Sunday, May 30, 2010

On the menu: cooking ahead

Mindful Menus

I did some serious cooking today, friends.

But before that, I mapped out a menu plan for the next couple weeks. Here's what's up this week...

Mon: Barbecue at my cousin's house
Tue: Cheese and basil polenta with tomato-basil sauce (which I didn't get around to making before). Green salad on the side.
Wed: Salad greens with cucumbers and mushrooms, topped with cranberry-walnut-marinated chicken and Parmesan cheese. Maybe a little olive oil for dressing.
Thr: Empanadas (Did I mention we got them practically perfect last time? Wondering if they'll be just as good this time.) Rice on the side.
Fri: winging it

This afternoon I made cabbage slaw (that's what my cousin requested I bring to the family get-together tomorrow); the polenta (which is ready to go in the oven) and the empanada filling (which just needs to be put into a pie crust, folded over and popped in the oven at the same time) are chilling in the fridge; I cooked the chicken for Wednesday's salad; and I made a couple big batches of rodeo stew. (One for next week; another one for whenever.) I don't think I've ever prepped that much food in advance. I'm kinda proud of myself. So even if my week is really tiring, dinner each night is already almost ready. It's a good feeling.

How about you? Do you have a menu plan you'd like to share?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Questions about food: natural peanut butter

As the title would suggest, I have some questions about food. So I'm starting a little series, just in case you know the answers. (Ok, so far, I have two questions in mind, but that still counts as a series, right?)

So, first up: natural peanut butter. The Hubs and I recently bought a jar of natural, nothing-but-roasted-peanuts-and-salt kind of peanut butter.

We kept it in the fridge and stirred it before using it. It tasted pretty good, but the consistency was weird. It started out runny and gross-looking. Then, near the bottom of the jar, it got all clumpy. It was hard to get out of the jar and a little tricky to spread.

What's that about? Did we not stir it enough each time? Is natural peanut butter always like that? Is it just the brand (in this case, Trader Joe's)?

We actually just bought another jar, because we wanted to give it one more chance. But, this time, we want to get it right!

What do you know about natural peanut butter?

Photo by amanky.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What We Found at the Library: Prayer and thankfulness

It's been awhile since I've had assigned reading. And then, this spring, there were three books (not including poetry) that I was supposed to be reading at once. Not for a grade. And not exactly mandatory. But still.

It started when I signed up for a book club through the women's ministry at my church. You pick a topic/book from a list (as well as a second and third choice - just in case), and they put you in a group with 5-7 other women who chose the same thing.

Right about the time I heard back which book club I'd be in (topic: gratitude) and that we'd be starting right away, my small group leader decided we should discuss a book at our twice-a-month meetings.

Not long after that a third book came my way, but that is another story for another What We Found. Suffice it to say, it was all a little overwhelming.

So even though the Hubs and I try to avoid buying many new books, we found ourselves purchasing Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy for my book club and A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World for our small group the same week. (We actually couldn't find them in the library.)

In the end, it was really neat to be reading Choosing Gratitude and A Praying Life at the same time. The topics meshed together beautifully: giving thanks in all things and praying continually. Being thankful for what you have and praying for what you need. Expressing gratitude for others and lifting them up in prayer. Sometimes I have trouble remembering what I read where.

Both books were honest, insightful, practical and focused on the deep-rooted attitudes behind our actions, rather than just overwhelming you with a big checklist of Things You Must Do.

I recommend reading them both. Maybe even at the same time - or at least one after the other. My book club has even talked about reading A Praying Life in the near future.

What books have you found at the library - or your local bookstore - lately?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Mystery of the Disappearing Kittens

Because I know some of you will wonder, here's the stray cat update. We went outside one day last week, and they were gone. No sign of Grizzly Bear or the kittens anywhere. We think maybe when the air conditioning went on, it scared them away.

You'd think I'd be glad about that. But, really, I'm not.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

As I recall...

Seems like there have been a lot of recalls the last few years, doesn't it? If it's not tainted peanut butter or questionable produce, it's lead-paint laden toys or faulty baby slings.

In fact, March's SlingRider recall prompted one baby carrier manufacturer to take a look at the numbers and create this sweet infographic* illustrating which baby products were recalled from January 2009 through April 2010.

(*P.S. Dontcha just love infographics?! Numbers are so much better when they have pictures to go along with them.)

baby products recalled in 2009 and 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What is a triolet?

As I mentioned last week, the style for the next PerPoTues will be Triolet.

This is new to me, too. The fun thing about this poetic form is that it includes a couple of lines that repeat. So, although it technically only has eight lines, you really only have to come up with five.

Here's the line-by-line break down. It helped me to color code it, and, hopefully, this makes sense to you too...

line 1: Come up with something that bears repeating!
line 2: Come up with something else.
line 3: Rhymes with line 1.
line 4: Repeat line 1.
line 5: Rhymes with line 1.
line 6: Rhymes with line 2.
line 7: Repeat line 1.
line 8: Repeat line 2.

So the rhyme scheme you end up with is ABaAabAB (capital letters are repeated lines).

Information and examples:

I noticed that several sources stress changing the meaning of the repeated lines, but I don't always see how this is true in the examples given. So, as always with PerPoTues, how strictly you follow the form is up to you.


Photo by Candida.Performa. I thought it was a good fit because of the title ("Triolet Rouge") – and because of the repeating lines. Get it? Stripes? And poetic repetition? Repeating lines? Nevermind.

Monday, May 17, 2010


A stray cat had kittens in our backyard.

In case you're thinking, "Didn't that happen before?" The answer is yes. Different cat, same problem.

There is a whole feral cat community that lives in our neighborhood. The Hubs and our neighbor Danny recognize them all, occasionally feed them (the Hubs secretly sneaks them food because he knows I disapprove, but he always ends up confessing later on), worry about them during the hot summers, and discuss whether there's an organization that (as rumored) will come pick up stray cats and get them fixed. Danny has also given most of them crazy names like "Cowboy" and "Orangey" (not to be confused with either of the two Orangey Juniors).

Whenever we see a cat in our backyard, we chase it out with water. So why a certain brownish feline named Grizzly Bear (incidentally, the sister of Polar Bear, who is all white except for her gray nose) decided to have her litter in between our wall and some bicycle tires is beyond me.

But here's where it gets really weird: I'm suddenly really attached to these kittens. Yeah, me. Ms. Just-Leave-the-Cats-Alone! I really wanna keep one. Which is ridiculous for several reasons, such as the fact that our landlord said no pets. And I'm allergic to cats.

They're just so tiny and cute. Teensy little bundles of adorable. And I want to take care of all of them.

Even though (supposedly) I'm a dog person.

Photos: I took the first two photos, and the Hubs took the last one.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Life in poetry (or is it poetry in life?)

The first time I read Making Food. Eating Food's "bear with me" post, I was impressed with the way the writing just flowed so beautifully. When I happened back by later, I found a poem nestled within the paragraphs.

So this is my PerPoTues
Found Poetry entry. The original writing is by Chanelle Richardson; I just poemized it.


you might be familiar with it.
the way it
changes everything,
sneaking around corners
with the unexpected–
sometimes even
with delightful surprises.
never predictable,
always crazy–
crazy good–
but crazy nonetheless.

oh, life.

Perfectly Poetical: Found Poetry

From LSL Buttons

Welcome to May's edition of Perfectly Poetical Tuesday (PerPoTues)! The second Tuesday of each month I invite you to write a poem based on a certain style, because I believe that every life writes a poem.

This time our theme is Found Poetry.

How to join in today:

  1. Find an excerpt from an article, text on a street sign, a quote from someone famous or other printed matter that's not a poem – and make it into one! Post it on your blog and include a link back to this post.
  2. Stop back by, link up and leave a comment.
  3. Follow the other links and read some great poetry!

A few other notes:
  • My poem post is scheduled to show up after this one.
  • If you're spreading the word via Twitter, feel free to use hashtag #perpotues.
  • If you don't have a blog, you can post in the comments here and skip the linking part. :)
Next PerPoTues will be June 8. The style will be triolet. I learned about that on MediaDrome and will be explaining what it is next Tuesday (5/18). Be sure to stop back by!

In the meantime, enjoy some poetry!

UPDATE: I don't know what's up with Mr. Linky, but feel free to just post the link to your Found Poem in the comments. Thanks!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

On the menu: conveniently vegetarian

Mindful Menus

There are people who are vegetarian for health reasons. And others who are vegetarian for ethical reasons.

And then there's us. My current menu plan is mostly vegetarian, but the reasons are not so lofty. I won't bore you with the details, but it had to do with grocery shopping and sales and new recipes and...yeah.

Basically, it just works out better for us this week.

More specifically, here's what's on the menu:
M: Chili with lentils and Peruvian beans
T: Pan-roasted chicken with potatoes and balsamic vinegar
Cheese and basil polenta with tomato-basil sauce
Potato curry (with tofu)
F: Pizza (at a friend's graduation party)

That's the other thing I needed to tell you about: polenta! I've never made polenta. But my great-grandma used to make something called cornmeal mush, which I've since learned is basically the same thing. I don't remember what brought that memory to mind awhile back, but, ever since then, I've been convinced I absolutely must make it.

The dish above with cheese and tomato sauce, however, is nothing like what I remember Grandma J making. That's okay, though, because I plan to continue experimenting with polenta/mush over the next few weeks. In the meantime, the recipe I chose sounded delicious, and I can make it on Tuesday, so that all I have to do on my busy Wednesday is pop it in the oven.

Basically, it just works out better for us this week.

P.S. I just realized I didn't note the side dishes. Sometimes I plan out main dishes only, knowing that I have simple sides on hand. Then I pull out some fruit salad or heat up corn or toss lettuce and tomatoes together while I'm fixing the entree.

Photos by me. In case you're wondering, the "palenta" came from my favorite Middle Eastern market and was imported from Bosnia (hence the non-English text). I just happened across it while I shopping.