31 December 2009

Happy New Year!

Here's wishing you all a happy and blessed new year!  It's so much fun watching the pages turn...

And how am I ringing in the new year?  (So silly of you to ask...) I'll be baking!  Here's what I'm making tomorrow: Cardamom Citrus Coffee Cake courtesy of GOODLIFE {Eats}.  Check out that link to see the spicy, swirly goodness!

The Move Your Money Project

Worth a few thoughts...

via French for a While

30 December 2009

Ready to roll...

What?!  "Last post: June 7, 2009" ??

This is simply unacceptable.

Stay tuned...

07 June 2009

A weekend to be remembered!

A couple weekends ago, my friends and I had our monthly book club gathering. Since starting the group last year, we've morphed it into a bookclub/supper club, featuring a different type of cuisine each time. Most recently, we did fondue, which was an absolute blast. At any given buffet-style dinner party, people usually fill their plates, then go sit in the designated area and wait for everyone to enter the room before starting to eat, right? Not at this party. And not with this dish. The food was so good, we all stood there star-struck with our fondue forks in our hands. Our plates remained empty. Manners went out the door and nobody seemed to mind.

We had boiling water going on the stove for meats, cheese fondue (gruyere and emmenthaler) on the table, and chocolate fondue following that. All available surfaces were covered with chorizo, shrimp, beer-marinated steak, pumpernickel, focaccia, pears, apples, bananas, prunes, dates, figs, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potato, zucchini, brussel sprouts, potatoes, pretzels, marshmallows, cheesecake bites, strawberries, pound cake, brownies, and the king of them all, mini cream puffs. Have you ever had a chocolate-dipped, coconut-sprinkled cream puff? Fresh out of the fondue pot?! Oh my... truly life-changing, folks. Book? What book? (For those of you who are wondering if our literary interests have taken a back seat to our culinary adventures, fear not, my good friends, we did indeed read and discuss the book - Out of the Silent Planet, C.S. Lewis)

Well, nothing of that has anything to do with the pictures below. You're probably wondering if we dipped sushi in the chocolate too... hmm... not such a great idea there. No, actually, the hosts (my friends John & Kasey) invited me to stay the night so we could hang out more and I wouldn't have to climb the stairs on crutches at night. Staying the night turned into staying the weekend, and it was so much fun. After book club on Friday night, I basically fell into bed at a much later hour than I am used to, but all was remedied by a trip to Dutch Brothers Coffee the next morning. K and I did some yard-sale-ing and I scored an awesome Indian-print fabric; we had lunch at the co-op and involved various strangers in our quest for mirin and tahini. K helped me vacuum out my borrowed car and we returned it to its rightful owners, who happen to have some of the cutest kids I've ever met. When we arrived at their house, all the kids were sitting around the lunch table just beaming. Suzanne, do you have visitors very often? :-) All of this led up to a decision to make dinner in that night, and Kasey had a sushi book she's been wanting to put to good use. We pored over every recipe! After a quick run to Winco, some prep time in the kitchen, and Kasey's excellent rolling skills, we came up with this:


The yellow ones on the left are wrapped with roasted sweet pepper, and the rolls on the far left are topped with slices of omelette and wrapped with seaweed. We made two dipping sauces to go along; the traditional soy/wasabe and a soy/tahini one that tasted very similar to peanut sauce.

John and Kasey have a cool little fry daddy, and none of us had ever made tempura at home, so of course we had to try it. We had vegetables left over from fondue the night before, plus we added a few favorite extras, to make tempura shrimp, sweet potato, tofu, onion rings, broccoli, cauliflower, and probably a few I'm forgetting. We made a soy-based tempura sauce to go with these as well. Not only does tempura taste great on its own, but the soy sauce really helps cut the rich flavor, and the tempura texture holds the sauce in. My favorites were the onion rings, sweet potato, and tofu.
It's not often that you have two over-the-top dining experiences in one weekend, but when you get a couple people together who all like to try new foods in their own kitchen, you never know what's going to happen. After church on Sunday morning, the three of us went back to J&K's, and we tempura'd some more! This time we even tried bananas, apples, and pears. I'm thinking apple dumpling here... cut the apple into slices instead of dicing it, and shake powdered sugar over the finished piece. Yum!
While we were frying all of this, it reminded me of wanting to try doughnuts at home some time. My family, being Dutch, is really familiar with ollie bollen, which is a Dutch doughnut-like treat. American doughnuts can have a completely different texture, especially if you're making cake doughnuts instead of yeast doughnuts, and I'm anxious to try them some Saturday at John and Kasey's. Anybody have a good recipe?


Is this a flattering picture of me? Like a rotten banana it is. I hope none of my dear readers has geniophobia. But do I love it? You betcha. I was driving Meredith's car while she was in Boston, and yes Meredith, I loved the sunroof way, way too much. I'm having withdrawals.

Sick... again!

I should have paid more attention to the sore thoat that plagued me all last week. It was clearly caused by sinus issues, but for some reason I thought it would simply go away after a few salt-water gargles and hot showers, maybe by closing the windows and using the A/C instead to ward off outdoor allergens. Silly me. I should have realized that the beginning of this cold/sinus infection was strangely familiar. I had exactly the same symptoms, in the same time frame, in April - which led to me taking a week and a half off of work because it was so bad. Oy.

Well, instead of dwelling of all the things I could complain about, as I am prone to do lately, I am trying to focus on good things. I am blessed beyond measure and there's no reason to complain.
There's something I really like about being sick. In fact, I love it. You know what it is? It involves a hot cup of tea, a good book or some favorite blogs, maybe a cookie or piece of sweet bread, the couch, and my hiney on that couch. I love to read, but rarely have time to sit down for an extended amount of time, so when I'm sick I take full advantage of it. :-)
Another think I like about being sick is that I feel no guilt whatsoever about taking long naps. This morning I woke up at 7:30, ate breakfast, yadayadayada, determined I was too sick to go to church, and promptly went back to bed for another 2 hours. It was great!
The third thing I like about being sick is that amazing "I'm alive! I'm finally alive!" feeling I get the day I'm over it. Maybe that's being a little melodramatic, but there's almost always a particular day following an illness when I have a definite feeling of "Ok, I'm back to normal and I feel good today." It's a great feeling. It makes me want to run 10 miles. Which I will probably never do, but here's to dreams, right?

I think God allows us to get these sniffly, minor, irritating types of sickness as a reminder of humility, to remind us that we really aren't self-sufficient like we think we are. Sometimes the peace and quiet of just sitting at home can help me re-focus my life on God and what I'm supposed to be doing in this season. It just plain gives me time to think deeply (unless I'm on meds), which doesn't happen too often unless it's connected to work stuff. I am blonde, you know. (Juuust kidddding...)

Speaking of being sick, has anyone heard of using apple cider vinegar to stay healthy? I have two health-nut friends (yes, that is a compliment) who both drink it on a regular basis (diluted with water, sometimes with honey added). One of them told me to gargle with it when I have a sore throat, and it did help. It has an effervescent effect on the throat, like it really is pulling out all the impurities. Sort of the same effect as hydrogen peroxide on a wound. I don't know if that's true; I need to do more research. It's fascinating.

06 June 2009

And now, a word from our sponsor...

"Sponsor" in the singular, meaning me. A little update on the goings-on chez Marie.

In late April, I had foot surgery (again, for those of you who were here around this time last year), and my mom came to help me for 3 weeks post-surgery. We didn't know ahead of time whether I would be on crutches or not - the surgeon, unfortunately, couldn't make a determination until she had performed the surgery. Most of you are probably not interested in the minute details of the surgery, but know that something that was supposed to take about an hour took 3. The bones at the base of my first metatarsal had not healed from the first surgery a year ago, so this surgeon had to insert a graft from my left heel to encourage new and complete growth. A screw from the previous surgery had broken off at a key juncture, and half of it was recovered and other half wasn't. In addition to that, she had to remove all of the other old hardware to replace it with a smaller (better) piece they didn't happen to have stocked in the surgery center, so it had to be special ordered in the middle of surgery. Yay for anesthesia. So you can see why I ended up with crutches after all of that.

While my mom was here, I got along really well. Of course - she did everything for me. The real test of how I would handle crutches came later, when she went home. Maybe I should mention here that I live in an upstairs apartment. I was really freaking out about the prospect of going up and down stairs on crutches. (Complete digression: I heard tapping on my back door just now, so I went to check. When I started this post, it was sprinkling rain, and now hail is beating down the door. It sounds like pebbles are being thrown at all of my windows at once. How romantic. Anyway...) I immediately arranged to stay with friends for the next six weeks, and I had decided in my mind that I couldn't go near stairs on crutches. I tried a few times while my mom was still here, and it went ok, but took a lot of effort. She devised an alternate method of getting up the stairs that was quite effective, if not graceful. I was determined not to go up and down the stairs on my hiney every day, so I started practicing (practicing? this was the real deal. Slow, but real.) and I actually got the hang of it pretty quickly. From there I learned how to hold a shopping bag on each side, how to get in and out of the car without falling in head-first, and how to tone my biceps without a single pushup. I could do this! I could actually stay in my own house. Upstairs. God gave me the strength to do something I had decided I couldn't do. Sometimes God needs a crowbar to open my eyes.


It's been six weeks now, which is normally the point of healing at which the doctor will let the patient put weight on his foot, after this type of surgery. I was really looking forward to my doctor's appointment on Monday because I thought my crutch days were over. I appreciate my doctor's particular caution in this case, but I can't say I wasn't disappointed that she gave me another 2-3 weeks on crutches. I had plans, man! Plans that didn't involve the sticks! However, I was thrilled that she gave me permission to drive. Not just to drive, but to drive my car. This whole time since the surgery I was forced to drive automatics, since I had surgery on my left foot. I'm not complaining, because I found out I have some Pretty Generous Friends who were willing to let me borrow the husband's work car. This meant he would have to drive my girly car, with the Hawaiian flower in the back window. With the Imogen Heap cd in the player. With the tiny red handmade yarn-doll from a college friend dangling from the rear-view mirror. He was very generous, very generous indeed. I was truly blessed by their speedy response to my "Help me!... I can't... driiiivvee myyy CCAAAAAaaaaaarrrrrr...." (think the wicked witch in Oz), which I cried out to my church family in desperation via email.

I have a love affair with manual transmissions. With the clutch, the stick, the speed. Mainly the speed. I'm glad to have my car back.

So that's been life, for the most part, for the last 2 months. You probably saw my post on my new little nephew, whom I hope to visit in July. Little Luke makes me an auntie of 5 (!). I'll also be visiting California (probably) and Washington (almost certainly) in July/August. The grand trifecta. Sorry Nevada, you're just not cool enough. I kid. How could I leave out the state that contains the nephew with the bluest eyes I've ever seen in my life on a person that size? I'm trying to work out a trip down some time in between all of these other trips. One of the big scheduling questions for all of these trips revolves around what day I'll be able to wear normal shoes again. Seriously, you know how vigilant the Boise airport TSA agents are. But they always "pick me!" anyway.
Well, this has been quite a long post, but I was inspired by a childhood friend's new-to-me blog. The hail has stopped, my neighbor's basset hound is flopping in through the back door, and my last batch of cookies for the day has *ding!*ed. It's time for me to go.
Good night!

What's the definition of addiction?

Just today, I made:
Lemony sugar cookies with demerara sugar on top
Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp
Lasagna-ish casserole (don't ask; it was spawned of an open tub of ricotta I knew I needed to use)

Maybe the rainy weather had something to do with it. Maybe just because it's Saturday and I have some free time on my hands. All I know is, crutches don't seem to keep me from doing all the baking I normally do. Some people call this brave. I'm beginning to wonder if it's just stupid. Either way, I'm obsessed.

25 May 2009

I've been a bad auntie

I have been a complete slacker in my role as a blogging auntie since I didn't announce to the blogosphere (I love that word) that my brother and his wife had a baby! His name is Lucas Abraham, born at 7:20pm on May 13 to my brother and sister-in-law J&B. Congratulations you guys! I'm excited to see your family grow and I pray the Lord blesses you as you raise your boys.

B's blog has pictures, of course.

This doesn't affect my status as an awesome tante does it?

24 May 2009


Season One, Episode 1.

(This is soitenly not the first time I've mentioned my mental malfunctions (score! alliteration quadruple-play) on this blog for you to laugh at, and as sure as I am that there will be more, I've decided to make it a regular feature. Since, y'know, it... regularly... happens. Hm. Ok.)

Announcer Voice:
"This episode of "oops." is brought to you by... Synapse Failure, Inc.!"

I decided to sit outside in the sun, aka Nebuchadnezzar's Furnace, for a little while this afternoon to, as they say, "get out more". I haven't really spent any time outside in the last month except going back and forth to my car, because when it takes me 20 minutes just to do that (due to crutches), I feel like I've earned my 15 minutes of vitamin D for the day and I'm done. Also DONE, in the sense of "I'm DONE with this day!" Ok, you get it.
So I thought I would get outside, see if it taunted me too harshly or if I could stand the sight of the foothills calling my name. Unfortunately, vanity got the best of me as I basked in the outdoorsy glory. Not only did I choose to skip the sunscreen in favor of "a little color", but my brain also encouraged me to finish reading my new foodie magazine before I went inside, because if I were to stop now I would probably never get around to the rest of it, and it would lie neglected on the coffee table for a few weeks until I had people over and was forced to clear the decks in the typical frenzied manner. Long story short, my shoulders are now the color of June cherries and my nose rivals Rudolph's. Summer has officially begun in this whitey's back yard.
I was glad to see the clock inside only read 3pm, which meant I had 3 hours before leaving for evening service and therefore pleennnnty of time to clean up. I was excited about being able to make it to evening church for the first time my surgery, which was a month ago, and Pastor J had a great sermon prepared to start his series on the ten commandments.
For a few days, I had been meaning to wash the cloth lining of my post-surgery boot (be glad my brain doesn't skip those sorts of things), and I had time on my hands this afternoon. I threw it in the tub, washed it, wrung it out, and it was only when I was hanging it up to dry on the shower rod that I realized... wait, I have to wear this in order to wear my boot in order to leave the house in order to go anywhere, and I just made it sopping wet. And the instructions say specifically... Air dry only. Do not put in dryer or use other heat source to dry.


23 May 2009

"But it's my summer job, officer!"

Yesterday morning as I was leaving for work, I walked out in front of my apartment to find a guy about my age, dressed in jeans and an untucked button-up standing on my neighbor's front lawn. He was holding a notepad and trying to surreptitiously look past the curtains in the front window of their picket-fenced colonial. He saw me out of the corner of his eye, quickly stepped to the side of the house to look down their side yard, and wrote something on his notepad. He then turned around, said hi to a very curious me, and then got in his silver, sans-plates Volvo and sped off.

Does anyone else find this suspicious? Odd, at the least. But odd is not a new description for my neighborhood.

Tech geeks crack me up

I had a little trouble signing in to Blogger today, but the help link really was helpful. At the bottom of the page I found this (italics and bold mine):

Last resorts

  • Restart your computer.
  • Try a different computer.
  • Try a different Internet connection.
  • Take a deep breath -- the world isn't ending -- write us for help. Be sure to give us as much information as you can about your account and the problems you're experiencing.

26 March 2009


Spinach with bell peppers, black beans, pineapple and feta

I don't have a real affinity for feta cheese - I'm just now discovering that it is actually quite good. This salad came from Clean Eating magazine, which I would highly recommend if you're looking for healthy food ideas that think outside the box. Whole wheat? Check. Flaxseed, millet, and quinoa? Check. Agave nectar, honey, and natural sugar cane the only sugars allowed? Check.
It's a little green (I know, I know, I'm sick of that term by now too, sorry!), but I like it. And the salad? I wouldn't cross the street in front of a New York cabbie for it, but it was flavorful, quick, and healthy. Just what I was looking for (and light enough that I don't mind following it up with a piece of cherry pie for dessert *ahem*).

21 March 2009

Consider it done.

So here's a little advice for those of you ladies out there who might live in the Boise area and who might be looking for a swimsuit. If you want anything other than 1) a swimsuit made of string, 2) a swimsuit that calls itself a two-piece but is really a one-and-a-half, or 3) a swimsuit that calls itself a one-piece but is really just masquerading as a two-piece, connected with string, please do yourself a favor and don't bother going to the following places:

*The Nike outlet store
*The sports store between Marshall's and ShopKo
*Ross on Eagle & Fairview
*Old Navy
*Joe's Sports
*Big 5 Sporting Goods
*Ross on Milwaukee
*Sports Authority
*Sears (including Land's End stock)

I did the legwork for you today. You can thank me later.

Why didn't I trust my gut (yes, the one with expensive taste but spot-on accuracy) and just go to the Swim and Run Shop in the first place?? Their website leaves something to be desired, but the store is great. Even better than the store itself is the staff. You can walk in to the Swim and Run Shop, head straight to the dressing room, and let the staff take it from there. In fact, that's what I would recommend, considering the huge amount of stock they have squished into about 1000 square feet. If you consider your bathing suit an "investment" piece that you're going to keep for several years, it's worth it to spend a little extra. And... it gives you extra incentive to keep up with the swimming. :-)

20 March 2009

Read it and weep!

Moose Chili and Cornbread

I originally thought I had ground beef in the freezer, but when I pulled out the package the other day to thaw, I realized it was moose that my co-worker Angee had given me. Last year, her hunting-obsessed husband convinced her to go for a moose tag. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the civic laws of hunting, there are only a certain number of tags available each year, and they are awarded on a lottery basis. You are only allowed to draw one moose tag in your lifetime, so if you get one, you better hope your hunting trip goes well or else... too bad. So Frank (Angee's husband) told Angee, a stoic non-hunter, "Just go for it honey - what are the odds? You probably won't get it... but it would be really cool if you did." Angee was not thrilled about it, but thought if she at least tried to go for the tag, it would satisfy Frank and she wouldn't have to go hunting for another year. Well... Angee got a tag. And Angee went hunting. And Angee shot her own moose.

So, back to the package in my freezer. The stamp on it said "__ound Steak Moose". I assumed it was "Ground Steak Moose". Don't ask me why I thought it would be a ground steak, since they are literal opposites of each other (and I should know better, having grown up with home-raised beef). I think my brain played a trick on me because I was looking for ground beef, but this was actually "Round Steak Moose". Anyway, after a bit of thawing and sawing (sorry! moose can be a bit tough), it became perfect chili meat.

This was my first attempt at chili, and it turned out pretty well, other than the hot factor. I let the meat sear a little too long and I ended up burning a little bit on the bottom of the pot. I also added too many spicy ingredients - 1) diced pepper, 2) chili beans with -duh- chili in them, 3) diced "chili cuts" tomatoes, also with chilies in them, not to mention 4) the actual chili powder itself (I used straight cayenne, although only half as much as the recipe stated). Add these to the diced green chilies in the cornbread, and I had one hot kitchen! I cobbled together bits and pieces of 3 different chili recipes, so no wonder I ended up doubling (tripling? quadrupling?) the spice factor in tonight's dinner!

I'm wondering if I should even try bringing this to work next week. Everyone will think I have a really frustrating assignment given the amount of tears rolling down my cheeks. But wait - doesn't capsaicin cause endorphin release? I think I've heard that before. In that case I should be happy as a clam by now. A very hot, spicy clam.

Summer is coming!

Back door this evening... wide open for the last few hours, with flipflops waiting.

19 March 2009

Hodgson Mill whole-wheat fettuccini is...

amazingly disgusting. Pleasepleaseplease do yourself a favor and don't even try it. Don't even look its way in the grocery store and think "but maybe it will be different for me". Don't look longingly at the bright red box and think how great a dinner it will make and how *healthy* it must be! It can't be that bad...


Pasty, grainy, flavorless, like eating dried pie dough. Ugh. *shudder*

Although it takes a nice picture.

16 March 2009

How To Not Bake Cookies

Step 1: Spend an hour totally engrossed in (and grossed out by) Cake Wrecks.

Step 2: Finally haul your new-to-you toy out of the closet to finally mend those tank tops and pillow cases (which you've been using all along anyway), only to discover that you don't have an owner's manual. And getting one off Ebay will cost you $5 and 2 weeks. Sewing machines take skillz, people.

Step 3: Call your mom and whine about doctors, feet, and shoes for an hour. Receive picture from mom of homemade tortilla chips to accompany homemade tortilla soup and wish you were there. Start sorting through your own recipes lying on the top of the microwave out of jealousy.

Step 4: Review your grocery list (parchment paper? check. bananas? check. flour? oh no!) and suddenly remember that you were planning on bringing cookies to your friend's St. Patrick's Day party. Realize you do not have green dye, scheme up ways to create green dye from vegetables currently in refrigerator, and soon thereafter trash the whole green dye idea. Feel relieved that you don't have to use green dye because you are highly uncomfortable with the idea of food dye in the first place. Who ever thought up neon green mashed potatoes?

Step 5: Reminisce about the cookies you made on Friday and start searching through cupboards to check on ingredients. AHA!

Homemade Oreos
from Smitten Kitchen

1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. Dutch cocoa
1 tsp. soda
1/4 tsp. powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. sugar (can be decreased to 1/2 c., which I would recommend)
1/2 c. + 2 Tb. unsalted butter, room temp.
1 egg

1/4 c. unsalted butter, room temp.
1/4 c. shortening
2 c. powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

1. Stir together flour, cocoa, soda, powder, salt, and sugar.
2. Add butter and mix thoroughly, then add egg and mix until dough comes together.
3. Spoon small teaspoons of dough onto parchment-lined or lightly greased cookie sheet and flatten slightly with the heel of your hand or the bottom of a cup.

4. Bake at 375* for 7-9 minutes. Watch them because cookies this small can burn quickly. Stand back and admire the neat little rows of chocolate goodness.
5. For filling, blend butter and shortening, then add powdered sugar and mix until crumbly. Add vanilla and mix until smooth.
6. I transfer my filling to a large ziploc bag and cut the corner off as a makeshift piping bag. Make that my usual piping bag. Pipe about a tablespoon of filling into the middle of a cookie and top with another cookie. Press together gently until filling reaches the edges. Pinkie lift optional.
7. Store between layers of parchment or wax paper in an airtight container. If there is anything to store...

Upon moving upstairs last May...

Piano dearest
I love you still
But if you follow where I'm going
I'm afraid you'll take a spill...

Stairs have never been your forte.

15 March 2009

I found the pot of gold!

The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow really does exist. In 5+ years of trying to achieve the perfect "warm" milk temperature, buying new packets of yeast to make sure it's fresh instead of using the one I already had in my drawer, and constantly trying to find just the right warm spot for the dough to rest and rise, I finally found a bread recipe that doesn't flop because of some unidentifiable problem with the yeast. That doesn't turn out hard as a rock. That doesn't sit in the bowl like a lump of clay. You want to know the secret? It doesn't use yeast at all!

Granted, this is not sandwich bread, and it turns out pretty crumbly and fragile. It does, however, taste amazing. It goes really well with soups, salads, and what else - corned beef and cabbage! I have heard of Irish soda bread many times before, but I never really knew what type of bread it was, what texture it had, or how it would taste. I saw a recipe in Martha Stewart (good ol' Martha Steward, prison time notwithstanding...) that looked pretty easy, so I decided to conduct an experiment in conjunction with our monthly book club/international cuisine dinner party. This being March, I suggested we do an Irish dinner - corned beef and cabbage, mashed potatoes, salad, Irish soda bread, and Irish cream ice cream for dessert. I volunteered to make the bread and the dessert, knowing that the bread may be a disaster at the very last minute and I may have to substitute some other bread to go with our dinner, but it was worth a shot. Little did I know that there would only be 2 pieces left by the time everone left for the night!

I declared the bread a success, which in my house means the recipe goes into my book of personal recipes. I had leftover Irish butter (swoon!), so I had to make another loaf today to eat for lunch... and dinner... and share tomorrow with coworkers.

The leavening agent in this recipe is mainly baking soda (hence the name of the bread), but it also contains baking powder and soured milk. which help it rise.

Irish Soda Bread
from Martha Stewart Living, March 2009
Makes 1 loaf

1 1/3 c. whole milk
1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. coarse salt (I substituted 2 tsp. table salt)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
4 Tb. cold unsalted butter, diced
1 c. unprocessed wheat bran
1/4 c. caraway seeds (I omitted this)
1 c. raisins

Irish butter, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Prepare a baking sheet (line with parchment or spray with Pam). Mix milk and vinegar in a small bowl and let set. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Cut in butter.

2. Stir in wheat bran, caraway seeds (if using), and raisins. Stir in milk & vinegar until dough starts to form a ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a round (don't knead). Transfer to the baking sheet and cut a large X in the top. Bake for 60-70 minutes.

Serve with generous amounts of room-temperature Irish butter.

12-year-old Makes Impact with Pro-Life Speech

This is worth reading, or watching the video if you have time (follow the link in the Boundless post).

"Despite facing threats of disqualification, a 12-year-old girl took first place in a speech contest when she eloquently argued for the rights of unborn children – after an offended judge quit.

'What if I told you that right now, someone was choosing if you were going to live or die?' the seventh-grader begins in a video recording of her speech on YouTube. 'What if I told you that this choice wasn't based on what you could or couldn't do, what you'd done in the past or what you would do in the future? And what if I told you, you could do nothing about it?'

The girl, a student at a Toronto school identified only as 'Lia,' continued:
'Fellow students and teachers, thousands of children are right now in that very situation. Someone is choosing without even knowing them whether they are going to live or die.
That someone is their mother. And that choice is abortion.' "

09 March 2009


Is summer here yet?

I'm obviously unloading old pictures from last summer, to get them off my computer. This is malted ice cream, with chopped malt balls mixed in. If the malt balls weren't in there, this would actually pass as a very rich vanilla... but what fun would there be in that? None, I tell you, none...

Guests are coming over this Friday and I can't wait to get out the ice cream maker. Totally justified to whip up a batch of ice cream now... it's going to be an Irish-themed dinner, so I was thinking Irish Cream Ice Cream. How appropriate. Mmm...

Peanut Butter rice krispie bars

This is not an original recipe of mine, of course, but I did wing it by looking at several other recipes online. I'm not a big fan of rice krispie bars, but these are really great. I like them with chunky peanut butter, and you can also add roughly chopped unsalted peanuts to the mix.

Finally got the gooey, marshmallowy mix in the pan. That's an arm workout, man!

Finished product!
I would post a recipe, but this (or a variation of it) can be found in almost any cookbook. I simply posted the pictures to inspire you and make your mouth water. Nah-nah-naaa! :-)



08 March 2009



In every instant, two gates.
One opens to fragrant paradise, one to hell.
Mostly we go through neither.

Mostly we nod to our neighbor,
lean down to pick up the paper,
go back into the house.

But the faint cries—ecstasy? horror?
Or did you think it the sound
of distant bees,
making only the thick honey of this good life?

"Bees" by Jane Hirshfield from The Lives of the Heart. © Harper Perennial, 1997.
HT: The Writer's Almanac


Yes and that is hello as in "hello-ooooo....", not as in "he-LLOO". I've been gone quite a while, but I hope I still have one reader! Even if I don't, I will still write, because this blog is mostly for the preservation of my quickly fading memory.
Where have I been the last few months? California, Illinois, Mexico, Nevada, you name it. I've also embarked on several new time-gulping endeavors, one of which involves a membership at the Y, and even though you can't see the evidence yet, I can feel the evidence, so that is encouraging. My friend Kim got me interested in swimming and amazingly, the very next week, Jenny suggested the idea of swimming every Saturday and setting some goals to motivate ourselves. She and I have been swimming every Saturday morning for several weeks now, and I've also been doing some evenings during the week. I did half a mile this last Saturday, which means I'm halfway to my goal. This all has gone just... swimmingly! Come on, you knew that was coming.
I've been cooking/baking up a storm lately - Thai coconut curry noodle, cinnamon bread, turkey soup, cornbread muffins (the best I've had yet), cherry-walnut cookies, dark chocolate freezer cookies (for Valentine's day, of course), cinnamon rolls (that turned out hard as a rock, will be trying those again), my favorite almond biscotti... This Friday is book club and it will be at my house - we'll be having an Irish theme dinner, including irish soda bread, corned beef, red cabbage & apples, potatoes, and a special surprise dessert that I'm still finalizing. I love to work in the kitchen. Lately it's been nearing obsession. I get home from work in the evening and my first thought is whether I have time to squeeze in a little baking before or after the other activities I have going on. Crazy!
Speaking of crazy, work has reached a near-frenetic pace (read: overtime every week since Thanksgiving) and while I love being this busy (boredom? what's that?), everyone in our office will be relieved when it's over... in June. Yes, 3 more months to go. We're in the middle of budget development, which means our tiny short-staffed group of 4 gets to tackle the entire biennial budget that normally should be handled by a staff of about 7. Throw in meetings with senior managers, elected officials, and department staff who are not necessarily "numbers" people, and you have a full day. Never mind the reports you have to write and the research you have to do while you're actually at your desk. However, I am not complaining... I am very grateful to have a job right now, when I know at least 3 of my friends who have been directly impacted by the economy by being laid off themselves or having their spouse laid off.
Ooh! "From the Top" is on... gotta go. I listen to this every Sunday afternoon.
Hope everyone out there is doing well and enjoying the time change (ha! ask me later).