Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Food for Thought

Grilled Eggplant Parmesan

PREP: 25 minutes
Grill: 9-12 minutes

1 medium eggplant ( about 1½#) cut lengthwise into 4 slices

1 T plus 1 t olive oil
½ t salt
¼ t ground black pepper
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 cup)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, sliced
2 medium tomatoes, each cut into 4 slices

1. Lightly brush eggplant slices with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In small bowl, mix mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and basil; set aside.

2. Place eggplant slices on grill over medium heat. Cook 8-10 minutes, until tender and lightly browned, turning once. Top eggplant slices with tomato slices and cheese mixture. Cover grill and cook 1-2 minutes until cheese melts and tomato slices are warm.

Make 4 main-dish servings

Image from Google Images

Friday, May 22, 2009

Musing Mondays (Am I Early or Late?)

I have to credit my stepdaughter Pam with being my blogging mentor. Pam is the author of Pam's Perspective. As with most of her endeavors, she set the bar VERY HIGH with her wonderful blog. Take a few minutes and visit her and you'll see what I mean. Pam encouraged me to start blogging and, as usual, has been very helpful.

One of the many things Pam and I share is a love of books and reading. Pam actually works in a library and also moderates two different book groups, one that I am part of. Pam's post for today is entited
Musing Mondays. In her post she asks the question:

Do you remember how you developed a love for reading? Was it from a particular person, or person(s)? Do you remember any books that you read, or were read to you, as a young child?

I don't remember what in particular started my love of reading. I'm sure my parents read to me as a little girl but I don't have any specific recollections. My first strong memory of a love of reading was my 3rd grade teacher (whose name escapes me) who had a shelf full of Nancy Drew books. I actually only spent about two weeks in her classroom. Soon after school started that year, I was tested and put into a 4th grade class, skipping the 3rd grade.

But I remember that bookshelf and going into her room day after day to get another Nancy Drew book. I don't know how many I read but I know I started at one end of the shelf and went to the end.

Later I attended a private school for grades 6th-8th which had a small library. Very small, about the size of my bedroom closet, small. There was a series of biographies. I remember books about Clara Barton, Florence Nightingale, Stephen Foster, to name a few. I remember in my early 20's a period of reading Hollywood biographies. I love biographies and autobiographies (now they seem to be called Memoirs) to this day.

When I was in 7th grade I remember my parents bought a set of World Book Encyclopedias. Let me tell you that was a major investment at the time. My father actually made a custom bookshelf for the set and it was a very cherished possession for a long time. I remember sitting and reading one volume at a time from cover to cover (can you say nerd). And every year we would get the Year Book which came with a set of stickers to be put in the appropriate World Book volume referencing an article in the Year Book usually reporting the death of someone or a scientific breakthrough.

I didn't realize until I started this that I guess I do have some major memories about reading. Once again, thanks Pam!

How about you? Do you remember how you developed a love of reading?

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Musing Mondays post, or share your opinion in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks.

Image shamlessly lifted from Pam's Perspectives

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Other Fur Kid, Rosey

Meet Lucy's Big Red Sister, Ambertrail's Cinnamon Rose. Isn't she beautiful? A very sweet dog, but don't let the picture fool you. Rosey is one intense Golden Retriever. Almost 9 years old now, this was taken when Rose was in her prime. She's slowing down but still out there hunting every chance she gets with Paul.

Rosey is from Canada, eh? We wanted a family dog, and he wanted a dog to hunt with. He researched breeders of hunting Golden Retrievers and didn't find many in the U.S. but he found
Ambertrail Reg'd in Maxville, Ontario. We drove twice to the kennel just outside of Ottawa; once to see their operation and be 'interviewed' and the second time to pick up Rosey at 7 weeks old.

Trained to his voice, a whistle and hand signals, they hunt upland game and water fowl. Paul trained her himself beginning at 8 weeks. When she is home, she's pretty much a typical Golden but in the field, she's all business. Don't pet me, don't talk to me, just shoot the damned duck and let me go get it! There's always something in the freezer compliments of Rosey such as the pheasant I use in my
Perfect Pheasant recipe.

Paul is in sales and on the road most of the time and Rosey rides with him daily. They have a bond like nothing I have ever seen. I've often said if the house catches on fire and Rose and I are both trapped, I'm in trouble.

And since Lucy joined the family 4 years ago, we're a two-dog family; something I would never had imagined. Some days when they both get barking and chasing each other around the house (one at 12# and the other at 75#) I just stand there and laugh. Often pains in the butt, they keep us laughing and sure do add a lot to our lives.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Food for Thought--Perfect Pheasant

I've already told you that Paul is a hunter. He and Rosey, our Golden Retriever, annually bring home several pheasants for the freezer. The birds are pen-raised and released over the course of the season. Because they are fed corn they do not have a 'gamey' taste but are a cross between turkey and Cornish Game hens in my opinion. Over the years I have tried many different ways of cooking pheasant. Best cooked slowly and in moisture, here is one of our favorites. Pheasant in the slow cooker, with white wine and garlic, along with other seasonings. You could also substitute chicken or other poultry.

Perfect Pheasant
Serves 6


2 pheasants, cut into serving size pieces
1/4 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
4 tbsp. oil
4 tbsp. butter
1 garlic clove
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup Sauterne or dry white wine
1 tbsp. sugar
1 sm. can chopped mushrooms or 1 cup thickly sliced fresh
1 small can sliced black olives
1 1/2 cups chicken broth


Dredge pheasant meat in seasoned flour, shake off excess flour. Saute in shortening and butter. Remove pheasant to slow cooker or roasting pan. Mash garlic clove in skillet juices, add onion, wine, sugar, mushrooms, olives, and broth.

Heat to bubbling and simmer five minutes. Pour over pheasant. Heat in slow cooker/Crock Pot on low 5-6 hours or in covered roasting pan at 325 degrees for at least 1 1/2 hours. I prefer the slow cooker/Crock Pot method as it's a long slow cooking and mingles the flavors better. The meat will cook to the point of falling off the bone.

Serve with wild rice. Enjoy!

Image from Google Images

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hurry Up, Toast!!!

Does anyone else remember the Sunbeam toasters from the 1950's? It was so cool, you put the bread in the slots and it s l o w l y dropped down out of sight and then after a few minutes it s l o w l y reappared all nice and brown. I still had my mother's Sunbeam toaster when we moved here 23 years ago but in the move it got dropped & dented and one of the Bakeolite handles broke. I was heartbroken.

There was nothing quick about making a piece of toast in the Sunbeam but somewhere along the way I became very impatient about feeding myself. In fact, sometimes the microwave isn't fast enough for me and I'll yank something out of it after 30 seconds and eat whatever it is cold. I would never do this if it was for someone else, but I just don't care that much when it's for me.

My mother, who is a sucker for catalog/mail order, bought a Black & Decker toaster oven recently from J.C. Penney for the princely sum of $159!! When I saw the charge on her account I had to ask what the hell do you need this for and what's so special about it that it costs $159!? Well, it is her money and not really my business but I still thought it was a ridiculous amount of money to pay for a toaster oven, and I told her so.......several times.

Last week Mom moved into a smaller apartment and had to get rid of a few things and decided this toaster (which had NEVER been used) had to go. So she offered it to me. Not before we had a few more words about it but that's another story. So I brought this rather normal looking appliance home, put it on the counter and didn't think much about it until today.

This morning I decided to make some toast for me and Lucy (told you she has us all wrapped around her little paw). WELL!! This turns out to be no ordinary toaster oven, this is the Black & Decker Infrawave SPEED OVEN! I had noticed that it had more buttons than the cockpit of a plane but until this morning I hadn't really looked closely. This thing toasted my bread in less than 2 minutes! Wow! I hope it's not toasting anything else while I stand there watching it but I'll take my chances and expect to be eating a lot more toast in the near future! Toast and Tea anyone?

Image from Google Images

Monday, May 18, 2009

Should Have Called Her "Skippy"

Since I mentioned the first Jack Russell Terrier in my life in my Adventures post I thought I should introduce you to THE Jack Russell Terrier in my life: Lucy aka Lucy Poop, Little Bit and Lucy the Jack Russell Terror. Lucy is 12# of dynamite; a typical little dog who's really a big dog in a little dog suit. Totally size blind, Lucy will charge the biggest dog in the crowd only to turn and run away screaming like a little girl when the big dog turns around.

She was 7 months old when she came to us 3 years ago. A client was moving and couldn't keep her. I had already gotten to know Lucy while I was selling the house and immediately said "we'll take her!" We already had Rosey, a 2 1/2 year old Golden Retriever, so I had to say that if Rosey couldn't adjust, we couldn't keep Lucy but I don't think I could have ever taken her back.

I tell her all the time that she is the luckiest dog in the world. She's got us all wrapped around her little paw. She's got 2 acres to chase squirrels & chipmunks around and has Rosey, her big red sister who puts up with her antics on a daily basis. She loves peanut butter (shoulda called her Skippy) and waits patiently every morning to share Paul's coffee and cereal. In short, she's a brat.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Adventures in South Africa

A few people have asked me, "what's up with the jungle stuff?" Well, I have always loved animal prints. My favorites are African prints; leopard, cheetah and zebra are best. I don't wear furs but I do adore animal prints in fashion and use them as accents in decor.

My husband is a hunter; let's get that out there first and foremost. We eat just about everything he harvests but our house is also full of animal mounts and trophies. When we first moved into our home I christened what most would call a den, The DAR, short for Dead Animal Room. In that room you will find a bear head mount, caribou antlers, mule deer antlers and several duck mounts. And in 2002 I accompanied Paul on a safari to South Africa. Not all that keen on the trip initially, it turned out to be the trip of a lifetime for me and certainly a dream come true for my husband who has been hunting since the age of 9. So now you will find several African animal mounts in our home as well.

Back in 2001 when he first started seriously talking about an African hunt he came home from a sportsmen's show saying "I've found the professional hunter I want to hunt with in Africa. Do you want to go with me?" My answer was "that's nice, honey, but, no thanks. I'm not interested in going to Africa, have fun." He said "You don't understand, I WANT you to go with me. I want to do this together." Hmmm, that was different. Okay, I'll consider it, but I need more info.

So Paul took the list of references provided by Erik Terblanche of Amanita Safaris and called every single person on the list. One of the hunters had taken his wife, a nonhunter like myself, with him. So Paul contacted that couple and put me on the phone with Linda. I asked a million questions about the accommodations, food, etc., and at the end of our chat thought "hmmmm, this might not be so bad."

So in June of 2002 Paul and I flew from Boston to Johannesburg, South Africa for two weeks in the Limpopo Province of South Africa on the Botswana border. A Trip of a Lifetime, to be sure. The photo above was me sitting outside The Lodge with my little buddy Rascal, the first Jack Russell Terrier in my life, while Paul was out tracking the elusive kudu. Stay tuned and I'll share some photos and tell you more about our Adventures in South Africa.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Food For Thought

Although I don't have enough time to really put into it, I love to cook! So I thought if I committed to posting a recipe a week, I might be motivated to try some new things and to share what I call "tried and true" recipes.

Like so many of you I have shelves and shelves of cookbooks. Maybe NOT like you, I hardly look at them any more. With the Internet there almost seems no need for cookbooks. Google an ingredient that's getting ready to become a science experiment in the fridge and get 100,000 hits of how to cook it! Lately when I am looking for an idea I find I need at least 3 different recipes to make one dish.

So here's my first offering. Might as well make it a simple one. Since fresh asparagus is plentiful and not too pricey right now we'll start with:

Serves 6

1 1/2 lbs. fresh asparagus, trimmed
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Spread asparagus on a baking sheet in a single layer and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and roast the asparagus in the upper third of the oven until the spears are tender when pricked with a tip of the knife; about 10 to 12 minutes depending on their thickness. Move the spears around a couple times during roasting. Remove baking sheet from oven.

Immediately place the butter on a corner of the hot baking sheet to melt with tongs, transfer the asparagus to a serving platter. Pour melted butter over the asparagus and serve. Enjoy!

Image from Google Images

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Buy Local--It's Good For You!

Spring time is Farmers' Market time. I love fresh fruits and vegetables but the produce I find in the supermarket leaves much to be desired. Most of the time the quality stinks (sometimes literally) and the prices make me swoon. So Farmer's Market season makes me smile.

I try to shop locally whenever I can. Whether from a local farmer or a local hardward store, I try to keep my money in my community. Ever need just ONE screw? Go into one of those huge home stores that sell everything from drapes to toilet plungers to seeds asking for one #8 flat head wood screw. Well, first you'll need to find someone to ASK. Good luck. And if you do find what you want, you'll have to buy a plastic box of 20 rather than the 1 or 2 you need.

Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned business, more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms -- continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community. Ever see the name of one of those huge home improvement stores on the uniforms of the local soccer team? And don't assume that buying from one of those chain stores is going to save you money either. Often you are forced into buying more than you need as in my screw example. Besides, even if you do spend a few pennies more, if the money ends up going back into your community, it's an investment, not a loss.

Having always been a proponent of buying locally, I recently joined the Blackstone Valley Independent Business Alliance. Members include insurance agents, restaurant owners, paint & hardware stores, flower shops, builders, a radio station, printers, a tire shop, a ski shop and more....all owned by people who live AND work in the community. These people are my neighbors; I run into them at the post office. They remember MY name. I don't know about you but I like that. I hope we never lose that small-town America feeling in My Community and I intend to put my money where my mouth is.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Whew, it's been a crazy week!! As you may remember I'm a full-time Realtor. For that side of my life, please visit my Real Estate blog. Unless you've been living in a cave somewhere you know how difficult the real estate market has been for the last 18 months. That would be assuming your cave hasn't been foreclosed on! Well I am happy to report that things are definitely changing and we, here in the Northeast, are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel (I just pray it's not a train). Anyway, I have been very busy with business this week and that has taken most of my attention and I've missed having the time to sit here and chat.

But today is a special day and I didn't want to let it pass without paying tribute to a couple people. Here in this photo is my Mom. This was taken about 3 years ago on the ocassion of my surprise 50th birthday party. It's one of the nicest pictures taken of my mom and me ever!

Just the briefest of details.....I am an only child and my father died very suddenly almost 8 years ago at the young age of 68. So since then it's pretty much just Mom and me. She lives on her own but close by. A very independent lady in her own right, she does a pretty good job of taking care of herself and is very low maintenance but we are most definitely "a team," and I try to be there when she needs me. So Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

The other person I want to wish a Happy Mother's Day to is my stepdaughter, Pam. An amazing woman with many talents, Pam is the author of the blog Pam's Perspectives. Please visit her today and read the beautiful tribute she made to all the Moms in her life. I was thrilled and proud to be included in her comments. Pam and I have a very special friendship which adds so much to my life. But what I want to say today is what a wonderful mother I think she is and how lucky Katie & Madeleine are to have her.

Happy Mother's Day to Mom, Pam and all the special women out there!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Billy Elliot Nominated for 15 Tony Awards!

It was announced yesterday morning that Billy Elliot The Musical has been nominated for a record-tying 15 Tony Awards. In February, Pam and I went to New York to see the hit musical on Broadway at the Imperial Theater. This was my first Broadway show, and I loved it!

The nominees for the Tony Awards were announced Tuesday morning on the CBS Morning Show. The three boys who share Billy Elliot’s title role in the New York production — David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish — were nominated together for Best Actor in a Musical. Kiril Kulish was in the show the day we saw it in February, and he was amazing.

The trio performed one of the numbers from the show after the announcement on CBS. They did one of my favorite songs from the show "Electricity." Take a look at the video and you'll see what everyone is talking about:

Watch CBS Videos Online

The 63rd Annual Tony Awards will be broadcast on June 7, on CBS. I don't always watch the Tonys but this year I just might. And if the show comes to the Providence Performing Arts Center, I plan to see it again!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Gift! For Me? How sweet.....

My husband, Paul, came home Monday afternoon with a gift for me. He came in with a plain box saying "I was going to wrap it but if you don't care....." Of course I didn't mind and eagerly took the Emergency Safety Hammer!!

And not just any Emergency Safety Hammer....a deluxe model equipped with flashlight and mounting bracket! The instructions say "use pointed end to strike the glass in case passengers are locked or trapped inside vehicle. Use cutter blade to cut the seat belt in case of emergency." Now before you say, "oh god, Paul's in trouble. What kind of man gives his wife a gift of an emergency safety hammer," let me tell you that I was very pleased! I have ALWAYS wanted one of these! Honest!! Not that a piece of jewelry wouldn't also have pleased me but this was a GOOD gift. He knew I would like this.

I have very few phobias. I'm not afraid of spiders (I don't like them but I'm not afraid) or snakes (I think they are very cool) or mice (they're only THIS big?!) or bats (mice with wings, very cool!) I'm not afraid of most of the usual things that tend to make women scream and run out of a room. BUT I am afraid of being trapped in a car under water. You hit the water, the electrical system shorts out and the electric windows don't work! Down you go. So driving over a body of water on a bridge makes my heart palpitate. I've reported this phobia to friends who say "but you used to be a scuba diver!" True enough. So put my tank and regulator in the car with me and I won't be as afraid. Not very convenient.

We have a time share in Kitty Hawk on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Last May was our first time there, and we drove the coastal route south which took us over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. TWENTY-THREE miles of Bay Bridge-Tunnel! And guess who was driving that leg of the trip down as Paul napped?! But I was cool, I can handle this. By the end of it, I was driving 80 miles per hour! Get me off this {bleeping} bridge!!!

But this year, I am set to go. I will have my trusty Emergency Safety Hammer with flashlight nearby in the car, and I will feel much safer. Like the package says It could save your life! I'm counting on it. And if the bridge really gets to me, I can always hit myself in the head with the hammer and sleep the rest of the way!

Image from Google Images

Monday, May 4, 2009

B.P.O.E.---Best People on Earth

Well, that's not the official meaning of BPOE but if you ask me, it fits. I am a card-carrying member of the The Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks Lodge #850 and proud of it! Until two years ago I didn't know much about the Elks. I knew they were a fraternal organization with a very nice building in the City of Woonsocket where I needed to find new rental space to operate Adopt-A-Family, Inc., from.

Until then we called a local church home but it was closing and the building was being sold. We were desperate to find another safe, large location in the city we could afford and there weren't many options. Not expecting that the Elks would be able to rent us their hall for a whole week in December which is prime party time, I made an appointment to meet with them early in 2007 to ask.

They didn't know much more about us than I did about them but they were very nice and when they found out that our mission is to provide Christmas gifts to children of needy families, they were anxious to help. And that was the beginning of what I know will be a long and happy association with the Elks for both myself and AAF.

We rented their hall that week in December 2007, and we really got to know each other. The Lodge is open 7 days a week but most of the time only to members. So they watched us work over that week and they were impressed. I'll tell you more about Adopt-A-Family in another post. This is about the Elks. That week they couldn't do enough to help us and make us feel welcome. We knew we had found a new home.

The mission of the BPOE is all about patriotism and community service. Two things that are dear to me, as well. When I started to learn more about what they do for the community, I was hooked. And before that first week in December was over, I had decided I wanted to become a member. I'm proud to say that the Exalter Ruler that year, Butch Desjarlais, approached Paul and me and offered to sponsor us. In case you hadn't guessed, to be sponsored by the Exalter Ruler is an honor in itself. So before the end of 2008, Paul and I had both become members of Woonsocket Elks #850.

Established in 1868, the Elks nationally are involved in a wide variety of programs, from scholarships to drug education to Veterans Services. The BPOE is second only to the federal government in the amount of scholarship money they award! Scholarships are available to children and grandchildren of Elks. Paul and I have five grandchildren soon to be heading off to college so we'll soon start applying for them.

Our Lodge #850 is located Woonsocket, a city that is home to a large population of struggling families. Some of the events that we sponsor annually include a Fishing Derby, Youth Appreciation Dinner, Soccer Shoot, Basketball Hoop Shoot, Kids Christmas Party, Milk Fund, blood drives plus we have a resident Boy Scout Troop.

Since joining, Paul and I have become involved as much as our busy schedules allow. We enjoy dropping in on a Friday night when the lodge is open to the public for Fish & Chips. The food is good and reasonable. There's no pressure to do anything, just paying your annual dues and buying occasional raffle tickets helps fund the Elks National Foundation. But as I said, this is the beginning of a long association with a group I am pleased to be part of. As our motto states.....Elks Care, Elks Share!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Are You Feeling Lucky?

Gwendolyn from A Sea of Books AND a fellow Rhode Islander from what I can see is doing something that sounds like fun.....she's got a book giveaway going! I've never seen a blogger give anything away so it's all new to me.

Gwendolyn has five copies of Billie Letts' MADE IN THE U.S.A. that she's giving away to celebrate her 10th post. I haven't read the book yet (although I did enter the giveway so I might be reading it soon!) but her review of the book says that it's a "heartrending tale of two children in search of a place to call home."

If you want to learn more about the book and how to enter for a chance to win, visit her here. Good luck!

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