Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Doctor Call

I can’t explain why making phone calls makes me so nervous, logically I know that it’s silly but I still have a hard time with it. Since I tend to be fairly healthy and not get the kind of colds or injuries that would necessitate a trip to the doctor, I’ll just say, it’s been awhile... which I know, is especially bad as I get older and need regular check-up especially with the growing number of people in my family to have cancer.

Since my toe had been in so much pain and since we had a lot of things going on for the weekend my partner insisted I go see the doctor. So,I called and was able to get in today to see a nurse practitioner and made an appointment to go back and see her for a check-up.

So, it was a whole new experience at this new doctor office which was actually really nice. She wanted to make sure my toe wasn’t broken so ordered x-rays so I had to go down a flight and get an x-ray taken and then back up and she pulled the x-ray up on the computer screen and we didn’t see any kind of break or fracture so I was sent off with a discussion about wearing work boots and more supportive sandals since I went over there in flip flops.

So now that I’ve survived the dreaded phone call and found my way to and around the new doctor office the next time shouldn’t be so hard.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Veggie Casserole - Fridge Clean Out

There was a lot of activity over the weekend and the farmers markets and grocery store didn’t make the to do list. Since I hurt my toe last week and have bee in a great deal of pain and walking and standing have been hard my plan for today was to relax, keep my foot up and hope to speed up the healing. So when it came to dinner I had to think creatively about what to do with what was in the house.

Veggie Casserole

grated pattypan squash

diced tomatoes

corn cut off the cob


flat leaf parsley

grated parmesan


turn oven on to 350 and let it warm up while preparing ingredients, mix all together and put in a baking dish and bake until warmed through

Friday, August 27, 2010

Oh Baby

I did some babysitting growing up but not a lot. They can be cute and all but it's nice to be able to pick one up and hand it back... well, a friend has been spending a few nights a week babysitting a (now) 4 month old and she's moving and I could use some money so today I'm challenging myself to do childcare and going with my friend to see how it's done.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dump Run

Today was a clean up day, pulling down walls in the basement and getting all the garbage out into the backyard. I like swinging a hammer, especially for demo, it gives you a whole fresh start in a space which is nice. We are having someone come in a repoint our foundation in October so we need to get things cleaned up and away from the walls which was going really well until...
... I dropped a large board on my big toe and that put me on the couch with my foot up and ice on it.
But we've got more than we'll be able to fit in a truck tomorrow all out and ready to go to the dump.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rainy day snack-periment

The third day of rain... which makes motivation hard... so to settle in for awhile I need some food. I have lots of beets and some oranges that need to be eaten... I also have lots of beet greens.

I like kale chips (recipe July 14th) so I wondered how beet greens would do with the same treatment... they cooked much faster than the kale and turned a much darker color. Although they worked ok I prefer kale.

Then I decided to juice three beets, three oranges, two handfuls of spinach and a piece of ginger. It was a sweet juice and a nice rich color!

Now I should have the snacks I need to settle in inside and stay out of the rain.

Lasagna in the Raw

I have a cookbook that I've been too intimidated to open... Raw by Roxanne Klein & Charlie Trotter and decided I should give it a try. I'd been to her restaurant in Larkspur, Roxanne's, when it was open and was in awe of the food. Who knew raw food could taste so delicious? and could be so much more than salad...

So we picked up the ingredients at the farmers market on Saturday and I followed the lasagna recipe with a few modifications (I didn't have mushrooms and used fresh ricotta). I made it in a spring form pan. It was easier to do than I expected and was a fresh and delicious summer dinner.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Puppy Playtime

My camera is not a video camera so the quality is bad but he's a cute and funny guy!

Tiny Toes Typing

1qqqqqqq vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv
- Gryffin
Today's my last day with Gryffin. We've been enjoying a lazy day since it's raining outside and he's not a big fan of water. We've taken a few short walks but he doesn't like to go very far in this weather. So I thought I'd catch up on some computer based things which has been harder than I expected since this cute little puppy wants to help. He was supposed to go home yesterday but due to a cancelled flight I get to keep his company for one more day.

I've also been trying to get some good photos of him which has been a challenge because he doesn't stay very still.

It's been great having him. I've learned a lot, I quickly became totally consumed by him and caught under his cuteness spell so was unable to do much all weekend but hang out with him, which was great but would not work out so well if I had a pet. I am going to miss having him around though...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Puppy Love

The only pets I had growing up were fish. They were pretty boring. A friend was going away for a weekend and asked me to watch her dog for the weekend so I took that on as my weekend challenge.

Welcome, Gryffin!

He's a rescue dog and I think he has some PTSD. He has a lot of anxiety and walking him can be a bit of an adventure and I couldn't leave him outside and run in and grab a coffee or anything but he is very cute and a fast walker! So far taking care of him is a fun adventure. It is also incredibly consuming because I feel like I want to know what he's doing all the time and don't want to leave him alone... and want to see what he'll do next because he's so darn cute!

He also asks for a lot of attention and doesn't leave me much time for this...

Keep it growing

I spent some time in the garden today. Most of the seeds I planted came up, so I had too many seedlings growing too close together and had to thin them out for some of them to survive. It was kind of sad to have to pull some out, so I filled as many other pots as I could find and added moved what I could into those as well. And I had to give everybody lots of water! I also made an attempt at pruning the strange bush/tree/plant in our yard to keep it from casting a shadow on the beds.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Morning Read

I gave myself a morning challenge today. Really, it was the third challenge of the day, after actually getting out of bed and going to the gym.

One of the things I neglect to make time for is reading. A friend who is moving the end of the month lent me a book, 518 pages and not much time left to finish it before she needs to pack it, so that kicked me in to budgeting in some reading time.

When I got back from the gym today I challenged myself to take a minimum of an hour, go sit in the yard with my coffee and book and read - phone, computer, other distractions in the house. If I got a daily paper I would probably spend time in the mornings reading the paper while drinking my coffee but since I don't get the paper perhaps I can start to budget some morning reading time.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Noodle-less Summer Salad

Since I haven't made it to a farmers market since last week today's challenge was to make something out of what was left in the fridge. I was going to make pasta salad. I had a large zucchini and a summer squash and know that at raw foods restaurants sometimes they use those as noodles, so I decided I'd try that.

I started by grating them in the food processor,
put the broccoli in a pot of water and did a quick
blanch so it turned bright green
cut corn off the cob
cut up oinions
cut up fennel
then I dressed it with a whole lemon, salt, pepper, chopped fresh mint
put it in the fridge to rest for three hours

Then I stirred it up and served it over lettuce with some easy pickled cucumbers and radishes

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dulce Delicious Cupcakes

I had a successful weekend experiment that I was so excited about I've decided to share.
A friend's birthday cake tradition is white cake with dulce de leche between the layers and chocolate frosting on the outside. I was going to a picnic on the beach to celebrate a friend's birthday over the weekend and cupcakes seemed more practical than an entire cake but I wanted the dulce filling and was able to achieve it! Cupcakes with dulce surprise!

I found a basic white cupcake recipe at epicurious that I edited slightly based on what I had on hand
3 cups flour
2/12 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup salted butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups 2% milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Once I had the batter I filled the cupcake liners about half way and then made a depression with a spoon in the middle of the in the batter for each cupcake and put a dollop of dulce de leche in the indentation in the batter

Then I put more batter on top, covering the dulce, so it would be a surprise when you get to the center of the cupcake.

I baked them in a preheated oven at 350 for 15 minutes

And when they were done and had cooled in the pan for about 8 minutes I moved them to a cooling rack and opened one up to see if it had worked...

Success! All that was left was to make chocolate frosting and frost the cupcakes.

Chocolate Frosting:

1 square bakers chocolate
1.5 Tblsp butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
3Tbl milk
1/2 box powdered sugar

Melt chocolate and butter, add vanilla, mix in sugar and add milk a little at a time until you get to a good consistency

Friday, August 13, 2010

Social Celebratory Dinking

It's important to remember to celebrate the little victories. So, today I went out with former coworkers for a celebration. To celebrate a last day which means a new beginning. And to celebrate a tough decision because, especially in this economy, it's a really tough choice to leave a job. For me, I was also celebrating the possibility of something more because somebody found one of my cards on my etsy shop and owns a business and wants to sell one of my cards in her shop... even if we can't make it work out this time I think it's worth celebrating the possibility.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

drip, drip, drip

My activity for today got chosen for me. I went down to the basement to do laundry and found a puddle on the floor. It was clear that water was dripping from a pipe above me. The pipe had a shut-off valve and no cap on the end, so water was dripping out the end of the pipe and tracing back down the pipe and dripping down under the shut-off. So, first I put a bucket under the drip, turned the shut-off valve to the right (I could get it to move very slightly) and began to clean up the water. The dustpan was effective to get up most of the water and then I used the mop to soak up the rest of it. I also traced the water pipe back to see if there were other shut-offs between the pipe and the main shut-off so I'd be able to turn off the water if I needed to. Since I was doing laundry I got to check on the pipe when I went down to move the laundry around and it seemed to stop.

Hooray for easy fixes! And coincidences - being home and going down to do laundry, who knows what a mess we would have had had we found it later.

Squash Blossom Salad

The saying third time's a charm rings especially true to me when it comes to squash blossoms. I've seen them at farmers markets for years but been unsure about how to prepare them. Last year I had gone to brunch at a restaurant behind a farmers market before hitting the market myself and squash blossoms were on the menu, I was so excited to get to try them, especially since they'd been picked that morning and purchased by the restaurant that day... they had just sold out. It was a similar story on my second encounter with them on a menu. But the third time I found them - at a wonderful restaurant called the Flea St Cafe in California - I finally got to try them. Delicious!

So today, I was feeling uninspired thinking about what I might make for dinner. I had gone to a farmers market yesterday with a friend, one I'd never been too which was great but had been so overwhelmed with the crowd I didn't actually get much to make complete meals, so I went to the market today for inspiration.

So, for dinner, I made three dishes:

Green Beans
  • put olive oil and garlic in a pan, heat slightly
  • add green beans and toss in pan
  • add about 1/8 cup of water and cover so bean steam slightly but you want them to keep their bright green color and crispness
  • turn off heat, add salt, pepper and pumpkin seed oil and toss together
Tomato & Melon
  • slice heirloom tomatoes
  • slice watermelon - I also used a small yellow melon that I had
  • layer tomatoes and watermelon
  • optional: add mint, salt, drizzle of balsamic reduction
Salad topped with stuffed squash blossoms

Squash Blossoms
  • rinse blossoms inside and out
  • mix ricotta with fresh mint, salt and pepper, stuff the blossoms with this mixture
  • mix 1/2 cup flour with 3/4 cup seltzer or sparkling water, use this batter to coat the stuffed blossoms
  • heat oil in a ban and place stuffed blossoms in the pan, get a light brown on all sides
  • remove to plate to cool slightly so they don't wilt the salad greens but you want to eat them while they're still warm

  • fresh lettuces
  • thinly sliced radishes
  • thinly sliced fennel
  • sliced peaches

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Trash Day Teasures

It's almost time for students to come back so there is turn over in lots of apartments in the area which means there are lots of interesting things going outwith the trash. We took an evening stroll around the neighborhood to see if anything we could use had been kicked to the curb...

and we found this

it's in really good shape and was easy to get moved in to the house. One of my upcoming projects will be to give it some kind of paint or finish and line the drawers.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Instant Desert

Sometimes you just want chocolate, or at least I do. Along with a dinner of vegetables I fed my chocolate craving for desert. I had frozen filo shells and a package of instant pudding so it seemed to me I could make a quick and easy desert. I made the pudding and instead of putting it in glass cups put the pudding in the filo shells. Quick and tasty desert.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Baked Tofu

We had delicious baked tofu at my aunt and uncle's house and I have been trying to recreate it. I think this time it worked!

One package of firm tofu
marinade - I used Trader Joe's Soyaki - I hope to make up my own sometime

slice tofu, put in container with a cover, cover with marinade, put lid on and refrigerate
put tofu on baking sheet in a single layer, bake at 275 for 1 hr, turn over and bake for another hour
Keep in sealed container in fridge

I usually use the marinade twice, the second batch will have a little less flavor but is usually easier to eat alone, the first batch I often cut up and use in salads

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Feel the Wind in my Chimes

My great grandmother was creative and crafty, from what I can tell. I have oil paintings, wood carvings, collage, glass light fixture, needlepoint, leaf prints on fabric, an apron... all of which she made. I have wonderful memories of visiting her in her house on a hill in the middle of an apricot orchard, walking through the yard and seeing all the beautiful exotic plants, then sitting in the kitchen for a snack and a cup of tea. She was a tough lady and far from perfect (as we all are) but she also seemed to be very driven, passionate and creative. I don't know what terms my other family members would use to describe her. I like to think that I've inherited some of her passion and creativity (and probably her stubborn streak as well and perhaps my you telling me that it won't work will only fuel my drive to do it and succeed attitude also).

When my grandparents passed and we were cleaning out their house one of the things I got was wind chimes that my great grandmother had made that had hung on the back porch at my grandparents house for about as long as I can remember. Just looking at conjures the smell of that porch, where the laundry where, where the dog would go if she needed to be inside... Well, it wasn't in good shape and wasn't going to travel well so I deconstructed it, kept the glass and plastic blue beads and have been meaning to use the parts to make my own wind chimes.
I started by pulling out my beading box, ribbons, mardi gras necklaces, old keys, some wood and metal and cut some green branches off of a bush in the backyard...

I decided to braid/weave together the branches I had cut and use that for the support
I strung a mardi gras beed necklace through the branch
then I tried to lay out how I wanted the glass to be arranged

Once I decided on an arrangement I decided it would be easier to work with the it hanging so I could keep things from getting too tangled up, so I hung the branch on a curtain rod which also allowed me to see how the light will look hitting the chimes. Then I began, one vertical row at a time...

Now I'm going to take a break and come back and look at it in a hour and see if I still like the way it's come out before I make the final ties and cut off extra string etc. Then I have to find a place to hang it!

Grow it Yourself

As much as I love going to the farmers market and find it an inspiration for cooking I also found it an inspiration for planting. If it's $2 for a head of kale but $1.50 for a packet of seeds, if I can grow it myself and get more than one head that seems like a pretty good deal. It's been a process to get ready to plant.

First we made the beds, then last Friday we rented a pickup truck and made a few runs, filling up the truck and bringing the loam mixed compost around the house to the beds. We don't have a huge yard but discovered a wheelbarrow to be invaluable. On Monday I transplanted some herbs and tomatoes we had growing in pots into one of the beds. We'd also had some type of squash growing out from our compost which I tried to dislodge and transplant but it seems I didn't get the roots so it's not looking good.

Today after going to the farmers market and having spent last weekend in a yard with bountiful raised beds I was too excited to wait any longer - and a little afraid if I did I wouldn't be able to try growing anything this year. I purchased seeds, anything that said late summer on it, and planted them. I made markers for the beds using chopsticks (from take-out) broken in half and some packing tape to tape the names from the seed packets.

This is my first attempt at growing food so it will be interesting to see how it all works and if I did it right. I was so excited at the store I bought 15 seed packets. The first thing I did was look up if there are certain things that should not grow together and use that as a guide to decide what to plant in which bed. Then I laid out the packets on the beds to see how much space I could give each item. I read the instructions on the packets for how deep they plant and how far apart the rows are. Having no experience I wasn't sure how many seeds to plant - what's the percentage of them that will germinate and grow and because it's late in the season I did not plant any indoors first to transplant outside later which was recommended for a few things so could be a problem. For each item I made little mounded rows (2-4 depending on package distance instructions) then ran my finger down the top to make a trough the recommended depth for the seeds, sprinkled the seeds in and covered them up. It's pretty incredible how different all the seeds look. I didn't have much space for any one item since I got some many different things, which also will allow us a variety of produce, so I have about half packets of seeds for everything I planted.

Once everything went in it was time to water. Just in time for the working crowd to come home and join me on a trip with the wheelbarrow to get some mulch to put around the base of the beds. Hopefully we'll see some growth in the next few weeks and in the next few months have some food!

*the mint is still in its own container so it won't take over the beds

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pulp Loaf

I've been using my juicer and although I can compost all the pulp I feel like there should be ways to use it. I made a juice from oranges, carrots and a mango and the pulp seemed like it would be good for some kind of muffins or bread... the other catch was that my on-hand ingredients were somewhat limited so I looked up some recipes, picked one that seemed pretty straightforward and made a few adjustments based on what I had. I'm also a fan of minimal clean up so I tried to keep it to one bowl.

Turn oven on to 350
In the bowl of a mixer bowl, beat
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
pour in 1/2 cup vegetable oil
add 2 cups of pulp
once well mixed, add dry ingredients
1 1/2 cup almond flour
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda

Grease a loaf pan, pour in batter and bake for 40 minutes, turn off oven but leave loaf in for an additional 10 minutes. Leave in loaf pan an additional 10 minutes before turning out onto a plate.
The bread was very moist with a consistency closer to that of bread pudding.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Mondays end up being big errand days for me, you realize you need to go to the bank, get some groceries, clean the house... I needed a quick snack while running between things today so I made some snacking cashews.

Cashews by themselves are great but sometimes you just need that something extra and it's quick to add some flavor to them. I went really simple today.

raw cashews
olive oil

I put some oil in a pan, throw in cashews and toss them regularly to coat with the oil and keep them from burning, when they start to brown add salt and pepper (or whatever seasoning you're in the mood for) then remove them from heat, let them cool and snack away!