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Archive for March, 2009

Wow! The wind is really whipping outside today, so my custom blend of coffee, stirred with creamy half & half, is just absolutely delicious! It’s early morning, and I still have my heat turned down to a rather low temperature. I’m sitting in bed with my comfy covers and cozy nightgown and snuggly socks. Oh my how life is good this morning!

I’m afraid I ate out too often this week. But is was oh so much fun! I packed my lunch of sardines one morning (oh yum! really, one of my favorites), and then left them sitting on the dining table. bummer. So I called my bud Regina, and she and I went to the Union for chat and snack time! She toted her lunch box and I bought a salad. I like a salad bar, because I can choose all my favorite fixins! And since I’m a grownup, I can get whatever I want. Lettuce is my least favorite part of a salad, so I just left that out. None. But there were all kinds of crunchy things: carrots, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, and on and on. She made me laugh and we talked about work and maybe movies, too? Regina likes all the movies I do not, so I like to hear her descriptions. Sometimes she uses big words, and I can feel my vocabulary improving with each visit. I’m a more progressive librarian after only 10 minutes with Regina. Truly.

Debbie and I went out one night to Houlihan’s, because I really wanted to relax and eat French fries. As I said in the previous paragraph, I am a grownup, so I ordered a small salad and an order of French fries. Why? Coz that was all I wanted. And I was paying for my supper. And it was scrumptious! However, the fries were not nearly as delightful as the dessert coffee I ordered. Oh my goodness I could feel my glucose levels increasing with every sip!! I ordered a cup of decaf with a side of Baileys Irish Cream. I had never before tried Baileys and oh my goodness! It was so sweet and creamy. I poured some of it into my coffee, added a little more half & half to that, and had the perfect “night night” drink. I also sipped (little tiny sips) the Irish Cream a bit on the side. I never did completely drink all the Baileys that was served in that dainty little cordial glass, but I will surely have to buy me a bottle sometime soon to keep on hand for when I have company.

Then last night…..yup!……again!……I felt the need for French fries. So I called Tara C. just as I was leaving to go home to see if she wanted to stop by Kite’s and buy fries. And she did. And we walked there with an escort provided by Livia. Not only did I buy a basket of fries and only fries for my meal, I splurged on a real, NOT diet, Dr. Pepper. Can you sing “sugar and calories, sugar and calories….”? We laughed and talked about the library and just stuff we like to do. It was great fun and inexpensive. FYI – Tara ordered a more balanced meal of a salad with a variety of crunchy goodness. What a way to go girl! Make me look bad. That’s OK. She’s allowed because she puts up with me.

Well, I better get moving and get ready for work. The library awaits, and I’m sure they need me there. Yes. Please? I promise not to drop crumbs on the carpet.

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Hello Everyone! People who know me and those that read my blog know that I am happy here in Kansas. I love my job. I’ve made new friends. The sky is larger than any I have ever seen before and almost always beautiful. Nevertheless, there are times when I get lonesome. And Friday was such a day, because my husband and I celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary, only he was in Virginia, and I was here. However, he has a trip planned out here next month, and we decided the $200 – $300 it costs for one of us to fly to the other just was not available right now. So we emailed and chatted via our wonderful cell phone service.

And Thursday I decided I wanted to celebrate with friends, so I went to Radina’s, my favorite coffee shop in Manhattan and told all my coffee “buds” to show up Friday morning, and I would treat all of us to some Radina’s freshly baked scones. And I did. And it was great fun. When I arrived at 6:45am Friday morning, there was a large table all prepared for us! Set in the middle was a tray of scones and a couple of muffins, still warm from the oven. I had requested a small tub of softened butter and one of soften cream cheese – and there they were, snuggled in the middle of all those tasty delights! The staff at Radina’s aims to please. And they did. Everything was perfect. It looked pretty, there was a variety of scones, and I felt that all that was missing was my own tiara!

My friends came and went as their schedules allowed, and we laughed and ate and drank our favorite coffees and teas. I was at work by 9:00am, and still wearing that smile on my face. The morning of scrumptious goodies and fun conversation was not terribly expensive, and I was left with a memory I hope I never forget. Thank you, Wade Radina, and all the staff that saw to it that we had a perfect start to our day!

Yes. I love food. Never celebrate without it!

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I’ve been so busy lately that I’ve slacked in my oh-so-freshly-prepared foods. Is it quick? OK, then that is what I’m fixing for supper tonight! However, last weekend I made a big ol’ pot of stew with lots and lots of veges in it. I ate it for three meals and then was able to freeze seven servings, each just a little over one cup. So now I have seven more totally healthy quick meals in my freezer! Decision like this are just one of the many reasons everyone calls me the genius librarian. Well, really no one calls me by that title, but maybe they should.

I’ve also renewed acquaintance with my love of sardines. True, they smell up my office when I take them for lunch, but pour on a little vinegar, serve a side of crunchy raw vegetables, another side of even crunchier Saltines, and my oh my! It’s like the featured entrée at the local country store buffet! And the smell doesn’t bother me at all, though my co-workers may not be fond of it. They never complain. I mean, who would ever complain when it also means they get to work with the genius librarian. Right?

Remember when I wrote a few weeks ago that my new goal was to eat no more than four ounces of meat (other than fish) a day? Mostly I have been very successful with that goal. Some days I really crave something bad – yesterday morning it was a fried chicken biscuit from McDonalds. Most Fridays I drive to work instead of my usual walking so that I can take care of my weekly personal errands at the end of the day. So I had my car. And I drove to McDonalds. And I ate the biscuit. And it was good. Since I gave in to the craving, I most likely will be able to behave now for a couple more weeks.

Another not so healthy food I prepared this week was white rice. I really like the white rice that has been flavored with saffron, and I cooked some one night and served it with the navy beans (quick from the freezer!) I soaked and cooked a few weeks ago. Sigh….it was really good. The leftovers joined my frozen servings of brown and wild rice already in the freezer. Now honestly, I seldom have white rice. It’s just sometimes at the grocery store I am overcome with a culinary weakness and I cannot stop myself! “Help! Someone stop me before I eat/buy something horrible again!”

Hmmmmmmm….., I think that takes care of my confessions for this past week. I’ve been snacking on a mixture of nuts and my daily 1/2 apple, and one day ate a brownie when we had a mini birthday party in our department in the library. But, you know, I didn’t want to hurt the feelings of the chef, right? That would have been rude.

That’s it for me today!

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Hello everyone! I didn’t have the chance last weekend to write about any of the delicious food I experienced that week, so I’ll give it a shot today!

The most memorable meal I prepared was the night I had John and Karen over for supper. I must say, I just totally out-did myself! And it was mostly simple food. We started in the living room with crackers, Gouda cheese, and a mixture of olives. I didn’t provide too much of the appetizer, because I didn’t want my guests to fill up before the meal, but I was anxious to serve the Riesling I had purchased. First thing! I purchased a dryer Riesling than usual, because I felt there was a better chance others would enjoy it, and I believe they did. Wine, I believe, always goes better with food. And humans go much better with wine, too, if there is food. Don’t you agree?

After talking in the living room for a bit, we moved to the dining room where I served my famous tomato bisque I had made the night before. [oddly, they had never heard of my famous bisque. go figure.] This time I flavored it with both basil and fennel, running it through the blender to really blend and chop the fennel seed. Sometimes I think biting into one of those can provide too strong a flavor. I also added chopped onions I had sautéed in mmmmm….. oh my goodness butter! So the blender pulled it all together better than I could have done with a whisk. Just before serving I poured a little extra cream in the center of each bowl and tried to make a pretty swirl. OK, so it looked choppy instead of smooth and elegant. I tried. But I definitely need to work on my art skills. For sure!

The main dish was a simple one, and I don’t usually serve foods made with canned soups because of all the salt and preservatives, but this chicken dish is a favorite. And easy. I simply cooked several boneless chicken breasts with cheese and a can of cream of celery soup, adding a little white wine toward the end of the baking. The sauce is so yummy, that I served the chicken over wild rice I had cooked with chunks of onion, celery, and water chestnuts.

To go with the chicken and rice I prepared green beans topped with toasted almonds, glazed carrots (but not too sweet!), and a side of cold fresh asparagus, thinly sliced onions, and mushrooms, marinated for several hours in my favorite marinade. I also purchased a loaf of multigrain bread (no baker am I), and we enjoyed that with soft butter.

You know, I think they really did like the food! I ended with the dessert I learned to make a few weeks ago at the cooking demo and dinner at the Emerald City Market. I made those super buttery polenta cakes, and topped them with the strawberry sauce I made with strawberries, sugar, water, and brandy. And a few fresh strawberries on top of all that, of course! It was the perfect small but very delicious dessert! And as always, de-caf coffee.

It didn’t take me long to clean up and wash dishes after they left, and I fell into bed exhausted, but with a grin on my face! I had so much fun, the conversation was fascinating, and the food, honestly, was a treat. Not just for me, but I think for them as well. I always worry about that. I mean, I know that I like those foods, but I never know for sure if my guests will like it as much as I do.

For myself, I made some of my favorites these past two weeks. I made another tuna casserole with whole wheat penne noodles. I just adore penne noodles! The little ridges hold the sauce, and they are just the right size for my big mouth! I ate two servings of that before freezing the rest. I know tuna casseroles sound boring, but they are simple and I really like them. And for various reasons, there has been so much work at the library the last few months. Not complaining!! Job security is very important to me! But it is a fact. Period. And I come home many days really tired, hungry, but without the desire to cook. So having all these frozen homemade meals in the freezer is a real treat. And dang it! Simply another one of my very intelligent ideas! Surely you agree?

I also cooked a scrumptious beef roast with carrots, onions, and sweet potatoes. Oh my that was one of the best I have ever cooked! Ever. I froze servings of that as well, freezing only a very small portions of beef for each meal. I try to cook roast like my mother-in-law cooks hers. She cooks the best! To do that, I cook it on top of the stove in a large pot. I sear the beef first, add just a little water, and continue cooking for a while. Later I add the veges and a little more water, but I wait until the beef is almost done before I add them. That way they stay not too crunchy, but they don’t get mooshy either. I’m sure that is a word, but I won’t look it up – just in case Mr. Merriam and Mr. Webster forgot to place it in their dictionary. Wouldn’t want to embarrass them.

I try to add as little water as possible, but I need enough to cook the vegetables. That way, I get a nice brown juice and don’t lose too many of the nutrients of the actual food. And cooking on top of the stoves takes a lot less electricity than using the big oven. I’m all about using less energy!

Of course, I continued to eat on my previously frozen meals, like beans with salsa and cabbage soup. I recently discovered my vitamin D levels are super, super low, so I’ve eaten sardines twice this past week for lunch. (love ‘em with vinegar!) I tried sitting in the sun one day while I ate lunch, but I’ve decided that is definitely not the time of day for me to do that. I could not believe how my freckles popped out for just those few minutes! Truly, I think a few little freckles on the nose are cute and attractive, but mine are those big ol’ “old people” freckles! Really. Not attractive. I’m taking a huge dosage of vitamin D in a prescription once-a-week tablet, but I figured I would try to do more naturally what I could to help that process along.

Well, time to crawl out of this comfy bed, finish my coffee, and get on with my day! Lots to do this weekend, but I’m looking forward to all of it. Even working today at the library. It will be quiet, and I have wiki words to create!

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