Friday, August 28, 2009

Here we GO....

We're OFF on another adventure! Our flight leaves Saturday from ATL. We arrive in Paris @6am on Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon we board a river cruise in le Harve near Normandy and cruise down the Seine River back to Paris - 8 days on the river, stops at Giverny, Versaille, Rouen, etc. Then 3 days in Paris at a small hotel near (?) the Eiffel tower. We return to the mountains Sept 10.

See you when we return!! Au Revoir!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Voice from Above

You know how I've stresssed about the family over the past 8 months. We've all prayed and tried to pray them through this "crisis". I need to share this with you.

While sitting in church a couple of Sundays ago, I was (as usual) petitioning God to PLEASE intervene and help them get back on their "feet". My patience was running out and I was beginning to have that "Now, look God, you really NEED to DO something to help them" attitude. Just as certainly as I can hear Bill's voice or George's (our preacher) voice, I heard a voice in my head/heart say ," I AM taking care of them. They are safe, they have their health (I kept Laurie safe from the deer) and they have what THEY need." End of conversation. God spoke to me very clearly.

So, I'm going to France and NOT worrying. HE is in charge, not me.
Their OK is not mine, but they will be OK.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lessons from a Two-year Old

Alex (our 2 yr old grandson) and I "bonded" this Saturday while big brother, Daddy and Grandpa went to Conservation Day from 7am-5pm. It was a learning (or re-learning) day for me... surley I knew all this once upon a time.
Here it is in a nutshell.
In a two-year old's world:
NO is the answer to any question.
MINE is the claim to anything in sight.
"Done !" signals that he is DONE with a toy, food or me.
Words are strung together and spoken a mile a minute, preparing me for France next week, where I will also not understand a word but will smile and nod agreement.
He never stopped moving - even when standing still.
We watched a 3 minute Elmo segment on Sesame Street 79 times (in a row). I'm not sure whether to be thankful for the DISH DVR or shoot it.
Meals are eaten in 2 bite increments, making breakfast, lunch and dinner all run together, until he is DONE with any or all!
Making laps around the house, down the hill, back up the hill and across the driveway 46 times is a great way to get exercise and kill some time.
A styrofoam pool "noodle" swung at the emergency pull cord on the garage door can entertain a 2-yr old for hours! And since we have 4 different colors, that's 4 hrs of entertainment.
Naptime is a NO, until finally, with a pillow on top of his entire body, he managed to find the one spot of sunshine on the king size bed and fall asleep, sweating profusely the entire time.
When a 2 yr old wakes from that hard fought nap, the smile peeking around the corner of the doorway is angelic.
I realized that I'm too old to do this every day, but what a glorious privilege to have this child here alone for a few hours. When he turns 21, we'll consider letting him stay overnight without Mom & Dad!!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Musings...

Total ramblings today....although musing sounds better!

Brian, Riley and Alex are coming tonite. Tomorrow is the BIG Conservation Day event in the mtns. Riley (along with 499 other boys) will get to shoot a BB gun, bow & arrow, fish and see exhibits including a taxidermist (sure hope he doesn't demonstrate!). It will be a great father-grandfather-son day! I'll stay home and babysit Alex, age 2. THAT should be exciting!!! I'm so happy that the boys are coming. Brian hasn't been here since Christmas. Thats too long.

Our Paris trip is all consuming as schedules are being worked out, plans finalized, restaurant reservations being made (did you know you can do that online for Eurpoean restaurants at ???) and packing plans changing daily as Bill constantly monitors the weather forecast! I have 3 seasons of clothes out and ready to be packed when we finally figure out the temp range. Sounds like a raincoat will be essential... what else is new for us???

And in the middle of next week, my "baby girl" turns 29! And she thinks she feels old! HA! So, birthday cake is in the works (she'd rather have Eileen's cake than mine - and that's really OK- especially this year with my plate full!), early birthday gift bought and used, plans made for going a day early to ATl to celebrate birthday and leave our dog with the kids. WHEW! I hope I can finally sleep all the way to France!! My brain is tired- too much to remember!!!!

BUT, I wouldn't trade any of it!! I'm thankful for all the excitement!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Worth the work for this recipe

Warm Vegetable Salad
Giada De Laurentiis

2 whole red peppers
1 1/2 pound assorted red and white new potatoes
3/4 pounds green beans, trimmed and halved
1 bunch scallions, sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped oregano leaves
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the broiler. Place the red peppers on a foil lined baking sheet. Place the red peppers under the boiler. Turning every 2 to 3 minutes cook the peppers until the skin is
isblistered, about 8 to 9 minutes total. Place the blistered peppers in a plastic bag. Seal the bag and allow the peppers to sit for 10 minutes to allow the skin to separate and to let cool.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes and cook until tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the potatoes to a cutting board. Add the green beans to the pot. Cook the green beans until tender, about 3 minutes. Remove the green beans to a large bowl. Slice the potatoes in half while still warm and combine them with the green beans in the large bowl.

Remove the peppers from the plastic bag. Peel off the skin from the peppers. Slice the pepper flesh into wide strips and remove the seeds and veins. Place them in the bowl with the potatoes. Add the scallions, parsley, and garlic and toss to combine.

In a small bowl combine the oregano, lemon juice and zest, and white wine vinegar. Whisk in the olive oil. Stir in the salt and pepper. Toss the warm vegetables with the herb vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Keep praying....

"Stuff" never seems to end. Laurie, my daughter in law, hit a deer today. She's ok, kids were not with her, but her car is a mess- not driveable. Of course, they only have liability insurance. Brian is still without a job. And it goes on and on and on....

I keep praying, but its getting harder and harder to wait for answers.

Tomatoes everywhere......

Spicy Tomato Jam
Serve with cream cheese and crackers, as a dip for seafood or on burgers.

3 pounds plum or Roma tomatoes, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup cider vinegar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, more or less, as desired
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in heavy bottom Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low. Cook, uncovered, for 1 ½ -2 hrs or until desired degree of thickness. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching. Spoon into jars and refrigerate. Yield: approximately 1 ½ to 2 cups.

There were no directions for canning/processing, so I think it safest to refrigerate. It won’t last long enough to spoil!! :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Martha, Elizabeth, Caroline, Grace

Today I am my mother and my grandmothers. I'm even my former mother-in-law. I'm in the kitchen preserving food. I can hear and see my mother doing the same thing. I think of her as I peel tomotoes, cut corn off the cob, cut okra and oven blanch it for frying using her "secret" method. I close my eyes and smell the fresh beets grandaddy grew and grandmother canned. They smelled like the earth they came from. When she finished, they were immersed in sweet and sour pickling liquid. The color was that of jewels - the ruby red of my precious ring lost forever.

I wonder as I work, what will my children and grandchildren do in their lives that will make them think of me? What is that one thing that they will find themselves in the midst of when the thought comes to them that this is just like Mama did... I find myself with those thoughts a lot lately. Maybe its age, maybe its living in the mountains - a simpler life - like my grandparents and parents. I know, without a doubt, that whenever Riley says "Actually...." he will smile and remember how we laughed at the number of times a day he and I say it without thinking! Beyond that, what will be my legacy? I'll never know. I'm sure Mama didn't think sweating over corn and tomatoes would bring her memory so close to me. I'm glad I had hard working women in my life. I hope my children will, at least, remember that about me, too.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

THE Best Chicken Recipe

Cheesy Basil-Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Serve with orzo or over rice and you've got a company meal!

4 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (6-8 oz each)
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 slice bread, torn into quarters
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
toothpick or wooden skewer

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Combine the cheese, 2 Tbls. basil, cream, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper to taste in a medium bowl.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and cut off any fat. Cut a pocket in the thickest part of the chicken breast and gently work the knife back and forth until the pocket extends down into most of the breast.
Scoop one-quarter of the filling into each breast. Seal the opening by threading a toothpick or wooden skewer through the chicken about ¼- inch from the opening.

Transfer the stuffed breasts to a 13 by 9-inch baking dish and spread evenly with mayonnaise.

Pulse the bread in a food processor to coarse crumbs, about 8 pulses. Toss the breadcrumbs with 1 teaspoon garlic, 2 Tbls. basil, and 1 Tbls. EVOO. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the chicken, pressing lightly to adhere.

Toss the tomatoes with 1 Tbls. EVOO, 1/2 teaspoons salt, and pepper to taste. Arrange tomatoes in the baking dish around the chicken. Bake until the crumbs are golden brown and the thickest part of the chicken registers 160 degrees, about 25 minutes.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Grilled Eggplant Salad

Grilled Eggplant Salad
More Mediterranean influence! Won't you be glad when we get back from Paris and I start French cooking??

1 (1pound) eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2 in thick slices
Cooking spray
2 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon basalmic vinegar
2 teaspoons capers
1 teaspoon EVOO
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced

Preheat grill.
Lightly coat both sides of eggplant slices with cooking spray. Grill 5 minutes on each side or until tender. Cool. Cut into quarters. Combine with remaining ingredients. Toss and serve at room temperature. Yield: 4 servings.

86 calories for 1 1/2 cups.