Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Great Summer Reading

I just finished "Such A Pretty Fat" by Jen Lancaster, and I have to say that I haven't laughed so much in a while. This is the third book she has written, and belive me, as soon as I finished it I hopped onto Amazon and ordered the other three.

The background story is that Jen is a fat ( but very pretty) writer who needs to write something spectacular to sell. Well, she accepted a contract ( and advance) on a book about her own personal weight loss journey. Only glitch, she hadn't started the journey. This hilarious accounting of her diet failures (and success) and her loathing for her personal trainer pretty much kept me awake laughing a couple of nights this week. She is really candid ( and quite acidic at times) about her feelings for Jenny Craig, and Weight Watcher's, and birthday cake.

If you have ever been on a diet and need a little bit of humor to help you avoid the pies in your life, get these from the library. They have 'em, but if you can't find 'em....Amazon has them, and so does Target, Book-A-Millon, and the ever popular Borders and Barnes and Nobles.
(Watch out for Borders and Barnes and Nobles because they have those coffee shops with the most awesome pastries and sandwiches ever.)

Jen's website is www.jennsylvania.com She blogs regularly and is just as funny there as she is in her books.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lulu's L.A. Caviar , aka Black Eyed Pea Salad


3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup splenda (Lucy uses sugar, but in my world, we gotta substitute. )
2 teaspoons salt - kosher is best
1 teaspoon coursely ground black pepper
1 tsp GREEN tabasco sauce (or Lulu's Clearly Crazy hot sauce - don't use Lulu's green sauce unless you want a chemical peel on your tongue. Lucy's recipe doesn't have this in it, but since I use Splenda, I added it to add a little zing)

Peas and Veggies Mixture:
4- 15-ounce cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped red onion
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar; cover tightly and shake vigorously to dissolve splenda ( or sugar) Set aside. Place peas in a large glass or stainless-steel bowl. Add all bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and parsley. Pour dressing over top and toss well. Transfer to a plastic container, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve with tortilla chips or saltine crackers.

1. If you are making this ahead of time to take to a gathering, I would leave the bell peppers in a separate container until about an hour before you leave to go. The balsamic seems to zap the colors of the beautiful peppers a bit if left in the dressing over night. The peas, on the other hand, seem to be even better when left to wallow overnight.
2. I have had thoughts about adding a tsp of finely minced jalapeno and leaving out the hot sauce. I haven't done it yet, but I may in the future.
3. If your grocery doesn' t keep the fancy colored peppers, don't sweat it. Just use the green ones and use extra cherry tomatoes. This time I used a whole green bell pepper and a whole yellow one and just added some extra tomato to balance out the color.
4. I use Bush's purple hull peas when I make this because I feel like they hold up the best. Be careful and read the label on your peas because you can get canned, cooked DRIED peas and they are a totally different texture. If you have fresh or frozen peas, just simmer in some salted water with a couple of boullion cubes til tender. Best ever is with fresh peas.
5. Use good Balsamic and olive oil. It does make a difference, so skip the $1.99 bottles and get the good quality stuff. You will be able to use it in other things. This dressing is good on a spinach salad with pecans, apple , red onion, and gorgonzola or feta cheese. ( Try it)
6. I made this for the family reunion yesterday, and brought home the leftovers. Today I had a couple of tablespoons of it in a whole wheat pita with one grilled chicken tender and some spring salad greens. Yummy!

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Posted by Picasa

pretty children

Posted by Picasa

Kids at the Reunion

There is a really spooky overgrown creek directly behind the little church lots of interesting trees and such. This tree had a HUGE vine thing growing into it........looks like something out of Harry Potter!
Posted by Picasa

Family Reunion 2009

My Daddy comes from a big family one generation back. I guess it is still big, but no one has the big families like they once did, so the reunion has become smaller. This year, it was held near the old home place at the church where "the brothers and sisters" all went as youngsters. I knew it was country, but when we found the county road sign and turned off the two-lane balck top onto this, I thought surely we had gone astray.
As we rode along, it got a little denser and I figured we would have to turn around.

Then it opened up and we were right where we were supposed to be. Beautiful, huh?

My kids had no idea who most of the people there were, but they make connections fast. Here they are with my great-aunt, one of the two remaining "brothers and sisters." There were a whole lot of them, 13 I think.
Of course, the reunion is about two things, visitin' and eatin'. There was a LOT of yummy stuff and thankfully someone made a big pot of spaghetti so that my veggie eschewing son would be able to eat.
Oh the front porch of the church.
They are old enough to hang with the big kids now.

How often do you see something as old-fashioned as this anymore? I love it.
Here is the sanctuary. I was standing in the door, so the pew at the bottom of the picture is the very back row. No unobserved snoozing going on during the sermon in here I'll bet.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Something strange has happened.....

Those precious babies who used to wake up smiling early in the morning, ready to snuggle with Mama have turned into big kids who sleep late and get up staggering around getting their own juice and making their own breakfast. I know that they have to grow up, but does it have to happen so fast?
She will get me for this one some day.

Official Taster for Mississippi Monkey Shines

At my new work, there are quite few people who will willingly take a sample of all the new things I am cooking, but James here is the "Official taster." He will drop EVERYTHING to get a bowlful of whatever. This day, it was the Calamondin Pie.

The tartness didn't deter James.....he gave it a thumbs up, so I guess I'll add it to the book.

I saved some seeds to try and grow a tree here in the kitchen. From what I have read, it can be done. It is a long shot, but I might be able to get it going this summer. If not, I might just have to make another trip down to Orange Beach/Gulf Shores next summer ( or this summer) and get some more. It is a real hardship, but I might just have to do it! ;)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Website Picture

Here is the picture that we will be putting on the clinic's website. I had to crop it a little because I had on capri pants and the lower part of my legs was hanging out and unfortunately they are ghastly white and I had on bright blue CROC primas.

So far, the new job has been going very well, I think. The support staff might feel differently, but I'm sure as long as the cakes and pies keep showing up once in a while, they will continue to do my dirty work! Next week they get something chocolate, so they ought ot be happy!
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Calamondin Pie

The little sour oranges are so beautiful.....the color in incredible, but the taste........
...is VERY sour! The boy of this family LOVES sour things ( he can eat those super sour gummies at lightning speed) and he had a hard time with these.

Funny thing is , the more of them you eat, the less sensitized you become to the sour and you can start to taste the orange/tangerine flavor. The girl wouldn't be still long enough for me to get a snap of her sour face.

To make the pie, I think I juiced about 20 of them to give just over a cup of juice. The best method was to just cut them in half and squeeze them over a mesh strainer , then mash with the back of a spoon to extract every drop. The peel is very loose and thin, but they are hard to peel because they are so small and the peel tears very easily.

So, for the pie I figured to make it just like I would a lemon icebox pie. Here is what you need:
1. 1 bag or box of vanilla wafers
2. 1 stick of butter, melted
3. 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk
4. 6 egg yolks
5. 1 cup of juice ( this time it was calamondin, but you could use lemon or lime)

Smash up the vanilla wafers and mix with the butter, then press into the bottom of your pie pan. This one happens to be a very deep dish, round one, but you could do it easily in a 9x13 glass pan. Refrigerate until filling is done. ( Save out enough vanilla wafers to stand up around the edgef of the pie if you like. ) This will likely make more crumb than you need.
Then beat the egg yolks until they are light and thickened. Add both cans of sweetened condensed milk and the juice. Mix well. I used my KitchenAid, but a hand mixer,or even a wire whisk would do fine.
Pour the filling into the prepared crust. You can stand a row of vanilla wafers around the edge if you like, but I didn't in this one because I forgot to save any out when I beat them all with the mallet for the crust. Bake for about 15 minutes at 325. It won't be completely set, but it will firm up in the refrigerator.
There it is right out of the oven. For garnish, you could put a handful of cookie crumbs on top if you didn't bang them all up like I did. If you saved the egg whites, you could whip up a little meringue and plop on top, but I don't like meringue, so it doesn't happen at my house. A glob of whipped cream or Cool Whip would do it just fine.
I'll have to let you know tomorrow how it turned out since I can't eat it and the people here aren't fair critics. I'll take it to work and see if it can pass muster there. If so, I'm juicing the rest of these buggers tomorrow night!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pecan Grove Ponies

Thanks to my GPS, I was directed to take a state highway instead of the interstate to get to the beach from Fairhope. There are pecan farms all along the highway, and this particular one was grazing horses under the trees. I drove past it this morning and didn't see this many, but this afternoon they were all by the road, so I pulled over and snapped a few shots. There was a huge barn with a lot of trailers and trucks on the property, so it is a pretty serious equine operation. It was hot and the mares were sweaty. This particular one didn't seem to want her picture taken.
Pretty cheeks.......jowls I guess I should say. She was looking at my car, where she could hear the text chime going off.

This little guy was WHITE with blue eyes . I assume that the pony beside him is his mom because he was sticking pretty close.

Check out the egrets under their feet.

I guess they can run the horses under the pecan trees when there aren't pecans on the ground. I wouldn't think it would be safe for them to eat pecans, but then again, I ain't no horse doctor.

More egrets and a big ol'mare with a beauty mark on her face.

Pretty muscles.....

The end.

Agricultural Lesson for the day.....

This lovely tree was growing the the yard at my Aunt Dot and her husband, Mint's house. I visited with them for a while this afternoon and came away with a grocery bag full of these little calamondin oranges. They are incredibly sour ( we ate one in the yard), but have a gorgeous smell a bit like a tangerine. Of course, I had no idea what they were and certainly didn't know what to do with them. Aunt Dot said that they could be used like lime juice to make key lime pie, but she had never made one. Now, Key Lime pie, I know about. When I got back to the hotel, I immediately googled it all and found this information. (If you don't feel like learning , skip down to below the next picture.

"Calamondin, a native citrus plant in the Philippines and China, is cultivated in Southeast Asia and elsewhere as an important crop. In the U.S. and Europe, it is grown mainly as an outstanding ornamental. The tree, which is often trained as a bonsai, will bloom year-round; filling the air with the aroma of citrus blossom. Flower and fruit often will appear at the same time. The tree has upright branches with very few thorns and can grow up to 10 feet high. Its 3-inch evergreen leaves are broadly oval and pale green below like those of the kumquat. Its flowers are white and small. The 1 3/4 inch-wide fruit is small, depressed, globose and deep orange-yellow when ripe, loose-skinned and, segmented. The pulp is very acidic. Mature fruit can be produced year round.
It is said that it is an acid citrus, a group that includes lemons and limes. The flesh is orange, juicy and acid, with a fine lime-orange flavor. Because of this, it is usually grouped with the limes. The small seeds are few, with characteristic green cotyledons. One bite of this fruit can pucker your mouth. The fruit, when ripe, is very sour when first tasted. Subsequent tasted fruits make your mouth sweet. If the fruit is picked too soon, it is bitter.
In many Latin countries, the calamondin plant is found in backyards, and the fruit is called 'agri-dulce' (sweet and sour). It is known by the botanical name of Citrus mitis Blanco or Citrofortunella mitis and is considered a good remedy for the 'grippe' (cold). Horticulturists believe that the Calamondin is a hybrid of lime and mandarin, or lime and kumquat, or kumquat and mandarin.
A man named Lathrop introduced this unusual fruit, the calamondin, in Florida in 1899 with a name 'acid orange.' Later, Dr. David Fairchild, who came from Panama, introduced it as 'Panama orange.' The fruit had come to Chile as a stock for mandarin oranges and from Chile went to Panama. Among alternate common names are: calamondin orange; Chinese, or China, orange; Panama orange; golden lime; scarlet lime; and, in the Philippines, kalamondin, kalamunding, kalamansi, calamansi, limonsito, or agridulce. Malayan names are limau kesturi ("musk lime") and limau chuit. In Thailand, it is ma-nao-wan. While in Japan, they call it, sikikan.
Calamondin halves or quarters may be served with iced tea, seafood and meats, to be squeezed for the acid juice. They were commonly so used in Florida before limes became plentiful. Some people boil the sliced fruits with cranberries to make a tart sauce. Calamondins are also preserved whole in sugar syrup, or made into sweet pickles, or marmalade. A superior marmalade is made by using equal quantities of calamondins and kumquats. In Hawaii, calamondin-papaya marmalade is popular. In Malaya, the calamondin is an ingredient in chutney. Whole fruits, fried in coconut oil with various seasonings, are eaten with curry. The preserved peel is added as flavoring to other fruits stewed or preserved. The juice is primarily valued for making acid beverages. It is often employed like lime or lemon juice to make gelatin salads or desserts, custard pie or chiffon pie. In the Philippines, the extracted juice, with the addition of gum tragacanth as an emulsifier, is pasteurized and bottled commercially. This product must be stored at low temperature to keep well. Pectin is recovered from the peel as a by-product of juice production.

The fruit juice is used in the Philippines to bleach ink stains from fabrics. It also serves as a body deodorant. The fruits may be crushed with the saponaceous bark of Entada Phaseoloides Merr. for shampooing the hair, or the fruit juice applied to the scalp after shampooing. It eliminates itching and promotes hair growth. Rubbing calamondin juice on insect bites banishes the itching and irritation. It bleaches freckles and helps to clear up acne vulgaris and pruritus vulvae. It is taken orally as a cough remedy and antiphlogistic. Slightly diluted and drunk warm, it serves as a laxative. Combined with pepper, it is prescribed in Malaya to expel phlegm.

Here's Mint on the ladder cutting down a half a bucket full of the little things. He must really want that pie for the family reunion in two weeks. I am gonna juice them when I get home tomorrow and that should give enough juice to make several pies.

Here we are in the back yard .....remind me not to ever wear this shirt again.

Foley fotos

Downtown Foley. It was early, so not many people were out. Every corner has something interesting on it. Even the trash cans have planters full of petunias or impatiens on the tops.

This house is on the corner.....the front door is to the left and sort of obscured by all the plants. I guess that was planned because it is so close to the street.

This railing is around the balcony on the second story. Cute, huh?

Friday, June 12, 2009

More on the Laundry soap

Thanks for all the comments by phone, email, and facebook about the laundry detergent recipe. I can't take credit for it because it is only on about a million sites and blogs, but I'm glad you got it from me if you like it. There have been a few questions about it, so I'll try to answer them to the best of my ability. I have had to read again to find out, but here are the best answers I have so far.

1. It doesn't suds up. Should I use more? No, it isn't supposed to have a lot of sudsing action. Just resist the urge to add more.
2. Can I use it in my frontloader? Yes, but of course, you know that the manufacturer may not uphold your warranty if something happens and you weren't using detergent made especially for those washers.
3. I can't find that soap/ I don't like the smell of that Fels-whatever soap. I have seen references to being able to use any soap, just make sure the proportions are 2 parts soap to 1 part borax and 1 part laundry soda. A lot of Mexican markets stock Zote soap, but I found a place on the web that said to buy the white one and not the pink because the pink is softer and hard to grate. One blogger said she uses Ivory - I may try a batch with that since I have Ivory at home already.
4. I like liquid. You can make this into a liquid if you like. There are instructions out there, but you have to do it in a bucket and let it sit and then it is lumpy and has to be stirred every time. I think the Duggars use it in liquid form, but I am fine with the powder.
5. If you want to add a fragrance, you can put 15-20 drops of your favorite essential oil into the container and shake it up. I get plenty of fragrance from the fabric softener sponges we are using.

If y'all think of any more, just let me know and I will see if I can find the answers.

Croc-a-holics Paradise

There is a CROCS OUTLET in the Tanger Outlet Mall in Foley! Of course, the only problem with it is that it is an outlet and they don't have every size in every shoe. I wear a common size (8) and I think I got the only two pair of size 8 shoes in the store. They were 10.00 each, so who cares that they are red and turquoise. Since I have outfits featuring both colors, I figure I will get some use out of them. I have one skirt with both colors, so I was thinking maybe one of each? ( I'm just kidding, stop dialing the fashion police)
They look sort of sick in this hideous chair and the poor light, but I assure they are as stunning as foam shoes can be.
They had kids shoes too....I may be going back tomorrow!