Saturday, April 29, 2006

CULINARY DISCOVERY: The Tastes of Rhode Island

CULINARY DISCOVERY: The Tastes of Rhode Island

Rhode Island is smallest state in the US nation of states. Yet what it lacks in size is completely made up by its rich history, beautiful architecture, fun festivals, perfect bays and oceans for sailing, fishing and swimming. There are enough open roads and dense woods to explore but don't forget to eat while seeing the sights because Rhode Island is blessed with a unique and delicious cuisine.

The state fish is the striped bass commonly measuring twenty to thirty inches in length and weighing three to ten pounds. If its habitat is favorable, the bass can reach sixty pounds and live up to thirty years. The state fruit is the Rhode Island Greening Apple and as the name implies, it is a yellow green apple. They have a sharp taste retained during cooking so they are perfect for apple pies and apple slumps. Slumps (or grunts in Massachusetts) are stewed fruits topped with a dumpling.

Then there is the all important state drink, coffee milk. It became the official drink in 1993 winning over Del's Frozen Lemonade. The lemonade is delicious and can be found throughout Rhode Island but due to its similarity to an Italian ice and coffee milk's uniqueness, the latter won out. However, Del's should not be missed. Mr. Delucia first made it in 1840 in Naples, Italy. He kept snow frozen in caves all year round so he could mix it with lemons and sugar for a refreshing summer drink. Delucia's son brought the recipe to the US and his great grandson invented a machine that would mass-produce the product with a regular consistency. Franchises for the frozen lemonade can be found across Rhode Island waiting to quench your thirst.
But getting back to Rhode Island's official winner, coffee milk. You've had chocolate milk made with milk and chocolate syrup? Well, coffee milk is the same thing but with coffee syrup. You won't find a bottle of Autocrat's or Eclipse's coffee syrup, the leading brands, outside of Rhode Island. If you are in Rhode Island or surfing the web, pick up a bottle. Simply add 2 tablespoons of coffee syrup to 8 ounces of hot or cold milk. If you add ice cream to coffee milk then you are drinking a "coffee cabinet" or in outsider's terms a coffee milk frappe. But don't say milk shake because the waitress will just shake your coffee milk and not put any ice cream in it.

If there were a state shellfish it would undoubtedly be the clam, especially the quahog which is a very large clam. Quahog derives from the Narragansett Indian name for poquauhock. The scientific name, mercenaria, comes from the Latin meaning wages because Native Americans strung the shells like beads and used them as money or wampum.

Clams come four different ways in Rhode Island: clam cakes, chowder, baked and stuffies. Clam cakes are deep fried fritters the size of golf balls made up of chopped clam and flour. They are often overloaded with grease and so nicknamed 'sinkers' since they sink to the bottom of your stomach. Clam chowder is a New England staple with its creamy, potato base. There are two other varieties: Manhattan, made with a tomato base and the true, authentic Rhode Island version, made from a clear broth with clams in it.

A true sign of the end of summer is the clambake. Usually it's a large gathering of people reaping the benefits of a few companions building a sand oven and steaming clams, mussels, lobsters, corn and potatoes in seaweed under hot rocks all day.
The fourth way to prepare clams is to stuff and bake them. Generally the quahog is used but littleneck clams can be stuffed and are perfect for cocktail parties. Whatever the size, they are usually made by mincing clam meat and mixing it with an onion, breadcrumbs and spices. Oh, and of course clams can always come in the form of steamers, fried strips, and raw.

Are you from New York? Have you ever heard of the New York System Hot Weiner? Well I have lived in New York City for thirty years and had no clue what it was until I spent a few summers in Rhode Island. These Rhode Island dogs are not individual links but are cut from one continuous dog and they do not have casings. Some dogs are actually twenty feet in length. Then the long hot dog is sliced to fit the bun. And if ask for "three all the way" then you will get a hot dog in a bun smothered in a meat sauce flavored with nutmeg, garlic, celery salt and onions.
There is a very high population of Portuguese descendants in Rhode Island. Many breakfast places will serve Portuguese chorizo instead of sausage links. Chorizo is a spicy pork sausage with different flavored with paprika. The most typical Rhode Island breakfast is a big heaping stack of Jonnycakes which look like silver dollar pancakes but made with stone ground white cornmeal. There are versions of Jonnycakes in the Midwest and New Hampshire but those are baked or baked then fried. Rhode Island Jonnycakes are cooked up just like pancakes. Newport County Jonnycakes are thin and crispy while South County Jonnycakes are thick and moist. Either way they are delicious and taste like you would imagine a fried grit but served with butter and maple syrup.

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RECIPE: Jonnycakes


1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups boiling water
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a medium-size bowl, combine cornmeal and salt. In a thin steady stream, pour boiling water into the cornmeal mixture, stirring constantly. The batter will remain thick but once the water is absorbed, stir in the milk and the batter will be thin. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and pour in a little of the oil. Pour about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the griddle for each jonnycake. The batter will spread to about 5 inches so don't overcrowd the pan. Cook about 2 minutes on each side or until golden and crisp around edges. If they aren't browning quickly within those two minutes, increase heat to moderately high. Serve with butter and maple syrup.
Makes: 8 servings

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RECIPE: Clam Cakes

Clam Cakes

2 eggs
1/2 cup clam juice
1/2 cup milk Pepper
1 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
8 oz. can minced clams
oil for deep frying

Beat eggs until light and frothy in a medium bowl. Add milk and clam juice and stir to combine. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Add the minced clams to the flour mixture then add enough of the liquid to make a thick batter. Drop batter one teaspoon at a time into 375 degree oil. The cakes will flip over by themselves once one side is cooked. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

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RECIPE: Qahog Chowder

Rhode Island Quahog Chowder

3 pounds red bliss potatoes 1/2-inch dice
Water, to cover
4 teaspoons white pepper
4 teaspoons salt
3/4 pound ground salt pork
1 Spanish onion, diced
2 cups chopped quahogs
2 cups quahog juice
4 teaspoons tablespoon fresh thyme

Place potatoes in a large pot, cover with water by 2 inches. Add salt and pepper, bring to boil then reduce to a simmer. Meanwhile, heat the salt pork in a large skillet, add the onion and sauté until the onions are translucent. Then add onions and pork to the simmering potatoes. Then add quahogs, quahog juice, and thyme. Simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through.

Makes: 15 portions

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Friday, April 28, 2006

MOTHERHOOD: Cystic Fibrosis Walk

Below is a letter from a friend of mine that also has twin boys. One of her sons has Cystic Fibrosis and her family is trying to raise money Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s national fund-raising event, “Great Strides.” So, please consider donating to this wonderful cause.

May 2006

Dear Family and Friends,

As many of you know, one of our twin boys, Jonah, was born with the genetic disease cystic fibrosis. CF, which affects approximately 30,000 children and adults in the United States, causes the body to produce abnormally thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and can lead to serious lung infections. This thick mucus can also block the pancreas, preventing digestive enzymes from reaching the intestines leading to poor digestion and absorption of food. Only a few decades ago, babies born with CF rarely lived into childhood. Recent strides in CF research have been amazing, and the outlook for CF patients is encouraging. Consistent, aggressive, time consuming treatments are necessary to keep CF patients healthy. Daily breathing treatments, including aerosolized antibiotics and chest pounding therapy to dislodge mucus are necessary to keep the lungs clear. Most CF patients also take pancreatic enzyme supplements with any snack or meal to help them properly digest and absorb food. A progressive disease, CF can also cause additional health issues as time goes by, such as CF-related diabetes, osteoporosis, and liver damage. Thanks to the incredible research being done, revolutionary treatments and drugs have made an incredible difference for patients with CF, but precious lives are still lost to CF every day. More research is needed to help improve and extend the lives of patients and help us move forward in the quest for a cure.

Our family is asking you to join us in supporting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s national fund-raising event, “Great Strides.” Walks are held throughout the year across the country, making Great Strides the CF Foundation’s largest and most successful national fund-raising event. Our family will be walking in the Huntington Beach walk on May 20th. Please support us by sponsoring our family to help us reach our fund-raising goal of $5,000. Your generous gift will be used efficiently and effectively, as more than $.90 out of every dollar contributed will be used to fund the vital programs of the CF Foundation. Or, if you’re up for it, join us as a walker for Team Jonah and find sponsors to help us reach our goal! The walk will be on Saturday, May 20th and will begin at Bolsa Chica State Beach between Seapoint and Warner. Check-in begins there at 8:30 am, and the walk begins at 10:00 am.

To make a tax-deductible donation that will be credited to Team Jonah, please visit our team website at Making a donation online is easy and secure. Or you can contact us for other ways to donate. Any amount you can donate is greatly appreciated and will help us reach our team goal. If you would like to join Team Jonah as a walker, please visit and click on “Join my walk team.” If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at home at 562) 461-8664 or e-mail us at If you would like more information about CF and the CF Foundation, please visit Please feel free to pass this letter and the website on to family and friends who would be willing to donate or be interested in joining our walk team.

Thank you for you support and love.

Rob, Marikka, Jonah, and Javan Ostermann

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SHOPPING: Travel Accessories - Wash Me/Wear Me

Horchow has one of my favorite travel accessories. You know when you are travelling for more then a day or two and you get a little confused about what undergarments you have already worn? I really don't think it is just me. This Wash Me/Wear Me bag is the perfect solution. One side holds the clean items while the other side holds the worn items. I love the whimsical embroidery too. They come in a choice of pink or green. How to decide...

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HOLIDAY: Nurse's Day is Saturday, May 6

Originally uploaded by gaztrue.

"For us who nurse, our nursing is a thing which, unless we are making progress every year, every month, every week, take my word for it, we are going back." - Florence Nightingale

Nurses Day is celebrated around the world every May 12 to mark Florence Nightingale’s birthday. The day is designed to bring an end to stereotypes of nurses and to provide an education into the real world of nursing. It is also to pay respects to these incredibly dedicated men and women.Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820 in Italy. In 1837 she received a “calling” from God telling her that she was to help people. Her parents believed that nursing was “beneath” and educated woman. But she was dedicated to the idea of pursuing the career. In 1851, she began nurses training in Germany. In 1853, she was appointed Superintendent of the Establishment for Gentlewomen during Illness in London. In March of 1854, the Crimean War was begun when England, France, and Turkey declared war on Russia. In November, Florence was appointed to oversee the installation of female nurses in Turkish military hospitals. At first the doctors and male nurses did not meet the female nurses with great enthusiasm. But, due to the great number of casualties, the female nurses were given plenty of opportunity to prove themselves. In 1855, after the war, soldiers and doctors to show their gratitude towards Florence collected money. It was designed to help Florence continue to reform British hospitals. During her career she was able to elevate the respect of nurses so that it was a desirable position for educated women to pursue. In 1860, she established the Nightingale Training School for Nurses at St. Thomas’ Hospital. She published over 200 medical books and pamphlets throughout her life. Queen Victoria awarded her the Royal Red Cross in 1883. In 1907, she became the first woman to receive the Order of Merit. Florence Nightingale died on August 13, 1910 at the age of 90 in her home.

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HOLIDAY: Cinco De Mayo is Friday, May 5

Cinco De Mayo, The Fifth of May, commemorates the Mexican militia’s victory over the French army at The Battle of Puebla in 1862.

The Battle of Puebla, although it did not establish Mexico’s Independence, it stood to symbolize Mexican unity and patriotism especially against foreign imperialist aggression. Prior to then Mexico had experienced years of war, gaining independence from Spain in 1821, followed by the Mexican-American War of 1846-48 and the Mexican Civil War of 1858, which left Mexico bankrupt and in shambles. In 1861, President Benito Jaurez tried to suspend payment of all foreign debt for a period of two years. However, France, Spain and England denied this moratorium and decided to try to recoup their monies by any means possible. Spain and England eventually withdrew their efforts once they realized that France was set on their objective of expanding their empire under Napolean III who feared that if they did not control Mexico then America would and become too strong. In 1862, the French Army advanced on Mexico in order to try and install Archduke Maximilian of Austria, a relative of Napolean III, as the ruler. General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin lead 5,000 Zapotec and Mestizo Indians against the French, who had a well-armed army of 6,500, and they won the now famous Battle of the Puebla on May 5. However, upon hearing the news of this defeat, Napolean III, sent 30,000 troops to squash any further defeats. Mexican Independence was not achieved until September 16, 1810. In Mexico, Cinco De Mayo is mostly celebrated in the city and state of Puebla. However, it is a large celebration in the United States especially in regions in which the Mexican population is significant.

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Kidsdomain has lots of fun games for kids, of all ages, to play to celebrate Cinco De Mayo.

Word Find
Take a Cinco de Mayo/Mexican related word such as: sombrero, guacamole, burritos, festival etc. and find as many little words as possible before the timer runs out.

Example: Festival
Words: vail, fat, fit, fail, file, sail, seal, set, sat, sit, tail...
Example: Guacamole
Words: mole, male, meal, camel, came, come, am, me, mule, cue, game...

Find this Coloring Sheet and many more fun activities at Kiddy House.

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ENTERTAINING: Cinco De Mayo Party

Of course Oriental Trading has plenty of supplies for your Cinco De Mayo Party

I love this Mexican Pom Pom Hat because it seems more festive than a sombrero.

Don’t forget to whip up a batch of margaritas and serve them in these festive plastic glasses

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RECIPE: Cinco De Mayo - Flan


1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small heavy saucepan bring water and sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil syrup, without stirring, until golden caramel. Pour caramel into a 1 1/2-quart soufflé dish, tilting dish to coat bottom and some of side with caramel. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs until frothy. Whisk in condensed milk, evaporated milk and vanilla until smooth. Pour custard mixture into soufflé dish or ramekins. Cover with aluminum foil. Place dish into a large roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan to reach two-thirds of the way up the sides of the dish.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until set. Let cool completely.
Run a thin knife around the soufflé dish. Invert each soufflé dish onto a dessert plate; let the caramel drizzle onto the plate. Or, cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight so the flavors meld together. Then place the dish in a bath of very warm water to melt the caramel sugar then follow as stated above.

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RECIPE: Cinco De Mayo - Mango, Jicama, Corn Salad

Mango, Jicama, Corn Salad

1 ripe mango, peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large jicama, peeled and thinly julienned
1 1/2 cups corn, cooked
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons orange juice
zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup water
Dash of hot sauce
3/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Combine the mango, jicama, corn red onion and cilantro in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. To make vinaigrette, combine lime juice, orange juice, lemon zest, honey, water and hot sauce in a small bowl. Very slowly add olive oil while whisking the entire time. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss with the vinaigrette. Chill until ready to serve.

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RECIPE: Cinco De Mayo - Re-Fried Beans

Refried Beans

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups cooked Pinto Beans
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pinto beans; cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Mash beans; stir in chile powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Add more oil to skillet if necessary; cook and stir until a smooth paste forms, about 5 minutes. Garnish with shredded cheese if desired. Serve warm.

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RECIPE: Cinco De Mayo - Guacamole

Makes 1 1/2 Cups

1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, coarsely chopped
Juice of 1/2 Lime
2 tablespoons white or red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped, seeded
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tomato, finely chopped, seeded

In a large bowl mash the avocado and lime juice. In a small bowl or mortar and pestle, stir together onion, cilantro, jalapeno, and cilantro and then mash together so that they sort of meld together and release some of their juices. Add mixture to avocado and then add tomato. Stir to combine. Add more salt if desired.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006


Most kids play BUG! and yell out "Punch Buggy Blue" when they see a old Bug Convertible. Well Mom and I played that too but we also had our strange version. Simply put: "Hydrangea!" Why you ask? Not really sure but when Mom would drive me to school in Kindergarten when we lived in Savannah, Georgia we would look for the flower along the way. And yes, we STILL play it to this day. Then she and my step-dad bought a house in Newport, RI and guess what was growing in the garden. Well, you guessed that right; a Hydrangea. I took this photo of it this summer.

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HOLIDAY: Easter is Sunday, April 16

Originally uploaded by gaztrue.


Today, Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, it has a long history dating back to pre-Christian times. The word Easter is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring, Eostre. The festival of Eostre was held on the Vernal Equinox to celebrate new life. According to the New Testament, Jesus Christ was crucified of the eve of Passover and therefore the early Christians who grew up with a Hebrew tradition thought of Easter as a continuation of the Passover festival. Both the celebration of Eostre and Passover fell during the same time, thus early Christians, who were persecuted for their new beliefs, were able to celebrate Easter and spread their message slowly without too much detection or friction. By the second century, Easter was a well-established festival date. However, the Christians wanted to distinguish their celebrations from Passover. Thus, the Roman emperor, Constantine the Great, called the Council of Nicea in 325 to order. There it was established that Easter would become a moveable feast between March 21 and April 25 and so Easter would be celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon of the Vernal equinox. However, if that Sunday coincided with Passover, Easter would be celebrated on the following Sunday.

Easter is not one day rather it is an entire season in the Christian calendar. It begins with Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras, which is a day to really have fun before Lent. Ash Wednesday, the following day, is the day when Christians have a cross put on their foreheads with ash made from the palms of the previous year, a symbol of penitence and mortality, to show that they belong to the church. Ash Wednesday is the first day of the Lenten season. Lent, the forty-six days prior to Easter Sunday, is a period of penitence and fasting. Holy Week, the week that immediately precedes Easter, begins with Palm Sunday, which commemorates the day Jesus entered Jerusalem and the people celebrated by waving palm fronds. Maundy Thursday, the Thursday prior to Easter, commemorates Christ’s last supper (Eucharist). The next day is Good Friday and is the day Christ was crucified. Easter Sunday is the day Christ was resurrected from the dead. Early on Easter Sunday, the roman guards who were watching the tomb were struck by lightening by an Angel who then rolled back the stone of the tomb where Jesus lay. Later the guards came to their senses and found the tomb open and Jesus’ body was no longer there. They were told by their superior to say that the disciples had stolen the body while they slept. But, two angels appeared to two holy women and told them that Jesus had risen as he had prophesized. Later that day Jesus appeared to two of his disciples in the village of Emmaus. As soon as they recognized him, he vanished. The disciples returned to Jerusalem and told the apostles the story. Then he appeared to the apostles and ate with them. He told them that he had been sent by his Father from heaven to perform the task of offering his life for the sins of mankind. Jesus in turn gave the apostles the power over sin so that they too could forgive the sins of others. Jesus then vanished again. Jesus appeared the following Sunday to turn the unbelievers into believers and did so for the next forty days. Ascension, observed 40 days after Easter, marks the last day Christ appeared on earth and made his departure from earth. Pentecost, the 50th day after Easter, which falls on the 7th Sunday after Easter, celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. This day concludes the Easter season on the Christian calendar.

In Early America, Easter was not celebrated as a festival like it was in Europe but as purely religious day because the Puritans and Protestants did not believe in religious festivals. After the Civil War, Easter was celebrated like it was in Europe because the Presbyterians felt that it helped to inspire new hope in people. Now Easter Sunday has fully developed into a time to have fun, color eggs, eat chocolate bunnies, cook great food and gather friends and family around you.


The Easter Lily: The Easter lily symbolizes Jesus Christ’s resurrection. It is specifically a white lily because white is a symbol of a new life that has become pure through resurrection.

The Easter Bunny: The hare was sacred to Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. Rabbits, known for their fecundity, symbolized fertility and rebirth and were sacrificed to her during the spring, which also symbolized rebirth. Legend says that she changed a bird into a four-footed animal, thought to be a rabbit. The Germans, in the 1500’s, began using the rabbit as a symbol of Easter. They brought the image of the Easter bunny to American culture in the 1700’s. They made the first edible Easter bunnies from pastry and sugar in the early 1800’s.

The Easter Egg: Eggs have been dyed and exchanged as gifts for centuries before Easter; beginning with the Romans, Gauls, Persians, Egyptians and Chinese during springtime rituals as a symbol of rebirth of the earth after winter. As a Christian symbol, it has come to represent the tomb from which Christ rose from the dead and thus symbolizing the rebirth of man. According to Polish folklore, when the Virgin Mary was begging the Roman soldiers for compassion not to hang Jesus on the cross she was holding a basket of eggs and her tears fell on them and they turned into brilliant colors. Edward I, the king of England, ordered 450 eggs to be gold leafed for Easter gifts in 1290. Every Easter beginning in 1883, Faberge designed the most famous eggs for the Alexander, the Russian Czar to give to his wife Empress Marie. Armenians decorate hollow eggs with images of Christ and Mary. The Ukrainians and Polish dip the egg in wax then in dye then wax is painted over the areas where that color is to remain then dyed again. This process is repeated until the desired pattern is achieved. The Greeks exchange eggs dyed red to symbolize the blood of Christ. The Germans dye hollow eggs and hang them from trees and give green eggs on Maundy Thursday. Many other cultures have their own way to decorate the eggs too.

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RECIPE: How To Boil an Egg

Originally uploaded by gaztrue.

You just boil it right? Well not exactly.

Make sure they look pretty inside too with no green and the shells slip off easily. Eggs that are 7-10 days old peel easily because their PH is different from new eggs. Heat causes the egg to turn green and rubbery.

-- Prick the large end of the egg so it does not crack.

-- Put eggs in a heavy saucepan and cover with water by 1 inch.

-- Bring the water to a boil; remove from heat; cover and let stand for 15 minutes.

-- Remove from the saucepan and place in ice water for 4 minutes.

-- Keep refrigerated.

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RECIPE: Egg Measurements

Tablespoon Equivalencies
· Medium Egg = 3 tablespoons
· Large Egg = 3 1/4 tablespoons
· Extra-Large Egg = 4 tablespoons

Size Equivalencies
· 5 medium eggs = 4 large eggs = 3 extra-large eggs
· 6 medium eggs = 5 large eggs = 4 extra-large eggs
· 7 medium eggs = 6 large eggs = 5 extra-large eggs

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ENTERTAINING: Kentucky Derby is Saturday, May 6

The Kentuck Derby is coming around the bend!

Time to whip up a batch of Mint Juleps, put on your largest hat and open your door to all of your friends and watch the Kentucky Derby! This year will be the 132 year of the Kentucky Derby.

To decorate make sure you have lots and lots of roses! Roses were given to all the ladies who attended the Louisville Derby Party. After 1904, the rose became the official flower of the derby. In 1925, Bill Corum, a sports columnist, called the Kentucky the “Run for the Roses”. Since 1932, the roses have been presented as it is today, a garland of roses; 554 red roses are sewn onto a green satin cloth. There are a number of symbols also sewn onto the blanket. On one end there is number of the running and the twin spires and on the other end is the seal of the Commonwealth. There is also a single rose that is called a crown that symbolizes dedication, effort and passion needed to win the race.

A Little Derby History:
Kentucky and Louisville's early racing history. The founding of Churchill Downs and the Derby.
Early 1900's - From financial crisis to profitability.
American Turf Association and Churchill Downs reign.
Dominance of Calumet Farm to the 100th Derby.
Thomas Meeker takes charge. Track expansion, development, acquisitions and the dawn of simulcasting.
A New Century; A New Racetrack

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SHOPPING: Kentucky Derby Party Supplies

Host your very own Kentucky Derby party. One of my favorite party supply stores, Plum Party, has all the supplies you need for a very festive Derby Party. Here are a few selections:

First of all, you will need invitations. They offer 4 different invitations but this is the one I prefer.

These plastic derby hats are probably the funniest thing I have seen in a while and a definite must for all the men to wear.

And of course it would not be a pony race without a little bit of betting. Here are the perfect betting cards. If you don’t want to gamble with real bucks then assemble some great prizes that people can win.

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RECIPE: Mint Juleps

Mint Juleps

2 Cups Bourbon
2 Bunches Fresh Mint
½ Cup Water
½ Cup Sugar

Make a Simple Syrup, mix the water and sugar together in a saucepan and bring boil for 5 minutes; stirring constantly so the sugar does not burn. Transfer syrup to a covered container and add about 7 sprigs of mint; refrigerate overnight. Set out 5 mint julep cups out and fill with crushed ice. Add one tablespoon of the mint syrup and two ounces of Bourbon. Stir vigorously with a spoon so the cup begins to frost. Garnish with mint sprigs

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SHOPPING: The Hi-Tech Crib

This is the newest in Crib design. This is absolutely wild. I am guessing that crib tents might not fit to well into them.

Does your crib have these features: Automatic Rocking, Video Monitoring, Raising and Lowering, Air Circulation, or Saftey Window rather than bars?

Where can you get it and for how much? Sorry folks, no dice. It is not available for sale quite yet.

The Intellicot Cot from Cencio truly breaks the mould. Featuring unique, practical features and striking modern design, no longer is a cot simply a wooden cage with a mattress.

- Develop a regular sleeping pattern with automatic rocking
- Help keep your child cool in summer with air circulation
- Reduce parents bending and back strain with the built in lifting system
- Keep an eye on your child from anywhere in your house with the integrated video monitor

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

SHOPPING: Sale at Windmill Kids Ends May 1st

If you have seen pictures of my twins you will see quite a bit of smocked jumpers. I grew up in smocked dresses.

This week Windmill Kids is having their Spring Sale. They are offering 10% off on orders placed prior to May 1st.

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SHOPPING: Custom Sandals From Eliza B.

Wanted: Preppy Sandals

Found: Preppy Sandals CUSTOMIZED from Eliza B.

Eliza B. has everything! You can choose between an almond or black colored soul. She has TONS of ribbons to choose from -everything from plain grosgrain to adorable and preppy prints. Now my new problem is what to order? Oh and did I mention you can have them monogramed?

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SHOPPING: Discount at

Dear Friend,

We invite you to join us in recognizing National Volunteer Week. In

appreciation of the efforts of dedicated volunteers everywhere, has extended a 25% shopping discount to our volunteers and

supporters. In addition, will donate 10% of proceeds of your

final purchase amount to Reach Out and Read and other nonprofit


During the period from Tuesday, April 25 through Saturday, April 29,

simply shop at and enter promotional code ROARNVW at

checkout to receive 25% off your purchase. Not only will you be able

to do your spring shopping with a great discount from Polo Ralph

Lauren, but 10% of your purchases will go back to Reach Out and Read

to help support our upcoming programs and efforts.

Finally, is also offering free shipping on orders over

$175—so please shop now and show your support!

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MOTHERHOOD: Outsourcing Pregnancies to India

Outsourcing pregnancies to India
Rising numbers of infertile couples from U.S. and Europe are coming to India to hire surrogate mothers.
Saturday, April 22, 2006

ANAND, India — As temp jobs go, Saroj Mehli has landed what she feels is a pretty sweet deal. It's a nine-month gig, no special skills needed, and the only real labor comes at the end — when she gives birth.

If everything goes according to plan, Mehli, 32, will deliver a healthy baby early next year. But rather than join her other three children, the newborn will be handed over to a U.S. couple who are unable to bear a child on their own and are hiring Mehli to do it for them.
She'll be paid about $5,000 for acting as a surrogate mother, a bonanza that would take her more than six years to earn on her schoolteacher's salary. "I might renovate or add to the house, or spend it on my kids' education or my daughter's wedding," Mehli said.

Beyond the money, she added, there is the reward of bringing happiness to a childless couple from the United States, where such a service would cost them thousands of dollars more.

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HOLIDAY: May Day is Monday, May 1st

May Day is an ancient pagan holiday celebrated in the British Isles by the Druids. It celebrates the Spring and the fertility of livestock and crops. The ancient holiday was called “Beltaine” (Bright Fires), which began at sundown of April 28 and continued for three days in which the Druid priests lit a fire on top of a hill and people jumped through them naked. During May Day, the villagers would go into the forest and cut down a tree. The tree was often a willow tree because it was associated with the Roman Goddess of the Hunt. The villagers would stay in the forest during the night and liaisons between men and women would happen that would not normally be deemed acceptable during the rest of the year. Then during the day they would bring it to the village and decorate it with flowers, ribbons and a wreath of flowers is placed on top. A dance is done around the May Pole. The dancers hold the end of the ribbons and dance around the pole until the ribbons are woven around the pole. Then the wreath of flowers is placed on one of the girl’s head, crowning her queen for the day. There are many different versions of the May Pole dance. There always needs to be an even number of dancers that hold a ribbon tightly. There are two circles of dancers. The outer circle faces clockwise and the inner circle faces counter-clockwise. They dance in a circle in the direction that they are facing so that inner circle has to duck under the ribbons of the outer circle. The ribbon gets woven around the pole. During the celebrations, Morris dancers who are bedecked in flowers and bells around their ankles, perform several dances. One of which is an interpretation of the Eucharist.

During the sixteenth century, May Poles were banned in England and in America because of their pagan roots. The Puritans in America banned May Day in 1644 because of its pagan roots and since so many women became pregnant during this holiday. Starting in 1660, May Day was celebrated again. During the Victorian Era, May Day celebrated innocence rather than fertility.

In Europe, especially in Germany, May Day is similar to Labor Day in the United States. May Day was not associated with a Christian Holiday and thus it there was not a church service attached to it and so it was solely a secular festival day. Often people took the day off without prior consent from their employers. Thus it became a people’s day and became rooted in the socialist calendar. Now it is an official bank holiday in Germany and many other countries.

On there is a great slideshow of people setting up the Maypole and then dancers dancing around it.


By Robert Herrick

THE May-pole is up,

Now give me the cup,

I'll drink to the garlands around it;

But first unto those

whose hands did compose

The glory of flowers that crown'd it.

A health to my girls,

Whose husbands may earls

Or lords be, granting my wishes,

when that ye wedTo the bridal bed,

Then multiply all, like to fishes.

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SHOPPING: Groovy Paper

Groovy Paper is a great store! I encourage everyone to check it out She has great products and fabulous customer service. Here are two products that every mom should have on her refrigerator.

The first is a memo pad with your weekly schedule on it. So you can fill in the information and give it to members of the household so they know what is happening this week. Or just leave it up on the refrigerator for a quick reminder.

The second item is another memo pad but this is specifically for the Babysitter. These Babysitter Notes are perfect to be folded into her wallet, diaper bag, stroller or just kept on the refrigerator.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

SHOPPING: Velvet Vests from Vivre

I thought these vest were great looking. Maybe not ideal for the playground and a little bit too expensive for me especially since I would have to buy two. But I know plenty of people that might scoop them up.

Baby CZ
Quilted Velvet Vest

A channel-quilted velvet vest with a tiny stand collar. 5-button front with mother-of-pearl buttons. 100% cotton velvet with polyester fill and silk lining. Choose red or chocolate. Available in sizes 6-12, 12-18 and 18-24 months and 2, 3 and 4 years.

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MOTHERHOOD: Drink Lots of Milk When Pregnant

I drank lots of whole milk when I was pregnant with the twins because I wanted to get them as much protein and fat as possible and that was an easy thing to add to my diet. Turns out I had good intuition on that. According to a new study, pregnant who do not drink enough milk have lower birthweight babies.

Birth weight affected by milk intake: study
Updated Tue. Apr. 25 2006 10:22 PM ET News Staff

Women who aren't drinking enough milk during pregnancy are giving birth to smaller babies, putting their developing infants at harm, a Canadian study suggests.

Researchers believe it is the lack of vitamin D in milk that is leading to the slower growth in babies.

A collaborative study between Montreal's McGill University and the
University of Calgary found pregnant women who drank less than 250 millilitres of milk a day, or about a glass, delivered smaller babies than women who consumed more.

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SHOPPING: Juice Box? Not Exactly. Wine in a Box Updated

Well it may be made with grapes but it certainly is NOT grape juice. Wine to be exact actually. These "juice boxes" are the latest in wine packaging. Make sure you just don't put one into your kid's lunchbox.

Wine in a box, one serving at a time - The latest twist on ditching the bottle may be the most convenient yet. Jon Bonné takes a look

By Jon Bonné
Lifestyle editor - Lifestyle editor
Updated: 7:58 a.m. ET April 19, 2006

Just when we got used to wine in a box getting respectable, it’s been reinvented.
Three Thieves, a partnership of vintners Joel Gott and Roger Scommegna, and Charles Bieler of France’s Chateau Routas, knows something about packaging wine. Their jug wines — which kitschily evoked memories of low-grade plonk but improved on the wine in
the bottle — were revolutionary when unveiled a couple years ago. Next came their
1-liter Tetra Briks, soft-sided boxes that could easily tuck into a crowded refrigerator and eliminated the need for all that glass.

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MOTHERHOOD: Long Trip Coming Up? To Benedryl or Not To Benedryl?

If your family is going to take a long flight would you give your young child Benedryl to help them sleep through most or all of the flight? This is a hot button topic among many parents. Some feel that you are needlessly drugging your child while others think that it helps make the experience tolerable.

Well I will go out on a limb and say that I am pro-Benedryl, in moderation of course. Our entire family lives all the way back East so we have had to endure many a long, long, long flight. And since the boys are still under the age of two we are not required to buy them seats so we hold them on our laps the entire trip. Timmy is a very quiet child and I can’t imagine having him awake the entire time and then there is Xander who is one of those overly active ones. Benedryl is not a sedative although it does make them drowsy. This means they sleep for about 2-3 hours. Xander squirms and screams and yells and kicks the chair in front of him the entire time he is awake and he would think nothing of doing it for the entire 6 hours if awake. Of course I do need to teach the boys how to play quietly but at this age it is absurd to expect them to “behave” for that long. I would also like to note that this was okayed by our Pediatrician. He told us precisely how much Children’s Benedryl to give them. Now, I would like to add that I don’t give them Benedryl just to make them sleep longer when were at home or on short trips.

Work & Family: Should parents medicate kids on long flights?
Thursday, April 20, 2006
By Sue Shellenbarger, The Wall
Street Journal

When Ginger Ogle suggested giving her 3-year-old son an antihistamine to help him sleep during an eight-hour flight to Europe, her husband "was appalled that I'd even consider drugging our child," she says. He bought a portable DVD player instead, to play in-flight movies for his son.

But after four hours on the plane with a kicking, whining, irritable child -- who was unconsoled by the movies or grab-bag of other distractions the Berkeley, Calif., couple had brought along -- he reluctantly agreed to try a dose of Benadryl. The medication didn't seem to have much effect, Ms. Ogle says, but the incident shows how divisive the issue can be.

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THE DAILY REPORT: Monday, April 24

Well the boys definitely have colds. But luckily they took an extremely long nap and I am sure that had to have helped. I of course worked on this blog. So, how does it look?

Oh and guess what? My screen has half broken off but luckily it did not break on the side that connects the monitor to the computer because I obviously would not be able to use my computer. I am still under warranty so I can have it fixed. Thank God. So the repair man should be here in a few days with the new part.

First of all, I added all this html code and I have no clue as to what any of it means. It really is another language. I am surprised that I got these codes in the right places. I did make one big mistake and had to restart it all but it worked out okay. I hope it looks okay on other people's screens.

I added a banner of photographs at the top of the page. From left to right the pictures are of: Flan or Creme Caramel,a flower from my Mother's garden, a fountain at a La Purisma Mission in California, and cantaloupe melon balls with fresh mint. I took all the photographs of course except for the flower which my mother took last summer.

In the sidebar I added lots of goodies.

--One is a streaming list of today's headlines. I can't figure out how to customize that content so if someone wants to help me then please please please do.
--Also, PLEASE click through the buttons for all the charity sites. And then bookmark them on your computer so you can do them daily.
--I am also trying out some keywords with technorati that has a search for blogs. So put me in your favorites on technorati if you get a chance.
--Definitely click on the button for BlogTopSites and vote for me!
--I also put in buttons for Google Adsense and Google Adwords so if you are going to start advertising through Google on your site then please click through my blog and sign up. I wil actually get paid for it! But honestly, I am hardly thinking I will make any revenue off of that. I am not totally delusional. Oh and while you are clicking away, go ahead and click the Google Link at the top of the page and maybe I will make a few pennies.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

HOLIDAY: Secretary's Day is Wednesday, April 26

Secretary’s Day was created to attract more people to administrative careers. In 1952, C. King Woodbridge, president of Dictaphone Corporation and Mary Barrett, president of the National Secretaries Association hired Harry Klemfus of Young and Rubicam to devise a campaign. Due to their efforts, Charles Sawyer, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, proclaimed that June 1-7 would be the first National Secretaries Week. And that June 4 would be Secretary’s Day. In 1955 the week was changed to the last full week in April and Secretary’s Day would be the Wednesday of that week. In 1981, the week was re-named Professional Secretaries Week. Again in 2000 the week was re-named Administrative Professionals Week by the International Association of Administrative Professionals.

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THE DAILY REPORT: Sunday, April 23

Day OFF!!

Well it was not planned or very well executed. I never left the house which was pretty stupid because I really need some time out all by my lonesome. I lolled in bed the whole day except for a short emergence during the day and then I got up to make and serve dinner and of course get the boys to bed.

Tucking in the boys is my favorite moment of the whole day. And not just because that means they are going to sleep and I have the night to myself. But because I there is nothing cuter than little boys in their fleece pajamas all curled up in their cribs with their blankets and stuffed animals. Xander LOVES stuffed animals and lets everyone know it. He kisses them all the time. Just too precious for words. Timmy would prefer to have a couple mega blocks to play with in his crib. Not exactly the most cuddly toys but he likes them so who am I to judge? Timmy does not really sleep with a blanket either but Xander loves to be covered up with his blanket and tucked all in. Then I zip them into their crib tents. Xander would be out of that crib in the morning before I knew that it was morning. Timmy would not be able to climb out at this point but I figured Xander might be upset that his brother did not have the same set up and Timmy might as well get used to it.

Okay back to ME! I played a few games on my phone. Totally juvenile. I never cracked open a book either. But, wait, hold on... I listened to a book on my ipod. Elizabeth Berg's Open House. I listened to half of it so I am not sure how it ends. It is about a woman who is going through the after affects of being suddenly left by her husband. It is in the first person and basically all she does is talks about herself and what she is feeling. I like it. I can imagine having some of the same questions as she does about what her future holds if that were to happen to me. She is lucky that she has enough money to do as she pleases. Yes, she does need a roommate to help with the mortgage because she refuses to sell the house but her ex-husband pays child support and alimony without much trouble. It is hardly literature. It is an easy read, plain and simple. It is a fairy tale and not all that realistic but for a few real emotions.

Then I got up and made lunch for dinner. Egg Salad sandwiches. Delicious. And everyone seemed to love them.

The boys are getting colds. UCK. poor miserable wretches. I guess I should brace myself for a hard week, especially when I will probably get this cough too.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

RECIPE: Stuffed Shells

Stuffe Shells Uncooked
Originally uploaded by gaztrue.

Stuffed Shells cooked
Originally uploaded by gaztrue.

Stuffed Shells

2 tablespoons dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ pound Pasta Shells
½ teaspoon salt
15 oz. Ricotta – Low fat
2 cups Mozzarella, shredded – Part Skim
¾ cup Parmesan Cheese
½ cup onion
1 garlic clove
1 egg
27 oz Pasta Sauce

A few days or a few hours prior to making he shells, cut enough dried red tomatoes to make up a full 2 tablespoons. It is easiest to cut them up with kitchen shears. Place in a dish with olive oil and cover. Let rest for a few days or a few hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Boil 1 gallon of water and add salt. Drop in pasta shells and stir. Bring back to a boil and boil for 12 minutes. Remove from water and drain. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add ricotta, 1-cup mozzarella, and ½ cup Parmesan cheese. Drain the dried tomatoes of as much oil as possible by squeezing the tomatoes. Place in a food processor with the onions and garlic clove. Process until smooth. Add mixture to bowl. Add in slightly whipped egg. Mixed until everything is incorporated.

Lightly grease a baking dish. Pour in 1 cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish. Stuff the cooked shells with about 1 full tablespoon of the cheese mixture and place in the dish. Cover with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 1-cup mozzarella and ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese on the top. Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Place in oven and bake for 45-55 minutes until the pasta sauce bubbles. Take off the aluminum foil and bake until the cheese is completely melted. Let rest for 5 minutes. Serve. Makes 6 servings.

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RECIPE: Quiche

Originally uploaded by gaztrue.

Quiche Lorraine
Serves 4-6

1/4 pound bacon
9-inch tart shell made with pate brisee crust
1 cup cooked ham, diced
3 eggs
1 1/3 cup whipping cream
2/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Cook the bacon until crisp. Let the bacon drain on paper towels for a few minutes. Crumble the bacon. Place in pie shell and add the ham. In a bowl, beat eggs, cream, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour into crust. Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until the top is golden and puffed.

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