Sunday, December 30, 2012

Think Out of the Box This Upcoming Year

To be honest, I cannot eat one more Christmas cookie. The mere thought of one makes me sick as I have indulged like someone going to the chair. Seriously, as tasty as most of them were, I am so off dessert right now it is frightening. That will change though, have no fears. I love to bake and it is winter so I will be getting back on that soon enough. I cannot do without chocolate chip or ginger scones for long. Trust me. With tea, scones are a wonderful treat anytime during the day.

Most people at this time of year begin to plan what changes they will implement into their lives. Usually it is some sort of diet and I find that ridiculous. One can choose to change your lifestyle in regards to food and exercise at anytime. This is the time to choose something extraordinary. Want to learn to surf and have the means to do so? Go for it. Want to take a sculpture class? Go for it. Aiming to finish that novel in two months or less, gerunds be damned? Yes I am. Learn to sew, can jams, speak Mandarin, give yourself a challenge that is fun and exciting and not the same one every year. New Year's resolutions are like the season of Lent to me. Every single woman I know always gives up sweets or chocolates for Lent. Why not think out of the box? Anyone can give up chocolate but not everyone will think to donate time or skills they have for Lent. Why go the denial route with yourself when you can go the giving route? Anyway, let's get back to the topic at hand.

I think it is healthy to give yourself a new kind of challenge this year. See what you can accomplish without picking something you dread to have to do. If you hate to exercise in a gym , don't. But you can take walks and enjoy the outdoors. Add listening to a language tape or an audio book to your walk if you can. Don't berate yourself for not going to the gym seven days a week or not being able to rid yourself of those ten pounds. Go out and live and enjoy. Your brain was made for more than just the same old thing different day.

Read that novel you always wanted to or try building a birdhouse, again, it is not that it is done perfectly, it is the fact you attempted the task and completed it. That will enrich your life.

Now get out there and as Auntie Mame said:

Live! Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Homemade Sausage Bread

Odd title for someone who is a pescetarian I know, but I wanted to share my mom's recipe for her wonderful sausage bread. Long story short, she passed away from renal cell carcinoma back in 1998 and I wanted to have at least one of her recipes on hand to pass down and around to others. She wrote it out for me one day and so I am going to post it exactly as she had written it to me. She suggests using aluminum throw away pans sprayed with PAM. I never do that, but it is an option if you like. On side note, I make it a version with canned artichokes and I will post my changes at the bottom. So without further fanfare here is the recipe.


For EACH loaf of sausage bread do the following. If you make more than one at a time, just double everything. I usually make 3-4 at once and freeze them.

Grease a loaf pan and preheat oven at 400 degrees.

1lb. sausage (Italian of course!) either hot or sweet
1 cup flour (not sifted)
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 cup real Italian grated cheese (I use Pecorino Romano)
1 cup chopped Italian parsley

Remove Sausage from casing and brown. Drain most of the fat. I usually save about one quarter cup to add to the mixture.
In a bog bowl mix flour, milk, eggs, cheese, parsley and sausage all together. The mix will be heavy which is what you want.
Pour into the greased pain and bake for about a half hour or until golden brown. Take out of over and once warm flip pan over to get bread.  This is really best served room temperature or cold. I wrap mine in foil to refrigerate or freeze. If you freeze it all you have to do is take it out and leave it to defrost at room temperature. You can also add cooked spinach to mixture of you like.

My vegetarian version:
Instead of sausage, I cook one can of quartered artichokes with garlic and olive oil. Just get it nice and warm then add to batter. I almost always serve it room temperature.
I have also used soy milk as well as egg beaters and have even left out cheese from time to time. I have added rosemary or oregano or even red pepper flakes when I had no parsley. If you use soy milk the recipes won't be as heavy, but the bread is still delicious just the same.

I also want to thank everyone for stopping by via Down To Earth, it is always a pleasure meeting people who share the same passion for cooking and knitting and all around simple living. :)


Monday, December 24, 2012

Gingerbread House and Happy Holidays!

I love when people live in unique style homes. That being said, I came across a wonderful page on Houzz showing details of gorgeous REAL LIFE GINGERBREAD HOUSES. They really are full of whimsy, but also a lot of warmth.

This fabulous house is in Bay Ridge Brooklyn.

 I am now off to do last minute errands. May you all have a Merry Christmas filled with love, laughter and of course, food :)


Thursday, December 20, 2012

But of course, more food

I envy those that have jars of delectable jams and jellies lining their pantrys. One of those reasons is that my husband is an out and out despiser of all things berries.  I know, I clutch my pearls at the idea of anyone not finding blueberries something to be adored and practically sung too, but hey, to each his own. Because of this, I do not can jams or anything remotely resembling a spread because let's face it, how much of it can I or my soon to be one year old son eat? Then I came across the Small Batch recipes on Food in Jars. Whoo hooo! This might encourage me to have a go at some spreads without guilt because one does not want to waste food right? And all those luscious berries should be honored by becoming something so wonderful to share with others. I had a friend once gift me with homemade lavender jam and to this day I still miss it.

Look at this superb Small Batch Blood Orange Marmalade.

This Rosemary Rhubarb Jam is not small batch but I can only imagine how lovely it would smell.

I really love cardamom so this Small Batch Seckel Pear Jam with Brown Sugar and Cardamom would go really well with a steaming hot scone or biscuit. Mmmmmmmmm.....

Out of curiosity I have been looking into Gluten Free recipes more and more and have been pleasantly surprised by what I find. Dare I say these Mini Pumpkin Pie Tarts from Against All Grain would be delightful with a nice cup of tea or Mexican hot chocolate? Oh yeah.

I made this Soy Chorizo Vegetarian Chili the other night and it was beyond delicious. I used chickpeas and black beans, added garlic and omitted the sugar. It was even better the next day. Thank you Cooking with Trader Joe's.

Let's continue the Blueberry theme with this gorgeous looking Blueberry Ricotta Coffee Cake from the blog Eating From The Ground Up. See, now this is something I can make and bring to a dinner and viola! I indulge in my blueberries. Keep in mind, there are blueberries in my house as our son loves them, but baking with them has not happened very often.

And on a completely different note, I cannot stop listening to the song, "Find You're Here" and "Find You're Gone" from Wolfsheim. I love to listen to it whenever I am writing. Be it my on-going novel or my blog or even reading. Funny how a specific song can motivate you or put you into the mind frame of your characters. I swear, when I finish this draft and if it gets published and they interview me, I am going to be honest and say how insane the process has been, but fulfilling. And then I would be all the blueberries I can :)

Here is the video:


Monday, December 17, 2012

The Swedes Rock!

This is a sandwich cake.

I have GOT to make one of these vegetarian/vegan style!!! Thank you Life Up North blog :)


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sweet Potato Goodness

I have a serious sweet potato fetish. It sounds so kinky I know, but I can pretty much eat them prepared every way possible EXCEPT 2 ways. With meat is a no no as I am a pesco-vegetarian. I am sure they are fabulous with bacon, so I can only read about the praise. The other way is with marshmallows. How can one insult the beauty that is a sweet potato with extra sweet stuff? So gross to me, but if you love them you can have at 'em and take my portions too.
I admit one of my absolute favorite ways to eat them is roasted and I just came across one of simplest ways possible to roast them. Just throw them in the over and that is it. I currently have 4 potatoes in the oven. Ohhh yeah, God Bless.

Thanks to The Good Soup for the unrecipe.

Instructables gave me this wonderful way to make Sweet Potato Fries. Like I said, right now it is all about the sweet potato and it is good.

These recipes look tasty too and I must try them at some point.

Tartelette's Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato soup.

The English Kitchen's Sweet Potato, Blue Cheese and Chipolte Chilli Soup

Well, I must dash as my 11 1/2 month old is displeased with being stuck in the house so off on a walk we shall go!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The No Name Post

Thanks for putting up with my little rant yesterday. Now, even though I am as busy as a bee can be, writing, knitting and setting up the little man's play room, I wanted to share some links for all of you to enjoy.

The Roasted Heirloom Cauliflower and Chestnut Soup from Roost looks so comforting and delicious.

My obsession with cowl patterns from Purl Soho continues. The Garter Gaiter is divine.

I just heard about this book, "The Testament of Mary" by Colm Toibin and am intrigued to no end. Will have to add to my 'must read" list.

And this little fabulous ditty out of the UK, Pretty Nostalgic. A magazine that celebrates the "vintage, traditional and sustainable ways of living." Right up my alley.

Toques From Underground and excellent and fascinating article about underground supperclubs in The New Yorker.

Here is a stunning Craftsman Renovated home for sale in Bellevue, WA via Hooked on Houses.

I don't knit gloves or mittens, but these Podster Gloves from Knitting to Stay Sane are just a fantastic gift idea.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Poor Kids

I don't like to get on my soapbox on this blog, but I will when something really bugs the heck out of me.

Frontline did an incredible segment on how poverty effects children called Poor Kids.

I teared up quite a few times.

Imagine not being able to pay your bills and having to move your family in to a motel?
There is something in this one school, probably all schools, called the "Nutrition Club" where they send the kids home with some food for the weekend. Quite frankly, yes it is nice, but the food is shit. Everything is sized like when you stay in hospital. Small Cheerios, beef stew in the can, applesauce, nothing truly nutritional and nothing to help teach people to eat better or cook. Not that you should give it to the kids, but when people go to Food Banks, out of the kindness of strangers and grocery stores, people get canned corn, carrots, cereals, Spam (I could vomit) and other things to hep them get through their life that has taken an awful turn. But from a nutritional value stand point, we all know it sucks. I wish some of these parents understood nutrition better and cooked from scratch instead of buying 5 frozen pizzas for $10. But I have no idea if WIC or Food Stamps or Welfare have the funding or time or inclination to offer food classes. I mean, their budgets are probably stretched to the limits as it.

Food Banks are struggling to help people. Running out of food as needs grow. This is very scary and I have a feeling this will last longer than most expect.

One little girl says she missed eating Chinese food. I have never wanted to buy a gift card to a restaurant so bad. I would make it good for a year so she can have it whenever she wants.

The kids in this show are amazingly in tune with what is going on and what has happened and how much they hare being poor. Sure some of the parents work, but at transient jobs or jobs that pay so little they cannot afford food if they pay bills. One set of kids are kept our of school because they keep moving so much. The kids understand education will help them from being in their situation and they fear not being able to go to school and get out of their situation.

America is an industrialized nation. A wealthy nation, with debt, but to fail children like this is disgraceful. These families are not the stereotypes of "welfare" families we are constantly fed. They are children born to parents who have fallen through the cracks of society. Lack of understanding of finance, self sufficiency, nutrition, education, is mind boggling. But at the same time, none of these parents want this life for their children, but don't know how to get out short of working at the Wal Mart. There seems to be an ignorance to using libraries for internet and books or learning how to shop wisely when in the supermarket or even doing without TV. But it is simple for me to say that as I sit in my comfortable little home streaming PBS and typing on my computer isn't it? I have learned how to do be self sufficient out of necessity, but in a world that is all about convenience and coveting thy neighbor's goods, we have done a disservice to many. Sure it is our own choices that give us the life we have to an extent and we are responsible for what we choose in the sense of, Do I need the Nike sneakers or can I live with the no name pair? Kids only know what is around them and what their parents teach them. I know there will always be poor people in this world, but it is still awful to see.

One shelter in San Francisco has a 6 month wait.

6 months. Good God, what is happening here???

And yes, I get the poor people in US have a lot more than poor people in other nations, but that point is irrelevant to me. Poor is poor, but to be poor in a wealthy nation? I can't even imagine what those people feel like. Well, I couldn't imagine, after watching Frontline, now I know.

Here is a preview of Poor Kids:


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Another Nice Day

The last two days have been in the 60's. And they say there is no Global Warming...ha!
What is really nice is about this weather is being able to open the windows and air out the house. I just painted our kitchen so being able to get the fresh air in has been a plus. I painted a color called Almond Oil by Valspar. It looked beige-y on the car d but it has an undertone of blush/pink depending on lighting. Honestly, it looks nice and it is not a painful neutral which is good. We chose to paint because it was a blah, poorly done pale green and we both hated the faux brick back splash. I will never understand certain trends, fake brick being one of them. The kitchen looks MUCH brighter now which is great. Of course when it gets professionally done that will be nice, but for now, we both like the result from the paint and can live with that without issue.

Google Drive and I are getting along better. I still have my issues with certain functions, but I am learning to work with it best I can. My writing is happening more at night, but I am getting some of it done when my son naps which is choice.

And now some random things.

I like this Basic Chic Hoodie from Chic Knits.

Indelible Ink Workshop has some lovely prints for sale in their Etsy shop. I found out about them through the website Small Town Living.

This tiny violet hand muff falls under something I would aspire to knit, but most likely never will. I do love it though.

This article on The Kitchn about 5 party appetizers that won't break the bank are great, but the commenters have wonderful suggestions as well. Currently the links are funky, but hopefully they fix that ASAP.