Books · Parties · Recipes


Tomorrow is Cookiemeggdon which, as I explained in my last post is the day all my friends come over and make their favorite cookie recipes.  It is a blast and I can’t wait. This year I am making Ginger Snaps. They were a great hit last year so I thought I would share the recipe with you.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of ground clove

1 Tablesppon ground cinnamon

1 Tablesppon ground ginger

2 cups of flour

2 teaspoons of baking soda

1/4 cup white sugar

Here’s what you’ll do: 

1. Preheat the oven to 375

2. Mix together the molasses, brown sugar, oil, and egg

3. In a separate bowl combine the cloves, cinnamon,  ginger, flour, baking soda and salt.

4. Stir the flour mixture into the molasses mixture till a dough forms

5. Roll the dough into balls. Roll the balls in the white sugar.

6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes

7. Let cool or else they won’t snap.  Then Nom!  These are pretty spicy and great with a dark roasted coffee.

In other news today I had to do emergency surgery on a sock monkey.  I had to do it on site too because my 3 year old nephew refuses to sleep without the sock monkey I made him.  If that’s not the ultimate reason to keep making stuff I don’t know what is.

I also made those salt preserved Meyer lemons I talked about last week.  The recipe is from the book Canning for a New Generation by Lianna Krissoff.  The book is great. It’s got all kinds of preserving recipes from around the world and recipes to make with the things you’ve preserved too.  If you are interesting in canning check the book out and check out this particular recipe it is really simple.  No water processing the jars or anything. Truly canning 101.

Here’s a picture of the lemons all jarred up:

Salt Preserved Lemons

Well that’s about it for this week,   I am sure my next post will be full of cookie goodness.

Parties · Recipes

Giving Thanks or It’s All Gravy

Another week is over already seems like 2011 will be over before we know it. Had a productive week spent a lot of time working on my highly unattractive knitting project. It started out to be a scarf but it has ended up being a very crooked blanket for my cats. I think I was a little over zealous but I got a lot of practice with a knit stitch. I will try to make a scarf again when I work on purl. It just goes to show you that even when things don’t work out the way you want them to.  They are still worth doing, if only for the lesson on what not to do next time.

Seth and I made a turkey for this weeks family podcast dinner. (Really it was mostly Seth)  I did make gravy though and since Thanksgiving is this week I thought I would share my method for lump free gravy.

I tend to make gravy in the pan I roasted the meat in I just put it over two burners on the stove, but,  you could move all the drippings to a sauce pan.  I just hate having to wash extra dishes.  Ok so lets talk about how to do this. Heat up the pan drippings until they are hot. This is important because if  you add the flour to the fat before the fat is hot the flour with lump up. When the drippings are hot add the flour about a 1/2 a cup at a time. Stir it constantly that is very important too.  Keep adding flour stirring until you have the consistency of thin paste, think white glue. It should also be a light tan color. Turn the heat down to low.  Now start to add the liquid. I use a combination of broth and white wine, but just broth is fine too. Add the liquid slowly still stirring till the gravy is a little thinner than  you actually want it. Now taste it and add salt and pepper. Let it simmer for five minutes. That’s it! Really easy right? And so nommy on your smashed potatoes.

One more thing before I close this entry I wanted to mention some of the things I am thankful for this year.  Monday family podcast dinners. My family in general because they are awesome. Especially the family we have built, you know who you are. I am thankful for the little humans in my life. Watching you grow and discover the world is the awesomest thing and it brings me so much joy. I am thankful for my son who is still discovering the world himself even though he is a great big human. And yes, it’s still awesome to watch too. A special note to my wonderful hooligan of a husband. Every single day I am thankful for you, it was worth the wait. I love you.

One last thing I am thankful for, the opportunity to share the things I am passionate about so, thanks for reading.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Garden · Recipes

Failure, Pests, and Chicken Soup

It’s started to feel like the end of summer here at the rabbit hole.  My tomatoes and peppers are coming in nicely, and taste great.  I didn’t do so well with the squash.  It seems to have succumbed to some sort of mold.  I have white spots on all the leaves.  I am still getting flowers but,  no squash.  So I will, have to try again next year.  That’s really the point of this blog.  To keep doing it, even when it doesn’t work out,  because the learning is half the fun, and nobody REALLY wants to be Martha Stewart anyway. That’s an awful lot of pressure.

Speaking of those household things that go wrong lets talk about bugs.  Nobody likes them or wants them in their house but sometimes they show up.  So I have an all natural pest removal tip for you.  This tip  comes courtesy of Plunder Bunny, who is a pretty fantastic,  crafty,  geek-chic,   homemaker herself.  It concerns fruit flies.  To get rid of the nasty little critters she puts out a shallow bowl of balsamic vinegar with a couple of drops of dish detergent in it.  She covers the bowl with some plastic wrap and pokes some holes in the wrap.  The flies attracted by the vinegar fly in,  get trapped and meet their doom.  So simple yet so genius.

The Hooligan has come down with a terrible summer cold.  So I decided to make him some chicken soup.  A friend of ours asked me to post the recipe so here it is..

What you need:

A Chicken – A whole soup chicken is best but chicken parts will work too

Carrots – About a pound

Turnip – One medium or two small

Parsnip – Two or three

Onions – Two or three

Celery – One rib

Parsley – fresh is best about a cup

Salt and Pepper

Rice or noodles or what ever you like in your chicken soup

What you  do:

Roughly chop one of the onions,  and the heart of celery.  Put chicken in a big pot with the onion and the celery and some salt.  Cover it with water.

Put it on high heat for about an hour till the chicken has cooked through.  Take it off the heat and let it cool a bit.  Remove the solids from from the broth.   Put the broth back on the stove and shred the chicken,  discard the bones and everything else.

Put the chicken back into the broth,  chop the rest of vegetables and the parsley and add them to the pot too.  Add some more salt and pepper.  Let that cook over medium heat for another hour or so till all the vegetables are tender.

Cook the pasta or rice,  but don’t put it in the soup.  Put it in the bowl,  and pour the soup over it.  If you put it in the soup it will soak up all the broth.

It’s super yummy and the best thing for a husband with a terrible cold.

That’s is for this time, leave me a comment and let me know what you are making this week.






Grown up Ice Pops

I just got a new ice pop mold, a gift from my wonderful Hooligan of a husband.  It arrived today,  we broke it in with some Ginger Peach White Wine Pops. Thought I’d share.  Here’s what you need:

2 lbs Peaches pitted skinned and roughly chopped

2 cups White Wine we used a Pinot Grigio if you go with a sweeter wine you might want to use less sugar

2 Tablespoons Ginger fresh chopped fine,  powdered will work fine too

2 cups of Sugar

Here’s what you do:

Toss it all into a blender,  mix it on high till it is the consistency of a fast food milkshake. Now taste it.  It should taste sweet, the pops  won’t taste quite as sweet after they are frozen so keep that in mind.  Then stick them in the freezer I recommend leaving them over night.

I haven’t tried it but I bet you could replace the wine and some of the sugar with ginger ale, if you want a non alcoholic version.

If you make your own ice pops, post your recipe in comments I’d love to try it.


Hooligan’s Awesome Pulled Pork and Other Obsessions

Lately I have not been posting enough. I  have had lots of other things going on. Hockey games,  podcasts, addiction to a certain series of fantasy books, a new tattoo, killer boots, dancing with my girls, parties, summer.  I would promise to be better about posting but I am pretty sure that will just come back to bite me in the ass, so I won’t.

I promised you the recipe for the Hooligan’s awesome pulled pork.  I know that our friends love this recipe and it is so easy to make, but it takes a while so plan for that.  Here’s what you need:

A big hunk of pork,  we use pork loin because it is very lean.

Ginger Ale a 2 liter bottle

1 Onion cut into big chunks

2 cloves Garlic finely chopped

7 Allspice berries

10 Whole peppercorns

3 Cinnamon sticks

1 Bottle of barbecue sauce whatever kind you like

You will also need a crock pot,  these are useful appliances.  So get one.  Or just borrow one for the day,  your mom probably has one.

OK so put the Pork, Onion, Garlic, and Spices into the crock pot, cover with the Ginger Ale .

Put it on high for about an hour, then turn the pot down to low for another 5 to 6 hours.

Now check it.  It should kind of fall apart when you pull at it with a fork.  If it doesn’t leave it in for another hour or so and check it again.

When it’s ready pull it out of the pot and use two forks to shred it.   Smother it with the barbecue sauce put it on some yummy buns and feed all your friends.

Super easy, right?  If you don’t feel like sandwiches you can also use it as a pizza topping. Or as filling for quesadillas. Or for something I haven’t thought of yet.

I mentioned other obsessions in the title.  Lately I have my completely enthralled with the idea of community vegetable gardens. I have been reading about community garden programs in other states and trying to figure out how to bring the idea closer to home.  The growing season is fairly short in Connecticut,  but I really think the idea could take off .  Especially in a lot of the towns and cities the have lost their industries and have empty space in their downtowns.   If any of my readers know of any programs like this going on in CT.  Or want to help me start one.  Or even just have some ideas please let me know.  I’d really appreciate it.


Vegan Applesauce Muffins

This recipe came about on a Sunday morning when I woke to find no eggs in the house.  Being far too lazy to change out of my pajamas and go to the store.  I improvised.  These have become a weekend favorite here. Hope you like them.

Here’s what you need:

2 Cups of flour

1/2 Cup of sugar

1 Cup of Applesauce

1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup soy milk (you can use regular milk if you are not the vegan type)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Grease a muffin pan or use baking cups.   Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and spices in a big bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix oil, milk, vanilla, and applesauce.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix.  The batter will be slightly lumpy, that’s ok.

Bake for about 15 minute, till the muffins are golden brown. An inserted toothpick should come out clean.

Make yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy.


Strawberry Mango Salad

We had some friends over for dinner the other night. The weather is getting warm here in New England and we felt like a picnic.  My husband made barbecue pulled pork. I promise I will post that recipe one of these days because it is awesome.

I made this.  I just had some strawberries and mango in the house. I sort of improvised as I went along.  It came out really good.

Here’s what you need.

Strawberries – About a quart. I quarter them but,  you can just cut them in mouth sized pieces.

Mangoes – I used two.  Again, just cut them in mouth sized pieces

I should stay here that you don’t have to use strawberries and mango.  Use whatever fruit you like raspberries,  melon,  peaches, kiwi.  I think pears would be good.  I would avoid citrus because the recipe has a lot of acid in it.

Balsamic Vinegar – 1/4 cup.  You definitely want to use balsamic vinegar.  It is sweeter than other vinegars

Mint – 2 Tablespoons.  Finely chopped. You could use dried mint  but fresh is better.  As a matter of fact get a mint plant,  put it in a sunny window , water it every other day or so.  Then just pull the leaves off as you need them.  Mint is super easy to grow.

Oh if you don’t like mint.  Grated or powdered ginger would be nice too.  Only use 1 Tablespoon though because that stuff is potent.

Honey – 2 Tablespoons.  You can use sugar instead or sugar substitute.  If you are going to use sugar substitute I recommend Stevia.

White Wine – 1/2 cup.  Remember it should be wine you would drink.

If you don’t drink alcohol, or you are feeding children. Then use 1/2 cup of ginger ale and skip the sweetener completely.

Get a bowl.  Add the honey, mint, wine and, vinegar.  Wisk it a bit till it is all combined.

Toss the fruit in with it and serve it really cold.

That’s it!  So easy, right?  And…It will make all your friends say nom nom nom.


Pasta sauce 101

Recently two of my friends told me that they didn’t know people made their own pasta sauce, it just came in a jar like ketchup.  This struck me as strange because it never occurred to me that people don’t. I know that sauce comes in jars, but I come from an Italian family and when I was a kid sauce was made every week. My English/Irish husband makes great pasta sauce.  So for my friends and for everyone else who has only had sauce from a jar… you can make this.

Here’s what you need:

1 can of crushed tomatoes 28oz -Lately I have been seeing cans that are less that 28oz that’s ok. Buy as close to 28oz as you can

1 clove of garlic- Smash it with the side of a big knife, peel it and chop it fine, if you have the pre-chopped stuff in a jar, use 1/2 a teaspoon. Garlic powder won’t work.

3 or 4 Tablespoons of olive oil- No substitute here you have to use olive oil.  It’s good for you too, so buy some.

2 tablespoons of basil- Fresh will taste best, chop it fine. Dried will work too.

1 can of tomato paste 6oz -If you find the kind that comes in a tube like toothpaste use 3 Tablespoons

1/4 to 1/2 a cup of red wine- Make it wine that you would drink. If you don’t drink you can skip it, but, the alcohol will cook off and the sauce tastes better with it.

salt and pepper

possibly 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar, I will explain this later.

OK got everything? Great. Now grab a big ass pan, the heaviest one you can find. It should hold about two quarts. Open the can of tomatoes now, too.

Put the oil in the pan and turn the heat to medium-high. Wait for the oil to get hot (it should take about a minute).  When it’s hot, you will start to see it almost shimmer.  You can put 1 drop of water into it.  You should hear it sizzle or spit. Make sure you only use 1 drop of water though because hot spitting oil hurts!

So here comes the hardest part.  Put the garlic into the oil and stir it constantly for 30 seconds to a minute.  Don’t let it get too brown or burn because burnt garlic tastes awful.  As soon as the garlic is tan-ish pour the tomatoes into the pan. (aren’t you glad you already opened them?)  So that was the hardest part, not too bad, right?

Now turn the heat down to low, add the basil and wine.  Taste it and add some salt and pepper till it tastes good.

Leave it like that for at least an hour, two is better. Stir it every 15 minutes or so to keep it from sticking to the pan. Go read or watch TV or dance around your living room, or do whatever you like to do.  Just don’t forget to stir.

After an hour or two, add the paste,  leave it again for another 1/2 hour to hour.  Remember to stir.

OK almost done. Taste it! If it seems acidic, add the sugar. If you cooked it for long enough you probably won’t even need to.

Make some pasta and eat.

You can add any veggie, onions and peppers are good. You can add meat too even fish or chicken.  Just take whatever you are adding and brown it in the oil before you add the garlic. Everything else is exactly the same.

Oh, and if it seems like too much, or if you make a double batch you can freeze it.  The containers that take out soup comes in work great for this.  I will probably refer back to this recipe later, we eat a lot of tomato sauce.

So now try it, experiment with it and if something goes wrong, try again!