Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day

Happy Leap Day and happy birthday to my great grandpa, William Hendrick Nelson, who was born on February 29, 1880. He lived to be 96 but was always young at heart since he had only had 23 birthdays (no leap day in 1900). After serving in the Spanish American war, he registered, as all men were required, for the first World War - the picture is his registration card. 
He's my mom's grandfather, on her dad's side, but technically he's not related to us, as he was her grandmother's second husband. He raised grandpa so he counts in all the ways that matter. And he is of Danish descent, like his wife, my great grandmother, whose parents also emigrated from Denmark before she was born.

Not to get off topic, my great grandmother had a February birthday too. Mary Christine Andersen was her name and she was born February 6, 1885. In this photo she is the older girl, on the left. The man in the photo on the wall is her father, Theodore, who had recently died. Her Mom, Anna, is on the right and the rest of the children are her brothers (in age order: Alfred, Victor & Harry) and sister (Thorence, called Too).
thanks to and distant relations for this image.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sundried Tomato Parmesan Broth with Chickpeas and Collards

We tried this quick and easy recipe Saturday night as a way to get a big dose of greens and use the big bunch of Collard greens that came in our veggies this week.

I have to admit I was a little skeptical about this one - it seemed a little too easy - but it's delicious. We served it with toasted sliced of 5-grain bagette.

8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus one 2-inch Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
1 bunch Collard greens (3/4 pound), stems discarded and leaves cut into 1-inch ribbons
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons store-bought sun-dried-tomato pesto*

In a medium soup pot, bring the broth to a simmer with the cheese rind and the chickpeas. Cook over low heat until the broth is flavorful, about 10 minutes; discard the rind. Add the greens and simmer until wilted, about 10 minutes. (Other greens like chard and kale will cook much faster.)
Remove from the heat and stir in 1/4 cup of the sun-dried-tomato pesto. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Garnish each bowl with a dollop of the remaining pesto and serve.

*I found the pesto in the spaghetti sauce section at Publix, our local grocery store, after looking in the produce and ethnic food aisle first. 

This could easily be made vegetarian by using a meat-free broth. It would be a great meatless Monday dinner!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Larger-than-Life Photo Project

I'm fascinated by this larger-than-life photography project that we found and shared with my cousin who is a professional artist. A photographer plans to build an enormous camera (see picture below the video) in a semi-truck trailer and drive around the country taking photos of vanishing cultures. Because the camera is so big, the photos it takes will be larger than life and more detailed than ever possible before. So interesting that an old-fashioned technology can be more powerful than digital. Watch the video and read the article here. You can also "chip in" to help out on kickstarter here.

Vanishing Cultures: An American Portrait by Dennis Manarchy from Distortion Design on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

This Week's Veggies and Fruit

Look at those gigantic Collard greens in the center! Also pineapple oranges, golden beets (with tops on, yum), cherry tomatoes, a beautiful head of butter lettuce, watercress and green peppers.
(All from our CSA, Orchard Pond Organics)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy Birthday, George Washington!

Thomas loves all the US Presidents but his favorite is George Washington, or as he calls him, "General George." Born on February 22, 1732, President Washington would have been 280 years old today.

On Monday, which was Presidents' Day, we discovered (via twitter) this video of all 44 Presidents with a one-sentence description of each. I haven't figure out how to embed it but here is a link to its Presidential goodness

My contribution to our celebration of Washington's birthday is to read Washington's Crossing (Pivotal Moments in American History) by David Hackett Fischer. So far it is fascinating (you can learn more by clicking on the picture of the book).

Our final part of the celebration is having cherry pie for dessert!
pie from the Publix bakery


For the holidays, my friend Dawn and I bought each other subscriptions to Lollihop. The plan was we would each get a box of healthy snacks once a month. It turns out they are changing the whole idea of Lollihop but we received our January boxes on schedule and I thought I'd share the fun goodies we received.

Even the box is fun!

Lots of goodies in the first box 

 Two Degrees Bar "is good/does good"
For every bar you buy, they give a meal to a hungry child,
This was tasty (if a little sticky) with big pieces of cherry.

so tasty!

This all-natural grain-free granola from Paleonola was completely addicting.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Baby Butternut Squash

In our veggies last month we got 4 baby butternut squash. Since we hadn't seen this variety before I thought I'd share them with you. We roasted them with olive oil, salt and pepper; they were yummy and you could even eat the skins. (Hurray for no peeling!)
see how cute and little they are, there to the left of the grapefruits?

the finished product
Yes, Mom, I saved seeds for you. :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dumpling Soup

Another Napa cabbage recipe we enjoyed, this one is light, quick and easy. I used some vegetarian potstickers from the freezer section at Publix for the dumplings.

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 pound thick-sliced ham, diced
2 tablespoons dry sherry or Chinese rice wine
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
4 3-inch strips orange zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 scallions, sliced, white and green parts separated
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 to 3 napa cabbage leaves, thinly sliced
24 frozen chicken or vegetable dumplings or pot stickers Soy sauce, for drizzling (optional)

Combine 2 cups water, the broth, ham, sherry, sugar, ginger, orange zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the scallion whites, mushrooms and carrots. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the carrots are crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.

Add the cabbage, dumplings and scallion greens. Cover and cook until the dumplings are soft and heated through, 4 to 5 minutes. Divide the dumplings and soup among bowls. Drizzle with soy sauce, if desired.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Who Do You Think You Are is Back!

Back for a third season, check out the family history show Who Do You Think You Are on Friday nights on NBC (or if you're like me, watch it online over the weekend):

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Panhellenic Cakes

I was the winner of not one but two cakes this year at the Tallahassee Alumnae Panhellenic Scholarship Auction.

The first, Chocolate Blackout Cake was baked by (Panhellenic and twitter) friend Barbara:

inside it has homemade dark chocolate pudding between the layers of cake!

We are also enjoying our traditional auction treat, Key Lime Sour Cream Pound Cake (baked by an Alpha Chi Omega friend also named Barbara): 


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Shrimp and Egg Fried Rice with Napa Cabbage

In our veggies last time we got a beautiful head of Napa cabbage - which was delicious in this recipe from Tyler Florence (one of T's favorite FoodNetwork chefs).

6 tablespoons peanut oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 small head napa cabbage, core removed and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups cooked long-grain white rice
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed in warm water
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 bunch scallions, sliced, for garnish
1/2 cup chopped peanuts, for garnish

Heat 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil in a wok or a large nonstick skillet over medium-high flame. Give the oil a minute to heat up, then add the shallots, the ginger, and stir-fry for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the cabbage and stir-fry until the cabbage is wilted and soft, about 8 minutes; season with a nice pinch of salt. Remove the vegetables to a side platter and wipe out the wok with dry paper towel.

Put the pan back on the heat and coat with 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the garlic and to the wok and saute gently until fragrant. Add shrimp and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until pink. Set aside on platter with vegetables. Add remaining oil to the wok and when hot, crack the eggs into the center. Scramble the egg lightly, then let it set without stirring so it stays in big pieces. Fold in the rice and toss with the egg until well combined, breaking up the rice clumps with the back of a spatula. Return the sauteedvegetables and shrimp to the pan along with the peas and season with salt and soy sauce. Toss everything together to heat through. Spoon the fried rice out onto a serving platter, and garnish withscallions and peanuts.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Panhellenic Cookies for 2012

Every year I bake cookies for the Tallahassee Alumnae Panhellenic Scholarship Luncheon Silent Auction. This year's turned out really cute. I used a new technique that worked well - instead of royal icing I bought white fondant. It's icing that you roll out instead of spreading on. After rolling it out, I used the same cookie cutters I used to make the cookies which gave the icing a nice perfect edge.

I wrote on them using Foodwriter markers - easy!

The fondant is easy to tint with food color - I used plain white and pink for the hearts and colored some yellow for the lyres.

Last year, I made Greek letter cookies and had trouble with them being fragile so I switched doughs for this year (from White Velvet Cutouts to Cut Butter Cookies) and then I couldn't find the letter cutters. I know the fondant icing will work great on them - next year? or next Panhellenic event? Hearts were great for this event since it's almost Valentine's Day. 

(See also 2011 and 2010 and 2009 cookies... that's as far back as the blog goes, not the baking!)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

This Week's Veggies and Fruit

A little late with this week's picture but here are this week's veggies and fruit
broccoli and purple cabbage, tangerines (Royal Mandarin Temple variety - overgrown tangerines - delicious), sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, a head of Romaine lettuce and salad mix. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

AXO Texas Exec Retreat Preview

I'm spending Friday - Sunday in Arlington, Texas, with collegiate officers and advisors from the 13 Alpha Chi Omega chapters in Texas.

I like any hotel that has trees indoors! I'm a 'special guest' for the Texas Exec Retreat, which is a weekend for all the new chapter officers to learn more about their positions and enjoy the society of their sisters from around the state. I'll be presenting on Panhellenic issues and Recruitment, and meeting with most of the chapters individually, between Friday evening and Sunday mid-afternoon. I'll post a report next week!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rice Pudding

An old family favorite, this recipe comes from my Mom and is traditionally made with leftover white rice.

2 well beaten eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk, scalded
1 1/4 cups cooked rice, cooled
1 cup seedless raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash cinnamon
dash nutmeg

Combine eggs, sugar and salt.
Gradually add scalded milk. Add rice, raisins, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.
a double batch, in the water bath
Pour into a greased 1 quart casserole dish. Set in shallow pan. Pour hot water into pan one inch deep (making a water bath for the pudding). Bake in slow oven (325) for 90 minutes. Makes 4-6 servings.

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