Saturday, March 24, 2007

Winter Onions

Don over at An Iowa Garden has been posting pictures of all the beautiful little early spring flowers that are poking their heads through the leaf litter in his yard. Since it was in the 60's here yesterday (!!!) I took the opportunity to take a walk through my yarden and see what was going on. You can imagine my surprise to see these things peeking out of my herb bed!

I remember planting some green onion bulbs last summer before the herbs got too full. But, as you can see, they quickly disappeared beneath the chaos and so I forgot about them.

Several years ago I bought some "winter onions" from Millie Madsen. She told me to plant them and forget them and they will winter over and come up in spades the next year. And let me tell you - she wasn't lying! They totally took over my behind-the-garage garden. They literally spread all over the place. And, frankly, I didn't care for the flavor as they are very strong.

So, when I pulled these yesterday, I knew for sure that I'd gotten hold of some winter onions. Whew! They may be small, but man, are they mighty! Now I have to decide what to do with these puppies. I'm thinking French Onion Soup. Or maybe the compost pile.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Playing in the Dirt

Oh, poo. Now that I've told you the Obama story, I might as well show you what he did yesterday.

After the big toy soldier battle he had to bury the dead. Little boy fashion, he's digging a shallow grave with a stick (and his hands) to bury them in. The recent ice storm brought down plenty of branches for this grave task. (sorry...couldn't help myself!)

It's a good thing grandma has a nice "new" bathtub! This is the first week where the weather has actually acted like spring and he has been taking advantage of every minute. It's his spring break so we have had him all week long. (Spring break? In grade school???)

While he was busy digging, I baked some cookies. The gooey, double chocolate kind. Of course, he gets to lick the bowl.

I don't know whose luckier - us or him.

Bragging Rights

Last month Barack Obama was campaigning in Des Moines and unless you live in Iowa, you probably didn't get much coverage of this event. If you do live in Iowa, then you saw it continuously talked about for two days on the TV networks. And in that coverage you might have heard about the question a first grader asked the candidate. Ahem..... yep. That was my grandson Quinten!

The fact that his mother (my daughter) would take a 7 year old to a political rally is amazing in and of itself. But when they opened the question period after his speech, Della said Quinten's hand just shot into the air. Since they were sitting towards the back and were pretty much invisible to Obama, a lady sitting behind them got up and went down to his aides to let them know a little boy really wanted to ask Mr. Obama a question. Della said when she saw an aide walk over to them with the microphone, she just about had a cow since she wasn't sure what would come out of Quinten's mouth.

Quinten is pretty sharp. He's known who the President AND Vice President are since he was three. Nothing much gets past his keen observations. When he was younger he and grandpa would watch Face The Nation, Fox News, and the rest of those Sunday morning political shows. It gave him great pleasure to watch grandpa yell at the TV. "Is he an idiot, grandpa?" he would ask when Don's face turned red. Now that he's older, he really doesn't care for that anymore, much preferring Sponge Bob to O'Reilly. (I have to agree with him there.)

So what did Quinten ask Mr. Obama?

"President Obama, when did you know you wanted to be President? Who was your favorite President when you were growing up?"

Yes, he really did call him "President Obama". Does this kid know something we don't?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Orange Geranium

Every year I plant geraniums somewhere in my gardens. I love these plants for their colors and ease of growing. This past summer Millie (of Madsen Greenhouse) had a true orange geranium and I fell in love with its cheery face. So much so, in fact, that I dug it up and brought it inside with the other plants in the fall.

I know that geraniums do very well in pots over the winter because I've seen them in other people's windows. I always felt that they were so cheap and so plentiful during the growing season that there was no need to go to the trouble of digging them up and over-wintering them inside. But this color was so unusual that I just couldn't part with it. To my delight, not only did it thrive, but it just keeps blooming!

My Iowa Garden had a picture of her beautiful peach angel wing begonia and it inspired me to try my hand at photographing my little beauty as well. I think they turned out pretty well. I was worried that the color wouldn't come through, but it did.

Since March 20 (Tuesday) is the first day of Spring, (and since it's snowing right now...) I thought I'd brighten up my morning with some pretty pictures. Enjoy!

Friday, March 16, 2007


It just occurred to me (on my drive home from the grocery store) that most of my ideas for blog entries happen while I'm driving. I can think of the neatest things to talk about. In my mind I have the entire post drafted exactly how I want it to read. But the minute I park the car and enter the house I immediately forget what I wanted to say! Probably because the dogs are barking and jumping because they have to pee, or I have to put the groceries away, or the phone rings and DH wants to know where I put some paper at the office. I'm not complaining, mind you. It would be a barren life without the dogs or the chores or my work. And, of course, without DH to liven up my days. Time enough for that when I'm at the nursing home.

I get why people bad-mouth nursing homes. I really do. Having grown up in one I know that (for most people anyway) it's the last step to the grave and they fear that. I figure you have to die somewhere and, besides, all my friends will be there too. As long as it has an internet connection I'll be happy. I can just picture myself, sitting in my pedchair in my baggy jeans and sweatshirt with my laptop blinking happily back at me. I just hope I have something to say besides how shitty the food is.

You might have noticed that this isn't strictly a "food blog" or a "garden blog" or a "pets/kids blog". It's more of a ME blog! It's about things that affect me in my life today and what's affected me and shaped me in the past. It's me trying to convey a small piece of my life and my memories while I can. It's not only about me, it is also for me. So when I'm sitting there in my chair at the nursing home I can re-read these silly posts and remember and (hopefully) smile.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, I'm only 56. I'm a LONG way from going into a nursing home! It's just something I was thinking about in the car on the way home. See? Told ya.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Taste of Smells

(I started this post a couple of weeks ago, but lost my train of thought. I know - hard to believe, huh. )

DH was fixing himself breakfast the other day and kindly offered to make me some toast while he was doing his own. I told him "No thanks. I like the smell of toast but don't like the taste of it." He looked at me for a moment. "That's an odd thing to say," he said while buttering his toast. Which got me to thinking... (always a bad sign).

I know that smell and taste are closely aligned. Anyone who has had a head cold can attest to that. When we are presented with a new food, we smell it before tasting it. At least I do. For some reason the taste of toast is disappointing to me. It doesn't somehow live up to it's odor.

I was like that with marijuana too. I love the smell of it, but it tastes horrible to me. (Hey! I grew up in the '60s! Don't shake your head at me - everyone has skeletons in their closets.) Every time I tried smoking it I threw up. I figured I must have been allergic to the THC - or something. And I've met other people who have said the same thing.

ANYWAY... the point is... how can something smell yummy but not taste yummy? On the flip side, how can something smell so ungodly foul and yet taste (to aficionados) heavenly? I've always wondered who was the first human brave enough to crack open a durian and actually eat it? (I've read that the orangutans love them too. The first human probably took that as a signal that it wouldn't kill you to eat it. But still... the smell!) be continued... I hope...

(Now that Joe Pastry is posting on taste I think I'll go ahead and post this even in it's uncomplete, half-assed form. Maybe I'll remember what I was going to say.)

Friday, March 09, 2007

Party Shrimp

Ilva from Lucullian Delights and Joanna from Joanna's Food have started a new blog called The Heart of the Matter. If you have followed the link to Joanna's blog you will have read what brought her to this search for heart-healthy recipes. It's a scary possibility many of us "middle-agers" face. Thankfully her husband survived his brush with death and this has given Joanna the incentive to change their life styles.

In an effort to glean heart-healthy recipes Ilva and Joanna have called a one-off event for finger food that is good for you. To that end, I am submitting the following recipe for Party Shrimp. I haven't the foggiest idea where I found this recipe but I've made it a few times (most recently at the Daytona party) and it's always a hit with guests. The nutrition data is for the entire recipe via Nutrition

Party Shrimp
Serves 6-8 as an appetizer

2 lbs. cooked, peeled shrimp
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, chrushed
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Dash of ground red pepper
1 lemon, very thinly sliced (DH and I don't really like the extra lemon in this so I leave it out)
1 med. red onion very thinly sliced
1 (4 oz.) can whole ripe pitted olives, drained
2 tablespoons chopped pimento (I never have this on hand so I leave it out too)

Whisk everything in a medium bowl and toss with the shrimp. Cover and allow to marinate in the refrigerator at least an hour. It is simple to put together and looks pretty in the bowl.

Nutrition Data:
569 Calories; Fat 36g; saturated fat 5g; trans-fats 0g; Cholesterol 429mg; sodium 5913mg; carbs 15g; fibert 3g; sugars 3g; protein 48g.

(Remember, the nutrition data is for the whole recipe. )


Bar Talk (and not the composer)

While discussing the merits of blended whiskeys with Jay the other night (specifically which was "better" - Black Velvet or Lord Calvert), he shared a bit of his memories with us. He said that his father, and men of his generation, preferred Lord Calvert. Not because it was better necessarily, but because the bottle was square and wouldn't roll around the floor of the pickup when it was stashed under the seat.

He recalled riding with his father out to check the crops and stopping at neighboring farms to visit the men in the fields. Of course, manners dictated that the bottle be brought out and a sip or two shared between friends.

Jay said his father always hated stopping by Clarence Yoch's farm because Clarence was a chewer. Long cut in one side and plug in the other. Rollie said that Clarence was a level-headed man because tobacco juice ran down both sides of his mouth. Only a true gentleman would offer Clarence a pull from his whiskey bottle. And Rollie is nothing if not a gentleman.

When Jay was 13 or 14 and working in the field on a hot July day, his father always brought him an ice-cold beer to drink with his sandwich while resting for lunch. Surprisingly, many fathers still do that for their sons today. Probably because their fathers did it for them as well.

Men still ride around with their bottle stashed under their seat. And, yes, it is usually square. Nothing much changes in my little corner of the world. I kinda like it that way.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


While looking through my (scant) collection of cookbooks for a suitable recipe for minute steaks, I came upon this recipe for Old-Fashioned Liver Sausage in (where else?) the Sesquicentennial Cookbook from West Bend. It was submitted by Helen Anliker and it just amazes me what people used to have to do for food. Absolutely nothing was wasted - they would use everything but the "oink".

I have copied it directly as written by Helen. I could not make this up....

(Old-Fashioned Liver Sausage)

Pig hocks
Head meat
Liver (do not boil liver too much or it becomes dry and hard)
Soup bones

Cook until well done, cool and remove from bones. Grind in meat grinder and season with salt and pepper. Other seasonings may be added if desired (minced onion and garlic to suit taste). Add the liquid or broth from meat after it has cooled and fat skimmed off. Put meat in clean, washed jars and process in pressure cooker to 15 pounds for 30 minutes for pints and 60 minutes for quarts (like canned beef). This was canned until freezers became available and now it is frozen in freezer boxes. (They still make this stuff?!)

This recipe was from Helen Anliker's grandparents and parents, Fred and Karoline and Ernst and Ella Metzger. When the winter butchering was done of several hogs and beef, it was a good way to use up all parts of the meat before we had freezers. Fred Metzger was born in Illinois in 1885 and lived north of West Bend in about 1900."

Talk about your "eat local"! Think about that the next time you've got a roll of liver sausage in your shopping cart.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Now that's some crazy icicles!