Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What Was it Wednesday?

You’re looking at February 14, 2010.  First of all…yes it was Valentines Day….and no, we do not go out to eat on Valentines Day.  If I go out to eat, I want to pick a day when the chef is at his best, not when he is cranking out a zillion times more dinners than he or she normally does.

So, anyway.  Obviously some sort of pot roast.  I like that it’s served with mashed potatoes with peas.  Normally I cook my potatoes in chunks with my roast, so I’m not sure where this idea came from.

 

****What was it Wednesday – my attempt to work my way through my backlog of cooking photos.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Garden Tuesday ~ Weeds

Weeds

There are two things that make me very unhappy about our unseasonably warm winter.  One is no snow days.  As a teacher, I am feeling particularly grouchy about that. 

Weeds

The other..is weeds.  It’s not even March and these weeds are already blooming and reseeding.  Sigh. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ugly to Start With by John Michael Cummings

 

Ugly to Start With

I am not sure why authors contact me to review their books, my reviews seem so ameuturish and lacking in depth.  But for whatever reason, they do sometimes contact me.  One of those authors was John Michael Cummings and he asked if I would like to read and review his book, Ugly to Start With   I am so glad he contacted me because I really loved this book.

First of all, this is really a series of short stories.  Short stories, but they are all related around Jason Stevens, a poor boy, growing up in the 1970's in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.  I believe that this book is considered adolescent fiction, however there are some adult topics and language.

I remember reading somewhere that it is actually more difficult to write a good short story because every word you use has to matter.  These stories are the perfect example of that.  They are sparse and direct, just like the life that Jason is leading.  After each story, I would pause, I wanted to think about what I had read.  What was the author telling me.  These would be great to read with a reading group, because you would have someone to discuss them with.  Also, each individual story would be great for a literature class, since each one leaves you with so much to talk about. 

I enjoyed all of the stories, except for the one where a cat gets hurt.  But even as I read it, I understood why it was in there.  There are people who view cruelty to animals in almost a casual manner.  I've seen people kick dogs without hesitation, without a thought. 

These stories are like that.  They are not happy-ever-after stories.  They are gritty, raw, and thought provoking.  Not my usual cup of tea, but I completely enjoyed them and will be passing this book on to my language arts teacher at work.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weekend Wine Reviews #97 Elios Mediterranean White

Elios Mediterranean White

Elios Mediterranean White, 2010, $9.99, Whole Foods.  They say:  a light, crisp and refreshing blend with complex citrus and floral aromas.  We say:  complex, floral up front, a bit of citrus in the middle and an almost buttery finish.  Excellent!!  Buy again:  definitely!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Weekend Cat Blogging #351

Coco

She doesn’t look like she regularly attacks my feet and legs, while I’m trying to watch TV, does she?  She doesn’t look like a kitty cat that gets fussed at and has “stop it” yelled at her about a zillion times a night, does she?

Coco practicing her angelic look.

 

 

This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Bengal Business.

and

This will be my entry for The Saturday Pet Blogger Hop! 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cheesy Tuna Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Tuna Stuffed Baked Potatoes

This recipe actually came from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann.  I didn’t make the potatoes in the slow cooker though, I mean really, if there is anything that doesn’t need to be made easier with a slow cooker, it is baking a potato.  So, yes, I just baked my potato in the oven, but I did use their cheesy tuna stuffing!

This was so good, and simple, and perfect for a Friday night when your tired, and you spent a few minutes that day filling in your calendar for the countdown to summer break.  With a side salad you have a perfectly respectable dinner, with practically no effort at all.

Cheesy Tuna Stuffed Baked Potatoes (modified)

  • 4 medium sized Idaho or russet potatoes, scrubbed, and pierced in a few places with a fork
  • 3/4 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • one 6-ounce can water packed tuna, drained
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced (I forgot this)

Either bake your potato in the slow cooker on HIGH for 3 to 5 hours or LOW for 6 to 8 hours, or just bake in the oven.  I baked them at 400 for about an hour.

Remove the potatoes and cut in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the flesh of the potatoes leaving enough to let the skins hold their shape.  Put the potato flesh in the bowl and add 1/2 cup of the cheese, the milk, the tuna, sour cream, and green onions.  Mash that all together.  Mound it back in the potatoes, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Place them back in the slow cooker, in a single layer and cook on HIGH for 45 minutes or place them back in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until heated through and the cheese is melted.

Serves 4

 

 

This will be my entry for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

How do You Empty Your Dishwasher?

Dishes

I am curious.  My husband and I are opposites in many ways.  One of those is the dishwasher.  He empties it one dish at at a time.  He carefully wipes them dry if they have any water on them (and they always do) and places them on the shelf.

I, on the other hand, empty the entire dishwasher contents on the counter, paying no attention whatsoever to any water clinging to them.  Then I carry them, in their somewhat organized stacks to the shelves.  With a quick swipe of the counter, to wipe up any water drops, I am done.

You? 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What Was it Wednesday ~ The Enchilada Version

Some sort of enchiladas

You’re looking at February 6, 2010.  Some sort of enchiladas, obviously.  Which reminds me, I don’t make them nearly often enough, considering how much I love their cheesy goodness.

*** What Was it Wednesday – my attempt to work my way through my backlog of cooking photos.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bringing Up Bebe ~ TLC Book Tours

Bringing up Bebe

When Pamela Druckerman becomes pregnant while in Paris, she starts noticing things about French children and their parents.  What she sees is so different that parents and children in America, she sets out research it and see if she can determine what is causing this difference, and Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parentingis born.

There are many differences and she addresses them one at a time.  Being pregnant, one that she notices right away is that French babies sleep through the night much earlier than American babies.  The French assume that after about three months, the baby will begin sleeping through the night, and when the mother goes back to work (French maternity leave is 3 months), everyone will be well rested.  What she discovered is "the pause"  "the wait" - when a French baby awakens in the night, the parents don't immediately rush to the baby.  They wait and see.  They give the baby the opportunity to lull itself back to sleep.  We all wake up many times through the night and we've learned to fall back asleep, the French begin teaching this to their babies early.

Another big difference is food.  Like French adults, French children don't snack.  Well, they do;  they have one afternoon snack at about 4:30, but other than that, it is breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner.  There are no bags of cheerios, no juice boxes.  They don't feel that babies and children need to be fed constantly to be kept happy.  They are teaching the children to wait, to be truly hungry when you sit down to eat.  And eat they do.  There are no children's meals, they eat what adults eat…no chicken fingers.  At the daycare the format for the lunch menu is:  a four course meal beginning with a cold vegetable starter, a main dish with a side of grains or cooked vegetables, a different cheese each day, and a dessert of fresh fruit or fruit puree.  She has her doubts about 2 year olds eating such a menu, so she visits her daughter's daycare.  On the day she visits she sees two year olds sitting at a table for 4, waiting for lunch to be served.  The teacher shows them each menu item, explains what it is, and waits for them to say thank you as she hands it to them.  On that day they are having:  a tomato salad in vinaigrette, a fish in a light butter sauce with a side of peas, carrots and onions, a crumbly bleu cheese for the cheese course, and a fresh apple to be sliced at the table for dessert.

There are other differences, I'm not going to cover them all here.  I found this book really interesting.  When I mentioned to someone about what the 2 year olds were eating, she replied, "my child would starve."  When I mentioned to someone else about 4 year olds going on a week long field trip, she replied, "no way would I let me four year old do something like that."  So, I know that a lot of what she says may be too extreme for some, but I do think that there is a lot of useful information here.  You can take what you want and ignore what you don't want to use.  I think that possibly the best place to be would be somewhere in the middle, not so American and not so French. 

I highly recommend this to anyone curious about the French and how they raise their children.

You can check out the schedule for the other book reviews.

Here are links to Pamela online: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Usual disclaimer:  I received no compensation for this review other than a copy of the book. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Garden Tuesday ~ Hardy Cyclamen

Hardy Cyclamen

I’ve posted about Hardy Cyclamen here and here.  I love it.  It’s such an unusual plant.  It has these beautiful leaves all winter.  Then in the summer they disappear.  Poof.  In the fall, delicate pink flowers appear out of nowhere.  Really, check out the above links, you’ll see the picture of pink flowers popping out of what appears to be barren ground.  Then the flowers go away, and the leaves appear.   Isn’t that fun?!

Please join me for Garden Tuesday.   AND yes, I know it’s Monday, but I’m doing a book review tomorrow.  AND, if you are pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant, have a baby or children, and love all things French, tune in tomorrow.  I am, of course, none of those, other than the French thing, but I loved tomorrow’s book!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Weekend Wine Reviews #96 ~ Foxglove Chardonnay

Foxglove Chardonnay

Foxglove Chardonnay, 2009, $12.79, Varner, California.  We say:  smooth, full mouth feel, doesn’t have that rich buttery flavor that we love in a Chardonnay.  Buy again:  probably not.  Not offensive, but nothing outstanding either.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Weekend Cat Blogging #350 and Saturday Pet Blog Hop

Smudge

This is a picture of Smudge from last April.   Smudge is ready for April.  I am ready for April. 

 

 

This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Kashim, Othello and Salome.

This will be my entry for The Saturday Pet Blogger Hop! 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Why You Should be Sprouting Sprouts

Sprouts

I have come to the realization that I really can’t grow vegetables.  Oh, I can grow them, the problem is that when they are in their peak production – August and September – I have gone back to school.

Sprout mix

And once I am back at school, I am simply too tired and too busy to worry about veggies.  It’s all I can do to harvest my herbs.

Sprouts

But I like the idea of eating food that I have grown.  I especially like the idea of eating food that I have grown without dirt, bugs, or weeds.

Sprouts

Look what I grew!  For the complete how-to’s, here is my original sprouting post. 

 

 

This will be my entry for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Easy Weeknight Dinner ~ Pasta with Pesto

Basil Pesto

I am sure you remember on August 22, 2011 when I showed you my basil pesto that I was making and stashing in my freezer.   I mean you do have all my posts neatly categorized and filed away right.  Oh wait, you might be waiting for me to neatly categorize my posts, instead of the mile long labels field that is displayed on my side bar.  Yeah, I’m waiting too. 

But what I’m not waiting for is summer to have fresh basil pesto (let’s pause and admire my segue).    For a quick weeknight dinner nothing beats pulling a jar of basil pesto out of your freezer, boiling up some pasta, tossing it all together and calling it dinner.  See the above photo, my pesto was still a little cold, so I propped it up on my pasta pot.  Sometimes my ingenuity is so amazing it’s frightening.  Right? 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What Was it Wednesday

Sidewalk Shoes What Was it Wednesday?

You’re looking at January 31, 2010.  Hmm??  Sweet potatoes?  With pork or chicken maybe? 

 

*****What Was it Wednesday – my attempt to work my way through my backlog of cooking photos.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Garden Tuesday ~ St. Francis

Sidewalk Shoes St. Francis

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!  And since I didn’t have a statue of St. Valentine, I give you the next best thing, St. Francis.  I am a master at substitution, am I not?

Please join me for Garden Tuesday.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Chocolate Chocolate ~ A Book Review

Chocolate Chocolate

The premise and story behind this book is delightful. Two sisters decide to open a chocolate shop in Washington DC. If you have wondered what it's like to start your own business from start to finish, this is an entertaining way to learn what it's like.

The book covers everything from choosing a name for their business, going on buying trips for chocolate (delightful!), designing their space, and basically pulling it all together. Then it segues into the ups and downs of a small business…the anxiety of waiting for customers and the giddiness of a busy day. The thoughtful transition of some people from customers to friends.

In the midst of all that are mouth watering descriptions of chocolate. As a matter of fact, I would recommend you have some good chocolate nearby while reading, believe me, you will want some.

With all that going for it, unfortunately, there was one thing that I couldn't get past. The writing. The book is written in some weird blend of 3rd person and 1st person. Perhaps it's because I am a teacher, but this bothered me so much. I kept wanting to correct it. I even took it into school to show the language arts teacher. When I showed her a paragraph or two, she replied that there are definitely 3 people involved in this paragraph. I explained to her that no, it was two…Ginger, Francie, and then the narrator who was Ginger and Francie together.

Example:

"Taking turns, one of us at the keyboard, the other breathing over her, we test-drove our fingers and dove into action only to come up blank. Francie was rusty: Ginger didn't know where to start."

and

"When Ginger grabbed Francie's air mike and tossed it out the window, we laughed so hard we nearly wrecked the car."

At first I kept trying to figure out who was with them all the time. Who was there telling the story of Francie and Ginger, but yet they never talked to her (or him)? It took me a few pages to figure out the mysterious "WE" was Francie and Ginger.

If the storyline had not been so interesting, I would have probably stopped reading it, but since it was, I tried to ignore the unconventional writing, but it was almost like fingernails on a blackboard.

AND, I must add that I am in the minority here.  If you go read other reviews, you will find a lot of people who loved it.  I did love the story, I just didn’t love the writing, and like I said, I don’t know if it would have bothered me so much if I were not a teacher.  So, if this book sounds interesting to you, I encourage you to read it! 

3.5/5

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Weekend Wine Reviews #95 Bogle Riesling

Bogle Riesling

Bogle Riesling, California, 2008, $9.00.  We say:  peachy, fruity, sweet and excellent!  Buy again:  definitely!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Weekend Cat Blogging #349

Smudge

I know.  Another Smudge profile shot.  But really, can one have too many Smudge profile shots.  I think not.

 

 

This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by iMeowza. By the way, there are still some openings for hosting weekend cat blogging, so if you are interested, go check it out.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Seared Salmon with Sesame Bok Choy and Spinach

Seared Salmon

I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, I love Marshall’s.  I can spend hours in there, searching for that one special find.  Since my closet is bursting at the seams, I usually head for the kitchen section.  Besides checking for the stray enamel covered cast iron pot, gourmet olive oil, or a fantastic serving dish, I also head to the tiny, but sometimes productive book section.  The books are very hit or miss, usually miss.  But a couple of weeks ago, I snagged Gourmet Today: More than 1000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchenfor only $9.99!  Now, it’s not that cheap at Amazon, but still even there, it is a $40 book for $16!  And it’s huge, 1008 pages!! 

So, when I was looking for something to make on Friday, the old eat-fish-on-Friday Catholic eating from childhood, took hold and I searched for something fishy. 

Seared Salmon

I found, Seared Salmon with Sesame Bok Choy and Spinach.  This was sooo good.  It was really easy, perfect for a weeknight, healthy and flavorful!  I only had to salmon filets, so the next day, I used the leftover rice and veggies and with the addition of some scrambled eggs, had a lovely fried rice!

Seared Salmon with Sesame Bok Choy and Spinach

  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon filets with skin
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound shitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 pound baby bok choy, trimmed, quartered lengthwise, rinsed and drained (mine was regular, grown up bok choy, so I just diced it)
  • 1 (5-ounce) bag baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger (if you store your ginger in the freezer, this is so easy)
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

Pat the salmon dry and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add salmon, skin side up, and cook turning once until just cooked through, about 5 minutes total.  Remove to a platter and keep warm.

Add mushrooms to the skillet and cook until wilted and golden about 3 minutes.  Add garlic and bok choy and cook for about 3 more minutes, tossing.  (The recipe then says to remove from heat, and add the rest, I didn’t)  Add spinach, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste, tossing to combine.

Serve vegetables topped with the salmon (I did the opposite).  I also served it with some jasmine rice. 

  Serves 4

 

This will be my entry for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I have a family.

I don’t really post much about my family.  Oh, I did the adoption post, because, well, I thought that was kind of interesting.  But really, other than that, this blog is all about me and not about them.  Just kidding.  Sort of.  I mean it is.  It is about food I cook, books I read, wine I drink, cats I take pictures of, gardens I let weeds grow in.  I am not a mommy blogger or a grandma blogger.  I am a me blogger.  This is me and the things I like.

But last week, I was posting a picture of my grandson on my business blog, Pamela Greer Photography, and I happened to think that maybe, just maybe, my Sidewalk Shoes readers might on occasion like to see pictures of my family.  So, without further ado, I bring you my grandson, in all his glory.

Chattanooga Family Photography

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “Hey Pam, aren’t you supposed to be some fancy schmancy family photographer from Chattanooga?   Couldn’t you make him cooperate?”

My answer:  He is cooperating.  You should see him when he doesn’t cooperate. 

Seriously, this was for a photo challenge to create a story board.  When I heard the challenge, I immediately thought of this series of silly pictures.  What better way to showcase them, then to just put them all together and let them tell the story! 

So, to recap.  This blog is about me.  I am on the web in multiple places, because apparently I think one is not enough.  You can find me at:

Sidewalk Shoes – You are here.

Sidewalk Shoes 365 – This year I am doing a black and white photo every day.

Pamela Greer Photography – Because I love taking photos.

Any questions?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What Was it Wednesday?

You’re looking at January 5, 2010.  Roasted sweet potatoes, with what?   Chicken?  With some sort of herbed rice.

It had this for dipping.  Cilantro something?  Parsley? 

*****What Was it Wednesday – my attempt to work my way through my backlog of cooking photos.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Garden Tuesday ~ Nandina

Nandina

I know.  I know.  You’re sick of my nandina.  The good news is, if this freakishly warm weather keeps up, I’ll have flowers and things to post entirely much too early!

Please join me for Garden Tuesday.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Night Swim by Jessica Keener

Night Swim by Jessica Keener

Night Swim begins with a prelude. In this prelude, an old friend is emailing Sarah about her online CD collection and asking how she ended up in California. From that we can gather that she is a somewhat successful musician living in California. She responds to the email and then, "I turn off the computer, switch off my desk light, and in the darkness move down the hall to bed, returning to the past for answers, skipping as it easy to do in my older mind from one year to the next, to a place that is no longer there. It's as if I'm swimming toward forever, only backwards."

We then travel back to the beginning of the story. Sarah Kunitz at age 16. Not just Sarah though, it is the story of her family, and how a family shapes a person. The dynamics of family life; the dynamics of a dysfunctional family. Sarah's family looks ideal from the outside: perfect house, expensive cars, live in maids. But it is not as it seems. Her father is explosive and self-absorbed, her mother pops pills.

What makes this story of Sarah's life memorable is the writing. It is beautiful and pulls you in.

When Sarah is at her mother's funeral, she tries to feel her mother's presence.

"I listened hard for her faint, intelligent voice. I just didn't hear her then. She might still be catching her breath. Anyone killed by a truck would need time to recover. Knocked out, she swam in a different universe, breast-stroking to the surface. It would be the very opposite of her life on earth where she didn't swim at the country club, but waded up to her thighs to keep her hairdo dry. She might start playing the violin again. Her fingers would straighten; her back would no longer hurt."

Also at the funeral:

"The cool draft from the larger room sucked me toward the doorway. Father left the room, tears soaking his face. He had gone into his own world of suffering alongside Hamlet and Lear, coveting his grief as if God had a limited supply to pass around. But Father was wrong. He couldn't see that God had an endless source of it and it flowed through me and Peter, through my younger brothers."

The wonderful writing and the complex, believable characters truly elevate this book.

You can see what other bloggers thought of Night Swim:  TLC Booktour for Night Swim.

You can visit the author’s website:  Jessica Keener.

***Disclaimer – I was given this book to preview and received no compensation other than the book.  My opinions are entirely my own.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Weekend Wine Reviews #94 Trivento Amado Sur Malbec

Amado Sur Malbec

Trivento Amado Sur, 2007, $9.99, Costco.  They say:  complex and elegant.  We way:  plum, berries, medium body, nice.  Buy again:  yes