Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gluten Free Goodness

So I found some very interesting gluten free flour. My local grocer carries the small package of Bob's Red Mill flour. It is a nice substitute but kinda pricey. I think I paid around $6.00 for this package and it weighs a little over 1 lb.  The other package pictured is a fine rice flour from my local IndoPak market. It was less than $3.00 for 4 lbs.  Not pictured is another flour from my favorite IndoPak market that is called Besam flour which is butter yellow in color and made from ground chickpeas. I use it mostly in savory dishes. Frying and gravies etc and it has such a good flavor. It was also very affordable.  I think about $2.00 for 4 lbs.

So if you have a local asian market or indo-pak then check it out. They are a treasure trove of exotic flours and rices and rice pastas.

Enjoy and Bon Apetit

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Julia Childs Syndrome

 I have been doing some experimental cooking lately.  I recently watched Julie and Julia, and was therefore inspired to attempt to do some real cooking.  So lately we've had fish, and chicken and some roasted vegetables.  I've used a boatload of butter.  Yes!  That lovely yellow concoction that makes everything taste soo good.  If any of you have seen the movie, you may remember the scene where Julie Powell is extolling the merits of butter and says that if the end were in fact near, then she would spend her last days eating butter. 

So butter has been used in many a dish lately.  I got my youngest to eat her veggies since they were sauteed in liquid gold.  We have  been thoroughly enjoying our gastronomical escapades.  Then, the other evening, I was feeling kinda icky.  Kinda, sick at my stomach, but not really.  My chest was hurting sorta, and there was a slight increase in the eructation.  More commonly known as burping. ( sorry if this is TMI! ) 

Then it occurred to me that in the movie there was a compilation scene where Julie and Eric, and Julia and Paul are all scene reaching for the nearest bottle of antacid.  It was seen in the medicine cabinet, kitchen cabinet, bedsite table, and even coffe table (I think).  That scene was always funny to me, but now, I have a whole new appreciation.  So instead of having the so very common indigestion or heartburn, I chose to think I have Julia Child's Syndrome. 

I have not yet "Mastered the Art of French Cooking", but have found my tolerance for butter in cooking sorely tested.  I will have to reintroduce the olive oil/vegetable oil to the saute pan.  They were old friends once.  The saute pan, is not married to butter and cheating with the oil, it is merely best friends with them both. 

So, in the immortal words of Julia Child, "Bon Apetit!"

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Book Catch-up

I've read a lot of books since I posted my last review.  Maybe, now that school has started I'll be a little more on top of my book review.  Fingers crossed, but I'm not holding my breath. 

So I read all three of this year's installments in Jill Shalvis' Lucky Harbor series.

Lucky in Love is the first. 
Mallory Quinn has had enough of playing it safe. As a nurse and devoted daughter, she takes care of everyone but herself. And as the local good girl, she’s expected to date Mr. Right. But for once, she’d like to take a risk on Mr. Wrong. And who could be more wrong than Ty Garrison? The mysterious new guy in town has made it clear that he’s only passing through, which suits Mallory just fine. Besides, his lean, hard body and sexy smile will give her plenty to remember once he’s gone…
For the first time in his life, Ty can’t bear to leave. Helping this sexy seductress-in-training walk on the wild side is making him desire things he shouldn?t?including leaving the military for good. As their just-for-fun fling becomes something more, Mallory and Ty wonder if they could really be this lucky in love. After all…anything can happen in a town called Lucky Harbor

I liked this one alot, but found certain things a little ,mmmmmm, too long to be worked out.  For instance, I liked the "Good Girl/Bad Girl" arc with Mallory as it pertains to her friends but when the whole community expects her to be perfect etc, it got to be a little overmuch.  I also, didn't like her boss Jane never got her Just Desserts.  Usually Jill Shalvis will have her "mean" characters experience some sort of life change or get knocked down a notch. 
Anyway, as a good romance reader I love a decent tortured/alpha type hero and Ty does not disappoint.  And Snaps for Ms. Shalvis as she doesn't overdo it. 

At Last was second
Amy Michaels loves her new life in Lucky Harbor. A waitress in the local diner, she’s looking forward to her first weekend hike through the mountains. But when a wrong turn takes her off the trail, she finds herself up close and personal with forest ranger Matt Bowers. And even though she’s tempted to kiss that sexy smile right off his face, she won’t make the mistake of getting involved with the town heartthrob.
A former cop whose life went south, Matt doesn’t let anyone get too close. But something about the feisty beauty caught his eye the moment he first saw her in the diner. After a hot night under a starry sky, Matt can’t deny their attraction-or the fact that for the first time in a long time, he feels the stirrings of something more. Now it’s up to Matt to help Amy see that, no matter what is in their past, together they can build a future in Lucky Harbor

I liked Amy's journey alot, however found her stubborness to be a little off-putting.   I mean, really you had to be rescued from your first hike, and yet you keep going out there...  I liked also the Riley story arc.  Matt was cool.  I dug him and the fact that he was into her but didn't lose his head.  He just came by alot, He was also a good guy. I don't know how he functioned though because he never slept.  C'mon let the guy take a nap.  Seems like the entire story, he slept maybe 2 hours a night and still had the energy to "Do It" all night long.  Uh, I doubt that.  But it's not like we read these books in an exercise of reality.  You have to suspend reality a little. Overall, a really great read. 

Forever and a Day was third.
Grace never thought she’d be starting her life over from scratch. Losing everything has landed her in Lucky Harbor, working as a dog walker for overwhelmed ER doctor Josh Scott. But the day his nanny fails to show up, Grace goes from caring for Josh’s lovable mutt to caring for his rambunctious son. Soon Grace is playing house with the sexy single dad…
With so many people depending on him, Josh has no time for anything outside of his clinic and family-until Grace arrives in town. Now this brainy blonde is turning his life inside out and giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “good bedside manner.” Josh and Grace don’t know if what they have can last. But in a town like Lucky Harbor, a lifetime of love starts with just one day…

I liked Grace quit a bit.  She isn't perfect and she loses the dog, and struggles with her own family dynamic.  I wish her resolution with her family had been better explored.  It was just left out there.  She has some sort of epiphany, but no closure.  Hmm!  I like that our awesome Dr. McHottie had to really make some life decisions.  I don't love it when a hero is too perfect.  Toby was good, and Anna was good too.  I hope we get Anna's story.  That would be a great one.  Outside of Catherine Anderson, I don't think I've ever read a romance with a woman in a wheelchair as the heroine.  (I might've, but not that I can remember right now)

If you haven't visited Lucky Harbor, you should stop by.  I am particularly fond of a small town setting where everyone seems to know everyone else.  I love the close knit community feel. 


Team Gluten Free

So as many of you may already know, my older daughter has gone gluten free. She has done so at the urging of our homeopath and has had some great results as it pertains to her overall well being. Snaps for Team Gluten Free!!
So we have had some trouble eating out and keeping it "Clean" (or GF). This summer we did find a couple of local restaurants who have a GF menu available Upon Request. More Snaps!!! They may not be considered "fine dining" but that is fine with us. We are really laid back people anyway. Applebees is right around the corner from our house and they have one. Then on the way to and from church camp there is a Chili's. They do too! So CPK(carpoolking aka Dear Hubby), CPP1(carpoolprincess 1 aka older daughter) and moi all ordered from Chili's "Clean" menu and it was good. Not only was it good, but it was pretty. If you GF right, it can be soo colorful. All those veggies dancing on the plate.  It's like a unicorn and a rainbow collided in Heaven.
So the moral here is ask your favorite eating establishments if they have a GF menu. Pass the word. You may find that even though you might not be forced to eat Gluten Free, chosing to is super Yummy!
Bon Apetit!

Monday, September 10, 2012

This is a test, it is only a test

So I was trying really hard to blog from my smartphone, however I ran into technical difficulties. Apparently my "Smartphone" is smarter than I am. I tried following the "simple" directions and found the process to be anything but simple. So there are some posts out there somewhere that are mine but never posted to my blog. I probably posted to some poor person's blog and they don't even know me. Ugh!

But good news my faithful Carpool-Princesses, Blogger now has an app and aftet much work to install and set up, I am typing this to you from my "Smart"y pants phone. We will see if this works. If it does, and I have my fingers crossed, then please forgive my typos as my texting skills are limited.

Enjoy your day and Happy Carpooling!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Adventures in TaG-land

As you may or may not know, my oldest daughter was accepted into a magnet High School through DISD.  It's the TaG magnet whick stands for Talented and Gifted.  She is an incredible girl and I so love and respect her.  I think being her mother is going to teach me so much. 

This new journey we are on is definately an interesting one.  First, we had to get into Tag!  The whole process is quite involved, but we told our then 13 year old that if she was really interested in doing this, then it would be up to her to "drive the bus" on her application process.  She had to keep up with her deadlines and there were several.  We promised to do whatever we could to help, but we would NOT do it for her.  She had resumes to write, applications to fill out, tests to take, projects to do, and more.  We drove her to tests, and her timed essays etc, but she had to do the work and prepare.  She did! 

To tell you the truth, I don't think I would have been able to do at 13-14 what she did.  About the we were visiting her top 2 school choices and getting all the how to's on doing this, my father's illness took a turn for the worse.  He'd been in the hospital with pneumonia, and they found advanced COPD.  We were visiting schools around Thanksgiving time and my Dad rallied and was home for thanksgiving.  It was such a beautiful time and we were all filled with such Hope!  Then a couple of days later He fell ill, and wound up back in the hospital cardiac care unit.  By Christmas it was becoming obvious that his health was getting worse and that my daughter's deadline was fast approaching.  All her tests, essays, application, project and resume were due by January 31st. 

So we signed her up to take the Stanford test at Tag costing about $100, since our home school district takes only State level standardized tests.  The Stanford was given sometime in the first week or so of January.  She had to go to TaG again 2 weeks later to take a timed/supervised essay.  500 word minimum, and she wrote somewhere around 800, so check!  While my husband was taking her to take the test and write her essay I was spending every weekend with my parents at the hospital.  After the test/essay they would drive out to see Papa!  Stressful, Much?! 

She had a week or 10 days left to finish her admissions paperwork, and submit a project.  She was to exhibit some talent or project that shows her passion.  It could be just about anything.  My daughter wrote!  She wrote a short story.  It's a passion for her.  She spends much of her free time writing, and when she's not writing, she is reading! 

So I took some time off work on January 30 to drive her application down to Tag!  Had to make copies and get everything checked off the list.  I drove the hour down to her campus and turned everything in. They have copies of her test scores and her essay scores.  I forgot my proof of non-residence, however they were so understanding of where I was at in my emotional health.  I tried to stay in touch with them, and communicate often enough to be diligent, but not so often that I was a pest.  As, I get into the car to leave TaG, I get a call from my brother.  Dad wants us all to come to him now.  So, I drive another hour + from downtown Dallas to Dowtown Ft. Worth to see what my Dad wants. 

He has decided to remove the oxygen.  He has had enough of the battle.  His doctors see no way for any measures available to offer any change in his condition.  He has fought hard and is ready to enter his rest.  So on the same day, that I find out my daughter has done extremely well on her tests and essay, I find out that my Dad is losing his battle.  Such a bittersweet day.  Within 2 days, on February 1st, my Father officially lost his battle and entered into his rest. 

We found out at the end of February that we qualified for TaG but were put on the waitlist.  Since we live outside of their actual school district they fill all their slots with "In District" kids first and everyone else is wait-listed.  I called again in April to see what the next step would be if she were to make it.  They told me at that time that she was #3 on the list to get in.  By early May, we got the call.  She had made it into TaG! 

It's ironic how the application process felt like a marathon, but our journey into TaG-land has really only just begun.


Books in a series

I'm 2/3 through with the Lucky Harbor trilogy that is out this summer by Jill Shalvis.  I just finished At Last, last night and am starting Forever and a Day today.  As, I was putting last night's book on the "Read" shelf I noticed several that I finally finished and some that are waiting patiently on my "To Be Read" shelf.  (yes, I really have a separate shelf for those books I've read and those I haven't)  I have 2 of the 3 Inn at Boonsboro trilogy by Nora Roberts waiting for me.  And it got me to thinking if others do what I do? 

There are certain authors who are good at writing 3 books in a series every year for me.  Some examples that I love are Robyn Carr's Virgin River, Susan Mallery's Fool's Gold, and Jill Shalvis' Lucky Harbor.  These authors tend to release their books 1 a month for 3 months in a row, until all three are released for that year.  And, Nora Roberts is so good at writing trilogies (and quartets).  I will have to purchase all three in that particular group of books in the series before reading one.  For instance when Robyn Carr releases her new Virgin River books, one comes out in January, February, and March.  I will buy the January book, but will not read it until I have all three.  So, when everyone is raving about her book in January, I haven't read it yet.  Now, sometime in March, when the 3rd book has been released and I have all three in my greedy little hands, I will sit down with them and read them all.  I do this with all the above mentioned authors and others. 

I find when I haven't done this, when I've read "January's" book in January, then I want to read the next one immediately and I can't.  Maybe, I have a bad memory, but waiting a month to catch up with those characters with having read other books in the mean time, I tend to lose track of who and what is going on. 

Does anyone else out there do this?  Am I the only one who is so obsessive about my book series that I will wait to collect them all before starting the first one?  Oh, oooo!  And It drives me nuts when I read a series out of order too.  Like getting the 2nd or 3rd in a series, not knowing it's part of a series, and reading it first.  Because even though authors are pretty good about explaining the back ground in subsequent books, it still feels like I'm walking into a movie halfway through.