Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Free Online Printable Recipe Cards

My recipes are written on scraps of paper and backs of envelopes that are messily piled together on my designated cookbook shelf in the kitchen. I also have jotted recipes and stored them on my computer, which I will only find again by accidentally stumbling upon them.  Computers are definitely not the place for me to keep them.  In short, I need to go back to using recipe card boxes.

Recipe card boxes are neat. I love finding them at garage sales and thrift shops. I just don't use them for their original intentions. The one on my desk holds business cards and all my library cards from different cities, for instance.

Anyway, I think the day for transferring my recipes onto cute recipe cards is coming sooner than later. Earlier this month, one of my favorite cooking and crafts blogs—Skip to My Lou— began offering printable recipe cards for free. Yep, f-r-e-e!  Who doesn't like free stuff, especially when the things are cute and useful.  Thank you Cindy, the creative cool owner of Skip to My Lou!

There are two designs from which to choose and you can select either a 3x5 or 4x6 format. The instructions are easy to follow to key in your ingredients and directions. When you're ready, voila, you click your print button.

I tried a 4x6 format for my first recipe card. Cute design, don't you think? I like that the card says "From the kitchen of Su-sieee! Mac."  It makes me feel like I'm a cook.

Ready to try it out? Here are your links:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday Food Shopping

Many people visit Monterey to check out the Monterey Aquarium, eat at Fisherman's Wharf, or walk along the beach. All things the husband and I like to do. But, yesterday, we headed over to do some food shopping for organic products because the selection is just limited in our town. I can only hope that one day that may change.

We first stopped at the farmers' market in Marina and bought fresh veggies to last us a couple of weeks. Baby bok choy, Chinese mustard, regular mustard, radishes, chard,  broccoli, avocado, lettuce, garlic greens, yellow onions, green onions, and baby potatoes. Also got ourselves some sweet strawberries and clementines as well as a 10-pound bag of tasty oranges. Ok. We stopped at the kettle corn booth and bought us a bag.

The cost was a bit more than buying at the local Pinnacle Organic Produce Farm stand in San Juan Valley on Saturday morning. But, then, that's what we get for forgetting to go. Still, it was worth driving over yesterday. The weather was just right in Monterey. No sweaters needed at all. And, Monterey Bay was soooo blue.

After some debate, we decided to drive over to the Whole Foods Market further down the road to buy staples we can't get in town, such as brown rice flour, or actually cost less there, such as olive oil. We we got a few fun items, too—habanero pepper Monterey Cheese, do-it-yourself grounded peanut butter, and a jar of organic virgin coconut oil.  Lots of creative cooking to come in this household.


Our best buy of the day was 12 artichokes for $1. Yep, you read right. After seeing fields of artichokes, we had to drop by the Pezzini Farms Stand just outside of Castroville. They probably were on sale because they were on the small to medium size and not 100% blemish free. Didn't matter. The husband, the mama, and I had one each for dinner. Definitely  tasty-licious.  Now to find some artichoke recipes. Any suggestions?

If you're interested in any of the places where we shopped, here are some links for you:
    Marina Farmers Market
    Pinnacle Organic Produce Farm
    Whole Foods Market, Monterey
    Pezzini Farms

Monday, March 22, 2010

Our February Present—Roaming Ancient Egypt

Tomorrow is our third "23rd" adventure. We're talking about heading to the Pinnacles National Monument to hike, to gaze at wildflowers, and, maybe, to see a condor.

These "23rd" outings are the Christmas gifts the husband and I decided to give ourselves last year. Every 23rd of the month, no matter how busy and preoccupied we are, we take off for the day. Just him and me. In January, we took a long, meandering way to the beach. Here's the link, if you'd like to read about the day. Teaser: We got stopped by the coppers.

In February, the husband and I decided to go to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose. It was a perfect rainy day to be inside checking out ancient relics from a dry region far far away. 

The museum looks small but don't let that fool you. It has four galleries full of artifacts. Most were authentic, the rest replicas.   Let's say I was not underwhelmed. We got there in the early afternoon so we had to rush through the last two galleries before the museum closed. You really need a full day to see, read, and take in everything, especially if you're interested in seeing the planetarium show about the  ancient Roman religion known as the Mithraic mysteries.





Upon opening the large golden doors of the museum, we were greeted immediately by a staff member, who looked like someone's grandma. I was kinda disappointed. I expected someone with heavy mascara, wearing a gossamer robe, and looking quite mysterious. When she told us about the exhibits, I was scanning the area for the bathroom so all I heard was "I suggest you start with the gallery of the dead."  But, it didn't register to me what that meant. Later, as we wandered around the exhibits in that gallery, I said to the husband, "This place reminds me of a funeral parlor."

"Because it is," the husband replied.

Oh, yeah. Right.

Until that day, I'd never seen a mummy out of his or her box. I'd rather not see one again. Turns out I can snap away at the recent deceased, but it gave me the willies to photograph a well-kept thousands-year old human mummy. Shiver.

For more information about the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, click here. For your pleasure, here are a few photos I did have the guts to take.

Crocodile mummies


Fish mummy

Cat mummy

Ibis mummy

Mummified hair extensions

Cosmetic tool

A stele (similar to a tombstone)

Fragment from a coffin

Fragments from another coffin

A coffin from the Mid-Kingdom period

The insides of a coffin

Mut, Eye of Ra or World-Mother

Modern Faux Egyptian Non-Mummy

Announcing My First Squidoo Lens

Hmmm. I just noticed that Tuesday was the last day I posted. How time flies when you're having fun. And fun was what I was having the past few days as I slowly figured out how to create a lens (or page) at Squidoo.com.

Yep. I've become a lensmaster, at least I think that's what I'm called. Today, I published my first lens about Hollister California, my hometown. I invite you to take a look-see. I double-dare you. :-)  Here's the link: Hollister California—The City That Is!

If you're a creative type and want to try your hand at making a bit of cash on the Internet, take a look around Squidoo. It's all passive earning though. You receive  a certain percentage from advertisements that visitors click on your lens. Signing up for a Squidoo account is free.

Last week, after much research, I finally decided to try my hand at writing for content mills. Squidoo is my first experiment. We shall see how it goes.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sweet Potato Biscuits with Bacon Fat

That’s right. Bacon fat. Does it make it right by using nitrates-free bacon fat? How about the fact that the recipe uses non-gluten flour?

I created this biscuit recipe a couple months ago. The biscuits were dense and deelish. The hubby thought they were sweet. Mama ate her biscuit as her dessert. 

Before I get to my recipe, you ought to know that I’m not a purist. Nor am I precise about things, unless I need and/or want to. In other words, I measure by intuition. Sometimes my dishes are just yummy divine. Sometimes not. Fortunately, that's not too often. Huh?
INGREDIENTS
About 1/2 to 3/4 cup mashed roasted sweet potato
4 to 5 roasted garlic cloves
1 egg
2 cups gluten-free flour
A slight palm full of baking powder
2 heaping teaspoons (regular spoons) bacon fat
Yogurt (plain)
 HOW TO MAKE 'EM
  1. Preheat oven at 400 degrees.
  2. Mash the sweet potato and garlic together. Beat in egg  to mix.
  3. Combine dry ingredients. Then, cut in bacon fat until the mixture is size of rice grains. 
  4. Mix in wet ingredients. Add enough yogurt(about 3 to 4 teaspoons)to create a biscuit dough. 
  5. Spoon out biscuits (as big or small as you want) onto an iron fry pan. If you snuggle them, they'll come out soft and fluffy.
  6. Bake until golden brown about 20 minutes. More or less, depending on size of biscuits.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Martedi Paparazzo

If it's Tuesday morning, then it must be taking-picture day!

The First Poppies Popping Out to Say "Hello, It's Spring!"


The First Sweet Peas in Bloom on our Driveway


Ringing in Spring


Orchids in Bloom
(Almost 3-year old plant. Thanks, again Kurt and Rudy!)



Live Clams Waiting to be Cooked by the Mama


The Morning Newspaper-Reading Husband

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hair Status

Hellooooo.  It's time for a photo update of my no longer bald head. Click here for the original look at the beginning of the year.

As you can see my hair goes every which way. It looks pretty good from the back. Very disarrayed from the front, regardless of how much brushing I do.

I find it interesting that various parts of my hair grow out in different directions. Is it because of the hair cells or the scalp cells? Hmmm, does hair sprout from the skin, beneath the skin, or at the scalp? When hair falls out, does that mean no more hair grows out of that opening? Could that be why I have an oval-shaped bald spot on the side of my head?

I wonder. But, will I go find out?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tiny Things Do Count

I woke up feeling down this morning. Actually, I went to sleep feeling down. I was also feeling a sense of devastation for no obvious reason.

To keep the ya-ya's at bay, I played Bejeweled Blitz at Facebook for a long while. Of course, it didn't work. 

I  told myself to do something constructive such as add stuff that I've been avoiding to do on my to-do list.  And do them. Or, at least take care of the things that are still on that list. I didn't even try to find my to-do list.

I thought about doing something healthy and frolicky such as  walking over to the quilt shop and buying a couple of cheerful looking fat quarters. But, should I be spending money that way? Besides, it looked like it might rain.

Then we received our mail. Amongst it was a handprinted envelope, which the husband thought was a wedding invitation. An assumption, he said, because there was no return address. But it was a card from Rabobank where we had opened a new account a few months back. "We appreciate your business. Thank you." It looked like all the employees at the local branch had signed the card. Wow.

Honestly, the card has cheered me up.  My feelings of anguish are gone. My downness is lifting. And, I'm going to head out to the quilt shop this afternoon. What's a couple of dollars and so what if it rains on me.

Thanks, Rabobank.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Killer Peanut Butter Fudge Cookies


Peanut butter (PB) is a staple in our household. The husband and I eat it for breakfast almost every other day. That's why we can go through a jar of PB in a week and a half. The mama, on the other had, can make a jar last six months. I kid you not.  And, the mama, definitely likes peanut butter, but she's very stingy (though her word would be "economical") about how much she puts on her roll or slice of bread.

A month ago, she ran out of peanut butter.  (Yes, we have our own separate jars.) I pulled out the jar of PB I had bought last year in anticipation of her getting to the end of her current jar.  The "sell by" date on the new jar was January 2010.  Sigh.  I couldn't have the Mama eat a stale jar of PB for six months, and I surely didn't want to be eating it either.

So, like any home cook on a budget, I found ways to use up the PB quickly and generously. I integrated it into a pasta dish and meat marinade, for instance.  I also dug out the cookbooks to find a peanut butter cookie recipe.  And, what do ya know? In one of my favorite cookbooks, The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook, Volume I,  by Michael Bauer and Fran Irwin, I discovered a recipe called "Killer Peanut Butter Fudge Cookies." 

The result was a cakey-like cookie made with cocoa and lots of PB. Very yummy! Making them was not at all hard. In other words, nothing to sweat or fret about.  I modified the recipe a bit by substituting 3/4 cup fructose for 1 cup white sugar. Because I'm into a gluten-free diet, I substituted non-gluten flour for the all-purpose flour. You can find the actual recipe here at Google Books. 

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Mama's Vegetable Plot

If you ask the mama how old she is, she will usually say, "I'm 100 years old."
And, depending on who you are, she might give you a smile or a look that tells you she thinks you're a moron.

So, how old is the mama? She has told me not to tell. But I can say that the mama is 30-some years older than me, and I'm already considered a senior by AARP.

Age does not slow the mama down. The weather does. First it was rain, now it's the chilly wind that keeps her from spending all day playing outside in her garden patches. I'm grateful for that. The cold weather, that is. It buys the husband and me time to figure out how to prep a smaller vegetable garden space without it being too obvious. Her vegetable garden, you see, is practically the whole back yard.




When the husband and I first moved in with the mama, we made a point of staying out of her garden. It is her domain, her zen, her centering place. With each year, though, I've been casually going out there a bit more to carry heavy objects, water plants, hammer a board back in place, chop a stump back, or do something else that I notice the mama may be struggling with. Asking for help is still a tough thing for her to ask.

Last week when she was looking through a seed catalog, I mentioned that she do a smaller garden this year because it was so tiring for her last season. She didn't say a thing. The mama doesn't express her feelings verbally. I go by her body language and behavior and it seemed that she was agreeable with the idea. I think.

We'll see how it goes in a few weeks. Right now, I need to find an online seed company to buy some organic bush bean seeds for her.

Gourd vines (with the white blossoms) climbing
upwards into the mama's persimmon tree.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Three Uplifting Movies I Like

The Academy Awards was on tonight. The only thing I wanted to see was the opening bit with the hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin. But I missed it, so I didn't watch the show. Anyway, out of the 10 movies that were up for an Oscar, the husband and I saw one. Up. That's the animated movie about an old man and a Boy Scout who were swept away to South America in the old man's house that was tied to 100s of helium balloons. It was a wonderful heartwarming story told with humor and honesty. Just the kind of story I like to watch.

Up makes my list of favorite movies that are about people who rise out of their depressions, indignities, or other darknesses currently in their lives. Here are three other movies at the top of my list.

Danny Deckchair is a tale of another man who flies far away by helium balloons, but his balloons are attached to his deck chair. The story is set in Australia. Danny is unhappy. He and his girlfriend don't see eye-to-eye about life. Danny has many ideas to try. For instance, helium balloons and flight. At a party, he and his friends tie balloons to his chair, and soon the chair sets off into the sky. Where it eventually lands begins the change for Danny. For a preview, click here.

The Man Who Sued God is also set in the land of down under. A lawyer (played by Billy Connolly) is sick of the system. He quits and becomes a fisherman. Lightening destroys his small boat. The insurance company won't pay his claim because the lightening mishap is "an act of God." The lawyer becomes furious and decides to sue all the churches because they are the representatives of God on earth. Can he find someone to defend him? Will the churches settle? Is it possible to win such a case? Does he win?



I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With features Jeff Garlin who also wrote, produced, and directed the film, which is set in Chicago. He plays a guy who lives with his mom, because he thinks she'd be sad otherwise. He plays an actor who hasn't been called to audition for the Ernest Borgnine role in Marty, and he thinks he should've. He also is looking for love, but he doesn't get the signs from women that they are interested in him. Is it all because he is fat?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bee-ing Bizzzzy



Yep, more nature photos. It's a bright, but chilly, day outside right now. Just right for a stroll to somewhere. In our case, it will be down to the photocopy center. The husband and I have our 1,000+ page copyedited manuscript to send back to the editor. That was a lot of  sitting at the desk. Glad it's over. Now it'll be a lot of standing at the copier for a bit. Knock on wood, the machine menehunes keep the photocopying running smoothly for us.


I've been wanting to post memories of our walk through a mustard field a few weeks back. It was full of bees. The noise you hear on the video is that of the bizzzzy bees hard at work.