Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A New Start

I have been insanely busy lately and have posted nothing, but it has given me some time to reflect on  this blog and where and how I want it to progress. I decided I needed a new focus and direction, so welcome to my almost new blog from New Happenings at the Table to Cooking and All That Jazz. I am going to continue to post food related things as well as occasional odds and ends, but I thought I would add a weekly blog about a jazz artist (upcoming, established, or no longer of this world) along with a one of their recordings. Hopefully I will be able to ask them a few things about their song, love of music and foods they love.(Naturally this will be virtually impossible for those no longer of this world, so a brief bio might be the only thing personal then.)  On the day I post it, I will have a food that either goes with the music or will recreate one of their personal favorite foods.  I did decide the new blog name was needed to reflect the change.
Oh, and if any of you know a jazz cat who might like to be promoted here, let me know. I will be happy to have them as a featured artist.

So welcome, grab a seat and we will find some good food, great music, and all that jazz!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

New Recipe Week 19

The past 3 weeks have been a whirlwind, and I have barely kept my head above water and it looks like more of the same is coming through June. We have had overnight guests each of the past 2 weekends, Mother's Day and 3 other obligations. Since I am not the best housekeeper and have only been upstairs  a couple of times since Christmas to change over my winter and summer duds the entire second floor needed a stem to stern scrubbing. (Yeah, I haven't sone that yet.  I just cleaned to rooms people were actually going to be staying in.)  All of this while we are trying to get the lake place "summerized"  made me feel like I was in the deep end of the pool with a weight around my ankle. Fortunately, I love everyone who was here and thoroughly enjoyed their company.

Now it is time for me to start the process over. The next group of houseguests will not be here until June 20, but it is a group of nine, which presents unique problems and requires all those nooks and corners I did not clean will need to be done. Son3 is touring with a band and they will be preforming here June 21.  Birmingham was a no brainer to book since they are staying here and will have no room expenses.  I would say I have a ton of time to get everything ready, but we have a big Memorial Day long weekend at the lake and then leave the first week in June to travel to Portland to see Pip's first dance recital. (Because some things are worth the time and expense!) I truly have limited time to pull everything together, but I will get it done somehow. It is going to be interesting to see how I come up with places for them to sleep. I am pretty sure 9 adult males do not want to share beds.

This was a long intro just to lead into a recipe. I just didn't have the time to sit and post this and felt the need to explain before diving into last week's dinner.

I am back on the Whole 30 meal plan and have been trying to make tasty foods that will feed me with enough flavor options and, in turn, keep me from fudging on the diet and eat cookies, or cake, or pie, or whatever else sings to me. For me that means intense flavors that will satisfy me and will also be enough for TheHub's meal enjoyment. (I have brown rice cooked and frozen in individual serving sizes to throw in with his meals if needed) And now I am finally getting to Week 19's new to me recipe. I found this recipe right before I went to the grocery store and decided if they had this brand of Thai curry paste (Whole30 compliant) we would have this for dinner. Publix had it so it was game on. I found this recipe when I was looking for a quick and easy Whole30 dinner. The original recipe can be found here. The recipe below is how I actually made it. If you click on the link you will notice it is called Thai Red Curry with Sweet Potato Noodles. I do not own a spiralizer. I only have one of those things that functions like a big pencil sharpener for making zucchini noodles so, as usual, I punted.

                                                                               Thai Red Curry

2 small, boneless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 small onion thinly sliced and separated into rings (esthetics only chop if you had rather)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 red pepper, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 can of full fat coconut milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp red curry paste
1 teaspoon hot curry powder (optional)
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 teaspoon dried mint
1/2 tsp  salt
2 small sweet potatoes (I cut then in thin slices and intended to make matchstick slices but it took too much time, so I cut them into thin rectangles instead.)
2 cups of kale sliced into ribbons
1 tbsp of fresh lime juice
fresh basil shreds

Cook the chicken breasts however you want. I poached mine in  little chicken broth, set aside to cool then cube. IN a medium saucepan heat the oil to almost smoking. Add the onions and quickly wilt then toss in the garlic and ginger, stirring continuously, until they wilt 45 or so seconds. Remove from heat and throw in the sliced peppers. This will cool down the pan quickly to keep the garlic from scorching. Lower the heat and return the pan, cooking and stirring until the peppers begin to soften a bit. Add the coconut milk, broth, curry paste, all the seasonings and the sweet potatoes. Stir well to mix everything then add the chicken to it. Cook on a medium low heat until the sweet potatoes are soft, then add the kale ribbons and cook until they are soft.( A couple of minutes) Stir in the lime juice and serve in bowls. Sprinkle as many or as  few basil shreds as you like then eat this bowl of deliciousness. It was so  good and I was so hungry I ate a bowl and a half, and could have eaten more but I wanted to save some for the next day.

I loved it but even better, TheHub, who is not doing Whole30 thought it was fantastic. I definitely think this is a huge win and will be doing this often. If you don't like heat the curry paste is insanely mild, so just use it and forget everything else.  If you do like heat be sure to add the hot curry powder and the red peppers.

I apologize for being lax commenting on some of your blogs. I am only on my computer in the early mornings, but have been reading most of the blogs late at night on my Ipad. I have given up on trying to comment while lying down. Blame it on finger dexterity. I think of comments to make the following morning but it's morning and I am not at my best then. Sorry again.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Week 18 Recipe

This week I tried a recipe from an old cookbook, The More with Less Cookbook, stuck in the middle of the cookbook shelf, surrounded by cookbooks I actually use on occasion.  I am sure I have looked at it at some time in the past few years but I don't remember when. I remember buying it when the older sons were very young and we were very, very broke. The book focused on consuming the easiest renewable resources for the majority of the meals, so the main ingredients in most of the recipes were either eggs or plant based items.

I have no clue what prompted me to look at it tonight other than the fact that I had about 6 pounds of ground chuck in the refrigerator that needed to be used or processed tonight, and I remembered that I could get the beginnings of several more meals prepped if I used the cookbook as a guide. (OK, just browned beef with onions and garlic in zippies for the freezer.) All I was really looking for was an approximate portion for a few recipes, knowing I could write the recipe name on the outside of the freezer bag, eliminating a little work and also guess work when I decided to actually cook.

I started looking through the book and instead of thumbing through the recipes, I found myself reading the commentary and also the little asides written throughout the book. About 2 hours later, I realized it was nearly 8 o'clock and I had done nothing toward getting our dinner made, much less coming up with some rudimentary meal plan. I had to change tacks and get something cooked. The possible recipes and freezer cooking could wait until after supper.

Step one was to find a quick recipe that would be stove top to table in less than 25 minutes and it had to be something I had every single item at the ready. After looking at about 5 recipes I hit pay dirt with kima. According to the recipe kima is a Pakistani entree, which is really just a stew with Southern Asian flavors. It sounded quick, easy and best of all, was made in one pan.


2 tablespoons butter
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground chuck (I used maybe 3/4)
1 tablespoon curry powder (I confess I used 1 tablespoon regular and 1 teaspoon hot curry powder)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
2 potatoes cubed
2 cans petite cut tomatoes
frozen green beans or green peas (I am not telling you an amount. You know how much your family will eat. I used a small bag (12 oz) of frozen green beans.

In a large pan, wilt the onions in the butter. Add the garlic and stir a few seconds, the add the ground chuck and cook until it is browned, stirring often. Though it did not call for draining the fat off the cooked beef I have to, so I did. Stir in the spices and cook a little more than add the potatoes followed by the undrained tomatoes. Cook until the potatoes are about half done. If you need more liquid add about a half cup more before adding the frozen beans or peas. Cook until the beans/peas are done and serve on rice. (So thankful I always have a box of brown rice minute rice in the pantry)

This was quite tasty, and unbelievably easy. TheHub and I both ate it with enough left over for both of us to eat another night this week. Next time I  make this again, and will probably add another potato, more green beans and leave off the beef for a vegetarian meal. With a green salad to go along with it and the meal would be perfect. Of course I will make it another time with beef in it also.

Give it a try, you might like it!

Friday, May 4, 2018

May Joy List

Each month I post a list of things I think about that will bring me joy, either personal joy or seeing the joy it might bring to someone else.  Some of the things are personal and just for my joy, but I always also try and remember the theme of my church many years ago.

I am Methodist and our ministers are appointed by the conference, so having the same one for ten years is a long run. Our minister of a couple of decades ago had "It is a blessing, to be a blessing"as a recurring theme in his sermons for years. I have tried keep it in the forefront of my brain ever since, and found, over time, it truly is a blessing to be one. So some of my joys are simply the joy that I can do something for someone else.

So now May has begun and I got caught in a time vortex and am just now getting around to even thinking about what might be joyous this month, much less actually posting it. Here it is, a little late.

1.  Expand my horizons
    a. read 4 books (1 from a different genre. History perhaps?)
    b. read articles from 4 magazines I do not normally read.
    c. listen to that opera i keep skipping
    d. listen to a Ted talk each week
    e. try a new beverage weekly
    f. try a new food weekly
2,  Quit being so tragically unhip and explore instagram
3.  Find a podcast to listen to regularly
4.  Visit Vulcan and take a photo of his bare butt
5.  Finish planting everything
6.  Visit family members I haven't seen in a while.
7.  Have a small dinner party
8.  Have neighbors over for drinks and/or dessert
9.  Take flowers to someone
10. Listen with full attention
11. Take food to someone having a hard time
12. Learn a new song for the piano
13. Have an at home theme meal
14. Volunteer
15. Paint, draw or sketch with charcoal
16. Take a seriously old clothing item and remake it into something "new"
17. Try an unnatural hair color
18. Swim
19. Send sympathy and thinking of you cards as situations dictate
20. FaceTime 5 times with the most beautiful girl in my tribe
21. Go to a movie by myself (popcorn optional)
22. Reconnect with someone who has been out of touch
23. Forgive everything that needs forgiven
24. Apologize and ask forgiveness as needed
25. Read a psalm each day (King James Version because the language is so beautiful)
26. Have the first cup on coffee on the screened porch as much as possible
27. Try to get more sleep (Note to self: Go to bed by midnight)
28. Have a few hours each week for some self pampering
29. Have Mom up to eat, weekly
30. Take Mom to visit some of her friends
31. Practice patience with Mom.
32. Visit a small town near me
33. Start exploring restaurants from one of 2 lists: the best restaurant in each county or the 100 best          dishes in Alabama
34. Be kind
35. Do something for someone, expect nothing in return (anonymous is best)
36. Learn a new craft
37. Eat something chocolate every week
38. Keep a list of everyday unexpected joys
39. Tell my closest friends how much I appreciate them
40. Marvel at a glorious sunrise
41. Enjoy the quiet beauty of a moon rise
42. Be grateful for huge sky expanses both at home and at the lake
43. Practice gratitude
44. Write stories for Pip


It's May 4th

                               Happy Star Wars Day!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Are We Really In Week 17

I can't believe we are already this far into 2018. This has been the fastest year of my life, of course I am older than I have ever been and the ratio of time lived vs. 365 1/4 days has decreased substantially, so in simple math terms it makes sense. In my walking around life though I don't understand how days, which use to seem so long (particularly when there were babies to be fed and kiddos underfoot) disappear so quickly. And weeks? They zoom by before I know what is happening. I am having company the next couple of weekends so I need to get the house deep cleaned and ready.

Our very beautiful niece, K is coming to go to a family wedding in Tuscaloosa (about 45 minutes from Birmingham.  She and my sister in law were going to stay at a hotel there, but did not realize the wedding is the same weekend as The University of Alabama's graduation. No room in the inns! TheHub and I were going to the wedding anyway and it will be fun to have them here. In addition to K, she is bringing her 5 year old son, JP, but just found out that children are not welcomed at the wedding.  Instead of ruining her plans, I told her to come on and I will stay here  and play with JP while they do wedding things. I think it is probably good that they couldn't find a room. I still would have stayed with him, but much prefer to have him here rather than babysitting in a hotel room.

Anyway because they are coming and the upstairs is in shambles, I need to concentrate on cleaning rather than cooking this week. That's right we are going to have basic and not very tasty food this week, but I still needed to try a new recipe. This one feels somewhat like cheating, though I have never made it before. (But I have come pretty darn close)

Evidently back in simpler times preachers would walk about the neighborhood and call on their members at their homes. This was before the days of the mega churches when people worshiped very close to home at churches in their neighborhoods. So the preachers would walk about and call, often unannounced Supposedly any good church member/hostess would have some coffee or tea and  little nibble for the visiting clergy.

When Brother Bill knocked on the door, he could be greeted warmly and Papa would talk about old war stories while Mama ran into the kitchen to brew a pot of coffee. In the time it took for the coffee to perk (old fashioned coffee for you younger ones)  Preacher Cookies could be made, plated, and ready to serve in just a few minutes. This would insure that Brother Bill not only thought Mama kept a perfect house, but also that she was a perfect wife because she had tasty goodies on hand. I wonder if they believed a clerical seal of approval concerning coffee and cookies  guaranteed admittance through The Pearly Gates for both of them?

I figured if something could be made and on a plate in 5 minutes I had enough time to give it a try so here is the extremely easy slightly altered version of the old Preacher Cookie.

1 cup
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter (Called for creamy but I only had chunky)
1/1/2 cup quick cooking oats (I only had regular oats)

1/4 cup chocolate chips
2 1/2 teaspoons butter

Before beginning place a parchment sheet on a flat heat proof surface. I use a gigantic cutting board, but a stone counter top or a cookie sheet would work equally well.

Put the sugar, butter and milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil while stirring and boil for 1 minute stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and add the peanut butter and vanilla. Mix well then stir in the oats.

Drop the mix by tablespoons onto the parchment and let it cool  slightly. If you are not afraid to touch food, wash your hands a lightly pat them to flatten them out. If you prefer put on some food grade plastic gloves and flatten them out that way. I prefer to live life on the edge and use the bare hand method.

Melt the butter (I use a coffee cup in the microwave) and add the chocolate chips to it. Stir to mix then swirl the chocolate on each cookie top. This made about 3 dozen little cookies. I figured they must have been OK because TheHub ate about 1/4 of them before I even got the chocolate on them.

These really are not a bad bite, though I think they taste more like fudge than cookies. They are still a tasty little treat that is insanely easy to make. If I make them again I will take the time to whirl the oats in the blender, just to get a little finer consistency in the finished product.

Of course I think the probability of our minister coming over unannounced is slim to none, but this might be a fun thing for JP and me to make Saturday afternoon. We will see!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

April Joy List Update

Each month I create a list of things I believe will bring me joy. Some months I almost hit the mark and other__well, sometimes life messes around with my list. No matter what happens time marches on and completed or not a new month appears__at an alarming rate! Here are the results of April.

1. Continue expanding my horizons
a.  Try a new recipe each week Done
b.  Try a new food each week Done
c.  Read articles from 4 magazines I do not usually read GQ, Essence, Popular Mechanics, O
d. Wear a color I never wear (orange or yellow, which mean buying something since I have none) Bought a blouse that is somewhere between tangerine and salmon. I tried on a couple of what I call true orange things and I just can't wear it.
e. Try a different hair color (I am thinking one that does not grow in nature, teal maybe?) Life got in the way of this one.
f.  Listen to an opera, symphony, spoken word, and lecture. completely and totally uninterrupted.
Heard  a fantastic lecture on code switching.
Listened to Shostakovich's Symphony
Jam Poetry 
No opera

2.  Go to a museum Nope

3.  Go to a craft fair or art show Nope. It is hard to do when we were at the lake nearly every weekend.

4.  Have Mom up to eat weekly Did this plusI did have her here overnight and served her dinner and breakfast. (She had no power for a few hours during the night and was scared)

5.  Send a thinking of you card to someone Done

6.  Take food to someone having a hard time Done, but I hate it was funeral food.

7.  Visit with relatives I have not seen lately. We were supposed to go to TheHub's cousin's surprise birthday party, but her health would not allow her to travel on the planned date. Hopefully we can surprise her in May when she will be in Alabama for a family wedding. Other than that I did not see any relatives I don't see on a regular basis.

8.  Do something for someone expecting nothing in return (anonymous is best) Done, unfortunately not anonymous this month either.

9.  Visit some small town nearby and find something unique about the place. Nope

10. Create something besides food 2 times this month Created one time only, bummer!

11.Go to the lake and spend the weekend Spent 3 , but they were working weekends and although everything was beautiful, getting the outdoors ready for regular use is a lot of work.

12. Read a traditional mystery,  preferably with a gumshoe detective (I am not a big mystery fan)
Read it and would put the title here, but I got if free and have already deleted it from my kindle library. It was a mystery and I figured out whodonit!

13. More than half ass learn a new song on the piano Nope. I don't think I even played more than a few times this month. Did I mention every time I play it, Shelby, the dog, sings along.

14. Try something I have never tried before (action or trade) Kind of. I tried but couldn't/ didn't do it properly

15. Whistle  I have done a lot of this lately both intentionally and unintentionally. I got a new retainer and am wearing it  (24/7 ) to gently realign what braces fixed years ago. I have found if I hum sometimes I can whistle at the same time. It's weird but also kind of fun. When I whistle on purpose right now I can seriously whistle.

16. Draw, paint or charcoal sketch Did some things with charcoals that I really like.

17. Volunteer Boo Hiss No. 

18. Meet Son3 for lunch (will require traveling on my part) He was in Atlanta so we rode over and met him at Fox's BBQ.

19. Sit in the sun and listen to the birds sing (early morning is best) With a cup of steaming hot coffee this is so easy to do.

20. Listen to  and watch small kids playing  (I can only do this in my neighborhood without looking like some kind of creep, so this is subject to my small neighbors playing outside)  The kids a couple of doors up have been on their play set several times. When they are on it they are above fence level and they wave and yell to me while they play. The kids across the street have been playing basketball and I have watched them a few times. They are either terribly unfriendly or incredible shy.                      

21. Buy lemonade from a kid lemonade stand. Haven't seen any this month

22. See a play or concert Saw Motown the Musical. Very entertaining!

23. Find and enjoy some free live music Done. It is always easy to find some free music around town.

24. Go to Vulcan and take a picture of his bare butt (now it sounds like fun) I completely forgot about this one. Moving it to May.

25. Have a small dinner party Done

26. Bake cookies and brownies and invite  neighbors  friends for a snack I decided to invite friends instead of neighbors

27. Plant whatever veggies we intend to grow this year. Partially done since we spent so many weekends at the lake.

28. Plant zinnias and marigolds Marigolds are planted but not zinnias I will plant some seed tomorrow

29. Take flowers to someone Nope

30. Practice kindness Trying every day

31. Listen actively to TheHub when he talks to me. Most of the time, but I will admit to tuning out occasionally, especially sports talk.

32. FaceTime weekly with the most beautiful girl in my world  Since this is subject to her availability it does not happen exactly weekly, but it does happen at least 5 times a month.

33. Get in touch with someone I have neglected or "forgotten" Had about a 3 hour phone conversation with my best friend from college. have not talked with her in several years.

34. Keep a list of unexpected joys
I am just seriously sucking at this. Daily joyous things happen all the time but I forget to write them down, but trust me, I experience something joyous even on my worst days. Occasionally dealing with mom drives me to chocolate__nuff said about joy in the midst of chaos.

Farewell April 2018. We will not meet again. Now, Hello May!