Monday, November 29, 2010


What are your reading expectations when you pick up a book? Entertainment? Knowledge? Escape from the mundane? Maybe it depends upon your mood, the season, personal drama?  Sometimes nothing but a serious read will do.  To delve into the history of a certain time period can make one feel like such an adult--to choose to study rather than have it inflicted upon.

But times in between I need a witty book, well-written of course.  Humor with style is the dessert after  serious reading.

The Provincial Lady in London by E.M. Delafield is dessert.  I reviewed her first book, Diary of  a Provincial Lady here. Delafield's style of writing is so current yet the book was written in the 1930's.  I first learned of Delafield from Simon (Stuck in a Book), and she is now one of my favorite writers.

Our Provincial Lady (PL) is a wife, mother, and writer living in the southern English countryside. Money is usually an issue so there are strained relations with her banker; a flat to be had in London despite tight finances; another writing deadline looming overhead; and the usual flare-ups (humorous and otherwise) with friends and family.

PL shows great wit and wisdom tracking the ups and downs of her life.  In one entry she keeps putting off having a difficult conversation with her daughter's Governess (Mademoiselle): "Decide to do so immediately after breakfast, but find myself inventing urgent errands in quite other parts of the house, which occupy me until Mademoiselle safely started for walk with Vicky (daughter). (Query: Does not moral cowardice often lead to very marked degree of self-deception? Answer: Most undoubtedly yes.)"

If you can't find the time to plow through a book right now, this might be a good choice for you since you can easily snatch a little here and a little there. It's a good book to have stashed in your car or bag when you snag a bit of unexpected time to read.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Wouldn't it be great if there were six to eight weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas?  I think so.  To have a few more days to savor Thanksgiving seems a bit more civilized to me instead of rushing straight into "Black Friday".

This cute turkey was made by my darling niece when she was in 2nd grade. She is now in 7th grade (it kills me). The neck of the turkey is attached to a little bucket into which we place notes describing what each of us are thankful for. This little guy is always the centerpiece and brings a little tear to my eye when he takes the stage. Life is passing way too quickly!

Our Thanksgiving dinner was just right this year.  Every year I complain about cooking the bird.  I've roasted, deep-fried, barbecued, smoked, and had it cooked in a pit.  But at the end of the day I still have to deal with the whole blasted carcass of the bird.  So this year I wised up and bought two turkey breasts and treated it to the most delicious process--brining.  Hallelujah.  It was perfect and no leftover bones and such to deal with.  Here are a few new recipes I tried for today's dinner--all were a success.

Hope your Thanksgiving was lovely!

Brining Recipe (courtesy of Good Housekeeping)
  • 1/4 cup(s) sugar
  • 1/4 cup(s) kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoon(s) coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoon(s) cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon(s) ground ginger
  • 4 clove(s) garlic, crushed with side of chef's knife
  • 1  (about 4 1/2 pounds) whole boneless turkey breast, skin removed and breast cut lengthwise in half
  • 2 tablespoon(s) brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon(s) Dijon mustard
  1. Prepare brine: In 2-quart saucepan, heat 1 cup water with sugar, salt, coriander seeds, pepper, and ginger to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 2 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and add 3 cups ice water.
  2. Place turkey breast in large self-sealing plastic bag with brine and garlic. Seal bag, pressing out excess air. Place bag in bowl or in small roasting pan and refrigerate breast 24 to 48 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove breast from bag; discard brine and garlic. Rinse bird and pat dry. Place breast on rack in small roasting pan (14 by 10 1/2 inches). Insert meat thermometer into thickest part of breast. Roast 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in cup, mix brown sugar and mustard. Brush mustard glaze over turkey breast. Roast 20 minutes longer or until temperature on meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees F (temperature will rise 5 degrees upon standing). Transfer breast to cutting board and let stand 10 minutes to set juices for easier slicing. Serve hot, or cover and refrigerate to serve cold. 
Note: You may have to buy a bone-in breast weighing about 6 to 7 pounds. Ask the butcher to bone it for you (or do it yourself).

Sweet Potatoes/Yams (this one I made up)

6-8 sweet potatoes or yams (I used Red Garnets, could be Yams, could be Sweet Potatoes, there is a whole debate about the difference)
1 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 stick unsalted butter cut into chunks

Peel and slice the yams and place in a buttered dish.  Combine the sugar, cinnamon, and pecans and sprinkle on top.  Add the butter chunks.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 90 minutes.  If after one hour it is getting too dark, cover with foil or you could add a few marshmallows on top for the last 30 minutes.

This recipe comes from my friend, Debbie, who served this at her election night party--divine!


8 sausage links (I bought the chicken apple sausage from Costco)
6 cups red grapes
balsamic vinegar to taste (I used about 1/4 cup)

Grill the sausages until dark.  Place the grapes in a heavy pot and place the grilled sausages on top.  Cook at 350 degrees for one hour.  Remove the sausages from the pot and set aside.  Pour balsamic vinegar over the grapes and heat on the stove mashing the grapes as you stir.  After about 15 minutes add the sausages back to the pot and serve.

Phyllis' Pecan Pie with my homemade crust!  Yea, I made pie crust again and it turned out even better than last time.  Click here for Phyllis' recipe.

Pie Crust

1 cup ice cold water
2 1/2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Teaspoon salt
2 sticks of chilled unsalted butter, diced

Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a chilled bowl (unless your kitchen is already cool, which means you must not live in Arizona)

Add the diced butter to the flour mix and cut in with a pastry blender until the butter is the size of peas

Drizzle about a 1/2 cup of the ice cold water to the mixture and quickly gather it together using a spatula. If you need more water (glue) add a tablespoon at a time. Once it is coming together, divide the dough and wrap it in plastic and place in the fridge for two hours. (If you are not making a double-crust pie you can freeze it for future use.)

Remove the dough and roll (roll, don't stretch) it out onto a floured board. When you have the size you want, fold it in half and place in pie dish. Unfold and gently press into place. If you can, put it back in the fridge for two hours, the gluten will relax and the crust will be more flavorful and flakey.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I felt like a kid again.  Waking up early in the morning, piling into the car, and heading to some beautiful location in Arizona.  I remember my Dad would back the car into the driveway (to make it easier to load the trunk, no doubt) and then pull straight out, car aimed toward our destination.  Not backing out of the driveway the usual way for school, church, or mundane errands signaled we were on vacation.

A few Saturdays ago my two sisters, niece and I took a day trip to Sedona.  It had been raining up there for three straight days with no rain in the forecast for our excursion.  I knew it would be perfect. As we drove up north we dipped down through the Verde Valley (sadly, no pics, light too low) where spectacular moisture-laden clouds were hanging low.  What a great opening to our trip.  Officially leaving our cares behind, we took the exit toward Sedona and then we had our first peek at those gorgeous red rocks.

Red Rock State Park
The clouds swirled by all day so the light was constantly changing. My friend, Chris, professional photographer, would have loved the challenge and the surroundings.

Red Rock State Park
Somewhere in the brush is the famous Vortex.  Never did see it nor did we feel a change of "energy". Although any time I'm standing smack dab in the middle of Nature at her finest, senses are sharpened and I'm energized.  Same thing? Don't know.

Red Rock State Park

Wilson Mountain, Oak Creek Canyon 
Views such as this one tends to give me a refreshed perspective.  Does it you?

Driving up Oak Creek Canyon I remembered Garland's Lodge.  I have always wanted to stay there.

So we turned off the highway and drove down a narrow road over Oak Creek.

You just know something special is around the corner.

Isn't this just the welcome you want to receive when you have a booked a few nights at a lodge?  Garland's Lodge is tucked into the canyon far from the busy 89A.  A stay at Garland's includes afternoon tea, dinner, and breakfast.  Apparently the food is so good that a cookbook has been published, Sharing Our Table at Garland's Lodge

Photo by E. Rees (darling niece)
We hadn't booked anything, of course.  We were just snooping around this gorgeous property mentally tucking away a future stay.  (Actually, for several days I daydreamed about coming back to stay, by myself, for two nights, never leaving the property upon arriving.)

That's my future cabin, right behind me. Hmmm. Sigh.

Pumpkins stand at attention atop the stone wall.

Photo by E. Rees

Moving on.  We headed back down the canyon and toward the mining town of Jerome.  But first, a quick stop for terrific views from Oak Creek Airport.

Capitol Butte and Brins Mesa

Jerome, Arizona
Jerome is an old copper mining town.  Once a thriving town it is now filled with artisans and biker bars.

Jerome, Arizona

My friend, Liz, told me about the Asylum Restaurant at the Jerome Hotel.  It is perched above the town with great views and a ghoulish interior.  We were there the weekend of Day of the Dead so the creepy factor was sky high.  We stayed long enough to have a soda on the patio.

We decided we hadn't had enough of Sedona so instead of taking a different route back home we went back to Sedona, stopped at a street fair, and then went home the same way we came.

So, when was your last day trip?  If it's been a while, grab a map and start planning. We didn't do anything fancy on this trip and spent very little money.  No jeep tours or overnight stays.  If the weather had been warmer we would have brought a picnic.  The scenery was spectacular and the company undemanding.  Consider grabbing family or friends, camera and map, and carve out a day to explore and refresh.

Friday, November 19, 2010


I made another chili recipe. Yep. I think that makes five chili recipes I've posted and I love them all.  But apparently I like to try new variations of chili so I keep adding to my collection. Enjoy this one which includes special instructions from  Cook's Illustrated to make the turkey chunkier.


2tablespoons vegetable oil or corn oil
2medium onions , chopped fine (about 2 cups)
1red bell pepper , cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4cup chili powder
1tablespoon ground cumin
2teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 - 1teaspoon red pepper flakes
1teaspoon dried oregano
1/4-1/2teaspoon cayenne pepper
2pounds 93 percent lean ground turkey
2(15.5-ounce) cans dark red kidney beans , drained and rinsed (as you can see, I used pinto beans)
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes , with juice
(28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2cups low-sodium chicken broth
Table salt
2limes , cut into wedges


  1. 1. Heat oil in large heavy-bottomed nonreactive Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano, and cayenne; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add half the turkey; cook, breaking up pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink and just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. 2. Add beans, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, and 1 teaspoon salt; bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Pat remaining 1 pound turkey together into ball, then pinch off teaspoon-sized pieces of meat and stir into chili. Continue to simmer about 40 minutes longer, stirring occasionally (if chili begins to stick to bottom of pot, stir in 1/2 cup water and continue to simmer), until turkey is tender and chili is dark and slightly thickened. Adjust seasoning with additional salt. Serve with lime wedges and condiments if desired.

    Perfect Ground Turkey:  Since the key to this recipe is its long simmering process, we avoided extra-lean ground turkey, which we knew would turn mealy and flavorless with prolonged cooking. We used 93 percent lean instead. Nevertheless, after two hours of simmering, the turkey had disintegrated and the chili resembled Bolognese sauce. We solved this problem by dividing the meat in half and adding one installment at the beginning of cooking and the second an hour later, pinching off teaspoon-sized lumps of turkey for chunkier texture. Our final adjustment was to reduce the total cooking time by 20 minutes.

Monday, November 15, 2010


One night while staring at the blank wall in my study, I came upon an idea to fill the space. I knew I wanted a beautiful bulletin board and I wanted it big.  Not two feet by three feet but four feet wide and five feet high.  Anything pre-made would be $$$$$.  So, while staring at the wall I thought about homasote, that 1/2 inch thick tack board that, if covered, would work.  I also remembered that Renee at Mesa Sales had ordered linen fabric covered in French writing. The next morning I went to Home Depot--no homasote.  But was told that white wall board would work even better.  For around $18 I bought an 8 x 6 wall board, cut down to one 5 x 4 and two 2 x 3 pieces. 

Staple gun in hand, I completed the project in less than 30 minutes.  And since my desk is deep, I didn't want it to hang on the wall but to lean, thereby easily accessed. 

Fabric - $18 per yard

This pattern caught my eye and would take care of using more of the board remnants and fill this space in my bathroom nicely. It is also French writing on linen but with an overlaying bird and branch pattern.

I stapled cording onto the back of the board to hang on a pretty little crown hook I bought in Paris last year.

A super simple project done quickly and for $ as opposed to $$$$.  Yea!

Friday, November 12, 2010


This is from Dr. Alex Junger's Clean Diet--which I have not done.  However, the combination of peaches and cardamom sounded intriguing. It isn't too sweet, actually a bit savory which I liked.  My sister and I split it and gave it a thumb's up.


Serves 2

1/4 cup almond butter
2 cardamom pods or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 cups pure water
1 cup frozen peaches
1 to 2 teaspoons agave syrup
1/2 cup ice

Blend together until smooth.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Travel is very conflicting, don't you think?   We all love to travel and to sleep in pretty hotel rooms, we love to be home and sleep in our own bed.  Can't wait to leave, can't wait to return.  Unless you are plopped on a beach for a week, travel is not restful or relaxing, but an adventure.  And it is addictive.

Part of the fun is collecting items for my home as I travel along.  Each of my little finds serve as reminders of villages, crazy-busy cities, people, monuments, etc. 

Several years ago on a visit to London I had purchased two French furniture drawings in water color from Abbott and Holder.  I regretted not buying more.  So a few months ago while browsing at Abbott and Holder, I asked the manager if he had any more the little faded gems.  He dug around and by the next morning had unearthed five!  All for a reasonable price.  I bought them all.  Haven't had them framed yet--framing sometimes is more money than the actual artwork.  But one by one they will be matted, framed, and placed on a wall to remind me of my visit.

This gorgeous silver journal was hidden on a "sale" shelf at Liberty.  Marked down because of a slight tear on the last page of the book--half-off, it quickly became mine.  I thought it was fitting to fill it with notes from my Oxford class.

And, remember these beauties?  What I didn't show you was how pretty the books are inside.

Matching bookmarks and endpapers.

Really, Persephone thinks of everything.

Belgian is known for its chocolates, linens, and lace.  For me, chocolates and linen are a definite yes, but lace, not so much.  So I purchased one dozen of these unbleached linen napkins. Thanksgiving will be the perfect dinner to be introduced to the family.

In Brussels, we stopped by a tiny little needlepoint shop full of tapestries and pillows.  These whimsical and colorful pillows caught my eye.  I purchased a total of five different patterns.

Hen and Hammock sells an authentic English Sussex Trug made from sweet chestnut.  Harder to find than you might think and too much money to have shipped to the states, I placed an order to be delivered to Christ Church College.  Then I had to figure out how to get it home in the flimsy box it came in.

Suddenly the thought came to me to reinforce it from the inside (thank you, Dad!)  and I did so with extra cardboard found on campus.  By reinforcing the box and padding the trug with clothes, I was able to check this on my flight (with several "fragile" stickers) and lo and behold it made it home in perfect condition.

Twice, I have carried large breakable bowls onto the plane to bring home (from Ireland and Austria).  It was worth the inconvience to cart these heavy bowls made by local artisans because not only are they beautiful, but I am reminded of who I was with and where I was when each were purchased.

Sometimes you have to be creative in getting your new acquisition home.  I once kept every empty plastic water bottle from a trip and used them to pad my breakables stashed in my luggage and it worked--nothing was broken. It's worth a bit of inconvenience to bring home tangible memories of great adventures, don't you think?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

HALLOWEEN SUPPER - Chili, Cornbread, Apple Salad

Halloween is a super fun night in our neighborhood.  Lots of sweet (and not so sweet) Trick or Treaters, of course.  We relaxed and caught up with the friends that live next door or around the corner.  Twenty of our pals joined us for a Halloween supper that was just right to counteract all that sugar (thank you Jennifer, Jody, Sheli, and Christine). Although, I still had a sugar hangover the next morning.....

Spicy Beef Chili and Cornbread; Wild Rice and Chicken Soup (see previous post); Mini Shredded Pork Sandwiches; and Apple Salad.

Texas Chili

Serves 6 to 8.   Published November 28, 2006.  
Chuck-eye roasts are notoriously fatty, so don’t be surprised if you trim off 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of fat. Avoid precut beef labeled “beef for stew”it could be beef round or boneless shoulder roast, which will turn out dry and tough. For a milder chili, use the lower amount of chipotle; for a spicy chili, use the upper amount of chipotle. Serve with chopped fresh cilantro, minced onion, diced avocado, shredded cheddar or jack cheese, and sour cream.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 medium onions , minced
8 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 8 teaspoons)
1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons ground cumin


1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
5 pound chuck-eye roast , trimmed, and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
2 (15.5 ounces each) cans pinto beans or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup Minute Tapioca
2-4 tablespoons minced chipotle chile in adobo
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar , plus more to taste
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano leaves , or 1 teaspoon dried

Ground black pepper


  1. 1. Heat the oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions, garlic, chili powder, tomato paste, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook until the onions are softened and lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree, scraping up any browned bits.
  2. 2. Transfer the onion and tomato mixture to the slow cooker insert, and stir in the beef, beans, broth, tapioca, chipotles, soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and oregano until evenly combined. Cover and cook on low until the meat is tender, 9 to 11 hours. (Alternatively, cover and cook on high for 5 to 7 hours.)
  3. 3. Gently tilt the slow cooker insert and degrease as much fat as possible off the surface of the chili using a large, flat spoon. Season with salt, pepper, and brown sugar to taste, and serve.

Jennifer’s Favorite Corn Bread
(Adapted from Betty Crocker’s New Cookbook ©1996)

1 cup milk
¼ cup butter, melted
1 large egg
¼ c. unsweetened applesauce*
¼ c. light sour cream*
1 ¼ cups yellow, white or blue cornmeal (I use yellow)
1 c. all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar**
1 T. baking powder
1 t. baking soda*
½ t. salt

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 9” round or 8” square pan.

In large bowl, beat egg until frothy. Mix in milk and butter, and then fold in applesauce and sour cream. In another bowl, add cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt; mix with wire whisk to combine. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir just until four is moistened (batter will still be lumpy). Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs. (I spread a little softened butter over the top immediately after removing from oven to keep it moist but still crunchy.)

NOTE: Items with a single asterisk are my adds; **I reduce the sugar by half from the original recipe. Also, when I double this for a 9x13 pan, I use three eggs (vs. two) and 2 ¼ cups cornmeal (vs. 2 ½).

Jody's Western Waldorf (adapted from Sunset Magazine recipe)


  • 1/4  cup  unfiltered apple juice
  • 1  teaspoon  roasted walnut or almond oil, or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/8  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  Pink Lady apples (or another sweet-tart variety such as Jonathan or Piñata)
  • 1/2  cup  toasted coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 2  large tangerines, peeled and sections cut in half
  • 1  cup  seedless red or green grapes, halved


1. In a small bowl, whisk apple juice, oil, salt, cinnamon, and pepper until blended.
2. Core apples, cut into thin wedges, and cut wedges in half crosswise. In a salad bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour dressing over fruit and nuts and mix gently to coat.