Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Baking (or not)

Last year I did the cookie of the day, this year for some reason I am having trouble starting baking.  I looked at a friends blog this afternoon and they have been baking away making me feel so far behind.

The eldest daughter arrives home from Guatemala late Wednesday night and I am hoping that having her here will help get my baking stuff in gear.  For  Pete's sake I haven't even made the dern rum balls yet and they don't even need to be baked!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

We attempt Julia Childs Civet de Mouton!

Picture from

A couple of years ago Michael asked Santa to bring him a copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Childs.  I believe it was the year that the movie "Julie and Julia" came out.  He had been particularly good that year so he got a copy of the cookbook.  He looked through it and always talks about how he is going to start working his way through it...

So fast forward to a few weeks ago...nothing has been made using the cookbook until I am home by myself and bored like there is no tomorrow so I tried to make mayonnaise using Julia's recipe.  Worked okay but the olive oil was too strong for this delicate recipe...must try it again with a different oil.

Fast forward again to this past Friday which was grocery shopping day.  "What do you want to eat these next two weeks?"  asked I, "how about some beef stew" came his reply.  "Regular beef stew or something different" I ask, "how about that Beef Bourguignon in the cookbook" came the reply.

So while we were grocery shopping, list in hand, we came across some lamb stew meat, not what we had planned but Julia knew!  So sitting on our stove after 5 hours and too many pots is a dish called Civet de Mouton which is basically Bouef Bourguignon made with lamb.


  • One 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy)
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • A crumbled bay leaf
  • 18 to 24 white onions, small
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
  • 1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered

  • Cooking Directions

    Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry.

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

    Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.

    Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons.

    In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat.

    Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

    Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes.
    Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust).

    Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

    Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.

    Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.

    Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

    While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.

    Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet.

    Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly.

    Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet.
    Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.

    Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms.

    Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.

    When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan.

    Wash out the casserole and return the beef and lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top.

    Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.

    If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.

    Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.

    Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley

    If you own the cookbook, please read the directions on how to cook the mushrooms, it makes a world of difference and if doing this recipe with lamb it is exactly the same but you only need to cook it in the oven for 2 hours. 

    Michael is out with a client and I keep tasting the end result...we are going to have it with rice tonight (if I am still hungry)!


    Monday, December 10, 2012

    Pan Seared Talapia with Lime

    One thing you may not know about me is that I am addicted to looking up recipes on Google.  It all started off innocently enough with the cookbooks, than came the cooking magazines, then Epicurious and finally Google.

    What brought this to mind other than the fact that Michael always asks me where the recipe came from is this...

    I can't find the recipes a second time...

    I am working on Michael's laptop which we do not have hooked up to the printer and my old dinosaur PC takes forever so instead of printing the recipes up and putting them in one of the many binders we have I scribble them on to pieces of paper.  Some of them big enough to save but most of them are not.  So tonight I wanted to re-make a fish recipe I had found on Friday while Michael was gone, it is so good I wanted to make it again.  To do this I had to type the search words in exactly the same as I did the first time (or I could have looked at my search history which just occurred to me).  After searching for what felt like an eternity (probably only about 15 minutes)  the longed for recipe was found.  I will see if we can get pictures of it later.  It is healthy, quick and most importantly delicious!

    Pan Seared Talapia with Lime

    4 pcs Talapia
    1 Tbl olive oil divided
    4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
    1/4c water
    3 Tbl lime juice (I use bottled)
    1 1/2 tsp Cumin (or a spice mix with cumin in it, I use Tandoori seasoning)
    3/4 tsp salt divided
    3 Tbl flour
    1/4 tsp red pepper
    Cooking spray

    Heat the oven to 400 f

    In a sauce pan place 2 tsp olive oil, heat over medium heat.  Saute the garlic for 2 minutes (if it starts to brown turn it down).  Add the water, lime juice, 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/4 tsp salt.  Mix well (I used a whisk for this one).   Remove from heat and set to the side.

    Combine the remaining cumin, salt, add the flour and red pepper then mix well.  Spray the fish with the cooking spray (I eliminated this step) than dredge the fish in the flour mixture.

    Heat the remaining oil in an oven safe fry pan over medium high heat, cook the talapia fillets for two minutes on each side or until brown.  Remove from the heat pour the sauce over the fish and bake in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the fish begins to flake.

    I still have not decided what to serve with this tonight...perhaps back to Google I shall go!

    Saturday, December 8, 2012

    Thoughts of Christmas

    Phew, let me sit down for a few minutes...Life has been too busy lately and I would like it to please slow down just a tad (okay more than just a tad) but that will probably need to wait until January!  Thanks for hanging in with me during my unplanned hiatus though and if you are new, welcome!

    So many thoughts are going through my mind right now of things that need to be done!  The tree bought, the house decorated, cookies baked (and eaten), gifts purchased. 

    Michael and I actually have a very simple Christmas here at our house but the important parts of the holiday to both of us are spending time with those we love and the true meaning of the day!  Not the one-up-man-ship of how much money we can spend, not how many lights can we put on the house nor any of the other wastes that so often are part of this season.  This is supposed to be a celebration of love...where did we lose that part?

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012

    Posting Soon!

    This is a post to tell you I promise to post something good soon!  Life has been just a tad too crazy to put my thoughts together. 

    Tuesday, November 6, 2012

    Swamp Party Cake


    Saturday night we went to a swamp party (I didn't know what it was either) and our assignment was to bring a desert that had something to do with living in a swamp.  Our host and hostess were supplying the jambalaya, okra with shrimp and she crab soup (one of my great weaknesses). 

    Michael's assignment was to get our outfits (lots of camouflage), mine was the desert so off to the thrift store he went and I to the Internet.  About the only thing I could find was this swamp cake.  The original recipe called for green jello but not being an ambrosia kind of gal I substituted vanilla pudding with green food coloring.  It actually tasted good (other than the gummy snakes which I just couldn't bring myself to eat).

    So the next time you need to go to a swamp party here's your desert recipe!

    Swamp Cake

    1 box deviled food cake mix, baked in a 13 x 9 baking dish according to the directions on the box
    2 boxes vanilla pudding (please use the instant and not the cook and serve I bought by mistake) made according to the directions
    Enough green food coloring to turn the above jello a noxious shade of green
    1 container Cool-Whip (I don't think this has been in my house in a long time)
    1 pkg Oreo type cookies, crumble about 1/2 the package
    A pack of gummy worms or snakes or something equally yucky

    After the cake has cooled cut out the middle of the cake about 2/3 of the way down leaving a border of approximately 1 inch. Add the green food to the cooled down pudding.  Put down a layer of the whipped topping in the area you just hollowed out and than pour in the pudding.  Cover the remaining cake with lots of whipped topping and than carefully jam the crushed cookies all over the whipped topping.  Artistically drape the worms about the cake and... Viola! 

    Tuesday, October 30, 2012

    100% Whole Wheat Bread

    Baking bread can be very intimidating if it is something you did not grow up doing and I am one of those people.  I have always been someone who could care less about bread, it just never excited me (unless it was kaiser rolls with tons of butter on them).  This was probably because I grew up in the world of white bread.  Now there is nothing wrong with white bread (or at least before they started adding all sorts of not healthy for you stuff to it) but its just boring!

    I started working on baking bread a few years ago and the toughest part was the kneading and not having bread dough stuck to everything (especially the little hairs on my arms).  Some of my endeavors have been kind of successful, others have been major fails but that is a part of baking.

    I had printed this recipe up earlier this year and put it in our binder o recipes.  Looking for something to keep myself occupied yesterday I stumbled across it and the next thing you know it was well on its way.  I sincerely feel the flour you use makes a serious difference when you bake and for this recipe I used King Arthur brand whole wheat flour.  If you are thinking of baking bread give this one a try!

    Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread from King Arthur Flour

    • 1 to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water*
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 1/4 cup honey, molasses, or maple syrup
    • 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Premium 100% Whole Wheat Flour
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast, or 1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 2 tablespoons of the water in the recipe
    • 1/4 cup Baker's Special Dry Milk or nonfat dried milk
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
    • *Use the greater amount in winter or in a dry climate; the lesser amount in summer or a humid climate.


    1) In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir till the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. (You may also knead this dough in an electric mixer or food processor, or in a bread machine programmed for "dough" or "manual.") Note: This dough should be soft, yet still firm enough to knead. Adjust its consistency with additional water or flour, if necessary.
    2) Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or large measuring cup, cover it, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.
    3) Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8" log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 to 2 hours, or till the center has crowned about 1" above the rim of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
    4) Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. The finished loaf will register 190°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center.
    5) Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. If desired, rub the crust with a stick of butter; this will yield a soft, flavorful crust. Cool completely before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.
    Yield: 1 loaf.

    I did not have any dry or dried milk and the recipe still turned out great.  I store my flour in the refrigerator so that cuts down on the amount of flour used in my bread (this is kind of an experimentation thing).  Michael said that this is the tastiest bread I have made yet!

    Dairy Free Chocolate Cake

    The week before last I told you about a vegan chocolate cake I had made and promised to publish so you too could enjoy this!  The recipe I saved, the frosting recipe was not so fortunate.  The shame of that is that the frosting may be the absolute best I have ever tried.  That said, I will endeavor to find the recipe again (hopefully sooner than later since I had hoped to make it tonight again).

    The picture is of the same cake made with whipped cream and strawberries, even if you forget to put sugar into the whipped cream it still tastes pretty good and we managed to eat the entire cake!

    Chocolate Wacky Depression Cake  from Savory Sweet Life


    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

    1 cup white sugar

    1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    1/4 cup cocoa powder

    6 tablespoons vegetable oil

    1 tablespoon white vinegar

    1 cup water


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together by hand. Add all the wet ingredients until well combined. Pour into a 8×8 pan which has been prepared with non stick spray.
    Bake for 30 until done. Allow to completely cool before serving. Cake is even better if eaten the next day. Enjoy!
    I cut the cake in half to make two layers, the first time I made it the filling was this fantastic preserve that I buy at work.  It is Mackays 100% Natural Fruit Blueberry and Blackcurrant preserve, it makes a great filling for a cake. The original icing recipe follows!  It is from the same website as the cake...

    Shiny Chocolate Icing
    1 cup sugar
    6 tablespoons cornstarch
    ¼ cup cocoa*
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup water or nondairy milk
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    Mix sugars, cornstarch, salt, and cocoa in a medium sauce pan. Whisk in the coconut milk. Stirring constantly, heat over medium until it gets thick and starts to boil. Continue stirring and boil for 1-2 minutes or until very thick. Remove from heat and stir in oil and vanilla. Allow to cool to room temperature, then spread over the top of your cooled cake.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2012

    My Body Shape

    Yesterday Michael and I went for a nice walk downtown, the weather was wonderful and we wondered in and out of some of the shops.  One store we visited was Chico's were I saw some outfits that were so nicely put together!  For work I wear jeans, a solid shirt in one of the approved colors and either flats or sneakers (pretty boring I know but we can get pretty dirty loading furniture or moving furniture or just plain old doing stuff).

    I have decided it is time to mix things up a bit when I am not at work!  Last week I started exercising and need to add some upper body workouts to what I have going in order to get rid of this little pouch that has developed on my stomach (why does it never go any place else?). 

    Then next comes the wardrobe do to the Internet I went.  For some reason I thought it would be as easy as looking up recipes and it is not.  I found one site that looked interesting and it prompted me to take a body shape test so that they could tell me what to wear.  After signing up (which was not easy) through the survey I went.  I measured and answered some rather bizarre questions than the moment of body shape.  I know what it is not but no way was I prepared to be told that my shape is...A Ruler, that's right, my body is the shape of a ruler!  Straight up and down...there has got to be a better name than that!

    Saturday, October 20, 2012


    An assortment of raw sushi

    Michael's dinner which was Scallop shushi and Kobi Beef sushi
    Last night we went to a wonderful Asian fusion restaraunt downtown. the name of this fantastic place is O-Ku  and the food was fantastic!  Now that we understand the menu and the serving sizes (which are huge) we will enjoy it even more next time!  I was shocked by how affordable this meal was especially for sushi....

    One thing about sushi is that is doesn't all come raw, there are many cooked choices (I don't mind raw fish but am not crazy about the texture) and this restaraunt has a number of great entree's (I had a seafood udami dish with scallops, shrimp, mussels and clams in a great spicy sauce and had some of the leftovers for lunch today).

    Homemade Chicken Stock and stuff

    It's been a hectic week and I can't believe it has been so long since I last posted!  We had a corporate visit at work and you probably can imagine or you actually know what you have to do to get ready!  But enough of that, let me catch you up on whats been going on.

    The venison chili took second at the cook-off!  Much better than when I entered a black bean and turkey chili at Michael's office, we took next to last place (and there were 15 entries that time).  By the time I got to the oyster roast there was none left so I guess it was okay.  First place went to a pumpkin chili, sounds interesting!  I ate more than my fill of oysters...but wish I had eaten more!

    There has been tons of cooking going on here from baked stuffed shells to a vegan chocolate cake with icing (I promise I will absolutely post both the recipes) filled with blackberry and black currant preserves.   So much for the diet!

    Tonight we are supplying the snacks for after church.  There is a Saturday night service at 6 at our church, very casual, kids are encouraged to attend and make as much noise as kids make and it is lay led.  What that means is that a member of the congregation not only does the readings but also gives the homily after the gospel is read.  It is so different from the formal service on Sunday with the organist and the choir and is a wonderful way to end the week.  Afterwards we all get together and have some snacks, wine and just catch up with one another.  Tonight we are bringing curried egg salad sandwiches, chicken salad wraps (with green onions, apples and grapes in the salad) black bean salsa and madeleines with whipped cream and sliced strawberries.  Thankfully I got off work at 12 so I can finish up making everything and still have plenty of time to goof off!

    Yesterday I made chicken stock.  If you have never made stock, it is actually ridiculously easy!  I hold onto the chicken carcass when ever we have a whole chicken and use that!  Here's the recipe...

    Homemade Chicken Stock

    1 chicken carcass
    2 carrots, roughly chopped
    2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
    1 medium onion, roughly chopped
    8 cups of water (or so)

    Put everything into a large stock pot, bring to a boil, turn to medium low and let cook for a few hours (mine usually goes for 3 to 4 hours).  Pour through a strainer and there you go, you have stock.  I put mine in zip lock bags with about cups in each.

    Saturday, October 13, 2012

    Venison Chili

    Well, tomorrow is the church Oyster Roast!!  I am more than ready to go eat my $25 worth of the succulent yummy oysters.  There is also a Chili Cook off and I entered, the winner gets a free massage (of the legal type of course, this is a church event).

    There are going to be many healthy chili's there.  I have heard speak of a couple of vegetarian entries, a couple of chicken or turkey chili's so I decided that we need something different!!!  Our entry will be a Venison chili.

    Venison was not something I grew up eating and as a matter of fact I had it for the first time a few years ago at a restaurant downtown.  I am in love with it even though I did need to get over the whole Bambi thing.  I assume you can go buy venison but we have been fortunate enough the past couple of years to make friends with folks that hunt and enjoy sharing their bounty!  This year it is the boyfriend of our next door neighbor and he gave us 4 pounds of meat (3 ground and 1 looks like a roast of some type).  At first I was going to bring a venison and black bean chili in a Mole sauce but the initial attempt pretty much wound up in the trash (yes it was that bad),  the recipe I started with was for chicken and has cinnamon in it which is what I think did the whole thing in.  So after that attempt it was decided that it would just be a plain venison and black bean chili.  This makes a lot so if you try it you may need to cut the ingredients back to suit your needs (or you can just put it in freezer bags for later).  I am also making a fairly mild chili for the masses, if you like it spicier go for it!!

    Venison and Black Bean Chili

    2 lbs ground venison
    2 medium onions chopped
    1 tablespoon chili powder
    1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1 large can tomato sauce
    1 large can diced tomatoes
    1 large can chopped tomatoes
    1 cup medium salsa
    salt and pepper
    2 tablespoons olive oil

    In a large stockpot heat the olive oil, add the onions and the venison.   Cook the venison thoroughly (the onions should be done when the meat is finished).   Add the chili powder, cayenne, salt and pepper.  Stir thoroughly than add the tomatoes and the salsa.  Heat to boiling than reduce to a medium simmer.  Let cook for many hours (I cooked mine on the stove for about 4 hours and than put it in the crock pot and let it go on low all night).

    Chili is one of those foods that tastes better the second or third day and you could substitute any meat you want, I have made this with ground chicken before and it turned out great!  If you are using a meat with more fat content (venison is very lean) you may need to cut down on the olive oil.

    I will let you know how it goes!!

    Friday, October 12, 2012

    Stuff Going On!

    I have about a million things going through my mind right now that I want to tell you (well maybe not a full million but many).  I will try to keep it to the most exciting (at least to me).

    We are back in the house and the tub is done!  No showers yet and thankfully I was off yesterday and today from work.   No I don't smell although the sponge baths definitely don't leave me feeling overly clean and my hair is desperately in need of a good shampoo!

    Bear loved being downtown, probably all the people and everything going on around him all the time!

    It is only October and I am already tired of Christmas.  Last week at work it was ornaments, this week food.

    We apparently have a water leak somewhere so I am waiting for the water company to come out and check the meter.  Our water usage has doubled according to the bill, how much water can two people and one dog really use?

    Michael started with a new brokerage firm this week!!!  He has some great ideas that he just couldn't  put into place where he was and the new group will not take so very much of his commission.  He has been working on this since last year and now the time is right.  I am so very proud of him to have the courage to do this!!!

    We went to the Habitat for Humanity Re-sale store yesterday and got a great big comfy chair for the living room.  We did not realize quite how big it was until we got it to our little home was a great buy!!

    Sunday is the church oyster roast out on Bowen's Island.  If you don't know what an oyster roast is neither did I until moving here!  I think its kind of like steamed oysters and they are delicious!  If you live here in Charleston and like oysters its this Sunday from 2 til 5 and the tickets are $25 a person, the proceeds go to our churches Outreach partners (Florence Crittendon, Crisis Ministries, Backpack Buddies to name a few).   Being Episcopals there is music and alcohol! 

    Big pot of chili on the stove for the chili cook off on Sunday.  It's Venison and Black Bean, I'm not sure if I will mention the venison part!

    Yesterday was apparently eat out for $18 dollar day.  First we went to the Workman's Cafe on James Island for lunch and had some absolutely fantastic low country food, Michael had Fried Pork Chops and I had Fried Chicken.  It's not fancy but it is delicious!  We want to go there on a Saturday for breakfast (the only day they do that meal).  From what I hear it is 6.99 for eggs, 2 meats, potatoes or grits (yuck), bread and coffee.  The meals we had were a meat, two veggies and cornbread plus some of the best ice tea down in these parts.  For dinner (I was still full from lunch) we went to How Art Thou which is a coffee/wine bar next to the Terrace Theater also on James Island.  Michael had a delicious roast beef sandwich and I had a bowl of Tomato Basil soup and a glass of wine.  The owner is a great guy so if you live here in town give them a try, they have all sorts of things going on and you might just find a new place to hang out and some new friends! 

    Sunday, October 7, 2012

    Life in Downtown Charleston

    We  are firmly ensconced in downtown Charleston for a few days while our landlord hopefully re-glazes our bath tub (please get it done on time!!).
    So we are suffering terribly, forcing ourselves to stay in this absolutely beautiful old Charleston home, one block off King Street and just two short blocks north of Calhoun.  Will the suffering never end?

    Bear is having as terrible a time as we are, he is forced to go for walks, had to go get blessed at church this afternoon (where he was torture d with his three favorite things which are food, children and other dogs).  He is slowly figuring out that he can go in and out the doggy door anytime he wants and that you cannot run down the un-carpeted wood stairs (yes he crashed).

    We are being forced to walk around this gorgeous city and do social things  like the French Quarter Art Walk with free wine, (some of it really bad), a play and too many restaurants.

    So as you can see we are having a miserable time!  Wish you were here!

    Most importantly, so many thanks to our friends Sherri and Jim for opening their beautiful home to us! 

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

    Two of the Many Dogs Who Have Shared My Life

    Most of you know that I am a dog person, these are pictures of some of the dogs that came into my life before Bear.

    This is my much beloved Ben.  He was my heart dog, until you have one you don't know that they are, after you have one you are spoiled for the rest of your live.  Ben came as a rescue at 8 from Lady's Island, SC.

    This is Angel who I believe became Michael's heart dog.  According to him she could do no wrong and was a true Southern Lady (even with toilet paper hanging from the sides of her mouth).  She came to us as a rescue from Savannah, GA at 8 years old.  She was turned into the shelter because she supposedly had thunderstorm anxiety. 

    Ben and Angel after a swim.  Seems like they were always wet!

    Angel looking angelic on the couch she was not supposed to be on.

    Angel busted!

    My favorite picture of Ben.

    I suspect he was up to something at the moment.

    I guess the point of this whole blog is that so many people give dogs up when they get to be seniors.  These wonderful dogs still have so much to give, have so much life in them.  I could tell you all day about these two wonderful dogs and yet another great senior that shared our life whose name was Jessie but I have no pictures of on my computer.  There have been many seniors who have shared our lives for short periods of time as fosters and now I wish that we had a picture diary of each and every one.

    Christmas in October!!!!

    Believe or not, even though it is almost 90 degrees out it is Christmas at your local World Market store.  Yes, I have spent the past 8 hours opening up little tiny boxes containing hundreds of dozens of assorted (and yes some weird) Christmas ornaments!  I am covered from head to toe (even where I was originally covered with clothing) in glitter.  Tomorrow the excitement of the holiday continues when we open thousands more little boxes containing little ornaments carefully wrapped in bubble wrap (which is taped closed), and than paper (which is also taped closed), and finally in a plastic bag (which is taped closed).

    So, therefore I have called a holiday!  There is to be no cooking in the Fenwrick household tonight!  Instead we will dine on fried chicken from the Piggly Wiggly (sorry if you don't live near one) and store bought potato salad!!!

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

    The Winter Garden

    Living in coastal South Carolina allows me the luxury of having a garden year round (if I were so inclined).  Our falls and winters are mild and we have maybe one cold month a year (last year we didn't even have that).

    I have two friends who are wild gardener's and the funny thing is that they both do it for different reasons.  Kit does it for enjoyment and relaxation (I totally do no get that) and Dena does it to make her home look good and the fresh veggies and herbs she gets.  They both spend a ton of time in the garden digging, planting, mulching, putting in compost (you get the idea).  My idea of a garden is you dig a hole, put a plant in, cover it up, water it and that's about it (which may be why my garden is never as fruitful as either one of theirs).

    One of first years together Michael put a raised garden bed in the backyard for me.  The first year it was okay and I got a few tomatoes, after that it was down hill for that spot.  The herbs grew fine (at least until the sudden and unplanned death of my rosemary bush earlier this year) but that was it.  I thought it was because of the tidal flooding in that corner of the yard but, my gardening friends assured me it was the almost total lack of sunshine that did my plants in. 

    Michael is quite the gardener too and I believe he is a mix of my two friends.  He seems to enjoy being outside digging in the yard and I know he is proud of how our home looks from the street with all his flowering bushes.  A number of these will be gone soon as fall is here and I wanted to plant some decorative veggies in the front yard so out I went yesterday with my little trowel, two very big bags of soil and the plants I am hoping I am not  sacrificing to the plant gods!

    Hopefully we will have a winter garden!  I sort of put in 2 colorful Kale plants, 6 cauliflower plants and next to go in when I figure out where the heck they are going are collards (which I will have to share with one of the gardening friends since I think 9 collard plants might be a tad too much).

    Saturday, September 22, 2012

    German Cooking

    I was born in the USA as were my parents and my grandparents, that's where things changed.  My greatgrandmother on my mother's side was born in Ireland and my great grandparents on my fathers side were born in Germany.  I do not know anything about my great grandfather on my mother's side and on my father's side well, they were Irish and were here for the Irish uprising that took place in New York back in the 1860's.  But basically I am an American of German and Irish heritage.

    I know nothing of traditional Irish cooking aside from the fact that it is probably not Corned Beef and Cabbage.  What ever food heritage there was died probably with my great grandmother as for them it was more important to be an American than it was to be Irish.

    My German family however was very different, the heritage and the food survived a few generations.  I am determined to revive it!  My father's Aunt Irene was the cook in the family.  She made these absolutely wonderful Poppy Seed Rolls, Spaetzel in a Wet Stew and Saurbraten with Potato Balls.  I have the Saurbraten recipe but have never made it, sometimes I think it's too much work, sometimes I think it's too much food and than I realize I am just plain old afraid it will not taste as good as what I remember.  I am absolutely terrified of making the potato balls, there were too many pots of potato mush in my childhood but, I think this is the year I brave it! We invite friends who eat beef and don't mind really heavy food over this winter and I make the much feared Saurbraten.

    Friday, September 21, 2012

    Difficult Decisions

    Times are tough for just about everyone and money just doesn't go as far as it use to.  Salaries (if you are fortunate enough to have a job) haven't kept pace with inflation and many of us are scrimping just to make ends meet. I know many people who have a full time job and than one or two part time jobs in addition just to try to get by.

    I know someone who is all most always in a financial bind and that person brought to mind this morning the sometimes difficult decisions that have to be made.  Of course it is easier to be on the outside looking in when you know someone in this situation but when you can't pay the rent, the electric and water bills and don't have money for food it's time to make the cuts that have to be made.  You don't need a fancy phone with all the charges that go with it, you don't need cable TV with all those stations.  It's time to let go of what you think you have to have and focus on what you do need.  A roof over your head, food on the table, electricity and water.  Sure all those other things are nice to have you really need them?

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    Eggplant Parmesan

    I have been craving Italian food lately so the last time I was at the Vegetable Bin we picked up an eggplant.  It has been sitting in the fridge now for over a week and since I was off today decided to have a cook-a-thon.  Eggplant Parmesan has been on my mind every since the beautiful purple fruit came to our home and I have dreams of the temperature being below 85 so my mind wanders to soups.

    First up was a pot of White Bean Soup.  Sometimes I use Navy Beans, sometimes White Beans.  To tell you the truth I have no idea what the difference is, all I know is that after cooking it for quite a while it turns into this delicious pot of very smooth white soup with some veggies in it and ham hocks floating around. 
    Not my picture since I have not re-charged the batteries yet.  Borrowed from Sandhill Farms.
    Next was the eggplant!  I absolutely love warm fried eggplant but unfortunately I hear its not so good for us so Michael's cousin Butch had turned me on to baking instead of frying the eggplant and let me tell you, it tastes delicious!  You peel the eggplant, slice it (without cutting you fingers) dip it in an egg wash, into some bread crumbs, onto a cookie sheet you coated with cooking spray, into a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or so and Viola almost as good as fried eggplant eggplant!  The rest is even easier (this is one of the few times I use jarred sauce )  spread some sauce into a baking dish, a layer of eggplant, some grated mozzarella, some sauce, eggplant, mozzarella (you get the picture).  Top with mozzarella and some fresh grated Parmesan, pop in the oven covered with foil for 1/2 an hour, take the cover off, cook for a few more and you are done!  So it is Eggplant Parmesan Hero's for dinner tonight, not the healthiest although there is Whole Wheat Hoagie dough in the kitchen waiting to bake.

    One last thought.  When I went to buy bread crumbs today, simple ordinary bread crumbs, I was comparing the labels between the store brand and the popular well known brand and found that both contain High Fructose Corn Syrup.  Bread Crumbs!!! 


    Monday, September 17, 2012

    Asian Chicken with Vegetables

    So I came home from work yesterday to defrosted chicken breasts (sounds vaguely familiar I know) and couldn't bring myself to just throw them in the oven with some salt and pepper, mash some taters and cook some peas to the Internet I went.

    This time I Googled chicken breasts cabbage, since that was what I was thinking.  Once again I had the pleasure of reading a ton of recipes and realized that:

    1.  I will only cook a recipe if there is a picture or two

    2.  I will not cook a recipe if there are no comments and the comments had best be good

    So here I sit with a cooking blog with recipes with

    1.  Almost no pictures since the camera batteries ran down

    2.  There are no comments on the recipes

    If I were me looking and seeing the recipes posted on this blog I would have a hard time making any of them!

    That said, I came across a stir fry recipe and it was pretty dern good!  There was enough to take for lunch today and I learned another important lesson while eating this meal

    1.  Stir fry doesn't taste as good with brown jasmine rice as it does the sticky rice

    Asian Chicken with Vegetables

    2 chicken breasts skinned and de-boned (you can do this easily yourself and save a ton of $)
    1 Tbl cornstarch
    Salt and pepper
    1 small onion cut in 1/4 wedges
    1 pepper (green, yellow or red) cut in 1/4 strips
    6 cloves of garlic minced
    2 Tbls soy sauce
    1 tsp  Sesame oil
    1 cup cooked broccoli (frozen worked great, just don't over cook it)
    1 cup chopped cabbage (plain green here)
    1/2 c water
    1/4 tsp ground ginger
    1 cup fresh basil cut
    Olive Oil

    Cut the chicken into small pieces add to the cornstarch, add some salt and pepper, mush it all around so the chicken is covered.  Heat a wok on medium high heat with 2 Tbls of oil until almost smoking, put the chicken carefully in the pan.  Cook on first side about 2 minutes, flip and cook another 2 minutes (chicken will not be completely cooked at this point).  Take chicken out of pan, add a little more oil than add the peppers, cabbage and onions.  Stir and cook for about 2 minutes and add broccoli, stir and cook another minute or so than add the garlic cooking for an additional minute.

    Add 1/2 cup water, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger and the chicken.  Cook for about 3 more minutes or until the chicken is cooked completely, add the basil, stir and enjoy!

    Friday, September 14, 2012

    Thank You!

    It's hard to believe that what started last year as a way to share my love of cooking and life is about to have it's 7000th page view someday today (probably)! 

    I know that many of the big blogs can have that many views in one week but to me that is a milestone that I didn't want to miss.

    Thank you to each and everyone  one of you for sharing this journey whether  you came to just look at one page or you read each and every post!

    Each one of you is special to me!

    Sunday, September 9, 2012

    Herbed Pan Seared Chicken Breasts with Wine Sauce

    Yesterday Michael had taken 2 chicken breasts out of the freezer for supper while I was at work.  You know how that goes, you look at it (at least I do) and think what in the heck am I going to do with that?  Off to the Internet I went knowing that grilling was not an option last evening.  I found my way to one of the cooking channel recipe sites and started reading recipes trying to figure out what looked good, fairly healthy and we had some semblance of the ingredients or things I could sub.  2000 recipes later (okay maybe only about 50) I stumbled across one that sounded tasty and was cook able!  I started reading through the ingredients, we were in good shape, than I started reading the directions.  It was here that I stumbled.

    I think that I am not a beginner cook and this recipe was marked easy and certainly all of the directions seemed straight forward enough except for the part about how to cut the chicken.  It said to cut them into something like airline portion tenderloins.  What in the heck is that?????  There was no highlighted area to take me to the directions on what this meant or even looked like! I thought back to when I flew a fair amount and they still served food (tells you how long ago that was) and all  I could picture were these little boneless, rubbery white pieces of so called chicken.  I certainly was not going to put that on the table!  So I improvised and cooked the entire breast, made a few changes and I have to say, this turned out good enough that I would definitely make it again!

    Herbed Pan Seared Chicken with Wine Sauce

    1 tablespoon olive oil
    2 chicken breasts with skin and bone
    salt and pepper
    2 cloves minced garlic
    1 cup white wine
    1 tablespoon dried rosemary
    1 tablespoon dried parsley
    1 tablespoon dried chives
    1/2 a cup or so sliced mushrooms
    2 tablespoons butter

    Heat oil in saute pan until hot, salt and pepper the chicken place in pan skin side down.  Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, turn over and cook  for another 7 minutes covered.

    Add wine, garlic, rosemary, parsley, chives and mushrooms, give a bit of a stir than re-cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove the chicken add the butter and give a good stir.

    All done!

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

    Doga with the Dog

    I promise to write a blog about cooking soon!  There has just not been much creative cooking going on here while Michael was gone and than this week has just some how become a blur!

    Trust me this is not us, notice all the small dogs!

    Last night Bear and I went to our Doga class, yoga with you dog explains the entire thing!  You take your dog for a walk to tire them out a bit (or in Bears case wind him up more) and than you do yoga outside while holding onto your dog who otherwise might wander (or in Bears case run away) while getting your face licked.

    There were 3 other dogs there.  One belonged to the instructor and she was a very well behaved Jack Russel, than there was my friend Linda's golden Trip who is some kind of very quiet freak of nature (he isn't really a freak of nature, I'm just jealous) and last there was an 8 month old Golden doodle named Grady who was very cute but I suspect that Bear was not the best influence on.

    We did the stretching exercises, Trip sat there calmly, Lola sat there calmly, Grady sat there relatively calmly (he is a puppy after all) Bear was Bear.  I came home with more dog slobber on me (from the grateful doggy kisses of my own dog and Grady and Trip who needed to get into the act) and more fur on me than I think Bear had on him (even after driving down 526 at 60 mph with the windows open and fur flying everywhere).

    I was brave for a few seconds and actually let go of Bears leash (everybody else was doing it after all) but quickly scooped it up when I noticed he had started to stray (wander in a direction he shouldn't have at a speed he shouldn't be going).   I think the best laugh of the night (and there were many) was to see Grady laying on top of his owner while we did some relaxing, I guess he thought that if Lola (who weights 10 lbs maybe) was doing he could too!  Bear on the other hand decided he needed to guard me and stood with his front legs on one side of me and this back legs on the other.

    Thursday, August 30, 2012

    Where the heck did the week go???

    So, to pick up where we left off on Sunday, it was shepherds pie for dinner.  Turned out Michael and his golfing buddy decided to go to 5 Guys for burgers and brought me cold left over french fries (comment on that deleted).

    This has turned out to be a rather hectic not very much cooking week.  Michael's uncle passed away on Monday so he is in New Jersey for the funeral with his sisters.  I so very much wanted to go but 1. Uncles in law do not qualify for bereavement leave and 2.  it would be too darn expensive to board the dog on top the cost of the trip.  So, here I sit with Bear wandering around the Internet and working (Bear is doing neither of those things by the way, he is just my supervisor).

    We have had a lot of rain this week as a side effect of Hurricane Issac, I guess Tuesday was the worst and there were pictures of people kayaking in downtown.  We have a lot of flooding problems in this city probably because we are just at sea level and a good portion of the downtown is made of fill with no real sewage system.  Last night a whopper of a storm wandered in with the traditional lightening and thunder and some how, some part of that combination took down the power in the shopping center I work in.  All was calm other than the rain at about 8:30,  there were two other employees and three customers when BAM out went the lights.  Oh they played with us a couple of time coming back on and then there we were in total and complete darkness.  Let me tell you, those stores are big and scary in the dark, you don't know where anything is and I am terrified that I will trip over something.  The customers got themselves to the front and outside thanks to their cellphones (it's amazing how much light you can get from them), and than it was just us.  You don't want or need to know how I secured the cash other than to tell you it was pretty funny and challenging to do in the dark!  I guess the good part of the story is that I was home early! 

    Sunday, August 26, 2012

    Sunday Supper

    So I am sitting here on a Sunday night after work trying to decide what to make for supper.  Michael is out playing golf with his friends and won't be home until after 7, I have some time and was thinking about roasting that chicken I got on sale the other day but than I remember that he told me on Friday that he is all chickened out.  I can understand that, sometimes you just need a change!  What would be great is something I can make ahead and then just warm up when he gets home (you never know with golf).  In the freezer there is shrimp, chicken  (on the no list for today at least), talapia, pork tenderloin (we just had some last night) and one lonely bag of chop meat.  Hmmmmmmmm what to make?

    All these ideas go through my head!   I could make a pot of spaghetti sauce or a shepherds pie but frankly I don't really feel like cooking.  I'm tired and would much rather goof on on the Shamed Dogs site that Juju posted earlier today (even though I have already spent a bunch of time on it) so right now the chopped meat sits on the counter defrosting and I go from writing this blog to googling recipes that use about 1 pound of chop meat and hopefully produce leftovers that I can take for lunch tomorrow!  But I am thinking why do I start with the meat and than the side dishes?  Maybe I should start backwards, after all the meat doesn't have to be the king of the meal!  Perhaps that thought needs to wait for another day I don't feel energetic enough to follow through right now.

    What will I decide to make?  Guess you will have to tune in tomorrow to find out!

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    Even You Can Cook Fresh Beets!

    Roasted Beets
    I absolutely love eating beets!  To me they are one of the most delicious foods there is, they are sweet, not too soft and you can do a couple of fun things with them.  Making Harvard Beets with my Mom was how I discovered the amazing thing that cornstarch and water do together.  If you have never seen it you have to give it a try, its somewhere between a liquid and a solid, it will pour but if you try to stick a spoon in it the whole thing cracks!  Jen has a name for it but there is no way I could even come close to spelling it!

    Well enough about the cornstarch, back to beets!  I have seen fresh beets in the store for years but have always been afraid to cook them so instead I would buy them canned.  As a matter of fact beets have been one of the very few things I buy in cans, when I can't get to the vegetable bin and for some of the veggies that just require too much work for even me I depend on frozen.  They still have their nutrients in them, are cost effective especially when on sale and have no added stuff.  It's the veggies and only the veggies!

    A few months ago I finally got brave and bought some fresh beets when I was shopping, they sat in the fridge for quite a while (thankfully root vegetables do not have a very short shelf life) until I decided I had to do something with them! 

    So there I was the beets and no idea how to cook them!!  Would my hands turn purple (if it is going to happen you know I would be the one with the purple hands) how do you get the skin off them?  How do you cut them....the questions went on and on.

    Off to the Internet I went only to find out that you can either grill or roast beets with the skin on!!  How easy is that?  My first beet endeavor was on the grill.  I simply cut both ends off the beets, quartered them, threw them in some foil with a bit of olive oil, closed up the foil and threw them on the grill.  Now one thing I have to tell you is that the folks that say they cook in a half in hour can't tell time!  Those suckers were on the grill for closer to an hour and a half but boy did they taste good when they were done!

    On one of my last trips downtown I once again bought beets, there were no smaller ones available so I got four rather largish ones.  Once again they sat in the fridge and yesterday I decided that they have to be cooked.  I decided to roast them since goodness knows its not hot enough here already and I must warm the house up more with the oven!  I followed the same directions as before but this time I didn't quarter them, into the 350 degree oven they went to roast for two hours. 

    I am not sure what I will do with them next, they could just be sliced and warmed with some butter or pickled (which is not as tough as it sounds).  What ever I decide to do with them will have to happen tomorrow since if I do it today and leave for Michael with his chicken for tonight chances are he will not eat them. 

    Bear had to have his picture taken when I took the camera out.  It was tough to get him to sit still for this one since there was not only the camera but food on the stove!

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012

    Doing Doga with the Dog!

    It has been an exciting day at Casa de Fenwrick!  It started with an early morning mammogram and bone density test followed by picking up the husbands dry cleaning, a trip to one of my favorite places The Dollar Tree, and then off to Lowe's to get painting supplies for the extra bedroom.

    Paint samples can be the most befuddling things!  You go to the store and there are literally thousands of little squares of color, you pick the color idea you have and leave with a bunch of paint swatches, you go home and try to figure out from this little piece of paper which is usually 1" by 1" what is going to look good on all the walls you are planning to paint. Rarely does the paint look the same on the walls as it does on the little card!  We are trying to match the paint in our bedroom and hallway, of course we painted it a few years back and threw out the can.  So here I am armed with a full array of what at Lowe's looked to be the right color only to find out that none of them were........

    So after taking the husband to lunch at Taste of Thai off I went back to Lowe's with the swatch that appeared to be closest to the wall color.  The paint samples still called to me and I made a late minute substitution.  It looks like the right shade (I hope)!

    Somewhere in there I checked my Face book page.  Having signed up for a contest I thought I would never win I was shocked, shocked I tell you to find out that a Colleen F had been one of the lucky winners for a Doga lesson at a place called Fit with Fido so.... Bear and I and my friend Linda and her much better behaved Golden Trooper are going to go do yoga together.  Now being Bears mother I know his behavior but their website says its a great class for busy dogs!  We will just have to see! 

    Friday, August 17, 2012

    Cleaning the House

    Today is cleaning day and I was wondering whilst vacuuming up 25 dogs worth of fur which has come from just one  very furry golden retriever, what do people with no animals and no children need to clean?  We have successfully raised the kids and they are all out of the house so that leaves just one dog.

    If we didn't have a dog we might not have to vacuum every day (actually we do it about every 3 days but could do it each and every day). 

    If we didn't have a dog we could go out in public in black slacks without carrying the lint brush with us which has to be used after getting out of the car.

    If we didn't have a dog we wouldn't leave a trail of fur while riding in the car with the windows open (its like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to find the way home)

    If we didn't have a dog no one would cross their legs at an important meeting to find their socks covered in dog fur.

    If we didn't have a dog there would not be dog fur in the dresser drawers (how it gets there we have no idea).

    If we didn't have a dog there would be no dog toys strewn helter skelter all over the house waiting to be stepped on.

    If we didn't have a dog we could go away overnight and not have to get someone to watch him.


    If we didn't have a dog there would be no one to greet us when we come back from the mailbox wondering where we were all that time.

    If we didn't have a dog we might forget that every day is a new celebration and that we should wake up excited to start the day.

    If we didn't have a dog there would be no squeaky bone serenades.

    If we didn't have a dog there would be no silken head to pet.

    If we didn't have a dog there would be no early morning excursions  to the beach to run and leap around in the sand full of joy.

    If we didn't have a dog there would much less laughter over his antics.

    If we didn't have a dog there would be no one to stare at us or lay their head on us encouraging us to pet them.

    If we didn't have a dog there would be no small woof and grrrrrrrrr to warn us that there is something  outside (well that is sometimes, most of the time there is nothing).

    If we didn't have a dog the squirrels would take over the back yard.

    So I will keep vacuuming up the dog fur, its a gift to remind us that he is always here for us, will never judge us and will always love us as much as we love him!

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012


    You won't hear from me much this week.  Not because I don't love you but because I am working the dreaded overnights.  Many of you may already work this shift, I know Michael did when we started dating.  He was a nurse and worked the 7 pm to 7 am shift and I don't know how he did it.  It's not the working part that is tough, its the sleeping part that I am struggling with.  If the sun is up, so am I.  I was driving home at 5 this morning wide awake even though I have had a total of 5 hours of sleep in the past two days.  

    I try sleeping on the couch with the TV on, no sleep.  TV off, no sleep.  In bed TV on in the other room, no sleep.  In bed TV off, no sleep.  Couple of glasses of wine, no sleep.  I keep looking at the clock and now I have to be at work in 6 hours and have slept for 3 hours today.  I think the stress of sleeping is what is keeping me awake.

    Well, off to try to sleep..... 

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    Bears Bread Sticks (Read all the way to the bottom)

    I haven't done much posting lately about the main topic of this blog which believe it or not is cooking.   The funny thing is that we eat dinner at home just about every night and I did a whole lotta cooking while we had our house guest the past 5 weeks.  One would think with all that cooking I could have found something no matter how small to tell you that you simply must try.  There is nothing on here that we do not eat ourselves and you never ever ever hear about the misses, the food that doesn't quite turn out the way it is planned.   We all have them, those meals that we have such great hopes for and than BAM, time to order pizza!

    While he was here, Spencer and I spent time together in the kitchen.  He likes to cook, doesn't like to clean up but hey neither do I (which is why the deal the hubby and I made while still dating works great, if you cook you don't do the dishes after the meal).  One of the thing we made twice during his visit was bread sticks, we found this great recipe on line for Almost Famous Bread sticks.  After a bit of tweaking for what we had in the house this is our version which we will call Not Really Almost Famous Bread sticks!

    Not Really Almost Famous Bread sticks

    1 package yeast
    4 1/4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
    2 tablespoons soft butter
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1 tablespoon salt

    3 tablespoon melted butter
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I used more)
    2 cloves garlic minced

    Put 1/4 cup warm water into a bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it.  Set aside until the yeast blossoms.  Add the flour, butter, sugar, salt and 1 1/4 cups warm water.  Mix until a slightly sticky dough forms and it pulls away from the side of the bowl.  (I add about 3 cups of flour and than mix, if the dough is not right I continue to add flour).  Depending on your flour and the humidity you may use more or less flour, do not panic!!

    Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 3 minutes.  It should be smooth and soft as a babies bottom.  Roll into a 2 foot long log than cut into 16 pieces.  Knead each one and than shape into about 6" long logs.  Put on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a kitchen towel and allow to sit about 45 minutes or until doubled in size

    With the oven heated to 400 degrees, brush the bread sticks with 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of melted butter than sprinkle with the salt.  Place in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the bread sticks are a light golden brown, remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes so you don't burn your fingers than move  them to a cooling rack.  Mix the remaining 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of melted butter with the minced garlic.  Brush the bread sticks with the butter and garlic mixture and enjoy!

    One final bit of advice...Keep the bread sticks where the dog cannot get them.  No matter how well behaved you may think your dog is, and you know I think mine is a saint, they can and will steal a bread stick, hide it in the side of their mouth away from you and steal off into the backyard with said bread stick.  Not that Bear would ever think of doing that (except yesterday when he did do that!).