Sunday, July 29, 2012

My Favorite Dish -- At Least at the Moment!

I seem to be on a recipe roll!  I've been experimenting over the past few months with Thai cuisine, and I've collected a few curry recipes.  We had half a bag of large shrimp in the freezer, and I had a bunch of veggies that needed to be used.  I didn't feel like a stir fry so I made a version of shrimp curry.  I didn't measure anything  --- I tend not to follow recipes exactly anyway.  This is one of those recipes you can adjust to the ingredients you have on hand and your own personal taste buds.  My husband said it was really good but he would suggest a tad more heat.  I opted on a more subtle heat, but it's really up to you!  If you need more heat, add more chili paste and/or serrano chili.

Here's what I did:

Deb's Shrimp Curry

2 medium carrots sliced into thin strips
1/2 large onion diced
1 clove garlic minced
1 TBS green curry paste
1 TBS Thai fish sauce
1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
1 cup (approx) chicken broth
sugar snap peas - about a cup
bok choy, sliced into bite-sized pieces (about 1 cup)
1/2 of a serrano chili diced
1 TBS tomato paste
juice of a lime
fresh basil, roughly torn - 1/4 cup?
fresh cilantro - 1/4 cup?  Reserve some for garnish
1 lb shrimp (16-20 count)

diced ginger (about 1 inch can be added at start with garlic and chili paste if desired)

Saute the chili paste and garlic in a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil for a couple of minutes over medium heat.  Add the onion, chili, and carrots and cook for another minute or two.  Add the coconut milk, chicken broth, fish sauce, and lime juice and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Taste sauce and adjust seasonings (lime juice, chili paste), and you might need to add a tad more chicken broth or fish sauce).  Add the shrimp and the remaining veggies and herbs.  Simmer for 3-4 minutes until shrimp and veggies are heated through.  Don't let the veggies get too limp and soggy.  

Serve over hot rice or noodles.  Garnish with cilantro.

This serves 4-6 people depending on how hungry every one is!

Saturday, July 28, 2012


It's finally blueberry season around here, and we've got plenty.  So it's time to make our favorite blueberry pancakes!
I've been making these pancakes for many, many years.  It's from the Farm Journal Country Cookbook (1972) so that gives you an idea of just how many years!  It's really the only recipe I've ever used from this cookbook, and the book opens right to page 389 where it's located.  I used to have to make a double or triple batch when the kids were home and growing.  Now I just make the original size recipe, and often we have left over batter.  I also almost always substitute yogurt for the sour cream, and sometimes use buttermilk instead of regular milk.    I also use more blueberries than the recipe calls for!  
You can even make the batter ahead of time, and if it seems too thick, just add a bit more milk, and maybe an extra pinch of baking powder.

I just wish the camera battery had been charged!  This gives you the general idea though!

Sour Cream/Blueberry Pancakes

1 cup sifted flour (tho' I never sift it!)
3 tsp baking powder (AKA 1 TB)
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBS sugar
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
2 TBS melted butter
1/2 cup blueberries

Mix the dry ingredients and set aside.  Lightly beat the egg, and then beat in the milk and sour cream.  Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients and blend until batter is just smooth.  Stir in the butter.  Fold in the blueberries.

Drop batter on hot griddle and cook until bottoms are brown and all the bubbles on the surface have popped.  Flip and cook until other side is brown.  Serve hot with butter and *** REAL *** maple syrup!  (We always warm our syrup briefly before serving.)

This makes about 10-12 4 inchish pancakes.

****I'm a maple syrup purist.  I can't abide the fake maple-flavored stuff.  True syrup is not thick and gooey.  It's thin (but very sticky) and runs down the side of your pancakes or waffles, pooling in delicious puddles.  The pancake or waffle also soaks it up like a sponge.  I do not order pancakes or waffles at  a restaurant unless there's a real syrup option and I will pay extra for it.  It helps that we live in maple country, so we can buy it directly from a local sugar house.  It goes a lot further than the fake stuff too, so while it IS more expensive, it goes a lot further than a bottle of Mrs. Butterworth or corn syrup based stuff.  Do I sound biased??  I am!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Recipe!

We belong to a CSA and I look forward every week to all the great produce.  Sometimes it can be a challenge to use all the bounty, especially when you have a picky husband.  I happen to love eggplant in almost any form, but my husband dislikes most of the eggplant recipes I use.  I'm always on the look out for new recipes that he'll eat since eggplant appears frequently in our basket.  I found and  tried this recipe from the  "back to school" Penzey's spice catalog yesterday.  It's a keeper!   I did have to tweak it due to available ingredients, but we really liked it.  Here's the original recipe.

Sandy's Eggplant Patties

1 medium eggplant (about 1.5 lbs), ends removed, peeled and cubed
1 3/4 c round butter crackers (about 48), crushed and divided
1 1/4 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 TB fresh parsley (or 2 tsp parsley flakes)
2 TB sliced green onion
1 garlic clove, minced (or 1/4 tsp Penzey's minced garlic)
1/2 tsp Kosher flake-style salt
1/4 tsp Penzey's freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.  Add the eggplant and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Drain well.  Place in a mixing bowl and mash until smooth.  Stir in one cup of the cracker crumbs, the cheese, egg, parsleyy, green onion, garlic, salt and pepper.  Shape into patties.  Place the remaining cracker crumbs on a rimmed plate.  Coat the eggplant patties in crumbs on both sides.  Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium  heat until hot.  The oil should sizzle when a small amount of batter is dropped into the skillet.  Add the patties, 3-4 at a time, don't crowd the pan.  Shake the pan a bit to keep the patties from sticking.  Carefully turn after about 2-3 minutes, when the bottoms are golden.  Cook the other sides until golden, about 2-3 minutes.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: About 4-6 minutes per batch
Yield: 8-12 patties depending on size.

Nutritional info:  Servings 12; Serving size 1 patty (54 g)  Calories 160, Calories from fat 110, total fat 12 g, cholestoral 20 mg, sodium 200 mg, carbohydrate 9 g, dietary fiber <1 gram, sugars 1 g, protein 3 gr.

Here's how I tweaked it.

My eggplant was skimpy so I added a small zucchini so that I had about 1.5 lbs of veggie.  I steamed the eggplant and zucchini together, and after draining it, I pureed it in my food processor.  I only had 3/4 of a sleeve of Ritz crackers so I made up the rest of the cracker crumbs with some saltines.  I added extra parsley and green onion (I had an overabundance of both these in our basket).  I made the batter early in the day since I knew dinner was going to be rushed, and didn't mix in the cracker crumbs until I was ready to cook.  I found the batter to be VERY loose, so I added some extra crumbs and used some panko to round out the coating crumbs.  These did fall apart fairly easily.  I might try adding a 2nd egg the next time I make this. I'm guessing the amount of veggie and its moisture varies!.   I used a scant  1/4 cup of olive oil as the frying medium.

I should have taken a picture, but as usual thought of it after the fact!  We ended up eating these as the main course with cukes and tomatoes as a side dish.  My husband loved them.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Socks at Last!

I started these socks way back in March and had to stop knitting on them or anything else too many times to count due my RA symptoms.  I finally did some experimenting and discovered I could knit without additional pain if I followed a pattern of about 20 minutes knitting, a 15 minute or so rest, and alternate that over the course of an evening.  So I finally finished these last night.

It's from Interweave 25 Favorite Socks, Merino Lace socks by Ann Woodbury.  I used Zitron Trekking XXL which I bought at Webs quite a while ago in color 083. I love using this yarn for socks, and I like the blend of color.

They fit perfectly, and I really enjoyed the pattern.

Here they are:

Maybe you can see the pattern more clearly here - well you can see the scallops a bit more clearly on either side of the zigzag yarnovers!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Tough Start

Boy!  After a spell of feeling good and being able to move with minimal pain and stiffness,  I woke up too early this morning in a great deal of pain.  Trying to get down the stairs this morning was a huge undertaking. My shoulders, knees, ankles, and hands really hurt.  I'd actually been feeling pretty good the past week or so, with only minor reminders that my hands are swollen (like not being able to wear my rings).  I guess it's good that my meds have FINALLY arrived.  I use a mail order prescription service through my insurance company and they are usually very prompt about filling prescriptions.  For some reason however, the new med was delayed almost 2 weeks.  After a phone call to the company, I was told that the delay was highly unusual and that they would put a rush on the order.  They did, and I got it overnight.  So today is the day I start taking it.  The dr told me it would be about 2 months before I started to see(feel) positive effects.  I just hope I don't feel too many of the side effects!  Starting a life long med is scary.  But I know I'll be significantly worse off without it!

One of the realizations I've experienced since my RA diagnosis is just how many people have it!  At a 4th of July picnic, I discovered a friend has been dealing with it for 18 years!  And my teaching partner's mom has it, as do several other people in my circle of acquaintances.  And ever since the diagnosis, all I see on TV are ads for RA medications!!  I guess they were there before, but you really don't pay attention when it's not something that concerns you.

On the agenda today are a trip to the library, two banks, and a meeting with the school district's extended day coordinator.  She's new and she's asked several staff members to meet with her this afternoon to  talk about what we like about the program (which was new last school year) and what we see are needs for the program.  It should be an interesting discussion!    Just hope that this morning's stiffness wears off by noon!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


A lovely day, both weather-wise and activity-wise.  We've been blessed with a spell of perfect summer weather.  Hot enough to want to go swimming or to cool down somewhere, but not so hot that you feel like you'll melt.  And no humidity which I hate!  The nights have cooled down to the high 50°s and low 60°s which makes for great sleeping.  It's going to get hot (90°s) and the humidity will make a comeback for the weekend but for now, I'll enjoy the weather!

My best friend and I made a trek to Knitting Heaven today, AKA Webs.  It's a tad over 90 minutes from here, and it's an easy drive - about 45 minutes on a winding state route, and then a straight shot down a pretty section of I-91.  We both went with lists for specific projects and wonder of wonders, we stuck to them!  We oohed and ahhed over lots of luscious fiber but exercised strict portion control!

 I bought this  (Plymouth Encore)

for the Kari baby blanket.  This needs to be finished by Thanksgiving.

I bought  this (Valley Yarns Charlemont Kettle Dye in Whipple Blue).  The picture doesn't catch the tones well.

 for Rustling Leaves Beret.  There's actually enough yardage for 2 of the berets with extra left over!  This will be a Christmas gift (I hope!)

And I bought some Berroco Vintage DK
Vintage DK

for this pattern, Kingscot. It's  ruby but I don't actually have it. It's being shipped (for free) from their new warehouse since there were only 3 skeins at the home store.  I seem to be on a red kick lately!

I"ve started knitting again despite my painful fingers, and as long as I stop frequently I'm doing okay.  So. . . I am almost done with a pair of socks I feel like I"ve been knitting forever, and I can't wait to get started on some of the new projects!

We had a pleasant lunch at the Northampton Brewery (minus the brews!) and then headed home.  I like days like today!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Banana Bread

It's finally cool and dry enough to have the oven on.  I've needed (wanted?) to make banana bread since the "dead" bananas were overrunning the freezer.  Whenever we have bananas that get too ripe, I throw them in the freezer, skins and all, to use in banana bread and banana cake.  I just put them in a zip lock bag and take out what I need for the recipes.  I peel them while they're still frozen and plop them right into the mixing bowl.

We have a favorite banana bread recipe from my mother.  Once when I was in 4th or5th grade, my mom came home from the grocery store with a 40 lb crate of overripe bananas.  They were on special and she got the whole crate for $.05 a pound.  Of course, then we had to figure out what to do with 40 lbs of bananas!  We peeled most of them and mashed them into measured cups of banana, and then froze the portions.  Mami also found this recipe which makes the moistest and most banana-y bread ever!

Mami’s  40 Lbs of Banana Bread

3 cups sugar
2 cups chopped nuts
4 egg yolks
4 stiffly beaten egg whites
6 mashed bananas
¼ lb melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking soda
8 tbs buttermilk (can use dry powder – reconstitute per to package directions)
¼ tsp salt
3 cups flour

Mix sugar, nuts, egg yolks,  and bananas.  Add the melted butter and vanilla.  Add the baking soda to the buttermilk.  Stir well, and add to banana mixture.  Add the salt and flour, mix well.  Fold in egg whites.  Pour into 2 greased and floured loaf pans.  Bake for one hour at 350° F. Cool. Freezes well.

The breads are heavy!  Sometimes I've added cranberries or even choc chips, but I like it best just as the recipe is written.  I've also been known to throw in a 7th banana if it's a loner!

Barely got the loaves out of the oven before a certain other person started sampling!

The other really tasty banana recipe comes from Fannie Farmer. My notes are in parentheses.

 Banana Cake - from Fannie Farmer Baking Book

1/2 cup vegetable shortening (I used Crisco)
1 ½  cups sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium bananas)
½ cup buttermilk  (I substituted ½ milk mixed with a tbs of vinegar)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour 2 9 inch round cake pans. 
Cream the shortening, then slowly add the sugar and beat until the mixture is smooth.  Beat in the egg yolks, then the mashed bananas and the buttermilk, and mix well.  Stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, add to the banana mixture and beat until smooth.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they are stiff but moist.  Plop the beaten whites on top of the batter and begin folding them in.  When the whites are almost incorporated, sprinkle on the nuts if using, and continue folding until blended.

Spread evenly in prepared cake pans and bake for 30- 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Let cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, and then turn out onto a rack to cool.  When completely cooled, fill the cake with a filling of your choice.***

Frost with cream cheese frosting.

*** I spread some frosting on the bottom layer and then spread some jam on top. 

They have a recipe for a banana cream filling, but I didn’t think it sounded good. 

Cream-Cheese Frosting  - don't know where this is from.  It's a frosting I learned as a kid!

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
1/2 stick (4 tbs) butter
approx 2 cups confectionery sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract.
(Options) zest of lemon or 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Cream the cream cheese and butter and gradually add the sugar.  Mix in the vanilla and beat until smooth.  

This cake is popular at pot luck dinners and I usually bring it to gatherings with friends.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ten Thoughts for Tuesday

In no particular order:

1.  I've had two "good" days in a row.  By "good" I mean, I've been able to move fairly freely with minimal pain, and only minimal stiffness.  When I get a good day, I realize just how bad the other days have been.  There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why some days are better than others.  I guess that's the nature of RA?  I'm still learning about this disease.

2. I've been working on a tough 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle, since manipulating the pieces doesn't hurt as much as my knitting needles do.  I  do love jigsaw puzzles and it's been quite a while since I did one.  My porch is an ideal place due to the great light.

3. I made some terrific potato salad -- even though I didn't do anything differently than I usually do, it came out better than usual. It almost tasted like my mother's!

4.  I read a great young adult novel called Keeping the Castle, by Patrice Kindl.  Think Georgette Heyer mixed with Jane Austen and you'll have a delightful frothy romantic farce.  I looked for some other books by the author at my public library today, but they don't have anything by her.

5.  Speaking of book reviews,  I haven't been posting many here. I've been doing all my book reviews over at  You can find me there under dswgr6, or you can click on the books read link on the left.

6.  The weather has been perfect for the past few days --  even when it hit 90° over the weekend, there was always a breeze, and very little humidity.  Yesterday and today were a bit cooler, and still no humidity.  If summer were like this all the time, I'd be a happy camper!

7.  I really miss knitting!  I have so many projects I want to work on, and my almost finished sock sits on the coffee table mocking me.  The dr says go ahead and knit, but I've had the worst time trying to manipulate the needles.  My right hand is most affected, and the thumb and middle fingers are the most affected fingers.  Makes it hard to hold the needles.

8.  I've been sucked into a period of nostalgia.  For the past week or 2 I've been watching old episodes of The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie at night.  I have no idea why these are so appealing, but I'm wallowing in them.  The Waltons holds up much better than Little House as far as story lines.  They were well-written, simple stories that age well.

9.  While I love fireworks when I purposely go to watch a show, I definitely do not like the fireworks that have been shot off almost every evening since Friday around the neighborhood.  They are sometimes Roman candles or ground fountains, and there are lots of firecrackers being shot off.  Aside from the real risk of fire since the woods are dry (and we live in a wooded area), the blasts are really annoying.  And they set the neighborhood dogs barking too.

10.  My mission of decluttering the house isn't terribly successful - at least not yet.  Partly it's because of my lack of energy and movement, but it's also the fact that I just don't have a place to put the things that I want to keep!  I seem to move things from point A to point B and never make any headway.  I think I'd love to have one of the TV organizers on hand.  I did discard 2 large black trash bags filled with junk, and I did give away several books.  I also have a box of books that I will donate to the church flea market, but that's not till August.  I want the stuff out of my house now!  Anybody have any ideas for what to do with books that are too good to throw out, but aren't really ones most people want?