Thursday, October 21, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
WDW just in the nick of time! Another great recipe from Marie over at Proud Italian Cook! I feel like all I'm doing lately is re-posting from her blog. But, I thought with this wonderful rainy weather, I'd share this soup I made tonight.
P.S. She has a lovely butternut squash tart currently on her blog, I hope I get a squash in my farm box soon! http://prouditaliancook.blogspot.com/2010/10/butternut-squash-tart-with-caramelized.html
Beans, Greens, and Broken Spaghetti Soup
2-3 cloves minced garlic
2 onions, chopped (I used 4 leeks)
2 carrots, chopped
2 cans of rinsed and drained cannellini beans
1 large bunch of Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves chopped
6-8 cups chicken broth (I used low salt/organic)
Parmigiano Reggiano rind
Precooked broken spaghetti (I used linguine -about 1/4 lb.)
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
In a heavy soup pot, over medium-low heat, drizzle some olive oil and saute onion, carrot, and garlic. Add everything else (except broken spaghetti and grated cheese ) and simmer for about an hour. Season with salt and pepper.
In a bowl, add the cooked spaghetti, and then ladle your soup over the top along with plenty of grated cheese, and if you want, a tiny drizzle of olive oil.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Rich just celebrated 25 years at his job, the Department of Water and Power. He is a civil engineer, and has worked at the DWP since the day he graduated college. That means he has had the same job since we met! How amazing is that? We are so blessed that he has had such a good job all these years. We thank God, and we thank Rich for his love and devotion to our family for faithfully going to work day after day (he's had only 2 sick days in 25 years).
So, Rich came home one day from work early last summer and said, "Hey, I just realized that last week, I hit 25 years at the Department," and then he casually added, "so I was thinking maybe we could go to Menchies to celebrate."
Menchies? Really? I mean Menchies is okay, but frozen yogurt to celebrate 25 years at your job?
Sorry, but I think not.
What I was thinking was more like dinner at Off Vine and Phantom of the Opera tickets.
That's what I'm talkin' about.
So, the kids and I went to the Pantages early in the summer and bought 6 tickets (we invited Stephanie and Nick to join us) and then anxiously counted down the days...
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Yes, I'm very excited about my new laundry soap. My all natural, homemade laundry soap, that is! I know, I'm weird, but it's so stinkin' cool.
So, as you might have read recently here on the blog, I'm going all-natural in the cleaners department. I have been happily using my homemade spray cleaner, not-so happily using baking soda (more on that later) and switched to an all natural goat's milk laundry soap which I bought from www.goatmilkstuff.com. I really liked the soap, and I even noticed that my dish towels (which I used to bleach) looked a little cleaner and brighter than usual.
Then, I had a revelation: I turned over the package of the laundry soap and read the ingredients: borax, washing soda, soap. Why couldn't I make my own? It seemed easy enough. I researched a bit online and sure enough I found the same formula over and over: 1 cup grated soap flakes, 1/2 cup each of Borax and washing soda.
So, I started with a bar of goat's milk soap that I bought from the above website (one formulated just for laundry), used the Borax I already had, and bought some Arm & Hammer washing soda online (not to be confused with baking soda, it's hard to find. I got mine at www.drugstore.com. A friend of mine who makes her own laundry soap told me that there is an Albertson's market in Santa Clarita that carries it.) You can use any bar of soap you like (of course, use all natural soap if you want your laundry soap to be all natural). Online, I found a lot of people use Fels Naptha, an old fashioned soap bar. But, I wanted my soap to be all natural, so I went with the goat's milk bar. I think I might try Dr. Bronner's castille soap bar next time I make it, I saw it at Trader Joe's, and it is even certified organic! Oh, and another tip with the laundry would be to put vinegar in the fabric softener compartment of your washer. Vinegar removes soap scum and mineral deposits in your washer and your clothes.
It couldn't have been easier. The bar of soap yielded 4 cups grated soap (I just used the fine side of my cheese grater), so I added 2 cups each of Borax and washing soda. I gave it a good stir, then decided to give it a whirl in the food processor to bring it to a consistent powder form (the picture below was before processing - you can see the soap curly-cues). I put the mixture in a Tupperware container. You use only one tablespoon per load, so I dropped in a metal tablespoon for easy measuring. The batch I made in 5 minutes will last 128 loads! The cost is hard to figure exactly because I only used a fraction of the boxes of Borax and washing soda. The soap bar was $7 (you could definitely use a cheaper bar, but keep in mind that mine was double the size of a regular bar, so it was really about $3.50 a bar). I am guessing I used maybe 1/10th of each of the boxes of Borax and washing soda? Hard to know. If that is the case though, I probably got 128 loads for approximately $9 total. I think that's about 1/2 the price of the Costco brand I've been using. And, of course, mine is all natural! And, if you're wondering, this soap is safe to use in he (high effeciency) machines, because it's low sudsing.
So.... you know what? Now, I want to make my own soap... I've been chomping at the bit for years to make it, but have been terrified. We LOVE bar soap (I have soap dishes in each bathroom and the kitchen) and I drool over homemade soap. My good friend in Washington has sent me these amazing goat's milk soap bars that her friend makes with her own goat's milk, and I am completely addicted to them. The goat's milk is super emmolient and great for people who wash their hands about a zillion times a day, like I do. I ran out of my stash recently so I ordered some bars from Goat Milk Stuff, but I can't go on paying $6 a bar for soap! (Incidentally, that's how I got into candlemaking- to support my own candle habit. Now here I go with soap.) Of course, I don't have any goats of my own (nor know any) to get fresh milk from, but I have found recipes online that use canned and dry goat's milk to make soap, and the results are supposed to be comparable, so I'm going to give it a try soon. I am in the process of gathering all the ingredients and tools. My goal is to have soap to give as Christmas gifts, and the bars take 4-6 weeks to cure, so I need to get on it soon. Of course, I'll keep you posted on my adventures.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
One of my favorite food bloggers is http://prouditaliancook.blogspot.com. I had the good fortune to find this blog awhile back, and Marie's food is some of the most beautiful food on earth. This woman is not only brilliant, but her recipes are simple and always include all my favorite ingredients. Plus, her photos are gorgeous and make you want to eat the computer screen. I have tried many of her recipes and they do not disappoint.
Friday, October 8, 2010
It is a place of inexpressible sorrow, a vast empty nothingness;
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
When we visited them in Ojai, they gave us a great driving tour around town and took us to a favorite local restaurant called Boccali's for dinner. It was a lovely summer-like evening, and we dined alfresco on some really fine Italian food. Each couple ordered their own small pizza (which was amazing) and then we shared some salads and Pasta Primavera. The pasta was beautiful - a very large bowl of linguine was piled with tons of fresh roasted vegetables (Boccali's grows their own produce at their local farm). It was the ultimate pasta! I thought to myself, with my love of produce and pasta, why have I never made this dish? I was dumbfounded but knew I had to make it soon.
So, this week, I decided to give it a go. Really, it's so simple it can hardly even be called a recipe. It was so fast to make, I think I had it on the table in a half an hour flat. It's one of those dishes that is super flexible and one you can make with whatever vegetables you have on hand. Since it was the day before my produce delivery, I was a bit low, but here's what I had: 2 large carrots, 1 package sliced cremini mushrooms, 1 zucchini, 1 yellow squash, a baggie of leftover sliced onion, and my last home-grown tomatoes. I rough chopped everything except the mushrooms and onion and threw them on a baking sheet with some olive oil, salt and pepper. I roasted them in the oven at 375 for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, while they roasted, I sauteed the onions, mushrooms, and about 6 good-sized cloves of chopped garlic in some olive oil in a large pan while the linguine cooked in a big pot of water.
My family LOVED this dish! I actually scolded Rich when he went for his third helping, and Emma said "I could eat this every day!" I guess this one will find a place in the rotation for sure! Try it soon, you'll love the simplicity and the taste!
Friday, October 1, 2010
But, I've been compelled, of course for health reasons (nasty chemicals), and another for economical reasons. Using common household items is SO much cheaper, and it's simpler, too. From my research, I have concluded you really only need a handful of everyday products. I have decided to use the following items only:
This is an all-purpose cleaner, but is not for use on granite or marble. You should never use vinegar on any natural stone as it dulls the finish. You can make an easy granite spray cleaner by mixing one part alcohol with three parts water, and adding a few drops of a ph neutral dish soap such as Seventh Generation and a little tea tree oil if you like. I already use Seventh Generation for washing dishes (also found at Target), so it's convenient. Buffing with a chamois is also great way to make granite shine.