Showing posts with label Cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cooking. Show all posts

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Gift

This is a gift my husband brought me recently on his return from a long trip halfway around the world. Can you guess what it is?  Scroll down below for a better clue.

Now do you know?  Not sure how I will use it nor how to keep it fresh!  That is a lot!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Why I am Fat...well, Chubby.

A long time ago in a land far, far away a Queen without servants would now and again feel the need for some celebration organization such as the birthdays of the Prince and Princess and sometimes friends of theirs.  And so she took it on herself to spend many hours into the wee morning hours before those big days to decorate special birthday cakes.  When you live where there are no bakeries, one must take on the challenges oneself.  (In this modern world, my daughter orders her cakes so I no longer do this, and yes, I have been scanning slides once again!)

Somewhere among my paper photos is a picture of a dinosaur cake...the most difficult construction and decoration that I did for my budding paleontologist son who now is a wannabe rock star, but I do not know where that photo is.  Click on photos unless you are on a diet.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Feeling Fallow Fall

This is the view toward the deer gate. I can almost see my driveway disappearing beneath the forest leaves. Will I be able to find my way out by next week? So much work!

Tonight, as I watched the sun go down from my living room, I prepared a lovely mushroom ravioli with homemade tomato/basil /green pepper sauce with the last of the vegetables harvested from the garden. I am home alone, so forcing myself to actually prepare a healthy and fresh meal was not easy. (I could have had microwaved popcorn.) I washed these healthy antioxidants down with a nice Sangiovese that I had purchased at my recent visit to the Biltmore estate. I am alone and so adjusting to enjoying good food by myself is taking some effort. I removed the small bag of frozen peach pie filling made months ago and after thawing added to a pie crust and sliced a fresh apple on top, added more cinnamon and sprinkled some granola cereal on top of it all. It turned out delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Here is the back yard that I need to either rake or blow. It was clean just days ago, so I am being somewhat lazy and putting this off. It is a contest with the trees. They still have lots of leaves. They throw them down in the wind like yellow flakes of gold, as if they were gentlemen throwing down their yellow gloves as if in a challenge to duel. But then, when I look up, the trees still have more wealth to share. I will never win this duel.

The sex-crazed squirrels spend all their time chattering and laughing at my confusion.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

That Time of Year

It is that time of year when the river's bounty is providing us with seafood for enjoying during the cold winter months. My kitchen smells like either smoked fish or or steamed crabs...both of these are not necessarily good smells when you have them on and off during the day. But it is nice to see the freezer beginning to get full once again.

I was steaming yellow beans all last week and will be processing the pesto from our bolting basil this next week.

Tomatoes we are eating as fast as they come off the vine. The plum tomatoes this year are mealy tasting and disappointing. The tangerine tomatoes are prolific but not all that delicious. The sweet little grape tomatoes are as good as in the store, but even sweeter. There are a few other varieties ripening and not ready to pick.

My hair is damp from steam and hanging in my eyes and my apron looks like I lost a food war. Too busy these days to write anymore.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Sharing the Munchies

I found these hungry caterpillars munching on the parsley in the garden the other day and asked hubby about them. He said he had decided to leave them alone because they make butterflies eventually. What about the parsley, I asked. He said that we had way too much of it anyway.

I thought about this for a minute and realized that we had so much parsley because I was never harvesting it and using it. I had been focusing on other stuff from the garden. I have not been a big parsley user in my cooking in the past, and therefore, since we had so much success this year with the lovely green lace, I decided to search the Internet for some parsley recipes.

I harvested a bunch of leaves (two different types) and proceeded to wash and dry them allowing spiders and caterpillar poo to float away.

An hour later and with the kitchen smelling strongly of garlic and with spilled olive oil across the counter and with green stuff everywhere, I finished two recipes of parsley dressing. One pungent with Parmesan and garlic and one sweet with gentle spices and balsamic vinegar and red wine. Guess we will be eating a bunch of salad this week. All this green has got to be healthy, right?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Bok choi soup

She's back! (Doing laundry, weeding, going through a pile of snail mail and a bunch of electronic mail, washing and re-filling the hummingbird feeder. ETC!) Here is something to keep my garden converts busy.

Tabor's Bak choi soup

Heat about 2 teaspoons curry powder, two or three star anise and 1/4 cup chopped onion in a little oil in a dutch oven or medium to large saucepan. Do not over-heat or burn spices.

Add to this:

One quart chicken broth
, a bunch of chopped fresh basil, a dash of chili pepper (or lots depending on taste), some freshly ground nutmeg, salt to taste, a huge bunch of chopped bok choi, and any other vegetable that you like (edamame, edible podded peas or frozen peas come to mind). When the bak choi is tender add one half can of coconut milk (stir to blend fats and milk - you can add the whole can if you are not into good health). Heat gently until steaming. (This is also good if you add fresh oysters or small parts of cooked chicken, but is not necessary.) Add water or white wine to taste. Wine can curdle the milk so do not add too much. You can try to find the star anise and remove since it is not edible.

Serve with fresh basil, fresh bean sprouts, and/or fresh cilantro for toppings and perhaps some nice warm garlic bread.

Eat slowly as I do not know when I will have time to get back here!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

It Is Easy Being Green

It is oh so nice when one has company to have a fresh vegetable stand so close to the house! This Bok Choy or Pak Choi is at is peak with the weather staying in the high 60's F daytime and the low is in the high 40's F during the evening. The white stems are so juicy and have a very light cabbage taste while the leaves have another delicious but different taste. They are tender now and can be eaten without cooking. Later in the gardening season, the plants that are left will be used in stir fry.

We have two beds of this and may be tired of it after the next couple of weeks. But right now we pick a few outer stems from the larger plants and cut them up. Add some grape tomatoes from the store and then a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and you have a salad to die for.

(And of course, the garden looks so nice pre-weed eruption and pre-insect dining. But the blue bird is helping and I will post that on my other blog.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The JOY!

Sorry, but this is not about what someone reading the title might be thinking. It is about changes in the American diet. (Well, guess that lost 99% of the readers, you idiot.)

When I was first married and knowing that I would be moving to a remote island in the Pacific Ocean, one of the first things I purchased as my own wedding gift was the cookbook "Joy of Cooking." I was going to be on my own for most of the cooking and needed some good tools. Most Americans know that this is one of the bibles of cooking and a good basic guide when learning to cook. Its first edition appeared in 1936 and I have been made aware that there is at least a 2006 edition; obviously a very popular cookbook written by a mother, who has since died, and her daughter. My well-worn edition of 849 pages covers entertaining, hors d-oeuvre, cereals, brunch/lunch, sauces and gravies, stuffings, meats and seafoods, desserts, preserving, freezing, canning and everything in between.

What made me think of this classic a reader might ask...the one reader who is still reading. I also subscribe to Consumer Reports On Health newsletter and was made aware of the following information by the editor:

A February study "compared the calories in recipes from the 1936 edtion of Joy of Cooking with those for the same dishes ranging from chicken a la king to beef stroganoff and brownies, researchers found an average calories increase of 63 percent per serving. "We attribute about a third of the increase to changes in serving size," Brian Wansink, Ph.D., lead researcher of the study, said in a telephone interview. For example, while a pasta recipe called for a half-cup serving in 1936, the serving size was two-thirds of a cup in 2006."

The editor's note goes on to say that use of high calories ingredients, such as the addition of nuts and raisins to the brownie recipe added the rest of the calories.

This lead researcher has recently written a book titled "Mindless heating: Why we Eat More Than We Think."

I will never lose these last 10 pounds as everything is stacked against me it appears. Repeat after me: I will be more mindful of everything I eat.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Nothing like following up a post about losing weight with a post about food. But I actually used a Good Housekeeping recipe (instead of putting it in a notebook for oblivion) the other day for Peruvian Fish Soup. My husband had traveled years ago in Equador and said he had eaten a Peruvian fish stew that was very good and so I had to try this when I found it. It turned out so delish that I am going to share. And, yes, it is relatively healthy and low-calorie.

1TBsp. veg oil
1 med onion chopped
1 Serrano or jalapeno chile (we used two but made sure to remove the seeds)
2 cloves fresh garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
2 bottles clam juice (I only had one, but it didn't seem to hurt the flavor)
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1 lb. red potatoes in 1 inch chunks
2 limes
1 1/2 lbs cod fillet (I had a pound of frozen bass from last summer's catch)
1/2 pound med scallops (bought these on the day --kind of expensive!)
1/2 pound clean squid (I opted out of this ingredient after spending the $$ on scallops)
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro chopped.

This soup was divine and just a little hotter then next day after all the spices mingled. If you want the directions to prepare this ( it take 20 minutes to prepare and about another 30 to cook), let me know in the comments below and I will email you!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Being in the Moment

Honoring my ongoing promise to myself to be more 'in the moment', I fixed a dinner of rosemary lamb chops, garlic and curry roast potatoes, and a healthy baby spinach salad with orange-wedges (from my favorite clementines), thin red onion slices and almonds. The meal was beautiful to look at and in honor of being in the moment I did not rush away to take a picture for the blog. (The picture above was taken on another day with silly glasses that do not match.) I took my time to inhale each captivating smell as I sat down for dinner, and while we do not say grace, I was thankful in my heart and soul and to the powers that be for this meal. I slowly chewed each bite of food and let the flavors linger before swallowing. My husband and I respected the value and precious quality of this meal and the quiet time we had to linger over it.

My husband had made a fresh pitcher of cold green tea and in keeping with the spirit of the moment I brought the glass to my nose to inhale as if it were a fine wine before taking my first sip. The green tea had been enhanced with a sliver of the little kaffir lime that had clung to the tree for months before falling to the floor when I turned the tree in the sun that morning. When I inhaled, the aroma was like a verdant spark. It was lime but not lime. It was like a sweet floral perfume but not heavy or out of place. It was better than even drinking the lovely green tea itself. This gift from the 4 foot citrus plant in a green plastic pot tucked in the corner window was one of the best gifts I got over the holiday season.

I will try to be in the moment more often.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


"Once did she hold the gorgeous East in fee, And was the safeguard of the West."
Author: William Wordsworth

The husband has found a new good friend and like puppy dogs they have taken this mild winter day off to do what is shown above. They have driven down south with a boat in tow and will spend the night in a hotel. Thus I have two precious ha
lf days to myself.

In the last few hours I have just finished reading:

and was feeling a little cold and wet like the characters in this mystery that trudged through Venice in search of the murderer during the high water season.

I put on the above music, which was a holiday gift, as I prepared a light and warming lunch and when finished eating I continued my immersion in all things Italian.

As I sat on the couch, I tucked my stockinged feet under me and opened Michael Krondl's "The Taste of Conquest" which is about the "rise and fall of three great cities of spice" and once again found myself back in Venice but at a much earlier time when European involvement in the spice trade flourished. And, of course, the first city he visits is Venice. It appears that Venice began with salt and surprise there and since they cont
rolled the trade sold salt to Italy at an 80% profit.

I visited Venice a number of years ago and it is a city that is overwhelming in its beauty and somewhat frightening in it decadence. It is my understanding that because the city is sinking its population is dwindling. All things change and nothing stays the same.

Well, excuse me, must get back to my reading.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rewarded with Rushing

Hubby and I are heading into the city not to see the lights or go to a fancy holiday party...but to babysit, of course. This activity seems to be the most popular on our social calendar over the winter holidays. We have also been asked to pick a 'few' days during the two weeks that school is closed over the holidays to spend time with (take care of) the grandchildren.

I know the cost of babysitters and know that we would be saving them a fortune, and I love being with my grandchildren, and do not resent this in any way. We are asked and not 'expected'. But I can see how some grandparents would consider this an imposition if they found children exhausting or their own lives more interesting.

I, on the other hand, know how fast life rushes by and how fast these children will want to spend time with friends their own age rather than old people, so do not regret one second. And my holidays do not require much rushing around now that I no longer work.

Having said that, rushing to make and decorate Christmas cookies is not as good an idea. But my problem is that I say "When life gives you lemons, you can try still life art." My reach frequently exceeds my grasp. I also say that cookies that look handmade are far more delicious to eat. (I admit that adding the sprinkles was a bit too much!)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Keeping Busy

Yesterday I made stuffing, washed and dried the turkey, made strawberry apple pie, printed out the thankfulness memory cards, cooked a chile dinner for everyone at night, kept toddlers away from fireplace, redecorated the house,

took pictures of family jumping in the leaves outside and cleaned-up kitchen and watched The Kite Runner and then to bed.

Today thus far, made cinnamon rolls for breakfast while I let everyone sleep in late, turkey was stuffed and is now in oven, daughter made a green bean casserole, made sweet potato casserole, I set table, washed the toddlers clothes, tended the fire (AGAIN), adults kept kids entertained and safe.

Now waiting for son and his gal to get here along with a pumpkin dessert (Yum!). Hubby has a breather while the kids have driven off to a nearby playground and he is mowing (!) the front yard so that it looks nice for the holiday.

I have no idea what they were doing yesterday in this photo below....

I am so thankful that, thus far, everything is on schedule and no one has killed anyone! HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all who read my blog!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Good Life

Yesterday I went to a wine festival. I haven't attended one of these in a decade and discovered in my old age that my palate can get quite tired of the swishing and not swallowing as much as it got tired of the actual drinking. There is only so much wine an old palate can survey before it all starts tasting the same. I decided I was going to just compare the cabernet sauvignons, pinot grigios and maybe a chardonnay or two...but I also came across a new wine called a traminette. Some of you may be familiar with this white wine, which used to be NY65.533.13 and has only recently been given the name Traminette. It was developed at Cornell---those aggies have a grape breeding program. If you go to the link you can see that the wine grows best in a climate such as the mid-Atlantic and thus the one I tasted was both fruity/spicy and also smooth without being sweet. So with a 15% discount I had to pick up 6 bottles of this and then 6 of another wine they had, the Viognier. This is an old grape but also one with which I am not familiar.. Its buttery flavor on the tongue was what won me over.

I now have a mixed case of white wines to get me through the crisp fall days. I also bought a small basket of fuji apples that are so crunchy sweet we may eat them all before I get around to making another pie. I sliced (too lazy to peel) them and fried them in butter, brown sugar, threw in some cinnamon, freshly ground nutmeg, black walnuts and some dried sweet cranberries...a dessert that was so quick and easy last night and put the perfect ending on our dinner of fresh corn on the cob, tomato salad and crab from the dock. I have died and gone to heaven.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fall is the busy season

The fact that my husband is again off to Hawaii means once again I can enjoy a free schedule and alone time. Thus I finished the apples and peaches and have a freezer full of pie fillings. Next my energies were focused on filling ice cube trays with parmesan pesto to use up a lot of the basil. Then I filled the cookie sheets with leaves of Thai basil, licorice basil, and lemon basil and then put those trays into the freezer for about 20 minutes. Then working like Speedy Gonzales I placed the flat leaves into zip lock freezer bags for this winter's meals.

Finally, I have begun to fall behind on using the fresh tomatoes---and believe me, this year we have a very small harvest because my husband put in a fast garden. I dread the tons of tomatoes we will harvest next year when he really gets his game on. I had to preserve the plum tomatoes and so I made my version of tomato sauce---which means I am too lazy to remove the seeds---and I got about two quarts of garlic, basil tomato sauce which I froze. I might have been able to make more if I had been less sloppy!

One of the nicest things about retirement is that one can enjoy life's harvest at leisure. I do not have to cram all this cooking into a weekend along with doing the laundry and driving kids places and paying bills! I can actually slow down and smell the sauce and take my time in labeling the zip locks and plastic containers so that I know what in the world these gray freezer bags contain when snow is on the ground and I need something for dinner. I can actually take time to rearrange the freezer under the refrigerator and the chest freezer in the garage so that the older things are near the top. (We finally finished the last of the frozen crab from last year this summer!)

Yes, one of the things about getting old is that it tends to be all about food!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Fall Baking

Hanna must have dumped a lot of rain and not much wind. We don't have a rain gauge, but this storm left far less damage and mess than a recent summer storm that passed over our heads in July and brought a nearby tornado. Even the lawn is not covered with much debris. Ike does not appear to be planning to pee over our heads, so we may be spared this summer once again.

I brought back small baskets of apples and peaches from the farms in southern Pennsylvania and will be making pie filling all day today for enjoyment this winter. If I smell like nutmeg and/or cinnamon and the door handles to the garage (where the freezer now sits) are sticky you know I am in the midst of pie making.

Of course, this also means I have to spend more time on the elipitical in the future!!

P.S. Yes, the photo below is of one of my three humming birds that seem to spend most of their time fighting over the one lantana pot I have on the deck!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Getting Ones Work Set Out for Them

My husband is off on a 'business' trip to Hawaii...something that is either winding down or winding up. Anyway, prior to his departure, he picked all of the above that are sitting in glasses of water on the kitchen counter. Various varieties of basil. He then encouraged me to begin the process of freezing this abundance for the winter months when their pungent goodness would be better appreciated. Licorice, cinnamon, lemon...whatevhah! So, tomorrow I head out to find ice cube trays, as I recently gave all of mine away. I also just added all of the pinion nuts to a dessert dish and those would have come in handy for a pesto. Planning is everything.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thursday Thoughts #11

1. This morning Hubby and I had a crab omelette which we made with two of the crabs we recently caught beneath the dock. This is a luxury meal that is much easier to prepare in retirement as picking crabs requires a leisure morning.

2. I have trepidatiously planted one hybrid tea rose in a bed near the front of the house knowing full well that they are like creme brulee for deer. I was weeding around it this morning and I looked up to marvel at the dozen or so pink buds getting ready to open. Then, even before I sighed with pleasure, the plant said, "I'm too hot. I'm thirsty. My feet are getting too wet. There is some strange fungus in that mulch. That salvia is too close to me..."on and on the temperamental beauty ranted.

3. I just noticed that I have not worn my engagement ring in almost a week, a longer time than I have ever had it off. I took it off to work in the garden and to clean and move basement boxes and it seems that I am doing all of this constantly these days and the ring sits in a ceramic box near the sink.

4. I got an email from work yesterday asking me if I remembered my Safeboot password for the laptop I had turned in. I laughed so hard I almost wet my pants.

5. Daughter is coming down this weekend since both of our husbands are otherwise occupied with fishing and/or golfing making us weekend widows. Since my husband is taking my son along for all of the following week, I may get to see his new girlfriend as she drives him down. I am trying to get her to stay the might be a fun girly weekend after all---although there are toddlers involved so we will have to be wise on the wine.

6. I have not had to plan exercising time much this past month. Moving tons of dirt, digging holes, laying out bags of top soil and peat moss and working it all into the mounds of clay-based soil, laying out bags of mulch, lifting small shrubs and trees in containers all seem to be helping me get plenty of weight lifting and aerobic exercise. Just to increase all this fun, I and hubby have put down quite a bit of landscape brick after putting down the bed sand. Below is just one of the beds we have been working on.

7. I finished reading the Namesake but found the Kite Runner more moving and poetic.

8. I live out in "NO-NPR" land and there is a religious radio station that sits right next to NPR on my dial and overpowers the signal. I have spent time trying to get an antenna to capture NPR but have had no luck. I can only really enjoy NPR very early in the morning or while I ride in my car and now the tuner button has broken on that as well!

9. Kafir lime leaves are quite pungent and certainly two different meals (salmon patties and beef with asparagus) using this flavor are enough to satisfy us for quite some time. My tiny Kafir lime tree is also pleased that I have stopped denuding it for a while.

10. I actually did a crossword puzzle yesterday. That may be common fare for some people, but for me it always was something for those who have idle time which I never had. Although I love words and their meanings, I am not very good at crosswords and actually somewhat intimidated by them. I also rarely have the patience to sit and complete one puzzle. I didn't finish this entirely...but I got close!

Monday, May 26, 2008


Thoughts of appreciation to those who have given their lives for freedoms too precious to define on this Memorial Day.

I am alone today as my husband has always had the unique ability to schedule business trips over three day weekends--this really means much less now that we are both 'retired.' My daughter is with friends and her family in New York. My son ... my son...what he is doing today is anyone's guess.

Yet all is well with my small soul as I got up early (5:00 a.m.) and started cooking at 6:00 a.m. I am spending next week with my daughter due to a number of social activities as well as getting hubby at the airport near her house. Therefore, at 8:01 I have completed a Tuna Noodle Nicoise Casserole, a Turkey Cheese Enchilada Casserole and 23 Devils Food cupcakes. I still have to make a fresh strawberry pie. I NEVER go empty handed to the house of a woman with small children. One MUST bring food. I can hear the envious sighs from across the blogosphere.

The Devils Food cupcakes are supposed to be one of those super healthy small (13 oz) can of pumpkin filling and one devil's food cake mix. That is all that goes into this recipe! Mix and bake as directed on the box. I have never tried this recipe. The batter was sort of fudgy rather than battery, but seemed to taste OK. We will see how these low calorie snacks turn out. I did not think I would finish the casseroles so early, so now I have the rest of the day to get the potted plants ready for being ignored for the next 6 days.

I also made a banana cream pie...not my favorite but a great way to use the extra pie crust and leftover bananas.