Sunday, February 28, 2010

What did you cook today?

Sundays always bring out the cook in me, or maybe weekends do. Last night I fixed one of my favorite meals--stir-fried asparagus, onion, mushrooms, and tomatoes (you have a huge plate of vegetables before you know it). Took them out of the pan and sauteed bay scallops, with nothing more than salt and pepper. I used to add soy or lemon or something to them, but they are so good just by themselves. Ate the whole huge plate and loved it.
This morning I made a do-ahead dish to take to Sue tonight at her new house. She had thought her kids would be with their father, but they weren't, and I had only brought two servings of a veggie dish they probably wouldn't like. I sauteed a bit of thyme (too little), a bit of red peppr (I'm very cautious with crushed red pepper but even I admit I could have used more), onion, and capers--in retrospect I would do the spices and capers first, then add the onion because it releases liquid. When the onions were soft I added some diced, cooked potatoes (I had fried them for extra effect but it got lost in the final dish), a can of fire-roasted tomatoes, and a can of artichoke hearts. I didn't know if fire roasted meant spicy or not, so I tasted them before I cooked the red pepper. But I really couldn't tell much difference between them and diced tomatoes in sauce. Anyway you cook this a bit and then can refrigerate until serving time.
At suppertime, make wells with a spoon for two eggs per person and break eggs into the wells. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes or until eggs are set as you want them. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve. It ended up being the kind of dinner you soak baguette slices in to get the last of the juice--really good, very tomato-ey.
Sue has done a remarkable job in 24 hours of making her house liveable. It's bigger than her house next door to me (which is good with one teenager and one about-to-be) but she has room to buy furniture, which makes me a bit jealous. I occasionally see pieces I'd like to have but there's simply no room in my house. Sue's new house is a 1940s model (I think that's what she said) so it lacks the charm of her 1920s house by me but makes up for it in many other ways--space, a family room, a huge deck out back, a large room she can use as an office, and a much bigger kitchen. She'll settle in, get into a routine, and be very happy, though I'm sure we'll continue to see her.
My main accomplishment for the day was not culinary. It was getting the edited Trash History manuscript, with notes and captions, off to the publisher. Not that I don't have a lot of projects on my desk, but this one was huge, and I was pleased to get it off.
I'm going to read a mystery and worry about the othr projects tomorrow. Maybe Trash Hisstory has put the Gone with The Wind philosophy in my mind.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Marathons and Scotsmen in kilts

Today was the 31st annual Cowtown Marathon, which I heard on the radio is one of the largest mutli-race events in the country (that means they have the marathon, a half-marathon, a 10K, and various other assorted races for kids, etc.) What is means to us in Southwest Fort Worth is that it messes up traffic. I got away relatively lightly--slid down a back road on my way to Central Market only to discover that for two blocks it was part of the race. Cops let me go through with a caution to go slowly,which I did. But I could see that I couldn't come home that way (road was blocked going the other way) and University Drive, the main thoroughfare I was avoiding, was a parking lot. Coming home, I cut through a shopping "village," and then on to University, just after the point where the runners were crossing. A policeman waved me through, and it was smooth sailing. Jeannie, though, said she was trying to go home from Hulen and went on so many side streets, she doesn't even remember where she was.
The Cowtown is more than a nuisance to me--it's a sentimental trip back in time. In the late 70s, a group of doctors, physiologists, and who knows what used to meet in my living room to talk about establishing an Institute of Human Fitness, promoting a healthy way of life, and running (my ex was a big runner--but that's another, not always-happy story). At the time a friend was living with us, and she and I would be in the kitchen, making the richest, fanciest desserts we could imagine--I particularly remember Ann's Italian cream cake. Those health and fitness freaks would scarf it down! But it's always fun to say the marathon began in my living  room.
I called my friend Charles this morning to reminisce, and he verified the origins. The first T-shirts had a runner named Cowtown Charlie, which was, of course, Charles--though my ex liked to think because of the mustache it was him. I still have one of the T-shirts, tucked away somewhere. The first marathon was in 1979, and Charles and I talked a bit about those days. Colin would have been ten, Jordan just four,and I am amazed to think that while I worked publicity for the event (I loved being in the midst of things), I let them wander the area around the North Side Coliseum, where among other threats there is a river. What was I thinking? I wouldn't let me grandkids do that today for all the tea in China. But the kids loved the day--and so did I. The first year the weather was all sleet and snow (I won't repeat what Joel said when he heard the sleet hit our roof) but he left early and I drove the kids up there in that weather in an old Cadillac I was then driving. Amazing! I told Charles it made me nostlagic, and he admitted to the same feeling but reminded me, "What's done is done"and I added  "and certainly for the better."
On the way home, having successfully avoided the traffic jams, I cut through Forest Park and came upon a groups of Scots, in kilts, practicing I don't know what but it looked like something for the Highland games. I couldn't stop and gawk, much as I wanted to, but one glimpse reinforced my belief that there is nothing sexier than a Scotsman in his kilts. The only thing missing was a bagpiper.Thrilled my Scottish blood.
Spent the rest of the day mired in the manuscript I'm editing, Trash History: Discoveries of an Accidental Historian. It mostly has to do with Civil War, Custer, Bonnie and Clyde, and the Alamo, but it is a charming fun book and an especially illuminating look into re-enactments. Note to non-fiction authors: avoid those blasted embedded notes. They're driving me crazy! I'll finish it tomorrow and email everthing to the editor at Texas Tech Press. Note to most readers: buy this book when it comes out next fall. It's really fun!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Touring the Fort Worth suburbs--well, sort of

Actually, our tour ended up being of Tarrant, Johnson, and Hood counties, but my story begins a bit before that. I have what I call a night-time cold. I'm fine in the daytime, well mostly, but at night I'm besieged with the symptoms of a head cold. Add to that the fact that I had lunch arrangments every day this week--and they all cancelled, for one good reason or another. In truth, I cancelled Wednesday and elected not to go to a luncheon because I was still busy at the office. But it's sort of an amazing record. Last night I had a scratchy throat and just generally felt bad--two aspirin, dinner, and a bit of wine helped.
This morning Jeannie and I were scheduled to go to Half Price Books in Burleson (where they pay more than the store in Fort Worth) and then to Babe's Fried Chicken for lunch. I was ready to give it up, settle for lunch at Neiman's, and forget the trip, but Jeannie convinced me that getting out would be good for me. I agreed, but begged not to go to Babe's--I lost slightly over two pounds last week and didn't want to undo that with fried chicken, in spite of the fact that I've been longing to go to Babe's forever. So we went to Half Price Books, but it wasn't quite that easy.
I always assume Jeannie knows where she's going--not so. She said it was right off the freeway, and sure enough it was--we saw it as we sailed by. So we had to go a long distance south, then double back a long way, and circle around. For me it was worth it--$81 for the books I decided I could part with to make room on my shelves.
Then Jeannie wanted to eat at the Purple Turnip in Cleburne, so we set off in that direction, only to be lost again, doing our loop around thing until we finally got on the road to Cleburne. Then there was construction, and traffic was awful. Then Jeannie overshot the road where the restaurant was. We finally got there, had a good lunch (salmon burgers and Caesar salad) and headed home. Only we got lost again, because of the construction, had to do another loop, and finally found the road to 377 that bypasses all the Burleson traffic. I showed Jeannie a way to bypass the Benbook traffic, and we sailed home. It all would have been a lovely adventure in the country (barring the congested surburban areas) except that it was rainy, windy and cold. Still, we had a good time, and I came home a bit richer. We decided, come spring and good weather, we'd do it again and then go sit on my brother's patio and drink wine--he's in that part of the country.
Tonight my cold is back--lots of sneezing and blowing my nose until it's red. And Jacob is here, though fairly subdued. I gave him ten minutes to play with his toys and then it's sleep time, so I must go check on him.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Growing Old Quickly

I can't resist posting one more piciture of some of my grandkids--but this is them at their angelic best, which only lasts for moments. Front to back are Kegan (turns 3 in April), Jacob (turns 4 in June), and Morgan (turns 5 in August--can it be?).  Having most but not all of my grandchildren around last weekend brought home a big realization to me--how fast they outgrow childhood. Maddie, at ten, is truly a tween, more grown-up than child and a real mother to the little ones. She'll go to middle school next year, which I find unbelievable--and worrisome, with all kinds of new social threats out there. Even with Edie turning seven this week, their mom says there are no more dolls in their house--they've outgrown that phase. Although Maddie did call and ask me to send the teddy bear she left behind. And I think that phase passed too quickly--I'm still getting American Girl catalogs urging me to buy dolls, and for a while an outfit for her American Girl doll was a real treat to Maddie. But I can't complain--now it's books, and I love it that she's a reader. Her sister is an artist, but headed also toward veterinary medicine--she loves animals.
Kegan is the baby of them all, and yet look at him--grown up, independent, stubborn. Sure, he and Jacob still have their crying fits occasionally, but they're well on their way to becoming self-contained individuals.
Morgan seems to lapse into tears less often and is over, pretty much, the possessiveness about toys.
But if they're growing older so fast, what's happening to us as adults? I can't believe I'm 71, although I did "use" it today. The Fed Ex man came with a package I'd been waiting for since yesterday morning--a manuscript I'm editing with a tight deadline--but by the time I got to the door, he was driving away and had left what I thought was an attempted delivery notice. I immediately called Fed Ex and among my whiny complaints was the fact that I'm  71 and it takes me a bit to get to the door (which isn't true, but it's like having a doctorate--I only use it on desperate occasions). Turns out I had to eat crow--he had left the package, just not where I saw it instantly.
But I also can't believe that my oldest child is 40, almost 41, and my youngest now in her mid-thirties. Where did the time go. They were babies last time I looked. True, they're wonderful adults, and I adore their company, but I miss the days of childhood--and I miss the days of having baby grandchildren. We have no one in diapers now (except at night), which tells you something.
I truly believe that old saying--time flies when you're having fun. But at this rate, I'll be in my eighties before I know it. And my grandchildren will be grown. What a weird feeling.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Be patient, Juju, be patient!

One recent night when I had put an parchment packet with spinach, mushrooms, and egg in the oven to bake, Jacob decided he had to have his pajamas before dinner. I kept telling him my dinner was over-cooking, and he kept saying, "Be patient, Juju, be patient." Result? One really hard egg, when I like them runny and soft. I wanted to tell Jacob he was saying that to the wrong person--I am not by nature a patient person,. But I've decided the writer's life requires some patience. Today I was supposed to get the return of an author's comment on an edited manuscript, so I can get it back to Texas Tech Press on time. It didn't come, and Fed Ex now says tomorrow, no matter that it was designated yesterday for overnight delivery. Does snow throw Austin off that much? The snow in Fort Worth was a fizzle--lots of tiny flakes that came down fairly heavily but melted as soon as they hit the ground. In Austin, apparently, it was a different story--lots of heavy, wet, big snowflakes. In Fort Worth, all we had was a really damp cold that got into your bones. No picturesque scenes like last week--and that's probably a blessing.
Anyway, the manuscript didn't come, and I'm not about to dig into my own manuscript only to have to abandon it tomorrow for the other project. So I'm left trying to be patient--and to develop a proposal for Story Cicrle Network for a class on writing cookbooks. Now that I've done one, I'm an expert--really? In medicine, we used to laugh about docs whose apparent model was, "See one, do one, teach one." But I do have lots of ideas, including some things I would have done differently. But for now I'm being patient and losing myself in Susan Wittig Albert's novel, Spanish Dagger.
There is a food side to my day. Betty and I went to The Covey, a restaurant/brewery. I had lunched there a long time ago and not been impressed, but Jeannie said she had appetizers there recently and they were wonderful. She was so right! We split miniature lobster tacos, with chicken-fried lobster, and crab cakes. Absolutely delicious. Then we split a pear/Gorgonzola salad with field greens and dried cranberries--do you realize what dried cranbierries do for a salad? This one had a raspberry vinaigrette, and while I don't usually enjoy semi-sweet salad dressings, I loved this one. We both agreed we'll go back there, for lunch as well as supper.
A line I read in an e-mail today: Depression is just anger without enthusiasm. I love that!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Now, what was on my mind . . . ?

Today was a stay-at-home day. My lunch plan cancelled, and I dug in and read a novel in manuscript that had been submitted to TCU Press. Feel like I've had a crash in driving a long-haul truck, but it was interesting stuff. In the afternoon I took a nap, and as I drifted off, I had a great thought about what I was going to blog about tonight, something philosophical and deep. Alas, when I woke up the thought was gone.
But I spent much of the evening exploring the Story Circle Network web site--since 1997, the SCN has been offering online classes to help women write about various aspects of their lives. The SCN was the brainchild of Susan Wittig Albert, a multi-faceted writer who does mysteries (the China Bayles herb series) but also wrote a book called Writing from Life. I taught non-credit classes from that book two or three times, probably almost 15 years ago, and they were a hoot. Some women still come up to me to say they were in one of the classes and how much they enjoyed it. Writing from life is like loosening the flood gates to release thoughts, experiences, and so forth that you've kept bottled up inside. Today, it's sort of like blogging, and one of the classes they suggest is on blogging. Check it out yourself at
I decided it would be fun to teach a class for them, but when I explored their proposal site I found it was a lot more complicated than just checking a "Yes, I want to teach" box. You have to come up with a course outline, synopsis, methodology, etc. So I'm going to study on it for a few days. Susan Wittig Albert suggested I might like to teach a "kitchen table" class--compiling a cookbook, since I've done that in Cooking My Way Through Life with Kids and Books. I like the idea. I also like the idea of teaching a short course on blogging. I could get some help from Sue, my soon-to-be ex-neighbor, who follows a wide variety of blogs plus writes an interesting one--google A Replete Life for Sue's take on the world.
Anyway, I feel that exploring the SCN website has led me to another new, and quite complex, world of social networking, and I like it. Paid my dues tonight. Going to explore more on classes to suggest, but I can always write about food.
Snow tomorrow. Don't know if it will be another homebound day or not. Betty and I are supposed to go to dinner,but we'll see. Which reminds me, I have the television on but muted, glancing every once in a while at the ski jumping. It is purely amazing what some of those athletes can do. I'm not a fan of watching sports on TV, even the Olympics, but this surely draws my attention.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A family weekend--and a favorite family recipe

This was a family weekend. The top picture is ten-year-old Maddie, my oldest grandchild, who does a super job of organizing, shepherding, and loving the little ones-here she's watching Morgan struggle with a push broom that appeared on my porch mysteriously. Jordan and Christian want to hire her as their nanny because Jacob really listens to her.Last night he jabbered and jabbered until she said, "Okay, Buddy, we're going to sleep now." Jacob followed with his usual stall, "Will you cuddle me?" and Maddie sasid firmly, "Jacob, I'm in the bed right next to yours and I'm here if you need me, but we're going to sleep." According to Mel, Maddie's mother who was listening from the next room, everything was silent from then on.
In the second picture, left to right, are Eden, whose seventh b'day we were celebrating a week early, Maddie, Kegan (2-1/2, from Houston), Morgan (almost 4, from Houston, and I have no idea why she was hanging her head), and Jacob.
Tonight I'm eating leftover Doris' casserole. The Houston Alters arrived Friday afternoon, and we want to see Uncle Charles. Then Jacob and his parents came for supper. I had made a double batch of Doris'--see below for recipe, though I think I've posted it before, and it's in Cooking My Way Through Life with Books and Kids.. The Houston Alters are early-to-bed people, and I even got Jacob asleep by ten (he stayed to play with his cousins in the morning). After much debate, we decided to eat in Saturday night, so I ran to the store that morning for hamburger and hot dog fixings. Lunch at the deli, Carshon's--Colin does not consider a trip home complete without a trip to Carshon's. They all played at Jacob's house in the afternoon while I had a blissful reading/nap time before I started getting ingredients ready for supper. Jay came for dinner (Susan is in Marfa) and Sue for a drink. The Frisco Alters arrived a little after eight in the evening and we had a party (Sue came back) on the porch, except that the people we all came to see (Colin, Lisa, Morgan and Kegan) were already asleep. We had a good time in spite of that. This morning, a late breakfast. Colin, who is so helpful and such a good cook, did oven bacon and made breakfast tacos, after Jordan and Christian stopped at the store. Then by one, everyone was on their way, and I was doing the final clean-up on the kitchen. The kids always leave the house neat, but I tomorrow I have to do clean-up--laundry, mop the floor, hose the porch, which got horribly mud-streaked because of today's light rain, find the guest room pillow I'm missing, etc.
The weekend taught me something wonderful about family--okay I think I always knew it, but it's best to "hang" at the house We had talked about going out to dinner Saturday, but it was so much better to be at home, at our leisure, where the kids could run and play--and boy did they! With all hands helping with the cooking, it's really not much work, and I loved having them all around. We missed Megan and her bunch mightily. My happy thought as I drifted off last night was that when they were grown, the grandkids will all remember that they came to Juju's house and had a wonderful time. The Houston kids call my garage apartment "Camp Juju," and I don't think they'd stay in the main house. My family is the biggest blessing in a life that's truly blessed in many ways.
Doris' casserole:
Bottom layer:
Brown one lb. hamburger (I used extra lean from Central Market, and both Colin and Christian commented on how flavorful it was--they sent me back for hamburger meat the next day with instructions to ask for meat from the same cow!)
Add 1 clove garlic
When meat is browned, add
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
Simmer about 20 minutes, until thickened.
Second layer:
Cook about 6 oz. egg noodles
Drain and while hot stir in
3 oz. cream cheese (Lisa stirs in an entire 8 oz. pkg and says it's wonderful)
1 cup sour cream
Six green onions, chopped
Spread evenly over meat layer in a 9x13 pan.
Top with 8 oz. grated cheddar.
Bake 30 minutes in 350 oven or until cheese is melted and slightly browned and casserole is bubbly. Friday night, five adults and three kids (small helpings) ate a whole casserole.
Lisa has tried this with Rotel tomatoes but says she doesn't like it as well.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Georgia O'Keefe

Betty and I went to a members reception at the Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame tonight for their new exhibition on Georgia O'Keefe--it was scheduled, then cancelled, for last Thursday when the world was cancelled because of snow. The exhibition was wonderful, focusing on O'Keefe's fascination with remote areas in New Mexico. There were a few of her paintings, but also photographs of her by Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter, and even one by Laura Gilpin, a couple of letters to her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, many rough sketches that one wonders how they were translated into paintings. Also shown for the first time were pieces of her camping equipment--pots, pans, cooking utensils, a small portable table, a tent and sleeping bag (with signage about the unpredictable weather of New Mexico). And tennis shoes--as I suspected, they were of a good size, but not as big as mine. I didn't know that O'Keefe had taught in Virginia until this exhibit, and there was bare mention of that experience, but no mention of her time in Amarillo. One can easily imagine that the lush green of Virginia didn't appeal to her, given her later fascination with New Mexico.  The focus of the exhibit was clearly on New Mexco, Ghost Ranch, and her fascination with the land, her love of camping out in its remote places. Her two favorites were The Black Place, which appears to be in the northwest corner of the state, and The White Place, which is a bit north of Abiquiu, though there are many more sketches and photographs ofThe Black Place and she wrote that The White Place was so remote she didn't like to go there alone.
The photographs of O'Keefe are fascinating--in many she is grim, reclusive, unapproachable, but there is one of her on a boat trip down the Colorado River where she looks content, even happy, and one of her sketching that looks almost reverent. She was apparently a really self-contained women, and I envy her that. I always think that my need for the city and people is a weakness, and here is this woman who spent so much of her life alone in New Mexico, especially at Ghost Ranch. And who created art that endures. The exhibit provides an  unusual insight into O'Keefe as a person. If you're in Fort Worth, you must not miss it.
I had told Betty we might get a free dinner at the reception, but it might only be cheese and fruit--the latter was true, so we went to the Tokyo Cafe and had sushi for supper. So good. And we had a lively visit. A good evening. I'm going to have to read more about Georgia O'Keefe.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Are you addicted to eating out?

Today, our boss was taking the TCU Press staff (three of us) to a celebration lunch, celebrating a triumph that had to do with a troublesome publishing project. There was great angst about choosing a restaurant. I suggested an Italian/Lebanese place that I really like, because today they had a vegetarian buffet, and Melinda eats no red meat whilie Susan claims to be "not much of a meat person." They both said vehemently that they didn't like that restaurant, though I've seen them eat there with apparent enjoyment. And then they said not to take them to the local Jewish deli--it was too meat-driven for either of them (there are lots of chicken, etc., items on the men and it's my absolute favorite lunch spot). Besides, I remember when Susan used to love to eat there.  As we waited for June to pick us up, I suggested a local Japanese restaurant, and they both said they didn't like it much--again, I've seen them eat there with pleasure, or else they're really good at covering up. Then these picky restaurant people jumped me because I don't like Thai food, never have, never will. They often go for Thai at lunch, and I politely decline. But that's a three-to-one ratio--I really think I'm the cosmopolitan one here.
We ended up at Lili's Bistro, one of my favorites, but I gave way to impulse and ordered the gorgonzola burger on a sourdough bun--it's huge and comes with bacon, tomato, gorgonzola, and salad dressing--very messy. I ate half and sent the other half to Jordan for her supper. She called tonight to thank me for ruining her diet, and I know if I'd eaten in I wouldn't have absorbed that many calories.
I have the solution for fussy eaters and dieters. Next week, Feb. 22-28, is the Week of Eating In challenge, sponsored by Huffington Post Green. The challenge is to eat in (or bring a sack lunch to work) for a week--no restaurants, no take-out, no street-food (well, that's not a problem in Fort Worth but I imagine it would be in New York City). I could easily do the evenings, but lunch is my social hour--and at this point I think I have lunch dates all five days next week. But I may try that challenge on my own sometime. I'd probably invite a lot of people over to eat various meals, but I'd enjoy all that cooking.
The challenge week is an outgrowth of Cathy Erway's blog, "Not Eating Out in New York." She devoted two years to the experiment, years during which she proved to herself she could do it and created some interesting recipes, which she posts on the blog. She also posts reasons to eat in, such as the hair in your food is your own. The main reasons, however, are that you know what goes into what you're eating and you save unbelievable amounts of money.
Five bloggers with active food blogs are participating in the challenge, and as I prowled around on the web today I realized that "eating in" is one of the new food movements in this country. With even Wal-Mart beginning to go green, maybe it all signifies a trend. (See I like the idea. I just don't want to eat all my meals alone.
The results of Cathy's experiment will be published in The Art of Eating In, due out tomorrow, February 18. It is not, she promises, a rehash of her blog. I plan to read it and will report back when I've finished it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Heroic Amateur Detective

It's a given among mystery writers that editors and readers alike want strong female central characters. They can have a few flaws (probably should have), but they are intelligent, resourceful, brave, friends with the world, etc. They never do dumb things or act ditsy, like a dumb blonde. One blog says they may or may not have a romantic relationship. Whoa! Hold on a minute. It's dawned on me (I think I'm slow to pick up on this) that many of the protagonists in the cozies I read are not only unattached, but they're unhappy about it. They've recently been dumped by the love of their lives, or they never have found the right man. And often they're prickly about it, not trusting any men, not fixing themselves up, mulling over their empty lives and problems. Sometimes when they develop a relationship, they shoot themselves in the foot with suspicion, etc., to the point that I want to reach into the pages and shake them. Sure, it's a way to add complication to a plot--and, believe me, I understand that need, but it's frustrating for the reader. After reading three books in a row with this kind of heroine, I sort of breathed a sigh of relief that in my never-published series (about which I'm always hopeful and so is my new agent) I created a heroine with a pretty good relationship--in fact, in book two I let them live together, and in book three they'll get married (unless tragedy intervenes, which it well might--plot you know!). But then it occurred to me that in the new series I'm starting, I'm falling into the same trap--a young woman who deserts the bar-scene life in Dallas, after her lover deserts her, and flees to her small hometown in East Texas. Hmmmm. I'll have to think about taking it out of the formula.
Today was my day for ethnic food. Last night I mentioned to my neighbors that I really like the roast chicken sandwich at Carshon's, the local deli. Sue said whenever she ate there, she wanted ethnic food. We were then ejoying the best corned beef ever, sent by Jamie from the Carnegie Deli in New York City. Today I had lunch at Carshon's and had pickled herring--for the first time in my memory it came with rye toast and cream cheese, and to my surprise it made a great sandwich. The cream cheese softened the harsh taste of the herring--and much as I love it, I do admit it sometimes makes you pucker. So tonight I came home and had more corned beef for supper. It is absolutely the best--lean, tender, flavorful. I may be spoiled to any other kind.
My neighbor Jay (the handsome one:-) says he reads my blog only to find out what I cooked for dinner the night before.
Colin and his family are coming up this weekend, which means another lunch at Carshon's--he won't come to Fort Worth unless he can eat there.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Kay Bailey Hutchison

No, folks, this isn't a political post. I'm worried about Kay Bailey, because I like her. I don't like her politics, don't particualrly want her to be governor, won't vote for her (although I considered it just to vote against Rick Perry, who has been in office way too long and whose claims about how wonderfully Texas is doing ring false against our educational standing, health care programs, etc.). But all that's neither here nor there. I have the feeling that if Kay Bailey and I sat down together to talk about children and grandchildren, we'd find ourselves friends. I admire and respect her, because she obviously believes in her stand on Texas and what she could do for it, and she worked hard to get to the U. S. Senate and while she was there. I think she's a dedicated public servant, if that's not an oxymoron any more.
But here's why I'm worried: she's up against Mr. Goodhair who oozes charisma and confidence (hard for me to see since I dislike his policies, but I know it's true--a lot of Texans think he hung the moon; then again, he only got 37% or something of the last vote, not exactly a roaring vote of confidence). But Kay (if I may be so familiar) has got to spark up her act. She always looks tired and slightly sad when she talks about the issues. I get no sense of an inner core of vitality, even when I'm cheering for her. I hate to get personal about this, but she needs a make-over. It's probaby too late for a facelift (and I'm opposed to those anyway, even having had cosmetic surgery for the inherited turkey wattles at my chin). But her hair, her clothes, and her makeup could be brightened. And then, oh really, she needs a coach to help her come across as more vital, more active, more optimistic. Surely I want her to beat Perry in the primary, but polls are not looking good. In my simple-minded way, the above is the solution for her, but she needs to do it tomorrow. Good luck, Kay.
Somehow today it took me all morning to go to Central Market,unload the dishwasher, do my yoga,shower, etc. But tonight I had a lovely dinner and really fun visit with Sue. She fixed short ribs (which I've never fixed and am not sure I've ever eaten before, but they were delicious), wonderful sauteed tiny new potatoes, and asparugs, and we chattered and chattered. She brightened what I thought would be a long Sunday, and I know I'm going to miss her a lot when she moves.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A culinary report

Last night I fixed Welsh Rarebit, something my mom used to fix. No, it's not rabbit. Somewhere I read a colorful description of the term, indicating it meant "small serving," but now all I can find is the idea that Welsh peasants ate it when they couldn't afford rabbit--or weren't allowed to eat rabbit by the Lords of the land. (I may have blogged about the other version and if so I apologize for repeating myself.) At any ate, it is a thick, seasoned cheese sauce served over toast--Mom used to serve it on saltines for Sunday supper. The best recipe I have calls for stout and white cheddar, but I'm a believer in using what you have--and I had Coors Light and Cracker Barrel extra sharp cheddar. You make a butter and flour roux, seasoned with Worcestershire and dry mustard, and then stir in the cheese. This particular recipe calls for pickling red onion slices in vinegar, water, sugar and salt--they do add a piquant touch. Anyway, I served Jacob his (sans onons), and he, the child who loves cheese toast, took one look and said, "I don't like it." I ate mine and part of his and ended up fixing him a hot dog, but I swear I am going to stop substituting for foods that he doesn't like without even trying. I'm ready to believe kids have innate dislikes--Jamie, my best eater, couldn't and still can't abide mushrooms and lamb. So be it. But not without tasting. I raised my kids with a three bites for politeness rule, and I still think it's a good idea. Meantime, I like the the rarebit.
Tonight, sans Jacob, I fixed sardines and spaghetti. The sardines were good but what makes the dish is a topping of sauteed capers (have you ever fried them? They blossom (open) and turn a darker shade--delicious). You mix the capers with fried bread crumbs, a bit of dill (I couldn't taste it, which was okay), and salt and pepper. It's a recipe I'll keep and try again.
I went through recipes today, looking for casseroles for a couple of upcoming dinners and finding things I wanted to cook for myself, like tuna cakes, a layered dish of green beans, smoked salmon, and egg salad (why can't I use the spinach in my fridge), and a salad dressing I haven't made in ages that is, to say the least, robust.
Jamie is in New York and called Thursday night to say he sent me an innovative present but had to send it overnight and it would come Friday. It didn't but it was here today--a 2 lb. corned beef brisket from Carnegie Deli in Manhattan. Pre-cooked. I invited Jay and Susan to share it Monday night and will invite Sue to join us tomorrow. I'll serve it with a salad of avocado, watercress and beets and that robust dressing and then colcannon. The latter is an Irish recipe mixing mashed potatoes, cooked cabbage, and onion. I debated between that and Reubens, but colcannon won out--I've always wanted to cook it.
All this about food is not making me the least bit hungry--that sardine pasta was filling!
The sun came out today, the snow melted, and we almost have our world back, though it will take a few days for all the snow to disappear. Meanwhile, it leaves mud in its wake. When I set off for the grocery this morning, the driveway was iffy--Jordan was sure I couldn't make it, but I did. Then she couldn't walk down the incline and had to cut across the yard to the sidewalk--I almost offered her my cane. When I came home, it was a bit iffy getting up the incline, but I held firm--and slow--and all was fine. Tonight all snow on the drive is gone except for the grassy (mud) portion in the middle. I honestly do remember how to drive on snow but that was the only time today I had to use my great skill. Streets were clear, and it was lovely to see the sun and to get out of the house.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow--and history

This is my house after anywhere from seven to nine inches of snow--my neighbor took this early in the morning. The airport reports slightly over 12 inches, with a year total now of over 15 inches. We broke all records, but as Sue said any of us northerners nostalgic for snow ought to now remember how much trouble it is. Trees were down all over the neighborhood--my neighbors lost an old cedar, and my youpon is bent double--don't know if it will recover or not. I think it's because ours is an old neighborhood, and the trees are old.
I was snowbound for the second day, thouogh someone came to talk to me about a possible publishing project this afternoon and Jacob is spending the night, so I'm not as isolated as I was yesterday. Still I'm going to the grocery tomorrow (if Christian walks me to my car) and will be glad to get out.
Many of my neighbors were out in the snow.The boys across the street made a giant slingshot to catapult snowballs (their parents may have nixed it because I didn't see it long, but the boys were out all day doing varioius things). Sue was shoveling the walks and digging out her car. This afternoon I saw a young mother skipping down the middle of the street that deadends into my house; she was followed by a young child who couldn't quite skip but was trying. It made me nostalgic because I used to skip and play in the snow with my children but now they're too old--and so am I. I wish I had the confidence and balance to frolic in the snow once again.
Meantime I was in the house editing a manuscript called Trash History: Discoveries of an Accidental Historian, by Monte Akers. It's sort of an autobiographical wandering through American history, with chapters on Little Big Horn and and San Jacinto, both of which I know something about, and a lot about the Civil War and re-enactment, where I'm on shakier ground. (I'm editing for writing not accuracy, so it's okay and I'm learning a bit--there's so much to know about the Civil War and its battles, and Akers has done a good job). He has a theory that the current divisiveness in our country is reminiscent of the great divide after the Civil War, worse than that after Vietnam or Watergate or the impeachment of President Clinton. He is passionate about the need for healing that divide. I like his politics a lot, and I like his writing style--it's slightly ironic and satiric and he's not afraid of poking fun at himself (he does it often) but he is deadly serious about history, artifacts, politics, and honor. Look for it from Texas Tech Press in the fall. If I had to spend the last couple of days inside, working on this manuscript was a good way to do it. Actually I've been working on the manuscript for over two weeks, and tomorrow I hope to send it to the author for his reaction to my edits. I really love some of the work that comes my way.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


After blogging last night about needing sociability for happiness, I woke up this morning looking forward to a staff meeting, lunch with the press people, and a reception at the National Cowgirl Museum to view Georgia O'Keefe paintings. But when I looked out, everything was white. There was about two inches of snow on the ground, but kids seemed to be arriving at the school across the street. I debated--did I really want to get out in this? Looked at the computer, and TCU was closed. Usually it's the ISD that closes, while TCU stays open. Then the Cowgirl called to say the reception had been rescheduled for next week. I resigned myself to a day at home--no socializing. I fiddled and piddled for much of the morning, reading emails, unloading the dishwasher, showering, essentially making busy work. About eleven I finally settled down to work and have worked fairly steadily since, going through the manuscript I'm editing for a third and, I hope, final time. To my horror I discovered that somehow the edits I made to one chapter hadn't been saved. It was fairly easy to recreate since I knew what I'd done, but still. My computer keeps telling me the file is "read only" when it is clearly not, so I save it under a new name. Somehow, I guess, in doing all that I lost something.
Back to the snow--it came down all day, and it's still snowing tonight. The picture above is my porch, scene of many happy summertime parties and dinners--looks pretty bleak. Above that is one of the photinia in my back yard, bent down to the ground by the weight of the heavy, wet snow I'm afraid they're broken, but then they needed trimming anway. The snow appears to have stopped now (8:30 p.m.) but Fort Worth/Dallas hasn't had this much snow in one day since January 1964, six months before I moved here, and we have set a record for the most snow in any winter, ever since records have been kept (something like 10.5 inches). It was beautiful today, but toward dusk I began to get a little depressed that it was still coming down.
I got out about three to move my garbage carts to their spot next to the house. The crossing guard had brought them up for me yesterday (now, that's a neighborhly gesture, and I thanked him heartily). He left them right by the gate, and I intended to move them before I got out this morning. If the ice begins to melt tomorrow, I hope to go out the back, work my way along the fence to the garage, and get to the grocery store, but I couldn't doopen the gate with the carts there. And I may not get out--it's supposed to be really bad because it will go into the upper 20s tonight and all that slush will freeze. Another day at home, but tomorrow someone is coming by at one to talk about a book and Jacob is coming to spend the night. Surely by Saturday I can get to the store!
Meeantime, my neighbor Sue, a hearty Canadian by birth and upbringing, said the snow made her feel at home, and she got out and shoveled both our walks. I urged her not to do it, pointing out that it was still coming down, but she said it would take too long to melt tomorrow if she didn't do it this afternoon. Good point. As far as I can remember, this is the first time ever since I've lived in Texas that I thought I ought to shovel my walks. Of course, I have no shovel (and am amazed Sue had one) and lifting two shovels of snow would do my back in.
Meantime I've gotten very ambitious about that manuscript, hope to finish it this weekend. My mom always told me the Lord works in mysterious ways, so maybe the snow was designed to keep me at my desk.
If anyone in the Northeast is reading that, you may justly call us snow wimps. When I lived in Chicago and Missouri, I was as at home on this stuff as Sue is today. But I was a whole lot younger. These days I don't mind driving on it--it's walking that worries me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


My neighbor (soon to move, alas!), Sue, has a blog called "Replete Life"--you should google it and read it. She blogged recently about happiness and various theories about what makes us happy--everyone has their own idea. But she ended witha quote from Edith Wharton to the effect that if we stopped trying so hard to be happy, we'd probably be happier.
Then I happened to read two installments of a three-part story in the newspaper about a young man who was motor-biking through the woods at the age of 12 or 13 and was shot in cold blood by a man who resented the noise. The young man's friend was killed, and he survived as a paraplegic. For years, he was filled with anger as he followed an excruciating physical therapy regime that didn't seem to be getting anywhere. He finally gave up on therapy and began a spiritual quest, reading about all the faiths of the world, and he came to the conclusion that love is behind all that is good. He has forgiven the shooter (who died that same day from police gunfire), and he has moved on with his life. He is a computer programer (with special equipment) and he goes to schools talking about his experience, his spiritual transofrmation, and what it means. It reminded me of the Blibical, "Faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of thse is love."
This may sound like Pollyanna, but I think we each choose whether or not to be happy. I have, as we all have, knwn people who are comfortable, seemingly with no worries, and are miserable, but I have also known people who have a world of troubles and are still happy. Sometimes I think it's genetic--we're either born with the happy gene or we're not, but then I've known people who have found happiness fairly late in life,which leads me back to the idea that we control it. We decide to be happy or not. And deep in me, I think it depends in large part on whether or not we choose to love ourselves or others. If we put ourselves first and always seek what makes us happy, it ain't gonna' work; but if we reach out beyond ourselves, we're liable to find happiness in so doing. On the other hand, I think you have to like, if not love, yourself before you can reach out to others. A conundrum. Deep philosophical stuff for me.
Yesterday I decided that one of the things that makes me happy is contact with other people. I spent the day at home, working on the manuscript I'm editing.The wonderful lady who cleans my house was here, but we don't talk much. Beyond that and a few phone calls, I had no social contact, and it showed. Today I went to two groceery stores, mailed my income tax stuff to the accountant, and took some food to a friend who has just gotten out of the hospital. Tonight Jordan, Christian and Jacob came for supper. I made chicken chili with white beans (it had a lot of chili powder and cumin but was really good--we tried to tell Jacob it had chicken nuggets in it; he took one bite, said he liked it, and then said he didn't like it--go figure!). Anyway, it was good to be around people. I value my quiet time at home when I'm working, but I don't really like a day without some kind of social contact--and now that I'm retired I do have those, plus weekends are often that way. I'll just have to work on being happy. This weekend my plan is to cook some really good stuff for myself--Welsh rarebit and tuna cakes are high on my list.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Changing Faces

The picture is small but maybe you noticed that I changed my profile picture on the blog. The one I've used is a favorite of my kids, with me in a western-style dress left from my active days in Western Writers of America. But it's old--15 years at least, probably more like 20, and I have to admit to having aged a bit in that time. The new picture shows me in my favorite role--as Juju, the grandmother. It was taken in May 2008 when all the kids came home (maybe Mother's Day?). They had come home to have all the grandbabies dedicated at my church (the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ does not baptize infants but dedicates them to Christ, which eally amounts to asking parents to pledge to raise them in a Christian home; then when a child is about 12, he or she can attend Pastor's Class in preparation for baptism, which is a full dunk; Megan once at an older age wanted to join the church but didn't want to be dunked--a old friend of mine said, "Just lie, honey. God won't care!"). Since only one of my children is a member of the church, we couldn't have the dedication in the sanctuary during a service, but two of the ministers kindly arranged a private ceremony in the chapel. Lots of my friends came and, of course, afterward I hosted a luncheon (never miss a chance for a party is my motto). After the guests left, the kids were packing up cars. I can't remember why, but it was a long, involved process, so my job was to sit on the porch and hold three-week-old Kegan, Colin and Lisa's son and the youngest of my grandchildren. (Kegan will be three in early April--times does fly as they say). I was most content and so, obviously, was Kegan. I liked the picture, and I also liked the picture of my brother and me taken at the same time, so I'm posting it here. I think it's good to change your image once in a while.
Cold, nasty, rainy day here today. I worked all morning, went to lunch at the Black-Eyed Pea for a veggie plate--pure down-home comfort--and spent much of the afternoon at the office. The end result was that I didn't get my nap until 5:30 because I was trying to tie up odds and ends on my desk. Jordan called a bit after five and I told her I hadn't had my nap yet. She asked if it wasn't a little late for a nap and I said no, by gosh, I'm going to get my nap. I slept until 6:45, had a late cold supper, and now must get to work.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Random thoughts on the Super Bowl, dieting and cooking

I am not and never have been a football fan. I don't understand it, it seems brutal (I hope none of my grandsons play), and it seems, as someone famous once wrote, a little silly to see grown men fighting over a piece of pigskin. (It reminds me of when my children were little and we would drive by the local country club while the PGA golf tournament was going on. "Look at the silly men chasing the little white ball," I'd say. The one year my ex and I attended we didn't know about keeping children quiet near the green and got a lot of dirty looks!). Needless to say the Super Bowl doesn't interest me, although I am, like many others, sometimes tempted to watch just for the commercials. Yesterday I called my friend Charles and said I'd come visit him Sunday. "Don't come during the Super Bowl!" he said in dismay, so I said well, maybe I wouldn't come at all. "No, come ahead, we'll work it out." So I went to see him about 4:15 and was out of his hair by 5:00 when the pre-game stuff started. Since he normally goes to sleep by 7:30 I said, "You know you're not going to last the first quarter," and he said,"I'm going to watch every minute. I'm really excited about it." I left, amazed.
But tonight I've noticed how quiet the internet is.On Sundays, I monitor messages posted to the Sisters in Crime listserv (this is only my second Sunday) but late this afternoon the list went dead. Facebook had a similar absence of postings, and I've had no email except from one SinC member who must feel as I do about the game. I guess everyone else is watching it.
Shhh--don't tell them, but I've decided to give up on Weight Watchers for a while. I was flat tired of being so obsessed with points and then gaining weight in spite of it all. I exercised faithfully--bicycle and yoga--and watched what I ate. Still I gained (after an initial and good loss--I just can't lose that last 5 lbs.).When my oldest son, Colin, had a severe flare-up of his Crohn's disease, he got down to 120 lbs. and looked heartbreakingly like a survivor from Auschwitz. He could only eat little bits and no nutrition was getting through to his body (turns out the camera they had him swallow was stuck in there for several months). Anyway, after he had surgery and could enjoy food again, he shot up to almost 200 lbs--his body couldn't get past the notion that it was starving. He had an elderly dog and had to get up two or three times in the night to let the dog out--every time he did, he ate a peanut butter sandwich.
But it occurred to me, in a theory probably as hare-brained as many of mine are, that my body might know it was always hungry and was trying to store up. So today I ate a piece of bread with lunch, about 2 Tbsp. of potato left from Jacob's dinner last night with my dinner, and--oh, sin!--a quarter of a piece of my neighbor's carrot cake with that rich cream cheese frosting. I can still eat sensibly and watch what I eat without worrying about the blasted points. I'll give it a couple of weeks--if I balloon, I'll go back to rigid adherence. If I hold my own, I'll take Sue's advice that life is too short to worry about five lbs.
I mentioned the other day I was experimenting cooking with all that parchment I have on hand. Tonight I fixed salmon with green beans, lemon zest, and capers wrapped in parchment and baked in a hot oven for 15 minutes. Delicious--the salmon was moist and flavorful and the tang of the capers was a great touch. I'm going to try that egg dish again, except with spinach rather than asparagus--I decided that "bargain" asparagus I got was rather tough, though I stir-fried it quite a while last night and it was better. Anyway, all that's healthy eating--and I rode the bike today.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Out of the Mouth's of Babes

Jacob is here again tonight, but I'm still chuckling (well, half of me is) over his comments two nights ago. For the first time, he slept in the trundle in the family room--we had taken the mattress off and put it on the floor in the guest room next to my room, but he insisted he wanted to sleep in the family room (I think he thought he'd have access to the TV all night). At eleven I found him still awake, so then ensued bed-hopping. He wanted to sleep in my bed, a prospect I really didn't welcome but gave in to. So he gathered all his toys--many Spiderman figures, etc.--and got in my bed. That didn't last long--he wasn't happy. So we gathered all his toys and went back to his bed. I tucked him in, kissed him, and started away when he looked at me and said, "Last chance?" "Yeah," I said, "last chance." As I left he called out "Sweet dreams." It was after 11:30 beffore I got to bed, and then I kept rolling over on a small race car left behind--most uncomfortable. Jacob was up before seven the next morning. All I could think about for the first couple of hours of the morning was how badly I wanted to go back to bed.
 Now it's only ten, and he's down, but I'm not sure of the outlook. He had a million reasons he wasn't ready to go to bed, but I finally kissed him and left, with "Sweet dreams!" following me. He likes to play in his bed with his toys for a while, which is fine, but I'll go back in a bit and see if he's asleep.
Fixed a great dinner tonight--sauteed mushrooms, asparagus, cherry tomatoes and bay scallops. Jacob had chicken nuggets, potato with butter, and cherry tomatoes that he likes--he turned down the blueberries that he usually eats, but I enjoyed them. I've decided I've been obsessing about Weight Watchers and am going to ignore it, yet weigh weekly, eat sensibly and see what happens. With that rationalization, I had two bites of a really rich carrot cake with sinful cream cheese icing that my neighbor, Jay, made and brought over when he helped me collect paint samples to send to Megan who is remodeling and likes the color of my walls.  It's kind of taupe,and I like it a lot too.
Serious work went out the window today. I kept getting caught up in office details and emails, and I made some phone calls for the church. Finally decided working on my editing project was out for the day and finished the mystery I'm reading, started a new one. So many books, so little time.
The sun was shining all day today, and it was a welcome relief, even though it was a bit cold. No rain tomorrow but cold, and I will have to gear myself up to do the things I didn't do today--clean the dog yard, water the porch plants, etc. Then we're in this week for more cold, wet weather, and some night-time temperatures in the 20s. Punxsutawney Phil really did see his shadow this year! I am tired of being cold.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

A cooking experiment

I spent most of the morning in a staff meeting and a good share of the afternoon working on TCU Press business. In between, Jeannie and I went to Gloria's for lunch--delicious chicken vegetable soup--and DSW where we didn't find shoes to suit either of us. We had planned to go to Half Price Books in Burleson, a suburb, and eat at Babe's, where I've wanted to eat forever, but it was rainy, cold, dismal, dull--neither of us fancied the idea.
Tonight I have Jacob, though he arrived late and it was almost 7:30 before I fed us dinner. I decided on cheese toast for him, with some of those sweet cherub tomatoes he likes, plus green beans and carrots I'd cooked fresh. For myself, I experimented--I'd seen several recipes for using parchment, and since the girls had convinced me I should bring parchment to Breckenridge and then didn't use it, I have a plentiful supply. So I decided to make a recipe that called, I thought, for asparagus and mushrooms with an egg--well it turned out it was spinach and mushrooms, which would have worked better because my asparagus, not being small and tender, was almost too crisp, if that can be. But timing such a dish in a 400 degree oven can be tricky. I put it in, set Jacob's toast to broil, and then he announced he had to go potty. Only two minutes left on my egg--I like my eggs runny but cooked, and I was afraid of overcooking. So I turned the oven off and cracked it, tended to Jacob, who then said he wanted his pajamas. I got them, but he began unloading his backpack. And when I'd say, "Jacob, come put your pajamas on," he'd reply, "Be patient, Juju, be patient." LIttle does he realize that's not one of his grandmother's best traits. Finally I left him, got the dinners, and he ate in his underwear. My egg was sort of like a fried egg with bits of runny white (not appealing) on the plate. I think it became fried  rather than poached becuase of my ineptness at the parchment technique, but it's a recipe I'll try again.
Jacob is sleeping in the family room for the first time tonight. He's been sleeping in the guest room (next to my room) on a mattress on the floor, but we promised him, after much begging, that we would put the mattress back on the trundle bed where it belongs (improves my decorating no end). Of course, there's that usual adjustment--"I'm scared," "I want the light on," etc. So right now I'm holding my breath. The light is very bright, and I'm afraid he won't go to sleep, but the monitor is quiet so far. I have to have him up, fed and dressed by 8:30 tomorrow--a rush for both of us.
It's been over two weeks since he spent the night, and I was as delighted to have him as he was to be here. We had a good happy evening, though when he wanted to be left alone he'd say, "Go read your book." That child is getting to sophisticated--and insighful--a vocabulary.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Of chefs and restaurants

I always used to laugh that Cafe Aspen, a bistro-type restaurant, was our family restaurant. Colin and Jordan each worked there briefly but Jamie worked there most of his way through college. The owner, David Rotman, became a friend who would do lovely things like take one look at me and say, "Sorry, we're full." I was always glad to go there because I got a nice welcome and the food was good. Betty and I used to go for appetizers and wine in the evenings some.
David took a management position at a local country club and entered into an arrangement with a chef and his wife to run the restaurant. I went there a few times, found the food innovative and good, if expensive, and the chef's wife really friendly. One night she stopped to talk several times, explained terms we didn't know. But this week the chef and his wife walked away from it, leaving David with an empty restaurant that he'd run for twenty years. I called him to say I was sorry, and he sounded down. But interestingly he talked about a chef-driven kitchen. I'd never thought about the difference. David is a manager, not a cook, though I think he did a cooking demonstration for one of our church groups several years ago. But he ran a business and ran it well, leaving the cooking to his staff, though he was knowledgeable about food. With a chef, cooking is an art, the menu changes--they kept none of the recipes longtime customers were used to (I loved the spinach-stuffed baked potato and included the recipe in Cooking My Way Through Life with Kids and Books, after I had to call David to decipher his handwriting). The new recipes were good, no doubt about it, and the emphasis on fresh, local foods was welcome, but the prices went up--and I never did see many people in there. I think the big thing that was missing was David's personality--he table-hopped, greeting customers and making each feel like his favorite. He's hoping, and I am too, that someone will come along and want to revitalize what was a going business.
I always wanted to own a restaurant but got over the bug by running the cash register at The Star Cafe, owned by Betty and her husband, on Saturday nights for several years. Now, with David's example, I'm glad I never got the chance. I'd have lost the family fortune, such as it is.

I've apprently gotten over my lazy fit, at least temporarily. Yesterday I wrote another TIP sheet that includes the synopsis of an unwritten novel that has only the barest shape in my mind. Writing the synopsis made it clearer and brought some new ideas to the surface. Then I wrote about a 1,000 words on the work-in-progress, finally got through the scene I had in mind and a new one popped along. So it was a profitable day. Betty and I went to dinner and I celebrated with lobster roll--really good. Today has been a dreary dull day, the kind that makes you feel cold even though it wasn't actually that bad in temperature. I stayed in all day and got a really good start on an editing project for another press. The book is interesting, and I moved right along, enjoying the text. Braved the weather to see a hospitalized friend, came home for supper,and will get back to my editing. The novel I was reading is on the back burner for now.
A plea: did I loan The School of Essential Ingredients to anyone reading this blog? If so and if you'd just tell mewhere it is, I'd be happy. I read  it on Kindle, liked it so much I bought a copy, now can't find it.

Monday, February 01, 2010


I have apparently mastered the art of procrastination.This morning I woke up (very late) thinking I had a whole day to write. I knew, of course, I wouldn't write all day but I thought I could get in a couple of solid two-hour stretches. Well, I fiddled the morning away reading emails, watching TV, checking Facebook, doing a laundry, etc., so it was 10:30 before I went to the office to do the 30 minutes worth of things I had to do there. Then I came home and waited for my lunch friend to call--she had an emergency 10:30 dental appointment for a cracked tooth, thought she'd be through by noon. Well, of course I couldn't settle down to write, never knowing when she'd call, so I spent fruitless time on Web sites trying to renew prescriptions, check my credit card bill, etc.--do NOT get me started on Web sites and automated phone systems. More email (I always have plenty of that to read and some to respond to). Just as I was about to give up and eat lunch, Carol called at almost 1 p.m., so we met at Carshon's and had a good and productive visit. Home to more emails, etc.,though I did read the last two chapters of what I've written to be sure of where I'm going next. I truly had it in my head, but instead of writing it I settled for reading my current mystery--Murder with Peacocks by Donna Andrews. When you talk about cozy mysteries with humor, this one beats all, with  a wacky southern family, three weddings, a daughter who's trying to keep it all together, and, of course, a murder.
Well, then, of course I had to have a nap, get up, feed the dog, and do my yoga, plus feed myself because I knew a friend was coming by for a visit about 6:30. We chattered and gossipped until 8:15,  and then I had to fold laundry, get the dog in, feed the cat, brush my teeth and all that night-time stuff. Then more emails. Plus I felt obliged to write to some friends I hadn't heard from for a long time--someone asked about them at dinner last night.
Long story short, here it is after ten and I'm blogging instead of writing. And, excuse me, but I'm going to go back to Murder with Peacocks. Not a word written, though the next scenes are clear in my head. Such is retirement--and it's good.