about a break??? Perhaps you will get a second wind and try this recipe.
Brownie Torte
Ingredients:
Brownie Layer
  • 6 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • Use 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup margarine= 1/2 cup
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 2 TB. Kahlua
Almond Macaroon Layer
  • 4 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 TB. flour
  • 1/3 can almond paste (it is in baking aisle)
  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds
Directions: Brownie layer
  • Microwave chocolate and butter- stir until smooth
  • Stir in 2/3 cup sugar and vanilla
  • Stir flour in to blend and add 1/3 cup almonds
  • Line a 8 or 9 inch square pan with foil extending over edges
  • Grease foil and spread brownie batter on it
Directions: Almond Macaroon Layer
  • In a food processor add 1/3 can almond paste mixed with 1 TB. flour
  • Mix softened cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, egg and 1TB. flour, almond paste and 1/3 cup almonds
  • Spread over brownie layer
  • Bake 350 for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean
  • Do not overbake







Saturday, November 13, 2010

Insanity


When I no longer thrill to
the first snow of the season,
I'll know I am growing old.
Lady Bird Johnson

Today I may be bordering on insanity as I trudged around the dog park in a snowstorm with periods of white-out conditions all in the name of exercise. But it was comforting thought that a wonderful treat awaited my return home. Several times around the park seem to justify having a real small piece of Mexican Chocolate Pound Cake I had made for a dinner party tonight.
Note: I did make some modifications by using Mexican Chocolate instead of usual semisweet bars of baking chocolate. Check out the recipe.

Mexican Chocolate Pound Cake

Note: Mexican chocolate has a cinnamon flavor to it. I found in the Hispanic aisle of the grocery store a product called: Chocolate Ibarra. It is 12. 6 oz. box with individual wrapped circular chocolate each 2.1 oz inside. I substituted 4 of them for the cake recipe instead of using 1- 8 oz. package of semi sweet chocolate baking squares listed below in the recipe. Then I also eliminated the 1 tsp. cinnamon.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 oz.) package semi sweet chocolate baking square, chopped
  • 1 stick butter and 1 stick margarine softened = 1 cup
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup chocolate syrup
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Directions:

  • Preheat oven 325
  • Grease well a tube pan
  • Microwave chopped chocolate about a minute- stir a few times till smooth
  • Beat butter and margarine until creamy-2 minutes
  • Add sugar gradually and beat about 4-5 minutes
  • Add eggs one at a time-beat into butter mixture
  • Stir in melted chocolate, chocolate syrup, vanilla and mix till smooth
  • In another bowl mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt
  • Add flour mixture to butter mixture on low mixer speed alternately with buttermilk but beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  • Beat a low speed until all blended
  • Bake 325 about 55 minutes-check to make sure toothpick comes out clean from center
  • Cool in pan 10 minutes remove to serving plate
  • After cake is cooled frost with you favorite chocolate frosting and sprinkle with crushed almonds on top
  • Another option is slicing the pound cake and serve warm Mexican Chocolate Sauce over each piece sprinkled with crushed almonds

Mexican Chocolate Sauce

  • On low heat in a saucepan mix
  • 1- 6 oz. package of semisweet chocolate baking squares
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. almond extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Cook all ingredients on low heat, whisking occasionally till mixture smooth
  • Remove from heat add 1 tsp. butter and ¼ cup Kahlua
  • Serve warm over the pound cake
Thought this quote was rather thought-provoking
Advice is like the snow-
the softer it falls,
the longer it dwells upon,
and
the deeper it sinks into the mind
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
English poet 1772-1834

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Let's Talk Turkey

A series of very loud barks from Bella on her usual dog watch at the window brought me to my feet. Just in time to witness a parade of turkeys strutting their stuff going by in the backyard. It was rather an amazing early morning sight worthy of pictures. I thought you might enjoy the photo and some Turkey quips to brighten you day. Several sunny days in a row is also cause for celebration since November traditionally is know as the cloudiest month.

Why did they let the turkey join the band?
Because he had drumsticks.

Why did the police arrest the turkey?
They suspected fowl play.

What do you get after eating too much turkey?
Dessert of course.

Thanksgiving dinner takes 18 hours to prepare. It is consumed in 20 minutes. Half-time takes 20 minutes. This is not a coincidence.
Erma Brombeck

Don't assume you're always going to be understood. I once wrote in a column that one should put a cup of liquid in the cavity of turkey when roasting it. Some one wrote me: "The turkey tasted great, but the plastic cup melted!
Heloise
-
Crispy Rosemary Potato Cakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 TB. Rosemary
  • 1 TB. parsley flakes
  • 3 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1 cup panko ( Japanese bread crumbs- found in baking aisle)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • crumbled cooked bacon or use real bacon bits that come in a jar

Directions:

  • Preheat oven 425
  • Heat nonstick fry pan with oil and cook onion for about 2 minutes
  • Place cooked mashed potatoes (use ricer to get lumps out) in a bowl
  • Stir in onion, cheese and crumbled bacon
  • Divide potato mixture into about 8 equal portions and chill for 20 minutes
  • Place panko in a shallow dish, add rosemary, parsley flakes, salt and pepper
  • Dredge potato patties in panko mixture
  • Place patties on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with PAM
  • Bake 425 for 12-15 minutes
  • Turn patties over and bake another 12 minutes or until golden

Idea: Serve with your favorite meatloaf



Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rule Buster

Since Bella has entered our lives she has lived mostly at the lake, free to roam, explore and chase wildlife. But the harsh reality of living a more restricted life style in a town home complex has definitely slowed her down. With a new set of rules and restrictions Bella has spent an enormous amount of her energy rushing from window to window wishing for more outdoor time. Her desire surges with each passing hour to chase wildlife and catch those geese swimming in the nearby pond.
There is no doubt in my mind that too much indoor time had finally got the best of Bella. It was time for her to hatch THE ESCAPE PLOT! And today was the the moment she had been waiting for. In fact it all happened so fast as a blur of yellow-brown fur whizzed by me-out the door and then she was gone in a flash!
All I could think of was the town home manual...
Section VII: Pets
#13. All homeowners must keep all pets leashed or under restraint while outdoors to comply with City Ordinances
My biggest fears were: Did she really know where our house was? And would I find her before she got to a busy street?
As I yelled her name multiple times I did spy her from a distance. She glanced at me with a defiant look and continued running off in a different direction. There was no stopping her. Several neighbors seeing my plight tried to be helpful pointing... I saw her go this way! No look she is over there! Wait.. I think I saw her there!
My poor head began to swim feeling the insurmountable odds.
Finally after a bit of time my husband managed to capture a very drenched dog just as she emerged from the pond. We no doubt had spoiled her fun since she finally reached the prize...those geese she had been looking at all afternoon out the patio door.
Of course I never did see any remorse for these hi jinks.
The irony of this afternoon adventure is I had just settled in with a new book called Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris. I had read several reviews of this best seller book and was intrigued by the title. If only Bella could read she would love the hearing these collection of woodland animal stories where the creatures who have human characteristics interact humorously with each other. Often the stories appear to be like fables but what the author has created is a modern bestiary (new word look up its meaning). Add the book to your list.
_____________________________________________________________________
Grilling continues with nice Fall weather. Try this easy recipe
Grilled Chicken and Veggie Tortellini
Ingredients:
  • 4 small zucchini cut lengthwise
  • 2 tomatoes chopped in chunks and seeded
  • 1 green pepper chopped and seeded
  • 1 small package of mushrooms
  • 1 container of pesto found in refrigerated section
  • 1 large package of cheese filled tortellini (use colored mixed kind)
  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • 1-2 tsp. ground Italian herb seasoning
Directions:
  • Preheat grill
  • Season tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, pepper with herb seasoning
  • Grill chicken and roast veggies in a steamer on the grill
  • Let stand 10 minutes
  • Cook tortellini according to package directions
  • Chop chicken and toss all with pesto
  • Grate Parmesan over top of pasta mixture
  • Serve immediately
Note: use pesto sparingly-taste till achieve right flavor intensity

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Chase

The following story is a true experience. No one could make up such a tale.
Life has never been the same for us since Bella, a 75 lb. yellow lab, entered our lives. It can be challenging at times to keep up with the energy level of a fairly young dog. Fortunately, a nearby fenced in dog park has been our salvation. I must admit some days can be a bit unnerving when owners and their dogs enter the gated area. They unleash their beasts who run full force down the hill toward the path in your direction. Free at last! But what about me? I feel like a moving target!
Yesterday, much to my surprise, a young woman steps onto the path with a very large unleashed dog who quickly bounds away. She then proceeds to set down a young piglet that she has been carrying and releases its leash. The fearful piglet (found out later only 8 weeks old) is quivering in fear as several dogs surround and cautiously begin sniffing it. Seems like this is some kind of ritual greeting dogs give each other. An alarmed look spreads across the owner's face when the growling and barking begins. It was then- the hot pursuit ensued!
Bella who thought surely this young piglet was only fair game began the chase. The piglet realizing danger ran down the path squealing and crying with Bella not far behind. As Bella quickly gained on her target, the owner now realizes there is a serious problem. She starts screaming running after the two of them yelling "Stop! Stop!."
Now I ask you... "What dog is going to stop with such a prize almost within her grasp?"
With the three ahead of me (all running full speed) I tried running hoping to catch up. All I can hear now is barking, squealing, crying and angry shouts. Just as the owner reaches her piglet, dives on top of it to protect her, Bella leaps on the heap. Truly this was a Kodak moment!
Luckily this tale has a happy ending since there were no obvious injuries. Bella wondered what all the fuss was about and seemed a bit dismayed since her next meal had been oh- so close.
It was a relief to me when the young woman (in disgust over the recent events) said she would find a different park closer to her house next time to take walks. But I do wonder if next time her piglet will be so lucky!
___________________________________________________________________________
Caramel Apple Sauce
Makes three cups
Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
pinch of salt
Directions:
Bring sugar, water, lemon juice and salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan. When bubbles form, cover and boil 3 minutes. Uncover and boil till mixture turns the color of ice tea about 5-6 minutes
Ingredients:
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup brown sugar
Directions:
Whisk in cream and brown sugar.
Reduce heat to low, simmer 2 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Stir in
1 1/2 cups Granny Smith apples, diced
1 tsp. vanilla
Serving Ideas:
Serve as a dip for chopped apples or pretzels omitting diced apples in last part of recipe
Drizzle caramel sauce over spice pound cake
Drizzle caramel sauce over gingerbread cake
Note: The sauce will seem thin, but will thicken once it cools
Recipe adapted fro Cuisine At Home October 2005

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Keeping Up

Update: Some readers have been following the past year's installments of an ongoing children's story I am writing called: Adventures of Rocky Socky
Story Synopsis:
Rocky Socky, is a sock monkey, who lives in Sockland and drives the Sockland Express bus. Readers first heard about him last winter in blog titled: Sledding Mishap ( 1/30/10). Rocky Socky and his sock monkey friends, Moxie and Telly wiped out on their sled. Rocky Socky required several stitches and also broke his arm. Following doctor's orders, Rocky Socky took a leave (6 weeks) from his bus driver's job. He wisely found two traveling companions and went out West to help him recuperate.
Upon his return Rocky Socky received wonderful news. He was asked to film a commercial in Maui advertising local tourist destinations for a hotel chain. Seems they saw his gig on the Super Bowl commercial and were impressed with his talent. And then... Rocky Socky became a star! All of us back home envied the pictures he sent back (via the blog) of the places he got to see and work at. A day trip to the sock sanctuary was a life changing moment. It led to his adoption of Holokai, a younger and I might add, rambunctious sock monkey. Both returned to Sockand and met up with Will, a young boy who often travels from his home, into the magical world of Sockland where time does not pass and he shrinks to a smaller fairy-like size. Together they have many adventures in this magical world which includes the Sock Bank and the Sock Mart. Holokai puts all his energy to good use and lands a weekend job entertaining the crowds at the Sock Mart to draw in more customers. Will becomes his manager.
If you are new to this blog all these past adventures can be accessed by clicking on: older posts from January 2010 through this past summer.

I will continue Rocky Socky's adventures from time to time on this blog as well as posting recipes, photos, and continuing conversations about books, poems and other life's reflections.
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Part One: A Jump Start
"Oh, Wow!" exclaimed Will out loud. "These are just the things I was looking for!"
An ad from the 3 R's store (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) in the Sockland Gazette caught his attention: Storewide Pre-Holiday Sale. Will was excited thinking about getting a jump start on his holiday shopping for his friends and family.
"These buy one- get one half off second item coupons look like a good deal to me," as he busily started cutting.
Will started to think about all of the many recycled sock items pictured that would be perfect for his friends. He knew Rocky Socky would just love the rug made out a large sock with the initials RS monogrammed for his front door. He thought Holokai might enjoy the book: How To Make Sock Puppets.
Will began to make his list. He thought Saturday would be a perfect day to make a return trip back into Sockland. He hoped Holokai could manage the Sock Mart crowd by himself. He just never knows what to expect when Holokai jumps on the Sock Mart tree in the front window. He seems to get so wound up!
"I wonder if he can behave and not cause any commotion without me around,"sighed Will.
All Rights Reserved Ready 2010
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Roasted Pork and Dried Fruit and Port Sauce
Ingredients:
  • 3 lbs. pork tenderloin or 4-6 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 1 cup dried peaches
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1 cup dried prunes
  • 1 cup port wine or could use Merlot
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
Directions:
  • Remove skin from tenderloin and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Cook meat in 6 tsp.olive oil about 3 minutes on each side-set aside
  • Add to 1 tsp.olive oil to apricots, plums, peaches, cherries and 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • Saute 3 minutes till pine nuts are toasted
  • To the wine add 3 TB. cornstarch- whisk well and add to dried fruit/pine nuts mixture with pomegranate juice
  • Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thickened
  • Add meat and chicken broth and cinnamon sticks-cook on medium low heat uncovered about 20 minutes
  • The meat thermometer should be inserted to thickest part of meat and register 150 degrees
  • Let stand 10 minutes before serving and remove cinnamon sticks
Recipe adapted from Southern Living magazine November 2010