Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fresh Mint

It's been hot here.  Really, really hot.  We've been working on a project outside.  In the heat.  My shower won't get colder than 84 degrees.  Even though we are lucky enough to have friends with pools, I've been craving a cold treat so I finally broke out the ice cream maker my wonderful sister gave me for Christmas to make Mint Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream!

I'd love to say I was inspired by the over-abundance of fresh mint my (non-existent) herb garden but that's just not true, I had to steal some from JT (he also gave me some plants that are still alive so maybe next time I will have an over-abundance!).

After I got over the amazing smell of fresh mint I used this simple recipe:

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

2/3 to 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves (I used a combo of spearmint and orange mint)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chopped dark or  semisweet chocolate


1.  Put the mint leaves and sugar into a food processor.  Be sure the mint is dry.  Process until the mint is finely ground.

 2. Warm the milk, heavy cream and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally.

 3. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks until smooth, then add the sugar and mint mixture and whisk until combined.

4.  When the milk mixture is steaming and hot but not simmering, whisk in 1/4 cup of the milk into the egg mixture, then whisk in another 1/4 cup to temper the eggs.  Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the tempered egg mixture.

5.  Return the saucepan to the cook top over medium heat.  Add the honey and salt.  Continue cooking and stirring the mixture until it coats the back of a spoon - when you draw your finger across the spoon it should leave a mark through the custard that doesn't move.  Make sure it doesn't boil.

6.  Quickly put the saucepan into a large bowl filled with ice water to cool the custard.  Stir for a few minutes.  Cover and refrigerate until completely cool, at least one hour and up to 24.

7.  Follow the instructions on your ice cream maker, I added the chocolate chunks about 5 minutes before the ice cream was finished.  I used dark chocolate and thought it was too dry.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How Does your Garden Grow? Take 2

I know I just posted garden pics, but so much growth has happened since those were taken.

Ambrosia Melon.  The melon is taking over everything.  It's climbing the fence, the rose, the little flower garden in front of the fence, off into the trees to the side.  I mean, it wants to take over the world.

German Johnson Tomato.  I think this guy will be the first to be harvested.

Yellow Bell Pepper.  Well, green now, but he's supposed to get yellow.  I held it for scale.

Cucumber.  Like a real cucumber!

Zuccini Squash.  Just blossoming so far, but I have high hopes

Eggplant.  It's getting pretty big.

Snow Peas.

Cherokee Purple Tomato.  I'm probably most excited about this guy.

Portofino Squash.

Yellow Squash.

The little cucumber that could.  Even two days ago I didn't think this guy was going to go anywhere.  He was sticking straight up and was a lot smaller.  He's grown a lot in the past few days.

Green Beans.  OK, so there are only three beans on here and little hope for more as of yet, but there's still time.

Island Chicken

It's beginning to look like Wednesday night is my night to make dinner.  Last week I tried a recipe from Annie's Eats for Island Chicken along with Guacamole Salad adapted from Ina.

Island Chicken

½ cup vegetable oil

3 tbsp. lemon juice
1½ tbsp. soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
½ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2-4 chicken breasts

Combine all ingredients except chicken in bowl or ziploc bag, mix well.  Add the chicken, seal the bag or bowl and let it marinate in the refrigerator for up to 10 hours.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350.  Place chicken and excess marinade in baking dish and cook until chicken is cooked through (internal temp 165, about 40 - 45 minutes).  Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before cutting and enjoy!

Guacamole Salad

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 bell pepper, seeded and 1/2 inch diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup red onioins, small diced
½ tsp lime zest, freshly grated
¼ cup lime juice, fresh squeezed (2 limes)
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
½ tsp minced garlic
2 ripe avacados, seeded peeled and ½ inch diced

Prepare the tomatoes, pepper, black beans, red onion and lime zest and place them in a large bowl. 

Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, salt, black pepper and garlic and poiur over the vegetables.  Toss well.

Fold the avacodos into the salad just before you're ready to serve.

Enjoy this fantastic taste of summer.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Pay Attention!

I got an electric hedge trimmer for the HUGE azalea bushes behind the house.  Turns out you need to be careful when you're using one of those.  Pay attention to where the extension cord is or you could get a *shock*!  (See what I did there?  I think I'm funny)

Friday, June 25, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Pretty well actually, thanks for asking!

Portofino Squash Blossom

Ambrosia Melon Leaves

Cucumber Flower

Zuccini Squash Flower

Cherokee Purple Tomatos

Snow Peas

Ichiban Eggplant

Ichiban Eggplant

Green Beans

Cucumber Flower

Golden Bell Pepper

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Angel Food French Toast

We had dinner with friends the other night and they brought a wonderful summer dessert; angel food cake with fresh berries.  It was a great dessert, but there was a lot left over.  Shannon sent me a wonderful idea for the leftovers... Angel Food French Toast!

I whipped up a typical half milk, half egg mixture, soaked slices of angel food cake in there and threw them in a pan with some melted butter.  You don't have to be as careful with the cake as you would think.  

It made for a delicious breakfast but I ate way more than was necessary. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My New Camera: Panasonic Lumix LX3

I finally decided on a camera.  I FINALLY got my camera.  I chose the Panasonic Lumix LX3. 
My new Panasonic Lumix LX3

When comparing it to the ZS7 the major drawback was the difference in zoom, the LX3 has almost no zoom capability.  What it lacks in zoom it makes up for in an amazing lens, and an especially great macro lens.  I still have a lot of experimenting to do, but I'll post some pictures using features I've played with so far.  You'll be seeing a lot of macro use in future postings.
Kota using "Pinhole" mode.

Eric and Kota using "Film Grain" Mode.

With "Self Portrait" mode we don't even need Eric's monkey arms.

Bouquets for Maggie's wedding using the macro lens.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I Like 'Em Scrambled

Here is a typical weekday breakfast for me.

Pretty simple and healthy (although I could probably stand to cut down on the portion size).  I throw some green onions and some of the laughing cow into the pan first, let it sizzle a little and then I pour in my off brand "Egg Beaters" (SO much cheaper at Costco) and throw in tons of some cheese.  When they're done to my liking - a little well done - I throw them on a plate and squirt some Lizano Salsa on them.  We discovered Lizano in Costa Rica a few years ago and I've been eating it since.

So there you have it, a typical weekday breakfast for me.  Ah the joys of working from home.

Not to Get All Political, But...

This has been on my mind a lot lately and is frankly terrifying.  The "Personhood" movement in Colorado is trying to ban ALL methods of birth control aside from the condom and the oh-so-reliable rhythm method.  They say that's not true, however if you look at their reasoning they change the modern meaning of the word to fit their needs.  I won't get into how contradictory their talking points are, and how little sense they make, even if you don't want to get into separation of church and state (whoops, they forgot about that part).  They contend that every unfertilized ovum should have a chance for life and that preventing fertilization is a form of murder.  Really????  Murder????  So I should go to jail if I have a period?  Girls should start having sex at 13 or whenever it is they start menstruating?  Everyone should be concerned that this group is taken seriously at all, and especially that they are gaining momentum.

 At the same time, Utah and Kentucky want to charge women with murder for having a miscarriage.  In Utah it stems from a case in which a woman paid someone to beat her in order to cause a miscarriage.  Horrible, yes, but for the vast majority of women, a miscarriage is an awful experience. To go through that and to then go through a court case because they didn't take all possible steps to protect the pregnancy?  The law (which has actually passed the Utah state legislature and is with the governor) allows for life in prison for intentional, knowing or reckless act that leads to a miscarriage.  Wow, how vague is that?  Could a woman get life for having a glass of wine?  Not wearing a seat belt?  Fall down the stairs?  What if she had to overexert herself to save her living child?

Regardless of your stance on abortion, both of these movements seem not only ridiculous, unconstitutional, and totally impractical, but also extremely anti-woman.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I Made Dinner!

Guess what?  I made dinner the other night.  That's right, me! 

Kate posted a recipe for brussel sprouts on her blog a while back that I had been dying to try.  Eric wasn't feeling well and usually that means he won't eat much, so I decided to make his least favorite veggie.  I decided that I'm not a mature enough cook yet not to measure, but I still thought they came out pretty good, you know, if you're into that sort of thing.

I also made some chicken to go along with it which was REALLY good if I do say so myself.  I cut a chicken breast into bite sized pieces and threw them in a pan with about a quarter cup of olive oil and soy sauce, maybe 2 tablespoons of honey and a clove of chopped garlic.  Saute until done and voila, pretty decent chicken.

Eric didn't finished his brussel sprouts, but I let him go to bed anyway.


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