Friday, March 30, 2007

Promotion celebration and food (finally)!

During my "slow down" period our wonderful adopted cat Snowball has been keeping things warm anxiously awaiting my return.

So here I am, thanks Snowball. It's been awhile since I had more to say than, "My thumb is healing" ;) Thanks for all your thoughts and well wishes! Also thanks for your prayers for "D", this young man talks nightly to my daughter on the phone and did prior to his mom's death, so even though we are glad he lives more than an hour drive from us we have felt close to the situation. Reading all my fav food blogs and the great food being prepared while I have been on the "sit and mend" has been ..... actually quite inspiring. I now know at least 200 more dishes that I want to cook soon. April 6th I go back to the doctor for an x-ray and anticipate a mended fracture and a freed thumb. Then I will get the fun job of exercising the stiff digit back into shape. This is also the same day I intend to plant my Yukon Gold potatoes.

My honey's last day with his current position is today, he has been promoted to a position of more responsibility. Yes, a good thing for us and something that he has been hoping for. My oldest sis always has a nice supply of free hotel stays due her frequent traveler and flier miles, so she booked us a mini getaway to celebrate not only his promotion but the new contract I was offered and signed for next school year (new location with new exciting things to teach and a new FCCLA chapter to start and advise). After a Friday night hot tub time and some eats that I am packing for supper, tomorrow we intend to do a little shopping including stopping at Penzey's to stock up on my favorite spices. I also plan to purchase a few garden seeds (peas, turnips, kale) as well as a few onions sets and plants (broccoli, cauliflower, etc).

Everyone in my family is experiencing new, new, new. We attended a college visitation with my oldest, Matthew, and were very pleased with what we saw. He will continue in a computer science program and will attempt dorm living there next year. For most kids this is a big deal, but Matthew has had many obstacles to overcome to get this far. Although we are not on easy street, this step is a doozy that we all feel can be a successful one. My baby, Melissa, is running the two mile in track, singing and dancing in show choir and is planning to go to a dance this evening. *Sigh* I'm proud of her and all she does, but this growing up stuff makes me emotional!

Now on to eats....
PRESERVING THE HARVEST (tomatoes, part 2)
I did make a batch of spaghetti sauce using tomatoes from my freezer right before I broke my thumb. Here is a picture. I do pressure can it and blogged about doing this in August last year. This time I made enough sauce to can, but then everyone here got in a big tomato sauce eating mood, plus I decided to try Fat Free Vegan's No Cook Noodle Lasagna (pictured below) which used up the last of the pasta sauce I had.

MY SAUCE RECIPE (copied from the August post linked above):
  • Inspired by Bryanna Clark Grogan's . . . I used Brian's Wine- Free Mushroom Tomato Sauce on page 44 of the Nonna's Italian Kitchen Cookbook. I did add 1 cup of TVP granules and 2 tsp Bill's Best Beefy flavored bouillon powder to this. I reduced the cooking time since the TVP soaks up some of the extra liquid which does not need to evaporate during the long simmer process... I also only simmered for about 1 1/2 hours since I knew I would pressure can it and it would cook for another 1 1/2 hours there.
I also made a double batch of siciliean split pea soup (the recipe link is in the post) using freezer tomatoes. 1 lb toms = a 14.5 ounce grocery store can, 2 lbs = a 28 ounce can. I calculate weight with the tomato skins on, then run the frozen tom under warm water to remove the skin for this recipe. Once the tomatoes thaw in the cooking soup I chop them up using kitchen shears which makes them pretty much dissolve, but they leave the necessary taste. I only keep the skins on when I blend them when I make soup and sauce. I still have two grocery store bags full of frozen tom's in my freezer, but I am sure they will get used up before mid July when I get a new crop of my favorite fruit.

My St Patty's Day feast was a couple of days later since we were out of town the 17th, but this was enjoyed just the same. I purchased some fresh spinach leaves that needed to have the last few in the bag used up, yet they were not edible as a salad anymore so I decided that a lime smoothie (link to recipe) on this special day was in order. Here you see my smoothie along with a plate of Bryanna's chik'n cutlets that I made in my crock pot. They were good and easy, I removed them from the crockpot and onto a plate to cool. Well, all but one... with that one I made a breakfast sandwich and ate it immediately with my smoothie.

I have small freezer bags of turnip and kale greens (cooked down, ready to thaw and use) in my freezer. In my attempt to use these up because I will have more around the first of June (weather cooperating) .... which I definitely will NOT want to eat from my freezer when I have fresh garden produce available. I have been thawing the small snack size bags in my frig and then taking out the greens to chop up and add to soups and stir fries. I did freeze a batch of garlic seasoned greens using a recipe from Dreena's book that I will probably thaw, heat in a pan, and eat as a meal side. This picture is a potato stir fry using the greens. Simple, yet flavorful. I think if I make it again I will add cooked white beans. This is served along side a slice of whole grain toast with apple butter.

Last bit of March cooking.....
CABBAGE (of course) ... Although I didn't make the traditional Irish feast like I did last year, I have been chopping a lot of cabbage.

Fairly odd tofu mom posted about her fav THAI SALAD... I made this recipe twice in the last month. It is beautiful and tasty - I love it. The picture is of a dish of it I took for lunch. It is topped with some sesame seed twigs. The recipe is posted on her blog, click the thai salad word to get to it. You can see my mending thumb here also, the poor thing is purple and usually cold, but lately the right color is beginning to come back which is a good sign of circulation and proper healing. The wrap continues down onto my wrist to keep it in the proper place to mend.

I also made a simple salad in which I add fruit to, I never measure, just chop whatever and put my fav basic cole slaw dressing on it.

I like this best on broccoli salad, shredded carrot salad, and cole slaw. Just whisk it smooth in the small magic blender cup. Combine:
1/2 C favorite lite mayo
2-3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 tsp KAL brand stevia extract powder

APPLES (they are an Irish Thing too!):
The bakehouse has an apple tree that bears fruit every second year. Last year was one of them. I made some s/f free (stevia sweetened) apple pie filling. Although I had some grand ideas on what I could do with this, so far I have been enjoying it straight from the jar or warmed and topped with some cold vanilla soy yogurt and granola. Someday I want to make small hand held pies with it. Here's my granola and yogurt topped treat:

Last, but not lease, here's a picture of the cat we are still fostering for the PALS organization. SOPHIE is adoptable. She was the mother of the second batch of kittens we fostered and found homes for around Thanksgiving. She is cuddling up on my rocking chair, such a sweet kitty.

For now I hope everyone is enjoying their spring recess (if you have one) and is staying safe from the tragic path of tornadoes that recently ripped through a section of the Midwest. We have had some absolutely wonderful weather here... today a bit chilly with drizzle (blustery), but early this week we were sitting in the 80's!


bazu said...

OH, Dori, congrats on everything- healing thumb, husband's promotion (well deserved, I'm sure!), weekend getaway...

Your cat is so cute! I love the thoughts that she guards the blog while you're gone.

And the food, as always, is inspiring.

Have a great weekend!

erica said...

Congratulations! On your thumb, your job, and DH's promotion.

That cat is very regal looking, it says "Pardon me, but do you have any Grey Pupon?"

How crazy about your weather, does it always swing so drasticaly like that? The highest we've had was I think almost 70 yesterday, but it's raining again. My lil' chard plants are an inch high, I have little bean and pea plants, and I finally got the rhubarbs planted and some carrot and tea herbs (chamomile, mint, etc.). I have lots more to plant, but as I'm digging up the yard it's slow going, especially because it's like an archeological expedition in the depths of my lawn. But, it's great to be outside in the fresh air flexing my muscles. Now I'm taking a few weeks off digging to do a tile project, I'll most likely blog about it. Wish me luck on that one (although, I have tiled before, so I'm sure it will be fine. Just, you know, a LOT of elbow grease.)

Anonymous said...

A broken thumb and you still typed all of this? Wow!!! Congratulations on all the new and great news. I love the simplicity of the sweet/sour mayo dressing. I've never found a cole slaw dressing I really liked and I can't wait to give this one a try. The apple pie feeling looks delicious and just perfect for a quick dessert.

Veg-a-Nut said...

Welcome back! It is good to hear from your. I hope the doctor visit for your thumb is an A+. Congrats to both of you on your new promotion and contract. When our youngest moved to the dorm it was very emotional for me. I was a wreck! Hang in there it will be ok. Awesome adventure for your daughter. She sounds very talented and blessed. I love the kitty. I wish I lived closer, I just want to pick her up and hold her. She looks so soft.

Yum-O on the food. The sweet and sour dressing sounds good. Our whole foods finally got more of the Kal-stevia powder. I do like it better than the liquid in most recipes. The split pea soup sounds delish! Yeepee for your weekend getaway. Enjoy!!!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on all the new and great news. thanks for the recipes!

Mikaela said...

The food looks wonderful, as always, but I really love the kitty photos :) Congratulations and celebrations to you and hubby, enjoy your mini-holiday.

My son's birthday (his 10th - we're moving into the double digits) is next week, so I especially feel you on the "growing up stuff makes me emotional." Sigh, is right!

aTxVegn said...

I'm so glad to hear all your great news! I love when springtime brings renewal and happiness.

I made Tofu Mom's thai salad too and loved it. I can't wait to serve alongside some spicy grilled veggie kabobs!

Jackie said...

Congrats on all the good things happening in your lives at the moment and glad to hear it's not going to be much longer before your thumb is fully healed.

Snowball is too cute and I am sure Sophie should get homed soon as she is such a beautiful cat.

We have finally got stevia powder here but it is extremely expensive. I really must get some though as I would love to try the Sweet/Sour Mayo Dressing and badly need to cut down on my sugar intake.

Winter just around the corner and the nights getting quite chilly so the recipe for the Sicilean Split Pea Soup will really come in handy.

Dori said...

Thanks for the congrats all. We were very pleased with the way everything on "our plate" is turning out.

Bazu, I think a blog guard is a nice thing to have also.

Erica, the weather here is very dramatic. Despite the fact that we had 80 degree weather for two days at the first of this week, next week is looking like highs in the 20's. This kind of weather is typical in "tornado alley" Midwest. This year is a bit more dramatic than usual because I have heard reports that the tornado count is three times higher this year than it has been in years past.

VV - I hope you find a dressing you'd like to try soon.

V-Nut - I bet m kitty would love you to be closer for a good ear scratchin' also.

Mikeala - we'll just have to get to together for a great food feast to celebrate our emotional grow times.

Jackie - I love hearing about our seasonal differences. You must be on exactly the other side of the world as me.

Johanna - hope you enjoy the recipes.

Melody Polakow said...

Dori, I'm so glad to see you back in the blogland.. I feel so bad for you about your thumb.

Congrats to your husband!! .. and to you for your job offer! Life is sure moving along for you all.

enjoy your weekend of shopping and togetherness!

Shananigans said...

Congrats on all the wonderful changes happening all around you! Glad to hear your thumb is on the mend.

I think I may try your slaw dressing. I don’t generally like cole slaw, but I think I just don’t like the way others tend to prepare it. I bet with some tweaking I could make one I like, especially since I’m developing an appreciation of cabbage. I think apples would be an awesome addition to slaw, or maybe even dried cranberries.

Love that picture of Sophie! So cute.

madeinalaska said...

congrats on everything... It is nice to hear good news!

ahhh... life is good, eh?

KleoPatra said...

Dori! *HUGS* Great to see you back! Love the photo of Snowball in front of the computer, such a precious cutie. And love the photo of Sophie. She is absolutely beautiful. I wish Mattie could handle a kitty pal... *sigh* That photograph of her really captures her nicely, Dori.

Also really awesome to see that your thumb is better and that you will be getting an X-ray and hopefully good news to follow.

How nice to do the college visitation with Matthew and that he's going to do computer science. I know he has some obstacles but this is a great step for him! Wishing him well in his next endeavor. And as well, Melissa, the star track runner. Part of my job is keeping track of the local high school runners/jumpers/throwers, so i'll be curious to hear about her times, if she/you want to share. Go Melissa!! She certainly has a lot on her proverbial plate...

And as well it was great to read the news about "D" and that things are getting better for him. Your daughter is wonderful to take the time to care. (But then it's not surprising given her mom!)

Congrat's to your husband!! That's some great news, Dori. And hope you have a great time to get away and celebrate!! How totally fun.


And thanks for the food photos and recipes and stories to go with them. The lime smoothie really tempts me, as do the chik'n cutlets of Bryanna's. (She's so stellar, isn't she?) Everything, as always, looks fantastic!

Happy travels to you...

Carrie™ said...

Dori, you amaze me with your seemingly boundless energy. You seem to have a very busy home life and teaching schedule. Where you find the time for cooking, baking, canning, gardening, etc. is beyond me. Add blogging about all of it on top of that and you are one amazing lady!

Amy O'Neill Houck said...

Congratulations! Love that kitty picture. :-)

theONLYtania said...

Happy doctor/x-ray day! Hope it goes well. That's great about your hubby's job, and your job too! And good luck to Matthew in the dorms next year! I'm sure he will like it. That's so great about Melissa running, I like to run too. She sounds really well-rounded :)
The food all looks like (as usual) I'm curious about how that lime smoothie turned out.
I wouldn't be able to foster kitties.. I'd become too attached. Talk to you soon!

theONLYtania said...

Er.. food looks good* :-P

Urban Vegan said...

Looks like everything's on the up-and-up in Dori's house. Congrats to the hubster on the promotion and to you on your school gig! I believe it's good karma coming back your way for all the good that you do.
[Like the kitty tending, to name just one thing.]

Enjoy your celebration getaway and all that luscous food you preserve, cook an share.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to you and your hubby! Sounds like a lot of changes in The Bakehouse household. I firmly believe that all change is good. I'm glad your thumb is healing and hopefully back in perfect working order soon.

Kate said...

Wow Dori what a great post, so much food and so much to report. Your family is so lucky to have a mom and wife who is so devoted to the things that go on in their lives.

laura jesser said...

How wonderful to see you back!!! And congratulations on all the wonderful things that are happening with you and your family... I enjoy reading about your bountiful food harvests, and I was glad to be able to dive back in with this post! I love apple pie filling... yum.

Veg-a-Nut said...

Hi Dori,
Just checking in letting you know you are loved. Hope you had a wonderful time and are healing more everyday. Miss you

Tanya Kristine said...

i love your kitties Dori. they look so utterly content. you're a good mommy! and a good cook!!