Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Salad Made With Romaine, Fresh Peaches, Blackberries, Mozzarella, Candied Pecans and Home Made Poppy Seed Dressing - This Is For You Jaley!

A very talented young friend of mine posted on Facebook that she had gone to the grocery last night and gone a little overboard on buying peaches and wondered what she could do with them.  I told her it looked like there was a cobbler or crisp in her future.  Or perhaps, a salad with peaches.

Jaley, this is for you!  I created this salad recently when our family came over for dinner.  I had lots of South Carolina peaches on hand and a pint of fresh blackberries.  I am always trying to think up new ways to makes salads because, let's face it, the same old vegetable salads get old and bo-ring!

This salad has romaine lettuce, fresh peaches, fresh blackberries, candied pecans and fresh mozzarella cheese that has been cut into bite sized cubes.  To go with it, I made a home made poppy seed dressing that is so good I could probably drink it with a straw.

Here is what you need for the salad:

1 head romaine lettuce
2 fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced (or more if desired)
3/4 cups fresh blackberries (or a couple of handfuls if you don't want to measure)
1/2 cup pecans
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into bite sized cubes

First, you want to candy your pecans.  Melt the butter in a non-stick pan over medium to low heat.  Add the brown sugar, stirring with a wooden spoon until it melts.  Add the pecans and stir until the sugar starts to cling to the pecans.  Remove pan from heat and let cool.  Be careful not to burn your pecans.  They take on a wonderful toasted caramel flavor that is divine.  Just don't eat them all before you add them to the salad.

Cut or tear your romaine lettuce and add to a large salad bowl.  Peel, pit and slice the peaces, add to the greens.  Add the blackberries and the pecans.  Cut the mozzarella into bite sized cubes and add to the salad.  Toss.

Now, you will definitely want to make this fabulous poppy seed dressing.  Here is what you need:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp champagne vinegar (available at most groceries)
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp poppy seeds (available in the spice aisle, most groceries)
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp grated sweet onion

Mix the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake, shake, shake.  Or whisk together in a bowl.  Serve in a small pitcher or bowl, or  you could pass out straws.
The crunch of those little poppy seeds with the tangy sweetness of the dressing is the perfect compliment to this salad.  Also, there are no preservatives or msg. like you get in bottled dressings.

If you have other greens instead of romaine, feel free to substitute.  Just don't overwhelm the fruit with greens.  You want a nice balance.  You could also substitute feta, blue cheese, or a nice smoked gouda for the mozzarella, but the creamy goodness of the mozzarella is so good with the fruit, you might want to reconsider.  It's your choice.

Who doesn't appreciate cool and crunchy food in this hot, muggy, humid weather?  This salad fits the bill.  There is no cooking required except for the pecans and you could leave them plain if you wanted -  it just wouldn't be quite the same if you know what I mean.

So Jaley, give this salad a try.  I think you will really like it and let me know what you think.  I've got your back girl!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

"An apple is an excellent thing -- until you have tried a peach."
George du Maurier (1834-1896)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Thoughtful Gift You Can Make

Recently my friend Linda and I were talking about crocheting (which we both do) and she was hunting for her crochet hook (which we all do), so I decided I would make her a crochet hook caddy so she would be able to find her crochet hooks whenever she needed them.  I am also making one for myself because I am always hunting for just the hook I need and they are everywhere - in boxes, in my bag of yarn, in my paint brush caddy - yes, I know, go figure.  It's worse than trying to find my cell phone.

I asked Linda what her favorite colors were and she told me yellow and lavender.  I also happen to know that she loves all things "beach" because she spends time with her sister at her beach house.  We talk about craft projects and things she can make with shells from time to time and she does a fabulous job.  So, my little surprise project was under way.

Linda and I go WAAAAAY back to high school.  We are both Bosse Bulldogs, class of 1966.  Yes, you read that right.  We are both grandmas, but we are still young in spirit.  Linda lives in Texas and I live in Tennessee.  When our oldest daughter was living in Dallas, I would get to see Linda for a lunch when we visited Holly and her family.  Now, Holly lives in Tennessee and I don't get to see Linda as often as I did.  But, we do talk online and on the phone and hopefully, she is coming to visit next year.  Yeehaa, as they would say in Texas.  Boy, are we going to have some fun.  Anyway, I am getting totally off the subject.  Today is Linda's birthday, and I wanted to feature this little project I made for her.

Even if you are not the world's best seamstress, you can make one of these.  It is just simple machine sewing and is really not hard.  I just made it up as I went.  You will need 3 fat quarters in your favorite colors (or fabric scraps if you have them) and a 9 x 12 piece of felt and some ribbon.  That's it.   I can hear you asking why I used felt.  Simple.  Because I wanted the caddy to have more body and it would enhance the quilted look I planned to use to finish the caddy.  

I tried to find some "beach" fabric here in Tennessee, but had absolutely no luck, so I went with stars which are my favorite and very symbolic of Texas.  The inside pieces looks like water color swirls in yellow and lavender.

Here is how I started out.  Fat quarters are 18 x 21 inches.  I laid the two yellow pieces with the right sides facing.  I then placed the felt piece 1/2 in from the top and left edges of the fabric and cut the right and bottom seams 1/2 from the edge of the felt.

Pin the felt to the wrong side of the cotton fabric and stitch just inside the edge of the felt, leaving about a 4 or 5 inch opening in the bottom so you can turn the piece.  I used clear nylon thread so I didn't have to keep changing colors.  
Trim the corners at an angle so you will have nice points when you turn this piece.
Now, turn the piece right side out.  Turn the unstitched opening to match the rest of the seam line, press, and stitch shut on the right side of the fabric.
Now, you are going to cut the pocket that will hold the crochet hooks.  Lay your "pocket" fabric (which was the lavender in my case) at least 1/2 way up from the bottom of the piece you just finished. Allow 1/2 inch seam allowance on the top, bottom, and both sides and cut a rectangle from the fabric.  Fold each seam allowance under 1/4 inch two times so you will not have any raw edges.  Press.

Stitch the top edge of the rectangle all the way across.  Turn and pin to what will be the inside of your hook caddy.  Stitch down one side, across the bottom and back up the other side.  Now, take your smallest hood and place it inside the pocket next to the left seam.  Measure, allowing enough room to slide the hook in easily.  Mark the seam with a disappearing sewing marker if needed.  I just free stitched mine.  On the right hand side, place your biggest hook and do the same thing.  Now, make several small pockets on the left, more medium sized pockets in the middle (because most of us use yard hooks which are medium sized) and then allow a couple of large pockets for big hooks like a P or a Q on the right side.  Stitch each seam from the top of the pocket to the bottom, sewing in a straight line.  This gives you a really nice quilted effect on the inside and outside of the caddy.  

Cut two 12 inch pieces of ribbon and sew them to the right side of the caddy just above the pocket.
Roll your caddy from the left to the right and tie one piece of the ribbon around the outside of the closed caddy and tie a bow using the remaining ribbon.  You will probably have to trim your ribbon so it with be the same length when tied.  Ta da!  You are finished.  Now, you can organize all your crochet hooks easily and keep them in one place.  You can carry them with you in your purse or project bag and they are easily at hand when needed.  

Linda said she was going to take hers to the beach so she could work on projects while relaxing.  That was my hope when I made this.  Now, I have to get busy and finish mine.  Crochet hooks are calling.

This project is quick and easy.  You could also use the same process and make crayon or colored pencil carriers for your grandchildren.  I always try to have crayons with me when we go out to eat just in case the restaurant doesn't have them.  Your children would love you for this thoughtful gift.  And, if you start now you can have a bunch of these made in time for Christmas.  All those crafters and kids in your life will be so grateful for such a thoughtful gift that can be personalized individually.  

Happy Birthday Linda.  Hope your day was great and that you are enjoying your crochet hook caddy!  Now,  everybody get busy and give this project a try.  

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Every gift from a friend is a wish for your happiness.
Richard Bach

Monday, July 23, 2012

Grilled Zucchini And Bean Salad Is Outstanding!

It continues to be a hot, hot summer and no one wants to spend time over a hot stove, so how about a hot grill?  Just thought I'd throw that in.  I was looking for recipes that would utilize our abundance of zucchini coming in from our garden.  Did you know that zucchini and squash are very prolific plants?  They produce a LOT of produce per plant which is good, but then you want to use it and not  prepare it the same way over and over.

Not only is zucchini super delicious and can be prepared in a great variety of ways, it is very good for you.  It has vitamins, minerals, fiber and even protein.

 One raw medium zucchini, including its skin, boasts 56 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin C. It also delivers 11 percent of your daily value of vitamin K, 16 percent of riboflavin, 21 percent of vitamin B-6 and 14 percent of folate. Other vitamins present in lesser  quantities include vitamin A, vitamin E, thiamin, niacin and pantothenic acid.

Who knew such a humble vegetable could be so good for you and taste so good at the same time?

This recipe is from a show on the Food Network called Mexican Made Easy.  It's one of my favorite shows and I love to watch it on Saturday mornings.  I know I'm a nerd, but I love recipes and food shows and watching people prepare awesome recipes.  It inspires me to the "nth" degree and encourages me to make better food for us and our extended family.  The host of the show is Marcela Valladolid and she makes amazing food and I have used several of her recipes.  This is one of the best ways ever to use zucchini and it's very easy too.  Everyone LOVED this recipe.

Here is what you need:

3 zucchini, cut lengthwise in 1/2 inch thick slices
1 15 ounce can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 TBSP fresh lime juice (1 lime)
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil plus additional for brushing on the zucchini for grilling
salt and pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 serrano chilis, stemmed, seeded, chopped (I left these out because we have little ones eating.  Serranos are hotter than jalapenos.)
2 cloves garlic, minced

Cut the ends off the zucchini and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices longways.  Brush both sides with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Grill, turning once - about 4 minutes per side.  Cut into 1 inch pieces.  They will look like this.
By the way, zucchini are delicious eaten just like this!

Next, make the dressing by whisking the lime juice, vinegar and oil.  Add the onion, cilantro, peppers (if using) and garlic.  Toss to coat the veggies.  Add the beans, stir to combine.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add the zucchini which has been cut into bite sized cubes.  Stir once more to combine.  Serve.

The combination of flavors and textures is so, so good.  Add the serrano peppers if you like heat in your salad.  Or, you could use a small can of diced chilis, or even diced bell pepper.  It would be your choice.  It was delicious with no peppers.  

This is a great side dish, but could also be eaten as a main dish because it is full of protein, fiber and deliciousness.  The beans provide protein and the zucchini, which is one of my favorite vegetables, exudes that wonderful grilled flavor.  Outstanding.  

You can make a big bowl of this (I doubled the recipe) and enjoy it again and again.  You will be sad when it's gone.  If you have zucchini growing in your garden, you are in luck and  can make it again and again.  The farmer's market is also flush with zucchini and squash at this time of the year so load up.  Here is another way you can use some of that summertime goodness.  Thank you Marcela for this fabulous recipe.  Enjoy!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Zucchinis terrific!
Like bunnies, prolific!

-  Author Unknown

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Donna's Fresh Peach Dump Cake

Freestone peaches are finally in at the farmer's market.  Hooray!!  I love the early cling peaches, but they are hard to slice since the pit does not come out easily and you lose some of the peach that clings to the pit.  Freestones get their name because you cut around the middle of the peach, pop it open and the pit comes right out.   That way, you do not loose any of the succulent, juicy peach flesh.  You get to eat and utilize every last bite of juicy, sweet, heavenly peach.

I brought home a big basket of peaches the other day and wanted to make something right away because the peaches were very ripe and would not last long in this heat.  I HATE to waste a peach.  I shared some with our daughter's because their boys love peaches and I used the rest to make my fresh peach dump cake.   This recipe is quick and easy and you really should try it.

Here is what you need:

8-10 large peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced.
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsps. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 box yellow cake mix, dry
1 stick butter, melted

First, peel and slice the peaches and place in a large bowl.  Sprinkle peaches with 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the cinnamon and stir to help the peaches release their juices.  These peaches were so sweet, I didn't need more sugar.  Feel free to add a little more sugar if you think it's necessary, but remember you are going to add a can of sweetened condensed milk.  Place the peaches in a 9x13 pan.  Sprinkle the peaches with the chopped pecans and shredded coconut.  Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the peaches, pecans and coconut.  Sprinkle the dry cake mix evenly over the peaches.  Pour the melted butter over the dry cake mix.  Bake in a 350 degree oven until the cake mix is brown on top.

Now let me tell you, the sweetened condensed milk caramelizes on the peaches, coconut, pecan goodness and wowza, it is delicious.  The buttery crunchy cake mix adds another  level of goodness.  If you don't like coconut or pecans, leave them out, but they do make the cake even MORE delicious.  Also, you can add a big dollop of whipped cream or ice cream and yum, yum, yum, you have one of the best desserts ever!

If you have a basket of fresh peaches and are wondering what to do with them, give this super easy dessert a try.  It's worth the time it takes to peel and slice the peaches and it's easier than making crust for a pie or cobbler.  As a matter of fact, I think I am going to go have a bowl full of goodness right now.  Wish you could join me.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

I really think heaven must smell like peaches, or peaches smell like heaven.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Shrimp Scampi - Quick and Easy, Great For Hot Summer Mealtime

We have gone from hot to sauna here in Nashville.  Yes, we had several weeks of triple digit days with not a drop of rain and it was like an oven outside.  Now, we have rain (and we are more than grateful for every drop) added to the heat and it is like a sauna every time you step out of doors.  Humidity, nothing like it.  You are dripping wet almost immediately.  Therefore, I stay in the air conditioned comfort of the indoors as much as possible.

Yesterday was just one of those miserable humid summer days and I did not want to spend much time over a stove.  So I did one of those "drive by" perusals of the pantry, the fridge and the freezer.  Do you ever do that?  Stand there with the door open, trying to figure out what to make for dinner?  Hmmm, frozen shrimp and there is always an assortment of pasta in the pantry.  Lightbulb comes on and it's going to be shrimp scampi for dinner.  Quick and super tasty.  All garlicky, buttery, lemony goodness in one pan and it only takes about 20 minutes to make.  Decision made.  Time to go to work.

Here is what you need.

1 pound shelled, deveined shrimp (I used frozen)
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
3-4 cloves whole garlic, peeled and minced
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp. butter
1/2 - 1 cup chicken stock in a box
juice of 2 whole lemons
basil leaves
8 ounces pasta (linguini, angel hair, spaghetti - I used tagliatelle)
grated fresh parmesan cheese, optional

Put water on to cook your pasta and salt generously.  (It takes time to come to a boil).  Cook pasta according to directions.  Drain when done.

While waiting for the water to boil, mince onion and garlic.  In a large saute pan,  add olive oil and butter, melting butter over medium heat (do not let it brown or burn).  Add onions and saute until they become translucent.  Throw in garlic, stirring so it doesn't burn.  Throw in Shrimp.  Cook until shrimp turns pink.  (Yes, you can throw it in still frozen)  Add juice of two whole lemons,  1/2 of the chicken stock, salt (if needed, I didn't add any) and pepper.  Add drained pasta to the sauce and stir until all the pasta is coated.  If you need more liquid, add the rest of the chicken stock.

Serve by adding torn basil leaves to the pasta and shrimp and grated fresh parmesan cheese if desired.

For pasta, I chose tagliatelle which is flat like linguini but a little wider and comes in little bird-nest like bunches.  It looks like this.
I used 10 "nests" and it made just the right amount of pasta for the sauce.  The super delicious lemony, garlicky, buttery sauce coating the pasta is so good.  Combined with the shrimp, it was an absolutely perfect dinner.  It's such a light sauce with that lemon undertone, mm, mmm, mmmm.
We enjoyed this entree with that lovely bruschetta I wrote about last night and it made a perfect summer meal.  The leftovers today were quite spectacular too.

Scampi is actually the Italian word for langoustine lobster which comes from the North Atlantic.  They are small lobster about the size of a crayfish and the tails are eaten with butter.  In Italian-American cuisine, scampi has come to be known as a way of preparation, rather than the name for a particular kind of lobster.  It is usually shrimp cooked in garlic sauce and served with pasta, therefore the name shrimp scampi.  So, next time you feel like you are melting in the summer heat and don't want anything hot or heavy to eat, try this shrimp scampi recipe.  It's divine.

Everyday donna

Things to Remember:

     I Like this quote 

“Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sautee it. There's, um, shrimp kebabs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo, pan fried, deep fried, stir fried. There's pineapple shrimp and lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich... That's, that's about it.”  Bubba Blue from Forrest Gump

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bruschetta Made With Fresh Garden Tomatoes and Basil - Yum

Oh the glorious bounty of a summer garden.  Last year we planted our garden at the back of our yard (which is quite large) and critters ate everything in it.  One day we had 18 tomatoes ready to pick and the next day they were gone.  Every. Last. One.  Rabbits ate the squash, cucumber and strawberry plants and I am assuming deer pulled the tomato plants right out of the ground.  At least they were all well fed.  We, on the other hand, were very sad that we didn't even have one single juicy tomato.

This year, we planted our garden in a totally different place and it has done exceptionally well.  Hallelujah.  We did have to water it during the super hot days due to having no rain.  This past week we lucked out and received almost 6 inches of rain.  Therefore, the tomatoes are starting to roll in.  The big tomatoes take longer to ripen and they are starting to come in, but the cherry tomatoes are coming in fast and furious as they say.  They are coming in so fast, that we are giving them away to our daughter's families because we can't eat them all.  I wish we could eat them all because they are sooooo delicious - super sweet and juicy.  I could eat them like candy.

Tonight, I made shrimp scampi for dinner and a delicious bruschetta to go with it.   Bruschetta made with sweet, ripe, juicy tomatoes is one of those things that can make you do cartwheels it is so good.  Just look at the beautiful colors in the picture above.   Doesn't it make  you want some?

Here is a little background on bruschetta.

Bruschetta (Italian pronunciation: [bru'sket:ta]  is an antipasto from Italy whose origin dates to at least the 15th century. It consists of roasted bread rubbed with garlic and topped with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.  Wikipedia

There are many variations on a basic bruschetta, some of which are made with a tomato topping, mozzarella, or sausage.  I made the tomato version because 1. We like it, 2. We like it, and 3.  We have tomatoes coming out of our ears.  

Bruschetta is so easy to make.  Here is what you need.

1 baguette, cut into thick slices  (I made 4 pieces for the two of us)
fresh tomatoes (I used 12 cherry tomatoes for the two of us)
fresh basil leaves (about 6 for 4 pieces)
extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic

First, slice your baguette into thick slices.  Smash the garlic clove using the flat blade of a knife and the palm of your hand.  Rub the garlic on the slices of baguette.  Drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil.  Place the bread on a baking sheet and place in a 350 degree oven until the bread is lightly toasted.  Remove from oven.

Dice the tomatoes and place in a bowl.  Lightly salt and pepper.  Put the basil leaves on top of each other making a stack and roll them up like a cigar.  Using a sharp knife, very thinly slice the leaves (chiffonade cut).  Slice them across the little rounds you have just made.  Sprinkle the basil leaves over the tomatoes, put a few drops of olive oil on the tomatoes and stir.  Spoon the tomatoes over the toasted bread.  Eat and enjoy!  (Adjust the amount of tomatoes and basil for the number of bread slices you will be covering.)  

I could have eaten nothing but these bruschetta for my dinner.  Oh my goodness, they were so good.  Tomato and basil are such a fantastic combination.  Add it to garlic and good olive oil, paired with a crusty piece of bread and there is nothing better!  I can't wait to have more of this heavenly delight throughout tomato season - and believe me we will be having more.  The basil is growing beautifully in my herb garden and the tomatoes are truly making up for last summer.  You can make your salsa, and pico de gallo, but don't forget to make bruschetta - it's summertime tomato goodness at it's finest.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

We Americans tend to pronounce bruschetta with an "sch" sound in the middle instead of a "k" sound as the Italians do.  Impress everyone the next time you make bruschetta and pronounce it the Italian way.    Brus"k"etta.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Layered Salad with Ham, Pasta, Broccoli and Home Made Buttermilk Dressing - No cooking required

Summertiiiiiiiime, and the livin' is easy.  (Sing with me now),  Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high........ .  Who doesn't love this song by George Gershwin?  It certainly idealizes summer and is a truly beautiful song, BUT this summer has been more like.....  Hot town, summer in the city, back of my neck getting dirty and gritty, All around people looking half dead, walking on a sidewalk hotter than a match head.  Yeahhhhhhhhhhh.  Thank you Lovin' Spoonful, Summer in the City is one of my all time favorite songs.  I know I left out a few lines, but you get the picture.

This summer as been hot, hotter and then hottest.  We were in triple digits for several weeks and that was before July 4th.  Besides being hotter than a match head, it was dryer than dry.  No rain.  Grass looked like late August, crops are drying up and our garden was really suffering.  Even though we watered it every day, it's just not the same as a good soaking rain.  Happily, I can report that we had almost 6 inches of rain last week and the grass and garden are looking so much better.  We are supposed to have more rain this week which will certainly make it all better.  Corn and soybeans on the other hand, may not be salvaged.  I feel so bad for all the farmers.  

Since it has been so hot, who wants to cook?  We even had a grilling ban so it was the kitchen or nothing.  Fortunately, I found this wonderful recipe for a layered salad in my Food Network magazine that my two dear friends, Don and Rick, gave me for Christmas.  What a wonderful gift this has been.  
Unfortunately, I am not a food stylist and my picture doesn't look nearly as good as the one in the magazine, but the recipe is fantastic and it requires absolutely NO cooking.  It is a complete meal in one bowl and it's cool, crispy, crunchy, and delicious.  It even has protein in it.   What more could you ask for on these hot summer days?

Here is what you need.

8 ounces farfalle (bow tie pasta, about 4 cups,  I used gluten free fusilli so our son in love could eat it)
2 stalks broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives, plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (I used basil and thyme from my herb garden instead of parsley)
juice of 1 lime
freshly ground pepper
2 avocados, diced
1 12 ounce piece of deli ham, diced (about 2 cups)
8 ounces yellow cheddar cheese, shredded
1 small head romaine lettuce, sliced
2 tomatoes, diced  ( I used cherry tomatoes from our garden because big tomatoes were not ripe yet)
I also added some sliced radishes from our garden.

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to directions until al dente (about 2 minutes less than the label directs).  Add broccoli during the last 2 minutes of cooking.  (The recipe says last 4 minutes, but I thought it made the broccoli too squishy, I like it crunchy).  Drain the pasta and broccoli and rinse under cool water; shake off the excess.  Remove the broccoli and pat dry.

2.  Whisk the mayonnaise, buttermilk, 1/4 cup chives, herbs, half of the lime juice, 1/4 tsp salt, and pepper to taste.  Toss the pasta in a few tablespoons of the dressing in a medium bowl.

3.  Assemble the salad;  Toss the avocados with the remaining lime juice in a large glass serving bowl and season with salt.  Arrange in an even layer.  Top with layers of the ham, broccoli, pasta, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes.  Drizzle some of the remaining dressing on top and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of chives or cover and refrigerate the salad and dressing separately up to 6 hours.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

This salad is so good and the dressing is divine.  Spoon more dressing over the salad when you are ready to eat.  

Here are a couple of changes I would make.  I would add bacon to this salad.  I would put a layer of crisp fried bacon that had been crumbled on top of the lettuce.  Yum.  I know that requires cooking, but it would be worth it.  Also, I would make the bottom layer the ham and put the avocado higher in the salad so it didn't stick together in the bottom of the bowl.  Just a suggestion.  Other than that, you have one delicious salad with no cooking required which is more than perfect for hot summer days.  I know there are other layered salad recipes around and I have made a few, but this one is so good with the broccoli and pasta and the delicious buttermilk dressing.  My daughter just kept saying, I have to make this, it's so good.  

Thank you Food Network magazine for a wonderful summertime recipe.  They list total prep time as 30 minutes and it serves 8 if it's a main course, or many more if you use it as a side to another entree.  Be sure and reach all the way to the bottom when serving so you get all the goodness in the salad.  You don't want to miss any of it.  I have also made this dressing for other salads, it's that good.  

Next time it's too hot, too hot, too hot baby, give this salad a try - especially if you have absolutely NO desire to turn on the stove but want something really, really good to eat.  Try it, you'll like it and if you don't eat it all, you have left overs!  Yes!!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

“Summertime is always the best of what might be.”
― Charles Bowden

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

2,643 miles - Gettysburg Battlefield

Dan taught American history for 38 years and the Battle of Gettysburg was always one of his main interests.  He liked teaching the Civil War in general, but really studied Gettysburg because it is considered to be the battle that changed the course of the war.  When we were planning our trip to the northeast, I asked if he would like to visit Gettysburg since we would be passing by there.  He didn't  have to think twice about answering yes.

When our daughter and son in love found out we were going to visit there, Todd recommended an open air bus tour that he had taken some years ago.  He said it was so enjoyable and you got to see everything while listening to descriptions of each location.  As it turned out, that is what they gave Dan for Father's Day this year and it was such a wonderful gift.  

We arrived at Gettysburg about noon eastern time and had just a bit of time before the tour began in an hour, so we walked around the town and grabbed a bite to eat before the tour began.  It was a beautiful sunny day with good breezes and a temperature of about 75.  Perfect tour weather.  We boarded the bus at 1, climbed to the top, put on our headphones and started down the streets of the small town headed to the battlefield sites.
Many original buildings still stand in the town itself, some with bullet holes and mortars still there from the war.  Heading out of town, the audio pointed out Seminary Ridge where General John Buford, Union Army, directed battles from the cupola of the Lutheran Theological Seminary.  Hearing Dan gasp when he saw the cupola affected me in a very emotional way.  I took off my head phones and he said "I taught this for 38 years and now I am actually seeing where it took place."  It took us a while, but we finally got there.
As we reached the edge of town, spread before us were vast, beautiful fields that the Civil War Trust and the National Park Services are continuously working to restore as accurately as possible to the days of the battle of Gettysburg which took place on July 1, 2, and 3, 1863.  Next year is the 150th anniversary of the battles.

Gettysburg was a town of approximately 2400 people at the time of the Civil War battles beginning July 1.  By July 2, the town had swelled to approximate 200,000 thousand people including soldiers, doctors, nurses, reporters and photographers.  My mind could not quite comprehend such a thing.
The first day of battle occurred at McPherson's Ridge, Oak Hill, Oak Ridge, Seminary Ridge and Barlow's Knoll.  July 1, 1863,  was the 12th bloodiest battle of the Civil War.
The picture above is the beginning of Culp's Hill which was part of the second day of battle.
A monument to the soldier's from Indiana at Culp's Hill (my home state).  There are 1400 monuments, markers and tablets at Gettysburg.  It broke my heart to see them all standing as reminders of such a sad and sorrowful time in our nation.

Fighting on July 2 also occurred at Little Round Top and the valley below referred to as The Devil's Den.
This field is full of huge, enormous boulders that were created by volcanic activity eons ago.  We got to get off the bus and climb to the top of Little Round Top.  Standing there, looking into the valley below made me know and understand the horror of those 3 days.  You can feel the presence of what took place on those three awful days.  It is truly a solemn place to be.

Imagining soldiers, some as young as 12, climbing that hill knowing they would never survive was absolutely heartbreaking.  The battle raged that day at The Wheat Field, The Peach Orchard, Cemetery Ridge, Trostle's Farm, Culp's Hill, Cemetery Hill, Little Round Top and the Devil's Den.  It was the 10th bloodiest day of the Civil War.  The audio said after the day's battle ended, survivors came into the fields by lantern light looking for any survivors or anyone they knew.  I could not keep back tears.

On July 3, fighting resumed on Culp's Hill, and cavalry battles raged to the east and south, but the main event was a dramatic infantry assault by 12,000 Confederates against the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge--Pickett's Charge. The charge was repulsed by Union rifle and artillery fire, at great losses to the Confederate army. Lee led his army on a torturous retreat back to Virginia. As many as 51,000 soldiers from both armies were killed, wounded, captured or missing in the three-day battle. Four months after the battle, President Lincoln used the dedication ceremony for Gettysburg's Soldiers National Cemetery to honor the fallen Union soldiers and redefine the purpose of the war in his historic Gettysburg Address.

According to information from the Civil War Trust, General Lee lost 23 battle flags at Pickett's Charge, more than in the previous 14 months combined.  Statistics from the Civil War Trust say 93,921 Union soldiers and 71,669 Confederate soldiers fought at the battle of Gettysburg with 51,112 total estimated casualties.  There were 120 generals present, with 9 killed or mortally wounded.  This was the most officers lost in one battle.

The Battle of Gettysburg is by far the costliest battle of the Civil War, but not necessarily the largest.  There were 185,000 troops at Fredericksburg.  There were 63 Medals of Honor awarded to Union soldiers for actions at Gettysburg.  

I am neither a student nor proponent of war.  Today, these beautiful fields look nothing like they did on July 1, 2 and 3 of 1863, littered with wounded and dying men in the 90 degree heat - thankfully.  I am glad I took this tour as a reminder that freedom is bought at a great price and it is important to remember that always.  Would I recommend taking a trip to Gettysburg?  Yes.  We spent two hours on what Abraham Lincoln called hallowed ground.  I cannot say that I have ever felt such sorrow in the depths of my being other than from the loss of loved ones that I know.  Spending the time with Dan as he got to see places he had taught about for so many years was priceless.  May we never have to suffer such losses again.   Time to head home.  

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.  Abraham Lincoln, November, 1963

Monday, July 9, 2012

2,643 Miles - The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

We left York Beach, Maine, early on Monday morning sad to leave the beach and Alma and Jack, but we were looking forward to an adventure that included the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.  Dan has been a baseball fan all his life and even had a baseball club at the school where he taught for 38 years.  The man LOVES baseball.  When we started planning our trip to the northeast, I asked him if he would like to go to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  He looked at me with incredulity and asked if I was kidding.  I told him no, I wasn't kidding because I thought he would like to see it.  His answer was a resounding YES!

Then, I asked him about Gettysburg.  I think he thought I had flipped my lid.  He taught American history for 38 years and had always been a bit of a Civil War buff.  You know, if you ask a question you get a history lesson kind of buff, but that's okay.  I always learned something new and interesting.  As for Gettysburg, he was all for it.  So that was our destination after the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Now let me make this point perfectly clear - The Hall of Fame and Gettysburg are both in the middle of NOWHERE and are a good day's drive from each other.  Holy cow, the drive was interminable from Maine to Cooperstown.  Thankfully, the countryside was beautiful in Massachusetts and New York.  The Berskshire's are gorgeous for the first few hours.  The heavily forested mountains and lush, verdant farm valley's are stunning.  But it's one L O N G drive a lot of which is on two lane roads with speed limits that are 55 and under.

Just outside of Albany, New York, we were engulfed in a summer thunderstorm - the kind where it rains so hard you can't see the road and have to pull over.  It even hailed on us.  If you look closely in the picture, you can see the hail on the side of the road and in the windshield wiper trough.  Yikes.  I was sure glad when that was over.
Once it stopped, we hit the trail again.  Driving and driving and driving some more.  There are only small towns here and there before you get to Cooperstown and lots and lots of driving.  Did I say we drove a lot?  We did.  I can't imagine baseball players having to drive/ride all that way to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  I mean I know it's worth it, but good grief.  But, we now have something in common with them.  We have made the endless journey.

As we headed into Cooperstown, we drove alongside beautiful Lake Oswego which is a long lake to the north of the town.  The temperature had dropped to  63 degrees after the storm and I had to put on a light sweater as the wind was blowing, but people were water skiing on the lake.  It probably seemed warm to them since they have rather harsh winters there.  We were't really sure exactly where the Hall of Fame was in the town but it's small, so we drove through a few streets and Ta Dah!  There it was, right in front of us.  There were people everywhere.  We actually got the first parking place in front of the building.  Guess this visit was meant to be.
As we got out of the car, we both stood for a moment and looked at the sign above the doors.  I am sorry the picture did not turn out better, but it is a bit awe inspiring to see the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum right before your eyes.  We were actually here.  Dan was almost speechless.

We passed through the hallowed doors and paid our entrance fee and started our tour.  There are three floors, theaters, the Hall of Fame where all the plaques for the inductees are, and rooms and rooms where uniforms, paraphernalia, equipment and pictures are housed.  It is a bit overwhelming actually there is so much to see and there were people everywhere.  Kids used their phones, videotaping every room walking fast with their phone held out in front of them.   My thought was you are here and you are not even looking at anything.  Oh well, guess that shows my age.  It was difficult to get good pictures because of all the people, but look we did!

First, we looked at the plaques of all the members of the Hall of Fame.  We found Dan's all time favorite player and childhood idol, Mickey Mantle.  I took a picture of him standing with "The Mick's" plaque for a keepsake.  Here is his plaque.
And of course, The Babe.  George Herman Ruth.  The King of Crash, The Sultan of Swat.
I loved this statue of "Satchel" Paige in the courtyard.  I took this through the window.  He was quite a pioneer in major league baseball.
Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige (July 7, 1906 – June 8, 1982) was an American baseball player whose pitching in the Negro leagues and in Major League Baseball made him a legend in his own lifetime. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971, the first player to be inducted from the Negro leagues.  Wikipedia

There was so much to see and take in, we could have been there for days.  This is Babe Ruth's uniform, hat and shoes in an actual locker from Yankee stadium.  
Actually, The Babe has an entire room dedicated to him and his baseball career.  It is quite impressive.

I loved this sign that hung over the area dedicated to baseball writers and broadcasters.  
There was even a display of all the things they used for sound effects on the radio to make you think you were right there in the midst of the game.  Awesome.  

There is a room dedicated to the women's league in baseball and at the entrance to the room is this  poster from A League of Their Own which was filmed in my hometown of Evansville, Indiana, at Bosse Field where I have attended many minor league baseball games throughout my life.  Sure made us proud.  

Check this out - the bat Willie Mays used to get his 3,000th hit.  He had a career total of 3,281 hits and 660 home runs.  Now that is quite an accomplishment.

Dan has also been a lifelong New York Yankees fan, so I snapped this picture of the display of their equipment.  If you can see the huge shoes on the bottom right, they belonged to Derek Jeter.  Yeah.  All of these things belonged to real Yankees players and there is a display for every major league team.  

There was just so much to take it, there is no way to describe it all or photograph it all.  Dan said it really didn't hit him until later that he was actually looking at Joe DiMaggio's uniform, or Johnny's Bench's uniform.  He was a happy happy man.  It may have been a long car trip, but worth every minute just to see the joy he experienced.  

If you are a baseball fan, it is worth the trip and I hope you get there some day.  Tomorrow we head to Gettysburg which was one of the most emotional things I have ever experienced.  

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Baseball was, is and always will be to me the best game in the world.
Babe Ruth

Friday, July 6, 2012

2,643 Miles - Destinations Ogunquit and Kennebunkport, Maine, Portsmouth, New Hamspshire

Do I ever tire of the ocean?  Never!  You may get tired of looking at pictures of it, but the ocean inspires me.  Buildings are okay and I am not really much of a sightseer, I would rather sit and contemplate the ocean, the waves, it's moods and sounds.  That makes me very happy my friends.  Since, we had not been to the northeast except one other time (and I didn't get to see much of it), I didn't mind visiting a few of the local villages near York Beach, Maine.  Our hosts were ever so kind in touring us around and showing the all the beautiful sights.

This is a picture of Dan and me at the top of the Marginal Way in Ogunquit.  Ogunquit, which means "coastal lagoon" in the indigenous Abenaki language (Wikipedia) is a beautiful tourist town and artist's colony.  Lovely inns, galleries, and restaurants.  But for me, the real attraction was the Marginal Way which is now a paved 1.5 mile path that follows the coastline and can be walked.  Guess where we spent our time?  You guessed it.  

The day was gloriously beautiful, temperature amazing, water and skies azure, and we walked and talked.  Oh, the glories of our country!  
This is a view across a bay at Ogunquit which was founded in the 1600's and was a shipbuilding and fishing town.  
Another view from the Marginal Way.  Looking at the rocky coastline made me think of every novel I have ever read about New England.  I could have spent the entire day in this spot.  
Heading back down the Marginal Way.  You really should consider going there just to walk this amazing historical path.  

We had a delicious lunch at a lovely little place by the ocean where we sat on the porch and enjoyed the view, then headed back to York Beach to spend the afternoon on the porch watching the ocean.  Yes, it never gets old.  Ever.

On day three, we went to Kennebunkport, Maine.  Does that sound familiar to you?  Perhaps it's because the Bush family has a summer residence there that is extraordinarily beautiful.
The compound sits at the tip of a peninsula that juts into the ocean.  The picture does not show the house well, but I can say I would gladly spend my summers there!  

We spent more time in Kennebunkport wandering around the quaint little town.  
Kennebunkport was founded in the early 1600's and was a shipbuilding center where they built 5 masted ships and a special dory that was in demand.  There are large homes that once belonged to ship's captains in the town and they are New England beautiful as only New England homes can be.

Streets are very narrow in the northeast because the towns are so old.  It's hard to get good pictures because everything is so close together.  The town is full of tourist shops and restaurants and Alma said after July 1 it is shoulder to shoulder tourists.  How glad am I we were there when we were?  You have no idea.  

We enjoyed a lunch of New England Clam chowder to die for, walked a little more and headed back to York Beach to sit on the porch and look at the ocean some more.  Never. Gets. Old.

On Sunday afternoon, we headed to Portsmouth, New Hampshire which is just over the Maine state line.  It is a beautiful city which was also a shipbuilding and fishing town established in the 1600s.  Hard to get your head around cities that old when our country just celebrated it's 236th birthday.  This may be the town where I lived in a past life.  It is so beautiful with it's historical buildings and bricked sidewalks.  These buildings speak to me in a way that modern facades do not.
An historic church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  Lovely.
Walking the streets of Portsmouth, admiring the architecture.
The interior of Flatbreads where was had some of the best pizza ever.  It was an old industrial building with high ceilings, wooden walls and floors.  That is their huge wood fired oven where they cooked their pizzas.  By the way, it's worth the drive just to have one of their pizzas.  Yes, worth it.  We walked around some more and returned to York Beach to sit on the porch and watch the ocean, drink coffee, talk some more, and watch the ocean.  Tomorrow, we leave (sob) for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  

It was such a wonderful visit and we cannot thank Alma and Jack enough for allowing us to stay at their home and look at the ocean for several wonderful days that we will never forget.  Maybe it's not New England where I lived in a past life, maybe I was a mermaid.  That could be it.  I will return to the ocean again as soon as possible.  Bye bye for now.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

love builds up the broken wall
and straightens the crooked path.
love keeps the stars in the firmament
and imposes rhythm on the ocean tides
each of us is created of it
and i suspect
each of us was created for it”
--Maya Angelou