Wednesday, October 18, 2017

This one's for you, Tammy!

In my recent attempt to purge old emails, I accidentally deleted one from my dear blog friend Tammy. When you told Poppy and me about loving an old 1962 movie called "Rome Adventure" I remembered that I had once written a rough draft for a blog post on the very same movie, just another example over the years of the many books and movies we both love. 

Some of what we both love can be classified as great literature or classic movies. Rome Adventure isn't one of them, is it Tam? But we both have to watch it every time it runs on TCM. So here's my old notes on it, that never made it into a blog post. Please add yours to it, Tam, the things you wrote about in the email I accidentally deleted. 

Because, who says a blog post can't be an email, right? I'm becoming more of a blogger who chooses to make her own rules about her own blog. On with it...

"Rome Adventure," starring Troy Donahue and Suzanne Pleshette. Sorry, Suzanne, you were mostly forgettable in your role as Prudence. If Natalie Wood had not dropped out at the last minute, maybe Prudence would have stood out better in my memories of this movie. This movie for me is all about Troy. Well, Troy and Italy.

What girl didn't have a crush on Troy in 1962? Even being a newlywed I still retained my crush. When he appears on the Rome scene in light colored slacks, a red v-neck sweater and white dress shirt, collar open...let's just say there was no way I was turning this movie off. I mean, how Troy Donahue was that outfit!

By the way, do you remember him and Sandra Dee in "A Summer Place"? Where he and Sandra are holidaying on an island with their families and meet, fall in love and she gets--(whisper) pregnant? One of my favorite chic flicks of the early 60s!

Back to Rome: there's Angie Dickinson who tries to keep her twisted clutches on Troy during the whole movie. She is at her most beautiful, mysterious, cruel best in the movie. She reminds me of Mad Men's January Jones in her first season on the show. Didn't Angie have her gorgeous legs insured back then for $1 mil by Lloyd's of London?

Another memorable female character is Daisy, the American who owns a bookshop in Rome. There's a whole movie waiting to be written expanding her intriguing part, don't you think, Tam? And I loved seeing Constance Ford play her part because it helps me think of her sympathetically rather than as the frigid bitch mother of Sandra Dee in A Summer Place, which she did masterfully well. 

Rossano Brazzi, another heartthrob, is Roberto before he inspired Mitzi Gaynor to wash that man right out of her hair. His memorable quote from Rome Adventure:

"Woman's most important function in life is to anchor man."

Good grief, and double gag!

But the man is one handsome Italian sophisticate in this movie. I mean, Rossano Brazzi and Troy Donahue? With those two, it doesn't even matter that Al Hirt wasn't handsome. He is funny in his small cameo part and does he ever play that trumpet!

And then there's the song, right, Tam? I fell in love with "Al Di La" as sung by Emillo Pericoli and I know you did too, as per the accidentally deleted email.

Italy and the music were the actual stars of this film. 

And Troy Donahue. Sigh.........

Tammy, maybe we can take some Italian classes like our Greek Goddess and her daughter?

I wonder how old Troy Donahue is now?

Friday, October 13, 2017

"Wild thing, you make my heart sing"

Happy Anniversary to my wild man!

We were young marrieds when England's The Troggs
gave us this 1966 version of Wild Thing......

" make my heart sing.
You make everything groovy.
Wild thing,
I think I love you."

Even in high school I was attracted to this guy
who I thought was a hood.

All these years later I'm still in love with this man
who thankfully is not a bit prissy,
but is still a bit of a wild thing.

Where all our neighbors mow their lawn like it's a 
G.I. haircut, my man didn't think twice before 
agreeing to my request for a large patch left wild.

At first grasses just grew to seed there.

Soon other wild things grew.

You might call them weeds,
I call them wild things.

My man stood up to the power company who wanted
to cut down a long length of hedgerow
that gave us privacy from the road.

It is there that wild roses grow among cedars.
Blackberries thrive and seed pods form.

Deer already nest in our wild garden,
rabbits run safely out and in again.

A strange thing happened during our first summer
here at our new home.

At first RH brought home bright colorful annuals,
oranges, reds, yellows.

I picked out blues and purples and whites,
perennials whenever possible.

By August, after I'd a thousand times pointed out
how much more pleasing my colors looked
with this old 1935 cottage than his,
I think he began to come around,
without even realizing it--
and honestly, isn't that the best way where 
husbands are concerned?

He came home with 12 pots of these...

He had fallen in love with Northern Sea Oats.
I did too. 

You'd have to be there to appreciate them.
They whisper when the wind blows,
they move gracefully,
nodding and waving as we sit by them.

They're planted all through the new butterfly
garden RH built for me,
to see from my big kitchen window over the sink.

But one plant went in an old pot from the old house
that had lost its bottom.

He planted purple butterfly bushes and purple lantana
 and the butterflies came to flutter and feed.

I chose one white coneflower that he insisted
would die but it hasn't.
Next year I want more of these because
the butterflies and bees love it too.

There's still far too much mulched area
that I hope will gradually shrink as the plants spread.
My wild man has still not given up his mulch
obsession from his early garden center days.

Both of us are now obsessed with Autumn Joy,
only one plant went in the butterfly garden but it has
been so lovely as it's turned from white to pink
and now in October to red,
that we will transplant the three that went in the
front garden here next spring,
where the deer won't be able to get to them.

The previous owners had already planted four 
varieties of ornamental grasses around the property,
and they are tasseling pretty now.

So we have added to them with others.

Because I think I've convinced my wild man
that it is these kinds of subtle earthy plants that suit our
1935 cottage that is far from a dainty storybook one.

When all but two rooms and the bathroom are
paneled in 11 inch knotty pine boards,
ceilings too,
this is not a dainty cottage.

It is an earthy one,
home to a wild man and his wife.

Excuse me while I go wake him up and ask him
if he's forgotten that he promised me a path
and small terrace by the butterfly garden
out of that stack of Tennessee Crab Orchard Stone
that's been sitting there for a month now.

Otis, would you remind him of that?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Neighbors & Squash Casserole

We have the best neighbors.

Glen brought us a sack of late summer garden gifts that became our whole supper.....

           with the addition of a pot of pinto beans.

The squash became a casserole, a recipe I usually only make for Thanksgiving Day.

There was just enough okra for fried okra for two.

Although we even finished off this large pan of okra earlier in the season from RH's brother Bill's garden. What can I say? We love okra! And I chop a green tomato in it if I have one.

Which reminds me, I've always fried okra in a black iron skillet until this summer when I read never to do that. What heresy was this? But I tried using my All-Clad pans for it and it does keep a prettier color.

Glen's cherry tomatoes became a small salad for us, combined with jalapeno and herbs from my kitchen porch garden, and a scallion.

And there we had the kind of supper that RH and I both love.

Thank you, neighbor!

"The impersonal hand of government can never
replace the helping hand of a neighbor."
Hubert H. Humphrey

I've heard and seen so many stories of neighbors helping neighbors after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma struck. This may be the saving grace during the coming difficult weeks for those who try to rebuild their houses and their lives. I think Hubert would approve.

Just in case, and to save it for the family cookbook a son and daughter-in-law requested from me several years ago and that I might actually pull together some day, here is my recipe for Squash Casserole.

1 1/2 pounds yellow squash, washed, ends cut off and sliced. Cook in salted water, 
          drain and mash.

1 onion, chopped and sauteed in butter till soft.

Mix onion into 1 can of cream of chicken soup and 1 can cream of celery soup.
     [I know, no one admits to cooking with Campbell soups anymore.]

Add 1 tiny jar of pimento and stir into squash.

Stir in grated cheddar cheese, however much you want.

Add 1 cup of sour cream.

Stir in 1/2 small package Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing.

Pour into casserole dish and top with remainder of the Pepperidge stuffing.

Top with pats of butter and sprinkle with paprika.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or more.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Happy Birthday, Patsy Cline

You gave us so many beautiful songs in such a short time.

In only 30 years your memorable voice
gave us classics such as

I Fall to Pieces


Walkin' After Midnight

She's Got You

and my personal favorite, Sweet Dreams of You.

I often indulge in the "what ifs" about you, Patsy.

What if you had driven home on March 5, 1963
instead of flying?

What if the pilot had heeded bad weather warnings?

What if........

Today I will listen to you sing and then I will drive
a few miles and slowly pass by your home.

And maybe fall asleep tonight with your
Sweet Dreams playing in my mind.

Happy Birthday, Patsy,
we miss you!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

"I Like Breakfast"

"Mornings I like best...

Breakfast is altogether the best meal of the day.

I like breakfast!"

David Grayson in
Countryman's Year

You won't catch me arguing with Mr. Grayson.

I like breakfast best too,
and it doesn't always have to mean eggs or oatmeal.

If I have some leftover chicken or beef in the fridge,
or a little pork tenderloin,
breakfast is a cinch.

Sliced potatoes and onions go in the pan first,
slivers of meat go next and breakfast is ready
with some salsa, fruit and toast.


and Hers.

That's how we like to start our mornings.

Friday, July 21, 2017

"MWAH" and Cauliflower Cheese Pie


Anyone else remember the kiss that Dinah Shore ended every show with?

I was in front of our first television set the whole hour when Dinah Shore was live on NBC in the evening, beginning in 1951, and didn't miss many until her show ended in 1961. I think I knew every word of "See the USA in Your Chevrolet" that she sang during each show.

After all, Nashville claimed her since she moved here when she was in the 5th grade and went on to graduate from Vanderbilt University in 1938, the school's first Jewish cheerleader. 

I remain a Dinah Shore fan and use her cookbook constantly. One of my favorite recipes is for her daughter Melissa's Cauliflower Cheese Pie. I'm not crazy about cauliflower, folks. I'm a potato lover. But this pie has a potato crust. 


I made two of these pies on July 4th, using goat cheese and lactose free milk for RH's, so I almost doubled Dinah's recipe.

First I went to my pots of herbs on the kitchen porch and picked a big bunch of herbs, basil, parsley and thyme. Washed them and the cauliflower.

Then grated a pile of peeled russet potatoes. I don't have room on my kitchen counters to keep my food processor out now so decided to do these by hand, only took about 20 minutes.

Put them in a colander to let moisture drip out while preparing the vegetables. 

Chop an onion for the filling and grate an extra 1/4th cup of onion to add to the potatoes for the crust. 

Melt butter in a skillet and add the chopped onion to cook while you cut the cauliflower in small florets. Mince a clove or two of garlic and chop your herbs.

Add the cauliflower, garlic and herbs to the onions.

Add salt and fresh ground black pepper if you wish--I do. Cauliflower is bland and needs seasoning. Cook the cauliflower mixture, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Oil or grease a 9" pie pan. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the potatoes and grated onion in a bowl, stir in 1 egg, beaten. 

Then build your potato crust with your fingers, pressing up along side of pie pan as well as the bottom. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake about 40 minutes, I got my small one too brown. It does have to cook again later and will brown more then.

Mix your custard: 2 eggs, beaten and 1/4 cup milk, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

Spread about 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese in bottom of crust, pour the cooked cauliflower mix on top of the cheese, top with about 3/4 cup more grated cheese on top.

Then pour the custard on top of that and dust with paprika.

Bake 35-40 minutes or until set. 

That last picture was terrible but the Cauliflower Cheese Pie was delicious!

What other recipes are favorites of mine from The Dinah Shore Cookbook?

A to-die-for Salmon Mousse on Molded Cucumber Salad

Sea Sandwiches that take tuna fish out of the ordinary

Oliver's Potatoes

Toad in the Hole

Broccoli Rice Casserole

Picadillo with Rice and Black Beans

Spanish Rice, I could make a meal on this

Breads, breads, breads and a sourdough recipe almost as good as Mama's

Desserts, desserts, desserts

In addition to great recipes, there are little tidbits about her friends,
        like Telly. Do you remember Telly Savalas? "Who loves ya, baby?"

I loved Telly and his family recipe for Avgolemono is in this cookbook,
          pure comfort food.

I sometimes wonder about the label "comfort food." I mean, shouldn't all food be comfort food. If any food is not comfort food I think we need to find a way to make it better. 

A salad can be made awesome enough to be comfort food.

Even bran muffins can be comfort food--put streusel topping on it, for pete's sake! 

Should food be a chore to eat? What do you say? I say heaven forbid!

I bet Dinah would agree with me.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Pond With No Name

"So many people who go afield for enjoyment

leave it behind them at home."

David Grayson in A Countryman's Year

I don't think I will ever take this view for granted.

When I let Otis and Milo out every morning
I look at it.

When I wash dishes I see it from
my kitchen window.

All through the summer day,
we watch purple martins soar above it.
We dread the day they return to Sao Paulo.

But in the fall Mr. & Mrs. Smith,
two Canadian geese,
may return to the pond.

not often enough 😉,
two little granddaughters return
to enjoy the pond.

When we've been very very good,
at the end of the day
there are watercolor sunsets
reflecting on the surface.

At dusk,
Otis and Milo, RH and I,
take one last turn around the yard
and say goodnight to the pond.

It has no name.

It is our neighbor's pond
although it is closer to our door than his,
our view of it is better than his,
and he said I could name it. 
He's so nice to share it with us.
He also brings us pecan pies and blackberries.

I hope to never leave enjoyment behind me
searching for it afield.

So much of it is here at home.

What would you name it if you were me?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Lee Bailey's Blackberry Cobbler

"Going to Lee Bailey's is like going home...
when going home is what it's cracked up to be.
It's that comfortable and welcoming."
Amy Gross

I have six of Lee Bailey's cookbooks and hope to someday own every single one.

Before there was Martha, there was Lee,
legendary lifestyle writer. 
His books make me feel exactly how Amy Gross wrote, like I've walked in his door and known immediately that there would be good conversation and good food--
all done with such ease that you know you're not a bother.

His Country Weekends was my first Lee Bailey book.

And his Peach Cobbler the first recipe I tried years ago,
best cobbler dough ever!

You use the same dough for his Blackberry Cobbler
and it's well worth passing on.

Cobbler Batter:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons frozen, unsalted butter
4 tablespoons frozen Crisco
4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

Lee suggests making the dough in a food processor but I just mix the flour and salt in a bowl and use my old little pastry cutter to cut in the butter and Crisco. Then stir in the ice water until you can form it in a ball. Either refrigerate until ready to roll out, or I go ahead and roll it out right away.

Put the whole round of dough over a large pie plate and let it hang over. You're going to just fold the excess over the top after the filling is put in.

So easy! 

And if you have a neighbor like we do who brings you fresh-picked blackberries, count your blessings.

For the blackberry filling, none is easier than Lee's:

6 cups washed blackberries
(I only had 3 cups)
3/4 cups sugar (I used less)
1/4 cup unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
Dump berries into the dough in pie pan.
Sprinkle sugar over.
Fold excess pastry over top.
Dot with pats of butter.
Sprinkle a little sugar on top of pastry.
Bake for 45 minutes, don't over brown.

Be sure to put some aluminum foil on
bottom rack to catch any spills.

The last step is to enjoy,
either with vanilla ice cream or without.

And enjoy, we did.

Blackberry Cobbler, summer is officially here!