Sunday, February 28, 2010

A little update

I think we found our house, matter of fact I'm pretty sure of it, but there's still some things to think about;

I'm still slightly sick, but so much better. Hubby let me sleep 10 hours last night, bless his heart;

Jessica did an awesome job looking after our place and the precious meows - thank you!!

I hate money;

I miss Matt something fierce and can't wait to see him in 24 days;

I had a great time in Washington, and can't wait to go back. Permanently.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sneezy, Sniffly, and then some

The last week or so I've been slightly sneezy and sniffly, but usually spring starts in February here in LA LA Land, so I attributed it to allergies. Unfortunately, I caught a chill on Saturday night as Kari M. and I waited for the subway in downtown, and by Sunday the chill turned into a sore throat complete with sniffles and sneezing. I guess my body was trying to tell me that I was sick, but obviously I wasn't paying attention.

This morning the sore throat is gone, thankfully, but it's unfortunately been replaced by that classic nasal tone, and the sneezes and sniffles are still visiting. I don't think I'll make it into work today, which sucks because I could use the hours and the cash. But hopefully tomorrow and Wednesday I will make it in, and I'll just tack on a few extra hours to make up for the time I'm missing today.

I'm also hoping this cold will be completely gone by Thursday as I'm flying back up to Seattle to continue the house hunt. I'm excited, but not exactly hopeful. Our house is out there, but who knows when it will appear. Right now, I just have to stay open minded to all possibilities.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I'm not one for making my own spaghetti sauce. As one reviwer on this recipe said, "I always gravitate to buying the jarred sauce." It's just easier. But after making this meal last night with my good friend Rian, I think it's going to be much more exciting and fun to make my own spaghetti sauce.
And the meatballs. Homemade meatballs. Heaven. Just. Heaven. Bye bye frozen meatballs, HELLO homemade. Everything just tastes better when made from scratch. I have to remember this!
Click here for the recipe.

This meal goes well with a hearty Pinot Noir.

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's a better day...a little better...

It's the nights that are the hardest. And it hit me yesterday why I'm really struggling with all of this.

He's a writer, yes? He works best from home which means he's home all the time. And while it would be nice to have a dining room table now and then, for the most part, it's a huge comfort just being around him. But now? All his stuff his gone. His "desk" is cleared off, so many of his clothes are missing from the closet, and little things are missing from the medicine cabinet. It's weird and I really don't like it. It's quiet all the time, and I actually miss having cable so I can have some background noise to keep me from feeling so alone.

Yes, Dahli, I must keep my chin up. Nine (now eight) days are close by, and I'll push through. Thanks Emilie and KT for your comments, to Paige for checking in on me, and to Pastor Sue for offering to keep me company. I have an awesome support network. The best of friends.

You guys are awesome.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Keeping it together

I don't know where that strong woman went, but now I seem to be this emotional little girl this morning, struggling to keep myself in check. I dropped Matt off at the airport this morning, and even though I am going to get to see him in just 9 days, it feels like I won't see him for six whole weeks. I feel alone, and overly emotional. Thank god for a part-time job, the church book-club, and activities to do later in the week. Otherwise I'd probably spend my time curled up in bed with tissues all over and hungry cats meowing incessantly.

Focus...breathe...I'm going to be FINE.

Where is this coming from??!!

*Deep Breath*

Really, I'm going to be fine, just fine. I know it.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Our last full day before I'm a film widow for 6 to 8 weeks.

The Chumash Valley, one of two vista points, outside Solvang.

Solvang at dusk.

What do you need wine for when you can go to the beergarden?

11 years together and still going strong. Love you, sweetie!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Planning Ahead

My mother-in-law has a fantastic quote (albeit annoying at times when I just want life to work out my way): "Life is what happens when you're making plans."


It's enough to say that searching for a house is stressful. Add to it that we're 1000 miles away and the only way I can really see houses is through the internets. I am stressed out, emotionally drained, and just want it to be over with already. And what's worse is that I can really plan anything more than a few weeks ahead because I don't know if we'll find that perfect place or not. I can't plan to see my family who's visiting Seattle at the end of March, because I could be packing up our place by then. I don't know when Matt will be back from shooting, so we can't plan the Grand Canyon trip, and even if we could, we don't know if we'll be moving by then.

The point is, I just don't know and it's driving me nuts.

In the meantime, I'm just trying to enjoy L.A. and not think about moving. Right now all I can do is search for a house, because without a house, moving isn't involved. Today, hubby and I are going to the Huntington Gardens, and then out for a cheap dinner. Or I might make something. Who knows? Tomorrow is full of chores and laundry, but today, I get my hubby all to myself.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Barley Pilaf Stuffed Squash

The last few deliveries we've received from Farm Fresh To You have included Butternut Squash. I'm not familiar with squash - the varieties available and when, how to cook it, and the impossible task of peeling off the tough exterior. One reason why I love this particular recipe so much is not only is the stuffing absolutely delicious (and healthy to boot), I don't have to peel the squash!

This recipe is from a fantastic cookbook called Almost Meatless. I heard about it from my friend Katy, and was so intrigued I used my birthday money to buy a copy. It's written by two women, one a meat loving carnivore, and the other is a former vegan. While meat is still used in the recipes, far less is used than in most cookbooks. The focus is on healthy eating for you and for the planet.

Barley Pilaf Stuffed Squash
from Almost Meatless
Serves 4

  • 2 small butternut squash, or 1 large squash, halved, seeds scooped out
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup (about 1/2 ounce) dried porcini mushrooms
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 1 cup barley
  • 4 ounces sweet Italian sausage (or your favorite flavor)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (about 4 large leaves)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375F.

To prepare the squash, rub the insides with the 1 tablespoon oil, salt, and pepper, and transfer toa large roasting pan that will fit all the pieces without crowding. Roast in the oven, cut side down, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the squash is fork tender.

Meanwhile, to prepare the filling, let the mushrooms steep in the hot water in a medium saucepan for about 15 minutes. Remove the rehydrated mushrooms, chop, and set aside. Bring the soaking water to a boil, add the barley, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the barley is cooked through.

While the barley cooks, add the 2 teaspoons oil to a saute pan over medium-high heat. cut and remove the sausage casings and crumble the meat into the pan. Cook the sausage until it begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, shallot, sage, and cranberries, and reserved mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes.

Drain the barley through a mesh strainer and add to the sausage pan. Add the vinegar and stir to combine thoroughly with the rest of the ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm until the squash is ready.
When the squash is done, remove from the oven and stuff the craters with the hot barley mixture. Sprinkle with toasted pecans and serve.

Bon Appetit!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Gratitude #25

1. A good night's sleep.
Oh my goodness, how much this helps. I haven't slept well since we got back from the holidays in Seattle. You see, I sleep with earplugs in here in good ol' Glendale because our bedroom faces a very busy street. Couple that with crazy, nutty cats running around in the middle of the night...well, white noise from a fan just doesn't cut it. So after a month of trying to sleep, trying to adjust to the noises...I couldn't take it anymore. And my friends, the last 3 nights have been blissful. I am waking up ready to go and refreshed, it's so awesome.

2. My cookbooks.
We had to wipe my computer a few weeks ago, and with that all of my recipes that I had saved in my MasterCook program disappeared! So, it's back to the basics, of searching through my recipe books for easy yet healthy and tasty recipes. I am so glad I have such a variety. I'll never get bored, that's for sure. Remember how I used to collect stationary? Well, now it's cookbooks. Matt is fine with it, as long as I make a recipe from each one at some point, whether it's today or 20 years from now. I think I can hold up my end of that deal.

3. Capacity to step-up and be an adult.
Remember when we were little and being grown-up seemed so incredible? We could do anything we wanted at any time, carefree and able to drive to boot! Well, now I know it's not that simple, most of the time I still feel like that 15 year old girl who's unsure about everything. But yesterday, I set her aside. You see, I heard through the grapevine that an old college roommate's spouse had a rare stroke (and they have three little girls). She and I didn't get along so well, for reasons now that I've forgotten and must be unimportant. I messaged her through facebook, saying how sorry I was to hear about her husband's health, that I wished him well soon, and that I hoped she was alright. She quickly responded updating me on his condition and how sweet I was to contact her. I felt all warm and fuzzy inside, knowing that stepping up and getting over myself was the right thing to do.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Meatloaf and Broccoli Cheese Bake

Need I say more? Let's get to it already...

From my Comfort Food Cookbook
Serves 4

1 thick slice crustless white bread
3 cups freshly ground beef, pork, or lamb
1 small egg
1 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 beef bouillon cube, crumbled
1 tsp dried herbs
salt and pepper

*I have used ground beef and ground lamb on separate occasions. I vastly prefer the ground lamb version.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Put the bread into a small bowl and add enough water to soak. Let stand for 5 minutes, then drain and squeeze well to get rid of all the water.

Combine the bread and all the other ingredients in a bowl. Shape into a loaf, then place on a cookie sheet or in an ovenproof dish. Put the meatloaf in the oven and cook for 30 to 45 minutes until the juices run clear when it is pierced with a toothpick.

Serve in slices with your favorite sauce or gravy, mashed potatoes, and green beans.

Mushroom and Cauliflower (or Broccoli) Cheese Bake
From my Comfort Food Cookbook
Serves 4

1 medium head of cauliflower or broccoli
2 oz butter, plus 2 tbsp for the topping
4 oz white mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper
1 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley

Preheat the oven to 450F.

Break the cauliflower into small florets. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and cook the florets in the boiling water for 3 minutes (if you're using broccoli, you can just steam them until they are fork tender). Remove from the heat, drain well, and transfer to a large shallow ovenproof dish.

Melt the 2 oz of butter into a small skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, stir to coat, and cook gently for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add to the cauliflower. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Combine the bread crumbs, cheese, and herbs in a small mixing bowl, then sprinkle the crumbs over the vegetables.

Dice the butter for the topped and dot over the crumbs.

Place the dish in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden brown and crisp. Serve straight from the dish.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Upcoming Recipe Posts

Tuesday night we had meatloaf and a broccoli cheese bake.

Tonight we had stuffed butternut squash with this wine.


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

All by myself...(almost)

As most of you know, Matt is gearing up for JourneyQuest. He leaves on Tuesday for six to eight weeks, leaving me at the helm (aside from my own trip at the end of the month to look at more houses). So with the impending desertion of L.A. for colder and wetter pastures, I've decided to make a list of things I'd like to do before I leave while he's gone. It's been pretty fun, actually, and there's quite a few things I'll miss (like 70 degree days in January).

Something else that he's left me in charge of that I'm looking forward to - a trip in late March/early April when he gets back! I can't wait to have time with hubby, especially when he gets home after being gone for so long. We were trying to figure out how to make wine country work, but it was just too expensive. Then, on Sunday, it hit me.

"Have you ever been to Arizona?"

*he thinks* "No."

*gleam in my eye* "We're about a six to seven hour drive from the Grand Canyon..."

And we knew, right then, that was our destination. And I'm so excited!! Just at the possibility. And I'm determined to have it be more than a possibility. I have always wanted to see the Grand Canyon, and I know I'd be wistful if we moved before I'd had a chance to see it (kinda like when I lived in Philadelphia and never went to New York City). Leave it to me to find rooms for under sixty dollars a night! The room must have a fridge of course, for all the food we'll bring in our cooler, and if breakfast is included, all the better. Of course, we don't know when he'll be back exactly, but having something to look forward to, aside from returning to the Pacific Northwest, is keeping me distracted from being all by myself.

And last, but certainly not least, congratulations to Jenny and Kevin (and Patrick too) on the arrival of little Fiona!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Squash: To like or not to like...

...that is the question.

When I was a kid, mom had a plentiful garden and grew all kinds of yummy veggies and fruits. One particular "thing" that I was never fond of but never disliked completely was squash. She'd steam and serve it with butter and brown sugar, which was fine, but the texture just always threw me off a little. I mean, I was a kid. I'd eat pretty much anything with sugar and butter. :)

Fast forward 20-odd years later and here I am faced with what to do with these butternut squashes we get from our organic food delivery service. I've never cooked squash, and was stumped as to what to do with it besides chili or just put it in my fruit bowl and let it look pretty. Thankfully, a list of recipes is included, and this one caught my eye. (Yes, Cindy, I took pictures for you!)

Butternut Squash Tart
Serves 12

Courtesy of Farm Fresh to You - contributed by April Paye

1 butternut squash (cut into 8 parts, seeded and peeled - note - I was able to make two tarts)
1 9 inch pie crust
3/4 cup evaporated milk
2 medium egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 T light brown sugar
3/4 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t ground nutmeg
1/8 ground cloves
1/4 cup chopped cranberries or blueberries (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F. In a large pot, steam squash pieces until fork tender (I steamed mine for about 20 minutes). Drain and mash with a fork or blender.

Press pie crust into 9 inch pie pan. Set aside. Transfer 3/4 cup of the mashed squash to a food processor or blender (reserve any remaining squash for another use).

Add milk, egg whites, sugars, spices, and puree until blended.

Spoon mixture into prepared tart shell.

Bake 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. When cool, garnish with fresh, halved berries before serving, if desired.

The finished product!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Results. NOW.

**Disclaimer: I'm grousing, no need for advice. I just need to get this out. **

We've made many cuts in our finances these last few weeks. The savings will show up. But I want to see them NOW. I'm not a patient person when it comes to money. I'm just not patient in general.

And we've really changed our lifestyle over the years. We have both made large sacrifices. I'm cranky, grumpy, and not wanting nor able to make any more changes. I want to see results for the efforts we've made. Is that too much to ask for?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Gratitude #24

1. Savvy Computer Techs. I'll be talking to one soon about getting my computer hooked up to NWAG's server and inventory system. Fingers crossed that all will work out smoothly. At least he responds to my emails in a timely manner, and I'm grateful for that.

2. Reconnecting with old friends.

3. Deodorant.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Cuban Grilled Chicken Salad

With Matt and I getting this weekly produce delivery, again, it's just making and encouraging us to eat better. And I have to say I'm surprisingly satisfied!

Unfortunately, our avocados weren't quite ready for eating yet, so we had to make do without. This salad pairs very well with a hearty Viognier.

Also, I put the pineapple on the side rather than on the salad. It was a delicious dessert!

Cuban Grilled Chicken Salad

  • 3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 (6 ounce) avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 3/4 cup canned black beans, drained
  • 3/4 cup diced fresh or canned pineapple
  • 2 cups cooked chicken meat, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  1. Toss the romaine with the onion, avocado, and peppers in a large bowl. Divide among four salad plates. Top each salad with a mound of black beans, some pineapple chunks, and the chopped chicken meat.
  2. Whisk together the olive oil with the garlic, salt, and pepper. Drizzle this dressing over each salad along with a little lime juice.