Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Complete This Sentence

My pet peeves. A list. No, just one item. Big one though.

Sentence fragments. Drive me nuts. Doubling over. In pain. Oh, the pretentiousness!

That's why I quit The Marrowbone Marble Company by Glenn Taylor. Amazon fell in love with this book, touting it as one of the best of whatever year it came out. A story about simple people who have a good idea and start up a company sounds tempting, no? I love those kinds of stories.

But Taylor, man of fragments, came off like a rank amateur. Maybe he should try his hand at haiku.

I did, however, love running my fingers over the embossed bird wings on the book jacket.

Next up, Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain. I had my doubts. The cover was a dull gray, and no embossed bird wings to fondle.

But now I understand why Twain is famous. We have no plot here, and too many characters to remember. We're talking about a twisty, long river, for goodness sakes, and the people who pilot it and put up with its floody moods. Still, between Twain's exaggerations and his self-deprecations, he makes it all (well, most of it) quite engaging.

He begins in his boyhood, where all his little friends in Hannibal, MO, watched the steamboats chugging up and down the river. They all longed to get on those boats and Live Life. Finally, one of the Hannibal boys hired on to a boat, and when he returned to tell his adventures, to brag about how well he knew "St. Looy," they "envied him and loathed him."

You have to slow down and adopt the rhythms of yesteryear to enjoy Twain's book. But at least the man completes his sentences. I'm sorry that he's long gone. I'm sure he would have made for a most interesting dinner guest.

As for your dinner, I offer  Almond Raspberry Tossed Salad. This is for people who would rather skip vegetables and go straight to dessert. If we make the green stuff interesting enough and sweet enough, I will devour it.

We served this at the Jim's wedding "rehearsal dinner." All the new relatives got along great. I think the salad deserves the credit.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Half of That Billion is Mine, You Lout

This week, one of my Facebook friends lamented having to make menus. She hates, hates, hates it every week.

I love, love, love it! But how would it have looked if I went on her post and told her so? Neener, neener, neener?

Still, I really can't help myself. I'd rather plan and cook meals than learn how to post pictures on this blog.

So let's try something different this week. Here's our menus from the last week, with links, if I've got them (another way to get out of posting pictures--whee!).

On a Saturday night, we were signed up to share the the sister missionaries. We brought out the clamshells and packed up our family's favorite main dish, the ever gooey and sharp-tasting Skillet Mac 'n Cheese, as well as Microwave Apple Crisp.

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
1 3/4 cup (7 oz.) uncooked elbow macaroni
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/8 tsp. dry mustard
2 cups water
1 TB flour
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
2 cups (8 oz.) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

In large skillet melt butter over low heat. Add uncooked macaroni, onion and seasonings. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 7 minutes, or until onion becomes transparent. Add water; bring to boil. Cover; simmer 20 minutes or until macaroni is tender. Sprinkle flour over mixture; blend well. Stir in evaporated milk and shredded cheese. Simmer 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until cheese melts. Serve hot. Makes 6 servings, 400 cals. ea.

And for dessert:  Microwave Apple Crisp

The next day was Fast Sunday. I don't know how much credit we get for going hungry when, after the long hours pass, we gather around the table and mow through mounds of something like this (which should, by the way, go in your file of disgustingly easy main dishes):

Chicken 'n Noodles Skillet

And I do believe a certain picky-eater grandson actually ate some Orange-Glazed Carrots

On Monday, we went in for a veggie option. It's a little strange, but appeals to people who like their food gooey, and that would be me. I don't know why the peppers and onion taste so sweet in this, but they do.

Vegetable Tortilla Stack

Dessert was like a visit to the ice cream shop as we forked our way through Malted Milk Pie (didn't hurt that we had a lot of Whoppers left over either).

Tuesday night, it was time to repent of a weekend full of desserts. Fortunately, I didn't notice the deprivation, since I love Chicken Caesar Salad Pizza so much. I think it's appeared on this blog before, but it's worth the repeat.

As for Wednesday, we've also featured this recipe before, but why would I let that stop me from trotting it out again? That's why we try new things, right? So we know what we want to eat again and again? 

Honey Chicken Stir-Fry

Thursday's dinner, well, it didn't turn out as well as I remember. I think I got a little free with the dill weed this time, but I'm sure you won't make the same mistake. It was Creamy Ham Turnovers, and the smell of the baking crust pretty much drives hungry people nuts.

And now, over on the Finished Book Pile, we have All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, by Janelle Brown:

Janice Miller wakes up one day to a news report that her husband's pharmaceutical company has just gone public and the prices shoot straight up to the stratosphere. Let's see now, if Paul and I own this many shares and the shares are worth $$$XXX, oh my, oh my, oh my, that means we're stinkin' rich! She spends her day buying groceries and fresh flowers for the celebration, only to open an e-mail from her husband telling her that the marriage is over.

Her teenage daughter watches Janice swing wildly between frantic house-cleaning and laying in bed with greasy hair and a bottle of wine. Eventually an adult daughter returns home and the three women tiptoe around each other in their comfy custom home, each woman trying to keep some pretty big secrets from the others.

If only I had a beach on which to read this book, because that's just the kind of book it was. A cow patty or two.

Next up, Nine Lives by Dan Baum. Baum chronicles nine residents of New Orleans, extracting from them their life stories clear back to the '60s and following them up through Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Baum's subjects hail from all walks of life, from the Garden District's upper crust to the dismal streets of the Lower Ninth Ward, the section wiped out by the levee break.

The Lower Ninth knew it was never as fancy as uptown New Orleans, but it was a decent little neighborhood. Or it was until containerized shipping destroyed the jobs along the riverfront. After that, the Ninth turned in to a place of men idling on porches, youthful gangs roaming the streets, up to no good, and grandmas tending the flowers in their gardens, holding on in the face of a creeping hopelessness.

As for cow patties, I'd say there is one cow patty character. You can avoid his sections chapters until the middle of the book or so, when things get better.

Happy reading and eating.