Monday, March 31, 2014

Beef Marinade

In my 1989 American Heart Association cookbook, there's a table which contains the cholesterol levels for cooked meats.  It's really a great table, because it's rather hard to translate raw food into cooked.  But one thing I've learned is that lean beef isn't that much higher in cholesterol than chicken, turkey or pork.  So we have beef once a week, and it helps my dearly beloved to feel less like his life has been ruined.  (Really, this is a man who doesn't love food; one of his most frequent statements about food is that it is "just s*** waiting to happen.")  I found this recipe for marinade in one of my New York Times cookbooks by Craig Claiborne.  Look, friends!  No Salt!  Lots of Flavor!


1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup red wine
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1-1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp (3 cloves) minced garlic
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tbsp chopped rosemary
1/2 tsp sugar

Stir all of the ingredients together.  Marinate your beef in the mixture for at least 30 minutes before cooking.  Easy-peasy, just as I prefer it!

I doubled this recipe for my purposes. I used it on St. Patrick's Day for a brisket - not corned beef, because I dare not offer up that amount of salt - and everyone liked it.  Then I used again last Thursday (or was it Wednesday?) for London Broil, and it was superb.  My dearly beloved didn't even whine about his beef not having salt.  I saved a bit of the marinade before the cooking, and added it to beef broth to make gravy; it was terrific!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  April starts tomorrow, and I'm hoping that the snow we had yesterday was the last of this season!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thorsday Book Review

I bought this for my dearly beloved for Christmas.  Of course, I read it, too.

by Virginia Savage McAlester

My dearly beloved is a big fan of houses. He loves to study the architecture and details of housing everywhere we go. So, when I saw this book reviewed in the Wall Street Journal, I knew it would be perfect for him. At the beginning of the book, there are charts with diagrams to help the reader identify the type of house he/she is looking at. For example, a sketch of a roof with a 2 or 3 word description, and the book recommends looking at one or more type of house to see which it is. However, it's also very good for reading, with chapters on the layouts of early towns and so forth. There is also a section on the housing used by various Native American groups. Each chapter about a style of houses includes a few pages of history, etc, before sketches, details about characteristics of the type, and photos of actual houses of each style from various parts of the country. Good for a long reading session, but it's also a fast and easy reference for when you just want to know what you've just seen.

Of course, I read the whole book, cover to cover.  It also caused me to think about a post Karin did recently about a house she admired in her area, and to recall "the one that got away".  It was a fabulous house, but we passed on it because the estate was selling off the house alone, without most of the acreage, because, naturally, they wanted to build a subdivision on it.  We gave up on the house because of that; the driveway to the house was slated to become the road, and the 3 acres which were offered with the house were almost entirely in the front yard.  It had other problems, including that the "mechanical plant" (translation: furnace) was in the garage, and not included with the house.  It also had a mammoth wing off the back of the house, with thousands of square feet of servant rooms.  I'd have been loathe to demolish it, but it really was useless.  Ah, well, I'm well served here; I love my house.  And, yes, my house style is listed in this book: "French Eclectic".

Happy Thorsday, everyone!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: 1928


Entries about school...

And about Scranton.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Garden Tuesday at Sunset

I can't see west from my house; I have to walk out into the street or tromp through the mud to the center of my lawn to see the sunset.

But sometimes, if you look at just the right time, the sunset gives the southeast view a fiery glow.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Friday, March 21, 2014

St. Joseph's Rolls

Until 2 days ago, I was completely unaware that there was such a holiday as St. Joseph's Day.  Luckily for me, Louise is always there to inform us about food-related holidays which we usually don't even know exist (or, at least, I don't).  Her Wednesday post included a plethora of miscellany, including a recipe she found somewhere for St. Joseph's Bread.

Since my dearly beloved's surgery, I've been very conscious of sodium content of everything.  Can you believe that ordinary run of the mill bread usually has in excess of 200mg of sodium per slice?  Sweet Jesus on a Whole Wheat Cracker, that's insane!  So I've been making rolls of various compositions for him (which makes breakfast for the little boys easier, because it takes 22 seconds to nuke 2 buttered rolls, instead of about 4 minutes to make toast).  After seeing Louise's post (click here if you missed it), I commented that this recipe might make outstanding dinner/sandwich rolls, and she encouraged me to try it.  Here's my heart friendly rendition of a traditional braided loaf:


1-1/2 cups warm water
2 tbsp yeast
4-1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1-1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp tub margarine
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg white, beaten with 2 tbsp warm water
sesame seeds

In your mixing bowl or bread machine bucket, pour the warm water; sprinkle the yeast over it.  Add the flour, sugar, salt. margarine and oil.  Mix according to my directions over there ------->

After the dough has been mixed, let it rise for 15 minutes, covered to keep it warm.  Punch it down and form into 16 rolls (approx. 2 ounces each), by forming balls, placing them on the baking sheet, and squishing them flat.  Brush the tops with the beaten egg white, and sprinkle with as many sesame seeds as make you happy.  Let your rolls rise until doubled in size, then bake at 350F in a convection oven or 375F in a conventional oven for 15 to 17 minutes.

These were fluffy, and pretty as a picture.  When I took them out of the oven, and put the trays on the butcher block pass-through (between my kitchen and breakfast room), my dearly beloved came over to see what was going on, and then took one off a too hot-sheet, tossed it around a little bit, ate it and wordlessly came back for another.  Hooray!  Ryan opined that these were every bit as good as the rolls you'd get in a good restaurant, and Cass said they were "bangin".  I'll take compliments whenever I can!

Happy weekending, everyone; here's hoping we all get at least a sampling of spring weather!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thorsday Double Book Review

A while back, a column in the Wall Street Journal recommended a book by Edith Wharton.  I don't recall exactly why, nor which book.  I downloaded two for the Kindle, and read one; I then found in my always surprising book collection another, which I also read.  I'm reviewing both today.

by Edith Wharton

I enjoy reading books written around the turn of the 20th century; life is so similar to ours in many ways, and yet so different in others. So this book, written in 1913, seemed right up my alley. It's the story of Undine Spragg, who is around 18 or 20 at the beginning of the story. She has browbeaten her father into moving from Apex, somewhere in the midwest, to New York City, so she can enjoy the "right" people and an "exciting" life. I spent the entire book despising Undine, marvelling at her husband, who was "to the manor born," and therefore had a familial allowance of $3000 per year, and didn't work (Ford paid about $30 per week, or $1500 per year, at that time). Undine's father was required to give an allowance to her husband, as well, to pay for her upkeep, and she never thought anyone ever gave her enough. The book follows her through New York, Italy, Paris and back. It was well written, and fast enough paced, but the world was so foreign to me, and Undine so spoiled and selfish, that I just didn't enjoy it. 2/5.
by Edith Wharton

Despite my dislike of the previous book written by Edith Wharton, I decided to read this one, in no small part because it was an attractive little volume.  It was published during the early 1900s, but my copy must have been printed during WW2, because there's a brief biography of old Edith in it, stating that she died in 1937.  She was also born to wealth and married wealth, and wrote and published books anyway, which people of "her class" really disliked.  I suppose that explains her subject matter.

This book felt to me like People Magazine without pictures.  All kinds of references to social strata abound; people not believing that the Mingotts could do this thing, or if the Van der Luydens accepted that person, then everyone else should.  It's the story of Archer Newland, newly engaged to and ultimately marrying May Welland, her cousin Countess Oleska, who is socially shocking because she ran away from her Polish countess husband, blah, blah, blah.  I don't entirely know why I continued to read it, given my dislike of gossipy crap (for the record, I've never read People magazine, not even when bored to tears in a doctor's office; I bring a book everywhere).  At the end, though, given what Archer did, I felt sad.  The book sat on my table for a couple of days while I contemplated it; no one in this day and age would forego his own happiness, whether perceived or attained, for the sake of what is right.  And sometimes, doing what is right, regardless of whether one might be somewhat or even greatly happier, is what one should do.  The ending significantly improved my opinion of the book.  3/5

And, the Vernal Equinox officially came to my little corner of the world at 12:57 this afternoon.  It still is muddy and chilly outside, but some day it will be warm.  So, Happy Spring, everyone!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

The end of the St. Patrick's Day Cake!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Garden Tuesday: Mud

We no longer have nothing but snow!  This week, we've had enough rain and meltoff (followed by a deep freeze last week) that there is bare ground out there.  And when it warms above freezing tomorrow, I expect a bumper crop of mud!

Happy Tuesday, everyone.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Artichoke Salad

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all of you!  It's a beautiful Monday here in my little corner of the world, 2 months after my dearly beloved's triple bypass.  There's nothing like a close brush with one's mortality to make every day good, even Mondays!

This recipe came from my new American Heart Association cookbook, sort of.  It actually called for rice and other ingredients, but I just don't think cold rice would be a delightful dish, even if it is called a "salad".  That shouldn't surprise you; I am the same person who dislikes potato salad and macaroni salad, after all.  But this variation of marinated artichokes will delight you.  Heart friendly and low in sodium; what could be better?


1 pound artichoke hearts, frozen or canned, quartered

2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried basil
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

Put all dressing ingredients in the blender in the order given, and blend thoroughly.  Pour over the artichokes, and let it sit for an hour or more before serving.  (Thanks, Audrey, for pointing out that my directions were unclear.)  I doubled the recipe, and had a little left over, which I used on a salad the next day - also wonderful.

Easy, fast and flavorful!  What could be better?

Happy Monday, everyone; enjoy your green beer, food, or whatever you're having!

Friday, March 14, 2014

It's Not My Fault

Recently, I ordered my standard food shipment: cases of frozen veggies, half a ton of meat (well, almost...), staples, the usual.  It wasn't my fault that, stapled to my bill, my supplier had included a listing of fresh fruit and veggies on sale.  Of course, I had to buy cases...of...mushrooms (8 packages)
 Salad mix (only a 3 pound bag).  The carrots are my addition.  It's delicious.
 Strawberries (8 pounds)
 and grape tomatoes (a dozen boxes).
I think I'm going to have to do this more often.  I just have to get the boys to eat their produce faster.

Grape tomato, anyone?

Happy Weekending!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Garden Tuesday: Footprints

When the snow was flying around like all get-out a couple of weeks back, I discovered that little footprints were appearing in my porch.  Evidently something is wandering in one door, across the porch and out the other door.

When looking at the footprints, I thought they were kittycat footprints.  But these pictures surely make it look like my visitor might be the bunny rabbit who scared poor Baby Brutus last summer.

Anyway, they're all melted now; it's 52 degrees, and we're down to our last 6" of snow.  I'm not worried; it can snow right into April, and there's always next winter to cover my yard and show me where the bunnies or kitties are wandering!

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Drive-By Posting

Random Monday thoughts:

We celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary this weekend.  No, we didn't go out; we didn't need to.  It was the happiest anniversary ever, even with just soup and rolls and sons for celebration. (Yes, you saw this picture last summer.)

The snow is melting during the day, and refreezing at night.  I believe we have 6" of ice in the yard now.

Ryan's comments on the changing of the SAT:  What are they, nuts?  Of course the ACT is becoming more popular; it's easier, and everyone knows that.  Of course the essay should be optional, because with the schools not teaching composition much these days, who cares how anyone writes!  And of course they should make the vocabulary easier, because who cares if students actually know anything before they enter college!  Way to go, SAT, making yourself less useful for college admissions!

(That is the gist of what he said, although he ranted indignantly for a good 5 minutes.)

Ryan took the SAT one more time this weekend, to see if he can break 2300 for his score, and Mark took it (as a freshman) for the first time.  It will be interesting to see their scores.

Happy Drive-by Monday!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Chicken in Wine Sauce

Well, I have been cooking.  But taking pictures is another story.  My pea-sized brain is just overwhelmed, and I can't even give you a great reason why.

But anyway, back to the chicken.


3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced (3 tsp)
3/4 tsp of salt
2 cups water
2 tsp low sodium chicken base
1/2 cup red wine (any kind)
1/2 cup cold water
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 pound sliced mushrooms

Coat the bottom of a large skillet with vegetable oil, and turn heat to medium high.  Put the onion and 1 clove of garlic into it, and cook for a minute or 2, until the onion softens.  Remove any fat from the chicken, and cut into 1/4" thick slices.  Sprinkle one pound of chicken with 1/4 tsp salt (just a tiny bit) and pepper, and quickly brown in the skillet on both sides; remove to a plate and cover.  Add another clove of garlic, sprinkle 1/4 tsp salt on the second pound of chicken, add pepper, brown on both sides, and repeat for the third pound of chicken.  When all of the chicken is browned, scoop all of the onion and garlic out of the pan, put on the plate with the chicken, and cover.  Rinse the pan to remove the fat, then return to the stove, and stir the chicken base into 2 cups of water.  Heat to a simmer, add the wine, and whisk the cornstarch into 1/2 cup cold water.  Whisk into the chicken broth mixture, and heat until it thickens.  Return the chicken to the pan, and cook about 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.  Add the mushrooms, cook another 3 to 5 minutes, and serve over a bed of white rice.

I've made this a couple of times now, and the boys really like it.  My dearly beloved says all food tastes like crap now.  How terribly encouraging.  I hope he gets over that soon.  But in the meantime, I tell him I'm the leader and he'll eat if I say he'll eat.  Then he growls and eats.  He's getting crankier, so that means he's getting better, right?

This is what was left over.  I believe one of the boys had it for lunch.  I consider myself lucky to have even remembered to take this picture.

Happy Thorsday, everyone!