Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summer Entertaining

Reality has limits
Imagination is boundless

Stuffed Tomato Chicken Salad
Cook's notes: Recently I was served this delicious summer plate for lunch. The presentation was wonderful. This meal would be quite easy to recreate. It is a very balanced meal.
  • large tomato
  • scoop of chicken salad with almonds or tuna salad
  • deviled egg
  • red grapes
  • orange slice 
  • red pepper slice 
  • roll
  • Bibb lettuce

  • Score tomato and cut open sections almost down to bottom of the tomato
  • Clean out inside of tomato and pat dry with paper towel

  • Fill with chicken or tuna salad and sprinkle with almonds
  • Arrange plate according to photo 

Citrus Salad with Poppy Seed Lemon Vinaigrette
Cook's notes: serves 4 and recipe adapted from Kimberly Schlapman People Magazine
August 4, 2013  
  • 2 Valencia oranges, segmented or sliced
  • 2 navel oranges, segmented or sliced
  • 1 ruby red grapefruit segmented or sliced 
  • 1 avocado sliced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 TB. honey
  • 1 TB. poppy seeds
  • salt, pepper
  • toasted coconut
  • 1 head Bibb lettuce or butter lettuce torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1/3 cup toasted, sliced almonds

  • In a large bowl toss first four ingredients together
  • In a blender mix lemon juice, olive oil, honey and poppy seeds
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Toss vinaigrette with fruit mixture
  • Divide lettuce among 4 plates
  • Top with fruit
  • Sprinkle with almonds and coconut 

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Kaleidoscope of Ideas

If you are a fan of mystery stories and Beatrix Potter you will enjoy Susan Wittig Albert's charming cottage tales. 
They are an eight book mystery series that follow the adventures of Beatrix Potter in England's Lake District.  The books are suitable reads for YA and adults. Each book is a stand alone and they do not have to be read in a certain order. 
Follow the link below for more information on each of these books. 


Bella wants you to know that her story An Intruder  recently was published in WWN Community newsletter.

Water and Garden Tour
You just never know what unusual things you might find in someones garden. Take for instance this ornamental bottle tree in a garden.
How about repurposing an old fashioned cradle to use as a fairy garden or

the hollow of a tree as a planter.
Fourteen homeowners offered inspirational ideas as they used their backyard spaces to create ponds, waterfalls and gardens.
 I learned that if you want to keep Koi fish all winter outside in the pond (and remember Minnesota has long, cold winters) you need to dig a hole at least 4-5 feet deep. In the fall these fish stop eating and become dormant till spring. I found it amazing these fish can survive all winter under the ice without food.

One backyard had a river landscape. This guest enjoyed the using the swing to fly out over the water.

The last stop on the tour had a table set out with coffee, homemade cookies and water. What a splendid way to end the afternoon! And I even managed to get a new cookie idea. Sorry no picture for this idea but the homeowner shared that her recipe was quite simple. Sugar cookies with added dried cranberries and white chocolate chips to batter. I must try this idea soon. They were quite delicious.  

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter (July 28, 1866-December 22, 1943)
English author, illustrator, natural scientist, conservationist
Beatrix Potter is best known for her books about Peter Rabbit and his friends.  The popularity of Potter's books are based on the lively qualities of her illustrations and the depiction of the rural English countryside. She wrote over 23 books.
Potter was born of a privileged family.The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first privately published in 1901. A year later it came out as a small book and was widely successful. With the proceeds of her book and a legacy from an aunt, Potter bought Hill Top Farm in the English Lake Country District. 
At the age of 47 she married William Heelis, a respected solicitor. Potter was also a prize-winning breeder of Herdwick sheep and a farmer keenly interested in land preservation.  She continued to write and illustrate till the duties of land management and failing eyesight made it difficult for her to continue. When she died she left almost all her property to a National Trust. Potter is credited with preservation of most of the land that now comprises the Lake District National Park.
Her home and the surrounding area is one of the top places on my "bucket list". 

“It is said that the effect of eating too much lettuce is 'soporific'” by Beatrix Potter
image of Benjamin Bunny nibbling lettuce

Melon Salad
Cook's notes: Even Peter Rabbit would approve of this salad made with fresh garden ingredients. 
recipe from BHG
  • 2 cups of cut up watermelon
  • 2 cups of cut up cantaloupe
  • 2 cups of cut up honey dew melon
  • 1 cup sliced cucumbers
  • romaine lettuce
  • optional cilantro
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 TB. white vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 3 TB. oil
  • 3 TB. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tsp sesame seeds toasted
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • In saucepan combine sugar, vinegar, salt and ginger
  • Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolved-remove from heat
  • Place in blender and slowly add oils to sugar mixture (in a thin steady stream)
  • Blend till thick stir in sesame seeds and pepper
  • Refrigerate till serving

Saturday, July 27, 2013

An Afternoon Break

and a plate of cookies.
Raisin Molasses Cookies
recipe supplied by Bob S.
  • 3/4 cup shortening(use a combination of softened butter and margarine)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup (Brer Rabbit) molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp.salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • Cream shortening and sugar. Add molasses and egg. Beat well
  • Sift flour, salt, baking soda,cinnamon, cloves and ginger
  • Mix dry ingredients with molasses mixture
  • Add in raisins and chill for several hours
  • Form into small balls and roll in sugar
  • Place on a cookie sheet and bake @375 8-10 minutes
Some book titles to add to your reading list
Eiffel's Tower by Jill Jonnes

With a recommendation like this from one reader Eiffel's Tower was put on my library request list. Fortunately, my wait was short to get the book. The history behind the iconic construction of the Eiffel Tower including the events and important people helped clarify this historical event in time. The book was detailed and quite informative. 

Here is what one reader said concerning the book...
It is one of the best books I've ever read.  Of course, every subject written about in the book interested me.  It's mostly about Gustave Eiffel and his tower which was built for the 1889 Paris Universal Exhibition, but it incorporates others things going on at that point in time and tying in with the Exhibition. There is  lots of information about Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show (which I've always been interested in so I learned great things about that). Also included was discussion about artists of that time frame including Van Gogh and his brother, Gauguin, and their contemporaries,the Herald newspaper of the time with branches in Paris and New York, Paris' relationship with America/England/other European countries, Thomas Edison and his new phonograph invention, etc.It was quite fascinating and covered a lot of territory.

Ordinary Grace is a  moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.
Krueger's newest murder mystery novel is a departure from his other books that centered on Detective Cork O'Conner's as the main character.
This story is narrated by Frank Drum who looks back some 40 years ago to that fateful summer when he was 13. It was 1961 and he lived in the small town of New Bremen, Mn. Four deaths occur that summer in the town. Many lives are impacted by the losses. Krueger's book is eloquently written and also deals with morality and spiritual issues.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Touring Delano, MN

Touring the city of Delano is a great way to spend a summer day. Delano is located 26 miles west of Minneapolis, MN. It is surrounded by a pastoral landscape that has rolling hills, wide open spaces with farms and horse ranches. The town itself has a population of about 5,400 residents with 11 churches, excellent public and private schools, several large recreation areas with parks, lakes and biking trails. There also is a vibrant artist community in the area. 

Reader Alert: I was so taken with the beauty of the town and the four stops we made throughout the day that I took some 87 pictures!  I tried to restrain myself as I composed this blog. 

The first stop was St. Peter's Catholic  Church. The structure is reminiscent of an old world cathedral in its neoclassical design and striking detail. 

We enjoyed hearing several compositions played on the piano.

One of the highlights of this tour for me was a visit to the home of Wally and Mary Ann Johnson at Idyll Acres. 
Here were gardens not to be missed. With over 275 varieties of hostas, over 40 varieties of iris and day lilies and many other stunning plants and woodland flowers it would be any photographer's dream to make a visit to the Johnson's house. 

As we approached the house the stunning displays of plants seem to unfold in every direction. 
The Johnsons were ready for us. And what a welcome they had for our group!

Yesterday's (July 24) Ever Ready blog posting was on repurposing items into garden planters. Well, the Johnsons brought that concept to a new level. Here are some of their creative DIY ideas.  
A wagon and a cart make attractive planters.

Creative use of an old sewing machine. 
Easy and inexpensive DIY project making a floor mat with rocks (use a rubber mat and adhere rocks to it).

The garden is an inspiration for a budding artist. 
This lady couldn't resist sitting "a spell" with a table all set for a garden tea.

Besides being a top notch gardener, Mary Ann is a potter.  She hand sculpted three totems by their front door. Each one had a different whimsical quality about it. This one was my favorite.
The second stop was lunch which is always an important part of any tour. It was at Apple Jack Orchard. I thought their signage was eye catching. Good way to use old tires.
And the last stop was wine tasting at a local winery called Woodland Hill. I could not pass up a purchase.

Exploring new places is an enjoyable way to spend a summer day.   

My only regret for the day was not having enough time to make a stop at the Peppermint Twist. It is a fun outdoor eating place for burgers, fries, shakes and cones. Peppermint Twist is a Back to the 50's drive-in where you drive through to pick up your food or order and have it served by car hops.  The restaurant also offers outdoor picnic tables, a dance floor and juke box and a play area called Teddy Bear Park.

Guess now I have another reason to return to Delano this summer for a visit. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Unique Garden Containers

It all started when I saw this unique way to repurpose an old colander into a hanging planter at my neighbor's house. She had seen it in a magazine.
Which then led me to thinking I could do the same with a few directions. So I found these easy "how to" ones. Check out this link for a very inexpensive DIY.
Here are some other ideas I came came across to think "outside the box" for garden planters.
How about this one for a creative use of an old car?
For unique garden planter inspiration look around your house. 

Just Peachy Sangria
Cook's notes: The longer the fruit sits in a pitcher the more flavorful it becomes. But do avoid adding so much fruit it could overpower the wine. I would suggest making the drink early in the day for late afternoon or evening serving.
recipe adapted from personalrecipes.com  
  • 1 bottle of white wine like sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio
  • 1 cup peach schnapps
  • 1/2 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 2 nectarines sliced or 2 peaches
  • 1 cup red or green grapes
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • some other fruit options include:orange, lemon or lime slices, firm strawberries
Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher. Cover and chill at least 2 hours

Meet Minnesota Author Barbara Saefke

NAC 2020 AUTHOR VIRTUAL TOUR MEET MINNESOTA AUTHOR BARBARA SAEFKE Barbara E. Saefke author Mystery and Romance Barbara...