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Saturday Evening Book Review: The Joy of Cooking, 75th Ed.; I Call My Grandpa Papa; I Call My Grandma Nana

September 12th, 2009

Reviewed today:

Papi in French, Opa in Dutch and German, Dadu in Bengali… it all adds up to Grandpa. Or how about Go-Go in Haitian Creole, Lola in Tagalog, Yia-Yia in Greek? It all equals Grandma.

Tomorrow (Sunday, September 13th) is Grandparents Day, which is pretty cool. And along come these two picture books, both by author Ashley Wolff (“Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten,” “Mama’s Milk” and many others; $15.99 apiece, Tricycle Press). They’re rhyming books, and both use collage art. Sweet, and a perfect gift for the grandparents (or adopted grandparent substitutes) in your life.

The Joy of Cooking (Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker, Simon & Schuster, $35, 1,132 big pages). What do you want? Five hundred new recipes? Four thousand of the most beloved Joy classics? Sure, go for it. I’ve been fond of this cookbook since my grandma gave me my first copy (paperback, now tattered and stained) when I was in high school. The hot buttered rum recipe is one of my favorites. I bought this for Steve as an anniversary gift. (A selfish, selfish anniversary gift, hahaha.) He opened it up right to the cocktail section. Man after my own heart. Our daughter loves the coconut cake recipe — Steve turned the recipe into cupcakes for her birthday and we gobbled them up.

As Julia would say (but not of this cookbook, just… in general)…

Bon appetit!



Three Book Reviews Away from the 100 Mark! Let’s Talk About… Man in the Moon, by Dotti Enderle; The Deen Brothers Take It Easy, by Jamie & Bobby Dean and Melissa Clark; and Julia Child

September 10th, 2009

Reviewed today:

“Man in the Moon,” by Dotti Enderle (Delacorte Press, $14.99, 152 pages) came out last year but got hidden away in my daughter’s room and just recently reappeared. Really good Young Adult (YA) fiction, set in Texas during the summer of 1961. Janine doesn’t know what to think. She’s worried. What if her father can’t find work? Her brother, Ricky, is sick. Really sick. Too sick to play hard, too sick to go outside. Is he going to get better? Her mother is frustrated and short-tempered. Her dog Buddy is restless. Then she hears noises coming from the corn. It’s a visitor. What does he want? Great read — a quiet book, that builds in intensity.

You know Paula Deen from the Food Network? The talk show appearances? Her cookbooks? Here is the best recipe ever for puddin’ — it’s hers, and it’s called Not Yo’ Mama’s Banana Pudding. It is just u-licious, but it is not exactly low-cal so get ready.

These guys Jamie and Bobby Deen are cuties, and they’re hers, too. They grew up in Georgia, run the family restaurant in Savannah (The Lady & Sons), do guest gigs on Good Morning America and are also on the Food Network (“Road Tasted” is their show). These two are mama’s boys for sure — they’re just as adorable as she is, and aim to please.

Their third cookbook (Ballantine Books, $25, 200 pages) is highly usable, yummy and has lots of great ideas for easy, fast meals. (They timed the release for the beginning of school, cuz they know we all forget how to get dinner on the table once the schedule changes. Again.) Look for “Speedy Mini Meat Loaves,” Chicken “Scampi” Pasta, crock-pot cooking (my favorite) and on and on and on. You know three of us don’t eat meat, chicken or fish over here. The one who eats meat, the one who’s crying because dammit, chicken is easy, please eat meat, y’all? Please? Whatever. I made the Spicy Beef and New Orleans Red Rice Skillet Dinner last night, about ten minutes after I ripped open the package of books. It was fast, easy and super-good. (I left out the beef, obviously. Added some cooked brown rice, veggie broth instead of chicken and put in extra hot sauce.)

Anybody who says you can’t cook Southern and cook veggie can just kiss my grits. Leave out the bacon grease and call it a day, would you? Thank you. I am going to experiment with the Chicken and Dumplings recipe and do a veggie soup with dumplings, instead. (Or just leave in the chicken and ask my mama over for dinner.)

I’m thinking… I can recreate Southern cooking to make it vegetarian. Can I do the same with French? Cuz you know Steve and the kids won’t eat duck. Quack, quack. Wish me luck, Julia. I’m thinking of you, up there in foodie heaven. Just ordered volumes 1 & 2 of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Will avoid aspics. Just sayin’.

Bon appetit!

— wm

happy anniversary steve-o, love love love

September 5th, 2009

“i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)”

“i carry your heart with me(i carry it in”
from “complete poems: 1904-1962”
ee cummings

The Neat Sheet, Courtesy of the Fashionable and Elegant Karen Vitt

September 5th, 2009

My girl Karen V. started herself a fancy little blog, what do you know? It’s all about fashion and beauty, coming to you live from Portland, Ore.

It’s called the Neat Sheet and is rilly, rilly super-neat. Lots of tips and contests and insider info. Go stop by and tell her I said, “Hello.”

(PS, Karen here’s a tip — Debi Mazar is coming out with her own line of Italian olive oil beauty products next spring. Nice! Looking forward to those.)

Lelo’s Cabbage Salad

September 5th, 2009

Oh, yum. Just harvested cherry tomatoes, big, juicy slicers, zucchini, and about four pounds of GREEN BEANS from the garden. It rained all over me, I’m drenched now. Dripping on the keyboard. (Kidding, I grabbed a towel as soon as I came in.)

The flowers are so happy — they’re all dusted off now and shiny. Steve pruned the honeysuckle way, way back about six weeks ago, I think it was. It has rebounded like a mofo and just finished eating the fence. Nom, nom.

I love my garden.

Just got my first tuition reimbursement, too, from my work, for that Human Development/Psych class I took. This is the first time ever I’ve gotten PAID for going to school. (There was that Pell Grant, too, that one time. That was a lovely day when that check arrived, all $1,100 of it. Still remember, 20 years later, haha.) So thank you, union and school district. I feel so extra-intelligent now. That master’s degree is just going to earn itself. And my students arrive back on Tuesday, can’t wait. So many great books to share with them. When they talk-talk during library time, you know what I say?

“Shhh! Hang on! I have a lot of information to tell you and a very short time to do it!” Works like a charm.


ever wonder what Portland, Orygun is like?

September 5th, 2009

Yeah, that’s not it. Why? Cuz I don’t believe I saw any hockey in that clip. We (heart) hockey. Hawkeytown!

(ps — it really is pretty here, isn’t it? It’s raining right now — poured so hard last night that it woke me up. I had to close all the windows! Everything was blowing. Really gorgeous now — the garden and flowers are so lush and green.)

(have a good weekend, y’all.)



mmmm…. butter… birthdays… anniversaries… wiener dogs?

September 4th, 2009

She butters the top of the omelet. That’s right. To make it shiny. I love Julia Child.

Went for sushi, then saw the film “Julie & Julia” today (I know, I know, sushi is not French, yet it is tasty). Fun movie, I liked it. Streep and Stanley Tucci were wonderful, of course. I don’t think Nora Ephron has ever made a movie or a book I didn’t like. (My favorites, in no particular order: “Crazy Salad,” “Silkwood,” “I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman” and “When Harry Met Sally…”)

The reviews all say something along the lines of, Oh, Meryl’s wonderful but eh, they could have done without Julie’s character. A blogger who is peevish, looking for inspiration with her cooking, and doesn’t always agree with her husband? Yeah, I can’t relate to that at all. hahahaha. I liked both plot lines — thought they were woven together well. I read the Julie/Julia Project sometimes when Julie Powell was writing it. Was glad she got a book deal. Was not so glad to hear that her second book details the affair she had after the first book was published. Eh, it’s not my life. But if you want to sleep with someone other than your husband? Don’t be married.

It’s our anniversary this weekend — can’t say what I’m giving Steve for a present, cuz it’s a surprise. But I think he’ll like it. My sister, the bride-to-be, informs me that eleventh anniversary is steel and jewelry. I’ll get myself some drill bits and get him some jewelry. Good? I won’t be getting myself a boyfriend for a gift, that’s for sure. What kind of lousy present is that? Also, nothing from here. Aroooooo… That’s what I’d really like to give him for an anniversary present — two wiener dogs. The bad thing about wiener dogs: Sometimes they get too nippy. Also they go “pee-pee” a lot. The good thing about wiener dogs: You get to say the word “wiener” all the time and make a lot of “wiener” jokes. That’s kinda fun.

Perhaps Steve wouldn’t like a doggy. Perhaps he would like a goose? Not that kind, the feathered kind. Sure he would! Happy anniversary, Steve. Eleven big years and I love you more every day.

“Never thought about divorce. Thought about murder plenty, but not divorce.” — my late, dear Granny, on the secret to her and my Grandpa’s marital success.

Why didn’t she remarry? “I had the best, honey. Why mess with the rest?”

True, that. Steve, I love you. Thanks for always loving me back.

Hmm. I like pets. I just don’t like their owners, sometimes. That’s all.

(Happy birthday to Wacky Cousin 3.0, we love you, kid. Hope you get to eat as many cupcakes as you want. And a big ol’ happy birthday to my little girl. If I had it my way, sweets, I’d get you three border collies. Happy birthday!!!!!!!!!! Hugs and love and kisses.)


September 2nd, 2009

Yeah, no one here will talk about it, for fear of offending someone’s “dog child,” but at least the New York Times dared to tackle the subject. Dogs are a frickin’ problem in Portland. They. Poop. All. OVER THE PLACE. Your dog does not have the same rights as my child, savvy? Besides, my kids are potty-trained and have been for quite some time. Your dog will never be potty-trained. Maybe you can train your pet bunny to use the commode, but the puppy-wuppy? Lost cause. Your dog is not your “child.” You did not birth that furry little poop machine. I know you love him. I know you “adopted” him. But it’s just different.

Aroooooooooooooooooooooooo! You know when I really went all postal on this? When we shared a duplex with a housemate who 1) refused to keep her large dog off the roof that was above our unit (she climbed out through the window and howled at the moon) (and the dog followed suit) 2) never “picked up” after said dog 3) boycotted mowing the grass.

“It is her birthright to have the yard!” (Landlord said we would “share” the yard. Haha to that.)

“Won’t all of the poo just decompose?”

Oh. Dear God. She was a trendsetter! This was ten years ago, but it was the beginning of the end as far as I’m concerned. Dogville, USA ever since then.

The newest trend? Take your doggy grocery shopping. Fun!

My favorite quote from the NYT story: “‘Usually they’ll hold off and not make a complaint until they’ve seen a dog urinate in the grocery store or jump up and try to swipe a pack of meat,’ said Vance Bybee, the head of the food safety division. ‘Or they’ve seen dogs pooping in the aisle, that sort of thing.’

‘That sort of puts them over the edge,’ Mr. Bybee said.”


“anthem” — leonard cohen

September 2nd, 2009

Tuesday Recipe Club: “Fried Pie Crust” — What the Hell? and BONUS RECIPE! Frozen Lemonade Pie

September 1st, 2009

I’m starting a new feature here at Chez Wacky — it’s called “Can Someone Please Explain This Wacky Recipe to Me?” Lelo? You’re the pie expert — get over here! (Nice feature they did on the Pie Contest in Thee O, by the by.)


3 cups plain flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. soda
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup shortening
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
4 quarts peaches, cut up (canned or frozen)
3-4 cups sugar
1 cup vinegar

Mix peaches, sugar and vinegar and cook until very thick or consistency of peach preserves. Pour in hot pint jars while mixture is boiling and seal. Deep fat fry.

I’m thinking those jars are going to EXPLODE LIKE MOFOs if you deep fat fry ’em. Just sayin’. Safety first and all. OK, this next one sounds do-able. I think my MamaToo just made this recently. (She has a recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Cookies on her blog.) My friends, you cannot go wrong if you add Cool Whip to it. I love reading through my aunties’ and grandma’s cookbooks. “Add frozen lemonade right from the freezer.” (These recipes came from a church cookbook I love — Goodness pure & SIMPLE is the title.) (Of the cookbook, not the church.) How about…


1 graham cracker crust
1 can Eagle Brand milk
1 small can frozen lemonade
1 9 oz. container Cool Whip

Chill milk. Beat well. Add frozen lemonade right from freezer. Beat until real thick. Fold in Cool Whip. Pour into crust. Refrigerate for about 1 hour. Will keep for a week. If using store bought crusts, recipe makes 2 small pies.

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