Sunday, July 29, 2012

I am not me anymore -

- or at least I am not the same me that I was.                    
                                                                                Che Guevara

I am sure that this is true for every thinking and reflective person.  Time passes, hopefully giving us wisdom, or at least perspective, as we look back on things.  Melanoma (or any other life threatening, traumatic event) affects the individual, as well as family and friends.  Watching children grow, thrive, suffer, die in the course of 28 years in pediatrics...changes a person.  I have found support and love where I never expected it.  I have experienced loss in ways I never dreamed.  I have learned and traveled and loved more than I thought would ever be possible.   I have had Christmas in July, more than once (thanks Bentie).  And, it is good. - c

Sunday, July 22, 2012

All you have to do.... decide...
            what to do with the time that is given to you. - JRRT and me

Monday, July 9, 2012

Wishing Jonathan the best!!!!

For those of us with melanoma, scan time comes round way too often, with all sorts of worries and hopes attached. I've been thinking a good deal of my friend, Jonathan!  So, join me with all fingers and toes crossed in wishing him the best scans ever.  Go get 'em, J!!!! - c

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Saturday pics!

A genteel lunch!!!
Mr. Turtle
Downed tree and rigged fence.
A man with a plan!
One step forward....
B's maters!!!
Blackberry Lilly, pretty even in the heat.
My fearless beastie, Karma.
Ta-dah!!!!!!  Now to get the remainder removed!!!
Pretty tomatoes.
Dinner!  Good night!

Just another Saturday.... over warm July heat and after a wind storm that snapped large trees like twigs in TN and North Georgia this past Thursday, leaving 30,000 out of power that evening. We were taking the dogs for a walk, when suddenly a dark cloud and strong, high winds began jerking the trees so hard that Zeno raised his hackles and kept looking skyward. (Karma never noticed, I am sad but obligated to report!) As Z and I raced home with dry leaves and dust whirling in our eyes, we heard a loud pop and I saw a large tree snap off in our back yard, breaking its fall to the ground by resting on a tree on the other side of our fence. With limbs falling everywhere, and Karma ensconced indoors, Brent, Z and I took refuge on the back porch. We watched a huge tree come up from it's roots, crashing to the ground in a neighbor's yard. Our tree finally gave way from its perch and plummeted through our fence. Humming birds continued to flit easily to the feeders despite the storm. All others were eerily quiet. And suddenly, in less than an a hour, it was gone. Gradually, the Katydids and birds regained their voice and Brent was out with a flash light and hammer to rig the fence so that Z would not escape until real repairs could be made.

And after a Friday of errands, so began our Saturday of repairs. While B worked on the fence, I picked up limbs and had other adventures, that began with Mr. Turtle.  As I was gathering gloves and clippers from the garage, I noticed a strange bumping sound. On closer investigation, a rotating brown ball almost gave me a heart attack! Mr. Turtle, apparently thinking our garage was a shortcut to cooler lands, tried to walk straight through, and on encountering the back wall, viewed it only as a small boulder to crawl over. The wall bested him, and he was writhing (rolling?) madly on his back in a desperate attempt to right himself.  After my fright, I rescued him...placing him in a newly watered hosta bed so he could cool off and regain his dignity at the same time.

By the time I had picked up limbs from every corner of our less than one acre lot, I felt very much like landed gentry with my endless property...albeit sans serfs who should be gathering broken branches in my stead!!!  So a cooling, yet genteel lunch was definitely in order. Pictured above, is my take on salad nicoise. Normally, it is a composed salad of tuna, boiled egg, new potatoes, blanched green beans, tomatoes and red onion, on a bed of lettuce, topped with nicoise olives, anchovies, and capers...all drizzled with a French vinaigrette. Instead, I used poached salmon, caramelized onions, fresh cucumbers and tomatoes, boiled eggs and blanched green beans with kalamata olives over a bed of mixed greens with a vinaigrette dressing...not a bad way to lighten a hot, work day!!!! Later, we had bell peppers stuffed with seasoned ground beef, lemon/oregano roasted potatoes, a green salad with fresh peaches and berries for supper.  If you work like peasants, you may as well eat like kings!
Enjoy your day - c

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Party Menu

Last weekend we were happy and fortunate to enjoy the company of some good friends who shared a bite, some excellent conversation, and lots of laughs with us.  The inspiration had come to me with an abundance of berries, a recipe for a blackberry gin fizz, fond memories of Kir in France, and a recent renewed interest in the tapas dishes of Spain.  When friends were available...that's all I needed.  My resident photographer was to make sure I would have a layout to show you that would make the editor of Bon Appetit jealous. However, he seemed to think that he was a guest at the apart from the pics just before, you will have to use your imagination!


Blackberry Gin Fizz -                          (Makes more than 8 drinks)
1 1/2  cups fresh blackberries (though thawed frozen ones would work just as well)
1 cup lime juice                                               2 cups gin (more or less)
3/4 cup sugar                                                   Club Soda
Springs of fresh basil for each glass
Puree berries and sugar. Let stand for sugar to dissolve.  Stain using a fine strainer.  Stir in lime juice.  (Can be stored in fridge at this step.) When ready to make drinks...You may add the gin to the whole, or add just the amount desired to each glass.  To add separately, place ice in glasses, add 2 tablespoons pureed berries, gin as desired, top off with club soda and a sprig of basil.

Kir Royale -
1-2 tsp of creme de cassis
4-6 ounces of champagne (we cheated and used Prosecco.....a plain Kir...uses a dry white wine)
1 twist of lemon peel
Place creme de cassis in glass, top with wine, add twist of or not to taste.
NOTE:  Unfortunately, my bar tender was very heavy on the creme de cassis, despite written I'm not sure they were enjoyed as much as they might have been.  Oh well...when it comes to bar staff (and photographers!!) get what you pay for!!!  Will have to try it again sometime.

Red or white wine....per request....and there you have it....our red, white and blue!!!

Boiled shrimp with a beautiful, pink Harrisa dipping sauce -
Boiled shrimp:  Place 1 tsp black pepper corns, 1 tsp coriander seeds, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp dried onion, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp dried thyme, a sprig of fresh thyme, 2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/2 cup white wine, 2 bay leaves, in 5 cups of water. Bring seasoned water to boil and cook for 5 minutes.  Add 1-2 pounds of fresh shrimp (peeled, deveined, with tail on) to boiling water.  Stir, cover, remove from heat and let stand for about 10 minutes, until shrimp are cooked. Drain and place in fridge to chill for at least one hour.
Harrisa Dipping Sauce: Place 1/2 cup mayo, 1 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 tsp Harrisa, (You will have to use your own taste it is rather spicy, but with wonderful flavor...and comes in a variety of types, including as a dry spice mixture, rather like a jam, or as paste from a tube.) 1 tsp honey, and 2 tsp lime juice.  Mix together. Store in fridge til ready to serve.

Tortilla (if you're feeling Spanish) or...Frittata (if you're leaning toward Italian)-
Basically this is a baked, non-fluffy omelet.  You can saute' almost any variety of vegetable or meat in an oven safe pan with a bit of olive oil, pour over 6-7 beaten eggs...use herbs you like....and when the eggs are almost set, top with any additional bits and some grated cheese, and finish off under the broiler.  Technically, tortillas are often made all on stove top by leaving still in non-stick pan until bottom is solid, sliding off onto a plate, returning back to skillet, upside-down, repeatedly...until both sides are crusty and the center is set. Frittatas are more often baked off in the oven.  Anyhow....I pre-boiled some cubed potatoes, sauteed some chopped leeks and red bell pepper strips, and had blanched asparagus ready.  All I had to do was reheat the potatoes, leeks and peppers in the skillet with olive oil.  Top with beaten eggs.  Stir just a bit until bottom was beginning to set.  Top with asparagus spears and grated parm....bake off under broiler.

Bread with Mozzarella and broiled onion -
1 Ciabatta or French loaf (cut in half, long ways)         
1/2 pound of mozzarella (grated)
2 onions                                 4 tsp basil pesto               
1/3 cup black olives               olive oil
Spread pesto on halves of bread.  Cut onions into round slices, place on baking tray, and brush with olive oil. Broil until tender and lightly browned. (It's easy to do this ahead and keep handy in fridge.)  Sprinkle grated cheese on bread. Top with onion slices and olives. Broil til browned slightly and cheese is melted.

Radish Salad - 
1/2 pound radishes, thinly sliced            1 green onion, thinly snipped
3 T fresh dill, or 1 tsp dried                    1 T olive oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper                           1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt                                              1 cup sour cream
Mix sauce together.  Toss with radish slices.

Fresh Mozzarella with tomatoes and basil -
The easiest treat ever!!  Skewer cherry tomatoes and fresh basil, with seasoned balls of fresh mozzarella. I served blanched asparagus tossed in lemon juice and a little olive oil alongside.

Fresh cherries on ice -
Such a cooling and pretty treat!

Plate of fresh pineapple chunks -
No explanation needed!

Fresh blueberry tart -
Bake a graham cracker crust and let cool.  Mix room temperature cream cheese (about 10 ounces) with a 1 cup of lemon curd.  (It fluffs up nicely in the mixer.)  Place cream cheese mixture in cooled crust and then in fridge for at least 4 hours to set.  (Great to do the day before!)  An hour or so before serving, top with fresh fruit or berries of your choice.  With lots of fresh blue berries from our own bushes...I used those.  

Add good friends......and enjoy!!!  Happy Fourth! - c

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Red, white and blue...tapas party!!!

Getting the party started!!!
A little more prep...
Pretty!  But, sadly...the only pretty plate you will get to see!