Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkin Time

With Halloween days away it was time to get our pumpkins ready... and the best part, eating the seeds.

After gutting the pumpkin, I separated out the seeds and tossed them with oil and salt.

Then I put them on a cookie sheet in the oven at 350, stirring them every 15 minutes, until they were golden brown.
This should help keep my had out of the trick-or-treat candy and snacking on seeds instead.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I used to like the puzzles in the kids magazines in the dentist office, when I was a kid... so an ode to that...

Can you spot the things that are different in these two pictures? The right picture is at the end of all of my house work today...

- removed all the shutters (there were a few more around the left side of the house
- primed behind the 3rd floor shutters when I discovered that the wood behind them was untreated
- second coat of paint on the house on second floor deck
- scrubbed & washed the siding on first floor deck then put a coat of paint
- prepped and put a coat of spar urethane on second floor deck door

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

accept a challenge

Free is good, right? It's bring a friend to training this week at my friend's gym, so she invited me to join her (and 2 of her other friends) for her training session today. I have never worked with a personal trainer and am also the least athletic of the group going today so there was a big part of me that thought I should stay home but then I figured, why not? I'll be challenging myself to what will be a social activity that with a group I usually wouldn't find myself with which makes me a bit nervous to being with then on top of that am also challenging myself to go to a new gym to work with a trainer with people how are more physically fit than I am so there are mental and physical challenges all wrapped up together for me. As I get older instead of shying away and trying to avoid these situations that will push me outside of my comfort zone I have been trying to push myself into them more. And it's free, free things are the ones I need to be taking advantage of while I'm unemployed so off I go!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lost Project - finding the floor

Months ago I started ripping up an old linoleum floor stuck down to what I believe was beautiful hardwood flooring by using some sort of tar paper... I did a lot of work on the floor and just hit a wall and thought I'd take a few days off from it and go back to it refreshed and ready to scrape... instead I've taken a few months so today I am challenging myself to get back to work on that floor because it is holding up moving forward with other projects that I can't even start until this is finished. Unfortunately I think it's going to be a bigger project than one day to get it finished...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Beet Soup Supper

Even being unemployed motivation on Monday can be hard... it was a fairly active weekend and with the dog sitting keeping me extra occupied because for some reason I feel like I need to entertain the puppy when he stays with us, today I felt pretty tried.

There is, however, one thing that almost without fail is motivational... Food.
So, I decided to put some effort into dinner. I had a lot of beets so decided to do something with them and found a recipe for beet soup served in a roasted acorn squash on epicurious. The recipe called for a whole squash for a 'bowl' for each person but we only had one squash and that seemed like a lot of squash and soup and I wanted to make a few sides as well so, we each got to have half a squash. It was really nice to eat the soup with bites of squash.

When preparing the squash to become a bowl, I removed the seeds and toasted those (oven at 350, tossed in some oil with salt on top until they turn golden) and put those on the plate.

Since I still had a few beets even after the soup I steamed them and made a dehulled barley salad:
dehulled barley - simmered in water until cooked to tender
beets- steamed until just tender
broccoli rabe - sauteed with bacon and a spoonful of honey
blue cheese
salt & pepper
I let all the things that cooked cool a little and then mixed them all together.

I also chopped up a few slices of bacon, threw those in a pan and once it was fairly well cooked threw in quartered brussel sprouts.

I tuned into a vibrant color palate on the plate with the bright beet soup and the yellow acorn squash and green sprouts.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Puppy Sitting

I have company for the weekend.

I get to have some puppy time before he moves off on an international adventure.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

brownie birthday

I feel like a birthday isn't really a birthday without cake. A friend is going to the Vineyard for her birthday weekend on a lunchtime ferry. So, remembering there were no good snacks on the ferry and my birthday cake sentiments I decided to put together a little birthday snack bag and included some birthday brownies and a candle and some matches.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Porch Painting Project

We have a new new porch and discovered that part of the house used to be grey, the rest of it is cream, so we tried to get a matching color - it's close... so today's project was was painting. Since it was the front of the house there was a little extra pressure to paint well since everyone can see it. So, I painted the grey to cream and primed the rest of the exposed poplar.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fall Photo

The leaves are changing and before I know it they'll be on the ground so I went for a morning walk to enjoy the leaves and to play with my camera. I didn't pick the best leaf peeping route but I did have fun wandering and taking some photos.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkin Tart

It feels like fall... we're having friends over for dinner Saturday night so I thought I'd try a seasonal desert. I had pie crust in the freezer so I got a can of Libby's Pumpkin and followed the recipe on the can. Instead of making one big pie I rolled out the dough, cut rounds and put them in muffin tins and then filled those with the pie filling. It took about half an hour to bake. And topped it off with some fresh whipped whipping cream.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Listen Live

* photo from Chris' website taken by Neil Nedelman

I used to make it to concerts a lot and now I seem to lose track of them.
It seemed like it had been too long since we made it out to hear some live music and we wanted to continue to support Chris Trapper. Since we'd missed his last shows near us we decided to take the opportunity for a night out and went down to Providence to see him at the Brooklyn Coffee & Tea House. It was a small little venue with about 30 people in the audience, a nice intimate atmosphere and crowd but you still get that great buzz from being at a concert.
I'll have to start paying attention to my favorite local venues again.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

twist on grilled cheese and tomato soup

Simple comfort food lunch with a little boost.

I had a carton of roasted red pepper tomato soup. I've made roasted pepper soup before but never tomato, maybe that will be a future adventure.

Nothing goes with tomato soup like grilled cheese and I had a few extras in the fridge to add to it. I put some mustard on the bread and turkey with the cheese then grilled it up. Some simple additions for a delicious twist!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Party Favors

In honor of my friend's engagement some friends and I decided to throw her a party. So we scheduled it for when her love would be in town. I decided to take on the favors - and desert.
I looked up some favor ideas on-line and then tried to do things on a budget...

I found glasses on sale and used that to hold all the other items.
A few of the things I had in mind... they met in Paris, at a Dave Matthews concert so their wedding song is one of his songs, she's a Giants fan, he's a Dodgers fan, his parents are Mexican... I also used the phrase "Keep it ______" to try to tie some of the pieces together so here's what I ended up with:
  • Mints - since it's almost Halloween there's Halloween candy, it was cheaper to but Junior Mints than Tic-Tacs, so I decorated them with Giants logo on one side and Dodgers logo on the other and wrote "Keep it Fresh"
  • Candle - I used a paint pen and drew the Eiffel Tower on each one and wrote l'amour
  • Match Box - I decorated on both sides with words from their wedding song and on the end of the box put "keep the love light burning"
  • Tabasco - put new labels with photos of people kissing in Paris and wrote "Keep it Hot like _____ & _____"
  • made Mexican wedding cookies because everyone wasn't going to be able to join us for desert
It was a lot of fun to put together. I also found some 'diamond' confetti type things so I threw a few of those in each glass too.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Since we forgot to bring the empanada shells to our party last month we have about 100 of them in the freezer, so it seemed like a good time to start using them...

So I defrosted some of the Goya discos and made some ground beef and some spinach empanadas.

ground beef
poblano pepper
ground cumin

delicata squash

I sauteed the ingredients until they were cooked, then put them in the discos and baked them at 350 for half an hour or until the discos were cooked.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Today I successfully completed my first 10K. And have a few cell phone shots from the race to prove it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

chicken stock

To continue to try to use as much of the food we buy as we can instead of throwing out our chicken carcass the other night I stuck it in the fridge. This morning I made a stock from it which we'll be able to use for soups in the coming months.
I went really basic so that I'll be able to add whatever flavors I'd like when I actually make the soup. Sometimes I've put carrots, onions, celery... in the stock but then if I keep them in the stock they end up a soft soggy mess, I like to have some texture and I don't want to throw the vegetables out so today I kept it simple.

Put chicken carcass in a pot and add water until it just covers carcass. Add five cloves of garlic, cut in half, add two tablespoons of sliced fresh ginger. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down, cover and simmer for an hour, checking occasionally. Pour stalk through a strainer to get the chicken bones and skin out. Let cool and put in containers and into the freezer.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Burnt Sugar Gelato

Truth be told when I made my carmel attempt this week I was doing some multitasking so the sugar got a little burnt and of course that flavor carried into the carmel. When thinking about finishing off last night's fall meal with an apple treat and thinking about using up the 'burnt carmel' instead of throwing it out I was reminded of burnt sugar ice cream. Yum!
I've been wanting to try to make gelato instead because it doesn't require eggs, so putting all that together today's experiment was modifying a chocolate gelato recipe to utilize ingredients I had in house and use up the burnt sugar. Like ice cream it was a two part process...

2 1/4 cups non-fat millk
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
a few shakes of salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 recipe of carmel (in previous post), with the sugar a bit burnt

Put two cups of milk in a heavy saucepan on medium heat. Whisk together 1/4 cup milk, sugar, cornstarch, salt and vanilla. As the milk begins to boil add the milk mixture to it, use a whisk and stir constantly for three minutes. Turn burner off and add in burnt carmel, whisking until smooth.

Let stand 5 minutes to cool.

Place in a sealed container in the fridge for 6 hours

Remove from fridge and put in ice cream maker. I have a KitchenAid with an ice cream maker attachment, I had it on the lowest speed for 30 minutes.

Then put it in a freezer safe container and store in the freezer until ready to eat. Should probably be eaten within a week of being made.

hearty fall meal

It may sound strange but today was one of those days I wished had a few more hours in it - that part's not so strange - but that it was a day that many would describe as cold, dark, wet, dreary... and look forward to tomorrow's predicted sunshine.

Today I listened to the rain, I watched it hit the windows and roll down and splash the deck and on the street below. I sipped my morning coffee and contemplated where I am in my life, how much has changed in the last few months, in the last year and my decision to leave the job I'd held for nine years. I feel so lucky to have been able to make that choice and have this time to reconnect with life. I did some catch up things, emails etc.

Since it's farmers market day in the afternoon I threw on my raincoat and headed over to brave the weather. Farmers and postal service workers, out in every kind of weather... Feeling thankful for having the day to myself, not in an office and one of my nights off from babysitting I decided to make a hearty fall meal to have some quality dinner time with my partner and enjoy the bounty (and incredible colors) at the farmer's market.

First Course:
Chard Ravioli (from local Dave's Fresh Pasta), topped with freshly grated parmesan
Pasta Sauce - olive oil and garlic sauteed with tomato and basil from our garden
Toasted Squash seeds - from squash used for dinner, tossed with oil and salt and baked, placed on top of ravioli
Some lettuces from our garden
Farmers market carrots lightly steamed with a smidge of butter, fresh dill and salt

Roasted Chicken from the grocery store, I thought about trying to do one myself but the cost differential is so minimal and in the end I was short on time.
Rainbow chard sauteed with garlic in some oil
Squash similar to a pumpkin (I can't remember the name), steamed and mashed with a half tablespoon of butter, fresh from our yard chives and dill, and some salt

Served with a lovely bottle of pinot noir from V. Sattui

We had a wonderful, cozy night. I love fall.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

growth test

Testing, one, two, testing...
I am doubtful that this will survive the winter but it never hurts to try...
We had an avocado and the seed had already split a bit with some growth coming out. We didn't think much of it because it didn't seem like this would be the climate for it to grow but we gave it a try. Had the seed in water for awhile and then put it in the ground. It kept looking like it was not going to last but when I went out to look at the garden today, it was as high as my knee and looking healthy.
Who knows, maybe we'll have an avocado tree in the back yard.

caramel apples

I don't think I've ever been apple picking so many times in one season before. It's been great! Of the 3 times I've been this year they've all been in different states, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Minnesota. There are a lot of things you can do with apples and this year I've been testing a lot of them. My Minnesota picking adventure over the weekend got us thinking about carmel... so while in Minnesota we looked at carmel in the store but everything had corn syrup. So now I've tried making my own... turns out it's pretty easy and doesn't require corn syrup.

Ingredients: 1 cup of sugar, 6 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup of milk
put the sugar in a pot, over medium heat, stirring with whisk until the sugar melts and turns a nice amber color, be careful because it's easy for the sugar to burn, as it begins to bubble add the butter and whisk it in, once it has melted remove from heat and slowly stir in the milk

In this fall weather, colder temperatures and some rain... baked apples to go with the carmel for desert sounded good

I turned the oven on to 350, removed the apple cores and placed in a baking dish with one inch of water, baked until soft (about 35 minutes) then sliced and poured carmel on top.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bacon Burbon

Testing a theory... does bacon really make everything better? At the Town Talk Diner in Minneapolis you can get a Bacon Manhattan, comprised of "bacon washed bourbon, housemade cherry liqueur, housemade cherry vanilla bitters"

I'm glad I tried it but I didn't order a second. Perhaps the better option would have been to order a shot of the bacon washed bourbon since that was the intriguing ingredient. The fried cheese curds and french fries however were delicious!