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Friday, March 29, 2013

Artful Reader’s Club Review: “My Wild Kingdom”

“My Wild Kingdom” by Marlin Perkins
 
This autobiography is an interesting insight to the man that most know for his television program “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom”.  He was also the director of the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago from 1944 until 1962, when he became the director of the St. Louis Zoo until his retirement in 1970 (tho he stayed on there as Director Emeritus until his death in 1986). 
 
Besides being an autobiography of the man himself, it is an interesting insight into the practices of early zoo keeping.  The ideas of ‘conservation’ in the 30s, 40s, and even 50s are a far, far cry from what we now know. 
 
Written in first-person narrative, you feel as tho you are sitting in his office listening to him tell you about his fascinating life.  His folksy yet formal style of storytelling is just like you heard him speak on “Wild Kingdom”.  
 
It’s a fun nostalgic read for those of us who are “baby boomers”.
 
However, I chose this book for my March review for a very personal reason.
 
I knew Marlin Perkins.  Oh not in a ‘go over for dinner’ kind of way (don’t I wish!) but nevertheless, in a sweet way that typified the man.
 
I was ‘that kid’ who read every book I could get my hands on that was about animals.  Seriously…I read the entries in the World Book encyclopedia.  Growing up near St. Louis meant we made a lot of trips to the zoo.
 
Being Mr. Perkins was a very hands on type of zoo directors, one would see him walking about the zoo grounds, often with distinguished guest but also sometime by himself.  One of those times he was by himself I spotted him.  Being the 5 or 6 year old animal lover I was, of course “Wild Kingdom” was one of my favorite shows and he was my hero.  I was SO excited to see him.  My parents encouraged me to go tell him “hello” but I lost my nerve about 10 feet from him.  When he noticed this little kid gazing at him, he smiled and motioned me to come closer.  I’m not sure how our conversation started, but at some point I told him I knew EVERY animal in the zoo.  So he asked me about the critter in front of us. 
 
“That’s easy!  That’s a Bactrian Camel!”
 
Then I proceeded to tell him everything I knew about that camel.  After spending a few minutes with him, my folks gave me “the signal” that meant it was time to leave Mr. Perkins alone and come back over to them.  As I skipped off (on air!), he told me he looked forward to seeing me again sometime. 
 
Several years later (I was about 11 this time), his wife Carol was speaking in my little town as a fund raiser for her new wolf sanctuary.  My parents were going out for the evening but they arranged for my sitter to take me to her lecture.  Mrs. Perkins spoke about a recent trip to Australia and at one point in the slide show she asked the audience if anyone know what animal she had on the screen.  No hands went up.  I leaned over to my sitter and whispered “It’s a dingo.” 
 
And the sitter raised her hand and made me tell what it was.  Mrs. Perkins looked at me for a moment and asked if I would come down and talk to her for a moment when the program was over. 
 
When we walked down to her later, she smiled and said “Teri?” 
 
I nodded ‘yes’.
 
Her smile grew broader as she said, “So you're the one.  Marlin wondered if you’d be here tonight.”
 
I tell you, I could have just burst with happiness!  (And my sitter about fell over with shock at me being ‘known’ by a famous person.)
 
That ‘friendship’ lasted until I married and moved away.  Every time I went to the zoo, I was looking for a very particular grey head in the crowd.  The times I saw him, we would exchange greetings and small talk; usually about something to do with the zoo but sometimes I’d tell him something about me too.
 
Marlin Perkins passed away in ’86 and it was a sad time for me. 
 
 
Many years later in 2005 while on a road trip, Himself and I passed thru his home town of Carthage, MO and visited a memorial to him. 
 
 
And more years later I took Little Bird to see his statue at the Marlin Perkins Plaza at the St. Louis Zoo.  I am so looking forward to showing her and Little Hoss the zoo, and teaching them all about the creatures who live there.
 
And telling them about a sweet man named Marlin, who loved the animals too.
 
 
For my art piece, I digitally altered photographs I took while in Kenya.  I used the "neon" and "HDR" aps to get this look, then put them together using the 'collage' feature.  The animals pictured are:
 
Top row: Impala, Giraffe, Zebra
Middle row: Cape Buffalo, Elephant, Wildebeest
Bottom row: Leopard, Rhino, Lion
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

DIY: Fix A Sticking Rotating Corner Cabinet

Do you have one of these cabinets that stick when you open it?
 
We did, and I had no idea what to do about it.  It was that way when we moved in.  There were even groves being cut into the bottom of the door!  Since this was the first corner cabinet I’d ever had, I thought we were stuck with the sticking.  It still ‘worked’ so we lived with it.
 
However, in the last few months it had gotten way worse.  To the point that it was becoming difficult to open and close to door.  I’d finally had enough.
 
I took the cabinet door off to get a good look at the problem.  The bottom had a gouge on both sides from the screws that hold bracket that holds the center post.  I’m not talking a little gouge either.  These babies were about a 1/4 inch deep!  The edges were all torn up too.
 
 
So I bundled up against the cold windy day so I could sand it down on the front porch.  (The last thing I wanted was to have to clean up all that dust inside!)  I worked on it until the bottom looked good again.  (Himself SNEAKED this picture from the corner of the house!)
 
In putting the door back together, Himself discovered this:
 
…a height adjusting mechanism at the bottom of the pole.  After loosening the finger bolt on the left, you spin that middle textured area.  It adjusts the pole length very much like a shower rod.  Once you have it where it needs to be, you tighten the finger bolt back up.  (I’d suggest given it an extra tug with some vice grips.  Over the years it had loosened and that was the cause of the problem.)
 
Now our door swings freely and easily. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Steak with Amaretto Mushroom Recipe

Here’s one of my favorite ‘perk ups’ for a plain steak and mushrooms. 
 
While the steak is grilling/broiling, sauté up a pan full of your favorite mushrooms in butter.  Right now I’m on a button, baby bello, and shitake mix kick – tho for this cooking, all I had were white buttons. (This is why I decided to make this recipe!)
 
Once the mushrooms are almost done, transfer them to a plate.  Then add a little flour to the pan and make a nice roux.  Then use cream or sour cream to make a sauce a bit thicker than you want the finished product.  For this you want a thin sauce.  If you use the sour cream, be careful it doesn’t get thick like gravy. 
 
Once your sauce has thickened, start adding the amaretto.  If it thins out too much, just cook it back down while stirring constantly. 
 
Add your mushrooms back to the sauce and let them heat back up. 
 
Serve over the top of your steak.
 
(Himself doesn’t care for this recipe as the Amaretto gives the sauce a slightly sweet taste.)
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Review: Woody’s Pizza in Clarksville (Sango)

Recently after church we went out with some friends to a new (to us) pizza restaurant… “Woody’s Hand Tossed Pizza” (http://woodyshandtossedpizza.com ).
 
I was impressed as we walked in.  It’s very open and roomy, with plenty of space between the tables.  (A major restaurant peeve of mine is when they jam so many tables into the room that every time you move your chair you hit the person sitting behind you!  I don’t go back to those restaurants!)
 
It had been ages since we’d had pizza, so greedy people we are – we each ordered our own medium! 
 
 
I did a ‘make your own’ with sausage, fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, Provolone, and feta… light on the tomato sauce.  Oh my!  I’ve never had feta on a pizza.  It was SO good!!
 
 
Himself tried the ‘Veggie’ pizza…with LOTS of tomato sauce.
 
 
The thin crust was perfect… not tough or chewy.  Great flavors in both the crust and ingredients.  No compliant about the amount of toppings either.
 
We both really enjoyed our meals, as did our friends.  This one is definitely a ‘keeper’.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ann Marie’s Artisan Bakery in Clarksville, TN

There’s a new bakery in town!  And it’s GOOD!  Himself and I found it the afternoon of my photo show.  We had gotten everything set up and had an hour before the event started.  Monica (owner of Ingredients) told us about it, saying she’d heard it was good.
 
So we headed up to check it out for ourselves.
 
 
We were greeted as we walked in the door… by friendly ‘hellos’ and by the smell of cinnamon rolls and baking cookies. 
 
Ahhhhhhh…
 
We ordered several things to share and sample; Himself ordered a piece of plain cheesecake.  It disappeared pretty fast…  However, not before I tried it.  Delicious.  A wonderful blend of almost savory but still sweet – a good old-fashioned cheesecake.
 
 
He also ordered a cinnamon roll.  Very good.
 
 
I decided on a piece of quiche.  This particular one is their ‘cream cheese and cheddar’ variety.  Quite nice.  Perfectly browned and a very generous portion. 
 
Ann Marie’s is in downtown Clarksville at 135 Franklin St. (the old “Blondies” location).  
 
They have a web site at www.annmariesgoodies.com  where you can see the selection and even order something for later pick-up. 
 
I know we’ll be back for more!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Salud! at Whole Foods: Tastes from an Italian Spring (with recipe)

Time for another cooking class with Chef Dan Maggipinto.  His classes are the ones I look most forward to, especially when Himself is home to go with me!
The menu for this class was:
Spring Vegetable Bruschetta
Lamb Spiedini
Israeli CousCous Salad
Carrot Slaw
Crispy Chocolate Cookies with Chocolate-Hazelnut Cannoli Cream and Strawberry ‘Salsa’
 
 
 
Looks good, doesn’t it?
 
Chef Dan had Himself and I each do a different recipe, while the other 3 couples worked as teams.  I’m guessing he did that because he knows us and knows that we are OK with working without a partner.
 
My recipe was the Spring Vegetable Bruschetta.
 
It starts with slicing some great crusty bread, rubbing it with a clove of garlic and then brushing it liberally with olive oil.  (Personally, in the future I will use garlic infused olive oil… way easier). 
 
Then you grill the bread.  For the class we used the grilling pans.  Once done, it was set to the side and warmed up right before serving.
 
 
Then I got to chopping… and chopping… and chopping!  Here’s my station part way thru the process.  (Himself took most of the photos as I was too busy being a chopping machine!)
 
 
Sautéing the veggies. 
 
What I enjoy about Chef Dan’s classes is his sense of humor and laid back teaching style. It is just plain FUN. A lot of laughter happens along with the cooking. Don’t think you don’t learn your stuff under him. He keeps a close eye on everyone and makes corrections as needed. 
 
 
Assembling the bruschetta…. and wishing I could use my hands instead of the tongs! 
 
Garnishing with crumbled goat cheese…and wishing I could use tongs instead of my hands!  (That stuff is ‘crumbly’ in name only.  It sticks to everything!)
 
 
Himself worked on the Lamb Spiedini, aka Italian Shish Kabob.  It had a nice rosemary & balsamic vinegar marinade. 
 
 
Once they’d marinated enough, it was time to grill under Chef Dan’s watchful eye.
 
 
They smelled soooooo good while they were grilling.  It got everyone’s stomachs to rumbling.
 
 
Chef Dan explaining something…  In lot of my photos, his hands are a blur.  After all… he is Italian!  LOL
 
 
One team made Crispy Shallots (basically homemade Durkee fried onions) to garnish the meal.  From thin sliced shallots tossed in seasoned flour, into the deep fryer, and drained on a paper towel.
 
 
Crispy yumminess! 
 
 
The cookies were interesting.  They were spread very thinly and baked.  While still hot, they could be draped over something (like a bowl) to take that shape or left flat. 
 
 
Chef Dan plating the meal and a team garnishing.
 
 
He poured the juices back onto the lamb skewers. 
 
 
Not often you’ll have your bruschetta served by the Chef!
 
 
Lamb skewers on top of couscous salad and carrot slaw, garnished with crispy shallots.
 
 
Dessert.  Oh MY! 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Rustic Chipsters Furniture

While we were at the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show at the beginning of the month we saw many interesting vendors.  For the most part tho, they are pretty much the same year to year.  However, this year we visited with one vendor who was unique.
 
 
He calls his business “The Rustic Chipster”  ( www.therustichipster.com ) What he does is to creative truly original pieces of furniture from reclaimed wood from old tobacco barns.
 
 
The pieces have an ethnic mosaic feel.
 
 
Different color grout gives each piece a completely different look.  There are also pieces that are straight construction. 
 
 
Himself liked this art piece that had different stains.
 
 
These chairs are incredibly comfortable!
 
  
 What struck me about his pieces was that you don't have to have something he's made from his stash of barn wood.  You could have a beautiful piece of furniture made with wood from your personal barn or old home... or any other sentimental wooden structure.  If you have one of the mosaic type tables made, it doesn't even need all that much wood as the top is made from slices from a single board!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

ANGRY!!!

Last summer a bunch of red wasps made a nest in the concrete yard ornament that sits in my rose bed.  It's a bird feeder (tho we don't use it as such) and the area where the seed falls thru was the perfect door for them to go in and out.
 
A couple days ago it was well below freezing in the morning and we finally remembered to evict them.  After all, I can't work in the rose bed or use the patio with them there guarding their nest!
 
Himself pulled out one very large nest and a smaller one, with about 6 wasps clinging to them... made immobile by the cold.  He just threw them out in the yard.  We then filled the area with gravel.
 
Today is 70 F.
 
And the wasps are awake... 
 
 
And they are angry.
 
 
 
Very, very angry.
 
 
 
I'm not sure where they have all come from!  There are about 15 on this side of the lawn ornament and the same amount on the other.  Some are on the ground too.  They appear to be fighting with each other. 
 
They are way too worked up and it is way too windy to go out and hit them with wasp spray.  So we're just staying out of their range for now!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Featuring: Clan Hanna Photography!

As I mentioned last Friday, I’ve been very busy with a creative project.  I was invited to be the featured artist in a shop for the “First Thursday Art Walk”.  The art walk is held in downtown Clarksville; the shops and galleries hold receptions featuring different artists.  I was at the culinary shop “Ingredients”. 
 
I decided to show mainly culinary related photos – from signs to ingredients to cooking tools. (Sorry about the distracting watermark but these are my commercial photos for my Clan Hanna Photography…)
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
  
 
The selection of what I wanted to show was nerve wracking!  Then I had to have my prints made and get them matted and framed.  At the last minute I added a few non-culinary photos for variety. 
 

The shop was buzzing with activity and I feel I did well with my show. 
 
 
I made a bit of money (and turned around and spent some of it on cute things like this apron for Little Bird!). 
 
I had several people say I need to open an Etsy shop.  I’m thinking seriously about that.  Perhaps that will become one of my summer projects…