Thursday, January 27, 2011

Just a Thought while Reading



I just had a thought that hit me today and I wanted to share it with you.

Luke 9:10..."And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place…And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing."

I think these verses are also a good guide for motherhood. When a mother is so tired, physically, mentally and emotionally, and she goes to be alone for a bit, what happens if her children follow her? Does she send them away with mean, tired words?

Maybe this time she sends them to play with a loving word and a hug, and then takes her nap because she really needs that nap in order to function.

Maybe, if the Spirit whispers to do so, the next time, she does what Jesus did in these verses. She takes care of their spiritual and physical needs, despite her own need for solitude. They're beautiful verses. I’m sure it’s not easy counsel to follow, but it is a good reminder and food for thought, don’t you think?

Image by Liz Lemon Swindle, found on google images

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Book Review

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konisburg

An all-time favorite of mine, this book does not get old with time. I read it at least once a year and enjoy it more each time. The main characters remind me of real people...myself or children I knew. And really, who didn't fantasize as a child about running away--actually running away for more than hour? E. L. Konisburg's writing is refreshing, witty, funny... If you read this book and love it, try The View from Saturday next and then keep going.
My current reading list:

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Some of Dostoevsky's early short stories
Harvest Poems by Carl Sandburg
Homer's Illiad
Candide by Voltaire
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

I hope to finish them all by the end February or March.

Curried Sweet Potato Soup and Goat Cheese Biscuits

OK, it' s official. joythebaker.com really is amazing. I found these two recipes, and well, let me explain something about myself. I love goat cheese. Maybe love is too weak a word, but.... well, when she said "goat cheese biscuits," I was like, "Shut up...you had me at goat cheese."
Anyway, here they are:

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

from The Essential New York Times Cookbook

serves 6 to 8

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup coarsely chopped onions

1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped ginger

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick

6 cups chicken broth, or slightly more as needed.

salt and pepper to taste

6 to 8 teaspoons goat cheese

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until the onions begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute, stirring for 30 seconds. Add the ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric and red pepper flakes. Add the sweet potatoes and broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.

Puree the soup, in batches in a blender or food processor. Season to taste. The soup can be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge. Reheat over a low flame. If the soup is too thick, add a little more stock.

Ladle into bowls and crumble goat cheese on top.

Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits

makes about 9 biscuits

adapted slightly from Art Smith’s Table Fifty-Two

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

4 tablespoons (2 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for the pan

2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted to top the biscuits

4 tablespoons (2 ounces) goat cheese, crumbled

1 cup buttermilk

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet in the oven to preheat as well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. With your fingers incorporate the butter and goat cheese until the flour resembles a coarse, pebbly mixture. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk. With a fork, mix together the buttermilk and flour until all of the dry flour disappears.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a small sauce pan or in the microwave. Set aside.

Remove the cast iron from the oven and place one tablespoon of butter in it. Work the pat of butter around, greasing the entire pan, including the sides.

Spoon the batter, by the 1/4-cup into the hot skillet. I used a big scooper to do the job. The biscuits will touch when baked… that’s ok.

Brush with melted butter.

Bake for 14-16 minutes, until slightly golden in color. Remove from the oven. Let rest for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies

I happened upon this recipe on joythebaker.com, but it couldn't have been an accident. It was destiny.


(When I try it, I think I'll simplify some of these directions)
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies

makes 9 large brownies

adapted from Martha Stewart

For the Brownie:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

coarse sea salt for topping

For the Peanut Butter Filling:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup powdered sugar

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter, I prefer natural peanut butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

large handful of pretzel sticks

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Grease an 8×8-inch baking pan. Line with parchment paper so that it overhangs on two sides and grease the parchment paper as well.

Boil two inches of water in a medium saucepan. Combine butter, unsweetened chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate and coffee powder in a heat proof bowl and place over the simmering water. Stir until chocolate and butter are melted. Use a pot holder to remove the bowl from the double boiler and let mixture cool slightly. Stir in the vanilla extract.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

Whisk granulated sugar into the chocolate and butter mixture. Make sure the chocolate mixture isn’t too hot and whisk the eggs in the mixture one at a time.

Fold in the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture and spoon into prepared pan.

To make the Peanut Butter Filling, whisk together peanut butter, melted butter, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract until smooth.

Pour the peanut butter mixture on top of the brownie batter and use a butter knife to swirl the two together. Arrange pretzel sticks on top of the brownie batter in whatever pattern makes you happy. Top with a few sprinkles of coarse sea salt. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until a skewer inserted in the center comes our mostly clean… maybe with just a few crumbs.

Let cool for about 30 minutes before slicing and enjoying.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Thought for the Day



"It ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else. "

"In the grand division of all of God’s creations, there are things to act and things to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:13–14). As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the capacity for independent action and choice. Endowed with agency, you and I are agents, and we primarily are to act and not just be acted upon. To believe that someone or something can make us feel offended, angry, hurt, or bitter diminishes our moral agency and transforms us into objects to be acted upon. As agents, however, you and I have the power to act and to choose how we will respond to an offensive or hurtful situation."--David A. Bednar, apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.



Find the rest of his talk here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

To an old flame

Dear,

Oh, how I miss you. As it always is in life, I didn’t fully appreciate you until it was too late. You know, now that you’re gone, I can finally admit that I used you. In fact, all I did was use you. You gave and gave and gave, and then you were gone. I never realized before how often I would think about you during the day, or look forward to spending time with you. But these days I find myself making plans….and then canceling them in consternation when I remember that you are no longer there to make it happen.


I miss your warmth, your sweetness. Everything seems more difficult; even food tastes different. I hate to even say this, but I used to complain about you to my friends. All I could see were your faults, your shortcomings… and now I am paying dearly for that. Heck, I’m so distraught that I’m even talking about you to my husband.


Things are getting out of hand, sweetness, I realize that. But the only way to make this better is if you will come back into my life.


Yes, my old flame, my oven. I need you back. With you broken, I can’t make cookies anymore, or bake squash, or--or ANYTHING!!! Dinner is so difficult these days….I’m running out of things to cook that don’t require an oven. You are crucial to my dinnertime, and I humbly admit it now. Never again will I complain about unreliable oven temps or too-brown cookies….if you’ll just COME BACK.

Please?


Love,

Me


P.S. Maybe I should direct this note to my landlord, instead. That would probably get faster results.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Crockpot Breakfast Casserole


Two weeks ago, somehow, I found myself promising to...gulp...get up at 6 AM and cook breakfast every morning from now on--a very Invasion of the Body Snatchers moment, it was, and let me explain why: ever since high school, my breakfasts have consisted of such memorable dishes as:
1. a bread sandwich, which is three pieces of bread grabbed as I run out the door.
2. a bagel, grabbed as I run out the door.
3. A cup of dry cereal eaten as I drive to school/work.
4. Oatmeal. Just oatmeal. No milk, no sugar, gulped in two bites as I run out the door.
5. Two tortillas folded into a triangle, scarfed as I drive to school/work.
On a good day, I sit down and eat cold cereal with milk.

I know, I know: yuck. As important as breakfast is to a body, I guess mine would rather sleep in as long as possible each morning.

So, you can see why
ME to COOKING BREAKFAST == OZZIE OSBOURNE to SPEAKING UNDERSTANDABLY.

But, I will stick to my promise, and in honor of that promise I will post this breakfast recipe. I love it because you prepare it the night before (I very much prefer to cook when I'm actually awake). I think I will substitute sausage for ham, but otherwise, this looks scrumptious. Happy breakfast eating!

Crockpot Breakfast Casserole

recipe from allrecipes.com

Ingredients
  • 1 (2 pound) package frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
  • 1 pound diced cooked ham
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Lightly grease a 4 quart or larger slow cooker. Place 1/3 of the hash brown potatoes in a layer on the bottom. Layer 1/3 of the ham, onion, green pepper, and Cheddar cheese. Repeat layers two more times. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk, and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the contents of the slow cooker.
  2. Cover, and cook on Low for 10 to 12 hours.

image from http://top-10-list.org/2009/07/25/