Friday, June 30, 2006

I'll Show You Mine, If You Show Me Yours #2

Among the thousands of things Sweetnicks does is something new, called “I’ll Show You Mine, if You Show Me Yours.”

I was out of town for the refrigerator posts - and that’s just as well. My fridge is a total mess! Since it still works, it’s low on the priority list of things to spend money on. I think this one is about 24 year old - we bought it the year before our son Kenny was born. If we can get this one to last 5 more years, it’ll be out last full-sized refrigerator, since our next one after that will be in our RV. (My plan is to retire into an RV and hit the road full time. At least until we get tired of it.)

This week, it’s all about our spice racks. I started with one. Then had to add a second one. And then had to add a shelf for the large bottles of spices I use a lot of. So here they are. And yes, they’re in alphabetical order!

Here's what's on the shelves: allspice, basil, bay leaves, whole black peppercorns, coarse black pepper, celery salt, celery seed, ancho chili powder, chipotle chili pepper, cilantro, cinnamon, ground cloves, whole cloves, ground coriander, cream of tartar, ground cumin, curry powder, hot curry powder, dill weed, instant minced garlic, garlic powder, garlic salt, ground ginger, Italian seasoning, lemon peel, marjoram, Montreal steak seasoning, ground mustard, nutmeg, onion powder, orange peel, oregano, paprika, parsley, poppy seeds, poultry seasoning, pumpkin pie spice, ground cayenne red pepper, crushed red pepper, rosemary, rubbed sage, sesame seeds, tarragon, thyme, turmeric, ground white pepper.

Go to Sweetnicks to see the roundup.

Home for a Quick Resupply and Gone Again

I love the mountains. I love the Rockies and the High Sierras. I've got a small problem with the southern Cascades, though. You see, right now we camp in a tent trailer that doesn't have air conditioning. So everywhere we camp has got to be at a pretty high altitude during the summer, because I also hate being hot. Our most recent trip was to the eastern Sierras and a quick overnighter in the Lassen area in northern California--those darn Cascades aren't really a mountain range, just lots of beautiful volcanoes rising out of the lava flows.

Here's how our trip went:

Two days before we left, we received a phone call from the campground reservation folks that we couldn't come to Trumbull Lake, our first destination. The explanation given was that it was still closed because of the snow. So, we made some changes in our plans and pressed on. First we drove up the 395 to Bridgeport, and then southwest on Twin Lakes Road to Twin Lakes. After deciding that we didn't want to stay at a crowded "resort" near the lakes, we found a perfect Forest Service campsite on Robinson Creek, the creek that flows out of Twin Lakes. By perfect, I mean it had lots of shade from the tall pines, it was far away from other sites, it was within walking distance to the bathrooom, and was close to the creek. From that campground, we drove to the Virginia Lakes at 9200 feet, where DH spent two days on the water in his float tube catching and releasing lots of rainbows, cutthroats, and brown trout. I happily cheered him on from my chair, where I read, sunned, and enjoyed the beautiful scenerey. I also learned the importance of sunscreen at 9200 feet. My shins are burnt! We also spent two days on several different creeks in the area, including Robinson Creek, as well as on Twin Lakes. The days were warm - 80's - and the nights were nice and cold, just like I like 'em.

On day 5 we continued north on the 395, and drove to northeastern California, where we'd made reservations at a campground called Lassen Pines. Now, wouldn't you think that a place called Lassen Pines would be close to Lassen and would be in the PInes? This place was neither. It was a nice campground, but it was 40+ miles from Lassen (Volcanic National Park), and was in the oaks. There were a few pines scattered around, but not many. When we made the reservation I'd asked about the fishing opportunities and was assured that they were many, and were close. I guess "many" means within an hour's drive. I'd also asked about temperatures, and was told they were "mild," but when we arrived it was 95 degrees in the shade. Aaacckk. Over lunch we decided to stay just one night and to go back to the Sierras the next day. We spent the afternoon in the swimming pool, sat in the shade until it cooled down enough to cook dinner, and then went to bed. It didn't cool down until around midnight. Too hot for me.

Day 6 saw us headed back DOWN the 395, and we stopped at June Lake - a place we'd been to many times before. Five lakes within a 5-15 minute drive (one within walking distance), creeks, and it was 8500 feet. Back to cool days and cold nights! We had a wonderful 2 1/2 days there, and came home the afternoon of the third day. We've now done our laundry and shopping, paid the bills, cleaned the vehicles and the house, and are ready to go to Colorado Sunday morning.

Here are some great camping meals we had on our trip:

1. Hamburgers with corn
2. Hot dogs with baked beans
3. Geschnetzeltes with boiled potatoes (recipe available)
4. Chicken breasts with pineapple salsa (I'll post that recipe below), rice a roni
5. Chicken breasts with raspberry balsamic vinegar, rice a roni
6. Cornmeal-breaded fried fish with carrot salad and turnip greens
7. Fleishsalat with rye bread (recipe below)

1. Pancakes! Twice!
2. Corned beef hash with eggs
3. Sausage-Egg Quesadillas (recipe available)
4. Pfannenkuchen (also called Pfannkuchen, Klettiten, or Swedish Crepes) with lingonberries and sausage. Recipe below.

Pineapple Salsa

1 6-oz. can crushed pineapple, undrained
2 t brown sugar or 1 t Splenda brown sugar blend
2 T finely chopped purple onion
1-3 t finely chopped jalapeno (depend on how hot you want it)

Combine all ingredients. This makes enough for 2-3 grilled or sauteed chicken breasts.



Fleischsalat is German for "meat salad," and this is an excellent meal to eat when it's hot outside and you don't want to heat up your kitchen. DH"s mother taught me the orginal recipe, which didn't have cheese or tomatoes. I added cheese after having it that way at a restaurant in Zweibrucken, Germany, and then added tomatoes after DH suggested it. We love to eat this with buttered rye bread, since we can't get real Mischbrot here in the States.

1/2 lb. German bologna, thinly sliced
4 thin slices Swiss cheese
1 medium tomato, diced
1 c Kruegermann pickle salad (I suppose you could try dill pickles, but the flavor is truly different)
1/2 c finely chopped onion
1/4 t salt
1/8 t pepper
2 T vegetable oil
1/4 c vinegar
2 T water

Cut the bologna and cheese into strips about 1 1/2 inches long and 1/8 inch wide. Put in medium bowl with tomato, pickle salad, and onion. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix together oil, vinegar, and water. Pour over salad, and stir to combine. Serves 4.


These are very similar to the crepes served at IHOP. Their Swedish Crepes are served with lingonberries, and are my favorites.

2 eggs
1/8 t salt
1/4 c sugar or Splenda granular
1/2 t vinegar
1 T melted butter
1 3/4 c flour
2 c milk
more butter for cooking
lingonberries or preserves of your choice (DH likes blackberry)

Beat eggs well. Add salt, sugar or Splenda, vinegar, and butter. Add flour and 1 cup of the milk; stir until smooth. Gradually add 1 cup more of the milk. Preheat a large (12 inch) skillet, and add 1/2 t butter. When butter is melted, add 1/3 cup of the batter. Quickly turn pan in a circular motion to coat bottom of pan with a thin layer of the batter. Cook about a minute over medium heat; flip to other side and cook another minute or so until lightly browned. Serve with lingonberries or preserves. Makes about 9, or enough to serve 3 people.

Before I sign off, here's a photo of me from my graduation!


Saturday, June 17, 2006

Actually, we DON'T have a Settlement

Friday was an interesting day. Following numerous site meetings and many phone calls between members, the tentative agreement was rejected by our membership. We had the largest turnout for a contract ratification (70%) that we've ever had, and the vote was 61% to 39%. I have mixed feelings - I don't look forward to more months of negotiations, but this vote sends us back to the table in a pretty powerful position. We can say that it's not just the YCEA leadership that is insisting we get a decent cost of living adjustment, it's the membership, too.

I think this'll be the last time I post for a while - tomorrow night's graduation (my master's degree - whoo hoo!), and we leave early Monday morning for our first camping/fishing trip.

See you at the end of June!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

No Time to Cook

Every couple of months or so I pick up a small package of Rondele Garlic-Herb Cheese Spread. I used to eat it on crackers, until I came up with a way to use it as a sauce for chicken. This is heavenly, and the sauce is fabulous over rice or couscous.

Chicken and Mushrooms in Herb Cheese Sauce

1/4 c butter
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 lb. thickly sliced mushrooms
1/2 c dry white wine
4 oz. semisoft herb cheese (Rondele or Alouette)
1/4 t dried dill weed

Melt butter in medium-skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to platter using slotted spoon, keep warm. Add mushrooms to skillet and cook until softened; stirring frequently, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon, sprinkle over chicken. Pour wine into skillet and bring to boil. Add cheese and dill weed and stir until smooth and slightly thickened. Pour over chicken and serve. This is great with hot rice or couscous. Serves 4

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

We Have a Settlement !!!!!!

In our third session with the state mediator, we finally came to an agreement. It was signed this morning. 10 1/2 months of negotiations - a full school year, and we're settled. Neither side is totally thrilled, but that means it's a good settlement. We'll get a decent raise, plus a couple of good language changes to the contract.

But it's over. For now. Whew. No more picketing, no more demonstrations at board meetings; time for rest and relaxation and coming back in the fall for a fresh start.

Cranberry-Orange Pork Chops

I'm always looking for new ways to use those thick pork chops from Costco--and this one is VERY easy. I keep fresh cranberries in my freezer year-round, and pulled out a cup of them for this recipe. I was really pleased with how it turned out--the sauce was good on the rice, too, which we ate with our chops.

Cranberry-Orange Pork Chops

2 thick (3/4") boneless pork chops (I took one of the thick ones from Costco and sliced it in half)
1 T butter
salt and pepper
1 c fresh/frozen cranberries
1 T Splenda brown sugar blend
3/4 c water
2 t cornstarch
1 4-oz. cup mandarin oranges (from Del Monte or Dole snack packs)
hot white rice (optional)

Brown chops on both sides in butter. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Add cranberries, brown sugar, and juice from oranges; cover and simmer about 20 minutes. (Cranberries will release their juices). Remove chops from pan and keep warm. Combine water and cornstarch and add to berries. Simmer, stirring, until thickened. Add oranges and reheat. Serve sauce over chops and rice, if desired. Serves 2.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


For those of you who have checked in and seen that I haven't posted in a long while, I've been super-busy with the ending of the school year and all its accompanying meetings, social activities, and assemblies, along with our ongoing negotiations and crisis organizing. I'll try to post a few times in the next week, but then we're going on several long camping trips. I'll try to take pictures while we're gone and keep in touch.