Friday, February 5, 2016


I tried a great recipe the other day, which originated with Martha Stewart, but came to me via favorite blogger NieNie. It's one of those wonderful one-pot meals, just perfect for this time of year. The only bad thing about it was that pretty much everything in it was white, as was the inside of my Dutch oven, so it wasn't very photogenic. But, what it lacked in beauty, it made up for in taste. Try it, you'll like it!


4 tsp. vegetable oil
1 large (?) head cauliflower, cored and cut into 1 1/2" pieces
salt and pepper 
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cups basmati or other long-grain white rice
4 tsp. (?) curry powder
1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas/garbanzos, rinsed and drained
2 3/4 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400F. In Dutch oven heat 2 tsp. oil on med-hi, add cauliflower and cook, stirring frequently, until browned in spots. Transfer to a plate and season with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Add 2 tsp. oil and onion to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice, curry powder and chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until rice is coated, about 2 minutes. Add broth and cream and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Scatter cauliflower over top, but do not stir in.

Cover and bake until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

I thought it was pretty awesome as is, been when asked his opinion, Hubby said "More curry, less cauliflower." So, next time I make it, I will probably use a smaller head of cauliflower (I had trouble getting it all in the pot!), and not only will I up the amount of curry powder, I will probably add our favorite spice trifecta - 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. ground coriander and, of course, a dash or two (or three) of cayenne. Some like it hot!

Thursday, February 4, 2016


One thing I loved in Barcelona was the louvered metal shutter that every shop pulled down over their glass windows and doors each night, to keep people from breaking in. They were covered in graffiti for the most part, but there were a few exceptions. The ones where the owners got proactive, and covered them in paint themselves? Well, those seemed to be graffiti-free. Here are just a few that I spotted.

Those first two were so enticing that I spent several days trying to find my way back to them, in order to see what was inside. It was worth the trouble!

Some were artistic, some were just ads, and some were pretty darn funny.

I loved them all!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


A bedroodio is what you get when you carve a little bit of space from the corner of your bedroom, and turn it into an art studio. This is what mine looks like.

I had a choice. I could have a larger space downstairs in our basement-like man cave or guest room, which you must go outside and down an uncovered staircase to reach, or I could use this tiny space in my tree house bedroom filled with sunshine. No contest, right?  The best thing about it is that I'm never far away from it, since our entire living space here consists of only three rooms and a bathroom. I stop by that drawing table a hundred times a day. Even if I only stop to stare at the work in progress for a minute, it gets the wheels turning! I probably never would have considered doing this, or even considered buying such a crazy-ass house, if I hadn't had a crazy-unique neighbor back in Midland, named Annamarie Mootz. She taught me that it was okay to break the rules and think outside the box when it comes to how you utilize whatever living space you have. I will be eternally grateful for that lesson!

I thought about cleaning it up before I took pictures to show you, so it would look like the ones in the magazines. But, then I decided to be honest. The truth is, this is about as clean as it ever gets!

The piles around the edges of the table are forever creeping towards the center, and I only break down and clear away the clutter when they finally meet in the center, and there is no longer any room to work!

Right now I really need these piles scattered about me, for they are all the bits and pieces that I gathered along the way in Sudan and Spain. Whenever I walk past the table, I let my eyes drift over them, then start pulling out one piece here, another piece there, until finally, I end up with a new page in my travel journal. Pages like these.

I love my little bedroodio, which seems positively luxurious compared to the Wee Little Studio I started out with about four years back. Just goes to show, there's always room to be creative, if you want it bad enough.

Monday, February 1, 2016


I should probably warn you right now that we are not your typical tourists. As a rule, we don't do churches and museums, or run around trying to get pictures of ourselves in front of all the famous monuments. We used to travel that way, each thinking that's what the other wanted. Fortunately, we finally admitted to one another that neither of us was having any FUN, and gave ourselves permission to do things our way. And, both being introverts who thrive on time alone, we also gave ourselves permission to balance time together with time apart -- to do those things that interest us, but not necessarily our sweetie pie. We also discovered that we hate packing and unpacking, and driving from one place to another, trying to fit too many towns into too short a time. What we love is staying in one place, preferably a walkable city with lots of nooks and crannies to explore, and lots of cafes from which to people-watch -- which is why we chose to spend the entire week in Barcelona, instead of trying to cover all of Spain. These days, we actually love our trips together!

So, on our second day in Barcelona, we set off down Las Ramblas to take a tour of Palau Güell, the "palace" built by Antoni Gaudi for his great benefactor, Eusebi Güell. Have I mentioned that Gaudi's color-mad architecture is one of our main reasons for choosing Barcelona? You can expect to see lots of it in the coming posts. This was one of his earlier projects I think, before he fully broke from tradition and started making up his own rules as he went along, but you got glimpses of what was to come.

We also explored La Boqueria market, which we passed on our way there.

After our tour we went back and had lunch at one of the cafes behind the market -- fried baby squid and a Spanish tortilla (fritatta) for me, more tomato bread and Iberian jamon (ham) for Hubby.

Then it was time for a parting of the ways. That morning, on our way to Palau Güell, we came up behind a little tour group. The guide was pointing down one of those tiny little side streets, saying "There. That is where you will find the best chocolate!" I had to go back and check it out, right? So, when John went off 'splorin' with his camera, I opted to head back to Carrer Petritxol, aka The Hot Chocolate Street.

I was too full from lunch to try the super-rich hot chocolate or churros, but I did manage to "force" down a slender slice of candied orange dipped in dark chocolate on one end, from one of several confectioners along this street. Yummmmm!

On my way back to the hotel I cut through Plaça del Pi, and spotted a sign outside the little basílica there, which tempted me into breaking our "No Churches" rule. So after a rest and a quick dinner at Taller de Tapas, we returned to Basílica Santa María Del Pi for this.

The talent and the acoustics were phenomenal. The backless wooden pews? Not so much!

Sunday, January 31, 2016


My hubby is not a fan of squash, so I don't usually cook it here at home. That time he barfed in the kitchen trashcan, after only one bite of my Mexican squash casserole, pretty much cured me of trying to sneak it past him. Recently, however, my daughter Lex got some spaghetti squash in her CSA basket, and wasn't sure what to do with it. Once, years ago, we had both tried substituting it for spaghetti, in order to save a few calories. But only once. She did some research and came up with a recipe for Spaghetti Squash Yakisoba Style, and later reported that she and her hubby Nate (not a veggie lover) both liked it so much that they polished off every last bite.

So, when I spotted spaghetti squash on my next Bountiful Sprout offering, I ordered one. Only I got two. I gave my spare to a friend, along with the recipe. Guess what? We ALL polished off every last bite!

SPAGHETTI SQUASH YAKISOBA STYLE from Pickled Plum - Caroline Phelps
(serves 3-5 as a side dish, 2-3 as a main course) 

1 small spaghetti squash (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
1 small onion, finely chopped bite size
10 shitake or button mushrooms
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 cup coleslaw mix (shredded carrots and cabbage)
1 T. vegetable oil or other neutral oil
1 tsp. dried red chile, chopped (optional)
1 T. sesame seeds

Sauce:(mix before you begin cooking)
2 T. regular soy sauce
2 T. dark soy sauce (or more regular, if you prefer)
1/2 T. granulated sugar
salt and white pepper to taste

1) Cut spaghetti squash in half, scrape off the seeds with a spoon and microwave for 20 - 25 minutes (or bake in the oven at 400F for 40-50 minutes).

2) Use fork and scrape the flesh into strings.

3) In a large pan over high heat (med-hi on my stove) add vegetable oil and onions. Cook for three minutes or until onions are soft. Add coleslaw mix and red chile and cook for two minutes.

4) Add mushrooms and cook for another two minutes.

5) Add spaghetti squash, scallions and sauce, and mix well until the sauce has evenly coated all the vegetables. Cook two minutes and turn the heat off.

6) Transfer to a bowl, top with sesame seeds and serve.

P.S. It goes really well with a side of Crack Kale!

Have a Simply Scrumptious Sunday y'all!