Wise Words

"Wait on the Lord, be strong and of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart...wait on the Lord. Psalms 27:14


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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Ask Nic Q&A Session

It's time for the QA session for Ask Nic. I have some great questions and I promise to not be as "long winded" as the last Ask Nic session(s) here, here and here. Again the questions are answered in the order received.

First up this time is a long-time blogfriend from many galaxies far, far awayJean-Luc Picard:

How do you look for new blogs? Do you look at commenters in blogs you already like, or randomly search?

Good question my friend. I started looking at the blogrolls of a couple of people who found me randomly and commented and started looking at their blogrolls, etc. Then I found a great site of a really cool lady Michele Agnew. She has this awesome weekend Meet and Greet every Friday through Sunday and I found you (Jean-Luc) and another blogfriend who lives in Houston, Present Storms, and her hubby Guppyman through her. And so forth and so on. So the short answer is I find the majority of my blog reads through other commentors, Michele's site or my blog read's blogrolls. Every now and then I'll do a blog search on something that I'm curious about and I'll find a good site from the search.

How do you find your blog reads my friend?
The next question comes from John aka Duke of Earle about my Irish Stew recipe:

If I used Corona instead of Guinness, would it be Mexican Stew? Just curious.


Um, LOL, no. The name of the stew doesn't come from the Guinness, it comes form the ingredients as a whole. The richer flavor of the stew comes from the richness of the Guinness and the red wine. Somehow I don't think that Corona would have the same taste. LOL! BTW, glad to know that your yearly trip to Winter Park was wonderful, minus the breakdown of the van. But at least it was in a beautiful area of the country. John, his family and I have a real affinity for Winter Park – personally, I believe the best ski resort around. It has fabulous runs, great snow, a beautiful, quaint little town and is just gorgeous! It's one of the last unspoiled ski towns that haven't been overrun by celebrities where the rates are nothing but sky high. The rates are very reasonable. Color me green, my friend, but I'm glad the family made it back just fine and had fun doing it!

P.S. Loved the picture of the shirt and happy belated birthday! :)
She was mentioned above and now here's a question from Present Storms that she may not have intended to be in the Ask Nic Q&A but I put it in there anyway. It's also about my Irish Stew recipe:

mmm that sounds very good. Is this one that you have made before?

Well, actually yes. I made it yesterday - hint - simmer it for several hours - it tastes better. It tastes even more amazing the 2nd day! Here are some pictures.

Me after making this stew for about two hours. I'm tired, shoved my hair in two stubby ponytails (not that you can even tell b/c my hair is that short right now), and have no makeup on. And I don't care! It's brrrrrr cold outside, a wee bit icy outside and it's the perfect weekend to make this!

The stew as it is cooking. Yummy stuff!

The finished product in a sourdough soup bowl. Now doesn't that make your tummy rumble and your mouth water?!

The Guinness really does make the stew absolutely delish – however, I modified the recipe when I made it this weekend. I added about 1 ½ teaspoons of salt (it needed some salt after it had simmered through), celery and a lot of quartered fresh white mushrooms and more worcestershire than what it called for. Also instead of just straight thyme, I used herbes de provence oh and buffalo meat instead of beef, but that's not really important either, though buffalo is a much leaner and more tender red meat than regular beef. Oh and, um, I used more Guinness and red wine than what it called for. Is that bad? ;) Anyway, it came out just divine as you can see by the pictures. It looks good and it makes the taste buds sing. There'll be stew for a few days but with the temps in the low 30's for the highs, that's fine with me. Plus Emily just loves it and any home cooked meal that she scarfs down is good for me. LOL!
We have next, No Average Girl, one of my sweetest blog friends. She had a food related question as well, though not about the stew:

what is your favorite dessert? if it's something you make, what is the recipe?

Well, that one is actually tough b/c I'm not really a sweets person. But, I guess I will have to say baklava. To me it is a perfect desert. I use almonds in mine though instead of walnuts. I'm not a walnut fan. I also sometimes will liven it up by adding chocolate chips to the mix so that it creates a chocolate baklava. It goes perfect with home made vanilla ice cream (not store bought).

This recipe comes from some great writer friends of mine, Lori and Tony Karayianni – married for many, many years and completely in love. Lori is so very young looking (she looks like she's in her mid-late 30's to me) I still have trouble believing they have kids who are adults and have been married for 23 years. If you can't tell by the last name, Tony is as Greek as they come. They're both just total sweethearts. Oh, you might know them in the romance world better as Tori Carrington, the pen name they write under.

1 box Greek phyllo sheets (in your grocer's freezer section)
2 sticks real, unsalted butter (melted)
4 cups chopped walnuts (almonds)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsps cinnamon

In a regular 13" x 9" Pyrex baking pan, layer 8-10 sheets of phyllo (cut to fit the pan, about half the phyllo sheet), brushing melted butter on each sheet before adding the next sheet. Sprinkle 1/2 the almonds, 1/2 the sugar and 1/2 the cinnamon on the prepared phyllo (use more or less of each depending on taste). Layer five more sheets of phyllo, again buttering each as you go. Sprinkle the remaining almonds, sugar and cinnamon on top of this. Then layer about 15-18 more sheets of phyllo on top of this, buttering each sheet as you go. Then you want to cut the pieces before baking in the pan, going diagonally to get that diamond shape. This takes some finesse. You'll want to make sure your knife is sharp and you get all the way down to the bottom of the pan. Then bake in a 350 degree oven for approx. half an hour or until top and bottom of phyllo is golden brown. Let it cool, then make the syrup.


4 cups sugar
2 cups water
honey (from 1/4 cup to 1/2 depending on taste)
a pinch of vanilla (1/2 tsp if liquid extract)
a one inch piece of lemon rind

Combine ingredients in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil then turn down the heat and simmer for five minutes.

Pour hot syrup over the baklava, then let cool until the syrup is absorbed.

Opa! You're done!

If you make it I hope you let me know how you like it!
Finally we get to one of my favorite blog friends. We're the odd couple in so many ways. Like the song goes "I say to-may-to, you say to-mah-to..." but he has been such an encourager and I adore him. Even though I am right wing conservative and he is a self-described liberal XXXL hippie. He's having some problems with his original blogsite so he has a temporary new one which I have linked on this post. My last question comes from Great White Bear:

So how does a nice southern girl, one with such southern attitudes, come to love Celtic music and beverages? Enquiring minds!

Southern attitudes? LOL. I'm not sure what that means.

Can I just say three words: "men in kilts"? No, not really. Actually, since I was a kid I've truly loved any music that was Celtic. I've always been drawn to all things Celtic. Celtic music is so haunting and beautiful and I can get lost in it. I also really love the bagpipes too! Especially the reels with the drums and the bodhran. It makes me want to tap my feet and get up and dance. Bagpipes can be reverent or they can be rowdy and I love them both ways, along with the penny whistle. There's a really great band that plays here in Austin called Pubcrawler. They're the group that plays Celtic rock and does a really good job of it too!

I'm so excited b/c as my Christmas present to myself I got a pair of tickets to go see The Black Watch and The Band of the Welsh Guards at the Frank Erwin Center on February 24, this coming Friday! Unfortch, I don't have anyone to go with and I don't want to waste a ticket. They're great seats, really close. My tickets are where the red dot is.

Since MC had her surgery two weeks after she was supposed to and because Amy is in England/Ireland right now, I don't have anyone to go with right now. Hopefully I can maybe ask one of the girls at work if they can go. All I know is that I can't wait to go! (Even if I have to go alone)

On the beverages. I like dark beer. Ale's, bock's, red's. Pretty much any kind of dark beer. It's richer, fuller flavored and it just plain tastes better than the light junk. The darker the beer the better it tastes it seems to me. I'm not so much a scotch or whiskey fan. Though I know that there are some really great scotch's from Scotland I've just never really been into scotch.

I've always dreamed of going to Ireland and Scotland and time and money and parenting won't allow it so I have to content myself with the music and the occasional beer from there. I also go to some of the Highland games around Texas to get my fix of seeing brawny men in kilts. LOL! I keed, I keed! Actually I go for the piper's competitions. Excellent fun!
Thanks all for participating in the Ask Nic Q&A! I really enjoy answering your questions. :)


greatwhitebear said...

Ah, Nic... If I were a man of means, i'd fly down and take that seat off your hands in a heartbeat. Great seats!

If its great skiing and a quaint, not over run with glitteratti town you seek, you should visit Iron Mt. MI (in the UP). Indianhead and Big Powderhorn offer the only Rocky Mtn. style skiing east of the Mississippi, and one of the three bobsled runs in the US (I think it is still there). Plus, you get to hang out with the Yoopers, eat pasties, and drink Leinenkugel. Uuf Dah!

I am in totoal agreement with your Celtic beverage choices! I particularly love the Reds, especially Murphys. Also love Snakebites (half Guiness, half hard Cider). I drink two shots of Irish whiskey a year, on st. Patrick's day, in honor of the ancestors. One shot of Protestant whiskey (Old Bushmill's), one shot of Catholic whiskey (Jaimeson's). That way I keep all the ancsestors happy for another year.

oops, almost 5:30... time for THE THHISTLE AND SHAMROCK to come on the local NPR station. TTFN!

no_average_girl said...

what a great session! i'll definitely have to try to the baklava...i do have a day off tomorrow, so i may can try it then - if i have all the ingredients!

it's been wonderful to get to know more about you in these ask nic sessions! i look forward to more!!!

songstress7 said...

Catching up on older blog entries - have been unable to read blogs for a while and I started at the top of my bloglines list today... I've missed keeping up with you, Nic... I'll try to do better.

That baklava recipe looks WONDERFUL. I hate walnuts, myself, but baklava has always appealed to me in theory, so this is definitely going on the list of "recipes to try very soon".

Be blessed, sister!