Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Easy Gumbo Casserole Recipe

Ingredients: 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 cup finely chopped onions 1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper 1 cup finely chopped celery ¼ pound turkey Andouille or other smoked sausage (the precooked kind), cut into ¼ inch rounds 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth 1 cup fresh or frozen okra, thawed if frozen ½ cup clam juice 1 bay leaf 1/3 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined. 1 cup brown rice Preheat oven to 350. Heat olive oil on stove top in medium-sized Dutch Oven over medium heat. Add onions, red pepper, celery until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add sausage, broth, okra, clam juice, Cajun seasoning, bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Add brown rice, cover, and bake for 45 minutes. Add shrimp, cover, bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Birthday Cake

My friend Diana baked this cake for my birthday.  Isn't it great???

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Late to the Party Again

I finally got around to watching the 2009 Michael Jackson movie, This Is It. It was pretty great. It made me think about how he really was a musical genius, and how crazy it was that at 50, he was still just as skinny as ever and could still totally do dance moves that shouldn't even be humanly possible.

He also comes across as really nice, gentle, and humble--which is funny considering that this is the same person who spontaneously accepted the fictional "Best Performer In the Universe" award and made videos featuring giant statues of himself. I guess we'll never quite figure him out.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Recommended viewing: Mad Monster Party.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

English Sausage Dinner

Guy got inspired to make sausage rolls after a big platter of them appeared at the pub in the plotline of one of his TV shows from the seventies about life in the English countryside.

They turned out great! We used frozen puff pastry from the supermarket so it was easy to prepare. To go with it, I made brussels sprouts in garlic butter (I was trying to think of something English) and Dee's Corn & Tomato Salad from The Joy of Cooking.

For dessert, we had Spotted Dick boiled in a can! It's a moist steamed cake, sort of like a coffee cake.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"'Hey, you're from Yonkers? Do you know Stu Burns?"

"It does if you leave it on the stove long enough."

That's a joke from the "What's a Henway?" era of my childhood.

Anyway, last night I made the best stew ever and I wanted to share it. It's modified from a recipe I found online. I added more bay leaves, switched out some of the potatoes for sweet potatoes, added a shallot and peas, and roasted the vegetables instead of frying them. And I replaced the butter with olive oil. The basic ingredients are:

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 and 1/4 pounds stew beef (cut in small pieces)
6 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
8 bay leaves
2 large sweet potatoes
1 regular potato
Olive oil (for brushing the vegetables)
1 large onion
1 shallot
2 cups peeled and chopped carrots
1 cup frozen peas

The first thing I did was heat the oven to 450 and peel and slice all the vegetables--except the garlic and peas. (I took the peas out of the freezer to let them thaw.) I loaded up 2 tin baking trays with the vegetables and (very) lightly coated them with olive oil.

I tried out my food processor's slicing feature for the first time. It worked really well but sliced very thin, so I only did about half the carrots, a sweet potato and part of the onion this way. The rest I sliced more thickly.

On the first tray, I put 6 bay leaves and a light sprinkling of kosher salt on top. The other one I left plain (except for the olive oil). After a while, the bay leaves started smoking, so I took them off eventually...but they made the kitchen smell really good.

While those roasted, Guy cooked the stew beef. He heated the vegetable oil in a cast iron pan on medium-high heat before adding the meat, then cooked until brown, about 5 minutes.

I then transferred the meat to our large Le Crueset pot and pushed it to the sides so that I could saute the garlic in the middle of the pot for about one minute. I added the beef stock, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and 2 bay leaves, and stirred. The original recipe said "bring to a boil" but I've noticed that it takes a really long time for anything to boil in the Le Crueset so I just waited until it seemed hot and then reduced the heat to medium-low, covered it and simmered for an hour, stirring occasionally.

At some point, I turned off the oven and let the vegetables sit in the oven until it was time to add them to the stew. After the beef had cooked for an hour, I added the roasted vegetables and peas and simmered the stew uncovered for 40 minutes until it thickened.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Avocado Plant

Have you ever grown a plant from the pit of an avocado? I've been getting interested in plants lately so I decided to try it. It's a slow process. I got my instructions from

"How do I do it?"

Open the avocado and remove the pit from the center. You can eat the fruit of the avocado, it's yummy and is full of nutrients!*

Wash the avocado pit under cool running water, you don't need soap to clean it. With your fingers gently wipe away and remove any of the green fruit that might be on the pit. Rinse it well and then blot it dry with a paper towel.

Carefully push three toothpicks into the thickest width of avocado, you want to push the toothpicks into the pit about a 1/2" deep. (It's okay if you push them in deeper or even a little less) The toothpicks will help suspend the avocado pit in water and keep the top part of the pit in fresh air and the fat base of the pit under the surface of the water. Be careful pushing in the toothpicks, they have pointy edges and could hurt if they poke your hands, it's all right to ask a grown-up to help with this.

Suspend the pit over a glass filled with water....the toothpicks will rest on the rim of the glass and hold the pit in place so it doesn't sink to the bottom. Always check the water level in the glass and see that the water is covering the fat base of the pit by about an inch depth. If the water is below that level you'll need to add some more. Slowly and carefully pour in more water from a small cup to avoid splashing.

Place the glass in a bright windowsill. In about three to six weeks the top of the avocado pit will begin to split and a stem sprout will emerge from the top and roots will begin to grow at the base.

When the stem grows to about five or six inches pinch out the top set of leaves. In another two or three weeks new leaves will sprout and their will be more roots.

It's now time to plant the young avocado tree. Place enriched potting soil in a large flowerpot (maybe 8" to 10" across). Fill the soil to about an inch from the top of the pot. Make a small depression in the center of the soil and place the pit, root-side down into the depression. Don't put it too want to have the upper half of the pit above the soil line. Add some more soil around the pit to fill in any air holes by the roots and then firm it into the soil by gently pushing the soil around the base of the pit. The tree's stem and leaves should be straight and pointing up (like a flagpole).

Give the soil a drink to water the pit. Water it generously so that the soil is thoroughly moist. Water the soil slowly and gently so that when it's poured in it doesn't gouge out holes in the soil. Keep your tree watered but don't let the soil be so moist that it ever looks like mud.

How do I care for my avocado tree?"

Keep your tree in a sunny window, the more sun it gets the bigger it will grow.

Remember to give it frequent light waterings but don't let the soil get muddy. If the leaves turn yellow it means that the plant is getting too much watering, let the tree's soil dry out for a couple of days, then return to light waterings.

When the stem grows six more inches pinch out the top two sets of leaves. This will encourage the plant to grow side shoots and more leaves, making it bushy. Each time the plant grows another six inches pinch out the two newest sets of leaves on top.

"Can my avocado tree ever go outside?"

Yes it can go outside in the summer. If your winters are cold ~ below 45 degrees (F) or 7 degrees (C) ~ you must bring your tree inside for the winter. Otherwise, if your winters are cool and mild, the tree may stay outdoors year round.

"Will my tree ever grow fruit?"

Sometimes they will begin setting fruit after they are three or four years old. It helps to have several avocado trees growing together to aid with pollination.