Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Closing out June


2009 is one half gone. In many ways I have accomplished a lot, and in others, not so much. I guess that is a part of the everyday life we all live. When we look back, there was more and there was less.

Today at work I completed month end close, as well as my regular work. Then it was time to hit the freeway and come home.

Nice weather, summer time and guess what? Crowded freeway. My usual commute of 30 minutes was doubled to an hour. There was a nice breeze, so not all was terrible. I had an errand to run before coming home, so that made my home arrival about 7pm.

Fed the cat. Feeding him cannot wait! He will rub up against your leg constantly until fed. So it is just as easy to get that chore out of the way and eliminate the fall hazard.

Watered the garden and picked some berries. They are in the freezer now.

Honey came home for his meal break. We did out usual "how was your day" routine. Ate some leftovers and then He returned to finish his shift. Today is his Friday, so he is getting to the tired stage.

The flag is blowing in the breeze, the wind chimes are providing a nice melody. And my daughter and I spoke today and she would like to join me in preparing the Sunday Cafe meals. She is a very good cook, not shy in the kitchen, very adventuresome. This will be added fun as well as some time together.

Funny how all the time you thought you would spend together is somehow used up on everything else. But starting this second half of 2009, Sunday Cafe is something else!

As always, thanks for stopping by!

M

Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday night brights

I picked this fresh to put in the rhubarb pie. I added it to what had been picked earlier and put in the freezer. When the plants mature and start producing, maybe I will have enough rhubarb, I sure hope so! There are so many things I want to do with it, relish, chutneys and combination fruit and rhubarb jams. I am thinking raspberry and rhubarb with a splash of Port wine.

Just a little tip, keep your pastry cloth and your stocking covered rolling pin in the freezer between uses. They are always ready and you just never know when the need for pie will strike.

I wish I could say I grew these (maybe on of these days) but these are from Costco, yum. 7 bags of lightly sugared berries to enjoy this winter.

OK (please) don't laugh, when I pick the berries I clean them and freeze them. I hope to have enough by season's end for a batch of each jam. You have heard of the little engine that could, I am the big Grammy that hopes!

A fun surprise. A gift from (Son and DIL) the kids. Garlic dipping oil, herb blends and a carry bag. They brought it to Sunday Cafe. I see bread on the menu next month.

A new flag for the front area. I like a flag displayed at my home, always have. I have loved our flag since grade school, and felt special pride when I learned to fold one in Girl Scouts. This was the right time to get it done with the 4th just around the corner. Thanks to Honey, he got it done before going to work.

This week is a 4 day work week. I am always glad for the short week, but whew the back up and back log of what needs to be done once I go back makes me re think the whole idea of a short week. But here we are on the front side, so the whole idea looks good again!

As always, thanks for stopping by.

M

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Cafe

What a wonderful day! I actually pulled this one off, I made everything I had listed and it all came out beautiful, flavorful and everyone had a nice time.

For dessert we had:
Chocolate chip applesauce cake, from Nobel Pig (served with French vanilla ice cream)

Drop it raisin cookies, from zestycook.com (these are very very good, but I was thinking a mocha glaze next time)

Sour Cream Rhubarb pie, Closet cooking. (served with whipped cream) This rhubarb is from my backyard, can you tell I am proud of my little potager?

For starters:

Chicken and peanut meatballs, from the Perfect pantry. (tasty, I did not add much "heat" with the granddaughter, I will up the heat next time)

Marinated Mozzarella Pearls, from Kayln's Kitchen (not a good shot, sorry)

A simple melon platter. You can never go wrong with melon, the berries & mint are from the backyard.

For salad:
Collard slaw, from A chow life. ( this is good, and a nice change of pace from regular cole slaw)

Garbanzo and Feta, from Tastingspoons.com (this is so very good, lots of garlic but lots of parsley too!)

Sidedishes:

Potato and vegetable mash, from Kayotic cooking (This is so good and can be varied depending what you have at the time. )

Zucchini pancakes. I have been making these for years. Originally from the back of a box of Bisquick, now I use my homemade biscuit mix.

Main dishes:

Marinated Flank steak, from the Perfect pantry. ( this was grilled "rare", then sliced on the diagonal, yum.)

We also had roast chicken, however I did not get a shot of it before it was cut. The pan drippings were used for a reduction sauce with Marsala wine added and lightly thickened for the potatoes.


Then there is the rest of the story:

dirty dishes needing washed, and compost waiting to go outside.

Stuff everywhere waiting to be put away, cleaned up or thrown out!

Leftovers waiting to be put away.

Dessert course still sitting on the table, some cake went home, but that pie never stood a chance!



This load is ready to go, all the other stuff sitting on the counters will be hand washed. We'll be eatin' good in the neighborhood for a couple of nights with the leftovers. There are homemade cookies in the cookie jar, for some reason that always makes me happy. It is really home, with cookies in the cookie jar.

Another nice Sunday spent doing what I like, cooking and having great times with the family.

As always thanks for stopping by, what's that!!? I think I hear some dishes calling my name...

M

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday night and I did not want to come home!

I know what your thinking, yeah it's Friday night, the weather is warm, Honey is working late, what is she doing exactly?

Well some people see red, I buy it. You see, my kitchen is red. I have red crocks for the utensils, red bowls and colanders to prep food and serve from, red silicone spatulas, even a red crockpot.

But red is coming to an end. I know, I can't believe it either. How could they? It sure would of been nice of them to ask me, because I was not done. I was not done getting enough red. I know what you are saying.....

"for Pete's sake Melynda, how on earth do you know red is coming to an end?".

Because red is on clearance at regular retailers and showing up at places like Marshalls and TJ Maxx. And soon the stock of red will be gone. Gone I tell you. And then what will I do? That is why I am in a red buying frenzy.

Just to clarify; for me more than one thing in my cart except for food, is a frenzy.

Tonight I got a red table cloth on sale (clearance really, they will not restock) at IKEA, and some potholders. And I found an open salt cellar at Marshall's (but I will use it for scrubbies at the kitchen sink, because the inside is glazed) and my rare and very timely kitchen prize,
-------A red gallon size indoor composter-------------. But then...................

I had not even decided to get a cart,
until I saw it,
on the lower shelf,
all alone and,
waiting for me.

And do you know why I knew it was waiting for me?

Well OK, but I will tell you anyway.

I have shopping karma. You know how some people have parking karma, or green light karma when they are running late, or I easily lost 2 or 3 pounds karma?

Well, I have shopping karma.


I am not a shopper (see frenzy, above), it is not my hobby. But I will get this gentle thought to stop on the way home and it will be there. I never know what it will be, because I really do not need anything (well ok, I need more red) but I will find something that I wanted, and it will be at a really good price. Or my favorite, no longer available at regular retailers.

Do you know how I know it is karma? Because if you stop every night it is definitely not karma, it is a problem!

But here is the biggest secret, about tonight. I fell in love at Marshalls. I have not told Honey, I will of course one of these day. He does deserve to know he is still very very important, but for a while I love this first, shhhh!

Karma, it does a heart good!

Thanks so much for stopping by,

M

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Shop from the pantry first, except

I have a menu set for dinner on Sunday, and now I need to work on the grocery list. However I have made the decision to "shop" from my pantry before I go to the grocery store. I know, I know this is basic common sense. But you know how it can be, every day leading up to a planned event is just as busy as the day before. At some point in time you simply say to yourself......

"I'll just pick it up at the market, we will use what we have later".

I have found, that "later" keeps changing. Why? Because the next time you have a planned event, guess what, you are busy again!

My plan is to get the pantry organized again (there is that word again!) and "shop" for Sunday Cafe and then write up a grocery store list of the remaining items. Honey is on the night shift this week, so it is a good time for this to get done.

Oh My Gosh, here is my disorganized pantry............

This is the center shot, the top shelf is fairly organized and the bottom shelf, is small appliances and jelly jars waiting for more jelly making. This should keep me busy the rest of the evening!

As always thanks for taking the time to stop and say hello.

M

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday night brights

"Visit your local produce counter" I really should explain, the counter space was made possible by the removal of the microwave from the counter to a new yet unconventional spot. So how can you make a small kitchen more user friendly? By freeing up valuable counter space, thereby creating the illusion of a larger kitchen. So we did, see below.

You know those cupboards above the refrigerator, the ones you really do not keep anything of any real need in, you know the ones that are so far back, unless you have 5 foot long arms, you cannot even open the cupboard, let alone grab something from it. Oh you do? And you know that space on the top of the refrigerator, where everything seems to gather, because at the time it seemed like a good idea to put it there. Oh you do, great. Well problem solved. Since the cupboard doesn't really serve a purpose and neither does the top of the fridge, and since we are not able to remodel the kitchen at this moment, we put the microwave up there. The cupboard has not lost any status because it still holds the same inventory of important items, and the top of the fridge is covered. The best part, the counter where the microwave sat, is also free. Free to be a prep area!

I love red peppers, but sometimes they do not get used before they get that withered leathery look. What to do? Roast it on the stove top, let it cool and get it into the freezer until you need a little red pepper to jazz up your next something something.

The raapberries are ripening!

The blueberries are ripening!

And last but not least, the strawberries are ripening!

I am making home fried potatoes with bacon and green onions to go along with some leftovers from the Father's Day BBQ, we are going to settle on the couch and catch a movie.

As always thanks for taking the time to stop and say hello.

M

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day and working on a Sunday

Update: The photos show a beautiful dish, but the taste left me wanting something more. Maybe I am not a fan of Ricotta cheese, or maybe I missed the meat. But I wanted this to be better.

Today I work my weekend shift. I have been choosing the 3rd Sunday for my weekend duty so I can always have the last Sunday of the month for Sunday Cafe. I have been working this way now for 9 months and I finally realized that I should change the weekend when I work to the 2nd Sunday. That way I could arrange my free time better. This would be a cinch to do, I print the calendar that is circulated; to sign up for weekend and manager of the day duties. So I did.

Today is a BBQ at our son's home for Father's day. I am taking a side dish. There will be a lot of folks there, and a good time to share something new. I was intrigued by the Ricotta Fettuccine in the Horn of the moon cookbook. After cooking your pasta, you toss it in a warmed ricotta mixture. A separate dish of Marina sauce is offered along with grated cheese and each person dresses up their pasta as they would like.

Marina is a quick sauce, unlike many that take all day to simmer. However since I work, I will cook it up quickly in the pressure cooker. The recipes suggests a flavored pasta, and I will stop at Trader Joe's after work and get some basil fettuccine. I had noticed there was no salt, as I read the recipe; my additions are in blue.


Ricotta Fettuccine

5 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 c minced onion
1 t basil
1 t oregano
1 T olive oil
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes
dash pepper
1/2 t salt
1 t sugar

1 pound ricotta cheese
1 pound fettuccine
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a 2 qt sauce pan saute the garlic, onion and herbs in the olive oil. Saute gently until softened and golden. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes (break up the tomatoes) and pepper. Simmer a minimum of 2 hours stirring occasionally.

When the sauce has finished.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 2 T salt, cook pasta per package directions. While pasta is cooking, gently warm the ricotta cheese. Drain the pasta well, return to the large pot, add warmed ricotta and toss gently to coat each strand. Serve right away on plates. Pass bowls of Marinara and fresh Parmesan cheese. Each person can fix their pasta as they like.

4 servings is the note at the bottom of the recipe, but this will easily serve 6 as a main dish and 8-10 as a side dish.Happy Father's day to all. You can never have too many helpers, thanks ladies! Everyone had a nice time, it is always an enjoyable time when 3 generations are present.

Thanks for taking the time to stop and say hello.

M

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Maple Cornbread Muffins

"recipes from Vermont's renowned vegetarian restaurant", author Ginny Callan.

I am not a vegetarian, haven't even considered it. But I am a child of the 60's having growing up in Marin County California, and as such I am attracted to ideas or ideals of a different nature. Having been exposed to the colorful world around me at a very impressionable age, I came away with what I consider to be the best of it all. Vegetarian cookbooks seem to fall in that category, for me; a carnivore.

Also they usually have great whole grain baked goods and main dish recipes that are full of vegetables. Both of these items, using more whole grain and eating more vegetables, are sadly on my side bar and have been there for a long time, unable to be deleted; because I have not accomplished either as I cook.

This was another book I was able to pickup for a song, at the local thrift store. The recipe that caught my eye right away was the, Maple Cornbread Muffins. We had these for breakfast this morning, along with bacon and eggs. The maple flavor is very faint, but it is a good recipe for a mostly whole grain baked good sweetened with a natural sweetener.

Maple Cornbread muffins
400 degree oven

1 c whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 c all purpose flour
2/3 c cornmeal
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt2 eggs
1/3 c real maple syrup
3/4 c milk ( I almost forgot this ingredient, you can tell; it is not in the photo!)
1/2 c butter - melted and cooled*

Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Beat eggs, syrup and milk together, beat in butter. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Spoon evenly into 12 prepared muffin tins.
Bake 20 minutes or until golden. Makes 12.

These are good, they are especially good with raspberry jam! They would also be great along side a bowl of soup, chili or a salad.

Recipe rating:  It's Ok. (tasty but not special)

As always, thanks for taking a minute to stop and say hello. We appreciate your time and your wonderful comments!

this post shared with:
weekend cooking @ beth fish reads



*I will substitute coconut oil for the butter, that sounds really good.

Friday, June 19, 2009

TGIF with rain


I usually don't cheer for rain, but I usually don't boo either. It would be a waste of time for each actually, as we get a larger share of rain than a lot of places; and I have more important things to do than be a weather watcher. But tonight is different.

It started raining late this afternoon and I was smitten with the whole idea. Now I know that seems strange but it is because.............................

I like the quiet that the rain brings.

I work in a noisy environment and when I come home I really just want some quiet. Peace and quiet actually, but I will settle for the quiet.

Work is noisy.

We have ringing phones that do not seem to stop,

and overhead paging about who is needed on the phone.

We have various alarms that are meant to help as they sound off when someone is in an unsafe position or area.

We have folks that are not able to do much talking, but they do yell.

We also have folks that do not do much listening, so others apparently need to talk louder and louder.

Then there is a second or third page that is heard over the intercom,

and yet another phone call.

We have Ambulances arriving to help,

we have inquiries about transportation and appointments and medications.

and more phone calls,

and more paging,

and so, I usually just want some peace and quiet when I get home.

I have actually come to realize that I don't want to do much talking when I first get home, I just want to take in some peace and quiet, like it was vital to life.

And I guess really it is. I think the quiet helps me gather myself back, back from the noise.

Thanks for visiting.

M

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Still thinking.......


Yesterday morning proved partially successful, I filled the salad and dessert categories. But then past practice has shown that we never have a shortage of desserts!

I have never nor do I feel compelled to have a spectacular main dish or roast of some sort. Most of my Sunday cafe menus have had fairly simple meat preparation, the fun and creativity is with the sides and salads. Also with a simple cut of meat or main dish, it is easier to get more vegetables into the meal.

I have enjoyed the leftovers from each Sunday cafe. Because of that I learned that cooking on Sunday (every Sunday) gives me a head start with staying on task to eat better. Something I have been working on, and the discipline of cooking keeps me happy.

The economy is to be considered, but for me honestly; I have always cooked with what I have and served it lovingly. So with the economy in mind, there are 2 meats already in the freezer that will be used for Sunday cafe, a package of Tri tip steaks that will be marinated and grilled and a whole chicken* that will be oven roasted.

Entree:

Oven roasted chicken with pan reduction sauce

Beer marinated Tri tip

I also wanted to have another starter, when I saw this I knew I wanted to make it.

Starter:

Herb marinated Mozzie pearls


We are down to the sides. Sometimes this is where I fall flat! I will just throw in some potatoes or cooked rice and then be done with the whole thing. But not this time, I want to so something different here also. Sides can help the food budget, as usually they are very economical. And I am all for being economical, but I want delicious too.

Sides:

Zucchini pancakes, I have not had these in a long time; and they are so good.

Curly endive mash

Buttered corn, because we have some folks that like what they already like; on the table!

Add some chilled wine, milk, coffee and call it dinner.

Whew, now I need to gather all the recipes and start a grocery list. As always, thanks for taking the time to stop by.

M

* I have finally learned to do a little preparation to any whole chicken I am going to freeze. I remove the little sack inside the chicken, rinse the chicken and repackage in a freezer bag. That way in a pinch, I can put a frozen chicken in the crockpot.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Thinking about the next cafe.


I know everyone had a fun time at the last cafe, but to be honest with you; I missed cooking something new. A BBQ is always a fun treat, but my real enjoyment comes in making something new that has caught my eye.

I have given some thought to what will be on the table, come that Sunday and I have seen many wonderful dishes that I would like to try. Here is a few I would like to make.

Salads:

Collard slaw

Garbanzo bean salad

Dessert:

Applesauce chocolate chip cake

Drop it raisin cookies

Rhubarb sour cream pie

Starter:

Chicken and peanut balls

Main Entree:



Sides:


I always need to think about the whole thing, to dream and drool and then make a final menu decision based upon what compliment and go together; and what I will have storage space for. See Honey that side by side refrigerator is something we need!

As you can see, the list is not complete. But it is now time to start getting ready for work.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

M

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday night brights

Granddaughter is riding the "frogger" ride. She likes this one. She had rode this ride the last time we went to Oaks Park.

The ferris wheel is a must with her PaPa. Twelve rides later we were out of tickets and it was time to leave. She rode a wide variety of rides, some tame some wild. Of course she would of stayed until closing.

When we got home and had dinner, she declared she was not even tired. Her PaPa suggested some soft music, this was 5 minutes later!


This is one branch of on of the blueberry bushes, it looks like a good harvest! I am so excited, it has taken me a few years to get this garden going.

The rhubarb is taking off also! I will cut and freeze more stalks this weekend.

This is a branch of marion berries, they also are doing great. There are also raspberries along the fence, they are also doing very well.

Our evening weather is so nice tonight, even the cat wanted out to play. That is rare for him, he is usually too frightened outside in the daylight.

Faded glory, this is the beautiful purple roddie from last week. Time to dead head the blooms and get it cleaned up. Cleaned up the white one in the backyard last night.

This is our wood chopping stump in the side yard. A new tree is growing out the side of the stump.

You just never know what you will find here. As always thanks for stopping by.

M