Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Real Time Tuesday

Mash 'Em Healthier

Surely, a derivative of this recipe exists somewhere in the archives of CMI; so please do consider today's post a reminder. Sweets 'n' whites, carrots and garlic shall later be mashed with a touch of Chobani Plain Fat-Free and freshly ground pepper. Work 'em by hand for a light, fluffy result. An electric mixer will turn the dish to lead. My preference is the waffle-head variety. Works for me. Buon Appetito!

Paper Lovin'

It seems that Aubs and I share a love of paper. Who can resist a Sam's Club special, by way of gorgeous tissue papers?! This year's collection surpassed all others, in color and variety. There are a few patterns missing, as my GirlGrand just had to possess them. And then, there are order pads that always sit on the counter, so that G'pa can enhance our lifestyle. Notes. I find notes on them. Loving notes. Can one ever receive too many? This one was left for my pleasure on the day Mambo was groomed. I thought he looked so different; but it seems that a certain beholder's eye saw otherwise. 
As for all the leftover Sam's paper, I've some ideas for Project Day. If they come to successful fruition, 
why of course I'll share. Meanwhile...

I love you, Sugar. Clearly, you color me inspired.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Zucchini 'n' Me

After preparing Mom's homemade Meals On Wheels this morning, I began washing and scrubbing our veggies for tonight's dinner. It was a pleasant surprise to discover the package of baby zucchini I'd purchased at Trader's. I'm reminded of an anecdote that perhaps I've already shared, here on CMI. It's worth retelling, just for the giggle.

Many moons ago, when friend Linda lived just around the corner, she arrived at my front door with an armload of the fruits of her husband's garden labors. Howard loved to share the abundant produce. He once gave me a large baggie filled with cherry tomatoes, meant to share with Joe. I devoured all of them, during the course of my gallivanting, on that particular day. I digress. Back to the topic at hand....

As I held the door for Linda, she entered our foyer and from her arms spilled the universal giant of all zucchinis. It landed on my right big toe. And the rest is history. Once a year, that toenail dies and a new one sprouts... pun intended. If I say that this happened twenty years ago, I don't think I'd be exaggerating. That's a lot of sprouting. 


As for these little ones, they are incredibly delicious raw... what crunch! For a hot veggie, I'll cut off the stems, slice them in half, lengthwise, and sauté with already-caramelized onions (so that crunch remains), fresh garlic, pepper, paprika and a drop of EVOO. If any makes it to tomorrow, I'll toss into an omelet. Endless options.

  It's lookin' like Spring around here.
Buon Appetito. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Aubrey's Sunday GS

Gavin's Sunday GS

Rio Reservoir

We ran away from home, today, heading straight for the serenity of the Rio. Armed with Dunkin' from our newly constructed store, we found the perfect spot for birdwatching. The coffee was long gone and Mambo well into wondering what exactly we were looking for, when we decided to leave. On second thought: "Five more minutes, please, Joe," said I. And as if by cue, there in the distance lurked one lonesome bird of prey, majestic on his well hidden perch. Though rewarding, the experience was a far cry from last winter's visit with Vicki, recorded for all posterity here.
Next Morning Check: It seems that our timing was off. The Eagle Forum tells me that there have been as many as fifteen big birds sighted at this venue. We'll try again.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Rounding Out The Day

With thoughts of Tevye, we covered it all... Sunrise... Sunset... and the In-between. 
Thanks for this gorgeous capture go to Cousin Mary in MA; she enjoys Nature's wonders as much as I. 
It arrived via e-mail, as I was posting Mambo's entry, just below. 
Gotta luv ESP. xo
Saturday's Sunset Photo by Mary C.

A Sunny Day In The Life Of...

It seems that I wore Mambo out, yesterday, with a grooming session that lasted for hours. You'd have thought we went for a marathon run - I was left soaking wet with perspiration and he was exhausted. You see, I'd let his coat grow out, in anticipation of frigid temps and snow-related activities, normally enjoyed this time of year. We're tired of waiting for Old Man Winter and would not welcome him at this late date. I rushed Spring just a tad, by cutting a mountain of insulating hair from his robust body. He looks gorgeous, if I do say so myself.
He multi-tasked two favorite activities... Sleeping 'n' Sunning. All that's missing? Surfing. But there's a "sort-of" palm tree in his midst, to lend a touch of tropical flavor. Gotta luv our adorable pooch. 

Saturday's Fiery Sunrise

Friday, January 27, 2012


Jorge Sr. and Jr. - AP Photo
We'll miss seeing this classy, behind-the-plate face!
Nonetheless, we hope Jorge has a happy retirement.
A favorite Yankee.

Can You Imagine?

My attempts to ignore the weather and speak to other things is failing dismally. How can one not mention 
Mother Nature's dish? Case in point:
This morning, we awakened to frigid temps and the wrath of freezing rain. The Twisted Nut Tree looked delicious with icing... hmmm, sounds like a recipe... 
Branch Of Frosted Twisted Nut.

Our new Superintendent of schools is from Buffalo. In his estimation, our weather is a step away from that of a tropical variety. He doesn't panic. I'm not sure if this is good or bad, 'cause back in the day, my kids would have stayed home. But the forecast did call for rising temps. A two-hour delay was his call, and it turns out that he was correct. We are currently well on our way to the mid fifties.
I'm definitely thinking, "Spring!" And yesterday's trek to Trader's yielded berries... big, fat strawberries from California. That's right. They are not from Chile or such. Maybe they're a hothouse variety; but who cares. 
On the other hand, SoCal has been sporting some incredible temps and sunny skies, this winter. 
There I go, talking weather again. 

The succulent, fruity aroma is outrageous... my cucina perfumed. 
Is winter almost over?
The KidGrands were happy with their after-school snack! 
What you don't see are the accompanying scrambled eggs. 
A G'ma-approved snack.

Dreary Day?

Just aim to please someone you love and those grey skies will brighten.
A green (Gav's favorite color) ball that lights up will help, too. 
An interesting game of Self vs. Self ensued, on the foyer floor.
"I'm winning G'ma." 
Every picture tells a story.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Today's dreary palette, taken from 
the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge
Clearly, this one could be labeled a "Winter Of Grey". For the record, today brought heavy rains that have now turned to ice, with nighttime temps that continue to plummet. 
C'est la vie, eh?
Grey steel, grey road, grey sky and
desperate to shoot, regardless

Idle IDOL Chatter

Okay, we're hot and heavy into the new season. There came a point last night that certainly got my attention away from the games of Word that were simultaneously keeping me busy. IDOL auditions clearly beg for multi-tasking.
I digress. Cracklin Rosie did not sound magical; this guy seriously needs to retire his air guitar. But, hey, any ND is better than no ND. And even virtual time spent in Aspen's beauty is soothing. 
Gonna be a good season.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Add Interest...Not Calories...Potatoes

That nifty apple gizmo I debuted the other day comes in mighty handy. One potato yields a lot of shoestrings and discs. Just line baking sheet with parchment, spritz taters and bake away, at about 300. Give an occasional toss and cook to your preferred crispness. Can't wait to try healthier yams, using the same method. YUM

Eat Cake!

No, I didn't forget.... just thought that Gav should have the total limelight, yesterday. It's tough to share a birthday, when you're only 7. But today I must acknowledge that Mr. D. turned 71, leaving his youthful :-) fans in total disbelief... and CMI turned 3. 
Happy Birthday To Us

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Portrait Of Seven

"Today is a little sad, G'ma." 
"Why is that, Honey?"
"Because now I have to wait a hundred
weeks for my birthday to come again."

Mouths Of Babes

Happy 7th To Our Gavin ♡

"Determination" should be Gavin's middle name! This little boy excels at whatever he loves to do... just don't get in his way. The workings of his mind are almost palpable, as he calculates a method to success. 
It's not enough to do something. Logic matters.

Club overseers have decided to have the kids run mostly slalom gates, this season. Ah, this is no easy task for the young newbies, and lots of disqualifying runs end in spills. But an education in sportsmanship is underlying. A few weeks ago Gav took a tumble, mid-mountain. He simply got up, brushed himself off, and went on to finish the course. No tantrums. No tears. Sheer determination. 
"I can do this!
Recently, he and I engaged in a chat about name-calling and labeling, when kiddie squabbles don't end up as one might wish: 
"When I don't like something you do or say, Gav, do I call you mean names?" 
With a twinkle in his eye, he responded: 
"No, G'ma' you just call me (link) Sweethawt."
We love  you so much, Sweetheart.
Happy, Happy Birthday!
(Thanks to G'pa for standing out in windy, 10-degree conditions to capture these shots.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Venison #8 - Bolognese

The ground venison rendered has been fabulous, as you've heard me repeatedly exclaim. You know what to do for the descendant of Bologna, Italy. If you missed whipping up Sunday's gravy (a little inside reference for my Italian relatives), just make a batch of Monday's sauce and enjoy it all week long. So many dishes to color an inspired shade of red.

Buon Appetito.

So, Have You Ever Seen A Fat Bird?

Hey, it's January... we have to take what we can get for amusement. I'm not speaking here to hormone-laden chickens found in the supermarkets. Don't even get me started. (When was the last time you found a properly skinny chicken?) Here I speak to the effective caloric intake vs. output of our backyard feathered friends. Consider the nuthatch, often mistaken for the chickadee... but look closely.

He flutters to the feeder, G-d only knows how many times. With one seed in his beak, he flies about fifty feet to the nearest fat tree trunk, perched upside down to crack open the prize. Imagine the calories burned for that one little morsel. Multiply times a day's worth of flight. Ambitious birds. We can learn...
Have I mentioned that Ike ate in a similar fashion? He'd go to his bowl, pick up a mouthful of nuggets, walk to the dining room and drop them, and proceed to eat one at a time. Is it any wonder he stayed slim and trim till he died, at thirteen? Sweet pooch. We can learn...

Good Book(s) - Bad Book

Y'all know how much I loved link SARAH'S KEY by Tatiana de Rosnay. Have you had a chance to read it? Fantastic book, chock full of research results about a chunk of history that needs remembering... and all delivered with an analogous and current touch of fiction. A clear 10. But the follow-up by the same author, A SECRET KEPT... ugh... in my opinion, of course. Trite nonsense that tries to bring a fictional old story up to today's standard of (hopefully revised) judgment. So, why did I read (skim) it? 'Cause I bought it for my iPad, in good faith. It won't happen again, believe me. Reviews will count. Of course, there is something to be said for libraries. In contrast...

AN INVISIBLE THREAD by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski is a terrific and inspirational read. A true story, it clearly demonstrates the destined connections we have to each other... and the good that can come from opening our hearts. On a personal note, I'm reminded of my quilting days. In an attempt to connect the threads of my own life, I'd use touches of other handmade items in each gift... a piece of thread or a swatch of fabric. 
I'm also reminded of a song lyric...

"...and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." 
You know who wrote it. 

Now, it's on to EAST OF EDEN... for the third time. I need a fresh dose of Steinbeck; and I adore that book. Yes; I did buy the digital version. It's safe.

Happy Reading.

That's Right!

Edward Burns 'n' Films

Ever since "The Brothers McMullen", I've loved Edward Burns. Soooo, in finding a weekend flick, we chose "Newlyweds", based solely on the fact that it is his independent film in which he stars. What a treat. Very Woody Allen-ish in format. Very E.B. in demeanor and voice. And very true in much of the triteness we like to sport: Marriage is clearly tough enough, without the input of any relatives, and misery clearly loves company. 
Pilfered from video...
Filmed with a shiny, new $3,000 Canon and for only an additional $6,000, the streets of New York become the background for the film. This interview is fabulous and really affords a ton of insight as to just what it is to make a successful Indies movie versus a mega-dollars studio pic. I do not recall having seen "Sidewalks Of New York", as mentioned in the exchange, but I'll seek it out, now.

Be ready for jumpy filming and straight-out chatter... something different that I'm not rating with a number. Oh, and low-budget films come a tad pricier on Pay-Per... FYI. :-)

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Thought I'd take a different approach to the weather, as the sky dribbles what has become a rarity, this winter.
Go to it, Indiana Joe!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Apple Crisps... Or Not

The intent was to make crispy apple slices for Aubs and Gav to snack on. But when Little Missy came bounding in, she said, "Ooooh, I smell apple pie." The fruit was only midway to dry and kind of gushy, but out of the slow, 
250-degree oven they came, to be devoured by the fistful, in all their cinnamon-y glory.

Since then, I've purchased a neat little gizmo for twenty bucks and have discovered that according to oven temps/times and slice-thickness, results can range from soft... to leathery (like dried apricots)... to crispy-dry (like potato chips). All are delicious. Please note that drying time continues if left in oven after turning off.

Prior to baking, don't forget to sprinkle liberally with cinnamon;  its health benefits are endless. We all know it to be an antioxidant... in addition, diabetes sufferers should be consuming it regularly. Please link above.

Yes, I'm cooking a lot, this January. Let me know when y'all are sick of recipes. 
Meanwhile, Buon Appetito. :-)

Mood Lighting

If you haven't splurged on waxy, battery-operated candles, you must! Since decorating after Thanksgiving and through today, ours are going on the same D batteries, set on timers to come on at 4:00 p.m. and turn off at 9. When all was said and done and the house left Christmas-naked, I didn't have the heart to store them. Though the design of ours isn't the prettiest, homes were found in big plants. We like. 
Turn on your heartlights.

Venison #7 - Crock Pot Pot Roast

We've not had luck with venison roasts and did not anticipate such delicious, tender results, "tender" being the operative word.
The Meat, Method 'n' Meal: After thawing a dark-colored cut of venison marked "2.5-lb. roast", I marinated overnight in fridge, using EVOO, balsamic vinegar, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Next morning, I spritzed the crock pot and tossed in the meat (minus marinade), potatoes, onions, carrots and cloves of a large head of garlic. In went a box of strained Pomì tomatoes, balsamic, dried parsley/oregano, and pepper. It simmered till dinnertime, when we devoured it, smothered in sauce and veggies. There was no gaminess, whatsoever, and had others been dining with us, they'd have thought it a lean cut of beef.

Next-Day Meal: With the immersion blender, I sauced the leftover tomatoes and veggies and added very finely minced leftover meat to it. We'll thin it with milk and have as soup or serve as-is over pasta. There's nothing like a twofer-recipe... a worthy addition to our adventures in venison.

Buon Appetito.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Idle IDOL Blurb

Yep, it's another season. Are you ready to endure Joe's and my reversion to teenage-dom? I hope so, 'cause sixteen is sounding mighty pretty, this mid-January, and we're yearnin' for a new idol. I was not a happy camper, with last year's winner. Sorry, Scotty. However...

Opening night? Phillip Phillips. No joke, that is his name. It's one to remember. A dynamite performer and guitar player supreme. And with the mere mention of my favorite instrument, I segue to the fact that...

Hunter took his very first Suzuki guitar lesson, this past weekend. Ask how excited we are to have our future Idol-on-the-rise. 
"So, so what... I am a rock star... I've got my rock moves..." Pink

SpRITZ-y Salmon Almondine

We had a ton of Ritz crackers in the pantry, left from Hunter's last visit. He loves about ten at a time, smothered in cream cheese. Hey, he's a growing boy. In need of a quick breading, the other night, I crushed some with almonds, using a mallet and baggie... no mess. Rinsed fish was dunked into crumbs and placed in a spritzed oven-proof pan. Sliced onions and carrot peels went into all crevices of the pan, along with a few extra crumbs. The salmon was topped with sliced Laughing Cow Light and the whole shebang got a dose of paprika, garlic powder and pepper. After another spritz of EVOO, it went into a 350-degree preheated oven for about 40 minutes. Time depends on thickness and type of fish. Try it and you'll be a kitchen hero(ine)Buon Appetito

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Just Rewards - A Recipe For Mambo

Reading food labels is mandatory. Beyond content, it's important to know conditions fresh-caught or farm-raised endure, before something makes it to our plates and palates. This goes for our pets, too. In an informative blog about waggin' tails (cannot get link to work-will try again), I found this tip for making Chicken Jerky for Mambo. It's outrageously simple, cost-effective, and a good source of protein... an excellent treat for our fabulous canine.

Cut chicken breasts into strips about 1/4" in thickness. Not to worry about perfection. Spritz a pan or piece of foil and slow bake at 200 degrees for a couple of hours. Finished product should be dry and hard, not in any way spongy; bake longer, if necessary. Cut further into the treat-size that you'd like and freeze. Mambo knows what lurks behind that door and shows awesome restraint here, as I capture the moment.

Contented, he wedges all 140 pounds of himself between the slider and table, for a dog's-eye view of his world. Woof!

"M" for Movies - "Midnight In Paris" 'n' "Moneyball"

We just love the quick availability of fabulous movies on Pay-Per. A few weeks back, we watched Woody Allen's effort at midnight. He continues to compete against himself, having set his bar so high, many moons ago. There shall never be quite the same Annie, or a Manhattan that is so intriguing. But "Midnight In Paris" is nothing to scoff at, especially if you've ever entertained the thought of living in a different era. The scenery is to die for... and Owen Wilson in the Woody role is super. But while the movie is pretty-ful to watch, it is one that gets even better in the afterthought. The man remains a genius. Maybe a "5" to watch; but a "10" to think about.

A clear, all-around "10" is "Moneyball". Never shall I watch our beloved baseball through the same eyes. Brad is positively brilliant in the role of Billy Beane, whose real-life story is the premise for the film. Knowing the sport definitely helps one in absorbing the detailed business aspect of the film; but human nature prevails for all. I saw a lot of Redford-isms in Brad... that's okay! I miss RR Superstar onscreen; Brad repeatedly proves himself a keeper. Both films sport excellent supporting casts.

Back With A Vat - Silken Soup

This Photo by G'pa Joe...Enhancement by 
Moi 'n' PhotoShop
Winter has sort of struck... we've had some freezing temps during which the "real" heat kicked in to help the infrareds along. Um, 7 degrees (not counting the wind chill) on race-day Sunday. And there was a light dusting. The ski area is covered enough to allow for gates and such. Snowmakers kick on as soon as temps plummet. But then, we seem to find the forties again, as shall be the case today. Clearly stuff for comment. Whatever. It's January, and in January we eat soup. There's an analogy here. Gran used to look at the clock, and if it was noon, it was lunchtime... didn't matter if she'd eaten breakfast an hour earlier... lunchtime was lunchtime, after all. Ooooh-kay, it's time for minestra, heatwave or not. The first vat of the year turned out so delicious. It's a derivative of a derivative, but here ya go:
Silken Butternut 'n' Chicken Soup
For soup, I like to leave the skin on the bird, guaranteeing depth of flavor and gelatinous results. Thing is, it has to be carefully skimmed to remove all fat in finished product. So, with all parts of a whole chicken, except for breasts (wings in pot), a mega-sized butternut squash, leftover mashed potatoes, a boatload of garlic, a hunk of ginger, onion, carrots and celery, I put up a vat of soup. The dark meat can never cook for too long. When it had simmered enough to blend flavors of all varieties, I put the breasts on top of the liquid and allowed them to gently poach. Then, I removed the solids to a plate and strained the liquid, ridding it of tiny bone fragments, and skimmed the top. Back in went all veggies, except for the celery (too stringy, so toss it). A good hit with the immersion blender turned everything creamy. I shredded the dark meat back into it. 

While the soup bubbled away, I'd prepared jasmine rice and barley, together in the rice cooker. I'd also broken some angel hair and boiled to al dente. I tossed all three into the soup for some interesting taste and texture... finished with lots of pepper and parsley. 

Ooh la la! A dollop of Chobani fat-free plain and we were ready to dine. White meat made awesome salad for another day. 
Buon Appetito.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Yesterday's mail brought a fabulous surprise, by way of a New Year's greeting card bearing fantastic photos of second and third generation friends. 
"Nice idea," thought I. 
And today? Two more arrived. Next year, I just might adopt this trend... holiday warmth feels especially delicious on a cold January day. 

Love you, Sweetie... you're a constant in our thoughts and prayers.

Happy 8th To Our Hunter ♥

When we walked into the Old Homestead, last week, Hunter exclaimed, "I love this house!" And so goes his wide-eyed wonder and exuberance for everyone and everything. 

Yep, when we tucked him in that night, already he had his morning game plan in mind. "What time am I allowed to get out of bed, G'ma?" With permission to use anything in his Daddy's former desk, six a.m. finds him busy drawing, writing, punching, stamping, cutting. Ultimately, envelopes of varying sizes are filled with very cool stories and incredible sentiments, to be gifted to family members. Joe and I love to lie in bed and listen, as he whispers - or so he thinks - instructions to Little Sis in what is considered to be a game of school. The moment we stir, it's a signal to kick into high gear. 
Where's the action?

Imagination rules. Food and drink fuel. Energy levels abound. Choices are endless. Music is magic. Squabbles occur. Hugs heal. Love prevails. Whew. It's no wonder he's ready to write another story, by the time it's bath-time.

Eight! We can't believe it! This little love of ours is clearly sunshine personified. 

We love you, Hunter J.... 
More than words can say!! 
Happy Birthday, Little Man!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Two Days Later:
There have been a few inquiries as to just how I captured these bird pics, the other day. Here ya go:
Our living room is elevated and boasts huge picture windows at each end. The back view encompasses the feeders. We keep the glass sparkly, thus allowing me to shoot right through it. Santa thought I needed a tripod to lend professionalism to my results, when I choose to use my largest lens. It works like a charm. With it set up to go for the prize, I don't lose time hoisting the camera. I can zoom and focus with no wiggling. Gorgeous results, I think. 
Hope y'all like feathers.