Sunday, February 26, 2012

Almond, Dried Cherry & Vanilla Granola

Confession that will not surprise anyone who knows me:  I talk to myself.  Frequently.  And now that I'm preggo, I like to think that my kid is sharing in on these conversations, but if that's true - the kid is going to think that Mom is a nutter.

Today I talked myself into making some homemade granola.  Nah - it wasn't too much of a mental battle.

Vanilla bean Greek yogurt with fresh raspberries and homemade granola. Makes me a happy camper.
This recipe comes from the wonderful Dragon who published this last winter.  My only modification on what could rightfully be called perfection is that instead of dried cherries, I use a dried berry medley from Trader Joe's.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The importance of being an ally

OK - this is a cooking blog, but when I did my redesign a year or so ago (good Lord, when did I redesign this??), I did reserve a label for anything that crept outside the cooking realm - like my love for Diana Gabaladon, Gordon Lightfoot, Here Come the Mummies, etc.  Anyway - that's the "Commentary" label.  So here!  Here's some commentary!

I read an article a little while back in Rolling Stone that talked about the a rash of teen suicides in Anoka-Hennepin school district.  The majority of the nine students who killed themselves were bullied for being gay or for the perception that they were gay.

I think I emailed some pretty strong and profane reactions to the article to my husband and then I emailed my dear friend Paul to see what I could do about this.  Basically, my email was that I feel like it is no longer enough to be an ally to the gay rights cause.  Should I volunteer for the local GLBT youth organization in Rochester?  I don't really have time, but I do not want to see this hatred in my community!  Especially since I'm spawning a member of said community in mah belly.  (Oh - sorry blog readers who aren't related to me or are not on Facebook ... Baby Mahannah is due in August.)

Here's part of Paul's reply:

"Honestly, I want to give you the same advice you gave me at one point (which I have replayed over and over and over when I get frustrated or down about being active in this issue) - you, as the person you are, and the position you are in, have incredible power to make a difference, and be an 'ambassador' (your word!) for change," Paul wrote. (FYI - I am rather impressed that I came up with the phrase "ambassador of change."  How ... wordy ... of me.)

A couple weeks later, he sent me this article from the Huffington Post, which talks about the importance and the charge that straight allies have in our support of the gay rights movement.

This was one of my favorite lines from this piece:  "As straight Americans we have two choices: we can choose to sit back and enjoy our rights as we have them, or we can realize that it is actually not freedom at all when our friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues do not share these basic rights."

I have no really eloquent way of closing this blog post.  Those who know me well, understand that this is an issue that has really shaped me over the past few years - it shapes the way that I treat my faith, it shapes my political activism, and it will shape the way that I raise my kid.  I am proud to be married to an ally and I'm blessed to have friends who share the same beliefs that I do.

However, all of these actions mean nothing if our country and our nation continue to deny the rights of all of its citizens.  But it's a cause that I will champion until this is just another page in history.  I hope that many of you will join me.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Day Roundup!

Confession:  The Husband and I already celebrated Valentine's Day.  We hate crowds and we love Indian food, so we decided to head to our favorite spot on Sunday and celebrate the holiday, curry-style.  For the big day, I'm either going to make his mama's BBQ Meatballs or spring for a heart-shaped pizza.

That's tomorrow.  I'm not known for planning ahead.

But since I will plan for the rest of you - here are some Valentine's Day ideas from the archives.  I've listed some entrees and dessert, because V-Day doesn't scream salad to me.

The Pioneer Woman's Fancy Macaroni - that's right, bacon on top.  Bacon = love.

Pastitsio - known as Greek lasagna.  Also known as love in a pan!
Stuffed Chicken Breasts - this was a ShelleyBakes original, thought up for a friend of mine who wanted to woo a woman.

This is Giada's Farmer's Pasta - yeah, somehow in my mind I equate pasta to romance.  All I know is that this dish is goood ...

Chocolate Cherry Cake - love doesn't need to be complicated.  This cake is not - it's a cake mix and cherry pie filling.  Absolute decadence with limited amount of steps.
Again - convenience ingredients can lead to decadence ... this chocolate peanut butter cookie pizza is brilliant.
This is a little bit more time consuming, but well worth the effort - Italian Cream Cake.

Confession:  Ina and Jeffrey Garten might be one of my favorite couples on television.  I sometimes tell Ryan that he's my Jeffrey and he just rolls his eyes at me. (True love, I say!)  This is Ina's recipe for Beatty's Chocolate Cake.  And yes, it tastes as good as it looks.
And for those of you who could care less about the holiday and think it's a sham that was thought up by the Hallmark company.  This recipe is for you:
I made these cookies for my co-workers in the estimating department last year.  They were charmed.  And touched.  And they loved it.  I don't know what that says about them.  Or me.
Whether you're snarky or sappy - I wish you a wonderful Valentine's Day.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Confections and crafts: Cherry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

It's good to have good friends - especially the kind of friends that you can be creative with and try new things that you would likely be too lazy to accomplish on your own time.

My dear friend Cathy came over this AM and we worked on a craft and I got fancy and served her some coffee cake.  It is one of those things that's ingrained in me from childhood reading books like "Little House on the Prairie" and "Anne of Green Gables."  When you have company over, you put your best foot forward and assure them through food and beverage that they are welcomed and loved.

This coffee cake comes from Taste of Home and has enough pain in the ass factor that it's the kind of cake you wouldn't make for yourself, but would save to impress someone.  Because it is tasty - but the bottom cake layer that you have to press into a pan?  Sticky and messy.  (Hint:  Get your hands damp first - it helps a little bit.)  And at 25 grams of fat per slice, it isn't something you'd should be clamoring for on a daily basis.  (Clamoring is one thing - indulging is the other ...)

As for the craft?  I've dabbled a little bit in Pinterest, but I'm still relying on other bloggers to tell me the groovy things that they are finding on other folks' boards. 

This craft came from Katy at Non-Consumer Advocate and takes Mason jars and re-purposes them into soap containers.  Confession:  I have more Mason jars than I know what to do with and have a special place in my heart for the vintage blue jars that we inherited when my husband's grandma moved out of her home. So it was nice to find an EASY craft that used up some of the materials I had on hand.  And luckily for me, Cathy came to the party with lids her husband Timm had already drilled for us.  So with a little bit of glue work, we made these:

Easy, lovely and re-used items that Cathy and I had laying around the house.

Needless to say, it was a wonderful Saturday morning.