Archive for March, 2010

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To Market

March 28, 2010

Spring has me thinking of the town’s farmers market. They started it last year and they try to keep the vendors local.

There is a cheese vendor that has the most amazing brie layered with apricot and slivered almonds. It looks like a cake. I plan to recreate it one of these days.  He also has a great cheese that is made with some red wine.  It gives the cheese a crunchy sweet flavor.  Sorry I can’t remember the name of the cheese.  I do know it was also amazing.  Oh and he gives out samples!

The  market is where I discovered iced-tea lemonade. I’m not a fan of iced-tea unless Angel makes her sun sweet tea but the combination of the iced-tea with the lemonade rocks. I’m addicted.

I bought my basil and oregano plants that grew taller than Meeshie.

Oh and the fruit and veggies!  They are just so good.

I was thinking that this would be a good place for the local mushroom farmer to sell his product. Although when we do go to his farm up the road I always get a very Deliverance vibe. I can honestly say that I will not go there alone. That’s saying a lot.

I’ve been through Cabrini Green at night. I’ve parked in the underground parking at Grant Park for an entire semester for a night class in college. Those two places are not for the faint of heart. Yet they don’t hold a candle the mushroom farm.

Even though I can get a large amount of mushrooms for a song and they last forever, I still won’t go alone. I can hear the dueling banjos when we pull up the long driveway. 

Squeel like a pig!

Maybe he should stay away from the market.

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Banana Nut Bread

March 26, 2010

I made this wonderful banana bread and muffins last week to get ready for Easter.  I have a brunch and like to have muffins on hand.  It is a great recipe.  Once the muffins were out of the oven, Meeshie and my husband both had one.  I couldn’t eat one, though.  I gave up bread for lent.  I was really looking forward to a muffin on Easter but Meeshie and my husband have eaten them all.  Thankfully I still have this bread.

This bread is full of bananas.  Seven bananas to be exact.  The flavor really explodes in your mouth.

This bread also makes a really rich french toast sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with warm syrup!

Banana Nut Bread

  • 2 1/2 C flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3/4 C butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 C light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 7 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 C chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease 2 loaf pans.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, soda and salt with a wire whisk; set aside.  In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs, bananas and vanilla.  Beat at medium speed until thick.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the flour mixture and nuts.  Blend at low speed just until combined.  Do not overmix.  Pour the batter into the prepared pans.  Bake for 60-70 minutes.  A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean and the bread should pull away from the sides.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Turn the pans on the side; cool to room temperature before removing and slicing.

I usually make this bread once I have 7 ripe bananas.  I just accumulate them and stick them in a bag in the freezer until I have the right amount.  The riper the banana, the better the bread!

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It’s all Greek to me!

March 21, 2010

My girlfriend came over this weekend and we made some traditional Greek Easter cookies. 

This year Greek Orthodox Easter and Christian Easter are on the same day. 

We made a cookie called KOULOURIA.  They are crisp cookie, almost like a butter cookie.

When she sent me the recipe we went through the ingredients.  Since she was coming over to my house to make them we both wanted to be sure of what ingredients were on hand and which we needed to purchase.

Koulouria

  • 9 egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 1 t ammonia
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 box plus 2-3 cups of cake flour
  • Egg wash (we used the whites plus some oil)

Beat the butter, egg yolks and sugar until light in color.  Warm the milk and the ammonia and baking soda to the milk.  Add the milk mixture to the butter mixture.  Mix well.  Add the vanilla.  Add the box of cake flour.  Knead well.  Add the 2-3 cups of flour as needed.  The dough should be soft and not stick to your hands.  Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.  Roll out the dough and make into shapes such as ‘s’, knots, and coils. Brush with the beaten egg for color.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes until golden brown.  Makes about 80 cookies.

Please note that I told my friend that I had ammonia as well as the cake flour.  She laughed and told me that the ammonia was actually a powder.  I googled it.  It is similar to baking powder but it does smell like liquid ammonia.

Meeshie was more than helpful.  She made the coil shapes and some knots.  She even made some cookies that were ‘k’s and ‘c’s.

Here is a picture of the two ladies working hard on the Koulouria.

We had a good time.  I’m looking forward to getting together later in the year to make Greek Christmas cookies.

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Happy Birthday Girl Scouts!

March 18, 2010

I made these cake pops to celebrate the 98th birthday of girl scouts.

The girls in Meeshie’s troup really enjoyed them.

I even brought some to work.

I’m working on making some for Easter.  I’m leaning toward Easter eggs.

I’ll keep you posted.

 

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Meatloaf

March 14, 2010

I made this meatloaf a few nights ago.  I’m not a big meatloaf fan but Meeshie and my husband like it.  As a rule, I don’t make things that I don’t like to eat.  That being said, I do have a recipe for meatloaf that I got from a friend of mine that is really easy, moist and tasty!

Meatloaf

  • 3 lbs of ground beef
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 C Parmesan cheese
  • 1 C salsa
  • 1 C sour cream and onion potato chips, crushed
  • garlic powder, to taste

Mix everything together and cook in preheated 350 degree oven for an hour.

I usually make two loaves because one 3 pound meatloaf is a bit much for us, but I know that you can easily double this recipe as well.  The meat freezes nicely.

I served it with something different.  Something that I don’t usually use as a side.  Maccaroni and cheese.  Meeshie had been requesting it for over a week.  I thought instead of mashed potatoes, why not?  I think I’ve found a winner.  It was a great combo.

Give it a try.

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Kangel +1

March 12, 2010

Last week I met Angel again with another friend.  I’ve seen Angel more in the last month than I had in the last six.

I’m not complaining.  I’m just stating a fact.

It was great to see her again and my friend Sherri.  Another one of our friends was planning to join us but her daughter was very sick.  She needed to take her to the hospital.  Hope you feel better soon Erin!

It was wonderful to see Sherri.  I haven’t seen her since the fall.  We’ve spoken a number of times but nothing compares to that one on one face time.  We reminisced.  We cried.  We laughed a lot. 

Angel talked about her future plans.  Moving and finding a place to live in Wisconsin with her family. 

Sherri talked about her new business and vacation plans. 

I talked about my new job.

I’m hoping we can all get together soon, but if not that’s okay. 

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R.E.M. How do you spell that?

March 10, 2010

I saw REM at the UIC Pavillion back in the 80’s just when they were moving from college radio airplay to some more mainstream airplay.  This is before Michael Stipe started looking like a refuge.  It was the Document tour.  The One I Love was on the radio and It’s the End of the World as We Know it and I Feel Fine was gaining popularity.

I’d been to the Pavillion before.  My first concert was there.  Madonna’s Like a Virgin Tour.  The Beasty Boys were the opening act.  They were booed off the stage.

 Later, my graduation ceremony from college was there. 

It’s not one of my favorite places to see a concert.  The acoustics are not the best but I had to see R.E.M.

Once I knew they were coming to Chicago I called Ticketmaster to find out when the tickets would go on sale.  The person on the other end of the phone asked me R.E.M, how do you spell that?

Pardon Me?  R period, E period M period.

Oh.

The night of the concert.  Angel and I, along with another friend stopped somewhere to eat something before we made it to the Pavillion.  After we got back in my car I discovered that my purse and jacket had been stolen.  Luckily my tickets were not in either place but I did lose a really cool leather box purse from Banana Republic that I miss to this day.  Along with the ticket stub to my first U2 concert at the University of Illinois.

We get to the concert and our tickets were on the main floor.  On folding chairs.  I broke mine while Michael Snipe sang I am Superman!

We got a flat tire on the way back from the concert, too. 

I did mention  that Angel and I were Thelma and Louise, right?  When we did something together, we went all out!

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THINGS I’M THANKFUL FOR!

March 4, 2010

SPRING!

I saw these daffodils poking out of the soil underneath my apple tree.

Here’s another one.

YEAH!  Spring is on its way.  I’m so excited.  I’m on the look out for my tulips but they are hit our miss becuase of the rabbits around here.

This is blooming in my kitchen.

WORK!

I started a new job this week.  I’m very excited about that too. 

The search was long and stressful.  Trying to work interviews around my current job was hard.  Here’s to starting this spring on a positive note.

Last thing, Meeshie could not be more excited about going back to daycare and seeing all of her friends.  While I was job searching and working we had to pull her out.  I took her to school, I picked her up. 

I asked her if she is going to miss that.

No mom I just hope that my friends at daycare still remember me and still want me as their friend.

You saw some of them over Christmas break and at church and birthday parties.

But not at daycare.  Do you think they still want to be my friend?

In the last few months, I wish that was the least of my problems.

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Ice Skating

March 2, 2010

Meeshie wanted to go ice skating so I took her today.  She had an outing with her girl scout troop.  Since she was about 3, she’s always asked about ice skating.  I’m not sure why. 

She’s been roller skating before and hasn’t really enjoyed it.  She’s not very coordinated.  She gets that from me.

 

Here she is waiting for the rest of the troop.  Look at how excited she is.

Here she is trying to work her way around the ice.  She never let go of the wall.  Except once, but she fell.  I didn’t take a picture of that.  I was too distracted.

Here she is trying to determine how to get back to the bench so she can sit down.  Quickly!

Here she is with her feet moving farther and farther apart.  She did not fall at this point.

She’s had enough at this point.  She falls and then we get off the ice.

I on the other hand had fun.  I haven’t been on ice skates since high school.  It was part of our gym class.  I took it not because I thought it would be fun or that I would be good at it.  I took it so that I didn’t have to change into that horrible gym suit.  I was no Peggy Fleming but I had fun.

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Wind Flowers

March 1, 2010

Anemone-De Caen

I bought these bulbs yesterday. They are Anemone de Caen.  According to the package I can plant them in April and they will bloom in early summer.  They are supposed to be a good flower to cut and will last in a vase for about 5 days.

They caught my eye because I thought they were poppies.   According to a google search, the Anemone is also known as the ‘windflower’.  They grow up to 12 inches high and they need to be planted in partial sun to full shade.  I have a Japanese maple outside of my kitchen window that I have planted day lilies under but they struggle there.  Partly because of the lack of sun, maple is full and one of my favorite trees and partly because my hubby hits the lilies with the lawnmower every week.

I also found this information about the bulbs or corms.

Anemone blanda
These bulbs are hardy in zones 5 to 9, where they should be planted in fall for spring bloom. They will grow in full sun to
shade, and they naturalize easily. They should be kept moist throughout their growing season. They are adaptable to a variety of soil types. Soak the tubers in water for eight to ten hours before planting. Plant two inches apart and about three inches deep.

Anemone coronaria
These bulbs are hardy in zones 7 to 10, where they will naturalize easily. They do best in light shade in these warm areas. They should be planted in well-drained, humus-rich soil, and are adaptable to a wide range of pH levels and soil types. Soak the tubers for about twelve hours before planting. Plant two or three inches deep and about eight inches apart.

In colder areas, de Caen anemones can be planted in spring after danger of frost is past. They prefer full sun in colder areas. The tubers can be lifted and dried in the fall.

These are fast-growing flowers, so a sequence of plantings will result in all-summer bloom. Plant in April for June and July flowering and plant in June for September flowering.

I am concerned about pulling them out in the fall, I had dahlias once and you have to remove the bulbs in the fall and I never did.  How could I do that to this beautiful flower? 

Fidalgo Julie - Novelty Dahlia, orange and red

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