Category Archives: food

Experimenting with recipes

I made chicken-spinach enchiladas tonight.

I used a vegetarian recipe and…adapted it.

See, I don’t live with vegetarians. The men in my life are very much carnivores, so I knew they would not eat anything without meat. And I thought I remembered them both ordering chicken-spinach or shrimp spinach enchiladas at one time or another, so I decided to add chicken. Alteration #1.

Change #2: the recipe called for cottage cheese. I do not like cottage cheese. Unlike the guy in opposition to Sam I Am, I HAVE tried cottage cheese, and I do not like it. It’s lumpy. I do not like the lumps. So I bought ricotta, since I’m told it’s similar in taste, but it isn’t lumpy.

Also, the recipe was for spinach-broccoli enchiladas. I figured by adding the chicken, I would already have a whole lot of filling to put in my tortillas, so I left out the broccoli. Change #3. I put in more salsa, because it seemed a little dry to me–I’m not sure that was a big enough change to count. I mean, I had all that chicken, so I had a great big bunch of filling, of course it would need more salsa and the recipe did call for it. I just used twice as much (and poured even more over the top.

Then, since we are a gluten-free household–at least for our main dish–I subbed corn tortillas for the flour tortillas the recipe called for. Change #4. Corn tortillas are better for you anyway. For reals. (I like them better in enchiladas, usually.)

So, instead of vegetarian spinach-broccoli-cottage cheese flour tortilla enchiladas, we had spinach-chicken-ricotta corn tortilla enchiladas. Flavored with salsa and cumin, with grated cheddar to make them even cheesier (all that, plus the sauteed onion, was in the recipe). I wasn’t exactly creating a new recipe, just tweaking it to make something my family could and would eat. They were muy delicioso.

I suppose the daughter could use tofu instead of ricotta for the dairy sensitive grandboy? Make him his own dish of enchiladas?

Oh, and I got THREE pages written today. Go me!

I DID take pictures

Yes, I really did take pictures. When I was in Washington, I went to the National Zoo, and took a picture of the panda. See? It was sleeping, but the camera did a really good job of zooming in on it. :)

I have other pictures, but I think if I insert them without taking up some of the space with text before I put the next picture in, they will try to overlap or something. So I shall blather on about nothing–or whatever I can think of–until I can put up another picture.

I am now on my hiatus from the dayjob to work on the book. Am I writing? Well, not RIGHT this second. I’m putting stuff in the blog. But I did work on it this morning. I got all my cover pictures up at the website. I’m not sure when I’ll be posting my excerpt–probably in October–but that’s not too far off. And I always post it to the newsletter folks first, so you know, if you want to read the excerpt, make sure you’re signed up for the newsletter.

Now for picture #2. My older son and his boys were here when I got home from D.C. and stayed for a week. They went out in the gulf to fish, and caught angelfish. I think I told you, but here’s the proof–the Big Guy with his angelfish. They’re striped when you eat them too, and they’re darn good eating.

The guys have been doing a lot of fishing lately. Earlier–at spring break, I think–they went out on a long boat trip and caught a bunch of vermilion snapper. The fella caught a HUGE red snapper, but had to throw it back because it was too big. Or maybe too small. I don’t remember. I do remember he had to throw it back. but not after he got a picture of it!

So there. I have shared pictures of the guys and their fish. (The oldest grandboy has a few speech issues–he has trouble with soft consonants, so “sh” tends to come out as “tch” and “f” tends to come out as a “p” or “b”. So he was in WalMart with his dad one day, in the pet section, and asked Dad to buy him a fish–except it came out with a ‘b’ at the front and a ‘tch’ at the end…)

Enough about fishing, and enough about the guys, right? You want to see a picture of ME, right? Even though they’re prettier than me…

So–I made this picture big, because it’s a pretty impressive fish–if you’re the type to be impressed by fish, which means I need to fill up more space. I also need to put my travel receipts into the accounting program. 😛 But it needs to be done. I have this bad tendency to save them up for 3 or 4 months and then do them all at once, digging them out from the wire basket on my desk, or the depths of the side pocket on my purse… I should do them right away, I know, but…

And I did have one last picture I wanted to share with you. I don’t look so hot in it, but my friend Rosemary is the star of the picture, because look at the pretty statue she’s holding. Yes, Rosemary Clement-Moore won the RITA award for Best Young Adult Novel at the RWA National Conference awards ceremony. She even let me rub RITA’s head for luck. I think she hand-carried her home to Dallas, for fear her feather pen would break off.

I have more pictures, and now that I am home for a while, I’ll try to get some of them posted with the blog, instead of a huge bunch with no art at all, then one blog with a bunch of pictures. I’ll space them out. I hope. If I remember to do it. You know how my memory is…

Today’s count

Down to 586 pages at 9:04 p.m. CST.

Had Shrimp & Stuff dinners out and took time to watch Jumpers with the boy. Back at work. It’s going to be do-able!

Edited to add: 11:39 p.m. Reached the end. I’m at 581 pages.

The last hundred pages was a lot tighter. It gets that way.

I have two scenes I want to thin out considerably–they’re repetitious, padded, and boring. I’ll do that tomorrow. Then–maybe–do one more read through and ship this puppy off.

In the Water!

I finally got in the water for the first time this year, and it was as wonderful as I thought it would be. I really like the Gulf. I like the warmth. I like the mild waves. I like floating and, well, I just like it. I wanted to go out this weekend, but you know, there are rules about swimming.

I believe in the Buddy system. You just do not go swimming–especially in the Gulf of Mexico, off the Texas coast–without a buddy. Yes, there is a lifeguard, but you need somebody there With you, paying attention To you, who will notice when you’re not where they thought you were. So, I had informed the fella I wanted to go swimming. But he wasn’t feeling well. (He’s been dealing with allergies and bronchitis all week.) I was hoping I could get him to at least come down to the beach with me to sit on the sand and be my swim buddy while not swimming. But the boy got off work early. He came home at 6 p.m., instead of the 11 p.m. hour we were expecting him. And I got him to come with me.

We also took the dog, because Dolly likes to swim too. We walked over. I still think that’s total coolness, that I can WALK to the beach to swim. We had to take turns going out to floating depth, because dogs are short and one of us needed to stay with her in the shallows. I was walking back to our stuff to put the boy’s glasses on his shoe when he was out past the breakers, and Dolly slipped her collar. She didn’t mean to–she just wanted to go sniff something else–but she came back and let me put the collar back on her. There was a little Yorkie yapdog barking like crazy at her, and she wanted to go over and say hello, and we were mean and wouldn’t let her, because the Yorkie was behaving so aggressively, it would get itself eaten. And then people would be mad.

I had a wonderful time in the water. I went out twice to float–just laid back and let the water rock me. Got caught once when it broke over my head, but I didn’t have to touch bottom. Just spit out the water and straightened out again. Oh, and I was body-surfing in, and got stuck in water just a tad too shallow. See, it’s kind of a production for me to stand up when I’m on the floor, or the ocean bottom (those bad knees again)…and the water kept knocking me over before I could get up. It got rather comical, before the next breaker sort of pushed me up to my feet… The second time, I started walking a little sooner.

Then we had dinner and all of us went out to see the new Indiana Jones movie. I enjoyed it, though the fantasy elements had me rolling my eyes a little. Just once. It was fun.

Father’s Day, the boy offered to take his dad out to dinner at the restaurant where he works, but since the fella will be having lunch there three times this week, he said “anywhere but there,” even if it is one of the nicest places in town. (Darn.) So we went to the Chinese buffet, because the Japanese place is closed for lunch. And we took naps and I had a really good Father’s Day. Not so sure about the father in the family… 😉

This will be a very, very busy week, with stuff going on just about every evening. No, not just about. Every. Single. Evening. And to get everything done, it cuts into my morning writing time. I am going to work like mad to try to get at Least 2 pages done every day–and I’m afraid that will be a tough job. Still, I did get my 2 pages for today, between sticking a chicken in the crock pot for supper, doing laundry, cleaning up for group meeting at our house tonight (still have to buy ice cream on the way home…), and… I’m sure there was something else I was doing this morning. Oh yes! cleaning the boy’s bathroom, because he didn’t do it. And we’re having people over tonight. (The ice cream is to make root beer floats.) 2 pages. Basically, I finished up a “confrontation” scene. I had ideas on where to take it next, but had to write them in the margin, because I was just out of time.

(Had to go to the bank, the post office (My bookrak books came in, Yay!), and to Comcast to take back the old converter box and get a new one, before work. Fortunately the Comcast office is right next door to the newspaper office, literally.)

Who knows when I will get to go back into the water… I’ve got a “roundtable critique” thing in Fort Worth this weekend, ApolloCon next weekend and… well, there’s bound to be something else going on, but darned if I know what it is. At least it doesn’t take long to get to the beach… :)

Sandcastles and such

We had houseguests this weekend. The in-laws finally made it down to the island and we had a great time. I keep telling people we love having people come and visit and we want all the brothers and sisters and cousins and nieces and nephews to come–and nobody believes me. But we do. We don’t have a lot of time available for them to come–but we do want them to do it.

Anyway, the fella’s folks got in Thursday afternoon–the day the boy started his first shift at work. He’s waiting tables at one of the nice restaurants on the seawall–it was that or construction work, and he was in favor of the place with air conditioning. He was still at home when they arrived, so it worked out well. Friday, I went in to work in the a.m. while the others got a tour of town and hit the fish market, so we had a shrimp boil for supper.

Our family–both sides–is all about shrimp. Even those store-bought, previously frozen limp-shrimp rings will be inhaled in ten minutes flat (depending on how many cousins are inhaling). And if one of the little cousins proclaims a dislike for shrimp, the standard answer is “Good! More for us.” (One of my grandboys doesn’t like shrimp. His little brother has loved them since he started eating real food. But then he’s like “Mikey.” He will eat anything he can chew. The daughter’s boy has recently decided he will eat shrimps too. Alas, fewer for us. And time spent peeling them for the little guys that can’t be spent peeling our own.)

But, much as we enjoy those grocery-store variety, they pale–absolutely fade away–in comparison to shrimp fresh off the boat, bought at the fish market the same morning they are boiled, chilled and eaten. It’s been a while since we hit the market, and it reminded me that we need to do it more often. (Especially since the fella de-headed the shrimps that came with their heads on and I didn’t have to do it. I hate getting stabbed by shrimp spines.) We don’t need a special occasion. Just shrimp. Oh MY, those babies were yummy.

Mostly, that’s what we did for the weekend. We ate. We also rode the ferry over to Bolivar Peninsula and back, and went out to look at the sandcastles. There’s an annual sandcastle building contest sponsored by an architectural association with all sorts of categories, plus “Best of Show.” The castle that won first place was a literal castle. With ARCHES.

I have no idea how they built those arches. I don’t think they can use any building material other than sand and water, so the arches totally impressed me–and the judges too, obviously. (I’ll get a picture from the fella as soon as I can.)

We also went to dine at the boy’s workplace and I got to try the famous pecan pie. It was almost more a pecan cake, because the filling had flour in it, but it was yummy. I ate way too much, but I’m not sorry. Except that it will take several more power walks (if my walking had any power) to work it off. Sigh.

I got no writing done last Friday. None yesterday, and today I eked out a whole two pages. But it’s better than nothing I guess. (sigh)

So what cool thing did y’all do over the weekend? Or what yummy thing did you get to eat? (I do talk about food a lot here, don’t I? What does this tell you about me???)(I know.)

Thirty Two Years

That’s how long the fella and I have been married. I have trouble remembering the exact number from time to time, actually–that’s what age does to one, after all–and then I have to Do Math to calculate it. But that’s the number. 32.

We delayed celebrating on our actual anniversary, Thursday, and went to church band practice instead. New songs every week can be a lot to learn. Friday, there was a faculty awards banquet the fella had to go to, and of course, I dressed up and went along. Stayed after and had a giant margarita while chatting with various faculty and spouses. And then, Saturday, we made reservations at one of the best restaurants on the island. I’d been wanting to go there for a while, so at last, we did. They do seafood with a Central American flair…and yes, you know I’m going to share our menu with you.

I like calamari, at least the fried appetizer kind. I even like the ones that have all their little tentacles. I have never had calamari flavored like this, though. It was delicious, fried up like those other sorts, but dressed with sweet banana peppers and caramelized onions and red bell peppers…pretty sure they were cooked in olive oil, and then all mixed up together in a sweet/hot/crunchy/calamari-tasting deliciousness. Oh, and they also serve–like you get tostadas with salsa at a good Mexican restaurant–this place serves plaintain chips with salsa and a green sauce–I think they called it chimichurri. The salsa was milder, with other flavors than in a Mexican salsa casera. Anyway, very good.

We had what one of the other waiters described as a signature dish of the restaurant. Red snapper with a plaintain crust served with raspberry chipotle sauce and Parmesan scalloped potatoes. The plaintains weren’t sweet and only faintly banana-y. Nice and crunchy, and wonderful with the sweet-hot of the sauce. Not very hot, just … right. And then we succumbed to dessert. I had a pecan ball, which is a giant scoop of ice cream coated in pecans (I thought it would be a little smaller) drizzled with butterscotch. They didn’t…quite…have to bring out the wheelbarrow to roll us out of the restaurant. It is really a treat to live where there are so many wonderful places to eat. We still haven’t made our way through all of them…

And then we went home to watch Charlie Wilson’s War, and enjoyed lying around like overfed slugs to watch it. And that was our anniversary celebration.

Oh. And okay, let’s just confess my native dorkiness here. I dropped, dribbled and/or dripped every single course on myself, beginning with a banana pepper slice, continuing through a piece of Caesar salad dressing-coated Romaine, to a droplet of chipotle sauce and ending with a major dribble of ice cream and butterscotch, right down the front of my red blouse. Sigh. Can’t say I didn’t enjoy my food…and I really tried hard not to wear it too…but, well, somehow these things always seem to happen to me. It has become a family joke. Years and years ago. Sigh.

Beach Report: I am now a seagull voyeur. I caught a pair of seagulls Doing It, and did not look away and give them privacy. I figured if they were going to Do It right there on the public beach with a dozen other seagulls watching, they probably got off on exhibitionism.

The male was standing on top of the female, who looked rather long-suffering, squawking like a little boy doing sound-effects for a slow machine gun, sort of an ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah. In seagull voice, of course. And in perfect rhythm, every dozen ah-ahs or so, the female would give off a little high-pitched squeal while he wriggled his butt against hers. The squeal was the only thing that convinced me she wasn’t totally bored by the whole affaire.

Now I have to wonder where the seagulls nest. Probably over in the marshes on the bay side of the island. It’s sure not safe to build a nest on the beach with all the beachgoers exploring.

And now I must add seagull porn to my oeuvre. Ah well. This, I think adds either to my geekiness or my nerdyness quotient. Nerdyness, I think. Geeks tend to be monomaniacs. Nerds want to know everything about everything, and since birds are not my only fascination… Yep. I’m a nerd.

The Spring Crud

Friends all over the states are coming down with the crud. (Crud sounds like a much more realistic name than something mellifluous-ish like flu…) And yes, I’ve got it too. I came down with a cold just before I started the new job, which turned into bronchitis (colds/flu almost always does with me). I was pretty much over it by the official first day. Then I went to Waco to visit friends and talk writing–and some kind of pollen or something blew in. My friend had an asthma attack, and my allergies flared up. And since I was barely over the bronchitis, it instantly turned back into the same crud.

I’ve been to the doctor, have new different meds, but dang, I think I may cough up a lung here. My stomach muscles are getting sore. I pretty much always have a deep cough, and it sounds Terrible. The girl at the next desk in the newsroom is a bit of a hypochondriac and my cough has made her nervous all week, because she’s getting married this weekend. I’m told I’m not contagious, though.

So, yeah. Pretty much I’m whining online. Poor pitiful me. Even stayed home from music practice tonight because I can’t take a deep breath without coughing.

Oh, and the fella came home from his trip to D.C. with the crud. He’s going to the doctor in the a.m. Last night, we had chicken and rice–with Ginormous chicken breasts–too big to eat in one sitting. So for the leftovers, we each got individual zipper bags for our piece of chicken and I wrote our names in Sharpie on the outside so we don’t exchange germs. Of course, we sleep in the same bed, so I don’t know how much good it will do, but…we’re trying. He actually tried to accuse me of giving him my crud over the phone. He’s been out of town over a week, so we haven’t seen each other to share germs, but you know guys. If they can possibly blame somebody else, they’re going to try. :)

Oh well. It really is getting better. I just wish it would get better faster. I’m pretty sure you can’t build up your abs by coughing.

Hope y’all have had a great Valentine’s Day. Except for the coughing, mine’s been pretty good. But I’ll tell y’all about that later.

What do you think about COLD IRON as a book title?

Almost Christmas

And my house is FULL!

I have been complained at by the daughter that my blog is old. Never mind that they are HERE at my house and Know what I’m doing. My blog is old.

And now You know what I’m doing too. I have the daughter and s-i-l and their boy, and went to my parents so I could pick up the other two grandboys in Austin on their way back home from the Alamo. That was a fast trip and a long drive there and back, but we made it. Now, when their daddy (our older son) gets here at about 2 a.m., everyone will be here and the mass celebration can begin.

We are going to Make tamales for Christmas eve this year. I’m hoping we can do that tomorrow so we aren’t waiting for them to steam on Monday so we can eat them. Usually, I just buy them by the dozen from Rosa’s or Taco Cabana or somewhere, but with all these people here as slave labor we can set up an assembly line–AND the stores around here sell the masa already mixed up and ready to go, rather than the dry stuff you have to mix and cook yourself. Can’t get the prepared polenta, (which is weird to me because there are a LOT of Italians on the island) but you can get the tamale masa. Oh well. Bought the corn husks and everything.

So, it’s going to be a total madhouse for the next few days, and a regular madhouse till January 1, when the folks from the cold northland have to go back home and we have to drive to the other airport a couple of hours away to take them.

Shopping is shopped for–except maybe for a few last minute things, or food stuff–hmm. Not sure I have jalapenos for the carne guisada to go with the tamales…Have to check on that.

It’s so nice to have the (youngest) boy’s girlfriend visiting…she’s got a lot more energy with the little guys and isn’t burnt out on playing with them. We are grateful. She even organizes games. It’s raining today, so while it’s warm enough, it’s too wet to play outside. Oh well.

If I don’t get back before then (and it’s looking really doubtful at this point), y’all have a Merry Christmas and lots to eat of all the things that taste like Christmas to you. :)

New Orleans Rises

Actually, New Orleans is still about the same height it always was from everything I remember, but downtown and the French Quarter never did flood, even during the worst of Katrina. Anyway, just got back from a few days there where I had a great time, but pretty much walked my legs right off. Yep, that’s right, I’m walking around on nubs now.

They had Katrina tours you could take, right from the hotel where we stayed, downtown, across the street from Harrah’s. I didn’t take one because I sorta felt like it was battening on somebody else’s misery. Maybe it’s not, but I felt that way. And after the four hours of walking we did on Saturday, I was afraid any tour might involve more of that, and I wanted to know exactly how much walking I was going to do and where I was going.

The St. Charles Street streetcar is back in operation, but it only goes out to Napoleon Street, about half as far as its normal route. I didn’t think the Garden District was under water, which is mostly past Napoleon, but maybe it did get wet. The route out to Napoleon Street had just recently reopened, but Copeland’s, a restaurant on that corner we really liked, was all boarded up and didn’t look like anybody had any intentions of re-opening it. We did ride the streetcar, if you couldn’t tell. Didn’t take my camera out that day, though, and when I did, the streetcars were rather elusive.

The hotel where we stayed was maybe half a mile from the French Quarter. It took us about ten minutes to walk down to the Cafe du Monde on Sunday morning. There was a line waiting to get in at the Cafe du Monde, however, and no line at the little Cafe Beignet across the street, so we–the fella, me and one of his co-workers–crossed the street and had our beignets and coffee there. Except I was the only one who had beignets (the fella being allergic to wheat), and I had milk with mine. The pregnant lady had decaf caffe latte, and the fella had ham and eggs. Which you can’t get at Cafe du Monde, so really, the alternate was a better choice for us.

I had beignets every morning we were in New Orleans. Frankly, I pigged out the whole time we were there, though pigging out on fish isn’t quite as piggy as pigging out on…well, pigs. Or cows. The hotel backed up to the riverfront mall, and there was a little Cafe du Monde branch office on the first floor of the mall, that opened up an hour before the rest of the mall did. So Monday and Tuesday, I walked over to the mall and had my beignets there. Sat outside and watched the river. (That was the view–the cruise ship wasn’t always there leaving port, but that’s the bridge over to Algiers…)

The rest of this might as well be a list of what I ate too. Saturday night, we took the college folks to dinner at Carmelo’s–corner of Toulouse and Decatur, a couple of blocks from Jackson Square. Italian-style fish. The fella and I shared some calamari (the kind with squiggles included), then had redfish with a fresh tomato-caper sauce, and I had my very first cannelloni, believe it or not. Deelish.

Sunday night, we had dinner with an old friend from the fella’s doctoral class who’s a bigwig in Kentucky now. Went to Ralph and Kakoo’s on Toulouse Street, and–after some fried crawdad tails (aka Cajun popcorn) (our friend got his first taste of crawfish) I dined upon the Shrimp Henry, which the Chef Henry apparently made up that night. It was grilled shrimp stuffed with cheesy spinach stuffing over angel hair pasta with Rockefeller sauce on top. Very yummy.

Then Monday night, we went out with the college folks again, to a place called Tommy’s in the warehouse district. On Tchoupitoulas (I may have left a few vowels out of that streetname, or moved them around in the wrong places, but that looks really close…) Street. Tommy’s had Italian overtones, but wasn’t too, too Italian. At Tommy’s, I had a Caesar salad, then had Veal Sorrentina, with eggplant and cheese and Marsala mushroom sauce on top. (I can get fish & shrimp here, but veal is harder to come by.) It came with these really neat matchstick sweet potatoes cooked almost dry–really good, and different. Then the pregnant lady and I each had creme brulee and the other lady in the group had strawberries with homemade ice cream.

This doesn’t count the fudge I bought that I snacked on way too much. They had it in New Orleans praline flavor, and it tastes JUST like pralines. I told the fella that the chocolate fudge was for me and the praline was for him…but I’m eating too much of the praline flavor too. There are a couple of candy shops downtown here…good thing I don’t go downtown too often, huh?

I did finish my Christmas shopping…”best of the best” Louisiana cookbooks and specialty measuring spoons. And I wandered the French Quarter and took lots of pictures at the perfect time of day to get some good shadows and shots.

I also got a little writing done. Not much, but a few pages. Still working on the SF story, though I need to switch to the WWII story long enough to get my pages done for the month. Don’t know if the brain is working that way though. I’m writing stuff, but may have to slash the whole of it. Oh well.

Have one more week before the daughter, s-i-l and grandboy come for the holidays. She’s supposed to be bringing the tamale recipe. Need to buy a pork roast to cook for the filling…or maybe brisket. Brisket makes good tamales too… but you GOT to have tamales for Christmas Eve, or it’s just not Christmas…

Cold front supposed to be moving in today. It’s been hot. Hot in New Orleans (okay, it was mostly just humid, but that made ME hot) and hot at home. I’m ready for that cold front to get here.

Wonderful Words

So, I was in the kitchen this morning, putting together a pot of carne guisada to have for Sunday dinner, and the jalapeno I was cutting up for it seemed to be particularly seedy. This is an important observation when it comes to jalapenos, because the vast majority of their heat happens to be in their seeds.

Then it occurred to me to wonder where, when and why the word seedy came to mean disreputable, disheveled and possibly dishonest. A pepper having many seeds–or any other fruit with lots of seeds–didn’t seem to be the proper source.

Then I remembered when I had a vegetable garden years ago, and how if I wasn’t careful, (especially in the heat of a Central Texas spring) the lettuce and carrots would “go to seed.”

They would send out these lanky, weedy-looking seed shoots, the rest of the plant would take on a bedraggled, shop-worn (or maybe sun-and-heat-worn) appearance, and the leaves (for lettuce) or roots (for carrots) would become bitter. I never did get a decent carrot out of that garden. And I had to step lively–and plant the lettuce practically in January–to get some nice salad greens.

Seedy, meaning bedraggled and disreputable, has been around long enough that it likely came from original English-from-England, but lettuce goes to seed there too. (Just not as fast.) That has to be the original source of the meaning. Aren’t words interesting?

Well, they are to me, anyway.

Haven’t been walking at the beach lately. The fella went fishing with a friend on one of the jetties yesterday, though, and they each caught a fish. The fish swam up into the rocks, and they had to climb down a little to pull them out, but they caught them. We went over to Mike’s house to eat them, because he volunteered to cook them up, and they were really, really good. (One of the fishes was big enough for two.) I do like fresh fish.