Here is a potpourri of very interesting historical facts that you more than likely have never heard about. It will help you to understand some of the phrases and terms we commonly use but maybe have never thought about their meanings or origins until now….
Summer is almost over, a new season is starting, and school is back in session! As you know, your Two Chums firmly believe in celebrating the good and so what better time to do just that? We are celebrating the wonderful time we have had all summer and all that the months ahead have in store. Read more
We all need to stop and rest from time to time. This comes easier and more naturally to some of us than to others. Until a few weeks ago I was one of those who resided in the “I’ll rest when I die” camp. Oh, I would claim that I could rest, or would rest, as soon as________(you fill in the blank), but those closest to me weren’t fooled by my announcements of having rested or of my plans to do so soon.
There are two kinds of English….the original, the one spoken in England, and the one we speak here in America. Your Two Chums have fun comparing words used that are completely different but mean exactly the same thing.
Jackie grew up in England and Robin here in Southern California. We thought it would be a fun exercise to show you, through two letters saying exactly the same thing, how two completely different words can mean exactly the same thing. The first letter will be the British English version and the second, the American English version. Here’s your chance to see how good of an English translator you really are. Read more
Over the last two weeks we have been linking our posts here at Two Chums, to topics that are in some way related to the Olympics. So, you might be asking yourself what coconut has to do with the Olympics or The Sweet Smell Of Success….a good question, so allow me to explain.
Ready, set, go. London is ready and the world is waiting to see the Opening Ceremonies of the XXX Olympic Games tonight. Televisions are tuned, DVR’s are set to record, sofa cushions are fluffed and eyes agog! Everything is ready. All we need now is a Gold Medal snack.
1908, 1948 and now 2012! These are the years that London has played genteel host to the Olympics and yes, by Jove, London is ready! There has been much question about whether she would be ready but, of course, in total British fashion, she IS ready to greet her guests and we have no doubt that it will be a wonderful few weeks.
When the dog days of summer kick in and you can’t seem to escape the heat, having something that is both cool and refreshing and is simple and easy to prepare is a treat for everyone to enjoy. One of those special treats is what the Mexicans call agua fresca….fresh water.
This week we are looking at things that can be transformed with paint….walls, furniture, bathtubs….wait…bathtubs? Well the bathtubs aren’t exactly painted in the traditional sense, but they can be transformed with a technique that looks like painting and gives the appearance of a whole new tub!
If you are growing herbs in your garden or in a terra cotta pot kitchen garden, you may not need to store them as you can cut just as much as you need for any given meal. But if you are buying herbs at the local farmer’s market or the grocery store or Trader Joe’s, you will want to store whatever unused portion is left to have for another day. Below are some tips for how to best store a few common herbs and keep them fresh as long as possible. Though you can wrap and store them in the refrigerator, I have found that keeping them in a cool place in one inch of water in a small glass keeps them fresh long enough for you to use them. If you think they are about to start wilting, use them up with some of the suggestions listed below.
If you have some ideas or experience with herbs you are willing to tell us about please write to us by clicking on the little envelope icon at the right side of the website or leave a comment in the comment section. We want to share your good ideas with all our chums for more joy, more love and much more abundant leaving for all. 🙂
Basil and Mint
Storing it: Keep at room temperature in a glass of water for up to a week
How to use it up: Mince and combine with sugar for an aromatic fruit topping.
Storing it: In a sealed plastic bag in the crisper for 1 to 2 weeks.
How to use it up: Chop and combine with softened unsalted butter; drop chunks on top of just-cooked steaks, pork chops, or fish.
Cilantro or Parsley
Storing it: In the refrigerator wrapped in plastic for up to 5 days.
How to use it up: Puree 1 cup leaves with 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 clove garlic to make a pesto; use on pasta or as a dip for bread.
Storing it: In the refrigerator in a sealed plastic bag for up to 5 days.
How to use it up: Whole branches make a perfect bed for roasted vegetables, or tuck them into the cavity of a chicken or other bird before roasting.
Storing it: In an unsealed plastic bag in the crisper for 3 to 5 days.
Use it up: Saute in butter until the butter browns and then store in refrigerator as a sauce for pork or chicken.
Storing it: In an unsealed plastic bag in the crisper for up to 1 week.
How to use it up: Add chopped leaves to a skillet of sausage or bacon.
This week all of our posts will be about herbs in one way or another. Today we want to talk about how to grow herbs. Growing herbs is not hard at all, in fact a child can do it. My 8 year old grandson, Jeremy, actually planted the parsley plant pictured here on my kitchen window sill. He started the plant from seeds in a little dixie cup and as they sprouted and began to grow, we transfered them to this terra cotta pot. In he walked, one day after school, and beaming he announced, “Lolli (my grandma name) this is for you. I planted some parsley and I wanted you to have it because you love to cook and I thought you would really like to have it in your kitchen.” He was so excited and I was so proud of him. There is something very satisfying, no matter what your age, about putting some seeds in the dirt, adding some water and in a few days watching the little sprouts pop their heads up out of the soil looking for some rays of sunlight. I love Jeremy and I love having this special reminder of him in my kitchen greeting me every morning.
On this day that we celebrate our freedoms and independence, it seemed fitting to consider the words of wisdom from a great American and arguably our finest President….Abraham Lincoln. There is a bounty of quotes attributed to our 16th Commander in Chief, each of them wise and profound in it’s own way.
When most people hear the term “barbeque” or “barbecue” or just “BBQ” they think of someone standing over a grill with flames, flipping burgers or steaks. Yet as anyone with southern origins will tell you, that is “grillin”…..REAL barbeque is something very different. Real barbeque is a slow method of cooking that involves smoke and a lot of time and eventually produces tender, succulent, flavorful goodness that can’t be rushed. Depending on where in the south you are, pork or beef will be the meat of choice and of course there is the difference in sauces regionally as well. But at the end of the day any meat slow cooked and infused with smokey flavor is delicious no matter which part of the country it comes from.
I love peaches. There are few things that say “summer” to me as much as a sweet, ripe peach. I am talking about the kind of peach that is so juicy you have to eat it over the sink or holding a napkin under your chin because the juice runs down your face when you bite into it. The kind of peach that is so sweet your fingers and hands are all sticky when you’re done. But you probably don’t even care because you feel like you just had a little taste of heaven. Just the fragrance that a bowl of ripe peaches gives off makes me happy. So today I am going to share some “peachy” drinks that I love and hope that you might enjoy them too.
Our “favorites” week continues today with my favorite centenarian….my mother’s first cousin, Douglas Manning. Douglas is the son of my grandfather’s older sister, Janie. This past weekend my mother and I, and two of my cousins traveled from California to Yoakum, Texas to celebrate his 100th birthday.
This week we are exploring some of our favorite things. Yesterday we talked about childhood memories of swinging, one of our favorite summer joys. Today we want to share one of our favorite breakfast foods…Lemon Ricotta Pancakes.
Summer holds so many special memories for me. As a child I spent a lot of time at family gatherings. My mother’s family was especially large, she had 67 first cousins! So there were always relatives visiting from somewhere in Texas, and all those who had made their way west and were living in California, would gather to welcome them, eat lots of good food, swap stories, sing, talk some more, eat some more, and if you were lucky enough to be a child, play all afternoon uninterrupted because the adults were too busy laughing and talking and eating to care about what you were doing.
Whenever the gathering happened to be at my Aunt Rhoda’s home, I knew the afternoon would include two things: homemade ice cream and a trip to the neighborhood park to swing on the tallest swing I had ever seen. I could spend hours on that swing, climbing through the air up into the trees and overlooking rooftops so that I felt like a bird soaring through the air. Sometimes someone would notice how high my swing was going and call out “too high” and I would have to slow my swinging down until they were busy talking again and didn’t notice.
There was something about swinging that felt exhilarating and calming all at the same time. So I made a mental note that someday when I had my own home I wanted to have a swing that would be ever at the ready for any child who wanted that glorious experience.
Since I’ve been married, we have always had a swing of some kind in our back garden but when my grandchildren were born I found the perfect swing for little ones. My sweet husband found just the right limb in our big old tree and secured the robes to hold it and in no time it was up and ready.
It is a wooden chair swing with a safety bar across the front that doesn’t allow the children to fall out when gliding through the air. And glide through the air they have, nearly every day since it went up 8 years ago. It was originally painted white but has become weather-worn with age. The children love it. Every child who comes into the garden seems to make a beeline for the swing. They wait impatiently for their turns at birthday parties and family gatherings. What I love the most about this swing are the sweet giggles that only a child full of delight can make that come sailing through the air falling on everyone in earshot.
My niece Ashley asked me the other day where I got the swing because she wants one too. Then it came to me that if I love having this swing for my grandchildren, nieces and nephews and other little friends, there just might be others of you out there that would enjoy the sight and sounds of childlike delight that these pieces of wood fashioned into a swing would bring to you as well.
I had long since forgotten the name of the place it came from, but I did a little research and found a swing like it on line. If you have children and a tree to hang a swing from, you just might want one too.
Whether you decide to buy a swing like this or not, I hope soon this summer you may hear those same sweet squeals of delight and know again this kind of childhood joy. Childhood is fleeting but there are memories to be made that will last a lifetime. It isn’t just a swing, it is one of those small things that can so easily contribute to a more abundant life full of love and joy.
I came to realize a long time ago that a little girl learns how to be woman from from her mother, but she practices on her daddy. What a joy to spend some time this week reflecting about our fathers and what they have meant to us throughout our lives. So many sweet memories have been brought to mind again for both Jackie and me this week.
It has been said, “One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.” – George Herbert
What to give such an important person in our lives as a gift that will express our love and affection? For most fathers any gift you give with love will be appreciated. But so often one hears, “Men are so difficult to buy for – ladies are easy but men are really hard!”. Well, as far as Father’s Day gifts go, the first and foremost thing that we would suggest is love – wrap it up any way you want, but the very best may be to pour it, abundantly, into a little envelope! And, by that, we mean, that you might put pen to paper and express to your father or to the father of your children just how much you love him and what it is that you love about him most.
I have the distinct privilege of penning some thoughts about that blessed group of people – fathers. Oh, how I could go on and on about my father – suffice it to say that my father was, and continues to be in my heart, very special. He is a rock – so principled and so kind. Read more
Well the week of celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II is coming to a close. In Britain and throughout the Commonwealth countries the celebrations will continue all year. But here at Two Chums we will move on to other subjects and just quietly continue to celebrate this monumental occasion. To close out the week we wanted to give you the very recipe for the chicken that was served at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation celebration 60 years ago…..thus the name…Coronation Chicken. Read more
Oh what a lovely week it has been thus far with all the grand celebrations in honor of Queen Elizabeth! Jackie and I have loved each and every minute of it, from the concert, the clothes, the fanfare and the drama of the pageantry! No one does ceremony and pageantry better than the British! And what joy to see so many people all over the world but especially in London coming together in national pride to honor their Queen.
As you have surely figured out by now, we are unashamedly fans and admirers of Her Majesty the Queen, and love knowing about all things “Royal”. We are assuming there are some of you who visit us here at Two Chums who just might feel the same. So we can’t help ourselves this week as we celebrate this most happy and extraordinary week for the subjects of the Queen who live all over the globe , Jackie being one of them as a Canadian citizen. Monday we shared some facts about the Queen but today here are some more fun facts ….or savvy secrets about Queen Elizabeth you may not know….including the recipe for the Christmas Pudding she gives as gifts every year….jolly good:)
1. She doesn’t have a passport.
Despite being history’s most widely traveled head of state—she has reportedly visited 116 countries during her 60-year reign—Elizabeth does not hold a passport. Since all British passports are issued in the queen’s name, she herself doesn’t need one. She also doesn’t require a driver’s license, though she has been known to take joyrides around her various estates in her Range Rover. Read more
Once again, England has put on her party dress in celebration of her Queen’s Diamond Jubilee! The standards are raised, the trumpets are ready to be blown and the church bells are waiting to peal! Grab your flag and prepare to party like a Royal!
This being the official week of Her Majesty the Queen’s Jubilee which marks her sixtieth year on the throne of England, we, being avid Royal Watchers, couldn’t help ourselves in sharing these facts with you. We found these on the Official Website of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
A few helpful hints today for that wonderful American past time, “Cooking on the Barbecue”. I remember when I lived in London, barbecuing was unheard of. But here in America, at the time, and indeed now, it was going on every weekend in every backyard in America! Read more
Baby Back Spareribs
Classic Potato Salad
Corn on the Cob
Homemade Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream
Baby Back Spareribs
12 lbs. ribs
Dry Rub *(see below)
1-2 bags Mesquite chips
Soak mesquite chips in water for 30 minutes. While they are soaking, prepare the ribs and the barbeque. Rub slabs of ribs generously with dry rub.* Meanwhile light a fire at one end of barbeque only. When coals turn white, spread a couple of handfuls of wood chips on top of the coals. Place ribs on the grill away from coals and fire. Cover and smoke ribs for 3-5 hours. Add more soaked wood chips every hour and maintain a temperature of about 275 degrees.
When they look good and smoky (they will be pink and a little crusty on the outside from the smoke) remove ribs from the grill. Cut the ribs apart and dip into sauce to coat.
Place on a lined cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until very tender and very crusty on the outside. Grab some napkins and taste a little bit of heaven!
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 bottle of your favorite beer
1 box (approximately 4 cups) brown sugar
2 cups dijon mustard
Mix together well. Can be made ahead and refrigerated.
Peel and chop potatoes in about 1 inch chucks. Place in a pot and add just enough water to cover. Add 1 tablespoon salt to water….(this sounds like a lot of salt but most of it is poured out when potatoes are drained). Bring water to a boil and cook potatoes until just slightly underdone, about 3-4 minutes (you will be able to pierce with a fork but potato won’t be falling apart). Drain and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, chop celery, including leaves of celery, and onion and place in a large mixing bowl. Peel eggs and grate into the bowl. Add cooled potatoes. Start adding mayonnaise, a couple large spoonfuls to start and mix together. Keep adding mayo until you have the desired consistency. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. It may take more than you would think but start by adding 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and then taste and continue adding until it tastes right. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. The potatoes will absorb the mayo as it continues to cool, so if the salad seems too dry when you take it out of the refrigerator just add little more mayo.
1 head of green cabbage
1 bunch Italian parsley
1/2 whole stalk of celery
1 bunch green onions
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 cup Best Foods Mayonnaise
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Slice cabbage very thinly and then chop to shred. Place in a large mixing bowl. Chop parsley, celery and onions and add to cabbage. In another bowl, mix together the mayo, mustard, vinegar and sugar. Add to cabbage and stir well. Taste. Add salt and pepper as necessary.
The addition of buttermilk seems like an unlikely paring with the strawberries but the little bit of tartness and tangy flavor of the buttermilk actually brings out the sweetness of the strawberries and increases their flavor.
4 cups buttermilk
4 cups heavy cream
4 cups strawberries, cut into very small pieces
2 cups sugar
6 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
Add 1 cup of the sugar to the cut up strawberries and mash with a potato masher. Set aside for 5 minutes, stirring regularly to draw out the juice. Separate eggs and whip egg whites until fairly stiff. In another bowl, beat together 1 cup of sugar, salt and the yolks of the eggs until the mixture is thick and light yellow in color. Add vanilla to yolk mixture and then mix in buttermilk and cream. Stir well to mix. Stir in strawberries and then add in whipped egg whites.
Mix well with a wire whisk. Freeze in ice cream freezer according to the manufacturers directions. The ice cream is best if you remove from the ice cream freezer when done and place in your refrigerator freezer for 1 hour to “ripen”. It is a very satisfying finish to a very satisfying meal….enjoy!
Today is the day we call Memorial Day. For most Americans, it is the signal that summer is beginning. It is a long weekend filled with gatherings at the beach or around a pool, cook outs in the park, and backyard barbeques with family and friends. I am all in favor of barbeques and love any gathering that includes my family and friends. We will be having such a gathering today ourselves and I will happily share some yummy recipes with you at the end of this post. Sadly though, many people have no real recollection that this day was originally meant to be an observance of those who gave their lives in service to their country.
When you’re really hungry nothing is more satisfying than having a great meal you’ve been dreaming about. A good meal can completely change your outlook on life and the world. Sometimes, though I find that it is what is served on the side that really makes the meal. Just like a great pair of shoes or just the right handbag can turn an otherwise ordinary outfit into something with real WOW!….a great side dish can do the same thing for a meal.
(We’ve added the video that should have been here earlier:)
Yes, we have done a lot of painting in our time! On the walls, on furniture, on clothing, you name it, we have done it. When we had our little shop called Chums, we were often out faux painting a customer’s walls in this way or that.
It was largely at Nanner’s table as a child that I learned what is of worth to me now as an adult. Nanner was my maternal grandmother, also my mentor, my guardian angel and my dearest childhood friend. The lessons I learned were of love and life, forgiveness and repentance, hope and faith. They were there for the taking among the frosty glasses of sweet tea, the creamy macaroni and cheese, the platters of crisp fried chicken and biscuits. Sometimes I watched them played out before me like other children watched cartoons or Lassie. Sometimes they just came forth in conversation between participants at the table. And sometimes they were casually passed like the radishes and black-eyed peas and sweet cold slices of cantaloupe. These were the life lessons that seemed to be doled out like an allowance might have been, but when seen, all in total, as an adult I recognize now they are a great inheritance. I can’t help feeling it a privilege and an obligation to share them now with other people who were not as fortunate as I to have such a grandmother. She was fond of reminding me “to whom much is given, much is required.” So this recounting of her recipes for living (otherwise known as wisdom) and recipes for good food from my family’s table is my attempt at giving back from that with which I am so richly blessed.
We have talked a lot this week about being sure to hold onto your joy throughout the weeks and months leading up to your wedding and today we are really stressing that point as, inevitably, some things will go “sideways”, as they say, and you want to be in a position, emotionally, to handle those moments well. Read more
Oh my goodness, you have decided to get married and are planning for that wonderful event to take place. It might be months away, it might be two years away but the first thing you are going to want to do, especially if you have relatives and friends coming from all over the country and globe, is to send out “Save The Date” cards. Read more
Weddings these days can be huge affairs. Yes, marriage is a very important step and deserves to be given a very important place. Just because you cannot have a huge wedding, mind you, does not mean that you have a “small marriage”. The important thing in a marriage, obviously, is the love that is shared between the husband and wife. Money has nothing to do with that, clearly!
Getting engaged, for most people, is synonymous with joy. Everything about the occasion is joyous! How he actually asked you, the beauty of your ring, the idea of planning a wedding, and on and on. Oh, what an absolutely happy time it is and yes, it is really important to hold onto that joy. Read more
Happy Mother’s Day to all of our Chums! Whether you are a mother or not, we feel sure that you all have wonderful mothering qualities that you use to bless.
The Post you got this morning gives you a taste of what’s to come next week!
With love from you Two Chums.
No one knows pure joy like a woman who has just given birth….oh what joy it is! For me, that moment when I first knew this joy was 35 years ago today when my first child, Sara Joy was born. Randy and I had only been married 5 months when I found out I was pregnant. We spent our first anniversary in our first Lamaze class. It wasn’t what we had expected to be doing on that day but we were both very excited to be becoming a mommy and daddy.
Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth day of May, commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). As a consequence, in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Puebla but not in the rest of the country. But it will surely be celebrated here all over the United States.
Isn’t it interesting how one word or phrase can be said and depending on who is hearing it, mean two completely different things? If you asked a random group of people what they think of when they hear the words May Day you will get very different responses that will often run along gender lines.
It seems that whenever you mention oatmeal there is one of two responses…”I love oatmeal” OR “Yuck! I can’t stand oatmeal.” Perhaps the second response is due to the fact that nearly everyday someone, somewhere is serving up some sticky, nasty goo, and referring to it as oatmeal.
Oh goodness, what an absolutely fabulous wedding, from start to finish. In fact, from the time that we heard that Prince William had asked his college sweetheart (and commoner), Catherine Middleton, for her hand in marriage, we were glued to the television and newspapers to follow along. Their courtship had been a long one – a long one with a small split happening a few years into it. Read more
On January 20, 1936, King George V, grandson of Queen Victoria, died and his eldest son, Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David became that day, King Edward VIII.
It is hard to even imagine for most of us, what the life of a royal must be like. We, who are not of royal lineage, can go about our daily business making decisions, and sometimes mistakes, for that matter, with little or no input save, maybe, that from our family. But for all the other privileges that may accompany wearing the crown, this freedom to choose without the input of a government and national opinion, is not a luxury that is among them.
As the first anniversary of the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, approaches later this week, we couldn’t help but reflect on the their love story and the fascination the world has for everything “royal”. So your Two Chums thought it would be fitting, (and fun) to get “caught up”, as it were, on the other love stories that have surrounded the British throne. Today we begin with one of the most famous and arguably the most culturally influential of all the monarchs of the British or any empire, Queen Victoria and the great love of her life, Prince Albert.
What fun! You have decided to give a dinner party …… now, what will you wear?
When you are in the planning stages of an event, one of the things you will think about is what you would like the “dress” to be. The “dress” sets the stage for the type of evening you are going to enjoy. You know, years ago, in the Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire days, when people went out to dinner, they more often than not, wore “Black Tie”. By “Black Tie” it is meant that the gentleman wears a tuxedo and the lady wears a dressy dress – not necessarily a long dress but a party dress, as we like to call them. We have often had parties where “Black Tie” was the attire and, oh boy, have we loved having them! There is something rather special when everyone who comes in your door has made a huge effort to dress up to come to your party. It denotes an elegance about the evening. Very rarely these days does one get invited to a dinner party that is Black Tie but, on the other hand, many weddings are still “Black Tie”. When you see “Black Tie” in the bottom right corner of your invitation, be sure that your husband, boyfriend, partner, wears a tuxedo and that you dress up accordingly. When those two words are written on an invitation, there is not an option. He must show up in a tuxedo! If he does not own one, be sure to help him rent one. If, on the other hand, your invitation states “Black Tie Optional”, your hostess is letting you know that the occasion is a special one and that, ladies, you need to dress up. Gentlemen, if you do not own a tuxedo, no need to rent one – a dark suit will do just as well.
If you would like your dinner party to be a little bit special, you might say “Cocktail Attire” which would mean that dressing up is in order! Until a few years ago, “Cocktail Attire” would automatically have meant a jacket and tie for the gentlemen. Today, especially here in California where we live, things are a little more casual and a lot of gentlemen do not don a tie very often. There are certain private clubs which still maintain a “jacket and tie” rule so if you are giving a party at a private club or have been invited to such an evening, make sure you know the dress. These clubs usually have jackets and ties on hand to lend to a gentleman, should he turn up without them but how much better for him to be in clothes of his own choosing!
As hostess, you will set the tone. If you have told your guests that it is a casual evening, be sure that you dress casually. Otherwise, your guests will feel very uncomfortable.
Choose something that you feel great in. If you are having a problem thinking of something, remember what we said about the “little black dress“! Certainly, that is always appropriate. If you are the one doing all the cooking and serving for your dinner party, make sure you are in something that is comfortable and practical. Do not wear a top with long, flowy sleeves, for example, which might catch on fire when you put the peas on to cook! That top is better saved for an evening when you are out and being served!
My father’s job, as I was growing up, required a lot of entertaining. It seemed that most evenings, my darling parents were entertaining or being entertained. My mother had a wonderful wardrobe full of stunning dresses which she wore extremely well. Fortunately for my father, my mother loved it all and did it beautifully – always with a smile on her face and love in her heart. I am grateful to have learned from her – she taught by doing herself!
Make sure, when you are giving you next dinner party, that you add to the love, joy and abundant living in the world!