Thursday, July 29, 2010

Why haven't I been sewing . . .

I've had a big project to finish, so I haven't allowed myself to sew anything else until it is finished.  Well, it is finished.  I have made quilts for all my nieces and my daughter and son when they graduate from high school.  Most of them have gone away to college, so they have used these quilts for their dorm rooms.  I let them give me some idea of what colors or style they would like.  I just completed my 9th quilt.  My niece wanted "purple and teal."  And she likes peace signs.  So this is what I came up with.  I hope she likes it.  I found a purple fabric for the backing that actually says "peace" all over it!  I have two more nieces -- but they are young, so it will be a while before I have another quilt to make. (I have nine nieces and no nephews!)

I went to the fabric store today and spent a bunch of money on garment sewing projects for "back to school!"  I'm excited to get started on them.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Black Bean Burgers

I made these vegetable and bean burgers last night for supper.  I added some worcestershire sauce and some steak seasoning.  I had to use more bread crumbs, and they still had trouble staying together.  I thought they tasted good, but they were a little bland.  I put lettuce, tomato, and avocado on the burger.  I think they needed some jalapeno and/or some more spices or maybe some barbeque sauce or hoisin sauce.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Silver Phoenix

I was drawn to this book because of the beautiful cover -- Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon.  It was a good fantasy adventure book that was easy to read.  I think many young adults will like it.  For me, though, I found it very predictable.  When the heroine has magical powers, no situation seems as dire because she just uses her powers to get out of each predicament.  The magic just seemed to make it easy to tell a story where the main characters consistently get into trouble because there's always a way to get them out.  The clothes, food, and magical cities and beings were very well described and Pon has created an intriguing fantasy world.

Friday, July 23, 2010

When your family owns an orchard . . .

It's peach season!  My family's favorite fruit.  So, my husband brought some home and decided to make a peach cocktail.  We blended about 4 peaches, 1/2 banana, 1/4 c. peach schnapps, 1/2 cup rum, 2 Tbsp. sugar, and about 2 cups of ice.  Yummy!

I also made Bourbon Peach Cobbler from my Food Network Magazine.  I used Splenda instead of sugar, soy milk instead of cream, and Smart Balance Butter.  It didn't fluff up as much as the picture in the magazine, but it was still good.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Yummy Recipes!

This Greek Pasta Salad recipe came from my friend, Tina, The Sunday Cook.  I made it for a family potluck dinner and it was GREAT.  Thanks, Tina!

I also made Coconut muffins from my muffin cookbook that I've mentioned several times before.  These aren't the most healthy muffins I've made (I used soy milk, 1/2 whole wheat flour, and Smart Balance butter to help, though.)  They are yummy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

What a great book.  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson has been written about many times.  It has been very popular.  It's a long book, and doesn't draw you immediately in.  Since it was translated from Swedish, the references to Swedish culture, people, and places confused me at first.  But I decided that those details must not matter, otherwise this book wouldn't be so popular. 

The plot unfolds very slowly but the character development is fascinating (I know, it's not usual for me to like that sort of writing.)  I couldn't put the book down; I found myself thinking about what was going on and what could possibly be the outcome at times when I wasn't reading the book.  I grew to like the main characters, Blomkvist and Salander.  They are very unlikely characters to be in the same book, but the way their lives end up twined together is masterful.

My only complaint is that I thought there were some loose ends that I wish had been addressed by the end of the book.  I don't want to talk about specifics, because I don't want to spoil the book for anyone else. Give this one a try.  Give it 50 to 100 pages before you decide . . .

Monday, July 19, 2010

Spicy Kung Pao Noodles

I made this tonight and it was very good.  Very spicy, though.  I used Anaheim peppers instead of serranos.  Maybe that was why.  Very nice sweet/spicy flavor and easy to make.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


A good (not great) Twilight-type book is Lament by Maggie Stiefvater.  This is a book about fairies, not vampires, but still has some tension and romance.  I thought it was entertaining and fairly well-written.  It is the first in a series called The Faerie Queen's  Deception.  The second in the series is called Ballad.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Death of an Expert Witness

I finished P.D. James Death of an Expert Witness.  It took me a while.  It was a good book-- kind of a classic.  James gets rave reviews as a mystery writer.  I must admit, I never knew who did it until about the last 10 pages, which is a good thing.  The book is very "literary."  Every character and scene is meticulously described.  I decided you just have to enjoy the process of reading and the rhythm of her descriptions.  Remember, I'm a plot person, so sometimes I become impatient.  I've heard of this book for a long time (it was written in 1977) and not long ago read a positive review of it, so I decided it would be on my reading list.  I'm glad I read it but I don't think I'll read any of her other books.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Made-Up Orzo Pasta

A thrown-together recipe that turned out pretty good:

Cook 1/2 lb. orzo pasta according to package directions.

Saute in olive oil:

4 oz mushrooms
1 small zucchini, cubed
1/2 green pepper
1/2 onion
1 clove garlic

When the veggies are nice and tender, add:

6 sundried tomatoes in oil chopped finely
2 Tbsp. of the oil from the tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 small can sliced black olives
1/2 cup of the pasta water

When the sauce is nicely heated, add the pasta.  Add some chopped fresh basil right before serving.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza

I haven't really cooked anything new that is worth posting about lately, but tonight I made a new recipe for Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza.  It turned out pretty good.  I used pepperoni on half the pizza instead of sausage.  I also used two tablespoons of sugar instead of two teaspoons.  We like our crust a little sweet.  I also used half whole wheat flour for the crust and added some onions to the toppings.  I thought the tomatoes weren't enough of a "sauce."  It was kind of dry.  Next time I would add some tomato sauce or pizza sauce to the "sauce."  The crust was good -- not as good as my sweet roll dough crust, but healthier.  I like the deep dish stye -- cooking in a 13 x 9 inch casserole dish, so I may try that with my own dough and sauce next time.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Moment of Truth

Moment of Truth, by Lisa Scottoline is a murder mystery about a father who admits to murdering his wife because he believes his daughter actually committed the crime.  The outcome is somewhat predictable, although there are some interesting twists and turns.  I liked the interplay of the lawyer, Mary, and the accused, who is also a lawyer.  The detectives and district attorney are also interesting characters.  I thought it was an entertaining read, not the best mystery I've ever read, but I enjoyed it.