Saturday, December 18, 2010

Another yummy winter dish...

It ends up something like this only over noodles.
 I forgot to get a picture of ours.

I don't know if this is really Sicilian, but it's definitely good.  I'm giving you my amended version (naturally) but I got the original recipe from Gooseberry Patch Keepsake Cookbook.

Mom's Sicilian Pot Roast

chuck roast
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cans petite diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, sliced
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
hot cooked noodles
Parmesan cheese.

Put all ingredients in a crock pot on low and simmer all day.  Towards the time you want serve it, break up the roast and make sure the carrots are done and it's the right consistency to put over noodles.  Add water or thicken with a little flour/water paste if needed.  Serve over noodles with Parmesan cheese.

I also made this.  I added about 1/4 cup of oil and doubled the salt.  It also didn't take quite all of the flour but that may be due to humidity issues (or, lack of humidity issues).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Oh, yum...

Josh helped me make Mexican Albondigas Soup and cornbread tonight.  It was very, very good.  Micaela gave me a cookbook for Catie, Food to Live By, and it's in there.  


For the meatballs:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion (1/4-inch dice or smaller)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 large egg

1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the soup:

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 medium-sized carrots, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

1 large leek, both white and light green parts, rinsed well and thinly sliced (about 1 cup), or 1 cup diced yellow onions (1/4-inch dice)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced

1 cup diced fresh or canned tomatoes, with their juice

10 cups store-bought low-sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon chili powder

Coarse (kosher) salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

1. Make the meatballs: Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and the cumin, thyme and oregano and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is soft and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Place the egg and the cream in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Add the bread crumbs and stir to combine.

3. Place the beef in a medium-size bowl. Add the onion mixture, the egg mixture and the salt and pepper and mix with your hands to combine. Form the beef mixture into 1-inch meatballs and place them on a platter. Refrigerate the meatballs, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight. (The meatballs can also be frozen at this point for up to 2 months. Let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight before proceeding with the recipe.)

4. Make the soup: Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add the carrots and leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and the jalapenos and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is soft but not browned, about 2 minutes.

5. Add the tomatoes, stock and chili powder. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and let simmer for 10 minutes.

6. Add the meatballs and adjust the heat so that the soup simmers gently, uncovered, until the meatballs are cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.

7. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the soup hot, garnished with the chopped cilantro. Any leftover soup can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 3 days.

_ From "Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook," Workman

Sunday, November 21, 2010

For quilt lovers...

This is the neatest idea for "using it up".
Scrappy Quilt

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The joys of being Pops...

He is so patient and loving with all the living things at our house, especially me.  I found this on my monitor one morning:

The joys of being Mimi...

Mayah and I made her a pillowcase out of the "beautiful" fabric.  She chose stars for the hem.

Jordy chose one out of this fabric with flowers for the hem but I neglected to get a picture.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Use it up...

Lissie bought a dress and she asked me to turn it into a top for her.  It had four tiers, so I just cut off the bottom tier and shortened the lining. Now the fabric I removed is a skirt for one of the girls. The print is a filmy polyester and is definitely see-through.  It would have been nice to use the solid for a lining, but that's all there was so it got a ruffle instead.  Lissie said it would look cute over leggings and I agree.  Now we'll have to see which one of them it fits.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Much complaining later...

Photo of coat and pattern pull out from magazine.  Dizzying, isn't it?

The blue is darker than it seems here, more like the shade in the subsequent photos.
I am FINALLY done with a coat I made for Rocco.  Lissie chose the fabrics from my excessive stash.  It is a pattern from the Finnish magazine, Ottobre, the Autumn 2010 issue, number 19, Naava.  These patterns are very different from the standard American ones.  They have no seam allowances and the directions are not always helpful to me.  There aren't many pictures of the sewing process and since I'm a visual learner, this presents a problem.  Sometimes I had to do things my own way because I couldn't wrap my head around what the instructions said.
In the end, despite many mistakes, I think it turned out pretty well.  The first time I cut it out, I forgot to add seam allowances.  No problem for the corduroy...big problem for the lining.  I had had the blue fabric for about 30 years, since I lived in Seattle.  I loved the color and just never wanted to cut into it.  Thirty years of uncertain storage took its toll.  There was fading along fold lines in many places.  I was able to find enough good areas to cut it out (twice), but the cotton print remnant was finite in amount and I'd gotten it several years ago.  I couldn't cut it out again with seam allowances.  After some analyzing of the situation, I decided to make bias tape to sew the seams of the lining together.  I also didn't put in true pockets, just the fake welt.  They weren't going to look right and no one year old needs real pockets.  Hopefully, Buddy's will be easier.
I think it worked as well as it could have.  It took a a lot of thinking on my part to figure out how to fix all the mistakes I made.  Ever since I had my thyroid removed, my brain doesn't work quite up to the speed it did before.  Or, maybe it's the fact that I'm not stressed and on overload working a gazillion hours a day.  That pace probably did keep me sharper in some ways.  Not happier, though.  I'm much happier these days...much.
Look how I positioned this in the lining.  Just want to help Rocco remember where he needs to come home to eventually.  Libya isn't Idaho, lucky for me.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ingrid Michaelson - Maybe (Official Music Video)

We saw The Knitting Factory on Friday night.  She is cheeky, funny, sassy girl.  She could be one of my daughters, fitting right in between Sarah and Catie.  I think I'm going to ask her...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Embarrassment of tomatoes...

The haul from the vine that I thought never really produced.  I pulled it up yesterday and found these in the deep recesses of the cage.  Now to taste one and see if they're edible...
If they are, I may make this (I'm thinking bacon might be good in it, too.):
Ariela's Tomato Basil Quiche
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons unseasoned dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or equivalent dry basil)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
Preheat oven to 400F.  
Whisk sour cream, milk, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, eggs, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl; pour into pie shell.  Combine remaining cheese, breadcrumbs, basil and garlic in small bowl.  Sprinkle over sour cream mixture.  Top with tomatoes.
Bake 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack for 5 minutes before serving.

I've made it a couple of times before and it's really good.  I cut it out of the Idaho Statesman several years ago and have it starred and saved in my massive binder of recipes.  I only star the ones that I've actually made or eaten and are yummy.  Most of my saved recipes are just in there for security, though.  Like my sewing patterns, I hoard them but don't use them...sad, I know.  Hey, maybe I can get on Hoarders or sumsing!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The big tree finally went down...

It's so rotten it just collapsed.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A source of cute free girls' sewing patterns...

Here you go!  They are from the book, "Carefree Clothes for Girls".  There's no instructions, but they look pretty simple if you know how to sew.  Look down at the bottom.  Click on the links and they download.  You can open them with whatever PDF reader you use.  I use Sumatra.  It's free and quicker than Adobe.

A dream realized...

I've wanted an Elna "Grasshopper" sewing machine for several years now. My dad bought one new for my mom when I was born. He sewed me two little sun suits by copying one I already had. He'd never sewn before. I still have those sun suits somewhere. I'll try to find them and post a picture.
I taught myself to sew on my mom's Elna. It only did a straight stitch, but I was able to make a lot of clothes on that little thing.
The accessory box fits right behind the needle and the silver thing folds down.

These items are rare to have with a Grasshopper.

The case becomes a sewing area and the knee control takes the place of a foot pedal.
Now I have a replacement.  I saw it up high in a local sewing shop and asked if it was for sale.  The man said he wasn't sure.  "Tell me what you want to pay and I'll think about it."  I had an idea, but thought it was too low.  I came back a few weeks later and we made a deal.  It was a purely nostalgic purchase, even though it does work quite well.  I may even try to reprise one of those little sun suits...just because.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Wordle of this blog...

Wordle: butterfly

I wish I knew how to make it bigger. I tried fixing the HTML, but Jeff's not here to supervise and it didn't work. Click on it and it takes you to the Wordle site where it's readable.

Monday, September 6, 2010

What we did on our summer vacation...

We went rafting with Cascade Raft and Kayak.  It is very much fun, in my opinion, and not scary at all.  These were Class 2 and 3 rapids.  Next year we're going on another trip they have with Class 3 and 4.  I'm amazed that I don't get motion sickness on these trips, but I don't.  I went last year with my friend, Charo, too.
I "rode the bull" half of the trip and everyone thought I'd fall off for sure, but I never did--never even came close.  (Last year I had a really hard time staying on.)  I think there were seven or eight other rafts full of people.  Everyone else who tried to stay on couldn't.  I'm pretty proud of myself.  One young man came up and complimented me and asked how I did it.  He told me he fell off right away.
My secret?  Those black pants I have on.  I bought them at REI on clearance the day before and they turned out to be very "grippy" on the raft.  I only slipped a little once when there was a really big wave that got me soaking wet.
We are going to make all the fam go with us next year, so be prepared!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I have not died.  Moving to Idaho has just been very discombobulating.  Well, I guess it wasn't the moving to Idaho part so much as the trying to cram two entirely different personalities into one little house with all that entails...and clearing out years of collected detritus while trying to remain calm and not blame it on each other.  It's getting better.
I'll let you know how it goes from here...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Something for Liss...

Our dog park (ignore Jeff on the bench)

A random Bernese Mountain dog in Philly
And then there's the lovely Bella...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

There's so much in Philly...

It's impossible to see and/or photograph it all.
 A bust of Ben Franklin made of keys donated by schoolchildren.  Keys because of his discovery of electricity.  When you're close to it you can see that they just pressed the keys into the shape because it still looks like it's covered with keys.                                                   Cobblestones made from the ballast of ships bringing supplies to America

       The funny guy who made our cheesesteaks.

The meeting house of the Free Quakers who supported the Revolutionary fighters.  Betsy Ross was one.

The Liberty Bell

The building where the first Congress met.  Get it?  The Lower House and the Upper House because one met on the lower floor and the other met on the upper.  They still call them that today.
                          Independence Hall                                                                    
The Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society
This guy was in the Visitor's Center.  He is in character as the man who ran the first circus in America.  I tried and tried to get him to talk about his real identity, but he was quite serious and never broke his act.  He only cracked a tiny smile once.

Some of Philly...

This betrays my abject ignorance of important things but I never realized how much Philly is integral to the history of the formation of the United States.  It was the first capital of the US, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written there, the houses of three branches of government were originally built in the same block, the first flag was made there and so, so much more.  It's pretty awe inspiring to visit and humbling to realize I'll never be able to fully appreciate the gravity and importance of those times.  People don't take the time to thank the men depicted in this room for their sacrifice and dedication to the tasks that they set themselves to accomplish.

This is in the Constitution Center.  In most of it you can't take photographs, but people were sneaking them here.  There were a lot more of these statues and you can see plaques imbedded in the floor at their feet that had their name and state on them.  We also went to the Ancient Rome & America exhibit that shows how much ancient Rome influenced the founders of the country and Americans as a whole at that time.
"John Adams referred to the Constitution as “the greatest single effort of national deliberation that the world has ever seen” and George Washington wrote to the Marquis de Lafayette that 'It (the Constitution) appears to me, then, little short of a miracle.' "  See this quote and many other interesting facts here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

And another thing...

I got this from Etsy for $4.50!  Look at the size!  Not easy to find in vintage patterns.  I like the princess lines and the asymmetry of the side tie.  They call it a housecoat in the longer version and a dress in the shorter.  Naturally, it's fragile and unmarked.  I haven't even unfolded the tissue yet.  I hope all the pieces are there.  Even if they're not, it's simple enough that I can probably wing it...should I ever decide to make it.


One for MOM...a Dritz Bound Buttonhole Maker...never even opened!  The "Holy Grail" (as defined by someone else who managed to find one) for any serious sewist has been acquired after much stalking on Ebay...and not for $75!  Why did I not know about this before I made two of this dress for Catie?!  You will notice that is a total of 18 bound buttonholes!  All lovingly and painstakingly handmade.  I am such a good mom...
I managed to snag it because I did a lot of footwork.  If you really want one do this:  Search for "Dritz" on Ebay.  Then look for listings that don't know what they have.  I saw this in a collection of old sewing things that the person listed as incidental to buying an old sewing box.  It wasn't readily visible in the collection and she only listed it as a Dritz item, not the actual name of the device.  I won it and then asked her not to even send the box because it was ragged, dirty and old.  I also found the larger one like this that is for making welt pockets at the Mennonite thrift store for $1...  ;0)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

This is why...

I am so worried about poison is vicious.

Frenchtown, NJ...

A covered bridge on the way.  Almost the entire trip was through a canopy of trees and almost every tree is festooned with poison joke.  It's that thick around here.

We went there this past weekend.  It's little town on the Delaware River that is trying to be touristy.  They are succeeding, but it isn't too far gone yet.  Cyclists come and ride along the river and there are some cute little shops.

It was a peaceful, green drive for us and we ate outside at a tiny restaurant.  The couple who sat next to us were funny and friendly and they had a dog that Bella sniffed at.

A look into the kitchen of the restaurant.  It's hard to see, but these are rock show posters from my era.  There were also framed vinyl record covers from that same time period in the bathroom...The Mothers of Invention, Jefferson Airplane, Cream, Iron Butterfly.  It was obvious that the owner was a heathen sixties hippy who never grew up...

Cute old house.

There is a yarn shop there called The Spinnery but we didn't get a picture of that.  I bought a skein of Romney, I think, and a magazine.
Frenchtown is also the home of the author of Eat, Pray, Love and her husband.  They have a shop called Two Buttons that I visited.  It isn't quaint or old.  It is full of Asian products like buddhas and beads and countless other kitsch.  Because I wasn't interested in that sort of "art" and it was 80F and 88% humidity, I wasn't into it at all.  I just went in to say that I saw the author of Eat, Pray, Love's shop...and I've never even cracked the book.  It has been made into a movie, though.  Maybe I'll see that.

My 21+ meals...

Catie wrote a post about their 21 favorite meals and meal planning.  I do sort of the same thing but I'm not as good at planning as she is.  I have a Weekly Meal Planner sheet that I've been trying to fill out each week.  What usually ends up happening is that I make a tentative plan based on what we have to use up then I amend it as the week unfolds.  I hope to build up a bunch of these and then I can go to them when I want to set up an automatic plan that I can just regenerate effortlessly.  My guys are pretty easy but I have made a fews things they don't really like.  (I use organic and/or whole wheat, brown stuff whenever possible and they don't complain.)
Here are some main dishes they do like:
1.   Butter Chicken
2.   Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas-this is like the one I use except I put some of the sauce in with the chicken filling
3.   Pork Tenderloin baked with a spicy barbecue rub that we bought at the Outdoor Expo.  I'm going to have to figure out how to reproduce it.
4.   Spaghetti-standard, everyday made with Prego or whatever; when we get to Idaho I'm going to go back to homemade sauce.
5.   Cincinnati Chili-no vinegar and I put the beans in the chili
6.   Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich
7.   Classic Meat Lasagna
8.   Sticky Chicken-use 1 teaspoon salt and only one chicken for all the spices; you can also use a cut up lemon, lime or orange instead of the onion
9.   CPK BBQ Chicken Pizza
10.  Stir Fry
11.  Stromboli-this is just an example; make pizza dough, roll it out and put pizza-y things in it, but not too much moisture; cut in slices and serve with hot spaghetti sauce to dip it in
12.  Pot Roast with carrots and mashed potatoes
13.  Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream
14.  Tuna Casserole
15.  Chicken Monterey
16.  Bean and Cheese Nachos
17.  Spicy Pork Chops, Rancher's Style-from a New Mexico cookbook; Jeff grew up there and he likes NM food
18.  Crunchy Pecan-Crusted Chicken Fingers
19.  Italian Sausage and Shrimp with Linguine
20.  Mexican Style Shredded Pork
21.  Beef Barley Soup-season to taste and don't use bouillon
22.  Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
and others that I make up on the fly...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Nature stinks sometimes...

We have had a pair of mourning doves around our apartment for several months and have enjoyed watching them "bill and coo" and listen to their calls.

They made a nest on a furnace vent of the townhouse next door and I can see it as I sit at my computer every day.

It's a little more difficult now because the trees have leafed out.

Today I went out to take the trash and when I was walking back I saw a large bird fly into the tree right next to the nest.

Not being much of a birder, it took me a few seconds to realize that it was a hawk, not a crow.

Almost the instant I identified it, it flew with great force into the nest and hit the wall then flew away. I knew what had happened.

My husband and I got the ladder and a mirror to look inside the nest. There were feathers and three eggs. A fourth egg was on the ground under the nest.

I'm sure the hawk got at least one of the doves if not both. There were also lots of feathers on the ground for several feet.

It's kind of sad to us because we really enjoyed those two little birds. Circle of life and all that, I guess.

Monday, April 19, 2010

An Idaho Power recipe...

I made breakfast for supper last night and it was so yummy.  We had Multi-Grain Pecan Pancakes, yogurt, fried apples, sliced bananas, orange juice and.....bacon.  Bad, bad, bad Julie!  What can I say?  I had it in the frig...
Here's the pancake recipe that I clipped from the Idaho Power bill insert.  I've saved a lot of those recipes over the years, but I think this is the only one I've ever actually made.  It calls for 2 cups of buttermilk, but I used yogurt because I needed to use up organic yogurt I got for cheap.  It made enough that we had leftovers, but they are gone today.

Multi-Grain Pecan Pancakes

1       cup whole wheat flour
1/2    cup all-purpose flour ( I used 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour instead)
1/2    cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4    cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1       tsp. baking soda
1/2    tsp. salt
3       Tbsp. oil
2       eggs
2       cups buttermilk ( I used yogurt)
1/4    cup honey
1/4    cup chopped pecans

Stir together the dry ingredients.  Mix the liquid ingredients.  Stir the dry ingredients into the liquid.  Fold in the pecans.  Cook as usual.  I would make them smaller rather than large because they cook up very tender and are difficult to turn if they are bigger than about 1/4 cup size.  It says it makes 16 four-inch pancakes.

Love you, all my dear readers (family) and I hope you are safe and intact...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Some things...

I will miss about Pennsylvania.
1.  My hair stays fluffier due to the humidity.  I need it because as you get older, your hair thins.
2.  Places we want to go are generally not very far away.  We save a lot on gas.
3.  We go to a really nice church.  Big, but nice, and it's only a couple of miles away.
4.  I adore the Mennonite Care and Share Shoppes thrift stores.  There are three stores in the same strip mall, one for furniture/appliances, one for clothing and one for everything else.  My favorite is the last one.
5.  The green everywhere and the birds.  There may be more birds because there aren't any cats loose in our complex.
6.  There's Whole Foods and Ikea.  They aren't real close, but I can go if I want and it isn't a full day's drive.
7.  Jomar.  They have huge messy piles of fabric bolts and it's all very cheap.  Again, not close, but not too bad.
8.  Josh's school.  The teachers and principal are all such dedicated educators and genuinely nice people.  They do an excellent job.
That's all for now.  More later...

One may be Jeff and one may be me...

Friday, April 16, 2010


I found a page that explains how to activate the links. It's just too late tonight to be that thinky... Will try tomorrow.

New template...

But I can't figure out how to make the top right "About", "FAQ" and "Contact" links active. It was free, as many of them are, so I can't expect perfection. It would be nice to figure out how to make them work though. Jeff has taught me to be bold and hack the HTML a tiny bit so I can customize some but not completely at will. Maybe I'll be able to figure it out from the web somehow and I'm going to contact the creator, too.

Monday, April 12, 2010


talked to Lissie in the airport in DUBAI at 12:00am her time on the way to visit Catie in Daejeon... Never thought I'd be typing that sentence...
This was taken at 3:00am (her departure time).

Dubai International Airport

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What we ate Saturday...

at the Puerto Rican restaurant in Q-Mart. It was all delicious. So much for the healthy, organic diet...
Chicken Empanada

Bisteca, Yellow Rice with Pigeon Peas, Pink Beans

Pastelon de Platano Maduro, Yellow Rice with Pigeon Peas, Pink Beans

Pastelon de Platanos Maduros

Pastelon is a Puerto Rican dish. Picture a lasagna, but instead of noodles for the separating layers, you use plantains. It's SO good! There are many variations. Plus, there are a lot of common additions to Pastelon - like capers, olives or raisins, if you desire.
1½ hours | 30 min prep
  1. Heat dash of oil, sofrito, Sazon, onion and garlic on medium heat until well sauteed.
  2. Add ground beef and tomato sauce and stir until well cooked, but not dry.
  3. Drain any grease.
  4. Make sure ground beef is well ground (that it has no chunks).
  5. Add cheese to picadillo (ground beef), if using, it helps to bind the meat together.
  6. Peel and slice plantains lengthwise.
  7. If the plantains are large, you'll probably get about three-four lengths per plantain.
  8. Saute plantain slices in medium-hot oil for a few mintues, flipping halfway through cooking.
  9. Set slices on paper toweled tray or use a brown garbage bag, and allow the oil to be absorbed; and pat dry.
  10. Layer plantains along bottom of greased 9x9 pan.
  11. Pour two eggs, beaten, over bottom layer.
  12. Top with ground beef layer.
  13. Repeat plantain and beef layers, making sure the plantain layer is the top.
  14. Optional cheese layer on top.
  15. Cook in 350ºF oven for about 35 minutes, making sure eggs are cooked and not watery.