Monday, November 24, 2008

Sante Fe/Albequerque

This weekend Dev and I took off for Sante Fe and Albequerque.

Dev is taking an artillery class at Adams State, and he needed to go to some sort of artillery re-enactors event at the New Mexico Veterans' Memorial in Albequerque.

So he came and picked me up from school on Friday and we hit the road for Sante Fe. We stayed at a charming little place called the Olde Sante Fe Inn. It had a nice southwestern vibe, with strings of chilies hanging from the doorways, and beautiful tile work in the rooms. Here's a shot of the outside of our room...



It was very reasonably priced, and I would love to go back when we can stay for the whole weekend- preferably during the winter, when there aren't as many people running around using up oxygen.

We left Saturday morning and drove into Albequerque.

I dropped Dev off at the Veterans' Memorial...



Which, by the way, is very cool. You should go sometime.

Then I embarked on my own little adventure.

Albequerque is a big city.

I am really bad at navigating.

And I was by myself.

But I did ok. First I went to this international market down the street from the memorial. It was huge, and it had anything you could ever want. It reminded me of a scaled down version of the Dekalb Farmers' Market in Decatur, GA.

I was very good and only purchased a few small items (chinese noodles, dashi flakes and dried wakame).

After that, I drove to the Barnes and Noble to get a map. I figured it couldn't hurt, right?

Here's how badly I needed a map- I couldn't find the same door out of the Barnes and Noble, so I went out the back door, and accidently found a huge mall.

So I bopped around in the mall for an hour or two, then decided I was bored and went back to the memorial and knitted and watched Dev's class learn how to load and fire a civil war era canon.

After class, Dev and I went to the California Pizza Kitchen for dinner, did a quick run through of the Borders, and drove home.

I think it was the most exciting weekend we'd had in a while!

I have more of the pics from the trip posted to my flickr page...

Another Lovely Sunday Breakfast



Have I mentioned lately how much I love weekend breakfasts? I'm sure I have. Most of my posts seem to be about weekend breakfast.

Dev and I went to Sante Fe and Albequerque this weekend, so Sunday was the only day I cooked.

I had a ton of veggies left in the fridge from the harvest at the greenhouse last weekend, and I needed to use everything up fast (We are headed out again Tuesday to go to Montrose til Sunday).

I have posted about rostis before. I have found these to be a great way to clean out the refrigerator. Basically it's a big potato pancake with whatever you want on the top, shoved under the broiler til it's a big hunk of melty cheesy love. Here's a link to my original rosti post.

This time around I used bacon, onion, swiss chard, mushrooms and tomatoes, topped with cheddar cheese. Because Dev doesn't like fried eggs, I topped his with scrambled eggs when it came out from under the broiler. I, on the other hand, am a runny yolk person, so I topped mine with a couple of fried eggs. There's something about the yolk that helps emulsify the whole dish.

Anyway, as usual, these were to die for. When Dev and I retire and have all the time in the world, I might just make these during the week, too. But right now, he'll have to suffer through crappy weekday breakfasts to get to the decent weekend stuff.

My Private Shame...

Everyone has something embarassing they don't want anyone else to know...webbed feet, fear of paper clips...something. And most people take great pains to make sure no one ever finds out about their "thing."

Well, I want to exorcise my demons right here, right now.

This semester Dev has had all night classes, and one night a week I eat dinner by myself. I have to eat dinner unsupervised. All alone. No one knows what I eat. Except me. I am a bad, bad girl.

I want the world to know that I do not have the intestinal fortitude to resist the siren song of the tater tot. I'm not talking half way healthy baked tater tots. I'm not even talking home made tater tots. I'm talking about very specific tater tots... from SONIC.

I know, I know. I'm a food snob who criticizes every restaurant meal I ever eat. I'm a purist who insists on home made yogurt and bacon. I like home made pizza better than pizza from a restaurant. BUT I CAN'T HELP IT! I LOVE SONIC TATER TOTS!

They are so horrible for me. And I feel so guilty when I eat them. I don't even want Dev to know...I take the trash out of the house and throw it in the apartment dumpster so he won't see it.

The only saving grace for me is that after the middle of December, I will no longer be eating unsupervised. When Dev is around I make much better food choices.

But I feel better having shared this with you. It's almost like therapy (but less expensive).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekend Update...

What a busy weekend! I didn't get to do as much cooking as I wanted (needed) to do, but it was great to be out around town and active!

Friday I went to an organizational meeting for the Artwalk. Unfortunately, because of funding issues, there won't be an Artwalk this year (it's supposed to be in March)- but a few people are starting to meet so we can seek other sources of funding to recreate Artwalk for next year. I think it's a wonderful community event and I'm eager to jump in and do whatever is necessary to help bring it back!

Saturday I went to the Vintage Garage and participated in a knitting party of sorts. This really neat person named Kim runs a gorgeous little yarn shop in the Vintage Garage, and she invited local knitters to come to her shop and sit and talk and knit. We ended up sitting at the back table in "Back in Thyme" (a WONDERFUL place to eat if you've never been in there). Kim didn't get to spend very much time with us, because she had to work the register at the store- which is a shame because she seems like a really neat person and I'd love to pick her brain and get to know her better!

Sunday Dev and I went over to the Community Greenhouse to help them do the last of their fall harvesting and bring in the watering system, etc. I had such a great time! Here's a pic of the last of the late fall veggies we harvested...




We are planning to keep going every Sunday for the rest of the winter, as the greenhouse will be open and producing veggies and plants all year around. There are so many knowledgeable(sp) people volunteering there, you can't help but learn stuff while you work.

After working in the greenhouse, my friend Jan and I went to another knitting party at another friend's house. I find it so relaxing and rewarding to sit with other women as they knit and talk. Again- I learn so much just by osmosis....

Sunday night I came home and used the kale and onions we had harvested earlier, and whipped up some fish tacos. Here's a pic...



The whole process was really easy. I washed and chopped the kale, sliced the mushrooms and onions. After putting some olive oil and minced garlic in a skillet, I basically just wilted everything down.

I blackened some tilapia in the same skillet, then threw it on a tortilla with tomato salsa (made with the last of the tomatoes from the greenhouse).

It was a great meal (and really easy, too).

I suppose there's something to be said for busy weekends!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Weekend Cooking

I was in the kitchen quite a bit this weekend.

First up, I made a batch of banana muffins to have around for easy breakfasts and snacks this week. I totally cheated and used the bisquick muffin recipe- I just added mashed banana to the wet ingredients. They came out ok- not quite as sweet as I would have liked, but putting cream cheese frosting on them fixed that right up!



Next, I decided to make a batch of home made cinnamon rolls. Dev really likes them and although the are EVIL to have around, I made them anyway.

Just use a basic white bread dough recipe (I used my Dad's). After the first rise, roll the dough into more or less a rectangle (mine is never a rectangle- more like some sort of Rorshact(sp) dough blob experiment)then slather it with butter or margarine (I used Brummel and Brown Yogurt Spread) and brown sugar mixed with cinnamon.

Use a serrated knife to cut the roll into slices. One recipe of bread dough made about 12 slices. I put 6 slices into one 8 inch cake pan (greased very well) and 6 slices into another.

Preheat the oven to 350 and put the rolls on top of the stove with a towel over them, so they can rise a little before you park them in the oven for 30 minutes.

While the rolls are baking, make a batch of cream cheese frosting, then cover the hot from the oven rolls with the icing. OR you can frost them individually as you eat them. We do this because we can't (well we could but we shouldn't) eat the whole pan at one sitting.




Tonight's dinner was left over mac and cheese and smothered pork chops. Again, I totally cheated on the chops. I used rib chops on the bone, about an inch and a half thick- salted them and dredged them in a little flour, seared them in my new skillet, and removed them to a plate. I added chopped onion to the skillet and let it soften up for about 3 minutes. I deglazed with a little white wine, then dumped half a bottle of Cattleman's BBQ sauce in the pan. I stirred it around a little, put the chops back in to finish cooking and popped on the lid. By the time I had the mac and cheeese reheated, the chops were cooked through. I didn't take pics because I didn't remember to until we were half way through dinner. They were really good, and I'm sure I'll use this technique again!

I wonder what trouble I can get into next weekend???

"There Will Be Blood"

More like "There Will Be Questions- and There Won't Be Any Answers."

Dev and I watched "There Will Be Blood" last night. I had heard it was a good movie, so we were looking forward to watching it.

We piled on the sofa with our deconstructed barbecue chicken pizza (the cornbread crust stuck to the skillet so badly it wouldn't come out, so I just piled the scrambled up cornbread on the plate and put the pizza toppings on it), and got ready to be spellbound. Only that didn't happen.

To be fair, some of my negative attitude about the movie may be due to the fact that the movie stuck several times, and we had to stop it, restart it and go through the chapter selection menu to get back to where we were. I'm not sure if this is a netflix problem, or a "Mimi needs a new DVD player" problem.

But even giving credit for that, I still didn't get the movie.

The performances were good and all that- I have always been a fan of Daniel Day Lewis. To me, the best character in the movie was that crazy preacher Eli. As a matter of fact, he made me think about that preacher character in the "Polstergeist" movies. I bet that's what the old preacher man was like when he was young- CREEPY.

Anyway- that character really skeezed me out. I probably should have felt sorry for him at the end of the movie when Daniel Day Lewis bludgeoned him to death with a bowling pin, but I just couldn't. I figure he had it coming.

I think the next movie in our queue (sp) is "Ironman." I'm pretty sure that won't disappoint. It should have enough gratuitous explosions and violence to hold our attention. Not to mention, Robert Downey, Jr. ain't too tough to look at, ya know??

Very Funny!

I just saw this youtube video on my friend Jill's blog and I thought it was very entertaining.

So I'm posting it on my site as well..



Pretty good stuff! Who amongst us hasn't suffered from this malady??

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mac and Cheese



Macaroni and cheese has to be the undisputed queen of the comfort food kingdom.

Today has been a pretty cold day, and when I got home from school, I was craving a great big bowl of gooey, cheesy macaroni.

I checked out a couple of Rachael Ray cookbooks from our library (I really try to hate her, but I get really good, quick dinner ideas from her books and magazine) and there are about a billion different variations on mac and cheese in both books.

I chose one that combined broccoli with mac and cheese. Of course, I didn't have any broccoli, so mine was actually pea, mushroom and corn mac and cheese.

The recipe was pretty standard- boil the pasta, make a white sauce, add humungus amounts of shredded cheese of your choice and stir everything together with the veggies. If you want to see the recipe, check out "Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats." But really- you can wing it and get the same results.

I will say that the resulting mac and cheese was really tasty- I think it's the addition of dijon mustard and a bit of cayenne to the finished cheese sauce that gives it that push into delicious.

I will make it again, although next time I will add some sort of protein to beef up the nutritional value.

I also think a Spanish version with chorizo and maybe some green chili would also be really good.

Potato Soup



When the weather around here starts getting bitterly cold (it was 6 degrees here this morning), I start thinking about soups and stews. Last weekend I had some chicken stock to use up- so I decided to make some potato soup.

This recipe is an old southern one from a book called (appropriately enough) "Southern Cooking." The author of the cookbook, Lorine Olliff Hendricks, is from Metter, GA. The book is pretty entertaining, and includes recipes for possum and squirrel- I would say that's pretty authentic.

I was looking for a potato soup recipe (cuz I didn't have any possum or squirrel laying around) and found one on page 5.

Here's the recipe:

3 slices bacon
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped fine
3 cups potatoes, sliced thin
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. water (I used homemade chicken stock)
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese for garnish
3 cups milk
1/2 c. cream

Cook bacon in heavy saucepan until crisp. Remove for later use (I garnished the soup with it). In the bacon drippings, saute onions and carrots. Add water (or stock) and potatoes. Simmer until potatoes are tender (it took about 20 minutes for me). Add seasonings and milk. Heat to boiling point and add cream. When ready to serve, sprinkle crumbled bacon and shredded cheese on top. Yields 1 1/2 quarts.

If I make this again, I would dice the potatoes instead of slicing them. Sliced potatoes are hard to eat in soup. I also think it needed more flavor. It tasted more like milk soup than potato soup.

But it did the trick and warmed everyone up, so it wasn't a complete loss.

Birthday- Revisited

Sorry about the whiny birthday post yesterday, but I really was feeling down and homesick.

As is usual, a new day brings new perspective. I realize that I have many many things to be thankful for.

All around me there are positive things happening- my other best friend Lisanne has a brand new baby to love and raise. I have a great job as librarian at a primary school. Dev graduates in a few months. I could go on and on.

After all the crying and carrying on, Dev put me back together and took me to dinner at the golf club. When we came home, I found roses and a brand new 12 inch, French copper skillet. It made me feel guilty for feeling so depressed.

Here's a pic.



So what makes you feel better when you get depressed? Comfort food, that's what. The next two posts will be about what I'm cooking to dig my way back up to the surface....

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On My Birthday

My friend Diane wrote a post on her blog about turning 40. She recapped, in a few sentences, the decade she had just experienced, and shared her hopes for the next one.

This got me to thinking about my last decade. My 30's were a mixed bag. Meeting Devin was, of course, the highlight of my 30's, but there were quite a few other events tossed around in there.

I rekindled and strengthened my friendship with Diane. We have known each other for years, and our friendship has weathered some pretty rough times, but each year it seems we find more reasons why we will always be a part of each others' lives. We have gone through marriages (and matching divorces), freak dates by the thousands (between the 2 of us) untold numbers of bottles of wine (and pints at KB's)- I could go on and on. I guess this is part of the reason that my birthday this year hasn't been one of my best. I am homesick for possibly the first time since I moved out to Colorado, and I think one of the things I miss most is Diane. She just gets me. She knows I'm totally impractical, emotional and goofy. And she puts up with me anyway. I could have used some vino-Diane therapy today.

My family has gone through many changes in the last decade. Both of my parents have suffered ill health, and I worry about both of them quite a bit. I feel like I haven't been a part of my niece's and nephew's lives (especially in the last 3 years since I moved) and I need to stay in better contact with them. I miss sitting in the backyard talking with my sister. I miss talking with my Mom about everything (and nothing). Actually, I just miss being around to keep an eye on my Mom- you never know what she's gonna do. Her falling ill over the last 2 years has been one of the hardest things for me to deal with. It would be hard if I still lived in Savannah, but being 1700 miles away makes it even more awful. In short, I miss my Mommy.

My own health seems to have hit a rocky patch in the last couple of years as well. I have a whole new batch of things to worry about, and everyone knows I need more things to worry about.

With that said, I really am not miserable in Colorado. Meeting Devin was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. He loves me more than anything, and he puts up with my messiness and my emotionality and my impracticality. Believe me, I am not easy to live with. I love Colorado and I love spending time with Dev's family. I just wish there was a way to magically compromise and have everyone together (or at least in the same state).

Maybe part of my funk can be attributed to the fact that I haven't yet built the kind of life here that I had in Savannah. One could argue that it took 37 years to build that life and it doesn't happen overnight. I realize this, but I still miss the frequent gatherings with friends (book club, Braves games, tennis, oyster roasts, etc) and being more active in the community. I am not singing anywhere and I'm not in a book club. Those two things were a pretty big part of my life back home.

Perhaps I should put into practice some kind of plan to work towards building a more social, active life here in Colorado. I have joined a wonderful group of ladies who knit on Wednesdays, and that has become something I look forward to every week. And I have friends at school, we just never get together on the weekends- maybe I should try to remedy that. There are probably tons of things I could do to build relationships here in the Valley.

But maybe just for tonight, I can cry a little and miss the things I left back home. I hope everyone back there knows how much I love them and miss them.

Tomorrow I will wake up, kiss the love of my life and begin my new decade in Colorado...who knows what the next 10 years hold for me!!
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