28 May 2010

Gardening A Go Go

I had big, big plans for my garden -- I was going to triple the number of beds, start a second compost heap, and stuff last year's tomato planters full of culinary herbs. Spring started promisingly enough -- I drew up planting diagrams, bought seeds and bed kits, and The Husband given me a new compost bin just like the one I left behind at our old house (next time we move, the compost bin comes with us). It looked as if my plans might come to fruition ...

Then I fell down those nogoodhorrible stairs and it seemed gardening was just not going to happen this spring.

But it did! My parents, being excellent people, came up and planted my old bed with cherry tomatoes and bell peppers. Isn't it pretty and so full of promise? Perhaps it isn't the garden I'd planned on having, but it's far better than no garden at all.

I'm growing an assortment of six heirloom cherry tomato plants, plus three "super red ruffled" and three "lipstick" red peppers.

19 May 2010

Experimenting With Meal Delivery

We've been eating quite poorly (a lot of take-out or convenience food and very little fruit or veg) since I fell down the stairs and there isn't much that can be done about that unless someone starts cooking. The Husband, I think, could be a fine cook but lacks confidence and I don't want to make the whole hop-a-long wife experience more complicated for him than it already is. Still, I'd like to eat balanced meals again. I started thinking about having someone make proper meals for us and I remembered a NYT article about meal delivery services ...

Once I started looking, I found that there are a lot of meal delivery services in business. Because The Husband is not a very adventurous foodie, I looked for services which were most likely to appeal to him by providing food he would recognize and (probably) be willing to eat. Alas, that put services offering delicious-sounding dishes like "plantain crusted snapper w/ mango salsa" right out the window.


In the end, I signed up for eDiets "Fresh Prepared" seven day meal delivery service. This service provides three meals a day, plus a small snack. I couldn't figure out how to sign up two people without making two accounts, so this isn't really a week's worth of meals -- it's three and a half days. Hopefully, that will be enough for us to decide whether or not we wish to continue with eDiets.

eDiets provides a weekly menu which can be tweaked by the subscriber to reflect individual taste preferences. While I didn't have an issue with the default menu I did swap some lunches around because they contained ingredients The Husband would not enjoy -- shrimp, broccoli, fruit or nuts with meat -- and I wanted to make sure he had able opportunity to give eDiets a fair go. It was easy to make these swaps as one of the nice things about eDiets is the large menu subscribers have to choose from. Don't like Monday's lunch? There are many other lunches to select from. Unlike some of the other meal delivery services I considered, eDiets does not charge subscribers to swap out meals. The only meals that aren't adjustable are the snacks, but who doesn't want a Ghirardelli square?

Day 1
Breakfast: Classic Flapjack with Pineapple-Almond-Cream Cheese
+ serving of low-fat dairy
Lunch: Turkey Sloppy Joe on Whole-Wheat Kaiser Roll
+ serving of fruit
Supper: Cheesy Stuffed Chicken Breast with Mashed Potatoes
+ serving of low-fat dairy
Snack: Nikki's Cinnamon Sugar Cookie
+ serving of fruit

Day 2
Breakfast: Cinnamon Raisin Bagel with Yogurt-Cream Cheese Spread
+ serving of low-fat dairy
Lunch: Cheese Ravioli with Meat sauce and a Trio of Vegetables
+ serving of fruit
Supper: Chipotle-Barbecued Chicken Breast, Fiesta Corn, and Sweet Potato Hash
+ serving of low-fat dairy
Snack: Immaculate Baking Chocobilly
+ serving of fruit

Day 3
Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs and Blueberry-Apple Compote
+ serving of low-fat dairy
Lunch: Cheesy Chicken and Black Bean Quesadilla
+ serving of fruit
Supper: Ham and Escarole Bean Soup and a Side of Cornbread
+ serving of low-fat dairy
Snack: Terra Chips Blues
+ serving of fruit

Day 4
Breakfast: Canadian Bacon, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich
+ serving of low-fat dairy
Lunch: Chicken Marinara on Linguini with Mozzarella Cheese
+ serving of fruit
Supper: Lemon Butter Salmon with Capers, Brown Rice Pilaf and Sautéed Spinach
+ serving of low-fat dairy
Snack: Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Bar
+ serving of fruit

Day 5
Breakfast: Wheat Bagel with Organic Maple-Almond Butter
+ serving of low-fat dairy
Lunch: White Chili with Chicken and Brown Rice
+ serving of fruit
Supper: Lemon Butter Salmon with Capers, Brown Rice Pilaf and Sautéed Spinach
+ serving of low-fat dairy
Snack: Pirate's Booty
+ serving of fruit

Day 6
Breakfast: Homestyle Pancakes and Apple-Chicken Sausage
+ serving of low-fat dairy
Lunch: Deep Dish Polenta Pizza with Chicken and Vegetables
+ serving of fruit
Supper: Creamy Beef Stroganoff over Egg Noodles with Asparagus
+ serving of low-fat dairy
Snack: Vic's 1/2 Salt Popcorn
+ serving of fruit

Day 7
Breakfast: Hearty Oatmeal, Sausage and a Side of Apple Sauce
+ serving of low-fat dairy
Lunch: Bourbon-Glazed Pork Chop with Sugar Snap Peas and Citrus-Apple Orzo
+ serving of fruit
Supper: Chicken Marsala with Roasted Potatoes and Honey-Glazed Carrots
+ serving of low-fat dairy
Snack: Nonni's Almond Pistachio Biscotti
+ serving of fruit

(Subscribers are expected to provide themselves with two servings of fruit and low fat dairy per day. I'm using low-fat milk and Greek yoghurt, fresh strawberries, tinned peaches and pineapple).

Cats On A Rainy Day

Hedwig snoozes while Shadow plots ...

17 May 2010

Watching Other People Cook

I've been borrowing a lot of cookery DVDs through Netflix -- while the selection isn't tremendous, there is some pretty interesting stuff available. Most recently, I borrowed Fabulously Frugal Feasts: Vol 1 which features Christiane Jory, author of The 99¢ Only Stores Cookbook, preparing two easy yet tasty meals. Despite the 99¢ gimmick, these are good, simple, economical and fairly nutritious recipes which can be made with ingredients from any grocery store. Well, maybe not Whole Foods or Trader Joes ... or do they sell crescent roll dough?

Tuscan Supper
Roasted Corn, Sausage, and Pepper Penne Pasta -- roasted corn kernels, loose pack sausage meat cooked with onion and garlic, penne, and sauce made from pimiento pureed with tomato paste.

Citrus Garlic Dressing -- lemon juice with olive oil, minced garlic, and salt.

Pinot Noir Poached Pear Tart -- pears poached in half a bottle of wine with red wine vinegar, sugar, dried rosemary and cinnamon then baked in thawed, reshaped frozen pie crust.

Holiday Buffet
Pumpkin Bread Pudding -- floury dinner rolls torn into pieces and put in ramekins then topped with a mixture of sweetened condensed milk, eggs, pumpkin puree, milk, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, vanilla and almond extract and then baked.

Holiday Empanadas -- stuffed mix, potted turkey, canned yams, thyme, butter, and jarred gravy all wrapped up in crescent roll dough.

Cranberry Relish -- whole berry cranberry sauce with pickled jalapeno and orange zest.

Roasted Tomato Coulis -- cherry tomatoes broiled with olive oil, thyme, sea salt, and cumin.

Spiced Nuts -- assorted nuts toasted and then tossed with a glaze made from butter, light brown sugar, cayenne, cumin, cinnamon, and water.

This disc's bonus features include downloadable copies of the recipes as well as two extra recipes ("spa water" and "granitas"). Unfortunately, I cannot access the downloadables using my MacBook (I'm presuming it's my MacBook, but it looks as if the downloadables simply aren't there) and am a bit put out as there are several recipes I hoped to try at a later date.  Obviously, I could write down the recipe as Jory prepares the empanadas or pasta, but her performance isn't really precise enough to follow.  Also, I am lazy.

The DVD quality is not awesome -- the camera work is a little odd with cleavage shots and cutaways to hands that aren't actually doing anything and the sound occasionally cuts out as if the microphone isn't well placed. However, this is only Volume One and I presume, if any more episodes are ever filmed/released, the quality will improve over time.

09 May 2010

Mother's Day Picnic, 2010

Humorous Pictures

Mother's Day Picnic, 2010


~ Cheeseburgers  ~

~ Tossed Salad ~

~ Deli Potato Salad ~

~ Devilled Eggs ~


~ Angel Food Cake ~
with fresh berries & whipped cream

The Husband’s devilled eggs (based on Mom's recipe)

Put eight eggs (our devilled egg platter holds fifteen¹ devilled eggs) in a saucepan and cover with an inch of cold water. Bring pan to boil then immediately remove pan from heat and cover. Let sit for 12-15 minutes. Put eggs in an ice water bath and allow to cool. When eggs are cooled, peel and cut in half lengthwise.

Put yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork until they resemble fine crumbs. Add in a splodge of ketchup, two-ish tablespoons Stonewall Kitchen's Blue Cheese & Herb Mustard, two-ish tablespoons light mayonnaise, minced parsley, fresh ground salt and pepper to taste. Mix until thoroughly combined.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary (if very stiff, add more mayo). Smoosh yolk mix into a pastry gun and fill eggs. Garnish with paprika or minced parsley and serve.

(¹ Why fifteen? Why not an even number?)

07 May 2010

My Delicious LibraryThing

The last time I counted my cookbooks I had somewhere around a hundred and fifty of the darlings. That's a lot of cookbooks, right? And I know I have bought or been given more cookbooks since that count. And I borrow about a dozen every month through my library system. Too many cookbooks! No wonder I can never remember where I found a recipe or whether I actually own a particular cookbook.

Then along came LibraryThing ...

In April, I participated in a read-a-thon over on my other blog and won a lifetime LibraryThing account. I have been slowly adding cookbooks to my account -- there are only forty so far, but that is a pretty good start considering I have only added what I can reach from my wheelchair. My goal is to (eventually) add all my cookbooks to LibraryThing, tag them, rate them, and write reviews.

I must admit that, when I visit people, I love to take a peek at their cookbook collection -- much more interesting than any medicine cabinet! Presuming I can't be the only one who does this, I've made a little widget so you can see my delicious LibraryThing cookbook collection:

Speaking of delicious things, I have also been fiddling around with my del.icio.us recipe collection. Feel to have a browse and tell me how unhealthy I am!