Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Autumn Wishes

"The woods are full of fairies,
The sea is full of fish, 
The trees are full of golden leaves.
Let's make an Autumn wish."

~Anon~


"And as the seasons come and go,
Here's something you might like to know.
There are fairies everywhere:
Under bushes, in the air, playing games
Just like you play,
Singing through their busy day.
So listen, touch and look around,
In the air and on the ground.
And if you watch all nature's things,
You might just see a fairy's wing."

~Author unknown~

Monday, September 29, 2014

Food Post - Vegetarian - Red Curry Tofu with Coconut Chile Carrots and Bok Choy

Another blog, another delicious recipe found here at "eats well with others", hosted by Joanne.  I made this for the first time on August 29th, 2014.



Red Curry Tofu with Coconut Chile Carrots and Bok Choy.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Serving size is a 1/4 of the recipe


For the carrots:

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon coconut milk
1-1/2 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths
1/2 red onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 Jalapeno, seeded and minced


For the tofu:

1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons Thai Red Curry Paste
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon Canola oil
12 ounces super firm sprouted tofu, cut into 1-inch slices
1 head of bok choy, coarsely chopped 
(I also had some snow peas left over from another dish, which I sliced and added to the mix)

You will need enough rice depending on how many people you are making this for, white or brown according to your preference, or even Quinoa was suggested.  (Because there is just the two of us I put 2 cups of water in a small saucepan, waited for it to boil and poured in 1 cup of uncooked white rice.  Lower the heat and cook the rice according to directions on your packet, which always seems to work out at about 20-25 minutes for me.  I have a rice steamer somewhere but I don't use it much any more, just my small saucepan.)


Heat oven to 450 degrees F.


For the carrots: in a large bowl combine the oil, sugar, lime juice, soy sauce and coconut milk.  Toss together with the carrots, onion and chile.  Season to taste with salt (I often leave this last step out but I keep hearing this brings out the flavors of the vegetables more.  Depends on you and whether you are trying to cut your sodium intake down).

Pour into a large baking pan and roast for 45 minutes, or until carrots are tender, stirring every 15 minutes.


While they are roasting prepare the tofu.  In a small bowl whisk together the sugar, soy sauce, red curry paste and minced ginger. Set aside.


In a large wok heat the oil over medium heat, and add the tofu slices. 


Saute until lightly browned on each side, about 5 minutes per side.  Add in the bok choy, along with the left over snow peas if using them, and saute until bok choy is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.  


Stir in the sauce and coat all the vegetables thoroughly.  Cook for a few more minutes.


Serve the tofu and carrots atop a bed of your choice of white or brown, rice, or Quinoa.


What did we think of this recipe?  Nothing ever gets put on here unless we enjoy it thoroughly and this is now one of our favorite dishes.

I am trying to put more vegetarian meals into our weekly menu and I'm happy that Gregg has started to enjoy tofu.  It might seem very bland to some but it is one of those foods that takes on the flavors of the sauces and other ingredients you are cooking with, and can become a delicious part of the meal.

Years ago when we lived in California I had a wok.  I don't know what happened to it as it disappeared long ago, probably in one of our many moves.  One day I may buy another but in the meantime I took out the largest frying pan I had in my cupboard. 

I probably should have cooked the tofu in batches because I know all about over-crowding your food while cooking.  However, I can occasionally get impatient and when the center pieces of the tofu browned nicely, I moved them to the side and brought in the others that I had placed around the edge.

I am a big fan of roasting vegetables and that sauce gave it a delicious flavor.  The veggies caramelized beautifully.  

Also I used a roasting pan lined with aluminum foil to make clean up easier.  You may have to oil it a little by using two to three teaspoons of olive oil or cooking spray.  I have one of those little spritzers that are specially used for olive oil and that way you add just enough.  Mostly, however, I love my non-stick aluminum foil because you don't need to add any oils.

And yes, I am probably preaching to the choir and don't want to insult all the good cooks out there, but just in case any newbies to the kitchen want to make this recipe, any recipe, my biggest piece of advice is to get everything measured out before you start.  It makes things go more smoothly and you don't feel like you are dashing all over the kitchen and getting yourself in a tizzy trying to get things done.  I say this from experience from when I first started getting into the kitchen.  Cooking for me is for the fun, not for the stress.

This meal was a big hit and we had leftovers for another meal. Gregg insisted on being the chef for the next one and he made a great stir-fry.  We had a bag of shredded coleslaw mix which he steamed until just wilted in the frying pan, added our left-over meal along with a few beansprouts and fresh basil leaves.  He turned out another delicious meal.   

Thanks for this great recipe Joanne, and please visit her blog - link here - as she has a lot of other very tasty recipes for you to browse through.  

Added note:  Linda Kay at Senior Moments asked if chicken could be used for this recipe.  I would say yes and will try this next time.  I'm thinking even shrimp or scallops would make a nice change also but then you'd have to take the word 'vegetarian' off the title. Thanks for the question Linda Kay.

Sallie from A Full Time Life mentioned she had used Veggie Crumbles in another recipe I had posted, which is another good idea I will try for this one.   Thanks Sallie and I am so happy you enjoyed that other one I had posted.

Also, William at Ottawa Daily Photo wondered if it was too spicy and I thought I should add that it wasn't really.  I can't eat anything that makes my mouth feel on fire, and this was more flavorful than 'hot'.  It did have a little heat but honestly, if I can eat it.  If in doubt don't forget to take the seeds out of the jalapeno.  I took them out before I chopped it up.  The 2 tablespoons of Thai Chili Paste was okay with me too.  Then again if you like things hot add more and leave the seeds in.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

i HART MACRO


I shared this caterpillar once before.  He will turn into a Zebra Swallowtail butterfly, and you can see what he will look like at this website




I am linking up with Laura's i Heart Macro here.  
Shine the Divine

Thank you for hosting this great meme Laura.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

TODAY'S FLOWERS # 316



When I visited my old home in Devon, we wanted to visit the church in my village where Gregg and I were married and our son was Christened a few years later.  These are photos I took nearby.



~~~~~~~




You can find beautiful flowers from around the world if you click here.

TF teamPupo - Sandy Carlson - Denise

If anyone would like to be a guest and share photos on our home page, details can be found at the top of Today's Flowers web site, which you will find here.

Friday, September 26, 2014

CAMERA CRITTERS, SATURDAY'S CRITTERS, NATURE NOTES, WILD BIRD WEDNESDAY AND BIRD D'POT

I am joining several memes today, and will be linking up with them as they become available.


I am sharing photos of the pair of Red-breasted Geese we saw when visiting London in June.  We were walking through St. James Park.  I looked at their legs and noticed that they were banded.


Red-breasted Geese - Brant ruficollis - are endangered and breed on the tundras of arctic Europe.


I read the following: "They often choose sites close to the nests of birds of prey such as peregrine falcons and snowy owls.  While this might seem a dangerous thing to do, in fact it seems to provide protection from other predators such as arctic foxes."


Also, "In the winter, the birds move south.  Up to 70% of the world's red-breasted geese winter around lakes in north-east Bulgaria, where flocks hundreds of thousands strong to graze....."


"They have moved their feeding grounds here from the former Soviet Union, where changes to agricultural practices, especially the conversion of wheat fields to cotton plantations, spelled disaster.  But new threats face them in their new home....."   

You can read more at this website where I found the above information.

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I am joining Misty's Camera Critters, Eileen's Saturday's Critters
Michelle's Nature Notes, Anni's  Bird D'Pot and Stewart's Wild Bird Wednesdaywith thanks to each for hosting these very enjoyable memes.  Their logos can be found on my side bar.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

GOOD FENCES AND SKYWATCH FRIDAY

I took these photos as we were driving home one evening a couple of nights ago.  The sun was getting low in the sky and I quickly took several photos with my cell phone from the passenger side.   I couldn't decide which to share and included them all.





























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I am once again linking with Good Fences and SkyWatch Friday. 

Thank you Theresa at The Run*A*Round Ranch Report for hosting Good Fences. You can find other participants here

 My thanks also to YogiSandy and Sylvia  for being our hosts at SkyWatch.  You can find other participants here.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Random Photo


I have just found this photo.  It was one my son took while we were in Paris near the Louvre.  I have never seen police officers on roller-blades before.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Food Post - Strawberry Hand Pies


I had strawberries that I needed to use but wanted a change from a smoothie.  After looking on line through some food blogs, I came across Strawberry Hand Pies to make and test-taste for when company comes over, with the possibility of making them ahead and freezing.  

These days I find myself looking to the freezer more and more, to make things less of a fuss when preparing meals.  Sometimes you enjoy being in the kitchen, other times you want to take things easier, especially if time is short or if you are having company and you would like to spend more time with them.  

You can find the original recipe here.  I am always thankful to the many food blogs I come across and I would like to thank Michelle who created the blog A Latte Food, for sharing this delicious recipe.

Michelle is right, it is the perfect summer dessert.



Strawberry Hand Pies - makes 12 hand pies

Ingredients:

For the dough, one 9 inch pie crust:

1/2 cup butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup flour

For the filling:

1 cup chopped strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Zest of half a lemon
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
1 beaten egg (for egg-wash)
Extra sugar for sprinkling

Choice of toppings:

Whipping cream
Ice-Cream
Powdered sugar

Instructions:

With a mixer cream butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy.

Add in flour and mix just until dough comes together.  Place the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 30 to 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place parchment paper on a pan and set aside.

On a floured or powdered sugar surface, knead the dough a couple of times until it is a nice round ball.  Then roll the dough into a circle with a rolling pin, about a 1/4 inch thick.

Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut out as many dough rounds as possible (about 5 to 6).  Place the dough rounds on sheet pan.

Form the dough back into a ball and roll out again.

Cut out 5 to 6 more rounds.  The recipe should yield 12 dough rounds, so keep repeating this step until you have 12 rounds (because of the cream cheese in the dough it will not get tough or overworked like traditional pie dough).

In a small bowl gently combine chopped strawberries, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and cornstarch.

Fill each pie round with 1 to 2 tablespoons of filling.

Take one side of the dough and pull it over the filling.  

Use a fork to crimp the edges together and poke an air hole at the top of the pie.  Do this for all of the pies.

Brush each pie with egg wash.  Sprinkle with white sugar.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the pies are golden brown.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar, top with ice cream or whipped cream and enjoy!



What did we think of this recipe?  Well, it was another one that we enjoyed very much.  
  
As always when I make something for the first time I find myself changing a few things out of necessity.  

For instance, I changed the lemon to lime zest.  I had no lemons and wanted to use the limes I had left over.  

When mixing up the strawberry filling, I thought I had cornstarch tucked in the back of the pantry but couldn't find it, so I used 2 tablespoons of flour instead.

I didn't have a form but used a fork to press the edges together.

What I like about this hand pie, apart from the fact that it was delicious, is that it is great for portion control.  A lovely dessert without feeling that you went overboard.  

I put together a simple main meal, sliced roast chicken with steamed broccoli, and this Strawberry Hand Pie made for a lovely ending to the meal.

Friday, September 19, 2014

TODAY'S FLOWERS #315













You can find beautiful flowers from around the world if you click here.

TF teamPupo - Sandy Carlson - Denise

If anyone would like to be a guest and share photos on our home page, details can be found at the top of Today's Flowers web site, which you will find here.

~~~~~~


I am also linking up with Laura's I Heart Macro here

Shine the Divine

Thank you for hosting this great meme Laura.



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

GOOD FENCES, SKYWATCH FRIDAY, CAMERA CRITTERS AND SATURDAY'S CRITTERS

I am linking to four memes this week.  You can click on their links to see more participants below this post


I spotted this barn the other day.  We have had some beautiful skies lately.  I thought of SkyWatch Friday.  Then I focused on the fences and Good Fences came to mind.  When I zoomed in on the barn I saw the horses, and of course I thought of Camera Critters and Saturday's Critters.  

















We came across another beautiful horse a little later on.



My thanks to all the hosts of these fun memes.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Meadowlark Gardens - found in the fairy garden



"How dreary the world would be
If there were no fairies."

~Author unknown~

Monday, September 15, 2014

Food Post - Pork over Rice with a Pasta Salad


Menu:

Slow-cooker Kalua Pork
White Rice
Summer Garden Pasta Salad
and for dessert, Gregg's all time favorite
Tapioca Pudding


I found this menu (except for the tapioca pudding where the directions are on the back of the box) at The Magical Slow Cooker which you can find here.  Sarah is its host and she has some delicious recipes on her blog so I will be going back a lot.  

Gregg was making a solo trip to spend a few days with his Dad, and before he left I wanted to make him an extra special meal which included three of his favorite foods, pork, pasta and tapioca pudding.  


Slow Cooker Kalua Pig 

To find the actual page for this recipe you can click on this link.

3 lbs. pork butt roast
1/4 teaspoon ground pink Himalayan sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup water
2 teaspoons liquid Hickory Smoke

Sprinkle the roast with the salt and pepper.  In a large skillet set to medium-high heat, heat up the oil and sear the roast on all sides.  Add to a 6-quart or larger slow cooker.

Add the water and the liquid hickory smoke.

Cover and cook on LOW for 12 hours, without opening the lid during the cooking time.

Drain the juices from the slow cooker, reserving some if you want to serve the roast with them.

Shred the pork in the slow cooker with two forms, discarding fat.

Serve with rice and pasta salad.  Sarah also suggests using Sriracha hot sauce over the top.  



Summer Garden Pasta Salad - serves 6

You can find that actual recipe here at That's My Home where Sarah guest posted. 

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time:  

1-1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped dill weed
1 cup diced celery
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cup sliced snow peas
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 (15-oz.) can whole kernel corn
1 pound box bow tie pasta, cooked according to package directions

In a small bowl whisk the mayonnaise, buttermilk, lemon jucie and dill weed until smooth.  Set aside.  

Drain and rinse the cooked pasta in cold water, and drain again.

Add the pasta to a large bowl.

Add the chopped vegetables to the pasta bowl and pour over the dressing.

Stir until the dressing thoroughly coats the vegetables and pasta and serve.



What did we think of this menu?

Everything complimented each other beautifully and it all tasted great.  

I didn't add a roll as suggested in the original recipe, for no particular reason other than I didn't have any and didn't want to make a special trip up to the store.  We didn't miss it.  The other dishes were that good.

In the pasta salad I couldn't find any fresh dill at the supermarket so used 1 teaspoon of the dried.  

Now, pink Himalayan sea salt.  I have never used this before and I decided to buy it for the recipe.  It is supposed to have quite a lot of health benefits.  I'm into that lately and am curious.  I found mine at Wegmans.  It has its own grinder.

We'd better like it as it doesn't come in small and I figured we'll be using it in our food until the year 2044.  Gregg isn't a big fan as he put it on the back of his hand and test tasted.  By his wrinkled nose I determined that he likes his Kosher salt more. Okay, maybe 2064.  

Not to be deterred I had already read up on its benefits and there are many  Apparently you can also throw it in your bath water for a 'detoxing Himalayan salt bath'. It stimulates circulation and soothes sore muscles, and is healing and therapeutic for mind and body. It will be a cold bath because I am going to be grinding that shaker until the cows come home.  I can't get the top off without the aid of a hammer. Okay, maybe it will be gone before 2054.  I know I am going to live that long now that I am using it, and just in case you're wondering, I am saying this tongue in cheek.  

I am determined to investigate further and see what others have to say.  "You're a nincompoop, you just bought it because it's a pretty pink and it has it's own grinder!"  This conversation I had with myself I denied vehemently.


I made the pork dish the day before the main meal and we test tasted by putting a small amount on a roll for supper.  That's why the last of the rolls disappeared.  Very yummy!

Gregg and I made the pasta together.  He did all the chopping up.  It was a fun time in the kitchen.  Gregg is becoming quite a chef since he retired.  It is another hobby we enjoy doing together.  

There were leftovers for the next day also.

Gregg has been dropping hints for tapioca pudding for the last week, so we splurged and I added it to the menu.  He describes his liking for tapioca, "like a horse with oats".  It has always been his favorite since his mother used to make it for him, and now me all throughout our marriage.  Not something I do all the time, otherwise it wouldn't be so special, but when its put on the table, Gregg gets the same smile on his face that I do when he walks in with a cup of coffee from my favorite coffee shop......apparently.