Monday, September 29, 2008

Busy Days

With Dev having all night classes this semester, weeknight dinner is a real struggle.

Tonight I decided to throw together a quick marinara to go on some pasta. I started by mincing garlic and throwing it in a pan with olive oil and some red pepper flakes. After it started warming up, I added dried oregano and some Greek Seasoning. Anchovy paste went in next. I let all that sizzle for a few minutes, then added a can of crushed tomatoes, some onion powder (I didn't have a real one or I'd have added that at the beginning with the garlic). Lastly, I added a few tablespoons of sugar to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes.

I boiled some penne and tossed it together with some parmesan cheese at the very end. Throw in a piece of home made bread, toasted, and I had dinner.

Devin loves pasta, so as he sat and practically licked his plate, it made me laugh, because he claims to HATE anchovies. He hates them in spite of the fact that almost every tomato based pasta dish he has ever eaten (that I cooked) had either an anchovy fillet in it or some anchovy paste.

The reason he gives for hating anchovies also entertains me. He says they are too small to clean properly, and he doesn't like the idea that he may be eating their "poop sacks." Maybe this amuses me because I spent so many years teaching middle school, and this sounds just like something one of my 7th graders would say. I don't know.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rosti A La Mimi

After our experience at Chalet-Swiss, I decided I would go home and make rosti for myself. I felt sure I could match or better what we had there.

But first, some explanation...What is rosti? According to Wikipedia...

"Rösti is a potato dish from Switzerland. It was originally a common breakfast eaten by farmers in the canton of Bern, but today is eaten all over Switzerland. Many Swiss people consider rösti a national dish. Today it is more commonly served to accompany other dishes, rather than for breakfast."

Armed with that knowledge, I woke up this morning and began my quest to make the best rosti I could possibly make with what I had on hand (because I was too lazy and broke to go to the grocery store).

Here's what I used to make 2 individual rosti:



4 handfuls of frozen grated hashbrowns (you could grate fresh potato, but who has that kinda time?)
4 thick slices bacon, diced (I used our home made bacon, but you could use regular thick cut bacon as well, just watch the salt in the rest of the dish)
1/4 c. white onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. cooked spinach
1 small tomato, diced
salt
pepper
garlic powder (you could use real minced garlic, but I was afraid it would burn and nothing tastes worse than burned garlic)
grill seasoning (I used "21 Season Salute" from Trader Joe's, but anything will work)
4 eggs (1 to make the pancakes, 2 to scramble for Dev and 1 to fry for me)
2 handfuls of grated Swiss cheese
1 small piece of goat cheese


My experience was a bit different because I was making 2 individual rosti. Dev doesn't like spinach or goat cheese or fried eggs (I know- what's wrong with him?) so I made a separate one for him using scrambled eggs and no spinach or goat cheese. To make your life easier, you could do one big one in a 12 inch cast iron skillet and call it a day. I had 2 little 6 inch cast iron skillets, and really, they are so cute, I had to use them.

Method:

I divided the diced bacon and onion into the two cute cast iron skillets and began rendering the fat.



I took the bacon and onion out and set it aside. Then I put the hashbrowns in a bowl and added salt, pepper, garlic powder, grill seasoning and 1 beaten egg. I mixed it together pretty well.



I divided the pancake mixture evenly between the two skillets and put them over medium heat.



I let it sit (without messing with it) for about 5 minutes. Then, I used a spatula and miraculously flipped the pancake in one piece onto the other side. Don't worry if yours doesn't make it in one piece (I'm shocked mine did).



While the underside is cooking, sprinkle the cooked spinach over the pancake, then the bacon and onion.



Then add the diced tomato, the goat cheese and the swiss cheese. The one I have pictured is actually Dev's so it also has the scrambled eggs on it as well. Mine was topped with a fried egg after it came out of the oven.



Then I put both skillets under the broiler and cooked them til the cheese was bubbly and beginning to brown. After they were done, I fried an egg and put it on top of mine.



These turned out really well. I think it was better than what we had at the restaurant. Although it wasn't hard, it was time consuming. Of course, if Dev would not be so picky I could have made one and we could have split it. :)

I will make this again for sure, but it's strickly a weekend breakfast thing. There are an infinite number of variations, and next time I might try a slightly more Latino flavored version, using green chilies and salsa.

Here's the last shot of our Rosti breakfast....



I wonder what we'll dream up next weekend.....?

Chalet-Swiss- A Review



I have been fairly vocal about the dearth of fine dining establishments around the Alamosa area. I think the best overall meal we've had here in the Valley was at the Creede Hotel.

Because of this, I am always on the look out for that one place to single handedly turn my attitude around- knock me off my culinary feet, as it were.

I haven't found it yet. I had high hopes for Chalet-Swiss, but it just didn't hit the mark.

Here is the one thing I'll cut them some slack for- it was 11:30am on a Sunday. Maybe you have the B team on duty then and they are hung over. I don't know.

We arrived at the Chalet-Swiss after taking a drive to look at fall foliage. As we passed by, I saw it was open and suggested we stop there for lunch. A good friend of mine had suggested it highly, so I figured we were in good hands.

We walked into the foyer/reception area (which was devoid of human life) and stood there. And stood there. And stood there. We peeked through the glass doors and saw people eating, so we knew there was someone on duty SOMEWHERE. Finally, we walked through the doors and proceded to choose a table by the window.

At that point, a very staunch looking woman (I'll call her Heidi because that's the most Swiss sounding name I can think of, and she never bothered to introduce herself to us)came from the back and informed us we could have a table for two (none available near a window). I looked around and noticed there were around 12 table tops and 2 other tables were occupied. Would it have killed her to let us have a table by the window? I think not. Heidi never cracked a smile. She handed us menus and took our drink orders and disappeared again into the kitchen.

Dev ordered the veal bratwurst and I ordered the rosti of the day. A rosti is very similar to a tricked out potato pancake. I had never actually had one, and was very excited to finally get my chance.

Heidi came back with our drinks and a basket of bread.



Nice looking, huh? It was pretty good. The butter wasn't room temp, which really bothers me in restaurants, cuz how hard is it to let it sit out for a little while to soften up? I mean, why should I have to fight with it and tear my pretty little piece of bread? I guess that's picky, but that's how I feel about that.

A while later, Heidi brought us our food. Now- let me say the food was REALLY GOOD. Dev's bratwurst was perfect. It was seasoned well and cooked just right.



My rosti was delicious! It was a thick potato pancake, smothered with sauteed spinach, sliced tomatoes, slices of bacon and melted emmethaler(sp) cheese.



Heidi came back and forth, filling water glasses, still without smiling, and finally brought us our check.

Would I go there again? Probably. I wouldn't mind trying dinner because they had fondue listed on the dinner menu and I LOVES me some fondue. I would do it in spite of the service, however.

It's not that Heidi was a bad waitress. She was just completely un-personable. Chalet-Swiss is not a cheap restaurant. Atmosphere and service should be impeccable in a relatively expensive restaurant.

Like I said at the beginning, maybe she was hung over. But if you go eat at Chalet-Swiss, please don't go on Sunday morning!

Bad, Bad Blogger

I have been so bad about posting to my blog. And I keep promising I'll do better, but I don't. But this time I really mean it. :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Polston Primary School Library






After over a month of sweating and fussing, Devin and I finally finished the library at Polston this week.
I definitely think it is an improvement over the way it was before. Hopefully, the kids think it is fun and inviting.
I could never have done it without Devin. He hung all the decorations and even made some of them.
All in all I'd say it's a pretty cool place to work.

Moon


Moon, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

This is how the moon looked from our front window last night. Beautiful, isn't it?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Devin!!!



Dev's birthday bash was a big hit on Saturday. This pic pretty much sums up the event.

I'll post more about it later, but this pretty much speaks for itself!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Weekend!

Dev and I are headed to Montrose this weekend to celebrate his 40th birthday with his family.

I will take many pics during the birthday bash and humiliate Dev by publishing them right here!

So have a great weekend and I'll talk to you Sunday night!

Baseball

Ugh! I hate it when the Braves play the Rockies.

I root for the Rockies all during the season because Colorado is my adopted home. But when they play the Braves, that always means trouble. How can I turn my back on almost 20 years of loyalty to the Braves??

Misery. Pure misery.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sunday Dinner



Sunday dinner was all about comfort food.

I made smashed potatoes which I find much lower maintenance than mashed potatoes. I just boil some chopped red potatoes with a few garlic cloves and a bay leaf, then remove the bay leaf and smash the potatoes and garlic with some butter, a little salt and pepper and about 3 tablespoons of cream cheese.

I also had to use up a few calabacitas I had in the fridge, so I diced half an onion, 2 calabacitas, a yellow squash and 2 roma tomatoes and sauteed them in a little olive oil and red pepper flakes. I added a few cups of sweet white corn kernels towards the end.

And the main course was My Momma's Salmon Patties. This recipe has been around forever. When I was a teenager and had braces, whenever I would get the bands tightened and my mouth was sore, Mom made salmon patties and mashed potatoes.

The recipe is pretty simple:

Weezy's Salmon Patties

1 can red salmon (picked through for bones and skin)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 c. quick cooking oats
1/4 c. sauteed onion
1 egg, beaten
3 t. lemon juice
1/3 c. milk
2 T. mayo
Cracker Crumbs
butter flavored crisco

This makes me laugh because I know my Mom never measured ANYTHING- so I don't when I make these.

Drain and debone the salmon; set aside. Mix 1/4 of the can of soup, the oatmeal, the onion, the egg, the lemon juice (she probably used bottled- I used fresh) and the drained salmon. Make sure to blend all ingredients well. Make small patties and roll in cracker crumbs. Fry until brown.

I used panko bread crumbs instead of cracker crumbs. I also formed the patties and put them in the ice box for about 30 minutes to firm them up and help them hold together better in the skillet. I also used a little olive oil instead of butter flavored crisco.

You can make a sauce out of the remainder of the soup, the milk and the mayo. I used yogurt instead of mayo and added a shot of vermouth at the end to kick it up a bit.

I'm not sure that Dev thought these were very good, but I loved them. I took one to school today for lunch. And since I doubt he'll eat any, I'll probably be doing the same thing for the next 4 days in a row! :)

Saturday In the Valley

We started our Saturday at the Farmers' Market, as usual. The SLV Big Band was playing, which is always good entertainment, so we walked around for a little while. We really didn't need anything, so we didn't stay long.

After perusing the market, we headed out to Monte Vista to visit Home Lake. Home Lake is a soldiers and sailors home. Dev tried to explain how that is a little different than a state veterans' home, but I don't remember what he said.

Anyhoo- it is a beautiful place. There are older buildings there that I would surmise date back at least to the WWII era, as well as modern buildings. Here's a shot of the old pool hall...



I took a whole slew of pics and uploaded them to my flickr page...here's the link to the set.

But by far, the most striking thing on the campus is the veterans' cemetary. The graves there are from the Civil War forward. We saw graves of veterans from the Spanish American War as well.



The hardest thing to see where the few graves there from Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Before I met Dev, I never really thought about the people currently serving in our military the same way I thought about older veterans (say from WWII or Korea or even Vietnam). But now, listening to the stories he tells about his time in Iraq, or just thinking of him all the way over there, without his family and friends, doing everything he can to serve his country, my eyes have been opened. When I think of how lucky I am that Dev came home, and how different things could have been, it makes me so thankful for him and so sad for the families of the men and women who won't make it home. To see a new grave, with a picture of a young man next to it, who was killed before his 19th birthday, is very hard to stomach. I can not even imagine what a tragedy like that does to a family.

I know I have been very verbal about my opposition to the war over in Iraq, but that doesn't mean that I don't support the troops 100%. They do not get to choose where they go, nor do they get to question why they are being sent. Right or wrong- good reasons or bad ones- they are there. And many of them will never be the same because of it. I know everyone is saying this, but I think it is true. If you see someone either in the military or who is a veteran, you really should thank them for the sacrifices they are willing to make in the line of duty.

In my own family, my nephew, Michael, has chosen to join the Marines and will go to basic training at the end of October. Even though way deep down I'm afraid for him and I will worry about him, my overwhelming feeling is one of pride. I think it takes a lot of guts and bravery to make that decision, no matter what other options are available.

I won't get to see Michael before he leaves, but I hope he knows how much I love him and how proud I am of him.

Date Night

It's not often that Dev and I decide to have an old fashioned date night. There are several reasons for this (we've been shacked up for over 2 years now, there aren't many places to go here in Alamosa, everything is ridiculously expensive, etc.), but really there's no excuse.

So after work on Friday, I announced to Dev that he was taking me out on a date. I had heard a new steak house opened out between Blanca and Fort Garland, so I figured we'd give it a try. Plus- Dev spent 6 weeks out at Fort Garland this summer at a field archaeology school and learned about some really cool things at the fort I wanted to see.

I took some pics while we were out there and posted them to my flickr page. Here's the link to the set.

Dinner was ok. It was pretty typical for what you find in this area. Dev had a steak and rice and I ordered the ribs. My portion was huge (I have a knack for choosing the hugest thing on the menu), so I ate about 3 of the ribs and half my baked potato. The nice thing about that is, you always have enough for lunch the next day. There was enough left for both of us to have ribs the next day.

On the way back to Alamosa, I shot a pic of some clouds out the window and when I uploaded the pics to the puter, I was shocked at how neat the pic looked. Here it is...



I didn't even play with the color saturation.

I think the sunsets are one of the best things about living around here. The sky seems so huge and the colors so deep, it never fails to take my breath away.
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