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One Year Anniversary

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of Favorite Man being “in command” ~ it’s been a fun, busy and expensive year. We’ve been lucky since the unit hasn’t deployed this past year and the team has had a chance to train, get to know each other, and become a very cohesive entity.  Last year, we went to the annual Holiday reception and I remember thinking it went on for so long ~ I only knew a handful of people & was “chatted” out within 30 minutes. Yesterday, we went to the same annual reception and the time FLEW by ~ I didn’t have time to even say hi to everyone I knew.  Ah, but this is the problem with Army life. Just when you’re feeling so comfortable with a place and the people ~ either you move or they move! Never a dull moment…

There’s a lot of entertaining involved with FM’s job which I love and, to toot my own horn, have become quite proficient at it. Martha Stewart has nothing to fear but I can throw together a dinner buffet for 25 with 2 days notice, or have a sit down dinner for 15.  At the dinner for 15 this past Saturday, two of the women came over and asked “How do you make it look so easy?”  Wow ~ I’ve come a long way from “the curlers still in my hair when the door bell rings” as I did last January for our first big event. 

Oh, and it helps to have a generous neighbor (Thanks Angie) who lets me borrow steak knives, chairs, etc.

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My Growing Garden

One of the joys of not moving this year is I’m enjoying the heck out of my vegetable garden and all my blooming flowers. 

Can’t wait for this cucumber to ripen so we can enjoy it with a lite drizzle of balsamic vinegar:

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Martha Strikes Again…

Yesterday, I was leafing through the latest issue of the Martha Stewart magazine and came across a cookie recipe which ingredients included pine nuts and almonds. Since FG is a vegetarian who doesn’t really like nuts, I’m always trying to find ways to sneak them into her diet. Nuts are soooo healthy! Since I had pine nuts & almonds in stock, I gave the recipe a try.

Oh, my…I honestly couldn’t stop eating them. They are light and so delicious. Then FG came home from school and she too couldn’t get enough of them. I knew they would be even tastier with my morning tea but, unfortunately, the sitter & FG finished them off last night while FM & I were out.

Unfortunately, Martha’s recipes don’t include nutritional values but this one seems healthy, has limited ingredients and is easy to make. No butter or oil needs to be added. If you want to give it a try, click here.

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I’ve Officially Lost My Appetite

I find the recalled items from China disturbing but the news out of California about the Westland Meat Company makes my blood boil. The pit in my stomach after watching one of the workers ram a downed cow with a fork lift makes me beyond furious. Not only am I furious at the actual perpetrators, but also at the USDA inspectors. Where were they? The USDA website states there is a continuous presence at meat packing plants but how could that be if it took a non-profit organization to bust the story wide open.  Last year, there was a recall of 21.7 million pounds of ground beef from the Topps Meat Co. because of E.coli contamination. That recall was also the result of an undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States. Maybe the USDA should contract the Humane Society to do the work they’re obviously NOT doing. 

The amount of recalled meat is staggering and suggests a much more aggressive inspection stance must be taken by the USDA. Where’s the sense of urgency? 

Thank goodness for the Humane Society of the United States who have people willing to go undercover and expose these kinds of actions. I’m always surprised how the undercover people can film that and not let their emotions take over. I KNOW I wouldn’t be able to continue filming without abusing the abusers.  It is because of the Humane Society’s expose which showed the downed cows made it into the feed supply that made the USDA close down the Company. The USDA inspectors are reacting to the Humane Society investigation and are not being proactive as primary investigators. 

It’s time for me to root through the freezer, throw out FM’s beef products and then write a donation check to the Humane Society.  Dang, I think I need a glass of wine 😉

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Black, White, Green or In-Between

I had a couple of questions about tea in my comments section so I thought I’d write here about my tea preferences. Here’s a little back-story of how I got started with tea.

My father used to drink a lot of tea. He had spent several years living in Japan and loved a good cup of tea. I didn’t drink it until 6 years ago. My Dad passed away years ago and, on his birthday, I like to celebrate foods he enjoyed. Well, tea wasn’t included as one of those until 2002.  That’s all it took. I love it now! Something about tea makes me SLOW down no matter what’s going on around me.  I also have some great memories of some fun European tea houses. On one trip to Slovenia, my friend Heidi and I sat outdoors at a tea cafe just sipping on a warm, tasty “spot of tea”, relaxing and, of course, doing a little bit of people watching.  And then there’s the Tea shop in Rome at the foot (or was it the top?) of the Spanish Steps that costs $10.00 for a cup of tea. Ouch. Really, no tea is worth $10.00 a cup! I can’t complain too much about it because Heidi forewarned me since she was there a couple of days before I went. It wasn’t really about the tea, I was paying for the location of where I was drinking the tea.

Occasionally, if I’m away from home, I’ll drink black tea but, because I don’t tolerate high levels of caffeine , it’s best for me to stick with Green or White tea. The amount of caffeine in tea is: Black tea=40mg per serving, Green tea=20mg and White tea = 15mg.

The other difference is the taste. Black Tea is 100% fermented giving it what I think is a harsh (bitter?) taste while Green and White teas are not fermented at all. The Oolong tea is semi-fermented and is a cross between green and black tea. I’ve not tried Oolong tea.

While all teas come from the same plant, the white tea leaves are picked BEFORE the leaves fully open and those buds are covered with white fuzz. It’s best to steep it in water that hasn’t come to a full boil. Because white tea goes through limited processing, no fermentation and is prepared delicately, the taste is light and subtle. Because it’s scarcer and more expensive, it’s a once-in-a-while treat for me. My mom and I enjoyed it on more that one snowy day while she was here visiting.

My all time favorite on-line tea store is Adagio Teas. They have a great selection of all types of teas and wonderful tea supplies. On their site, I’ve ordered my oversized glass tea cups (made in Germany) and the IngenuiTEA pot (made in Taiwan). Check it out at Adagio.

Medicinal purposes are the least of the reasons I drink tea but it’s nice to know the research is showing that it’s a good thing. According to the research article, white tea is the next “food trend.” 

Now, after all that, I think I’ll prepare a cup of tea.

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Throwing Out My Tea…

Food (and toys) made in China, whether it be for human or canine consumption, has had a bad reputation over the last year or two.  The latest is a recall of Valentine Lollipops. At first, I thought it was lead found in the lollipop but it turns out it was a piece of metal. Imagine sucking on that 😦

I’ve had a bad feeling about anything Made in China ever since the tainted dog food fiasco which hit the news about two years ago. I don’t understand the mindset of the Chinese government. With the amount of money the United States consumers spend on their products, they should have the most stringent policies. OR is it our wholesalers who aren’t demanding these policies because it would raise the prices.  I’d rather pay more and be GUARANTEED I’m not ingesting lead or worse.

I have a few cans of rather expensive Chinese tea which I LOVE but, decided once it’s finished, I wouldn’t order more. Unfortunately, with each cup of tea I drink, I think about all the “poisoned” products and can’t help but wonder what might be in my tea.  Today, I will throw all of the tea made in China and will switch to teas grown in Japan or India.  I wish I had bought more of that wonderful Japanese tea in Tokyo when we there last year. If anyone has a good on-line tea source, let me know.

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Entertaining New Friends…

…with thoughts of old friends.

Last Friday, FM and I hosted a dinner for several new friends but as I prepared the menu, I spent most of my time thinking of old friends. If you’re a military spouse like me, I’m sure you have your fair share of “unit” cookbooks. For this dinner, I used three recipes from the “Food That’s Too Too Good” cookbook by the 2-2 IN spouses who I spent time with in Germany. So thank you to Heidi S.(Artichoke Dip), Joy M. (Spinach Dip) and Nancy N. (Apple Crisp) for your yummy recipes which I used on Friday.

Throughout the week leading up to Friday, I was having visions of cooking grandeur and wanted to make something special and impressive. I poured over a couple of Martha Stewart magazines looking for recipes and settled on one new addition to a tried and true dinner repertoire: Sweet Potato Cannelloni. The dish is labor intensive but can be made the day before which is always a hit with me ~ the less I have to do the day of, the better. The dish consists of blanched sweet potato slices wrapped around sweet potato puree with diced apples and shaved parmesan cheese. It’s healthy, too, with each serving providing 10 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber.

To say it was a “hit” is an understatement! Everyone raved about it ~ so much so that at first I thought they were putting me on about how yummy it was.  I was hoping to link the recipe but I couldn’t find it on the Martha website. Perhaps because it was in the October 2007 issue and won’t be on the site until after the magazine is sold.  If you’re interested in making this dish, let me know and I’ll scan then e-mail the recipe to you.

It’s well worth the effort and would make a nice addition to any Thanksgiving meal.

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We decided to visit Chamorro Village, located in Hagåtña, for Fiesta Wednesday (night market). It was a night with lots of food, lots of people and lots of fun. There are roughly 18 food vendors and over 40 shops with arts, crafts, handmade jewelry, clothes, woven baskets, wood carved items, and much more ~ all set amongst Spanish-style buildings. Very cute. Back to the food ~ yummy! Logan and I got our veggie-friendly items (red rice, salad, etc) but John was all about the Chamorro style BBQ as seen in his fiesta plate below:

fiesta-plate-chomorro-village.JPG

You would have thought that was enough but 10 minutes later, he had to get a BBQ kabob:

Chamorro Village is open every day but the main event happens every Wednesday nights: 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. There’s dancing on the north side of the village. Enjoy!

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