Saturday, February 26, 2011

Thoughts For Today

71 degrees today! This brought out my desire to go out and dig in the dirt, play in my gardens, and daydream while I anticipate spring and all the pleasures my garden will bring... I know it's still too early, a frost is waiting somewhere just around the corner, but today spring has sprung in my heart. And so I share a few favorite quotes on gardens...

In my garden there is a large place for sentiment.  My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams.  The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.  ~Abram L. Urban

I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation.  It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green.  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse

I think that if ever a mortal heard the voice of God it would be in a garden at the cool of the day.  ~F. Frankfort Moore, A Garden of Peace

Monday, February 21, 2011

Simply Symphony!

Went to the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center tonight to watch the AISD All City/State choirs sing. Our Elem., Jr. High, and High School students each did a selection of songs, and then they all sang together. What a beautiful job our fine arts teachers are doing with our students! Two of my nieces sang in the choirs, and of course they were most magnificent!
My favorite songs were Loch Loman... beautiful job... and Humpty Dumpty...cute and amusing! Music always seems to lift one's spirits and strengthen the soul. On that note... a few thoughts for today!
Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.  ~Berthold Auerbach

All deep things are song.  It seems somehow the very central essence of us, song; as if all the rest were but wrappages and hulls!  ~Thomas Carlyle

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs
And as silently steal away.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Day Is Done

Welcome to the Literary Cafe

Joim me at the first annual Desoto Town Center Literary Cafe. I'm very excited about this venue, and I hope you will be as well! I'd love to have all of you drop by for a little culture, good food, and a chance to mix and mingle with twenty of today's up and coming authors, including myself, Susan K. Earl. My novel Moon Dance will be available for purchase on this night for a special price, so come and join the festivities and support the local arts!
A special invitation to you all: Please join us for the first annual Literary Cafe to be held on March 3, 2011 in the Desoto Town Center. A library tour will begin at 5:30, and the Cafe will begin at 6:00.
The format of the Cafe will be free flowing, and will include several meaningful sessions.  The opening session will be a discussion of the Library itself,  followed by an introduction of the events food sponsors. After this, the "munching" may commence!  This is the time for our guests to mix and mingle with the authors and discuss their products one-on-one or in small groups.  From 7:00 - 7:30, we will have our first Main Stage, which will allow selected authors to come center stage for discussion and questions.  Then we'll have another mixer session. At 8:30, we'll do a close-out  mainstage, where all remaining authors who wish to do so will be able to come forward for a short talk about their work.  This will be followed by the last mixer session, final purchases, and autographs.  The Literary Cafe will close at 9:30 p.m.

Our Location

Situated at the northeast corner of Pleasant Run and Hampton, this pedestrian-friendly new urban village brings modern-yet-affordable apartment homes and professional office spaces together with casual restaurants and quaint boutiques.DeSoto Town Center is located on the North East corner of the intersection of Pleasant Run and Hampton Roads in Desoto, TX.
Can't wait to see you there!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Remember The Time: Easy Homemade Beef Stew

In honor of this extreme cold front that has attacked our nation this week... (Almost a whole week out of school! WOOHOO!...teachers like snow days even more than their students!) I'm sharing a family recipe for an easy, delicious meal that'll warm you up right down to your toes.
When the temperature starts to drop and a cold wind sends chills right through you, my family knows it's time for some homemade stew. I'm not sure how far back this traditional meal goes in my family line, or if it's a recipe my mom came up with on her own, but I know that it has long been a family favorite. There's just something very comforting in familiar foods, and in our family Mom's stew and cornbread happens to be one of the very best comfort foods around. Just a mention of this favorite dish draws everyone to the kitchen in anticipation of their very first spoonful.
I still remember walking home from school many a cold winter's afternoon, and as soon as my feet hit the porch steps I could smell the fragrant aroma of my mom's beefy vegetable stew floating out into the chilly air. I'd walk into the warm kitchen and even the windows would be dripping with moisture from the steam coming out of the slowly bubbling pot of rich, tomato(ey).. is that a word... beef and vegetable stew.
Every year, when the first cold day of winter arrives, my thoughts turn to making a big steaming pot of stew. Through the years, my daughter would come home with the same thought in her mind. Now that she's grown, she still calls me up when the first cold wind blows and asks if her stew is ready because she's on her way over to get some.
The recipe is extremely easy to make, but I hope I get the measurements right for you because when I learned to cook from my mom, she didn't really use a lot of measuring tools. It was more of a handful of this and a pinch of that, but it always turned out delicious. I've adapted the recipe a wee bit for our harried, hurried lifestyle. I don't do all the chopping and prepping she did back in the day because I just don't have the time to do this. Amazingly, (hmmm) grocery stores are very up on this new, modern concept, so they often have everything prepped and ready for you to use.

Beefy-Vegetable Stew
You will need:
  • A large pot with lid (vented lid if possible)
  • 1tbsp. olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 lb. stew meat (I prefer chuck roast)
  • 1 lb. of each of the following: (fresh, frozen, or canned) corn, green beans, sweet peas, diced carrots, and diced potatoes (you can add any other veggies you'd like, but these are our standard add-ins)
  • 24 oz. tomato sauce or 16 oz. tomato sauce and 8 oz. diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 c. diced onions
  • 3/4 c. diced celery
  • water
  • salt, pepper, and garlic salt to taste (I am liberal with all of these, especially the garlic salt) If I measured I'd say about 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, and 1 tbsp. garlic salt to begin with, then do taste tests as the soup cooks and add more seasonings as needed
  1. coat bottom of heated pot with the olive oil
  2. scatter onions, salt, pepper, and garlic salt in bottom of pot
  3. drop stew meat onto onions and cook until meat has browned (stir and keep an eye on the meat because browning doesn't take long
  4. add tomato sauce and vegetables
  5. stir and add enough water to fill the pot up to about 2 inches from the rim
  6. bring stew to a rolling boil
  7. reduce heat to low and cover with a vented lid (If you don't have a vented lid, you can leave the lid slightly askew so the steam can easily escape and the pot will not boil over
  8. cook on low heat for 2 to 3 hours or until all vegetables are soft and meat is fork tender (the longer the stew cooks, the more flavorful it will be -it's often even better the day after it's made)
Skillet Cornbread (1 pan)
  • 1 1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs

  1. pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees
  2. mix all dry ingredients together
  3. add milk and stir until well mixed
  4. pour batter into well greased 9" skillet (cast iron works best for cornbread)
  5. bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the cornbread is golden brown
  • for those of you with a sweet tooth add 1 tsp. sugar to the dry ingredients before mixing
  • double the recipe to have plenty of cornbread on hand for the next day's supper
For those of you who are curious, as my husband was when I first made stew for him, the difference between beefy vegetable soup and beefy vegetable stew is: soup contains more liquid, and stew has just enough liquid to saturate the beef and vegetables. Hope you enjoy!

Blessings always,