Tuesday, February 2, 2010

February 2010

Volume 6 Issue 2

*** Random Thoughts

Maybe you do this, too: Each year after the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I begin to look forward to January – a big, spacious, month full of easy days. Lamplight and lazy afternoons, wool socks and watching favorite old movies, laughing with and catching up with friends around a table, time for good stuff, unrushed time.

Almost every year, the reality is that the weeks following the holidays are busier and hectic than I thought they’d be. It’s a bit of a letdown, the stress and the hurry that follows me from December.

In February I wanted to write lots of notes, get caught up on photos and putting them in albums, write more, blog more, think more, make some homemade Valentine’s cards, bake lots of Valentine’s goodies, do all kinds of stuff.

Some of these things I did but do you know what I have discovered? Doing nothing – absolutely nothing – is underrated. Down with multi-tasking. Let’s just sit and be.

If this were before Valentine’s Day it’d be even more appropriate:
Do you know NieNie? If not, I invite you to read her story. She is a young wife and mother, creative and vibrant. Last year she and her husband were terribly burned in a plane crash. She faces surgery and uncertainty and her story blows me away. Please go here and read her story that was an article in the Arizona Republic. You may want to have tissue handy. It’s a true love story in every sense of the word: love for her family, her husband, God.

NieNie’s blog


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*** Great Quotes

He who does not get fun and enjoyment out of every day … needs to reorganize his life. — George Matthew Adams

*** Fun Food Idea

Pasta with a cheesy spinach sauce topped with baked chicken meatballs: I love this for weeknights. We’ve found we can freeze the meatballs to have later with marinara sauce and spaghetti.

This is a modified version of Rachel Ray’s Florentine Mac and Cheese and Roast Chicken Sausage Meatballs.
about 12 ounces pasta, such as penne
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
Black pepper
2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
2 teaspoons fennel seeds (I always leave out the fennel seeds because I can’t abide the flavor of them. Licorice, anise, whatever – yuk.)
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
1 egg
3/4 cup bread crumbs, plus more, if needed*
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 10-ounce package chopped frozen spinach
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg, eyeball it

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Place a large pot of water on to boil for pasta. When it comes to a boil, salt it and add the pasta to cook to al dente. Strain pasta and reserve 1 cup cooking liquid.

While the water is coming to a boil, in a large mixing bowl combine the chicken, salt and pepper, rosemary, fennel seeds (optional – obviously), garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano, egg, and bread crumbs.

*If the mixture seems too wet, add a handful of bread crumbs and mix together.

Form a bunch of smallish balls, or eight largish ones.

Coat meatballs in a couple of tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and lightly grease a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Arrange balls on the baking sheet and roast 16 to 18 minutes until juices run clear.

Defrost spinach in microwave and set aside.

While the meatballs roast, in a medium sauce pot over medium heat, melt butter, whisk in flour, cook 1 minute then whisk in stock and milk, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and thicken 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 cup grated Parmigiano and reduce heat on lowest setting.

Wring spinach completely dry in clean kitchen towel then separate as you add it to the sauce. Also add the reserved 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Toss pasta with the spinach-white sauce and adjust seasonings.

Serve pasta with meatballs.

In the Kudzu Kitchen:

What not to do. Ever.

Recipes from the cooking demonstration I did:


Bread Pudding with Praline Sauce

*** Pass It On

If there’s someone you think would enjoy this newsletter, please forward this issue in its entirety. Email me at kudzuuu at gmail dot com to subscribe.

*** Hit the Highlights

It must be January: birthday is in the air

Love this

The inside of my refrigerator: show & tell

House story: Family room

My dream job

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“Keetha DePriest Reed's "More Culinary Kudzu: Recollections and Recipes from Growing Up Southern" is part cookbook, part collection of wonderful essays on food, family and growing up Southern and altogether great fun…

I would very highly recommend "More Culinary Kudzu" to anybody who enjoys good food and good writing as well as to anybody who wants to find out more about the South. As for me, I only have one question left - how do I get invited to one of their family reunions?” – review by ReaderViews.com

*** Recommended Reading

Anna Karenina, that’s what I recommend. I just read it for the first time. My high school and college English courses did not include any Russian writers so I’m a little late to the party. I love Tolstoy and will read more of his work and soon. Although – I think I may choose a volume of short stories next. Anna Karenina is epic, a masterpiece, it’s wonderful, and boy howdy is it long.

Next month’s newsletter will have more books here; my to-read bookshelf at home is loaded up. Can’t wait!

(Since the photo, about a half dozen more to-be-read books have been added.)

Books I read last month.

*** Adorable Thing My Child Said

Talking about a fundraiser for Relay for Life at his school:
The class that raises the most money gets a sock hock!

Then there was the time he was talking about wanting to see the new Chipmunks movie, the squeakel. I corrected how he pronounced “sequel” several times. Right up until I saw the title of the movie - Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.

*** Mississippi Writers Guild

The Mississippi Writers Guild sponsors writer workshops, conferences, writer retreats and reputable writing contests. Membership dues are only $40.00 per year.

The Mississippi Writers Guild is a non-profit association of writers from all over the state and is a growing part of Mississippi’s literary art landscape.

*** Calendar

Saturday, March 6 – Mississippi Writers Roundtable, Delta State University, Cleveland, Miss.

Sunday, March 28 – Palm Sunday

Sunday, April 4 – Easter

Saturday, April 10 – World Catfish Festival, Belzoni, Mississippi and my 20th class reunion. My word. Twenty years. How did that happen?

Monday, April 12 – I’m speaking at the National Library Week luncheon in Winona.

*** Reminders and Unsubscribe Info.

If you would like to unsubscribe from this newsletter, simply send an email with “unsubscribe” in the subject line to kudzuuu at gmail dot com - we’ll miss you but won’t harass you about staying or coming back.

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