Thursday, November 30, 2006

A perfect night for chili (mac) and cornbread

For the past 6 days, we have enjoyed 60-degree weather.

Today, we woke to freezing rain. We are currently under a winter weather warning; they are forecasting up to 12 inches of snow over the next 24 hours. That is, if the meterologists are accurate. The last time (last winter) they called for this kind of snow, we got nuthin. Not even a flurry.

Anyway, since it's only 30 degrees outside, I thought it would be a good night for chili and cornbread. I don't do anything fancy with my chili - I prefer it simple.

Chili Mac

from my head

2-28 oz cans tomato sauce

1-14 oz can garbanzo beans

1-14 oz can pinto beans

1/4 cup (or so - add to your taste) chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1 pound ground turkey breast

1 onion, chopped
2 cups cooked rice pasta (I use Tinkyada spirals for this)

Brown the ground turkey breast. Pour the tomato sauce into a 6-quart stock pot. Drain the cans of beans, add them to the stockpot and turn the heat on low. Chop up the onion and dump in too (I like my onions to have "bite" when they're in my chili).

Stir in the chili powder and cumin. When the turkey is ready, drain well and add to the pot. Let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When my stomach is behaving, I usually add a few shots of hot sauce, but today is not one of those days.

Serve with shredded cheese of your choice and cornbread.

The Man fell asleep on the couch before 6:30 tonight, so he didn't get any. But it's always better the second day.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What the (*&%$???

The things my animals do. I swear to God.

Take a good look at this picture.

Yes, that's a cat.

Yes, that's a lint roller that I had just used to get all the cat hair off my gig bag (which holds music, my flute and piccolo, tuner, metronome, etc.).

Yes, that's a cat tongue licking the cat hair off the cat hair remover.

Go figure.

I was laughing so hard I almost missed preserving the moment.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Lamb chops!

This was the first time I ever made lamb in any form. This was also the first time that The Man has ever eaten lamb. I assume he liked it as he ate 2 chops.

I took a couple of different recipes I found online and mixed them together to come up with tonight's dinner: pan-fried lamb chops, smashed red potatoes, and peas.

I need to learn to measure when I am cooking; measurements below are approximate.

I love eating this way - I was sick/bloated/generally nasty-feeling after eating every day of my life for the last 10 years. It's still a revalation to me when I can eat a healthy portion of dinner and feel NORMAL. I forgot what that felt like.

Pan-fried Lamb Chops with Smashed Red Potatoes

For the lamb chops:

4 lamb chops

Roasted red pepper olive oil (I found this one, along with the roasted garlic and basil oils, at my local store. According to their website, they are GF, but they are manufactured in a plant that uses wheat. I haven't had any problems...yet.)

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 lemon

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

For the potatoes:

Baby red potatoes - enough to feed your particular army; I chopped up about 25 or so

Shredded cheese of your choice




Create a marinade for the chops by combining 1/4 cup roasted pepper olive oil, oregano, garlic and onion powders, and the juice of a lemon. Plop the chops, coating all sides well, and put into the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

While the chops are marinating, clean and chop your potatoes in half (quarters if the potatoes are fairly large) so they cook quickly. Put them in a pot with water and 1/4 kosher salt. Start cooking them and bring them to boiling; they're done when you can stick a fork into the biggest piece you can fish out with a fork.

After the potatoes come to a boil, heat a big frying pan. Take the chops out of the fridge and let sit on the counter for a few minutes. When the pan is hot, put the chops in the pan (be careful of splatters that HURT...OW!). Cook on moderate to high heat for 4 minutes and then flip them over. Fry until they're at the desired rareness/shoeleatherness, turning them as seldom as possible.

Drain the potatoes well. I usually put mine back in the pan on low heat for a few minutes to get any residual water out of them. Pour them into a bowl you don't mind scraping up with a potato masher (I won't do that in my cookware). Start the mashing process without any additions so you get a feel for moisture BEFORE you add any milk. Slowly add milk in small doses until you get the consistency you're looking for. When I do smashed potatoes (with the skins on), I want them to be kinda lumpy. When you get them where you want them, add the cheese and butter. Stir it up to get the cheese distributed before it starts to melt.

Blow any cat hair off the dinner plates and serve it up!
And while I was typing this up, I realized that one of the fish, which I hadn't seen all day, had gotten stuck in one of the water "features" we have in the tank. I just had to stick my hand in the tank (not an easy task for a 5-foot-1-inch runt to do with a 75-gallon tank) and rescue the dumbass.

Once upon a time...

...there was a young girl who lived for music. We're not talking about Top 40 music here. I mean classical, jazz... This girl practiced on her hand-me-down flute at least 5 hours a day in high school (a feat as she went to school all day and also had a part-time job) and when she became a music major in college, and could schedule her classes as she liked, she was known to be closeted in a practice room for 10 to 12 hours a day.

She presented her junior recital in March 1993. Shortly after, she cracked, put her flute in a closet, dropped out of school, and just existed for a year and a half.

That girl, now a woman, enrolled in a different college and tried again. Her choice of school, while close to home, turned out to be a mistake as after two years, she could no longer afford her education. And she dropped out again.

That was in 1996.

Since then, she has played her flute for weddings and for herself, which is what she finally figured out music was all about. She has not taken or given a lesson in nearly 12 years.

She gives her first flute lesson in all those years tomorrow night. Wish her luck.

(and yes, it's me)

Monday, November 27, 2006

The transformation is nearly complete

I didn't much feel like cooking after Thursday, or doing anything else, so no posts or photos this weekend. Sorry.

I had to throw out an uncut pumpkin pie this morning...the one I made for The Man and The Stepson. The Man wanted the damn thing and so I made one. And it grew fuzzies before a knife ever scored its crust. Not amused.

On a good note, we got the outside decorations done and I got most of the inside done. Note the 50% off commercial on the TV. LOL I shop online. On Friday, there were nuts out there that actually drove FIVE HOURS...yes, FIVE HOURS due to traffic, to get to an outlet mall about an hour from here. I guess you have to be pretty dedicated to getting a bargain to do something like that.

Probably cooking tonight.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Scalloped Corn

(Believe it or not, the turkey was terrific. I have already made a date with it for sandwiches in about 6 hours.)

Yet another family staple at the holiday table.

Tweaked to be gluten free.

Scalloped Corn

2 cans corn

1 can GF mushroom soup

2 tbsp butter

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 egg

Drain the cans of corn. Dump the soup and butter into a pot and heat to boiling. Lower the heat. Whisk the egg and pour slowly into the soup, whisking the whole time so the egg doesn't scramble. Mix together the cornstarch and 1/2 cup warm water; make sure the cornstarch is completely dissolved before adding to the soup mixture. Continue to whisk as the soup thickens.

Add the corn to the pot and mix well.

Pour into a casserole dish and bake for an hour to an hour to 15 minutes at 350 degrees (or for 50 minutes at 425 because the turkey got done 2 hours faster than expected).

How dry I am??

I have visions of Clark Griswald cutting into the Christmas turkey.

The Man used the charcoal grill instead of the gas grill (WHICH HAS TEMPERATURE CONTROL) to cook the turkey. I went out to check the internal temp of the turkey about an hour after the bird went on the grill. HOLY SHIT - 165 degrees. AN HOUR AFTER IT WENT ON.

Will the steam roll out of an empty carcass? Stay tuned....

Happy Thanksgiving

Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday spending time with friends and family.

Don't eat too much.

Yeah, right.

A breakfast worthy of this holiday

Teff porridge. Looks like Coco Wheats. Smells like Coco Wheats. Tastes nothing like Coco Wheats. But that's okay. It's really good...if not better than Coco Wheats.

The texture is amazing - it's crunchy and smooth, all at the same time. I will be rotating this into my weekend breakfast plans.

Teff Porridge

off the Bob's Red Mill package

2 cups water

A pinch of salt

1/2 cup whole grain teff


Dried fruit of choice (I used cranberries, because...well, it's the season)

Bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the teff - stir, cover, and reduce the heat. Simmer the teff for 15 to 20 minutes or until the water has been soaked up by the grain. Stir occasionally. Once it's done, stir in honey to taste and a handful of dried fruit.

Eat. Smile. Give thanks.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

One of these things is not like the other...

Which is precisely why I bought disposable pie plates with covers. Covers that now say "Not GF" and "GF" in black marker.

Again, because I feel like poop, I cheated, which is really not like me. The Man and The Stepson got a Jiffy pie crust instead of scratch. Oh, well. They'll live. I cheated on my own; I was looking forward to playing with flours tonight (well, earlier this week I was). I ended up doing the one with Pamela's Pancake & Baking mix...again. Oh, well. I'll live too.

I wasn't really paying enough attention after I put my pie in the oven; hence the darker crust. I didn't catch it fast enough.


A family recipe again, tweaked. I try to sneak the healthier stuff past The Man whenever I can. I bet he won't even know until he reads this post.

GF dressing

1 pound ground turkey breast (original calls for hamburger; I used to use a mix of hamburger and pork sausage)
1 cup onion, roughly chopped
1 cup celery, roughly chopped
olive oil
Chicken stock or broth
12 Van's plain waffles
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk

Put about 3 tbsp olive oil in the bottom of a pan. Add the turkey, onion and celery; cook until turkey is done. Pour into a blender and pulse until it looks nasty (see picture below). You will need to add chicken stock/broth so it whirrs.

Dump the "mess" into a big bowl. This is when you add salt, pepper, (both to taste) and about 1 1/2 tsps of ground sage.

At this point tonight, I am throwing it into the fridge and declaring my chefdom over for the evening. Final deets tomorrow.

...Thanksgiving Day...

Toast 12 waffles VERY WELL. While they are cooling, beat 3 eggs and pour the milk into the "mess." If you like to live dangerously (I do), taste the "mess" for seasoning. Add sage as needed. When the waffles are cooled, break into small (1 inch) pieces. Mash into the mess. You now have dressing.

Bake an hour to an hour and a half in a 350 degree oven.

Cranberry Relish

One of those family traditions...

Cranberry relish

1 bag fresh cranberries
1-20 ounce can crushed pineapple in juice
Mini marshmallows

Pick through the cranberries to get the bad ones out; wash and put into a blender. Pour in half a cup of water and start to pulse. Keep adding water and pulsing as needed until the cranberries are basically pureed. Pour the cranberries into a fine-mesh sieve (over a bowl if you want to save the juice) and mash them against the sides until the water has drained out.

This is what they look like at this point.

Dump the cranberries into a bowl that is twice as big as what you'll think you need.

Open the can of pineapple (fresh is better but since I feel like crap, we're doing canned) and dump it into the sieve. Do the same as with the berries: mash the pineapple against the sides of the sieve until the juice is mostly gone.

Combine the drained pineapple and berries. Mix very well and then put into the fridge for a few hours to let the pineapple's natural sugars sweeten the cranberries.

After resting for a few hours, pull out the cranberry relish and add (without tasting or you will regret it unless you like really, really tart) about 3/4 a cup of sugar. Stir well and throw the relish back in the fridge for a little while.

Taste the relish to see if it needs more sugar. Add more as you like. Once it is sweet enough for you, mix in a few handfuls of mini marshmallows.

Ta da! My family's cranberry relish.


Somehow, when making our pizzas last night, we managed to cross-contaminate mine. I feel like crap, although better crap than I did last night, say about 10:00.

Unfortunately, feeling like holy hell does not excuse me from cooking Thanksgiving dinner. So....many recipes, pictures, and posts to come over the next 24 hours.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

GF pizza....yum!

I made GF pizza tonight. This was the third time I did this, but I wasn't really happy with the crust I used the 1st two times. This time, I used Gluten Free Pantry's French Bread and Pizza Mix. It made way too much for 1 person, so I took the other half of the dough and made French bread.

Gluten Free Pizza

1 package Gluten Free Pantry's French Bread and Pizza mix

Pizza toppings of your choice (all veggies for me)

1 small can tomato sauce

Dried oregano

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Dried basil

Good mozzarella

Parmesan Reggiano

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Make the entire package of French bread and Pizza mix. Split it in half; grease a loaf pan and put half in it to rise for 40 minutes (follow the oven directions on the box). Grease a cookie sheet and dump the other half of the dough on it.

Rub your hands with olive oil and press out the dough on the cookie sheet until it is at the thickness you prefer for pizza crust. Pop it in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes so that it is just starting to brown. Remove from the oven.

Pour the tomato sauce in a saucepan and add the oregano, garlic powder, and onion powder to taste. Heat through and then turn the burner off.

Grate enough mozzarella to cover your pizza dough. Spread the pizza sauce over your dough and then add your toppings (I used onion, green pepper, and tomato). Sprinkle the mozzarella on top. Grate some parmesan on top of the mozzarella and then sprinkle a little basil on top of all the cheese.

Bake until cheese begins to brown (about 10 minutes).

Serves way more than one, depending on how thin you make your crust.

On a somewhat side note, Baby loves pizza and we can't leave it laying around anywhere or he will go to town on what he finds (i.e. getting up to get a drink, you set your plate on the end table by the couch where you were sitting. You come back and there is a black and white beast licking the plate).

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Chai tea latte

My one daily dose of caffeine (other than the chocolate I shovel in) is in the form of a chai tea latte. Rather than spending $4 a day (or $28 a week...$112 a month....), I make my own. I even have one of those handy-dandy milk frothers now to make it a little more like a barista made it.

I actually prefer making my own because I can control the sugar content. I prefer to use honey rather than sugar.

Here's how I do it...

1 GF chai teabag (I am using Good Earth right now)

8 oz skim milk

8 oz boiling water


Drop the teabag into a 1-cup measuring cup. Pour the boiling water over. Let steep for 5-6 minutes. When the tea is almost ready, heat the milk in the zapper (aka microwave) for about a minute and a half. When it comes out, use a handheld milk frother to make it light and foamy.

Pour the tea into a tall cup that will hold at least 16 ounces. Add honey to your taste for sweetness. When the honey is dissolved, pour the milk on top. Enjoy with a good book in the afternoon or use to keep your road rage in check on Monday mornings.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

GF doughnuts...or how I burned my finger

I was feeling pretty sassy this morning and decided to make those cinnamon rings I mentioned earlier this week. I based these off of the recipe in Complete Comfort Foods.

GF Cinnamon Doughnuts

2 cups + of Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 +1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 cup butter
Oil for frying (I used safflower oil)
First of all, the real recipe for cinnamon rings calls for ground anise in the batter. I don't have any and didn't feel like going to the store, so I used cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
Combine 2 cups of baking mix and 2 tbsps of the sugar in a mixer (I have a 6 qt Kitchenaid - every cook's best friend). Add the 1/2 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves; whirl away until mixed together.
Measure the milk into a larger measuring cup; crack the egg into the milk and whisk with a fork. Pour into the dry ingredients and whirl some more. Melt the butter; pour that in and beat yet again. The batter will be a little sticky.

Dump the batter/dough/cat magnet onto a surface that's been prepared with some sprinkled Pamela's baking mix. Knead the dough, adding a little more baking mix until the dough is less sticky and feels smooth. Wrap it in plastic wrap and throw it into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes to chill out.
While the dough is chilling, pour 2-3 cups of oil into a pot that is relatively wide with high sides. Get it heating; it's ready when a pinch of the dough floats and turns golden in 30 to 60 seconds.
Remove the dough from the freezer. Divide into 12 equal balls. Slightly flatten a ball, poke a hole through the middle with the end of a wooden spoon, ream the hole a little bit, and drop it into the hot oil. Swear in your outside voice, cry a few tears, and run across the room to run cold water over the fingertip you accidently dipped into the oil when you deposited the first doughnut.
Repeat 11 times (preferably without the swearing, crying, and future blisters).
Fry the doughnuts in small batches (I did 3 at a time so the pan didn't crowd and the doughnuts stick together). The doughnuts are ready to flip when the top puffs up and the bottom is golden brown.
Drain the doughnuts on a stack of paper towels sitting on a plate. While they're still warm, coat the doughnuts in a mixture of what's left of the 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
Pour yourself a glass of juice and eat while still warm.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Taco night

I made 2 different "kinds" of tacos tonight, one with Taco Hell hard shells and ground beef and one for me, with ground turkey breast and fresh tortillas...yes, I made corn tortillas! I can't believe how easy it was or how much better fresh ones taste as compared to the processed junk I ate for years.

I ended up baking my tortillas until crispy and making nachos instead. For my first attempt, they were awfully messy-looking, so I didn't want to take pictures. Although, I could have blamed the ugliness on my poor camera skills. Ah, too late now, anyway.

Baby got a new cat perch this evening. He has had this one particular perch (which is really more of a tube with 2 holes and a solid top, all covered with 60's shag carpet) that we picked up for him the week after we got him. So he was about 9 weeks old. He's now 8. The top has partially given way and I am worried that our Baby, who has hip problems, is eventually going to fall through and get hurt. Hence, the new perch.

Now the fish tank really IS Cat TV. As evidenced by this picture.

As soon as I brought it into the house, he was sniffing it and Vester was immediately batting at the bell balls built into the legs. I finally got it into the living room and in its place (in front of the fish tank) and two seconds after I took my hands off of it, Baby was on it, staring the normal death threats at the sharks.

It will be a lot harder for him to knock this one over at 2:30 in the morning. Many nights I am awakened by the loud thump of the old perch going over...because Baby had leapt off it in pursuit of the sharks (he chases them around the tank, so he is known to run circles around...and around...and around...).

We also have Vester checking it out, after booting Baby off. Little bastard.

Vester and the big, bad hair dryer

With my cats, anything that makes a lot of noise (garbage disposal, food processor, vacuum, etc.) will send them running to a different room and safety. And then there's Vester and my hair dryer.

The Man and I believe that for some reason, this cat thinks my hair dryer is attacking me and is therefore obligated to save his momma from the beast. He whaps (sp? is this even a word?) and fights with the cord, even if it's not running and only sitting on the counter in preparation for its duties.

For the first time in the 7 1/2 years Vester has owned us, I took pictures. Of course, it's much better (and funnier) in person.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Fish and potatoes

I had dinner planned before I left the house this morning.

So I was in a good mood all day because I knew what I was going to feed myself when I got home.

Isn't it pretty?

Baked Fish with Potatoes and Garlic
from Complete Comfort Food with a few tweaks

6 potatoes, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup butter

2 onions, peeled and chopped

3 garlic cloves

fresh thyme sprigs

3 fresh bay leaves

2 cups vegetable stock + 3 tbsp

2 to 3 tilapia filets

3 tbsp white wine

1/3 cup amaranth bread crumbs

3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

Garlic powder

Fresh parsley, chopped fine

salt & fresh ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 375. While it's preheating, melt half of the butter in a skillet. Peel and chop the onions and drop them into the melted butter, sauteing until soft. Peel and chop the potatoes; mix with the cooked onions in the skillet. Peel and mince the garlic; drop in the skillet too and mix all together.

I used a 9x12 baking pan for this. Put the onion/potato/garlic mixture in the baking pan and level it out. Place a few thyme sprigs and the bay leaves on top. Pour 2 cups of vegetable stock over the top, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and put in the oven to bake for 50 to 60 minutes until the potatoes are tender).

Place the tilapia filets on top of the potatoes and return to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, basting 2 or 3 times with a mixture of 3 tbsp white wine and 3 tbsp vegetable stock.

The recipe actually calls for 4 garlic cloves; I chose to use garlic powder for this step instead of chopping another clove: melt the rest of the butter and mix with the bread crumbs, a teaspoon of garlic powder, and a teaspoon of finely chopped parsley.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top of the tilapia and press down with a fork. Drizzle with olive oil and return to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are toasty and all of the liquid has been absorbed.

I will definitely make this again. The Man didn't bother to eat so once again, he misses out.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


So...I say that a lot. I just noticed. Sorry. Must be the cheesehead in me. You can take the girl out of northeast Wisconsin but you can't take the bad language habits out of the girl.

I really want to figure out how to take a picture and put it behind my title. I managed to finally put all my favorite blogs and a few websites in my sidebar over the past couple of days. I am getting there, slowly but surely.

I really want the pic of Baby (the top one on the right) as my title. We'll see if I ever actually get it there.

Now for food...

Monday's vegetable beef soup was even better tonight. I have enough left for a bowl at lunch tomorrow and it will be gone. Which is a good thing due to the packed fridge I am now dealing with.

I have been flipping through the new cookbook, "Complete Comfort Food" and have found some definite possibilities, some of which even The Man will eat...

I like what the editor says on page 26: "Cooking for yourself is all about pandering to your own palate, particularly so if your usual routine is to cook for a busy family. Choosing foods that you adore and tailoring a menu just for yourself can feel quite liberating, so make the most of time spent alone and catering for yourself." The section that this heads is called Spoil Yourself.

Ever since I began (mostly) eating a gluten-free diet, I am doing exactly that. Spoiling myself. I am trying foods I either hated as a kid and never touched again until now or attempting foods I have never tasted. AND LIKING THEM! I am looking forward to creating the evening's dinner in my mind in the morning before work and making it happen after 5. Grocery shopping is fun again (probably because with the Cookbook Box, I never know what I am going to get - it's a crapshoot). I am going beyond the tried-and-true recipes from family and old cookbooks and playing with favorites to make them new and fresh. I am loving every minute of it!

Former horrors included in the box are eggplant and squash. And cilantro (I think I am just seriously turned off by the smell). I hate to waste food so I need to come up with recipes stat.

The pictures in this cookbook are wonderful and make me want to take a bite right out of the page. Is paper gluten free?

Recipes I would like to make in my near future (not just from this cookbook):

cinnamon rings (a Mexican doughnut-like thing that I am going to have to try a GF flour combo to make)
roasted garlic and butternut squash soup
chicken flautas (gonna have to make GF tortillas for this)
Mexican spicy beef tortilla (see comment above)
amaretti cookies

I better stop now or I will lose my job because I have chained myself in my kitchen.

I picked up some nice-looking lamb chops last weekend at the store. I haven't had lamb since my first communion! I am trying to figure out how best to prepare it. Food for thought. Ha.

Other things to think about: how to prepare Thanksgiving side dishes I love and have them be GF and tasty. I think my dressing will be good with the GF bread I have in the house (Ener-G harvest loaf) because the focus of that is the meat and spices. The Man has insisted on my scalloped corn; I have a recipe for soup mix that I might use to make my own little dish of this. Cranberries - I make relish with pineapple and marshmallows. If marshmallows aren't GF, I will just skip them (note to self-check out marshmallows). Pumpkin pie. I am going to use Shauna's crust, I think. I really need to start playing with all the flours so I can come up with my own recipes.

And Christmas. There are 2 things I know for sure - I am giving my sister-in-law the holiday completely off for a change (The Man and I are hosting Christmas Eve) and I am making an Amish ham. The SIL makes a wonderful, horribly-fattening hash brown potato bake that would be perfect but (1) she isn't going to be allowed to cook and (2) if I make it or something like it, it will be GF and I will be able to eat it. I am thinking about hauling out some of the organic applesauce I canned in October. Dessert is already floating around in the brain - I am debating a black forest cake.

And what am I going to do about Christmas cookies? Do I wait to bake until I get the results of my test (about 2 to 3 weeks), which means all the mooches in all the land have to wait (they would be the people who find out I am making my enormous batches of Christmas sweets and mysteriously begin to hang out at the house when we haven't seen them for months and months)? Or do I forge ahead, make what the others want and expect, and make GF cookies just for me? Oh, the agony.

Every Christmas, I make 2 kinds of cookies specifically for me. The containers these cookies go into are marked "eat and die." Spritz. OMG. And Santa's Whiskers (sweet dough studded with maraschino cherries and almonds and rolled in coconut before baking so the coconut gets all toasty while baking into the cookie). Sigh. I WILL come up with a way to make both of these cookies again.

I've babbled long enough for tonight.

The box has arrived-take 2

The soup from the other night is heating on the stove, so I have a few minutes.

Let's try this again, now that I can upload pictures.

The box arrived around 7:30 this morning. I didn't take pictures of the meat (beef stew meat, chicken breasts and some sort of whitefish) because TCF dropped the wrong box and by the time they got back here to pick up the wrong one and give me the right one, I had just enough time to chuck it in the freezer and haul ass to work.

The cookbook...

The food, in 3 installments...

The food, as a whole...

The turkey for Thanksgiving and the ham for Christmas...

More later.

The box has arrived

Well, I really do have pictures of the bounty that arrived here at 7:30 this morning, but Blogger is NOT cooperating with allowing me to upload. I will try again in a little while.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A night off

I didn't feel like cooking tonight, no energy even to heat up last night's soup. It was a long day.

It started out well - I had some snuggle time with my boys and ordered my gluten sensitivity test, which should be here in the next day or so. I decided to do a little grocery shopping and if time permitted, stop at the pet supply store to get canned kitty food.

I wanted to hit a different grocery store than normal because they have a larger organics collection - Dominicks. Which is about 15 minutes away. I left the house about 7:15 without putting on make-up or making my chai latte because I figured I would have more than enough time to poke around at the store, get home, unpack groceries, slap on some face paint, brew my tea, and still get to work by 9.


It took me almost 45 minutes to get to the store because I didn't know about the repaving of the road I took to get there.

Once I finally got there, a little before 8, I walked in to see that the area that I knew was once the organics section is now a floral area. What the %^$#! I grabbed the first employee I could find and asked where everything was moved to. It turns out it is all incorporated into the store aisles with the appropriate sections. So I had to push the cart like a Nascar driver through the store to get an idea of what they're carrying now.

I managed to get some GF vanilla, baking powder, some different rice crackers, rice cakes on sale, arborio rice on sale... Good stuff. I also got a vanilla essential oil diffuser, a new cookbook (like I need one with a cookbook box coming tomorrow or Thursday), the new Ann Rule true crime volume, a bunch of Burts Bees stuff (which I love).... And more and more crap.

So I finally manage to get out of the store about 8:25 (and yes, I actually went through every aisle!). I knew I wasn't going back the way I came because of the construction, so I did a quick plan in my head on how to get home.

As I was approaching the house, the idiot chime and light came on - I was almost out of gas. Go figure. I detoured again, away from home, so I could put some gas in the SUV. I did the gas thing and headed straight for work with all the groceries in the back.

I got to the office at 2 minutes to 9 and had to haul all the perishables in so they didn't spoil before I could take my lunch break and take them home.

No make-up.

No blow-dry or curling iron.


I am lucky I am still awake to type this.

On a different note, I took a picture of Vester last night that I am debating on sending to MyCatHatesYou. That website makes me laugh every time.

Does he hate me? You tell me.

Monday, November 13, 2006

How the heck did I manage...

To have a decent picture in my last post?

I actually read the book that came with my camera. Go figure that there's a "close up" button and a flash. Makes a world of difference when you kinda know what you're doing.

I wish I could go back and retake all the other ones I posted. I guess I will just have to make some of them again.


Soup to warm the soul

At 6:00 this morning, I was sitting on the couch, fighting off the affection of Sylvester, who feels the need to show Momma loves whenever she sits down with her laptop. So, since Vester was snugged up against the fan on the left side of my laptop (where the fan blows toasty air), his paw was sitting on the control key, which rendered me useless until I could get him to move.
I was admiring the fish tank (which I should attempt to take a picture of someday) and it came to me....vegetable beef soup. During my normal morning routine, I schlepped to the chest freezer in the basement and pulled out a 1-pound package of organic beef stew meat to make sure it was defrosted when I got home.
Boy, does the kitchen smell good.
The Man wanted noodles, so I cooked up some egg noodles for him and he puts as much as he wants into each bowl of soup. He also had some crusty French bread.

Warning: I like my soup with lots of veggies!
Vegetable Beef Soup
1 pound beef stew meat
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup frozen green beans
3/4 cup frozen corn
3/4 cup chopped carrots
4-5 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2- 32 oz containers of beef stock
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Rinse the stew meat; remove visible fat and then cut into small pieces. Toss a few teaspoons of olive oil in the bottom of a 6-quart stock pot and fire it up. When the oil is heated, add the meat, onion, celery, and carrots (stir occasionally). When the meat is cooked most of the way through, add the beef stock and bring to a boil.
Once the soup is boiling, add the peas, beans, carrots and potatoes and cover, reducing the heat to medium. Stir every few minutes. When the potatoes are fork-tender, the soup is done.
Remove any cat hair from the bowls and ladle it up.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Butterscotch cookies

I recently picked up 2 of Bette Hagman's books - The Gluten-Free Gourmet and The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Fast and Healthy. I was craving something sweet and hadn't picked up anything at the store yesterday, so I made cookies.

Butterscotch Chip Dreams, to be exact.

I cut the recipe in half, just in case they didn't thrill me.
Now I wish I'd made the whole batch. Any bets on whether I'll eat them all before the day is done?


Yet another bad picture... I hate the lighting in my kitchen!

When I was a kid, my parents, sister and I would travel to the wilds of Minnesota (or so it seemed back then) to visit my aunt, uncle and cousins. I loved these trips, though far and few between, because I got to see my cousins....and for my aunt's zucchini casserole.

I think I came close to it today. The more I stared at those zucchini, the less I wanted bread and the more I wanted to taste that zucchini and cheese concoction. I pulled out a family cookbook that another aunt put together years ago and found what might be the casserole. Naturally I played with the recipe a little because that's what I do.
Zucchini Casserole
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp roasted garlic olive oil
1/2 a red onion
4 zucchini
2 filet mignon steaks
1/2 cup grated cheddar
Melt the butter and olive oil in a hot skillet big enough to hold everything in the ingredients list. Slice the red onion and add to the skillet. Chop the zucchini into bite-sized pieces and add to the pan; sprinkle with salt. Slice the steaks and add to the pan. Cover and cook on medium for 5 minutes, until the steak is at the desired doneness.
Remove from the heat and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Let the cheese melt and dig in (after dusting the cat hair from your plate).

Saturday, November 11, 2006

And so it begins

I cleaned out the fridge this morning: got rid of the not-so-healthy-looking carrots, pulled the zucchini out so they can warm to room temperature, and pitched any leftovers that are a little too leftover (more than 2 to 3 days old). I had grand plans to play with food after we did the last haunted barn meeting of the season this morning.

Ha. The joke's on me. I went grocery shopping. What the hell was I thinking? At least I didn't buy any veggies other than one green pepper because of that impending cookbook box. And I finally bought myself a handheld milk frother for my morning lattes. And a bunch of other staples, teas, toiletries, etc. And walked out without one of my bags somehow, so The Man had to go back and get it.

Needless to say, by the time I got home and got everything put away, I didn't wanna no more. I have to do my food playing early in the day, just like I do cleaning, or I lose motivation. So hopefully tomorrow will be a better day, since I really want zucchini bread and more cranberry almond muffins for my workweek breakfasts.

We pretty much don't see The Man's best friend or his son, who is a year younger than The Stepson, for the months of September and October, due to the Haunted Barn.

We are nearly done with the barn tear-down and met with the head of the pumpkin farm this morning at 9 to do the nasty deed of figuring out expenses and how much to pay whom. But that's done now for another year.

So the barn is technically over for 2006. I am surprised that it has taken this long (2 whole weeks) for the best friend and child to arrive here. We have an unheated but enclosed back porch with a TV, pub tables, mini-fridge (read beer cooler), a pizza pizzazz thing, and.....table hockey.

During the warm months, everyone usually gathers at The Man's cousin's home, where there is an inground pool, with our home as a sideline for cornholin', AKA throwing bean bags. Once the barn is over and the weather cools, this is the hangout. Boys running tame in my home, playing hockey and the xbox. Men drinking beer and watching whatever game happens to be on. Me and the cats locked up in our bedroom to hide from the craziness.

Tonight it begins. I just received word that the men/boys are coming over for the 1st hockey tournament of the season. I admit that I will be glad to see them, but it won't be long before I am in my jammies with a cup of tea and a book, snuggled up in the king-sized bed that I need a step (or a good bounce) to get into. Baby and Sylvester will be tucked into convenient body nooks.

And I will be a happy camper. My men are home and safe and the boys are purring contentedly to their momma.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Cleaning out the fridge

Yesterday, I placed another order with my organic delivery service. What did I order? Another cookbook box, a free-range turkey for Thanksgiving (I have to cook for The Man and The Step-son because The Man is on call and has to work), and an Amish spiral-sliced ham for Christmas (because I am cooking for The Man's family on Christmas Eve, which is the day we get The Step-son).

What does this mean? This means "holy-crap-I-have-a-bunch-of-food-coming-again-and-I-need-to-do-something-with-what's-in-the-fridge-now!"

So this weekend's plans are to finish tearing down the barn, and cook/bake/freeze like a crazy person. I have 4 zucchini that will become bread, artichokes that will be steamed and eaten with butter, carrots that I have no idea what to do with right now other than chicken soup (which will use up the rest of the roasted chicken from the other night), turnips (dunno yet), apples, and pears. A clamshell of mixed baby greens. I am going to turn green from salads! I still have strawberries in there too, but I will probably just hull and freeze those.

The organic delivery service has an affiliation with another place called Natural Farms. This place carries a TON of GF stuff. As long as I order by a certain date, it gets delivered with my organic stuff. I love this because I can get enough food for 2 weeks and I don't even have to set foot out of the house, other than to get the boxes off the porch!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Man and his cat

There are certain blankets in the house that Baby loves. The one on The Man is one of them. If The Man throws that cat-magnet over his body, Baby gets on top of him, purring like an engine, and promptly begins doing the paw-thing and sucking on the blanket fuzz.

Until he sees the sharks in the fish tank. It's like Cat TV, that fish tank - Baby will hop up on the cat tree we keep next to it and stare at fish for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. He also likes to chase the sharks around...and around...and around....the fish tank.

Doofus cat.

Dinner was very simple tonight. Smashed baby red potatoes with butter, a mixed greens salad, and a london broil steak. Eaten by only me (The Man was not hungry). His loss.

And because I can't post a picture of one cat and not the other...Vester on my lap.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Chicken and to speak

Dinner tonight was garlic and leek risotto, honeyed carrots, and honey-mustard chicken. Nummy.

I am slowly but surely working my way through that monstrous organic food shipment. Tonight took care of the leek and a third of the carrots.

What's left? A package of beef stew meat, one piece of salmon, 2 turnips, broccoli, some carrots, asparagus, strawberries, apples, pears...I think there's more but I am too full to get my butt off the couch.

I am so proud of The Man tonight. I know he hates cooked carrots, but I asked him to try mine, which are not cooked to the point of mush and I drip a little honey over them. He put a small (read miniscule) pile on his plate and actually ate some. Not only did he try something he doesn't care for, but he ate something new too) of course, without knowing it. While I was doing dishes, he came into the kitchen (we are slackers that eat in the living room in front of the tube) to get a second helping of the "creamy rice stuff." As he was piling it on his plate, I told him that he had eaten something new - leeks, and aren't they weaker-tasting than onions? I got a "damn it" and was told to stop sneaking food past him. But he took his pile of creamy rice stuff and headed back to the living room and Everyone Loves Raymond.

And brought back an empty plate. Well, except for the pile of carrots. He tried.

So...the muffins

Cranberry Almond Muffins

Adapted from the Pamela's recipe

1-1/4 cups Pamela's baking and pancake mix
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar + more for sprinkling
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Combine the baking and pancake mix, water, sugar, egg and vanilla in a cat-hairless bowl until just moistened. Gently mix in the cranberries and almonds. Spoon into a greased muffin tin (I used a big one) and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

I upped the sugar in the batter because of the tartness of the cranberries.

And now....what to make for my birthday dinner?

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me...

The Man hasn't even said a word yet.

So what does any self-respecting newly 35 yo woman do? Make muffins!

More later.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Word to the wise

Never start dinner and then clean your 75-gallon fish tank unless you want a really, really dry pork roast.

Nuff said.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Gluten sensitivity/intolerance testing

So I have some personal reasons that are keeping me from having the blood tests done for gluten intolerance. Several members of gluten-sensitivity/intolerance forums have used Enterolab to have testing done. I am seriously debating this...because I want to know. But like I said, I can't have this bloodwork done right now, and may not be able to for a while.

I am hoping the expense is worth it and proves me not crazy.

I am being very good about not ingesting gluten. This morning, I needed a small dab of margarine for the chocolate raspberry spread, so I pulled the tub out of the fridge and lifted the lid.

Crumbs in the margarine/butter container drive me nuts anyway, but this morning, seeing the large volume of them deposited by The Man's knife while making bacon sandwiches on Friday, caused me to pitch a small hissy fit. Not that he was around to witness it.

It's a good thing I look at food more closely now. Tomorrow after work, I am going to have to buy another tub and clearly mark it as mine.

Ode to Crocs and other miscellany

First of all, I want to reiterate how sucky I am with a digital camera. This is brought home to me every time I take pictures and have to look at them, like what happened about 10 minutes ago. I gave up and what you see is what you get.

I bought my first pairs of Crocs yesterday. I got 1 pair with no holes and 1 pair with (pink, naturally). The last time I canned, I was on my feet for 5 hours and the dogs were barking really loudly. Before I started my raspberry experience this morning, I put on the pink pair (just in case I slopped raspberry goo on my feet). When finishing up with the last of the dishes at about 10:30, I realized that my feet did not hurt AT ALL. I have a new favorite shoe and desperately want to know how I can get away with wearing these at work.


I made raspberry jam and raspberry-chocolate sauce from the Sure Jell website.

About 30 minutes ago, I wanted to taste the raspberry-chocolate stuff. So I poached a pear in water (with a cinnamon stick) and popped one of those cute little jars open.

Yum. A nice reward for being smoke-free for 5 hours.

The Man has been informed that there will be no cooking of large (or even medium....make that not even SMALL) proportions this evening. I am on kitchen strike until tomorrow. Unless I change my mind. Which has been known to happen.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Pear galette

This pear galette was my first experience with making any sort of GF crust. I used the pie crust #2 recipe on the Pamela's website.

2 ripe pears

1/3 cup slivered almonds

3 tbsp brown sugar

1 recipe Pamela's pie crust #2

Make the pie crust per directions. Peel, core, and slice the pears. Put the almonds and brown sugar in the food processor and pulse until finely ground. Sprinkle half of the almond mixture over the prepared crust. Layer the pear slices, making sure they overlap. Sprinkle the remainder of the almond mixture over the top.

Bake in a 350 oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Saturday night dinner

Just finished feeding my face with roasted chicken, jerusalem artichokes, and red potatoes.

I am so happy to be cooking again. Once upon a time, I made real meals like this every night. Then I started traveling for work and cooking during the work week went right out the window. When I decided to go GF as a test, I HAD to cook unless I wanted to spend a truckload of money on not-so-great packaged food. Don't get me wrong - packaged food has its place and I often take advantage. However, it's worth an hour or two racing crazily around my kitchen to eat good, wholesome, healthy food.

The jerusalem artichokes - eh, I can do without the breading and if I can get my hands on some again, I will make them the same way but without breading. Maybe it was the flour I used (Bob's Red Mill GF all-purpose flour).

Here's the breakdown on how I put together tonight's dinner.

Roasted Chicken, Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes & Red Potatoes

1 organic whole chicken
1 pound Jerusalem artichokes
2-3 good handfuls of small red potatoes
2 lemons
Salt and pepper
1 head of garlic
GF all purpose flour
Roasted garlic olive oil
Lotsa butter

Wash the chicken inside and out; don't forget to stick your hand up the bird's butt to get the giblets out (I left one bag in once at Thanksgiving and didn't hear the end of it for months. How the hell was I supposed to know there would be 2 bags, one at each end?). Anyway, salt and pepper the inside of the bird.

While you are washing and removing parts, melt 1/4 cup of butter. Cut a lemon into quarters and the head of garlic in half (through the middle of the cloves). Stuff them in the bird's butt. Put the bird onto the rack of your roasting pan (I use a Nesco roaster for this). Brush melted butter over all of the visible parts of the chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 350 degrees.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees if you aren't roasting the chicken in a Nesco.

After you get the chicken going, prepare a bowl of water with the other lemon squeezed into it. Painstakingly peel the jerusalem artichokes. I found that if I cut the little nobby-things off first, the peeling went a little easier. Chop them into bite-sized pieces and put them into the bowl of water.

Put 1/4 cup of unsalted butter into an oven-safe dish and get it into the oven until the butter melts. Take the dish out of the oven and set aside.

Start a pot of salted water on the stove; get it boiling and then put the artichoke pieces in for no more than 5 minutes (cook until tender only or they will turn to mush according to Irish Food and Cooking). While the artichokes are in the boiling water, mix together a half cup or so of GF flour and fresh-ground pepper. When the artichokes are done, drain them on a paper towel.

Roll the artichokes in the flour mixture, then put them into the ovenproof dish with the melted butter. Roll them around in the butter to get them coated and then put the dish back into the oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Wash and cut the red potatoes in half. Put them into a pot with water and salt and boil until fork-tender. Drain and douse with roasted garlic olive oil.

Jerusalem artichokes

When I pulled the bag of "I don't know whats" out of the packing box this week, I wondered what the @$#% (insert your favorite expletive here) I was going to do with 2 pounds of ginger. I looked through the included cookbook and found a picture of Jerusalem artichokes and thought, "hey-it's not ginger. Thank god!"

I have dinner on the stove/in the oven/in the Nesco roaster right now. I will let you know what's in store for dinner in a bit. In the meanwhile, here's some info on Jerusalem artichokes.

Friday, November 03, 2006

A plate of many colors

Purple potatoes, onions, red beets, and salmon. On a yellow plate. I need sunglasses. Damn good eating.

I was on my own for dinner again tonight as The Man is bartending. Obviously, I was so disappointed about that because that meant I could make for dinner whatever appealed to me.

What appealed to me is a bunch of stuff that came in my organic delivery. As I was pulling things out of those boxes, I immediately imagined what I could do with each food.

I have never eaten purple potatoes before; the container these were in said "purple roasting potatoes," so that's what I did along with some yellow onion and garlic. As Rachel Ray would say, YUM-O!

Beets. I haven't had fresh beets since I was a kid. I even remembered how to keep the juice stains to a minimum (peel under water and rinse the cutting board immediately). The first bite was like heaven.

Salmon is one of those foods, like tuna and cabbage, that The Man doesn't want me to cook unless he is nowhere around. I keep telling him that fresh salmon doesn't stink like the junk in a can.

Oh well. His loss. I had a wonderful dinner and am already thinking about leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Baked Salmon, Boiled Beets & Roasted Purple Potatoes
Feeds 1 with a few leftovers

4 small purple potatoes
1 piece of salmon
1 small yellow onion
4 beets
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Wash the beets under running water. Chop into bite-sized pieces and put into a pot of water. Salt the water and heat on medium-low heat.
Chop the potatoes and onion into bite-sized pieces. Mince the garlic. Throw it all into an ovenproof dish and douse with olive oil, salt and pepper. Put into the preheated oven.
Put the salmon into an ovenproof dish. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put into the oven.
It happened that my potatoes and salmon got done at the same time because my salmon was still half-frozen when it went into the oven.
Notice that there were no cat hair references...until now. The little brats actually stayed out of the kitchen! I washed the counters down before I started as usual and since they stayed away, no kitty fur in the food tonight.
Tomorrow's agenda (NO BARN! NO BARN!)
Raspberry jam
Pear galette or something else with the pears that are taking over my fridge
Roasted chicken
Another new veggie - Jerusalem artichokes (will take pics so you can see what they look like - not like what you think an artichoke should look like)
GF cookies!
If there's time, something cranberry-related (they've been selling the bags 2 for $4 at the local grocery store so I have been stocking up big-time)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Recipe from the new cookbook

Last night, I flipped through the new cookbook, Irish Food and Cooking by Biddy White Lennon and Georgina Campbell, slapping a post-it on every page with a recipe that sounded good, as well as reading the history tidbits. This morning before work, I opened each page that had a post-it and picked something for dinner tonight.

Naturally, I would choose something The Man would stick his nose up at - parsnip soup. Not that it matters because he was asleep when I got home at 5:30 and he's still asleep now at 7:00.

Now, I can't recall ever eating a parsnip. Doesn't mean I haven't, but I don't remember the smell that wafted toward my nose while peeling them or while they were cooking before I added the spices.

If I make this again, I definitely need to add some potatoes to help draw down the parsnip aftertaste. Maybe The Man might at least sniff the pot then.

I ate mine with GF cornbread from Bob's Red Mill (yes, the stuff I was too hungry to bake this past weekend).

Parsnip Soup
from Irish Food & Cooking

2 lbs parsnips
1/4 c butter
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
5 c hot chicken stock
2/3 c light cream
salt and ground black pepper
chopped fresh chives or parsley, to garnish

Peel and slice the parsnips. Remove the cat from the counter at least 5 times while attempting to prepare the parsnips. Heat the butter in a pot and add the peeled parsnips and onion with the garlic. Cook until soft but not browned, stirring occasionally. Oh heck...feed the cats and the fish before you forget again.

Add the spices to the pot and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the chicken stock and stir.

Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, long enough to shove the scraps down the disposal and accidentally step on your cat's tail (why do they always lay right behind where you're standing?). When the parsnips are soft, pour the whole pot into a blender and puree. Adjust texture with stock or water if too thick. Taste to check for seasoning. Add the cream and reheat without boiling. Serve immediately.

He's still sleeping...!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Holy Crapola!

My organic delivery arrived today. Holy crap. This time, I picked a few things myself but also ordered what my organic delivery service calls the Cookbook Box. Their chef chooses a cookbook, flips through to find recipes that sound good, puts their veggie (and meat if you choose) ingredients into a box with the cookbook, and you have dinner for 5 for a week.

They weren't kidding.

This is what fit on the counter.

Here's the cookbook that came with it.

I flipped through the cookbook briefly and there are a lot of things I want to try.

There are a lot of vegetables I either haven't eaten in a very long time or never even tried. Red chard. Parsnips. THREE different kinds of potatoes. Pears coming out of my butt (I ordered 3 pounds of anjou not knowing what would be in the box - guess what? There were red pears in it!). There are things I have never seen before and have no idea what they are. I am hoping I can figure it out from the pictures in the book.

I also ordered a case of raspberries. Jam, syrup....don't know what I will do with them yet.

I better start cooking soon - I hate to throw food away and since it's all organic, it doesn't have the shelf life of the junk you buy in a grocery store. I don't know how I am going to get at the leftovers for my lunch tomorrow LOL