Thursday, January 30, 2014

What's for Breakfast? I'm Starving!!!

Oh baby!  Long time no write!  Why?  I'm faaaat!  :)  I was doing marginally ok all the way up through oh... last spring then... Oh whatever!  I have no good excuses... I just got fat!  But now I have reached the maximum level of fatness I can live with so here goes again!  The final humiliation was having to go buy fat clothes to wear to Hawaii since I could no longer fit into my summer clothes from last year.  And having to excavate my fat pants out of the closet sucked too!

Right now I'm about 12 lbs off of my weight watchers goal so I'm working the plan hard and beginning to see results.  It's like a big game.  You play the game and you lose weight and maintain.  You cheat... yeah... you get the picture!

This is also a very lazy day.  I thought I might catch up with all of you non facebook friends and give you a brief update on stuff in my life.  All of you facebookers just forward to the bottom of the post and avoid all the pics you've already seen.  Unless you like re-runs.

 I'm just sitting around watching the snow come down and I love it!  I know many of you have recently been slapped silly by the weather this winter and probably don't like snow much right now but we are used to it and actually we need it.  Here are a few pics of the snow in my life...

This is my bug covered with snow.

Tank and Lucy are posing in the snow.  Tank is doing a great job of staying don't you think?

The garden shed all covered with snow

And taking a break at the ski lodge a couple of days ago.

I gotta say.  It was SUPER hard coming back from Hawaii and going straight back to winter!  
I just love lounging around in the warm weather while it's winter at home :)  Just for the sake of
contrast here's what that looked like...

Our friend Dave Sasaki (hi Dave!) lives up on a hill in Honolulu that looks out over Diamond Head and the ocean.  This is a snap shot from the lanai where I  spend the majority of my time just gazing.  Occasionally we venture off the hill and go out and about.  Here are a few of those out and about shots...

This was out for a stroll in the park.  Some of the trees are so big!

This is a sunset shot... I really like the way you can almost tell it's me but you can't really see my fatness :)

Another super fun thing we saw was the giant waves.  There's no way to tell from this pic but the waves on the north shore were the largest in 10 years.  40 to 50 feet.  Nobody was allowed on the beach.  This was taken from the roadside.  You can just see the really large swell behind the giant splash.  

And another shot of the wind and waves

The last non food related thing I just have to share is the newest pics of my gorgeous grand daughters :)

this is Aubrey who is 5 and is proudly holding up her first lost tooth.  I love this!

And Charlotte and Kamilla all dressed up for their school pictures.  Aren't they just soooo cute?

So finally back to breakfast!  This morning I was soooo hungry that I decided to break down and cook two eggs.  Usually I just allow myself one but I just didn't feel like that was going to cut it.  I dragged out the 18 pack of eggs and opened it up and just about freaked out when I saw the single little egg in the carton that I swear I just bought a couple of days ago!  Then I remembered... my Paleo diet daughter Amberlyn aka egg hog had just made crepes that morning and had in fact single handedly scarfed down the entire carton in the last few days.  Oh ok... to be fair she only ate 17.  She did leave one!   I immediately sent her a scathing text to make sure she brings more eggs home.  Ok I confess... I'm sure she had some help with the eggs.  But you know how it is when you are starving and you need to eat something NOW and the very thing you are looking for...

So yeah.  I got a little overly excited but I came up with a revised plan while still sticking to my weight watchers points.  I decided 1 egg would have to do and decides yes to bacon!  Add the miracle ingredient that increases the bulk of almost any meal when you are hungry... cauliflower!  I cooked the bacon.  Wiped down the pan to remove the excess grease and sauteed the cauliflower in the tiny bit of remaining bacon yummys.  Then when it was close to being soft enough I added a tablespoon of water to the pan to deglaze and pick up the rest of the flavor.  Add just a third of an ounce of finally grated cheese to the top and there you have it!  A 4 point breakfast that was just delicious.  Also I learned that the runny egg yolk was very tasty on the sauteed bacony cauliflower.  

Ok... what's for lunch?!?  I'm starving again!  But I am shrinking!


Saturday, May 18, 2013

I Love Spring!

Here's why I love spring...

In the spring plain ole tuna salad becomes a feast for the eyes!  Fresh fresh fresh!  Ok... I didn't catch the tuna myself but I did grow the spinach, collect the eggs, make the yogurt that adds the creaminess, snip the chives with their blossoms... you get the idea.  A simple tuna salad goes from blah to tada!

Spring is the season when the color green becomes amazing in it's infinite shades and hues!   Speaking of green... who remembers these long green Tupperware containers?

:)  I have two.  They are a little beat up  but they keep my spinach and lettuce better than anything else.  And they remind me of Dave's sweet little mama.  We inherited these when she "moved to heaven".  They are one of my most treasured possessions because of the memory factor.  These and the earthenware baking dish that I use to burn the Thanksgiving sweet potatoes each year... but that's a whole different season.  I don't want to think about fall!

Early in the morning I'm flying to southern California to see my daughter Katie and her gorgeous babies.  Yay!!!  So... I've been working hard to get ready to leave.  I thought I'd make sure some of the produce in the fridge got used up so I threw this berry tasty salad together.

It's a bed of fresh tender spinach with carrots, bell peppers, cukes, strawberries, pumpkin seeds and mozzarella cheese then topped with freshly made croutons from left over bread purchased at the Chewelah farmers market yesterday.  Love!

 Garden season is just getting going and I've been babysitting little plants in the greenhouse as well as moving a few outside into the garden.  Of course the spinach is up and ready to nibble on.  The sweet peas are beginning to grab hold of the fence and climb.  Perhaps when I come home they will be blooming!  Green beans have sprouted and the long row of sunflowers that smile at me in the summer are reaching toward the sky.  They have a ways to go though.  right now they aren't much taller than the carrots :)


These are just a few volunteer sunflowers that I didn't have the heart to pull up.  Behind them you can see the nice straight rows where Dave has just planted his corn.  We definitely have different gardening styles!  His rows are very orderly and march along like little soldiers.  Mine sort of meander along like a little day dreaming flower child.  And come to think of it that same behavior plays out in so many other areas of our lives too :)  Ha!  If you've read my blog you can easily imagine what my garden looks like... no plan at all!

Let's see... what else... oh... pumpkins of course.  I have 9 pumpkin plants I transplanted a few days ago.

I know this is the tiniest pumpkin plant ever but just wait and see.  I predict the best crop of giant pumpkins yet!  I also optimistically transplanted 5 watermelon plants into the garden.  There are about 10 more still in the greenhouse... just in case.  Anyway... these are highly experimental.  Last year we sliced open the sweetest little watermelon!  It was just the perfect size to eat in one sitting.  I wondered if we had a long enough growing season for growing a small little melon so I decided to save the seeds and find out.  So we'll see what happens.

My greenhouse now has to do double duty.  My plants have to share space with my fiber drying rack which currently is loaded up with alpaca fiber.  This is the first batch of alpaca that I've washed.  It's taking much longer to dry than wool.  I'm sure Dave won't mind turning it over a couple of times for me while I'm gone.  When I come back from California it will be ready for me to play with.  And my new little lambs will be old enough to come live at my house!

Fortunately for me, since I have no experience with sheep yet a neighbor hosted a sheep field day at his farm, Shepherd's Bounty.  Dave, Michele and I spent the morning there learning about sheep fencing,

sorting and grading fleeces and spent time listening to a very kind veterinarian who discussed general sheep health and nutrition.  They also served up some tasty lamb burgers.  :)  That will not be the fate of my little sheepys though!  There were other speakers and demonstrations on things like sheep herding.  I didn't attend that class though.  We will not be adding a sheep dog... and I'm pretty sure Tank is completely un-trainable so... :)

Mostly I enjoyed seeing the little lambs play in the fields

and meeting other crazy sheep people.  There is certainly a lot to learn!  On the way home Dave asked me, "Are you sure you want sheep???"  Yes.  They are so cute and fuzzy!  And if I get into a jam I know I can always call on my awesome neighbors (Hi Jean!!!) who know all about sheep!  :)

Also related to sheep... or spinning their fleeces... I brought home some stones and sea shells from my trip to Hawaii in March and I kept thinking I might like to make some spindle tops out of them somehow.  Yesterday I started playing around with them and came up with these...

Two are decorated with stones that came from our friend Dave Sasaki's collection that
he so generously shared with me.  Thanks Dave!  I'm on m own for the next batch of stones.  He also sent us home with his rock tumbler so I better get cracking on that!  One is just some simple beads and the other is topped with shells and sea glass that I found on the beach one day.  I'll never forget that beach!  It's the one where I was so rudely tumbled and abused in the surf.  First time I've ever laughed hysterically as I stumbled and crawled to safety while groping about trying to extract my swimsuit from my butt as sand and salt water streamed from my nose.  Good times!  Like me this spindle is just a bit unbalanced but it's not too bad and it makes me smile!

Speaking of lovely Hawaii like weather... we had some amazing spring weather over the last couple of weeks.  It was 85 with brilliant blue skies.  I got used to wearing shorts and I drug the screens out of the barn and installed them in the windows.  It's what convinced me that it was ok to go ahead and transplant watermelons.  But of course it was just faking me out!  Today was 50 and the sky looked like this...

still... I love spring... especially since I'm going to California in the morning!!!

So... ciao y'all!  

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Love In A Jar

I absolutely LOVE this time of year!  This morning I woke up, peeked out the window and saw that is was just beginning to get light outside.  I looked at the clock and it was 4:50 am.  Yes!!!  The days are finally getting long!  I guess most people would go back to bed but not me!  I crept out to the living room and opened all the curtains to watch the morning unfold.  I barely got settled in before the idea for this post popped into my head, which reminded me that I should make a batch of crepes.  I got up to get those going so the batter could rest in the fridge until Dave got around to waking up and of course it was hours and hours before I got back around to my blog post.  And that's been the story of my life for months on end!  I've been meaning to write but each day is full of really important stuff!

So... Dave loves crepes.  I hate to make them!  Actually I don't mind making them all the way up to the second where they need to be flipped then poof!  Just like magic... instant disaster and rage!    This sad scene has replayed in my kitchen so many times that finally Dave and I made a deal.  I create the batter and he cooks the crepes.  Usually.  Earlier this week Dave had been craving crepes and so I decided to make a batch since he was going to be leaving to spend a few days over at the lake property in Ione clearing and burning.  Sort of as an I love you... see you in a few days present.  Sometimes I go along too but decided this trip to stay home.  He works really hard over there so I like to send along some tasty food so he doesn't end up eating things like top ramen with tuna fish.  Ughhhh!  Shudder shudder!  I'm not even kidding... I wish he never told me about that.  Some things are just to horrible to think about!   Anyway... I decided the morning he left to make a large batch of crepe batter and send along part of it with him in a big mason jar.  That would be something he could quickly cook up and would be non disgusting :)  he came home telling me all the creations he came up with using the crepe batter such as peanut butter and banana crepes.  I was impressed!  I told him it sounded like he didn't even miss me at all, to which he replied... "I didn't need to miss you cause I had your love in a jar!"  That was so sweet it motivated me to risk ruining my morning with flipping, flopping and cussing.   

Here are a couple of pics from the last time I tagged along...

burning slash piles

                                                            Tank and Dave resting a while

In all the years I've been making pancakes and crepes I've never bothered to remember the recipe, simple though it is.  I always get out my old go to cookbook.  The Joy of Cooking.  It was what we did before Google and You Tube.  From trussing turkeys to prime rib to lemon lime ice box pie... this was where to look! 

Some of the pages are all splattered with hand written notes.  Like my crepe recipe.  It is quadrupled :)
I mean... when you have six kids one recipe is just not going to do it!

Here's what love in a jar actually looks like :)  


Well let's see... other news from the farm...

Baby Daisy is growing like a weed...

Spinning wheels and yarn are taking over my livingroom...

This must mean I need sheep to keep them supplied with fiber.  So... here are two of the new babies coming to live at my house...

They won't arrive until the first part of June as they are only three weeks old now.  But I am so excited I can hardly stand myself!  If anyone had told me 10 years ago that I would have spinning wheels and sheep I would have rolled on the floor laughing!  As a matter of fact, I just booked my plane ticket to California to visit my grand babies (YAY!!!) and it was seriously hard to do as I had to plan around "Field Day", an all day seminar about sheep and the upcoming Farm Chicks.  I don't even recognize myself!  

Well anyway, related to fiber... Michele decided she needed to learn to knit so she did.  She is teaching me as she learns.  She has such a natural ability to pick things up.  And apparently she didn't get that from me cause here is my first knitting project.


Yeah... I guess I had Frodo in mind when I made these.  They look like they were made for hobbit feet!  And... you should see the formation of the heels... they look like thumbs.  As a matter of fact... I'm pretty sure I can now make a set of hot pads with thumbs :)  These are so ugly that I love them because every time I look at them I laugh until I snort and cry.

But back to Michele's work.  She decided to make a crocheted "market bag" and it turned out so pretty!

Here she is modeling the bag.  The really cool thing is that she spun, and dyed the yarn herself.  The really uncool thing about this bag is that it is not going to be my mother's day present :(

Well... guess I better get up and get busy!  We are going to Ione today and taking the kayaks for a paddle around the lake.  I gotta try out the new little dock Dave built :)

So... ciao y'all!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Spinning Yarns...

First of all I just need to acknowledge what a special day this is. (Umm... I began this post and then got a little distracted... for a few days)  Dave and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary :)  And the sun has just risen over the mountain behind our house and is reflecting off of the snow.  The sky is crystal clear and the turkeys are parading past the window on the way to the cow shed to scratch around in the hay.  That bit about the turkeys would make Dave pretty grumpy but he's not awake yet so :) ... I'm just going to enjoy how pretty they are and how blessed I am to have this beautiful home that my wonderful husband built for me.  I guess I'm feeling very princessey (yeah... I know... I'm making up words again) this morning.

So back to the blog title... spinning yarns.  What do you think of when you hear those words?  Old women sitting around at a spinning wheel?  Or perhaps the tales they share with their fellow spinners and the children playing on the cottage floor?  Maybe you don't think of that at all and you think I'm just off in fairytale land which is frequently the case!  Anyway, I have a little something to say about all that.

Maybe I mentioned that upon our return from our whirlwind trip this fall we decided for a number of reasons to cancel the cable TV for a season.  That means just plain ole shutting it off altogether since we don't get any kind of TV reception out here in the sticks.  We have been checking out  movies from the library and have really enjoyed the variety and sometimes oddness of some of our choices.  (The Vicar of Dibley is one of my recent favorites.  It's a BBC production and pretty funny.)

 Even with the occasional movie our TV time has been drastically reduced and that's been a great thing.  It creates time for working on projects and for reading.  I love to read so I've been very happy with our decision.  Reading fires my imagination and I feel is much healthier than zoning out in front of the tube - which is also when and where I do most of my not so healthy snacking!  I just love to escape into a great story.

It seemed really perfect timing when in the mail last week I received a very kind and special gift from my cousin Stefan who lives in Germany.  He is a counselor, therapist and chaplain and utilizes storytelling as part of the therapy.  When Dave and I were visiting my family in Germany a  few years ago Stefan was describing one of the books he  wrote and Dave said that he would like to read it.  Unfortunately since Dave doesn't read German it was not possible :)  Very recently however his book The Blade of Grass in the Desert was translated into English and now we can read it!

I've been enjoying it one or two stories at a time.  They are very brief (which is a perfect match for my attention span) and each story leaves you with something to think about.  "the moral of the story".   Because it's a translation it reads a little differently than a book written originally in English which I think lends a delightful charm.  Storytelling is a bit of a lost art so I'm really appreciative of this work.  So... thanks so much Cuz!  I love this.  And for those of you who are curious about this book you can find it on  :)  and you can learn more about my famous cousin at...  

Portraitfoto von Stefan Hammel, Otterberg (Pfalz): Autor des Buchs "Der Grashalm in der W├╝ste".
 You can see how handsome he is.  It's genetic :) 

Speaking of lost arts... and yarns for that matter, my friend and neighbor from across the pasture, Jean invited me to go to her spinning group.  I have been twice now and I love it!  One of the really nice ladies at the group taught me to spin on a spindle and now I'm a spindle spinning fool. She loaned me a spindle to practice on but knowing I would have to return it I asked Dave to make one for me.  He rarely denies me anything (that doesn't cost more than 5 bucks) so he went out to the barn and made a few little spindles for me to play with.  And here they are :)

The one with the quarters is the first one he made.  The quarters are to add weight.  I thought it needed to be heavier.  I had trouble keeping it spinning at first.  Partly because the yarn that was coming out was pretty thick and well... awful :)  Then I realized for finer strands a lighter spindle is better so as I experimented I of course needed different spindles.  Dave is so kind!  

Of course next comes the spinning wheel :)  Again, my friend Jean hooked me up.  I am borrowing a beautiful spinning wheel (that she is also borrowing :) from our other neighbor Carol) to practice on.  

Here it is...

And here I am...

If the link isn't working but you want to see the ridiculous little video here's the url...  

 (note to self... do NOT wear a big bulky sweatshirt when you are already shaped like a linebacker!)

I have to give it back on Monday.  So sad!  Fortunately on Tuesday I'm going to visit my sweet little mother who lives in Tennessee to help her celebrate her 80th birthday!  And what does she have in her closet that I've already talked her into to letting me bring home... yes... a spinning wheel!  :)

So what does all this have to do with food?  Nothing!  But here's something delicious that I whipped up for my sweetheart for Valentines day...

This is Caramel Apple Crumble.  I just "thunk" it up.  Is it a Weight Watcher approved recipe?  

And speaking of sweethearts... I just have to show you this latest pic of my little Charlotte.  

How cute is she????!!!!

And now to close... in honor of spinning yarns and telling tales I'll leave you with one of my favorite fairy tales...

Fairy tale by The Brothers Grimm

Once there was a miller who was poor, but who had a beautiful daughter. Now it happened that he had to go and speak to the King, and in order to make himself appear important he said to him, "I have a daughter who can spin straw into gold." The King said to the miller, "That is an art which pleases me well; if your daughter is as clever as you say, bring her tomorrow to my palace, and I will try what she can do."  And when the girl was brought to him he took her into a room which was quite full of straw, gave her a spinning-wheel and a reel, and said, "Now set to work, and if by tomorrow morning early you have not spun this straw into gold during the night, you must die." Thereupon he himself locked up the room, and left her in it alone. So there sat the poor miller's daughter, and for her life could not tell what to do; she had no idea how straw could be spun into gold, and she grew more and more miserable, until at last she began to weep.

But all at once the door opened, and in came a little man, and said, "Good evening, Mistress Miller; why are you crying so?"
"Alas!" answered the girl, "I have to spin straw into gold, and I do not know how to do it."
"What will you give me," said the manikin, "if I do it for you?"
"My necklace," said the girl.
The little man took the necklace, seated himself in front of the wheel, and "whirr, whirr, whirr," three turns, and the reel was full; then he put another on, and whirr, whirr, whirr, three times round, and the second was full too.

And so it went on until the morning, when all the straw was spun, and all the reels were full of gold. By daybreak the King was already there, and when he saw the gold he was astonished and delighted, but his heart became only more greedy. He had the miller's daughter taken into another room full of straw, which was much larger, and commanded her to spin that also in one night if she valued her life.
The girl knew not how to help herself, and was crying, when the door again opened,   and the little man appeared, and said, "What will you give me if I spin the straw into gold for you?" "The ring on my finger," answered the girl. The little man took the ring, again began to turn the wheel, and by morning had spun all the straw into glittering gold.  The King rejoiced beyond measure at the sight, but still he had not gold enough; and he had the miller's daughter taken into a still larger room full of straw, and said, "You must spin this, too, in the course of this night; but if you succeed, you shall be my wife." "Even if she be a miller's daughter," thought he, "I could not find a richer wife in the whole world."

When the girl was alone the manikin came again for the third time, and said, "What will you give me if I spin the straw for you this time also?"
"I have nothing left that I could give," answered the girl.
"Then promise me, if you should become Queen, your first child."
"Who knows whether that will ever happen?" thought the miller's daughter; and, not knowing how else to help herself in this strait, she promised the manikin what he wanted, and for that he once more span the straw into gold.  And when the King came in the morning, and found all as he had wished, he took her in marriage, and the pretty miller's daughter became a Queen.

A year after, she had a beautiful child, and she never gave a thought to the manikin. But suddenly he came into her room, and said, "Now give me what you promised."

 The Queen was horror-struck, and offered the manikin all the riches of the kingdom if he would leave her the child. But the manikin said, "No, something that is living is dearer to me than all the treasures in the world."
Then the Queen began to weep and cry, so that the manikin pitied her. "I will give you three days' time," said he; "if by that time you find out my name, then shall you keep your child."
So the Queen thought the whole night of all the names that she had ever heard, and she sent a messenger over the country to inquire, far and wide, for any other names that there might be. When the manikin came the next day, she began with Caspar, Melchior, Balthazar, and said all the names she knew, one after another; but to every one the little man said, "That is not my name."
On the second day she had inquiries made in the neighbourhood as to the names of the people there, and she repeated to the manikin the most uncommon and curious. "Perhaps your name is Shortribs, or Sheepshanks, or Laceleg?" but he always answered, "That is not my name."

On the third day the messenger came back again, and said, "I have not been able to find a single new name, but as I came to a high mountain at the end of the forest, where the fox and the hare bid each other good night, there I saw a little house, and before the house a fire was burning, and round about the fire quite a ridiculous little man was jumping: he hopped upon one leg, and shouted --
"'Today I bake, tomorrow brew,
The next I'll have the young Queen's child.
Ha! glad am I that no one knew
That Rumpelstiltskin I am styled.'"
You may think how glad the Queen was when she heard the name! And when soon afterwards the little man came in, and asked, "Now, Mistress Queen, what is my name?" at first she said, "Is your name Conrad?
"Is your name Harry?"
"Perhaps your name is Rumpelstiltskin?"
"The devil has told you that! the devil has told you that!" cried the little man, and in his anger he plunged his right foot so deep into the earth that his whole leg went in; and then in rage he pulled at his left leg so hard with both hands that he tore himself in two.

The End  :)

Ciao Yall!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Winter Fare...

When it's positively freezing outside... and believe me it has been here, how awesome is it to open the oven door and bring out (anything!) a beautiful pizza?  Oh yeah!  Well... About two weeks ago I was at my all time lowest weight... alright lowest ever since I was say... 40.  Lowest in a long time!  Then... I don't know, freak out binge fest!  So now I'm working to rid myself of those 6 insta pounds.  So why in the world would fresh mozzarella cheese be driiiiping down my chin?  Because my daughter Amberlyn came over this past weekend and made me this insane pizza where the crust is made primarily from... you are NEVER going to believe this.........CAULIFLOWER!  I'm not even kidding!  I was amazed and shocked and seriously doubtful!  But it was really good!  She is on a CSD (carb specific diet) so her crust had a little almond flour in it.  I don't have gluten intolerance issues (other than too much "gluten" results in the Pillsbury dough girl look) so I decided to change the recipe up a bit.  It was just as good... actually even better with a couple of tablespoons of Parmesan cheese thrown in to help... ok let me show you the finished product then I'll tell you how I made it.  

Forgive the nastiness of my poor cookie sheet... it's been baked to death.  But look!  You'd eat that right?    Yeah you would!  Ok here's the recipe that Amberlyn brought, with my adaptations...

Serves two or three people normally but... I used my weight watcher tools to calculate this recipe... if cut into 8 squares each square equals 5 PP.  And two squares is really quite a bit.  So Dave get's 6, I get 2.

2 Cups Cauliflower riced and wrung dry... don't worry, I'll splain later
4 egg whites
1/2 C all purpose flour (or almond flour if you are gluten intolerant) 
1/2 t salt
1/2 t garlic powder (I used a little minced garlic since I didn't have powdered)
2 T grated Parmesan cheese.  (I used the "fake" kind in the crust... you know... the powdered Kraft kind any self respecting cook would not find in their pantry :)  but I thought it would be best for the consistency of the crust.

Toppings:  These are what I used but let your imagination go wild here :)

3 oz cooked pork sausage
1 C finely sliced red bell pepper
2 finely sliced shallots
2 C sliced fresh mushrooms
1 C grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cloves finely minced fresh garlic
1 cup fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1/4 C pesto sauce
1 t Italian seasoning
1/4 C tomato paste, water added to thin down to sauce consistency.  Make more sauce if you want.
1 oz grated (real) Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Put your raw cauliflower into food processor and process until it resembles rice.   Place the "riced" cauliflower in a clean dish towel and squeeze moisture out.   Combine in bowl with egg whites, flour, salt, garlic powder and grated Parmesan cheese.

Now... the original recipe calls for Parchment Paper for the following instructions.  Do NOT use waxed paper!!!  Trust me :)  but second time around I realized that using two silpats (silicone baking mats) would work even better so that's what I did.  If you don't have silpats use PARCHMENT paper...

Place a large silpat on a baking sheet.  Spread the crust mix  onto it then top with a second silpat.  Press to spread thin.  Leaving the top silpat on and bake in oven for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven.  Remove top silpat then Transfer crust from bottom silpat onto a plain baking sheet since you can't cut on the silpat.  Easier to transfer just the par baked crust than the whole finished pizza.  Bake an additional 5 minutes to help the top of the crust crisp up a bit.  Crust is thin not thick and doughy.  

While crust is baking spray a non stick pan and saute your veggies including tomatoes until softened and lightly caramelized  Now  add the garlic then the pesto.  Heat through.  Add the spinach at the end and stir to wilt.  Set aside.  Pre cooking the veggies removes excess liquid and makes baking time much quicker.

Spread crust with tomato sauce then distribute the veggie/pesto mixture evenly onto the crust.  Sprinkle with sausage then with fresh mozzarella cheese.  Top with Parmesan cheese.  Bake just until cheese melts, about 10 minutes.

Remove, cut... enjoy!  Weird but good :)  And like I say... use your favorite toppings.  This is just what I came up with as I rummaged through my fridge. 

So... I had two pieces and Dave had the rest.  Well... except for one small slice that I was supposed to eat but I didn't want to have to count any more Weight Watchers points so I threw it in the fridge  That was heroic let me tell you.  I could have easily woofed it down but... that's why I'm refocused on my diet... too much woofing!  I figured Dave would eat the leftover piece later.  This morning when I got up and hungry I opened the fridge to graze and saw that lone little piece...  Hmmm... wait.... flash of brilliance.... yes!  Pizza Omelette   I know I'm crazy but bear with me...

Bet you'd eat that too... unless you don't like spinach... that being the case... leave it out.

I took the left over slice of pizza and chopped it up... added two eggs and a little bit of water.  Then I thought I'd plump up the volume a little and threw in about a cup of chopped fresh spinach.  I just mixed it all together with a fork and poured it in a pan adding a little salt and pepper.  Cooked for a few minutes then added one additional ounce of fresh mozzarella cheese... moved skillet to my toaster oven and broiled the top until set.  Fold, serve... chow!  All that gooiness was 4 PP (weight watcher plus points)

By the way... these creations are dude tested.  Dave liked them too.  If your spouse/family is finicky or suspicious don't tell them about the cauliflower.  They will never know!  I have to admit... I would way rather eat a fat doughy deep crust pizza... no toppings necessary but the days of blind indulgence are over.  They must be balanced with  reasonable eating.  Sad but true!  :)  So recipes like this are a godsend.  Very tasty and satisfying.     

Ok... I really need to get off the couch and go to the gym!  In just a couple of weeks I'm going to TN to celebrate my sweet mama's 80th birthday.  I need to slim down a bit before I get there so I can plump up and then come home and slim down for another couple of weeks before I'm required to appear on a Hawaiian beach in a swim suit.  :)  What a roller coaster!

So... ciao!  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fall is the Perfect Time for Soup!

Whenever anyone says "fall" I immediately think of beautiful colorful leaves.  Such as this tree in my sister Kim's yard In Dover, TN... isn't it stunning?  So glad I got to be there this year to see it!

Then comes the thought of soup!  Yesterday I decided to go out and see if there was anythng left in my poor garden to make some soup with.  I found a few last veg standing, beets, celery and chives.  Just last week Dave was plowing his garden under  and unearthed these beauties...

so I figured that was a good start.  But let's back up...

Everyone knows good soup starts with good soup stock.  Here's my version...

I made this last week.  I've described before how I save all my trimmed veg ends, onions, celery, bell pepper bits along with the bones of eaten chickens in a plastic bag in the freezer.  :)  I know... sounds freaky and obsessive!  But the outcome is so delicious!  I didn't start making my own stock until we moved out here to the sticks.  When I was working from my home office it was easy to pop down and make sure the big vat of stuff most people throw away was not boiling over.  And now that I'm not working at all... well :) It really is sort of a two day process.  First day... boil the bones and veg bits, cool and pick through, scavenging the good chicken bits to be used in a casserole or soup. 

(Side tangent here... I never feel closer to my dear sweet mother in law - who has "moved to heaven" than when I'm making chicken stock.  She was the ultimate in thriftiness and using what was on hand and available.  I remember once at a family dinner at Lorie's (Dave's sis) house, probably Christmas Eve dinner, when Lorie was tossing out some left over peas, that she (Grandma Olsen) was appauled that she would waste them and actually dug them out of the garbage can - only to be thrown out again later by her horrified daughter.  Can you say run on sentence?  Haha!  Anyway... when I'm digging through those bones I can just feel her over my shoulder pointing out that one good bit that I missed.  She had more influence over me than she or I ever imagined.  :)  Good stuff!) 

Ok... Im back...Then strain liquid from the other stuff.  Let cool overnight then Day 2... skim off all the fat and fill the jars.  It freezes really well and can just be thawed in the microwave.

So knowing I had a good supply of stock on hand and some tasty chicken in the fridge I commenced the soup.  Usually I just start and whatever comes out is typically pretty good.  Now that I'm doing the weight watchers thing I sort of need to know what the points value is so I know how much I can eat.  I decided to actually build a recipe.  Weight Watchers e tools has a cool gadget for that.  That recipe is below but first just one more detail to share.  On my way in from the sad garden I was kind of dissatisfied because I didn't really find that much.  I was hoping to unearth a few more of the beautiful golden beets I enjoyed all summer but no... just a few red beets.  Bummer!  And then my eyes fell upon one small pumpkin sitting at the bottom of my front stairs.  Hmm... maybe... Upon closer examination I could tell that it had been frozen and was beginning to go bad so I was about to toss it over to the chickens when the image of that same dear little old white haired lady (Grandma Olsen) popped into my mind and whispered that I probably could use it anyway!  :)  So I lugged it to the sink and cut it open.  Sure enough... it was partially frozen but I figured... so what.  I cleaned, peeled and cubed it up and threw it in.  There was even some left over to stash in the freezer.  It about doubled the volume of the soup.  Score!  And here is what the soup looked like...

And the recipe...

3/4 C uncooked barley, lightly toasted
3/4 C orange (or red/yellow) bell pepper, chopped
1 1/4 C diced sweet onion (such as Walla Walla or Texas Sweets)
1/2 C celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chicken stock
6 cups water
1/2 C raw beets, small diced
5 C fresh pumpkin, peeled, seeded, bout half inch cubes
4 C red potato, half inch dice
1/2 C dried shitaki mushrooms, torn in small pieces
1/2 C cooked chicken
olive oil in a spray bottle
1/2 t salt
1 t cracked black pepper
1/4 t crushed red pepper
1 t ground cumin
1 t curry powder
1/8 t saffron
4 T minced fresh chives

In a medium sized dutch oven lightly toast the barley in one spray of olive oil. Brings out the nutty flavor of the grain.

Add chicken stock to pan and heat to simmer/cook barley in the stock.

Chop onion, seeded bell pepper and celery. In a large skillet saute/lightly carmelize the veggies. Intensifies and deepens their flavor. Season with 1/4 t salt and few grinds of pepper.

Add the minced garlic and saute one additional minute. Add sauted veggies to pot. (Tip: in order to take advantage of the deep intense caramelized flavor on the bottom of the pan, deglaze the pan with a half cup of the soup stock and then pour that stock back in the soup pot.  Ok... you knew that... moving on!)

As the soup thickens, throughout the cooking time add the water... about two cups at a time and bring back to simmer.

Clean and cube pumpkin to half inch dice, add to pot.

Remove tops and tap root of beets. Peel any rough bumps or spots off then small dice the beets. Add to pot.  (this is when I began to panic!  At first the soup was RED!  Then it mellowed into this beautiful bright orange...)

Cube red potatoes to half inch dice, add to pot.
Add curry powder, cumin, crushed red pepper flake and saffron. Simmer until potatoes are tender.

Add chicken, let simmer until heated through.
Reseason with salt/pepper to taste.  Garnish each bowl with fresh minced chives.
By the way... if you happen to be on the weight watchers plan 1 1/2 C soup would be the serving size and that is calculated (by the recipe builder) at 4 PP.   
And this is how it looks served up:
We had a left over "everything" bagel in the pantry so I decided to split it into 4 slices and toasted it in the grill pan then melted Tillimook cheese on top.  I had one slice... Dave had three.  If you wanted to add the 1/4 bagle with half an ounce of cheddar cheese (really... that's all you need) that would bring the points to 7.  But a tasty and satisfying lunch.

There have been so many other tasty things I have whipped up either from a WW recipe in one of my vast collection of cookbooks...or online.  Usually just the product of my wild imagination.  Sometimes they come out ok :)  I'll just throw out a few of them just so you can have an idea of what I do all day long...

Stir-fried veg on shirataki noodles

Just using up the left over salmon that our neighbor Jeremy brought us from Alaska.

This was Dave's latest catch of the day.  A beautiful rainbow trout from Lake Roosevelt...
he likes garlic :)

Oh yeah... I almost forgot about this one... this is left over BBQ pork as a salad topper.  Add a little extra BBQ sauce and scatter it on top of your favorite salad fixins.  This time of year I go crazy over the little satsuma oranges... I threw some of those little segments too along with some avocado and pine nuts... this was maybe a little out of control for a salad on the weight watchers plan but... he who has never overindulged go ahead and cast the first stone.  :)  Yeah baby... this was good! 

Ok... I'm hungry so gotta go...


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Let it Snow!

This morning I opened my eyes and looked out the window to see a beautiful new coat of snow.  That's awesome because of the new (to me) ski equipment Dave and I bought at the ski swap a couple of weeks ago :) Yay!  But... This is our second snow... And it's only November 12th.  We may be in for a long winter!  I guess it's time to get out my snow UGGs and big purple ski suit.

Not quite light out.  The morning procession of turkeys stamping patterns in the snow.

So what to do, what to do.  I suppose I could do this all day...

I call this pic... fat cat on fat Kat.  Yes... this is my life
now.  Tough isnt it?  This is CaliCat.  Our adopted
not by choice kitty that Amberlyn brought to live with
us for six months... a year ago.  I sent Amberlyn this
pic showing her how rough this cat has it... but letting
her know she's really not this fat... she's just not sucking
it in.  Sounds like someone else I know :)  Anyway... we
are practicing for winter.

Recently Dave has taken an interest in my Weight Watchers cook books.  We thought it would be fun to do some cooking together.  Unfortunately today we (he) decided we should cook this... 
                                                         Multigrain Blueberry Squares.
This was supposed to be scones but I decided to make
them squares.  I thought it would be easier to cut them
into smaller portions.  Just to make it fair we cut the
pan down the center.  I then cut Dave's half into four
pieces and then I cut my half into 8 pieces.  One small
piece has a WW Points Plus value of 3.  I had one piece,
Dave ate his entire half of the pan.  Boar Hog!!!

I individually wrapped my squares and put them in the freezer.  I think I'm going to have to share with Dave though because even though they are in the freezer... I know they are there... and they don't take long to thaw!  Even with lighter Weight Watcher recipes... moderation must be practiced.  And that's my weakness!

Today I go for my weekly weigh in.  I had hoped to reach my (initial) goal wight this week.  Early in the week I was doing great and then... well we watched a movie three... no... four nights this week and somehow the air popper spit out enormous quantities of popcorn and since children are starving in Africa or China or where ever my mother used to tell me it was... I had to eat it all!  Arrrrrggghhhh!  Every day is a new challenge!

Well... I really want to share some of my pics from my fall road trip, and I will, but if I don't get off the couch I might as well just call it a day and go back to bed so... next time.