Sunday, August 30, 2015

The great stewed tomato search goes on

Naturally, I became obsessed today with stewed tomatoes.  Once I thought about them,  I had to research them thoroughly.

My first recipe was listed as “The Best Stewed Tomatoes Every.”  This was written by Brooklyn Farm Girl.  I questioned whether a New Yorker would know a tomato if they saw one.  Talk about being sterotyped.

I read the recipe and she ended up crying over making this recipe and I thought that was so sweet.  The recipe was pretty boring to me.  Tomatoes, salt, sugar, chopped green pepper and parsley.  It didn’t strike me as anything special but I may try the recipe with one tomato.  Brooklyn Farm Girl is very interesting.  If you are into gardens and cats check her out.

I’m going to cook all these recipes with just one tomato so if I find that I don’t like it I am not wasting my tomatoes.  I just asked the hubster if he was going to try them as his story of stewed tomatoes was school cafeteria food.  Not very pleasant cafeteria food either.  He said it depended on how it smelled.

The next recipe was pretty much the same but listed as Italian Stewed Tomatoes.  They added basil to their recipe.  I’d eat that.

Mint in tomatoes?  That is the special ingredient in the recipe I clicked on next.  And jalapeno pepper.

Next click and I was reminded to add lemon juice if I was going to can my stewed tomatoes.  This lady also added butter to her recipe.

My cookbook had a recipe for stewed tomatoes that called for adding bread crumbs at the end before serving.  Another recipe I clicked on line called to add these lovely homemade croutons before serving.  They looked great!

The hubster’s cookbook called for bread crumbs during the cooking of the stewed tomatoes and then had an addition recipe for Stewed Green Tomatoes.  I might try that one too.
My mother’s cookbook was tomatoes, salt, sugar and butter.  Grandma’s cookbook said the same.

One recipe called for chopped celery.  I might like that.  I love celery too.  Another recipe called for a can of tomatoes.  Can we ruin this recipe any further?

To bread crumb or to crouton?  To butter or not to butter?

My search for Mexican stewed tomatoes came up with a doozie.  She added all the Mexican herbs, oregano, cumin, cayenne and parsley.  Parsley?  Isn’t cilantro much more Mexican than parsley?  She also added celery, onions, garlic and red and green peppers.  I think if I tried this recipe I would add cilantro and not parsley.

Hungarian stewed peppers made my mouth water.  She started off with bacon grease.  A girl after my own heart!    She used tomatoes, banana or green peppers, onion, sugar, salt and paprika.  Oh my but the photo is lovely.  She suggested serving with rice or adding Debreceni sausage or smoked or fresh Hungarian sausage.  At the end of her recipe she suggested whipping 4 eggs and adding them to the tomatoes.  Strange?  And other idea was to add a fried egg.  I just love the Hungarians, don’t you?

The search for Chinese stewed tomatoes came up with listed five ingredients before listing tomatoes.  Prioritize, people!  This one chopped her onions, scallion and garlic in the food processor before sautéing it.  I love it, she suggested using Hungarian peppers, or gypsies or poblanos.  Other ingredients included coriander, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar.  I have all of these ingredients except the pepper so I might try this one too.

Rustic stewed tomatoes brought up a bunch of recipes with meat.  I’m thinking veggie all the way.  But that Debreceni sausage sounded pretty good.  Click on that puppy.  I didn’t know there were so many kinds of sausage.  (Could be my next obsession for a blog.)

Greek stewed tomatoes brought up a recipe for Okra and Tomatoes.  I hate okra.  It is so snotty.  This recipe called for the whole pod.  No, I’m not trying that one.

The French recipe surprised me.  I figured the snooty French would have something like escargot or Maurice Chavalier in it. (Can you believe I spelled that right on the first crack?)  But no, their recipe called for the usual, tomatoes, salt and sugar plus basil.  Then they made homemade croutons and lightly dropped on the top before serving.

The Canadians, being the boring group that they are, (just kidding) not only used Italian sausage but called for a CAN of Italian stewed tomatoes.  They can’t even make an ethnic Canadian dish!

Beef Stew came up when I surfed Japanese stewed tomatoes.  Leave it to the Japanese to mess up a perfectly simple little dish with their expensive beef.  The next down the line offered Ratatouille.  (No I had to look up the spelling.)  The recipe used three eggplants and only one tomato.

One Indian stewed tomatoes recipe was from Canada.  I love it.  Sometimes the internet can be so entertaining.  Now Martha Stewart got in on this act.  She purchased a CAN of best quality tomato sauce to make her East Indian Stew.  Who qualifies as the best quality out there?  Inquiring minds want to know.

My next hit on Indian stewed tomatoes came up with okra again.  In India they are referred to as “lady fingers”.  I refer to them as finger down my throat!  She used a pound of okra and two medium tomatoes.  No thank you.  The rest of the recipe sounded good with cayenne, cumin and turmeric added.  (Does anyone keep turmeric on hand?)  I do.

Indonesian stewed tomatoes came up with a really unique idea of putting in shredded coconut.  Actually it was a Filipino recipe.  Of course at that time I had to surf Filipino vs Philipino and the F word (?) is Anglicized.  Oh well, the world turns as usual.  Onion, garlic, onion powder and ground ginger completed the recipe.  I might try that.

My never ending search found the Jamaicans making fish and tomato stew but further down there was a Jamican recipe for Frankfurter Sausage.  Dear God!  Another sausage?  It was a video and I didn’t watch as I would be longing to be in Jamaica and yes, I would probably try the recipe in Jamaica.  I’d eat Jamaican okra to be in Jamaica.

And so I have wasted a very nice Sunday morning being obsessed with stewed tomatoes, but look here, I have my blog all ready to post for the day.  Now I need a picture to post with it.

You should have seen the pile yesterday.

Of all of the helpful hints and little tricks of the food trade that I have learned in my life, none beat the hint of making a winter tomato from the grocery taste more like a real tomato.  The hint, you ask – slice the tomato or chop it or however you are going to use it and then salt it.  Leave it out at room temperature at least an hour or more before you use it.  I also pepper mine and depending on what my recipe is I add herbs.  I add basil or marjoram if using in an Italian recipe.  If I am making salsa I add cilantro.

You see, when the grocery store puts their tomatoes on the chill rack, the winter tomato which didn’t taste like a tomato to begin with, loses all of it flavor.  I think they probably have some rule and regulation about keeping produce cold or some other idiotic law that some idiotic politician came up with.  And this politician has never eaten a real tomato to boot and doesn’t have a clue about tomatoes.

I am writing about the almighty tomato because I just had one and it was so good I had to dart to my computer and write about it.  It was a beefsteak tomato from my garden.  I had picked it a couple of days ago.  My tomatoes are not being good puppies this summer.  The vines are almost all dead and the few tomatoes I have are turning brown and rotting on the vine.  I have to keep vigil watch over them to save what I can.

I have to admit here that I have a pantry full of food.  I am a food hoarder as I have told you before.  Yesterday I made fresh vegetable soup and canned it for my winter pleasure.  (Did you know you have to process soup for 55 minutes?  It is truly a labor of love.)  I made seven pints and tucked them away to cool overnight.  I made 7 quarts of tomatoes last week and 6 pints of spaghetti sauce the week before.

So, I am not lacking in the tomato department.  I have enjoyed all that I wanted.  We have had BLTs at least once a week for a couple of months.  I have made salsa several times.  I have made my cherry tomato salad with feta several times.  I have had beef steaks with bleu cheese and ranch several times.  It is a wonder that I don’t turn into a tomato.

I am much like my father and I hope what happened to him in his later years doesn’t happen to me.  His system grew to hate tomatoes.  His mouth would break out in blisters if he ate one.  He had to give up ketchup, spaghetti sauce, the works!

I thought that I would share some recipes today:

Tomato feta salad
Toss a bunch of cherry tomatoes or chopped tomatoes in a bowl with four or five chopped basil leaves.  Add chunks of feta cheese.  Top with Italian dressing or that wonderful raspberry vinaigrette.
Bruschetta salad
Quarter a bunch of cherry tomatoes or chop some regular tomatoes and toss with four or five basil leaves.  Add chopped parsley, chopped onion, marjoram or oregano.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Top with Italian dressing and put that on your little bread toasts.  A little bit of bleu cheese is very good also.

Beefsteaks with bleu cheese
The hubster had this in Kentucky at a restaurant once when he was there on business.  He said, “You have to make this.”  We have been making it every year for some time.  I always grow one beefsteak tomato.
Slice a bigass beefsteak tomato and put on a pretty plate.  I have a green square plate that looks so nice.  Top with salt and pepper to taste.  Not too much salt because the bleu cheese is salty.  Crumble bleu cheese over the tomatoes.  Allow to sit at room temperature at least an hour.  Top with ranch dressing and serve.  Don’t be surprised if your eating guests lick their plate.

Grilled tomatoes
Cut the top off the tomato and get a grapefruit spoon and dig out the guts.  Chop this with finely diced onion, garlic, parmesan cheese, a Tablespoon of dry bread crumbs, some chopped basil and a dash of oregano.

Put all this stuffing back into the tomato and grill on a piece of aluminum foil until warm through.

As a child my mother never really did much to our tomatoes.  She just sliced a big plate full and we ate them.  She never made stewed tomatoes and I have never had them in my life.  I think I am going to research this and come up with a recipe for stewed tomatoes because I never met a tomato I didn’t like.

PS  My girlfriend’s family did eat stewed tomatoes and they called it “train wreck”.  Don’t you just love that?

Friday, August 28, 2015

I have read several articles regarding libraries lately and it has caused me to think about all my adventures in libraries.

When I was a little girl, many, many, years ago, I played library in my yard.  I would take a little book shelf outside and bring books from our bookshelves out to the yard shelf.  My neighbors would come over and I would pretend to check out the books to them.  I’d write down their name and the name of the book and tell them when the due date was.  Some took the books home, others just turned right back around and returned the book and choose another.  Of course, when my mother discovered that I was loaning out our few books, I was made to stop playing library.

We didn’t really have all that many books.  We had a very old set of encyclopedia.  (I still to this day sing that Disney song when I write the word “encyclopedia”.)  I remember Grimm’s Fairy Tales and maybe ten or twelve other books.  I know we had several copies of the Bible.

My first memory of a library was at school.  I was amazed that we could get books and take them home.  My mom did read to me when I was young.

The Reading Mother
Strickland Gillilan

I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath.
I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.
I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.
I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings--
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be--
I had a Mother who read to me.
I have always adored that poem and wanted to share it with you.

As a teenager, my best friend and I would be taken to the library every weekend by her mother, Mabel.  I adored Mabel (but that is another blog to be written).  I remember reading Beany Malone stories.  I can’t remember much of the plots but I think they were kind of like Scooby Doo sans dog.

I graduated into Victorian gothic novels when I was in high school.  After that I read things required for school and discovered The Ugly American, 1984, Animal Farm, Catcher in the Rye and then the ultimate – Atlas Shrugged.

I used to go to the library at college and listen to albums on the headphones.  My roommate who worked the front desk would come back to shushed me up.  Evidently I was singing at the top of my lungs and didn’t realize it.  I believe this happened more than once.

My first job at college was in the language library.  I doled out Spanish, German and other reel to reel tapes of language practice to the students taking the classes.  When they broke I would have to splice them back together.  I have to believe this messed up some foreign words, wouldn’t you think?

After college I discovered spy and war novels.  The Dirty Dozen was one of my favorites.  I consumed Len Deighton, Desmond Bagley, Frederick Forsythe, just to name a few.  If you have never read Shibumi, you must.

When I had children I took them to the library in downtown Dayton.  It was wonderful.  Three floors of books and they were all mine for the taking.  We checked out tons of books in those years we lived in Dayton.  Once I discovered that Addi had written in one of the books.  I got it erased pretty well but when we took the books back I made Addi confess to the librarian.  It took strength and a few tears but she finally explained and apologized to the librarian and I am pretty sure she never wrote in a library book again.

When we moved to Illinois I found out that we were in such a district that we could not get a library card for free.  I purchased a library card for the Rockford library each year.  I believe the last one was $120.00.  When the girls went to college I dropped the library card.

I had purchased and saved many paperback novels over the years and I yearned for a library in our loft.  One year for Christmas the hubster asked what I wanted for Christmas and I told him, “a library in the loft.”  Ta da -- Library in the loft.  I have alphabetized all the books in our library.  At last count we had 918 books and that is not counting the bookshelf of informational books, college textbooks (why did I keep those?) and National Geographic magazines.

I took my first internet class at the North Suburban Library in Rockford.  I leaned all about surfing the internet.  I also hit my only porno site during that class and I was so embarrassed I could have died.  This little old lady next to me about fainted.

I believe Addi still owes $20.00 to that North Suburban Library.

In the past ten years or so I have taken to people books.  I like books about a character, what they think and do and their interactions with others.  Some of my favorites are:  The Shipping News, The Red Garden, The Life of Pi, and Shibumi.  You just have to read Shibumi – it is about a spy who goes caving with the greatest character ever written.  He and his Japanese lover have fifth dimension sex.  It is so cool.

I became a Kindle reader about three years ago but still read an occasional real book.  I joined a Master Gardener Book Club this year and almost all the books we read are real books.  And we meet during the winter at the Freeport library.  We have our own little conference room and it is so much fun talking about our reading experience and what we came away with from the book.

I really want to read the new Harper Lee book, Go Set a Watchman.  I’ve been thinking that I should just go to the library and find a comfy chair and start reading.  An hour here and an hour there and pretty soon I finished the book, didn’t have to buy it, store it or dust it.
I love libraries!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

This week’s retirement adventure turned out to be a lesson in Mah Jong.  There is a group of ladies here at the Lake that gather together and play.  One of the members is part of my front gate garden crew.  She asked if I would be interested in learning how to play.  Since I am game for anything once, I agreed.

She called me on Wednesday and invited me over to get a lesson.  Another gardener joined us and we played a three handed and ignored the north partner.

I must say that there are certainly a lot of rules and regulations in this game.  I brought my set that my wonderful departed friend, Dave, had given me.  It was his mother’s and she had never learned to play.  I had purchased a used instruction book and had begun to read it over.

I play Mah Jong on the computer but it is absolutely nothing like the real game.  I also learned that my set is Chinese and cannot be played in America.  It seems that we Americans have to have Jokers to play the darn game and my set doesn’t have any.  The set is so beautifully made that it would be nearly impossible to match the set with new Jokers.  Drat!

You also have to buy a new card each year and the card explains the different combinations of tiles that you can put together to make a Mah Jong.  It is so very confusing.
We played through and I won.  Of course, I had a lot of help.

I plan on going over to the Lodge and watching one day next week and make up my mind if I really want to learn this game.  The ladies involved will make up my mind as I don’t take to a lot of ladies.   I have many girlfriends but knew at first impressions that they were the girls for me to befriend.

I think the silliest thing about American Mah Jong is what they call the tiles.  Dots, flowers  bambs and cracks.  Cracks have kanji on them and I have always referred to them as kanji.  Cracks sound so silly.  And bambs have bamboo on them but they call them bambs.  My book calls them bamboos, circles, characters, dragons and winds.

I’m thinking perhaps I should learn the Chinese game and get my girlfriends to learn it too and we could have Mah Jong parties.  No, on second thought, you can’t drink and play this game.

Friday, August 21, 2015

I just love a mystery and I’ve got a good one.  I’ve been taking Zumba and Pilates classes in Freeport for the last month or so.  Love both but my elbow is killing me.

On the drive to Freeport I travel route 75 and route 20.  There are these little signs with numbers on them and they are not in consistent order.  They are like, 2001, 2020, 1102, 1124, 1052, 1123 and many others.  I have asked many people what they are and no one seems to know.

The hubster is a major internet surfer and can find most anything he is looking for but he has not come up with an answer.  I suggested contacting IDOT and asking them what they are.  He emailed them a few days ago and has not heard back from them.

I stopped the other day and took a photo of one of the signs.  Anyone out there that can answer the question as to what these signs are?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Today Garnet and I went kayaking on Lake Summerset.  We set off at about 7:30 and left from Southgate Marina.  It is in the center of the lake.  We headed to the west end because I had told the hubster if he saw us going by to take a picture.  Of course, he worked instead of watching for us to go by and I had to get the picture when we got back.

As usual we had such a good time chatting and exchanging comments about the beautiful lake and houses and plants and stuff we saw.  One house had a slide into the lake and we threatened to get out and try it out.

We saw only one boat while we were out and two more fishing at the dam when coming back.  It was so peaceful and quiet so we had it mostly to ourselves.  I realized I hadn’t been on the lake in so many years.  Things had changed a lot.  There was some construction at the west end.  These folks are stabilizing their shoreline with these magnificent boulders.  I think they were manmade and all similar in size.  I’d say about 3 feet deep and 5 feet long.  I wondered what each boulder had cost them.

We saw only one dead carp, thankfully.  We have had a virus among them this season.  As we got closer to the west end it got quite weedy.  It is much shallower at that end of the lake.  We did make it to the end where they have a little plastic dam which doesn’t allow you to go any farther.  It was nasty water and we oared our little butts off to get out of that mess quickly.

Garnet told me she had gotten a new floatie like mine for when we go do that floatie thing again.  She was so funny that day trying to climb on her floatie.  We reminisced about that fun day.

I told her all about the Dubuque trip the day before and we plan to go together in the near future.  I know she will love it as much as I did.

We spotted some of those one dimensional cut out things.  I thought the dog was alive from afar but when we got closer we realized that it was not real.  They had another one down by their dock.  Garnet thought they really should be gotten rid of.  I couldn’t agree more.  There is a time and place for such things.  One of the stupid dog cut outs was on a pole and it began turning in the wind making it even more ridiculous.

There was a great tree trunk on one lawn.  They had dug it out of the ground and turned it upside-down.  It was so unique and we both loved it.

We did discuss our emergency plan in case one of us turned over.  Garnet is so well prepared.  She has a rope in her kayak and explained if I turned over to first save the kayak because they fill up quite fast.  So she said she would throw me the rope and I was to tie up the kayak and then she could try to save me.  What a friend!

We didn’t have any instances for possibility of turning over but I began squirming at the end because my tail bone was getting sore.  I had taken a beach towel to cushion my butt but it wasn’t enough.  I must make a sit upon for kayaking.  I will definitely pad that puppy well.
Garnet did take one of my aloe cuttings with her and I picked some cucumbers and a tomato as hers are not quite ripe yet.  I don’t share tomatoes often but I know she is eating vegetarian and needed it.

The hubster came out of his cave and took a photo of us with the kayaks which I appreciated.

Another wonderful day of my retirement with one of my favorite people in the world.  Life is good!

Yesterday I went with the Master Gardeners on a tour of the Dubuque Botanical Gardens and they were magnificent.  I rode with a gardener who just moved to the lake and her best friend.  Book Club friend, Joan, was my buddy for the day.  The drive to Galena was beautiful as usual.  We all chatted during the drive and I got to know all of the girls a lot better.

We arrived at the gardens about 9:45 and walked with a gentleman who had worked there as a volunteer for so many years he forgot how many.  He filled us in on the history of the garden.  They rent the acreage from the city of Dubuque and the garden is tended by volunteers.  They have only one paid employee.  The lady at the front desk is in her nineties and was a charm.  They get volunteers from people doing community service and companies that require their employees to volunteer so many hours a year.  What a wonderful city Dubuque must be.

We toured the herb garden first and I could have just lived there.  I saw many herbs that I was not familiar with.  They had a sign for a Chinese parsley but the plant was dead and I couldn’t see what it looked like.  Note to self:  look this up on line.

There was a formal English garden and a really lovely Japanese garden.  There was a garden entirely of hostas and we got to meet the couple that maintains that garden.  Each garden is adopted by an individual and they plan the design and supervise the volunteers who do the actual work.

At the Japanese garden our tour guide yelled at a little boy who threw a rock into the pond.  No rock throwing here.  I commented to Joan that I wondered what he would do if I just took a big leap and did a cannonball into the pond.  She said she didn’t think he would like it too well.  There was a beautiful waterfall with moss growing all over it.  The place was so peaceful.

The perennial garden was very well planned and the color schemes were so pretty.  The annual garden consisted of individual gardens with just that one annual.  I saw so many different plants and they were all labeled as to what they were with formal names and common names.  That was very educational.  Our guide said some of the plants were planted thirty years ago when they first started the gardens.

People in the community donate plants that they thin from their own yards and gardens.  I was truly amazed at how well the garden was maintained.  A lot of the beds were mulched with leaves which I thought such a good idea.

We had lunch which we had packed in a screened in porch at the back of the gift shop.  It was very nice and not too hot.

After lunch we took a golf cart tour with another gentleman volunteer.  He took us to the top of a hill that was planted with all different kinds of evergreen trees and shrubs.  Everything was labeled here also.

Our guide took us to where they kept the machinery and we met the couple who do another garden at the park.  We toured the outer perimeter which abuts a scout camp and another youth camp.  There were kids lined up to zip line.  We saw one girl go and watched as she flew across the big gulch below.  Oh I want to do that so badly.

We ended our golf cart tour and some went to the Prairie garden but it looked too buggy for me and it was beginning to get hotter.  I went back to the herb garden and strolled for a while and decided I needed some shade.  I sauntered over to the hosta garden and enjoyed the shaded area.  I wandered around and took in the Japanese garden from a different standpoint.  There are little ponds above it that connect to another one below it and another below that.

We were introduced to the dripping pond at the bottom where the water just drips slowly into the little pool.  It was a beautiful place to meditate.

We gathered back together and decided it was time to head home.  One the way back we stopped at a lovely little nursery and Joan purchase a Baptisia plant that is supposed to be a plant that deer don’t like.  She is having a deer problem this year.

We made it back to Freeport and I drove Joan home.  I got back to my house around 4:45 and brought dinner from Freeport.  We had a picnic with fried chicken, potato salad and cole slaw.  Got the day off from cooking, thank you very much.

Well I screwed up putting in the photos.  The top on is looking down into the formal English garden, the second is the Master Gardeners and the bottom is the Japanese garden.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Children’s Garden

Yesterday was my last Children’s Garden meeting.  It went too fast this year.  We got started late and didn’t plant until the last week in May.  She got plants donated this year and we had so many that she had the kids plant too closely.  The garden is a jungle right now.

I had to miss two meetings because of being a movie star and all…  There were about 12 children at the most.  Some missed on and off.  They were a very nice group of children.
Our last meeting was our Harvest party.  Of course, our garden wasn’t to be harvested because we got it in so late.  The leader came and got some basil to use to make her dish to pass.  She made the cutest ladybugs out of tomatoes and olives.

We leaders got there early to set up but neither of us can pick up and move picnic tables so we waited for another arrival.  We moved our tables and covered them with tablecloths.  I had picked Black-eyed Susans for the table.

The kids started arriving and we had our little harvest party.  I had brought cucumber sandwiches, which I love.  I always think of my friend, Kim, who introduced the cucumber sandwich to me.  Kim died of cancer at age 39.  She is every woman’s dream of being 39 forever.

We had breakfast buns, fresh fruit, vegetable tray and lemon jello.  I ate the lemon slice on the top of the jello and the little girl who brought it thought me quite gross.  I love lemons!  I really hate jello but ate it because she brought it.  The lemon piece made it worthwhile.

And so another adventure comes to an end for me.  I am not doing the Children’s Garden next year.  The reason being that I am much too busy to allot Saturday mornings in the summer to something besides another adventure in retirement.  And it was a little too much work for me.

Fattoush Salad

The first day of cucumber season I picked one that was quite small.  I just couldn’t wait any longer to eat a fresh cucumber.  My cucumbers are so sweet and delicious if I have to say so myself.  I used to take them to school with me and share but no more.  Being retired I have to share with my neighbors.

I have shared six with my neighbor across the street, two with the neighbor down the hill and two with friend, Garnet, who coincidentally lived where the neighbor down the hill lives now.  The neighbor across the street declined a free cucumber yesterday.

I have eaten my fill of cucumbers and have about eight more on the vine getting close to fruition.

My favorite use for the cucumber is Fattoush Salad.  It is a Mediterranean dish and very easy to make.  If you love, cucumber, lemon and garlic, you must make it.  I got this recipe off the internet and adjusted it to my ingredients.  It called for sumac but I don’t have sumac.  (I know I have everything else, why not sumac?)  I never found the need for it until this recipe.  I may have to find some and try it.

·      1 pita bread
·      Olive oil
·      1 head  lettuce, broken
·      1 cucumber, sliced
·      1 tomatoes, chopped
·      Sliced red onion
·      1 tsp chopped fresh mint leaves, stems removed

·      Juice of 1 lemon
·      ¼  cup olive oil
·      Salt and pepper
·      1 tsp chopped mint leaves
·      2 garlic cloves, chopped finely

Mix the salad dressing first so the flavors meld.

Break up enough lettuce and put into bowl.    And people, don’t cut lettuce -- it ruins it and it turns brown. Top with other ingredients.  You can break up the bread but I cut mine into wedges.

Another interesting thing is that I get my mint from the neighbor down the hill who lives where Garnet used to.  He grows the stuff in his front yard and it is delicious.  I go steal it whenever I need it.  He usually catches me in the act.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Days like this…

I have had mounting frustration in the past couple of weeks.  It all started with the stupid tomatoes dying.  I learned a lesson.  Next year I am moving the tomatoes to a different location and putting down that red plastic film under them.  Perhaps that will solve my problem.

Next my computer started acting up.  It just shuts itself off right in the middle of my most important work.  (Puzzles and Facebook?  No my writing.)  The hubster took it out and cleaned it thoroughly for me but I was still having the problem.  Last week he went on line and purchased me a brand spanking new baby.  He put the hard drive from my old computer into the new one.  The new one was very HOT.

Now my computer isn’t recognizing the internet in our house and he can’t seem to figure out the problem.  At lease I can type on the word processor.

The other frustrations in my life are my houseplants aren’t doing well either.  I piddled with them this morning since I couldn’t compute.  I put a little alcohol into my mister bottle and spritzed them with it.  I also made up a batch of fertilizer and gave them a dose.

And those Japanese beetles are my worst enemy still.  I’m going out later to drown some of them.

I am also heart sickened at the insanity going on in the world.  Religion vs religion, black vs white, social injustice, and Obama bashing.  It is all just inane!  We are all human beings here on this planet we call Earth and we should just realize that we are all in this together.
And even worse is that my dog is getting old and cannot walk as far as we used to.  I hate watching her get old.  She sleeps so much these days.  Someday maybe I will be able to nap also.

I was out in the garden while the hubster was working on my computer fiasco and I was doing what best gets my frustration out of me.  I was pulling weeds.  I stomped on some beetles that came nearby.  I was thinking I should just go have a good cry and get this out of my system.

I have been singing the same song all morning.  Days Like This by my beloved group, Over the Rhine.  The lyrics go “Days like this, have you ever seen a sky such a clear blue?  All I wanna do is live my life honestly.  I just want to wake up and see your face next to me.  Every regret I have I will go set it free.  And that would be good for me.”

Over and over, I sang those lyrics.  I looked up from my weeds and there was a monarch butterfly right above me.  Isn’t that so special?  Life is good!  Sometimes, we need a little reminder.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

One of my favorite friends, Lauri and me on one of our shopping excursions. 

Well I am not worth two cents today.  I had a hard time going to sleep last night because of a neck ache.  Rick woke me up around 7:30 to go to breakfast at the Sandburr Restaurant in Brodhead where we met up with Lauri.  No one else showed up that I had invited.  (Could it be my breath?)

I had a nice breakfast but looked to my left much too much and now the neck ache is back with a vengeance.  I went outside but it is too hot to work outside today.  And so I am screwing off on my computer.  I figured I may as well write something if only trash.

I don’t have many days that I just don’t do anything.  I am a doer, and I make my little lists in the morning of what I want to accomplish and I check things off and feel so much better at the end of my day.

I guess my accomplishment today was going to breakfast with one of my favorite people in the world.  And writing a short blog.  I may just lay down with my heating pad on my neck for a while.  It is just one of those days that I take off every now and then.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The crew.
Today friend, Garnet, and I drove to Harvard, IL to be in movie.  The movie is about a little girl who wants to become a ballerina.  The movie is shot from the knees down.  It was a scream.

I got my hair cut at Jagg for Hair in Pecatonica at 7:30 in the morning and hurried poor Mark up to get out of there as soon as possible.  Mark likes to talk--a lot.  I ventured to Garnet’s house and we had 30 minutes to get to Harvard which is an hour from my house and about 45 from hers.

We drove through about ten little bitty villages and got to the school in Harvard at about 9:15.  It didn’t matter that we were late as they had to go back across town because they had forgotten something.

Of course, after driving that long my coffee was crying to get out of me but we started the shoot right away.  We got outside to do the shoot and the little girl, Sophie, was in the wrong costume and had to go redress.  I waited outside needing to pee badly.

Me. Sophie and Cathleen, another extra.

Sophie got changed and we practiced while she was dressing so we would know what to do.  Rose, the director, chose me to power walk past the little girl.  I had my old high heeled sandals and had forgotten the reason I don’t wear them much is because they make a blister on my middle toe. Why she didn’t choose Cathleen to power walk since she was in tennis shoes is beyond me.

We did about ten or twelve takes on the shoot.  When they were satisfied with the film that they had shot we went back inside.  I finally made it to the restroom.  Relief!

The next shot was with the little girl and her back pack which I guess she dragged because you don’t see her back.  We stayed inside and I ate a bagel and Garnet had a banana.  We talked with some of the other extras and there were some very interesting folks.

The next shot Garnet was chose to be an extra and I got my camera to take some photos.  They didn’t take as many takes as they had with my group.  When they were done they told us they were finished with the extras.

We continued back to Rockford and stopped at a little shop in a small town I didn’t remember going through.  It turned out we were going the wrong way.  I thanked the lady at the register for directions.  Back we went through Harvard.

Garnet and I decided to go have a beer.  Hey its 11:00 but we are retired.  We had passed a little bar that I thought I had stopped with Suzie once but it turned out to be an entirely different place.  It was in Poplar Grove and is a very nice bar with a big stage where the bartender said they had live music during the colder months.  We decided to forego their menu and just had a beer.

We got to Rockford and decided to eat at Chili’s but noticed a Panera Bread next to it and went there instead.  I had a lovely Greek salad and Garnet got a grilled cheese and broccoli soup.

We noticed that Pier One is going out of business and decided to go take a look.  I wanted about a hundred things but got only some of that oil you put into the little pots with sticks sticking out of them.  It is wonderful – citrus cilantro.  Very nice.  It is smelling my house up now as I type.

We then ventured to the new Meyer store and I will never go there again.  It is huge, and I had to walk forever to find the six items on my list.  Then it took forever to check out.  I did find some pita bread which I am going to use to make myself a Fattoush salad.  If you haven’t had one they are fabulous.  If you like cucumber, lemon, feta cheese and garlic it is a must in the summer.

So when the movie is made I will post a connection for it.  Rose said they are entering it into a contest and can’t release a proper copy of it.  Will let you all know so you can admire my speed walking knees and feet.