Tuesday, September 18, 2012

More meat, less loaf

The food perfectionists at Cook’s Illustrated are onto something with this recipe. A mushroom mixture adds moisture and flavor to classic meatloaf, and traditional ketchup glaze gets a zesty twist.

Of course, when I tested it previously the process was more arduous. And I told them so. I had to pulverize dried mushrooms into what the family lovingly calls porcini dust — the stuff was messy, but magic. I also had to process a portion of the pork with the eggs. Having only stuck meat in a food processor once before, I was hesitant, but when done properly, it does work. (Click here for the slammin' salami sauce video. Great over pasta.)

The result was a deliciously flavored main dish, our resident meatloaf aficionados agree. But, I’m glad the Test Kitchen folks made some changes to help save steps, and time. Gone are the porcini dust and meat processor steps, in are sautéed mushrooms and onions.

Here is the CI version in video formYou can also check out the current Cook's Illustrated issue for the more-meat-less-loaf recipe and plenty of other great tips. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Stop the madness, it’s not October yet!

There’s just something about a too-early Halloween that bugs me. Normally, I’m a happenin’ holiday kind of girl, but lately it seems as though we’re rushing from one to the next, which leaves little time for enjoyment. 

I get that you need to be ahead of the curve when it comes to seasonal shifts in merchandise. But, can I please finish my poolside lounging and adjust to the back-to-school routine before you drag out ghosts and goblins?

It’s no wonder I’m hesitant to take my kid to Target. They’ve already got aisles of spooky decorations and Halloween candy. Someone in a high place maybe forgot how hard it is for parents to handle eager children begging for sweet treats and costumes — hey, it’s hard for parents too. Some of those lit-up pumpkins are adorable. But, I cringed before school even started when I saw BTS on its way out and Spook-fest on its way in. Yikes!

As a way of protesting, sort of, I’m recommending we hold off on buying candy and costumes for at least one more week. I’d say until the end of the month, but I’m not crazy. I know the selection for costumes will probably be so poor, you’ll be digging through your basement for leftover boxes to make a robot outfit, which is not an entirely bad idea. Last year we saw a kid dressed in cardboard, he was a cereal box, and a darn cute one at that. They used a lot of paint, but he really looked like a box of Fruity-O Flakes or something. (I have to be careful what cereal I reference because my sis in law is now a big exec for the Kellogg Co. I'm not a paid endorser, just a fan :)

With all my soap-box protestation, I admittedly will bring out the end of year holiday decorations as soon as possible after Thanksgiving. You can read about it here, but I think it’s perfectly allowable since it can take weeks of work to get family heirlooms in place when you have kids running around the same indoor space you’re trying to decorate. That being said, I’m saying let six weeks or so be the guide. If you can wait to sell me spookiness until a month and a half out, I’ll buy. Heck, I’ll probably buy sooner, but I’ll be less irritated by it around then.

So, here’s to squeezing out the last drops of summer as it transitions to a bountiful fall. Go outside. Take a walk, bike, hike or drive. Get thee to a festival and enjoy doing something together. Just don’t scare me with your ghoulish garb before next week or I just might bring out the lit-up deer and snowman early and see how you like it, mwahahahah.

Make plans to hit a festival or family event in your area.  Check out these sites and find out more of what’s happening in your area. 

Remember, every day is special - enjoy it!

SYOAS - See you online again soon!

Aww, not yet.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Autumn’s first blush

A couple of weeks ago there was a shift in the weather—it felt like fall. This past weekend was similar with damp, cool mornings and clear, warm afternoons. The season is changing and there are signs everywhere.

I overheard a conversation between parents and teachers who were excited about the season change, but lamenting the fact dressing kids during these transitional days is a chore. I sent my kid to school in a dress with leggings and a light jacket. By lunch she’ll probably need shorts and a t-shirt. The beauty of where we are is we get to experience a real weather transition. While we may have to pack clothes for three seasons, I think it’s worth it.

I observed and photographed more signs of autumn’s approach and thought I’d share.

On the way to class the other day I noticed numbers of birds perched atop wires as if evaluating their next flight path—contemplating a warm trip South no doubt as it was cold. The sun fought to shine through layers of high, stationary clouds and low, fast-moving clouds. It was quite a scene. Should’ve taken video.

Then after watching the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix Sunday we hopped in a prototype Fiat and took a drive. I can’t say anything about the car other than, wow! I can, however, tell you about other things. Feathery grasses bending and twisting under the weight of autumn’s heavy breath. Cerulean skies, white clouds and pine landscapes dotted with yellow and orange bits as the trees start their transition.

Just take a moment or two to observe the changes going on and you might find a few things to appreciate about this amazing time. Enjoy!

First blush

Birds on a wire and autumn sky

Sunday drive

Saturday, September 1, 2012

How to make a power outage fun

We lost power twice this morning. The first was one of those quick flashes. It catches you off-guard, you start shaking your head (tisk, tisk) and planning for the worst when suddenly it’s back on and you think It could have been so much worse.

Then some time later a second one hit, only this time it took. The second outage lasted longer than a flash so we were left wondering What happened to the power, it’s a clear day? Did someone strike a pole, how awful, or is there a larger system problem? How long will it be out? What on earth will we do and will there be spoiled food to trash when it’s all said and done?

Fret not dear readers, for even in power outages, especially those on pleasant summer mornings, there is plenty to accomplish. Why, just look at all we were able to do when just the TV broke

It was actually quite nice. There was no struggle over who gets to watch what after breakfast. No argument over the iToys. No racing, no cooking, not even kid shows could distract us from the gloriously beautiful day outside and a peaceful shower for mom inside (we use a gas heater).

No worries about the game either, we planned to hit the local sports bar for a little college football if push came to shove. We were set. And it was good.

I don’t know how long the power was out because we were too busy to notice. I got the aforementioned undistracted shower and the kids and dad played wear each other out.

So you see, losing power, under the right circumstances, can be a good thing. Even in winter, another story for another time. If you just relax, you can use the time to reconnect with family, talk to each other or reboot. Kind of like hitting the shutdown button on the computer, as I am about to do. Try unplugging every once in a while, you might like it.

Photo: Sprinkle Shoes by Kristen Gibson

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