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Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy 30th Birthday Sis!

And Lo! my little Sis turned 30! I will pass on telling blog-world how old that makes me. ;)

We actually celebrated a week early as that was when the majority of the family could get together. The SIL brought the Nieces, but the Bro had to be away on business. Poo. The other Sis and BIL had a fundraising event that day which also kept them and the Nephew away. Double Poo.

But the REST of us had a splendid time (Miss A above certainly thought it was fun). We grilled steak and shrimp, and had a wild rice and quinoa dish, asparagus, and eggplant stacks with roasted red pepper and goat cheese. Dessert was chocolate cake with sorbet. I did the meal which had to be gluten and dairy free for the Sis. Everything turned out lovely, except the asparagus which I managed to overcook. But Miss A and Miss L got into the spirit of things by helping Sis blow out her candles.

Happy Birthday!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Recipe Review from 5/17/10

Another whirlwind week of activities! We’ve nearly got the garden in – only things remaining are the dried beans (Jacob’s cattle beans) and the corn. Radishes are up and we’re starting to eat them, peas are up, and a row of ‘something I’m not sure what’ category. Lawn is growing like crazy, flowers are blooming and flower beds are gradually getting planted.

And in between I’ve managed to fit in a couple of really good bike rides – one 15 mile solo ride and one 32 mile with "The Boys" (S and J).

Which makes me hungry! We’ve been eating a fair amount of fish these days, and really, not much to say about fish as we just grill it. And the Husband has us eating up the venison, which we also grill so no new recipes there.

But I do have some great sides to bring to your attention:

Wild Rice and Quinoa Salad (Ckng Lght, 2001) 4.0
High marks for this dish for ease of preparation – it can be made ahead of time and served at room temp or chilled, makes a significant batch that will easily serve 8-10, and is gluten free so youngest Sis can have it. The balsamic vinaigrette adds a nice tang without being overwhelming. And really, this salad is one that you can use whatever veggies you have on hand.

Wild Rice and Quinoa Salad
(Couldn't find the recipe online and I don't have my cookbook handy - may have to come back and check amounts listed. Thanks.)
½ cup wild rice, uncooked
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
1 cup red pepper, diced
1/2 cup cucumber, diced
1/4 green onion, thinly sliced

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

1) Cook wild rice in 1 cup of water until liquid is absorbed and rice has "popped". Let cool.
2) Cook Quinoa in 2 cups of water until liquid is absorbed. Let cool.
3) Combine wild rice, quinoa and red pepper, cucumber and green onion
4) Combine balsamic vinegar and olive oil and remainder of ingredients, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add to mixture.
5) Let chill at least 2 hours before serving. Or not...

Rhubarb Streusel Muffins ( 3.0
Pretty basic muffin recipe with 2 cups of rhubarb added. I subbed 1 cup of AP flour with WW, added nutmeg to the muffin batter and walnuts to the streusel. Muffins turn out almost too moist and I had significant concerns I wasn’t going to be able to get them out of the pan – and I used cupcake liners! There are no worries about these muffins going dry – I had to crack the lid on my storage container because they were getting soggy.

Crustless Leek, Greens and Herb Quiche ( Vegetarian Times, May/June 2010) 4.0
This was on the menu for the week, but when it came time to make it, the humidity was so obnoxious I had no desire to turn on the oven. We also had a fillet of coho thawed out that needed to be eaten. Solution – plank the fish and bake the quiche on the grill! Worked out perfectly! I used a metal 9” round cake pan instead of a glass pie plate in case of breakage. Quiche went on the grill first, then after 10 minutes - during which the cedar plank was heating up – I added the coho. The combination of fish and quiche was actually pretty darn good!

(not the best pic, sorry!)

Crustless Leek, Greens and Herb Quiche
Make a quiche for dinner with your favorite greens, then save a slice for lunch with a salad or veggies the next day.

2 tbsp fine dry breadcrumbs (can omit for GF or find an appropriate substitute)
2 small leeks, white and light green parts halved and sliced ¼ inch thick
2 cups chopped Swiss Chard, kale, collard greens or mustard greens
4 egg whites
3 whole eggs
¼ milk
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp chopped fresh basil
1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
2 oz goat cheese, softened

1. Preheat oven to 425*. Coat bottom and sides of 9” glass pie dish with olive oil. Scatter breadcrumbs over bottom of dish.

2. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in large pot. Add leeks; boil 3 minutes. Remove pot from heat and stir in greens and let stand 30-45 seconds or until greens are wilted. Drain, rinse, drain again, squeeze out excess water with hands and set aside.

3. Whisk egg whites until frothy. Whisk in eggs. Whisk in milk and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper. Whisk in tarragon and basil.

4. Scatter leeks and greens over breadcrumbs in prepared dish. Dot cheese on top. Pour egg mixture over top. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Impromto Knitting Retreat

A week or so ago, one of my fellow Chicks With Sticks (also a co-worker) arranged for a group of us to come up to her cabin for a weekend knitting retreat. A couple of us could only come on Friday, a couple on Saturday, and one gal for the whole weekend!

So it 'twas a slightly overcast, cool, and blustery day that Kari and myself made our way to The Cabin, where we met up with Karen and Carrie. The food theme was Mexican and we had some fabulous dishes! Easy Coffee Cake for brunch, a Buffalo Chicken Chili, tortilla chips with blue cheese, corn bread, apples and dip, Mexican wedding cookies, and margaritas margaritas margaritas! Oh, I was sooo stuffed!

And there were projects! We made sock blockers out of placemats and sanded and varnished our own antler buttons. I already know what project my buttons are going on.

Oh, yes, there was knitting too! I finished cabled sock #1 and started my second Nordic Mitten. I'm still disappointed that the mittens are turning out small *again*, but I have a plan for a recipient so all is not in vain.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mothers Day Tea

For several years now I've known the Duluth Women's Club hosts a Mother's Day Victorian Tea and a Christmas Tea. However, the timing just never seemed to work out until this year. I had the day free, Mom had the day free, what a nice way to spend Mother's Day.

The Duluth Women's Club was founded in the 1920's in response to the Gitche Gammi Club which was a very exclusive men's club. Duluth in the late 1800's and early 1900's had more millionaires per capita than any other city in the nation due to the timber, mining and shipping industries. The women organized and formed their own club which still operates today.

This was a four course tea with a Victorian fashion show.

First course - White Chocolate Chip Scones with Devonshire Cream
Second course - Tomato Bisque Soup
Third course - Variety of tea sandwiches (chicken salad, salmon salad, cream cheese and cucumber)
Fourth course - Raspberry Creme Brule

I must admit I was surprised they didn't enlist the assistance of the local colleges and sorority gals to help serve. It was club women, all retired ladies and they carried out the dishes two servings at a time - with about 40 people in attendance this took a while. And the same ladies were responsible for keeping the tea flowing...which they seemed to struggle with a bit. Not sure if there just wasn't enough to go around or if there wasn't enough help. Some pots on the tables would have helped immensely.

The fashion show was interesting - it was a local woman's personal collection of vintage clothes from the 1900's through 1920's. No recreations here - even the hoop skirts were original. Now that was impressive. I was not in a position to get good pictures.

The Christmas Tea may be worth checking out.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Recipe Review 5/10/10

Ugh. So hard to plan meals when I don't know if it's going to be warm and sunny, overcast and cool, or raining and snowing. After getting 2" of snow a week ago (yes, snow, in May) I was about to throw my hands up and call it quits.

However, fit in a couple new recipes despite the erratic weather:

Vegetarian Taco Salad (Eating Well, May/June 2010) 3.0
This ended up modified a bit. I prefer barley rather than rice, and after hauling three separate tubs to work for the salad, I put everything into a soft tortilla shell. A bit on the bland side for my taste, and very similar to a Ckng Lght recipe I have that is made overnight in the crockpot. Still, a nice change to standard Mexican and would be great for summer lunches. Follow the link in the title to the recipe.

Almost Meatless Sloppy Joes (Ckng Lght, May 2010) 4.0
These were a pleasant surprise. Made with just 6 oz of ground sirloin - which isn't a heck of a lot - and the rest mashed beans, carrots and tomato sauce they were saucy, sloppy and pretty darn good. Seasonings could have been upped a bit, and the Husband thought they could have been cooked down a bit more for cohesiveness they were nonetheless, flavorful and healthy. We would make these again.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Dies the Fire by SM Stirling

This is May's Scifi bookgroup selection and this is the second SM Stirling book we've read. The first In the Court of Crimson Kings - you can follow the link to my review.

I made it to page 263 or thereabouts (Chapter 16 I believe) before throwing in the towel. It wasn't that I had a problem with the writing, because I thought the writing style in and of itself was just fine. SM Stirling does have a way of pulling the reader along in an engaging fashion.

No, my issue was with the subject matter - the end of the world as we know it. Electricity ceases to work. Gunpowder ceases to work. Engines cease to work. Satellites cease to work. Planes fall out of the sky, trains stop working, and everything literally turns off. Society is plunged back to the Dark Ages but nobody knows why.

Okay. Fine. EXCEPT - why would gunpowder stop working but yet gasoline can still be ignited and used as a way to cremate the dead bodies? Gun powder is less refined than gasoline. There were other little items like that that had me scratching my head - which means I was pulled out of the story.

Another issue was that the members of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA)/Wiccan/Ren Faire group would be the ones to save the world (exaggerating a bit here - but not by much). If you are not familiar with the premise of the SCA, it is a middle ages re-creationist group. I participated in this Society for a number of years before bailing. I know for a fact that probably 95% of the people in this outfit could not save the world because they know how to make chain mail. Nope, not going to save the world with two horses and a lute either.

Which brings us to the SCA fellow who was taking over Portland as if he was Caesar himself. Complete with a hall full of torches and gladiator rings. Riighhtttt....

And then there was the outdoorsy pilot guy. He might have been plausible if it wasn't for the Tolkien loving, bow toting, rich chick that just happened to be in the plane he was flying when they went down and Lo! They picked up a smithy type person and Lo! soon they all had tabards and helms and spears and crossbows and were taking archery lessons from Tolkien chick.

Too much fantasy for my taste...and I LIKE Tolkien. I also found this to be eerily similar to Lucifer's Hammer by Niven/Pournelle which was putting me off.

If you like post-apoplectic stories, this series is for you.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Knitting Update!

My needles have been flying, the camera, not so much. I'm quite behind on posting my completed projects. Without further ado, the line-up:

Three pairs of Bella Mittens
Pattern by Subliminal Rabbit
#8 circulars
Knitpicks Swish Bulky in Clematis Heather, Verdant Heather and Blackberry. I have 2 skeins of Onyx Heather in the stash waiting for pair number four.

Basic Sock
Pattern: stockinette stitch
#1 circulars; co 64 sts.
Knitpicks Stroll Handpainted (no picture yet as it's on my Dad's camera and he keeps forgetting to send it! Socks went to Sis #2 for her birthday.)

Nordic Mittens
Pattern: Nordic Mittens by Paton Yarns
#6 circulars
Paton yarn Decor in pink and soot.

I've done this pattern once already on #4 circulars and they came out very small - large enough for a tween or petite adult. This set I'm doing according to the pattern and they are still small. I'm beginning to suspect the yarn. My fellow Chicks with Sticks made these as well and had no problems on either the #4's or the #6's - but they had different yarn.

Cabled Socks
Pattern: Sensational Knitted Socks, 3x3 cable with Moss stitch
#1 circulars
Knitpicks Stroll in Masala

Fun fun fun pattern. Knits up very quickly.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Recipe Review 4/26/09

Joe over on Culinary in the Country used to do a Friday pizza, and thinking this was a fun way to make and try different pies, the Husband and I did something similar before he was deployed. Now that he's back, we're trying to pick up on making pizza with a bit more regularity.

We started with:
White Pizza with Broccoli and Mushrooms (Vegetarian Times, April 2010) 3.5
This may seem a bit odd, but the flavors work quite well together. It also came together more quickly than I anticipated (thanks to the Husband for starting the dough). We used Joe's favorite whole wheat crust. Seriously, this is an excellent crust and I've never had it fail.

I followed the rest of the recipe as written:
2 tbsp butter, divided
6 oz mushrooms, sliced (2 cups)
8 oz broccoli florets (3 cups)
1 tbsp AP flour
1 cup milk
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, divided
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
(1 13.8 oz refrigerated pizza dough - I made my own)

1) Place pizza stone or baking sheet in center of oven, and heat to 425*

2) Melt 1 1/2 tsp margarine in skillet over medium-high. Add mushrooms and cook 4-7 minutes or until beginning to brown. Add broccoli and 1/3 cup water. Cover tightly and steam broccoli in skillet 3 to 4 minutes, or until tender.

3) Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 1/2 tbs butter in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and cook 2 minutes or until pale golden, stirring constantly. Stir in milk, garlic, and salt. Cook 3-4 minutes or until mixture thickens and begins to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/4 cup mozzarella and 2 tbsp Parmesan until sauce is smooth and cheese melted.

4)Shape pizza dough according to directions. Remove stone or baking sheet from oven and place dough on hot stone.

5. Spread white sauce over dough to within 1/2" from edge and top with broccoli mixture. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top. Return to oven and bake 20 minutes or until edges of pizza are golden and center is hot an bubbly.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Recipe Review - April

Woot! A new grain! I've been reading about the wonderful taste and virtues of quinoa and I finally had the opportunity to buy a small package at the Grain Bin in Menominee, WI. This meal was inspired by a to-go Mediterranean meal from the local co-op and the recipe below was the basis for the dish.

I significantly altered the recipe: no mint, lemon rind, radicchio, yellow bell pepper, shallots or English cucumber. I did feta cheese, zucchini, kalmata olives, green onion, and tomato halves. I don't have any sherry vinegar so I used white wine.

Why so many changes? I wanted it to taste somewhat like the co-ops, I'm not wild about cucumber, and I was trying to use some fridge items up. And really, it's that kind of recipe - where you can do what you want.

I loved it! I was unprepared for how long it would take two cups of quinoa to cook and cool down so it was served rather warm. The flavors were nutty, with a hint of lemon from the lemon juice and the tang of the vinegar. And it makes A LOT. Halving would be a serious option here. I strongly recommend serving this with some hummus and pita wedges on the side for a great take on Mediterranean.

Colorful Quick Quinoa Grecian Salad (Cooking Light, APRIL 2006)
Yield: 10 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

2 cups uncooked quinoa
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh mint
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup thinly sliced radicchio
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped English cucumber
1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
3 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives
1 tablespoon minced shallots

Place quinoa in a large bowl; cover with water. Let stand 5 minutes; rinse well, and drain.

Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan; stir in quinoa. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Uncover; fluff with a fork. Cool to room temperature.

Combine olive oil and next 5 ingredients (through sea salt) in a large bowl. Add cooled quinoa, tomatoes, and the remaining ingredients; toss well.

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