Yearly Archives: 2014
Post by Alison Hein.
You know how they say that desperation, starvation, uh necessity, is the mother of invention? Case in point – after returning from vacation, I found that our cupboards (and fridge) were bare. Hungry, yet not wanting to shop yet, I decided to create my very own Blue Plate Special.
To me, this means a meal scrounged from scraps and served on a blue plate. J Wikipedia, however, describes a Blue Plate Special as “a term used in the United States by restaurants, diners and cafes. It refers to a specially low-priced meal, usually changing daily. The term was very common from the 1920s through the 1950s, but it is a vanishing tradition.”
So I foraged and found some stale (but not moldy) Ciabatta rolls, then sliced off the ends to make two lovely slices of thick, hearty bread, just right for toasting. Now, what to put on it? As luck would have it, I located an egg, and some pungent sharp cheddar. I decided to cook the egg over easy, and melt a bit of the strong cheese on top. Yet my sandwich was still missing something (a thick slice of bacon or salty ham would have worked wonders, but to no avail). I settled for a satisfying squirt of sweet mayonnaise. Surprising and tangy, my Blue Plate Special turned out to be a very repeatable breakfast in bed that’s here to stay.
1 tablespoon butter
2 slices Ciabatta bread (or other hearty style bread)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon (or 1 thin slice) sharp cheddar cheese
Mayonnaise, to taste
Fresh lettuce and tomatoes, for garnish
Melt butter in heavy frying pan over medium heat. Add Ciabatta bread and toast until rich and golden on both sides, flipping once. Remove from heat.
At the same time, heat oil over medium heat in small frying pan. Crack egg into pan. Reduce heat to medium low. Season egg with salt and pepper and fry on one side until cooked on the bottom but still soft on top. Gently flip the egg (over easy) and place the cheddar cheese on top. Cover with tight fitting lid and turn off heat. Allow to sit for a minute or two until cooked to your preference. Put a little mayonnaise on each of the toasted bread slices. Place egg one slice of toast and cover with the other to make a sandwich. Serve immediately with a little fresh lettuce and tomatoes on the side, if you like.
Makes one breakfast sandwich.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog by Tom Watson.
Yay! There’s a sequel to Stick Dog! If you are six, you almost certainly agree with me. At any rate, my kid is a big fan of these books so when we (I) discovered Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog we (he) were all over it.
Here’s the thing: these books are starting to seem awfully formulaic. They are funny, and quick to read, but they are kind of predictable at this point. There is a new Stick Dog book that just came out, Stick Dog Chases a Pizza and I think I can tell you the plot based on the plot points of the two other books.
But it’s really not about me. My son is crazy about these books. Five badly-illustrated stray dogs (hence the name of the protagonist) are always on the hunt for the next meal. When they come across the frankfurter cart they know their next target. The author makes sure we know what frankfurters are and explains that if he was talking about a bunch of dogs and hot dogs we might be confused. So frankfurters it is. Stripes, Mutt, Poo-Poo (he’s a poodle, hence his name) and Karen are Stick Dog’s motley (muttley?) crew. As they brainstorm and work their way out of binds and closer to the cart, they must beat the hungry raccoon they’ve named Phyllis, who is also after the franks. Who will be the victor?
Silly drawings and totally harmless funny narration make for delightful bedtime reading for silly kids.
I don’t get the opportunity to watch movies all that often. And when the opportunity arises, I tend to completely freeze at the pressure of making the right decision. An unexpected day off provided this at once exciting and daunting opportunity. Thankfully, I received hundreds of DVDs from a good friend of mine, offering endless cinematic choices. I nearly reached for Revenge of the Sith, since I have yet to watch it. But instead I opted for Prometheus, the prequel to the Alien series. I don’t know. I don’t think there was a winning choice in the few options I gave myself. But what could I do? My Chinese food was going to get cold!
Unless you live under a rock, you are likely familiar with the Alien/Aliens movies. Big, slimy aliens with lots of nasty teeth and acid blood eat a lot of people. But did you ever wonder where these creepy creatures came from? I didn’t! But let’s find out.
This is the bit I love best about this movie. As an Ancient Aliens enthusiast, one of the more outlandish theories I’ve come across is that we were bred by aliens from a distant star, possibly bred with early humans and it was this alien bit that made us the conscious, creative, technological people we are today. Well, Prometheus decides to run with this one. Two scientists discover that cave paintings and other ancient art all contain references to a distant cluster of stars, one completely invisible to the naked eye. One of those tiny dots is a moon which appears capable of supporting life. Armed with this intriguing bit of evidence, they manage to get a spaceship and a whole crew to go check it out. SPOILER ALERT: they totally share the same genetic makeup as us. We are totally bred from these creepy humanoids! But the planet seems dead. What happened to them all? Any guesses? Maybe there are slimy snakelike guys who will latch on to your face! (SPOILER ALERT: of course there are!)
Much of this movie made little sense to me and a great deal was simply not addressed. But, they definitely primed themselves for a sequel so maybe they can hash out all the weird stuff from the first movie in the second.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Did you know that shocking pink was the signature color of famed fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli?
We often think of pink as girly or juvenile, but the color is versatile and can be used successfully in a sophisticated bedroom just as well as a nursery. Furthermore, although pink will never be considered manly, some members of the male species appreciate and willingly don this classic, happy color. Here are five stylish adult bedrooms decked out in pink.
This soothing bedroom is enveloped in pink. White beadboard adds a touch of pattern to the cozy Cape Cod room, while white bed linens and curtains add to the crispness. Fish art above the door header and the striped throw pillow contribute splashes of color. Charming and relaxed, the space could be part of a sprawling master suite or the occasional guest room.
This romantic boudoir screams glamour. With salmon pink walls, lucite furniture and the stunning peacock mural on the bed wall, this royal bedroom is fit for a queen (or king).
I bet you never considered painting your ceiling pink. Well, neither did I. Benjamin Moore’s Pink Ruffle sets the tone for a calm, serene space at the Baltimore Symphony Decorator’s Showhouse. Brighter pink accents marry well with a cocoa butter headboard and duvet. I don’t think I’d mind sleeping here.
This twin bedroom is far from subtle, but its bold choice of color makes a statement and acts as an idealistic escape. These “pretty in pink” digs would make for delightful guest quarters.
Although this chamber was designed for a young lady, the space could easily be an adult’s bedroom with its boho style, variety of textures and patterns, as well as the unique color combination. The custom hot pink headboard and lamps, not to mention the butterfly-covered walls, only add to the whimsy in this lighthearted room.
Post by Alison Hein.
It’s a great pleasure to visit with dear friends you haven’t seen in ages. It’s an even greater pleasure when you get them to make breakfast for you. Debra and her husband Barry spend part of their year in Washington state, in a quaint cabin perched on scenic Loon Lake. They have lovingly furnished their lakeside aerie with retro pieces rummaged in garage sales, estate sales and auctions. Enter, and be transported back to the 1940s.
Debra and I used to work together (uh, a long time ago). She was my boss and my mentor. She taught me everything I needed to know about my job, and then she taught me a few things about cooking. I still make her homemade candies during the holidays, not to mention Barry’s sinful Irish Cream.
My mouth watered at the thought of diving into one of Deb’s heavenly quiches. She makes many delicious kinds, but this seafood quiche was purely divine. Debra seasoned and poached the shrimp before baking, and added a lot of sharp cheddar cheese to the egg mixture (Deb recommends Oregon Tillamook if you can find it). The extra sprinkle of parmegiano reggiano added to the top adds a soft crispiness, lovely to poke through as you swoop your fork down and pop up the choice inner filling, rich and gumbo-like in flavor.
Debra pulled out an old crockery bowl, whisked the eggs with her grandma’s hand beater, and poured the mix into an old pie pan. 45 minutes later she grabbed a set of crocheted potholders and pulled a fragrant, mile-high quiche out of the oven. She placed the steaming dish on the antique kitchen table along with some homey nut bread and a melon ball salad. I looked around the funky, antique kitchen and thought – what a great place for spending time with lifelong friends. What a great place for enjoying a heavenly, timeless breakfast in bed!
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks with leaves (about ¾ cup), finely chopped
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
½ pound cocktail shrimp, shelled, deveined, and poached until cooked through
½ pound fresh crabmeat
1 9-inch pie crust, unbaked
2 cups cheddar cheese
¼ cup half & half
Dash of nutmeg (optional)
¼ cup grated parmegiano reggiano cheese
Preheat oven to 350°. Place pie crust into glass or ceramic pie dish. Set aside.
Melt butter and olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion, celery and garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in shrimp and crab. Cool slightly, then add to prepared pie crust. Spread cheddar cheese evenly on top of seafood mixture.
Break eggs into large bowl. Add half & half and nutmeg. Whisk until frothy, about 2 minutes. Carefully pour egg mixture on top of seafood and cheese, filling to the top so that just the pie crust rim remains visible. Sprinkle grated parmegiano reggiano cheese on top.
Place quiche on cookie sheet and then in oven. Bake for around 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, and quiche is puffed up and golden. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve hot, with fresh fruit or a salad on the side.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.