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Monday, June 30, 2008

Recipe Review from 6/21/08

Is it possible for a Monday to start on a Sunday? I think it is...BOTH my dogs got nailed by a skunk Sunday night at 8:30p. Oh, did it stink! I had some Nature’s Miracle Skunk stuff on hand, but I’m fairly certain this jug was at least 4 years old and not as potent anymore. Poor pups were confined to the kitchen hallway for the duration of the night and morning. If the mosquitos hadn’t been so horrible I might have put them in their outside kennel, but the ‘squito’s are absolutely awful and I couldn’t subject the hounds to that.

While I gather the ingredients for de-stinking my dogs, here’s some recipes from last week:

BBQ Baked Beans and Sausage (Eating Well, July/Aug 08, pg 30) 4.0
We really liked this recipe. Lightly saute kielbasa or sausage of choice. I used a turkey kielbasa. Remove and set aside. Onions and Swiss chard (substitute for collard greens) are sauteed until lightly wilted. Toss in a can of white beans and barbeque sauce that’s been augmented with tomato paste and seasonings. Bring to temp and add back in the sausage. This was tangy, sweet and filling. I didn’t add anything as a side as it was plenty for us for the meal.

Citrus Berry Smoothie (Eating Well, July/Aug 08, pg 54) 4.0
A mixture of berries, orange juice, plain yogurt, powdered milk, toasted wheat germ, honey and a splash of vanilla are blended together for a really tasty drink. I like my smoothies a bit thicker than what this makes, so I added a frozen banana. The husband likes his on the thinner side. Recipe said this makes one smoothie - I thought it made two nice sized ones, especially after adding a banana. Nice thing about this recipe is it is easily adaptable to what you like.

Mexican Pulled Pork (Cooks Illustrated, May/June 08, pg 13) 4.5
The Husband helped me make this one: a cubed pork butt roast is slowly baked in a Dutch oven in a mixture of onion, orange slides, orange juice, water, bay leaves and salt and pepper. Recipe called for two hours, but mine was nicely done after one and a half. Pork is removed from the liquid and shredded. The onion, bay leaves and orange halves are removed and the liquid is reduced to a thick glaze.

This is where we ran into problems. We had A LOT of liquid. I did some serious boiling down on the stove and even then transferred it to a different pot to finish the glaze. The glaze is then tossed with the shredded mixture (which the Husband did a great job of pulling all the fat out of) and briefly boiled to obtain a lovely caramelized texture and color.

Good? Oh yes. We got 3 meals out of this, and the leftovers were just as good if not better.

[Multi grain] Waffles (Ckng Lght Ann 01, pg 135) 4.0
We wanted waffles on Sunday morning and forgot to wake Harold up the night before (for those of you who might just be tuning in, Harold is our sourdough starter). I did a quick perusal of my cookbooks and found this recipe. This was a keeper! Light, fluffy and full of wholesome goodness: regular white flour, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, ground flaxseed, eggs (I used whole eggs, not egg substitute as called for), milk, canola oil, and vanilla. I added blueberries on a whim. Yum yum! We’ll be making these again.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

4th Street Fantasy Convention, June 20-22

Last weekend I met up with Gail and day-tripped to 4th Street Fantasy Convention, in Bloomington, MN. This was our first time at this conventions, which was on hiatus for several years and restarted this summer. This is a smaller, more intimate convention, with about 100+ people attending (who seemed to all know each other really well).

I had a thoroughly pleasant time and was disappointed I was unable to attend the rest of the weekend. The theme or emphasis for the weekend was writing. The guest of honor was Elizabeth Bear. The panel discussions were lively, entertaining, and a single tract. This meant we were in one room and the moderators and panel participants rotated through.

We attended:
The Dreaded Second Draft
The Chewy Bits

Skipped the after lunch panel which was advice writers. We’ve been there, done that.
Playing with Structure.

I had to head back north after the panel on Structure, which gave me enough time for some dinner with Gail.

My only complaint with the one track programming was the length of each session. I can sit comfortably for about 1 hour. These were running an hour and fifteen minutes or an hour and a half. After 50 minutes I start to get fidgety. I'm not good at sitting still for long periods of time - I need to get up and move regularily.

Here is a links to the conventions LiveJournal website which from there are various links from folks who did attend and took copious notes for the rest of us.

Web rumor had it that they might be moving to a different location next year (closer to the downtowns); a Con-chair has been selected and the GoH may be Cory Doctrow. I would like to attend again, this time for the full weekend.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

Hugo Nominee book #3.

Meyer Landsman is a policeman for Sitka, Alaska, the current residence of 2 million Jews who have been forced out of Israel and onto this spit of inhospitable land. In effect, they are out of sight and out of mind for the US and the world. Landsman is down on his luck. His wife left him. He may not have a job after the coming Reversion (that nobody seems to know about). He's an alcoholic and a horrid chess player in a world where his father was known as one of the best. He's living in a squalid hotel apartment. His half Tinglet-half Jew partner tolerates his morose outbreaks.

Then a murder occurs downstairs from where he lives. Next thing Meyer's ex-wife, Bina, becomes his boss and tells him the murder investigation is done. Can you see yet where this is going? Oy vey! He disobeys direct orders and continues to investigate, landing himself and his partner in a world of trouble. Bina is forced to relieve him of his badge and gun, but that doesn't stop Meyer as he continues to get sucked into a whirlwind of Jewish intrigue concerning chess, cows, Messiahs and a return to the homeland.

To paraphrase a friend of mine, this was yet *another* "...alcoholic detective sticking their nose where it's likely to get cut off." Two books that I've read recently come to mind: Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith and When Gravity Fails by George Alex Effinger. Same plot, same characters, different setting.

The alternative history is pretty minor to the overall story. I really feel that you could cut and paste the characters and plot and plunk them in NYC and the story wouldn't miss a beat. I think this my main contention. Yeah, it's kinda cool to have a bunch of Jews living in Alaska, but does that make it "award worthy?" Not really, IMO.

The author is really, really flowery in his language. I recall one bit I read over my morning cereal that was something like "the cows were angels scattered on the green heavens of the field". This particular sentence was just kinda stuck in between two other sentences that basically said the cows were out standing in their field. He had a lot of this throughout the book and after a while it was like, Oy vey indeed.

Still, I enjoyed this book. Meyer Landsman wasn't as morose or depressing as Arkady Renko but I think that was due to Meyer's comic sidekick - Barko. In some ways it was kinda like watching the old TV series Northern Exposure, where being off your rocker is the norm. I would read another book by Michael Chabon.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Nebula Awards 2008 ed. Ben Bova

My science fiction book group has been reading the Nebula Award selection since 2003. I'm not entirely certain what made us pick up that first one, or even the second, but it's a given come May, we will be reading the newest one. We don't even have to vote when it's on the table.

I thought this years was the strongest compilation I've read yet. This is not saying I felt that every selection was a knockout, but by and far, most of the stories were engaging, interesting and well written. Of particular note were, Burn by James Patrick Kelly and Two Hearts by Peter S. Beagle. I did find some irony in reading The Listeners by James Gunn, a short about people who work on the SETI project because I just finished Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer which was also on the SETI project.

It dawned on me after I finished Beagles short, that I don't think I've ever read The Last Unicorn by him. Shame on me - it is considered a classic. Once I get through my 2008 Hugo Nominees I'll have to fix that.

I will also admit that I am not a huge fan of short stories, but it's good to challenge ones boundaries every once in a while. I guess that's why I've liked my book group so much, it's broadened my reading circle over the years, introducing me to a whole slew of authors that I other wise wouldn't ever have touched on my own. That and they are a fun group of folks.

I recommend reading this years Nebula Awards Showcase.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Recipe Review from 6/16/08

The corn and bean tamale pie from the previous recipe posting lasted *forever* so not much new was made this past week for dinners. Had decent luck with a angel food cake and a hummus recipe that was fantastic.

Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake (Ckng Lght Annual 2007, pg 67) 3.5
I had somehow ended up with two dozen eggs and needed a way to reduce the lovely little orbs. I stumbled across this recipe and had all the ingredients on hand. Angel food cakes are so easy to make: beat egg whites to soft peaks, add sugar, cream of tartar and flour. Bake and let cool. I did have trouble incorporating the flour/sugar/vanilla bean mixture. Recipe called to fold it in and I wish I had just whipped it for a more even texture.

The vanilla flavor was very subtle, soft sweet note on the tongue that almost eluded notice. I'm not certain I cared for that. And I had problems with the cake becoming somewhat gooey where it sat on the plate. Still, it was tasty and went well with berries and whip cream.

Hummus (Cooks Illustrated, May/June 2008) 5.0 !!!
This. Was. Fantastic. Incredible, in fact. Silky. Smooth. Tangy. Just a little texture from the beans. And so EASY to make: mix water and lemon juice. Mix tamari with olive oil. Grind beans and garlic in food processor. Scrape. Add water and lemon juice while mixer is running. Scrape. Add tamari mixture while mixer is running. Scrape down, blend once more. Let stand 30 minutes for flavors to develop (or in my case overnight). I had this on whole grain bread with lettuce and sprouts for lunch. Did I mention this was really good? It;s really, really, good...

Spicy Stir Fry with Tofu, Snowpeas, Tahini and Mushrooms (Ckng Lght, Jan/Feb 08, pg 122) 4.5
I made this for lunch on Sunday. I had the ingredients last weekend, but was perplexed by the request for "Tamari". I thought this was a paste and was searching for several weeks at my local Cub and Co-op. It was at the co-op where a very helpful gal revealed to me that it is basically soy sauce. Well, I *have* that.

AND! After my last fiasco in frying tofu, I received a couple helpful tips to "fry" my tofu in a non-greased/oiled pan. I tried this technique today and IT WORKED GREAT! Such a simple thing to do.

Anyway, "fry" tofu and set aside. Add some (peanut) oil to the pan and add: snow peas, red pepper, garlic, ginger, green onion and water. Saute until steamed-crisp. Add a mixture of water, soy sauce, tahini (this was my sub for peanut butter) and Siracha sauce (for zing). Add tofu back in and stir until thick. I served over rice. This served two of us comfortably with enough left for one person for lunch. I would make this recipe again.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Flinx in Flux by Alan Dean Foster

Book 6 in the Pip and Flinx series.

Flinx is on the jungle world of Alaspin, releasing Pips offsping (Pip became a she in the previous novel) when he finds a lady in distress. He saves her, brings her back to health and discovers Clarity was kidnaped and brutally beaten. He agrees to return her to the planet Longfellow where she is a genengineer, feeling he can then go on his way being a solitary “student” in a great big galaxy.

Longfellow is a recently discovered world where everything lives in caves as the surface winds are 150 mph on a calm day. Here the researchers are discovering a plethora of slime molds, fungi, new species and a whole world that lives in dry and wet (dead and alive) caves. Flinx is pretty ambivalent toward the whole place, preferring to be above ground, and when Clarity invites him to stay with her he, a hormonally charged, petulant, somewhat emotionally immature19 year old with a bit of a complex...freaks out and emotionally shoves her away.

Then events are happening fast and her kidnappers are back with the agenda of shutting down the caves by shooting people and blowing things up. Flinx and Clarity find themselves trapped in the cave network with two lights, a modicum of food, and no idea where they are. It’s now Clarity’s turn to freak out as she’s terrified of the dark, especially a dark with things that will kill you slowly.

The rest of the story consists of Clarity clinging to Flinx while they wander deeper into the caves and encounter many strange and deadly things. They find a Thranx and save him, and as he is leading them back to civilization, the stumble across a sentient species that speaks telepathically. For the first time in his life, Flinx feels “safe” and wishes to remain to study and communicate with them. His companions persuade him that, really, they do want to see the light and their friends again.

I enjoyed this book. The underground world Foster created was just fascinating with huge similarities to the depths of the Marinaris Trench in the Atlantic. I did get tired of Flinx’s waffling - “I like her, but if she finds out what I am she’s going to hate me, so I’ll just push her away...” and I got tired of Clarity’s “childish terror of the dark”. But overall, this was the most flushed out and solid book in the Pip and Flinx series to date. It was further interesting because it had a hint of romance as written by a guy from a guys POV. Different, and I liked that.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Knitting Project #14 - Scrappy Dishcloths

I came to realize, after doing over a dozen dishcloths since December, that I have all these partial balls leftover that were too much to really justify throwing away yet too small to do much else with. I came up with the plan to reduce my scrap stash while creating a selection of cloths for future gifts. Always nice to have something to go to for a small gift.

This was my first attempt at combining yarns so the color pattern is not that thrilling. With my next group I'm going to be more creative. They do come out a bit smaller than a regular one, but that's okay, personally I don't care for a huge dishcloth as they take longer to dry out and get too big when they are went and stretchy.

6/20/08 - editing to add, I forgot to include what pattern! Here it is:
Pattern: Nifty Knit Dishcloths by Leisure Arts, "Mini Cables"
Guage: #7
Yarn: Sugar and Cream in Summer Twists, Green Twists, and Taupe Twists
Approx time: 3.5 hours.

I'm also going to try making a small soap bag - something to put scraps of soap in or even a whole bar. If you know of a good pattern, let me know!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Recipe Review for 6/9/08

Summer can't make up it's mind if it's here or not which has been making meal planning a bugger. Do I plan a week of warm dishes which will help warm up the house or do I plan a week of grilling and salads? I erred on the side of caution and did some of both.

Grilled Halibut with Cherry Salsa (Every Day Food c/o Culinary in the Country Blog) 3.5
I had halibut. I had cherries. Just needed some cilantro, green chili and red onion. Assembly for this was quick, well, with the exception of pitting the cherries but once that was complete, wah-la! I got the grill going, made the salsa, grilled the fish and sat down to eat.

Perhaps my cherries weren't sweet enough. Perhaps they weren't quite warm enough. But I was a bit disappointed in the salsa. All I could taste was the chili, onion and cilantro. Still, those flavors were bright and melded well and the fish was good so it wasn't a total loss in my books. I just won't be making it again.

Cashew Chicken Salad Sandwiches (Ckng Lght Annual 05, pg 122) 3.0
I've had a craving for chicken salad sandwiches on croissants for a while now and I had some leftover chicken from the Asian Chicken Salad that I reviewed last week. This was a bit different in that the base was sour cream with just a tich of mayo added. I also subbed broccoli slaw for the celery as I had that on hand and I didn't want to buy a whole celery. As I was saying, shredded chicken, sour cream, mayo, sweet curry powder, green onion and my broccoli slaw are all mixed together. I kept the cashews separate - I don't like soggy nuts. This was tasty, but after day two a significant amount of liquid was pooling in the bottom of the bowl. I contribute it to the sour cream.

Corn and Bean Tamale Pie (Recipe from a co-worker) 3.5
This came to me from a gal I work with and the copy didn't have the source on it and I keep forgetting to ask.

Onion, garlic and red pepper are sauteed until soft. Cumin, jalapeno, corn, and black beans (my substitution for nasty kidney beans) are added and warmed. Diced tomato and tomato paste (I didn't buy enough tomatoes so I drained a can of crushed and added it too) are tossed in last and everything simmered for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, the polenta topping is mixed. I must have different polenta than what most recipes call for - I had a hunch as I was assembling that I should have started this first and let it sit for a while. In the final product it was as still a tich "crunchy".

Overall this was good, if not bland. Instead of tomato paste, a tablespoon of chopped chili in adobo sauce would have kicked the flavors up a notch. Sharp cheddar cheese mixed into the polenta rather than sprinkled on top, and last even some cilantro sauteed with with the jalapeno would have made the flavors of this dish pop. As it is, it's decent, and I got at least 5 meals out of it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo Nominee 2008 Book #2

For brevity's sake, I've cut and pasted a synopsis from the site from Publisher's Weekly: Astronomer Sarah Halifax, who translated the first message from aliens and helped prepare humanity's response, is 87 when the second, encrypted message arrives 38 years later. To aid the decoding, a tycoon buys rejuvenation treatment for Sarah and Don, her husband of 60 years; however, only Don becomes young again. While coping with the physical indignities of old age, Sarah tries to figure out the puzzle of the second message. The bond between Don and Sarah continues, even while Don is joyfully and guiltily discovering the pleasures of living in a young body again. They want to do what's right for each other and the rest of humanity—for the aliens, too—if they can figure out what "right" could be. By its nature, a story about moral choices tends to get talky, but the talk is intelligent and performed by sympathetic and believable people.

I detested this book. I read about 1/3 then skimmed the rest to the end. Yes, there were moral choices, but the situation in which they were portrayed was completely unbelievable. I could not find any plausibility in the character of Don, whose sub-plot seemed to actually dominate the book. The author broke up the chapters by alternating between the modern time line and the past time line - a technique that I usually don't mind, but given how short each one was this time, was really annoying.

This is the third Sawyer book that I have read and if it weren't for the Hugo nominations, I wouldn't be reading them at all.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ledge Rock Grill, Larsmont Cottages, MN

Ledge Rock Grill is an outstanding restaurant, located 30 minutes north of Duluth or about 10 minutes south of Two Harbors, MN. You walk into a medium sized dining room with a view of the cottages and lake overlooking a little outdoor patio and fire pit that people were clustered around making s'mores. It was a bit windy and cold and they looked so cozy clustered around the flames. An open kitchen was opposite the windows so you could watch the kitchen staff cook. In the middle of the room, off to the side was a beautiful gas fireplace. It felt more like someones home than a restaurant.

We started with salads and I found mine so-so. Bright and crisp mixed greens with hard little cherry tomatoes, canned mushrooms and canned asparagus hearts - not canned in a bad way, but I knew they came out of a can. Three of us had the citrus vinaigrette with white truffle oil, 1 had french dressing. I wouldn't pay for a salad from here again as it is not their strong suit.

For the entrees:
I had the "special" - halibut over saffron infused orzo with roasted asparagus. Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic.
The Husband had the duck and ordered it medium rare at the suggestion of the waitress. He thought it was very good.
The Mother had the breaded walleye in an aioli sauce. It was very light and tasty with no hint of grease. I think she thought the sauce overwhelmed the walleye but that's a good think in my opinion.
The Father had the sirloin and he said it was the most tender he had ever had.

Desert was very good. The Father and the Husband shared a hot fudge brownie sundae, the Mother had the White Russian Tiramasu and I had a creme brule "flight" - a sampling of pomegranate, mango and vanilla. The mango and vanilla came out tops, the pomegranate was good, but not my favorite.

Group consensus - excellent. I liked the energy of Ledge Rock Grille, from the open view on each end, the fireplace, families - there were (well behaved) kids present from little tykes to 10yos - people having a good time, the kitchen doing their thing, people around the fire outside...people getting together and enjoying themselves over a good meal.

I highly recommend Ledge Rock Grill for any special occasion dining experience.

Price ~ $$$

Monday, June 9, 2008

Recipe Review week of 6/2/08

Well, first Winter wouldn't end, now Springs seems to wants to make up for time lost and is hanging on as well. For us here near the Canadian border, it's gearing up to be a cool, wet summer (that is if spring ever relinquishes it's reign).

A couple of good recipes from the past week. I'll probably be making most of these again.

Biscuits (Cooks Illustrated, July/Aug 08, pg 23) 4.0
I pulled this recipe from the peach shortcake recipe - not a lot of peaches 'round here, but a plethora of rhubarb and strawberries. These were super quick to make and are my idea of the perfect shortcake. Nubbly, crumbly, with just a hint of sweetness. Recipe make 6 generous sized cakes - could easily be halved to make smaller ones, just adjust the baking time accordingly. I topped mine off with ice cream and the rhubarb sauce I reviewed last Monday.

Asian Chicken Salad (Ckng Lght, June 08, pg 196) 4.0
Very tasty and easy to make. This was a solo dinner so I modified the recipe just a tich - I made the dressing and kept it separate; I subbed broccoli slaw for the matchstick carrots; I used a rotisserie chicken; and I used just one kind of lettuce. Prep lettuce, toss on the shredded chicken, add the snowpea pods and broccoli slaw, sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds and serve. That's all. In my opinion, the Asian dressing (soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, and honey) really brings it all together. Would make a great picnic salad.

Pan Roasted Halibut with Tomatoes and Gnocchi (Every Day with RR, Sept 07) 4.0
I really enjoyed the simplicty and taste of this dish. Combine cherry tomatoes, minced garlic and shallot in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Bake 25 minutes or until tomatoes explode. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the gnocchi. Here's where I deviated just a bit - I heated a skillet with just a bit of olive oil. I pan seared my halibut fillet on each side, then transfered to the oven to finish baking while I finished the gnocchi.

When the gnocchi has finished cooking, drain, and add butter to the pan. Add fresh chopped chives and organo (my substitution for tarragon) and the gnocchi. Saute briefly to combine flavors. Serve tomatoes over fish and gnocchi alongside. On the table in 30 minutes. Yum-O!

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Last Colony by John Scalzi

Hugo Nominee 2008, Review #1

I'm going to Worldcon in Denver this year (I've been to Chicago and Boston in the past) and part of participating in Worldcon is you get to vote on the Hugos. Members can also nominate the books for the final Hugo listing, but I don't have enough time to hunt down and read the past year's eligible selections so I content myself with reading the nominee's in the Novel category.

I have until July 7 to get these read so I best get going!

The Last Colony is book three in a series that follows John Perry and Jane Sagan, former Colonial Defence Forces, ret., and former Special Forces for the Colonial Union, ret. They have been living on a established colony world for several years and are now approached by CDF to be leaders of a new colonial expansion. After some consideration, they agree.

After the ship arrives in orbit around Roanoke, they realize something is not right. From there, events quickly spiral downhill as they find out the colony is part of a greater plot by CDF and they themselves are mere pawns in an interstellar game of cat and mouse.

I like Scalzi's books. They have a great blend of space adventure, new concepts, cool people, and optimism about the future. There isn't a singularity in sight. Not that I don't like the whole singularity concept, it's just that I prefer good old fashioned space adventures over convoluted mathematical concepts.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

LeBistro, Superior, WI

It was a cold and snowy evening in April (yes, snow in April) which led to a game of contract rummy, jazz at the ‘Toga and dinner at LeBistro with the Parents. This time we were smart and made reservations ahead of time. The last time we tried to eat on a Saturday in early spring we were turned away because we did not have a reservation (at 5:00p; with an empty restaurant).

We were seated immediately in a somewhat sparsely populated dining area and got a nice window view. We accepted the waiters suggestion of a Vouveray wine which was really good. Three of us ordered caesar salads and one ordered the traditional house. I was pleased to see the house salad was a mixture of leafy greens and not iceburg lettuce. The caesar salad was perfectly seasoned and my greens were not drowning in dressing.

I had halibut in a raspberry sauce with poblano peppers, the Husband had veal ribs, the Mother had the sirloin with blackend shrimp (way overspiced) and the Father had the shrimp scampi. Everything was cooked perfectly - my halibut was moist and juicy, the shrimp were firm and succulent, the steak cook to request. I had just two critisims: I found the plating was pretty basic - meat/veggie/potato in a nice ring on the plate - and the Mother’s “blackened” shrimp was basically a crust of way too spicy chili powder. A light dredging and then a quick sear on the grill would have made for a much better shrimp.

We declined desert, the entree’s, bread and salad were plenty.

I would eat here again, but probably for lunch. While the food was good and the waitstaff attentive, the plating was pretty basic for the prices we were paying. Good food, but nothing stellar.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Recipe Review week of 5/26/08

I finished the month of May with three new recipes making May's total recipes twelve. I'm happy with that.

In other news, the garden is in! For some folks out there that seems really late but for my growing area, that's normal. Anything before Memorial day is too early and runs the risk of getting nailed by frost. If the garden is in by June 1, and the weather cooperates, we should have be harvesting by September. On the other end, right around Sept 15 is when we can start thinking first killing frost. Kinda sucks.

The last three recipes were for a Venezuelan Vegetarian meal that came together very quickly:

Venezuelan White Rice (Ckng Lght, June 08, pg 172) 4.0
I halved this recipe as the original amounts served six and I didn't want that much leftover rice. Onion, red pepper and garlic were sauteed, then the water and rice added to that and brought to a boil and left to simmer for 15-20 minutes. I love rice because you can just set it aside when it's done and it stay's warm till serving time. This rice had good flavor from the veggies. Next time I would consider using chicken broth instead of water for added depth of flavor.

Simple Black Beans (Ckng Lght, June 08, pg 172) 4.0
You just can't go wrong with a rice and beans dish, and I happen to love anything with black beans in it. I also loved the simplicity of this as well. I also halved this right off the top - another serves six and I didn't want that much leftovers. Once again, saute onion, red pepper and garlic. Add some brown sugar, salt, pepper, and cumin. Add beans. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Sauteed Plantains (Ckng Lght, June 08, pg 172) 4.0
Several years ago (I think it was our trip to Cozumel) I realized I really, really like cooked plantains (and banana's too for that matter). And this dish just couldn't get any simpler! Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Add sliced plantains and cook till golden brown. Add a splash of salt and serve with the rice and beans. Yum! The Husband and I did note that the not-quite ripe plantains were a bit on the starchy side, so plan ahead for this dish to allow the plantains time to ripen. Oh! And these are the yellow-with-black-spots plantains, not the all brown ones.

I would make this meal again - simple, tasty and good for you!

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