Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wordless Wednesday...A Few More Lighthouses

All Maine this week...

One of the "Two Lights" at Cape Elizabeth

Rockland Breakwater Light

Lobster boats in Bass Harbor

Marshall Point

Bass Harbor Light

...as always, for more Wordless Wednesday, check these out.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Musing Monday..Plan? I Don't Need No Stinking Plan!

Nice and early Monday morning, so let's see what MizB at Should Be Reading is asking this week...

This week’s musing asks…
How far along are you in your current read before you start thinking about what you’ll read next?

Wait, let me get this right. You think I should be picking my next book to read while I am reading the current book? Really?

I may have mentioned it before, but when it comes to my reading, and actually when it come to this blog, I really have no..or very little..plan. It's how I roll. :-)
I remember first reading about fellow bloggers who keep a calendar of what has to be read and/or reviewed by a certain date. Log and charts and graphs, oh my! And I must say I was impressed. But I have no plan of following their plan...if that is not too many plans for you.

First, I am not the most organized of people. Not like one of those people who hoard stuff unplanned, but not up to keep some giant calender with my reading obligations. Which is maybe why I miss a few, or a lot, from time to time. If I am part of a tour, OK, I pay attention to that. But reviewing on or close to the publication date of a review book, as I attempt, not so good. But I am doing the best that I can, without trying too hard. If that makes sense.

Reading, even reading review books, is not my job. It is suppose to be fun. And keeping charts and graphs and such is too much like work to be fun. When it is not fun for me, I will just stop doing it.

So when do I pick my next read?
When I finish the current one.
I think "Hmmm..what will I read next?" I do consider what review books I have that will be coming up soon. And I consider if I have a library book that is due back soon sitting around.
But most of all I just consider what I feel like reading. Do I have one from a favorite author waiting, or one I read a great review of somewhere?
Do I want something more serious, or something a bit fast and lighter? A thriller, a cozy, non-fiction or, oh heavens, a memoir? It will all effect what I pick.
Right after I turn the last page of this one.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Weekend Cooking...Pork Rolls Stuffed With Ricotta and Spinach

What to cook, what to cook??

Well, I am a believer that you should cook to use up what is on hand whenever possible, so when I saw this recipe in the Philadelphia Inquirer the other day, I was hooked. I had that left over container of ricotta in the frig (wow, that has a long expiration date!) and that boneless pork loin I bought on sale at the supermarket.

OK, yes, I made some changes in my version.
The original recipe use 1/8 lb. slices and I used 1/4 lb. pieces, slicing a one pound piece in four. Pork dries out easily and that original thickness sounded too thin. They put the pancetta on the outside, I rolled it into the filling and I added the Parmesan cheese. They used toothpicks to close, which never works for me or the thicker pieces, so I tied them. I dusted the rolls with flour, to get that extra browning, added garlic to the sauce and I add the parsley and capers to the sauce at the end and reduced it to concentrate the flavors.
OK, I made quite a few changes, but the idea is the same.

Pork Rolls Stuffed With Ricotta and Spinach
(adapted from Cucina Provera)

Makes 4 servings
  • 8 ounces spinach, steamed, drained and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 pound boneless pork loin, sliced into 4 pieces
  • 4 thin slices pancetta
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2-3 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 1 Tbs. chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp. capers
1. In a medium bowl, combine the spinach, parmesan and ricotta and stir to blend. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Set aside.

2. Place a slice of pork between 2 pieces of parchment paper, and roll with a rolling pin until flattened to an even thickness, about 1/4 inch. Repeat to flatten the remaining slices. Put on a slice of pancetta and spread a thin layer of the spinach mixture on top, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Roll up and tie at each end with cooking string to secure. Repeat with remaining pork. Roll each piece in flour until just dusted.
3. In a large, heavy saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and sear the rolls for about 2 minutes on each side. Remove the pork, add chopped garlic and brown slightly. Now add the wine and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. 
Put the rolls back in the pan and simmer briskly for 7 to 8 minutes, turning the rolls once or twice to cook them through. Remove pork to a plate and cut and remove the string. Add parsley, and capers, if desired, and bring to a boil, reducing sauce to desire thickness. 
Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.
Serve at once.


Very nice, I must say, and pretty quick to cook.
I loved the pork, by I think it would be just as good with veal or chicken or even beef. And you could use stock instead of wine, although the wine adds a lot of flavor to the sauce. And the dish is nice served with a glass of it as well.

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Review of "A Superior Death" [10]

A Superior Death by Nevada Barr
Putnam Adult, ISBN 978-0399139161
(March 23, 1994, 303 pages

Anna Pigeon is not really a cold weather person, preferring the dry, hot desert, but I guess National Park service rangers do not always have totally control over where they are assigned. Which is maybe why she finds herself on the decided cold Lake Superior, a ranger in Michigan's Isle Royale National Park, in this, the second in Barr's series. But then that watery, chilly setting is exactly why I picked this one out of the 17 Anna Pigeon books to read. You know what they say...every adventure is better with a boat...and there will be any number of boats this time around, as well as some cold and dangerous scuba diving and a sunken ghost ship, deep at the bottom of Superior.

As one of the ranger assigned to Michigan's Isle Royale park, out on Lake Superior, one of Anna's duties is to give permits to recreational divers who want to check out the sunken wrecks that dot the area,. This includes the one that entails the most dangerous dive, the Kamloops, which still contains the bodies of five crew members, preserved since their deaths in 1927 by the icy old water of the Great Lake. But when the divers show her some pictures they took down there and the pictures show six bodies, it soon looks like murder is the only way to explain that new inhabitant of the ship.

The sixth man turns out to be expert local diver Denny Castle, murdered shortly after his recent wedding and found in the ship, dressed, bizarrely, in the uniform of a 19th century ship's captain.
Who could have wanted him dead? Maybe the twin brother and sister who were his partners on a dive boat and look to now inherit the business. Or maybe his new wife, who never reported him missing and takes the news of her husband's death rather oddly. Or how about Anna's fellow ranger Scotty Butcus, whose own wife has appeared to have gone missing as well. And what of the rumors that she and the dead man, Denny, were involved
Oh, there are any number of odd and quirky characters on the island who might be guilty of something, including one very strange murder.

I have read a number of books in the Anna Pigeon series and picking up one is always like returning to spend some time with an old friend. It's comfortable and you know that you are going to have a good time. While I usually suggest reading a series in order, I have not done that with this series over the years, actually picking a book by what sounds like a interesting setting and this was perhaps my favorite setting of them all. Yes, I like the boats and the chilly summer weather, but perhaps what was best were the parts about the deep and dangerous dives. Very interesting and not a little scary.
And, of course, Anna is a great character, funny and smart and far from perfect, sustained by regular chats with her NYC therapist sister, Molly and a glass or two ...or three or four of wine, something which at this point in the series appears to be a bit of an issue for Anna. But we will forgive her....she is only human. And we like her.

Anna's take on the tourists visiting the parks, her fellow rangers and the running of the parks themselves is always fun and one suspects spot on, since the author was herself a park ranger. I love visiting a different National Park in each book...OK, I think some parks may make more than one appearance ...and seeing them through Anna and Nevada Barr's eyes. Maybe someday I will get a chance to visit them in person, but in the meantime, visiting them with Anna and her friends, with a healthy dose of death and danger, is always a fun time and an entertaining read.

Ms. Barr, if by chance you might read this (ok, it may be unlikely, but I can try) I have only one suggestion for you, maybe for your next book. 
In fact, just three words...Acadia National Park!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Review of "Believing the Lie" [9]

Believing the Lie by Elizabeth George
Dutton Adult, ISBN 97805255952589
January 10, 2012, 624 pages

Back for the seventeenth time..yes, 17...is Inspector Thomas Lynley's and his regular cast of characters, including Simon and Deborah St. James and the ever loyal assistant, Barbara Havers. This time he is on a secret mission, to investigate the apparently accidental death of one Ian Cresswell, nephew and heir apparent of the very wealthy and very influential Bernard Fairclough. For reason that are not entire clear or convincing, Mr. Fairclough wants the death looked into, unofficially, and has the influence to convince the head of Scotland Yard to assign one of his best to look into it.

And let's just say that once they start digging into that family, they better be wearing their hip boots, because things are going to get quite nasty. Certainly, there appears to be any number of reasons why Ian might have been killed and any numbers of people who might benefit from his death and the further Lynley and the rest dig, the more possibilities arise. But still, was it murder? Sadly, by the end of the book, I barely cared.

George's books tend to be rather complex stories, and that is not a bad thing. But this book goes far, far further down that path, to the point that I think it got lost in the weeds.
I have said it before, but a huge tome makes me rather suspicious, and with this one weighing in at 600 pages, there is cause. Sometimes it is a matter of too much material, that you could almost make two books of it. But in this case it is a matter of too much matter, pages after page that just ramble on and should have been cut. In fact, there are a storyline or two, of many, that might have been cut, like the one of the giant reporter and his mother's matchmaking. The giant aside, bigger is not always better. Too many storylines, too many characters, several of them boring , several of them distasteful, all in need of a serious editor.

I have never been a big fan of Deborah and she does not prove me wrong in this book, doing something which one might argue results in someone death. But even my favorites do not come across too well in this one. Yes, Thomas is a grieving widower and has to get on with his life but his affair with his boss is distasteful and out of character. And poor Barbara is relegated to spending most of the book worrying about her haircut and her wardrobe. Oh, how far we have fallen.

But maybe the biggest problem is with the implausibility of the central story. There is an attempt to have it explained at the end, but it falls short in my opinion.
Why all this need for the investigation to be secret? Why the need for it to be secret even from Lynley's boss, with the problems it causes? And why in the world would Deborah and St. James go off for an endless amount of time..ok, maybe it just seemed like an endless amount of time ...to bumble about, really seeming to figure little out. And the final dash of pedophilia, well, I guess we need that to seem timely these days. I must admit that toward the end I started to skip ahead. I was curious as to the solution but was tiring of slogging along to get there.

As I said, I have enjoyed several of George's books before, but this one fell far short of what I remember that made them enjoyable. I think fans who feel compelled to read her latest will be disappointed and would not recommend that readers who have heard good things about this series start with this one.
In fact, start with the first and stop before you get here.

My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a review copy of this book.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday...Lighthouses

...near and far, from NJ and New York, to Maine and Turkey.

Cape May, NJ

Fire Island, NY

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Maine

Squirrel Point Light, Maine

Owl Head Light, Maine

Maiden's Tower, Istanbul Harbor

...as always, for more Wordless Wednesday, check these out.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Musing Monday... 'Just the facts, ma'am...just the facts'

Another Monday morning, so let's head over and see what MizB at Should Be Reading is asking this week...

This week’s musing asks…
Why do you think that the Young Adult genre is so popular with even the adult readers? Do you read YA books, yourself?

I think the answer is simple. Some of them, maybe the ones that really succeed with youths and adults, are just really good stories. And bottom line, that is what we all want in a book isn't it, a really good story.

Maybe it is at least in part because usually YA books are too complex, not huge, heavy reads. Some adult fiction seems to get so serious, so full of itself, that it seems the author almost has forgotten this is suppose to be entertainment as well. Sure, maybe a book like that is what we want, but I think for most of us, for most of the time, we are looking for some to escape with, to relax with. And often a YA book can fill that need.
Even when they deal with more serious topics, maybe the young age of the characters makes the situation seem more hopeful. They are young, things can change, it will be alright..maybe.

Then there is the element of seeing a story unfold through young eyes, eyes that have not seen all this before, jaded eyes. I think that has the possibility of taking us back and letting us see those experiences in a fresh way once again, whatever the experiences may be, from first love to the alien invasion.

Do I read YA?
A bit. I tend to read the big hits, the ones everyone in BlogLand is talking about, like The Hunger Games when it first came out. A good, exciting story.
But I don't read then as much as some book bloggers.
Maybe because it is just hard to find a nice serial killer in most YA books for some reason. And you know I have a weakness for a nice serial killer.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sick Sammy So-So Sunday

Poor Sammy has a sore foot, and since he will not leave it alone, The Cone had to be applied.

"I look like a fool...I know you are laughing at me, I just know it!"

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Weekend Cooking...Tea For Two or a Cuppa Joe?

For several years, I have considered myself a tea drinker. Pretty much two varieties, Irish Breakfast or Earl Gray. Now, I did not give up coffee totally. If I am out, in a diner or restaurant, I may order coffee, but only because American seems to have no idea how to make a decent cup of tea. It is not hard.

Take good tea and add boiling water. BOILING water not that lukewarn stuff from the side of the coffee maker. At home, I use tea bags..but an Irish brand..and loose tea, especially Adagio's Earl Gray Bravo. An electric kettle to boil the water and that little basket thing.

Put tea in basket, basket in cup, water poured through basket into cup. Wait several minutes, remove basket and tea leaves. Done.

But then Christmas came and this Tassimo brewer came into my life. I suspect the Bro and Sil gave it to me so that the Bro could have a cup of coffee when they come to my house, because before I had no coffee available. And the strange thing? I have started to have a cup of coffee myself on occasion. Because, I must say, with the Tassimo, it is very quick, easy to make the one cup I need..and quite good.
And it make tea!
Their Earl Gray is very nice.
As is their hot chocolate.
Their espresso.
Their cappucccino.
Their Crema

Now, there is another very big brand of this sort of brewer out there, but the Bro thinks this one is better and I must now agree.
Because the Tassimo has a bar code reader that reads the different code on each pod and brews it correctly, in three diffent sizes, depending on the product. With the Crema, it finishes the cup with a blast of hot air to make the foamy, velvety top. Cool.
On the other brand, you can make different sizes, but it is just adding more or less water to the same amount of coffee..so it is just weaker or stronger. Not different.

I have my Tassimo sitting on a nice drawer in which I can store a nice selection.
Including my beloved Earl Gray.

But fear not loose leaf tea, I still love you too.

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Reviews of L.J.Sellers Wade Jackson Series [4-8]

So many book...so few reviews.
I have said it before, but I really enjoy reading books more than I enjoy reviewing them.
But in an effort to start and catch up, I figure I would review five at one time!

They are five of a six part series by an author that I really enjoy..even if I did not read the first...and is an author I really think should be more well known and more widely read than she is.
Yes, another series...but what can I say..it is a good one!
They are center around a Eugene, Oregon police detective, Wade Jackson, with reoccurring appearances by his co-workers, his daughter and ex-wife and his new girlfriend, who he met in the first book, Sex Club. Each contains a very good plot, just enough personal matters of Wade to be interesting and an interesting setting in the Pacific Northwest.

Secrets to Die For, second in the series, starts with the murder of social worker Raina Hughes. The last thing she had done was visit a young boy who was one of her clients and now his ex-con father looks like a good suspect in her death. But it soon become more complicated when her girl-friend, trying to keep the secret of her personal life, decides to keep a secret from the police...and soon disappears. Now it is up to Jackson to figure it out, maybe in time to save her life.

Thrilled to Death, next in the series, opens with a young mother disappearing from the parking lot of her psychiatrist. Since she was having issues with motherhood, at first police are not sure she did not just take off. But when a young socialite is found dead and some evidence ties them together, things get more complicated. Especially since the number one suspect has not left his house in over a year.

Next, we have Passions of the Dead. Police are called to investigate what appears to be a home invasion and the murder of the entire family, in a particularly horrible way. Well, almost all the family because the daughter, while attacked, survived, sadly with no memory of what happened or who attacked them. Of course, will her attacker believe that? And then she disappears...

The fifth book is Dying For Justice. Detective Lara Evans, newly working with Jackson, who she has quite the crush on, is given a routine case to investigate. There is a woman who has been in a coma for two years, an apparent suicide, who has come out of the coma and now claims she did not try to kill herself but instead that she was attacked. And when she says who she claims attacked her, Evans realizes she may be in way over her head. Meanwhile Jackson gets a plea from a man convicted of murder, now claiming he was coerced into a confession. But can Jackson put aside her own feelings to look at the facts objectively, especially since the man was convicted of killing Jackson's own parents.

And lately we have Sellers latest, Liars, Cheaters & Thieves (hate that cover..). Again Detective Jackson and all his friends are back and a great story is unfolding. First, a young veteran's throat is cut as he sits in his truck in a bar parking lot. Then the next day an elderly woman dies of a heart attack when she finds her bank account has been cleaned out and it seems a sham charity may tie the two deaths together. Like they say, follow the money..but can Jackson track down the killer before even more lives are ruined and more people die?

Even one of these books is very good, very well written with clever, smart plots and some very good, surprising endings. Sellers also gives us some quite likeable characters, including the excellent Wade Jackson. He is far from perfect and maybe a bit obsessed with his job, to the detriment of his loved ones, but is always a guy you would want on your side. Any one of the books can be easily read alone but it is nice to read them in order, if just to follow what is going on in Jackson's personal life, and the very natural progression we see from book to book. We see his very realistic dealings with his ex-wife, his girlfriend, his daughter, his brother, the death of his parents..you get the idea.
I also like that the books deal, to a degree, with some timely social issues but never in a pushy way.
Read one or read them all and I think you will be in for a great time.

One final point.
If you are an e-book reader, you can get some great deals on them at the moment on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. A couple are available for 99 cents, one for $1.99 and the rest for $2.99. For a few bucks you will be introduced to a very good author, a very good series and have hours and hours of reading pleasure ahead. What more can you want?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Review of "Raylan" [3]

Raylan by Elmore Leonard
William Morrow, ISBN 978-0062119469
272 pages, January 17, 2012

Elmore Leonard is another one of those authors I have heard of, again and again, and never read. And since he has written a very large number of books, that is saying something. But it was a TV series that finally tipped the balance. The series is Justified, a series which has just started it's second season on FX and it is based on Leonard's US Marshall Raylan Givens, who has appeared previously in the novels Pronto and Riding the Rap and a short story, "Fire in the Hole".
And now, maybe riding the popularity of the show we have Mr. Givens back again, in Raylan.

I hesitate to call this a novel, because, although they are tied together, this is really more of a series of several short stories. First, we have a tale about a drug bust that turns into the classic urban myth, a man who wakes up in a bathtub to find his kidney stolen. Except in this case it is both his kidneys and they are being held hostage for a payment of $100,000. After Givens solves that one, we move on to another story, this of an evil, nasty piece of work woman who is the representative of the coal company that is strip mining the area mountains...and let's just say that she is willing to go the extra mile to get her way. It may appear that her story is left hanging as we move on to the next, but worry not. It will be resolved and in an amusing, if deadly, way. And finally, we have the story of Jackie Nevada, a college student and fantastic poker player, who skips out of jail, becoming Givens' professional as well as personal subject of interest.

I am a bit torn about this book. The stories are interesting and the book is a fast, easy read, full of great characters, not the least of which is Raylan Givens himself. The dialogue is fantastic, obviously one of Leonard's strengths. And I am sure fans of the previous books will enjoy this book. But I am not sure it is the place to start and from what I understand, viewers of the series who come to this book may be a little confused, because while some of the same folks and settings appear, there are a great, great many changes.
Still Raylan is a very good character, enough to carry this book with as much style as he wears his trademark hat and it was a fun read.

My thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday...The Only Color is in the Sky

No ice, no snow...and little color this time of year.
But the marsh and the beaches are still beautiful.

See that tiny, white steeple in the center? My house is right next to it.

It was cold..

But we can always count on Mother Nature for some color..

...as always, for more Wordless Wednesday, check these out.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Musing Monday..Sold My Soul to the Company E-Reader

Nice and early Monday morning, so let's head over and see what MizB at Should Be Reading is asking this week...

This week’s musing asks…

What devices –if any– do you read books on? Do you find it enjoyable, or still somewhat bothersome? 
Or: If you only read the print books, why haven’t you chosen to read on any devices?

Oh my..this opens a kettle of fish. I may have to eat a bit of crow.

If you have been reading my wee blog for awhile, you may remember my past rants about e-books. Yes, they were rants.
And while I have not really changed my mind about them, the Evil E-Readers, threatening the future of books and the very basis of civilization, I gave in and went over to the dark side.
And then the dark side got even bigger.
And bigger.

I started with a Nook, the original e-ink Nook. I choose the Nook because at the time you could not download library books or books from NetGalley to the Kindle and since Borders was on the verge of collapse and the Kobo was tied to them, I went with what I considered the best bet. And I had to admit, I started to like my Nook.
But then they came out with the Nook color...and I had to have one. What can I say, I like the bells and whistles. Do not fear. The original did not go to waste since I gave it to the Sil.

Of course, I had to add the Nook and Kindle apps to my phone.
And my netbook.
And my brand new iPad.

Ok, this may be getting out of hand.

See, on the one side, I love the new, shiny gadgets. Even without the whole book reading ability, I would still love these toys. Because all of them, the phone, the iPad, the netbook, even the Nook Color, offer other things. You can play games, and check your calender, get your e-mail, access the internet, listen to music..and read books.
All at the same time maybe. 

But as to the original question, "Do you find it enjoyable, or still somewhat bothersome?"
Well, push come to shove, I still prefer a "real" book. I love to look at a nice cover, some nice art, some interesting graphic. I like to flip the page. I just love the look and feel of a book.

That being said, I do recognize that there are certain advantages to e-books and e-readers. Not having to find more space to pile all these books is a good thing. For travel, you can not beat them. Dozens, hundreds of book, all in one little package, so tidy. And being able to have a nice assortment of books on the reader comes in handy. As I have mentioned, I work shift work and in the early hours of the morning, when I get a chance to do some reading at times, these is nothing worse than being stuck with a stinker of a book and having nothing else to read. But with my Nook..or even my phone if I forgot the Nook..I have a bunch more to pick from.

Add in the ability to borrow some, if not all, library books to an e-device and to get books, if for a limited time, for review from NetGalley, easily downloaded to my Nook, and a large number of free books from a number of online sources...well, there are a lot of cheap and free books out there for e-readers. And you know I am in desperate need of some books to read.

Just in terms of reading, I think the Nook is the most pleasurable experience, short of a real book, and the phone the least. But still, even with the small screen, I still find the phone perfectly acceptable and have read several whole books on it. It's one huge advantage is that it is always there, in my pocket or bag.

And there is something so comforting about that.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sammy So-So Sunday.. With a Guest Appearance from Bandit

Do you ever wonder what your dog does while you are gone?
Well, obviously these two, Sammy and Bandit, order address labels for themselves and then send out Birthday cards.

Nice label fellows.
Do you send a lot of mail?
And your penmanship is excellent!


You remember these two, right?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Weekend Cooking...Grand Marnier French Toast

Yes, sadly, Christmas is behind us. The days of excess are over...but if you have it in you for one more great breakfast, maybe on a weekend, I have a recipe for you!

I have written before about our traditional Christmas morning breakfast at the Bro's and Sil's house.
First, there are Pillsbury Orange Rolls, a holdover from my youth.
Then, some years ago we added my Sausage Hash Brown Casserole, which I thought I had share with you. But, if my search of my blog is to be believed, I may not have. But that will have to be for another day, because today we are going over to the sweet side, with the Niece's contribution.
One that I think is a keeper.

Christmas Morning Grande Marnier French Toast

8 large eggs
1 1/3 cup half and half
2/3 cup Grand Marnier
4 tbs. Sugar
2 tbs. Orange zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp. Vanilla bean paste (optional)
1 loaf challah bread torn into bite size pieces

Mix all the ingredients and pour over the torn bread in a 9X13 baking dish. 
Mix well and let sit, covered, in the frig overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake for 40 minutes, covered with foil, uncovering to brown last 10 minutes.

Easy, you can make it ahead of time except for the sticking in the oven part and pretty simple.
Serve with some warmed maple, ideally REAL maple syrup.

Ok, wow, I do not even have a photograph of this dish, because when the Niece put it on the table, we descended on it like starving wolves..
No time to find the camera or someone might steal mine!
So the Niece found this photo online and sent it to me to use on this post.
It looked just like this actually.
If this is your photo, someone out there in BlogLand, I apologize for the lack of credit. :-)

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Belated Happy Birthday to Me...Belated Happy Birthday to Me.....

Really, I am going to sit down and write a couple of reviews today. Really.

But first, let me just say that yesterday, Thursday, was my birthday.
Now being past the half century mark...by a number of years, as shocking as that is to me, a huge celebration is not called for. But I will pause for a short round of applause and a huge number of good wishes.
Ok, we will move on.

I just want to bask in the warm, happy glow of my birthday gifts for just a moment.

First, the Niece bought me this lovely, huge, baking dish. Isn't it pretty?
I am a fan, without question, of primary colors in my kitchen.
And look at those great handles! Are they not a great idea?

Now the only question is what is the first thing I should make in it. Any suggestions out there? 
Isn't it pretty....

And then there are the Bro and Sil.
What did they get me?
They bought me an iPad2!!
Yes, they are very, very nice to me.
The ultimate electronic toy junky's desire!!
It is so pretty, even if they don't make them in primary colors.

Now, much to the Niece's disgust, I am not an Apple user.
So I have a bit of a learning curve to figure out  all the options here. The Niece gave me a quick tutorial last night, but I think I need to do a bit of reading and figure things out.
Anyhoo, that is how I roll.
Read the instructions.

Already, you might notice , that Sammy's pic is on the background. Isn't he so cute? Hi Sammy!
You have to take care of the important things first.
He had eaten a bit too much and, we found out shortly after this was taken, that his stomach was a bit upset. But I will leave you to figure that out, what happen, on your own.
Bottom line, he is still so cute. ;-)

It also give me the chance, now that I have an iPad,  to use this cool fold-out keyboard, made just for the iPad2, that I recently got from Amazon Vine.
Now why I requested it when I did not already have an iPad is another question.
Goes back to read the instructions thing in a way.

So, do any of you have an iPad?
I know you must!
What do you think of it? What are your favorite things about it? What is the number one..or two or three...things you think I must know?

But now all is well.
I am off to play with my new toy!!
Woo Hoo!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday...Some Color on a Gray Day

Winter is here, the gray days of winter, so here are a few picture that have nothing in common...except some COLOR!

A Hidden Mickey!

Camellias from Longwood

...as always, for more Wordless Wednesday, check these out.