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New year goals

I do like to reflect on the past and think about things I want to change around the new year – not exactly resolutions, but things I want to work on.

Be healthier – Cook more at home , eat out less, try new recipes, drink less pop/soda, eat more vegetables and fruits, exercise more regularly

Parenting – be more consistent with Bug, be more patient with Bug, set boundaries

Personal – take more time to relax and enjoy life, strengthen my dancing technique, knit/crochet a few things for me (hat and scarf)

Family – do more family-oriented activities, visit or call out-of-town family more often

This seems like a lot now that I have it written down…

I tried a few new things this week.

Spoon dolls from  the Usborne Activity Book

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According to Bug, they are the “princesses who don’t do anything.”  If you have a veggie-tale fan, you will recognize it as a spin off of the ‘Pirates who don’t do anything.’

I made a new recipe given to me at work.

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Double chocolate chip biscotti

2 c flour

1/2 c cocoa powder

1 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

6 T butter, softened

2 eggs

1 c chocolate chips

1 c nuts

Beat butter and sugar together and add eggs, beat.  Mix flour, soda, salt, and cocoa and add to butter mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.  Form into 2 logs and flatten to about 1 inch (rectangle shape).  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes and cut into 1 inch slices.  Place on side and bake 8-10 minutes longer.

I’ve been working on my teal/gray socks in the pointelle pattern.

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But most of my craft time has been spent working on my dad’s “john deere” clogs.  One more bottom, sewing, and felting to go.

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A good start…

In keeping with the good things for each day in January …

Jan 5 recipes in the newspaper (broccoli cheese soup)

Jan 6 a DH that lets me go to knitting on Friday and Sunday

I made the broccoli cheese soup (from The Tennessean who got it from Cooking Light)

I don’t know how long the link will be live, so I copy/pasted the recipe below.

broccoli cheese soup
Broccoli-cheese soup

Makes 6 servings of 1 1/3 cups each

 

Cooking spray

1 cup chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1 (16-ounce) package broccoli florets

2½ cups 2% reduced-fat milk

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

8 ounces light processed cheese, cubed (such as Velveeta Light)

1. Heat a large nonstick saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute 3 minutes or until tender. Add broth and broccoli. Bring broccoli mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes.

2. Combine milk and flour, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add milk mixture to broccoli mixture. Cook 5 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Stir in pepper. Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until cheese melts.

3. Place one-third of the soup in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Return pureed soup mixture to pan.

Calories 203 (28% from fat); fat 6.3 g (sat 4 g, mono 1.8 g, poly 0.4 g); protein 15.6 g; cholesterol 24 mg; calcium 385 mg; sodium 897 mg; fiber 2.9 g; iron 1.2 mg; carbohydrate 21.7 g

and Spinach Chicken from the Ro’s Simple Pleasures cookbook.

spinach chicken

Both were good.

I’ve been working on the alpaca wrist warmers and (re)started Bug’s socks. These socks are going so quickly – I love knitting small things!

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Here are the finished object pictures for the Rosalind DNA scarf for DH. There are 135 rows of 2 grey/2 black for the shadow knitting. It is in Classic Alpaca and took 4 balls total (about 1/3 of 1 ball of grey and 1 ball of black are left) .

DNA scarf, finished

DNA scarf, finished

I’ll leave you with an adorable Bug and Dad picture…

Bug and Dad reading

Cooking reflections

How timely that J at Knitting Group today mentioned the recipe/recipe box post on Mason Dixon Knitting blog today, the ‘reflection on this past year of cooking’ day. I’ve been blessed/cursed to inherit a gigantic amount of recipe-related items such as these little booklets (over 50 0f them) …

cooking booklets

and this handwritten recipe card from someone’s ‘Mama’ – I think it is my great-grandmother’s Mama, but no one can say for sure.

jelly roll

(for those without Eagle Eyes) –

Jelly Roll 

3 egg whites

3 egg yolks

1 c sugar

1 1/2 c flour

2 level teaspoons baking powder

1/2 c warm water

flavoring

Sift flour, measure, add baking powder, sift 3 times. Beat egg whites stiff, fold in sugar, fold in beaten yolks.  Add water and mix in flour lightly.  Bake 25 min in oven 350 or 375.  Spread with tart jelly.  Roll in wet cloth.  – Mama

Before you get all dreamy and nostalgic, here is my recipe/cookbook corner…

cookbook corner

You can see that I have a lot of recipes and I’m always looking for more. I have a worse habit of cookbooks than yarn. I’ve been cooking since I learned how in 7th grade. It is probably no surprise that there are fewer ‘cooking things I learned this year’ and more just recipes I tried.

Recipes/Cooking Things I Tried this Year (the ones I remember)

Fruit salsa (from Chef Walter whose link is “dead,” ok, but needs refinement and perhaps store-bought cinnamon pita chips)

Truffle cake (from Sheri at the Loopy Ewe – rave)

Special K bars (from Sheri at the Loopy Ewe – good, but mine needed more cereal)

Southern pralines (Martha Stewart Living, December issue – rave), coated some in chocolate, too!

Minestrone soup (Martha Stewart Living, some 2007 issue – rave)

Many versions of tortilla soup (none as good as I want)

Paninis (Food TV, Michael Chiarello I think?), we use the grill and an iron skillet
Cooking from my Pantry (the cooking version of Knit from your Stash – rave) -this really upped the ‘creativity factor’ for cooking and eating in the house over the summer.

I don’t recall using any different techniques this year, but I have found a few gadgets that I really like and use often.

My Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

Scooper, bamboo spoons, chopper, mandolin slicer, and adjustable measuring cup from Pampered Chef

Rada knives

Parchment paper

Clothes pins (or closing every kind of bag imaginable, even in the freezer)

Pasta roller

Looking forward, I’d like to try a new recipe each week during the next year. I have a new cookbook (like I need more, ha!) that I got for Christmas from my lovely MIL (Ro’s Simple Pleasures). It is a local cook and book from Paducah. I made some onion soup tonight from it and it was yummy! I’d also like to make a gingerbread house with Bug next Christmas.

In looking at my ‘cooking life,’ I’ve come to realize that cooking is very much a way to share something with others. In particular, baking allows me to show affection and friendship, but it is also a stress reliever for me when I am upset. It sounds funny, but I bake when I am happy and I bake when I am sad.

Finally, what is a post without Bug?
static hair

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Ramblings and a recipe

Even though the semester is done, I’ve been at work both days (not for a “full” day, though).  I’m not going in again until after New Year’s (my goal).  I’m feeling somewhat burnt out at work, so I’m trying to find some peace and replenishment.  I have a tough time finding some kind of balance between work, family, and personal time.

Yesterday I joined a gym in town while the rec center is closed for the break and it was fun to go yesterday.  They have a big movie theater and I watched the end of the last Bourne movie.  I wonder if they only play action movies to keep the pace up.

Today I took Bug to the doctor (waited 45 minutes past the appt time before we even saw the doctor!) to find out she has an ear infection.  We didn’t have an inkling until she screamed non-stop last night about midnight for an entire hour and then woke up screaming again at 3am.  I’m surprised I’m even still awake.  It is a good thing she is cute and loves the cats!

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On the crafty front (the last 2 weeks or so…), I’ve finished one fetching and cast on the second in some lovely alpaca that I bought at the Fiber Festival.
fetching

I also worked on the Rosalind (DNA) scarf for DH.  It currently measures 24 inches (61cm).

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I am hoping to get it done over the break since he bought a winter coat to match it (how nice is that!)  I’m very lucky that he appreciates the things I make for him.  He also likes his felted slippers (clogs).  Also he just handed me a frozen fuzzy navel!  MMmmMmmMm!   I am such a lucky girl.  Here is the “recipe.”

Frozen fuzzy navel

orange sherbet

peach schnaps

vodka (optional, for a strong drink)

The amounts you choose will depend on how strong you want your fuzzy navel.  Scoop some orange sherbet into a blender, add some peach schnaps and vodka.  Blend until the consistency of a thick milkshake.  Enjoy!

Fresh peach pie recipe

The best peach pie I have ever eaten was introduced to me by my MIL. It is from a Paducah-Tilgham school cookbook.

Peach Pie

2 graham cracker pie crusts

1 large container cool-whip, thawed

1 package cream cheese, 8 ounces, softened

1 c confectioner’s sugar

1 small box peach jello

1 c water

1 c fruit juice

1 c sugar

4 T cornstarch

4 c fresh peaches, sliced

In a medium saucepan, mix jello, water, sugar, fruit juice and cornstarch. Cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens. Set aside to cool. Mix cool whip, cream cheese, and confectioner’s sugar in a large bowl and spread half in each graham cracker crust. Top with sliced peaches. Pour the thickened cornstarch mixture over the peaches. Refrigerate until the cornstarch mixture has jelled.

pan, mix jello, water, sugar, fruit juice and cornstarch. Cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens. Set aside to cool. Mix cool whip, cream cheese, and confectioner’s sugar in a large bowl and spread half in each graham cracker crust. Top with sliced peaches. Pour the thickened cornstarch mixture over the peaches. Refrigerate until the cornstarch mixture has jelled.

Recipe and half of the vacation (picture-rich)

The apple-pear salsa Sister made last week was very good. The recipe we used was from Chef Walter, as she didn’t have her original recipe with her. I’m going to make this tomorrow for DH’s birthday and will take a picture. Here it is… with the following alterations/tips:

1. We used walnuts, but thought pecans would be better after tasting it

2. We didn’t use granny smith apples – any work well

3. We used lemon juice and no orange rind mainly because we didn’t have an orange.

Salsa:

4 cups finely chopped granny smith apples
1 cup chopped pear (fresh or canned)
½ cup quartered red grapes
½ cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)
3 TBSP orange juice
1 TBSP brown sugar
2 tsp orange peel

Chips:
6 8″ flour tortillas
cooking oil spray
3 TBSP sugar
1 ½ tsp cinnamon

Directions:
Salsa:
Mix juice, brown sugar and orange peel and set aside. Chop all ingredients and toss immediately with juice mixture so apples won’t brown. Refrigerate about an hour and serve with chips.

Chips:
Mix cinnamon and sugar. Spray both sides of the tortilla with the cooking oil spray. Sprinkle one side with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Stack all 6 tortillas together and then cut into 8 wedges using a pizza cutter (or a good knife). Place on cookie sheets in 1 layer with no overlaps (or they will cook unevenly) and bake for 10 minutes at 350. Watch the chips and turn them once halfway through cooking. Allow to cool.

<Picture added on Aug 12>

apple salsa

I made it with pecans and the orange juice and peel, but it still needs something…. what????

On to vacation…Day one and half of day two.

We arrived in San Francisco on Monday afternoon. I used to be good at flying (actually enjoyed it), but since Bug arrived it scares me for some reason. Anyway, we ate a nice, but late dinner at a pub near Fisherman’s warf (view out the window is below) – the one that started making Irish coffee in the US.

wharf

DH had an Irish coffee, but I veered off the (b)eaten path by ordering a spinach omelet. We then went over to get some chocolate at Ghirardelli square! The dark chocolate with ground espresso beans is awesome!

We then went home and went to bed….

The next day was our Taste of the City tour (North Beach/Little Italy). We rode the trolley (crowded and bumpy) to our meeting place in Little Italy. It was extremely yummy and very interesting. We saw how they roast coffee from the little gray beans,

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and how good, not bitter, it is when fresh roasted in this machine.

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The cappucino at Caffe Roma was delicious! If you are ever near, it is worth the trip!

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We had truffles at XOX, saw a really pretty old church (St. Peter and Paul Church?) with lovely stained glass,

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ate Italian meats and tasted olive oils at a shop (name?) that is located near a lovely flower shop,

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and visited a bread bakery (The Italian French Baking Company), which has excellent foccacia,

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where we got to see the bread ovens,

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and a pastry bakery (The Victorian Pastry Shop) where we sampled eclairs.

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We ended up at the Purple Onion, a tiny comedy club where many famous comics got their starts. DH is telling a joke here…

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This was a whirl wind day, so I’ll stop here and I’ll tell you about Muir Beach and Woods and Sonoma Valley in the next post…