June 30, 2011

Consumer reviews disease

I am my mother’s child. I inhale coffee. I talk on the phone for hours. I love the outdoors. Chocolate is my best friend. And I inherited the consumer reviews disease. Never heard of it? It is an illness that makes you research EVERY SINGLE THING before you buy, and the onslaught of the Internet in the 21st Century is not healthy for people with the disease. The Internet becomes an enabler to read blogs, forums, and product reviews until you are an expert car radios, weed eaters, coffee grinders, refrigerators, the mid-size sedan, Jack Russell Terriers, and shampoo. 

4th of July Tartlettes
I remember being a little girl and going to the library with Mom to look at the Consumer Reports magazine. I thought it was the most boring way to spend the afternoon, so I would go find the Ramona and Beezus books or the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. Almanzo, you still take my breath away. Anyway, ask Mom about defective appliances from the 1992-1996 era, and she could probably tell you which brands were on the watch-out-this-is-going-to-break-asap-list. She thinks Snapper lawn mowers are the bomb. They are, because the one she still owns has been around since 1989 and is still kicking. 

I vowed not to become a researcher and buy what I want when I want. IT TOOK ME OVER 3 MONTHS TO BUY A FOOD PROCESSOR. I had to tell someone. Whew. It is good to get some things out there. My sister avoided the disease, but I was not spared. I just ordered a new coffee grinder that came in with 4.5 stars and has been said to change lives, so I feel fairly confident about it. 

Today’s recipe is not a “thinking” thing (Right Brain, Left Brain…you remember the song), because with so much in life requiring excess brain capacity, every day recipes should not be one of them. And this one even uses the food processor that I spend months and months agonizing over.  Some processors were reviewed as LOUD MONSTERS or had stupid little feet that stuck to the counter or sounded like a fat bull frog or smoked up when the poor woman in Nebraska tried to chop some onions. All she wanted to do was chop onions. I am sorry Nebraska woman; I feel your pain. How is a girl to make up her mind when bombarded with that kind of negative information! 

Do you ever think about what you would say to the stranger in the elevator if you got stuck? I take the stairs, because I also inherited undiagnosed claustrophobia, but I want to apologize in advance to that poor person in the elevator if it ever happened! The topics I could cover while trapped in an elevator are vast because of years of research. I once wrote a statistics paper about t-tests in a fibromyalgia case study. And there was the paper comparing the Lady of Shallot to the Yellow Wallpaper. I know more about genetically engineered ingredients (AVOID THEM) than I ever wanted to, and I recently saw Mutual Funds for Dummies lying in the shared book basket in the women’s locker room at the gym. I did not read it, and when I looked the next day it was gone, so someone in the area is “researching” stocks, bonds, Roth IRAs, annuities, annuities due, calls, puts, and reinvesting dividends. Oh well. 

We all need go-to recipes for those days when you don't have much thinking left. Hummus has always been my go-to food. I can thank Mom for my love of healthy food too :) This 4th of July, I hope you celebrate our wonderful country with your family and friends. Share this hummus with them, make tons of it, and don’t spend too much time researching the best recipes for the weekend. Because sometimes the best recipe is sharing time with those you love. 

·         1 cup cooked chickpeas
·         2 heaping tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
·         2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
·         ¼ cup onion
·         6 cloves fresh garlic, smashed with knife blade
·         Juice of 1 lemon
·         Salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne, and dried basil to your taste

Combine everything in food processor. If it is too thick, add about 1-2 tablespoons water or a little more olive oil. Taste when you are adding the spices—go with the flow and make it too your taste. Serve with warm pita bread.


Homemade pita bread
Hummus :)

Fellow Researchers

June 20, 2011

Monday Mornings

We've been busy.
Joe Purdy. I could listen to Joe Purdy all night long. I just might. I am loving this site new music website. My free trial expires in 4 days, and I am already dreading it. I love free trials. I love naps while watching McIlroy. I love seeing family. I love this book that my dear friends told me about a few weeks ago. I am only one chapter in, and I can tell that it is going to be great. More to come on Humility soon. I don't want to put it down.

I WANT to love Monday mornings.

Some Mondays you wake up and realize that you have absolutely nothing ironed to wear to work, so you turn your closet upside down while wearing a towel around your head, because hair dryers are overrated. Completely overrated. In the very depths of your organized closet (I would NEVER lie on this blog), you find a pair of pants you did not even remember you had. VICTORY. One more weekend without ironing.

Now to the point ..when you are having a "Monday morning kind of day," make this dip. I promise you won't regret it.

I am loving this recipe. Please don't leave. Don't leave me! I know I am telling you about peas with tahini, but it is so yummy that I had to share. Abi, I would mail you some of this if I could. I know I could get it in a flat rate box. There is a man in town that walks 5 Basset hounds and another dog all at once and wears a green hat. I think he would love this dip too. Then I could walk the Basset hounds.

Shhh...Don't tell. This is my sister's Anthropologie mini colander...I may steal it. I love it!
It is impossible to mess up (unlike the closet), and it is perfect for this time of year. I like have it on really crunchy toast, but Deb had it on pita wedges. Keep it in your fridge for up to a week, and if you have nothing to wear, you will have lunch ready to go! Who can look down on wrinkles when you are eating something with smoked paprika in it. Move over ordinary paprika.

I made added some organic yellow corn to the recipe, because it was giving me the evil eye in the cabinet and wanted to be eaten.

Crushed Peas and Corn with Smoky Sesame Dressing (Thank you Smitten Kitchen)
1 1/2 pounds fresh peas in pods or about 1 1/2 cups already shelled or frozen and defrosted
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup diced onion
1 can organic yellow corn

Bring a saucepan of water to a gentle boil and blanche the peas for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Rinse in REALLY cold water. Combine all the other ingredients in a large bowl and add the peas. Mash them slightly. Be gentle with the peas! Add the corn if you like and eat immediately or save for a wet-hair, wrinkled pants kind-of day :) Serve over crunchy toast, crackers, pita wedges, or eat with a fork.

Green pea dip. Green chair.

He never irons.

Abi's Hummus

Abi commented on the post and surprised me by adding a picture and her first batch of hummus...my fav :) Abi! I miss you!

"Sara!  I wish I wish I wish you could... but even more I wish I could make it with you!  Instead I will imagine that my first batch of make shift hummus, made in my new mini food possessor, was made at the same time (which it almost was), and please know that YOU WERE THOUGHT OF at every press and sound of the zuuuuuuzizizizuuu button.  :)"


June 18, 2011

Japan does flowers well!

I think that the son did kiss this rose.
There is man that lives just down the street and is growing the most beautiful roses I have ever seen!  Forget talking... I will allow you to enjoy the pictures.  And, Yes they smell as wonderful as they look.  
Masii san
 Please do allow me to tell you a bit of how I came to meet Masii san.

I was walking past his home on my way to work one day when my eye caught a flower, the like I have never seen.  But... I couldn't stop because I had to get to work.  Then... I noticed that it was not just one flower that my eyes were beholding for the first time... there were so many!!! I gasped! I really did! And stopped walking. I couldn't handle it!  I was determined then to go back. 

As you can see I did!

Last Sunday I got up early enough to go and try to photograph, as discreetly as possible all the beauties I could. But, alas I was caught.  lol Masii san was wonderful!  He loved it! He keep saying "Mitate"-Look! It was wonderful! He took time to show me all he had.  Ohh how beautiful! 

Evey rose was so very delicate and wonderful.  Full of the most natural perfumed sents and vibrant colors.

I went through a stage of my life where everything I ate and drank almost always consisted of peach something.  Peach tea, hot cold.  Peach muffins, peach yogurt, peach chutney, peach ice cream.  But I mostly just loved eating PEACHES! I find that the color (of a peach) is just as wonderful.  I mean look at this rose>.  With out getting too girly... humm... maybey I'm way beyond that... this is a post about flowers... OH WELL! I find this flower, this color brings to my mind a fine lady full of grace and refined simplicity. It inspires me!
These were my favorite of all!  When I first saw them I literally gasped! They just take your breath away... well they took mine away. I guess I don't know about you. ;)
These are from the same bush!
I never would have expected to been so fortunate to get to have a personal tour of this wonderful rose garden but I did.  Not only that, but I was given some of these beauty to take home!

I used the finest vases I could find... well I don't have any vases so I used my favorite handmade mug, a little glass jar, and the bottom of a plastic jug.  lol :)  Make shift I know but it worked! 

So here they sat!  On my wee window sill.  The flowers graced my life for days but the memories will last much much longer.

June 13, 2011

Chai... need I say more

A fine cup of chai!

Now lets just be clear from the getgo.  I mean real, homemade, Indian spices chai.  This chai is the chai that took me by surprise and now tends to dominate my life.  There are other "chai's" out there, such as the ones you get at coffee shops and they most defiantly have their place.  May I just say blending a cup of Big Train chai with some peanut butter is one of the most wonderful tasty drinks I experienced in college.  But that is not what this post is about.  So moving on...

As cheese toast is so meaning full and special to Sara because of Flash, so chai is to me because of the friends I have enjoyed it with.  One of my roomates made it in her hot water pot... she was dedicated.  To be honest I didn't get it at first.  What was so special about this tea... :/  eek now to me it is so much more then tea! But I didn't know.  You may be asking the same question.  "Why in the world is this girl going on about a drink?"  Well READ ON!

This chai I made and enjoyed with an egg on toast!
YOU MUST MAKE IT!  or just allow my love and explanation be absorbed and branch out next time your have a chance to try it.  You see it takes time.  I started making... or attempting to make this delicious brew in 2007, I believe.  It just gets better!  I mean it must be like love right.  I imagine you start loving someone and your so excited, then...say 4 years down the road the love is so much deeper and fuller.  You know so much more.  Well, this is how I feel about chai.  Okay.  Let's get to the nitty gritty... the recipe.

Well I will give you a recipe but you MUST NOT OBEY IT! By that I mean if you don't like an ingredient, or you really LOVE one and want that flavor more YOU MUST! Use more!

Homemade Chai tea (a ruff draft)
Ginger root (fresh)-a thumb size bit 
Cardamom-10 to 15 pods ground in a moter or cracked open with your teeth. :D
Water- 2-3 cups... maybe
Black Tea (I highly recommend, PG Tips or Twinnings the purple box)- 6 to 8 tea bags
Milk- 3-4 cups, Whole milk is the best!
If you don't have you will live...
Cinnamon- almost one whole small stick
Clove-3 or 4 cloves crushed
Coriander (sometimes)- ummm your one your own... I don't really use it.  Maybe a teaspoon?
Honey (I prefer honey to sugar because it changes the taste a bit, and I just like it)- to taste

A sauce pan that is about 6 inches deep, fill it with water less then half way.  Turn on the burner to med-high.  Add your spices and ginger root.  Let the spices have time... the more time the more flavor.
 After the spices have enjoyed the time in the water alone add the black tea.  The tea needs to be made as any tea lover would make a cup of black tea, it has to steep.  So allow it to have the proper time.  Around 3-5 minutes.  If your not sure look at the water is it dark dark brown... that's good.   Are you smelling it yet?  This may take some practice... at least for me it took some getting use to.  You have to get use to the size of the pan and amount of spices you use and amount of TEA.  Now your ALMOST there but this is, in my opinion the most important.  The milk! Don't be afraid.  Pour and then pour more.  That's what I have to tell myself or I will have a watery chai.  eww.  There is probably about an equal amount if not a bit more milk in the chai as the water.  Once added let it cook.  Depending on how you feel you can just let it be alone on the stove with out string knowing there will be some scolded milk at the bottom of the pot, or you can supervise it and stir it. A milk skin will form.  The milk fats will have caramelized and added a natural sweetener.  You will now need your favorite mug!  Lets be serious.  I can not drink this in any mug but my favorite.  I hope you enjoy!

When I drink chai it makes me think of the song "It Feels Like Home to Me" by Edwina Hayes.  Yep :) Sara... I just had to have chai as my first post.  She hears about it just about every time I make it. lol

Which reminds me... I just enjoyed a cup at my favorite Indian restaurant here!  Then I came home and made a pot for myself. :)  Yep.  All good.  :)

June 12, 2011

I started early took my dog and visited the sea...

Flash. Best Sous Chef Ever
Cheese Toast Fanatic
Outdoor Dog
Patch and Cookies
Maybe there is no sea. But I did start early this morning browning butter for muffins with Patch's help. He always helps in the kitchen. And secretly wishes something tasty would fall from the kitchen counter. I can't write about Patch without thinking of Flash. He was the ultimate kitchen dog and will be forever missed. Cooking these last few weeks without him under foot has been an adjustment I would have rather not had. In fact, I refuse to eat cheese toast in any form ever again. Cheese toast to Flash was better than any gourmet dish. He could be sound asleep and hear you take it out of the oven. No one in the house had it without him. If I could go back in time, I would make him cheese toast every day. I would live off of cheese toast and games of throwing the tennis ball and giving head rubs.

Flash was my childhood dog, so I learned to make just about everything with his unfailing assistance. Flash was there for the era of excessive scone baking, and he would show his support by the dusting of all purpose flour on his black ears. At one point, I had many different varieties of scones all stocked in the freezer. There were cranberry nut scones, blueberry scones, chocolate scones and some other kind that I can’t seem to remember. I think that was all I was eating for a while.  He became a super cheerleader the first time I cooked tenderloin in the crockpot, and impatiently danced on the linoleum while it warmed the house on a winter’s day. He cleaned up spilled milk from rice pudding explosions, dutifully licked away bits of cream sauces, and barked ferociously at the possessed “blender.” Sometimes he would hide hunks of carrots or pieces of wilted lettuce in his bed. It was as if he might eat them if there was ever a period of rationing or if I ever forgot to feed him. I never did. 

Patch still helps, but he has always been more of an outdoor dog. Sometimes I imagine what my dogs would look like if they were people and not dogs…doesn’t everyone do that? Okay, well maybe that is not normal, but that is not the point. Patch would be the tough guy with the truck slinging 2 x 4s over his shoulder every day and spending as little time as possible inside when the weather is nice or even if it isn’t. Flash on the other hand would have channeled Cary Grant or Clark Gables; he might of even had little wire rimmed glasses and an affinity for fine wines. And cheese toast. But do you get my point? Flash was a foodie. Patch eats cereal. There is a difference. 

I can see totally see Cary Grant
I am so excited that Abi and I are now blogging! My first post had to be about Flash. My first dog.  

Talk soon,