Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day, Everyone!

Taking a few days off, the Monday Recipe Blog will be back next week!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Did You Love The LOST finale? (Warning - Spoiler alert!)

Hello....Hope you are having a great holiday weekend!

Just about everyone and their dogs watched the terrific series finale of Lost last Sunday.  What did you think?  Did you love it?  Hate it?  Were you totally confused at the end?

Personally, I thought it was the best series finale I have ever witnessed.  Lost had it all, but really went for the heartstrings in the finale.  I have to admit, I shed a few tears during this one, although the most emotional moment for me was the preceding episode when Jin and Sun perished together in the submarine.  Jin and Sun were my favorites from the beginning and added so much humanity to the series.

So, in the end we learned that everyone lived and everyone eventually died, coming together in one big reunion before "moving on".  Hero Jack prevailed over the villians and finally even defeated the smoke monster, with the help of his longtime love.  What I like the most was that the island wasn't someone's bad dream or a figment of a character's imagination.  It was real, the people were real and the time we spent watching this series was worth it.

Yes, there were unanswered questions, lots of them.  That's ok. 

Thanks, Lost - I'll miss you a lot!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Friday Dog Blog

Another doggie picture on Dog Blog Friday. It's....Mini-Me Schnauzer!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Olive Oil - More Than Just A Cooking Oil....

Olive oil is one terrific oil.  It is made by crushing fresh olives, and was around in 3000 B.C., so it definitely has staying power.  Olive oil is a "good oil" to consume, which we all know.  What people may not know are the other uses for olive oil...

Calm an earache with warm olive oil.  Put a few drops in the ear, then plug the ear with cotton.  Warm olive oil also softens ear wax.

Dry skin?  Rub olive oil on it.

Warm olive oil soothes mild frostbite.

If you run out of shaving cream, olive oil does a good job in a pinch.

Warm olive oil massaged into your hair and scalp conditions the hair.  When the hair is dry, shampoo as usual.

A couple tablespoons of olive oil acts as a laxative.

A couple teaspoons of olive oil will relieve a sore throat.

So, there you have it.  The many uses for olive oil.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Monday Recipe Blog

Happy Monday! With summer sneaking up, here is another grilling recipe….

How do you grill something as crunchy as carrots? By boiling them first! Try this the next time you are grilling – Maybe Memorial Day weekend?

Grilled Carrots:

Peel the carrots and trim the stems and leaves to about an inch or so above each carrot. Drop them in boiling salted water, and blanch only until barely tender.

Remove immediately and plunge the carrots into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Now you can put them aside for a few hours, or grill them immediately.

Coat the carrots with some balsamic vinegar, a little honey and melted butter right before grilling.

Grill the carrots side-by-side over medium direct coals until they have grill stripes. Turn them over.

When done, you can put them in the glaze bowl for a little more vinegar, honey and butter if you like.

Your guests will go wild over these grilled carrots!!

Photo by Simon Howden.....

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Have You Seen Oklahoma’s Spook Light?

Oklahoma is bursting with ghost stories, strange happenings, outlaw tales and Native American legends. Some of them are actually true. One of my favorites is the Spook Light of Northeastern Oklahoma.

I first heard of the Spook Light at a dinner party in Miami, Oklahoma, several years ago. I was there on business, and one of the locals asked me if I had seen the Spook Light. I was immediately intrigued, but also wary that I could be going down a snipe hunt trail. The locals were enthusiastic about this thing, and some of them actually claimed to have seen it.  By the time I dug into my dessert, I was hanging between wanting to see this thing and feeling as if the city girl was being taken by the joking country folk.

A group of them promised to take me there on my next trip to Miami, but I laughed it off and said I wasn’t falling for that. A few days after I got back home, one of them e-mailed me a site that described the Spook Light in detail. Ok, now I was intrigued.

About a month later I was back in Miami, and my dinner partners had arranged a cookout and hayride to the road where the Spook Light made its occasional appearances.

The first reported sighting of the Spook Light was in 1881, and there have been countless sightings since then.

Located east of Quapaw, Oklahoma, the Spook Light road (known as the Devil’s Promenade by locals) is out in the country and during the day resembles every other dirt road in the state. It’s about 4 miles long, but the Spook Light only appears in a certain smaller area of the road.

The Spook Light appears as a moving, bouncing, reddish-orange ball of light. It dances around and has even come into moving automobiles. Some people walking along the road have reported feeling the heat as the light zooms by them. The light is not affected by wind or rain – it appears no matter what the weather happens to be.

There have been various theories over the years on what causes this light, most of them quickly discounted. One theory that seems most plausible is that an electric charge from grinding rocks underneath the ground causes the Spook Light. The area is over a fault line, so this idea is a possibility, but has never been proven.

Other theories are more interesting and involve ghosts. One story is that a Quapaw brave and maiden fell in love, but her father was against the romance. A real Romeo and Juliet story. The couple fled and were chased by Quapaw braves until they took a lover’s leap into the Spring River and died. Their ghosts, for some unexplained reason, converged into the Spook Light. Another one involves an Indian chief who was beheaded and travels the road with his lantern looking for the head. The lantern is the Spook Light - that's why it bobs around.  But why would he need a lantern if he doesn’t have a head? Didn’t his eyes go with his head? Well, I don’t want to get in the way of a good ghost story….

Bottom line is that I did go to the cookout that night, and afterward we loaded onto wagons stacked with hay bales and rode behind tractors to the infamous Devil’s Promenade. It was about 10:00 pm, since the light usually appears between 10 and midnight. Our group of about 30 or so walked the dark, lonely road for an hour or more, wishing and wanting the Spook Light to appear, but kind of not, too.

The Spook Light did……not appear. Oh well, we all had a terrific time at the party and really loved the hayride. I hadn’t been on a hayride in a long time, and had forgotten how much fun they are. And the walk down the dark and scary Devil’s Promenade was hair-raising and a great experience.

Does the Spook Light exist? Of course it does – there have been too many witnesses over too many years for it to be figment of someone’s imagination. Is it a ghost? You be the judge.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Friday Dog Blog

Happy Friday - It's Little Darlin' again....This time she roughing up the flowers!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Many Wonders Of Yogurt

Do you like yogurt? It’s difficult not to. These days we have yogurt that tastes like banana cream pie, key lime pie, chocolate pie and all kinds of other delicious desserts. That’s good, because yogurt is great for your health!

It’s important that you ensure that the yogurt contains active cultures. Many frozen yogurt products that look and taste like ice cream do not contain these all-important cultures, so are not healthy at all.

Yogurt is cultured milk. Adding live cultures converts the lactose into lactic acid. Because of this, lactose-intolerant people can get their calcium and other nutritional value of milk by simply eating yogurt. Yogurt has one and a half times more calcium than milk and studies have shown that people who eat yogurt at least four times a month have a lower risk of colon cancer.

Here are a few more good things about yogurt….

Yogurt helps your immune system…

Yogurt can help prevent gastroinstestinal infections.

Daily consumption of yogurt reduces the occurrence of yeast infections.

Eating yogurt while taking antibiotics will produce new good bacteria to replace those that are killed by the antibiotics.

If you get a sunburn, slathering yogurt on the burned area for 30 minutes will ease the pain.

So, pick up some yogurt on your next trip to the grocery and make it a part of your daily routine. You’ll be healthier for it!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Monday Recipe Blog

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Hello and happy Monday, everyone! 

As spring gives way to summer, more and more grills are being pulled out and cleaned in anticipation of some great grilled food.  Is there anything better than sweet corn fresh from the farmers' market, slapped on the grill?  I don't think so.  What follows are some instructions on how to get the most out of your fresh grilled corn.  This is the first of several recipes to come for happy grilling this summer.

These instructions are for charcoal grills.

Grilled Corn on the Cob:

4 ears of corn, fresh in husks
1/4 cup softened butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Prepare your grill and let the coals burn down to medium.

In a bowl, mash up the butter and mix with the salt and pepper.

Chop off the pointed end of the corn and remove a couple of layers of the tough outside husk.  You have removed enough when you can just see the corn through the husks.

Cook the corn in a single layer on your charcoal grate, about 15 minutes.  Roll them over several times to ensure thorough cooking, and don't allow any exposed kernals to be directly over the coals.   Don't worry about burned outer husks, you won't be eating them anyway.

Using tongs, lift the corn from the grate and remove the husk and silk from each one.

Put the corn in a single layer in a pan that will fit on the grill, and add the butter to the pan.  When dinner is ready, put the pan on the grate and grill over direct heat with the lid closed until the butter is melted and the ears are warm - this will be about 5 minutes.

If you need to, you can keep the ears warm by placing the pan over indirect heat on the grill, turning the corn once in a while.

When ready, dig your teeth into a little piece of Heaven - fresh grilled sweet corn!

(Corn photo by Petr Kratochvil)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What Can You Do With A Steel Wool Soap Pad?

Hello....Most of us have a box of SOS pads or other brand of steel wool pads with the soap already built in.  You might be surprised to find that there are many uses to these little pads.  Here are just a few ways that you can use steel wool soap pads....

1.  You can plug up a mouse hole with it.  Now, lots of people know this, but some may not.  Neither Mickey nor Minnie Mouse will chew through a steel wool pad to get in the house.

2.  You can stuff a pincushion with it.  Use it to stuff a home-made pin cushion and it will keep your pins and needles shiny and sharp.

3.  You can tighten up a screw with it.  Take a few strands from a pad and wind them around the threads of the screw to make it nice and tight.

4.  You can clean your golf clubs with it.  Again, quite a few people, especially guys, know this one.

5.  You can clean your sneakers with it.  Wet it and rub gently to get your sneakers super-clean.

6.  You can patch a hole in the sheetrock with it.  Yep, stuff it in the crack or hole, then plaster over it.

7.  You can remove crayon marks from wallpaper with it.  Be very gentle when you do this.

Those are mine - Do you have more uses for these pads?  If so, please comment and let us know!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Friday Dog Blog

Another Friday, another dog. It's....Spring Schnauzer!!!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Read For Your Health - The Oprah Book Club Selection Challenge

....Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me....Oh - time for another blog post.....

Oprah’s Book Club Selection – My Personal Project

The Book For May, 2010: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

If you are a regular reader of All Trails Lead Home, you know that I have set a personal goal for the next year – Read and report on one book from Oprah’s Book Club each month until April, 2011.

My second choice in this journey was almost more than I could handle – Oprah’s 60th selection - Ken Follett’s epic 12th century novel Pillars of the Earth. Because of limited reading time, I decided to listen to the CD version of the book on my commute and various travels. I have to tell you – if you choose to read this book, it must be a long-term commitment. The book is contained on 32 (yes, 32!) CD’s. 976 pages if you choose to read the old-fashioned way. At least my public library was kind enough to package the CD’s in Part 1 and Part 2 – 16 CD’s each. I took every bit of my 3 week check-out period to get through each part.

First published in 1989, this historical novel pays homage to Follett’s love of church architecture, which I do not share. However, although the building of a cathedral is central to the plot, Follett doesn’t unduly dwell on the details of how this is actually done. The few times he lingered a little too long on something that only an architect could love, I will admit to fast-forwarding a little.

The real stars of this show are the compelling characters: Tom Builder, the, well, builder, who teams with the good and honorable, but wily prior of the Kingsbridge monastery, Philip, to raise the beautiful cathedral; Lady Aliena, the heroine of the story who rose from a horrendous experience to become a strong player in the intrigue and politics of the day; Philip, Prior of Kingsbridge, and the hero Jack, brilliant but unpredictable son of a gentle story-teller and a suspected witch. The evil ones – Brutal William Hamleigh and his strange, crafty mother, the corrupt Bishop Wallerin Bygod, the animalistic Alfred – half-brother of Jack.

Final verdict after 976 pages (32 cd’s)….Pillars of the Earth is a great novel and well-worth the time commitment. Read it and you will not be sorry.

The book begins with a public hanging and a curse, and the frenetic pace slows only rarely. This is the type of book that you hate to put down. The best stories pit good against evil, and Follett’s story, at its core, does just that. The good characters are not perfect and are usually somewhat flawed, but the evil characters are bad to the bone.

Beware – there is brutality in this book, both to humans and animals. I totally skipped over a bear-baiting episode and a cat-stoning. Just didn’t want to deal with them. (Ironically, a friend who is also a Pillars fan, told me later that the cat escaped the stoning – something I would have known had I not taken the easy way out.)

A good companion website to the book is:

I made it through the 32 disks and was sad when it finally came to an end. This book was a good and trusted companion on my drives to and from work and the longer treks to visit family. The book was satisfying, even though the really bad guys took way too long to get their just rewards! I didn’t just like the book, I loved it. A true epic, historical tale, and you don’t even have to be a history fan to enjoy it.

There is an eagerly-awaited mini-series based on this book coming up this summer on STARZ. This might be a good reason to subscribe, at least until you see the movie.

Follett has released a sequel to Pillars of the Earth entitled World Without End. A friend of mine read it and loved it, so I’ll probably give it a try when this Oprah challenge is finished.

Out of 5 stars, I give Pillars of the Earth….

*  *  *  *

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Monday Recipe Blog

What a great Monday we are having!  Today you will learn to make Healthy Corn Fritters....

I know, I know, healthy and corn fritters generally don’t go in the same sentence, but here is a nice little recipe that may change your mind about the corny little bits of joy.

What makes it healthier is the soymilk (you could use milk, though), the olive oil, chopped scallions and salt-free corn kernels. Corn contains vitamin c and a good amount of fiber. It helps to lower cholesterol. Corn also has folic acid and B vitamins.

You can keep these corn fritters in the fridge for up to three days. Bake in foil to reheat, or stick them in the microwave.

What follows are the instructions for healthy corn fritters….

Healthy Corn Fritters:

1 1/2 cups flour, self-rising

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs

1/2 cup soymilk

1 8 3/4 oz. of salt-free corn kernels, with no sugar added, drained

2 chopped scallions

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large bowl, add flour, baking powder, milk and eggs, then beat with a mixer until the batter is smooth.

Stir in the corn kernels and parsley.

Add the olive oil to a skillet, and heat it until it is hot. Put about 5 fritters in the pan – each will be about 1 tablespoon of batter, spacing them apart. Now reduce the heat a little and cook a couple of minutes on each side until a nice golden brown.

Keep the cooked fritters warm while you cook the rest of them, then serve them warm.

You can serve them with just about anything, but they are really great with pinto beans, fried potatoes and a slice of onion. Now that’s an Okie dinner!

Makes about a dozen fritters.

Photo by Peter Griffin

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Do You Have An Ugly Object In Your Backyard?

The best way to get rid of a terrible looking eyesore in your backyard is to pick it up and haul it away. However, we can’t always do this, for one reason or another.

To keep this thing, whatever it is, from ruining the looks of your backyard, you will need some inventiveness and ingenuity. Here is one way to hide that ugly beast….

Our backyard eyesore was a big, hollow pipe that sat upright in the very middle of the yard. It was about 6 feet tall, and the metal pipe was very thick and heavy, and cemented into the group several feet deep. It was about as wide as a hand.

Why would we have such a thing in the middle of our back yard, you ask? Well, it didn’t start out as just a big pipe in the yard. It actually held one of those gigantic satellite dishes from years past – the ones that turned on poles to capture satellite signals in the olden days.

We managed to dismantle and cart off the actual dish, and were left with a big, ugly hollow pole in the yard. Twice we convinced people to come over and take their turns at trying to get this thing out of the ground, or at least saw it off, and twice they failed.

When we realized that we were stuck forever with this post, we decided that the only other option was to hide it. But how do you hide a 6 foot tall, BIG metal pole smack in the middle of your backyard?

You make it into a backyard bird’s wonderland, that’s what! Using nothing but boards, nails, a saw and some wood stain, we fashioned a pretty wooden post around the eyesore that complete covered it.

For this post, we used 1x6 cedar boards purchased at the local lumber yard, cut them to the appropriate size, and nailed them into a very long rectangle around the pole, hiding it completely.

From this wooden post, we hung bird houses, feeders, and other bird amenities. We also formed a square flower bed area around it, trying to make it look as if we had planned it that way all along.

Almost everyone that visits the backyard comments on that beautiful post with the birdhouses. If they only knew…..

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Friday Dog Blog

It's Friday, and it's a Dog....

This guy adopted us on a trip to Southeastern Oklahoma. We spent a few days in a cabin near Broken Bow, and this Golden Lab stayed with us the entire time. He belonged to the people that owned the cabins. He was a terrific guard dog - we wished we could bring him home with us.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Stay Safe When A Vicious Dog Approaches....

We have all seen the news stories about adults and children being attacked by dogs. In the United States, 500,000 to 800,000 people each year are bitten by dogs and seek medical attention. Many more attacks and bites go unreported. Many times these attacks result in serious injury or death. About 12 people every year die from dog attacks. There are some strategies that a person can use to avoid an attack or to make the attack less harmful.

The following are some hints and tips in the event that you are confronted by an angry dog…

Be alert….Always be aware of your surroundings. When taking a walk, keep your head up and your eyes scanning around you.

Do not approach dogs that you do not know…Make sure that your children know this, too. Kids have a way of running up to dogs – this can be very dangerous.

Be careful of mother dogs….If a dog is caring for pups, you should never disturb that dog unless the owner is present and gives permission. Any animal protecting its young can bite or attack.

Do not disturb sleeping dogs or dogs that are eating their food. Instinct may kick in and you may receive a bite.

If a dog comes slowly up to you, allow it to sniff you and stay calm. Most of the time the dog will go away after it determines that you are not a threat. However, if the dog is approaching you at a run and is obviously hostile, you should take a defensive posture.

If the dog attacks and knocks you to the ground, roll up in a ball and cover your head and neck with your arms. Always protect your face and your throat.

If a hostile dog approaches you growling and snarling, stay calm. Don’t scream – talk slowly and quietly to the dog. Do not make eye contact and don’t turn around and run away. Stay still or slowly and quietly back away.

Do not leave a small child or baby alone with a dog. This goes even for dogs that you own or know well. Children and babies should never be unsupervised around a dog or other animal.

Dogs are wonderful creatures. If you are careful and keep your wits about you, you can usually escape a bad dog encounter without harm.

Photo by Vera Kratochvil

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Monday Recipe Blog

Hello - Happy Monday and how about a healthy Vanilla Trail Mix?

It’s difficult to find healthy alternatives to the snack foods that your kids crave, but here’s a nice one….This Vanilla Trail Mix is a great granola that is stuffed with antioxidants and grains. The seeds and nuts provide the needed protein, and best of all, it tastes great!

Packing this in you and your child’s lunchbox will keep both of you happier and healthier!

Here is the recipe for Vanilla Trail Mix:

Vanilla Trail Mix:


2 Cups rolled oats

1 1/4 Cups barley flakes (can substitute other grain flakes)

1/2 Cup pecans, chopped

1/2 Cup walnuts, chopped

1/4 Cup pumpkin seeds

1/4 Cup sunflower seeds

3 Tablespoons sesame seeds

5 Tablespoons apple juice

5 Tablespoons honey, preferably produced locally

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons vanilla extract

1 Teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 Teaspoon nutmeg

3/4 Cup berries, dried – can be any type you like

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease two baking sheets.

In a large bowl mix the oats, barley flakes, pecans, walnuts and seeds.

In a smaller bowl mix the apple juice, honey, oil, vanilla extract, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture and stir all of this together.

Spread evenly into the two baking sheets.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden, stirring once in a while.

Remove from oven, let cool, mix in the dried berries and you are ready to go!

This Vanilla Trail Mix can be stored in an airtight container for up to a month.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Catch A Crawdad the Oklahoma Way!

Lots of people believe that they have to go to a creek or river to catch a crawdad. However, in Oklahoma the crawdads like to make their homes in ditches and other low-lying areas where there is water directly underneath the ground.

The following are instructions on how to recognize a crawdad’s home and how to coax him out of his home once you find it.

A crawdad looks like a lobster, but smaller. He has two large claws that are used like we use our hands – to grab onto things. Some people boil and eat crawdads like lobsters, but it’s not common in my state to do that. Crawdads are usually caught by kids for fun and for scaring the heck out of Grandma, then released to go back to their crawdad busines

Get your bait ready. A crawdad’s favorite dinner is a piece of bacon, just a few inches big. Tie a string tightly around the piece of bacon. It will become the centerpiece of a huge tug of war pretty soon, so make sure it is secure. The string should be about 15 inches or so long.

You have to find a crawdad’s house before you can catch him. Crawdads like to stay under the ground, in the water, so you won’t find one taking a stroll in the park.

A crawdad’s abode is in a low-lying area where water stands when it rains, such as a ditch. You will see a mound of little mud clods, formed and carefully placed kind of like an Egyptian pyramid. This pyramid was made not by an Egyptian, but by the crawdad himself, as he was digging the hole down to the water underneath.

Knock over the crawdad’s mound. He may not like it, but he’ll get over it. You will see a carefully-dug hole directly underneath where the mound was. This is the crawdad’s route to his living room in the water.

Pull out your bait on a string and carefully feed it down into the hole. It should go down until it hits the water. Then wiggle and bob it a little, holding tightly to the top of the string. If the crawdad is at home, he will think it’s Christmas, and Santa is coming down the chimney. He will latch onto the bacon/gift with one of his big claws.

The tug of war begins. You can’t be too aggressive and jerk the string right up, or the crawdad will figure out that he’s being tricked and will let go. Pull it slowly and carefully, letting the crawdad win a little, then dashing his hopes by pulling a little harder. He will hang on because, come on, how many times does bacon just walk in the door?

Pull him up slowly and carefully. Haul him out onto the grass and marvel at what a scary and unattractive creature this is. Let him chow down on the bacon if he wants, but he’ll probably have a nervous stomach from the trip up the crawdad hole and won’t feel like eating.  Don’t let those claws get near you, or anyone that you want to scare, seriously. He will get some nasty revenge on you for wrecking his day if he can.

Handle the little guy carefully, and let him scurry back down to his house after a few minutes. You don’t want to hurt him - he probably has a wife and kids to support down there, after all.