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East Coast USA, United States
Lowcountry porch sitter. Appalachian Mountain lover. Finger Lakes dreamer.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ketchup covers everything, but we cook just the same

I marvel at the metamorphosis that I go through when my elderly father plans an extended stay in South Carolina. His company in later life is one I relish and know won't last forever.  What amazes me is how dramatically he shifts the consumption and preparation of food in our household during his visits.

Though I characterize myself as a home cook, I  average about three home cooked meals a week when not entertaining my father (can you say eat out often 3 times fast?).  That changes radically when my father is visiting the Palmetto State. My grocery experience slides into a daily routine and my kitchen time transitions to preparing three square meals a day. I don't get near the amount of work done when he's here that I'd like, but then work will always be there, my dad will not.

I've documented the routine staple foods his visits generate in this blog recently, click here.  But the humor is in the cooking.  Cooking three meals for a senior whose palate has withered away, whose diet lacks raw or anything remotely healthy, whose dark chocolate obsession rivals any woman I know and whose penchant for covering everything (and I mean everything) in ketchup brings horror to many onlookers.  Sidebar1: Ages ago I put away my horror of a delicate entree at a fine dining establishment embellished by my father with the red sauce.  In fact, I actually now order the bottle as a matter of routine before the meal arrives knowing it will make the entire experience far more smooth for staff as well as myself. Sidebar2: Food eccentricities are minor  compared to what dementia has robbed of the person I use to know.

Many times I try to take the occasion of dining with dad to introduce him to something new that he might enjoy even on his own.  There's been great success with hummus in the last several years thanks to his 80 year old Lebanese girlfriend. I don't even have to suggest it when we pass by the deli counter, he picks the container right up (always the original, no flavored version). And though I wouldn't consider it healthy, compared to the number of dark chocolate candy bars he was known for consuming in the past, a simple 1.25 oz portion of Philadelphia's Dark Chocolate Indulgence provides as much pleasure as the pudding cups I remember enjoying as a kid.

The ground rules for cooking for my father are pretty simple:  1) There can't be a great many ingredients in preparing a dish; 2) It has to be something he's agreed to try (mushrooms are always off limits); 3) Hot or cold if it can't be delivered in 30 minutes to the table we approach major break down mode (sound familiar to another stage in life?).  So we always have a starter of hummus (safe) and an adult beverage~his preferred drink: a single bottle of Miller High Life, mine a bourbon on the rocks~ both set the stage for some light conversation before the meal and to give the main course the time it needs beyond 30 minutes if necessary.

Sweet potato fries and salmon are now pushing up the list of simplistic dishes we can count on making two or three times during a visit. Thanks to Ina Garten and her Baked Sweet Potato Fries and Kraft for its Parmesan Baked Salmon recipe using crackers~crackers are always a big hit as long as it's not my gluten free variety, that's a bridge we haven't crossed successfully.  And neither, sweet potato and salmon, require a bath of ketchup to make the meal complete.

So when the electric bill arrives later next month and it's nearly doubled due to the increased use of  kitchen appliances (did I mention he never uses the same glass, plate, bowl or utensil twice?), I just smile knowing that all the while I've captured time with my dad that will remain forever memorable and will most certainly expand my horizons on eating.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

What's in a Name?

There's comfort in familiarity and a town where your name even in absence is not lost in the shuffle of time and place.

At one point in my Lowcountry life my occupation necessitated spending a great deal of time on Hilton Head Island and in that same period my name would have been characterized as recognizable by many.  It's been several years now.  My career as well as my name operate remotely and for the most part outside the spectrum of local pervue.  A radical shift from before but a profession possessing many of the appealing attributes found in self employment. The only drawback~a feeling of being disconnected to what transpires South of the Broad River Bridge. (Port Royal and Beaufort, SC are referred to as North of the Broad, Bluffton and Hilton Head Island as South of the Broad).

But true to the nature of the region's Southern hospitality any feeling of disconnection changed last week.  I had a meeting on Hilton Head Island and stopped to purchase gasoline at Island Tire (South End).  I prefer to use this location for gasoline for several reasons.  One, they are about the only location that maintains a full service as well as a self service option at the pumps.  (Face it, there are just some days, rainy ones included, when you just don't want to pump your own gas). Two, they have on more than one occasion provided superb service in the tire life of my 2004 vehicle. What made this particular stop significant was the simple act of inadvertently dropping a credit card after my purchase in the self service lane. But I'm getting ahead of the story because what really transpires is that I purchase gasoline, grab my receipt and proceed on to my next destination unaware that I'm missing anything.

Several hours beyond my gasoline purchase at Island Tire: I've eaten lunch at Plums in Bluffton, attended two meetings and find myself on the short drive to Savannah, Georgia to pick up my elderly father when I get a voice mail message from Debi Lynes of Lynes on Design and WHHI-TV's Girl Talk (a local HHI celeb and outstanding individual). "Ann Marie, it's Debi Lynes did you get gas at Island Tire today?" and in the same instant I get an inbox message from Debi via FaceBook (the beauty of social media) "Ann-Marie they have your credit card at Island Tire."  Naturally, my initial reaction is appreciation that a good Samartin found my credit card and turned it in and that I'd not fallen victim to some malcontent.  I do wonder at this point how Debi Lynes factors into the equation of finding my card, but thankful she offered her assistance.  I call Island Tire, confirm that my credit card is there and thank the other person on the line (Jackie) for holding it until I can return to pick it up several hours later.

So here's what happened in the several hours after I had dropped my credit card: Jackie, the bookeeper at Island Tire pulls up to the self service pump and finds the card, the name on the card is recognized in terms of my former role with a nonprofit organization on the island, Jackie calls the nonprofit, doesn't find me there nor is provided information helpful to locating me.  In the mean time, Debi Lynes pulls into the station to purchase gasoline and the attendant thinks to himself (on a lark) maybe Debi knows how to find this person for Jackie and proceeds to ask if Debi knows the owner of the credit card (me) to which she replies "I do and I have her number in my cell phone!"

Just when you think you've lost connectivity the universe creates ways to link you in meaningful ways.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Devoted to a Box of Shredded Wheat

When an elder parent lives with or spends a good portion of time in your household there are some grocery items one must stock in the pantry despite the fact one may never personally consume these products.

In my case that's a bottle of prune juice, a box of Zesta Originals (never a knock off version of saltines) and a big box of Post Shredded Wheat Bicuits (not Wheaties).  And when the visitation is over there's the "remainder effect"~the product either takes up space and goes out of date in the pantry or refrigerator. I've spent a good portion of the last three years re-configuring these three products (prune juice, saltines, and biscuits) using recipes found on the internet or via Pinterest.  The saltines are a staple I allow to linger in the sundry cabinet as they possess a great many redeeming attributes for conversion into other recipes.  The prune juice usually becomes a spiked alcoholic beverage for inclusion in other concoctions or used Polly Anna style to sweeten smoothies or made into plumy ice cubes for future use. The  biscuits, however, are a wholly different scenario.   I'm not a cereal eater at any hour of the day...breakfast, lunch or dinner. Conversion is the only option.

For the conversion I utilize a recipe from Nigella Lawson for a Lazy Loaf that I featured on this blog in 2011, replace the muesli that is called for in this recipe with two shredded wheat biscuits crumbled and add four tablespoons of unsweetened applesauce.  I've also converted the biscuits using the Kansas Wheat Commission's version of Shredded Wheat Bread that adds an egg and brown sugar.  Either loaf is worth a slice.

Favorite foods, we stock them, prepare them, drive out of our way for them and shower our loved ones with them. Devoted from start (stocking) to finish (reconfiguring).

Friday, November 23, 2012

Attaching a Tradition in Different Ways

I recently reminded a friend that the individuals and occasions we consider holiest to holidays must at times shift their emphasis from some past rendition to a currently relevant condition. 

Thanksgiving has as much a certainly historic point of view for those of us in the United States as it does a familial focus.  For me, the holiday is those things, but also a symbolic calendar notation of when my family tree grew to create me.  My parents were married on Thanksgiving Day some fifty odd years ago and no matter where I find myself in life, my thoughts turn to my parents and their union this particular day.  A day when two families gathered to celebrate a union, but also to enjoy a very large traditional holiday meal. Obviously I was not there, but there are photos capturing the essence of what transpired, just as all wedding photography tends to do in making a moment linger into perpetuity. 

Some years we were able to celebrate this Thanksgiving/ Anniversary together as a family, some years we were not.   The later more true after my mother passed away. If I was honest with myself we'd not found a way to reconfigure ourselves as a family successfully after my sister died just ten years prior. So in some ways the familial Anniversary/Thanksgiving I cling to so reverently is but a fading memory of what I wished it to be, the original two plus their offspring, under different circumstances and all in good health. 

However sad that may sound it actually has provided a leaping point to establish new  traditions over the years that incorporate many outside the familial bloodline.  Thanksgiving is more about friendships and the family-like structure they provide when your own is disconnected or deconstructed.  David Brooks, New York Times Op-Ed columnist expressed it best in a recent column The Age of Possibility, "We are inevitably entering a world in which more people search for different ways to attach." I would add to Mr. Brooks well crafted words, that attachment may for some not come from a mind set of keeping their options open, but from a strong desire to resemble what they hold dear.

So I gathered with friends at Thanksgiving with my cranberry sauce contributions: 1) Mingled (cutie oranges, blueberries, craisins~dried cranberries, Agave syrup, Cointreau and cardamon); 2 & 3) Homemade berry relish and jellied (prepared from a grocer fresh berry bag, mashed and strained); as well as 4) Ocean Spray's canned.  A single Thanksgiving side dish prepared in multiple ways intended to appeal to an assortment of personal desires.  In other words, multiple options to attain that singular cranberry sensation.  

Thankful for attaching in meaningful ways.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Craft Beer Pairing, The Lodge/Wise Guys

I've been to many craft beer and food pairings in our market over the last five years.  And I have enjoyed each one them, but I have to give a loud applause to Chef Clayton of Wise Guys, Hilton Head and Orchid Paulmeier of The Lodge, Hilton Head for delivering what I consider the all time BEST menu pairing of beer and food.  The offerings accented the flavors of the food (some of which were enriched with craft beer) while at the same time complimenting the attributes of the beer.

3 stand out pairings in a 5 course offering...

Spicy Greens with Victory Whirlwind Mustard Vinaigrette with Smoked Pork Belly Croutons and a Fried Egg
Paired with Lazy Magnolia Pecan Brown Ale

Hot Asian Pork Tureen in Steamed Buns with Jicama & Carrot Slaw
Paired with Victory Hop Devil

Porchetta with Reasy Peasy (Carolina Gold Midlands & Sea Island Red Peas) and Stone Arrogant Bastard Collard Greens.
Paired with Stone Smoked Porter

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Body Double at a Wine Tasting

Once in a while I get lucky.  That was never truer than this past Monday when a good friend rang me up to say she had the flu and that she needed a "body double" to stand in for her at a local wine dinner.  Essentially I was being asked to attend the event with her husband because she was sick and wouldn't be able to taste the wines.  (I was sorry to hear she was feeling poorly, but I may have in my own elation on the prospect of attending fail to tell her that in the course of the conversation. I'll be sure to mention that in my follow up note to thank her!)

Needless to say in a small town such a switch up could create quite the buzz, but when it comes to my "standing in" at a wine, beer, or liquor pairing dinner no one's going to question the logic behind that call (I'm the right gal for the job).  I was requested to arrive promptly at 7:00 o'clock for the occasion held at Saltus River Grill in Beaufort, SC and told that my "date" would meet me there.  It is important to note that I didn't even ask what wines were being poured.  First of all, the restaurant rallies beautifully with a new executive chef so the food is going to be divine and second, this friend would never lead me astray, especially when it comes to wine from California.  It is appropriate for me to point out that the spouse of my requester is also truly entertaining, knowledgeable about wines and fun to hang out with (just like his wife)!

I arrive 15 minutes early and watch as the obvious couples attending the dinner make their way toward the seating area designated for the wine tasting.  At this point I'm solo, standing out like a sore thumb waiting for my "other half" to arrive. The house wine buyer does everything she can to ignore me standing there. She loathes me, is most likely confounded by my presence as I don't appear on her guest list...she goes out of her way to simply cast aside my presence, but I'm not deterred. I eventually present myself as a substitute for one member of the Jenkins party to which she seemed to take a deep sigh of reluctance. Lucky for me the winery representative notes that I've not been introduced to her as the other couples had been and quickly makes her way to me as I join the group (I immediately like my new friend, Tracy Smith, Marketing Wine Club Manager from Terra Valentine Winery, Napa, California, but later in the evening when I learned she was 27 years old doing what she loved for a living I fell in love with her).  Several minutes go by, still no date, the house wine buyer now irritated because my better half's late arrival implies holding up a timely start to the occasion, "When will "he" be arriving?" she asks. Noting her irritation I indicate it would be alright to pour the first wine without him.  At this stage I just want the first wine poured so I can get past this awkward solo moment and the disdain seething from the wine buyer.

And no sooner did the first wine go down, my date arrives. The courses flowed with exquisite service throughout the evening.  A first course crab bisque with the Sauvignon Blanc was perfect.  My favorite course, the second, a skillet browned crab cake, house-made chow chow, pickled mustard, chives and buerre blanc paired with a lovely Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and a Cab Franc. The entree course a sirloin cooked sous vide and wood grilled, creamed spinach, truffle parmesan pomme frites, natural demi glaze paired with two lovely Cabernet Sauvignons, Spring Mountain and a Yverdon.  Memorable, best word to describe what I mention here, both the wine and the food, but also the people who sat in close proximity.

That's the thing about wine tastings, no one's a stranger by the time its all over, wine being the elixir for merriment, but also the common denominator for discussion (no small talk in other words). No luck needed.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Rewriting Background Noise, Lowcountry Produce Market & Cafe

Hum & Sizzle of a Busy Night
Back: Victor Varner & Fellow Musicians
Front: A very intriguing story
Lowcountry Produce Market & Cafe
Background noise in some incidents may be defined as a necessary physical element inserted into time. Much like the five physical elements of the environment~Air, Flora/Fauna, Soil, Solar Energy, and Water~it resides in a moment to create harmony. 

It may be a favorite iTunes playlist, the topical stimulus of a cable television show, the rotations of an oscillating fan in motion, the purr of a kitten or slumbering cat, the home fountain mimicking a trickling brook or cascading water fall, the hum or sizzle of a restaurant hive on a busy night, the air pressure stream of a CPAP machine or perhaps even the giggles of children playing over a baby monitor.

No matter the source we each have a tendency to fill air space with noise either on an intermittent basis or for an extended period of time. Individual preference dictates the application. The net result the same, when inserted one finds accord with the world around them.

I happen to apply it every waking hour. Don't get me wrong, silence cut by mother nature's hiccups, birds singing, insects clicking, frogs chirping, wind whipping, tidal water lapping, rain falling, it is ALL all right by me.  

My first recollection in the application of background noise was in college with a floor style oscillating fan to drown out the high pitch craze of my sorority suite mates in the wee hours of the morning.  The next, an occupational hazard of working in government affairs where CSPAN prevailed as king of the airwaves.  After that, a sequence of partners each with their respective snoring and sleep apnea disorders claiming the overnight hours. 

Fast forward to present day where National Public Radio with its wide variety of programming fills the space once dominated by legislative affairs, the evening hours are now shared in the comforting hum of a regular stint at a local restaurant where the music is grand, the conversations always aflutter, and the visual cues aplenty...and those delightfully quiet overnight shared with starry nights, prophetic dreams, pond frogs, a snoring dog and two resident felines.  

Background noise has slid into the role of a treasured constant companion.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wine Tasting, Plums Restaurant Bluffton

Found the time to slip over to Bluffton for an early hour wine tasting hosted by Plums Restaurant, featuring several of the wines in the portfolio of Advintage South Carolina.  

Wine Tasting, Plums Restaurant 10/22
I've always enjoyed Advintage's portfolio of product (wine and craft beer) as the company continues to represent an outstanding portfolio of boutique offerings, little known wineries and brewers (to me anyway) and foreign made brands (that I'd never discover on my own).  Add to that, the fact that the Advintage corporate culture oozes fresh insight much like the youthfulness of its demeanor.  Something about that, against the back drop of larger companies, just immediately earns my respect.  

What made this tasting unique is that these wines are featured in three venues run by the same restaurant group, Plums, Beaufort; Plums, Bluffton; and Saltus River Grill, Beaufort. Celia Strong (Bill's Liquor's & Fine Wines) who orders the wine for all three businesses poured for the tasting. The ten wine offering included: Urban Riesling, Alverdi Pinot Gris, Eidosela Albarino, Catena Tahuan Malbec, Peirano Merlot, The Guilty Shiraz, Simple Life Chardonnay, The Prisoner, Rombauer Chardonnay, Milton Park Shiraz. (I tweeted some comments during the tasting, you can check out that feed over at @HHI_FandB if inclined)

The Guilty, Vine Street Imports
Three wines (all reasonably priced) could very well make their way to my holiday table this year.  The three:  Urban Riesling (Germany), Catena Tahuan Malbec (Argentina), The Guilty Shiraz (Australia).  The last being my favorite of the evening. This post lacks food pairing notes.  Yes, that is indeed the case. The price to taste was reasonable and the event not promoted as a pairing function; thus, only a light nosh was provided to taste along with these wines.  I have no doubt that when next I dine at Plums or Saltus I'll find that perfecting pairing from their menus to accompany the luscious shiraz.  Or with my brisket at Christmas.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Women of the Round Table and Lemon Chutney

Single sex venues, the purposeful ones like sororities, all girl schools and colleges, garden clubs, and service groups have always intrigued me.  My interest probably dates back to my grandmother's active role in her local women's garden club, the YWCA, and statewide beauty pageants.  I joined a sorority in college mainly out of deference to her and my mother's insistence that it would be character building (and it was just that and an extremely positive experience that sustains many life long friendships today).

Save my twice monthly women writers group of ten people it had been quite some time since I participated in an all female function of great magnitude (200+ people). That changed last month.  I had the occasion to attend an all ladies forum to grab a quick photograph of a friend during a lunch time delivery of a key note address.  The occasion was a quarterly meeting of a women's group on Hilton Head Island (WAHHI) where local celebrity Orchid Paulmeier had been asked to provide remarks on her life, family, work and post Food Network Challenge Season 7 experience. All I needed to do was capture one photo with my iPhone. That was the sole purpose for my attending, but what came of that experience was something far more rich in texture than a picture taken for distribution via social media.

My immediate thought was to simply stand at the back of the room, snap the photo as Orchid's story unfolded at the podium and bail.  But that was not the way it was to be.  Upon arrival I was informed that the group would dine first and that the speaking part of the agenda would follow. I'm sure I sighed out loud at this news as it meant I'd be spending most of my time hanging in a lobby of a hotel known for its extremely decrepit WiFi service waiting for an opportunity to capture this single shot.  But that was not the way it was to be either.  A member of the group informed me that I would be joining the luncheon as a late notice from another member had left an empty seat at one of the tables and that it would be their pleasure to seat me as their guest.  I may have sighed out loud on that note as the reality had now set in that the rest of the day's plans would shift forward by a couple of hours.  It's not that I'm inflexible in shifting the course of my day nor that I was in any way opposed to attending, it's just that I had a window of time to take advantage of dog day care and several other meetings I'd planned this particular day.  All of which were remedied with several quick cell phone calls.

So, I was directed to seat myself at table 7. I note upon approach that the ladies at this table were fifteen plus years my senior so I immediately knew the conversation would be enlightening (rather I would have a chance at some positive dialogue with them as I fail miserably in settings where the conversation is dominated by kids and clothing)...I immediately went for the comical approach of sitting myself in the obvious empty chair at the table saying "Hello, I'm Ann-Marie Adams, the stand in for "Jane Doe," thank you for including me at your table." I was fortunate that the women who flanked either side of me took the responsibility to introduce me around the table to those nearest them and to seeing to it that I was engaged in the conversations around the table throughout the course of the meal.  Which leads me to this post.

Because no conversation with me excludes the discussion of food...I cover every imaginable angle of food...favorite local restaurants on Hilton Head, recipes, the food served at the luncheon, etc...all within the first thirty minutes of sitting at the table and somewhere along the way the woman sitting next to me (a former independent book store owner, whom I fell in deep like with immediately for her quick reference of book titles and clear recognition of several of the contemporary works I had the occasion to read) mentions that she and one of the other women at the table had enjoyed consuming a lemon chutney they'd made the year before.

Chutney, one of those amazing components that accentuates everything that it is paired with.  I lean toward the savory of spreads in my palate of preferences and the simplest difference between jam and jelly is that it tends to be savory in nature (that and vinegar).  I immediately request the recipe and she indicates she'll mail it to me.  By this point between the lively discussion and the promise of a chutney recipe I'd almost forgotten my purpose in presence at this gathering. Needless to say I secured the shot and was energized by the solidarity I'd experienced with these women (no longer strangers).

Seven days later the recipe arrives.  A photocopy of a recipe accompanied by a hand written note. The Lemon Chutney recipe hails from Laurie Colwin's book More Home Cooking in a section titled The Glory of Chutney. I scan the recipe and immediately note that the preparation seems very much like canning...reminding myself  approaching this chutney recipe would go well as my previous canning adventures have not always met with great success.   So the chutney gets made and then put away to rest for about a month or two to ripen.  I've already plotted it's first uses...with baked salmon, spread across toast points with cream cheese, and served with cottage cheese pancakes.

A round table of engaging women and a recipe in hand, some might say I'm rich indeed. I'd say the universe created a moment that continues to reap rewards.  That lemon chutney will make it to the table for the holidays, be given away as gifts and no doubt be copied again for some other endeavoring foodie.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Food Art, Maggie's Pub & Eatery

A remarkable evening at Maggies Pub & Eatery located in the serene setting of  Habersham.  Chef Richard Wilson and the restaurant team are tremendous hosts when celebrations call for fine food, friends and tunes on a Wednesday evening! A few courses to tease your palate...
Wasabi Peas & Carrot Foam

Quail Egg, Arugula, Ginger Saffron Cream

Smoked Caprese Salad

Sunday, October 7, 2012

No Longer Bewildered by Fennel

I can recall the first time I tasted fennel.  It was served in a private home in Montreal, Canada during what I can only describe as an extravagant Sicilian meal.

The hostess served raw slices on platters as an intermezzo between two courses of a nine course meal. My unsophisticated palate at the time initially mistook the white slices as onion and thought the platters were perhaps an accompaniment for a dish to follow.  As diners at the gathering began to serve themselves I quickly realized this is either a custom I'm going to have to enjoy for the sake of  my host or these white slices are something other than a white onion. Now having been raised in a simple home of Southern heritage I had seen my grandmother eat a raw onion to fend of some variety of ailment, but never for the pleasure of dining. The gentleman sitting to my left was quick to ascertain my hesitation and as he reached for the platter he whispered over my shoulder "it's raw fennel, it's good, tastes like licorice." As I exhaled my relief I garnished a few slices and delighted in the texture and flavor of the intermezzo.  Thus began my love affair with fennel.

I bought a fennel bulb from our local year round farmers market this week and set my sights on pairing it with a sweet onion I scored earlier from a local from the land~ranks right up there with sea shells collected along our shores as treasured commodities. I've sliced and sauteed fennel many times since my first encounter, but I found a recipe that called for browning to caramelize that I wanted to try. Simple recipe from Simply Recipes (via Pinterest): butter, olive oil, fennel and onion, salt and later dressed with fresh parsley, lemon and grated Parmesan.

It's all about the brown bits in this recipe, as is the case anytime one browns with butter. I took a Slowcountry route with this recipe (as recommended) and allowed for an additional thirty minute extension to the initial cooking time. The result, a lovely dish that can stand alone or find itself reconfigured for many additional pleasures~tucked inside tarts, spread across toast points, tossed with pasta, etc.

From a moment of bewilderment to a comprehensive appreciation for a flavor point that delivers itself raw or browned to perfection. Never boring.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Leisure Settings and Sipping

One of my greatest pleasures in life was to spend some work related time in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The experience so grand that I ventured back to Holland in my personal travel, spending a great deal of time in Utrecht with friends.

The people, food, and lifestyle of the country simply relaxing, green (literally and figuratively), filled with water recreation, artistic and cultural diversity and divinely blessed with beautiful citizens inside and out.  Much of what one "likes" when visiting a place is for what one can find to do there, but I would also add "for what one can NOT do there."  That is, the art of living a moment unencumbered. A moment enjoyed just long enough to have escaped a routine or relished briefly as an interlude far and away from more taxing times of the day.

I found ample space in my itinerary among the Dutch for ventures to the cafes to sip on hot beverages~and consume an inordinate amount of stroopwaffles.  To this day, one of my all time favorite simple pleasures in life is to enjoy leisure moments sipping. That simple act, sipping, may transpire alone, with a good read or a friend in deep conversation.  Cold or hot, sipping is my leisure habit of choice.

There was a point in my coastal life when "cafe time" was a simple two block walk away from my home office.  During that time I found a place to collect my thoughts, share space with others and become an active participant in a subset of my local community. Sadly that local coffee house closed and has yet to be replaced (there are two delightful coffee shops~City Java and Common Ground available in nearby Beaufort, but require a little more effort than a stroll down the block). Thus, from there grew my house made adventures in concoctions of all sorts.

House made Chai or more descriptively spiced milk tea has become my afternoon escape in the absence of my local coffee shop. I have experimented with a wide variety of recipes (and trust me when I say many abound across the internet~varying slightly in the components, i.e., the type of tea, the spice inclusions and/or the choice of sweetener). But my preferred version at this time continues to be an Epicurious version of Masala Chai that includes white peppercorns and fennel seeds.

Travel to escape or visit other climes continues to appeal, but sipping never goes asunder at home in a locale that abounds with many an unencumbered moment.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Just a Little Writing Prompt

Fall brings cooler temperatures and a host of festivals sure to appeal to a great many people near and far. One rarely needs to spend time in their Lowcountry kitchens with all that transpires in our back yard this time of year (I am the proverbial broken record year after year in this regard so what you gain here is my reaffirmation that we continue to ebb and flow here in the Lowcountry).

It was a busy weekend with Short Story America's (SSA) first annual conference and festival, Hilton Head Island's annual Italian Festival , the Town of Port Royal's last street music concert of the season and my psuedo brother Andrew's band Black Tusk's 7-inch release in Savannah. In other words, little time was spent in the kitchen. So I'm throwing a curve ball of sorts from my usual story wrapped around food to post an exercise from one of the writing workshops I attended during my SSA experience this past weekend.  Beaufort author Katherine Tandy Brown in her workshop "Plant a Seed Start a Story" enabled many of us to understand that a healthy stream of consciousness, given the opportunity to flow, is fertile ground for content.

Five minutes with a writing prompt, no corrections, no strikeouts, pen and/or key strokes in constant motion and certainly never ever any self doubt.

The writing prompt "Looking through the key hole..."

Through the keyhole I was shocked to see my neighbor embracing  the stranger we'd seen earlier in the day. The one who kept to himself at the gallery, that dined alone in the cafe and then spied later catching the afternoon bus.  What mattered more in this instance was the manner in which my neighbor's tears flowed forward while wrapped in the arms of this stranger. She never let on to her grief, not to her neighbors, not even her priest. Yet here she was utterly weeping and allowing the stranger to comfort her, caress her cheek. What is the relationship they share? By the looks of things they aren't complete strangers.  We all know the volley of emotion that erupts when the right words spoken by the right person brings us quickly to a moment of recognition.  The recognition of our fragility in the face of what is real.  And this moment was real. Who is this person that held the key to my neighbor's grief?

I know that when my romance novelist friend Karen Hawkins reads this post she will be amused that given the key hole prompt that I lassoed my thoughts rather close to her genre of writing. But trust me I fell back on my usual trend of humor when given the writing prompt of "sweaty palms."

The forum was set in a university setting where many a politician was expected to appear.  The topic dear to my heart, but greater was my interest in meeting U.S. Representative Claude Pepper. I never expected to get close enough to shake hands with the man, but I did.  He was everything in an instant that I expected him to be. Kind, charismatic, thoughtful, the consummate politician with a flare for engaging his public. And with that opportunity standing next to him was the young politician from Tennessee, Al Gore. Protocol necessitated that I also reach out to shake the hand of the man from my home state. So I plastered on a continuous smile and reached out my hand and that is when I met my first sweaty palm hand shake. Squeamish ick would be the best way to describe it and sliding away from it none too easy.  The nicest of men from my home state had clasped my hand with both his hands. Oh no I thought to myself, less concerned now about the hand shake and more about what my face would reveal during this momentary panic of being embraced by a sweaty palm hand shake. Then out of the corner of my eye I see the elder statesman reach in his pocket and pull out a handkerchief....

This one I might have to finish.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dining on the lane in White City

Step back in time or look around in your own backyard today and one finds that which was true then (in the past) very much resembles where the world seems to reside today.  A time when vibrant communities were synonymous with many people persevering through hard times, but living on the cusp of brighter futures to come.

A time when a large house at the end of a road served as the flagship to a visibly thriving community while at the same time offering a place to gather, dine and live.  My great grandmother's boarding house at the end of Yadkin Street (known as the The Lodge in White City) in what was then referred to as Model City may, for some onlookers today, simply resemble a group of white houses situated consecutively along several blocks in Kingsport, Tennessee.  However, in reality the neighborhood is a living testament to what really counts among people living in communion.

I had the opportunity to join the residents of Yadkin Street for a modern day "White City Reunion." There were children playing in a grassy green common area, adults congregating along driveways to chat and house tours for the merely curious.  Clearly an interloper walking into this scene would immediately understand that the aspect of living that this neighborly environment had retained over the years is the ability for the residents (in this two-block radius) to celebrate themselves and those that once resided there. In attendance at the occasion were several generations of families, neighbors who had moved away, boarders who had lived at The Lodge and my father and I connected by family affiliation. The stories that dominated the day were about the boarding house.  Who lived there, when they lived there, what they would find to eat there, what happened there at a specific point in time, and the old lady who ruled the property with an iron fist (my great grandmother).

Imagine if you will a woman and her family lured to a town revolving around the business acumen of George Eastman to operate a boarding house where the company's young single executives would live. And that property just happened to be part of a development that was characterized as "designed for the workman with the idea that every worker in the city could own their own home." There's no imagination needed to garner the fact that my great grandmother was a woman wise to the opportunistic fortune with which she found herself ~at least that's what I'm led to believe. And believe it or not this post is about the food one finds in such a quaint little collective of Americana.

This was a reunion.  A reunion with a central activity of dining in the midst of the fun and frolic planned for the day, but no pot luck and given the familial nature no alcohol~save the adult beverages that may have been sipped in the privacy of some homes or cleverly disguised in a solo cup.  I really can't say that with great certainty, but that's how I would have consumed something not offered for general consumption.

The meal of barbecue and side dishes was spread out along a buffet line. And though that may sound rather ordinary it was not, because of the very nature of the gathering, but also because of one specific food dish (and maybe the banana pudding). What stood out along this long smorgasbord of options was a delightfully layered dish of Cornbread Salad. Something new to me, but apparently rather common to those in attendance as many were amused at my glee to eat this dish.  There are a ton of recipes offered online with only subtle differences in the ingredients that are used to prepare the dish.

It's those subtle differences that bring me back around to my point in telling this story of a neighborhood.  That is, a physical place may shift and bend with the changing times and trends, but the essence of what makes it wholly a place to return to remains the same~a place one can always call home even after being pulled away by life.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Unflappable Wings

We all have our preferences when it comes to food. Hot, cold, spicy, sweet, easy, or complex.  The one thing we might all agree on is the unflappable nature of certain recipes to deliver the foods we love consistently.  Much like our closest friendships, no matter the era or fashion these recipes stand the test of time to appeal across the ages.

I include such food items as wings, meatloaf, mac & cheese, brisket, cherry pie and fried chicken in this category of food. I had a small gathering of friends to precede another evening activity this past week and wanted to serve simple pick up food that was light but long on flavor.  I elected to serve an assortment of crostini (avocado, peach and salmon) and chicken wings.  Yes, chicken wings. I relish eating with my hands and my frequent guests have learned to expect the same decorum, but I'm not without care I keep utensils close by for those who simply can't partake.

I have a favorite wing recipe from Nigella Lawson that fits in this category of recipe. Actually its a recipe for Maple Chicken 'N' Ribs that I deliver as prepared or simply as wings.  It's a simple prep of ingredients, an overnight marinade and a bake off in the oven. I rarely ever venture beyond this tried and true favorite, but a feature "The wine beneath my wings" in the dining section of Hilton Head Monthly called "Big Tastes from a Small Island" lured me to consider a couple new wing options: Chili Garlic and Orange Chipotle Glazed.  Now the simplicity of Nigella's maple version still reins supreme, but these new additions make for a perfect trio offering at future gatherings.

Like new friends that fold into one's circle of pals with ease, these wings will please.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

HodgePodge Vol. 88

1. In an effort to fight obesity, the mayor of NYC has plans to ban large sugary drinks, initially in restaurants, movie theatres, and street carts. Corner stores would also be effected if they are defined as food establishments. Your thoughts?
Any attempt to focus the populous on a healthier lifestyle should be applauded, but like most things that become regulated those that seek to "buck the system" will find the means to do so legally or illegally. I feel just a tad bit disappointed that a teachable or educational moment will get lost in the "ban." However, can an insular environment enact an edict on living and hope to succeed, indeed it has and it just might expand.
(do you think the character Abby from NCIS and her addiction to the Big Gulp will shift focus in support? Luckily the series portrays itself in DC rather than NYC)

2. Art festival, music festival, food festival...which would you most want to attend?
Hands down food festival, but luckily many promoters and producers have found that music lovers are just as willing to pluck down dollars for concert tickets as they are food and have blended those elements to great success.  My next festival stops include the Savannah Craft Brew Festival, Bristol Rhythm and Roots Festival and the ultimate blend of music and food Music to Your Mouth.

3. What are you irrational about?
I am irrational about being called beautiful or pretty.  I totally appreciate the sentiment, don't get me wrong, but my immediate internal reaction when these words are directed my way in conversation or at some article of clothing/jewelry or my hair ~ it leads me to scream (again internally) "I have a brain!"  Society is built around so much pleasantry, especially living in the south, that I wonder how such terms from my viewpoint could casually fall into meaningless prose and simply applied to fill space.  I want there always to be something meaningful to be said.  Over time I've learned to simply smile "grin and bare it." But there are those rare occasions when I can't resist this reply "You should see what my brain looks like" (which usually leaves the other party dumbfounded).

4. Do you feel confident that you will have a comfortable retirement?
I feel confident that I will continue to work in some profession as long as my body and mind provide the ability. I believe "retirement" for many no longer resembles what some have enjoyed.

5. What has been your favorite Olympic moment so far? (2012 games)
Synchronized swimming. The Russian duet team and their music selection to win the gold! Priceless!

6. What would you label as the messiest room in your house?
At this very moment that goes to the laundry room with an overflowing laundry basket and a much need to be cleaned litter box.  Closing the doors no longer hides the volume of dirty clothes that has accumulated or the musty smell of dirt, sweat, and cat poop~and we're well past spraying the airfreshner to do any good.  Admittedly I'm mortified.

7. Do you follow your heart or your head?
I follow the heart always listening to my head.  And sometimes the head wins, but not after a well carved out debate from the heart on the merit of proceeding forward knowing full well the outcome may not serve the heart well, but having the experience a far richer endeavor long term.

8. I was curious when a recent article by J. Bryan Lowder indicated one should read Gore Vidal's 1981 essay "Some Jews & The Gays." So I read it and agree with Lowder in that we should target the "dehumanizing paradigm." Lowder's powerful statement in his article rings true "...the core act of violence that Vidal identified three decades ago remains in play: Homosexuals are still an impersonal blob, a curious social aberration, an issue to be discussed, analyzed, diagnosed, voted on and used to sell chicken sandwiches with pickles~but never respected as a community of thinking, feeling individuals."

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Simplicity and Soy Glazed Mushrooms

Soy Glazed Mushrooms
We are reminded in the constant evolution of our lives that simplicity is a far better virtue.  Many of us attempt to keep our lives simple, our relationships plain, our households uncluttered and our food unprocessed and in our very attempt to achieve simplicity we retain a great deal of richness. A richness we're hard pressed to cling to when the very thought of not sustaining it enters into possibility.

Like many I have embraced the simplicity of scanning a select group of foodies on Pinterest to locate and repin a recipe that I might like to recreate later (along with quotes, books, reading tools, letters of the alphabet, storytellers). I still relish a Sunday morning thumbing through my hardbound cookbooks, but sometimes I like to lean on my peers to steer the course of the day. Today that course was a simple no nonsense side dish of Soy Glazed Mushrooms.  I needed only to purchase fresh mushrooms at our local farmers market as the rest of the ingredients were items I keep on hand for any occasion ~ which made for an easy decision to prepare this dish. In under ten minutes with a handful of ingredients I prepared something rich in taste that will be repeated and cataloged as a "go to" dish for entertaining.

Here's the interesting note on simplicity that one can not overlook...just because it is presented as simple does not imply that delivery will be dull or that the overall package will lack complexity~whether through the experience of living or the recommendation of fellow foodies simplicity is far more rich than anyone can imagine.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hot Chocolate in July
Ginger Hot Chocolate 
There are times when out-of-season experiences make their way to present day existence. The crisp cool air, camp fires and comfy sweaters that typically accompany the fourth quarter months of the calendar make it ever more attractive to wrap one's hands around a steaming hot mug of something.  However, there are moments when cooler climates aren't necessary to conjure up an experience. 

That liquid “something” paired with the act of “wrapping” directly correlates with a desire to find comfort in a moment.  The act of consumption is the moment. The vessel is the target of an enveloping embrace and the content of the vessel is intended to warm the human spirit.

Chocolate with its sensual and medicinal qualities changes lives no matter the rendition of its character, but in this instance one should visualize the same spicy Mayan delicacy the character Vianne poured for her customers in the movie Chocolat where the mere consumption of the beverage set each individual on a path of relaxation bound for joy.

That about sets the comfort zone for most of us seeking to wrap ourselves in the moment, but rarely is hot chocolate a solo experience. Marshmallows rank high on the pleasure list of pairing possibilities followed immediately by crème fraiche and whipped cream. The cool light flotation of sweetness served atop the warm smooth dark essence of chocolate is visually appealing, but also renders a lovely notation beyond the eyes.  In fact, each of these delicately whipped plumes of white are the yang to the yin of chocolate.  Add to that perfect pairing a dusting of nutmeg, cinnamon or cayenne and one truly can create comfort in a moment.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sundays, Summer Fun and Left Over Brisket

Summertime is always a precarious time of year, but in a good way...between the opportunity to hit the outdoors, friends visiting during their summer vacations, and way too many unique seasonal offerings in the local restaurants my kitchen blog posts have gotten shuffled into a pile of "need to post at some point" material.  I'm diving down into three weeks of material to extract a really great recipe for Brisket.  I realize its not the usual summer fare you think of, unless you are cooking it on the grill of course, but I happen to love "oven made" brisket.  The Pioneer Woman says it best when it comes to brisket "have a talk with yourself about patience."  Indeed, this is another one of those low and slow routines that will be worth the wait.  I've made a recipe similar to the one posted here by the Pioneer Woman, but this time around I wanted something a little different and found a Tyler Florence recipe for Beef Brisket  that had an element of green to it.  I changed it up a bit by trading out what is surely a delicious "rosemary rub" for a pre-mix product from Salt Sisters called Tuscan Farmhouse Blend ...I had it on hand, wanted to use it and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. I prefer my initial cuts of meat to follow the grain of the beer (quirky, but true) and then any left over brisket gets sliced against the grain.  A green salad, bread sticks and spicy pickles created a perfect counter of food.  And the left over meat...found its way to sandwiches, barley soup and reheats the following week.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

HodgePodge Vol. 83

1. What do the words liberty and freedom mean to you? Does your mind go more in the direction of not being persecuted or discriminated against or does head in the direction of doing what you please?
Would most days blend these together to frame around gratefulness to have the liberty and freedom to just "be" regardless of where and how "being" transpired.  However my thoughts turn to a quote that my father has hanging in his kitchen window, who in his way sets the tone for how he feels about country and growing older. The pic says it all I think.

2. Nathan's sponsors a hot dog eating contest every 4th of July. Last year over 40,000 people attended the event and over 2 million watched it on TV. The winner ate over 60 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. How do you like your hot dogs?
Have to say I like them every which way, but most days give me a dog dressed with dill relish and mustard and I'm a happy camper.  Where I get picky is the dog itself, I'm partial to kosher all beef style, Hebrew National is really my first choice.

3. If you were going to enter an eating contest what would be on the menu?
I'd never enter an eating contest, a tasting contest yes, but never an eating contest~I don't like feeling miserable from eating. But if I were to engage in a a culinary competition in consumption I'd do the research to discern what foods can be easily consumed quickly and digested with the least amount of discomfort (is there really such a thing?) I really don't even want to think about it.

4. Do you run your house more like a dictatorship or more like a democracy?
I guess if you asked the pets its a dictatorship, living on a schedule and never deviating.  If you ask me, certainly a democracy where the time of day is only reflective what is desired in activity.  If I had kids, I'd lean toward a democracy...which may explain why I'm a favorite "auntie."

5. What was your favorite summer place when you were a kid?
Pawley's Island~Murrell's Inlet~Surfside Beach: all South Carolina coastal areas where our family spent one week every summer at a guest cottage, most years being Surfside.  For those unfamiliar with the destination it is now part of the greater Myrtle Beach area.

6. Do you have a guest room? Would you want to stay there?
For years my guest room served as an office and rarely took the shape of a hospitable environment, unless you were in need of an office and its attributes.  I moved to a coastal destination and the number of guests and visitors seemed to increase exponentially so the value I placed on the comfort of my peeps became far more important.  Thus, the office found another dedicated space in the house, a guest room was created and even a sleeper sofa and several comfortable cots are included in lodging.  I many times sleep in my guest room simply because I can.

7. Next Wednesday America celebrates her independence. Do you have any special plans for the 4th of July?
Tend to hang with family and approach the day with nothing but lounging and eating on the agenda and it ALWAYS includes fireworks. This year the only thing hanging in the air is exactly where the extended components of our family will celebrate.  It's coming down to the wire on that decision soon.

8. Scent can carry great meaning and emotion~whether its the dryer sheets, meat on the grill, an old shirt, a new car, a favorite person or a fresh bouquet of flowers.  As humans we are driven by our olfactory.  I, indeed, believe we engage or disengage by our's natural instinct and memory recollection.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

HodgePodge Vol. 82

1. Summer officially rolls in the HodgePodge this week, for those of us in the Northern hemisphere anyway.  What song says Summer 2012 to you?
I can peg the summer of 1981 with Journey's "Don't Stop Believing." The summer of 1991 with Tom Cochrane's "Life is a Highway." The summer of 2001 with the White Stripes' "We're Going to Be Friends." The Summer of 2012 with the Maccabees' "Feel to Follow."

2. What is your quintessential summer food?
Every summer I tend to lean toward a specific farm fresh produce.  Last summer it was watermelon with daily tweets on hip and trendy recipes.  This year I was leaning toward mango, but finding in the few days leading up to the true start to summer that I'm really hooked on the idea of arugula, a fresh bitter green. (I'm broadening my palate of arugula recipes, tweet yours to me!)

3. Did you know the rest areas on the NJ turnpike are named after people who lived or worked in NJ? Clara Barton, Walt Whitman, James Fenimore Cooper, Molly Pitcher, Joyce Kilmer, Thomas Edison, Grover Clevland just to name a few.  Of those listed, who would you have most like to have known and why?
That's easy, Walt Whitman the father of free verse. Song of Myself one of my favorite collections.

4. At what age did you move out of your parents house and what prompted the move?
Simply said, high school graduation provided the obvious exit ,but better put as college bound endeavors required a change of scenery to succeed.

5. What's more satisfying to you saving time or saving money?
Smiling at you!
Saving time is the likely answer given my habit for organizing and list making.  Though there's cause to say saving money became a far more diligent virtue when the economy slowed to a snails pace.

6. Name something you think brings out the good in people.
 A smile.  People in general like to smile and sometimes they just need a smile to invoke their inner radiance.

7. Will you being taking a vacation or a staycation this summer?  If so, where will you go? If a staycation is on the calendar have you made any special plans to fill the time?
Staycation. Living in the South provides ample opportunity throughout the year to feel like you're on vacation; however, we find friends and family more likely, due to school recess, summer work breaks, to take advantage of their schedules to visit here.  Travel for our household tends to transpire in the nonsummer months.

8. Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Title IX.  That's what's going on in Washington this week.  40 influential women will be recognized on the anniversary of a federal law that requires equal access to academic and extracurricular activities for women and men.  I agree with this article, there's still a great deal more work to be done.

    "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

HodgePodge Vol. 81

1. In what way are you your own worst enemy?
I tend to approach each day with "productivity" as a driving force behind the day.  I've mellowed as I've aged (I hear some sighs of relief from those familiar with me or perhaps laughter in disbelief?!), but needless to say every now and then I have to remind myself that not every day has to be productive. I keep a slogan on my refrigerator "Slow Down Feel Love" and play a couple tunes from the Makepeace Brothers album (with same title) if I need to be reminded. "Letter J"
2.Jacques Cousteau's birthday was Monday, June 11, ever been scuba diving? Is that something you'd like to try? What's your favorite under the sea creature?
Underwater adventures remind me of outer world adventures in space. Both appeal greatly.  I've snorkeled, but no scuba diving on record just yet.  My all time favorite is the sea horse. Their graceful.

3. On a scale of 1 to 10 how comfortable are you around water? Do you know how to swim, if so how and when did you learn?
I'm a 10 when it comes to water. According to a story my mother would tell I'm 3 years old sitting on the edge of the "kiddy pool" at our neighborhood public pool, she turns her back for a second and when she returns her gaze to the water I'm would any mother panic ensues and as she's stepping toward the pool, there I am swimming underwater already half way across the length of the pool...I wish I had asked her  before she died if it just seemed like I swam half way or did it really happen?  I like to think it happened.

4. What's something you do to tick off an item off your to do list?
I start each week with a "master list" of the things I'd like to accomplish (note some of the items listed are notoriously far-fetched, but I list them anyway") and then each day I pull items from the master to include in a daily list of things to do...and yes, some items continue to get listed and transferred into the following week or weeks.

5. What makes a good neighbor?
I think I fall in the category of person that wants to be a good neighbor.  I live in a great neighborhood...where people talk to each other, the kids stop by to see what your dog is doing (or to raid your refrigerator)...I'm forever getting updates on the escapades of my cat "Chickabee" sometimes mortified to learn she's explored through houses, work sheds and even napped on their doors are her vice.  I have a tendency to hibernate at home, but have a really top notch neighbor that calls me up and asks how I'm doing, everything ok and would I like to go to lunch.  She's the good neighbor in my hood!

6. Who loads the dishwasher in your house? Is there a right way or a wrong way?
That would be me, I load the dishwasher. I have a very carefree attitude about using the dishwasher, but am reminded every time I'm offered assistance in cleaning up after a dinner party that there are those that take the dishwasher far more seriously than I do.  Rinsing before loading seems to be the line of demarcation.

7. You know it's summer when _________________.
When the marsh grass is this raging shade of brilliant green.

8. Relaxation. I made the point to tell someone I cook to relax, though I suspect my cooking may appear like a great deal of work rather than an act to relax, but it does.  I also advocate the traditional forms of relaxation that set one aside from life and the world, a facial, a massage, a sauna...but having made the point I found myself reflecting on exactly why it relaxes me...I'm not paid to cook nor is it necessary that I perfect it for the masses, it allows me to contemplate (seek a recipe), create (prepare) and enjoy (eat). Thus, relaxation is a matter of mind, body and spirit, isn't it?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Boil a chicken and it will fall apart

Recently I was asked if I was a good cook. (Of course I am! That is, if one were to rate me on the scale of home cooks that remain passionate about learning the chemistry and dynamic nature of food products, not the perfection in visual appeal or the correct culinary term to define it.) Naturally, I responded in my usual quip fashion to this question~which sometimes in delivery loses the intended sincerity, but I knew this person rather well so they no doubt expected such from me.  Thus, I uttered "I boil a whole chicken down for the meat and chicken stock what does that tell you?!" My hope in delivering this particular remark was that the individual would grasp the point that I relish the process of cooking. To take the time, step by to step to arrive at an ending that may or may not be what I expected~ it's the journey, not the outcome that defines the moment. My endeavors in the kitchen are always therapeutic.  Therefore, the time from start to finish is relished with great satisfaction. And in case you were wondering, I do boil a chicken most every week, drawing stock and tender meat for use in a wide variety of dishes to serve myself or a party of people. The recipe I link with this post is simplistic and nets the sumptuous meat falling off the bone factor I strive for in the endeavor. Change it up however you will in terms of vegetables and spices, but trust in the process: boil a chicken it will fall apart!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

HodgePodge Vol. 80

1. How many students were in your high school graduating class? Did you know most or all of them?
One would think the class president would know the answer to this question, however as time has slipped I'd literally have to do a page count in the year book to be accurate (and I'm lame).  The number 343 comes to mind quickly and I was 10th in my class. A comment about my graduating class is in order...we were a class of students who had been split into 3 high schools our senior year so I fathom what the true count would have been (hence why they built new schools to accommodate the population of students).  I knew most everyone as I was the editor for the year book and one can't pour over that many photographs and not become familiar in some sense. But true credit goes to FaceBook for the virtual reunion and recollection of my teen years.

2. What was the last thing you photographed?
Chickabe "Bebe"
In this era of smart phones with great cameras installed I'm not sure there isn't a day I don't take a photograph. Literally the last captured in digital format would be a picture of a one of my cats attempting to insert herself into my luggage to travel with me.  I don't think I've pulled out a conventional camera in a very long time, but I do own one.

3. Pickles, love them or loathe them? If its love what's something you eat that needs a pickle?
Pickles of all varieties~spicy, sweet, sour~appeal greatly.  I think every deli meat sandwich should have a side of pickle. One of my favorite dining options when visiting New York or New Jersey is a delicatessen's community bowl of pickles served at every seating. All time favorite jarred commercial product, Wickles Pickles; otherwise it's the "canners" back home that do it up right, best hostess gift in my book is a jar of home canned pickles.

4. What's a stereotype that you seem to perpetuate without meaning to?
That blondes have more fun. Though as I age the less platinum the shade the better chance at respect for the brain seems to be applying.:)

5. Ever been horseback riding? If so, is it something you enjoy? If not, do you have any interest? Did you watch the Kentucky Derby? Will you be watching the last leg of the Triple Crown this weekend?
Have been horseback riding, but would not classify myself as an equestrian.  Luckily my life circles include quite a few horse people so I get a fix either vicariously through them or at their invitation to take a ride.  As well, the circles of race horsing fans are wide in this part of the country so no race goes without a gathering of souls in elaborate hats with booze. I wouldn't miss the opportunity for gathering in celebration.

6. What is your favorite wedding movie?
I could very easily insert "Bridesmaids" here because I truly enjoyed the film for its stark look at the emotional upheaval friends incur when nuptials are in play, but I really never tire of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" or "Four Weddings and a Funeral." After that the second string would include,  "Mamma Mia," "Wedding Crashers," "27 Dresses," "Monsoon Wedding."

7. What is one tourist attraction in the USA that you'd like to see in person?
Has to be Yosemite National Park.  I have rarely ventured out West in my personal travels and this is the one site I would most like to take in before my last breath.

8. (Random Thought) I've known and know quite a large of lot amazing people in my lifetime. Some take a national and international stage in their accomplishments, while others simply achieve local notoriety. But none stands out in my mind like a local "singing librarian," Amanda Brewer.  Her talent is huge and only (in my opinion) overshadowed by her humble nature.  She's local and I'm only connected to her in a causal way through a local television reporter and a musician, but her story of desire for something beyond the reference desk is not one I take lightly. First of all librarians are my favorite people (it's blogged here) and second when someone's journey to carve out their niche in life is compelling you can't help but not want to call attention to it. If you've ever wished someone good fortune it would be Amanda Brewer so when she takes the stage this week as a guest "sit in" artist at Piccolo Spoleto with the band Blue Mudd I'm going to be there to hear and cheer her.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

HodgePodge Vol. 79

1. What can the average citizen do to honor a military veteran and/or those currently serving?
Thank them in person or in some other fashion for defending a freedom you cherish. Hire them for employment. Offer support to their families while they are stationed outside the United States.

2.Besides a flag what is something you own that is red, white and blue?
A t-shirt, a decorative serving plate and a drink cooler.

3.Does love really conquer all?
Love is a many faceted emotion to say that it exists only in a certain fashion would diminish its actual ability to mirror many aspects of its true self.  And there within lies the key to its ability to conquer. One might love a pet, but have great distaste for its shedding.  One might love a wine, but know that too much of it is not a good thing.  One might love a person, yet never actually hold that person in their arms.

"Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair but manifestations of strength and resolution." Kahlil Gibran

4. Strawberry shortcake or blueberry pie?
Strawberry anything.

5. Do you share personal stuff with your hairdresser?
Like great bartenders, hairdressers are that natural breed of people that take it all in and have the ability to divulge great wisdom in a single sentence or with the nod of head. Yet, I don't share with either.

6. Does money lead to selfishness?
Money can in times where it is not plentiful create selfish acts of preservation rather than generosity.

7. What piece of furniture in your house most needs replacing or refinishing?
That would be several pieces from the same 1920's era that have been reconfigured from a buffet service to a desk, a bureau and a night stand.

8. Flag Day many people associate it with Memorial Day or July 4th, but there is actually a day dedicated to the Flag Resolution ~ Truman in 1949 signed an Act of Congress declaring such (though had been practiced widely before that)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

HodgePodge Vol. 78

1. What is something you miss about the 80's?
The eternal optimism that everyone seemed to carry around with them during that time frame.  People were light on their feet, carried very few burdens and literally everything was in constant motion.

2. Do you have a library card? If so, how often do you visit?
I own a library card, I use it about once a month to grab an afternoon of research.  It's amazing the capacity of libraries even in the face of reduced budgets.

3. What's the secret to success?
Confidence.  Watch how a successful person manages the less successful times in their life, their confidence never wains and serves as a motivator to keep them traveling the path~whatever that path may be.  

4. This is national backyard games week, what's your favorite backyard game?
All time favorite is bocce. Followed by badminton. In fact, it's time for a polish on the balls and a new set of birdies!

5. If I dropped by today, what would I find on your coffee table?
Actually a small service table serves as a coffee table and today you'd likely find one of the cats lounging on it.

6. Do you own a bicycle? When was the last time you rode a bicycle? Is that something you enjoy?
Bicycles are the best beach utility vehicle. Nothing fancy, simply a cruiser. Never tire of a tootle around the neighborhood.

7. What's your favorite cheese?
Easy, any Italian hard cheese, but would narrow that down to Fulvi Pecorino Romano

8. (Random thought for the week) Sending your ashes to space, that simply appeals to the sense of adventure in me, even in after life existence! Beam me up Scotty!
Life Enrichment is like a travel and learn program...offering infusions that make every day life thereafter far more interesting! ~ Ann-Marie Adams, Reflections on a Meaningful Life