Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Kitchen Kouture

On a recent Saturday, my friend Jenny and I were at a local bookstore to host a bookfair to raise money for local children's theater.

Since sitting at a bookstore for a few hours is my idea of heaven, this wasn't a very difficult volunteer activity, to say the least. Between greeting the book store patrons and sipping cafe au lait, we were absolutely mesmerized by the book Midwest Modern by Amy Butler - so much so that we decided to buy it and serve as co-parents, splitting book visitation between the two of us so we could both enjoy its wonders.



The book beautifully illustrates how the midwest has its own style: simple, worn-in, functional yet beautiful. It's everything I want surrounding me in my life. And another reason for my adoration of this book? Amy's celebration of aprons.




Aprons are practical and pretty, just like us midwest gals. :) Since I often come home from work and start sauteing onions in my work clothes, I've found that my apron has saved me from splatters many-a-time. I love the domesticisity of aprons, conjuring up visions of herbs on a sunny windowsill, countertops dusty with flour from rolling out pie crust, the aroma of roasted chicken and garlic...

My Navy brother got me this apron as a gift, hence the nautical theme. Few gifts do I use as much as this one:


There are tons of cute aprons on the 'net. I particularly like this one and this one, since I dig retro kitchen gear. I like the look of the half aprons also, but I have ruined too many shirts from splattering oil and tomato sauce, so I know I need the full ensemble.

If I knew how to sew a stitch, I'd try making one, but that's a skill I have not yet acquired. However, after browsing Amy Butler's website, I might have to ask Santa for a sewing machine this Christmas.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How to Clean a Fish


1. Go fishing

2. Catch fish

3. Locate a handsome fella with outdoorsman skills

4. Marry the handsome fella and ask him to clean the fish...nicely

5. For best results, praise his masculinity and ability to provide for the family


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Local Meal - Mission (mostly) Accomplished!

Well, as promised, I rallied the troops and gathered this rowdy bunch of ND ingredients:



Corn: family farm
Chives: backyard garden
Sausage: family venison sausage
Honey: co-worker's family
Egg: egg lady
Cream: Cass-Clay
Flour: North Dakota Mill

And the end result? Corn fritters and grilled sausage! Not my best cooking accomplishment, but certainly edible.



Oh, and since I put chives in the fritter batter, we ended up eating them with Los Amigos salsa instead of honey. Semi-local, so I say it counts. But for dessert? A few spoonfuls of honey. This honey is...wow. It's so flavorful, I don't know what kind of flower juice those bees were running on, but give 'em more. Delish.

It takes a lot of energy to make sure every single ingredient is local, but it's a good exercise in awareness, making you step back and look at your consumption a little more closely. As always, more local goodies to come!

Bad Brioche

This post is dedicated to my friends Tanya and Amber, who encourage me to learn from my mistakes.

Here is the brioche I attempted baking this morning...not in the compost pile, but in the compost pail. Huge difference.



It was much too yeasty. Is brioche supposed to taste like that? I think I let it proof much too long, letting the yeast develop too much. Regardless, it was gross. I didn't even want to mess with turning it into bread crumbs or maybe bread pudding. I just tossed it out, chalking this one up to experience. Lesson learned, moving on.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Local Links

Throughout this blog, I've been trying to eat local, eat fresh, eat real and now I realize that there is a term for this: I'm becoming a localvore.

It's odd putting a term to something that should apply to all of us. If you educate yourself about eating local (try here & here & here), you see that this isn't just another food fad; this has to be a part of our everyday existance.

We should all be aware of where our food comes from. We should all try to support the local guys. We should all produce at least a portion of our own food, even if that means just a pot of basil on the windowsill.

The reality of the modern world is that you certainly don't have to. In fact, you can easily go through your entire existance nowadays not eating a single calorie from local farms and fields. But what is life if not garden tomatoes and sweet peas plucked right out of the pod?

On the other side of the coin, is 100% local 100% of the time possible in ND? Well, nothing is impossible, and they did it 100 years ago, but I still love kalamata olives and mangoes. But what about one meal? I can handle that.

Thanks to this woman, I'm taking up the challenge. One local meal, with every last crumb coming out of ND soil.

Results soon to come.

PS - Great Bismarck joints that cater to the localvore appetite:
Pirogue Grille
Smoothie Operator
ND Branded Beef
Butcher Block Meats - even though all you'll see here is the shop owners' rad Mustang collection
The Farmers Market - a listing of the growers who make it possible
Urban Harvest

Monday, April 21, 2008

One Smart Cookie

In a past life I must have been a bird. I can't figure out any other reason for my love of seeds..."love of seeds" sounds better than "seedy love", don't ya think? Sesame, flax, poppy, sunflower...I try to stick seeds in my food whenever I can, whether it's stirfry (sesame sprinkled on top), oatmeal (mix in some flax), or bread (all of the above, baby). So imagine my delight when I encountered a cookie recipe that is seedy in a completely wonderful way!

My friend Amber mentioned that I should check out Everyone Likes Sandwiches. Thinking it would just be a ton of photos of paninis, I logged on and was pleasantly surprised at this quirky Canuck foodie blog.

And then came the recipe for smart cookies. I. Must. Try. That.

Out of the list of ingredients, oddly the only thing I was missing was the applesauce. So after a quick trip to the store, I whipped up these babies:


The dough is a little fussy to work with, but if you want a healthy, hearty (and vegan!) cookie, please please please try these. I'm completely addicted, can't wait to make another batch. I'm picturing a Greek-ified version, exchanging the raisins, chocolate, and maple syrup for dried figs and honey. That's definitely on the to-do list this week.

smart cookies
1 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c rolled oats
1/2 c oat bran
1 c raisins
1/2 c coconut
3/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c walnuts, broken
1/2 c sesame seeds
1/4 c flax seeds
1/2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1 large pinch each nutmeg + cardamom
1 t vanilla
1/2 c applesauce
1/2 c maple syrup
1/2 c brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix up everything from the flour on down to the nutmeg/cardamom. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Add the dry to the wet and mix well.

Roll a tablespoon of the mixture into your hand and then flatten. Place on a silpat covered cookie sheet and bake for 14 minutes or until the tops feel dry. Let rest on cookie sheet for 3 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in a covered tin.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Vanilla Love

In our fridge, we typically have a carton of soy milk and a carton of organic cow milk. I like soy milk in my tea and cow milk for, well, everything else. One thing about organic milk, though, is that it's expensive at $4 for a half-gallon. We only use about a half-gallon a week, so it's not a major financial investment, and I almost consider it as a charitable contribution to support sustainable agriculture, something I passionately believe in.

But with $4 milk in the fridge, I try to make sure we use all of it. This week, we haven't been eating much cereal, so the milk carton was practically full when I checked it before going grocery shopping. I don't want to let it sit and go bad, so when this happens, it's time to make pudding.

Pudding soaks up a lot of milk, and fortunately, we both love the stuff. Today I even got a little fancy and put some rice pudding on the stove. To sum up my adoration of rice pudding, just imagine Homer Simpson with drool coming out of his mouth: "ohhhhh...riiiiiiice puuuuuuddinnnnnnng..."

I wanted to put a tad of vanilla in the pudding, and that's when I remembered that my vanilla extract bottle was nearly bone dry. And that's when I remembered that I was on the Penzey's Spices website considering the vanilla last week, and getting sticker shock at how much they charge for extracts.

There has to be a better way.

I looked at the ingredients label on the extract bottle:


Hmmm, alcohol. I definitely have alcohol. And I actually have vanilla beans too, purchased awhile ago when I was going through a creme brulee phase. So a quick Google search took me to this site and I realized that I can make my own out of vodka and vanilla beans. So easy! Here's how to do it.


Slice the vanilla beans lengthwise to expose all the delicious seeds nestled inside:

Add the sliced beans to the bottle:


Add vodka (and I don't recommend trying to take a photo while pouring vodka into a tiny bottle like this):


Let sit in your cupboard for a month before using.

And the rice pudding? Spoon-lickin' good.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Jay the Farmer

It's getting pretty noisy in our neighborhood. The cold silence of winter is over, with birds singing their songs, bikers revving their engines, and lawn mowers out for the first trim of the year. (PS - here is where I tried to post some audio/video of my neighborhood, but my lack of IT skills got the best of me on that one)

With this commotion humming in the background, my friendly neighbors venture out of winter hibernation for our usual over-the-fence chats.

We have great neighbors and chatting over the fence is our main mode of communication. We catch up on house project details, recent travels, and the occasional bit of juicy gossip. In our neighborhood, the houses are fairly close together, so I can't imagine what it would be like to not be friendly with your neighbors. Isn't it almost immoral to not be a friendly neighbor? Doesn't every religion espouse something about being good to thy neighbor? However, with a nod to my friend Amber, my neighbors don't leave rusting appliances in their yard. My holiness only goes so far.

During one of these fence chats, my neighbor asked if I'd heard about Jay the Farmer. Hmmm, nope, tell me more. Turns out Jay the Farmer grows organic vegetables, and for about $400, you get a large box of his harvest every week for 20 weeks through the growing season.

Now I love gardening, but I admit that the main reason I garden is because, well, I love good fresh food, and it doesn't get any fresher than my backyard. Although my thumb gets a little greener every year, my harvest isn't always plentiful. I won't bother to tell you about my cucumber disaster last year, or the tomatoes that rotted from the bottom up the year before. So as I continue on my wide learning curve for gardening, it would be nice to have all those veggies without the weeding, wouldn't it?

So my neighbor and I decided we'd each pay half and split the bounty. We're still not 100% sure that we're in, since we still need to ensure Jay the Farmer has enough veggies for us so we can cut the check, but I'm thrilled at the idea of it. Even if Jay is all booked up, we still have the blessed farmers' market. Hip hip hooray for vegetables! Hip hip hooray for supporting local organic farmers!

I can't wait to see my friendly farmers again next month to buy their produce and to simply say thanks.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Rhubarb Watch - Day 12

It's a-coming...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Spring Clean

In the spirit of spring cleaning, we had our carpets cleaned today (yay!), which means our bedrooms look like this:


But that also means that our living room looks like this:



Yeah, I love it.

So I get home to clean carpets, a cluttered living room, and a hungry husband telling me how we have no food in the house and somehow he managed to survive through the day on granola bars and cheese chunks with bbq sauce. So I take a peek in our fridge:



Ok, maybe he had a point. Unless you like pickles and yogurt (or some combination thereof), there isn't too much going on in there, but I love a challenge. In my younger days as a nanny for a couple of picky kids and a cheapskate mom, I developed a knack for creating dinner out of nothing. So I rolled up my sleeves to create something delicious out of those slim pickin's.
Meanwhile, my hubby starts writing this grocery list of food we need to fill the cupboards and fridge.


I should note that the original list ended with pretzels; the fruits and vegs were added at my suggestion. I try really hard to have healthy food in the house, make decent dinners, and ensure everyone is getting enough fiber...but sometimes, I guess you gotta have cheese and bbq sauce too. That's why we're married; we balance each other out.

So being determined to test my bare-kitchen meal-making skills, I rummaged through the cupboard and I think we ended up with a darn good dinner, coming straight out of the pantry basics: homemade mac and cheese!


Love it, love it, love it. The creamy cheese, the crunchy bread crumbs, the crusty noodles baked on the sides of the pan. I'm not a mac and cheese snot; I still like The Blue Box occasionally with its carrot-orange powder. However, there really is no comparison with the homestyle stuff. I know you'll roll your eyes at this one, but it's really not that much harder to make the real deal. The only difference is making cheese sauce, and any general cookbook will be able to guide you through that. Most will be a variation of the following: saute onion in butter; add a big pinch of flour, stir, then add milk and cook until thick. Then add cheese until melted. Season with pepper and presto! Cheese sauce. Yummy.

So dinner was served, bellies were filled, and cheese-sauce-induced happiness reclaimed its rightful place in our household. And then we promptly went to the grocery store. Full tummies, full fridge, and clean carpets. What more could a girl want?



Tuesday, April 15, 2008

deLiteful

On Sunday I was passing by the local farm supply store when I saw a bright yellow piece of tagboard:

GIRL SCOUT COOKIES SOLD HERE TODAY



Long ago I came to the realization that girl scouts don't go door-to-door with little red wagons for cookie sales anymore. No, these little ladies mean business, and YOU need to seek THEM out. You need a supplier. A co-worker of mine used to be my main Girl Scout cookie supplier, but to my dismay I discovered that his daughter is no longer in Girl Scouts. Drop-out.

So facing a year without Thin Mints, my heart (and taste buds) fluttered at the sight of that sign. With a couple dramatic traffic manuevers, I made the impromptu stop, rushed in with my crazy bedhead Sunday hair, patiently waited for the mathematically challenged 10 year old to count out my change, and tried to resist the urge to crack open the first box in the car.

Unsuccessfully.


Yum.



Update: the Samoas are now gone and I'm halfway through the Thin Mints; may need to go out for another fix soon...

Update #2: Samoas are now labeled as "Caramel deLites". One more point for Team PC.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Puppy Love

April 15th marks the puppies' first birthday! I'm sure Cash and Jake know deep down that tomorrow is a super special day. 1 year old...and still not neutered. Tell Bob Barker we're going to do that soon. Promise.

Now, I should clarify that Cash and Jake are outside dogs. They stay in the kennel and are expected to earn their keep in the fall by rustlin' up some pheasant. Buuuut, they are pretty darn cute too, and I could't help but want to do something special for their birthday.


I don't get excited about dressing up dogs in hats and Santa suits. I'm not going to invite all the neighborhood dogs over for a pup-party and pupcakes, as that could very quickly turn into a National Geographic wildlife special, if you catch my drift. So I took a cue from my mom, adding one more notch to the "you-are-turning-into-your-mother" belt, and made dog treats.

Ever since she retired, my mom has been floating in domesticated bliss. She hangs out around the house all day with the family pup Buddy, keeping busy doing...well, I'm not really sure what she does. I just know she is happy, and that's all that really matters to me. One day, she started baking dog treats. And now I'm baking dog treats. Pretty soon I'll be cranking up the radio every time Neil Diamond is on the oldies station. Or maybe I already do...

After doing a bit of research on dog treat recipes, I quickly learned that you can dump absolutely anything you happen to have on hand into a bowl of whole wheat flour, bake it, and call it dog treats. Cheese, chopped chicken livers, Bac-Os, garlic, tuna, hot dog water, raisins, shredded shoe leather, you name it, you can throw it in there and your dog will probably eat it.



Amid this confusion of ingredients, I ended up using an AllRecipes.com recipe as a base and just changed it. I knew that I didn't want to put cheese in it, and I wasn't going out to buy liver either, so I went with peanut butter instead. I mixed it up along with some oatmeal, veggie broth, and milk powder, rolled it out, and cut it into cute little bone shapes, all the while thinking of how excited my little pups would be about these homemade treats. I popped them out of the oven, let them cool, and then took a couple treats outside to test them out.

After obeying my sit command, I gave them each a treat, completely anticipating the fact that they would immediately develop verbal skills to tell me how delicious these treats were, or at least come out with a "Mmmmm".

So imagine my surprise when after watching Cash promptly chomp down his treat...Jake spits his out! I couldn't believe it. Jake eats poop and dead birds. Yet he wouldn't eat my homemade doggie treats? How could Jake insult me like that? How could he not understand how much love I put into those little bones? How could I be insulted by a dog? Then I remembered that Jake is the step-dog (we dog-sit Jake for the winter), and that Cash is The Good Son, so if Cash liked them, that's what really mattered. Even if Cash also eats poop and dead birds. But that beside the point.

So if you get bored, and I'm sure you have a ton of free time on your hands, whip up a batch of dog treats. After all that work, my scientific study shows that there is a 50-50 chance he'll eat 'em.

But I still love my pups.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Wild Life

My huntin' man has returned home with meat for our table, ensuring our survival this spring...or at least ensuring we won't be protein deficient.

Not only did he come home with a turkey (and a couple days of scruff on his face - so cute), but he also got some great shots of the Badlands.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Gobble Gobble

My husband went turkey hunting and left me with no camera so he can take pictures of himself with his kill, proving his masculinity to all his friends. And what good is a blog post without pictures? So instead of my latest and greatest culinary creation, I leave you with a picture of our dogs. Aren't they cute?


Thursday, April 10, 2008

The ten year cookie quest

I've had a particular cookie on my mind for over 10 years. That's a decade, people. I mean, this cookie hasn't left me completely preoccupied. I still managed to graduate college, get a decent job, and meet the man of my dreams. However, through all of these momentous occasions, this cookie has stayed in my head, tempting me with its delicious memory, yet taunting me with the knowledge that I had no idea how to recapture that moment.

The sweet family that I babysat for in high school had a lovely neighbor named Renee, just another perfect aspect in their perfect life. For being a fit and skinny lady, she sure knew how to bake and her signature was these monster monster cookies, chock full of oatmeal, chocolate, and nuts. It was a great babysitting day when I saw those cookies in the cookie jar. Despite their size, they were so good that I'd end up eating the entire thing and glance over to consider another. I've made lots of monster cookie recipes trying to duplicate Renee's cookies, much to my husband's monster-cookie-monster delight, however nothing matched up.

So last weekend, in the midst of my raisin bread fĂȘte, I finally called the babysitting family and left a message requesting Renee's number. Lucky for me, they called back with the number (and a dinner invitation for this summer, they are too nice) and I promptly dialed it.

There's always that odd moment when you have to introduce yourself at length on the phone. "Hi, Renee? This is Beth...I got your number from your neighbors, I used to babysit for your neighbors...I swam in your pool a couple of times..." Fortunately, the light of recognition clicked, and the conversation continued pleasantly. And you know what? She was willing to share the recipe! She had it memorized, so she dictated it to me as I hastily scribbled it down on some scratch paper. After thanking her profusely, I hung up and basked in my good fortune for having acquired this secret that was finally revealed after 10 years in hiding.



Looking at the recipe, it seems pretty simple. In fact, I'm almost certain I've made something close to this in the past. I usually fiddle with recipes right off the bat, adding a little extra of this or taking out a little bit of that. But for this one, I stuck exactly to her instructions. Exactly. And the result?





Well...I wish I could say that I hit the jackpot, but something was missing. The cookies ended up being delicious, very edible, a winner in anyone's book. Hey, with a pound of butter and almost three cups of sugar, I can make Alpo into a mouth-watering morsel; but they weren't the deluxe cookie I remembered. I did everything right, but yet something was wrong. Have my tastes changed? Does environment really affect food experiences that much? Am I searching for the impossible?

Regardless, tonight I discovered that instead of ending my cookie quest, the journey has now just begun.

Yes, this is me eating cookie dough. And loving it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Daydreaming...at night

I can't sleep. I'm in a hotel room in Cleveland (work travel) and I just cannot sleep. The clock is laughing at me, the 12:35 am numbers serving as a glaring reminder that I will be tired in the morning. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

So what does a girl do after tossing and turning for an hour? Flip on the light and read the freebie Wall Street Journal, of course. Wait, I'm not just rambling, this does have foodie implications. In the back of the "lifestyle" section (typically the only part I really read), there was a little article about changing careers. And wouldn't you know it, they used the example of a banker-turned-baker.

I've always had this dreamy idea of owning a bake shop. I see myself spinning through a sunny little cafe with flour dust on my pants, sending people off with little paper bags of goodies, maybe an old piano perched against a wall for impromptu Chopin nocturnes. But alas, I haven't yet taken the leap of faith (and major financial investment) to do anything about it. I feel like the bake shop bubble is bursting anyway. Everywhere except ND, there is a cupcake shop on every street corner. Or maybe I just read nytimes.com food section too much.

However, I'm still taking baby steps towards the realization of this idea. Thanks to my friend Molly, I'm refining some recipes and discovering my baking personality...more on that later. And even though I don't personally care much for frosting, I've signed up for a cake decorating class this month, so that must count for something...

...12:50 am now.

So sorry no pictures today. I'll be back soon with a rhubarb update! I know you're shakin' in your boots with excitement. In the meantime, I'm going to take another stab at this sleeping thing. Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Rhubarb Watch - Day 1

Attention, everyone, attention: the rhubarb has sprouted.


It doesn't look like much, but this is a big deal.

Hey, it's the blog namesake, marking the beginning of the spring food season on the plains (can you guess which meaty morsel marks autumn in our house?).

At this garden party, rhubarb is always the first to arrive, the last to leave, and usually ends up overstaying its welcome.

However right now, I welcome it with open arms, anticipating all the pies, tarts, jams, syrups, and sorbets to come.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Raisin Bread

I had the best of intentions. I was going to get up, get dressed, and make the 4 hour drive to see Barack Obama give a speech here in North Dakota. Obama! In North Dakota! I took the day off, got tickets, and I had no reason not to go...but I didn't go. C'mon, that's a looooong drive. Instead, here is what I did:

6:30 am - get up and kiss husband goodbye as he leaves for work; promptly go back to bed

6:45 am - can't sleep, so start flipping through new Bon Appetit magazine

7:30 am - start blogging (I'm obsessed, truly)

9:30 am - take the dogs out

11:00 am - decide to watch a movie, click over to Netflix and select Xanadu

11:05 am - start laughing hysterically while watching the roller-skating, 1980's musical brilliance that is Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu

12:15 pm - enough Xanadu, make a spinach salad for lunch

12:45 pm - off to Kohl's to purchase a new shower curtain

1:15 pm - at home, put new shower curtain in the wash

1:20 pm - notice it is too late to start driving to the Obama speech, so start making raisin bread

I've had these raisins sitting in the cupboard for a tad too long. I just got tired of seeing the same container of raisins sitting there, and they were starting to dry up. Heaven forbid I throw away food, my Depression-era grandmother would be so disappointed. So I dropped the raisins in hot water for a few minutes (they plumped right back up) and proceeded to make raisin bread.

Now don't get too excited, it's not cinnamon-swirl raisin bread with chocolate sprinkles on top. This is just bread dough with raisins in it. Ok, with a little sugar in the dough too. Here's my favorite part about making bread (besides eating it). This is the bread dough after its first rise:


And my favorite part, punching it down:


It turned out well, and I learned a few things:

1. The dough was too wet and I had to add a lot of extra flour. I may need to measure my wet ingredients more accurately rather than "eyeballing it" like I usually do.

2. Any glaze brushed on top before baking is going to drastically reduce the crustiness of the bread. Depending on the texture you are going for, this could be a good or bad thing.

3. If you are making raisin bread, add plenty of raisins. With the extra flour I added, these loaves ended up a bit raisin-sparse.

So this morning, I sit at my kitchen table with a cup of tea and buttered raisin toast, watching the Obama speech on YouTube. Love this technology stuff.

Friday, April 4, 2008

You say it's your birthday?

Happy birthday to me! I just want to say THANK YOU to all my wonderful friends and family that made yesterday such a fabulous day (even though only three of them know this blog exists). I'm just giddy from all the love in my life. This year, we tossed cake out the window and had a pizza-and-beer party instead...but the tradition of watching me blush as I am serenaded with an off-key rendition of "Happy Birthday" in a public eating establishment remains.

I just had to include a photo of my birthday gift from my sweetheart. Flowers and rain boots. He knows me too well.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

PB&J Revolution!

The humble peanut butter and jelly sandwich is getting a lot of attention nowadays. Personally, I have PB&J on the brain for a few reasons:

1. It's what I had for breakfast today.

2. I'm volunteering at an elementary school, bringing back kid food memories.

3. My friend Jenny introduced me to The PB&J Campaign, which proves that eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can save the world.

But didn't we already have a hunch that pb&j had superpowers?

Here's the peanut butter and the jelly. They are married.


Here is their love child.
Once I was sitting in a college speech class, and one of the impromptu speeches turned to the subject of peanut butter. One person made the statement, "...and I don't know who would buy that natural peanut butter...with all the oil sitting on top? Eww..." Then, of course, I had to get up the guts (taking speech class is all about overcoming irrational fear) to raise my hand and defend my natural pb position. Yes, I like the natural stuff, but buyer beware, pb brands differ and natural pb brands really differ. One of my favorites, actually, is the generic brand at my local grocery store. Organic pb is usually a safe bet.

Now class, we all know that partially hydrogenated oil is the bane of the American diet, along with high fructose corn syrup, right? So we all read the labels, and don't buy anything with either, naturally. And we don't go around snooping in each others' cupboards, of course. I mean, why bother, since we would never keep things like caramel filled chocolate Easter eggs, canned tomato soup, and Lucky Charms in our kitchens. Never.

That being said, natural PB is just my preference, but go grab the Skippy if you are so inclined. I would recommend raiding your grandmother's pantry for some homemade jam, if you can be so lucky. There are plenty of good jams in the grocery store, too. Finding them is as easy as looking at the labels and choosing a tasty jar without HFCS (the corn syrup evil mentioned earlier).

So go ahead and make this 30-second meal (take THAT, Rachael Ray!) and know that while you nibble on your sandwich, looking out the kitchen window, pondering your tiny beautiful existance, you are making the world a better place, one bite at a time.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Spring Sprung

I see London, I see France, I see a bit of green in the grass!


I noticed these tiny shoots poking through the ground this morning. What a fantastic way to start April.