Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

wordless wednesday

This is my submission for Sweetnick's Weekend Dog Blogging. If you love dogs, you will enjoy checking out her blog Sunday night to see the lineup of much-loved canines in all their doggie glory!

who, me?

Oh, man. What have I gotten myself into?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

the best bbq recipe ever

  1. Buy incredible ribs at Big Fatty's. Cole slaw and corn bread optional.
  2. Spread your best newspapers in a thick layer over your table.
  3. Put a roll of paper towels in the middle of the table.
  4. Invite friends who make their own home-brew dark beer.
  5. Roll up your sleeves and dig in.
  6. When you can't eat another bite, eat one anyway.
  7. When done, roll up the newspapers and discard.
  8. Repeat at least once a month.
Love you guys!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

snoozus interruptus

"I think I'll take a nice, long afternoon nap. Aaaahhh. Love the smell of that foot. So fuzzy. Warm on the nose. Soothing. Puts me right to ... sleep ... zzzzz"

"Wha .. what ... what was that? A
flash? Can't a guy get a little shuteye around here without a flash goin' off in his face?"

"Ah ... better .... zzzzzzzz....."

[Shhh ...
This is my submission for Sweetnick's Weekend Dog Blogging. If you love dogs, you will enjoy checking out her blog Sunday night to see the lineup of much-loved canines in all their doggie glory!]

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

wordless wednesday


Simba's done such a good job of psyching out all the squirrels in the neighborhood; they're terrified of him. When we were away a lot over the holidays, the yard started to swarm with them, but within a week of our return, we were back to just one or two at a time. He's the most effective squirrel deterrent I've seen, short of going through the routine I went through one pre-Simba year, using a hav-a-hart trap to collect over twenty of them and take them to a nearby mountainside to release them.

In the process, I learned how very not smart chipmunks are. I love my chipmunks, but they kept getting in the trap to eat the seeds, getting caught, freaking out, being released, and then going right back in there. Doh.

You've got to give the squirrels some credit, though. It doesn't worry them to see Simba sitting by the back door watching them. What gives them the heebie-jeebies is when they see me moving around inside. That's when there's a chance the door will come flying open and the dog will come flying out, and they're smart enough to have figured that out!

This big fat grey took off for the tree when I hove into view, even though Simba was nowhere in sight. Then she cautiously watched me as I left to get my camera and came back. I snapped lots of shots of her in various poses as she cocked her head, twitched her tail, and generally kept an anxious eye on me. Eventually she headed up the tree and away, but it was really fun to get to see her "closeup," courtesy of the zoom lens on the camera!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Gingered Lemon Bars

Saturday I went to a read-through of Singin In The Rain, which is being presented by North Country Community Theatre in July. The weekend before, I screwed up my courage and did an audition, and landed a role in the chorus. It's a great place to be for a first theater experience! And as it turns out, the chorus is on stage for more than half the scenes, which I'm told is unusual for a musical. Yippee!
[By the way, the audition process wasn't nearly as scary as you might think. The people were incredibly kind, delighted to have a newcomer since they often see the same faces at all the auditions. I had already set their expectations fairly low, saying I don't dance at all and don't sing much, and I had set my own expectations very low, thinking even if they didn't want me, I would have had the experience. So when they asked me to stay for a dance audition (what a joke!) and read some lines (terrific fun!), I was just really flattered. ]
Anyway, the first step evidently is to read through the play with everyone sitting in a circle, so we all could be acquainted with the scenes and who is in which. (Wow! We have some really talented people playing the leads!) The afternoon started with a potluck lunch so we could all get acquainted. I'd been wanting to try Elise's Gingered Lemon Bars, originally posted on her Simply Recipes website. I love lemon bars. Truth be told, I love lemon desserts of all kinds! Lemon mousse, lemon meringue pie, lemon cake, it's all good.

I have a recipe for lemon bars that I've used for years, but Elise's recipe has crystallized ginger and ground ginger in the crust. Doesn't that sound yummy? I thought the peppery bite might complement the sweet-sourness of the filling beautifully. And it did! I'm happy to report that by the end of the read-through there were very few bars left, and one fellow stopped by to declare them "addictive."

A successful debut!

I won't post the recipe here, since it's really Elise's recipe, but you can scoot over to her website to get it. Here are some comments, though, of some things I've learned over the years and one new thing I learned with this recipe. I hope you try it yourself someday, and if you do, please drop me a comment to tell me how they turned out!

Elise's Gingered Lemon Bars

The first step was to chop the crystallized ginger. You may know that crystallized ginger, also known as candied ginger, consists of strips of ginger root cooked in sugar syrup and coated with sugar. I can buy it relatively cheaply from the bulk department of our local cooperative food store; you might also find it in the produce section or the baking section of your supermarket. If you find it somewhere else, will you let me know so I can update this little guide?

Crystallized ginger has a very peppery taste and a sticky kind of a gummy-worm texture, which doesn't lend itself well to being chopped. After a bit of experimentation, I learned that freezing the ginger before chopping it makes it eminently choppable. Even for the half-cup needed, though, I found that I had to refreeze the second half, because it softened up incredibly fast. You might want to take half out of the freezer and chop it, and then the second half.

I used my beloved chopper from Pampered Chef (comes apart completely, wash it in the dishwasher, great for taking out any frustrations you might have on the cutting board!) but obviously you could use whatever you like to chop with.

Next, prepare the crust per Elise's directions. As you can see from this photo, the chunks of ginger make the crust look deliciously freckled. Isn't it wonderful that you can pat a crust into a pan without having to make it look perfectly flat? The filling will cover any evidence of your lack of perfectionism. Perfect. :) This photo was taken when the crust had just barely begun to brown, which is when you want to take it out of the oven.

Although the recipe doesn't comment on this, I have learned that it is very important to have your filling ready to pour into the crust while the crust is still sizzling hot. This will cause the filling to begin to cook from the bottom and prevent it from soaking into the crust and making it soggy. Just mix it up as soon as you put the crust in the oven, and then give it a quick swish when you take the crust out of the oven, and pour it right in. I love hearing the sizzle when the liquid hits that hot crust. Cooking is a delight for ALL the senses!

Another tip that probably doesn't need saying is that fresh lemon juice is much better than the refrigerated kind like ReaLemon. And it's really important to add the zest. I've skipped that at times when I didn't have any handy, and the bars just don't have the same punch without it.

Last fall, I bought a whole bag of lemons anticipating making lemonade, but for some reason never made it. So I zested all the lemons and froze the zest in those tiny little jars that you get jam samples in, the one-ounce size. Then I juiced the lemons, froze the juice in ice cube trays, popped the lemon cubes out of the trays and put them in freezer zip-lock bags. If I poured them carefully so the cubes were less than full, each cube was just about 1 tablespoon. I've been using the cubes slowly, all winter long. I don't know about you, but I can't tell the difference between this frozen juice and fresh!

I even used one in a cooking class recently, and at the end of the class when the students filled out their feedback forms, one student said the most useful thing she learned was that you can freeze lemon juice in cubes. You just never know what simple little trick is going to strike someone as most helpful. It makes it fun to throw out lots of information.
There's nothing prettier than the bright yellow color of lemon filling, is there?

So, you pour it into the crust and get a nice sizzle, give it a quick swirl to make sure it's spread evenly across the crust, and pop it into the oven. 12-15 minutes later, you have beautiful lemon bars.

This is my entry in the Sugar-High Friday: Ginger event, hosted at Once Upon A Feast this month. Entries are due noon the 28th, so if you have a yummy ginger dessert, blog it and send Ruth your link to be included in the roundup!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

ed's stir-fried steak salad

When Cate, of Sweetnicks fame, requested ARF recipes (isn't that a great acronym for antioxidant rich foods?) that we had gotten from another blogger's website, it didn't take but a split second for me to decide what I would blog about. We had just enjoyed Ed Tep's Stir Fried Steak Salad a few nights before, and I had hurried to snap a couple of pictures of our meal, risking being shoved out of the way by a hungry husband who rarely gets steak at home. Ed had visited my blog a couple of weeks ago and left a comment, so of course I had to go check him out, and there, staring me in the face, was his wonderful recipe. (His picture's much better than mine.) Wow! It's a keeper and a half, even with the little improvisations I had to make that I know changed the recipe more than a little. I can't wait to try the original recipe. Here's the recipe as I made it, substituting garlic for ginger and onions for shallot.

If you're like me, you're going to look at a recipe that calls for a pound of meat and serves two and go, "Serves two????" But you know, he's right. We ate it all up.


For the Stir-Fried Steak:
1 lb of beef cut into strips for stir-fry
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, grated
1/3 c onion, minced
1 packet of Splenda
1/4 cup sherry
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the Salad:
1 package (8 oz) of salad greens (I used butter lettuce)
2 tablespoons of your favorite "Asian" salad dressing
1) In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the stir-fried steak. Mix well, cover, and place in refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes.

2) Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until sizzling hot.

3) Drain and discard the marinade from the beef strips. Place beef strips in the skillet. Don't overcrowd the skillet. (Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to do two batches).

4) Stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, or until cooked through to your preference. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.

5) Divide the package of salad greens on two plates. Drizzle one tablespoon of salad dressing over each salad.

6) Mound the warm beef on top of the salad greens.

Serves 2.

So, this is my entry for ARF Tuesday. Head on over to Sweetnicks tonight and see a roundup of yummy ways to eat your veggies every day!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Big Fatty's. Yum.

Big Fatty's is in Hartford, Vermont. This is one full rack. 'Nuff said.

home, sweet home

Simba the timid. Simba the anxious. Simba the ... dominant doggie?

Hope's little dog Teddie is a very dominant shih tzu male. He growls when you pick him up, growls when you rub his tummy, will absolutely NOT surrender any toy to your tugging hand, etc. So, we're all amazed to see my sweet, submissive little dog totally dominate him! Here's a shot of Simba sleeping in Teddie's bed. Where was Teddie, you might ask? All hangdog over under the dining room table, that's where.

I guess all that timid stuff is situational. Anxious around new people? You bet. New dogs? Stand back!

This is my submission for Sweetnick's Weekend Dog Blogging. If you love dogs, you will enjoy checking out her blog Sunday night to see the lineup of much-loved canines in all their doggie glory!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

new websites

I've been kind of quiet on the blog this week. It's because I've been in the throes of building and deploying a couple of other websites. I'm not a professional website designer, but I can put together a clean, simple site, which is what was needed in these two instances.

If you live in the Upper Connecticut River Valley region of New Hampshire and Vermont (Upper Valley for short), and you're looking for a rental, you could check out my friend Perry's little website. And if you're anywhere within driving distance of the Upper Valley and are interested in learning how to use Rails to build websites, please tool on over to Tech To Work to read about the upcoming workshops there.

And if you find anything funky, confusing, or just plain ugly on either of the sites, I would dearly love to hear about it! Disclaimer: I didn't take the pics for the rentals. :o)

Monday, May 01, 2006

a favorite springtime salad

So, when's the last time you ate black-eyed peas (also known as cowpeas, crowder peas, Southern pesa, and many other names)? Were they cooked a long time, with bacon and vinegar and lots of grease? Did you know my mother? Because that's how she prepared them, and I have to admit, it's probably what predisposed me toward liking black-eyed peas. Almost anything cooked with bacon gets my vote. So, when I saw a recipe in Better Homes & Gardens called Spring Greens and Black-eyed Pea Salad, I took my predisposition (and a sunny one it is! ) right into the kitchen and got busy.

Now, you may never have had black-eyed peas, or you may have had them prepared in a way that caused you to swear off them. It's OK with me if you decide to substitute some other firm bean in this recipe. I think black beans would be yummy, although they would certainly change the appearance of the salad quite a bit. But perhaps, just perhaps, you might like to try it the first time with the cooked black-eyed peas, just to be sure you still don't care for them. Because this salad just might change your mind, and isn't it always a good idea to have a widening repertoire of items on the "I'll eat it" list, especially if it falls into that oh-so-healthy legume category?

So, about this salad: not only are the components tres compatible, but the Caramelized Sweet Onion Vinaigrette is worth a look just by itself and, if you're like me, will be used for more than just this salad.So, without further, ado, here's the recipe. There's a printable version, sans comments, here.

Black-Eyed Pea and Spring Green Salad with Caramelized Sweet Onion Vinaigrette


1 sweet onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 T cooking oil
1/2 c salad oil
1/2 c cider vinegar
1 T honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper (I prefer to use white pepper, it's milder and prettier)

  • In a medium to large covered skillet, cook the onion in the oil over medium-low heat for 13 to 15 minutes, or until onions are tender, stirring occasionally. Uncover; cook and stir over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes more, or until onions are golden. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper. Stir in onion mixture.
  • Cover and chill up to 1 week. Makes about 11/2 cups.


1 16-ounce package frozen black-eyed peas
8 green onions, washed and trimmed
8 cups mixed spring salad greens
2 cups French breakfast radishes or small radishes, washed, trimmed, and cut in large pieces
coarse salt

  • In a large saucepan, cook blackeyed peas, covered, in lightly salted boiling water for 40 minutes or until tender. Drain. Rinse with cold water until beans feel cold. Drain well. (You have my permission to use heavily salted water ... that's what I do! )
  • Place whole green onions on a platter and arrange salad greens on top.
  • Top with radishes.
  • Spoon peas over radishes.
  • Sprinkle all with coarse salt.
  • Serve with dressing.

Per serving

calories: 246
total fat: 16g
saturated fat: 2g
monounsaturated fat: 7g
polyunsaturated fat: 6g
cholesterol: 0mg, sodium: 172mg
carbohydrate: 23g
total sugar: 6g
fiber: 4g
protein: 6g
vitamin C: 19%
calcium: 5%
iron: 11%

This is my entry for Sweetnicks' Antioxidant Rich Foods (ARF) Tuesday, as well as the Virtual Recipe Club salad roundup. If you're into good eats, you don't want to miss those two sites tomorrow!