Don’t call me Shirley

Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Happy Meatless Monday!

Tonight my family celebrated Meatless Monday with scalloped potatoes (sans ham) and green beans.  Yum!

Mom learned about this new campaign from NPR, of course.  You can listen while you multitask, or you can read more about it here:  www.meatlessmonday.com

About the idea:  “Our goal is to help you reduce your meat consumption by 15% in order to improve your personal health and the health of the planet.”

There are also meatless recipe suggestions to get you started.  Check it out!

Buon Appetito a Boston

As always when I travel, I seek to experience a new place through its best culinary offerings.  I had superb curry in Chinatown; delectable spinach ricotta brioche; homemade ice cream; homemade frozen yogurt; stupendous Italian food enjoyed by the window overlooking the North End (wish I hadn’t eaten so much so that I’d have had room for Mike’s!); long, delicious Easter brunch of apple brie omelette and sweet potato fries (I have to admit here that the service was TERRIBLE, but the food was outrageously good); savory pub food; and scrumptious chocolate treats towards the end of my journey.  YUM!!!  Thanks, Boston!  And thanks, of course, to my fabulous tour guide!

Girls With Glasses are Sweet Like Molasses

Aren’t they just?  I spent the past five days with my best friend, Monica, up in Boston where she is finishing her second year of seminary.  The post title above was shouted at us by a creepy Boston Red Sox fan as we tenaciously shoved our way through the crowd at Fenway for some delicious local frozen yogurt down the block.  Monica swears she heard a less polite word that also rhymes with “glasses,” but then the quote would not accurately sum up my trip.

I stayed with Mo in her delightful unair-conditioned room at the Boston University Theology House, and remembered all of the reasons that I loved living with her.  Her room overlooks the Charles River and is situated on the 3rd floor of a strikingly charming (read “old”) mansion with enough crown molding and architectural features to make any HGTV host wet themselves.  Unfortunately, I always failed to remember to take pictures seeing as how I always wound up light-headed after climbing the 7 flights of stairs to reach Monica’s room.


Chicken ‘n’ Dumplins

It’s not as difficult as you might guess!


Chicken (2 thighs, 2 breast for optimal meat output and flavor)

Salt and Pepper to taste, 2 tsp Rosemary (optional)

1/4 vegetable shortening

3/4 cup boiling water

1.  Cook the chicken.  If you have a pressure cooker, this is a great way to make it happen quickly; otherwise, cover chicken with water (1.5-2 qts), add salt, pepper, and I like to add 2 tsp rosemary.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cook covered for one hour or until thigh juices run clear and breasts have no pink.  (Tip: Since thighs take longer to cook, frozen breasts and fresh thighs can cook together beautifully.)

2. Cool chicken.  Cut meat from bone.  Set aside.

3.  Strain the now delicious chicken broth you’ve created and measure 1 qt + 1 cup broth (this amount matters) back into large saucepan.  Bring to a boil and add the chicken.

4. Pour self-rising flour in large bowl.  Cut in shortening.  Add boiling water, a small amount at a time.  Shape mixture into a ball.  Roll out.  (THIN is very important or you will have tough dumplings…definitely no more than 1/4 inch, maybe thinner.  Remember since they have self-rising flour, they will puff up plenty.)  Cut out dumplings (1.5 inch squares work well).

5. Drop dumplings into broth/chicken mix.  (Tip:  drop only 2-4 at a time or they will stick and become chicken and one dumpling.  Also, it helps tremendously to have a buddy, or your left hand, to use a spatula to push down existing dumplings in the pot to expose plenty of fabulous boiling broth for the incoming dumplings.  As soon as the new ones hit the broth for 2-3 seconds, they are far less likely to stick to each other.)

6.  Cook until mixture thickens as desired and dumplings are tasty.  (Tip:  Stir occasionally because dumplings love to burn and become permanent additions to the bottom of your favorite pot.  Trust me.)


Yay Strawberry Season! Part 3

Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

1/4 c. sugar

2 c. flour

2 t. baking powder

1 t. salt

1/4 t. soda

6 T. shortening

3/4 c. buttermilk

Sift dry ingredients.  Cut in shortening.  Add milk and stir with fork.  Put dough in two round, glass pie pans.  Bake in 450 degree oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Strawberry Topping:

Crush about 1/2 lb of strawberries (I use a potato masher).  Add half-and-half (don’t ask me how much… I really don’t know…about 1 cup?) and sugar to taste.

To Thoroughly Enjoy:

Cut yourself a wedge of shortcake and slice it through the middle as if to make two pieces of “bread” for a strawberry sandwich.  Layer some delicious strawberry slurry/topping stuff on the bottom layer of shortcake.  Put the top back on.  Add more strawberry goodness.  Add dollop of whipped cream.  Taste heaven in strawberry form!


Yay Strawberry Season! Part 2

Strawberry Ice Cream Recipe

1 lb (apprx 1 qt.) frozen strawberries, finely chopped

1 cup brown sugar

7/8 cup plain sugar

1 qt half-and-half

6 cups of 2% milk

Mix, Freeze, Enjoy!


Yay Strawberry Season! Part 1

Recipe for Strawberry Pie

1 pie crust, baked and cooled

Cook until thick:  1 cup sugar, 2 Tbsp cornstarch, 1 cup water

Remove from heat.  Add 4 Tbsp strawberry jello.  Stir well until completely dissolved.  Let mixture cool completely, stirring occasionally.

Lay sliced, drained strawberries in pie shell. (Approx. 1/2 qt, leaving some space for liquid mixture.)

Pour mixture over strawberries.

Chill at least 3 hours.

Enjoy with whipped cream on top!  Yum!


Thanksgiving 2008

Without a doubt my favorite holiday all year, and this one was one for the books.

For starters, this one lasted 8 days!

On Friday, November 21 Michael and I joined a few of his colleagues in the world’s tiniest uptown apartment with the world’s most adorable weiner dog, Rascal.  There were 13 of us all total, and although there was barely enough room for all of our elbows and knees, there was an incredible spread.  The desserts were particularly impressive, including peanut butter cookies, a pumpkin roll, and a ratio of almost one pie per person!

The very next day, Michael and I joined forces with all of the Great Housemates to fill two long tables with yet another impressive buffet of Turkey Day foods.  Michael and I combined two recipes from Barefoot Contessa (despite the fact that I hate to watch her show), and made the most delicious, juicy, flavorful turkey we ate of all the turkeys I had this year.  Cameron made an outstanding corn souffle and swears it wasn’t hard to make, and I thought it was delicious until I learned that it had sour cream in it….  Nathan made his famous mac and cheese, Shun made a particularly good batch of banana puddin from scratch, and Griffin made some of the most flavorful and fluffy potatoes I’ve had in a while.  Nathan’s Emily made some yummy cranberries soaked in OJ and a bit of sugar which made a tasty after dinner treat.  My batch of Great Granny Beamer’s rolls did not rise very well, and I was beginning to feel discouraged about my abilities….but more about this in a moment.

Thanksgiving Number 3 was on Thanksgiving day with the Phelps, my mom’s folks.  Michael was able to make it again this year, but Charlotte and Justis stayed home since Charlotte wasn’t feeling too hot.  (We missed you, hon!)  For the first year ever, Pappaw was not feeling well enough to produce his usually high quality fruit stuff, but Mammaw filled that hole in my tummy with fluffy potatoes, asparagus casserole, and cranberry apple dessert.  Sadly, I controlled my portions since my tummy has been on the fritz again, but what little I ate was perfect.  We scurried on from there to visit my dad’s mom in the hospital, which wasn’t the best of circumstances, but she was lively as ever with her stories of the past.

Thanksgiving Number 4 was at home in Greensboro.  My dad made his scrumptuous from-scratch stuffing, and I was proud of how my brussel sprouts turned out.  (Even those who ordinarily turn up their noses couldn’t resist!)  My mom also gave me some pointers on how to produce the fluffiest of rolls…. and then she gave a whole set of ceramic bowls!! (Which I learned are necessary for roll success cause they keep the dough nice and warm while it rises.)  It was nice to see Aunt Amy, Uncle Steve, Sarah, Alec, and Robin, but we missed Charlotte, Justis, Leah, and of course Grandpa and Granny (still in the hospital).  At least it made me grateful for those who could be there.

Finally, we had Thanksgiving Number 5 on Saturday, November 29 with Michael’s mom.  She went all out with an appetizer tray and several entrees, but my favorite part was when she taught me how to decorate the turkey-shaped cake!  She gave me lots of great pointers, and I had a blast.  It turned out pretty well for my first try.

Part of the glory of so many Thanksgivings was plenty of opportunities of making turkey hash out of the leftovers!  Turkey hash is the kinda thing that only my dad would think to try.  You dump equal parts of chopped up turkey, leftover dressing, and leftover gravy into a saucepan.  Add a little bit of water until the whole thing looks like dog food and is warm through.  Then enjoy one of the most delightful leftover meals you can imagine.  Yum!  Seriously!

Finally, turkey-ed out, MIchael and I spent a turkey-free day with Nancy and Randy (Michael’s other mom and dad) and their three sweet dogs.  My favorite of course is Abby, a boxer who knows she’s a lap dog, despite many warnings to the contrary.  She attempted to follow the rules at least a little bit by keeping her hind legs barely touching the floor, and all of the rest of her body in my lap so that she was technically not on the couch.  Tee hee.  She kept her nose and my lap warm as we watched Son of Rambow, an adorable and strange coming of age film that you really ought to check out if you’re in the mood for a giggle.  Then Nancy, Randy, Michael, and I went for a yummy dinner at the Irish pub Ri-Ra before scooting off to a concert at Blumenthal Theatre.  We saw Mannheim Steamroller in all of it’s 1970s glory.

As a bonus, of course, my 8-day Thanksgiving was even brighter by the fact that I have no lesson planning or grading duties at the moment.  I finally got the guts to resign, and my last day was Tuesday, November 25.  It’s nice to have some time to catch up on rest, but I’m anxious to get back to work, and have begun my search for a non-French elementary position this time.  I’ll keep y’all posted.

Love to all, especially everyone involved in my best Thanksgiving ever.

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Vive le weekend

Michael, Shun, and I went up to Chapel Thrill this weekend to go to Michelle’s baby shower and to visit as many lovely peoples as possible.  Last night Bert and Kate recommended Ted’s Montana Grill for dinner.  I was not optimistic as it seemed a little pricey and like it would be the type of place to have ginormous portions, but I was delightfully surprised.

The humongous bison head mounted on the wall seemed a bit ominous, but the marvelous mission of this restaurant soon became apparent.  We sat down to a table covered with a recycled paper table cloth, and were quickly served our drinks with thick paper drinking straws.  This place is entirely green friendly!  We then got to taste a sample of their bison pot roast and gravy, which I wasn’t sure I was cool about… until I tasted it!  Bison is apparently much like beef, yet far less fatty.  It was delicious.

I was almost unable to choose from the vast number of tempting entrees until Michael suggested that I pick the first one I’d seen and that we’d return soon to try the others.  So I enjoyed the bison pot roast and gravy with a side of  mashed potatoes and fresh sauteed green beans.  I also helped myself to a taste of Michael’s cedar plank salmon (the best salmon I’ve ever had) and Kate’s tuna.  I didn’t taste a thing that wasn’t divine!

Delicious food plus great service plus a green attitude equaled one of the most enjoyable meals I’ve had in a long time!

Then as if the night couldn’t get better, we decided to head out to Four Corners for a few drinks.  Michael grabbed us some trivia game consoles so that we could play along with the TV in the bar.  Normally (as Monica can attest after much experience), I am lousy at trivia.  However, armed with a happy attitude after dinner, I just seemed to be totally on the ball… and won the game out of all the players in the whole place!  It was quite a rush to not only discover that I wasn’t necessarily useless at trivia, but also to WIN!  This called for a celebratory drink!  Several in fact…

The company was great (TGM, Shun, Eric, Becca, Kaitlin, and AMT), the alcohol was on someone else’s tab, and I was giggly beyond all reason.  🙂

Almost Vegan Cookies

This recipe (which, btw, I owe entirely to Monica’s brilliance) has made me quite famous in quite a few households, so I’m posting it here in case you’d like to attempt the magic on your own:

Almost Vegan Cookies*

from the kitchen of Monica and Emily

1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter

2 Tbsp. oil

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup flour

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 cup oats

½ bag chocolate chips

Cream together wet ingredients (peanut butter, oil, sugar, milk, vanilla) on medium speed until smooth. Add dry ingredients and combine. Bake on greased cookie sheets at 425˚ for 6 minutes for perfect, melt-in-your-mouth cookies. (Tbsp. sized balls work best.)

*To make this recipe truly vegan, substitute soy milk for regular milk, and use dark chocolate chips or a substitute.