Sunday, January 30, 2011

Winter Thoughts

Snow Toward Evening
Suddenly the sky turned gray,
The day,
Which had been bitter and chill,
Grew soft and still.
From some invisible blossoming tree
Millions of petals cool and white
Drifted and blew,
Lifted and flew
Fell with the falling night.
by Melville Cane

As I pen this blog the snow just keeps on falling and falling. While the whole outside scene is quite picturesque I for one breathe a sigh of relief that January will soon be but a memory!! It has seemed long :)
Before Christmas I posted a recipe for Sand Art Brownies that I had made in mason jars for gifts. I recently found a twist on this same idea called Sand Art Cookies. I posted a picture of the unusual packaging for these sand art cookies I purchased at bake sale. The ingredients were layered in a triangular cone shape piece. With Valentine's Day just around the corner perhaps you might be looking for an easy gift idea. If you use a quart mason jar try adding a red ribbon around the mouth of the jar and then attach the recipe card and baking instructions to it.
Sand Art Cookies
adapted from
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup quick rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup baking M & M's
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1-1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup crisp rice cereal
  • 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • Layer ingredients in a quart jar in the following order above-but note: that the baking powder and salt should be mixed into flour mixture before layering it
  • Preheat oven 350
  • Lightly Grease cookie sheet
  • Empty contents of jar to a bowl and add 1 jumbo egg, 1/2 cup margarine and 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Mix well and form into 1 inch balls
  • Bake 10-12 minutes
  • Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Plunge

According to Wikipedia a polar bear plunge is an event held during winter where participants enter a body of water despite low temperatures usually to raise money for charitable organizations.
Many of these Polar Bear events are held throughout the US as well as Canada and other countries. FYI: Maryland can boast about having the Plungapolooza, which is the largest Polar Bear plunge event in the US with over some 12,000 participants raising well over 2 million dollars for Special Olympics.
But really I think it just as noteworthy when some local residents plunged into the frigid lake waters of northern Minnesota for the Polar Bear Plunge. Be aware that the outside temperatures hovered around 14 degrees and a water temperature at 34. But for the end of January in northern Minnesota this is considered a balmy temperature.
Wonder what the temperature is like in Maryland???
I was in awe watching teams of people wearing only their summer swimming attire take the plunge into the lake. The proceeds from this event went to support the work of a medical clinic in the local community.
Enjoy the photos :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Pop of Color

"Cobalt and umber and ultramarine
Ivory black and emerald green-
What shall I paint to give pleasure to you?"
"Paint for me somebody utterly new."
first stanza from poem The Paint Box
by E.V. Rieu

Depending on where you live, mid January often lacks those springtime colors we yearn for this time of the year. So as I took a walk in the snowy Northwoods I decided there must be some way to infuse a bit of color into the day. I looked over some of my resources and thought posting these photos that showed a pop of color might be a good day brightener.
Each of the following recipes have a pop of color and are quite appealing when served. Oh..and I need to mention the best part is each recipe is heart healthy without sacrificing any taste.
Sweet and Spicy Chicken Stir-Fry
adapted from Woman's Day magazine February 2011
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • 2 TB. cider vinegar
  • 1 TB. grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper flakes
  • 3 tsp. canola oil
  • 1 lb. chicken breasts sliced thinly
  • 2 medium carrots sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 lb. snow peas-halved diagonally lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup green onions chopped
  • 2 TB. cornstarch mixed with 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 3/4 cup cashews
  • In a bowl combine preserves, vinegar, ginger, red pepper flakes and 2 TB. water-set aside
  • Heat oil in wok or large skillet
  • Cook chicken in pan till browned several minutes per side
  • Mix in a small bowl 2 TB. cornstarch and 1/3 cup orange juice
  • In skillet or wok add cornstarch mixture, preserve mixture, carrots, snow peas, chicken and cook on low heat about 30-40 minutes. Mixture should be slightly thickened.
  • Serve over rice and sprinkle cashews on top
Butternut Squash Risotto
  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium butternut squash (about 1lb.) cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 3/4 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3-1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 TB. parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano
  • Heat oil in skillet add onion and cloves of garlic-cook about 6 minutes till tender
  • Add squash, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • Cover and cook till squash is beginning to soften about 5 -6 minutes
  • Stir in rice and cook for 1 minute
  • Add wine and simmer until absorbed 8-10 minutes
  • Add half the broth and simmer, stirring once until absorbed about 8-10 minutes
  • Add remaining broth and simmer stirring once until rice is tender and creamy about 8 minutes
  • Stir in thyme, parsley and Romano
Braised Flank Steak with Peppers and Onions
  • 1 onion cut into wedges
  • 1 red and 1 green pepper seeded and cut in slices
  • 1- 28 oz. can diced tomatoes(garlic and basil and oregano)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. flank steak cut crosswise into thirds
  • 3 medium carrots sliced diagonally
  • 1-1/2 cups white rice cooked following package directions
  • 1/2 mang0 cut in pieces
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup red wine such as Merlot-Pinot Noir
  • fresh pineapple
  • In a slow cooker combine onion, peppers, tomatoes, chili powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper, wine
  • Place the beef among the vegetables and liquid-cook covered till meat tender and easily pulls apart on low for 5-6 hours check a few times during cooking might need to add a bit of water
  • Serve over rice and top with mango pieces and pineapple

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Riddle:

This object is usually round with holes and attaches to something using thread?
The Button.
This word is derived from the French bouton meaning anything round -such as a bud or knob.
All this button thinking started with a small book I recently discovered on the history of buttons. Now I am aware this isn't exactly a gripping topic but there really is a lot of history associated with them. Plus think of all the clever things people make using buttons. One of my favorite images of brass buttons comes from the story Peter Rabbit. Remember how Peter narrowly escapes out of Mr. McGregor's garden but leaves behind his blue jacket with a missing brass button in the gooseberry net?
For some, buttons remain a source of intrigue and fascination. They are objects to be pursued and hoarded and collected like gems or gold. Buttons have a long history dating back to prehistoric times. Though buttons were used for thousands of years, the buttonhole was not invented until sometime in the 13th century. It is thought that buttons may have been brought to Europe from the Middle East by knights returning as Crusaders. Buttons through the ages have been made from a variety of materials including wood, bone, brass, pewter, gold, plastic, silver, ivory, tortoiseshell and horns.

Some interesting trivia I came across as I looked delved more into the history of buttons
  • There does exist a National Button Society with more than 3,000 members on 4 continents with 39 of the 50 states representing state and local chapters. If you go online your search will let you know if there is a Button Chapter in your area. Membership is always open!
  • The National Button Convention will be held this summer in Grand Rapids, MI
  • Between 1840-1950 hotel bellboys and pages were commonly referred to as Buttons, no doubt for all their buttons on their uniforms.
  • There is an island in Hingham, MA called Button Island. This is the only island in the world named for a button.
  • Button is actually a proper name, though not very popular in America. But one of the most famous American to have the name was Button Gwinnet, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
  • The first buttons made in the US were made of metal in 1750. These brass buttons were manufactured in PA.
  • The Chinese used to wear five buttons on their coat as symbols of the five principal virtues: Justice, Humanity, Order, Prudence, and Rectitude.
  • In World War I, the British Army used 367 different kinds of buttons on a variety of garments. Buttons were considered so important that the Army spent $500,000 per year just for the paste to polish the buttons.
  • According to fashion historians the reason men have buttons on the right side of shirt dates back to the 15th century. It is easier for for most people to dress themselves from right to left.
  • Women's clothing have buttons on the left because those who could afford expensive buttons in the 5 th century had dressing servants. These maids being mostly right handed had to fasten their mistresses' garments found task easier if buttons were on the left. Tailors complied and the convention has never been altered.
As a man is judged
by the company he keeps,
so a garment is judged by
the buttons you find on it.

Biographies are but the clothes
and buttons of the man-
the biography of the man himself
can not be written.
Mark Twain

Information sources Internet and The Button Book by Diana Epstein

Citrus Salad-serves 10 Note: this is a salad recipe previously posted with some revisions


  • ½ pink grapefruit –peeled and sectioned
  • 2-3 oranges peeled and sectioned (pat dry on paper towel)
  • ½ cucumber sliced into halves
  • 1 ½ cups walnuts
  • 1 large of spinach /mixed greens
  • ½ red onion-sliced and separated into rings
  • 1 cup toasted coconut-optional
  • ½ package Fresh Gourmet Wonton Strips (found in produce)

Directions: In a large bowl toss all ingredients

  • Toast coconut on a cookie sheet
  • To serve: toss salad mixture with prepared dressing just enough to moisten and sprinkle with coconut, nuts
  • Dressing:Old Dutch Sweet and Sour or Ken's Steak House Lite Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Perfect Day

When I get a little money I buy books.
And if there there is any left over,
I buy food.
Dutch Humanist 1466-1536

Today's featured poem on is Three Perfect Days by Linda Pastan. The poem speaks to the writer's experience about reading an in flight magazine on a plane about three perfect days somewhere. Linda Pastan poem speaks to how she would settle for one perfect day somewhere without mosquitoes, traffic and newspaper headlines.
So... have you ever thought about how you might spend a perfect day? For me part of the day would be reading to get through that ever rising and never ending pile of books and magazines. Today as I sorted through some titles I have some recommends for you just in case you might consider skipping work one day to catch up on your reading.
Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison is a moving memoir about a man who was not diagnosed with Aspergers till his forties. He shares his perception what it is like to live with this syndrome. His life story is rather amazing in the sense he grew up in a dysfunctional family but still managed to find his niche in life designing innovative sound systems and effects for rock and roll bands, developing electronic games for Milton Bradley and fixing high end cars. Besides learning about his life the book could be considered a teaching tool for mental health educators.
Susan Vreeland's five previous novels explore a variety of art related themes. I particularly liked Girl in Hyacinth Blue and Luncheon of the Boating Party. Her newest book Clara and Mr. Tiffany is a fascinating read of Clara Driscoll, the creative impetus behind the iconic Tiffany lamps. The book follows her story for 15 years beginning in 1890. The reader is given a glimpse of what life was like for the Tiffany girls who labored in the workrooms of New York creating lamps and windows.
Need a jump start to your day? Then this is just the recipe for you. It has spice, flavor and lots of kick! I have noted some modifications.
Mexican Brunch Squares
  • 1 lb. of chorizo sausage cooked, drained and crumbled
  • 1-1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1- 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup frozen corn thawed out about 10 minutes
  • 1 cup canned black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup mild thick chunky salsa with spices
  • 2-3 cups cheese (I used package of Kraft Mexican 4 cheeses)
  • Heat oven to 375
  • Grease very well sides and bottom of 13 x 9 pan
  • Use a whisk or hand mixer and beat flour, seasoning, baking powder, baking soda, eggs, milk, cornmeal, salsa until well blended
  • Fold in cooked sausage, corn, black beans
  • Pour into greased pan
  • Sprinkle with cheese
  • Bake 20-25 minutes or until puffy and golden brown
  • Let set for a few minutes before cutting
  • To serve: place a tablespoon of the following mixture on top of each slice-tomatoes,olives, lettuce and a bit of salsa

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I am having some difficulties using Facebook to post my blog. Until I can figure out what to do please keep checking my blog from time to time to see what I have written.


by Milica Franchi

Silence speaks
Silence screams
Silence talks louder
than any other word
that cuts true the heart
like a sword.

Silence speaks
Silence screams
Silence echoes in my ears
to my eyes it brings tears.

Silence speaks
Silence screams
Silence drives me
around the bend.
What's the problem I do not understand.

Silence speaks
Silence screams
Silence is the weapon of your choice
To cut through my heart
Like a sword
without saying a single word.

An interesting writing link is Tim Rundquist's Jan 19th blog posting: January Silence. It can be found at This piece exemplifies two key ingredients in quality writing. The first is the ability to perceive with all one's senses everything that is happening at a particular moment. The second ingredient is the importance of silence. Check it out and try writing your own piece about silence.
So keeping up with the southern/Mexican recipes this week try this easy cake.
Margarita Cake
  • 1 box of lemon cake mix (can use orange cake mix)
  • 1 box (3.4 oz ) instant vanilla pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup water (I used orange juice but could also substitute pineapple juice)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tequila
  • 2 TB. Triple Sec liqueur
  • Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan
  • Beat all the ingredients for two minutes
  • Bake 30-40 minutes till center comes out clean at 350
  • Cool and add glaze
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2TB.lime juice
  • 1 TB. tequila
  • 1TB. Triple Sec
Recipe from

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Keeping up the heat

Henry Ford Quotes
It has been my observation that most
people get ahead during the time that
others waste.

You say I started out with practically
nothing, but that isn't correct. We all
start with all there is. It's how we use
it that makes things possible.

Chili Stuffed Green Pepper
  • 1 cup onion
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 TB. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 2 TB. tomato paste
  • 1 cup cooked white or Spanish rice
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (garlic, onion, basil)
  • 6 green peppers rinsed, cleaned and seeded
  • Grease a 9 x 9 baking dish
  • Slice small piece piece off bottom of each pepper to make sure it can stand upright
  • Clean and scoop out seeds of peppers and set aside
  • Saute chopped onion and 1 garlic clove in 1 TB. oil
  • Add to hamburger-brown-drain and add the seasonings, rice, diced tomatoes and tomato paste
  • Stuff each pepper and cover baking dish
  • Bake 30-40 minutes
  • Uncover and sprinkle each with Monterrey Jack cheese
  • Place back in oven and bake 5 minutes longer uncovered
Chili Gumbo
  • 1- 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 lb. smoked sausage cooked - drained cut in 1 inch pieces
  • 1 chicken breast cooked and cubed
  • 2 cans- (10 oz.) diced tomatoes with seasonings
  • 2 cups V8 juice
  • 1- 10 oz. frozen cut okra that has been thawed
  • 1 green chilie
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups chicken broth (low salt)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can black-eyed peas drained
  • 2 TB. parsley flakes
  • 1 TB. chili powder
  • 3 cups white rice cooled
  • Saute onion with garlic and pepper
  • Add juice, broth seasonings, cooked sausage, chicken, okra , beans
  • Cover and cook over medium low heat 45-60 minutes
  • Remove bay leaf
  • Serve over rice and another option is skip rice and add spiral pasta to gumbo soup

Monday, January 17, 2011

And the answer is...

I owe my success to the fact that
I never had a clock in my workroom.
The answer to yesterday's quotes blog posting is Thomas Edison.
Edison held a world record of 1093 patents for inventions. It has been said he thought the phonograph (1877) was his favorite invention but the light bulb is considered by many to be his greatest invention.
Edison purchased over 13 acres along the Caloosahatchee River in 1885 at Ft. Myers, Florida. It was here that he created an estate that included two homes and a laboratory. In 1916 his good friend Henry Ford, purchased the estate next to his property called The Mangoes. Edison after years of studying natural materials that produced latex, began to plant hundreds of varieties of trees and plants. The native India Banyan Tree on the property today was a gift from the tire industrialist Harvey Firestone in 1925. At the time of the planting the tree was 4 feet high. Today it is an acre in diameter and has some 350 roots. I posted some pictures taken on the Edison estate.
Strawberry Salsa
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 green pepper seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 cups diced strawberries
  • 3 kiwis sliced
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 TB. lime juice
  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • Mix well in a bowl
  • Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours
Corn and Tomato Salsa
  • 1 cup fresh corn or frozen corn thawed
  • 1 large tomato diced
  • 2/3 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup canned black beans drained
  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • 1 TB. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 jalapeno chile seeded and minced
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • Mix well in a bowl
  • Cover and refrigerate several hours
Check back on Tuesday for Chili Stuffed Green Pepper and Chili Gumbo
Wednesday Margarita Cake and Mexican Chocolate Brownies

Sunday, January 16, 2011

And he said...

Quotes by a famous inventor
To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.

I have respect for the fellow with a single idea who gets there than for the fellow with a thousand ideas who does nothing.

Of all my inventions, I like the phonograph the best.

A man's best friend is a good wife.

Only a few quotes from a well learned self taught man. His accomplishments are many. To find out his name check back on Monday's blog for answer.
Also coming on Monday several new Mexican main dish and salad recipes. And some yummy salsa dishes to go with them.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr its cold out and...

I don't mean the Midwest. I happen to be visiting one of the only states in US that currently is not experiencing any measurable snowfall. Can you guess? And its not Hawaii but Florida!
Today the temperatures here have dropped quite a bit and believe it or not the 30's seem cold. So not quite ready to hit the beach in shorts just yet. Will keep you posted. is an interesting site I recently heard about.
The Writer's Almanac Newsletter showcases poems, prose and literary history from Garrison Keillor. It is a free subscription that comes directly to your inbox each day. In addition subscribers can search for any poems by titles or authors.
Check it out. Fun to listen to Garrison read each day a selected poem of his choosing.

January Thaw-Soups 'on

Beautiful Soup by Lewis Carroll

BEAUTIFUL Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!

Beau--ootiful Soo-oop!
Beau--ootiful Soo-oop!
Soo--oop of the e--e--evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!

Beautiful Soup! Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth only of Beautiful Soup?
Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?

Beau--ootiful Soo-oop!
Beau--ootiful Soo-oop!
Soo--oop of the e--e--evening,
Beautiful, beauti--FUL SOUP!

A chilly, snowy day in January doesn't seem so bad when served a bowl of warm, tasty and nourishing soup. Recently I was lucky to have lunch at a friend's house and she served Sirloin Vegetable Soup. It was the perfect meal for the day and she graciously supplied the recipe which is posted at the end of this blog.

It got me thinking about silly poems and ones written about soup. Have you heard the poem above by Lewis Carroll Beautiful Soup? I have also seen it titled Turtle Soup. I love the poem for its repetition of words and sounds. Lewis Carroll was the pen name for Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. He mastered the genre of literary nonsense. Not only is he known for poems with nonsensical lyrics but also the story Alice in Wonderland which truly made him famous. But few know that he also was a church deacon and mathematician. As I was doing a bit of sleuthing on the Internet I found a wonderful reading on the You Tube site of this poem Beautiful Soup by Nigel Planer. You can get to this site by going to Lewis Carroll You Tube and this site also has a reading of his famous poem Jabberwocky.


Sirloin Vegetable Soup

from Elaine's Sirloin Soup

adapted by Dennie


  • 1 TB butter
  • 1 lb. sirloin diced
  • 2 TB. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup V8 juice
  • 1 can tomatoes (Contadina brand)
  • 8 large carrots diced
  • 3 ribs of celery
  • 1/2 onion cut and diced
  • 2 cups diced sweet potatoes
  • 2 medium red potatoes cut and diced
  • 1 tsp. McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning


  • Cook sirloin pieces in butter and saute with onion about 5-7 minutes
  • Sprinkle steak seasonings and Worcestershire sauce over meat cook a few minutes longer till browned
  • Pour in water, broth, V8 juice and vegetables
  • Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat 1 hour to 2 hours ( a crock pot on low would work well with this recipe for several hours )
  • Cook till vegetables tender
  • optional adding 4 oz. egg noddles the last 10 minutes of cooking

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Rescue Mission

It seems one of my relatives went on a rescue mission recently to find adoptive homes for two sock monkeys who had been residents of the Red Heel Monkey Shelter. Refer to blog posting Dec. 17th Sock Monkey Attire for more specific information on the shelter.
This young sock monkey (see photo posted) was delivered to our house three days ago. We found him to be packaged quite carefully and in good spirits. Though he did travel lightly (meaning few possessions) and came with a booklet of care instructions. I am told that all sock monkey residents who leave the shelter come with their own care booklet for their newly adopted parents. The booklet of care instructions (like an owner's manual) covers suggestions on how to help sock monkey adjust to life outside the shelter. It includes tips on how to help with separation anxiety issues, socialization with new siblings, and entertainment issues.
My relative was quite aware of our ever expanding sock monkey family. She figured this sock monkey would have few adjustment problems here and enjoy the company of so many siblings. The other sock monkey was being sent to a home where there were no other siblings just a young boy quite eager to have a new playmate.
I have posted a picture of this ever expanding sock monkey family and our newest member who is seated on the right wearing a red Santa hat.
We received adoption papers and just need to choose a name and to send the certificate back to be notarized and filed.
If perhaps you have a name suggestion please reply to this blog.
Thanks you.
While all the sock monkey siblings were getting acquainted with the newest member I decided to do a bit of baking. Think of this dessert as a celebratory cake.
Buttermilk Mexican Chocolate Pound Cake
  • 1 (8oz.) package semisweet chocolate baking squares
  • 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup margarine softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup chocolate syrup
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Microwave chocolate till melted and smooth, about a minute but stir every 15 seconds
  • Cream butter and margarine about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar beat 5 minutes till light and fluffy and then add eggs in beating one at a time
  • Stir in melted chocolate, syrup and vanilla
  • In another bowl mix flour, salt, soda and cinnamon
  • Add butter mixture alternately with buttermilk and ending with flour mixture
  • Pour batter into greased bundt pan
  • Bake at 325 check at one hour to see if center cooked may have to add a few minutes more
  • Cool in pan 10 minutes and then invert to a wire baking rack to cool
TIP: You can substitute 2 ( 4.4 oz.) packages for semisweet chocolate. And then omit cinnamon
adapted from recipe in Southern Living April 2007

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Time of Renewal

There is something rather invigorating about a starting a new year. Since winter has us all in a tight grasp perhaps this might be just the time to rejuvenate our spirits. We can use these winter months when we are in more than out to try something we have always been wanting to do, try a new recipe, discover a new restaurant or place in the city, reconnect up with old friends, spend more time reading, reorganize a room/drawer/closet, write a note to a friend, help a neighbor and yes...the list can go on and on with all sorts of possibilities. But the biggest challenge always remains finding the time to do it.
To make life a bit easier I have some suggestions and recommends.
The King' Speech, is a superb movie about the life of a reluctant King George The Sixth, who overcame a stuttering problem. He was the father of the present Queen Elizabeth. It was just mesmerizing to watch such a well crafted movie with marvelous actors.
The Fighter is a emotional movie about the boxing saga of the early days of welterweight champion "Irish" Micky Ward. It tells Ward's story and his relationship with the brother who helped train him. The performances are great and even if you are not into the boxing scene the story will captivate you watching the rise of an underdog.
Knit the Season by Kate Jacobs is the fourth novel in the series Friday Night Knitting Club. This book brings back the characters who formed a close friendship meeting each week at a cozy yarn shop on Manhattan's Upper Side Walker and Daughter on Friday nights. In this new installment with the holidays approaching the women have even more reason to celebrate with a special New Year's Day wedding on the horizon.
I was curious after reading all these books in the series if indeed there was a real shop on Upper West Side called Walker and Daughter. So after some GOOGLE sleuthing I find this whole website devoted to Friday Night Knitting Club. Check it out and see for yourself if this shop does indeed exist.
Lastly, I found this interesting recipe made with beer from Cooking Light magazine January/February 2011 issue that was quite tasty. Try and see for yourself
Chicken Fajitas
  • 3/4 cup dark Mexican beer
  • 2 TB. lower sodium soy sauce
  • 2 TB. fresh lime juice
  • 1 TB. canola oil
  • 1 TB. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut across grain into 1/2 inch thick strips
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 orange and 1 yellow pepper seeded and sliced
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • Salsa
  • Reduced low fat sour cream
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Combine the first 6 ingredients in a zip-lock bag
  • Add 3/4 cup beer to mixture and seal
  • Marinate in refrigerator 1 hour turn occasionally
  • Add remaining beer to another plastic zip lock bag adding peppers and onions
  • Marinate also for an hour in refrigerator
  • Remove chicken from bag- discard marinade and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Add chicken to pan and 1 TB oil-cook several minutes on each side -remove from pan and set aside
  • Remove onions and peppers from bag and discard marinade cook for about 6 minutes till tender
  • Add in chicken and cook till chicken is done and remove all from pan
  • Toast tortillas in pan
  • Serve with guacamole, sour cream and salsa

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Black-Eyed Peas

No I am not referring to Fergie's musical group. I mean the black-eyed peas that are a traditional popular southern fare served on New Year's Eve or Day since Civil War times.
They are a symbol of good luck, fortune and prosperity. The peas represent coins and the greens they are served with represent foldin' money. The peas swell when cooking which means an increase in your fortunes. Eating humble food such as peas shows you are worthy of good fortune. The most popular black-eyed peas dish served is Hoppin' John Black-Eyed Peas and Rice.
Below you will find a recipe you might want to consider trying. Besides increasing the chance for good luck these peas are for healthier eating (just in case that was one of your New Year's resolutions) since they contain lots of protein with other nutrients such as calcium, iron and potassium.
recipe adapted from several sources
this one can be made in a slow cooker
Hoppin' John
  • 2 cans black-eyed peas, drained or one small package of peas that have been cooked and drained
  • 4 smoked pork chops or 1/4 lb. ham (1-2 cups ham) or 1/4 lb. bacon
  • 3 celery rib
  • 1 green pepper chopped or use combination of red and green pepper
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup sweet onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic mined
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 TB. brown sugar
  • 2 TB. ketchup
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 tsp. cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1-2 tsp. Creole seasoning
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with chile peppers
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 can of chicken broth
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • Combine all ingredients in slow cooker or crock pot.
  • Cover and cook on low for 6 hours- remove bay leaf
  • Serve with cabbage and cornbread
  • Serves 4

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

GET TO KNOW YOUR APPLES Pink Lady , great balance of sweet and tart. Granny Smith , maybe the most popular baking apple. A little more tart ...