Friday, April 30, 2010

Teaching several dogs new tricks....

My family has been southern born and bred for the past few generations... my husband's for the past 100+ years... I wish I had could have recorded our conversation at the dinner table...

C - I would have never believed in a million years that I would be eating Polenta but it's better than any mashed potato I've ever eaten.
H - Polenta (looking down at his plate)
C- It's cooked corn meal with milk, cheese and herbs in it.

I never heard another word for several minutes of eating and I asked H and Becki if they liked it. They replied yes and after several more minutes I asked Would you eat it again... again they replied yes. Empty plates and H going back for seconds confirmed that I must have done good.

To tell you the truth, it was wonderful. I worried about it while I cooked it, and added salt 3 times and then decided to wait for judgment until the milk, cheese, butter and my fresh herbs were added. I would rate it 5 stars even though I cooked it myelf.

Here are recipes, give it a try.

Herbed Polenta

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 25 min
Serves: 6 servings

• 6 cups water
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
• 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
• 3/4 cup whole milk
• 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
• 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
• 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Bring the water to a boil in a heavy large saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the cheese, milk, butter, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and pepper, and stir until the butter and cheese melt. Transfer the polenta to a bowl and serve.

We served it with this:

Stracotto di Manzo (Italian Pot Roast)

Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 3 hr 45 min

Serves: 8 servings


• 2 cups beef stock

• Salt and pepper

• 1 (4-pound) beef eye of round
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 finely chopped onion
• 1 finely chopped carrot
• 1 finely chopped celery stalk
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
• 1/4 cup tightly packed parsley leaves, chopped
• 3 tablespoons tomato paste
• 5 cups red wine ( I had to substitute grape juice)
• 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and crushed


Season the beef with salt and pepper. In a large casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Brown the beef on all sides, about 15 minutes total. Transfer the beef to a plate. Pour off browning fat. Add onions, carrots, and celery, stirring, until they are golden. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir in bay leaves, rosemary, parsley, and tomato paste. Add the wine and simmer until it is reduced by half, about 20 minutes.

Add the beef, tomatoes and enough beef stock to come 2/3 up the side of the beef. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook at a gentle simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the meat is tender. Turn the roast every 30 minutes or so.

Transfer the meat to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Skim off any fat from the surface of the liquid. Strain the liquid, pressing on the solids with a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids and return the strained sauce to the pot. Bring to a boil and let cook uncovered for a few minutes to further reduce and thicken the liquid. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Slice the roast and serve with the sauce and soft polenta.

I did not strain my sauce as I liked the texture of it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


My favorite tree in Barnwell.
This old Sycamore stands proudly in an empty lot up town.

Once upon a time long time ago, I grew up on the beach… well two blocks off of it, but close enough. Behind one of our neighbors home was a huge Pine tree we called the Curly Pine, for years I wondered if it was really the curly pine or the Curlee Pine which was the neighbor’s name. Even some 38 years after leaving there, I still remember the feeling of coming home after being gone and seeing that big Pine which signaled we were almost home.

One of my favorite places with trees was my grandparent’s home in Polk County, Florida. Their land was full of trees including several varieties of Palms, Live Oaks and this one huge Monkey Puzzle Tree, they also had an old fashioned formal garden that is so rare to find today. Full of flowers and plants from around the world and native to Florida it was a wonderful sight to behold…
One of the first things my brother and I did once we arrived at our grandparent’s home in Florida was run through the grass to the “garden”. Under the shade of Live Oak, Avocado, and Paperbark Trees we would hide and play and sometimes just sit and image worlds so far away.

I have always been a tree lover and well at times a tree hugger, not that I’ve ever chained myself to a tree but I wished I had… several years ago in the middle of the night our local town had mature oaks cut down from around the circle to make improvements. Seemed that they felt a more cohesive look was needed and the older trees just didn’t fit in the scheme of things. Every time I ride around the circle and see the new trees and landscaping my heart mourns the loss of those old trees.

I have seen trees that I wished I could have talked to; a 400 year old Oak in St. Augustine Florida, a massive Buckeye in Wiscasset Maine and that beautiful dead tree I found on Pinckney Island. Imagine the stories they could tell.

Close up of Sycamore trunk and a fresh coat of Spring leaves.

Old growth Pines in our front yard, we are blessed to  have 5 of these beauties.

Alas,this tree was not allowed to live as long as mine...
 it and hundreds, perhaps thousands of it's friends were slaughtered for pulp.

While this beautiful tree was allowed to die a natural death.
 Even after life, its beauty lives on.

Friday, April 16, 2010


How blessed I am to have two granddaughters; Dorie Jean and Althea Clare... Being a stay at home Granny, I have been able to take the time for tea parties and sleepovers, shopping trips and haircuts. Life is much simplier now, not so rushed or worried; I can take the time to enjoy what they bring to my life...
joy, happiness, excitement and yes, many, many smiles.

Althea in the arms of her Aunt Ju Ju.

Dorie and Poppa having a picnic in the park.

Dorie's first fishing trip and fish; she didn't care if it was misting rain... look at that smile!

On a one horse, make that Poppa Sled... girls being pulled around yard on old sled by their Poppa!

Friday, April 2, 2010


Well I had look up this word and I wonder how many others had to as well? Funny thing is that it's Japanese for blur or haze and I have been walking around in a haze for a couple of months... just getting back to myself and wham its Spring and that means the yellow "haze" of pollen is falling, falling and falling around here.

Well thanks to being tired and hazy I posted the wrong photos and topic first but I am going to go ahead and post this one too.... I hope that I have understood what Bokeh is and look forward to comments.

Country Roads, Waysides and Sights Found Along Them...

Photos 1, 2 and 4 were all taken on Hwy 278 near Grays, SC... just start driving from Barnwell to Bluffton, you'll know it when you have the right spot... it's breath taking. Number 4 is someone's yard; I just couldn't resist snapping this picture. As I stood on the side of the road, I was afraid of being run over or either shot, but the flowers were beautiful.

Photo number 3 was taken on a rainy winter day in Port St Joe FL, a small town on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

The 5th and 6th photos were taken in or around Fair Play SC, I fell in love with this old building; and the 7th one is of a ancient Indian Mound near Helen GA, I stood on the side of the road again for this on as I often do but I do get out and wander a bit at various times and that takes us to the final three photos... though two of them were taken in the Fall I just had to include them as they both take along the country roads of upper South Carolina.

The final photo was taken in a yard I have passed for years as I drive around Barnwell. Many of us watch and worried as the highway department changed the highway route and took part of his garden. I finally got up the courage to stop and ask could I wander around with my camera and this old birdbath just struck me as beautiful and a beautiful way to recycle (it's cracked and won't hold water).

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Old building in Fair Play, SC

A wonderful mail/paper box I found near Fair Play, SC

Nacoochee Indian Mound

Located on Ga. 17 just east of Ga. 75 near Helen, Ga.

Pumpkin Patch in the Georgia Mountains