Memories and healthy recipes for your dinner table.

Month: July 2010

Barbecued Corn Relish

Do not let this summer season go by without trying Barbecued Corn Relish. This recipe happens to be a companion recipe to grilled salmon flavored with barbecue sauce; however, I thoroughly enjoyed the corn relish on a taco salad. You could also serve it up […]

Boiled Eggs Tips and Tricks

My favorite way to eat eggs is soft boiled with a runny yolk and a piece of toast to dip or mixed with a side of grits; it is part of my southern upbringing I suppose. Hard boiled eggs can be equally tasty sliced in […]

Blueberry Scones Over Melted Peaches

Blueberry Scones with Melted Peaches

I have longed for summer fruit since December. The stock of homemade jams and frozen fruit vanished before the new year. I was fortunate to discover a U-Pick strawberry and blueberry field close by.  The kids went hog wild filling up buckets of fresh picked berries. We ate as many as our tummies could stand, blended some into smoothies and froze the rest.  I’ve been waiting for the peaches in the backyard to ripen so we could make blueberry scones with melted peaches; a modern take on the southern peach cobbler.

Source: unknown
1 pound fresh peaches, peeled and sliced (1/2 pound frozen)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon juice
1 2/3 cups flour
3 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup heavy cream, plus 2 tbsp
2 tsp granulated sugar or raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8X8 or 9X9 square pan.

In a large bowl combine the peaches, brown sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. Toss; set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder and salt.
Using your fingers or a pastry blender, blend in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the blueberries and toss. Add 1/2 cup cream. Mix with a fork until the dough just comes together. Turn out onto a floured surface. Gather the dough and pat into a 1-inch thick round. Cut into 8 wedges.

Pour the peaches into the prepared pan. Arrange the wedges on the top. Brush with 2 tablespoons of cream and sprinkle with the 2 teaspoons sugar. Bake until scones are golden, about 50 minutes to an hour. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 8

Variations:
– To bake just the scones arrange wedges on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
– Substitute apples or nectarines for the peaches.

Summer Vacation Park Relay

One of our favorite things to do when we travel is find neighborhood parks to play at. Some of the parks we have discovered are so grand and amazing that we add them to our day trip list. The day trip list consists of locations […]

Pannenkoek Dutch Apple Pancakes

Last month I met some friends for breakfast at a local cafe. As a self-proclaimed pancake luver I decided to try the Dutch Apple Pancakes with sauteed apples. I was unsure with my decision because I am not a fan of the goopy sugary apple […]

July Resolution How to Have FUN

dancing-in-the-rain

Photo: Dancing in the Rain, courtesy of Photo Bucket

Someone once told me they were leery of overly happy people because they must be hiding something. I think that there are individuals out there who are genuinely happy. The faults of life roll off their backs like RainX on a car windshield. On the opposite side of the glass half-full crowd are those who need to wallow in self-pity. They feel robbed of their liberties if their feelings are not validated. They feel they are  fake if they act contrary to how they feel. If they do not feel happy then why should they be happy? Problem is when they are not happy they feel no one should be happy. Thus we are all made to feel miserable with them.

One day I was listening to a radio talk show. The caller expressed the need to be true to her feelings but longed to be happy like her fiancé. Even so, she found it difficult to “fake” being nice if she did not feel like being nice. Her question was if she woke up on the wrong side of the bed was it ok to fake being happy? The host told her if that is what she needed to do then yes it is ok because it is never ok to lash out at someone. The host then added that sometimes when we try to be happy by smiling and doing nice things for other people eventually we become happy.

Not long ago I received terrible news that a dear friend of mine had succumb to liver cancer. She discovered that she had cancer only three months prior to her death. Donna was in her late 50’s. Her life had been fraught with peril at every turn. She was abused and abandoned most of her existence. She was strong. She was a fighter. She survived every negative confrontation thrown at her. By the time we met in my late twenties she was no longer the victim. Her rosy cheeks and denim overalls said everything about her character. She was soft spoken and kind. She would give the shirt off her back to help someone. She was genuine; always a pleasure to be around. She always had a kind word to say on both good and bad days. I loved being around Donna  because she was fun.

As the month progressed I learned of the severe personal tumults suffered by several of my dearest friends. I realized  that day there are more people than we realize who have or are  suffering in some form or another. Despite their afflictions, they strive to keep their heads high making the most of what they have. They have dealt with the past. They are moving on. Their lives are not perfect. They are battle worn and scared. Nevertheless, they are striving to make their lives and those around them better. These women are some of the most noble people I have had the pleasure of befriending. Most importantly despite their hardships they are permitting themselves to have fun and enjoy the pleasures of life.

boat by Dapixara

Photo: Red Boat, by Dapixara

When I was a young girl I loved the movie Pollyanna starring Haley Mills. Pollyanna is a vibrant 11 year old girl. Upon her father’s untimely death she was shipped off to live with her Aunt Polly. The daughter of a Missionary Minister, Pollyanna did without the finer things in life. Her only belongings came from missionary barrels or donations. As it so happens, one summer she begged her father for a doll. The ‘Ladies Aid’ tried to find one but all they received by the time the barrel needed to be sent off was a set of crutches. Pollyanna’s father seeing her terrible sadness came up with an idea. He asked her to find something glad about the situation. When she could not he told her she could be glad that she does not have to use the crutches. From that time forward she and her father played what they called the “Glad Game”. Pollyanna set about changing the hearts of everyone around her including her sour-hearted Aunt Polly. One passage I greatly enjoyed, reading in the novel written by Eleanor H. Porter, occurred shortly after her arrival. Miss Polly had just given Pollyanna her daily schedule consisting of cleaning her room first thing in the morning after which she should read 30 minutes aloud to Miss Polly followed by cooking lessons. In the late afternoon Pollyanna was expected to practice the piano. Pollyanna asked “what about living?” When was she supposed to live when her time was taken up with all these extra activities? She lamented that she did not want to just breathe she wanted to live. And so she did. Her Aunt Polly was surprised at the numerous acquaintances Pollyanna had made and the impact Pollyanna made in their lives. The Aunt Polly was so moved by the town’s love for Pollyanna that her own heart softened so much so that she became susceptible to love and forgiveness. The glad game is not that simple. You must find something to be glad about on all occasions. Learning to look on the brighter side of life enabled Pollyanna to step out without fear of condemnation. People loved her because she was so much fun to be with. She could be friends with even the grouchiest of souls because life held no bounds.

This month’s resolution is to have fun. I made this list in the beginning of the year. When July neared I was unsure of what exactly Fun meant. The word Fun is defined as something that provides enjoyment or amusement. I think fun means being able to lighten up despite our circumstances. Miss Polly caved into and was trapped by embarrassment for 11 to 15 years. Her fears lead her down a lonesome unemotional path. Pollyanna gently guided her away from tight buns, dark clothing and pursed lips and back into a world full of color, friendships and joy. Fun for some may include dancing on the bar top but I am not talking about temporary self-satisfaction. Remember the New Year’s resolution’s purpose is to enlighten us and make us better friends, neighbors and relatives. Some activities are better left in the ignorance of youth. The fun I speak of entails allowing ourselves the freedom to stop and enjoy life. Put the electronics away. Forgive whom you need to. Find the glad in your most heart-breaking sorrows as difficult as it may be. To have fun is to help others find the glad so that they too can have fun. To have fun is to vow even though we wake up disgruntled we can make the choice to fake being glad if we have to. To have fun is to discover why everyone calls you the “party-pooper” or “no fun” and change it.

Nuns Having Fun by Maureen Kelly and Jeffrey Stone

Photo: Nuns Having Fun

I try to teach my children it is ok to feel hurt, angry, sad, disappointed they are all legitimate feelings. But, we make the choice to let those feelings dictate our behavior and attitude or to let it go. It is not easy trying to tell that to a five year old who demands justice even to the point of missing out on the fun that is happening at that moment. I know there is more injustice going on in the world than we can fathom. There are people out there who are suffering or have suffered tremendous acts of violence, abuse and emotional warfare. Yet, day after day they keep moving forward. The writer Erma Bombeck wrote a column, upon discovering that she was dying from cancer, entitled “If I Had to Live My Life Over.” Erma wrote, “… I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. I would have talked less and listened more. I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded. I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace. … I would have sat on the lawn with my kids, even if it meant grass stains.” During the month of July I hope to use up the bottle of perfume sitting in the vanity drawer. I want to view my new home as a vacation rental. I want to find more of the glad, relax and have fun.

This is a short but fairly long list on how to have fun. The possibilities are practically endless. My hope is maybe something on the list will spawn additional fun ideas. Please feel free to share your FUN in the comments section.

Each day write down 3-5 positive things that happened that day.

Learn to have fun playing the glad game.

– Watch the clouds

– Watch a sun rise

– Take a midnight swim

– Observe bugs

– Pick flowers

– Camping

– Build a fort

– Take a treat or a balloon to friends and family.

– Read a book and come up with a project or something fun to do based on the material.

– Call the girls or take your daughter(s) to go get pedicures.

– Go on a leisurely bike ride with friends.

– Host a mystery dinner.

– Have an unbirthday party.

– Pay for the person behind you at the movies or toll booth.

– Act out a book complete with make shift costumes.

– Host a Karaokee night.

– Have a Nerf gun Showdown.

– See how many Balloons it takes to lift off the ground. Then watch the movie “Deckchair Danny”.

– Put on a Shadow Theater show.

– Simply your life and home. Throw out the excess. Ask yourself do I really need this? Why do I have it? Is it in the way? Allow your home to feel like the vacation resort you always wanted to visit.

– Learn something new.

– Go to a concert

– Go on a ‘first’ date with your significant other.

– Take a “I feel good day” off of work, if you can.

– Check the Entertainment section of the newspaper or a local website to see what is happening in your town.

– Celebrate a holiday or an achievement.

– Stay up until 4 AM devouring a good book or chatting with an old friend.

– Plan a picnic

– Play a game of volleyball or basketball with friends and/or family

– Go to the lake

– Rent a houseboat.

– Host a game night.

– Play Frisbee.

– Go to a public sporting event.

– Play a sport.

– Date night at the arcade.

– Have a scavenger hunt.

– Make a home movie.

– Build a rocket or model car.

– Find a new hobby.

– Learn about Geo Caching

– Let the kids jump in the rain puddles

– Most important loosen up and lighten up. Don’t be negative. Be willing to come out of the comfort shell once in a while. Laugh a little more. Smile a lot more. Look for the joy or “Glad” in everything around you.

Potatoes and Asparagus Omelet

On Saturday or Sunday morning I like to make omelets as a way to use up left over vegetables. Ideally to make this recipe for potatoes and asparagus omelets use precooked cubed potatoes and steamed asparagus to cut down on cooking time. If leftovers are […]

July Website Review: Paperback Swap

Paperback Swap has been hanging out in my incredibly long list of websites for a while now  but I had not ventured to try it out until a few months ago. We were going through the piles of books while packing the house to move. […]

Ratatouille: A Simple Peasant’s Dish

ratatouille

Ratatouille is a traditional French Provencal vegetable dish starring tomatoes and roasted vegetables. There are plenty of theories out there on the proper way to prepare Ratatouille. Some simply roast the vegetables for a light clean presentation. Others including Julia Childs chose to layer the vegetables in a thick tomato based sauce as seen in the Pixar movie “Ratatouille”. While Julia’s version may be breathtaking it is stretch for novice cooks to achieve the uniform look of the dish. For time and patience sake we believe in the chop it, toss it together and bake approach.

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced very thin
3 tomatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small aubergine (eggplant), halved, quartered then chopped
1 courgettes (zucchini), halved then chopped
1 yellow squash, halved then chopped
2 bell peppers (preferably red and yellow), chopped
Few sprigs fresh thyme leaves or a generous dash of Herbs de Provence
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Put the onions, garlic and tomatoes into a baking dish. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss in the eggplant, zucchini, squash and peppers over the tomatoes. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprigs by running your fingertips down the stem. Sprinkle over the vegetables. Cover with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside the dish.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes, or until vegetables are tender but not mushy. Serve with a dab of soft goat cheese and a serving of polenta, couscous or white beans. Serves 4-5

Variations:
-Toss vegetables with 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and 1/2 cup Kalamata olives.
-Layer the vegetables on pastry dough for a yummy Ratatouille tart.
-Drop rounds of biscuit dough with chopped bits of sausage mixed in.
-For a Southern flare toss in a 1/2 cup of okra.
-Stuff the vegetables into halved green peppers. Top with a small slice of Monterey Jack cheese, a dollop of tomato sauce and a sprinkle of panko crumbs and Parmesan cheese.