Friday, June 27, 2008


Exactly three years ago, I wrote the following in my journal: "After we bought this house, with the great view and the fabulous porches, I started picturing long tables out on the upper porch, surrounded by an eclectic group of interesting people. Maybe we'd get together about once a month, to have one of those Tuscan-style feasts - the kind where everyone arrives mid-afternoon, each bringing a special dish based on what's in season or made or grown locally. We would sit down to eat late-afternoon, and we'd stay there eating, visiting, laughing and sipping wine, until after the sun goes down. Then perhaps we would adjourn to the outdoor fire-pit for coffee and more laughter."

I tried hosting a few of these "feasts" in the early days, but things just didn't pan out as I'd hoped. For one thing, we really didn't know more than one or two people in Wimberley, so our guests had to be brought in from out of town. Since we only had one guest room, that meant part of the guests were just making day-trips in, and if you're facing a two-hour drive home after dinner, you are not prone to linger. Also, I felt bad about asking someone who has traveled some distance just to join us, to also transport a bunch of food. Then too, there was the fact that we only got to come here a couple of times a month ourselves, and had lots of projects that needed working on, and lots of places that needed to be explored. After several occasions when one or another of our guests of honor had to cancel at the last minute, we finally realized it just wasn't worth giving up a whole weekend each month for cleaning and preparation, and so the dream just fizzled away.

Recently, however, it began to bubble again. It started with The Muses. I finally realized they were just the sort of people I'd dreamed of meeting when we first came to Wimberley: intelligent, open-minded, creative, diverse, passionate. I had a feeling their husbands were all those things too, and was anxious for John to meet them, so the idea for a front porch feast began to percolate once more. Because we are all so involved, it was difficult to agree on a date. Finally we settled on June 21st and, like the very first one I held three years ago, this was to be a Mexican Pot Luck.

I'd dreamed of "an eclectic group of interesting people", and that "We would sit down to eat late-afternoon, and we'd stay there eating, visiting, laughing and sipping wine, until after the sun goes down," and that's exactly what I got. We started off with appetizers out back on our little stone terrace under the trees, then moved to the dining porch for Rick's wonderful guacamole, Deb's beans with tomatillo salsa (from her garden, of course) and sour cream, Debi's Spanish rice dish (and since she actually lived in Spain, you know how good that was), and my Black Bean Tortilla casserole. Finally we adjourned to the balcony porch for my Mexican Chocolate Brownies and ice cream with "special" praline crumble topping, and some very passionate conversation - almost too passionate at one point, but just as I'd hoped, the opposing parties were each respectful of the other's right to their own opinion, and eventually reined the conversation in so that there were no hard feelings. Finally some took their leave, but a few of us ended up back on the terrace, enjoying a pulsating heat-lightning show behind the clouds, loathe for the evening to end. John and I finally collapsed into bed around midnight.

As I post this, I am reminded of several comments I have found on my blog lately, saying "You are just having way to much fun up there!", and an email message I received saying "You really have found the good life in Wimberley!" Finally I realize, I have found it, haven't I? After decades spent reading about others who were "livin' the good life", people are now reading about me? Well, what d'ya know!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I have an absolutely wonderful, fool-proof, never-fail recipe for microwave pralines that I have been making for about 25 years. I got it from my sister-in-law, who got it from her Cajun mother, who got it from the Tout de Suite cookbook by Jean K Durkee. Or, at least I thought it was fool-proof, until I tried making it here in Wimberley. Apparently, this house has the world's most powerful microwave, possibly of nuclear capability. Guess I haven't used it enough to really notice before now. I had guests coming for a potluck Mexican dinner on Saturday and, since I had a nice big sack of pecans in my freezer (thanks to my nephew Kevin) I promised them pralines for dessert.

The first batch turned to scorched cement before I made it halfway through the cooking time. I chiseled it out of the bowl and tried again, reducing the power to 75%. This time I made it 2/3 the way through before they burned. I chiseled them out again. The third and last time (since I had run out of ingredients) I tried cooking them at 50% power. This time I managed to get them out of the bowl before they turned to cement, and without the putrid aroma. However, they looked more like piles of dog food than pralines. I bashed them with a hammer and served the crumbles over ice cream. Everybody loved them. Go figure.

If you have a fairly normal microwave, I urge you to give this recipe a try. Despite what you have read here, it truly is dead simple and delicious:

In a big 4 or 5 qt. microwaveable bowl, stir together 3/4 c. buttermilk, 2 c. sugar, 2 c. pecan halves, 1/8 tsp. salt and 2 T. butter. Microwave on high 12 minutes, stirring at 4 minute intervals. Stir in 1 tsp. baking soda until foamy. Cook on high 1 minute. Beat the mixture by hand until tacky (about 1 minute). Drop by teaspoonful on a sheet of foil. Makes 3 or 4 dozen.

Monday, June 23, 2008


One of our very favorite things to do here in the summer, is go see a first run movie at the Corral Theatre. I have some pretty fond memories of me and my siblings being loaded into one of the many station wagons of our childhood, clad in our jammies, and heading off to the drive-in picture show. However, those memories pale in comparison to those that are to be had at the Corral Theatre, for the Corral is not a drive-in, but a walk-in outdoor theatre. Instead of being isolated in your car, you are mixing and mingling with everyone in town. Teens flock to the bleachers at the back, adults sit in the retro metal lawn chairs in the middle (or bring their own), and families with small children grab chairs at the front, spreading blankets on the ground for the kids. Occasionally a friendly dog will wander up and down the aisles, seeking handouts, and we don't mind sharing since all the refreshments are only a dollar. Owner Mary Anderson was extremely apologetic about finally having to raise ticket prices to $5 this year, but it's still a heck of a bargain, compared to big city theatres, and a whole lot more fun!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


We've had this house for 3 1/2 years now, and still haven't bothered to do any research on how to maintain wells and septic systems. I usually prefer to be proactive, rather than reactive, so it was really starting to worry me. Finally, I decided to set out upon a fact-finding mission, using my finely honed research skills. My primary technique is to eavesdrop on conversations whenever a key word is mentioned. Yesterday, while exercising at Curves, I hit pay dirt. I discovered that the refuse-devouring bugs, whom you want and need down in your septic system, hate bleach, but love beer! It seems that if you use bleach in your laundry, or to clean your commodes, you run the risk of killing off these good bugs. However, if you pour a bottle of beer down your bathtub once a week, they'll be happy as clams.

Once I had gathered my information, I proceeded to step 2: fact checking. I sent an email out to everyone I knew who had a septic system, to see what they thought about this information. Several thought the beer idea sounded fun, whether it worked or not. Like me, they probably had visions of tables full of bugs, with dung-filled platters before them, holding up their tankards and demanding more beer! Or, maybe not. Susan Albert immediately sent me links to several scholarly sites regarding the subject, saying "Becky, here is some reliable information." Guess she doesn't approve of my research methodology.