Saturday, January 30, 2010
This was a special occasion, and what happier way to celebrate than with ice cream? This party was planned to ring in a new year of hope and health for our friends Tricia and Mike. Both in their forties, Mike was diagnosed with colon cancer earlier this year. His wife Tricia and their three very young children had a lot to cope with. Not long after getting the news, Tricia was diagnosed with uterine cancer, and this is on top of a dangerous and degenerative heart condition that was diagnosed during her first pregnancy. Needless to say, these two have had enough to deal with. So they decided to have a party. I didn't know what to expect as we walked in to the familiar surroundings of their warm and friendly home. Mike greeted us with a huge smile on his face, a warm hug and kiss, and happiness in his eyes. Tricia just wrapped her arms around each of us and held on, saying how good it was to see us. We haven't visited in a while, party because we wanted to give them their space, and perhaps partly because we weren't sure what to do. That's not the case any longer. We won't stay away. Sue and I both realized when we entered that house, so full of happy life, that it's been too long, that we need to see them more, and often. Sue and I always visit together; the kids think of us as "Sue and Jeannie." The kids were happy to see us, too, and we vow not to wait so long to visit again.
On this frigid day, they had every kind of ice cream in open coolers. Hot fudge filled a crock pot. There was butterscotch, caramel, all kinds of sprinkles, and a cooler labeled in a child's printing, "wipped cream." Each container had a hand-printed label, adorably made by either Aiden (1st grade) or Lindsey (3rd grade). Kids and adults made their own individual sundaes. All I could think of, as friends and relatives filled this house, is how beautifully happy and content this family is. That is not to say that they don't have a lot to feel sad about, or to fear, or even to be bitter about, but that's not how they operate. These are two of the most positive people I've ever known, and today, they were joyful. Happiness and gratitude exuded from both Mike and Tricia. Their children were gleeful. There was no sign of sickness or sadness.
I am so glad that we were invited to share in such a day of happiness. And though I don't wear my religion on my sleeve, I sincerely thank God that my friends are OK. They're better than OK. They are fantastic and looking forward, together.
Photo credit: http://friendsboston.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/ice-cream1.jpg
Friday, January 29, 2010
If you love home-made pancakes and want to try your hand at making your own without the help of the boxed mix, give these a try. I researched a number of recipes and took the best from each. An especially helpful tip: I had heard that allowing the batter to sit overnight really improved the next morning's pancake, and it is because air bubbles are allowed to form over time. Careful scooping of the batter the next morning keeps those air bubbles intact, and the result is a light, fluffy pancake. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour , or a combination of AP and whole wheat flour
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• ¼ cup granulated sugar
• 1 1/4 cups milk
• 1 egg
• 3 tablespoons butter, melted
• 1 tsp. vanilla
The night before serving: In a large bowl, *sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg and melted butter; mix until smooth.
*If you don’t have a sifter, shake the flour through a strainer. This incorporates air and keeps the pancakes fluffy.
Important: Cover bowl with wrap and let this mixture sit in the refrigerator overnight. This allows more air bubbles to form, insuring a light and fluffy pancake.
Next morning: Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat, or spray a griddle pan with non-stick spray. Without stirring (which would deflate the air bubbles), scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. (You can use a ¼ c. (or larger) measuring cup. I use a levered ice cream scoop). Brown on both sides and serve hot.
You can embellish these any way you like, by adding blueberries, chocolate chips, nuts, etc. to the pancake batter on the griddle, just before turning it over to brown on the second side.
Photo credit: http://sfist.com/attachments/SFist_Brock/pancakes.jpg
Thursday, January 28, 2010
If I were to make it today, I wouldn't change much. I'd use a different sauce, maybe Bertoli, and add mushrooms, but I wouldn't want to make it too different. There's something sacred about replicating Mom's recipes, especially when she didn't have many! Change it up too much, and you have something entirely different. I wouldn't want to do that!
Photo image: http://www.livingonadime.com/images/hamburgcass.jpg
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
With football comes hot wings, and we're right there, season-wise! The Super Bowl is right around the corner, and people can't get enough of these savory, saucy treats. Most are deep-fried, but not this recipe from Alton Brown. Reviewers RAVED about this recipe (check out reviews at TFN site, linked below).
Alton Brown is the culinary scientist of The Food Network. Sometimes his processes are more than the average cook or kitchen are equipped for, but reviews of these hot wings say they're easy - just take a little time. The wings are steamed and then baked at a high heat for a while, and the result is a crispy wing that most would mistake for deep-fried.
I rarely eat wings - maybe once in a while out with my sisters, at Gaffney's in Saratoga Springs, or I'll make my own "mock" version with chicken tenders at home (quick and delish), but I love them. A little celery and the cool creaminess of blue cheese dressing, and I'm a happy winger.
Alton Brown's Buffalo Wings
- 12 whole chicken wings (about 3 pounds)
- 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup hot sauce
- Kosher salt
Monday, January 25, 2010
Chicken Piccata is one of those dishes I love to order out. I've had it at Pennell's in Saratoga Springs (the best) and even at Olive Garden (pretty good!). I never make it at home because I don't keep capers in my pantry, and for some reason in the winter I don't always have lemons (though in the summer it seems I buy three at a time, every week).
This recipe is listed as "EASY" on The Food Network Web site. With capers, some chicken stock, and fresh lemons, you can transform that same old boneless chicken breast into something worth staying in for! Serve it with asparagus spears and some of those pretty little red potatoes with just the middle peeled, and you've just created a very elegant dinner!
Recipe courtesy of The Food Netowrk's Giada DeLaurentis
2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.
In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.
Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.
Photo and original recipe found at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/cda/recipe_print/0,1946,FOOD_9936_22319_RECIPE-PRINT-FULL-PAGE-FORMATTER,00.html
Sunday, January 24, 2010
2 cups low-fat chocolate ice cream, softened
1/2 cup 1% low-fat chocolate milk
1/4 cup Kahlua (coffee flavored liqueur) (or cold coffee for alcohol-free)
1 tablespoon grated semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate (about 1/2 ounce)
1/2 tsp. instant coffee granules
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir with a wire whisk just until blended. Serve immediately. Makes four 1/2-cup servings or two once-cup servings.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Mini Chocolate Chip Almond Cookies
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 cup shortening (don't substitute butter, it will change the texture)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
6 oz. dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup slivered almonds
Beat sugars with butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add vanilla extract. Toss dry ingredients together with a fork and add to sugar mixture. Mix until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips and slivered almonds.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll teaspoons of dough into balls. Place two inches apart on cookie sheets. Slightly flatten balls with two fingers, just to level them off a bit. Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes or until they just begin to brown around edges. Don't let them bake too long!
Photo credit: http://img4.southernliving.com/i/2009/02/chocolate-delights/chocolate-chip-cookies-l.jpg
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I do love that days are already beginning to lengthen, making promises of brighter days ahead. I think we're all affected by SAD to some extent. I heard on the radio this morning that yesterday, January 18, is the most depressing day on the calendar, season-wise. But for me, it was a happy day. I drove home from visiting Russ in the Finger Lakes early yesterday morning. I met my friend Sue for lunch at Sutton's in Queensbury, near Lake George. We both ordered the black bean burger with grilled onions, Mexican mayonnaise on grilled cheddar bread! It was outstanding!
Once home, I played with Henry (we chase each other and his gleeful giggle could earn him a million dollars) and then I started preparing for the jewelry party I'm having tonight. Hopefully, it will be an affective antidote to cabin fever! It's an excuse to open my home for the first time to relatives, and at the same time have my son Joe show his beautiful Peruvian silver jewelry. Don't worry friends at work -- I'm having another party next week for you! I'm very excited about sharing my home and food (from blog recipes!) with friends and relatives. Among the offerings tonight (along with the usual suspects) are:
grilled chicken and pineapple skewers with Asian dipping sauce
sweet and sour meat balls
savory herb and cheddar scones
falafel with tahini sauce
mini chocolate chip almond cookies
I can't wait to welcome people in to my new home. It's been a long time coming!
Image credit: http://www.acespickens.org/ACESimages/openhouse.jpg
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
After I purchased my fast food, I drove my little Mazda 3 into a parking space between two construction vehicles. They had backed in, I was facing forward. There I was, sandwiched between (probably) two triple-bacon-cheeseburgers with over-sized fries and gallon sodas.
I listened to NPR as I ate my 10-minute meal, one little french fry at a time. Somehow, eating my little meal, listening to NPR, tucked anonymously between two big guys in two big trucks made me feel as though I wasn't doing anything so terribly awful, indulging in fast food this way. It's like no one even saw me! (and it was, frankly, delicious!).
Photo credit: http://www.thesmartset.com/files/Images/Daily/ConsumerConfidence/ID_CC_BEATO_DRIVE_AP_001.jpg
Thursday, January 14, 2010
I couldn't help but realize, as I turned on the faucet to run water, or opened my refrigerator to see the options within, that the people of Haiti can't do that. They're living in the streets, waiting. Waiting for medical care. Waiting to honor their dead. Waiting for water. Waiting for food. Waiting for relief. So many times I focus on what is lacking in my life, what I don't have, what I think I need.
Today I am grateful for a roof over my head, for running water and electricity, for the ability to see a doctor when necessary. I consider my whining over not going on a cruise this March silly. I had planned to go, and despite careful planning and optimism, the funds were not ultimately there, so I had to cancel this trip and was feeling sorry for myself. The photo with this post was taken in March 2007 when six of us traveled the western Caribbean on my first cruise. This photo was our first port-of-call, Labadee, Haiti, and it was a beautiful day in a beautiful place. What you don't see in this photo is the reality beyond the resort: the poverty and devastation that already plagued this island nation long before the earthquake ever hit. The earthquake has only magnified the lack of resources in Haiti. I hope it brings the world's attention to Haiti, a place Tracy Kidder refers to as practically a neglected colony of the United States. It seems wrong to ignore the lack of fortune they've suffered for years when we, only 700 miles away, don't even realize how fortunate we are. Kidder asks the world to help restore Haiti to "its former promise."
I have no wealth, no equity in anything. But what I do have is a fortune -- the simple things too often taken for granted. I'll remind myself of that every time it seems something's lacking. I have so, so much.
Photo: Jeannie Eddy, March 2007
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Banana Cream Pie
- Cooking spray
- 14 graham cracker squares (7 full sheets)*original recipe called for 6 full sheets
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 3 tablespoons boiling water
- 1/2 cup, plus 1 tbsp. sugar *origindal recipe called for 1/3 cup sugarplus 1 tsp.
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups 1 percent lowfat milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract*original recipe called for 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 cups sliced banana (3 medium bananas)
- 1/4 cup whipping cream *use more, according to reviewers, up to 3x more
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. In a food processor, process graham crackers until finely ground. Add butter and 1 tablespoon of water, and process until the crumb clumps together. Press crumb mixture into bottom of pie plate and about 1/2-inch up the sides. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then let cool.
In the meantime, make the filling. Put the gelatin in a small bowl; add 3 tablespoons of boiling water and stir until gelatin is dissolved. In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1/2 cup of sugar and the flour. In a medium bowl lightly beat the milk and eggs together. Add the egg and milk mixture to the saucepan and whisk so the flour and sugar dissolve. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes, until mixture comes to a boil and has thickened. Stir in the vanilla extract and gelatin. Set aside to cool slightly.
Arrange the sliced bananas on the graham cracker crust and pour the pudding on top. Place in the refrigerator until the pudding has set, about 3 hours.
Whip the cream with an electric beater. When it is about halfway done, add 1 tbsp. of sugar, then continue whipping until fully whipped. Put the whipped cream in a plastic bag, concentrating it in 1 corner of the bag. Snip that corner off the bag and squeeze the whipped cream out of the bag in a decorative pattern around the pie.
Photo credit: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ellie-krieger/banana-cream-pie-recipe/index.html
Monday, January 11, 2010
Friday, January 8, 2010
When the theater closed, so many of us were really sad, and that feeling lingers. I've often said that if I ever won the lottery in a big way, I'd buy it back and restore it to its former presence. To this day, when I walk by the theater, I'm angry at what has become of it. It is now home to a real estate office and retail shops. I never go in. Probably never will. It may sound harsh, but to me, these businesses are poachers, occupying this historic space in a way never intended by those who built the theater. It was built with a purpose -- to provide entertainment and joy for people of the community. The Community Theater. I mourn its passing.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
I have many happy memories of Saratoga Springs during that time, and one is of an exceptional sandwich we used to get on Beekman Street, the Scudders Sandwich from the Scuderi family deli. Marino's (of great pizza fame) eventually took over the business and continues to make the Scudders sandwich (you have to ask for it), though they've moved from the Beekman Street location to West Circular Street. Every once in a while, I just have to have that sandwich again. Nothing else quite matches it.
The Scudders sandwich was made on a split loaf of Italian bread. Half a sandwich was plenty for two people, though I knew some hearty souls that could eat the whole thing. That means they could eat a whole loaf of Italian bread plus all the meat, cheese, lettuce, and tomato within. Here is what I remember my Scudders sandwich was made of:
Italian Bread, split
paper-thin slices of tomato
very thin slices ham
cappicola (that delicious hot ham)
american cheese (the real stuff, not processed)
They'd slather both sides of the bread with a lot of mayo, layer the lettuce, tomato, meats and cheeses, and wrap the whole thing up. My mouth waters just thinking about it. It's not so figure friendly, but it just might be worth being the only thing you eat that day -- it's that good!
Photo credit: http://hostedmedia.reimanpub.com/TOH/Images/Photos/37/exps40066_TH1421350D17C.jpg
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Combine sugar, vinegar, ketchup, juice, and soy sauce in medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat.
Place flour on plate. Wash and pat dry chicken. Pound it a bit in a large zip bag using a rolling pin or mallet, just enough to tenderize and to get it to uniform thickness. Cut each piece in half if you prefer smaller pieces. Dredge pounded chicken in flour, both sides. Place in hot oil in large skillet and brown lightly on both sides. Remove to plate while other pieces of chicken are browned. You don't need to cook it all the way through - that happens later in the oven.
Spray rectangular baking dish with oil spray. Place browned chicken pieces in pan. Arrange pineapple and green pepper chunks over and around chicken. Pour sweet and sour sauce over all. Bake at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes or until green pepper just starts to curl and brown around edges. Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes. Serve with rice and vegetables. Make sure to spoon extra sauce over everything!
Photo credit: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.dreamstime.com/confetti-stars-new-year-s-eve-background-thumb3770911.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-confetti-stars-new-year-s-eve-background-image3770911&usg=__66vY5Gz7cy4lNypnnlRrg2NUj-Y=&h=300&w=300&sz=63&hl=en&start=6&tbnid=6RaQS6sfeHerNM:&tbnh=116&tbnw=116&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dconfetti%26gbv%3D2%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DG
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
You and Me Chicken Pot Pies from Ellie Krieger (4 servings)
- Cooking spray
- 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 leeks, bottom 4 inches only, washed well and chopped (suggestion: or 1/2 cup chopped onion)
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 medium potatoes cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (suggestion*use half tablespoon fresh, or half teaspoon dried)
- 3 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 4 individual-sized baking dishes with cooking spray.
Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few turns of pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over a medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, turning once. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Add 2 more teaspoons of the oil, the leeks, and the celery to the pan and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes, green beans, garlic, and remaining salt and pepper and cook for 2 more minutes.
Add the milk to the pan. Stir the flour into the chicken broth until dissolved and add to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in the reserved chicken, peas, parsley, and thyme. Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dishes.
Put the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil into a small bowl. Unroll the phyllo dough and cut it into quarters. Place a quarter sheet on top of each baking dish and brush with olive oil. Repeat with remaining 3 baking dishes. Tuck the edges of the phyllo into the dish rim. Top each pie with Parmesan.
Place on a baking sheet and bake until the filling is bubbling, about 30 minutes.