Monday, November 17, 2008

Caffe Gelato

The first place we ever dined in Delaware was the restaurant Caffe Gelato. Brian's then-future-advisor took us there when we were visiting the campus. I really enjoyed the food, but it is a little too pricey to go there often. So we waited until my birthday, and finally went there again. They have a lot of pasta, as any good Italian restaurant, and are known for their wine selection. I have ordered the same entree both times:
An eight-ounce filet mignon, served with a roasted shallot and green peppercorn demi-glace, pancetta mashed potatoes, sauteed fine herbs and baby carrots.
I highly recommend Cafe G.

This post wouldn't be complete without mentioning the dessert. Of course they have great gelato, but I never have any room left to enjoy dessert.

Book Recommendation: Twilight Part 2... 3... and 4

So, for the last week I have basically been wrapped up in my blankets in my room, escaping the crisp air and rain outside. Though I did drag myself out of bed to go to work and celebrate my birthday, I spent the rest of the time reading. Right on through the Twilight series. :) I'm talking serious reading-skipping meals, phone off, staying up really late, even missing the Top Chef premiere.

I know it sounds like a silly series, vampires and all, and it is really meant for adolescents, but I really just enjoyed escaping to Forks and Bella's life. I haven't been that wrapped up in a series since I started reading the Harry Potter series (when most the books were already out). Or when I started reading Jodi Picoult books. It is just so invigorating to read a really addictive book-it makes me sad for people who don't like to read.

I also really appreciated the "small world" I entered when I read her acknowledgement at the back of book 3. She thanks Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, which happened to be my very favorite bookstore right next to Wildflower. I bought many, many good books there.

My husband is so glad I'm done reading though, so I can start cooking for him again.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Book Recommendation: Twilight

For the last few years, I have seen the same black covered book in the bookstores, and in students hands. I glanced at the back cover once, and it didn't make me want to read the book at all. I thought it wouldn't be very good.

After a friend recommended it to me, I finally started reading the book Twilight. This was yesterday afternoon. I finished it today. I think that is enough said.

It was definitely a hard book to put down. There are three more books already in the series, and I can't decide whether to start reading them, or wait until I am on a school break. I'm afraid I'll start reading them and not be able to put my book down to do work.

Now I'm super excited to see the movie come out in a few days.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Day Trip: Lancaster, PA

The hubby and I had a lovely drive Saturday. Our destination was Lancaster, PA, specifically for a friend's husband's art sale.
After a few errands, our first stop was at Bravo Pizza. There are only two locations of this restaurant, both in Pennsylvania. We were looking for a quick place, and this was perfect for that. You can simply pick a slice from a large variety of pizzas, and they will put it in the brick oven and have it to you within minutes. It reminded me of a place in Tempe called Slices. Definetly a nice little pizzeria.
Next, driving through a lot of little towns, we stopped at one called Gap. Here we entered  The Town Clock Cheese Shoppe, a surprisingly charming destination.  By simply "putting your hand in," you get a taste of whatever cheese any customer is trying. We tried Havarti, Swiss, cheddar, and mango cheeses. We came away with a Swiss and cheddar, as well as some cheese curds-which reminded me of squeaky cheese. It will definitely get our repeat business.

We then finally arrived at Josh Heim's pottery sale. He had lots of beautiful pieces, and we bought a few, most notably the platter below. He is also making a cylindrical vase for us in the same style as this one (for dips).

Chocolate Walnut Breakfast Bread

When I bought new bread pans a few weeks ago, this recipe was inside the pan. It is delicious! If you like chocolate chip cookies, you will like this. We like to eat this bread for dessert or breakfast.

Ingredients for 2 loaves:

4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups milk
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups chocolate morsels, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grease two large loaf pans.
  3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Combine eggs, milk, and vegetable oil in a medium bowl.
  5. Add wet ingredients to the flour mixture; mix just until moistened.
  6. Stir in 1 1/2 cups morsels and nuts.
  7. Spoon into prepared loaf pans.
  8. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  9. Cool in pans for 10 minutes.
  10. Remove from pans.
  11. Put the remaining chocolate morsels in a baggie, and into a bowl of hot tap water and set it on top of the stove near where the oven vents.
  12. When melted, squeeze chocolate to drizzle over bread. (if you are creative, you can make neat designs like my husband)

Wildflower vs. Panera Bread

When Jefferson Pointe first went up in Fort Wayne, IN, I was in love with the restaurant Panera Bread. It has awesome soup, and nice cafe sandwiches. However, when I moved to Arizona, they didn't have any Panera Bread restaurants. I mourned for a couple of years, and I would hit up Panera anytime I was back within range.

Then, I wondered upon a cafe in Arizona called Wildflower Bread Company. It reminded me of Panera, but was even better (especially the sandwiches). Wildflower became my favorite quick restaurant (conveniently located by my favorite bookstore, Changing Hands).

Now that we have moved again, I am slightly saddened by the fact that we are back to where we started.  Delaware has Panera Bread, but no Wildflower.  Funny how things change.

Thai Curry

After we saw a chef make a Thai curry at Coast Day, Brian and I decided to make our own variation. Brian doesn't like shrimp, so we tried this with both chicken and beef. It is a good spicy meal to make, but does require a few harder-to-find ingredients. I ordered these from a quick online market when I couldn't find them at my local store. Brian recommends that you not lick your fingers after touching the curry paste.

1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoon vegetable oil, divided
2 pounds beef or chicken strips
1 pinch sugar
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup sliced onion
1 tablespoon Thai greet curry paste
1 (14-oz) can coconut milk
1 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 cup petite-cut diced tomatoes
6 cups hot, cooked jasmine rice
Combine 2 teaspoons oils with beef/chicken and season lightly with salt, sugar, and red pepper flakes.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook meat in skillet until browned, in two batches if necessary.
Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in now empty skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; stir fry until soft and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add curry paste, stir about 1 minute. Add coconut milk, broth, fish sauce, and sugar; bring to a simmer. Add tomatoes and simmer 2 minutes. Add meat and cook another minute. Serve over hot, cooked jasmine rice.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Delaware Book Festival

Sunday we went to the Delaware Book Festival. The festival was quite a bit smaller than Arizona's, and still had some kinks to work out (food lines, book stores lines), but it was still a nice time. It was located in Dover, near the state capital, which is actually quite beautiful. I was most excited to meet Marc Brown, author of the Arthur books, and Jon Scieszka, one of my favorite authors. He is especially interested in getting guys to love reading, and has written the following: The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, Math Curse, Squids Will be Squids, Science Verse, and Summer Reading is Killing Me! Scieszka (rhymes with Fresca) was very entertaining-as are his books.

Here is a list of other book festivals:
National Book Festival Washington DC: (WE MISSED IT! Apparently this was in September)
Arizona Book Festival Phoenix, AZ (Undetermined date)
Free Library Festival: Philadelphia, PA (April 18-19)

My New Job

I have started working again! I have found a job at a middle school as a math interventionist. My position will include working with groups (7-11 kids) simply to improve their math skills. Check out my school at A. G. Waters.

Movie Recommendations: The Duchess & Changeling

I have recently watched both the Duchess staring Kiera Knightley, and Changeling staring Angelina Jolie. Both movies were based on true stories of two very different, yet very similar women. The Duchess is based on the life of Georgiana Cavendish, born in 1757, and though a very long movie, it was extremely captivating and emotional. The same could be said about Changeling, based on the story of Christine Johnson in 1928. It actually carried two of the same themes as the first movie:  of motherhood, and the role of women in history.

I highly recommend either movie-both tearjerkers, which will stay in your mind for a long time after the viewing.

Shannon's Sweet Potato & Sausage Soup

I got the idea to make a sausage and sweet potato soup a few weeks ago, but could not find a good recipe. I pretty much came up with this one on my own, adding spices that my husband normally likes with sweet potatoes. I'm actually not a big sweet potato fan, but I really like this soup. Feel free to change it up.

1 lb. pork sausage (I use my families own butchered pork)
1 large onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, cut into 1/4 inch slices
4 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cloves

In a large soup pot, break up sausage and cook until browned, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Transfer sausage to paper towels to drain. Drain excess oil, but leave a couple tablespoons in the pot. Add onions and garlic and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and cook until beginning to soften, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Add broth, brown sugar, and cloves; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Using potato masher, mash some of potatoes in pot. Add browned sausage to soup. Season with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls and serve.