Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What I'm reading . . .

Finished Swim the Fly and it was quick -- and laugh-out-loud funny!  Really enjoyed it.

The next on the list is Burn My Heart by Beverly Naidoo.  About race relations in Kenya in the 1950s, from the perspective of two teenage boys.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fun in the kitchen . . .

I had fun this weekend cooking.  On Sunday I made chili -- I won't give you the recipe, because I make it different every time, but my secret "standard" ingredient is chunky salsa.  I like the Mexican "zing" it gives the chili.

I wanted to make a caramel apple pie -- with apples I picked from the farm on Sunday!  All the recipes I found were for double crust pies, which I don't care for.  So, I melted some caramel (about 1/2 a bag) or you could use caramel sauce.  I poured a layer of caramel in the bottom of the crust before I put the apples in.  Then, I made the usual French apple crumb topping (1 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 cup cold butter).  I drizzled the rest of the caramel on top of the crumb topping.  It was YUMMY!

Also got the bread machine out, to practice making rolls for the holidays.  I make dinner rolls, caramel rolls, and use the same recipe for pizza crust!  But, I wanted to try it with some whole wheat flour and Splenda.  The dinner rolls I made were delicious -- not much different than the originals, so I'm happy with that.  Tonight I'm making pizza with the other half of the dough.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What I'm Reading Now . . .

I finished Finding Nouf and liked it.  It is a murder mystery, and I didn't figure out who did it before the end, so that's always a positive.  I learned a lot about the Muslim religion and beliefs and still find it hard to believe that the women tolerate such a life.  Not only the segregation and having to wear the burqa, but the fact that, if you are rich and have servants, you sit around all day and do nothing.  You always end up fat, and it would seem to be also a very unhealthy existence.  A really enlightening look at that culture.

I've decided on something lighter this time.  Swim the Fly by Don Calame.  I read some positive reviews of this book before it was even published.   It's about some teenagers who make a summertime goal to see a real-live naked girl for the first time.  Sounds like a fun read -- and it looks like it will be a quick one too.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Here's how I make pork fried rice . . .

I have no idea if this is how the experts make it, but this is one of my husband's favorite meals.

Heat 1/4 cup oil in large skillet.  Add 4 cups cooked rice.  Fry the rice until it starts to brown.  Add 3 or 4 chopped green onions, 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 Tbsp. Wostershire sauce, 3Tbsp. soy sauce, hot sauce to taste, 2 cups of cut up cooked meat (I usually saute a few pork  chops).  Cook until onions are tender.  Crack three eggs in a bowl and scramble them.  Make a hole in the middle of the rice and pour the eggs into the skillet.  Just stir them into the rice as they cook.  You can add 1/2 cup slivered almonds.  Add 1 cup frozen peas and cook until heated through.  At the last minute add 1 Tbsp of sesame oil -- this is the absolutely essential secret ingredient!

Some people add carrots, green peppers, or other veggies too.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Last night's dinner . . .

I made Broiled Tilapia Parmesan, which was really good.  I also made Tomato Pea Couscous, which was in my Taste of Home Busy Family Cookbook.  The recipe link here is correct, but the recipe in the cookbook says 1/2 CUP of cumin, instead of 1/2 TEASPOON.  Don't worry, I didn't use 1/2 cup, but I did use more than 1/2 teaspoon!  It tasted OK, but this was my first experiment with couscous, and it was very dry.  It needed more moisture, so I wouldn't recommend this recipe.  I'm going to keep trying with the couscous, though.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Annual Weenie Roast

This past weekend we had the family weenie roast at my sister's house.  All the "grandkids" were there!  That never happens, so it was quite the occasion.  We roasted hot dogs on the bonfire and s'mores too.  I brought apples to slice and caramel and nuts to make caramel apples in a bowl.  It was a beautiful, sunny fall day and we enjoyed it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What I'm reading . . .

Sewing machine still hasn't returned, and I'm really antsy to sew.   Bought some new embroidery patterns (http://www.emblibrary.com/ gets me every time . . .) and I'm anxious to try them.  Some patterns are for halloween, so I hope the machine returns soon!

Anyway, I finished Isolation Ward and really enjoyed it.   I was in the mood for a suspense, and this one fit the bill.  It takes some interesting twists and turns, and there is some witty dialog that I enjoyed.  The main character is kind of a hot head and does some stupid things, which is frustrating, but adds to the story.  The book has been compared to a Michael Crichton story, so if you like that sort of thing, you should try it.

Now I have started "Finding Nouf," by Zoe Ferraris.  A "taut psychological suspense" that takes place in Saudi Arabia.  A young girl is murdered and her Saudi family doesn't seem very interested in solving the crime.  So far, so good, but the print is way, way tiny.  Don't know if there's a large print available.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What's cooking . . .

My daughter is home from college for the weekend so I made her some muffins to take back.  We almost always have some sort of muffin around, hopefully a healthy, high fiber one.  These "Heath Nut Blueberry Muffins" from Allrecipes.com are our favorite.  The only change I make to the recipe is that I use pecans instead of walnuts (actually for my daugher, I leave out the nuts.)  Also, I use Splenda Blend in place of the sugar (remember to use only 1/2 the amount.)

Friday, October 16, 2009

What's cooking . . .

Last night I was in the mood for soup.  Couldn't decide what kind, but I wanted something creamy.  I wondered if I could make a fettuccine alfredo type soup.  Somewhat healthier than the original.  I searched the web for recipes, but didn't find anything.  So I decided to create.  My husband said the result "tasted wierd," but he's not an alfredo fan, and was expecting a more traditional chicken noodle soup.  Here's what I did, and I thought is was pretty good.

Cook 4 chicken breasts in olive oil (salt and pepper.)  Remove from pan and cut up.
Add 4 cloves of garlic to the pan and saute for a minute.
Add 3 cups of chicken stock and 3 cups of water to the pan and bring to a boil.
Add 1/2 pound of fettuccine noodles (broken up) and boil for 10 minutes.
Add 1/2 cup of sour cream, 1/2 cup of cream cheese (I used low fat for both), 1/4 cup butter.
Add 1 to 2 cups of milk (you could use cream here, or 1/2 & 1/2 if you want it richer)
Add 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese.
Add salt & pepper
Whisk until smooth.  Add the chicken back to the pan.

Add some fresh parsley right before serving.

What I would change:  I think I would use macaroni or some other type noodle.  Even though the fettuccine was broken, it still kept sliding off the spoon.  You could also add some peas or greens like spinach or kale to make it even healthier.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What's cooking . . .

Last night I made homemade granola bars.  I've made them several times and we really like them.  The recipe is one of Ina Garten's from Food Network.  It's quick and easy to make, and a sweet treat that's relatively healthy.  So far, I've made it just like the recipe says (which is unusual for me), but I'm sure you could use different types of fruit if you wanted to.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Second Trip in the New Camper

We had a great time this weekend in the camper.  All the comforts of home, but much more relaxing.  It rained for about the first 20 hours of camping -- one thing's for sure -- no leaks!  The weather the rest of the weekend was sunny and nice.  The sailboats on the lake were beautiful and we enjoyed the fall air.  It was a challenge to build a fire with wet wood, so we didn't stay out too late in the evenings.  But . . . we brought the old Nintendo and I played Super Mario and Mario Cart.  What a blast from the past!  The kids and I used to play these games when they were little.  Can't wait to go on another camping trip.

Monday, October 12, 2009

What I'm Reading Now . . .

I finished Beautiful Miscellaneous this weekend and really liked it. It's a story of a teenage boy trying to grow up in a very idiosyncratic family. Not much action, but a good story. I started Isolation Ward, by Joshusa Spanogle. It's a medial thriller, like Robin Cook's books. I heard about this book on my Book Lover's Calendar that I had last year. I saved all the pages that had books I thought sounded interesting, and this was one of them. I'll let you know . . .

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Spoiled Ones

Here's some pictures of our "babies." They keep us occupied and entertained. They play together nicely, and love running on the farm and camping with us.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What I'm sewing . . .

Actually, these days I'm not sewing anything. My machine is in the shop -- been breaking many needles lately. Here's a picture of a "work in progress." I'm embroidering flowers on all my cloth baskets that I use to store stuff in my sewing room. I have completed some of them -- each sew out takes about 90 minutes -- so I need to have a large block of time. I'm working on them as I can get to them. I was inspired by a picture in an embroidery magazine -- before seeing it, I didn't realize those covers came off. They are all "velcroed" on. Who knew!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What I'm reading . . .

I'm currently reading a book called "The Beautiful Miscellaneous" by Dominic Smith. About a kid who gets a head injury and becomes a savant -- he can memorize anything. The condition he has is called synesthesia. One of the reasons I like it is because of his genius father, who wants so much for his son to also be a genius. It adds a lot of humor to the books.