Saturday, March 31, 2012

Weekend Cat Blogging #356 HERE!! Link Up!

Smudge

Smudge is looking for the kitty cats to come join us for Weekend Cat Blogging!

Coco

Coco is looking too!

Patchouli

Patchouli says, “There you are!!  Come join us!”

 

 

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

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Violets of March

I am a big list person.  I love having a list.  When left to my own devices, I flounder around.  So when Jain at Food For Thought posted that she was returning to Food for Thought and that there would be a schedule of books to read, I was all over it!  I love a schedule of books to read. 

I explained to Jain, that I would only be able to participate haphazardly, because even though I love a schedule, I'm terrible at actually following them.  The other thing is, that you are supposed to do a fancy picture review, like this, from Jain.  I'm also not good at that.  So, what you get is a book review and a picture of my violets.  Sorry Jain.

So, back to my book review.  I loved The Violets of March: A Novelby Sarah Jio.  Loved, loved, loved it.  Here is what Amazon said:  In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after. Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily's good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.


I loved how charming this book was.  I loved the story that was unfolding in Emily's life and I loved the story unfolding in the diary.  Yes, some parts of it are a little unbelievable, a little too much coincidence, but that doesn't bother me, when I am entertained and charmed.


I also enjoyed the writing and marked several passages:


"It's funny; when I think back to that morning, I can actually smell burned eggs and Tabasco.  Had I known that this is what the end of my marriage would smell like, I would have made pancakes."


"If summer had a flavor, it was pink bubble gum."


A sweet, charming book.  4/5
And a picture of my violets.

Violets

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

The Dressmaker of Kair Khana

I am the first to admit that I know very little of what is going on in the world.  I can barely keep up with what is going on in my little corner of it.  But when it comes to areas like Afghanistan, I know even less. 

I am ashamed of my ignorance, but I can say that after reading The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safebyy Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, I feel more knowledgeable. 

This book is so inspirational.  In September 1996, Kamila Sidiqir received her teaching certificate and was preparing to attend a university.  There was no celebration, however, her countries civil war had caused such celebrations to be too dangerous.  But she still felt optimisic, even with the impending threat of the Taliban invading her country.  Some people were hoping that the Taliban would bring security, but many more were afraid.

When the Taliban did invade Afghanistan, Kamila's world changed drastically.  Her father and brother had to flee to find jobs elsewhere.  Kamila was left being the support of her five siblings.  Supporting her siblings would be a challenge since the Taliban forced women to stay inside unless accompanied by a male relative, forced to wear a chadri (a covering which only allowed a small slit for their eyes), no school, no work. 

Kamila knew that she had to do something.  She learned to sew, and took her goods to a market accompanied by her brother.  Soon, she had more clients, and was training more girls in her home.  Every trip out, she risked her life.  She had to have the girls come to her home at different times, so as not to attract the Taliban's attention.  Women who attracted their attention were often beaten in the streets. 

In the midst of all this danger, she created a thriving business, providing a livelihood to people who had none. 

It is an amazing and truly inspirational story. 

I am hosting this for the TLC Book Tours, please check here to see all the other bloggers who are hosting and check out their reviews! 

For more information on the author, you can visit their website, here.

Usual disclaimer:  I received no compensation for this review, other than a copy of the book.  All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What Was it Wednesday?

You’re looking at April 6, 2010.  Sometimes you need a no-brainer.  So, here you go.  I know you all probably know, so leave your comments, what is it? Interestingly, you can tell the order that I poured them.  The far one on the right was obviously first because it has almost no fat, the middle a little more fat, and the one on the left the most fat and it’s a little darker because I didn’t strain it good.

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



****edited because I had the date as April 6, 2012, which some eagle eye reader (Joy) pointed out!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Garden Tuesday ~ The Fig Edition

Fig

My fig tree, waking up from it’s long winters nap.  This is it’s third year.  Hopefully we will get some figs!!! 

By the way, don’t you love all the purple wildflowers in the bed with it!

Please join me for Garden Tuesday.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Asian Steak Salad with Mango

Asian Steak Salad with Mango

Do you feel it?  That transition from warm winter soups and stews to lighter spring foods.  I do.  Though I’m kind of mixing it up right now.  A big bowl of wintery soup on Sunday followed by a fresh light spring salad on Monday.

I don’t know about you, but I have absolutely no trouble eating whatever size steak is placed in front of me.  That’s the problem.  I don’t know when to stop.  Don’t want to stop.  My answer?  Steak salads.  

With a steak salad you can take one steak and happily and satisfactorily feed four.  Remember my Beef Salad with Mint, Ginger Grilled Beef with Sweet Potato Salad, and Grilled Steak Salad with Grilled Vegetables?   See, I told you, I love steak salads.

Well, you can add a new one to the list, Asian Steak Salad with Mango from Real Simple.  When I saw this come in on my daily email from Real Simple, I knew I was making it.  The combination of mango and crisp bell peppers with the beef sounded divine and it was.  I’m not retyping, since I didn’t change anything other than to get yellow bell peppers instead of red, because they were organic and the red weren’t.  The red would have been prettier. 

 

This will be my entry for Souper Sundays (Soup, Salad, or Sammie) hosted by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekend Wine Reviews #101 ~ Sofia Rose

Sofia Rose

Sofia Rose, Monterey County, 2010, $12.79, Costco.  We say:  sweet, floral, finishes a bit tart, a bit of peach.  Yummy.  Buy again:  hubby says no, but he is not a fan of rose.  I say yes.  Plus the bottle makes a fantastic vase.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Weekend Cat Blogging #354 and Saturday Pet Blog Hop

Grimmy

No, we did not get another kitty cat here at the Sidewalk Shoes household.  Well, we kind of did.  But not officially.

See, we had really only one cold spell this winter.  There were a few nights when it was going to be well below freezing, and our neighbor’s cat was hanging around at our house.  We couldn’t get ahold of our neighbor and didn’t want Grimmy to stay out all night so we made him a nice bed in our garage and added food and water. 

That was in January. 

You know where this is going…right? 

Yes, every night, I open up the door to our garage and in he comes.  Every morning, I let him back out.  Patchouli is just on the other side of the door in her basement apartment.  I imagine them staying up all night, meowing through the door like a fun slumber party. 

 

 

This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Amar & Luna.

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

Friday, March 23, 2012

Polenta with Tomato Olive Salsa

Polenta with Tomato Olive Salsa

Remember yesterday’s salmon post, where I made the recipe that called for six salmon fillets and I only had two, so I had leftover salsa?   So, I was left with salsa and polenta.  Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been able to get cold polenta to stick together like everyone else seems to be able to.  Well, I think I’ve figured it out, or at least a way that works for me.

I began by changing the water/polenta ratio.  Normally I use 4 cups of water to 1 cup of polenta to give me a creamy polenta.  This time I used only 3 cups of water.  Bingo.  It was much firmer to begin with and after chilling overnight in the fridge, easily cut into polenta “fingers” like I wanted.

And my second epiphany?    The oven.  The broiler to be more precise.

polenta

I placed my lovely slices of polenta on a baking sheet, lined with foil, and placed them under the broiler.  I watched them and flipped them when they were starting to get browned around the edges.  I wasn’t looking at the clock since I was staring at my polenta experiment, but I think it was about 4 minutes per side.  (But don’t take my word for that – watch them).

So, that’s it peeps.  What to do with leftover polenta and leftover salsa. 

 

 

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

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Salmon with Tomato-Olive Salsa

Salmon with Tomato-Olive Salsa

The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Freshhas 21 recipes for salmon.  So, when I have some salmon it is the first place I check for a quick weeknight meal.  As usual it did not disappoint.

I mean look at that picture!  It is such a vibrant colorful meal, and staggeringly easy.  I served it over some polenta that I cheesed up with some feta to kind of match the flavor profile of the salsa.  Let’s pause for a moment and acknowledge that I said “flavor profile”.  Of course, I also said “cheesed up” so it’s kind of a wash on my intelligence quotient.

AND, tune in tomorrow same bat time, same bat channel for what I did with the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Grilled Salmon with Tomato-Olive Salsa

  • 1 1/2 cups diced seeded plum tomatoes (I used cherry instead)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 Kalamata olives, pitted, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (I used some frozen chopped from the freezer)
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot finely chopped (omitted)
  • 6 6-ounce salmon fillets (I had only two, hence the salsa leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch)

Combine the tomatoes, 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, olives, basil, capers, garlic, and shallots in a medium bowl, and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to two hours.

Prepare a grill for medium-high heat.  Brush salmon with remaining tablespoons of oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

Grill until salmon is just opaque, about 4 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate and top with salsa.

Serves 6

This will be my entry for Cookbook Sundays

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What Was it Wednesday ~ I Have No Clue

You are looking at April 6, 2010.  I have no clue.  I was thinking potato salad, but the chunks look kind of yellow – maybe Yukon Gold?  Or maybe a mango salad? 

What do you think?

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Garden Tuesday ~ The Hosta Edition

hosta

Some of this is happening.

hosta

And some of this.

hosta

And this.

Teachers get 3 personal days a year.  Days that we can take off whenever we need to.  I didn’t need to use mine this year, so I am taking one Monday off in March, April, and May.  So, yesterday, after a particularly frustrating day, I added up my Monday's until summer break.  6.  I have 6 more Mondays.  6 more Mondays I can do.  Celebrate with me by linking up to Garden Tuesday!!

Please join me for Garden Tuesday.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Prime Suspect 2 A Face in the Crowd by Lynda La Plante

 

Prime Suspect 2

Let me begin by saying that I liked Prime Suspect 2: A Face in the Crowd much better than Prime Suspect I.  However, some of the issues I had with the first book are still there.

The good:  the storyline.  This storyline was even better than the first.  A body of a young, black, female is found buried under a concrete slab in the backyard of a house.  The investigation has to determine who was living in the house when the slabs were poured.  Once they determine that, it still isn't as easy as it seems, with several characters possibly being involved in different ways.  A good solid mystery.  At times, I could not put the book down.  

The bad:  the characters and the "issue" that La Plante seems to chose for each book.  In Prime Suspect 1, the majority of the characters were horrible male chauvinist.  I mean really horrible:  saying and doing things that you would not expect at all in any kind of professional setting.  The issue for this book appears to be racism.  Again, horrible characters saying and doing horrible things.

"I'm not your brother, I'm a police officer," Oswalde said solid.  The guy was trying to play the black power card, and wasn't having any.  Burkin would just love that, all dem black folks jess one big happy family crap.

A sheer criminal waste of poll tax, in Burkin's view, most of which had been coughed up by white people to give the jungle bunnies somewhere to hang out all day, amusing themselves at the taxpayers' expense.

I only stayed on because that big darkie wanted me out so badly. 

Every few pages, it seemed that some character was making a racist statement.  Perhaps I am a purist, but I want my mysteries to be mysteries, not a political commentary.   She has covered chauvinism in book 1 and racism in book 2, I am hoping that 3 has no "ism" and is just a good solid mystery.

I am hosting this for the TLC Book Tours, please check here to see all the other bloggers who are hosting and check out their reviews! 

For more information on the author, you can visit their website, here.

Usual disclaimer:  I received no compensation for this review, other than a copy of the book.  All opinions are my own. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Weekend Wine Reviews #100 ~ Tin Roof Merlot

Tin Roof Merlot

Tin Roof Cellars, Merlot, California, 2008, $6.99, Costco.  They say:  plush cherry and plum flavors.  We say:  ruby red color, soft mouthfeel, sweet cherry.  Very nice.  Buy again:  Yes!

*** and look at that – This is #100!!!!  Yes I have consumed and reported to you all, 100 bottles of wine.  The things I do for you, my loyal readers.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Weekend Cat Blogging #353 and Saturday Pet Blog Hop

Rainy days and Mondays always get her down.

 

 

This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Samantha, Clementine & Maverick.

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

Friday, March 16, 2012

Arugula, Chicken, and Pine Nut Tabouli

Arugula, Chicken, and Pine Nut Tabouli

You know how sometimes you’re eating something and you can just tell it’s so good for you that really you simply must reward yourself?  With a new purse?  Or maybe some jewelry from Etsy?  Well, make room in the jewelry box, because here is a plate of goodness…good for you…and oh so good tasting.

This gorgeously simple, weeknight salad comes from New Food Fastby Donna Hay.  No one can make herbs sing like she can.  She is seriously the master of simple, fresh flavors.  And even though I was loathe to spend the money on mint at the grocery store, when my garden will be producing it soon, I simply couldn’t wait.  The only substitution I made was to use diced boneless thighs instead of chicken breasts.

Arugula, Chicken, and Pine Nut Tabouli

  • 3/4 cup bulgur
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 chicken breasts fillets
  • 8 oz arugula
  • 3/4 cup flat leafed parsley, chopped
  • 3/4 cup mint, chopped
  • 6 1/2 oz cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and black pepper
  • lemon wedges to serve

Combine the bulgur and the boiling water in a bowl.  Allow to stand for 5 minutes or until the bulgur has absorbed the water and has softened (mine took a little longer).

Place the oil in a frying pan over medium high.  Add the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes on each side until cooked through.  (Or dice thigh meat, and cook it, which is what I did).  Set aside to cool.

Place the bulgur, arugula, parsley, mint, tomatoes, and pine nuts in a bowl.  Slice (or dice) the chicken and add it.  Combine the lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.  Pour over the salad and toss to combine.  Serve with lemon wedges. 

Serves 4.

 

 

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

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Must. Not. Run. Out.

Emerald Almonds

Apparently the fear I have of running out of cranberries stashed in the freezer, also manifests itself with nuts in the pantry drawer.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What Was it Wednesday?

You’re looking at April 3, 2010.  Cilantro, jalapenos, cucumbers…..hmmm.

It became this.  Me want.  Now.

 

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Garden Tuesday ~ Guess the bud!

How about a little spring game?  Let’s place “guess the bud” – This first one is easy!

This second one, not so easy.  As a matter of fact, if you can guess this, I’ll give you a million dollars.  Or rather I would, if I had won the lottery.  Unfortunately, I only won $12.00, which doesn’t in anyway make up for the hundreds that I have spent over the years.  So, you will just have to intrinsically reward yourself.

Please join me for Garden Tuesday.

Monday, March 12, 2012

I Can’t Teach Being Alive

I’m reading a poetry test aloud to a group of 8th grade students.  The next question is a thinking question. 

Me:  “What season was this poem written about.  Okay, I’m not even going to make you look for the hint.  I’m going to tell you the hint.  ‘yellow wood’  The author is walking in a yellow wood.

Students:  blank looks.

Me:  “Yellow wood means the leaves have turned yellow.  In what season are our leaves yellow.  I’m going to narrow your choices to two..spring or fall.  Do our leaves turn yellow in the spring or the fall?’

I watch as one student chooses summer.

Me (voice rising):  “Summer!!!  I said, spring or fall!  Why would you choose summer?”

Student:  “Well it says something about grass in the poem.”

Me:  “I know.  That’s why I gave you the yellow wood hint, so you wouldn’t be confused.  Yellow.  The leaves have turned yellow.”

I watch the students choose spring.

Me (voice rising more):  “Spring!! The answer is fall!  Fall!  All the leaves are turning yellow!  You know, people go out to look at the fall colors!  The leaves turn yellow in the fall.”

Student (indignantly slapping his hand on the desk, and snarling):  “How are we supposed to know that?”

Me (staring at the student):  “Um.  By being ALIVE.”

Seriously.  That was my day.  I read the test 3 times to 3 different groups of students.  By the end of the day, I was sitting at my desk with my left eyelid twitching.  Yes, these are special education students, but about 90 percent of them are A.D.D.  They have completely average intellectual ability.  Most of them plan on going to college.  I hate to make general, global statements, but sometimes it’s hard not to.  It used to be that most of your students worked and cared about school and you had a handful that didn’t, now it seems like it’s reversed.  You have a handful that care and the majority don’t want to work, they don’t want to think, they become angry when you expect them to. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Weekend Wine Reviews #99 Old Moon Zinfandel

Old Moon Zinfandel

Old Moon (Old Vine) Zinfandel, 2008, Trader Joe’s, $6.99.  They say:  Luscious nose of spice and black cherry, revealing plum and cherry flavors with a hint of vanilla on a finish of soft tannins.  We say:  We agree with everything they say!!!  Love it!!  Buy again:  Definitely!!  Totally wished we lived in Georgia, so that one..we had a Trader Joe’s and two..we could buy wine in grocery stores.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Weekend Cat Blogging #353 and Saturday Pet Blog Hop

Coco

Did you know that if you buy things made out of glass at Marshall’s they wrap it in these big sheets of newsprint?

Did you know that kitty cats will help you flatten those sheets of newsprint?

Coco is available if you need your newsprint sheets flattened.  She will work for catnip.

 

 

This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Mind of Mog.

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