Saturday, November 28, 2009

I'm a Runner

I did it!

I decided to do the 5 Mile Run today that was the unofficial, non obligatory, culminating event to the Fall Run class that I've been taking for the last five weeks. Just five weeks ago, I posted about my spontaneous decision to sign up for the Fall Run class considering I didn't like running and I could barely run 2 miles without stopping. Now here I was today, running in a 5 Mile Run! I'm so glad that I decided to do it. I have such a great feeling of accomplishment.

This is a photo of me and my running partner coming across the finish line at 1:01:47. After doing time trial runs last week, I had hoped to run 5 miles in 00:57:00. Oh well. At least now I have a goal for my next race!

My husband took the photo. He and our girls came to cheer me on at the end of the race. I saw them at the 4 mile mark, then they took a shortcut to the finish line where they greeted me with hugs and kisses, congratulations and of course, photo ops! They made me so happy. :)

I actually learned today that this was not the end of the run class after all. We started a week late because of scheduling issues at the beginning, before I even signed up, so we have one more week. Tuesday we're going trail running on the trails along a lake in the nearby Wildlife Reservation. I can't wait! Says the non-runner as of five short weeks ago. But not anymore. Now . . .

I'm a runner.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey Quesadillas with Brie and Cranberry Sauce

Got leftovers?

This is a delicious way to use left over turkey and cranberry sauce from your Thanksgiving feast. This recipe serves one, but you can easily double the recipe and make several of these for the whole family. It can also be used as an appetizer, but I'd probably use small tortillas so that the wedges are finger food sized.

Turkey Quesadillas with Brie and Cranberry Sauce

1/2 teaspoon butter or oil
1 large flour tortilla
1/2 cup chopped cooked turkey
2 oz. brie, cut into chunks
1 1/2 tablespoons cranberry sauce

Heat butter or oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until melted and hot.

Lay tortilla in skillet and arrange the turkey, brie and cranberry sauce evenly on one side of the tortilla. Carefully fold over the empty side of tortilla onto the filling and cook until tortilla starts to brown, about 2-3 minutes. Flip tortilla over and cook until other side is brown, about 2-3 minutes more.

Remove from skillet and cut into wedges.

Serves 1

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving . . .

I'm in the midst of cooking a Thanksgiving feast for my family, but wanted take a moment here to say how thankful I am for all of the friendships I've made through the blogging community throughout the last couple of years. I thoroughly enjoy interacting with all of you whether we talk about books, cooking, gardening, crafts, personal goals and even the heartaches of life, I cherish your friendship and am thankful for your presence in my life.

Our Thanksgiving Menu

Roasted Turkey with Sage
Onion Gravy
Mixed Bread Stuffing
Wild Rice Pilaf
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pecans
Mashed Potatoes with Chives
Caramelized Sweet Corn
Green Bean Onion Casserole with Mushrooms
Glazed Pearl Onions
Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Maple Pumpkin Pie
Apple Crumb Pie
Coconut Custard Pie

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Library Loot VIII

Before I share my Library Loot, I have another update on my running. Yesterday was the last day of my fall running class that I've been doing for the last several weeks. We did a time trial run to find out the time it takes us to run a mile, then we worked on maintain that same pace for the duration of the entire run. I paced a mile fairly consistently at about 11 minutes 30 seconds, with my second mile actually a bit faster than the first. I'd love to improve my mile pace to at least a 10 minute mile, and lucky for me, the gym has decided the pilot class was successful enough to allow it to be a permanent part of the fitness classes offered. So I've decided to continue training and sign up for the next session and run through the winter. In the meantime, I still haven't registered for the 5 Mile Race on Saturday, but found out I can register on race day, so I'm still considering it. I don't think I'm ready to run a full 5 miles yet, and I'm not sure how I'll feel mentally if I have to walk part of it. Just in case I do decide to do it, though, I'm going to run tomorrow morning with my running partner from class to get another run in this week and we're going to discuss the race. Heck, if I run 2 miles on Thanksgiving morning, maybe I won't feel as guilty for having a slice of both pumpkin and apple pie before the day over. ;)

Now for today's Library Loot!

Library Loot is a weekly blog event that encourages bloggers to share what books they borrowed from the library that week. To participate, simply make your Library Loot post on your blog and link it using the Mr. Linky link at Marg's blog Reading Adventures or Eva's blog A Striped Armchair. FYI, this week's Mr.Linky is at Marg's.

As usual, I didn't plan on borrowing any books from the library this week. I have two library books on my nightstand that are due back very soon, one of which I have already renewed once, so I really ought to read those before I start borrowing more. Plus I am next on the hold list at my library for the first book in Nora Roberts' new Bride Quartet, and I think it should be in soon. Plus I there are a few new releases out now that I'd like to buy and read. Yet I ran in to return a book today, and well, who can resist?

Cry No More by Linda Howard.

I had this title jotted down in my notes as a "Linda Howard must read," recommended to me by one or more of my trusted blogging friends. Which trusted blogging friends, I can't really say, because I forgot! Maybe it was azteclady? I know orannia recommended Mackenzie's Legacy by Linda Howard, which I will get to eventually through interlibrary loan since mine doesn't have it. In the meantime, I'm going to check out Cry No More. I've read two other Linda Howard novels and thought they were sweet romances, but I'm still waiting to be carried away with one of her works. Maybe this one is it.

Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey.

Once I had Cry No More in my hands, I went looking for Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie, another popular and favorite read that has been recommended by numerous romance blogging friends. Every time I look for this book, it is always out and I always neglect to put a hold on it. Today was no exception. As I made my way to the check out desk, I walked passed the 'new books' section, and I use the term 'new books' loosely when referring to my library because the books on this shelf can be any book new to the library within the last 12-18 months. I guess 'new' is a relative term when you think of all the books shelved at a library. So I'm walking passed the 'new books' shelves, not even looking at titles and all of a sudden, in a random moment, my eyes simply focused on Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey and I knew it was meant to be. I've been curious about this book since I read reviews for it earlier this year by The Book Smugglers and at least one or two other trusted sites (Again with the forgetting...), and just the other day I was reminded of it when I saw another more recent review of it somewhere (More forgetting...).

I love the cover to this one, too. Kind of dark, mysterious, fluid. I want to know more about the young woman on the cover. Who is she? What is she capable of? I'm obviously looking forward to reading this one and will probably do so soon as it is a 'new book' and due back in just 14 days!

So tell me what's your latest library loot?

No library loot? Then tell me what's the last book you bought? I'm anxious to get to the bookstore myself this weekend to pick up a few books I've been waiting for.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pumpkin Smoothie

More pumpkin love. Pumpkin ice cream is at the top of my list of favorite pumpkin treats. If you ever get the chance to try DoubleRainbow brand Pumpkin Ice Cream, it's sinfully delicious. My local Trader Joe's used to carry it around this time of year, but they haven't been stocking it. This pumpkin smoothie recipe is an easy to prepare and much healthier alternative to pumpkin ice cream anyway.

Pumpkin Smoothie

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup milk

2 tsp. packed brown sugar

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp. ground ginger

1 pinch ground cloves

1 pinch ground nutmeg

1/2 cup crushed ice

If you prefer your smoothie thick and slushy, freeze the pumpkin puree in ice cube trays or in dollops on a small baking pan lined with waxed paper first. Otherwise, you can simply use room temperature pumpkin puree in your smoothie.

Dollops (or chunks) of frozen pumpkin puree:

Combine pumpkin, milk, brown sugar, spices and ice in a blender and blend until smooth.

Pour into glasses and serve with a dash of ground cinnamon on top.

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Fall Run Update & Some Organic Goodness

I had such an energetic morning today. Since I started that biweekly fall run class several weeks ago, I haven't been going to my usual Tuesday morning Zumba classes or my Thursday morning spin classes. This week, I decided to live by the simple, yet effective Nike motto and just do it. I went to Zumba Tuesday evening after running in the morning and today I went to 6 am spin class and then to run class from 10:30-11:30 am. We met at a different park today for the run class and ran 4 miles, which is the most I've continuously run in oh, maybe forever Interestingly, the third mile was brutal and then all of a sudden the fourth mile was done.

I guess the class is working at improving my endurance, but I have to say a lot of my success these last few weeks is most likely due to running in a group with these seven other lovely women. We talk a lot, although me not so much after the first mile and a half. Talking raises my heart rate too much and makes me huff and puff more, so I stick to short uh huh, yes, no type answers. Sometimes I'll add a sentence here and there, but it'll be like two or three words, pause, huff puff, two or three more words, pause, huff puff, and repeat until the sentence gets out. We mostly talk about fitness, fitness clothing, nutrition, healthy recipes, etc., so I'm really getting A LOT out of this class.

Next Tuesday is the last class and we're all discussing who wants to run the 5 Mile race on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Today's 4 mile run was the most I've ever done. I'm not so sure I'm ready to tackle 5 miles in just a week's time. I'm still debating. Cue Jeopardy music. ;)

In between spin class and running class, I got the girls off to school (with husband's help driving the teen to high school), and then went to help divide the produce up for all the families in my organic co-op. I did that from 8:45 to 10:15 am and as soon as it was done, I raced to the park for run class and barely made it there with a minute to spare. Needless to say, I could go for a serious nap right now. I only have a few minutes before I have to pick up the girls from school, though, so I thought I'd share this week's share with you instead of napping.

click on photo to enlarge
From left to right, starting at the top:
mustard greens, green leaf lettuce, celery,
sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, concord grapes, bananas
Candycrisp apples, brussels sprouts, pears, cauliflower and red cherry tomatoes
Underneath the brussels sprouts is a
watermelon radish.

Can you guess why it's called a watermelon radish?

Isn't that pretty? I've had these in the past and found them to be rather mild, which I like since I'm not very keen on radishes in general. I'll just use a little here and there in salads until it's gone. ;)

Which item in my share this week looks or sounds most appealing to you?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pumpkin Muffins with Chocolate Chips

I used the homemade pumpkin puree that I made the other day for these muffins. The muffins are not too sweet, so the chocolate chips add a nice little burst of decadence with each bite. You can substitute dried cranberries for the chocolate chips, if desired.

Pumpkin Muffins with Chocolate Chips

1 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves

3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

1 large egg
1 c. pumpkin puree
1/2 c. orange juice
2 Tblsp. canola oil
1/2 c. semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Combine flours, sugars, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

Use a whisk to combine thoroughly. Make a well in the center and set aside.

In another bowl, combine egg, pumpkin, orange juice and oil.

Use a whisk to combine thoroughly.

Add pumpkin mixture to dry ingredients, gently stirring until dry ingredients are just moistened.

Add the chocolate chips.

Gently fold chocolate chips until just combined.

Spray the cups of a muffin pan with cooking spray or line with baking cups.

Divide the batter evenly into 12 muffin cups.

Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin in the middle of the pan comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes then remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Enjoy! :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkin is one of my favorite food groups. I love anything pumpkin. From the standard fare of pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins and classic pumpkin pie to the more unusual pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin flan, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin smoothies--even the savory dishes like pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin gnocchi . . . You name it. If it's pumpkin, I love it.

As a lover of all things pumpkin, I've come to master the art of making my own pumpkin puree for most of my pumpkin needs. It's actually very simple to make. Even you can become a master, and well, I suppose it's so easy, it shouldn't even be considered an art. In my experience, the most flavorful pumpkin puree I have made has come from Long Island cheese pumpkins that I've gotten in my organic co-op several times over the years. I'm pretty sure they're called cheese pumpkins because they look like a big round wheel of cheese. The cheese pumpkins have a small seed cavity and thick, dark orange flesh that produces a rich and fragrant puree. This year in the co-op, however, I got the more common, smaller pie pumpkin and was pleasantly surprised how much puree I got from such a small pumpkin. Here's how to make your own homemade pumpkin puree.

The beautiful photo of the Long Island cheese pumpkin above came from the wonderful theDailyGreen website.

Homemade Pumpkin Puree
1 pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350 F

Wash the whole pumpkin in your kitchen sink to remove any residual dirt before cutting.

Using a large, sturdy knife, carefully cut the pumpkin into wedges, saving seeds for roasting. (See my recipe for Cinnamon Toasted Pumpkin Seeds).

Place pumpkin wedges, skin side up in a shallow baking dish. Add a bit of water, maybe 1/4 cup or so, to the bottom of the dish to keep pumpkin from drying out and sticking to the bottom.

Bake for approximately 20-30 minutes or until the flesh pierces easily with a fork. Remove from oven and let cool.

Scoop pumpkin flesh from the skins.

Puree pumpkin in a food processor until very smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.

Use in your favorite pumpkin recipe.

Store any leftover pumpkin puree in the refrigerator and use within for 1-3 days. To freeze pumpkin puree, simply spoon into freezer zip top bags, pressing out any air in the bag and place in freezer. Frozen pumpkin puree keeps for up to one year.

And if all this seems like way too much work to get some pumpkin puree for your favorite recipe . . . there's always this:

Stay tuned for my recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins . . .

Friday, November 13, 2009

"La Cenicienta"

I love fairy tale romances. The young woman and her bittersweet story of loneliness and misfortune. A seemingly sweet story laced with danger and magic. The young man who either saves her or better yet, gives her the strength and determination to save herself. And of course, there's the happily ever after.

The following fairy tale romance may not be a unique by its nature, but it is very special, nonetheless. It was penned and illustrated by my daughter.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Library Loot VII

Library Loot is a weekly blog event that encourages bloggers to share what books they borrowed from the library that week. To participate, simply make your Library Loot post on your blog and link it using the Mr. Linky link at Marg's blog Reading Adventures or Eva's blog A Striped Armchair. FYI, this week's Mr.Linky is at Marg's.

Today is Veteran's Day, a federal holiday in the United States on which we specifically honor veterans who have at one point or another, served our nation in order to protect our freedom.

Despite the fact that libraries are closed today in honor of our Veteran's, I have some library loot to share that I borrowed a few days ago.

Revenge of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz.
The Spellman Files series, Book 3

As I've mentioned previously, I started this series initially on the recommendation of Li from Me and My Books, but also endorsed by Michelle from The Redheaded Book Child. Michelle even possesses an ARC of the fourth and final book in the series due out in May. Lucky Michelle! Also, nath from Books, Books and more Books has read the first book in the series, too and we're working on a buddy review that will hopefully get posted soon. I'll give the heads up here when it does.

I'm obviously really enjoying the series as I've now borrowed the third book in the series and will definitely be reading it soon. I've really become attached to Izzy from whose perspective the story is told and I already have ideas about what I want to happen by the end of the series. I do hope my wishes come true.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen.

I have wanted to read Garden Spells for probably over a year by now, ever since I read a glowing review for it on Brie's blog many moons ago. I saw a few new favorable reviews for it pop up recently and decided it was definitely time for me to read it.

What books have you been wanting to read for ages based on favorable reviews but still haven't gotten around to?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

'In Death' Reading Challenge

I've had an idea to set up this reading challenge for a while now, but recently decided to put it into action when I realized that the latest In Death novel by author J.D. Robb, Kindred In Death, was released the other day. Kindred In Death is the 35th(!) installment in the well loved and very successful In Death series by romance author Nora Roberts who writes this series under the J.D. Robb pen name. The In Death series is futuristic romantic suspense series that consistently delivers an interesting, quality murder mystery; plenty of danger, intrigue and action; futuristic forensic methodology; and most of all, a riveting look into the professional and personal life of NYPSD detective Eve Dallas and her enigmatic lover and eventual husband, Roarke, along with a colorful cast of secondary characters.

If I did my research correctly, there are now 35 In Death stories published--30 full length novels and 5 novellas, with a 6th novella expected later this month. Clearly, Ms. Robb is doing something right as she continues to write these stories and readers continue buying, reading, and loving her work.

At this point, I've only read the first four books in the series, and even then, that was almost two years ago that I did so. You'd think I should be able to read these stories at least as fast as Ms. Robb can write them, but it appears I fall even further behind with each new In Death release. So to help remedy my own state of remiss, perhaps help motivate other readers who are similarly way behind in this series or to inspire readers to even start this series in the first place, I've decided to create an In Death Reading Challenge. I think this challenge may even be fun for readers who are already caught up in their In Death reading as they either revisit past books or simply enjoy watching the rest of us fall for this books for the first time.

Keep in mind that many, many libraries have the In Death series on their shelves, so you may not need to buy them if you don't want to or can't afford to. In other words, there's no excuse not to try one just one In Death book. Come on! You know you want to!

I will do this by myself if I have to, but would really love some company. So who's in?

+Open to anyone.
+Read one In Death book per month and make a post about it on your blog. It can be a review or just commentary, if you like. Please, please, PLEASE indicate somewhere at the beginning of your post whether or not your post includes spoilers in order to protect innocent eyes. It would also be great if you'd link back to this post in your monthly posts.
+If you don't have to have your own blog, I will permit readers to submit their posts to me to post on my blog. Please note this will be at my discretion. If I find anything in your post to be objectionable or inappropriate, I have the right to refuse to post it.
+Make your post on the last day of the month. This is for my benefit because I'm really awful at Reading Challenges and I need as much time as possible to procrastinate. I try to remember to do a reminder post one week before.
+If you miss a month, no worries. Just make it up if you want to. Or don't. This is for fun and generally not meant to cause anyone but me any stress. ;)
+Sign up to participate in the challenge in the comments of this post and then on the last day of the month, I'll make an In Death Series Challenge post in which we'll use Mr. Linky so we can find each other's posts easily. Or maybe I'll just do a link list. Maybe I'll be the only one in the challenge. Stay tuned.
+Feel free to grab the In Death Reading Challenge button for the sidebar of your blog. It would be great if you would link it back to this post. Thanks.

I'm open to starting the challenge this month or in December if enough participants are interested in an early start. Let me know in the comments.

New Challenge Rules!

Sorry to complicate things for everyone who already signed up, but I decided to modify the rules for the challenge in hopes of well, making it easier for everyone. I thought about how stressful it can be for me to have to write book reviews for a certain book by a certain time and how it can zap the fun out of it all for me. I thought about how much I love the reading challenges that just require you to keep a running list of the books you've read, and decided I wanted to offer both options to the participants of this challenge. I hope these changes in rules make this challenge even more fun for you. Thanks for joining!


1. Anyone can join at any time.

2. Read one 'In Death' book by J.D. Robb per month, starting in January 2010 until you're caught up in the series.

3. To join, make a post on your blog about the challenge where you will keep a running list of the books that you'll edit as you go along. (See my own entry post HERE as an example). Once you've made your entry post, come back to this post and enter the link to your entry post in Mr.Linky below.

4. If you don't have a blog and you'd like to join the challenge, you can come back here and leave a comment as you read the books, or at the monthly 'In Death' Challenge post that I'll make on or around the last day of each month.

5. Reviews are optional. I will make a post on or around the last day of each month with a Mr.Linky for you to link any reviews or commentary from your blog so that we can find each other's posts easily and engage in some dialogue about the books.

6. If you miss a month, don't stress over it. This is all for fun and camaraderie! To motivate everyone from stay on track, however, I plan on awarding prizes at regular intervals (maybe every four months) to a randomly selected participant who has stayed on schedule for that time period.

7. Feel free to grab the 'In Death' Reading Challenge button on my sidebar for your blog.

8. Have fun!

The complete list of 'In Death' books, for your reference:

1. Naked In Death
2. Glory In Death
3. Immortal In Death
4. Rapture In Death
5. Ceremony In Death
6. Vengeance In Death
7. Holiday In Death
7.5. "Midnight in Death" (in the Silent Night anthology or the Three in Death anthology)
8. Conspiracy In Death
9. Loyalty in Death
10. Witness In Death
11. Judgment in Death
12. Betrayal in Death
12.5. "Interlude in Death" (in the Out of this World anthology or the Three in Death anthology)
13. Seduction in Death
14. Reunion in Death
15. Purity in Death
16. Portrait in Death
17. Imitation in Death
17.5. "Big Jack" (in Remember When novel)
18. Divided in Death
19. Visions in Death
20. Survivor in Death
21. Origin in Death
22. Memory In Death
22.5. "Haunted in Death" (in the Bump in the Night anthology or the Three in Death anthology)
23. Born In Death
24. Innocent in Death
24.5. "Eternity in Death" (in the Dead of Night anthology)
25. Creation in Death
26. Strangers In Death.
27. Salvation In Death
27.5. "Ritual in Death" (in the Suite 606 anthology)
28. Promises in Death
29. Kindred in Death
29.5. "Missing in Death" (in The Lost anthology)
30. Fantasy in Death
31. Indulgence in Death
31.5. "Possession in Death" (in The Other Side anthology)
32. Treachery in Death
33. New York to Dallas
33.5. "Chaos in Death" (in The Unquiet anthology)
34. Celebrity in Death
35. Delusion in Death
36. Calculated in Death
37. Thankless in Death
37.5. "Taken in Death" (in Mirror, Mirror anthology)
38. Calculated in Death
39. Festive in Death

Original book list compiled by Kat of, book titles added by me as release dates are available.

Places of 'In Death' Interest and where I did my research on the published In Death novels currently available:

J.D. Robb website

*NYPSD stands for New York Police and Security Department.

Use Mr.Linky to enter the Challenge.

Friday, November 6, 2009

"Empire State of Mind" . . . Loving Alicia Keys

Kwana recently posted the YouTube video of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys performing their awesome duet "Empire State of Mind" live at the World Series final game the other night. It reminded me just how much love Alicia Keys. Listening to her sing, hearing her lyrics, feeling her music and the passion she puts into her songs simply sends chills up my spine every time. And yeah, she's even made me tear up a few times. Have you listened to---not just heard, but really listened to her 2007 hit single "Like You'll Never See Me Again"? And that's just the song. Be prepared to bawl if you watch the video. Okay, let's not go there.

Anyway . . . after watching and listening to the live performance YouTube video of "Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys in Yankee Stadium from the other night on Kwana's blog, I hopped over to YouTube in search of the official video for the song. I loved the song from the first time I heard it on the radio weeks ago and I turn it up every time. And every time Alicia Keys belts out that first "In New Yoorrrrrrk . . . " I get the chills. She moves me. She really does.

Having lived my whole life in the New Jersey suburbs of NYC, I think this song appeals to me not just because it features Alicia Keys, but also because it has a certain familiarity to it. I'm familiar with the beauty, magic, power, and also the sadness and tragedy the city holds. I wonder how this song moves people who have never been here before. Does it move them the same way? Do the lyrics and the images in the video seem foreign?

Alicia Keys has a new album coming out in December called The Element of Freedom (12.15.09). Her single "Doesn't Mean Anything" can be viewed at her official YouTube Channel HERE. She's such a beautiful talent.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

More Organic Goodness

As some of you know from my earlier posts this week, my youngest daughter has been home with the flu this week and since she's such a good sharer, she gave it to me. I was pretty miserable Tuesday and Wednesday but thankfully, I'm feeling a lot better today and even accomplished a few things. I did a load of laundry, unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, returned some library books including one that was due on Monday and for obvious reasons I didn't get out to return it, and last but not least, picked up this week's co-op share. Now I'm ready for a nap.

But first, I want to share what came in this week's order. I still have the two heads of lettuce in my fridge from the previous order so I traded this week's lettuce for two ears of corn with my friend. Believe it or not, the lettuce from two weeks ago is still fresh, although I will be eating it over the next few days before it does start to spoil. I use Evertfresh bags for my produce and although the bags are a bit expensive, they can be reused many times over and they really work at keeping your produce fresh for a long time. So in the end they're cost effective for me.

Here's what I got in this week's share:

click to enlarge image

Starting from top, left to right:
bananas, yellow onions, Hakurei salad turnips with greens,
Stayman apples, zucchini, yellow squash, a pie pumpkin, kale,
yellow corn, Bosc pears, green tomatoes, red potatoes
cranberries, mangos, carrots

My mouth was watering just handling the mangos. It's probably my body craving the Vitamin C since I've been sick, so I'll be having those tonight for sure. Actually, I think I'll go cut one up right now and eat it at the counter so I don't have to share it. :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Acorn Squash & Pear Soup

My Bumblebee has the flu. After feeling lousy since Halloween afternoon and having run a fever for almost 48 hours, I took her in to see the doctor today and sure enough, she tested positive for Influenza type A. Poor kid. She's now on some flu meds and she'll definitely be home from school tomorrow and most likely Wednesday, too. The girls have only a three day school week this week due to a teacher convention, which means they're off from school on Thursday and Friday, so at least my Bumblebee won't fall too behind in school work. Then she'll have time to rest and also catch up on her schoolwork over the long weekend. Hopefully the flu won't make its way through our whole family, although it's going to be tough to avoid sharing a bug like this one, I think. I admit my throat feels a little scratchy today. And tomorrow is a Fall Run day, too! :(

I made this soup over the weekend and it was so delicious. Pureed vegetable soups like this one, and squash soups in particular, are one of my favorite fall comfort foods. I guess I made this one just in time for when some extra comfort was needed.

Acorn Squash & Pear Soup

2 medium acorn squash
3 ripe pears
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Cut each acorn squash into wedges, remove seeds and membranes and place skin side down in a large shallow baking pan. Bake at 425 F for approximately 30-45 minutes or until squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Remove squash from oven and let cool to the touch.
3. When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh from the skin and into a saucepan. Scrape any liquid and caramelized squash juices that remain in the baking dish into the saucepan as well.
4. Peel and core the pears. Cut into chunks and add to the squash. Add the ginger.
5. Add 2 cups of water, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper and heat squash mixture on stove over medium high heat until it begins to boil, stirring occasionally. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Remove from heat. Working in batches if necessary, spoon squash mixture into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Pour soup into a heat proof bowl as you process the next batch.
7. When all squash mixture is processed and smooth, pour back into the saucepan and add the brown sugar. Heat the soup again until hot, adding additional water, if necessary for desired consistency. I often end up adding another cup of water at this point. Check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve hot.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Bumblebee and The Thug

Once upon a time (the other day) my tween dressed up as a Bumblebee for Halloween. On the day before Halloween, she went home for lunch with her best friend for pizza and to change into their identical Bumblebee costumes. They headed back to school for the Halloween parade and discovered a swarm of Bumblebees! At least a dozen other Bumblebees were there, too! Who knew Bumblebees were so IN this year?

The next day was Halloween, and my Bumblebee had vague plans to trick-or-treat with two of her friends later that day, but as the day went by, she started to come down with something. By late that afternoon, she decided on her own that she didn't feel well enough to go trick-or-treating at all. We stayed in and watched a movie instead.

Once upon a time (very recently) my teen had been going back and forth trying to decide if she was going to dress up for school at all let alone trick-or-treat. It was an odd feeling that perhaps for the first time since she was a baby of 6 months, there was a possibility she wouldn't even participate in Halloween? How could that be? She was my little ladybug, ballerina, Dorothy, princess . . . all those years of adorable costumes, and a few years of some scary and morbid ones, and all of a sudden she was potentially too grown up to dress up? :(

Then, on the night before they were allowed to wear Halloween costumes to school, I was cleaning up the kitchen while my teen was at the dining room table finishing homework, and I overheard her half of a telephone conversation with her best friend. This was at 10:30 pm.

Teen: "So are we dressing up tomorrow, or what?"
Teen: "So what should we be?"
[pause ]
Teen: "A thug? . . . What's a thug?"
Teen: "Well, how can we dress up as something if we don't know what it is?"

LOL! I thought that was adorably funny! She looked it up and once she understood what a thug was, they discussed costume ideas for few minutes, and then decided not to dress up for school the following day after all.

They did get dressed up on Halloween, though, and were the cutest thugs ever. They both wore dark jeans, black long sleeve shirts, dark ski hats and black gloves. They put some black face faint under their eyes and carried a pillowcase for their loot! They actually looked more like robbers, but still. Cutest thugs ever!

It turns out it was pouring by the time the girls and their friends met up to go trick-or-treating, so they hung out at one of the other girls' house for the evening and only came home with a handful of candy. I think this might be the first year we won't be bingeing on Halloween candy for days on end.

And that is the story of The Bumblebee and The Thug.

The end.