What's on My Food?

Find out what's on your food at: whatsonmyfood.org

Saturday, September 24, 2016

What's a Retreat?


Hi Boys and Girls!

We all have heard of retreats. As a verb, retreat is the act of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous or disagreeable, i.e. forced withdrawal of troops from an enemy. As a noun, retreat means a place you can go to be alone,  to get away from it all. There is also a religious retreat where you get in touch with your spiritual beliefs. A synonym for retreat is beautiful and private place. Let's talk about the synonym!

Recently, five of my nearest and dearest friends had a retreat at Mountain Laurel Retreat in New Braunfels. Mountain Laurel Retreat. It is a beautiful and private place...to quilt, stitch, eat good food, laugh, oh, did I mention that? And, of course, to rest. Sleep in without the pressures of feeding the dogs, cats, husbands, etc.

We all arrived and unloaded out projects to be completed in four days! Yeah, right...retreaters always take more than is possibly feasible to finish. Anyway, this retreat center is high on a hill over-looking the hills of New Braunfels, Texas. Sunrises are exquisite and sunsets are awesome. Once we got settled in our room of choice, we set up our sewing stations. So many choices...face the view, face the land in back or face each other. The design walls cover the entire room. As we are working, we can display our progress on the felt-covered design wall. Heaven!

Now, lets get to the serious stuff....FOOD! We divided meals amongst us. MLR has a full kitchen with all utensils provided. The first night, Sherry cooked chalupas! So, good. Next night we had King Ranch Casserole by June. This is the best I have EVER tasted! Believe me, some people can ruin this to no end. June also made fresh Peach Cobbler. Peaches were from June's tree! Another night, we had homemade pizza freshly delivered from Wimberley, Texas just a short distance away. Jennifer did the honors. It was on my no-no list but did that stop me? Naw! Other meals included broccoli salad by Sue, quiche by Martha and quesadillas and flan by yours truly.

If you want time to just sew, sew and sew more, you must go on a retreat. You can book at MLR and take advantage of the specials or sign up with your guild. You will not regret going to a retreat! You will laugh until your belly hurts and your eyes water. You will learn new techniques that you thought were so hard. You will have fellow quilters give suggestions and advice....you will eat really good food! And remember, WHAT HAPPENS AT RETREAT, STAYS AT RETREAT!

Please share your favorite retreat center. What is so special about it? How far will you drive to attend a retreat? I know I will be driving almost three hours  to my next one at the Compass Centre in Waco.

Until next time, finish that project and schedule a retreat!


Saturday, September 10, 2016

She's Back!!

Hi Boys and Girls!

Well, after a long hiatus, I have returned. Skipping the long story is best, don't you think?
To make a long story short, after losing two beloved cats, one even more beloved brother, gaining a new SIL and getting two grandchildren along with holidays in the hospital, this girl is back and up and running...Well, let's just say back...

Rather than all the gory details, let's just start in the here and now. That is always best, right?

With the coming of fall, we all think of the cooler weather and cozy dinners. Think Thanksgiving! Me? No way! I have a new banshee...I mean kitten. I know he is not Irish and is not female but he is a holy terror. Let me show you.
 Yes, this is Panda...this is the holy terror. See below how he sees himself!
Yes, Panda is really Sir, Kill a Lot. I wish I could give credit to this photo because they know my Panda! I would show you my war wounds but that would spoil your dinner.

Well, this is all for today. Keep smiling and don't think about the turmoil ahead. Remember, when you are smiling, everybody is wondering what you are up too!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Cute...

Don't ask me to get down, I don't know how I got up!

Now, there is no way but up...

 I think I can...
I think I can...

Boy! Am I high!

Mommy, I am ready to come down now...

Thank you for the toy, Mommy!

OK, if this is what makes you happy...

My normal day in the quilt studio...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Too Hot for Chili? Never!

Is it too Hot for Chili?

Never!! It may be 95 degrees outside but yesterday, I had a hankering for some chili.

One small bag of pinto beans (fresh is best but Goyo brand is very good)
1-2 lbs ground beef  (I use organic from Costco)
3-4 garlic cloves
2-3 chopped onions (I used 5-6 onions from a neighbor's garden, they were small)
1-3 TBLS red chili, preferably from Hatch, NM
1 large can of tomato sauce
1 large can of chopped tomatoes
Salt to taste.

One day before meal or early in the morning, wash and inspect beans. Put in large pot and cover with water. Swish your hand in the beans to rinse any mud off of beans. Drain & rinse beans in colander. Put in pot with clean water. Let sit for a couple of hours. Drain & rinse again. Put beans in fresh pot of water and let sit all day or overnight. Next, morning, drain & rinse again (unless you like to fart a lot) and fill pot with fresh water and beans. Slow cook for an hour.

Saute onions, garlic and beef in skillet. Drain off some of the fat if too much. Add tomato sauce, tomatoes and 1-3 TBLS red chili.
Simmer for about 20 minutes. Add to pot of beans and simmer on low for another hour or so. Best if served the next day, but too good to wait.
Serve with fresh chopped onions, grated cheddar cheese, cilantro, chopped jalapeno, and saltine crackers.
Don't forget the beer!


Monday, April 30, 2012

New Beginnings

Hi Boys and Girls!

Just got back from Virginia. I was there three weeks and had the privilege of witnessing the birth of my granddaughter, Sarah Rachel…what an experience! Virginia is a beautiful state. I did not get to see a lot of it because more important matters were at hand…New Beginnings…A new life brought into this world.

 The cutest little baby girl!

Isaac Henry, 19 months, of course did not remember me. The last time I saw him, he was 6 months old. So, you can see he is not sure of this woman just picking him up and loving on him. But before long we were having fun and going places. The most fun was Boxerwood Gardens. http://boxerwood.org/visit/index.asp This was a fun place for kids of all ages. The 20 aces was left by a doctor and his wife for the enjoyment of discovery. There were huge turtles in a pond, hiking trails with discoveries around every turn and lots of play areas for little tykes. Isaac especially like the running stream where he played with the rocks for over an hour.

Isaac really did not know that this little bundle making funny noises, squeaks and burbs was a little sister. But by the time I left he knew she was special...A real thing…not a doll, not a toy but a real living human being.

Since I was there 3 weeks I did a lot of cooking. Personally, I love anything someone else cooks for me. I knew my cooking would be greatly appreciated. Out of all the dishes I made, one really made a hit with my son-in-law…my famous risotto! There is no recipe but I will try and re-create it for you.

2 cups Arborio rice

2 Tbls olive oil

1 onion, chopped

½ cup chopped celery (celery hearts preferred)

1 cup peas (broccoli or asparagus work also)

3-4 organic chicken and herb sausage, sliced (I use Buddy’s Natural Chicken)

1 32 oz Pacific Organic chicken broth

4-5 sprigs of fresh basil

Parmesan cheese

Sauté the onion and rice in olive oil until onion is translucent.

Add the herb sausage and continue to sauté until lightly browned.

Add the celery and continue to cook for about a minute.

Add the vegetable along with the chicken broth.
Bring to a boil and lower heat.

Place sprigs of fresh basil on top.

Cover pan. Simmer for about 35-40 minutes.

When done, gently stir rice.

Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Adjust this any way you like. Add more veggies or less if you prefer. I sometimes do not add the sausage. My husband makes it with only rice and chicken broth...BORING...but any way you make it it will be good. This picture is before I made the final stir.

Another favorite was Orange Beef with Broccoli. This comes from the cookbook Reader’s Digest Vegetables for Vitality. http://www.amazon.com 

I think I have mentioned this cookbook before. Everything is good in this book. Here is the recipe but I am leaving out the nutritional values. By the way, all the recipes have the nutritional content at the end of each recipe.

Orange Beef with Broccoli

2 tsp cornstarch

¼ cup dry sherry

2 TBLS reduced sodium soy sauce (I substituted a mixture of Sake and sesame seed oil only because I did not have dry sherry or soy sauce).

¼ tsp baking soda

12 oz flank steak, cut into thin strips

4 tsps olive oil

4 TBLS orange zest (finely grated orange rind, but not the pith)

¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

5 cups broccoli florets and stems (preferably organic)

1 red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks

4 scallions, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup jicama matchsticks

In Medium bowl, whisk together cornstarch, sherry, soy sauce, and baking soda. Add steak, tossing to coat. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

In large skillet, heat 3 tsp of oil. Reserving marinade, adds beef, half of orange zest, and pepper flakes to skillet. Stir-fry until beef is just cooked, 3 minutes. Transfer to plate.

Add remaining oil, broccoli, bell pepper, scallions, and garlic to skillet. Cook 3 minutes, Add ½ cup water. Cook until broccoli is crisp-tender. 2 minutes.

Stir 1/3 cup water and reserved marinade into skillet. Bring to boil. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Return beef to skillet. Add jicama. Cook until beef is heated through. Garnish with remaining orange zest.
Yes, it is as good as it looks!

I had a chance to visit a darling quilt shop (I have not met a quilt shop that is NOT darling)! It is in Fairfield, VA.

The Quiltery. They had a lot of Civil War fabrics batiks, baby fabric...and lots of threads. Prices were comparable to Texas. The old house was perfect for a quilt shop. It has creaky hardwood floors and lots of ambiance.
The Quiltery in Fisherville, VA.

So, now I am back home and trying to adjust to no babies. Shannon’s family is complete.

I am grateful I could help her and be there to see Sarah enter the world.

Try these recipes and tell me what you think. In the meantime, cook something for a friend. Better yet, have that friend over for lunch and make a special meal…no reason…just because it is good for the heart and the soul!

Until next time…kiss a baby!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Day 4 with Bill & Marsha

Hi Boys and Girls:

Day 4. Another fantastic day with Bill & Marsha from Kirkland, WA. My brother is here to wire my quilt studio AKA Casita, for wi-fi and cable.
This is only part of the equipment he brought. Most of it did the trick and he only had to buy some extra little things. I now have wi-fi in the studio and cable for a TV if I so desire. He is a saint!

Marsha did her magic at Bussey's Flea Market today. http://wwwbusseysfm.com
She found me an old wrought iron plant hanger that will go on one of the posts of the quilt studio. Remember the gorgeous hanging planter she made? Well, it can hang from this hanger. Roberto is funking it up a bit before he mounts it on the post.

Of course, I had to make a famous dinner. I am not bragging! They told me this...anyway, I made fish tacos but a bit differently. The fish came from Costco. There was a taste testing last week when I shopped and I knew it would be for tacos. It is called Tortilla Crusted Tilapia. It is "white fish; flaky fillets with tortilla, chipolte & lime crust." Freshly made flour tortillas were a hit (Costco). Now, you tell me, does this look good or what?
The fish is in the background on the foil. I baked it in the convection oven for 15 minutes. The sides to go with the tacos were: tomatillo sauce (Costco), Sadie's hot sauce (HEB), avocados (HEB), Spanish rice (mine!) and chips...Oh, and we had Funf 5 Riesling(Their motto is Fun begins at 5)...oh so good!

After lots of after dinner chatter, we are ready for a movie. Oh, the time is going by too fast!

Until next time...eat fish!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Something Missing in My Old Standby

Hi Boys and Girls!

Sorry for the long sabbatical…I have lots to tell you…especially about my new quilt studio…But this opinion about my favorite restaurant in New Braunfels takes precedence.

My most favorite restaurant has been the Huisache Grill in New Braunfels. I started going there when it was an itsy-bitsy one-room eatery with local paintings on the wall. The charm of the train going by not more than 50 feet away was overshadowed by the exceptional food and service. I would say I have been eating there almost 20 years.

Something is missing. Last night’s meal did not meet my expectations. My guests from Seattle were fascinated by the décor along with the ambiance of the gardens and shops. The wine list is excellent but short on Pacific Northwest wines...to be expected.

However, they too were not impressed with their meal. OK, let’s start with my favorite dish…the pork sandwich. It used to be served on a sourdough bun. Now it is on a typical hamburger bun which is thin and flavorless. The pork would melt in my mouth. Not last night’s sandwich. The pork was tough. How can pork tenderloin EVER be tough? Anyway, the sweet potato fries with it were very good.

My other favorite dish was penne pasta. In fact, I only ordered the above sandwich and the penne pasta in all the years I ate at Huisache Grill. The pasta was al dente and sautéed in olive oil along with artichoke hearts, tomatoes, capers, spinach. It was fresh and the flavor outstanding. Two orders of that same dish came to our table last night. Gone is the olive oil replaced with a white sauce. Something is missing…it was not the same. One guest ordered it with chicken. The chicken was a jokingly small piece that was hardly worth $5 extra. Too much white sauce and too many tomatoes…Scratch that off my favorite list.

And the final blow...who serves outstanding chocolate cake with ice milk? It is almost un-American to live in Texas and not serve Blue Bell ice cream.

I must say the Hogue wine was excellent. The server Jessica was very accommodating.

So what is it? Am I really getting too particular or too set in my ways? I think not. You know the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That certainly applies to restaurant fare. And it certainly applies to Huisache Grill.

In the meantime, continue to expect great things from restaurants that have become legendary…the old standby should be just that…dependable and a cut above the rest. Come on Huisache...get back to your legendary standard...you can do it!

Until next time, kiss the cook.