Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Dinner Detective

My friend Jeanette and I were gadding about last Saturday night when we went to a Dinner Detective in Chapel Hill at the Sheraton (what used to be The Europa).   It was my first time to attend one of these dinners where the guests try to guess who the culprit is when a murder is committed. 

We were greeted with a sign.

An acting troupe in Chapel Hill offers these dinners rather frequently.  I really didn't know what to expect.  But it was a lot of fun.  The actors were quite good.   The food wasn't bad either.

There was a nice selection of appetizers.
A lovely cheese and fruit tray of appetizers.

Salads and drinks were at the tables.  I was about half way through my salad when they suggested we get up and go around and question folks we might suspect was the murderer.  When I returned the waiter had removed my salad.  I was sorry that I hadn't finished it. 
The table was beautifully set with our salads and our drinks. 

At one point Jeanette had a clue under her chair, so she had to get up and was questioned about why she was not sharing the clue with the whole crowd.  She was opening it to show to our table which was a no no. 

Jeanette is being scolded because she was opening the "clue" to share with our table.

A number of attendees were questioned during the show and the fellow who was playing the detective was quite funny and was very good at adlibbing. 

The detective is questioning one of the guests, the man in the yellow shirt. 

We had a choice of a chicken dish or salmon.  I chose the salmon and it was beautifully prepared.  Very tasty. 
Delicious fillet of salmon with rice pilaf and carrots.
And of course there was dessert, a carrot cake.
Carrot cake for dessert.

Neither Jeanette nor I guessed correctly who the murderer was, but it was a fun evening filled with laughter.  
Photo of Jen and me as we entered the room.  They gave me a prop!

As we entered, our photos were taken in one case with me having a weapon.  I look very dangerous, don't I?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Culinary Delights in Cape Breton

Coconut cream pie from the Cedar House.
Whenever I spend time in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, I always enjoy the good food---both at home and at restaurants.  Here are some culinary treats we had on my most recent trip. 

For dinner down on the waterfront in Halifax, we shared an order of steamed mussels as an appetizer. And for the first dinner out at the house I made steamed mussels as the main dish.
Steamed mussels, a real treat in Cape Breton.

I poached a salmon from which I made a salmon salad.  I simply added mayonnaise, boiled eggs, and diced tomatoes. 
Poached salmon

Salmon salad with asparagus, avocado and deviled eggs.  (Photo by Becky Mangum)
The best salmon though was the planked salmon that Laura and Anthony made.  These were made in the oven since we didn't have a grill handy.  So moist and flavorful. 
Salmon cooked in oven on cedar and maple planks.
Laura made a blueberry crisp served with maple-walnut ice cream for dessert after this meal of planked salmon.
Blueberry crisp with maple-walnut ice cream.

For girls' night out eight of us went over to the Clovis Hitch in Port Hood for dinner.  We shared their special brownie as a dessert.  We each had 2 spoonsful.  The brownie was made with dark chocolate and topped with vanilla ice cream and a raspberry sauce.  Very rich and very delicious.
Brownie from the Clovis Hitch in Port Hood.

Of course a trip to Cape Breton is never complete without a meal at the Cedar House. 
Tea biscuits with butter at the Cedar House.

Three of us shared this coconut cream pie for dessert.

We took Cedar House oatcakes home with us for snacks later in the week
Cedar House oatcakes with butter.  A real treat.

Yes indeed, there are many opportunities in Cape Breton to enjoy the food.

Friday, August 26, 2016

NO COTTON In Them Old Cotton Fields Back Home

This is what my Grandparents cotton field looked like in the 50s.

This past week I was back in Cleveland County where I grew up, and I drove by what was my Grandparents' farm when I was a kid .  The property is now owned by someone else, I'm not sure who, and the house seems to be in good shape, but not currently occupied. 

Cotton fields before the cotton is "ripe".

Grandma's house facing west.  The three windows upstairs is the bedroom where I would sometimes spend the night.
The front of Grandma's house. 
I actually lived next door to my Grandma's, but I spent a lot of time visiting with her in that house.  Back in the 50s her farm, about 50 acres, was planted mainly in cotton.  The land was tended by a family whose daughter was one of my best friends growing up.  My father did not farm, so I didn't have to pick cotton, but I did pick cotton for the tenants and got paid for doing so.  I actually liked to pick cotton, something none of my friends understood.  (I suppose if I had had to pick, maybe I wouldn't have enjoyed it so much.  But I liked getting PAID.) 

Those old cotton fields back home are now "planted" with solar panels.  It has been turned into a solar farm.  I understand that the landowner gets about $500 to $600 per acre for leasing the land.  Not bad since there's no work involved for the "farmer". 
Cotton now replaced with solar panel farm. 

But I was more than a bit sad to see the farm used this way and to see the area grown up in weeds otherwise.  My grandparents always had a beautiful lawn out front and the property was kept in pristine shape.  No more. 

The trip back to Cleveland County was a bit nostalgic, and Thomas Wolfe was right.  'You can't go home again."

Monday, August 8, 2016

Books, Books, and More Books: Organizing our Books

Bookcases in the study. 
Dan and I both have been collectors of books for many years,  and we always found it hard to get rid of any book.  Finally I decided the time had come to downsize and organize our extensive book collection. (Dan if you are aware of this, please understand.)  I had already donated boxes of books to the Library where they will likely sell them at their once a year book sale.  I've found it is difficult to give books away.  First I tackled the books in the study.  Two thirds were given away, and I organized the remaining sixty books using The Paper Tiger, a system we have used for years to organize our paper files. 

The Paper Tiger filing system. 
I assigned each book a number and entered the information into Paper Tiger.
Each book was given a number, and the information on that number was inserted into the Paper Tiger system.  A small sticker with the number was affixed to the spine of the book.  (I'm thinking in the future it might be easier to use white ink and print the number on the spine.)

If I want to find a certain book, I just search, say for The Hobbit.  Paper Tiger tells me where the book is located. 
Search Paper Tiger for The Hobbit.
Paper Tiger tells me where the book is located. 

There is The Hobbit, number 14, on the bookcase in the study. 

Dan thought that only books should be included on bookcases, but I always like to include some of our collectibles as well.  He tolerated my including objects other than books. 
A carved moose that we purchased in Maine years ago. 
Santa Clara pottery that I collected in New Mexico in the summer of 1968.   
Now if I can only tackle the books in the living room, the den, the dining room, the kitchen, and the bedrooms (oh and the garage suite) perhaps I can readily locate a book I may be looking for. 

By the way, and I am not getting a kick back, I heartily recommend The Paper Tiger for organizing anything that you can put a number on.  Perhaps when I have finished cataloging the books, I can start on my pottery collection.  Not!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Look Back to Dan's 80th Birthday: 2007 *

When Dan turned 80 in August 2007, I arranged to get a few family and friends down to Westmoore Family Restaurant for a surprise party for Dan.  Dan thought we were just going down to meet his daughter Mary and son-in-law Dave for dinner which we often did, so he was quite surprised to find a number of folks there to celebrate his birthday.

Dan had always enjoyed limericks so I asked friends and family, even those who couldn't be at the party to write a limerick for Dan for his birthday.  I received over 80 limericks from all over the country.  It was great fun and Dan enjoyed them immensely.  Here are a few of the limericks.

Joe Richardson who was with Dan during the crocodile attack sent in several.
Many of his graduate students sent in limericks.
A friend and colleague of mine from Louisburg who himself was a great lover of limericks sent in this one.
Even my grandchildren who were then 12, 10, 8, and 6 wrote one with my help.
Patrick had fun with this.
Friends James and Virginia Tucker from Greensboro.

                     While Cruising an African loch,
                      Dan encountered a hitchhiking croc.
                      He said, "Tell you what, keedo,
                      I'll get into my Speedo
                      And race you from here to the dock."

From Sally Kendall (the Da-Bob was Bob Kendall a graduate student of Dan's.  Sally was a graduate student in botany at Duke.  Sally and Bob have now been married 50 years, and are our wonderful friends living in Maryland.

                In order to fill his life's mission
                of drilling deep lakes with precision,
                he hired Da-Bob,
                who made my heart throb.
                To me, twas his finest decision.
This was a really fun birthday party, and Dan thoroughly enjoyed all the limericks that were written in his honor. 

*  I wasn't blogging back in 2007, so I did a look back on this one.  Today would have been Dan's 89th birthday.