Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
In looking online for the Taylor video, I discovered there is a "rebuttal" movement--quite a few videos of guys in Starbucks aprons singing a response. It's pretty funny too. Of the guys who have attempted this on YouTube, this one was the best (imho) in terms of video quality.
Friday, April 24, 2009
This week I'm grateful for:
* The sunshine: warmth.
* The sunshine: light from 6 in the morning until 8 in the evening--very nice!
* The sunshine: did I mention the warmth? The green grass, the flowers blooming, trees budding. Even with crisp air at night and in the early mornings, life is just so much better with a little blue sky.
* Allergies still at bay! Acupuncturist thinks we may be at the "cumulative effect" part of the treatment, for which I'm stoked. Can't say I haven't sneezed AT ALL this year, but it's a far cry from the dripping, sneezing, stuffed up situation of years ago. Yeah! May it continue...
* Good week with Seth. Mr. Almost-13 is feeling his way through the independent world and there are the inevitable bumps and lumps. He's dealing pretty well with it all, mostly, and has a sense of humor to boot. Whew for the first year of middle school being almost over with only one meltdown so far (I know, that sentence is just begging for a meltdown asap!).
* Decent sleep. Not rock-star quality, but pretty good... just need to get going at it a little earlier in the evenings...
* Better choices in the grocery store for fresh stuff... asparagus at every meal! Found some amazing artichokes today--biggest I've ever seen, I think... are you jealous yet, Pa? Bought my first tomato plants today, and I know a summer of fabulous produce awaits!
* Good friends. Always.
* Great family. Ditto.
Happy relaxing weekend, everyone!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I barely remembered to get a picture before sticking the leftovers in the fridge for a brown bag lunch tomorrow. It was quite yummy, though the noodles are a little crunchier than the other, fattier brands, and I couldn't really wait very long for them to soften in the dressing... But both husband and I really enjoyed the flavors, and I will throw chicken into the mix in the future for a little added protein.
Chinese Cabbage Salad
Makes 12 cups
1 package preshredded cabbage
2 packages of ramen noodles--no seasoning
2 cups of shredded carrots
1 cup green onions
1 cup radishes, chopped
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
6 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
4 tsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
Salt, to taste
Mix all the vegetables together in a bowl, break up the noodles into small bits, toss with the dressing and let sit for a little while so the flavors meld well... or, as long as you can before you can't help yourself and you must take a bite! Or two.
If anyone cares, I ran the calories for the whole batch and divided by the 12 cups I ended up with and it's approximately 140 calories a cup. Not too bad, considering...
Here are my top 13 cookbooks in no particular order (kind of...):
1. Think Like a Chef, Tom Colicchio. When I found this book seven or eight years ago, it completely changed the way I saw cooking and recipes and experimentation. I love his approach and finally felt like I had "permission" to play in the kitchen--not that I'd been holding back from playing before! Here's a great review of the book... OK, so maybe there's a reason this one is mentioned first. It is one of my all-time faves.
2. Whole Grain Baking, King Arthur Flour Co. I love baking and desserts, but also like knowing I can make them a big healthier if I want, as well.
3. Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. Classic. Great for those old standbys/family favorites.
4. The New Best Recipe, The Best Light Recipe and Baking Illustrated by the editors of Cook's Illustrated (I put these all together since they're very similar in bent/writing/style.) These guys know how to do it--they take the time to try out almost every conceiveable way to make something, and share how they arrived at the final recipe. Good reading to boot!
5. Brilliant, Food Tips and Cooking Tips. Technically not a cookbook per se, but a great reference. I turned to this book over and over again in my catering kitchen, and still do today. Conversions, substitutions, definitions, ratios... all there.
6. Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant. Such a wonderful romp around the world. Many cookbooks by the Moosewood group are worth looking at; this one's my favorite. I have made the Pear-Almond Tart and the Cheeze Blintz Casserole (oh yum) many many times. And there's a very reliable pastry recipe too...
7. Barefoot Contessa Parties, Ina Garten. I have her whole series of cookbooks, but this is the one I use the most often. I'm not a fan of watching her on TV--too self-conscious for me, but I haven't watched her in a couple of years... maybe she's improved? Regardless, I very much enjoy her menu ideas and recipes. Yum.
8. The Dean and DeLuca Cookbook. This choice is a little sentimental, since I associate it completely with NYC and all that I love about visiting that city. And the food featured in the cookbook is exactly the kind of stuff I like to eat... simple, hearty salads, soups, sandwiches; not fussy but with great ingredients.
9. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, Mark Bittman. I am a fan of Mark Bittman, very much. And thoroughly enjoyed his regular, meat-filled How to Cook Everything. But, since we are mostly meatless around here, this one gets more perusing and I love that he took the time to make an edition that skipped the meat. Kudos.
10. Happy in the Kitchen, Michel Richard. Who can't get behind a title like that? This is more of an inspirational, coffee-table book than a cook-from-it-daily kind of tome. But it's fresh and colorful and thoroughly enjoyable.
11. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. This one is a big favorite! My mom gave me her copy years ago, and it's old and tattered and the binding has broken and pages want to fall out. But I don't care and I turn to it probably more than any of the other cookbooks here for the things that are tried and true. Want a basic banana bread recipe? Got it. Custard, creme brulee? Absolutely. I will never part with this one!
12. Fields of Greens, Deborah Madison's cookbook from the much-celebrated vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco. Some really great ideas and combinations. Sometimes the recipes are a little more complicated than I'm in the mood for, flavor-wise, but I am usually able to adapt to meet my palate's needs! A really great resource.
13. Food and Wine, best of... Their yearly cookbook is a real go-to for me. Time and again, great recipes and food ideas.
I have plenty of other cookbooks that I enjoy, but these ones stand out.
Just noticed, but wasn't surprised, that there's not a Martha cookbook in the lot... true story, as a good friend of mine likes to say. Martha's just too complicated. "How many MORE steps can I put in this recipe," I imagine her saying to herself some days... "It makes me look very accomplished to have so many unnecessary steps."
Happy TT! Now I'm in the mood to go browse the cookbooks! And cook, and eat...
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Sunday, April 19, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
* My iPod touch, which, at the urging of young Seth, I finally use for more than just music. I downloaded a number of apps, but the ones I'm most excited about are the grattitude journal and the food calorie counter. Oh yeah. This train is turning around, choo-choo, baby.
* Sunshine. We saw a bit more of it this week, enough to tease me into thinking spring just might be here. More bulbs blooming! Grass tufts sprouting! Time to weed! (That last one I just threw in there to cheerlead myself toward actually wanting to weed...)
* The beauty of lists. Love them. Need them. While I didn't actually invent them (!), I do want to pass this gift on to my son, and he's receptive... sort of. We're working on it. But lists make the world go 'round. I do love them so. But you already knew that, didn't you?
* The power of laughter. Every time I have a real gut-bust, it reminds me I need to do that more often. Should I schedule my laughter? Maybe... a half-hour session, morning and evening!
* Granola. I love this stuff, and yet this little recipe eludes me. I experiment, and keep trying to make small batches so I don't have to eat something I don't like for weeks on end... this week's batch was good in that I learned a little more. Notice I haven't posted on it... it's not good enough to share (yet). But eating some of Corinne's amazing granola when I was in California inspired me to keep going.
* Motivators. I am amazed by drive, the desire to pursue and push and move and grow. I admire it too. Some days I want more of it, other days not so much. But mostly I am just intrigued by what specific thing drives me, you and everyone we know. Aside from Mr. Maslow's insights, there are a wide variety of motivating factors out there, and understanding what makes another person tick is just fascinating to me. (I might not always "get it," and it might even mightily annoy me at times, but when I stop to think about it, I'm always intrigued, regardless...)
* Hope. Had a good friend confide some hope in me this week. I was surprised to find myself hopeful as well, for her. Yeah for hope!
* Good dentists. I think I found one! How great is that? A really good crown experience Monday morning. Other than the fact that I get weirdly loopy with the numbing stuff, I was good to go.
* Just the best husband ever. Period.
* Twitter. Twitter got a ton of press this week when Ashton Kutcher woke up and realized he had more than 800,000 followers, and CNN had maybe 50,000 more. He decided to try and race CNN to a million followers... turned out a little wild and crazy, and then AK went on Oprah to discuss the whole thing. Regardless of what you think about Twitter (or Ashton, for that matter), it is a simply amazing tool for sharing information. Where it goes from here and how it drives information remains to be seen. But the studies that came out this week with the thought that Twitter will stunt our moral growth. Um. I suppose that might depend on who you follow... nothing new about that concept.
Anyway, and now you can turn your favorite tweets into Tshirts. That would have to be SOME special somethin'.
How beautiful is this room? Completely inspires me from an organizational standpoint, as well as a visual and colorful perspective as well. How fun. Check out this really cool website.
Happy weekend, everyone!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
So, in no particular order, getting back into the Thursday Thirteen groove, here are 13 items I have too many of in my kitchen:
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
So I shared the Washington Post Peep contest on Friday night, and then promptly remembered some other Peep information I thought you'd either find curious or be grossed out by. Take your pick.
Peep lip balm. As someone who used to think the Orange Crush Bonne Belle Lipsmacker was cool, I can't very well throw too many stones at this product. But in the review on Serious Eats, they talked about it actually tasting good... Now that's just going too far. But, $3.99 will put either the strawberry marshmallow or the grape in your pocket.
Deep fried Peeps. This one I really couldn't bring myself to share a picture of. Just can't. You can click over and take a peep (couldn't resist) if you like, but don't say I didn't warn you. Ooozy drippy marshmallow with a crust? Hmmm. I suppose I could describe it more alluringly, but why? I know the craze to deep fry just about anything has been rampant for a few years, but this one is just a little out there. I can only imagine how many burnt mouths would take place biting into a molten Peep! Yikes.Peep vidoes. Peeps have even inspired a wide variety of stop action videos on YouTube, with themes around everything from Project Peepway to Peep Floyd: The Wall, to Peep Jaws Shark Attack. I thought I'd spare you the drama (especially of the "how many Peeps can you flush down the toilet" video) and post a little dance of Peeps. Colorful, you know, the way I like it.
I'm pretty over the Peeps, as anything other than great fodder for a creative diorama or YouTube video. There are still a couple of packages hanging out in the kitchen for Seth, but he can rest assured that they will be there, waiting for him... after school, next weekend, whenever. There may be some candies (most?!) I will help myself to in his absence, but those little fluffoids are in no danger. Whatsoever.
When I was in catering mode, this baked eggs dish was one that I could pull out very easily for a crowd--a hotel pan of this goodness would feed between 25-30 people. The pharma reps would send me in to a number of different local medical establishments, and when they'd see me pull up with the eggs, the nurses would come running. I never really had the heart to tell them what is in it... this is one of those special occasion dishes! Your jeans will thank me if you don't make this every weekend.
Baked eggs to die for
1 16 oz. container cottage cheese
2 cups grated cheddar cheese, mild
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
Now mix them all together. Pour into a 9-inch glass pie pan, or equivalent baking dish. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, until puffed and golden, and try not to eat it all in one sitting. This will be difficult.
Rhubarb buckle coffeecake
Adapted from Whole Grain Baking by King Arthur Flour Co.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and non-stick spray a 9-inch baking dish
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup oats
1 tsp cinnamon
3 T unsalted butter, softened
Mix together all ingredients except butter. Cut butter in and mix to make medium-size crumbs.
2.5 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 T. unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
5 cups rhubarb, tossed with 3/4 cup sugar (This is the main deviation, as the original recipe called for 2 cups of fruit. That seemed to paltry to me, and I wanted to proportion of fruit to batter to be MORE in the fruit department.)
Cream together butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy, then add the eggs, one at a time, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl between additions. Stir in half the dry ingredients, then the milk and vanilla, scraping down the sides. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients, then gently fold in the rhubarb. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top.
Bake the buckle until a cake tested inserted in the center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool, in the pan, on a rack.
I was a bit worried when I had ALL the fruit folded in, that it would spill over the sides of the pan I used (an old quiche dish from Mom, about 12 inces across but only an inch deep), so I baked it over a cookie sheet to save my oven from yet another layer of baked who-knows-what. The good news is that it rose nicely but didn't spill over. You can't see the pretty pink rhubarb in this picture, but it was quite yummy and the whole grains didn't ruin the sweet-baked-goods aspect of it, either!
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Most nights I am lazy and do it really quick style in the microwave. I wash the asparagus, snap off the bottoms, put them in a ziploc bag and microwave at 30-second intervals. Easy peasy.
OK, so if you're not a runny, or soft, egg fan, this would not be the supper for you... But I have been getting these amazing farm-fresh eggs lately and the yolks are to die for! You can see in the picture above how orange the one yolk is--just gorgeous!
Sher's asparagus and poached egg salad
1 cup spinach leaves
12 spears asparagus, steamed and chopped into 1-inch bites
1/4 cup parmesan, shredded
Poach the eggs to your desired doneness. I use these fabulous egg poaching pods that my sister in law got me a couple of years ago--you float them in boiling water and they work just great!
Place the spinach in the bottom of a bowl, put warm steamed asparagus on top. Sprinkle with parmesan and drizzle with olive oil. Gently place poached eggs on top and have at it! Truly yummy and a great celebration of spring!
Friday, April 3, 2009
On balance, though, this week still comes out wildly on the grateful side. Of course.
I'm grateful for:
* A friendship that began 24 years ago and still goes strong. Probably stronger through the years, somewhat because of the years, somewhat in spite of them... and then too, we're just wise women. Ha. Thank you for a lovely visit, Corinne, Brian and Adrienne.
* A wonderful husband to come home to and who gives me tech support and moral support and all other kinds of support from afar.
* For an incredibly sunny week. I have been to SLO many times in the past, and at what might be thought of as more "summery" times as well. But it's never ever been so beautiful and cloudless and sunny, ever.
* A peaceful place to chill this week. The canyon where the Smiths reside is amazingly peaceful and remote, while still being close to town (sort of). It's the kind of place that makes you happy to relax and stay put and not go anywhere, all day. Trust me, I did that, more or less, one of my days there, and it was heaven on earth.
* My Kindle. Still love it, maybe even more than before. Love being able to download samples while on the road, read newspapers and blogs and just generally keep the info flowing!
* My family, who I am very much looking forward to seeing this weekend.
* My brother, who celebrated a birthday this week, and whom I admire very much. I couldn't be more grateful in the sibling department. He's a rock star dad, husband, brother, brother-in-law, son... (no pressure, Shelb!)
* My grandma, who turns 90 on Sunday. This grateful item may look like it's down on the list, but it shines brighter than all the rest! I am so glad to still have a grandma, and glad she's in pretty good health and that most of her girls will be with her this weekend. We will all be thinking of Aunty Sheila in Roseburg and wishing she was with the rest of the sisters, but glad she's out of the hospital and hopefully staying there (home!).
* It wouldn't be a new week without a new music obsession! Corinne picked up a nu-jazz CD from her local public radio station. I latched onto the very first song on the CD and was addicted: Cellophane by Ashley Slater. It was tough to find a video to share, but I did... it's live, not the best quality, but still gives you an idea what's so addictive... to me, anyway. If you can listen and not at least want to get up and dance (sashay!), I feel sad for you...
Good weekend to all!
On C's birthday, she wanted to go to a local Japanese grill for lunch. Her sister-in-law and mother-in-law joined us and we got to perch up next to the grill and watch our meal (meat, in my case!) sizzle away. Corinne got sushi but the rest of us went with the fry-up. It was really good!
The sizzling grill!
Our chef, working the fried rice.
When we took our day trip up to San Fran, our first stop was the Ferry Building, which houses all manner of edible delights, from crepes to chocolate to cheese to gelato. We settled on a Japanese eatery there as well, and the bento box lunch was beyond yummy. I am a new fan of all things (well, maybe not ALL things, but many more things than a week ago!) Japanese.
C's bento box: Wasabi potato salad, asparagus salad, rice and chicken dumplings.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Looking forward to a wonderful weekend in Canada with the family!