31 January 2011

Monday Musings: "Weathergasms", Walt Disney World, and The Joy of Finding The Perfect Pillow.

At work we have been using the term "weathergasm" to describe the local, and now national, meteorologists reaction to even the slightest chance of severe weather.  The most recent occurrence started yesterday with the announcement of “....... A HISTORIC BLIZZARD CAPABLE OF  PARALYZING PARTS OF SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN...WHITEOUT CONDITIONS AND DRIFTS OF 5 TO 10 FEET POSSIBLE." (taken from Bill's Blog, WOODTV8).  Last time there was this much excitement we got very little snow.  I seems to have gotten worse this year with a "winter weather advisory" every time we even get a chance of snow, with snippets telling us to be "cautious while driving".  Well DUH!  It is winter and it is Michigan.  I found that TV8 seems to be the worst local news, in this regards.  I won't even watch them anymore because of their over sensationalizing of every news item, not just the weather.  I just want the media to be straight forward and give me the facts.  Enough with the hype!.


On another note,  only 11 days until we are in sunny Florida.  I can't wait.  We re-watched our Disney planning video this weekend..  I know this is really cheesy but I get tears in my eyes thinking about what Renee's reaction is going to be when she first sees Walt Disney World.  When she was 3-years-old, I took her to see the Wiggles in concert.  I cried when they came out on stage.  Not because of seeing them, but because of the pure joy and excitement on Renee's face.  Seeing her so elated made me cry.  I am sure I will bawl like a baby when we see Cinderella's Castle. 






Please disregard the mess!!  This room is still under construction.  Imagine cream colored cork flooring and natural pine trim.



DH and I went shopping at the mall on Saturday.  This is something we rarely do.  I am happy to report that I found the perfect throw pillows for the addition!   I am so excited by this!


I also found this rug last week at Pier 1.  I hope to pick the rug up this week. 


Happy Monday!

Rug

Pillow

28 January 2011

Favorites on Friday---Teas and Other Hot Beverages.

I have decided to make my Friday posts about my favorite things.  This weeks is Teas and Other Hot Beverages.


I have not always been a tea drinker. I used to only drink it as a special treat, usally on a cold day.  I was recently told that I have borderline high blood pressure and one of the things suggested to me was to quit drinking coffee.  So, I have made a real effort to replace the 1/2 pot-of-coffee-a-day habit with teas and other hot beverages.  Here are a few of my current favorites.


Chai Maté by Café Maté (a local Grand Rapids company)
They make many flavors but my favorite is their Chai.  I also like their Mint.
Mate is an infusion of yerba mate a species of holly and has origins in Argentina among people of all ages, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, eastern Bolivia and southern and western Brazil.  It also has many health benefits. For more information on this, please see their website via the link above. This is sold in many different speciality store in GR.  I recently purchased it at Global Infusions, which is an awesome local fair-trade store.  They have a whole wall of bulk teas and spices. 

I am drinking this one this morning mixed with Oolong.
Flowering Jasmine Tea, so pretty when it opens up.









Ginger with Orange and Vanilla.  I recently fell in love with fresh ginger and have been using it all the time. This "tea" is made by simmering about an inch section of ginger sliced very thin, a clementine orange sliced, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract (or 1/2 half of a vanilla bean split and scraped). 










What are your favorite teas?

27 January 2011

Little Bit Of Spring



I really don't mind the snow and cold, really.  What gets me this time of year is the lack of color and sunshine.  Yesterday, a friend that lives in California posted some photos of some beautiful flowers.  The day before, I was looking out the window at my sleeping garden, longing for those first shoots and little narcissus buds to start poking out.  Realizing this isn't going to happen for at least 3 more months, made me really sad.  So, I had to stop at Meijer on the way home last night to pick up some green onions and while in line, I noticed the floral section.  I ended up buying this beautiful bouquet.  Every girl should buy herself flowers.  They brighten up the house and my mood. 

Dinner last night was also very spring-like.  Light and full of layers of flavor that paired very nicely with a Michigan Riesling.  Renee stayed over at the neighbors for dinner, so DH and I had a wonderful dinner alone together.


This is the first time I have ever made Rainbow Trout and it was amazing.

Asian Style Rainbow Trout with Trader Joe's Harvest Grain Blend

Make 2 servings of Harvest Grain Blend following package directions

16 oz of Wild Caught Rainbow Trout fillets
1 tbsp of sugar
4 tbsp of soy sauce
salt and pepper
4 white button mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch of green onions, biased cut (white and about 2 inches of greens)
1 tsp of minced fresh ginger
1/2 cloves of elephant garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press
2 tbsp each of canola oil and sesame oil
1 thin sliced sweet red pepper
1/4 head of napa cabbage shredded
1/4 bag of Mann's Rainbow Salad
2 tbsp of fish sauce
1/4 cup of  Rice Wine Vinegar
1/4 cup of orange juice
1 whole star anise


rub fish on flesh side with 2 tbsp of soy, sugar, and salt and pepper (just a couple of dashes)

heat oils in a large heavy skillet such as a chicken fryer
saute onions, garlic, ginger and mushrooms for about 4 minutes
add veggies, fish sauce, orange juice, rest of soy and rice wine vinegar and stir
place fish flesh side down and throw in star anise
cover and simmer for about 4 minutes and then flip the fish over and cover and simmer for an additional 4 minutes. 

layer grains, veggies and fish.  Enjoy!

25 January 2011

Farrotto (Risotto made with Farro)






2 Cups of Italian Pearled Farro
1 8 oz package of Crimini (Baby Bella) Mushrooms
1 Small Spanish Onion
2 Ribs of celery
2 tbsp of Better Than Bouillon Vegetable mixed in 4 cups of warm water to make broth
1 Can of Great Northern Beans
1 1/2 cups of baby spinach
2/3 cup of petite peas
1/2 cup of grated Grana Padano
2 tbsp of EVOO



In a heavy pan, heat EVOO and sautee onions, celery, and mushrooms until onions are tender. Deglaze pan if needed with a 1/4 of water.  Add farro and stir.  Sautee for a couple of minutes and then slowly add broth 1/4 cup at a time letting farro absorb broth before adding more.  This process can take up to 40 minutes to use all of the broth but it is what breaks down the startch and you will get a creaminess to the broth.  When you have about 1/2 cup of the broth left, add the beans, peas, and spinach.  During the last 1/4 cup of broth, check farro to see if it is done.  I should be chewy and nutty, if not soft enough, add more water, if it is done add the Grana Padano.  Serve immediately with extra Grana Padano on top if you wish.

Stevia

I have been using ground stevia leaves leaves as a sweetner since this summer.  I had a plant that I harvested the leaves from. But I am now out.

So last night I bought some Stevia In The Raw.  As far as a sugar replacement goes, I like it alot.  You do not need use as much as sugar and it is natural and 0 calories!!! 

Cabbage apple salad






I made this last night and it is really yummy.

1/2 of a head of Napa Cabbage--shredded (app 4 cups)
2 small Gala Apples cored, quatered and sliced thin
1 small onion, quatered and sliced thin (I used spanish but they are really strong, sweet or even green onions would be good)
1/4 cup of dried cranberries

Dressing
4 tsbp (1/4 cup) of White Balsalmic Vinegar
8 tsbp (1/2 cup) of Canola Oil
1 tsp of Stevia in the Raw

mix dressing together in a small bowl

mix all ingrediants together


You can add pinenuts or walnuts and/or blue cheese but I am trying to keep the calories low.

24 January 2011

Renée

Renee

Drop Box

Favorite photos


P1000347, originally uploaded by traciedawnl.
Photography is a hobby of mine.  I just posted my favorites from the past few years.  If you would like to see more, please click on the flickr feed at the top of this blog.

Renee Through The Woodpile 2


P1000363, originally uploaded by traciedawnl.
Renee looking thru the woodpile

Renee Through The Woodpile


P1000353, originally uploaded by traciedawnl.
Renee

Stump In The Sun--Drummond Island


P1010001, originally uploaded by traciedawnl.
Drummond Island

Kitty Cat Face


P1000750, originally uploaded by traciedawnl.
Renee at Water Festival Riverside Park 2008

Drummond Island


P1000992, originally uploaded by traciedawnl.
Camping at Drummond Island 2009

Kayaking on Lake Dubonnet, MI


P1060276, originally uploaded by traciedawnl.

Budding Water Lily Kayaking on Lake Dubonnet, MI


P1060279, originally uploaded by traciedawnl.

Water Lily kayaking on Lake Dubonnet, MI


P1060280, originally uploaded by traciedawnl.

Kayaking on Lake Dubonnet, MI


P1060343, originally uploaded by traciedawnl.

kayaking on Lake Dubonnet, MI

Lily pads--kayaking on Lake Dubonnet, MI


P1060380, originally uploaded by traciedawnl.

Renee telling about the fairy house Camping in Michigan Fall 2010


P1060223, originally uploaded by traciedawnl.

Moab in the morning Fall 2010


P1040588, originally uploaded by traciedawnl.

Zion National Park Fall 2010


P1040888, originally uploaded by traciedawnl.

Grand Canyon Fall 2010


P1040954, originally uploaded by traciedawnl.

Felted Fingerless gloves



Well all those sewing classes when I was younger are coming in handy.  Actually, I used to sew all the time but when I moved to the Virgin Islands, I sold my machine to a friend.  I saved my niece's from my parents, where all the kids were playing with it, quite a few months ago.  It was sitting in a corner of my bedroom until yesterday.  I dusted it off, readusted everything, made some bobbins and spent all afternoon sewing.  I forgot how much I enjoyed it.  Renee and I made 3 pairs for her friends.  I made the two above and started 4 more.  I will try and post in the next couple of days the instructions.  I am thinking of selling these, so if you are interested, let me know.


Here are some other ones that I made before Christmas.

23 January 2011

Calendar: Love & Logic



This is the calendar we made for Renee.  She has the choice to do the jobs on it but she has to suffer the consequences of not doing them.  Right now she has no time left for TV, Wii, or PC, so we will see how the morning goes.  The Love& Logic program is hard, mostly because it requires that you don't get angry when they choose to not do things. Letting go of that is very difficult but we are working on it.






It is -7 degrees today!!!  But sunny and clear and very pretty.


Time for French Toast!  Happy Sunday.

20 January 2011

Farro Risotto

I made this for Thanksgiving.  I am going to make more tonight without the squash.

Healthy Habits and destressers(is that even a word?)

In an effort to be more healthy and create a "Better Version of Me", I am trying to get more exercise.  This weekend, we went to Howard Christianson Nature Center http://kentconservation.org/hcnc.php , me snowshoeing, DD and DH skiing.  We had a blast and got to enjoy the outside. 
Enchanted Forest

There is a section called "The Enchanted ForestWe always pretend that there are fairies and dragons and they come to rescue me, The Queen. I was very sad to hear that they may be closing for good due to lack of funding. :(



I am also walking the treadmill at least 3 times a week and using Myfitnesspal.com.  It is a great way to track calories and exercise.  They even have a really cool app for my phone. 


In an effort to reduce stress in our house and have Little Miss Naughty, DD, not be so naughty, we created a system for her to earn things like TV, Wii, and PC time.  We track all the good things she does everyday on a calendar with stickers.  Following the Love & Logic program, we give her the choice of what and if she does anything.  To my surprise, it has worked wonderful!!!  So far, only a little bit of complaining and NO tantrums since we started on Sunday.  She is really enjoying seeing how much time she has accumulated.  And my house is clean!!!

10 January 2011

Follow this blog and get a chance to win a Lidia Matticchio Bastianich cookbook

http://www.amazon.com/Lidia-Cooks-Heart-Italy-Regional/dp/0307267512

I received two copies of this for Christmas.  One was autographed, which I am keeping.  The other got slightly damaged when our Christmas tree fell over.  Lucky for you, I cannot return it.  But it is still in good condition as the damage is limited to the back cover and the lower corner of some of the back pages.  It is a wonderful cookbook with gorgeous photos of Italy.  I plan on drawing  the winning name from the followers of this blog on February 28th.  Good luck!!

Paella



Paella is one of my favorite dishes. The flavor combinations are amazing and you can pretty much clean out your fridge to make it. While I was working out on Saturday, I was watching Daisy on Create TV. She made two paellas, one with chorizo, chicken, and seafood and one the was all veggies. I remembered that I had bought some really nice spanish chorizo at Costco that I hadn't used yet. This paella has charizo, chicken, mushrooms, onions, manzilla olives, capers, and peas.


I should add that Paella is made with Achiote (annetto) seeds or oil. I have a hard time finding it but I did find that Knorr makes a powdered achiote and corriander that works great.

08 January 2011

Great Day for Soup




My friend Betsy made Carrot Ginger soup this week and it sounded wonderful. So, I thought I would give it a shot. I have been on a ginger kick this week and made ginger tea from fresh ginger for the first time. I love cutting into fresh ginger as it has an amazing lemony smell. I was going to make the version of Carrot Ginger soup that Bets made (vegan) but I remembered I had some homemade turkey broth in the freezer that I wanted to use.

It is very cold today but sunny. When I checked this morning at 11:00am it was only 16 degrees. It has now warmed up to 21 degrees!!! This soup is great for a cold day as the ginger has a wonderful warming effect and it makes the whole house smell incredible. I enjoyed looking out my kitchen window at the snow glittering in the sunshine while I was cooking. Today is a good day.









CARROT GINGER SOUP

INGREDIENTS

1 medium sweet onion, sliced thin
2 lbs. of carrots, sliced thin
2 cloves of garlic minced
fresh ginger peeled and sliced thin (this is to taste, I used approximately 1/2 cup sliced but you can use more or less)
1/4 cup cooking sherry, dry white wine, or water
8 cups of broth, chicken or turkey
1 14 oz can of light coconut milk
4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1/2 cup of toasted pine nuts
fresh ground pepper
fluer de sel or other course sea salt


in a heavy sauce pan 7 quarts or larger, saute onions in olive oil on low heat until translucent.
add garlic and saute until caramelized
pour in sherry and deglaze pan
add carrots and broth
increase heat to medium high until boiling and then reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour









let cool for 15 minutes and then puree in small batches in either a blender or food processor.
stir in coconut milk

garnish with fresh ground pepper, fleur de sel, and pine nuts



The following is the appoximate breakdown of nutritional information.