Spring Is Here, Springer Spaniels, Spring Vegetable Soup

July 2, 2010

This is another great guest post. I have entered into a contractual arrangement to be her agent.

We all grieve the passing of Erma Bombeck and her column. No no one can fill her shoes but Susan Nelson is definitely following in her footsteps. I have posted one of her columns on my site as a guest blog. My goal is to have her column in all of the newspapers that Erma was in. I have contacted Bill Bombeck her husband and asked for his endorsement. Believe it or not there is actually an Erma Bombeck writer’s workshop every year. I have asked for the endorsement of the director of that workshop.
What I am asking for you readers is to copy this and send it to your local paper and ask them to carry the column. We would appreciate it.

Blessings on you and yours
John Wilder

I lived in Little Rock, Arkansas, from 1980 to 1984. My children were in 5th and 6th grade when we moved there, and my stepdaughter was three. As mentioned in previous blogs, my husband at the time, travelled about three weeks out of four so I was on my own with three dogs, two cats, a rabbit and two hamsters. Busy me.
My stepdaughter flew up from Southern California every other weekend. Most of the the time my husband made it home on weekends but, if not, I was in charge of the brood. This particular weekend, that was the case. It was a Saturday morning. My son was in the back yard with our golden retriever, Barnaby, picking up fruit that had fallen from our trees. Our neighbors to the left had two springer spaniels. They were caged because the male was agressive, but it was open topped. Springers are aptly named because of their ability to jump great heights. This morning the dog managed to get over the fence into our yard.
I had my head in the kitchen sink trying to wash the dye, yes, yes, I dye my hair, out of my hair when I heard yelling. The two girls were in the family room watching TV. Grabbing a towel, dye running down my face I ran to the back door. My son was in between the two growling dogs, and our dog was definitely not coming out on top. The closest thing to a weapon handy was a shovel standing by the fireplace. When I got out there Barnaby had a huge gash by one eye and my son had a bite on his hand. Running after the springer swinging my mighty shovel he high tailed it (no pun intended) back to his side of the fence.
Barnaby’s eye was a mess. I called the vet and was told to drop him off. After checking out the bite mark on my son’s hand, I called his doctor and said we were coming in. Sarah, my stepdaughter had lost her mind and was hitting decibels with her screaming that probably were picked up on satellite. Wrapping the towel around my head, brown dye drying nicely on my face and ears I managed to rally the troups and get them in the car, the still screaming Sarah hanging around my neck.
People in the vet got out of my way. I’m sure that a crazed woman wearing a Grateful Dead tee shirt and cutoffs, brown dye running down her face, toting a bleeding dog, wasn’t a sight they saw every day in Danville (a rather snooty town).
Back in the car I went on to sit in the doctor’s waiting room with four equally uncomfortable patients giving us a wide berth.
Finally, bite addressed, Sarah’s mouth gone silent, and hair dye glued to the top of my head, the crisis was averted.
After determining that Barnaby had needed surgery and would be spending the night at the vet’s I decided to take my disgruntled crew out for ice cream. I ordered four triples, felt we needed it, and when I went to pay the kid behind the counter who, at this point, had stopped blatently staring at me and was now avoiding any and all eye contact, I discovered I’d left my wallet in the doctor’s office.
An hour later, home and somewhat calmed down I went to wash off the rest of the dye and discovered that by leaving it on so long it had actually colored my scalp as well as my hair so I looked like I’d had a run in with the Tar Baby. Like I’ve said before, some people have normal lives, I have mine.
Spring Vegetable Soup
1 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 bay leaf
1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes, drained
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup chopped broccoli
1 zucchini, sliced thin and halved
1 yellow squash, sliced thin and halved
1/2 cup torn spinach
1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup chopped cabbage
4 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade, but canned works fine)
6 ounces egg noodles
1 cup canned white beans, drained and rinsed
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, and cook the onion and garlic until tender. Mix in tomatoes, potato, broccoli, squash, spinach, mushrooms, carrots, cabbage, bay leaf, and seasonings. Pour in chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer 30-40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
Stir egg noodles and white beans into the pot, and continue cooking 7 minutes, or until noodles are tender and beans are heated through

A Great Guest Blog

May 11, 2010

Today, I feature another guest blog for your reading pleasure.  Susan is an artist who illustrates chikldren’s books on contract.  She is also a fomer restaurant owner and a great cook in her her own right.  What most appeals to me among her numerous talents is her fantastic writing.  Her stories are about mundane things in life told with often knee slapping humor.  It brightens my day every day reading her work.  She is married to Rick, happily so who is also a good cook and a good writer in his own right.  I have convinced them to write a cook/story book.  A story of an experience in her life, a dish and a photograph of the dish.  If you sign up for her follow up blogs, I predict that you will also have your day brightened by her wit, humor, self effacing manner and good cook.

Who me?

susartandfood | May 10, 2010 at 11:01 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: http://wp.me/pLQss-kH

By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher. – Socrates

I think we seek that one person we can cohabitate with with the least amount of personal disruption, huh, yup, you can quote me on that. Coined a new phrase. Someone that appreciates who we are, but doesn’t try to change us, finds us appealing in tighty whitiey’s and after a night in the sheets, rolls over in the morning to face our morning breath and doesn’t contact a lawyer, pack a quick bag and head out of town ….. quite possibly in your BMW.

Let’s face it, 24/7 with another human being is a challenge. If the dog pees on the carpet and barks all night you can put it outside, but unless I’m mistaken, with humans this is illegal. I don’t know if there’s an actual law on the books, but I’m sure Congress is working on one at the moment, unless they’re enjoying a catered lunch on us.

Life is a challenge, anybody that says differently has the last name Hilton, or possibly Gates.   Even at that, money creates a tidy cushion, nobody’s arguing that, but it does not ensure happiness.  Unless I’ve missed something, there hasn’t been a pill, ointment, suppository, or condom that really 100% closes the deal on that.  Although if you look at the current ads on TV you could take it and hopefully not die in the interim from the side effects. 

We fight with the partner we’ve picked, eye a new partner, leave the old partner for the new partner and fight with the new partner, eventually leaving that partner for a new partner who still can’t stand the sight of us in ten years.  Wait, maybe we’re doing this wrong.  Ya think?  Perhaps we need to learn tolerance, and at some point a general glimpse of understanding of the fact that we’re intrinsically different.  Difference requires bending and reshaping of what your needs are in direct result to what another persons needs are.

You can move, change partners to to Israel and live in an ahsram, but if you don’t deal with your issues they move with you in a big cumbersome bag like Santa carries over his shoulder on Christmas morning, no getting around it. I know, I’ve moved thirty umpteen times and I find I’m still me.  Most depressing.  If you’re not willing to do the work on yourself, you can’t expect other people to put DAP in the holes, ya know?

I yearn to be a fabulous creative human being and often get bogged down in the day to day of what toilet cleaner removes the most scum, and who won American Idol.  In truth, if I’m not reaching the stars, possibly I’m not reaching high enough for them.  No one to blame.  We as a society are really blame sayers.  It’s her fault, it’s his fault, it’s the economy, it’s Tuesday and I hate Tuesday’s, my mother was an alien, whatever.  Bottom line always seem to return to where it began, you.  My bad, my problem, my solution.  Hard facts.

Nothing but luv, Susie

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Competitive Cooking Contests, Earn Big Money And No Entry Fee

May 5, 2010


             Competitive Cooking Contests

     The food channel is a ratings juggernaut.  Their stars have achieved a level of fame that they are known by their first names only.  Giada, Paula and Rachael et al.

     This is indicative of  a modern day Renaissance in the cooking arts.  Sponsors are quick to react to this and sponsor cooking contests with big money prizes to attract attention to their product lines.  They have a ready participant and a free advertising forum with international ties in the contest information site called:  Cooking Contest Central owned by Betty Parham.

     In an interview with her, this author repeatedly tried to tie Ms. Parham down as to how many members she had.  She consistently side stepped the question.  She did allow that her site currently averages 40,000 visitors per day.  Since her site is a fee paid membership site, one can only conjecture as to the total members she has.  One can do the math at $25 per year for the membership.  This is an issue that her members clearly don’t have a problem with.  They view it as a bargain for the services that they receive plus the value added things like online forums where people of like interest can chat with each other.  Ms. Parham takes pride in the fact that many of her members have been with her since the site’s inception 13 years ago before there was a Food Channel.  She also notes that her site features over a 1/3 of the Pillsbury Cook-off winners.  One can admire the fact that Ms. Parham does not have commercials on her site and that she does not sell her membership list to other advertisers where she could clearly make a lot more money.

While she clearly does well financially, it is obviously true when she says she does it because she loves it.

     I got to interview a couple of her members, a newbie to the contesting world and a more seasoned one with almost 6 years experience.  Michaela Rosenthal is the more seasoned contester with a lot of wins under her belt.  She prefers to enter the contests that feature all expense paid vacations.  She claims to have won at least 3 per year since the beginning of her contest career.  She has also won over $30,000 dollars as well.  I have included some of her wins below.


From Food Network: January 2009 Ultimate Recipe Showdown – Comfort Foods

  ~ Cream of Parsnip Soup with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
  ~ Apple-Date Fritters with Lemon Curd Cream and Candied Ginger

From Everyday With Rachael Ray: 2006 Stuffing Contest Winner

  ~ Black-Eyed Pea and Cornbread Stuffing

From the National Pork Board: “America’s Favorite Family Recipes Contest”

  ~ Pork Schnitzel with Lemon-Caper Cream

From Bertolli Olive Oil: “What’s Your Med Style” Contest

  ~ Feta Lamb Burgers

From Thai Kitchen: February 2006 Recipe of the Month Winner

~ Thai-Exotic Coconut And Pineapple Bread Pudding

From Simply Manischewitz: 2006 Cook-Off

  ~ Whitefish and Potato Knish

Jennifer Tidwell is the newbie, young, stay at home mom and housewife.  She has just this year won a $1,000 prize from a medium contest for her cheesecake recipe and another $600 prize.  She aspires to be a personal chef and a cookbook writer.  She has connections in the publishing world as well as a professional photographer as a friend who will give her a leg up into the publishing world.

    The bottom line is… there is real money to be made in competitive cooking contests. 

      The contests are all free to enter. It is also a way to get your kids involved not only as a bonding experience in learning to cook, but a way to engender excitement with  the kids. It also can serve to teach your kids persistence in pursuing a dream as well as patience.

 You have to cook and eat anyway.  Ms. Parham says that they have had first time contesters win big first place prizes on their first try as in this years Pillsbury Bakeoff winner.  Ms. Parham also notes that there are a lot of men on her website as well, one of which is a finalist in this years  Pillsbury Bakeoff. Who knows, maybe you could be  the next Food Network star?  You can’t win if you don’t enter, is Ms. Tidwell’s mantra.

     As to this author’s philosophy of cooking, I say that you can achieve artistry in months rather than years as in other artistic endeavors.  You create edible art by applying judicious amounts of heat to food to change the molecular structure to render a more palatable creation.  Put on your thinking cap and invent some recipes and try your hand, its free, fun and a great hobby.  The next winner could be you.

Super Easy Decadent Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

May 4, 2010

I have decided to take a break from the heavy emotional issues that I have been dealing with recently.  I am telling people how to make cheesecake, not just any cheesecake but triple chocolate cheesecake.  Men, if you want your woman to be in the mood and receptive, make her this cheesecake.  Her brain will be swimming in endorphins  and more open to your romantic overtures.

Women, most of you have never attempted cheesecake.  You perceive that it is too difiicult for your level of cooking skills.  Try my instructions for fool proof super easy cheesecake. When you serve it to friends or family, they will be impressed.  Make it as a surprise for hubby.  Take the initiative tonight and seduce him and be completely in charge.  He will love it.  Be sure to wear some frilly lacy little thing at dinner and even more so at bedtime.

Too many women are demanding their rights to say no to their husbands and not take care of his needs.  I am here to tell you he had dreams of happily ever after too and did not count on his wife demaning him and defending her right to tell him no.  You demolish his dreams of happily ever after with these attitudes.  Who wants to live with broken dreams?

Decadent Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

For Crust

21/2 cups slivered almonds

1/2 stick butter melted

For Cheesecake

4- 8 oz packages non fat cream cheese room temp

6 ozs or ¾ cup non fat sour cream or Yoplait Boston Crème Pie

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup Splenda

4 eggs at room temp

½ tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla extract

About 24 Hershey’s Almond Kisses or half bag approx  enough to cover bottom of crust completely

1/3 approx of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup from a squeeze bottle

Container pre made chocolate frosting

About 12 maraschino cherries.

Place spring-form pan in the freezer for at least 30 minutes prior to forming crust in pan

For crust, pulse blend the almonds until ground into a fine meal.  Melt the butter and combine with ground almonds thoroughly and set in the fridge for about 5 minutes.

Remove pan from freezer and take crust mixture from fridge and with a large tablespoon start pressing crumb mixture against the sides of the pan.  Finish up with the remainder pressed into the bottom of the pan. You want to have the crust at least 1/8 inch thickness on the sides of the pan.  Place pan back into the freezer while preparing batter for cheesecake.

For Cheesecake, cream together the non fat cream cheese and the yogurt or non fat sour cream, then cream together the sugar and Splenda.

Add eggs one at a time until thoroughly mixed.  Then add the extracts and thoroughly mix

Remove wrappers from kisses and place in the bottom of the pan until the whole bottom of the pan is covered.  Pour batter over the kisses.  Take the squeeze bottle of Hershey’s Syrup and place the nozzle down in the batter and begin squeezing out the syrup moving it around until you have squeezed about 1/3 of the bottle into the batter.  You can swirl a knife around to create a marbled effect if you like.

 Place a sheet pan in the bottom rack of oven and fill with water and place the spring-form pan in the oven on the middle rack for one hour at 300 degrees.  This will catch butter dripping from the springform pan that will make your smoke detector go off.  The other advantage of a sheet pan underneath is that it moderates hot spots in ovens.  The key to good cheesecake is even temperatures.

 After the hour is up, leave cheesecake in the oven until cool for another hour with the oven off.  Remove from oven and chill for at least 4 hours before decorating.

Decorate the cheesecake with chocolate icing placed in a piping bag with a medium or large star tip and pipe stars of  premade chocolate frosting alternating with the maraschino cherries.

Serves 10-12 depending upon how you slice the cake

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