Thursday, February 7, 2019

The End to the Beginning

I wrote my first post on this blog on July 2, 2007.  It started as a knitting blog, progressed to a crafty blog/family blog/look at my cute dog and cats blog/whatever-I'd-like-to-say-at-the-moment blog. 

But I have let it go too long.  I tried resurrecting it a couple of times.  Unsuccessfully. 

So I'm saying good-bye to Old Sweet Songs, and starting a new blog -- Pudding and Pie.  You can find it here


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Taste of the Seasons Recipes

About 4 years ago my dear friend, Blake, asked me to help him with an event for the Brownstown Fund for the Arts, where he was a board member, and because it was Blake, I said, "Sure."  I prepared and demo-ed 3 appetizers and 3 cocktails for about 50 people.  It was fun, and we repeated the fun for three years.  Last year he took a break, but this year, my friends in the Psi Iota Xi Chapter in Brownstown wanted to revive it, both for their chapter anniversary party and as a fund raiser -- and they said they would give the proceeds to the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts where I am a board member.  So I said "sure" once again.
I didn't do a recipe book (both to save a little money and because my computer and printer weren't talking to each other); the event chairwomen Andrea and Jeanna (amazing, fun and hard-working Psi Ote sisters) suggested posting the recipes online, so here they are:

Herb Roasted Nuts
Although I called them "herb" roasted on the menu, I actually made "spice" roasted nuts.  I adapted this recipe from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook.  If you are in Savannah, be sure to go to this adorable vintage bakery.   

2 T. butter
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. cloves
1 t. cumin
1/8 t. cayenne
4 cups unsalted mixed nuts (any that you like -- I used almonds, cashews and walnuts)
1/4 cup sugar

Melt butter in a large skillet over low heat.  Stir in spices and continue to stir, cooking for about 2 minutes.  Add nuts, and stir for 5-6 minutes.  Sprinkle sugar over all, and cook another 3-4 minutes, or until you can't see the sugar any longer.  Pour nuts onto parchment-covered cookie sheet, and sprinkle with salt.  You can vary this recipe any way you like, with any spices or herbs that you enjoy.  There are lots of great spice mixes that would work perfectly.

French Mule Cocktail
We had this delicious cocktail at a French luncheon last month at Epcot.  This is a fairly close copy, I think.

For each drink:
2 oz. Chambord Liqueur (although I used my homemade blackberry liqueur)
1 oz. vodka
Juice of half a lime
1 can of cold ginger beer or ginger ale

Mix all and pour over ice.  Add a raspberry (or blackberry) and a sprig of mint.

Homemade Fruit Liqueur
Just because

Lightly fill a quart Ball jar with fresh, clean fruit -- berries, peaches, plums, cherries.
Pour vodka over fruit, filling the jar almost to the top, with a little room to stir.
Cap the jar, and place in a cool, dark place for a month to 6 weeks, stirring (or shaking) once a week.
When ready, make a simple syrup (1:1 sugar to water, boiled until clear and cooled completely).  Strain the fruit through a sieve or cheesecloth.  Add simple syrup to the jar, making it as sweet as you like.  I store it in the refrigerator.  This is great with some club soda or 7-Up, and I've been told it's pretty delicious on ice cream, as well!

Pam's Cheese Balls
This recipe is from my dear friend, Pam, who won an appetizer contest with these.  Someone Thursday night suggested they were "praline cheese balls" -- I think she was right.  I thought this recipe was perfect for a Beta Mu event -- those sisters had just made over 1700 of their famous cheese balls the weekend before for their annual fundraiser! 

8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons grated onion
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried dill

Mix all together and form into small balls (I used a cookie scoop); refrigerate while you make the sauce:

4 Tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1 cup chopped pecans

Mix all the above and spoon over cheese balls.  Refrigerate until serving.

Whipped Goat Cheese on Puff Pastry
This was another French Epcot dish. They didn't give us recipes, but again, I think this is close to what we enjoyed there.

4 ounces plain goat cheese
2 Tablespoons whipping cream
2 teaspoons lightly chopped rosemary
Frozen puff pastry

First, defrost puff pastry according to package directions, and cut into small squares (I did mine about 1" x 2"); place on a parchment-lines (or lightly sprayed) cookie sheet and bake according to package directions.  Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, beat the goat cheese and whipping cream together with an electric mixer until smooth; (you might need to add a little more cream to make it pipe-able); mix in rosemary.  Transfer cheese to a piping bag and squeeze onto the puff pastry squares.  Top with a dot of honey.

Christmas Margarita

1 ounce tequila
3 ounces cranberry juice
1 ounce lime juice
1 ounce orange liqueur
1 ounce club soda

Shake the above ingredients together, pour over ice and serve with a lime wedge and pomegranate seeds (arils).

This recipe is from my favorite magazine, Southern Living, and I think it is just delicious. Click the link above for the recipe.  For Thursday evening, I reduced the jalapenos to just 1, and omitted both the hot sauce and the horseradish. 

This is another great Southern Living Recipe.  We cooked the pork in an electric pressure cooker (InstaPot).  I will confess that the biscuits we served Thursday evening didn't have any BBQ sauce, as I had left it in my refrigerator.

This is the third recipe from SL.  The changes I made to this recipe were: 1) I used a brownie mix; and 2) I omitted the peanut butter from the chocolate mousse.  Just make sure you whip the cream to stiff peaks, and this will set up beautifully.  

Holiday Sangria
This is my recipe, inspired by lots of other winter sangria recipes.  Omit the wine and brandy for a more kid-friendly punch bowl!

1 gallon apple cider
1 cup brandy
Spice ball

Mix cider and brandy in a punch bowl or other large container.  For the spice ball, combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 cinnamon sticks, a teaspoon of whole cloves and a slice of fresh ginger in a cheesecloth square; tie up into a ball and immerse in the cider for a few hours or overnight.

Before serving, prepare fruit.  Chop or thinly slice an apple and a pear, and slice an orange thin.  If you're serving from a punch bowl, add the fruit to the bowl.  Or, add fruit to the indivual glasses. 


4 cups of orange juice
12 ounces of club soda
1 bottle of dry white wine

I had such a great time at the Taste of the Seasons; I think there are plans to do it again next November!  Thanks to my friends Lori and Jenny for coming over Thursday afternoon to help me get ready, and to Clay, Maggie and my sister, Karen, for helping to prep and serve.  And thanks to the women who attended!  

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Checking In - A Little Writing

So it turns out I'm not much good at checking in every week. But this is not a surprise.
 Let's just say all is well here, I am deeply concerned about our country and our world, I've been reading some good stuff, and writing a little.  Not enough, as our writing circle "assignment" was to write every day this week, and I don't really think Facebook posts should count.

In way of checking in, this week I'll share what I wrote for the circle last week after thinking about the "how" of my writing.  I'm thinking this might turn into a poem -- it feels like a poem.  At least it's listy.

My Mode of Writing:  The Pen

I belong to a regular small-town family.  We live in a regular house and have regular but lovely children and grandchildren.  We love birthday parties and Taco Tuesdays.  We usually go to mass on Saturday nights then come home to pizza and morally questionable TV shows.  See? Regular.

But Clay is what they call a "worldwide expert" in his field, and travels the world keeping people happy and doing something important to great big engines that I couldn't begin to explain or understand.  He is gone from home for weeks at a time, usually in remote areas of the world:  the Australian Outback, mountaintops in Indonesia and the literal middle of nowhere Siberia.  We installed a huge map of the world in our living room so we'll always understand just where he is, and our home is decorated with  interesting things from his travels.  Delicate tea sets from Japan and China.  Happy little Buddhas and figures of Ganesha.  A candle holder from Sweden, a Union Jack teacup, a vuvuzela, a boomerang.  Many sets of Russian nesting dolls.  Scarves, kimonos, jewelry, maps, books, teas, jams and chocolates.

Many years ago, I told him I didn't need him to bring me anything -- his return was gift enough, plus I am rotten at dusting all the knickknacks.  So he started to bring me yarn.  "Really useful," he said.  First was Russian yarn, which we found after deciphering the label was made in China.  Lovely Japanese yarn I can buy more cheaply at my favorite shop in Indianapolis.  When he told me the story of how his taxi driver guided him through the sketchy back alleys of Pune, India to buy some yarn from the drive's cousin, I said no more yarn.

But he seemed desperate to bring me something, perhaps in restitution for all the months of our marriage that he's been gone, for the holidays and family gatherings he's missed.  Maybe for the time I had to retrieve our middle child from a party after a 2 AM call from the sheriff.

So now he brings me pens.  Pens labeled with Cyrillic alphabets, pens with crowns on top, pens that switch from red to blue to black to pencil, depending upon how you hold them.  Short little pens that extend to regular length at the flick of your wrist.  Pens with fine, fine tips, because he know those are my favorite.
Those fine tip pens allow me to write fast.  They let my hand and brain keep closer pursuit in the race to get my words only paper.

So I write.  Fast little poems for friend's birthdays, or to commemorate their addiction to Peeps.  My novel that sits stagnant in a notebook as well as in a file on my computer.  Pages and pages of journal entries on my life as a mom, mimi and wife who has struggled to be joyful and at peace in a marriage when she is so often alone, but yet never alone as long as I have a pen.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Checking In

This is Olive's sweater I knit for her last year.  I'm not really sure what happened, but it looks a little like how my life/schedule currently feels.  Looking to remedy both ASAP.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday Check In

What I'm Reading:  Still, My Brilliant Friend  and The Brothers Karamazov.  I resorted to downloading the Audible version of MBF in an attempt to get it completed before tomorrow.

What I'm Writing:  Re-wrote memoir notes; may have another memoir in the pipeline.  Another poem.

What I'm Crafting: Orange socks!

I finally joined up with the "Procrastinate No More" Christmas knitting project started by Brenda and Heather on Ravelry.  (They started the project on July 25, I signed up today -- procrastination is the name of my game!)   These socks are for Nate; if he decides to wrestle for the North team instead of the East team this winter, I guess these will be for Clay (who can wear them when the Browns play!), and buy a skein of B&H Blue Blazes.  See that cute little camper stitch marker?  From B&H -- they're so fun.

What I'm Sewing:  Patches onto Jenny's volleyball ref shirts.

What I'm Cooking:  Eggplant Parmesan (just "eh" -- the melty cheese was good) and peach cobbler (yum) were about the extent of my cooking last week.  I did freeze 7 quarts of peaches.

Fun Stuff:  Watching Good Behavior with Clay.  It's splendidly non-edifying.
Lunch at Batar with Deanna -- we talked until the restaurant closed and then talked outside for another 40 minutes, which is the definition of fun in my book.
An auction on Saturday, which I had decided to skip until Jenny called and told me I really needed to go -- she was right.  I promised myself "no linens" and "no dishes", but a violet tea set is too sweet for me to pass up.  Some kitchy stuff, some costume jewelry and a jewelry box, a cow picture (much like the one my grandma had at her house), turquoise-handled silverware, sturdy end and coffee tables, 3 bamboo fishing poles and a vintage kitchen step stool completed the day.  Plus all the stuff we bought for the market (especially an adorable yellow kitchen table and chair set!)  And, I got to talk to Blake a little, which always makes me happy.

Difficult Stuff:  2nd Anniversary of Joannie's death; went to Mass and breakfast with Linda and just cried a little a couple of times.  I miss her every day -- she laughed at my weirdness, gently tried to steer me straight when I got off track, and made hard work great fun.  I've made it clear to Linda that she may not die before me -- she gets me just like Joannie did, and even through she tries to convince me that she's rotten and not to be compared to Joannie's goodness, she's wrong.

And then, Charlottesville.  But I am too sad to write anything else about that this morning.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Checking In

Every Monday, I'm going to blog about what's shaking around here.  Hopefully.

What I'm Reading:  My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (for book group), Lead With Humility:  12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis by Jeffrey A. Krames, Blasphemy by Sherman Alexie (because I want to read what the cool kids are reading) and The Brothers Karamazov by Fydor Dostoevsky, because I think I should.  (I really want to start Britt-Marie, but am making myself wait until at least one of these others is completed!)

What I'm Writing:  A couple of poems.  This blog post.  Memoir notes for a friend.  I'm thinking about the novel.

Only 60 more squares to go!

What I'm Crafting:  A knitted afghan for the Welcome Blanket project, a crocheted shawl for hospice (with really squeaky acrylic yarn -- it's painful.), and hoping to cast on for some Christmas gift socks soon -- my friends, Brenda and Heather, are hosting a "Procrastinate No More Along" on their Ravelry page, and one of these days I'm actually going to join in, as soon as I stop procrastinating.

What I'm Sewing:  Nada.  But I want to be -- I have so many quilt ideas banging around in my head.

What I'm Cooking:  Dishes with beautiful produce.  And blackberry cobblers.

Fun Stuff:  Watching Hidden Figures outside at Jenny and Brian's farm Friday night with a fun group of people, a little alcohol and s'mores.  
Going away supper for Carly as she gets ready to leave for her sophomore year at Belmont.
Birthday supper for sweet friend, Ann, with Tammy and Lori.
Delivering 47 blackberry cobblers to my generous friends; ergo delivering $1000 to the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts from the sale of those cobblers.

Difficult Stuff:  Funeral for Helen, my dear friend, Laverne's mother.  Visited with our friend, Pam, who lost her beloved dad last week.  45 is still the POTUS.

Big Question of the week:  Why do people hate Ed Sheeran?


Friday, July 21, 2017

Re-start, Re-charge

So you may notice that I haven't posted on this blog since August of 2015.

Two years.

Lots and lots has happened. I won't even try to catch up, but may include some of the lovelier moments of those two years here in the next few weeks.

I also haven't written much at all in the past two years; my novel, which I quit a great job to write, is still unwritten.  I did start a political blog (Jumping Down from the Shelf) in January, but have only posted there 10 times.  I'm proud of the blog entries, although I get a little timid every time I'm ready to hit the "publish" button -- I'm a blue woman living in a red state with a lot of red friends and a couple of red enemies.

But I have been inspired to re-charge this blog by two people/things:  1) my sweet friend, Margaret's, lovely blog (My Own Allegory).  It was just a few weeks ago that Clay asked if I'd ever read her blog, and I am ashamed to say that I hadn't.  It is sharp, introspective and passionate -- just what I want my blog to be.  I'm probably going to steal her "Weekly Ponder" idea for my blog, just to keep track of books and such on a more regular basis.

2) Women Writing for (a) Change.  I went on retreat last week.  I was so incredibly nervous, as I was stepping out of my comfort zone -- I knew no one else who was going.  What I soon discovered is that these 17 lovely, amazing women on the retreat with me are probably my tribe.  I think this retreat has changed my life.  (More on that to follow...) I have come home ready to right the world with my words.

Well, write, anyway.  Away we go.