Saturday, July 14, 2012


Well, I've been dreading this Color Love class lesson more than any other. I am somewhat phobic about drawing faces. Finally bit the bullet and got to work on a practice page of eyes, noses, lips, etc., last night. One of the requirements was that she have long, colorful, flowing locks. After all that angst and procrastination, wouldn't you know? She ended up being my favorite piece of all! Meet Color-Lovin' Art Girl -- my new avatar!

Friday, July 13, 2012


"Cooking is both simpler and more necessary than we imagine. It has in recent years come to seem a complication to juggle against other complications, instead of what it can be--a clear path through them." ~ Tamar Adler, from An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace

I am fairly frugal by nature, and have been getting more and more perturbed by the amount of food we waste. That is why, ever since joining the Bountiful Sprout, I have be trying to train myself to cook from ingredients rather than recipes -- to survey what is at hand, and proceed from there, rather than choosing a recipe at random, then making a trip to the store to get everything I need for it. Therefore, it just tickled me no end when, upon returning from Houston and finding a bag of small tomatoes that needed to be used up a.s.a.p., I was able to thumb through the tomato section of my Serving Up the Harvest cookbook, and find a yummy sounding recipe that would also make use of an open jar of pesto and a single pie crust that sat pining away in the fridge.
Oh my, my, was it ever scrumptious. I served it with a simple cucumber salad (something else that needed to be used up) that night for dinner, and it made for a mighty tasty breakfast again this morning! It was made French-galette-style, where you just lay a store-bought refrigerated pie crust (or one of your own, if you prefer) on a baking sheet, pile the filling in the middle, then fold the edges of the pastry in over it. Easy Peasy! The first pastry in the box had been used a week or two ago in exactly the same manner, only that time it was encasing some fresh peaches that needed to be used in a hurry. My hubby was oh-so happy about that one.

Anyhoo, in light of this new passion of mine, for using what's in season and at hand, I'm sure you can understand then why I just couldn't resist purchasing this little book, which happens to be about that very thing!
Adler, who grew up in a family of avid, amateur cooks, and then spent some time in the kitchens at Chez Panisse under the tutelage of Alice Waters, believes that great meals rarely start at points that all look like beginnings. They usually pick up where something else leaves off. She feels that meals' ingredients "must be allowed to topple into one another like dominos." Such a lovely image, is it not? In her forward for the book, Alice Waters says,"She is teaching people not just how to cook, but how to love to cook...An Everlasting Meal is an important work about living fully, responsibly, and well, and gently reveals Tamar's philosophy that what we eat, and how we eat it, is inextricably linked to our happiness." I couldn't agree more.
This Curried Potato Corn Chowder, a recipe from my 30-Day Vegan class, was also on the menu this week. Though it didn't utilize a bunch of produce that was already at hand, it did fill several jars that are now tucked away in my freezer, and which will become the starting points for other meals in the weeks to come. And now, a recipe!

from Serving Up the Harvest: Celebrating the Goodness of Fresh Vegetables, by Andrea Chesman

The secret to using fresh tomatoes in a pizza or tart is to salt the sliced tomatoes and let the salt draw out the excess water for about 30 minutes. Then pat dry with paper towels. Serves 4-6 (I halved the recipe and just made one pie).

2 pounds tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 teaspoon salt (approximately)
2 unbaked 9- or 10-inch pastry rounds
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup pesto
1/2 cup grated mozzarella (I was out of both mozz. and Parm., but my jalapeno cheddar jack worked nicely, I thought)

  • Cover a large work surface with a double layer of paper towels. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer on the towels. Sprinkle evenly with the salt. Let stand for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Place the pastry rounds on the baking sheet.
  • Brush the pastry with the beaten egg, leaving a 2-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the Parmesan over each pastry. Spread 1/4 cup of the pesto over the Parmesan on each pastry.
  • Place a double layer of paper towels over the tomatoes and press firmly to dry. Arrange the tomatoes on top of the pesto in overlapping circles. Sprinkle the mozzarella over the tomatoes. Fold the dough up to partially cover the filling and crimp to finish the edges.
  • Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until golden. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I have a confession to make. As a rule, this self-professed Bohemian-Hippy-Gypsy-Cowgirl goes out and splurges on one new pair of shoes every three or four years, whether she needs them or not. We have a great little shoe store right here in Wimberley, that specializes in sassy-but-oh-so-comfortable shoes. I've been wearing the two pairs of summer sandals I bought there (one flat everyday, one dressy) almost non-stop, six or seven months out of the year, ever since I got them. You see, I'm not a big fan of having matching shoes and purses for every different outfit. I hate changing purses. One problem with this system is that I've worn these two basic pairs way too much, and though they still look great, they're all stretched out. My foot slides way down in them, and hangs out over the ends. Sooooo, after having lunch at Inoz' the other day, I decided to wander next door to the little shoe shop, just to look around. I found plenty to like, all super-comfy too, but finding one pair of shoes that goes with everything just ain't easy. Which is why, for the very first time in my entire life, I bought not one, or even two, but three pairs of shoes, all in one fell swoop! It wasn't 'til after I got home, and had them all laid out on my bed to show John, that I realized just what I had purchased:

I'm still crackin' myself up over it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


On Saturday morning we headed over to the open air shopping center right behind our hotel, Town & Country, to enjoy my very favorite breakfast, Einstein's Bagels -- something they don't have anywhere close to Wimberley. Afterwards we grabbed a newspaper and enjoyed some time on a shady bench while we waited for Barnes & Noble to open -- another thing they don't have anywhere close to Wimberley. It wasn't books I was after this time, but magazines, and I came away with quite a haul.
On the way to check out, however, I stumbled upon this little jewel, and couldn't resist adding it to my stack. If it's half as good as I expect it to be, you'll surely be hearing more about it later. Ahhh, so much inspiration in one little shopping bag!
We met back up with A&A for lunch over on Richmond Ave. One thing I've always loved about Houston is that no matter what kind of food you are in the mood for, from whatever country on earth, it's a pretty sure bet you can find it there. Areej is Sudanese, and loves Ethiopian food, which is a close neighbor of Sudan. She wanted to introduce it to Austin, so they just googled Ethiopian restaurants in Houston, and that's how they found Blue Nile. Ever since she took him there, he's been dying to bring us into the fold as well.
I admit to being a wee bit nervous about trying it, but I needn't have worried. It was actually quite good. What amazes me is how certain spice combinations, such as that cumin-chili combo, seem to be at home in cultures around the globe, from Mexico to India to Ethiopia!
The fun thing about eating in Ethiopian restaurants is that everything is served on a communal platter, no utensils in sight! Instead, each person has a plump roll of this crepe-like bread. You tear off little pieces and use them to pinch up bits of food from the platter and pop them into your mouth, so your fingers never actually touch the food. Well, once you get the hang of it, anyway.
Austin fell in love with thick, spicy Turkish coffee when we took him to a neat little coffee house in San Diego, so he adores Ethiopian coffee! Did you know that's where coffee originated? I would have loved to stay and watch them take part in the traditional coffee ceremony which, curiously enough, involves popcorn, but we were on our way to see Moonrise Kingdom, so they each just ordered a quick mug of the aromatic brew.

The movie was probably one of the more bizarre we have ever seen, but it musta been a good kind of bizarre, 'cause we all really liked it. And then it was off to Japan for dinner!

Monday, July 9, 2012


Had such a great weekend in Houston, hanging out with sonny boy Austin and his sweetie, Areej. We got there just in time for lunch on Friday, so headed directly to Beck's Prime, home of the best char-grilled hickory burger in the whole wide world! Since hubby is really-and-truly retired now, and we no longer need to stay close to his office, he found us a great little Sheraton Four Points hotel. Not only was it much nicer, but a good bit cheaper, than the businessmen's special where we used to stay, it sits right on the corner of my very favorite plein air shopping center, and just a couple of exits away from my favorite mall. Woohoo! We had some time to kill before Austin would be off work, so we headed to the mall after lunch, mostly just to browse and people watch. Having such a tiny closet really makes one stop and think before purchasing something. I'm not joking when I say that for every new outfit, purse, or pair of shoes I bring into this house, something of equal size and shape must leave -- which is a good thing, in my opinion.
That evening we headed down to have dinner with A&A at the new-to-them little house they have rented in the historic Heights area where I used to work. In fact, they have been making frequent trips lately to my old nursery, to get supplies for the raised beds they started building as soon as they moved in.
Not only do they have space now for growing all their herbs and a few veggies, the house even came with a good-sized grapefruit tree, a couple of Satsumas, and a bunch of big ol' pecan trees!

I'm not sure what kind of tree this is on the left, but if you zoom in you can see that the leaves hanging off of it on the right look different from the rest. Could those be grape leaves? Or is it poison ivy!
Of course, that means I'm back t' frettin' each time a hurricane heads their way. Big ol' trees can be very scary in a hurricane. But, just look at all these grapefruits!
Now all they have to do is figure out how to keep all the neighborhood cats from viewing those raised beds as their very own super-deluxe litter boxes!

More about our adventures in global eating tomorrow.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Today I am most grateful for the gift of sitting down to a fabulous home-cooked meal...
that I had absolutely nothing to do with!