Monday, October 30, 2006

To overcome my horror at myself, I read a lot about knives today.

One of the reviewers at Amazon is an enthusiastic hobby chef who owns a great many knives. He says the Calphalon compares favorably with the the much more expensive Henckels and Wusthof lines.

But for grinding everyday use and value, many of the writers at Chef Talk praise the Forschner/Victorinox line. Cooks Illustrated likes them, too. These are inexpensive and will wear out, but offer an excellent cutting edge and sharpen easily. These are made by the same people that make the Swiss Army knife.

Some chefs complain about the bolster, i.e. the metal ridge behind the blade, on some models of Henckels and the Calphalon. They say it prevents an even sharpening of the blades and will eventually impede the cutting action of the knives.

Our main collection is a Henckels set with the damnable bolsters. Starting again, I would go with the Forschners, provided they fit my hands.

Another thing the chefs said was to not buy a set. Different lines have different feels in different knives. They also recommend going to a brick and mortar store and handling knives before buying.

So there you go.

That was my distraction from being a flower murderer.

UPDATE: Then there are these.
After hurting my own feelings today by unnecessarily ripping some cosmos plants out of another raised bed, planting tulip bulbs, then overseeding with spinach, I took a nap.

The poor cosmos had a heck of a time of it during this hot, dry summer and were just showing their stuff. Why did I take them up? There was no reason to do such a thing. It's my bed. I love their flowers and they showed themselves willing to go until frost.

I feel like a heel.
And when dawn breaks, and all the the little birds in the CST begin to chirp, cheep, twitter and sing their little arias to the Sun, a husky little voice rises in Vidalia, intoning --

We got the cuties, we got the sweetie pie birds,
Oh, I know,
and the birdies, the birdies, the birdies ...

Sunday, October 29, 2006


We might be running a little late, but Lyman ripped up the zinnias and planted radicchio, Black-seeded Simpson leaf lettuce, radishes, and romaine in one bed.

I love zinnias. It's the first flower I remember.
And in our household, we are talking about the holidays and food.

Our adults only Christmas luncheon is scheduled for December 8 this year, so there's no time like the present.

It seems to become harder every year. Lyman's family doesn't share our eclectic tastes. They like their meat and vegetables cooked to death for one thing. That takes several of our favorites off the plate right there.

For instance, while my sister was here, we cooked this recipe. (The pork only. Lyman doesn't care for turnips or rutabagas, which is another Gore limitation.) We served it with the baked onion below, roasted new potatoes, and grilled asparagus.

We bake it pink, so it's buttery tender.

Well, that's raw meat to Big Daddy, and he says he won't eat raw meat.

Crisp-tender grilled vegetables just aren't cooked, according to Girl. Lyman's sister likes her steaks and chops well done, so I won't sacrifice a good steak or a lamb chop for any of them.

SO we're thinking this year about stuffed bell peppers according to the recipe in this book. They can be prepared ahead of time.

Despite the restrictions against two starches (the peppers include rice), I'm thinking a nice mound of mashed potatoes to go with all that great tomato gravy, and a large green salad, as usual. I'd like one more veg, but I can't come up with one right now. Oh yeah, there are great options, but dammit I won't cook perfectly respectable vegetables to mush.

In our 12 years at this task, we haven't served a bread pudding. That's the search, and the upcoming trials, and I'm not up for all that tasting. I don't eat desserts.

Update: You know, a yellow squash casserole wouldn't be bad with this meal. Southern Living had a good recipe for one a couple of years ago.
Since we're talking now about the holidays and food, let's pass on this recipe that we found in Miss Ruby's Southern Creole & Cajun Cuisine, Peanut Butter Publishing, 1990, which seems to be out of print.

It's billed as Rod's Grilled Onions in the book, but we usually bake them.

1 medium onion
1 beef bouillon cube or beef base equivalent
1 pat butter -- about 1/2 tablespoon here
Cayenne pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (375 is not too high.)

Peel the onion. Slice enough off the root end, if necessary, so it sits flat.

Carve a shallow hole in the top of the onion with a sharp paring knife.

Put the bouillon cube or base in the hole, then top with the pat of butter. Sprinkle with cayenne to taste.

Set in a square of foil large enough to bring up and twist at the top for a good seal.

Bake for an hour or so. The longer the onion bakes, the softer it becomes, and the more it resembles a stout onion soup. We like about an hour and a half. I test by squeezing the onion while it's in the oven. When it's soft enough, I take it out.

Then carefully tip the onion and it's juice into a soup bowl, and eat with a spoon.

Wonderful with French bread, and makes a good side for all kinds of meats.

Lyman's son loves this recipe, and has been working on variations, adding garlic or horseradish. He has passed it on to friends, so we're developing a community of baked-onion eaters.

Of course, you multiply the recipe by the number of servings needed.

One of the nifty things about this recipe is that you can walk into the kitchen and start it, then go about your business with the rest of dinner or whatever while it's baking.
Following Chef Tony's advice, I've ordered one of these before the holidays.

He suggested Forschner as a brand, but this comes cheaper through free shipping at Amazon.

Lyman's a little frightened at the thought of me holding one of these in my hand. He feels threatened by the 8-inch I've been using. If he doesn't quit looking over my shoulder when I'm chopping, he should.

Me, I'm working toward a twelve-inch. That'll hold him at bay.
I wonder who has developed the twelve-step program for quitting blogging?

Whoever it was, Kim didn't get the message and started a new blog, Frothing at le Mouse.

She took French in high-school, as I did.

Friday, October 27, 2006

My desktop computer is going is going bonkers.

It drags and loops and carries on something fierce.

Looks like a new one will be a Christmas present. I resent that. To me, a computer is a utility machine, like a vacuum cleaner, or a washing machine (though I like those better).

For Peg Britton, the River Road recipe will be fine for seafood gumbo. Lyman's is better, but I'm too distressed to pass it on. Dane will see another day.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

We've eaten fairly extravagantly in the past week, so tonight we wanted something simple. Forget that we spent a few hours putting this recipe together. It will go much more quickly later.


2 medium onions, chopped
5 ribs celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 ½ pounds ground chuck
2 TBS chili powder
1 TBS black pepper
1 TBS dark brown suger
1 8oz. can tomato sauce
1 6oz. can tomato paste
¾ cup ketchup
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce

Hamburger buns

Brown meat over medium high heat in a large skillet that can be covered. Pour off half of liquid. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper and cover pan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the vegetables are wilted. Add garlic, tomato sauce, tomato paste, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, brown sugar, and chili powder. Stir well. Cover and cook 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, if too watery remove lid. If too thick, add water. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.

This has the right balance of acid and sweet that I remember as a child.

It's been cool and rainy, and, yes, we want comfort food.
I've added some new pictures from the trip, if you're interested.

Here are a few additional pictures of Windsor, focusing on the Corinthian capitals.

Here is a site that shows a photo of the wrought iron stairs and gallery railings of Windsor being used now at Alcorn State University. (Steve McNair went there.) There is a thumbnail on this page that shows an artist's rendering of Windsor as it was.

Here are a few that give more perspective on Christ Church.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

This is not my photo. Seems to come from Missouri, this one.

But there was a Red Goose Shoes sign in Port Gibson.
That was fun in a middle-aged kind of way.

My sister e-mailed to say that she'd arrived home safely at about 3 o'clock yesterday.

All the sights we saw Monday were within an hour's drive of Natchez. I didn't mention driving down the Natchez Trace, visiting Emerald Mound, or stopping at Mount Locust.

I regret not going into the old tavern.

Next time she comes, we plan to go south for an hour or so.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Presbyterian Church

Back to Port Gibson.

The Presbyterian church has an unusual feature which I haven't caught well here. At the tip of the spire is a golden hand with the index finger pointing to God and Heaven.

I hate to say so, out of respect for the church fathers and the proud little town, but it don't look exactly that way from every angle in town. Could be the point, come to think of it.

In Port Gibson, we were served lunch at the Restoration Cafe by a woman whose grandfather's name is the same as our father's. There are a good many Davenports buried in Claiborne County. We might be related. Which would be just fine. She was a good-looking woman and an excellent cook.

In the hall of the cafe was an antique chest that might have served as inspiration for the one I just purchased for the bedroom.

Church Hill

We had time to visit Church Hill. This is a view of the back of Christ Episcopal Church. The front of the church was shadowed.

Church Hill was established as a community in 1790.

It was such a glorious fall day that my ratty little digital camera took postcard pictures.

UPDATE: Here I found that the church itself was established in 1820 and this building was built in 1828. Another source calls the style of the church Gothic Revival.


Charles and I were traveling with this mysterious red-haired woman.

Her laugh is a lot like Carol Burnett's.


Here I am at Windsor.

The scale of these columns amazes me.

So does the width of my hips in this picture. I might need to rethink these relaxed-fit jeans.

UPDATE: Now you know why I always carry the camera. Could Patricia make me look better at Windsor? Not at all. She always must have an advantage.

UPDATE II: Here's your big chance, male readers. You have my permission to say, "Yes, Janis. Those jeans DO make your butt look fat."

Windsor ruins w/Charles

If you come this direction, you should charm, cajole, or hire this man as a tour-guide/driver.

That is my brother Charles standing at the foot of one of the columns left of Windsor, west of Port Gibson, MS, that burned in 1890.

We've had a lovely day visiting areas north of Natchez.

More later.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Good morning, my friends!

And what do you think we should do at 4:30 this chilly Sunday morning?

It being a day of prayer and reflection, we might begin by asking the Lord for tolerance, forgiveness and healing for the poor people we met yesterday at the open house who were drinking "Blue Martinis."

A "Blue Martini" is a godawful concoction made up by high-school kids when their parents carried all the good liquor to the party at John Cheever's house. It consists of blueberry schnapps, curacao and gin, and tastes like blue kerosene. Offered a choice between one and a low-end cabernet wine, I opted for the wine but was misunderstood.

I found a comfortable and handy porch to pour the mess over the side of, but thought it would be rude to dispose of a libation given generously by a hospitable and unknown host in such a manner.

Please, all potential guests, be assured that I will not be offended should you do such a thing with anything comparable served at my home.

I will be long forgetting it.

But the folks who had more than one will surely be longer.

UPDATE: Rigid as I am, I didn't think of the perfect solution at the time, which was to tip a sip over the porch railing periodically, then to excuse myself when the glass was empty.

I learned that from one of Michael's friends.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Now, wait a minute. Lucy has laid another egg.
Good grief!

Tomorrow is Charles' birthday! I had totally forgotten.

So we be alignin' Charles with Lyman's Southern Baptist parents, Patricia Ann, Lyman's Michael and ourselves for a catfish dinner.

It's this time of year.
I have hardware on my closet doors. Yay!!!

And I discussed with him the rest of the furniture.

We're going with this look.

The nightstands will have a shallow drawer, per Lyman's request.

I like the turn of those legs. They might start dancing any minute.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Lucy is much better today. She was playing in her drinking cup when I picked her up to go see the doc.

The vet gave her another injection. I was told to dose her with the oral antibiotic and watch over her, to see that she is eating and drinking water, and showing no further symptoms.

We don't think the painting had anything to do with it. She wasn't affected before.

"Real or imagined stress," was the doctor's opinion. I left her last week, you know.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Since I don't have enough to do this week, Lucy presented symptoms of respiratory congestion early this afternoon. I whisked her off to the vet where she received a shot and an oral antibiotic.

I'm to take her in tomorrow so the doctor can make sure she's well-hydrated and the diagnosis is correct.

Lucy will be fine.

The note is that as I was leaving, an old woman and her daughter? niece? came with two dogs. She wanted one bathed and one euthanized. The trick was, the office wasn't familiar with either dog.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Lucy laid an egg Friday night, 10/13/06.

Then one tonight, about 8 p.m., 10/16/06.
Today I offer an example of anger making me stupid.

It's no secret that I'm miffed at having to paint these closet doors four days before my sister comes. But I've been at it since yesterday, and I'm coming along.

Lyman asked how I was doing.

J: "I'm working on the front of the doors, and I'm doing fine except for the areas around the hinges."

L: "What's wrong? Did you tape around the hinges?

J: "Duh. What did you just say?"

Now there's tape around the hinges. It should all go much more smoothly now.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Kim at Frothing at the Mouse has decided to stop blogging and has deleted her blog.
Can I go back now? We arrived home at 6:30 or so last night.

The closet doors are hanging and ready for a coat or two of paint.

My sister is definitely coming on Friday, events not stalling her. I have a lot of work to do this week.

The lamp came in while I was gone, and looks great. Thank you, Sarah. The dress came in and looks pretty darned good, too, if I say so myself.

On to a new week.

By the way, while Charlie had not six words to say last night, this morning he told me "Charlie is a handsome boy." That's true, baby.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

As I explained to Judy last year, the art in this condo has a narrative that you can elaborate at will.

This woman is the mother of these kids. Possibly this one, too.

They live in the big house.

She is walking to meet her lover (that doesn't exclude the man being her husband) at this cottage while the girl looks after the babies.

She and the man will have lunch together. It might or might not include crab.

Friday, October 13, 2006

On the other hand, S. and her beau came to visit last night. We had drinks and conversed on the balcony. Hard to make life better than that.

She's been a widow for 22 years (her husband died young), and she's newly in love. Her gentleman friend is pleasant to look at and a fine conversationalist. Good luck, and I mean it, S.

And I talked to Tom again today. I worked for Tom as a cocktail waitress in Dallas when I was 23-24. I looked him up when I first came with Lyman to the coast. He worked as banquet manager at the Gulf State Park. But I haven't talked to him again until today.

I thought he was an excellent man to work for. He was always fair, and knew how to put you in your place without being rude. I like Tom.

Lyman and I plan to see him next time we come.

Girl at beach

The good Lord willin' and the water don't rise, we plan to sell this place.

It's a 5-1/2 hour drive here from Vidalia and it seems to get longer every year.

Of all the things here, I want to keep this one.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Oct 12, 2006

This is what the Gulf of Mexico looks like when it is not tearing up people's homes and ruining their livelihoods.

Lovely isn't it?

But you know what? I don't like dry sand and I don't like wet clothes. I need a strong man to carry me down to the water's edge so I can skinnydip at midnight.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What's to say?

The weather's good. The condo is in good shape. I have had yet another dreadful restaurant margarita at Cosmo's, a fairly new restaurant on Canal Road.

Not too many monarchs, yet. It's early for many of them here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I talked to my aunt before we left yesterday.

The DHS engraved into the hexagonal gold face stands for Donelton High School, which would have been located about here.

She thinks he was graduated after he completed the ninth grade. Though he was 18 in 1929. That was common in the rural areas those days, she said.

She said she's in pretty good health. Takes a walk every day past the cemetery in Como -- preparing herself for the next step, she said. Complained of how her lovely skin is deteriorating since she turned 90.

She's still sharp, though her memory is not what it was, she claims.

I told my brother what she gave me, but told him to call her himself. She likes to hear from the young'uns.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

How did I get this job?

I have been researching some family history. My big brother wants to know about the ring I sent his son. What do I know? I'm the baby.

My path led me to aunt Thelma, who is now 82. She told me she depended on "Lee," otherwise known as my Daddy, for events from their lives. She referred me to her big sister, 92.

I called just before eight tonight, but she had already retired for the evening. Which is the appropriate phrase in her case. She is just like my grandmother -- a distinguished, capable, and contained woman.

I'll try again, but I don't know when. We're traveling to the coast tomorrow.

If you look at the last page of my photo file, you'll see that I look like my father. I learned that we have more in common from my aunt. He also fainted at the sight of blood.

Born in 1911, he was a touch old for WWII, which he wouldn't have coped with well. He built barracks at home.
I've read Dr. Alice through kitchen hand's site.

I'm adding her to the blogroll because I don't pay enough attention to her.

Remember, you are not excluded from my reading because you are not listed here. I let Possumblog carry the heavy weight.

Here's an interesting post. You never know what she'll talk about.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


Charles, my brother, gave two lamp bases to me in 1993.

I had dressed them with off-white pleated conical lampshades that needed replacing. Yesterday I went shopping for shades. We don't have many choices locally -- KMart, Wal-Mart, Fred's. I couldn't find a thing the right size, until...

I found these drum shades at Wal-Mart. Hmmph, I said, I'll give them a try. Hold on to the receipt, and return them if necessary.

The lamps have never looked better. They'll go beside the bed.

Lyman has never cared for the bases. Even he likes them now.

Lyman's grandmother did the little duck box in a ceramics class that she took when she was about 90.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I saw one of these at the salon yesterday.

Pretty cool.
Good morning, everyone! Rise and shine!

It's 6:15 a.m. and I've been up for two hours and 45 minutes. After a busy day I fell asleep last night at 9. At 3:30 I woke.

There will come a time in the not far future, when the new guest room is set up, that I can spend these hours in productive labor. In that room, there will be a chair and light enough to work on handsewing, so I can finish the eternal quilt.

Not today, though. Today I am second-guessing choices.

Now that the queen bed is set up, I see that I have room for a king, or two twins. And after ordering a comforter, I realize that I didn't even consider a chenille bedspread, which would be perfect (but that's a thought I can put away for next summer). The rest will do.

Oh, well, the sheets and the bathrooms are always clean and the food is good. Is it fair to ask for more?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Bite my tongue.

Better yet, don't kiss a bird on the beak after you've fed him habanero peppers.
Law, law.

Mark Foley's lawyer is a cynical son-of-a-bitch, or I'm a skeptical bitch, or both.
I went ahead and posted a message to the forum.

When I was growing up, I can remember splits along the perimeter of my thumbnails and there on the outside edge of the nailbed where there is no nail. That was some painful. I can remember sucking up the blood and licking them for comfort.

If people don't want to try it for themselves, they can at least try it for their kids.

Don't get me wrong. We had the usual stash of hand lotion, cold cream, baby oil, Vaseline and Vick's. They don't work.

UPDATE: Good. There's one positive response from the forum.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Left thumb 10/2/06

Let's use this picture of my left thumb as a reference. (That's a still shot from the new camera. My first.)

Something interesting is happening to my thumbnails since I started using the cuticle cream in July. With added moisture in the nails and nailbeds, my thumbnails have relaxed some in their beds. They are not as curled or cramped, or gnarly, for want of a better word, as they were. There's less cracking, and none along the quick, which can be painful.

I'll continue to use the cream religiously, and let's check back in two or three months to see if there's more improvement. If there is, that'll be a message worth adding to the NPS forum.

Something similar is happening with my smallest toenails, too.

Satsuma 2006

This poor satsuma tree can barely hold its branches up under all the fruit.

Big Daddy will be picking them and putting the peelings in my flower pots. You watch.
Now this is pretty darn good.
Did you know that Diane is an excellent writer of instructions?

She sent an e-mail and a handout answering my quilting questions. It's nothing I couldn't share, but it's detailed and might bore you. She included tips that I might not have found after weeks online. So thank you, ma'am.

Between recipes, advice and shopping services, I certainly benefit from my associations online.

I hope I give as good as I get.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

So after all that shopping for dresses, I bought this one.

At that price, it will work for something.