What I just finished reading-Beloved by Toni Morrison

beloved

I just finished this book. It is one that I have been meaning to read for some time now.

This novel won the Pulitzer prize and I can see why. I read the book in just under 3 days. I had a hard time putting it down in the evenings (which is usually when I have the time to read for pleasure). The last night I stayed up until almost 1 am to finish.

Beloved is the story of Sethe, an escaped slave, and her daughters. It takes place sometime after the Civil War. We learn about Sethe’s history through her memories and the memories of Paul D, a man from her past that shows up on her doorstep years later.  The story drew me in and held on from beginning to end. The characters became flesh and bone people to me. I was crying along with Sethe and nervous along with Beloved.

Once I was finished reading Beloved I handed it immediately to my 16 year old daughter as one of her first reading assignments for the year. I feel that this book will give any daughter an insight into how a mother feels about her children and what lenghts we will go to for thier protection.

I am glad that I finally picked it up.

Go get you a copy already.

Y’all Come Back Now.

July 30, 2009. Homeschooling. Leave a comment.

The Melons are Coming!!

Today was yard day.

My husband and I took the day and used it for general upkeep and such of the yard.

I cut the grass (on the riding lawnmower) and Scott did all of the heavy lifting and such.

As soon as I got started on the grass, I had to take a break. My mower had run out of gas from both tanks and Scott had to go and get more.

Here’s where the fun happens.

During my break I had a chance to run and get my camera and take a few pictures of my little garden in the backyard. A while back we broke up a little spot and started a garden. This is only my second garden ever. My first almost immediately got taken over by the weeds and after that I didn’t have the heart to try again.

Well, this year’s garden is going much better.  When we first broke up the ground our exchange student Melanie was still here. We were eating cantaloupe one night and I showed her the seeds that I had taken out and told her that if the seeds were to be planted, they would produce cantaloupes. The thought of this so excited her that she begged to be allowed to plant them. So the next day we did.

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This is the result.

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And now the melons are coming in. They have been blooming for weeks and now that we have finally been getting some rain, the blooms are producing tiny little cantaloupes. I’m not sure what kind they are. All I know is that the seeds came from a cantaloupe that we bought at the grocery store.

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Next to the cantaloupe Melanie helped me plant some cucumbers. All I remember about these was that I made sure and buy organic seeds and they were small enough to make pickles. So far there haven’t been enough for pickles, but a few have made it into my salads at dinner and have beat the grocery store variety hands down.

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These are heirloom tomatoes that we planted. They have been so good! Tonight we had BSTs (bacon, spinach, and tomato) sandwiches for dinner. Oh, they were wonderful!! And believe it or not, I claim to not like tomatoes! Maybe I just don’t like grocery store tomatoes. It has always been a texture thing for me. Tomatoes of my past have been mealy and slimy, but these were tart and sweet and melted into the bacon of the sandwich. Yes, maybe it is just the hothouse tomato that I don’t like.

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For those of you who don’t know, this is okra. While I don’t like it boiled, I do love it fried. Now, I don’t fry much, but there is just no better way (to me) to eat okra than to fry it. Once in a while I will mix it into my cornbread mixture and make okra hoe cakes and those are pretty good too, but fried okra really is a southern tradition.

When okra is boiled it produces a slimy substance that lends itself to thickening things like gumbos and stews. It is good in this and really when you talk about gumbo you have to know that gumbo is okra. You just can’t have a good gumbo without the okra. If you don’t have okra, you don’t have gumbo.

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Last, but defenitely not least, I have laid away a little bit of hope for the future. I planted some asparagus. It is doing wonderfully, but I won’t even be able to taste it until next year. See, you have to let the first years spears go to fronds. If you don’t cut them this is what they look like. Kinda pretty, huh? The tops where you see the bumpy part of the spears in the store actually make fronds and small flowers and they feed the crowns (the roots) for the next years harvest.

Oh how I am looking forward to next spring!!

I planted some artichokes too, but they didn’t even come up much less make the bud for me to eat. Oh well, it was worth a shot.

Y’all Come Back Now.

And drop me a comment and let me know that I’m not just talking to myself, will ya? Thank you.

July 25, 2009. Home and Garden. Leave a comment.

Library Day

So, today was library day.

I loaded the girls into the van and off to town we went.

I knew that I had some videos that I forgot to renew and were late, so I patiently stood at the desk while the librarian checked all of my books in and added up my fines.

Then she hit me with the total: $7.00. OMG! I looked at the 2 videos and just swallowed the words in my throat. The total worth of these things probably wasn’t $7.00!

But, it was my fault. I got into too big of a rush with everything going on around here and just forgot to call and renew them before they were overdue.

Lesson learned. Never forget to renew your library DVDs.

So now I have two new books to look forward to. I got “Beloved” by Toni Morrison and I got a book on Mexican cooking. I have been looking forward to reading “Beloved” for a long time and now that it is summer I can. I will probably be done with it by Sunday night. Once I start reading, I usually do it to the exclusion of everything else until I am done with the book. That how my husband knows if the book I am reading is any good or not. If he sees me bring it with me everywhere I go, it must be a good story. If I start on it and then he never sees me with it again, it must have been a dud. It’s a pretty good system and seems to be working for him.

I love cooking and cook books. If I haven’t mentioned it before, I love cookbooks. It truly is an addiction to me. When we were building our house a few years ago, I took out the cabinets in my small butcher block island and replaced them with bookshelves. Of course, I still don’t have enough room for all of my cookbooks. Periodically I will sit down and try and purge some of my books, but it doesn’t really help. I usually end up sitting on the kitchen floor and reading the books and then of course I can’t possibly bear to part with a single one.

I have lots of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks, some of the classics like Betty Crocker and, of course, Martha Stewart.

But I also have several community cookbooks. You know the ones where some people get together and submit recipes and then have them bound and sell them to raise money for some cause of the other. I love these books too. It kinda gives me a glimpse into the minds of those women and what dinner must be like in thier home. I mean, if you see that every single recipe that one woman submits has cream-of-something soup in it, you know that dinner in her house is all about getting it on the table with as little effort as possible. If you see that one woman submitted a lot of desert recipes, you imagine that her house must smell good and that her family has desert every night of the week. I could be wrong, but wouldn’t it be fun.

When I get a new cookbook I sit down with it and read it like a novel: from cover to cover. I lovingly read each recipe and dream about what it would taste like. I love cookbooks.

I am off to read through “Mexican Cooking” and see what’s for dinner.

Y’all Come Back Now.

July 24, 2009. Notebook. Leave a comment.

Updates to follow

Okay, okay. I have been letting the blog slip here lately.

We have been so busy with out visitor from Germany that I just haven’t had time to sit down and write at all lately.

I promise that I will update everyone on the latest happenings and post some new recipes and such very soon.

Thanks for hanging in here with me.

Until then, here is a beautiful little girl (mine of course) doing her two favorite things, watching me cook and dressing up in whatever costume she designed that day.

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I think she is a snow ski fairy who has questionable taste in jewelery, but I love her anyway.

Y’all Come Back Now.

July 22, 2009. Notebook. Leave a comment.

Ode To Numbers

Okay, now I know that by the title everyone thinks that this will be a piece about numbers like 6, 14, and 2.

That’s not the right Numbers.

You see, Numbers was our beta fish and he died yesterday.

His name was Numbers because for my daughter’s third birthday she received a beta fish for her birthday. Of course, being 3 and all, she named her fish Birthday Fish.  Original right?

Anyway, in the end there were several “Birthdays”. When the last Birthday passed away to the great fishbowl in the sky we finally decided that this would be a great opportunity to teach our daughter, then 4 1/2 about the “circle of life”. Okay, I decided it was time. My husband just wanted to sneak to the store in the middle of the night and replace the fish yet again. I won. So we told her that Birthday had died. She was sad until we buried him, then immediately asked to go shopping for a new fish.

Enter Numbers. So named because he was the last of a great number of fish.

Numbers has been a part of our family for a year and a half. I don’t know, but I think that is an amazingly long time for a fish.

So, Numbers, we will miss you.

I have to go and sterilize a fish bowl now.

July 9, 2009. Notebook. Leave a comment.

Rainy Day Blues or Not

I love rainy days. They just make me feel all fuzzy inside. You stay home and snuggle the kids and curl up on the couch and watch movies.

What could be better?

I’ll tell you what could be better, after the rain. More specifically, the smell in the air after the rain. I absolutely love the way everything smells after the rain. The smell is clean and fresh and new. The only smell better is right after the field has been plowed and the smell of the earth is in the air. Even better than that is the smell of rain on a freshly plowed field. Oh, I am just sitting here imagining the smells.

It rained today. A lot. This evening after the rain we went outside to visit with the girls.

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This is my wonderful husband feeding one of the girls. The white stuff you see in the picture is where she just had a shower in the rain. I am sure that she absolutely loved it. It has been hotter than Hades here in Alabama for the last few weeks. Right after this shot I missed the shot of her picking her nose with her tongue. Now who wouldn’t give a lot to have that talent, right? Well, me for one.

Anyway, I am enjoying time with the kids and husband at home after the rain. Hope you are enjoying your evening too.

Y’all Come Back Now.

July 7, 2009. Notebook. Leave a comment.

Southern Style Sweet Tea

 

So, as promised here is the recipe for the perfect glass of Sweet Tea.

First you will need the following:

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Sugar (of course),

 tea bags ( I prefer the brand above, but Lipton makes a very fine iced tea),

fresh lemon (don’t use the squeeze bottle stuff. Only fresh if you please).

and last but not least a tea pot. If you don’t have a whistling tea pot like the one pictured, just use a regular small saucepan with a good tight-fitting lid.

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To make a half gallon (2 quarts) of tea add 1 (one) of the tea bags to the kettle (or saucepan with lid on), fill it with water, and put it on to boil. You want the water to come all the way up to a boil. Don’t be tempted to pull the kettle off until it is really whistling. If you do, your tea won’t be strong enough.

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 In the meantime add 1 cup (240 grams) of sugar to a pitcher . I am being less than genrous with my sugar. Most people in the south absolutely put more than this in thier sweet tea. I don’t like it quite as sweet, so I only use 1 cup. If you want, add more. This is your sweet tea.

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This is also the time to cut up your lemon if want to add it. Make sure you wash the lemon. We will be adding it to the tea later on. Cut it in half and then in quarters. Then cut each quarter in half again. Yeah, yeah, I know, that’s eighths, but it just sounded better my way. Anyway, it is easier to cut the lemon from the top as it stands on the flat end you created when you cut the ends off. If you try to cut it from the skin side you will squish all the juice out and that would defeat the purpose of having the lemon. You can tell from the picture that I truly do live in Alabama. See how my sugar has clumped up from the humidity? It won’t really matter though. The clumps will dissolve right along with the rest of the sugar.

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When your kettle finally whistles, the magic happens. Some people leave it to “steep” for a few minutes, but not me, I pour the tea as soon as it boils. Just add the whole kettle and whatever amount of water it takes to make 2 quarts into the pitcher containing the sugar. Stir everything well and pour over a full glass of ice.

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Now, squeeze the lemon into the tea and then drop that squeezed slice directly into the tea. If you don’t like lemon in your tea just leave this step out.

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Ahhhh! Now just sit back, relax, and enjoy the perfect glass of Southern Style Sweet Tea. 

If you start to feel adventerous, you might even garnish the glass with a little sprig of mint or another slice of lemon.

Enjoy.

Y’all Come Back Now.

July 5, 2009. cooking. Leave a comment.

After the festivities

So we got through The Fourth and now everyone has gone home. The house is a wreck, there are dishes piled in the sink, and I feel like it is way too quiet around here.

We are in the process of trying to get the house back in order and I have snuck off to write.  I just can’t bring myself to clean. I know I should, I feel guilty (really, truly guilty), but I just can’t do it. Maybe if I took a nice long nap that would help. Do you think my husband would buy it? No? Me either, but it might be worth a try.

Later on I will make some good old sweet tea and post about how delicious it is and teach you how to make some too. I have a little girl staying with me who flew here all the way from Germany so that she could once again taste that wonderful nectar of the south.

Until then, Y’all come back now, ya here!

July 5, 2009. Notebook. Leave a comment.

Hello world!

Welcome Y’all!!

Come in, take a seat, sip on a glass of sweet tea and enjoy the read.

I hope to share with you recipes, tips, and maybe a little humor from the deep south.

We will laugh, we will cry, we will cook and definitely we will eat, but most of all we will have fun and learn a lot in the process. I am so glad you are here  and hope that we can become closer than two ticks on a dog’s back. Okay, so we don’t really talk like that, at least I don’t , but it sounded good at the time.

July 5, 2009. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.