Friday, November 30, 2007

December 1, 2007

World AIDS Day

For More Information:

Help stop the disease that is ravaging the world!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Peppermint Bark

A few weeks ago I promised my friend Lisa that I would give her my recipe for peppermint bark. Since I was typing it out I thought I would hare it will all of you as well.

1 pound white chocolate (I buy big slabs at Trader Joes)
12 candy canes
1 tsp. peppermint oil (or 1 Tbs. Peppermint extract)

Melt white chocolate. This can be done in the microwave by cooking for 30 seconds, stirring and checking, and cooking for another30 seconds, stirring and checking, etc. until the white chocolate is melted.

Unwrap and bash up the candy canes. I do this either in a zip top bag with a rolling pin or meat mallet or in the food processor.

Mix candy cane pulp and peppermint oil into melted white chocolate.

Spread the mixture onto a parchment lined jelly roll pan and refrigerate until completely set. Break into pieces.

Store in refrigerator.


Winter Weather
Stephen Huneck

Well I guess winter is officially here since they are forecasting a "wintery mix" for Sunday into Monday. I actually like winter I think it is beautiful in a very sublime way, but I don't like having to deal with winter weather.

Hubby and I thought ahead this year though, over the weekend when the weather was mild we went to Home Depot (or as hubby calls is the Despot) and bought 250 pounds of rock salt. We also stocked up on 4 gallons of windshield washer de-icer fluid. Hubby pulled out the snow blower and made sure it was in working order and then moved it closer to the house in case we need it. I am heading the Walmart at lunch to get some pet safe ice melter for our back porch and then I think we will be all set.

I guess I had better put together an emergency kit for my car and locate boots, hats, etc. With being almost 8 months pregnant I really don't want to take any chances.

How do you get ready for winter weather?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

Wet Shoes

Since it was such a nice weekend, hubby and I did a little yard work that we had been putting off... namely raking leaves and picking up dog poop. Ok, so we don't actually rake, we have a leaf blower. Anyway, hubby was blowing all the leaves around the yard and I was following behind him picking up the poop which was LONG overdue. Needless to say, between the plentiful piles and the leaves hiding a few... nuggets... I stepped in a lot of poop. I was wearing my Dansko clogs at the time, which, when I was finished (after collecting 3 grocery bags full) I left sitting on our deck box to dry out making the poop easier to remove. I kind of forgot that the shoes were out these until this morning when I went to let the dogs out and it was pouring.

My shoes, my very expensive leather shoes were filled with water and soaking wet! I brought them in the house and put them on newspaper to dry. When I get home tonight I will break out the boot dryers and see if that will help.

Do you think they are ruined? Any thoughts on getting leather shoes dry?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Best Deal I Ever Passed Up

Yesterday after my doctor's appointment I ran to the market with my mom to pick up my free turkey. I took my mom because I do not have the freezer space for said turkey but she does, so I bought it and she took it home.

Anyway, we were in the meat department looking at the turkey's and waiting for the butcher to cut my beef bones into manageable pieces (We give these to the dogs as treats, at something like $.69 a pound they make a cheap dog treat/toy) when we spied a Bell and Evans natural turkey with a marked down sticker on it. The regular price was $57.00 and the marked down price was $14.00. Mom and I both looked at each other and began to plan how it might be possible to get this turkey home with one of us. Alas, as I mentioned before I had no freezer space for a 19 pound bird so it couldn't come home with me. The last of her freezer space was taken up with the free turkey we already had in the cart, so the Bell and Evans beauty stayed in the market.

It was definitely a hard deal to pass up, but without any place to store it it would have been a complete waste of $14.

What's Cooking Good Looking?

Well, at the moment nothing because I am at work, but tomorrow my kitchen will be in full swing. I don't host Thanksgiving, we go to my mother-in-law's house, but this year I was asked to bring a vegetable. I always wonder why people ask the chubby girl to bring things like salads and veggies, but hey, I'm a team player.

This year I will be bring a creamed spinach souffle and roasted grape tomatoes.

The spinach souffle isn't a true souffle by any stretch of the imagination because it contains no eggs what-so-ever, but spinach casserole doesn't sound very appetizing:

2 (10 oz.) pkgs. frozen chopped spinach
Salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp. sage
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. melted butter, divided
2 c. bread crumbs

Cook spinach according to package instructions. Drain. Combine spinach, salt and pepper, cream cheese and 1/4 cup butter. Mix well. Spoon into a 2 quart casserole dish. Combine 1/4 cup butter, breadcrumbs, and sage stirring well. Spread bread crumbs over spinach mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

The roasted grape tomatoes are my version of a barefoot contessa recipe.

4 pints grape tomatoes
olive oil
Salt and pepper
Salad Herbs (I have a jar of freeze dried "salad herbs." Don't know what is actually in them)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss the tomatoes lightly with olive oil on a sheet pan. Spread them out into one layer and sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and salad herbs. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft.

What are you cooking?

Well Worth Bookmarking

A friend of mine passed this website along and I thought I would do the same.

Described as a site to:

"...serve mothers, fathers and all parents as a resource to find information to help them protect their kids. With the onslaught of toy problems, lead paint and other health concerns popping up in the news, I wanted to create a site where parents can go to find what they need to make educated and informed decisions.

This site isn’t to take the place of official information or the advice given by medical doctors. It should be used as a resource, and a time saver to help you as a parent make decisions that affect your kids and to find fun and healthful tips on living a healthy safe life."

It can never hurt to have more information.

The Grind Part II

So that Friday night, as promised, hubby and I tried out the meat grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aide mixer. It was easy to attach and it seemed (hubby did the actual grinding) very easy to use. He cut the steaks into strips and dropped them into the grinder. There was a plunger type utensil included with the grinder attachment that he used to smooch the meat closer to the actual grinding apparatus. It ground up the meat beautifully! With the small exception of turning the power to 3 and blowing little meaty chunks on the cabinets (so very gross!) it performed without incident.

We took our newly ground meat and using my trusty Tupperware Hamburger Press made burgers for dinner. Hubby grilled them, and boy were they tasty.

I did not take any pics because I just wasn't thinking, sorry.

Clean up was a breeze too, and I was a little worried about getting the grinder absolutely clean. Most of the parts can go in the dishwasher which helps, and what can't was easy to clean in the sink with hot water and dish soap.

All in all a kitchen success!

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Grind

Tonight hubby and I will be playing the in the kitchen with his newest kitchen toy... the meat grinder attachment for my kitchen aid mixer.

Having never ground meat before this should be a true experiment, but perhaps something that will lead to frugal and gourmet endeavours in the future. A special family sausage recipe to pass down to the kids? Who knows.

I was able to find some tips that look helpful from

"Grinding Meat

Pretty simple really, cut all the meat into small cubes not bigger than 1"(25mm) and if you are adding extra fat cut the fat into much smaller cubes, maybe 1/4 the size of the meat. This allows you to distribute the lesser volume of fat more evenly. The same principle applies if you add a second meat type, like bacon, which is less in volume than your primary meat.

Spread the meat cubes in a single layer on your work surface and then distribute the fat (or second meat type) evenly over the meat. Spice the layer of meat, turn it over (spatula/egg lifter works well) and spice the other side as well.

If you intend binding the mixture for patties with a little fresh bread crumbs soaked in some cool stock and a bit of egg now is the time to distribute this evenly over the meat.

Mix everything through lightly with your hands and put the mixture into the freezer until it is very cold (just before it starts to freeze). A very cold mixture makes grinding meat a walk in the park and delivers excellent results. Although I don't go to such extremes I know of people who also put the grinder parts into the freezer prior to grinding meat and they claim great results.

Choose the plate size according to the quality and tenderness of the meat. With tender meat a coarse cut is preferred. Tough meat would warrant a medium cut and very sinewy meat would require a fine cut.

Follow the manufactures instructions to grind the meat. The threaded retaining ring on the front of the grinder needs to be pretty tight to force the cutting plate to seat tightly up against the knife otherwise you wont have much success with grinding meat. Use a pushing stick and never your fingers to force the meat cubes into the grinder and down onto the worm.

Stoppages are usually caused by sinews getting wrapped around the knife. This is generally due to a loose retaining ring, a blunt or dull knife, or the meat not being cold enough. Always unplug an electric grinder from the wall socket before attempting to clear a stoppage.

After Grinding

If you are new to this or if you are trying out a new recipe the next step after grinding is to put the ground meat into the refrigerator.

Don't clean up quite yet.

Take a small sample of ground meat and make a miniature patty. A heaped teaspoon is enough. Fry it in a pan and taste the texture and spicing. Here's how to correct some common errors.

Too Tough - If the ground meat is a bit tough you will want to put it through the grinder a second time. If it is very tough or sinewy do this using a plate with smaller holes.

Not Enough Spice - If it is only a bit of spice that is needed spread the ground meat out in a thin layer on the work surface and sprinkle the extra spice evenly over it. Mix through gently with your hands.

Too Much Spice - If the ground meat is too spicy get some more fresh meat and grind it without adding any spice. Spread the over-spiced meat out in a thin layer and distribute the unspiced meat evenly over it. Mix through gently with your hands.

Refrigerate the ground meat until you are ready to mold the patties.

Cleaning the Grinder

No tricks here. It's just important after grinding meat to completely strip the grinder and wash it and all the parts meticulously. A bottle brush works well with small grinders. After rinsing and drying I make a habit of spraying the cutting plate and knife lightly with cooking spray to prevent them from rusting. Assemble the grinder to keep all the parts safely together and cover with a cloth to keep dust out.

Grinding meat is an extremely rewarding experience and once you start you probably will not restrict yourself to only making great tasting burgers. Ground meat dishes will also take on a whole new meaning and then of course there is that whole new world of making your own sausage that lies ahead!" (

Anyone else have any experience with meat grinding? Any tips to add?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Holiday Baking

I have been thinking about my holiday baking recently. Maybe it is because it is finally consistently cold enough to do some baking, or perhaps because I have the energy to bake or perhaps it is all a part of nesting. Who knows. Anyway, there are several confections that I make every year and have been making for a couple of years such as peanut butter fudge, white chocolate peppermint bark, ginger snaps, earl grey tea cookies, chocolate covered shortbread and a few others.

This year am thinking about scaling back and tailoring my baking to the ingredients that are already plentiful in my pantry. I will make the peanut butter fudge and the peppermint bark because I have all of the ingredients and I give most of these away as gifts.

I have a dearth of coconut, Jams of every flavor, and oatmeal, so I was thinking about making the Barefoot Contessa's Jam Thumbprints which will use the Jam and the coconut. I was also thinking about making the mock nutrigain bars the Amy (Motherload) talked about which would use still more Jam (I have A LOT of Jam) and the oatmeal. My other option is to make Nigella's cranberry, white chocolate, pecan oatmeal cookies which are wonderful!

What are you baking for the holidays?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Read This Book

If you've ever wondered how it is possible that the same people the government and big business step all over vote for and support the system that keeps them down.

I first read about it here, and waited very patiently for interlibrary loan to come though. I started reading it yesterday, and although I am only 45 pages in, I am hooked. The subject matter is timely, especially with an upcoming election, and the writing if funny and engaging.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Salmon Fried Rice

Saturday night I made this recipe for Salmon Fried Rice. I made a few changes to the recipe. I substituted Brown jasmine rice for the sushi rice that the recipe calls for, because I had it on hand and it adds more fiber and vitamins. I also toasted approximately 2 Tbs. of sesame seeds and added those to the rice to punch up the sesame flavor and to add another whole grain. It was SOOO good.

Here it is packaged with edamame for a work lunch. Yumm-o! (to quote Rachael Ray)

To Prove to Hubby I am NOT Crazy

I found this in the freezer this morning. I told you!!! :)

Eagles Fan in Training

This baby, boy or girl, will be an Eagles fan if hubby has anything to do with it. When I saw baby Swoop yesterday I jut couldn't resist.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Oh, wait... it gets better...

So since the campus wide evacuation, after the credible threat of violence to the university community, all faculty and staff have been told to be on the lookout for any "suspicious people."

Of course, this sounds like good sound advice, but those of us in the library laughed and laughed when we heard that one. Suspicious? Suspicious! What kind of suspicious should I be looking out for?

What about this? Three days ago one of the library patrons told me my leopard-print sweater was talking to him. Is that suspicious enough?

Or how about this? What about the patron we lovingly call Nostradamus because he believes he is the fulfillment of all of Nostradamus's prophecies. Does that count as suspicious? [Although the Virgin Mary speaks to him on a regular basis, so maybe we could count that as a character reference]

Or what about Snowflake [Not his real name]? He is a homeless guy we caught using one of our study rooms as a hotel room. He is definitely suspicious.

Or there is the guy who thinks the government is watching him. That sounds suspicious to me.

Or there are the legions of local high school students who sneak into the library to look at porn and who refuse to make eye contact with anyone and hide their computer screens from all library staff so that they don;t get thrown out. They always look suspicious.

Perhaps suspicious looks the same on the rest of the university campus, but here is library land you are going to have to get a little more specific, cause we get A LOT of suspicious around here!

I work for an "employer of first choice"

Ever since the shooting at Virginia Tech, college campuses all over the country have looked at their security systems and how they can be improved. The university that I work for is no different.

So, shortly after this university began looking at their security systems they decided that what we really needed was a campus wide emergency notification system. So they subscribed to one, and then urged all of the faculty, students, and staff to sign up. The system works like this. When there is an emergency on campus, like a shooting or a bomb threat, everyone who signed up for the system will get a text message and/or an email with information, procedures, etc.

This past Friday, a la two days ago, we had to use the system for something other than a test... an actual emergency situation. It seems that there was a credible threat of violence aimed at the entire university community. So credible was this threat that the university actually evacuated and locked down one of its dorms, told the students to either get in their rooms and stay there or to go home, and they told all of their faculty and staff to leave campus ASAP.

This means that they actually closed the library. This never happens. The rest of the university could be closed and encased in 6 feet of ice and they library would still be open and I would be required to be at work. So, you can understand when I say that this must have been one hell of a credible threat!

So, apparently, although they haven't arrested anyone for making this treat, and since the threat never (or perhaps has yet) to come to fruition, they reopened campus.

So here I am today, at work, two days after a credible threat of violence was found and the entire campus was essentially evacuated and is there one single security guard to be found?... NO!

Wow, I feel safe... XXX University really must value their employees and their safety.

"Employer of first choice" my ass!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Weekend Plans

This has been a very busy week at work and it looks like the weekend will be bust as well.

I have to work on Sunday, which leaves Saturday for getting all my projects done. Hubby and I are hoping to get to Home Depot a some point to get paint for the nursery. I am also getting my hair cut, which is something I haven't done in about 6 months.

I need to make some more bread, and am hoping to get some additional baking/cooking done as well. I was intrigued by these Hearty Breakfast Muffins since I have some frozen veggie sausage I want to use up and with my left over salmon I will be making this Salmon Fried Rice to freeze in individual portions for lunches. Hopefully I will have the where-with-all to take pictures of these when they are completed.

Have a great weekend!

Black Friday Sales...

are just around the corner. I can't believe how quickly November is going.

Anyway, if you haven't checked out this site you can get a heads up on the good black friday sales.

For me and my mom, shopping on black friday is a tradition and although my stamina is not what it used to be, we will be heading out bright and early this year too.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

We Have a Crib!

This is not the exact crib, but it is pretty darn close.

So last week my mom and I headed to my favorite baby resale shop and I found a crib that I really liked. It was in perfect condition (it doesn't even look like its been used), is styled similarly to hubby's old dresser which we will be using as a changing table, and was even the right shade of medium wood. I inquired about the price, which was reasonable and the store owner mentioned that the price included the mattress (which was in better condition than the crib).

So, my mom bought it for us as an early shower gift. My dad went today and picked it up from the resale shop and brought it to our house.

We are officially one step closer to having the nursery finished.

Is it wrong?

That this morning at 10:00 am I had a Twix for a snack?

You'd better say it isn't... ;)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Hubby and I are very lucky to have generous friends who have recently given us even more baby gear. This is seriously better than Christmas/Chanukkah combined! We have received...

-- 1 changing pad

-- 2 sheet savers
-- 5 onsies (new in package)
-- 1 pair of little red Keds sneakers (so cute!)
-- a random assortment of clothes
-- 1 expandable baby gate

Both the changing pad and the gate were on our baby registry!


I got the results of my Glucola test this morning and thankfully they are NORMAL! Yeah, one less thing to worry about.