Wednesday, November 25, 2020

What's Going on in November......
Reading, watching, eating, planning

Happy end of November!  This was a month that I'd like to see the end of yet we have some fun things planned coming up. 

Books and Movies / Recently I had an email from Thriftbooks, a site I like for purchasing gently used books and movies.  The theme in one email was about books which were made into movies or television series.  Nick Hornby had been on my to-read list for a while and I haven't gotten around to him. Yet.

I hadn't heard of High Fidelity but the description about the movie plot had me intrigued.  The library had a copy and I can say we throughly enjoyed it. Haven't read the book and probably won't now. 





The movie was set mostly in a record shop - remember those?  Anyone? What a blast from the past.  John Cusack was great as the narrator and there was so much music. It's 20 years old so some things were dated but certainly the music was not. We listen to quite a bit of music here, especially older blues recordings.

This month I have enjoyed the following books:

I am planning on starting the Tana French book The Searcher over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Hoping for some quiet time with the book and nature. 

In  & out of the kitchen / Chicken, Mushrooms, Spinach and Orzo is a creamy dishy that's easy to prepare




Pad Thai is a treat for us. This is one of the times we decided to venture out and get a favorite from Thai Kitchen.  The wonton soup is very good but you can get a ginger laced salad instead if you'd like. This is the best Pad Thai we have found locally.




More than ample portions and some came home for a lunch serving.


Planning / I am putting this in writing as I hope we will follow through.  We went to the nursery recently and saw an impressive concrete dragon.  It inspired us to look around for an area to place it at home and surround it with flowers.  Step one will be getting some very large trees taken out which are near the house. 



After Hurricane Michael, which caused us to evacuate, we realized the big pine trees within striking distance of the house need to go. Adios. We were fortunate that any damage was away from our house. So, once they can be removed it will change the amount of sunlight hitting in areas where we want it. Then....the dragon garden!
Goal for that is January.


We are still missing Aja but as time passes it gets a bit easier.  Hoping for a calm and safe Thanksgiving week. This post is scheduled as I'm not sure if we will have internet connection later in the week.   If I don't get back to you right away, that's why.





Monday, November 16, 2020

Tequila Lime Chicken
{From Simply Nigella}

 After a two month hiatus from food related posts I thought I would jump back in with one of my favorite cooks and food writer - Nigella Lawson.  Recently I picked up a copy of her 2017 cookbook, Simply Nigella.  There are quite a few recipes I want to sample from this cookbook and have started with the Tequila Lime Chicken.  

The recipe is simple with few ingredients and reminded me of another dinner we had quite a while ago.  That was a delicious grilled meal -  Tequila Honey Pineapple chicken, photo below.  See that post and recipe here; I highly recommend it.





We planned to have this again but the little containers of pineapple juice had apparently expired.  Didn't know we kept them around so long.  It's been ages since a cocktail was made around here and those were from those days. 

Anyway, Nigella's recipe turned out very nicely and we plan to have it again one day.  As it was baking we took a short walk and wow, when we walked back inside the aroma wafting through the house was amazing.  Instant hunger.



I'd like to note that marinating for 6 hours was perfect. I do think 2 days, as mentioned in the recipe as the longest time to marinate, would be way too much time.  Citrus can dry out meats if left too long.  Also, when I stored the leftovers I drained the remaining juices/marinade.




Recipe is below as I copied from Nigella's site and the book Simply Nigella. We would have this again sometime but I think in side-by-side comparision that Tequila Honey Pineapple recipe would win out.


Tequlia Lime Chicken

  • 1 preferably organic chicken (approx. 1.4 kg/3-lb, jointed into 8 pieces)
  • 5 tablespoons tequila blanco
  • 2 limes (preferably unwaxed)
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (plus more to sprinkle on at the end)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons regular olive oil

Method

  1. First, put the jointed chicken pieces into a freezer bag.
  2. Mix together the tequila, zest and juice of the limes, the chilli flakes, salt and olive oil, and then tip this into the freezer bag with the chicken. Seal or tie tightly (letting out the air first) and place it (on a tray or in a dish) in the fridge to marinate for 6 hours or overnight, or up to 2 days, or leave outside the fridge, but in a cool place, for 40 minutes if you’re short of time.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. If the chicken is in the fridge, take it out and remove the chicken pieces from the bag, reserving the marinade. Sit the chicken pieces on a smallish, shallow baking tray for about 30 minutes to allow them to come to room temperature. It’s important that the chicken pieces sit on the tray without a lot of room to spare, or else the marinade will immediately evaporate in the hot oven. When you are ready to put it into the oven, pour half of the marinade over the chicken pieces and transfer to the hot oven for 25 minutes.
  4. Take the chicken out of the oven, pour the other half of the reserved marinade over it, then put the chicken back in for another 25–30 minutes. Check it is cooked through before removing from the oven. Put the chicken pieces on a serving plate. 
Served with smashed avocado and tomato, boiled potatoes and a baguette.

Sharing with:

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

2020 can just go away now

 This is a surprise to me - posting.  I thought I was done with it all and some part of me missed it while another thought, who cares...can't get motivated.

What a year.  While I was delighted to retire at the end of 2019 there were plans we made that didn't transpire due to Covid.  Traveling was on the agenda.  It would be lovely to see our son as last time I hugged him was in April of 2018. We wanted to head west and see the big clear skies of Arizona and Utah.  But 2020 threw a hitch in life for many people.

One of our biggest heart breaks was losing Aja, our beloved shiba inu on the 4th of November.  It's amazing grief can be such a powerful physical force on the body.  Our chests literally hurt with grief.  She was 17 and led a comfortable life with us.  Pampered and loved. It left a huge hole in our lives. 




The same day we were about to say goodbye to our sweet girl, Doug developed new floaters in his right eye and they were getting worse as the day went on. By the end of the day he could see what appeared to be drifting film over the eye.  Next day he goes in for the appointment and they do laser surgery immediately as he had 3 tears/rips in his retina.  Thankfully he didn't lose vision.
Please Note - if you ever have anything like that develop with your eyes/vision see an opthamologist immediately. 

Social Media status / I am probably one of the few souls not on Facebook and don't intend to jump back into it (been there years and years ago).  I did enjoy Twitter and had an Instagram account as well.  Months back I needed to take a break and deactivated my Instagram account and it still hasn't called me back.  So, if you were one of the few who followed me there, you were not dumped.  Instagram was dumped.  

What I missed /  I think it was the social connection via blogging with like minded people who like food and books. It was time to evaluate how I may want to continue with blogging/journaling.  Getting involved with so many "events" stretched things thin, for me anyway.  Looking back to how I started  in 2008 makes me realize I enjoyed the journaling very much.  Perhaps I will baby step back in that way.

Just so I am not ending my post in a most depressing over share of information, I want to wish any who read this a happy and healthy upcoming holiday.  

Be careful out there!  Maybe I'll see you soon.

This was Thanksgiving at Manatee Springs State Park 2019 


                                                Seminole State Park Georgia






Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Food 'n Flix Roundup - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

It was fun hosting the movie for August at Food 'n Flix.  The selected movie was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. One of my favorite movies in the Harry Potter series.


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The tables of food at Hogwarts provides the most inspiration as they are empty one moment then with a wave of Dumbledore's wand, they are magically covered with platters of meats, veggies, fruits and desserts.  The train journey to Hogwarts has some inspiration as well with carts of snacks and candies.

Let's get right to the roundup of goodies!

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First one in is Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures and she brought a stunningly beautiful cake.  Amy said: 
"Now, when it comes to Harry Potter, I like the books much more than the movies. However, the first movie (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) stayed the truest to the book. " Amy is like me, a real Potter enthusiast. Check out her post HERE.



Next up is Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla.  Camilla brought Chocolate Caramel Cauldrons (Bittersweet Cremeux with Coffee caramel and Bourbon Cream).
Camilla was not a fan of the movie but still brought us a delicious treat inspired from Hogwarts.  Check out her post HERE.




Wendy from A Day in the Life on a Farm liked the movie and made these cute chocolate frogs.  Wendy says, " Delight your Harry Potter fan or just your chocolate lover with these fun frogs that I was inspired to make after watching, for the umpteenth time, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." Check out her post HERE




Debra from Eliot's Eats  brought us Adult Butterbeer Ice Cream.  She says, " I 
feel great nostalgia for this movie because I believe the only time I watch any of the series is with the nephews (who are now nineteen and thirteen). Check out her post HERE




My submission was a cherry filled chocolate cake shaped (I hoped) like a cauldron. It was very tasty and I'd like to think Harry, Ron and Hermoine might enjoy this with a cup of tea. The Cauldron Cake post may be found HERE.


Thanks to all who joined in and I hope you had fun.  If I made any omissions please contact me and I'll sort it out.  

Coming up in September at Food 'n Flix is the movie Chocolat to celebrate the 10 year anniversary!  I will be tuning in for that festival.


Sharing with Food 'n Flix and also with  Joy for British Isles Friday as it's a Harry Potter/ J.K. Rowling themed event.

  brifri  

Friday, August 21, 2020

Santa Fe Chicken from SkinnyTaste

Slow Cooker Santa Fe Chicken from SkinnyTaste is a meal I had been wanting to try for quite awhile. Definitely a keeper. I was inspired to try this slow cooker recipe to evaluate if it’s an easy camping meal. 

It is! Instead of hauling the slow cooker along I think I’ll be preparing this the night before we leave for a longer trip. That way it’s dinner one night and can be easily packed in Tupperware. 

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We don’t take a car so it’s important to have everything we need. That’s not been a problem for the shorter 4 day trips we’ve taken but in September we hope to be gone 8 or 9 days.  That’s about the limit our elderly dog can take. I am not going into a grocery store for restocking, not these days.

Here is a snap of the veggie ingredients in the slow cooker. To make this vegetarian you’d obviously need to leave the chicken out but I think you could let the slow cooker do it’s magic of melding the flavors. After that I think you could use the extra form tofu or Tempeh to mix in.


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This is very soupy so you can enjoy it as a soup or put rice in your bowl and ladle the mixture over that.  It would also make a good enchilada stuffing!

 Slow Cooker Santa Fe Chicken
{from SkinnyTaste} My modifications are noted

INGREDIENTS

  • 24 oz 1 1/2 lbs chicken breast (we used boneless thighs)
  • (For vegetarian option use tofu or Tempeh)
  • 14.4 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies (Rotel tomatoes)
  • 15 oz can black beansrinsed and drained
  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 14.4 oz can fat free chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 3 scallionschopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepperto taste
  • salt to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Combine chicken broth, beans (drained), corn, tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt in the crock pot.
  • Season chicken breast with salt and lay on top.
  • Cook on low for 8 - 10 hours or on high for 4 to 6 hours.
  • Thirty minutes before serving, remove chicken and shred.
  • Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Adjust salt and seasoning to taste.
  • Serve over rice or tortillas and with your favorite toppings.

NOTE:  I started out cooking this on high but ended up turning it to low later.  It doesn't need 8 hours to cook.  Our version came out well cooking on high for 3 hours then switching to low for another 3 hours.  You can tell when the chicken is done.



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Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Cauldron Cakes


It's the middle of August already!  As I am the host for the movie night with Harry Potter and the Socerer's Stone I figured I better get on the stick and get my post ready.

There was just so much food in the movie it was difficult for me to choose. Lots of roasts, veggies, candies, sweets and breakfast fare.  As Harry wasn't treated well at all when he lived with the Dursley family this abundance of food blew him away. 

The first movie is so great with his discovery of family and friends, learning he is a wizard...all of it.


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 Ultimately I decided to trash the kitchen counters by adorning them with melted chocolate, cake crumbs and whipped cream.  Totally worth it.

I had this image of a cute little chocolate cauldron stuffed with cherry pie filling and whipped cream. The top of the cupcake (or muffin) becomes the bottom of the cauldron.  See...just flip it. Next time I will make bigger muffins but I am not complaining about the ooey gooey chocolate and filling in this bad boy!

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There is still time to join in if you'd like. My announcement post went up HERE if you'd like to take a look. 

 Sharing with Marg for the Weekend Cooking event and Food 'n Flix for the August feature film.

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Saturday, August 15, 2020

Mid August updates

My friend Stacy posted something I agree with - There are just three words every Southern wants to hear.  I love you Low Humidity Today.  That's the truth!  Funny and very true 😉

What is going on in your part of the world?  I haven't posted here for a week so thought I'd update. No new projects here but I did think it might be cool to get a world map and put it on corkboard.  Then use pins with numbers or some identifier and plot out where all my foodie and bookish friends are. Let's see if I can get motivated!

Here's the scoop from the kitchen and entertainment world in our home.

Food

Gnocchi is one of those pantry staples I love having around.  With zero meal planning you can get a package, from the fridge or on a shelf or, if you are industrious you can make your own. Then you can have it as a main dish or side, add various veggies and change out the sauce to suit your mood. 

I bring this up as the gnocchi with peas and mushrooms was an inspired dish from The Silence, the last novel I read. 


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Santa Fe Chicken from SkinnyTaste.  This is one I will post later this week.  So. Good.

An experiment I tried was using my dough cutter and made empanadas with black beans, cheese and rice. I should have used pizza dough or bread dough but this came out visually pleasing.  



  Wordpress/Blogspot changes / Well...I didn't much like it when Blogspot decided to switch to a new format and thought about moving the foodie blog to WP.  And then....{cue ominous music}... Wordpress did the same thing!  Well, they haven't changed the editor as yet but they have been pushing their new improved Block Editor as they will switch to it in the near future.  
Never mind if you'd rather have the classic editor (which I Love) so I went ahead and tried the block edit version and it’s very... no, extremely confusing. 

I may try and bring the book site to Blogspot. Anyone else loathe the latest “improvements “ on either site? Oh, funny observation (I thought) was all  my foodie sites on my sidebar primarily use Blogspot and the Novel Meals site links/friends uses WP. Huh.

Reading and Watching / My reading picked up again after a sluggish period. We either listen to music in the evenings, watch a DVD or, weather permitting, dine outside and watch the changes of the sky and wildlife.  In the daytime I read and lately I have finished:
The Silence by Susan Allott
When we Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O'Neal (lots of food in this one)
The Darkest Night and Missing in Wales by Jenny O'Brien ( a series new to me, police procedural set in Wales)



Last night we watched Three Days to Kill with Kevin Costner.  Lots of action and a comedic element here and there.  We have tried a few new things from the Library such as Life on Mars (a British police series) and an old Star Trek movie from the 1990's - those weren't good so they were popped back in the library bag.

Looking forward to the second season of Jack Ryan once it's out on DVD.

That's a quick update for me.  Coming up I have my Harry Potter creation ready for the Food 'n Flix event this month.  The SkinnyTaste recipe and camping plans.


Hope all is well in your world!


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Sunday, August 09, 2020

Broccoli and Cheese soup with Outback Croutons

 I made a broccoli and cheese soup for lunch this past week. My feeling is it's never too hot for soup. I don't want to eat it outside, on the patio in this weather, but a hearty bowl of veggie goodness is a great lunch anytime.

Light fare to keep you nourished while you while away the hours reading, baking, cleaning (HA), dog walking or gardening before it's dinner time.

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There was a bit of Outback bread leftover from last week's baking and I thought it would make remarkable toasted croutons for the soup.


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This is a vegetarian offering until you add the bacon.  But you don't have to add bacon. There were two slices of bacon leftover from something......can't remember as sometimes the days run together.  Anyway, after frying them up and cubing the leftover bread I smooshed the cubes around in the bacon fat.  Then I toasted them for about 10 minutes in the oven.

The broccoli was still in large chunks and so I tried using my immersion blender to smooth the texture out a bit.  For some reason it did not work, at all.  So I dropped the soup into the food processor and that made it nice and smooth.  Just a few chunks.


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This soup is a little different from one I made two years ago, a SkinnyTaste recipe.  See that HERE if you want.  No carrots in this one.  It's your basic list of ingredients - steamed broccoli (which was leftover from the previous dinner), a cheese sauce with flour, butter, milk and cheddar.  Salt, pepper, garlic powder and nutmeg.

I don't measure ingredients so it's pretty much different each time.  This variation uses homemade croutons and bacon. 

Sharing with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sunday.  Check out her cold cucumber soup this week.


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Friday, August 07, 2020

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

Anyone else bored staying in all the time?  Of course you are.  I love to read and have probably read more books this first 6 months of my retirement, but after a while....ooof. So, I am baking a bit more and we are trying to get walks in down the driveway  We are fortunate our driveway is a tenth of a mile long so we never run into anyone. 

We called a couple of pool businesses with hopes of getting a quote on having a pool put in.  Only one company called us back. Those places are apparently booming with more folks staying home. A pool would cool us down and we'd get exercise.  It's expensive though so we aren't champing to move forward.

So, let's talk easy dinners.  Kitchen ramblings as it were.

Once again I turn to my slow cooker for an easy meal.  We keep our AC set at 74 F (23 C) during the daytime to keep the utility bill down.  So far that works well....until I bake a casserole or bread or crank up the oven.

Here is the beginnings of the chicken and dumplings meal.  The soup, chicken, veggies and seasonings are ready to mingle on high heat.

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There are many who shun  convenience food items in the kitchen but these days I make use of them without shame.  I like using fresh and seasonal ingredients and would obviously prefer to do so all the time if it were possible.  People are no doubt tired of hearing about the isolation and how we are staying in....but it's true.  

So - the pantry will be stocked with a variety of items to make life easier when I need it to be so.

This preamble is to introduce you to canned biscuits and soup in the recipe.
I should have posted the first photo here. The biscuits portion comes about three hours after the chicken and veggies have gotten to know one another.

Anyway, here are the canned biscuits.  If you have fresh dough then that's all the better.  I did not.

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After the veggies and chicken have cooked and the biscuits have been stirred in, here it is a mere 4 hours later. Ready to serve.  Recipe is below.  I did make my own substitutions and cut down on the cooking time a bit but it all turned out well.

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Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumpling
{from Delish}
INGREDIENTS

onion, chopped

1 1/4 lb. 

boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used boneless skinless thighs)

1 tsp. 

dried oregano

Salt and 

ground black pepper

(10.5-oz.) cans cream of chicken soup

2 cups

 chicken broth

sprigs fresh thyme (I used dried)

bay leaf

stalks celery, chopped

large carrots, peeled and chopped 

1 c. 

frozen peas, thawed

cloves garlic, minced

(16.3-oz.) can refrigerated biscuits (I used a smaller can, about 10 oz)

DIRECTIONS
  1. Scatter onion in the bottom of a large slow cooker then top with chicken. Season with oregano, salt and pepper.
  2. Pour over soup and broth, add thyme and bay leaf. Cover and cook on high until the chicken is cooked through, about 3 hours. 
  3. Discard thyme and bay leaf, then shred chicken with two forks. Stir in celery, carrots, peas, and garlic. Cut biscuits into quarters or smaller, but large enough to be bite sized. Stir them into chicken mixture. Spoon liquid over any biscuits at the top. 
  4. Cook on high until vegetables are tender and biscuits are cooked through, stirring every 30 minutes, about 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes more. 
  5. (Note I found the biscuits cooked well in 45 minutes but that may be due to using a smaller amount.  Or it could be my old slow cooker.)



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Monday, August 03, 2020

August: In My Kitchen

Good morning!  It's sunny this morning at 8:30, currently 75 F/ 24 C and shaping up to be another hot sticky day.  I am on my second cup of coffee so that makes me feel able enough to type out a post. Usually I'm too foggy to organize anything.

New in my kitchen is this dough press my son and his lady friend sent recently.  I was hoping to show you how it's used in this post but that will come later on.  It's meant to help me make empanadas and I can't wait.

Recently I made enchiladas and when I do, there is always a leftover bit of refried black beans and cheese.  My plan is to make a few cheesy bean and green onion empanadas but it had to wait a few days.  Coming up soon.....

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Tristan also sent this seasoning mix from Omaha Steak company.  I sprinkled some on the chicken I used in the aforementioned enchiladas and it was very good.  I see using this seasoning in a variety of dishes.

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New brand of beans! These are sooooo good. They were recommended by my brother-in-law and was he ever correct.  The flavorings are a combo I want to try when I soak beans.  There is garlic, olive oil, vinegar, wine and more.  Hoping I can duplicate it. 

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My eggplant fix.  Nothing special, we all know how t make eggplant parm. I was hoping I'd get my act together and make a bread sturdy enough to have an eggplant parm sub...but I didn't.  This made a fine lunch and two dinners.

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Everything Bagel is a seasoning from Trader Joe's store.  I'm not sure if I shared this before.  It's good on roasted potatoes and sprinkled on bread dough prior to baking.

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That's it for today. I'll be staying in to avoid the heat, reading and planning lunch.  We've already had second breakfast so I need a meal plan to look forward to.




It's a nice way to see what other folks across the globe have in their kitchens and hear some news.  It's a great way to visit....especially these days.


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Saturday, August 01, 2020

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone at Food 'n Flix
{I am hosting for August! Join Me!}

I am happy to announce I will be hosting the featured movie at Food 'n Flix for August.  

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is the featured film and from watching this many times previously, I remember quite a bit of food offerings.


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 The Sorcerer's Stone is probably my favorite in the movie series although Prisoner from Azkaban is a close second.  The first movie shows the wonder of Harry's discovery when told he is a wizard.  He learns he isn't a second class citizen as he's been treated by Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon. ( Don't get me started on that spoiled brat Dudley), he learns about his parents and their love for him and he finds kindred souls at Hogwarts.  He experiences love and friendship. Yeah, the first movie is well done and follows the book very well.

Here is  slight preview in case you are scratching your head and thinking - Harry Potter and food?

“He had never seen so many thing he liked to eat on one table: roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, sausages, bacon and steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, fries, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup, and for some strange reason, peppermint humbugs.” 

 “Blocks of ice cream in every flavour you could think of, apple pies, treacle tarts, chocolate eclairs and jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, Jell-O, rice pudding—“ -food from their first feast at Hogwarts.

There is undoubtably more so you'll have plenty of inspiration if you'd like to join the party.

 I've been a Potterhead since we first started reading the books and watching the excellent movies.  

There is ample time to join in if you are interested in this virtual movie party. 


How to participate in Food ‘n Flix:

  1. Watch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Taking inspiration from the film, head into the kitchen and create a recipe.
  2. Post about it on your blog with a link back to THIS POST and a link to Food ‘n Flix. Use of the logo is optional.
  3. Please post a photo of the dish you made. Please include the following in your post: short intro, recipe, #FoodnFlix 
  4. Your post must be current (during month of film - August ). And of course we don’t mind if your post is linked to other events…the more the merrier.
  5. Have fun with it!
  6. Email your entries – blog or instagram – to me at tmculbertson@gmail.com and cc Heather at heather@foodnflixclub.com and include:
-your name
-name of blog as you want it written (or Instagram account)
-name of the dish/drink you created AND a direct link to your post (blog or Instagram)
-attach a photo or give permission to pull one from your post
-indicate “Food ‘n Flix Submission” in the subject line
Deadline for submission is August 31, 2020.

What's Going on in November......<br> Reading, watching, eating, planning</br>

Happy end of November!  This was a month that I'd like to see the end of yet we have some fun things planned coming up.  Books and Movie...

Hello, my name is