After seeing how well the photo-heavy post worked last week, I decided to do another this week. Perhaps, I will just keep posting that way, just to keep posting something. Shane has promised to post about the computer he is building ~ oh, the trials and tribulations of the Great Computer Build of 2016! ~ when he has time, but he is, as usual, working several jobs at once, so it might be some time before he gets to that. Well, he is not working several jobs at the moment. At this particular moment, he is sleeping, as he should, after a much-needed night out for just the two of us at Cheesecake Factory (and, yes, there are things I can eat there ~ there is a Vegan Cobb Salad, in fact, that is quite good, and almost as large as I, to boot, so I will be eating that for days) and a very heavy work week. Kaia is at a friend’s Bat Mitzvah, and the other kids are still asleep, because it is Saturday morning, so they can sleep in. Me? I was up to get the kid to the early Bat Mitzvah, and now I am drinking coffee, writing, and neglecting chores. Three of my favourite pastimes!
I decided to do another photo-post this week, because I enjoyed looking back on my week. Sometimes, I feel like the days and weeks and months all bleed together, and I find myself gasping for air and thinking, “Wait! Stop! What?? It’s April?!! When did that happen?? Where were January, February, March??? Didn’t we celebrate Christmas???!!!! Slow down already!!!” It is my hope that, by taking time to make a regualr “Week in Review” post, I will remember to pause and appreciate all of the moments, big and small, that make up our lives. As Social Distortion told me: “Life goes by so fast! You only want to do what you think is right. Close your eyes and it’s past.” Yeah, that certainly is the “Story of My Life,” too. So, I am pausing to think, and I am letting you in, if you want to come along for the ride. Here it is, then, my week in review:
We went to see The Tempest at the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival (find more info here: Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival
I had a lot of busy days, but am trying really hard to remember to make healthy choices. I don’t like much fruit, but I know it’s good for me. The medication I am on impairs my appetite somewhat, and can, in combination with another medication I must take, cause dehydration, so I have to be very careful to make sure I:
a) REMEMBER TO EAT (trust me, this is not as easy as it sounds ~ and yes, I realize how ridiculous that is), and
b) STAY HYDRATED
Because I practically live in my car, I have to eat there, sometimes, too; but I am trying to make healthy choices when I do. Pears I can stand. They are an acceptable fruit. Coconut water is very hydrating. Violets are always a winner.
Right. That thing about being healthy. I just said that, and now, I am gonna post poptarts. It’s true, I made poptarts. I made them because it’s all good and well to be healthy, but you have to also eat delicious things and have fun, too, and homemade poptarts are really the best poptarts. You can make your own crust, or just use store bought piecrust (I make my own, because I prefer it, and it’s really pretty simple, using an oil pastry recipe my mom gave me) and you can fill them with jam or, as I did, brown sugar & cinnamon mixed w/ a little almond meal, butter and pinch of salt. Okay, so they are still a little bit healthy and kind of nerdy, as compared to regular poptarts. Being a little bit healthy and kind of nerdy, myself, I can live with that.
I added a few little touches to the Alice Garden, including teacup & saucer birdfeeders I made using pieces purchased from a thrift store; and while I wouldn’t call it “finished,” by any stretch of the imagination (and I don’t think I ever will), I do think it is looking quite “Alice-y,” indeed.
Shane brought me a tiny bouquet of flowers; and I picked up two magazines about two pretty amazing people, but I haven’t had time to start reading either of them yet.
I continue to walk and use the free equipment at the local park 2-3 times/week. I keep thinking about signing up for a gym membership or the YMCA, and I might just do it when it gets too cold for me to be outdoors, but, for now, this is my gym:
Saw yet another positively glorious North Hollywood sunset. I got to enjoy it with my kids, thanks to a phone call from Shane, to give us a heads-up from our homework and chores. I love that we do this for each other. Any one of the five of us will call or text to say, “You have to go outside and see (the Moon/sunset/rainbow,etc.).” It’s just one of the things that makes us who we are. I hope we always do that. As usual, the pictures just don’t do it justice. The sun was glowing deep red. I did the best I could to capture it with my little phone camera, but you’ll just have to trust me, it was roughly 8,000x more glorious.
We celebrated Gene Kelly’s birthday by watching a bunch of his best dance numbers (which pretty much means all of them ~ they were all his best).
I baked a darned good gluten-free apple pie, if I do say so myself (I do, by the way)! I didn’t intend for it to be gluten-free, but discovered, after I had already started peeling apples, that I didn’t have enough regular flour to make pie crust. I did, however, happen to have some gluten-free flour left over from a baking project Kaia had done for her Girl Scout troop, so I decided to just go ahead and make a gluten-free pie crust. Turned out great, so, should the need arise, I now know I can do this. Also, I got to have pie for breakfast one day. Oh, we totally had pie for dinner. It has fruit, see, and fruit is good for us.
Justice brought home a huge bouquet of sunflowers! Thank you!
Kaia did her homework outside one day; and it was accidentally left outside. The next morning, at 5:00 a.m., the sprinklers went off. Later that morning, as she was getting ready to leave for school, she couldn’t find her homework. I’ll bet you can guess where it was. Yeah. We used a hairdryer set on low to dry it. Only one finished math equation was completely washed away. Her teachers were very understanding about its rumpled condition.
I FINALLY started painting the detail above the shower in the kids’ bathroom. I know. It still looks pretty shoddy here. Give me some time. And look with your hearts. The Fox taught me that is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye! (I’ll post more pics when it’s done.)
Last, but not least, I played my banjo. I am getting used to the new banjo. She looks, feels and plays different than the old banjo. I will still play both, but, for now, I am just playing the new one, because…well, the old one is a little easier to play, I guess; so I feel like I need to work with the new one until I get used to her. The new banjo is so much heavier! I feel like I am lifting a small child (or a medium-sized child…who is carrying a small dog). I love her. I mean, she’s beautiful, so it was kind of love at first sight, if you believe in that sort of thing. Have you met her? Her name is Babe. Ain’t she a beaut?
I saw this recipe recently for “eggroll in a bowl,” and I thought it sounded like an interesting idea, but it called for 1/2 cup of soy sauce, which seemed like a lot to me, and sausage, which is meat (which we don’t eat). Nevertheless, I was intrigued by the idea, so I decided to see what I could do with it. It helped that I happened to have a package of Trader Joe’s Beef-less Ground Beef, a package of shredded cabbage, and a package of broccoli slaw mix. At first, I debated using shredded cabbage or broccoli slaw. Ultimately, I decided it would be even better (and probably better for us) if I used both. I made miso broth (with baked tofu cubes and thinly sliced scallions) and jasmine white rice to go with it. I happen to think it’s delicious, so I thought I would share it here.
You will need:
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 package Trader Joe’s Beef-less Ground Beef (or equivalent meat or meat substitute)
1-2 large garlic cloves
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced (both green & white parts)
1-3 TBS Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce)
1 tsp seasoned rice vinegar
1 package shredded cabbage*
1 package broccoli slaw*
*Both of these ingredients were found in the produce section at Trader Joe’s, so they are whatever size package is sold there. Wait. I’ll look it up. It looks like the broccoli slaw is 12 oz (and it’s organic, so I guess that’s good), and the shredded cabbage is 10 oz (and washed & ready…and high in Vitamin C).
In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the Beef-less Ground beef, garlic, ginger, and scallions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Add soy sauce (or Bragg’s) and rice vinegar, and cook, stirring for 1-2 minutes. Stir in cabbage and slaw. Cook, stirring until vegetables have reached desired tenderness. We like our soft, so, toward the end of the cooking time, I added about 1/4 water and covered it with a lid for a few minutes to steam the veggies. Then, I removed the lid and turned up the heat, to cook off the excess water.
Like I said, I think it’s very good. Justice liked it, but the other kids haven’t tried it yet. I guess it does look a little strange. I will definitely make it again, even if I am the only one eating it, and I guess, if we wanted to make eggrolls, we could use this as the filling. Give it a shot, and see what you think. I haven’t run it through a nutrition calculator or anything, but it would have to be high protein and low carb, right?
Like my last post, this one is a quick, sort of “cheat” version of a family favourite. I htought about posting it to our food blog, and I probably will, later, but it seems like it fits here, since it makes feeding the kids a little bit easier and less stressful.
Today, Kaia had a friend over through lunchtime. I thought I was going to make quesadillas, to go with the leftover rice & beans from last night’s dinner, until I realized we’d eaten all of the tortillas. Making quesadillas without tortillas would be tricky, at best. Then, Kaia’s guest piped up, “You know what sounds really good right now? Pasta with tomato-cream sauce.” It happens to be one of Kaia’s favourites, too, so, after a quick check to make sure I had the ingredients, I set to work. I didn’t have much time, so I decided to just make it quick, and it occurred to me that others might need a good, quick go-to recipe. So, here ya go.
Quick Tomato Cream Sauce
1 sm. can tomato paste
3 cans milk (fill the empty tomato paste can 3 times, that is)
1 TBS flour
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
salt & pepper to taste
1 TBS butter
In a blender, combine first 7 ingredients. Blend until very smooth and well-combined. Pour into a medium saucepan and heat on low, stirring occasionally, just to simmering. Turn off burner. Stir in butter, salt and pepper. Serve over hot pasta or rice.
Today, I served the sauce over capellini (angel hair), because it takes only about 3 minutes to cook. I put on a pot of salted water to boil before I started making the sauce, and the pasta was done just moments after the sauce, so it really was a quick meal. It is particularly delicious over spinach tortellini, which happens to be one of Kaia’s favourites (and wait…is that TWO vegetables in one dish?? Wonders may never cease!).
Before I go, here are a few of tips I have picked up over the years on the subject of cooking pasta:
Salt your water. Cook pasta until “al dente.” This literally means “to the tooth.” In other words, you should have to use your teeth to cut the pasta; it shouldn’t just squish against the top of your mouth when you press it with your tongue. After draining your pasta, toss it with a little bit of olive oil. This keeps it from sticking together, helps maintain the texture after sauce is added, and gives it a nice flavour. Last, but not least: I do not rinse my pasta (with the exception of cold pasta salad ~ in that case, I rinse in cold water until it is cold, and drain very well).
Okay, so this is not real, traditionally-made fudge, but, sometimes, you just need a quick fix, and this really does satisfy my craving for chocolate-peanut butter fudge. It makes up quickly, taste delicious, and, although the texture (straight out of the fridge) is maybe a little bit crumbly, I decided to count it a success and share it. So, if you are in a hurry for a chocolatey, peanut-buttery treat, this just might fit the bill.
Here’s what you need:
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup butter or margarine
8 oz. semisweet chocolate (morsels, or baking chocolate squares, roughly cut or broken)
pinch or two of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 – 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
Here’s what you do:
Place butter and peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl. Cook on high, 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each run, until butter is melted and the two are smoothly combined. Mine took about 1 1/2 minutes, I believe.
Add chocolate, and cook again, 20 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth and thoroughly combined. (DO NOT OVERCOOK! After the first 20 seconds, you might want to cook in even smaller time increments. You do not want to cook your mixture ~ just melt the chocolate enough to stir it in.)
Stir in salt and vanilla, then, 1/2 cup at a time, using a fork, stir in confectioner’s sugar. Continue adding sugar and stirring until the mixture begins to look like very thick frosting. It should start to pull away from the sides of the bowl and be able to be pulled together like dough, rather than being a looser mixture, like typical frosting or batter.
Place the fudge in a container (I used a rectangular food storage container I had, but you could probably use a cake pan or pie plate, too. Spread the mixture evenly. This might be difficult, because as the fudge cools, it will become stiffer and more difficult to spread. I used the back of a spoon and worked quickly. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Cover, and place in the fridge for at least an hour before cutting in to small squares and enjoying your tasty treat.
Mine made 45 little squares of fudge, but I probably cut them a little small for some people’s taste.
I have been keeping it in the fridge, because it is warm here, so I am not sure how it would hold up outside the fridge. remember, this isn’t a true fudge, so it might not be as creamy and perfect as real fudge, but I think it’s a pretty good impostor.
It would have been so much easier (and cooler) to order pizza for dinner this evening, rather than make our own; but we had the cheese, we had the sauce, we had all the ingredients to make the crust, we had toppings… It seemed silly (and wasteful) to buy it when we already had everything we needed. So, I started making the dough. I am tired. I am hot. I have a headache. I have had a frustrating week. And now I have to go finish making pizza that I probably won’t even eat. It’s okay. I’m sure I will feel better after a few minutes of kneading dough; the kids will get a slightly less junky dinner than they might have; and I will save us the cost of having a pizza delivered. That’s good, right?
If it turns out pretty, maybe I will come back and post a picture. If it turns out ugly, I might come back and post a picture, purely for the comedic value of ugly pizza.
So. There you have it.
Grumpy day. I am thinking pizza might help. I have another project waiting in the wings. If it turns out pretty…
Well, you know the drill.
That was quick! Okay. I was totally right about the kneading. It’s like meditation. Good for the soul, and, on a purely mechanical level, good for the still rehabilitating wrist and thumb. So. I think it’s going to be worth the effort, as I suspected. Of course, because i was making the stuff, it did not go as planned. Turns out, I lied up there. We do not have toppings, unless you count cheese. So, 2 cheese pizzas it is! (I was going to do one cheese, and one with other stuff, too, but that would involve having other stuff. I offered to make canned green bean pizza, but I don’t think the kids were impressed. I also didn’t have 3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, so I had to use about a cup of whole wheat flour to make up the difference. See? It’s going to be WAY better for them than delivery pizza. Right?? Ha. Yeah. It’s health food. But, hey, we have homemade crust, homemade sauce, real cheese ~ that’s not so bad, really.
I used this recipe:
In a large bowl, whisk together 2-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast and 1-1/3 cups warm water. Let stand 5 minutes.
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 t0 1-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar (optional)
Stir (or use electric mixer) for about one minute, until the dough kind of forms a ball. Turn dough on to a floured board and knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Oil the inside of the bowl with olive oil. Return dough to bowl, turning once to coat all sides with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (awesome ~ the Valley is warm) until doubled in volume, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
Punch down dough and divide in half. Roll each half into a ball, then let rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 475℉. Grease two 12-inch round pizza pans and dust them with cornmeal.
Flatten each ball into a 12-inch round. Transfer to prepared pizza pans. press little indentations on the surface of the dough to prevent excessive bubbling, rush with olive oil, top, and bake until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.
Done. You made pizza.
You see my dilemma. This is going to take YEARS! The pizza delivery place could have had it here in seconds. But this will be cheaper, and better for us, and it will probably even taste better, too.
Okay. Off to that other project!
I mean, the kids seem happy, not the pizzas. The pizzas seem relatively yummy. I just had a little bite of crust with the cheese pulled off, so I cannot speak with authority.
Have you checked out our food blog? This was the first blog the kids encouraged me to start years ago, when they noticed that a) I love to cook, and b) I am forever photographing our food and telling people about it. I realized recently that I haven’t been posting there as much as I used to, so I decided that I will try to remember to post recipes there, and link to them here. So, if you want to know what we’re eating, or your looking for some interesting meatless options, check it out.