Friday, December 23, 2011

My favorite Christmas story

Six To Eight Black Men by David Sedaris (Dutch Xmas Story)

I've never been much for guidebooks, so when trying to get my bearings in some strange American city, I normally start by asking the cabdriver or hotel clerk some silly question regarding the latest census figures. I say silly because I don't really how many people live in Olympia, Washington or Columbus, Ohio. They're nice enough places, but the numbers mean nothing to me. My second question might have to do with the average annual rainfall, which, again, doesn't tell me anything about the people who have chosen to call this place home.

What really interests me are the local gun laws. Can I carry a concealed weapon and, if so, under what circumstances? What's the waiting period for a tommy gun? Could I buy a Glock 17 if I were recently divorced or fired from my job? I've learned from experience that its best to lead into this subject as delicately as possible, especially if you and the local citizen are alone and enclosed in a relatively small area. Bide your time, though, and you can walk away with some excellent stories. I've learned, for example, that the blind can legally hunt in both Texas and Michigan. In Texas they must be accompanied by a sighted companion, but I heard that in Michigan theyre allowed to go it alone, which raises the question: How do they find whatever it is they just shot? In addition to that, how do they get it home? Are the Michigan blind allowed to drive as well? I ask about guns not because I want one of my own but because the answers vary so widely from state to state. In a country thats become increasingly homogeneous, I'm reassured by these last charming touches or regionalism.

Firearms arent really an issue in Europe, so when travelling abroad, my first question usually relates to barnyard animals. "What do your roosters say?" is a good ice breaker, as every country has its own unique interpretation. In Germany, where dogs bark "vow vow" and both the frog and the duck say "quack," the roosters crow "kiri-a-kee," and in France the scream "coco-rico," which sounds like one of those horrible pre-mixed cocktails with a pirate on the label. When told that an American rooster says, "cock-a-doodle-doo," my hosts look at me with disbelief and pity.

"When do you open your Christmas presents?" is another good conversation starter, as I think it explains a lot about national character. People who traditionally open gifts on Christmas Eve seem a bit more pious and family-oriented than those who wait until Christmas morning. They go to Mass, open presents, eat a late meal, return to church the following morning, and devote the rest of the day to eating another big meal. Gifts are generally reserved for children, and the parents tend not to go overboard. Its nothing I'd want for myself, but I suppose its fine for those who prefer food and family to things of real value.

In France and Germany gifts are exchanged on Christmas Eve, while in the Netherlands the children open their presents on December 5, in celebration of St. Nicholas Day. It sounded soft of quaint until I spoke to a man named Oscar, who filled me in on a few of the details as we walked from my hotel to the Amsterdam train station.

Unlike the jolly, obese American Santa, Saint Nicholas is painfully thin and dresses not unlike the pope, topping his robes with a tall hat resembling an embroidered tea cozy. The outfit, I was told, is a carryover from his former career, when he served as the bishop of Turkey.

"I'm sorry," I said, "but could you repeat that?"

One doesn't want to be too much of a cultural chauvinist, but this seemed completely wrong to me. For starters, Santa didn't anything. He's not retired and, more important, he has nothing to do with Turkey. Its too dangerous there and the people wouldn't appreciate him. When asked how he got from Turkey to the North Pole, Oscar told me with complete conviction that Saint Nicholas currently resides in Spain, which again is simply not true. Though he could probably live wherever he wanted, Santa chose the North Pole specifically because it is harsh and isolated. No one can spy on him, and he doesn't have to worry about people coming to the door. Anyone can come to the door in Spain, and in that outfit hed most certainly be recognized. On top of that, aside from a few pleasantries, Santa doesnt speak Spanish. "Hello. How are you? Can I get you some candy?" Fine. He knows enough to get by, but he's not fluent and he certainly doesnt eat tapas.

While our Santa flies on a sled, the Dutch version arrives by boat and then transfers to a white horse. The event is televised, and great crowds gather at the waterfront to greet him. I'm not sure if there's a set date, but he generally docks in late November and spends a few weeks hanging out asking people what they want.

"Is it just him alone?" I asked. "Or does he come with some backup?"

Oscar's English was close to perfect, but he seemed thrown by a term normally reserved for police reinforcement.

"Helpers," I said. "Does he have any elves?"

Maybe I'm overly sensitive, but I couldnt help but feel personally insulted when Oscar denounced the very idea as grotesque and unrealistic. "Elves," he said. "They are just so silly."

The words were redefined when I learned that Saint Nicolas travels with what was consistently described as six to eight black men. I asked several Dutch people to narrow it down, but none of them could give me an exact number. It was always six to eight, which seems strange, seeing as theyve had hundreds of years to get an accurate head count.

The six to eight black men were characterized as personal slaves until the mid 1950s, when the political climate changed and it was decided that instead of being slaves they were just good friends. I think that history has proved that something usually comes slavery and friendship, a period of time marked not by cookies and quiet hours beside the fire but by bloodshed and mutual hostility. They have such violence in the Netherlands, but rather than duking it out amongst themselves, Santa and his former slaves decided to take it out on the public. In the early years if a child was naughty, Saint Nicholas and the six to eight black men would beat him with what Oscar described as the small branch of a tree.

"A switch?"

"Yes," he said, "Thats it. Theyd kick him and beat him with a switch. Then if the youngster was really bad, theyd put him in a sack and take him back to Spain."

"Saint Nicholas would do what?"

"Well, not anymore," Oscar said. "Now he just to kick you."

He considered this to be progressive, but in a way I think it's almost more perverse that the original punishment. "I'm going to hurt you but not really." How many times have we fallen for that line? The fake slap invariably makes contact, adding the elements of shock and betrayal to what had previously been plain old-fashioned fear. What kind of a Santa spends his time pretending to kick people before stuffing them into a canvas sack? Then, of course, youve got the six to eight former slaves who could potentially go off at any moment. This, I think, is the greatest difference between us and the Dutch. While a certain segment of our population might be perfectly happy with the arrangement, if you told the average white American that six to eight nameless black men would be sneaking into his house in the middle of the night, he would barricade the doors and arm himself with whatever he could get his hands on.

"What did you say?"

In the years before central heating, Dutch children would leave their shoes by the fireplace, the promise being that unless they planned to beat you, kick you, or stuff you into a sack, Saint Nicholas and the six to eight black men would fill your clogs with presents. Aside from the threats of violence and kidnapping, it's not much different than hanging your stockings from the mantel. Now that so few people actually have a working fireplace, Dutch children are instructed to leave their shoes beside the radiator, furnace, or space heater. Saint Nicholas and the six to eight black men arrive on horses, which jump from the yard onto the roof. At this point I guess they either jump back down and use the door or stay put and vaporize through pipes and electrical cords. Oscar wasn't too clear about the particulars, but really, who can blame him? We have the same problem with our Santa. He's supposed to use the chimney, but if you don't have one, he still manages to get in. It's not best to think about it too hard.

While eight flying reindeer are a hard pill to swallow, our Christmas story remains relatively dull. Santa lives with his wife in a remote polar village and spends one night a year travelling around the world. If youre bad, he leaves you coal. If youre good and live in America, hell give you just about anything you want. We tell our children to be good and send them off to bed, where they lie awake, anticipating their great bounty. A Dutch parent has a decidedly harrier story to relate, telling his children, "Listen, you might want to pack a few of your things together before going to bed. The former bishop of Turkey will be coming tonight along with six to eight black men. They might stuff you into a sack and take you to Spain, or they might just pretend to kick you. We don't know for sure, but we want you to be prepared."

This is the reward for living in the Netherlands. As a child you get to hear this story, and as an adult you get to turn around and repeat it. As an added bonus, the government has thrown in legalized drugs and prostitution - so what's to love about being Dutch?

Oscar finished his story just as we arrived at the station. He was a polite and interesting guy - very good company but when he offered to wait until my train arrived I begged off, claiming I had some calls to make. Sitting alone in the vast, vibrant terminal, surrounded by thousands of polite, seemingly interesting Dutch people, I couldnt help but feel second-rate. Yes, the Netherlands was a small country, but it had six to eight black men and a really good bedtime story. Being a fairly competitive person, I felt jealous, then bitter. I was edging toward hostile when I remembered the blind hunter tramping off alone into the Michigan forest. He may bag a deer, or he may happily shoot a camper in the stomach. He may find his way back to the car, or he may wander around for a week or two before stumbling through your back door. We dont know for sure, but in pinning that license to his chest, he inspires the sort of narrative that ultimately makes me proud to be an American.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Maze Runner - James Dashner

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)The Maze Runner by James Dashner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reminiscent of Hunger Games, quick paced, great plot.  I would have given it 5 stars except it started feeling like a video game during the last 50 pages or so.

Excited to get the next one

View all my reviews

Weekly Recipes - Nathan & Jill

Day 1: Chipotle Beef Chili with Lime Crema

Day 2: Acorn Squash Rings with Curry Butter


Side: thanksgiving test run, takes some time to simmer but looked good and we just got some baby carrots and a basket of clementines recently.

Spiced glazed Carrots with Sherry citrus

Day 3: Chicken Breasts with Sun Dried tomato and Garlic Crust

Day 4: Curried Lentil Soup

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weekly Recipes - Darla

Lettuce wraps from PF Changs A friend at work has a cook book that tries to duplicate recipes from our favorite restaurants.  In the book was  a recipe for lettuce wraps from PF Changs.  I know that Nathan one time gave me  a recipe for lettuce wraps but this one also includes the sauce.  I always love these.  they are a little more flavorful than some of the other dishes there.
Special Sauce:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 T soy sauce
1/2 cup water
2 T rice vinegar
2 T ketchup
2 t water
1 T lemon juice
1 to 3 t chili garlic sauce
1/8 t sesame oil
1 T chinese hot mustard powder

2 T soy sauce
1/2 t rice vinegar
2 T dk brown sugar
3 T oil

2/3 cup diced straw mushrooms
2 skinless chicken breasts
3 T chopped green onion
1 cup diced water chestnuts
1 clove garlic

1 cup fried maifun rice sticks
ice lettuce leaves

1.  Make special sauce for spooning over your lettuce wraps by dissolving the 1/4 cup sugar in 1/2 cup sater in a small bowl.  Add 2 T soy sauce,  2 T rice vinegar, 2 T ketchup, 1 T lemon juice and 1/8 t sesame oil.  Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you're ready to servee the lettuc wraps. combine the 2 t water and chinese hot mustard and set this aside also.  Eventually you will add your desired measurement of Chinese mustard and garlic chili sauce to taste.
2.  Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar and rice vinegar together in a small bowl.
3.  To prepare the filling for your lettuce wraps, bring the oil to high heat and saute the chicken breasts for 4-5 min on each side until done.  Remove chickenfrom pan to cool.  Keep oil in pan
4.  As chicken cools cdice water chestnuts and mushrooms the the size of small peas.
5. When you can handle the chicken dice up in small pieces no larger than dime.  add remaining oil into pan and add chicken, garlic, water chestnuts, mushrooms and the stir fry sauce and saute for a couple minutes then spoon over a bed of fried rice noodles (maifun)

You know how to put together.  Add hot mustard and chili sauce to the special sauce to your taste.  I think i will also try tofu in this recipe it will be in the same sauce but will take a little different prep.


1 lg sweet potatoe or Yam
3 T finely chopped pecans
1 T butter
3 T maple syrup
1/4 of white onion chopped
1/4 t cinnamon

Bake potato for  40-45 min in 400 oven.  This will bake it nearly through while still leaving it firm enough to slice when cool.  When potatoe has cooled, peel and slice into 1 in bite size pieces

Melt 1 T butter in large skillet,  Add onion and pecans and saute for a couple minutes or until the onion begins to brown. Add cubed sweet potatoe maple syrup, and cinnamon and saute for 3-5 min. stirring often or until the sweet potatoe pieces or hot and tender.

  Jane and Michael Stern, of, talked about the definitive Chicken Vesuvio at Harry Caray's in Chicago awhile ago on the show. We were swamped with recipe requests and then America's Test Kitchen delivered this. For my taste, I'd up the garlic to three cloves, but otherwise, this is going to make a lot of friends and family happy.

Reprinted with permission from Cooking for Two 2010: The Year's Best Recipes Cut Down to Size (America's Test Kitchen, 2010). Copyright © 2010 by the Editors at America's Test Kitchen
Serves 2
For a spicier dish, stir in 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes with the garlic in step 3.

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded 1/2 inch thick
Salt and pepper
5 teaspoons olive oil
12 ounces red potatoes (about 3), cut into 1-inch chunks
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or 1/8 teaspoon dried
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1. Place the flour in a shallow dish. Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Working with 1 breast at a time, dredge in the flour, shaking off the excess.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Carefully lay the chicken in the skillet and cook until lightly browned on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes, flipping the breasts halfway through. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
3. Wipe out the skillet with a wad of paper towels. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano, rosemary, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the broth and wine, scraping up any browned bits. Nestle the chicken, along with any accumulated juice, into the potatoes and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the chicken registers 160 to 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 12 to 18 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through.
4. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and tent loosely with foil to keep warm. Increase the heat to medium and continue to cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender and the sauce is thickened slightly, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to the platter with the chicken. Off the heat, stir in the peas, butter, and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the chicken and potatoes and serve.
• Sauvignon Blanc is a good white wine to keep on hand for cooking and deglazing pans to make a quick sauce.
• If you don't have a meat pounder you can use a rolling pin or the flat bottom of a small heavy skillet.


Good tasting extra-virgin olive oil
4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts (organic if possible)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-inch branch of fresh rosemary
10 to 12 olives (oil cured, Sicilian, or Kalamata)
1 large blood orange, or navel orange, peeled and the flesh cut into small chunks
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 to 3/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter

1. Lightly film a 12-inch straight-sided sauté pan with the olive oil. Heat it over high heat until oil shimmers slightly. Slip the chicken breasts into the pan, sprinkling them with salt and pepper. Lightly brown them on both sides, taking only about 30 seconds per side.
2. Immediately reduce the heat to medium low, add the olives, rosemary, orange pulp, garlic and 1/4 cup of the orange juice. Make sure the liquid is barely bubbling.
3. Cover the pan and cook 3 minutes; turn the chicken, check the sauce for burning (add a few tablespoons of orange juice if needed), and cook another 4 minutes, or until the chicken is firm, but not springy, when pressed. Remove the chicken to a serving platter and keep it warm.
4. Make the sauce by adding another 1/4 to 1/3 cup orange juice to the pan and boiling it down to a syrup while you scrape up any brown bits and glaze from the bottom of the pan. A flat sided wooden spatula is invaluable for this. Swirl the butter into the pan just to blend it in. Scrape the caramelized syrup over the chicken and serve hot.

• There are two keys to moist and succulent chicken breasts: one is slow, gentle cooking to retain much of the natural moisture in the cells of the meat. You want to do a quick sear over high heat for a little browning, then gently cook the breasts over medium-low heat. The other trick is brining. Figure 45 minutes to two hours in the refrigerator in a brine of 1/4 cup kosher salt to 1 quart very cold water (a little sugar, chile and other flavorings could be added to the brine).
• Finishing simple pan sauces by swirling in a tablespoon or two of cold unsalted butter (remove the pan from the heat first) enriches the sauce, smoothes out any roughness and thickens the sauce slightly. Besides, that small amount of butter gives you incomparable flavor.

Reprinted with permission from The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook (America's Test Kitchen, 2010). Copyright © 2010 by the editors at America's Test Kitchen.
Serves 4

Flap meat steak or shell sirloin can be substituted for the boneless top sirloin in this recipe. We prefer this steak cooked to medium-rare, but if you prefer it more or less done, see the guidelines below.

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons water
1 medium shallot, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 (1 pound) boneless top sirloin steak, about 1-1/4 inches thick (see note above)
Salt and pepper 1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound red potatoes (about 5 medium), scrubbed and cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges
3 romaine lettuce hearts (about 1 pound), torn into bite-size pieces
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion

1. For the dressing: Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl until well combined; set aside.
2. For the salad: Pat the steak dry with paper towels and season with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown the steak well on the first side, about 3 minutes. Flip the steak, reduce the heat to medium, and continue to cook until the center of the steak registers 120 to 125 degrees on an instant-read thermometer (for medium-rare), 5 to 7 minutes longer.
3. Transfer the steak to a carving board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut the steak across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
4. Meanwhile, toss the potatoes with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on high until the potatoes are tender, 5 to 10 minutes, stirring the potatoes halfway through the cooking time.
5. Return the skillet to medium-high heat until just smoking. Add the potatoes in a single layer and cook until well browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Whisk the dressing to recombine. Toss the lettuce and onion with 1/2 cup of the dressing, then divide it among four plates. Arrange the steak and potatoes on top of the salads, drizzle with the remaining dressing, and serve. To Make Ahead: The dressing can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days; whisk to recombine and season with additional salt and pepper to taste before using.
Per serving: 380 calories, 16g fat (3g saturated), 50 mg cholesterol, 29g carbohydrates, 440mg sodium

Test Kitchen Tip: We were determined to create a salad with freshly seared steak, crispy potatoes, and well-dressed greens — one that was health-minded and simple. A skillet turned out to be the perfect vessel for the job, turning our meal into an easy skillet salad. While the steak seared, we popped the potatoes in the microwave to give them a head start (to avoid raw insides and burnt outsides). By the time the steak was ready to rest, the potatoes were ready to be added to the skillet to finish cooking, infused with a meaty flavor from the browned bits left behind by the seared steak.

Weekly Recipes - Heather

Thai Curry Stew with Turkey and Zucchini

Beef and Butternut Chili

Indian-spiced Roasted Squash Soup

Pan Seared Chicken with Tomato-Olive Relish

Mushroom, Corn, Poblano Tacos

Weekly Recipes - Jill & Nathan

Roasted beets and Carrots with Goat Cheese Salad
Spicy Green Bean and Tofu Stir-Fry with Ground Bison (or beef)
Winter Vegetable Soup
Smoky Spiced T-bone with Chilean Salsa

Friday, October 14, 2011

Weekly Recipes - Darla

Day 1: Corn Chowder Bread dish to go with soup Day 2: Two potato pizza Day 3: Spaghetti with Sundried tomato pesto Day 4: Spicy Thai coconut chicken soup

Weekly Recipes - Heather

Cabernet Short Ribs with Parmesan Polenta

Check out this delicious recipe from MyRecipes! Cabernet Short Ribs with Parmesan Polenta from Cooking Light,


Check out this delicious recipe from MyRecipes! Beer-Braised Brisket from Cooking Light,

Check out this delicious recipe from MyRecipes! Chicken with Dates, Olives, and Cinnamon from Cooking Light,

Check out this delicious recipe from MyRecipes! Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Cranberry-Chipotle Dressing from Cooking Light,

Check out this delicious recipe from MyRecipes! Mashed Chickpea Pitas from Cooking Light,

Check out this delicious recipe from MyRecipes! Apple, Goat Cheese, and Pecan Pizza from Cooking Light,

Check out this delicious recipe from MyRecipes! Salmon with Red Pepper Pesto from Cooking Light,

Fall Foliage Tour

View Fall Foliage Extravaganza in a larger map

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Weekly Recipes #63

Peach and Gorgonzola Chicken Pizza

• 1 (10-ounce) prebaked thin pizza crust (such as Boboli)
• Cooking spray
• 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
• 1 cup shredded cooked chicken breast
• 1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
• 1 medium unpeeled peach, thinly sliced
• 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Place pizza crust on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Brush 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil evenly over crust. Top evenly with 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, chicken, Gorgonzola cheese, and peach slices. Top with remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella. Bake at 400° for 11 minutes or until crust browns.
3. Place vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until reduced to 2 tablespoons (about 5 minutes). Drizzle balsamic reduction evenly over pizza. Cut pizza into 8 wedges.

Bourbon Chicken

• 2 lbs chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
• 1 -2 Tbsp olive oil
• 1 garlic cloves, crushed
• 1/4 teaspoon ginger
• 3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
• 1/4 cup apple juice
• 1/3 cup light brown sugar
• 2 Tbsp ketchup
• 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
• 1/2 cup water
• 1/3 cup soy sauce

1. Heat oil in a large skillet.
2. Add chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned.
3. Remove chicken.
4. Add remaining ingredients, heating over medium Heat until well mixed and dissolved.
5. Add chicken and bring to a hard boil.
6. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
7. Serve over hot rice and ENJOY.

Brown Sugar Grilled Salmon

• 1 1/2 lbs salmon fillets
• lemon pepper
• salt
• garlic powder
• 1/3 cup soy sauce
• 1/3 cup brown sugar
• 1/3 cup water
• 1/4 cup vegetable oil

1. Sprinkle fillets with salt, lemon pepper and garlic powder to taste.
2. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, water and oil.
3. Marinate fish in soy mixture for 2 hours or more.
4. remove from marinade.
5. Grill for 7 minutes per side.

Mojo Beef Kabobs

MOJO Sauce
• 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
• 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
• 3 Tbsp olive oil
• 3 Tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
• 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
• 1 tspn ground cumin
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1/4 tspn salt

• 1 lb boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut into bite size pieces
• 1 teaspoon ground pepper
• 1 large lime, cut into wedges
• 1 small onion, cut into wedges
• 1 (10 ounce) container cherry tomatoes

1. Whisk together sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
2. Pour only half of the Mojo sauce as a marinade over the beef in a medium bowl or food storage bag; cover or seal.
3. Cover the remaining sauce; refrigerate both at least 24 hours.
4. Heat broiler or grill.
5. Remove beef from marinade; discard marinade.
6. Season beef with the pepper; thread on skewers, alternate with lime and onion wedges.
7. Thread tomatoes evely onto separate skewers.
8. Let reserved marinade come into room temperature.
9. Broil or grill kebobs, turning occasionally until beef is brown and firm to the touch, about 10 minutes fro medium-rare.
10. Tomatoes are slightly softened after 4 minutes of grilling.
11. Serve drizzled with the reserved sauce.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Weekly Recipes #62 - Jill

Let's try some different stuff.  Love the tried and true, but I wanted some unusual recipes for this week.  Here ya go:

Fancy breakfast on the grill :) (and we've had such incredible peaches this year!)

Well this looks fun.  Everyone loves lasagna, but this is a fun new look...  Could do veggie-meat or vegetables instead of hamburger meat on this I bet.

Green soup!! So healthy, but looks oh so tasty.  We will use our dehydrated mushrooms from Costco, but I'm sure you could substitute for any other topping.

Okay here's a 2-fer recipe

And one bonus item...looks like a little work, but also looks pretty tasty.

Love Wins - Rob Bell

Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever LivedLove Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived by Rob Bell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fantastic book! Everything he wrote made sense and made me think. Very different point of view from my upbringing, but inspirational.

View all my reviews

Anne of Green Gables - Mary Maud Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables  (Anne of Green Gables, #1)Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Funny audiobook from audiobooks app. Love the story and writing but what stood out was the reader, or should I say readers. There were at least 7 during the 38 chapters. Started with a young female who read really fast with no inflection. Moved on to British, Caribbean, southern black women and an Irish man. The icing on the cake was the incredibly French woman who wrapped up the book. Had to listen very hard. Amusing.....

View all my reviews

Friday, August 12, 2011

Storm Front - Jim Butcher (audio)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Harry Potter meets Twilight meets mystery novel for adults. The series follows Harry Dresden, wizard consultant for the local police force. Obviously, supernatural crimes occur. Worth reading but not great literature.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Weekly Recipes #61 - Heather

Sautéed Chicken With Peanut Dipping Sauce

Steak With Arugula and Orange Salad

Lentil Fritter Pitas With Red Cabbage Slaw

Burgers With Feta-Yogurt Sauce, Tomato, and Mint

Chicken Enchiladas With Green Salsa

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dies the Fire - S.M. Stirling

Dies the Fire (Emberverse, #1)Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really enjoyed this book set in the Willamette Valley after an event of unknown origin causes the failure of electricity and explosives.

I've played this scenario out in my mind imagining who I would want to be part of my post 'change' world.

Fun and interesting reading.

View all my reviews

A Cup of Friendship - Deborah Rodriguez

A Cup of FriendshipA Cup of Friendship by Deborah Rodriguez

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Shallow story about an American cafe owner in Kabul.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Faux Pho

Collaboration recipe with Joel, turned out terrific. Will definitely make it again.

8 c. Chicken Broth (make your own or canned)

Saute until very, very soft in olive oil
1/2 - 3/4 c. diced Celery
1/2 -3/4 c. diced Carrot
1/2 c. diced onion
1 clove garlic pressed
2 c. Shredded Chicken

Add sauteed vegetables and a handful of Spinach to Chicken Broth and simmer for 15 minutes.

Splash each of Fish Sauce, Soy Sauce & Rice Vinegar

Rice noodles and cook about 5 minutes

Stir together in bowl:
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Eggs

Slowly add about 2-3 cups of hot broth to egg mixture, then slowly add egg, lemon, broth mixture back into soup pot.

Lightly stir up 1-2 Eggs and add slowly into hot soup.

Thinly sliced Jalapeno
Chopped Basil Leaves
Chopped Chives or Green Onions
Hoisin Sauce

Put shredded chicken in soup bowl and ladle soup over it. Top with your favorite Pho toppings and sauces.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Weekly Recipes #59 - Nathan

Day1: (prepare day 2 recipe to marinate for next day)
Tofu Lime Ceviche
(Jill and I couldn't resist we love this oldie but goody)

Day 2:
Sriracha-Grilled Tofu

Serve with rice and sautéd bock choy (use some sesame seed oil for flavor and a few red pepper flakes for a little heat)

Day 3:

Red Curry-Glazed Salmon

Serve with:

Bok Choy and Pineapple Slaw

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Weekly Recipes #57

Day 1

Smoky Spiced T-bone with Chilean Salsa

Four 1-inch-thick T-bone steaks

4 teaspoons pure chipotle powder

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

1 large beefsteak tomato, cut into 1/4-inch dice, with seeds and juices

1 small green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 small sweet onion, finely diced

1 large jalapeño, seeded and very finely chopped

1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves

Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing

Light a grill. Sprinkle each steak with 1 teaspoon of chipotle powder; season with salt and pepper. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and up to 20 minutes.

In a bowl, mash the garlic with a pinch of salt. Add the tomato, pepper, onion, jalapeño and cilantro; do not stir.

Lightly brush both sides of the steaks with olive oil and grill over high heat until well-browned and medium-rare within, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the steaks to plates and let rest for 5 minutes. Stir the salsa and season with salt and pepper. Serve the steaks with the salsa.

Grilled Corn with Lime Chive Butter

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons snipped chives

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime zest

Kosher salt

6 ears fresh corn, husked

Light a grill. In a small bowl, combine the butter with the chives, lime zest and a pinch of salt. Grill the corn over moderately high heat, turning, until browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Spread with the lime-chive butter and serve right away.

Mustard & Mayonnaise Glazed Asparagus

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup grainy mustard

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 pound thick asparagus, trimmed

Light a grill. In a shallow dish, whisk the mayonnaise with the mustard, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the asparagus and turn to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Grill the asparagus over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until the spears are tender and lightly blistered in spots, about 6 minutes. Serve the asparagus hot or at room temperature

Day 2

Red Curry Chicken Kebabs with Minty Yogurt Sauce

with your choice of vegie and rice

2 1/2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Kosher salt

2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes

3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt

1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon finely chopped mint

In a large bowl, mix the curry paste with the oil and 2 teaspoons of salt. Add the chicken cubes and toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature for up to 2 hours or cover and refrigerate overnight.

Light a grill. In a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt with the mayonnaise, honey, lime juice and mint and season with salt.

Thread the chicken onto 10 skewers, leaving 1/4 inch between the cubes. Grill over moderately high heat, turning frequently, until lightly charred and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Serve the kebabs with the minty yogurt sauce on the side.

Day 3

Grilled Salmon with Dill Pickle Butter

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup finely diced dill pickles

1 teaspoon minced tarragon

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Four 6-ounce salmon fillets, with skin

Extra-virgin olive oil, for rubbing

Light a grill. In a small bowl, blend the butter with the diced pickles, tarragon and mustard and season with salt and pepper.

Rub the salmon with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat, skin side down, until the skin is lightly charred and crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a metal spatula, turn the fillets and grill until barely done in the center, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer the salmon to plates. Top with the dill pickle butter and serve.

Serve with:

Grilled Vegetable Panzanella

Grilled zuchinni,eggplant, red onion, and bread with fresh tomatoe and a dressing of olive oil, garlic, dijon, champagne vinegar, capers, salt and pepper

Day 4

The Best Summer Burger redux

1 egg

1 lb lean ground beef

1 c oats

1 c diced onion

1 c chopped spinach

2 Tbsp reduced-fat shredded Mexican-blend cheese

4 whole-grain buns

Salt and pepper to taste


In a large bowl, whisk the egg. Add everything else and mix -- your hands are the best tool -- until well blended. Form the meat into four patties. Place the burgers on a grill pan or nonstick skillet that's heated over medium high. Cook for 6 minutes per side or to the desired level of doneness.

Serve with:

Nuclear Orange Spud Missiles


NTS 2 medium sweet potatoes, uniform in size 2 Tbsp finely chopped pecans 2 Tbsp raisins 2 tsp whipped butter


Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork. Microwave on high for 6 to 8 minutes, turning once. Cut them open and top each with half of the chopped pecans, raisins, and butter.