Friday, July 29, 2011

Pleasant Surprise Recipe

Every now and then, I cook something that tastes far better than it sounds (or even smells!) like it will.

Tuesday's dinner was one of these.

1/2 large red onion, diced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 fairly large zucchini, cut into bite-sized slivers or matchsticks (should be fairly thin on at least one dimension)
2 small Japanese eggplants, cut into bite-sized slivers (as above)
about 15 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and cut into quarters (if small) or equivalent (if large)
Enough olive oil for cooking (3 Tablespoons?)
1 tablespoon butter
chopped fresh basil, marjoram, and oregano (I used one stem each of oregano and marjoram, and about 10 large basil leaves)
pine nuts
feta cheese

I cooked the vegetables in batches so that they'd each get cooked thoroughly, and also so that the juice from the mushroom and tomatoes didn't change the cooking method from "stir-fry" into "braise."

While doing all of this, also cook a pound of rotini.

1) In wok or large frying pan, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions when oil is hot. Stirring frequently, book until softened. Add garlic and cook another minute. Remove from pan. Do not clean pan.
2) Add a little more oil and heat up again. This time, cook the zucchini until just turning brown. Stir frequently or the zucchini might stick. Remove zukes from pan (add them to the bowl with the onions), do not clean pan.
3) Add a little more oil and heat up again. This time, cook the eggplant until browned on both sides. Do not stir frequently or the eggplant will never properly brown. Only move them around to flip over each piece. Place eggplants into colander and sprinkle with salt. Allow eggplant to drain at least 20 minutes. Do not clean pan.
4) Add a little more oil and a tablespoon of butter. Cook mushrooms, stirring frequently, until just browning and soft. Add tomatoes and cook for one more minute, then dump in all other cooked vegetables and add the herbs. Stir together and allow to heat through. Serve over hot pasta with a handful of pine nuts and a sprinkle of feta cheese.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ten on Tuesdays (late): 10 favorite bumper stickers

Whew! Yesterday was so busy that I completely forgot about Ten on Tuesday until this morning! Now, I have to clarify that I don't have any bumper stickers on my car, just a bunch of parking permits for the various parks near us.

1) Gandalf for President - a classic, but one I still love
2) Republicans for Voldemort - was very popular in 2008, I believe
3) If You Think Education is Expensive, You Should Try Ignorance - don't know where I first saw this one, but I've seen it enough times to remember it.
4) COEXIST - where the letters are made of different symbols with religious significance... I don't know how to describe it if you haven't seen it for yourself
5) I'd Really Rather Be Biking - can't remember where I saw it, but I love the sentiment
6) If You Can Read This, You're Driving Too Close - another classic
7) My Kid Can Beat Up Your Honors Student - because that's probably true...
8) I Support The Right To Arm Bears - because I love Sandra Boynton's artwork
9) Do Not Meddle in the Affairs of Dragons, For You are Crunchy and Taste Good with Ketchup - another classic
10) and I had to look this one up to remember exactly how it went... I'm Not An Alcoholic, I'm a Drunk: Alcoholics Go to Meetings

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 favorite beach songs!

Most of these are clearly referring to a beach somewhere, but a couple of them are just my own personal "beach music"!

1) Boys of Summer by Don Henley
2) Summer of '69 by Bryan Adams
3) Kokomo by the Beach Boys
4) Pink Cadillac by Natalie Cole
5) Hot n Cold by Katy Perry
6) Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding
7) Venus by Bananarama
8) Under the Sea (from The Little Mermaid)
9) California Dreamin' by The Cranberrys (or The Mamas and the Papas... I love both versions!)
10) La Isla Bonita by Madonna

Saturday, July 16, 2011

FO: green knee-socks!

My mother and I co-knit these: I did the heels, toes, calf increases, and bind-off, while she knit all the parts that were just ribbing or stockinette.

Yarn: Marathon Sock by Wisdom Yarns, North Pole Series, "Elf"
Needles: size 2 wooden, used two 16" circular needles
Pattern: nothing specific, just a basic 2x2 rib on a generic sock pattern for an 8-year-old. The toe has a Figure-8 cast-on and the heel is a gusset heel in Eye of Partridge stitch. The bind-off is Jeny's Surprisingly Stretch BindOff.
The pair of socks took just under a full skein of yarn. (The kid has small feet!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 awesome things about Harry Potter

I probably won't get to see the last movie until the middle of next week, but I'm already on pins-and-needles about how good it's going to be! in 3-D! (Our baby-sitter is probably really sick of listening to me on the topic.)

1) It made a generation of children into readers. (I don't actually think that's much of an exaggeration... as a high school teacher, I often talk with students who tell me that Harry Potter was their first book over 200 pages or their first seriously multi-book series.)

2) It gave steady work to a generation of excellent British actors and actresses. (I'm still stunned that many people think of Alan Rickman as "Snape" rather than "that amazingly hot older dude in Sense and Sensibility", and my younger students know Helena Bonham Carter as "Bellatrix Lestrange" rather than for her many roles in excellent costume dramas.)

3) The stars of the movies aren't idiots. (Granted, I'm going by what the popular press tells me, but it seems to me that Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and Daniel Radcliffe haven't gone off the deep end of fame.)

4) Molly Weasley, Hermione Granger, Ginny Weasley, Nympadora Tonks, and Professor McGonnagal are all, in their different ways, important role models for girls. (My personal fave is Molly, who raises seven kids on very little money and is generally portrayed as a harried, stay-at-home mom, but jumps into battle at the first chance and can more than hold her own against the Death Eaters.)

5) Hermione Granger's very liberal views about inclusion in society. (Most notably the House Elves, but also applied to Giants, Centaurs, and Mer-folk.)

6) Harry Potter, despite having a really lousy childhood, manages to grow up to be a good person. (Good friends and teachers certainly help him find his path, but I admire his firm determination to be on the side of Good.)

7) Harry and Ron, despite being surrounded by young lovelies who fawn over them, manage to fall in love with the two smartest, kick-ass, take-no-nonsense girls at Hogwarts. (It doesn't hurt that Ginny and Hermione grow up to be pretty, but it's barely remarked upon by the guys.)

8) Hogwarts is just really, really cool

9) So is Diagon Alley.

10) Did I mention that Molly Weasley also knits?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 favorite herbs

I haven't had much luck growing any herbs except mint and basil, but I'm trying a lot more of them this year (oregano, rosemary, and sage) and we'll see whether I get better at it...

My favorite herbs for eating are
1) Basil - grows well, tastes delicious. This year I'm growing lettuce basil, purple basil, and Thai basil in addition to my usual globe basil.
2) Mint - grows like the weed it is, tastes delicious. This year I'm growing chocolate mint and lemon mint in addition to regular mint.
3) Cilantro - I cannot grow this at all, but I love it on my food. I'm so glad that my local grocer stocks it year-round.
4) Dill - no luck growing this either, but I love it so very much... particularly on salmon... yum....
5) Tarragon - since going flexitarian I haven't had much chance to eat this, but I used to love it in chicken salad. I should try it in a roasted tofu salad sandwich this summer.
6) Oregano - tomato sauce just isn't the same without it.
7) Chives - are these an herb? Or just a member of the onion family?
8) Bay leaf- I've never even thought about growing this. Does it grow in New England? I love using this in soups and stews...
9) Thai holy basil - I think of this as a different thing than regular basil. It's the crowning touch in any Thai or Vietnamese cooking I plan to do.
10) Lavender - I've never grown it, or even cooked with it, but I have a couple recipes that call for it and I love the smell in sachets and herb mixes.

What did I miss?