Saturday, September 25, 2010

Paneer Indian Cheese

I'm attempting palak paneer tonight. I found this very simple video about making the paneer. I've made mozzarella before, which you have to have rennet for, so I'm not really daunted about this. I'm pressing my first batch right now. This video does not have any amounts in it, though. I thought maybe my large skillet (like the one pictured here) would hold a gallon of milk, but it's more like a little over 1/2 gallon. I used vinegar and put in only maybe 1 1/2 teaspoons. He does not say how you know if you are using the right amount, just that you want to avoid using too much! So I poured in about a teaspoon and let it curdle. Then I added a little more to see if it would curdle more.

I'll get back to you about the palak (spinach gravy), and how it all came out.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pasta Salad: Part Deux

Today was our second monthly "Fat Friday." It's a day when we sign up to bring stuff and then all gorge ourselves on it all. I decided to try my hand at another pasta salad, this one with a Greek flair. I'm a sucker for feta cheese and kalamata olives, so this was right up my alley.

I found this recipe on a website called "Three Many Cooks." Check it out here.

They have a nice photo of the salad there, too. But because I'm trying to shoot more, I figured I'd take another of my own. I've never shot food from the side before. I'm pretty happy with it. I maybe could have used a slightly smaller aperture so I'd have more of the salad in focus, though.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Aloo Gobi & Naan

Sounds a little like a song, doesn't it?
So I made this Aloo Gobi, which is an Indian dish consisting of cauliflower and potatoes. You cook them with onions in a skillet for a while and then add this amazing sauce you've pureed out of tomato, garam masala, turmeric, cumin and chili powder. The garnish should be cilantro but I didn't have any. Also the recipe called for lemon juice. None of those around, but this lime was happy to fill in and add color to this photo.

Taylor and I had this with naan and I have to say this was my best batch yet! Each time I make it, I refine my technique just a little bit  more. Tonight's addition was brushing it with the milk solids I had saved from my super-clear batch of ghee from Sunday. Sprinkled on a little kosher salt and we were good to go!

So now I'm overstuffed with bread. Ugh. But a nice meal. It didn't take long to put together, either. I found this recipe on Here, try it.

On a side note, and completely unrelated, I accidentally called my poor mother this morning. At 6:30 their time. OOOPS! SORRY MOM! Each morning I call Taylor at 7:30 to make sure he's gotten himself awake. Since iphone STUPIDLY DON'T HAVE AUTODIAL, I use "recent calls" to call him each day. Unfortunately, I guess my finger slipped and I hit Mom & Dad's number instead.

But look at the bright least I had been a dutiful daughter yesterday and CALLED my mother. Otherwise, she wouldn't have been in "recents!"

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pure Ghee

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
This is my purest batch of ghee yet. I used my little slow cooker. The one that you use for stuff like appetizer dips? I put my 4 sticks of unsalted butter in there and just let it go.

I skimmed off the milk solids as soon as the butter had melted. I've left those in a bowl on the counter for now. I figure I'll stir them into something later tonight.

Then I just let it go for another 3 hours. The rest of the milk solids cooked to a nutty brown crumbly consistency. I strained the ghee through my All-Clad hand-held strainer and let it cool.

Considering the very small amount of work involved, and the high cost of store-bought ghee ($7 or $8 for this amount), I'd say I have now adopted a new habit.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Baby Carrots | Eat 'Em Like Junk Food | Indulge

Ok. NOW we're talkin' good advertising!

Pasta Salad

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
So I usually don't make pasta salad. And the reason is very stupid. It's because the pasta salads I've had have always been terrible. The one that brings bile to my gut has pepperoni in it and is made by dumping in bottled Italian dressing. Even worse, some is made with low-fat or nonfat Italian dressing. Ugh.

But today I decided to Google pasta salads. I'd been thinking of making potato salad, but by the time I got prep time for it, it was noon or 1 o'clock and would have maybe not gotten cold enough for supper.

So there are a lot of pasta salads out there and I decided to try this one from

1 (16 oz) pkg penne pasta (I used these here spirals)
1/4 C vegetable oil (I used Olive)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic salt
2 tomatoes, chopped (I used a pkg of grape tomatoes)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 c black olives, chopped

Cook the pasta.
Make the vinaigrette.
Chop up the other stuff in a big bowl.
Combine it all.
Chill for 30 minutes.

I think it will be good. It's chilling now. I'm serving it to the carnivores with their roast chicken. I'll have this and a green salad.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Graham Hill: Why I'm a weekday vegetarian | Video on

Graham Hill: Why I'm a weekday vegetarian | Video on
I like this. It should be easy enough, but I think still difficult for those families that don't have a cook. By that I mean there are many families out there that just don't use their kitchens anymore. They pick up prepped food, fast food, and eat out. Either they are too busy or just not motivated.
And then there are vegetarians and vegans that actually don't eat many VEGETABLES! I had a vegan friend of mine tell me last winter that he was trying a raw food diet because he wasn't eating enough veggies! Yes, some so-called vegetarians are filling up on carbs, simple and complex, and not getting their daily needs met.

btw: He's the founder of

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Scam Cookies

Surely I've told you Mensa Boy's theory about oatmeal cookies. I have, haven't I? Well, to recap, he says that oatmeal cookies are "scam cookies" because they look like chocolate chip from a distance.

MB is a man of simple tastes. Ice cream should be vanilla and cookies should be chocolate chip. That's it. Oh. Pies should be apple. 

Here is a conversation I had with him via email today:

ME: I ate a scam cookie this morning. 
It was actually good. 
I suspect the icing on it helped.

HE: I’m glad you were able to get through it. Most people don’t survive the shock.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

It's Hard to be Poor

When you just want one of these:

Monday, September 06, 2010


Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Do you ever feel like this?

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Mistress of the Art of Death

Just finished this excellent book! I seem to be continuing down the path of historical fiction/medical-related! In this case, it's not a doctor, per se, but a coroner, whose skills I am reading about. This one takes place in 12th century England, where young children are being lured and then tortured and killed. Of course the Jews, who "murdered Jesus," are the only suspects. King Henry II, who is fond of the Jews because of how well they keep his coffers filled, has written to his friend William, King of Sicily, and asked him to send a "death master" to read the bodies of the murdered children in order to ascertain the true perpetrator.

Being 12th century England, the death master, who is a woman, for pete's sake,  is accompanied by her manservant and an investigator. The manservant acts as the true doctor and she as his assistant.

I'd say this is great murder mystery fiction a la Patricia Cornwell, but I think this one is actually better than Cornwell's novels. 

Fall Gardening

Here in the Southeast we get a second growing season for vegetables that lasts until nearly Thanksgiving. The fall garden goes in right about now and we are able to put in collards, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower and onion sets. I'll check for garlic locally. I haven't seen any yet, but if I can't find it, I'll order it online.

Yesterday we cleaned out the spent summer garden stuff...mostly tomato plants...they failed pretty miserably. I'm not sure why they did. But I do think we have to get over our loathing of the heat and take a walk through the garden every single day. I suspect that neglect may have been the culprit in some instances. Liz and I are gardening together and I think we each may have thought the other was doing things they weren't! At any rate, we learned a few things from our summer garden:

1. Lettuce was good but really we get perfectly good organic lettuce from the grocery store.
2. Cage and stake the tomato plants earlier.
3. Plant green beans. We missed them this year.
4. Weed control between the beds needs to have a higher priority. We lost plants in the weeds when they spilled out over the beds.
5. We can really get a great harvest of cucumbers, tomatillos and hot peppers! Also stevia turned out to be a GREAT GROWER!

But all in all, I suspect Liz and I are more cut out for fall gardening. We both are Vata doshas and tend to wear out quick in the heat.

We have some great bugs in the garden. I shot a photo of a writing spider there yesterday on a habanero plant. I used my cellphone camera.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Last Jew

I finished the third of a bunch of books I've read by Noah Gordon now have ordered the only two others that our library has. If my love of this author continues I may have to (*gasp*) buy the rest!

My reading odyssey all began with "The Physician," which Nate gave me right before I left for Minnesota. I was turning the house upside-down for a paperback for the plane and he produced it. It was required reading for a class of his at Erskine. "The Physician" is about a little guy who loses his parents and is given to a traveling barber surgeon. Now, this is 11th century London, so he's a traveling "doctor," such as they were. The boy learns all about the business of helping people with minor ailments, as well as selling a potion they called "physick" and juggling and telling stories to bring in more income. After the barber dies, the boy decides he wants to be a real, learned medical doctor. But they are few and far between and the one he knows of and wants to apprentice with won't take him on because he's not a Jew. He travels to the school in Persia where the Jewish physician took his training and gains entrance to study under Persian physician Avicenna by pretending to be a Jew (there is a ban on Christian students).

It's a wonderful book that I hated to see end:

After finishing that one, I ordered "Shaman," which is about this same physician's descendant. It takes place on the Illinois frontier in the civil war era. I wrote about that one here, but didn't say much. It covers the advent of anesthesia and hygiene, as well as early American apothecaries and Indian medicine. "Shaman" is particularly interesting because this doctor is deaf as a result of contracting Scarlet Fever as a child.

The "Last Jew." Now this one was hard to get into at first. I actually started it and then put it down for 2 weeks. It's very dry at the beginning, but I picked it up again because I remembered that the other two were a tiny bit slow grabbing my attention. So I stuck it out a few more pages and then was hooked. It takes place during the Spanish Inquisition, and the "last Jew" left in Spain, who survived by keeping his Jewishness, (and his circumcised penis,) under wraps. Our hero, Yonah Helkiah, wanders around Spain after surviving the decimation of his family (he'd hidden in a cave). He takes on several odd-ranging jobs and names as he wanders, ultimately apprenticing to a metal master and then later, that master's brother, who is a physician.
Another book I hated to see end!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Ghee. Clarified butter, essentially. But cooked a little longer to really get the oil purified and separated from the milk solids. I've been reading quite a bit lately about Ayurvedic medicine and cookery and ghee is much-touted for it's healthy properties. So I decided to make some myself. I used salted butter because that's all I had, but it does turn out very very salty. I compensate for that by being doubly careful not to oversalt food that I've cooked in ghee.

Yesterday I had a hankering for french fries at lunch time but we didn't have any in the freezer. So I peeled a potato, cooked it in a sandwich bag in the microwave, and then sliced it. I fried the slices in ghee. I got some wonderfully golden brown and delicious home-fried potatoes! Ghee, since it does not have the milk solids, has a much higher smoke point than butter. In fact, I've read that you can deep fry in it.

I'll be experimenting a lot more with my ghee. I think the next thing I'll make is chapati. I've made chapati quite a bit, but have not cooked them with ghee.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Shaman by Noah Gordon

Get this book.

I read "The Physician" while in Minneapolis and had to get the next book, "Shaman." The main characters are the descendants of the main character in other book. But not hideously over-worked. There's a connection, but just blood. The stories don't dovetail or anything. GREAT BOOK! It takes place during the Civil War.

End of Week One, Day Five

We all breathed a collective sigh of relief today at school when the bell rang at 3:30. We managed to complete our first week of school!

Yes, there were a few kids that were mis-directed. Placed in the wrong classes. A couple of disciplinary incidents already. Still no receptionist. A few classes filled to overflowing. Much paperwork done and data entry completed. More to do in the coming weeks. But 3:30 came and we all bid our students goodbye and considered the weekend.

I grocery-shopped with Taylor. We parked in a "Customer with Child" spot. Just to be rebellious. He drove the car in the store. We discussed food. He chose tacos for supper and so I made those...bean ones for me.

I also made my first batch of ghee. A pound of butter, simmered for a couple of hours. Skimmed the milk solids off the top and used a bit to fry my beans. SALTY!!! I guess that's where all the salt in salted butter goes! I'll have to make the next batch with unsalted butter. I'm looking forward to playing with the ghee. I think I'll make fry bread tomorrow with it.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Somewhat Wordless, Unlike Someone Else!

I haven't written much, and I blame it on Facebook. It's easy enough to write a 140 character observation about something. Harder to write a missive for a blog.

That said, I observed something today on our school fax machine that gave me pause. You know those stupid scamming emails about the dude from Nigeria that wants to send you a bucket of money because he has no other place to put it? He'll give you some percentage of it if you pay him to ship it to you? Something like that?

Today on our fax machine was a newer version of that scam. One I consider to be a new kind of low in the area of scamming. This one was a letter from "Robert Barnes," a US Marine serving in Afghanistan. It uses a whole bunch of jarhead jargon to tell you that things are really bad there but they found this stash of abandoned cash. Here's the kicker paragraph that sort of got me hot:

"I don't want you to judge me by what you just read. I am a Devil Dog with a lot pride and honour. No amount of money can make up for the pain and sacrifice we all got through here in the hell hole in service for our country. But I have to also secure my future and have something to bank on after my active service."


Monday, August 02, 2010

Another Perk

So when we were in Minnesota week before last (has it been that long already?), we were staying at my parent's house. Each morning my mom would begin the day the by saying, "We need to plan supper."

Usually this conversation happened right after I stumbled into the house from the camper and poured my first cup of coffee.

Why did she need to know this so early each day? BECAUSE CARNIVORES HAVE TO TAKE STUFF OUT OF THE FREEZER TO THAW! We vegetarians? Not so much. The only advance planning I do anymore is to soak beans overnight or start them in a crockpot during the day. My freezer is full of bread flour and frozen blueberries.

I'm just sayin'

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Invisible Wall: A Love Story that Broke Barries

Mom encouraged me to read this book. I believe it was an Oprah book club selection at one time. I loved it. The book was the first written by this author, who is in his 90s. 

It takes place in a small English town right around the beginning of WWI. It's about a street where the Christians and Jews live across from each other and the barriers of religious beliefs that are evident. Autobiographical, the book is about the author's own family and their struggles to survive poverty. To complicate matters, Harry's sister falls in love with a Jewish boy across the street. It's sort of Romeo and Juliet and Angela's Ashes all rolled into one. Happier endings, though.

There are more books written by this author. I'll be looking for them.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Summer is Coming to a Close

My summer break ends Sunday night and I will remember this one fondly. It did not involve raves or speedboats, but I had a great little party of my own all summer. I took a lot of naps, I read a lot of books. I played with my food and did a lot of yoga. I got a new car and a new phone, both of which have stretched me technologically. I played with my friends and family. We took a nice trip to Minnesota, where we saw all our family...both sides. Even the ones in Saskatchewan! We saw one niece play her senior recital and another get engaged. We met our one of our new grand-nieces, too.

And the other day we said hello and goodbye to our second son, Riley, who graduated from Army Basic Training. We had a graduation dinner at Yesterday's in Columbia, where he experienced for the first time the gratitude of our country for his service as the owner thanked him and paid for his lunch.

Any regrets at all about this summer? I don't think so. The only thing I didn't get to do that I wanted to was see a Twins game at Target field. But I figure that will be around  for many years to come.

And so on Monday I'll go back to work rested and happy, peaceful and calm. Maybe it will be Endless Summer in my mind.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Back into the Oven!

We have had the most unseasonable weather here this past week. The temps have only been in the low-to-mid 80s and we've gotten up to high 50s in the mornings. But that will end now, as we start to climb back up to the high 90s.

I'm grateful for the new car. Mensa Boy bought a 2010 Prius for me when the van decided to retire. Big Green had 182,000 miles on her, and she was going to need a couple thousand dollars of the work in the coming months. The most pressing of which was the air conditioning. Again. The new car cools off in minutes and this week I will be thinking about that whenever I get into it.

I have to confess I'm a little sheepish about the car. People exclaim and congratulate me, and my best pal has been teasing me unmercifully about it. But it seems so extravagant right now. I loved my van and could have happily driven it for many more years (if they'd ever been able to stop that creaking noise it made when I turned the steering wheel). With a kid in college and new carpet needing to be bought for the house, my salary and days being cut this coming year, and Bob's salary still the same as two years ago, I really feel dumb taking on a car payment. But at least this will be a known car expense and not something that bolts you out of the blue like car repairs do.

So when people exclaim over the vehicle and talk about it, I find myself wanting to just say "let's talk about something else."

This year's Independence Day was probably one of the most fun we've ever had. Mensa Boy organized the "First Ever Henry Nesbitt Grand Day Parade," which was a whopping 1/10th of a mile long. Henry Nesbitt is the end of our Shelley Mullis Rd as it crosses into North Carolina. Apparently you can't just let a SC road name cross the state line, so that last 1/10th of a mile is named for someone else. We still aren't sure who Henry was, but he was probably a war hero of some sort. Could be Revolutionary War, could be "The War of Northern Aggression," who knows?

So after the 10 of us marched down to the end of the road and then marched back, we repaired to our home for supper. We grilled portabello mushrooms and corn and had sliced tomatoes and watermelon. After supper we progressed to Kriz's house, where we lit a bonfire, shot off fireworks and had blueberry cobbler and homemade ice cream. A great time was had by all, particularly Taylor and Ken, who tended the pyrotechnics. Mensa Boy was too tired to stress about the explosives, so Taylor just went to town with them...I think maybe he'd never done that before.

All in all a very nice 4th and a wonderful weekend. Now it's back to the hard work of...oh wait! I still have a month of summer left!

Oh...the Tour! If anyone thinks watching a bike race is boring, they should have watched yesterday's stage 2. Crashes, underdogs, was all there.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Roast Okra

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I know I've written about this before. But I truly think that roasted okra is one of the really good things about living in the south.

Not slimy.

At all.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Drying Stevia

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
YogiLiz picked up two Stevia plants this spring when she was wandering through the garden centers. They are extremely easy to grow and taste wonderful! Just picking off a leaf and chewing on it gives a wonderful blast of pure sweet.

I've used it here and there for garnishes, but this last weekend I cut a big bunch of it to dry. When I'm satisfied that the leaves are sufficiently dry then I'll crumble them up and put them in a couple of empty spice jars. I think they will be excellent added to tea.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Surya Namaskar A X 108

It's the summer equinox and one traditional yogi way to celebrate it is by doing 108 sun salutations. And so I thought, "why not? I've got all day..."

I gathered 27 coins and put them on the upper right corner of my mat. As I get to to pose 10 pictured there on the right, I flick a coin off the mat onto the floor.

I am not doing 4 and 9. Instead I am going back to plank after 3 and then straight to uttanasana after 8.

I did the first 54 to a sanskrit chant. After doing shoelace to rest and stretch the hips, I switched to African drums. Now I'll start the next 27 to Gregorian chants and then finish off with Donna Delory.

Happy solstice! The longest day of the year. Make the most of it!

I found this picture of the sequence on Google Images. Here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
The first of the summer. I got about 1 1/2 cups. I was not dressed for blackberry foraging (long pants, long sleeves, boots, gloves), so I did didn't get very aggressive in my picking.

In my defense, this photo looked a lot less washed-out on my computer before I uploaded it.

Oh. That's a sprig of stevia on top. We are growing some in our yogagarden.

Tostada Night

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
When you decide to go vegetarian, and you are the only one in a family of carnivores, you really have to step it up in terms of "interestingness" when it comes to supper.

Sure, we've had tacos. Lots and lots of tacos. Using store-bought taco mix and hamburger and then all those tortilla chips or taco shells you buy in the bags and boxes. But this. Now is the BEST WAY to eat that kind of food. The old-fashioned, fried-in-oil way.

Here's what I wrote about tostada night. And I should tell you, I had to kind of hunt for yellow corn tortillas. White corn rules the market. I think it's semi-tasteless.

Tostada Night

You know how you end up with days and days of leftover pinto beans whenever you cook up a pot? I mean … I like them. Don’t get me wrong. But I can only eat them so many days in a row before I’m ready to swear off them forever.  Of course that wears off after a month or so and then I’m ready to cook up another batch.
                One way I’ve discovered to use those up is to make homemade refried beans with them. Most of us are used to just opening cans of refritos (refried beans) and using those for our tacos or whatever.  But those canned varieties really miss the boat in flavor when compared to the homemade variety. They always seem a little watery to me. And bland. I’m giving you a recipe that I’ve adapted from “The New Moosewood Cookbook,” by Mollie Katzen. I think the cumin really makes or breaks these beans. See what you think.
                Tostada night is a great weeknight dinner event, and a fantastic way to get the family together to hang out and eat. I draw them into the kitchen when I start frying corn tortillas. It works every time. When I was a kid there were no bags of tortilla chips, or prepared taco shells. My mom cooked corn tortillas in oil on the stovetop. Nothing beats that flavor. I think we gave up that practice because we started shying away from frying due to its’ status as an unhealthy way to prepare food, and it was a messy and left oil clouds hanging in the room for a few hours. I keep the mess down by putting my frying screen over the top of the fry pan. I can’t do anything about the oil clouds, but my 10-foot ceilings sure make it easier to ignore!
                Lay out some lettuce, salsa, onions, tomatoes and grated cheese (or go really authentic and use queso) and start frying tortillas. Let the family build theirs as they come out of the skillet. They will stay there and eat them, waiting for the next one to come out of the skillet. And as they stand there, you will hear a lot more about their lives. Just be careful not to fry your tortillas too long. They really only take about half a minute or less on each side. 

Refritos (refried beans)
By Karen Paulson
Adapted from “The New Moosewood Cookbook,” by Mollie Katzen

 Leftover pinto beans, drained (maybe 2 cups)
1 1/2 C minced onion
5 or 6 (or more) medium cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet. Be sure it’s an old skillet that you don’t care about scratching. Add the onions, garlic and cumin. Heat, stirring, until the onions and garlic are starting to get soft. Add the beans. Heat and smash the beans to the consistency you prefer.
If you really want to add flavor, cook your pinto beans with a couple of halved, seeded jalapeno peppers. You can also consider adding a small bell pepper to the bean mixture when you make it in the skillet.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Frittata: The Vegetarian's Meatloaf

Since I became vegetarian in January, Frittatas have become my new meatloaf. My go-to dish. The entrée I whip out when I don’t have a lot of time or imagination. Like meatloaf, frittatas are made from whatever ingredients you have on hand, they have a short prep time, and a little bit of oven time to give you a chance to gather your wits about you (read: drink a glass of wine and check out the newspaper).
                Similar to quiche, frittatas are egg-based and can be the vehicle in which to hide all kinds of edible treasures from meat to veggies to cheese or all of the above. Most frittatas are started on top of the stove and finished in the oven. That’s how I do mine, although you can do the entire dish from start to finish on the stovetop. Unlike quiche, frittatas are generally not known to have a crust. Mine does. So if you are a frittata purist stop reading now. You’ll see my version as an abomination.
                My frittata recipe culminated out of my love for all things hash browned. As far as I am concerned, no egg-y meal is really complete without hash browns on the side.  The crunchier the better, I figure. And so I played with my food one afternoon and conceived this fine frittata with a hash brown crust. I hope you enjoy it.

Hash Brown-Crusted Frittata
2 medium-sized russet potatoes
6-8 eggs, beaten and set aside
1-2 C veggies of your choice, lightly sautéed and set aside
1 C cheese of your choice
Herbs of your choice
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Microwave the potatoes on high for 3 minutes. They should be softened, but not cooked all the way to a mashable stage. Handling them carefully so as not to burn your hands, grate the potatoes on the large side of a cheese grater. You can leave the peels on or take them off.
Preheat a non-stick skillet on medium high. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil and 1 Tablespoon of butter. Swirl it around to coat the pan. Transfer the grated potatoes to the skillet, patting it down into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. DO NOT STIR AFTER THIS POINT! After about 4 or 5 minutes, gently tilt the pan that you can glimpse the underside of the potatoes. Are they getting brown and crisp? Keep checking until they look like golden, brown and delicious hash browns.
In another oven-safe skillet (cast iron is really the best), heat 1 Tablespoon oil and 1 Tablespoon butter. Drizzle it over the potatoes in the non-stick pan. Then carefully invert the second skillet over the first one and flip over. Now your potatoes are in the second skillet and on their way to hash brown perfection.
Once you are satisfied that the potatoes are well-browned on the underside, remove the pan from the heat. Arrange the reserved veggies, cheese, herbs and spices over the potatoes. Pour the eggs over the mixture and lightly tamp down anything that’s sticking up out of the eggs. If you need more eggs, go ahead and beat them up and pour them in.
Put the frittata in the preheated oven and bake until the eggs are set, usually about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to finish cooking in the pan on the counter. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Suppertime: Eggplant Gyros

My good friend Debbie Burgess (The Hungry Fox), sent me a link to this recipe on Cuisine Recipes and I was immediately sucked in by the gorgeous photo. This is my own shot, which I'm sorry to say is not quite as nice.

Anyway, our yogafarm produced some very fine cucumbers this week, which immediately made me think of tzatziki, which then made me think of gyros, which then reminded me of this recipe.

That's how my mind works.

The recipe on this site calls for a sauce made of yogurt and feta. I'm sure that is quite good, if not a little bland. Homemade tzatziki has that tangy zip of fresh garlic, which I think is needed in this recipe.

And now I'm going to see what how the leftover eggplant stuff tastes on an omelet.
Footnote: Eggplant stuff VERY GOOD on scrambled eggs. Think of it as eggplant pico de gallo. Scramble a couple of eggs and then drop some of the eggplant mixture on top. Mix in with the hot eggs to take some of the refrigerator chill off. Sea salt finishes it off!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

34th Regiment: Always Forward

Riley is in the 34th Regiment at For Jackson. Apparently "Always Forward" is their motto. Riley is proving himself to be always forward. At least in my mind.

His girlfriend said he got a cut on his forehead and suffered a concussion on the "Victory Tower." He went to the infirmary and they told him he may have to take 3 weeks of Basic over again. He said "no way," and went back to his platoon. That's rough.

He's struggling. I've been ok with him being gone. Ok with him being in Basic. But now I'm starting to be a little anxious. His letter yesterday said he was awaiting word on his punishment for a weapons violation. Apparently he shot his (it was loaded with blanks) prematurely during a training exercise. His buddies said they'd help him cover it up, but he elected to tell his drill sergeant about it instead.

He's lonely and usually has a lot of friends around him. He doesn't know many of the guys and I think he'll start to feel better as he gains friendships.

I'm proud of him. And praying for him. I hope you will too.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Suppertime: Shiitake and Sweet Pea Risotto

Last night Taylor grilled burgers for himself and Nate while Liz and I enjoyed this recipe from Cooking Light. I didn't take my own photo of it this time. Too hungry. And you know? Mine was not quite as appetizing-looking as theirs. Because my risotto was a darker brown color. I think it must have been because of the very rich vegetable stock I used instead of the recipe's chicken stock. But boy! Was it delicious! We accompanied it with roasted and sauteed golden beets. I love to do that: roast the beets in the oven, slip the skin off, slice and then saute in butter.

I visited the chickens again this morning before work. I usually don't do that, but I had some very bland cherry tomatoes that needed to be disposed up. Chickens love juicy, seedy things. So I sliced them in half and took them over to the yogafarm. I was there at 6:15, when the sun was just starting to think about coming up. Obviously the chickens thought I was out of my mind for being up so early. None of them came down from their roosts. They just sat up there an murmured at me. I did feed them this time, since I received instruction from YogiLiz. I'll take some videos of the birds when Bob comes back with the camera.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Giant, Hairless Raccoon

That's what the chickens may think I am.
I went to Liz's and let them out this morning. But I could not figure out where their feeder is, so I didn't feed them (Liz was home, just not up yet). They followed me around, glaring at me and bwaawk bwaawking at me...getting all up in wing at me.
Then I took the one egg they'd laid and left.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Proud Parent of a Soldier

Mensa Boy has that sticker on the back of his car. I don't have it on mine yet. My car is too dirty to stick stuff on right now.

Riley is safely ensconced in Basic training at Fort Jackson. I just received the letter with his address. He's in Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment. Here is his address:

Pvt2 Porter, Jack R
Company Delta Platoon 3rd
1/34 In Regt
Fort Jackson  SC  29206

Family day is July 28
Graduation is July 29

We can follow his regiment on facebook. Here is the address:

Saturday, May 29, 2010

28 Years? or 20 Years and 11 Months?

Happy Anniversary, Mensa Boy! 28 years ago we got married at 11 o'clock in the morning. It was about this time that one of our groomsmen said that he thought WE were picking up his tux! What a fun day we had.

Every year I ask MB this question "So. It's been 'x' years. How many years does it feel like?" And he always answers the question with a number that is smaller than the actual (some could say he's sucking up!). This morning his answer was "A little less than 21 years."

It seems like that to me, too.

And now we are off for a quick trip to the beach. I can hear him filling the cooler with ice, and he's done most of our packing. Neither of us, when we moved into that roach-infested apartment in Eagan, Minnesota, ever would have dreamed that we would someday be living in sunny South Carolina, heading to the beach for our anniversary.

Love you, Bob.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Supper: Vegetables in Garlic Sauce

From China East, the only Chinese restaurant whose food I will allow the guys to pick up. After Taylor and I spent the afternoon on the football field in the 90 degree heat waiting for the Class of 2010 to GET A CLUE (!) we were not interested in any sort of supper-making.

We are both a little scorched tonight. I have sunburned the tops of my feet. Since Commencement will be outside tomorrow, who knows what we'll eat for supper?

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Suppertime: Trail Mix

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
oh. I'm sorry. Did yesterday's post lead you think I was actually going to COOK supper and photograph it every night? Ain't gonna happen. Most nights, yes. But on nights when I go to yoga usually I just eat leftovers or a sandwich or, in this case, trail mix.

I make this mixture up with a bag of Harris Teeter unsalted dried fruit and nut mix, some roasted salted almonds, and then whatever other dried fruits I have on hand. I make a quart or so of it and we eat out of that all week. Tonight I'm having about 1/2 cup of it with a nice glass of late harvest Piesporter Riesling.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Suppertime: Penne with Chickpeas, Feta and Tomatoes

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
I made this recipe from the March 2010 issue of Cooking Light. This is my own photo, though.
The recipe took only about 20 minutes to put together. We had a side of fresh green beans with it to round out a pleasant, vegetarian meal.
I have to say, though, that I should have simmered the chickpeas a little before using them. Canned chickpeas always seem a little too al dente and I've never really done anything about that. I don't know why. I think it's a paradigm I need to shift. I've just always used beans as they are out of the can, figuring they are cooked just right. But the other day I made another meal from a recipe on my new favorite food blog, Herbivoracious, and he also commented on chickpeas being too firm. He suggested simmering them a little before using them. I was much happier with the result. Incidentally, I'll do that recipe again and post it. It was delicious!
This post is the beginning of what I plan to be a daily supper photo. We'll see how long I keep that up. My plan is to shoot whatever my evening meal is each night. I'll give the recipe (or in this case link to the one I used), tell how long to make it, and mention anything else I think you might want to know.

Monday, May 24, 2010

ILHS Class of 2010

Here they are. Well, I'm quite sure this isn't all 144 of them. But here is the Indian Land High School Class of 2010. Many thanks to photog Tim Champion for doing the post processing. He took a photo I thought was a lost cause, put a background on it, and recolored a hideous yellow shirt blue.

This class was much less cooperative than '09. It was seriously like herding cats. And because they are such a rowdy bunch, I kept getting administrators in the way because they were standing too close to the group, trying to mitigate any disturbances that might occur.

So this bunch graduates Friday, May 28. That's five days from now. A lot will happen to me between now and then. I'm cleaning out their files so I can give them a lot of papers to keep, working up grades and transcripts for everybody, shuffling and re-shuffling diplomas. Just a lot of stuff.

In other news: Mensa Boy had a good conversation with an organization that fights human trafficking. They are interested in having him serve on their board of directors. He's pretty excited about that. It's a way he can be involved in this issue without changing jobs or having us move anywhere. Nate has been accepted to Winthrop University for the fall. It'll be sad for him to leave Erskine, but Winthrop is a much larger school with more opportunities. It's also a public university, so the cost will be considerably less (along with the fact that he can live at home).

Taylor is winding up his freshman year and did really well with his Algebra EOC. 91! We were very pleased. And Riley called home last weekend and talked for quite some time about his first week at Basic Training. He was mainly bored, but I'm sure by now the Army has solved that problem for him. For several days he was just waiting in lines a lot and not really doing anything else. "Oh, and they are NOT CAREFUL about how they shave your head," he said. "A lot of guys are BLEEDING around here!" Hopefully we'll get his address soon.

We'll make a trip back to Minneapolis at the end of July.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Strawberry Pie

Strawberry Pie
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Strawberries are in season in South Carolina and of course a quart is not nearly enough. The next step up is a gallon, which is too much to buy and just eat. So I made this strawberry pie. I adapted the recipe from "The New Joy of Cooking."

First, the crust. I made a pat-in-the-crust of:
1 1/2 Cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbsp butter, softened, cut into chunks.
2 Tbsp buttermilk

In a food processor, mix the flour and salt, add in the butter. Process til crumby. Drizzle the buttermilk over top, process until everything is wet. (the original recipe called for heavy cream, which I don't have).

Press into a 9-inch pie plate, prick with a fork, and bake for 15 minutes or so in a 400 degree oven.


6 Cups cleaned and stemmed strawberries. Puree 2 cups in food processor.

In a saucepan combine:
3/4 Cup Agave Nectar (or 1 Cup sugar)
1/4 C cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
Whisk in
1/4 Cup water (or 1/2 cup water if using sugar)
Stir in:
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tblsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Bring to a simmer over low heat, whisking constantly. Allow to simmer another minute.

In the baked pie shell, arrange 2 cups of the strawberries (cut them into uniform-sized pieces), pour over half the cooked glaze, then the remaining 2 cups of strawberries, and the remaining glaze. Refrigerate until thoroughly cold.

I suspect the original pie, with the refined sugar, has a clearer glaze. I just suspect that.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mensa Boy & Wanda

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
We had a few minutes last night to take photos of the chicks. I'll post more later. Here is a shot of Mensa Boy and Wanda.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bear & Sheryl

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
This is the closest Bear has gotten to one of the chicks and she's handling it quite well. This is the last chick to receive a name. I think it will be Sheryl. It was Mensa Boy's idea. Of course.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
South Carolina is draped all over with Wisteria now. I know my mom complains all the time about how allergic she is to it, but it doesn't bother me at all. I'd much rather have this than Lilac, which just the mere scent of can send me into paroxysms of sneezing. Lilac doesn't grow here. Aw shuuuucks!

I shot this on the walk into 40-Acre Rock last Friday. I struggled with the greens in Photoshop, but every time I got them looking the way I wanted, the wisteria got odd-looking. Then I remembered the greens actually were kind of yellowish.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Here is a link to Willow Hill Araucana Farm in Washington state. My friend the chicken breeder says Amelia is an araucana.

Amelia (Earhart)

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Introducing Amelia. She is the first of my 4 chicks to receive a name. That's because she's the first to show us a personality. And that personality is calculating and desiring flight!

She was looking up at me last night when I went to check on them. At least, I thought she was looking at me. But then I realized, as she swiveled her head around, that she was looking at the top edges of the box. Then she just took a little hop, flapped her wings, and flew straight up at me! She came about 4 inches from the top of the box before dropping back down.

I need to ask my friend Rick again what kind she is. We picked out 4 chicks yesterday afternoon. I'll keep them here for about a month and then we'll introduce them to bff's flock. They will live there with her seven.

Our yogafarm is coming along nicely. The beds are all turned and Mensa Boy is finishing framing in the ones that needed it. We'll start planting greens pretty soon, and we'll start the other seeds in pots.

Three more chicks need names.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Miniature Field of Red

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
Another photo of flowers from 40 Acre Rock. There are little tiny colonies of these flowers everywhere. I had no idea at first what they might be, but then I got to wondering if they might be some kind of sedum?

40 Acre Rock

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
What a cool place! We drove to the very southern end of Lancaster County yesterday afternoon to explore 40 Acre Rock. (It's really more like 14 acres, guys)

It's just a big granite outcropping right on the edge of the Piedmont and Sandhills regions of South Carolina in the Flat Creek Preserve. It's pretty well hidden in the a wooded area. This is intentional, apparently, because of its delicate ecosystem.

We stayed mostly on the rock, where we saw amazing displays of swamp jasmine and a few small sedum and wildflowers. I took my Canon Powershot point & shoot because it has a macro setting. (I don't have a macro lens for the Nikon. Yet.) That's how I captured this closeup of this little blue flower. Carter, if you are still reading. let me know what this is, ok?

I needs to go back there. Again and again. There are hiking trails in there and apparently even a small waterfall. The rock itself has a bit of graffiti on it, but not as bad as I expected. I suspect the local conservancy has effectively shut down most of the abuse by local teens and rednecks by shutting off the unpaved road that takes you to the rock. You have to park and walk to get in.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Peach Tree Blossoms

Things are bustin' out all over here in SC and that means many of my friends and family are suffering from allergies. YogiLiz is rubbing her eyes and Taylor is sneezing his fool head off. My car has it's first of many coatings of yellow pollen. Today we noticed that I have hand-print shaped pollen on my car windows. Apparently the pollen just adhered to the oils of the hands that had been placed there.

Thursday night we went on a shootout, intending to start with the peach trees and end with the full moon. But by 9:15 I was ready to bag it from cold and fatigue. On the way home we did see the biggest, most fantastic orange-colored moon I've think I've ever seen.

Spring break started at 3:30 yesterday afternoon and I'm hoping there will be many shootouts in the coming 9 days, as well as many asana practices, plenty of time vegging on the patio or porch, and maybe a nap or two thrown in.

Happy Easter everyone. He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Much-Maligned Bradford Pear

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
They are gorgeous. For the week they are in bloom. Then they just turn into a dumb ole non-specific tree. Contractors like to plant them in new neighborhoods because they grow fast and are showy when they bloom. And they bloom in early spring, when lot of folks are out shopping for houses.

But the trees are not very strong. After they are full grown they can be easily blown over in a bad storm, particularly ice storms. And then you've lost a mature tree and you have to get it taken out and start all over.

But they sure are pretty right now.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chasing Sunsets

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic
You really have to chase to get good sunset shots here in Indian Land. Ones that don't have power lines in them. I took this on at the high school. It was a bit late by the time I found the spot to shoot from.

Yesterday I ate chicken pot pie for supper. eh. I made it for the guys and then went to a library board meeting. By time I got back it was late and I was hungry enough to just grab. I think as chicken pot pies go it was probably pretty good. But I didn't enjoy burping up chicken after that. Maybe I am becoming a dyed-in-the-wool vegetarian. At any rate, I'm sure it will be while before I try poultry again. And just the smell of beef kind of puts me off. Too heavy.

Tonight I had a massage after school and then dinner with my jazzerfriend Terri. Long, long conversations. Good for the soul but now I'm tired.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The March to Geezer-dom

Since January, when I became a vegetarian, I've been taking a multi-vitamin that was recommended by my massage therapist. I do feel great these days and I don't know if it's the vitamins, the veggie diet, the yoga, meditation, or whatever. But I do not want to change anything and risk going back to be a tired old hag. So I bought another bottle of vitamins yesterday at Earth Fare.

"Hey Liz! These senior vitamins are $7 less than the other ones and they are for 50 and older!"

"Hey Liz! Read these two bottles, will ya, and see if there is any real difference. It's way to much info for me to take in."

"Gee Liz, you'd think they'd make the print bigger on the senior bottle."

After studying the bottles, she announced that the senior vitamins seem to have more Vit D and the herbal ingredients are a little different but seem to be after about the same results. So why not?

No. I did not get an AARP discount. I didn't ask and it wouldn't have done any good anyway, since my AARP SPOUSE MEMBER CARD WAS STOLEN WITH MY WALLET! argh.

We finished the afternoon baking two batches of vegan cupcakes...carrot and chocolate. Both extremely delicious. We did have one minor snafu with the carrot cake ones. We had overfilled the muffin cups, so they adhered to the tops of the cups in the pan and had to be cut out. This made some of the tops pretty loose. We'd been dipping the chocolate ones in the glaze and, without thinking, scooped up a carrot one and tried to dip it. The entire lid came off in the bowl of frosting and we had to fish it out!

But all was not lost. We just got it out and mounded it on top with the frosting. I think it actually looked like on of the best ones.
This recipe was on a website Liz found. It's essentially all vegan cupcakes, all the time. It think it's this one.

Monday, March 15, 2010

It's a Vision Thing NOT!

"Thing is," I told Mensa Boy, "I can see just fine."

"'parently not," he said. And then went on to point out that I can just get the eyes enhanced fairly inexpensively with the Ophthalmologist that did the Lasik and then just move on.

"Thing is, I can see just fine." I repeated.

And that's what the optometrist said too. "I don't know...your eyes are 20/20," he said. Could be a problem with the machine, a problem with the operator. No ideas.

Back to the DMV. My 6-minute wait of last Friday was just a pipe dream today. I waited almost an hour before it was my turn.

But now I have a license again. I can be identified. I. Am BONAFIDE!

Friday, March 12, 2010

It's a Vision Thing

"I've got real problems, don't I?" I said to the lady at the DMV this morning.

"I'm afraid so," she said.

She sounded cautious, as most people are who deal with the public when they have to give bad news. I recognize the sound because I sound that way sometimes in my line of work.

My wallet was stolen on Monday. I haven't really wanted to say much about it because it was stolen at school. From my office, from my purse, that was in my tote bag, that lives on the floor next to my desk wedged between the wall and side of the desk. Was it stupid for me to leave it there? Well yes. But I still haven't wanted to say much because I still want to protect the image of our school as safe place. But of course any public place...any high school...any school at all for that going to have this kind of thing happen.

I noticed it missing Monday around lunchtime but didn't report it until Tuesday because I wanted to make sure it wasn't home or in the car or wherever. But I finally reported it, the School Resource Officer made a report, MB and I cancelled my two check cards and one credit card Monday night. No harm done. Except for the missing $40, his movie gift certificate the youth at church had given him, my Olive Garden certificate from my boss...nothing else had any value. Well, the wallet itself had some value to me. It was a $32 Vera Bradley wallet.

I know my friends can't believe I'd ever have something as fem-my as a VB wallet, but it was black & brown. As un-fem-my as I could get. But it had GREAT FEATURES! It was just the right size, had just the right crevices. Everything.

Oh. So the DMV.

I had to get a new driver's license. I couldn't renew mine online because I had a CDL...commercial driver's license. So I went to the DMV and told them I wanted to surrender the CDL and just get the basic license again. My physical certificate had expired a couple of years ago and I never intend to drive those kinds of vehicles again, so why not? This was the first gingerly-spoken bit by the lady:

"Well ma'am, that means you'll have to pay $25 because we'll have to surrender this and start with a new license."
"And take an eye test."

And now we are at the beginning of this story. Yup. Couldn't pass it. It's the left eye. Did I not notice this coming on? No, not really. Sure, my eyes have seemed a tiny bit blurry in the past little bit. But they always do this time of year when stuff starts blooming. Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis. Get some Patanol eye drops from the doc, I'm all fixed up.


Well, I have an appointment for Monday at noon at the guys' optometrist. (Mine is not available until March 25.) It seemed like I shouldn't wait that long. And he'll probably have to give me a contact or something for the time being. Then I'll go to the guy who did my Lasik in 2004 or whenever and see about having and enhancement done. Sheesh!

I also bought a new Vera Bradley wallet while I was out putting Charlotte drivers in mortal danger. I found the same design, but the fabric is nowhere near what I'd like. All bright, shiny colors with flowers and crap. A bit too fem-my.

So that's how I've spent my furlough day. A day in which I did not work at my job, did not get paid for the time off, and moreover shelled out and will shell out more money.

Morning Stretch

I began the day with Kundalini, my favorite energizing yoga style. On a good week (by that I mean a week where I get up early enough), I'll do kundalini 4-5 times. I have a recorded set I follow in the early hours, mainly because my brain is not turned on enough to read directions. We're talking 4:30 a.m. folks.

But today is FURLOUGH DAY! So I got up at 7 and started in on a practice that I picked out from my book. After a series of spinal warm-ups, I decided to follow a kriya that is supposed to "awaken the ten bodies." I don't have time, so I won't go into what all that means.

But the first pose, which I've done a few times in the past, just about sent me back to bed to hide under the covers. It's this one depicted above (I stole the photo from the Anmolmehta website. Thank you Anmolemehta!). The Stretch Pose. Looks simple doesn't it? WELL! IT'S NOT! And this fella doesn't seem to be doing Breath of Fire either, which my book instructed me to do. You're supposed to hold it 2 to 3 minutes while doing Breath of Fire. I'll explain that in another post sometime too. I ended up doing just one leg at a time and then held both legs up for about 10 seconds. I think I should maybe try to do this every day for a while so I can see if I can build up some strength.

So that's what I did. And a few other poses. And then I reset the security on our wireless router, cleaned up my desk, and now I'm going to get my new driver's license (which, of course, was in the wallet that was stolen on Monday...sheesh!), meet buddy Nannette for lunch, and shop for a new wallet (to replace the one I loved. I think I'm just going to go back to the same place and see if I can get another just like it).

And that's my day. Yours?

Sunday, March 07, 2010

One Day, Two Creepy Movies

I don't actually watch these kinds of movies very often, so it's even more odd that I managed to watch two in one day. Joshua is about this little boy who is older than his 9 years, and whose parents have a new baby, Lily. Joshua is a gifted pianist and is very close to his maternal uncle.

Remember that Twilight Zone episode with the little boy Anthony, who could control an entire town with his thoughts? "It's a Good Life" was the name of the episode. This movie reminds me of that.

People around Joshua are going insane and animals...well...animals are experiencing something a little more permanent.

Good movie.

Then I watched "Knowing." This one has Nick Cage in it and it's pretty good. I'm glad I didn't pay to watch it in a theatre, though. It reminded me of "Sixth Sense" a bit. Little boy Caleb hears whispers and it turns out that a little girl at his same elementary school heard those whispers too 50 years ago. But these are whispers of truth and that little girl is hearing of events that will happen over the course of the the next 50 years. Caleb's dad is a professor at MIT and figures out what is happening. And of course is going to try to stop some of those things from happening.

It's a pretty good movie. A bit predictable, though.

Spring is Springing!

It's about noon on Sunday and I'm sitting on my patio grilling turkey burgers for my guys. Even though we've lived here over 7 years, I still can scarce believe it when I can do such a thing in March. It's a gloriously sunny day and should hit the low 60s. I'd like to go on a jaunt this afternoon. We'll see. We've had a very long run of nasty weather lately. Just five days ago we had snow piling up.

We are going to start the garden planning in earnest in the next couple of days. Our plan is to crew up with YogiLiz and garden on her property. Because...she HAS property! We don't really have a good situation for gardening here. Liz likes to garden but it's too much for just one person. MensaBoy offered his services as slave so why not? He'll prep the soil for us, with the able assistance of Riley and Taylor, and we hope to plant a big enough garden to sustain both families and put up some things, like tomatoes, for winter.

However, MB has a caveat. He wants us to plan moringa plants. And he's ordered the seeds already. Apparently this plant is a miracle. You can read about it here. Could be interesting. At the very least it looks like a pretty plant! I guess it's actually a tree but you can prune it to more plant-like. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

These are actually called "Only-Kids-Need-Apply Muffins" in my muffin cookbook, "Gloria's Glorious Muffins."

But frankly, I wouldn't waste these on kids. I used my $5-a-bag grain-sweetened chocolate chips in them. And my all-natural peanut butter. I doubt those galutes would appreciate the commitment I made to these!

We had a 2-hour school delay this morning so it seemed like the perfect time to bake.

1 C whole-wheat pastry flour (I used white because that's what I have right now)
1 C whole-wheat flour
1/2 C unbleached white flour
1/4 C toasted wheat germ
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

Sift together those together in a big bowl. Toss in
1 1/4 C carob chips (my grain-sweetened choc chips. and I only had one cup)

Set aside.

1 C hot water
1/2 C chunky peanut butter (I used smooth)
1 C soy or cow's milk (I used vanilla soy)
1/4 C canola oil
1/4 C honey, warmed slightly

Blend those together in a smaller bowl. I used my immersion blender.

Pour wet into dry, mix just until longer than that!
Spoon into muffin cups or tins. You're supposed to get 12, but I got 14.

Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes. Cool in baking tins for another 10 minutes.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Tostadas with Homemade Refritos

It was a decadent meal last night. That's what it all boiled down to. It just was further proof that a vegetarian diet holds many delights that you never thought of before.

It began Saturday afternoon when I soaked the pintos. I intended to make the refried beans and do tostadas Sunday but got sidetracked and made this DELICIOUS Hungarian Mushroom Soup instead. I wanted to get those mushes out of the fridge and into the pot.

Back to the refritos: Yesterday I came home from work to change before going for a massage. I put the beans on to simmer while I was gone. (leaving Taylor with instructions to turn them off then the timer went off)When I got home the beans were cooked to a fairly good tender stage. If I'd been here I would have given them a little time, but I felt they were done enough to avoid any gastronomic upset. I sauteed onion, garlic, a little red bell pepper, cumin and salt in a big frying pan and then dropped in the beans. I then mashed the whole shooting match with my potato masher.

And here's the really decadent part: I fried fresh corn tortillas. I remember when we were kids Mom used to do that. At that time pre-fried or baked and shaped taco shells weren't on the market yet. Oh man! Nothing does it like freshly-fried tortillas.

And so I fried, and the three of us built, and we had a fantastic meal.

The refrito recipes is from the New Moosewood Cookbook, of course. I really enjoy Mollie Katzen's tips on how to eat a tostada:

"Take a crisp tortilla and place it on your place. add a spoonful of refritos, and spread them imaginatively in place. sprinkle on some grated cheese, followed by an elaborate mound of assorted accessories, the height of which considers the dimensions of your mouth. Ladle on a little sauce, or spoon on some salsa. Now you are ready to make a noble attempt to eat it daintily. Keep your plate under your chin to catch what falls or drips."

Given my guys and their addiction to all things sandwiche, they just used two tortillas and made sandwich tostadas. And then we ate them with forks for the most part.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Grace Under Pressure

"They couldn't do the surgery," my friend J told me this afternoon. The pancreatic cancer had spread further than they thought and so J, whose husband passed away from the same cancer one year ago today, was told that surgery was not an option for her sister.

J's sister L is quite a bit older than she and I are. I believe the difference is something like 16 or 18 years. L and her husband D have been close to my heart since shortly after we moved here to Indian Land. L had breast cancer some years ago and was going through the same fatigue symptoms from her medication that I was going through at the beginning of my menopause journey. Often she and I would look at each other in church and just sigh, knowing that we each understood how the other felt and both too tired to really talk about it. Hubby D has been my de facto big brother, in almost every sense of the word. I know he would turn himself inside-out to protect me and he also likes to patronize me in the same way a real big brother can. He's always as quick with a hug and backrub as he is to tease me about my wine drinking.

We don't know what is in store for L. Ever the optimist, I'm told she is still positive tonight from her hospital bed. It's too soon for her to go, I'm thinkin', and I'm concerned for J, who has lost so much.

And yet, as J told me this news today, we hugged, she told me she loved me, and she asked me how I was. This is a very special family. A very grace-filled family.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Day That Could Only End with French Fries

I had a big bowl of french fries for supper. yup. me. I rarely do that, but today was that day. Since I have no guts and I'm heavily medicated, I can't really blame it on pms. I blame it on this realization I had today: I am quite certain that there is NO WAY that one person can get everything done that I need to get done by the time school is out.

When I realized this, at approximately 9 a.m. today, I stopped breathing. Well, I was actually breathing, but not really efficiently. Just sort of short, shallow breaths, and not very many of them. I'll need to pull out all the stops at home to keep body and soul together. Or rather to put body and soul back together. Because every weekday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. my body and soul will be sucked of all life.

I started back on my Qi Gong DVD today after work to see if that would help. I think it will. I hope to continue it every day for 21 days to establish the habit. I've never done the entire DVD, and I don't really plan to. I plan to do 20 minutes at a time until I learn all the movements. I then went to yoga.

It was after yoga that the french fry frenzy started. During which time we also watched Monday's "24" episode.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Just Call Him "Animal"

Riley stopped, panting, in the doorway of my room.
"Bob is an animal!" he said.

And then he proceeded to tell me about their cross-country run after work today. "I had to stop a couple of times," he said.

I told him about following Bob up Crowder's Mountain last fall. "I suggested once that he maybe just PRETEND he was breathing hard."

We are now eating sweet potato pancakes (The New Moosewood Cookbook," of course). And bacon. They are eating bacon. I tasted a bit the size of my fingernail. Nah. Not really appealing. They are testing various toppings for the pancakes. Like a science experiment. "I'm thinking butter and sugar," one says. "I don't know, I think the maple syrup is the best," another says. "Why not creole seasoning?" (this from Taylor, of course.)

Whatever. As long as they are happy. And they get to stand up while eating around the counter. Why do guys like to eat standing up?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Change: Inevitable, Embraceable

The Five Remembrances

I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.

I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

A version of the Buddha's Five Remembrances, offered by Thich Nhat Hanh in The Plum Village Chanting Book (Parallax Press, 1991).

To read more about change and dealing with it, take a look at this article in Yoga Journal.