Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I suppose some people hate to see the autumn leaves floating to the ground, a sure sign that winter is coming soon. While the autumn reds and golds fill my imagination with plans for some future canvas, I too dread the winter. The crisp winds, making those leaves crackle under foot, make me walk faster during my morning walks with the Mighty Zeus. They chill me to the bone; they make me dream of warm, comforting foods as we scurry back  home. How I would love to open the door to the aroma of fresh baked bread,  bacon sizzling on the griddle,  warm maple syrup....but alas, we go to the kitchen and I bring out the Kibble and Bits while Zeus does  his version of the River Dance around his little bowl. What can I say....my life is exhilarating.

As for that fresh baked bread, the sizzling bacon, the warm maple syrup....what I really wanted after this evening's last walk of the day,was a bowl of warm creamy polenta. You know how you have a special food that just fills the bill, no matter what that bill might be? For me, it is warm creamy polenta. It always makes everything okay.

I know many people who want a comfort food from their childhood...something their mother made for them. Others want a traditional or regional food. I know a man who wants cornbread crumbled in a bowl with buttermilk poured over it. It must be an Alabama thing; I personally can't imagine that concoction making anyone feel  anything but nauseous,certainly not comforted!
Curiosity got the better of me, so I started asking around "What is your favorite comfort food?" I, of course, got the usual answers...."my Mom's potato salad", and "meatloaf and mac and cheese" and "fried chicken"....but I also got such answers as "A simple rice bowl dish called oyako donburi. It's just chicken and egg over rice, with onions and a light broth" from a Japanese woman and how about "Jaeger Schnitzel"? German, of course. So, I suppose geography has a lot to do with it. I wonder how many people here in Kansas City would answer with "Barbecue!"
What was the number one answer? You probably guessed it.....
            Grilled Cheese Sandwich  
           and Creamy Tomato Soup!
Here is a great Grilled Cheese recipe for you so when you are cold, lonely, down in the dumps, try it. It is from a blog out of  Canada
  It's called Closet Cooking.
JalapeƱo Popper Grilled
Cheese Sandwich
A jalapeno popper inspired grilled cheese sandwich with roasted jalapeno peppers, cream cheese, jack and cheddar cheese and crumbled tortilla chips for a bit of crunch
2 jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
  2 slices sour dough bread
  1 tablespoon butter, room temperatur
  2 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
  1/2 cup jack and cheddar cheese, shredded
  1 tablespoon tortilla chips, crumbled

1.Place the peppers on a baking sheet with the cut side facing down.
2.Place the baking sheet on the top shelf in the oven and broil until the outer layer of the skin has blackened, about 8-14 minutes.
3.Place the peppers in a zip-lock bag or other sealable container, seal and let them cool until you can handle them, about 20 minutes.
4.Remove the skins from the peppers. The skins should easily "pinch" off.
5.Butter the outside of each slice of bread and spread the cream cheese on the inside. Sprinkle half of the cheese on the cream cheese of one slice of bread, top with the jalapenos, crumbled tortilla chips, the remaining cheese and finally the other slice of bread.
6.Assemble sandwich and grill until golden brown and the cheese has melted,
about 2-3 minutes per side.
Darn! I'm still thinking about Polenta!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Why do they treat little old ladies like little old ladies? My 6 year old PC is about shot....my 5 year old laptop is getting more stubborn everyday. So, when I heard about the new Microsoft Surface, I thought maybe I should investigate. Well, it looks just as technical as the Apple products! You know what that means don’t you? This little old lady is going to have to learn some new tricks. I hate that.  I’ve just mastered the art of texting (almost, sort of,  except for the strange abbreviations...I'm just not clever enough) . Now I have to learn that thing with dragging things around the screen, stretching it, shrinking it, ......I’m nervous.... It seems to me that if I save and budget for several months to be able to pay for this new computer, it ought to be simple to use. Maybe I will just nurse these old Dells along for a month or so.

Great News!...the Somerset Ridge Painters are self-publishing a cookbook! There are 9 of us and I can’t imagine a more inventive bunch of women. Our intention is to publish a series of cookbooks. I think I’ve gained 10 pounds just typing the recipes! We are working fast and furiously to have our first cookbook ready for the shelves before Thanksgiving!
I can’t say any more....but stay tuned, I will tell you more very soon.

Happy Birthday Mom!
My Mom just celebrated her 94th birthday. Lots of get-togethers and some of my favorite relatives came to help her party. My sister Ann and her husband Bruce, came from North Carolina. As usual, genealogy crept into the conversation. I mentioned the old cassette tape with the interview of my grandfather saying his “mother’s people came from the Lake Como region in Northern Italy”, but that I had no luck in finding who was the first Estes to leave Italy. Ann said she remembered hearing the part about how an Estes had left Italy for Scotland after trying to invent dynamite back in the 1800s and accidentally blowing up the village there by the lake. He had to flee not only the village, not only the region, but apparently, the country! I figure if he actually blew up the village, he must have indeed invented dynamite....but credit for the invention was given to Alfred Nobel (of the “Nobel Peace Prize”) stating it was the first safely manageable explosive stronger than black powder. Ahhh, I see the difference......Just think, if he had been more careful, they would be awarding the “Estes Peace Prize”!

So, if you had just blown up a village on Lake Como in 18-hundred something....how would you flee Italy and escape to Scotland? That is a long way to walk! Looks like I have my work cut out for me. Too bad I can’t go to Scotland....it certainly would  be easier.

The Tyrol

When my ancestor left Lake Como, he left behind some of the world’s greatest food. Northern Italy isn’t known for tomato sauces....not in the land of butter and cheese! The hills and mountainsides around beautiful Lago de Como are dotted with herds of dairy cattle. To the east across Northern Italy is the Tyrol, a beautiful area with an amazing blend of Italian, German and Austrian foods.


One of those foods is a smoked ham known as speck.
This recipe features pasta, speck and heavy cream.....heavenly!

Creamy Tagliatelle with Speck                       serves 4
3/4 pound fresh tagliatelle or fettuccine (store-bought is fine)
4 scallions, including some green part, cut into thin rounds
1/4 pound speck thinly sliced, and the slices chopped (see note)
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Set pasta water to boil, and when it does salt it and cook the pasta.
In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet and saute the scallions and the speck briefly. Stir in the cream, check seasoning, and keep the sauce warm until the pasta is done.
Drain the pasta when it's done, and turn it into the skillet. Turn the heat up to high and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Serve at once.
Note: purists will frown, but you can use either lean pancetta or bacon (thinly sliced, and low in sugar) if you cannot find speck. If you use bacon, crisp it briefly and drain away some of the fat before adding it to the scallions because bacon is fattier than speck.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hello again. I have decided I’ve had enough of a break for now, and besides, I have a blog that is anxious to be posted. So, I have placed myself at the computer once again.

Not that I have been away from the computer….the Somerset Ridge Painters are doing a cookbook (artists are almost always fabulous and very imaginative cooks!). I volunteered to do the typing. My typing teacher at Wyandotte High School must be rolling over in his grave! I was never able to pass the 20 word a minute test….sad, but true.

So, back to blogging…..

Today, October 25th , Col. Arch Tucker would have celebrated his 86th Birthday. At one point in my life, I would have considered that really old…..Today, not so much. After all, age is all about how you feel; your outlook on life. Arch had a special way of looking at his life. I truly think he thought of himself as a 22 year old fighter pilot for most of his adult life, and he had the personality and, shall we say the “zest for life” to pull it off. He always had that wonderful robust laugh; a laugh that could make everyone in the ballroom stop and turn his direction. Yes, it was loud, but most important, it came all the way from his toes! When Arch laughed, everyone laughed.

The Colonel was at his finest when he was telling one of his many Air Force stories. Arch was in 3 wars, but could always find a fun way to tell you about it. I suspect most Fighter Pilots are the same. I have met hundreds….I’ve listened to them tell their stories….they are all great story tellers (and I suspect they are all great story embellishers).

Arch and his F-86
 So, Happy Birthday, Arch! I will open a bottle of Flyboy Red and remember all of the wonderful times with you.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
oil painting by Kay Tucker

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek

Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek
Oil Painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection


oil painting by Kay Tucker

Kansas Storm

Kansas Storm
oil painting by Kay Tucker, Private Collection

Watercolor Collage

Watercolor Collage

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time
48"x36" sculptural painting by Kay Tucker