Thursday, May 28, 2009


See the baby in the picture smearing something all over herself?  It must be pesto sauce!  If I wasn't going to eat it - that really is the next best option.  It's that good.  I do a million things with Pesto sauce such as mix it in pasta salads, smear it on sliced tomatoes, top sandwiches and burgers with it, slap it on chicken and or fish.  I don't really wear it, though, sorry if I mislead you.  Wearing it would be wasteful, people.
Recipe at end of article...

I know I have told you about pesto sauce before.  So what?  I didn't tell you that basil is easy to grow.  Each variety of basil needs 3 hours of direct sunlight daily and a warm spot, moist but not soggy soil.  When the plant is large enough to harvest, snip leaves with scissors or pinch them off making sure to leave at least 3 leaves on the plant.  You can eat the flowers, too!
    Substitute the basil with another green thing, or basil flakes when it's not available fresh and many times I don't have the pine nuts neither.  Go with broccoli or spinach and instead of pine nuts I've used sunflower seeds, walnuts roughly chopped and even toasted, chopped almonds.  It helps to have a blender or food processor.  You know... basil is a good source of folic acid, vitamin c and the minerals potassium, calcium and iron but only if eaten by the cup full.   This will likely provide about 1 % of the RDA of vitamin A.  Basil is full of flavor and can easily stand with out salt or oil in recipes.  It is also said to have a positive psychological effect.  The suggestion is that basil is a counter to depression and stress and you can just steep 2 or 3 leaves in 8 oz of hot water for 3 minutes, strain and drink.  Or rub it all over you like that baby did.  

  • 2 C. fresh basil leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 C. Italian parsley leaves
  • 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 T. chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  1. In your food processor or blender, whirl basil, garlic and parsley.  Add olive oil, broth, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  Process until fairly smooth.
  2. Use pesto at once, refrigerate for up to 2 days, or pack into clean containers and cover tightly with lids and freeze to use as needed.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sticky Situation

So, I'm sitting here thinking, wondering really:  how am I going to leave some things on community bulletin boards around town.  I want to advertise my Pen10 writer's website.  I wish I could just print out some sticky notes.  Hmm, I have a printer.  I have some sticky notes.  How hard can it be?  I came up with a couple of solutions and I didn't have to use duct tape which is kindof disappointing but I digress.  I could just use this template that I found online and follow the directions.  The template allowed you to stick 6 notes on a paper and load into your printer without buying any specialty product.  Or, I could download this thing from  Either way I look at it, I realize that I am un-original but generous as I share this with you.  Tell me if you try this.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Whine and Cheese

It's been a long week, a long day and gosh, even the 5 minute ride home was kinda long.  I'm tired and I don't feel like cooking and I don't feel like pizza, which is exactly what my significant other will prepare for dinner if he knows I don't feel like cooking.  He means well.  I mean to not have delivered pizza.  So I picked my brain for quicky dinner with Whine.  The whine will be suppressed and the cheese will pop!  To make this, try to say to yourself: at least I have a good idea of something easy and excellent for dinner.  This will smell amazing if you're a fan of garlic and you could add fanned out tomato slices sprinkled with sunflower seeds on the side for extra vegetable and color if you are wanting this to present this beautifully as I am want to do even though I'm whining.

Shrimp and Spinach Pesto with Whine and Cheese

  • Optional glass of favorite wine, I'll have a Cab.
  • 15 oz bag frozen pre-cooked shrimp, tails off
  •  10 oz pkg frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry in paper towel
  • 1/2 pkg Barilla spaghetti (6oz)
  • 1/4 C. roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 C. Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 C. olive oil
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 C. chicken broth or pasta water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional pepper flakes to taste
  1. Sip wine. Cook pasta in salted water 8-10 minutes or according to package.  Place shrimp in bottom of colander.  Sip wine.  Drain pasta in colander over frozen shrimp.  Leave it there to warm shrimp. Sip wine.
  2. Place drained spinach in large bowl and pull apart.  Have some wine.  Add Parmesan cheese, garlic, nuts, oil, broth or pasta water, salt and pepper and combine with tongs.  If you wanted to be awesome, you would put this in the food processor, adding the oil last to emulsify.  Drink wine.
  3. Add pasta and shrimp and gently mix until evenly incorporated.  Sip wine and serve.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pomp for your Circumstance

While recently attending a graduation and watching a small girl attempt to save seats for friends and family, I thought there should be a simple thing a person can do in these instances.  Our event took place indoors and I thought that simple signs saying “These seats are reserved” would likely suffice if one was printed for each guest.  This is done elsewhere, why not do it yourself?  It occurred to me that some graduations, etc would likely take place outdoors this season and the question arose in my mind what to do about this on a windy day....Hmm, perhaps bullnose clips, double sided tape, small pebbles.  Or, great little idea, you could use tablecloth weights to both hold this printed paper to a simple placemat and weight down your sign.  The place mat could be a nice barrier between your bahooky and that dusty cement or what have you.  Problem solved!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ogres are like onions

Conversation between Shrek and Donkey

Ogres are like onions.  
They stink? 
Yes. no. 
Oh, they make you cry.
Oh, you leave them out in the sun, they get all brown, 
start sproutin little white hairs.
NO. Layers. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. You get it? We both have layers.
Oh, you both have layers. Oh. You know, not everybody like onions.

I do!  There are ready green onions, or scallions if you will, in my garden.  Aside from being a beautiful color on my garden these guys are great in the kitchen.  They are sweet because of the low sulfur and high water content and these guys don't store well, so you have to enjoy them in early spring and summer.  They go great with potato and pasta salads and bias scissor cut into soups, of course.  Green parts and all, providing they don't have flowers on their stalks.  Once they flower, they are woody and only useful in a glass vase in the kitchen.    Sweet onions rarely fly solo so when I tried to think of something they did alone, I got nothin.

A good recipe with onions this time of the year when it's warm is a nice marinated cucumber, tomato and sweet onion salad.  This one serves 4.

Cucumber, tomato sweet onion salad
  • 2 tomatoes, great for one red and one yellow
  • 1 C. garden onion or scallion or red onion or vidalia onion
  • 3 medium cucumbers, washed* and sliced thin
  • 1/4 C. Olive oil
  • 4 leaves basil (optional)
  • 1/8 C. granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch pepper
  • 1/2 C. White wine vinegar
Combine last four ingredients.  Add cucumbers and toss to coat.  Marinate 1-2 hours.  Medium dice red and yellow tomatoes if using and place in bowl.  Add small amount of vinegar marinade to tomatoes, add olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped basil.  

To serve:   Place marinated tomatoes into circular shape in center of serving platter.  Fan cucumbers slices in circular shape around tomatoes.  Drizzle with vinegar mixture.  

* scrape down cucumber with a fork, removing trail of green skin for fancy schmancy effect

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fire Starters

I was told to cut back on the coffee and I'm determined not to let that get to me.  It's going a lot easier than I thought and I discovered that I am not a slave to coffee; I just like it.  Now there are all these tea bags in my life.  I look at everything and think "how can I recycle this" so these little bags of tea leaves were not spared.  I put some on my roses but that wasn't all that satisfying and of course I could compost them - when I get around to getting that compost bin.  Then I had that moment when it hit me:  I love to start fires in the backyard hearth/ fire pit.  These tea bags have "fire starter" written all over them!  This fun little recycle project will result some conversation worthy fire starter that lights moist or dry wood.  They would be great on a camping trip or in a chiminea.

Here's how it's going down and don't be a chump, read all the directions before commiting this act:

  1. Save tea bags, allowing them to dry out
  2. Using a double cooker method, a little pot with water at the bottom, bring 2" of water to a boil.
  3. Use a tin can, put unmelted wax in it (obtain from hobby store or general store canning section)
  4. When wax is fully melted, lower a tea bag into it briefly.  Use tongs if you have no string
  5. Raise tea bag and let some excess wax drip before cooling waxed tea bag on a piece of waxpaper or foil or parchment paper, whichever
  6. When cool, store for later use
You will get about 5 minutes and a 3 inch flame from these water proof fire starters. Remember to burn responsibly.

(It's been brought to my attention that someone feels I've "taken their idea".  I understand the confusion but please be assured that you and I are not the only persons on the planet who thinks to recycle tea bags in this manner.  Namaste.)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

All Shook Up Pancakes

I saw a commercial for a pancake mix made by a national brand that you shake and pour.  I thought that was such a great idea since my little boy likes to cook and makes the most enormous mess in the kitchen.  He uses a whisk and a bowl and drips ingredients on the counter as he ladles from bowl to skillet.  This is a great solution but I think we can call this one a do it yourself recipe.  My batter in a bottle is for Light and fluffy pancakes that copy-cat the Betty Crocker Shake to Make using fresh ingredients.  I like these containers from OverstockedKitchen because they offer a no drip pour which is nice when little people cook.

Elvis Pancake (All Shook Up) Mix


1 cups All-purpose flour

1 teaspoons Baking powder

1 pinch salt

1 dash cinnamon

Combine all of the ingredients in a lidded container. Shake to mix.

Use the mix within 3 months.


1 Egg

1 cup Skim Milk

1 Tablespoon Melted Smart Balance

1 batch Elvis Pancake Mix, recipe above

Cooking spray 

1/4 cups Fresh fruit such as blueberries, if desired

  1. Spray skillet with cooking spray then wipe with paper towel.
  2. pre-heat skillet over med heat.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry, close and shake container.
  4. Sprinkle pan with water to test for readiness, water should dance when ready.
  5. Pour desired pancake sized amount of batter into skillet.
  6. Batter will bubble and when edges become dry (about 2 minutes), carefully flip pancake.
  7. Let cook on other side about a minute.
  8. Remove from pan and repeat.

Friday, May 15, 2009

What's for Dinner?

My dear friend usually asks "What are you fixing for dinner".  Tonight, since he can't come over I will tell what's for dinner and maybe he can make it at his house.  You can, too.  Lots of freshly cracked black pepper is good in this dish.  Don't be a chump, read the directions completely before making this meal.

Angel Hair 
with Asparagus (or green beans)
Tomatoes and
Fresh Basil (optional) and lot's of black pepper

1 pound fresh asparagus (or same wt. in canned french cut green beans)
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp pepper, or more to taste
1 T. Olive Oil
6 med. plum (Roma) tomatoes, seeded and chopped, comes to approx. 21/4 C.
1/4 cup dry white wine* or pasta water, *more for drinking while you cook
1/4 tsp. salt
1 T. butter
1 9-oz package refrigerated angel hair pasta
1/4 C. shredded fresh basil
1  15oz pkg mozzarella cheese (brick), sliced into cubes

Time: start to finish - 20 minutes

1. Snap off and discard woody stem part of asparagus.  Remove the tips and set aside.  Bias-slice the remaining portions into 1- to 1 1/2 inch pieces; set aside.
2.  In a large skillet, cook and stir garlic and pepper in hot oil over medium heat for 1 minute  before adding the tomatoes; cook 2 minutes more, stirring often. Add the asparagus pieces or green beans, wine(or water) and salt (only if using asparagus) to the skillet.  Cook, uncovered 3 minutes,  add the asparagus tips, cook, uncovered 1 minute more.
3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package instructions.  Drain pasta; return to pan.  Add mozzarella and asparagus mixture and basil, if using, tossing to coat.
Drink wine.  Serves 3.

Painting Rocks

While dropping the kids off for school this morning, something in my neighbors yard caught my eye and I glanced and did a double look.  

In their rocky terraced barrier, there appeared to be some splashes of color that complimented the house in such a way that I immediately thought they painted their rocks!  

I am operating on not much coffee, mind you, so when the old brain housing group kicked in, it occurred to me that the pops of color were actually flowers!  

They were so bright and cheerful that I vowed if ever we fell victim to this economy and I can’t afford flowers or the water that supports them - I am going to paint my rocks!  

Thursday, May 14, 2009


These beauties are famed as the aristocrats of climbers for their vivid hues and scattered bloom times that permit the gardener and those who enjoy the blooms, to have the eye candy of massive amounts of varied flowers throughout the growing season.  An equally enjoyable feature with the Clematis is that they frequently change color throughout their life cycle so there is much pleasure for the anxious gardener who wants constant reward. 

All that is rumor and things I've read.  So far, those clematis in my yard have managed to elude me.  At the beginnig of the growing season last year, someone yanked my little clematis specimen from the ground thinking it was a weed.  My remaining clematis, and I bought the largest one I could find, made 3 flowers.  Ok, it's still a little young.   I see the clematis in the yard up the street and I brought her lucky owner some lemonade and invited her to spill her secrets!  I followed what she said - let's see if my clematis does, too.

What I think I know about clematis is that they like to be planted up to elbow, they like their feet covered, they like to sunbathe.  Am I missing anything that you can think of?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I've been having trials and tribulations -  in my garden.  For the past several years something has prevented my favorite flowering bush from flowering.  It's been the weather, the plant relocation program I seem to participate in, or the fertilizing in the spring when I thought that was such a good idea.  This year, after having read everything I could find on these beauties and behaving well and having cooperation from the weather, my 5 peony shrubs have many promising flower buds!  I'm excited and cautious that some new wrong will occur.  I'm concerned that the little girl across the street will pick them like she's done once before. Or that some big dog will come over and trample them.  I would like an invisible fence to keep the  uninvited on the other side of.  Maybe I'm being too cautious.