Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Nutwoody Weekend

Things are pretty quiet here at the ol' ranch. It's been a rather gloomy and cool weekend, especially for mid-August! We had a nice visit with my parents yesterday. We had said we were going to pick up some lunch on our way there, but Mom called in the morning and said that she had something planned. It was a light lunch: pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, macaroni and cheese (my Mom makes the best mac & cheese EVER), sliced tomatoes, homemade applesauce, and they sent a half a watermelon home with us. I thought I was going to pop! But anyone who knows my Mom knows exactly what I'm talking about, and they're probably chuckling right now.

Ken managed to get the lawn mowed before it rained, and it's been raining off and on since. We had a fun conversation last night with our friends in California, Kim and Steve. They're both teachers and they return to school this week, but they had a nice summer and the fishin' was good, although not spectacular. They did get to see a bobcat, though. How neat is that? They had a fun trip to Vegas this summer, where they saw "Spamalot," and they said they'll be ready to see it again when we manage to meet there in the next year or so (no plans as of yet, but it's something we all want to do). They always make us laugh, and we look forward to seeing them again!

This morning, we read the Sunday paper, then Ken did some stuff for work while I finished the book I've been reading (more in a moment). We've seen lots of bird activity this morning, and I counted a band of 14 turkeys hanging out in the back yard. Now I've got the laundry going, and time to write a bit. What a treat to have a laidback weekend like this. Hopefully it will be clear enough for Ken to grill some brats for dinner tonight, and I've got some baked beans in the fridge, along with some marinating cukes and onions. I've never put a recipe up here before, but this is something my Mom used to whip up when I was a kid, and it's worth preserving. I'm not sure if it's a strictly Midwestern thing, but most people from the Midwest know about this.

Cucumbers and Onions

Slice cucumbers and soak in salt water for a little while. Thinly slice some onion, preferably Vidalia. For the sauce, mix up some Miracle Whip, milk, vinegar, and a little sugar. Don't make it too thin, because you're going to be adding it to the cukes. It should be a little tangy, but a little sweet at the same time. Drain the cukes, add the onions (separated into rings), and pour the Miracle Whip mixture over it. Mix it well and let it sit in the fridge at least overnight.

You'll notice that I didn't put any actual amounts in there, because there are none. Mom just always made it to taste, and that's how I do it, too (same with deviled eggs). You can make as much or as little as you like, although with this latest batch I used two cukes and one large-ish onion. It's been in the fridge for a few days now, so it's going to be some good stuff. Mmm!

As for the book, it's taken me a while (just no time to read for long periods of time lately), but I finished The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. A+, most excellent, one of the best books I've read in a while! If you like vampires--or books about them, I should say--and I do, I do, this is just a fascinating read. Very well-researched, and rich with detail. Somehow, she manages to make Vlad Dracula a somewhat sympathetic figure. (Anne Rice did this with Lestat and Marius and others in her Vampire Chronicles, but this author managed to do it with none other than Dracula himself. Impressive.) How can you not like a guy who loves books, and has collected rare and unknown books for 500 years? Well, because he was a terrible person in life, and continued his fiendish ways after his death, or undeath. But you still can't help but have a glimmer of admiration for someone so committed to defending his homeland, and such a scholar (a fact about him which he says not many people realize). Just a fine, fine piece of writing, very entertaining, and I recommend it highly. Even though the author graduated from Michigan. AGH! There's the REAL horror story. <grin>

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