Saturday, July 30, 2011


We went to another great house concert at Susanna's Kitchen Thursday night.  The artist was someone that my hubby was familiar with, but whom I knew nothing about.  When I asked him what kind of music she sang, he refused to say.  "I think I'll just let you be surprised."  Hah!  There wasn't much about that evening that was not a surprise!

First there is the matter of her name.  I've heard it bandied about now and again on KGSR, Austin's independent radio station that features a lot of local artists.  Being in Texas, when you hear a double name like that, you just automatically assume it's the good old-fashioned country girl name, Betty Sue.  That was the first surprise.  If I had known that it was spelled Betty Soo, then maybe I wouldn't have been so surprised when I saw this:

Boy, is she ever tiny.  The next surprise came when she opened her mouth and I heard that beautiful, clear voice singing an old Americana folk melody that she learned in her fourth grade music class.  Ya probably don't run across too many second-generation-Korean-folk-rock-singer-songwriters who grew up in Spring, Texas, now do ya?  But then, she isn't strictly folk-rock either.  There were a few surprises in her set list as well -- a little bit of gospel, a little bit of twang, a little bit of Prince, and even one Katy Perry song!  "But that's the only Katy song I can stand," she was quick to add.  "The rest pretty much make me want to, you know, physically hurt her!"  And that was the biggest surprise of the evening -- she wasn't just a great singer, she was downright funny to boot!  You should see those dimples pop out whenever she sneaks in one of her zingers.

I especially got a kick out of one song she did from that CD above, Little Tiny Secrets.  If you go to her website here, and click on the little headphones icon at the top, you can then scroll down under that CD's photo until you find the song called Secrets, and listen to it for yourself.  Better pay real close attention though.  It starts out about like any other love song: I never thought that I was lonely, but you appeared and changed that completely.  I gave my tender heart to you, you said you'd be forever true.  But then you took my tiny heart and ran...(pay attention now!)...Now I've got secrets you'd like to know, secrets you can't live without.  I know things you're dying to know, little tiny secrets you know nothing about...

She's so funny!

Friday, July 29, 2011


No, those are not toasted marshmallows!
I tried a completely different recipe for this tart, something I found way back in the archives over at My French Corner, and though it still needs a tiny bit of tweaking, I'd say it's a keeper!  This one really lets the flavor of the tomatoes shine through.  There is a layer of caramelized onions at the base, which I loved, and with my own addition of some feta cheese and kalamata olives, it had much the same mediterranean feel as the one they serve at Kerbey Lane Cafe each summer.  Try it. I think you'll like it!

  • 1 (9-inch) prepared pie dough, thawed if frozen (not pie shells)
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, very thinly sliced (I added a bit of chopped poblano pepper as well, since my hubby thinks anything without peppers is bland)
  • 6 oz. crumbled goat cheese, about 1 1/3 c. (I used feta instead, which tasted delicious, but feta doesn't melt, so there was nothing to bind all the ingredients together.  Next time I think I will use a combination of feta plus goat cheese or mozzarella or something)
  • sliced kalamata olives (optional)
  • 1 lb. plum tomatoes, thinly sliced crosswise
  • Garnish : fresh basil leaves
  • Special equipment: a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom; pie weights or raw rice
Preheat oven to 375 F.

If necessary, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into an 11-inch round and fit into tart pan.  Trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang inward and press against side of pan to reinforce edge.  Lightly prick bottom and sides with a fork.

Line tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights.  Bake in middle of oven until pastry is pale golden around rim, about 20 minutes.  Carefully remove weights and foil and bake until golden all over, 8-10 minutes more.  Cool in pan on a rack.

While tart shell is baking, heat 2 T. oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, then cook onion with salt and black pepper to taste, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. (I added in my peppers, which were small and thin-skinned, when the onions were just beginning to get some color.)

Preheat broiler.

Spread onion over bottom of tart shell and top with 1 rounded cup goat cheese.  Sprinkle with sliced olives, if using.  Arrange tomatoes, slightly overlapping, in concentric circles over cheese.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese and salt and pepper to taste (omit the salt if using feta).  Drizzle with remaining tablespoon of oil.  Put foil over edge of crust, to prevent overbrowning.  Place on baking sheet and broil tart about 7" from heat, until cheese starts to brown slightly, 3-4 minutes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Do you have a recipe notebook or cardfile?  My friend Paula used to keep hers stuffed in an old coffee can!  Whatever you use, if you are anything like me, it's probably stuffed to overflowing with slips of paper holding barely legible instructions jotted down by one person or another, and page after page ripped from newspapers and magazines -- so many recipes that sounded great at the time, but which you rarely get around to trying!

The notebook from my last purge...
Every so often, when my notebook gets totally outta control, I do a purge.

which now holds waaaaay over 100 recipes!
This time, though, I decided that what I really need is a totally new kind of notebook -- one that is arranged not by food category, but instead, by seasons!

As I sat here pondering, on just how to go about this, a lightening bolt hit!  I suddenly remembered that the Bountiful Sprout website has a button I can click, which allows me to see all of my past orders -- almost three year's worth now! (can you believe it?)  By flipping back through those, I was able to create six handy little lists, each telling me exactly what I might expect to find available during that two month period, from growers and producers right here in the Texas Hill Country.

Next I plan to go through my current notebook, as well as the spiral food journal I mentioned recently, and create a page for each section that lists all my favorite ways to prepare those particular ingredients, as well as any menu plans that we especially enjoyed.  I will have room at the back for a few basic recipes, such as a vinaigrette dressing or a basic reduction sauce (which I'm sure I will refer to less and less often over time) and I can make notations on these pages about where to find certain recipes in my various cookbooks.  Hopefully, this will be the opposite of my other notebooks, a recipeless notebook if you will, as it will teach me to cook the way our grandmothers did -- by ingredient, and with Seasonality!  If so, then it just might be my best and final notebook.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


The Downstairs Utility Room, Newly Painted and Peg-Boarded
Some guys would spend every spare minute under the hood of a car, or tinkering with a lawnmower engine, if they could.  I guess you could call that guy Mechanic Man.  Others are great at household maintenance and repair.  They're more the Handy Man type.  Yard Man spends his whole weekend puttering around in the garden. To him, the only thing that could be better than having some electric hedge-trimmers or a leaf-blower in his hands, would be cruising around on a spiffy riding lawn mower.  Sports-Fan Man spends his weekends with a TV remote glued to his palm.  My hubby?  He does none of these things any more than he absolutely has to.  No, I live with Project Man.

As soon as he moved up here full-time, at the end of January, he jumped head-first into this:
The Great Two-House Consolidation Project
Right after that there was this:
Building Terraced Limestone Beds
The minute we got back from our big vacation, he dived into this:
The Big Bathroom Remodel
And, now that that's done, he's decided to reorganize all the storage rooms and closets downstairs in the guest room and man cave.
Downstairs Porch
The Guest Bedroom
The Storage Room
The Man Cave
The Guest Bath
This project may take a while.

What about you?  Who do you live with?

Monday, July 25, 2011


Well, not the same bottle tree.  That poor puppy was a goner, once that truck backed over it.  Still can't believe none of the bottles broke!  No, this is a new, improved bottle tree that Dear Hubby ordered for me.  It's stake goes much further into to the ground, so we're hoping this one won't be quite so inclined to incline.

Perhaps we were overly optimistic.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


A fancy store-bought bouquet is nice, but what I love even more is being able to wander about my yard and scrounge up something interesting or a bit unusual.  Those bouquets have seasonality, for they change from week to week.  Unfortunately, I don't take the time to do this near often enough.

There isn't much blooming here this time of year.  In fact, the whole yard is looking a bit Sahara-like.  However, as I was trimming back some basil that had run amok, it occurred to me that those bloom stalks would look mighty pretty in my little ironstone jug.  Then, seeing how nice that looked on my dining room table, I was inspired to serve dinner there, instead of in front of the TV -- a bad habit we fell into once the kids left and we began living apart during the week.  This made me really happy.


So, what did you do this week, to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life, that made you really happy?