Monday, August 30, 2010

Good Eats: The Hotel Ste. Genevieve in Missouri

The family tradition continues…

I spent a couple pre-school years living in Ste. Genevieve, MO where my dad had a job teaching and coaching. One of our family things was to occasionally have Sunday brunch at the Hotel Ste. Genevieve (or The Old Hotel to the locals). Old it is indeed, dating back to 1901 although that is a babe considering the town dates to 1750 and has homes still standing dating to 1792 – amazing since this was a frontier town.

Anyway… the Hotel was a favorite place of mine as a child because they had 1. great fried chicken, 2. all you could eat liver knieffles, and 3. “Shirley Temple” drinks for the kiddos (that would have been ME!).

So on my trip to MO for Little Bird’s birthday it was decided to make a family trip back to The Hotel. That’s my Mom, Little Bird and Sis (Little Bird’s mama).

At The Hotel you order your entrée – there’s about 8 different things to pick from… fried chicken, kettle beef, pork loin to name a few. Then with the meal comes with your salad, plus family style sides (all you can eat) of green beans, sauerkraut, dressing, mashed potatoes and LIVER KNIEFFLES!!! ( )

The above is the kettle beef and liver knieffles.

So Miss Little Bird had her very first liver knieffles at the ripe old age of 1 year and 4 days.

She thought about it for a minute…

And she loved them! That’s my baby! (Sis wouldn’t let her have the Shirley Temple… no sodas allowed yet).

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Movie Review: "Get Low"

Robert Duvall… Bill Murray… Sissy Spacek… Gerald McRainey…

Great cast that gave me hope of a great movie. And so I went.

And indeed the cast was great. Robert Duvall has old coot down pat, with that twinkle of the eye that makes you wonder just how much your chain is being pulled. No one has better comic timing than Bill Murray as that dry humor slides on in. Sissy Spacek and Gerald McRainey are almost always a pleasure to watch and they did not disappoint here.

Shot on location in beautiful Georgia towns and forests. Costumes were spot on.

Everything was in place for a really good movie.

But I left the theater feeling “meh” about it. Not bad… didn’t regret paying the money to see it. But not really good either.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Salud! at Whole Foods: Cheese Making

When I was little one of my favorite places to visit was the Hickory Farms cheese store. No, they weren’t always a kiosk in the middle of the mall at Christmas time. They were a stand-alone store full of different types of cheese – ALL of which you could request a sample of! Dad and Mom would always let me get a couple ¼ pound chunks of cheese as a treat (I was a budding foodie even back then!).

And now one of the fun things about our annual ‘pilgrimage’ to see Himself’s relatives in MN and WI is stopping at as many different cheese factories as possible. Love those cheese curds!

So it’s not a far jump to understand why I was VERY excited to see Salud! offered a cheese making class.

The class was VERY interesting. The varieties we did were Paneer (a cheese from India), cottage, ricotta and mozzarella… plus cultured butter.

It was also very time consuming. Just bringing the milk up to heat could take 20 minutes, and then there was the ‘setting’ time.

Paneer was a LOT like the Ethiopian cheese I enjoy with those meals and very easy to make.

The cottage cheese came to curd very quickly.

I did like this cottage cheese more than any I’ve ever bought. Very different consistency.

Ricotta was much nicer than I’ve found in stores, but kind of complicated.

Mozzarella. Took forever and was a hassle – in my humble opinion. You have to add citric acid and rennet to the heated milk…then let it sit for 2-3 hours.

When it’s done it will be one large curd.

Which has to be cut up, reheated, cut up again and kneaded until it looks like Silly Putty? Then you roll it into balls and from there you can finally eat it.

… I’ll keep buying it at Whole Foods…

The ‘cultured’ butter was good, very good. To me it was like a cross between butter and maybe a sour cream. Yummy.

You beat for a while…

… and then all a sudden it comes together!

We had (from top right) a lasagna (made with mozzarella and ricotta from the recipes but not that we made – time factor),the cottage cheese, and paneer on ginger snaps. We also had a Caprese salad made with our mozzarella and French bread with the butter – that got snapped up so quickly I didn’t get a photo!

(I’m going to give you the cultured butter because the cheese recipes are rather long and technical).

Cultured Butter

1 quart heavy cream
1/3 cup live culture: whole milk yogurt or crème fraiche

Combine ingredients in an earthenware or glass bowl. Open each container and make sure you get all milk solids. Whisk to combine. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature overnight; somewhere in the mid 70*F is perfect. The next day give the bowl a little shake – if the cream mixture has thickened, you are ready to proceed.

Beat cream with a hand held mixer until soft peaks form (it’s going to look a lot like cottage cheese for a while!!). Switch to low speed since once you start to make butter you will also have buttermilk that will spray everywhere – so be careful!

Strain buttermilk into bowl. (You may have a little or a lot). Press butter with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much buttermilk as you can. Rinse butter with cold water and drain. Continue to rinse and drain with cold water until the water runs clear.

Transfer to either a glass or earthenware container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Funky Junk's Sat Nite Special

Friday, August 27, 2010

Salud! at Whole Foods: Shrimp and Grits 'Express Lunch'

One of my favorite dishes at The Pineapple Room at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens in Nashville is their Shrimp and Grits. Fantastic! So when I saw Salud! at Whole Foods was offering a class on making this treat I jumped at the chance to learn.

It was a “Lunch Express” demonstration class – meaning you observe and ask questions but don’t actually cook the recipes. But at the end you are served everything demonstrated for lunch. How cool is that… kind of like sitting at a Chef’s table.

The menu for the day was, of course, Shrimp & Grits, and also Heirloom Tomato Tart and Summer Fruit Cobbler.

Since grits take a while to cook, Merijoy had started them earlier in the morning. (A tip was if your grits get too firm, add cream to them and stir.)

So the first recipe she did was the tomato tart.

She used plum tomatoes and pulled extra moisture out by resting them on paper towels (you don’t want your puff pastry to get soggy).

Didn’t it turn out pretty? It would be perfect to serve at a luncheon.

The grits recipe also had andouille sausage. This is a spicy Cajun sausage, so if you are not familiar with it, be careful when you pick your level of ‘hot’. Even the mild has kick… the poor woman next to me thought she was going to burn up! (Frankly I thought it was fine).

The sausage was browned first, and then the shrimp were quickly cooked in the leftover oil. From there the cream sauce was made and everything tossed back together.

The grits were plated and the shrimp and andouille mixture added on top. Yummy!

And we finished with a nice peach and nectarine cobbler.

(Whole Foods requests I not post the signature dish of the class, so here is the wonderful tomato tart. If you would like to take a class at Whole Foods check to see if they are available in your area at ).

Heirloom Tomato Tart
Unbleached all-purpose flour for work surface
1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted in fridge overnight
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 heirloom plum tomatoes, cored and cut crosswise into ¼ inch thick slices
Kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup fresh basil, cut chiffonade

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425*F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dust work surface with flour and unfold puff pastry onto work surface. Roll out the puff pastry to a 12X15 inch rectangle. From it, cut one 9X15 inch rectangle and three 1X15 inch strips (cutting one of those strips into two 1X7 inch strips). Place the rectangle on the prepared baking sheet and prick all over with a fork. Brush all the pastry strips with the egg wash and sprinkle with Parmesan evenly over shell. Use the strips around the edge of the rectangle to make a “frame”.

Bake 13 to 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350*F, continue to bake until light golden brown and crisp, 13 to 15 minutes longer. Transfer to wire rack; increase oven temperature to 425*F.

Combine garlic, olive oil and pinch each salt and pepper in small bowl; set aside.

While the shell bakes, place tomato slices in a single layer on double layer paper towels and sprinkle evenly with ½ teaspoon salt; let stand 30 minutes. Place second double layer paper towels on top of tomatoes and press firmly to dry tomatoes.

Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over warm (or cool, if made ahead) baked shell. Shingle tomato slices widthwise on top of cheese; brush tomatoes with garlic oil.

Bake until shell is deep golden brown and cheese is melted, 15 to 17 minutes. Cool on wire rack 5 minutes, sprinkle with basil, slide onto cutting board or serving platter, cut into pieces and serve.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What A Difference One Year Makes: Little Bird’s First Birthday

One year ago a little miracle came into my life and I became an aunt.

She had me from the beginning. Who knew that 8 pounds of sweet little smiles could so easily steal a heart?

And she hasn’t given it back yet. I hope she never does.

There’s nothing like watching those big blues eyes light up when you walk into the room.

Then it’s GAME ON as we play until we are both ready for a nice long nap! Auntie Teri sure sleeps well after a visit.

Happy Birthday little precious one.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Friends Don’t Let Friends Top Their Trees!

There’s a plague in the South. Once beautiful trees suddenly lose up to 90% of their branches… leaving only leafless nubs jutting into the air. And the most terrible thing is this is a manmade plague. These trees have been “topped” (“stubbing”, “heading”, “tipping”, “rounding over”).

WHY do people do this???

To start with, it’s just monkey butt ugly. Seriously… is *this* what the owners want to gaze out their windows at… be greeted as they come home by… be the first impression people have of their home?

Besides being ugly, it is terrible for the tree. It weakens it thru starvation as there aren’t enough leaves to support photosynthesis. It weakens the structural integrity of the tree crown by forcing the growth of spindly shoots. It promotes rot and disease entry at the site of the multiple wounds

And it’s dangerous. The tree produces new growth that is only a shoot popped out from the main branch. It is not a branch supported by the powerful trunk of the tree. And these shoots grow FAST (the poor tree is starving… it’s trying to get as many leaf producing branches out there as fast as it can). Shoots can grow 20 feet in the first year after topping. That’s a lot of weight to be supported by the cambium growth area. Guess what happens the first big wind storm?

Oh, did I mention it is ugly? Unless you *want* kindergarten lollipop trees in your yard…

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Save the Date! 21 AUG 2017

That’s when a TOTAL solar eclipse will happen over a swath thru the middle of the US!

Roughly from South Carolina thru to Portland, OR day will become night for a few minutes.

And get this… “The longest duration of totality will be 2 minutes 40 seconds at 36°58.5′N 87°39.3′W / 36.975°N 87.655°W / 36.975; -87.655 in Christian County, Kentucky just northwest of Hopkinsville, Kentucky.” That’s just up the road from here!!

But even better for me… it also goes directly thru my home town in MO (top left of the map).  Little Bird and Little Hoss… be ready to party with your Auntie Teri and Uncle Himself that day! We have 7 years to plan this party! ;-)

A partial solar eclipse will be seen from the much broader path of the Moon's penumbra, including all of North America, northern South America, western Europe, and Africa.

Plus a bonus: “The path of this eclipse crosses the upcoming path of the total solar eclipse of April 8, 2024, with the intersection of the two paths being in southern Illinois in Makanda just south of Carbondale. A small land area, including the cities of Carbondale, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and Paducah, Kentucky, will thus experience two total solar eclipses within a span of fewer than seven years.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Before and After: Shed Exterior

As you come down the walk to our front door, you are looking directly at our shed (this is actually a photo from the back of the house – didn’t have one from the front. But you get the idea). And it hasn’t been a sight that was welcoming.

So even tho you can’t actually see it from the curb, it was part of what I wanted to work on with my “curb appeal” projects.

So here is the new look for the shed…

Much better… yes?

I painted the trim around the window and door to match the soffits. I’m not sure if the corners and that crossbeam should be painted dark also or left alone. What do you think?

Before he left, Himself leveled up this area so I could fill it in with marble chips. Eventually we are going to concrete the driveway and this area will be part of that. So I opted for a low cost solution until then.

All the accessories (except the Wal-Mart flower pot) came from TJ Maxx/Home Goods.

I bought the metal pieces for a project I was going to do in the living room. But plans changed and now I needed to find someplace to use them. After a few coats of spray Spar poly I think they make cute ‘shutters’! They are a Home Goods find too.

This planter came from – Home Goods! LOL (Can you tell I really like that store?) OK, I already know some of you are rolling your eyes at the silk plants. It’s called “making do”.

It wasn’t ready when I could buy plants in the spring AND it’s far from the water source. I’m getting real here… I won’t be dragging a hose up there to water and unless it is a cast iron tough plant, it’s not going to survive. Next year I’ll put some varieties of sedum in the planters but it just didn’t happen this year.

Besides – it looks cute from the front walk.

The far side has 4 lilac bushes, which I will soon get mulch around. It’s been too darn hot to fool with it now!

The boxwoods on the side are a late fall project… once I’m sure the birds are no longer nesting, they are going bye-bye. To a certain few people boxwood smell like… well, they smell like cat pee. And I’m one of those people. BLEH!!!

If they have good trunks there are a couple people in my bonsai class who will make bonsai out of them. If they have the typical branchy trunk, a different friend wants them for some wood carving project. Either way, they won’t be wasted.

They will be replaced with more lilacs.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Thursday when I was in town for my art class there was a storm. We could hear the thunder and the pounding of the rain. When I drove home it was after dark but I noticed a lot of branches and leaves on the road.

Then Friday I get up and see a BIG limb down from one of our sycamores in the back yard. And there are leaves plastered all over the house. Hmmmm.

Across the road my neighbor is sawing up tree pieces in his daughter’s yard. The big sycamore in the back yard of the cabin was missing at least a third of its top!

About 50 yards away one of its huge branches is up in some other trees!

I had to go back into town to drop of some donations to my favorite charity thift stores. It is then I see all sorts of branches and trees down.

AND a shed was almost on the road in a mangled mess! Wow!

Later I was up in the front yard and notice wood pieces scattered all the way across the yard. So I investigate. These weren’t just “wood pieces” … these things were splinters of an oak tree. SPLINTERS!!!!! Some of them as long as 3 feet. From the bark, it was an oak… a big, old, strong oak. And they were in a path, more or less 10 feet wide with most of them pointing in the same NW to SE orientation like they had been laid out. There were so many they could probably almost fill the back of my small pick-up. (Photo shows some of the small pieces – saved to show Himself when he gets back. The one in the very front is about 10" long. Notice how they are dirt covered and one has leaves driven into it?)

There had to have been an F0 tornado that was not quite touching down, but rather ‘flicking’ things as it went along. I’ve checked over the house today and it is fine.

I am SO GLAD I was in town, as I would have been scared to death!!! (But it would have been kinda cool to see too…)