Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The List

Last year I participated in a terrific end of the year reflection exercise called Reverb 10. The website has been retired and it has been suggested that any interested party just sponsor their own Reverb.

With that in mind, I will make a list of things that I will concentrate on writing about in the month of December. They may be subject to change as time goes by.

1) Lessons learned this year.

2) High point of the year.

3) Progress on my 1001 days (begun over 1001 days ago!)

4) Memoir exercises - have this great book with a lot of prompts, so this will be my go to when I have brain freeze.

5) Plans for Retirement.

6) Reflections on my career path

7) Agism and its effects on my job search

8) Paths I did not take

9) People I would like to meet

10) My continued list of passions and hobbies

11) My attempts at cooking a new dish from one of my ten thousand cook books per week

12) Touring Memphis and area with me as I explore and discover

13) Forcing myself to pick up my camera and taking some fantastic shots!

14) My favorite TV show(s)

15) My thoughts on any articles from TIME magazine

16) List of five things I HAVE TO CHANGE in 2012

17) New people in my life

18) Where I would like to be this time next year

19) Cities I have lived in

20) What has changed the most this year in respect to my head (lol)

This is a list that can change at any moment, but at least a catalyst for filling the blank page every day!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blah blah blah

I am going to do the Blog her thing and post every day for the month of December. I went home to Kentucky for the week end. It was the shortest visit ever. Six hour drive up, arrived around three thirty in the afternoon. Partied until 4am, got some sleep, up at 830am to cook the amazing stuffing dish for my family gathering to celebrate Thanksgiving and then on the road again at 315 and over seven hour drive home because I-65 was a parking lot so we detoured down the West KY parkway.

That sentence was longer than my visit.

I drove around my home town Saturday afternoon and a sudden overwhelming feeling of loss engulfed me. I began writing my blog while living in this town. I got married while living in this town. I had the best job ever while living in this town. I grew up in this town. I walked all over this town as a child and as an adult.

I know a lot of people spend most their lives running away. Who says you can't go home?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

She's Cooking Again

Wow! What's with this new Blogger Look? Freak me out.

This week I have been watching "America's Test Kitchen" and made a Brisket in the slow cooker. Shout out to ATK - OUCH! That was so hot it made my eyes water! I can't figure out what gave it the fire unless it was a combo of everything! Next time I will slow it with my own rub. Otherwise, it was pretty neat.

Tonight I decided to pull out another cookbook. This time it was...

MEDITERRANEAN COOKING, from the Home Cooking collection, 1996

I decided to make Mushroom Risotto with Sausage Bolognese. I recall an episode from The Next Food Network Star where one made risotto and the other contestants raised eyebrows because of how easy it is to over cook.

And so.....

4T Butter or olive oil (I like to use both together)
1 onion
1/2 lb. mushrooms sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 cup short grain rice (I only have jasmine rice)
1 1/2 c. chicken stock (thank God for packaged)

Sauce Bolognese
1T olive oil
1 onion finely shopped
4 Italian Sausages, casting removed (really?)
3/4 c pureed tomatoes
2 c. chopped canned tomatoes
1 t Italian herbs

Melt butter in lg. skillet over med. heat add onions and mushrooms. Cook 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add garlic and rice. Stir well and cook 2 minutes more

Stir in stock and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid has been adsorbed. If still moist, raise heat to high and cook 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly. My jasmine rice cooked up pretty good in the 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat oil and saucepan over med. heat add onions and crumbled sausage meat. Cook, stirring, for 7 minutes (I just cooked it until it was done but I did time it....) drain off excess oil (I did not have any) stir in pureed tomatoes (surprise! I didn't have any so I substituted tomato paste and cooked a little in the middle of the pan, about 2/3 of a sm. standard can) then add the chopped tomatoes and herbs S&P. Simmer another 7 minutes.

Transfer risotto to a serving dish, top with bolognese sauce and serve at once (lol)

I give it a four star!! **** Tasty and very easy to make. It was probably a little sweeter than I would have liked due to the tomato paste rather than the pureed tomatoes. But, it was very good. Even Joe, who ate at the Chow Wagon Buffet for lunch (not really but I can't remember the name of the restaurant) with "the boys" - holy smokes they ate for two hours!

Yet, when he came home he was able to eat a small bowl and pronounce it "Good".

Friday, November 11, 2011

Look I'm Flying! I mean Blogging!

I don't know how long I will keep this up, but with the diminished hours at Elvis World, it may be everyday. I suppose the bright side is that it is good training for the Reverb Challenge next month.

And so, with so many cook books on hand I thought I would engage in Number Three of my Passions which is Cooking!

I decided to choose a cook book at random, which was the Farm Journal's Country Cook Book. I had a bag of green beans that I was using as a side dish to the pot roast I cooked the night before. Rather, I cooked over night in the slow cooker, yum yum yum. (Three yum's up) I settled on Green Beans in Sour Cream.


My Secret Ingredient

Before oven....

After oven!

I halved everything:

2 lbs green beans cooked or canned
1 onion sliced
2 T finely cut parsley
1 t salt
2 T butter
1/4 pepper
2 T grated lemon rind
2 T flour
1 c thick sour cream
1 c buttered bread crumbs

Place green beans in a buttered 2 qt. casserole.Saute onions & parsley in butter until lightly browned. Add salt pepper flour lemon rind and sour cream. Heat until just hot. Spoon over green beans. Top with bread crumbs.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

I added garlic to the onions. I used onion crisps and my new favorite topping chow mien noodles instead of bread crumbs. I did not have a lemon but I did have a grapefruit! I never can tell how much I am grating and the first thing Joe asked "What is that zingy taste?"

Pretty good!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Many Passions of Alphawoman - Part II

The Birth of Kit and Mollie Vintage

I have three days off in a row and I am giddy! Tomorrow night I go into my 2nd job for five hours but I am FREE until then.

How have I spent the last 24 precious hours? Besides driving around Memphis and mistakenly not taking the right ramp and ending cruising over the mighty Mississippi landing in Arkansas? I have been spending time playing with my vintage jewelry. Sitting under a very bright high voltage light bulb and turning the pieces this way and that holding the jewelry loupe to my eye, trying to read any hidden markings. Sometimes so miniscule they seem hidden.

I caught the vintage bug last winter. Bored and alone at a computer screen with little to do, I found a marvelous site (it remains a secret that I only share with my bank!!) that every so often I feel like I hit the lottery.

Take this lot of earrings that I bid $6.99....

............and won. The green drop earrings caught my fancy and the bidding was so low that I could not help myself. To my credit, it had been over seven months since I have fueled this compulsion - I mean passion.

After shipping, I think it came in under $20 (the only beef I have with this site is that the shipping charges are extremely high with "handling & insurance" added into the mix - boo).

When they arrived I was thrilled with the haul. The top center earrings, which unfortunately look a lot like Bridget's baby teeth (yes I saved them, I am a semi-nut case), are marked "Japan" and I tend to think they are cultured pearls. Score!

The drop earrings are stunning - just like I suspected.

But the coup de la fabulous is the big gold brooch - its a Les Bernard! Worth at least twice what I paid for the entire lot.

My big plan is to some day have a cute booth at some little festival. Joe retires in one year, ten months, three weeks and four days! I am hoping that we will hit the road in a RV, that is if I can talk him into it. My big plan is sell my vintage jewelry along the way. I also am going to sell on the ESTY site - as soon as I make myself get it up and running.

I already have a name, Kit and Mollie Vintage. The name of my two Grand Mothers.

Cool, huh?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The many Passions of Alphawoman

I have a new hobby! Once I looked at a friend of mine who was suffering from infernal boredom and I offered a suggestion that they find a hobby. Sitting in front of a TV and consuming beer was not a hobby. Maybe a sport, but not a hobby. What are you going to do when there is nothing of watch worthy and you don't have a dime for beer, or as they would say in Memphis "What you gonna do when ain't nothing on the tube and you dry..."

My hobbies aren't that expensive. A lot less expensive than playing golf or consuming expensive wine.

Some might say I jet past hobby and embrace passion when it comes to collecting Cook Books.

When we left C-ville the Goodwill received most my extensive book collection. I could not bring myself to (once again) rent a storage area to house thousands of books. I tired Abe to sell them off, but it was terribly time consuming and cost me out the wazoo as I priced them as collector items and could not compete with Amazon. Damn Amazon.

So I gave them away and kept only the Travel books, the Mystery books (i.e. my Sue Grafton collection, Sara Parensky collection etc) and odds and ends (first edition To Kill a Mockingbird). When it came to my Cook Books, they made the trip to Memphis and thank God, not in the car as the crazy Cat. (another story).

And so the saga continues with frequent trips to this marvelous Goodwill Book store in NE Mississippi. I can find the most unusual assortment of culinary marvels donated from uninterested inheritors. I have to look at it that way.

What would be the explanation for the following poignant inscription inside the cover of "COOK COUNTY HISTORIC COOK BOOK" (December 1989)

"To Kelly Anne F*******, my Grand daughter From Mama Jean. May you enjoy using some of these recipes in your cooking in years to come. I hope you enjoy reading the history of the different Homes and tows of Cook county, in the state of Georgia. My place of birth and where I live. Love you, Mama Jean"

And the Cook Book is exquisite. 380 pages in a spiral bound jewel weighing about two pounds!

I may even start using them in the future!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

We Inturrupt this Silence with an Update

What I have been up to as of late

Work work work. And it's a drag. I certainly miss the days when I jumped into a company car and drove around spreading the love on a daily basis. When I was finished or just ready to kill some time I would find a public library or a hotel with a business center and attend to my blog. Remember the good old days? Before Face Book and Twitter when you blogged? Times have changed and so have I. I really don't know how to use Twitter and I usually only comment on Face Book.

And blogging has almost gone the way of the dinosaur.

Honestly, I miss it quite a bit.

Quickly, yesterday I was distraught and so close to a teary breakdown that it is a miracle that it did not happen.

He reminded me of my Dad. He was elderly and ill, his puny body being pushed by wheel chair into the entrance to the Airplane Exhibit at Elvis World. I held open the door and he looked up at me from his slumped over position, from under a frumpy hat that covered his thinning white stringy hair, with runny eyes and a face that was wasting away with age.....and he gave me a beautiful smile. So much joy at being - here, at E-land.

And it hit so close to the bone.

My Dad would have been 92 on Friday. I miss him so much.