Grillo Center Labyrinth

Grillo Center Labyrinth
Meander and Meet....designed by George Peters and Melanie Walker of Airworks For more information contact Susan at

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Saturday Morning Walkers - September 1, 2008

Happy Labor Day!

Hope you all had a lovely and relaxing holiday weekend. We had quite a turnout on Saturday morning for our walk that Jan led around Twin Lakes in Gunbarrel - Mary, Andrea, Laila, Terri, Gaye, Barb and Me - Chris joined us for coffee at Page Two Cafe. Following that, Gaye and I joined Barb in the Voter Registration Drive being orchestrated by Dickie Lee Hullinghorst as part of her campaign for State Representative.
Barb is working tirelessly as Dickie Lee's campaign manager. This voter registration drive will continue throughout the month - I'm going to do it again next Saturday morning. Anyone care to join the effort?

Book Report:

I just finished The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta - he wrote Little Children (perhaps you saw the movie) - I highly recommend the book. It is eerily timely - do check it out!

From Booklist
As is evident from his previous novels Election (1998) and Little Children (2004), Perotta seems to enjoy putting characters with divergent belief systems together in a bag, as it were, and shaking it up. That is the technique he uses in his latest novel, to satiric effect. Ruth Ramsey, divorced, is the human sexuality teacher at the local high school; she believes in being honest with her students, telling them that some people "enjoy oral sex." She lands in hot water when an evangelical church, offended by her curriculum, forces the school board to include a section on abstinence. Tim Mason is the beloved soccer coach of Ruth's young daughter, Maggie. He is also a reformed stoner/loser and an entrenched member of the church that attacked Ruth. Things get interesting when Tim, in a moment of crisis, leads his team of girls in prayer, and Ruth publicly drags her daughter from the soccer field. Ironically, Ruth and Tim find they have more in common than they thought, and a shaky—at times humorous—interchange begins. Perotta focuses on the small, personal motives behind life's big shake-ups. A finely wrought novel that will be in demand.

Mary suggests Playing for Pizza by John Grisham - this is apparently a light-hearted departure from Grisham's usual legal thrillers.

“Fans of John Grisham live for his legal thrillers, but now and then he serves up something unexpected. That’s exactly what he does, with great success, in Playing for Pizza.” —USA Today
“Enthralling.” —People
“Score another one for Grisham...This is a fish-out-of-water tale that perfectly suits his strengths as a storyteller.” —USA Today
“A light-hearted story of football, food and love.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Football in Italy? Who knew? Grisham means to have a sweet time with this story of a fallen NFL quarterback. And he does.” —Daily News (New York)
“Delightfully comic...a deeply satisfying story.” —The Boston Globe
“Charming...the author's love letter to Italy.” —Publishers Weekly

Terri enjoys and recommends James Patterson's Women Murder Club series.

Gaye just read and enjoyed Mercy by Jody Picoult - she's one of my favorite storytellers.

From Publishers Weekly
What could have been a competent, topical novel about a mercy killing becomes, in Picoult's (following Picture Perfect, 1995) hands, an inspired meditation on love. The setting is Wheelock, Mass., a slightly eccentric town where most of the residents are of Scottish descent, where weddings end in a blood vow, the name MacDonald is "painted on an alarming number of mailboxes" and police chief Cameron MacDonald doubles as clan chief and protector. On a seemingly ordinary day in Wheelock, Jamie MacDonald, a cousin of Cameron's, drives to the police station and announces: "My wife here, Maggie, is dead, and I'm the one who killed her." Cam finds himself saddled with a murder case and a conflict of interest: his cousin has given in to the pleas of his cancer-ravaged wife to kill her, and he's come to the clan chief to confess. But as police chief, Cam must also prosecute. On the same day, Cam's wife, Allie, the local florist, hires Mia, a violet-eyed beauty with a genius for flower arranging. Allie gets involved in Jamie's case, and Cam, who has spent his life in service to his community and his clan, falls in love with Mia and begins an affair that will bring his marriage to the breaking point and change it profoundly. Like Jamie, Allie is the marriage partner who loves more. "It's never fifty-fifty," says Jamie. As Jamie's court case proceeds, Picoult plumbs the emotional core of both marriages. The pace of the trial is slow, but Picoult pays loving attention to her central characters, fashioning a sensitive exploration of the balance of love.

Website of the Week - - "Silobreaker is an online search service out of the UK for news and current events that delivers meaning and relevance beyond traditional search and aggregation engines. Its relational analysis and explanatory graphics provide users with unparalleled contextual insight into the news stories of the day.'

Podcast of the Week - check out and search for DNC speeches for a podcast from the DNC with select speeches you may have missed last week.

Vocabulary Word of the Week - aggregation

1: a group, body, or mass composed of many distinct parts or individuals
2: the collecting of units or parts into a mass or whole b: the condition of being so collected
— ag·gre·ga·tion·al \-shnəl, -shə-nəl\ adjective

Cooking and Dining Report

Here are a few more recipes from Susan's kitchen:

From Mark Bitten of the New York Times, Grilled Steak with Garlic (Fleica) - this recipe originated in Romania - I used Flank Steak but you could use skirt steak, strip or rib-eye. It is a very simple preparation.

From Frog Hollow Farm, Grilled Peaches with Ice Cream - take advantage of luscious local peaches with this simple but elegant dessert.

This Plum Torte from The Splendid Table has become an annual treat at this time of the summer when Italian Prune Plums appear - unfortunately, we haven't seen any yet so I improvised and did it with peaches - pretty good! Do let me know if you happen to find them where you shop here in Colorado.

From RecipeSource by way of Mark Bitten of the New York Times, Low Country Oyster Loaf - wow, this was terrific! One tip, I would let it sit for 10 minutes or so before slicing - I think it would hold together a bit better.

Quote of the Week: from a Barack Obama speech on February 5, 2008,
"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."

Have a great week ahead!


Saturday Morning Walkers - August 24, 2008

Hi everyone,

Jack and I got back last night from our visit with Jeff in Anchorage. We had a wonderful visit and it was good to be with Jeff and meet some of his friends. We had some great meals and will report on those below in the Cooking and Dining Report. I missed our Saturday morning walk but it sounds like Christie planned a nice Louisville walk and ended up with breakfast at the Huckleberry Cafe on Main Street.

Book Report: pretty slim this week - I'm reading The Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield. I've mentioned this before, read bits and pieces and am finally making a point of reading it cover to cover. It is a fascinating study of Buddhist psychology that is the perfect follow-up to Eckhard Tolle's A New Earth.

Website of the Week - - an online magazine of short fiction and poetry

Podcast of the Week - - part of the wonderful quick and dirty tips series

Vocabulary Word of the Week - teacherage - we saw one of these in Girdwood, Alaska

–noun a building serving as a combination school and living quarters, as on certain government reservations and in remote, sparsely settled areas.

Cooking and Dining Report:

Join us on a restaurant tour of Anchorage, Girdwood, and Talkeetna, Alaska:

Breakfast at the Snow City Cafe in downtown Anchorage - terrific and busy place - great breakfasts - Jeff had Eggs Florentine, Jack had Blueberry Pancakes and I had my usual poached eggs, fruit and toast.

Dinner at the Double Musky Inn in Girdwood - we had a wonderful dinner with Jeff's friends, Julia and Jon. Laila had recommended this restaurant and it exceeded our expectations. Girdwood is actually a ski resort town and the Double Musky is the perfect spot after a day of skiing. Of course, I would certainly skip the skiing and just go to dinner. We did ride the gondola to the top of the mountain and the view was breathtaking.
Jeff had crab-stuffed halibut, Jack had steak au poivre and I had a NY strip steak - everything was delicious!

Thursday:After breakfast at the Downtown Deli near our hotel, we headed out for our road trip to Talkeetna - Gateway to Denali. This is a tiny, rustic little town that inspired the town in the television show, Northern Exposure.

We stopped at the Sheep Creek Lodge for lunch, just about 30 minutes outside of Talkeetna - Jeff had a roast beef sandwich with cream cheese horseradish and cheddar cheese and Jack and shared a great burger and a BLTA - avocado - yum!
We stayed at a fun little place called Main Street Suites ate dinner at the Wildflower Cafe just below our suite.
Jeff had an amazing Chef Salad which featured huge pieces of crabmeat, Jack had Chicken Alfredo with homemade and very fresh pasta and I had Baked-stuffed Halibut - outstanding!


Before we left Talkeetna, we couldn't miss breakfast at The Roadhouse (another of Laila's recommendations) - fantastic breakfast - Jeff had Biscuits and Gravy, Jack had Sourdough Blueberry Pancakes and I had Scrambled Eggs with homefries and toast from their homemade bread.

Back in Anchorage, we had pizza at the Moose Tooth - in addition to our pizza, we all shared a very good Caesar Salad and tasted some of Jeff's Hungarian Mushroom Soup - really tasty!

Dinner on our last night was quite lovely. We went to Sacks Cafe and Restaurant, specializing in new American eclectic cuisine. Jeff saw several of his friends, a couple who work there and others who were also dining there.
We shared a beautiful appetizer - a platter with baked brie, served with marsala-poached apricots, candied walnuts, melon, apples and sliced baguettes - it was a gorgeous presentation and a really nice combination of flavors. Jack also had Alaska oysters
Jeff had the DUCK BREAST SALAD – pan seared – field greens, grape tomatoes, cambozola cheese, candied almonds, kahlua poached bartlett pears, cider dijon vinaigrette
Jack had the FILET OF BEEF – grilled – luv rub crust – mashed yellow potatoes, roasted portabello mushroom, grilled asparagus, rosemary port reduction, cambozola cheese
I had FRESH ALASKAN HALIBUT – oven roasted – fresh herb lemon crust, artichoke heart & caper relish, orzo pasta & spinach salad, roasted tomato crème, prosciutto wrapped asparagus
Everything was beautifully prepared and presented.

Well, that's our food tour of Anchorage/Girdwood/Talkeetna - if you ever get to Anchorage, be sure to try some of these spots and don't forget, Jeff works at the very popular Glacier Brewhouse -

Quote of the Week:

Food is so primal, so essential a part of our lives, often the mere sharing of recipes with strangers turns them into good friends. That's why I love this community. ~Jasmine Heiler, about

Have a great week - enjoy watching the Convention!


Saturday Morning Walkers - August 18, 2008

Hi everyone!

It has been a whirlwind week for us - Jexy and Jacob arrived on Tuesday and are leaving tomorrow. You all know how much I will miss them but the good news is that we will be heading out to visit Jeff in Alaska this Tuesday. Looks like we're in for cool, rainy days - oh well!! Of course, we've just had a couple of rainy days here in Colorado - our Saturday morning walk was rained out but we still had a great turnout for coffee at the Page 2 Cafe in Gunbarrel - Andrea, Laila, Barb, Mary, Cass, Jan, me and Jexy.

Book Report:

Jexy is reading a book she is enjoying - The God of War by Marisa Silver.
From Publishers Weekly
An elegantly observed coming-of-age story steeped in poverty and violence, this novel by the author of No Direction Home offers a poignant and often heartbreaking account of Ares Ramirez. The year is 1978, and 12-year-old Ares has outgrown the cramped trailer in the California desert that he shares with his mother, Laurel, and six-year-old brother, Malcolm. Malcolm has profound developmental disabilities, but Laurel, out of a free-spirited and self-righteous view of motherhood, has only recently (and very reluctantly) allowed Malcolm to get treatment. A horrific childhood accident and encroaching adolescence, meanwhile, fill Ares with a potent and inarticulate anger. In the absence of any outlet for his preoccupation with violence, Ares falls into an uneasy friendship with Kevin, the troubled foster child of Malcolm's new speech therapist. Conflict with Laurel, her on-again-off-again boyfriend and a small community that will not accept Malcolm, drive Ares into Kevin's manipulative sway, and Ares will have to choose between protecting his family or embracing the violence building inside him. The characters are painted with compassion and unflinching honesty, and the climax is pithy and consequential. (Apr.)

Mandy A. listed a book on her Facebook bookshelf page which sounds good to me - More Than It Hurts You by Darin Strauss.

From Publishers Weekly
The third novel from the author of Chang and Eng and The Real McCoy is an often satiric page-turner that tracks a Long Island family crisis. Josh Goldin is a happily married TV airtime salesman with an eight-month-old son. When baby Zack is treated twice for mysterious and life-threatening symptoms, the head of a pediatric ICU, Dr. Darlene Stokes, tells Child Protective Services that she thinks Josh's wife, Dori, suffers from Munchausen syndrome, whereby the afflicted injure their children deliberately to draw attention to themselves. The Goldins' ensuing battle to keep Zack provides grist for public debate about issues ranging from parents' rights to race (Dr. Stokes is black, the Goldins Jewish). Strauss takes delight in skewering a world in which everything (news coverage, legal representation, hospital beds) is for sale, sometimes digressively, always amusingly. The stereotypes are intentionally heavy-handed: Josh's perceptions almost always register through race and class-related fear and disgust. But the heart of the story—the unraveling of Josh's life and the steady erosion of his faith that ignorance can be a virtue and happiness a choice—is riveting.

I started reading Ann Packer's newest novel, Song Without Words and I am disappointed to say that I have put it down and will not finish it - I loved her book, Dive From Clausen's Pier but this one just doesn't measure up for me.

Website of the Week: - "We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit, "consumer advocate" for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding."

Podcast of the Week: radio -

Vocabulary Word of the Week - Nonplussed - this was contributed by Barbara Rowland and is accompanied by this opinion column from the Los Angeles Times,0,4695540.column

Cooking and Dining Report:

Janet made this wonderful corn chowder from Ina Garten on The Food Network

Jexy prepared dinner on Friday night and we loved these Calzone Rolls with Sausage, Basil and Tomatoes from Rachael Ray of the Food Network

We made this Heavenly Hazelnut Pound Cake, also from Rachael Ray - so easy and "heavenly" - how can you miss with Nutella and whipped cream?! And the pound cake is store bought.

I decided to try Julia Child's Roast Chicken recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. My intention was to follow it to the letter but after I defrosted my chicken, I realized that I had had it "butterflied" at the store, so right off the bat, I had to make modifications to Julia's technique. The result was a delicious chicken with a fantastic pan sauce to flavor it but the skin was not as crisp as it should have been. I will try it again with an intact whole chicken.

This recipe for Prosciutto and Cheese Stuffed Lamb Tenderloin from my friend, Giada de Laurentiis was terrific but do note that I actually made it with Pork Tenderloin. Jack is not a lover of lamb. We loved it! I think it would also work well with beef tenderloin but that would certainly be much pricier. The pork is definitely more economical and was moist and flavorful.

Whew - I'm not cooking until we get back from Alaska!

Quote of the Week - from Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron - "The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new"