Thursday, May 31, 2007

Join the Foodie Blogroll!

Jenn over at The Left-Over Queen has started a Foodie Blogroll. Here's how it's described on her site:

This Blogroll is especially designed for people who have a passion about food. If you have a blog about food, whether you cook it, or just like to talk about it, this blogroll is for you! It will be our way to create a community of Foodies!

Requirement to be on the blogroll: There is only one requirement to participate in the blogroll: you must display the blogroll some place on your blog where I can find it. Once a month I will try to go through the blogroll and delete the blogs from the blogroll that aren’t displaying it. (I will send you an email telling you that I’ve deleted it.) The reason for this requirement is that to meet our goal of promoting food related blogs on the Internet we need to link to each other. It drives up your Google rank (your blog could potentially be on the first or second page of Google’s search results when someone is searching for information that is contained on your blog) and your Technorati rank.

I joined - and if you haven't yet, do it now! Just click on the link over to the left below the little box, and it will take you to the directions.

Now I have to go look at a lot of new (to me) blogs!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Forest Falls - Why I Love Living Here

This idea comes from Dagny, who got it from Hilly. The idea is to give 10 reasons why you love love living in the state you live in. Now, I really don't love living in southern California. I DO, however, love living in Forest Falls, which is a little town up in a canyon at the foot of the San Gorgonio Wilderness. So I'll give it a go:

Why I Love Living in Forest Falls, California

1. We get four seasons up here. Down in the rest of SoCal, you get summer-like weather for over half the year. Then you might get a few rainstorms, and a few spring-like or autumn-like days, but up here we get all four seasons. In the winter, when it rains in the rest of California, we get snow. I have to put the Jeep in 4-wheel to get to work and back; I have to scrape ice; I have to wear boots, gloves, and a parka. In the fall, the leaves turn yellow and red, and it's gorgeous to see. In the spring, the flowers start to bloom, the birds come back, and you can both smell and hear everything turning in to spring.

2. While it's 100+ degrees down below in the summer, it's only 80 up here. We don't need an air conditioner - we don't have one, either.

3. It smells nice up here - pine trees, wood smoke, clean air.

4. El Mexicano - the little Mexican restaurant in town has great authentic food. Their shrimp fajitas can't be beat.

5. I can look out my front window up into the San Gorgonio Wilderness.

6. It's a 1/4 mile walk to the Vivian Creek trailhead, and then we can either go up into the wilderness for a bruiser of a hike, or continue up Mill Creek another couple of miles for a great, easy workout.

7. It's only 20 minutes back down the mountain on a NON-winding road to work and town.

8. I can hear the roar of Big Falls from my house - it's only 1/4 mile away.

9. We have a "small town" attitude, where everyone knows everyone else, and we all participate in the three different pancake breakfasts put on by Search and Rescue, the Boy Scouts, and the Fire Department. We have our own chili cook-off and blackberry festival in the summer, and take a yearly photo of the town's population.

10. We have wildlife: A family of 5 raccoons lives under my next-door-neighbor's woodpile and comes out to beg every time we barbecue. The bears scrounge through any trash cans left outside. When we hike up Mill Creek we can sometimes catch a glimpse of the herd of bighorn sheep who live in the canyon. I've spotted deer coming to the creek to drink.

I've always said if you have to live in southern California, live in the mountains!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What to Make With Fresh Blueberries? Muffins!

One of my favorite places to buy produce is the 99 cent store. Really! I can get yellow, red, and orange bell peppers, 3 for .99, 3 pounds of onions, bags of apples, cauliflower, zucchini, and so much more for a whole lot less than the grocery store and the produce market. Today they had baskets of blackberries - 2 for .99, and blueberries for .99. I bought a bunch, and have frozen most of them. But I decided to use two baskets of the blueberries and make some whole wheat muffins. These have a twist to them - lemon filling. The store also had cans of lemon pie filling for .99, and I thought it would be fun to try using the filling in the muffins. (I'd rather use lemon curd, but didn't want to make it from scratch, and the Trader Joe's is too far away.) These turned out quite nicely.

Whole Wheat Lemon-Filled Blueberry Muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 egg whites
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
1 - 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup (approx.) lemon curd or canned lemon pie filling

Preheat oven to 350˚. Spray 18 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. Sift together flour, flax, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg whites, oil, and honey. Add blueberries, and fold into dry ingredients until batter is moist, yet remains slightly lumpy. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full. Top each with a heaping teaspoon of lemon curd or pie filling. Bake 30 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Makes 18.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Of Course We Grilled Today!

I guess almost everyone grills on Memorial Day. We were no exception. I decided to try something I'd read about on, a forum for rv'ers I visit often. You take a smoked sausage of your choice, make a long deep slit in it, stuff a litte onion and bell pepper in the slit, and then wrap the sausage in a slice of bacon. Cook it on the grill until the bacon is browned all over, and then eat on a crusty bun. Don used spicy brown mustard for his, and I used my German sweet-hot mustard. This is definitely something I'll try again!

To go with our bacon-wrapped sausages, I created my own version of Italian potato salad, modeled after some potato salad I ate at Matano's Little Italy. That's a small deli in Yucaipa that makes superb sandwiches, using all kinds of great Italian and non-Italian lunchmeats and cheeses.

Italian Potato Salad

2 large russet potatoes
7-9 fresh green beans
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg

In a large pot of boiling water, cook potatoes in their jackets for 30 minutes. Add the fresh green beans the last 10 minutes. Remove vegetables from water and let cool. Cut green beans in 1-inch slices. Peel potatoes, halve lengthwise and then slice 1/8-inch thick. Combine beans, potatoes, and garlic in a medium bowl. In a mixing cup or small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, red pepper, salt, and black pepper; pour over vegetables. Whisk egg, and add to bowl. Stir all to combine. Serve lukewarm or cold. Makes 4 servings.

An Eastern Sierras Weekend

Site 129 - East Fork Campground

Since I hadn't used any optional leave yet this year, I took Friday off and turned Memorial Day weekend into a 4-day weekend. We left Thursday afternoon for a 6-hour drive up the 395 to East Fork Campground on Rock Creek, about 25 miles northwest of Bishop. In the past, we'd always driven past Rock Creek on our way to June Lake or beyond, but had heard about how nice this canyon was and decided to give it a try. Our campsite was in a great location - no neighbors to one side since there was a loop road there, and it faced the creek. As we were trying to get our trailer set up in what was supposed to be a long site, we were informed that the website was wrong and we were really in a short site. Duh. But since we were already unhooked and the jacks were down, we decided to stay. It was a good decision. We had a great view, quiet neighbors, and a very short (20 yards) walk to the creek.

"I'm going to go try something out - I'll be back in a minute." (These "minutes" always turned into half hours or more, usually because he loses track of time when there's a rod in his hand.)

Nice little native brown trout. He'd tried for two days to get one. While he was on the lake, he must have caught several dozen rainbows, but he said this little brown was worth more than all those rainbows, since it was caught in the creek.

Rock Creek Lake - such wonderful scenery.

Don spent two long days out on the lake in his float tube. He's still taking the vicodin for the arthritis in his shoulder, but insists it was worth it!

I like to take a photo out the back window of our trailer everywhere we camp. This one looks up the canyon to the south.

Campground Review - East Fork Campground, Rock Creek Canyon, Inyo National Forest,

Address: 4 miles south of Highway 395 on Upper Rock Creek road
Phone: NA
Website: NA
To make a reservation:
Rates: $18.00/night

General Information:
# Sites: 133 (22 are for tents only)
# Sites with hookups: 0
Dump station: There is a dump station approximately 1/4 mile from Highway 395 on the left (east) side of Upper Rock Creek Road. It is free if you have a campsite at any of the Rock Creek campgrounds; otherwise, they request a $5 donation.
Size of sites: These vary from tent sites only to short, medium, and long. We saw several very large motorhomes, and the website says that some of the sites are 42 feet long. Ours was supposed to be a long site, according to the website, but it was almost too small for our 28' trailer and truck. After we were unhooked and set up, we were told that the website was wrong, and our site was really meant for very short (truck camper/class B) RVs. But we were already in, so we stayed put.
Office hours: At least 5 sets of camp hosts; available all hours.
Interstate access: No.
On site staff? Friendly, helpful? : We met 3 different camp hosts; all were quite personable. One of them makes little wood and bead hanging souvenirs which she gives away (unless you want to donate a little to help her defray the costs - I did.)

Noise info: Upper Rock Creek Road is a busy road on a holiday weekend, but the sound of the cars above really wasn't that bothersome. The creek meanders here, so we didn't have the sound of a rushing, fast creek that we like.

Restrooms: Yes, with clean flush toilets, sinks with running water, and heaters to keep them warm at night.
Showers: No
Pool: No
WiFi: No
Cell phone reception (I have Cingular): No reception in this canyon.
Laundry: No
Store: Closest stores are up at Rock Creek Lodge and Rock Creek Lakes Resort. I visited the latter, which has a small cafe, books, maps, shirts, hats, souvenirs, camping supplies, fishing supplies, ice, and snacks.

Notes for future reservations: Even on a holiday weekend, the campground was not full, nor were any of the other Rock Creek campgrounds, except for the one at the lake. The one at the lake, however, is more like a parking lot, with lots of car traffic. If you come on Monday-Thursday, you can get your choice of spots.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Random Photo #2

February 2005 - Horsetail Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pop! Go the Tomatoes!

I was enjoying a new (to me) blog today, called The Wednesday Chef. Luisa states that her blog "was started in the summer of 2005 to find out if the newspaper recipes really work, which food writer has the best ideas, if the newspapers' feud for "Best Food Section in America" is just in Luisa's imagination, and which paper has a better test kitchen." I've found four or five recipes so far to try, and one of them made it to my dinner table tonight. I was drawn to the picture she posted of this dish, since I love grape tomatoes, and saw that this would be a quick and easy dish to make. The original recipe, from Barbara Fairchild of Bon Appetít, called for cherry tomatoes and bone-in breasts. I used grape tomatoes and boneless breasts. I cooked this in my convection/toaster oven, and was amused by the sound of popping tomatoes as it cooked. I'm glad they didn't pop all over the inside of the oven! The best part about this dish was the intense flavor of the roasted tomatoes with every bite of chicken.

Spicy Roasted Chicken with Grape Tomatoes
from Bon Appetít
12 ounces whole grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves, garlic pressed
¾ teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 bone-in chicken breasts (I used boneless)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper and marjoram in a large bowl to combine.
2. Place the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the tomato mixture over the chicken, arranging the tomatoes in a single layer on the sheet around the chicken. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast until the chicken is cooked through and the tomatoes are blistered, about 35 minutes.
3. Transfer the chicken to plates. Spoon the tomatoes and juices over the chicken and serve.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Why Should I Follow Directions?

Because THIS happens:Let me explain what it is you're looking at. That's a turkey burger that disintegrated upon being turned while it was cooking on the grill. All of the burger is now underneath the grill instead of on top of it.

The directions for this recipe said to use a grill pan. I thought it would taste better on the grill. I mean, anything tastes better on the grill. How was I to know it would fall apart like that? We're very glad we made four of them, and were able to enjoy the other three once we brought them inside and cooked them in a skillet.

Barbecue Turkey Burgers
from Cooking Light

¼ cup chopped onion
¼ cup barbecue sauce, divided
2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
¾ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 lb. ground turkey
Cooking spray
4 large leaf lettuce leaves
4 (¼-inch-thick) slices tomato
4 (1 1/2-ounce) hamburger buns
Combine the onion, 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce, breadcrumbs, and the next 5 ingredients (breadcrumbs through turkey) in a medium bowl. Divide turkey mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a 1 1/2 inch-thick patty. Heat a grill pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Place patties in pan; cook 7 minutes on each side or until done. Place 1 lettuce leaf, 1 tomato slice, and 1 patty on the bottom half of each bun. Spread each patty with 1 1/2 teaspoons barbecue sauce. Cover with top halves of buns.

I made one minor change at the end on my burger: I used some of yesterday's chipotle mayonnaise. Don had the barbecue sauce. We both think this recipe is wonderful. I tasted some of the meat before I had it with the chipotle mayonnaise, and I think these seasonings would make for a great meat loaf.

This is my entry for Paul and Freya's event, the Big Burger Ballyhoo 2007. I will probably get disqualified, though, since the main requirement was that "All submissions must be able to be cooked on a barbecue," and this definitely couldn't! But it's a burger, and I started to cook it on the grill, until it fell apart.

On the side, I made some stovetop macaroni and cheese. I've been looking for a long time for a recipe that didn't use flour. It always seemed that I could taste the flour, when I was hoping for creamy. This recipe originally called for all shredded cheddar, but I'm a Texas born and bred Velveeta fan, so I used 1/2 cup cheddar and 1 cup Velveeta. It came out tasting 10 times better than that stuff in the blue box.

Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese
1 1/2 cups uncooked macaroni (I used small shells)
1 egg
4 oz. evaporated milk (don't use fresh)
1/2 tsp. dry mustard dissolved in 1/2 tsp. water
dash Tabasco sauce
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup cubed Velveeta

Boil 2 quarts of water; add macaroni and cook until tender but still firm. Drain. In a separate bowl, mix the egg, half of the evaporated milk, the Tabasco sauce, and pepper. Return pasta to cooking pot, turn on low heat and stir in butter until melted. Stir in egg mixture and the cheddar. Cook over low heat, gradually stirring in Velveeta and milk until all is hot and creamy.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I'm in Love with Chipotle Mayo!

Okay, so I've lived under a rock all these years. I've seen chipotle mayonnaise at the store, made by Kraft, I think, but never tried it. Never thought it would be something I liked. Until now. I tried some at lunch during our fact-finding hearing last week, and decided I really, really like it. So I made some here at home. Pretty simple - all I did was take one chipotle (I keep them individually frozen once I open a can) and diced it up, and mixed it with a cup of mayonnaise. The first thing I made with it was this bagel. I took an asiago cheese bagel, toasted it, spread it with chipotle mayonnaise, then added some ham and swiss cheese. Then I ran it under the broiler to melt the cheese. Yum! My taste buds still want more. Don says I need to slow down and not eat it every day, or else I'll get tired of it. But what else can I do with it? Does anybody use it in cooking?

After my spicy lunch, I decided to make some dessert. I found this recipe on, and adapted it to make it with even fewer carbs. (What's prune butter? The old recipe called for prune butter - which I figured out must be a fat replacement. So I used applesauce). One thing I would change when I make these again is to NOT use paper cups - the chocolate filling stuck so hard to the paper cups that they could not be separated. We ended up throwing away half of the cupcake since it stuck to the paper. So next time, I'll just spray the tins with nonstick spray.

Black-Bottom Cheesecake Cups
adapted from Cooking Light

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup Splenda Granular
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon instant espresso granules
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup water
3.9-4 oz. container unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 package (8-ounce) nonfat cream cheese, softened
½ cup sifted powdered sugar
1 egg
Vegetable cooking spray
½ cup semisweet chocolate morsels
¼ cup chopped almonds

Preheat oven to 350˚. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine water, prune butter, vinegar, and vanilla; stir well. Add to dry ingredients, stirring with a wire whisk until blended; set chocolate batter aside.
Beat cream cheese in a bowl at medium speed of a mixer until smooth. Add powdered sugar and egg, and beat until well-blended; set cream cheese mixture aside.

Coat 18 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. Divide chocolate batter evenly among cups; spoon cream cheese mixture evenly on top of chocolate batter in each cup. Sprinkle chocolate morsels and almonds over cream cheese mixture. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans 5 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire rack.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Sweet Cabbage Salad

I spent some time this afternoon playing catch-up with my recipes - I use MacGourmet to keep them on my computer, and had selected a lot of recipes from several months' worth of Cooking Light to try. We were going to have steak and corn on the cob on the grill for dinner, and I wanted to use up a half head of cabbage. This one looked easy and tasty. Don really liked it - he said he likes it even better than cole slaw. The original recipe from the magazine used 1/4 cup of sugar, but I substituted Splenda granular and it was fine. I've noticed that when I'm mixing Splenda granular with vinegar it really tastes like sugar.

Sweet Cabbage Salad
adapted from Cooking Light
3 cups shredded cabbage (about 1/2 head)
½ cup shredded carrot (about 1 medium)
½ cup chopped green bell pepper (about 1 medium)
¼ cup chopped red onion
3 tablespoons Splenda granular
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon celery seeds
¼ teaspoon salt
Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; toss well. Combine Splenda and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Pour vinegar mixture over cabbage mixture, tossing gently to combine. Cover; chill 1 hour. Serves 4

Monday, May 14, 2007

Pasta Salad, Chicken and Corn Torte

Yesterday, I was having a beef craving, so I asked Don to cook hamburgers on the grill. Why are burgers so much better on the grill? The beef was lean, and the cheese was a low-fat cheddar - and the flavor was divine. To go with them, I made a pasta salad using some whole-wheat penne. I had some Dreamfields, too, but decided to work on using up the whole wheat first before I make the switch completely. This pasta salad ended up better than my previous ones, since I used a mixture of mayonnaise and Miracle Whip instead of straight Miracle Whip, put in a few more pickles than I normally did, and added shredded carrots.

Pasta Salad

8 oz. pasta, cooked and cooled (macaroni, penne, shells)
2 Tbsp. chopped onion
1/4 cup diced sweet pickle (I used 6 baby gherkins)
14 cup shredded carrot (I used 6 baby carrots)
3 hard-boiled eggs, diced
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. Miracle Whip
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients; chill until ready to serve.

Tonight I had a little time to make dinner, so I threw together this miniature casserole. I call it a torte, because it's similar to a dish I had at El Torito Grill a couple of weeks ago - layers of tortilla with chicken, corn, cheese, and sauce. The picture doesn't do it justice - it was really good!

Chicken and Corn Torte

1/4 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 15-oz. can corn, drained
1 10-oz can Old El Paso Medium red enchilada sauce
2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and diced
5 corn tortillas
1 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 375˚. In a small skillet, sauté the onion in the olive oil until onion is golden. Add drained corn and stir until any liquid left over in the corn is gone. Spray a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Put a tablespoon of the enchilada sauce in the dish, and then a corn tortilla. Spread half of the onion-corn mixture and top with 1/6 of the shredded cheese. Spoon over a few tablespoons of enchilada sauce. Put another tortilla in the pan, and top that with half of the chicken, another 1/6 of the cheese, and some more sauce. Repeat layers. Top all with the 5th tortilla, the last couple tablespoons of sauce, and the last of the cheese. Cover and bake 30-35 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve with some sour cream and tortilla chips on the side.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Took the Fence Down

When we first moved into our house up here in the mountains, it had a fenced-in back yard. I would estimate about half of the homes here have fences and half don't. I like the don'ts. But we had a dog, so we needed the fence. Now this fence was in pretty bad shape all along the south side. Whoever built the house next to us, which is uphill from us, just dug out the hole for the foundation, and pushed all the dirt and rocks up against our fence. So through the years, the fence gradually leaned further and further into our yard until it was almost on its side. Last summer, a strong windstorm took down the back fence, which Don replaced because it's up against a small creekbed and we wanted to keep a little privacy.

Don decided he'd take the side fence down, and was getting ready to go to Home Depot to get more posts and wood to replace it. We sat and looked at the yard without it for a while, and thought, "you know, it looks much better without a fence there." In the front of the house, he'd built 3 terraces into the yard and had lined them with creek rocks, and with the fence gone, you could see 3 more terraces. The openness looks good, and when we use the barbecue grill, we don't feel closed in. He spent the fence money on plants, burlap netting for erosion protection, a new hose, and a few other whatnots that men find to spend money on at Home Depot.

Southwestern Cards

Nothing difficult here - rooster stamped with black ink on a white scrap, which is mounted on a black leather-textured scrap, which is mounted on snakeskin-textured paper. All is then mounted on a white card.

The circular southwest design is black-embossed on a piece of torn suede-paper. The gold textured paper has a black raffia bow, a string of beads, and two feathers glued to it. The striped feather came from a fly fishing store - fishermen use them to make flies.

The three circles are southwestern images black-embossed on copper paper. They are mounted on pop dots. The black strip was swiped with top boss, then sprinkled with clear embossing powder and heated. The little swirls are stamped with copper ink at random on a green card.

For this one, I first applied pastel pigment inks to a piece of white cardstock, sprinkled with clear embossing powder, and heated to set. Next I stamped the canyons image with black pigment, and used more clear ep to set that image. I cut the image into quarters and mounted it on black cardstock, which was then mounted on a pink card. I then created a small string of beads and adhered it to a black scrap, which is glued on the card.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Grilled Pork and a Fruit Salad "Dessert"

I get to cook again! No more late night work, just more time with my members at their sites and more time with my husband here at home.

It was perfect grill weather today, so I had Don cook a pork tenderloin on the grill. I made this sauce, and gave him a little to baste the meat when it was almost finished. We used the rest as a dipping sauce - it was soooo good.

Grilled Pork with Apricot Sauce

1 pork tenderloin (about 12 oz.)
1 cup apricot preserves
2 T lemon juice
2 T ketchup
1 T honey
2 t soy sauce
1/8 t ground ginger

While pork is grilling, combine the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook and stir until heated through. Use about a quarter cup of the sauce to baste the pork as it nears doneness. Use the rest as a dipping sauce or drizzled over the sliced meat.

I also threw together a fruit salad this afternoon so it could get cold in time for dessert later this evening. It's one of those salads that is made from ingredients you usually have on hand, and it can be lightened up by using sugar-free pudding and no-sugar-added fruit.

Fruit Pudding Salad

1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks
1 (16 ounce) can peach slices
1 (11 ounce) can mandarin orange sections
1 large apple
1 (3 3/4 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding
1 ½ cups milk (cold)
⅓ cup frozen orange juice concentrate (thawed)
¾ cup sour cream
Drain canned fruits.
Core and chop apple.
Combine all fruit in bowl and set aside.
Beat box of pudding with cold milk and orange juice concentrate for 2 minutes.
Beat in sour cream.
Fold this mixture into fruit mixture.
Cover and chill thoroughly. It comes out slightly soupy, so use a spoon!

Random Photo #1

This was taken in 1979 along the Gros Ventre River east of Grand Teton National Park. It was a cloudy, gloomy day, and at just the right moment the sun came out and highlighted the red hills.

Friday, May 11, 2007

We Have a Settlement!

For those of you who have been following our bargaining crisis, I can tell you now, proudly, that we reached an agreement with the district last night at 2:30 AM. After 17 1/2 hours, not to mention the 638 days before that, we finally have a fair, comparable, and competive offer to take to our membership.

For more information, visit our blog after 5:00 pm PST tomorrow (Saturday).

Yucaipa-Calimesa Teacher

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Zucchini & Noodles

When my children were still living with us, before they grew up and went out on their own, this was one of their favorite dishes. It's pretty simple, and if you use whole grain pasta, it can be pretty healthy.

Zucchini and Noodles

8 oz. fusilli pasta
3 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 T olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 c lowfat or skim milk
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Cook and drain pasta according to package directions. In a large skillet, saute the zucchini in olive oil until brown. Remove from pan. Add onion to skillet and cook until lightly golden. Add milk and continue to cook until reduced. Return zucchini to pan along with Parmesan, salt and pepper. Combine and heat through. Serve with additional Parmesan.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Cookin' with Cyndi is now RUMINATIONS

I've been contemplating a name change, along with a content change. I want to do ALL my blogging in one blog - my travel and rv blogging and my cooking blogging in one place. In addition, I plan to add my stamping, cardmaking, and scrapbooking.

I hope you like the new look!

To start things off in the scrapbooking theme, I'll post one of my layouts from a trip I took two years ago to Portland, Oregon.

Chile-Roasted Edamame

I had an almost-full bag of edamame in my freezer - the kind from Trader Joe's that's shelled and ready to eat. I'd used some a few months ago for a rice recipe, and decided to use up the rest of it since it had been a while since I bought it. In searching through recipezaar, I came across this recipe by someone named Mercy. I really like the results - especially cold. They're a good salty snack. Don doesn't like them. So I guess you have to try and decide for yourself.

Chile-Roasted Edamame

12 oz. frozen edamame, shelled
2 teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon onion salt
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
⅛ teaspoon paprika
⅛ tablespoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 375˚. Stir together the oil and spices in a small bowl. Toss the beans in the oil-spice mixture until well coated. Arrange beans in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Roast, uncovered, 12-15 minutes, stirring once, until the beans begin to brown. Refrigerate any leftovers.

This can be eaten hot or cold. Makes a great snack.

Friday, May 04, 2007

What's in Your Fridge?

The other day, Sam of Becks & Posh asked what was in our refrigerators. I went to the commissary today, so mine's happily full again. And since I embarked on my decluttering campaign and cleaned it out, I'm not ashamed to show it!

Fish with Crispy Potatoes

Borrowed from Helen of Beyond Salmon, this recipe is very simple. Helen calls it "comfort food," and I have to agree. It's not often that you have potatoes with fish (well, unless you're having your fish fried). In my mind, fish is served with rice, though I'm sure there are all kinds of "appropriate" side dishes. I used mahi mahi for this dish tonight, since I had the individually-wrapped and frozen filets from Costco.

Fish with Crispy Potatoes

Butter for greasing the baking dish
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ cup chopped parsley
4 tilapia or other firm white fillets

Set the racks in the bottom third and middle positions of your oven. Preheat the oven to 425F. Heavily butter a large shallow baking dish (about 10 by 16 inches).
Peel potatoes and slice into very thin (1/8" thick circles) using an adjustable blade slicer. Slice the garlic paper thin.

Mix potatoes, half of sliced garlic, olive oil 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and spread evenly in the baking dish in a single overlapping layer. Bake in the bottom third of the oven for 15 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender and starting to crisp around the edges of the baking dish.

Mix the remaining half of sliced garlic, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a large plate. Rub into fish fillets. Place fish fillets in a single layer on top of potatoes and bake in the middle of the oven 10 minutes per inch of thickness or until the fish is opaque in the center, but still juicy.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Just Checking In

A lot of activity at work (and after work) has kept me from writing - we had a great time at our picketing yesterday.

for up-to-date information on what's going on with our labor crisis, go to our blog, here.

I'll try to write about cooking in the next couple of days.