Saturday, December 28, 2013

Week 1 Monday (1/6/14)

Willow, Becky, and Sage
         In the month of July of 2013, the movie Julie/Julia repeatedly played on different channels.  I watched it so many times that I felt as if it had been calling to me personally. I went so far as to order the original book written by Julie Powell, as well as the movie on DVD. I ordered the Kindle version of the book and it finally arrived.  Excitement grew and I began reading it immediately and decided to begin following in her footsteps. 
         One of my personal favorite chefs is Ree Drummond of Oklahoma.  I love her blog, books, and TV Shows.  My friend, Megan Mkrtschjan, introduced me to her work and blog last year. Just as Julia Child taught Julie to cook, I hope to enjoy the same challenges by working through Ree’s cookbooks and recipes.  I, however, will not go in order but will select a recipe a day from either Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl, Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From my Frontier, or the fabulous recipes from her blog and show that are not yet in a cookbook.
         I have enlisted the help of my niece Brandy and nephew Cory who have volunteered to be critics as well as my wonderful friend Nicole whose family of four kids and two adults will bravely taste my masterpieces. I will also have guest critics from my friends and family such as Norma and Ron Connelly, Alaina Erd, and Jenny Anderson.
         I strongly recommend that you purchase Ree’s books and watch the television show.  Julia Child tackled French Cuisine that was formal and difficult to create.  Ree is a chef for what I call “real people with kids.”
         I cannot give the recipes in this blog because I am respecting the fact that the book has a copyright.  So now you really must purchase her books or just go to in order to create these scrumptious recipes.
         My deepest hope is that Ree Drummond, if she ever learns of this blog, is not insulted in the way that Julia Child was when she learned of Julie Powell’s blog.  Now that I am finished with Powell’s book – I think it must be something else that offended Julia Child. In the movie, Powell has obvious respect and adoration for Julia Child as a person and chef. Of course – that is the Hollywood version of reality.
         I have never been what I would call a fabulous or creative cook and am quite the persnickety eater.  I vow to try to follow Ree’s recipes as closely as I can (unless it interferes with my allergies). 
         Ok – here we go….

The Expert:  Mrs. Ree Drummond from the great state of Oklahoma 
She’s a writer, blogger, photographer, mother, and an accidental country girl

The Wanna Be:  Dr. Rebecca Scent from the state of Illinois
She’s an elementary teacher, dog Mom, gardener, college professor, crafter, organizer, and a wanna be better cook

         Originally, this blog was just about cooking reviews. However, it has taken on a life of its own.  Each week I will post entries on nine topics. The topics are:  Recipe Review, Why Weight?, Craft Corner, Random Reflections, My Gorgeous Girls, Gabbin’ About Gratitude, Irksome Ideas and Images, Fabulous “Family” Food, Helpful Home Hints, Trivial Triffles, Memory Musings, and Wants and Wishes. Hopefully, I will share some new thoughts and inform you of wonderful recipes. I hope you enjoy this blog.

Recipe Review

Today’s Recipe and Location:  Sour Cream Noodle Bake
         Added by Ree Drummond on March 16,2011 to the          website.  (Originally made by: Betty Daly)

         I discovered this recipe while watching Pioneer Woman on July 20, 2013.  It has everything that I love in it, beginning with ground chuck, moving to egg noodles, and ending with cheddar cheese. Ree’s recipe appears to be easy to follow.  This one says it will take about 30 minutes to prepare and cook.  OK – I have made my grocery list and am now off to the store to “get the goods.” Unfortunately, this will be an expensive trip because my cupboards were filled with a miniscule amount of basic staples and spices (that probably expired six or seven years ago).  I am replacing all spices and any outdated supplies to begin with a fresh start.  I am even using a marker to label the purchase and expiration dates on all new foods that enter this house. My cabinets are bare and ready to go.  This is a scary concept for someone who has micro-waved most meals for years.
         The recipe was extremely easy to create.  Because I am a single mingle, I halved the recipe and then once again so I can choose to create the meal for 8, 4, or even 2 servings.  Today I chose 4 portions.  I know Ree does not dwell on the calories because she has an extremely active family, but I have been counting calories and exercising. As of 12/28/13, I have lost 115 lbs.  I figured out the calorie count per serving for each recipe because I want to eat Ree’s amazing food BUT limit the quantity. Ree focuses on creating the best tasting food, which is what I want, but I must keep track so I don’t overindulge. I made this recipe as written but changed the way to serve it.  I chose to use individual ramekins so that portion size is already made and ready to go.
         Ree was right on with the prep and cooking time.  My reaction was that this dish was creamy and sooooooo good. It was just what I was hoping for in a casserole.

Today’s critics:  The Serpico and Lehman Families

         The Serpicos: Nicole, Gigi, Marissa, and Michael Serpico.
Marissa said, “It looked really good,” and both Michael and Gigi agreed. The kids thought it tasted like lasagna and was creamy and cheesy. Nicole shared, ”The cheese made it a little tangy and it had a good consistency.”  Michael ended the review with: “I want another bite!”  The shared dish was gone in less than a minute. Nicole also made it for her dinner a week later because the kids really loved it! A new favorite – thanks Ree! 

Nicole Serpico

         Brandy Lehman: “I had my second helping and it was even better probably because it was in the fridge for two days and the wonderful flavors melded together.” A true winner!

Brandy Lehman

Craft Corner

         I love creating new things, but I am creative not artistic. I wish I had that artistic gene because having to draw is actually painful for me. Apparently, this deficit has been with me since childhood because my eighth grade art teacher told me, “You should never draw in front of another human being ever.” This pretty much ended any attempts at drawing for this girl. I did however discover I could copy other people’s ideas and that I am pretty good at crafting.
         Today I want to share something that I created in 2002.  My Mom had a canvas in her condo that was quite modern. I loved it but the colors were all wrong for my house. So I ripped the entire thing apart and started over with different materials. I took Japanese paper and ripped it in a variety of sizes. I then, wadded it up and hot glued it to the canvas.
         It took me about two weeks to finish because I only worked on it at night when I got home.  I really love this piece because I have never seen one anywhere else which makes it unique.  I think I love it even more because it brought me great joy to work on it and hang it on the wall facing my front door.
         Don’t be afraid to create something new.  It can bring you great joy and fulfillment. 

Random Reflections

A nice quiet drive in the country has many benefits. You can free your mind from all the day-to-day pressures that you live with and just enjoy the serenity and beauty of the scenes around you. My girls and I were off to Sandwich, Illinois for a visit to my Vet/Groomer. I was going west on Jericho Rd. when I had to pull over immediately. There to my right was this fabulous, enormous barn. It was rundown, with broken windows looking quite forlorn, but it called to me.  I let my mind imagine turning this huge structure into a home. The ceilings would tower over the rooms and the shape of the home would be amazing. Rarely do barns have this many windows on the side so the rooms would be bright and cheerful. The home would be massive with probably 6,000 or more square feet. I imagined using a great deal of wood in its design. I know it would be warm and cozy with a massive fireplace as a focal point. Of course, I would have to win the lottery or become independently wealthy in order to build such a structure but it was a wonderful 10 minutes just sitting and dreaming.  Who knows?  Maybe my next calling is to locate sad, forgotten buildings and bring them back to life.  It’s always nice to dream…..

Wants and Wishes

         What do I wish or want?  I was amazed that I had trouble making a list. If I want something I usually just save up my money and then go and buy it.  I am really good at delayed gratification.
         So gosh – I’m going for World Peace.  It seems so cliché’ but when else am I going to dress up like a pageant queen and proclaim this overused phrase. Of course, we all want world peace but maybe we need to start a little smaller.  How about guarding our borders but focusing our time and money on making a great life for every American? Let’s clean up our own problems before we go out and help other countries in their civil wars. 
         During this holiday season let’s focus on making people smile and just doing some simple acts of kindness for each other.  Then we’ll move to the bigger problems that face our citizens. 
         So go forth and make someone smile today!