Monthly Archives: August 2012

Eatng Out

We eat out for two reasons–to socialize and to eat things we cannot make at home.

Last Friday we had a romantic evening out just the two of us (socializing with each other in a differnt setting, counts too–not just with other folks) and ate a wonderful meal at The Brentwood, Eric Masson’s French restaurant in LIttle River, SC, just up from Myrtle Beach.

We both had Eric’s special triggerfirsh in a buerre blanc suace .

Joe had the special appetizer–sachetti with truffles and I held off on an appetizer and had panna cotta instead for dessert. (Is Eric channeling an Italian muse?)

Panna cotta, literally cooked cream, is diffcult to make well. It has to be rich, but not too rich, and the right amount of gelatin to make it set but not have it taste like jello or commercial pudding. Eric hit all the notes correctly–flavor and texture were the best I have since Italy. His peach and mago aspiked sauce gave it a Souoth Carolina and torpical flair that put it over the top–

wonderful and worthy of my first Seal of Approval award. I don’t have a photo fo the panna cotta. I ate it all beforeImage thinking to photograph it!

So, you will have to be satisfied with the Seal

If you go to Myrtle Beach, save some time for a dinner at the Brentwood.

 

Monday Arts in Education

School is about to start. Has your local school cut back on arts education? Focus on math? Then the child should study music. Focus on writing and reading? Theater, dance and the visual arts will aid immensely.

The arts enrich the child’s ability to learn, not just the scope of learning. Don’t neglect it. To the limit of your financial ability, let your child try out music, dance and theater, creative writing and a variety of visual arts along with sports and fun family activities ‘ If your finances are limited look for ways to swap lessons, find public programs that will at least let your child experience the arts, take him or her to museums, plays, and dance. Enjoy the arts as a family.

Monday Arts in Education

School is about to start. Has your local school cut back on arts education? Focus on math? Then the child should study music. Focus on writing and reading? Theater, dance and the visual arts will aid immensely.

The arts enrich the child’s ability to learn, not just the scope of learning. Don’t neglect it. To the limit of your financial ability, let your child try out music, dance and theater, creative writing and a variety of visual arts along with sports and fun family activities ‘ If your finances are limited look for ways to swap lessons, find public programs that will at least let your child experience the arts, take him or her to museums, plays, and dance. Enjoy the arts as a family.

Contests

Why do I enter them? It is not for the thrill of the win, tho I do love that. Entering a contest is like taking a course in writing. It is necessary to produce a piece of work to someone’s specifications and turn it in for a grade. The reading fees are way cheaper than a course but just as significant for me. In other words, I am paying to do this, so it makes me (mentally) take my work up a notch. I don’t worry about other participants. Simply try to do my own best work.

Word count, personality of the magazine and/or the judge. Take a look at the winning work from the past. Ramp up your own efforts. Take a look at your past portfolio. Is there something that can be re-purposed? Taking a work apart and re-forming it is a wonderful exercise. Finding contests is as simple as putting the words “writing contest” into google or subscribing to a variety of blogs and sites that feature contests. Poets and Writers Magazine lists contest.

I like to enter in fields where I am trying out my skills for publication.

Contests put our work before readers, albeit judges, but in a way all readers are judges so contests are a good trial run for publication.

I was fortunate enough to recently place third in a children’s writing category for the Alabama Writers Conclave. The encouragement of placing has urged me to keep writing in that genre and to polish my work to a higher gloss (standard). Every day new contests appear. Take some time to search the net–warning, looking for the right contest is as time consuming as looking for markets. Don’t let it distract you from writing, make it an adjunct and an inspiration to your writing.

Thursday Book Reviews

Well, I just finished reading the blockbuster Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and the new Tana French mystery, Broken Harbor. Both are extremely well written. But I did not like either book. And I can safely say, it’s me not them (the authors).

Simply put, Flynn’s book sets out the premise (in the opening quote) that love is mutable, and it usually goes from good to bad. My view is opposite. I feel that real love, not simply the feelings of the human heart which are deceitful, real love is NOT changeable. Real love comes from our  unchanging God and so, is something you can rely on. Her characters were not people I enjoyed spending time with. I don’t know what her personal philosophy is, but I did not enjoy these characters, well done tho they were, not simply because I disagreed, but because of how this world view caused them to behave–selfish, nasty, and more (worse).

And then I turned to French–one of the most talented crime writers, putting out books today. Her amazing description of how the detective prepares to meet the folks at the crime scene–how every detail sets the stage for success in the investigation–amazing. her other two books wer dark but bearable for me. But this one was sooooooooo dark. And at the end, the darkness did not triumph, but neither did it lift. Again, superb prose but depressing. Sigh.  On to the next book. A Simple Murder is my next read. Will let you know how that goes. It takes place in the time of the Shaker peak. Good so far (only a few pages into it.).

 

 

Recipes and Memories

Taste and Memory are close companions. I often find that a taste of the past is a literal thing and when I achieve it, the time is truly sweet–even if the recipe is a savory!

One of our family favorites is pasta with white spinach sauce–that I developed from tasting it in Agrigento Siciliy.

The memory is a sweet one ! We were there in 1980. I was pregnant with Jennie==about six months along and we arrived only to find that our reservation had not been made; We waited in the hotel lobby==Joseph and his pregnant wife (me) with no room at the inn. After 8 the hotel manager turned over the last room in the area to us and after depositing our luggage there we rushed down to the hotel dining room for dinner; The pasta of the night was farfalle with spinach sauce–white sauce with spinach and a touch of nutmeg.

I use a basic white sauce recipe. add cooked spinach and grated romano cheese until it is the correct consistency for us, pour it over the  half pound or whole pound of farfalle and enjoy!

Here is the basic white sauce recipe:

Prep Time: 10 minutesCook Time: 15 minutesTotal Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • dash salt
  • dash white pepper

Preparation:In heavy saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Stir in flour with a wire whisk. Cook over low heat for three minutes, stirring constantly (This mixture is called a roux). Do not allow the mixture to brown. Gradually stir in milk, whisking constantly. Cook over low heat for 3-5 more minutes until sauce begins to thicken. Season to taste. Makes 1 cup.

I use this amount for 1/2  pound

I use one percent milk and about 1/2 cup grated romano and 1 pckg (10) frozen spinach drained and cooked–add those right after the milk. Don’t forget the fresh grated nutmeg!

Link

http://books.blogs.starnewsonline.com/16280/giulia-goes-to-war/

http://books.blogs.starnewsonline.com/16280/giulia-goes-to-war/

Ben gave me a long write up in Sunday’s Star News  and I just found tha the also reviewed me on his book blog on July 24–Here’s the link:

http://books.blogs.starnewsonline.com/16280/giulia-goes-to-war/

Thank you, Ben Steelman!

Ben gave me a long write up in Sunday’s Star News  and I just found tha the also reviewed me on his book blog on July 24–Here’s the link:

http://books.blogs.starnewsonline.com/16280/giulia-goes-to-war/

Book Review The Chaperon

The Chaperon

By Laura Moriarty

26.95 Riverhead books

Review by Joan Leotta

 

Beach Read.  I love historical fiction and very much enjoy stories of imaginary folks who interact with high profile historical figures. Heck, I write them myself. Moriarty’s novel was good but not great. The story centers on the month that Louise Brooks spent in New York (age 15) at dance school in the 1920s. Her chaperon is the title character, a woman with her own reasons for wanting to break out of Wichita, and find something (her own roots) in the big city.

Great research on Brooks.

 

 I found the device of zooming to the near future (late 50s, early 60s) every now and then, annoying to the flow of the story. Who told her to intersperse them instead of putting them in an afterward? Not good advice –made it hard to follow, disturbed the flow.

 

Raises issues of life for women in those days, suppressed sexual secrets in families, closed or open adoptions, how family stories are valued after the fact, what people remember, and how the young behave toward their elders (then and now).  Characters were well drawn but I was a bit let down after the tale left New York. It seemed as though the author was on autopilot after the New York month. Smooth read but slight.

A week at the beach

What did you do this summer? For our family, we tried to take a week at the beach. We had little rituals–one night out for pizza, another for fried chicken, time to make sandcastles, time alone for Mom to hunt shells (no one else wanted to go) and time for dad to golf. Just walking along the ocean as a family was one of our favorite things to do. The ocean provides a great place to rest. We took photos and at the ocean we discovered sea turtle culture–nesting, watching the nests and we even got to see a hatching one year.

These experiences together , away from the press of the everyday–these strengthen a child’s bond to family and his or her creativity. Although I mandated drawings and writings (I brought craft things for rainy days) on at least one day of the vacation, simply putting a box of beach reminders away for winter is a great way to stimulate thought later.

And creativity. In mid-winter, away from the actual call of the wind and waves, I would bring out my box of “stuff”, and they could make Christmas ornaments, cards and jewelry for gifts for grandparents and friends. Or just art for our own refrigerator. A week at teh beach–a lifetime in the heart.