Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Coffee Chatter

Come on in.  There's coffee and Cupcakes today for our chat.  I made the cupcakes this afternoon.  Alan gave me the box of Barefoot Contessa mix for my birthday and was supposed to visit today.  His last words were  "And please make those cupcakes..."  Cupcakes were made, but Alan didn't show.  Kay is here but with no Alan she's chosen to sleep the rainy afternoon away...  All the more cupcakes for us, right?

I've had a week thus far of changing plans.  I planned to visit with Alan on Monday and so I worked extra hard on Sunday in the house.  Kay showed up early Monday morning, unexpectedly,  and we chatted until she went off to bed.  Then I went on to Alan's home, a litlte later than planned, but I suppose it worked out well enough.  I woke him when I arrived.  He'd worked overtime and hadn't gotten in until 5am and asleep until after 6am.

Alan was so pleased to have me come visit for the day and he treated me well.  We drove downtown in the city where he lives to a tree shaded corner restaurant.  It was a lovely little Italian place.  The walls were lined with dated photos of the owner's family in Italy.  I had a salad that was nice enough, but the dressing on the salad was out of this world.  It was made in the restaurant with fresh basil and wasn't too tart with vinegar nor too sweet.  It was absolutely the best vinegarette dressing I've ever had.   The entree I chose was a Pesto Chicken over Linguini Alfredo.  The pesto and Alfredo were light sauces, not heavy as the homemade Alfredo I make.  I had so much food that I brought Kay home a full serving.

Alan was by no means satisfied to treat me to just lunch.  No, he also took me to a coffee shop in the historic area and ordered a brew to his own specification.  Remember that just a few years ago he was a Barista in a coffee shop and he's very exact about what makes a good cup of flavored coffee.  Then he was off again, this time to an outlying area where we bought speciality cupcakes for dessert.  He was generous and bought one for Chance and Kay as well.  The lemon cupcake I had was very dense cake, with a tartly sweet buttercream frosting.

Can I just say I felt I'd been most thoroughly spoiled? lol  It really was a lovely meal and dessert to finish off the meal.  Then we visited an organic grocery he'd discovered.  Here is the website for the chain:

It truly was a wonderful store, made to look more like an old fashioned general store with creaking wood floors and barrels of coffee beans and bulk cereals and candies.  The produce was beautiful and not unreasonably price, and the floral selections were better priced than a conventional grocery.  I've seldom seen such beautiful meats, lovely gourmet entrees to take home to bake and eat or have prepared in store for a meal on the go.  It wasn't a large grocery, perhaps the size of my hometown's grocery store.  The selections were limited and not everything was organic but everything was clearly marked so you knew whether you were buying organic or conventionally grown items.  It was a treat to be in the store and had I not been so mindful of the need to finish my shopping the next day, I'd have been very tempted by some of that produce and meat and the spices...

So it was a lovely time with Alan.  I was sorry that Kay hadn't come along with us to enjoy the day but she was sound asleep still when I returned home.

Monday was also Harvest Night in our home.  Unfortunately Chance didn't get home until quite late.  It's a good thing we have this bill paying down to a science.  Between my checklist of what needed to be paid and a sort of tag team approach we were soon finished with that task.  I was weary as could be and the temptation of reading in bed won out without a hard battle on my part, lol. 

I found a copy of The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillippa Gregory at a thrift store Saturday.  Kay and I watched the movie and were appalled at the blatant way the characters sought the King's favor and the depths they were willing to go to.  Well honestly the book is even more appalling than the movie!  It's hard to put down, truly it is.   I shall most certainly be looking for more of Phillippa Gregory's books to read when I'm done with this one.  She seems to specialize in the Boleyns.

And just as a side note this is my third book in less than two weeks.  I finished Fox River by Emilie Richards on Friday, so finding the Gregory book was timely.

Oh my!  I've not told you about Saturday yet, have I? I spent the afternoon with a friend visiting antique malls in a small town south of my hometown.  Very enjoyable way to spend a rainy Saturday, truly it was.  The first store was a proper antiques place with lovely old furniture, some primitive and some manufactured, fine china, silver and a huge variety of special booths.  I found only a couple of books there to purchase, not really antique but old enough I could remember them from my childhood...Which made Sue and I laugh over how the things we used to have at home were now considered antiques.  And led to a discussion that it wasn't necessarily treasure we seek out when we visit these stores but items that somehow encapsulate the nostalgia we feel for our childhood.  That is partially true for me.  I truly love to handle things that have history. 

As with many stores it was easy to see that some booths were overflow from collections, such as the one that had numerous syrup pitchers that ranged in size from 1/2 cup to 2 cups or the numerous collections of salt and pepper shakers we found.  What I found most interesting were the mayonnaise jars complete with screw top lids with built-in manual egg beaters.  I could just see a 1920's homemaker or her maid working away in a sunny kitchen making mayonnaise for salads.  Sigh...

Then there were the many little chairs, not fancy at all, but obviously handmade with tiny turned finials topping them off and leather seats.  I touched two or three of them and the wood was so lovely, rubbed smooth and waxy feeling from use, not the kind of smoothness that comes of sanding but day to day use.  The thinness of the slats in the backs of the chair were astonishing as well.  Sue and I commented that we'd neither of us feel kindly to either of our husbands leaning back in one of those little chairs simply because they seemed to delicate.  I'm just willing to bet however, that they are far sturdier than the chairs either of us have in our homes!  And then there was the 1831 sampler with a 9 year old girl's name upon it...

The second store was filled to the brim with old things, but not so fine as the ones in the first store.  These were more affordable 'antiques'.  Some were certainly as old as the first store but well used.  I admit to a fondness for well used items.  Give me the creamer or shaving cup with the gold worn away from handling or the book with an inscription in the front and a page or two with corners turned down and I am a happy happy woman.   I didn't come home with lots of stuff at all Saturday.  A book, a shaving mug.  Mostly the day was about looking and wondering at the previous owners and such.

Do you see how spoiled I've been this week?  I've had three lovely days thus far.  Just this morning, Chance took me out to breakfast.  We chatted and laughed and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  We made a couple of stops the last one at Walmart.  We were very focused there and didn't give in to temptation.  We were gone from home quite a little while.  I'd laid out my plans the night before, but you know I've said it often enough: work always waits on me, I seldom have to wait on work. 

We got back home about noon, just before the rain started.  I had no time to make soup on Monday or Tuesday so I thought it just perfect for today.  I made my own egg noodles to go in the soup.  Gosh but they were easy to make and I wondered to myself yet again just why we bother with the tasteless stuff sold in the grocery.  The noodles required only basic ingredients: egg, milk, salt, flour.  My home is never without those ingredients.  

I plan to look for a pressure canner as well as a stockpot to use as a water bath canner before summer.  I want to begin to 'harvest' more of the foods I bring into my own home.  I bought strawberries this past week to make into Jam.  I found an excellent price on the berries, far less than I've seen them in years in the grocery.  I didn't have time to make them with all the 'extras' this weekend and early part of this week, but I topped them and put them in the freezer to save.

Speaking of Jam...I watched Bobby Flay make brunch yesterday afternoon on TheCookingChannel and wondered at someone making jam for the morning's meal, lol.  However, I recall Granny often made a tomato jam to go with fresh black eyed peas and it often was ready to serve just as the meal came together so why not?  It's just we tend, too often, to go for the ease of the commercially packaged product when fresh homemade takes only a little while to make, far less time than we think it will.

I shall have to see to supper, so should end here.  I think too my milk is about ready to cool down for the yogurt making.  Yes, work always waits upon me...



Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

What a wonderful week deserve to be spoiled! Your way with words transports's as if I were there with you...browsing the antique stores...tasting the basil in the dressing...smelling the coffee! Thank you, as always, for sharing your life with us. It's a practical pleasure to know you my friend (a frugal luxury ;).
Love and good thoughts.

Peggy Lorenz said...

I am so glad to see your coffee chats returning! I printed this one out, and plan to read it with my coffee this afternoon. :)

E said...

love the coffee chat!

Just as a cholesterol comment- the cholesterol in eggs isn't necessarily "good". "Good" cholesterol, such as the LDL that your doctor measures every year and helps to protect your heart, is NOT found in foods. One egg yolk provides well over half the USDA recommendation of 300 milligrams/day of dietary cholesterol.