Tuesday, November 30, 2010

happy holidaze

Early November is the start of the holiday season for us. M’s birthday is first on the list.


Thanksgiving at the beach with M’s family comes next.

My sister-in-law created a dish involving prosciutto and brussels sprouts. It’s the first time I enjoyed eating these little green balls.



A few people cooked tons of food.

Others lounged inside around the warm fire while it poured down rain outside.



I made pies.

Pumpkin pie

The last holiday celebration of November involved me cooking, cleaning, and cooking some more, and more cleaning. We had my family over on Thanksgiving day. I made turkey, stuffing, creamed onions, green beans, gravy, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and these satsuma vodka-tinis.



Guests brought sweet potatoes, apple pie, rolls, and fruit salad.

Here’s the recipe for the cocktail. It may help get you through the holidays with your sanity intact.

Satsuma Vodka-Tini
(from Cooking Light magazine)

1 cup fresh cranberries
1 cup vodka
1/2 cup sugar
4 whole satsumas, peeled
3/4 cup Grand Marnier
1/4 cup fresh lime juice

Combine the first four ingredients in a food processor and process until pureed. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. Strain mixture through a cheesecloth-lined sieve over a bowl or wide mouth pitcher, pressing to extract juice. Discard solids. Stir in 3/4 cup Grand Marnier and 1/4 cup fresh lime juice. Place 1 cup satsuma mixture in a martini shaker with 1/2 cup crushed ice. Shake. Strain mixture into 2 chilled martini glasses. Repeat procedure to make 10 cocktails. Enjoy in moderation if you have to drive this holiday season.

Monday, November 22, 2010

it’s not too late to sleep like a baby

I was dreading the task of mattress shopping for my daughter’s room. It seemed as daunting as buying a new car. I googled mattresses and came across Sleep Country (Sleep Country USA... why buy a mattress anywhere else) and Mattress World (it’s not too late to sleep like a baby). Were you singing their jingles as you read these? Then you have these stores where you live. If you don’t have these stores where you are, and you haven’t heard their obnoxious jingles, consider yourself lucky. They’re right up there with Up, Up, and Away. Or It’s a Small World. You’re welcome.

Then I happened upon something that looked a bit different. Mattress Lot. When I read their story to my husband, he was onboard to go shopping. You can read their story here.

Mattress Lot is family owned and sells only locally made mattresses. All their mattresses are made in Oregon and Washington. They only work with manufacturers who are committed to earth-friendly production techniques, so all their mattresses are made of recycled metals and fabrics, and soy based foams.

The story of this family is unique... After losing his job as a television advertising executive, Michael Hanna (you may remember seeing him reporting news on a local station too) took a risk. He took out a home-equity loan, purchased a truckload of mattresses, and started a business. Six months later, they were turning a profit.

Walking in the doors at Mattress Lot was a pleasant surprise. We were greeted by the store’s owner, Michael, and a very friendly Portuguese water dog. A knowledgeable young girl, not much older than Iz showed us around, and pointed out some features I never would have considered. “Do you spend any time sitting on the edge of your bed? Then this one provides better support.”

My daughter quickly found a soft pillowtop to her liking, but that didn’t keep us from lounging on lots of other mattresses throughout the store.





When Mattress Lot has a delivery near their northeast Portland store, they do so on a special trailer attached to the back of a tandem bicycle. How cool is that?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

squish squash... it’s fall

Fall has not officially arrived until I’ve made at least one pumpkin pie and a pot of squash soup. In years past, both of these items are made for our annual Halloween party. But, since we spent Halloween evening at some friends’ house this year, neither of these things have graced our table.

Today, because it’s a warm and sunny fall day, and the leaves are a million shades of beautiful golden colors, and fall is halfway over, I’m making squash soup.







2-3 pounds of Delicata squash (or your favorite squash) I like the sweet flavor Delicata brings to the mix
2 medium sized sweet onions
2 large carrots
1 celery
2 apples, peeled and cored
Olive oil
2-3 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon good curry powder
1/2 - 1 cup half and half (or cream if you want it a bit richer)


Peel, gut and dice the squash into 1-inch pieces. Peel the onions and cut into 1-inch chunks. Peel two carrots and cut them into small pieces. Do the same with the apples, and cut the celery into small pieces too.

Throw all the fruits and vegetables into a baking dish, drizzle with some good olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast these in a 425 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until roasted, browned and quite soft.

While the veggies are roasting safely in your oven, heat up your homemade chicken stock (in my case, turkey stock) that’s tucked way in the back of your freezer. If you didn’t tuck any homemade stock in your freezer, no worry, you can use the canned stuff. Heat it up in a pot on the stove.

Once the veggies are done, combine them together with the chicken stock in small batches, in a food processor or blender until thoroughly pureed. Repeat this process until all fruits and veggies have been pureed.

Pour the pureed soup back into the pot on the stove and add the two remaining ingredients, curry powder and half and half. Heat on medium heat until heated through, stirring occasionally.

You can serve with a few condiments on the side such as nuts, coconut, cilantro, banana, a simple dollop of sour cream, or bare naked. Not you, the soup!

Serve with a green salad and a loaf of warm, crusty bread. And since my hubby just came back from the store – where I sent him for the fresh crusty bread – with a bit of salami and cheese, we’ll be having that as well.

I love fall!