10 April 2011

Kitchen chronicle

I've been back to cooking a lot more lately, but I've been a horribly lazy blogger! Several wonderful (and not-so-wonderful) dishes have come out of my kitchen in the past couple of weeks so I'll show you a couple of them now!

My favorite dish of the past couple of weeks is Linguine with Shrimp and Lemon Oil, a recipe I found on the Food Network website.

It's light, fresh, and bursting with flavor! It's also very simple to make, which is an added bonus if you want something quick but impressive.
Being the second time I've used this recipe, I didn't follow it exactly ~ I changed a couple of things to suit my taste: I used anglehair pasta instead of linguine, cilantro instead of parsley, and I added a handful of pine nuts to give it a little crunch!

I also tried my hand at making a couple of recipes from the Hobby Farm Home magazine - actually this was my second time making both the Boston Baked Beans and the Moose Bread. The baked beans not only taste wonderful, they're less expensive to make than buying canned beans....

although next time, instead of using salt pork I think I'll use a sweet bacon of some sort - maybe maple cured.....YUM!

the moose bread, however, well, let's just say both times I tried to make it I failed miserably! Knowing that I'm a pretty good cook, I can only guess it's a flawed recipe...maybe something was lost in the editing process? Who knows, but both tries produced a thick, chewy brick that could best serve as a doorstop rather than a meal enhancer!

Last night's dinner was also from Food Network ~ Cajun Chicken Alfredo, and it was really delicious...it took your basic alfredo sauce to a new level of yum!

To go with it, I made a salad with home-made Ginger-Lime dressing

and a fresh loaf of Challah bread....normally I would serve French bread with this type of dish, but I made the bread yesterday anyway so I figured "why not?"

I've got tons more pics of things I've cooked recently, and hopefully I'll be able to play "catch up" a bit in the next couple of days, but in the meantime, click the links I've provided and give these recipes a try! You won't be sorry!

06 April 2011

My little seedlings (and whatnot)

On the last full moon I started two flats of seedlings for this year's container garden. I might have gotten a little carried away, so chances are if you read this and ask nicely I'll send a few of them your way when they're ready!

This is how much they'd grown as of March 26th....still just wee little babies!

I've got several different things growing...5 each of Lavender, Fennel, Cilantro, Tarragon and Tomatoes in one flat, and Thai Basil, Basil, Thyme, Marjoram, and Forget-Me-Nots in the other.

This is them today. Most of them are getting pretty big already, but the Tarragon & Lavender (top left) have some catching up to do!

The tomatoes, fennel and cilantro are growing the fastest ~ I may have to move them into bigger pots sooner than I expected...

On another gardening note, I have a fig tree I grew from a cutting that is now in its third year in a very large pot, but I want to plant it in its permanent spot this year if we can agree where to put it.

You can't tell by this pic, but it's about 5' tall now.

I know it needs plenty of sun and a nice sized area for it to grow in, but we have a small yard so space is an issue....what to do???

My Rosemary is back again this year

so is my yummy Greek Oregano

and my trusty Lemon Balm

I bought a nice English Lavendar plant for the front entrance...I just couldn't wait for my little sproutlets to grow!

All & all, I'd say the yard is looking pretty good so far!

Although it could use some new mulch and a good weeding!

23 March 2011


I read a blog earlier today that discussed how we create our own circumstances....like attracts like, so what we send out to the universe is what it gives us back. This has got me thinking about the energy I send out ~ how it affects other people and how it comes back to me.

I try to be patient and kind; to be generous with every resource at my disposal, whether it's my time, cooking a meal for someone, knitting a gift, or just listening when someone needs to talk. In turn, I have found myself surrounded by like-minded people.

My love, Mike, has an exceptionally kind, brilliant, beautiful soul, so I know I must be doing something right. I have many wonderful friends who are at least - if not more - passionate about living in a way that benefits others and creating peace and sanity in the world.

On the flip side of this, I have been experiencing some troubling health problems lately that seem to have become chronic.

Is this a reflection of poor choices I've made with people or diet? Does it indicate a need for a lifestyle change? Should I cut down on this, ramp up on that? Should I search my mind and heart for clues or look to my body for answers? I think a healthy amount of introspection can only do me good...

22 March 2011

On Writing

It always catches me off guard when I realize I've gone a long time without writing anything. That's funny in a sad way....I mean, of course I haven't been writing! When is the last time I even opened up my blog page and attempted to write, right? WRONG! The thing is, for some reason the longer I go without writing the harder it is to begin again.

The mental excuses come pouring out of me....who cares? nobody reads this anyway! I'm just feeding some ego-driven urge to impose my thoughts on...well, nobody, actually! What do I have to write about? I haven't really cooked anything exciting lately ~ nobody wants to read about my failed attempt at a birthday dinner...who cares that the salmon was a bit dry or that, since I was out of butane, the top of my creme brulee was practically burnt to a crisp by a camping stove?

Oh, and another good excuse ~ I've been too busy! Tell that to my facebook page, which sees more of my time lately than anything or anyone else on any given day...not that I'm all that concerned with it, but work has been slow lately so I've taken to just leaving my page open all day whether I'm actually "there" or not...yeah...

I was thinking this morning about what I would write today ~ I was determined that this would be the day I updated with a new entry. I had all of these really good ideas...came up with some clever lines I thought would make it more interesting...and promptly forgot them by them time I got to my laptop.

So here it is, a random blog bereft of meaning. No photos, experiments or updates on my various craft projects (which have also suffered from neglect.)

But you see, I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter who does or does not read this. Sure I'd like to think maybe someone does, but that's not the point. I'm not sure of what my point IS, exactly, but I do know that I do this for me. I'm free to call it a contemplative exercise ~ usually with pictures, but sometimes not ~ or I could call it a hobby. It doesn't really matter. What matters is that I keep coming back to it as frequently as I can and try to make sense of the loose ends in my mind...and maybe entertain, amuse or inspire someone else along the way.

10 March 2011

Quite the week

We've got quite a week of dining going on around here and I haven't cooked a single meal! I tried to think back to Monday and I can't seem to remember what we did for dinner but I'm pretty sure I haven't cooked since Sunday....

Tuesday I was at my mom's and she made a pot of Texas chili and served it up with some fresh cornbread...YUM! Wednesday we went to Rose of India for dinner. Mike is English and there was a meetup going on...not that we really need an excuse to go out for Indian food...it's a favorite!

mmmmm...Chicken Tikka Masala...

Tonight (Thursday) we're forced (get out your tiny violins) to go to
Cafe Lily in downtown Decatur...I know, such torture! but we have a groupon that expires TODAY! What else can we do?

Tomorrow night I'm staffing at the Shambhala Center so we'll probably grab a late bite after that, and as far as I know I'll be there all weekend as well...my kitchen is going to miss me (hopefully you and Mike will too)...

07 March 2011

Catch-Up post, aka Fish Stew

Before the flour shenanigans of the weekend commenced, I tried a new recipe I found on Food Network Canada for Mediterranean fish stew and let me tell you, it was fantastic!

I made this Friday night and it was good then - the flavors really popped! The fresh fennel and orange zest were lively, interesting and oh so very tasty, but when we had the rest of it on Sunday, OH MY!

The flavors had time to really mingle, and simmering it for a couple of hours softened up the veggies very nicely and broke down the proteins in the fish so that all of the delicate qualities came together even more nicely than they did the first time around.

One thing I did differently Sunday was to use fresh cilantro and more fresh orange zest as a garnish, which added a whole new dimension to the already wonderful flavor. Kudos to Michael Smith on this lovely dish!

I also made fresh loaves of french bread to go with the stew, and for Sunday's meal with guests over, I made some fresh garlic butter to go with it...such an elegant touch and SO easy! All you need to do is let your butter get to room temp, then add fresh garlic and some fresh lemon zest and voila...your meal goes from ordinary to extraordinary in an instant!

Random flour experiments

I haven't been cooking as much lately as I'd like, but over the weekend I learned an important lesson: Flour matters!!! I made two different things, both which called for all purpose flour, and having run out I substituted it with Bread Machine flour...turns out, they don't produce the same results at all!

First I made a quiche, which turned out quite nice ~ delicious, even ~ except I wasn't wild about the crust. I'm pretty sure I did everything right as far as making it - I used very cold butter and ice water, didn't over process, minimal rolling, etc., but I believe that using the wrong kind of flour affected its overall quality.

It looks good...


but the crust turned out less flaky and more thin and crisp than I would like...if I had any doubt as to whether or not the flour was the culprit here, my experiment with shortbread confirmed it!

The only variation I made in the recipe I found for Chocolate Espresso Shortbread on the Vanilla Garlic blog was that, again, I used bread flour instead of all purpose and the results were, well....disappointing may be an understatement.

The BF was very nice about it and even went so far as to say he would eat them, and our dinner guest obligingly downed a couple of them herself, but I didn't like them very much at all - they turned out very thin and crisp (texture-wise, not unlike the pie crust, come to think of it) - definitely NOT what I expected!

I couldn't even bring myself to photograph them, which is very rare - I snap pics of pretty much everything I cook. I will make these again because the flavor combination is lovely and I can see how, when properly made, they'd be wonderful with a nice coffee...I'll report back once I do...

24 February 2011

Mmmm.....mac & cheese

So last night I decided to try out a mac & cheese recipe from my latest edition of Bon Appetit....kind of. It looked really tasty and I had almost all of the necessary ingredients to make it, but somehow I just couldn't see myself going thru ALL of the steps using everything the recipe called for. I wasn't much in the mood to boil garlic & red bell peppers in a pot of water then cook the noodles in said pot...oh, and no pimentos either - I like them in my martinis and this yummy pea salad that my mom makes, but I want my mac & cheese to be, well, mac & cheese!

so I made it the usual way - cooking the elbow macaroni, then mixing it with mozzarella, cheddar, butter & heavy cream...but one thing I did follow (almost) is that I topped it with Panko (Japanese bread crumbs), although I didn't toast them in a pan first. I just tossed them with butter and grated parmesan and called it good.....and boy, was it ever! YUM!

I also baked a couple of chicken breasts to go with it, and served it all with a side of steamed broccoli

it was pretty darn good if I do say so myself, and we had leftover mac & cheese for dinner tonite!

Besides all that, though, I think I need to change my mindset about blogging a bit. I tend to think of this as a "cooking blog", therefore I'm only inclined to write when I cook, but that's not really the point! I intend for this to be a place where I impose all aspects of my life upon you, so why stop with cooking? Or knitting? Truth be told, I still have yet to finish my friend's birthday scarf, and as much as I'd like to have a million exuses as to why I've been such a slacker about it, the fact is that I've just been a slacker!

I work on it almost every day - a row or so here, an hour's work there, but nothing consistent enough to be done with it already and I've also promised him a hat to go with it! At this rate, it'll be summer before he gets it and he won't even be able to use it until next year!

Wow ~ I really must snap out of it! Perhaps now is the time to dig out that copy of "The Procrastinators' Handbook" I received as a gift 5 years ago and never read....what do you think?

17 February 2011

I'm back!

Well hello there! How are ya? I've got to say I'm much better than I was last week! Sorry I have been away for so long, but hopefully I'll get back on track here starting.........NOW!

I'm rested and recharged after a week in bed last week and a much-needed Sadhana of Mahamudra practice @ the Atlanta Shambhala Center tonight. It was not very well attended for some reason, but there is always energy in the practice whether there are one or 100 participants...

Other than that, I've mostly been slowly getting back into the swing of things. Mike and I have cooked a couple of meals together lately,
which is really nice ~ he's the grill-master of the house, so he's in charge of all outdoor cooking while I handle the kitchen stuff ~ it works out very nicely!

For instance, the other night he used the rotisserie to cook a pork loin which I'd marinated in an apple-chipotle glaze, and once on the grill, he basted with honey....yummy

while I reheated the roasted winter vegetables....

ok, I didn't actually cook that night, but I was still pretty sickly and not able to do a whole lot yet, although I did manage to get a loaf of bread made in the bread machine

so with very little effort on my part, we wound up with a pretty fantastic meal!

Other than that, I've been knitting and catching up on some reading.
I have several magazine subscriptions that generally go neglected, but I have marathon days where I'll read all the new ones cover-to-cover, so it kind of works out. I keep them all for their recipes,

yoga practices, crafting and gardening tips,

spiritual guidance, etc., so they're always close at hand should I need them, which is nice. I've also picked up my tattered old copy of On The Road by Jack Kerouac ~ it's a classic that will never get old in my book!

So.....that's what I've been up to lately! I trust you've been well, and I look forward to sharing more with you again very soon!

10 February 2011

I'll be back soon...

Hello readers, real or imagined! Sorry I've been AWOL lately ~ I've been pretty sick. I'll be back very soon, though!

06 February 2011

Conversation with ebay seller...

Dear hcuorcmahnrub,

I still have not received my shipment. Is there a tracking number?
Thank you

- zan1963

Dear zan1963,

had a feeling youd say that. whatever.

- hcuorcmahnrub


After opening a case against this seller with ebay, I was fully refunded by him within days, and (shocking, I know) the package never arrived, which can only suggest that it was never mailed to begin with...
apparently he'd told me it had been mailed but had no real intention of ever really sending it. How this guy is still allowed to sell on ebay is beyond me.

New Year's Day 2011 at Tergar Monastery, Bodhgaya

04 February 2011

Rainy weekends are perfect

I know a lot of people really look forward to the weekend and get bummed out if the weather is less than great, and I'm sure I've had my share of disappointments in this department, but I can also say I absolutely LOVE rainy weekends!

If I have something planned outdoors that gets postponed because of it then yeah, maybe it sucks a little, but in general there's so much to do indoors that I get over it pretty fast!

Take this weekend, for example...ok, maybe this weekend is not a good example because we weren't planning on doing anything outside anyway, but we CAN get a lot of enjoyment from it!

For starters, I've got a pot of etouffe on the stove

and a couple of loaves of french bread in the oven

dinner's gonna be yummy!

Besides that, rainy nights in are great for wine and candlelight with my love ...
I just love being snuggled up on the sofa watching a movie, reading or just talking and "being" together ~ it's nice!

Tomorrow is a great day to head over to the High & check out some art...

go to a local coffee shop or hang out at my favorite book store

the Atlanta Book Exchange ~ I could spend hours there!

And there's always knitting to be done...I haven't made nearly the progress I should have on my friend's scarf by now!

it's only maybe 1/5 done and I still have to make the hat!

See? Busy, Busy! Oh, and speaking of that dinner...

Yep, now that's gooooooooooooood stuff!

and this really has got to be my best loaf of French bread yet ~ perfectly crisp on the outside yet fluffy and light as air in the center ~ all it takes is a little practice and some tweaking of the technique, and the results are SO rewarding, not to mention delicious! Who knew?!


01 February 2011

After a few days...

So ~ after a whirlwind weekend of theater, birthday dinners, and Sunday brunch I need to get back into the swing of blogging...but perhaps more importantly, of cooking!

Pepper Mill, E.V.O.O., and Wine...The "Holy Trinity" of my kitchen

I enjoyed having a little break, but really have missed my kitchen time. It's about the only time lately I can just hang out alone and think while doing something useful and contemplative.

For dinner tonight, I made a dish called Engagement Roast Chicken

it's an Ina Garten recipe I found on FoodNetwork.com...I don't know why she calls it that, but it looked good and turned out beautifully!

...but you can't just have chicken for dinner. Last week I bought a 5 lb bag of potatoes, and after several days of not cooking I decided to get the most bang for my buck and use the maximum amount of taters in one dish, so I made potatoes au gratin as a side.

Having not made it from scratch in a while, i consulted Foodnetwork (again), which is my go-to site, and wound up combining two different recipes. A couple of ingredients from this one, technique from that, and ended up with a dish that was pretty much my own.

I sliced up 6 potatoes, 2 onions, a shallot and several cloves of garlic in my food processor and tossed them with melted butter, cream, salt, pepper, thyme and parmesan cheese, then put them into a dish

Oh, I also sauteed some garlic and bacon together and mixed them in with the potatoes, which I baked for about 30 minutes...

I then took them out, covered them with shredded cheddar cheese and put them back into the oven until they were nice and browned...YUM!

Every meat and starch meal needs something green, so a few young peas should do nicely...

Dinner was great!

I haven't been completely useless while slacking off and not cooking or blogging, though. I've started a new knitting project for my friend Sam - he saw the one I made for Mike and asked if I'd make a purple hat/scarf set for him, so of course I had to say yes!

After trying several different techniques (ok, 3), I settled on a design and got going on the scarf last night. It's not really far enough along to warrant pics yet, but I should be ready to post some up tomorrow...

Don't worry, Kristen ~ you're next!