Friday, June 30, 2006
Tonight's dinner was brought to us by Everyday Food magazine. This magazine is growing on me. I like how practical it is. If you're looking for something quick and easy, it's the perfect go-to recipe source. Tonight's quest for something simple and grillable led me to a recipe for Marinated Flank Steak. Flank steak takes a turn marinating in a simple sauce containing apple juice, whiskey, garlic, mustard, and hot sauce. It was very good. I used far less of the hot sauce called for because 2 teaspoons is a lot of Tabasco sauce. Plus I wanted to use Habanero Tabasco, so I just gave it a few healthy shakes of the bottle. I also cut the whole marinade recipe in half because there was only four of us, and I didn't want to proceed with making a sauce out of the marinade. I just wanted grilled steak, no sauce reduction (although I'm sure that would have been very good). Overall I was quite pleased, I marinated for about 3 hours, and that was perfect. This recipe goes into the tried and true files. Click on the link above for the recipe.
Here's Zander's curtains, yes, they're just plain panels, but they're really cute, and they really brighten up and soften his room. The heavy equipment on the curtains are bulldozers and excavators, and Zander actually chose the fabric himself. I was so glad he insisted on a bright cheery one.
Then I thought I'd turn the cute fabric into a dress for Abigail, but the girl who helped me cut the fabric wrong, and I didn't have enough for the skirt part, so it became a cute little tank top for her. The little butterflies you see at the top are a pair of pins that I thought made the shirt something really special. They'll come off when it's time to wash the shirt.
I also used some leftover fabric from the curtains to make Zander a pair of throw pillows, and he just loves them. I've had two days of very successful sewing. It makes me want to dash out and get some more fabric. I found a pattern for flannel pajama pants- which I adore, but they are always too short for me when I buy them. But since it's hardly flannel pajama pant season, I guess I can hold out a littel while for that. Up next will probably be a dress for Abigail, since the sundress didn't work today.
And finally, here's a picture of my babes playing in the pool. Yesterday Zander overcame his fear of water in a big way. He was jumping around like a maniac with his sister, and they were at it again today. That is very exciting, and opens up the windows of opportunity for the summer. I'll be sharing this picture with Gabriella of My Life As A Reluctant Housewife as she hosts Weekend Baby Blogging. Andy's working on a special dessert for tonight (yes, I am quite concerned) so I will be back later with a dinner post.
For this second edition of I'll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours- hosted by Sweetnicks, we have been asked to reveal something rather scary...The spice drawer. Now I am certain that there are many people who actually have a spice drawer. I think I grew up in a house with a spice drawer. The benefit of a drawer is it keeps the spices from being exposed to light, and it can be really convenient to have your spices directly beneath your mixing bowl. I however, have way too many spices to have a drawer. In fact I use another entire cupboard. And not just that narrow cupboard next to my fridge. I need a full size kitchen cabinet. Three shelves and one mystery location makes up the crux of my spice cupboard. So here we go.
Here is the bottom shelf of my spice cabinet- the most used one. In fact I'm surprised this morning to find empty space- usually it's wall to wall of the little spice jars. You can obviously see a pattern here of lovely Penzey's jars. It is an addiction. I can't go in there without picking up at least 6 new jars. I have the back walls of the cabinet lined with steps, and I try to organize my Penzeys by alphabet sometimes, but they really just end up all over. The turntable I'm not particularly crazy about. It makes it hard to get at the spices in the back of the cabinet. On the turntable you'll also see my jar of Emeril's Original Essence- a must for jambalaya, and my jar of Fleur De Del- a must for the coming tomatoes.
Here is the second shelf of my spice cabinet. And yes, there are spices in here, you just can't see them. I figured in the spirit of the challenge, I needed to photo my cabinet exactly as it is, so I withheld a quick organizing. On this shelf I keep my larger jars and tubs of spices, as well as my vinegars and honeys. Ah, I also see my bottle of sriracha, as my hot sauces are in the back right corner as well. While these may not all necessarily be spices, they are as essential to me as spices, so yes, they seriously belong in this cabinet.
The top shelf of this cabinet is also misleading, as I again eschew a quick clean-up. But if you look to the left you see the Worcestershire sauce, and behind that, one of my two varieties of sea salt- definitely an essential spice. Way in the back is a bottle of molasses, a wayward hot sauce, and a bottle of chili oil. But behind the box of corn starch, what you don't see is my supply of whole Indian spices, generously shared with me by a friend. These bulk spices perfume my cabinet like you wouldn't believe. Everytime I open my cabinet I am attacked by curry, garam masala, cardamom, and other Indian flavors. Yum, yum, and double yum. And finally, the mystery location.
Not a great picture- I know, but my spice collection would not be complete without my freezer door. Here you see about 20 packages from Penzeys containing extra spices. I use these packages to re-fill my smaller Penzey's bottles when I've run out. This keeps them fresher longer, and actually makes the spices a little cheaper to buy them in a larger bulk. It is a task keeping track of all of the spices and dried herbs that I have going on here, but it is definitely worth it. And believe it or not, there are plenty of spices that I don't have conveniently on hand at the moment. I don't have any saffron, for example, or any mace. And I really need to get to Penzey's and pick up some grey salt and some fennel seed- and if you can guess what that is for, you are indeed a foodie. :-)
I'll hopefully be back later tonight with a real meal. I'm feeling a bit inspired after going through all these spices. In the meantime though, make sure you check out the round-up of all the spice cabinets at Sweetnicks this weekend. It's sure to eb a good one.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
And darn it. Wouldn't you know, I forgot it was Wednesday, and failed to weigh myself this morning. I just ran up and weighed myself, but I am a firm believer that if you are going to track your weight, you need to weigh yourself at the same time every day. My time is when I first wake up, before I've showered, and before I put shoes on. I didn't remember today. Running up just now and weighing myself does not look good. However, realistically, I know that I have seriously fallen off the wagon, so I am going to start over. Today I am at square one. The 3 1/2 pounds that I lost before is null. Whether it's still missing, or has stealthily slunk back on, it doesn't matter. Today I move forward. I REALLY like Alysha's approach of 5 pounds at a time. So here it is. Day one of 5 more pounds. They always say that it's the last 5 pounds that's the hardest, so maybe if I start with the hardest 5 pounds, the rest will be smooth sailing.
When I am being what I call "health conscious" (not on a diet), there really are two foods that help keep me on the straight and narrow. And those are yogurt and avocados. I don't know what it is about those foods, maybe because I just love them so much. My absolute favorite breakfast and snack is a bowl of vanilla low-fat yogurt, fresh fruit, and a sprinkling of either granola or Grape Nuts Trail Mix Crunch. I will happily eat that for breakfast any day of the week. I will also happily trade in a scoop of decadent ice cream for my yogurt parfait at any time. The picture at the right here is actually low-fat blueberry yogurt- my second favorite flavor of yogurt. It is a sad day when I find myself out of yogurt, because then I reach for something a little sweeter. So my #1 need is to keep low-fat yogurt in the house for me. Soooooo much healthier than junk food, and since I love it, I should utilize that love.
And as for the avocados...those are good to have around, and bad. I adore a fresh salad wrap for lunch- as long as it has an avocado on it. Something about that soft flour tortilla just screams avocado to me. And if I pile that wrap up with spinach and tomatoes, a sparse few slices of good cheese, that's a pretty decent lunch for me. But the bad comes in with the temptation to make a humdinger of a guacamole out of that avocado. Because guacamole just leads the way for a big ole plate of nachos to become lunch. So I do need to be careful with my avocados. However, since we are at the beginning of Farmer's Market season, maybe I'll be able to get creative and come up with some really satisfying veggie lovin lunches. We can see.
Anyway. I just needed to post a little something to prove that Weigh-In Wednesday is still on my mind. I'll try and remember to weigh myself properly tomorrow so I have a benchmark for next week.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
I grew this!
These are French Breakfast Radishes from my garden. I don't think I've ever been so excited about radishes before. While at my little plot of soil, I found that my peas are also doing very well- in fact, I need to find more trellis for them to climb on, they're growing like crazy. My beans need to be thinned- I think. Do beans need to be thinned? And today I also found blossoms on my tomato plants. I'm so excited! It looks like my lettuce did a big fat nothing though, which is fine, what I really wanted were beans and tomatoes. So far so good...
I alluded to another little project yesterday. And even though I already find myself swamped at times keeping my various blogs updated, I felt like I wanted to add another one to my repertoire. See, I'm quite the reader. I read a lot of books. I can read a book in a day if I feel like it, I just so enjoy reading. Next to cooking, it's my favorite thing to do. So I started a blog called The Savvy Bookworm, where I am going to attempt to chronicle my reading. Mostly it's for my personal reference, but it may be helpful to anyone else looking for book reviews. Give it a peek if you have an inkling.
That's all for today. It's been a long day for me, and I'm ready to turn in early I think. Tomorrow...the return of Weigh-In Wednesday.
Monday, June 26, 2006
The strawberry fields are still plentiful and juicy. I was very happy to see that when we headed to the field this morning. In my mind I had visions of the kids and I managing to pick about 20 pounds of strawberries- visions of jamming dancing in my head. Zander managed to pick about 3 berries before delcaring that he wanted to go sit in the van. Abigail managed to pick about 2 quarts before joining her brother. Hmm. 20 pounds of strawberries would be about 4 ice cream pails of berries. That would be a lot of berries to pick by myself. So I took Abigail's meager offerings, and while the kids played, I filled 2 pails with berries. I decided that was all I was going to get today. But then when I went to transfer the berries into boxes and pay, I found the pre-picked berries and added another 5 pounds, I just had to pay a little more for the ready picked ones. Now I'm actually contemplating running out later this week and seeing what they have for ready-picked berries. :-)
I started with a jam idea that has been on my brain for awhile. I wanted to create a Strawberry-Black Pepper Jam. Recently I have seen several recipes that combine strawberries and black pepper- why not in a jam? The only jam recipe I could find included mint leaves, and not being a mint fan, I let that recipe pass by. Instead I used my recipe for Strawberry-Lemon Marmalade, eliminating the lemon peel. I think it worked. The small taste i left out for myself was pretty good, but I'm hoping that as the jam sits, the pepper flavor infuses a little more. Next I made another batch of Strawberry-Lemon Marmalade. I made this two weeks ago, and I LOVE it so much, I decided I needed to make another batch and double the lemon peel. I am very glad I did.
And finally, I made 2 batches of plain old Strawberry Jam- using the recipe in the box of Sure-Jel. The kids love strawberry jam, and I want to be able to give some away, so many jars of fam are in order. All told, I have 9 quarts of Strawberry Jam, 4 quarts of Strawberry-Lemon Marmalade, and 9 pints of Strawberry-Black Pepper Preserves. Not too bad for a day of jamming.
So tonight I needed to come up with a strawberry themed dinner for my strawberry crazy kids. I had seen a post on one of my foodie friends blogs for Strawberry Pancakes recently, but darned if I can't remember who that was. So off to Recipezaar where I found a recipe that fit the bill. The pancakes were incredible! They really were very good- especially topped with a little sweetened whipped cream. They fluffed up beautifully. I did have hesitations about cooking the berries in the pancakes instead of just topping it with them, but they really turned out great. An instant hit, and will go into the tried and true files. Clicking on Strawberry Buttermilk Pancakes will take you to the recipe on Recipezaar.
Well, that's it for tonight. I have a new little project in the works, and I thought I'd take some time to work on that tonight. I also have about 2 quarts of berries yet to do something with. I suspect they will simply get sliced and dugared and placed in the freezer. If anyone would like any of my jam recipes, just let me know, and I will get them up in the Recipe Trove.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Today I made my first foray to the Farmer's Market this season. It was so nice to be back. :-) I spent the morning smiling as I made my way from stall to stall, looking over every single item. It is so wonderful to see all the new vegetables that have been grown by all the local Hmong families. And it is all local at this market, so I know where it is grown. I love it. Since our growing season is later up here in the North, there isn't a whole lot out now, but I did manage a small haul to brighten my day.
You see here a bunch of baby beets, a bunch of spring onions, and a handful of new red potatoes. I actually got two bunches of the beets, greens still intact and fresh as fresh can be. The beets became a simple side dish for our supper- both the greens and the tops. I roasted the beets in olive oil while I wilted the greens on the stovetop with a little garlic. Then I tossed the two together and topped the whole thing with nuggets of a Pyrenees Green Peppercorn Cheese that I reviewed the other day. The cheese perfectly complimented the bitterness of the greens, and the beets themselves...oh so sweet and wonderful. The onions I'm not sure what I'll be doing with. They're quite harsh... so I may hold onto them for salsa or pickles or something like that.
To accompany my market basket today, Andy got it in his brain that he wanted to smoke something on his grill. A slow smoke he said. So I picked up a fresh turkey for him, and he was able to work on smoking a bird. It turned out beautiful and taste very good. It had the beginnings of a smoke ring- so a little more tweaking will be done, but really, it was quite tasty and I'm looking forward to coming up with some smokey turkey leftovery things.
He really is getting pretty good at smoking with that Weber grill. Imagine what he could do with a real smoker??!!
That's all for today. I am halfway through a rather boring book, and I would like to try and finish it tonight, so I will be off to do a bit of reading. Happy Saturday!
Friday, June 23, 2006
Anyway, just one word of advice to anyone thinking about changing their template. When Blogger tells you that chacnging your template will remove all of your customizations- it means everything except the guts of your blog. Sidebars, Headers, and Footers all go away. So if you want to keep the miles and miles of text that you've already put in, I suggest copying your code to another source first.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
I am not familiar with the vintner- Lost Horizons, but the idea of a blend really intrigued me. 60% Cabernet Sauvignin and 40% Merlot sounded pretty darn good to me. What surprised me though was the back of the bottle. Product of South Africa. South Africa has vineyards? Here is what the bottle has to say. "Over 300 years ago early pioneers arrived at the Cape of Good Hope. They believed they had reached the land of the Lost Horizons where the view never ends and civilization passes away. Here the soil conditions, the sunny climate and the soft winds are ideal for the growth of noble grapes." Also on the back of the bottle is a seal on the neck of the bottle that labels it Certified, along with some numbers- I hesitate to guess what they may mean.
The wine itself is quite pleasant. For lack of a better word, it is soft. I would have expected a blend of cabernet and merlot to be heavy and "solid", but this is a very gentle wine. It rolls on the tongue and has a nice clean finish. I confess that I can't really analyze it properly, but it is very easy to drink, and I think that this wine would appeal to red wine lovers as well as white wine lovers. I do detect hints of blackberry, followed by a hint of oakiness. A very simple wine, and an unexpected delight from South Africa.
And if you are in the mood for a little cheese with your wine- check out Cheese, Glorious Cheese for another new cheese review.
Michelle from Chef Michele's Adventures tagged me for this Meme a while back, and I thought I'd better get around to it.
5 items in the freezer
- Mango Peach Juice Bars
- Turkey Mignon
- Strawberries frozen in sugar syrup
- Lemonade Concentrate
- Blueberry Frozen Yogurt
- Vaccuum Cleaner
- Cross-Stitch Supplies
- Aerobic Step
- Decorative Marbles
- A large tote of Partylite Candles and Holders
- First Aid Kit
- Capri Sun Juice Pouches
- Laurie Berkner CD's
- Box of Kleenex
- A wooden plank for propping open the hatch
- A pair of diapers
- Lip Gloss
- Plastic Silverware for the kids (two sets)
- Sylvie from Soul Fusion Kitchen
- Melissa from Reflections
- Ana from Kitchen Space
- Rachel from If I Could Reach...
- And Purple Cupcake from...well, Purple Cupcake
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
I do have something to post about today.
I found a new way to purchase groceries. Today I received a package from Amazon. Yup. You read that right. Amazon.com is now selling groceries. Curious about this development, I just had to explore and see what they had to offer. Turns out, you can order grocery and household items- but the condition is that it is in bulk. You can't just order a package of diapers. You order a case of diapers. Price wise it's a reasonable deal- as buying in bulk tends to be at times. But why wouldn't I just go to Sam's Club and buy in bulk there? Well, because Sam's Club does not carry some brands and products that I go through a lot of. For example, Annie's Homegrown products and Bob's Red Mill. But wait Erika, there's shipping associated with ordering something online. Indeed. But Amazon has graciously extended it's $25.00 Super Saver Shipping to the grocery line. And, if you are like me, you have already payed your annual fee to be a member of Amazon Prime- and shipping is free regardless.
So today I received two packages. The first was via UPS and contained a case of Natural Cracker by Partners. This cost me $12.00 for six 4 oz packages, and the crackers are quite good. Okay, that wasn't too bad. The second package made Zander jump up and down as I opened up the box from FedEx and found a case of Annie's Arthur Macaroni & Cheese. Zander loves that stuff. And for $14.00 I now possess 12 boxes of cheesy goodness for my son. So will I order groceries from Amazon again? Hard to say. The selection of grocery items is pretty slim, and if they beefed it up more I think I might order more. There isn't THAT much that I use regularly. However, they do have quite a bit in the line of organic and natural foods, so if that is your thing, it's exciting to have a bulk source for it. At least in my neck of the woods, we don't have that availability. I guess ultimately, I reserve judgement. I think the prices are very reasonable, as long as you can meet the $25 minimum for free shipping, or are a member of Amazon Prime. Hopefully they will continue to add more of a selection, and then we can see. In the meantime though, Zander keeps going to the pantry and just staring at "ALL THOSE ARTHURS!!"
Anyway. I'm back. Whew. Hooray for the cable guy. However, my good intentions of a Weigh-In Wednesday post crashed and burned this morning when I was unable to post. I never did manage to weigh myself. Maybe tomorrow I will get that in, along with the promised post about cookbooks. Tonight though, I have several e-mails to catch up on, and I simply must make the rounds of my foodie blogs. I missed them last night and this morning. S0 I leave you tonight with a suggestion to check out Cheese, Glorious Cheese. I did manage to get a new post up there, and it is worth checking out if you are a fan of cheese.
Monday, June 19, 2006
I'm in a slump. Really, other than my strawberry festivities last week, I really haven't felt much like cooking. And no, I can't really blame the weather. It is fairly hot- but not overly so, and I love the hot. I love summer. There are times where I am convinced that I live in the wrong state, (like in winter) and I long to move south to the more temperate state of Alabama. Or West, to the beautiful state of Washington. But then I think of the horrendous bugs that come with the warmer climates, and I content myself with the current status. So no, weather is not to blame for my lack of desire to cook. To be honest, I'm not sure what. In fact, I'm not even sure when I last cooked a "real meal". It's been strawberry waffles and take out for almost a week now. Something's gotta give soon. A recent influx of new cookbooks has me marking pages to try- but no desire to create a grocery list and recreate those recipes. So hopefully soon I'll have something exciting to post about. Tomorrow I will have a post about my favorite cookbooks, but I lack the desire for foodie-isms this evening as I battle with my increasingly crabby children who had a really long weekend and are really super tired. In fact, I thought it was much safer for them if I attempted to banish them to the TV while I sat down to blog for a few minutes. And so I will ramble on about other matters today.
On of my more unknown obsessions is my interest in fashion. I'm not entirely sure where that comes from, but I adore leafing through Harper's Bazaar from time to time. Or watching my guilty pleasure- Project Runway. (Which has a new season starting July 12th!) There are many clothing trends that come and go, and I can't say that I succumb to a lot of them- they're just too darn trendy for me and my unflattering Mommy figure. But sometimes, you just can't avoid a trend. Say, for example, trends with jeans. When I was in high school, jeans were tight- skin tight, and until my last few years, were worn in the most unflattering style of tight rolling. (Yuck! What were we thinking!) That made way for the exact opposite- the return of the bell bottoms, which were also paired with relaxed fit and boot cut jeans. And more recently those bells have been reduced to the flare. The flare was a trend I rejected- much too close to the bell bottoms worn by my parents in the 70's- I was not going that route. And then. I bought a pair. And with the right chunky heeled shoes or tall strappy sandals- I confess they look pretty darn good. I now own flare jeans, and had every intention of purchasing more.
Until yesterday. To my horror, celebrities and fashion icons have determined the next wave of fashion to hit the humble blue jean. And yes, ladies and gentlemen, the peg-legged pant is back. Those tight to the ankle faded blue jeans from the late 80's and early 90's will be everywhere come back-to-school time. They are already available at the upper tier department stores- like Neiman Marcus. Starlets have already been sighted wearing the atrocities with the obligatory pair of heeled pumps. Here is one horrible picture. And while we can hope that maybe this trend will carry over to the young men who STILL think that a crotch hanging down to the knees is going to get the girl, we will still have to scour every shelf in the jean section praying that there is a pair of jeans that we don't need a shoehorn and a pair of pliers to squeeze ourselves into. And now as the flare jean will undoubtably make a silent exit, we can pray that they take gauchos with them...and hope that the peg leg jeans have a very, very short run.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Totally worth it. Worth every penny, worth every second. The kids had a BLAST!! I would highly recommend A Day Out With Thomas to anyone. There is plenty for the kids to do without being overwhelmed, and there isn't a sense of urgency to squeeze everything in. They loved it. We loved it. Zander's favorite part was meeting Sir Topham Hat, and Abigail's favorite part was playing on the bouncers. I have to say though, Sir Topham Hat was much shorter than I expected. The whole day was wonderful, and now my exhausted self has to get ready for a night away camping- send us positive thoughts and prayers please! It's supposed to be super sticky-which we can handle- but with the heat and mugginess comes the threat of sever weather. Not looking forward to experiencing that in a tent.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
With all of those strawberries? We did go again yesterday and came home with another 8 pounds of berries. We'll be taking a little break as we have a busy weekend coming up, and I hardly have time to process juicy sweet berries. But next week I'm planning another trip, as I have many more pints of jam to put up. But yesterday with a plethora of berries, my darling daughter made a particular request.
This particular recipe was shared by a fellow BBer on the Cooking Light Bulletin Board, mbrogier. Thanks Micah! It's a winner!
Strawberry Ice Cream
- 3 Cups half & half
- 1 (14 oz) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 1 Tablespoon Vanilla
- 1 Cup freshly mashed strawberries
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Chill for 1 hour. Stir and pour into the freezer of an ice cream maker. Follow manufacturer's instructions for perfect homemade strawberry ice cream.
And that's all for today folks. I have a weekend menu to plan. Tomorrow is the much anticipated "Day Out With Thomas" and we are really looking forward to taking Zander to see and ride a life size Thomas The Tank Engine. I'm sure I will be sharing plenty of pictures. Then Saturday we are headed for an overnight camping excursion for an extended family reunion. It should be fun. A little sad, since we'll be shy one Grandmother, but it will be fun to remember her all the same. :-) I will try and come back tomorrow night to post a few pictures form the days festivities.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
They're so cute and unassuming, and the kids just love seeing one in the yard from time to time. A week ago I was talking with the nbeighbor, and she mentioned that the rabbits had eaten her beans and other plants in her garden. I was put on aleert, but thought I'd see the damage happen and avert the problem. I also suspected that because my tiny garden is a raised bed, the rabbits may stay away.
Well, yesterday I went out for my daily examination and it looked like a few random plants had had their leaves chewed off. That surprised me. I thought that the rabbits, if interested, would be more interested in the freshly out of the ground plants- not so much the leaves that had been there for several days. So I put in an e-mail to my Mom asking if she had any fencing- since she's not gardening this year. I figured I'd hop on over today and pick it up and that would be that.
What I didn't expect was that when I went out to the garden this morning, I would find all of my bean plants have had their leaves eaten off. Darn it! Those darn rabbits had a buffet this morning in the wee hours of the AM, and now I have to re-plant. (Insert angry eyes.)
In other news, yesterday morning we brought home 11 pounds of strawberries, which we literally munched on all day long. We had yogurt and fresh berries for lunch, waffles with berries and whipped cream for dinner- not to mention the dozens and dozens of berries straight up. :-) I also managed to can 10 half-pints of strawberry jam, as well as freeze 4 pints of sugared berries for those winter shortcake cravings. So we went through those berries rather quickly. Talking to the patch owners yesterday, strawberry picking can last up to four weeks if they have enough rain- so with any luck there will be many more berries to come. Right now it looks like it may rain this morning, and if it doesn't we'll likely head out to the patch again today. Abigail asked for homemade ice cream, I have a hankering for a fresh strawberry pie, and I also want to make a batch of Strawberry-Lemon Marmalade. (Doesn't that just sound good?) So we may be picking up another 10 pounds or so. Gotta love it. Off to find a recipe for really good strawberry ice cream. Have a great day!
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Monday, June 12, 2006
Wow. Have I really not posted since Wednesday? Sorry... I haven't really been feeling well the last several days. Abigail and Zander had a bug a week apart from each other, and still another week later, I came down with it, and it's taken everything out of me to just take care of the basics- like laundry and cooking. I really don't feel much better right now- but hopefully as the morning goes on, I will improve.
Today's Obsession Nod goes to The Quick Bread. I love quick breads. Sweet morsels of bread that actually borderline the realm of cake- of course I love them. Whether they are in loaf form or muffin form, quick breads are my favorite breakfast and snack food. Personally, I prefer them in loaf form, over the muffins. There is less of an interior/exterior ratio in a slice of bread- and I'm an inside girl. Give it to me freshly sliced with no adornments, and don't you dare mess it up with a smear of butter or cream cheese. I do have a stash of recipes which I consider my quick bread recipes, but lately it has occurred to me that I don't have nearly enough variety in my repertoire. My standard quick breads are Banana Nut, Cranberry Nut, Zucchini Chocolate Chip, and Chocolate Zucchini. All very good, but pretty standard fare. I do have a Pumpkin one floating around too somewhere...
Recently the blueberries have started appearing in my grocer's produce department. I was getting depressed every time I looked for blueberries, and was rewarded with this tiny little half-pint plastic clamshell container- usually reserved for blackberries. But last week my search was rewarded when the full size pint containers had returned. Two of them immediately went into my cart, while I pondered a third one. Zander loves blueberries. He can just sit down with a bowl of them and munch them like candy. And of course, they also make the most fantastic pancakes, muffins, and pies. But what about a full size loaf quick bread? A recipe search yielded...not much. And I was up to the task.
I started with a recipe for a basic tea bread which I found to be quite bland and boring. I added the blueberries, and some extract, and banana and buttermilk for moistness and flavor. The end result is fabulous. The banana is a hidden force. If you really concentrate, you can identify it, but it blends so nicely with the juicy sweet blueberries. The almond extract is also slight. It's definitely a presence, but it doesn't overwhelm as almond extract tends to do. But it works very well. And the almond/sugar mixture on top? Well, that adds another layer of sweetness, and an unexpected crunch to the myriad of flavors. Perfectly moist and delicious, this bread is a winner. You can find the recipe for Blueberry Almond Bread in the recipe trove.
One of my favorite things about quick breads is that you can easily double a recipe and freeze the extra loaf. And the magic of the quick bread is that they actually taste better after freezing and thawing. I can easily be found making up to four loaves of banana bread at a time, because I simply must slice into one right away, but then I safely ensconce the remaining three in the freezer, where they honestly don't last long. This one will also freeze well. I wrap mine in a souble layer of plastic wrap, followed by a layer of heavy duty foil. Make sure you add a label! If the loaf is smaller, I also place it in a freezer bag, but usually the foil works just fine.
I will be back tomorrow with another quick bread- this time for a Lemon-Poppyseed Bread. And stay tuned, because there is a rumor that one of our area strawberry patches is open for business...
And briefly, if you notice anything wierd going on with Tummy Treasure- rest easy, I'm playing around a bit with the template and the HTML, mostly right now just screwing things up, but I'm trying to personalize it a little more, so please bear with me. :-)
Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Express Lane Meals is a fantastic concept. Really, it is. The concept starts with a well-stocked pantry. Rachael gives you a detailed list of things you should always have on hand. Then each recipe has it's own page telling you what few additional items you might need for the recipe. If you are mindful enough to keep that pantry stocked at all times- this is a great book for you. It could really help you get dinner on the table in a snap. But how are the recipes? Well, at first glance, they are pretty standard Rachael Ray fair. Quite a few pastas, quite a few soups, and quite a few sandwiches. Again, easy weeknight meals- what's not to love about that. There are plenty of other options as well. She has recipes that run the gamut depending on the amount of time you have to prepare your dinner.
Tonight I tried one such recipe. The recipe for Spinach-Artichoke Cheesy Tortellini claims it tastes a lot like Spinach Artichoke Dip. That's exactly my cup of tea! I did alter the recipe a touch by lightening it first of all- I used half & half instead of the heavy cream called for. And I also failed to pick up tortellini, so I used rotini. Overall, I thought it was very good. Not quite as good as a spinach artichoke dip, but I happily gobbled up the pasta. I admit though, that serving this sauce on cheese filled tortellini would be overkill. I would think that would be much too rich. Additionally, when I make this one again I think I want to add some Italian Sausage to the pasta and reduce the cream/half & half further. I think if I increased the flour by a tablespoon, I could easily swap out milk for the cream. Overall it was quite good, and made plenty.
In fact, I am looking forward to the leftovers for tomorrow. And do I have the leftovers seeing how we were STOOD UP for dinner. And you know who you are. (Where are those angry eyes...) Anyway, if you'd like to see a great picture of this dish, as well as the recipe, check out the blog Reflections. Seeing how I forgot to take a picture. You know, too busy enjoying dinner on the patio and watching the kids play. :-) Overall, I think I like this book. I would like to think that someday I would be able to create my own cookbook like this with all my tried and trues, and develop my own personalized pantry list. It's a great concept, and soemthing I think I could aspire to. Time will tell, I guess.
And I have to share on the child front today... today was the first day of no school, and of course, my precious children were awake at 6:30- eager to start their day. Abigail received her first phone call of the summer from one of her classmates- and it was a boy no less!! She sat on the steps and giggled the whole time. "Oh Flynn, you're so funny!" She isn't even 6 yet! And it begins now. :-D I love that little girl.
Monday, June 5, 2006
Because sometimes good intentions run amuck. This was my attempt at EoMEoTE. And in addition to being dumb enough to take a picture BEFORE dousing the blaze with baking soda, I learned that poaching eggs is so much more than dropping some eggs into simmering water. Um...yeah...it will be a while before I make Eggs Benedict. And lets just say that semi-poached eggs topped with plain yogurt, Greek blonde olives, and garlic-toasted pita bread is not very tasty. (I was going for the albino look, I guess.)
So I think I better take a tiny break from creating crap and stick to TNT recipes for a little while.
And cake. There must be more cake.
And as for tomorrow...*sigh*... Tomorrow I walk a Kindergartner to school, and when I walk her home, she will be a First Grader. Sniff.
Friday, June 2, 2006
Here is the main body of my fridge. It actually is a little empty right now, as I haven't done a major shop in a few weeks. I always have plenty of condiments and go-withs so I can whip up a little something on the spot. Here on the top left shelf I see Mango Chutney, Cashew Butter, Blonde Greek Olives, Pickled Jalapenos, Pickled Habaneros, Red Curry Paste, Country Olive Mix, and the kids Yo-J. Just under that you will see a carton of eggs, watermelon, and a lemon- behind which is two different kinds of sour cream. On the right hand side- top shelf you see, Vanilla Lowfat Yogurt, Plain Lowfat Yogurt, a jar of homemade pickle relish, half a cantaloupe, Andy's Silk Creamer for his coffee, behind which are 3 jars of plain yellow mustard and a bottle of hoisin. Below that we have several different cheeses, several different yogurts, and several different kinds of hummus- behind which are two different kinds of spreadable cream cheese. Below all that we have the requisite milks, juices, lemonade, iced tea, and Mudslide mix.
On to the Doors...
Our fridge is a bottom freezer- French Door top, so we have two refrigerator doors. You will see my collections here. On the left we have the requisite minimum of 3 varieties of jam- our preferred brand is indeed Smuckers. Below that you will see... 5 bottles of salad dressings, and below that still 2 more bottles of dressing before getting to the HI-C juice boxes. To our right, the top shelf is loaded with 6 varieties of mustard. The second shelf has, homemade blueberry jam, tartar sauce, mint jelly, cocktail sauce, and homemade cherry-berry jam. And below that...4 more bottles of salad dressing and a bottle of chili sauce.
And that's about it. I failed to take pictures of the produce drawers- just a few apples, carrots, and nectarines there. And the meat drawer is holding a lone few string cheese pieces and a package of Oscar Meyer Weinies. I get the sense I need to clean out my salad dressings... On to the requisites,
3 Things Always In My Fridge:
- Creole Mustard
3 Things Never In My Fridge:
- Organ Meats
- Baby Food (no more babies here!)
And if you want to see more "confessionals of the fridge" check out Sweetnicks round-up over at her site. Now I need to go clean my fridge out...