Monday, December 28, 2009

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast


  • 1 whole bone-in turkey breast, 6 1/2 to 7 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 packet fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves, or 1 tsp. ground sage
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • one lemon, quartered
  • 1 cup dry white wine


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place the turkey breast, skin side up, on a rack in a roasting pan.
If you do not have a roasting pan, use a 9x13 casserole pan.  Make a bed of vegetables in the pas using whatever you have -onions, celery, carrots, etc.  Place the turkey breast on top of the vegetables.

Mince 1 tbls. of rosemary.  This will go in the paste for the turkey.  Save the rest.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, mustard, herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil, and 2 tsp of lemon juice (from the lemon quarters) to make a paste. Loosen the skin from the meat gently with your fingers and smear half of the paste directly on the meat. Spread the remaining paste evenly on the skin. Pour the wine into the bottom of the roasting pan.  Place the lemon quarters and the rest of the rosemary in the pan.

Roast the turkey for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, until the skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest and meatiest areas of the breast. (I test in several places.) If the skin is over-browning, cover the breast loosely with aluminum foil. When the turkey is done, cover with foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Slice and serve with the pan juices spooned over the turkey.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Day 2009

James and I spent Christmas Day in St. Louis this year because it was my turn to work the Christmas holiday.  I had to work for a couple of hours in the early morning, and then I was on call for the rest of the day.  I did get called back to work at 9:45 pm, but at least it didn't get in the way of our celebration.

Lily got to "open" her stocking first.

She got a hippopotamus toy for Christmas.

She also got a bag of Dentastix.  (FYI for dog owners - these really help with bad dog breath)  She likes these.  Daisy also got a bag of them.  Lily got a new collar, but I didn't put the pic of it up.

Now for Daisy

Daisy got a giraffe toy . . .

. . .and Lily ran off with it!

Lily wants to see what I got.  This was a goodie bag of Burt's Bee's products.

The main thing we got this year was a blue-ray player and surround sound system.  James spent the morning getting it hooked up while I prepared dinner.  I roasted a turkey breast and made rice and steamed green beans, and I warmed some store bought rolls to go with it.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wild Lights

Last Sunday evening we went to the STL zoo to see their Christmas light display.  We had a good time.  The weather was nice & it wasn't too crowded.  Most of the lights were animal themed.  This is one thing the zoo does charge admission for.  It was $5 a person, which is not bad.  Admission is usually free.

These butterflies were my fav.

Swinging monkeys

Gingerbread house and gingerbread people



We got to see the real penguins too.  These were the only animals out for viewing.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Traditions in Ethiopia

I was curious about Christmas is celebrated in Ethiopia.  I found the following information at World of Christmas

Ethiopian Christmas is known as Ganna. It is celebrated on 7th of January. Christmas celebrations take place both in ancient churches carved from solid volcanic rock and modern churches designed in three concentric circles. Men and boys are made to sit separately from girls and women and the choir sings from the outside circle. Candles are given to people as they enter the church. They light the candles, then walk three times around the church and stand throughout the mass, which may take as long as three hours.

Traditional Christmas dish includes Injera, a sourdough pancake like bread, which serves as both plate and fork along with Doro Wat, a spicy chicken stew served in ornamented baskets. Giving gifts is not a big deal in Ethiopia and children usually receive clothes as presents. On Christmas Eve, people remain outdoors and pray and chant all night. In the morning, a colorful procession marches to the nearby hilltop headed by three young men with whips to keep everybody in line, where a service is held. After the prayers, priests bless the bread and wine and distribute it to everybody. People dance, play games and feast for the rest of the day.


Makes 8-10 waffles (4x4 inch)

2 1/2 cups sifter all-purpose flour
4 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt
  • In a bowl, beat the egg yolks.  Add the milk and then add the dry sifted ingrediants.
  • In a small bowl, beat the egg whites to a thick foam and add them gently to the preparation.
  • Batter is now ready, cook waffles according to instructions of your waffle iron.
This is what we had for dinner on Christmas Eve.  Yummy.

Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup sugar
12 ounces fresh cranberries

Bring water, orange juice, and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add cranberries and return to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour sauce into a bowl, cover & cool to room temperature. Refridgerate until serving time. Make 2 1/4 cups.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Favorite Christmas Movies

I thought it would be fun to share my favorite Christmas movies and explain why I love them.  Here goes, in no particular order:

1. Elf
This is such a funny movie. . .a grown man, who thinks he's a elf . . .searching for his long last dad in NYC.  I still laugh every time I watch him make his breakfast, spaghetti, M&M's, pop-tarts, maple syrup and cereal - all on the same plate in one pile.  All humor aside, it points to the importance of being with your loved ones at Christmas time.

2. White Christmas
I fell in love with this movie as a little girl because of the costumes at the end.  I even wanted my mom to make my Barbie doll a red dress like the girls in the movie wore.  I like it now, for better reasons.  It plays on nostalgia and patriotism, which are not a common combination for Christmas movies.  I like it because it's not about Santa!  The music and fun, and it's always made me want to have a little snow on Christmas.

3. It's a Wonderful Life
Who doesn't love this. Isn't there a George Bailey inside inside of all of us who wishes to travel the world and move on from small town America? And doesn't that George Bailey inside need to be reminded that the grass in not always greener elsewhere? George is reminded that his little life is of value.  I love the small town storyline.  Living in STL is fun, but it is fun to visit James' home town - which has a population of about 17,000, it think.  Even though I'm only there a few times a year, the gals at the local jewelry store/gift shop know who I am, where I currently live and who I'm married too.  It's nice to run into someone you know.  In the year and a half that we've been in STL, I've seen someone that I know at the grocery store exactly twice.  Santa is also not the star of this movie, which is a plus for me.

4. The Nativity Story
This movie helped me understand the political oppression that the Jews where suffering from at the time of Christ's birth. Some of the scenes from the movie where the people are having to costly taxes (sometimes one of their children is the payment) play in my head during the first Sunday of advent. . .longing for a Savior, longing for relief. The movie also made me think about what Mary's life might have been like - what consequences she might have faced in her hometown after the news of her unexpected pregnancy had reached the ears of her neighbors.

5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
This one is another childhood favorite. I love Dr. Seuss. I like this because it reminds us that Christmas is not about gifts and parties and feasts. It doesn't hint at what Christmas is really about, but I still like it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Talking with Young Children about Adoption

Another book that we read for our agency was Talking with Young Children about Adoption.  This book was very helpful.  This first part was a slow read because it was full of statistics, and it almost felt like reading a textbook.  It did have some valuable information though.  Here's some of what I found interesting:

·        Children adopted by parents of high socio-economic status scored high than children adopted by parents of low socio-economic status.  Kids that performed highest on IQ tests were born to parents of socio-economic status and adopted by parents of socio-economic status.  This indicated to me, that there is some degree of "catching up" possible for kids who have come from a less than desirable condition.
·        Nature vs. nature – whatever the genetics may be, the environment potentiates them.  Any child will become more musical if he has music lessons, but a musically gifted child raised in a musically indifferent family may never develop his musical talent.
·        Just because a child likes to talk about adoption, it doesn’t mean that he understands it
·        A child’s adoption story should not be romanticized by invoking the motif of the “chosen child” – what has been chosen may be unchosen.
·        Around age 3 children become fascinated with how things are made, including how they were made.  This is when the questions about growing in mommy’s tummy begin.
·        Young children have a desire for sameness, they may get tired of being different.  They might say they wish hadn’t been adopted, only because they wish they were just like their peers.  It is no different than the child saying they wish they had straight hair like their best friend.
·        It is not good to tell a child a that her birthmom gave them for adoption because she loved her.  You love the child too, does that mean that you are going to give her up too?
·        Children may fantasize about being reunited with their birthfamilies, even so much that they become convinced that they cannot join in their adotive family’s plans for the future because they will be returning to their country of origin.
·         Around age 7-8 kids may being to make negative judgments about their birthparents.  Why did my birthmom have to drink to drink while she was pregnant with me?  It is wise for adopted parents to have a positive view of birthparents.  The child will integrate the adoptive parents’ view of the birthparents into his own sense of self-esteem.
·        Some kids may fear being found by their birthparent and stolen away from their adoptive family
·        Some kids long for an image of their birthparents.  Some kids will find comfort in inventing a name for them
·        Kids adopted by parents do not share their skin color, may have times when they really want to look like their adoptive parents
·        It is important to help an adopted child understand that their birthmom’s decision to be a parent had nothing to do with him.  She didn’t even know him,  She had no way to tell if he was a good baby or a bad baby.  Her decision had everything to do with the circumstances of her life.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Connected Child

This is another review of a book that we read for our adoption agency.  I liked this one much better than the first one I wrote about.  This book is called The Connected Child: bring hope and healing to your adopted family.  Here are some of the things that stuck with me.

This book discussed some of the challenges that a child may face after being institutionalized.  Deprivation and harm suffered early in life impact all the ways a child develops – coordination, ability to learn, social skills, size, and neurochemistry.  This is why formerly neglected/abused children are predisposed to attachment difficulties, conduct disorder, depression, anxiety, attention deficits, etc.
Common obstacles to attachment:  child carriers, time-outs, lack of eye contact, TV & electronic games

An infant who is rarely touched or spoken too in the first year of life can suffer mental & behavioral impairments.  Children raised in an impoverished institution may exhibit the following behaviors/characteristics:  food hoarding, crossed eyes (from staring at the ceiling), fear of new places/people, indiscriminate friendliness, self-comforting repetitive behaviors

You can learn a lot about your child by careful observation.  Small details of body language and behavior will convey a message that they child is unable to communicate with words.  You may learn what is behind outbursts simply by observing.

As a result of early neglect, adopted kids have suboptimal brain chemistry.  This can be improved by such things a eating healthy meals at regular interval to keep glucose levels within normal range.  Note that medication solves only about 30% of behavioral problems.  This a nice thing for me to read.  There were times, when I was still working in retail pharmacy that I really wanted to have a talk with a parent about the importance of discipline.  There were so many kids on ADHD meds, some of who needed & truly benefited from the medications. . .but there were those other kids whose parents simply wanted a magic pill to control their child.

Cortisol is a hormone that is activated by an responds to stress.  When children have too much cortisol in their system it can lead to undesirable behaviors.  By helping your child feel safe, you can actually optimize cortisol levels and allow your child’s brain to work better.  Some things that can reduce chronic fear:  alert child to upcoming activities and make their day predictable, prevent sensory overload

Offering a child choices helps them feel empowered.  Offer them two choices, not 5. . .you are not their to be their genie in a bottle.

See misbehavior as an opportunity to teach a child new skills.  Don’t take misbehavior personally.  Offer a “do-over” when a child misbehaves so they will learn what is appropriate.  Maintain a respectful atmosphere. Encourage child to “use their words” when you see a tantrum coming.  To avoid tantrums and meltdowns in public:  establish choices before you get to your destination & rehearse your child for what’s coming

Keep your child close by when they are being disciplined.  Sending a child who has attachment issue to their room or to time-out only reinforces the feeling of isolation. Let the down child easy with the sandwich technique:  surround a corrective statement with two positive statements.
Present a united front at home and at school.  If your child says “daddy said I could ____”, always verify that 1st.  If child says their teacher said something mean, let them you know you take their concern seriously & schedule a meeting with the teacher.  Don’t automatically jump to child’s side – they might be manipulating you.

    Thursday, December 17, 2009

    Twenty Things

    This is a review of a book that we had to read for our adoption agency.  It is titled Twenty Things Adopted Kids wish their Adopted Parents Knew.  The author is an adoptee.  She was adopted when she was an infant in the 1940's.  The adoption climate was different in that time.  Birthmoms were counseled to just pick up the pieces and move on.  Adoptive parents had little information about birthparents.  There were no open adoptions, where birthparents have the option of maintaining some form of contact with the child they chose to place for adoption.  Open adoptions are now highly encouraged by adoption agencies.

    I had mixed feeling about this book.  The first part of it was hard to read through because I felt like it didn't apply to our situation.  She talks about loss and grief a lot.  This is something I could not relate to well because we haven’t been through infertility.  She seems to assume that people who adopt are doing it primarily because they can’t have their own biological kids, and she makes it seem as if she feels adoption as “second best."

    The author discusses the importance of embracing differences – some of which is helpful – “your child needs to realize that he came from real people with real personalities and life stories who made decisions that impacted his life forever”  Some not so helpful – she says that she liked ketchup a lot & her adoptive parents didn’t.  That made her feel weird at the dinner table.  “if my parents had been more enlightened about how to validate my pre-adoption reality they might have concluded that this was a tie to my biological history. . .Who in my birth family liked ketchup?”   Not every little difference needs to be linked to adopting.  I like food and activities that neither of my parents like.

    Chapter 17 is titled “Respect my privacy regard my adoption, don’t tell other people without my consent.”  When we will be in public with our kids, it will be obvious that I didn’t give birth to them.  They will not look like us.  She says that you don’t want to make the child feel different from the rest of the family or weird.  Our kids will be different, and we will celebrate that.  

    In another part of the book, she says to ell your child about their unique characteristics that bring a new dimension to your family.  Celebrate differences.  She says later in the book that making a child feel different may make him feel like he’s not part of the family, so which is it?

    The author uses the term "toxic shame." She feels that adoptees may think they were given up by their birth family because they were a bad baby.  This thinking  may lead to two extremes of behavior – being afraid that they will disappoint you & you will give them up too, so they seek to please you in all they do.  The other extreme is deciding to act like they really are a bad kid which may lead to stealing, setting fires, eating disorders, promiscuity, etc.  My issue with that view is that biological kids exhibit the same problems sometimes.  She goes on to say, "Let your child know that you longed for him before he was even born.  Make a life book for your child, and for  the first page write a letter to him affirming his “welcomeness” into the family.  Let your child know that you blow it sometimes & laugh at yourself.  Show him your humanity.  Help him see that people don’t deserve to be rejected just because they are alive." - This latter part is helpful.

    This book did give me some good things to think about, but it had an overall negative feel to it.  The author has a new book out called 20 Things Adoptive Parents Need to Succeed. Currently, it has one review at Amazon, and it was written by the author herself.  She gave it five stars, of course!  I think that is a rather vain thing to do! Ha!

    Friday, December 4, 2009

    Shrimp Bisque

    This is a slightly "slimmed down" re-make of a recipe my mother-in-law gave me several years ago.


    1/2 stick of butter
    1 bunch of green onions (chopped)
    2 Russet potatoes (peeled & chopped into bite size pieces)
    1 (14 3/4 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
    1 (14 3/4 oz) can cream of shrimp soup
    16 oz can whole kernel corn (drained)
    2 cups 2% milk
    8 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese (cubed)
    1/2 tsp. crab boil
    salt and pepper to taste
    1 tsp. Tabasco
    1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
    2 lbs shrimp, cooked and peeled (it takes about 2 1/2 lbs. of uncooked shrimp)


    Melt butter in large stock pot, add the green onions & simmer until done.  In another pot, boil the potatoes until tender and then drain.

    Once the green onions are cooked, add the rest of the ingredients except for the shrimp.  Stir constantly until everything is well blended and the cream cheese has melted.  Add shrimp.

    Wednesday, December 2, 2009

    Consumer Alert

    I wanted to spread the word about a company of ill repute that I crossed paths with.  On Monday, I had a man knock on my door.  I answered it, with my feisty little dog in my arms.  I've learned to do that because she will bark and snarl for a while and I want to let a stranger know that I have a dog that doesn't seem too friendly.  I don't like door-to-door salesmen.  They disrupt what I'm doing, and I NEVER want what they have.  In this day and age, the whole concept seems rather unsafe.  They might be at your door just trying to get inside so they can assault you.

    Anyway, the name of the company he was with was called "Hague Water."  He said that his company had recently gotten reports about excessive sedimentation in the water.  He wanted to know if he could get my name and number so he could schedule a time for one of his employees to do a free water test.  I thought he might have been a contract worker for the water company, so I gave him the info.  But, I had my doubts.  After moving to the STL area, we did our own reading about the water supply, and found at that it is CLEAN.  The water here is better than I can remember it being anywhere else we have lived. 

    James did some research on Hague Water company.  It is a nation wide company.  A few years, they were involved in a lawsuit with the MO Attorney General's office, and they lost.  They are not interested in doing water quality testing.  From what we've read about them, they will come to your house and work some hocus-pocus with a sample of your water & make you think that it is full of toxins.  Then they sell you a water treatment system for your home - which happens to cost several thousand dollars & is a faulty piece of equipment.

    This morning, I called our water company to let them know about what Hague water doing.  They confirmed that Hague water is not an affiliate, and that there is nothing wrong with the water supply.  They will be mailing a letter to all the water customers in my county explaining what is going on.

    I also called the attorney general's office.  There have been 25 complaints filed about this company recently.  They are well aware of what it going on, but they do not have enough evidence to pursue legal action at this time.

    I also called the senior center in my city.  The elderly are at the highest risk for falling into these traps.  They are home during the day when the salesman knocks on the door, and they may not have the ability to research the company like we did.  They hear that their water might be bad, and decide to buy the $$$$ water treatment system.  I asked the lady at the senior center to post a notice to warn people of the scam that Hague Water seems to be running.  She seemed appreciative of the phone call.

    The people of Hague Water should be ashamed of themselves.  Please warn anyone that might fall victim to them that this is NOT a business to trust.

    Seven Layer Dip

    With Bowl Season just around the corner, I thought I'd share this recipe.  I found it a few years ago on  It is easy, and very good.

    • 1& 1/2 pounds ground beef
    • 1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
    • 4 cups shredded Cheddar-Monterey Jack cheese blend
    • 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
    • 1 cup guacamole
    • 1 cup salsa
    • 1 (2.25 ounce) can black olives, chopped
    • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
    • 1/2 cup chopped green onions


    1. In a large skillet, brown ground beef. Set aside to drain and cool to room temperature.
    2. Spread the beans into the bottom of a 9x13 inch serving tray that is about 1 1/2 inches deep. Sprinkle 2 cups of shredded cheese on top of beans. Sprinkle beef on top of cheese. Spread sour cream very slowly on top of beef. Spread guacamole on top of sour cream. Pour salsa over guacamole and spread evenly. Sprinkle remaining shredded cheese. Sprinkle black olives, tomatoes, and green onions on top.
    3. You can serve this dish immediately, or refrigerate it over night and serve cold. I think it tastes better at room temperature.

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    Christmas Decorations

    After I got off work on Friday, I stopped by Lowe's to get some Christmas lights for the yard.  I was surprised at how little selection was left, but I did find some cute things.  When I got home, I took the Thanksgiving decorations down and boxed them up.  Saturday morning, while we were waiting for the Christmas tree lot to open, we started putting our outdoor lights up.  Then we went to get our tree. Here are a few pictures of our decorations.

    In the kitchen

    In the foyer.  I've been collecting this nativity set over the past eight years or so.  I've been given several of the pieces as Christmas gifts.  I like the simplicity of it.  Mary and Joseph were not rich, and couldn't have afforded the expensive clothing that they are sometimes depicted in.

    On top on the china cabinet.

    The dining room table.  While my family was here on Wed., we went to Old St. Charles, and did some shopping.  I got the tree and the large ornaments that day.

    On our back door.  My mom made this for me a couple of years ago.  It makes me smile.

    The mantle.  Yes, the dogs have their own stockings, and they do get little Christmas presents - mostly just doggie treats and toys.

    Our tree.  It is an 8 foot Frazier Fur.  We had a Blue Spruce last year, and it made a huge mess.  We've had Frazier's before and they hold their needles well, and the needles are soft.  Some of the ornaments are old, some new.  We have a lot of Hallmark ornaments that were a gift from James' parents, but we didn't use those this year.  We used them last year, and I like for the tree to be a little different each year.

    Monday, November 30, 2009

    Thanksgiving 2009

    We had a nice Thanksgiving. We had 13 people over for dinner.  My parents and my grandmother came, and we had a family from church and 2 international student from a local university.  James cooked the turkey and dressing, and he made sweet tea.  My mom and I took care of the rest.

    The table after it was set.

    The mantle

    The foyer 

    Time to fry the turkey.  The Cajun injection goes in first.

    Into the pot!

    James with some of our guests

    We all helped with the clean up - even the dogs.  Lily is at James' feet licking a pot that had soup in it.  It was thoroughly washed after she got finished.

    Daisy helped lick up the soup too, and she got some on her!

    Thursday, November 26, 2009

    Happy Thanksgiving

    As is the case every year, we have so much to be thankful for this year.  Here are a few of things I am thankful for this year.
    • God provided the resources that we needed to start the adoption process and He gave both of us a heart for it.  There has never been a question between the two of us as to whether or not we should adopt.
    • We have been blessed with overwhelming support from our families, friends, neighbors, & coworkers. 
    • We have a wonderful social worker who is helping us sort through all our adoption paperwork, and I am thankful that we are almost finished with it!
    • I'm thankful for my husband and the relationship that we share.
    • We're both still employed, which is not a given these days.
    • I'm thankful for God's mercy, grace, forgiveness, and love.
    • I'm thankful for the families we have met who are also going down the same path (adopting from Ethiopia) we are walking down.  It is helpful to talk to some else who is right where you are in life.
    • I'm thankful for our church and the wonderful teaching that we have received there.
    • I'm thankful that our new house feels like our home now.
    • We have good relationships with our extended families, and we do our best to keep in touch even though we don't live nearby.
    • I'm thankful for our dogs.  They are so much fun.
    Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. I Chronicles 16:34

    Wednesday, November 25, 2009

    Thanksgiving Recipe #4

    Cranberry Spritzer

    3 cups water
    2 cups cranberry juice
    1 can (6 ounces) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
    1 can (6 ounces) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
    1/2 cup Equal® Spoonful (May substitute 12 packets Equal sweetener)
    1-1/2 liters diet lemon-lime soda, chilled
    Lemon and/or orange slices (optional)

    Combine water, cranberry juice, orange juice and lemonade concentrates. Stir in Equal® until dissolved. Chill 1 to 2 hours. Stir in soda just before serving. Garnish each glass with a lemon or orange slice, if desired.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009

    Thanksgiving Recipe #3

    This recipe is from James' grandmother.  She said she got it from a Methodist Church cookbook from 1982.

    Pecan Pie

    1 deep nine inch Pet Ritz brand pie crust
    3 eggs
    1 tbsp melted butter
    1 cup white sugar
    1 cup light Karo corn syrup
    1 tsp vanilla
    1/2 tsp salt
    2 tbsp flour
    1.5 to 2 cups pecans (corsely chopped)

    Preheat oven to 350.  Bake empty pie crust for a couple of minutes to dry out.  Beat eggs, add rest of ingredients.  Pour into pie crust.  Bake pie for about 45 min on top of cookie sheet.

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    Thanksgiving Recipe #2

    Butternut Squash Soup

    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
    • 4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 large)
    • 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
    • 5 pounds butternut squash (2 large)
    • 1 1/2 pounds sweet apples, such as McIntosh (4 apples)
    • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth 
    • 2 cups apple cider or juice

    Warm the butter, olive oil, onions, and curry powder in a large stockpot uncovered over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions are tender. Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot.

    Peel the squash, cut in half, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into chunks. Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Cut into chunks.
    Add the squash, apples, salt, pepper, and 2 cups of broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until the squash and apples are very soft. Process the soup through a food mill fitted with a large blade, or puree it coarsely in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
    Pour the soup back into the pot. Add the apple cider or juice and enough water to make the soup the consistency you like; it should be slightly sweet and quite thick. Check the salt and pepper and serve hot. 

    Sunday, November 22, 2009

    Thanksgiving Recipes

    We are hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, so I thought over the next few days I'd share a few of the recipes that we will be making.  This first recipe came from one of my Sunday school teachers at Temple (where I attended in college).  Thanks, Denise!

    Carrot Souffle
    Servings: 6
    Prep time: 10 minutes
    Baking time: 45 min

    1 (15 oz) can carrots (drain about ½ the water off)
    1 stick margarine, melted
    1 cup sugar
    1 tsp. baking powder
    3 Tbs. flour
    1 tsp. vanilla
    3 large eggs

    Preheat oven to 350°. In a blender or food processor, puree carrots. Add margarine, sugar, & eggs, and blend well. Combine remaining ingredients and put in a greased 9x9 casserole or soufflĂ© dish. Bake for 45 minutes at 350°. Rotate pan midway through cooking.

    NOTE: If doubling recipe, bake in a 9 X 13 pan, and decrease the temp to 325 degrees. If you bake the larger amount at 350, the corners will burn before the middle is done.

    Saturday, November 21, 2009

    Ethiopian Holidays

    I just learned that both my birthday and James' birthday fall on Ethiopian holidays.  James' birthday falls Enkutatash, their New Year and my birthday is the same day as Timket, or Epiphany.

    I found the following information at the British Ethiopian Embassy's website.

    The Ethiopian New Year falls in September at the end of the big rains. The sun comes out to shine all day long creating an atmosphere of dazzling clarity and fresh clean air. The highlands turn to gold as the Meskel daisies burst out in all their splendor. Ethiopian children clad in brand new clothes dance through the villages giving bouquets of flowers and painted pictures to each household.

    September 11th is both New Year's Day and the Feast of St. John the Baptist. The day is called Enkutatash meaning the "gift of jewels." When the famous Queen of Sheba returned from her expensive jaunt to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem, her chiefs welcomed her back by replenishing her treasury with enku or jewels. The spring festival has been celebrated since these early times and as the rains come to their abrupt end, dancing and singing can be heard at every village in the green countryside. After dark on New Year's Eve people light fires outside their houses. 

    The main religious celebration takes place at the 14th-century Kostete Yohannes church in the city of Gaynt within the Gondar Region. Three days of prayers, psalms, and hymns, sermons, and massive colorful processions mark the advent of the New Year. Closer to Addis Ababa, the Raguel Church, on top of the Entoto Mountain north of the city, has the largest and most spectacular religious celebration. But Enkutatash is not exclusively a religious holiday, and the little girls singing and dancing in pretty new dresses among the flowers in the fields convey the message of springtime and renewed life. Today's Enkutatash is also the season for exchanging formal New Year greetings and cards among the urban sophisticated in lieu of the traditional bouquet of flowers.

    Timket, or Epiphany falls on January 19th, just two weeks after the Ethiopian Christmas. It is actually a three-day affair, beginning on the Eve of Timkat with dramatic and colorful processions. The following morning the great day itself, Christ's baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist is commemorated. The third day is devoted to the Feast of St. Michael, the archangel, one of Ethiopia's most popular saints.  Since October and the end of the rains, the country has been drying up steadily. The sun blazes down from a clear blue sky and the Festival of Timkat always takes place in glorious weather.  Enormous effort is put into the occasion. Tej and tella (Ethiopian mead and beer) are brewed, special bread is baked, and the fat-tailed African sheep are fattened for slaughter.Gifts are prepared for the children and new clothes purchased or old mended and laundered.

    Everyone men, women, and children appear resplendent for the three-day celebration. Dressed in the dazzling white of the traditional dress, the locals provide a dramatic contrast to the jewel colors of the ceremonial velvets and satins of the priests' robes and sequined velvet umbrellas.

    On the eve of the 18 January, Ketera, the priests remove the tabots from each church and bless the water of the pool or river where the next days celebration will take place. It is the tabot (symbolizing the Ark of the Covenant containing the Ten Commandments) rather than the church building which is consecrated, and it is accorded extreme reverence. Not to be desecrated by the gaze of the layman, the engraved wooden or stone slab is carried under layers of rich cloth.  In Addis Ababa, many churches bring their tabots to Jan Meda (the horse racing course of imperial day) accompanied by priests bearing prayer sticks and sistra, the ringing of bells and blowing of trumpets, and swinging bronze censors from which wisps of incense smoke escape into the evening air. The tabots rest in their special tent in the meadow, each hoisting a proud banner depicting the church's saint in front.

    The priests pray throughout the long cold night and mass is performed around 2:00 a.m. Huge crowds of people camp out, eating and drinking by the light of flickering fires and torches. Towards dawn the patriarch dips a golden cross and extinguishes a burning consecrated candle in the altar. Then he sprinkles water on the assembled congregation in commemoration of Christ's baptism. Many of the more fervent leap fully dressed into the water to renew their vows.

    Following the baptism the tabots start back to their respective churches, while feasting, singing and dancing continue at Jan Meda. The procession winds through town again as the horsemen cavort alongside, their mounts handsomely decorated with red tassels, embroidered saddlecloths, and silver bridles. The elders march solemnly, accompanied by singing leaping priests and young men, while the beating of staffs and prayer sticks recalls the ancient rites of the Old Testament.

    Monday, November 16, 2009

    Chicken Pot Pie

    I made this for dinner one day last week.  It was good, but I think it could use a bit more salt and pepper than what it calls for.

    1 cup potato, diced
    1 cup onion, diced
    1 cup celery, diced
    1 cup carrot, diced
    1/3 cup melted margarine
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    2 cups chicken broth
    1 cup half-and-half
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    4 cups chicken, cooked and chopped
    2 pie crusts (either store bought or your own recipe)

    Preheat oven to 400°F.  Saute onion, celery, carrots and potatoes in butter for 10 minutes.  Add flour to sauteed mixture, stirring well Cook one minute stirring constantly.  Combine broth and half and half.  Gradually stir into vegetable mixture.  Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly.  Stir in salt and pepper; add chicken and stir well.  Pour into shallow 2 quart casserole dish and top with pie shells.  Cut slits in pie shells to allow steam to escape.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly and cooked through.

    Thursday, October 29, 2009

    French Bread Pizza

    This is yummy and really easy to make.  I got the idea from my mother-in-law.  Her version uses green onions, cheese, black olives, butter, and mayo.  It is very good too.

    I loaf of french sliced in half
    marinara sause
    toppings of your choice (I used turkey pepperoni, onion, bell peppers, mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese)

    Bake uncovered at 35o degrees for 15-20 minutes.

    I do not saute the veggies before I bake the pizza.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009

    Highlights from our trip to NYC

    We arrived in NYC Friday afternoon, and that night we went to China town. There were lots of street vendors and a number of these little pharmacies pictured below. We ate dinner at a restaurant called Joe's Shanghai. It was really good, but noisy. You sat at a table with 4 other people, kinda like at a hibachi. We had potstickers and soup dumplings. Soup dumplings are what they are know for.

    Saturday morning we took a ferry to the Statue of Liberty. FYI for anyone who has not been there since 9-11-01, prepare to feel robbed of your liberty upon entering. You have to go through security twice before you can even go to the museum at the base of the statue. The first time is before you board the ferry, and then you have to go through it again after you arrive at Liberty Island before you can enter the base of the statue. (There were no tickets available for the climb to the crown on Sat.) It was worse than airport security. You had to completely empty your pockets, no liquids were allowed, and I even had a park ranger give me trouble about taking my camera bag inside - because it is a backpack style camera bag. No backpacks allowed. I rolled my eyes at her and she gave in. Thank goodness. I wouldn't have gotten irritated about it if it hadn't been for the fact that they allowed women to take in these gigantic purses that a couple small kids could fit into. If they don't want people to take backpacks inside, then they should not allow giant purses either. Next time I will just take a giant purse to put my backpack style camera bag into. HA!

    The ferry ride was nice. The weather was great, but we both got a bit of windburn from standing at the bow of the boat.

    After we got back from the Statue, we walked to Ground Zero. The memorial is still under construction, and will not be finished for quiet some time from the way things looked. The fire station that first responded to the emergency is located right across the street from where the Twin Towers once stood. There were a couple of long plaques on the exterior of the fire station. There one pictured read "Dedicated to those who fell and to those who carried on." There was a poster that had a photo of each firefighter who died in the rescue efforts, and there was a small place for people to leave flowers.
    Saturday night we went to see "Wicked." It was a great show. The music was well done and the costumes were fantastic. The picture below was taken in the lobby of the theater.
    Sunday afternoon we went to a Yankee's/Red Sox game. It was rainy, and the game was delayed for about 1 hour. It was nice to see the new stadium. I liked the architecture, but Busch and Wrigley are still the best to us. The Yankee's won the game, and thus their division. It was also their 100th win of the year. The heckling between the Yanks and Sox fans was way more intense than anything I have experienced at Cards/Cubs at either Busch or Wrigley. If I had to listen to that kind of trash talk during the games, I don't think I'd go to Cubs games at Busch.

    Sunday night we went to Madame Tussoud's Wax museum. It was James' idea, and I will admit that I was not fired up about going. I mean, it's a wax museum. . .

    I'm glad we went. We both had fun. Unlike other wax museums we'd been to, you could touch the models and pose for pics with them. There were models of celebrities, presidents, foreign heads of state, professional athletes, musicians, and even Sponge Bob Square Pants. There's James below doing what all of us Microsoft users would like to do - giving Bill Gates a piece of his mind.
    Monday we went to the Museum of Modern Art. James didn't really want to go until he found out that they had Van Gogh's Starry Night there. They also had some of Salvador Dali's work, and Picasso, Monet, Warhol and Jackson Pollock. We spent at least two hours there and we still didn't see everything they had. This pic was taken in their outdoor sculpture garden.After we left the MoMA, we walked about the square at Rockefeller Center. I loved seeing all the flags. It was so colorful!

    We walked around the outside of St. Patrick's Cathedral. We didn't have time for a tour. It is a beautiful church.

    For lunch, we went to the Hello Deli. It's a little place that Letterman helped put on the map. The owner, Rupert, who has appeared on the Late Show a number of times, was running the register and taking orders.
    After lunch we went to the Guggenheim. I was really impressed with the building. It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The opening scene of "Men in Black" was shot there, and that kept playing in my head the whole time we were there. HA. Most of the museum was showing the work of one artist, and neither of us were enthralled with his work, so we didn't stay there too long. Their permanent collection did have some famous piece from Degas, Picasso, Renoir, and Van Gogh.

    Tuesday was our last day in NYC. We were able to squeeze in some sightseeing before we had to go to the airport. We went to the NYC library. There is a Gutenberg Bible on display - that's what James is standing next too.
    Our finally stop was a tour of Radiocity Music Hall. Our tour guide was great. He had been working there for 12 years, and he loved his job through and through. We got to meet a Rockette.
    Our flight home was interesting. We flew from NYC to Baltimore then to STL. When we got to our gate in Baltimore, I noticed that were were a lot of people in wheelchairs waiting to board. I pointed it out to James, because it was unusual. It turns out they were all World War II veterans from the STL area who had been in DC to visit the monuments and to see the sights. They got a round of applause on the plane, and when we landed in STL, there were 4 firetrucks there to do a water salute.
    There was a welcoming party inside the airport along with a local news station.