Thursday, May 31, 2012

Another great novel by Linda Francis Lee

The Devil in the Junior League is another wacky look at the snooty, obnoxious world of Texas society women.  Frede Hildebrand is the perfect Junior League woman living her live according to the written and unwritten rules of Texas society.  And then her husband has an affair, steals her money and flees the country.  Frede tries to hide her disasters and maintain her place in society.  She goes to Howard Grout, her loud, no class neighbour who also happens to be the most aggressive lawyer in the county.  Howard agrees to help Frede track down her no-good-husband, retrieve her fortune and save her place in society . . . under one condition . . . Frede must groom his other-side-of-the-tracks wife, Nikki, and get her into the Junior League.

This novel is wacky funny.  And lessons are learned.  And there is a happy ending.  I recommend this novel as a great summer read.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chicken Parmigiana

Image result for chicken parmigiana

2 servings
220 g chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, cut into thin cutlets
1 egg
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tbsp bread crumbs
2/3 cup My Mother's Tomato Sauce (recipe below)
2 bocconcini/fresh mozzarella
1-1/2 tbsp canola oil
salt and ground pepper to taste

Spread the tomato sauce into the bottom of a baking dish.

Slice each breast horizontally into thin cutlets.  Flatten the cutlets between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and tenderize them using a meat pounder or rolling pin.

Beat the egg in one shallow dish and combine bread crumbs and grated Parmesan in the other.  Dip one chicken cutlet at a time in the egg, let the excess egg drip off before coating the cutlet with the bread crumbs mixture.  Turn the cutlets to coat both sides.

Heat the oil in a skillet on medium heat.  Saute the chicken cutlets 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer to the baking dish, placing them side by side on top of the tomato sauce.  Top each cutlet with a thin slice of mozzarella.

Preheat the broiler.  Broil the cutlets about 10 cm from the heat source 6-8 minutes, until the cheese is melted and lightly browned in spots.

Serve on warmed plates with pasta, veg or rice.

My Mother's Tomato Sauce

Makes 2-1/2 cups

1-/23 cups canned diced tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 carrot, finely chopped
1/4 salt celery, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1-1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Heat the oil and butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Add the chopped vegetables.  Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring a few times.  The vegetables must soften without burning.  Add the diced tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste.

This sauce can be stored up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.  Freeze larger quantities.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Soap Operas x 10

I read The Ex-debutante a while back and I can still remember the story so vividly.  Do you love soap operas?  Well this book is soap operas x 10!!

Carlisle comes from old Texas money.  Raised as a southern belle, she becomes a Texas debutante.  Carlisle becomes a divorce lawyer, flees the rigid rules of old rich Texas society for Boston and becomes engaged to a . . . Yankee!

When her mother needs a lawyer to divorce her latest husband while keeping a deep secret deep, Carlisle comes home.  It doesn't take long to be drawn back into the society and rules she had fled.

At the end of the day Carlisle learns a lot about herself and learns the family secrets that her family had tried to keep secret.

This book is funny, over the top funny.  Linda Francis Lee knows this world well and writes about it in an exaggerated way to enhance the crazy rules required to be part of the Texas debutante world.  I recommend it highly for a good light summer read.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cilantro-flavoured Pork Chops with Mushrooms

This is one of the best grilled pork chop recipes I've ever tried!  The mushrooms weren't too exciting though.

For 2 servings

1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 green onions/scallions, finely chopped
1-1/2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped, plus some whole leaves for garnish
2 tbsp. fish sauce (nam pla)
2-1/2 tbsp lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 tbsp. soy sauce, low-sodium
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tbsp. sesame seed oil
1/2 tbsp. whiskey
2 pork chops with bones or boneless
4 Portobello mushrooms
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 shallot
1/2 dried chili peppers, to taste
2 tsp. cornstarch.

Finely chop the garlic, half of the scallions and half of the cilantro leaves, then put them in a shallow dish.  Pour in 1/4 of the fish sauce and 1/4 of the lime juice, the whole soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and whiskey.  Arrange the pork chops in the dish, turning them a couple times to cover well with the marinade.  Cover the dish with plastic wrap, then let marinate in the refrigerator 1-2 hours, or overnight.

Place the pork chops on an oiled medium-hot grill.  Cook about 10 minutes, turning them once, and brush them occasionally with the marinade while cooking.

Prepare the mushrooms, brush them with a little canola oil and place them on the grill.  Cook about 2 minutes, turning them once.  Alternatively, put the pork chops and the mushrooms on the rack of a broiler pan then cook them in the oven under a preheated broiler 7-10 cm from the heat.

While the meat is cooking, heat the remaining canola oil in a small frying pan over medium heat.  Chop the shallots, add them to the pan and saute about 2 minutes.  Add the minced chili pepper, cornstarch, the remaining fish sauce and lime juice.  Cook 1 minute with stirring.

Transfer the pork chops and mushrooms to individual serving plates and spoon the sauce over them. Garnish with a few cilantro leaves and remaining chopped scallions.


Spinach and Mushroom Salad

For 2 servings

7 cups baby spinach (120 g)
6 button (white) mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. lemon, freshly squeezed
1/2 orange, pressed and zested
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
salt and ground pepper to taste

Prepare the spinach and put it in a large bowl.  Set aside

Prepare the mushrooms by thinly slicing them and transferring them to a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper and pour in half of the lemon juice.  Set aside.

Grate half of the orange to obtain the zest, then juice it.  Put the zest and juice into a small bowl.  Pour in the remaining lemon juice, mustard and oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste, then beat well using a fork, until the vinaigrette is emulsified.  Pour the vinaigrette over the spinach.

Peel the remaining orange, cut into small pieces and add to the spinach.  Add the mushrooms and toss well.  Serve.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It's official . . . and 20% off . . . WOO HOO!

I received my first royalty cheque today . . . WOO HOO! It's not huge but it certainly is nice. I think I can call myself a professional writer now . . . LOL

To CELEBRATE, I have dropped the price on all my books by 20% until Friday at midnight. I hope you'll order at least one.

See the tab at the top of my blog that says Book Store?  Just click to see them all.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

New Year's Day project

So I had this scathingly brilliant idea ** that each of us would create a layout with our New Year Resolutions.  First I had to explain what resolutions were . . .

The next part of the plan was a photo of each of us on January 1st, 2012 to add to our resolution layouts.

Have you noticed who is missing . . . sigh ??

**scathingly brilliant comes from an old movie The Trouble with Angels**

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cut-throat Monopoly

Grandpa and I volunteered to have the boys for a sleep over on New Year's Eve.  We spent the night eating lots of snacks and making pizza; watching movies; and playing a serious game of Monopoly.  Love these photos.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Day at the Beach in Port Stanley ON

Preparations are nearly completed for "A Day at the Beach" Letterboxing Mini-Meet in beautiful Port Stanley, Ontario. The Little Blue Team (our grandsons) have been busy carving a series of stamps which they will be planting themselves (with supervision of course) and it sounds like the clues will be kind of tricky. The boys had a great time at the Box ON event at Rockwood last year and want to use some of the ciphers they learned there in their clues. Grandpa and I have also been busy. We hope you will enjoy the locale and some of the surprises we have in store for you.

I doubt if it will be warm enough to swim, but you just never know, I could be wrong. There are tons of amazing things to do in this picturesque little village . . . AND we will be planting letterboxes near many of these wonderful sites.

The clues to all our boxes will go "live" at midnight on June 16th. To pick up a copy of the clues and a goodie bag full of local information and maps, meet up with us at our surprise secret location between 8 - 10 am. Clues to find our secret location will be posted a week before the event to give you a chance to figure it out. Don't worry, it will be easy and fun. The event stamp will be at this secret location.

We WILL NOT be having a potluck lunch. Bring a picnic basket if you wish but we recommend Mackie's on the Beach for fabulous fast food and world-famous Orangeade (which is still a family secret to this day) and homemade fry sauce . The condiments at Mackie's are so delicious you could put them on cardboard and eat them . . . but the hamburgs and hot dogs are fabulous too!! The Big Blue Team will be there for lunch at 1 pm and hope to get a group photo at that time.

We will be doing personal exchanges a little bit differently this year. Each participant will be given a little pin to wear on their shirt. Watch for these pins as you wander through the village searching for letterboxes and swap stamped images as you meet.

If you are planning to stay for the weekend why not purchase tickets to the Port Stanley Festival Theatre. And don't forget all the boxes planted in London, St. Thomas and Elgin County. If you need help with accommodation suggestions please give us a shout.

Hope to see you at the beach,
Big Blue Team

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Christmas Socks

Austin is soooooooo excited to open his package of socks!!

Every year since the beginning of our family we have always made sure that each boy's Christmas stocking contained socks, underwear, an orange and a candy cane.  My sons are now all grown up but every year I continued this tradition . . . until the year they made fun of the oranges.  So I stopped giving them oranges.  One year they made fun of the socks and underwear so the next year I stopped giving them as well.  I was surprised that they were disappointed not to get socks and underwear that sad Christmas morning.  Their reasoning was that they counted on those presents every year.  Traditions can take the weirdest forms.  I guess they better not make fun of their socks and underwear anymore.  Now I have two girls to buy for and they can expect socks every Christmas as well.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Popeyes Chicken review

We asked our grandson where he wanted to go for lunch last week and he wanted Popeyes.  I'm surprised Grandpa agreed.  We've heard several bad reviews for the St. Thomas Ontario restaurant and Grandpa hates spicy.  But he did agree.

I ordered popcorn shrimp combo, Grandpa ordered 2 pc chicken combo and T ordered the chicken bowl.

We got our drinks and waited for our names to be called to pick up our order.  When the food arrived it was hot and delicious and fresh.  And by hot I mean temperature.  The mild is nice and mild.

Hal and I really enjoyed our chicken.  Yep, that's right.  I got chicken.  I thought about complaining and waiting for my shrimp but I would have been eating my lunch while Hal and T were finished.  So I ate my chicken.

I would go back again in a minute.  And so would Hal.  But next time I will double check my order before I sit down.  And I wouldn't order the mac and cheese -- tasted like KD.  My favourite part is that Hal does not like tea biscuits so I got mine and his.  I love biscuits.  T was not fussy about his chicken bowl.  He added extra sour cream and lots of ketchup, determined to eat it.  T likes spicy but did not like the spicy gravy.

King's Buffet review

photo taken December 2010

I haven't been to King's Buffet (St. Thomas ON) in almost a year since they got a new manager.  One reason is that Hal isn't home much so I don't go out to eat as often.  The second reason is because I did order in a couple of times and noticed the food wasn't nearly as good quality as it used to be.  One time the pan-fried noodles didn't even have soy sauce -- it was bland, white and dry.  I added soy sauce and it was okay.  The next time I ordered the lemon chicken was petrified.  That time I made them send out a new order free.  The third reason is that a year ago Christmas we all bought the new customer card.  We didn't get 12 months use of the card even though we paid full price.  A friend and I were going to go in for lunch in October but when they wouldn't let us use our customer card we left.  King's Buffet has been my husband's favourite restaurant since it opened here.  Even he refused to go anymore.

Okay so now you've heard everything that I know of that has been wrong at King's Buffet for the last year.

Let me tell you what I noticed when Hal and I went for supper there last week.  I'd been thinking about going ever since I saw the new management sign go up and we finally had a chance to go.  The hostess was friendly.  And then we saw the new manager.  It was the original manager.  We began to feel more confident about our decision.  We were offered two tables and chose the window table.  Our server came over quickly and took our drink orders.  I noticed that none of the servers we knew so well were there.  All the servers were new.  Did the originals quit during the past year?

We waited a little while for our drinks and then decided to go pick our first course.  The food looked good and tasted good.  We had finished eating our salads (okay Hal goes right for the hot food but I like the salad bar and sushi) and still didn't have our drinks or even a glass of water.  I called the hostess over and asked for our drinks.  A short time later our drinks finally arrived.  What never left was our empty plates which remained stacked on the table until after we left.  I only left a small tip.

At the door the manager chatted with us for a minute or two and then slipped us a complimentary lunch card to make up for the slow service.

So here's my final review -- the food quality and variety has improved since last year.  The servers need some training.  We will go back.