Sunday, June 29

and now for something completely different.... SOUNDLANDSCAPES!

Soundscapes. Soundwalks. Soundlandscapes. Sound Maps. Call it what you will, I am mildly addicted to them. For me it's the next best thing to actually being there, where ever that may be. I came across Des Coulam's website a few years back and instantly fell in love with the sounds of Paris. I often tune in when I'm blogging. It is peaceful and relaxing and does not make me lose my train of thought. His latest Soundwalk, Quai de Montebello makes me feel like I'm sitting on a bench across from Notre Dame, listening to the bells peal, birds chirping, muscians making music and watching Paris walk by. Below is one of my favorite posts of Des'. It's raining, and as he sits in a Parisian cafe a jazz ensemble sets up across the street. It's magical. Take a listen and see if you don't agree. To hear that wonderful Parisian jazz head to the bottom of the post. ENJOY!

A Soundwalk in the Rue Mouffetard

THE RUE MOUFFETARD is a very old Parisian street, a Roman road leading south to Italy.  In the eighteenth century the area around the rue Mouffetard gained a reputation for violence and in the nineteenth century men from la Mouffe’ were always to be found on the Paris barricades at every opportunity from 1830 through to 1871. Balzac said that, “No neighbourhood of Paris is more horrible and more unknown”.
Times have moved on. Today, the rue Mouffetard is a street lined with shops, cafés, restaurants and a busy market. It’s a popular place and ideal for a soundwalk.

Much has been written about soundwalks and the art of sound walking and I confess that I find most of it impenetrable. It might be simplistic and perhaps unfair to those who toil over such things with such diligence, but I often think that if you have to explain it in great detail, and usually at great length, then you’ve somehow missed the point.
To me, soundwalks are simply about observing through active listening; listening to the sounds around us. Sometimes, the sounds around us are significant enough to define a particular place but more often they are simply the transitory sounds that provide the sound tapestry without which a place loses part of its identity.
I find soundwalks endlessly fascinating. I love the different textures of the sounds – the chatter of people and snatches of overheard conversations, the transitional sounds from outside to inside and from inside to outside, the clatter of teacups in a busy café, the differing sound texture of the traffic and the captivating sound of footsteps over the pavé.
For this soundwalk, I began by sheltering from the rain opposite a Franprix supermarket at the top of rue Mouffetard. The rain passed and I meandered down the hill calling into the bookshop, a café – where a colorful three man jazz ensemble set out to entertain – and another Franprix at the bottom of the hill.

Here is a visual of my walk - don't miss the jazz ensemble!

Sitting in the bistro Le Mouffetard, with a glass of Leffe and a copy of Le MondeI was half  watching the world go by and half reading the news of terror plots from cargo aircraft, when a sound drifted in through an open window.
A three man jazz ensemble had installed themselves across the street and they were just beginning their afternoon’s work. I went to investigate.

Rue Mouffetard never fails to provide something interesting for this chasseur de son to record. This was one of those elusive moments that comes from being in the right place at the right time.

A word about editing:
The sounds reproduced here are an edited version of my soundwalk which took over an hour. There is no processing or layering of the sounds, so the sounds you hear are the sounds exactly as they were recorded save for reducing a long recording down to a more manageable listening experience of some eight minutes and forty-five seconds.

Check out Des Coulam's website Soundlandscapes and his blog - where he has all of his soundwalks inventoried - Soundlandscapes' Blog.

sounds, walking, Paris, Parisian, streets, portraits, travel, France, soundlandscapes

Friday, June 27

Texas Peach Sorbet

I know that Georgia is known for it's peaches, but add Texas peaches to any old thing and perfection results!

Like everything in the Lone Star State, the bigger the peaches, the better. And the ones grown in my part of the state taste so sweet, they're like candy. With tattered roadside stands selling peaches in every form, from pie and cobbler to jelly and yogurt, if you tire of one peach treat, you can just switch to another. And seeing those perfectly plump spheres hanging on every tree branch makes you want to reach out and pluck a few. And we do.

As we find ourselves at the height of peach season here in my part of Texas, I am looking for new ways to use the peaches I bought from Cooper Farms in Fairfield. Of course, we eat the majority of them fresh, we freeze a large number for the coming fall and winter and we use the rest in everything from salsas to ice cream. So what's it going to be today? Peach Sorbet, a perfect, light and frosty treat for any hot Texan! ENJOY!

This peach sorbet is so light and refreshing any time of day. It's a wonderful way to end a summer dinner and you don't even need an ice cream maker! If you'd like to read more, and to find this recipe, meet me over at Texas Women Bloggers, where I am writing today. See ya there!

Texas, peach, sorbet, light, low-cal, easy, cool, refreshing, quick, summer dessert, Cooper Farms

Wednesday, June 25

Homemade Blackberry Cobbler

I recall so many wonderful things about my mom's cooking as I was growing up. Some of my earliest memories are of being in the kitchen with my mother, eating dough and licking spoons. As I got older and started school, often times she had fresh cookies or homemade popsicles ready for my sister and me to snack on when we came home. One of my favorite memories of my mom's cooking began on a hot, Texas summer day.

What is it about August's dog days that seem to make such an impression on us? For you it might be that it's baseball's most exciting time, or that it's BBQ season, or the fact that summer's almost over and real life is about to begin again. For me it was picking blackberries with my sweet young friends.

At the end of our street lay an open field, tall with weeds and overgrown with blackberry vines. To a young girl in elementary school it was heaven. There's nothing quite like a truly ripe, sweet, warmed-by-the-sun blackberry. I didn't care that I came home with more scratches on my body than blackberries in my bucket. I was spending a summer afternoon with my friends, laughing — talking about boys I'm sure — and picking blackberries.

On this particular summer day, after eating our fill of wild blackberries, my friend and I presented what was left for my mother to admire. Of course she noted the scratches and our berry-stained faces, but smiled as if she did not notice, took the berries and sent us on our way. Later in the day, to our surprise, my mother had made two blackberry cobblers — one for our family and one for my friend's. I remember thinking what a wonder my mother was. Not only had she shared her talents with our friends but she made these cobblers with such quiet ease. There was no need to run to the store for fancy ingredients or extra time spent in the kitchen, or so it seemed. For my mother, cooking never appeared to be difficult, time-consuming or commonplace. She could easily turn a bucket of wild blackberries into a simply delicious cobbler.

Looking back now it reminds me that what shapes us along the way isn't always life's "main events" but the smaller, more familiar daily stuff. I realize what a wonderful lesson my mother taught me at such a young age. Cooking doesn't have to be hard or always extraordinary. It can be simple, easy and memorable. Take a trip down memory lane and see what you come back with.

Homemade Blackberry Cobbler
You can easily throw together this cobbler in minutes using fresh berries from the grocery store 
or farmer's market. I'm lucky enough to have them growing in my yard! Yay for summer in Texas!
MAKES 1 13 X 9-inch COBBLER
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  • 4 cups fresh Blackberries, picked over and cleaned
  • 1 1/4 sticks Butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons Flour
  • 3/4 to 1 cup Sugar, depending on the sweetness of the berries; plus extra for dusting top of cobbler
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups Crisco shortening
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons ice cold water
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • For crust: Stir together flour and salt. Cut in shortening until it resembles small peas. Add water and stir lightly until dough comes together into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and rest in fridge while making cobbler.
  • Dot 1/2 stick butter in the bottom of a 13 X 9 inch pan.
  • Combine blackberries, flour and sugar and pour over butter in pan. 
  • Remove dough from fridge, unwrap and gently roll out on a lightly floured surface. Cut into strips. 
  • Dot blackberry mixture with an additional 1/2 cup butter and layer strips of dough over top to cover. 
  • Sprinkle with a few tablespoons sugar and dot with remaining 1/4 cup butter.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until blackberry juice is bubbly and crust is golden brown.
  • Serve hot with Blue Bell's Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream!

blackberries, picking, summer, memories, cobbler, homemade, mother, heirloom, easy, quick, delicious,

Monday, June 23

Market Fresh Corn Bacon & Tomato Salad

One of my goals this summer is to showcase the wonderful fresh ingredients we have available here in North Texas and to share recipe ideas to help you create easy meals at home using those ingredients. Right now, delicious local sweet corn and tomatoes are available not only in the local farmer's markets here in the DFW area, but our grocery stores as well. We are at the beginning of the corn and tomato growing season here in Texas, and you’ll be able to enjoy this salad all summer long! It is definitely one of our family's favorites and we never have any left-overs. Add chopped avocado, grilled chicken and Romaine lettuce to this salad and you've quickly turned it from a simple side dish to a satisfying, filling and healthy light dinner. This recipe is a keeper, hope your family enjoys it as much as mine!

The ingredients for this salad are simple: fresh ears of corn, bacon, red onion, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and Italian parsley.  The only seasonings are cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Simple, classic and deliciously fresh! It is the quintessential summer salad  great for outdoor Texas BBQ's or Sunday dinner!
SERVES 4 - 6
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  • 1 tablespoon Extra Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Red Wine Vinegar
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper, freshly ground
  • 3 cups Corn Kernels, cut from about 6 cooked ears of corn
  • 20 Cherry or Grape tomatoes, red or yellow or combined, cut in half
  • 4 - 6 slices thick cut Hickory Smoked Bacon, chopped, cooked and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped Red Onion
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh Basil Leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Flat-Leaf Italian Parsley, chopped
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk the oil and vinegar with salt and pepper to taste to form a dressing.
  • Add the remaining ingredients, and toss to coat with the dressing.
  • Taste, and season if necessary.
  • Serve immediately. If you are not serving this salad right away, do not add the salad dressing, basil and parsley; cover and refrigerate. Toss salad ingredients with salad dressing and herbs right before serving. 

corn, fresh, summer, heirloom, tradition, light supper, cool, easy, salad, red onion, bacon, basil, parsley,

Thursday, June 19

Summer Squash — Cooked Three Ways

This week I'm celebrating the first day of Summer by featuring summer squash while it is in the peak of its season, has the best flavor and is the least expensive. With its soft shell and creamy white flesh, it takes just minutes to prepare and is a great summer addition to any meal. Here are three of my favorite ways to cook squash. Enjoy!

Baked summer squash is a very versatile Southern side dish. It pairs well with everything from fried chicken at a summertime Sunday lunch to an outdoor cook-out. The herbs and Parmesan cheese added to the breadcrumbs takes this quick and easy delicious vegetable dish to a whole other level!
SERVES 6 - 8
  • 1 1/2 - 2 pounds summer squash (such as zucchini, pattypan squash, yellow crookneck squash)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs such as basil, thyme, parsley and oregano
  • Preheat oven to 350° F. 
  • Remove stem ends and slice squash cross-wise in 1/4"-thick rounds. Toss with olive oil.
  • In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, salt and pepper and herbs.
  • Arrange half the squash rounds in bottom of a 9" by 12" rectangular baking dish, or similar. Sprinkle with half the bread crumb mixture. 
  • Arrange remaining squash on top and sprinkle remaining bread crumb mixture.
  • Cover baking dish with foil and bake in oven for 30 minutes. 
  • Remove foil and bake another five minutes.
  • Serve hot out of the oven.

This is, hands down, my favorite way to eat summer squash. And I realize this might be due to a nostalgic fondness for Southern-style vegetables, but trust me: as far as cooking summer squash goes, this is one of the best and easiest. Sauteing squash and onions in butter brings out the natural sweetness of both vegetables. There are times for keeping squash bright and slightly crisp. This is not one of them. You want it to get soft and gooey, with onions that practically melt. It's simply divine!
SERVES 6 - 8
  • Tbsp butter
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 chicken bouillon 
  • 6 yellow crookneck squash, scrubbed and sliced
  • Layer ingredients, in the order given, into a large sauce pot. 
  • Place over a medium-high heat. When you hear it begin to sizzle, give the squash and onions a good stir.
  • Cover pot, turn down the heat to low and cook approximately 8 minutes or until squash is tender and has created juices.
  • Serve hot!

For a simple summer side dish, fire up your grill. Vegetables with a high water content, such as summer squash, cook beautifully on the grill. The dry heat helps the water to evaporate quickly and allows them to brown easily. Grill them along side chicken, beef or pork and your meal can be ready in a matter of minutes.
SERVES 6 - 8
  •  medium yellow crookneck squash
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • Cut the squash horizontally into 1/2 inch thick slices so that you have nice long strips.
    • Heat olive oil in a small pan, and add garlic cloves. Cook over medium heat until the garlic starts to sizzle and become fragrant. 
    • Preheat an outdoor or stove top grill for medium-high heat.
    • Brush the slices of squash with the garlic oil, and season with salt and pepper.
    • Grill squash slices for 5 to 10 minutes per side, until they reach the desired tenderness. 
    • TIP: This is the best way to grill your squash, but when short on time, toss squash slices with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder, then salt and pepper.

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    summer, vegetables, squash, grilled, sauteed, casserole, cooked, baked, easy, quick, healthy, how-to

    Tuesday, June 17


    Bold, brilliant and tranquil blue. The dramatic and leading primary color of blue provides a cool infusion that welcomes one with a peaceful calmThe color of the sky and the deep seaSerene, indeed. The calming harmony paired with refreshing infusions of color. The wide range of blue hues are varied and each can perhaps be said to evoke different feelings. That said, it is the bold hue of brilliant blue that is exhilarating and rich in depth while the paler shades seem to provide an element of calm and peace. Pure blue bliss, either way.

    1.Table lamp, Wayfair
    2. Crystorama ceiling light, Wayfair
    3. Couristan gray rug, Wayfair
    4. Lightweight striped cotton blanket, Wayfair
    5. Canvas wall art, Wayfair
    6. Reed Barton silver frame, Reed and Barton
    7. Cotton striped throw pillow, Wayfair
    8. Oval basket, Wayfair
    9. Cotton polka dot throw pillow, Wayfair
    10. Americana candle lantern, Wayfair
    11. Distinctive Designs Silk arrangement, Wayfair
    12. US Floors Natural Cork Earth and Classics hardwood flooring, Wayfair
    13. Sam Moore Carson Sofa, Wayfair
    14. Stein World cart coffee table, Wayfair
    15. Scoope Cotton Pillow, Wayfair
    16. Authentic Models Biscay Fishing Boat, Wayfair
    17. IMAX Antonini Bottles (Set of 3), Wayfair
    18. Taylor Ng Vintage French 11 oz. Le Baleine Whale Mug, Wayfair
    19. Noritake Yoshino 6.25" Fruit Dish, Wayfair

    blue, home design, color, tranquil, serene, how-to, designers say, indigo, decor, furnishings

    Monday, June 16

    Say Goodbye To Boring Bottled Water!

    90 percent of what you pay for when you buy a bottle of water goes toward packaging, shipping, and advertising; and many bottles wind up in landfills, where they might take many years to decompose. Plus: If you're going to buy enhanced waters, they could be bulked up with added colors, sugars, and other unhealthy agents. So skip the store, bypass the additives, and mix these refreshing flavored waters for you and your family.

    In minutes, you can transform boring H2O into a delicious glass of healthy, flavored water. Here are my top ten favorite combinations:

    1. Strawberry-Basil: Add fresh sliced strawberries and basil leaves to your water, as many as you like. Slightly tear the basil leaves to release the oils into the water.  Basil has anti-anxiety and liver detoxifying properties, while strawberries are high in vitamin C, folic acid and potassium.
    2. Cucumber-Melon: Slice cucumbers and add small chunks of fresh honeydew to your water.  It’s simply wonderful! Cucumber contains Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Iron, Calcium, Vitamin K and Potassium. It promotes a healthy liver, skin cell rejuvenation and helps your body process fat.
    3. Lemon-Thyme: Slice a half a lemon and add a few sprigs of thyme to your water. Lemon is a natural diuretic which aids in natural detoxification. Thyme is an antimicrobial and has been used for years in natural medicine to help respiratory problems.
    4. Raspberry-Ginger: Place fresh raspberries and strips of peeled and sliced fresh ginger into the water. Ginger is effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal stress, while raspberries are one of the best natural antioxidants out there.
    5. Blueberry-Lime: Add lime slices and slightly bruised blueberries. Top with water, cover and refrigerate.  Blueberries add a touch of antioxidant sweetness as the lime flushes toxins out of your body.
    6. Watermelon-Rosemary: Add a sprig of rosemary, watermelon cubes and water to a glass jar; cover and refrigerate. Watermelons are an excellent source of vitamin A, which helps maintain eye health; vitamin C, which helps strengthen immunity and heal wounds; and vitamin B6, which helps brain function and helps convert protein to energy. Rosemary helps to alleviate muscle pain, improve memory, and boost the circulatory system. This is a SUPER drink!
    7. Orange-Mint: It’s just delicious! Add orange slices and fresh mint to your water.  Mint is a great palate cleanser, and it promotes digestion. Did you know oranges will naturally lower your cholesterol??
    8. Blackberry-Sage: Add bruised sage leaves to a jar and top with blackberries. Fill jar with water; cover and refrigerate. Blackberries contain compounds that help protect you from heart, brain and cell damage. On the other hand sage is a good anti-inflammatory, brain promoting, metabolizing boosting super herb!
    9. Papaya-Lime: Squeeze a few slices of lime into a jar followed by papaya cubes and water. Refrigerate for 24 hours. IBS you say? Well be first in line for water infused with Papaya, it is one of the best foods to promote intestinal health- of any kind! And of course lime is a natural diuretic. I love this one, it makes me feel great!
    10. Pineapple-Mango: Add cubed pineapple and mango to a pitcher or jar of water. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Beside tasting fabulous, this infused water is packed chock-full of vitamins and minerals. It will fight free radicals in the body, promote cell growth, and build strong bones.

    Infused waters are an easy way to add flavor and interest without a lot of extra calories. Try different fruit and herb combinations, whatever sounds good to you. Add as much or as little fruit & herbs into the water to suit your taste. If you don't have access to these fruits and herbs try all citrus. Slices of lemon, orange and a bit of lime added to a pitcher of water is great any day! I hope you will try one or two of these healthy waters for yourself. Let me know which one becomes your go-to Summer drink! ENJOY!

    infused, water, fruits, herbs, spa, healthy, tasty, easy, quick, go-to, vitamins, minerals, health-benefit, fat, reducer, flavor-boost, cell growth, antioxidants

    Sunday, June 15

    Life Lessons I Learned From Mom & Dad

    Today marks my parents', Ron and Gloria Chesser, 52nd wedding anniversary. Their romance was a whirlwind, only meeting weeks before their engagement. Somewhere during that time they experienced the 'holy kiss', and as they say, it was all over but the shouting. A few months later they were married! 

    With that being said, I have been tremendously blessed to witness true marital love my entire life. Every marriage is different and no one would dare say it is easy all of the time. I am aware of these things, but I am so glad to have been brought up in a home where such glowing exhibits of love, loyalty, friendship and faith were shown on a daily basis.

    My parents have taught me many valuable lessons that have helped shape my life. The best advice I ever received from them was not said specifically in any one sentence or a formal heart-to-heart, but in many discussions throughout my life. Here are the top ten lessons about life and love my parents graciously taught me that have touched every aspect of my life and affected the majority of decisions I have ever made.
    • They encouraged me to seek out, listen to and accept with humility advice from people wiser than myself. 
    • Mom and Dad instilled in me a great sense of confidence and the ability to stand up for myself. Despite the fact that sometimes I was a little nervous, I stepped out and did what I felt led to do when I thought the time was right. 
    • They may not know it but they taught me to be slow to anger. I cringe sometimes when I think of how I must come across at times, and how long it has taken me to change my ways. And even now there are times when I forget their advice on the subject. But yes, I’ve learned to stop and think before I react and more importantly to choose my battles well. 
    • My parents showed me relationships take work, compromise and dedication from both people. Marriage vows are sacred, far stronger than any bumps or potholes along life's highway. It's a decision you make every day. Note I didn't say FEELING!
    • They always made a point of making sure I understood that on the road of life, there’s no point in blaming others when you fail. So my failures? I never have any doubt whom they can be traced back to. 
    • Communication, Communication, Communication! They taught me to ask for what I want. NEVER assume the other person is going to know what you need. No one will be reading your mind - you could be waiting forever!
    • They taught me that managing losses is a challenge I must be up to! You can never give in to it. Learning that failing over and over in life is all apart of success.
    • Be a good friend to find a good friend. Healthy friends cultivate healthy friendships. And my parents taught and modeled what it means to be a good friend to others.
    • They explained to me that there were going to be times in my life that would be difficult, and that I have the choice as to how I react to those situations. I can either laugh or cry; I can get mad or be happy. The question is how would I rather live?
    • They showed me how important and valuable I am. Whether they took the time to take us camping or drove all night to pick me up from college just because I was sick, Mom and Dad taught me to never let others underestimate my worth.
    This list of valuable instructions are but a few things Mom and Dad taught me. These precious attributes were not always spoken. My parents didn't normally sit us down for formal one on one conversations about 'life lessons'.  In fact, at the time, I had no idea of the wise counsel they were giving me and how it would someday impact my life.

    My Daddy is realistic, supportive, loyal, spiritual, wise, he's tough - but fair, has a fantastic work ethic, and yes, sometimes can be blunt. My Mother is caring, giving, nurturing, ever so patient, quietly hopeful and above all loving. But together, as parents, their best quality was to teach by example. It is one thing for parents to dish out advice; it is another that they model a life for their children to follow. My parents lived that kind of life. They have inspired me in all areas by living what was preached in our home. 

    These precious gifts I received from my parents are invaluable and I love, respect and admire them for all of their many wonderful qualities. I thank you for your parenting, teachings, and leadership. Many Hugs and Much Love Mom and Dad, today and every day!