Cooking · Food · YouTube

Discovering New Teachers In The Kitchen

If you have followed me for any length of time, you know that I love to follow cooks and bakers. I love to learn more tips, tricks and techniques to improve my cooking and baking. You also know I love YouTube because I find some very interesting folks there.

I am usually slow to the (any) party so when I came across Erin Jeanne McDowell on Food52 it was a double introduction. I had never ventured into Food52 territory before and I had never heard about Ms. McDowell even though she has been a prominent baking presence for several years.

I did say I am often late, right?

I tripped over her video about tomato pies and was hooked! Check it out:

Now, I love a good tomato. And I love pie crust. Is it any surprise that I love a good tomato pie? Each of the pies is a work of art and relatively easy to put together.

There is more to this baker than just tomato pies. She has a wide array of recipes (she’s written at least 3 cookbooks) and best of all she is a great teacher.

Check out The Dish interview:

I don’t know of anyone who has never had an issue (or issues) with cooking or baking. There is always something that we stumble with. What I look for are the teachers who explain what to look for – and show me – and how to fix it so I can feel a bit more confident in the kitchen.

I give credit to Natalie Dupree who showed me how to use a food processor and gave me the courage to get one of my own. Hey, if she could do it, so could I, right?

Sometimes we just need a helping hand to get our hands dirty, right?

Check out Erin’s videos and recipes. I sure will be, too!

Bingeworthy · Classic TV · Media · Movies · TV

Catching Up

In the midst of Hollywood Strikes there are still options for viewers

A recent article in the New York Times (read here) is a reminder that even though we are not being inundated by new shows, there is still a lot to watch. A lot.

And you know what? That is a good thing.

One of the things I hate about cable is the dearth of material which results in jacking up the monthly bill. There is nothing like a 3 figure monthly bill for a majority of stuff I don’t have any interest in. 🙁 Streaming can be a bit of a mine field, too.

But here we are with a plethora of material that had been relegated to the ‘I’ll Watch that later’ list. Or, we’ve taken the time to brows our various streaming services (free or paid for) and found a whole host of things we’d forgotten we wanted to see. Now is the time!

And, if you were sharp eyed you discovered that many of your free services had materials that also appear on some of the paid platforms. !!!!!!

Yep, it is true. Granted you might not find all of a series, but you could find just what you want to see and watch enough to determine if adding the subscription cost to your budget is worth it or not. I recently discovered that several series I used to pay for are now available for free elsewhere. Jaw dropped. Money saved.

Another thing I have taken advantage of is the search feature on to find out where I can watch something and what it will cost me. I use the same feature on my Roku box. It can be eye opening to see the options.

So, pull up your watch list, grab a pen and paper and make a list of what you want to watch while we wait for Hollywood to sort itself out. Catch up without the need for frustration and annoyance that everyone else has already seen it before you. Who cares?

Grab the popcorn!

Audiobooks · Books

Favorite Authors In My Library: Sue Grafton

I honestly do not remember exactly when I was introduced to Sue Grafton and her heroine, Kinsey Millhone. I suspect it was when the first of her Alphabet Mysteries moved into paperback, somewhere around 1982. At that point I was devouring several women mystery writers, but only one stayed on my To Be Read List. Sue.

I should tell you that at that point in time I was young, broke, and frequented the local library when budget would not stretch to cover new paperbacks, let along hardback books. Grafton quickly moved to my Hardback list and stayed there until I acquired my first Kindle.

The Alphabet series was set in the 1980s and stayed there. Something novel after a while because Sue had to construct her stories without computers, cell phones, and a plethora of other tech that just was not available. While Kinsey might have maneuvered the world of paper files and pay phones, many of her later readers wouldn’t have a clue.

Originally intended to have one book per letter for the entire 26 letters, sadly Sue passed away just after book 25 came out. Somehow, it just seemed right. Even now.

Kinsey is sharp, funny, quirky, and a whole host of other things that endeared her to me. I love her sense of humor, her loyalty, her guts and her fears. The books cover her journey not only to crack the cases her clients bring her, but also the quirks of her own life. The books are not just the unfolding of the crime(s) but of life’s mysteries, too.

The audio books are a delight to listen to. Perfectly matched with Judy Kaye’s narration, they bring Kinsey to life.

I won’t lie, I miss Sue and Kinsey. Both are interesting women who put everything into their work. I am grateful, not to mention thankful, that I have several versions of the books (audio, paper and electronic) so I can visit them, not to mention Henry (I can smell his baking from here…) whenever I want.

Check out more about Sue here.

Cooking · Food

Rao’s End of An Era?

With the news that Rao’s has been acquired by Campbell’s many of us are sorely disappointed.

I know many folks don’t understand the problem. For them any jar of pasta sauce will do. For the rest of us, however, Rao’s is on target with a clean list of ingredients (no sugar), a balanced flavor, and for those sensitive to acid from tomatoes, Rao’s rarely creates that discomfort.

Yes, it isn’t cheap but neither is making your own.

Read more about this acquisition HERE.

In the meantime, I’m stocking up.

Cooking · Dining · Food

Time For A Change?

When You Need to Revisit the Menu

August is that month when many folks deal with kids returning to school and the ‘normal’ shifts. There is a concerted effort to gather the necessities and prepare for the return to a more regular daily schedule.

For those of us without kids, or have older kids, the shift might not be so drastic but the need for a shift can be felt.

Many of my meals are pretty standard. I’ve been known to be on a ‘cheese sandwich for lunch’ routine that could last for months. I might switch up the sandwich, but the pattern would hold. Breakfast, my favorite meal, is not often the Big Meal I love, but is often cereal with occasional toasted something. (Toast is a THING in my house…) Lunch is often my main meal and as such can evolve and change depending on my whim or desire.

Lately, breakfast – that quick and easy start to my day – has become a bit… … … I hesitate to use the word ‘boring’, but <sigh>

My standard weekly breakfasts have been mostly cereal for months with little shift of the cereals (I switch between two) and the occasional toast. For a long time prior, however, I enjoyed my breakfast biscuits.

As a rule I don’t like early in the day heavy breakfasts. If I want a Breakfast (fill in with the full blown whatever your idea might be) it is usually for brunch. I’ve learned that eating early, around 6 a.m., tends to make me hungry by 10 no matter how much, or how little I eat. Annoying? You bet!

All that being said, and as much as I enjoy my cereal, I find that a change is needed. Hmm.

Perhaps it is time to return to yogurt? Maybe a return to the breakfast biscuits?

I have friends who bake their oatmeal for easy breakfasts that can be carried to work. I have to admit, baked oatmeal has been on my To Be Tried List… So have Breakfast Cookies, which seem to be a bit more complicated but just as easy to carry…

All said, a shift in the ‘regular’ meal pattern is a good thing. And I now have something to consider as I put together my next grocery order.

What do you think?

Audiobooks · Books

Contemplating My To Be Read List

My ‘To Be Read’ list is an ever evolving, and occasionally devolving, list of books I want to listen to. Here are a few of the books at the top of my To Be Read List:

NOTE: I am an audiobook listener but most titles can be found in other mediums.

Time And Again by Jack Finney is an old favorite. The story of science fiction, time travel, history, and, of course, a love story, Time and Again has been a beloved book for decades. In fact, my first encounter with it was in paper form. The audio version just adds that something ‘extra’ to the story.

I would be remiss if I did not include the sequel, From Time to Time, on my list. While not exactly as amazing as its predecessor, it is a good continuation of the tale.

I, Claudius and Claudius The God by Robert Graves. I read these decades ago and thoroughly enjoyed the tale. The books are the base material for the BBC production, “I, Claudius” starring Derek Jacoby. Claudius was born a cripple and a stammerer, most thought him quite dim. The irony of his story is that he survived to become emperor.

If you have not watched “I, Claudius” I suggest you check it out. Be warned: It is bloody, blatant and more than a bit obscene in parts. Much like the time of the story it tells. I recently came across a reunion interview that will give you some insight:

What is on your To Be Read List?