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Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Cats Will Play

Our cat has her own bowl of toys (yes, I am one of those geeks who talks about their cat as if it was their child).  Most of the toys belonged to her predecessors, Otis & Stewart.  They each had their favorite toys.  Otis' favorite was a purple plush seal (at least that's what the Man says it is) that came to him in one of those cheapie net Christmas stockings you can buy at the pet shop or the drug store.  Otis immediately latched onto that toy, dispatched it's ears and tail, leaving only the tiny pom-pom nose and fought and kicked and played with it at length.

Stewart liked a little cloth toy that was sewed into a square shape and had printing on it which declared it irresistible to cats.  He preferred this toy above all others.  He would clutch it and lick it and rub his neck against it until his fur was slick and slimy.  It was quite disgusting, yet fun to watch.

Elsie (current cat) ignored those toys but has selected her own favorites.  We did not realize she even liked toys until we decided to clean up.  We placed all the toys in a beautiful hand thrown pottery bowl my sister-in-law had made for us (one for me, one for him) one Christmas.  The bowl was placed on a table in the living room, out of the way.  One day, soon after, the bowl was placed on the floor by the table for some reason and was forgotten there.

A few days later we were amused to see Elsie trot over to the bowl and begin pawing through it, looking not unlike a lady sorting through the items on the clearance table in Goldblatt's basement.

She pulled out a few toys and gave each a preliminary toss and lick.  Finally she found her favorite - a nasty little square of green cloth on one side and green fur on the other, stuffed fat and presumably loaded with catnip.  This is her toy.  She treats it much as Stewart treated his little cloth sack but thankfully does not rub against it until she resembles a drowned rat.  She is much too demure and lady like for such behavior.  But each time we put the toy back in her bowl, it is the one she always retrieves when she decides it's time to play on her own.

Of necessity, the bowl remains on the floor, in easy reach.

Quotable quotes; in the category Yes I Have Preferences But I'm Still Open Minded.

"Anything on the ground is a cat toy. Anything not there yet, will be."  Anonymous

Monday, October 29, 2012

Bento Bag

You may have read my posts about bento.  Or not.

I have amassed quite a collection of bento boxes and accessories - little sauce bottles, chop sticks and shaker jars, and an impressive library of bento recipes and books.  But I never had a bag for my bento that I was truly happy with.  Until now.

I found this tutorial for a wonderfully darling and authentic bento bag and decided I had to make one of my own. 

I noticed from viewing the pictures others had posted of their finished bento bags they all seemed to use carefully coordinated fabrics.  I chose instead to use up scraps of fabric but I still think my bag harmonizes nicely AND the fabrics are all from special projects so they serve as a reminder of other nice things I have made for myself or as gifts for others. 

Here is my finished project.

Now, all I have to do is get back into the bento habit and be on my way!

By the way, I posted this here at madKnews instead of at It's My Food Blog because this post had more to do with crafting than with eating and besides, I needed a new post here.

Quotable Quotes; in the category Here, I'll Get The Check!

"A friend is one who takes you to lunch even if you're not tax deductible."  Anonymous

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Snail Mail?

It is getting cold.  A few nights this week we had to cover the potted plants on the porch when there were frost warnings.  I thought it best to bring the orchid back to my office window (it lived on my porch this summer as I attempted to evict the ant colony that took up residence in the bark chips in which it was planted.  I succeeded).

I brought the orchid to my office and placed it in the sink to give it a nice long drink.  When I went back to check on it I saw a little garden snail had crawled up one of the stalks.  Apparently he had moved in when the ants moved out and had been living in and dining on the plant over the summer.

I summarily plucked him from the plant and dispatched him posthaste.  He is an ex-snail.  He is no more (actually, he now lives in the soil outside my office and outside my plant - I do have a heart).

I wish I had taken a picture.  He looked kinda cute perched on the stem of the plant which, by the way appears much healthier now that he is living "alone".

Quotable quotes; in the category I Really Just Want To Get To That Plant!

"Time and patience would bring the snail to Jerusalem."  Irish Proverb

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Few Of My . . . .

I like to post "my favorite thing so far today" on my facebook page.  Usually it's something I saw or heard or maybe did or even ate.  Sometimes I get 'likes' and 'comments' on my favorite things and once I even got a comment that someone liked my "favorite thing so far today".  So I guess it's a good thing to do.

I am going to post one of my favorite things here because it is a real favorite!  There is a shop around the corner (sounds like a movie title, doesn't it) that sells produce, salads, and a few groceries.  In the past few weeks they have had potted mums on the sidewalk in front of the shop.  I wanted potted mums for my front porch so I checked them out.  Uh-uh.  Too expensive.  Their 8 inch pot went for $11 and the larger pot was $22.  I can get the 8 inch pot for 3 bucks at the local "bag yer own" grocery store.  Which is exactly what I did.  I put them in the urns on my front porch and they look great, in my humble opinion.

But yesterday that shop had a couple of additions, namely a deep purple mum (the large size) in a neon lime green metal tub.  I tell you, it knocked me out!  I went by again today to take a picture.  I wanted to wait until the mums were in full bloom but this thing is so gorgeous I was afraid somebody would buy it first.  Here it is!  Isn't it awesome?  Wow, dude, I can hear the colors!

So this is my favorite thing so far today.  What's yours?

Quotable quotes; in the category Simple Pleasures Are Best!

"Brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favorite things."  Oscar Hammerstein from The Sound of Music

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Keep On Keepin' On!

Some time ago I re-read (and blogged about) The Catcher In The Rye.  A few months ago I read (for the first time in my life) To Kill A Mockingbird.  And I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Recently a friend and I decided we would read Atlas Shrugged together.  I checked it out of the library and got about 60 pages in (it's 1168 pages long) before I had to return it - this after renewing it not once but twice.  Good book but long, slow read.  I will try again.

In the interim I have begun reading this little gem.  I first saw this book in a remainders catalog and it looked interesting.  Luckily the library had it and I started reading it last night. 

It is the story of a man who decided his sheltie dog "Carmen" needed something to do so he began agility training sessions with her.  If you don't know, this is a sort of obstacle course run by the dog with instructions and signals from its owner/trainer.

At one meet Carmen suddenly refuses to make one of the jumps.  It turns out she had developed hip dysplasia.  Carmen was retired - but the bug had bitten.  The book is the account of his efforts to find and train a new agility dog and he apparently finds the world's least likely candidate in Dusty, a rescue dog.

I've only just begun (the book, not the song) but it seems the dog and its owner have a rocky road ahead of them - but there is most likely a pot of doggie-love gold at the end of the rainbow.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

Quotable quotes; in the category If Everybody Adopted A Dog Unemployment Would Cease To Exist!

"Scratch a dog and you'll find a permanent job."  Franklin P. Jones, American Journalist

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mom, I'm Bored!

Those words signal the start of summer vacation, time off from school, long lazy days of lemonade, hammocks, days at the beach, and afternoons with nothing to do.

When we were kids we hardly dared to utter the phrase, knowing only too well what horror would ensue. We were sure to be told we could clean our rooms, mow the grass, pull weeds or shovel out the garage. We knew we would never be invited to take ourselves swimming or to the movies (even if we had the fifty-cents admission, our folks were not always keen on the summer showings at the Washington or the Main).

Thankfully, we had an older sister and a mom with boat loads of imagination. And if we were lucky, mom might come up with some idea that while simple and rather bland on examination, had the allure of sounding brilliant and thrilling in its initial impression.

The one I remember best was the Penny Walk. It might have been called the Penny Hike or the Penny-something-else. The name doesn't matter. The important thing is when it was the end of June and you thought you would never find anything interesting to do again, the words "Penny Hike" fired instant imaginings of thrilling possibilities.

Now to the blandness. Here's how it worked. We were given a penny, told to walk to the first corner and toss the coin. If it came up heads, turn left - tails, turn right. At the next corner, repeat the process.

Sounds great, right? And in the 1960s when kids were allowed to be away from the house all afternoon, as long as they stayed out of trouble and reported home in time for supper, a great way to occupy a long day with nothing to do. Trouble was, we were never sure what counted as a real "corner". The first one was easy. But soon enough came a time we had to cross the street and we found ourselves on - you guessed it - another corner. Or was it another corner? Were we supposed to toss the coin again right away, or continue on to the end of that block? There was too much room for argument. And for rule bending.

Too soon we started adapting what had been a truly simple concept. What if the coin landed on the grass instead of the sidewalk? What if it landed on an angle, say in the crack between the sidewalk and the grass? I tell you, bored kids could complicate a great idea in no time flat. And inevitably, the worst happened.

After the first couple blocks, we started to catch on that we were really just walking up and down the street (or at best, around the block). What kind of game was that? We could walk around the block any time. This was no fun, it was just a trick to get us to . . . . . light always did dawn slowly for Brents, or at least for me.

But wasn't my mom brilliant? I told you she was! For the cost of a penny, the hundredth part of a dollar, a slim shiny sliver of copper, she had us out of the house and out of her hair for - well - if not an afternoon, at least as long as it took us to get halfway down the block. And to the mom of six unruly kids, that was enough time for her own personal trip to heaven - or at least for a blissful 20 minutes of kid-free time to herself.

You gotta lover 'er. She sure knew what she was doing. And if you're lucky, I'll tell you about my sister sometime.

Quotable Quotes; In the category Yeah, And We All Know Who Invented The Internet, Too, Don't We???!!!

"If a June night could talk, it would probably boast it invented romance." Bern Williams

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I Think I Know

Oprah had her magazine column "What I Know For Sure".  It turns out a lot of other people also post lists of things they know for sure. 

I thought I might want to list some things of which I am sure, but I am never quite sure if we actually know anything for sure so I am calling this "Things I Am Pretty Sure Are Probably True".  If I was including only things that had happened directly to me I might say I know for sure but just in case, I am pretty sure.  So here are some things I am pretty sure I know are almost absolutely true.

Things I Am Pretty Sure Are Probably True

When it's in the 90s for four days in a row people get hot and people get mad.

Just because your mom could cut her own hair does not mean you can too.

If you cut your thumb with scissors it will hurt and it will bleed.  A lot!

Hair grows back.

Professional hair stylists can fix just about anything you can do to your hair.

And from other sources, always remember these simple rules to live by.

Hot coffee is HOT!
Wild animals are WILD!
Killer whales KILL!

And if something seems too good to be true there is a good chance that it's neither good nor that it's true.

Quotable quotes; in the category Sure, It May Not Be True But Why Take Chances?

"Don’t ever buy a sandwich from a vending machine. Ever."  Kate Bartolotta on her blog Elephant Journal.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Homecoming

Bill comes home this weekend.  He had knee replacement surgery and has been away since May 7 for recovery and for physical therapy at an inpatient place.  I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to having him home again.

My biggest challenge was making sure there were clear paths through doorways and hallways so he can move around on his own without fear of bumping into something.  Okay, the BIGGEST challenge was finding a place to put all the stuff I had to move to clear the paths.  Y'see, we are kinda packrats.

I have looked on this as a learning experience and an opportunity to purge a lot of stuff that made me wonder why I bought it in the first place, as I removed it from its box, examined it and placed it in the give-away pile.  There is a trip to the used book store in my near future.

The next challenge will be finding things to keep Bill busy as he recuperates at home (and continues physical therapy with an in-home caregiver).  TV is out of the question.  His roommate had the TV on all day and all night and seemed to watch nothing but Cheaters and Law & Order marathons.

Maybe I can give him a new box each day to be sorted into "give away", "throw away" and "just get it out of here, I don't care how".

And we wonder what the cat will do.  She has not seen him for nearly three weeks.  She will either cuddle up immediately or treat him aloofly, as she has me most of this time (except when she was desperate for ear scratching).

Quotable Quotes; in the category It's A Good Thing She Was Here Even If He Was Not!

"One small cat changes coming home to an empty house to coming home."  Pam Brown

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Knit Wit

Mom taught me to knit when I was about 6 years old.  I think.  I may have been older.  I only remember I wanted to knit and begged her to show me how.

Money always being on short supply, there was no trip to the yarn shop for supplies.  Instead, mom scrounged a pair of knitting needles from somewhere and took apart a kitschy doll made of rug yarn.  Such things were (I guess) popular at the time.  In my memory this doll was an octopus made of pink yarn.  A ball of yarn, or perhaps Styrofoam, made the head, the yarn, tied in the center, covered the ball.  The yarn was all gathered together at the "neck" then separated and braided to make the legs.

Mom snipped all the ties and we painstakingly un-braided that doll.  The task of tying those hundreds of short lengths of yarn together to wind into a ball was left to me.  This falls under the heading of "false economy".  It is virtually impossible to knit anything when a giant knot interrupts your scanty progress and your failing concentration every few stitches.  Still I must have persevered because I knit fairly prolifically today.

When I was about 13 I wanted to knit a sweater.  I knew how to knit, didn't I?  No reason not to tackle such a project.  Luckily, our neighbor was an avid knitter and was willing to offer assistance, advice and impromptu lessons when necessary.  She taught me to purl, to read a pattern and the basics of garment construction.  In my recollection the sweater was out of style by the time I finished.  I don't recall ever wearing it.

Anyone who knits knows there are countless tool, supplies and doodads available.  Stitch markers, point protectors, row counters, stitch holders, gauges and needle pouches.  If someone can think it up someone will make it and others will buy it.  I never went in much for these gadgets.  Needles and yarn were my basic tools with an occasional stitch holder (think large safety pin without the point) thrown in.  If I needed a stitch marker I tied a scrap of yarn into a loop.  If I needed to count rows I marked them on a scrap of paper and crossed them out as they were done.  I did not believe in spending money unnecessarily.  If a rubber band would serve as a needle holder, well, it was free!

Lately, there has been a resurgence in the popularity of knitting and, consequently, a spate of newly designed or improved knitting supplies.  Recently, a local store had a sale on knitting items.  I stopped in to check and was surprised to find the prices almost ridiculously low.  An item that might cost $3 retail was on sale for 99 cents - and not for one, for a whole packet full.  I splurged, spending maybe $5 and outfitting myself with a wardrobe of plastic stitch markers, little row counters, gauge testers and needle sizers.

These days, as I knit, I find myself reflecting on those early days and my wealth of tools today and I understand why so many knitters use them - - - they're FUN!

Quotable Quotes; in the category Practice Makes Perfect!

“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either.”

Elizabeth Zimmermann; Prolific knitter, author and television knitting host, and all around knitting guru of generations of knitters.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It's A Sin

I recently read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  I had never read this book and had sometimes felt I should.  I am glad I did.  I don't think I have ever seen the movie all the way through, either, but what bits of the movie I remember prove that the director clearly knew what he was doing, and the casting of the characters was spot on.

As always, the book delivers much more depth and insight than the movie can but I really think they got it right.  I also think Harper Lee knew exactly what she was doing.

If you have not read this book I urge you to do so now.  An excellent read.

Quotable Quotes; in the category Oh, So That's Why . . .

"Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy... but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

Harper Lee, "To Kill a Mockingbird"

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Come See About Me

It seems my blog has started to become "food heavy".  Nothing wrong with that, but I thought it would be helpful to have a blog dedicated to food with a food-centric name so it might be easier to find.

I'll tell you was was NOT easy, finding a name for a food blog that was not already in use.  Well I finally found one and it should be up and running.  I hope you'll stop by and visit, comment and tell your friends!

Find my food blog here and let me know what you think.

By the way, don't stop visiting madKnews - I'll be keeping it up too, as well as I can.  Thanks and say hi for me!

Quotable Quotes; in the category Let's See, Milk, Bread, Eggs, What Else Do I Need?

"A blog is merely a tool that lets you do anything from change the world to share your shopping list."  Anonymous

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

You Say Tomato!

I love a BLT sandwich.  If I make a batch of bacon I will make BLTs until the bacon is gone.  Once when I did this I realized I still had lettuce and tomatoes leftover and I still wanted a sandwich.  I decided to try it without the bacon - an LT if you will.  It was delicious.  My taste buds were so conditioned to taste bacon when eating toast with mayo, lettuce and tomato that I almost believed my sandwich contained bacon.

But whoever heard of a Tomato Sandwich?  Well, if you have read Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh you know all about them.  A Tomato Sandwich was the only thing Harriet ate for lunch all through grade school.  No matter what was suggested for lunch the answer was always the same.  "Tomato".

A tomato sandwich is tasty.  A tomato sandwich with lettuce and mayonnaise is tasty too.  A tomato sandwich with mayonnaise and lettuce on toast is one step away from a BLT both in ingredients and in deliciousness factor.

Next time you crave a BLT and don't have any bacon handy, make some toast, slice a tomato and wash & dry some lettuce.  Spread the toast with mayo and top with your fixings.  Note:  I almost always have to eat this over the sink if the tomatoes are juicy.

BLT memories - at work, if there was any bacon left over from breakfast, the lunch ladies would move it to the sandwich station to make BLT sandwiches until the bacon ran out.  One day, there was bacon and I ordered a BLT.  The lunch lady took pride in fanning the lettuce "just so" and layering the tomato artfully upon it.  She spread my toast with mayo, laid on the fan of L & T then held up 7 slices of bacon.  She put three on my sandwich, then another, then pondered the three remaining slices.  After a few seconds she shrugged and put all of them on my sandwich.  Fair is fair, right?

Quotable Quotes; in the category You Thought I Was Going With Homer Simpson, Didn't You?

"I unfortunately still crave chicken McNuggets and bacon, which is the meat candy of the world."
Katy Perry

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Welcome In!

That is what the waitress told us the name of the restaurant means.  We stopped at Hala In yesterday for the first time.  This small storefront opened 2 years ago and we discovered the neighborhood mail coupon, about to expire, in a stack of old mail, so we set off to see if we might find a new favorite Mediterranean restaurant close to home.

Hala In is small - just 9 tables (some pushed together to make tables for 8).  Decor is simple, service fast and friendly and the food excellent.  The menu ranges from a vegetarian combo for $7 to chicken, beef and lamb dishes and combos ranging from $7 to $15.

Whatever you choose to order, start with a small dish of superlative hummus for less than $2 (a larger portion is also available).  The hummus was creamy, smooth and perfectly seasoned with a pool of lemony olive oil in the center and generous pinches of spices adorning the rim.  The pita was so hot we had to let it cool before tearing off a piece for dipping.

My vegetarian combo consisted of more of that wonderful hummus and equally delicious baba ghanouj, creamy and mild with a smoky kick.  Taboule chock full of parsley, felafel and stuffed grape leaves (2 each) rounded out the platter.

Mr. ordered the Combo Plate ($10).  Pieces of beef kabob, kifta kabob and chicken kabob with a mound of chicken shawerma topped with slivered onion and ground sumac.  I tasted everything and everything was delicious, especially the perfectly cooked rice pilaf.  The combo came with a small salad of romaine lettuce, tomato, cucumber and onion with a light vinaigrette.  Just right.

Fearful that Mr. might not have enough to eat we opted for an extra hummus just to be sure.  We needn't have bothered.  We were both full beyond comfort but I still insisted on finishing every grain of rice, it was that good.

With our coupon the bill ran to $15.  Without we would have had trouble topping it out at $20.  The restaurant does not have a web site but you can order online at Halainrestaurant@yahoo.com.

Quotable quotes; in the category I can see how they're both important!

"Food is an important part of a balanced diet."  Fran Lebowitz

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Breakfast in the Strata-sphere?

The first time I saw a recipe for a breakfast strata I did not know what it was.  I read the recipe and it sounded awful.  Then I attended a brunch where this dish was served.  To my eye, unused to dishes of the casserole variety, it did not look much better than it sounded.  Alas, this was the kind of event where not tasting the dish would have been a big mistake.  Not to worry, I knew my manners and I also knew I could survive anything - even a deplorable breakfast dish.  I only needed to eat a bite or two and it would all be over.  I was so wrong.

The first bite let me know that I had been missing something.  My mom did not cook this way and for good reason - my dad did not like it.  But every so often we learn something new.  And when it is a delightful and delicious new recipe, I say let the knowledge begin!!!

Since then I have tasted many versions of this dish, one which included bacon, ham AND sausage!  Sort of a meat-lover's-pizza answer to the age old question "what's for breakfast".

I have been "pantry shopping" lately.  This means that my fridge, freezer and pantry are filled to overflowing with food that has to be eaten before it has to be thrown away.  The next item in the freezer (read the one I can reach and remove without causing an avalanche) is a package of breakfast sausage links.  This one is a no-brainer.  Who doesn't love breakfast for supper? 

I will cook all the sausage.  The first night's supper will be sausage and pancakes.  The rest of the sausage will be made into a strata to be cooked for supper (or breakfast even!) the next day.  Bonus Points!  Not only do I gain another inch of freezer space, Bill will be in sausage heaven (he's the meat lover mentioned previously) AND he loves this particular dish.  Here's how I make it.

Breakfast strata is essentially a dish that uses stale bread and any leftover meats or vegetables that taste good when baked with cheese.  Think quiche.  Think savory bread pudding.  I generally use a proportion of eggs to milk to cheese when cooking dishes like this.  That way I don't need to consult a recipe and I can use up whatever quantity of leftovers I have on hand.

A good proportion is about 1 egg per 1/4 cup of milk, 1 slice bread, 1/4 cup meats and 2 oz. shredded cheese.  Amounts will depend on how much of any ingredient you have to work with and how many you have to serve.  I usually make smaller portions to serve the two of us.  Easy and quick.

I like to cut the bread into roughly 1 inch cubes and spread them on a baking sheet in the oven for a few hours, either with the pilot light on or turned to a very low 150 degrees f.  Beat eggs and milk together in a  bowl (use half and half or a mixture of milk and cream if that is what you have).  Beat in seasonings like pepper, nutmeg, cayenne pepper for a little heat and maybe some dried thyme.  Go easy on the salt, especially if using salty meats.

Layer the dried bread in a buttered casserole of an appropriate size, again based on how much you are making, and scatter the meats cut into pieces over the bread.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese and pour the custard over.  If you wish you can saute onion and mushroom and/or scatter over some leftover vegetables.  Cooked broccoli or asparagus would be especially good - or make a vegetarian version with some cooked spinach, red and yellow peppers, and any other vegetables you like.  I would not complain if there was corn in there too. 

Allow the strata to stand overnight (for breakfast) or several hours (if it's for supper) then bake in a preheated 350 oven for about 35 minutes, covered with foil.  Remove the foil and bake 15 minutes longer to brown the top.  Don't forget to scatter a little extra shredded cheese over the top before you put it in the oven.  This insures a brown and crusty top.

The lovely thing about this dish (and quiche, and bread pudding) is that it puffs up dramatically in the oven and rises above the rim of the baking dish, not unlike a souffle.  Unfortunately it deflates quickly but this in no way diminishes its deliciousness.  All that's left now is to dig in!

If serving this for breakfast you will likely have a basket of muffins, a bowl of fruit and some butter and jam to go with it.  Mimosas would NOT be out of place.  For supper you might like to serve a green salad, some marinated vegetables, steamed broccoli or green beans along side.

Quotable quotes; in the category If Breakfast Is Good For Supper Then What 's Up With This?  A Guy With A Name Like That Ought To Know Better!

"Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper."  Francis Bacon.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Something Fishy Going On!

If you are like me you don't really like fish.  I know, we are supposed to eat it for the Omega 3 fatty acids etc. etc. etc.  But years of fish on Friday kinda did it for me.  Dad loved fish.  Anyone who knows what Finnin Haddie is, raise your hand.  As far as I know it's smoked cod.  Anyone who LIKES Finnin Haddie, raise your hand.  Nobody?  Not surprised.

Sometimes mom would order fried cod dinners (read fish & chips) from a local take out place.  I loved it.  Dad would get the shrimp dinner.  Who cared, I loved that fried cod.  Anybody who does NOT like fried fish raise your hand.

Sometimes mom would buy us little mini pizzas from the A&P.  The cheese version came six to a pack.  Pepperoni was the same price but you onlyl got five.  Five or six little 4 inch pizzas - who could say no?  Being Friday we usually had the cheese pizzas (yay) but other times we got the pepperoni (double yay).  But I started out to discuss fish, not pizza. 

If we did not get the pizzas or the cod dinner mom might make us meatless chop suey (from the can) or something else.  On those days dad got trout and green beans cooked in butter with almonds.  I am not quite sure if this was actually "Trout Amandine" but that's what it seemed like.  Here's how she did it.

If your grocery store has live trout swimming around you might like to try those.  Otherwise buy the whole trout that have been cleaned for you.  Heat some butter in a skillet large enough to hold the trout.  Season the fish inside and out with salt and pepper and roll them in a little flour, shaking off the excess.  Place the fish in the skillet and cook them about 5 - 6 minutes per side until they are golden and done.  Remove them to a warm plate and hold them in the oven on low heat.

Meanwhile, bring a pan of salted water to a boil and blanch the green beans just until tender crisp.  You may wish to finish them in the same pan as the fish, or in their own pan.  Melt a little more butter and roll the beans around until they are coated and cooked through.  Remove and add a handful of slivered almonds, stirring until they are toasted.  Serve the trout with a side of beans and garnish the plate with the toasted almonds and a few wedges of lemon.

If you are not keen on eating a whole fish then look for frozen fillets.  They are easy to fix and the tilapia is quite mild tasting.  The ones I buy are often on sale for a dollar for each 4 oz. package, vacuum sealed and pre-frozen.  A package of tilapia makes a generous serving per person.

Season the fillets, still frozen, while you heat a little olive oil in a non-stick skillet.  Dust the fish lightly with flour, patting off the excess.  Place the fish in the skillet and cook about 5 - 6 minutes.  Turn carefully using two spatulas and cook the other side.  Add a nice pat of butter to the pan and allow it to melt, swirling the pan gently so the butter slides under the fish.  Place the skillet in a warm oven while you finish your side dishes. 

Try the green beans above or try a handful of asparagus or broccoli with a little olive oil and/or butter, salt and pepper and a pinch of hot pepper flakes.  Cook over medium heat until the vegetables are done and maybe have a little sear on them (almonds optional).  Tasty!

Pilaf would go nicely with this.  Melt some butter in a sauce pan and saute some diced onion, then add about 3/4 cup rice and 1/2 cup thin egg noodles or broken vermicelli.  Stir until toasted.  Add about 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (or water with a bullion cube) and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook about 15 minutes until the rice is tender and liquid absorbed.  Remove from heat, lay a kitchen towel over the top of the pot and replace the lid over the towel.  Allow to steam about 5 minutes to finish.  (Or open a box of Rice-A-Roni and follow package directions).

Do the rice first and by the time the fish and asparagus are done the rice will be done, too.  I enjoyed the tilapia fixed this way and would also try this with the frozen flounder or sole fillets.  Squeeze a lemon wedge over the fish and serve.  Be sure to get all the melted butter out of the pan and onto your fish!

Happy Valentine's day and good health to you.

Quotable Quotes; in the category I've Heard Of Odd Couples But This Is Ridiculous!

"A fish may love a bird, but where would they live?"
Drew Barrymore

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Not Much To Say

In the past few weeks I have started numerous new posts only to abandon them.  I don't  know what's wrong but it seems for once I have little to say.  So here are just a few items, not necessarily of interest.

One day a few weeks ago I was driving through my alley on the way to work.  An animal was crouched in the middle several feet ahead of me.  It did not run away so I slowed down.  I saw it was a hawk and boy did he seem annoyed at my being there.  He had killed a pigeon.  After looking around he grabbed it and flew off, no doubt to eat his breakfast in peace.  As cartoonist Gary Larsen observed, birds of prey know they're cool.

It snowed a few weeks ago.  As we came around the curve near the Forest Preserve by our house we noticed some cars parked at the side of the road (where there are usually no cars) and footprints leading into the woods.  Many deer were standing just a few feet from the road.  We often see deer at this location but usually only a few.  This time I think we counted 17.  It looked like a convention and the key note speaker was about to arrive.  We figured someone was taking their dog for a walk or perhaps sledding down the hill and the deer had gathered here to be away from them.  I know that's what I would do!

We have been keeping a bird feeder loaded with Niger thistle seed for the little finches for the past year or so.  Now whenever it gets low they let us know with calls and chirps.  And when it's full they feast on it like cats on a can of tuna.  What they spill on the ground is eaten by juncos and doves.  Everybody's happy.

Bill has reported seeing foxes and coyotes in the area where we usually see deer.  It amazes me that we live in a heavily populated metropolis and yet nature puts on her glorious show practically in our back yard!  If all the neighbors did not have barking dogs we might get a back yard preview as well.

Quotable Quotes; in the category But Then What Would We Put In Our Martinis?

"A lot of people like snow.  I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water."  Carl Reiner