Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Brockway family effort: French Onion Soup

I received the following from sissy K this morning.

"Here is a photo essay of our first attempt at making French onion soup. Gen, Rachel, and I completed it in a couple of hours using Dean and DeLuca's recipe. Some of us insisted up on having more than just beef broth and so we sliced up the leftover prime rib. It was labor intensive but well worth it. Fun to make as well. . .

French onion soup? Onions, butter, and sugar.


Gen carmelizes


combine with beef broth


carnivores and vegans


add soup


Rachel gives it the taste test


Gen adds croutons


a little gruyere


cheese collars keeps the cheese from overflowing (Dean and DeLuca tip)


voila!


high five!"

French Onion Soup 
(by Dean & Deluca--click here for link)When accompanied by a wintry salad and a glass of Beaujolais, there is no better simple supper.

INGREDIENTS:1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter
2 pounds yellow onions, cut into slivers (about 6 cups)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 heaping tablespoon flour
3 1/2 cups beef stock, boiling
2 cups water
1/4 cup cognac
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 slices stale French bread (each about 3/4 inch thick)
1 1/2 pounds Gruyère or Emmenthaler (Swiss cheese), coarsely grated

DIRECTIONS:1. Melt butter over moderate heat in large saucepan. Add onions and sugar, stir well, and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until onions are wilted and light golden. Uncover and continue to cook for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until onions are brown and well caramelized. (Watch carefully, so the onions don't burn.)
2. Add flour to pan, stir well to incorporate flour into onion mixture, and slowly stir in boiling stock, water, 3 tablespoons of cognac, salt, and pepper. Boil for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to low, and simmer gently, partially covered, for 45 minutes. Uncover and simmer for another 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning and add the remaining tablespoon of cognac.
3. While the soup is simmering, in a preheated 400 degrees oven, toast the bread slices for 10 minutes, turning them once after 5 minutes (the croutons should be well toasted on each side).
4. Divide the soup among 4 ovenproof onion soup bowls (or any ovenproof soup bowls), each with a capacity of approximately 1 1/2 cups. Arrange the croutons on top of soup (try to make an even layer of croutons that tops each bowl). Sprinkle croutons generously with grated cheese, allowing some cheese to spill over onto the rim. Put bowls on a cookie sheet and place under a preheated broiler until cheese melts and forms a crust over the tops of the bowls. Serve immediately.
Note: Instead of grating all the cheese, you can cut some of it into wide, thin slices and drape the slices over the sides of the bowls. This helps to prevent the cheese from slipping off the rims of the bowls.

If you like it deep and rich, and with a gooey mantle, look no further.
Serves 4

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Game Time at Christmas

Important discovery: next time use the video camera if you want to get a good capture of both video and audio.
At least with the video you can get an idea of the friendly and enthusiastic banter. Hmm, banter may be too much of an understatement -- cacophony, yes that's it, happy cacophony! There are two other rooms at C&L's house and they were full, too.
Don't bother enlarging, this is a low quality video.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Henry Faulk's Christmas Story



December 9, 2005
The gifted storyteller and former radio broadcaster John Henry Faulk recorded his Christmas story in 1974 for the programVoices in the Wind.

Faulk was born to Methodist parents on August 21, 1913. The fourth of five children, he attended the University of Texas. For his master's thesis, he researched ten sermons in African-American churches and gained insight into the inequity of civil rights for people of color. He later taught English at the University and served as a medic in the Marines during World War II.

Before the John Henry Faulk Show debuted in 1951 on WCBS Radio, Faulk hosted numerous radio programs in New York and New Jersey.

He was blacklisted in 1957, but with (click here to read the rest on NPR) . . . 

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cranberry Orange Nut Bread and other notables :)

One of the local Tweeps/Peeps on Twitter gave me an excuse to search for a Cranberry bread recipe and I happened across this:
http://thebakingpan.com/SweetBreads/cranberryorangenutbread.html

The photo is tasty enough, I can't wait to give the recipe a try.
Here are two of my long time favorite breads that I usually bake during the holiday season.  Not only are they moist and delicious, but healthy, too.  Just ask me.  :)
(click here for printable copy of both)

Carrot Pineapple Bread
~Florence Jansen

Combine:
3 beaten eggs                              1 cup oil
2 tsp vanilla                                 2 C sugar
2 C shredded carrots                  1 small can crushed pineapple with juice

Sift together and add:
3 C flour                                     1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt                                     1 tsp cinnamon

Add 1/2 C chopped nuts.
Bake in 2 8x5 loaf pans, greased and floured, for 1 hour and 25 minutes at 325 degrees.
**********

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bread
~adapted from Florence Jansen

3 eggs                              1 1/4 C sugar
1 C pumpkin                    1/2 C oil
1/3 C water

Dry ingredients:
1 tsp salt                          1 3/4 C flour
3/4 tsp baking soda          2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg                     1 C oatmeal
12 oz chocolate chips

Beat eggs till frothy.  Add sugar gradually, beat till thick and lemon colored.  Stir in pumpkin, oil and water.  Blend well.  Mix and sift dry ingredients.  Add gradually to pumpkin mixture, blending well.
Stir in oats and chips.  Pour into 2 well greased and floured 8x5" loaf pans. (can also be baked in a ring or bundt cake pan)
Bake at 350 degrees for about 40-50 minutes or until loaf springs back to touch.
Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Friday, December 10, 2010

How to explain this thing called shyness

One of my early in life memories is me peering out at non-family members from behind the skirts of my mother and sisters and hearing them explain, "she's shy".  Perhaps it helped people understand my countenance, but it didn't help me at all.  What would've helped?  I have no idea.

I have "a friend" (yup, quotation marks. she's a friend who's not always a friend.) who believes that shyness is an attitude--that shy people just aren't trying.  How I'd love for her to experience the world from my perspective!  Yet, as much as I'd like to help others understand this thing called shyness, I'm unsure where to even begin.

When I worked my first job in a restaurant as a teen, I remember my mother being amazed and surprised at how out going I was with customers.  After musing this over, I told her that when I was working it was like I was performing a part in a play.  I could engage customers in small talk and have fun with my job with my uniform on, but once I was off the clock--same old me.

Today I don't need a uniform to make small talk and have fun with people, as long as it ends there.   If more is required of me, I don't last long.  It must be due to the mental effort it requires me to interact.  Now that I'm on a low dose of anti-anxiety meds things are better, but only fractionally.

Okay, trying to think how to sum up shyness:  It's like being betrayed by my own brain.  As if it's releasing the chemicals into my system that were supposed to be for emergencies only.  And anxiety on top of that?  {shiver} You can't believe the number of scenarios and paranoid delusions about how people "really" feel about me can play out in my head in mere seconds.  And this is why it's so exhausting:  Plowing through all that, because I really do like people and I love to share and laugh.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cranberry Orange Cookies

I found this cookie recipe here 2 years ago and keep returning to it--must have to do with the flavor combination.  But now that I've been browsing other cookie recipes the blog owner has put up since then, I may soon have a few more favorites.  
Page after page of tempting goodies--beware!



Cranberry Orange Cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 large egg
zest of one large orange (about 1 tbsp)
3/4 cup dried cranberries


Preheat oven to 350F and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar, beating with an electric mixer until light. Beat in egg and orange zest. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the flour mixture, stirring only until just combined. Stir in the cranberries.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls (about 1 1/4-inch balls) onto prepared cookie sheets and bake for 9-12 minutes, until edges are very lightly browned. Cool for 3-4 minutes on baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 4 dozen.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Maybe it's crazy, but here's my idea

While N and I were enjoying our burgers and tots at WBC last night, Rob Drinkenstein's blog post began to work on my brain. Would it be possible to have a group of local restaurants get together and plan a progressive Sunday dinner as a Marion Polk Food Share fundraiser. (Or would that be too much with Chef's Night Out?)

Then my thoughts turned to "how many courses?", "how many tickets?", "should transportation be provided?".
We had a good time musing over which restaurant should do each course--including cocktail hour, of course.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ann Landers--Tips for Life

Remember Ann Landers?  She was one of my favorite things to read in the local newspaper in younger days.  I still have this list of hers taped inside my medicine cabinet.  It's a good list--worth keeping and sharing:

Tips for Life
1. Give people more than they expect, and do so cheerfully.
2. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you'd like.
3. Don't say, "I love you," unless you really mean it.
4. When you say, "I'm sorry," look the person in the eye.
5. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.
6. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt, but it's the only way to live life completely.
7. In disagreements, fight fair. No name-calling.
8. Don't judge people by their relatives.
9. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, "Why do you want to know?"
10. Call your mom.
11. Say "Bless you" when you hear someone sneeze.
12. Don't let a little squabble damage a good friendship.
13. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
14. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.
15. Marry someone you love to talk to. As you get older, good conversation will be one of the principal elements of an enduring relationship.
16. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
17. Read more books, and watch less TV.
18. In disagreements with loved ones, deal with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.
19. Never interrupt when you are being flattered.
20. Mind your own business.
21. Trust in God, but lock your car.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Turkey Enchiladas & Spanish Quinoa :)

I get nervous cooking ONE new recipe, let alone two, but there I was in the kitchen tonight--recipes printed and ingredients lined up.  I figured I couldn't go wrong with a Lynne Rosetto Kasper recipe.  But the other random recipe from VinoGirl on Food.com?  Felt like a crap shoot.
How did dinner turn out?  Great!  It was a great combo.  The best part?  Neither one really took that long to make.

Turkey Enchiladas
(click here for printable copy)

"This recipe is originally from Lynne Rossetto Kasper, the host of The Splendid Table on NPR. It's a great way to use up leftover turkey. It's especially good with smoked turkey!"
Ingredients
2 cups shredded roast turkey ( smoked turkey is fabulous in this recipe!)
2 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups grated monterey jack cheese
2 (7 ounce) cans salsa verde (look for Herdez brand) or 1 (13 ounce) cans tomatillos ( look for Herdez brand)
2 -4 tablespoons canned chopped green jalapenos, drained
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup vegetable oil
8 corn tortillas
Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degree F.
In a medium bowl, thoroughly combine the turkey, green onions, cream cheese, and 1 cup of the Jack cheese. Set aside.
In a blender or food processor, combine the salsa verde or tomatillos, chiles, cilantro, and cream. Blend until smooth.
Heat the oil in a heavy, 6-inch skillet over medium-high heat.
Using tongs, carefully place 1 tortilla at a time in the hot oil, and leave it in for 5 to 10 seconds until softened. Turn the tortilla over and soften the other side.
Drain over the skillet; then place on a plate lined with a paper towel. Place another paper towel on top and press to absorb the oil.
Repeat until all 8 tortillas are softened and drained.
Place one-eighth (about 1/3 cup) of the turkey mixture in the center of each tortilla. Roll tightly and place, seam-side down, in a 7 1/2-by-11-inch baking pan.
Pour the salsa verde-cream sauce over the enchiladas, and sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup of Jack cheese down the center.
Bake until heated through and bubbly, about 20-30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Spanish Quinoa
by VinoGirl on Food.com

Ingredients
1 (14 1/2 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onions, diced
water
1 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup quinoa, washed and drained (Fran said that toasting the quinoa would add flavor)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
Directions
Drain tomatoes and reserve juice.
Heat oil and saute garlic and onions until translucent.
Place the tomato juice in a liquid measuring cup and add enough water to equal 1 cup of liquid.
Add the liquid to the sauteed garlic and onions; bring to a boil.
Stir in the quinoa, pepper, and salt.
Reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.
Stir in tomatoes, chili powder, and cumin; cook another 2-4 minutes until hot.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Evolution of Our Thanksgiving

Each year our Thanksgiving group changes a little more.  Around 20 years ago, it seemed like the our girls and C & L's would be young forever.  The plays they wrote, rehearsed and performed, were filled with drama--mainly due to personnel issues.  It's amazing those strong personalities were able to put it all together for us to watch at the end.  T and S, seemed to go along for the ride, but I'm sure they added their own quiet demands to the fray.

Now they're grown and my niece and nephew's children are the youngest--although the oldest just entered her first year of college.  Another generation grown in the proverbial blink of an eye!

And now my folks are spending their last winter in Arizona due to health issues (sadly). I've been wondering how the holidays will look next year.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How to be more literate

I grew up being read to by the adults in our circle of family and friends. Once I was able to read, it was my job (joy) to read for those younger than myself. I can still remember reading to my small nieces and pointing out simple, repetitive words, like "the", so they could begin to pick out words on their own.

Every year, it seems fewer and fewer of the short folk who enter L's and my realm know any nursery rhymes or "concepts of print".  And every year I read more and more studies and statistics about how important early literacy is. I have to assume that fewer and fewer children grow up being read to, but I don't understand it.  It's such a special time to spend with a child.  Reading together can be calming amidst a day full of deadlines.  Which is why I chose to continue to read to my girls at bedtime, even after they out grew my lap.

On that depressing note, here are a couple links to some good books for the younger folk--Christmas, fiction and non-fiction included:

Brian Floca books
Never Take a Shark to the Dentist
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
Ben Hillman books
Bobby Bramble Loses His Brain

Christmas books:
Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree
Drummer Boy
The Secret of Santa's Island

Early Literacy benefits

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

One word post?

If I did that tonight, it would probably be something like:
"bleh"
That's pretty much all I've got . . . too many things to list and it's just so complicated.
Isn't that the name of a movie?
With Meryl Streep?

The mail did bring some good news: ODS accepted our paperwork to keep Fran on my insurance. Now to do the same for N's. I'd like to say I'm getting good at jumping through hoops, but I'm not.

Maybe going to a romantic comedy with subtitles is what I need tonight.
Hopefully, N gets home in time so we can go.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quivering wimpy muscles

I'm still not sure where this latest bout of muscle spasms began.  Perhaps it had to do with holding Hope for an hour, on the vet's hard, little, waiting room bench while we waited for Izzy to return.  My own danged fault.  Not only did I want to comfort her, but she's a nice little bundle who comforts me.

Or maybe it was when I came home for lunch last week and the auto-closer on the garage door refused to cooperate.  I can't believe I used to open and shut that heavy double door all the time--when I was much younger.  Pulling it down probably would've been okay for these wimpy muscles, but I should've known better than to pull it up.  That part was unnecessary.  Such an idiot!

The trick with this back (maybe all backs?) is that I never know right away that I've done damage.  It usually waits a day or two.  If I'm not in denial, I'll go take an anti-inflammatory right away.  Guess that means I thought I was invincible this time.  :>P

So Friday found me flat on my back, Saturday I did too much.  And today?  Today I'll probably rest again and hope I'm able to work on Monday.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Baggage

I've often heard that, "No one escapes childhood (or young adulthood) unscathed,"I'm guessing here, but I believe we all come to relationships with our own individual baggage.  Some of us with towering, paralyzing piles of it.
I know the two of us did.

Not long after we met, N helped me to open up my suitcases, rummage through the mess inside and then after some good long cries, let me know that he loved me in spite of it all.  And I provided a sympathetic ear for N to talk about his baggage--to talk about what he wanted or was able to share.

I'd like to believe that we helped each other come to grips with our pasts--examining, understanding and then letting most of it go.  BUT we still have issues connected with our pasts that we crash into from time to time.  Stress seems to be the cause of bringing these things to the surface.  And because it is mired in our pasts, I find it difficult to figure out what's current and what's old crap.

We went to see a therapist every week for about 9 months to help us deal with one of our last (and worse) bouts.  It was a good, cleansing experience, but now that several months have passed I'm not sure if we were given any tools to deal on our own.  During our sessions it felt good to have my statements interpreted into something N could understand and vice versa.  I think we both gained more insight into the effects our pasts had on us.  But it stops there.  Emotions run too high to tackle it on our own in an hour's time.

And so, after trying to be understood, I realize that I need to try and understand, too.  End result? I'll be giving some things up I enjoy for the good of our relationship.  He's worth it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Student teachers

I've been enjoying getting to know our current student teacher and at the same time I've been thinking a LOT about how we train our teachers.
I've watched teachers at our school who are unable to give over control to a student, some struggle over knowing what role they play (and probably end up doing more than they should), and others step completely to the side.
I know it's an important and necessary part of the process--for student teachers to be put behind the steering wheel of a classroom, but I'm less sure whether we've found the best way to implement this stage to get the needed and best training for the student.
I'm curious about the idea of a laboratory school. Would it create a more stable learning environment with opportunities to do projects that wouldn't be possible in someone else's classroom? It could be a satellite school that takes student teachers from all the colleges and universities throughout a state, with a teacher/mentor for each grade--who's always there and ready to lend a hand or ear.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Autumn art project for children

Even if you don't have a photocopier/scanner in your home, you can still make a leaf picture/critter with your child.  Teacher L and I were first inspired after reading the book "Leaf Man" by Lois Elhert to the kindergartners.  The two of us bring a variety of leaves for them to choose from (and if we remember, we tell the kids to bring some, too) to make their own critter on half a sheet of copy paper.  After the glue dries, Teacher L presses them and then takes them home to scan.  We mat the scanned pictures and display them in the school before sending the art home.
Also, I like the idea of scanning, printing and cutting out leaves so your child can create a picture each day over the course of several days.  Maybe making a book of their own, complete with a story, to give as a present.
Looking through the book "Leaf Man" (or if you can find a copy of "Look What I Did With a Leaf"), is a good way to jump start the activity.  Or after collecting leaves during a leaf walk, go through the leaves together and start the process by saying something like, "this would make a good ear, head, foot (etc) for an animal".
Here's a link to more ideas: "Leaf Man" teacher guide
Here's more leaf art ideas: Leaf Prints
More autumn art ideas: Art Projects for Kids


Monday, November 1, 2010

You Sexy Thing

During the warm summer months, N and I have no problem getting the pups to go out into the backyard to do their business, but once the temps go down and the rain begins to fall it's near impossible to get Hope to go outside on her own.  Izzy on the other hand, is usually pretty good unless it's a downpour.

And so this past week I've begun to fit a short dog walk into my weekday AM routine.  I was surprised at how simple it was with everything else-- you know, the usual stuff plus 40 minutes on the treadmill.

Imagine how pleased and surprised I was when N got up before me on both Saturday and Sunday this weekend and walked the dogs.

Thanks  N!

Even better than a dozen roses.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Total vegetable.

Yup, that's me--I'm being a total vegetable today.
But hey, it IS Saturday.

I could blame that awesome Rally to Restore Sanity for priming my sedentariness, but more likely it's this dang cold wrapping it's tentacles round my head.  {Geez, K, I didn't need that graphic reminder!}
It's a fact of life, that no matter how often we remind the wee folk to "chicken arm" their coughs and sneezes and wash their hands, when you work in such close proximity you're going to get one of the bugs going around.
I do feel better having my flu shot and knowing that thanks to my inhaler I won't be getting a nasty case of bronchitis.  All those yearly bouts must've taken a toll on my lungs, but you're right-- there are drawbacks to the inhaler, too.
And now to nudge myself into a different frame of mind.
Wish me luck!

Friday, October 29, 2010

BLACK BEAN AND BUTTERNUT CHILI

Weeknight Kitchen, with Lynne Rossetto Kasper
October 27, 2010
(click here for original printable column)

"Oh, what a pot of chili can do for us on a cold night. Granted, this one takes a little longer than most of our work night dishes, but it delivers big time. Just one caution: the chipotle chile is deliciously smoky and rich, but quite hot. With that and the 3 tablespoons of chili powder called for in the recipe you get a stew for hot pepper lovers. My advice is to use the chipotle, but if hot spice isn't appealing, use a very mild chili powder for the 3 tablespoons. See the note after the recipe for specifics.

One other thought: This recipe illustrates, too, that mixing hot spice with sweet ingredients (the squash and cider), softens the heat's impact – a trick to remember when someone gets carried away with seasonings.

BLACK BEAN AND BUTTERNUT CHILI

Reprinted with permission from Party Vegan: Fabulous, Fun Food for Every Occasion by Robin Robertson (John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2010). Copyright © 2010 by Robin Robertson.
Makes 4 to 6 servings

Halloween colors play out deliciously in this flavorful chili made with black beans and diced butternut squash.

1 small butternut squash, peeled, halved, and seeded
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 medium orange bell pepper, coarsely chopped (optional)
1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups cooked or 3 (15.5-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced
1 cup apple juice
3 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the squash into 1/4-inch dice and set aside. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the squash, onion, carrot, and bell pepper, if using. Cover and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, beans, and chipotle. Stir in the apple juice, chili powder, allspice, sugar, and salt and black pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Uncover and simmer about 10 minutes longer. Serve immediately. If not using right away, bring to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 weeks, then thaw before reheating.
LYNNE'S TIPS

The recipe has a hefty amount of chile. The chipotle is hot. So if you are sensitive to spicy foods, add the chili powder a teaspoon at a time (the 3 tablespoons measurement equals 6 teaspoons) to get the amount of heat you prefer. For mildest of mild chile, use sweet Spanish, Hungarian or California paprika; for slightly hotter, try ground Ancho; for fruity heat, splurge on Aleppo chile; and for searing fire, go for cayenne.

This technique of cooking vegetables with little oil until they're steaming in their own juices before you mix in the other ingredients deepens flavors in ways that just tossing everything into the pot and simmering it can never achieve. Try this with other recipes.

In our test we used unfiltered apple cider. Most supermarkets have it in the produce section this time of year."

Have a great week,

Lynne
Copyright 2010, Lynne Rossetto Kasper.
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jane Brody's NYTimes Column on Aging Well

What to Do Now to Feel Better at 100



"Many changes take place in physical abilities as we age. Try as I may, I simply can’t swim as fast at 69 as I did at 39, 49 or even 59. Nor am I as steady on my feet. I can only assume my strength has waned as well — I’m finding bottles and jars harder to open and heavy packages harder to lift and carry.
Yvetta Fedorova
But in August, I hiked in the Grand Canyon, prompting my 10-year-old grandson Stefan to ask, “Grandma, how many 69-year-olds do you think could do this?”
The answer, of course, is ..." (click here to read the entire column)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Worms continued

A new record was set for the number of wee folk who wanted NO part of holding a red wiggler worm today.  I was good, I didn't laugh when a few of the we-want-no-part-of-this-worm-holding-thing made a point of standing up and putting both of their hands between their legs--in case I got it into my head to force the issue.

I guess they didn't understand how protective I am of my worms.  No way do I want any of those timid, little creatures to go flying through the air, accompanied with shrieks of terror.

After I finished reading Wendy Pfeiffer's, Wiggling Worms at Work, and the willing participants held/observed the worms, we washed our hands and returned to the science area.  I told them it was time for my surprise, that we were going to eat worms.  The first 3 of the 4 groups were skeptical and patiently waited for me to show my cards.  But a member of the last group of the day, gasped loudly, setting the tone of concern that made my whole entire day.

Don't worry, I didn't milk it.  I quickly showed my bag of gummy worms before they went screaming for the exit.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tomorrow it's worms

How appropriate!
Worms and rain kind of go together, but only because we begin to see them above ground.
Another downpour outside . . . I hope there's an dry opportunity in the next 3 hours, so I can bring our little worm box into the garage.  I like having everything for school ready to go in the morning.  Plus, giving the majority of bugs a chance to escape before putting the box in the car sounds like an excellent plan to me.

I wonder how many of the wee folk will be willing to hold a worm?  Some years there's only one or two that refuse.  Thankfully, it's been rare to have more than a handful of the kids too squeamish.  What makes me smile, is seeing how many of them will spot the worms escaping their flooded homes and try to carry them to safety, after we've talked about them in science.
The kids are right, the playground is not a good place for a worm.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

This week (Tues&Wed, anyway) anxiety is winning ... :>P

And now it's getting better.
Whew!
I wouldn't want to deal with my demons and try to do the pumpkin patch at the same time.
Thanks rain, for holding off one more day.
Although, Setnicker's has a lot of fun inside their barn.
Not big people fun, but wee folk fun.  Just right!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Oh vacuum cleaner how you vex me

Ever have those moments with your vacuum cleaner that send you into a fit of frustration or (yeah, I'll just say it) a tantrum?
I do my best to keep the machine well maintained, even though it has all these new fangled (geezer speak?) filters and stuff, but obviously I dropped the ball today.
I spent a good 40 minutes doing a thorough vacuuming job this afternoon.  Then I went to go empty the cup before checking on the main filter.  I wanted to throw myself onto the floor and wail.  The cup was empty.  Empty?!  How could this be?  You mean I spent that time being so careful to go over the high traffic areas slowly and repeatedly for nothing?
Turns out that there was some kind of obstruction in the area of the main filter--I'm glad it was the first thing I checked.
So, thankfully, it wasn't a totally wasted vacuuming job, just partially wasted.
Thanks for listening.
I feel better all ready.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Accidental dinner

I can't be the only person who does this--begins cooking dinner without a clear plan?
Maybe it's a character flaw--committing to a project, but preferring to use the "seat of the pants" approach.
Enough self exploration!  Here's the meal that nearly had N and I licking our plates:

I began with an onion and red pepper sliced into rings.  I added them all to a preheated dutch oven with a Tbsp or two of olive oil.  I cooked the rings of onion and pepper -until the onions were translucent with some browning on the edges.
I browned 4 chicken thighs in a separate skillet, in olive oil on med high and then added them to the vegetables.  I added a cup of chicken broth, 3-4 Tbsp of Patak's Curry Paste, and a bottle of Harry and David's Pepper and Onion Relish.  I simmered all of this in a dutch oven for 30-45 minutes and then served it over Basmati rice.
OMG
SO GOOD!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Sneeze Song--It's snot funny

Vegetable Soup and Gluten Free Pancakes

One of my favorite radio programs is Lynne Rossetto Kasper's Splendid Table. So much so, that I signed up to receive her Weeknight Kitchen newsletters.
Here's her latest edition:

WEEKNIGHT KITCHEN

October 13, 2010

Dear Friends,

In my humble opinion (truth be told I haven't had one of those since I was 9), there's a group of food writers whose recipes are worth your time and money. Their dishes work, taste good, and many of the dishes demand little time.

"Fine," you're thinking, "so who are you talking about?" A short list should include Melissa Clark, Raghavan Iyer, Sally Schneider, John Willoughby, Deborah Madison, Steven Raichlen and Dorie Greenspan. Do this soup and you'll see why I think Dorie is one of those cooks you can follow almost anywhere because she'll never let you down.

SPUR-OF-THE-MOMENT VEGETABLE SOUP

Reprinted with permission of the publisher from Around My French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 8, 2010). Copyright © 2010 by Dorie Greenspan.

Makes 8 servings

Whenever it looks like there's nothing in the house to eat, I declare that I'll make stone soup. The reference is to a children's story about a beggar who comes to a house and offers to make soup from a stone in exchange for being invited in. His host and hostess are intrigued by the idea, welcome him, and the tale begins. First the man places a stone in a tall soup pot. He adds water and suggests that the soup would taste really good with a little onion. When the onion is added, he suggests some carrots. And, so it goes, until he's got a thick, savory soup packed with vegetables simmering on the stove.

My "stone" is a couple of always-in-the-kitchen ingredients plus one starchy vegetable, and the soup is built on the traditional French formula for a soup made with ingredients from the market or potager, the kitchen garden. The base of the soup is slowly cooked aromatics: onions, for sure; garlic, if you'd like; and celery, if you have it. The liquid can be water – in a French home, it would likely be water flavored with a few bouillon cubes or maybe a bit of whatever cooking juices remain from a roast or a chicken – or it can be canned chicken broth (an ingredient that's hard to come by in French supermarkets) or soup from a dried mix (an often-used French shortcut). The thickener is optional, but the standard is one smallish potato. Or, if there's rice leftover from dinner the night before, the potato will be spared, and the rice will get tossed in.

As you can see, it's more an idea for a recipe than a real recipe, and it's meant to be kept in mind when you're in the market and at your wits' end wondering what to cook.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil, or a combination
1 pound carrots, trimmed, peeled, and thinly sliced
1 big onion (I like to use a Spanish onion), coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, trimmed and thinly sliced
1-2 garlic cloves, split, germ removed, and thinly sliced (optional)
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped (optional)
1 rosemary sprig (optional)
1 thyme sprig (optional)
Salt
6 cups chicken broth (plus perhaps 1 cup more, for thinning)
1 small potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
Freshly ground pepper
Put a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat and add the butter and/or oil. When the butter is melted, or the oil is hot, toss in the carrots, onion, celery, and, if you're using them, the garlic, ginger, rosemary, and/or thyme. Season with salt, reduce the heat to low, and give the ingredients a couple of turns to coat them with butter or oil. Cover the pot and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring a few times, until the vegetables are very soft but not colored.
Remove the lid, pour in the chicken broth, turn up the heat, and bring to a boil. Toss in the potato cubes and adjust the heat so that the soup is at a simmer. Partially cover the pot and let the soup simmer gently for another 20 minutes, or until the potato can be mashed easily with a spoon.
Now you must decide if you'd like to serve the soup just as it is or if you'd like to puree it – I usually opt for the puree. In either case, do the best you can to fish out the rosemary and thyme sprigs, if you used them. If you're serving the soup in its chunky state, taste it and season as needed with salt and pepper. Or puree the soup in a blender (which will give you the silkiest texture) or food processor, or use a food mill or an immersion blender. Taste it for salt and pepper and reheat it before serving. If you find the soup a little too thick for your taste, when you're reheating it, pour in enough additional chicken broth (or water) to get the texture you like.
Serving: If you'd like, top the pureed soup with a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream or a spoonful of unsweetened whipped cream and a sprinkling of chopped fresh rosemary or thyme. The soup is also good with a swirl of basil pesto or a drizzle of olive or nut oil.

Storing: The soup can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days or packed airtight and kept in the freezer for up to 3 months. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or so before serving.

LYNNE'S TIPS

Dorie's improv here welcomes so much of what you might find right now for little money in the market. The only thing to remember is balance. For instance, cabbage and onion are two of the mellowing agents in a soup. Generous amounts of these two make it possible to add the assertive characters, such as turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, kale, curly endive, spinach or chard. Figure two parts onion and two parts cabbage to one part of any three of the others. Since tomato is packed with umami (that special protein that lifts the flavors of everything it touches) and brings a tart-sweet, rich undertone to soups, use it in modest quantities, too – perhaps one part tomato to all the others mentioned.
Of course, beans were meant for this kind of soup, too, and different blends of herbs and spices can go on forever. The point is you can transform this idea into so many different soups you'll have the entire winter taken care of.

THOUGHTS FROM LYNNE

Judy Graham, who works with me putting Weeknight Kitchen together every week, tested out a recipe you might want to try. As she said, "When you hear gluten-free pancakes, gummy cardboard comes to mind." According to Judy, we should not jump to conclusions. She's over the moon about Karen Morgan's pancakes from her new book Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free: 75 Recipes for Irresistible Desserts and Pastries (Chronicle Books LLC) coming out in November 2010. Here they are, and I say give them a try. The special flours can be found in "natural" food stores, some well-stocked supermarkets and online.

Sunday Morning Pancakes

Reprinted with permission of the publisher from Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free: 75 Recipes for Irresistible Desserts and Pastries by Karen Morgan (Chronicle Books LLC, to be published in November 2010). Copyright © 2010 by Karen Morgan.

Makes 8 big pancakes or 16 small ones

My search for the perfect Sunday morning pancakes has been a lesson in patience more than anything. I have to say that the waiting has paid off tremendously, as these babies are the ideal version of the weekend morning staple! They rise up and hold their height with a soft, fluffy texture. Their flavor is so phenomenal, and you'll glow with pride when you see that every last one has been devoured by your hungry guests.

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons almond flour
1/2 cup millet flour
2 tablespoons glutinous rice flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup organic buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Safflower oil cooking spray
In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and stir with a whisk to blend. Add the eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter and stir until smooth.
Heat a large skillet or a griddle over medium-low heat. Spray the pan with safflower oil spray. Run your hands under the faucet to wet your fingertips and then shake them over the hot griddle. If the water dances across the pan, the heat is just right to begin making your pancakes.
For each large pancake, pour 1/4 cup batter into the pan; for small pancakes, use 2 tablespoons batter. Cook until bubbles form on the top of each pancake; turn and cook until golden brown on the bottom. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in a 200°F oven while cooking the remaining batter.
To save time, mix all the dry ingredients in advance and keep in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 3 months.

Blackbird Baking Tip: This versatile recipe can be customized into whatever type of pancake you are craving. Try adding fresh fruit, such as 1/2 cup of blueberries or bananas, and a few dashes of cinnamon or 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Add ground spice directly to the batter and whisk to incorporate. When adding fresh fruit or chocolate, simply sprinkle some on top of each pancake before you flip it. After your first batch, you'll find yourself thinking, "Gluten? Who needs it?"

Have a great week,

Lynne
Copyright 2010, Lynne Rossetto Kasper.
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hello October!

And as I greet you, I'll continue on pulling out the long pants, try and figure out which coat will get me through the changing temps of the day and begin shifting the brain from summer cooking to autumn recipes.
Squash Poster
At happy hour last night, there was talk of soup and squash.  Makes me want to plan a trip (soon) out to EZ Orchards to browse through their squash varieties.  I need to find a good book on which is best for what.  I think it was last year that I learned which pumpkin/squash varieties were best for a pumpkin pie.

Please share your squash knowledge.  I'm hungry to learn!  :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Have you heard about ...

In the past 2 weeks, I've heard and read about two interesting news items.

The first is a company called Kaboom!, whose vision is-- "A great place to play within walking distance of every child in America".  How wonderful is that?  Here's a fact from their site that blew my mind-- "To date, KaBOOM! has built over 1,800 playgrounds, saving play for over 3.5 million children."
How did it begin?  "In August 1995, shortly after moving to Washington, D.C., 24-year-old Darell Hammond read a story in the Washington Post about two local children who suffocated while playing in an abandoned car because they didn’t have anywhere else to play. Darell, who had previously helped build several playgrounds for other organizations, realized this tragedy could have been prevented. The passion was born, the idea was conceived."
One of the things I love about Kaboom!, is that they ask communities to provide a percentage of the money AND the labor to put up the playground.  They've learned there's more pride and care when there's this level of commitment.

The second story was about a program for the unemployed in the state of Georgia, called "Georgia Work$"  Perhaps it's just me with my Pollyanna view of the world, but it sounds like a program worth a good long look by other states.
Here's a excerpt from Newsweek magazine, "Unemployment means, on average, at least 20 weeks of unreturned phone calls and e-mails to nowhere. In Georgia, however, there’s an important difference: the search is more than a month shorter. That’s thanks to Georgia Work$, a novel jobs program that offers people a subsidized shot at self-reinvention. Enrollees get six weeks of on-the-job training—with up to $600 for expenses like new clothes—at a business with an immediate opening. Since 2003, thousands of people have found work this way, saving the state about $12 million in welfare costs."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tentative Thankfulness

Recently I wrote about our current situation with Fran's medical insurance coverage.
I was resigned to losing this battle.
Until I finished venting (once again. Thank you, L) and began listening to L's pep talk.
I came home with some new ideas and ready to put them into motion.

First I wrote a note to my principal to see if she might be able to point me in the right direction.  My next note was going to be to my union,

until I opened the mail.

A letter from my insurance company?  Not from OEBB?  What could this be?
I hesitated opening it.
God, I'm so tired of bad news.

But I did--eventually.

Basically the letter said, here's what we need from you and here's the time line we need it in.

Yup, I need to ask the doctor for another note about Fran and thankfully she's been there for us several times.
I hope she's not tired of us yet.
AND I hope this solves this latest boulder in our path.

A movie and a book

I stumbled upon my first Molly Gloss book several years ago.  It was a short novel entitled, "Jump-off Creek".  I loved her writing and the crafting of her story left me wanting more.  I was thrilled to find her latest at Reader's Guide a week ago, "The Hearts of Horses".
Once again, I'm falling in love with her characters.  Doesn't hurt that she's an Oregon author.

Last night, N and I did something unusual.  We pulled out our Netflix movie on a week night.  That rarely happens!  It was a 2006 film,  "The Namesake".  While it didn't rank as amazing, it was a good story with excellent acting--although it seemed a little long towards the end.  I'd describe it as both a coming of age type of film and finding enlightenment.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Treadmill composing

Every morning this past week I've spent most of my time composing a letter in my head while walking on the treadmill.  Once N and I solved the issue of Fran's student loans, my insurance hit us with unexpected news:  She will no longer be covered on my insurance.

I thought I did a pretty good job of staying on top of things, as far as bills and other such household duties, but according to OEBB I screwed up with Fran's coverage.  Last October, was the first time district employees were to enroll for insurance online.  I wasn't alone in forgetting to click one last confirmation button when I went to re-certify Fran as a disabled dependent.  I had no idea until I received an email from an OEBB representative notifying me of my mistake.  Thankfully, she graciously took care of it for me.

When this year's enrollment window rolled around, I noticed that Fran's name was absent from my dependent list.  I emailed OEBB to find out why.  After an exchange of emails, I was told that Fran aged out in the summer and that ODS said I hadn't contacted them.  What??  A certified disabled dependent can "age out"?  We were supposed to contact ODS?  And how were we supposed to know this?? {huge sigh}

We appealed, filling out their form that asked just two questions and also included a note from Fran's doctor, saying that yes indeed she is disabled.  A certified letter arrived stating the same thing--that she aged out and we can't add her back.  Ah, but you may appeal again, the letter said.

My first thought is what would be the point?  Both N and I are covered thanks to our jobs.  BUT he plans on retiring soon and who knows what will happen to her coverage then.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Manhattan Film Shorts

N and I voted for our favorite short film at Salem Cinema Tuesday night.
After talking about our impressions on the way home, I'm wondering if I'm guilty of being blinded by the last thing on the screen, but the short was full of passion, turmoil and had such a sweet ending.

I'm telling you, it was a tough decision.  After the lights came back on, I sat with my ballot going back and forth from the 4 or 5 that ranked high for me.
For N, it was an easier decision.  He went with the film that visually made him go, "wow!".

You still have a chance to see the films.  Last day is Oct. 3.

Can't wait for the film festival mid October!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Carolyn Hax moment

". . . we have to own our own lives. I have been beating that drum for years. Even abuse victims -- none of whom did anything to deserve abuse -- ultimately have to get themselves out of the trap that ensnared them.
. . .
Rephrase the message however you want: I am all I have. You are all you have. Others can help, but there's only so far they can go." ~ Carolyn Hax

To read this column in it's entirety click here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Good Times in Salem Oregon

What a fun time Saturday evening! Thanks to Twitter, we met up with @SalemRebekah, @AmberPadilla, @KBlocksom, @Trissajane, @Kneznanski--some with mates, some not. @VegansNightmare had volunteered for the first half, so he was leaving as we were arriving.

It looked like there were some decent numbers, and it was the first year of the event. James of Wandering Aengus, said that they poured 800 tastes. I thought that sounded pretty good. I bet there were some repeats in there, tho! :>) The pours were quite generous, which was nice and the two food booths were both local and stuff we'd normally eat.
Since we arrived a few hours after the core group, they ended up leaving and heading to La Capitale for cocktails. We arrived at La Cap too late to meet up with them. So we went to Willamette Noodle Co for their late hours. We were two of maybe 6 people there, until 20 minutes later when the place nearly filled with young folk. They were fans of the music duo playing. We ended up eating way too much while we sat enjoying the music, but it made for a wonderful end to our evening.
 I hope to go to the Manhattan Film Fest at Salem Cinema tonight. If they have tickets left.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Catching my breath

There are times when I question the reasoning behind taking 3 months off from school. These crazy thoughts usually occur in September when I'm still getting used to the routine, but NEVER in June, July or August.


I've had Junes when I decided I'd try and stick (loosely) to the regular schedule, but there's no fooling the summer brain. During the school year, when I hear that alarm, I practically hop out of bed and onto the treadmill. Once school is out, my fingers know exactly where that alarm's mute button is. Aurgh! Or maybe that should be--aurgh?

And if I don't get on that treadmill before I'm fully awake, the chance I'll take it on in the following hours are reduced by 90%. Who programmed this brain of mine, anyway??

I have serious doubts that I'll ever figure out a way to outsmart myself.  This week (yes, one week at a time, please) I'd be happy if I could talk myself into going to bed earlier.  That would solve the current early evening napping situation.
But how to convince the brain it really can watch those season openers on another day?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Group Think?

The short folk and I had our introductory science lesson yesterday.  The morning session's was abbreviated due to a drill, a visit from the counselor and testing pull outs.  Quite an impact on a 2 1/2 hour class.  It took some tweaking but we made it work.

I added something new and think I may revisit it periodically.  We talked about what "being ready to learn" looks like.  I don't understand why discussing about it as a group helps, but it does.  Now I'd like to figure out a way to encourage them to curb their behavior as a group.

I worked with a teacher 7 years ago who had a knack for creating that atmosphere where they all understand that they're a team.  That it's not enough for a single student to have excellent behavior, but they need to work together as a whole towards that goal.

Working as a team comes in handy in every aspect of our lives.  Now how to stimulate the team module in their brains?  ;>)

Monday, September 20, 2010

In Happy Anticipation

And it's a nice place to be.  :>)
Yes, my feet are a wee bit sore (getting used to this thing called work), but it doesn't matter.
N and I signed up for an infusion class given by Rob Drinkenstein at Andaluz . . .
AND it's tonight!!

Yet another fun opportunity to get together with some great people and meet some new folks.
Who knew I could ever look forward to a Monday?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

DVD Frustration or Burn Baby Burn

Yeah, I volunteered.  What you're saying is it's my own dang fault?
I guess.
But it was an opportunity to learn something new.  About a software program I didn't even know I owned--thanks to the manufacturer throwing in an extra.
My problem was manipulating the objects more than the program wanted me to.  After repeating the same process over and over this morning (with the same results), I decided it was time to make a clean start.

That's all it took.
The clean start fixed every stinking issue I was having.
It's true that I wasted 3 DVDs to test my progress along the way, but if I'm generous with myself, I'll admit that through that process I learned exactly how I wanted the layout of the DVD to work.
Now all I need is the final okay from the staff member in charge of the project.  Then I can burn 40 of these babies and be done with the job.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cancelled Camping

I was really looking forward to heading to a campground with Jon's folks.  The two meals N and I were in charge of are all prepped and waiting in the fridge.  Guess I can't complain about the absence of inspiration in the dinner department one night this weekend.

The reason for the cancellation?  The forecast for the Newport area steadily darkened as Friday ticked forward.  Finally, NOAA put a hazardous weather warning up for the predicted 1-2" of rain.  If it doesn't rain buckets over there, I'm going to be disappointed even more.  Sorry Newport!

There is one positive:  I can burn a DVD of the recess video for final okay and then finish that job--finally!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Discovering Galettes

Where the heck have I been?
 Don't answer that.
There are probably a million more delicious things I'm totally unaware of.
Two weeks ago, N and I discovered galettes--particularly blackberry with fresh whipped cream.  And then last night, in my search for variations on galette dough, I discovered savory galettes.  Of course, no one describes them better or provides tastier recipes than Smitten Kitchen.
Let's just say, I can't wait to try this one out ... soon.  :>)
zucchini ricotta galette, served
Zucchini and Ricotta Galette
from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 6

For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chill again
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water

Filling:
1 large or 2 small zucchinis, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup (about 1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded mozzarella
1 tablespoon slivered basil leaves

Glaze:
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Make dough: Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle bits of butter over dough and using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with the biggest pieces of butter the size of tiny peas. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add this to the butter-flour mixture. With your fingertips or a wooden spoon, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Make filling: Spread the zucchini out over several layers of paper towels. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and let drain for 30 minutes; gently blot the tops of the zucchini dry with paper towels before using. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil and the garlic together; set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, and 1 teaspoon of the garlicky olive oil together and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare galette: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet (though if you line it with parchment paper, it will be easier to transfer it to a plate later). Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the bottom of the galette dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Shingle the zucchini attractively on top of the ricotta in concentric circles, starting at the outside edge. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of the garlic and olive oil mixture evenly over the zucchini. Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open. Brush crust with egg yolk glaze.

Bake the galette until the cheese is puffed, the zucchini is slightly wilted and the galette is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with basil, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Monday, September 13, 2010

How about a salad for dinner tonight?

from Cooking Light
Tuna-Garbanzo Salad

Inspired by Spanish tapas, this salad spotlights premium tuna. Bonito del Norte or albacore packed in oil are good choices for this recipe.

Yield:  4 servings (serving size: about 2 cups salad and 2 toasts)


2 quarts water
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups (1-inch) cut green beans (about 1/2 pound)
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots (about 2 medium)
2 fire-roasted piquillo peppers, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
4 cups arugula
1 (7.8-ounce) jar premium tuna, packed in oil, drained and flaked
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
8 (1-ounce) slices French bread

Preheat broiler.
Bring 2 quarts water and salt to a boil. Add green beans; cook 4 minutes or until beans are crisp-tender. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain. Combine green beans, shallots, peppers, chickpeas, and garlic in a large bowl.
Combine mayonnaise, vinegar, and paprika in a small bowl, stirring well. Add mayonnaise mixture to bean mixture; toss gently to combine. Arrange 1 cup arugula on each of 4 plates; top each serving with about 1 cup bean mixture. Divide tuna evenly among plates.
Sprinkle cheese evenly over bread slices; place bread on a baking sheet. Broil 2 minutes or until lightly toasted. Serve toasts with salad.


CALORIES 391 (26% from fat); FAT 11.5g (sat 2.2g,mono 2.8g,poly 3.6g); IRON 3.5mg; CHOLESTEROL 23mg; CALCIUM 198mg; CARBOHYDRATE 46.5g; SODIUM 1052mg; PROTEIN 23.7g; FIBER 6.2g 

Cooking Light, MARCH 2007

Friday, September 10, 2010

Zero Tolerance

No, I wasn't there.
Yes, I have witnessed rage and yes, it was frightening.
BUT I believe in second chances. . . and mediation . . . and second chances.
And if you look at our law system, so does our society.
Take for instance, drunk drivers.
Now that's quite a weapon:  a piece of metal,
that on average weighs around 4,000 lbs.,
 driven by someone whose reflexes and reactions are slowed to the point where they are 25-50 times more likely to get in a crash with an unsuspecting vehicle.
But I digress.
Hysteria and fear?
What ARE they good for?
. . . FOX news!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Trader Joe's Shopping List

Okay, here's what we've created so far:

Amber said...
So my faves are as follows:
TJ Herb and Cheese Pizza dough
TJ Chocolate Truffles, made in France
TJ Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
TJ Vitamins
TJ Refried beans - Salsa style

Rebekah said...
The nitrate free sausages. Especially the chicken ones. Also, wine. Obviously. :)

Jennie said...
My favorites are:
Meditteranean Hummus
Kalamata Olives
Tasty Bite Indian Food entrees for lunches
Bulk nuts
Swiss Dark Chocolate Bar with Whole Hazelnuts

Emily said...
Mini peanut butter cups
Brie
Goat Cheese
Nuts
Chocolate croissants (frozen)
STone-ground oats
Mini boiled beets
Sesame crisps
Fage yogurt
3 buck chuck
Huge bars of dark chocolate
TJ lavender dryer bags
and and and...

Salem Man said...
Put me down for a variety of pasta including gnocchi.
Green salsa
and that tomato free corn salsa.
Bag of chips
and some Simer Times beer.
Don't forget the four pack of artichokes.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What are your TJ favorites?


Whenever N and I stumble into TJ's it's usually a spur of the moment, let's-stop-as-long-as-we're-passing-by, kinda thing.  AND we're usually hungry and load the cart with cookies, candy and "oh yeah! I wanted a some green beans and vitamin B complex!".
Bad K!!
Here's to changing bad habits!
Tell me what your TJ favorites are, so I can make an actual, honest to goodness list.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Getting back into the swing

At the end of every summer vacation, I'm thankful that the school district calls back most classified employees (like myself) on the Thursday before the Labor Day weekend.  It gives me a chance to wrap my head around the fact that summer vacation has come to an end and I'll soon be back on my feet shepherding small people during my work day.

Don't get me wrong, I love their company and I love watching them grow and learn, but it's not an easy transition going from sleeping in and doing what I want when I want, to jumping out of bed at 5:20 AM and staying on a schedule until bedtime.

And now I'll end this-- before I begin to complain repeatedly about my sore feet and tired body.
Happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Reuseable Produce Bags

Bigger than it looks.
After over a year of carrying around my own grocery bag in my purse and almost always remembering to use it, I've begun to notice my use of plastic produce bags.  Especially since we buy a lot of produce--every week.  

I wonder how many bags I use in a month?  I wonder if I really want to know? 

Then one day while checking out at Freddy's, an older woman in line behind me, puts her produce on the conveyor belt in these awesome looking fine mesh bags.  

"Are those your bags?", nosy me asked.
"Yes! I love them! They sell sets of three over by the produce area."

But of course I couldn't just run over and buy the first ones I hear about, I have to comb the internet for more,  compare all the ones I find and read reviews.  Did you know that checkers appreciate the bags they can read the produce codes through?  Some bags help keep produce from getting too slimey in the fridge.  
Whew!  

Reusable Produce Bags by 3B, 3 count [S#151963] [GM]Okay, so now I'm either confused or undecided or just can't make up my mind.  Oops!  Sorry, a bit redundant there!

Then @AmberPadilla on Twitter sends me a link on how to sew your own.  I like that idea.  Then I start calculating the time spent shopping for the right kind of material, dragging out the sewing machine, finding out the tension isn't just right  . . .   
I return to the web and do a Google shopping search and I decide these are a good buy.  

I hope I made the right choice.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer Simplicity — Blackberry Galette

After savoring my first Blackberry Galette at The Breadboard Bakery, I went online to see if I could find a recipe.  I found this article and recipe on savour-fare.com and can't wait to give it a try.

SUMMER SIMPLICITY — BLACKBERRY GALETTE
Blackberry Galette 2

I’m not much of a summer cook. I like to cook the foods of cooler weather — spicy gingerbreads, hearty stews, root vegetables that stick to your ribs. Summer, at least in Los Angeles, is really to hot to do this type of cooking, and those foods are literally the last food on earth you feel like eating. It doesn’t help that in the summertime I can live on Bacon and Tomato sandwiches and corn on the cob, which, while providing an entirely balanced diet (what? That’s what I’ve had for dinner for the past 4 nights in a row!), is not so much the stuff of food blogs.

The problem, of course, is that summertime is when my local farmer’s market offers its greatest bounty. I am confronted with weekly heaps of Gaviota strawberries, Blenheim apricots, Elephant Heart plums, and the biggest, fattest blackberries you’ve ever seen. And while I do LOVE fruit (and my love cannot hold a candle to that of my husband and my child) sometimes I am compelled to buy more fresh fruit than even our family can eat. And so I am forced to cook, even in the summer.




This blackberry galette is unfussy enough to suit even my summer doldrums, however. The crust is across between a crust and a shortbread, with some sturdiness that helps contain the juice (galettes do not lend themselves well to the world’s most flaky piecrust — more on that later). Furthermore, it’s easy to roll out, and can be rolled directly on the (parchment lined) cookie sheet. Just plop in your blackberries, fold up the sides, brush the whole thing with cream and sprinkle with sugar and bake.




The result may even be worth turning the oven on.
Blackberry Galette 1
Recipe
Blackberry Galette
4 oz. cream cheese
4 oz flour
1 oz sugar
1 pint blackberries
1/3 c. cream
1/4 c. turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine cream cheese, flour and sugar until thoroughly combined, form into a ball, and roll out directly onto a parchment lined cookie sheet until slightly less than 1/4 inch thick.

Place blackberries in center of crust, fold up edges. Brush entire tart with cream and sprinkle with

Combine all ingredients, form into a ball, and roll into a thin crust directly onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Place blackberries in center of crust, fold up edges of crust. Brush entire tart with cream and sprinkle with turbinado. Bake 30-40 minutes or until crust is lightly browned.



Read more: http://savour-fare.com/2009/07/24/summer-simplicity-blackberry-galette/#ixzz0y6oqmB8Y