Thursday, May 30, 2013

May Was A Blur!

Yes, the month is almost over, and seems more like a week or two. I really have neglected posting due to so much work and distraction, but have several plans in mind for the upcoming month.

The month of May started out with getting ready for painters by moving furniture and packing everything up to store in the garage. Then we decided to remove the carpet – we’re still in the process of sealing the hardwood floors, and the furniture is all still out of place. We were so pleased that the floors were in very good condition, and just needed to be cleaned and sealed. The painters were here for almost a week. Following that were 2 outpatient surgeries and a hospitalization, with 2 people now here at home recuperating. The third patient is doing well. Add to this our regular real estate work, housework, etc.

Needless to say, there is plenty going on at our house, and not a lot of time to be on the computer. I haven’t looked in a cookbook for a month, and have been pretty much cooking the quickest, easiest meals possible.

I did prepare a Memorial Day meal, getting in the mood for summer food. We had spareribs, potato salad, coleslaw and corn on the cob. I wasn't able to locate my favorite rib rub recipe, but found another with a few of the same ingredients. This one was very good, though, and had a nice thyme flavor. The potato salad was one I started making last summer, and is very tasty. Here are the recipes for the rub and potato salad:

1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 1/4 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons mustard powder
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Mix all well. Store up to 6 months. Makes approximately 3/4 cup.
(I'm not sure where this recipe came from – it’s on a partial page torn out of a magazine. Possibly submitted to magazine by Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Texas.)
2 pounds red potatoes, cooked, cooled slightly and cut into 1” cubes
1/2 cup sliced green onion
3/4 cups Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing
2 tablespoons chopped chives
salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Mix together and chill at least 1 hour before serving.
(Recipe from Hidden Valley Ranch website.)
Notes: I rubbed the ribs well and placed them on a rack in a large roasting pan, then poured about 1/4” of water in the bottom. Then I covered the pan with foil and baked the ribs for 1 hour at 350 degrees, then lowered the temperature to 325 degrees for a couple more hours. The foil was removed for the last hour at 250 degrees. They were so tender and flavorful! When mixing the dressing for the potato salad, I added a heaping tablespoon of Dijon mustard for a bit of tang.
Please check back soon – I plan to get back to the Recipe Experiments and more topics!
Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Meatless Monday

Last night’s dinner was certainly a change for our family. With a husband and son who are meat lovers, I wasn’t sure a meatless meal would go over at all. However, it did turn out fine, and I may continue the theme occasionally – I doubt that it would be accepted on a regular basis!

I have seen numerous recipes for stuffed zucchini online and in cookbooks, and decided to incorporate several of the ideas and add my own twist. Here’s my recipe:



2 medium zucchini, about 8” long
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 small tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Wash zucchini, cut off ends and drop in large pan of boiling water. Boil gently for 7 to 8 minutes, or until tender but not soft. In the meantime, melt butter with olive oil in large skillet. Saute corn, garlic and onion on medium heat until onion is translucent. 

Remove zucchini from water and let stand until cool enough to handle. Slice in half; scoop out flesh, leaving about 1/4” in the shell. Give the removed zucchini a rough chop and add to the corn mixture. Add tomato and seasonings and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Spoon into reserved shells and sprinkle with cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until filling is hot and cheese is melted.

Serves 4.

Notes: I purposely left out a lot of salt because zucchini has a high water content, and salt would only pull out the water, leading to mushy zucchini. Not good! As far as seasonings go, you could add whatever you like – Italian seasoning, more garlic, etc. Chopped mushrooms might work well, too. 

I did turn on the broiler to help the cheese melt faster.

As you can see, it was served with fresh carrots and smashed potatoes.
A few words of veggie wisdom:
"An onion can make people cry, but there has never been a vegetable invented to make them laugh."Will Rogers (1879-1935)

"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."
Jim Davis, 'Garfield'
Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

I hope you all don't mind a re-post of last year's Mother's Day article. And I also hope you all have a wonderful Mother's Day, whether you're a mother yourself or will be honoring another mother.
Good morning! As we all know, Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday (May 12, 2013), but do we know its history? A day for honoring mothers has been around in many forms for centuries; however, in the 1600s a clerical proclamation in England included mothers in traditional celebrations honoring the church. It was known as “Mothering Day”. The tradition was discontinued by settlers when they came to America. In 1870 Julia Ward Howe recommended a day to honor mothers, which was set for June 2, but it lasted only about 10 years and slowly died.

In 1908 Anna M. Jarvis created Mother’s Day to honor peace and her mother, who had recently passed away. The first official Mother’s Day was May 10, 1908. It was celebrated in Ms. Jarvis’ church, and each mother attending received two carnations – her mother’s favorite flower. The white carnation honored a mother who had passed away, and the pink or red honored those still living.

Mother’s Day became an annual observance when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed it a national celebration in 1914, and it was to be held the second Sunday in May each year.

Since then, Mother’s Day has become a day celebrated in various ways in over 70 countries. Some complain that it has become much too commercialized, but the basic sentiments still apply. Mothers are, and always have been, crucial to the family’s development and well-being.

All that said, I wish all mothers a wonderful Mother’s Day, and I hope you and your families celebrate the wonderful women you are!

I’m sure many of us will be buying and planting flowers this weekend – finally! So my tips this week apply to gardening.

1) Place a coffee filter in the bottom of planters to hold in the soil and allow for good drainage.

2) Wipe down garden tools with an oily rag before storage to prevent rusting. Also, they can be stuck down in a bucket of sand for storage.

3) For an easy way to provide continuous water for your plants, poke holes in empty soda bottles, fill with water, replace the lid and place the bottles on their sides in the garden.

4) Remove flower blossoms that have faded and lost petals – the plant will be stronger, allowing nutrients to go to stems and leaves rather than trying to keep older blossoms. Also, that will prevent seeds from forming.

5) When buying plants, be sure to select strong plants with healthy-looking foliage. Avoid any yellowing or “floppy” plants!

6) If you sow seeds, be sure to thin the seedlings as instructed on the packet, as overcrowded plants don’t do well. The remaining seedlings will get more sunlight and nutrients for stronger, healthier plants.

7) Water plants early in the day so the water can evaporate. Watering in the evening could lead to fungus growth as the cooler air and darkness will not evaporate the water properly.

8) We’ve all planted things that didn’t survive…the best solution is research. Plant the right plants for your area and for your soil conditions, plant them in the proper sun/shade area, and care for them properly.

9) If you have poor soil, a raised bed works well. Use bricks, blocks or ground-contact wood for the outside walls. The best width for the beds is no more than 5 feet, allowing you to reach across without stepping inside. They can be made any length.

10) Above all, have fun! Gardening should be enjoyable – not a full-time job. Plant what you like to look at and what you like to eat. Let the kids plant some things of their own - maybe they’ll even eat veggies if they've grown them!

Have a terrific week. As always, if you have comments or suggestions, please send them.  Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Home Work

Happy May Day! Can you believe it's May already? And it's a busy month for most of us, with Mother's Day, Memorial Day, graduations, weddings, etc. The best part is that it's warmer and it's almost time to plant flowers and vegetables.

It's been a busy couple of weeks at our house. We're having the whole first floor painted next week, so we've been packing up everything and moving it out to the garage. It's a bit like moving, but the boxes just go to the garage instead of on a truck.

On top of that we've been removing carpet and padding from a bedroom, living room, dining room and hall. What a job! But underneath that old carpet we found a treasure - very nice hardwood floors. They will need a cleaning and then a clear sealer, but we're very happy with how they look.

It's been hard work, with more to come after the painters leave (putting everything back in place), but we're doing fairly well and are ahead of schedule. My husband is taking a break this evening to mow grass, and I went to a yoga class this afternoon. So there are other things going on here besides the renovation work, household chores, meals and business work.

I do see that fixing one thing leads to something else - new curtains, throw pillows, maybe slipcovers, and at some point new flooring in the kitchen. Who knows what project will come after all that?

The recipe experiments will have to be put on hold for another couple of weeks or so since I really don't have time to look for recipes or to cook more than the most basic meals. But I'll be back with new, interesting recipes soon! Please check back.

Have a wonderful week! Enjoy the sunshine. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!