Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Seclusion Certainly Has It's Place

I'm hiding out y'all.

Hiding in my own home.  No.  I haven't robbed a bank or caused an accident of any kind.  Although I do need to go to the bank.  But not to rob it.  I have a check to deposit.

In case you're wondering I do try to remind myself that you just simply do not care about all these little details,

THEY DO NOT CARE, LU, THEY JUST DON'T.

But for some reason I am simply unable to stop myself.

I'm hiding so no one can see me for the next hour or so.  First, let me say I do hate these times when I have to burst your collective bubble about all the glamour and sophistication I am known for.  But like it says in the Bible we are to build up our brothers and sisters, so I feel a responsibility to all of you.  A responsibility to make sure that you don't feel any sort of inferiority when it comes to your glamour and sophistication-related issues.

So here goes.  I get my eyebrows waxed.

I KNOW.

You thought it was all natural.  Well no.

Several years ago I realized that I could no longer, you know, SEE.  Well, I could see, but apparently not well enough to continue to groom my own eyebrows. (As evidenced by the UNSPEAKABLE SHOCK I RECEIVED WHEN I LOOKED AT MY EYEBROWS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A MAGNIFYING MIRROR.)  I mean I could (and still can) see fine far away, but not up close.  In other words if my eyebrows had been located say, on my feet, everything would have been easy and doable.


But I believe the magnifying mirror thing is a story that you have already suffered through.

(COLLECTIVE SIGH OF RELIEF)

So now, I try to check underneath my bangs periodically, assess the situation, and then schedule a visit to the salon if maintenance is required.

Because, how do I say this?  I have been BLESSED with healthy eyebrow hair growth.  To the point that if I did not take the critical steps to stop it, I would be sporting what I believe has been referred to in the tabloids as a mono-brow or perhaps a uni-brow.

OH YES.  It is very glamorous and also MORE ATTRACTIVE THAN YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE.

So I took the big step a few years ago and decided it had to be done.

I know you'll be surprised to hear this.  I'm not much of a researcher.  No.  I prefer to just jump into something new completely blind and ignorant.  So keeping with that theme my first eyebrow waxing experience was on a whim at the nail salon.  I was having a pedicure and staring into the very large mirror that lines the opposite wall from all the pedicure chairs and realized (from quite a distance) that in my plucking pitifulness I had apparently ended up with one eyebrow about an inch longer than the other.   So with that realization I said to the salon worker "when you finish my pedicure I would like to have my eyebrows waxed".  I had seen other people getting it done there.  They just sat you in the back in one of the manicure chairs and wham bam it was over in a few minutes.  Besides NO ONE ELSE was in the salon at the time.  No one would know.
Well, something was apparently wrong with the chairs in the back because she kindly ushered me to the very first chair up by the front windows.  Then SHE OPENED UP THE FRONT CURTAIN so "the light was better".  And just luckily the salon was located right in between a Subway restaurant and a Sports Clip hair place, so the front sidewalk was packed to the gills with mostly men going about their lunchtime business.

I was thrilled.

But being a person that avoids making waves or conflict like she avoids the plague, I just let her continue.

I really don't remember much of the process because of all the PAIN INVOLVED, but I do remember her asking me when it was over (I think it was her, I really couldn't use my eyes at that point) if I was OK.   I do remember saying "OH YES, I'M GOOD, BUT DO YOU THINK THAT I COULD HAVE THOSE PIECES OF WAX THAT YOU PULLED OFF? I'LL PROBABLY TRY TO SALVAGE THAT SKIN AND HAVE IT SURGICALLY REATTACHED."

But Thanks.

So anyway, since then I've learned some things.  One is that some people are really, really good at pedicures, but not necessarily equally good at waxing.  Kind of like I can cook you a humdinger of a good meal, but you probably don't want me changing the oil in your car.

Or shaving you with a straight razor.

I've also learned that there are places that are a little more discreet with their waxing services and actually put you in a room with a door.

Amen.

And finally I've come to realize that my sensitive skin is always going to look like I've been involved in some sort of caustic chemical explosion for a while after the waxing process, but now, instead of looking that way for two weeks, it usually only lasts about an hour or so.

Thus my hiding.  I'd like to congratulate myself on that IMPRESSIVE overshare.

I apologize.

I'll go check the redness now, perhaps I can venture out to Zumba.

The glamour never ends.

Lu


Monday, November 28, 2011

And I Have Lived To Tell About It


Perhaps I've mentioned this before but it bears repeating:
1) I love to cook
2) I love to eat
3) Self-Monitoring is not my strongest personal attribute.

I mean we just had so much to be thankful for!  The boys were home!  It rained at the farm!  Weegie entertained everyone with his attempts at playing Aerobie!
























He practiced making regal shadow figures while relaxing in the Mule.














He of course, reserves this for only very special occasions.

So.

At least that's how I justified my four straight days of eating with what might be described as "abandon".


I ate with abandon.


And evidently Abandon is not the best dinner companion.


Because Saturday night my stomach (whose feelings I had heretofore not necessarily considered) whispered quietly to me

"Uh, excuse me Lu?  This is your stomach.  Uh, you need to ditch Abandon and PLEASE. STOP WITH. ALL.THE. EATING."

And then you know what my stomach did?  It taught me a lesson that's what it did.


Y'ALL.


And that is why last night I desperately wanted to give my stomach some nice soup as a token and pledge of my recommitment to our new and improved relationship.


It's really so easy.  And so important.

Put 2 (14 oz.) cans of diced tomatoes in the blender and puree.  Add about a cup of chicken stock, 1 tsp. salt, 1 T. maple syrup and 1/2 tsp. pepper (I used white).  Blend it all together.  Heat it up on the stove. If you think your relationship can handle it, stir in about 1/4 cup heavy cream.  Make some croutons out of dried up bread left over from Thanksgiving.


    
Now, with great tenderness and feeling feed it to your stomach.

Vow to do better.
Promise your undying devotion.

Like I've said before.  Do not be me.


Lu










Sunday, November 20, 2011

Me and My Homegirls

Hi y'all.

My name is Lu and I have Thanksgiving Dinner Multiple Personality Disorder.

Or TDMPD.

(I KNOW.  It's always really bad when it has an acronym.)

Let me introduce you to a few of my friends.  Over here is Too Scared to Choose Lu.  She's concerned that everything is perfect, everyone's favorite food is on the table, it's all hot and ready to be served at exactly the same time, and everyone raves about the meal.  Too Scared Lu has already decided on 4 different menus, but changed them each time she bought and read the latest "Thanksgiving Special Edition Magazine" filled with the perfect place settings, the most elaborate meal suggestions and the latest adaptations of the classic Thanksgiving offerings. Is it appropriate to have multiple starches on the holiday table?  There must be sweet potatoes,  Then of course, mashed potatoes.  But how about a rice dish?  Is that starch overkill?  Does some organization keep track of these things?  Does the National Data Base for Starch Registration and Service actually exist.
Surely there is some ruling body.

Too Scared specializes in total and absolute paralysis.  Why do ANYTHING at all when you know you're going to wish you had chosen to do JUST THE OPPOSITE?  I mean isn't it just easier that way?


Then there's much more logical It's So Good Just to be With Family Lu.  She really thinks that the most important thing about the holiday is just being with those you love, enjoying each others company, and being thankful.  AHEM, isn't what the whole name of the holiday implies?  But Family Lu loves her People, and she wants them to enjoy the holiday and what better way to make that happen than to serve an awesome, unforgettable meal that everyone just loves?  A meal that fills their stomachs and stirs their memories. A meal that makes her People wonder how they could possibly live without her and her Red River Fruit Salad and Fresh Apple Cake.
But then again, if her People feel the same way about just "being together" and the sentimentality of it all, why would they care what on earth she served?  Wouldn't they be just as happy with a Swanson's Frozen Turkey Dinner, by golly?  Served with the same DADGUM LOVE as all that fancy stuff? 
And then it seems Everybody Gets on My Very Last Nerve Lu shows up and things get pretty dicey.  The Chief says he's seen her around a lot these days, but I personally think he sometimes mistakes Too Scared or one of the others for Last Nerve.

He's not real observant sometimes, you know.

Anyway,  every time Family Lu starts to plan one of these "it's just about your People" meals, Too Scared Lu tries to pitch in and help.

I think you can probably understand that things begin a somewhat downward spiral from there.



And.  Oh. Yes. Procrastination Lu loves to hang out with the rest of us.  She has the most AWESOME way of finding all kinds of INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT things to do instead of making any kind of hard and fast decisions about the whole Thanksgiving dinner mess.  You know important things like rearranging all the shirts in her closet to make sure that none of the T-shirts with writing across the front get mixed in with any of the plain ones.  She researched the location of various Texas cities for a while this afternoon (although she has absolutely no plans, or even desire, to visit any of them).  But you can never be too "up" on the general geography of your home state.  She sat and watched two NFL football games, not really knowing which teams she was watching, nor really caring.  She spent a little time Googling Jake Locker, one of the quarterbacks on one of the teams because, well, she just did.  He went to the University of Washington, by the way.

They're the Huskies.  




So.  We've all been hanging out.  Too Scared, Family,  on occasion Last Nerve, and Miss Procrasti-na-she-own (as Doug Heffernan would say).

The home girls.



The Chief has been threatening some type of counseling.  But in true "Engineer-type" form, he's been holding out for a discounted Group Rate.



Gotta go.  Too Scared has apparently called some sort of meeting.  I need to go find Miss P and try to make sure she's not late.  That really sets off Last Nerve.


We have so enjoyed meeting you.



 Lu (and the gang!)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Weegie's Thoughtful and Theoretical Thursday




























Yo people.

The Weege here.  It's been a while.  I've had a rough few months, what with The Vet basically trying to remove my leg and all.  Just kidding.  I'm a kidder.  The Doc. He's a pretty good guy.  Did you know he's a deacon too?  A servant at heart.   I made it absolutely clear to him before the surgery though, that he needed to concentrate solely on me during the procedure and to please eschew any ideas about going out and visiting somebody and inviting them to church or taking care of a widow or anything before he made sure my leg was good.  Even a deacon needs his priorities reviewed.

May the Lord have favor on deacons everywhere.

Anyhoo.

I've had some thoughts lately.  And not shallow, unimportant ones like Mom tends to have.  Deep thoughts.  Thought provoking thoughts.  Observation-type thoughts. That's what 6 weeks of near total inactivity and boredom can do for a dog.  Make them thoughtful.  Full of thoughts.

I have chosen ten of these thoughts to share with you today.  You know, the number ten starts with a "tuh" and after all today is Thoughtful and Theoretical Thursday.  I also hope to use the term "dipthong" in some form, but I admit, working it in is going to be tough.


So here goes.


1.  When someone cuts open your leg and saws straight through the bone there's gonna be some hurt involved.  Please don't make me explain further.

2.  Me and the heavy narcotics?  We.Are.Not.Pals.  Just the smell of those pain pills made me throw up.  Other than the joy of watching Mom clean up all the spots where I upchucked  there was nothing good about the pain pills.  When cheese or chicken can't disguise the things you know I have a problem.

3.  Mom is a sucker.  Plain and simple.  For a few days all she did was grind up freshly boiled chicken for me and thinly slice my cheese treats.  She talked sweet to me all day long.  Honestly, she wouldn't leave me alone.  It got terribly annoying, but the chicken and cheese (and yes, blueberries) were great so I was tolerant.

4.  I have a primal need to be "up on things".  The couch, the top of the stairs, my two leather chairs, the patio furniture.  I mean when your legs are as short as mine you enjoy the extra elevation.  This was one of the toughest parts of my recovery time.  Staying on the ground.

5.  The chick with the razor at the Vet's office needs some training.  OMGosh.  Did you see the number she did on my leg and back?  And I don't want ANYONE to ever mention what she did to my buttocks fuzz.  Just don't.

6.  Don't tell Mom but several times when we were at the farm and Mom was in town to see Granny, The Chief let me run around and chase the cows.  He'll say he didn't.  But he did.

I heart The Chief.


7.  Did I mention that Mom is a sucker?  Cause she is.

8.  Have you ever watched the show Person of Interest?  I like it.  And don't even try to tell me that the main character isn't modeled on Clint Eastwood and his character in all those Westerns.  He is, and you know it.  Make my day and all.

9.  I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving and the prospect of a hearty portion of that large chicken they call Turkey. I am also a fan of dressing and mashed potatoes. Last year Mom tried to fancy up some brussel sprouts and The Chief  still wouldn't eat them.  I mean who would?  Syrup and nuts and salt cannot disguise their evil. She's a funny one.  Bless her heart for trying.

10.  All these weather changes have the squirrels and the raccoons and skunks and such all riled up.  I've been busy.  And loud. SO HELLO NEIGHBORS ON MY STREET, MY NAME IS WEEGIE AND I BARK CONSTANTLY.  Mom is working on it.



Uh. That's all.  I have things to do. 

And oh yea, dipthong.




Wednesday, November 16, 2011

And I Wonder, Still I Wonder



No.

Not who'll stop the rain.  I was fine with the rain.  Delighted even.

 (Those of you too young to have a clue that I'm referencing one of Creedence Clearwater Revival's biggest hits won't understand what I'm talking about.  I could explain and then maybe reference Proud Mary, or Born on the Bayou, or even Down on the Corner but that might bring up other things I needed to explain and that  might end with some other unsolicited thoughts and feelings on music of the early 70's, and that is CLEARLY NOT WHERE I'M HEADED HERE.)

(If anyone happens to be using a GPS at this juncture, you might want to shout out some directions...)

Anyway.

I just wonder why some things happen, don't you?  Why, why, why.

Like:

1) Why is it that I seem to be the only person in the world who cannot keep the little ear buds (?) on my headphones in my ears?  Are my ear openings deformed?  Do I not understand how they are to be correctly placed in my ears?  I don't know.  I just know that when I am using the treadmill or the elliptical, or the trapezoidal or the parallelogram machine they keep popping out.   I do believe if you went to the front desk of the gym and asked anyone there if they knew me, there would be a head-nodding consensus followed by a "Yes, she's the peculiar lady with the ear-bud problem."

2)  Why is it that out of all the boxes of aluminum foil on the shelf (and there are lots right now) do I pick the only one that after opening it at home do I discover that some freakazoid chemical/physical reaction has caused it to meld into one solid piece of aluminum?

I mean try to wrap that around a turkey.


3) Why is it, do you think, that when many people get in a large crowd at a shopping venue (let's say, Oh, The Nutcracker Market at Reliant or the aisles of a very packed Wal-mart) that they feel led to stop in the very middle of the aisle to oh, I don't know, talk to their friend about their shoes or their bunions or their children or their feelings about the state of the economy and totally forget the fact that there are a gabillion people right behind them at a complete standstill?

I wonder, still I wonder.  I do. You are welcome to wonder with me.


4)  Why do you think it is that today, looking forward to Wednesday's "Flavor" section of the Houston Chronicle, do I discover that the "Flavor" section is the only section MISSING from our copy.  Is there some lesson to be learned from that?


5) And I won't even pretend to think that most of you have not already come up with a #5.  Which of course, we have to have in order to have the proper odd # of whys.

I'm guessing your #5 has something to do with why on earth have you as a fairly capable and intelligent person read all the way to this point.  And honestly, I can't help you with that one.

Perhaps we should call John Fogerty.  Or his brother Tom.


And so now I see

It's early in the evening, just around suppertime....




And I should back myself out of this one somehow.



Lu



(Before any of you get all bent out of shape or your britches twisted, I have an announcement from Weegie. He has a post ready for tomorrow.  Thursday.  I know it's not his regular day, but he says the title rhymes with Thursday or something and that's what he wants.  And who am I, excuse me, to argue with that logic)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

As It Turns Out, I May Have a Future As a Fence Post


























"Lu, I need you over here.  And wear some shoes you can run in."

Argh. 

It was The Chief calling me on his cell phone from the cattle pen over by the barn.  He was there early Saturday morning moving the cattle into a particular pen in preparation for loading some of the older calves to be hauled to the sale barn. Before the guys arrive with the trailer, you need to have all the cattle in the pen.  Once they see the trailer and catch on to what's about to go down, anything can happen.

And sometimes it's not pleasant.


I had done my best pretending to be very, very busy preparing a nutritious and delicious breakfast when he announced that he was headed over to the pens.

"Oh, OK Chief, you just let me know if you need me to help..." I said.   Immediately adding a whispered plea to God.  "Oh puh-leez God, don't let him need me to help..."


Loading cattle makes me very nervous. Probably not as very nervous as it makes the cattle, but still.

Resigned to my fate, I turned off the skillet where the sausage was already sizzling, pulled on my running shoes and headed over.

"I've got them all in except those three," The Chief yelled while pointing toward one older cow and two extremely agitated young bulls.  Two young, agitated bulls sporting impressively LARGE HORNS.

Crap.

I'm not sure if I said it out loud, but I definitely said it.

I sincerely apologize.

"I'll go down and come up behind them and you keep them going in the direction of the gate," he politely suggested. " And WHATEVER YOU DO, don't let them run back down toward the woods."

"WHATEVER I DO, I will not let them run back toward the woods," I kept repeating to myself,
just in case I forgot what I was NOT WHATEVER TO DO.

It went surprisingly well.  I made the appropriate "HUH" noise when one of them started to turn down toward the woods, waved my arms, and just like that, they were in the pen.

(I can be hired out to help you pen your cattle for a very reasonable, dare I say, bargain price.) 

"Well, that was easy,"  I almost gushed.  "OK, I'll be headed back to finish up that sausage now.  You take care Chief."

"No, Lu, that's just the first pen, now we've got to move them through that little shoot there into the pen with the rest of the cattle."

Crap.

Again, my apologies.

The shoot, as it turns out, was not actually a shoot at all, but an oddly shaped little area with the opening to the desired pen on one side, and a pesky little open area between two large oak trees just down from said opening..

"You just need to block that opening Lu."  "WHATEVER YOU DO, don't let them go between the trees."  "We'll lose them for good if you do."

"Oh, OK Chief, just let me make sure I understand what I'm supposed to do, OK"?  I mean I like to be clear about exactly how my last few minutes on earth are about to play out.

"I'm supposed to stand here and block the opening between these two trees while you run the cattle,
(the cow, and the two young, agitated bulls with the VERY LARGE HORNS) directly toward me. And then if things go as planned they will all make a very sharp turn to the left and run right through that gate instead of going straight ahead, the direction they will most likely  prefer to go, and come right between these trees, trampling me in the process."

But WHATEVER I DO, I should not let them through the trees.

"Is that the plan Chief"?

"That's it in a nutshell, Lu, are you ready"?
"It will all be easy.  Just stand there like you're a fence post- they won't know any difference."

(And in a twisted irony type thing, right at that very moment one of the young, agitated bulls used it's VERY LARGE HORNS to do some major damage to a large cedar fence post while searching for a means of escape at the other end of the pen)  Seriously.

So anyway, I did my very best impression of a fence post (albeit a very pale, sweaty fence post) and apparently successfully fooled those cows into thinking that their only exit was the open gate to the pen as they one by one navigated almost Olympic-worthy sharp left tuns.

And WHATEVER I DID, I did not let them run through the trees, Amen.

"OK, thanks, Lu, that's all," said The Chief.   "What did you say you were making for breakfast"?


After I was safely back at the house and was finished preparing breakfast, I stepped outside to see if I could get a few shots of the whole loading process.
I took great pains not to get close enough to look available to help.







Loading and hauling cattle always involves lots of pick-up trucks.

























It also always involves some very skiddish, nervous cattle.  And in this case one pretty shaky donkey.

























And as much as I dislike it, it also requires the use of the "hot shot" or cattle prod.


























The donkey breathed a sigh of relief as he was cut-out into the pen of older cattle that would not be sold today.

























Thankfully, on this sale day there were no major catastrophes (well, except when one of those two young bulls jumped the fence into another pen and had to be forcibly retrieved...) or injuries to man or beast.

























The older "Momma" cows will moo and search for their calves for a day or so and then go on about their business and have another calf.

Such is the circle of cattle life.




 It makes me unhappy sometimes, but clearly not as unhappy as I get when I have to imitate a fence post...


Like I said.  Call me with your cattle herding-related needs.  I'm what they call "a professional."



Lu



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Some Mid-Week Observations


 Welcome to all of you looking for the Pumpkin Muffins!  Scroll down to yesterday's post and enjoy!



 Now.

I thought I should check in with a big OH MY GOODNESS IT RAINED HERE YESTERDAY.

Weegie had the best time trying to drink every drop of the water that was pouring off the house.


























And I don't mean to brag or anything, but we got enough rain to actually register in the rain gauge.  All of my plants were singing praises.

Even the lemon tree which has lost a considerable number of leaves lately seemed a little perkier after the downpour.  And please get ready for a whole bunch of lemon recipes in your near future because the lemon yield this year?  Prolific.






















Especially for such a small tree in a container.


Other things going on around here?  On the last trip that The Chief and I made to New Mexico we came across three absolutely beautiful photographs taken by Bo Svensson.

I just had them framed and love the way they turned out.  We The Chief hasn't had a chance to hang them yet (I help, but we have determined over the years that I might possibly have some sort of picture hanging, well, handicap, which causes any picture I hang to be two or three inches off to the left). I totally attribute this to the fact that my right foot is slightly larger than my left.

I KNOW!

Anyway,  here are the photographs all framed (albeit not hung yet).



























Of course my photography certainly doesn't do them justice.

























Love this!  And even though we wanted to group them on a wall in the living area, or the hall, they look so good with the light mattes and the dark frame on our saddle brown bedroom walls we think they may stay in there.

























When they are all neatly hung, I'll give you a tour.

And let's see....

Oh yes.  I didn't mean to, but yesterday I made the BEST cookies.  I really had no intention of making cookies and only regained consciousness after the whole thing was over.  The Chief was quite upset that I had made them and only ate two I think.

That is his way of protesting my "bad baking habit".

He's a tough one, The Chief.



Tomorrow I am spending most of the day at the Nutcracker Market and I should probably go find my very most comfortable walking shoes and while I'm at it, rob a bank or two.


Hope all of you are having the very best of days- AND DID YOU HEAR??  We're getting a Trader Joe's in The Woodlands!


Happy Wednesday,

Lu



Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I Don't Believe They Throw The Canned Version Out Of Planes

I recently saw an article about people in California throwing pumpkins out of a plane. A celebration of sorts.  And while this most certainly doesn't qualify as the oddest thing our friends over on the West Coast are known to do, I just really couldn't get into the whole, you know, WOO-HOO of it.  To be honest, I've never really had a burning desire to throw anything out of a plane.

Unless, of course, you consider that flight attendant we had on one particularly memorable trip to New York.

Anyway, they throw pumpkins out of a plane and try to hit a target.  My guess is that it makes a really big mess.  And probably nowhere near said target.   I mean who gets to clean that up??

At the end of this post I'm sharing with you my original recipe for Just Right Pumpkin Muffins. But before we get to that, I have some thoughts about Pumpkin.  And honestly, no, I haven't really counted them, so let's hope there's not an even number-something we would have to deal with right away.

I've never been a huge fan of Pumpkin Pie.  It's the texture.  And the appearance.  And maybe the taste.  But I'm sure a lot of my disdain for the Pumpkin Pie came from the time early in my marriage when I was determined to make a Pumpkin Pie (his favorite) for The Chief, and somehow while rearranging several things in a already overfilled oven, I spilled the entire still soupy pie all over the bottom and sides of the electric oven.  The "goop" stuck to and burned on the heating element and I had to remove everything from the oven for over an hour, let the oven cool, then clean it.

So anyway, Happy Thanksgiving! "You people just munch on these Pork Rinds while I dismantle and clean the oven and then put the turkey back in to cook for another 3 hours!"



And there was also that time when I had an unfortunate run-in with the rotten interior of a pumpkin.  I believe this is where the Wikipedia people get their definition of "slime".  And also probably   "nauseating".

So.  I know you're just aching now to make something with pumpkin, what with that appetizing lead-in and all.

Sorry.

Trust me.  If I have pumpkin issues and still feel strongly enough about this recipe to share it with you- well, SCORE!  Right?


*I didn't include step-by-step photos, because they're just so simple to make!!!

 
Just Right Pumpkin Muffins

Lu

2 cups flour, sifted
1 T. plus 1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
1 ½ tsp. ground ginger
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp. vanilla
½ cup milk
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup orange juice
1 T. orange zest
¾ cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
¼ cup butter, melted
Walnut halves
½ cup brown sugar

1  Preheat oven to 400.  Lightly grease one 12-cup muffin pan and one 12-cup mini muffin pan (or whatever floats your boat…)

2  Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger in a large bowl.

3.In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, egg, vanilla, milk, heavy cream and orange juice and zest.  Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and stir.  Fold in pumpkin and chopped walnuts.  Gently stir in melted butter.

4    Fill each muffin cup (you should have enough for about 18 large muffins or 12 large and 12 minis). Place a walnut half (or two) on top of  each and sprinkle with brown sugar.  Bake 20 to 22 minutes.  Cool and enjoy!











Monday, November 7, 2011

An Odd Number of Thoughts

Many times the experts tell us to group things in odd numbers.  Like in flower arranging.  You should always use three roses or five dahlias, never two or four.

So being what some might term "a little crazy in the head" I tend to try to always think an odd number of thoughts if at all possible.  I usually try to stick with just one, because one, after all, is a lot easier to work with than say 29.  But sometimes I get way ahead of the game and by mistake end up with TWO thoughts, in which case I am either forced to forget one of them or just go ahead and come up with another one just to make sure I satisfy the "odd number" rule.
And quite frankly all of this usually requires a lot more thinking than I originally set out to do.

This, I guess, is the curse of the rule follower.

So before I am forced to come up with 5 or maybe 7 thoughts I want to go ahead and share 3 with you now.

AND ALL GOD'S PEOPLE SAID: "Lu would you please just get to the point."

Fine.

1.  Weegie is simply delighted that he is now allowed to jump up on things again.




















It delights him to no end to sit on the ottoman and look out toward the backyard at the squirrels.  Sometimes he sits on the ottoman and "talks" to me while I cook. 



























And sometimes he just gets totally lost in his thoughts in which case I just continue on our conversation all by myself.  I don't have a problem with this at all.

We all need our alone time with our thoughts.  All 5, 7, or 9 of them.


2.  Everyone needs to go to the store and buy some canned pumpkin (if you don't already have some).  Tomorrow I'm going to share the recipe for these scrumptious muffins and you'll want to make them right away.



I also think it's best to hold to the odd rule in muffin consumption, so it's either 1 or 3 but not 2.
That would just be wrong.


3.  I continue to enjoy my Zumba classes and would like to state for the record that I do believe now without a doubt that I AM NOT the worst student in the class, but it's pretty close.  I am BY FAR the palest member of the class and am forced to view the glare from my non-tanned skin for the duration of the class as we are in front of mirrors.  Sometimes I remember to take extra sunglasses for those unfortunate few who are forced to Zumba beside me. But it is all good my friends, all good.


And now before I accidentally have another thought and have to bump this list up to five, I'm signing off....


Oddly,
Lu

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Spicy Beef Enchilada Stew

It's November people.

I thought it was about time for a soup or stew or chowder or gumbo or something.

I took it upon myself to invent something from what I had in the pantry and the fridge.  This just happened to turn out great. 

Unfortunately I was the only one around to try it, but it feeds a crowd!



A step-by-step with pretty photos follows!



Spicy Beef Enchilada Stew
 Lu -Serves (at least) 8 



1.5 lbs. stew meat in smallish (less than 1 inch) cubes

Vegetable oil

1 cup flour

Salt and pepper

2 stalks celery coarsely chopped

6 large white mushrooms, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1 med. white onion, coarsely chopped

1 large sweet potato, in ½ inch cubes

1 T. Better Than Bouillon (beef)

½ tsp. Chipotle Chili Pepper (powder)

1 can (15.oz) Hatch Fire Roasted Tomato Enchilada Sauce

1 can (15 oz.) Tomato sauce

3 cups beef broth

½ c. crushed tortilla chips

Sharp Cheddar cheese, grated



Cut the stew meat into cubes and remove any excess fat and connective tissue.  Mix together the flour,  1 tsp. salt, ½ tsp. pepper and coat the beef cubes .  In several batches, brown the beef (on all sides)  in about 3 T. of vegetable oil.  Add more oil as necessary.  Remove beef and place on a paper-towel covered plate.   Add more oil to pan and add all chopped vegetables and the Better than Bouillon and the chili pepper powder.  Saute’ for about 5 minutes.  Return the stew meat to the pan and stir into vegetables.  Add the enchilada sauce and the tomato sauce.  Stir well.  Cook on med-low for about 5 minutes.  Add the beef broth.  Stir well.  Cook on low for about 1 hour.  Add the crushed tortillas and cook about 15 minutes more.  Serve with lots of shredded sharp cheddar.





1.  Cube and trim the stew meat.  



Keep in mind that stew meat (packaged as such) is the ends and pieces of various meats.  Some of it is tender, some not so much.  Make sure that you try to get all the pieces fairly uniform in size. 


 That looks pretty good.



2.  Mix the flour, salt and pepper.


Coat all sides of the beef cubes in the flour mixture.

3.  In small batches, brown the stew meat in the vegetable oil, adding additional oil between batches if necessary.  Make sure it's brown on all sides.

4.  Remove the beef and drain on a paper-towel lined plate.


 5.  Add more vegetable oil to the pot (if necessary) and add all prepared veggies.  Saute'.



Add more salt, pepper, the Better than B and the chili powder.



Add the beef back into the pot and stir with the vegetables.



6.  Add the enchilada sauce and the tomato sauce.








7.  Add the beef broth and cook for about an hour.


8.  Add the tortilla chips and cook about 15 more minutes. Just dump them in.  Stir.


9.  Serve with lots of Sharp cheddar!




Hope you all enjoy it!

Lu





Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pride Obviously Cometh Before the Rich Dessert

I think you'll all agree that I don't mind being relatively transparent.

I've openly discussed my unhealthy obsession with TAB and Cheez-Its.  I admit that I talk to my dog and conversely, that he generally responds in kind.  I have freely admitted that I am married to and dearly love a man that is my complete polar opposite.  He is methodical and proactive and organized.  He's a logical thinker.  A brilliant person really.  Which, I have to admit looks really bad for me because the polar opposite of all that?  Not too flattering.

I'm not embarrassed to tell you that I love bugs.  I'm a procrastinator.  I hate board games.  I vehemently dislike the color purple.  I'm a conflict avoider.

And oh yes, I still occasionally (OK, almost every day) use my perfume bottle as a "microphone" and pretend that I am a famous singer. Most recently it's been Adele.  But last Friday it was K.C. (you know, of "and the Sunshine Band").

(I KNOW)

You see, I typically have no problem sharing at all.  Let's see what's left?

Oh yes, I am a total fashion disaster.  I wear my jeans several days in a row without washing them.  I eat peanut butter (and Nutella) oh (and Marshmallow Creme) out of the jar with my finger.

I sweat.

Like I said.  Typically I lean heavily toward the OVERSHARE.


So, you see, I think you might be surprised to learn that there's one thing I can't bring myself to share.

My cheesecake recipe.

Yep.  I am embarrassed and ashamed to admit that I'm totally prideful of My Cheesecake recipe. Usually, you know, I am decidedly in favor of giving out all of my recipes.  I mean it's not like I want to have to fess up on Judgement Day that I was so stingy and arrogant that I held on to that sucker til the bitter end.  It's a dessert.  Not like the key to any kind of human-kind mystery or anything.

I made two cheesecakes recently.  I took photos of all the steps.  I typed out the recipe and saved it.  It is no longer just enclosed in the iron trap of my mind.  I had every intention of posting it today, and then I had my own small, private panic attack accompanied by excessive sweating and realized that I just COULD. NOT..DO IT.

So I guess I'm asking for your help, your counsel so to speak to barrel past this obstacle.

I want to be a better person.  I do.  One that you'll be proud of....


And I should probably ditch the kitchen security cameras I had installed for the recent cheesecake making session.  That was probably wrong too.

In my weakness,

Lu