Monday, August 22, 2016

The Grocery Cart Mysteries

Any other Louise Penny mystery fans out there?

This is the time of year we await her latest Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novel.

My copy of A Great Reckoning: A Novel was pre-ordered and is due to arrive on August 30. That means I'll be pretty much incommunicado from then until I finish it. 

[April 2016 when I'm still on a no dessert diet.]

Here's hoping all my favorite characters will still be alive--and not arrested--in the new novel, including and most of all, Armand himself. Don't tell R.H. but Armand does make my heart go pitter-patter.

[Memorial Day weekend.]

But one other character from the hidden village of Three Pines most intrigues me, that is a bookshop owner named Myrna. I hope her whole story will be told in a future Penny book.

[Late July, pre-doctor appointment grocery cart.]

Myrna is wise and intuitive but most likely as flawed as most of us are. Myrna feels that "if she could just get a good look at a person's bookcases and their grocery cart, she'd pretty much know who they were."

[Same grocery cart as above;
what item did I break before this 
grocery trip? And what "school supply
can I absolutely not run out of?]

Would Myrna have you figured out if she saw yours? Your bookcases and your grocery cart?

My bookcases might be fairly easy for Myrna to sum up since I winnowed my books down to my bare bones essential self when we moved from Tennessee to Florida this spring. Let's save bookcases for another post and focus on grocery carts now.

[August; after hearing lab report at
doctor's appointment.]

Can you put on your detective hat, look at four of my grocery carts since we moved here, and tell me what you know about me?

[Same grocery cart as above, but some
ingredients might mean a TN son is coming
to see us--just saying.]

And what about you? What would your grocery cart tell us about you? 

[These did not get put in my grocery cart
even though I lusted after them.
Can you tell me why?]


I'll start you off by telling you one thing that is always in my grocery cart here in the sunny state of Florida--my pale yellow Sunbrella! I don't leave home without it.

[Saturday's loot from Atlantic Beach
Farmer's Market. There's homemade sun-dried tomato/basil pasta there and rosemary olive bread. Small coconut-pineapple loaf for R.H.
Blistering hot day, 
very grateful for my Sunbrella.]

Are you as sharp as Myrna? Can you solve the grocery cart mysteries?



Wednesday, August 17, 2016

August Celebration at TPC Sawgrass

Despite my personal agreement with Richardson Wright's view of August....


"Were I running things
I would simply cut August
out of the calendar."

I'm stuck with August and it has held one big day for celebration.....

Happy Birthday, R.H.!!!!


And celebrate we did!

Our daughter Christy (above with R.H. overlooking the 18th hole) and son-in-law Bryan took us out for dinner at the TPC Sawgrass dining room, a short walk from their house.


That's a stock photo of the golf club above but I think the one below that I took with my phone out on the terrace is not bad at all.


The TPC (The Players Championship) is owned by the PGA Tour players. Our new town is home and headquarters of the PGA--and also headquarters of the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals). 

I guess we'll always miss Nashville but we're discovering more and more that Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida is a pretty cool place too. And it was a genuine treat to celebrate R.H.'s birthday in this beautiful place.

Our meal was scrumptious.

For the birthday boy this watermelon salad was almost too pretty to eat.


Then he had a New York strip steak. He couldn't decide between the bearnaise sauce or the demi-glace, so ordered both as a birthday prerogative. 


Christy wanted steak too and chose a filet, potatoes and the vegetable du jour.


Bryan ordered the special, a pork tenderloin served with two beautiful porcini mushroom ravioli.


And I had grouper with yucca gnocchi and slaw. Yum!



R.H. loved his chocolate ganache birthday cake but I reminded him that I had a homemade coconut cream pie waiting for him at home. Then he let Bryan and Christy have a few bites.


Who could blame him for tearing into this chocolate delight, right?

I forgot to get a photo of the dining room, but here's another stock photo of it.


Very golf-club atmosphere, don't you think?

After dinner Bryan told us about the history of this golf club that is a crown jewel of pro golf and we viewed some of the memorabilia.


Jerome and Paul Fletcher sold the land for this 'Stadium Course' golf club for $1.00.


There are photographs of so many of golf's greats in these halls but here's one of a beloved celebrity.


On the far right, can you recognize this "thanks for the memories" entertainer to the troops?

The evening was such a treat for this couple from TN whose normal dinners out back home used to be at a little meat 'n three in the hills outside Nashville.

Thank you, Bryan and Christy! You scored a hole-in-one with this birthday dinner!



Then it was home for R.H. to cut into my coconut cream pie. Maybe in another post I'll tell you how I made sure that I wasn't tempted to break my diet and have a slice.

No, I didn't spit in it.





Thursday, August 11, 2016

Here We Go Again


It all began when I tore this page out of last November's UK Homes & Gardens. Isn't that pretty?
(Ignore my scribbles on the left.)

It looked like more of a summer dessert than a November one and also looked simple to construct if I did not go to the trouble of actually making the ice cream sandwich, so I made this a couple of weeks ago.


I bought Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches because I could not find Klondike Ice Cream sandwiches anywhere here.

This was to be a trial run for an easy company summer dessert when I would use non-skinny Klondike sandwiches, if I could find them.


The caramel corn part was easy too; I was not going to go to the trouble to make that.


The strawberries were easy, even if they didn't look as pretty as what was in the picture--nothing ended up looking as pretty as in the picture.


Strawberry Sauce: 1 lb. organic strawberries, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, juice from 1/2 a lemon. Heat to boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes. (And with my gas range, don't turn your back on it.)



I drew the line at whipped cream from a can and whipped my own--almost to the point of it becoming butter. (Note to self: don't turn my back on my mixer either.)



Is this not pitiful?

I pictured this ironstone platter holding enough ice cream sandwiches, strawberries, caramel corn and whipped cream to serve to 4 people, but my trial run dissuaded me. 

I thought I would achieve the effect in the magazine picture by just casually tossing the caramel corn on it, but I understand now why food stylists use tweezers, and have lots of talent.

Mine looks like I intentionally tried to make a smiley face of the caramel corn. Not.

Why am I posting this "recipe" that I will not repeat?

Some of my blog friends--and my family--know that I went from Christmas week until the end of April this year without eating desserts.

And I brought my A1c (for those of you who are familiar with this diabetes term) down from 7.1 to 6.5 in 4 months and lost 12 lbs., which made my doctor smile.

I've fallen off the wagon some these past few months and while my recent lab results showed my A1c was still the same, my triglycerides were a different story.

So back to no desserts and other dietary changes to work on that. But a lifetime of no more baking? Impossible, as I love baking! Can I do it for others and resist it myself? We'll see.

I'll let you know and more about the other steps I'm taking in future posts.

Speaking of steps, guess what I began this morning?

The first of 3 months of visits to a vein specialist to get rid of horrible varicose veins. And what is the doctor's prescription following all these procedures?

Steps, lots and lots of steps. Walking, it's called. So I'll close and get up to take more of those. And I'll try not to indulge in a pity party about giving up desserts. 

Because my dear husband is lactose intolerant and he couldn't even eat a Skinny Cow (it tasted terrible anyway) or the whipped cream. Breyers lactose-free ice cream for him and berries with caramel corn on the top.



I know some of you are trying to avoid sugar too. How's it going for you?

When I did it for 4 months this past winter it took 6 weeks for the cravings to stop. 

How about you? Or are you one of those who follows the rule of two bites only, and you keep to it? Or is a juicy peach your favorite dessert? 

And yes, I know that many of you don't have a problem with this, either from genes and metabolism or lots of exercise and balanced eating.

And my other goal is not to hate you.


Saturday, August 6, 2016

Ads That Sold -- Thermador

1960


I never thought I would be cooking with gas,
and I never thought I would be using
Thermador appliances.

But I am, if only temporarily.

Refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave
and convection oven are all Thermador.

But it is the 6-burner gas range that has been my...
my nemesis.


I have burned 80% of all I've cooked
on these burners.

After all, below is the stove I've been used to...


Cozy, friendly, known.

But I'm learning how to tame this monster.

How?

Unless I'm boiling water,
this is the only setting I use...


And even then I don't dare turn my back on it.

My green Le Cruset sits on top of it all the time,
it's too heavy to try to store.


I use it for pot roasts and Bolognese sauce,
but mostly I use it for soups.

Leftover chicken and broths turn into one of
many favorite chicken soup recipes,
enriched with a box of my favorite broth.


This time it was a Congee, 
an Asian porridge that is pure comfort food.


Recipes abound online but be sure to
allow plenty of time for the rice to cook
almost to a gruel.



Soups are my favorite meals and I love soup pots.
I use this smaller All-Clad soup pot too.


This large pot doesn't get as much use
now that we've moved.


But its pasta inserts came in handy for many
pasta-based meals in past years.


Good tools last forever and this Thermador
range will last long after we've moved
to the small house we're looking for.

As long as I keep it on simmer.


Next to tackle the oven.
I've only used it three times.

Those whoosh noises emitting from its depths
make me jump every time.

I'll get used to this Thermador range--
I even lit up with happiness when I spotted
the Thermador ad in this fabulous1960
House & Garden the other day.


It's kind of nice getting to use these
Thermador appliances.

But about the time I catch on,
we'll be moving to a small house,
small kitchen.

I'm already studying ideas for small kitchens.

But where will I store all these big soup pots?




Monday, August 1, 2016

A Reading Nook for Nora



She was read to in her crib,
when only a few days old.

Taken to Story Hour at the library,
when a few months old.

Bedtime reading has always been a
part of her routine.

But sometimes a girl just needs a nook,
a small reading nook of her own.

Don't you think?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Family--Just What the Doctor Ordered

Thank you so much, dear friends, for all of your comments on my last post.

I believe they were the most heartfelt and thoughtful comments I've ever received, and I have read them over and over, trying to fully absorb all the wisdom in them. 

Last weekend R.H. and I had just what the doctor ordered -- visits from dear family. 

Two of my sisters and their husbands, Floridians themselves, came to spend the weekend with us and with our daughter and son-in-law. 

My sister Deb and her husband were our house guests, along with their darling Carly, a beautiful Havanese.




She and Don and R.H. and I met the rest of the party at Aqua Grill, Christy and Bryan's favorite where-everyone-knows-your-name place.




I wasn't able to capture the water coming down like rain in this large wall inside but it was lovely.

Here's Deb and Don.....



We four had good late night talks before bed.

Sometimes a heart-to-heart talk with a sister does wonders.

Here's my sister Jenn with my brother-in-law Jeff, who were house guests of Christy and Bryan for the weekend......



That's our son-in-law Bryan across the table from them, and these two men--Bryan and Jeff--flew to Nashville when we moved, helped load the trucks and drove them to Florida for us--my knights in shining armor, along with Zack who drove me and Otis and Milo, our dachshunds, in my car. 

I never told you about our convoy, did I? We could not have made it safely here without their help.

Back to the Aqua Grill, Christy was hidden behind Bryan in the above picture so I got her to pose for the camera, which left Bryan in one of those weird poses. (He doesn't read my blog anyway so will never see this!)



Here's a few of our dinner plates....



Boneless short ribs for a few of the men.



Scallops and crab for Deb.



Wild sockeye salmon and orzo for me.

And I guess I have to include a picture of me and R.H. even though I definitely look like I imbibed too much of the champagne that Zack and Courtney had there as a surprise for all of us.



On to Saturday...there were bike rides for some of the men early and the ladies, minus me, did two miles on the beach early.

Then there was a pool party at Christy and Bryan's...



Recognize any of us? I think that's R.H. in the blue one-piece suit.

Christy grilled filets out that evening and a simple but delicious meal was had by all, including Bryan's mother and father, Barbara and Don, who joined us.



They're the couple squeezed in on the patio sofa at Christy and Bryan's, between R.H. and Don, and they are two fascinating people. And Don, Bryan's father, carved the large tenderloin into the filets for Christy to grill. That impressed me as I'd never seen anyone do it.



That's all the pictures I have even though the whole gang gathered at our house the next morning for a waffle, bacon, pork chops, eggs and fruit salad breakfast.

We ladies went shopping afterwards and came home to a clean kitchen, courtesy of R.H.

And then it was time for our weekend to end, our house guests went home, carrying big pots of lavender with them from the Ace Hardware here, which is one cool store.

A generous dose of family--just what the doctor ordered.