Monday, August 31, 2009

Big Things


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Taken Saturday. The Jeep is covered up and grounded...

Big things are going on. First of all, there's the fires. We are about 5 miles west of the Tujunga Canyon Fire and about 10 miles west of the La Canada/La Crescenta one. Saturday night, I woke in the middle of the night and the whole house smelled like a campfire. No windows were even open, it must have been drawn in by the a/c.

We see the huge smoke clouds by day, but once it is dark, we see the orange flames dancing on the hillside ridges against the black sky. Overall, our air quality is still fairly good, but sometimes the smoke gets really bad and you can't be outside. It is highly unlikely that we will be endangered by these fires, but it is disconcerting to see them so close, and to think of those who are threatened.

When we drove home from church last night, it was pitch dark and the fire looked frightfully close to us. Rich wanted to drive up on a ridge in Shadow Hills to get a good view. It was really eerie. Pitch dark with huge flames jumping hundreds of feet up to the sky. We pray this ends soon. Perhaps the Lord will use this to bring someone to know Him. He is at work!

And other big things are happening, too. Drew started classes at the Master's College today.

This sister was very sad to see her brother move to the Master's College dorms. She doesn't like a quiet house.

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Tell me, is her chin dimple not just the cutest thing?

Have you ever been so happy and so sad at the same time?

I felt like that on my wedding day.

And when Brady went to heaven.

And that's exactly how I feel right now.

I am so happy...

-that my son has Jesus Christ as his savior and wanted to go to the Master's College. What an amazing place not only for education, but more importantly, spiritual growth. I'm praising God for his amazing opportunity.

-that he is LOVING every minute of it.

-that he is really is capable of taking care of himself and be on his own now (I think).

-that I home-schooled him and maximized our time spent together.

-that he is the kind of person I would even miss. He's a great guy.

-that Rich and I finally have a bathroom all to ourselves. This hasn't been the case in 20 years! Amazing how clean it stays now...

I am so sad ....

-that he isn't here most of the time anymore. It now seems like a privilege to see him.

-that his room is empty. Not too long ago, two rambunctious little boys in bunk beds were told "be quiet and go to bed!" Now it sits ever so still and quiet and I wish for that racket!

-that he isn't kissing me goodnight anymore.

-and mostly, that he is all grown up.

Here's a shot of his new dorm - he's in Waldock. It's so small, it only took about 15 minutes to get him set up! His roommate didn't move in until last Friday because he's a Junior and only the freshmen moved in early for WOW.

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I was about to burst into tears when this photo was taken (hence the fake smile). All the parents were hugging their kids goodbye and taking pictures. It was very emotional.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

College Kick Off

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Childhood friends going to Master's College together....
L to R: Drew, David Devaney, Corbin Jarms, Luke Hardy

This photo was taken last night as we kicked off WOW Week with dinner at the Devaney's.

WOW WEEK BEGINS NOW!!!!



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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Not WDW...

Janzen Wedding- ELP 010

My sister and I have a saying when we don't like something - even non-food items. We say "that's not yummy." I think one of her boys said that a long time ago when he was little, in fact I think it was Austin when she fed him cantaloupe. He actually said "that doesn't smell yummy" ! So, I think we got it from that and we say it often. We also say it with a bit of a whine.

So, today there was something very not yummy in my yard. We awoke to peacock feathers strewn across our entire front lawn. And, then, to our dismay, a dead feather-less {partial} peacock was laying in a heap on the grass near the front door. EWWW! After Drew went out to feed the dogs, he said he found "the other half" of the peacock, so I went out to look. It had a head. And so did the other peacock we found. Hmmm. Quick thinking told me that this meant TWO peacocks were killed. Definitely not yummy.

We assume our dogs were the culprits. We have a chocolate Lab and a black Lab - the two gentlest girls on the face of the earth. But, a few weeks ago, they surprised us by grabbing onto an unassuming peacock in the yard and pretty much stripped it of its feathers before it finally flew away! Our dogs had never done anything like that - they are pretty much wimps and even are afraid of our cats. But, if it wasn't them, I don't know who it was. I'm thinking they have it in them, and besides, I don't really want to think about what else it could have been (have you seen the movie "The Village" ? 'Nuff said.)

So here's a photo of my son. He is a borderline germaphobe. He donned three layers of gloves to take this photo. But, he wasn't about to pass up this photo-op. He told Emma to get her camera, and that he was getting this right up on Facebook. And he did, with a status of "I killed these two peacocks with my bare hands." HA! Some people actually believed him.

So, since it's Tuesday and I have not prepared a WDW for this week, I offer you something absolutely culinarily repulsive (that's so not proper grammar!). I sent Rich the picture of Drew and his dead friends this morning via email, and he responded that I should make it my WDW, and suggested something like "Way Delicious Wednesdays with Roasted Peacock." I responded "in a possum reduction sauce?" as we had a almost-dead possum grace our Saturday morning last week. (My boys took care of him with the back side of a shovel.)

These things are definitely not yummy.

Maybe I should consider going back to my original blog name - "Country Living...Shadow Hills."

What can I say, it's just my life.

Have a great Wednesday!

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

WDW - Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

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OK, so I'm on a little ricotta cheese kick these days... I guess I'm still reeling over last week's ricotta biscuits. Then, I was reading a breakfast menu outside of Cafe Stella last week (when I was at Intelligentsia), and saw Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. Something just clicked in my brain, as it often does, and I just had to make them. Like ASAP. Like sooner than ASAP. It's like I can't rest if I don't. Sometimes this causes me to run out to the store, just to get a certain ingredient that I need. Or, even worse, I will actually go to the local liquor store to try and find something. That, my friends, is the ultimate desperation usually reserved for when I have poured my coffee and find there is no half and half left (no, I will not substitute milk, thank you). I know, it's a bit compulsive. It is probably a disorder, for all I know.

So, I used to have a ricotta pancake recipe, but I don't know what I did with it. Then I remembered Bobby Flay had a Throwdown show featuring pancakes...and his were Lemon Ricotta! Thank you Bobby! A little visit to
http://www.foodtv.com/ and I possessed his little gem of a recipe.

What is great about these pancakes is, while they are light and fluffy, they have a nice lowfat source of protein (and calcium!) so they aren't just a blog of carbs on-a-plate. These pancakes can really hold you. Normally, when I eat pancakes (white flour ones), I'm hungry about a half hour later. I just love the lemon flavor in these, and the texture is so nice.

I served these up with fresh blueberries and strawberries. The recipe actually called for warmed lemon curd and raspberries atop, neither of which I was fortunate to have on hand (unfortunately, the local liquor store doesn't carry those). Doesn't that sound amazing though? But, never fear, just plain butter and real maple syrup will make these perfectly divine.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

1 ½ cups flour
2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. sugar
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups milk
2 cups ricotta cheese (1 15 oz. container)
1 large lemon, zested and juiced

In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, and sugar. Set aside.

In a large measuring pitcher, combine eggs, milk, ricotta cheese, lemon zest and juice. Mix until well combined. Add dry mixture to wet and whisk just until combined.

Cook on hot griddle until golden on both sides.

Top with warm lemon curd, fresh raspberries, and dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Makes 16-18 4" pancakes

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Zankou Chicken

zankou


Tarna. Shawerma.

If these two words mean absolutely nothing to you, you obviously need to be informed about Zankou Chicken.

I met Rich for lunch there yesterday and because I'm a blogger, the first thing I think when I walk in is "Have I ever blogged on this place?" Wow, I can't believe I haven't.

Zankou is a great mid-eastern food place we've been frequenting for years. All the older locations are basically dives in not-so-good neighborhoods, but lately they have been expanding and have opened some really nice looking outlets. There is now one in Burbank (near IKEA) and one just popped up in Glendale on Glenoaks near Pacific. I must say, I am partial to the old location in Glendale (on Colorado Blvd., near Eagle Rock). And I have a reason. Not just because I get to drive by my old High School, Glendale High (it does give me warm fuzzies though). The main reason is because the Baklava house is just a few doors down in the strip mall Zankou is in. My life meal is made complete by eating one perfect piece of their scrumptious baklava. Theirs is simply the best ever. I am rather partial to the square one with walnuts - it is so juicy and practically drips with butter and honey with every bite ($1 each). They have so many types, if you happen to visit there be sure to get a variety to try.

We find ourselves craving Zankou pretty often. We usually order the Tarna plate (Rich & I share it - around $9). It consists of tender, flavorful shredded chicken, hummus (to die for), a tasty sesame (tahini) sauce, garlic sauce, pickled turnips (yum), and a lame little pile of shredded romaine lettuce mixed with underripe diced tomato. They also serve the plate with a couple pita breads. We usually throw in a small side of taboule ($2.50) and that is more than plenty of food for the two of us. It's fun to dip the pita in everything, balancing it out with bites of chicken, or if you're in the mood for order, make a sandwich with the chicken and condiments. Just be sure to slather their garlic sauce on everything (and make sure everyone in your party does, too, so you are not the only one to smell later on). I do not exactly know what is in the garlic sauce. Let's just say I don't really want to know for fear I won't be able to ever eat it again. I dare say it resembles the consistency of Crisco - OK, I'll just leave it at that for everyone's sake. They do have a sign that touts their food as "all natural" but like Rich says their idea of "all natural" may be quite different than mine.

Zankou has great wraps too. They make one out of their chicken (Tarna wrap), and they also do a Shawerma wrap. Shawerma is a marinated steak that they make on a big spit (you can also get a Shawerma platter). It's mighty tasty!

And did I mention their hummus is to die for?

And don't forget to try the marinated turnips!

And please put garlic sauce on everything.

OK, now you're ready to go.

GO!!!

schwarma

It's not fancy, but it's tasty!


P.S. I have made a new category on the right - it's called "great places to eat around L.A." I put all my fave places to visit in one spot for your convenience!
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

WDW - Giada's Lemon Ricotta Biscuits

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OK...so remember the lemon ricotta muffin I talked about at Intelligentsia coffee last week? You know, the one that I said I would most certainly not eat entirely, but the one that I actually ate every crumb of? Yeah, that one. Ahem. Well, I am now certain that Intelligentsia (or whoever provides their baked goods) stole the recipe from Giada de Laurentiis! I have had her recipe for Nonna's Lemon Ricotta Biscuits in my "want to try" file for some time...and after tasting that muffin last week I knew I had to go try Giada's recipe right away. And, guess what - they are pretty much exactly the same! I have to tell Giada this! Is she on Facebook?

I'm not sure why these are called biscuits. They are clearly muffins. But whatever Giada calls them is fine with me because these are the bomb. So moist, lemony, and with that hint of almond extract which I could take a bath in love. And, since I love almond extract so much, I modified the recipe a bit when I made it, adding a little drizzle of the extract to the almonds that go on top of the muffin batter before cooking. Then, I put a sprinkle of sugar on top which made the perfect crust. Incidentally, I was out of "sliced almonds" as the recipe calls for, so I ground up some whole almonds instead. It worked in a pinch, but the sliced almonds are really much better, texture wise.

So, do you think it will be totally weird if I bring-my-own lemon ricotta muffin next time I go to Intelligentsia?

I thought so.

Nonna's Lemon Ricotta Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus more sugar as needed for sprinkling
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup thinly sliced almonds

Directions

Grease 12 muffin cups
. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup sugar, butter, and lemon zest in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the ricotta. Beat in the egg, lemon juice, and almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended (the batter will be thick and fluffy).

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the almonds and then some sugar over the muffins. Bake until the muffins just become pale golden on top, about 20 minutes. Check these at 15 minutes...do not overcook. Cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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