Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Cheese: Respecting the Wedge

Leave it to me...

Here I thought I was well read about the basics, and yes my mother really did teach me table etiquette and proper place settings. Hey  - - I even traveled a few miles in my life out of the continent and sat at some fine dining tables, but when it came time to "respecting the wedge," man did I screw up. 

Picture this. Me - a guest - sitting at a dining room table. My delightful hosts pass around the cheese plate after dinner. Now mind you, both of the hosts were born and raised in France. The cheese plate arrives to me first. As I slowly start to cut into a wedge, all of a sudden I hear from both of my hosts, "No! No! Stop! Respect the wedge!"

After it was all said and done, and long story short; I am now permanently and emotionally scarred by the "wedge."   

The best way to explain my future with cheese is when you're sitting at a formal dinner party and you look through the corner of your eye to see what utensil your dining partners are reaching for first among the sea of knives, forks, and spoons at their place settings. 

Nowadays, when I see a new wedge of cheese in a social setting, I avoid it and watch everyone else cut into it - - first. If someone before me does not "respect the wedge," and I follow their "dissing" of the wedge, my defense is "Don't look at me. They started it."

To help you avoid the embarrassment of being a social pariah, just follow the incisions. Cheers to cheese.

Semi-Soft Wedge
Cut the wedge cross-wise, then cut vertically along the rind. 

Cheeses: Fontina, Gruyère, Gouda, Swiss

Soft Pyramid
Slice the cheese into wedges from the top center. 
Cheeses: Soft goat or cow cheeses from England or France often coated in vegetable ash.

Soft Wedge
Section the cheese into long, narrow wedges from the point outward 
Cheeses: Brie, 
double and triple-cream cheese
Slice across the log into coins. 
Cheeses: Usually goat, fresh or aged

Soft Wheel
Cut it into even wedges, from the center outward. 
Cheeses: Camembert, aged goat cheeses

Veined Wedge
Slice it into points from the bottom center of the thin edge. 
Cheeses: Blue cheese, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Stilton
Images from Martha Stewart Living

Friday, July 21, 2017

Wander and Ponder: A Quiet Week

After a few busy weeks and weekends in a row, it's rather nice to have several days of solitude. Through most of my adult life, "solitude" has been a rare thing for me - - and after almost forty years of working in occupations (funeral homes, domestic violence shelter, and law firms - civil and defense) where you see people at the worst point of their lives, it's a blessing to have the solitude. Now the only noise I  hear, and by choice, is two little yapping dogs and Pandora

Pandora: is a free, personalized internet radio that plays the style of your favorite music, starting with your favorite artist, song or composer. There are various "stations" to choose from, and you can stream it to your television, your computer, or if you own Echo; ask Alexa to play it for you.

My choice of music with my morning coffee is "Andrea Bocelli Radio." If you don't know this already, the basic app is free. The station isn't all Bocelli, but music that is similar in some ways such as: Josh Groban, Enya, various symphonies  - - easy background music that doesn't interfere with writing. 

Cravings: Can't explain it, but every so often I get a craving for various things. This week it's a cuppa Earl Grey tea, and preferably with a large warm Danish topped with a pat of melted butter. I think Earl Grey is the perfect tea to enjoy with sweet pastries.

Kitchen Tools: A few months ago I looked at my drawer full of kitchen tools and found it depressing, so I started a campaign to replace some of the old ones I've had since... well, a long time. Replaced a potato peeler, masher, pastry brush, tongs, wooden spoons, spatulas... and still replacing. I think the cheese grater is next. After all, a girl likes pretty new things. 

Pretty Things: Now for something pretty - - the detail of the stitches and beading makes me want to grab a needle and thread. 

If it's your choice, I hope your weekend is quiet for you to take the time to enjoy a few "pretty things."

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Summer Reading: Pretty Magazines

Finding leisurely time to curl up during a quiet afternoon or late evening with a favorite beverage is one of those events in life that is on the list of "nothing better than..."

If you are an avid reader like I am, sometimes you just want to read something interesting without getting involved in a book - - and sometimes you just, not only want to read, but look at pretty photos for inspiration. That is where a magazine is perfect. 

There was a time I use to subscribe to several country living and Victorian style type of magazines for decorating and recipe ideas - - eventually these magazines became thinner with less good content and more advertising. Hey, I get the advertising part of it. In my early years of adult-hood, I use to moonlight in the evening designing display ads for a small newspaper. Advertising helps keep a magazine afloat, and sometimes keeps the subscription prices down - - but there really needs to be a ratio between good content and photos versus advertising. 

Recently, I have noticed a couple of new magazines to hit the news stands in the last 10 months, so I did some research...

Who doesn't watch HGTV's popular show Fixer Upper  with Chip and Joanna Gaines? If you haven't heard about these two - - where have you been? They are everywhere! This popular couple has recently started their own quarterly magazine, among other things such as mercantile, mail order, bakery, bed and breakfast, and soon a diner.  

Their premiere issue, The Magnolia Journal arrived during the Fall of 2016. The magazine is printed on heavy quality paper with limited advertising. It is filled with beautiful photos, DIY, gardening, seasonal ideas, their personal stories, recipes, and more. It's a very worthy read. 

There's another popular television host who just published her own magazine - Ree Drummond, or you may know her on the Food Network as The Pioneer Woman.  She is also known for her blog, cookbooks, children's author, cookware brand, and just recently she opened up her own brick and mortar/online shop, The Mercantile.

So far, she has just offered a premiere summer issue of her magazine, The Pioneer Woman. The down side of it, the premiere issue was only offered at Walmart. There was no way I was going to go to Walmart in hopes of finding that magazine - - so I patiently waited. The wait paid off as I was able to buy it directly through her online shop (note: the magazine is currently sold out, but it appears it may be made available at a later time). 

The order directly from the Mercantile had a nice personal touch, as the magazine was wrapped in a toile patterned bag and enclosed was a thank you note on a Mercantile postcard. How is the magazine? It's your typical magazine with the slick cover and pages. Sure, there is the usual advertising, but so far I liked the content. Lots of atractive photos, recipes, and interesting articles about her personal and family life - - and some of the cool stuff she sells in her brick and mortar/online store. 

If the Pioneer Woman decides to print future issues of her magazine, will I buy it? Yeah, I think I just might - - at least subscribe the first year. Hopefully for now it will be just quarterly. I don't want to be committed to it every month - - but hey, that's been my mind-set lately. No commitment to subscriptions or television series. 

If you discover these magazines for yourself, let me know what you think; and have you located any new magazines? 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Wander & Ponder: Birthdays and Roses

Where have I been?

Goofing off? Yes and no.

The truth of the matter is I have been writing - a lot - just not writing on the blog. Instead I have been writing a few magazine articles, and working on a few books. Fiction and non-fiction. 

I didn't mean to ignore the month of June, it's just I got swept away with selling antiques and collectibles at one of the local vintage markets, Love of Junk. To participate in a vintage market, and to do it well, is a lot of work. First of all, you have to hunt and pick the items you want to sell. One must inventory and price the items. Packing the items to the market is a lot of work, and then you unpack and display your items hoping to sell a lot so you will have less to pack home. A word of caution: it can be addictive. I am addicted to buying and selling collectibles. 

Also, in the month of June I had a birthday. As it did on the day I was born, or so I have been told, it thundered like crazy that day. Other than the noisy thunder, it was a quiet birthday - - but I find a lovely bouquet of roses at my door stoop.

What is it about roses? I have over 15 rose bushes, and even when the roses eventually dry in the vase, I still find it difficult to toss them. In their dried state, they are still beautiful to me. Yeah, I know the photo below isn't the best, but there was something about it I liked. Don't you? 

So, that's about it. This is where I have been. 
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