Monday, March 22, 2010

Tales of my knee

I think I may be close to 75% with my "new" knee.
So close, so close!
The surgery worked or so it seems. I visit with my surgon this afternoon at which point he will give me a timeline for the next couple of monthes, smile and tell me that everything looks good and then send the bill. Gripping!
After spending the weekend tangling (litterlally getting attacked), whacking, chopping, cursing, pulling, cursing, and then digging out the roots and hauling away two truck loads of blackberry brambles. I HATE BLACKBERRIES! Non-native blackberry bushes are a waste of land and take an extream amount of effort to erradicate. The berries (left) look so tasty, why spend a weekend getting rid of them? Don't even get me started..... just plant natives and save the heartache when they need to go, just like ivy. Just don't do it.
J was a huge help this weekend providing motavation, lots of time and grunt work. Every bit of effort will help with our overall satisfaction and resale value. One project at a time. Next: roof, landscaping, maybe a pump track for J....
Pulling blackberries, digging up roots and carrying wheel barrel loads of gravel is right up my alley on a good day but with a lack of strength in my knee and overall weakened body, this task was a serious undertaking, especially just eight weeks out of surgery. I made it through the project with no mishaps, just extreamly tired. After talking to the doctor, explaining how excited I was to get back in the swing of things he told me to hold on doing these sorts of tasks until about July. Whew, more waiting; looks like J has to dig, mow, and landscape the rest of the season.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A week made sweeter with crepes

I have been dreaming of one of an ipod tpouch for some time now. When I finally broke down and purchased one, I felt as if I needed to cut out some other part of my budget inorder to compensate for the rather extravagant purchase. So I did, and I saved money, ate better, drank less and spent more time at home. I decided that I would cut out eating at resteraunts for a week to offset the needless electronic purchase.

I was forced to cook for myself and J. It is all too easy for us to come home tired and a little hungry, looking for comfort to go sit down at a local resteraunt and have a glass of wine/beer and a plate of food. Don't misunderstand this as if I don't totally enjoy this and look forward to it but it adds up in the bankroll and my waist.

I made a yummy pot of split pea soup to start off the week, which fed us for a couple of days and I am happy to say that I polished off every green smudgen of this wonderful dish. I knew that I loved split pea soup, but I didn't know I would go so far as to licking most of the dishes clean and still wanting more.

In typical fashion I went overboard when I decided to make crepes for the oncle monthly ladies night. I made crepes and the gals all brought a filling which included mushrooms, spinach, ricotta cheese, a creamy mixture of chicken and asperagus, and for dessert we swooned over fresh fruit chocolate and whipped cream.

I came home inspired by the novelity of crepes and made a couple more batches to share with coworkers at a staff meeting. For this I prefilled crepes with a mixture of equal parts cream cheese and cottage cheese, a dash of sugar, vanilla and salt that was whipped up in a food processor. The next morning as I started the day at the crack of dawn I popped these in the oven to warm up and totted them to work with a jar of fruit preserves to garnish the top.

J went climbing in Squamish on Friday, what a great way to bring in Spring and take advantage of this great weather in early March. Knowing that they got stuck in hanous traffic on a Friday afternoon in Vancouver only to get to the border and wait a few more HOURS without dinner and I had gone on a bike ride, we were in need of some animal protien. I rarely cook meat, I leave it up to J and the bbq, but I can handle cooking meat in the crock pot so in the early afternoon I put a pork roast in the crockpot with bay leaves, garlic and red wine. In a couple hours it comes out anf just falls apart at the sight of a fork. Perfect! I took the pork and the savory broth that was produced in the crockpot and miced it with chopped onion, cabbage, soy sauce, and sesame oil, fried it in a cast iron skillet and then added some udon noodles. Perfect dinner and tasty leftovers.

To top off this week of eating in, we (including me!) made hamburgers! I can't remeber the last time that I ate a hamburger so needles to say it tasted increadible. Saturady was a perfect day in Bellingham, a perfect day to sit on a patio. We brainstormed the resteraunts in Bellingham to go sit on a patio and then realized why we spent thousands of dollars on our desck, there is no place in Bellingham to sit on a patio and have a bite, it was an unanimous decision that we had to cook on the grill and enjoy our deck. By the time that dinner was done, it was to chilly to eat on the deck so we watched the sunset in the comfort of our house through the windows. Back to the burgers and the red meat uphoria.... covered in blue cheese, avacado, lettuce and tomatoe smooshed between an english muffin. Ahhh.... summer here we come!

There I did it, no eating out all week which lead to a happy bank account and a new toy!!

Crepes
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking
SERVES 12

Ingredients

Directions


  1. Pour the batter into a pitcher or other container with a pouring lip.

  2. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 30 minutes or in refrigerate for up to 2 days. (This allows the flour to thoroughly absorb the liquid and gives the gluten in the flour a chance to relax.).

  3. Place a nonstick or seasoned crepe pan over medium heat. Coat the pan with a little unsalted butter.

  4. Stir the batter and pour about 2 tablespoons into the pan, lifting the pan off the heat and tilting and rotating it so that the batter forms an even, very thin layer. Cook until the top is set and the underside is golden. Turn the crepe over, using a spatula or your fingers (fingers work best here) and cook until the second side is lightly browned. Remove the crepe to a piece of wax paper. Continue cooking the rest of the crepes, buttering the pan and stirring the batter before starting each one.

  5. Stack the finished crepes between sheets of wax paper.

  6. Use immediately or let cool, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 1 month.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Cheese Straws

I admit, I am a snack-a-holic. By the time dinner rolls around I have munched my way through any hunger that I might of had for a real meal.  Appitizers, chips, crackers are rank high in my book.
I also really love dinner parties and cooking or a big group of friends, my favorite part of course is coming up with sensational finer foods.

When I first came across the recipe for cheese straws it was over at Smitten Kitchen and it was around the holidays. Holidays and parties go hand and hand. The first time that I shared them was at friends birthday party in which they were gone in an a matter of minutes (a double batch mind you) but anything with cheese would have been inhaled by this group of friends that had just spent the day at the mountain.

These really are ultra easy and you most likely have the ingredients on hand. Feel free to tweak the cheese to what ever you have at the time. I have substituted parmesan and even a dill havarti.

The best part about these is the amazing smell that comes from the oven while baking these.

Simply irristable!



Cheese Straws
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen & The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces
3/4 cup flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon half-and-half (I used cream, because I had it on hand; suspect milk would work just as well)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a food processor, combine the cheese, butter, flour, salt and red pepper in five 5-second pulses until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the half-and-half and process until the dough forms a ball, about 10 seconds.

3. On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8- by 10-inch rectangle that is 1/8-inch thick. With a sharp knife (or a pizza or pastry wheel; both worked great), cut the dough into thin 8-inch strips, each 1/4- to 1/3-inch wide (dipping the knife in flour after every few inches ensures a clean cut). Gently transfer the strips to an ungreased cookie sheet (though I lined mine with parchment), leaving at least 1/4-inch between them. The dough may sag or may break occasionally in the transfer, but don’t be concerned — just do your best. The straws can be any length, from 2 to 10 inches.

4. Bake the straws on the middle rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the ends are barely browned. Remove from the oven and set the cookie sheet on a rack to cool.

5. Serve at room temperature. Cheese straws will keep in the refrigerator, in a sealed container, for two days. They will not last an hour at a party.

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