Monday, June 29, 2009 it or not!

Recently I have been reminded that change, may it be good or bad, will happen with or with out your permission. At the beginning of May my mother was diagnosed with an incurable cancer called Multiple Myeloma. It is a nasty, ugly, and unfair disease that I had never heard of, but now know more than I wish to. Since her diagnosis I have been faced with how very fragile life and relationships are and I have just not been myself. I started this blog for fun and to share positive experiences. Since I have been fairly blue I didn't think it fair to myself or you to share my lack of positivity. And, to be honest, I have not done anything even remotely interesting in the kitchen.

Now that the craziness of her diagnosis and treatment schedules have calmed down I have had time to reflect on everything and myself. I cook because it makes me happy, it relieves my stresses and it brings me the best feeling to share my food with family and friends. So, I have made a promise to myself to get back into the kitchen and stop feeling so sorry for myself! I have several recipes I want to try and with the long 4th of July weekend coming up, I think that now is a perfect time to get started. Stay tuned this weekend for some fun posts!

Monday, April 27, 2009

This Years Crop

I has been about 5 weeks since I blogged. Honestly I have not been in the kitchen too much as of late. I have been busy with work, friends, family, ect. But 5 weeks is way to long to wait to do something you enjoy, so I will make a strong effort to come up with interesting topics so blog about.

Over the weekend Peter planted our 2009 vegetable, herb, and berry garden. On this years menu we have an assortment of tasty treats that I can't wait to start using!

Tomatoes, both regular & cherry. We had so many tomatoes last year, I am hoping for the same this go round.

Basil. How can you grow tomatoes and not have fresh basil to go with them, right?

Parsley & Cilantro. Peter planted a curly variety of parsley, I normally use flat leaf in my cooking but we will give this one a go.

Thyme. I use this herb a lot, having fresh on hand is going to be great.

Green peppers. I love a green pepper, but honestly don't use them that often. Any idea's for recipes?

Last but not least, a blackberry bush. This bush was a spur of the moment thing, we walked by it at Lowe's and it seemed like a good idea. We will see how we do with it.

What makes all of this even more exciting is that all of our plants are going to be organic and they are planted in our very own compost! We love composting and recently just bought our second barrel.

It is amazing, truly amazing, how much less trash you have when you start composting & recycling. We used to fill up our entire trash can every week, usually to the point where the lid didn't close. Pretty sad when it is just the two of us and the dog! Now that we compost and recycle we are usually throwing away only 2-3 bags of trash a week! It feels so good to be doing something great for the Earth and to get great soil for planting!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dim Sum Fun

My most recent issue of Cuisine at Home arrived about 2 weeks ago. This is always a joyous event for me as it is usually doesn't disappoint. This issue the large article on Dim Sum caught my eye and I just had to try it!
Some of you may be asking yourself "what the heck is Dim Sum Emily"? They are Chinese dumplings that are filled with meats or vegetables. They are usually steamed or boiled and are right up my alley because they are like little snack foods!

After reading the article I decided that I needed to get a bamboo steamer. They did recommend a couple of other methods but for whatever reason I decided I needed to be "authentic". I check out Bed, Bath and Beyond and Target and couldn't find one. I was thinking I was going to have to hit up William Sonoma and spend a small fortune when a friend who was attending the same child's birthday party that day suggested the Cost Plus Word Market a few stores down. Am I the last person on Earth to know about this store? What a cool place! I didn't have a lot of time so I can't wait to go back but they had the steamer and some cool chop sticks for about $15.oo.

So...on to the actual food. I didn't brave making my own dough this time around, although it looks doable, instead I opted for the pre-made wonton wrappers and made all three protein dumplings in the article. Beef & scallions, shrimp, and pork potstickers. All three had a different cooking method. The beef was boiled, the shrimp steamed, and the pork fried & steamed.

The beef and pork were very good, the pork being my favorite. The shrimp was really not good at all, I found it flavorless. The dipping sauce of basically sweetened soy sauce was also very good.

Peter of course didn't care for any of them but kind of liked the pork. I do have to give him credit for trying them though.

I had a blast with this one, it had been a long time since I had taken on a challenging cooking project. A word of caution, you will need a good bit of time if you choose to try it. It took me about 3 hours from start to finish. Wrapping these little treats takes a loooooong time and it is not easy to make the cute little packages in the article pictures. They also seem to freeze very well, so that made the time worth it as well.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Stay tuned...

I know I have been slack on blog posts in recent weeks. To be honest I haven't had much time to sit down and do it!!! I have a post of about the Dim Sum I made last Sunday in the works, so please stay tuned!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

An ultra cool birthday gift

On Thursday, March 5th I will turn 30 and I am amused at the comments I get from people that learn I have this milestone birthday coming up soon. Most people ask me how I feel, some groan and say I on my way over the hill, and some smile and say 30 was their best year ever and life has been grand ever since.

I am warmed by those that smile and say they loved turning 30. I do not have any negative feelings about turning 30, not a one. I feel that in my short life I have accomplished a lot of things, and still have a lot to do. I feel filled up everyday with the thought of how lucky I am to have lived this life and am excited for what the future holds. I have the best family and friends, both near and far, that a girl could ever ask for. I have a loving and hilarious husband that I love a little bit more everyday, a beautiful home, a stable job and a wiener dog that is more human to me than she is K9. Life is pretty close to perfect.

As I reflect on this birthday I have been thinking a lot about the person who was there from the beginning, my mom. Sometimes I think we are nothing a like. She is quirky, spontaneous, funky, and silly (just to name a few), and I have thought for a long time that I am none of these things. I am conservative, a planner, a worrier. However, the more I think about her I am reminded what a beautiful person she is and that I really do have all of those traits as well. My mom gave me the tools to be the person that I am today, she has loved me through the angst of my teenage years, the trials of young adulthood, and the joy of marriage. She has helped me find myself, and although I am sure she was frustrated more times than not, she has loved me fiercely through it all. It has been a great 30 years of being her daughter and I look forward to many many more. maybe saying to yourself, this is all very sweet Emily but what was the cool birthday gift? It is a small gift from my mom that is making me so happy! She has many talents, cooking is one and I got that passion from her, but the other is sewing. I can not sew a stitch and I am so jealous that she can! So for my birthday she made me these two really cool kitchen aprons.

I love homemade gifts, especially those that I will really use and I especially love that they came from my mom. I am looking forward to using them soon, hopefully this afternoon.

Here's to turning 30 and being excited, and to a great mom who has taught me so many life lessons.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dr. Tyler's Chicken Meatball & Tortellini Soup

I tried my first recipe from Tyler Florence's book Dinner at My Place over the weekend. Soup is one of my favorite things and as the cold weather is slipping away (fingers crossed) I decided I should make a big pot before the weather gets too warm.

The recipe was fun to put together. First was the meatballs. I made the bread crumbs in my miniature food processor which I have had for several months but have not yet had the opportunity to use.

Then in went ground chicken, milk, egg, parsley, and Parmigiano- Reggiano. The meat mixture is not very stiff and was hard to roll in my hands so I used a small ice cream scoop instead, made life a lot easier! The meatballs then go into a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes until golden and cooked through.

The rest of the soup is the same as a traditional chicken soup. Carrots, celery, onion, thyme and parsley are added to boxed chicken stock and simmered while the meatballs are in the oven. The cooked meatballs and the cheese tortellini are added and cook for about 7 minutes.

Very good soup. My only complaint is that the meatballs started to crumble over the next two days. I think this one may be best enjoyed the first day.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Marietta Diner

I am an Food Network junkie, and one Saturday morning I caught a quick minute of Diners, Drive In's and Dives. I had never really watched the show but I heard them talking about a place in Marietta, GA that sounded a lot like the "Greek" restaurants I miss so much from my home in Wisconsin. Don't be fooled by the word Greek. Although most of these restaurants have fantastic Greek fare, it referees to the people that own the restaurant who are normally of Greek descent.

Peter and I made the trip over to Marietta Diner last Saturday and I loved it from the moment I saw the sign!

There was a short wait so we had time to take a quick self-portrait and when we were being shown to our table we spotted the Diners Drive in's and Dives poster! Pretty cool!

I could not wait to try the Spanikopita that I had heard about on the show. Upon being seated I asked our waitress for it right away. Her response, "If it's ready." Ok.....I wasn't sure what that meant, especially when about 5 minutes later a table near us got a plate of it. I was craving that Spanikopta so much, but sadly it never arrived. Disappointing.

However, I recovered and enjoyed my Gyro. YUMMMMM!!!!! This is one of my favorite sandwiches ever and it was great. The Tzatziki sauce that came with it was one of the best I have tasted and I used it on my Greek salad and french fries. I couldn't get enough!

Peter had an awesome Bacon Cheese Burger (sans bacon, thank you again stellar waitress) that I wanted to eat most of as well but resisted and had only one bite.

The desserts lure you in as you are shown to your table. Huge cakes and pies call your name!
Peter enjoyed a massive slice of carrot cake and I had the chocolate cream pie. Both were scrumptious but the portions were way too big and sadly we could not finish them.

I highly recommend checking out the Marietta Diner (hopefully you get a better waitress). They are open 24 hours a day and the menu was fantastic! It really was hard to decide what to eat. The breakfast plates that went by our table looked especially good, I think I will try that next time we go back.