Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bag O Meat

While my husband and I were enjoying a glass of wine, (Arnold Palmer 2005 Napa Vally Cabernet Sauvignon....very nice at about $11.99) on the deck of our good friend's house, our daughter was helping our son locate his lost bag of meat. "He is such a boy" she said as she retold how she watched him open the refrigerator and stare at the contents until he made his decision on what he wanted to snack on. He reached in a pulled out the plate of leftover Marinated Flank Steak that we had for dinner the night before. He began stuffing a zip-loc sandwich bag with the meat. "Is that all you're going to eat?" she asked. "Yep, that's all I want" he replied. She went to the door to let the dog out and he walked off to get his lacrosse stick. When he came back he asked her "Did you see what I did with my bag of meat? I can't find it." She said he was going to go off without it when she stopped him and said "You can't just leave with a lost bag of meat somewhere in the house!" "Why not?" he asked. "Because it'll start to smell and what about flies?!" So they searched for a good 10 minutes trying to locate the missing meat. Turns out he set it on top of the refrigerator. When he found it, he grabbed it, crammed a piece into his mouth, and shuffled out the door with his lacrosse stick in one hand and his bag o meat in the other. Mystery solved.

Open Faced Bacon, Avocado, and Tomato Sandwich with Feta Cheese

I had this for lunch today. I love making this in the summer time with fresh tomatoes from the garden. In the colder months....I love to use Campari tomatoes. They have great flavor year round.

Open Faced Bacon, Avocado, and Tomato Sandwich with Feta Cheese (Serves 2)

4 slices of Italian bread, toasted
6 slices of cooked bacon
1 half of an avocado, sliced very thin
1 tomato, sliced thin
Feta cheese crumbles

Toast the bread and then place some of the avocado slices on the bread. Break the bacon slices in half and add them on top of the avocado. Add the tomato slices. Sprinkle with the Feta cheese crumbles. Salt and Pepper to taste.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bayley Hazen Blue

I finally unwrapped my little package of the most fabulous cheese that I have tasted in a long time! It is Bayley Hazen Blue cheese from Jasper Hills Farm in Greensboro, Vermont! Absolutely delicious.

I spent this past Friday doing one of my favorite things.....milling about the wonderful Southern Seasons in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. http://www.southernseason.com/ This store has absolutely everything in the way of food, kitchen gadgets, wine, cheese, bread, pastries and cakes, a fabulous deli and specialty meats, teas, coffees, candy, and entertaining supplies. It has atmosphere and carries everything your local grocery store does not. Samples of the Bayley Hazen Blue were offered and one little bite of it on a cracker hooked me. I bought a small piece and could kick myself because now that I opened it....I can tell it will not last long. I should have bought a bigger piece! I served it on a sliced pear and the two together are really something special.

Ed, Farrah, and Michael

What a week it has been. First Ed McMahon, then Farrah Fawcett, and now Michael Jackson. These things really do seem to come in threes. Loosing Ed McMahon was sad in a loosing a grandparent way. Lots of TV memories of growing up.....staying up late enough to see the Johnny Carson Show was a treat as a kid. Then I remember watching him on Star Search. He was an entertainer for the older generation but we all knew who he was.
Then came the sad news about Farrah Fawcett. She was beautiful and although you knew she had been fighting cancer....the news of her death was sad. I just couldn't watch the special they had on TV showing that fight. I couldn't take it when I saw her drug addicted and now in jail son Redmond come to see her in his orange convict jumpsuit. She had a complicated life but was fascinating to me because she was just so damn pretty.
Then this weekend....Michael Jackson. What a brilliant entertainer and what a mess of a man.
All very sad and I hope everyone they left behind....their family, friends and fans are able to move through the sad days ahead.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

Everyone in my family loves this and I have been making it since my kids were little. And yes it is a great way to use up over ripe bananas. If you want to reduce the calories.....substitute apple sauce for the sour cream without much difference in the taste or texture. The chocolate chips pretty much hold their shape and do not sink to the bottom of the batter. The batter is kind of thick. It never lasts more than a day.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

1/2 cup butter ( 1 stick), softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup apple sauce or sour cream
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 very ripe bananas)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Cream butter and gradually add sugar. Add bananas. Add eggs. Mix well.
Combine flour and baking soda and add to the creamed mixture. Add the apple sauce or sour cream. Add the vanilla. Mix well but do not over beat.

Pour the batter into a greased 9 inch square baking pan. Sprinkle the top with the chocolate chips till well covered. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Use a tester to make sure it is done in the middle...add a few extra minutes if you need to.


I watched Jon and Kate Plus 8 on TLC last night and witnessed the announcement that they have decided to separate. And actually, the news today is that they have taken it a step further and have filed divorce papers. It is all so sad really and very predictable. I don't have the strong opinions about Kate as a lot of people seem to and people are quick to blame her for the whole mess. She is considered a "shrew" by many and Jon was considered way too passive. Mix in a little bit of fame and fortune and throw in a few tabloid magazine covers and like Emmeril said in one of their last episodes......BAM!

I can understand why two very young and inexperienced parents of eight itty bitty children would sign on to do the show. It offered some financial stability and made their life a "mission". As their success and audience grew so did the possibility of it all blowing up in their faces down the line. I first started watching JaK+8 when my daughter invited me to sit down and watch it with her. My high school daughter thought it was a cute show and so did I. It felt a bit like watching home videos and it took me back to when my own kids were that age. Finally a cute and wholesome show that I could watch with my kids and not worry about cringing at the content.

Sadly, reality has taken over and I don't see much of a future for the show or for the Gosselin family. Money will become a big issue for them once again. How do they sustain this new lifestyle to which they have all become accustomed? The lightheartedness of the show is all but gone and my heart is heavy. I now have worries for those adorable kids and anxiety for their parents about how they are going to make their new situation work. This family won the lottery and look where it has taken them. Too much "fame and fortune" or "money is the root of all evil".....take your pick. Both apply in this sad situation.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Longest Trip Home by John Grogan

A little bit of excitement showed up in our email box this morning. It was a response to an email my husband had sent to John Grogan the author of The Longest Trip Home and Marley and Me. Imagine the author of two extremely successful books taking the time to write back! That made our Sunday morning.

I purchased The Longest Trip Home from Amazon.com a couple of weeks ago as an early Father's Day gift for my husband because I had read that it was about the author's life growing up in a Catholic family in the Detroit area. The author grew up in West Bloomfield, Michigan which is the next town over from where I grew up in Union Lake. So I knew that both my husband and I would both see things in the book that would remind us of our childhoods.

Jim read aloud parts of the book to me as we sat on our deck the other night drinking wine. I was surfing the net and he was reading his book. Jim could relate to all the Catholic school references and I related to the all the locations like Dodge Park, Orchard Lake, West Bloomfield, Keego Harbor and Central Michigan University. We both related to what it was like to grow up in the 70's in the Detroit area. I kept teasing Jim to let me know when he got to the part about "the hot blonde" working at Happy Hour Party Shoppe in Keego Harbor because that "hot blonde" would be me! Funny, but he never came across that sentence in the book. Jim mentioned that I worked there when I was in High School in his email telling him how much he enjoyed the book and when John Grogan wrote him back he said he remembered the Happy Hour Party Shoppe well! "Hot blonde" reference or not, that made my day!

Click Here to check out this great book!


Saturday, June 20, 2009

In a Pickle

So here is my dilemma.....I have pickles to sell. Wonderful pickles that are crisp and not too sweet and not too sour. Little children and dogs love them....well, maybe not dogs.....and plenty of grown ups ask me when the pickles will be ready. I have one neighbor who tells me all the time that I need to sell them. He insists that I could be on Donny Deutsch's show "The Big Idea" and I want to believe him! But, after much research I have liability worries on my mind. Of course I discover all this liability information after I enthusiastically ordered 250 plastic containers to try and save money over the glass canning jars that I usually use.

I have a farmer's market available to me and was primed to start pickle production for the Saturday morning markets this summer but that all came to a screeching halt when I saw the nasty word "Listeria" in one of the online articles I was researching. You see, my pickles are not cooked.....that is what makes them so crisp and delicious. And since I can't control how the farmers grow the cucumbers that I buy at the big farmer's market....I would be taking a risk.
Grow your own cucumbers you might say. I do. But my little suburban garden can only grow so many and I need cucumbers all summer long. I have to supplement with crops from the larger Farmer's Market. It is sad really. But the reality is that lawsuits are real and the amount of money I would make selling my pickles would not make it worth the aggravation. I am too much of a realist. And I don't have the blind pickle ambition it would take. So, I will just continue making my pickles for family and friends and that is good enough for now.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Every one's got to start somewhere. So why not with an appetizer??? My good friend told me these were fantastic the other day and I have to admit.....they are very good! Since my introduction into the fascinating world of cheese I have learned one thing. There is no substitute for Parmigiano Reggiano. These are not only delicious....they are beautiful to look at. I think using a "Microplane "Grater for the Parmesan is key. It gets the cheese so fine and it falls like snow over the whole platter. I will someday post a photo as soon as my daughter teaches me how to upload!! Enjoy this one...it is fabulous!!


1 package of french bread toast rounds. (or you can get a skinny french baugette, slice into mini round, and toast them in the oven. I used to do this but always seemed to burn them. The plain french bread toasts are so much easier!)

6 plum tomatoes, diced
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
4 or 5 fresh basil leaves, roll up and slice into ribbons
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated (the stuff in the green can is okay too :) )
Mix the all the ingredients except the Pamesan cheese together in a bowl. Then take the Microplane Grater and run it over the Parmesan cheese and add to the bowl. If you don't have a Microplane grater a regular one is fine. (And actually, the Pamesan in the tall green can is fine and I have used it in a pinch.) You will add approximately 1/4 cup of fluffy cheese. Mix it in. Set the french bread toasts on a platter. Spoon a bit of the tomato mixture on to each toast. Take the Microplane Grater once again and grate the Parmesan over the entire platter. Buon Appetito :)