Tuesday, January 31, 2006
This huge white, saucer shaped camellia is named, "Mrs. D.W. Davis." I guess Mrs. DWD hybridized it or something. It is sitting on a 12 inch dinner plate so you can see that it is indeed a very large bloom. Camellias prefer filtered sun and acidic soil.
I usually have camellias blooming from Christmas until late March. The stamen/pistils are about 2.5 inches long on this variety. Each bloom lasts about a week.
It is 60 degrees outside and that's too cold for Floridians to sip martini's on the patio. Instead of sitting out in the beautiful late afternoon, I think I'll put on a pair of socks and cook up some fried eggplant and Italian sausage for dinner. I'm stuck in between winter and spring in seasonal limbo. bleccchhh.
Monday, January 30, 2006
Yesterday, I saw the first redbuds in bloom and the Japanese magnolias are also in full bloom. If the sun ever comes out again, I'll take some pictures. We got a couple of inches of rain overnight and it's another gray and blustery Monday. Have I mentioned that I am sick of winter? Oh, well, at least things are starting to bloom and getting green. I shouldn't dare complain.
Friday, January 27, 2006
Just in case your liquor panty is dry, or especially if it's not, here's something to make you laugh out loud. Get hooked on the feeling with Hasselhoff.
I LOVE IT!
Did you realize that Valentine's Day is just a little more than two weeks away? If you need a gift for your sweetie, why not click one of these links:
Vintage for Valentines
Newest Additions to
Eclectica Antique and Collectible Jewelry
Enjoy your weekend.
I have a big ole plate of chili nachos callin' my name...
Thursday, January 26, 2006
do it in the snow
love the taste
I am curious to see how many troll through my blog this coming week seeking these words or combinations there of. This reminds me of an embarrassing story. I've been online since 1993. In that length of time, I have used only a handful of ISP's. A couple of years ago, I added a new account and for some reason, I selected a naughty password. It isn't really vulgar when the words are used separately but when you string them together as I did, it sounds really dirty. I thought this was a pretty good password that I wouldn't forget. However, I failed to consider any future ISP connection problems that might occur. I was mortified when I once had to tell a customer service rep that password. The young woman on the other end of the phone line made me repeat it four times. She couldn't believe her ears. How embarrassing.
Back from the dentist, shopping and dinner and ready to put on my flannels and snuggle in for the night. It was an expensive day and to make matters worse, I have to have another crown. How can someone with thick, healthy hair and fingernails as strong as Teflon have such soft teeth? The dental torture just never ends. (add thick, vulgar and torture to the list!)
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
I see that someone found my blog by searching for ski porn pictures. This is most interesting since I have never written about skiing or porn but I looked for myself and on a certain search engine, I am fifth on the list for ski porn photos. How cool is that? BTW, I have been on snow skis once in my life about a million years ago and I spent more time on my butt than swooshing. I haven't even been on water skis in too many years to count. I don't have any porno connections but I did watch Taxicab Confessions on HBO last week. Does that count? And, I can't help but wonder what ski porn pix would detail? Do they wear apres ski boots, do it in the snow, wear mittens? What? How? I can't even imagine. Golly, I lead a sheltered life but who cares -- MSN thinks I am into nasty snow sex photography.
Friends keep giving us oranges, grapefruit, tangelos, blood oranges and navels so I have been cooking with or making fruit salads every day. Today I made ambrosia with fresh citrus, coconut and cherries. Yesterday, I made a pretty fruit salad with citrus and kiwi drizzled with honey and then served on salad greens.
Aren't kiwi fruit delish? I love the taste and that furry brown outer skin is too cool. I find it easier to slice the fruit and then remove the peel from each slice instead of peeling the whole fruit first.
Tomorrow, W4D and I have dueling dental appointments. This is a good thing since he can drive and I can take an extra Xanax for my dental anxiety. As a reward, I always go shopping and buy myself gifts after dental apointments. I wonder if the Lubricator will take me shopping? If I forget to blog, chalk it up to binge buying.... or dental drugs.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
In less than 20 minutes, our lawn was de-bugged and worm-raked, the bird bath bone dry, so away they flew like a dark cloud heading north to the next block. The weather has remained unseasonable warm but they'll be back south with the next cold front tomorrow or the next day. The robins will visit us several times as they work their way north for good but it is a sure sign that spring is on the way.
In my lust for color during this drab and dreary month, I am making more than my usual effort to cook colorful foods. And, in an effort to lose some weight, I am trying to eat healthy. I did pretty well last night, at least at first. While The Lube went to an "emergency" council meeting at 6:00 (yes, that is four days in a row. grrrr), I had a vodka martini and some edamame for a snack. Edamame is soy beans in the pod and they make a healthy nibble. Almost as good as our Southern tradition of boiled peanuts, I like edamame since I can keep them in the freezer and defrost them in the nuker in less than 30 seconds.
For supper I made steamed, homegrown broccoli fresh from my friend Barbie's garden, with sautéed sweet red peppers, yellow squash and shrimp. Dinner took 6 minutes cooking time from start to finish.
It was such a damned healthy night that by 9:00, I was into the cookies and Pringles. So much for dieting on Monday.
Monday, January 23, 2006
I think I can feel the days getting longer.
I am eager for color and spring.
Frosted local fields of dead grass
I was bored almost all weekend while The Lubricator (W4D) spent full days Friday, Saturday and Sunday at a Municipal Government conference. My councilman came home with a wealth of knowledge about basic government at the town level. The Lubricator met a councilman who sits on a small town council with his cousin, his father-in-law and his mother-in-law. The fifth member of the council is not related but the councilman's wife sits on the town's Land Planning Committee. And here I thought that was illegal. Did you know the smallest town in Florida is Weeki Wachee Springs? Seven mermaids reside there. I am not kidding. Hurray for my tax dollars at work.
In the midst of a long and boring weekend came another downer... Georgetown beat #1 Duke and my #2 Gators also got up-ended by Tennessee. Major Basketball Bummer. So, mostly my weekend sucked except for one saving grace. Last night at 8:00, we had tickets to see Alison Krauss and Union Station.
I am certain that when the angels sing, they don't have a sweeter or more pure voice than Alison Krauss. Union Station is also brilliantly talented. It amazes me when musicians can stand so still, maybe just a barely noticeable tapping of the toe, and up bubbles and boils such an awesome, joyful sound. We enjoyed parts of the movie soundtracks from Cold Mountain, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, Mona Lisa Smile and of course, O Brother, Where Art Thou.
Dan Tyminski of Union Station was the voice of George Clooney in "O Brother," and it was great fun to see him sing all those songs from the film soundtrack. "Man of Constant Sorrow" just about brought down the house. All the members of Union Station are in demand on many albums and each is among the very best acoustical musicians for base, dobro, mandolin, guitar, banjo and fiddle. It was a fab concert in a cozy setting and it made up for a very boring and long weekend alone.
Alison Krauss said she was from the Land of Lincoln, playing in the Land of Lynyrd Skynyrd. That brought cheers from the crowd since this is an area where Southern Rock is very prominent. In fact, many of us remember when Lynyrd was Leonard Skinner and Tom Petty hadn't yet made it big and the bands would play locally every weekend. I noticed how old much of the audience was last night. Where did the time go?
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Friday, January 13, 2006
This afternoon, the cocktail and nibble du jour has been selected because I can smell spring on the air. I truly can, even though it will not last and there are dark clouds, high winds and possible tornado warnings in the immediate future with a downright cold weekend to follow. But now, the ground is warm and smells earthy and there are green things and my antique roses are blooming their heads off. I love Florida in January and February.
In honor of the balmy breezes of the last few days, I have made a large shaker of Absolute Citron Lemon Drops. I used lemon juice and sour oranges with the citrus flavored vodka and the result is tart and teasing. When the drink slides over the sugared rim, it is just like slurping an old fashioned lemon drop candy.... a little pucker and a hint of sweetness. Perfection!
Due to some mean old black clouds rolling in from the NW, I have fired up the gas grill and am cooking our Friday cocktail nibbles early.
Shrimp on the Barbie.
I buy these 21-31 count large shrimp already prepared and on the wooden skewers at Publix for a buck a stick. Then, all I need to do is decide what marinade to use or what to brush on the shrimp. Very easy, very inexpensive.
Tonight, I am making Buffalo Shrimp. I use a TBSP of sweet butter, a TBSP of Tabasco (I prefer Tabasco but any hot sauce you like will be fine) and a little splash of olive oil. Melt the basting sauce in the nuker covered for 10 seconds or so and then baste the shrimp repeatedly as they cook, turning every 2 minutes until done. 6 minutes ought to do it! If you use as much Tabasco as I recommend, the shrimp will bite you back and the cocktails with soothe your palate and all will be right with the world.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
I on the other hand, will take my sweet time and calmly sip icy Kamikaze shooters, straight up, poured from the shaker that I have already made and stashed in the freezer. This should irritate The Lubricator even though he won't know it until he reads this blog tomorrow.
Here's how to make your own shaker full of Kamikaze's.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add three jiggers of vodka. Pour another jigger half full of Rose's Lime Juice, then fill to the top with Tripe Sec so that the jigger is half Triple Sec and half Roses. Dump that into the shaker and shake vigorously. Depending upon the size of your shot glass, you should have from 2 to 4 drinks in the shaker. Strain into shot glass or shooters. Store the rest in the freezer since you'll want to drink them frosty cold. Be careful how many you drink. There's a reason they call them Kamikaze's.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
"p i n k m a r t i n i."
Pink Martini has a global sophisticated sound that will encourage relaxation and conversation. Here's a good review of their first album, Sympathique. We also have their newer CD, Hang On Little Tomato. I cannot decide which I like better.
PM is described on their web site as "Somewhere between a 1930s Cuban dance orchestra, a classical chamber music ensemble, a Brasilian marching street band and Japanese film noir is the 12-piece Pink Martini."
Luckily, you can listen to both albums in their entirety on the
p i n k m a r t i n i website. Try before you buy.
Pour your favorite cocktail, relax and have a listen.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Perhaps you have never considered stuffed grape leaves as an hor douvre but they are easy and delicious. Well suited to white wine, Bombay martinis with a twist, or Ouzo shooters (I dare you!). Stuffed grape leaves are piquant and will also absorb all the demon alcohol jujubes that flow within your bloodstream. You may have eaten stuffed grape leaves baked in tomato sauce served hot as an entree but I love them made small, chilled and marinated in fresh lemon juice and the best olive oil.
jar of prepared grape leaves
cooked rice (1 TBSP for each leaf)
salt and pepper
garlic (yes, I add garlic to everything)
dillweed, thyme or mint, or your fave herb
toasted pignoli (pine) nuts
a little finely diced onion
splash of best olive oil to bind the rice
More olive oil for marinade
About 1/5 cup of lemon juice for marinade
I like to see what leftovers I have in the fridge.... a little chopped sautéed onion and peppers is good, too. Use your imagination. That's what makes a good cook.
Mix all your ingredients into a gummy rice wad and then place about a tablespoon of it on the bottom edge of a cooked grape leaf. Form it out like a cigar butt on the bottom of the grape leaf. You can buy grape leaves in the pickle section at the market or you can make them from your own grape leaves. However, if you know how to boil your own grape leaves, you probably don't need me to tell you how to make this recipe. So, use whatever grape leaves you are used to or go buy them near the olives and the pepperancini at the market.
Roll up your little torpedo of rice, folding the ends in to seal like you would roll a burrito. Each should be about 2.5 to under 3 inches long but this depends upon the size of the grape leaves. Keep rolling as tight as you can without tearing the cooked grape leaf. Place in a bowl, seam side down. Make all the rest and do likewise. Now, squeeze plenty of fresh lemon juice all over the little leafy rolls. Sprinkle with your best olive oil over top and cover tightly. Place in fridge for at least one day and up to 5 days.
Serve as finger food cocktail treats. I like to garnish with cherry or grape tomatoes and add a few crackers. The marinade is tasty so crackers or bread is useful to sop up the juice. Isn't that an elegant way to put it?
I just ran a search for stuffed grape leaves and Amazon (the book people) carries them in their gourmet food section. I may try ordering some but this leads me to believe that if you have a Greek market nearby, you can probably buy these ready-made. Unfortunately, we don't have any Greek markets out here in the North Florida countryside. Besides, unless you are having a party, why would you need two kilos of stuffed grape leaves, hmmm?
Monday, January 09, 2006
I usually make a little taste treat to go along with our drinks. We eat dinner about 7:30 or 8:00 in the winter so we like a wee nosh with the cocktail hour. One of our faves is a little caviar. We don't buy expensive caviar since I have a trick that makes the inexpensive caviar taste quite good. You'll find that most inexpensive caviar is too salty and even a bit strong so what I do is rinse it. Yes, simply rinse it well in a fine mesh strainer under ice cold water, then drain completely (shake, shake, shake and then sit strainer on a paper towel for a few minutes) so that not a drop of water is left. You will find that the caviar holds shape better when you get rid of all that yucky dye they like to put in with lumpfish caviar. They also over-salt it so rinsing takes off a lot of the salt.
I make a canapé cream cheese spread that I usually pipe out of a pastry tube for company, but sometimes, I don't feel like fussing for just two or four of us. As you can see from my photos, I spread it on willy nilly this time, like a slob. Heck, I am hungry!
To make my basic cream cheese (Neufchatel) spread for canapés of many types, mix as follows:
One brick of cream cheese (8 oz.)
1 Tablespoon of white Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tablespoon of mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons of sour cream
Dash of hot sauce (I prefer Tabasco)
Healthy sprinkle of garlic powder (not garlic salt!)
Stir it all up, beat until smooth. When at room temperature, pipe onto bread with pastry bag or spread with a knife if you are tired and whining about it being Monday. Unused spread keeps several weeks tightly covered in fridge. That's all there is to it. You can embellish it as needed for recipes and you can use a little dark Worcestershire Sauce if you cannot locate the white in your area. Don't skip the Worcestershire Sauce though. And, it is easy to double or triple if you are having a lot of guests.
I use those little canapé pumpernickel bread loaves and fry the slices in a little butter on one side, then put a little of my basic spread on the fried side, add a small spoon of caviar, a bit of pimento or sweet pepper, and a ruffle of parsley for color. Easy as pie!
These are delicious and the only thing that can make them taste better is washing them down with an ice cold Grey Goose dry martini and I'm off to do that right now!
Friday, January 06, 2006
W4D presented the gloves to me last evening and I took them out of the box. Something looked odd.
Not only are they two different sizes, they are both left hands. LMAO! W4D, who is himself a lefty, is bound and determined to make them get it right. I hope it happens before winter melts into spring.
Speaking of winter, we're expecting the coldest temps of the year tonight and tomorrow with lows of about 22 - 24 degrees. I was out walking about the yard seeing what is going to need to be protected, moved inside or covered. I picked these perfect camellias a few moments ago. Camellias do fine in cold weather, as long as the blooms and buds don't freeze solid.
All of my varieties of camellias are loaded with blooms and buds right now and I wait all year on them to flower. Hope I have some left come Sunday.
Have a good weekend. Stay warm.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
The only work to serving mussels is cleaning them. Many fishmongers will sell them already cleaned but if you are going to clean them yourself, remove the "beards" (the little fuzzy furries outside the shell) with a stiff brush. Make sure you discard any mussels that are open. They should all be tightly closed before cooking. Rinse well and repeat so you make sure you get rid of any sand or beard bits clinging to the shells. The shells should be smooth and clean and tightly closed.
If you are cooking a lot of mussels, say a couple of pounds or more, I find it easier to steam them in a little chicken broth with wine, then drain before adding the herbed garlic butter and broiling. If cooking just a pound or so, you can skip pre-cooking them. Just place them in a casserole or oven-proof pan with a lid.
Spread the uncooked, clean mussels out in the dish or pan. Cover the pan or casserole with a tight fitting lid and bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes until the mussels start to pop open. If you don't have a lid to fit, you can use aluminum foil. Do not overcook.
While the mussels are baking, melt about a 1/4 pound of sweet cream butter per pound of mussels and stir in some finely diced cloves of fresh garlic. You can also add a splash of white wine and a little freshly chopped parsley. Remember to save at least half of your fresh parsley to chop and add when serving since bright green parsley is always appealing on the plate. When the mussels have cooked 10 minutes, add the melted butter, garlic and parsley mixture. I like a lot of garlic - at least a couple or three minced cloves per serving. Continue baking for another 5 to 10 minutes until you smell the garlic. If any mussels did not open, discard them.
I like to serve mussels in garlic butter over toasted French or Cuban bread. I pan fry slices of crusty bread in a little butter and olive oil and place it in the bottom of a rim soup bowl or deep plate. Then, I place the cooked mussels on the bread. The final step is to pour the garlic butter mixture on the mussels and sprinkle with some fresh parsley. Some mussels may come lose from the shell but it doesn't matter. It makes a beautiful presentation just piled onto the bread and it smells wonderful! Of course, you will eat the bread in the bottom of the bowl since it is full of garlic butter sauce but you might also want some crusty bread to dip into any leftover sauce.
When mussels are inexpensive, W4D and I often eat this dish as an entree. When we crave them and mussels are pricey, we have them as a first course. I also love mussels in marinara sauce or as part of seafood pasta dishes or on the shell with an herbed cream sauce but I'll save those recipes for another time.
BTW, I like to take pictures of the foods I cook. You are welcome to link to my photos but please give proper credit to the photographer. That would be me.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Then, I took a closer look when I caught the glimmer and sheen on the back of her legs. I was thinking tanning spray but upon closer inspection, it was industrial strength support stockings. You could have bounced quarters off her legs in those sturdy, tightly knit pantyhose and I stood there transfixed, staring at her butt cheeks covered in support hose while I waited my turn at the counter. There should be a law against Daisy Dukes worn with support hose.
I was telling W4D about her yesterday, early evening while he read my blog.
"I don't know if I like you calling me a sniffing, tit-grabbing, hound dog."
"I said no such thing, but if the muzzle fits ..."
Candle in a Noilly Prat bottle spreads
a little cheer during the cocktail hour.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
The holidays were enjoyable. We ate too much, drank too much and laughed ourselves silly.
I found another raspberry gift that I had forgotten. Check out this raspberry pink tripod vibrator that was in my stocking. W4D says he didn't put it there so it must have been from Santa. I have named my new pet tripod, Trey Busby.
New Year's Eve was spent our traditional way with best friends and a huge bonfire party and fireworks. We partied until 5:00 AM, outlasting all the younger folks, and the next day after we strapped our heads back on, we had the traditional good luck dinner that is de rigueur in the South: Ham, Hoppin' John, Collard Greens, Corn Bread and more. Hoppin' John is black-eyed peas cooked with ham hocks and served over rice. Eating the afore-mentioned meal is said to insure good luck in the coming year. I know it works and I would never ever risk not eating this traditional New Years Day meal. Kudos to Cathy June for cooking a fabulous New Year's Dinner. I salute your Southern cookin,' CJ!
Our Gators won their bowl game and we had an extra day to recover from all the frivolity. We took down all the holiday decorations... except the Gator Tree since it would have been bad luck to de-deck the Gators before the game. The weather was temperate and balmy and I should also brag that we went barefoot much of the weekend. I even blew up, as promised, the rest of the peeps. After the first peeps splattered all over the microwave and I was unsuccessful in capturing the explosions on camera, I learned to place a sheet of plastic wrap on the unassuming peep. It made the Peepocide clean-up much easier. See how the atomic motion of the microwaves burns a little hole right in their little Peep hearts?
I am writing today wearing a soft, dark purple cap with a fuzzy yellow Peep chick on it. There is also an adorable new Peep mouse pad under my little black mousie. It has pictures of all sorts of holiday peeps decorating it, including a Snowman Peep who is surely a cousin of the ones I blew up in the Nuker. The Peep gifts were a surprise from a dear friend who obviously understands my homicidal tendancies and fascination with gelantinous globs.
I am the Peep Queen.
You may bow before me.
.... or not.