Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Fall is my favorite season, which used to give me pause when I was young. I wondered why I so loved the time of year when everything was dying. I've long since overcome that; I love the crispness in the air, the palette of changing leaves, the expanse of blue sky with clouds that seem a million miles away. Not to be overlooked in my eulogy to fall are the wonderful comfort foods that seem made for this time of year. Soups and stews are high on my list of autumnal cuisine.

Over at Teresa's http://www.mexicanamericanbordercooking.blogspot.com/ I found a delicious new soup to try, Caldo de Albondigas--Mexican meatball soup. Teresa's blog is a favorite, both for the wonderful recipes and her great photography. I followed the recipe almost exactly; I substituted 2 quarts of beef broth for water since we like a beef base better than a vegetable one. I now have 2 large containers in the freezer for future dinners and we had a very satisfying meal last night of salad, soup, and quesadillas that I whipped up from ingredients on hand. There is a bit of prep work to the soup--chopping mostly--but when you see the yield and taste the results, I'm sure you'll feel it's time well spent.

Mexican Meatball Soup (a la Teresa of Mexican American Border Cooking)
2 lbs ground beef
2 eggs
1/2 cup long grain rice
2 tsp ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup onion, finely minced
salt and pepper to taste
3 stalks celery, chopped
6 carrots, chopped
1 3/4 lb potatoes, cubed
1 (9 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 qts beef broth plus 2 qts water

OPTIONAL: lime wedges, tortillas, Bolillos

Mix the ground beef with the eggs, rice, cumin, and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use a melon baller to shape the mixture into 1 1/2 inch meatballs. Bring 2 quarts of water plus 2 quarts of beef broth to a boil and gently place the meatballs into the liquid. Add the onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, and tomato sauce. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour--until the vegetables and rice are tender. Serve hot garnished with the cilantro.

Arlene's "What's in the Cupboard" Quesadillas
1 link chorizo sausage, diced small
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
4 flour tortillas
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup shredded cheese (I used Asiago--hey, I'm Italian!)
In a nonstick pan, heat the olive oil, then add the chorizo and onion and saute over medium heat until onion carmelizes. Add cilantro and toss to mix.

Layer 2 tortillas with the chorizo-onion mixture, top with half the shredded cheese and place the other 2 tortillas on top. Cook in nonstick pan, turning to brown both sides. You could also use a panini grill or quesadilla maker (neither of which I felt like washing).

Monday, September 29, 2008


Not having WiFi available while on vacation gave me blog hop withdrawal. In an attempt to make up for 7 days of cold turkey, I visited many of my favorite sites yesterday. While I was checking into what some of my favorite bloggers were up to, I was redirected to a new site, Sandie's http://www.inncuisine.com/. Of course the minute I saw the word "chocolate" in one of her posts, I homed in on it. Larry was already asking what we had in the way of dessert. Since I was planning on making soup and there was plenty of prep work to do, I thought this not-from-scratch cake was a good bet.

As Sandie explained, we shouldn't necessarily turn up our noses at the notion of using an occasional short cut, in this instance a cake mix. While the original recipe specifically calls for the cook and serve variety of pudding, I only had sugar free, fat free instant. Since necessity is the mother of invention and all that, I used it and the cake turned out moist, chocolatey, and delicious. So, if you have just a few minutes to put dessert on the table, this is the way to go.

1 pkg. chocolate pudding
1 box devil's food cake (I used the 88 cent store brand)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I had pecans; I used pecans)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 13X9X2 inch pan.

In a large bowl, prepare the chocolate pudding according to package instructions. Blend the cake mix (dry mix only) thoroughly into the pudding. I did this by hand, being unwilling to wash too many utensils, but feel free to use a mixer. Pour into the greased pan. Sprinkle the top of the batter with the chocolate morsels and chopped nuts. Bake 35 minutes. Cake will still look a bit runny, but let it sit and cool . Serve warm or cool with whipped cream or ice cream or even plain.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Slideshow: WW II Veterans Remembered

I wanted to give an explanation of the short slideshow I've posted on this blog.

Our recent trip to Longboat Key took us to the Ronald Reagan Airport in Washington, D.C. on a day when a group of 150 veterans of World War II from Ohio were being flown to our Capitol to visit the World War II Memorial. Announcements over the loudspeaker brought a great crowd to greet these men and women, part of what has been called "The Greatest Generation," as they deplaned. There were very few there who didn't have a tear in their eye or a lump in their throat as they witnessed this touching scene. What a wonderful enterprise has been undertaken across America as corporate sponsors fly our veterans free of charge so that they might see firsthand the memorial to their service.

Today, closer to home in Orange County, New York, Larry and I attended a quilt show and found a small, privately owned collection of World War II quilts on display. Many of these quilts were made as fund-raisers. Citizens donated money for the privilege of signing their names to some of these quilts which were then raffled off, the proceeds of which were used for various service-related endeavors. One quilt featured songs of the era. Another was comprised of pillows that servicemen were able to buy on posts.

My father served in the Air Force; Larry's father in the Navy. My father's oldest brother was killed during the invasion of Normandy. As we near our national election I could not think of a more appropriate time to give thanks to the men and women who have helped keep our nation free.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


This month's Daring Bakers' challenge was a far cry from last month's eclairs, but I'm certain I'll be making lavash again. Lavash is an Armenian-style cracker similar to other middle eastern and northern African flatbreads such as mankoush, pita, and kesret. The primary difference among these flatbreads is either how thick or thin they are rolled out or the type of oven in which they are baked. Our challenge was to make lavash and a vegan dip or topping or salsa or spread to serve with it.

I've been playing around with bread baking, so I had all the supplies on hand. Better results are had by weighing the flour instead of measuring it.
To make 1 sheet of crackers:
1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour
1/2 tsp salt (.13 oz)
1/2 tsp instant yeast (.055 oz)
1 tbs sugar (.75 oz)
1 tbs vegetable oil (.5 oz)
1/2 cup + 2 tbs water, at room temperature

OPTIONAL: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, caraway seeds, kosher salt, cinnamon and sugar

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, yeast, sugar, oil, and enough of the water to bring everything together in a ball (I used all the water).

Sprinkle some flour on your surface and knead the dough for at least 10 minutes, until the ingredients are evenly distributed.

The dough should pass the windowpane test (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bre...ong-Enough) for a full explanation of this.

Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it ferment for 90 minutes.
Mist the surface lightly with nonstick spray and press the dough into a square with your hand. Dust the top of the dough lightly with flour, then roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 X 12. Cover it with a towel and let it rest for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle the top of your dough with desired seeds or toppings and lightly press in with the rolling pin.

Carefully lift the sheet of dough to the parchment lined sheet. If you wish to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter to do so. You need not separate the pieces now; they will snap apart after baking. Mist with water. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the crackers have begun to evenly brown across the top. Cool in the pan 10 minutes.

To serve with the lavash, I used my recipe for hummus (see earlier post at left) to which I added the cloves of 1 head of roasted garlic and 1 roasted red pepper. The results were delicious.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Call me a snob, but I believe that bittersweet chocolate is the sophisticated chocolate. I'll eat milk chocolate in a pinch; semi-sweet chocolate is better; white chocolate: never. So when I came across this recipe for walnut brownies that had a touch of the bittersweet, I knew they wouldn't be common. The recipe is from one of my Border bargains, Baking: A Commonsense Guide, published in Australia.

Serving - 24 brownies
2/3 cup self-raising flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa poweder
1 cup sugar
11 1/2 oz unsalted butter, melted
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chips
1 cup walnut pieces

Preheat the oven to350 degrees and grease a 9 X 13 inch shallow baking pan. Line with parchment paper, leaving it hanging over the 2 long sides.

Sift together the flour and cocoa powder, then add the sugar. Make a well in the center and add the butter, eggs, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Fold in the bittersweet chocolate chips and walnut pieces. Spoon into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 25 - 30 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean). Leave in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

You'll notice a very different texture to these brownies. I've never before encountered a recipe for them that calls for adding melted butter as opposed to creaming the sugar and butter. They can be dusted with confectioners' sugar or just served plain. I would serve them with a raspberry coulis and a dab of whipped cream and they would make an elegant dessert.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


On a lark, I entered a recipe contest last month for a county magazine that I pick up in some of my favorite local restaurants. ORANGE MAGAZINE NY (http://www.orangemagazineny.com/) features local businesses, among them restaurants and food purveyors, and put out a call for recipes that include orange as an ingredient or flavor. There were 4 categories: appetizer, entree, dessert, and beverage. I submitted my recipe for Orange and Dark Chocolate Tart. Imagine my surprise when I returned home on Sunday to find a telephone message congratulating me for being a semi-finalist in this contest. The winner will be selected based on the total number of votes received via online voting. If you would like to vote--up to 5 times a day--please log on to the URL posted above.

I will be making this favorite very soon, but I'm posting the recipe here in case you'd like to do a "trial run" so that you can serve this at an upcoming holiday party. It's very rich and a little bit goes a long way.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup all purpose flour

1 cup slivered almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup whipping cream
8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 tbs orange liqueur

1 orange
1/4 cup sugar

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and salt until smooth. Beat in the cocoa powder. Add the flour and beat until the dough comes together in moist clumps. Gather the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm (at least 1 hour).

Roll out the dough between sheets of waxed paper to an 11 inch round. Peel off the paper and invert the dough over a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the dough into the pan, pressing the overhang to form double-thick sides. Pierce the dough all over with a fork, the refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the crust until the sides look dry and the bottom looks
bubbly (12-15 minutes). Transfer the crust to a rack and use the back of a spoon to press up the sides if they are falling. Cool completely.

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel in strips (be sure not to cut into the white pith, which is bitter). Cut the strips into matchstick sized pieces and place in a small saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Cook 30 seconds, then drain. Rinse the saucepan and add 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tbs water, and the peel. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Simmer until the peel is translucent and the syrup is thick (20-30 minutes). Use the tines of a fork to carefully transfer the peel to a plate to cool. Cover and store at room temperature.

Toss the almonds, sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Chop all but 2 strips of the orange peel. Sprinkle chopped orange peel, then almond mixture, over the bottom of the prepared crust. Place cream in a heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Whisk until all the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Mix in the orange liqueur. Pour into crust and refrigerate at least 3 hours. Garnish with the remaining 2 slices of orange peel strips.

To serve, use a sharp knife and gently loosen the crust from the sides of the pan. Cut into wedges and serve cold.

When I was blog hopping yesterday, I visited one of my favorite site's, Jenn's THE LEFTOVER QUEEN. There I read about a wonderful blogging event that I'd like to share with you:

O Foods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of Gina DePalma, author of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen and Executive Pastry Chef of Babbo Ristorante in NYC, who was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Sara of Ms Adventures in Italy, Jenn of The Leftover Queen, and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso are asking you to donate to the:
Ovarian Cancer Research Fund and then, out of the goodness of your hearts and to be eligible for the OFoods for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month Contest, please do the following:

Post a recipe to your blog using a food that starts or ends with the letter O (e.g., oatmeal, orange, okra, octopus, olive, onion, potato, tomato) and include this entire text box in the post;
If you’re not into the recipe thing, simply post this entire text box in a post on your blog to help spread the word about the event and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
Then send your post url [along with a photo (100 x 100) if you’ve made a recipe] to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on September 30, 2008.

We will post a roundup and announce prize winners on October 3.
1 Recipe Prize for best “O food” concoction: $50 gift certificate to Amazon;
1 Awareness Prize for only publicizing event: Copy of Dolce Italiano cookbook.
From the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund:
Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women; a woman’s lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is 1 in 67.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 21,650 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the U.S. in 2008 and about 15,520 women will die from the disease.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and subtle, making it difficult to diagnose. There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer but there are tests which can detect ovarian cancer when patients are at high risk or have early symptoms.
In spite of this patients are usually diagnosed in advanced stages and only 45% survive longer than five years. Only 19% of cases are caught before the cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region.
When ovarian cancer is detected and treated early on, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92%.
Please donate to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund and help spread the word!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Even though it's still in the 80's outdoors, it is, after all, fall. The leaves are already starting to turn. So, too, are my thoughts...to soups and stews and other comfort foods of autumn. At a recent farmers' market I bought some frozen crab cakes. Today was a busy day with an hour's drive to the dentist, so I decided to make the crab cakes with a salad of radicchio and romaine. What to do about a side dish? I just happened to have a brick of Cabot's 50% reduced fat Cheddar cheese and a box of Ronzoni Smart Taste penne. If you are interested in making healthier choices and haven't tried either of these products, you really should. I highly recommend both. They TASTE good and the cheese actually melts. Since I am still trying to focus on healthy eating, I toned down the roux considerably without sacrificing too much taste or texture. I also decided to forego the bread crumb topping since the crab cakes already had bread crumbs. I was pleased with the taste and the ease of preparation. Remember, this is NOT your usual decadent, fat-infused mac n' cheese. It is, however, a quick and healthy substitute when you want some daily points (WW) left over for another indulgence.

4 Servings (4 pts each)
2 cups dried pasta (elbows, penne, wagon wheels)
4 tsp all purpose flour
1 tbs Olivio
1/2 cup fat free milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 brick (8 oz) Cabot's 50% reduced fat Cheddar cheese, shredded

Cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente pasta. Drain and place in a bowl sprayed with non stick cooking spray.

Using the same pot, melt the butter and add the flour over medium heat, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes until the flour browns lightly. Add the milk a little at a time, whisking constantly until it begins to thicken. Add the cheese while continuing to whisk until it is fully melted. Add to the pasta and mix thoroughly.

TO TURN THIS INTO AN ENTREE: Steam or broil or grill 8 oz of turkey kielbasa. Cut into rounds and add to the mac n' cheese. Serves 2.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Chicken fingers are not just for kids. What's not to like about dipping a crunchy piece of chicken into honey mustard sauce? Okay, the fat. That's not a problem if you bake the chicken fingers. The crunch will still be there, especially if you use panko (Japanese-style) bread crumbs. You can save money if you skin and bone your own chicken breasts, then slice them into fingers. Or, you can do as I do--wait until the tenders are on sale and stock up. I have about 5 packages in the freezer right now.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a sheet of aluminum foil over a baking sheet and spray with nonstick spray.

1 lb chicken fingers
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup light, whipped unsalted butter, melted

I like to eliminate a lot of dishes, so I generally use a small paper bowl for the melted butter and a paper plate or sheet of waxed paper for the bread crumbs. Just dip the finger in the melted butter, then roll in the bread crumbs and place on the foil lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, turn over, and bake for 8 - 10 minutes more.

To make a honey mustard dipping sauce, combine equal amounts of honey and Dijon mustard.

Kids of all ages love chicken fingers!

Yesterday I decided to decorate for fall. I hauled up boxes and bags from the basement and proceeded to drape the mantel, hang wreaths, change candles, and otherwise transform the "summer" house into the "fall" house. I was surprised that I wasn't getting the usual help from the girls, so I looked around for them. Imagine my surprise when I found Molly. I don't think she has a death wish, but she was clearly annoyed when I snapped her picture and immediately joined her sister on the bed.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I've never met a brownie I didn't like. I may be partial to dark chocolate, but I love blondies and marbled cheesecake brownies, too. An orange brownie sounded intriguing, but it was the orange cream cheese frosting that really got my attention. I don't generally use Paula Deen's recipes; they are just too laden with fat. This recipe, however, did not have a disproportionate amount of fat and, with the substitution of Neufchatel cheese for cream cheese and the addition of some toasted coconut, these orangies could become a new favorite.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 eggs
2 tsp pure orange extract
1 tsp grated orange zest

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13 X 9 inch pan.

Stir together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter, eggs, orange extract, and orange zest. Using a hand held mixer, beat until well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan.

1 (8 oz) pkg Neufchatel cheese, softened
4 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 (1 lb) box confectioners' sugar
2 tbs orange zest
2 tbs orange juice

OPTIONAL: Spread 1/2 cup of shredded coconut on a cookie sheet and place in a 350 degree oven. Watch carefully, stirring as it turns a light brown. Cool before sprinkling over frosting.

In a large mixing bowl, whip the butter and cream cheese with a hand held mixer. Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar until frosting is smooth. Beat in the orange zest and orange juice.

Use a fork to pierce the pan of brownies. Spread icing over brownies. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Cut into desired sized squares.

Larry doesn't quite get the concept of orange brownies, but they're sure disappearing fast. I made him bring a bunch to work today since they have been known to call my name.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I do a lot of marinating, but I've just gotten into "rubs." Most rubs are dry, like the one I used on my pork with mop sauce. Today I tried one that can best be described as "slushy." I bought some lovely boneless rib eyes and left them in this rub for about 2 hours. Then I grilled on high, about 5 minutes on each side. I should have done mine a bit less for medium rare, but they turned out well. Larry liked the slightly sweet taste that was derived from the brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. We ate the steaks with smashed potatoes--you must try them if you haven't already--corn on the cob, and sauteed mushrooms and onions.

Mix in a gallon sized storage bag:
1 T BBQ seasoning
1 tsp paprika
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T brown sugar
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp each: rosemary, tarragon, thyme
2 T extra virgin olive oil
several grinds sea salt and black pepper

Add the steaks, seal, and place in refrigerator. Turn several times while they marinate.

I'm going to try this same rub on a flank steak. I think we have to invest in a new grill soon. We use ours throughout the year, even when it snows since Larry plows off the patio. It sure keeps the oven cleaner!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Pittypat is feeling exceptionally adventurous this morning. She's been trying to make the acquaintance of these 2 "pets" for some time now, but she's not quite tall enough yet.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I can't believe it's been so long since I posted. We took a weekend trip to West, by God, Virginia for my beautiful great-niece's second birthday. She was born the day before my mom's birthday. Since we lost mom in June, I really wanted to be there to celebrate this new little life that meant so much to her.

Back home, we are finally getting a good, soaking rain, much needed. I have lots to do to get ready for our short trip to Longboat Key where I've been busy redecorating. I have my Daring Bakers' challenge to do, but will wait until tomorrow when it isn't so damp. No, I can't tell you yet what we're making; that will wait until 9/27 when we all post our challenges. I wanted to bake Larry something this morning, but I'm all out of butter and have just a few eggs. I thought I might grocery shop today, but was invited to lunch instead, so will do that. Yes, retirement is grand.

This runner that I've posted was supposed to be part of a queen-sized quilt. I unfortunately signed up for this class before I knew what I was in for. I knew we would all make the same quilt, but I didn't realize the fabrics were already selected for us. I also learned that I do not like Thimbleberries' fabric. So, while I kept up with all the blocks and trims, I decided not to throw good money after bad and make the quilt. Instead, I'm using various blocks and trims to make runners, small wallhangings, and pillows. I decided to use one of the yo yo makers a friend gave me to make a different kind of trim for this runner. I didn't use the pattern that the club provided either--I don't generally follow recipes to the letter either, but that's a pattern in and of itself, isn't it?

I hope to do some baking tomorrow and get back into food blogging, but in the meantime, I'm having a great time checking out everyone else's recipes.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Sadly, my basill is finished for the season. If I had been better about watering it during this drought, it would have lasted longer. I still have a few cubes of pesto that I've frozen, but I'll be needing to buy some basil to make enough to keep us going during the fall, winter, and spring. It's so convenient to dip into the bag of frozen pesto cubes and toss one into a pot of sauce or over some cooked chicken. It defrosts quickly and can be used as a panini spread or a pizza topping. My recipe is simple (see sidebar) and if you have a bumper crop of basil, make some and freeze in ice cube trays as I've explained. Don't believe those recipe that tell you you can substitute parsley or spinach and used dried basil. They taste terrible!

Last night was a burger, corn on the cob night, so I quickly threw together a pesto pasta salad.

1 lb. mini fusilli (DeCecco makes 3 varieties of mini pasta, great for cold salads)
3 cubes of frozen pesto
olive oil
grated cheese
toasted pine nuts (about 1/3 cup)

Cook the pasta according to taste. Rinse with cold water to stop cooking and drain well. Toss in pesto cubes, drizzle liberally with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with grated cheese. Toss well. Add pine nuts and mix. Best served room temperature. Leftovers can be resurrected with the addition of more olive oil.

In my profile I mention that Larry and I live in a log home with our 2 cats. Molly is almost 5 years old. She's pleasingly plump, though the vet says she's fine at 16 pounds. She really doesn't overeat since I measure out their dry food twice a day. She's big-boned! Pittypat is just 1. She's more slender, like Blueberry (sadly, our 19 year old cat had to be euthanized last year). Molly and Pitty are inseparable though from their daily and nightly wrestling matches, you'd think they were bitter enemies. Molly is always looking to play, even though she's older, but Pitty is just too fast. We should have named her Road Runner. Her best tricks include playing leap frog--hey, why go around Molly when you can leap over her--and racing around the hardwood floors and coming to a screeching halt--witness the teeny little clawmarks all over our living room and dining room.

One of the beauties of living in a log home in the woods is the constant feeling that I'm on vacation. This early morning light is the scene I view through our living room window every day. We've only covered our bathrooms and bedroom with window coverings so we can take advantage of the daily show. Right now 3 fawns and 2 does eat at our salad bar each day (A.K.A. our landscaping). They are joined by a dozen and a half wild turkey who love to roll and scratch in the leaves and on our lawn (Larry is not as happy about this; he's constantly raking the leaves off our long driveway and we now have to plant a raised bed around the trees since they've rubbed off all the grass). Last year we had 3 red fox living in a hollowed out stump in the ravine to the side of our living room. Our hawks have just build a third nest, this one right in front of the house in an old oak tree.

So, when I'm not cooking or baking or quilting or reading or playing Scrabble online, I love to sit and watch the show outside my window. I'm waxing eloquent today because it's the First
Day of school and I'm here instead of in front of the school welcoming the children back from summer vacation. Yes, I do miss seeing the fresh faces of the kindergartners and the mommies and daddies busy snapping pictures. I miss the excitement of a new school year and catching up with my staff--who's pregnant (ouch! another sub needed), who's bought a new house, who is having husband/wife/children issues at home. But, when all is said and done, it's awfully nice to recite the Pledge alone in my living room and sip my second cup of coffee.