Saturday, April 30, 2011

Popcorn for the Sweet Tooth

CrUnChY caramel coated popcorn with a sprinkle of almonds.....delicious! But wait, the aroma of fresh popcorn popping and warm caramel simmering on your stove is another reason why you should prepare this delightful snack.

So what are you waiting for? Turn to page 286 in Lorna's book titled Popcorn-Almond-Caramel Balls. *sigh*, you don't have the book. Since I can't post all of her lovely recipes, click on the link - Caramel Corn and whip up a similar recipe.   -amy w.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Balcony Garden Too, in the Midwest

I am once again a Midwest resident. After 5 years in Seattle I find myself back in the great state of Michigan. Two important guys in my life have brought me back, Dad and boyfriend, Scott. Leaving the ladies behind in Seattle was no easy task and the bf is really being supportive in making sure I'm enjoying things here. So this weekend we started a garden. Nothing big, just a couple of containers with some herbs and one small pot of peppers.  If we can manage this then maybe we'll go bigger next time?

We kept things simple, two long boxes that will hang over the balcony filled with parsley, basil, thyme, oregano and chives. As the engineer (or money manager?!) he's indicated that the "garden" in order to pay for itself, will have to yield more than $50 in produce this summer. Yikes! You need me to yield that much cash value in herbs and 1 pepper plant?! If that's not pressure, and challenge, to keep me watering the small things I don't know what would be! Bring it on. I'll be avoiding long viney things Amy did last year, hoping to retain space for BBQ patio dinners for two this summer :) So far he's into the challenge as well. Tonight after dinner he said, I'm gonna water the kiddos! and happily refers to the pepper plant as his baby. Well, OK then. Together we'll keep these things alive. Hopefully we'll get some sprouts soon as we're little bit late planting our seedlings.

Here they are in the kitchen while we wait out the fear of possible frost.
Happy Gardening and Happy Easter! -Vicki

Monday, April 18, 2011

Balcony Gardening - Round Two

Another year, another garden! I've decided to try flower boxes, which I can hang on the railing instead of using white 5 gallon pails.  I plan to have three boxes containing plant herbs, lettuce, and strawberries. 

Earlier this month, Ben told me he did not want the pails taking up space on our tiny patio.  Little did he know that I had a plan to hang everything and continue on my merry gardening way. I think while he is away at a conference in 2 weeks, I will just plant a few of the pails anyhow.  I'll make sure to refrain from the pumpkin and zuchinni plants that took over our entire patio last year. 

Visit one of my favorite blogs Life on the Balcony for helpful information, video tutorials, and crafty projects. Not in the mood to read a blog,  pick up Amy Pennington's book titled Apartment Gardening.  "Grow squash on your patio, flowers in your window box, and pick blackberries from your parking strip". 

Start your garden, we'll talk grains shortly! - amy w

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Farro & Roasted Asparagus Salad

You know you need to bring that Easter dish to Aunt Sally's gathering.  Skip the marshmallow jello, condensed chicken soup casserole, and Velveeta cheesy potatoes.  Instead, bring a fresh wholesome dish bursting with spring flavor.

Farro & Roasted Asparagus Salad -modified from Mike Roberts
1 pound asparagus
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 1/2 cups cooked farro
5 tablespoons slivered almonds
2 medium garlic clove - pressed
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Rinse asparagus and pat dry.  Lay out a single layer in a baking pan and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 2 garlic cloves pressed.  Roast in a preheated 450 degree oven 10-12 minutes, until the asparagus is tender.

Cool and cut into 1/2-inch pieces on a diagonal.

Cook farro in a pot large and put about two to two and a half cups of salted water per every cup of farro. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer with a closed lid for 20 to 40 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Toast almonds in a small dry skillet until golden.

Combine the asparagus, farro, the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, the nuts, parsley, and Parmesan.  Cover and refrigerate.

One hour before serving bring the salad to room temperature.  Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice and pepper.    -amy w.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bread Prices on the Rise

I can't complain about gas prices since I commute 3 miles to work.  If traffic lights are working in my favor, I can leave 10 minutes before works starts and stroll into the office with plenty of time. However, it looks like gas prices are really beginning to effect food prices, so, the Whipple household is taking action one step at a time!  Several weeks ago, I told Ben that bread making will now be on the weekend chore list....well, my chore list! I think his list may be a bit longer than mine already, so I'm OK with adding one.  It's been 3 weeks now and there is no going back!
This week, I encourage you to bust out your bread machine and put it to work.  Back in 2001, during my college years, my mom thought it would be a genius idea to buy me a bread maker.  It sat on the shelf.  I then moved to Salt Lake City and the bread maker moved to a shelf in my parents basement.  FINALLY, one year over Christmas, I had the idea that the bread maker should be taken on the airplane as a carry on and moved to Salt Lake.  Why not, I could save $10 in shipping costs.  I convinced Ben, "Mr. I always think ahead," that people take large items all of the time as a carry on and I could do the same.  Well our ride drops us off at the airport and the lady behind the ticket counter would not allow me to proceed, saying it will cost me $50!  Ben gave me the "I told you so eyes," but knew it was a smart idea to keep all comments to himself.  Well, the bread maker made the journey and plopped out of luggage return and then sat once again in my Salt Lake pantry for another two years.  In fact, four weeks ago when I started using it, fumes from burnt plastic streamed out of the vents!  Ben swore he could taste plastic infused bread but I think he was just trying to get me going. :)

Trust me, it's a weird shift that first week. The loaf sat in fridge until at least Wednesday before one of us attempted to cut it. Before making the change, Ben even ate both end pieces of the last loaf of store bought bread, which NEVER happens. I remember gasping when Ben told me that he sliced two pieces of homemade bread for his sandwich. In fact he said he liked it.  It looks like it will be smooth sailing on our way to eating only homemade bread.

Measure out 2 bowls of dry ingredients so when the first loaf is done, you can toss in the second. Keep one in the fridge and freeze the second loaf for mid-week.  -amy w.

Honey Wheat Bread -  Modified from Toastmaster Recipe Book
1 egg, room temp plus enough warm water to equal 1 cup
2 TBL oil
3 TBL honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat flour...Oooh yes, I grind mine!
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp Quick Rise Yeast
1 TBL Vital Wheat Gluten