Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Two Articles: One Thoughtfully Philosophical, One Hilarious

I thought this article was really interesting.  It dealt with the impossibility and undesirability of keeping the government "religion free:"


This was just a really hilarious article about ice dancing, which I have actually been watching this time:


Monday, February 22, 2010

Root Veggie Roast

I was impressed with a roasted root vegetable dish at my new favorite restaurant (Farmacia, found during the last snow day and mentioned in a previous post), and I decided to guess how to replicate it--except I added a few more veggies.  Owen assures me that I did manage it quite well.  What I did is very easy and anyone who wants to can try it.
Roasted Root Veggies

white or red potatoes
red beets
sweet potatoes

Slice any or all of the above vegetables (I used all of them) into thin (1/4") slices.  You can then cut the larger circles into halves or quarters.  Put veggies into a casserole dish or a roasting pan.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add a few drizzles of olive oil and stir veggies to evenly coat with oil.  Put on a lid or cover with foil.  Bake at 375° for about an hour.  Stir after every 20 min. or so to check.  Turnips were the last to get soft for me. Works great as a side with a roast or as a main dish with some lighter mains in addition.
Happy seasonal eating!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Apple Tuna Salad

An easy way to use up apples, for those of you with a seasonal stockpile like I now have again. 

Apple Tuna Salad

2 or 3 chopped up apples, small pieces
2 cans tuna
3 stalks celery, chopped
mayonnaise, to taste
I then put it on toast and melted cheese ontop in the oven.  It was really good.  And easy!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Back into the Local Foods

Today we drove to Plymouth Meeting to a farm called Maple Acres Farm (http://www.mapleacresfarmmarket.com/) to try once again to eat local seasonal foods.  They had apples, lots of them, and we bought about a bushel of mixed fuji and rome apples for $20 (which is at least good for Philadelphia).  Then we bought a 1/2 bushel of sweet potatoes for $10.  We also bought some turnips, redbeets, cauliflower, and broccoli.  Now I just have to figure out how to cook all that in appealing ways (turnips may be the challenge).  I would have bought some rutabagas and made myself cook those, too, but they were almost $3 a piece.  I doubt I could possibly cook them well enough to justify that price.  Anyway, now that the nausea has mostly passed, I feel some responsibility to live up to my environmental eating goals.  I'll let you know how we fare with all of these root veggies.  Hopefully I will also be able to report that I made and heat-sealed a whole bunch more applesauce.  :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hope you found me!

Hope the address change didn't throw anyone off to much--I've been meaning to change it for a while!  (Well, ever since multiple people told me they never check my blog because they can't remember the address!)

It's a Whale of a Taggie!

Well, I'm finished with my latest taggie, and I think it came out really cute!  :)  I stayed up late to finish it and I'm pretty grumpy today as a result . . . but, hey, all in the name of art, right?  I've been making taggies as baby gifts ever since they became Jessie's obsession, but lately I've tried (occasionally, usually because someone has a girl and I have boy colors--necessitating something to make it look less like a boy's blanket) to personalize it a little with a design.  Anyway, this might be my favorite so far.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cooking the Perfect Steak

So, I know, this is not typically the place one would go to find helpful advice on preparing slabs of meat.  Generally slabs of meat at my house (grass-fed, preferably) are cut into small bits and stretched into many, non-meat heavy meals.  While looking for a "romantic Valentine dinner" last night, I happened upon advice for cooking the perfect steak.  And while I don't know if a big slab of beef is particularly romantic, per se, it sure results in an appreciative gleam in my hubby's eye (I guess the rarity of the experience is just so exciting for my would-be-extremely-carnivorous husband whose wife protects his arteries and heart with ample vegetables not exactly because it is his wish).  Anyway, a big slab of beef I decided it would be, and I decided to share the website where I found the very helpful instructions on perfect steak prep:


For those who don't feel like actually reading the directions, I will summarize Julie Filips's advice as follows:
  1. Preheat a cast-iron skillet (or oven-proof one) to 500 degrees in the oven.
  2. Use hot pads to remove and put on burner, turn to high.
  3. Put steak on dry skillet.
  4. Fry both sides a few minutes.
  5. Put back in oven a 3-5 minutes until desired doneness. 
  6. Put under foil, and pour 1/2 c red wine in the skillet.  Reduce to 1/3 c while boiling.  Turn off heat and add 2 T butter.  Pour over meat.
I will say that the 3-5 minutes they give as a range puts it in a rarer category.  I did more like 12-15 for a medium-well steak (I know, I know, but I'm pregnant, and eating blood feels risky).  I served it with buttered pasta and sauted broccoli (the broccoli was good, I used a little olive oil and a little water and plently of salt so it was sort of steam/sauted).  The steak was good, though next time I'll do it medium. 

Next time will probably be quite a ways off.  I'm still not doing the big slab of meat thing regularly.
Happy Valentine's Day, Owen!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Daze

So Owen and I finally got a weekend to ourselves . . . and we weren't about to let a silly blizzard stop us!  I picked Micah up early from school and drove the kids to Lancaster on Friday.  I came back and made it to the house by 2:30.

[Here I must add that only Grandma's quick thinking substitution of a turquoise skiing neck-warmer from the '80s kept me from having to drive right back to Lancaster with Jesse's blankie, "night night."  Here is a picture of him holding it in much warmer weather.  He generally does not sleep without it.  The only other time (other than last weekend) was last summer when we left it at home with the diapers in a bag in the middle of the floor when we left for the beach.  And then it was like that scene from Best in Show when the dog's owners freak out because they can't find "busy bee" and the dog is about to go on.  They think the dog is freaking out, but actually the dog appears unaffected while the owners go ballistic.  Once again, Jesse gracefully adapted because he didn't realize his mom would actually have brought it to him if he hadn't.]
Anyway, to get back to my account of our childless snow days . . .

It snowed 28.5 inches at Philadelphia airport (apparently the only place in Philly that measured it, since it was quoted each time measurements were listed).  And that meant that part of the snow day must be spent shoveling.  The shoveling was light and fluffy, however, and so not a big problem, especially if you were the one on sidewalk versus car-freeing duty.

After we shoveled and ate the seasonally appropriate tomato soup and grilled cheese I whipped up (against all of my intentions--the main point of the weekend for me was to get out of cooking anything), we set out for center city to join the ten other people braving the post-storm sidewalks. 

We got a rather filling, powder-based chai at a coffee shop that was open (Starbuck's was closed! How's that for unbelievable?); bought Owen an acceptable hat at an overpriced boutique (the hat is modelled in the first picture up at the top), because, hey, it was open, and you have to reward the people sitting there and getting 2 or 3 customers an hour; and then we went to Farmacia, my new favorite restaurant as of Saturday, which served local seasonal organic cuisine (this time of year: root vegetables, swiss chard, arugula, and the best smoked cheese from a local Amish purveyor--their word choice, not mine--I have ever tasted in my life).  Yum. 

We then tried walking to Barnes and Nobles on Broad Street (or Borders, to me they are too identical to bother telling apart), but after an 8 block walk in crappy boots, I was slightly annoyed to discover they were closed.  That night we fell asleep again around 10 and slept until almost 9 the next morning.  I definitely haven't slept that long since I was a young child (except for the night before, since we did go downtown for dinner Friday and walk all over the place that evening, too, but it doesn't make as good of a story because the snow didn't start until we left the restaurant).  

The weekend was lovely. 

Now we are snowed in again, but the blizzard is still raging and nasty.  And the kids are here, so that's a rather different experience.  A huge branch just fell off of our neighbor's tree with a loud crash right behind our kitchen window, pretty exciting.  Plus, lightening and thunder during a snowstorm is wild.  Stay warm! 

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Davis Family Update . . .

OK, we're doing much better.  I just noticed my last post was a little dramatic.  I was getting a little discouraged because our colds were not improving and my throat hurt really bad so that it was really hard to sleep.  Anyway, my cold is mostly gone now, just a little cough left.  And Owen finally got an antibiotic for the sinus infection he developed.  So once Jesse gets rid of this cold (it's now hit all four of us, and poor Jesse was already fighting an old ear infection, so this was sad timing), we'll finally be rid of it.  This one.  Snow day reports to follow!  

Monday, February 1, 2010

Val is not better--for the record

I believe I led my readers to believe that I was starting to get better from my cold.  That must have been the night my throat pain started.  My throat pain from whatever in the world this is is as bad (or almost as bad, who can compare) as when I had mono in high school.  (That throat pain is the gold standard against which I measure all throat pain.)  Anyway, I feel the need to broadcast this unrealistic pain.  It is not strep, I got tested on Friday.  I wonder at what point self-pity will eclipse actual pain.  They're neck on neck at this point.

Spaghetti Sauce

A major challenge with this pregnancy is that I really can't eat or cook with garlic and onion at all.  The gorge rises in my throat even as I think about it as I type.  Anyway, even though my nausea is a lot better now (relatively speaking), I still cannot go near either one.  I came up with a pretty good spaghetti sauce which has opened up the world of spaghetti, lasagne, pizza, and ziti.  I doubt many of you will have cause to use it (I hope not, because having to avoid garlic and onion really limits your cooking), but you never know . . .

Garlic and Onion-free Spaghetti Sauce

Saute red pepper and mushrooms in olive oil (both should be chopped very small).  You can also add zucchini if you want to, just make sure it's chopped very fine.  (I normally start with the garlic and onion before this step if you want to use the really great recipe.)
Add several cans of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce* (according to taste, and according to how much you're trying to make and how big of a veggie pile you started with--I do a couple of each).
Add a bay leaf and basil and oregano, etc.
You can add a little red wine.
Simmer on low heat. 
Simple but tasty.  VERY helpful for those who have to avoid the aforementioned tasty ingredients.

*I actually use frozen or heat sealed versions from my fall stock-piling, but I'm working from the assumption that most aren't buying into all that labor-intensive winter prep.