Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fried egg quesadilla heaven

I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be able to do justice to this little slice of heaven... but I'm going to give it a try! I swear this came to me in a dream, maybe, or in the shower? Anyway, it was percolating around in my brain for awhile and finally I thought I might as well just start experimenting... a few go-rounds with a fry pan and a few eggs later, and I think I'm ready to share my new favorite.

So I start with two white corn tortillas and some no-stick spray on the skillet.

Lay one tortilla in the sprayed pan and warm a bit. Sprinkle some cheddar around the outside of the tortilla, in a ring around the edge, to hold the egg in place. Once the cheese has melted a bit, break an egg into the middle.

Let the egg cook a bit (1-2 minutes), sprinkle a litle more cheese over the egg and then place another tortilla on top; then flip the quesadilla.

Once both sides are browned and the egg is the desired "doneness," it's ready to go. (I have returned a quesadilla or two to the pan upon learning it was too gooey for my taste. I like my egg a bit runny, but not too runny... a bit of a science to it, but I've learned as I've gone along.)

One hand on the quesadilla, one hand on the camera, here we go! You get the idea, right? Yum.

A quick Google search only returned scrambled egg quesadillas. Hmm. No so much. That's a bit too much like a breakfast burrito... fine in it's own way, but no fried egg quesadilla! Do you think I might have actually invented something? That would make my day. Especially since it's something that's so yummy, I think I ate it almost every night for a week not that long ago... sad but true. I have yet to talk my nightly dinner companions into it, they look at me a little like I'm headed for the Cocoapuffs, but maybe one of these days...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday night grateful moment

Life is good! Another mellow day in the country... home tomorrow by dark or so. Even though we just had that special day yesterday chock-a-block with thankfulness and football and naps, I should be able to dredge up a few extra things I'm thankful for...

*Thankful for the wide open spaces. The dogs have had such a wonderful time running to and fro. There has been a great deal of gopher digging and mouse chomping and let's-get-as-muddy-as-possible (mostly Ruby). They run as far up toward the tree line as they can before we call them back. But even Ruby hasn't gotten lost-lost... I did have to holler quite mightily to call her back from chasing a deer into the next county this afternoon, though.
*Thankful for a boy who is willing to help out, and can kick in with a good attitude too if you ask just so (and he knows future computer time is hanging in the balance! Ah, motivation...).
*Thankful for yummy leftovers. I have had so many of those perfect bites--that amazing combination of turkey-stuffing-gravy-mashed potatoes-cranberry sauce-yams. I know it is startling to think that all those dishes could get on one fork and into my dainty mouth, but it happens. And it's heaven. (I almost took a picture of my plate yesterday as I was about to tuck into it, but then I thought, "Good grief, I don't want people to know how much I eat! It's a shocking amount!" and thought better of it. So you'll just have to trust me that it was divine.)
* Thankful for blue sky patches among the clouds, and temperatures that have been rather moderate. I guess I'm a wee bit sad that we haven't had snow, but the warmth has been welcome.
* Thankful for a couple more days of home-time.
* Thankful we can put the tree up on Sunday so it's ready to to be reclined around when the Goerlitz Jrs. come to town next weekend.
* Thankful I didn't go out Black Friday shopping... I mean, I went out, but to little shops in little Joseph... no wild crowd mongering for me. And extra thankful I'm not a Wal-Mart employee in Long Island, NY. (Aside: I don't usually watch a lot of commericals, as any TV I watch has been dvr'd (meaning zip-zip through ads, oh joy), and wow, did we get our fill of ads yesterday. Who exactly is out at 4 a.m. the morning after Thanksgiving? I can't remember which store was advertising this crack-o-dawn opening time, but I was particularly mystified by what exactly it is one needs that can only be gotten at 4 a.m.... I'm assuming it's something quite special that would be gone by, say, a normal 10 a.m. shopping spree?)
* On my outing, I was thankful to discover a very fun bath/body shop in town, with a day spa. Yipee. A girl needs her indulgences. I will remember that for future trips...
* And just so thankful for all the fun pieces that make up life--work, home, relax time, friends, family, food. Seth got a fun little lecture this morning about work, productivity/work ethic and what a big percentage of his life these endeavors will take up in the future. I feel lucky to have enjoyed almost all the work I've done in my adult life, and grateful to have had some of those suck-it-up jobs in my younger years to be able to know the difference.
* Thankful that this is my 4th Thanksgiving in Joseph--we somehow didn't quite make it over the year we got married ('05)! It's a wonderful place to retreat and come back refreshed to the world, ready for the holiday whirlwind. Whoosh--that was the sound of December going by!

Happy weekend, all. There were more pix I wanted to share, but this connection isn't about the uploading right now, so more later.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Top Chef, Season 5, Episode 3

Finally wrenched the laptop away from the 12-year-old clutches and can comment on the episode last night. I was planning to catch up via dvr over the weekend, but we clicked on Bravo at the right time and had all been sufficiently Mythbusted or Time Warp-ed out, and everyone was game. So I didn't get to pace and talk to the TV, but I did get commentary from the peanut gallery, so it all evened out.

We were a couple of minutes late to the show so I didn't see the name of the guest judge, and didn't immediately recognize him. I've read more about Grant Achatz than seen him, especially in regards to his cancer fight a year or so ago. But, major chops in the culinary world, and great to see him on Top Chef for the first time. We started watching just as the quickfire started, and I thought, "This seems really weird. Since when do they ever just cook a recipe?" And then. The twist. Happy me. I did also like that the winner of the quickfire wasn't in love with her ingredient... it's easy to cook when you adore an ingredient, but when you have to wrap your brain around something you're not so fond of, it's definitely more challenging. So kudos to Leah, who hasn't been one of my faves so far.

I liked the way the teams split--I would have picked just about everyone Leah did for her team! And nice name, too, with the Sexy Pants. But the Cougars had some strong contestants too. It was good to see Ariane redeem herself with the turkey. I thought they were setting her up for a total fall when she made that comment about not needing much time for the turkey since it was just a breast... I always underestimate the amount of time for just a turkey breast (as I did, indeedy do, once again today!). So my thought was she would bomb... but that is for a future show, I guess. (Can you tell I don't really see her in it for the long haul?)

I liked all the nasty situations that came their way, with the tiny ovens and microwaves, cooking outside and then the rain. (Kind of like real life in the catering world...) But poor little Jeff and his whineing about the terrible conditions that they had to cook in... Ha. I liked it, very much, when Tom just cut him off and said, you know, everyone had the same conditions, and go figure, they still won. Backing up to the decision of which team won, as the judges and the Foo Fighters were sitting around talking about it, the editors did a good job of cutting it to make it seem like it could have been either team. I wanted it to be Sexy Pants, but with the turkey being so good on the Cougar team... it was hard to call. And who knew vegan stuffing could get such rave reviews? I'll have to check that recipe out if they post it online, just to see their tricks.

Sad to see that it came down to dessert again. Not sure exactly what Jeff was thinking with layered pumpkin "foam" and berries; that just sounds bad. When the one Foo Fighter called it a "barfait" instead of a "parfait," we had a good little chuckle. And while the idea of the s'mores didn't sound too bad to me (although I'm hard pressed to name a dessert with bananas I like), it appeared to come down to execution, again. The Foo Fighters were just brutal with some of their judgements--was the vanilla foam on the s'mores like spit? Really? Just honest rocker folk, giving opinions.

I was disappointed that the judges didn't declare a winner on the winning team--usually when they have a team challenge, they still declare someone as most golden, winner of the winners. Not sure why that didn't happen. As for the losers, wasn't too surprised who it came down to. See, it really can end over that one bad dish. To go home over s'mores, really? How sad. But that sad, really? To cry? Hmmm. Other than Ariane and her tears of unworthiness last week, I don't think we've seen that much boo-hooing since our sweet crier in season 1, Dave...

And then there were 13. Still kind of early to put hard money down, but I'm quite fond of our two Europeans and Carla and Jamie... also, I really like Gene's spunk--how about that homemade grill for his pork? But for the long haul, I'm not sure he has it. Time will tell. And I'm happy to watch, every step of the way!

Future related topic: Top Chef's ever-expanding world of endorsements... I wouldn't have an opinion about that, would I?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I haven't done a lot of research into recipes for moose steak... is that a done thing? Canadians, weigh in here... I just couldn't resist the sentiment in this sign.

We left the dense fog of Walla Walla this morning and rose out of the mist by the top of Tollgate, and enjoyed sunshine all the way over to the Wallowas. In quiet and peaceful Joseph, Oregon, it is cool (well, cold, really!) but clear. As I write this the night before Thanksgiving, it is 25 degrees F and going down. Nice to be in by the fire...

Internet connection is much more sketchy than planned, so we'll see what, if anything, gets posted the next few days... I take it as a sign to unplug for a minute or two, or at least just catch up on every gadgety show known to man on the Discovery channel! I sense a Mythbusters Thanksgiving Day marathon...

Wishing everyone, near and far, a very happy Thanksgiving. We all have so very much to be thankful for, today and every day. Again with the royal "we," but I feel confident that if you're reading this, then you probably are also clothed (I don't want to know about your nekid blog surfing, if that's the case...), fed, warm and dry and have confidence that tomorrow will bring more of the same. Right there, count your blessings. That's a gentle suggestion, not quite the order it sounded like...

Peace and joy, turkey and stuffing too!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Does it get any better than this? Why yes, Virginia, it really does! Leftovers!

Yesterday was our 3rd anniversary, and we wanted to celebrate quietly at home--it had been a long day for both of us and we were looking forward to putting our feet up and catching up on Jack Bauer's latest adventures. Alas, I'd forgotten how brutal 24 can be...

So, I needed some comfort food to go with the drama. We both wanted pasta, and I made a very meaty non-meat marinara for Alan, and went straight to the hard stuff (alfredo) for myself. I have not made anything with full-fat dairy in a very long time, and I will blame the Warm Bunny herself for dragging me back with her green bean gratin recipe. I bought some heavy whip to make a butternut squash gratin for Thanksgiving, and knew I could spare a little for some pasta love.

Here's my standby alfredo. I have made this recipe (times 50) for really big crowds, and it works well to multiply. It is very much a keeper, even if the times between making it need to stretch out further and further as the years go by...

Happy Anniversary Alfredo:
2 T. unsalted butter
1/2 c. cream
1 egg yolk
1/4 c. parmesan
salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the cream and simmer. Briefly beat the egg yolk before adding to the cream, stir in the parmesan and warm through. Toss with pasta and devour. Last night I added about 3/4 cup chopped basil, 1/4 cup pinenuts and a generous handful of parmesan. Oh my.

Now very tradtional alfredo won't have the egg yolk, but I'm not a big purist on this, and find it is a good addition without getting too rich. Or so I remembered...

This is NOT an everyday meal. No way. About six mouthfuls in, I was a little overwhelmed with the richness. So my compromise was to add some of Alan's lovely red sauce to it (see below), which cut the richness a bit and I was able to soldier on! I didn't actually make it through my bowl... but I DID rewarm the leftovers for lunch today, and it was even better than last night. If possible.

Yum. Scrum. Love. Pasta. Love. Husband. Happy. Anniversary.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday photo shoot, with few pictures

It was quite a day, last Wednesday. But the pictures (mine, at least, I trust the actual photographers did much better!) don't do it justice, even close. I think it was the waking at 3 a.m.--at least, that's the best I can think of... I was sleep deprived... yeah, that's it.

Anyway, we set up for Christmas first (above), and then ran through Thanksgiving (below, before we set it up all pretty-like). It was fun, kind of like catering in that it moved really quicky and time passed in a flash. Mostly I was pretty pleased with how golden I got the turkey. When you don't have to think about drying it out, is it done? isn't it done? you can just think about the color and crank the oven heat up and go!

One of the fun parts of the set-up was accummulating garnishes for the turkey. In "real life" I am just pleased to get the turkey to the table. But for photographic purposes, I referred to various publications like MS Living, Sunset, Gourmet and Bon Apetit, etc. The settings they featured ranged from quite rustic and bare to very elaborate. I aimed for middle of the road, and let the art directors pull off the platter any items they thought didn't work.

For the Christmas setting, I used sage and rosemary tucked in to the neck area, and bay leaves around the bottom, with halved little key limes and tamarillos and fresh cranberries for red accents (you can see that in the top picture--the tamarillos are the roma tomato-like fruit; I'd never used them before, and they were very pretty). For the Thanksgiving setting I used roasted garlic heads, halved lemons, mandarines and key limes, with lime leaves around the bottom. Oh and persimmons! It had a nice fall feel to it. The picture below is the Thanksgiving turkey garnish, just hanging out and waiting for the turkey...

All in all, a productive day! Next time, though, I will do better at getting some shots of the action...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What the guys need for Thanksgiving dinner

So it's just going to be the three of us for Thanksgiving, which essentially means we can have whatever we want. Not like we don't usually have whatever we want, but somehow, not having guests feels wild and crazy, like we could order pizza or make tacos. Well, that's not happening. I need the stuffing and mashed potatoes (turkey is somewhat optional), but truly, it's about the leftovers. There is nothing on earth like Thanksgiving leftovers all weekend... you have the freedom to pile your plate with whatever strikes your fancy, and who has room for salad?

So in the planning, silly me, I thought I'd open it up for discussion. All went well until we started talking dessert...

Here are the current requests from the men:


Stuffing (no fruit and barely any nuts, please, say the boys: see below)

Mashed potatoes

Peas for Alan, green beans for Seth, butternut squash for me


Cranberry sauce for me, and me alone.

Rolls with butter

Some sparkly fizzy thing to drink

Dessert... Lemon meringue pie. What? Can you hear that sound of a record player's needle being ripped off a record mid-song? Does that seem even remotely right? This is going to need some serious discussion between now and next Thursday. I'll let you know how it goes. I'm angling for apple pie. I could even be persuaded toward pumpkin, but I'm really not in the mood. Or, maybe, like the vegetable, there will be a different dessert for each of us. That's happened before... (hee hee, I'll make mine, and buy theirs. They'll never know. Oh stop that with the horrified gasps.)

This whole discussion reminds me of a negotiation that took place recently in San Luis Obispo, Calif. A couple, who shall remain nameless, was discussing the upcoming holiday and their menu options. The lovely husband put in a request for fruit-less stuffing. Lovely wife, stunned yet confused, agreed.

What is it about guys and fruit? I've already referenced this dilemma in regards to salads... but apparently it crosses course-boundaries and now applies to stuffing as well. My advice, which the aforementioned wife already had well in hand, was to make the plain, boring stuffing, and separate the batch, jazzing up the concoction with her fruits and nuts, and thus, pleasing all. Or, like me, she could make hers and buy his! Ha. She's probably a much better wife than that (ie me)!

All this menu planning reminds me of a particular Thanksgiving celebrated at my brother and sister-in-law's, a gathering of friends with family too far-flung to make a turkey trek. Anyway, we all contributed various aspects to the meal and one dish from a friend-co-worker of my brother's was a quite-horrifying dressing/stuffing. It was a family recipe, we were told, of an all-meat "stuffing." I had never heard of anything like this. Growing up in a very bread-oriented household, it was quite unthinkable that the stuffing not consist mostly of bread (we don't really quibble over whether it's sourdough, cornbread or someother bready substance). A little internet sleuthing later, and apparently it's not that uncommon; I think the origins are originally French and trickled down to New England via the French Canadians. Just one more thing to thank them for: cretons! Luckily, neither of my men a) like meat THAT much and b) even know that the possibility of an all-meat stuffing exists. We'll keep it that way.

I'll keep you posted on dessert. And I'm open to ideas... anyone got anything for me?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday night grateful moment

Ah, finally, here we are at the end of the week. And I have finally given in and accepted that we ARE indeed at the week before Thanksgiving, and thus, at the tipping point into the holiday season. It seems to have come along extra-quickly this fall.

But at least we get the weekend to pause... and be thankful... for:
* Seth found one of his missing coats today. This is truly something to be grateful for. He's having a hard time keeping track of all his many accessories in his new-ish, bigger school, with no locker.
* A happy 3rd wedding anniversary to look forward to on Monday. Three wonderful years!
* Still having some lovely fall days, even though they end (in darkness) too soon.
* The prospect of Christmas on Mayne Island has us all quite happy. Ferry boat!
* Thanksgiving leftovers--not too early to start looking forward to those!
* I am thankful for good health, and some really decent nights of sleep this week (after the way-too-early wake up Wednesday a.m.!). But I haven't gotten run down or a cold yet this season (knock on wood, throw back a little echinacea), and it's been going around something fierce.
* A capella music. My newest little obsession, after falling in love with some songs off a mix from a friend. It is amazing what voices can do. Now, if only mine would... ha! Maybe not having that makes me appreciate it more in others? Yeah, that's it. Sure.
* Work ended on a good note. Slightly hopeful going into the coming week. (Knock on wood again.)
* Friendship, in all its many forms, and all the ebbs and flows over the years; it's wonderful to have people to count on, and to be that person others can count on too. New friends and old, and newly-connected-old-friends, I do treasure.
* My grateful list would not be complete this week without cheese. Had the most amazing lunch at a new-ish local place today, Brasserie 4, and had a wonderful curry cocount chicken soup and eggplant, zucchini and blue cheese pizza. Grateful for all good flavors!

Here are a couple of fun ads for your viewing pleasure. Sony has come up with quite a few in this vein; these two are my favorites. Wishing all a peaceful and joyous weekend!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tag, you're it!

This is the second alphabet tag-thingy I've done today. Must be all the rage with the kids these days. Anyway, it is supposed to help you know me better. But my bet is that if you're reading this, you knew all of this already... tell me if I'm wrong.

A-Attached or Single: Attached
B-Best Friend: My husband
C-Cake or Pie: Pie, probably fruity with a crumble topping and ice cream.
D-Day of Choice: Saturday
E-Essential Item: moisturizer
F-Favorite Color: green, always green
G-Greatest Accomplishment: my son, Seth
H-Hometown: Walla Walla, WA. I've been here so long, it's home.
I-Indulgences: music, clothes, food
J-January or July: July
K-Kids: Sweet 12 year old, Seth
L-Life is incomplete without: Food
M-Marriage: Yes, if that's what you want.
N-Number of Siblings: one brother in Seattle.
O-Oranges or Apples: Apples. Braeburn, Fuji or Honeycrisp
P-Phobias or fears: Everything moving by too quickly.
Q-Quotes: "Is it true that radical ideas threaten institutions and then in turn become institutions who reject radical ideas?" I'm sure it's not his, but my dad used to say that a lot when I was growing up. I like a lot of quotes, that one just came to mind quickly.
R-Reason to Smile: Thanksgiving is coming.
S-Season: Fall.
T-Tag Friends: I'm tagging everyone. I want to hear from you!
U-Unknown facts about me: I have a hard time thinking of things I haven't shared. It's making me feel like I should be more private... ha ha, that actually made me laugh. Well, chuckle anyway.
V-Very favorite store(s):, Nordstrom, iTunes store. Remember, I live in a retail desert. I have to make the most of online opportunities...
W-Worst habit: Currently, not exercising enough and eating too much cheese. I'd feel bad about it if it weren't so dang yummy.
X-X-ray or Ultra Sound: Whatever the situation calls for.
Y-Your favorite food: Too many to name. But probably more often than not it's cheese.
Z-Zodiac: Scorpio

So fill me in on you... please. Which rhymes with cheese. Have I mentioned cheese lately? I had that eggy quesadilla thing again tonight. It was even better than last night. And I took pictures, though I must say it tastes better than it looks in the picture... So post will follow.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Top Chef, Season 5, Episode 2

OK, here we are at Episode 2 and I'm already talking at the TV and fast-forwarding through the commercials at warp speed. Sometimes I'm venting in frustration, sometimes in incredulity, and of course, at times out of sheer jealousy.

The jealousy: They got to cook in the kitchen at craft? How amazing would that be? And to be expedited by Colicchio? Wow. Nerves of steel, that's what you'd need. This whole season is going to kill me, what with the NYC setting...

Needed nerves of steel aside, the frustration tonight came out of the fact that the contestants were given essentially free reign on a three-course New American cuisine menu and they, for the most part, choked. So what are they doing with their spare time between being chosen for Top Chef and appearing on the show? They should be flippin' memorizing and practicing to PERFECTION at least (bare minimum) a half dozen recipes for every course (with variations, planning for those special twists of "use only organ meats" or "only cook with a ingredients from Bulgaria," which could happen).

For once, I was glad to see people actually step up and offer to make the dessert course. In past seasons it's been frustrating to see dessert getting the shaft from chefs like it's not really cooking. On which planet exactly do you need to have specific pastry instruction to "get" the basics of dessert? Argh. There were some decent attempts tonight, but one of them was NOT the Lemon Meringue Martini with a "Cherry Surprise?" Sounds like something out of a college cafeteria. Well, not any college I went to, but any dish with a "surprise" in it's title is NOT Top Chef material. I was very pleased that Carla's apple tart made it into the top 3. Very nice!

The mild incredulity tonight was the lack of foundation garments during the elimination challenge on Padma. I think she's stunning; her goddess-ness is not lost on me. And I don't believe she's given birth, so nature has been kind to the "girls." But I don't know what kind of stylist would send her on television in a satin halter and NOT instruct on a little help for said girls... 'nuff said. She's still stunning. Even when she's spitting the aforementioned lemon dessert into her napkin. Yep, that bad.

Not too sad to see the Geena Davis look-alike booted; it's so early that there really aren't too many hard and fast loyalties. And she was quite inarticulate about why on earth she would choose something as unique as an ostrich egg for an ingredient, then proceed to hide it in a quiche... seriously? I was just dying for her to somehow use those gorgeous egg shells for something. They were huge and beautiful. Anyway... I am intriuged to see where it goes with the two European candidates. Both seem to have potential for both great cooking and some drama, but if you've watched as pathetically ritualistically as I have, you know that you're really only one truly bad dish away from the good old "pack your knives and go" line from the goddess herself. (However, as was pointed out in Episode 1: except for one season, the winner of the first elimination challenge has gone on to win the whole thing. So all eyes on Stefan.)

OK, I promise I won't inflict this on you every week. But tonight it was just good action. Chop chop.

Whole other topic: Today was my big Christmas and Thanksgiving photo shoot and I think I left my camera at the home where we were shooting... so I will post on that later. Also, I have been obsessing about another cheese craving and tonight I made a riff on a fried egg sandwich and a quesadilla--I have no idea what you'd call it... other than heaven! It was so very, very good... When I have my camera back, I will make it again (and again, and again) and take pictures and post. Major Yum.

Happy Birthday, Pa!

Happy birthday to our favorite golf-club-swinging, rock-wall-building, stock-market-wheeling-dealing, watercoloring Pa and Grandpa!

We wish you the very best of birthdays, and many more! Your present is here... when are you coming to get it?

We love you very much--from all your kids in Walla Walla!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What cell phone, Officer?

As I drove along talking on my cell phone today, I reflected on how short-lived my little Bluetooth moment was back there in July... most times I just couldn't be bothered with the fiddling around. I've also come closer to causing an accident while fumbling to answer the phone through my visor receiver than I ever have while just straight-out talking on the phone. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

So when I happened up on this video posted at a funny blog Jen turned me on to, I couldn't help but race to beat her in posting it! I have a feeling she's a much more law-abiding citizen than I am.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A tasty morsel

Someone is feeling left out. He wants to be posted on/about/in regards to. In fact, he's thinking of starting his own blog. Could he be his mother's son? The hat above is in preparation for a clown workshop at school tomorrow. This is what passes for advanced educational opportunities, apparently. And as you can see, we're not exactly brimming with clown apparel here in the house, so we're being creative and "making do." Kinda sounds like me in the kitchen some days, eh?

The MOM sign was his very first woodworking project in shop this year. I am very happy to have it!

Relish the thought

In preparation for the Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner photo shoot on Wednesday, I needed to come up with a couple of different relish/sauce/accompaniments for the turkey. One I knew would be a pretty traditional cranberry sauce, the other took a little more thought, and some creative license!

Cranberry sauce the way Sher likes it:
2 bags of fresh cranberries, picked over and washed
zest of one orange
juice of one orange
1 cup sweetener--you can use sugar, light corn syrup, honey or maple syrup
4 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 T vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan on the stove and heat slowly over medium-low heat, to avoid popping all the cranberries. Stir occasionally. When simmering and about 3/4 of the cranberries are open and bubbly, turn off and cool. Taste and adjust sweetener as needed.

The photo above is pretty monochromatic--I'm still working on ye olde food photography, and feel extremely limited with my kitchen lighting, especially with zero sunshine when I'm cooking most days. Anyway, all that is to say that when we're shooting the sauce on Wednesday, I think I'll zest some more orange and maybe even thinly strip off some rind to give some more texture and color to it.

For sauce No. 2, I went rummaging online and found a recipe for a pineapple relish that sounded good, and one for an apricot relish, and so I combined them, threw in a little grapefruit juice for an acid and some habaneros for heat and pomegranates for texture and color and, voila!, a pretty zesty little combo.

Pineapple-apricot-pomegranate relish
2 cups chopped fresh pineapple
1 cup chopped dried apricots
2 T grapefruit juice (you could easily use lime or orange instead)
1/2 cup sugar

Simmer over medium heat until apricots are softened and mixture is bubbly. Take off the heat and add:
1/2 cup fiinely diced shallots
2 habaneros, sliced cross-wise
1 cup pomegranate seeds

Stir until blended. Serve warm or cold.

When I was tasting I avoided actually chomping on a habanero since I'm kinda wimpy in the heat department, but the overall flavor of the sauce had been warmed through by the peppers and it had a nice fire to it--nothing radical, just tasty and glow-y! This relish would also work well with "other" white meats... not just Mr. Turkey. You could even pretend it's a salsa and serve with chips, or, dare I say it, a cheesey quesadilla!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Butternut still undefeated in squash-off

I'm getting ready for a major Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner photo shoot at work this week--we'll set up both meals and shoot them in one day, getting double duty from Mr. Turkey. It's fun to get a dry run through the meal, trying out some pretty "extras" that I'll probably actually skip when it comes to our own Thanksgiving dinner. We're so low-key about it, and usually fix our favorites rather than get all jiggy with it.

Anyway, squash is on the menu for one of the photo shoot set-ups, and I found some fun, different colored acorn squash at Andy's and thought I'd cook them up and see how it might work. No run-of-the-mill green acorns here. The orange one is called Golden Acorn and the yellow one is actually called White Swan Acorn. Sounds more elegant than it is...

They look good, cook up easily enough, but are pretty ho-hum in taste; I did the usual S&P, EVOO on them and roasted at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Both boys said, well, yeah, what did you expect? when I pronounced them only so-so. Neither of them exactly rush for the squash, even all fancied up or sweetened (which I just can't do). These are fine, and provide a fun color contrast to the green rind of the acorn, but I still proclaim butternut to be Queen of the Squashes!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Chance favors the prepared mind

We had the opportunity to attend a local hospital gala tonight. Usually these can be rather boring and/or stuffy affairs, depending on who we are sitting with, and what the entertainment is. And this time of year they seem to come one on top of another with various corporate sponsorship responsibilities for the husband.

Tonight I think we both would have been quite content to just hang out at home and chill. But we dutifully got on our nice duds (though I went for more comfy than chic, I hate to say. I still looked good, but I was not getting all gussied up in the cold for this event!) and went out.

To start things off, we had a lovely table of folks to sit with, plenty of pleasant conversation. The meal was fine, quite typical of the Marcus Whitman, but entirely edible. Yummy lemon tart for dessert.

The best part of the evening was the keynote speaker. When I heard he was a photographer I thought, what on earth is he going to talk about that will be relevant to this crowd? Hmmm, think, Sher, think! It's not that great a leap.

Steve Uzzell has had a 35-year career for National Geographic and various corporate accounts, and has won various Communication Arts awards. His work is very lovely.

But going along with the many beautiful photos he showcased, he had an inspiring commentary on problem solving in life and work, and how utilizing his approach to setting up a shot could work for any situation that needs problem solving. His talk was called "Open Roads, Open Minds," and when I went and looked at the list of companies he's presented to, it was pretty impressive.

He walked us through various ad campaigns he had been a part of, and how he had approached the shoot, from scouting locations through to the persistence in getting that one perfect shot. Being able to show a number of shots around "the one," it was amazing to see the difference mere seconds can make.

Over and over again he has seen that "Chance favors the prepared mind," a quote by Louis Pasteur. If he scouts things out, looks at them from various perspectives, maybe comes back every day for a week at different times to see the sun's angles, then he'll get that one-on-a-million shot.

He told of instances where he's driven all the roads around Long Island Sound, looking across at NYC, to get just the right angle of the city. Or he's calculated the sunset times to know where and when he'd need to be to get that one exceptional shot of a bridge with the sun behind it. And he talked about the time he flew for two hours in a helicopter to get the best shot of a bridge, and just happened to get a tractor trailer crossing the bridge, going the right direction, and it was a great color for the shot. Or this shot, where he waited for more than an hour for the only 5 seconds of sun that day.

He talked also about imagining the solution to the problem, and working your way backward to where you currently are. For me, it was a great reminder of that old saying: begin with the end in mind. (Or, as he also said, if you don't know where you're going, any road will do.) And, he talked about golf as being the perfect example of problem solving, looking out to where you want to be, and plotting how to get there. I thought of my dad many times throughout the talk and how much he would have enjoyed meeting this guy, but of course when Steve mentioned golf I knew that they would have become fast friends on the spot!

So, home now and to sleep. Maybe tomorrow chance will favor the well-rested mind?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday night grateful moment

Here we are, another week down the road. Darkness comes too early (I saw the moon rise on my way home from work yesterday, wrong on so many levels), but holidays are their way; it's such a distinctive time of year. I'm a wee bit annoyed that Christmas music is already blaring in the stores; under my watch that wouldn't start until after Thanksgiving. But this list isn't about the greivances, but the joys. Must remember that. Even in the darkness...

* I'm grateful that Seth is home, and with him the cheer and joy that fills the house.
* I'm grateful that fall has come in manageable stages; after some rain and wind we have had a couple of lovely sunny days. And that even though the wind was annoying and I slept in the basement to get away from it, all the leaves are now blown far away!
* I'm grateful for the world of words, which never fails to entertain, inform and delight me. I am thankful for books and blogs and letters and poems and music lyrics--written communication holds such power.
* I'm thankful also for spoken words. When the phone rings early in the morning and it's Seth with loving words, it makes the rest of my day that much brighter. When a friend tells me her troubles and I can (hopefully) reassure and encourage (as well as listen!), I'm grateful to be able to put words to it. And thankful too for a husband who communicates readily and well; I do not take that for granted.
* I'm so thankful for my room. My little office space, tucked away and quiet, where I can think and write and read and listen to music. Where my girly things can be on display! I know I am above-and-beyond blessed to have this space. Now, if I could only keep it neat and tidy...
* I am so grateful for my family, near and far. I so appreciate having a family that stays in touch. It warms my heart.
* I'm also thankful for my friends, also near and far. And that the BFF will pick up the phone to my rantings and ravings, still, after all these years of rantings and ravings!
* I'm grateful for time (which sometimes seems to be racing past) and for energy (with a little help from my friend caffeine) to get things accomplished. And for the perspective of working again, to better appreciate "down" time and the weekends.

And a little visual to take you into the weekend. I thought this was lovely and unexpected.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #2: Thyroid resources

I sat down to write a list of things I know or have learned about the thyroid in the past five years and realized 1) the list would be very incomplete; and 2) I would be citing sources, not having embarked on any thyroid research myself.

So I am going to send you straight to the sources. Some are sites that have lots of information, others are articles that have been helpful to me.

You’ll notice a wide range of conventional and alternative therapies. I like to read on all sides of the issues and evaluate based on what has worked for me. I'd advise you to do the same. I'm not a doctor and I don't even play one on TV.

These sites are not in any order of importance. Surf at will!

1. Mary Shoman. Probably considered the top patient advocate for thyroid issues. She has written many books, but a lot of information is also available online.
2. Medline Plus. Very comprehensive on all aspects of thyroid disease.
3. Alt.Support.Thyroid newsgroup. Lots of discussion here.
4. Healthy New Age. An at-home check for thyroid issues and some good information on natural supplements.
5. Article: Thyroid Treatment: Conventional or Alternative?
6. Always been a Dr. Weil fan, and he’s got some good info on nutrition and thyroid.
7. American Thyroid Association. Very mainstream, probably the Godfather of thyroid info.
8. A recommended neck check for thyroid growth. I wonder if I would have caught my little nodes if I'd been doing this check?
9. Article by Dr. Michael Schachter, M.D., F.A.C.A.M.: The Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypothyroidism. Quite indepth and comprehensive. Very worth the read, if you're trying to educate yourself from the ground up.
10. Stop the Thyroid Madness blog. Completely anti-establishment! I enjoy her writing and take on things. Lots of good points to consider if your treatment isn't currently working.
11. Thyroid.about. Another place where Mary Shoman is featured. Helpful.
12. Medicinenet. Is your head full of information yet? More here!
13. iyogalife. Rock the shoulderstand! Who knew yoga could stimulate the thyroid. Nothing surprises me about the thyroid at this point.

Check out other Thursday Thirteens and how the whole thing works.

What’s the official 5-year anniversary gift for a thyroidectomy? Turtlenecks!

It dawned on me sometime in the past week that an anniversary has crept up. Five years ago tomorrow I will have had my thyroid removed. It was a time of great uncertainty in my life (sounds dramatic, but it’s true) and remembering some of the moments along the way, I have so much to be thankful for.

My parents stepped up in a big way, no suprises there. They came for my biopsy in October and returned for the surgery in November, keeping an eye on Seth while I was in the hospital and just generally being supportive and loving. My dad showed his care in the way he knows best, by building me a beautiful pergola at my little house on Francis Street over the weekend that I was recovering, a truly lovely gesture.

Seth took it all in stride, like everything else he responded to that year, with his usual equanimity. He was happy to have Grandma and Grandpa there, didn’t really like seeing me in a hospital bed, but he was his affectionate self and it was quite comforting for me to have him around.

An old friend from college came and prayed with me the morning of my surgery. Walt Meske, who had been the dean of students while I was at WWU, and who I had gotten to know quite well when I was editor of the school paper there, was the chaplain at the hospital where I had the surgery. He was very surprised to see me that morning, and asked if he could say a prayer with me before surgery. Prayer wasn’t a part of my daily life at that time, but it moved me very much, and his calm familiar voice brought me to tears. I do know that I was in many people’s prayers that day, for which I am grateful.

My surgeon was a personable fatherly man. He worked with me on scheduling the surgery on really the only available day that fit my schedule (I was catering at the time and about to go into a very heavy holiday season). His reassuring yet straightforward manner suited me, from our first conversation when he inquired why I wanted to take the thyroid out (conventional thought from the local endocrinologist was to watch and wait) all the way to our post-operative conversation when he told me he had never seen a thyroid so encrusted with “nodes” as mine. The whole lumpy mass of it was benign, but there was no way of knowing what it could have turned in to down the road. I was so glad to have it gone!

I have learned so much about the thyroid (and what not having one means) since my surgery, and it’s been a sometimes frustrating journey to get the medication exactly right so that I have enough energy (but not too much) and feel on top of my game, so to speak. My acupuncturist has been especially helpful the past couple of years, with some alternative ideas and resources. Check out my Thursday Thirteen tomorrow; it’s encrusted with information!

A very big thank you to all who were with me during that time; the love and support meant more than you can know.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Not exactly the best pet for a kitchen...

When I had my fall playdate in Portland with Jen, we happened upon a Halloween shop, full of cobwebs and candy and fun little Halloween pranks. I saw little Rat and fell in love... with the idea of scaring Seth with him! Seth and I have a longish history of scaring each other with jumping out of closets and from behind doors. We go it spurts of scaring until one of us gets "got" too good and is a little freaked out and we have to call truce for awhile. It's a little sick. (And he actually gets air when he scare-jumps, so it's kind of worth it to see! Bad mom.)

Anyway, I brought Rat home and patiently waited for the right opportunity. One quiet Sunday afternoon I stuck Rat under a bit of dirty laundry on Seth's floor and then sent him up to clean his room. I waited quietly in the kitchen, listening up the stairs for the scream. Sure enough... A couple of minutes later: "Mom! Mom! Who stuck this stuffed rat in my bedroom?"

Well, not exactly the reaction I was waiting for. A bit anticlimactic.

So then Corinne came to visit for my birthday... out came Rat again. Her reaction was a bit better than Seth's, but still no screams, just a bit of a recoil and then a quick recover.

Rat still hangs out in my kitchen, just hoping for a good reaction... maybe when my mom comes to visit at Christmas? He's hoping...

Rationalizing the cheese crave

Some nights it's all about figuring out what the cheese vehicle will be. Is it a grilled cheese panini? Cheesey pasta? Cheese with a few salad greens holding it up off the plate? You think I'm joking, but it's true. Maybe it's a fall thing. But I've had soup the past few nights and I needed a break. A cheesey break.

I had some leftover ingredients to fiddle around with too... some grapefruit and pomegranates from the salad on Sunday night. What to do?

Ten minutes later I was all settled in with my improvised grapefruit-pomegranate-avocado salsa and quesadilla, catching up on Entourage. (There are very few characters I enjoy as much as Ari Gold, the amazingly crass agent on that show. He is so endearing in his absolute laserlike focus on whatever goal he's currently fixated on. Just brutal.) It was my last solo supper for awhile, and I savored it!

The relish/salsa (I haven't quite figured out what exactly it was) had great flavor. Again with the salty-sweet combo, oh yeah. It would also have been lovely with greens and some chevre crumbled over it too... It was essentially equal parts avocado, pomegranate seeds and chopped grapefruit segments, with a little lime juice and salt.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Super solo supper

There are those who find the title of a book I'm currently reading--Alone in the Kitchen with An Eggplant--a tad odd. I can understand that. When I'm alone in the kitchen, an eggplant would be one of the last things I'd reach for. Nothing against the beautiful aubergine, it's just not one of my "craveables."

The book is a collection of essays specifically about those meals you eat when you are by yourself, especially if that is not how you cook and eat on a daily basis. The writers confess to their own indulgences, from one-pot spaghetti to a kippers mash (no thanks!) to salmon and lentils quite elegantly prepared. There are also a few tales of solo restaurant adventures, that somehow "all eyes are on you" endeavor that unnerves many. Together they make up a quite readable and occasionally inspirational book that fits handily into one of my favorite genres of essay + recipes, a la Cooking for Mr. Latte and The Soul of a Chef.

When I have one of those rare evenings to myself, it's a fab opportunity to have exactly what I want to eat. Not that my men's tastes and mine differ so dramatically, but there are a few things I favor that neither of them find extremely palatable. My solo suppers over the years have varied according to mood and season and what's in the pantry/fridge, of course. I went through a major phase of pasta carbonara a few years back when I ate alone more frequently. In those days I threw cream on just about everything; that's a whole other, more wild-thyroid-related post. I do still treasure the basil-tomato-pasta combo, but tonight, with fall so well and truly entrenched, soup once again hit the menu.

Along the way I was able to not only indulge my whims, but also to illustrate four of the 13 favorite foods at the same time... how handy!

I made a curried butternut squash soup late last week, with a coconut milk base. Between that and the fruity salad of grapefruit, pomegranate, arugula, blue cheese and hazelnuts, the boys would have hit the speed-dial for pizza delivery! What is it about the male tastebuds and fruit in salads? (How's that for a wild generalization?!) I'm sure there are men who do appreciate berries and apples and pears in a salad, I just haven't ever met one.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash, roasted
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 tsp. curry powder
2 cups of vegetable stock
1 can lite coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Halve the squash, scoop out the seeds, cut into quarters and place on a baking sheet. Roast in a 350-degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the flesh pierces easily. Remove from oven and cool.

Saute diced onion in 1 Tbsp. olive oil in 2 quart saucepan. When translucent, add the curry powder and stir, toasting the curry, until it is fragrant. Scoop out the butternut squash in spoonfuls and add to the onions, pour the vegetable stock over and bring to a simmer until squash is so soft it falls apart, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Put the squash mixture and coconut milk in a blender and puree in batches, blend until smooth. Add more broth or coconut milk to taste, to achieve the desired consistency. Pour back into saucepan and warm through on the stove. Add salt and pepper to taste. If a stronger curry flavor is desired, add a half to 1 additional teaspoon curry powder.

Serves 4.

Sher's Favorite Fruity Salad (one of many!)
Grapefruit sections (click for help on sectioning)
Pomegranate seeds (click for tips on cracking a pomegranate)
Chopped roasted hazelnuts
Blue cheese
Brianna's blush wine vinaigrette
This is pretty willy-nilly, and completely according to mood. Arrange the arugula in a salad bowl, layer the grapefruit sections, pomegranate seeds, hazelnuts and blue cheese on top; drizzle with dressing and you're good to go! You can portion this individually or to feed as many as you'd like. If you have leftovers, call me. I will happily polish it off!

As you can see from the picture, entertaining oneself while dining alone is critical. I'm afraid I'm not one for sitting at the dining room table, fully set with candles lit. I've seen that in movies and thought, who on earth really does that? Maybe it's a sign of civility... which I am obviously lacking. While I'm not a big one for eating standing up in the kitchen, I am all over the book/magazine/dvd/tv as meal companion. Tonight, Mad Men (Season 1, now available on dvd) kept me company as I also put together a couple of soups (more soup, it's almost like the Soup Nazi moved in) for a board meeting tomorrow night.

To come: Cream of Cauliflower Soup and Vegetarian Tortilla Soup.

Time to clean out the fridge!

I could comment on people with too much time on their hands, making up silly things to post on the internet... but I wouldn't do that. I need to go and clean the fridge; I think there's some very old Worcestershire sauce hanging out on the bottom shelf...

I might take issue with a few of their datings, though. Whipped cream after two weeks? No thanks.

Click for full readable version.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday night grateful moment

Ah, the end of another week. This one felt quite long, for some reason... I think the time change really did a number on me this year. More than usual.

But still, much to be thankful for:

1. Can't help but notice the election is over. I'll spare my partisan friends (both sides of the aisle) any editorializing on it, other than to say, let's get going. Chop chop. Much to do.
2. Family and friends, mostly safe and sane.
3. My guys. Couldn't be more grateful for both.
4. The inspiration of color and texture. I have been energized by a friend's craft store website and blog this week; it has spawned some serious online crafty looking around.
5. Fall food. So homey and comforting. I want to curl up in a bowl of mac and cheese, please. Homemade, with 4 cheeses, at least. And I've had pumpkin soup AND butternut squash soup (will post soon) this week; what's more fall than that?
6. It's all starting to point toward that wonderful season... when can I put the tree up? Is it too soon to start making Christmas cookies?
7. Music. A couple of friends share music so graciously--lists, mixes, etc. I am inspired (again!) to stretch myself beyond my favorites.
8. And while it's much less important than any of the above, it still matters to me: Top Chef is back next week and I'm all atwitter. In NYC no less. Joy abounds.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Did he write it just for me?

This week Amazon picked their top 10 books for 2008.

This makes me a little sad for those authors with books still releasing between now and the actual end of 2008. Is it just common knowledge that books published in the last two months of the year aren't any good? I get that there needs to be a cut-off date (like for the Oscars, of course!), but... just sayin', if I had a book coming out right now, I'd be a little peeved... I might get over it if books published Nov/Dec 2008 get included in 2009's picks. Might. See, rich fanasy life. No book, no publisher, yet peeved I haven't been picked.

So of course, there's a separate category for the top 10 cookbooks, oh yeah! And number one, yep, it's got figs written all over it! It looks like a good one--anyone who has cooked with Alice Waters is worth a read. In my humble opinion, of course.

And check out No. 7 on the list as well (I think someone's ripping me off!).

I know that Sweet Tea and Sunshine sounds incredibly southern, and have been told so repeatedly. However, for me, it's a twist on "Sweet Pea." Who wants to read a blog--or visit a cafe--that was why I originally thought up the name--called Sweet Pea and Sunshine? No thanks--I'll leave the visual images to your fertile imaginations. And, it's also a tip of the hat to Canadian iced tea, which is always served sweet, like the south. I do forget that sometimes when I order it north of the border and that first sip is like, WHAT? And then I remember and relax and don't have to add sweetener!

Both these cookbooks will have to go on my Amazon wishlist. I'll even write reviews if (when) I get them for Christmas!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election day/late birthday soup lunch

My good friend Megan had me over for lunch today... a much delayed get-together that one or the other of us had been postponing (sick, overbooked, sick, guests in town, sick) for a few weeks... and it was the perfect day for soup. We had big big rain in the morning with lots of wind and gustiness (and snow on the mountains, too soon!) and it all cleared out this afternoon for a sunny-ish sunset.

But the highlight of my day was having lunch with Megan and Grace, her almost-4 year old. When I thanked Grace upon leaving for sharing her mom with me, she looked at me and most earnestly said, "I don't want to share my mom with you," like I had just uttered absolute nonsense. Very sweet.

It was too early to really pay too much attention to what was going on with the election, so we had a chance to catch up on kids and work and husbands and such. A real treat. And far too rare these days.

And the soup, oh the soup. She's made this before, for our now fairly-defunct book group. I loved it then, and I loved it today. A perfect fall soup. I begged the recipe, and warned her it was getting world-wide-web posting.

Gingered Pumpkin-Pear Soup

½ cup chopped sweet onion
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 T. butter
3 pears, peeled, cored and sliced
1 15-oz. can pumpkin
1 ½ cups vegetable broth
1 cup milk
¼ cup light sour cream
½ tsp. finely shredded lime peel
1 T. lime juice
Lime peel, optional

In a large saucepan cook onion and ginger in butter until onion is tender. Stir in pears; cook one minute more. Stir in pumpkin and vegetable broth; heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, about five minutes more or until pears are tender. Cool slightly. In a blender or food processor, cover and blend or process half of the pumpkin mixture at a time until smooth, about one minute. Return mixture to saucepan; stir in milk. Heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, stir together sour cream, ½ tsp. lime peel and lime juice. Top each serving of soup with a drizzle of the sour cream mixture. Garnish with lime peel. Makes 6 side-dish servings.

Enjoy! And at the very least, let the country unite over soup.

I couldn't have said it better myself

I just wish I had discovered this a few days ago...

I hope all of my three readers that are eligible voters have done so! Polls close in a couple of hours here in PST-land.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election eve limericks!

Not cooking tonight, no siree. Seth came home starved after basketball practice and got a quick supper of scrambled eggs and hashed browns, which he gobbled up. I fiddled around with a pomegranate and some yogurt and I now hear the sounds of husband foraging down in the kitchen... wow, things have fallen, and so quickly.

The dark of no daylight savings has fallen and I finally admit that autumn ain't all I've been cracking it up to be (I can hear you, oh mocking Jen). It will take me a moment or two to adjust. Meanwhile we'll nurse the lentil soup I made yesterday and soothe our souls with hot chocolate (and many many marshmallows).

But meanwhile, oh did I happen upon a time-suck tonight online!

Called OEDILF (The Omnicient English Dictionary in Limerick Form), this is one fun little place for wordy folks. Their stated goal is: "to write at least one limerick for each meaning of each and every word in the English language. Our best limericks will clearly define their words in a humorous or interesting way, although some may provide more entertainment than definition, or vice versa."

And how.

And in the food realm alone there are some real gems:

choux pastry by Dottie (Anne Clements)

Heat water with fat (butter's best),
Mix in flour, then egg; beat with zest.
Make small blobs (use a spoon),
Bake on 'hot'. Very soon
You'll have choux pastry fit for your guest.

Some words have only one entry, but for something as common as a banana, there are quite a few, 13 in fact.

And they even poke fun at themselves:

amusingly by David Schildkret

These limericks are carefully drafted;
No rhyme has been cobbled or grafted.
Each poem defines
A new word in five lines.
They're amusingly, lovingly crafted.

They are only working on the first four letters of the alphabet so far, and they already have 48,000 limericks! So no "e" for election, but there are still quite a few with a political bent, naturally. So if you want to take a break from the pundits and spinmeisters tomorrow, have a little limerick break!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

For goodness sake!

How else would you finish that headline than with "I love my hippie hippie shake?" Time for a little (blue)berry love.

This shake/smoothie is so great, it's like breakfast nirvana. If I've missed it in the morning for some nutty thing like an early appointment, I've made it for lunch, or dinner. I have even fallen asleep at night thinking, "Oh goodie, in the morning I'll get my yummy shake." That's addiction, folks. Also, a tad pathetic.
Here's how it happens, daily. In our house we make it to serve two. It gets whizzed up in a Vita Mixer; if you have a regular blender, you'll definitely want to halve it (as I've listed the portions below), unless the smell of a small appliance motor overheating adds an extra-special dash of joy to your morning...

Start with the apple (1, cored, not peeled) and half a banana (peeled, duh!).

Add OJ (1.5 cups) and start the whizzing.

Have your flax seed ground and ready to go (2 T.). You can buy it ground, or do that deed yourself. The benefits of the omega-3s are best with the seeds ground; whole flaxseeds are not absorbed with the same efficacy. Just saying.

I add the wheat germ (2 T) and oat bran (1/3 cup) and the aforementioned flax seed one at a time to the blender while it's going. Depending on your blender strength, you may want to stop, add, then put the lid on and keep going--it's a lot to add at once. I have had a couple of oopsie moments with the blender sending smoothie all the way to the ceiling! Lids are good.

Next, add the frozen blueberries (1.5 cups) (or mixed berries--we've alternated depending on the Costco price, and right now the mixed are somehow back to being more expensive) and the soy milk (1/2-1 cup, depending on your desired consistency) and turn the blender on high. It might take a bit of poking around (carefully) to get the berries pulled down into the rest of the mixture, but once you get it started it should blend well.

My basic approximations put this gem at a little over 600 calories, which, granted, is a hefty breakfast. But, it also has about 24.5 grams of fiber, which meets females-my-size daily nutritional fiber needs. So the rest of the day I can eat cheese and Twinkies... or not.

Total credit for this recipe goes to the husband, who tweaked and fiddled with the ingredients for about a year before he talked me into trying it. Instant convert! If I haven't persuaded you here, just come visit. I have been known to "batch" this to feed more than two; shakes for everyone!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Confirmation of TT #1 and #13

One day I will be bright enough to actually think of fun graphics to go WITH the post at the time of the post. Give me a couple of weeks!

So, day late, dollar short, but here are a couple of images to complement the Thursday Thirteen. While the figs on my spoon rest are not fresh, they are a daily reminder of that obsession. It sits happily on my stove and was a sweet gift from my aunt Roberta a couple of years ago for my birthday. I don't even think she knew how deep my love of figs goes. So, verification of fig love. Pure fig love.

Following up on the salty and sweet, I caught up on dvr'd shows tonight with my buddies: Junior Mints and popcorn. Yum-o. I was overjoyed to see one last little Junior Mint box in the cupboard! Time to restock.

Just pondering these two items from the list has inspired me to cook my way through the favorite food/ingredient list over the next couple of weeks. So look for peanut sauce and pesto and all the rest of the ingredients. (Except maybe fresh figs, as alas I fear the season is over. Sob. Sniff.) And I will look forward to eating each treat! Yeah for figgy ideas.
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