Saturday, February 27, 2010

More Jamie Oliver (because ABC will have a special with him soon).

I'd already posted Jamie's presentation at TED, but it seems he's to have a series premier on ABC March 26.

Here's a sneak preview:

I wonder how many US adults could answer his questions.

h/t Crunchy Chicken.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Freezing Kale.

Yesterday we visited No. 1 and Astrid, so picked up some produce at Fiesta, which is near her house. Fiesta produce is always fresher looking than other groceries and most foods aren't in packages, so I can bring home just what I need with no packaging to discard. The girl who bagged our groceries was obviously sick, so I put everything I bought in a sink full of water with a little bleach, rinsed it off and let it sit on the counter to dry. Also still on the counter was that bowl of kale I'd picked before the snowstorm that never came, so today I'm committed to doing something with all this food.

This morning I tackled the kale. I'd read yesterday instructions on freezing it at Not Martha. It looked straightforward enough, so I got out all the things I'd need and went to it.

Some people cut and some people rip, and I cut some and ripped some. I didn't save the stems for anything, although some people eat them. Some people eat broccoli stems, too, but we're not hungry enough for that yet, either. They feed the dirt in my gardens just like asparagus stems.

First step after cutting is the blanch. Some people don't blanch, but I'm new at this, so I did.



Following Not Martha's instructions, I took each batch of kale from the salad spinner to the towel.


Once all the kale is processed and on the towel, the towel gets rolled tight and squeezed to remove as much moisture as possible. My largest bowl was the perfect amount to fit on the towel after processing.


The kale is then transferred to a baking sheet (covered with parchment so there's no sticking) and put into a freezer for 30 minutes.


We got 3 quart freezer bags of kale from this batch. Each bag will be more than enough for the two of us at one meal. Takes the guesswork out of it for me, as the kale is already cooked down from the blanch.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Copycat White Castle Cheeseburgers, among other things.

No. 1 and Dave came for supper Sunday night with Astrid. I cooked up a pork loin I'd had in the freezer since 2007 - [Em and I defrosted, reinventoried and reorganized both the garage freezer and refrigerator freezer last Saturday.] I used THIS RECIPE with changes based on reviews and we really enjoyed the meal. Em and I had leftovers yesterday. Here's "Poppy" with Astrid from that evening. No. 1 had an absessed tooth and looked like she had a tennis ball in one side of her mouth, so we didn't take photos of her or Dave; details below.

Photobucket Spent a fair amount of time cooking yesterday. Made a stovetop pea-soup for starters. No. 1 had a molar that my dentist had "fixed" which absessed so badly that she had to have the tooth pulled yesterday. I can't save her tooth from the dentist I recommended (who I'm not going to use again, either), but I could make her some soup to eat while that side of her mouth heals.


We'll drop it by today or tomorrow. It's currently snowing, so I'm not sure we'll venture out today, but anticipation of snow encouraged me to cut a big bunch of kale yesterday.


I didn't cut all of it, but more than I could fit into the largest bowl I have.

Maybe it was because No. 1 and Dave ate some White Castle Cheeseburgers for lunch that Em had bought when they stopped by earlier in the day Sunday, but when Super-bowl bites came to my attention, I wanted to give it a try, so took out a pound of lean angus chuck to defrost in the morning. Having read that King's Hawaiian Savory Butter rolls worked really well for buns on the "sliders", we bought a package of 12 on our morning shopping trip.

We only needed 1/2 lb of chuck for 12 sliders, so I found a recipe for a spicy meatloaf that would accommodate the second half of ground beef plus the 1/2 lb sausage leftover from last week's pizza.

The meatloaf was really easy to make. Usually, I throw all kinds of veggies into it, but I had other things on my mind, so made it as stated, wherever it was. We haven't tasted it yet; that's for tonight's supper. We had some leftovers from that pork meal for supper last night.

Most interesting of the meals made, IMO, was the White Castle Cheeseburger copycats.

I used the method of one reviewer and first laid out the 1/2 lb beef chuck mixed with 1/4 pkg of Lipton onion soup mix, a handful of shredded cheese [I think I used a Mexican blend, but I don't think it makes a difference] into a 6x8" rectangle.


This rectangle was cut into 2" pieces with a pizza cutter and placed into a 9x13 glass baking dish which went into a 350 degree oven for 17 minutes.


While they were baking, I sliced open the Hawaiian rolls, took three slices of Kroger American cheese and cut them into 4 parts each. Cut myself slicing the rolls, and used the pizza cutter to cut the cheese. My aim wasn't very good in either task.


Once the patties had cooked, I took a paper towel [gasp!] and wiped out excess oil from the glass pan [not much from lean Angus chuck] and put the completed buns into the same pan, covering it with tin-foil before putting back into the oven for another 13 minutes.


Last step was to let them cool for a few minutes, wrap two into a paper towel for nuking after freezing (just like the real version) and putting into a freezer bag. 12 fit nicely into one gallon bag. We had to taste one first, so this batch only has 10. "Close enough!", we both said. Next step will be to duplicate the taste of King's Hawaiian Savory Butter Rolls.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dealing with food waste; when life throws you carrots, make carrot-raisin salad and carrot-cake.

This month has been designated by the Crunchy Chicken the month of the Food Waste Reduction Challenge. Notice the badge on the sidebar?

I always have the best intentions of incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables into our diet, buy them on sale, and then ... mostly what happens is that Em cooks supper several days in a row and I forget all about the food I'd bought that's been sitting in the refrigerator for ... well, for example, No. 2 flew down to attend No. 1's wedding shower in April of 2009 (last Spring) and I bought some spinach/artichoke dip for her to eat while here. She's a vegetarian and I wanted to be sure to have something besides peanut butter/jelly sandwiches in case she got hungry ... except she preferred peanut butter/jelly sandwiches to that dip and we just got around to eating it this week. No kidding.

I found a ball of homemade pizza dough on the freezer door and a container of that hot pork sausage that Em likes on his pizza. I didn't have any bell peppers or onions, though, and I like my pizza to have SOME vegetables. We had a 2-lb bag of carrots that I think I was gonna use for the baby shower last month, but Dave's mom made so many food dishes that whatever carrot dish I was gonna make got changed into something else that filled the few gaps left ... so I asked Em if he'd like carrots on his pizza. His face contorted into what I took to be a "NO!", so I thought, "Well, that dip has spinach and artichokes in it at least" and spread it onto the pizza dough. Worst thing that could happen was food poisoning, right?


Em had made spaghetti (with no veggies) the night before, and there was some sauce with ground beef left, so I put that on next.


Rest was pretty standard fresh ingredients and the pizza was quite good although it stuck to the pan a bit (which had more to do with not enough oil on the pan than old ingredients).

We both woke up the next morning feeling fine, so NO food poisoning! Makes me wonder if that dip was actually a food or more like a twinkie.

So, Diane was blogging about making a carrot cake and I thought, "I wonder if they use any carrots?" and it turned out they did and Em likes carrot cake (oh happy day), so I looked around for some recipes that didn't involve 12 cups of sugar, and found some capable of being tweaked to lesser amounts without losing the taste or using artificial sweeteners. I had a plan for the carrots.

The next day, Em said, "So, you want to get rid of those carrots?" Thinking he'd found a new public dumpster, I said, "I want to USE the carrots." He said that his very favorite salad is carrot-raisin if I could find a recipe for that on the web. With Google as my friend, I was able to make





and Em liked BOTH very much.

Tomorrow I see what I can do with apples and cantaloupe on their last legs.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Punk Gardening Tips (or how to make biodegradable pots for zero dollars).

The video from which I got this idea made smaller pots using half a roll, but either way seems like a good idea to me.

I'm sending some of my friends/family up north a few starts this year, the weather here is 63 today, and I found myself starting to make some of these "pots" today. Em is SO grateful! I think I've told you how he just can't stand how I save things for no apparent reason and ... empty toilet paper rolls???

The half rolls get cut about 1/2" on 4 sides and don't quite hold the square shape of those in the video, but I was going for them to keep their round shape anyway. I'm NOT handy, so my pots came out looking like they were cut from the hands of a non-handy person with some even requiring a tad of tape to cover the hole from my inability disorder, but the whole point is to make quick, cheap, makeshift, biodegradable pots, so they made the cut.


I lined the shipping box with bubble-wrap to keep the box from getting wet when I water the starts that I put in the little makeshift pots. What? You don't have a closet full of boxes and bubble-wrap? Em would be so proud of you.

Saving pop-tops for No. 2's Theatre class, too.

They're good for extra credit. Not sure when they need to be sent, but I'm hoping it's soon, because between the toilet paper rolls and the pop-tops being saved, Em's fairly sure I'll be on one of those TV reality shows soon.


That difference in color on the TP rolls in the final product is the difference between cottonelle (which always seemed to have coupons) and Angel Soft (now my preferred TP even over Charmin). We don't use recycled TP ... YET.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Thrifttown has 30% off sale for Presidents Day and new grandmother goes WILD!

Remember this little girl?

Today, I spent $37 on stuff for her (and ME) at Thrifttown.

The place totally rules, IMO. Went abolutely CRAZY over the cuteness of it all. Em said that was "normal" grandmother. I'm not totally convinced, yet wouldn't be able to point to one item that could go back if asked.



Friday, February 12, 2010

Obesity makes US unhealthiest country in world.

We need to teach our children to eat healthier, but how can we if we don't know how to eat ourselves?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

North Texas Snow Storm breaking records AGAIN!

It's been snowing for 14 hours straight ... that heavy, wet stuff. Gonna freeze overnight, so roads will be hazardous tomorrow. We don't have things like snow shovels or snow boots. We don't even wear coats but maybe 3 times/year. This much snow is a BIG deal here ... almost right up there with first grandchild.

I left my camera at No. 1's this week, but you can see a bunch of photos here.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Introducing Astrid Piper Blue.


Born February 7, 2010 6:22 pm. 6 lbs, 10 oz. 20 inches long.

Peach fuzz blonde hair, blue eyes; cute as a button.




Sunday, February 07, 2010

Looks like we could have a new baby later today.

No. 1 called at like 3:30am. Her contractions were getting closer together and they were waiting until they got even closer to go to the hospital.

They went to the hospital, but her dilation hadn't progressed beyond 2cm, so I think they'll be sending them home again. Papa Blue will let me know what to do when he knows what to do. Right now he's thinking I can relieve him long enough for him to get a nap. Maybe it's time for a boggle game with the preggo.