Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bittersweet Days

We're moving into a new home. I'm so excited to be moving, but at the same time am very sad to be leaving my kitchen behind. Although the new house has a wonderful kitchen, complete with a wall oven and drop-in cooktop, two things that I've always wanted, I'm still a little tearful. Maybe it's because we had to work hard to make the kitchen become what we wanted it to be. When we moved into the house, there were no built-in cabinets, only a stand-alone cupboard, an old Hoosier & an ugly metal-base sink. We made it work for a few years & then we could afford to update. Now the kitchen has beautiful creamy white cabinets complete with a correspondence desk, rich green countertops, a dishwasher, new hardwood flooring. It's absolutely beautiful. But more than the redo, I think I'll miss all the firsts that occured for me there. Even before the remodel, I cooked my first Thanksgiving turkey, following Martha Stewart's recipe for a perfect bird. I made my first perfect stuffing, using my mother-in-laws' recipe. I also had my first kitchen disaster: for our very first party a few weeks after our wedding, I put chicken wings that still had some ice crystals on them into the deep fryer, causing grease to overflow onto our just refinished floors. It's the kitchen where I made batch after batch of holiday Chex Mix after my grandma retired from it. I could go on & on but I won't. I'll take all my memories along with me & hopefully make as many great memories in our wonderful new home.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Foodie BlogRoll

I'm now a proud member of the Foodie Blog Roll. To get your blog added, go here.

Oh My! Chai

I am in love with Chai (pronounced as a single syllable and rhymes with 'pie'). I'm sure most people reading this know what Chai is, but for those who don't, Chai is a spiced milk tea that has become very popular. It is made up of black tea, milk, various spices including cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves & sweetener. It has replaced my usual latte when I stop at the coffee shop or bookstore & I usually keep a few varieties on hand at home. My favorite blend, which I discovered last fall, is from Tastefully Simple. For an even better treat, I mix it with hot milk instead of water. It's become like aromatherapy for me - the minute I smell the warm spice blend I feel relaxed & calm. It has a soothing effect & is perfect for a night in front of the fire with a good book or any time you want to relax. I just finished a cup & it's still 95 degrees outside.

Other good brands to try at home are Tazo & General Foods International Chai Latte (use milk, not water with GFI brand).

What's your favorite chai drink?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Talk With Your Mouth Full

Dan & Steve finally have a cookbook coming out! Talk With Your Mouth Full: The Hearty Boys Cookbook is set to be released October 1st. I've been a fan ever since I first saw these great guys on the first season of The Next Food Network Star. They both have great personalities & cook wonderful dishes. Hopefully they will do a book-signing tour somewhere nearby.

Baked Beans & a Family Reunion

It was a perfect day for a family reunion yesterday. Despite the heat wave we're having, the shelter was cool & there was a nice breeze blowing throughout the day. Everyone had a great time & I enjoyed talking to some people I don't get a chance to visit with very often. At one point, I looked around at all of my great-aunts & uncles, laughing & reliving times past & then glanced down at my niece, sitting beside me with her head on my shoulder. I wondered what it would be like when she's my age & I am part of the older generation remembering times gone by. I hope my generation keeps this yearly event going, even when the people that bond us together are gone.

I don't fix baked beans very often, as it's not a dish I'm crazy about. But that's what I ended up fixing yesterday, along with Cheesy Chicken Noodles (AKA chicken spaghetti, which is a perfect dish for potluck picnics). We didn't have baked beans a lot when I was growing up, but I loved it when mom would serve "Big John brand Beans & Fixins" (does anyone remember those?). I looked through my recipes & came across a recipe my great-aunt Betty had given me for Naomi Judd's baked beans. The recipe is quick & simple, but the end result is rather ordinary, nothing people would talk about.

Baked beans is also on my menu for Mike's birthday party on Friday. If anyone has a recipe they'd like to share, let me know!


12 slices bacon
1 large onion, diced
2 cans (28 ounces each) pork and beans
¾ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet, cook the bacon over low heat until crisp, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the bacon to paper towels to drain, and then crumble. To the hot bacon fat, add the onion and cook, stirring until softened, about 4 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the crumbled bacon, the onion along with the bacon fat, and the pork and beans. Stir in the sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard. Scrape into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish and place the dish on a baking sheet. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake in the 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil & bake uncovered for 10 minutes.