Tag Archives: love

Live Flavors

As you know, I love food. I love to talk about food. I love to make food. I love to help people find foods that they enjoy. Right now, I am in love with researching different ways in which foods are processed and how that processing affects the flavor and/or nutrition of the food. I do this for no other reason than it interests me. I don’t get paid to do this. It is something that I enjoy learning about and I love passing on new information when I learn about it. Most recently, I have learned about a processing method that does not apply heat, helping to maintain the integrity and the flavor of the original food. Keeping the flavors alive is important in food. Am I wrong? I dare you to tell me I’m wrong. (I know I’m right. 😉 )

Case in point:

Evolution Fresh

There’s a new juice on the block these days. It’s from Evolution Fresh and when I did a side-by-side taste comparison of their orange juice with another brand of high-quality orange juice, I was impressed. (And it takes a lot to impress me where orange juice is concerned because, well, orange juice does not impress me. Juice in general does not impress me.) The first juice was…juice. It tasted just like most any orange juice I have ever had. It’s just juice. And then I tried the Evolution Fresh juice. It was a classic double-take reaction. I did not expect what I tasted. What I tasted was real. It was fresh. It was like the juice my son labored over for 30 minutes one morning, squeezing every orange in the house, just to serve me freshly squeezed orange juice. At the first sip, I had to know more. How did they do it? How did they make this juice that was like actually biting into an orange?

The answer is simple. They don’t heat it. Never. The fresh juice is cold pressed from the fruit, and to process the juice for commercial packaging and sale, it goes through High Pressure Processing. The juice is never heated. And the heat is what kills the vitamins, the enzymes, the FLAVOR of your foods and juices.

I have tasted several more of these juices now, and each one, even the Essential Vegetable, had such an explosion of flavor that I knew I had to make sure people knew about this new company and the amazingness they have to offer.

I really could go on and on about this. But I’ll save it for another post, another day. If you have a chance to check out Evolution Fresh in your neighborhood, you really should. I want to know what you think!

*This is not a paid advertisement. This is just me, really excited about a new thing I tried, and new information I’m learning! 🙂

Leave a Comment

Filed under Food and drink

Traditionally Non-Traditional

Have I ever mentioned how much I love my kids? They are fun and quirky, just like their Mama, but in their own unique ways. We all embrace each other’s individuality, bringing out the best in each other, making every day life fantastically fun together. Part of our fun is that we love tradition, but we also love to break tradition!

Color Me Happy

It’s Easter. So we obviously had to color some eggs. We even made some tea eggs after seeing my sister’s post about making them. Coloring eggs is one of my favorite things. I don’t know why. I don’t even really enjoy hard boiled eggs all that much. But there’s just something about the fun, bright colors of Easter Eggs that bring a smile to my face. I’ll be coloring eggs long after my kids have grown up and moved away from home. It’s a Holiday tradition I enjoy very much.

Baskets o' Plenty

Let’s not forget the candy, of course. Our baskets were left in front of the fireplace for the Easter Bunny last night. This year, we all have “proper” baskets. I have struggled every year with the fact that my kids don’t have nice baskets that they will enjoy bringing out year after year, even as adults, like I have. I’ve just never found nice ones that we liked. Some years we didn’t even have a basket, so the Easter Bunny would leave their treats in new lunch boxes or new baseball caps. Always fun, but this year when we looked, the kids decided they both really liked the plain wood ones. They are sturdy enough that I think they will last a long time for them! And we awoke to our baskets filled with candy, candy, and more candy, plus some notebooks, coasters, books, and even new toothbrushes for the kids (their Dentist will surely be happy to hear that! lol)

Traditionally Non-Traditional Easter Dinner

So, what does a silly family like ours have for dinner on Easter? I’m so glad you asked. Cheeseburgers, of course. I was asked by someone today if I would be having a big ham dinner. He seemed a bit taken aback when I said “No, we’ll be having cheeseburgers for our Easter dinner tonight.” He asked me if that was a family tradition. It was then that I realized our “tradition” is that we like to be “non-traditional”. He seemed pleased with my response, and thought it was a pretty cool way to enjoy Holidays. [By making a tradition of breaking traditions.]

Our Easter dinner, 2012: Cheeseburgers, piled high with plenty of melted sharp cheddar cheese, fresh lettuce and tomatoes, and some thinly sliced red onion. Paired with artichokes [with lemon butter for dipping!] and sweet potatoes, and of course some deviled eggs (gotta use those colored eggs somehow, right?)

And the weather for this day? PERFECT! We made great use of our deck for the first time since we moved in here, and enjoyed our fantastically fun dinner outside, giggling about our silliness and enjoying each other’s company and laughter.

I hope you enjoyed your Holiday as much as we did.

1 Comment

Filed under Entertainment, Life in General

Loves of my Life

Heart Day Dinner for the Loves of my Life! xoxo

I celebrated my first Valentine’s Day as a single woman by recognizing the true loves of my life. The two people I spend the majority of my free time with. Who love me unconditionally (even when they “hate” me momentarily), and who I love unconditionally.  They bring me joy every day with their smiles and their laughter. They keep my life interesting and bring a ray of light even on my darkest days.

They are my favorite boy and girl in the whole wide world. They talk back. They forget to do their homework. They drive me crazy. And I love every minute of it, because more importantly, they have smiles and hugs that would melt an ice queen’s heart, they tell stories about their day and about their friends. They tell jokes. They fight and they love and they do it with their entire heart and soul.

I love you, my favorite kiddos! Thank you for sharing Heart Day with your silly mama. xoxo

So… what did I make for these most fabulous kiddos of mine? Nothing super fancy, just some of our favorite foods, shaped into hearts. My easy meatloaf, paired with roasted carrots [drizzled with olive oil and tossed with chopped red onion], julienne beets, and some mashed potatoes [I used up the last of the ranch dressing I made last weekend and that added really great flavor, along with the homemade butter I mixed in.] Comfort food with great conversation and giggles at dinner.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Holidays

Reusable Memories

Stacks of Memories!

I use real dishes. Yes, even for parties with many people in attendance, I use glass plates, glasses, and flatware, and I even use cloth napkins. It’s not that I’m a snob about dishes. Not at all. I have a hodge podge mix of plates, bowls, glasses, flatware, and napkins. There are matching sets among the mix, but for a large group, nothing matches, and I rather prefer it that way. It’s casual. It’s fun. It’s me.

When the party is over and all the guests have left, I walk around and pick up stray plates, glasses, and whatever else is sitting on tables, window sills, next to chairs… and this brings a smile to my face, because I know that everyone enjoyed themselves and as I stack up the plates and line up the glasses, it’s like I’m stacking up memories with every clink of dishes hitting against each other. And those memories will get to come out and play again and again as those dishes are used for nightly family dinners, dinner with friends, parties “just because”, impromptu get-togethers, and much more. And those memories are worth more than any possible breakage might cost to replace.

Remember: Use the good stuff. Today is special.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Cooking With Love, Entertainment

Food Trials: Beef Jerky

Have you seen Runaway Bride? What about the famous egg scene from that movie? In that scene, our Runaway Bride is standing in the kitchen with eggs prepared several different ways, having a taste test. Why? Well, as she explains, she doesn’t know what kind of eggs she likes. She has always eaten her eggs in the same manner as her current “beau”. This, I believe, is all-too-common.

I find myself in similar situations as I realize I am in my mid-30s and fully, 100% single for the first time in my adult life. And, surprisingly, it’s not too bad (most of the time, anyway…but you don’t want to hear the boring details of my non-dating life).

Early in the fall, my kiddos and I spent a weekend at my baby sis’s house to attend a local festival where we got to make fresh apple cider. Before heading her way for the weekend, I decided we should bring some beef jerky from our hometown. I ran into a problem with this. I don’t know which shop’s beef jerky I like best. So, what’s a girl to do? Well, buy from all of them and have a taste test, of course.

And so, in true Runaway Bride fashion, I gathered up some beef jerky from the shops in our hometown and set up a taste test for everyone. Here’s what I discovered: Of the 3 we tried, I found 1 to be too dry and too salty. The other 2 both had good flavor, with 1 that I had never even tried previously coming out the clear winner in my book. It was the least salty of the 3, and had the most interest with different layers of flavor and smokiness. But the real discovery? I guess I’m just not a beef jerky kinda girl. Yes, that’s right, the results of this taste test for me was: I don’t really care about beef jerky.

Stay tuned for more food trials. There are many foods I have not tried. Some because I’ve just never had the opportunity, and others because someone else said they didn’t like it, so I just never made it. My kiddos are pretty adventurous with food, so they’ll get to try some of these foods with me, as well. But some, well, some I will make for myself on my own date night when I find myself at home by myself watching sappy chick flicks (like Runaway Bride and Eat, Pray, Love). Because I deserve to eat well, even when I’m eating alone.

What are some foods you have always wanted to try but for whatever reason, just haven’t? Will you join me in this food trial and share your new food experiences with everyone?

1 Comment

Filed under Food Trials

Happy New Year 2012

I am finally feeling settled in our new home. Just in time for the New Year! I have spent New Year’s Eve baking and cleaning and preparing for what is going to be an amazing 2012. How do I know it’s going to be amazing? Well, because I said so! Someone once told me that having a great day is a choice, and I think the same is true of the entire year, so I’m making a choice right now to have an amazing 2012. I hope you’ll join me in that choice.

Tomorrow I will re-enter civilization with the installation of internet at home. We also have cable being installed, but ssshhhh… that’s a surprise for the kiddos. 😉

Happy New Year! It's going to be amazing! xoxo

A toast to you in this New Year. Happy New Year! My wish for you is to always remember that you deserve to be happy. xoxo

Leave a Comment

Filed under Holidays

Homeward Bound: The Incredibl(y Long) Journey

Homeward Bound: The Incredibl(y Long) Journey—Guest Blog by Flik

So, we all know that my aunt, Just Frances, was born a homeless transient. Well, we’ve also known for some time that I ‘want to be just like her’. I want to go to Scotland, live in small towns, etc. Well, I am close to ‘just like her’ at this current moment in time (and space)—Because of the status of our move from our little Redneckville to Tree Hole, I am a semi-homeless transient.
I don’t know where my home is anymore. I’ve never had an actual, full-on, dictionary example of a home. I lived in an old house until I was four or five, then an apartment for about 2 to 4 more years, another apartment for 7 or 8 years, and finally a rental old house for 2 years. Now, I’ve been in the Judge’s house for a couple of months to stay somewhere as I move stuff over to our new apartment every weekend.
So, where do I say my ‘home’ is? I’ve always just called where I lived my home, not that it ever truly was. Now, I’m totally confused. And, due to my recent addiction to ‘Doctor Who’, I am not confused easily(I’ve learned how to follow paradoxes effectively within the past few months.). So, this is my new mission to life-
Find home.

—————————————————————————–

Now a note from That Cook Girl (Flik’s Mom)

“Home”, for me, is what you make it. Flik sent me her guest post late last week. And I waited to post it because I wanted to find the right words to add my thoughts on “home” and let her (and my son also) know that I am always home when I am with them… The right words never came. And today, I stopped by our new apartment and checked the mail before heading off for a lunch meeting. In our new mailbox was a card from Scotland. It made me smile carrying that card with me all day, knowing how much joy it would bring my kids when we sat together to open it. (Yes, I actually waited until we were all together… it was, afterall, addressed to the whole family.) What I read inside that card brought a tear to my eye, because my sister could not have known of Flik’s upcoming blog post when she mailed it to us, and yet, the words were perfect.

Frances writes:

“It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home.” -author unknown

Welcome home!!I hope that your hearts find much joy in [Tree Hole]!! I love you all!! <3 Frances xxx

2 Comments

Filed under Cooking With Love, Guest Posts

Eating From Boxes

Sometimes, life throws you curve lemons. 😉

I’ve learned over the years, as many who have come before me, that if there is one thing in life that will always remain constant, it’s that nothing stays the same. And if ever there was a doubt, my life as of late proves just that. I won’t go into the terribly boring details of these changes, except maybe 1 of them. It’s the reason we are eating from boxes and the biggest reason for my recent “hiatus” from the blog-osphere. We’re moving to a new town, a new community.

Oh, words that I never thought I’d say, at least not before my children had finished school in our little town. But, I realized that as times change, as people change, as circumstances change, sometimes, well, you gotta roll with the punches, catch some lemons, and throw some curve balls of your own right back at life. So that’s what we’re doing.

While we transition to our new home, we’re staying with friends. Have you ever picked up your kids and inserted yourself into the middle of someone else’s home and family for a few months? Yeah, it’s a lot harder than you would think. But we’re managing and so far I think we’ll remain friends once our stay there is complete.

Last weekend, we found ourselves spending our first night in our new apartment, in our new town. We’re not fully moved in there, and won’t complete the move until mid-November, but until then, we’ll be spending our weekends there, setting up the new place, and eating from boxes. I won’t be posting a lot for awhile, but my kiddos have said they’ll write a couple posts. I will get back to posting once things settle and the boxes disappear from my life. 😉

(I leave you with this picture: Our box table with celebratory drink before dinner. This was the boy child’s idea. I was going to just put the table cloth on the floor, but he really wanted to set up a “real” table. Isn’t he a cool kid?–No, you can’t have him. He’s mine. 🙂 )

2 Comments

Filed under Cooking With Love

Bagel Day

Making bagels is one of those things people just don’t expect to be so easy. A bit time-consuming, but easy and worth the effort! I have made these bagels many times, and the last time I made them was Memorial Day weekend while my sister was in town. She went for a quick run one morning, (I say “quick”, but it wasn’t. It was 13 miles- a half marathon! She’s AWESOME!) and I thought she’d enjoy some fresh-out-of-the-oven bagels. (And she did.) My niece came by that afternoon also. Just to hang out with my kids and my sister’s foster daughter. They hung out, played some games and she marvelled at me actually making bagels from scratch. She called me an awesome cook. Yeah, my head got a little bigger that day.

On this particular day, I created blueberry bagels (using a bag of dried blueberries) and cheese bagels (using a mixture of asiago and parmesan cheeses). There are still a few sitting in the freezer. I think my kids have forgotten that they are there. But my niece remembered. She was over a few nights ago and asked if she could steal a couple bagels before she left for work. Of course I said yes. Because what good is making the food if I’m not gonna share it, right?

In the past I have made bagels to bring to work, and even sent a few along on a hunting trip for a friend. And do you know what’s funny? I don’t really love bagels all that much. But I really enjoy making them! And sharing them, of course! 🙂

The bagel recipe follows… it uses a mix (that I also included the recipe for) and someday I’ll post other recipes that use this same mix. Enjoy!

Bagels
· 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast or 1 (1/4-oz.) package
· 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water 110F (45C)
· 5 cups HOT ROLL MIX **
· Cornmeal
· 3 qt. water
· 1 Tablespoon sugar
· 1 egg yolk, beaten
· 1 Tablespoon water
· Poppy seens, sesame seeds or coarse salt
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1-1/2 cups lukewarm water. Beat in 4-1/2 cups HOT ROLL MIX. Let rest 2 minutes. Add enough mix to make a very stiff dough. On a lightly floured surface knead dough until smooth, 5-10 minutes. Add more mix to surface as needed. Dough will be quite firm. Lightly butter bowl. Put dough in bowl and turn to butter top. Cover dough with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 30-45 minutes.

Punch down dough; knead 4-5 times. Divide in half. Divide each half into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball. Flatten each ball with palm of hand. Holding a ball with both hands, force one thumb through center. Place bagel on lightly floured surface. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover lightly; let rise in a warm place 2-30 minutes.

Lightly grease 2 baking sheets. Sprinkle with cornmeal; set aside. In a 5-qart pot, bring 3 quarts water to a boil. Add sugar. Lower hear to keep water boling gently.

Use slotted spoon to carefully lower bagels, one at a time, into boiling water. Turning often, cook until slightly puffed, about 5 minutes. Add more water if necessary. Drain bagels briefly on paper towels.

Preheat oven to 400F (205C). Arrange bagels, not touching, on prepared baking sheets. Combine egg yolk and 1 Tablespoon water. Brush bagels with egg yolk mixture. Leave plain, or sprinkle with poppy seeds, sesame seeds or coarse salt. Bake 15-20 minutes in oven until browned. Cool on a rack. Makes 16 bagels.

—-Make-A-Mix cookbook

My notes: Add more flavor! You are limited only by your imagination!
· Mix in chives and garlic to the dough. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.
· Mix in cinnamon and craisins or raisins
· Mix in dried minced onion and top with additional onion

** Hot Roll Mix
· 5 lb. (20 cups) all-purpose flour
· 1-1/4 cups sugar
· 4 teaspoons salt
· 1 cup instant nonfat dry milk
Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Stir together to distribute evenly. Put in a large airtight container. Label with date and contents. Store in a cool, dry place. Use within 6-8 months. Makes about 22 cups Hot Roll Mix.

Variation
Use 9 cups whole-wheat flour and 8 cups all-purpose flour instead of 20 cups all-purpose flour. Decrease sugar to 1 cup.

2 Comments

Filed under Breads & Rolls, Cooking With Love, Recipes

Cherries to Cheer You

Yesterday was National Cherry Cobbler Day. Cherry Pie is one of my favorite desserts (not that I eat it, or any other dessert, very often… In fact, last time I had Cherry Pie was when I had lunch with a friend back in October at Twede’s Cafe.) As you know, I’ve never really been great at making pie crust, so Cherry Cobbler is second best, since it does not require the labor (of love) of making the crust.

So, in order to celebrate the Holiday, it seemed appropriate to make a cobbler. And since the day’s work brought me to Prosser, home of Chukar Cherries, I took a moment to stop in. I had never been to their store previously, and I was greeted by one of the best smiles backed up with the most excellent customer service I’ve experienced in a long while. (Thank you, Tami! You were a true bright spot in my week.) So, I was happy to pick up a beautiful jar of cherries, along with a snack pack of nuts and dried cherries to stash in my desk for a quick “pick me up”. And because I was made to feel important while in that little shop, I will definitely be stopping in again.

Now, I know that what you’re actually waiting for is to see the cobbler come together, right? So, without further ado:

Triple Cherry Pie and Cobbler Filling from Chukar Cherries, and some Dove Dark Chocolate

Pour cherries into ungreased casserole dish, and grate chocolate over the top.

”]

Bake at 400* until biscuits are browned and filling is bubbly.

Invite a friend over and enjoy with ice cream and laughter to cheer you!

I was blessed to have my best friend and her kiddos join me and my kiddos for this cheerful dessert. We agreed that the chocolate grated over the top of the cherries made all the difference in this wonderful mid-week treat. Thanks for joining me, friend!

2 Comments

Filed under Cooking With Love, Dessert, Recipes