Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Sister's Birthday Today

Happy Birthday to my sister, Martha Cabaniss, today.  Two years ago I gave her a surprise birthday party in Shelby, and she was truly surprised.
Martha at her Senior Prom.

Martha's wedding photo.

Martha surprised at her party two years ago.


Monday, January 30, 2012

A Green Smoothie


Unlike this song sung by Kermit, it actually IS easy being green and here's how.  We like smoothies, particularly in the summer when I make a lot of fruit smoothies-usually with a bit of ice cream or frozen yogurt included.  I just pitch a few different fruits into the blender with a bit of ice cream and we have a smoothie.  Recently I ran across a reference to "green smoothies" and decided to look up recipes for them.  The recipe that I tried first is the following:

Banana-Pineapple Smoothie
1 banana
1 cup fresh pineapple
2 cups fresh baby spinach (or other leafy green)
1/2 cup of water

One banana and 1 cup of fresh pineapple in blender.
Add two cups of fresh spinach.
 In addition to these three ingredients, add 1/2 cup of water.  Blend.  I like to add an ice cube to smoothie.

Yummy, green smoothie.
I was skeptical about this, but it is very good.  And I figure I had  four (2 cups of spinach count as two.)  of my fruit/vegetable servings for the day in this one smoothie,  It makes about a 12 oz serving. This is good and it is healthy.  Check out the following website for recipes for green smoothies: So it is easy being green.
Incredible Smoothie Recipes

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hellebores Blooming Now

Our Hellebores are blooming.

Hellebores are great shade plants and especially nice because in our grow zone they bloom in winter. The foliage is attractive and green all year round.  I've even cut a few blossoms to bring indoors.  Check out the many different varieties available at White Flower Farm. I want to order some of the more exotic varieties.
Winter Thriller Grape Galaxy (Photo from White Flower Farm website).
Winter Thrillers Green Gambler (Photo from White Flower Farm website).

Winter Thrillers Red Racer (Photo from White Flower Farm website).
Our hellebores are the common variety, Helleborus niger.  These are sometimes called Lenten rose or Christmas rose, but they are not members of the rose family.  The colored parts are not petals but actually sepals, and they can remain on the plant for several months.
It's nice to have fresh flowers from the garden in the winter.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Our Jimmy Lee Suddeth Crocodile

Our Jimmy Lee Suddeth folk art crocodile.
One of my favorite crocodiles is the Jim Suddeth folk art piece that we have in the Chatfield house study.  I acquired this about ten years ago. 

"Mr. Sudduth was internationally renowned for his inventive and joyful mud paintings on plywood. Born in Alabama in 1910, Sudduth first began painting with mud when he was three, and was fond of saying that he could identify 36 different shades of mud around his rural Alabama home. He augmented his mud images with the colors created by grasses, wild berries, and housepaint. His subjects ranged from Southern mansions and cotton picking to self-portraits, his beloved dog Toto (of which there were several), and New York City skyscrapers" ---- Ginger Young Gallery website.

I particularly like his paintings of cotton picking.

Photo from the Ginger Young Gallery wehsite.
"Toto" Suddeth's dog. Photo from Robert Cargo Art Gallery.
Suddeth's works are featured in many collections, including the Smithsonian Collection, the High Museum of Art, and the Corcoran Gallery.

Jimmy Suddeth passed away in 2007 at the age of 97.

Suddeths' hands. Photo from Graves Country Gallery.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Our State Magazine

Our State down home in North Carolina.
We don't subscribe to many magazines, but one we like is Our State.  This month's February issue is devoted to desserts---a favorite topic of mine. The feature of this issue is five new cake recipes incorporating North Carolina food traditions--Krispy Kreme, country ham, pimento cheese, Nabs and Pepsi.  If you go to the Our State website, you will find the recipes for these five cakes and there is a video of these cakes being prepared.
One cake uses Krispy Kreme donuts in the recipe.
Krispy Kreme chocolate cake. (Photo from Our State website.)
In addition to these unique cakes, there's a "Tasty Dessert Tour" across North Carolina that visits 13 bakeries and restaurants and features their signature desserts.  It just so happens that one of these is within walking distance of us.  The Hayes Barton Cafe and Dessertery is just a few blocks down the street at Five Points in Raleigh.
Coconut cake a special at the Hayes Barton Cafe.
This looked so good that I walked down to the Hayes Barton Cafe & Dessertery and brought a piece of coconut cake home.  I've never seen such a big piece of cake.  It was good, and it was enough for four servings.
A piece of coconut cake from Hayes Barton Cafe.
  Check out the February issue of Our State and all the wonderful desserts featured.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Artist

Dan and I saw the movie, The Artist, last night at the Rialto.  It was so well done and so much fun that I'm speechless (pun intended).

If you have a chance, don't miss this movie.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lettuce Wraps at Home

Home made lettuce wraps, ready to eat.

My son Patrick and I are both extremely fond of PF Chang's lettuce wraps, and I was happy to find in my inbox the other day-- the daily dish-- a recipe for lettuce wraps from Allrecipes.com.  I think I've mentioned in earlier posts this website as a source for good recipes.

I made these the other day, and I believe they are just as good as those at  PF Changs!  Patrick and I enjoyed them, anyway.  


  • 16 Boston Bibb or butter lettuce leaves (I used iceberg lettuce).
  • 1 pound lean ground beef  (I used diced chicken instead of beef).
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil (I used Canola).
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (I used the low sodium soy sauce).
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced pickled ginger (I used fresh ginger instead)
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • Asian chile pepper sauce (optional) (I omitted this.)
  • 1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil
  • I added a cup of rice noodles.
Filling for lettuce wraps.


  1. Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not to tear them. Set aside.
  2. In a medium skillet over high heat, brown the ground beef (or chicken in my case) in 1 tablespoon of oil, stirring often and reducing the heat to medium, if necessary. Drain, and set aside to cool. Cook the onion in the same pan, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar, and chile pepper sauce to the onions, and stir. Stir in chopped water chestnuts, green onions, sesame oil, and cooked beef; continue cooking until the onions just begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.
  3. Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter, and pile meat mixture in the center. To serve, allow each person to spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf. Wrap the lettuce around the meat like a burrito, and enjoy!.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Oh That Hardwood Floor!

Hardwood floor.
For several years I rolled my desk chair over our hardwood floor in the study without using a chair mat, and I completely wore the finish off the floor.  We finally decided to bite the bullet and have the floor refinished.  What an undertaking!  We moved the furniture into the guest bedroom temporarily and covered the bookcases and windows with plastic sheeting. Sanding makes an awful mess of dust.   Setting up the computers with all their attachments into another room was a major undertaking in itself. 
Everything moved to guest bedroom.
Floor before.
Floor after.

I found an area rug at Pottery Barn with wonderful colors that accent nicely the pale terra cotta of the newly painted walls.

Area rug from Pottery Barn.
Dan's side of the study.
My side of the study.
Our rearranged study with newly finished hardwood floor.
It was a major undertaking refinishing the floor, but we are happy with the results.  And now we both have chair mats to protect the floor.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Chocolate Ebelskivers for Breakfast

Chocolate ebelskivers.
I was over at Southpoint Mall the other day with friend, Mary Todd, where she had to return something at Williams-Sonoma.  It's dangerous for me to go into that store.  I remembered hearing about these little Danish filled pancakes (Ebelskivers) and the pan for cooking them that WS just happened to have.  I came home with a new kitchen toy. I also picked up a can of the chocolate Ebelskiver mix, and I made these on Saturday for breakfast.
Ebelskiver pan.
I used the Ebelskiver chocolate mix from WS.  1 3/4 cup mix, 1 1/3 cup milk, 2 eggs separated, 2 tablespoons melted butter (plus enough to grease the pan).  This makes about 4 batches or 28 pancakes.  Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks, but not dry.
Mix remaining ingredients until well-mixed and fold in egg whites.
Fold in egg whites. (This makes the pancakes very light and fluffy).
Put 1/4 tsp melted butter into each of the wells in the pan and heat until bubbly.
Heat butter over medium heat until bubbly.
Add 1 tablespoon batter to each well.  Add 2 or 3 chocolate chips to serve as the filling.
Add chocolate chips.
Add tablespoon of batter on top of chocolate chips in each well.
One tablespoon of batter added to top of chocolate chips in each well.
Cook until bottoms are brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Using wooden skewers, flip the pancakes over and cook another 3 minutes until dark brown.
Cook until brown.
 Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy.  These would be good for dessert too.  Next time I will make my own batter and will fill with apples or some kind of jam.
Ready to eat. 
Here's a video demonstrating how to make these.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Skyscrapers, My Favorite Coffee Table Book

My favorite coffee table book.
 I first encountered this beautiful book a couple of years ago while waiting to get a table at Captain Ratty’s Seafood Restaurant in New Bern, NC.  On the coffee table in the waiting area among various magazines was this book.  I began leafing through it and thought,  I have to get this book.  I feared it might be unavailable, but when I checked Amazon there it was.  I ordered it, and it has been my favorite coffee table book since.
Book displayed vertically on art shelf.
Skyscrapers are tall, and so is this book. It measures 18" by 8" and although it is a coffee table book, I display it standing vertically on the art shelf under our windows rather than flat on the coffee table.  When grandsons Zach and Brooks were here during Christmas, they plucked the book off the shelf and began perusing it with great fascination. When my teen-age grandsons became engrossed in this book, it reminded me how intriguing the book really is. 
Two-page presentation of the Eiffel Tower.
The book highlights fifty of the world’s most famous skyscrapers chronologically in two-page combinations with a stunning black and white photograph of the skyscraper on the left side and a description and interesting information about the building on the right side.

I’ve had personal experiences with some of these skyscrapers.  When my high school senior class visited Washington, DC in the mid fifties, several classmates and I walked all the way up and all the way down the 897 steps of the Washington Monument, and I developed blisters on my feet.

My favorite of all the skyscrapers in this book is the Chrysler Building in New York a photo of which graces the cover of the book.  It is the most beautiful example of Art Deco architecture I have ever seen, and the Art Deco theme is evident in the interior as well.  
The beautiful spire of the Chrysler Building. (Photo from Wikipedia).
When we were in Paris in the 80s Dan and Patrick coaxed me into taking the elevator up the Eiffel Tower.  I say coaxed because I have extreme acrophobia, and when we got off the elevator at the second level, I became so dizzy that while the two of them were enjoying their view of Paris, I was sitting on the floor leaning back against a wall as far from the overlook as I could get.
Eiffel tower. (Photo from Wikipedia).
This book was published in 1996 and included the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.  I never visited the WTC, but I guess we all experienced it vicariously as we watched in horror as the towers crashed to the ground on 9/11.
The Twin Towers. (Photo from Wikipedia).
I discovered that Judith Dupre has published an updated version of this book where she includes fifteen more skyscrapers.  With my acrophobia, the best way for me to enjoy skyscrapers is not on site but through a book, so I've ordered her update.  The book should be here any day now, and I'll be relishing my visits to tall buildings once again.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Shepherd's Pie

On these cold wintry days, Shepherd's Pie provides warm comfort food.  This is one of our favorites, especially in the winter, and it's so easy to make.  I usually make it with lamb but you can use ground beef (in this case it's referred to as Cottage Pie).
Brown 1 lb. ground lamb in 2 tbs. olive oil.
Cook small package of frozen peas/carrots in microwave 8 to 10 minutes.
Mix lamb and veggies with 1/4 cup of HP Sauce.
Place mixture into 4 greased individual casserole dishes.
Top with mashed potatoes.
Shepherd's Pie is a great way to use left over mashed potatoes.  I often use prepared mashed potatoes adding butter and a bit of milk or cream to make them spread more easily.
These work well if you don't have left overs or you don't want to prepare mashed potatoes from scratch.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes until bubbly or brown on top.  You can add grated cheese to top for the last 15 minutes.
You can bake in one large casserole dish, but I like to have the small individual servings.  I often add rosemary to the lamb when I'm browning it and sometimes onions as well.