Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Creamy Broccoli ???

I came across this recipe called Creamy Broccoli Soup in the February 2011 issue of Real Simple. And even though the idea of broccoli soup makes me make the eeewwww face, I thought it sounded healthy and it didn't seem too involved.

It was definitely easy to make and fit almost perfectly into a weeknight schedule as I was able to squeeze in a short workout during the hands-off cooking time. I hesitate, though, to call it a soup. I didn't care for it thin like a soup; it wasn't creamy enough. I kept it thick instead, though it's not exactly stew-like either since it's all pureed. It reminded me of Cream of Wheat or Malt-to-Meal in consistency.

Basically, it's green mush. But it's tasty green mush!

Sam I Am. Paging Mr. Sam I Am. Your green mush is ready.
Creamy Broccoli Soup ?

Creamy Broccoli ??
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

    1 Tbsp olive oil
    1 medium onion, roughly chopped
    ⅛ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
    2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
    1 bunch broccoli, florets roughly chopped, stems peeled and chopped (about 7 cups)
    1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into ½" pieces
    ½ tsp salt
    ¼ black pepper
    2 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese and croutons for topping each serving

  1. Heat oil in a large pot (I used my stock pot, you'll see why in a minute) over medium heat. Add the onion and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add the broth, broccoli, potato, ½ tsp salt, and ¼ black pepper to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Using an immersion blender, puree the vegetables in the pot until smooth, adjusting the consistency with water as needed (this is why I used the stock pot, alternately, you could use a blender, working in small batches).

Scoob was a little dubious during the grocery shopping when I told him what I was planning to make, but he's a good man and eats just about anything I put in front of him. Even my disasters. But he did say this smelled good once it got going in the pot and was looking forward to dinner.

The original recipe called for 2 cups of water during the second step, but I'm pretty sure I didn't use it. Although, now I can't quite recall. I do remember thinking that there didn't seem to be enough liquid, but it turned out fine.

The recipe also called for sharp white cheddar cheese and bagel chips for topping. I remembered the part about sharp, but not the part about white, while I was at the grocery store, hence to orange-yellow cheese you see in the photo. I toasted up a couple slices from a baguette loaf instead of the bagel chips.

And even though the recipe says the red pepper flakes are optional, I think it would have been way too bland without them.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Blinded by the Light

Let me preface this post by saying I feel appropriately guilty that a large portion of the US is suffering through some of the coldest, snowiest weather they've seen in years (I mean hells bells people, it snowed in Austin, TX for crying out loud) while I spent the weekend blissfully warm and frolicking in sunshine. The weather is clearly part of the magnetic pull the Bay Area has on people.

We had the doors and windows open here yesterday and today and the weather was stinking gorgeous! And today was downright shorts and tank top weather. I kid you not. Brace yourselves—it was 78° here today. It is February. Right?

When did Spring get here?
Cherry blossoms at twilight.

Obviously, I wasn't the only one thinking shorts were called for today. Scoob and I were practically blinded at the sight of so many winter-white legs on display today.

But not mine. No sirree. You see, I remembered that it is indeed February, which means it's winter and I haven't shaved my legs since sometime in October. Probably. Maybe September. Could be August. In any case, I don't even know if I've got a new razor around to do the job, so my legs remain hairy and safely under wraps.

Though, if we'd been running errands in Berkeley today, I might have been tempted to join the hippy chicks with some braiding. You know, come to think of it, a layer of hair would probably mitigate the glare from my pale legs.

I could just call it a safety precaution. I didn't shave my legs because I didn't want to sear your retinas and make you see my legs every time you close your eyes. See, it's a public service. The sacrifices I make.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Eggplant Pomodoro Pasta

So, about that eggplant. I use eggplant nearly every week as part of a veggie pizza, but I always have about ½ an eggplant left over from that dish that goes bad before we use it. This got me thinking about what I could make with that leftover eggplant to stop throwing money in the garbage.

I generally use the big, fat eggplants for pizza, and this recipe uses Japanese eggplants (longer, more slender, and fewer seeds), so I still have an eggplant problem. I'm working on the finer points of a recipe to deal with it. Although, I do usually have leftover mushrooms from the pizza, and this recipe takes care of that.

This recipe was inspired by a dish Scoob ordered at The Charcuterie in Healdsburg, CA, where we stopped for lunch on our trip north for Christmas.

Eggplant pomodoro ingredients

Eggplant pomodoro pasta

Eggplant Pomodoro Pasta
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes

    3 Japanese eggplants, quarter lengthwise, chop into ½" pieces
    3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    ½ onion, diced
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    ½ a portbello mushroom, diced
    1 carrot, diced
    1 Tbsp capers, minced
    12–15 Calamata olives, sliced
    1 14oz. can diced and peeled tomatoes, undrained
    juice and zest from ½ a lemon
    1 tsp Italian seasoning
    ½ cup water or broth
    crumbled feta
    dried or fresh parsley
    Kosher salt

  1. Cut eggplants, place in a colander and salt. Let stand 15–20 minutes to help leech out the bitterness. Meanwhile, do the rest of the chopping, dicing, and mincing.
  2. Start the water for your pasta and cook according to package directions. Heat 2 Tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add eggplant to the pan. The eggplant absorbs the oil quickly, so you'll want to keep them moving when you first add them to the skillet to help distribute the oil more evenly. Cook for 6–8 minutes, stirring often, until tender
  3. Remove eggplant from the skillet and set aside. Heat the remaining oil and saute the onions, garlic, carrot, and mushroom for 6–8 minutes, stirring often, until the onion is tender.
  4. Return eggplant to the skillet and add tomatoes, capers, olives, Italian seasoning, and water/broth. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Add lemon juice and serve over pasta. Top each serving with feta, parsley, and lemon zest if desired.

This one is a keeper at our house. I made it again last night and added a zucchini (sliced into ¼" half-moons) with the onions to up the veg factor. I will say that I would wait until the onions are about halfway done to add the zucchini if I do that again. They got a little mushier than I would have liked.

Also, I discovered we were out of lemons last night. I didn't make this discovery until after I'd finished chopping everything. I substituted 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar for the lemon juice. And it was good.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Where to Start

It seems like I'm always trying to play catch up here on the blog. I know I wrote about it before, but ever since Scoob got me an iPhone last spring, I just don't turn on the computer at home very often.

So where did we leave off?

On the family medical front, everyone is doing fine. Dad has a clean bill of health with his pneumonia and sis has been cleared to go back to work. Although, now mom is in some serious discomfort from some dental work. Hoping the swelling goes down and the pain abates soon.

It seems like we were talking tushie right before crap started hitting the proverbial fan. Okay, so I was talking tushie and you were listening. I did have other tushie-related news you know. I was excited too. Because I'd had to buy a new pair of jeans, because the other pair I just bought are now too big. Or at least they were when I had tushie-related news to share. Then there was birthday/Christmas/New Years and the old jeans fit just fine again. Drat!

It seems as though there was something else tushie-related, but I'll be darned if I can remember what it was.

So, I'm thinking I should stop trying to recover lost ground and just move forward. Well, that kinda sounds like a resolution. Not a bad one, either. Maybe I'll go with that.

Speaking of resolutions, after all the hullabaloo with the birthday/eclipse horoscope, I decided to check my New Year horoscope. If the stars don't lie, 2011 may shape up to be an exciting year. Oh, and just wait until the Year of the Rabbit starts. 'Cause the Rabbit and I, we're tight. Something about fruitful and multiplying when it comes to finances and babies. Oh yeah. We've started practicing. *wink, wink*

I do have a couple new recipes to share soon. We've been on an eggplant kick lately, so look out—if we eat much more we may turn into the eggplant version of Violet Beauregarde.

Speaking of recipes, I turned on the mobile version of the blog and I love it. I often look up recipes from my blog while I'm in the kitchen, and now the pages load so much faster. Woot!

Okay, enough of that. It's time for kittehs!

A couple weeks ago it was pouring down rain here. I came home from work one night and had to leave my umbrella open on the floor to dry. The cats loved it. And I got out the camera. Of course, being cats, as soon as I got the camera set up they both disappeared. Isn't that just like a cat.

But then I asked Tank to get back under the umbrella. Seriously. I said, "Tank, please go back under the umbrella and sit pretty." Yo, and he did. Without hesitation. That cat scares me sometimes.

Dozer was a little scared of the umbrella, but she did strike a pose under the table.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry & Happy

We're on our way for several days of family and Christmassy fun. A bunch of driving, then family, family, family, then more driving.

I hope you all have a happy Christmas, however you celebrate.

BTW—40 is fine. I'm actually looking forward to my 40s.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Happy Early Birthday to Me!

One of the challenges with having a birthday so close to Christmas is that it often gets lumped up with all the other festivities. Though, considering grandma's birthday is actually Christmas Day, I really shouldn't complain. Anyhow, my co-workers in the editorial department decided to surprise me with a birthday celebration today before people start fleeing the office for the holidays.

I received a nice card, with some wonderful birthday wishes, and a yum-yum-yummy, ri-ri-rich chocolate mousse cake. The conversation turned astrological as we were enjoying the cake.

In a normal year, my birthday falls on the winter solstice. But this year, not only is my birthday on the solstice, but there's a full moon, a lunar eclipse, and Mercury is in retrograde. And it's the big Four-Oh, not that there's anything astrological about that.

I never realized how closely me co-workers follow astrology, but I've been hearing about this Mercury in retrograde thing all month. Apparently it never leads to any good.

Anyhow, we decided the confluence of these events was either going to be very auspicious, or very disastrous. After stashing the entire half cake that was leftover in the fridge so I could bring it home to share with Scoob, I started looking up some of the astrological websites that were recommended.

Dudes, it is not good. I shouldn't even bother getting out of bed on Tuesday.

From Michael Lutin:
Here you are trying your best to fortify and stabilize your whole life, and the very house you are living in seems like a sand castle at the edge of the sea at as the tide comes rolling in. Maybe you won’t exactly look back on this scene someday and laugh about it, mainly because the bolt from the blue that has struck your family has repercussions that will last for years and years.

Oooookay. Nothing here about the eclipse and other events specifically, but it is certainly not making me feel any better about the serious family health issues from earlier in the week.

Then there's this from Susan Miller:
Romantically, the total eclipse of the moon on December 21 in Gemini at 29 degrees could bring emotional drama, especially if you were born near the end of your sign from December 17- 21. [Yo, Dec. 21, here] The focus will be a serious relationship, in love or business...

One reason this month's December 21 eclipse could prove to be troublesome is that it will fall directly on the solstice, which means it will be more powerful than most eclipses. Solstice points represent the life force, so it's very strong - and we haven't had an eclipse this powerful since 2001. Another reason I expect trouble is that Uranus will act up in a big way, for he will be in tight, challenging position to the Sun and moon.

The whole area of real estate and property is being brought into the discussion of the eclipse because Uranus will be so active on December 21, and Uranus is currently in your fourth house of home. As a result of this eclipse, you may move to a new address, or a family member may create news, and in both cases, this would happen quite out of the blue. If you are currently living with your sweetheart, you may suddenly decide to move out.

This home and property sector rules not only physical property you buy, sell, or lease, but also the people with whom you share your space (romantic lover, roommate, or immediate family). It rules also the people you hire to help you with your space (contractors, decorators, or maintenance help) or people who you deal with to maintain, sell, or do other things for your space (buyers, sellers, tenants, landlord, or broker). This house also rules your parents or adoptive parents, for your fourth house of home is considered the "cradle of life." One of these individuals listed here may be an important big focus now.

Oh, and I didn't copy is here, but there's also something about Venus being in my House of Secrets and I shouldn't be surprised if a secret is exposed sometime between the eclipse (Dec. 21) and mid-January. Those of you that know my news can see how that may be problematic. Then there's the whole "cradle of life"/family thing. Again.

You know, a smart person would just stop reading these things. But now I'm kind of dreading my birthday and I'm thinking that curling up in bed with a cup of tea and some of that leftover birthday cake might not be such a bad decision. But, of course, there's just one slight problem with that plan...

Where the hell did my cake go?
I left a whole half of a cake!

Someone at the office apparently thought the cake was going to get tossed out with the Friday night fridge purge and took it upon themselves to liberate the cake. I particularly like that fact that they left me a few crumbs and the empty box in the fridge. No one has owned up to it yet.

I don't know which pisses me off more, that someone (or more than one) took what clearly didn't belong to them, or that they left the freakin' empty box behind!

I think my eclipse has started early. And Day 1 is imminent.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Finally winding down from a phone call with my mom (mom) and am about to head to bed, but I wanted to post a quick update. I talked with my mom (step-mom) earlier and my sister was moved out of ICU this afternoon, so that is good. Though from what I understand, her roomie in ICU was detoxing and creating quite the fuss between yelling/swearing/throwing things and being otherwise abusive. She was really pissed when sis got her own room. I can only imagine what she did then.

But, anyhow, this isn't an update about the crazy meth addict. Now that sis is out of ICU she can text and facebook, and whatnot, so I spent a good portion of the evening testing her hand-eye coordination while on pain meds by having a text conversation. Heh. Well, I was worried she might be winded and a little short of breath for a phone call what with the hole in her lung.

So the leak in sis's lung has apparently sealed itself—okay, can I just say, when a doctor tells me something has "resolved" itself, I'm always a little hesitant to take it at face value. Okay. So she's no longer leaking air and can breathe easier, but there's still a lot of air trapped in her body and that still has her in a great deal of pain. They're keeping her another night for observation and are hoping the air will dissipate (read "resolve") on its own. She thinks she could go home tomorrow.

I also learned this afternoon that sis forgot to turn in her paperwork to enroll in her company's health insurance plan. After she gets this bill, I'm guessing she never forgets again. Yeah, sis, if you could see me, I'd be giving you the look.

Dad's got a clean bill of health from his doctor. Turns out I was needlessly worried about him. Well, not needlessly, but just late to the daddy worry party. He actually relapsed with his pneumonia a week ago and today was his follow-up appointment from that. No one tells me anything. Probably because I'm such a worry wart.

So anyhow, I'm wishing it were Friday night instead of Wednesday so I could sleep in tomorrow. But I'll probably head up to Eureka on Friday after work for a quick visit. Maybe I'll even pick up some Dilly Bars on the way. To share with Bungee.