Wednesday, May 31, 2006

EVENT: I'll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours #1

Well Sweetnicks is up to her old tricks. Isn't it fun! Well, what is she going to show you if you show her yours? Your refrigerator. Thank god I just cleaned mine. But you will see I have not done the big grocery shop this week. Basically we have gobs of milks and condiments. At least we have brocolli, strawberries and zuchinni in the drawer.


She also wants to know: Three things in our fridge that always need to be there and Three things that we never have in there.

1- Butter
2- Mustard
3- Milk

1- enough fruit
2- intestines or brain (ick)
3- Never say Never

DAILY REPORT: Wednesday, May 31

Timmy Trying to Stand Up
Timmy Trying To Stand Up

My Timmy said his first words today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOHOO. Oh my god. If you did not know, he has Benign Hydrocephalus. Benign means that it it is not getting worse and he does not need a shunt. But it does mean that he has some brain damage and some major delays and on most things he is tracking at a 12 month age and he will be 2 in July. So back to the best thing! Well, we were working with his Occupational Therapist toda and for many many many months we have been teaching him how to put a wooden block ON TOP of another block. We say "ON TOP" every single time we show him how to do it. And today he said "Om To..p" Oh my god. Then he said it like 20 more times when he was playing with the blocks. I called my husband. I called my mom. I called my dad. Then realized with the three hour time difference I should stop calling people back East. I am BEYOND!!!! This is amazing because Xander who has no delays is a late talker and he gets Speech Therapy once a week. I know he is not all that late compared to some kids but we are hooked into the Early Intervention system because of Timmy and according to all their tests, Xan is 30% or more delayed so he qualifies. Anyhoo, he has Woo Woo(for dog), Buka Bukka(Book), Binka Binka(Binky), Oh No, ah gu(all gone), bebe (baby), buh bye. So really he has words but this makes Timmy not "hopelessly" delayed with speech. I am SOOOOOOOOOOOO happy.

Xander in the Olive Grove
Xander Playing in the Olive Grove

Reluctant Housewife Daily Reports

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

EVENT: Lasang Pinoy #10 - Food Memories

Chef Sam de Leoz is hosting Lasang Pinoy 10th Edition! This month we will be reminiscing about our childhood memories of food.

My Childhood Food Memories are more like snapshots rather than a few minutes of film. But I remember them with fondness.

Age 3ish:
I do have a picture of me beating down dough for bread in my parent’s kitchen in New York City when I was about three years old. So I am not sure if that food memory snapshot derives from that actual photograph or from my conscious memory.

Pounding Down the Dough

I do remember my lunches around that age. I loved Campbell’s chicken noodle soup which is probably why it was the only thing I could keep down at the beginning of my pregnancy with my twins. I remember lots of scrambled eggs. I remember even more spinach. I often wonder if I ate anything else besides these three things but my mother assures me that I did.

Age 5-7ish
For a few years we lived in Savannah, Georgia when I was in Pre-K to 2nd Grade. There was a lunch stand, Clarey’s, that Dad would take me to for lunch when I was in summer school as I was a bit behind and needed to catch up in order to enter the new private school I was to attend for second grade. Well, we would have the most delicious grilled cheeses, potato chips and vanilla milk shakes. I thought my father was a hero. Amazing. He could eat his grilled cheese so fast. I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen and hoped one day I could eat as fast as him. Then I remember my mom dying our eggs green for St. Patrick’s Day. I was just amazed. Then mom made a cold cucumber soup and left in the refrigerator too long and it got some weird gel thing on top and mom and dad told me it was a Mother and it had gone bad. I was glad my mom did not look like that. I went to summer camp and had my first Smore. To that point it had been the best thing I had ever tasted in my life. I really was not allowed any sweets so this sugar rush was beyond exciting. That memory actually is more like a filmstrip than a snapshot.

I remember my Granny fly-fishing in Aspen, Colorado. It was so cool. I guess I was about 5. We would ride horses up into the mountains and stay at this amazing camp where they had teepees. Then one of the guys that worked at the camp would cook the freshly caught trout up in pans over the open fire. I was as dirty and messy as could be and so happy.

After Trout Fishing and Eating

Age 7-10
For a few years we lived with my Granny in New York City. I was in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. Granny used to make me these little frenched lamb chops in a small le creuset skillet. I would sit at this little table in the kitchen and eat my supper while she finished up dinner for the rest of the family ie. the adults. My mom would make little pork chops for me the same way.This is where my repertoire of eggs expanded from scrambled eggs to soft boiled eggs. Granny had the prettiest china egg cups and a fabulous egg shell topper to snip off the top. My Dad, the one with the sweet tooth, would make these AWESOME milk shakes. Haggandaz vanilla ice cream, honey, eggs, and banana. Can we say pure heaven! And I was sitting right there at my little table hoping Dad would give me as big of a glass as his.

But one of the most of important things during this period was that I began to cook. Well experiment is more like it. Someone bought me a Sunset cookbook for kids. I wish I still had it. Well they had a Little Doggy Fruit Salad recipe. I made that a couple of times. You used half a canned pear as the dog’s head in profile. I think a prune was the ear and maybe a maraschino cherry was the nose and a raisin was the eye. The other thing was a take on a Baked Alaska. You used a round frozen waffle. Scooped ice cream on top. Placed mini marshmallows all over the ice cream scoop and then broil for a little bit to brown the marshmallows. This amazed me because ice cream went into the oven! I also made a mystery soufflé. It was sort of a soufflé but it was definitely not meant to be eaten. It was dark dark green. I put just about everything in the kitchen into it. No one, not even me, tried it.

My friend Vicky and I would make meringues all the time at her house. All the time. We were experts. Fluffy. Crisp on the outside and just slightly chewy in the center. Never browned. Perfect. Experts I tell you. To this day I have had many a native French cook tell me that my meringues are perfect. To us, it was pure, unadulterated sugar.

Speaking of unadultared sugar rush. My best friend then and still to this day, Jane, and I hid in my Granny's walk in closet and hid amongst her velvet and brocade gowns. We were hiding because we had taken the plain granulated sugar, the powdered sugar and the brown sugar along with two spoons to decide what was the tastiest. Of course brown sugar won hands down. Jane and I still talk about this afternoon. It is the memory of our time in third grade that we both share.

Then my Granny passed away at the start of 5th grade. It was a terrible thing that happened to our family. She had been very sick for a long time but it was still awful. Then in the Spring, my mom threw her back out after pulling way too many ferns and with the added stress she could not move for a very long time. So, I made her eggs. Of course Dad made food for all of us. But, I felt very strongly that I had to help my mom too. And I made eggs. I would read the directions in the Joy of Cooking. Perhaps, most people would think I was too young to be left in a kitchen over a hot stove by myself and maybe I actually was. But, I knew that I needed to be careful and I was. I remember that clearly. I made scrambled to start then moved onto soft-boiled. Then I started to bake them in a little pyrex ramekin. I remember finding that in the Joy of Cooking and thought it was so cool because I had never had that kind of egg so I was making something new!

I was bitten by the food and cooking bug early. That bug has never left me. And I hope and am sure it never will.

Buhay Cocinero: ANNOUNCEMENT: Food Memories From Childhood

EVENT: HDH#3 - 2 Color 2 Flavor Cookies

I am not a baker. I repeat. I am not a baker. But, why not try? Eat Stuff is hosting Hay Hay it's Donna Day #3!

Don't forget to find all about Donna Hay herself!

We were to work off of one of Donna Hay's cookie recipe to create a cookie with Two Colors and Two Flavors. I made Chocolate and Cardamom Cookies. They were delicious! I have used the combination of cardamom and chocolate in other recipes but not in cookies.

Chocolate and Cardamom Cookies

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RECIPE: Chocolate and Cardamom Cookies

Chocolate and Cardamom Cookies
Chocolate Cardamom Cookie Pile

I made these cookies for Hay Hay it's Donna Day #3. We were asked to base the recipe off of a Donna Hay Cookie.

Chocolate and Cardamom Two Toned Cookies

6 1/2 ounces unsalted butter
1 cup of superfine sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 355F.

Place the buter, sugar and vanilla in a mixer, fitted with a paddle, and process until smooth. Add the flour egg and egg yolk and continue until a smooth dough forms.

Remove half the dough and set aside. Add cardamom to dough remaining in mixer and beat until completely combined. Remove from mixer and set aside. Clean up the bowl a bit.

Place the plain vanilla dough into the cleaned out mixxer bowl. Add the cocoa and milk to the processor and process for 1-2 mins or until just combined. Remove the dough and set aside.

chocolate and cardamom cookie rolls

Roll each flavored dough into a log shapes then wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes until slightly firm. Once firm, unwrap doughs and take a thin rolling pin and make an indent on one side of the chocolate dough. Place the cardamom dough in the groove you just made. Push the two doughs together slightly so they stick together. Re-wrap the combined doughs in plastic wrap very tightly and roll a bit so that it is as even of a log as you can get. Place in the freeze for 30 minutes.

Remove from freezer and unwrap from the plastic wrap. With a sharp knife, cut 1/4" slices. Place on cookie sheets with some room around each cookie so they do not spread into each other. Bake for 10 - 12 mins until crisp and golden. Remove to a cooking rack.

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Monday, May 29, 2006

EVENT: Jihva#2 for Strawberries

Indira from Mahanandi held her first blog event recently, the first in a series called Jihva for Ingredients and this first event features one of the most delicious fruits, the mango. From the Mahanandi Blog:
"What is Jihvā ?Jihvā, the Sanskrit word means taste, desire and deep longing.
This powerful word also represents tongue and taste buds. What is Jihvā for
Ingredients?I believe for Jihvā to happen, it’s all in the ingredients and how
they are cooked. Jihvā for Ingredients (JFI) is online monthly food event,
celebrating the Ingredients and what they can do for our Jihvā."
Indira from Mahanandi held her first blog event recently, the first in a series called
This month The Baking Fairy is hosting Jihva for Strawberries. The thing about strawberries is that I love them so much. I certainly have a Jihva for strawberries. But what to make for this event? Well, I am going to present a simple Strawberry Coulis. But that is not really a dish you say. Well, if you make a strawberry coulis you can freeze it and use it whenever you want and on almost anything you want. This way you can have strawberry whenever you want. Instant gratification is something you have to love. So, have some ice cream? Put a little Strawberry Coulis on it. Grilled some fruit? Put a little Strawberry Coulis on it. Make a chocolate cake? Put some Strawberry Coulis on it. Got an empty spoon? Well you know the drill.


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RECIPE: Strawberry Coulis

Strawberry CoulisStrawberry Coulis

1 1/2 pints strawberries
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons sugar

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Process until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve. Use a rubber spatula to push the juice and the pulp through the sieve. Discard the seeds. Serve immediately or cover and keep in refrigerator for up to three days.

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

EVENT: ARF/5-A-Day #22

This is my first time joining in Sweetnicks famous Antioxident Rich Food Tuesday!

I make Berry Smoothies every weekend so this is a big batch but of course you can just scale it down.

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RECIPE: Berry Smoothies

Berry Smoothies

2 cups Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
1 cup soy milk or milk
2 teaspoons lavender honey
3 bananas
Garnish with mint

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Process until smooth.

Tip: It is really refreshing to used frozen berries and bananas. If you have bananas and/or berries that are starting to get a little old, simply place them in Ziploc bags and freeze. This way there will be no waste and they will already be frozen.

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Saturday, May 27, 2006

EVENT: WHB #34 - Steak with Lavender Thyme Butter

Please check out Kayln’s Kitchen who started and runs Weekend Herb Blogging. Celebrate food with the taste of herbs! This month marks the first month that another blogger will be guest hosting this weekend event and luckily for us it is Ilva from Lucullian Delights and her blog has the most beautiful photographs so make sure you take a look.
For more information please check out Weekend Herb Blogging Archives.

I just take it for granted that I cook with herbs so I really don't notice how many herbs I use during a week or the weekend. So I thought you would enjoy some Steak with Lavender Thyme Butter.


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EVENT: PBE's #1 - Grill of my dreams

Peanut Butter Étouffee is hosting their first Food Blog Event! - Grill of My Dreams. They are celebrating Memorial Day weekend with the Barbeque. So heat up those coals and get smoking! Well we started right away on Friday night with Steak Kebabs with Pineapple Teriyaki Marinade

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EVENT: VRC - Food on a Stick - May 31

Tummy Treasure is hosting this month's Virtual Recipe Club for The Savory Notebook and this month the theme is Food On a Stick.

Kebabs. Not the most imaginary food on a stick. But, I love them. They are easy to prepare because you can use any meat or vegetable and use a dozen or more spices or marinades to flavor them. Oh, and one of the most important components is that they cook really quickly. And, I cook them all the time. Lamb Kebabs with the Three C's is my newest favorite, if you have not heard.

But, I just made these tonight so I thought I would add them too. Steak Kebabs with Pineapple Marinade.


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RECIPE: Steak Kebabs with Pineapple Marinade

Steak Kebabs

Steak Kebabs with Pineapple Teriyaki Marinade
Serves 4

Pineapple Teriyaki Marinade:
1/2 cup pineapple mashed - See Note
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 1/4-pound sirloin steak, cut into sixteen 1-inch cubes
16 cherry tomatoes8 wooden skewers

In a medium bowl combine all the pineapple teriyaki marinade ingredients. Soak wooden skewers in water for 10 minutes. Alternate beef and tomatoes on each skewer so that there are 4 of each on each of the four skewers. Pour marinade over the kebabs and marinate about 30 minutes. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill kebabs until beef is medium-rare about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to platter and serve. The marinade can be made and stored in the refrigerator up to two days in advance.

Note: Do not let sit in the marinade for more than 30 minutes because the enzymes in the fresh pineapple will break the meat down too much. So if you are using a tougher meat then the fresh pineapple is a great meat tenderizer. If you want a heavier pineapple flavor, use canned pineapple.

Remember it is BBQ Season and it is a perfect time to have a party!

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Friday, May 26, 2006

EVENT: Slashfood's Steak Day

Steak! Nothing says carnivore like steak. Slash Food is hosting Steak Day on May 30th. How do I like my steak? Medium-rare and with some butter. I think there is something wrong with me that I need to make a steak more rich. But, I feel that is a whole other issue and we may or may not discuss that at a later date.

So, I am offering up my Steak with Thyme and Lavender Butter.


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RECIPE: Steak with Thyme Lavender Butter

Steaks with Thyme Lavender Butter
Serves: 2

1/4 cup dry vermouth
4 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, well packed
2 teaspoons dried organic culinary lavender
2 garlic cloves, sliced
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
Olive Oil
2 1-inch New York steaks

Combine 2 tablespoons shallots, 1-tablespoon thyme, lavender, and garlic. Chop ingredients until they are very fine and paste has been formed. Press salt and pepper into both sides of the steaks. Then spread the paste on both sides of the steaks. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let marinate for 2 to 24 hours.

Boil vermouth, 2 tablespoons shallot and 1 tablespoon thyme in small saucepan until liquid evaporates, about 2 minutes. Cool completely. Mix butter into shallot mixture. Season the butter with a pinch of salt and pepper. Form butter mixture into log; wrap in plastic and chill until firm. Can be made 3 days ahead. Cut butter into slices. Bring to room temperature before cooking the meat.

Brush large nonstick grill pan with oil; heat over medium-high heat. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper; add to skillet. Cook to desired doneness, about 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Overlap butter slices atop steaks and serve.

Remember it is BBQ Season and it is a perfect time to have a party!

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

DAILY REPORT: Tuesday, May 23

Mothers Day

I love my children more than words can express.

They are so difficult. Fiesty.
They are so loving. Darling.
They are my children. Perfection

EVENT: Flikr Challenge - Tuna Tartare Recipe

Tuna Tartare Bitelettes

Chez Pim posted The Ugliest Photo of Food Ever about a Tuna Tartare recipe published in the New York Times. Well, the ingredients sounded delicious but the photograph was awful. So... Still Life has challenged fellow food bloggers to a new Flikr Challenge to try and make this recipe look as good as it tastes. Needless to say, I am a little more than nervous joining this group of bloggers as many of them are incredible food stylists. To see the other photographs, please see the Flickr Group. But, here goes!

Tuna Tartare


Originally Published:
April 26, 2006 in the New York Times Food Section
Adapted from Gotham Bar and Grill
Yield: 6 servings

10 ounces fresh ginger
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon Tabasco or other hot sauce - OMITTED
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons grape seed or canola oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 garlic clove, minced and mashed to a paste with a sprinkle of salt – SUBSTITUTED WITH ROASTED GARLIC
Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper – SUBSTITUTED WITH BLACK PEPPER

1 baguette, cut diagonally into 18 slices, each 1/8 inch thick
Extra virgin olive oil

1 small head baby frisée, rinsed, dried and torn into 1- to 1½-inch pieces – SUBSTITUTED WITH MICRO-GREENS
½ cup gently packed chervil leaves - OMITTED
1/3 cup gently packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/3 cup gently packed cilantro leaves
1 large seedless cucumber, ends trimmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound sushi-grade yellowfin tuna, well chilled
6 shiso leaves, cut into narrow strips - SUBSTITUTED WITH MINT LEAVES, MINCED
1/3 cup very thinly sliced scallions, white part only
Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper – SUBSTITUTED WITH BLACK PEPPER

1. For the ginger vinaigrette, use a food processor or medium-fine holes of a cheese grater to chop or grate ginger as finely as possible. In batches, wrap ginger in a piece of cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel, and squeeze to extract 3 tablespoons of juice into a small bowl. Whisk in lime juice and hot sauce. Gradually whisk in oil until vinaigrette has emulsified. Whisk in shallot and garlic, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover, and refrigerate.

2. For the croutons, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet, and bake until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Let slices cool, and brush both sides ONE SIDE very lightly with olive oil. Place in an airtight container until needed.

3. For the herb salad, in a medium bowl, toss together the frisée, chervil, MICRO-GREENS, parsley and cilantro. If you wish, use a vegetable peeler or sharp knife to remove strips of peel about ½ inch apart down the length of the cucumber. Using mandoline or sharp knife, cut cucumber into paper-thin slices - OR CUT THE CUCUMBER INTO MATCHSTICK PIECES. Set aside.

4. For the tuna tartare, using a sharp thin-bladed knife and an impeccably clean cutting board, slice tuna into ¼-inch dice. Place in a mixing bowl, and add shiso, MINT, scallions and ½ cup ginger vinaigrette. Toss, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. For assembly, dress herb salad with 3 tablespoons vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste; mix well. Place a 2½- to 3-inch ring mold in center of a chilled dinner plate. Using outside edge of mold as a guide, make a ring of overlapping cucumber slices. Spoon a sixth of the tuna tartare into mold, pressing it down lightly. (If you do not have a ring mold, simply arrange a ring of cucumber slices, and shape a neat mound of tartare in center.) Stand 2 or 3 croutons in tartare, and pile dressed salad on tartare, between croutons. Carefully lift mold up and off the plate. Repeat to make 6 servings. IGNORE and PLATE AS YOU WISH.

Tuna Tartare Plated


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Monday, May 22, 2006

EVENT: Save the Internet - Update

Once the threat of the cessation of Internet Neutrality was brought to my attention, I wrote my Senators. So, I got a response from one of my Senators, Barbara Boxer. Her office is very organized and sends out form letters pretty quickly. Hopefully she will keep true to her word and fight against this.

if you are unaware of this issue that affects all of our lives please see A Day Without Food Blogging for more information.

Dear Mrs. True:

Thank you for contacting me regarding network neutrality, which is the principle that consumers should have access to the Internet content and applications of their choice without interference by network operators. I appreciate the opportunity to hear your views on this issue.

As a longtime advocate for network neutrality, I believe that network operators should facilitate, not stifle, Americans' access to the Internet. Consumers will suffer if network operators are allowed to discriminate against their competitors' use of the network by giving certain content referential treatment.

I believe that individuals' ability to define and shape their experiences on the Internet has led to an explosion of creativity that has greatly benefited our economy and our lives. I fear that if network operators abandon the principle of network neutrality, the next generation of Internet innovators will be harmed.

Congress is currently considering a number of bills on this issue. As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over broadband and telecommunications issues, please be assured that I will continue working to ensure that the Internet remains an engine of growth for commerce and ideas.
Again, thank you for writing to me. Please do not hesitate to contact me again about this or any other issue of concern to you. Barbara BoxerUnited States SenatorPlease
visit my website at

EVENT: Cooking For Children #2 - Birthday Party Food

My Favourite Plum is calling for Birthday Party Food ideas. Well, I must join in on this as I too am looking for ideas for my boys. I was specifically interest in cakes but she is interested in Cakes, Savoury Snacks and Sweet Treats.

I am going to share the cake I made for my twins' First Birthday. I made a Safari Animal Cake.

Oh and if anyone has a picture of that swimming pool picture I would love to see it. I have a vague memory of seeing it once.


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ENTERTAINING: Speaking of Cakes

This is the birthday cake I made for the boys' first birthday last year - July 2005. I also made them each a smash cake of their very own.

To decorate I used a buttercream to cover and then I used that spray paint for cakes that you can buy in the baking section of the grocery store. then I piped the borders and the grass. I bought the safari animals at a local party store. The clouds are dabbed on buttercream then I put on edible clear sparkles on top. From I bought the little safari animal sugar decorations, edible rocks, and the plastic trees.

If you use those spray paints, make sure you put down newspaper all around it because the particulants (sp?) really do travel far and it stains.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

DAILY REPORT: 1 Month Birthday!! Sunday, May 21

Yep that is right. I have officially been blogging for 1 month. I obviously have dove head first, plunging fast as I can. My main topics are Food (Recipes, Food Blog Events, Culinary Discovery), Motherhood, Daily Reports, Photography, and Shopping.

I have loved taking part in many Blog Food Events. I never even knew they existed until about one or two days after I started posting. They have really gotten me back into the kitchen and cooking with flair. Since the twins were born almost two years ago, I have spent precious little time in the kitchen which is a place I love dearly. I had lost most of my motivation for heading into the kitchen and taking lots of care and really experimenting with recipes. Yes, I made almost all the baby food I could with the very best organic ingredients I could find but I think that pretty much zapped me. The fact that I was not cooking up meals that were even close to gourmet for my husband and me upset me a lot. But, I look at my boys who, like many twins, were born almost two months early, and I see how healthy they are I know it was worth putting all my efforts into their diet. But now they are eating “people food” or table food and now I only have to really cook one dinner. Sometimes I leave off certain very hot spices for them but for the most part they eat everything we eat. And I have to say; I think my menu choices are the healthier for it.

My Daily Reports are much like this one, a free-rambling post about current events in my life. They are not daily which I knew at the point I started this exercise would not be. But it is nice to talk about me to me and if anyone else enjoys reading them well that is nice too.

I hope to do more entries on Motherhood and Shopping finds. I just have not actually had time to do that which obviously is totally understandable. Plus how many posts can I make a day!

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

DAILY REPORT: Saturday, May 20

Migraine. But luckily not a long one.

I just went through a pile of Food & Wine magazines from various months from the past year. I have not taken two hours to pour through glossy mags in ages which is probably why I had so many in my magazine basket by bed. I tore out a few pages but not that many. I am realistic enough to know that I probably won't get around to trying more than 2 of them in the next year. I used to have stacks and stacks of tear sheets of recipes with a gazillion steps or filled with expensive ingredients. Now, I feel like a creative genius when I make up my own sauce for store bought pasta. But now that I have begun this blog, I have been able to set aside some time and energy to start really cooking again and I am very glad I have. My husband is really glad.

I have to check out the weather channel and see if it really is going to rain tomorrow because I really want to pack up the family and head up to Oxnard to the Strawberry Festival. I have never been to it but I love to go to festivals like that even if it is a bit of a drive. So cross your fingers. Well I just checked and it is going to rain. Pfft Pfft Pfft.

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ENTERTAINING: Memorial Day Party

Let us kick of the SUMMER SEASON right!! So, throw a party and get all your friends to help you celebrate. What are we celebrating? The opening of Barbeque Season, Warm Days, Swimming, and Wearing White.

Make sure you check out these invitations from Chelsea Paper because how else will everyone know to come and when?

BBQ Invitations

MOTHERHOOD: The Newest Bouncer from Svan

Are little bears with pink or blue bows not your idea of what you want to fill your house up with? In this day and age, babies don't just come with a cuddly blanket but they come with gear - BABY GEAR - and lots of it. Most of today's baby products are not exactly chic but are bright, "cute", and decorated with lots of images. But, there are some designers out their making baby products with a modern look that is a lot more sophisticated than what you find in most baby stores. But, most of these styles are much more expensive that your typical Fisher Price model.

So, what do you think of this newest contibution? The Svan Baby Bouncer from Sweden. The seat is completely adjustable so your baby can sit and lay down. It fold for easy storage. Also, even modern parents know that babies get messy so the seat removes for washing. It is available in chocolate/orange, chocolate/orange, chocolate/lilac, black/baby blue and black/watermelon. It retails for about $120.00 at most stores.

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EVENT: Sugar High Friday #19 - Ginger

Minced Crystalized Ginger

Once Upon A Feast is hosting this Month's Sugar High Friday which was started by The Domestic Goddess. Really it is just an excuse to make and eat something sweet that fits in that month's theme. And this month we are very lucky to make a Ginger Desert! I happen to be somewhat of a Ginger addict and put it in so much of my food, sweet or savory. So, my only real problem was deciding what dessert to make.

My Ginger Dessert comes in three parts. Chunky Applesauce , Ginger Crème Anglaise which I combine to make Apple Dumpling Toast Pockets with Ginger Creme Anglaise.

The Apple Dumpling Toast Pockets with Ginger Creme Anglaise are basically cheater Apple Charlottes. I love making Apple Charlottes becuase I am really not a great baker and with a Charlotte I just use bread or lady fingers. But for a quick fix, I found that I can use my sandwich makers to make a dessert that resembles a grilled cheese except replacing cheese for apples.

I know there are a lot of steps to make this entire recipe but they are all really easy steps. Actually, Creme Anglaise is not always considered that easy because people rush, cook it too fast and it curdles but if you give it time it is easy. And then using my handy dandy Sandwich Maker from Krups they are super easy to assemble. But, if you just want a simple Chunky Apple Sauce recipe then try this one becuase I love it. Or, if you make someother dessert and want a sauce or just want to serve jup some berries in a bowl but top them off with something a little more decadent than whip cream then make the Ginger Crème Anglaise. Basically, I made two dishes/recipes with Ginger and then combined them to make one fabulous one.

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RECIPE: Apple Dumpling Toast Pockets with Ginger Crème Anglaise

Apple Charlotte Mini Toasts

Apple Dumpling Toast Pockets with Ginger Crème Anglaise
These are like mini Apple Charlottes. Cheater version Apple Charlottes. The Crème Anglaise is totally optional but I love it. You do need one of those little electric sandwich makers because I have no idea how else to seal the edges. Of course you can always envelope the applesauce in puff pastry and bake them.
Serves 4

Chunky Applesauce
Butter, softened
8 Slices of White Bread
Ginger Crème Anglaise

Make sure the applesauce is really chunky and not like runny applesauce you buy in the bottle at the grocery store.

Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread. Place one slice of bread, butter side down, on sandwich maker. Scoop some of the Chunky Applesauce onto slice. Top with another slice of bread with butter facing up. Cook/toast as per your sandwich maker. Place toasted apple pockets on individual plates. Serve with Ginger Crème Anglaise.

My Ginger Dessert comes in three parts. Chunky Applesauce , Ginger Crème Anglaise which I combine to make Apple Dumpling Toast Pockets with Ginger Creme Anglaise.

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RECIPE: Applesauce

Apple Sauce

Makes about 3 cups

1 pound Granny Smith apples
1 pound Fuji apples
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/4 cup sugar (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Core and peel apples then cut into 1-inch pieces. Bring apples, water, sugar, zest, cinnamon ginger, and cardamom to a boil in a large saucepan. Cover, reduce heat and simmer, stir occasionally, 15 minutes. Then remove lit and continue to simmer until most of liquid is evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes. Mash apples with a potato masher to make a chunky sauce then cool. Applesauce can be made 3 days ahead and chilled, covered.

My Ginger Dessert comes in three parts. Chunky Applesauce , Ginger Crème Anglaise which I combine to make Apple Dumpling Toast Pockets with Ginger Creme Anglaise.

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RECIPE: Ginger Crème Anglaise


Ginger Crème Anglaise
Makes 2 Cups

2 cups half and half
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 slices crystallized ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar

Combine half-and-half, cream, crystallized ginger, ground ginger and vanilla extract in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. In a large bowl whisk yolks and sugar until well combined. Gradually whisk hot cream mixture into yolk mixture. Return custard to saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens, about 12 minutes without boiling. Remove slices of ginger and discard. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead; keep refrigerated.)

My Ginger Dessert comes in three parts. Chunky Applesauce , Ginger Crème Anglaise which I combine to make Apple Dumpling Toast Pockets with Ginger Creme Anglaise.

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Friday, May 19, 2006

HOLIDAY: Memorial Day is Monday, May 29


There are a few different accounts of the first Memorial Day. Whenever and wherever the exact date and location was, Memorial Day was called Decoration Day because the graves of the soldiers were decorated with flags and flowers. One of the first Memorial Days was celebrated on May 5, 1866, in Waterloo, New York to honor Union soldiers killed during the Civil War. Also, in 1866, Decoration Day was celebrated in Georgia to honor the confederate soldiers killed in the Civil War.

In 1868, Major General John A. Logan declared May 30 as a Decoration Day to honor both Union and Confederate soldiers and that a celebration would be held at Arlington National Cemetery. Until after World War I, the Southern States refused to celebrate Decoration Day on the same day as the rest of the country because they did not want to celebrate the lives of the Union soldier and therefore celebrated the Confederate soldiers on a separate day.

To this day, Texas, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Georgia observe the National Memorial day and continue to celebrate separate Memorial Days for the Confederate soldier. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a federal holiday.

Today, Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday in May. It is a day to remember all U.S. men and women who lost their lives fighting for our country. People still place flags and flowers at soldiers’ graves. A flag is placed at every grave in Arlington National Cemetery. The President or Vice-President gives a speech in honor of the soldiers and places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solder. Many towns and cities have parades and someone often reads Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.”

Red Poppies have been the symbol of Memorial Day since the end of World War I. In 1915, John McCrae wrote the famous poem “In Flanders Field”.Later that year, Moina Michael was very moved by McCrae’s poem and she wrote the following poem in response.

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
Doing so, she was inspired to start the custom of wearing poppies on Memorial Day. She sold poppies to benefit servicemen that needed money. The tradition quickly spread to other countries. The United States Post Office made a stamp with her picture on it to honor her in 1948. Veterans sell small, artificial poppies every year to benefit disabled veterans.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amidthe guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

PHOTOGRAPHS: Flowers from Descanso Gardens - Selection

Pink Camelia

Peppermint Stick Camelia


Fake Pea
Faux Pea

Clematis Bunch

For more of my photographs please see: My Life As A Reluctant Housewife Photographs

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DAILY REPORT: Wednesday, May 17

Well I had a GREAT Mother's Day. I slept in until about 10:00. And I was presented with roses and chocolates. The picture above is a detail of the roses and bells of Ireland that I was given.

Then we got the boys ready and we head off to Descanso Gardens. May is the month to go. They are known for their Camelia Tree Forest. It is the most beautiful site to behold. Xander totally ran off the path into the wooded area and played. He was laughing with excitement. I think he felt totally free and intrigued by this new experience. I just watched him from behind a tree so that he could feel like he was by himself for a little while. Timmy loved crawling around the grass in this one lawn area. Oh, and then there were the roses. I think there must be about 5 acres of roses. When you walk to the area where the roses are, the fragrance hits you like a wall. It is so fabulous. We stayed about 2 hours. It was really hot and the boys had not really had a nap. They totally crashed in their car seats on the way home. They could not keep their eyes open for more than five minutes. It was so cute.

I did take lots and lots of pictures which I will post later. I think I am at my max for uploaded pictures for the month on flikr.

Then I had a nice rest when we got home and then my husband went out to Walt's Wharf and got us some Oak Grilled Artichokes, Salad and Clam Chowder for supper. It was a perfect day.

A little bit more about Descanso Gardens: In the 1930's, E. Manchester Body, the owner planted thousands of Camelia Trees in the shade of the Oak forest on his land. It is now the largest collection of Camelia Trees with more than 700 species and 3,400 trees. The Rose Garden is five acres and hosts over 3,000 roses. It is awe inspiring because not only is that a lot of roses but it is so beautifully landscaped.

EVENT: WHB #33 - Pesto Chicken

Please check out Kayln’s Kitchen who hosts Weekend Herb Blogging. Celebrate food with the taste of herbs!
For more information please check out Weekend Herb Blogging Archives.

This weekend I made pesto sauce and then slathered it on some chicken breasts. Delicious!

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RECIPE: Chicken Breasts with Pesto

Chicken Breasts with Pesto
Chicken Breasts with Pesto

2 tablespoons olive oil or olive oil infused with Basil or Roasted Garlic
4 chicken breasts
2 cups cherry tomatoes
juice of lemon
1/2 cup Pesto Sauce

Wash the tomatoes and slice into halves or quarters depending on size. Place in medium bowl with lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Cook the breasts over high heat, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side.

Place the chicken breasts on a serving platter. Spoon two tablespoons of pesto over each of the chicken breasts. Drain the tomatoes. Spoon the tomatoes around chicken. Serve.

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Makes 3/4 cup

1/4 cup pine nuts
3 medium garlic cloves
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, rinsed thoroughly
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch salt
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Toast the pine nuts in small heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until just golden and fragrant, 4 minutes. Bring small saucepan of water to boil. Drop in garlic into water and boil until garlic is partially blanched, about 45 seconds. Immediately drain water and pour cold water over garlic to stop the cooking. Mince the garlic.

Place all ingredients except cheese in bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade; process until smooth. Make sure to scrape down bowl with flexible spatula occasionally.

Transfer mixture to small bowl, stir in cheese, adjust salt, and serve. To keep in refrigerator for up to five days either take a sheet of plastic wrap and place directly over the surface or pour a small amount of oil on top. Or, to freeze the pesto, pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, remove the pesto cubes from the trays and put into a Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 6 months.

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Peter Potty has come out with the only flushable toddler urinal. It can be placed on the flor or wall mounted. It does not require plumbing. It eliminates the need for a step stool. It won an IParenting Media Award. The manufacturer's study says it helps potty train boys up to 6 months faster because it is easier for them to stand then get up on a seat and pull their pants down.

I know I have not gone through potty training yet with my boys butI am sure I will not be buying this. I am going to avoid buying a potty seat too. We have a tiny bathroom and have no room for extra stuff. Plus, I am in no mood to clean these things all the time. Ick. I am just going to try out one of those little attachments that go directly on the regular toilet. I am not surprised that this product has come to market and actually am surprised that this is the first one. Potty training is so hard and stressful on both parent and child and parents are always looking for some way to make it easier. So if it works for someone, then that is great. So, if you have an opinion, I would love to hear it.

MOTHERHOOD: Combi Transition High Chair

OH MY GOD. I love this. I wish this was available just a short two years ago.

It's a highchair, it's a table, it's a toddler chair! Combi has come up with baby, toddler, mom friendly gadget. Basically it is a transformer for moms. It comes in Blue, Pink and Orange.

Adjustable, removable tray.
Convenient removable, dishwasher safe double tray.
Removable, washable seat cushion for easy cleaning.
3 position reclining seat with 5 point harness and footrest.
Two bottle holders in tray can accommodate a sippy cup, food jar or juice box.
Easy one button chair removal from base.
Base can be easily used as a table.
Convenient pencil tray and book support on table.
Capacity up to 40 lbs.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

EVENT: Save the Internet

Please take the time to think about what the internet means to you. Today is a day to start workign to stop the threat to Network Neutrality. Big Business Telecom companies are lobbying Congress very heavily to allow a two-tier Internet. What is that? Well basically, it will let these large companies buy speed and accesability. They will control the internet by providing a high-speed path to their sites while small sites, like food blogs, will be so slow or totally blocked. This is a totally different issue than Internet access like DSL or Dial Up.

See Accidental Hedonist or Chez Pim for more details, and please sign the petition to preserve network neutrality at Save The Internet and find easy ways to contact your Senators and Newspapers.

Monday, May 15, 2006

RECIPE: Couscous with Dried Apricots and Pine Nuts

Couscous with Pine Nuts and Dried Apricots
Serves 4

2 cups water
1 1/4 cup couscous
2 tablespoons, dried mushrooms, fine chop
salt and pepper
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 cup dried apricots, thin slivers
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons olive oil

Bring water, mushrooms, salt, pepper, garlic, apricots and thyme in a pot to a boil and turn off heat. Mix in couscous and pine nuts. Cover pan until the couscous has absorbed all the water and is tender, about 10-15 minutes. Fluff couscous with fork and fluff in olive oil.

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

EVENT: IMBB#26/Wine Blogging Wednesday#21 - May 19

Len of LennDevours is hosting two events in one, Wine Blogging Wednesday #21 and IMBB #26. This Fabulous Favorites Festival will combine two blogging groups - wine connosieurs and foodies - and to pair a dish with a wine.

As described on LennDevours:
What is the Fabulous Favorites Festival exactly? It's a food and wine pairing event that, we hope, will attract the largest group of participants ever for any culinary blog
event. For this one day at least, food bloggers will be "forced" to dive into the wine pool, while wine bloggers will have to uncork their cooking skills. The concept is simple, with two plans of attack you can choose from.
1- Pick a favorite bottle of wine from your cellar and create/cook a dish
that goes with it.
2- Pick a favorite dish in your culinary repertoire and seek
out a wine that will pair will it.

So, I am going to opt for choice #2. I have cooked one of my new favorite recipes - Lamb Kebabs with the Three C's with Couscous with Pine Nuts and Dried Apricots.

Lamb Kabobs 2

I have chosen a deliciouis Syrah from Napa Valley, ESCA, 2003. A dear friend gave me this bottle recently and we loved it so that she helped us track down some more. It was sort of hard to find at first but luckily our local Bristol Farms had it!

When I found out about this event, I wanted to find out more about this wine so I looked a little bit on the internet for this wine. From the Esca website, I found this:

The 2003 Esca Syrah was made from 100% Napa Valley grapes grown on the western hillsides of St. Helena in the Spring Mountain AVA. The wine was aged for 21 months in 100% French oak barrels and was bottled in August 2005. The Syrah is intense and focused. It offers aromas of black cherry, candied currant, chocolate and espresso. The well-integrated oak shows layers of vanilla and cedar. The elegant wine has fine tannins and a lengthy finish. 450 Cases Produced -Anna Monticelli, Winemaker

Well, it was a great pairing! Of course, any evening that we can set aside to enjoy a yummy meal and a nice bottle of wine instead of a hurried meal that we hope the twins will not throw on the floor, is always a major treat. So, I appreciate this event because it helped me prioritize my week a little differently. Yes, the twins still came first but dusting and other such things came way after working on this meal and taking photos and such. It was fun!


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