Archive for November, 2009

Strengthening Family Ties

   Make it a top priority to work together as a family and keep in touch with one another.  Grandchildren and great-grandchildren learn a lot from sharing with each other.  Plan picnics and family get-togethers, and keep family traditions alive:  prepare beloved, old family recipes – everybody likes to eat!  But above all, be there for family emergencies and help each other out as much as possible.  Parents and grandparents, muster the patience and understanding to keep the doors open to all who want and need your help – or simply need to be listened to.  (5)

Try to visit parents or grandparents at least once a month.  They won’t always be there.  (53)

Flowery accolades every five years at milestone birthdays are nice, but don’t neglect grandma and grandpa in between these major events.  (54)

November 28, 2009 at 5:44 pm Leave a comment

Uncommon Autumns and Simple Pre-Holiday Fare

   I don’t know if you ever do this, and I probably shouldn’t admit to it, but I occasionally find myself totally at sea as to where I am on the calendar.  For example, I’ll be making out a check in early July, but I start to write “September” as the date.  Even when I stop to think about it, it may take a few seconds before I’m back in touch with the reality that we did, in fact, just celebrate Independence Day, for heaven’s sake. 

Following an early-October snowfall that left us quaking at the prospect of having two extra months of winter tacked onto the front end of the season, we Twin Citians now find ourselves finishing off a November which will go down as the second warmest in recorded Minnesota weather history. So as I walk the neighborhood on my daily constitutional in 50+ degree temps, I look down to see rusty tree leaves damming up the street gutters, and up to see Christmas wreaths and crèche scenes slowly rising around me as neighbors take advantage of warm weekends to install decorations before our weather luck runs out.  It’s another calendar disconnect.

To confuse things even more, I decide to do a holiday-style dinner two days before the 26th, and bake a nice, plump lean Boneless Ham or Turkey Breast to serve with Mashed Potatoes and Squash, Steamed Broccoli with Roasted Red Pepper Strips, a Four-Fruit Medley, and Amaranth Date Muffins.  In anticipation of feast day later in the week, no indulgent dessert, just a nice big slab of Queso Fresco to complement the fruit and muffins.  Heck, that is dessert – if not ambrosia, then at least a heavenly combination of  flavors.  And with the amaranth being a good source of manganese, iron, magnesium, and phosphorous, I am hopeful that this high-quality fuel will keep my neurons firing efficiently and perhaps strengthen my grasp of where I am in time.  (more…)

November 25, 2009 at 10:48 pm Leave a comment

Cucina Rustica

This day broke with a frosty, sun-infused, crystal blue morning – perfect weather for a brisk pre-breakfast dog walk.  As my feet amble, my thoughts wander, and today that mental trek took me back through a cooking segment I happened to catch on T.V. last week, while working on a sewing project. 

By way of introduction, Rachel Ray called the combo of baked sausages with grapes a classic;  “Been around forever,” I think is the quote.  I’d never prepared it personally, but I was intrigued by her idea of adding chicken to the mix, and of course I fiddled quite a bit with the preparations.  My lightened version was a big enough hit at my Tuesday night in-law supper that I can highly recommend to you a menu of Baked Chicken with Italian Turkey Sausage and Black Grapes, Baked Brie with Multigrain Toast Triangles, Steamed Green Beans, some perhaps redundant Pan-Stewed Apple Slices, and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake.   

Based on crowd approval, I envision this adaptation of the main dish recipe becoming a re-run in my household.  Gotta’ love those rustic Italian cooks. (more…)

November 20, 2009 at 9:19 pm Leave a comment

Phobic Phriday Pheasting

apples pears cheese 003   I wish I could say that this gloomy Friday the 13th forenoon had unfolded into a glorious Autumn afternoon, but it didn’t.  Still, there’s one good thing about an overcast day:  it can make for excellent walking weather, and a brisk outdoor walk is one of my favorite ways to work up an appetite for something warm and comforting from the kitchen.  With the pupster along, this turns into a walk/jog, so a big bowl of homemade soup sounds mighty enticing by the time we’re headed back up the driveway at the end of our three-miler. 

But this is a pre-lunch walk, so there’s not a lot of time for complicated compositions.  Quick Vegetable Bean Soup has everything in one pot, and Kasha Muffins bake up in 25 minutes.    Set out some nice, crisp Apples and Red Pears and a wedge of White Cheddar to round things out, and you’re good to go – or “good to stay,” now that you’re tucked back into your nice cozy lair, enveloped by all those good aromas.  (more…)

November 14, 2009 at 2:52 pm Leave a comment

Frosted Cakes and Frosted Pumpkins

roasted sweet n' sour plums 007   There was a coating of frost on everything in sight at seven o’clock this morning, but oh, the golden afternoon.  As my little canine companion trotted along beside me, crispy windblown leaves chasing her in her exuberant zigzagging trot to the park, I started to line up the cast for tonight’s dinner.   In deference to my husband’s low-carbohydrate needs, a recipe adapted from the very helpful book The Diabetes Diet, by Dr. Richard K. Bernstein, Chicken Breasts in Celery Wine Sauce, took center stage.

Co-starring, a quickie vegetable dish of Eggplant Sauté, Three-Cheese Pita Melts, a little pasta side dish (pun semi-intentional) of Orzo with Peas, Baked Sweet and Sour Plums for a fruity counterpart to the poultry, and for dessert, a hearty, semi-healthful Oatmeal Banana Cake.  To up the “healthful quotient,” eliminate the chocolate frosting on the cake – just as the glorious midday sun eliminated the frosting on the neighbors’ leftover Halloween pumpkins.  (Yes, I do enjoy a good stretch now and then…)  (more…)

November 7, 2009 at 6:26 pm Leave a comment

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