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Archive for October, 2011

A few weeks ago, we emerged from our home to find this hanging in the eaves. It took us a minute, too…that is exactly what you think it is.  It’s a bat.

Here’s a closer look…

Considering our lack of handsome vampire boyfriends or owls we keep as pets, we were at rather a loss for what to do. Adam thought by taking a rake and nudging the bat, it would soar into the sky and return to the dark castle where that Count from Sesame Street lives. Instead, the bat dropped to the ground, leading us to believe it was dead. Adam and the kids moved in for a closer look and some fine, National Geographic style photos and bravely, Adam nudged it again with his rake but this time that bat responded with a high pitched scream and the barring of its teeth.

I was brave, too, but only from behind the screen door in the kitchen, my gifts are more administrative. I took it upon myself to call the Colorado Division of Wildlife for further instruction. The expert advice they offered can be summed up as follows, they will not come and remove bat, the bat probably (probably!) won’t hurt us, I am welcome to coexist with bat if I so choose, I might saturate my backyard with ammonia and hope that, with time, the bat may find this unpleasant and move on. Thank you, CDW, very helpful.

In the mean time, the bat decided to crawl under our house to finish its nap.

I felt I had no choice than to round up all the ammonia I could find and was headed out to the Ammonia Store when I realized that our batty friend had, thankfully, flown the coop returning our home, once again to A Bat Free Zone. If that wasn’t creepy enough for you, I found these hanging in the eaves the next day…

Have a Happy and Safe Halloween!

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Last Wednesday, we had big Pumpkin Patch plans but said plans were thwarted when we woke up to this…

Photo Courtesy of Sam

The kids were quite overcome by this first snow of the year and headed out to play before we even had breakfast…

Photo Courtesy of Miss Lauren

Hello, Snow!

What ensued was a pile of coats and hats and mittens and a two very happy, half frozen kids desperately calling out for some warm sustenance. The Potato Soup answered that call. To me, there are very few foods in this world as wholly satisfying as the Potato in general but the Potato Soup, well, that is just the Potato dressed up in its Sunday best! I will tell you the (well known) secret to amazing Potato Soup, actually, I will tell you the secret to amazing anything…drum roll please…its bacon. Even turkey bacon. I swear. Also, a bit of cilantro can add a little somethin’ something’ when you need it and the combination together…well, you know. It’s real tasty. The soup I made was adapted from this awesome recipe which was also delicious but for me needed a bit more flavor.

Awesome Potato Soup

  • 1 pound bacon, chopped (I used turkey bacon)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 cups chicken stock, or enough to cover potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream (*I used 1% milk instead)
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon (*I omitted this because I was fresh out of tarragon)
  • 3 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • *2 T chicken boullion
  • *sharp cheddar cheese
  • *1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3 green onions, sliced for garnish
*These are my own changes

Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until done. Remove bacon from pan, and set aside. Drain off all but 1/4 cup of the bacon grease.
  2. In the bacon grease remaining in the pan, saute the celery and onion until onion begins to turn clear. Add the garlic, and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cubed potatoes, and toss to coat. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Return the bacon to the pan, and add enough chicken stock to just cover the potatoes. Cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender.
  3. In a separate pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Cook stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream, tarragon, cilantro, bouillon, cheese, and garlic powder. Bring the cream mixture to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir the cream mixture into the potato mixture. Puree about 1/2 the soup, and return to the pan (* I didn’t need to puree this soup, for me the potatoes were tender and creamy enough). Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with crusty, delicious bread and garnish with onions.

We love Potato Soup!

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Weekly Menu ~ 10/24-10/30

Monday

  • Caprese Paninis
  • Salad with Home Made Vinaigrette

Tuesday

  • Potato Leek Soup
  • Baguette

Wednesday

  • Black Bean Tacos
  • Lime and Cilantro Rice

Thursday

  • Roasted Chicken with Veggies

Friday

  • Mac n Cheese
  • Root Beer Floats

Saturday

  • Out -Dinner with Friends!

Sunday

  • Moroccan Meatballs
  • Crusty Bread

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Plums!

Look, Plums!

Check it out! We’ve had another “harvest” and this time it’s plums! Not the red plums, which usually ripen in August and look like this…

Nope. These are your blue plums. Damson plums I think they’re called…and they are delicious.

This Plum is happy to see you!

Lauren and I spent an afternoon picking them…

and washing them…

Even Dash wanted in on the action but quickly retreated when he realized that plums contain no bacon…

"These have bacon in them, right?"

And then we decided to make a Plum Pie. The Pie, itself, was lovely with the tartness of the plums and the sweetness of the sugar in perfect juxtaposition and very tasty over a bit of vanilla bean ice cream. Here’s the recipe I used if you happen to find yourself in possession of fifty pounds of fresh Damson plums and feel like you wanna give this dessert the old college try. If you don’t have any plums, let me know, I know where you can score some…

Delightful Plum Pie 

Ingredients

  • 4 cups sliced fresh plums
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pastry shell
  • TOPPING:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter or margarine

Directions

  1. In a bowl, combine the first six ingredients; pour into the pastry shell. For topping, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl; cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over filling. Bake at 375 degrees F for 50-60 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Cover edges of crust during the last 20 minutes to prevent overbrowning. Cool on a wire rack.
When we all finally settled into the family room with our dessert, and Adam decided to read aloud to us (which are the best nights of all, even without any pie!) it was the perfect way to end a long day of “bringing in” the plums.

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Bad Streak

For some strange reason, it seems that every year around this time I experience a culinary losing streak. Have you ever had one? They’re so disappointing. My poor family. They are ever so patient and faithful but I wouldn’t have blamed them a bit if they had thrown in the towel and decided to partake of some of the fine (edible) dining options in our area.

Check out these delectable dishes I turned out…

  •  The Almost Egg Salad
You know how Egg Salad is really hard to make? Not! I don’t know what happened here. Inexplicably, the normal amount of time it takes to boil eggs was not enough this time and the eggs were, in a word: disgusting, I mean: underdone, okay, two words: underdone and disgusting. The shell would not even come free of these sad egg-scuses for hard boiled. Every time I would try to peel one, its gelatinous, little, center sphere would burst free and slime around in the bowl. It was so gross, I had to trash a whole dozen eggs. I know, I agree, totally un-eggs-ceptable.
I don’t think it had anything to do with the phone call I was on…
  •      Sad, Sad Buttermilk Pancakes
Question? Who do you know that actually messes up pancakes? Pancakes, for corn’s sake! Well, you’re looking at her, I tanked the cakes! This is an actual photograph of Sam’s cleared breakfast plate, Sam who lives for pancake morning. I was speechless. In a later assessment of this fiasco, I believe there was a shocking lack of flour in these flapjacks. The batter had been runny and the cakes themselves came out thin and overcooked. The utter shame not even a pool of warm, Vermont, maple syrup could cover up. I don’t think my texting directions to a friend had anything to do with it…
  •  Brown Soup
Last but not least, I must address the brown soup. This one is still an enigma (or maybe not so much). How does one ruin a soup made from like 5,000 beans premixed and packaged for me at my local Sprouts. Arguably, all I had to do was place the beans in some water, add spices and await delicious soup. I did not do that. Well, I did step one but somehow forgot step two, resulting in a huge pot of plain bean water. And FYI, once you have simmered yourself up some plain bean water, there ain’t a spice on the planet that will add even a tinge of flavor.

I don’t think it had anything to do with the fact that I was giving a spelling test at the time…
Well, after all this I thought about up and moving away but I’ll bet they have bad culinary streaks…even in Australia.

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Pumpkin Patch Time...Yeah, Baby!

I think I’m feeling a Vegetarian Vibe this week…

Monday

  • Vegetable Couscous
  • Arugula Salad

Tuesday

  • Black Bean Burgers
  • Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
  • Salad

Wednesday

  • Guacamole Tostadas
  • Cowboy Beans

Thursday

  • Whole Wheat Penne with Steamed Broccoli
  • Chopped Salad

Friday

  • Pizza Night! – Veggie, Margherita, and Feta with Kalamata Olives
  • Ceasar Salad

Saturday

  • Out- Dinner with friends…Yay!

Sunday

  • Buttermilk Pancakes
  • Scrambled Eggs with Cream Cheese & Chives
  • Turkey Bacon- Vegetarian Week is over!

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The Matchstick and The Onion

I recently heard an old wives tale that says the best way to avoid crying when you’re cutting an onion is to hold a matchstick in your mouth while you cut it. Immediately, I was intrigued by such a claim. My common sense told me this made no sense. What complex chemical properties or sword fighting skills could a matchstick possess and how could it possibly provide any kind of protection against the perils of onion juice and the inevitable tears that would follow? Were these, perhaps, magic matchsticks, made from trees cut from an enchanted forest where the fairies never cry when they slice up onions for their fajitas? And would I really want to chop up an onion with a stick hanging out of my mouth, not even a toothpick, a matchstick. What do I work at the bowling alley?

Really?!

Recent (quick internet) research on the matter dredged up every opinion under the sun. Some folks were skeptical, feeling that the match was more of “Dumbo’s Feather” than any kind of real remedy, others swear by it, citing the sulfur base of the match head as its secret ingredient. Some people use a combination of tricks, first submerging the onion in water, then lighting a candle, holding a matchstick (or a piece of bread) in their mouth while wearing very expensive, William-Sonoma onion goggles (that is a real thing). The scientific community (and by that I mean a blog post entitled, Chopping Onions and Pragmatism) seems to think that none of these solutions really works at all, except to say that some of them may help a bit by slowing the time it takes the chemical irritants to reach your mucus membranes. For instance, when you put a matchstick or a piece of bread in your mouth, you force yourself to breath through your mouth and prevent the enzymes from entering your nose, or by putting onions in the refrigerator, freezer, or running them under cold water, you may make the chemical reaction less potent. Many culinary experts say that by simply lighting a candle or by lighting a gas burner and (carefully!) cutting the onion next to the stove, the flame will draw some of the gas released by the onion.
Well, skeptical as I was, I must say that putting a matchstick in my mouth really DID work for me! Do I know why? I do not.
But I do know this, I see a long and productive future for the matchstick and I, for at our house there are always onions to be chopped and now I don’t have to turn on the water works to do it!

How do you cut an onion?

Let me know how it works for you!

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