Friday, December 30, 2005

whirlwind adventure

Wow. Busy holiday for me:

Christmas Day: I left at 8 a.m. and drove to my uncle's house in Janesville, WI. I had a nice time, hanging out with the fam. I especially had fun playing "Life" and hanging out with my two cousins, who I haven't seen much these past couple of years. That evening, my immediate family opened presents. New snowpants and mittens for me! Wahoo!

26th: My parents had an open house from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. We spent most of the morning preparing for the party, and the rest of the evening cleaning up from the party. It was a nice party, but an exhausing day.

27th: My family went out for breakfast, and then I dove home. (Uneventful drive again. Lucky, lucky, luck!) Then I went to the grocery store and made a pan of lasagna.

28th: I spent the day in Elk River with Chelsea and Olivia. I always have so much fun hanging out with those two! We went consignment store shopping, and I bought three shirts for a total of $12.50. Score. Then that evening I went to the choir Christmas party. (That's what I needed the lasagna for.) The food was good. I didn't stay long -- I was tired.

29th: I watched a movie in the morning and did not much else. I went for a walk in the afternoon, and also had my hairs cut. Quite drastic. Very short. Friends like it, but I'm still not entirely sure about it. That evening, Ann and I went out for dinner and exploring at the co-op. Hooray!

Today: Christine and I went shopping, after I sold some books, cds, and movies at Half Priced Books. We started at H&M at the Megamall/Black Hole of Death. I tried on 7 things, and none of them fit properly. (Well, actually there was this really cute black tank top . . . but I couldn't justify spending twenty bucks on a black tank top in December.) We saw both Michelle and Steve, which was nice, and both commented on my drastic hair. Then Christine and I attempted several other stores, (oh -- our shopping goals were to find Christine new shoes for work and me a shirt to wear out tomorrow night,) before ending up at the petite department at Macy's. I should know better by now to just START there -- I ended up finding a really cute white sparkly button up for not too much money that actually fit properly. SCORE! I'm really becoming disgusted with clothing -- nothing seems to fit any more. Then I came home and watched a movie and took down my Christmas tree. Sheesh!

Tomorrow will be busy as well. I have lots and lots and lots of things to do around the apartment, and then Christine and I are going out tomorrow night! I've never been "out" on New Year's Eve before. (We're seeing a few local bands play at the Hyatt, which is just a few blocks from my apartment.) I'm looking forward to it!

If you are planning on going out tomorrow night, have fun and stay safe. If you are staying in, enjoy your night off and Happy New Year Everyone!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

upcoming lack of recipes

Merry Christmas Eve!

Just wanted to alert you all to an upcoming lack of recipe posting on my part. Why, you ask? Well . . . I'm in the process of writing and perfecting recipes for the cookbook. So I'm going to keep them top-secret, (well, not really top-secret . . . if you want one of my recipes, just ask -- I need testers, bad!), until further notice. I will still continue to post about the other aspects of my life, however, and will tell stories of things I've cooked, just to spite. :) (Well, not to spite, but perhaps to whet your appetite for the cookbook??)

I made the best pasta for lunch . . . spaghetti with garlic butter and artichokes. Mmmm. This one's going in the cookbook, with a few other additions, methinks!

And, one of the kids in my class gave me a big bag of old-school hard candies as part of a holiday gift. I LOVE THEM! Ribbon candies, candies shaped like fish, weird little knobs of sugary goodness. And they all have these really crazy, unexpected flavors like wintergreen and anise. (As an example, I put a yellow and white striped piece in my mouth a few moments ago and it tastes like . . . anise!)

For some reason, I thought of Harry Potter and his Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. You never can tell . . . .

Happy travels if you are travelling, and if you are in the area and have nothing better to do this evening around 10:30, come to my church for a music-filled, candle-lit Christmas Eve service. I'll be driving back to WI EARLY tomorrow morning to meet up with the fam around noon. Wish me luck and wakefulness at 6 a.m. tomorrow!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Turf Club and Nina's Coffee Cafe

Ann, Michelle, and I went out to the Turf Club last night to see the TV Sound play -- the guys did an awesome show, and we also found a new local band to listen to: White Light Riot. They were babies (three of the four of them are still under 21 -- they had big, black "X"s on the backs of both hands -- very rock and roll -- ha!) but very very talented. Steve told us that they (meaning the TV Sound) are planning a show at the Varsity (one of my favorite venues EVER!) with White Light Riot and This World Fair, who I've also seen before and who I also think rocks! Hooray! I can't wait.

And man, I had never been to the Turf Club before. Overall, it's an awesome place -- one of those hip dive bars that draws a really awesome crowd. Cheap drinks, too, according to Michelle. (I rarely, if ever, drink when I go out just because I'm so darn poor!) My only complaint is that, since it's in Saint Paul, the smoking ban doesn't count for them -- I'm still working on Febreezing the jeans I wore there last night, because they STINK! But I'd go back there again in a heartbeat. Neat place.

Oh -- and I was really glad I had earplugs with me. They like things L O U D at the Turf Club!

I'm starting to realize how much I really, really love local music. It's amazing, though -- you can play about three degrees to any local musician in this town. They all know each other! As an example, I found out that White Light Riot's album was produced by Erik Applewick of Viscious Vicious and the Hopefuls; Darren Jackson is also in the Hopefuls and Kid Dakota, and also plays in a band called The Attics, which my coworker Dan drums for. Sheesh! Tight community.

I had fun shopping with Lauren today -- we walked around Saint Paul while she finished up her Christmas shopping and had some soup at a little coffee shop called Nina's Coffee Cafe . Really good soup and neat atmosphere. (Three of the four soup choices were vegetarian! Yay!) I was sad that they stopped serving breakfast at 11 -- I really wanted an egg sandwich. I'll just have to go back another time!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

today I . . . did very little!

I love those vacation days when you consider taking a shower and doing a load of laundry accomplishments. :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Yeah. I just now realized I forgot to post my gingerbread cookie and butter cookie recipes. Sorry.

As an aside, I DID use white sugar and white flour in my holiday baking this year, as well as real whole eggs. But I used Earth Balance buttery sticks whenever butter or shortening were called for. (Except in the chocolate drizzles and dips that the other two cookies called for . . . the small amount of water in the EB made my first batch of chocolate drizzle seize up. Bah. So I did use horrible trans-fat-full shortening. I should really just throw that can o' stuff out, shouldn't I?)

Gingerbread Cookies courtesy of Betty Crocker . . .

I did not, however, use their frosting. I piped little features onto the "guys" using a ziploc I had snipped the corner off, full of this icing:

Beat on high speed 5 minutes:
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 egg white
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

(Yes . . . it uses a raw egg white . . . how many times have I eaten raw cookie dough and survived? More times than I can count. But I wouldn't feed this icing to a child under 5, or an elderly person. Just a wee disclaimer.)

Here's the recipe for my Grandma Weber's butter Christmas Cookies:
(I hesitate to call them sugar coookies, because they're not terribly sweet, which makes them excellent candidates for a coating of the frosting of your choice. Don't forget the sprinkles.)

4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Cut in:
1 cup butter

Stir in:
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp baking soda
1 heaping cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill overnight before rolling out and cutting. Bake at 325 degrees until edges just begin to brown. Cool and frost.

Now, I didn't use a peppermint frosting recipe -- I just made it up. But I do have a peppermint cream frosting recipe I'll share with you if you need it!

Peppermint Cream Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp peppermint extract
1/4 to 1/3 cups milk

Beat until smooth. Divide among small bowls or custard cups and tint with food coloing.

Happy Christmas!

more on the perfect purse

Inspired by Chelsea's post, I thought I'd post a link to a picture of my perfect purse! I believe the color I bought is called "garden green." And I have lengthened the strap so I can wear it "Indiana Jones" style. And I have put all of my tiny buttons across the front.

Speaking of tiny buttons, Chris Koza, one of my new favorite local artists, has tiny buttons. I want one. I think more bands should make tiny buttons.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

busy buzzard

I have been incredibly productive these first four days of my vacation, and I just can't believe how much stuff I've gotten done . . . but I also can't believe how many movies I've watched so far! I believe I told you about Christine's and my shopping adventures Saturday . . . and my tag-along shopping adventures with Ann on Sunday. I've taken care of laundry and a mountain of dishes and a few other miscellaneous errands, (including taking Marie's Christmas gift to the post office -- watch for it, dearest!), and have officially begun work on the cookbook I've been talking about writing for ages now.

The cookbook is a little difficult to describe . . . it's mostly about why and how young/single people should/can cook healthfully for themselves. I have written the introductory chapter, (which, even after two edits on my part, is still 6 pages long. I think I need to cut it further, although I attempt to set up the reasoning behind creation of the cookbook, as well as explain my loose interpretation of healthful eating practices,) and the "Plan of Attack" chapter, where I give advice on kitchen hardware and software, grocery shopping, and meal planning. I have also chosen the recipes to be included in the following chapters: "Daily Bread," "The MOST IMPORTANT meal of your day," "Sack it," "Snacks -- your new best friend," "Mom, what's for dinner?", and "A treat a day keeps the psychologist away?" I, however, have a LOT of recipe tweaking, formulation, and testing to accomplish now. (I think this part will take me months and months and months.) Since I don't want to plagiarize and many of the recipes have come from magazines, cookbooks, or websites, I need to tweak them significantly in order to make them my own. I also need to make things I've made up again and carefully document measurements. And I'd like to include Nutrition Facts for each recipe, and I hear you can find calculators for these kinds of things on the internet. Sheesh.

I also need a title.

And eventually, I'll need recipe testers. Let me know if you'd be interested in helping with this. Once I get a recipe looking and feeling the way I want it to look and feel, I'm going to need family and friends to test these and make sure the ingredients are easy enough to find, the directions make sense, and everything is consistent.

I also need a publisher, eventually. Anyone know someone who works in the publishing business?

Wish me luck. Who knows if I'll ever get to the point where I want to publish this, let alone find someone who's interested enough in this idea to print up a few copies. But it's worth a shot, right?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Cappuccino Biscotti

Beat 30 seconds:
1/3 cup butter, softened

Beat in:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Beat in:
2 tablespoons strong-brewed coffee
1 tablespoon finely ground coffee beans
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Beat in:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill 1 hour.

Shape dough into two 9-inch long loaves on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 25 minutes or until tests done. Cool on cookie sheet 1 hour.

Cut each loaf diagonally into 1/2-inch slices using serrated knife. Place cut-side up on dry cookie sheets and bake at 325 for 10 minutes. Flip biscotti and bake an additional 8 to 10 minutes or until dry and crisp. Cool completely.

Melt together:
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 tablespoon shortening
Dip bottoms of cookies in chocolate and let cool until set on parchment paper.

Melt together:
2 ounces white chocolate
2 tsp shortening.
Drizzle tops of cookies with white chocolate mixture. Let cool until set on parchment paper.

Transfer to airtight container and store in fridge.

Irish Cream Truffle Coookies

Stir together:
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
1/4 cup light cooking oil

Sift together, then stir into above:
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour

Cover and chill dough at least 1 hour. Roll dough into 1/2-inch balls and bake at 375 for 6 to 7 minutes. Cool. Dust with powdered sugar.

Beat together:
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, melted
1 tablespoon Irish Cream liqueur
Fill cookies sandwich-style.

Melt together:
3 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 tsp shortening
Drizzle over cookies. Cool until set, then store cookies in airtight container in fridge.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Shop 'til I drop, then shop some more.

It's so nice, being on vacation. Sunday night, and I have nowhere to go tomorrow! I can stay up as late as I want to, and sleep until I wake up tomorrow morning. (I will probably go to bed fairly soon, however, because I got up EARLY this morning to take Christine to the airport.)

I have very little to report. I went Christmas shopping yesterday with Christine, (I'm DONE!), came home and wrapped everything that still needed to be wrapped, and spent the evening hanging out with Ann and Michelle. (Why is it that when women get together, we inevitably end up sitting around the kitchen table? One of life's great mysteries.) Today, after my uneventful adventure to the airport, I watched a movie, then provided Ann with moral support while she finished her Christmas shopping. I also purchased a fire extinguisher for my apartment -- until today, I didn't have one! Also,


Yes indeed, I think I have. It's from the Electric Fetus's gift department. It's green corduroy, not too big but not too small, has an adjustable strap that can go "Indiana Jones" style OR over-the-shoulder, and very well constructed. (It's by "Dickies.") I haven't had much time to test it out yet, but I am feeling confident that this may, indeed, be my perfect purse. I didn't, up until now, know that such a thing existed. I had hopes, of course, but false ones, I thought.


And I promise tomorrow I will begin posting Christmas Cookie recipes. For now, I'll tell you what I made:
gingerbread people
cutout butter cookies with peppermint icing and sprinkles
Irish Cream Truffle Cookies
Cappuccino Biscotti

Nighty night, folks, and I apologize if you have to go to work tomorrow. I don't!

AND . . .

H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y C H E L S E A ! ! !

Go check out Chels's new and improved blog -- link's on the right hand side of this here bloggie.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

best . . . cornbread . . . ever!

Yeah, baby. I made one fantastic pan of cornbread today, to go with my black-eyed peas. Here's the recipe:

Whisk together:
1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Whisk together, then gently stir into above just until moistened:
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup light cooking oil

Pour into a greased 8-inch pan and bake at 425 for about 25 minutes, or until GBD and tests done.

(Gotta be all that sugar, fat, and white flour that makes it taste sooooo good!)

I also baked 4 different kinds of Christmas cookies this weekend. I'm tired of mixing rolling and baking and frosting and decorating and especially washing dishes, but they are all done and all delicious! I'll post recipes AFTER the party!

I also made marshmallows. An unusual thing happened. They ended up much stickier than they usually do -- I think it's something to do with the dry heat in my apartment coupled with the slower time I took to bring the syrup to the 244 degrees it needed to be at before I combined it with the gelatin -- I think cooked off too much of the water. Oh well -- they still taste fantastic!

And our concert this morning was great. I almost missed it though, because my alarm didn't go off! (I arrived at church five minutes before service started. Completely missed warm-ups.) I was smart enough to set my alarm for 8:00. And dumb enough to set it for 8 p.m., instead of 8 a.m. Sheesh!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

so . . . tired . . .

Why, you ask? Well, I'll tell you!

Today at work, Dan, Sarah, the kids, and I hauled 16 bales of straw from the farm to the preschool.


We have a swingset at the bottom of our sledding hill, and we need to protect the kiddies from the posts, and also from tree trunks. Hay bales are nice and soft and bouncy if one runs a sled into it!

Also, I ran to Target at lunchtime for cat food and litter, (there is a new Super Target near work,) and then hit the co-op after work for groceries. And then ran back and forth from the car to the apartment, unloading 5 bags of groceries, and the bags of food and litter. I'm trying to run errands during the week and stay on top of the dishes so when the weekends roll around, I don't have quite so much to do, and can spend more time relaxing. We'll see how it works out!

Two notes about this upcoming weekend:

1. I may begin baking for the cocoa and cookies party I'm having on the 13th (if you haven't received your invitation yet and you live near me, you probably will soon!) and I'll try to post recipes . . . AFTER the party, so I don't spoil the surprises for the friendlets!
2. If you have Sunday morning free, come see me sing at my church at 9:30 a.m. We are performing Haydn's Mass for Saint Nicholas. It's happy and fun, we've hired a small orchestra, and it's free!

I have to call Christine. I'm not sure how much longer I can wait to see the new Harry Potter movie!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Weird Wild Rice

Sometimes, things that sound a little odd at first turn out to be just fantastic. Here's what I threw together for dinner:

Combine in a medium saucepot, cooking for 5 minutes:
2 tablespoons light cooking oil
1/2 cup cracked wild rice
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (the shelled kind, obviously)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer over low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, or until rice is tender.

I love the way my apartment smells after cooking wild rice -- all earthy and nutty and yummy!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

weekends stink, all of a sudden

I am a little confused about a recent phenomenon I've been experiencing. I haven't been looking forward to my weekends! I'm not entirely sure why, except that I feel like I haven't been getting nearly enough time to rest, relax, and recharge. Why? Probably a number of factors:
~ Friday night babysitting jobs
~ Lots of plans with friends (which I love . . .)
~ Laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, and other general house maintenance stuff
~ Church on Sunday mornings
~ A recent inability to sleep past 7:00 a.m. (7:30 if I'm really lucky)
~ Errands
~ Work that has been following me home (newsletters, computer maintenance, conference forms, etc.)

The upcoming weekend probably won't be very relaxing either, with family plans and travel involved. Bah.

All I can say is, I am very much looking forward to winter break. Four weeks and counting! And then . . . two weeks of nearly nothing to do. I can't wait.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

golly, it's cold.

Now, I love living in Minnesota. I love the seasons. But I don't love how the seasons change overnight. For example:

balmy fall,
balmy fall,
balmy fall,
balmy fall,
balmy fall,

We reached our high of 25 degrees today before I ever got out of bed. The wind was fast and furious, and about 4 degrees.

I better run and shower so my hair has some time to dry before I leave for choir practice -- otherwise, it will probably freeze. Bah!

Monday, November 14, 2005


Souhwestern Black-Eyed Peas (Courtesy of Betty Crocker's New Cookbook)

1. Cook 3/4 cup dried black-eyed peas. Drain.
2. Cook 1 cup sliced okra, 1/4 cup chopped onion, 2 cloves garlic, minced, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon tabasco sauce in 1 tbsp oil 5 minutes, or until onion is soft.
3. Stir in black-eyed peas, 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, and 1 small tomato, seeded and chopped. Heat through, adding a little water if necessary.

Now . . . spill a bunch of that over a piece of cornbread, and you've got a mighty tasty dinner.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

caramel nut brownies

I updated an old brownie recipe to make these goodies . . . enjoy!

Whisk together:
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg plus 2 egg whites
4 tbsp Earth Balance, melted
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch salt

Stir in:
5 tbsp baking cocoa
10 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour

Pour batter into greased 8 inch pan, then top with a good drizzle of caramel ice cream topping and a big handfull of chopped pecans. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, or until they test done. Cool before cutting into 16 squares!

(You could possibly reduce the amount of sugar to half a cup -- if you do, let me know how they turn out!)


What is with all of the nutters in my neighborhood lately? I was just getting home from Ann and Michelle's, and parked my car just outside the hospital across the street from my apartment building. I get out of my car and some dude pulls his monstrosity of an SUV over near the curb and yells out his window how I can't park there and I need to park at a meter. I look at him with the "interested, don't have any idea what you're saying because I'm pretending I can't speak English" look, and he then says, "the cops are gonna tow your car, IDIOT!" and then drove off. I felt somewhat taken aback. So, like a smart girl, I high tail it into my apartment building, drop off my purse, wait to see his car pull away, and go back and check on my car. As I had originally thought, I was completely parked in a meter spot. (You only have to put money in from 8 am to 6 pm M-F.) Perhaps he didn't see the meter sitting there on its lovely little silver post.

Somehow, I don't think yelling "idiot!" after someone out your car window is an effective way of helping them out.

Perhaps he had been drinking. I am doubly glad my car is safely tucked away for the evening! Sheesh.

Like I said earlier, nutter. Just plain nutter.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Blue Skies smiling at me

An unusual title, given the especially rainy weather today.

HOWEVER, we are currently selling Blue Sky guides at work right now, as a fundraiser for the scholarship fund. Let me know if you want one -- they are twenty bucks. (The preschool makes $10 off each guide sold.)

In unrelated news, I am nearly done with my Christmas shopping. It feels a little strange going Christmas shopping when it's still 60 degrees outside. But, when your mom asks you for a Christmas list in early October, it gets one to thinking. Also, unless I buy early, all the good stuff is gone off people's lists. Kind of like waiting until the last minute to get a wedding present, and then all that's left on the registry is a garlic press, one napkin, and a soap dish.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Cookie Monster is banging my door down.

So, I made killer, fabulous, awesome chocolate chip cookies yesterday. (They are actually vegan, because I made them for this week's staff meeting, and I have one coworker who is vegan and several coworkers who have severe dairy intolerances.) They aren't incredibly healthy . . . but they still have a bit less sugar, are whole grain, and have no trans fat and very little saturated fat. And I can't stop eating them! (Some may end up going to Michelle's on Saturday night, if there are any left, so I can get them out of the house!)

Here's the recipe:

Cream together:
1 cup Earth Balance spread
1/2 cup natural/raw sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar

Whisk together, then stir in:
1 tablespoon commercial egg replacer (such as Ener-G)
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp vanilla

Combine, then stir in:
2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Stir in:
2 cups chocolate chips (check the label if you are actually trying to make these vegan -- some may have dairy)
1 cup chopped pecans

Drop by rounded tablespoonfulls (you may want to slightly smush them flat, since these don't spread quite as much as traditional CCCs do,) onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake at 350 for 10 or so minutes.

(I've found it's best to slightly underbake goodies made with whole wheat flour, as opposed to overbaking them -- they get tough if they get too brown. You want to pull them out just as they are completely set and are a light golden brown color.)

Something you could do to cut down on some of the fat would be to replace half the Earth Balance with an equal amount of soy or regular yogurt, (stir the yogurt when you stir in the egg replacer,) and then use 1 cup of mini chocolate chips, instead of the 2 cups of regular chips.

Hey, so all of this talk of CCCs . . . I may have to go have another. Although I made fabulous homemade pizza for dinner tonight, and am still a little full from that . . . decisions!

Happy Monday, folks!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

ah, harry potter . . .

I just finished rereading all six of the Harry Potter books today. I had started this project, oh, a month or so ago, and it was well worth my time -- as Christine suggested might happen, I became completely immersed in that world. And I caught stuff I missed the first time 'round, since I wasn't in such a hurry to find out what happened. And I'm even more excited for the last book to publish. Well, or the next book, anyway.

See, I have a few cockamamie theories concerning the Potter series. I actually think there will be 4 more books. Why, you ask? Well, for starters, Harry has to find 4 horcruxes and then kill Voldemort -- a big task for just one more novel, if you ask me. (See, find one horcrux per novel, then also kill Voldemort at the end of the last one.) Also, Harry technically has one year left at Hogwarts, then will be required to do some sort of wizard college, since he wants to be an Auror. (I'm sorry if someone who hasn't read the books is reading this -- you have no idea what I'm rambling about.) Also, I think ten is a nice number of books -- much more well-rounded than seven.

Other conspiracy-type theories: I think Sirius Black will come back, and I'm not entirely sure Dumbledore is dead. I still think Snape is working for the "good guys" -- although there is the problem of that unbreakable vow thing he formed at the beginning of book six. Perhaps he "had" to kill Dumbledore, because of the vow, and didn't know what he was agreeing to at the time. Or it could be a big, fat setup -- Snape was in on faking Dumbledore's death or something. Who knows. But it's incredibly interesting fiction!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

ya, you betcha

I watched "Fargo" tonight. I had had several people over the years tell me I shouldn't watch it because I wouldn't like it. They were wrong! I thought it was both disturbing and interesting, and I was surprised to find out it was a true story. And I appreciated the message they tried to send.

And, strangely enough, I know one of the actors. I used to babysit for the guy who played the parking attendant's kids. Crazy, eh?

Off to bed -- I was running a fever earlier today, and I have a sore throat and am all achy and stuff. Bah. At least I have a sub for work tomorrow, and can take it easy.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

occupational hazard

So, something unpleasant happened at work this afternoon. Dan and I had a small group of kids bushwhacking around the overlook pond when suddenly, I felt something strange in my hair. I had a "small' ball of burdock seeds (i.e., about the size of a baseball,) stuck to the back of my head, tangled in my hair, near my collar. I had another clump of them attached to the top of my head, too.

Bless Tammy, for she spent fifteen minutes with me pulling them out.

And what did I learn today?

Always, always, always wear a hat.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

I have no words.

A long setup before I offer up a recipe:

Well, it's fall. The temperatures are (somewhat) cooler, the leaves are changing colors and then abruptly dropping off the trees into crunchy piles on the ground, a hat and mittens have become must-haves for the early mornings at work, and I have been craving fall food. Pumpkin, sweet potato, apples, baked goods, and . . . soup. After a long, nearly soup-free summer, I'm back, baby.

Now, soup is one of my all-time favorite foods. Why, you ask? Well, it's warm, comforting, easy to make, freezable, usually a "meal in one," and one of the few "leftovers" that I'll actually eat. If I have soup in the fridge, dinner's nearly done when I walk in the door from work. A nice lunch, too, especially with a grilled cheese sandwich.

I admit, I'm a bit of a soup snob. (Well, I'm a food snob -- see new title for my bloggie?) I grew up eating nearly all homemade soups -- vegetable beef barley, ham and bean, chicken noodle, chicken rice, turkey noodle, chili, and so on. Soup in its canned form did not grace my parents' pantry shelves, unless it was the "cream of" variety, which would subsequently be poured into a casserole or over a chicken bake. Strangely enough, I don't recall tasting Campbell's tomato soup until well after graduate school . . . I thought I didn't like tomato soup, when in actuality, I don't think I'd ever had canned tomato soup. (I do actually like tomato soup, and it's the only canned soup I'll buy.)

I have been craving chicken noodle soup lately, which is unusually odd, since I am a vegetarian. (I still think fall and winter make us crave the foods of our childhood -- I'm not sure why. Any ideas?) So, I attempted to create a vegetarian chicken noodle soup . . . and oh baby, I have no words. This is a complete, fantastic, culinary triumph on my part. (If I do say so myself.) I think I have nearly replicated the flavors and textures most people come to expect from chicken noodle soup, in a completely vegetarian form. (Well, if we're splitting hairs, it's technically vegan.) So, here's the recipe.


1. Heat 2 to 4 tablespoons olive or canola oil in a large soup pot. Add a heaping cup each chopped carrot, celery, and onion, and 4 minced cloves garlic. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the onion and celery just starts to turn translucent.
2. Add 6 cups of vegetable broth, 2 bay leaves, and 10 good cranks of black pepper to the pot. Bring this to a boil.
3. Add 1 cup frozen peas and 1/3 to 1/2 a package of whole-wheat fettuccine, broken in 1 to 2 inch pieces, to the pot. Return the soup to a boil, then lower the heat, cover partially, and simmer 15 minutes.
4. Stir in 2 cups cooked chickpeas, 1 heaping tablespoon minced fresh parsley, 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced, and the juice of one lemon. Heat through. Taste and add a little more salt if needed. Remove bay leaves before serving.

(One quick note about the herbs -- look in your market's fresh herb section for a "Scarborough Mix" -- parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Save the sage for pumpkin soup, use the rest for this, and you only have to buy one package of herbs, which can get quite expensive otherwise! Also, one quick note about the broth -- it's essential you buy good broth, obviously. Some vegetable broths I've bought have been quite thick, whereas others have been thinner. I'd vote for a thinner broth in this recipe, since you're going for a soup consistency, as opposed to a stew.)

Finally, there is a LOT of "stuff" in this soup -- if you prefer more broth to "stuff," use less veggies and chickpeas, or increase the amount of broth. But I'm a "stuff" girl, often leaving the broth at the end of my soup adventures untouched. So it's just the way I like it. I encourage you to make it just the way you like it!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Spicy Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup (and Little Oaties, too!)

Yes . . . it's as good as it sounds. And even hotter. (Chels, this would knock the Jon-O-Meter clear out to Jupiter. I wouldn't even attempt, unless you're going to eat it all!) ;-)

1. Bake 3 large sweet potatoes for 50 minutes at 400. Cool, skin, and cut into chunks. Reserve.
2. Peel and mince a 2-inch piece of ginger. Chop one onion. Cook both in 1 tablespoon oil 5 minutes.
3. Stir in 1 tablespoon red curry paste, and cook 1 minute.
4. Add 15 oz coconut milk and 3 cups vegetable broth. (If you'd like ths soup to serve more as a meal, stir in 1 package extra-firm tofu, squeezed dry and cut into bite-sized pieces, at this point, too.) Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
5. Add potato chunks and simmer 5 minutes.
6. Stir in 3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tsp salt, and a small handfull of cilantro, minced. Serve with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil.

(This is from a copy of "Real Simple" magazine, that I was reading last night while babysitting.)

Now, I have to say, in its original form, this may be a bit too hot for my tastes. (My nose was running while I was eating this earlier.) If you have a more conservative palate like me, I'd consider starting with half as much ginger and curry paste, and moving up from there if you'd like more heat.

I've never really liked spicy food, until very recently. (Like, in the past year or so.) In a way, I see it as a bit of a challenge -- how much can I actually eat before I have to quit because I can no longer feel my lips?

I also made cookies tonight from "Sinfully Vegan" -- a vegan baking book I borrowed from my coworker Joey. They are pretty darn tasty! (I made a quarter-recipe, which was just over 2 dozen small cookies -- enough for me for a week or two! I also made a few minor changes to the recipe, including using whole wheat pastry flour instead of barley flour, and adding chocolate chips and pecans.)

Little Oaties:
Combine 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 2 tablespoons raw sugar, 1 tablespoon applesauce, 1/4 cup canola oil, and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Stir in 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 1 1/2 cups oats, and 1/4 tsp baking soda. Stir in 1/4 cup each chocolate chips and chopped pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes on greased cookie sheets. Gobble.

Saturdays Rock, short delve into philosophy, Friday recap, and rambling.

Saturdays just plain rock. You can get up whenever you want to, stay in your jammies as long as you like, and wander aimlessly through the day if you feel like it.

I have been blog-neglectful lately, and have recently decided to remedy that problem. I have many random thoughts that I need to share.

So, I was babysitting last night and reading one of their copies of the magazine "Real Simple" while Feury was watching Scooby-Doo. I read something interesting in the mag about why, as adults, time seems to fly past so quickly. (I found this especially interesting because this past week seemed to go very fast for me. But I'm not complaining -- again, Saturday rocks.) Someone once told me that as you age, time seems to pass more quickly because each day is a smaller percentage of your overall life, thus it feels shorter. (As a 2-year-old, one month is one twenty-fourth of your whole life, whereas as a 26-year-old, one month is one three-hundred-and-twelfth of your life. Makes sense?) However, psychologists have a different theory, according to this article. Aparently, as adults, our lives become more routinized than when we were children, so our days seem indistinguishable from one another. Thus, time seems to fly, because it's all bleeding together in one blur of same-activity-ness. Interesting, eh? What do you think?

Yesterday was actually a pretty sucky day, for a Friday. Work was more than a little insane, we had an initial conference after school, I was mega-overtired (I slept quite poorly Thursday night,) and then I went babysitting. At least that part was easy . . . (I ate supper with Feury, watched most of a movie while he played video games -- his mom told him he could, played a couple board games with him, read a magazine while he watched Scooby-Doo, and then put him to bed) . . . until Missy paid me and I realized I had nowhere to put the cash she gave me. (Meaning I had forgotten my purse at work. Highly unlike me. I don't think I've ever forgotten my purse anywhere before in my life!) So, at 11 p.m. last night, I drove BACK to West Saint Paul and retrieved my purse from our office. Boy, was I mad at myself. And really stinking tired when I got home.

I should probaby get dressed here pretty soon and head out to run some errands. I desperately need groceries, and two friends have the same birthday this weekend! Need cards and gifts. And I want to make soup, so I better get crackin'.

But I'm awfully hungry. I should probably eat breakfast first. And I borrowed a cookbook from one of my coworkers about vegan baking that is calling to be browsed. We'll have to see what I accomplish, I guess!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

As American As . . .

Apple Pie*

(Makes one 8-inch pie, which is enough for 8 to 12 servings, depending on how big you slice them!)

(This is courtesy of my Betty Crocker cookbook, by the way.)

Purchase a refrigerated piecrust, OR, make your own:
Combine 2 cups flour with 1 teaspoon salt. Cut in 2/3 cup fat of your choice (butter, shortening, lard, or a combination of the two. If you use shortening or butter, add an additional 2 tbsp fat, since both contain some water.) Toss in 4 to 5 tablespoons cold water, just until the dough almost cleans the side of the bowl. Gather dough into a ball and shape into a big, flat, round piece using a rolling pin. Turn out into a pie plate. Flute the edges.

Combine 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, and a dash of salt. Toss with 8 cups sliced peeled apples. Transfer to pie plate and arrange nicely if you care to. (Or do what I did, and just mound them in there as high as you can without the apple mountain toppling over.)

Combine 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Cut in 4 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle/pat onto apple mixture.

Bake pie at 425 degrees for 50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Keep an eye on the crust edges and struesel topping -- if they begin to brown way before the pie is fully cooked, make a tent out of foil for the pie. You may also want to put a cookie sheet on the rack below the pie while it bakes in case the pie overflows. (Easier to scrub a cookie sheet than the floor of your oven, righty-o?) Cool for a little while (like 15 minutes or so,) before slicing and serving.

* Why apple pie today, you ask? Well, we made two with the kids this morning. (An apple peeler-corer-slicer helps a lot when you try to do this with a classroomfull of kiddos.) And by golly, they were absolutely pie-tastic, if I do say so myself. And all the kids' grown-ups were incredibly impressed. And almost every child gobbled up the pie. Happy times in the Willow Room.

** Why the struesel topping instead of the traditional 2-crust pie? Well, to save a little fat per serving, and also because I didn't request enough pie crusts when I filled out our snack list a week ago. Sometimes I'm a moron....

Monday, October 24, 2005


So, over a month ago, I was at IKEA with Ann and Michelle and I saw some girl walk past with an "I heart MPLS" t-shirt. (It looked just like the classic "I heart NY" tee, but obviously replacing the "NY" with "MPLS.") I have been kicking myself ever since, because I didn't stop her and ask her where she got it. And I want one. And I've been searching, google-aided, for a half an hour now, to no avail. Michelle thought you could get them at, but I didn't see them. Grr!

Sooooo . . . my dear friends . . . help! If you happen to know someone who has one of these, or know where I can get one, lemme know! (In a perfect world, I'd find one that was cut for girls. "Unisex" tees just don't work on me -- I'm FAR too short.)

The only t-shirt I want more than an "I heart MPLS" shirt is an 89.3 The Current shirt. Can't buy those. Garn.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Yes indeedy, I went shopping today. And boy did I need it! After my adventures in reforming my diet, getting more exercise, and other excitement since the start of the year, I had lost 20 pounds. (And on someone who's 5 feet 2, 20 pounds is a lot more weight than it sounds like!) And I had finally hit a wall in my frustration with my wardrobe. I was tired, tired, TIRED of EVERYTHING being 2 sizes too big. So I went to Old Navy. And also to Target.

And now I have new cheap jeans for work, a few new long sleeved t-shirts, a couple of shirts to wear "out" (including a pale yellow t-shirt that has a nice retro repro of "Yellow Submarine" on it -- I'll have to wear it to work sometime because the kids love that song!) and a couple of new skirts and dressier sweaters for church and other dress-up type occasions (including my cousin's wedding, which is months away, but in mid March it will still be very cold out, but everything out on the racks will be frilly and summery. And I don't want to freeze.) Man, that was a long run-on sentence. I'm just so excited about my new clothes, I can't stop to punctuate.

And I also need to find a good tailor. My lone suit is far too big, and I have some dress pants and a couple of fantastic wool skirts I just can't bear to part with that are also far too big. Any ideas?

In unrelated news, the heat has yet to turn on in my apartment, and it's more than a bit chilly. I feel like hibernating.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

weirder and weirder and weirder

The latest Oliver shenanigans? I made toasted pumpkin seeds tonight, and he kept trying to eat them! I had to move the cookie sheet off the table and onto the kitchen counter to persuade him to bugger off!

Why did I make toasted pumpkin seeds, you ask? Well, because I cooked a pumpkin, and made . . .


(by the way, I made up this recipe and the amounts are approximate, so bear with me)

1. Sweat one small onion, finely chopped, one small sweet potato, peeled and finely chopped, and 3 or 4 cloves of garlic depending on size, minced, in a good amount of extra virgin olive oil until soft.
2. Add a rounded teaspoonful of vegetable bouillon, a few good shakes each garam masala, curry powder, and ground ginger. Continue cooking for a minute or two to toast the spices.
3. Add about a cup and a half of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and stir in just over 2 cups of cooked pie pumpkin. Continue simmering for about 15 minutes or so.
4. The soup should be very thick at this point, with bits of onion and sweet potato throughout. Puree the soup in 2 batches in your blender with about 3/4 of a cup of half and half, split between the batches. Salt and pepper to taste, then cool and chill if you aren't serving it right away. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds! YUM!

If you don't care for curry powder, omit that and the garam masala, and use pumpkin pie spice instead. The soup would also be good with a bunch of slivered fresh sage sauteed at the beginning with the onion, but the sage would have fought with the curry, so I left sage out. This time.

And I have a bunch of cooked pumpkin left yet, so I plan on making mini pumpkin pies SANS crust sometime soon. (AKA, pumpkin custards.) Perhaps yet tonight. We'll see how ambitious I'm feeling.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


The spam commenters have found a way in. Grrr. But I have also found a way to delete comments. So I'll change my commenting preferences back to "anyone can comment." Comment away, friends! (Stay away, spammers!)

Holy Smoking Spatulas, Batman!

All right, well, the planets are in alignment, the food gods are smiling on me, and multiple factors are influencing what is turning out to be a weekend of cooking and baking. (It is finally NOT 90 degrees outside and I can turn on the oven without baking myself. I'm sick of eating hummus and cheese and crackers for dinner. (Although those were great summer foods!) I got paid yesterday and was thus able to make a voyage to the Wedge for raw materials. (I walked. You should have seen me, hoofing it back with a backpack and two tote bags loaded to the gills, in the light drizzle this morning. I got pitying stares from passersby. Oh well.) And I have nothing to do this weekend . . . I repeat . . . NOTHING! Wahoo!) So, I'm cooking. And baking. And I will eat well all week. I have a big plan, and I'm sharing the recipes with you! Here goes.

BASIC PIZZA WITH TOMATOES AND ARTICHOKE HEARTS (one 12-inch pizza, which is 4 generous servings)
~ For the crust, combine 1 cup bread flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, and 1/4 tsp salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl or measuring cup or something, combine 1/2 cup very warm water (110 to 115 degrees Farenheight,) 1/2 tbsp honey or raw sugar, and 1 3/4 tsp active dry yeast. Stir, then allow the yeast mixture to sit for a few minutes until it gets nice and foamy. Add the yeast mixture to the flours, and stir together with your fingers until it all pulls together. (You may not use all of the flour.) Turn your dough out onto the counter and knead for about 5 minutes, or until it feels smooth. Place the dough ball in an oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap that you've oiled or sprayed with cooking spray. Let it rise in a warm place until double, 30 minutes or longer.
~ While the crust is rising, prepare your toppings. (SEASONED OLIVE OIL) First, smash a big clove of garlic and place in a mini saucepot. Add a couple of glugs of extra virgin olive oil and a bunch of dried Italian seasoning. Bring this to a high simmer, then remove it from the heat and let the oil absorb the flavors while you prepare the rest of the toppings. Strain before using. (CHEESE) Shred about 2 cups part-skim mozzarella and about 1/2 a cup of parmigianno-reggiano. Toss to combine and reserve. (ARTICHOKES) Open a can of artichoke hearts and drain. Cut each into quarters, and place on about 3 paper towels to further drain. I wrapped them up lightly in the paper towels and flipped them upside down partway through the draining process. (TOMATOES) Open a can of diced tomatoes, and drain and rinse well. Do the paper towel thing with these guys, too.
~ After the crust has risen, punch it down and lightly knead it for a couple of minutes. Work it out into a 12-inch circle and place on a greased pizza pan that has also been dusted with semolina flour. Top the crust with the oil, half the cheese, the tomatoes, artichokes, and the rest of the cheese. Let it rest for about 5 minutes before baking at 475 until lightly browned and crisp, about 10 minutes or so. Let the pizza rest for 5 minutes before cutting to prevent cheese run-off.


~ Combine 1 cup yellow cornmeal, 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, 4 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt in a medium bowl.
~ Make a well in the center and add 1 cup milk, 1 egg, 1/4 cup oil, and 1 tbsp honey. Stir together until just moistened.
~ Fill greased muffin tins about 3/4 full and bake at 425 for about 12 minutes, or until light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

go with . . .

BLACK BEAN CHILI (This is a Catherine Classic, and I may have shared the recipe with you previously. I apologize if this is a repeat!) (8 or more servings)
Combine the following in a Crock Pot and cook on low for 8 hours:
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed, or a comparable amount of beans that you've soaked, drained, and cooked
30 oz can diced tomatoes with liquid
14 1/2 oz vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels (or more if you like a lot of corn!)
1 large or 2 medium green peppers, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)
4 green onions, sliced
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
2 to 3 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin


FALAFEL (4 servings)
Combine in a food processor (or alternately, smash the chickpeas with a fork and stir everything until well blended -- this is what I do because I don't own a food processor!):
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
15 oz canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or alternately, 2 cups cooked chickpeas you did yourself)
Shape the mixture into 16 small patties. Cook patties in 1 tbsp olive oil about 5 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. Serve in pita halves with lettuce leaves, tomato slices, and YOGURT SAUCE (Combine until smooth: 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp tahini, and 1 clove garlic, minced.)

and a nice side for these sandwiches is . . .

Combine 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 2 tbsp brown sugar (or less,) and a dash of cinnamon until smooth. Toss this dressing with 3 cups of red grapes, halved, and 3 tablespoons of chopped walnuts.


20 oz crushed pineapple or pineapple chunks in juice (drain and reserve 1/4 cup juice)
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
14 oz extra-firm water-packed tofu, rinsed, patted dry, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp canola oil, divided
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 by 2 inch strips
1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1/2 by 2 inch strips
1. Combine pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, and sugar until smooth. Marinade tofu in 3 tbsp sauce up to 30 minutes. Add cornstarch to remaining sauce and whisk until smooth.
2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet. Transfer tofu to pan and cook until golden brown, about 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from pan and keep warm.
3. Add remaining oil to pan. Add garlic and ginger and cook about 30 seconds. Add peppers and cook 2 to 3 minutes or just until tender. Add sauce and cook, stirring until thickened, about 30 seconds. Add tofu and pineapple chunks and heat through.
(I plan on serving this with brown rice and a side of steamed broccoli for dinner Monday night.)



1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup natural granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened good-quality cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup vanilla organic low-fat yogurt or soy yogurt
1/4 cup low-fat milk, rice milk, or soymilk
2 tablespoons light vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, preferably cane-juice sweetened

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir together.Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and pour in the yogurt, milk, oil, and vanilla. Stir until thoroughly combined, then stir in the chocolate chips.
3. Pour into a lightly oiled 9- by 9-inch baking pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sides of the cake begin to pull away from the pan, and a knife inserted in the middle tests clean.
4. Let cool in the pan until just warm or room temperature, then cut into squares to serve.


Well, off to do dishes before I can keep cooking. :)

Friday, September 16, 2005

even weirder

The latest thing Oliver likes to lick? Envelope glue. I can't leave an envelope lying around, or there's no glue left by the time I'm ready to seal it and sent it on its way!

Cats are weird. Still.

Monday, September 12, 2005

happiness is . . . chocolate chip cookies!

If any of you know the Broadway musical "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown," you'll get my reference in the title. If not, it's still pertinent.

I never posted my recipe for healthfully updated chocolate chip cookies the other day, because I wasn't completely sure about them. I've been munching on them the past few days, and have decided I LOVE them. So, I'm sharing. (The recipe, that is. The cookies are MINE!) For some odd reason, they are especially tasty chilled. This recipe makes about 30 small cookies. (Half what a standard cookie recipe makes. I can't eat a whole batch of cookies by myself, however much I might want to.) These are higher in fiber/whole grain, lower in fat, and lower in sugar than a traditional CCC, but taste pretty damn fabulous. Here goes:

2 tablespoons butter (you could also use margarine)
1/3 cup natural sugar/raw sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
6 tablespoons low fat vanilla yogurt (or soy yogurt)
2 1/2 teaspoons egg replacer (found in the natural foods aisle -- you could use 2 egg whites instead, but your dough may be a bit runnier)
1 cup quick cooking oatmeal
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup grain-sweetened chocolate chips (or regular chocolate chips)

1. Cream together the butter and sugar. Stir in the vanilla, yogurt, and egg replacer.
2. Stir in the oats, flour, salt, and soda. Gently stir in chips.
3. Drop by rounded teaspoon fulls onto ungreased cookie sheets. (These cookies don't spread much, so feel free to jam them together on the baking sheets to speed things up. You may also want to squash them flat a bit, otherwise you'll have little round balls instead of cookie-looking things.) Bake 8 to 10 minutes at 350. Cool.

Enjoy, my friends.

You know, I post all of these crazy recipes up here, but I never hear back from you all as to whether you've tried any of these yourselves! I'd love your feedback, especially since a lot of this baking/cooking is experimental and in the early stages of development. (And if you don't want to make a whole batch of cookies and live nearby, I might be persuaded to share one, just to receive feedback. Just one, though!)

cats are weird

Oliver seems to like to lick the condensation off the outside of cold pop cans. He's currently going to town on my Diet Coke.

I wonder if it's some sort of weird texture thing, or he just likes the ice-cold driplets of moisture?

Regardless, cats are weird.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Phooey. I just lost a whole post.

The succinct version: I had to change my comments preferences to "members only" because of SPAM commenting. (I hate SPAM in both its electronic and foodstuff forms.) I will still, however, love to hear from you all! You can easily set up a blogger account, even if you don't want to blog. I encourage you to do so, and leave me comments!!

I wrote this whole long thing about why I was so tired today (combination of very late night last night and early babysitting job this morning,) and also a rant/rave on grain sweetened chocolate chips. I don't have the energy to write them again. Sorry!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I'm showing Dan how to blog

We're thinking about creating a Willow Room blog at school, so I'm showing Dan how to use Blogger. I'd be showing Sarah, too, but she's home sick today.

3 more days before the children come . . . must go make playdough!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

pink and green pilaf

This makes about 3 "side" servings, or 2 main course servings. You could increase the amount of green peas if you want more protein in the thing, too!

1. Plop a little olive oil in a medium saucepot and heat on medium heat. Add most of a green pepper, finely chopped, half a medium onion, finely chopped, freshly minced garlic if you have it (or use garlic powder like I did -- tragedy! I have been out of fresh garlic for almost a week now, and am slowly becoming culinarily depressed.) Saute this a few minutes just until the veg start to turn translucent.
2. Add half a cup of whole wheat couscous (uncooked) to the pot. Stir and cook a few minutes, until the couscous is lightly toasted.
3. Stir in half a cup of frozen green peas, and nearly a cup of liquid (I used tomato juice I had drained out of a can of diced tomatoes last week, plus enough water to equal about 7 ounces,) the juice of one lemon, and salt (if your liquid is not salted.)
4. Bring this all to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer 2 minutes. Remove the pilaf from the heat and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff the pilaf with a fork before serving. (I suggest garnishing the pilaf with a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Yum.)

Now obviously, if you use some other sort of liquid like broth instead of the tomato juice, your pilaf will not be pink. So you'll have to come up with your own catchy name, I guess!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

poor timing for cooking projects

Aw, what was I thinking? I just spent half an hour washing a sinkfull of dishes, and what did I think when the kitchen was clean? "Hooray! Room to cook something!" That feeling, coupled with a lack of something interesting to take for lunch tomorrow, prompted a quick pasta salad throw-together of available ingredients. With very happy results. Here goes:

1. Cook some small shaped whole grain pasta in salted water until tender. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Shake it about for a bit to remove most of the excess water.
2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl (if you have one with a lid, even better -- no transport needed to a plastic container when you're through mixing up the salad!) make a simple vinaigrette: few good shakes of red wine vinegar, juice of one lemon, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, fresh garlic if you have it (which I didn't -- crisis! -- I used garlic powder instead,) and extra virgin olive oil. Whisk well to combine.
3. Add the pasta with half a large cucumber, sliced and quartered, a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes (well drained,) a can of quartered artichoke hearts (again, well drained,) about a cup of cooked white beans, and 3 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled roughly with your fingers. Use a spatula to toss it all together -- and a magic thing happens! The goat cheese just sort of falls apart (I don't quite know why,) and creates this delicious, creamy sauce. I tasted a small bite . . . heaven!

I love it when food magic happens. Off to do the dishes (again!)

P.S. I made pancakes and a fantabulous blueberry sauce to go over them last night! Sauce was VERY easy: plop 1 small bag of frozen blueberries into a saucepot. Add a couple good sized squirts of honey, a shake of cinnamon, and the juice of half a lemon. Bring to a high simmer. Spoon out some of the blueberry liquid (maybe a half cup?) into a small dish and cool slightly. Combine this liquid with about 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, then stir the cornstarch mixture back into the pot. Bring the blueberries to a boil and cook until the sauce thickens up. Dump a big spoonful over pancakes (even better when you put a layer of peanut butter in-between them!) and dig in! (This might also make a nice dessert/ice cream sauce -- angel food cake, pound cake, shortcakes, it would even be great mixed in with some vanilla yogurt and granola!)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

I heart tofu today

I just made the most amazing, delicious, and possibly irreplicable tofu dish for dinner that I am going to attempt to describe here. Be patient -- it's quite a culinary story.

First, I created a marinade: rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, a few smashed cloves of garlic, a thumb-sized piece of smashed up ginger, and some red pepper flakes. I then cubed up half a package of extra firm tofu, lightly squeezed it dry between paper towels, and set it to soak for about 20 minutes in the marinade.

Then, in my cold cast iron fry pan, I poured a good amount of peanut oil. I added a few additional cloves of garlic, minced, another thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and minced, about half a small onion, minced, and a big handfull of "snowflake coconut."

Next, I turned on the heat to about medium. (My stove gets quite hot quite quickly -- you may need to adjust the heat accordingly. You want the onion/garlic/ginger stuff to lightly brown, but not too quickly.) When the onions are just turning soft, add the tofu (just the cubes -- not the marinade.) I cooked the tofu, stirring once or twice, until it was nice and brown. Then I sprinkled over a generous amount of sesame seeds, and added about a half teaspoon of red curry paste. Stir this about until the sesame seeds toast nicely. Then I added two big spoonfulls of peanut butter and some leftover cooked whole wheat linguine. I stirred this around until the peanut butter was all melty and everything stuck together in a big mess. (!) I added what looked like a nice amount of salt. Then I poured in enough water to "deglaze" the pan and added a couple of big handfulls of spinach. (I would have prefered to use veg broth, but alas, I was out.) I cooked it all down until the spinach was wilted and it had a very thick, almost paste-like sauce. I am now devouring this peanut-coconut-spice covered tofu noodle concoction with a side of steamed broccoli. Mmm........!

Saturday, August 20, 2005


After the "healthy cookie" incident, I decided to try my hand again at updating/creating a healthy (or less bad for you) baked good. Adventures in brownieland began.

1/2 cup natural/raw sugar
1/2 cup baking cocoa
10 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
pinch salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Stir in:
1/2 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt (soy yogurt could be used if you'd prefer)
2 tablespoons low-fat milk (soy milk could also be used)
1 tbsp light oil (safflower, canola, whatever)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix the ingredients well and pour into a greased 9 inch square pan. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Makes 16 brownies (or less, if you cut them larger.)

Now, the "healthy cookies" were too much of a good thing -- I tried to do too many healthy things with that recipe. I have since read up on healthier baking, discovered ground flaxseeds as an egg replacement and whole wheat pastry flour, and thus these brownies are . . . FABULOUS. Good and chocolatey, not too sweet but plenty sweet enough to feel like a dessert, with a slightly grainy or "nutty" texture from the flax. They would be excellent with a half cup of chocolate chips stirred into the batter before baking, as well. :) Or dried cherries. Or nuts. Or 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract instead of the vanilla. Or 1/2 cup white chocolate chips. Or 1/2 cup peanut butter chips. Better get ready to eat a lot of brownies!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

TWO quotes for today

And miraculously, they are both about food :)

"Food is not a chore; it's a gift." (Anna Thomas, from "The New Vegetarian Epicure")

"Life, she thought, was never so simple as when she started to cook." (from the novel "How to Cook a Tart" by Nina Killham)

In other slightly related news, I picked up four zebra tomatoes at the Wedge the other day, and chopped two of them up just now for a snack (with some toasted bread cubes, olive oil, salt, and pepper.) Frankly, they aren't that great. I may have jumped the gun a bit -- I'll wait a few more days before I attack the other two. (They are slightly crunchy and WAY acidic -- and my favorite part about zebra tomatoes is usually their sugar sweetness. Hmm . . . ??)

Oh -- and I tried pan-frying a serving's worth of tofu nuggets today . . . I'll just say I prefer them baked. So not a dish to try when it's a million degrees out . . .

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

soy I went to the co-op . . .

And bought a TON of yummy looking food, including a couple packets of tofu. So, I made one of the recipes from that cookbook I was talking about. (You can find more of her recipes on Here it is:

Makes: 4 to 6 kid-sized servings
These breaded nuggets become firm and chewy as they bake. Kids enjoy dipping them into their favorite sauce.
16-ounce tub firm or extra firm tofu
3 tablespoons wheat germ
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
Marinara or barbecue sauce (warmed), or ketchup

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the tofu into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Blot well between clean tea-towels or several layers of paper towel, then cut into 3/4-inch dice. Combine the wheat germ, cornmeal, and seasoned salt in a mixing bowl. Add the tofu chunks and stir gently until evenly coated.
Arrange the tofu on a lightly oiled non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice during this time, or until golden and firm. Serve at once with sauce of your choice for dipping or topping.

(I also made sweet potato oven fries which, when dipped in ketchup, I cannot distinguish from white potato fries. Yum!) So, the nuggets are a little . . . odd. Crispy outside, and chewy inside -- almost like a cheese texture. They remind me more of mozzarella sticks than chicken nuggets. But, I like them and will make them again! (Tofu is definitely an acquired taste -- one which I plan to acquire!)

Well, there appears to be a thunderstorm brewing outside, so I'm going to log off here and shut down the computer.

just not that

So I just finished reading the book "He's Just Not That Into You." What a hilarious read! (I have been wanting to read this book for ages, and it far surpassed my high expectations!) It was funny, to the point, and incredibly truthful -- an all-around good combination, if you ask me! Although I'm not in a relationship or anything right now, (or really dating for that matter -- gah!) it was nice to have a bit of a wake-up call. Honestly, I don't think I've made many of the mistakes in the book, nor do I think I'd make them in the future, but who knows? I think the main thing I took away from the book is . . . (drumroll please . . . ) GUYS MEAN WHAT THEY SAY AND NOTHING MORE! Greg, one of the authors, keeps talking about how uncomplicated guys are -- they say what they mean, and that's it. Women (myself included) make the mistake at times of reading more into what guys say (well, reading more into what everyone says, for that matter,) than is actually there. HA!

Three other pearls of wisdom: if a guy likes you he'll let you know (novel idea, eh?), guys are lazy and will stick around in a sucky relationship rather than break it off, acting like a jerk to try to get you to break it off, AND, have faith! (Ann always amazes me in this area -- she has faith in spades, and plenty to share around if need be!)

So, the moral of the story is, I liked the book. Everyone should read it, even if you're not single, because it's just so darn funny!

Well, it's nearly eleven, and my plan for today is to take a shower and go grocery shopping. Then, who knows? Man, I love vacation!

Monday, August 08, 2005

I went to the dentist today . . .

. . . and I have a cavity. The first cavity of my life! My dentist was very sad to tell me this news, since up until now I have had what he called "perfect teeth." I have to go back on Thursday and have it filled. Bah!

Otherwise, today was a fine day. I went to the library and checked out eleven books, (4 cookbooks, 2 nonfiction books, and 5 novels) and have been parusing Nava Atlas's "The Vegetarian Family Cookbook" for most of the rest of the afternoon. (I also made a tuna sandwich. Reading cookbooks always makes me hungry!) It's a really fabulous cookbook -- offers lots of ideas for every day vegetarian recipes for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks, gives pretty complete nutritional information for all of the recipes, offers ideas for adapting recipes to make them vegan, and also offers ideas for getting picky eaters (in her cookbook she talks mostly about kids, but I think many adults could be considered "picky," too, and would need a little help adapting to a more vegetarian lifestyle!) to eat veggies, tofu, and other healthy veg fare. (Chelsea, I keep thinking of Jon when I stumble upon the "picky eaters" sections of most of the recipes!) Anyhow, it's a fantastic book, whether you are vegetarian or not, and whether you have a family or not. I think most of us could use a few tips to help incorporate more healthy foods into our diets!

The big thing for me in this cookbook was learning how to work with tofu. I may have to buy a copy of this cookbook in the not so distant future!

Should I give you my recipe for tuna salad? It's pretty basic, but pretty good. Here goes:

(For 2 servings):
1 can water-pack tuna, drained (I give the "tuna juice" to the kit-cat and he gobbles it up)
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced very fine
1 to 2 tablespoons additional chopped veggies (I like celery and bell pepper, and carrot is also good)
1 tablespoon chopped slivered almonds
salt and pepper to taste
minced fresh herbs if you have them around (parsley and basil are both nice)
squeeze of fresh lemon juice (if you have half a lemon hanging about)
1 rounded tablespoonfull low fat mayo (I hear soy mayo is actually quite good, and I may try it in the future!)

Mix it all up and stuff it into a pita, half a hollowed-out tomato, make a tuna melt, or enjoy it "old school" -- on bread with lettuce.

This is completely random, but I have read you are supposed to limit your intake of albacore tuna (the yummy, white tuna,) and if you are pregnant you aren't supposed to eat it at all. I guess since the kind of fish that that tuna comes from is so much larger than regular tunas, it has a much higher concentration of pollutants and gunk we're not supposed to ingest if we can help it. So, although it doesn't taste nearly as good, I buy regular old "light" tuna now. But I do miss the gorgeous albacore!

Happy Monday, folks!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

18 days left and I'm exhausted already!

So today I helped Ann move a bunch of stuff into her new apartment. It's friggin' hot on top of that, so I'm all worn out right now. In a few minutes, I might just plonk down on the couch with dinner and a movie (or a book!) for the rest of the evening.

ALSO, Ann and I went to Target and I picked up some new bedding (using some of the money from my property tax return that will be arriving very shortly!) Here's a link if you'd like to see what it looks like! (The colors are much more vibrant in person, and it all goes nicely with the green walls in my bedroom.) Ann helped me think ahead, too -- I got a full sized duvet cover and duvet, since I plan on purchasing a full sized bed sometime in the not so distant future, and two sets of full sized sheets that match, which I will just store until then. (I also got a set of matching twin-sized sheets, and the sheet sets were only ten bucks apiece! Awesome. And they are those cozy jersey sheets, too!) So I will just be drowning in my bed for a while until I save up for a new mattress set. (There's this really great one at IKEA I've been eyeing . . . it's a wooden base spring mattress with legs that screw into the bottom -- very minimalistic, and very cool looking! And also very CHEAP! Another added bonus.) The mattress will have to wait for quite some time, however!

So, that's about all of the excitement I've had for today. I'm ready to be done with all of this art fair nonsense -- parking is beyond worse than usual, and there are random folks wandering around aimlessly and dashing out in front of oncoming cars. GRR! Only a couple more hours.

Off to pull my new bedding out of the dryer and make my new and improved bed! Yay!

Oh -- and I forgot to mention the coolest thing about the duvet cover and shams -- they have SNAPS! No buttons or silly flap pockets to speak of. Very cool surprise when I opened the package.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

I'm melting . . .

Too much sun today! The art fair was PACKED, (Tony and I discovered going early doesn't beat the crowds AT ALL, and the "scenery" is significantly less fabulous early in the morning,) and then I ran around and played soccer with the kids at Sumner's birthday party. Wee! At least there was ice cream, and it was really good to see the kids (and their parents), too!

Now I know I've brought this up before, but I'm SO thankful for my air conditioner right now!

I talked to my Dad today and he may be shipping me a (nearly full sized) keyboard and my mom's guitar. Crazy! (Well, basically because we decided it would be cheaper for him to ship them to me than for me to drive back to Milwaukee and pick them up!)

Anyhow, off to eat dinner and shower before going to the show tonight.

Isn't it awful when you have to do laundry in order to have sort of nice clothes to wear out? I'm just glad I figured out my laundry situation with enough time to do something about it, or I would be wearing a sundress to the Cabooze. HA!

18 and a half days left of vacation . . . !!!!!

nineteen days left!

So, last night I ended up watching a movie because I was so tired I couldn't think about what else I might want to do. "The Color Purple" was fantastic! I have been wanting to read the book for ages, but struggled with the fact that it was written in nonstandard English. (I have started it probably half a dozen times and put it down within the first few pages.) Well, now that I've seen the movie and thought it was great, I'll have to try again with the book.

Today, I have lots of things to do! Tony and I are going art-fairing this morning, and then I have a former student's birthday party to attend! (It's a family party so it will be more low-key than a kid birthday party, and his mom was pretty specific about no presents. I like that!) Then this evening, Ann and I are going to see Tim Mahoney and Epic Hero at the Cabooze. Hooray!

I'm still sort of in denial about how much time off I have here. I still feel like I have to go back to work in a couple of days! (Well, technically I do have to go into work on Monday because I forgot my lunch and also a class list, since I need to start calling families for initial conferences.) But, I have to head down that direction anyway on Monday, so it's not really a big deal.

Friday, August 05, 2005

vacation at last!

Indeed, it is time for vacation. Nineteen days of vacation, to be exact! I'm so excited, but so tired, that I don't know what to do with myself! Hooray for time off!

I will probably be posting furiously over the next nineteen days, because I'll probably be cooking like crazy and also (after a few days) bored out of my mind so I'll need something to do.

For those of you NOT approaching nineteen days of vacation, enjoy your weekends. I'll try not to gloat too much!

(Just in case I didn't mention it enough earlier, I have nineteen days off. Nineteen days in a row!)


Wednesday, August 03, 2005


You know, I've received two emails this week (one from Lauren, one from my mom,) saying they tried to post comments to my blog but were unsuccessful. I find this strange. If any of you have a free moment and could try to comment, that would be great! (Let me know if you can't comment via email and I'll have to contact blogger.) Thanks for your help!

P.S. I mailed out my very last year end report today (thanks to helpful folks at work for editing them for me!) and we only have one more day of summer camp. Two more work days and then . . . VACATION!!! WAHOOO!

Sunday, July 31, 2005



(Well, they have been done for quite some time, but this post mysteriously disappeared, so I decided to repost it. Isn't that funny???)

lucy in the pie with diamonds

Har, har, har. Sometimes I crack even myself up. :)

So, I made a lemon merengue pie this afternoon. Never done that before, and it was actually pretty easy! (It's for a coworker's birthday, which is tomorrow.) A nice challenge for today.

I also went to see Jess, one of my coworkers, at her shiatsu student clinic. I've never had a shiatsu or massage before, and it was great! I feel all wobbly and a bit loopy. Jess said that it's normal to feel a little out of it, since bodywork is pretty intensive and gets all of your muscles to squeeze out all the icky junk they have collected. (Thus, I'm slamming water to flush out the icky stuff.) We'll see how this helps the cyatic back crap I've had off and on the last couple of years. I also need to get better about staying on top of doing some yoga every now and then! And I'm also aparently supposed to lay off the caffeine. (I have cut WAY back in the last few years, but I guess I could still be a little better about it.)

Let's see, otherwise, it's been a nice, productive, busy weekend. Christine and I hung out on Friday night -- we ran errands. Wah-hoo! Then yesterday, I got a TON of stuff done around the apartment before I went babysitting. (I also got some paperwork done after the boys went to bed, but I still have 3 year end reports left to write. Bah!) This weekend passed very quickly, but my productivity was worth it. :)

Off to finish my year end reports. I mean it this time. I'll post again when I complete them, I promise!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

miss smartypants

couldn't help it . . .

My IQ Is 120

My Logical Intelligence is Exceptional
My Verbal Intelligence is Genius
My Mathematical Intelligence is Exceptional
My General Knowledge is Above Average

Sunday, July 24, 2005

healthy cookies

Yes, I have developed a cookie recipe that I dare call "healthy." Now, I will preface the recipe with a few disclaimers: they are not that sweet, are a very dark, unusual color, and have more of a brownie-like texture, as opposed to a more dense cookie-like texture. However, if you like molasses spice cookies, are cutting back on sugar, and are trying to eat more whole grains, you might just want to try these! Here goes:

Stir together:
1 cup canola or other light vegetable oil
1 cup molasses (use at least half a cup of blackstrap molasses for added nutritional benefits and lower sugar content)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Sift together, then stir into above:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch ground cloves

Stir in:
2 cups oats

Let the batter rest for a few minutes so the oats and whole wheat flour can absorb the liquid. Scoop out onto cookie sheets and bake for 7 to 10 minutes at 375.

I may experiment in the future with adding other nutritional powerhouses such as wheat germ, nuts, and ground flaxseed, but for now, enjoy them as they are!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Janelle rocked my world!

Why, you ask? Well, because over a year ago, she sold me her window air conditioner and came over to help me install it! Now, given the current weather situation, I don't think I'd be surviving otherwise. It's bad enough being outside in 90 degree heat with children for days on end, but to have to come home to it too, I don't know how some people do it!

One of the children said today, "why do we have to go outside? It's so HOT." I felt for her. I encouraged her to wear a hat and sunglasses, which she was not interested in doing, so she just hung out in the shade instead. The kiddies have really been troopers, however. We've discovered some tricks to keeping them cool(er) -- sprinklers, bare feet and a running hose in the sandbox, shade, lots and lots and lots of water, hats and sunglasses, letting them run around in their underwear or swimsuits, and hosing them down seem to all help somewhat. We still don't make it much longer than an hour each day. I miss the beautiful 70s we had earlier this week -- we had some wonderful, glorious hikes to the prairie with butterfly nets. Sigh. I hope the heat will break soon.

I do have to say that, despite wearing a hat and sunglasses and SPF 45 constantly, I have a nice tan. One of the perks of being a preschool teacher, I guess.

Man, my feet are really dirty. Probably because I ran around barefoot most of the day. (Both outdoors and in the classroom.) It's just so stinking HOT.

Could I complain about the heat a little longer? I could, but I won't. I'm going to go eat supper instead.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I'm at work!

Yes, indeed, I am at work. I'm feeling antisocial today, so I'm eating lunch in my classroom in the quiet. (Well, near quiet -- I'm listening to the air condidioning vent squeak slightly, but that's about it.) I may have to start doing this more often -- it's very restful.

I haven't blogged in a while, and I'm not sure why! (Well, it probably has to do with the fact that I haven't been cooking much/at all because of the heat and because I've been sick, so I haven't had any recipes to post, and I haven't been doing much because I've been sick!)

I can add these comments, though!

I read the entire Harry Potter book on Saturday. It was fantastic. Full of surprises and action, and Chelsea's read the whole thing to, thank goodness, so I had someone to talk about it with last night! Hooray for Chelsea!

I saw "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" on Sunday and it was FABULOUS! People actually applauded after the movie finished. Very cool.

I'm learning the song "Big Rock Candy Mountain." (We changed some of the lyrics so it is child-friendly.) Dan is awesome.

I need a vacation. I'm getting very tired.

Well, that's it for today, I guess!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

curried brown rice and lentils

I don't know whether you can legitimately make a curry in the crock pot, but I'm testing it out.

Ingredients (for 1 1/2 quart crock pot -- double to use a larger size)

1/2 cup dry lentils
1/2 cup uncooked brown basmati rice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 small yellow pepper, chopped
1 small apple, chopped
1 handfull raisins
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup water
curry powder to taste
garam masala to taste
ground ginger to taste (or alternately, use some minced fresh ginger)
chili flakes to taste
salt to taste
extra virgin olive oil (a few tablespoons)
Cook on low or high until the rice and lentils are tender and the liquid is nearly absorbed.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

shame on me . . .

Yes, I have been blog-neglectful. I fully admit this. Why, you ask? Well, I have been so STINKING BUSY! Sometimes I love being busy, but most of the time I just get worn out and forget to do things like blog and wash dishes. Gah.

So, let's see what I've been doing . . . well, summer camp started and that sucked the life-force out of me the first week. Then, 4th of July weekend was crazy fun. Thursday night, Ann and I discovered a wonderful restaurant in my neighborhood -- Salsa a la Salsa. It's on about 14th and Nicollet, tasty, and relatively inexpensive! Fantastic veggie tacos. Mmmm. Then, Friday night Ann and I hung out again -- we went to the grocery store (wah-hoo?) and then hung out at her house and watched cooking shows she had TiVoed for me. Saturday, we went to taste of MN and saw Epic Hero and the Honeydogs perform, (we also had dinner at Cosetta's -- yum!) then went and hung out with Michelle, watched Fox news, and made fun of all the drama the newscasters tried to create. Sunday was supposed to be a quiet, calm day, but Ann called me at about 6:30 and strongly encouraged me to come over to Nye's and watch Epic Hero perform (again. Yes. Twice in one weekend! Feast or famine with that band.) So, I went. They were great, but the best part of the evening came later. After 10:00 the music moved into the basement at Nye's (city noise ordinances and all,) so we got to see Tim Mahoney do a mini-set in what felt like someone's parents' basement -- you know, bad carpet, low ceilings, crappy lighting, bar in the corner. People were just standing and sitting around with their beers, Tim did a lot of requests/covers, and played one of my all-time favorite U2 songs: "MLK." It was a little surreal, but what a night! Monday, I read all afternoon, then we aimed for Nicollet Island to see Shakespeare in the Park, then stick around for the fireworks. But . . . no Shakespeare in the Park! Very odd. So I camped out with Ann's and my chairs while she went home to get a book (I had brought a book with me.) Two hours later, she and Michelle arrived. (I was more than a little worried at that point!) Anyhow, the fireworks were a little lackluster, I thought. THEN, after working all day Tuesday, Ann, Michelle, and two of Michelle's friends went to Psycho Suzi's for her birthday. We ordered tater tots as an appetizer. :) (We also had pizza. Very, very tasty pizza. And they make a fine cuppa joe, too.) Last night, I watched a movie and went to bed at 9:00. And I will be going to bed similarly early tonight as well. ;-) I need to regain my strength -- I have four more year-end reports to write, and I WANT to finish them soon! Hopefully this weekend -- other than a party at Michelle's friend's house, I don't have much to do.

I recently finished "Angels and Demons" by Dan Brown. The story was fantastic and very exciting, but his writing style bugs me. I still haven't read "The DaVinci Code." I think I'm going to read the latest Sue Monk Kidd first.

I will now share two awesome recipes I've made up as of late.

Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Lightly brush a number of your favorite brand of corn tortillas with olive oil, or alternately, spray with cooking spray. Cut into wedges. Arrange wedges on cookie sheet(s) and sprinkle with kosher salt. (Alternately, you could sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar for dessert wedges. Would be mighty tasty with vanilla ice cream, methinks.)
3. Bake chips for about 5 minutes or until they are light golden brown. Cool chips slightly (they will crisp up more as they cool,) and then dig into a big jar of Muir Glen salsa. Mmmmm......

Marinated Veg Salad
1. Smash up a few cloves of garlic. Simmer in about a quarter cup of extra-virgin olive oil for a few minutes. Cool. Remove garlic and mince.
2. Roast and peel a red pepper. Roughly chop half an onion and roast this, too.
3. Combine the garlic with salt and pepper to taste, a handfull of basil leaves, minced, the juice of half a large lemon, and couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Whisk in the olive oil you simmered the garlic in.
4. Toss the dressing with the roasted red pepper and onion, a cucumber, seeded and sliced, a green pepper, chopped, a can of chopped tomatoes, drained, and a can of quartered artichoke hearts, drained.
5. Allow the salad to sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving.
(You could obviously make this with whatever veggies you have on hand, but this combo was particularly tasty!)

I hope that the second one will help artichokes become your new best friend. Because they certainly are mine.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

easier than anything vegan black beans

Although this recipe requires some "special" kitchen ware, it's so stinking easy . . . and cheap, too!

1 cup dry black beans
1 small onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
salt, chili powder, and cumin to taste

1. Rinse the black beans, searching for any shrivelley looking ones or ones that might be something other than a bean. (Throw the icky ones away, obviously. Or better yet . . . compost them!) Place the (good) beans in a small bowl, cover with water, and let soak in the fridge overnight.
2. Drain the beans and rinse again. Place the beans, onion, green pepper, and garlic in a small (1 1/2 quart) crock pot. Pour in enough water until it is 1 inch from the top of the pot. Cover. Plug in the crock pot and go to work.
3. Uncover the beans. Skim foam from the surface. Add salt, chili powder, and cumin to taste. (Now, in all of my reading of beans and legumes when I went pseudo-vegetarian, you are NOT supposed to salt beans before they cook. It causes the skins to break down, and you get a mushy mess instead of little pods of fluffy goodness.) Serve in tortillas, as a dip for chips, with brown rice, or smash them up and use as refried beans. You could also stir in a can of corn and a can of diced tomatoes for a quick black bean chili.

Oh, and you don't have to use black beans. You could use pinto instead, or vary your seasonings to a more Italian palate and use great northern or some other kind of white bean. (Ah . . . onion, garlic, and bell pepper to start, and finish with salt, lemon, and fresh slivered basil! Tasty . . . !!) Those would be fantabulous tossed with sauteed veggies, whole wheat pasta, and some extra virgin olive oil.

Oh, the possibilities.

Enjoy, mes amis!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

busy, busy, busy

Oh, this is hilarious! I just wrote a nice, fat blog in here, including links, and it mysteriously disappeared. Huh.

ANYHOW, to start over, I've been busy, which is why I haven't posted in a while. Finishing up the end of the school year, preparing for summer school, and a visit with Marie took up my time over the last week. Also, yesterday, I went to Waseca to visit Chelsea and Olivia. We had such a fun day! We just hung out and went for a walk and played Scrabble.

Here's the link to my homepage, where you can see photos of the classroom rearrangement. And I'll post other stuff there from time to time as well.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Willow Room Re-Do Part 1 and SHOUT OUT!

Whew . . . . . . . today was a long, busy day! Natalie and Don have left the Willow Room for the Oak Room for the summer, and the Willow Room is in a shambles. Jen (my new assistant) and I busted our butts to begin making sense of the madness today, and it's already starting to look pretty good. I will try and post some pictures of the finished product when I get a chance. (I'll post to my .mac website, since I don't think blogger's too keen on pictures and such.) However, we were so busy working, I sort of forgot to eat enough and drink enough water today. Gave myself a nice migraine! I came home and laid down for half an hour, and now I feel so much better -- no more splitting headache and nausea. I will NOT do that to myself tomorrow!

I forget how important snacks are sometimes.

I tried out a new mosquito repellant today, which worked wonderfully. I got it at REI (using another gift card! wah-hoo!) and it's DEET free. It's a combination of eucalyptus and lemon. The skeeters still landed on my clothes while I was digging up worms for our worm habitat today, but they didn't come near my skin and didn't even try to bite me! Thought you'd all like the info -- especially 'cause I guess DEET really isn't that good for you. Oh -- and the big tube o' bug cream was about 7 dollars, which I think is pretty reasonable.


Chelsea did this awhile ago on her blog, and I think it's a good idea. I'm going to "shout out" to all of you who have commented on my blog and let you know how cool I think you are! Here goes:

Laure: I think it's so great that although you and I are so far away, we still keep in touch! In a couple of years when I'm back on my feet financially, I'm going fly over the big blue ocean and come visit you. (Well, unless you've moved back to the States by then. Then we'll just have to go together -- you can be my tour guide!) I miss you!

Chelsea: Super-mama extraordinaire! AND, one of my only friends who never disappeared into the land of the married. Not even once. I love all of your comments, I love your blog, and I love you! You're the best!

Marie: My oldest and dearest friend! She who has put up with multi-hour phone conversations mostly where I blab my head off continuously -- you ROCK! (And you're coming to visit in less than a week! Wah-hoo!)

Lauren: My left armpit sister who wholeheartedly agrees with the following comment:DIE BUCKTHORN SCUM! We need to go hiking.

Ann: I used to tease you that you knew everything, and now I stand corrected. You know LOTS, but you know how to find out everything!

Melissa: Chelsea's friend who rescued me from a comment drought. Thanks! Sounds like you are WAY pregnant now -- how's everything going?

Marietta: I MISS YOU!!!!!! (But I have a wonderful letter you wrote me and "write to Marietta" is on my list of things to do!) You are always crazy-busy, (maybe just crazy? tee-hee,) but we still manage to keep in touch. You're the best!

Okay . . . that's it, folks!

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Well, the end of the school year came and went, and I received a LOT of gift cards for Barnes and Noble from families. Thanks to those and my teacher discount, I purchased NINETEEN new books for school. (I technically own them, but I will keep them at school and use them in the classroom.) Here's a list of what I bought:

Diary of a Worm (Doreen Cronin)
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type (Doreen Cronin)
Bill and Pete (Tomie dePaola)
Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain (Verna Aardema)
Tough Boris (Mem Fox)
Hattie and the Fox (Mem Fox)
A Letter to Amy (Ezra Jack Keats)
The Doorbell Rang (Pat Hutchins)
Everybody Needs A Rock (Byrd Baylor)
Peppe the Lamplighter (Elisa Bartone)
Fritz and the Beautiful Horses (Jan Brett)
The Great Kapok Tree (Lynne Cherry)
Frederick (Leo Lionni)
Tikki Tikki Tembo (Arlene Mosel)
Thunder Cake (Patricia Polacco)
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (Jon Sciesza)
Abiyoyo (Pete Seeger)
Sheep Take A Hike (Nancy Shaw)
Shrek! (William Steig)

It was so nice to bulk up my collection of children's books!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

year end report update

14 done, 10 to go. I'm not going to get them all done by the end of this week, but it's going to be very close! I think I may only need to end up mailing out 4 or 5. We'll see.

I'm actually on a roll right now, but my butt's so sore from sitting on a hard chair for so long, I think I have to quit for the night. Gah!

2 more days of school!!! I can't believe it!

Since my life has been nothing but work lately, I have little to say that is actually interesting. Well, here's one thing: four or so of the girls in our morning class have been interested in stripping down to their undies the last few days, dumping a bunch of paint on the floor, and "ice skating." Their bodies end up covered in paint, and we have to hose them off outside before they can put their clothes back on. Very silly, and very fun. But a very big mess to clean up as well! Our floor has sort of a greenish haze to it right now from all the paint. Alas.

2 more days of school.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

procrastination is my worst enemy

Ah . . . last week of school, and I'm not even half done with my year end reports. Ho-hum. I hate being a procrastinator! The hilarious part of all of this is, I will probably finish them in time. Silly Catherine.

I had an insanely busy weekend, including 2 babysitting jobs, so I actually have a little money for a change! Woo-hoo! I also had to go into work yesterday for the preschool's "fifth birthday party." It was a long afternoon/evening.

I just watched the movie "Monsoon Wedding," which Marie recommended to me. It was excellent! I had a hard time following at first, because the dialogue would flip back and forth between Hindu and Hindu-accented English. I missed half the subtitles at first, but then I caught on and followed much better. It was amazing, and Mira Nair is a great, great director. (She directed "Vanity Fair," too. And a bunch of other stuff.)

So, I am going to be writing like a chicken with my head cut off this week. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Welcome to my thoughts . . .

I am amazed at how good of a tan I already have, given I wear SPF 45 to work every single day. Sunglasses and a hat, too, and I reapply at lunch.

I got my first mosquito bite of the season today. Phooey.

One of my favorite things in the whole wide world to do is drive on the interstate with the radio blasting and all the windows rolled down.

I had a great birthday! We went out for lunch and to see "Star Wars." I got some cool and/or funny gifts from friends, too.

I think Oliver thinks my sunscreen tastes good. He's licking my arm. He never does that.

I like baked tofu.

We almost set fire to the oven at work tonight. There was lots of smoke, but we didn't set off the smoke detector, fortunately.

I like coffee. And Diet Coke.

It's going to be a busy week and weekend, so if I don't post for a week, don't despair. :0

I have had more pizza, macaroni and cheese, and ice cream in the last four days than I ever want to eat again in my life.

I lost 2 more pounds this week. Strange.

I worked a 12 hour day today, and I'm exhausted. Later, folks.