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Archive for June, 2010

True Food

June 30th, 2010 at 07:54 am

Be true to your foooood! OK, think of the Beach Boys’ hit, “Be true to your school!”

Yesterday I went to one of my favorite places…the library. I checked out an assortment of DVDs, magazines, and books. One of the books was a nonfiction tome entitled, “True Food”. It was published by National Geographic and came out this year.

I woke up early this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep so I decided to read instead of toss and turn. The purpose of "True Food" is to give 8 simple steps to a healthier you.
In a nutshell:
1 Eat local food
2 Eat a variety of foods
3 Aim for organic
4 Eat lower on the food chain
5 Eat fresh food
6 Eat whole foods
7 Stock your pantry
8 Green your kitchen

Most of these are pretty easy to figure out. Chapter one was try to buy food grown locally or grow your own. Chapters 2, 4, 5, 6 were very similar – eat more fruits and vegetables and less meat and processed foods. There was quite a bit of information on herbs which was good as well as vegetables and their nutritional value.

Stock your pantry was instructions on buying less processed foods like all purpose flour and more foods that are natural.

Green your kitchen had some ideas such as use kitchen towels instead of paper towels, reuse glass bottles instead of plastic, and make your own cleaning supplies instead of purchasing harmful chemicals.

It was an adequate book, but I didn’t really learn anything new. I guess I had hoped to find some new truths. Fortunately I did not purchase, but borrowed the book from our local library. I'm sure for a newbie, they would find some merit in reading it.
I guess it pays to be a cheapskate!

I did, however, see a recipe I want to try tonight: shoestring zucchini with rosemary:

1 very large zucchini
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour or unbleached all purpose
1. Cute the squash lengthwise into halves, then cut into ¼ inch slices, then cut those into 1/8 inch slices
2. Sprinkle and toss with salt in a colander and set in the sink to drain for 30 minutes. After draining, squeeze out as much water as you can with your hands
3. Heat oil in a skillet – you want the oil very hot, but not smoking
4. Toss zucchini with flour in a bowl, and then add it to the oil in batches. Cook for about 5 minutes until zucchini is just golden, then toss in a few leaves of rosemary. Cook for another minute until zucchini is golden.
5. Drain zucchini on paper towel and served immediately.

If nothing else, I am true to zucchini!

Things v. experiences

June 29th, 2010 at 07:44 am

Things v. experiences. I read somewhere over the weekend that people feel that folks who talk about the things they buy come across as self centered whereas people who talk about experiences do not.
I wonder if that is true.

I would say by reading the SA blogs, it is. The folks who blog about experiences often talk about doing for others whether it is family or donating to the food bank – they look beyond themselves.

Very few blog about things, and if they do, it is matter of fact, not a brag fest.

I do know a friend who is totally tied up in the acquisition of things. He is not happy unless he is pursuing the purchase of something or purchasing something. And then the bragging begins. He makes decent money, but because of his spending habits, has had to refinance the house so he could vacation. While he was waiting for the refinancing, he was very irritable to be around because he felt he didn’t have any money to spend. It has become more and more difficult to talk to him because unless he has something to brag about, he doesn’t have much to talk about. I would say he’s pretty self-centered. I think he’s trying to fill a void in his life by filling it up with things. His idea of a vacation is going shopping. My idea of a vacation is relaxing and seeing things.

Most of the people I do enjoy time with talk about experiences and things they saw and we either learn or laugh. It’s a give and take relationship. We enjoy each other’s company and seem to never run out of things to talk about.

So, what is your take on this? Would you concur that folks who talk about things all the time come across as self-centered?

Keeping Score

June 28th, 2010 at 10:59 am

I had to do it. Almost forced. I broke down and bought some fresh green beans at the grocery. They weren't on sale even. Yikes!

You see, my husband planted green beans, but the bunny ate them to the ground. They came back and he did it again. And again. So, bunny 3, hubby 0.
However, a couple of weeks ago we bought poles and some fence wire and so far the game is bunny 3, hubby 1.

Except the beans are delayed from being chomped so many times. Almost like a Pac Man game. And it doesn’t seem like summer without fresh beans.

So, I succumbed to temptation and bought the beans. They smell good as they cook on the stove.
Maybe the score will be different: bunny 3, hubby 1 and wife 1. At least until the other green beans come up! Dumb bunny!

Let the excitement begin...

June 27th, 2010 at 10:53 am

I am not a yelling type excitable person. If they put me on a game show, they wouldn’t keep me because I am pretty quiet and tame.

But, I’m excited! Our church is going to publish a cookbook! Should I have typed that in all caps? I enjoy looking through cookbooks, but to be honest, those glossy professionally bound cookbooks are a joy to behold, but I don’t use all the recipes from them. Some of them have things I'm not sure I can find at the local grocery!

It’s the cookbooks published by those folks who cook every day that I think have a great deal of merit.
It's like finding the dog eared recipes your grandma loved and cherished and you fear were lost.
They are the tried and true recipes from the people around us that we like and trust. We get to peek into their meal time a little bit to see what they like and cook.

How many times have we been to a potluck where we’ve tried something and immediately asked, “Can I have the recipe?”

Well, the sharing of recipes has begun. And I can hardly wait to share mine.

So, I AM EXCITED!

Oh, Fudge!

June 26th, 2010 at 05:38 am

We just returned from 5 days in Michigan. The highlight of the trip was a stay at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. It was the setting of the old flick, “Somewhere in Time” if the name sounds familiar. Anyway, this is where we enjoyed the delightful 5 course meal in the main dining room where everyone had to dress up or be sent away. We were on a bus trip which insured us a reasonable rate.

Beforehand we walked around the business district of the island and there were the numerous shops. I think the type of shop that outnumbered any had to be the fudge shops. One brand had more than one store on the same street! They also gave us a free sample before we took the ferry ride from Mackinac City to the island.

The fudge was adequate, but not superior. It was almost a bit dried out yet people were raving about it. I realize things are a matter of taste, but why settle for “ok” when you can have delicious? People were lining up at these shops purchasing fudge. It was fairly hot and humid last Tuesday so I can only imagine what that fudge came back as…probably a lump, unless they ate it before we left.

That being said (typed), I am going to offer a fudge recipe that is smooth, creamy, and rich. Very rich. It needs to remain refrigerated to maintain firmness and will dry out if left uncovered, but my dear husband, after eating the freebie turned to me and said, “Yours is better.” This was my grandmother’s recipe and each holiday season she would make pounds and pounds of it to sell. If you try it, you’ll see why!

Grandma’s Fudge
4 cups of sugar
1 can of Milnot
18 oz of semisweet chocolate chips
1 stick of butter
1 13 oz of marshmallow crème
1 tsp vanilla
Chopped nuts (optional)
Mix sugar, butter, and Milnot. Bring to boil; boil 5 minutes stirring constantly. Take off fire, add chocolate chips, nuts, marshmallow crème and vanilla. Stir until creamy. Pour into buttered pans. Cool. Cut into squares. Keep cool and tightly covered in pans until serving.

Just remember, this is very rich…don’t want you getting sick!

5 Course Fill Up

June 22nd, 2010 at 05:53 pm

I rarely eat at fancy restaurants where you have "courses" and where the server puts your cloth napkin in your lap.

However, tonight was the night! We dressed up -- sports jacket and tie for him and a dress and hose for me. It was actually kind of fun to make this an event!

The dinner consisted of 5 courses. Five glorious courses served without the hustle and bustle of a normal restaurant visit. We had a chance to savor each and enjoy them and then anticipate the next.

Although we could have enjoyed extremely rich desserts, we chose to end our very flavorable meal with ice cream. Smoothy, creamy frosty ice cream served in a chilled metal dish! It was a perfect ending for a delightful meal.

Although I enjoyed this experience, I'm not sure I would want to eat this way every night. It was something to anticipate, and that is what made it so very special.

Not to mention the fact that 5 courses is very filling!

Father's Day Cookouts

June 20th, 2010 at 11:09 am

It’s Father’s Day and hot as blazes here in the Midwest. I’m sure if the weather stays sunny, there will be lots of cook outs this evening. The air usually is fragrant with various meats being grilled. Yum!

I’m always amazed that people love to cook over an open flame. I mean, I like to, but I like to cook period. But it’s funny that folks with fancy kitchens get excited about a grill. Of course these folks normally have an equally fancy grill, but whether it’s a little charcoal one or a mega stainless steel with propane, there’s something celebratory about having food with grill marks and that distinctive taste.

It really doesn’t matter whether it is a hot dog or hamburger or a pricey steak, we like our meat grilled and our mouth watering!

Cakes or Patties?

June 18th, 2010 at 07:54 am

English as a language can be confusing even for those of us who have it as a first language.

For example, why do we have tuna cakes and crab cakes, but salmon patties? After all they are similar…you take some sort of seafood, chop some other things with it, bind it together with egg or mayonnaise, put in some bread crumbs, and there you have it. You then cook it and serve it.

It’s darn confusing, that’s for sure. I guess they are too flat to be a loaf and too thick to be like a pancake. But are they really a cake…I always think of a cake as something that is frosted. I guess I could put a bit of frosting on one…oh, never mind…I’m not that crazy.

That being said, I’m fixing tuna something or other tonight. I will use homemade bread crumbs, egg, a dash of mayo, some chopped celery, and bit of turmeric and sauté them in olive oil. I’m planning on making mashed potatoes with some leftover Parmesan cheese and a tomato-feta salad.

Who knows, I might really live it up and tell hubby they are…tuna patties!

Back to Normal

June 17th, 2010 at 08:06 am

We are back to everyday life after our big anniversary adventure to celebrate our 20 years together. And that’s OK.

I pulled chops out of the freezer last night to thaw in the fridge. We go to this little store in a crummy neighborhood every few weeks on Thursdays to buy meat. They cut and package it the way you want and give seniors (62+) a 10% discount. We buy what we need and put it in the freezer. We are going to have pork chops, roasted potatoes with green peppers and onions, roasted zucchini, herb biscuits, and fruit. The onions will come out of hubby’s garden. I figure if I’m going to have the oven on, I might as well make use of it.

Roasting the potatoes is fairly simple. I peel the potatoes and slice thinly. I chop the onion and the green pepper – all about the same size and add whatever spices I have handy. Today I think I’m going to add rosemary. I drizzle with olive oil and with clean hands make sure everything is covered. I roast uncovered in the oven at 350 for about 40 minutes. Yum! You can do this with about any root vegetable so when I do the zucchini and onion, it will be the same way.

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. My husband would agree.

So, I better continue cooking so he’ll keep me another 20 years!

Our anniversary celebration

June 16th, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Yesterday I posted that is was our 20th anniversary and many of you kind folks wished us well.

My husband did something totally out of the ordinary and surprised me with a reservation to a fancy place. We had dinner out beforehand and the kind owner treated us, but then we went to a large hotel and had a chance to stay in a suite that had a huge king size bed, a sitting area, and a whirlpool. It was very expensive, but what a way to celebrate! We don't normally do things like this so it was that much more special. I always tease my husband that he is not Mr. Romantic...he's a very kind man who is considerate, but doesn't do the flowers, jewelry, and poetry bit. So for him to sneak around and make this reservation made it even more special. We enjoyed the whirlpool both last night and this morning and ate breakfast out like we were tourists at the hotel.

Wow, what a celebration!

Our Anniversary

June 15th, 2010 at 01:02 pm

Today is our 20th wedding anniversary! We married late -- My husband was 43 and had never been married and I was 29 and had never been married. I told him last fall that for our 20th he needed to plan something special and he has!

I am very blessed to have someone who has been a great friend and a good spouse and although we are celebrating big time today (dinner out tonight!), it is great to know I can count on him.

Lunch in Paris

June 15th, 2010 at 06:10 am

Besides cooking and eating, reading is a favorite thing to do.

I just finished a new nonfiction tome called “Lunch in Paris” by Elizabeth Bard. She talks about going to lunch with this Frenchman and their relationship and marriage and their families and friends while living in Paris. She’s a New Yorker and she adjusts to living in Paris. She isn’t a newbie to Europe, but she discusses how things are done and how she had to learn the culture to understand why.

I’m not a big traveler – I’ve never been out of the US, but I enjoy reading about different cities and how people live as told in their own words. This gal loves food and she talks about meals and foods and shopping for them. After each chapter she includes recipes. I felt like I had made a new friend. She has her own blog and the book cover encourages readers to continue the adventure at: http://elizabethbard.blogspot.com/

It was a quick and enjoyable read and for a couple of hours I lived through Ms. Bard’s eyes. After perusing many of the recipes I think I’m ready to eat!

Crockpot Supper

June 14th, 2010 at 11:33 am

Supper is in the Crockpot.

That’s always a good thing. I know most would say it is too hot for beef stew, but, that’s what we are having. I have a bunch of appointments today and we had stew meat and vegetables, so that’s what I fixed. I baked biscuits last night and made a fruit salad.

I always marvel at the person who came up with the idea of a Crockpot. What a wonderful invention. I know there’s a recipe booklet entitled, “Fix and forget it.” No kidding. I use my Crockpots a lot and feel they help us save money – we can buy cheaper cuts of meat and cooking all day makes them tender. Dinner is ready when you get home with not too much fuss and muss. And the newer slow cookers have the liners you can take out and put in the dishwasher – I remember having to try and clean the ones that you couldn’t do that with. I loved the cooker, but not the cleaning.

It’s nice to know supper is in the Crockpot.

A Chef's Secret

June 13th, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I think that chefs have a secret.

I’m not talking about a secret recipe or spice. I’m talking about the good feeling one gets chopping up vegetables.The best part is I'm not a chef, but I can enjoy this little endeavor.

I discovered this year when I would come home from work feeling frustrated or disheartened, if I would take out my big “chef’s” knife and start chopping away, I would feel better. Of course the delightful aroma of the vegetables probably didn’t hurt, either. Who needs to buy expensive aroma therapy when you can find it right at your counter top? I remember a spice company would have a radio commercial and the husband at the end would say, “Why does it smell like pot roast in here?” and you could tell that was a good thing.

I could sit and try to pinpoint what made me feel better, the movement of the knife, the larger vegetable being chopped, or even the smell as they roast or are sautéed. But, why take the magic out of it?