How The Walking Dead Made Me Want Chocolate Pudding

I’m closing in on the final episodes of Season Five in the Walking Dead television series. walking dead 2 Even though I’m a big zombie fan, I gave up watching the series after the first season. I wasn’t impressed. But Amanda Stevens told me it got better after the first season. Since she is the queen of all Scary Things I kept going.

And it has turned out to be a very entertaining show. Needless to say, there’s plenty of gore and guts, but the characters are the real reason I keep watching. They’ve grown and changed with each season, chandler_riggs_frank_ockenfels_3-amc_-_p_2016especially Carl, the young son of the main character, ex-Sheriff Rick Grimes, aka Officer Friendly, Officer Hunk, and now Officer Let’s-Freak-Out-and-Kill-Someone.

I am rarely brought to tears by anything, much less what I read, write or watch. My husband calls me Hard-Hearted Hannah. But I have a confession to make. In Season Four, which is the best in my opinion, an episode comes near the end when Carl thinks his dad is close to dying. During a scavenger trip to find food, Carl discovers a cafeteria-size can of chocolate pudding. He takes the can to the safest place he can find, the roof of a porch, opens it and digs in. All by himself.

This is where I cried. Kids shouldn’t have to go through terrible things like Zombie Apocalypses where they have to forage for something to eat and kill bloody monsters with a stab to the head, and nothing brought this home to me as much as this one simple scene.

For years I’ve heard “Tell, don’t show.” I tried to take the advice to heart and still do after forty plus books, but nothing made me understand that as perfectly as this one scene. It also made me hungry for chocolate pudding so Sunday I made two different batches to see which one I liked better. chocolate puddingThis one’s from Tyler Florence. The second one I tried was from Smitten Kitten. I’m pretty sure Carl would have approved of either one. In fact, I’m pretty sure he would have eaten both bowls and licked them clean. All by himself.

A New Project

RainbowThis is the view we’ll have from our deck once we finish the new house in the Texas Hill Country we’re about to start.  Building and remodeling is something Mr. Luan and I have done for years, and we must be masochists because we enjoy it. Each project presents a unique challenge, and there’s something about it that gets us both going.  I think the challenges in this project are going to present some unique opportunities for “personal growth,” as they say.

We’ve worked with a local architect for more than a year to get the plans just right. The terrain is typical for the area—rocky outcrops, plenty of Cedar trees, plenty of oaks, and—as you can see from the following photo—plenty of spectators. Knowing now what I didn’t know then I’d say the bull on the left side of the picture must have made the surveyor a tad nervous.  Four surveys later, we’re still trying to get the house placed properly.closeup bull and survevy

It’s not difficult to understand why the corners have given us some problems (besides the bull.)  As we started clearing, the boulders we found were huge but size wasn’t the only problem. The limestone strata we uncovered was extremely dense.  The lot clearing we thought would take two weeks tops has now taken six weeks.  Our operators broke so many backhoe hammers the equipment rental business finally told us to take our business elsewhere (six hammers total).Hard work

 The rock haulers, however, were thrilled with our business. They took out 90 dump truck loads of stone and dirt. I kept as much as I could for future landscaping projects.

By the time we quit, the excavation site was more than 7’ at its deepest point.  The spot where I’m standing would be about halfway between the surveyor and the bull in the first photo.  The back corner of the house will be tucked into the side of the incline at this location. The opposite end of the house will be cantilevered over the side.in over my headNext week: Drilling for Dollars or The Well that Time Forgot.Well

My Secret Porn Addiction

I have a confession to make.  I’m addicted to porn.  House porn.

Most of the bookmarks on my IPAD are devoted to real estate blogs, realtor listing or building/remodeling.  I love looking at photos of home for sale or rent.  Big home, little homes, weird homes.  I love them all. I don’t really care where the homes are, although I’m partial to those in beautiful settings, of course, but for me it’s not location, location, location.  It’s what’s on the inside I like to examine.

I recently found this photo of a bathroom in a home in River Oaks in Houston.  It reminded me a lot of a bathroom I had once.  Haha, just kidding.  I liked the room because it looked so peaceful and relaxing.  I could imagine sitting in the tub and staring out at the garden.  I liked the chandelier, and I especially liked the design in the marble floor.  The juxtaposition of the extravagant and the subtle…this room is like a piece of art. 

Bathroom

 

The house is listed at $16,950,000, has 16,931 sq. ft., and was built in 1935.  Counting the one above, there are ten full bathrooms and five half baths.  I’m exhausted thinking about cleaning all that.  When you spend almost $17 mill on a house, I doubt that’s really an issue, though.

If you’re know anything about Houston, you’ll recognize the name “River Oaks.”  It’s one of Houston’s best known, well-loved neighborhoods. Beautiful homes of every design line its tree-shaded avenues, from southern colonials to stunning contemporaries. A lot of them are behind fourteen foot stone fences that only make me more curious when I occasionally drive through the neighborhood just to gawk.  Once I pulled up to a four-way stop sign.  The other three cars were a Jaguar, a Bentley, and a Rolls Royce.  The median home price in 2011 was $1,912,135.000. 

 The subdivision was first developed in the late 1920’s by two brothers.  They sold the lots for $2200 apiece and the homes build on them were required to have a value over $7000.  These figures represent an unbelievable fortune at that time, especially considered the country was tottering on the edge of the Great Depression. According to Mr. Luan, the numbers czar, that $7000 would be equal to approximately $700,000 now.  One lot is currently for sale on River Oaks Boulevard— it’s one and and a half acres, and the listing price is a little over $7 million dollars.

One of the current listings in the River Oaks area includes an indoor swimming pool, or as the Realtor described it, “an extraordinary natatorium.”

natatorium

This amazing home has 12,000 sq. feet of living space and the asking price is $17,900,000.  The house has a fascinating history. I grew up reading stories in the “society” pages of the Houston Post about the glamorous parties the owners hosted around that pool.  That is if they were in town.  Sometimes they stayed at the villa in Acapulco.Arabas

That home, which was called Villa Arabesque, was used in the filming of a James Bond movie.  With over 55,000 sq. ft, twelve bedrooms and twenty-two baths, it was a pretty cool home, too.

Their houses were spectacular but the couple who owned them was even more fascinating. Talk about a romance… I need to blog about them sometime.  In the meantime, here’s the main equation: Italian royalty plus Houston oil equals true love. I mean true, true love.  They were married over twenty years and died within weeks of each other.

The most expensive home for sale right now in Houston is called Chateau Carnarvon.  Chateau Carnarvon

The listing price is $43 million dollars, which is roughly twice more than the previously most expensive listing. Be sure and watch the video at the bottom of this link.  Personally I think having a British guy narrate the vid makes the house worth the price.  His voice lent a real note of elegance to my house porn pleasure for the day. If you share my addiction, perhaps it will elevate your day as well.

Want to hear the best part?  While researching this article, I emailed a buddy of mine who’s in real estate to ask her something about one of these homes.  She immediately wrote back and said “Oh!  Did you see something you’re interested in?”

“Oh, yeah,” I said, “It’s a little listing that’s $17 mill.  Can we see it this afternoon?”

We both laughed and agreed another day might be better. Like the day when I win the Lotto. Until that day comes, I continue to indulge in my secret porn pleasure.  House porn, that is.

 

Christmas Cookies

one-dozen-trello-butter-ball-cookies-4

Every family has their own favorites cookies for Christmas and my family is no exception. I think my brother could eat a whole batch of these at one time. As a matter of fact, I probably could, too. No low fat, no carb counting, just plain yummy cookies. Add your recipe to the comments if you like or email it to me and I’ll post it here with your name.

Butterballs

  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees. • Cream butter until fluffy, add sugar and vanilla • Add flour, fold in nuts. • Roll into balls or crescents and bake 15-18 minutes. • After cookies cool, sprinkle with more powdered sugar. 

 

Amazing Molasses Cookies from my buddy, Mary Jane Selle. Many fattening thanks…

Cream together:

  • 3/4 cup of Crisco
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons of molasses,
  • 1 egg

Sift the following together then add to wet ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, cloves and ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Cover and chill at least 1 hour. Roll into balls about the size of walnuts (about one rounded spoonful). Roll in colored sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. While warm they’re nice and soft. They harden and are crunchy a day later. Perfect for dipping in hot chocolate!

Merry Christmas from Mary Jane!

Tres Leches, Tres Yummy

 

I’m making a Tres Leches cake today to take to a friend’s house for dinner on Saturday.  If you’ve never had one, try this recipe.  It’ll make you feel like you’re in Mexico City, sitting at an outdoor café, having dessert and enjoying the sights.  A cup of café and you’re in business.

Tres Leches Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 5 whole Eggs
  • 1 cup Sugar, Divided
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1/3 cup Milk
  • 1 can Evaporated Milk
  • 1 can Sweetened, Condensed Milk
  • 1/4 cup Heavy Cream
  • _____
  • FOR THE ICING:
  • 1 pint Heavy Cream, For Whipping
  • 3 Tablespoons Sugar

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs.

Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.

Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.

Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.

Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream in a small pitcher. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about 1 cup of the milk mixture—try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can.

Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes. To ice the cake, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable.
Spread over the surface of the cake. Decorate cake with whole or chopped maraschino cherries. Cut into squares and serve.

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/09/tres-leches-cake/

The only thing constant is change…

Welcome to the new Kay David website. If you’re familiar with my work, you’ll see I’ve made some changes in my site and in my writing. If you’re a new reader, I’m thrilled to have you visit.

I’ll going to release several new books in the next few weeks, all of them through KayDavid.com. Most of them are brand new stories, but some will be old favorites. I’ll make sure you know which is which. One of my mother’s pet peeves was buying the same book twice because she didn’t recognize a reissue. Her ghost will haunt me if I don’t make the distinction obvious and I have enough trouble without that!

Continue reading The only thing constant is change…