Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Great Fall Food Ideas

We have had to use our oven a lot lately to keep our apartment warm! Here are a few of the treats we've been making.
Butternut Squash Soup, Autumn Ham, and Molasses Wheat Bread

Banana-Chocolate Nut Bread
Gemelli Pasta with Ham, Peas, and Carrots

Lamb Stew with Irish Soda Bread

Au gratin Potato Casserole

Dates with Goat Cheese and Strawberry Glaze

Slow Roasted Lamb with Mashed Potatoes and Caper Gravy

Acorn Squash

Butter Pecan Cake

Gorgonzola Meatballs with Pasta Shells

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hickory Run State Park, Poconos

On Oct. 10-12, we spent a chilly weekend camping in Northeastern PA. After a short 1 1/2-2 hour drive, we arrived at Hickory Run State Park. (Near Stanton-not as bad as Biden makes it out to be.) The drive was beautiful, and the road right up to the park was a canopy of perfectly Autumn colored leaves.
Top 6 things:
-cooking over the campfire (s'mores!)

-hopping around the boulder field

-hiking the trails

-exploring the Lehigh River

-taking in Autumn colors for the first time in years

-relaxing in the chilled air

I make a white chili at home a lot, and took it on the road with us. It was easy enough to cook outside (in relative darkness), and just as delicious.  I pre-measured out the spices and just packed all the ingredients ready to throw into the pot. This is from the Taste of Home cookbook.
1 pound chicken breasts, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cans (15 ½ oz each) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
14 ounces chicken broth
8 ounces chopped green chilies
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
½ cup heavy whipping cream

In a large saucepan, saute chicken, onion and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add the beans, broth, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in sour cream and cream. Serve immediately.

When we were leaving, we tried to stay off the turnpike to see a little more of the area. We eventually had to get back on the highway, but we stumbled through the enchanting town of Jim Thorpe (right in the middle of a town festival). We definitely have plans to return (perhaps by train), and will be sure to stop at a great ice cream/coffee shop-I'm not sure of the name, but it was right beside the Subway.  It was the best ice cream I have had in a while (even better than Cold Stone).

Coast Day 2008!

On Oct. 5, we embarked on our first (annual) Coast Day adventure. Coast Day is sponsored by the University of Delaware, but is located in the southern part of the state at the Lewes (pronounced Lewis) campus. Since my husband is a ph.d. student in marine biosciences, we went down to check out just what the day was all about. We had originally thought we may move to Lewes, before he was sure of what professor he would be working with. It is a very charming coastal town, with lots of (tax-free) shopping.

Coast Day was a much larger event than I had expected. We followed most of the other visitors and went toward the boats first. There were many boats at dock, and were open for free tours. Brian and I toured the boat pictured below, which is a recreation of a colonial boat that now takes tourists on boating adventures.

Next, we visited the touch tanks, where you could touch many of the marine species found in this area, such as horseshoe crabs, rays, sharks, and other fish.
After this, we passed many other exhibits on the way to watch a local chef demonstrate how to make a Thai Shrimp Curry Dish. It was very interesting to watch a live cooking demo, and of course Brian was most interested in tasting the food. A posting of our own variation of this dish will be coming soon.
We then avoided the boat show (too tempting for Brian) and hit up the food court. We participated in the "Chowder Challenge," voting for our favorite of two clam chowders. The tasty recipe winner can be found on the above website (does anyone know where to buy Clam Stock?). We then also shared a tasty Crab Cake (to fully integrate into coastal society).

After this, we wondered through the exhibit areas. Brian recognized a lot of the research displays, and some of the people working the displays. After soaking in just about all of the Coast Day festivities we could, we cheered on a crab in the crab race tent, and found our way back to our car, toured southern Delaware a little bit more, and headed back up to Newark (stopping at our favorite fresh food stand on the way up).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

In Search of Shepherd's Pie

Last night the hubby and I decided to eat somewhere on Main Street. We'd missed a happy hour for scientists at Kildare's Irish Pub earlier in the week, so we decided to go there. Though I would have preferred a quieter place (it was Friday night in a college town) the atmosphere was pretty good. Brian would have prefered to actually hear the music though. He ordered a Philly cheesesteak boxty, and thought it was pretty good, just salty. I almost always ordered shepherd's pie at Irish places, so I went ahead and ordered it. I was slightly disappointed-it was okay, but not a great dish. The fried onions that were on top were really great, and they did carry my favorite (and hard to find) cider, but the pie just let me down. I think if we'll return, we'll just go for appetizers. Which we should get for free, for joining their fan club.
In downtown Tempe, our favorite Irish place, with music you can hear, is the famed Rula Bula. Their shepherd's pie is awesome.

I have also been making my own shepherd's pie a lot recently. This recipe is modified from one in my Rachel Ray cookbook.

2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ pound bacon, chopped
1 lb of ground lamb
1 ½ teaspoons paprika
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon thyme
coarse black pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups frozen peas
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef stock
½ cup sour cream
10 fresh chives, chopped

Heat a deep, large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil to the skillet, then add the bacon and brown it up. Drain off the excess fat, then add the lamb to the pan. Season the meat with the paprika, cumin, thyme and a sprinkle of salt and black pepper. When the turkey is browned, add the onions, carrots, and celery. Season the veggies with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the peppers and peas and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add the stock and combine. Stir in ½ cup of the sour cream and simmer the mixture over low heat for at least 10 minutes.

Serve with mashed potatoes, and chives on top.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Needlepointing has been a hobby of mine since I started 4-H about 15 years ago. It is about the most creative thing I can do-and of course it is really just following a pattern. I have recently decided to start working with this craft again, and have already completed a few needlepoints that will be Christmas gifts. Following are some of my creations.

-This was the last needlepoint that I did for 4-H. It now hangs in my home, which is especially fitting since I now live close to the coast. I especially like the way this one is framed, and the stripes on the tower.

-This was a needlepoint I just completed this August. I had bought it on clearance years ago, and decided to work on it when I was reorganizing my house. I modified the design, changing the brunette to a redhead.

-I made this one years ago. When I was looking at it back home, I realized it looks almost exactly like my cat, and decided I had to hang it in Kiki's bathroom.

Starting a Blog

Reading some of my friends' blogs has inspired me to start my own.  Some reasons/plans for the blog include:
-Having a place to put my food pictures and share good recipes.
-Documenting our treks around Delaware, so I remember which places to revisit or stay away from.
-To stay intellectually active, by trying to write interestingly.
-This is a good place to review books and movies that I've seen.
-So I can let friends and family know what we are doing in DE

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Locks of Love

I have had long hair all my life. Really long hair. And recently, I decided to just get rid of it. I was just tired of putting it in long braids everyday. A friend suggested I donate to Locks of Love, and I always felt like I should give to this organization. It took me a few weeks to finally decide to go to a salon, and a long time to pick one when I did. I ended up going to Schilling-Douglas School of Hair Design.
I went on an errand right before I was going I was going to the hair salon, and a women coming in the door behind me commented on how beautiful my hair was, and asked me how long it had took to grow it. My stomach turned at this, and made me more reserved about cutting my hair, but I still went ahead with it. The girls at the school were very excited, and jealous of the guy stylist who ended up cutting my hair. He cut about 14 inches off. I was oddly unattached when I finally got it cut.

My long hair:

My short hair: