Saturday, March 17, 2012


I couldn't be more proud of Dwight Howard than if he were my own son.  Loyalty does count.  He is, as my own mother would say, "a good boy."  Besides, it's not like he isn't going to be earning $19.5 million this coming season.

That was really the only good news over the past few weeks.  The world continues to go to hell in a minivan.  War, politics, massacres.  I sideswiped my own car in my own office garage. I made an appointment with my dentist because I cannot put if off any longer.  I realized that the pain in my left big toe is from podagra, also known as gout.  I oversalted my fried chicken (no one complained except me, but that's not the point.)  The price of gasoline continues on the upward path towards prohibitive.  March is almost over and nobody scheduled our office's monthly potluck.  All those lovely Irish-themed recipes I tested, for naught.  Well maybe not naught.  Cory and Rob had a grand time tasting them for me.

As always, when life becomes a little unpleasant, I start chopping onions.  I was determined to perfect a maque choux without tomatoes.  Why, you may ask?  Because tomatoes are over used.  I tried the maque choux last week, and found the flavor delightful until I added the tomatoes.  For some reason, the taste went flat after that.  Feh, flat.  Tried it again this week after tweeking a few ingredients, and I like the result, which is sort of a cross between maque choux and succotash.

To go with it, I prepared shrimp scampi - except instead of using olive oil with the butter, I used bacon fat.  Brined the shrimp first, and they stayed succulent and sweet.  I think I'm starting to get this cooking thing.

I got very little knitting done, darn it.

I spent a lot of time with my babies, and that was nice.

Cats and Dogs, living together ...

Earlier in the week, I took a little time for myself, and armed with a loaf of bread, headed down to the lake (Lake Tohopekaliga), and walked around a bit, feeding the ducks.  I discovered that Muscovy ducks can be quite aggressive when they realize that an unfeathered biped is carrying a bag of bread.  So can seagulls and other flying critters, and there was a moment there, I admit, when I felt like an extra in an Alfred Hitchcock movie.  But the lake is beautiful, the weather was crisp and clear and sunny, and I came away feeling better than when I had arrived.

Recipes to follow ... not the duck!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Daydream Believer

Rest in peace, Davy Jones. 

Hey, has anyone else noticed that his passing did not garner the huge hoo-rah that Whitney Houston's did?  Is it because he wasn't a drug addict?  (Snarky of me, I admit, but still ...)

I'm still ranting a bit about getting our priorities straight.  The tornado victims in Indiana are important.  Rush Limbaugh is not.  We should have all resolved to ignore him a long time ago.  His numbers would have tanked, revenues would have dropped, his show would have been cancelled and he would not have been around to publicly humiliate a young women by calling her a slut and a prostitute.  The growing tension between Iran and Israel is important. (I know several young men in uniform and I would hate to see them deployed to the Middle East if that situation blows up.)  Lindsay Lohan on Saturday Night Live is not.  Why are we so fascinated with famous drug addicts?

The upcoming Presidential election is important.  What makes it hard to take seriously are some of the antics and bloopers put out there by the Republican candidates as they get closer to their primary.

Gas prices are back up in the stratosphere, with premium over the $4.00 mark.  Ah, Keystone, we hardly knew ye.

On a lighter note, I posted the recipe for my Mushroom Risotto with Sherry and Cream on the food blog, so here is the link.  I also have a few other recipes coming down the pike in the next few days.  I told you I kept cooking during my little hiatus from the blog.  Heck, I even wrote some of them down!

And because I don't always cook for the family, a shot of my devastatingly handsome son at Longhorn Steakhouse, eating a porterhouse the size of my head  ;-)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I am as guilty as the next person

Well maybe not as guilty ... I did not obsess over the deaths of Whitney Houston nor Michael Jackson, and I never watch the Oscars ... but I am not immune from following the hype surrounding public figures.  I have been known to scream at the television while the Magic are playing ... or snoozing on the court, as happens far too often these days.  Stan, I love you, but it's time to go and take Otis with you.

See what I mean?  Still, I like to think that I spend much more time paying attention to the important stories out there, about noncelebrities who quietly make a difference, despite never getting a million dollar paycheck, and about true public servants who really are in it to help people.  (That leaves out all politicians, who make no sacrifices to serve the public, the very same public whose taxes are funding those extra special, exclusive lifetime benefits packages.)

Every day people continue to amaze me with their strength, their resolve, and their dignity in facing the worst that life can throw at them.  I think we all need to spend less time oogling (or is it googling) Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, and more time honoring everyday heroes.

Which is why I have added this blog to my blog list found on the right hand side of this page.  It is maintained by my friend and former coworker, Erin Baxter, who is doing an extraordinary job caring for her two children, one of whom was born with partial Trisomy 9.  If you don't know about trisomies - and I knew very little - you should follow her story.  Incidentally, if any of my Orlando peeps were aware that February 7th-14th was proclaimed as Congenital Heart Defect Week by Mayor Buddy Dyer, it was the result of Erin's intervention.  Erin was a Child Protective Investigator for the Department of Children and Families for over four years, and to say she is an incredibly strong child advocate would be an understatement.  This is for you, Erin, and Kaleb, Nolan, and Dennis.  The Johnston family rocks!

Moving over to food ... I am testing some Irish-themed recipes this weekend, in preparation for a little catering event.  Here is how that happened - our office had decided a while back that rather than try to go out to a restaurant to celebrate our birthdays - twelve, to be exact - we would pick one date every month and do a potluck lunch.  Those have been extremely successful, to say the least.  I think it was last month I brought in my version of shepherd's pie, which was so well-liked than one of my co-workers suggested I "cater" the lunches, so that they would fund the ingredients and I would do the cooking.  I really was honored by the suggestion, and while I don't think I would want to do that every month, I told them I would like to try it for our upcoming luncheon.  One of our group had earlier suggested we work each lunch around a theme - a terrific idea in my opinion - so I ran with that, and picked the quintessential March holiday of St. Patrick's Day.  I'm going to throw a little Purim in there as well, but just a little.  Purim is all about hamentaschen, rather than the main dishes, and the hamentaschen recipe I posted last year on the food blog is the bomb.

So there is, as we speak, an Irish soda bread in the bread machine which contains some of my favorite ingredients in the world - raisins and caraway seeds - and I am hoping it is a success so I can bake another one for my office buddies later this month.  I will also be testing an Irish stew, and miniature shepherd's pies in a biscuit crust.  That's not the whole menu by a long shot, as some of my selections are tried-and-true and don't need any testing.  If it all works out, you know where to find the recipes.