Saturday, January 31, 2009


I tagged myself after reading Lisa's post of this meme:

So the point of this bookworm honor is to do the following: pass it on to five other bloggers, and tell them to open the nearest book to page 46. Write out the fifth sentence on that page, and also the next two to five sentences.

I happen to have a stack of books within reach (I usually do) so I will take from the top the one I just started today. The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman.

Page 46, sentence 5:

From the terrace they saw Polish soldiers sprinting in all directions - down the streets, over lawns, even into the zoo - erecting balloon barriers, aligning anti -aircraft guns and piling long black cannon shells tapered at one end like animal droppings.

The zoo animals seemed unaware of danger. Small fires didn't scare them - for years they had trusted the sight of household bonfires - but they grew alarmed by the sudden flood of soldiers because the only people they'd ever seen in early morning were the dozen or so blue-uniformed keepers, usually with food.The lynxes began gargling sound a sound between roar and meow, the leopards chug-chugged low notes, the chimpanzees yipped, the bears brayed like donkeys, and the jaguar sounded as though it were hacking up something lodged in its throat.

I will tag Susan at Slice of Life because she has taken a break from blogging and maybe this will help her to get going again. Jenn from Juggling Life because she is a reader, I can tell. Jen from Jen on the Edge in hopes she has not packed all the books yet. And since this has been making its way around, I am only doing 3 tags.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


This is from the Food Network website, my first time making it. It got the thumbs up all around!

Chicken Piccata Pasta

2 T olive oil
1 lb chicken (cut into 1 inch pieces)
S & P
1 1/2 T butter
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 T flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup chicken broth
3 T capers, drained
1/2 cups parsley, chopped
3/4 lb penne pasta, cooked al dente

Heat a deep non-stick skillet on stove to medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil and the chicken, Season with S & P. Brown chicken about 6 minutes. Remove from pan and return the skillet to the heat.

Reduce heat to medium, add another tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter, the garlic and shallots. Saute 3 minutes, add the flour and cook 2 minutes. Whisk in wine and reduce liquid 1 minute, add lemon juice and broth. Stir in caper and parsley, when sauce comes to a boil, blend in remaining butter to add shine. Add chicken back to pan and heat through, about 3 minutes. Toss hot pasta with chicken and sauce and serve.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 20, 2009

In 1976 I was a senior in college and I was an intern in Washington DC. I was sent by my school to work in the DC offices of the California State University and Colleges System. It was an amazing experience. I arrived there a couple of weeks before Jimmy Carter was inaugurated. I strolled down to the parade route and watched them go by.

It was nothing like what I saw today on TV. The crowds of people today were momentous. It was wonderful to see so many happy, hopeful people. People with excitement and pride to witness such a historical event.

I heard that Beyonce sang "At Last" at one of the inaugural balls - so fitting. At last Bush and his cohorts are gone. At last we can begin to rebuild this country spiritually, morally and financially. At last, as pointed out on All The Good Names Were Taken, I can stop pretending I am Canadian.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Good for a football watching Sunday evening


From an old WW cookbook - only 320 calories!

1.5 T butter and olive oil

2 slices rye bread, lightly toasted

1/4 small red onion thinly sliced

1.5 T parmesan cheese

2 cube steaks, seasoned and broiled until rare

4 slices tomato

2 t chopped parsley

Melt butter and add oil. Preheat broiler. Top each slice of toast with onion slices, brush with oil and sprinkle with 1 t cheese. Broil until lightly browned. Top with steak, 2 slices of tomato brush with remailing oil, then sprinkle with remaining cheese and parsley. Broil until lightly browned.


For the last few weeks we have had a full house with the 2 college kids home - much like a three ring circus.

There was some of this.

Then we had to deal with that.

Then we went out and learned about wine.
We hung around and watched some TV.

Went got a little exercise.

The youngsters did quite a bit of partying.

In the end there was a lot of laundry to do.

The kitchen was a perpetual mess.

This is the slightest exaggeration of how the rest of the house looked.

But soon everything was all packed up.

We said our goodbyes.

Cleaned the house.

Tidied the guest room.

And began to check the calendar for the next school break.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I am ashamed to say that last February, after a year of dental scaling and such, I still had deep pockets between tooth and gum and was at risk for bone loss. Some of the pockets (you know when they go around your teeth and call out the numbers? Some of mine were at 5 and 6. A couple were as deep as 9.

I had to give in to the dire assessment of my dentist and make a appointment with the Periodontist. The news from him was bad - I needed to have my entire mouth full of gums surgically cut open in order to clean them deeply and then stitched back together. You think that sounds bad? The price tag - no insurance - was $6000.

But I had to do it. I did the whole mouth all at once, skipped the opportunity to be knocked out (more money and I'm tough.) It took and hour for the procedure, then I went to work. I didn't last long at work...But I went back the next day. The healing process was long, slow and uncomfortable.

However! I am proud to say that my check up today shows the huge improvement. My pockets are all between 2 and 4. It is so nice to get positive news from the oral hygienist. I wanted a little sticker to put on my shirt "I had a good checkup."

And I have almost paid off the periodontist.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


This is a recipe from my Mom's recipe box. Maggie asked for it tonight for our last family dinner before she and Zac go back to school.


2# flank steak, sliced thinly on the horizontal
1/4 cup butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t salt
1/2 t rosemary
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t basil
1 c red wine
1 c tomato sauce
2 T flour
1/2 # sliced mushrooms
2 T chopped parsley

Brown beef slices in butter, a few at a time and then remove to a plate. In remaining pan juices, brown garlic and add wine, tomato sauce herbs and meat. Bring to a simmer. cover and simmer for 1-1.5 hours.

Put 1 spoonful of sauce in a bowl and whisk in flour. Stir mixture into remaining sauce add mushrooms and parsley. Cook until mushroom are tender, about 15 more minutes. Adjust salt.

Serve over rice.


I asked for and received one of these ruana/shawls to wear when I don't need a coat - which with my body heat index these days, is not often. I wore it when Maggie and I were in Napa, but had not worn it at home until last night.

We went out to have dinner at one of Maggie's favorite places before she leaves for school and on the way out to the car I put my ruana on. Ally saw it and said "Mom you look so stylish." I was so pleased. I hugged her and say it was the nicest thing she has said to me in a long time. She drew away and said "I was just kidding."

Those 15 year old's really know how to hurt an old broad.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


After our day of wining and dining, Maggie and I needed some spa time. Calistoga is known for the mineral waters and the opportunity to take a mud bath. Dr. Wilkinson's is one of the long established bath houses in the area.
In my single days, my good friend Christina and I used to make the trip to have mud baths and lunch at Domaine Chandon. Now it has been since my honeymoon nearly 25 years ago since I was back. Maggie's reaction was that the mud smelled weird, she liked her masseuse and that there was a whole lotta naked time involved. True. Not for the shy, but extremely relaxing.

After lunch, we ventured up to Sterling Vineyards, which is reached by taking a tram up to the top of a very high hill. We lucked out - as seen in the photos - with an exceptionally beautiful day. We lounged about on the sundeck and sipped some wine and I would have stayed all afternoon except that Maggie had to have:

Pastries from the Bouchon Bakery, the rather famous bakery and restaurant run by the same folks as the famous French Laundry restaurant.
We also bought cookies for the family at home and some lovely bread for dinner.

We finished out day (and Tom's charge card) at the amazing Darioush Winery. The site is very Persian inspired, the wines were wonderful, the most gorgeous purple red color and they place a nice dish of pistachio nuts in front of you at the tasting bar. Very nice.

After a long drive home, our excellent adventure was done.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Our excellent adventure to the Napa Valley started out on a rainy day.

By the time we got to the Valley, the rain stopped but it was gray and cold.

We went straight to our fancy lunch in Yountville.

For those who know the French Laundry - no, we did not eat there. But we did have a very elegant lunch at a place called Redd down the road. Maggie has become a "foodie" and was very choosy about our dining destinations.

We proceeded down the road to the Opus One winery. We had a reservation for their tour and tasting. Maggie wants to learn more about wine - so why not start at the top end of the line?

Toward the end of the tour, we came out to find - the sun!

We also visited Cakebread Cellers and Mondavi and bought a few bottles to take home.

We drove further up the road to Calistoga, and checked in to the famous Dr. Wilkinson's Hotel to sober up rest up before our dinner reservation.

We dined and drank wine at Market in St. Helena. We sat at our table for about 3 hours and had a wonderful evening.
Tomorrow - we try the mud!

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Zac is having his wisdom teeth removed tomorrow morning. He asked for a hearty last meal which required chewing skills which would not be available for the next week....



1/2 cup soy sauce
2 T rice wine
2 T veg oil
2 T Hoisin sauce
2 cloves garlic mashed
1 1/2 t minced fresh ginger

1 1/2 pounds cubed chicken or beef sirloin

Combine the marinade in a cup, whisk. Pour into a baggie and add meat . Marinate at least 2 hours, up to 6 hours.

When ready to cook the meat, remove from the marinade and thread onto skewers. You may pour excess marinade into a saucepan and bring to a boil on the stove, simmer for 10 minutes. Use to baste the meat during cooking.

Grill or broil (to desired degree of doneness for beef) about 15 minutes.

I serve with sticky rice. And tonight a Sesame Spinach Salad.


1 1/2 cups short grain rice (like Calrose)
3 Cups water
1 t salt

Place rice, water and salt in 21/2-quart saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 16-18 minutes.

Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 3 minutes before serving.


1 1/2 pounds spinach, washed and trimmed
1 T honey
2 t Tamari or soy sauce
3 T toasted sesame seeds, ground or crushed

Wilt spinach in steamer basket, rinse in cold water and drain well. Combine other ingredients and dress salad. Serve cold or at room temperature.