My Virtual Reality – Books

One of my many interest that I promised to exploit through this blog, was movies and reading.  I realized the area that I have shared the least is my love of books and reading.  You wouldn’t be able to tell from my blog, but I read almost everyday, and read over 70 books lasts year, on my then newly aquired kindle.

So, I tried to think of  a catchy name for my book post on my blogs – I’m leaning toward “My Virtual Reality”.  Why? ? ?  Cause I get lost in a book.  I read to get away from every day life.  A good book calls me to find out what my characters – virtual new friends – are doing next.  How they get out of whatever scrape they are in.  Did they find Mr./Mrs. Right.  Do they stay together.

I like a lot of different genres, from romance (of course),  to science fiction, detective to smut, from futuristic to kings and queens of old.  I love Sagas, long books with on-going characters, or generations.  The more detail the better.

So look for my book reviews and discussions.  I love the opportunity to “talk” a book with a fellow reader.

Published in: on January 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Happy Hour @ 1102

Dandy Shandy

Now, I’m not a beer drinker, which is why this is probably the first beer based drink on Happy Hour @ 1102.   But if I do drink beer, I prefer a dark beer.  So this recipe joined with my favored ginger beer, sounded like a good combination.  We’ll see . . .

Dandy Shandy


  • ounces good quality dark stout or porter beer (or nonalcoholic beer) (1/2 cup)
  • ounces chilled ginger ale or ginger beer (1/2 cup)


Place dark stout beer in a serving glass.

Pour ginger ale atop. Makes 1 (8-ounce) serving.

Nutrition facts:  Calories 97, Protein 1 gm , Carbohydrate 16 gm, Sugar 11 gm, Sodium (mg) 12,

Published in: on January 27, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Soups on @ 1102

Last Week Soup:  Tomato & Fresh Basil Soup

My Rating:  *** 3 out of 5

Comments:  The soup was O.K.  It had a fresh taste.  It heated up well in the microwave, making it good for lunches.  I split the batch in half, and only added the cream to the second half when I was ready to eat it.  I added a teaspoon of sugar to the second half to cut the acidity of the tomatoes.  That helped with the taste.


Mushroom Soup


1/4 cup Butter

1 8 oz pkg  (3 cups) Sliced Mushrooms

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

3 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon basil leaves crushed

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup milk

1.  Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat.

2.  Add mushrooms, onions and celery

3. Cook and stir until tender

4.  Stir in Flour, basil, salt and pepper.

5.  Cook 1 minute or until smooth and bubbly – stirring constantly.

6.  Gradually add chicken broth and milk.

7.  Cook until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.  DO NOT BOIL.

Published in: on January 25, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Happy Hour @ 1102




  • 1 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch of chili powder
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup almond milk (can substitute Irish Creme, coffee-flavored liqueur or milk)
  • Splash of agave nectar (can substitute honey or maple syrup)
  • 1 oz. Silver tequila
  • Paprika
  • Cinnamon stick


In a saucepan over low heat add the cocoa powder, cinnamon, chili powder and cayenne pepper. Toast until spices begin to release their aromas, about a couple of minutes. Using a small whisk or wooden spoon, slowly incorporate the almond milk. Raise the temperature to medium-high and bring to a slow simmer. Stir in the agave nectar and remove from the heat. Rim a mug by dipping into a saucer of water, blotting and dipping into saucer of paprika. Pour in tequila. Add hot cocoa mixture. Stir with a cinnamon stick and serve.

Published in: on January 20, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Soup’s On @ 1102

Last Week Soup: Buttermilk Squash Soup

My Rating:  * * * * *    5 out of 5 Stars

Comments:  I got a hit on the first try.  The only problem was that Summer Squash isn’t in season.  This Summer and Fall when yellow squash is plentiful, this recipe will be a staple.  Now the Star of this Soup is the Cumin Butter.   Ooooh – take the recipes advice and make a double batch.  Here’s my picture.  Yeah, it really came out looking that pretty!


Tomato and Fresh Basil Soup


1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion minced

2 pounds ripe Italian plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato paste

2 tablespoons shredded fresh basil, plus a few leaves for garnish

2/3 cup heavy cream

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.   Heat the oil and butter in a large sauce pan until foaming.  Add the onion and cook slowly for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft, but do not let brown.

2.  Stir in the tomatoes and garlic, stock, white wine, and sun-dried tomato paste, with salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil.  Lower the heat, half-cover the pan, and simmer slowly for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to stop the tomatoes from sticking to the bottom.

3.   Process the soup with the shredded basil in a food processor or blender.  Press through a strainer into the rinsed pan.

4.   Add the heavy cream and heat through, stirring:  Do not let the soup approach the boiling point.  Check the consistency and add more stock, if necessary.  Adjust the seasoning to taste, pour into warm bowls, and garnish with whole basil leaves.  Serve at once.

This recipe from The SOUP BIBLE

Published in: on January 18, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Happy Hour @ 1102

Ginger Champagne  Cocktail

Just because the Holidays are over there is no need to put away the Champagne.  I like this bubbly wine, and you can  usually get a decent bottle relatively cheap.  Plus any good mix master always has at least 1 bottle of champagne around for special occasions.  So try this one for your @ Home Happy Hour.  Enjoy!

Twinkling Ginger Champagne Punch


  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light-color corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • tablespoons finely snipped crystallized ginger
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 750 milliliter bottle champagne, chilled


1.  In a small saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, water, and candied ginger. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vodka; cool to room temperature. Cover and chill for 4 hours or overnight. Strain the vodka mixture to remove the candied ginger; discard ginger.

2.  Pour vodka mixture into a large bowl. Slowly pour the champagne down side of bowl; stir gently with an up-and-down motion to mix.

3.  To serve, ladle punch mixture into champagne glasses or punch cups. Serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.

nutrition facts:  Calories 150, Carbohydrate 16 gm, Sodium 13 mg

Published in: on January 13, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Soup’s On @ 1102

This is  the first week for Soup’s On!  In the Future, last weeks soup and my ratings of it will appear here.  I would love to hear your results and reviews if you’re cooking along with me.  

Buttermilk Squash Soup

Buttermilk Squash Soup Recipe

I used yellow summer squash here, but you can certainly substitute any green summer squash/zucchini. I also do a version with peas – also good with the cumin butter. And while we’re on the topic, it’s nice to have the cumin brown butter on hand, so if you think it sounds like something you might like make a double or triple batch of it.

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 cup  unsalted butter
fine grain sea salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 medium garlic cloves

1 pound  potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

2 1/2 pounds yellow summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch slices

4 cups good tasting vegetable stock
1 cup buttermilk
1 bunch of chives, chopped

In a skillet, over medium heat, toast the cumin seeds until they are fragrant. Just a minute or two. Use a mortar and pestle to pound the seeds into a fine powder. Alternately, you can use an electric spice grinder. Set aside. In the same skillet, melt the butter and cook until it’s brown and gives off a deliciously nutty aroma. Remove from heat, stir the cumin into the butter along with a generous couple pinches of salt, then set aside in a warm place. You want the butter to stay liquid until you’re ready to use it.

To make the soup, heat the butter in your largest pot or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and a bit of salt. Saute for a few minutes, or until the onions start to get translucent. Stir in the potatoes and squash and cook for another 7-10 minutes, or until the squash starts to soften up. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of the stock (most of it) – the stock should just barely cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, roughly another 25 minutes. Remove the soup from heat, puree completely with a hand blender, then stir in the buttermilk. If you need to thin the soup out with a bit more stock, you can do so. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve each bowl topped with plenty of the cumin butter, and a sprinkling of chives.

Serves 10.

Prep time: 15 min – Cook time: 40 min

Published in: on January 11, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Happy Hour @ 1102

Zodiac Birthday Cocktail

Yesterday, was my birthday.  So today’s Happy Hour Drink, is a celebration of my day.  I have always been a big fan of the Zodiac, so when I found this cocktail through “In the Spirit”, I thought it was quite an appropriate theme for this week’s Happy Hour.

CAPRICORN  – The GOAT  ( December 21 – January 20)

Mocha Martini

Ruling planet:  Saturn

Associated Colors:  Brown (and also Black)

Characteristics:  Practical, disciplined, humorous and reserved.  Can also be pessimistic and fatalistic.

Famous Capricorns:  Martin Luther King Jr., Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali, Diane Keaton, Samuel Brandon Smith (my son), DJ Jones (my grandson)  and ME.

Recommended Cocktail:


1 Shot Brandy

1 Shot Creme De Cocoa

1 Shot Cask & Cream Sweet Temptation Chocolate Liquer

1 Shot Khalua

1 1/2 Shots Cold Coffee or Espresso

1/2 Shot Heavy Cream

Cocoa Powder and/or sugar


Over ice Shake first 5 ingredients together and pour into a chilled martini glass. Float half a shot of  cream in the centre of the drink. Garnish with dusting of cocoa powder in the centre of the drink on top of the cream.
You could also rim the glass with a mixture of cocoa powder and sugar to taste.

Happy Birthday to all my Capricorn friends.

Published in: on January 6, 2012 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

SOUP’S ON @ 1102

Welcome to my latest column.  Soup’s On!   I’ve always enjoyed a warm bowl of soup especially during cold winter months.  It is a great addition to my healthy diet, when I’m trying to shed a few pounds.  It is a good use of left over ingredients, since I HATE wasting food.  Plus I’ve been saying for years that I wanted to learn to be proficient in this course of the Menu.  So, for 2012,  Soup’s On every Wednesday @ 1102.  We’ll learn technique, try flavors, rate the results, and hopefully come up with at least one or two culinary delights to add to my cookbook.


One of the gifts that I got this Christmas was a gift card to Barnes and Nobel.  With my soup quest in mind I bought a book, that I saw early last year, The Soup Bible.  It is a lovely 244 page full color cookbook, with hundreds of soup recipes from around the world.  It will be my inspiration for this Wednesday feature.   I will try many of the recipes, and share my review of the cooking process.  Hopefully, you will try a few as well, and let me know what you think of them.

So join me on Wednesday’s for my new challenge.  Soup’s On!

Published in: on January 4, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

2012 – Happy New Year!

Thank you to all my readers and followers.

Happy New Year

Published in: on January 1, 2012 at 8:16 am  Leave a Comment