These biscuits are not for wimps

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA “Can I make a request for dinner? Would you make those cheese and pepper biscuits tomorrow? We can have breakfast for dinner,” Rick said.

My husband of 40 years was born and raised in Texas and loves biscuits of all persuasions.

We have this Texas cookbook with a great recipe for Cheddar and Black Pepper Biscuits. I’d have to say it’s the black pepper that gives them a lot of character and a little bit of sass. Check the recipe tab of this blog to find out how to make your own!

The biscuits were paired with the most wonderful whole sour cherry preserves on the planet. The label says they were imported from Serbia. Actually we purchased the preserves from a specialty store just because the jar was so darn beautiful. Turned out what is in the inside of the jar is just as awesome. Close your eyes and picture pitted sweet cherries swimming around in a pool of the richest, darkest cherry juices. I know … made me tear up also.

Now all you need are a couple of eggs over easy and some orange juice in a wine glass. How about a toast … to love, life and family!

Valentine’s day … it’s all about the love!

Mimi clutches her Valentine Card ... note the Elmo sticker on her shirt

Mimi clutches her Valentine Card … note the Elmo sticker on her shirt

Love is in the air more than usual today don’t you think? Hubby and I are celebrating Valentine’s Day tonight with steaks grilled to perfection … and a veggie or two. Oh, and I’ve already purchased some limited edition strawberries to dip and drip chocolate on later. I know … I’m a sucker. But the words “limited edition” did just what some crafty marketing person intended … drew my left hand like a magnet to the strawberry crate.

But back to love. It’s comes in many forms today. My special needs daughter is so excited! There’s a Valentine’s party at the day center with cookies and candy and lots of fun. Mimi probably won’t want to eat dinner tonight … and that is SO okay.

Mimi is so blessed to have so many people who show their love to her all year long. Her sister, Katie, sends her singing cards. Mimi’s sister-in-law, Kate, sends her fluffy stuffed animals. Her godmother, Aunt Cece, sends her cards and little gifts. All for a 28-year-old wheelchair bound young lady perpetually stuck at the age of 3 or 4.

Today Mimi received a Valentine’s card and a sheet of Elmo stickers from my sister, Mimi’s Aunt Gretchen. You should have heard Mimi squeal when I opened the card for her! It is the same for every card sent her way. Love is all about those little special moments strung together like a long string of precious pearls. Perhaps we focus on those special moments a little more on Valentine’s Day. They happen at our house all year long.

A love story at Trader Joe’s

Why has it taken me so long to be formally introduced to Trader Joe’s? I know … what galaxy am I from … right?

Before last week I only knew some basic tidbits about Trader Joe’s. First, it is a grocery-related type of establishment started way out west in California. Second, they are apparently famous for selling Two Buck Chuck … a “cheap” wine beverage. That’s it! I knew nothin’ else about the place. Hey, I live in the Houston area. We’ve only just recently gotten a couple of Trader Joe’s locations. It made huge news here in Texas.

The fun part about writing a blog is sometimes you gotta go on a field trip when an idea creeps into your head. With camera in tow, I drove the 20+ miles to the Houston location on South Shepherd to figure out for myself just what was so special about Trader Joe’s. Oh, and get something for dinner. I’m always struggling with what to make for dinner.

So Trader Joe’s opened a store in an old building that used to be a bookstore … that used to be a movie theater. The theater was called the Alabama Theater. Hubby and I saw “Love Story” in that building when it came out on one of our first dates. I still recall the tears in Rick’s eyes. We were waiting in a long line to go in. And no … the tears had nothin’ to do with the storyline. The dude was knowingly going to watch a chick flick.

Thankfully, Trader Joe’s kept lots of the architectural elements of the old theater building. I liked that. The bright red grocery carts were also a nice touch. I was a little confused about the Fearless Flyer. I think it’s a list of specials but I could be wrong. I put one in my cart to read later but it disappeared. I think the check-out lady swiped it. Recycling must be one of their agendas.

I wandered around and around the aisles for about an hour picking up a few items here and there. My daughter told me I would do that. My friend, Beth, told me the mac and cheese with four cheeses on the frozen food aisle was awesome! Got it! Oh, and don’t forget about the cheesecake in the bright blue box, also frozen food.

I took a picture of the famous Two Buck Chuck. Totally expected it to be packaged in a plastic bottle. Wasn’t I surprised to learn Chuck is actually Charles Shaw Winery? And the glass bottle and label is actually quite nice looking. Oh, and it cost $2.99 and comes in lots of “flavors.” Wasn’t brave enough to get a bottle. Next time.

Just so you know … I’ve never had an In-N-Out Burger either. I know … I might as well be from Pluto … and it isn’t even a planet anymore!

A scarf for Elyse

I’ve been knitting since I was a little girl. My mother taught me … which wasn’t exactly easy since I am a lefty and she is a righty. My very first project was a long scarf made from bits and pieces of mom’s stash of leftover yarn. The scarf was a yarn cornucopia of different colors and textures. By the time it was finished the poor thing had a bunch of holes from dropped stitches. Oh, and the width had grown about five inches from splitting so many stitches. But I was so proud of that first knitting project! Betcha nine dollars I still have that scarf around here somewhere.

I have made my grown-up daughter a couple of warm scarfs. Katie was in New York recently visiting family when her lovely little niece asked her where she bought her scarf.

“My mom made me it for me,” Katie answered.

“Oh, can she make me one?” Elyse asked.

Her brother, Josh, also put in a scarf request. Katie told them she would ask upon returning to Texas.

Now Elyse and her little brother had warm and toasty little store-bought hats and mittens. But it seems scarfs for young ones are not so common. When Katie returned from frigid New York of course I said yes. I mean … how can you refuse two of the cutest kids on the planet? And besides … their little necks were cold.

Elyse put in her order for hot pink or gray. Her brother Josh requested navy.

Not having a clue how long and wide to make a child’s scarf, I first had to figure out a few things like how wide, long, what type of yarn and needle size. I learned from good old Mr. Google 4 to 6 inches wide and 36 inches long was a pretty good standard for a child. Not to say Google is an authority on child’s scarfs … but I had to trust someone.

My next stop was my favorite yarn shop just north of Houston, Twisted Yarns (www.twistedyarnstexas.com). My eyes glaze over from all gorgeous yarn colors whenever I go into the place. The nice ladies just led me around by the hand and helped me pick out a wool-type yarn that was washable and dryable. My head cleared enough to drive by the time I got out the door.

I struggled in the beginning with Elyse’s scarf getting the correct width and pulled the stitches out several times and started over. It was all worth it when I went to the mailbox recently. There was the cutest thank you card from Elyse for the hot pink scarf. Josh’s navy scarf is about halfway finished. Hope to get it in the mail before New York City has its first thaw. Below is the simple pattern I used.

Super Simple and Fast Scarf Pattern for Child

Yarn – something washable and dryable and soft – approximately 375 yards.
Needles – US#7 (or size needed to achieve gauge); I like the short needles for scarfs.
Gauge – 20 sts / 4” in stockinette stitch.
Finished size – approximately 5” wide by 36” long.

Cast on 46 stitches. Even rows: K2, P2; rep from * to last st, K2. Odd rows: P2, K2; rep from * to last st., P2. Cast off after length measures approximately 36”. Bind off all sts.

Next year I’ll start clanking my needles together early and include some fancy stitches to knock their little knitted socks off!