The Back Seat

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

Life is a funny thing. It’s full of joy, laughter, tough decisions, mistakes, sadness, tragedy, rewards and fulfillment. You never really know what each day will throw your way. You just have to wake up and see what happens. Sometimes the events of the day, or days, make every woman blogit important for certain things to take a back seat. For me, it’s been cooking. I love to cook. It’s my hobby, my challenge, my catharsis, my fun. But since August 6th, I haven’t done much adventurous cooking. I’ve been pulling out old stand-bys, quick weeknight dinners, and easy meals simply because of all of the oddball circumstances that life has thrown my way.

August 6th was my mom’s birthday. My daughter and I were in Houston, enjoying a visit with my sister and NASA summer camp when we got the phone call. My mom had been hurt and was in the hospital with a brain bleed. A subdural hematoma. She was being admitted to the ICU, being CT-scanned every 6 hours and I wasn’t there. The course of the next month was a trying one. But, as life happens, there was a blessing in disguise. The doctors discovered an aneurysm hiding in my mom’s head. We would have never known it was there. It’s repairable, so that’s next on our family agenda.

As we began October, our whole town was turned upside down. 13 years ago, I sold my best friend and her husband their house on Timberlane Drive. Over the years, we all complained about the cost of the flood insurance they were required to have, but every time the street flooded, it was a reminder that if anything bad ever happened, they would be protected. Well, on October 4th, something bad happened. Something really, really bad. Were they protected? Yes, more so than lots of other people, but not enough. Flood waters completely overtook their tri-level home. Think about how many feet up off the ground a tri-level house is. Take a moment…it’s staggering. It’s a complete loss, no fixing it up, no moving back home. It’s gone.

So, we have all been very pre-occupied with my mom’s health and my friends’ recovery. Cooking has truly taken a back seat and I miss it. But, there is a light at the end of both of these tunnels, so before long, I will be back in the swing. In the midst of all this craziness, a friend from high school brought me a little surprise. She works for Congaree Milling and dropped a care package of grits, cornmeal and polenta for me to try. I already have some ideas of how I want to use them and, of course, write about them. And, Thanksgiving is coming. So yay! Prime time to get back in the front seat!

Elizabeth Akre writes “Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef).” You can also follow on Facebook and Twitter.

The Great Tamale Project

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

Of all the cuisines, Mexican is one of my all-time favorites. I love queso and chips as much as the next guy, but for me the ultimate Mexican dish is tamales. And they are hard to come by. Not many restaurants serve them and it’s even harder to find a person who makes them. I know. For years, I’ve wanted to learn to make them. I’ve always been told that they are soooooo hard to make. They are soooooo complicated. They are such a project that someone’s grandmother might make them for a very special occasion. So, I’ve merely dreamed and aspired to become a tamale cook for a very long time.

I came across an old 1980’s Mexican cookbook that a friend was throwing out. I scooped it up and there it was: a tamale recipe. I read it over and over again because I just couldn’t grasp what was so difficult about what I was reading. And then it happened. I bought a Boston butt and I made tamales.

I don’t know what I’ve been waiting on. I let others convince me that this was some insurmountable task. But here’s the news flash…it is not difficult to make tamales. At all. It takes some time, but it’s not hard. And, they were fabulous!

I trimmed the excess fat and cubed the meat.

Simmered on the stove with peppercorn, bay leaf & onion.

making tamales

Guajillo peppers are soaked then pureed into enchilada sauce.

making tamales

Look at this color! Shredded pork is mixed with the enchilada sauce. It tastes much better than canned sauce, for sure.

making tamales

Instant masa is super easy to work with.

making tamales

Spreading masa on the corn husk.

making tamales

You just spread and pat it out with your fingers.

making tamales

Top with masa with a little of the meat mixture.

making tamales

Then you fold the sides over the filling and tuck under the pointed end.

making tamales

Ready to spend an hour in the steamer.

making tamales

Steamer is all loaded up with tamales.

making tamales

My first plate of homemade tamales!

OMG! My tamales were fantastic, if I do say so myself! The sauce has out-of-this-world flavor. It’s so simple to make. You soak the chiles in hot water to soften them up, then remove seeds and purée them with the soaking liquid. Then you cook the purée with some garlic, flour, vinegar, cumin and oregano. Nothing difficult about that. The pork is stewed with some garlic, onion, bay leaf and peppercorns. After it’s cooked, you shred it, mix with sauce and refrigerate overnight. Nothing hard about that. You also save the pork broth for the masa. Refrigerate that overnight so you can skim the fat off before mixing up the masa.

The next day, you simply mix the masa with warm broth, shortening, and baking powder until it becomes a soft, wet dough. You soak your corn husks in hot water for about an hour to make them pliable. Then, it’s just a matter of spreading out some masa, add some filling and fold. They steam for about an hour and then you are ready to dig in. The masa was so soft and tender and flavorful. This is key because even in restaurants I’ve had tamales with dried out masa and it ruined the whole dish. The pork was tender and that sauce, oh the sauce!

And none of this was hard to do. It takes some time, but anything worth doing is worth the time. My parents came to dinner and we all fell in love with the tamales. So much so that later that week, I made another batch. A double batch!

Another Reason I Love Living in SC

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

I’m proud to be a native South Carolinian. There are many, many reasons to love it here. But today, I’m thankful for one my favorites: South Carolina produce. To escape the heat, I rode up to Spartanburg the other day with my daughter, and my mom and dad. My dad is from Spartanburg and considers it to be the peach capitol of the world. You know, South Carolina really is the peach state. For us, it’s not just a slogan, it’s a fact. While Lexington County produces a huge share of South Carolina peaches, we’re just partial to the Spartanburg area ones.

South Carolina Peaches

Check out this photo. The peach on the right is a “grocery store” peach. The other one just came off the tree a few days ago. Which one would you want?

peach comparison

I employed this little miracle machine earlier. I actually got two of these as wedding gifts. It’s awesomely fast, there’s no salt involved and there’s no ice melting all over the floor! My homemade peach ice cream is nestled in the freezer, firming up for our decadent special dessert later tonight.

ice cream maker

Just a little further up the road in Inman, we have our favorite farm for blueberries. Nearby is another great produce shed run by a family. The blueberries aren’t huge this year because of the lack of rain and the surface-of-the-sun-heat that we’ve had this summer, but they are still beautiful and packed with flavor. Mom and I got a gallon to share. I’ve already used some for a coffee cake. This weekend I’m putting together an overnight blueberry French toast recipe to take to church. Look at all these…and this is just my half. Much better deal than the grocery store.

blueberries

One of the reasons I turned the corner on raw tomatoes was because the gorgeous color of summer tomatoes was always so enticing to me. I was handed a shrimp salad croissant at Kiawah a few summers ago. It was dressed with the most perfectly red slice to tomato. I was preparing to take it off, as usual, when I decided to act like a grown-up and try it. I’ve been hooked ever since. How did I go so long without “getting” it and enjoying these summertime jewels? Well, I’ve been trying to make up for lost time. These tomatoes from Inman are just luscious. They are sweet like the fruit that they are. So far, we’ve made a picture-perfect Caprese salad, fresh tomato and bacon sandwiches, and have also enjoyed simple sliced tomatoes with olive oil, salt & pepper.

antipasto caprese

SC tomatoes

I’m sure you all have many other reasons you love living here too. The Congaree swamp, our beaches, Lake Murray, the Stumphouse tunnel, fresh seafood, The Beacon, steeplechases…the lists are miles and miles long. But, make sure you have our plethora of fresh produce on those lists. We are so lucky to have so much goodness available to us year ‘round. Support our farmers, buy local and eat well!

La Madeleine: C’est belle!

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

As soon as school got out, my daughter, my mom and I hopped on an airplane to go back to Texas. My sister won a cruise from her company, so she and her husband were headed for the Caribbean. We were the babysitters for my 4-year-old niece. Yes, we are the longest-distance traveling babysitters. Ever.

Any of you moms know that 4-year-olds can really give you a run for your money. While we had lots of cool excursions planned (Sea World, Wildlife Ranch, Houston Zoo, Kemah Boardwalk) we tried to keep her normal schedule at Montessori as many days as possible. After dropping her at school one morning, the three of us headed to La Madeleine. Although this is a chain, it’s a country French-style café complete with a wonderful bakery and a selection of patisseries that rival any I’ve seen in France. If you’ve never visited France, it’s worth a trip just to see the window displays of the local patisseries that exist in every single town. They are vibrant works of art!

This place was fantastic. The décor was authentic, with rustic country-style tables, chairs, and wood flooring – truly country French. My daughter went to the bathroom about 6 times because they have French language lessons playing over the stereo in there. Each trip brought her back to the table with a new word or phrase.

It was hard to make a choice because there were so many beautiful selections. Vivian chose a lemon muffin with decadent lemon custard filling and the housemade lemonade (the kid likes lemon!). My mom ordered the Cinnamon French Toast and I went with Quiche Lorraine.

Let’s start with the muffin. The fact that the child chose lemon over all the ooey-gooey chocolate items and shiny, glossy fruit tarts was pleasantly surprising. But she surprises me a lot. The muffin was delicious on its own, but then to discover that custard hiding in the center was a great treat.

lemon muffin

Mom’s French toast was amazing, to say the least. It was crisp brioche with a rainbow of fruit on top, and it sported a dollop of “real deal” whipped cream. It was way more than one person could eat, so Viv and I were able to have a few yummy bites.

French toastThe quiche was very nice as well. It was roughly a 6” pie, perfect for one. The crust was so super flaky, which always makes me jealous since piecrust is my culinary nemesis! The filling was rich (real cream I suppose, which is how I like to make mine) and tasted very authentically French.

quiche lorraine

After finishing our relaxing petit déjeuner, Viv selected two adorable mini lemon tarts to take home to share with her little cousin later. Now that I know that La Madeleine is a chain, I’m trying to think of everyone I know in the restaurant biz so I can convince them to open one here. We have nothing like it and I can’t imagine anyone not liking this menu. Until my next visit to Houston, bon appétit La Madeleine!

Homemade Lo Mein

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

lo mein

If you read my blog, you have probably noticed that I tend to come up with a lot of Asian-inspired meals. Why is that? Well, we like Asian flavors, but more than that, there are endless possibilities. You can stretch meats really far and you can use just about any vegetables you have on hand to come up with something easy and delicious that everybody will eat. At my house, we frequently dine on fried rice, noodle dishes, dumplings and the like.

My daughter loves lo mein. In fact, that’s pretty much her standard order anytime we go out for Chinese. I recently bought (CHEAP) boneless, skinless chicken breasts at Sam’s. Not only were they ridiculously inexpensive, but they were huge. I looked at this chicken and knew I could stretch one of these breasts and feed the three of us. Lo mein came to mind.

Once again, I just looked around for what I had. I had bought one of those Green Giant stir-fry mixes in the produce section. I took out a few of the pea pods (you may call them snow peas) and sliced them diagonally into small pieces. I also cut carrots and broccoli into small pieces.

homemade lo mein

 

 homemade lo mein

For the chicken, I mixed up some cornstarch, soy sauce, garlic powder and ground ginger. I sliced the chicken into strips and marinated it for about 1 ½ hours. I wanted the chicken to be small in the final dish, but I didn’t want it to over-marinate, so I stir-fried the strips and then had my sous-chef husband cut them down into bite-sized pieces. While he did that, I cooked ½ lb of spaghetti noodles and drained them. Using veggie oil, I sautéed a little chopped onion with the other vegetables.

homemade lo mein

From there, all I had to do was add a little chicken broth to the noodles and the chicken. I then gave it all a good mix-up and let it simmer for a couple minutes. And there you have it: Homemade Lo Mein.

homemade lo mein

The lo mein connoisseur gave me a thumbs up and had two helpings. Sous-chef husband went back for thirds. It took no time at all to cook and with just a few veggies and one chicken breast, we had an ample meal. I do similar dishes with rice; veggies, an egg, whatever meat we have around (chicken, ham, shrimp) and we have a big wok full of fried rice that I think rivals any restaurant. Making your own egg rolls is similar; shred some cabbage, chop the vegetables you have in your fridge, stir-fry with some little bits of meat and roll ‘em up! I hope you’ll try some of your own Asian-style creations. It’s fun, easy and never the same.

請享用
Qǐng xiǎngyòng

(Bon Appetit)

Elizabeth writes “Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef)” and would love to have you a reader. Follow her on Facebook, too!

A Merry Culinary Christmas!

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

The holiday season is full of activity, parties, decorations, rituals, traditions and FOOD, no matter what faith you do or do not practice. While we all enjoy the music, gatherings with christmas friends, shopping for and giving gifts, time with family (we DO enjoy that, right?), I’m willing to bet that there isn’t a person alive who would say they don’t enjoy the food that accompanies the season.

My family attended a “cookie swap” at a neighbor’s house this year, which was great fun. In addition to the cookies, the kids dove into a giant pot of hot chocolate while the adults took advantage of my friend Heidi’s rum punch. The older kids made grilled cheese sandwiches for everyone and it was a great get-together. My husband brought along a high school friend and his family, who came through town on the way to Tennessee. These guys hadn’t seen each other since 1986. So, we ice skated then settled down to have sushi and Tex-Mex together (thanks, TakoSushi!)

This year my sister and her family came home from Houston for Christmas. My three-year-old niece made my mom aware that she had eaten snow crab legs at some point in time and was in need of her own “cracker.” Mom found lobster claw-shaped crab crackers for her and settled on us having a glorious seafood themed Christmas. And, trust me, there were no complaints here! So, on Christmas Eve I made crab cakes while mom and dad went to the airport to pick everyone up. We paired our crab cakes with my dad’s shrimp and grits, which was off the chain. This version involved a light brown roux, peppers and Andouille. Add some salad and it was off to the races.

On Christmas, we did the traditional ham (I LOVE ham!), sweet potatoes, broccoli casserole, macaroni and cheese. My husband was delighted that my mother-in-law brought her deviled eggs, which he gives a blue ribbon. But the day after Christmas was crab legswhen Clara got her chance to break in her new crab cracker. Now, we all know that no sort of cracking device is necessary with Alaskan crab, but hey, she’s only three. We had a giant platter of snow crab, boiled corn and potatoes, and focaccia bread. Turns out, Clara is like most kids. While the cracker seemed so necessary & grown up at first, she prefers to have an adult just open up all the crab legs and place a pile of crab meat on her plate. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind that setup myself!

So, we had our culinary feasts to celebrate Christmas and it was just wonderful. I’m sure that you all had similarly satisfying suppers at your house. “Eat, drink and be merry” starts with the food because it’s the best part…it brings us together, demonstrates our love for each other and gathers us to the table to share our time with each other. Happy New Year and Bon Appetit to you all.

Elizabeth Akre is a mom, a Realtor®, and an avid and completely amateur home cook. She writes “Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef)” and would love to have you read and follow the blog. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Fried Green Tomatoes

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

I grew up here in South Carolina. I consider South Carolina to be pretty solidly Southern. We embrace grits, chicken bog, good barbeque, okra and Frogmore stew. However, until the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” came out, I’d never, ever, ever heard of this food. I grew up with plenty of people who would eat tomatoes right off the vine, juice dripping all down their forearms. I had countless friends who dream of sliced tomatoes and lots of mayo on white bread. And only in the South do you find gorgeous, sliced red tomatoes on green tomatoesa menu as a side dish. But green tomatoes? No one ate green tomatoes. In fact, as a toddler, I committed the world’s worst transgression when I picked them all, piled them up and then happily showed off my dad’s prized unripe bumper crop exclaiming “Look daddy, green balls!” He. was. not. pleased.

So, this movie comes along and I must admit, I was instantly curious. But, again, I knew no one who ate this crazy dish. I wondered, “Are they just regular old green balls, or some odd variety of tomato that is green when ripe?” Then one day, the (old) Rockaway’s started offering them on the menu. Without hesitation, I ordered some. I was an instant fan. The tomatoes were firm and tart. The outside was crisp and laced with black pepper. They were just heavenly. I ordered them every time we went there. But alas, one night Rockaway’s burned to the ground. The entire city mourned. After many months of lamenting the lack of availability of the Rockaway burger, crawfish etouffe and fried green tomatoes, the new Rockaway’s opened. That was many years ago. The burgers are back, the chicken salad is back, the cheese fries are back, but to this day, the fried greens still haven’t made it back onto the menu.

So what’s a girl to do but take matters into her own hands? That’s right, grow them yourself. This summer I planted a traditional beefsteak tomato and an heirloom variety known as “Mr. Stripey.” I’ve concluded that next year I need to have Clemson analyze a soil sample for me. Both plants grew to over 8 feet tall. Early on, they bloomed their hearts out, but produced no fruit. Finally, some small tomatoes surfaced on each plant, but they never got very big. We were able to harvest a few, but certainly not the kind of summer tomato crop that we’re used to getting around here. Since we’ve entered fall, they are now producing tons of baby tomatoes. I look at them every day wondering when the frost might sneak up on us and kill them. So, today, I picked a couple and decided to fry them up for lunch.

fried green tomatoesI dredged in corn starch, then egg wash, then back into a mixture of corn meal, flour & pepper. I cooked them in canola oil until nice and crispy and golden. Now, if you eat fried green tomatoes, you know that some salt & pepper is really all they need. However, today I had a bonus item in my fridge…leftover sriracha crème sauce from my salmon dish last night. I drizzled some of the crème sauce over the tomatoes. Shaazam! I Just perfected the fried green tomato. Mix up some mayo, sriracha & condensed milk to make this sauce. It adds a nice, slightly-sweet, zingy spice. You’ll thank me.

Elizabeth writes “Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef)” and loves followers and comments. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Eat, drink and be merry!

Oktoberfest!

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

Everyone loves a good festival. The problem is that most of them are the same. Food vendors that serve fair food, bands that are too loud, too many people who have had too much beer, trash all over the ground. So, while we all love a good festival, we rarely have the opportunity to attend a good one. Well, not anymore.

OktoberfestMy best friend attends Incarnation Lutheran on Devine Street. Since 2011, Incarnation has held Oktoberfest in their backyard. You might be asking yourself…”how fun can a festival at a church be?” Well, the answer is, “more fun than any other festival in Columbia.” This event isn’t just fun, it’s impressive. Here’s a snap shot: a biergarten featuring German beers, craft beers and wine; German meals like Jaegar schnitzel, wiener schnitzel, bratwursts, potato salad, red cabbage, spaetzle, the whole nine yards; German music and dancing; and a playground, face painting, arts/crafts, and kids games. The music is going constantly, the kids are running around having a ball, the food is magnificent, and the atmosphere is just happy. I absolutely love this festival. My family and I look forward to it all year long.

oktoberfestIt just blows my mind how incredibly organized the festival is, too. The church members totally run the show. They cook, they serve, the youth group takes the orders, they run the games, they do it all.

Oktoberfest was held this past weekend, so if you missed it, I’m sorry for ya! Trust me and put this on your calendar for next year. It’s a wonderful event, totally family friendly, and it gets better every year. To the people of Incarnation, all I can say is “Holy Schnitzel” indeed!

Elizabeth Akre writes Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef).

The Power of the Tutorial

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

Years ago, my sister presented me with a sushi making kit. At the time, sushi wasn’t mainstream like it is today. I’d never eaten it and really couldn’t envision myself ever eating it. Back then, all anyone (around here) knew about sushi was that it was raw fish. Of course, now we all know that raw fish is just one element of the sushi scene. But back in the day when sushi was still a mysterious unknown, my sister just bought me the kit because it contained cute little dishes.
Sushi
The dishes are truly adorable and I’ve used them tons of times when serving Asian meals, but it wasn’t until recently when I was up on a step ladder, straightening up my cabinet, that I saw the rest of the set. I had totally forgotten about the fact that the dishes belonged to a sushi kit until I saw those two sushi mats, still in their packaging. I just stared at them for a few minutes, trying to understand how I could have possibly looked right past them all this time and not even realized they were there. As I snapped out of my confused reverie, I jumped on my computer to begin seeking out recipes and instruction. I became determined to learn and master rolling my own sushi.

After doing some research, watching videos and reading, I assembled the ingredients I wanted. I made the sushi rice, sliced avocados, slightly steamed and sliced carrots, julienned cucumbers and then I practiced. My first roll was a disaster…way too much rice. My next two attempts were not only much better looking and more tightly rolled, but tasty too. I felt I had reached a successful enough level to present my efforts to my family. I picked up my 8-year-old from day camp and told her about my practice runs. Instantly, she exclaimed, “Oh Mommy, I want to roll one too! I watched a tutorial!” I nodded my head and mumbled something like “Sure, you can help” as I reflected on the process and what I thought she could really do.

Big mistake. I believe the proper description of what I’d just done was to grossly underestimate my child and the power of the tutorial. Turns out, with the right teacher and the right student, a video tutorial can be quite effective. I insisted that she stand by as my assistant so I could show her how it’s done. After all, I’d been practicing all morning while she was at camp. Surely there was much she could learn from me! All the while, she kept repeating that she’d watched a tutorial. “Let me do one Mom. Let me do it myself.” So, I gave off one of my signature exasperated sighs as I stepped back, my palms up and my “Fine, you’ll see!” attitude, and let her take the reigns.

Even adding a swipe of wasabi

Even adding a swipe of wasabi

Arranging her ingredients

Arranging her ingredients

This baby-o-mine stepped up to the counter, spread the rice on top of the nori, arranged her cucumbers, carrots and avocado and began to roll. SHE ROLLED A PERFECT CALIFORNIA ROLL. I mean, it was perfect. It was tight, the ingredients were grouped together well, the rice stayed put. It was beautiful. It was way better than mine. I realized that my 8-year-old just spanked me after watching one tutorial. I was impressed.

Vivian’s California Roll

Vivian’s California Roll

My crab roll

My crab roll

The fruits of our labor

The fruits of our labor

The moral of this story is clear. I need to quit assuming that only I can teach her. I now know that she doesn’t necessarily need to watch and hear my instructions over and over and over again. And those video tutorials are certainly more valuable than I ever really gave them credit. I had watched several of them myself, but my daughter only needed one. And, she obviously has the knack for sushi rolling!

Elizabeth writes “Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef)” which details her family’s adventures in eating, drinking and being merry. Follow on Facebook and on Twitter.

 

Kale Chronicles

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

kale

Earlier in the summer, I planted 3 kale plants. Several people questioned me about this.

“Isn’t it too hot here for kale?”

“Isn’t it really hard to grow?”

“How are you going to get that to work?”

Well, here we are mid-July and my tomatoes are over 7’ tall and producing next to nothing, my cucumbers are producing nothing but flowers, my zucchini is just toying with me as it slowly commits suicide, and the poblanos just flower away and laugh at the thought of actually putting out a pepper. But, my little kale plants just keep growing and growing and growing!

A few days ago, it was time to harvest again and from those three little plants, I got a gracious helping of fresh kale. Usually I just make kale chips for myself because every other time I’ve tried a dish involving kale, the husband and little one reject it. I’d pretty much just resigned myself to the belief that I am the sole kale consumer in this house. However, I stood there gazing at this beautiful, tender, fresh home-grown loveliness and thought, “How crazy is this? One of planet Earth’s superfoods and I’m the only one eating it? Not today.”

I’ve written before about one of the most awesome cookbooks in my collection, “How to Cook Without a Book” by Pam Anderson. I can’t remember where I found this book, but I truly love it and I recommend it highly. As you have surely gathered from the title, the point is to teach some basic recipes and techniques so that you can incorporate these standards into your regular life without having to put much thought into it. I often go here for inspiration and fresh ideas. On this day, I pulled the book out because Ms. Anderson has included numerous variations to the theme for each of her basic recipes. So for lunch, I turned our kale harvest into a simple pasta with leafy greens, bacon and crushed red pepper. I told no one what the greens were. I simply said, “Here honey, have some pasta” and down the hatch it went! I have been on a conscious quest to get more dark leafies into our household diet, so this was a big win.

If you don’t know much about kale, I’ll say this: it’s really, insanely good for you. If you’re like me and want to eat more of it and its other dark leafy cousins, you can get all the info you want online. Or, here’s another of my favorite cookbooks you may wish to seek out, “Leafy Greens” by Mark Bittman.

Elizabeth Akre is the author of “Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef)”. Read, comment & be merry!  You can also follow on Twitter and Facebook.