Fellowship at Fatz


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Some ladies at my church and I were invited by some sisters from another church in our district to have a fellowship lunch at Fatz. It was really as enjoyable occasion. We talked, laughed, shared our stories, and just had a really good time.

I rarely eat out unless I'm out of town, so going to Fatz was another special treat. You know I had my camera stashed in my purse (not my professional one, of course) so I was able to get a couple of snapshots of some of the dishes we had the opportunity to try.

Firecracker Sticks - Appetizer (We all halved this and tried it. It was really good. So good in fact that my mom ended up ordering it for her entree. She ate two and brought the rest home to daddy. Isn't that romantic!)
Check out this hamburger presentation! This was someone else's entree!
This was my choice: shrimp cakes on a bed of stoneground grits. This was really an appetizer that I made my entree. Oh my goodness, the sauce was amazing with this!
Another person's choice - the sampler platter.I think this was probably the healthiest platter of all - grilled salmon, steamed veggies.Again, I had a really great time. And no one laughed when I whipped out my camera. They were glad that I had remembered to bring one. Everybody else forgot. So, even though it's not included on this blog, the group of us ladies took a picture together before we left. Fellowship is a good thing.

Gift Giving Tips


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One reason I believe that people of all walks of life enjoy the Christmas season is because of the gift-giving. I really don't know anyone who doesn't appreciate a good gift or even just being thought of in a way that manifests itself in the form of a gift. I love giving gifts, year-round, and I love this particular holiday. But one harsh reality to be faced is that Christmas is such a commercial holiday. Some where, some how the message got mixed up and people all over these parts of the U.S. will go to extremes to give gifts - even when their pocketbooks, checking accounts, and credit cards scream, "You have reached the limit." It is my belief that giving gifts is more about taking the time to show your appreciation for someone or fulfilling a need, rather than the price tag of the item. For that reason, let's begin to think of gift giving in a new light.

I encouraged my students to show their appreciation for their parents by making them something or doing something for them. Don't worry them about high-priced presents and such. I was going to do the same, I told them.

In this present economic crunch (which is probably an extreme understatement to say the least) one of my financial goals is to pay off the extra bills. That meant I was going to have to think creatively about giving gifts, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Here are some tips:
1. If you have a particular craft, share your love by making something for your loved ones (i.e. knit/crochet them a scarf, personalize ornaments [I've seen wonders worked with lightbulbs and felt! Kids can be creative.])

2. Make a collage of pictures of your friends or loved ones from different times in the year and give it to them. The memories will last forever and it gives you a time to reminisce about those days!

3. Scan old pictures from those photo albums your grandma won't let outside of her house. Surprise your parents with their grade school pictures.

4. Spend time with someone. Go for a walk with them or help them bake cookies. It doesn't matter what you're doing (just make it legal) as long as you're spending *quality* time with them.

5. Study the person you're giving a gift to. If you choose to spend some money, buy them something that goes to a specific interest of theirs. Even if it costs $2 but it's something they need or really like, they'll appreciate it. (For example, my aunt who is a seamstress noticed my interest in sewing and bought a few small items that people who sew ALWAYS need like needles, basic colors of thread, interfacing. Another example is this. Mom mom bought some blank sheet paper and guitar pics for my cousin who is fascinated with guitar. He really enjoyed that gift.)

6. Buy group gifts, don't personalize so much. So in essence, buy a present that the entire family can use or enjoy.

7. Do a gift swap. Draw names and buy only one present for the person's name you drew.

* Numbers 6 and 7 will work particularly well if you come from a big family such as I. My dad is one of 17 children, so you know I have hoards of cousins. And that's just my dad's side.

Seven represents completeness so I won't post any more tips.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Now I'm off to finish cooking these three heads of collards that were given to me for Christmas from a family from church. Now that was a good gift!

(BTW, that pocket book up there was made by my friend Mary from neck ties. How genius!)

Dinner with Andry


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Last night my friend Andry came over to my house for dinner and for studying. This time I had the opportunity to introduce her to some southern style cooking. The meal was simple for the sake of time. I cooked for her some collard greens and barbecued chicken wings. She made the rice, Peruvian style which basically was sauteed garlic and rice and then simmered in water. It was good. I just wanted to watch the expression on her face to see if she liked collards. It was her first time tasting them.

At first she tried to see if she could find a similar taste to something from her country. Then she said, "These are not bad, I'm just trying to see if I like it." Then she moved on to the chicken wings. She didn't tell me until after I put the sauce on the wings and served them up that she and her husband didn't like the flavor of barbecue sauce. I thought I was in for trouble. But I noticed that she sucked the juice and everything else from those bones just like the rest of us and that she had cleaned her plate so well that there was nothing left but those bones. I knew it was alright because she is very forward and would just say, "No, I don't like this but thank you."

She told me that the barbecue sauce that she and her husband had was in some restaurant. She liked mine because it had a little sweetness to it. I just re-make my sauce like my mom taught me: simmer vinegar and pieces of red pepper; add ingredients like the store-bought barbecue sauce of your choice, ketchup, and a little honey or sugar; the longer it simmers the less tartness you have. I know you can make it totally from scratch, but let's face it, who has the time these days?

My mom stopped by and gave Andry one of her famous miniature sweet potato pies and I gave her some of the best sweet potatoes I know that are grown from a farmer-friend of ours. They are better than anything storebought. I felt safe that Andry would find ways to use these sweet potatoes because of being from Peru, the potato capital of the world! Some friends from church stopped by and gave me three heads of collards for Christmas and even more sweet potatoes. I told Andry to just say the word and I would cook her up some, which is what I'm doing right now.

I just love spending time with people and making new friends. I have to agree with Andry, that you can learn so much about a person's culture through their food. And now, if she decides to go back to teaching in Peru, she can now tell her students, "Yes, I've had collards before!"

* We sort of took care of all of the evidence, but this is the best of what I could muster up!

I've Been Tagged


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Ok, I've never done this before but I have been tagged by Just Be Happy. I am supposed to write 6 random things about me, so here goes:

1. I have one sibling - a brother who is 36 (4 years older than myself). We weren't the kind of kids who fought over anything more than the remote control, but we've gotten closer as we've gotten older. Sometimes I still wish I could have had a big sister, and he used to wish I'd been a boy! :-)

2. I am a fifth grade teacher. This is my 11th year of that. :-)

3. I learned to crochet from my pastor's wife. They have 4 daughters and when we had slumber parties we always had to learn something wholesome so we wouldn't spend our entire evening talking about boys!!! My first project was a granny square. I made a blanket for myself because I loved crocheting so much. I also learned latch hook, cross-stitching, and sewing at those parties. But guess what, we still found time to talk about boys!!!
My first afghan - dusty rose and Williamsburg blue

4. I hoping that Mr. Right will come in the near future and that I will be able to use my crafts in my home and be able to stay home with the children that I don't have. :-)

5. I always say that my favorite color is purple. Royalty. But I don't know why. I've grown to appreciate all colors, and I have very little purple in my closet.

6. Although I have a "career" there are so many other areas I'd like to explore: online teaching, owning a craft store with classes in the back (I know it's done, but mine would be a little different), having a photography business or at least sell my prints on notecards or something. I could go on, but there is so much more!

Oh yeah, here are the rules:
Here is how it goes:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

I know I'm supposed to pick six people, but I'll just pick two. I'd like to learn more about:

Alhana

Preppy Peach

I've Started on Another Blanket


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I went to Michael's craft store to purchase some more yarn for my other cousin's blanket. I wanted to use a new pattern because I got tired of making this other one that everyone else likes. Try something new, right? So anyways, I found this transitional boucle yarn at JoAnn's that I thought was beautiful. The problem was/is that I'm not experienced in using this kind of yarn and it was very hard to see my stitches, so I scratched off that pattern and that yarn. That's how I ended up in Michael's.

I found a baby blanket book that had enough patterns in it that I liked to warrant a purchase, so I got it and some really soft baby yarn. I made a few wrong turns when I first started the blanket that I didn't realize until I had gotten further into the blanket, but I humbled myself and took all those rows out and practically started over. I still have a ways to go because this pattern is so detailed, but here are a few pictures of the beginning rows.

I'm Finished!


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I'm so excited because I FINALLY finished this hat. It's my first hat and it doesn't look exactly like the pattern, but I was just glad to be finished and to have something that I'm not ashamed to actually wear! lol I was inspired by my Flickr friend who just finished up a blanket, and although I'm working on another crochet project, I felt compelled to finish this one, so I did tonight. Thanks Alhana!

Old Treats


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At my place of employment we're having a holiday luncheon on tomorrow. Everyone was asked to bring something. Usually I sign up for a pie or congo bars (some people call them blonde brownies), but this time as I was a little late signing up, I decided to make an old treat - date nut balls.

The last time I made this dessert I was still living with my parents, but the recipe is so simple that it's almost fool-proof.

Recipe:
Ingredients:
1 cup of chopped dates (pitted)
1 cup sugar
1 stick of margarine or butter
1 egg beaten well
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts
2 1/2 cup rice krispies

Directions:
Cook butter, sugar, dates, and egg over LOW heat until dates are cooked to pieces. Remove from heat and immediately add vanilla, nuts, and rice krispies. Stir well. When cool enough to handle, shape into long or short fingers or into balls. Roll in grated coconut.

Enjoy!

Here are a couple of pictures. I'll upload the process a little later...



Dinner At Andry's


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Oh, my. I was invited to attend a dinner at the home of one of my new found friends from Peru. Andry. She invited a small group of us to her home to taste some of her Peruvian cuisine. She warned us beforehand that she was not a chef, but I don't know why people throw out comments like that when they know that they can really cook.

She and her husband spent the afternoon cooking these wonderful dishes. If you haven't figured it out by now, Spanish culture is fascinating to me. As I mingle amongst people from different Spanish-speaking or Portuguese-speaking countries, I'm learning how they are similar and how they are very different - especially when it concerns food and spices.

Tonight we ate in courses. Our first course was Papa de la Huancaína. They were sliced Yukon Gold potatoes served on lettuce leaves, topped with a sauce and a slice of boiled egg. As Andry served us this dish, she explained the history of the dish and how it got its name. Very informative.
The next course was Lomo Saltado. The plate was filled one side with rice and the other side was layered with fried potatoes, beef, and vegetables.
After that, we had some Arroz con leche. Very much like rice pudding. There were golden raisins inside.
There wasn't room to eat anymore. (I was the only one who didn't finish what I had anyways. I have lots of "doggie bags".) But, Andry and her husband served us a huge slice of Peruvian Panneton, very similar to the Italian Pannetone. Since I stayed a little after the others left, Lucho (Andry's husband) made me some café con leche to take home.
I almost forgot that during dinner, although there were sodas galore, everyone tried the Chicha Morrada - a drink made from blue corn. It was delicious!!!
I had such a great time tonight. I'm glad I didn't let my headache from earlier stand in my way from coming to this special dinner. We shared lots of our personal stories, laughed, laughed, and laughed some more!

Something New


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No, not that movie with Sanaa Lathan and Simon Baker where "Kenya" realizes that interracial love is ok. I'm talking about deveining shrimp.

I've been waiting for a certain shrimp to go on sale for about two months. I've never had to wait that long for shrimp sales! Anyways, in the Wednesday circular there was an advertisement for shrimp. I went to a store that I do purchase from, but never for shrimp, and bought two bags. In my haste, I didn't process what I had purchased. I just remember reading that the shrimp was wild caught in the U.S. and it was fresh frozen. Ok, I had a certain meal in mind, but after I reread the bag, I realized that the shrimp wasn't deveined! I always buy E-Z Peel shrimp (shell-on, deveined). This wasn't E-Z Peel. Needless to say I had to change my recipe.

The internet is a blessing. I googled "deveining shrimp" and was fortunate to find this really simple video on deveining:


Deveining was a tedious task and I'm so glad I only bought two bags. I'll be a little more careful next time. E-Z Peel all the way!

As my meal plans changed, I decided to use some of the rice I purchased at the Old City Market in Charleston, SC. The recipe was written for chicken and rice, but I converted it to use shrimp and I used the Old Bay Garlic and Herb seasoning as the main accompaniment. I sauteed some onion and garlic in butter then sauteed the rice mixture before adding the water. I can't tell you the spices that were in the rice, but I can tell you that they smelled delicious cooking up. While the rice was going, I seasoned my cleaned shrimp with some of the same Old Bay seasoning and put it in the fridge. When the rice was almost done, I re-seasoned the rice and then added the shrimp. Since there was no salt in the rice mixture, I added a little Lawry's Seasoned Salt.

If it hadn't been for the deveining process, this meal would have been done in no time. I'm eating while I'm blogging and you'll have to take my word for it, but this dish is good. Don't worry, I'll get my veggies in. I've got some of that cooked salad from grandma's in the fridge that needs to be reminded why it was picked in the first place!

Something Hot


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I love hot chocolate. Not the watered down kind like Swiss Miss, but rich, thick hot chocolate - made from milk. I've tasted some really good hot chocolate, some that I enjoyed but can't afford on a regular and some that I can. One in particular is Nestle's Abuelita Mexican Hot Chocolate. What makes Mexican chocolate unique is that it has cinnamon in it. This chocolate comes in disks that have perforations. Each section spells a letter in the word "abuelita" which means "grandmother" in English.

Making this hot chocolate is real simple. You just warm the milk on the stove. Grate the chocolate in the milk. You can add about 1/2 tsp. of sugar and 1/2 of cinnamon if you like. I didn't add any more sugar because there's some in the chocolate, but I added a little more ground cinnamon. Once I poured the hot chocolate in the mug, I stirred it with a stick of canela - Mexican cinnamon stick. No, this cinnamon stick isn't like the ones you buy on the regular spice aisle. You have to purchase it in the "Latin Foods" section of your grocer or go to a tienda or mercadito that sells them. These are much more inexpensive, but the flavor is slightly different as well.

Go ahead. Give it a try!


Still not convinced? Check out this video. Um, yeah, it's in Spanish!

One of My Meatless Moods...


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I cannot deny the fact that I am a meat eater. The thing is, I don't always eat meat with every meal and when I do eat meat it's usually small portions. Sometimes I get where I can't stand the sight or thought of eating meat. But then that passes. I've been asked why I don't just go ahead and become a vegetarian or at least a pescatarian, but you know I think one of the hardest parts of making that type of commitment is that you're doing just that. The fact that you are telling yourself that you will not eat certain things. There's something about the human mind that rebels when it is told that it can't have certain things, even if it wouldn't have them ordinarily. So for now, I'm just content eating meat...in spells and in moderation. If one day I change my mind, like I'm prone to do, then know that I did just that - changed my mind. :-)

Today I am without a voice. My throat was a little scratchy over the weekend, but after a long day of talking at work (my job is virtually impossible to do without talking) my voice went out. Earlier today I whispered or wrote tons of sticky notes, smiled, and used hand gestures. So, when I got home I knew I wanted something hot to drink and eat, but I was in one of those meatless moods and also not in a mood to do any heavy cooking.

I've been craving sweet potatoes lately. Isn't that odd? Who craves a sweet potato? I decided to bake a few: eat one for dinner and save the rest. I also took out a small package out of the freezer of my grandma's cooked salad that she gave me over the Thanksgiving holidays. I love her greens! By the time my sweet potatoes were done (and sprinkled with a little brown sugar and cinnamon), I had thawed and heated the greens through and made a cup of peppermint herbal tea. Peppermint tea works wonders; maybe it'll help my voice come back sooner.

I don't know if I'll get hungry before the night's up. Probably I will. But at least I can say that I got some good nutrients in and loads of potassium!

(Grandma's delicious cooked salad. Yum Yum!)

A Day of Discovery


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I went out to take care of some business in a neighboring county this morning and I made my quick to-do list so that I could make the most of my time. In my going and comings I decided to stop by the Fresh Market. That store rocks! Everytime I go in that store I feel special. It's okay to walk slowly and browse with your basket on your arm. (In all fairness I guess you would have to because the aisles are very narrow and crowded.) But even still, there's a certain ambiance in that place that makes you feel really classy, even if you're just buying a box of tea or a loaf of bread.

I was buying neither of those items, but I did want to check out and see if they had the Spike seasoning in. And they did. I had to look behind some other spices to find it, but it was there. I wonder if someone put it there (like I do sometimes) to hide it until they could get back. Well, there were two and I got mine. I also purchased some Chinese 5 spice seasoning. I saw Sunny Anderson from the Food Network's Cooking for Real using it in one of her dishes. Even from my kitchen looking on the t.v. it looked as if that spice was good. I'll give it a try. I purchased some fresh ginger (I want to add a little fresh ginger to my lemon and ginger tea to kick it up a bit) and some cocoa and caramel macchiato coffee packages. They'll make nice little gifts for the holidays.

I finished my errands in the other stores and headed home. I decided that it was time to clean out the refrigerator. After everything was nice and clean, I heated up a bowl full of that stew beef I made in the crockpot a little while back. Earlier I had put two servings in the freezer and left one serving in the refrigerator for a more recent time like today. Let me tell you, that stew beef was even better. I guess sitting in that fridge just helped it marinate. I don't know, but I do know that I'm licking my spoon!
(See, I didn't even take the time to "pretty-up" the picture by wiping off the sauce from the sides of the bowl. There just wasn't enough time for that!)

Will It Make Me Better?


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Soup's done and it was rather tasty. I hope it's healing powers work. I think I'm going to bed early tonight for a change.

Sweet dreams...

It's That Time of Year AGAIN....


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I was at work and I felt that tickle in the back of my throat. Right then I knew I was in for trouble. That's how those sinus troubles begin...with that tickle. I left work as soon as my time was up and went to the neighborhood grocers to see if they had any chicken on sale. I didn't feel like messing with any frozen chicken. I just wanted to make some homemade chicken noodle soup and I needed a few veggies.

When I got home I got right to it. Thank goodness for that locking pot that makes everything cook faster. The recipe that I was using is from, you guessed it, Allrecipes.com. There's a simple Quick and Easy Chicken Noodle Soup recipe that I like there. I made a few modifications in order like boiling my boneless skinless chicken breasts (yes, there was a sale at the store) in chicken bouillon cubes to make a richer broth. Then added the sauteed onions, celery, and carrots to the broth after I removed the chicken so I could shred it. The rest is basically from the recipe mentioned above.

I haven't eaten the soup yet because it's still cooking. But it smells so good though. I hope those rumors about the cure-all effect of chicken noodle soup is right. Or maybe my mom's right - you need to get some rest!

Until then...

In the Kitchen


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Today has been a slightly unusual day in that I've spent almost the entire day in the kitchen. (I don't have all the pictures to prove it, so you'll just have to take my word for it.) I woke up off-and-on this morning and then finally pushed myself out of the bed in the late morning. I know you can't really catch up on sleep, but I've been getting my share in this holiday break.

At any rate, after cooking breakfast for a change (I made a breakfast burrito - I finally got a chance to use up some of my Mexican seasoning) and having a cup of tea, I decided to get started on the desserts I volunteered for the church dinner tomorrow. But first I had to finish cleaning up the kitchen and putting up dishes that had already dried. I don't like cooking unless the kitchen is totally clean. So I got right to it. I even moved my little t.v. into the kitchen to utilize that cable I'm paying for.

While watching the Food Network, I began my dessert baking with another attempt of the Down East Maine Pumpkin bread that I baked about a week ago. This time I watched the bread more carefully . I think that recipe still needs some adjusting because the "doneness" that the recipe claims will happen in a certain time period does so at the sake of having an overly brown bottom. So I will try this recipe again to master the time or temperature. Now I'm thinking maybe I'll have to adjust the temperature. Maybe drop it 25 degrees. Well, to get back on subject, this bread baked better than the last batch. I carefully took both loaves out of the oven and placed them on cooling racks.

While they had been baking, I washed all of my cooking utensils and got started on the pound cake. I decided to try Aunt Tutsie's Lemon Pound Cake. I hadn't made that recipe in years, plus I wanted a cake that didn't yield an enormous amount of batter. The modern cake pans hold less batter than the ones my mom has had all of my life. I'm still searching for a tall bundt pan that doesn't have a releasable bottom like the angel food cake pans.

Aunt Tutsie's Lemon Pound Cake was easy to mix, but once I was done with that cake and the pumpkin bread I was totally out of sugar! I placed most of the batter into one of my coffee cake pans and the remaining batter I placed in my miniature silicone loaf pan. It only filled up 3 of the 8 spaces in the pan, but that will make a good freeze. Thankfully by purchasing this ancient home, I have a teeny tiny oven in the wall that I used to bake my miniature pound cakes in and I used the regular sized oven that I purchased this time last year to bake the real deal. That way, the cakes were done just about the same time and I could turn that oven off!

After the cakes were removed and placed on another cooling rack, I decided I'd better tackle that head of collards my dad brought back from our visit to grandma's. I had the seasoning meat flavoring up the water in a small pot while I sliced the collards into matchstick thin slices and washed them up in the sink. After the seasoned water was ready, I transferred it and the collards into my favorite big pot (it's the waterless cooking kind with a valve that opens and closes to help your food cook faster and hold in more nutrients) and cooked the collards for a seemingly short period of time. That's what frost will do for you! I called myself sampling the finished product, but my sample ended up being a plate of collards. Man, they were good. I put the rest of the pot in the fridge once the pot had cooled. I'll transfer them to another dish later. I was on a roll. The next head of collards I get, I will try Sunny Anderson's vegetarian style version. It sounds good.

After washing up the lastest batch of dishes, I decided to be more proactive. Don't let food go to waste - freeze it! So, I took the pot of the stew beef dish I'd made in the crockpot a little earlier and divided it into small meals, labeled the containers with the item and the date, and put them in the freezer. I was going to finish up my evening or day in the kitchen with cooking up the last piece of cabbage, but I got a little sidetracked and only managed to slice and wash the cabbage. So I put it in a Ziploc bag and will quickly decide how I'll use it if I don't decide to just steam it. I'm realizing now that if I'm not proactive about my food (for example) I just won't eat right because this time of year I'm too overworked to think of meals or too tired to care about them being balanced.

I've been putting myself on a tight budget when it concerns food and I was determined to eat whatever I had in my freezer down before restocking and so far it's working. Now the items that I'm putting back into the freezer are by-products of what I already had, except they are fully cooked. I still have some salmon and tilapia I need to use and a couple of other meats, but so far I think this plan is working for me.

I'm realizing that I do a lot of things according to my moods. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but it is a realization that I am experiencing. I craft when the mood hits, I bake when I'm in that "baking" mood, I practice my Spanish when the mood strikes. You get the picture. What I've learned is that when I do these things outside of that mood I'm often less successful: the cakes don't turn out as well, I make more mistakes in my craft projects. So, today was one of those cooking moods, so I needed to cook everything I could while the mood was striking. I just wish someone would have a sale on shrimp while I'm in this mood. I wonder if I channel my thoughts to that effect if it would make it happen?

Until then....

The Search is Finally Over!


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I searched long and hard to find Twinings of London's Lemon and Chinese Ginger Tea. I've been in so many different grocery stores that I was beginning to wonder if the tea was really worth the search. Well, world, let me tell you...yes, it was worth it. After leaving the quinceañera tonight, I decided to stop by Fresh Market thinking that they had to have this tea. And they did.

I'm enjoying a cup of this delicious tea with a small chunk of that Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread that I made the other day. Oh, they are so compatible.

Have a great evening.

Having Fun Baking Bread


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I was invited for a Thanksgiving luncheon recently and I decided to bake something "Thanksgiving-like." So, I decided to bake some pumpkin bread. Ok, I've never baked pumpkin bread, but I found this really tasty-sounding recipe on Allrecipes.com and I needed a reason to try it out. It was Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread. I don't know how authentic it is since I've never been to Maine, but I'll the cook's word for it.

It was a really quick recipe to make. My only addition was 1 tsp. of vanilla extract, per the other reviewers' suggestion. I also baked the bread in two 9x5 loaf pans instead of 3 7x3 pans as the recipe requested. Let's just say that I'm super glad that I had two loaf pans.

Check this out. I had the two pans of bread in the oven. I kept checking them every five minutes after they had baked for 45 minutes because by using larger pans, I was going to have to cook the bread for longer than the recipe time. As I was checking the bread, I decided one pan should come out of the oven. The phone rang. I tried to talk to my aunt on the phone and use my Pampered Chef oven mits to get the pan out. Somehow the bread pan wasn't secure in the gloves and it hit the floor!

Let's just say that I served the other one. :-) Bottom line, when you're tired, crazy stuff like that is more prone to happen. And also never talk on the phone while doing important tasks like measuring or taking things out of the oven. It's better to be safe than sorry.

I thought the bread had a delicious spice taste. I'm sure it would go really well with coffee.

Enjoy!

A Time for Beans...


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When I finally got home from work, I started a pot of beans. Well, actually, it was the recipe I mentioned on yesterday: Heidi Swanson's Baby Lima Soup with Chipotle Broth recipe. As I am the queen of subsitutions, I used the bean I had on hand - navy beans. My favorite.

I didn't want to be cooking beans all night, so I used my waterless pressure-cooker pot. I pretty much followed the recipe to the "t" with the exception of using a different bean. Being brave, I threw in two chipotle peppers, and quickly removed one of them after sampling the broth. Yeah, it had some kick back there. Whew! I used the sea salt mentioned in the recipe, but it was missing something so I had to add a little table salt.

Let's just get right to it:

Slicing up the onions
Sauté cebollas, sauté!
My big 'ol pot of beans...
Time to eat (and no, I didn't add more s&p)
All gone!

Ooh Dinner Was Good


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Despite my sore throat, I was able to enjoy my Saturday dinner at O'Charley's. This week I've been trying to become more conscious again of what I am eating or not eating. I've noticed that I've had quite a few meatless meals lately, which is fine, but I still need to make sure I'm getting enough calories and the right nutrients.

A few friends and I went to O'Charley's and we all ordered really healthy meals. I won't tell you about theirs, but mine was great! I had Fresh Atlantic Grilled Salmon, steamed broccoli with this lemon juice sauce, and a bowl of potato soup. The strawberry lemonade was really good too. And the conversation was out of this world - good conversation always makes the meal time a pleasant experience, but I digress.

Again, I'm sorry that there isn't a visual, but just know that the presentation was deliciously wonderful, just as wonderful as the meal itself. If I go back to O'Charley's I would order that dish combination again, but more importantly, you know I've got to try it at home, right? I love home-cooked meals. (Oh and when I get home I can't wait to try another Heidi Swanson recipe recommended to me by my buddy, Mark. It's a chipotle lima bean soup.) Ummm....

An Afternoon at Umpstead Park


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In the Saturday session we spent the first half of the day completing indoors activities dealing with soil. We learned what soil consists of and had opportunities to explore separating some living and nonliving things found in soil. It was fun to watch people squirm when they discovered earthworms! At one point I was looking at two earthworms in a bucket and then I took my eye away for a moment and when I looked back, one earthworm had crawled halfway out of the container and the other one was gone! It was discovered shortly thereafter crawling on the table about two people away. Boy that sucker was fast!

After lunch (I had a baked potato with some fixings and a small salad - sorry no pictures), we spent the rest of the afternoon at Umpstead Park really getting our hands dirty. Well, they got their hands dirty, while I had my hands wrapped around my camera. I partly wanted to makeup for missing my photo op while I was "resting" and I also was feeling not like myself (hey, I'm entitled to being moody sometimes right?) but I was hanging in there - being a teamplayer and all.

Here are a few of those shots: