Wednesday, February 29, 2012


After journeying to Atlanta Georgia for my spouse’s attendance at an SCBWI writer’s conference, we had lunch at an intriguing French restaurant near our hotel.

VIOLETTE RESTAURANT has been a “Diner’s Choice” award winner for two years in a row in the Atlanta French Food category.

Located on
Clairmont Road
in northeast Atlanta, Violette serves delicious French cuisine in a quaint, cozy atmosphere, with attentive, gracious service. The prices are reasonable as well.

Guy Luck, a chef from Strasbourg France, opened Violette Restaurant, named for his ex-girlfriend, in its present location in 1995, and its popularity has been ongoing. There is live guitar and piano music several nights per week

They serve quiche lorraine, boeuf bourgignon, country-style pate, fresh soup and salads (including beet salad), vegetarian pastas and hearty beef, pork, fish and fowl dishes.

Kathy and I were excited about the lunch items. We hadn’t had French cuisine in awhile, except at home. I wanted the lamb sausage, accompanied by couscous, a vegetable mélange and harissa (merguez a’l’harissa). Kathy was torn between the Bouchee a la Reine (Puff pastry filled with chicken, topped with a creamy mushroom sauce) and the Poulet Grand Marnier (a roasted chicken breast in an enticing orange-citrus sauce) finally deciding on the latter.

We both had a bowl of lentil soup before the entrée. It was delicious with a robust flavour. We finished the meal sharing a crepe Milton, which is an excellent dessert crepe filled with chocolate mousse and vanilla ice cream.

We were both very satisfied with the French cuisine served at Violette Restaurant.

If you are ever in northeast Atlanta, Georgia, you will enjoy dining at Violette Restaurant for the ambience, the service and of course the great food.

2948 Clairmont Rd NE
Atlanta, GA  (404) 633-3363

I intended to supply photographs to accompany this but regretfully only have a few. We tore into the soup and the entrees before thinking of taking a picture so therefore only the dessert was photographed before devouring.

Monday, February 27, 2012


Over two hundred children’s book writers, illustrators, publishers and agents gathered at the Marriot Century Hotel in Atlanta this past weekend for workshops, book launches and networking in this field.

Kathy Stemke launched her children’s book: “Sh Sh Sh, Let the Baby Sleep”, a charming, witty tale of a young boy protecting his brand new sister while taking her for a walk and encountering and overcoming various crises; thanks to wearing his “superhero” black glasses. Miss Stemke garnered some laughter and applause in the middle of her launch statement when she described some of the humorous narrative in the gorgeously illustrated (by Jack Foster) story.

The keynote Speaker was: Kirby Larson, 2007 Newbery Honor book, HATTIE BIG SKY

At the event were:
Greg Ferguson, Senior Editor of Egmont USA, Publishing House
Mary Kole, Associate Agent, Andrea Brown Literary
Kristin Daly Rens, Senior Editor, Balzer & Bray, an imprint of Harper Collins

Critique Faculty:
Dianne Hamilton, OnStage Publishing
Jessica Alexander, Peachtree Publishing
Peggy “PJ” Shaw, Wren Cottage Editing

My spouse, the beautiful, award -winning Education Tipster, won the Grand Prize of over 40 children’s’ books, from picture books through YA. Miss Kathy will donate them to libraries in Habersham and Stephens counties, Georgia.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


I am very excited about a recently received complex of homeopathic diabetic remedies.   My spouse Kathy has suffered from diabetes for over a decade now and her current prescription medication is not working as efficiently as in the past. Recently her health care provider has suggested that Kathy may need to start injecting insulin for more effective blood sugar control. I am quite unsettled by this proposition and my friends at H&N Health Paradise, a company dedicated to alternative options for health support in a natural way, have sent their proprietary homeopathic diabetic remedies to review.
                                                                      H&N Health Paradise is widely respected for their alternative options for health support using a natural approach. They provide homeopathic solutions to a wide array of health concerns, diabetes being one of them. Over 23 million Americans have diabetes and that number is rising, so I am not alone in trying to get a handle on this problem.

Kathy is attending the SCBWI Spring Mingle writers’ conference in Atlanta, Georgia this weekend. We will be dining at some fine restaurants while there, which I will talk about afterward .Upon returning home on Monday; Kathy will begin the all-natural treatment plan.

Friday, February 17, 2012


If the notion of eating borscht or beets in any form makes you sad, get ready for a tremendous upgrade. You’ll be delighted to learn that there is a perfectly wonderful way to enjoy this very healthy vegetable which is so rich in folate, manganese and fiber.
If you think you don't like beets – think again. You do like beets; you just haven't had them correctly prepared. Forget those horrible, cafeteria –style, canned, bland beets and roast up some of your own. When you do, you'll be a beet-lover. (Doesn’t that beat all?)

As their intense colour would suggest, beets are big-time on antioxidants, and have cancer and heart disease-fighting properties, as well as a host of vitamins and minerals. All in all, I can’t see why eating beets should be a rarity. Nutritious beets are inexpensive; they store well; and they’re available throughout the year.

Forget about the numerous health benefits these ruby-coloured foods bestow. Roasting the beets magically brings out a fabulous flavour that you will savour with an overall warm pleasantness that will tickle your innards. Roasted beets can’t be beat.

Roasted beets pair well with greens, cheese and nuts. If you haven’t eaten beets in awhile, here is a dish that will make you happy; a zesty, vibrant salad of greens, cheese and nuts that features roasted beets.

Salad of Roasted Beets with Gorgonzola and Walnuts                 serves four


5 small beets

¼ cup raspberry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
A couple drops of honey
1 clove of garlic, minced

1/4 cup olive oil     
½ teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste

½ pound baby spinach, torn
Small handful of watercress or radicchio, torn
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted                                
3 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (or blue cheese or goat cheese)  

Cut-up sliced peaches or mandarin orange segments (optional)


  • Heat oven to 400F. Wrap the beets in aluminum foil tightly and .bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let the beets steam for 10 minutes, then open and let the beets cool slightly.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together vinegar, mustard, honey, and garlic in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil and season with salt and pepper. Set vinaigrette aside.
·        After beets have cooled enough to handle, remove and discard skins and cut into bite-size pieces.
·        Mix beets with half of vinaigrette, then mix spinach and watercress or radicchio with the rest of the vinaigrette.
·        Transfer greens to plates and top with beets, walnuts, and gorgonzola cheese. You could add a little fruit to this if you like.
 Eat a beet this way for your good health, but mostly because it tastes marvelous.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Each October, certain North American cities take a moment to savour the rich history and the flavourful traditions that make pierogi such a treasured and tasty treat. And nowhere do they love pierogi more than in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania – a state that, according to Mrs. T's Pierogi, a big commercial pierog maker, purchases more pierogi per capita than any other U.S. state. In fact, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre are all included in the top 10 U.S .pierogie markets. The Pittsburgh Pirates hold a pierogi race during the bottom of the 5th inning at home games.

There are “pierogi days” festivals in Indiana and Connecticut too- but what about the rest of us? How come we aren’t enjoying those succulent filled- dumplings?

We might have come close without knowing it because pierogi-like products are truly worldwide.

Pierogi (singular-pierog) are a little like Italian ravioli, Ashkenazic kreplach and Oriental wontons.  Basically pierogi are filled dumplings, usually semi-circular, of unleavened dough which are first boiled and then baked or fried in butter along with fried minced onions. They are usually stuffed with potato filling, cheese or ground meat.

In certain parts of the world pierogies are very popular. The Western Slavs (Poles, Czechs and Slovaks), the Eastern Slavs (Belarusians, Russians and Ukrainians) and the Baltic peoples (Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians) all consider pierogies their own, even though they all spell them slightly differently.

There are different ways to make pierogi, but I remember dough made with sour cream in it that was so wonderful. You don’t have to be Polish to love pierogi. I like using the untraditional ricotta cheese for this, which everyone absolutely loves.

Cheese Filling                                         Makes 3 cups

1 pound of regular ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 tablespoon of sugar

Mix everything well.

Dough                                              Makes about one dozen pierogi

2cups flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling dough
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup butter cut into small pieces
Butter and finely chopped onions for frying with the pierogi


Mix the flour and salt
Beat the egg and pour into the flour
Add the sour cream and the butter pieces and work into the dough a couple minutes
You may do above step in food processor but beware of over-beating
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a half hour or overnight, but no longer than 2 days

Preparing Pierogi

  • Roll the dough on a floured board to1/8 inch thickness. It must be thin.
  • Cut circles of dough with a cookie cutter, drinking glass or other device to a diameter of 2 inch or 31/2 inch depending on what size you prefer
  • Place a small mound of filling (approximately 1 tablespoon) on each circle of dough
  • Fold the dough over to form a semi-circle
  • Press the edges together with a fork. If having trouble making them stick, use a little water on the edges.

  • Boil the pierogi in a large pot of water large enough to hold them all or in batches
  • After about 8 minutes, they will float to top and can be removed, rinsed in cool water to stop further cooking, and dried on a wire rack

Fry finely chopped onions in butter until softened. Then add the pierogi and pan fry until lightly crispy. Serve the pierogi and onions with sour cream on the side.

When October rolls around, you can be ready to serve these delectable dumplings. If you enjoy making these, you’ll find plenty of folks to share them with.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


When we think of beans, we may think of pork and beans, red beans and rice or perhaps cassoulet, see here but automobiles? Really? Automaker Henry Ford grew acres and acres of soybeans, intending to make a soybean plastic to build cars out of them. He made one prototype in 1941 but World War II priorities killed the program. Ford, a believer in agriculture uses for industrial use did use soybean-based plastic for gearshift knobs, horn buttons and such.

While soybean use in Asia goes further back, the American chemist George Washington Carver, in 1904, detailed how valuable a foodstuff soybeans are. Not just the bean’s oil or the protein in the meal but the huge concentration of vital minerals as well. Carver also related how exceptional planted soybeans were for farmland soil enrichment.

I think the best use of soybeans is in producing bean curd, which the Chinese call tofu. Many people turn up their noses when I mention tofu but it really is a miracle food. Vegetarians can appreciate tofu for the high protein content but so can anybody, because properly prepared; tofu makes a superlative culinary contribution. I have been preparing Italian –style stuffed shells with it for years. See here
A great tofu dish for neophytes is a crispy one with a couple of colourful vegetables in a sweet and hot sauce. These crispy, golden cubes are aromatic and spicy and sure to thrill your taste-buds. You may already have all the groceries for the tofu in your pantry. So please give it a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Really.

Crispy Tofu with Chili Soy Sauce                                 serves 4


1 pound of firm tofu
3 Tablespoons  vegetable oil
2 Garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 Carrot, cut into julienne sticks
1 Green or red bell pepper, cut into julienne sticks

1 Small red chili pepper, seeded and minced or ¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes or 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Adjust according to taste
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce (aka nam pla or nuoc mam)
2 tablespoons brown sugar


  • Thoroughly drain the tofu, first on a wire rack, then on paper towels.
  • Cut into small cubes (3/4 “) or slice horizontally so you have ¼ “ planks and then cut them into one inch squares (they will be like wafers)
  • Place them on fresh paper towels to absorb any excess moisture
  • Heat a large skillet till warm, add the oil and slowly heat.
  • Increase the flame to high and add the garlic
  • Fry garlic, stirring all the while and remove when golden and set aside
  • Add the tofu, let sit a minute or two, and then carefully turn when golden brown. You might want to do small portions at a time. Adjust flame so as not to burn
  • Take out the tofu and drain on wire rack or paper toweling, keep warm
  • Put the carrot and bell pepper into skillet and stir-fry one minute
  • Put the tofu into a serving dish or the individual plates and put the stir-fry atop it
  • Combine the last five ingredients in a bowl
  • Stir the mixture to dissolve the sugar
  • Pour over the tofu and top off with the garlic slices.

How hard is that? Not. But wait, the taste is so awe-inspiring you will stock tofu regularly. Really.

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