Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Handy Market

The Handy Market

Line forms to the right of the barbecues

There's a place called The Handy Market in Burbank on Magnolia Avenue. It's just a little market with an antiquated sign that shows you that it's been a Burbank fixture for awhile. I've driven by it a million times on a Saturday, and seen smoke billowing and some kind of barbecuing going on in the parking lot. I've also noticed the line of people that is there all day long. I've often wondered what the deal was, and at the same time suspected this was a place I probably wanted to be some Saturday. It's basically just a little Mom 'n Pop grocery store that barbecues outside on Saturdays. So, yesterday, while our kids were off on high school retreat weekend, we decided to go check it out. We had the last DVD of the John Adams series left and wanted some good take out food to enjoy our show with.

We arrived and got in line on the sidewalk. You can tell you are amongst people that come there all the time. Everyone ordering seemed to know exactly what they wanted. We were asking some questions to ourselves, like, "I wonder where you pay" and the guy in front of us overheard us and chimed in "you pay inside the market." I tell you, you feel really cool and "in the know" being in this little line. You are telling the world that YOU know the cool place to eat in this town. People driving by are looking at YOU and thinking, boy that person knows something that I don't. Yeah, you've been coming here for years. You know the deal, and they can only wonder. Yeah, you're looking pretty cool in that line.

"Cool" people in line

The menu with the prices on the little piece of paper...great prices- chicken $2.99/lb!

The parking lot scene

The barbecued chicken cooking...

So when it was our turn, Rich stepped up, and ordered us a slab of ribs, a half chicken, and a grilled ear of corn. They grab what you order off the grill behind them, throw it on top of some heavy duty foil, and pour an exhorbitant amount of barbecue sauce from a big jug on top. You then proceed indoors to pay. If you want a tri-tip sandwich, you have to get that at the meat counter inside (the guy in front of us told us that too.)

So we proceeded inside, got ourselves a tri-tip sandwich, and a couple of 99 cent boxes of strawberries (in the cute little green mesh baskets) that looked nice for dessert. We went to the checkout, paid an amazingly cheap amount for all that we got, and headed home to enjoy our little sampler dinner. We got into our car and without delay, opened up the tri tip sandwich. It was huge! We took a big, messy bite...MMM. It tasted awesome- tender, smoky and slathered in yummy barbecue sauce.

Can't wait until we get home - gotta dig in NOW!

Messy but good!

At home, we had a taste of everything else. I have to say, my ribs are WAY superior, but the chicken was really yummy. In retrospect, I would have been happy with just half that huge tri-tip sandwich for $5.99. I'm definitely going to remember this place. Yeah, I'm a regular now. I'm cool.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Whatever - this is strange...

I found the following on someone's blog:

"Has anyone noticed how few letters it takes to change the Obama/Biden ticket to spell Osama bin Laden?

I'm not saying it was a conspiracy by Osama bin Laden to get someone into office (because that would be really dumb to have a name so close to his) but I thought it was really uncanny how close it is. Politics aside, this guy really has the name game going against him. Barack Hussein Obama? Not sure about anyone else, but the name "Hussein" just doesn't fill me with emotions of joy and admiration."

I don't know about you, but when I first saw the Obama Biden bumper stickers the first thing I thought was how close those names were to each other. Did Obama even realize it, I wonder? I didn't even think about how his middle name reminds us of Saddam Hussein either. That's icky.

Sorry for the political post- I just thought this was so strange... whatever!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Way Delicious Wednesdays - Garlic Fries

Rich had a craving for garlic fries last Friday night. I was going to make baked potatoes, but I easily switched! They are so simple and fast - you don't even need a deep fryer. Have you ever baked fries in the oven? If you haven't, you should try these sometime. I guarantee your kids will love them!

All you do is slice some large russet potatoes into french fry strips - we like ours on the thin side - a little thicker than In-n-Out. I leave the skins on - it's a good source of fiber and saves prep time. I spread a jelly roll cookie sheet with foil and spray it generously with Pam, drizzle on some olive oil, and then lay the potatoes out single file. I then drizzle on a little more olive oil, and sprinkle generously with kosher salt. I bake them about 30 minutes at 450 degrees. About halfway through, I flip them over. In the end, I broil the tops to crisp them up a bit.

While the potatoes cook, I mix up a little garlic topping. For 3-4 potatoes, I use roughly the following proportions: 4-5 Tbsp. olive oil, 3 cloves minced garlic, and 1 tsp. salt. I like to add a tablespoon or so of chopped fresh parsley to that as well since I have it in the garden - I like the green color on the fries. When the fries are done, all you do is plate them up and spoon the garlic mixture on top. YUM! If you like garlic and fries you have got to try these!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Visiting Sweet Suzie!

Suzie was fast asleep when we arrived....
Posing with Suzie (I don't think the flash worked here)

The nurse woke her up to be weighed and bathed...

Now she is pink, warm and cuddly again.

Rich and I got to go in and visit little Suzie at Huntington last night. If you follow my blog, you would know that she was born to Kyle and Stephanie Sanderson two months ago, a little preemie born at 28 weeks and weighing in just under 2 lbs. She has been through so much in her short little life, but has made quite a bit of progress, too. God has protected her in so many ways, through many ups and down, surgeries and procedures. There are just so many details involved in her care.

Suzie happened to get weighed last night during our visit, and was a whopping 5 lbs 2 ozs! I also got to see her have a little bath, which she was very alert and uncomfortable for - just like any baby would be! She is so cute/sad with her little cries. The nurse dressed her in an adorable pink coverall when she was done with her bath- precious. She has the sweetest little chubby face, a good amount of blonde hair and is so feminine. What a true little miracle she is. Here are some pictures I took. She is just a doll.

Please pray that Suzie would continue to progress to the point that she could come home soon. I know that staying at the Ronald McDonald house near the hospital is a blessing for Kyle and Steph, but there's no place like home. It's hard to be away from your home so long - you just get so homesick! Kyle and Steph are real troopers, and love their little girl so much. What a sweet family they are.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Way Delicious Wednesdays - Mimi's Muffins

This post is for Stephanie and Lindsay Tubbs - two darling young ladies our family loves. Their mom Luci told me that her daughters like to get recipes off my blog for their personal cookbooks. Since they dined at Mimi's Cafe this week, and Luci reminded me how amazing their bran muffins are, I thought I'd post a copycat recipe for that and another one of Mimi's muffin recipes.

First of all, I have to say- I just love muffins. I bake them often, and like to freeze them invidually wrapped to bring to church on Sunday mornings. (It helps me to not eat donuts - seriously.)

Muffins are easy and fast to make, are so inexpensive, and there are so many variations. Everyone loves them; it is like having your own personal mini cake. Nothing says "love" like a nice warm basket full of muffins.

The first recipe is for Buttermilk Spice muffins. The spices in these muffins are perfect with fall right around the corner. This recipe incorporates buttermilk, which I think is a dandy baking ingredient, but if you don't have any did you know that you can use regular milk - just add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice for each cup of milk and let it sit about 15 minutes before using. But do try to get the real buttermilk. Or rather, since no markets sell real buttermilk anymore, get the "cultured" buttermilk. I'm not exactly sure what that is... (It's about as mysterious as that "fat free" half and half.) All I can say is the texture of the muffins will be much nicer with it.

If you're not sure what to do with the leftover buttermilk, consider offering one of your kids a drink- it's good entertainment (Just kidding). But, seriously, you could stir some into some mayo, add a clove of minced garlic, some onion powder, dried parsley, salt and pepper, and WOW everyone with homemade buttermilk Ranch dressing. It works pretty good at my house.

The second recipe is for Mimi's Bran Muffins. Have you ever had one of these delightful creatures? You know, the type that are served upside down and have that sticky bun kind of topping? You know, the ones that you fool yourself into thinking are healthy because they contain the word "bran" in the title? (and you KNOW they are so sinful). I have made my share of bran muffins, but I have never found a recipe that came even remotely close to the kind Mimi's serves. Until today. Let me just say: MY LIFE IS CHANGED! I have to admit, this recipe was a little strange, but it delivered big time. Just one bite and I fell madly in love with these muffins. Unfortunately, the love isn't mutual. The recipe I used posted the Nutrition Facts (such killjoy) and I discovered these lovely little muffins weigh in at 500 calories each! Oh well, like I say, exercise and eat well.

Mimi's Cafe Buttermilk Spice Muffins
Makes 1 dozen

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup buttermilk, + 1 Tbsp. more

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter together with an electric mixer. When they are thoroughly combined, add the eggs and beat one more minute.

Sift the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon into a separate bowl.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, with the mixer on low speed.

Divide the batter evenly between 12 greased muffin cups. Combine topping ingredients in a small bowl and distribute the topping evenly over all the muffins.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Do not overbake!

Love, love, love.

Mimi's Cafe Bran Muffins
Makes 1 dozen

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons boiling water

1 1/2 cups dates, or raisins, pureed in food processor (measure before processing)
(I actually used craisins)
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used extra light olive oil)
1 1/2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup wheat bran
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

For the glaze:
Cream butter with sugars until fluffy in electric mixer. Beat in honey and water. Using a brush, coat bottom of 12 greased muffin tins with glaze, spreading it up the sides as well.

For the muffins:
Mix fruit, honey and oil until smooth in electric mixer. Beat in eggs, then buttermilk and bran. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together. Add to mixture and beat just till combined. Fill tins 3/4 full with batter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Do not overbake! Cool 2 minutes, and then invert to cooling rack.

Lastly, a word on spices. Years ago, my dad turned me on to a wonderful online company called Penzey's. They sell the finest quality dried spices, herbs, and seasonings at reasonable prices. I think even with having to pay shipping I am spending less than buying these at the store. I really love all their different seasonings for meat, chicken and fish. And their Ceylon cinnamon will change your life.

To begin with, I bought their 2.4 oz. jar size of a given spice (as shown above), and now I just buy their economical ziploc refill bags. I recommend you request them to send you a catalog, which also contains recipes that go along with their products. You will be surprised how much better quality the herbs and spices are than the ones you find at the grocery store. And, how convenient is it to shop online? Gotta love that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An Old but New Read

It is nice to get back into a regular pattern of family devotions. Rich is going to be leading us through the book of 1 Peter on select weeknights, and in addition to that, all of us are going to read The Gospel According to Jesus. This year, in honor of the 20th anniversary of this life-changing book, John released a special revised edition with an extra chapter. I am excited to re-read this treasure. It has probably been 20 years since I have last read it, and it is no doubt one of John's most significant books ever. I really look forward to our family discussing the book together.

In my homeschooling career, I've never been a big fan of "bible curriculum." I don't know, but I am hesitant to trust even "Christian" publishers and I don't like to treat bible knowledge like just another subject in school. My preferred method has just been to just assign great books of the faith for my kids to read. My kids have had the opportunity to read some pretty good books, by authors like Jerry Bridges, A.W. Pink, and of course John MacArthur. Let me know if you need a recommendation list, I'd be glad to give one to you.

With a new season approaching, I'm feeling inspired to curl up with a book and read. I feel like during the summer, I didn't read much that was very deep or challenging, and I really miss that. When it comes to sitting down with a book, I struggle with laziness and not wanting "to think" after a busy day. One way to discipline myself into reading again is to choose a strategic time of day and begin with 15 minute increments. If you don't think you have time to read, try setting aside just 15 minutes a day to read from a book such as this. You'll be surprised how much you will gain and how much you really do have the time to stop and take a spiritual breath of fresh air.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Silly Kitty

This morning, I set up the ironing board in the family room so I could watch Food Network while I plowed through my stack of ironing. I went off to go do something, and this is what I saw when I came back. I suppose I could use this as a really good excuse not to iron! How cute is he? This cat just cracks me up!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Today I'm thankful because my iron was high enough and I was able to donate platelets for Dan Gallagher. A few weeks ago when I tried, I was so sad to be turned away. So, I've been working hard to bring up my level, and today I was able to give successfully! Praise the Lord. I pray my platelets help Dan.

I have to say, giving platelets is a yukky experience. First of all, you should see the size of the needle they use! It has to be thick because platelets are donated in a very interesting way. The process removes your blood, separates out the platelets, then returns the blood to you all through the same needle at the same time. A milky-yellow bag of platelets is all that remains when you are done. An anti-coagulant is used in the process, which gives you an all-over weird body feeling and makes your lips and extremeties numb, cold, and tingly. By the end your arm hurts pretty good from keeping it still for 2 hours with a big thick needle in it! They ask you to squeeze a little stress reliever type ball every few seconds, and that just sends shooting pain up your arm. But, the amazing thing is, once you are done, you feel completely normal in about 15-30 minutes.

While it is a yukky experience, it is also a joyful one. Knowing that I am helping someone in this way makes my heart sing praise to God. I try to look at the process of a celebration of some sort. God has allowed me to be healthy enough to give platelets to someone else. So for me, it is a time of reflection on the goodness of God for the good health I am presently enjoying. How wonderful that I can have something to give that will literally sustain another human being. I don't mind the sacrifice one bit. And of course, when I think about what Dan is going through, I can certainly suffer through a couple hours!

Have you ever thought about giving blood or platelets regularly? Human blood and platelets cannot be fabricated. During Brady's battle with cancer, I was really enlightened to this need. My sister, Rich, and I have tried to be regular donors at the City of Hope since then. I know life is busy, so here's a wild idea for you - how about make donating a date with your spouse? Giving blood is really fast - the bag fills in about 5 mintues (of course there's processing time, which takes about an hour). I know City of Hope has extended hours on certain days, making an late afternoon donation possible, and I bet the Red Cross and other hospitals close to you might as well. Of course, they like you to eat a "hearty meal" after giving, so you two can have a lovely meal together afterwards.

Hebrews 10:24 ~ and let us consider how to motivate one another to love and good works...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Way Delicious Wednesdays Return!

I really have no right to post about food right now. Last night, I opened up 3 separate frozen plastic bags for dinner (all from TJ's): Orange Chicken, Stir fried rice, and broccoli. Pretty pathetic, but no one in my family seemed to care, so I got away with it.

One of the things I'm looking forward to most now that I'm back in a routine, is cooking. This was confirmed when I got on the scale a couple of days ago to survey the summer damage. Let's just say, there was damage. This is due, in part, to eating out a bit too much, camping a bit too much (funnel cake and s'mores), and frankly, not enough visits to the gym. Yep, I deserved it.

And, lately my iron has been low, so I'm trying to incorporate more honest-to-goodness meat into my diet. I guess this is a 40-year-old-woman-issue, as several of my friends are dealing with it as well. We're all trying different supplements and switching our diet a bit.

I'm going to try and give platelets again tomorrow for Dan, and by golly I want to be successful this time! I've been taking iron with vitamin C (helps absorbtion) and eating meat like mad! It's kind of funny to be looking for ways to eat meat. Just when you get away from red meat for health reasons, guess what happens to you? Your iron depletes. And just when you start loading up on calcium so you won't get osteoporosis, well, that depletes your iron too. Basically, a healthy high fiber diet rich in fruits and vegetables depletes your iron. Nice. Even SPINACH depletes your iron (it's true). So, I thought I'd share a great steak recipe to raise everyone's iron. If you get a good piece of meat, you will not believe how juicy and good this is for how simple it is to prepare.

It's really fast and easy. All you need is a nice Rib-eye steak, some salt and pepper, and a heavy cast iron skillet. (Well, and a baked potato and some steamed asparagus would also be nice.) I got this recipe from Alton Brown years ago, and my hubby loves it. It's definitely his preferred method of cooking steak. He's going to be more than happy to eat this more often, to help me of course. He's so caring that way.

(Sorry no photo, I'm not making this until tomorrow!)

Pan-Seared Rib Eye

Place 10-12" cast iron skillet in oven and heat to 500 degrees.

When oven reaches 500, remove the pan from oven and place on the range over high heat. Coat steak lightly with EVOO and season generously with salt and pepper on both sides.

Immediately place steak in the middle of the hot, dry pan. Do not move. Cook 30 seconds. Flip steak and cook 30 seconds more. Put pan back into hot oven and cook 2 minutes. Flip steak and cook 2 minutes more. Check to see if the steak is done to your liking. A minute or two more may be necessary if you like a little more well done steak. Don't overcook!

Transfer steak to cutting board, top with a little butter if you like and wrap loosely with foil. Let stand 2 minutes. Serve. Enjoy. Reap compliments.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

First Day of School - at home

I guess this officially makes me "cool" in my kids' eyes. What more could I want?

You might want to supersize these to read the t-shirts!

I make the distinction at home because we officially began school yesterday with a field trip - to Disneyland! Yes, somehow, Luci Tubbs and I got conned into making the first day of school a trip to the happiest place on earth. Well, maybe conned is too strong a word. OK, we wanted to go as much as the kids did.

Don't tell anyone, but it was the most perfect conditions for Disneyland yesterday - NO crowds, (every ride a walk-on) coupled with mild and sunny 85 degree weather. Gotta love it. I can't for the life of me figure out why people flock to Disneyland during the 100 degree summer along with everyone and their mother, to battle the crowds and wait in long lines for the rides. Yesterday was ideal and a fine way to begin the school year. The teenagers in our group made t-shirts that said "my mom's cool - this is my first day of school!" They were so excited!

So, this morning came and the kids were great. At this point, with the ages my kids are, I never have to fear the first day of school as a rude awakening. Drew had already started a couple of classes at the College of the Canyons two weeks ago, so reality hit him a little sooner (the poor guy had to leave our last summer blast in Carpinteria last week to commute to school a couple of days). Drew was off at 7:30 to school this morning, and after waking Emma up (she had a late night last night) she got right to work today on her three videos. Her science class starts tomorrow and next week she adds E.S.C.A.P.E. theater to the line-up. We are returning to routine...ahh.

So, for me the day signified the return of me to my former job of stay at home mom. Sometimes I forget that is what I am! We had such a busy summer of on-the-run fun. So, I was delighted at the prospect to stay home all day today and a lot more in the future. And then my dad called and invited us to go see Batman in IMAX tonite, and everyone jumped on that except me (I found the movie repulsive and disturbing- don't even get me started). So, I wind up getting the evening to myself as well. I can't remember the last time that happened. Wow. So many possibilities...hmmm I think I'll vacuum.

One last tidbit about this first day of school - today I learned how to install itunes, download music to my computer and onto my ipod! I even learned the playlist feature. I feel like I'm in the 21st century now! This of course is all thanks to Drew who was very patient and showed me how. Then I had great fun buying some of my favorite music - don't laugh now- the Carpenters, Olivia Newton-John, and an assortment of 70's and 80's oldies. This could change my life. I now covet those little itunes gift cards that my kids always get for their birthdays!!

So, as this monumental school year begins (Drew's last year at home), I am enjoying reflecting on the happy homeschooling years we've had. I know some of you out there in the blogosphere are busy homeschooling several elementary school age kids, and the workload is heavy, but let me encourage you that when you look back you will have not wished that you had done anything else. It seems like yesterday that Drew was bringing me "Frog and Toad" books to ask me what certain words were and now he is applying to the Master's College. Emma only has a few more years as well...and let me tell you if I could slow time down I would! I cherish the years homeschooling my kids, and thank God for leading us to it, sustaining me over the years, and just for the amazing opportunity that it has been for our family.

Happy new school year, everyone!