White Bean & Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

Pretty in pink.

Better Half was up north at our “farm” enjoying pond building and pond blitzing with buddies (for you not in the know, pond blitzing is visiting as many ponds as you possibly can and fishing the heck out of ’em).  As for me, I enjoyed ME time!  Saturday night my dear friend R came over with her knitting and a delicious shrimp and corn salad.  I provided wine and appetizers for our girls-night-in, which is how I came up with this delicious White Bean & Sun-Dried Tomato Dip.

Before sharing this simple recipe, I must tell you that R and I cracked ourselves up that evening.  My sweet friend J (with whom Better Half stayed part of the time) sent me a text/picture of her cooking for the pond blitzers.  I cheekily sent her a picture of R and I toasting each other with our wine glasses.  J replied with a picture of her chugging a bottle of wine.  Hilarious!  However, she’s messing with a master.  I grabbed two antique “hooch” jugs and sent back a picture of us drinking out of the jugs.  Then, we took a picture of us with straws drinking out of 5-gallon carboys.  To finish the fun, the final picture was us drinking out of a spigot from a 5-gallon vat.  We were being so silly, but we were busting our guts. We’re not done. . . .  Dear J, we wish you had been here with us instead of taking care of the fishy-smelly guys!

White Bean & Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in olive oil is best)
1 T capers
2 cloves garlic (or more if you like)
Dash of red pepper flakes
1-2 T olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine first five ingredients in food processor and pulse until well blended.  While processor is running, drizzle in olive oil and blend until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with fresh veggies, crackers, or fresh baguette slices.

Books for a Meme

A “meme“??

I confess, when my friend Sue of dswalkerauthor sent me a message that she had tagged me for a meme, I had no earthly idea what she was talking about!  Wikipedia to the rescue!

Sue, who is an accomplished author was tagged in a post for this meme by a reader of her book (Delightfully Different).  How awesome is that?  Visit Sue’s blog and check out her book!

Here are the rules for this meme:

1. Take a picture of the books you are reading currently and add them to your post.

2. Describe the books and if you are enjoying them.

3. For every book you are reading, you have to tag one person.  (Sorry, but I’m tagging five people, rather than six, in hopes that maybe four of them want to complete the meme!)

4. Leave the person a comment letting them know you tagged them.

The above are books I am currently reading.  All but one are from the library, and it is probably quite obvious that I love having several books going at the same time.  (Yes, there is a seventh book there, but shhh, I’m trying to ignore it!)

Finding Better Crocker (Susan Marks):  I’ve explained previously that I was born in the wrong era and this book confirms my suspicions.  What can I say?  I love biographies even if the person isn’t real!  Not only do I love reading about the era when I should have been born, but this book is fascinating as regards to marketing an image almost 100 years ago.  Cool vintage recipes too!

The Nasty Bits (Anthony Bourdain):  I have a strange attraction to Anthony Bourdain.  I’m married to such a normal “good” guy, that Tony’s (I can call him Tony because we’re close. . . .) bad boy image intrigues me.  A bad boy who cooks? Hello, sign me up!  Warning:  this book (as is his television show) has explicit language!

Felted Knits (Beverly Galeskas):  I love to knit.  I love to knit and felt.  I’ve checked this book out several times because I love almost all of the projects.  How many have I completed?  Next question, please.

As Nature Made Him-The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl (John Colapinto):  I’m not sure what made me pick this up off the biography shelf, but I was intrigued by the story of a crazy Johns Hopkins doctor who convinced this simple Canadian family to change their poor injured little boy into a girl.  It’s a rather bizarre read (particularly for me), but I’m fascinated by things that aren’t a part of my life and that I am unable to relate.

House Rules (Rachel Sontag):  I’m halfway through this biography which tells the struggle of an obsessive control-freak doctor/father and his daughter who tries to escape the emotional abuse.  I’m anticipating this book to be cathartic for me.

Twain’s Feast (Andrew Beahrs):  I haven’t started this book yet, but I know I’ll enjoy it.  The young author “searches for America’s wild foods, from New Orleans croakers to Illinois Prairie Hens, with Mark Twain as his guide.”  Oh yeah baby, I can tell this book, which appears that it will commingle the lives of the author along with Twain’s works, will be a great read.

Here are the fellow bloggers (whose blogs are all wonderful!) I am tagging for this meme (and I really hope they don’t mind!).  I’m hoping each of them will have at least one book they’re reading and don’t mind sharing!

Stacey @ Bringing Up Goliath
Tricia @ {every}nothing wonderful
Nancy @ Nancy’s Point
Sandie @ A Bloggable Life
Christine @ Cpeezers at Home

Southern Belles

Northern cooks can make ’em too!

Better Half and I visited friends to help them put a roof on a rental home they own.  Well, let me clarify: Better Half was going to help with a roof and I was playing around with my buddy C.   These Southern Belles (courtesy of my cookbook Sassafras)  are my contribution to the good folks that volunteered to roof.  It takes maybe five minutes to prepare these caramel morsels.  I also made a few snide comments to some of the guys—those count as contributions too. . . .

C and I had a blast.  We shopped in a little Ozark town and played around on their 100 acres.  We went on a golf ball hunt, (the men love to see how far they can hit the golf balls) which sort of reminded me of an Easter Egg hunt.  Not surprisingly, I found very few while C found a sackful!  We walked around the property quite a bit and listened to the beautiful sound of the water rushing through their cave.  The cave is huge and amazing; archaeologists have visited to find and document Indian artifacts.   C’s husband is awesome at finding arrowheads in the creek and cave.  We played multiple games of dominoes, marbles, and gin rummy.  We made homemade feta and mozzarella cheeses, as well as visiting their workshop where we gals utilized saws, drills, and other myriad “manly” tools and crafted something special for my knitting. . . . (another post!).

We had a lot of fun cooking loads of food for the men and talking until the wee hours.  Oh, we also damaged a few items: an antique chair from France (honestly, I don’t weigh that much!) and C’s thumb (which I’m sure will grow back together.  Thank God she’s an RN!).

Southern Belles

2 c flour
1¾ c packed light brown sugar
1 c butter, softened
1½ to 2 c whole pecans
1½ c chocolate (semi, milk, etc.) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°.  Mix flour, 1 c brown sugar and ½ c butter until crumbly.  Press on bottom of ungreased 9″ x 13″ pan.  Sprinkle with single layer of pecans.  Combine remaining butter and brown sugar in small saucepan and boil one minute.  Pour over pecans (making a thin layer).  Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until caramel layer bubbles.  Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips, gently spreading as chocolate melts.  Cool and cut into bars.

Enjoy y’all!

Healthy Irish Brown Soda Bread

Relax—no yeast required!

Mmm, I love bread but with me trying to get back into my wedding “shorts” (yes, shorts) I have not been baking like I used to.   I spied the March, 2010 edition of Cooking Light in my doctor’s office.  In honor of St. Patrick’s Day it was full of great Irish recipes, and I’ve always wanted to attempt Irish soda bread and was surprised to realize it doesn’t contain yeast.  It’s a quick bread so even those scared of yeast (R, I’m talking to YOU!) can make this yummy, healthy bread.  (Although once you get started working with yeast you will get the hang of it and love the feel and texture of yeast goodies.)  The nutritional value of this bread is great: 160 calories a slice, 1.8 grams fat and 7.2 grams protein.  Enjoy!

Healthy Irish Brown Soda Bread

Cooking spray
2½ c whole-wheat flour
½ c all-purpose flour
½ c steel-cut oats (such as McCann’s)
2 T brown sugar
1 T wheat germ
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
½ t salt
2 c low-fat buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 325°.  Coat a 9 x 5–inch loaf pan with cooking spray.  Line the pan with parchment paper, and coat with cooking spray (I did not line with parchment and had great results).

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife.  Combine flours and next 6 ingredients (through salt).  Combine buttermilk and egg; add to flour mixture.  Stir just until combined.

Spoon the mixture into prepared pan. Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Invert bread onto a wire rack; cool completely.  Slice bread into 12 slices.

Don’t forget to wear green on the 17th!

P.S. to Lovely Daughter, I know this is your favorite holiday; enjoy sweetie!

 

Simple Marinade for Deer Loin

I like love game.

And I’m not afraid to say it.  I grew up with very few relatives, particularly of the male species.  When I say few, I mean, I can count them on one hand.  What the heck are “cousins”??  I most definitely was not subjected to hunting, except for one bizarre time when I was about 6 .  My dad went squirrel hunting with friends, and it was quite the occasion because it had never happened before, and never happened again.  I never had the opportunity to eat game until I was an adult.  I can’t believe I married a hunter.  Seriously, even my parents were freaking out about what I was getting myself into.  Imagine their response when their southern daughter, who loved high heels, announced she was marrying and moving to Alaska, all in one fell swoop.  Hum. . . .   I keep trying to forget the reactions.   Oh, I also don’t wear high heels anymore!

I respect those who do not hunt, and all I ask for is respect in return.  Our freezer is filled with all kinds of game, none of which contains hormones, is clean and fresh, and tastes better than anything I’ve ever purchased in a grocery store.  I am filled with incredible gratitude toward the trout that live in the river below our house.  The fact that I can crave trout and in a few hours be eating something people would pay big bucks for, is thrilling.

Whatever you choose to eat, enjoy it with gusto!

Simple Marinade for Deer Loin

¼ cup soy sauce
1 T brown sugar
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 t olive oil
1 pinch Chinese five-spice powder
1 clove garlic, minced

Whisk together all ingredients in a small pan and marinate deer loin (turning meat over occasionally) for at least 6 hours, or (preferably) overnight.  Delicious  grilled as kabobs alternated with onion and served with sautéed kale.

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