Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Year Cocktail

Leap Year Cocktail. (Photo from 12 Bottle Bar).
If you imbibe, perhaps on this Leap Year Day you would like to try this special cocktail. In 1928, the Leap Year Cocktail was created at the Savoy Hotel in London, and it is said to have been " responsible for more proposals than any other cocktail ever mixed.”

Here's the recipe:  
2 oz gin
0.5 oz Grand Marnier 
0.5 oz  sweet vermouth
1 Dash (tsp) of Lemon Juice

Add ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake and strain into glass.  Garnish with a lemon twist.

Here's a video from YouTube illustrating mixing of this cocktail.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tom Ford's Not a Football Player???

Before the Academy Awards on Sunday night, if someone had asked me who Tom Ford is I would probably have guessed, "A football player in the NFL?"  Louis Vuitton? I know. Armani? I know.  And now I know that Tom Ford is an American fashion designer who designed the lovely dress Gwyneth Paltrow was wearing on the Red Carpet at the Academy Awards.  I'm not one to follow the latest fashion trends.  Nevertheless, for the Oscars I decided I would choose my favorite three dresses the stars were wearing.

My favorite was the white dress with cape worn by Gwyneth Paltrow and designed by Tom Ford.  She was stunning.
Gwyneth Paltrow, simple, elegant, regal.

My second choice is the dress worn by Penelope Cruz and designed by Armani.  A glamorous periwinkle blue with a short train. I liked the hairstyle of Cruz as well--reminded me of Grace Kelly.
Penelope Cruz in blue dress by Armani.

And lovely Michelle Williams wearing a strapless,coral dress by Louis Vuitton was my third choice. This reminds me, I've yet to see My Week With Marilyn starring Williams.
Michelle Williams wearing Louis Vuitton.
So there you have it--- my take on the fashions on the Red Carpet on Oscar night.  And now I know that Tom Ford is not an NFL football star.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Shrimp 'n Grits Throwdown at the Carolina Inn

Shrimp 'n Grits Throwdown at the Carolina Inn (Photo by Bridget Whelan).
On Saturday, the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill sponsored a Shrimp 'n Grits Throwdown.  Dan and I like Shrimp 'n Grits, and we like the Carolina Inn, but unfortunately I was home recuperating from eye surgery and missed this.  But I'm sharing some photos by Bridget Whelan from WRAL.  So let's vicariously enjoy this.

The event enjoyed by 200 patrons of the Carolina Inn was a sold-out fund raiser for TABLE, a local charity benefiting children who are at-risk for hunger.
Trey Cleveland's winning dish (Photo by Bridget Whelan).
Seven local chefs prepared shrimp and grits, and the judges chose Trey Cleveland from Top of the Hill in Chapel Hill as the winner with his dish: a crisp fried grit cake topped with shrimp and a creamy mushroom sauce.

Attendees voted for their favorite and chose the dish of Vimala Rajendran  of Vimala's Curry Blossom Cafe: spicy shrimp, full of Indian curry flavors.
Fan's favorite: curried shrimp and grits. (Photo by Bridget Whelan).

For a full account of this event and for more photos check out the website of WRAL.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oscars Tonight

I enjoy watching the Oscars each year, and I'm looking forward to seeing who wins tonight.  Here are some of my favorite winners of past years:
Best Actress Elizabeth Taylor ("Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"). 1967

Best Actor John Wayne ("True Grit"). 1970

Best Actor Henry Fonda, Best Actress Katherine Hepburn, (" On Golden Pond"). 1982
Best Picture winner “Terms of Endearment,” with the movie’s Best Actress winner Shirley MacLaine and Supporting Actor winner Jack Nicholson. (1984).
Best Picture ("Rainman"), 1989.
Best Picture (The King's Speech"), 2011.

And one of my all time favorite songs to win is "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.  It won for best song in 1970 for the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid".  A great movie, with two great actors, Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Have a listen.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Irva's Peanut Butter Pie

Peanut Butter Pie (Photo by Irva Maddox).

Facebook is great for connecting with friends and family and for getting new recipes.  Recently my college friend and current FB friend, Irva, posted a photo of her peanut butter pie and upon request she posted the recipe.  Irva and I were at Gardner-Webb and Appalachian together in the late 50s and have recently reconnected via Facebook.  So here's Irva's pie recipe. 

Mix a cup of confectioners sugar and 1/2 C lite peanut butter to meal consistency and pour into lite pie shell. Save a little of this mixture for topping.

Mix FF/SF vanilla pudding with low fat milk as directed on box and pour into pie shell. Place in fridge until firm.
When firm, top with small amount of lite Cool Whip. Sprinkle top with crumbs saved.*

*I forgot to save some of the crumbs for sprinkling on top, so I finely grated dark chocolate on top as garnish.  By not reserving some of the crumbs for the top, the layer of crumbs in the bottom of the pie was a little too thick and that made it difficult to cut a nice clean slice.  Next time, I will remember to reserve some of the crumbs for garnish.

According to my calculations, there are 1900 calories in the whole pie, so calories in one serving  ( 1/8 of pie) will be 240 calories.  So this is a fairly low calorie recipe for a  peanut butter pie.

Thanks, Irva, for sharing this recipe.  

Friday, February 24, 2012

Shrimp, Artichoke, Havarti Casserole (One of my Favorite Recipes)

Shrimp, artichoke, Havarti casserole.

Several years ago my friend Virginia served this wonderful casserole for lunch, and it's been on my list of favorites ever since.  Everyone in my family, even the children, loves this, and it is easy to prepare.  My friends like it too.

                                           SHRIMP, ARTICHOKE, HAVARTI CASSEROLE
(Recipe from Virginia Tucker, easy and quick and delicious)

2 cans quartered artichokes, drained
1 to 1.5 lbs. Shrimp
Havarti cheese
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 4 garlic cloves

In saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat and simmer garlic cloves until brown to infuse oil with garlic flavor.  Remove garlic cloves.  Quickly sauté artichokes and place in bottom of casserole dish (along with any remaining oil).  Top artichokes with raw shrimp.  Place slices of Havarti cheese on top of shrimp. (You can sprinkle some Parmesan on top of all of this—optional).  Bake at 350 degrees long enough to melt the cheese well and brown it a bit here and there.
Serves 4

Serve with French bread.  Makes a nice light meal and leaves room for dessert!!!
Saute artichokes in garlic infused olive oil.
Place artichokes in casserole dish.
Add raw shrimp to artichokes.
Top with slices of Havarti cheese.
Casserole baked and ready to enjoy.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

J L Kirkman's Antique Mall

Kirkman's Antique Mall on Hwy 17 in New Bern.
I can't resist popping into an Antique Mall, and I visited this one last week when I was in New Bern.  I didn't have as much time as I would have liked.  I could have spent a day here.  I saw lots of pretty things.

I actually bought this pretty tangerine tray.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Our Fireplace Doesn't Turn On

Nothing like a nice wood fire in the fireplace.
I love the smell of wood burning in the fireplace, and there's nothing like sitting by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book---a great way to spend the afternoon.  We usually have a fire at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or when it snows.  However, this winter has been so warm that we've not had a fire until the other day.  We had a dusting of snow, and that gave me an excuse to build a fire. 
Hot chocolate and a book by the fire.

Our kids have been after us to convert the fireplace to gas logs, and we've thought that once we use up our firewood we might consider doing that.  I realize that burning wood contributes to pollution, and it is a chore to haul wood and clean ashes. And every few years we have to hire a chimney sweep to clean out the fireplace and chimney.

Son Michael and his family like their fireplace with gas logs. Once when grandson, Tyler, was about three years old, and he was visiting, he asked me, "Grandpat, will you turn on your fire?"  He had seen his family turn on a switch, and presto there was a fire in the fireplace.  I had to explain to him that our fireplace didn't "turn on".
Our firewood.
Perhaps, when we use all our firewood, we will convert to a fireplace that "turns on", but unless it gets a bit colder. it looks as if we will have another winter's worth of wood and another winter to sit by a real fire.  Suits me.

A fireplace that "turns on" may be in our future.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Our Garden Witch is Dressed for Mardi Gras

I have dressed our garden witch for Mardi Gras.  I usually have her dressed according to the season, and I think she looks ready for a Mardi Gras party.

I hope everyone has a Happy Mardi Gras Day!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Jambalaya for Mardi Gras

 I'm making Jambalaya today to serve tomorrow for Mardi Gras.  Tomorrow I'm having outpatient eye surgery, so I want to have dinner ready when I get home. This will be good warmed up.

I'm using Mark Bittman's recipe from Cooking Light. 

1 teaspoon olive oil  
1 cup chopped onion  
1/2 cup chopped celery  
1 tablespoon tomato paste (Tip:  When just a small amount of tomato paste is needed in a recipe, I use a tube rather than open a can.  A tube will keep in the fridge for up to a year.)
1 teaspoon dried basil
Dash of ground red pepper 
3 garlic cloves, minced  
1 bay leaf
2 (14.5-ounce) cans Cajun-recipe stewed tomatoes with pepper, garlic, and Cajun spices (such as Del Monte)  ( I couldn't find these, and I just used cans of diced tomatoes, but I added a teaspoon of Texas Pete to spice this up a bit).
6 ounces andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (Andouille is a spiced, heavily smoked pork sausage).
1 (2-ounce) jar diced pimento, drained 
3 cups cooked long-grain rice
1/2 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and next 9 ingredients (onion through pimento); cook 7 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently. Stir in rice and shrimp; cook 6 minutes or until shrimp are done.

Cook first 9 ingredients about 7 minutes.
I use tomato paste from tube when recipe calls for small amount.

Add cooked rice and shrimp and cook until shrimp are done, about 6 minutes.

Jambalaya ready to enjoy.

Hank Williams Sr. sang this song in 1952 and it was a big hit.  It was a favorite of my Dad's, and I can remember him singing it as he was working around the house.  This is Hank Williams Jr's version.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Les Miserables

Dan and I are going to see Les Miserables this afternoon at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium.  This production is part of the Broadway Series South.

"Cameron Mackintosh presents a brand new 25th anniversary production of Boublil & Schönberg’s legendary musical, LES MISÉRABLES, with glorious new staging and dazzlingly reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo.  This new production has been acclaimed by critics, fans and new audiences and is breaking box office records wherever it goes."
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium.