Saturday, June 27, 2009

Grilled Antipasto!

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As I was rummaging through the refrigerator this evening looking for dinner inspiration, I found lots of veggies. Antipasto! I thought. Recently our friends had introduced us to luscious, grilled veggies as an antipasto. Antipasto, in Italian, literally means "before the meal" and is meant as a first course. You traditionally include cured meats and such things as anchovies and artichoke hearts. We enjoyed it, with my funky embellishments, for our main meal! My husband kindly grilled up red and yellow peppers, summer squash, onions, eggplant, and zucchini. I had marinated these wonderful morsels in olive I had simmered with garlic and herbs...oh my is all I can say. I added some cold, grilled sliced pork, and a mozzarella/tomato salad sprinkled with a chiffonade of our own basil. To top it off, I drizzled olive oil, lemon juice and some balsamic over everything on the platter. Wow..this was a really great summer meal, enjoyed on our deck (we just ate off the giant serving platter) as we watched the fog roll in (at least it wasn't raining!).

Miss O

Olivia Mae Bryan Markley has a very good life. Rolling in the mud one day; hanging out on the deck enjoying the water view on another.....yep, that's our puppy :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

First Boat Ride of the Season

We love riding around the river in grandpa's boat!

I know, I look like a mini Michelin tire guy....hey, I can't even crawl in this thing...I just fall over so grandma has to hold me up. Do I look comfortable to you? Despite that, I LOVED my first boat ride!

I know you all want me safe. I most definitely will float in this marshmallow suit. I'm just going to enjoy the view.....

I love boating! Good thing I have my blankie in my lap :)

Just me and my grandpa, floating down the river ;)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Soul to Soul?

I had a very insightful and interesting meeting with my yoga mentor, Julie, yesterday. My mom died nearly 2 years ago. I still "feel" her in my life in so many ways. My mom and I had a troubled relationship. I loved her and I know she loved me but there was a lot of pain between us. When I talked with Julie yesterday she offered that from the yoga perspective, maybe my mom and I agreed (on some spiritual level) to come together into this world. Perhaps my mom graciously agreed to be my difficult mother so that I could work out whatever it is that I need to work out in this lifetime. This may all sound crazy but somehow it was.....liberating. An I agree with Julie's comment that, "It makes the idea of being a 'victim' meaningless".

And so I think, maybe there
is some sort of grand plan. My skeptical, scientific Western mind rails but on another level....ya never know :) In any event...I wish my mother love and peace.

Monday, June 22, 2009

My Amazing Brother

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So, I know my brother is amazing in multiple ways. But today, as I read his blog I thought, he really has a gift here. I couldn't stop reading. I know I write too much when I'm blogging sometimes. I mean, who really, cares about the minutia in my life but me? My brother tends to write longer blogs, too but, hey, he's a writer. He tells me that sometimes he hears complaints about his blog length. But today I could not stop myself from reading his blog and wished it went on and on! He's funny, insightful, such a clever writer and it's so much fun to read because it's all about delicious food and about his interesting life in happens all around food.....I so see his blog becoming a book some day. I'm so proud of him! Please check it out by clicking on the link above our picture!

In a Pensive Mood

I love this picture I took of one of my granddaughters. She can be shy. Her mom tells me she was shy as a child. Everybody can be quite at one time or another. Our culture isn't always very kind to shy people. In our country, extroverted, talkative types are generally valued. The quiet ones have a lot to say. There is room for all :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Labor-of-Love Pineapple Cake

Or, as my husband and I have come to call it, Pineapple Pain-in-the-Behind Cake. I am neither a cook nor a baker. When I do land between the stove and the sink, I try to make healthy meals and treats (not that I always want to but it keeps the fat at bay). Last Easter I was motivated to make a pineapple upside-down cake for our family Easter brunch. I'm not sure why (well, it does remind me and everybody else of their mother, right?) but I'm happy I did. This Father's Day it was a "requested" cake. How could I not make it? It's become a family tradition :) Honestly, the recipe I found (below) is nothing short of really, really DELICIOUS. It's exceptionally moist and lightly sweet with layers of interesting flavors. And with a dollop of fresh whipped cream draped over top....oh my! It is absolutely the kind of cake my brother would happily make (where you need Tahitian vanilla and it takes 32 steps to create the final product) and nowhere near the kind of cake I would usually make. I think my cooking style lies somewhere between my mother's and my brother's styles. Way back when, I'm pretty sure my mother would have bought a boxed, yellow cake mix, combined that with an egg or two, 1/2 cup of oil and then poured the resulting batter on top of canned pineapple rounds mixed with brown sugar, lining the bottom of her round cake pan. Done. Pineapple upside-down cake.

Not me. I thought I'd whip up a homemade pineapple upside-down-cake, made, in every way, from scratch. Yep, that's what I thought I'd do. After a quick search on the internet (my favorite recipe source these days), I found the perfect cake recipe. It sounded easy and yummy. So, I bought all the ingredients I needed and proceeded to make pineapple upside-down cake. Oi Vey is all I can tell you, Oi Vey! One thing I learned, once again, is that you need to read all the directions (and check out all the steps!) fully before you print off the recipe, buy the ingredients and settle in to make the cake tonight for tomorrow! To be fair to me, the recipe does indicate it takes 35 minutes to make. Who knew it would take 2 hours! And each time I make it, it still takes 2 hours! This cake requires skinning, coring, and slicing a ripe pineapple; carmelizing the freshly cut pineapple rounds in brown sugar and salted butter (this alone takes about 20 minutes of constant stirring). Once the chunks (bubbling away in the syrup my "rounds" turned to chunks) are carmelized you take them, one-by-one, out of the skillet and set them aside. Next, you make a sauce out of the remaining liquid, adding heavy cream and rum (and you again stir constantly over the stove for about 10 minutes). But, breathe in while stirring! It is such a wonderful smell! Part 1 done.

Part 2 requires that you begin by creaming unsalted butter with sugar in a separate bowl. Of course my butter was hard as a rock so I gently softened it in the microwave (hoping it wouldn't melt!). After cracking and separating 3 eggs you add them to your creamed mixture one at a time...beating, of course after each addition. OK...this is already way to much stirring and cracking for me. On we you sift all the dry ingredients (I just put them in a bowl and whisk away) and get the buttermilk ready (yep, I forgot buttermilk so I had to stop and quickly make it by adding white vinegar to milk). Now you add fresh (yah, right) pineapple juice to the milk. "I could have just used the 'fresh' pineapple juice as my milk's sour agent" I think to myself after the milk starts to curdle. Rather than dumping all the wet and dry ingredients together you now have to alternate and mix like crazy (another 10 minutes). Nope, not done yet. Now you beat your egg whites madly in a separate bowl and fold them into the batter you just made. It does make a difference, I have to admit. That creamy batter loosens right up so I can see how important those egg whites are.

Finally, you pour your labor-of-love/pain-in-the-behind batter onto your candied pineapple chunks that have been nicely arranged in a round cake pan (that, of course, looks way too small now so I usually have to make a aluminum foil collar around it - yes, that takes another 10 minutes). Did I say, "Oi Vey?" The recipe says, "35 minutes prep time" - I spent 2 hours! But it is worth it.....every now and again :) A requested family favorite, how can I not say, "Yes, of course I'll make it for Father's Day!" It's a labor of love for family events only :) I just know my brother will try out the recipe :)

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Recipe Courtesy of Curtis Aikens (and the FoodNework!)

Prep Time:
35 min
Inactive Prep Time:
0 min
Cook Time:
1 hr 0 min
10 servings


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large pineapple, cored, sliced into 1/3-inch rings (about 10)
  • 1/4 cup dark rum (I subsituted spiced rum because that's what we had - great!)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

For the cake:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Tahitian vanilla extract (I don't think so...just use real vanilla from any country :)
  • 1/4 cup fresh pineapple juice (right...I opened a can of pineapple chunks and used the juice from the can)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (I think you can just use milk with the pineapple juice added)


Combine butter and brown sugar in a 12-inch cast iron skillet and heat until bubbly. Add pineapple and caramelize to a deep golden brown, turning once. Remove (pineapple) from skillet and set aside. Pour rum and cream into a skillet and cook over low heat 5 minutes, until thickened, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat (to cool).

Butter a 10-inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper. Arrange pineapple rings to cover bottom of pan. Pour cooled sauce over pineapple and set pan aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Set aside

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla. Combine pineapple juice and buttermilk (or just use milk). Alternately add sifted dry ingredients and juice/buttermilk mixture to creamed mixture (begin and end with dry ingredients.) Whip egg whites to soft peaks and fold into batter. Bake at 350 degrees about 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Invert onto a serving platter.

Serve with a softly whipped, lightly sweetened whipped cream :) Heavenly!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

My Beautiful Granddaughter!

Today we celebrated my granddaughter's dad's (that would be my step-son's) college graduation! In 3 weeks Little Miss here and I will celebrate our common birthdays. On July 14th she will be 1 and I will be 55. How cute are we here, styling in our matching jeans jackets?
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Graduation....Enjoy the Ride!

So, we are having a graduation party for my step-son today. While, my husband and I are helping out with the party, my daughter-in-law has done most of the planning and is hosting (so great of her to do!) but we are helping out :) He just graduated from college a couple of weeks ago and you can see the graduation balloons - released and drifting towards the auditorium floor, above. Yesterday I was in the halls of our local high school. Graduation was last night. As I walked the halls looking at all the excited, nervous, oh-s0-young, high school kids I was thinking about what a huge transition graduations are. One minute you are a student, studying hard, trying to conform to all the rules, looking forward to the day you graduate and do. In an evening, your life is so different. Reminds me of the first time I was driving my family car alone, way back when at the ridiculous age of 16 (this age is ridiculous as I near 55). I nearly had a full blown anxiety attack as I sat behind the wheel, alone for the first time, my head spinning trying to remember everything I was supposed to pay attention to so I didn't run through a red light, turn at the wrong time, drive beyond the speed limit and get a ticket! Excitement and panic...sitting in the passenger's seat! So much life ahead of graduates. So many decisions to make. So much to pay attention to. Flying solo now...... Congratulations to everybody. Remember to pause and enjoy your life along the way.....before you know it, you are 55, reflecting back on when you were 16!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Update on Rush to Judgement

So the cleaning lady is in fact trying to get out of working off her debt to us....$600. On some level it seems she believes she doesn't owe us. My husband was kind to her (she used to be a tenant....I guess that was the first mistake) and now she just wishes we would forget the can do on so many levels. We are now requesting payment vs. working off the money and will never ask her to help us get ready for a showing again. Loss on both sides. So, sometimes I think I am rushing to judgement but sometimes I am right! Life......always so interesting :)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Fan of the Red Sox

So, for some strange reason, yesterday at the Red Sox vs. Texas Rangers game I really watched the game. I was interested in who was up to bat and pitch. I have gone to a number of baseball games before in Fenway Park and at other ball parks. At those games I talked, ate, got a sun tan, shivered in the rain. But, never before have I actually watched the game. To my surprise, it was....interesting. I guess somewhere along the way I have become a baseball fan. Go Sox :)