Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Summer cannot go away. . . not now!

As I pulled out of my driveway yesterday morning and my eyes looked at the road ahead, something stuck out in my field of vision. A large maple tree had a small patch of red. Ugghh. Yes, I enjoy the fall colors as much as anyone and here in the Northeast, it is a beautiful time of year when the trees have turned red, gold, yellow, and orange. But I'm just not ready to give up Summer!

I promised myself after the brutally harsh winter we had this past season that I would not complain about the heat and humidity of summer. I kept that promise, even on the days we had unbearable heat in the three figures. (Okay, I admit I have central air in my home, so it is easier for me not to complain about the heat!)

But change is coming. . . in the weather. . . . (I gotta say this!) AND HOPEFULLY IN THE POLITICAL ARENA!!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

How to make homemade pasta

Since my last post, two people e-mailed me asking how to make homemade pasta. It is really easy and you can do it "manually" without having pasta making equipment. I have a Kitchen Aid mixer with three attachments for pasta making. The first attachment is used to flatten the dough. You run it through this attachment 4 or 5 times. The other two attachments I have are for fettucini and spaghetti.

Then you "hang it out to dry"! As the picture in the post below demonstrates, you hang it on rods to dry for up to a half hour before cooking.

If you don't have equipment for pasta making, you can still get good results, it will just take a bit longer. You would knead the dough, then roll it with a rolling pin to a thin sheet. Using a knife, cut your strips of pasta. If you don't have a drying rack, simply hang it on a coat hanger or over the back of a chair covered with cloth or wax paper.

There are many different recipes. The one I used:

2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons water
1/4 teaspoon olive oil

After mixing the dough and kneading it, let it rest, wrapped in cellophane wrap for about 30 minutes. Then roll it out with a rolling pin - or use a pasta machine.

There are all kinds of variations. You could use whole wheat flour. Or you can finely chop fresh spinach in a food processor and combine that with your flour.

Don't be afraid to experiment with different recipes and methods. It is unlikely that you will be a failure with it!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Homemade Pasta with Fresh Vegetables

I made pasta and combined it with fresh vegetables cooked in a sauce of olive oil, lemon juice, and salt tonight. The above picture shows the pasta drying.

Here are the vegetables cooking.

And the finished product!

This is a quick and easy meal that is delicious.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Delicious Swiss Chard with Garbanzo Beans and Fresh Tomatoes

This one's a winner, folks!

2 tablespoons olive oil (or more)
1 bunch scallions (white part only)
1/2 cup garbanzo beans
salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch swiss chard
1 fresh tomato, sliced
juice from 1/2 of a lemon

Heat oil in a large skillet. Stir in the chopped scallions and stir a few minutes. Add garbanzo beans and stir another few minutes. Add salt and pepper. Add chopped swiss chard (both leaves and stems). Cook, stirring until leaves are wilted and stems become slightly soft. Add sliced tomato to heat through. Then add the lemon juice and mix well.

This makes a nice vegetarian meal or a side dish served with meat.

Note: You need a very large skillet to hold the chard until it wilts. I used my 15" cast iron skillet and it was none too large for this recipe.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A walk with Molly on the Canal Path

On a recent sunny day, I took Molly for a walk on the Canal Path, one of her favorite things to do. Our usual walk is between Edgewood Dr. and Clover St and back, a distance of 2 miles round trip.

We stopped to visit with another dog out for a walk. The dog's owner held Molly's leash while I snapped this picture. He proudly told me this was his third rescue dog and it came from out of state. [Rochester is known as a receiving center for rescue dogs throughout the country] While I respect everyone's choice of a dog, and in fact, one of my "granddogs" is a rescue dog who has turned into an excellent family pet, I have a very deep love for purebred Labs. Molly is my third Lab since 1985 and I have never been disappointed in my choice. I listened to this gentleman's dissertation on why everyone should choose a rescue dog for a few minutes and then politely said, "We should be on our way, I have an appointment later today."

"Sherry insists we stop for a break in the shade."

[Wish I had seen that white speck on her head (a piece of a wildflower) before I snapped this one!]

One of the many tour boats you see on the Canal. Notice the bikes on top!

I have a high regard for the Erie Canal that runs across New York State from Buffalo over to the Hudson River. As I have mentioned on other posts, twice I have ridden my bike across NYS, mostly following the Canal Path. In addition, I have spent a great deal of time over the years paddling a canoe or kayak, riding my bike, walking, or having lunch at one of the numerous restaurants along the Canal. In the 38 years I have lived in Rochester, I have seen the Canal in the Rochester area go from an almost forgotten waterway to a thriving recreational and tourist attraction. It now brings people in from out of state as a destination. There are companies that rent pontoon boats and larger craft for navigating across the state on multi-day trips.

Just a brief history of the Erie Canal in the Rochester region. Nathaniel Rochester was the Donald Trump of his day. He managed to get the original canal to run through the city of Rochester through what is now Interstate 490! He was a flour merchant and this allowed him easy transportion of his product to distant destinations! That, of course, was long ago done away with and the current canal runs south of the city. There is still part of a stone lock from that original canal alongside I-490 leading into downtown Rochester.

Monday, August 15, 2011

My portable convection oven

Anyone who has ever been in my kitchen will tell you, the kitchen is my playroom. I enjoy all types of cooking and baking, as witnessed by my extensive cookbook collection, my Kitchen Aid mixer, my large cast iron cookware collection, my George Forman grill and rotisserie, my three crockpots, my juicing machine . . you get the picture!

Last year I bought this deni portable convection oven. I bought it to take on my trip South for our annual cousins reunion, which regular readers of my blog are familiar with. The small Alabama town where we meet is lacking in fine dining establishments. In 2010, we found ourselves going to a Shoney’s Restaurant the night before the reunion. It was crowded, noisy, and the food was mediocre. And I couldn’t have a glass of wine with my dinner! Mercy! This year we cooked in my hotel room. The first night, there were three of us so I made hamburgers. The next night there were five so I made a roast chicken and made a salad with fresh vegetables. They were amazed at what I put together for them!

It was fun just to be “us” and not have a noisy crowd to deal with or worry about the next table hearing our conversation.

When I came home, I found I enjoyed using it at home as well. I can make a roast chicken in a lot less time than my conventional oven takes. This picture shows the chicken cooking. There is another tray (not shown here) to use for things like hamburgers, or you could cook pork chops on the top tray and put vegetables on the lower tray.

Clean up is easy. Everything except the lid (which has the electrical stuff) can go in the dishwasher. They included a recipe book and a rack to set the hot lid on when your food is done.

Color me old and set in my ways, but I’m all about healthy eating. This oven caters to that. Because the fat drains to the bottom of the big bowl, your food is more nutritious and healthy.

I first heard of these appliances when I was channel surfing and found an infomercial on another brand with Mr. T (remember him?) as the host. After a little research, I found the best choice is one that has a glass bowl, as opposed to plastic that will crack over time. The deni had a lot of positive reviews on different websites and I have been pleased with it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


"I'm usually a good natured dog, but I don't like Sherry constantly flashing that light in my face."

This is Molly, my lovable black Lab. . . Actually, she's part Lab and part human.

I can't imagine my life without a Lab in my home.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Take a hike!

I mean that literally! In the previous post, I showed you pictures of the hike a friend and I took in one of our County Parks on Wednesday. It wasn't really planned. . . I sent her an e-mail scolding her for not posting on her blog in months. She wrote back and accepted blame and then asked me if I'd be interested in going on a hike the next day. That is like asking my dog if she wants a treat.

Now, two days later, I'm starting to realize the real benefits of that hike. We walked through open fields, along wooded paths, and past wildflowers. The woods were beautiful and a couple of times I just had to stop to take it all in. We came to a crossing of trails and she said, "If we go that way, it will add about a half hour or we can go this way and its much shorter." Without hesitation, I said, "Let's go the long way."

According to the app on her iPhone, we covered 4 miles in a peaceful setting. Then we were off to a nice little coffee shop where you can get all kinds of fresh made sandwiches and the like. "Ginger, do you really think we should go in looking like we do?" I had mud all over the bottom of my pants.

I got home a little before 9:00 pm. I've been dealing with tough issues over the past months and sometimes this really gets me down. My friends have been great in involving me in activities to distract me, like bicycling, hiking, sporting clays shooting, or just inviting me over for a visit. Just being out in the woods, away from the rat race of life, taking in the scenery really boosted my morale.

I'm convinced if you have friends who care and you find things to do that you enjoy, no problem is insurmountable.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A hike in Black Creek Park

My friend, Ginger, asked me to hike Black Creek Park with her this afternoon. She didn't have to beg! The above image is an app from her iPhone that shows our route, how long the hike took, how many miles. . . even how many calories we burned!

So come along on our hike and enjoy!

This is looking down on Black Creek from the trail high above.

And after the hike, we went to this neat place for a light dinner. It was a fun afternoon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Michael and Marisa!

My son, Michael, and his wife, Marisa, were married 14 years ago today. Marisa, thank you for making my son happy.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A visit to Autumn's Harvest Farm

This morning I took a drive from Rochester over to Autumn's Harvest Farm, a little more than a one hour drive from my home, to buy grass fed beef, roasting chickens, sausage and FARM FRESH EGGS! I have never had farm fresh eggs and the ones I brought home had just been laid this morning so I couldn't wait to get home and have scrambled eggs for lunch!

I went to this farm two years ago and posted about it here . I am ashamed it took me so long to get back over there. With more awareness on the undesirable way animals are raised and produced for the market, I decided either I was going to go total vegetarian or be more careful about the meat I buy. (If you haven't seen the movie Food, Inc, it may be worth your while to watch it. . . as disgusting as it is. You can find it online.)

The farm is owned and operated by a young couple with small children. He has hired an employee to help since I was there last. I can't tell you the huge difference in taste of grass fed beef and poultry as opposed to those on the huge corporate farms who are fed corn products and kept in unsanitary conditions. If you google "benefits of grass fed beef" you probably won't go back to the "store bought" kind again.

It was a nice drive on a sunny day in Western New York. Once I left the New York State Thruway at the Geneva exit, it was a pleasant drive through farmland, miles and miles of farmers' fields, a winery or two along the way, until I found my way to Autumn's Harvest Farm.

They always give you a sample of something you didn't buy. Today they gave me a package of Italian sausage.

If you live in Western New York, I encourage you to check out their products. I feel it is an added bonus to do business directly with the farmer.