Monday, June 30, 2008

Not a food snob

Never let it be said that I am a food snob. I am not. Here is a barbecued turkey joe and macaroni salad. I didn't even make that bun! I made the macaroni salad and the turkey joe filling. It's good. Actually, I got the recipe from Weight Watchers forever ago. We had an indoor picnic since it was like blazing hot outside in Maryland. It was too hot even for the birds this past weekend. I did not see any finches out on the farm. I really enjoy seeing the little yellow finches. They are such a bright spot of yellow. I did see 2 fawns with their mother. The fawns are so darling with the white spots. I also saw the tiniest little bunny. I see a lot of rabbits on the farm but this one was so tiny I really took note of him.

We ate well this weekend, I think. We had poached eggs Florentine for breakfast on Saturday which really started out as a simple breakfast but then I realized I had everything to make eggs Benedict and then the idea of hollandaise was too eggy for me so I decided on a mornay sauce which necessitated making the eggs Florentine. Trust me, if you are me, it necessitated it. I took some pictures but they turned out pretty terrible since the food was on a blue and white plate and the place mats and napkins were also blue and white. What was I thinking? I mean, I LOVE blue and white china but I think I need yellow place mats for summer. Or perhaps this darling fabric with hand drawn gold birds from Repro Depot. So cute. It should be for $9.50 a half yard. Once I finish all the rag dolls I am working on, I think I am going to make some place mats.

The recipe is basically very lean ground turkey, a diced red pepper, half a diced onion all browned up and then a good smokey barbecue sauce reduced down with it. I like homemade or Stubbs is good in a pinch. I obviously like pickle and cheddar cheese on mine. I have heard these sandwiches called sloppy sue but I like turkey joe. It's fun to say. Turkey joe.

Mr. Huckleberry Finn asked in his fine southern drawl, "May I have a turkey joe? Hold the bun, please?"

Sorry, sweetheart. It's kibble in a bowl for you!

Friday, June 27, 2008

home alone with corn chowder

My hubby has been gone every night this week. I really miss him when he is not home but it does give me an opportunity to get a lot of stuff done. I made 2 ragdolls... well, 1 and 1/2 ragdolls... well, not really since I have no brown thread, I cannot put the hair on. So, that's 1 ragdoll with no hair or face since the placement of the hair determines where the face goes. Then the other doll is made but has no clothing... so that's ummm... well, altogether I guess it equals 3/4 of a doll!

Last night, I was going to finish the ragdoll clothing but I opened the refrigerator to make dinner and was appalled at how gross it was inside there. It has glass shelves and this nice clear drawers but it is was all finger printy and there was a small maple syrup spill at some point but no clean up so I got to work. I tool everything out and washed it all down. It looks so pretty. I then proceeded to clean all the cabinets, counter tops and the floor. The kitchen rugs went into the washer (amazing how much cooler my basement is than the kitchen!).

Anyway, I did manage to make dinner! Chicken corn chowder as promised. I also had to make the beagles some chicken and rice since my Miss Prissy Pants girl beagle was little sick to her tummy last night. So, it was a busy night.

Chicken and corn chowder
2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts - grilled or seared and baked. Cooked some way you like.
1 medium red pepper, large diced
1 medium onion, large diced
2 stalks of celery, you guessed it, large diced
2 strip of bacon, cut into strips
2 russet potatoes, washed and large diced
2 cups of corn
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock or broth
1 cup of half and half
1 teaspoon of olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over high heat. Add the bacon pieces and cook until they are crispy and brown. Remove with a slotted spoon. Add the onion, pepper and celery to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes and add the corn. Cook for 2 minutes more. Add the potatoes and stock and bring to a boil cooking until the potatoes are tender. Add the half and half and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until thickened, about 6 minutes more. I do not like to use flour in this chowder. I use an immersion blender to blend up a bit of the soup which purees some of the corn and potatoes which makes the soup thick and creamy without adding cream or any flour. I have made this with reduced fat evaporated milk but did not have any of the on hand last night. I am trying to cut back on the fat and what not. Anyway, I serve the soup with the bacon and chicken on top and some thin slices of green onion.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

where have all the bonnets gone?

I was talking to a friend about rag dolls and I casually mentioned that I might like to make a bonnet for the dolls. I said, "but I fear she would look like Holly Hobby" (I am trying very hard to avoid copy write infringement at all costs). Anyway, my friend who is obviously younger than I am, was not familiar with Holly Hobby. So, I Goggled Holly Hobby and found that she has been transformed from the lovely, sweet, flower picking profile above into a "Bratz" type character who no longer wears a bonnet but rather a jaunty, floppy hat and ugly pants. Sigh.

I guess this is Holly's great-grand daughter and not Holly herself? Can't Grandma Holly make the young Holly a cute patch work pinafore and bonnet? MUST she wear hideous bell bottoms and have an outrageously disproportional head size to appeal to young girls today? Sorry if people out there think she is really super now. I think it is a travesty. Or in the words of Anne of Green Gables, it is tragical! Just tragical!

Regardless, I think bonnets for ragdolls would prove difficult since the ragdolls are flat dolls with flat heads but I might be able to pull something off and make a bonnet for a flat headed doll. I really don't know.

On a happy note I found this vintage Holly Hobby characters bracelet! I know, right? It is darling.

I feel pretty good today so I am planning some chicken and corn chowder for dinner tonight! Yumm yumm. Recipes tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

farewell fat foods

Fried chicken.

Fried dough.

The fried chicken was actually a little over 2 months ago and the fried dough about 3 weeks ago. So good and disgusting. It is no surprise that my husband's doctor wants him to cut back on fatty, salty, carby foods. So, there will be more healthy foods cooked in my little farm house kitchen starting now. I just wanted wish fried chicken and fried dough (and other fried monsters) a proper farewell.

Okay, so Culinary Camp starts 2 weeks from Monday and I have not yet written the curriculum! It will be something if 12 teenage girls are looking to me to help them learn to cook in a week and I have nothing to offer, huh? Here's what I am thinking for this year - "Around the World in 5 Days: A Culinary Adventure" We will cook a different style of cuisine each day from Mexican to French. My trouble is what to make for the capstone dinner. I am not yet sure how I can incorporate all of the styles into one meal. I am NOT a fusion chef. Not a fusion chef at all. Maybe Ming Tsai will do a guest spot at Culinary Camp this year? Eh, probably not.

Friday, June 20, 2008

potato salad

I was 17 when I got my first job. I worked in a sandwich shop called Tidbits in my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. The owner there makes what is generally known by all who eat it to be the best potato salad in the world. I made some last night to go with barbecued pork. I cannot share the recipe. It's top secret. I promised many years ago to not give away Clara's secret and I intend to keep that promise.

Instead, here is a picture of some darling little napkin holders with birds on them that I got at my church's May Fair for $1. What a bargain, huh? I love them. That is my living room in the back there. It must have been a hot day when I took this picture since the drapes are closed. They are insulated drapes and keep the hot and cold out. Well worth the money in an old house with old windows.

I bought this precious silhouette on Ebay a couple of months ago. It is dated 1931 and signed by an artist whose name I cannot make out. I love it, too. I love her delicate little eyelashes and the way the hairs at the nape of her neck curl just so.

Speaking of curls, I am scheduled for a much needed hair cut tomorrow morning. My plan is to go to the farmer's market before the hair cut since both are in town. Not too long ago, I realized that I indeed live in the country because I told my husband that I was going into town. Anyway, I have curly hair that tends to get that very dated Drew Barrymore in the 80's look when it gets too long. I can't have that. I generally get the Caprica 6 (from Battlestar Galactica) haircut. Unfortunately, I do not have the Caprica 6 body. Oh well.

Speaking of Battlestar Galactica, I must say that I am totally hooked on that show. I don't watch a lot of tv. I don't mean that in that "I'm better than people who do watch TV" kind of way. We all have our hobbies that relax us and I do not think that mine are any better than anyone else's. It's just that there isn't much for me to watch on tv. Not much that is appealing at all. I watch baseball but I can do things with my hands or clean house while watching baseball. Regardless, I am a little peeved that the powers that be behind Battlestar Galactica have decided to split up the final season. Therefore, I must wait until February of 2009 to find out the fate that awaits these characters. Boo.

Ok, enough random ramblings. Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

new shoes!

I just ordered a bunch of new stuff this past week. I always feel guilty when I buy new clothing for myself. I am not sure when I started to think of new clothes as a luxury and not a necessity. I do need clothing to wear to work, church and the grocery store. I managed to get everything on sale, which is awesome, right? Of all the items I ordered, I am most excited about these new shoes from Kenneth Cole Reaction. They are bronze and are mildly reminiscent of a band-aid with the little perforations and all. According to my husband, I have almost always lacked a good summer wardrobe since we have gotten married. He said he could only remember one summer in 8 years of marriage that I had good things to wear in the summer. It is really my own fault since my weight changes so much so often and I never keep clothing once my size changes. Oh well, I guess a good summer wardrobe is in the mail to me from J.Jill and such places.

On a completely unrelated note, I am considering seeing an acupuncturist. I have such a needle phobia, so I can't imagine actually doing it but I am considering it. I am not by any means into alternative medicine in that I not against traditional medicine at all. Actually, acupuncture has been around for a very long time, I am not sure why it is considered to be "new age." Regardless, I have heard from people that it can help with pain and I am willing to try it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

so good

Culinary Camp is coming up next month. I am very excited about doing this again this year since last year was so much fun. I plan to teach the girls who are returning from last year how to make "take out at home." Like common foods that come from take out places - burgers, pizza and Chinese-American favorites. So, that means we have been eating a lot of burgers, pizza, and Chinese-American favorites at my house. I made sweet and sour pork one night and then last night we had cashew chicken, which is one of my favorites. The husband loves it too. So, it's win-win-win!

cashew chicken, makes 4 servings

4 chicken thighs, deboned and skin discarded, cut into 1 inch cubes or you can buy boneless, skinless chicken thighs but those weren't on sale. Since I know how to debone most anything, I choose to save the cash. I use the bones to make stock. It's win-win-win again!
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
2 stalks of celery, washed and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons of hoisin sauce
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 cup of lightly salted cashew halves - toasted - I do this in a small saute' pan over medium heat. Be careful, the oil in the cashews will burn quickly. Keep stirring the cashews. This should take about 3 minutes.

Mix the soy sauce, vinegar, hoisin and garlic together. Add the chicken and let marinade for about 30 minutes. Heat the oil over high heat and add the chicken, reserving the marinade. Saute' the chicken about 5 minutes or until nicely colored on the outside. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add all the vegetables to the pan and saute' about 5 minutes or until the carrots are crisp tender. Add the sauce back in to the pan and reduce until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken back in, discarding any accumulated juices and toss to combine in sauce. Add about half of the cashews and green onions and toss to combine again. I like to serve this with white rice topped with the reserved cashews and green onion slices. It' very pretty, too!

We had egg rolls and wonton soup with this last night from a local Chinese restaurant, so it was partially take out made at home. I called ahead for the soup and egg rolls but when I arrived at the restaurant, they seemed very confused. While I was waiting, I noticed the phone number for the place on the menu and realized, I had called a different Chinese restaurant! I guess I didn't know that Chestertown was big enough for two Chinese places.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

car free and baseball

We had Chicken Parmesan last night for dinner. Gosh, that is good stuff! We also had terrific thunderstorms last night that cause me to worry about losing power. The power only flickered off once and then was fine. I always imagined that we would have issues with the electricity living in the country but honestly, I remember more power outages living in Detroit.

So, I have officially been 1 month without my own car! I must say, I am loving it. I was very worried at first. I worry a lot about a lot of things. The plan was originally for my nice husband to drive me to work each day but 2 coworkers who were carpooling already kind of offered to pick me up and drop me off each day. They are basically refusing to take cash from me so I plan to purchase or make nice things for them. I should confess here that the lease was up on my Chevy Malibu Max (as pictured above) and I didn't know what I wanted to do when the lease was up, so I did nothing. I basically turned the car in and walked away. People generally think that I am without a car because I am such a super person who is so very "green" when in fact, it is a lack of organization on my part. I am generally a very organized person but I just wasn't proactive about the lease on the car ending and actually doing something about it.

I am thinking of getting a new car in the fall. I guess. I have been doing a little research on which cars are the most economical on price and gas consumption. I worry that I am a burden on my hubs and my coworkers but actually, Lenny and my coworkers have expressed that they are enjoying the carpooling. Interesting, no?

Okay, so my previous blog was a lot of baseball talk. I do love baseball. I can't really explain it, so I basically tell people that I went to an MLB game many summers ago with some church kids and while I was there I got bit by the baseball bug. I so miss going to see the Tigers play. Mr. Anderson and I warmed our faces in the sun many days at Comerica Park. I pay a crazy amount of money to subscribe to the Directv Extra Innings package so I can see the games, but it is just not the same. Just not the same. I am happy to report that my team is finally starting to catch hot! They won 6 in a row, which is none too shabby. Of course, they are still 6 games under .500 but it's a long season, right? Right! Pictured above is the main gait at Comerica Park. There are giant tigers and giant baseball bats. It is super awesome!

This is a closer shot of the picture that is over the main gate at Comerica Park. Pictured there is the great Ernie Harwell, long time announcer for the Tigers and the Georgia Peach himself, Ty Cobb. I really miss Detroit right now.

Monday, June 16, 2008

something special

I felt pretty lousy this past week, so I did not really cook anything special. We ate takeout too much and the husband did make dinner one night. Sweet man. I have a backlog of food pictures and recipes but I thought I would try something different today and actually do a movie review of a movie I watched while sick! I have been wanting to see Bella for awhile now, since I heard about it last year, actually. Rarely, do I actually like a movie. I know that sounds snooty but it is true. I can watch and tolerate any movie that is not unnecessarily violent or smutty at all. I really enjoyed the movies Once (including the sound track!) and Mr. Bean's Holiday, which should put into perspective how nuts I really am. My Netflix queue is full of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and now Samurai Jack episodes and the occasional action movie for my husband.

Anyway, Bella was a complete treat for me to watch. I don't have anything bad to say about the movie and I certainly do not want to give anything away about the story, so I will just say that it is a must see. It is refreshing to see a movie where the characters are actually likable for a change and I am not put in a position to cheer on the bad guys. It seems there has been just a plethora of those types of movies in the past 5 years, right? The ones where the good guys are bank robbers... but bank robbing is a crime and stealing is wrong, right? Stealing is still wrong... right? No matter what Hollywood spoon (force) feeds us, it is still wrong to steal! The other big draw back to movies for me is sometimes the characters are so despicable I have a hard time caring what happens to them in the end. Cider House Rules comes to mind here - the characters lacked any real redemptive qualities, which is not true to life since ALL people have redemptive qualities, right?

Okay, so this is not so much a review of Bella as it is a rant on every other movie that is not Bella, or Once, or Mr. Bean's Holiday but the point remains, I was sick, I watched this movie and it was truly something special.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

birthday food and gifts

A coworkers' birthday was last week sometime when she was on vacation. I made her a little stuffed kitty and a blueberry crumb cake. Here is a very bad picture of both items. I love the fold lines in the plastic table cloth. That's so classy looking, no? She loved them both (the kitty and the cake not the plastic table cloth). We tend to go all out for birthdays around this little college. We all like to eat, I guess.

blueberry crumb cake - as always, get all the ingredients to room temperature. It will mix up much more nicely and make a fluffier cake.

For the streusel topping:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For the cake:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup fresh blueberries
Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.

For the streusel:

Combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter and then the flour. Mix well and set aside.

For the cake:

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, lemon zest, and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Fold in the blueberries and stir with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out with a knife. With your fingers,
crumble the topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Cool completely and serve sprinkled with confectioners' sugar.

The kitty is very easy to make. It is a simple silhouette of a cat with a hinged tail. The bottom is fabric covered illustration board which I hand sew onto the already stuffed kitty. I made a couple of these before I realized that I should not try to sew around the ear points but rather end a line of stitches on the outside point of each ear. Make sense? I seem to get the best, most pointy ears that way. I am crazy about this fabric on this particular kitty. The little roses are so precious! I don't stitch whiskers on the kitties since I like simplicity of just having the little nose and mouth on the face. The nose and mouth are pink embroidery floss and the eyes are obviously buttons.

a little game we play

My husband and I play this silly word game that sprang from an episode of Beverly Hills 90210. I must confess that about a year ago, my husband came home to find me sick in bed and watching this show. It happened to be the episode where, that's right, "Donna Martin graduates!" If you are unfamiliar, here is the back story. West Beverly High made a rule that anyone caught drinking at prom would not walk in their graduation ceremony. Donna Martin, the good girl of the original friends, got totally smashed at prom and the principal found out since Donna was a little less than discreet with her intoxication. Long story short, her friends went before the school board in protest of her not being able to graduate and chanted, "Donna Martin graduates! Donna Martin graduates!" over and over until the school board caved to their righteous demands and allowed Donna Martin to indeed graduate. Got it? Okay.

My husband is a smarty pants man with a smarty pants vocabulary. In fact, when we dated, I was absolutely enamored of his fabulous vocabulary and that is one of the things about him that compelled me to marry him. True story! Anyway, I am not sure how exactly, but we began to expand on the things that Donna Martin does that end in an "ate" sound. I fear I am explaining this game very poorly but here are some examples -

Donna Martin exfoliates
Donna Martin instigates
Donna Martin extrapolates
Donna Martin conjugates

There are some obvious series of words that come to mind, such as -

Donna Martin intoxicates
Donna Martin copulates
Donna Martin gestates
then of course, Donna Martin, well she populates

This becomes a game in that we try to think of new words. I should make a disclaimer here that my husband and I do not really drink much alcohol at home and we certainly do not do drugs but we find this game to be absolutely hilarious! There is just something about the imagery of Donna Martin (see above) actually doing these things, right?

Donna Martin particulates

Gosh, that is funny to think about.

Donna Martin agitates (indeed, she does)
Donna Martin fumigates
Donna Martin pontificates
Donna Martin undulates
Donna Martin annihilates!

And one that is really popular in my house when I cannot think of anything else to say...

Donna Martin... ate

This is just a few of the many we banter back and forth. Usually, we play this game in the morning while getting ready for work. I was in my carpool this morning (those ladies are awesome!) and my husband called to add

Donna Martin palpitates (how did we miss that one?)

When I arrived at work he added -

Donna Martin inculcates (I had to look that one up)

Maybe you have to be an incredibly dorky Gen X-er to get this game and maybe my hubs and I are not the first people to play this game, but I thought I would pass it along to any reader. We have such fun playing this and it is a good mental exercise taken from something that might have turned my brain to mush.

Donna Martin exonerates
Donna Martin liberates
Donna Martin inoculates
Donna Martin expectorates

Feel free to add to the list! Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


This is pasta with shrimp, spring vegetables, and feta cheese. The recipe is from Everyday Food and can be found here. This was really very delicious and super easy to make. I do find it funny when recipes are "one pot" I still seem to end up with a million dirty dishes! I guess I don't need to measure everything out for the recipe ahead of time into little dishes and bowls, but I hate feeling pressured in the assembly of a dish. I am all about calm and in control in the kitchen.

I think this might be better cold. My husband ate it cold when he came home from a late meeting and he said it was awesome cold. The only changes I made to the recipe were an addition of 1/4 cup of sliced green onions and I did not put the asparagus in since I did not have any and was not in the mood for asparagus anyway. I used sugar snap peas instead of snow peas since I saw them at the mega mart grocery store and they looked so amazingly good! I did not cut them. Also, I did not use mint but a little basil from my front porch. Okay, so I basically changed the entire recipe around, but the concept remains! The feta makes a nice creamy addition to this dish and the lemon, garlic, and olive oil were fabulous.

I really am going to have to splurge on a new camera. I have been putting it off but the slightly blurry pictures are rather annoying. It makes me feel like my vision is going bad.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Uggg! I feel like the last kid to get new shoes, you know? I live on a working form, surrounded by other farms and yet, I have to buy produce that is well on its way to rotten at the local store or drive 50 miles round trip to the mega mart to get good produce. I have only lived here for about a year and a half but nobody told me about CSA's. I read about them on the Scottish Cow's blog. I contacted a local farm that has a CSA but they are all filled up for this season. Eh, there is always next year.

Believe it or not, I had a farmer's market directly across from my apartment complex in Detroit. There were a few things to like about Detroit.

I hear that if I get to the local farmer's market early, I can get some good produce. That means giving up my only relaxing morning of the week but I guess it is worth it to eat local produce that tastes good.

pesto and homemade dog food

What a crazy weekend! Poor Pebbles got very sick to her little tummy on Thursday night which resulted in a trip to the emergency animal hospital and getting around 2 hours of sleep. I stayed home from work with her on Friday and I am now cooking for the dogs, too! As if they weren't spoiled enough, the beagles are eating homemade dog food - chicken and rice. I believe today is the last day that they are eating that. If you don't know, the homemade dog food is twice as much boiled white rice as boiled boneless, skinless chicken breast and is good for doggies with upset tum-tums. I decided that it was easier to feed it to both beagles than one, so they are both eating this. They love it. Dinner time has been transformed into a feeding frenzy of rice stuck to dog noses (remember that scene in "A Christmas Story" where the mom asked the little brother, Randy to eat like the little piggies eat and he has mashed potatoes up his nose? ... yeah, it's like that but with beagles and rice). Crazy beagles.

I bought a new, fancy garbage can this weekend. Sometime last week I broke yet another plastic garbage can lid while trying to clean the thing. My coworker (who also has a fancy stainless steel trash can due to breaking so many plastic ones) and I joked that we used to look at the fancy $100+ trash cans and wonder, "who buys this... who can afford a $100 trash can???" Well, now we know who. People who are totally frustrated as breaking cheap plastic trash can after trash can. Only mine was not $99, it was $60. Target is mush cheaper for these than Bed, Bath, and Beyond. By like $30. I threw the lid away to the old one and washed and Lysoled it thoroughly and put it in my sewing room. I was using a box for a trash can in there. I have actually been spiffing up the sewing room lately since it was really not cute at all.

Okay, on to the pesto pasta. I love it. I just love the taste of basil. And Parmesan cheese. It is a great summer dish since there is no oven involved.

Recipe time.

Pesto pasta
1 cup of fresh basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic peeled
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup of pine nuts
kosher salt
1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 pound of penne rigate (or some other tube pasta with ridges - ridges, must have ridges to hold the sauce on the pasta)

I use my blender for this. Place the olive oil in first, then the other ingredients except for the pasta. Pulse until it is a smooth paste and transfer to a bowl. Cook the pasta in well salted water according to directions. Drain the pasta but do not rinse. Add the hot pasta to the pesto sauce and toss to combine. The hot pasta will warm the sauce. I grilled chicken breast and sliced those. I like to garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and whole pine nuts. So, there you go.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

she's home (sigh)

The "Repeblican" is home with us. The vet proclaimed that she was the best beagle ever. I had my suspicions but now I know for sure.

That's right, little one, relax on the nice pink blanket that my mom crocheted for me. You deserve it!

Just a little more relaxed. She is heading to dream land where she chases bunnies and gets to catch them and keep them forever. She and Huck both bark in their sleep. I heard another beagle owner refer to it as a "boof" since that is the sound. Not "woof" and not "bark" but something of both. Boof.

This guy is very happy about Pebbles being home. That's his happy face. Doesn't he have lovely eyes? So sweet and expressive. So soft.

Nice, calm relaxed beagles back together again. Of course, Huck is in my spot on the bed but oh well.

I promise, recipes tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

the shy beagle

Pebbles is still at the vet. I believe we get to pick her up today. My husband was on a boat in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay last night and did not get home until around 8 or so. It was just me and Huck Finn last night when I got home. Huck was in the crate alone. Usually Pebbles is in there with him and they jump around a little and howl a bit. Once they calm down, I let them out. Huck was obviously asleep when I came in and stretched and looked at me. He looked happy enough the see me but seemed so lackluster about it all. I let him outside for a little private time.

Usually, I start dinner right away when I get home but since Mr. Anderson was not there, I did not. I don't really cook for just myself. So, I went into my sewing room. Huck laid on the landing to the stairs in the hallway. I could just hear the jingle of his tags when he moved and he could hear me moving around and sewing. Normally, while I cook, Mr. Anderson watches the news or Cash Cab, Pebbles sits on the rug right in front of the oven, and Huck pops into the kitchen off and on to see what smells so good.

7 p.m. before I knew it and neither Huck nor I had dinner. I served him up his kibble in a bowl and set it down. He was not there to receive it. I called him and heard him come down the stairs. Well, halfway down the stairs. I guess he just wasn't that excited about eating dinner without his girlfriend. I reached through the banister and pet his little head. Huck has big, soft, expressive eyes. I looked in his eyes and said, "I know, I miss them, too." Huck won't look directly into the camera for a picture. He is a little scared of it. He will glance up and see it and divert his eyes. It's all one very slow, sweet motion. He seems so demure, actually (if a dog can be demure). Such a gentle spirit. Such a good boy.

He came all the way down the stairs finally and started to eat his dinner. He was about half way through when he heard Mr. Anderson on the porch. Head up, ears perked. Huck managed to finish a bit more of his dinner. Then he was following his "big dog" around the house. He seemed a bit more normal and centered. Yeah, most of the pack was home.

I tried to relay what last night was like at home for just 3 hours without he and Pebbles to my husband this morning. My sleepy brain said it all wrong. I said something wrong like, "you and Pebbles are the noise makers in the house, it was just too quiet"... what I meant to say was that Mr. Anderson and Pebbles are the joy of the house. The energy and charisma. All the fun and spirit. Without them, Huck and I are a little lost.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

broccoli rabe

To me, broccoli rabe is like broccoli, spinach and asparagus all rolled into one amazingly cool looking vegetable. I am a big fan of this traditional dish of broccoli rabe with Italian sausage and orecchiette pasta. Only, I could not find any orecchiette at the store. Even the big mega mart. It is like the eastern shore of Maryland has a problem with orecchiette and does not allow any to reach its lovely shores. Anyway, I used medium shells instead.

I made this using a recipe here. I did not exactly follow the procedure of this recipe. Instead, I cooked the broccoli rabe and removed it without draining the water and then I cooked the pasta in the same water. I added the pasta straight from the pot without draining into the sausage and broccoli rabe. Make sense? I just didn't want to have to heat two separate pots of water as it seems to be a waste of electricity. I am nothing if I am not cheap. I also used a turkey Italian sausage since Mr. Anderson and I are really fat. So there you go.

My little Pebbles bunny beagle is at the vet getting her heart worm treatments. I thought we got to pick her up this afternoon after the second treatment. I learned yesterday when I called to check on her that we were mistaken and she had to stay tonight, also! I really miss her. Cooking dinner without her last night was strange. Normally she sits on a rug right in front of the oven and watches my every move. Sometimes she get a little snack, too. My husband got to see her briefly this morning when he dropped off more food for her. Miss Thing was very glad to see him and he said she is doing fine. The vet said the first treatment went really well and expects that the second will be fine, also. Once we get our little bunny back, we have to keep her from any exercise for 30 days. It will be difficult since she is a very athletic dog. Mr. Huck is really missing his girlfriend, but he did get to sleep in the big bed with us last night!

Monday, June 2, 2008

barefoot pita bread

The largest population of Arabs outside of the Arabian Peninsula is in a suburb of Detroit called Dearborn. Dearborn is home to numerous really good Middle Eastern restaurants, most of them are Lebanese. Dearborn is also home to the world headquarters for Ford Motor Company, but I never ate there! Where I did eat was a Mediterranean place called La Shish where there was a woman who made pita bread by hand in the middle of the dining room. She was barefoot. That kind of bothered me but the food there was so amazingly good that I didn't really care that much about the feet. I made some homemade pita bread this weekend (I wore sandals) but neglected to get a picture of it. I made it to go with a Moroccan chicken and rice and orzo pilaf that was so very yummy. The pita bread recipe was from this book, of course. I love where we live now, but I do miss the days when my husband and I would go to Greenfield Village and take in a baseball game played by 1867 rules and then go to La Shish for some Shwarma. Fun and yum.

Moroccan style chicken

I think this recipe originally came from Weight Watchers but I have added the spinach. I love this dish very much. It is simple to make, light, healthy, and combines some of my favorite ingredients (chicken and lemon)! Makes 4 servings.

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 tablespoons of flour
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 - 2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large lemon, thinly sliced
1 16 ounce can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups of good chicken broth or stock
4 ounces of baby spinach, washed and stems removed

Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over high heat. Season the flour with the salt and lightly dredge the chicken in the flour. Cook the chicken in 2 batches in the olive oil until golden on the outside. It will not be cooked through at this point. Remove the chicken and set aside. Place the lemon slices in the pan and cook 2-3 minutes on each side until golden. Remove from the pan. Add the chicken broth to the pan and whisk, scrapping up any little bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the chick peas and add the chicken and lemon back in. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and simmer until thickened and the chicken is cooked through - about 5 minutes total. Turn off the heat and add the spinach.

Orzo and rice pilaf

This was wonderful! I saw a recipe for something similar somewhere recently and did not copy it down or print it out at the time so I could not remember where it was that I saw it. Shame on me. So, I thought I would just "wing it" and make my own and it turned out great! I used my chef's intuition for the proper ratios. This make a lot! Like 8 servings, I think?

1 cup of long grain white rice (you could use brown but that would change the cooking time a lot)
1 cup of orzo pasta (if you don't know, orzo is rice shaped pasta, I think it is Greek)
3 cups of water
1 small onion, diced small
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Heat a large sauce pan over medium high heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add the rice and orzo and cook it, stirring often until slightly golden brown, maybe another 3 minutes. Add the water and salt and bring to ta boil. Once the liquid boils, reduce the heat to a low simmer and place a lid on the pot. Simmer the rice for about 20 minutes. All of the liquid should absorb in that time and both the rice and pasta should be tender.

This dinner was very easy to make, even making the pita bread at the same time. The only snag in making this was that I had the pilaf on and cooking and everything sliced up for the chicken, except for the chicken. I like to cut the chicken last since I don't want to wash or change the cutting board more than once. Anyway, I opened my chicken to find it was spoiled! I was really upset. Lately, I have thrown away chicken twice, sausage twice and bacon once all from a local store because it was spoiled 1 day after purchasing. I will not be buying ANY meat at that store in the future. I think that it is ridiculous to charge so much for food and then it is not even wholesome! Instead, I went to the Giant (yes, that's the name and the description of the store) that is 25 miles away (one way) for meat and produce yesterday. I am always amazed at how much better the food quality is at the larger stores. It is worth the trip for the selection and great prices, not to mention the lack of rotten food. I just wish it didn't take 2 hours to grocery shop. Oh well, the husband and I made a fun time of it. I sometimes think we could have fun absolutely anywhere.