Monday, June 29, 2009

It's a process

Earlier in the year, I put the smack down on all things white flour. I read the ingredients on every label for bread, cereal, crackers, and snacks to ensure that the it was indeed made with 100% WHOLE wheat. The first ingredient needed to read Whole wheat.
It wasn't as easy it seems, and we had to make a few switches for the good cause. I purchased a great whole grain cookbook and have made muffins, cookies, and other goodies and you really wouldn't know that I had replaced the refined white stuff with whole wheat goodness. I am currently working on mastering the art of a great whole wheat sandwich bread.

This one simple change led to other healthy choices, most recently the ban of hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup.

Someday I will tell you about partially hydrogenated/hydrogenated oils, but suffice to say they aren't good for you and we won't be partaking in them any longer. There is a reason the FDA started forcing trans fat to be listed on nutrition labels a few years ago.

For many the jury is still out on high fructose corn syrup, but I don't really trust the Sweet Surprise commercials. I mean sure it's made from corn, but french fries are made from potatoes and last I checked no one was encouraging us to eat those.

Cutting out foods with these items seemed like the obvious thing to do. Actually doing it was a process. I spent so much time reading labels, that I think the staff at Publix were worried I would never leave.

The ingredients seemed to pop up everywhere. Even the things that seemed ok before are now banned. My normal coffee creamer has partially hydrogenated oil, the cereal bars that seemed like a decent snack have both high fructose corn syrup and partially/hydrogenated oils, even ketchup has high fructose corn syrup. I think I spent 10 minutes reading every wrap label until I found a sandwich wrap without shortening or hydrogenated oils. It was frustrating.

The search for all the answers and ok foods just led to one conclusion: eliminating, or at least cutting way way back on processed foods.

I guess I should be clear here. Lots of things are processed. Milk is considered processed since it is pasteurized to kill bacteria, frozen vegetables can considered processed. I think we all know what I am getting at though. Here is what we are avoiding
  • canned foods with lots of sodium
  • white breads and pastas made with refined white flour, which are not as healthy as those made with whole grains
  • most packaged snack foods, like chips and cheese snacks
  • high-fat convenience foods, like cans of ravioli
  • frozen fish sticks and frozen dinners
  • packaged cakes and cookies
  • boxed meal mixes
  • sugary breakfast cereals
  • processed meats

I won't say it was simple, but with a bit of planning we have done well. I was never a fan of boxed meals and I cook dinner 5-6 nights a week, so most meals weren't an issue. The occasional grab and go breakfast would be tricky, as well as snacks.

Processed foods are a convenience. It's easy to grab a granola bar or snack pack on the way out the door. The best advice I can give is to plan. Each Sunday, I spend a bit of time preparing easy yummy non processed foods for the week for snacks and/or breakfasts. It's time well spent in my opinion.

My unsolicited advice:
  • Try plain yogurt and add your own fruit or a bit of honey to it. Greek yogurt is amazing and when combined with some berries makes a great breakfast. The brand we recently found makes a vanilla flavor that I love with no HFCS
  • Figure out your favorite convenience (processed) food and see if you can make it yourself. I am not claiming that everything I prepare is extremely healthy, but I like that I know what is going into the food.
  • Portion out the healthy alternatives you create into single servings. The recipe below does that. I also make a fruit salad and place it into individual servings in reusable containers. Jim can grab one to eat at the office if he is running late, and its nice to have it all ready when you want a snack.

Remember that granola/cereal bar that is now banned from our diet? Well, it has been replaced with this yummy favorite. (you didn't think I would leave you without a recipe did you)

Granola Bites

1/3 cup almond butter * (see notes)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup *
2 egg whites
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
2 1/2 Cups low fat granola*
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 250
Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray

In bowl, whisk together almond butter and maple syrup

Add egg whites and spice and whisk again until smooth

Stir in granola and raisins

Divide mixture evenly into muffin cups.

Bake for 45 minutes on center oven rack. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on wire rack before removing from muffin tins.
Store in airtight container

* You can use natural peanut butter if you prefer. Almond butter is sold at most grocery, but I get the best deal at Whole Foods since they have several brands to choose from. Regular peanut butter has hydrogenated oils, so we avoid it. If texture is an issue, check a natural food store, deli or market. They now make a lot of different varieties of a more natural peanut butter, including no stir varieties that are much creamier and do not have to be refrigerated. Earth Balance is a good one
* You want pure maple syrup. Imitation syrup is basically maple flavored corn syrup
*Watch the sugar content in your granola. Granola with added fruits and raisins may make these two sweet. I buy the granola in bulk. Our favorite is pumpkin flax sold in the bulk section at Whole Foods

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Daring Kitchen Challenge- Baking

Bakewell Tart/Pudding

A bakewell tart starts with a sweet shortbread crust, topped with fruit spread (such as lemon curd, fruit preserves or jam), and it finished with frangipane (a sponge like like filling with ground almonds)

Sweet shortcrust pastry

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes


125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is light yellow in color and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow color.

Assembling the tart

Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatized for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish. When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.


  • Jim and I both really liked this dessert. Often times desserts are just to heavy and/or rich for me.
  • I was nervous when I pulled my tart out of the oven because it was so dark. It should be a little tan but I thought mine was too dark. I used wheat flour (that's all we use here) and think that may have contributed to it, however, it tasted great. Not at all burnt or too done
  • The recipe states to chill dough in freezer at least 30 minutes. I lost track of time doing other things around the house and mine sat in the freezer for a few hours. It was rock hard when I pulled it out. I had to give it about 30 minutes to get to a consistency to work with.
  • I would definitely make this again

If you like to cook and/or bake, you should pop over to the daring kitchen and see what its all about. You can join as a baker, cook, or both (like I did). It is great way to develop and test new skills without the fear of being judged or critiqued. Most importantly, it's fun!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lets travel - part two: Paris, days one and two

We left Amsterdam Wednesday morning and arrived in Paris around 1:00.

After Jims failed attempt at skipping the taxi line, a 45 minute walk with luggage and carry-on, and a series of count to ten moments, we arrived at our apartment. Jim, the great researcher found a good deal on an apartment that was close to the action, the metro, and cost less than a hotel. The apartment experience was just ok. It wasn't awful, but we wouldn't do it again.

There are just little things that I missed from a hotel. New, fresh towels everyday, knowing if something goes wrong you call the front desk and right away it's fixed. Also, we were traveling for two weeks and thought it would be nice to be able to pack a little lighter since the apartment had a washer and dryer. Here's the catch...dryer, means drying rack. Yeah, that makes a difference. Like I said, it wasn't horrible, but a definite learning experience.

After settling in, we found some lunch (croque madame was delightful) and made our way to the Eiffel Tower. It was my first experience in Paris and I was so excited to see it all.

After the trip to Eiffel Tower, along with some walking and sightseeing, we made our way to dinner. In case you didn't know, I am a foodie (I could go on and on). A lot of our time in Paris was focused on food. I had lists of places to eat. Most people search hotels and attractions. I search for food experiences.
Night one was fallafel. If you think I am kidding, check here (where there are actually several posts on the place) or here. The line was long, but moved fairly quickly and was well worth the wait. Be prepared when you get up to the counter. They are very friendly, but not exactly patient.
I didn't get a picture of the fallafel and that is probably a good thing, because I am hungry just thinking about it, so a picture would be torture.

Thursday started with warm croissants (chocolate filled) and coffee. Then it was off to Fat Tire Bike Tours for a day bike tour. Jim and I are not exactly museum people. It just doesn't do it for us. The bike tours were perfect for us. You got to see the big sites (Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Ecole Militaire, etc.), and learn fun facts about them, but you skip the lines and the actual museum. Even if museums are your thing, I would highly recommend the tour on one of your first days in Paris. You learn a lot, get great tips, and it can help to decide what you want to see later in your trip. Like this tip...If you spent 60 seconds looking at each and every item in the Louvre twenty four hours a day, seven days a week it would take you 9 1/2 months to see it all. Yeah, they pack a lot in that place.

We ended the day with a stop to visit my two favorite men, Pierre Herme and Pierre Marcollini, followed by a visit to Notre Dame, and a delightful dinner.

Have you ever had a macaron? In France? O-M-G! For the record, I am not talking coconut macaroon. I am talking delicious, amazing, flaky then soft and slightly chewy goodness.

Notre Dame took my breath away. I had to just stop and stare. We stepped in, grabbed a mass schedule and walked around adoring the history and embracing its beauty.

We packed quite a bit into our first day and a half.

Here are few more pictures (not sure why some are so small). Enjoy

I was totally THAT tourist. And I loved it!

My amazing husband (for seven years now)

Lets start biking!
Luxor obelisk

Notre Dame
Stained glass at Notre Dame
The Louvre (its huge)My favorite picture of the Eiffel.

We love taking our own pictures!

Up next: Paris, days three and four.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Some announcement

The saga of Jon and Kate.

I debated on this post. A lot. The thing is, I feel so strongly about last nights stunt, that I have to blog about it.

I tried to stay above it all and not feed into the papers, and magazines, and E Entertainment channel specials, and pure greed. I really, really did. But, I fell of the wagon. I honestly have not watched the show since the first season. Once it started being all about product placement, free trips, hair transplants, and constant nagging and fighting for the sake of free stuff and money.

Before I get slammed, I know that they love those kids. The kids are well taken care of. What is debatable is what you consider "well taken care of". I wouldn't think the kids were neglected if they wore hand me downs that didn't match. I wouldn't judge any ones parenting if the kids didn't have a huge house, crooked play houses, or countless trips to museums, ski resorts, and amusement parks. When you look back on your life, do you remember and cherish the material possessions or the moments of ease and peace and happiness with your family? I remember making chef boyardee pizzas from a box on Fridays nights with my family. I remember the family vacations where we drive for 7 hours to Michigan to spend time with my grandparents. I remember my parents meeting my aunt or grandparents at the Arbys in Flint (the halfway point) to do vacation drop offs. Sure I also remember finally (after what seemed liked years of begging) waking up Christmas morning to a swatch watch (wow, I'm old), and a Guess sweatshirt, but that isn't a moment played back on the highlight reel.

When it started, it was probably really about the kids. Then, once it all starts rolling in, its pretty easy to justify it all by saying "its for the kids". A huge million dollar home is for the kids? My mom grew up sharing a tiny tiny room with three sisters and she turned out just fine. There were six kids, two adults, and one bathroom. If you can overcome that, you can overcome anything. Really though, is it all for the kids?

They can't say this show didn't change them. It's clear that it did. And while that may have been good in some ways and bad in others, it's reality. They also can't really say that the show and the fame and all that comes with it didn't impact the demise of the marriage. No more than any of us can say how changing one event in our life would shape the rest. That is why I don't ever play the whole "if you could change one part of your life, what would it be game". The answer is obvious for me. Then again, that one change, would change everything else. Life isn't a puzzle that allows you to change out one piece for another. At the end of the day, every action has a consequence. Some good, some not so good.

When TLC teased a special announcement, a quote "decision to bring the family peace." I vowed wouldn't watch. Then I thought, maybe these two finally get it and to me "family peace" meant stopping the show. Stepping away from it all, regrouping, getting help and trying to save a marriage and family. Would it have paid off? I don't know, but I think anyone who takes a vow of marriage and then proceeds to bring child into that union ought to fight with every fiber of their being to make it work. If you can say you tried it all and it didn't work, then who can fault you for that. I don't know that I agree with staying together and living a lie, a union filled with hate, anger, and bitterness, but I know that every kid deserves to have someone fight for them. To step back from it all and put them first. Every child deserves to have someone who will try to write their life story filled with peace and love.

We all experience pain in some form or another. I was picked on at school, and watched my mom fight, and eventually lose a battle to cancer. I have close friends whose parents have divorced, under both civil and not so civil terms. Each persons painful experience is different. No matter how you look at it, pain is pain, and no one can shield children from facing pain and adversity in their life. On the other hand, you can try and contain the damage.

The older girls are 8, and can certainly read. Their friends and classmates can read. And if they have a computer at home, they can access youtube, hulu, and various other sites. That means that they can read that magazine headline "We might split up", or "Jon is a dirt bag", and "Kates is a control freak". Who wants to go to school and be faced with all of that. Who needs more to add to the list of scrutiny that kids already face. And more importantly, who wants to have an on air account of their parents playing he said, she said and announcing the demise of their marriage. I don't know first hand the pain of divorce. I do know from many close to me that it resonates through your life. I can say with great certainty that most don't want to think about those first moments of learning about divorce, and they definitely don't want to be able to watch it over and over again on youtube.

No one stopped to contain that damage. Why didn't anyone think, maybe selling my story to People magazine isn't best for my kids. Why didn't anyone think that perhaps playing the victim might make you feel better, but it only makes your now ex spouse look bad to your children. Who cares who wins, who cares who did what first. What matters is that your kids deserve peace.

I can't and won't say that I know what is best for this family. It may be true that two happy parents living apart is better for them than two unhappy parents living together. However, I can say and will stand behind my stance that announcing your separation, and subsequent divorce for the world to see isn't fair to your kids. Using the separation announcement as a rating play isn't fair or respectable. I won't waiver on that.

I fell off the wagon and watched last night because I was truly hoping that they would announce they were ending the show to try and focus on their family. I am disappointed I watched.

The more I think of it, I realize that maybe my post is just more fuel to the fire. Maybe it feeds into the viscous cycle. And maybe it's none of my business. Then again, they kind of made it my business when they invited me and millions of others to see it all play out.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Lets travel - part one: Getting there and Amsterdam

In May, Jim and I took a trip that we had dreamed of for years. It finally come to fruition after lots of saving, planning, and research. Because after all, I am married to the man that researches Consumer Reports before buying a bottle opener. That is another story for another day.

Needless to say, after recent events, I was more than ready for a trip away. Away from real life, away from Florida humidity, and away from range of Jim's blackberry service. Seriously!

So, where did we go, you ask? Amsterdam, Paris, and NYC. I am a lucky lucky girl.

My only concern was the flight. I am a bit of nervous flyer. And by a bit, I mean crazy nervous. The quick two hour flight from West Palm to Cleveland is old hat to me, but 8 hours overnight to Amsterdam? A bit scary. So, one Lunesta and sedative later, I was good to go. So good in fact, I fell asleep at takeoff and woke up in time for breakfast just before landing.

I could go on and on about British Airways Open Skies, but who wants to hear about the flight? Well ok...Let's just say, Open Skies is all business class (or better), huge, fully reclining seats, great staff, and awesome food. When we boarded the plane for the night flight we were handed a glass of champagne, an eye mask, ear plugs and sleeping socks, as well as a really nice comfy cozy blanket. I felt high class.

There really is no other way to fly. Jim secured some crazy good deal (I wonder if it had to do with all that research he does), but I was hooked. About the food. It is real food. I didn't eat on the flight to Amsterdam, but on the way home, we had a meal that consisted of an appetizer, main dish, and dessert (all served in courses), and a small snack just before landing. This was good food people. I hope Jim is realizes that this is the flying experience I am now accustomed to. I mean, don't show a girl the good life and then snatch it away.

Amsterdam was gorgeous. We stayed at a hotel with the tiniest winding staircase. No elevators in the place and I nearly fell going both up and down the stairs many times. Still, the staff was nice and our rate included yummy breakfast each morning. Does anyone know the secret to yogurt in Europe? It is good stuff. We spent the two days there relaxing, taking walks together, and enjoying being away on a vacation together, alone.

We toured the Heineken brewery, relaxed, visited pubs, and joined a group GUIDED, INFORMATIONAL tour of the red light district.

Let's discuss what everyone wants to know about Amsterdam.
Every person who I told about our trip asked this question as soon as I completed my sentence. "Are you going to go to a coffee shop?
It actually got a little annoying, and here is why.
Amsterdam is full of charm, history, amazing architecture, and gorgeous canals and landscapes. The people there are friendly and kind and we spent one afternoon just sitting at a restaurant people watching and chatting. Coffee shops are an actual legitimate business there and people treat it as such. There rules about the amount sold, who it can be sold to, etc. It's strange to me that someone would actually go to Amsterdam just for that. We weren't going to Amsterdam because of legalized pot, and I can't imagine anyone really does. I don't want to get into whether I support or am against legalization, I just think its too bad that it's what Amsterdam is know for.

We spent two days in Amsterdam, and although I took tons of pictures from the trip, not a lot were from Amsterdam because we kept it low key.

Here are a few pictures.

One of the canal photos. And no, there is no guard rail for those cars.

See this waffel stand? I bought a waffel there Sunday night. Monday morning the place was shutdown, and Tuesday it was gone. Sorry guys!

At the Heineken Brewery. We like to dress like that on vacation. And look at my arms...I have been working out.
A stop at the Old Bell Pub. We stopped there more than once.
That crazy staircase.

Stay tuned for part two: Paris memories

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chicken Fried Rice - Dinner is served

Tonight's dinner is an old standby that we enjoy. Its easy, quick, and best of all...good!
Chicken fried rice. The picture isn't that great. It really doesn't do it justice. I need to brush up on my food photography skills.

Cut chicken cutlets into small pieces. Cook until done. Add the green onions and cook for about a minute. Transfer to a bowl.

Meanwhile, get your rice cooking. It's no secret I use boil in bag rice. You will need two bags for this recipe.

Once you have removed the chicken and green onions, get the eggs cooking. You want to get them to a nearly dry scramble.
Here's my tip for the day: Poke your egg with a fork a couple of times to get it to start to break, then whisk. I also add about a teaspoon of water to the eggs.

Add the chicken and onions back to the egg.

Finally, add your rice and soy sauce. Stir together and serve.

Chicken Fried Rice

2 bags of boil in the bag rice (or 2 cups uncooked rice, cooked)
1 Tablespoon butter
1 package chicken cutlets or 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
2 eggs, beaten
2 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce

Heat butter in skillet. Cook chicken until done. Add green onions and cook for about one minute. Place chicken and onions aside.

Add eggs to skillet and cook to a slightly dry scramble.

Add chicken and cooked rice back to skillet and combine.

Add soy sauce, stir together and serve.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Divine Dessert

Sundays are special for Jim and I. We pick a new recipe and cook together. We have made homemade, fresh pasta, chicken schawarma, crab cakes, just to name a few. We split up the chopping, mixing, and stirring and spend the afternoon around the kitchen island. We have a great time together and I look forward to it all week. This past weekend we made Giadas egg, gorgonzola, and pancetta sandwiches and a scrumptious dessert - bread pudding. We stepped it up and made pecan praline sauce, then topped it all off with homemade whipped cream. Lets pause, shall we and discuss homemade whipped cream.
Homemade whipped cream is amazing. It is super easy to make and it is just so much better than store bought whipped topping. (notice how its called topping not cream.). If you have not experienced the this treat, I demand that you make yourself a pie, and top with some homemade whipped cream. Or just eat the whipped cream on its own with some coffee for breakfast. I have heard that is really good. From a friend of a friend.
Don't be scared....I'll walk you through it.

Bread Pudding: (recipe follows)

Get your bread ready

Give it a nice bath in some milk, eggs, and spice

The yummy yummy in the tummy finished product. Holy was good!

Bread Pudding

6 slices day old bread *(see my notes)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup raisins, optional *
4 eggs beaten
2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
t teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.
Break bread into pieces and place in an 8 x 8 pan. Drizzle melted butter over bread. If using sprinkle with raisins
In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread and lightly push down bread until all bread is covered and soaking up mixture.
Bake for 45 minutes or top springs back when lightly tapped.

Pecan Praline Sauce

1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 stick butter
1tsp vanilla
1 cup pecans (pieces or halves)

Combine corn syrup, brown sugar, and butter in heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil gently* for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until candy thermometer reads 210 degrees. Remove from heat, add vanilla and stir well. Stir in pecans. Cover and refrigerate unused portion. Or eat with a spoon directly from saucepan. It's totally up to you.

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream (bet you don't see that in the whipped topping ingredients list)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

In large chilled bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Make sure not overbeat*

Serve with your favorite dessert, or breakfast. Again...its up to you.

*I use cinnamon raisin bread. I did shop until Sunday morning, so I just pulled the bread out and let it sit for a few hour to get a little stale.
* Since I used cinnamon raisin bread, I didn't add additional raisins
* When making the sauce, be sure to keep an eye on it. If you scorch the sugar, its over. Low and slow. Slow and steady wins the race
*You need to whip the cream at a relatively high speed to get it just right. It's right when you have peaks that start to form and then fall over. If you overbeat it, the cream will become lumpy and butter like.

Monday, June 15, 2009

No Iron, No Cry

Dear any shirt manufacturer that makes a non no-iron shirt:

Perhaps you don't iron. Or its just that you since you are crazy rich shirt manufacturers you have someone else iron your non no iron shirts, leaving you ignorant to the difficulties involved.
Maybe its just some sick twisted game you play. You like the non no-iron shirt. You revel in how wrinkled it is even if you pull it out of the washing machine the moment it stops it's cycle. You sit back and cackle at the fact that it seems as if someone purposely snuck into the wash and manually put thousands upon thousands of wrinkles in the shirt. I bet you sit around a table eating fancy catered lunches cracking up about how some poor sweet wife irons the front of a sleeve only to put those wrinkles back in the shirt once she irons the back. It's mean how you have no regard for the kind sweet wife who spends 30 minutes of her day getting that shirt nice and crisp. The stock price for Magic Sizing probably soared as I ironed that shirt, spraying it over and over. You two are probably in cahoots. You should be ashamed!

Then again, what idiot buys a non no-iron shirt anyhow?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

My first daring cook challenge - Potstickers

I recently joined the Daring Kitchen - a group the tests your baking and cooking skills each month with a new challenge. What is great about this group is that there is that you try a new recipe each month and learn and develop new skills. It is a fun, non judgemental group. You can post in forums for tips and help with the challenge. Everyone is in it for the love of the food and cooking and baking.

This months cook challenge was hosted by Jen at Use Real Butter and called for you to make Chinese Dumplings/Potstickers. You had to make the wrappers yourself (no cheating by purchasing store bought wrappers).
I made the wrappers using whole wheat flour and filled them with a pork filling. They turned out great. Pleating the wrappers was a bit of a challenge for me, but all in all it was great recipe and a delicious meal!

The filling - Ground pork, bamboo shoots, green onions, ginger, shitake mushrooms, and cabbage

Getting the dough together
First disc of dough for wrapping

My dumpling - not the best pleats, but they will do

Dinner is served. Nice crispy bottoms. Served with dipping sauce and broccoli slaw.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It's not you, It's me

Writers Workshop #3

It's been two months. I know, two months!
I am sorry. Things just got rough, and then we went on vacation and one thing leads to another and I start to think...."Should I even start up again?"

Where do I start, what do I say.
Then, I remember why I started. For me, for an avenue to vent and release and be me through some writing. I love comments, I really really do. Hopefully I will lure you all back.

I lost my job, and three weeks later, my grandpa. He wasn't just any grandpa. He was a friend (for real), and so many memories of my childhood have him in them.

Those two losses got me down. Really down. My friends and family know that I am not one to not have something to. I stay active. (not the exercising, healthy active - the always doing something kind of active). I can't sit still, I need to multitask and I like to squeeze as much in to my day as I can.

Well, after those couple of weeks I did nothing. I sat around watching movies, sleeping, reading the gossip columns. It was depressing. Really. I allowed myself to be that way for a while until I had a little "meltdown". Jim, my sweet loving Jim, assured me it was ok. I was grieving two losses (one more important than the other). I felt a little better, but by then, it had been a month away. Next thing I knew we were off on a dream vacation we had saved and planned for. I got back, and by then it had been over one and a half months away.

You get the idea. It got crazy, life got in the way. I was nervous to come back, but I am here. I hope you all still like me!

Thanks for the prompt Kathy!