Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year, New Start: Day 2

clip_image002(Reminder: 5 minutes or less, you can do this!)

One of your holiday decorations is looking a little tired. Its “ho ho ho” has “go go gone.” Don’t store it for another year and decide to toss it next December. Do it now. If it doesn’t make you smile with joy, it hasn’t earned its spot.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year, New Start: Day 1

clip_image002[7] This project is guaranteed to make you feel better about yourself and your surroundings. It's easy, won't cost you a penny, and doesn't require any more exercise than walking to your trash can. Post "done" when you're finished and pat yourself on the back! This is not about setting goals you can’t meet or resolving to do something that only induces guilt later. Feel free to share with friends.

Rules (or “Suggestions” if the “R word” makes you uncomfortable and/or rebellious.) – Each task should take less than five minutes. Don’t be tempted to get sucked in and spend all day. Prove to yourself that you can accomplish measurable progress quickly. Each task  is for you and you alone. If you want a family member to join in, fine, but they need to accomplish their own tasks. You can’t do it for them.  Ready? Here we go…

Somewhere in your sock drawer there is an unmatched sock that has been there for ages. There is no hope for this poor singleton. There is no e-hosiery-harmony and this thing will never find its partner. Throw it out.

Congratulations! You’re on your way.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What’s Cooking Wednesday: “May I Have More Zucchini Please?”

zucchini When my 6th grade nephew asked for more green veggies, his mom about flipped! His dad, my brother, and I figured that it must be the bacon. The secret to any good vegetable recipe? Bacon. In case you have any finicky eaters at your house, I’m here to help. From Donald Link’s Real Cajun, comes this recipe for Smothered Okra & Tomatoes. What we can learn: 1. If your grocery store is out of okra and you don’t have a mess from your garden, use zucchini. 2. This spicy tomato sauce is so wonderful, that you might find yourself using it on just about everything (eggs, grits, rice, potatoes, pasta, green beans…. I made extra and used it with fresh spinach the next night). Enjoy!

Okra & Tomatoes
(Or forget the okra and just make the sauce! It’s a wonder of fresh herby, spicy deliciousness!)
1 T. bacon fat
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 T. tomato paste
3 plum tomatoes, diced
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
4 bay leaves
1 t. chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 1/3 chicken broth
(3 c. okra sauteed in 2 T. olive oil)
In a medium skillet heat bacon fat over medium-high heat. Add the onion, jalapeno, and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, salt and pepper, bay leaves, rosemary, red pepper flakes and vinegar. Cook for 10 minutes, until the tomatoes start to break down and form something of a paste, then add the broth and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes longer over low heat. (Stir into the sauteed green veggies of your choice. )

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ten For Tuesday: Cookbook Connections

cookbooks This is my cookbook shelf. Actually, this is just the main cookbook shelf (I have auxiliaries). I know this is the time of year when we’re all on a mission to declutter and pare down, but here are 10 books that have earned their spot. You’ll probably notice a trend.
10. Special Mexican Dishes: Easy & Simple to Prepare by Amalia Ruiz Clark. When I was in college in Tucson, I interned at a cooking school called The Tasting Spoon. That turned into a part-time job where I was paid in free classes and leftovers. (Steve did not complain! We were probably the only UofA students eating Beef Wellington.)  Mrs. Clark  taught me how to make tamales and even gave me an autographed copy of her book.
9. Renee’s Recipes. The blue binder was a wedding gift from a family friend in Tucson and contained many of her favorite recipes. Judy left plenty of space for me to add my own and it is now overflowing. On the first page of the section marked “Sweet Stuff” she included a picture of a precious baby along with the instructions “Don’t make one of these until you finish college.” (Sorry, Judy. I never was one to follow a recipe exactly.)
8. & 7. Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Julia Child & Company. We know who wrote these two! My mother-in-law Dorothy was a fabulous cook and I used to love poring over her cookbook collection.  Now these are on my shelf where they remind me of many happy dinners and conversations about recipes and cooking.
6. Cooking With Love – Recipes compiled by the Women’s Grow Group of Bear Creek Community Church. Our previous church home for over 15 years, BCCC closed its doors this past spring, which makes this book even more special.
5. (Unnamed – I call it the Brown Binder)– Compiled by longtime friends Holly & Diane, this is a collection of their favorites. It makes me smile because it brings back memories of when we were all up to our ears in sippy cups and diapers. And baby showers. We hosted a lot of baby showers!
4. The Taste of Texas Anniversary Cookbook. The owners used to go to church with us and I remember having dinner at their house once, back before the restaurant moved to its current location, and hearing Edd talk about how he always looked for ways to make everything better, even something simple like taking a great blue cheese salad dressing and then adding more cheese, or a filet that’s seasoned AND bacon-wrapped AND served with butter. (Is it any wonder this place now has a 2 hour wait?)
3. Royer’s Round Top Cafe. Also former church members (what was it about Bear Creek & restaurant owners?), Bud & Karen taught us to find a passion and pursue it, no matter where the Lord leads. Cooking is more than just filling hungry tummies, it’s about the relationships around the table.
2. Betty Crocker’s New Boys and Girls Cookbook. I unwrapped this one the Christmas when I was 8. Thanks Mom & Dad! The Mad Hatter Meatballs and “Ham” Loaf Hawaiian were only the beginning…
1. Home is Where the Heart Is: Memories and Family Recipes by Connie Augustine. Mom wrote her own cookbook! She and Dad filled it with family history, stories, photos, and of course recipes. They printed it, published it, and presented it to each of us this year. One day little Emmie & Jack and their cousins can read about their roots and hopefully make their own 3AM Salad or Graham Cracker Pudding and know the history behind it.
Some cookbooks are on my shelf because they are the “go-to” source for the best way to do certain things. Some are there because they are guaranteed crowd pleasers. But some are there because they hold memories of people and places-- cooking connections.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Good Morning!

sunrise “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

-Lamentations 3:22-23