Soup Dumpling Tour of 2012

When Westword (local indie newspaper) does its “Best of” list, of course I go and look at the food suggestions. This year, the award for best Soup Dumplings went to a new place, so of course I had to go check it out. My friend Erin is always up for soup dumplings, and was especially up for two different kinds in one day, so off we went.

Now, if you haven’t been lucky enough to live somewhere with a large enough population that they have specialized enough Asian restaurants to have soup dumplings, I am so sorry. You need to try them sometime….They are not like the dumplings I grew up with – these are like a wonton wrapper wrapped around a meaty filling. Soup dumplings are even more special in that they also have broth in with the meaty filling. These are obviously tricky to make and tricky to cook and deliver to the table so the broth stays in the dumpling and is nice and hot.

Of course we started out with a misadventure, because we went to the wrong place first. Erin had pointed out that one place opened at 10 and the other at 11, and I didn’t pay attention to which was which, and went to the wrong one first. Oh well, we had plenty of time. So we found our way across town to Tao Tao Noodle Bar in Aurora for their soup dumplings of “xiao long bao” as they are called. They do not have their menu on their website, and I forgot to take a picture of it. (more pictures and another review from Westword here)

We had the Dan Dan noodles as an appetizer – they were excellent, with their topping of chopped peanuts and some bok choy, mmmmm. Very spicy.

It was a good thing the Dan Dan noodles were excellent because the soup dumplings were kind of disappointing. They didn’t seem to have much broth in them to start with, and then didn’t have the structural integrity to keep what they did have when you picked them up with chopsticks.

The bottoms of them stuck to that paper liner, some of them held together but some of them left their bottom behind. Even the ground pork filling didn’t fully stick together. They were tasty, but they were not ideal xiao long bao.

We had no problem finishing them, though. I definitely want to go back and sample many of their other menu items, I wish they weren’t so far away.

We got to talking about Art-O-Mat (more on that tomorrow), and stops we were planning on making on the way to the next place (more on that tomorrow) and made our way to our “in-between” stops with minor difficulties in getting lost and cursing the map.

We made our way to Lao Wang Noodle House which was Westword’s Best Soup Dumpling for 2011. According to Erin and me, it is still the best. I had been here before, but by myself. Having another person along allows you to order more and try more different things! :  ) (Denver Post story from 2009)  – they don’t have a website at all!

The place was packed. I think it only probably seats about 24 people, and the tables were all full, and there was a party of 5 in front of us. Pretty soon a big party cleared out, and the party of 5 took their table, and the elderly proprietor found Erin and I two chairs for the empty table near the door. It is just an older gentleman and his wife, running the place on their own, so they do their best to get you seated and set up with utensils, water, etc., but you might have to wait a bit while they bring out another order of soup dumplings to the table next to you. Dumplings seem to be the order of the day there, from the soup dumplings to the pan fried dumplings, which we did not have, but saw several other tables enjoying.

We were hungry again after our adventures en route and decided to start with the wontons in spicy peanut sauce, these were also good. Next time I want to try the beef soup and the szechuan cabbage (AND the soup dumplings of course….)The sauce wasn’t very peanutty, except that it had ground peanuts in it, but no peanut butter. And nicely spicy.

Mmmmm, chili oil.

And then it was time for the soup dumplings. Lao Wang also has more of an assortment of condiments on the table for you to mix up your own dipping sauce. Chili paste, sesame oil, white vinegar, and soy sauce. I, of course, threw in a little of everything.

Smaller, but more of them. Also, they did not stick to this paper. The structural integrity remained just fine on ALL of these.

Mmmmm, now that I have everyone hungry, and I am hungry myself, I will tell you that tomorrow there will be MORE! FOOD! PICTURES! How surprising! I hope you enjoyed the soup dumpling tour of 2012. If we find some more soup dumplings in the Denver area, we will be glad to make the sacrifice and try them for the good of mankind.

Exciting Things We Did Today

Stayed up too late last night fiddling around with the landscape quilt and then had weird dreams about carrying Leo the cat all around Washington, DC, visiting Senators. Oy. Need to go to bed earlier tonight!

I now have the quilt all ironed together, except the sun had to be removed tonight because the dark blue was showing behind it, so that has to be ironed back on tomorrow and then I need to add all the detail (lots) around the sun.

Couldn’t take any more leftovers (I am really good for only about one round of leftovers on each meal and then I am kind of done with that food…..) so we went out for Pho tonight, at our favorite place. Although I did not have my “usual,” I mixed it up a bit and had shrimp instead of meatball. And no spring rolls, because I wasn’t that hungry. Then I had a 20% off coupon for Bed, Bath and Beyond, which is next door to Pho 78, so we went in to buy a new bathroom rug for the guest bathroom, because the one rug in there has been washed to often with other rugs, and has picked up their colors, and is no longer light blue, but “ishda” as my mother would say. So we got a new blue one, and we had some emergency candy needs, so we took care of them. I can tell you Angry Bird brand fruit snacks are to be avoided. However, on-sale hollow chocolate Easter chicks are excellent.

When we got home we discussed briefly with the neighbor across the street the landscaping that the neighbor kitty-corner from us is doing. Ken originally said it was a ramp to allow runaway cars to leap over their garage, but I pointed out that it was obviously a UFO landing pad, and he realized the error of his ways, and so that is how we refer to it. I wonder how they talk about the strange goings-on at our house when we do stuff…

Here is a picture of the UFO landing pad:

It is much more pyramidal than it appears in the picture, it doesn’t look like much here but a small UFO could definitely land on it.

Supposed to rain/show this weekend so there may not be much gardening, maybe I will get some seeds started….hope springs eternal….

Dinner and a Show

Last Friday night, my friend Cathy and I went to dinner and a show. I took advantage of the fact that Cathy was excited to eat somewhere new and adventurous (Ken had no interest in going here) and we went to Le Central. We were tempted by the Moules Frites (mussels and fries) but decided to try those another time. We each had a salad, I had the Salade Périgourdine  with Hazelnuts, mushrooms and country-style pate with mixed greens in a Dijon mustard vinaigrette:

It was excellent. Cathy had a different one, whose name I can’t recall, and it appears that it has rotated off the menu. She said it was also excellent. (Their menu changes every week, not every item goes off, but some always go off and new ones come on.)

I had the Bouillabaisse du Central: Mediterranean fumet infused with saffron and prepared with mussels, scallops, shrimp, red and white fish, potatoes, onions, fennel and leeks; sided by a spicy rouille:

And the “side” of spicy rouille as well as some parmesan and croutons. It was excellent, but I think I like cioppino a little better, spicier. Definition of rouille: (I had to look it up) Rouille (pronounced: [ʁuj], French ‘rust’) is a sauce that consists of olive oil with breadcrumbs, garlic, saffron and chili peppers. It is served as a garnish with fish, fish soup and, notably, bouillabaisse. Rouille is most often used in the cuisine of Provence.

Cathy had the sole, which is also not on the menu this week (if I find the receipt, I will put in the details that are on there….)

She was particularly taken with the rice, because she does not really care for wild rice, but said this was excellent, as was the fish.

We would have liked to get dessert, but we were running out of time for the 7:30 performance of “Ring of Fire” at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Excellent show, I recommend it. It tells the story of the life of Johnny Cash, without trying to imitate him, but gives you an idea of his spirit and talents. Great show, songs that I hadn’t heard in years. For some reason “Dirty Old Egg Sucking Dog” is not on too many radio station playlists around here. All in all, a very fine evening!

The Winner? Hamburger Pinwheels? “These Need Something.”

First, let me refresh you on the winning recipe from the vote-off on the “500 Snacks” Cook-book, which was “Hamburger Pinwheels.”

Please note that this recipe lacks a certain clear instruction on how large the recipe for baking powder biscuits should be. It doesn’t say biscuit recipe that makes 10 biscuits, or 12 biscuits, or 24 biscuits, so I just looked at a couple of recipes, and both of them took two cups of flour, and that sounded about right, so that is what I made.

Hmmmmm.

So, let’s assemble the ingredients, shall we? One thing that you might note is that this recipe is woefully short on seasonings. 1/8 tsp pepper? 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce? That isn’t going to do anybody any good.

Pay no attention to the olive oil and pineapple, they were just hanging out. Please note the SD Ranch Raised ground beef (oh shoot, I just realized I didn’t weigh it, that might have been part of the problem, that meat packer is notorious for putting more than 1.25 pounds in the bag when it should be a pound….I just remembered that….) The recipe just says “pork sausage” so I looked around King Soopers until I found just plain “pork sausage.” Not breakfast sausage, not spicy sausage, just pork sausage. It said one small onion so I just used half of that one. And I minced the tarnation out of it because Kenny doesn’t like big chunks of onion.

See, finely minced.

Whoops, I apparently did not take a picture of the hamburger and sausage in the pan. I will admit that I did not brown the onion first in 2T of fat, I thought it would do just fine in with the hamburger and sausage, and it did.

I rolled out the biscuit dough and I slapped down the burger/sausage/onion/”seasonings” mixture.

It was at this point that I realize these were not going to be little OR cute.

That is a lot of hamburger. Like an inch deep. Even if there was 1.25 pounds in my package, that would still have been too much.

It looks even more like “The Worm” rolled up. If my brother is reading this, he is having 4-H cooking flashbacks. Except I think “The Worm” had more seasoning than this (I am going to have to find that recipe now, darn it.)

When I sliced it up, it became very obvious the slices were not going to maintain their structural integrity.

They do look kind of like meat cinnamon rolls, except they need more roll and less meat.

Please be nice to my scary looking cookie sheet, it does the job.

Beef, attempting to escape.

And, after the oven:

They didn’t change much, except to explode further.

Serving suggestion:

I forgot to get a Ken Reaction Shot! Shoot! Well, I think you can tell from the quotation in the title, “These Need Something,” he didn’t think much of them. I am not sure my dad would even go for them, because that is too much onion for him. They would have been better with, I don’t know, cheese? Horseradish? Green pepper (Ken wouldn’t eat that, or the horseradish), he tried one with ketchup and it was a slight improvement. Verdict: edible but bland. I would not serve as “snack” and since they were supposed to serve 8, that is more than one roll up per person, which seems excessive, and also makes me question if there was supposed to be MORE biscuit dough, then that would be even MORE excessive. Ah well, it is always interesting to try something new.

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts and Gardening

I was up by 7:30 on Sunday, started puttering around in the kitchen and cleaning it up, a never-ending task. Worked some more on the landscape quilt, finding out just why the stick iron comes with a guard around most of it (it gets really really hot) but it is still possible to get your finger on it and raise a big welt. Oweeeeee.

Made Spicy Sweet Bacon Chicken Breasts for lunch – of course I couldn’t find the recipe at the time so I just winged it. I made about double the recipe, we like these as leftovers. I used much less “spicy” since Ken doesn’t care for that. And I forgot about the garlic powder until I saw the recipe again, AFTER I had made it. So I printed that recipe out again and I intend to put it in my three-ring binder cook book so I can find it easily next time, hopefully before it gets buried somewhere.

After lunch I decided if I was going to work in the yard it was now or never. I have a bad habit of getting really excited about the garden early in the year and then losing interest in the middle of the summer when it gets really hot, so then the weeds get tall and I ignore them until the next spring. Ken went out too, to work on some grass that needed to be dug up and replaced. I pulled old weeds out, checked the peonies and Bleeding Hearts for signs of life (they are there, they are growing!) and moved some perennials out of the Weed Garden (future Rock Garden) into the bed south of the house. This bed is hard to deal with because it is the sunniest part of the yard, and it was mostly clay (I have been trying to work better soil into it) and not many plants do well there. Daylilies from the ranch do QUITE well there, but I don’t want a while line of daylilies, although it may come to that. Hollyhocks (one of my very favorites) also do OK in there, but some of them have spread to places I don’t want them to be, so I did some digging and moving of hollyhocks. The summer I need to label them as to what color they are and start trying to make sure I have the variety I want.

So I moved some of the big tall perennials (well, they are not big and tall yet but they will be) out of the Weed Garden and put them on the south side of the house, we will see how they do, the ones I moved there last summer didn’t do much but I don’t remember when I moved them. They came up again this year at least. And I am turning one of the tomato patches into another perennial bed, so I am going to move more hollyhocks and Weed Garden perennials there, but it needs to be tilled first, and Ken is going to do that next weekend. I watered all of the peonies and bleeding hearts. We need to slow down on the weed pulling until we get the accumulated weeds hauled off. We only get one container of “trash” picked up a week, so we need to meter the bags of yard waste out.

There are also a bunch of trees in the Weed Garden that I need to get out of there, they aren’t very fun to dig up. Some of the smaller ones I will dig up and maybe take up to the ranch to plant around some of the dams where the drought killed the trees off the last few years.

It was 72 degrees, just about right for working in the yard and not feeling too put upon.

I need to decide the purpose of the garden/flowers/yard. I don’t think it is to go out there and sit on chairs and enjoy the evening, because we don’t do that too much. We don’t have company often enough to show it off to. It isn’t really a big enough garden to grow enough vegetables to can or freeze to eat through the winter. I do enjoy growing lettuce and we have salads with that and eat it on sandwiches, but green beans haven’t been a big success and neither have tomatoes, two of my main gardening needs. Maybe I will switch the places I plant the green beans and the tomatoes this year, and try that.

The “new” perennial garden is going to have: hollyhocks, sunflowers (they aren’t perennials but I like them), poppies (which I need to go to SD and dig up or get seeds from, so they won’t be a big presence this year) and perennials (daisy type, brown-eyed Susan type) from the Weed Garden…..hmmmm……we’ll see what else happens.

I am also getting some “Red Hot Poker” flowers for that garden, I have tried them in other areas and they haven’t done well, but that might be just the spot. Hope springs eternal in the heart of the gardener.

The Russian Sage in the Weed Garden are still alive, amazing me, because they didn’t seem to like it very much there last year. It was more sunny than the shady flowerbeds in front of the house, but maybe too sunny. The Russian Sage may join the New Perennial garden.

Came back in to make Hamburger Pinwheels for dinner, but I think that is a whole ‘nother entry on its own.

MaryAnne took a break to lay on my new Faribault blanket that was supposed to be drying after I washed it.

What, this is not for me to lay on and look cute? What good is it then?

Aren’t I just too cute?

MaryAnne, later, airing out things, with Jello molds.

We tell her this isn’t ladylike, she doesn’t care…..

“Would Your Dad Like This?”

Saturday morning I got up, organized my grocery list and went to the store. I needed a bunch of stuff plus Zyrtec so that was an expensive visit. Canned fruit/veggies were on sale so stocked up on those, now the cupboard is so full you can hardly get in there, much less find anything. And butter was $1.99 a pound, I showed great restraint and only got 7 pounds.

Got home just in time to turn around and run to JoAnn’s and get a stick iron before my radio show started. Decided I needed the stick iron if I was going to stay sane putting my landscape fusible quilt together. It helped, but it is still a pain. If I am going to make something this large with fusible pieces again I need to figure out an easier way. It is all up and assembled on the wall, but all the pieces have fusible webbing on the back of them, and they aren’t attached to anything, just stuck up there. So I have been carefully removing pins and putting my Teflon pressing sheet behind the pieces and ironing them together. Next time I will put my batting on the wall so I can just iron the pieces right on there.

I worked on that while listening to “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” on PBS, and then it was time to make lunch. Made rolled club sandwich with some modifications. http://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/baked-club-sandwich-rounds/7e7df15c-df0b-4d36-a95d-b7bc20c7da35/. (I have posted pictures of this before, got the recipe from Sister-in-Law Kristyn and it is one of Ken’s favorites).  Pulled out the turkey I had purchased a while ago, the first time I tasted it (last week?) it didn’t taste quite right, so I tossed that. Then I looked at the two packages of turkey Ken bought about 2 weeks ago – and noticed that one of them said “Use by February 2012” – I am still training him to look at expiration dates, but come on, February?? What store doesn’t check their luncheon meat? And his other package said “April 5” but I opened it up and gave it the sniff test and it didn’t pass. Well, I had some soprasetta and uncured salami from when I was on my “meat and cheese tray” kick in March, and they were just fine. I also spread the unrolled bread with pesto to give it a little more taste. Ken isn’t wild about the pesto but I limit the amount and it is overshadowed by all the BACON and CHEESE.

Then I stirred up the Bavarian Cream Jello, as well as a pan of brownies (Hershey’s recipe from Aunt Eileen) Again, w /some modifications, I ran out of cocoa and so I shoveled in some Nestle Quik type cocoa. Ken pronounced that they tasted “Different than your Aunt’s” so I don’t know if he will eat many but I will send them to work with him or I will eat them all week (I will keep a couple for treat).

By that time I was tired and wishing for a nap, and Ken had gone to the range to hit range balls, but I was checking the TV schedule on the computer and Antiques Roadshow was on, so I substituted that for a nap, and did some embroidering as well.

Ken’s quote about my anticipated Jello-fest – “I said I’d eat plain jello, not weird stuff with s*** in it.” I told him he has to try one bite…..He asked me “Would your dad like this?” “YES!” I said, it has cherries and Jello and Cool Whip. I married someone who doesn’t like Cool Whip, I am not sure how this happened.

Ken had to stop at the grocery story on the way home because I wanted to make stroganoff for dinner but I forgot to put sour cream on the list. Of course, he needed breakfast stuff and hadn’t put that on the list, so he got that too. Put together the stroganoff (I pretty much use Paula Deen’s recipe, but put in some Worcestershire sauce for extra flavoring, and we eat it with egg noodles.) I used to just use cream of mushroom soup and sour cream, but the addition of beef broth (I just use water and “Better than Broth”) makes the gravy stretch a little longer. We both watched some of the Masters.

Here is the Jello mold “Bavarian Cream” and the recipe. I didn’t quite achieve the perfection of the picture in the Jello book but I was pretty happy with it. And it was tasty. And Ken ate it, except for the cherries and the whipped topping (once again, must be some sort of genetic defect….) Recipe and pic from the “Joys of Jello” book below.

It also got a little melty when I dipped it in the hot water to get it out of the mold. I tried warm water and that wasn’t doing it, so I went with hot, and it was too much, but hey, it did come out of the mold.

Did you know they still make Dream Whip? The box version of Cool Whip? King Soopers even has a Kroger brand version, which is good because otherwise it is kind of expensive.

Signs of Spring at The Ranch

It has been a long week and I still have one day to go. So to give me a lift, I was looking at some pictures from the ranch. These were mostly taken in May of 2010. The SD grasslands contain great beauty, if you just get close enough to the ground to look.

Yellow johnny jump-up.

Plus, I get to go drive around with my Dad to take these pictures. He has infinite patience for me, stopping the pickup when he sees a patch of color.

Mayflowers. You need a really little vase or bowl to put these in, but Mom would always find one when we picked her a bouquet. I still pick her a bouquet, when we go out now.

Shooting Stars. I have no idea if that is what anyone else calls any of these flowers, but that is good enough for me.

Red Riding Hood, or Tomato Flower.

Prickly pear, not quite blooming.

And a solitary prairie mushroom.

We don’t really have pasque flowers, the state flower of SD, on the ranch, but I think these are pretty good.

Soup and Jello Molds

In preparation for an early morning board meeting, I am staying up at a hotel near work, where the board meeting will be. So, I thought I would take the chance to eat somewhere interesting in Fort Collins. Young’s Cafe popped up on Yelp when I searched for pho, they actually don’t have pho available at night, but I saw some other things I was interested in. First, since I am easily suggestible, and someone posted something about dumplings and I read it, I had to have some dumplings. Fried shu mai to be exact. They were OK, nothing special, they kind of had the temperature and texture that indicated they were being “held” in the kitchen and just (maybe) warmed up when someone ordered them.

Then I asked my waiter if the Lemongrass soup or the Flaming soup was better. He said if I liked seafood, the lemongrass soup was better, because it had shrimp, mussels, and squid, whereas the flaming soup only had shrimp and vegetables. Well, the flaming soup was also FLAMING but I decided to save that for another time. This soup didn’t have little wussy calamari rings in it, it had big chunks of squid, large flat pieces. Well, I knew I was getting squid and I don’t mind that. Kind of sad when I am eating a meal like this alone and don’t have anyone with me to gross out with my big chunks of squid. Four good sized mussels, so that was nice. And it was VERY lemongrassy and NICELY spicy, usually I have to ask for the chili oil or the sriracha sauce even with “spicy” soup but this was just perfect, plenty of chili oil.

Yes, that big white thing is the squid. And yummy mushrooms too.

I also hadn’t had a chance to go thrifting in Fort Collins yet, and I have been reading a new blog that got me excited about Jello  – The Jello Mold Mistress of Brooklyn, and I think I will doing some Jello-ing, so I wanted to look for some cheap Jello molds. The Goodwill was very disappointing, the Salvation Army was their office location, not their store (need to do more research next time) but The ARC Thrift Store came through for me.

So now I have 4 Jello molds to experiment with. I have told myself I can’t buy any more until I make something in each of these. Like many of my projects, I may lose interest after I get started, so this may be a good idea. They can always get donated back to Goodwill….

I also can’t resist vintage textiles, especially wool blankets. My dream is to find a Pendleton wool blanket at a rummage sale someday. Well, this one is a Faribault, and it is not 100% wool, but it was extra interesting for another reason.

Specially made for Continental Airlines! I thought that was pretty cool! And it was in good condition, a good sofa size throw blanket, I couldn’t resist. You can always use blankets, right?

Maybe I should pack this one and take it on my next airplane jaunt…

Did you vote in the poll yet on which recipe I will be making for your enjoyment? For cryin’ out loud, why not?

Next Round of Voting

OK, now it is time to vote on a recipe. Remember, I said I was not going to pick any gross ones that even I wouldn’t eat, and or any that Ken wouldn’t eat, so that excludes a lot of the seafood ones, including “Shrimp Wiggle” which is fighteningly titled to say the least. So these aren’t very adventurous but they are vintage and interesting.

I think I made something like this for 4-H Ground Beef Cook Off one year, except you didn’t cut it into slices, it was just left in a big roll and cooked. My brother referred to it as “The Worm.” When I was practicing, making it every week to get ready for the contest: “Ugh, we have to have ‘The Worm’ again?”

These might be good for breakfast.

This is quite a “snack,” I hope those 8 people are hungry. This has bacon and cheese, so no reason Kenny won’t eat it. Plus, you are supposed to use the broiler, so there is ALWAYS the chance something will catch on fire. At least in my kitchen there is always the chance.

I have souffle on my list of things to attempt to make this year (hmm, 1st quarter is gone already, I need to get on that list). I don’t know if this is a good souffle recipe but I am willing to try it. The only thing I know about souffles is that on old sitcoms they were always falling when someone made a loud noise anywhere near the kitchen. That means this could be a challenge.

This is not a voting option, but I just enjoyed these a little too much. Especially “Green Balls” and “Burning Bush” which sound like they might be related medical problems.

Ok, now is your chance. I will keep taking votes until Saturday morning, and then I will cook your choice and provide pictures and commentary this weekend.

Pulled Pork and Shoe Leather

I was waiting for one of the grocery stores to have some sort of pork roast on sale for a reasonable price because I was in the mood for pulled pork in the crock pot. I got two blade roasts (bone in) that were 4 pounds each – I wanted leftovers and some to freeze. I used this recipe/procedure.

Cheater Barbecue Pulled Pork Recipe

This made a lot of pulled pork. And yes, it does take a whole bottle of Liquid Smoke. But it is delicious.

This was AFTER Ken and I had helped ourselves.

Pork, with yellow wax beans and au gratin potatoes. Not very colorful, I realize. But delicious.

Come closer to the porky goodness.

I made some “tangy” bbq sauce for mine (Ken thinks bottled is safer than one of my concoctions). The recipe said to just stir the ingredients together (juice from pork, vinegar, ketchup, seasonings) and it was good to go – well, that essentially made weak bbq soup. So I put it in a pan and boiled it up. Within minutes, Ken and the cats were complaining about the vinegar smell and opening up the windows. Well, the boiling improved it, I must say. But now the whole house does smell like pickles.

Ken digs in:

Ken approves:

Well, I was going to put up the recipes from “500 Snacks” but I inadvertently left it at work. Hopefully, tomorrow. So, I thought I would put up the pork and now, how about some shoes. My theory on shoes: I need two pairs of brown shoes and two pairs of black shoes for work. I am well past the high heels stage, I have to wear orthotics because of my plantar fascitis, and so these are good, sturdy oxford-type shoes. I hope you enjoy them.

Ken was quite stymied by my request to photograph my shoes. “I have had a lot of weird requests as a photographer, but this is a new one…”

Brown:

I was quite amazed that I was able to find this many pairs of this type of shoe so late in spring, I have been disappointed before, and had to wait until the next fall to refresh the shoe wardrobe.

2nd pair brown – I like that these have the nice little seam across the toe:

Please note that I changed to black socks for your enjoyment of the black shoes. I like the little buckle/grommet on these.

This is what Leo thinks of shoe photography:

Leo wonders when we will quit fooling around and play with the cats, darn it.

Almost all of these have a little bit of a heel to them, more so than my last ones, so I will probably turning my ankle quite shortly.