Monday, July 31, 2006

"Borrowed" Recipes

Yesterday I spent the day at “my other job”–I’m a volunteer ranger for the San Gorgonio Wilderness Association. My assignment yesterday was at Big Falls - a picnic area and wilderness trailhead about a half mile from my house. We had a break in the weather over the weekend, and it was nice and cool up here. It was a beautiful day, and the picnic area was about half full of families that had come up from the valley to barbecue and enjoy the fresh air. There’s a short (1/4 mile) trail to the highest waterfall in southern California, and Mill Creek runs past the picnic area. (During the non-winter months, we sleep with our windows open so we can hear the waterfall.) There’s also a separate parking area for the Vivian Creek Trailhead, one of the most heavily-used trails in California. My duties consist mainly of selling Adventure Passes, passing out pamphlets, and picking up trash on the trail to the falls. Most of the time I get to sit and read, though, so yesterday I took a stack of Cooking Light magazines with me. I clipped and clipped, and saved dozens of recipes to try.

The first one on the list was the most simple:

Pork Chops with Cherry Preserves Sauce


4 boneless pork chops
1/2 t salt, divided
1/4 t black pepper, divided
1 c cherry preserves
1 t balsamic vinegar
chopped chives (optional)

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle pork with 1?4 t salt and 1/8 t black pepper. Add pork to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove pork from pan and keep warm. Add preserves, vinegar, 1/4 t salt, and 1/8 t pepper to pan. Cook 30 seconds, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Serve with pork. Garnish with chopped chives, if desired.

I had some turnips in the refrigerator, and had meant to fix them the way I normally do–boiled and mashed with a bit of butter and salt. But I found a new way to try them, and it was wonderful! Alanna of A Veggie Venture has hundreds and hundreds of recipes for ways to fix every kind of vegetable under the sun. I often visit her site when I feel like I’m “in a rut,” making the same thing over and over, and I’ve visted it often now that I’m looking for vegetable side dishes other than potatoes. Tonight I made creamed turnips, which were a great counterpart for the very sweet pork chops. I have to tell you, they were a success! I now have TWO great ways to eat one of my favorite vegetables.

Creamed Turnips
from Alanna of A Veggie Venture

Water to cover, salted
1 pound turnips, peeled and quartered (the sauce volume below can handle 2 pounds)
1 cup whole milk (even though I often make white sauce with skim because it's what's on hand)
2 bay leaves (Turkish bay leaves are less bitter than California)
2 whole cloves
2 black peppercorns
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
Kosher salt to taste
Sprinkle white pepper (white pepper doesn't mess up the color but black would be fine for taste)
Sprinkle nutmeg (fresh is always good but regular is just fine)

Bring water to boil in a small pot (if possible, use something other than non-stick so you can mash the turnips in the same pan later) on MEDIUM HIGH. Add the turnips and return to a boil, then reduce heat to MEDIUM to maintain a simmer. Cook until cooked through, about 15 minutes.Drain and return to pot.

While the turnips cook, combine the milk, bay leaves, cloves and peppercorns in a microwave container. Bring it just to a boil in the microwave, starting with 30 seconds, then 15 seconds at a time until just before boiling. Let rest until ready to use. Remove the bay leaves, cloves and peppercorns.

While the milk is warming, melt the butter in a small saucepan on MEDIUM. Stir in the flour until the mixture is thick and silky and without lumps. Slowly -- that means a drop at a time at first, up to a tablespoon at a time -- add the hot milk (have you removed the bay leaves, cloves and peppercorns?), stirring all the time, incorporating the milk completely before adding more. Once all the milk is incorporated, continue to stir for a couple of minutes, finishing the cooking process. It's okay if small bubbles form but don't let the mixture boil. Once the white sauce is cooked, reduce the heat to LOW to hold. Season with salt, white pepper and nutmeg.

When the turnips drained, add the sauce to the pan and mash with a hand masher or hand mixer (it's too big a job for an immersion blender) until somewhat smooth -- though they won't be as smooth as mashed potatoes. Spoon into a serving bowl, then top with another sprinkle of nutmeg.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Finally - a Cool Day! Plus a Blog Me Meme

Not only was it cloudy all day, the clouds were at about 5,000 feet, meaning we were IN the clouds most of the day. The highest it got today was about 72. We had our friends Rob and Shannon over for lunch, and Shan got chilly and needed to borrow a sweatshirt. We had a little bit of thunder and a brief shower, but otherwise it was a fabulously cool day.

I was tagged for a Blog Me meme by Michele of Chef Michele’s Adventures. Like Michele, I like memes, so here goes:

1. What can I learn about you in under 5 minutes?

I’m task-driven, passionate about teachers and teacher rights, the environment, cooking and eating, camping, and scrapbooking.

2. How do you use blogging to build friendships?

I visit as many blogs as I can, find recipes and posts I like, find nice things to say, and make return visits to see what’s new.

3. Who do you read every day, rain or shine?

I can’t get by without seeing what cookiecrumb has to say on I’m Mad and I Eat. I just love her combination of politics and food!

4. How would you describe your writing style?

Descriptive without being flowery; clear and concise. I hope.

5. If you could spend time with one person who would it be?

Edward Abbey. The greatest environmentalist who ever lived, IMHO.

6. What don't you write about? Anything considered a no-no in your book?

Well, I stick mostly to cooking and food, but branch out to a lot of personal things, so I guess I’d say a no-no is giving away too much personal information about my family.

7. What is your favorite thing that you wrote?

No particular favorite.

8. Are you and your blogging persona the same person?

Yes. I even give out my last name.

9. Have you ever anonymously posted on a site to flame them?

No, I think that’s chicken%*@&!

10. If you had a super power, what would it be?

I’ve always wanted to be able to fly. I even had dreams about it as a child. I always demand window seats when I fly, because I love to look down on the beautiful scenery below.

11. Why did you choose to share that piece of yourself in a photograph?

It was the best digital pic I had at the time.

12. Where do you live?

A town of 1,100 people called Forest Falls, at 6,000 feet elevation in the mountains of southern California.

13. What do you do for a living?

I’m a teacher by profession, but out of the classroom since I’m the union president.

14. What are some things you can't live without?

My husband, wilderness, chocolate, great books.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

It's Grillin' Time!

While everyone “down in the valley” is baking in this heat, we’ve been lucky up here in the mountains. Every day the thunderheads build up, and at least four days this week, it has rained. Both the shade from the clouds and then the rain have helped keep temperatures down. An added joy for a weather-lover like me is the thunder and lightning. I love weather–and I hate the weather in southern California. For 9 months out of the year it’s clear, sunny, and hot. I like clouds, I like thunder and lightning, I like occasional snow, and I really love cool days and cold nights.

We cooked out tonight on the grill. I have been looking for more ways to cook fish, and since I don’t like it baked or steamed, I decided to try grilling it. There are lots of different sauces I want to try, and the first one on the list is a Korean barbecue sauce, reminiscent of teriyaki. It doesn’t have the ginger, though, and I like the little bit of heat from the serrano chilies. We used our new fish grillling basket for the first time–I bought it at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Here it is in use:

Korean Barbecued Fish

1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced serrano chilies
1/3 c soy sauce
1/4 c packed brown sugar
2 T water
3 T unseasoned rice vinegar
1 T sesame oil
3-8 fresh fish fillets (tilapia, flounder, sole, mahi mahi, etc.)
olive oil-flavored cooking spray or olive oil for brushing
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a small saucepan. Add garlic and chilies, and sauté about 3 minutes over medium heat. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, water, and rice vinegar, and bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the sesame oil. Spray fish fillets with olive oil spray or brush with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Baste with sauce and put on heated grill. Baste with more sauce during cooking.

Since our daughter joined us for dinner, I decided to cook one of her favorite side dishes, grilled squash. The fruit and vegetable stand in Mentone had fresh pattypans, also called summer squash.

Grilled Summer Squash

any summer squash - yellow, crookneck, pattypan, zucchini, etc.
olive oil-flavored nonstick cooking spray (I use Pure)
garlic salt

Cut squash so that there are some flat surfaces --if you’re using pattypan, cut it horizontally. If you’re using the other kinds, cut them lengthwise in half. Spray the cut surfaces with the cooking spray, and sprinkle with garlic salt. Grill until browned on both sides and beginning to soften.

Monday, July 24, 2006

It's Almost Too Hot to Cook (but not quite!)

This is the time of year I really like my toaster oven. It's been used for a whole lot more than toasting. I've learned that it's large enough for almost everything I want to cook, including casseroles. I learned tonight that I can fit a 12-inch round dish in it, so now can cook more things in it without heating up the kitchen as much as with the big oven.

Lunch was a treat today, since I came up with a great use for the leftover pork from last night. I diced it up, and made quesadillas, using the pork and some shredded smoked gouda. Yum! Definitely a repeat is in order.

As I mentioned yesterday, I spent much of the afternoon making the foundation for six more meals. I came across this recipe about 25 years ago, and have made it a few times, and decided that while I had the time I needed to make another batch to get ready for going back to work. I changed it, though, substituting olive oil for the original shortening, and using half ground turkey instead of all ground beef.

Meat Sauce Mix

1/4 c olive oil
4 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or smashed
2 c finely chopped celery
2 lbs. lean ground beef
2 lb. ground turkey
4 t salt
1 t pepper
3 T Worcestershire sauce
3 T Tabasco sauce
1 28-oz bottle ketchup

Heat olive oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and celery. Sauté until onions are golden. Add ground beef and turkey. Stir and cook until meat is browned. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Drain excess fat. Put into 6 1-pint freezer bags or containers. Seal and label; freeze. Use within 3 months. Makes 6 meals’ worth.
Use for: sloppy joes, stuffed hard rolls, stuffed green peppers (with 1 cup cooked rice), hamburger-noodle skillet.

I kept one batch out of the freezer for tonight’s dinner:

Stuffed Bell Peppers

6 small bell peppers
1 batch Meat Sauce Mix
1 c cooked rice (brown or white)
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 c shredded Mozarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375˚. Remove the tops from the bell peppers, and then scrape out the seeds and mebranes. A teaspoon is good for this. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then cook the peppers for 6 minutes. Drain and place in a baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine the Meat Sauce Mix and rice. Spoon into peppers. Pour tomato sauce evenly over tops of stuffed peppers. Cover pan with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil, and divide cheese among peppers. Return to oven and cook another 5 minutes.

Yesterday when we cooked the corn on the grill, I had DH cook two extra ears for tonight’s salad:

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad

corn from two ears
1 16-oz. can black beans, drained
1 small purple onion, chopped
1 t cumin
1/4 c vinegar
2 T water
2 T vegetable oil
1 t salt
1/4 t black pepper

Place corn, beans, and onion in a medium bowl. Combine cumin, vinegar, water, oil, salt, and pepper, and pour over vegetables. Let sit in refrigerator overnight for flavors to blend and onions to soften.

Yesterday’s Picture “Quiz”

The picture from yesterday was taken at the Elephant Seal Refuge near Piedras Blancas off of Highway 1 north of Cambria, California. My friend Trude had said I needed to stop there on my way to Monterey, and I got lucky. The huge pod was constantly shifting shape due to the seals’ moving around over and arouind each other, while some slowly galumphed their way to the water. Two large bulls were mock fighting over in the water in some rocks, and several others were basking by themselves further down the beach. Right underneath the cliff, two babies were sleeping, and they were so still that at first I thought they were dead. The scratching of noses eased my fears. I think I stayed to watch them for almost 45 minutes. Some more information about the elephant seals of Piedras Blancas can be found here.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Something Old, Something New, Something Fun

Right after DH and I got married, over 25 years ago, I started collecting recipes. I wrote them by hand in a yellow notebook that I got at a German store. It had room for hundreds of recipes, and this is one of the first ones I ever wrote in it. I don’t recall where I got it from, since I didn’t write down a source, but I’m sure it was a magazine of some kind. I’ve changed it just a little by substituting a little whole wheat flour for all-purpose, adding some ground flax, and using oil instead of the original melted shortening. These are not crispy like regular waffles, and the batter would probably make some great cupcakes. We ate them with regular pancake syrup (DH) and lite syrup (me), and we both found that we didn’t need a whole lot of syrup since these were already sweet. The uneaten waffles freeze well in zip plastic bags and can be reheated in the toaster.

Gingerbread Waffles


Makes 14 (4-inch) waffles.
1 c unbleached white flour
1/2 c white whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur)
2 T ground flaxseed
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 c sugar or Splenda
1 t ground ginger
3 eggs, beaten
1 c buttermilk
1/4 c molasses
1/3 c vegetable or canola oil

Combine first 7 ingredients; set aside. Combine eggs, buttermilk, molasses, and melted shortening, stirring well; add to flour mixture, stirring until blended. Bake in preheated, oiled waffle iron. Serve with butter and syrup. Makes 16 (4-inch) waffles.

I spent a large part of the afternoon making another recipe from ‘way, ‘way back, and will be sharing it tomorrow. But it produced the foundation for six quick and/or easy meals, some of which I’ll make after work once school starts again. After that was all cooked and packaged, it was time to marinate the meat for dinner.

When we were camping in Colorado, we met a couple from Evergreen - Dean and Margaret. One evening we were all sitting under the rain tarp with them, their daughter Natalie, and some other friends of theirs, and the conversation inevitably turned to food. Dean and Margaret shared a recipe for a pork marinade that sounded divine, and I decided to give it a try. In coming up with a name for this recipe, I decided to name it after the campground we were in: Dinner Station.

Dinner Station Pork Tenderloin
from Dean and Margaret Miller


1 pork tenderloin
2 large garlic cloves, sliced lengthwise into strips
2 t dried rosemary
2 t dried dillweed
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1/3 c soy sauce
1/3 c red wine vinegar

Using the tip of a sharp knife, cut 6-10 small slits in the tenderloin. Insert a slice of garlice into each slit. Sprinkle meat with rosemary, dillweed, and Worcestershire. In a large bowl, combine soy sauce and red wine vinegar. Add meat, and marinate 30-45 minutes. (Don’t marinate any longer than that, or the soy sauce will make the meat too salty). Grill till meat is just cooked through. Serves 4.

Picture Quiz


Can you guess what/where this photo is? Californians - you’d better get this one right! I’ll give details tomorrow.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Capers - WHB #42

Since I used capers in tonight's dinner, I thought I'd use them for this weekend's Weekend Herb Blogging. Paz is hosting this time, over at The Cooking Adventures of Chez Paz.


Capers are the unopened green flower buds of the Capparis spinosa (Capparidaceae - caper family - closely related to the cabbage family), a wild and cultivated bush that is grown mainly in Mediterranean countries (southern France, Italy, and Algeria) and also in California.

Manual labor is required to gather capers, for the buds must be picked each morning just as they reach the proper size. After the buds are picked, they are usually sun-dried, then pickled in a vinegar brine.

Capers can range in size from that of a tiny peppercorn (the petite variety from southern France, considered the finest) to some as large as the tip of your little finger (from Italy).

Capers generally come in brine but can also be found salted and sold in bulk. Either way, rinse before using to flush away as much salt as possible.

The taste is slightly astringent and pungent, and they can lend piquancy to many sauces and condiments; they can also be used as a garnish for meat and vegetable dishes.

Visit The Cooking Adventures of Chez Paz after the weekend's over for the roundup!

A Borrowed Recipe Plus One of My Own

Tonight’s main dish comes to us courtesy of Mia of Nosh. I changed only a couple of things from her original recipe for Chicken with Caramelized Onions, Tomatoes and Capers. I think I’ll name my version after her, and call it Chicken Mia.

Chicken Mia

2 T olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 med. yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
freshly ground pepper
1 large tomato, chopped
1 T butter
2 T capers
1 T dried basil
1/2 cup white wine
Preheat the oven to 425˚ In a medium skille over medium-high heat, warm the 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the red and yellow onions and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes more. Add the vinegar and cook, stirring often, until the liquid is nearly evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes more. Season with salt.

Use the Jamie Oliver method for creating an "oven bag": "Using wide tin foil, make your bag by placing 2 pieces on top of each other (about as big as 2 shoeboxes in length), folding 3 sides in and leaving 1 side open."

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and place them side-by-side in the foil bag. Sprinkle in the tomato, butter, capers, basil, and carmelized onions. Carefully pour in the wine and seal the foil bag tightly. Slide the foil package onto a roasting tray. Jamie recommends placing the tray on a burner on your stove over high heat for a minute to get the package going. Then put the tray in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

When it comes out of the oven, open the foil bag, place one chicken breast for each person (use the third to make a great sandwich the next day!) on a plate and spoon over the juices.

Along with the chicken, I made a slightly sweet rice dish, one that I normally would use white rice in. This time, however, I used brown rice, and it turned out quite nicely. I like the nutty flavor and quality of brown rice; I just don’t often have the time to cook it.

Curried Orange Rice

1/4 c olive oil
1 med. onion, chopped
2 t curry powder
1 c uncooked brown rice
1 c orange juice
1 1/2 - 2 1/2 c chicken broth
1/2 t salt
1/2 c seedless raisins
1 bay leaf

Melt butter in heavy saucepan. Sauté onion until soft and golden but not brown. Stir in curry powder and rice. Cook 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Add remaining ingredients; stir with fork. Bring to boiling; lower heat; cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed. You will probably have to add more broth periodically. Remove bay leaf before serving. Serves 6.

Home Sweet Home!

Yes, I’m back home, where it’s blazingly hot, but I’ve seen in the papers that it’s this way across the United States. I had a wonderful conference in Monterey, and then a great evening with my sister and her husband in Concord. Friday morning I left her house at 5, and with only a stop for breakfast and two stops for gas, made it home by 2. Back in my own kitchen. Back in my own bed, where I collapsed for a two-hour nap before supper.

I got a great start on my commitment to cook those dishes I mentioned in a previous post. We started with Rigatoni with Roasted Garlic, Mushrooms and Chili Pepper from Cream Puffs in Venice. My oh my. It was soooo good. It’s a fabulous no-meat main dish, and we had it with some salad. Here is the link to Ivonne’s recipe, which she got from Truly Madly Pasta by Ursula Ferrigno. Ivonne’s picture of the finished product is much better than any photo I could take, so go look at hers to see what it’s supposed to look like. The only changes I made to the recipe were based on ingredients I had on hand - I used regular white mushrooms instead of the portobellos and oyster mushrooms, and half and half instead of cream. This is something I’ll definitely make again!

Rigatoni with Roasted Garlic, Mushrooms, and Chili Pepper
from Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice

2 heads of garlic, with tops trimmed off
3-4 T extra virgin olive oil
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
10 oz. mushrooms, roughly chopped
8 oz. penne rigate or rigatoni
freshly ground black pepper
1 c heavy cream
1/3 c freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375˚. Place each head of garlic on a square of foil. Drizzle each with a tablespoon of olive oil, then wrap loosely in the foil. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the garlic is golden and soft. Let cool for 20 minutes. Grasp each head of garlic at the base and squeeze out all of the roasted garlic. Set aside.
Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms and sauté over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and continue cooking another couple of minutes. Add the roasted garlic, and cook another couple of minutes. Reduce heat and add cream. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm on low heat while pasta cooks.
When pasta is finished cooking, drain it and add it to the cream-mushroom mixture. Add Parmesan, stir, and serve immediately with additional Paremsan.

My son Kenny got his photo in the Kunsan Air Base (Korea) base newspaper a few weeks ago. Not only is he playing goalie for the base soccer team, he’s playing intramural softball. Go here, then scroll down to the sports page. I think it’s a pretty decent shot–great batting form!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Another Quick Turnaround and a New Fish Recipe

I had a great night last night back in my own bed; though the temperatures here in southern California are a whole lot higher here than they were in Colorado. Luckily we have ceiling fans (even though we don't have air conditioning - don't really need it at 6,000 feet). I leave tomorrow morning for Monterey; I'm going to a conference of teachers' association chapter presidents. It takes place at the Asilomar Conference Grounds, where the high yesterday was 62˚. I'm looking forward to being cool again.

The fire has grown to almost 70,000 acres, but like we had hoped, has moved north and east of here. I really feel for those firefighters battling the blaze in 112˚ temperatures.

Here's a new fish recipe I came up with today, since I've decided I really like those crunchy coatings. I've been using the mahi mahi fillets from Costco, but this could be done with any white fish fillets, such as tilapia, flounder, or sole. You might want to adjust the crushed red pepper, though we really liked it this spicy.

Parmesan-Red Pepper Mahi Mahi

1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c milk
1/3 c panko bread crumbs
1/3 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 t crushed red pepper
1/4 t pepper
1/4 t salt
2-3 mahi mahi (or other white fish) fillets
3 T butter

Prepare three shallow bowls: in the first, put the flour. In the second, the milk. Combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, crushed red pepper, pepper, and salt in the third bowl. Coat the fillets with the flour, then the milk, and then the bread crumb-Parmesan mixture. Press the mixture into the fish. Melt the butter in a skillet, and sauté fillets until golden brown and flesh flakes easily. (I had to cover mine for a while to get them done, and then uncover to finish crisping up.)

One of my favorite side dishes with fish like this is what DH calls fried spaghetti. I cook up some spaghetti noodles, in this case Barilla Plus, then sauté them in a skillet with a little butter and garlic. Occasionally we top them with Parmesan cheese, but tonight we didn't, since there was already Parmesan in the fish.

Another Costco favorite is the huge bags of berries - a mixture of raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Sometimes I just heat them up and put them over ice cream, but tonight I was in the mood for a cobbler. I used two individual ramekins and made two small cobblers for dessert for DH and me. I was able to make these in my toaster oven, and therefore not heat up the kitchen too much.

Triple Berry Individual Cobblers

3 cups frozen triple berry mix
zest of one-half lemon
1/3 c Splenda or sugar

1/2 c Bisquick
zest of one-half lemon
2 T Splenda or sugar
1/4 c milk

Preheat oven to 375˚. In a medium bowl, combine berries, lemon zest and Splenda or sugar. Divide between two individual baking ramekins. Bake for 15 minutes. In a small bowl, combine topping ingredients. Divide between two ramekins, spreading gently. You don't have to reach the edges of the dish. Bake another 20 minutes, or until topping is golden and cooked through.

Question for you experienced cooks: what do I need to add to this recipe to make the filling thicken? Cornstarch? Flour? I thought about flour, since I've used it in apple pies, but I guess I hoped the filling would magically thicken up on its own. Alas, it didn't. It tasted wonderful, but it was juicy, where I'd rather it be thickened. Let me know what you'd suggest.

See you next weekend!

Friday, July 14, 2006

My Beloved Wilderness is Burning

We just got home from Colorado today, and the San Gorgonio Wilderness, the one right outside my door, the one I wrote my thesis on, is burning. You may have seen the story on the news. As we drove across the desert towards home, we first smelled, then saw the smoke of the fire. We were first to the east of it, along Highway 62 in Yucca Valley, where many homes and buildings were burned down, and were in awe of the expanse of this fire. It started as four different fires, one of which started only 5-6 miles from our home. By this afternoon, they had all merged into one, and so far over 55,000 acres have burned. About a quarter of those acres are in the San G Wilderness, and more are threatened. The Forest Service has closed "the mountain," meaning no hikers are allowed in the wilderness.

Our home isn't threatened, even with the fire this close - we live to the west, and the fire is burning northeast. Even Big Bear, which the media had reported as being in danger, is really not - and the firefighters hope the fire continues north back down the mountains to the desert where it will (hopefully) run out of fuel. Who knows? Creosote and Joshua Trees burn pretty easily.

Just wanted to vent and to let everyone know we're in no danger.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Note to Self - Cook!

When I come back from all my travels, and have a few weeks before school starts, I need to try some of these wonderful recipes I've come across on other blogs:

(If it's marked through, it means I've made it!)

Escarole and Bean Soup from Peanut Butter and Purple Onions,
Cheddar Chile Waffles from Taste Everything Once,
Spicy Chicken Cakes with Horseradish Aioli and Orange Cranberry Nut Bars (substituting Splenda for the sugar) from Culinary in the Desert,
Spicy Peanut-Encrusted Catfish from Christine Cooks,
Orange Coriander Muffins (again, substituting Splenda for the sugar) from Chef Michele’s Adventures,
Pine Nut-Crusted Flounder with Balsamic Orange Reduction Sauce from Sweetnicks,
Cheese-Stuffed Chicken with Bacon from Deetsa’s Diningroom,
homemade nut butter just like Catesa from Look Hunny, I Cooked,
Banana Cinnamon Waffles from Culinary Adventures
Zucchini Cookies from bakingsheet,
Simple Vanilla Ice Cream from zen foodism,
Triple Berry Coffee Cake and Rigatoni with Roasted Garlic, Mushrooms and Chili Pepper from Cream Puffs in Venice,
Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Hoisin Sauce from Kalyn’s Kitchen,
Pear & Gorgonzola Pizza from Albion Cooks,
Blueberry Breakfast Bars from Farmgirl Fare
Chicken with Caramelized Onions, Tomatoes and Capers from Nosh,
Boiled Chicken in Spicy Sauce (Guy Op Sea Eaiw) from Appon's Thai Food Recipes,
Chicken Cacciatore from Daily Gluttony,
Tuna Casserole from Everybody Likes Sandwiches

I also have a couple of cookbooks I have to try, including one that was sent to me so I could try some recipes and write a review. I'll try to get that done, too.