Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fat Cat

Spring is here.

Summer is coming soon.

My mind is turning to healthy (read: not too fattening, not too much trouble to cook in the heat) recipes. The exercise ball, yoga class and long walks to the lake beckon.

I miss my sun salutations, warrior positions, triangles and trees. One of these days, I'm going to make it to Anniston Yoga Center and meet Mariya Bullock. I want to do yoga in the historic Kilby House and on Cheaha Mountain.

At the risk of PETA protests, I like a fairly obese cat. It's not a personal image choice. but cats look better with some weight on them. This guy may have gone a bit too far, though.

Okay, a lot too far.

Remember B. Kliban cats, anyone?

I adore salads. A good one (to me) is a treasure hunt for chicken breast, pecans, tasty cheese and some fruit in a good balsamic on fresh romaine. I am very happy that we are growing romaine lettuce in the garden this year. Jay is set up to simply snip leaves. It's amazing!

Occasionally, though, one has to branch out from leafy greens or one becomes bored and eats things that can make one look like these cats.

Here are two easy recipes:

Cool Couscous Salad
  • 1 (10-ounce) box instant couscous
  • 6 ounces marinated artichoke heart quarters - drain and reserve liquid
  • 1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced (if you like onions)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves, roughly torn (if you like mint)
  • 1 package of roasted chicken breast (I suggest Oscar Mayer)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
Cook the couscous. Uncover and fluff with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool. Add the artichoke quarters, cherry tomatoes, scallions, chickpeas, cucumber and mint. Toss the chicken into the couscous. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and the reserved artichoke liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour dressing over the couscous mixture and toss lightly to combine. 

Beth's Honey-Dijon Glaze for Chicken Breasts or Pork Chops

about 1 cup of lemon juice
about 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard
about 1 cup of honey
a tiny bit of garlic salt

Put these ingredients into a large skillet, cooking on low heat and stirring constantly until a nice consistency is reached and it's well mixed. Taste and add more of whichever ingredient you'd like. Place four chicken breast halves or four boneless pork chops into the mixture and simmer for at least one hour (covered). Turn chicken or pork as necessary to coat each side. Uncover for the final ten minutes or so. The honey caramelizes nicely this way, but you can transfer the meat to a broiler pan or grill to brown it up a bit if you like. Save the excess glaze and dribble it on rice.

Let me know if you try either of these and find them tasty.

 Love from Delta.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Women Who Run with Chickens

This is my beautiful cousin Julie. She visited Delta last night with her handsome son, Erik, and her equally handsome dad, my Uncle Reesie.

Julie is an Alabama Girl at heart, I think, though she lives in a very lovely part of Colorado now. We grew up running around the countryside here barefoot, and the red-clay roots run pretty deep.

While we enjoyed appetizers on the back porch, Julie tried her hand at feeding "the girls", and they were exceedingly happy to see her. Here she is with Nilla, our Aracauna hen.

She gave them an ancient chocolate cherry fudge cupcake for starters. That went over very well. After that, the velociraptor chickens and Chuck the Duck became more interested in cracked corn.

The hens will eat you alive if you let them. Chuck is a bit more placid. She does not ask for much; just a nice place to swim.

Diablo and Poseidon joined the fun.

It was terrific to spend time with family. Our daughter came home from school, and we went to explore some local scenery. Even though it was mighty foggy, it was still possible to see Turkey Heaven Mountain.

Another dear and wonderful friend joined us. Her name is Eime, and she's half-Japanese. In addition to being pretty and smart, she is very talented and artistic - I think she gets it from her mother, Takako, who sent me this exquisite bookmark.

Tak is seventy-six years old, and truly an inspiration to women everywhere. She can do traditional Japanese dance with grace and style, cook a catfish filet that is out of this world, and do origami like that.

Speaking of out-of-this-world food, here are a couple of ridiculously easy recipes we enjoyed last night. The first is a starter I learned from an old friend, Robin. I have served it a zillion times:

Goat Cheese and Sun Dried Tomato Appetizer

Buy a plain goat cheese log (not spiced with peppercorns, et cetera). Open a jar of sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil and tear or chop the tomatoes into small pieces. Pour this over the goat cheese log (use a fork to press the tomatoes artfully into the cheese). Sprinkle with pine nuts and dribble a bit more oil onto them. Chill and then serve at room temperature with a cheese knife and your favorite crackers.

Dump Cake

Embarrassingly simple, and great for any time of year: Buy one can of cherry pie filling and one of crushed pineapple in juice. Empty every single drop of this into a 13x9x2 pan; spread it around a bit with a wooden spoon to distribute the fruit. Sprinkle Duncan Hines Golden Butter Recipe Cake Mix evenly over that. Put small pats of butter all over the top (I prefer Unsalted Land o' Lakes). Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour (until bubbly and golden on top - you may need to add a teensy bit of melted butter to any dry spots near the end).

This smells and tastes delicious, guaranteed.

I wish I could mail Julie her very own chicken or two. They love her, and so do I.

Love from Delta.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ees Dream Come True . . .

My cousin Brad tipped me off to a dream come true last night: my long-awaited pocket giraffe. 

Brad, his wife Marcia, Jay and I have been fascinated by the 

DirectTV "Opulence, I has it" ad campaign for awhile now.

Early on, I proclaimed my need for a pocket giraffe to make my life complete.

These ads are great. They are the creative brainchild of Biscuit Filmworks' director Tim Godsall,

and I congratulate him.

The content is rich. The details are myriad. My husband's eagle eye spotted the poker-playing

dogs in the background of the initial commercial, which debuted last year.

They make me want to subscribe to DirectTV immediately, except that 

I am already a paying subscriber.

(DirectTV, if you see this and want to offer me a year or a lifetime of free service, please email.)

I love you, DirectTV.

Here are the ads, if you've not seen them:

This is sheer brilliance. They've set up a website where you can visit Sokoblovsky Farms, the 

best and only breeders of Petite Lap Giraffes. 

I have applied for my very own, and proudly hold number 24,124.

There is a webcam to view the tiny "bulls". 

You can find out all about the care and feeding of PLG's:

"With training they will go in box like cats."

Apparently, they are partial to bubble baths, distilled water and bonsai tree leaves, too.

I hope DirectTV will not mind my sharing and promoting

their fantastic website for your amusement.

Did I mention I'm a subscriber?

When I receive my Petite Lap Giraffe (in the mail?) I'll put up some cute pics for you,

Faithful Blog Followers.

In the meantime, if you've enjoyed this or any of the forty other posts here, please share them.

Email a Delta Delta Delta blog to ten of your friends within the next fifteen minutes, and

Barbie will appear on your computer screen on a sparkly horse and toss colorful candy to

you while tap dancing on the saddle. Bill Gates will send you a check for $5000.00.

If you don't, you will never qualify for a lap giraffe. Ever.

Love from Delta.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Liz Was Lovely.

Wow, she was beautiful.

This is Elizabeth Taylor in 1947, in an Argentinian magazine. She

was breathtaking at that age, and throughout her life.

I remember the first time I saw National Velvet. Did any little girl

not want a horse after that movie?

She was a mere twelve years old.

I'll remember glamor, grace and style; I'll remember that diamond Richard Burton gave her (who won't?).

She was born in London in 1932. Elizabeth was a child star bigger than Shirley Temple, brighter than Brooke Shields, larger than life.

Her sultry voice and violet eyes captivated millions. Here she is in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof:

Nice gams.

The world lost a genuine star today. Maybe she had a strange friendship with Michael Jackson; admittedly, she was a bit too attached

to her Maltese, Sugar - perhaps she was married a few too many times - but she was an icon.

Rest in peace, Elizabeth.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chicken Pools, Revisions & Silk . . .

You know it's getting warm outside when . . .

. . . this happens.

I went to town the other day and came home to find a cluster of thirsty hens gathered around their newly installed oasis in the back yard. This was our daughter's idea; we have a resident duck who thinks she's a chicken living in the coop, so she bought her a swimming pool. My husband built a wooden ramp up to the edge, and now it looks like we have five or six feathered Greg Louganises.

This is Chuck. Get it? She's a chicken-duck.

Chuck has not yet taken to the pool like a duck-to-you-know-what, but I bet she will.
It's good to be fowl at the Duke Poultry Farm. Things are going swimmingly.
My wonderful son thinks maybe we should make it an in-ground pool, and Jay seems to consider that a cool idea. In that case, I'll be sorely tempted to add goldfish. I'm not just being koi.
At the moment, it's functioning as a lagoon for the dogs, Pepper the cat, the chickens and Chuck.

 Ah, Spring.

Chapters one and two of Delaney's People are now fully edited and revised. The work is progressing very smoothly. I have discovered things about my writing, such as: the word "just" creeps in sometimes.

In "Jewels" (the opener), for instance, my editor allowed me only one precious "just". I just had no idea I'd typed that word so often. It's completely unjustified. I just used it about four times. Just got carried away. If there's any justice in the world, I've learned my just lesson.

I've adjusted nicely.

If your name is Justin, Justinian or Justus, you may not come to my house. Just kidding.

Chapter two was not plagued with "justs". I just had to add some dialog and change some verb tenses, and it was just peachy.

The truth is, I'm having a great deal of fun with the revisions, and grateful to have a good editor to go over my work. I just hope the next eighteen chapters go as easily as these did.

For those who are feeling artistic, or simply want to play with something fun, I present "Silk - a magical interactive artwork". It's Yuri Vishnevsky's experiment in generative art. I love this thing . . . it's like a Spirograph on steroids. Try it. Click and drag, then watch the amazing designs fill your screen.
Silk - a magical interactive artwork
Thank you, Yuri. Beautifully done.

Love from Delta.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mr. Fluffybutt

A few days ago, our beloved Mr. Fluffybutt was eaten by a dog.

(A vicious, mean, lower-than-a-snake's-belly, prowling, good-for-nothing - well, you get the idea - dog.) Actually, the dog was just being a dog, and unfortunately chickens are just above Gravy Train on the food chain.

He was a good and gentle rooster, not the kind who would peck at the back of your leg. He seemed to sense that we humans were on his side, and welcome our help in caring for his hens.

Mr. Fluffybutt was very officious in his duties; he would run from afar and stab the ground with his wings in anger or alarm when presented with a problem in his flock. He strutted, but he wasn't overly arrogant.

I miss him a lot.

Mrs. Fluffybutt misses him, too, but has folded herself under the protective wing of Morgana-Turned-Morgan (that is another story you can find elsewhere on this blog.) Morgan is technically her nephew, I think, but that's okay.

We live in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

Our adorable, tiny, banty Aracauna hen, Peep, has gone broody (for the uninitiated, this means that Peep will sit on eggs - any eggs - with a sense of duty that defines maternal dedication. You could take an egg from just about anything out to her (newly created) Royal Brood Chamber and get her to sit on it right now.

We have an egg (a very precious egg) from Mrs. Fluffybutt that could hold the promise of a banty Cochin rooster or hen. This is a very exciting proposition, and we are watching closely for the next twenty-one days. (Go, Peep!)

Obviously, you will be updated on this blog, and inundated with pictures of whatever newly-hatched chicks Peep produces. Her "due date" is around April 6th.

We could even have a rooster named Fluffybutter (Fluffybutt - Fluffybutter - Fluffybuttest), but my sense of humor and name selection are not always fully appreciated around here. We'll see.

We also lost one of our terrific Rhode Island Reds in the attack.

R.I.P. Zeus and Mr. Fluffybutt.

Love from Delta.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Shona!

(That's Irish for 'Happy Saint Patrick's Day!')

The photo above is of fireworks at the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary. It is a place that is very special to our family for many reasons; Jay and I once sneaked up there for a magical New Year's Eve, our entire clan has climbed all over and explored it at one point or another . . . our children have even stained their clothes rolling down its rather steep hill. The Rock is a place rich in history.

This is where St. Patrick performed his first Christian baptism on the Emerald Isle. One version of the legend says he accidentally stabbed the Irish chieftain in the foot with his crozier after the ceremony, and it was mistakenly believed that foot-stabbing was necessary. Made converts a little harder to find for awhile, probably.

That last one is the view from the Cashel Palace Hotel, another favorite of ours.

Cashel is a wonderful place. We are fortunate to claim an entire family of friends there, the Delahuntys.

That's Tom with Jay. He is one of the most charming men you'll ever meet. (He taught me to bet on racehorses.)
Tom and Kathleen have a lovely family, and my brother Jay is married to their beautiful daughter, Ann (aka 'Anniepoos', aka 'The Spice Girl Who Never Performs Onstage'). Their wedding was in 2000, and it was followed by the best reception I've ever attended at the Cahir House Hotel in Cahir.

Cahir House Hotel

These are the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast.
It's where my brother proposed to Ann, and it's where I got in trouble for climbing out to the edge to look down.
(The view was breathtaking.)

My Doyle ancestors hail from the County Carlow area, north of Kilkenny.
(Dial is the Anglicized version of Doyle.)

There's a cathedral there in Old Leighlinbridge; it's called Saint Lazerian's. I've been there a number of times, and always feel a connection to that land. On my third visit, Jay and I were lucky enough to get the four-pound iron key to the church and an open invitation to look around.

Views from the back of the church:

Saint Patrick's Window

(That tiny person is me out in the graveyard.)

Here's a little more information about Saint Lazerian's - it's a fascinating place:

Two more places in Ireland you must know about . . .
(All you need to see is the website - it says it all.)
 . . . and . . .
the Giant's Causeway on the Antrim Coast. We've clambered all over these basalt columns, and it's an amazing place to visit. Some Irish might tell you that Finn McCool (Fionn mac Cumhaill) built them to walk across the sea to Scotland, but don't believe it.

There is a very interesting book called "How the Irish Saved Civilization." It's by Thomas Cahill, and he makes some compelling points about the work of Irish monks in The Dark Ages. They literally preserved Western history for the rest of the world. Have a look at the Book of Kells:

  If you're blessed enough to be Irish, or even if you're not: 

Happy Saint Patrick's Day.

Here's a wee bit of music for you - one of me own dear mother's favorites:

Sláinte and love ó Delta.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Never Forget the Feathers . . .

I really like Cee Lo Green's music. He is fresh, original, feisty . . . and he has a voice like warm honey.

Whoever decided to take Cee Lo's In Your Face Expletive Filled Song and present it at this year's Grammys with Muppets singing backup was nothing short of brilliant. Putting him in an Elton John-inspired primary colored feather extravaganza (complete with sparkly headcap) made it even better.

It makes me wonder whatever happened to Danger Mouse. Cee Lo has said that Gnarls Barkley will tour again, but Danger Mouse seems to have traveled the way of Wham!'s Andrew Ridgeley, to the Pantheon of Breakout Superstars' Abandoned Music Partners.

Oh, dear.

We first experienced his newest hit on The Colbert Report, where Cee Lo was obliged to alter his lyrics to "Fox News".

Here's a clip:

Cee Lo Green on The Colbert Report - "Fox News"

Cee Lo on his music: "That is that electric industrial Euro soul, that's what I call it . . . if I can call it anything. It truly is shapeless and formless. My style and my approach is still water, and it runs so deep."
(That was back in the early Gnarls Barkley days. Crazy.)

The Grammy performance was enhanced by Gwyneth Paltrow's vampy vocals. If you haven't seen her on Glee this year, you're really missing out. Who knew Gwyneth could go from producing super-cute children with fruity names to slinking and singing like that? I hear she's plotting a country music career after her appearance in the movie "Country Strong" last year. More power to her.

If you missed it, watch this video from the 2011 Grammys:

Cee Lo Green and Gwyneth Paltrow - "Forget You"

This is the Official Site of "The Lady Killer" himself.

Cee Lo Green

Love from Delta.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fontal Madness and Deep Thoughts

I have a thing for fonts. Scrolly, simple, clear, serif-ed and san-serif-ed, classy, silly, junky . . . I collect them.

My cousin and I refer to this fanatical font fondness as 'fontal madness'.

I also love a pithy quotation, and still treasure my twelve pound Bartlett's. These days, though, the internet

provides a plethora of material.

Today's blog combines Fontal Madness and Deep Thoughts for your consideration:

Fonts are fun.

Nice job, Billy.

You can find this font and many more on this terrific site:

It's a good font to have in your hip pocket.
Have a flourishy fun Sunday.

Love from Delta.