May 16, 2011

Compassion & Life

My post for yesterday's post in support of the Day of Compassion, got waylayed by my own little challenge...I locked myself out of the house. Sigh.....I rushed out of the house thinking that I had put my keys in my pocket, when in reality they were still inside hanging in the lock. Right where I can see them...hanging there....mocking me....sigh.

Some of us have been there and done this before (mumble...mumble...I have....). It is still one of those moments you could do without.

However, it was one of those moments that I will treasure, because of my neighbors. They watched out for us, while we waited to get back inside. The hugs they gave us when all was well, were truly special.

Each day, we have an opportunity to reach out to someone give a hug, buy local, volunteer with a community organization, give a donation to your local Food Bank or the Red Cross or the Salvation Army. Consider visiting your local pet shelter or contact an animal rescue group and adopting a pet. Check in on an elderly neighbor and visit.'s priceless.

May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!

I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day with your families or friends.  My family has banned me from the kitchen, so my husband can work his magic at the barbecue grill (He's our resident "Fire King".). He's treating me to his grilled chicken thighs basted in honey, gluten free soy sauce and Green's Dubbel Dark Ale (yep, it's gluten free). He's also fixing a bountiful offering of grilled fresh squash and corn.

I wouldn't be a Mom if it wasn't for my "Fire King," and my very own geek love. We found each other, discovered friendship and slowly fell in love. Over the years, our love grew and we added a son to our little family. As he grew, our love for him and each other grew even more. We decided to add another little one to our family several years later and were blessed with a daughter.

Parenthood has been a wild ride of joy, agnst, love, panic, hope, worry and pride for the children we cherish. They are growing into beautifully honorable people that I'm delighted to know and love. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you my dearest "Fire King" for our son and daughter.

Note: In the Houston area, you can find Green's Pale and Dark Ale at Whole Foods. Bard's Tale can be found at Spec's Liquor Stores.

April 30, 2011

Sweet Potato Muffins & Jamie Oliver

As I mentioned in my last post, it feels like I'm trying to get back into baking and breadmaking. For me, it's an odd thing to say since I've been baking and breadmaking since I was sixteen. As my previous posts have shown, our multiple moves last year played havoc with my daily kitchen fix.  While in reality, I'm actually baking a good bit. I'm busy making multiple batches of scones, biscuits, muffins and foccacia to fuel our two teenagers, who are working their way out of their current shoe size.

All of the hassle, the packing, the storage, the temporary apartment, and finally moving has truly been worth it. We're living closer to our families now, than we have in the past 20 years. At that time, we were living in Wichita and it wasn't that far to come to Houston. Years later, when work moved us from Washington, D.C. to New York, it turned out to be quite the journey. Our youngest was a toddler when we moved to New York and she didn't believe that a kid's car seat was anything anyone should sit in for any length of time. I think I've sustained some hearing loss from that period in our lives.

Recently, I was at our branch of the Houston Public Library and I came across a copy of Jamie Oliver's book, Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way To The Good Life.  The book is gorgeous with many inspiring photos of his garden and the food he makes from his crops. One of the photographs that caught my attention was for Butternut Squash Muffins with a Frosty Top. This muffin is the type that my teens love. They quickly gravitate towards these when they are hunting through the kitchen for something satisfying and filling to eat. I tweaked Jamie's recipe a little by reducing the amount of sugar since I was using sweet potatoes and by topping them with a light citrus gel.

If you'd like to see this recipe in metric, click here.


Jamie's Muffins

3 whole sweet potatoes, baked, peeled, mashed
4 large eggs, whisked
1 tsp sea salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cup cane sugar
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup oat flour (you can also use millet, corn, sorghum, etc)
1/2 cup sweet rice flour (you may also use tapioca, corn or potato starch)
1/2 cup arrowroot starch (you may also use one of the other starches)
1 tsp chia seed meal or 1 tsp xanthan/guar gum
Optional: 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts


1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 tsp vanilla flavoring
2 tsp agar agar powder (you may use gelatin)
2 - 3 Tb cane sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place about 15 to 18 silicone muffin cups on it. You can also use parchment paper lined muffin tins as well. In a medium bowl, add the liquid ingredients, including the mashed sweet potatoes and blend. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and throughly combine. Slowly, add the liquid ingredients and quickly blend together. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool a little bit before topping with the citrus gel and zest.

In a small saucepan, combine the orange juice, sugar and agar agar or gelatin powder. Cook until the mixture begins to thicken, then add the vanilla flavoring. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl for serving.

April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

I hope you had a wonderful day with friends and family. Our family had an Easter celebration with a barbecue, Easter egg hunts for the little ones and, of course, the very necessary chocolate bunnies. My terrific sister-in-law made sure ours were gluten free.

We finished the work on our house and the air quality is significantly better. Thankfully, our son's asthma has calmed down being in a better home environment. My husband and I are really releaved at how much better he feels. Up next on our home list is wood rot. It's one of the dubious joys of living in a humid environment.

We've really enjoyed living in Houston. We're still trying to get things figured out, such as which doctors to use, where to get the car fixed and where to get your suits dry cleaned. We're making progress though and we've even managed to start building relationships with new physicians.

Our neighborhood has scoodles and scoodles of dogs and cats. It seems like everybody has a dog or two and maybe a cat or two. Some folks even have the additional menagerie of rabbits, lizards, mice and hamsters. We've got the lone Shetland Sheepdog. Her wish is that the neighbors would all let their rabbits loose, so she'd have something fun to chase. In her opinion, these cats are way, way too cranky for spontaneous bouts of joy.

I've got my pantry stocked and I've started baking again. I've been busy churning out muffins, bread (the current favorite is biscuits) and focaccia. Plus, a few batches of cookies for good measure. One of my favorite things is to walk into my house and it smells of the foods we love to eat.

More to come...

January 5, 2011

Off With A Bang

It's finally ours! We've partially moved into our new house, actually we're camping in it while we have some work done. We're tackling the things that it's easier to do when you've not yet moved into a house. So, we're putting in hardwood floors upstairs and then having all the floors refinished, a new tankless water heater and recirculator and a radiant barrier. There are more things on our list, but they can come later.

Right now it's loud and noisy. There are hammers banging, carpet tack strips being pulled up and the plumbers yelling back and forth from the attic to the second floor. Our dog is having a grand time running back and forth trying to see what everyone is doing, that is until the plumbers started drilling a large hole in the attic. Now, she's on high alert for any new sounds of potential disaster.