Sunday, September 30, 2012

Julie & Julia Self-Challenge - Week 4

Well, it's week 4 of my Julie & Julia self-challenge.  This week, I've not only made two of the recipes from the cookbook, but I also made a third item that I saw on the morning news this week, kale chips.  The recipe sounded easy and as I am becoming a gourmet (wishful thinking, I know), decided to try it.  I can see kale chips becoming a new addiction for me.  Luckily, kale grows well here, so it should be an inexpensive addiction...

They aren't very photogenic, but they are very tasty.  It's just kale, olive oil and garlic - mix in a bowl to make sure the kale is covered with the garlic and oil, spread on a cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 25 minutes.  Crunchy and delicious!

As for the J & J project, here are this week's ingredients:

I made eggplant and olive dip.  Again, not pretty to look at, but very, very good.  My only complaint is that it had a lot of ingredients and was rather expensive and time consuming to make. It's good, but I don't see me making it very often.  (I feel that it is important to note that it was the first time I used my homegrown oregano.  I've had it in my herb garden for several years and never used it before today. Shame, shame, shame on me.)
I also made a spinach dip, which is in the fridge "finishing" so I've not tasted it.  Not that I'm anxious to try it.  Truth be told, I'm not a big spinach dip fan.   Nonetheless, the challenge was to make EVERY recipe in the book...  I am taking both dips and some pita chips to work tomorrow to share with my co-workers, several of whom have been very supportive and stopping by my office on Friday to see what I am making that weekend.  As mentioned before, I am (or is that was??) a notoriously bad cook and now people are actually looking forward to my cooking.  Somewhere there is a pig flying over a frozen pitchfork.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Corner View - "Oh my... this is horrible!"

Corner View is a weekly appointment - each Wednesday - created by Jane and currently curated by Francesca, where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme. If you'd like to join in, please leave a link to your Corner View post in the comments at, and be sure to visit other participants, too.

I must confess. I have a fear of driving over bridges.  I thought it was an irrational fear until I saw this last month in Memphis.  Note that there are no barricades  at the end of the unfinished portion of the bridge... Oh, my!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Julie & Julia Self-Challenge - Week "3"

Technically, it's week four of my self-challenge.  Work got in the way last weekend and no playing was done :-(  I meant to make it up this week by doing two recipes, but was missing one ingredient for the second recipe and I was too lazy to go to the grocery store.

This week, I made Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Caps.

The ingredients:

The finished product:

Honestly, I was quite disappointed initially with the dish.  I made notes in the cookbook for next time - use more currants, Italian dressing and walnuts and use less spinach.
Later in the day, I had a second serving. I heated in on the stove and added currants.  It was wonderful.  I think it just needed to marinade a bit.  (In fact, the second one was so good that I immediately heated the third.  Hopefully, the fourth will make it to lunch tomorrow.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Corner View - Impressions

 Corner View is a weekly appointment - each Wednesday - created by Jane and currently curated by Francesca, where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme. If you'd like to join in, please leave a link to your Corner View post in the comments at, and be sure to visit other participants, too.

With this being an election year in the U.S., I am reminded of a story from 8 years ago.  First, I have to tell you my political beliefs.  However, please note that I am sharing this information for the sake of the story.  I am not inviting a debate or trying to convince anyone to vote like me.  (Goodness knows, there's been enough of that everywhere else - especially Facebook.)  Okay, having said that, I am a very liberal Democrat. 
Eight years ago, Senator Kerry was running against President George W.  Bush.   I obviously supported Kerry.  After the debate, I was talking with a man with whom I worked.  For the sake of the story (and because I can't remember his name), I will call him Paul.  Paul had long hair - it was almost to his waist and he wore it in a long braid.  Paul was Jewish.  Paul lived with a woman who didn't shave her armpits and made her own granola.  Thus, I judged the book by the cover and assumed that Paul was a liberal like I.  So, the morning after the debate.  We had a conversation that went something like this:

Me:    Did you see the debate?
Paul:  Can you believe that idiot?
Me:   I know!  I was horrified.  
Paul:  Me, too!  I can't believe people are buying his crap!
Me:   It's shameful.  He shovels it in and they open wide for it.
Paul:  I know!

You get the idea... it went on for quite a while like this.  Two kindred spirits commiserating... until I said...

Me:   If this little idiot gets re-elected, we should all move to Canada and start a commune.
Paul:  What do you mean by "re-elected"?

That's when I found out that Paul was a conservative Republican and his "idiot" was my candidate and vice versa.  Luckily, we were able to laugh about it - eventually.

Proof that impressions can be misleading!  And proof that you should not discuss politics at work or judge a book by its cover... the former, which I still do and frequently regret.

I don't have a photo to illustrate my story, so I will leave you with a cute kitty picture.  Regardless of your political beliefs, you have to admit that my Wills is one adorable cat!

Happy corner viewing!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Julie & Julia Self-Challenge - Week 2

This week's recipe is Versatile Peanut Dip. First off, I had to go to the store to buy all of the ingredients (except for the pepper flakes).  I don't keep staples at my house.  This fact and the fact that I am 44 and don't cook drive my poor mother crazy.  We have phone conversations that go like this:

Me:       I'm hungry, I'm going to go to the drive through and get a sandwich.
Mom:    Why don't you just make a sandwich?   Not even you could mess up a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Me:        I don't have any peanut butter.
Mom:    Then make a jelly sandwich.
Me:        I don't have any jelly.
Mom:     Then make toast.
Me:        I don't have any bread.

Anyhow, it seems that you can teach an old dog new tricks.  Last week's hummus was a success.  I took it to work and shared it with my co-workers and got all thumbs ups!  (Usually if I cook something, I am shown a different finger up.) Several people even stated that I should bring it to the next office potluck.  They usually tell me to just bring a fruit tray or sodas.
This week's peanut dip turned out well, too.

It doesn't look appetising, but it is very good and I am quite pleased with the result.

Next week is stuffed portobello mushroom caps.  It will involve me using the oven.  I'd better make sure that the fire extinguisher is in good working order.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Corner View - Growing

 Corner View is a weekly appointment - each Wednesday - created by Jane and currently curated by Francesca, where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme. If you'd like to join in, please leave a link to your Corner View post in the comments at, and be sure to visit other participants, too.

I did not like the way the bottom of my yard looked.  It was not welcoming.

So, I pulled out some grass and replaced it with Mexican petunias and a daisy vine.

And everything grew and continues to grow.  Now it looks like this:

I don't have a before photo of the other side of the driveway, but this is it now:

Not perfect - but I think it's better...

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Julie & Julia Self-Challenge

Well, memory lane is officially closed and I am back enjoying the present and looking forward to things in the future.

I have a confession to make – I am a flop in the kitchen.  I can’t cook.  I’ve tried, but I don’t enjoy it – especially when the results are less than edible.  (Not to mention the fact that I have LITERALLY almost burned down two places boiling water.)  However, I need to cut back on my expenses (I have been very fiscally irresponsible this year and am starting to pay the consequences) and I am trying to eat healthier.  So, I‘ve decided to try the cooking thing again.  (Please be prepared to send money as I may burn down the house.)  Stealing from the blog/book/movie Julie and Julia:

I am going to make every recipe in one of my vegan cookbooks.


Granted there are only a 125 recipes, to the 500-600 in Julie and Julia… and I am only committing myself to make at least one a week, not every day... but it's still a challenge, right?
To make it official, I bought a new apron in St. Augustine, yesterday:
I am going to go in order of recipes rather than find some other reasonable order.  I know myself – if it gets too complicated, I’ll quit.

Lucky me, the first recipe is for hummus with roasted red peppers.   Hummus is one of the few things that I am able to make.  However, for this exercise, I followed the recipe in the book.  I even roasted my own peppers, which I've never done before... here's the garlic, black pepper and olive oil mixture for the roasting of the red peppers:
Peppers roasted and ingredients ready to be mixed:
The finished product: 
If I do say so myself, this is the BEST hummus I've ever tasted!  (I may be biased.) The challenge has started on the right foot.  The next recipe is Versatile Peanut Dip.

Sunny September Saturday in St. Augustine

It's Labor Day weekend here in the states, which means a lovely three day weekend.  Yesterday, Deb and I went to St. Augustine - one of my favorite places to day trip.  It is a short drive north of Orlando.
St. Augustine is the oldest American city, founded in 1565.  It's a very charming waterfront city.  Unfortunately, we were too tired after walking for about six hours in the old town to wander the block to the water.  So, I have no photos of the water with the lovely boats and gorgeous bridges - next time I will photo the waterfront.