Yes, I know 

It is not often I forget I married a geek. I don’t generally have any issue with this but some days I do wonder. I came home from work Saturday (yes, Saturday and no, I haven’t changed jobs) to find some … activity in the house.  

 It seems Bob not only got a new gadget (which we refer to as his girlfriend) and he decided to rewrite the lights in the house to be voice operated curtesy of said new girlfriend. Her name is Alexa, by the way.  

 I will almost admit that this gadget is fairly cool. Hooked to the internet it can tell me the weather, news, definitions and, thanks to Bob’s wiring, turn on and off the lights in the house. I will say, however, that if he gets too many more packages I may be tempted to bring home another furry creature. Tempted. But I’m not quite that crazy … Yet.

  Bob did want to take his drone out this weekend (did I mention I married a geek?) and I used the opportunity to practice with the new camera. We decided to get an actual good camera with interchangeable lenses. My cell phone camera works well for most things, but with some trips bring planned and plotted, we decided we wanted something a little better. I did also practice with some food shots. 


 For most if the cooking pictures, I think my cell phone camera works just fine. (Top picture, cell phone, bottom picture, new camera.) But for more distance photos, the new camera is great. I haven’t played with the zoom lens yet, but so far so good.  

 The food, by the way, is yet another NY Times Cooking recipe. I found a number of recipes that look good, are easy to make and don’t include meat or fish. I very much liked this salad and it seemed a perfect summer meal. And it is rather pretty.  

If anyone is interested in helping one of my favorite small businesses, Louise at  Artisan Cheese Company she has applied for a grant from Chase. The first step to this is obtaining 250 Facebook likes. Louise is an incredible business woman who has some fantastic ideas for the grant money that would not only grow her business, but also partner with other local businesses to help Sarasota’s small business community. If you have Facebook and wouldn’t mind helping, Click here – every little bit helps.

Back to my regular routine … if Leia lets me do a little yoga tonight, that is. 


Vegetarian Grilling

Since I started cooking way less meat our grill has not gotten nearly the use it did when Bob wanted to eliminate grains. I do love a good BBQ, and really love good BBQ sauce so I miss grilling, especially this time of year. But last weekend, as I was perusing recipes, I came across one for BBQ tofu. This one something I had to try. 

 The recipe didn’t give any direction for cooking the tofu, other than to grill it, so I just went with how I would do chicken on the grill. I cut and dried the tofu, then brushed the BBQ sauce onto it while the grill heated. Once it was heated, I got the tofu on the grill and estimated. It looked pretty when it came off the grill, but didn’t have the sear I was looking for.  

 This, of course, led me to scouting the web for how to sear tofu. I now have a few methods to try, one of which looks particularly promising. Hopefully I will get to that experiment in short order.

But the dish. BBQ tofu a definite go. I did keep the extra sauce and next time we have Mom and Dad over I plan to use it on some chicken. I did pair this with the Brussels Sprout salad that has become a favorite around here for a lovely little dinner.  


Two Experiments

This week I vowed to cook and to experiment. As most people know just getting dinner on the table some days takes more effort than it’s worth. But, we were not getting our box the week, so I decided to make a concerted effort to cook. 

 On Saturday I spent way too much time reading recipes. I can read recipes like other people read magazines, books or social media. I find them relaxing and exciting at the same time. I made the Spinach and Chive shells Sunday and Bob had lunch most of the week with leftovers; Monday I tried a Hot and Sour tofu. 

Tofu has a bad reputation, but I actually like the stuff – not tolerate it, like it. A good tofu has a great texture and enhances the flavors of whatever you are eating it with. I fully admit, most of what I make does not have great tofu in it, but I still like the store bought stuff. The  original recipe calls for fish sauce, so I had to change this a bit. I also found snow peas instead of sugar snap peas, but that was fine. Other than leaving out the fish sauce, and reducing the jalapeño (don’t do that, by the way – the dish needs the heat) I was pretty true to the recipe. It was fast (a plus) and didn’t have leftovers (plus and minus) and was pretty good overall. Not the best tofu I’ve ever made, but a solid dish. It does need the extra element that the fish sauce probably brought, but I’m not nuts enough to try it.  

 Today I tried another new dish. The original recipe called for chickpea flour, but I could not find it in two different grocery stores, so I substituted semolina flour for this one. It makes the dish very different, but since we aren’t watching gluten, it worked ok.  

 So this is essentially a tomato and onion tart. The base is a pancake of semolina flour with egg whites (and water, salt and olive oil). The onions are cooked down with thyme (yes, I was impatient and didn’t let them caramelize enough) and a splash of white wine vinegar. The tomatoes are oven roasted and the whole thing is served with a dollop of creme fresh.  

 I liked this dish, but thought it would be better as an appetizer. Smaller pancakes, maybe goat cheese instead of the creme fresh, and  deeper caramelized onions would help. A few changes and I think we might have a winner. Don’t get me wrong, this was good, just not great.  But for an experiment at the end of a long work day and a long work week, I’ll take it. 

I have a few more experiments for the weekend. Hopefully one will be great instead of just good so I can add it to the make again pile. 


Spinach and Chive Shells

It can be slightly dangerous when I spend an entire morning reading recipes. It is especially dangerous when we don’t have a Hello Fresh box coming for the week. (I didn’t like the selections this week, so I skipped it, hence the need to figure out dinners for the week.) For most of Saturday I spent way too much time with the NY Times Cooking app.   One recipe I found, that was great for a Sunday so there are leftovers for a few days, was the shells. Spinach, chive and ricotta shells to be exact. They weren’t hard either. The original recipe called for a pound of spinach, but I only had about two or three cups, so that is what I used. The rest of the recipe I followed pretty much as is. So here is my version:

  • 2-3 cups baby spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 10 ounces ricotta
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan 
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • Giant shells
  • Tomato sauce
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

 I have to say, I was a little skeptical but they turned out really well. They have a nice balance of flavors, and the spinach and chives complimented each other well. Add a nice glass of wine, and it was a lovely little repast.

Mother’s Day Lunch

If you work in a school, this is the time of year that is nuts. Kids are done, even though they are not done, teachers are trying to get through the last few units, parents start panicking about the grades and everyone is counting down until summer vacation. Given that, I haven’t been as creative in the cooking department as I wanted to be, but I used Mother’s Day (and Bob’s birthday) to be a little creative. 

  I started with ribs. I accidentally picked up boneless ribs, but they can still work. I marinaded them overnight in a mixture of soy sauce, orange juice, brown sugar and ginger. This morning I braised them at 275 for two and a half hours. I think I should have done 250 for two hours – they were a little dry and not my best. I did add an Asian BBQ sauce that I had in the fridge and basted them with that while we grilled them, just for a few minutes, to crisp them up.  

  To go with the ribs, I made a pesto pasta. I had made this dish a week ago as a main course fir Bob and I, but I had extra led to and extra pasta, so I went with it. I read several jake pesto recipes and ended up mixing a few together. My version was:

  • 2 cups chopped kale, packed
  • 2/3 cup pistachios, shelled
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • ~1/3 – 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt to taste

Mid everything together except the olive oil in a blender and pulse a few times to combine. Slowly drizzle the olive oil in until you have a nice paste. It should retain some of the crunch from the nuts, but not be very course. 

 For a salad, I went with a version of an Asian Slaw. 

  • 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 1yellow pepper, sliced thin
  • Whites of 2 scallions, chopped
  • A few cups of shredded cabbage
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

I put all the vegetables, including the scallions into a bowl and mixed. About 20 minutes before serving, I added the dressing (the rest of the ingredients mixed together) and mixed it well then tossed on a few sesame seeds and greens of the scallions to the top. I also added the sesame seeds and scallion greens to the grilled and glazed ribs. 

  The final bit for lunch was a caprese salad. Louise included a cream filled mozzarella in our box this month and it was incredible. Light, but with a ton of flavor. Mom brought me a few tomatoes and I sliced those down and layered the cheese, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar between the slices. I forgot to take a picture of the whole plate, but you can see it in the final plate.  

 For a meal that was not planned with great detail, it came out fairly well. I was a little disappointed with the ribs, but overall, it was a lovely lunch. 

Life With A Geek

Shortly before we got married, Bob commented, “you know you are marrying a geek, right?” Yes, I knew. The multiple computers, multiple large monitors for said computers, the bins of parts “just in case” for computers and the dining room turned geek room gave me a clue. Bob is also one of those people who it is impossible to buy a present for because he just goes and buys it himself before you ever get the chance. I do have to say, however, he has taken this to a whole new level.

   When we went up for John’s graduation, I had to warn Mom not to look too closely into Bob’s ‘office.’ He had acquired a few new toys and it seems that each new toy also requires multiple spare parts and tinkering to get it exactly as he wants it. It is getting a little … cluttered in there. 

  First came the drone. Right about Christmas, I started looking at the little drones to get Bob for Christmas. Before I could figure out which one to get, I came home one day to Bob tinkering with a drone. A drone? Yes, he decided to get himself a drone. There goes that Christmas present idea. (And really, I only get about one or two good present ideas a year, so this just shot the whole of 2015 … Or so I thought.)  

  Next came the Wink. Bob decided he wanted to make as much of the house controlled via his phone as possible. The kitchen light comes on before I get up in the morning, the living room lights come on with sunset and turn off about the time Bob goes to bed. The air conditioning and the front door are wired. It is great when it works, but when I just want to turn a light on? Well. I have to find my phone, pull up the ap, and then I can turn a light on. It has benefits, but there are definite drawbacks to this. 

 I thought I had the best idea for Bob’s birthday this year. I thought I figured out something that he would love, be a cool gadget and he wouldn’t get himself. I was wrong. Apparently Bob had done something on Kickstarter a while back and he now has a 3D printer. I had finally decided to buy one; I figured out which one to get and where to get it from and before I can get to my computer to order it, Bob very excitedly shows me his new toy. He got himself a 3D printer. He has been printing some interesting things for his drone with his 3D printer  

  including mounts and casings for the components he bought for flying the drone. … Oh, did I forget to mention the components? A camera (or 2), googles, some kind of transmitter and I don’t even know what else. I do know I almost feel the need to talk with the FBI and assure them he is just a geek and not someone plotting to take over the world or overthrow anyone. But really, they are smart and have probably figured this out already. He is having fun flying it, which is good. But I do hope the neighbors understand.  


 Of course, Bob did not forget me in all this. 

 I got a 3D printed Hello Kitty. Now if he can just make the Cinderella slipper to go with it … 

So yes, I married a Geek. In all fairness, Bib married a nerd, so I suppose it all evens out. But I am thinking that his gadgets are requiring more space than my furry creatures and cooking equipment. … This means I can get more of one or the other, right? This may require some thought. 


The last couple of weeks have been busy. Very busy. I meant to do separate posts for some of the events, but with long hours at work, a sick dog, and some travel, it just didn’t happen. The work stuff is ACT testing. Lots of ACT testing. But it is extra money, so I see a pedicure and new pair of shoes in my future.

Our first celebration was alluded to in the last post – Laura and Dylan’s wedding. We flew up to PA, had our adventure to Slippery Rock for lunch, then did the family wedding stuff for the weekend. The weather was perfect, which is hard to do in PA in April. Sunny, 70-ish and perfect afternoon. The wedding matched the weather and we had a great time catching up with everyone and enjoying the day. Cause really, is there much better than a good wedding?  

    We made sure to get a good family photo since we all were dressed up and respectable looking. Sorry, Dad. We needed a picture. 

   This weekend John graduated with his MBA. He now has two masters (this one is useful) so I’m starting to think its time for me to return to school. Kind of. Not really, but maybe. It was a nice ceremony as far as graduations go, but I think we may need to replay the guest speakers speech and do a drinking game for the work “innovate.” It did remind me why I’m in education and not business.  
    I took the pictures here with my cell phone. Bob used the new camera – an actual good quality camer we decided to get for Germany this summer – to take more. Once I figure out how to get the pictures out of there, I might take some with both cameras and do a compare post. 

Finals will be here before we know it, so if I forget to post for a while, that is why. I’ll try to get the kale pesto pasta post up, but no promises. Thankfully Jessie is feeling better, so I should get some sleep this week which makes everything better.