Reboot. Recharge.

When all else fails, just shut it down for 5 seconds and turn it back on. Just like new!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Serious nostalgia from Sirius

We just got Sirius radio - both my husband and I. We each got a radio for our car. It is so great. As a music lover, I'm only sorry that I didn't get it sooner.
Being able to hear a certain genre of music, at any time offers me such appeal. It is taking a bit of time to get through all of the channels. This morning I listened to Big '80s, the channel that plays all 80s music. With each song they played, a memory popped up, a feeling popped up, and I was transported back to jr high and high school. That's what I love about music. You can listen to a song and have a certain feeling come over you that you haven't felt for a looong, looong time. I'm really digging listening to The Spectrum, though, I don't quite get the description that Sirius has for it: Five decades of world-class rock from adult album alternative artists. It should read more like, Five decades of world-class rock from mainstream artists. Not sure what "adult album" means, and there's nothing alternative about what gets played on the channel. Regardless, they play some great stuff ranging from Coldplay to Stevie Wonder and everyone in between. Another channel which will be on my pre-set is The Strobe - disco and the likes! So great. Whoever said disco sucks should have his/her head examined. While loving improvisational rock the best, I've been disappointed with the Jam-on channel. They play far too much Dave Matthews band (are they even a "jam" band??) and not enough moe.. They play a ton of String Cheese, and WAY too much of the Disco Biscuits. Oh well....and, I'm not embarrassed to admit that yes, I do listen to the Martha Stewart Living channel. I've yet to hear Martha on it, except to do a spot for the channel. For what it's worth, they offer up some good cooking tips as well as gardening, shopping and craft tips (though, I'm not really into crafts).

My sister in law made an amazing dinner for us on christmas eve. Here's the recipe:
Chicken Mirabella (Scale accordingly)
Boneless Chicken Breast (3-4 pounds)
1 head of garlic - crush individual cloves
¼ cup dried oregano
salt & pepper
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes (or more)
½ cup pitted Spanish green olives (or more)
½ cup dried apricots
½ cup capers with some of the juice
6 bay leaves

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine (or dry vermouth)
¼ cup Italian parsley (optional)

In a large bowl combine the ingredients from the chicken down to bay leaves (everything except wine, sugar, and parsley). You can use whole breasts, or smaller pieces - I recommend smaller pieces.
Marinate overnight (or at least 3 hours).
Place chicken in a single layer (if using whole breasts), in a shallow pan, and pour all marinade over chicken, sprinkle with brown sugar and pour white wine around the edges (not sure why, it's what the recipe calls for).
Bake 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
Garnish with parsley.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Happy Bourbon Balls!

Ah, holiday know, I hate to be the whiner, but in this case I my place of business, as holiday time rolls around, up go the decorations. The decorations are ALL christmas decorations: wreaths, christmas lights in the shape of an evergreen tree (hmmm, I wonder what holiday that supports????), small, wooden reindeer, you get the picture.
Curious, I asked our front desk lady, Where's the Menorah? She gave me the following answer: if we start in with that, then we'll have to do them all, Kwanza, Ramadan, you know. You can bring one in if you'd like, just ask HR.
After the stun wore off, I pleasantly replied to her, that I was simply making an observation.
Upon returning to my desk, the phone was ringing, and it was the front desk lady. She said, I just got of the phone with Steve (HR guy), and he said that you could bring in a menorah, you should just talk to him first.
So now, I'm the whining, jewish girl who's complaining about the decorations. Great. That'll teach me to open my mouth.
I asked the question of a fellow, jewish man here at work, who is quite witty and quick. I said, Fred, Where's the Menorah, as we gathered for our holiday lunch, and without missing a beat, he said "Ah, menorah-ty". That sums it all up. Next year, I'll just keep my mouth shut and happily eat the bourbon balls that seem to float around the office at holiday time.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I've been busy

I've been quite busy lately, and haven't had time to blog much.
I had some good friends over last Saturday for dinner and made some great pizzas - the dough came out especially yummy. I tried a product from the King Arthur Baker's catalog: Pizza flour which is a blend of flours and has baking powder in it as well, to give the crust a good push in the oven. I flavored the dough with a pizza flavor blend, also from King Arthur, but for some reason, I cannot find the link to it. My husband said that it really gave the crust a good flavor. I was definitely pleased with the way the dough came out. I also made egg nog ice cream for dessert. Now, I've made ice cream before, many times. I always seem to use recipes that do not require cooking the eggs. This time, I used a recipe where you make a Creme Anglaise first (cooking the egg yolks gently w/ sugar and milk so as not to "scamble" the eggs). It made all the difference! The texture of the ice cream was unbelievable, definitely the best batch I've made. Plus the Myer's Dark Rum that I put in it didn't hurt was a good dinner, lots of food, drink and our kids got to play together, and that was nice.

I'm a big internet shopper, and tend not to go into stores unless I absolutely have to. Sometimes it's unavoidable. So, with holiday season upon us, and having to go in and out of stores, I've noticed that my anxiety level goes up about 5 notches when I have to exit the store and walk in between those sensor thingys - who's with me?? I am always so afraid that the sensors are going to pick something up on me, what? I don't know, and that they are going to buzz, having that annoying announcement come on: PLEASE RETURN TO THE CHECKOUT LINE! I hold my breath every time I pass through them, hoping, praying, that it doesn't beep. Same with travelling and going through the security at the airport. Though I never do set it off, I still have that fear, each time I go through, that it's going to buzz.
Ah what a relief....

Thursday, December 08, 2005

At this moment, I am a glutton

I just tried the most delicious candy bar and couldn't control myself as I devoured it:
See's candies, Awesome Nut and Chew Bar.
Oh My God. Help me, before I eat another one!

Ain't nothin' like it

I made home made yogurt this week. I have the Donvier yogurt maker, which I received for my birthday last month. It's pretty easy. All you do is heat milk, let it cool, add a starter of some sort and let it "cook" in the yogurt maker. My dilemma was, do I start from dried yogurt starter, such as this, or start from live, active culture, from a plain yogurt. Well, I decided to go with the Yogourmet freeze-dried starter. I made the yogurt on Tuesday evening, and let it go overnight in the yogurt maker. I pulled it out after 12.5 hrs and refrigerated it, which stops the cooking process. The manufacturer's instructions recommend 10 hrs - 19 hrs for cooking time. The longer you leave it in, the thicker, and more tangy it gets.
I tired it when I got home last night.
It was very good. Great consistency, clung to the spoon, lots of tang. I sweetened it with a small amount of vanilla syrup. Very tastey. I brought some to work today, that I sweetened with a small amount of gingerbread flavored syrup.
The next batch I make, I'm going to let go a tad bit longer to try to thicken it up a bit more.
This evening, I'm going to go home and puree some frozen berries, such as these, from Cascadian Farms, strain them, and flavor the yogurt with the berry "coulis". The frozen berries are a great alternative to fresh when it's not berry season.
Max, my 3.5 year old ate some of the vanilla yogurt last night. That's the real taste test. I'm glad the yogurt passed.

Monday, December 05, 2005

To eat, or not to eat, that is the question

So, I've just read up on something quite interesting. It's called Intuitive Eating, and there is actually an organization set up to support it, here. It seems to me that it may be silly to have an organization set up in support of such an idea, an anti-dieting approach to eating based on hunger, but in reality, that's the way one should eat. For me, it's a never ending battle. I love to eat, and (thank god), I love to exercise, but I still struggle with the "image" demons on a daily basis. With Intuitive Eating, you are supposed to eat only when hungry, you are supposed to eat what you crave, and you are supposed to stop eating when you are full. It seems like it's a no-brainer, and I would like to think that I eat that way, but in reality, I don't. Too often, I eat just for the hell of it, because other people are eating or because I'm bored or whatever. I also fall victim to the "my eyes are hungry" syndrom, and eat bigger portions than I should. I'm not really concerned about my food choices, as I eat pretty healthy, and do not deprive myself of much, where food is concerned. However, I'd like to try to incorporate some of the practices of Intuitive Eating and see if it makes a difference with me.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Life is short

I found out yesterday that a colleague of mine had passed away over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. An announcement was made at a meeting I attended. I was floored. It was a sudden death, he had gone to the hospital where they treated him for dehydration. Apparently, it wasn't dehydration. But, it makes you think. You never know when your time is up. I mean, he probably didn't think he'd be dying any time soon. He left work before the Thanksgiving holiday with a desk full of work - half the action items on the "Action Item" list at the meeting I was at yesterday were assigned to him. Blows my mind and makes me think.....

Anyhoo. Here's a recipe for an easy seafood stew (cioppino) that I made last night for dinner.

Saute thinly sliced garlic, diced onion and celery, (salt and pepper) in a good quality EVOO or OO until soft. Deglaze with white wine or other spirit - I actually used dry vermouth.
Add some stock (chicken or fish), a bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaves and parsley stems in a bundle), a can of crushed tomatoes and a can of whole tomatoes.
Bring to a simmer and let cook for as much time as you've got, 30 minutes, whatever.
Layer in your fish and/or seafood that you are going to use, cover and bring to a simmer, and leave alone - resist the urge to stir it all over the place.
Side note: I usually use fresh fish and seafood and frown upon frozen, but I've found that Trader Joe's has a frozen seafood medley of scallops, calamari and shrimp that is pretty decent. I used 2 one pound bags last night.
Towards the end of cooking time, add chiffonade of basil and lots of chopped parsley.
Season with fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper, and drizzle with EVOO before serving.
I served it over fresh fettucine, but rice would work as well.
Over and out.