Sunday, March 28, 2010

Recipes #25 & #26: Shalom!

(68 recipes to go.)
Java with my girlfriends at Off The Leaf Coffee Bar is a marvelous way to start the day! And on this particular morning, I brought along a snack that deserves a posting of the recipe. Latkes, in honor of Paige & I attending the Shabbat service at the Synagogue the previous night. (It was interesting! Between the Hebrew, Torah, & meeting with the Rabbi; we learned a lot about Judaism!) Plus, I just finished a couple books about Anne Frank & latkes, so I was definately in the mood for a Jewish treat. They were as easy to make as they were delicious!
Apple Cinnamon Latkes:
Process 1 egg, 3 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and 1/3 c water for about 5 seconds, until well mixed. Add 1 1/2 peeled & quartered apples. Pulse 2 or 3 times. Add 1 1/2 more peeled & quartered apples and 1/2 c flour. Pulse several times then process 15 seconds. Heat 1/4 c vegetable or melt 2 tbsp margarine in pan. Spoon 1/4 tablespoon of batter for each pancake, into the frying pan. Fry until the edges are brown. Turn with a slotted spatula and brown the other side. Remove and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle 1/2 c cinnamon & 1 tsp sugar mixture over the warm latkes. Enjoy!
This weekend's lone cookbook recipe was the Herb Crusted Filet Mignon with Port Wine Sauce,being as Travis was intensely craving steak. (Yeah, only one recipe due to this beautiful weather not leaving much time for cooking!) And, ooh yes, this was as scrumptious as it sounds. A great indulence that we accompanied with a repeat recipe; Walnut Gorgonzola Salad from Recipe #22. We (especially Travis) love that combination of mixed greens, onions, apples, cheese, walnuts & dressing! Mmm, good meal...
~Rating of Filet Mignon with Port Wine Sauce: Travis gave it 8 stars (out of 10), and I gave it 9.
~Rating of Walnut Gorgonzola Salad: 8.5 stars (out of 10).
~Quote of the day: "I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out." -Anne Frank
~Music while cooking: UFC fights & Amazing Race.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Recipe #24: Twenty-Four recipes down, SEVENTY more to go!!

Yep, I've got my work cut out for me, don't I? Upon counting the remaining Chico recipes, imagine my surprise in discovering SEVENTY untouched delicacies! How in the world did Julie Powell (from the Julie & Julia Project) manage to cook 524 recipes in 365 days? "Deranged assignment," is a good description she mentioned in her blog. :) I did some more counting folks, and it seems I've done just 24 recipes in 56 days. At this rate, it'll be a full year-long project! Good thing I'm feeling ambitious...
Today's recipe was the Baked Brie with Huckleberry Coulis. It was such a delightful little treat, we invited my parents over for a sample. "Oh that's kinda rich," my dad kept saying. I thought it was great! One problem I had while making it though, was a bit of confusion when using the puff pastry shells. I'd never used them before, and wasn't sure if I should roll the dough before "gently wrapping the pastry around the cheese as if wrapping a present" or use them straight from the box. So I tried both options (see photo). In the end, it didn't seem to matter, cause they looked pretty much the same once they were baked.
After nibbling this little treat we joined some family & friends for an afternoon of two-steppin' at a Fiddlers Jamboree. Uncle Don and the band from our wedding were playing, and Travis was very ecstatic there was some club soda with lime to sip on! We had such a fun & funny time. My dad said he was "burnin' up the dance floor!"
And now, I'm about to review some stuff for work since I'm presenting to the State tomorrow. You know what that means; early early morning and a long long drive. How is it the weekends always go by SO FAST??!!
~Rating of Baked Brie with Huckleberry Coulis: 6 stars from Pa, 7 stars from Ma, 8 stars from Travis, & 8.5 stars from me.
~Quote of the day: "I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose." -Woody Allen
~Music while cooking: Les Miserables.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Recipe #23: Left To Tell

At the last minute, I was able to attend "Bringing Hope To The World: Affirming The Culture Of Life." (Thanks for the ticket Sue!) I was SO EXCITED about this powerful conference since I recently finished Left To Tell, a book written by the keynote speaker. Have you read it? This is an AMAZING story, told by an INSPIRATIONAL woman who survived the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. She managed to secretly hide in a tiny bathroom with 7 other women, for 91 days, with hatred & killings occurring around her. Can you even imagine? I mean really, can you? I just can't fathom the magnitude of horror & fear this woman endured! The author, Immaculée Ilibagiza, not only survived this devastating nightmare, but is now regarded as one of the world's leading speakers on peace & faith. And I see why. If you ever get the chance to hear her speak, do it. She has a great presence. The entire room was quiet, all eyes fixated on her words, as she shared her experience. And a very good question was raised, "How can smart people cause pain?" There's just really no logical reason to hurt others physically, emotionally, & mentally. On many levels, it doesn't make any sense! Do unto others as you want them to do unto you? Mind-boggling how this Golden Rule can be forgotten. Or overlooked. So horrible to feel such betrayal at such an intense level. Immaculée said she was able to see how the murderers let their minds grow, but their hearts did not. She looked into the lost souls of those who killed her family, and found forgiveness. And in turn, found FREEDOM. An amazing, amazing story.
There were other remarkable speakers at this conference too; discussing controversial issues like capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia, & social justice. It was all pretty thought-provoking. Great messages on the power of prayer, how our actions impact others, social teaching, world peace, & moral dimensions of public issues. (And another thank you goes out to my father who so kindly drove my Left To Tell book, that my mom was borrowing, to the conference for me... and Immaculée signed it!)
So what did I eat following such a profound day? Travis & I cooked the Bacon Leek Sundried Tomato Quiche, he is quite fond of quiche. And this was pretty darn good! We also donated to a Rwandan orphanage, and you can too by clicking here.
~Rating of Bacon Leek Sundried Tomato Quiche: a firm 7.5 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "We have committed the Golden Rule to memory; let us now commit it to life." -Edwin Markham.
~Music while cooking: Silence, pure silence. Until Travis looked up from the bacon he was frying, "Shouldn't we be listening to something French?" We cranked up some Les Misérables. (I saw this musical when I lived in St. Paul, and we sang the entire soundtrack in 8th grade choir, so it brings back some great memories!) We also listened to a CD called Spirit of Africa.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Recipe #22: Happy Belated St. Paddy's!

Okay, okay. This is the second holiday this year I'm celebrating behind schedule. What's up, 2010? Better late than never, I guess... On the actual St. Patrick's Day I did wear green and had a corned beef & cabbage lunch, so I was off to a good start. But by the time I got home from work, all I wanted to do was play outside instead of slave away in the kitchen! Especially since the news guy kept saying it would be the last of our nice weather for awhile (as it turns out, he was right)... And wouldn't it just be my Irish luck, I got caught in a windy rainstorm a few blocks from our house! Thankfully, my knight in shining armor (Travis) pulled up on his trusty steed (truck) & whisked me back to the safety of our castle (house), where we dined among royalty (our cats) with a fancy meal (spicy sausages)! Thus, ending any ambitions I had for celebrating my smiling Irish eyes. (Especially when I saw America's Next Top Model was on!) So tonight we finished off the St. Paddy theme with Irish Soda Bread, Chico's Walnut-Gorgonzola Salad (its green), grilled deer steaks (they sounded good), and of course, Horns Irish Lager (dyed green). Oh those silly Irish traditions. And, on my way home from work on this belated holiday evening, I picked up some psychadelic flowers to brighten up Travis' medical leave. Unbenownst to me, he'd just finished up his most recent leather project; a gorgeous wallet for me! Well done Travis, well done. Happy Saint Patrick's Day all ye lads & lasses!
~Rating of Walnut-Gorgonzola Salad: 8.5 stars (out of 10). Yeah, it was that good.
~Quote of the day: My husband at the gas station, "Where's your sparkling water section?" "Our what?" says the bewildered cashier. I'm sure she's never been faced with this question before. "I didn't see any Perrier or Calistoga or even any club soda," Travis seemed seriously concerned. "Look man," the gal explains, "we've got plain water, pop, gatorade, & beer. Anything fancier, you won't find it here." Hubby got a plain water.
~Music while cooking: Irish Draft.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Recipe #21: Butter me up!

Monday + daylight savings throwing off my groove = quick dinner. Tastefully Simple's Lemon Pepper Linguini With Clam Sauce was on the menu tonight, and it was sooooooooo good. And easy. Just what I was looking for. We turned it into a creamy pasta by adding cream cheese, crab, tomatoes, parmesan, & zesty LEMON. -That's a habit we've picked up from the cookbook; we now squeeze lemons & limes on everything! And have you sampled the flavored olive oils at Copper Colander? I highly recommend them. The jalapeno one has a great spicy taste, so we included that into our meal as well. To knock off another Chico recipe this evening, we made the Garlic Butter, & smeared it on crackers for a magnificent accompanyment to the clams. Mmm, now we're cookin'!
And on a side note, nearly a week after surgery, Travis is getting around pretty well now. He was even a chef yesterday, grilling deer steaks for dinner -marinated in Italian dressing- and sizzling up deer sausage omelettes for breakfast -with fresh eggs from Zach's family. (And extra garlic too, Travis made sure to mention, to keep the vampires away, after watching a tribute to my '80's teen heartthrob Corey Haim in the thriller The Lost Boys!)
Two words for our "deer/butter days;" MUY DELICIOSO. Oh how we love, love, love food.......
~Rating of Garlic Butter: 7 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "Triumph is just 'umph' added to try." -God's Little Instruction Book.
~Music while cooking: Phantom of the Opera.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Recipe #20: American Pie-athon

A marathon of American Pie movies, just screams for homemade pie, doesn't it? As does this original, one-of-a-kind, vintage-inspired Puddin' Tane apron! So, in between "one time at band camp" stories and the song "Into The Mystic" (which was our first dance at our wedding, and yes, we really did select it from the American Pie series), I whipped up the cookbook's cherry pie. Add a dollop of vanilla bean icecream & my 1950's housewife dress, and we were ready for an afternoon of laughs! Oh and, lets not forget Travis' current obsession. Move over Orbitz gum, this guy is now in love with Perrier Sparkling Mineral Water with lime. He even called me at work yesterday with the "emergency" of running out of this beverage, and then called again to say he got my mom to bring him some! :) I was cracking up; he's had 10 large bottles in the last 4 days!!
~Rating of Cherry Pie: 8 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "We'll just tell your mother that... we ate it all." -American Pie.
~Music while cooking: Led Zeppelin's IV, and American Pie I.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Recipe #19: Chicken Soup For The Soul

Well, it was red pepper soup, actually. But the loving, caring, nurturing ingredients were still in there! "Gag me with a spoon" is what some of you are thinking, right? -A bit lovey dovey, perhaps.- But watching my mother in action today, I totally see where my caregiving skills come from! We had a long day at the hospital, while Travis had his hernia surgery, and she was in a constant flutter when she met us there; hugging former coworkers, introducing her "handsome son-in-law," tucking Travis into his covers, telling stories,... Her morning walk evidently left her quite energized! :) She & the hospital staff made us feel well taken care of.
Once we got back to the comfort of our own home late this afternoon (and Travis took up residency on the couch), I resumed the caretaker role and began making the Roasted Red Pepper Soup for my hungry husband. Soup; its part of Dr. Hancock's many orders. I thought it'd be a simple task, but there were several steps involved, including me learning how to take the skin off a bell pepper! I should've read the recipe more carefully beforehand, and saved it for a day I had a bit more time to spare. But I must say, it turned out really good with all the veggies in it. (Especially the shallots, we've been using a lot of shallots lately.) Most importantly, my patient really liked it!
America's Next Top Model & I kept Travis company as we slurped up this thick, comforting soup. He's still on the couch right now, on movie #3, sipping his new favorite Perrier Sparkling Mineral Water with lime and preparing for a lengthy recovery. Good thing we got some household projects outa the way before he went under the knife, like selecting a new dishwasher and taking down our Christmas tree, cause I can definately see how he'll be out of commission for awhile! Yes, I said Christmas tree. Don't laugh. It may be March, but I tell ya, we worked so hard to cut that sucker down, we were holding on to it as long as we could! And. It. Just. Wouldn't. Die. (You can see it proudly standing a few days ago in the background of Recipe #16's photo.) Definately got our $8's worth for the tree permit, as this lovely pine has stayed fresh for THREE MONTHS! Not nearly as long for Travis' full recovery, we hope... :)
~Rating of Roasted Red Pepper Soup: 8 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "You treat a disease; you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you'll win, no matter what the outcome." -Patch Adams.
~Music while cooking: MP3 player on shuffle.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Recipe #18: Soak up the Sun

Yeah, that's right. The warm, brilliant, magnificent sunshine has followed us through the week. Those pesky rumors about snow didn't happen, so taking advantage of this spring-like weather was a must! I even stopped at Spring Creek Park to feed the ducks while walking to the gym on this beautiful morning. Walking and talking actually, since I used that time to catch up on voicemail as well. Travis cleaned out his boat, while we enjoyed a nice visit with his stepdad Ron in our sunny yard. And just like the weather being out-of-the-ordinary, so were our food cravings. We were all over the map. Started out with cereal & leftover steak for breakfast. Had some fancy tomato soup (fancy as in sundried tomatos, half & half, cheese, & parsley added to it) & grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. Sunkist, girlscout cookies, & cheezits for a snack. And for dinner? Well, that was the cookbook's Pine Nut Squash baked nicely in the oven, while Travis had the great idea of roasting HOT DOGS outside in our fire pit. Hot dogs & squash? Yep, we agree, that's a weird combo. But it fit perfectly into our day. We did slightly tweak the recipe, cause for some reason the grocery store was out of butternut squash, so we used banana squash instead. It was good; sweet like a dessert!
~Rating of Pine Nut Squash: 7.5 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." -Abraham Lincoln.
~Music while cooking: Urban Cowboy soundtrack, & The Mozart Effect.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Recipes #16 & #17: big juicy steaks

On such a pleasant Saturday, we selected a meal that complimented our easygoing feeling; sundried tomato steaks and the mushroom/pepper sauté. Beef is actually a rare occurance for us, since we almost always eat wildgame, so off to Albertsons I went for some fresh cuts. This was after a lovely morning with my mom, spent visiting Uncle Ed & cousin RaeNell and shopping at World Market & Birds Unlimited. My good mood carried on at the store. "Two for one on the sirloin steaks?" I asked the butcher. Yep, it was my lucky day. He wrapped 'em up, I finished my shopping, and Travis & I goofed around in the kitchen making the two recipes. And boy were they good. We served them on paperplates with plastic utensils, being as our dishwasher took a dive. Normally I don't mind doing dishes by hand, mainly because I have a fantastic set of diva dishwashing gloves, but my darling husband detests this particular chore. So until we select our new appliance, we're trying to cut down on the amount of dishes we actually use. No plastic frying pans? Darn it anyhow, we just can't escape that sink full of soapy suds to scrub away the grime. (Although we have worked out a great "he wash/I dry" system.) And, after all this talk of doing dishes, we didn't even do any after this meal! Ha! I'm sure our dishes didn't mind waiting til today for a bath, being as we had people to see & places to be! We went our separate ways for the night; Travis hung out with the boys doing ranchwork in Silesia, MT and I went with the girls to the Scottish play Brigadoon. Which by the way, was a high school production, and they did a marvelous job! Strange to wander Skyview's halls after SIXTEEN years (oh my), but fun to reminisce with my BFFs. And I'm gonna keep an eye out for future high school musicals, cause what an inexpensive form of entertainment we've stumbled upon! Everyone joked this could become a little creepy, at age 34, to hang out at high schools. But how fun, for a mere $8, to sing along with some Grease numbers! Or any other catchy tunes I may find..... ("Uh well-a well-a well-a HUH! Tell me more, tell me more. Like does he have a car...." -I just can't get that song outa my head!)
~Rating of sundried tomato steaks: 7.5 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of the mushroom pepper sauté: 7.5 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "I'm highly attracted to you. Why, when I look at you I feel wee tadpoles jumping in my spine." -Meg in Brigadoon.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Recipe #15: Yellowstone Chicken

This recipe is the whole reason I bought the cookbook! I’ve been very anxious to make it, so what better place to give it a try than at the family cabin in Old Chico. What makes this dish so unique is how it uses actual river rocks while baking. Yellowstone River Rocks, to be exact; hence the name Yellowstone Chicken. I grabbed a couple rocks at our ol' fishing spot along the Yellowstone River this particular morning, when running to the Emigrant Store to get a vanilla cappuccino for me & flu medicine for Travis. I of course scrubbed them really well, since Travis was extremely fearful of salmonella! As described in the book, the purpose of pre-heated rocks is to seal in the moisture and flavors of thyme & rosemary by using a short cooking time on a high temperature. And evidently this works! Such a scrumptious meal, just the way I'd imagined. And on a completely different note; is it too morbid, like Silence of the Lambs or Saw horror movies, when we fed leftover chicken to the chickens? They'll eat anything! Even their own, apparently. And trust me, that's as close as we get to anything gory. We can't even sit through an entire scary film.
Before heading home we swung in for a good visit with Uncle Frank in Livingston, MT. We'd made him a plate of chicken, but then worried it sat out too long, so we replaced it with the usual chocolate covered peanuts. He does love chocolate! And I love how he still calls me Bandana Anna after all these years. :)
~Rating of Yellowstone Chicken: 8.5 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "Love is a canvas furnished by nature & embroidered by imagination." -Voltaire.
~Music while cooking: Emigrant Creek, and Travis snoring during his nap.

Recipe #14: picnic in the mountains

After a bit of shut-eye in cousin Keith's cabin, I woke to nature's dramatic opening act, a brilliant sunrise peaking over the mountains. As Travis still wasn't feeling up to par, he slept-in while I went on a hike in the crunchy snow. I swear, my love for mountains was born in this very spot! After my little jaunt I began packing for home, thinking the hubby would prefer feeling nauseous in his own chateaux. But just as we were about to take an ill Travis back to the comfort of our own bed, the Dayquil & Gatorade must have kicked in cause he was starting to feel a bit better. Like a wilted flower getting a drink of water, he became -dare I say- perky?
We opted to stay a little longer and had lunch outside the cabin, in the warm sun, right under the "Clayton's Gold Rush" sign. I've sat on that deck a million times, but I gotta tell ya, in recent years I've seen a whole lot more than just Emigrant Peak in front of me! Funny how a person can look at a familiar view over & over, but "see" something different each time. On this afternoon, I had amusing visions of Grandma squatting behind the garage when the climb to the outhouse became too treacherous, Great Uncle Elvin's animated mountainman antics with an accent that always made me chuckle, & ol' cousin Jimmy who cussed like a sailor but made a point to tone it down in my presence while playing cards one evening. Such fond memories in this lil remote corner of the world; from Uncle Frank & Pa diligently transforming the rugged shack into a comfortable cabin to GOLD FEVER striking the men of this Clayton clan. And especially, the time my dad & I coasted all the way from Huckleberry Cabin on his trail bike that quit on us! Oh how we laughed!! And let's not forget; Pa & I making kool-aid out of the natural spring, Ma & I watching hummingbirds, and Travis & I having our very first Valentine's Day here with some delicious steaks. Ah, swells my heart with tenderness! But sadly, with the good comes the bad. And this mountain has a not-so-pleasant history too, like the tragic year my dad's cousins were caught in a fatal avalanche. -That remembrance will really stick with me, as the funerals were on my 25th birthday. It does coincide with a joyful memory, however, of Aunt Karen & Uncle Frank surprising me with a cake that day. Oh, Emigrant Peak, you've got a lot of stories on your hillside! (Thanks, friends, for traveling down my memory-lane-tangent with me. Really, I could just go on & on!)
Back to the recipe we experienced on this lovely day..... We had a delicious Caesar Salad, jazzed up with chunks of pork chop left over from Chico's Restaurant the night before. The setting we ate in made it taste even better, I’m sure! To our suprise the air was not nearly as crisp as the salad, and we were able to shed our winter attire. In February! Since it was such a beautiful day, the type of feel-good day that really lifts your spirits, we decided to go on a little drive further south (after we'd visited with the neighbors & chased some chickens). We found ourselves in Gardiner, MT, the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park, in the mood for some exploring! And is it just me, or was the sky extra blue this day?! Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. We saw some deer, elk, & bighorn sheep during our little excursion. And the unseasonably warm weather felt so good, we ate ICECREAM! By the way, for those of you perched in a more tropical climate wondering exactly how warm is WARM in wintery Montana; it was nearly 50 degrees. Reason to rejoice!
~Rating of Casesar Salad: 7 stars (out of 10) We were delightfully surprised, the anchovies/dijon mixture in this dressing was actually good.
~Quote of the day: "If one really loves nature, one can find beauty everywhere." Vincent Van Gogh
~Music while cooking: Emigrant Creek

Sampling Chico

Well since I’m blogging about Chico’s recipes, it would only make sense to dine at their restaurant! Actually, we’d planned this trip loooooooong before the blog idea popped into my head, but this outing kept getting pushed back on account of alotta goings-on. So with Travis' surgery quickly approaching, we figured we better get outa the house while we can!
After a funfilled bday party this day (where we indulged on spectacular cake & mints- and good company), we finally ventured out on the 2-hour drive to cousin Keith's cabin, just a few miles past Chico Hot Springs Resort & Day Spa, tucked in the Absaroka Mountains of the ghost town Old Chico, MT. Travis was hunting there last November, but I haven’t been up since New Year’s Eve last year. I cherish this area, lots of family history & good memories. In fact, one of my very earliest memories was crossing the creek with my parents in front of Great Uncle Elvin’s cabin (well, it was definitely a shack back then) when I was about 3. My rowdy great uncles were even mentioned in a book recently written about this region. Oh if those cabin walls could talk, they've got tales to tell!
We settled in that evening, then drove down to immerse ourselves in Chico's relaxing mineral pools. I love those pools. Surrounded by Paradise Valley's scenery, lounging in the "ceee-ment pond" -as The Beverly Hillbillies would say. It always makes me feel like I've stumbled across a luxury oasis or some sort of hidden gem! The steam, the water; they felt extra therapeutic this night. Minds unwinding, staring off into the snowy horizon. ...Aaah, sounds great after the work-week, doesn't it? If only we lived closer, we could do this more often! One little glitch in this particular retreat though; Travis began feeling a little under the weather just after we got there. Poor guy, even sipping 7up didn't ease the upset stomach. Following our thermal soak (And anyone who's experienced wet hair w/ frigid air knows how excited I was to don my new swimming turban!), we strolled over to our reservations at the elegant dining room of Chico’s restaurant. By this time, Travis really wasn't feeling well at all, so we were on a mission to order, eat, & get outa there. I selected pork chops (it'll be interesting to compare these with our own homecooked version) and Travis had the rack of lamb (almost as delicious as our interpretation on Recipe #12). For appetizers we slurped down some Oysters Rockefellar (they were slightly baked instead of raw like the ones we enjoyed with Recipe #8), had the Classic Spinach Salad (like Recipe #10, but with less dressing), and of course nibbled Chico's famous Fennel Breadsticks (we look forward to recreating these someday). The waitress was empathetic to my husband's pale face, "Would you like some club soda with lime?" It didn't seem to help much, other than delighting him in discovering a new favorite beverage. So after our fairly quick, yet delectable, dinner (with fantastic service & ambiance too, I might add), we headed back to the cabin to put Travis to bed. As we wandered past Chico's Saloon, we took in the cool mountain air and retro bluesy sound of the band The Shuffle Bums. They were pretty good! But in combination with Travis' queasiness, those slumber-inducing pools and an eventful week made us feel quite tired. We didn't linger in the parking lot very long; it was ADIOS frenzy party atmosphere, HOLA rustic cabin comfort! No surprise, we were quickly lulled to sleep by the solitude..... Gracias Chico, for making our plentiful dinner after the Rice & Beans Project so fulfilling.
~Rating of Pork Chops cooked by Chico: 8.5 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of Rack of Lamb cooked by Chico: 8 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of Oysters Rockefeller cooked by Chico: 6 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of Classic Spinach Salad cooked by Chico: 7 stars (out of 10)
~Rating of Fennel Breadsticks cooked by Chico: 7 stars (out of 10)
~Quote of the day: "Always act like you're wearing an invisable crown." -Author Unknown.
~Music while eating: restaurant chatter

Monday, March 1, 2010

Recipe #13: The Rice & Beans Project

Hungry? I bet you can have a decent meal set in front of you within minutes; leftovers from the fridge, a Hungry Man in the freezer. Even Pizza Hut is just a phone call away. We certainly live in a land of plenty, surrounded by abundance and easy access! But, as we all know, there are many places in this world less fortunate and the food is scarce. Hence, we did the Rice & Beans Project this past week, a reminder of how lucky we really are. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time now, despite my husband’s playful protests. And my intentions were re-sparked recently when my college roommate mentioned a similar experience in her Making Disciples At Home blog. (Merci beaucoup Katherine!) The plan was simple; trade seven plentiful dinners for rice & beans. Why rice & beans? This is not only the staple food for the majority of the world (more than 50 percent of the world's population is dependent upon rice for 80 percent of its diet- according to, but it is also a cost-efficient way to save some money. By the end of the week, even my resistant husband had to agree, donating the money we saved on our grocery bill to the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund was well worth the "sacrifice." (Click here for info about donations -including rice & beans- that are helping people in Haiti.) This little Caribbean country easily became our choice for donating, being as their need is so highly publicized right now. Whether it be an overseas area or right here in our neighborhood, we tend to donate/volunteer to whichever cause "moves us" at the time. And well, I guess this natural disaster has caught our attention. Each night this week we highlighted a particular region (Thanks for being a good sport Travis!) to further raise our awareness. Here’s what we ate:
  1. Sunday: Cajun-style white rice with Blue Runner New Orleans Spicy Red Beans, & water. (Travis gave it a thumbs down, but I found this simple meal to be rather good.)
  2. Monday: Chinese-style fried rice with green beans, & water. (Yummy!)
  3. Tuesday: Haitian-style white rice with kidney beans, & water. (Travis liked this better than I did. Adding ketchup seemed to help drown out the potent clove taste.)
  4. Wednesday: India-style Shere Khan Basmati Rice (from World Market) with the Chico cookbook’s lentils, & water. (Playing dress up was slightly more fun than the actual meal.)
  5. Thursday: Cuban-style Vigo yellow rice with black beans, & water. (We took this to my parents' house, and Travis was thrilled to eat it along with the spaghetti dinner they'd prepared! And, my dad cracked us up when he joked, "If you've been eating that many beans this week, then maybe you shouldn't come over!" HA!!)
  6. Friday: Mexican-style Vigo yellow rice, black beans, sautéed red peppers, jalapenos, onion, cheese, water, & some Dos Equis Lager to kick off the weekend. (And not the first time our sombraros have joined us for a meal. They turn dinner into a FIESTA!)
  7. (out of town Saturday & Sunday)
  8. Monday: African-style white rice with kidney beans, & water. (Chose this in honor of my coworker who leaves tomorrow for a 1-year journey in Rwanda. And yes Emily, as we talked about, it was indeed bland! Good thing you're taking along some treats...)

I highly recommend everyone give this Rice & Beans Project a try! It’s a chance to gain a tangible perspective on poverty and is a simple way of bringing an understanding to the complex issue of global hunger. It would be great in a lesson plan for kids! By the end of the week, we were definately tired of rice & beans, which was part of the goal in realizing how fortunate we are in our part of the world to have a bountiful supply of diverse foods. My husband & I agreed, this hands-on way of identifying with other cultures is an easy way to gain an understanding of (and a sensitivity to) global needs. And, its also a great way to be aware of (and donate to) worthy causes! We intend to make this an annual event!

~Rating of Lentils: 5 stars (out of 10)

~Quotes of the day: "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat…" Matthew 25:35. "At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality." 2 Corinthians 8:14.

~Music while cooking: Memoirs of a Geisha soundtrack, Lost and Found’s Something, Guitarra, Solitudes India, & Spirit of Africa.