Thursday, January 31, 2008

Signing the Book

It's a Southern thing, I think---this signing the book. You know about that, don't you? I had a meeting in a town just up the road today, and Tom said, "While you are there, could you go by the funeral home and sign the book for Blank and Blank"? Sure, I said---so, I stopped by the funeral home and signed two books. The families were not there, but the books were ready, and several had signed ahead of me. And so, on the page headed "Friends", I signed our names.

We have guests coming for the weekend, a big event to host on Saturday, and we did not think we could go to the visitation or funerals. By signing the book, however, we convey to our friends that we are thinking about them and remembering them in our prayers, as indeed we are.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Too Many Fun Things to Do; Too Few Weekends

If you are like me, you check out a blog, and you say, "why in the world don't they update this thing"? Well, refer to title.
Along with several other couples, we hosted a wedding party at the Farm--75 people came for our Pearls and Pork Party. It was a great theme--we provided pearls for all the girls, and each guest brought "Pearls of Wisdom" (advice and tips) for the bride and groom. Some were serious, some funny. Photos above show the bride and groom reading the "Pearls"; some of the guests; and the cute half of the hosts. Many good wishes to Kelli and Jay!
And then---on Sunday, our Columbus children, suffering from cabin fever, met us at the farm. We ate party leftovers, walked in the woods, and generally enjoyed the nice weather.

And then---when we arrived home and unpacked from the weekend, we found the cutest pictures of a birthday boy in Tampa. Alexander will turn one on Thursday, and he had his party on Sunday. I just have to share some of those pics. You'll see Alexander just looking cute; him during his first week at day care with his favorite teacher; with his mom at the Gasparilla Pirate Fest in Tampa; and him with Mom and Dad.

And then---we began planning for another big event this weekend at the Farm, but that's a story for another day. Stay tuned.

So you see--sometimes blogging just has to take the back seat!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Alabama Truffles

Well, I told you we would try some new recipes and food. This is my take on the Alabama Truffles that we tried at the Bistro last week. Let me say in the beginning that I believe a recipe is simply a starting place. I do not observe recipes strictly (which is why I am not a baker), and I don't measure everything in the ones I create. Cooking is, after all, an artistic endeavor.

I started with the grits:

Cooked grits (prepare as for 4-5 servings; they will keep);
1 cup Smoked Gouda or other cheese--grated;
Crabmeat, shrimp or other protein to stuff ;
1 or 2 eggs;
Panko Bread Crumbs (your may find on international aisle or in Asian markets).

Cook grits as directed. When the grits are tender and thick, add one-half to one cup of grated cheese depending on taste. I used Smoked Gouda. You can use some of the grits immediately or you can chill them in the refrigerator until you need them.

I took a heavy T. of cold grits and wrapped them around half of a large boiled shrimp because I couldn't find fresh crabmeat in Dothan. I shaped it into a ball---a little larger than a golf ball. Then, I dipped it into a beaten egg and rolled it in the Panko bread crumbs. I dropped the balls into a deep fryer and cooked until golden brown--two to three minutes. I removed the balls from the oil and drained them on a paper towel. As you can see, they held together well, and they were a nice color.

I served the Truffles with a homemade remoulade sauce--made to taste with mayonnaise, finely diced green onions and celery, minced fresh garlic, and ketchup. I like to use Duke's Mayonnaise. If you find it in your market, give it a try.

Tom thought I did well for a first try; however, he wants me to make it with crabmeat. Our top rating is "Good Enough for Gourmet Supper Club"--and we think this is a potential winner. I may practice a couple more times before we introduce it to GSC in March.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Friday NIghts

Don't you love Friday nights? The end to a week of work; a time to unwind; a time to plan for the weekend; a time to celebrate. We celebrated last night by going to a new restaurant with friends. The Bistro is a struggling downtown restaurant, but it was full last night. It will seat about forty, and almost that many were there. The ambiance is wonderful; had I not known Foster Street was just outside the door, I might have expected 76th Street in NYC. The Bistro was filled with the sounds of people having fun, of wine bottles being opened, of the wait staff patiently describing the menu selections or answering questions. The menu hit of the night for our table was the appetizer called Alabama Truffles--you would never guess! As the plate came to the table, it held three tennis-ball size "truffles"---smoked Gouda flavored grits wrapped around a tablespoon of crab meat, molded into a ball and deep fried. Those three were certainly enough for four people for they were very rich. I'm already figuring out how to replicate that.

I am reminded of one of the quotes from the wine menu at Commander's Palace:

"The wines that one best remembers are not necessarily the finest that one has ever tasted, and the highest quality may fail to delight so much as some far more humble beverage drunk in more favorable surroundings".

The evening was memorable, not because of the wine, not because of the food, not because of the atmosphere; rather, it was memorable because it was a celebration of work well done, of friends enjoyed, and of good things to come. Here's to many more Happy Friday Nights for all of us!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

You Can't Send a Duck to Eagle School

I'm reading this short, simple little book about leadership because that's something we stress at the College and especially in my division. In addition, though, aren't we all called upon to lead at some point? Isn't leadership something we develop over a life time? We might provide leadership at work, in our families, or maybe even in a volunteer organization.

Anyway, click on the title for a short clip.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Simple Things

It doesn't get any better than Saturday night at the Farm. Four friends joined us. Among the six, four grew up together, so the history of the group was wonderful--so many stories, so much laughter, so many good times shared.

The weather was just cool enough; the night sky was clear above the pecan trees. See photo above. The wine was plentiful; Ken's Caesar Salad and Tomato Soup were to die for; and the ice cream with blueberries and Grand Marnier wasn't bad either.

So what makes a good time--the setting? the cost of the wine? the quality of the wine glass? the complexity of the dinner? The Roneys determined long ago that people make a good time. It's hosts with a plan; it's interesting guests; it's conversation shared; it's memories made. The humblest home can be the site of the most pleasant gathering.

We've talked with our children about entertaining, and we've urged them not to wait for everything to be perfect. We've encouraged them to be the catalyst for bringing people together. With a little planning, an evening can be both simple and memorable.

Ours certainly was.

Monday, January 7, 2008


The trappings of Christmas and 2007 are put away, and 2008 is here. What will it bring? I am reminded of that song, Que Sera Sera---what will be, will be.

Just a few days ago I found a picture of the group with whom we spent New Year's Eve 1999--fourteen of us, the women in black, the men in black tie. It was a lovely evening, full of expectation and excitement and a little apprehension. We weren't sure what would happen with computer systems or the stock market or transportation systems and how our every day lives might be affected at 12:01 a.m. 2000. As it turned out, there was no effect at all that day, but oh, my---what has happened since!

It was 2001 when the changes really began for us. First, the events of September 11 changed the world for all of us. The ripples and reverberations of that day affect us every day, and we tend to measure time and change, not with the year 2000 as we all expected, but instead with September 11, 2001.

On the positive side, and for us personally, Andrew finished college in December that year and married Tara in 2002. In 2003, Tom and I remodeled the farm house and bought a Harley, which gave birth to two new avocations for us. Elizabeth married Afonso in 2004. Brooks was born in 2006, and Alexander joined us in 2007.

So, you see, we are excited and expectant about 2008--we can't wait to see what it brings!