For some reason, bran seems to have a bad reputation. When I was young, my mom made these wonderful Raisin Bran muffins sometimes, and I really liked the bran taste of them. I spent some time recently looking for a more grown up version of bran muffins (one in which the raisins were not sugar-coated), and found a good one on the back of the wheat bran package. They are very yummy in that mild, unassuming way that bran has. Also very easy to make.
1 c. wheat bran
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
3/4 c. raisins
1/4 c. chopped nuts
1 c. milk
1/2 c. honey
3/4 c. apple sauce
2 T cooking oil
2 eggs, beaten
Preheat oven to 400. In large bowl, combine flour, bran, baking powder and soda. Stir in raisins and nuts. In separate bowl combine milk, honey, apple sauce, oil and eggs. Add to dry ingredients and stir till just moistened. Spoon into greased or paper lined muffin tin. Fill cups nearly to top. Bake 20-25 minutes, till a toothpick comes out dry and clean.
My friend Sheri got a few bottles of Trader Joe's Three Buck Chuck Beaujolais and does not love it. Now she's got two bottles of wine she doesn't want to drink. I told her about this recipe I have that is great for wine you don't love, or any dry red wine. Also it's perfect for Christmas Eve.
2 bottles red wine
10 c. apple cider
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. whole cloves (plus extra for studding the orange)
2 tsp. whole allspice
2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
2 oranges, studded with cloves
Heat wine, cider, sugar, cloves, allspice, cinnamon to boiling, reduce heat. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Stud oranges with cloves, quarter the oranges, then add to pot. Remove all seasoning except oranges, serve in mugs. Keep it on a low heat on the stovetop.
N.B. I like to use cheesecloth or a cut off toe of nylon stockings to put the cloves, allspice, and cinnamon in; this makes removing them very easy.
In the past few days I've received two requests from two separate people to do a new blog entry. They even gave me ideas. The first person encouraged me to make cookies so I could blog about it. I did make the cookies, and have decided I do not love the classic Joy of Cooking peanut butter cookie recipe. Not moist enough for me. The second suggested I blog about the experience of being featured on a News 13 story. Ok.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving Phil and I went to Mass Ave Toys. We didn't need any toys, but it's a neat store, and we'd seen a spot on channel 13 about Local Merchant Saturday or something. You know, you've got Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and now Local Merchant Saturday. It's a stupid gimmick of a day, but I do really like the shops on Mass Ave, and wanted to take Phil into some of my favorites. When we got to Mass Ave Toys the news gal and cameraman were headed back into the store. We held the door for them, told them we'd seen them on the morning news, which prompted them to ask us for an interview. Uhhhhh. I shoulda known not to be friendly to TV people... many years ago I saw some TV people I knew at the Festival of Trees. I said 'hi' and they said 'let us interview you!' Don't say hi to TV people. So, they miked Phil, and used a clip of him saying, 'this smells kinda good.' It also happened to be the day winter arrived in Indianapolis, so Phil, having left his winter hat in Illinois, had to use a stupid old baseball cap from my trunk. Before we left the house I told him he looked a little cancer patient-ish. Then he was interviewed on TV. All in all it was super funny and fun and goofy. We got a lot of laughs, watching the video clip about 11 times on my aunt's DVR.
Now I'm sitting here in my cold cold house in this cold cold city, listening to Christmas music. Elvis is singing 'Here Comes Santa Claus.' A few songs ago they played Frank Sinatra. I love Christmas music, and have been listening to it at home and in the car for about two weeks. One of the worst songs is on now... the one that goes, 'HERE come the bells, blah-blah the bells,' etc. That song sounds more like a war chant than a Christmas carol. Oh, and while I was washing dishes tonight they played my all-time favorite (well, one of them)-- that Bing Crosby/David Bowie duet of Little Drummer Boy.
And in closing, I killed one of the worst spiders ever today. I was almost out the door to go to work and saw just a totally disgusting spider, the likes of which I've never seen before, hanging out there on the wall. Grabbed the most substantial shoe I could find, and shuddered as I felt it squoosh (what? I think I'm trying to use a word that doesn't exist). Ugh. I thought about it all the way to work. So horrible. Why are people so afraid of spiders? And mice, and all that stuff? I am really afraid of all of it. I almost called Henry over to eat the spider, but I am proud to say I just sucked it up and handled it like the adult I am.
I don't like alfredo sauce very much by itself, but I like it mixed with marinara. Tonight's bold experiment: alfredo mixed with pesto. I'd bought the alfredo earlier this week with the plan of mixing it with marinara, but plans change, I guess. This was the best dinner this week since the Persian salad! So, pesto-alfredo, especially atop spinach pasta and sprinkled with crushed red pepper, is a winner!
After rallying to restore sanity to America last week we stopped at a suburban strip mall to carry out semi-fast food. We'd thought about sitting down in a restaurant to eat, but sometimes you just don't want to pay 2.5 times the retail value for a bottle of wine, you know? And you know when you're traveling with Steve there's always wine in the trunk. Anyway, Mom and Steve got Chipotle, and Phil and I got Moby Dick. You know, Moby Dick-- that Persian carry out chain.
Maybe it was 'cause I hadn't had anything but fruit leather for like 13 hours, but I really liked the Moby Dick. They had this wonderful little cup of dressing or something that was limey and minty and delicious. I put some of that on my lamb kabob with lettuce, onion, cuke, feta, and olives, and I was in heaven (I gave the tomato to Phil, natch).
Anyway, being the great human he is, Phil just found me a couple of online recipes for Iranian salad dressing, so I just had a mock Moby Dick dinner. I'd got a lamb kebob at Fresh Market today, and put that atop the old lettuce-onion-feta-olive-cuke salad, and topped it with the Iranian dressing. Sooo good.
4 T lime juice
4 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T water
2 T finely chopped fresh mint
dash of salt and pepper
Combine all and serve over salad or use as a marinade. Love it!!
It's no secret I really like the area of southern Illinois where Phil lives. Everywhere you look it's rolling hills and wineries that use locally grown grapes and fruits. It's pretty and it's laid-back and I appreciate the opportunity I've had to get to know a part of the country I didn't even know existed.
Last weekend Crystal and I drove the doggies down to Murphysboro. Chad arrived the next afternoon on his motorbike, and when Phil returned from a computer think in Kansas City a bit later in the afternoon, we all enjoyed all that Murphsyboro has to offer. Seriously, the town has like 3 cool things. Of course we visited several wineries. I took this picture from the deck/porch/pavilion thing at Hedeman Winery, where we had coffee and pie.
Look out for the big bug in the tree! This is from the tiny town of Makanda, where hippie artisans half-assed a secret garden.
One of the bestest things about Murphysboro is the Apple Fest. Crystal and I went to the parade. It was like 2 hours long-- now THAT'S a parade! More pics from Apple Fest to come, if I can find them....
I like cooking, especially for other people, but it's pretty nice to have someone cook for me once and awhile. Vacation week was filled with delicious food prepared by some of my lovely and talented friends.
The Laheys rocked the house with their veggie-fied chicken and noodles. I especially liked the addition of diced red peppers.
Laheys also provided a quick breakfast for Phil and me when they accidentally made too many microeggs. I believe each coffee cup contained two beaten eggs, cheese, green onions and lunch meat. Microwave for two minutes and here's breakfast! I had a piece of toast too. I think Laheys made like an egg mcmuffin-type thing. And if you use just one egg you just have to microwave for one minute.
Hartmans made a delish shredded chicken for burrito night. I think they put peppers, onions, and Mexican spices in a crockpot with several chicken breasts and let it simmer all day. I mean, I know they used the crockpot and the chicken, and I think I saw some pepper cutting early in the day, and I think I recall John talking about cumin. Roy's legendary guacamole is not shown, but was wonderful.
We were served a surprise meal in Raleigh before we headed back home. Annie got up early enough to home-make hashbrowns, poach eggs, and cook or re-heat and thinly slice whatever kind of beef that is for her upscale steak and eggs. Don't forget the basil garnish! This was a killah breakfast.
Wondering why the first and third photos look so good in this post? They were professionally photographed by Mark Lahey, of Mark Lahey Images. If you need a photographer for an upcoming event, find him on facebook. Or ask me for his number.
You remember those posts, when I was unemployed and cooked all the time? Ahhh, those were the days. Now that I'm employed most of my meals are microwaved, and I don't think you'd be interested in seeing a steaming bowl of frozen Indian food, so I don't photograph that stuff.
Also, lots of great stuff happened on vacation last week, so I'll post copious amounts of pics and tales soon!
I don't really expect everyone who reads this blog to go out and make the things I post-- I like to post winning recipes here so I can remember what was good and what it looked like. This is kinda like my recipe book, I guess. So, here's another Thai dish that is super good. It's got the same peppers-onions-chicken/pork that the other Thai stirfry has, but it tastes very different. The other one is very basil-y, and this one is hotter. There are other differences, too, but it's hard to describe them. If you really do want to know, then you should make both dishes and see for yourself how they're different. I love making the other one for people, and I will also love making this one for people. Just to shake things up a bit I will serve this one with noodles (I serve the other with rice).
This recipe was adapted from a recipe in that Thai cookbook I got Phil for his birthday.
Thai Stirfry II
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1 lb sliced pork tenderloin or chicken breast
2 lg. bell peppers, sliced
1 lg. red onion, sliced
1-2 seeded jalapenos, chopped
1 1/2 t. red chili flakes
2 T sugar
4 T fish sauce
4 T soy sauce
1/2 c. lime juice
1 T cornstarch
2 T water
5-6 T peanut or veg. oil
First off, make the sauce and set aside: combine lime juice, soy and fish sauces, sugar, and red chili flakes. Also make the thickening agent and set aside: combine cornstarch and water.
Put the skillet/wok over med-high to high heat, add a couple T of oil, throw in the diced anchovy and garlic. Stir around about 30 seconds then add the meat. Coat meat with oil and anchovy/garlic, stirfry a few minutes until mostly done. Remove from pan. Add another one or two T oil, add veggies. Stirfry a few minutes, until almost done. Add meat back in, add sauce, stir to coat. Bring to a boil, add thickening agent, let boil a minute or two. Serve over Asian noodles or rice.
Look at how much my sister loves margaritas! Hee hee! Perhaps the after-Cebolla pics from Matty's apartment will make it onto his blog. Anyway, we had a great dinner after spending the afternoon at Mom's house with a bunch of little kids.
Laura and Phil each have a kid on their back, there's another little boy on the ladder, and behind him is their big sis Alannah. Lots of kids at Mom's last week.
Luckily Steve kept Mom and me satiated with garden jalapeno poppers and cold Chimay. These baked poppers were really good-- maybe mom will link the recipe here for us.
Then Henry and Izzy had crazy cousin time. Look, it's like they're holding hands!
It's been a tough past week or two at work. It is not easy to be kind and caring to the public for 40 hours a week. I don't care what's wrong with everyone, and what hurts and how it got hurt and what their doctors think. Also, I don't care if my radiologists think we coulda got better pictures on that one guy's knee, or we need to add a contrast injection to that lady's scan. The blanket warmer's empty? The laundry baskets are full? Someone needs a copy of his scan burned onto a CD right away? Don't care.
It's been too hot out for too long, I'm sick of having a long-distance relationship and I need a vacation. Luckily, I have one coming up.
Sauce 2 2 tablespoons oyster sauce 4 tablespoons water 1 teaspoon chili paste
Sauce 3 1 teaspoon cornstarch 2 tablespoons water
(I usually make an extra batch of Sauce 3, just in case the sauce is a bit thin)
Heat oil in wok. Stir-fry onions and peppers until crisp tender. Remove and keep warm.
Add a bit more oil to wok if needed and stir-fry chicken, garlic, and pepper flakes until chicken is done. Add sauces in order, stirring between each addition to coat. Add cooked vegetables back and stir to coat.
Add basil, stirring just until hot and beginning to wilt. Serve over rice.
We got a four day weekend last week, so Phil, Hen and I went to Fort Wayne to see a Tin Caps game. I guess I took this picture as soon as we got there, because for most of our time at the ballpark it was cloudy and sprinkling. Then there was a bit of thunder and lightening. We made it to about the 5th inning, I think. It seems they played the whole game, 'cause while sitting over at a bar on Wayne Street we heard the fireworks. Maybe next year we'll get in an entire game...
After a fun day in Fort Wayne we went up to the Lauer's lake. This is a good lake because there aren't tons of boats all around and the cabin is really cute. It was so so so awesome to fall asleep under an open window, all cozied up with blankets. And Henry, oh my gosh. He loves going to the lake... he just tears up and down the hill from the cabin to the shore. He's so cute.
I brought back a bunch of corn from lake country and boiled it all up to freeze. These are cobs waiting to be de-kerneled. Once the kernels were removed, I spread them in a single layer on several cookie sheets, froze them, then packed the kernels in quart sized freezer bags. Kinda time-intensive, but fun. It'll be neat to have delicious farm-fresh corn this fall and winter.
A ton of fun stuff has been happening this summer, and here are some of the highlights...
On July 3rd members of my family and I attended Symphony on the Prairie, where the Indianapolis Symphony plays outside at Conner Prairie. It was so great. There were thousands and thousands of people there, enjoying one of the few non-humid evenings of the summer. After a wonderful performance of American-type songs there was a great fireworks display. This is a great event that everyone should go see.
After the July 4th fireworks we conducted an official IPA- off. Contenders: Bell's Two Hearted Ale and New Belgium's Ranger. At the taste-off Crystal, Chad and I all sided with the Bell's, and Phil preferred the Ranger. But tonight, when I drank one of each again, I think I might be shifting to a Ranger preference. It just took me about 10 tries to spell 'preference' correctly.
A few weeks ago Crystal, Chad, Phil, and I were sitting on the back porch. Crystal mentioned having recently read about a taco truck in a parking lot in Broad Ripple, so we took off in search of said tacos. They were good and beefy and spicy, and got us out to Broad Ripple on a Saturday night! It was pretty fun, really-- not the jerk-fest I'd always thought it would be. Well, there were certainly lots of jerks around, but we had fun walking about and drinking at a dive bar where they played Punk Rock Girl by the Dead Milkmen.
This is my favorite pie to eat and make. It's peach-blueberry with cayenne and brandy. It's not a pie for wimps. We had this just before going to Broad Ripple for tacos.
And this is right now. Chad and Crystal are in Fort Wayne for the night, so I have both dogs here with me. They are doing their best to constantly keep tabs on one another while seeming non chalant about it. This is a skill upon which they could improve. What I love most about this picture is that their little paws are touching. How cute!
From the first episode of the first season of Mad Men, I was head over heels. I was hesitant to watch Mad Men because it gets too much praise, but it turns out it's totally worthy. I've been trying to determine why I like this show so much, and it seems there are four reasons I'm so into Mad Men.
1. It's aesthetically pleasing. The actors are perfect. The main guy, Don, and his wife Betty are as attractive as people come. Who doesn't like to look at pretty people? The people in the office are perfect, from the squirrely young guy with questionable morals to the Marilyn-esque office manager. And the clothes they all wear are gorge. I've always loved 50s/60s style, and this show takes authenticity very seriously (it seems to this person born in the 70s). Also, the sets are great. I love the Drapers' home, with it's plaid kitchen wallpaper and padded headboard.
2. I think one thing that makes this show so different is it's understated nature. Things nowdays are so loud and bright and quick; I hate that stuff. I just looked up 'understated' on thesaurus.com and I'm seeing words like 'simple,' 'classic,' 'elegant,' 'restrained,' 'low key,' and 'subtle.' Those are all words I love, and all words that describe the quite demeanor of Mad Men.
3. Mad Men is a very adult television show. In every scene someone's drinking, smoking, or cheating on a spouse. Often all three. The great thing about all this debauchery is that understatedness. Also, it's adult in a way that I think would bore a younger audience. The issues faced in the Draper home or in the offices of Sterling Cooper are mature issues-- social change, family problems, workplace politics.
4. I love the mindset of this era, the need to keep up appearances. Private life is private, and it's nobody's business. That's all I need to say about that.
So, go rent seasons 1-3. Season 4 begins at the end of July on AMC. I need to work out a deal with my aunt so she'll let me come over to watch it, since I don't have cable.
Of course it's important to stay hydrated when it's hot out. To celebrate the longest day of the year I uncorked a bottle of Summer Solstice from Turtle Run Winery (Corydon, IN). Quite tasty and refreshing on this long, humid day.
This is the peapod and seafood stirfry I did. Garden onions satueed with garlic, add the seafood medly mix from Trader Joes (a frozen bag of raw shrimp, bay scallops, and rings of calamari), toss in peapods and add a bit of stir-fry sauce and voila! Super yummy.
And here's the Thai salad Phil made for himself yesterday... he spoke highly of this, and it looks and sounds really great. He compared it to nachos... every bite is different from the previous. One bite is lime-cucumber, the next bite is chicken-sesame-celery, etc. Looks like a great summer meal!
4 inches of cucumber
2 skinless chicken breasts
3 small celery stalks (finely sliced)
3 Scallions thickly sliced
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
3 red or small green chilies thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh mint finely chopped
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sesame oil
cut the cucumber in half and scrape out the seeds, cut crosswise and then cut each piece into matchsticks
poach the chicken breasts then shred then add all the ingredients and mix. Mix all liquid ingredients prior to adding into the bowl.
Gratuitous shot of my off-the-charts adorable dog. He loves to travel. This pic was taken on the way to his vacation with his favorite dog-sitters. C'mon, look at this guy!!!
The garden at Mom and Steve's is starting to produce and look beautiful. Steve is letting some of his leeks and onions go to bloom/seed to see what will happen. They look really cool. I made a delicious dinner (to be pictured next time) from garden onions and pea pods. I'm not always a fan of pea pods, but you can't go wrong with straight from the garden. I was at Mom and Steve's for a couple hours yesterday afternoon and enjoyed pulling up the pea plants and finding the last of the pods. Delish!
They do three green bean arbors in their garden, which are starting to fill in nicely.
The summer is officially completely booked-- there is some commitment every weekend between now and October. I think I have about one weekend a month in FW, though, so I can visit the garden. And my family, but the garden too. Also, We got tickets for a Tincaps game, which is very exciting. We went a few times last summer and had so much fun, and this year's game will be the start of our mini-vacay... the day after the game we'll go up to the Lauer's lake for a few days. Last year Henry was a hoot at the lake, so I expect much doggy cuteness again this year.
Of course, can't wait for the summer to zing by, since that means it'll be closer to the time when Phil gets to move here. Also it means maybe I'll be able to turn of the a/c!
Yeah, right. It's hot, it's humid, it's (almost) summertime. I'm not here to complain about the insane weather we've had of late... well I kinda am, I guess. Giant severe storms! Super uncomfortable temps! I don't like it!
Every Saturday and Tuesday or Wednesday they have live music at Easley Winery, but last weekend's performance was ill attended. Maybe because it was so HOT and HUMID! The guy played good songs, though, and was fun.
It was so hot and humid that we couldn't stand to stay outside, which meant Italianfest and Fulton Street Art Fair will have to wait 'till next year, so we went to Brugge for incredible mussels, frites, and microbrews. This was a dark, hoppy beer called Deep Dark Secret. Mollie and I had hanger steaks and Dad had the mussels steamed with chilis, cilantro and garlic.
My grandmother loved enjoying a good, dark beer at Germanfest, so after the funeral several of us went to Headwaters to raise a glass to Gram.
Miles and Janette
a few Hague men
I haven't been able to spend too much time with my step-sibs and their families, so I considered this afternoon to be a treat. Now that I live closer, I look forward to spending more time with my extended family.
My grandmother was her own person. She enjoyed traveling, socializing, and bargain-hunting, but most of all she enjoyed her independence. For as long as I can remember she insisted she never wanted to be a burden in old age, so I guess she left this life the way she wanted-- in her own home.
I thought we had many more years with her, but I guess lots of people think that when they lose someone special. In the past five years I traveled lots of places with Grandma-- California, New York, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, and she always kept up with whatever I wanted to do. She probably even took a walk before I woke up most mornings.
Also, she always, always made sure we were taken care of. And she was happy to welcome new people into the family, from friends and boyfriends to the step-kids of her step-grandkids.
This picture was taken in 2005, when Mom, Gram, and I visited several wineries in/around Santa Barbara, California.
Look at the cool new bikes I got tonight! Well, 'new' might not be the most appropriate description, but I think they're really cool. A woman at work has a husband who buys up old bikes and re-sells them. He has a garage-ful of bikes, so I hammered out a deal with him to get these two bikes plus a bike rack for a price we were both happy with. There's a community garage sale in Woodruff Place this weekend-- how cool would it be to bike over there? I'm pretty excited. Both bikes are ready to ride, just need to be wiped down a bit and have some minor seat adjustments.
The more time I spend with these bikes, the more I love this red one. It's mostly for Phil to ride, but I might use it when he's not around. But I think this one is great, too. I really feel more comfortable on girl bikes. Also, it has the neat little rack on the front tire so I can bungee my library books down!
So, when you come to visit me in Indy, be sure to bring your bicycle shorts! I live right by the Monon Trail, which goes straight to Broad Ripple (it's about 4 miles away, I think). Also very close: Mass Ave, Easley Winery, the Circle. Can't wait!