Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Sorry, Josh, but MELANIE AMARO brought it home on Michael Jackson Night, in the presence of his three children, three of his brothers, and his beautiful Mom, Katherine. What a gorgeous rendition of "Earth Song", one of my favorites from MJ and already posted somewhere in the depths of CMI. My runner-up is Astro, with his powerful message, via "Black Or White". Two to be eliminated, tomorrow.
TOMORROW: Astro received the lowest number of votes and went home. Drew lost the save-me sing-off to Marcus and also went home. Down to five. Added 12/1

And here's Josh, with "Dirty Diana"... a leap from his comfort zone:

They Know

For several decades now, a little black sign has resided on the inside of a kitchen cabinet door. It reads, "Mom's Kitchen". It was thought of and designed by Brian and Christian, their very first project made on their very first, little red computer. Another Christmas long past. However....

Just the other day, Gavin designed and painted the new and updated version of identification. How cute. "G'ma, you have to put this IN THE KITCHEN." 

Lovin' my boys. What's that about the way to a man's ...??

Breakfast With Neil Diamond...

.....Real Time "Today Show"

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stuffing Waffles - A Rachael Ray Tip

Picked up this great hint from Rachael Ray, last week... wish I'd remembered to post sooner. Spray or butter your waffle maker and push leftover stuffing into bottom wells; close lid and toast away. Use resulting "waffles" for amazing poultry/cranberry sandwiches. Though I didn't try it yet, it's easy to call this one a keeper. Thanks, R.R.

Venison #1 - Sliders

When we were pregnant with Brian, we found ourselves traveling behind a chicken truck for many, many miles. I didn't touch poultry for several years, after that experience. This sums up my on again-off again relationship with most meats, especially venison. I'm okay with it, this year. Don't ask why. There is no rationalization here, except to say that I didn't physically see Bucky. Since I'm the resident chef, I generally make the decision: Do we turn the big freezer on, or not? I did "allow" Joe to have his victim butchered (for us), this year. My instructions were explicit, as to how....

Venison is extremely lean, with only 180 calories in 4 ounces of meat. Its health benefits are excellent and can be perused here. Many butchers add a boatload of fatty pork or beef to ground product, nullifying all the good. I totally nixed that, requesting a lot of pure, unadulterated chopped meat, as well as the best-of steaks and just a couple roasts, something I've not had tremendous luck with, in the past. First meal, tonight... oven-baked sliders from a darker, select cut (please see linked article).

Nothing really too new in technique, here. In a large baggie, I blended together a pound of meat, an egg, 2 wedges of Laughing Cow Light, a small hit of EVOO, parsley, pepper, and my very own breadcrumbs, processed with sun-dried tomatoes and fresh garlic. I formed into large balls, rolled in more crumbs and pressed slightly to form sliders, after they were in the pan. I smothered with onions and carrots, added cooking spray, paprika, pepper and garlic powder. 

Bri, if you're reading, I popped them into a 500-degree oven to sear for about 10 minutes and then lowered to 350 for about another 25 minutes (medium rare). Juicy! Your camp chef knows his stuff; we need more of his big-game hints. Oh, and Bri, regarding how time flies ("...halfway to 18..."), check out the date on the mugs you and Christian gifted us, many Christmas moons ago.
Venison #1 was successful and easy, especially using a throwaway pan. It's that non-stop time of year, when every waking second counts... we needed some iron.

Buon Appetito.

For Kelly~Congratulations!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


"When a story is TOLD, it is not forgotten.

"Sarah's Key", the movie, scored our highest *10* rating. The book was so amazing. It's satisfying to see it translated to the screen with relative accuracy. The use of subtitles was absolutely necessary for a large part of the film; they were clearly executed, lending proper authenticity. Its message is loud and clear: We must not forget.

Highly recommended, in both book (preferably first) and movie formats. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Josh Krajcik In No Particular Order

Stats tell me that posts about my favorite X-contestant have drawn attention from the following places:
Missouri-New Jersey-Alabama-Virginia-Oregon-California
North Carolina-Michigan-Georgia-North Dakota-Colorado
Minnesota-Illinois-Texas-Mississippi-Washington (State) 
Ohio-New York-Pennsylvania-Arizona-Florida

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks With Silly L♥ve

Today With Love To All ♡

The utter simplicity of this bread never ceases to amaze me. Flour, water, yeast and salt, growing and bubbling together to ultimately bake into something delicious, as it fills a home with the most desirable aromas imaginable. Granted, its nutritional value is negligible, unless you consider it food for the soul, as do I.
It is crushing to think of all the hungry in America - in the World. How can a child whose tummy is growling in pain find beauty in a rose or a sunset? The simple things in life. I hold those who hurt in my heart, today and always, as I cherish our own Babes - growing fast, bubbling with glee and filling our hearts with delicious, delirious love. Food for the soul.

It is with enormous gratitude that I look forward to sharing our day with blended family, as memories of missing loved ones and holidays gone by flutter about in my mind... a beautiful tradition, set aside as a reminder to...

Give Thanks. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Our Reader Of The Month ♥

Photo by Bri

The Midnight Hour

Eight-to-eleven is a lot of TV for me. Performances by Josh and J.R. were energizing. Though Joe agrees that my guy clearly has the X Factor, he is nonetheless amazed by my total infatuation with every note sung and played. What emotion! Yep, I was wired and with Joe passed out in his chair, what better to do? 

Turkey parts were on my mind, so up went a huge pot of soup. Actually, I don't recommend this. Appealing afternoon cooking aromas are lost in dreamland, where they become strong and gross. However, I was rewarded this morning, when only finishing techniques remained to be done. This batch shall have barley added, cooked separately so as not to absorb every ounce of moisture.

Also put up at the midnight hour were a couple no-knead breads for tomorrow. The dough needs many more hours to be ready for the oven; so for now, it's on to cupcakes. It's only ten-thirty a.m., but I'm workin' on seven hours of sleep. YAY! And it's pouring rain, outside. Where better to be than my warm and cozy kitchen, making the world taste better? Buon Appetito.


After Josh Krajcik sent me to the moon, we clicked over to watch the remainder of "Dancing". Quite the finale; has there ever been a more worthy winner? J.R. radiates an inner beauty that becomes tangible on his face - and he can dance! Teamed with innovative Karina, it was a win-win deal, from the start. Congratulations to the dynamic duo. 

Click, click... see y'all next year.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Josh Krajcik, Josh Krajcik, Josh Krajcik, Josh Krajcik, Josh Krajcik, Josh...

OMG, what an amazing rendition of "Wild Horses", as he accompanied himself on piano. SPELLBINDING performance, dedicated to his daughter. Tigger, this one's for you. 

Nikon Issue - FYI

Yesterday, my camera froze. I shoot with a Nikon D90. Though my battery has never, ever been completely depleted, its icon was flashing. So, I fully charged it and reinserted. Nada. Camera still frozen. This made me nervous, till I Googled the issue. Two attempts at the right wording produced a result: "Media card is either corrupted or not properly installed." I'd never have guessed this and bless the ease with which I find so many answers. In days gone by, I'd have sought a repair. Hope this helps someone out there.

Talkin' Turkey

Bri 'n' Kell are doing up one huge Tom, but still we need a bird to nosh on during the long weekend ahead. We love fresh turkey and try to eat it year round, though it's becoming tough to find during non-holiday months. I can handle a 15-pounder, perfect for cutting away drumsticks, back and giblets for soup, leaving the breast and wings intact for roasting next to the thighs. Parts can be frozen raw, as can cooked meat from a fresh bird, an advantage over using a frozen one.

When I entertain a mob and need a heavier bird, I have the butcher do the prep. Then, I roast the legs, too... my brother's first choice. This method radically cuts down cooking time and... more importantly... allows the dark meat to cook thoroughly without drying out the white meat. In this case, soup is made from the frame and leftovers.

An alternative to cooking a giant is to buy two smaller turkeys... an awesome way to have plenty of satisfied guests who yearn for particular body parts (sorry... couldn't resist). I am fortunate to have beautiful double ovens; so this is the choice I prefer. Of course, none of the above works if you just must have Big Browned Bird for presentation. 

To Note: Stuffing (dressing) is always cooked separately, here at the old homestead. Also, if you do buy fresh, slit it open asap to assure that freshness. We had a nasty episode with two Shady Brooks, this past weekend. It was not the fault of the brand, but rather the inadequate refrigeration at the vendor's. Locals may contact me for further info. We found the same brand elsewhere, well chilled and sweet-smelling.

Coming Up For Air 'n' Food

What a day! In the middle of scooting between this job 'n' that, UPS arrived with many of my online Christmas orders. How lucky for Charlie, our regular driver, to have had the day off. His replacement needed a hand-truck, for today's deliveries!

Once I'd opened, checked, approved and hidden Santa's choices, it was back to the kitchen. Pie-time is almost here; it's time to think "crust". Three-for-a-dollar tin pie plates were necessary for variety and transport. It's totally outside of the proverbial box for me to use such flimsy vehicles; so, I decided to pre-bake the dough. I'm quite pleased with the results... though let it be said that we'll call the look "rustic". Aesthetic perfection is clearly lacking on edges. Whatever! Here's my all-time favorite recipe, possibly a repeat on CMI:
2 Cups All-Purpose Unbleached Flour plus 1 Teaspoon Salt, mixed in a bowl
1/2 Cups Crisco (or similar) Oil plus 5 Tablespoons Iced Water, combined
Add liquid to flour and quickly mixed with a fork till combined. That's it for moist, easy-to-handle dough...

Divide and roll between waxed paper till nice and thin. Peel away top paper and invert into pie plate. Then peel away remaining paper. Freeze raw, or...

Using a fork, poke holes in dough and bake at 400 degrees for ten minutes. Cool, stack, cover and freeze. This really only works well for open pies that do not need sealing. However, you can always do a lattice top, using leftover raw dough. Picture 6 is of a baked result taken out of the pan, showing how nicely it set up. Be sure to adjust baking temps and times. For example, pumpkin in an unbaked shell starts in a high oven, unnecessary here. Concentrate more on having the filling set properly. For an incredibly fast fruit pie, filling can be slightly cooked, beforehand... a huge timesaver. 
TO NOTE: This is the way to go! Crusts stay amazingly crisp, even after filling is baked and pies are refrigerated.  Added 12/2

We're Shrinking

Have you heard the news, today? My all-time favorite topic of discussion has undergone a Facelift-via-Facebook. The results? Our degrees of separation have decreased. We're down to 4.74 degrees from the original 6. Uh-huh. Now go figure how we divvy up to 4-point-74. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Filter Flowers With A Twist

Bri 'n' Kell are hosting our day of thanks this year, allowing me extra time to pursue winter decorating. Up today is Gran's bowl, already containing Silver Dollars that she inspired. 
I added coffee filter flowers, fun to make from small, cone-shaped filters, assembled pre-dying. I cut, fashioned, twisted and stapled, before smothering in red acrylic paint. After a few dunks and scrunches, I fluffed out to dry. They nestled quite easily into the bowl, with just a few needing stems (wooden skewers) for height. The shading from dark to nearly white is not quite that of Christmas reds, but is in keeping with a few less traditional decorating ideas I've in mind.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

22 + 44 + 3 = Day 1

Fuzzy Self-Portrait
Great White Hunter hit testosterone-laden woods very early this morning, for opening day of deer season. He was quiet as a church mouse and did not interrupt my REM dream-sleep, upon arising at 5:00 a.m. There are advantages to having extra, empty-nest bedrooms. Problem is, he was bored by 7:00 a.m., already feeling cramped in his - ahem - tree hut. And thus began my day, with his first incoming photo and text, "Thank you 4 the coffee." Gratitude for my having set up the pot. Okay, that's sweet. Then, "No deer - just a moth." Followed by, "A woodpecker has joined me." Et cetera. After #21, I responded, "I'm trying to read. NO MORE!" No big deal; he just continued on to 44 of the same with Bri, who resided in a heated hut several miles through the woods (a right turn by the bear scat and several steps to the left of the huge hemlock tree). When their chatter subsided, Dawn factored in with 3 more photo-texts of Chloe at gymnastics. Moral of the comfy, cozy saga: May Bucky R.I.P. Who would believe?

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Grand Day

Someone was playing with my iPad

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Beautiful Night Stalker

Photo Credit to Bri

The Land Of Oz - A Recipe

Yesterday, I noted a few tidbits from the backdrop noise of Rachel Ray's show. (1) Most cooking errors can be remedied, but burnt food can't be saved. True. (2) Never try new recipes on holidays. Nonsense. (3) We will be unhealthy, dull and unproductive, without seven hours of sleep a night. Uh-huh.

Dr. Oz was her guest. He said that given a seven-hour time slot and the choice of one of two things to do, choose sleep over exercise. Yep, it's true. Exercise is important, but sleep is mandatory. Wonder what he'd say about my awakening at 2:30 a.m.

I gave it an hour of clock-watching and tried a cup of chamomile tea - it wired me further. By 4:00, laundry was sloshing and the crock pot was filled with a bird and veggies, for soup. By 5:00, I had carrot-cranberry cakes in the oven. By 6:30, soup was bubbling, clothes were folded and baked goods were cooling. Now it's 7:30 a.m., my typical hour for blogging.
This (link) carrot cake recipe is foolproof. It is outrageously flexible and beyond decadent... no low-cal subs here. Last time, I added golden raisins and topped with rather mistakenly soggy icing and berries. This time, I chose to make cupcakes for ease of serving to a mini-mob on Thanksgiving Day, when I'll frost the freezer-fresh confections. What I added to the batter, instead of raisins:

FIVE ounces of DRIED Cranberries from Trader's that had been brought to a simmer in about a quarter-cup of liquid consisting of apricot brandy and orange juice. I let it sit while the rest of the ingredients were in the works and added last, WITH the liquid... yum. 

It's now 7:46 a.m., and I taste-tested. Moist beyond belief. Do try something different; it might be a recipe for success. But in the name of tradition, up next are apple and pumpkin pies. I'm thinking cake pops for the kids... they'll  the surprise.

Man, I'm pooped. Does Oz-Man have a recipe for sleepin'?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


So, my guy Josh Krajcik is the only one who really got the rock 'n' roll genre right with "The Pretender". He did the Foo Fighters proud in clearly winning the night, though the distracting glare of overdone stage lights drove me a tad nuts. I've gotta say, too, that Astro won my heart, tonight. Fifteen. Where does his confidence and poise come from? Fantastic kid. I'm in love. Who is going home? There are two acts that the show can move on without - we shall see which one leaves. Paula just might be left jobless.

11/17  Addendum - Ah, I was fooled. Fifteen is what it is, for young boys. I remember well those years so tender, when the boys were growing up. Astro nearly crumbled under the pressure of almost being sent home. He was saved by the judges, but only after receiving a much deserved lesson in humility and gratitude. He'll be okay. Meanwhile, Paula's team is in for another week. The right girl went home. Josh is singin' strong.

Max ♥

Thanks, Corey... love you.

A Fish Story

'Tis the season for this online shopper. Be careful, if you enjoy the sport! One of my favorite sources is constantly making errors. I'm not interested in damaging a reputation; so, e-mail me for details and further ways to save.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Just A Valance?

Our imaginary job jar is filled to the brim with reminders of incidentals in need of completion. I question the "in need of". But hey, the Holidays are coming. They don't just happen, like other dates on the calendar. They are endlessly prepared for. Revered. Worried about. Celebrated. Fussed over. Rightfully so, I think, because then, they are remembered... cherished...
Many, many moons ago, we had a Venezuelan guest at our Christmas table. He was very ill and seeking medical opinions in the States. Our neighbor's daughter was married to his brother, and the entire family was invited to join in our festivities. The language barrier did not hinder our time together. I remember well the warmth, so easily exchanged. Seems like yesterday...

 Sometime after he returned to South America, I received a package from his Mom. With the finest of threads, she'd intricately crocheted the most magnificent table runner I'd ever seen. She explained via interpretation that she appreciated our hospitality towards her Son. Anyone would have done the same and I certainly didn't feel deserving of such a special gift. But I understood her expression well. When someone is kind to our children, we are eternally in his or her debt. Universal are the sentiments of motherhood. Her beautiful Son died, shortly after that loving gesture. Her token became my treasure, by which to remember someone who touched our lives, sweetly, bravely, and far too briefly...

The runner adorned our dining room table for decades, till I changed "the look", after which it was tucked away. This morning, in anticipation of dolling up the downstairs half-bath, I searched for adornments. There it was in the linen closet, pristine and waiting. Hey, why not? It's beautiful. It deserves to be enjoyed. The memories it holds are treasures. Clearly not just an anything. Certainly not just a valance. 

Remembering Hugo and his Mom. ♥

Monday, November 14, 2011

Song Sung Solitary

Well, it's back to basement basics. It's a rainy day. It's hunting season. It's dangerous to take Mambo on the road, 'cause some city person might mistake him for a coveted bear. Ugh. I've no excuses - the treadmill beckons. 
Ah, the loneliness of the long-distance runner. Believe that one and I'll tell you more. You see, I'm hangin' with some pretty good company, kicking off on Saturday with none other than Don and Phil, the Everly Brothers. 
Today, I was anxious to hit the rubber again, so as to thank Australia. I've the second half of that gig to look forward to, tomorrow. Yep, a date with Neil, who sure did have his swagger on, back in '76. Black leather combined with bright yellow suited him well. And he was mighty chatty. Youth was on our side.

Elvis, Neil Young and U2 are awaiting their turns. Then, I'll run with movie stars - Redford, Bridges, Streisand, Deniro... it's a long winter. I think we put the big screen in the wrong room. Joe, are you reading? If we arise at 4:00 a.m. on Black Friday, Sam's has a deal you won't believe.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


There is too much temptation on TV, in the Fall. People keep tossing recommendations my way; but I just can't buy into more and more series. I know, I know... modern families are fabulous, and the prohibition is interesting. No, thanks. I'll stick with a very good wife, an X'd Josh Krajcik and on-demand (link) bucking documentaries or movies. Having said all that, it is hunting season and I'm an early riser. Soooooo, I found myself "Enlightened", this Sunday morning, and totally contradicted myself by catching up with the new HBO series. It stars mother and daughter, Diane Ladd and Laura Dern, as... well... as mother and daughter. Good show. Contemporary issues. The human condition. So, with tongue in cheek, I recommend it to you... just what you need, right?

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Aubrey's Day! NINE! How is that possible? All we did was blink!! When she saw the numeral 9 I'd shaped with cupcakes, she said, "G'ma, I remember when you made me the 7 cake." PreciselyWasn't that just yesterday? 

Our Girl is a beauty, both inside and out... sensitive and caring, smart and sassy, and dynamite on the soccer field and ski hill. 
We love you, Sugar!! Here's to Peace and Pandora and Precious You. Have fun at your Part-Two Party. 

Aubrey's Moon For Dreaming Upon

Friday, November 11, 2011


Clearly, it is a rare set of calendar numbers that will not recur for 100 years. It is, however, one that coincides with the signing of the Armistice that ended the first World War. That happened on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Swap an hour for a year, and we've got today's Veterans Day. Hey, what better time than 5:00 a.m. to relearn American history? And did you know...

...that then President Woodrow Wilson invited 2,000 returning soldiers to the White House for a "home cooked" meal of the then popular canned raviolis. I can feel Gran's disapproval at the "canned" part... but hey, even she would admit that hand cutting in the multi-thousands would be a tad taxing. Food was important to President Wilson, and rightfully so. I'd agree with his comment, "Hunger breeds madness," made in empathy with our service people who had endured horrific conditions. He'd be elated to know that Applebees served over a million free meals to past and present Veterans, on last November 11th - just one of many chain restaurants honoring our military personnel.

So here we are, 11/11/11, a day for raising flags with immense gratitude extended to all service people, past and present, who protect freedom, so cherished... and to those whose lives were lost - never forgotten.

PEACE.... it remains.... a good idea.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The X-Heat Is ON

Eleven contestants ranging in age from 13 to 60 had us oohing and aahing, tonight. With an amazing Joe Cocker-style performance of the Beatles' "A Little Help From My Friends", Josh Krajcik remains my personal, whole-package favorite. But the competition is astounding. Next-in-line picks are abundant.

Saucy Salmon Faux Lasagna

This was delicious. No joke. And though I recall having posted a somewhat similar recipe sometime back, this has to be better.

I had more of that puréed veggie-tomato sauce and used it to layer a few Barilla no-boil lasagna noodles (break them, if necessary) around frozen salmon fillets, with a layer of Chobani plain fat-free and a couple Laughing Cow light wedges, in between. I topped with noodles, sauce, sliced onion and breadcrumbs... seasoned with dried parsley, oregano and freshly ground pepper. A spritz of EVOO before baking, uncovered, at 325 degrees for one hour; no need to preheat. 

Buon Appetito.

No Worse For The Wear

Ike lucked out in taking up residency with Mom, when we needed to leave him. They were about the same age and enjoyed commiserating, together. :-) Though Mambo more often than not vacations with us, we've needed to kennel him, the past two weekends. I worried unnecessarily. We've been told that he chose a pal to hang out with and spent several days "...under my armpit...," said he. Have to laugh, as I know that arm-jolting nudge quite well.This is great to know. Other than needing a quick bath, he was fine. Now, a good brushing will return his undeniable beauty. Hey, it's good to be back home again...

MJ - The Verdict

Early in the trial, I opined here. The verdict is in. There were many other abettors in the long road that was Michael's addiction. Perhaps they could not have stopped him... certainly, they could have said "No!" to deadly requests. But money talks.

Whatever the perspective, it's tragic all around. It is a good thing, in my opinion, that Conrad Murray will no longer practice medicine. The jury has sent the proper message; I am pleased.

Rest in peace, Michael.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Penn and Paterno Power Plays

This mother of precious sons trusted NO ONE, when our boys were growing up, until credentials and intentions were endlessly scrutinized. And still, we WATCHED. At one point, we rightfully suspected a high school teacher/adviser of criminal wrongdoing. A lot of damage was done to young members of the community, before our cause gathered steam and action was taken. Parents are easily snowed, when they think their kids are getting extra attention from those deemed "important". What a bunch of BS... our kids need to be loomed over constantly, in order to protect them against the ever-growing varieties of harm that might come their way... the makings of nightmares.

HOW can something like this go on for so long at Penn State, with so many KNOWING and nothing being done to stop it? Fifteen years and eight (maybe) boys/families. Too much damage done. But now, it is clearly time to shake up the system and bring 'em down. 

Color Me Freakin' Maddened and Saddened.


The gorgeous weather continues. Check out the temps that brought me back outside to do some serious "spring" clean-up in our gardens! 
Stay for just a while
Stay and let me look at you... ND


We were long overdue to shuffle off to Buffalo, our last plan thwarted by none other than the flu. C 'n' D's anniversary "gift of nights" certainly inspired us to make up for lost time. Thanks so much, Children. What a beautiful place to stay!! 

After a bit of waffling over which weekend to travel, our choice of the one past afforded us several consecutive days of magnificent fall warmth and sunshine, with an hour gained, thanks to daylight savings. Many miles of farmland sparkled under painted skies.
Nicole worked her way home, a fact that thrilled us to no end. We visited adorable Maddy at work, and waited for her stint to end, so that she could join us for an outing. Good ole Dale knows all the haunts and took us to a lakeside restaurant that he recently discovered. Yummy cuisine and company. 
It seems that none of us ingested quite enough beach, last summer. So, in between far too many meals, we enjoyed the vast beauty of Lake Erie. We are totally compatible relatives-friends, in our desire to craft stories about nothing, à la Seinfeld, in settings that include sun, sand and surf.
Sunsets over that big body of water glisten intensely. How cool to witness it and then turn to see the moon rising... a constant source of intrigue. 
A quick stop at our eighth-floor suite allowed us to enjoy the last glimmer of orange over the lake, before heading to 2424 for Bonnie's lasagna and the girls' tiramisu and apple pie. 

On the way home, we captured Old Sol yet again, this time settling in over the mountaintops. Yep, a change of terrain told us that Monti was fast approaching. We had a great time and made more memories to cherish... till the next visit, that is! Here's to Cool Cousins.