Thursday, May 29, 2008

Shrimp Gumbo

Since Jacy came home we've been trying a lot of new recipes, but I keep forgetting to take pictures and post them. Tonight I remembered.

Tonight I made a recipe from a Southern Living cookbook, Cooking Across the South by Lillian Bertram Marshall. I even used some of the file powder I made from sassafras leaves that I've been drying on the back porch for the past few weeks.

Shrimp Gumbo

2 c. sliced fresh okra or 1 (10 oz.) package frozen sliced okra
1/3 c. olive oil
2/3 c. chopped green onion with tops
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 lb. peeled deveined shrimp
2 c. hot water
1 c. canned tomatoes
2 whole bay leaves
6 drops hot sauce
1 1/2 c cooked rice

Saute okra in oil about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Add onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and shrimp; cook about 5 minutes. Add water, tomatoes, and bay leaves. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Add hot sauce. Place 1/4 c. rice in each of 6 soup bowls. Fill with gumbo. Yield: 6 servings.

We used frozen okra and frozen shrimp. Added 1/2 t. thyme for extra flavor, and 1/4 t. file powder to thicken it. Served it over brown rice and ate it up.

Perfectly delicious.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

May sock - finished!

I finished the first sock in the pair last night! Now I'll take a break and try to finish a pair of socks I have on the needles for Janet, then start the second Lily of the Valley sock and try to finish it before the end of June.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

The Hydrogen Murder

The Hydrogen Murder is the first book in a series by Camille Minichino that features elements in the periodic table. I picked up this book because the idea of a murder mystery based on chemistry and physics sounded interesting, and because the sleuth is a 55-year-old woman scientist who relocated from California to her home town of Boston.

In this book, a young physicist doing research on turning hydrogen into metallic form is murdered in his laboratory. Gloria Lamertino, a colleague of the victim who knew him in California, is called by the police to assist them in understanding the significance (if any) on the case of the murdered man's research.

While it wasn't the best mystery I've enjoyed, it was still an entertaining way to spend a few hours last week. And good enough to prompt me to get the rest of the series - as many as are currently available - to read this summer.


Modern Quilt Wrap - a few more blocks

I've finished a few more blocks on the Modern Quilt Wrap, but I have not done a block a day. It may end up being a Christmas gift instead of a birthday gift.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

May sock - heel

I'm now on the heel flap of the Lily of the Valley sock. Marley and Sam had to see the dentist today and that gave me the perfect opportunity to work on this sock in the dentist's waiting room with no distractions and no interruptions. Maybe I can finish one sock in this pattern by the end of the month!

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Prisoner of Birth

Jeffrey Archer's book, A Prisoner of Birth is a perfect book for summer reading. Once begun it's difficult to put down without finishing it. So I read it as quickly as I could and now am foisting it on Jacy, Tom, Karin, and Mom.

Mr. Archer has deftly redone The Count of Monte Cristo in this story of Danny Cartwright and the crime for which he was framed. But even if I had not read Alexandre Dumas' book, I think I still would have found A Prisoner of Birth a page-turner.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Marley at the museum

Marley came to volunteer at the museum with me today. We had no visitors, but it was a pleasant way to spend a rainy morning. I knit on my May sock, and Marley read, studied, and then looked at various displays. Her favorite place is the schoolroom area. She likes to look through the old textbooks and sit on the students' bench and at the teacher's desk. At noon we locked up the museum and went to the library. Perfect day.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

May sock - Lily of the Valley

Our knitting group is making the Lily of the Valley sock pattern by Susan Lawrence (available through KnitPicks ). I'm using US size 2 bamboo needles and Bare Merino Wool, Silk Sock Yarn.

I like the pattern, but I'm not moving on it very quickly, so I don't know if I'll finish one sock by the end of the month. (Guess I should put aside my other knitting projects and get this sock done!)

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day was great

First of all, Alabama Power decided to postpone our power outage until next weekend - YAAAAY! Because I had invited Mom, Dad, Chuck, Kim, and their family, I was hoping we'd have power and not have to resort to pb&j or pizza from the Shell gas station.

The girls took a lot of pictures, and everyone played and talked and ate for a couple of hours.

Mom, me and Joan. I think Kim took this picture.

Abbey, Madyson, Amy, and Hayley - all so beautiful!

Page with Madyson, Abbey, and Hayley. I love how the wind blew their dresses and hair.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tom is 21 and other important news

Tom's birthday was on Thursday and he turned 21. This was a momentous occasion, because if one is 21 in Alabama one can buy a handgun, and can get a permit to carry a concealed weapon. So guess what Tom got for his birthday with his birthday money?

A Glock. And various necessary accoutrements. And a concealed weapon permit.

When Steve saw Tom's Glock, his eyes lit up, and he had this goofy grin on his face as he handled the gun, and he said to me, "I always wanted one of these and a permit to carry a concealed weapon... ."

I never knew that.

Happy Birthday, Tom! And be careful with that thing around the rest of us!

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Red Beans and Rice

Seven years ago I bought Robin Robertson's cookbook, Rice & Spice. I've used it a lot and even loaned it to several friends. It's one of the best cookbooks I own. The recipes are tasty and most are simple, with easy-to-find ingredients. For some of the ingredients that are more difficult to find, Ms. Robertson offers suggestions for substitutes. Best of all, the recipes - all of which are vegetarian - can easily be adapted to the preferences of my family, either by adding some kind of meat or dairy or by serving them as side dishes.

One of our favorite meals is red beans and rice. I make it often, but always use my mother's recipe. This week I decided to use the recipe from Rice & Spice.

Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

1 T. vegetable oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 small bell pepper, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained

3 c. cooked or canned kidney beans, rinsed if canned

1/2 c. water

1 t. file powder

1 t. Tabasco sauce

1 t. dried thyme, crumbled

1/2 t. salt

1/8 t. cayenne

1 bay leaf

4 to 6 cups hot cooked long-grain white rice

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic and saute until tender, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, kidney beans, water, file powder, Tabasco sauce, thyme, salt and cayenne. Cover and simmer until flavors have blended, about 10 minutes. Serve over hot rice.

I also cooked sausage in a separate pan. Then I divided the red beans into 2 pots and added the sausage to one. Amy, Jacy and I ate the vegetarian red beans and the rest of the family had the beans with sausage. I did not have file, or bell peppers, but it was delicious anyway. (And the vegetarian red beans are only 2 Weight Watcher points per cup serving!)

Next time we go to the lake I'll get some sassafras leaves and make my own file powder.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008


If dryads were the nymphs of oak trees in Greek mythology, what would we call nymphs of oak hydrangeas? (Marley and Sam covered Abbey and Mady in these leaves and they reminded me of the dryads in C.S. Lewis's Narnia books.)

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Madyson is 2

Madyson turned 2 on Monday. Joan made her birthday cake and we went out to the lake to swim and eat cake. Happy Birthday, Mady!

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Tuning the Rig: A Journey to the Arctic

Tuning the Rig by Harvey Oxenhorn was my reading list selection for April.
Harvey Oxenhorn chronicled in journal form his voyage from Boston, Massachusetts to Jakobshavn, Greenland on board the Regina Maris, a tall ship first launched in 1908.

Having no experience and only book knowledge (Conrad, Melville) of sailing ships, Oxenhorn signed on as a crew-member on this ocean research ship used to study whales. His idea was that he would help somewhat as a part of the crew, but that large chunks of his days would would be spent contemplating his experiences aboard ship, collecting his thoughts and putting them on paper.

To his dismay, his captain denied his request, which - according to the captain - amounted to special privileges. The captain explained how exemptions from standing watch, serving in the galley, or any other duty was bad for the morale of the ship's crew. At first, Oxenhorn disagreed and was angry, but his book shows how his attitude and convictions slowly and steadily changed.

Whales were sought, followed, and studied, but they aren't the main story of this book. The main story is Harvey Oxenhorn's transformation from a selfish, solitary, English-major type to a man seeking the interests of his fellow crew-members and looking out for the welfare of the ship. He ended up appreciating the discipline and rigor demanded of the crew, and of the change it made in him.

Oxenhorn also had a good eye for observing where he went and what he did, and his descriptions truly make this book work as a "travel/adventure" book. Had he lived (he was killed in a head-on car collision right after this book was published) I think he might have written more books of sea-going adventures.

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