N. Renee Brown

Part-time Author, Full-time Book Junkie

A little Taste: Fall Chili


As fall begins to creep up on us, my cooking turns to warmer things with which to nourish the soul. This week, in the midst of my recovery (and one day I promise to tell you the story of what happened while I was away), I was driven to do one thing…cook chili.
And now I am driven to share.

Yummy chili!!!

2lbs of very lean ground turkey (go for more rather than less)
2 large onions chopped
3 cans of diced tomatoes (I usually do one can of no salt added)
1 can of dark red kidney beans
1 can of pinto beans (or whatever chili bean you like)
2 packages of McCormick’s chili seasoning (I usually mix hot and original)
1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic

Brown the meat and onions together, draining off the fat when done.

In a stew pot dump all the ingredients together, stirring well.  Cook over medium heat until you can’t resist the smell any longer!  Top with your favorites, I’ve included a list below.


Shredded cheese

Sour Cream

Tortilla Chips or Crackers



(Thanks to my woman for sending me the photo!!!)

A little taste: Weekend Cous Cous

So, I knew this recipe had to be something special when Day came home from “Guide Dog School” carrying a cookbook. You heard it here first, she BOUGHT a cookbook…all for one recipe.

And it was worth it.

This is such a great recipe, even more, this is a great cookbook! I love it! If you get the chance to pick this up, DO IT! Even if it means going to Guide Dog School, which you might just have to do, because I can’t find a link anywhere on their site that will let you buy it. 🙂

Even if you can’t buy it, consider donating to Guide Dogs for the Blind. They provide dogs to people with vision problems at not cost to them, and are a wonderful school totally worth supporting! http://www.guidedogs.com


Best EVAH 7 Veggie Cous Cous

1/3 c. Olive Oil
2 Large Leeks (white and pale green parts only)
2 T. minced garlic
2 1/4 c. Vegetable Stock
1 c. Raisins
1 peeled butternut squash in 1/2 inch cubes
1 peeled acorn squash in 1/2 inch cubes
2 medium zucchini or yellow squash
1 can garbanzo beans
1 tsp. Curry Powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 dash Cyanne pepper
1 can diced canned tomatoes, drained
3/4 c. frozen green peas
1/2 c. coarsely chopped cilantro
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 1/2 c. cous cous
Harissa (see reicipe below)

Heat oil in a large pot over low heat. Add leeks and garlic. Cover and cook until leeks are tender but not brown (6-8 minutes). Add stock, raisins, butternut and acorn squash, garbanzo beans, cut try powder ginger, cayenne. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and add zucchini, cover and cook till vegetables are tender.

Mix in tomatoes, green peas, cilantro, cinnamon, and cous cous. Cover and let stand 10 minutes.

Serve with Harissa.

2 c. Tomato Sauce
1 Tbsp. Crushed Red Pepper
1 c. Olive Oil (I cut this down to 1/3c. and was just fine)
1/2 c. Red Wine Vinegar
6 green onions
1/2 Cinnamon Stick
1 small onion chopped
2 large garlic cloves minced


Combine all ingredients (except cinnamon stick) in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, add cinnamon and simmer for 15 minutes. Wisk before serving.

(from “The Oregon Cookbook”, Guide Dogs for the Blind Inc.)

A Little Taste: Basic German Crepes

Long ago, my wife told me that she loved crepes…so I made an effort to learn how to make them. So many of these “thin pancakes” turned out to be a little too thick for her (yeah, she’s picky…but I love her). Finally, I stumbled upon a wonderful recipe at www.allrecipies.com. The woman who submitted it was a studio musician and often found herself in the studio kitchen where there were staples but not much more…and she found crepes a fantastic fallback. (By the way, I can’t find this recipe online anymore…I’m so happy I wrote it out so I wouldn’t have to use my IPAD and get it all flour-covered.)
This recipe creates a batter just thin enough to spread completely over the bottom of my crepe pan before it solidifies. Our family typically fills a few with cheese and apple, nutella and bananas, and brown sugar and cinnamon.

Basic German Crepes

1 cup flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbl butter (melted)

Wisk together flour and eggs.
Add milk and water.
Add salt and butter.
Beat until smooth.

Heat crepe pan (or frying pan/saute pan), use cooking spray or a little butter to lubricate the bottom of the pan. Using a ladle, pour approx. HALF a ladle full of batter into the hot pan. Swirl it around until the bottom of the pan is covered equally. Cook until the bottom is lightly browned and then flip.
Serve immediately, with lots of good stuff inside!

P.S. I’ll try to get a pic up later.

A little taste: Comfort Food!

Ok, so I have some weird comfort foods…but when I tell people that I love “Frog Eye Salad”, it usually gets the best looks!

To give you a little background, my mom found this recipe and tried it…soon the whole family was demanding it at every gathering.  My nephew asked her once what it was called, when she said “frog eye salad” he stopped eating and here is the exchange that followed>

“Frog eyes?”  (nephew looks at his plate and gulps)
“Yup, I take my spoon,” (mom brandishes the magic spoon) “go down to the creek out back and catch a bunch of frogs.”
“You catch frogs?” (pushes plate away)
“And I take my spoon and pop their little eyes out into a bowl, all to make that for you.” (looking at him with, lovingly)
“Grandma! You blind frogs?!?”
“Oh honey, don’t worry, I have your grandpa carve them little white canes. They’re fine.”

BEST. STORY.EVAH…and it’s true.  My mother is sick, but funny, I’ll give her that!  So in honor of comfort and childhood traumas:


1/2  c. sugar
2 tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 c. pineapple juice
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp. lemon juice
3 qt. water
1 pkg. (16 oz.) Acini de Pepe
2 cans (11 oz. each) mandarin oranges, drained
2 cans (20 oz. each) pineapple chunks, drained (or other canned fruit -using fruit cocktail gives it that nice government cheese feel, so unless you like that, avoid fruit cocktail.  That being said, Wegman’s tropical fruit cocktail works wonders!)
1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple, drained
1 c. miniature marshmallows
1 container of Cool-Whip
1 c. coconut (optional)

1. Combine sugar, flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt.2. Gradually stir in pineapple juice and eggs.

3. Cook over moderate heat, stirring until thickened.

4. Add 1 cup of marshmellows, make sure they melt completely.

5. Add lemon juice; cool mixture to room temperature.

6.Cook the Acini de Pepe according to package

7. Drain, rinse, drain again and cool to room temperature.

8. Combine egg mixture and Acini de Pepe; mix lightly.

9. Refrigerate overnight in airtight container.

10. Add remaining ingredients; mix lightly but thoroughly.

11. Refrigerate until chilled in airtight container. May be refrigerated for as long as a week.
Ready to...YUM!Ready to...JUST HAND IT OVER ALREADY!!!

(Recipe adapted from cooks.com with help from momma!)

A Little Taste: Bento

So, here’s the picture for the week. It’s a cute little bento I made for Day with the Tomato Mozzarella Salad I blogged about earlier (I’ve added a couple of surprise marinated artichoke hearts for fun), along with some extra sharp Cheddar, olives, and strawberries for dessert.

A bento box with assorted delicious treats.

Obviously, I’m food obsessed right now…not sure why, but hey, at least I’m getting some pictures out of it and a place to put recipes that I really like. 🙂


A Little Taste: Weekend YUM!

I got some great asparagus the other day, and tonight I’m going to make my famous Parmesan Asparagus!

Parmesan Asparagus

1lb (give or take) asparagus
1/4 + 3 tsp (reserved) Parmesan cheese (I use the Parmesan-Romano mix from Kraft, it really is the best for this)
A dash of Olive Oil
Handful of grated Asiago Cheese
A dash of garlic
A generous dash of FRESH pepper
A stingy dash of salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Wash the asparagus and trim the ends. (Dad always said, if you run a sharp knife through the end and you’ve got to push it’s too tough, go up about half an inch and try again. When your knife goes through with little resistance you’ve got the best part of the asparagus!)
Place the asparagus in a pan, and drizzle it with Olive Oil.
Mix the asparagus so each piece has a little Olive Oil on it.
Add the Parmesan and Asiago Cheese, fresh pepper, salt, and garlic powder mixing the asparagus to coat all the pieces.
When done, top with the last of the Parmesan cheese.
Bake until the asparagus is limp enough for ya…I usually let it go about half an hour before I can’t help myself and call it done.

A Little Taste: Oscar Dinner

So, last Sunday it was Oscar time. Now normally my family doesn’t go in for the the whole “awards show” thing. This year though I’d made such an effort to see some of the nominated films, that is seemed a waste not to watch them.
In order to make it the event I thought it should be I made dinner.

Anyway, I thought I would share part of our menu.

Balsamic Tomato Mozzarella Salad-
2 handfuls of Mixed Spring Salad Mix
3 tomatoes (chopped into large-ish chunks)
1 cup of chopped marinated braided mozzarella (we pick it up at Trader Joes, it’s got a heat to it)
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
A dash of fresh pepper and garlic powder
Mix everything but the salad mix together in a bowl. Place the salad mix in the bottom of a bowl and place the tomato/mozzarella mix over the top of it.

OMG Baked Brie!
1 round of Brie (I love Wegman’s “buttery” style, it comes in triangles but, eh, is it really that important if it is a cheese round or a cheese log!)
1 pastry puff square, defrosted
1 container of Wegman’s apple/caramel/walnut spread
(alternately mix: dried apple slices, walnut halves, dried cranberries, and melted caramels together in a bowl)
Spread roughly 1/3rd the caramel mix in the center of the pastry puff, place the cheese on top of the mix. Spread the rest of the caramel mix on the top and sides of the cheese. Pull the puff up over the cheese/caramel and seal it by pinching it closed. Bake for 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven.
Ingredients on display...

In the eye of the…(Photo Tidbit)

Sometimes life surprises you…you look up and see something so out of this world, so ethereal and impossible and stunning that you have to blink to make life come back into focus.
Sometimes life surprises you…you feel the heartbreak of loss for some place not someone. It shocks you so badly you feel yourself begin to cry for the sounds and the smells and wish so hard for it you feel you might be able to transport yourself if you just tried hard enough…

The doorway to another world? Another life? The fickle shifting of the wind hinting at something…at what? Tell me!

A spaceship of sky? A crystal flower of mystical import? A twisted riddle that needs an answer…what is it? What?

Photo Tidbit: Surreal Sublime

This week has been good, relaxing and fun and good…and to celebrate that we’re going to look a pretty pictures today!

#1 Sherbet Skylines:

Where is this sky?  Some far away planet…or alternate dimension?  And if it is right here on Earth what did people long ago think of displays like this?  Was it a time of celebration or dread?  Who would they turn to?  What would they say?

Me, all I can think of is Rainbow Sherbet…and the time I had my tonsils out (which was something of a mixed blessing for me seeing as I was/am food obsessed…see, they told me I could have all the ice cream I wanted but I felt so bad all I wanted to do was sleep.  And then when I felt good enough for the ice cream, I couldn’t have it…nope, only sherbet.  Cruel, no?)

Anyone’s Altar, Everyone’s Altar:

Who made this?  And why?  Will they come back for it or has it served its purpose?  Who was it meant for?  Did we disturb the aura of this place by stumbling upon it?  Did we break the spell?  Did we enhance the experience?

When I first saw this I thought it was just someone’s trash…but the more I looked at it, the more I saw the patterns and intentional nature of the placement.  I’m not sure if this is “found art” in the the most find-y  sense of the word or if this served a religious purpose…but either way it was cool.

Happy Feet

I’ve been listening to a lot of music lately….it’s a long story which starts with me WANTING to pay my registration for my car but unable to do so and ends with me plowing through my podcasts. So, I’m left with music and an actual print book…not all bad, except I tend to get “happy feet” when I’m on the metro (this is only embarrassing when I see someone staring). This has got me thinking about my love of the dance…so today’s photo tidbit is dedicated to the amazing people out there who dance!

Are people dancing on this street right now? What caused this bit of art to be placed right where it is? God or demons? Ghosts or love? Are there spirits standing on these shoes right now waiting for the right person to come to them…waiting for the love of the dance to descend…waiting for some unclear undefined thing that will set them free or chain them forever? Tell me I want to know.
This lovely picture is brought to us by iwona_kellie’s love of creative commons…and for that I thank her!

Who takes pole dancing lessons? A wife/mother/daughter? What do they think when they do it? What happens to them, to their relationships, to their views on life after they finish the class? How many women have done the same thing? Is it a secret society…a shameful life…or a glorious rebellion?
I just love this picture and I thank Arturo de Albornoz for listing it in the creative commons section of flickr, go check out his photostream!