Wednesday, October 03, 2007

With the Best of Intentions

. . . so of course I meant to post while I was out visiting, but you know how those things work. So many people to see, so many things to do! I had a delightful little break from my normal life (the hausfrau life, if you will), and got to visit with people I love dearly.

I began my trip visiting the town we just moved from, and got to see the friends we most recently took for granted. Fun to eat all the various foods for which that town is famous, especially my very favorite lentil wraps at the local lesbian-anarchist diner.

From there, off to Indiana to visit with the BFF Forever (har), where I taught her that PIZZA DOESN'T HAVE TO HAVE MARINARA SAUCE. We enjoyed a very civilized leek-and-goat cheese "tart" and the banter that we somehow slip into every time we get together.

I then settled in for a long visit to my hometown and my parents, which was lovely and relaxing. Visited with friends, enjoyed the most amazing appetizer with Robu (Steak, gorgonzola, red onion, and tomato crostini). Delicious. My folks drove me back to SmallMountainTown, and we had a perfect long weekend together--hiking, food, drinks, a bit of shopping . . . very low-key, which is what we like.

We did take a day trip to the historically preserved miner's village where some of my ancestors emigrated to from Ireland and worked. It was haunting to walk those streets, imagining a thick coat of coal dust covering everything, and contemplating the nearly unthinkable poverty in which they lived. Really a day to remember.

After such a long stretch of traveling and company, I barely mustered the strength to cook dinner last night (especially after doing four loads of laundry). I have a ton of pasta recipes on here, but I strongly believe that a handful of infinitely variable pasta recipes can get anyone through the busiest (and budget-limited) of times.

My Mother-In-Law sent me a recipe for pasta with dried plums and pecans a while ago and I'd had it in the back of my mind. I substituted walnuts for the pecans (though pecans would have been lovely) and added sauteed kale for nutrition's sake and for its very complimentary bitterness.

Pasta with Dried Plums, Kale, Walnuts, and Gorgonzola
1 lb. whole-wheat pasta (short is good)
2 T. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. kale, torn into bite-sized pieces, washed
1/2 cup dried plums (prunes), chopped
4 T. walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/2 to 2/3 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions, scooping out some of the pasta cooking water just before draining. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add kale, cover and steam, tossing occasionally until bright green and partially wilted. Season with salt and pepper, saute without lid to evaporate most of the excess liquid. Add the other ingredients and toss well, using pasta cooking water to moisten if necessary.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


It's amazing to me that no matter if I am working or staying at home, I find a way to fill my days. Since our move, I have been one of the unemployed. Gladly. In fact, it's been a nice vacation (once our stuff was unpacked, anyway). Because I worked these past few years while Our Hero was in school, he's urging me to take it easy and relax a while. For the past month, I've happily obliged.

Perhaps my most highly anticipated "vacation" excitement is a trip I'll be embarking upon this Friday. We'll drive up to our OldHome and stay with dear friends for the weekend. Monday, Our Hero becomes DR. Our Hero, which is such a happy happy occasion (once the committee is through with him). Tuesday I'm off to visit my BFF Forever, and then spending time in HomeTown with my parents.

I know being far from family and friends is a fact of modern life, but I find that fact combined with the reality of full-time jobs' vacation allowances (even the good companies!) makes it difficult to see your family when your family isn't in the area. So with that in mind, I am taking full advantage of this job-free time and hanging out with some of the people I love most.

I fully intend to cook and post as I travel. Drea will be getting some food, and I think I'm up to the challenge to cook salt-free for my Pops. But for now, I'm enjoying chatting about the day with Our Hero over a simple meal made with market-fresh ingredients.

This high-protein recipe comes from Simplicity from a Monastery Kitchen by Brother Victor-Antoine d'Avila-Latourrette, kindly via M. Thanks, M!

Stuffed Red Peppers Basque Style
3 good-size red peppers
1 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 hard-boiled eggs, crumbled
One 8-oz. can light tuna fish, drained and crumbled
6 sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Fresh bread crumbs, to taste (I used 1 slice whole-wheat bread)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the peppers lengthwise in halves (including the stems). Scoop out the seeds and ribs. Put pepper halves into a greased ovenproof dish.

Pour the oil into a skillet, Add the onion and garlic and saute briefly over medium-low heat for a couple of minutes. Combine the onion-garlic mixtures in a bowl with all of the remaining ingredients except the bread crumbs. Mix well.

Stuff each pepper half with the mixture. Cover each top with bread crumbs, and bake uncovered for about 25 minutes.

Happy to Be Back!

Thank you for your well wishes, your demands (ahem, Drea), and your patience! Here I am! First, a short digest of what's been going on.

A move (we all felt this way):

Beautiful new surroundings (Our Hero and I have climbed that mountain several times now!):

Aaaaand, a high-speed chase ended in our front yard. No better way to meet the neighbors, I say. You can't see it in this (very poor quality) picture, but the truck hit THREE trees in our yard, like a pinball. Amazing. It was all complete with the guy attempting to escape. Very surreal.

Indeed, things are well. Our Hero has started his work nurturing the minds of the young, and I have been puttering, filing, labeling, budgeting, alternately panicking and relaxing, reading, hiking, swimming, and . . . cooking of course!

I'm excited to get the blog rolling here again as we ease into harvest season. Farmers' Markets here are plentiful, and this weekend I spied the first squash of the season! My father made the mistake of calling me and asking what to do with a squash, and I'm afraid I went on and on and on and on, exciting myself as I shared about pasta sauces, soups, pizzas . . . I'm doing it again. Better quit while I'm ahead.

In any event, I will be posting regularly again, and can smell my next post finishing up in the oven as I write. Stay tuned, I'm getting in touch with my roots by making Basque-style stuffed peppers.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

. . . Coming Soon!

After a bit of internet-access frustration and the all-around craziness of finding your way around a new town and settling into a new place, we have a date for internet service: August 30th! Barring any unforseen problems, I will be returning to the fold then! Miss you all . . . xxxooo

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Thanks for your well-wishes!

We have arrived safely here in MyTown, Part Two. The house still resembles a disaster area, and my internet access is spotty at best.

Thank you for all your happy thoughts, keep sending 'em our way! Be back to posting (hopefully) in a few weeks!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Movin' on up

I am busy wrapping things up at work, and then we must begin the ardous tasks involved in preparing to move to another state. We move in two-and-a-half weeks, and the stress has already begun.

If I have the time and resources, I will try to post, but it may be a little sparse until August. Be gentle! Come back and check soon!

Thursday, July 05, 2007


I had a freezer bag full of chipotle chiles in adobo leftover from another recipe; I had two cans of chickpeas and a languishing lime. From these meager beginnings, I made perhaps one of the most addictive snacks ever to find its way out of my Cuisinart. This isn't really a hummous, more of a chickpea spread that doubles easily as a dip.

I have a sick love for both chickpeas and spice, which could be easily construed as an addiction, and this stuff really feeds my need.

Of late, I've been struggling with a herniated disc in my lower back, and have recently made a decision to try cutting sugar from my diet, which is an inflammatory and may be making my pain worse. As much as I am not a sweet-craver (I prefer salty on about a four-to-one ratio), having yummy snacks like this around make it a little easier to pass on a bit of frozen yogurt or honey-drizzled banana. I don't know how this whole no-sugar thing will work out, but if I keep getting to eat this stuff, I think I'll be able to cope.

Chipotle-Chickpea Spread
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2-4 canned chipotle peppers (depending on your preferred level of spice)
1 T. adobo sauce
Juice from 1/2 lime
3 T. olive oil
Low-fat yogurt, as needed

Combine chickpeas, chipotle, adobo, lime juice, and olive oil in a food processor. Process until pureed. Season with salt to taste, add yogurt or olive oil as needed to reach desired consistency. Allow flavors to meld in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.