Tomato Kale Quiche

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I’ve been lax in the food creativity department lately. I would like to say something pithy as to why I’ve been lax, but really, this Ed Law class and work are keeping me busy. Add to that the stress of trying to get Leia and Arthas to get along (I’d settle for feel neutral feeling from Leia at this point) and well … dinner is what dinner is. What I can remember to make, that is fast and does not require a lot of effort or brain power.

But … but I did make a very pretty quiche this weekend. I went to the farmer’s market with Mom and picked up some tomatoes and kale. I saw this recipe and wanted to try it, so … with modifications, I did.

I followed the crust recipe fairly closely, but I used a sheep gouda for the cheese since I had it on hand. (Yes, I have weird cheese on hand – Sarasota has a lovely little cheese shop that I like to patronize frequently so my on hand cheeses tend to be … different than most people’s.) But I mixed the egg white, the rice and the cheese together with salt and pepper and pressed it into a pie pan. I baked it at the requisite temperature and then mostly cooled. I say mostly because I was hungry and impatient and the quiche itself has to bake for 45 minutes or so … so … mostly cooled.

The final product was good. Really good. I can’t wait to have leftovers good. There was enough cheese in the crust to get a bit of cheese flavor, and I added a dash of mustard to the egg mix for a little more flavor. It worked. Bob didn’t complain about the kale in this – he really likes eggs – and I got another vegetarian dish that, if not exactly fast, is still really easy to make. Win!

On the pet front … Leia took a mini vacation to Mom and Dad’s for a few days. Bob and I decided to give everyone a chance to relax and not be on guard all the time. I felt horrible doing it, but it was necessary. Leia came home Saturday morning and she and Arthas are doing better. She is still watching him intently a lot, but she has stopped stalking him and has not (knock on all wood available) attacked him since she returned. He is still ignoring her for the most part, so we are seriously hoping this works.

I mean, really.  Look at how cute they are? They are so good individually and I’m hoping they can get to be really good with each other. Leia took a little while to warm up to Jessie, so there is hope. And Arthas does well with the other two (and they with him) so we are almost there (fingers crossed).

 

Spaghetti and “Meatballs”

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I have been on a mission lately to make childhood favorite dishes, but without the meat. There was the mac & cheese, the tacos , a BLT sandwich, and a variety of pizzas that I have made over the last month, all in a vegetarian version. The quinoa tacos are still a favorite although the eggplant bacon is a close second. But pasta and meatballs is a little more difficult. Yes, I could go the soy crumble in sauce route and make “meat” sauce, but I really wanted spaghetti and meatballs, but without the meat.

So I found this recipe for zucchini meatballs and it intrigued me. The review were pretty good, so I thought I would give it a try. I do tend to forget to follow recipes exactly, and this was no exception. I missed a part in the very beginning about salting and squeezing the water out of the zucchini, but I made up for it later by shaping the meatballs with a paper towel and squeezing the excess water out then. I did do an initial squeeze, but it wasn’t enough.

So I started with two large zucchini and I grated them well, then squeezed out the water with paper towels.  To that I added the pecorino cheese (because I like it), the garlic, basil and panko. To that, I added an egg then salt and pepper. I mixed everything together then shaped the meatballs and pressed them with a paper towel again. They then got fried in olive oil for about ten minutes, turning a few times.

Since I was going for childhood food memories, I added tomato sauce and put the whole things over pasta.

img_1833This surprisingly worked. I was skeptical and thought for a minute or two we might be ordering pizza, but it worked really well. So well, in fact, that the leftover “meatballs” will become meatball sandwiches later this week! They have a different flavor and texture than meat, but the overall feeling is spaghetti and meatballs. And since that is what I was going for, I’m calling this one a success.

And I had to add the pet pictures.  Just cause.

 

A Very Fall Salad

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In my quest to find different flavors and to make something that I have not made a thousand times before, I found a few recipes for a salad with the flavors of fall. It may not technically be fall, but since school is back in session, I decided to go for it. Fall salad is here!

img_1822I started with a sherry mustard vinaigrette and then diced the apples and a little red onion and coated them in the dressing. From there, I added some dried cranberries, walnuts and a lettuce mix. To top the whole thing, I added a gouda cheese – a nice, nutty gouda that went perfectly with the whole thing. Yes, this was a simple dish, but it was something a little different than what we have been doing for the last few months, and it got me in the fall mood.

Recipe:

  • 1/2 apple of choice
  • bit of red onion, diced
  • handful of dried cranberries
  • handful of walnuts, chopped
  • ~2 ounces gouda cheese (or other nutty cheese)
  • lettuce mix

Dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoons mustard (Dijon)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • salt and pepper to tast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Make the dressing. Mix everything except the olive oil. Add and apple and red onion, toss to coat everything. Right before serving, add the olive oil to the dressing/apple mixture, and whisk. Add cranberries, lettuce and walnuts to the apples and dressing and mix together. Coat the lettuce, then plate immediately. Top with cheese.

Like I said, a very simple dish, but one that really works.🙂

What did Mommy do?

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I’ve come to the conclusion that I am destined to always have pets. Not just cats, not just a dog, but pets. When Jessie died I thought we would be dog-less for a long time. I didn’t think there would be another dog that I just loved as much or who would fit into the house as well. She is irreplaceable, but I’ve learned that there is enough love in our house for another dog.

I discovered this because I went to the local animal rescue to look at a dog whose eyes drew me in. She, however, is not good with cats, so I didn’t even meet her. I did decide to look around at the other dogs. They were cute, but they were not right for me. That is, until I came to one little guy in his run. He, unlike the other dogs, didn’t run, jump or bark when I walked by; he walked up to me, smelled my hand, licked once and laid his muzzle along my hand. My heart started to melt. I took a picture to show Bob because I was beginning to think a new dog would be just fine.

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Bob agreed to look at said dog the next day. He was a little concerned but we agreed that if either of us was uncertain we would not adopt him and be without a dog for a while longer. We didn’t take him home on that first visit together, but later that day, the dog who needed a home and a name was ours.

Welcome Arthas – the newest member of the household. He is a little under a year and a half and had a very rough beginning. He was rescued from a hoarding situation in February or March, was severely underweight and extremely timid. He has some scars from fighting for food, but they don’t detract from how adorable he is. The rescue did a phenomenal job with him and he is super friendly with people. He now needs to loose a little weight, but he walks well on a leash, and he likes to play, so that should help. He likes his walks and will go wherever you want him to go. He’s a little nervous around cars, but he’s getting there. He has also learned the dog door in a day and he uses it regularly!

He is also a little bit of a couch potato.

Arthas has very limited vision (so he fits well with the family) and is totally blind in one eye which means, in part, that he wants to sniff the cats. He’s not aggressive with them, but he is curious. Ms. Leia is not amused and right now we are working on helping her get along with him. She is getting better, but it will take time. Gracie and Tigger are fine unless he gets very playful, then they just go to our room and hang out where he can’t accidentally hurt them. I can’t say this is the smoothest transition ever, but we are getting there.

Jessie will always be my baby and will always hold a special place in my heart. But like the kittens didn’t replace Patches, Arthas isn’t replacing Jessie. He is just a puppy who needed a home and someone to love him. He was the right dog and has already wormed his way into our hearts.

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Happy September!

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It has been a month! August went by both very quickly and very slowly. Very quickly because there has been all kinds of excitement around the house with the Arthas now firmly ensconced with the family, and the kitties alternating between being ok with this and very unhappy about this. Mostly things have gone well, but every now and then we have an issue. It can be Arthas going on the ottoman in the living room and causing Ms. Leia to go ballistic or Gracie kitten brushing up against the puppy and him reacting as though she is going to hurt him. In those moments, I sometimes feel like a failure for not being able to solve this, and full of guilt for bringing a new pet into the house. But then Arthas or one of the cats does something totally cute and cuddly and I renew my efforts to make this work. 90+% of the time everything is fine … it is just those moments when it is not fine that I question pretty much everything. However, it has only been a month, so we keep going. In rational moments I remember that it took several months for Leia to be ok with Jessie, and given Arthas’s background, it may take more time than that for everyone to work everything out. I love them all and so we will make this work.

In the meantime, I have been back at work, and I finished my fourth class towards yet another degree, with the next one starting tomorrow. As in Tuesday. We also came through the tropical storm just fine. I had a harrowing drive home Wednesday and then didn’t go in on Thursday or Friday for fear of being swept away by flood waters. And no, I am no exaggerating about this. The roads were bad in parts and I am very lucky to be home in one piece after Wednesday. But … I got lots of puppy and kitty time over the last few days – and it will have to last me until November as the week of Thanksgiving is my next time off.

I have also been very …. well, very much in a rut cooking wise, so I am attempting to make things that are different yet still seasonal. We’ve spent the last three months eating tomatoes, corn and zucchini and I’m just about tomato, corn and zucchini’d out. Not that I don’t love those flavors, but I need something different. I do this every time the seasons change. I want new flavors, but I have to wait for them to be in season.  But I should have a few food posts up in the next few days. Not totally exciting, but still not bad.

Enjoy your September!

 

The Rest of Portland

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The stated purpose for the Portland trip was a beer festival. Val and Bill decided they wanted to see Portland and found a large beer festival to determine the timing. Since Portland has been on our list, and Bob loves beer, we decided to meet them out there.

So the beer festival. It’s big. There are a lot of beers and a lot of people. While beer is not my thing (see post on wine tour) I still had a good time watching everyone else enjoy their experience. And honestly, the people watching was pretty fascinating.

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In addition to the beer festival, we wandered around Portland and did a few of the things everyone says you should do when you go to Portland. We toured the Japanese Gardens, which were beautiful and serene. They are not as large as you might expect when looking at a map, but they do take you out of the city and transport you to a different place.

We had a number of recommendations to visit Powell’s Bookstore. This is the largest independent bookstore in the country and it is massive. Taking up an entire city block, and four or five stories, if you can’t find a book here, you aren’t trying. Or, if you are like me, you gave up because of the crowds and minor claustrophobia issue. Had there been a few less people, I could have wandered the aisles endlessly. But … I experienced and Bob found some books he wanted.

No trip could be complete without a good meal. Bob and I ate at Beast one night. This is one of the few restaurants that people tell you to try and you worry that it won’t live up to the hype. It lived up to the hype. The menu was light and refreshing and downright delicious. And for a restaurant called Beast, there was surprisingly little meat on the menu – yay! We also found a cute little place called Picnic House that had the best sandwiches. We also tried Higgins – a place not far from our hotel that several local’s recommended as a Portland experience. It was good, and the restaurant itself was very pretty on the inside, but it didn’t hold any magic for me. It could have been because it was our last night and I really just wanted to be home by this point. it could have been that I was tired from walked all day for several days. It could be that it was meat heavy and I had already had meat that week. It could have been any number of things, but it was good, not great.

So Portland … the city was interesting and I love the transit network and how walkable the whole city is. I’m not in a rush to get back to the city itself, but I really do want to explore the wine country more and some of the other natural areas outside the city. Maybe even check out the coast.

Wine Tour

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On our trip to Oregon the second thing I wanted to do was tour the wine country. I like a good Pino Noir and would love to dive deeper into wine, but Florida is not the place to do that. But, if we are going to be in Oregon where they do have a wine country, I want to take a day and explore. Despite this being a trip timed for a beer festival, Bob was in total agreement with the idea of a wine tour.

One of the first things I did was look around for a tour company. I knew I didn’t want to try to drive if I was going to be tasting wines, and I don’t know anything about where to go, or which wineries to avoid. I did a little research and decided to go with Backcountry Wine Tours. I liked that they kept all tours small and they specialized in wineries. A few other companies looked ok, but they did other types of tours, not just wineries and that made me nervous. I wanted to explore wine and the wine country so Backcountry it was.

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This was one of my better decisions. From the initial email exchanges to the tour itself, everything was perfect. We were able to let them know they types of wines we usually drink and what we wanted – which was really just a great day out. I know what I generally like, but both of us were up for trying anything. We ended up on a tour by ourselves (which was great, but I would not have minded other people either) so Jack – the owner of the company and our guide – was able to build the tour around us and what we wanted. After our first stop, he even changed where we went next based on the wine we liked at the first stop.

So the highlights of the day. I ended up liking a lot of wine which should not surprise anyone. But I found a pretty great white wine as well as some beautiful pinks and a few lovely Pino Noirs. But in addition to the wine, the scenery, the views, just watching the world go by as we drove around, was pretty specular. The highlight of the day, which I’m sure was planned by Jack, was Soter.

Soter takes the wine tasting experience to the next level. Rather than just popping in whenever and tasting a few wines, Soter schedules wine tastings. We were greeted with a glass of rose as we walked up to the main building. We had some time to wander around, see the gardens and appreciate the views before we were taken to one of the smaller buildings for a sit down wine tasting that also included some history of the region and the winery. And the wine was amazing. I could go on for several paragraphs about the wines themselves, but I will refrain. We loved this whole day, and Soter was an amazing way to end that day.