Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Who Loves their vaVesta? –I Do!

I've had my vaVesta for several weeks now…and I absolutely love it! I sometimes wear it outside as a scarf…but more often than not -- I snuggle down into it for those long, uncomfortable overseas flights. Since I also have problems with arthritis, the arm supports are especially helpful when reading my Kindle.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Iron Butterfly, Maggie the Maurauder and the Iron Lady

Maggie Thatcher, the daughter of a shopkeeper became one of the most powerful women in the world. Not always liked, she was often referred as the “Iron Butterfly, Iron Lady,” and “Atillas the Hen” (because she was known to have a good cry when needed.) She also would rather wallpaper her kitchen than have dinner with the Heads of State.

Just lately, I’ve been thinking of the two most powerful women in my life…my mother and Maggie Thatcher. I remember telling my mother that I wanted to “help people during my lifetime” – her response – “Charity begins at home my love. If families took care of their own, the world would be a better place.” And another – “I’m scared of ghosts mummy.” Once more, her response was quick and to the point. "It’s not the dead that hurt you my dear…but the living.”

Follows just a few from Maggie:

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money.”

“In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.”

“I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end.”

“If you just set out to be liked, you will be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and would achieve nothing.”

“I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Wattle Wall/Enclosure

Sir Walter Scott brought the technique (wattle) back to popularity in England when he described such a fence in The Fortunes of Nigel, but the practice of using indigenous trees such as the willow and alder for use as fencing material is a centuries old custom. Although an ancient art, the following site gives us a detailed, practical account of how to make these wonderful (and natural) enclosures that would enhance any garden or orchard.
Go to:  http://www.alaskabg.org/Education-Learn/HowTo/WattleFence.pdf

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Devil's Wine

In France the first sparkling Champagne was created accidentally; the pressure in the bottle led it to be called "the devil's wine" (le vin du diable), as bottles exploded or corks popped. In 1844 Adolphe Jaquesson invented the muselet (a wire frame) to prevent the corks from blowing out. Initial versions were difficult to apply and inconvenient to remove. Even when it was deliberately produced as a sparkling wine, Champagne was for a very long time made by the méthode rurale, where the wine was bottled before the only fermentation had finished. Champagne did not use the méthode champenoise until the 19th century about 200 years after Christopher Merret documented the process. The 19th century saw an explosive growth in Champagne production, going from a regional production of 300,000 bottles a year in 1800 to 20 million bottles in 1850.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Across the Wide Missouri

Quilt Designer: Jan Patek
Quilt Maker: Marion Watchinski
Photo Courtesy: Marion Watchinski

Jan Patek, a local long-time designer of quilts designed this beautiful pattern entitled Across the Wide Missouri. It was in the Kansas City Star Block a Month series. Back in 2010, a local quilt shop put together two styles and two fabric kits, which were dispensed in monthly installments...however, as nice as they were, Marion decided on a couple of substitutions. The quilt was completed recently and Marion shared it with me.  I might add that she is one of the best quilters I’ve ever seen.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

1950 Buick Rivera Super Model

Photo courtesy: Private Collection

This Buick Rivera was Roy Best’s pride and joy. He was the Warden at Canon State where he was well-known to meter out punishment to those who disobeyed his rules. His basic tenets were that "prisoners are human beings" and should be treated as such. However, if they were not respectful, then they were punished. His belief that inmates were expected to work hard, "lots of work and lots of play; no work, no play." Although he had the reputation of being a fair man, he used the "Old Gray Mare" (a sawhorse over which a prisoner was forced to lay and receive lashes from a wet leather strap) for discipline. One day, two prisoners escaped from Canon Prison and stole Roy Best’s car. They cruised around for a few hours before finally getting caught and returned to Canon Prison where they must have received severe punishment from Mr. Best himself.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Colman's Mustard

If you like hot mustard…then Colman’s Mustard is the one for you. In 1814, Jeremiah Colman began making mustard at a water mill near Norwich, England. To give it that distinctive flavor, he blended brown mustard with white mustard. That combination has been a favorite for 200 years. Around 1855, the firm introduced its characteristic packaging in a tin of bright yellow still in use today.
Many people ask what I use in my quiches...it's no secret...one teaspoon of Colman's Mustard!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Doves for Food

The dovecote in Dunster, in Somerset, England, was probably built in the latter part of the 16th century. It sits close to the Priory Green, and also close to the walls of the Priory Church of St. George. It’s approximately 19 feet high and 19 feet in diameter. The walls are 4 feet thick. There are 540 nest holes inside the dovecote.

During the 18th century, the floor level and door were raised to avoid the lower tiers of nest holes against infestation of brown rats. There's a revolving ladder inside the dovecote that was used to harvest the doves for the table. The raising of doves (or pigeons) provided an important and constant source of food. Evidently, the most desirable part of the dove (or pigeon) was called “squab meat” --
the breast of the bird. It is said to taste similar to the darker meat of a chicken.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Giants Who Ruled America

This book by Richard J. Dewhurst is absolutely fascinating! Months ago, I read a newspaper account of giant skeletons being unearthed in North East America in 1912. Intrigued, I started doing more research, and then found Dewhurst's book. I can hardly put it down. Rather than trying to explain the contents...the following comes directly from the back cover:

"Drawing on 400 years of newspaper articles and photos, first-person accounts, state historical records, and illustrated field reports, Richard J. Dewhurst reveals not only that North America  was one ruled by an advanced race of giants but also that the Smithsonian has been actively suppressing the physical evidence for nearly 150 years. He shows how thousands of giant skeletons have been unearthed at Mound Builder sites across the continent, only to disappear from the historical record.  He examines other concealed giant discoveries, such as the giant mummies found in Spirit Cave, Nevada, wrapped in fine textiles and dated to 8000 BCE; the hundreds of red-haired bog mummies found at sinkhole..."

Note: My favorite photograph is that of an eight foot "queen" (Page 127)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A King's Love - Charing Cross

On November 28th 1289, King Edward 1's beloved wife and mother of their 13 children died in Lincoln, England. Distraught over Eleanor’s death, the King had his wife’s body embalmed so it could be transported to London for a burial fit for a Queen. He accompanied his wife’s body during the 12 day journey. At every overnight place of rest, the King ordered a wooden cross be erected to remind the people of England to pray for their Queen. Later, those wooden crosses were replaced by stone memorials.

Today, only three crosses remain – Geddington (Northamptonshire,) Waltham Cross (Essex,) and Charing Cross (London.) The most spectacular cross was built in marble by the best mason of the day. A rough replica stands before Charing Cross station to this day.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hammock - The Origin

Photo: Artisan on Grand Cayman.

Originally, the Spanish colonists slept on filthy mattresses stuffed with straw. Drawn by the warmth of a body, they were flea ridden, attracted snakes, ants, and vermin of every kind. Imagine the Spanish soldiers when they set foot on land and saw the Native American hammock -- what an ingenious and clever idea. They immediately adopted the concept, and burned their mattresses. At first, the hammocks were made from the bark of a hamack tree, but that was later replaced by sisal fibers which were more plentiful in the area.

Around 1590, hammocks were adopted for use in sailing ships; the Royal Navy adopted the canvas hammock in 1597. Aboard ship, hammocks were regularly employed for sailors sleeping on the gun decks of warships, where limited space prevented the installation of permanent bunks. The hammock also moves in concert with the ship, and therefore provides the sailor with some protection from being tossed out due and possibly injured during heavy seas.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mountain Home for Sale

This beautiful home is located 60 minutes’ drive from Denver, Colorado. Located in the coveted sub division of Winterland, Idaho Springs, the home sits on a well-stocked (trout) private fishing lake. The views are absolutely breathtaking, and there are plenty of hiking, cross country skiing, and snowmobiling trails. The home is within a short distance of St. Mary’s Glacier.
For more information please go to:

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs

Okay, I know I've talked about food a lot over the last few posts, but I have to mention Biker Jim’s delicious hotdogs? His stand is at the corner of 16th Street Mall, and Arapahoe Street. His specialty dogs are not to be missed, and absolutely scrumptious! Last week, I had a Wild Boar brat with liberal amounts of onions and cream cheese -- something I’ve never tried before. My husband had the Louisiana Red Hot, and really enjoyed it. The other specialties are: Elk Jalapeno Cheddar, South Buffalo, Alaska Reindeer, German Veal Brats, Wild Boar, Louisiana Red Hots, and Hebrew Nat’l Kosher (all beef.)
For more information go to:  www.bikerjimsdogs.com

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sausage Rolls - Traditional Pub Food

These rolls were typically served (think they still are) in pubs and therefore considered “Pub Grub.” They are easy to make and are delicious. I use them for parties and BBQs. If you make them as an appetizer, roll the pastry out quite thinly - the sausage meat too, and cut them about 2" long so they're are “bite size.”

Short crust pastry (see previous post for recipe)
1lb. Sausage meat (mild, medium or hot - whatever you like)
2 tablespoons to ¼ cup of finely chopped onion
1 beaten egg
Salt and Pepper 

Roll out pastry until pieces measure approximately 12” long and 4” wide. Mix sausage and onion together and roll into long sausages about the about the size of a Frankfurter. Lay the sausage to the left of the strip of pastry and dampen the edge. Dampen the edge of the pastry strip and roll the pastry towards the right so you have a long pastry strip with the sausage inside. Cut the sausage strip into rolls. I use a diagonal cut for better presentation. Then put three small cuts (for decoration) on each roll. Brush the rolls with beaten egg and cook for about 30 minutes depending on size until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. These rolls freeze well.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Cornish Pasties

I’m sure most of you know that Cornish Pasties (not to be confused with pastries) is a dish that originated in Cornwall, England. I remember clearly my teacher telling us that is bygone years; the miners would take a pastie for their lunch. She also told us that the pastie would be large with two sections; a meat section and a sweet section with a partition of dough. Traditionally, the pastie was filled with lamb, but over the years, I’ve discovered that not many of my American friends like lamb, so I  usually use beef.

About ½ lb. short crust pastry (recipe below – it’s really easy)
About 2 cups of chopped (cooked) leftover beef (or lamb)
1 finely chopped potato
1 finely chopped onion
About 1/4 cup of beef stock or broth
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

Short Crust Pastry
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup shortening
1 teaspoon salt

Using a fork, blend all ingredients together in a basin. Add just enough cold water to make a pliable dough. Knead lightly on a floured board and roll out thinly until about as thick as a quarter.

Roll out the pastry as noted above. Use a saucer or something of similar size and cut rounds of pastry. Place a heaped teaspoon of the meat mixture in the center. Wet the edges of the pastry and pull towards the center, making sure the edges of the pastry sticks together. HELPFUL HINT:  Pinch the sides of the pastie so the gravy doesn’t run out. Then pinch the rest of the pastie together. (See photograph). Brush with egg and bake in a hot oven 400 for about 30-40 minutes. Scrumptious! They freeze well too so you could make a batch and pull them out of the freezer as and when needed.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Apple Nut and Cinnamon Cake

This cake is wonderful for brunch or a dessert. Topped with a dollop of cream...it's really quite delicious! It also freezes well.
½ cup shortening
1½ cups of white sugar (½ for topping)
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs (beaten)
2½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup of milk
2 cups of chopped apples (I leave the skin on but that’s up to you)
½ cup of chopped nuts I use either walnuts or pecans (topping)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (topping)

Cream shortening, 1 cup of sugar, ½ cup of brown sugar together and add the beaten eggs gradually. Sift the flour, soda, baking powder together and add alternately with the milk. Stir in the apples and pour into a greased and floured 13x9 pan.
Mix ½ cup of white sugar with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and ½ cup nuts. (I've used crunchy cereal on the above cake.) Sprinkle on top of batter in pan and bake for about 45 minutes at 350°.