Monday, June 29, 2015

Blueberry Shakes!

OK, some people call these "smoothies".  But, to me, that's not a word.  If you've been around here for a while, you know that I'm weird about words and things like that.  So, just roll with me, these are blueberry shakes, OK?
I found this recipe in French Women Don't Get Fat.  I've been making a batch a day for the last 10 days or so, and both my dearly beloved and I have lost 3 pounds.  No other changes, just this blueberry shake for breakfast instead of whatever else we might have had.


12 ounces frozen blueberries (about 2-1/2 cups)
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 cups nonfat milk
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp honey
2-3 tbsp stevia, optional

This is not exactly how the recipe was written, but this is how I make it.  Put the blueberries in the blender 20 to 30 minutes before you want your shake.  When you're ready, add the remaining ingredients in the order given.  Pulse to loosen the blueberries, then blend on low for 30 to 45 seconds.  Makes 2 very large shakes.
(When you look at this picture, remember: blurry is beautiful.)

Note that the book says this will serve 4.  But there are only about 400 calories in the entire blender, so I'll have half of that.  It's less caloric than almost any breakfast - cereal with milk, eggs and toast, get the picture.  And it will carry me for 4 or 5 hours without a problem.  The original recipe called for lemon juice and cardamom; I deleted those and added almond extract, which I love.  I added the stevia because my dearly beloved didn't think it sweet enough with just the honey - remember, this is the man who says he doesn't like sweets!  Now, if his shake doesn't arrive within 20 minutes of his being up, he starts to complain: "I'm starving!"

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Cookbook Wednesday: French Women, Part Deux

When Jeffrey found last week's cookbook for me, he also found its sequel, French Women for all Seasons.
 This one is based on seasonal foods.  There is the conversational part at the beginning, 40 pages or so, which caused me to question whether this was a cookbook or a novel,
 But there are recipes.  Green pellets, anyone? (Did I tell you that one of my daughter's specifications for the caterer at her wedding was that there are to be no peas in any form at the reception?)
 Recipes are arranged by seasonal availability, and include salads, soups and main dishes.

 There are also a week's worth of menu suggestions for each season.  I like that.

 Lots and lots and more lots of verbiage about wine. Yawn. I know some folks love wine, beer and spirits, but my sweet tooth just says, "Why bother?"
 At last!  Here's my section!
 This is Cookbook Wednesday, which I'm hosting while Louise is on sabbatical until later this summer!
Let me know if you want to link up!  Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Edited to Add: 

Grannie's Pantries: Omelettes Take Manhattan!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Garden Tuesday: Trimming

And by trimming, I don't mean anything I personally am doing.  No.  We hire a landscaper who sends his crew.
 And, at the same time, our lawn guy called to ask if we wanted some rhododendrons that one of his other customers had requested he dig up and get rid of.  Um, yeah.  H*ll, yeah.
 We don't usually drive on the flagstones out front.  But we made an exception this time....
 for the scissors lift.

Another look at one of the free rhododendrons, and, to its right, a massive peony (sorry to stoke your envy, Karin).

 Lots of trimming, and one guy who just ran around with the trash can, picking up the clippings.
So that's Garden Tuesday in my little corner of the world.  Getting ready to host a wedding, including a "pre-ceremony cocktail hour", is harder than one might imagine.  At least I don't have to do the planning!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Another month, another Birthday...

...but not mine.

My nurse daughter recently got a new job in Pittsburgh, and she was home last weekend to celebrate her birthday with some of her brothers.
 Tank came, too.  He didn't have any birthday cake.  He had puppy treats.
 I don't know why she always makes faces in pictures.

She brought her boyfriend along.  He's not as tall as my boys, so I let (made) him stand next to me.  That way I don't look quite as short, right?
Happy Thorsday, everyone.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Cookbook Wednesday: French Women Don't Get Fat

Jeff found this book for me somewhere, and thought I'd enjoy it because I like French cooking.  He also made a perfectly adorable comment about how his mother must be French, because she doesn't get fat. (He'd tell you this is why he's the favorite son.)

Is it a real book?

 Or is it a cookbook?
 Or maybe some of both.
 Jeff was right about one thing: some of these recipes are worth another look.

 And, really, is there anyone who couldn't stand to lose a couple of pounds before her first daughter's wedding?  Especially when it's delicious? (I'm not so big on the exercise involved....)
 This is Cookbook Wednesday, a tradition I'm carrying on for Louise, who is on hiatus.  Let me know if you want to link up!
Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Edited to add:

Grannie's Pantries: Casual Country Cookbook (you have to see her comments on this one)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Garden Tuesday: Peonies

These pictures are from the latter part of last week.  Our peonies have been blooming for a week or two, and I finally got out to get a picture before the rain ripped the flowers to shreds.

And I brought a couple in to enjoy.

Happy Garden Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Happy Magna Carta Day!

The Magna Carta as it was written is not terribly relevant today.  But it is the first document which gives any rights to anyone other than the monarch.  Extrapolation from that document is what gave rise to our Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution.  Indeed, the first monument to the signing of the Magna Carta was erected at Runnymeade almost 750 years later, in 1957, by the AMERICAN Bar Association.

So, Happy 800th Birthday, Magna Carta, the precursor to the idea that we all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Tank agrees.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Cookbook Wednesday: The Combination Range Guide

The house we live in now is actually the second one built in 1928 which we have renovated; we only lived in the first one for 3 years.  I think that kitchen might have been nicer, but the breakfast room here is definitely better - a real necessity when your "breakfast room" is actually "family dining" and furnished with an entire Bassett Furniture dining room suite, including 12 chairs.  But I digress...

We had 2 stoves in that house as well.  One was a standard GE range; the other, which looked identical, was a Combination Range - with a built in microwave.  Now, this was 1983, and the microwave, while not unheard of, was not a thing everyone had.  So my dearly beloved, who ordered all of the appliances for this house, selected this range for me.  And, because microwaves were a novelty, and one built right into your regular oven was unlike anything else, it came with its own real live cookbook: The Combination Range Guide and Cookbook!

 The first unusual thing about this is that it is hardcovered.  Of course I didn't leave it behind with the house!  And when have you ever seen a real, meant-to-stand-the-test-of-time book that came with any appliance?
 Just look how happy this modern 1980 lady is with her cornbread from her combination range!
 They tell you all about how to use a microwave, since it wasn't just an everyday thing then.  (I did use it to reheat my tea once or twice, but it was sooooo slow! And so weird to just put a cup in the middle of your oven!)
 How to cook your meats....
 And plenty of recipes, too.
 The gold bars were for your microwave settings, and the grey bars indicated the oven temperature.  It was actually pretty comprehensive.

 Now that I'm thinking about it, I sort of wish that type of oven were available today.  (Of course, I also wish for my very first stove, which had a regular oven, and then another oven over the stove, taking up some of the cabinet space, so it was in total the height of the refrigerator.  Another brilliant appliance choice by my dearly beloved; you'd almost think the man had some notion of how to cook.)

This is Cookbook Wednesday, which I'm hosting while the lovely Louise is on hiatus.  Leave a message if you want me to link you up!
Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Monday Book Review

The past couple of weeks have been a circus.  A dishwasher leak (for the third time in 6 months), a dead well pump (at 9PM on a Saturday, when they came out, diagnosed and went away, only to return at 5AM Sunday and actually fix it)(my well company is wonderful), Mark's last week of school, and I don't remember what else.  So, while I finished this book a couple of weeks ago, I've been remiss in my review.

by Sarah McCoy

This book is two parallel stories.  One is the story of Eden, married for several years and a little unbalanced following a couple of years of failed fertility treatments.  She and her husband have just bought a historic house in West Virginia, and he brings her home a dog to keep her company.  Eden is less than amused, so her husband hires the 11 year old girl next door to walk, feed and care for the dog.  Eden becomes attached to the child and the dog, begins to acclimate herself to her new town (a far cry from her busy life as an executive in the city before the move), and starts to learn to cook by cooking for the dog from a holistic dog cookbook which the little girl has brought her.

The other is the story of Sarah Brown, daughter of the abolitionist John Brown.  Her story opens just before he leads the ill fated Harpers Ferry raid, and continues for several years, involving another family in West Virginia.  It isn't revealing too much of the story to say that Sarah is a gifted artist, whose talents are recognized by her father when, shortly before the raid, she happens upon her father trying to direct a slave family on the Underground Railroad to their next stop, and draws them a pictorial map, which looks like a picture, to guide them.  Her map proves so successful that soon she's drawing them for all of the escapees, and continues even after her father is hanged.

The two stories are told in alternating chapters, and there is a confluence at the end of the book - not only the confluence I expected, but another one as well.  Sarah's story is sad, but Eden's story ends differently than I might have thought.  This was excellent historical fiction, using real people and events woven into a possible story, and overlaid with today.  5/5

Note: I received this book free from Blogging for Books.  All opinions are my own.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Cookbook Wednesday: Wedding Cakes

Cookbook Wednesday is late today; hubby had a routine cardiologist visit and some testing eat up the least it's all still good.  I'll take the semi annual annoyance any day of the week.

Our daughter was here this weekend, talking to a landscaper and employing her fiance in some yard cleanup in preparation for the wedding in October.  Of course, there's a bridal shower to come, ostensibly planned by her sisters, with a little help from me.  As long as I don't have to entertain people, I can do planning.

Since I was in a planning frame of mind, I thought I'd take a peek at my mother in law's Wilton Wedding Cake cookbook.  (No, I'm not making the wedding cake; that will be ice cream cake made by the matriarch at the local dairy/ice cream store, and she is very excited about it).

Just look at that happy 1970s bride and groom!

 Daisies...very 1970s...
 A Christmas wedding cake!  Replace the bride & groom ornament on the top, and really decorate up your Christmas party...
 This is one elaborate cake.  I won't be trying it soon.
 Now there are some 1970s colors.  Too loud for me.
 A Bride's White Cake AND a Groom's Cake?  That's a lot of work.
 Special cakes for the 40th and 25th anniversaries...
 And a whole section on planning pre-wedding events, including decorations and sweets.  (The future groom's mother is in charge of the shower cake, but I read this section anyway).
 This is Cookbook Wednesday, which I'm hosting while Louise is on hiatus!  Let me know if you want to be linked up!
Happy Wednesday, everyone!