Thursday, May 4, 2023

Doggy Tales


I love this picture of our BreeBree even though it doesn't show much of her beautiful brown eyes. For months we've had her on a prescription for her allergies causing sneezing and wheezing.

It turned out that all of that really wasn't allergies. We had put off her dental for two years and when she went for it the other day they found more teeth that needed to come out. Even some of the bone in the gum had disintegrated.

Guess what? She no longer wheezes and sneezes! 


James Mason was so forlorn while she was gone that day, much more than I would've ever thought he would be as she is the one who acts the most loving. He's always too cool for Sunday school.

He whimpered for an hour after we came home without her.

To top it off, his birthday was that day and he was 13! Next month she'll be 11.


He was perfectly happy to snuggle with her when we brought her home even though what he really wanted to do was play. He was so excited and tried his best to get her to run circles like they usually do but after her meds that we managed to get down with some peanut butter, and a spoonful for him of course, all she wanted was a deep nap.

Then it was out to potty in the garden where he never left her side. She was pretty pitiful for a few days and he was very patient with her, adjusting himself to her pace.

But this morning when she gobbled her breakfast down and then tried to eat his, RH and I looked at each other and said, BreeBree's back to normal! 

And a big sigh of relief from both of us. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Bay Leaves and Bowknots and A Doughnut for Dessert


Once again trying to play catchup with planned posts, here is an early March picture of the hyacinths from our garden. 

And three books I recently enjoyed.

 I featured the middle one in the stack, Confessions of A Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado at my other blog, Dewena's Window link here.

The second one, The Quality of Mercy (1963) is the latest book by Margaret Culkin-Browning that I've read (others here)

 Honestly, I didn't enjoy this book as much as the other ones by Culkin-Browning although I do love the writing of this author who lived at her estate called Friendly Hills in Tyron, North Carolina until her death at 92 years old. I think her later books were on social consciousness themes and they have begun to pale on me. I don't like my novels wrapped up into a social consciousness package anymore. After decades of reading serious subjects, now  in my dotage I just need to read a relaxing book. 

There was only one paragraph in this book that called my name and kind of shows what I enjoy reading now.

 Leaving America for "war-blitzed London to serve the displaced and dispossessed," Pamela falls in love with an Englishman and goes home with him to meet his mother who shows her to her bedroom. 

She closed the door of the Jade Room and left Pamela alone. It was named because of the color of the velvety rug, the faded green of the wallpaper, and the leaf green outside the opened casements carried on the harmony. Guests who surely had been comfortable here had almost worn through the pattern of bowknots and bay leaves on the linen slipcovers of the chairs, had softened the cushions on the rosewood sofas and made it necessary to mend the silk coverlet on the bed. It seemed to Pamela that the room accepted her, offered comfort.

See what I mean? Give me a whole book of an English country home and I'm happy. 

Now this last book, Full Cry (2003), beckoned to me at Goodwill because I used to read Rita Mae Brown's other Sister Jane's Virginia Jefferson Hunt club mysteries, such as Outfoxed and Hotspur. I also have read her Mrs. Murphy mystery series too.

 Brown's Sister Jane--her nickname, not her religious calling--is the 70 year old hunt master, at one with her horse and loving the hounds with a passion. 

In know, I know, the poor fox. RH and I love them too and leave food out for ours but I block that out when reading these mysteries because Rita Mae's wise foxes talk to each other and are elusive heroes in the books. The hounds and horses talk to each other too and no, it's not corny any more than her cat and dachshund talking in her other series is.  Not to Rita Mae Brown's faithful fans.

This is what draws me:

The American way of hunting, most particularly in the South, involved manners, hospitality, and strict attention to the pleasure of one's guests.

And truthfully, I enjoy the food, especially the Hunt Breakfast.

Three different types of grits, succulent ham, roast turkey, and a joint of beef crowded on the long hunt table, along with salads, breads, hot buttered carrots, squash and the ubiquitous deviled eggs. The special dessert consisted of a hot glazed doughnut with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream plopped in the middle, fudge sauce drizzled over that.

Lord have mercy, this breakfast lover would be in line around the Jefferson Hunt Breakfast table.

If I could ride a horse in my 70s. 

If I could afford to join a Virginia hunt club. 

If it didn't involve killing foxes.

If, if, if.

Otherwise I'll sit in a sunny corner and read about Sister Jane and hope she doesn't break her neck before her next birthday.


"You know, Jane, I think aging is a return to your true self" her close friend Tedi tells her.

 I think so too so let the foxes talk. 




Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Dumping some pictures of my winter meals on my blog.

Spring is here, which means Tennessee weather can't make up its mind. Three nights of hard freeze means the buds on our one lilac bush are freezer burned and probably the crabapple trees out front.

It seemed a good idea to cut some of the beautiful spring bulbs before 17 degree lows arrived. 


I wish so much that I had our daughter's talent for arranging beautiful vase bouquets but I usually just plonk them in. These went right on the dining table where  we can enjoy them at meals and on the bathroom sink in the old Jersey Farms milk bottle that has held my bathroom bouquets for decades.

Now that I've shown some pretties I'll slip in this one of raw New York strip steaks because I have a whole winter of meals I took pictures of and never got around to using. My apologies to my vegetarian friends!

I fix less and less beef these days but twice this winter Publix had their Greenwise strip steaks on sale and this is my simple way of prepping them, whether cooked inside in a black skillet or if RH grills them out. I salt and pepper them, rub with brown sugar and leave them uncovered in fridge on an old enamel pan for 24 hours.

The steaks always have to have mushrooms (Shitake are my favorite) and this time I remembered to get a log of my tarragon butter out of the freezer to top them with.

And yes we both like it medium well now. When we were first married I would order steak rare and love every bloody bite. I don't know what happened. And I always try to have fresh parsley simply because I learned years ago from James Beard that mushrooms need to be topped with acres of fresh parsley.

And I try to remember to drizzle on a little of this balsamic reduction sauce that is wonderful on so many things, just a little sugar stirred into balsamic vinegar and cook till reduced. I don't use my expensive balsamic for this.

My life is becoming all about simple meals now so if we have hot bread with steak we don't have potatoes, and vice versa.


But there always has to be a salad. (I love the taste that a little bit of heavy cream gives when stirred into a vinaigrette.)

That is, unless there's fresh asparagus and Mama is too tired to make a salad. (And if there's no fresh parsley on hand, oh I miss my big summer pots of herbs on my kitchen porch!)

 Most of the time RH and I both leave enough steak on our plates to make hash for an easy supper the next night.

With enough potatoes and onions and all the leftover mushrooms and drippings from the steak pan the night before (the tails, Tamar Adler calls these little spoonfuls left in the pan), it doesn't take much meat to make a good meal for two. 

But always a salad, even a thrown together one.

By the way, have you ever tried Stonewall Kitchen's Country Ketchup? It is so good and no high fructose corn syrup in it.

Most of our meals though are either chicken or fish/seafood. Pacific Wild caught sockeye salmon is almost always in my freezer, from Costco, and I have a dozen ways of fixing it. This looks like one of my easy ones.

You probably can't see much of it in the picture above but I'm using my Wallace LaReine wedding silver there after hearing on a food podcast that a study showed that when people ate their meals with heavy silver they enjoyed their meal more. So maybe we should use our good stuff for our everyday meals, right? I keep a place setting for two on an easy to grab shelf in my china cabinet now--not that I always remember to get them out.

Here's one of my favorite recipes, Shrimp with Scallions and Orzo.

It may not look very pretty because a food stylist I'm not, but it is delicious. Here's a link to the recipe. 

And here's what I add to Bon Appetit's recipe:

a tablespoon of soy sauce

a bottle of clam juice

fresh chopped cilantro 

red pepper flakes

a teaspoon of tumeric

a little vegetable broth to make it a little more risotto like

and lemon to squeeze over it

It's so good cold the next day for lunch too!

You can tell how exciting my life is now when I dump a bunch of meal pictures on my blog with no real story to go with them so thank you to anyone who read through this.

Actually, I have a bunch more. About a half dozen of Tieghan's Half Baked Harvest recipes that I've made this winter. Maybe I'll share them at Dewena's Window soon. 

Many thanks to blog friend Melanie for leading me to Tieghan on Instagram! Melanie, have you listened to The Skinny Confidential podcast where Tieghan was guest? She was delightful! When I learned that she's a Gilmore Girls fan I knew we had one thing in common. That's a start, right?

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

One Writer's Way by Elizabeth Yates plus a dessert

 I've been interested in Elizabeth Yates ever since I added one of her children's books to my vintage Christmas book collection many years ago. If you collect vintage Christmas books, her Once in the Year: A Christmas Story, published in 1947,  would be a charming book to add. Here's an old blog picture of mine showing it, with apologies for the blurriness.


I was happy to find one of Yates' autobiographies, One Writer's Way, published in 1984, an autographed copy, about her life between 1931 and 1951. It begins with the time she and her husband, both Americans, lived in England where she tries to find her writing path.

They settle in London, in the Kensington area in an old Huguenot house. This interested me because RH's mother's people on her father's side were French Huguenots who came to the United States and eventually settled in Texas long ago.

Yates explains that French Huguenots settled in London in the 1800s and built houses with timber sash windows and decorative brickwork, living on the second floor, their weaving business products sold on the ground floor, and looms on the third story with floor to ceiling windows.

Do you know the doorknobs shaped like a hand? This was the symbol of a Huguenot weaver. I was entranced with this idea and searched for one for a possible gift for RH. How about this one that's only $700 on Etsy? Not going to happen but isn't it stunning?

By the way, I learned that the correct French pronuciation of Huguenot does not pronounce the ending "t" but rather "not" is pronounced "noh."

Elizabeth Yates and her husband William McGreal, also an author and published photographer illustrating books, loved England where they felt that the "national difference" between the United States and England was that "in America one must be doing, in England being seemed more important."

In 1936 when King George died, McGreal took a photograph of two mourners, one man who looked as if he were a duke and beside him a "shabby little man." McGreal won first prize for the photograph in a large newspaper's competition.

The couple went to Scotland for a photographic project on the island of Skye where they were enchanted with the scenery and the people. One local man assured them one morning on starting out that it was "a pet of a day." Don't you just love that? And naturally this reminded me of the British detective series Vera where she calls everyone, friends and suspects, Pet. Do you watch Vera? She's a favorite of ours. 

As war looms in Europe Elizabeth and Bill return to the United States with other ex-pats and they make their way to Peterborough, New Hampshire to search for months for an old farmhouse and as much land as they can afford. They finally buy a 1789 house and 67 acres of fields and woods. No plumbing, no electricity. 

In 1980, Elizabeth Yates gave the house, outbuildings, and land to a trust for the Shieling State Forest, with money for its care.

During the years in Peterborough, Yates wrote many books, consistently writing 2,500 words before noon each day, in addition to  being a plane spotter in WW II. One book that won the Newberry Award was her Amos Fortune, Free Man about a resident in Jaffrey, New Hampshire who had once been enslaved.

I loved the stories in this book about her writing years and also about her husband who lost his sight during those years in New Hampshire but gave so much of his life to teaching the blind. To give you an idea of the woman, Elizabeth Yates, here is a touching tribute written by her husband:

Elizabeth is tall and slender. She has a stout heart and a strong body. Her hair is as brown as her eyes. She likes tweeds, salads, mountain climbing, reading aloud, spaghetti, lively discussion, animals, house guests. She dislikes frills, waste, taking taxis, gossip. She has no feeling for arithmetic and her interest in domestic mechanics is nil. She has plenty of courage, a strong faith and a native expectancy of good. Living with her is a high adventure.

Now that is a fine tribute from a husband.

Here is a recipe I made after reading the autobiography, French Huguenot Torte, not from Elizabeth Yates who was not interested in domestic mechanics but from one of my Eugene Walters cookbooks, American Cooking: Southern Style, a large beautiful book full of the history of Southern cookery and recipes.

 Walters writes of the French Huguenots influence that remains in Charleston, South Carolina, port of entry for many of the emigrants. In the Battery you see architecture reminiscent of the Huguenot influence, "overhanging balconies, stuccoed walls, hipped roofs, convex roofing tiles, all common features of the Huguenot centers in France."

Walters admits that the French Huguenot Torte is a recipe that many first called Ozark Pudding. All I know is that it is very good. Rather than type out Walters' recipe, I found a link to one very similar except for some slight change in amounts of ingredients. 

See Sara Moulton's recipe here. 

Here's a picture of my Huguenot Torte, chock full of Granny Smith apples...

Have you ever made this or eaten it somewhere? I am a lover of apple desserts. Are you?

I hope you have a pet of a day!


Sunday, January 22, 2023

Testing...problem with signing into my blogs


One thing or another has kept me away from blogging these last few weeks and today both blogs told me to sign in.

When I tried to on Dewena's Window it took me here only, to my Across the Way blog, which also says sign in but does seem to be allowing me to create a new post.

So I'll hit publish and see if it shows up. If it does I still can't access Dewena's Window to try to post.

Problems always! And I had promised myself I would start trying to post on Instagram but if I can't even figure this out, what next?

I've missed blogging so much! But perhaps it's beyond me now.

Here goes, hitting Publish to see what happens.

Friday, December 16, 2022

A Pretty Failure


Isn't this Cranberry-Orange Christmas Bread pretty?


I baked it, same as I did three Decembers ago.

I got out pretty plates and old silver and my favorite vintage Christmas tea towel. Lit a candle, borrowed a few old Christmas trees from my Christmas forest.

Set it all up for pictures with a sinking feeling in my heart because last time I made it the batter rose and rose. 

This one didn't. Still, I covered it with the glaze and thought,

     It'll probably taste good anyway.

I took my pictures. We sat down to eat the cake that fell but was going to taste yummy anyway.

Only it didn't.

The resident skunks and possums got the soggy mess and I got the dirty dishes from making it. 

But it was pretty, wasn't it? And I am going to make it again!

It's from Romantic Homes magazine, December 2015. I couldn't find a link to the recipe or any other recipes that came close to the ingredients but if it turns out well the next time I make it I'll post the recipe here.

Whatever happened to Romantic Homes magazine anyway?

Have you ever had a pretty failure?



Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The Man and The Turkey


The man above is my father, the picture probably taken either by my mother or one of my sisters who sent it to me.

I believe he loved Thanksgiving Day better than any other holiday, except maybe Easter. 

Of course it was my mother who planned and prepared the food and the table for all holidays. Wish I had a Thanksgiving Day picture of her for here. 

They were a great cooking team, especially when he was cooking outside. He was a superb outdoor cook, both on his grill or his smoker.  

I actually don't remember Daddy washing dishes as they accumulated on Thanksgiving Day in the kitchen. It was a different time then; sorry RH, you missed out on that.

But he was always in the kitchen helping Mama that day, after he'd come home from cooking at the Men's Breakfast at church where he'd fried the stacks of country ham slices for the crowd. 

One of my treasured memories is being outside with clippers on a cold dark day, gathering snippets of shrubbery for the table centerpiece, and looking up to the kitchen window and seeing Daddy and Mama working together in the kitchen, and my younger sisters through the glass door to the den, maybe watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on television. 

It was one of those rare moments as a teenager when my thoughts turned from my own important personal world to seeing my family as I would a Rembrandt painting--a lump in my throat, struck by the beauty of them all. 

The picture of Daddy above, with Mama's traditional Thanksgiving dishes set around the turkey he was about to carve, strikes me the same way right now and makes me miss this man so very much. It was a Thanksgiving when they lived a great distance away from RH and me and our family so I was not there. 

I'm thankful this day before Thanksgiving Day for the years I was there with my mother and father and three younger sisters.