Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Groaning,But Not Moaning, Table

Thanksgiving is going to be different this year.  Not because I'm vegan (I was last year too) but because this year our table will be set for 4.  Just 4.  But I am very thankful for the people who will be at that table, and for the ones who aren't, too.
Patti and Isaac are coming home for Christmas, so they are staying in Tampa for Thanksgiving.  Both working that day.  That's life in the health field! People need nurses and physical therapists on Thanksgiving too.

Steven and Audra will be in Maryland, finding a new place to call 'Home'.
But I'll have these two with me, and I'm very thankful for that - Rick and my Mom
Anyway, on to the eats!  Keep in mind that:
A) I cook the same for 40 as I do for 4
B) I love leftovers
C) See above

So here's the Menu for T-Day
Please note - EVERYTHING is vegan unless starred (**)

Tostitos chips with salsa (Newman's Own Medium, and Pineapple)

Homemade bread and butter pickles (thanks Mary M!)
Black olives
Green olives

BLT salad - iceburg lettuce, tomatoes, baco's (yes, baco's are vegan.  Crazy right?), homemade ranch type dressing
Wilted spinach salad - with poms, craisins, pecan pie walnuts (Emerald brand) and honey crisp apples chunks dressed in lemon juice, EVOO, and honey
Green beans
Green bean casserole (made with homemade cream of mushroom soup)
Homemade applesauce (my Mom makes this, it's the BEST)
Cranberries, whole and jelly
Brussels sprouts roasted with maple syrup
Sweet potato casserole
Mashed Potatoes
Stuffing with Faux Sausage, celery, and sage
Gravy **
Turkey that my Mother was given as a gift (Obviously**)
Field roast sausage (for me, with peppers and onions, mmm)
Pumpkin pie (Mom is making this)
Pumpkin chiffon

The table may groan, but I promise not to moan about the people who won't be with me this year.  But that doesn't mean I won't miss them.  Love you guys!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Someone Gets a Facelift

After living with it for Ten.Long.Years., the kitchen is finally getting a facelift!  We have already upgraded the furnace (twice!), the hot water tank (also twice!) the electrical,  the plumbing and the roof, so it was time.  Our kitchen is kind of quirky, and the cabinets were all made to order, 70 years ago!  Previously, the kitchen was a bedroom for the two times ago owners, who had 13 children that took up the whole upstairs and then some I imagine.  But when the Dr and his family moved in back in the 40's, he turned the then-kitchen (now our back room) into his treatment room, waiting room, and office and turned the downstairs bedroom into the kitchen.  I think his wife did some updating in the 70's when the Dr passed away but it was pretty much 1940's original when we moved in, in 2001.
Here are some befores
Although the  kitchen isn't a bad size really, most of the wall space is taken up by the FOUR doors - one into the backroom, one into the dining room, one to the downstairs half bath, and one outside entrance.  That doesn't leave much room!  Because of the strange measurements (my lower cabinets are only 20' deep!) we can't replace the cabinets but they are pretty sturdy and just need repainting so that's fine.  But we upgraded the countertop, sink, faucet, backsplash, paint, and stove, so it feels totally new to me!
Here are some 'durings'

Yes, that's the outside wall of our house!  (Our house is brick)  That kind of explains why the kitchen and especially the insides of the cabinets were so cold!  NO insulation!  And yes, the previous backsplash was subway tiles, but not in a good way.  They were sort of part of the cement backer board?  Anyway, it was all one piece and couldn't be saved even if I wanted too (I didn't).


I love it all!  The new double oven (Whirlpool Gold Series) is so much better than our old pos Kenmore.  It was a lemon that went bad a month after the warranty expired, and I should have kicked it to the curb long ago. We got the new one at Logel Appliance in Strykersville, and if you are local, you need to go there for all your appliances!  They have buildings full of gorgeous scratch and dents that you can hardly tell are damaged.  Ours wasn't (it was a factory closeout) and they have brand new appliances too.  I was eying up a really nice stainless steel, gas double oven range but nothing else is stainless in the kitchen (and we didn't want to upgrade anything else at this time) and we would have had to run a gas line to the kitchen.  But I'm extremely happy with the one we got.  I also really love the sink (it's extra deep) and the pull out faucet and soap dispenser. The hanging plates art I first saw on Oh She Glows and I loved it and got it at Bed, Bath and Beyond.  Here's the close up of the tile
It's hard to tell, but the colors are ice blue (almost Tiffany), chocolate brown, and cream.  Yum!

I'll be back with photos of our back room makeover next!  Any renos in your future?

Monday, August 22, 2011

The End of an Amazing Life, and the Beginning of a New One Together

On August 5th, my Father passed away.  Although he hadn't been well for some time, it was still unexpected, and a shock.  
My parents on July 24th, their 63rd Anniversary.

We have all been lucky enough to have spent a lot of time with him, and we will treasure those memories.  We miss him so much.

Just a short two weeks later, on Saturday August 20th, we were fortunate to be able to celebrate a happy occasion - the wedding of son Steven and new daughter in law, Audra!

The ceremony took place on Assateague Island National Seashore, and was absolutely beautiful.  Best wishes to the Bride and Groom for years of happiness!

So as you can see, August has been a month of sadness, and joy.  I will be back to regular blogging soon.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

This Makes Me Hap-pea!

I've been reading Sarah's blog since the beginning, back when she was lovin' her tummy.  If you're a long time reader too, you'll know what I mean!  Anyway, she is super funny, has the cutest girls ever and I love her so much even if I've never met her (stalker much?) and even though she hates cats (gasp!).
I'm especially happy because she's written her first cookbook (which will cut down a little on the crazy recipe printing I do from her blog) and I just got my copy.  Yay!  I plan to read it cover to cover, then choose my first recipe to try.  I can't wait!
I've been telling you and telling you to read her blog, now go do it!  You can thank me later!

Coming soon - win your own copy of this cookbook!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Great Fundraising Act!

The Great Fundraising Act!

Susan, of The Great Balancing Act, recently received the shocking diagnosis of cancer.  She's only 25!  She has lymphoma, and here is the post where she first talks about it http://thegreatbalancingact.com/2011/06/22/a-long-hard-road/

Janetha, from Meals and Miles, has organized an AMAZING online auction, set for tomorrow.  So many great things to bid on (I've got my eye on a few!) and for such a great cause.  
Here's all the deets!  Please do what you can, for an amazing young woman

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mac and Cheeze and Lunch with Shrimps

Yesterday I had a craving for that age old comfort food, macaroni and cheese.  Not that I needed comforting and not that I really have 'cravings,' I just wanted it.  I haven't made it in a while and I don't know why.  The sauce is super easy and is ready before the macaroni is done and rates an 8 on the Lazy Scale (with 10 being "Someone else makes it")
Imagine Ted Williams saying "mmm it's the cheeziest" and no he doesn't mean me
Those are panko crumbs on the top with a little bit of paprika.

Today I had lunch with some awesome people.  And no, they aren't shrimps, they are normal height!
Here is my BFF since we were 13.  Her name is Mary the same as mine which is what happens when you go to Catholic School.  Everyone is named Mary or some form of it.  I'm unique just like everyone else!
That's us on my 50th birthday, and I am saying "50 is O.K.!"
This is her niece and mine because I like to pretend I am part of her family.
Casey and her hubby
Are they so cute or what?? :D
And here is her hubby with their  adorable X a million babies
And here is her other niece Amber who was lucky enough to be born on my birthday!  Yay February 16th!   
I hate to overuse the words adorable and cute but they just are!

Anyway, us girls went to lunch today.  Baby Sophia slept through it all and Desiree had fun eating lemon wedges.  Steven did the same thing at that age - doesn't just the thought of it make you pucker up??  Anyway, instead of ordering my usual go-to restaurant meal (english muffin with  peanut butter, homefries, and fruit) I order shrimp and french fries.  Sometimes I just get rebellious and order shrimp.  Now,  a TRUE vegan would never do this, and I am expecting to lose my v-card (heheh), but here is my reasoning:
1.  I feel NO affection towards shrimp (shrimps?) I have never had pet shrimp unless you count sea monkeys
2. I don't feel like shrimp have moms and dads who love them
3. I'm not even sure if they qualify as 'being alive'.  Plus, they are ugly.  On the other hand, so are crabs and lobsters but I DON'T eat them.  Strange reasoning.  I have also eaten clams once in  the last year so maybe they fall under the same rules as shrimp?
Anyway, lunch was fun and I can't wait to do it again!
Accidentally Vegan

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to go with my Mother to Salvatore's Grand Hotel for a luncheon.  It was given as a Thank You lunch by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, to donors.  They had a table of literature, and we saw a nice presentation during lunch.  They really do amazing work.  In case you don't know the story,  the Hospital was started by the actor, Danny Thomas.  It' a wonderful story and you can read it here
First they brought the salads and they were crazy good.  Very fancy.  I ate most of it, except for the bleu cheese crumbles on top.  Next they started bringing out the main entree.  Uh Oh.  Chicken!  I simply asked the server quietly if there was a vegetarian option and there was!  He brought out the most delicious pasta, all different shapes, tossed with an evoo and white wine sauce, with roasted artichokes, asparagus and tomatoes.  Everyone at the table was eying it!  Back off lady Mother!  When people at the table asked why I don't eat meat, I simply told them what I usually say, that I don't think animals should have to suffer so that I can eat. Keep in mind that I was the youngest at the table by at least 30 years, yet they were all sincerely interested.  I told them I also try to eat organic when I can, and the sweet little lady next to me  (she was 90!) said it was the preservatives that got her that far! LOL!   At this point I realized that I could have taken photos of the meal and no one would have minded.  Too late.
Here is the dining room, from the lobby
The lobby bar
Looking from the restaurant towards the lobby and hotel
The Maserati GranCabrio Sport parked out front (the owner's?)
Anyway, it was a great day, and a great cause.  
Sunset last night from my Mother's.  I think the rain is finally gone for good!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Buckwheat Bake Heard Round the World

I have seen these in the blog-o-sphere for a while now and finally had a chance to make one.  The original recipe came from here The Edible Prospective.  Ashley has some great recipes and lives in one of my favorite places, Fort Collins (remember our trip to FoCo, Patti? It was so much fun!)  But for some reason I wasn't really moved to make this until another of my favorite bloggers did,  Kath Eats.  Kath adapted it just a bit, and then I adapted it even more.  I don't have any buckwheat (Ashley uses buckwheat to be gluten free which is not an issue for me) so I used half whole wheat pastry flour and half organic whole wheat flour.  I also used a flax egg and almond milk instead of regular dairy.  I also added in a handful of vegan dark chocolate chips because really, why not?  And look!
I 'frosted' it with a little Monkey Maple peanut butter and shredded coconut but you could use whatever.   When I finally was motivated to make this, it was about 7:30 pm.  This literally takes about 5 minutes from  start to finish, thanks to microwave directions.  Super easy.  So I guess I made it as a dessert instead of as a breakfast item.  Warning - it was really too 'heavy' to eat at night.  But, the good news is that I wasn't hungry till 2:00 the next afternoon.  Whoa! Since this makes 2, I warmed up the spare and had that for a late lunch.  Whoops.  Bad idea as I wasn't able to eat dinner til maybe 8?  For most people, this staying power would be amazing but I have a pantry full of good things to eat and no appetite for them! But I really loved this Bake, it was super delicious and very adaptable and will be perfect on days I have to help with tree work, as it kept me extremely full but didn't weigh me down or sit in my stomach.  Definitely a recipe to stay in the rotation!  Try it today.
A shout out to my wonderful friends Jeff and Mary, who are celebrating 26 years!  Happy Anniversary!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

New Post Coming Soon!

 For the hundreds of people who have been asking me about my next post (Okay, maybe it was just one person but Thanks :D ) I am working on it now.
In the meantime, take a look at the fantastic (vegan) meal I had at Mythos, at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Eating My Words

Because I don't really have any photos, this post will be pretty wordy.  We have gone out to dinner a few times in the last week or two so I'll tell about that, plus  trips to Wegmans and BJ's Wholesale.  
Last Thursday we went to The Hillside Inn, a beautiful old mansion in Wyoming.  We eat there on occasion and always have a good time.  It's vegetarian friendly and they use local, fresh ingredients.  Anyway, this night I ordered the chicken linguine special, hold the chicken. I had seen others eating it and it looked good.  Linguine with veggies and a white wine sauce.  When it arrived it was in a small bowl, not like what I had seen others eating.  It was good but really more like an appetizer portion.  Fail.  I finished that off and still hungry, ordered a side of sweet potato fries.  I've had these before too, as a side with a sandwich and they were plentiful.  This time, there was maybe 6 or 7 on the plate?  Fail #2.  So I was pretty shocked when we got the bill and my 'entree' was $19.99.  WTH.   Maybe I could justify that price with the larger portion, with the chicken and maybe a salad with it? But for the size I got?  No way.  And the small side of fries?  $3!  Sigh.  I really should have said something but we were with some other people and although  both items were disappointingly small, they WERE good.  And I have had other meals there that were great so I just went home and had some pita chips and hummus and was finally full.  Did I mention I was still hungry when I left the restaurant??  And have I mentioned that, because I don't eat meat or dairy, I can eat a LOT?  Anyway, if you are ever in the area, you should definitely check it out.  It's historic and also haunted!
The other night we were down in Chaffee, where I romantically bought my husband a new chain saw for Valentine's Day.   And then he romantically bought me dinner, at The Hearth.  It was our first time there in like a decade, and it was wonderful.  He got the beef on weck.  I wanted to steal the roll it came on, it was heavily encrusted with seeds and salt. Mmm.  I ordered the Pasta Primavera, described on the menu as such... 

"Fresh Garden Vegetables are sauteed and tossed in our own special garlic and oil sauce and served over imported fettuccini"

It came with a  nice side salad.  The pasta dish was huge!  No kidding!  I ate maybe a quarter of it, and brought the rest home where it became lunch and then later, dinner!  I love leftovers!  Anyway, the best part was that it's only $10.99, which is crazy because That I would have gladly paid $19.99 for.  The Hearth also has a great bar area with a fireplace that is pretty popular with snowmobilers, and they also have entertainment.  We'll be back!  It's right down the street from Earl's Diner, which has been featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, and yet strangely enough does not have its own website. If you Lougle Google it lots of results come up for it though.  We ate there once last summer and it was good, but I have to say that the table "legs" - cowboy jeans and boots - freak me out enough that I'm not in a rush to go back.   Add it to your list, though.  It's worth seeing!

We've been out to Wegmans a few times too.  I love to shop there!  We like to eat at their Market Cafe.  John likes the wings, fingers, and pizza, and I like the Hot Bar.  They always have a few vegan choices.  Yay Wegmans! On times that they don't,  or it's not something I want, I grab a frozen Amy's or something else and heat in up in their microwave.  They have a whole section of vegan/vegetarian/organic/healthy stuff.  I wish we had one closer.

We've also been to BJ's Wholesale club, where I stock up on V8, almond milk, and Hummus.  
And Stacy's pita chips!  Love this flavor!

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Tribute To My Brother Dan On His Birthday

Dan and I, circa 1963

Today is my brother Dan's birthday.  He would have been 52. And next week is my birthday. This year, just as it has in other years, it has brought up so many thoughts and emotions for me. Thoughts and emotions that most of the time, I suppress. If I feel them bubbling up, I try and push them back down. After 21 years, they are still too painful to think about.

In January 1990, just two weeks after Christmas, my brother died. My only brother, my only sibling. Leaving me, at 28, an only child. When he died, he took with him all our childhood memories. Who else remembers things the way a s
ibling can? I have no one else to say "Hey remember when'" to. No one else that recalls our childhood. And now, no one else to help me care for our elderly parents. No one to share  the responsibility with.  And God knows, I was never the responsible one.
Dan was in the Navy, and had been stationed in Bahrain, a place that few had heard of at that time.  This was before the Gulf War, and he had been there for some time. Being a Navy incident, we never got many details, and being family isn't enough reason for the military to tell us everything they know. We have had to accept that. All we know is that it started with a phone call, telling us he was dead.  He had been home that year for the Holidays, someth
ing that was very rare, as anyone in the military knows. It was one of the best Christmases we have ever had.
New Year's Eve was awesome too.

Before he was sent to the Middle East, he was stationed in Pensacola Florida. He was a Search And Rescue Instructor, and received many awards for Air Sea Rescues.

Pensacola was where he bought his home, and we loved to go visit him there. He loved it too! My children were very young when he was killed - Steven was only 6 months, Rick was 2 and Patti was 6. So Patti is the one who remembers him best. Dan was really close with her, always taking her for rides in his convertible, buying her HUGE stuffed animals, and he always told her that when he retired, he was going to open a restaurant and call it Hamburger Patti's. Dan never had children of his own, and loved mine, spoiling them and treating them as though they were his own. When my son John Michael died, Dan was right there for me, my big brother who could fix everything except the unbelievable agony and pain of losing a child.

So many memories of Dan are tied up in things in my life, which makes it even more difficult to think about him. Our birthdays were 2 years and one week apart (the 9th and the 16th) and we always celebrated them on the Sunday in between. So even my birthday has a cloud of sadness, celebrating one birthday instead of two.  And this year, as I turn 50, I know he would have teased me unmercifully.  But he would have also gotten me an awesome gift and told me he loved me, despite the Over The Hill jokes I know I would have born the brunt of.

Anyone who has lost a sibling can  understand my pain,  pain I feel both now, and in the future. Because the pain comes and goes, unexpectedly, brought on by a memory, or seeing something, or even a scent.  But all we can do, is the best we can, and go on with our lives without those we love.

I miss my Brother. Love y
ou Dan!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Hav-o Avo-Cado

Don't tell Cali (or they might sic their practically-legal, knife carrying birds on me),  but I've never purchased an avocado before!    I  have no clue what to do with it but it looks pretty, if green's your thang.  There's so many awesome recipes out there that I just can't decide.  
I do know what I'm going to do with this
I'm going to make candied lemon.  The recipe came from here.  Wish me luck.
I also know what I'm going to do with this
Correction - (and a confession) I was going to make that scrumptious looking pie on the front.  But then I read the label and it said "or enjoy right from the package".  And when I opened it, it looked so pudding-like that I just couldn't resist.  OMG.  Do yourself a favor and go out right now and buy this..Just don't bother go to my store.  They won't have any because I claimed it all. And I finally found something that my chicken wing loving husband actually liked!  It's a miracle!
I wanted it for breakfast but I resisted (but just til second breakfast!)
This was first breakfast
Yes orange juice with a side of orange.  And a banana.  For those of you keeping count, that's 3 of the daily 'strive for 5', just at breakfast.  I used to think that having 5 fruits or veggies a day was unattainable, hahahaha.  Quick, how many have you had today?  If you're average, the answer is 1 or 2.  No, french fries don't count.  The pickle and lettuce on your fast food burger don't count.   I'll look the other way if you include the olive in your martini.
My pretty Nemacolin Resorts mug
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is an amazing resort in Pennsylvania that Patti and I went to after we toured Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob.  We had stopped at this little diner for lunch - The Lakeview Diner (where the lake is really a pond and diner is a ummm generous description).  But the owner was great and he told us we needed to go see this resort and we did.  You should definitely go there (but you could should probably skip the diner)
Lunch was soup and a grilled cheese.  Did you catch that last part?  GRILLED CHEESE.
The bread looks kinda pale because I was too excited to wait!  It was so good!  I know you don't believe me but it was like really good, sharp cheddar.
This is the a-mazo- cheese
I've had this in my sights for weeks but was a little afraid to pull the trigger, due to the $4.99 price tag.  Now?  I would gladly pay twice that.  It's that good.  Guilt free cheesey goodness?  Sign me up.
I had cupcakes too!  Specifically, Oatmeal Cookie Cupcakes.
Hidden Mickey anyone?  The recipe is from http://peasandthankyou.com/2011/02/04/cupcake-right-now/  I added chocolate chips to some of them.  Next time maybe I'll try raisins.  Anyway, click that link and read Sarah's blog.  I keep telling you that!  Do it!  She frosted hers but mine disappeared too fast.
Okay, sorry to post and run but I'm 2 seasons into Thirtysomething.  Last time I watched this I was twentysomething.  Now I'm fortysomething and still love it.  Do you remember that series?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

TGIF, and I Celebrate My Polish Heritage

That's right - Thank God It's February!  I try not to complain (too much) about January but I really hate it. BTW, it took me forever when I was little to add that "R" into FebRuary, both in print and speech.  I still don't say it! And this Febuary is extra special because I turn 50!  I am both amazed and astonished by this.  How did that happen?  Anyway, moving on. I don't really remember breakfast but I'm sure it's not something that was staring at me.
Lunch however, LUNCH I remember!  I had some tofu leftover from the mac and cheeze the other day so I marinated it, then fried it in a skillet with a little Earth Balance til it got nice and crispy.  The marinade I use is the best!  I have had this recipe forever and I actually got it from a ham slice package which makes me feel a little sad now.  
3T maple syrup
1T soy sauce
2T bourbon or whiskey or whatever you have hidden in your nightstand - just not the nyquil
1/2 t minced garlic
1 t fancy mustard with seeds.  Or just plain.  I'm okay with just plain
Shake it up in a little jar and use often!

I drizzled a little extra on it.  I also had some black olives (and strongly resisted the urge to put them on my fingers and run around the house chanting NA NA NA NA)
Some trees
And some yummy smashed potatoes, with  carmelized onions and garlic.  Beyond good!  I just sub out the milk and butter for almond milk and Earth Balance. 
Don't you wish the screen was scratch and sniff?
Look again
Hey get off the table!
In full disclosure I don't eat at this table.  It's in our back room, mud room, family room, the first room you walk into in our house.  So don't be hating on a cat getting her vitamin D!  There was actual sunshine in that spot.  Just be glad it wasn't THIS on the table
Wait she looks small there
Yes that's 18lbs of kitty love.  Tubby Princess is really my Mother's cat but she stays with us in the winter while my parents hide out in Florida.  Cowards!
Dinner is where my Polish roots come into play.  For those of you who are wondering how Griffin + Becker = Cunninghamski, I am adopted.  Plus, I just found out that Father Baker and I have the same birthdate!  See how holy I am?
This is another recipe from One Sweet Vegan.  Just search for Kraut Burgers in her recipes.  I made it pretty much exactly like she did only I couldn't use cabbage from my WINTER GARDEN. Truthfully I don't have a summer garden either but some day I might!  So stop throwing that in my face okay?  They were as good as I hoped, and I'm so glad I have some leftover.  She uses brown gravy over hers but I just dipped mine in some pub mustard. 
Take a look
 With my leftover trees and smashed potatoes from lunch.  The kraut burgers look better on Emily's blog but they were seriously good.  They reminded me of ruebens!
Bottom view (again, hoping that phrase doesn't lead pervs to my blog)
 Middle view.  That looks like hamburger but it's just crumbles. 
Mustard!  I don't have a winter garden but I have mustard!
After dinner I decided to make baklava wontons.  But they somehow morphed into chocolate-peanut butter-walnut wontons. Over the top good!  At first I cut the wrapper into quarters, but that made them way to small
Then I experimented
Too much 'top'. I wanted them to look like crab rangoon.
Top cut off...
 Nope that's not right.
Folded like an envelope...
Still not right
Like a little bundle?  Close but not quite there yet...
 Perfect!  Cute right?
Look inside!
They took a little tweaking but so worth it. 
Tell me, do you really think I miss meat?  Nope

Today I'm making soup.  Comfort food in case we get hit by that storm.
Happy Febuary!