Thursday, March 31, 2011

On The Road

Chapter 15 The World According to Bella
As you can see from the photo posted I was not motivated in the least to leave what I call my dog heaven the past 5 weeks. I began to fret when I heard my people planning the route back that they were adding some extra 150 extra miles to the already 1,500 just to go to Bishopville, SC. And when I saw that my space in the car was even less than the ride down I paced nervously back and forth. I hoped they would change their minds about this field trip. But it looked hopeless. I was doomed to be trapped in the car for the day. And it didn't help with a rain forecast to follow us!
Now I suppose you are wondering what could possibly interest my people in this little town. Have you heard of Pearl Fryar? He is a man who has taken topiary gardening to new heights. In fact several of his neighbors have also jumped on the wagon and turned their lawns into topiary works of art. Pearl is the main attraction in Bishopville. He has put his neighborhood on the map. School buses and tour groups make his house a destination. But by the time we got there we had the place to ourselves. Perhaps all the rain kept everyone away. My people seemed to go crazy taking pictures. If you want to see Pearl's own photo gallery and learn more about him go http://www.pearlfryar.com but do enjoy the ones we took today.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Missed Opportunity

Chapter 14: The World According to Bella
I must be on a roll since I've been allowed to go on two different field trips. The first was to Kingsley Plantation outside of Jacksonville. As I checked out the plantation grounds along the St. John's River I kept barking and barking trying to get my people's attention. I just had to get my picture taken near a palm tree. You see now I have some proof of my vacation down south. My friends at the dog park are going to be amazed when they hear about all my tales of adventure. Looking at the remains of the slave quarters homes made out of tabby (oyster shells, cement, water, sand and lime) made me happy I get to live in a nice comfy home with my own bed.
My second adventure was St. Simons Island, GA. Check out my photo near the painted statue. I must say these Georgians are real Bull Dog fans. Now the amazing part of this day was all the attention I got everywhere. If only my people had been smart enough to put a sign around my neck that said. Pets...for only $.25 then we could have made some money to pay for our lunch. Well over 10 people stopped us during the day and asked if they could pet me. I loved hearing all the compliments. But the best for me was all long hugs from the kids who kept saying they wished they had me for a pet. My people went crazy over a church and nearby cemetery. I kept hearing... look at the colors, look at the Spanish Moss, look at the trees. Quite frankly I do not know what all the fuss was about since for me sniffing all those great smells was the best for me!
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Some new ways to think about salmon

Bourbon Glazed Salmon
Ingredients:
  • 3 TB. brown sugar
  • 3 TB. bourbon
  • 2 TB. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 TB. grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 TB. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 4 (6 oz.) skinless salmon fillets
Directions:
  • Combine first 7 ingredients in a plastic bag
  • Add fish to seal bag
  • Marinate in refrigerator 1-1/2 hours turning occasionally
  • Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat and spray with PAM then add 1 TB. butter
  • Add fish and marinade to pan and cook fish 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork
  • To serve sprinkle each serving with 1 TB. green onion, drizzle with a little of sauce and 3/4 tsp. sesame seeds
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Salmon Fillets
Ingredients:
  • 4 (6 oz. ) salmon fillets
  • 1 TB. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 TB. butter
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 TB. parsley flakes
  • 1-1/2 tsp. tomato basil seasonings (I used Mrs. Dash's Tomato Garlic Seasoning Blend)
Directions:
  • Place fillets on greased tin foil placed on a a jelly roll pan
  • Combine juice, seasonings, olive oil and pour over fillets
  • Combine bread crumbs, parsley flakes and Parmesan cheese with 2 TB. melted butter
  • Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over top of fillets
  • Cover/seal with foil Bake 375 20-30 minutes
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Spring Thyme Salmon
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 TB. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • juice of lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 4 (6 oz.) salmon fillets
Directions:
  • Combine all ingredients in a bag except lemon juice -add salmon fillets and refrigerate 30 minutes
  • Save juice and place salmon fillets on grill make sure foil is greased-spoon enough marinade over fish just to cover the top
  • Grill and sprinkle with lemon juice just before serving












Sunday, March 27, 2011

Oh...to be so close

Chapter 13: The World According to Bella
My ears perked up when I heard my people talking about going to a Farmer's Market over the weekend. Food and more food was all I could think of. Naturally I put my best paw forward meaning behavior on the last beach outing so they would deem me worthy to go. I couldn't believe when my floppy ears heard them say dogs were allowed at this food fest. How lucky for me. I was psyched!
Imagine my disappointment when we got there. We all froze in our tracks staring at the BIG YELLOW sign:
As of March 1 No Dogs Allowed Due to Health-Safety-Insurance Reasons.
And to think I was so close. So my people split up and one found me a nice spot to bask in the sun. Within seconds all these warm fuzzies started rolling in. " What a pretty dog." Isn't she cute." "What a nice coat" Can I pet her?" "She is so beautiful."
Oh, to be so adored by so many makes not getting into the outdoor market a bit more tolerable. A bonus for me was a doggie bakery at one of the stalls. You can imagine what I got!
One of my people was quite excited to watch a cooking demo from a chef who works nearby at a fancy hotel. She loved the refreshing taste of the soup and even got the recipe for us.
The rest of the day was rather uneventful since strolling the town seemed too boring because I was not allowed in any stores. I really wanted to go in Book Plus with my owner. In the store window a book caught my interest The Great Gracie Chase: Stop That Dog by Cynthia Rylant. Seemed like a book I'd enjoy hearing. My owner was obsessed about some cookbook she had to find.
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Avocado Soup
Ingredients:
  • 4 ripe avocados-peeled and cubed
  • 1 cucumber peeled and cubed
  • 1 green pepper cut up discard seeds
  • 5 sprigs of green onion
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • juice of 2 lemons and 2 limes
  • 32 oz. water
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
Directions:
  • Place all ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth
  • Pass mixture through a mess strainer and refrigerate several hours
  • For extra flavor add fresh basil, mint, oregano


Friday, March 25, 2011

Bits and Pieces

I subscribe to Garrison Keillor's online daily newsletter (writersalmanac.org). Each day he posts a poem or prose and a list of some notable literary birthdays. Today I found out it is Kate Di Camillo's birthday. I also learned that due to many health issues Kate experienced during her childhood her parents decided to move to Florida. They hoped the warm climate would improve her health which it did. When Ms. DiCamillo moved to Minneapolis she drew upon her Florida childhood experiences for the setting of her first novel Winn Dixie. This children's book was about a stray dog named Winn Dixie who helps a 10 year old girl adjust to her new life in Florida. It's hard to imagine that one could get excited seeing a Winn Dixie grocery store for the first time but I did. I just had to get a picture of the store to show my students. You have to realize that this a grocery store chain we do not have in our area. I have found a house in the area we are visiting that is exactly like the one described in her book Winn Dixie right down to a tree in the front yard with bottles hanging from the limbs. This book became a best seller in 2000. Ms. DiCamillo went on to write many more books that have won numerous awards. One of her recent books The Magican's Elephant was a Newbery Medal winner.
I am posting a picture of Cappuccino Blossoms cookies I forgot to add to the blog on March 20th. Also posting a link to Christy Jordan's food blog.http://www.southernplate.com/ I was impressed with the amount of interesting food information and her style.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Think Spring

Just because the groundhog didn't see his shadow-made a prediction of an early spring and the calendar says spring I am beginning to wonder if it bypassed the Midwest states. A check today on the weather at home tells me winter still has a tight grasp on several states. It seems relentless throwing out a mixed bag of ice, sleet and snow. Winter has definitely overstayed its welcome now that 5 whole months of this season has passed by.
I went to my archives of photos and posted a nice one of lilacs blooming May 7th 2010 to help those who need a reminder that spring is coming even if seems slow.
If you happen to live in an area where it does not look or feel like spring yet I suggest planning a get together and hopefully you will find these recipes a good addition.
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Small cheer and great welcome
makes a merry feast
William Shakespeare

Italian Chicken Salad
Ingredients:
  • 8 cups of cooked chicken
  • 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup pine nuts toasted
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 3 TB. dried basil or 6 TB. chopped fresh basil
  • 1-1/2 cup Miracle Whip
  • 1 cup sour cream(low fat)
  • 2 TB. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 TB. parsley flakes
  • pumpernickel bread (cut off crusts) or thin slices of sourdough bread (cut off crusts)
  • small pieces of green leaf lettuce
  • sliced cherry tomatoes
Directions:
  • In a large bowl combine chicken, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, green onion, parsley flakes and basil
  • In another bowl combine Miracle whip, sour cream, mustard, salt pepper
  • Combine both mixtures and chill several hours or even day before needed
  • To serve: spread chicken mixture on each bread slice- add lettuce and cherry tomato that has been halved
Spring Salad with Creamy Dill Dressing or Lite Sweet Vidalia Onion
Note: I found a new product called Ken's Steak House Lite Sweet Vidalia Onion. It is quite versatile and works well for as a Caesar Salad dressing mix.
Ingredients:
1 (8- oz.) bag of radishes sliced
1 (8-oz. ) package of snow peas
1 (6-0z.) bag of baby spinach (remove stems)
1 (5-oz.) bag spring mix
2 large yellow bell peppers thinly sliced
Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl
Use a prepared dill dressing mix or Ken's Steak House Lite Sweet Vidalia Onion

A staple of southern kitchens is the nut packed Southern Pecan Pie. It only takes one bowl and eight ingredients.
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup whole pecans
  • 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 TB. melted butter
  • 2 TB. bourbon
Directions:
  • Make homemade pie crust or use a product called Pappy's Pie Crust (near the ice-cream in freezer aisle)
  • Line a pie shell with pie crust and press a large piece of foil over the bottom of pie crust and up the sides. Make sure foil is pressed tight to the edges of the pan using fingers to go around the pan pressing in foil. Fill with dried beans on top of the foil. Bake 15 minutes in a preheated oven 425
  • Remove foil and beans and cook crust 5 minutes longer
  • Reduce heat to 375 and place foil strips around outside edges of the pan to prevent browning
  • Whisk all ingredients with 1 cup of chopped pecans
  • Spread 3/4 cup whole pecans on the bottom of the pie shell
  • Pour in filling and cook about 40 minutes
  • The center will jiggle slightly
  • Top with Bourbon Whipped Cream (whipped cream beaten with 2 TB. sugar and 2 TB.bourbon)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

All You Can Eat-Seafood Buffet

Chapter 11-The World According to Bella
Since my health has improved I have been allowed to resume my blogging and some restricted beach activities. Perhaps indulging in the Beach Seafood Buffet has not been such a good idea. Fortunately for me my people got to a crab today before I spied it. I seem to have a short memory for how sick I have been and also knowing I do have self control issues. We posted a picture of the crab before it was thrown away. I guess crunching up two crabs recently with its legs dangling out my mouth for some reason has sent them both over the edge.
My beach adventures have expanded to a new area. Under the board walk that goes over the sand dunes there is an abundance of wildlife-turtles, rabbits, and even possums. One of my owners almost lost his grip on my leash as I tried my best to capture an animal. At one point I was practically dangling over the boardwalk side railing by my leash several feet off the ground doing my best to grab a turtle who was moving quite slowly up the sand dune. We also posted that picture of the turtle who when realizing danger was imminent began to move more quickly. I guess you might say I have regained my appetite.
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Please check back tomorrow for some Spring Luncheon recipes which include:
Italian Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches-Mixed Greens with Sweet Vidalia Onion dressing and Southern Pecan Pie
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I thought it fitting to include a recipe for crab cakes in this blog. This southern favorite is found in most restaurants.
Crab Cakes
Ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 lb. crabmeat
  • 19 Ritz crackers finely ground
  • 1 small onion chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasonings
  • dash Cayenne pepper
Directions:
  • Whisk eggs and add all other ingredients
  • Mix into crabmeat
  • Shape into patties
  • Place on wax paper (or parchment paper) on cookie sheet/plate refrigerate 30 minutes
  • Coat each one with Panko bread crumbs
  • Fry in butter or olive oil a few at a time
  • Brown 4-5 minutes


Sunday, March 20, 2011

A New Beginning

Update: Bella has temporary taken time off from blogging until she feels better. Seems her beach escapades and voracious appetite has finally caught up with her and she needs a bit of recuperation. I expect in a few days she will feel better to resume her writing.
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In Spring, I have counted
136 different kinds of
weather inside of 24 hours.
Mark Twain

Spring is when you feel
like whistling even
with a shoe full of slush.
Doug Larson

The first day of spring is
one thing, and the
first spring day is another,
The difference between them
is sometimes
as great as a month.
Henry Van Dyke

Happy First Day of Spring
No matter what area you live in Spring weather can be a mixed bag. So we all can appreciate anything in bloom that brightens up the landscape.
We are in an area where the Rhododendron bushes are in full bloom. And I might add look quite spectacular. I ask you though... could you spell this word without a little help? I am sure the residents of Washington state are ahead of me since this shrub is their state flower. Rhododendrons' nickname is King of Shrubs. There are over 850 different natural species and Azaleas are a shrub of genus (group) of Rhododendron.
I am posting a picture of the Pacific Rhododendron found online: state flower of Washington and one I took while out on a walk.
All this outside beauty inspired me to try a new recipe. If you like chocolate and coffee then this is the recipe for you!
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Cappuccino Blossoms
adapted from Southern Living August 2010
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup margarine
  • 6 TB. sugar
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Kahlua
  • 2- 2/3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. instant espresso (powder mixture and comes in a small jar)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup chopped, salted, roasted almonds or can use dry-roasted salted peanuts
  • 42 dark chocolate kisses (more if you choose to eat while cooking)
  • parchment paper
Directions:
  • Preheat oven 375
  • Beat butter until creamy adding sugars and beat well
  • Add Kahlua and beat well
  • Stir together flour, espresso, soda, cinnamon and salt
  • Add to butter mixture and beat at a low speed
  • Stir in almonds
  • Dough can be placed in freezer till chilled about 1 hour
  • Roll dough into small balls and bake 11-12 minutes on parchment paper
  • Remove from oven and quickly place a candy kiss in center of each cookie- cool few minutes and transfer to a baking rack to complete cooling time
Note: If desired dough can be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to a week


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Celebrate Today

Celebrate today everything that is Irish and more....
May love and laughter light your days
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!

Have a good day and try a piece of Cordial Pie (Grasshopper Pie)
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 pkg. gelatin
  • 3 jumbo eggs
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup creme de menthe
  • 1/4 cup creme de cocoa
  • 1/2 pint whipping cream-whipped
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Crushed Oreo cookies
Directions:
  • Make Oreo cookie crust using finely ground crumbs (about 26 cookies) and 2-3 TB. butter
  • Pat in a pie pan and chill for about 30 minutes
  • Soften 1 package gelatin in 1/2 cold water
  • In saucepan add softened gelatin, 1/3 cup sugar and 3 egg yolks
  • Whisk well and cook on low heat till thick-watch carefully so eggs do not curdle
  • Whisk in both liquors blend till smooth and refrigerate only 10 minutes
  • Whip cream
  • Beat egg whites folding in the other 1/3 cup sugar
  • Combine egg whites with whip cream
  • Fold in gelatin/liquor mixtures-if need a little more green add just a tiny drop
  • Pile into cookie shell and refrigerate several hours

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Beach Buzz

Chapter 10: The World According to Bella
"Such a pretty dog." "Isn't she cute!" " Can I pet her?" "What a sweet dog." "She seems like such a good dog." Such soft fur" and the comments just go on and on and the speculation as to what my real breed is lab, golden retriever or both. It's fun listening to them play the guessing game.
Hey.. these are some of the remarks from my beach fan club that my people hear everyday. The buzz at the beach...I am making a name for myself these past few weeks and getting noticed which is not a bad thing. Often people cluster in groups and stare in amazement watching me run back and forth on the beach chasing birds at a breathtaking speed. My torpedo speed impresses the crowd though some even worry my heart will fail or I will be swept out to sea by big waves. But hey! They just don't realize I am one tough lady.
But it's those darn birds! They enjoying running me ragged back and forth down the beach always staying out of my reach. I am beginning to think after all this time this is some kind of game for them being elusive.
But back to my beach fans...my people just can't believe all the attention I garner and really without trying. I seem to be in demand. The kids like to hug and pet me as well as the big people. I do love all the attention, the pats and warm fuzzies I get. But little do they realize the stress I add to my own people being such a scavenger. Yesterday I ate another crab- shell and all. I am on the countdown now with only 12 more glorious beach days left.
Can life get any better for a dog?
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Supermoon Alert:
Today March 21 at 3PM Eastern daylight time the moon will arrive at its closest point to earth since March 1993. At its peak may appear 14% larger and 30 times brighter than lesser full moons of the past.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mid-March Celebration

Some Irish sayings from the wee folks
A cabin with plenty of food
is better than a hungry castle.

May you live to be a hundred years
with one extra year to repent.

May your pockets be heavy
and your heart be light.

Some recipe ideas as you gear up for your St. Paddy's Day celebration.
Do not let the long list of ingredients for the Irish Stew put you in a tizzy. It is well worth your time and if...you only put half the amount of suggested Guinness and save rest for yourself it will make the cooking go even smoother:) Note the stew should be made the day before needed since that will enhance the flavors even more.
Irish Beef Guinness Stew
Ingredients:
  • 1-1/2 LB. beef stew meat cut in small cubes
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small box of white mushrooms rinsed and sliced
  • 1-6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • 1-12 oz bottle of Guinness Stout beer( I used only half because this beer has robust flavor)
  • 2 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 3 small red potatoes cut up in one inch pieces
  • 2TB. parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. marjoram
  • 1 tsp. Rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seeds
  • 2 TB. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup beef broth (use low sodium one)
  • 3/4 cup Bloody Mary Mix (I used Mr. T's)
  • 3/4 cup V-8 juice regular but can use the spicy one if want a little more kick
  • 1/3 cup water mixed with 3TB. flour
Directions:
  • Dredge beef cubes with flour and then fry till browned (3 min on a side) in 3 TB. olive oil-set aside
  • In same frying pan saute mushrooms, cloves of garlic and onion about 3 min.
  • In a large measuring cup add beef broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and all spices
  • In a soup pot add browned beef cubes, beef broth mixture, V-8 juice, Bloody Mary juice and 1/3 cup water/ flour mixture, carrots, potatoes, celery, mushroom mixture and yes don't forget the beer!!!
  • Cook on low heat covered about 1-1/2 -2 hours till carrots and potatoes are done
  • Discard bay leaf before serving
Note Recipe would work fine in a crock pot.
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Erin Go Slaw (Cabbage)
Ingredients:
1/2 red onion cut in thin strips
1/2 bag ( 16 oz.) Fresh Express coleslaw 3-color (green cabbage-carrots-red cabbage)
1/2 small head of broccoli-cut up
1 tsp. celery seeds
1 small green pepper diced
shredded carrots
optional bacon bits for topping and crumbled blue cheese
6 TB. Miracle Whip
3 TB. cider vinegar
2 TB. sugar
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
Directions:
  • In a bowl add spices to Miracle Whip with vinegar and sugar
  • Add dressing to the rest of the ingredients (will have to double dressing ingredients if using whole bag of the slaw/vegetable mixture
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours
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Guinness Ginger Cake
Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/3 cup Guinness Stout beer
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 TB. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
Directions:
  • Preheat oven 350 grease well a glass 8 inch square pan
  • In a saucepan combine cocoa and stout. Heat over low heat stirring till smooth, let cool
  • In a bowl combine flour and all spices
  • In a large bowl beat butter and sugar till fluffy and add in eggs one at a time beating well after each addition
  • Beat in vanilla
  • Stir buttermilk into cooled cocoa mixture
  • Add half of the flour mixture to butter mixture on low speed until well combined
  • Add buttermilk mixture with remaining flour mixture beating until smooth
  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • Frost with Chocolate Ganache Icing
Chocolate Ganache
1-1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream
1 cup sugar
4 TB. light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
14 oz. bittersweet chocolate chopped
In a medium saucepan combine cream, sugar, corn syrup and butter. Bring to boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and pour over cooled cake





Monday, March 14, 2011

Empowerment

I cannot sit and chat with you
the way I'd like to do
so brew yourself a cup of tea
I'll think of you,
you think of me.
The first two lines of this verse is what I imagine author Deborah Rodriguez might have her character Sunny say to her customers in the book A Cup of Friendship. Sunny is an American who owns a successful coffee shop business in Kabul. Each of the women who come to the cafe have a story to tell and a secret that will lead them to forming extraordinary friendships along the way. Since the author spent several years in the country and co-owned a coffee shop, she has crafted a fictional story that draws on her own experiences.
If you are interested in books about foreign cultures and would like to know more about the current conditions women face in Afghanistan then you would enjoy this novel as well as her first one The Beauty Shop of Kabul. This book is a memoir of her experiences living for five years in Kabul opening a training beauty school.
The author's real life is quite fascinating. She is an American hairdresser who went to Afghanistan as part of a humanitarian group after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Once there she became involved in setting up a beauty school training program to certify Afghanistan women to become self-sufficient and earn a living. She remained there five years and also became a co-owner of a coffee shop. During this time Ms Rodriguez married knowing her Afghanistan husband only 49 days. In 2007 she was forced to flee the country with her son fearing for their safety from her husband who was an assistant to a warlord. Currently she lives in Mexico.
Since the Kabul Beauty School closed a new program called The Kabul Beauty School Oasis Rescue has been formed. One of their projects is called Beauty Shop in A Box. I was intrigued by the project concept since it gives women in refugee camps, disaster stricken or post conflict areas opportunities to start up their own business to help generate income and ultimately become self-sufficient. Follow this link to learn more.
Both books are interesting reads and informative to learn about the possibilities for educating and empowering women who live in areas where they have fewer rights than men.

Check back tomorrow for recipes to help in your planning for upcoming St. Patrick's Day celebration.
Irish Beef Stew-Cabbage Salad and Grasshopper Pie.

Friday, March 11, 2011

March Madness

Chapter Nine: The World According to Bella
I was doing some heavy dreaming about my upcoming Friday field trip to the car show when the phone rang and roused me from my sleep. We were alerted by family members of Tsunami warnings in Hawaii. This was a big concern for my people whose son lives there. Several phone calls later we were assured he was safe but the visual images of the damages of the Tsunami in Japan kept us glued to the TV for several hours. Many images were so scary I had to close my eyes.
I was very well behaved for my beach run today since I did not want to upset my people anymore. Lucky for me since I got the okay to join them for the antique car show.
The main street on the island was closed for the event. At least 40 cars went by and I posted some of our favorites. Most of the cars were rare and I never had heard of a Allard or a Dusenberg. I am car savvy today and can tell you that Allard Motor Company was an English car founded in 1936. Approximately 1900 cars were produced till its closure in 1966. It had a large American V8 engine in a small light British sports car body giving it a high power to weight ratio. The Dusenberg was a luxury automobile made in Auburn, Indiana from 1913-1937. It was famous for its high quality passenger cars and record breaking racing cars.
By the time I got home I was exhausted from being up so long, missed my morning nap and really needed that afternoon nap.
Later I awoke to cooking smells and my stomach began to growl. Perhaps this southern favorite recipe will hit the spot for you. I did my silent begging trick and my bowl magically got filled with bits of ham.
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Cornbread Shortcake with Ham and Peach Salsa
Ingredients and Directions:
  • In an 8 inch square baking pan make corn bread following directions on the box and cool
  • Cook over medium heat in a non-stick pan sprayed with PAM smoked ham steak (I used Hormel product)
  • To serve cut each shortcake (cornbread) piece in half horizontally
  • Place piece of sauteed ham on one slice of cornbread-top with peach salsa cover with other cornbread slice and top with more salsa
  • Garnish with cilantro
Homemade Peach Salsa
Note can use prepared peach-mango salsa
  • 3 cups diced-peeled peaches (drop peaches into boiling water for 3 seconds remove and peel)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries-chopped
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 TB. shallots or can use chopped red onion
  • 2 TB. fresh cilantro
  • 2 TB. brown sugar
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. ground pepper
  • optional 1 jalapeno pepper
mix and refrigerate for several hours



Wednesday, March 9, 2011

An Excellent Adventure

Chapter Eight: The World According to Bella
Despite the fact my people are often stressed with my antics on the beach I am truly having an excellent adventure down south. I view the beach as one large seafood buffet. And I can't get enough of it. Such tasty morsels!!! Yesterday I consumed an entire crab-shell and all! Now that sent my people rushing inside to the computer to check on what it would do to my insides. Happy to report that after one whole day I still feel fit enough to run through the surf and down the beach trying to catch birds. One never knows what finds there on a beach after the tide goes out. Today I spied several brightly colored deflated balloons but just as I was about to snatch one it was quickly taken away.
Being outdoors anywhere makes me the happiest so I didn't mind missing a recent field trip to Savannah. Did not sound like a very dog friendly place to me since I could not ride the sightseeing trolley. Looking at my people's pictures seems like wrought iron fencing, gates, railings, and fancy historic houses are a big deal as well as all these circular parks incorporated into a basic grid pattern in this town. One photo I thought quite strange was the fancy metal drainpipe one. These drainpipes were designed to look like dolphins since many people believed dolphins were a sign of good luck and prosperity. To me the drainpipe looks like a weird kind of fish.
I have been promised if I can behave (if that is possible) I can go to a parade of fancy and very expensive cars, some even over a million on Friday. Hope they keep their word!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chapter Seven: The World According to Bella
My voracious appetite has indeed gotten me in trouble again. I just can't help myself. Everything on the beach seems edible and fair game as far as I am concerned. But my people just get into such a snit when I start munching everything and anything while romping around the beach and into the surf.
The jellyfish incident sent them into such a tailspin. I came bounding out of the waters with what they called a cannonball jellyfish about 8 inches round. They kept screaming at me to drop it-drop it but I just shook my head and clenched my jaws even more. It is a game to me see how riled up I can get the two of them. Seems they just watched a show that day about the jellyfish alert on nearby beaches. For some unexplainable reason the current is washing these jellyfish ashore. They can still sting hour nearby after being washed up on the beach. It can be painful if a jellyfish stings you and there could be a reaction. Man of War are the deadliest ones to encounter but lucky those have not been sighted on this beach. Much to the relief of my people and the others who had gathered around watching the commotion I dropped it. Guess the game was not fun anymore.
Which now brings me to the point of abandonment. My people had enough of my antics and I got left behind from a field trip I really wanted to do today. They were going to Ft. Clinch where a reenactment of life at the fort as it was during the time of the Civil War was going on. The loading and firing a musket by part of an infantry group is what I really wanted to see. Needless to say I was disappointed and am going to try to be better behaved in the future though it might be a stretch for me.
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The current issue of Cooking Light March 2011 posted a meal that takes only 20 minutes to prepare. I tried it and indeed it does and is quite good. I have added some adaptations.
Beef-Broccoli Stir-Fry
Ingredients:
  • 2 (3 1/2 oz) bags boil in the bag long grain white rice
  • 2 TB sherry
  • 2 TB. lower sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 lb. sirloin steak cut diagonally across grain into thin slices
  • 1-1/2 TB. cornstarch
  • 1 TB. Hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup lower sodium beef broth
  • 2 TB. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1-2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 4 cups prechopped broccoli florets
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup green onions
  • baby corn on the cob
  • carrots thinly sliced and cut on the diagonal
  • 1/3 cup chopped cashews
  • 1-2 large orange rind peeled off and then sliced into sections
Directions:
  • Cook rice according to directions set aside
  • Cut up oranges, broccoli, onion
  • While rice is cooking mix together sherry, soy sauce, sugar, hoisin sauce, ginger, pepper flaks, garlic,broth and beef cuts
  • In a wok or large fry pan heat oil and saute beef mixture about 3 minutes
  • Mix 1/3 water with 1 large tablespoon of cornstarch
  • Add to meat mixture and fold in vegetable plus the baby corn on the cob
  • Cook on lower heat till sauce is thickened and beef done
  • Serve beef mixture over rice-sprinkle nuts on top

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Challenge


Time is free, but its priceless.
You can't own it, but you can use it.
You can't keep it, but you can spend it.
Once you've lost it
you can never get it back.
Harvey Mac Kay
Business author and motivational speaker
Being away from my own kitchen space has presented some cooking challenges on this trip. It has forced me to be somewhat creative as I improvise.
My first cooking challenge was making a Key Lime Pie. I was using the recipe posted a few blogs back. First hurdle was the blender. It did not spin correctly for crumbling graham crackers. But fortunately for me I did have my own rolling pin. (You probably do not know anyone who travels with this cooking utensil do you?) Second challenge were the Key Limes. The only real Key Limes the store had were these small ones in a bag that were the size of Brussels sprouts (see photo posted). The challenge here was no juicer. So I put my husband to work who carefully cut each one in half and squeezed the juice out by hand. He barely made the 1/2 cup juice from all these little limes. Next challenge were the seeds that were floating in the juice and no small strainer. We crossed that hurdle by using a vegetable steamer. Happy to report the rest of the recipe went smoothly. I found a suitable pan and voila'... the results are posted for you to see.
The following recipe was posted several months ago. I made some changes in the dressing and type of pasta which has improved the flavor.
FYI We are in area that is currently on Jellyfish Alert along the beaches-Bella will update you soon on her near deadly encounter!
Lastly, let me know what you think of the new look for the blog site.
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Chicken Cherry Pasta Salad
serves 4-6
Ingredients:
  • 3 chicken breasts that have been cooked at 350 for 50 minutes. I used some onion/salt/pepper and covered chicken with foil
  • 2 cups cooked Radiatore (I used a product called Ronzoni Garden Delight)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1- 5 oz. package dried cherries
  • 4 cups baby spinach, stems removed
  • 1 cup walnuts
Dressing:
Using 1 cup to start with mix equal parts of Miracle Whip and prepared dressing mix: Ken's Steak House Lite Sweet Vidalia Onion
Directions:
  • Slice and cube chicken
  • Mix chicken with onion, celery, cherries
  • Fold into dressing mixture and chill at least two hours
  • Serve on individual plates with spinach leaves on bottom of plate and chicken mixture on top
  • Sprinkle with nuts
  • On the second day if you have leftovers consider adding more dressing to moisten it.



Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Search

"I'll tell 'ya how to stay young,
hang around with older people.'
Bob Hope

There is a fountain of youth:
it is your mind, your talents,
your creativity you bring
to your life and the lives of the people you love.
When you learn to tap this source,
you will truly have defeated age.
Sophia Loren
The world according to Bella
Chapter Six: End of the Line
I hang out with old people. I am a young adolescent dog about 2 years old which transfers to 14 in people years. And my people are well over 8 dog years! But today on one of our ongoing field trips they were convinced they had found the answer to youthfulness and it was only 75 miles away and an admission ticket: The Fountain of Youth. So if you have the time travel to St. Augustine, Florida. Remember your history lesson about Ponce De Leon? He was the founder and governor of Puerto Rico who set sail from there in 1513 searching for the popular and legendary Fountain of Youth. Well he found it in the area of St. Augustine and you can even buy your very own bottle of water from this famous spring. Personally I thought it a bit cheesy as they passed out cups of water to each paid guest. You know the story of how Alice in Wonderland took a risk, drank out of a cup and look what happened to her! So yes, I was a bit worried taking a sip. But my people seemed hopeful that something wonderful would happen (like a miracle) to them as they sipped happily away. But I'd like to go on the record and say the taste seemed more like toilet water with so many different minerals in it!
Today I walked till I almost dropped. Each time a trolley car went by I looked longingly at it wishing I was on board for the ride. But no.. my people thinking this youth stuff was about to kick in had to do the whole town on foot and it was paws for me.
I posted some pictures and I wanted you to know I was well received everywhere till Castillo de San Marcos. I knew I was in trouble with the sign: NO Food No Drink No Pets. One of the workers sensing my disappointment offered me a biscuit and a bowl of water. It cheered me some but I hate being left behind.