Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What Was it Wednesday? Happy Halloween!!

Asparagus

You’re looking at March 27, 2011.  Asparagus.  Obviously.

What was it wednesday

Apparently I served it with this.  Looks like roasted chicken, tomatoes, onions, and the asparagus.  Yum!

***What Was it Wednesday – my attempt to work my way through my backlog of cooking photos!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Garden Tuesday The Halloween Edition

spider webs

I am ashamed to say that I have not done one bit of decorating for Halloween this year.  Haven’t even bought a pumpkin.

Spider webs

If it helps explain things, one of my monitors still has the August calendar wallpaper on it, and the other monitor has September.  Really.  Where is the time going?

Spider webs on azalea bushes

Luckily mother nature and Mr. and Mrs. Spider are doing their part to decorate for me.

**I also want to say that my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone dealing with the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

Please join me for Garden Tuesday.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Christmas Stocking Knit Along Step One!

Christmas Stocking

It’s time for our first installment from our sweet guest blogger, Rosemary.  I hope you all are ready to knit!

Hi, again:

Ready to make a stocking?  Let’s begin!

As promised last week, I’m including the picture of Amy’s stocking knitted by her grandmother…about 40 years ago! 

Here is the link for the pattern.  Go ahead and print it out.  If it looks overwhelming, don’t despair!  We are going to make this together.  And, as we go along, I’m going to give you some hints to make things a little easier. 

http://www.knitting-and.com/knitting/patterns/christmas/1945-stocking.htm

Let’s go.  Buy 3 skeins of worsted weight yarn ; one each in red, white and green.  You’ll also need a small amount of blue.  You’ll have plenty left over….I’m knitting my 3rd stocking together with you and still using the same  original skeins of yarn!  You’ll also need a set of #5 regular knitting needles , another set of #5 double—pointed needles and a stitch holder (looks like a large safety pin). Don’t be alarmed when you purchase the yarn and see it calls for #8 or #9 needles…#5 is the correct needle size.  I’m pretty confident about this, but in knitting I do always recommend checking the gauge.  Because the stocking will be filled with tangerines and sugar plums, we want the stitches to be especially tight to hold the weight.

Name and date chart

The second thing to do for next week (when we actually start knitting!) is to make your own name and date chart.  Get a piece of graph paper.  If you don’t have a pad around the house , just get on-line, put “graph paper” into the search engine and you’ll see how you can print out a piece.  Following the pattern, make your own chart with the child’s name and birth year.  The name and date has to be contained in 60 stitches or less (including spaces).  We will be casting on 64 and will need at least two additional stitches before the beginning of the name and after the date.  If your name is longer than can be accommodated in 60 stitches, you may choose to use a shorter nickname or eliminate the birth year.  Here is a picture of the one I did for baby Alanna. 

Get your yarn…and I’ll be back to guide you through the beginning, including the child’s name and birth year. 

See you soon!  Rosemary

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Weekend Wine Reviews #130 Purple Moon Chardonnay

Purple Moon Chardonnay

Purple Moon Chardonnay, 2010, California, $4.99, Trader Joes.  We say:  a good basic white wine.  A little tart, lime, refreshing.  Very good for under five bucks!  Buy again:  yes!

AND, yes, my African Violets are having a lovely year!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Weekend Cat Blogging #386 and Saturday Pet Blog Hop

Coco in a tree

Look at Coco.  Innocently frolicking in a tree.  Isn’t she sweet?  So sweet.

Coco in tree

Wait a minute?  Is that the bird feeder?  Hmm..

 

 

This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Amar & Luna.

This will be my entry for The Saturday Pet Blogger Hop! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Spicy Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce

Enchiladas with pumpkin sauce

What is it about holidays that make me hoard food?  Is it because certain food items are only thrust into the limelight during a few short months of the year?  I don’t know.  Whatever the reason, starting about now, I have to frantically begin using up bag after bag of frozen cranberries and cans upon cans of pumpkin.  Why do I frantically have to use it up?  So, I can buy more, silly.

Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce

I found myself with 4 cans of pumpkin in the pantry.  Must use it up, so I can buy more cans this year.  That is how it works.  Don’t judge.  Just accept.  I was going to bake something sweet.  But I don’t bake things like cakes, because they have such a high fail ratio in my house.  So, while perusing through Everyday Food: Great Food Fast  I found Spicy Enchiladas in a Pumpkin Sauce.  Intriguing, yes?

This was so surprising good.  You would not be able to guess that it was pumpkin flavoring the sauce.  I mean you might be able to guess it from it’s looks, but if you had your eyes closed you would be saying, “yummy, what is this?!”  It is absolutely perfect for fall! 

I followed the recipe exactly, except that I didn’t have white cheddar, so I used regular.  The white would have been prettier – a nicer contrast with the orange pumpkin.  You can either follow the recipe in the book, or I’ve given you a link above to Martha Stewart, where you can also find it!  Let me know what you think!

 

 

This will be my entry for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Guest Blogging ~ An Intro to Rosemary

Rosemary

This is Rosemary.  Rosemary is very smart.  Why is she so smart?  Rosemary is so smart, because she knew I needed a guest blogger, and I didn’t!  Yep.  Rosemary and I are the new thing, the new trend …  you know … “blogging friends” – all the cool people have them.  So, in the midst of our email discussions, Rosemary offered to be a guest blogger!  She noticed that my tagline says knitting and I never knit.  Oh, I knit.  I just never finish anything. 

So, guess what?!!  Rosemary is going to do a sort of knit-along!  Anyone and everyone is welcome to join in.  She will be posting instructions and inspiration every week.  And at the end of it, you will have a fabulous Christmas stocking!!  

Christmas Stocking!

Isn’t it adorable?!  So, without further ado, I bring you Rosemary:

Hi!  I’m Rosemary and I’m a fan of Sidewalk Shoes.  I’d call myself an intermediate knitter and I’m lucky to have a very small circle of knitters at my workplace.  We enjoy working on projects together, exchanging ideas and tips and helping each other figure out how to navigate knitting patterns.  I’d like to expand the group and thought that it may be possible to do that through blogging.  I asked Pam if she would be open to considering a “guest contributor” and she said yes!  So, here I am!

For the last 10 years, I’ve made my home in central Massachusetts.  My husband and I bought a house built in 1847, then a wedding gift from a mill owner to his daughter.  Sadly, she died four years later.  We think of Ann Eliza from time to time and make an effort to keep up the house to her liking. 

I work as social worker at a community health center and just love it.  Like Pam, I enjoy reading, cooking and gardening and I’ve copied her idea and included a picture of myself taken while looking in the mirror! 

Genealogy is another passion of mine.

My friend, Amy, has a Christmas stocking knitted decades ago by her grandmother.  The pattern was featured in a magazine for women 1945!  Amy, Alicia and I have worked through two stockings each and are now comfortable with the pattern.  I’m including the one I made last year for a new addition to our extended family, Julie. 

There is time to make this stocking for someone for Christmas. I want to invite you to do the project together and I’ll make another along with you for new baby, Allana.  I’ll happily answer any questions as we go along.  Keep watching Sidewalk Shoes…next week I’ll include the pattern, a picture of Amy’s original stocking and let you know all we’ll need to get started. 

So very nice to meet all of you!

Doesn’t this sound like fun!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What Was it Wednesday?

You’re looking at March 11, 2011.  Last week I showed you what looked like an orzo salad.  This looks like another one.  Though maybe with chicken.  Apparently I was on an orzo salad kick.

****What Was it Wednesday – my attempt to work my way through my backlog of cooking photos.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Garden Tuesday ~ Sedum Autumn Joy

Sedum Autumn Joy

Guess who now knows how to put photos together for a blog collage?

Can you guess?

What’s in your garden this week?  AND more importantly, can you put it in a collage?

Please join me for Garden Tuesday.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mocha Almonds for National Nut Day!!!

Mocha Almonds

Okay people, I know Mondays are not good.  Really, not good at all.  But we have reason to celebrate!!  Yes, you know what I’m talking about – it’s National Nut Day!!  And if that wasn’t good enough news, there’s even better news, new research shows that almonds may have fewer calories than they originally thought!   I am all over that! 

I don’t know about you, but I tried the whole “The French don’t snack between meals and they don’t get fat” thing.  Unfortunately, I am not French.  Perhaps the French do not eat breakfast at 6:00 am and then eat lunch  almost 6 hours later at 11:45 like I do.  I can’t go 6 hours without a snack.  Oh, I can, but it’s not a pretty sight. 

So, my favorite snack???  Nuts.  Well, almonds to be exact.  I love them.  A small handful really does satisfy me on so many levels.  It’s crunchy…can be sweet (especially if you try this recipe), and the fat in them really satisfies me and makes me feel full. 

Now, I have to admit that I haven’t made this recipe (both recipe and photo courtesy of the Almond Board of California), but I plan to, because it sounds amazing.  Unfortunately I have been really busy and haven’t had a chance, but I couldn’t let National Nut Day go buy without sharing it with you!! 

Mocha Almonds

6 Tbs. sugar
2 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbs. instant coffee granules
1 egg white
2 cups whole natural almonds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In container of electric blender, combine all ingredients except egg white and almonds. Blend 30 seconds, pulsing on and off; set aside. In large bowl, whisk egg white until opaque and frothy. Add almonds; toss to coat. Add sugar mixture; toss gently to coat evenly. Oil, or coat a baking sheet with vegetable cooking spray. Arrange almonds on baking sheet in single layer. Bake in center of oven 15 minutes. Gently toss almonds and arrange again in single layer. Continue to bake 15 minutes longer; toss gently. Turn off oven. Leave almonds in oven with door ajar 15 minutes. Remove from oven; cool completely. Store in airtight container up to two weeks.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful?!  For even more lovely nutty recipes check out, The Almond Board.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Anakena Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Anakena Sauvignon Blanc

Anakena Sauvignon Blanc, Chile, 2010, $7.99, Total Wine.  They say:  a crisp pale gold sauvignon blanc with fresh gooseberry and wild blossom aromas.  We say:  fresh and crisp, light, citrus, bit of grassiness.  Buy again:  yes!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Weekend Cat Blogging #385 and Saturday Pet Blog Hop

Smudge

Smudge.  Like all of us, he is getting old.  When he goes up the steps now, he usually pauses halfway and rests.  I believe this look expresses his dislike of old age.

 

 

This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Judi, Jules and Vincent

This will be my entry for The Saturday Pet Blogger Hop! 

.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pasta with Cabbage and Sausage

Pasta with cabbage and sausage

Fall!  Cabbage!  Sausage!  Perhaps it’s my Lithuanian roots, but I do so love cabbage.  And sausage.  And potatoes.  And a big old chunk of bread. Don’t be surprised if I tie a kerchief on my head, hunch over an old walking stick and go out to dig up some potatoes. 

One of my favorite combinations is cabbage and pasta.  If you slice the cabbage thinly, it mimics the size and shape of the pasta, in essence lightening up the pasta.  I love it.  I knew that I wanted simple, clean flavors, so I turned to The Best Recipes in the World by Mark Bittman. 

It was perfect.

Pasta with Cabbage and Sausage

  • 1 small head of savoy or green cabbage
  • 1 pound fresh sausage
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups cored and chopped tomatoes, with the liquid (canned is fine, don’t drain)
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound spaghetti, linguine, or other long pasta
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Core the cabbage, shred it finely (so that it is about the same size as the pasta).  Cut the sausage into small pieces.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in  skillet over medium heat.  Add the sausage, stirring occasionally until nicely browned about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until the garlic just begins to color.  Add the cabbage and turn the heat to medium high, and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes or until the cabbage begins to wilt.

Lower the heat to medium and add the tomatoes, salt and black pepper to taste, and the red pepper flakes.  Cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, cook the pasta and drain, toss with with cabbage mixture.  Serve topped with the cheese.

Serves 4-6

 

 

This will be my entry for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

I loved every single thing about The Snow Child: A Novel by Eowyn Ivey.  

Mabel and Jack are a married couple living in Alaska.  They moved there to try and make a go of a life on the frontier.  The wilderness and environment provide plenty of struggle, but there is also internal struggle for Mabel and Jack.  Ten years ago, Mabel had delivered a small stillborn baby.  They ache for a child, the sound of footsteps running, the giggles and laughter, but it doesn't seem that they will ever have their wish. 

Until one night when Mabel and Jack in playful moment build a snow man out in the snow, only they build a snow girl, complete with a cute scarf and mittens.  The next day, they find the scarf and mittens missing and no sign of the snow girl.  Soon, they see a real girl, flitting between the trees and she is wearing the scarf and mittens. 

Mabel remembers an old fairy tale from when she was younger about an old couple building a girl out of snow, who comes to life.  Could this be what happened? 

They eventually meet Fiana and she becomes a part of their life.  A magical part of their life.  Sometimes she seems not real and other times very real.  

It is a beautiful story, very well written.  I was so enthralled that I only highlighted one small note at the very beginning:

"All her life she had believed in something more, in the mystery that shape-shifted at the edge of her senses.  It was the flutter of moth wings on glass and the promise of river nymphs in the dappled creek beds."

Lovely.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What Was it Wednesday?

What was it wednesday

You’re looking at March 9, 2011.  Looks like an orzo salad with salmon, red peppers and spinach.  Agree?

****What was it Wednesday – my attempt to work my way through my backlog of cooking photos.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Garden Tuesday ~Going to seed~

Fennel seed

Garlic Chives Seeds

Fennel Seed

Everything is going to seed around here.  I love it.  I love the browns and yellows and oranges slowly overtaking the lush greens of summer.

Please join me for Garden Tuesday.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Almond Brown Rice Pudding

Almond Brown Rice Pudding

I love desserts.  Oh, how I envy you people who don’t have a sweet tooth.  Really, how does one become like that?  I love sugar in all it’s various forms.  You know those sickly sweet icing roses on store bought cakes?  Love them.  I could eat them by the spoonful until my teeth turned hideous shades of bright pink or green from the dye. 

My problem…I don’t bake.  So much of everything I love requires baking.  And really I guess it is good that I don’t bake, what if I did?  And what if I knew how to make those sickly sweet roses?  My fridge would be filled with everything needed to make that happen, forget veggies and fruit. 

So, instead, I make Almond Brown Rice Pudding from Whole Foods. This was perfect, not to sweet, just right, and fairly healthy.  Except for the fact that two days after I made this, I read about arsenic in rice.   But I figure there is bad stuff in everything.  Everything.  So, I will make this and eat it whenever I feel like it.

The only changes I made to the recipe was I skipped the date syrup step, omitted the vanilla and almond extract and just used sweetened vanilla almond milk instead.

Almond Brown Rice Pudding

  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 4 cups unsweetened vanilla almondmilk
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup toasted, chopped slivered almonds

Place dates in a bowl and pour 1/2 cup boiling water over them. Let soak 15 minutes, then transfer dates and water to a blender and puree until smooth to make a date syrup. Meanwhile, bring rice and almondmilk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until rice is cooked and has absorbed most of the almondmilk, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.
Stir date syrup, raisins, vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon and almonds into rice and serve warm.

Serves 6

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Weekend Wine Reviews #128 Santa Barbara Landing Chardonnay

Santa Barbara Landing Chardonnay

Santa Barbara Landing Chardonnay, 2009, Trader Joes, $4.99.  We say:  sweet and tart, little bit of honey, bit of apple.  Not bad at all for five dollar bottle of wine!  Buy again:  yes!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Weekend Cat Blogging #384

Black and white tuxedo cat

Black and white tuxedo cat

Patchouli is on the lookout for the all kitties!  Because we are hosting Weekend Cat Blogging this weekend!! 

 

 

This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by US!!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Simple Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables

Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables

Oh, how I love fall.  And, oh how I love roasting.  Yes, I know you can roast anytime of the year, but I don’t.  Oh, I do an occasional roasted green beans during the summer, or sometimes potatoes.  But fall?  As soon as the tiniest hint of color shows on the leaves, I am roasting.  At least once a week, sometimes more.  Because what could be simpler?  What gives you such lovely concentrated flavors with almost no work on your end? 

Even though I adore a whole roasted chicken, my most favorite thing to roast is chicken thighs.  They are so forgiving, they don’t dry out, they are perfectly sized, and you don’t have to mess with carving a chicken. 

The above dinner is a perfect example of an easy weeknight meal – I will probably have some variation of it every week through fall and winter.  It doesn’t even need a recipe really.  But here is one, kind of:

Simple roasted chicken with roasted root vegetables

  • Assorted root vegetables (I used carrots, potatoes, onions, parsnips, and beets) – enough for four servings
  • 8 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
  • your favorite fresh or dried herbs (I used herbes de Provence)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375.

Generously salt and pepper your chicken thighs and toss with a little olive oil and some herbes de Provence.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet (I used two sheets).

Peel and chop (about an inch or inch 1/2 size) your root vegetables.  If using beets do them separately so they don’t turn everything pink.   Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and your herb of choice.  Spread around the chicken on the baking sheets. 

Roast for 45 minutes.  

Eat.  Enjoy.

Serves 4

 

 

This will be my entry for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Caribbean Black Bean Soup with Roasted Garlic and Tomatoes

Caribbean Black Bean Soup

Some of you who read my blog regularly (and believe me, I appreciate it – I know how hard it is to visit every blog every day – there seems to be more and more things on the internet vying for our time), know that I am doing a Year of Beans with Rancho Gordo Beans.   What better recipes to use for my Rancho Gordo beans than Heirloom Beans: Great Recipes for Dips and Spreads, Soups and Stews, Salads and Salsas, and Much More from Rancho Gordo

I’ve made lots of black bean soups.  They are tied for my favorite with white bean and ham soup.  Normally I make my black bean soup exactly like my white bean soup, the only difference being the type of bean.  But while browsing through the cookbook, I found this recipe.   The extra step of roasting the garlic and tomatoes sounded intriguing and not too much work.  I was skeptical of a bean soup that didn’t at least have a ham bone in it.  But this was good.  Very good.  I didn’t even miss the meat!  The complexity from the roasted garlic and tomatoes was just enough to elevate this soup.

I made mine in the slow cooker, using dried beans.  Added the roasted garlic and tomatoes during the last hour of cooking.

Caribbean Black Bean Soup with Roasted Garlic and Tomatoes

  • 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
    2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
    4 whole fresh or canned plum tomatoes, with juice
    Salt
    ½ pound Black Valentine or Black Beans, cooked with reserved broth
    ½ medium yellow or white onion, chopped
    1 jalapeno chili, chopped
    1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
    1 ½ teaspoon cumin seeds toasted and ground
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
    2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
    Freshly ground pepper
    Sour cream for garnishing
    1 avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced for garnishing
    Fresh cilantro leaves for garnishing

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Put the garlic cloves on a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil. Put the tomatoes in the baking dish. If using fresh tomatoes, cut them in half and put them cut side down in the dish. Season with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Roast the tomatoes and garlic till soft, fragrant and brown about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the beans and their broth in a soup pot and warm over low heat.
In a medium heavy skillet over medium-high heat, warm the 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion, chili, carrot and sauté till fragrant and beginning to caramelize about 10 minutes.
Add the cooked vegetables, cumin, oregano, cayenne, and chicken broth to the beans.
Peel the roasted garlic cloves. Chop the garlic cloves and tomatoes coarsely. Add the garlic and roasted tomatoes to the beans.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook till the vegetables are soft and the flavors are blended, about 15 minutes.
Let the soup cool slightly. Transfer about half the soup to a blender. Blend until smooth.
Return to the soup to the pot, stir and adjust the seasoning.
Ladle the soup into warm bowls and garnish with sour cream, avocado slices and cilantro.

Serves 4

 

This will be my entry for Souper Sundays (Soup, Salad, or Sammie) hosted by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What Was it Wednesday?

You’re looking at January 21, 2011.  I have no clue.  Maybe some sort of pita pizza type thing.  Chicken?  Greens? 

*****What Was it Wednesday – my attempt to work my way through my backlog of unused cooking photos. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Bloody Mary Club by Debbie Dyke

The Bloody Mary Club by Debbie Dyke

There are mysteries that you curl up with on a dark and stormy night and then there are mysteries that you take with you to the beach, or you read while sitting on your back porch sipping an iced tea or maybe a bloody mary.  I'm sure from my not so clever reference to Bloody Mary's that you can tell that The Bloody Mary Club is more of the latter kind of book, though there would not be anything wrong with curling up with it on a dark and stormy night. 

But if you don't like scary mysteries, you are more of a rollicking good time mystery person then the Bloody Mary Club is your book.  It's filled with witty dialogue and a solid mystery.  The dialogue reminded me of a sitcom on television - where someone always has a one liner - I don't necessarily think that is how most dialogues actually occur in real life, but for a lighthearted comedy/mystery it works.    

The description on the back of The Bloody Mary Club says, "A Fiscal Thriller Set in Historic Old Town Alexandria, Virginia."  And it is - a "Fiscal Thriller"  I think if you were in the banking business or the stock market or some sort of investment type person, you would probably love this book. However, most of the financial lingo was lost on me.  I didn't understand most of what was going whenever the characters got together to talk shop.  

But even though I didn't understand most of the fiscal talk, I still enjoyed the mystery. And like I said, if you know what options, majority owners, lucrative buyouts, and bullish advice is, you will love this book!

The author’s website:  Debbie Dyke

***Disclaimer – I received a copy of this book to review.