Thursday, August 30, 2012

Porcupine Meatballs

This post is celebrating a special occasion - my wedding anniversary!  34 years on August 31st!  And why THIS song of all songs?  Because it's the very first song we heard as we finally got into our car after the morning ceremony and a wedding breakfast.  My new husband started up our little orange Datsun B210 5-speed hatchback and the radio filled the car with Exile's tormented wish list of what they'd like to do "'til the night closes in."  Are you serious?!  Yes, this blushing young bride felt a little awkward and suddenly very shy.  We both laughed - my husband not quite as nervously as I, I noticed.  It was a busy day and I don't remember every single moment, but I have several favorite mental snapshots and this is one of them - the look on his face as he looked over at me.  It doesn't matter when or where - play this song and a little smile will find it's way to the corners of my mouth - I might even blush a little.  It's one of those stories that drive our kids just a little crazy - which makes the telling even more fun.  Yes - we were young once - and still are on the inside.  And I'm still absolutely insanely crazy in love with that man.

Thursday, August 31, 1978
That was the beginning of our married life together.
We spent our wedding night at the Snowbird Ski Resort and enjoyed a bowl of Froot Loops 
together as our first breakfast as man and wife.  Then we traveled across the country in our little Datsun for an open house at my parents' home in Pennsylvania.  We got about 45 mpg and gas cost about $.68/gallon.  So, if my calculations are correct, for a round trip of 4000 miles, it cost us a little over $60.00 in gas.

We returned to Utah a little over a week later so my husband could start his fall quarter classes at Weber State College.  We moved into a little home that we had helped fix up in exchange for a reduced rent rate.  I set up my kitchen with the few items we had received as gifts and set about planning the first meal I would make for my husband and I.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer Vegetable Quiche

Summer Breeze by Seals & Crofts
I love how this song, through words and music, creates that most wonderful of feelings - a lazy summer breeze on a hot summer's night.  I can picture the street that this house is on, complete with light dancing through the leaves on a branch of a tree.  As the screen door opens and closes, I can even imagine the creak - a screen door MUST have a creak, right?  I can smell the dinner that's ready and waiting for the guy - and if the woman in the song is smart, the dinner she has made will smell just like this quiche as it bakes.  Filled with fresh veggies and herbs, this quiche catches the essence of summer - just as the song sings it for us.  Enjoy both!

Gardens and orchards are bursting at the seams with their bounty!  It's a great time of year!  The harvesting has begun and, right along with it, the food preserving season as well.  I have so many fond memories of this "end-of-summer, beginning-of-fall" time.  My parents were geniuses at finding ways to use the produce in it's fresh state as well as mobilizing a full-blown cannery in our tiny little kitchen.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ramped Up Brownie Mix

With A Little Help From My Friends by The Beatles
So do you ever wonder if artists write songs with the thought in mind, "I'll bet this one will get alot of screams from the girls!"  This has crossed my mind as I've stood in concerts and have been one of the screamers, appropriately responding to the lyrics in the songs with my vocal volume.  I mean, I know they had ME in mind when writing them, right?  I'm pretty sure The Beatles didn't need to ask for our help, but I loved that they did anyway.  It gave everyone fits just thinking about the ways they'd like to help the Fab Four - and knowing that you weren't going to be able to do ANY of them made you, well, SCREAM!  Now, for today's post, I don't recall the box of brownie mix asking for my help, but I did just the same - and knowing the results has had me screaming "OH MY GOODNESS!"

The idea is almost ludicrous - that brownies, in any shape or form, need help of any kind.  Yet, that's just what I've done here.  I made some brownies for a wedding recently
and it's had me thinking about the moist and gooey treats.  "What if I married some of my favorite parts of my scratch recipe with the convenience and predictability of a mix?"  I wondered.  So I sat down with paper and pencil and did some figuring.  A little trial and error later, I've come up with a fix for a mix that rivals any straight scratch brownie.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Parsley Parmesan Butter

Dueling Banjos by Eric Weissberg & Steve Mandell
There was head to head competition at my house recently - or should I say ear to ear competition.  I was issued a challenge and I can't think of a better song for the occasion than this one.  Originally written by Arthur Smith in 1955, this instrumental was brought to everybody's attention when it was used in the movie Deliverance in 1972.  It hit the radio waves and I remember it being played almost non-stop.  I've never even seen the movie but I know this song!  Let the challenge begin!

A couple weeks ago I was minding my own business when, about dinnertime, I got a call from my oldest grandson, who is 5 years old.  He said,  "Grandma, I wanna have a corn race!"  An immediate smile spreads across my face at the determination in his voice.  "Oh you do, do you?" I reply.  "Yeah!  Daddy says you can eat more corn than me!  But I think I can eat more!  I wanna race when we come visit!"  After warning him that I could eat a whooooole bunch of corn, the corn race was set.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Peach Cheesecake Ice Cream

Peaches by The Presidents of the United States of America
Believe it or not, there's a goodly amount of songs out there about peaches or by bands who have the word "peaches" in their name.  I've always loved the quirkiness of this song though.  Apparently, the lead singer, Chris Ballew, had a crush on a girl in high school who happened to have a peach tree in her yard.  One can only assume that the more peaches he ate, the more time he could spend with this girl - or at least standing in her yard staring at her house - which sounds exactly like something one would do in their teen years!  All I know is that I love peaches - no matter whose yard is hosting the trees!  Country or city - peaches will be mine!  Oh yes, they will be mine!

One of my favorite gifts we received for our wedding was an ice cream maker.  It really stood out among all the "necessary" items a couple receives when beginning their life together.  Don't interpret this as ingratitude for all of those "necessary" things.  We couldn't have done without them!  Scraping food off the table for lack of plates would not have been very appetizing or romantic.  But the ice cream maker seemed such a novelty - such a frivolity!

We couldn't use it much at first - mostly for lack of funds for the ingredients required to make ice cream - namely the cream.  Our budget was ultra tight during those school years.  But, occasionally, we'd splurge and enjoy some delicious homemade ice cream.

This ice cream maker traveled all over the country with us - from Utah to New York, back to Utah, then on up here to Washington - where it finally died.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Focaccia Bread

Come and Get It by Badfinger
Just like the song says, "If you want it, here it is, come and get it!"  And, although the song urges you to be quick about it, you don't have to hurry, the recipe will be here waiting for you.  However, you will want to hurry and make some up because it is so good and so versatile.  Now, once it's made, then that's when the hurry part comes into play because it won't last long.  A bread for every meal, it goes well with eggs, stands as the foundation for a delicious sandwich, and is content to play second string as a complement to your dinner.  It will go fast.  And then you get to make some more - and maybe come up with your own flavor profile!

When we dine out, my husband and I have very different approaches and mindsets as to how to attack the meal.  He's all for not eating too much of the "preamble" of bread, salad, and appetizers because he wants to save room for his dessert and main course - in that order.  This is such a logical strategy that I am amazed that I don't choose it for myself.  But, alas, I think very differently.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta

Tomatoes, to-mah-toes - they're everywhere!  The farmers markets are overflowing with every size, shape, and color and each jewel can either - or "eyether" play the star or co-star in every single meal! While they are the most fresh, I like to make them the star.  And, luckily, making them the star requires neither - or "neyether" - great effort nor many ingredients.  Win, win!  Make like Fred and Ginger and dance on out to the garden or to your farmers market and get some today!

No tomato passed my lips without trickery or compulsion until I was 32 years old.  I hated them.  I ate ketchup and I ate canned tomato soup and some spaghetti sauces, but good luck trying to get a tomato into me in any other fashion.  It drove my mother nuts.  In her mind they all had the same tomato-ey taste.  I firmly held that ketchup tasted nothing like those stewed tomatoes she liked to serve for dinner. It was the only food I absolutely refused to eat.  No way.  No how.  Not gonna happen!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Italian Club Sandwich

Look For the Silver Lining by Marion Harris
We're talking about looking for the silver lining today.  Jerome Kern and B. G. De Sylva wrote a song about such optimistic thinking for a musical called "Zip, Goes A Million," which, was, oddly enough, an unsuccessful production.  Many people have recorded the song since, Judy Garland being the most well-known.  However, being as I'm a big fan of "Downton Abbey," I couldn't resist using Marion Harris' recording.  Her rendition plays while Lady Mary and Matthew are dancing and discussing their "flop" of a relationship and, well, fellow fans know what "silver lining" happens next!  It's a good policy, you know, this silver lining hunt.  It gets you through all sorts of unfortunate happenings - like defeating, crushing losses in beyond-bitter cold stadiums.

Years ago, I went to Missoula, Montana to watch my Weber State University Wildcats play the University of Montana Grizzlies.  Weber State lost - actually, we were crushed.  But, you know how they tell you to always find a silver lining?  Well, this Italian Club Sandwich was the silver lining from that trip!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Lemony Blueberry Scones

I'm Into Something Good by Herman's Hermits
The Olympics have me thinking of England much more than usual.  I have found myself wishing, more than a few times, that I had had enough foresight to get tickets to be over there to enjoy all the festivities.  But I didn't.  So I will sit here in the United States and console myself with Lemony Blueberry Scones and snappy tunes by Herman's Hermits - you know, those cute boys from Manchester.  One taste and something will be telling you that you're "into something good."  Make that something REALLY good!

When I watch the Olympics I find myself wondering in which of the events I'd most likely be a participant.  I'm short so I spend most of the time trying to picture myself as a gymnast.  I did enjoy the uneven parallel bars in gym class in junior high.  But, seeing as how I'm one of the clumsiest people to walk the face of the earth, I always end up crossing it off the list of potentials.  

Too bad there aren't events such as "Food Pondering," and "Recipe Meddling"(pun intended).  I'd be right there.  And I've been in training for the past few weeks.