Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy 2010!


We didn't take a Christmas card picture this year.

We couldn't get both of the boys together in the same place at the same time.
No, no, no.
They are much too busy growing beards, being 22 and 23 and other such stuff.

So we took some pictures at Christmas to use as "Happy New Year" card pictures.


It's such a struggle to get everything right.


There's always cow poop in the background, foreground, all over the ground. Thankfully, this picture was taken just before a rousing game of Cow Poop Frisbee ensued, rendering everyone involved exhausted and virtually covered with the stuff.
Oh, and you use an actually Frisbee - not the stuff. It's just that the stuff is all over the ground, and well, you know...
Surely you didn't think that we used the stuff as the throwing device.
We are so much more civilized than that.


And then one must always deal with Weegie who seems to enjoy arrogantly turning away from the camera just as the picture is snapped.


This year there was a huge fire burning behind us (a lot of trees and brush that had been bulldozed down), and the wind changed directions irratically making us choke and wheeze, and making the picture look almost other-worldly.


In addition, I was very puffy that day, making me look something akin to Alvin or one of his chipmunk cousins (or were they brothers? One was Simon, but who was the other one?), and I haven't yet figured out how to give myself chiseled cheekbones, or shave inches off my hips.


But, believe you me - that's my next project.


And I don't just mean in a photograph.


No, the time has come.


The hip-whittling time.
But let's not speak of it, please.


Lest I immediately become despondent.


No.


Instead, let's dwell on the fact that it's an Even-Numbered Year.


They're the best. Yes siree.


And to top it off, I'll be an even-numbered age in an even-numbered year for about three months which is just a hoot in itself!


And now that I think about it, I guess mathematically I won't ever be an even-number age for a whole even-number year since I was born in an odd-number year...
But that's beside the point.


And, I might add, a little freaky to think about.
Sorry, I wander off the trail sometimes...


Anyhow,I hope 2010 will be a banner year for all of you.


Everyone.


No matter if your goal is getting organized, being kinder and gentler, stopping a bad habit or hip-whittling (which I must confess, happens to be the unfortunate result of a bad habit).


But like I said , please stop bringing it up!

Let's get it done together!
You and Me. Me and You.
What's your goal? Let me know!


Lu

Enough is Enough




Alrighty then.

Enough of my laziness and slacking off.



Let's get back to this blog thing shall we?



I know that most of you have been waiting with bated breath to hear from me again... At least just let me imagine that, OK? I need some affirmation here.



Anyway Christmas is over, the tree is down, the 2 tons of dried, dangerously prickly needles have painstakenly been plucked out of the rug, and for goodness sake, tomorrow starts a new year!!!



I don't know about you, but let me tell you I'm really excited about 2010 because... it's an even number! I love even numbered things.

But more about that tomorrow.




Today we need to talk about what's what.



And that's this:




I am on a quest to use up all the tons of stuff I have in the fridge which I purchased before the holidays for the whirlwind of cooking.







Only my whirlwind was barely a little funnel cloud, a waterspout, a pouf in the wind.





It seems like we were always on the go-from home to the farm, farm to home, always moving, packing, you know, the typical holiday rush.







And in the meantime here's the sad result:







I have huge quantities of things like fresh cranberries,







walnuts,







white chocolate,







peanuts (Evidently I went into a trance one day and came out of Sam's with a 20 lb. bag),





eggs.






The list unfortunately, is endless.






So to solve that whole problem I went back and bought more stuff!






Seriously, I was at the grocery store buying more stuff to make things that would include the ingredients that I already had at home.




It's a horrible, psychotic cycle I'm in.




But, for all of my weird tendencies, you're goin' love what I came up with.




I made this yummy chicken salad that The Chief and I had for lunch today:












***Cranberry-Walnut Chicken Salad***


1 whole deli chicken chopped (I used a Honey Mesquite flavored chicken)



1 cup fresh (yes, uncooked) cranberries, chopped fairly small



1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped small



4 green onions chopped



About 3/4 c. Brianna's Bleu Cheese Salad Dressing



1/8 t. salt



1/8 t. black pepper







Just stir it all together!!!!!!





***And if you don't use Brianna's salad dressings, stop what you are doing immediately, run to the store and buy all the dozen wonderful varieties!!!



And just a little info about the pictures above:



1) The Chief kept eating the pickles off the plate before I could take the picture. The bread is a fancy shmancy poppy seed hazelnut.



2) The picture in the Texasware bowl isn't very appetizing, but as you know, I just love my Texasware bowls!!!!



3) And when I finally get a clue about how this whole blogster downloading picture thing works, I will tastefully distribute the pictures thoughout the blog instead of slapping them all at the beginning.






I've missed all of you! Let me know what's what with you!!!




Happy New Year!



Lu



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Red River Fruit Salad

I have lots of skiing stories.

Or more accurately,


I have lots of skiing attempt stories. Yes, I feel that more precisely describes them.



There is the sad and pathetic "First Ski Trip Ever Which Unfortunately Occurred Just Days After Boyfriend of Five Years Breaks Up with Me".



The dreaded "Winter Park Misdirection on the Slope and Can't Find the Chief for 5 Hours". Which obviously happened:

a) before cell phones

and

b) before I figured out that East is to the left on the map.



I'll have to tell you the whole story sometime soon.



The Chief was mad.



Really mad. And when I say really I mean alot.



I'm sure after 20 years though, he'll get a kick out of reliving it. It's a funny story.



I suppose.



If you're not The Chief.



But today we're talking about "The Trip to Red River with 6 Adults in a Van, One of whom was Pregnant, and one of Whom was a Wacko Control Freak who would Rather Ski than Breathe."



We were with 2 other couples. We drove from Morgan City, Louisiana to Red River, New Mexico without stopping.

Yes, arrangements had been made in advance to re-fuel the van by military aircraft so we wouldn't have to stop and waste time.



The Wacko Control Freak was driving the van. The Pregnant one was laying down on the bed in the back of the van. The Chief and I were wherever we could fit and not be directly in the line of fire of the nauseous one with Morning, Noon, and Night Sickness.



The trip over there was awful.



I've blanked out most of it in an attempt at self-preservation.



I, of course, never slept a wink.



We arrived at about 10 in the morning. Wacko man decided we should all go skiing the minute we stepped out of the van.



Like I said, wacko.



Anyway, the rest of the story involves lots of falling, pain and humiliation on my part.



I believe I remember snippets of plowing over small children on the bunny slope, and injuring several adults getting off the lift.



I think there was frost bite, near starvation, and wandering lost involved as well.



One wonderful thing came from this trip, though.



The Red River Fruit Salad.



So simple yet so glorious.



At night, we ate with a large group of people and rotated providing the meals.



One night when the ache in my legs was almost unbearable, and I was convinced I'd never be able to walk normally again, I was given the fruit salad.



It healed me.



Healing balm, magical elixir.



Yep, that's what it is.



OK, and I was also starving.

Can someone please explain to me why food just tastes better after you've been on a mountain all day??

Can you?

I thought not.

It's inexplicable.


Anyway, this little salad could not be simpler.

I've adjusted it somewhat to suit my fruit preferences...

I think you'll like it - even if you've been at sea level for a while.



Red River Fruit Salad

2 bananas, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds

2 apples (I love Jonagold), in bite- sized chunks

2 oranges, in bite-sized chunks

1 c. fresh blueberries

1 (20 oz.) can pineapple chunks

1/2 small frozen tub (I can't remember the ounces!) of sweetened strawberries(SLIGHTLY THAWED)

1 can Peach Pie Filling

Here's all you do:

Cut the oranges, apples, bananas, and place in a pretty glass bowl. Drain the pineapple chunks and pour in bowl. Add blueberries. Add the entire can of Peach Pie Filling. (Before you dump it
in, cut the peaches up with a sharp knife while it's all still in the can)

Stir everything together.

Add the strawberries when they are still a little frozen (just chunk them up) and gently stir them in.

***Don't get "creative" and try to substitute different flavors of pie filling, I'm telling you right now it won't work. (Trust me on this. I got "creative a couple of times)

*** Oh, and for goodness sake, don't substitute canned sliced peaches for the pie filling. If you do you'll get a soupy mess,

And I'm sorry, but you'll deserve it.

(I mean that in the nicest way, of course)

Lu











Monday, December 21, 2009

The Best Food I Ever Had

This is not only the season of faith, hope, and love,

it's also the season of food.

Everywhere I look.

It surrounds me,

Haunts me.

Taunts me.

And we'll just have to deal with the whole ugly aftermath in January.

But anyhoo - the whole emphasis on edibles just makes me appreciate even more the "really good food" as opposed to the "just OK food."

Have you ever thought about the best thing you ever, ever, ate?

I mean the thing that just made your toes curl, your brain seize up, and your heart melt - do you remember what that was?

I do.

It was a Snickers Brownie Ice Cream Bar and a 32 oz. Lemonade from a convenience store.

Yep.

I'll never, ever forget how it tasted.

I still get chills when I think about it.

The Chief and I had taken a hike in Yellowstone National Park.

I was, let's say, a little confused about how far 6 miles of mountain hiking really was.

It's not 6 miles. At least not to a normal person. It's more like a million. Yes, a million miles with a 100 pound donkey strapped on your back.

Our goal was a waterfall that was supposed to be breathtaking. The scenery on the way was stunning, beautiful. Worth every step. The waterfall (yes, we actually made it, only because by golly, if I was gonna die on this hike, I was at least going to see that stupid waterfall) was also pretty.

I think.

I'm fairly sure I began hallucinating about a mile before we reached it.

We had a few snacks, and some water along the way, so it's not as if we were truly ever in any physical danger of starving or dying of thirst.

But there's something about hiking in the mountains that is very different from hiking in Texas.

It's hard.

There's no air.

There's no flatness.

There are no "Large Diet Cokes" from McDonalds along the way.

Or any humidity to suck out of the air.

There's just mountains and pretty.

When we finally ( and I do mean "finally" in the deep, soulful way that finally is supposed to be meant) made it back to our vehicle, I almost ate the hubcaps.

Really.

I had never been so hungry in my entire life. Never.

We could not get to the isolated Yellowstone convenience store fast enough.

I still remember the way the plastic wrapper of the ice cream bar tasted.

Not really.

I have never tasted anything so rapturous, so perfect, so life-changing.

Excuse me while I cry at the memory.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

My sister and I just discussed our upcoming Christmas Day menu. Here's all we decided:

We don't want turkey again.

You can understand can't you? We just had turkey at Thanksgiving. And to be perfectly forthcoming, I bet there's a good chance that you would still find some leftover turkey in my fridge. That is if you were brave enough to dive in there.

Personally I wouldn't risk it. It's a jungle in there.

But no. No more turkey.

Ham maybe. And she says she has a nice beef tenderloin.

Of course we have to have mashed potatoes or the boys (especially Ben) will revolt. There must be Nick's fruit salad, and a chocolate cake for Wes and Scott. Something has to be done with green beans, squash and probably sweet potatoes. There must be a pecan pie and a chocolate pie, pralines and divinity.

Heavens, who is going to make all this stuff? I should have started cooking.

I should have started shopping.

Why does this always happen? I have good intentions. I say "This year I'm going to start preparations earlier".

Then I don't.

Yes, I know. I have that syndrome where I constantly sabotage myself. This is bad.

Perhaps I should just go rogue for a week. Maybe people would be so worried about me that they wouldn't notice they weren't getting their fruit salad or mashed potatoes or silly chocolate pie.

No, I tried that once. Not successful.

Darn.

What to do, what to do...

OK, let's focus. I KNOW what Christmas breakfast must be. We absolutely positively must have bacon, eggs, sausage, some kind of cinnamon rolls, and

GRITS.

My family threatened to have me evaluated after the devastating Christmas Breakfast of 2004 when I chose not to serve grits.

You would have thought that I grew three heads and sprouted horns. The disbelief on their faces was shocking.

My Family: "Where are the grits?"

Me: "I decided not make them this year."

Cricket, cricket, cricket......

My Family: "No, seriously."

And then honestly I don't remember much after that. For about 2 weeks...

There must be grits.

What are your family's "Must Haves"?

Do you have to have turkey, dressing and giblet gravy? Or do you go Chili and cornbread, or maybe Mexican with tamales, enchiladas and guacamole?

I'd love to know.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Forgive Me

Nevermind that I have been curled in the fetal position and totally nonresponsive for most of the day.

Nevermind that I have personally upped my own medication without even any encouragement from The Chief or an actual physician.



No, no. It's all about you people.



Forgive me for trying to offer a healthy alternative to all of the heavy, potentially heart -stopping holiday foods with which you are all currently enraptured.



For goodness sake, forgive me for going shopping and buying The Chief and my son's their traditional Christmas underpants.
I should have been planning a menu to suit you and your cholesterol -ladden needs.



I'm not sure what I was thinking.



Well, believe you me, I got the message.



You want fat, sugar, and even alcohol in your recipes. Some of you want all three in the same recipe.



Evidently, some of you are unaware of the HUGE personality flaw I have.



I'm a people-pleaser.



Plain and simple.



I pitch headfirst into a swirling downward spiral when I disappoint any of you.



So I'll try to redeem myself with what I have on occasion jokingly referred to as "Those Butter Bars", but which as of today have formally, officially and legally (I can forward you the paperwork) been changed from the original "Christmas Bars" to just that-



THOSE BUTTER BARS.



I hope you people are happy.




Those Butter Bars


8 oz. dried cranberries, dried apricots, or a combination of the two
1 c. chopped walnuts, toasted
2 (4 oz.) White chocolate bars ( I use Ghiradelli) chopped (into about 1/4 in. pieces)


1/3 c. freshly squeezed orange juice

OR 1/3 c. Triple sec

OR 1/3 c. Amaretto

(Are you happy now????)



1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. baking powder
2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. butter ( this is THREE sticks, OK?)
3/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla (or 1/2 t. vanilla and 1/2 t. almond extract)
4 eggs

1. Melt the butter and let it sit to cool. Use a little of it to grease a 13x9 inch glass pan.

2. Toast the chopped walnuts on a sheet pan in a 350 degree oven. If you start to smell them they are probably burned. It should only take about 4-5 minutes.

3. If using apricots chop them finely (no need to chop dried cranberries), place in small bowl and pour the liquid of your choice over them and stir around until everyone has been bathed. Let the fruit sit in the liquid while you continue with the next few steps.

4. Chop the white chocolate

5. Mix together the flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl. Set aside.

6. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and both sugars until well-mixed. About 4-5 minutes

7. Add eggs, one at a time. Mix well after each addition (about two minutes)

8. Add vanilla or almond extract.

9. Check the fruit. If all of the liquid has not been absorbed, pour the excess off.

10. Put the chocolate and walnuts in with the fruit.

11. Put a little (about 3 T.) of the flour mixture in with the fruit, nut and chocolate mixture and stir until all is coated.

12. Add the rest of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Just use a spatula or wooden spoon to gently incorporate all the dry ingredients.

13. Stir in the fruit, nut, and chocolate mixture just until well distributed.

14. Pour into greased pan. (I like to lightly sprinkle batter with a coarse sugar like Demerera) Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, just until lightly browned.

Let cool, and cut into bars.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Procrastination

Here's what happens when I choose to go shopping rather than spend time writing a blog:

You only get a recipe.

I just want to make it clear that I would truly rather do most ANYTHING than go shopping. (Except grocery shopping which I love!)

But.

Someone mentioned that next week might be Christmas.

And heavens if I haven't searched everywhere in this house and as it turns out, I apparently haven't bought any gifts.

(And evidently neither has The Chief, as I kind of kept an eye out for anything INTERESTING during my house scan.)

Which was a very disappointing thing to discover.

Soooo...

Here's a salad that I know you'll like. And in the season when everything seems to be heavy with sugar and fat (and believe me I have absolutely NO PROBLEM with that) I thought it might be nice to serve up this nice fresh salad, that is wonderfully fragrant with fresh herbs.


And I wanted to add that this is a favorite of my friend David whose wife, Glenda, is a fabulous cook. It made me feel pretty dingity -dang special that he liked it enough to request the recipe.

Enjoy!



Lu’s Orzo Salad

(If I remember right!)


1 ½ c. orzo
4 c. chicken broth
1 ½ c. grape tomatoes, halved
½ c. toasted pine nuts
½ c. finely chopped red onion
½ c. chopped fresh basil
1/3 c. chopped fresh mint
¾ c. Red Wine Vinaigrette
Salt and Pepper to taste


Bring the chicken broth to a boil – add orzo and cook recommended minutes ( don’t overcook – you want it to be al dente) Drain orzo and immediately pour while hot into bowl with red onion. Stir. Let cool a while, then add remaining ingredients. I always add the pine nuts last.


Red Wine Vinaigrette


½ c. Red Wine Vinegar
¼ c. fresh lemon juice
2 t. honey
2 t. salt
¾ t. pepper
1 c. extra virgin olive oil


Mix vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper in blender or food processor. With machine running gradually blend in oil. This yields about
1 ¾ vinaigrette.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Weegie






This is Weegie.













Actually, it's officially E.G.





He's the world's cutest, funniest,and just generally the most perfect dog in the universe.

Really.





And as I'm sure you've already guessed, he was in fact named for the West African country of Equatorial Guinea.








Now you may have a dog named Gabon, Zamibia, or Upper Volta, and if so, please just bear with me while I explain the whole E.G. naming process to the others who have dogs named Rover, Buddy and Fido.








Several years ago The Chief was working in Equatorial Guinea. Both of my sons had gone off to college. I had "retired" from teaching.






I spent my time eating Sonic ice. (Can I get an "Amen" on the Sonic ice??)
Still, it was sad.



I needed a dog named after an unstable, coup-ridden African country!


I needed a Weegie to keep me company.
A little dog with unusually short legs and huge ears.


And so it all began, four years ago.




Soon his name blossomed into Eggie, Weegie, Squeegie. The Weege.


He's also alternately known as Mr., Mr. Pants, Mr. Squeegie Pants, Big, and most recently, The Pookie Mister.
An identity crisis waiting to happen. I feel horribly guilty.
And just like any child who gets into trouble, I occasionally must use his full name just to make my point.
"Equatorial Guinea, how many times do I have to tell you to leave that squirrel alone?" "And this time wipe the cow poop off your paws before you come in this house!"










And I can't explain it, but somehow, over the past four years Weegie became The Chief's dog.








He loves me, his Mom, as long as I am there alone, feeding him, pampering him, and generally doing everything to keep his spoiled little dog-self alive.








Then The Chief walks in and I cease to exist.




I am nothing.




The Chief plays rough.
The Chief drives the big Kubota tractor and lets Weegie ride in the cab. The Chief feeds the cows and slogs through fields full of cow poop.
The Weege loves cow poop.


On the other hand, The Mom likes girl stuff and watching The Food Network.




The Chief drives the mule. Weegie was born to ride in the mule. He will sit in it for hours waiting for someone to drive it somewhere. He falls asleep in it.


At the sound of the mule's motor starting, he'll race lightning fast (yelping all the way) from anywhere on the farm to jump in and ride, ironically, directly back to the point from which he started.



That's Weegie.




He makes life good.








Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pretty on the Inside

This unattractive stuff is ginger root.

I don't mean to be rude, but honestly, it's not pretty.



As we all know though, outer beauty doesn't make one attractive. It's what's on the inside, and there's some seriously good stuff inside this ugly package.



I love it.



Sometimes I just take it out and sniff it.



That sounds weird doesn't it? In retospect, I'm a little sorry I said it.

But it's the truth.



Buy some and you'll do it too.



Anyway, it's great stuff, and if you've never cooked with it you're missing out. After you try it, you'll never go back to the dried and ground form again.



Promise.



The following is a recipe I came up with a couple of weeks ago when I cautiously looked into the bottom produce drawer in the fridge and found the 'pears' I had purchased about a week before. I was pretty sure they were pears. I felt sure that they had been pears when I put them in there. So it was settled then.



They were pears.



They were hovering in that kind of "iffy" place between "Yuck" and "Wait, I can save them!"



So I went the lifesaving route and after cutting off all the really bad spots, and peeling off all the other unpleasantness, I ended up with nice ripe pear slices.



Really ripe.

But the whole thing turned out to be really, really good.

Have you been counting the "reallys"? I'm sorry. I'll stop.

Anyway, please try the recipe.

BUT WAIT! Before you do. You must have this valuable, indispensible information!


1. A Microplane is the absolute best way to grate fresh ginger. Or garlic, or hard cheeses like parmesan or pecorino romano or any kind of citrus zest... If you don't have one, this is your excuse.

This is what you say:

"I must grate ginger." "I must have a Microplane."

Don't you like how I settle things so easily?

I knew you would.

Yep,the Chief really likes it too. Sorry, I used that word again.


2. Keep fresh ginger in a plastic freezer bag in the freezer.

It will keep forever.

Or until your freezer dies.

Or a hurricane hits.

But that's not important.

OK, here goes:

Wait, Wait, you MUST serve this with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.

OK! Now here goes:


Ginger Pear Crisp

Filling:

5 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into ½ “ slices
3 T. butter
1/4 c. – 1/3c. sugar
1 t. freshly grated ginger
Juice from ½ lemon

Crisp Topping:

1 ½ c. flour
¾ c. brown sugar
6 T. cold butter cut into small pieces
½ t. salt


In a large skillet, melt the 3 T. butter over medium heat. Add the pears and sugar and sauté for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the ginger and lemon juice and cook for 4 minutes more. Pour the mixture into a 8” or 9” baking dish. Combine all ingredients for the topping until crumbly. Sprinkle over the filling.
Bake at 350º for about 25 minutes until brown and bubbly.

Or, (I don't know why I didn't think of this earlier) just do the whole pear and sugar saute' bit in a cast iron skillet, sprinkle the topping right over the whole shebang in the skillet and bake it in there!!!

Just occasionally, I have a great idea!

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Pantry, My Love

When we built our house, The Chief was all about his garage- I was all about my pantry. It's my office, my staging area, my refuge.





I'm sitting in it right now.





Not really, but I wish I was.





I love pantries in general. I will sneak a peek in your pantry if you ever invite me to your house. Although, I'm guessing the chances of that are pretty slim, because, well, you've read my blog, and well you know...





I could care less about your medicine cabinet. You could have all kinds of bizarre, gossip fodder in there.





I'm a pantry girl.





There are certain things that I must have in my pantry at all times. Always. If I don't have them, or I'm running low, I begin to sweat, my heart palpitates, and I just generally freak out.





Things like:





1. TAB - I am hopelessly, shamefully, addicted to it. I realize that most people abandoned it's motor oil- like taste years ago in favor of the new-fangled Diet Coke and other sad excuses for low calorie drinks. They gawk at me when I check out at the grocery store. The sackers look at me with confused teenage eyes. "Hey Lady, I didn't know they still made this stuff, doesn't the name stand for like "totally artificial beverage" or like something?"

Like.





The Coca-Cola delivery men at the two stores where I shop most often recognize me. They call me the TAB lady. At least to my face. Sometimes I spend the night on their aisle waiting for them to show up if the shelves have been empty for more than a few hours.


They treat me delicately, but keep me at arms' length...





2. Grits- Every southern girl worth her stuff has grits in the pantry at all times. They are versatile, so avant-garde. Dress them up or dress them down. They are the little black dress of the pantry world.





3. Diced Tomatoes- Diced tomatoes can work wonders. You can make ANYTHING with and from diced tomatoes. Please do not tell anyone, but I actually made The Chief's birthday cake from diced tomatoes one time. He thought it was chocolate - I'm telling you they're miraculous.





4. Nutella - I have already sung the praises of this chocolaty dream-substance. And again, please don't tell, but I once ate half a jar with just my finger as a utensil. Seriously, I blamed it on one of my sons. Then they left me and went to college, and took away my built-in people to blame for everything - those punks.





5. Parmesan Cheese - (Yes, in the green plastic container) Look, all my foodie friends, please don't reject me, I have the real stuff in the fridge. But I must have the dry, powdery stuff to pour by tablespoons onto a hot griddle, and cook until it forms thin, nutty little parmesan crisps. Try it. You will send me money.





Please try it.


Please send me money.





What's in your pantry? What do you absolutely have to have?





Don't be ashamed.





P.S. For those of you who are medicine-cabinet, bathroom cabinet people, here are my top 5.





1. Maybelline mascara (in the green tube)


2. Suave Daily Moisturizing shampoo


3. Vaseline (the best lip gloss ever!)


4. Dove soap (white)


5. Japonesque eyelash curler (a new find)





And to those of you who are now thinking "Why on earth would she tell us all that, and even more disturbingly, why on earth would I read it?"



I'm really sorry. I get carried away.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Haystacks














Let's start the day with a little quiz.







Which I might add has very little (and by this I mean nothing) to do with the picture of my really cute youngest son riding on the HAY hook of the tractor.



Oh, and he might want me to mention that it is his white T-shirt that you can see a lot of in the picture, not his unmentionables.



But then again, I can't be completely sure that he'd want me to mention that.






Now quit dawdling and let's get back to the quiz.




Please choose the BEST answer:





What is a haystack?


A. stacked hay


B. hay in a stack

C. something in which one searches for a needle

D. the world's easiest dessert




I just KNEW you'd get it! Yes, my people D is the correct answer!



And while the less saavy, less hip, less street- smart may have chosen A, B, or C, those of you who read Mudpuddle regularly (the saavy, hip, yes, I daresay the street-smart posse that you are), ALL knew the correct answer.



Which just goes to prove that reading this blog makes you smarter than your average non-reader.


Who would have guessed?



A Haystack is the most wonderful candy made from two, yes you heard me, TWO ingredients:


1. butterscotch morsels


2. potato sticks



A Haystack is one of those quick "throw together" kind of sweets that you can have ready in less than 30 minutes.

People will mistake you for Martha Stewart. (The always prepared hostess Martha, not the questionable financial decisions Martha).


If people happen to drop by for a holiday visit, if carolers appear on your doorstep, just whip these out.






Now I know that some of you said "Yuck!" Potato sticks and butterscotch. No thank you. Well let's just dismiss that folly right now you naysayers! It is the most wonderful sweet, salty combination.




Like sugar and spice.


Naughty and nice.


Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.


And it's possible I might also feel my hips expanding.






But that's beside the point.




And for goodness sakes, whatever you do, don't get nosy and decide to read the nutritional label on the can of potato sticks.



There will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth.
And at the very least additional hip-expanding.


Let's just have our fun while we can and go on with the whole candy-making Partay!!

Here's all you do:

1. Melt one 11 oz. bag of butterscotch chips in a double boiler. (And can anyone out there tell me exactly what happened to the 12th oz. that used to reside in all these bags?????)

2. Pour in 5 cups of potato sticks and stir until coated.

3. Drop by T. onto wax paper

4. Let harden, then enjoy!

If you like to experiment, you can substitute semi-sweet chocolate chips or peanut butter chips for some or all of the butterscotch chips. And you can add peanuts, or other chopped nuts - just adjust the amount of the potato sticks and melted chips.

OK, now we're ready for another quiz:



What is Lu hoping to get for Christmas?

(Please don't think I'm horribly materialistic or anything, I'm just checking to see if The Chief ever reads my blog....)


A. Tan (distressed) Mad Dog Lucchese cowboy boots Ladies size 7 1/2.

B. A new DSLR camera

C. The new Pastry Queen cookbook

D. All of the Above

Take your best guess and let me know in the comments section.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Big Stuff Comin' Up

For those of you who have already received the big announcement, I'd like to clarify. For those of you who missed it, watch out!

Right here on Mudpuddle, you will be gifted with the "12 Days of Christmas"!

No, no, Thank YOU!

Now I'm not talking about the official, internationally recognized "12 Days of Christmas", which according to the ultimate fount of all things important, Wikipedia, occur from Dec. 24 to Jan.6.

No, no, no. Not those.

Lu's "12 Days of Christmas" which officially, traditionally, and logically begin on Dec. 13 and run the next... 12 Days!

(And for anyone wishing to debate the logic of this, just let me tell you right now that I have the blessing of my friend Kevin, one of the Assistant Athletic Directors at LSU, who not only is a master mathematician, but who also knows some really big football players who will intimidate you if you bug me about it.)

Gig 'em Aggies!

Sorry, I lack any sort of self-control.

So there!

It's all settled!

Starting on the 13th of December you'll want to check in here every few minutes at the very least to see what kind of great recipes, stories, and fun I'll have for all of you, my very special secret friends.

But wait. One little thing.

I have a Christmas request.

For those of you who are personally acquainted with "The Chief", I'd appreciate it if you'd encourage him to get me that new camera for Christmas so I don't have to subject you special people to pathetically poor quality photos such as the one that appeared in my last post.

Thank you.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Things I Love



Because it's December, and because it's chilly, and because the humidity is gloriously low, and because as a result I have had an exceptionally good hair day, I have decided to share some of my very special secret loves with all of you, my very special secret friends.


Well, of course the whole secret part isn't true, but it makes it all so much more dramatic and exciting don't you think?


Now let's get to it. Woo Hoo!

The very first very special secret thing I want to share with you is...

Yes! Yes! Yes! You guessed it! It's French. It's sophisticated! It's mysterious!

It's Nutella Crepes!!!!!!

Or let's call them Chocolate Hazelnut Crepes L'Orange - yes, much spiffier, and much more fitting for our sophisticated and mysterious theme.


Now let's practice our French:


It's crepes (and it should have a little thingie over the first "e", but I don't know how to do that here), not crapes, and it doesn't rhyme with grapes.


The correct pronunciation is "kreip" with a very crispy "kr".

Crepe.

OK, you did good.


But now, let's land back in Texas and just call them Nutella Crepes and get on with it.


You will need to start with these:
Nutella Chocolate Hazelnut Spread- find it at the grocery store near the peanut butter (has the same consistency as PB, but no goobers in this stuff).
Orange Marmalade- yes, there's something about the little bits of orange rind that just do me in!
Flour tortillas - I will ONLY use Guerrero's. They are thin, and tender, and unlike most flour tortilla's you buy you MUST cook them slightly before eating them.
(Or, if you are so led, or French, or just terribly bored you can make real crepes).
But why would I bother when I have my Guerrero's???
OK, here's what's what.
1. Heat the tortilla's ever so slightly on the griddle or in a heavy skillet- you don't want them to get ugly brown spots on them.
2. Spread about 2 tsp. Nutella across the middle of each hot tortilla.
3. On top of the Nutella, spread about 2 tsp. of the orange marmalade.
4. Gently roll them up.
5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. (Just lightly dust them, like a gentle snowfall - not like a howling blizzard that would require ice chipping and sidewalk shoveling for goodness sake!)
Excellent.
Now take a big bite.
Be careful or all the goodness will ooze out!!!
Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. You love me don't you? Just say it!!!!!
You can substitute Raspberry or Strawberry Jam for the orange marmalade, but gracious if we wouldn't have to go back and rename the whole thing. Fraises, Framboises... lot's of French confusion required.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Party Central

I have four parties to attend this weekend.

This is funny on several different levels. And disturbing on several other levels- let's just say there are a lot of levels involved.

We'll cover funny first.

It's funny because I haven't been to four parties TOTAL the entire previous 48 weekends of this year. Call me a non-party(er) if you must. A social outcast.

Personally, I think I'm pretty darn fun. The perfect party invitee. I laugh at everyone's jokes, I do not become intoxicated and cause situations that require law enforcement to be summoned. I unselfishly sample and compliment all of your party food. I "ooh and aah" appropriately at all of your lavish decorations.

Tell me.

What more do you people want??? And I ask that, of course in the nicest "please invite me to your party" kind of way.

OK, I must focus.

Let's continue with disturbing.

Of greater concern is how terribly disturbing, disconcerting, and excessive sweat- producing the whole situation is.

I will actually have to wear clothes to these parties. PARTY-TYPE clothes.

Just shoot me.

And speaking of SHOOTING (see, I AM funny!), here's a BULLETED list of just some of my freakazoid clothing concerns.


  • One of the parties is "Black-Tie Optional". Heaven forbid, why don't they just say make an appointment with your psychiatrist for help with figuring out what to wear?
  • One of the gatherings is with a group of friends who all attend this same party every year. Why is this a problem you say? The chances are very high that like a complete goober I will wear the same exact thing to this year's shindig as I did to last year's. Of course, you say no one will remember-it's been a whole year, there have been electrical storms, earthquakes, sales at Macy's, for Pete's sake, all kinds of things have happened. But I'm telling you people remember! They're taking bets right now on whether or not I wear the turquoise velvet thingie. Mark my words.
  • The two other parties are come and go-type Open Houses. One wants to look festive, but not overly "done-up". I don't do sequins, glitter, large ruffles or bows. I definitely don't do shirts or vests with Christmas trees, snowflakes, Santa, or any other holiday theme print. I don't do reindeer antlers or red noses. Do you see the problem, here? I don't particularly like red, look really bad in Christmas green, and your basic black just makes me look sad and mournful, not really understated and sophisticated.

So there you have it. The whole 4-party problem.

And yes, I'll admit, it's possible that the severely paranoid state in which I frequently operate could be what has kept me off of the year-round party circuit.