Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mexican margarita madness night

It was a gorgeous, sunny, but cool day and I really enjoyed taking Bodhi out for his many outing and he enjoyed it as much as me - leaping and bounding through the snow, like a puppy. Bonnie kitty wasn't eager to tackle that snow; but maybe tomorrow he strong desire for some outdoor play will over ride her "snow discomfort."

With Jim facing another 5-6 weeks of healing, I'm trying to make things as comfortable for him as possible and give him some small pleasures, like cooking  things he loves. I was going to make a chicken, andouille sausage gumbo tonight but had everything but the green peppers, so I used the chicken to make my Mexican stir fry with tomatoes, onion, garlic, chili peppers and herbs, along with cheese topped refried beans and margaritas.

Since I can't get in the studio I'm using this time to get caught up with feeding my sourdough starters and hopefully, soon, I'll be able to tackle more of this paperwork. This morning I made him a huge breakfast of bacon, sunny side up eggs, bacon and sourdough pancakes. A 100 year old starter I thought had died, was able to get resuscitated after a couple of days of frequent feeding and that's what I used in this morning's pancakes. Usually I can't get him to eat any other pancake but buckwheat but he actually enjoyed these, so they will be on the menu in the future. It's a mild starters than my North West one, which is pretty much like the classic San Francisco sour dough starter.

Our  road is still snow covered, so I'm hoping that in a day or two I'll be able to get out and do some more grocery shopping. We don't have so much snow that would make it impossible to drive through - I hope! Fortunately, I usually have a pretty full larder and freezer and can always keep us well fed if we're snowbound.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Another pizza night

Jim likes pepperoni  and I finally discovered that the whole pepperoni has much better flavor and texture than the variety you buy already cut. I'm not a fan of it but I found I could tolerate the higher quality of the whole pepperoni.
We got the results of Jim's MRI this morning. He has 3 vertebrae fractures as well as  a broken sacrum. We're keeping our fingers crossed that he may be able to avoid surgery. The report was sent to the neuro surgeon today and hopefully he'll agree with the radiologist and our doctor that since there was no compression of the vertebrae that another 4 weeks or so of rest should heal these fractures without surgery. We're hoping he won't have to be driven to Asheville to see the neuro surgeon since driving even to the local hospital was pretty uncomfortable and Asheville is well over an hour's drive each way.

The past few days have been busy going to the doctor, then  the hospital, doing a big grocery shopping to prepare for the storm that is now upon us,cooking  and all the other household chores and animal care that need tending. I'm exhausted but determined to make things as comfortable as possible tor Him and cook him  a lot of his favorite things to make this healing process a a bit more tolerable.His spirits are very good considering how badly he was hurt in that fall on the ice.

My newZojirushi bread machine arrived today, so tonight I'll spend some time watcing the instruction dvd and reading the instruction booklet.. Since I have a batch of no knead bread proofing, for baking  in the morning,  I might wait another day before trying the machine. 


Monday, January 25, 2010

Pizza night and Cauliflower Potato Tomato Curry recipe

Tonight's dinner was a veggie pizza, margaritas and butterscotch pudding. I was out of mushrooms but  used some thinly sliced shallots, bell peppers and fresh tomatoes. 

Jim has been on a pudding kick lately. I think it's a big comfort food while he's trying to heal.

I also have a no knead bread batched which will proof for 19 hours and get baked tomorrow. This was one of those very busy days and now I'm settling in, catching up with email, and watching some tennis and giving Bonnie kitty some mom play  time.

Here's a requested Cauliflower Potato Curry I made last night. I haven't forgotten about getting the mushroom gougere recipe up and will get to post that soon. Lately there just aren't enough hours in the day to do everything!

Cauliflower, Potato, Tomato Curry

1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
3 T oil (I use olive oil)1 lb potatoes peeled, cut in 1" piece and par boiled till just tender (don't overcook)
1 head of cauliflower (about a 1 lb size) washed, cored and cut into small pieces.
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped or put through a garlic press
1/2 tsp each of tumeric, cumin and coriander powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
1- 11/2 cups water (start with a cup and add 1/4 cup more at a time if curry gets too dry during cooking).
1 large tomato cut in chunks or if you don't have a tomato.juice of a small lemon or lime.(I used a small tomato and a bit of lemon juice).

Heat oil in a large, saute pan on medium  heat. Add the mustard seeds and as soon as they begin popping, lower the heat a bit and add the garlic, stirring it till it turns a light golden color (don't burn it). Then add the cooked potatoes and raw cauliflower and toss and cook a minute or so. Then add tomato if using, all the spices and salt, stirring often for about 5 minutes. Then add the water and when it start to simmer, you can turn the heat down a bit, cover it and cook it for 15 minutes. Check after 15 minutes to see if the veggies are tender and add a bit more water if needed and cook another 5 minutes, stirring to make sure potatoes don't stick. If you didn't add a tomato, then sprinkle the lemon or lime juice over the veggies, toss and serve.

*It goes great with dal and rice. You can find a lot of dal recipes on the Internet.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Busy, rainy day

Today was a big cooking day. My new Indian vegetarian cookbook had a recipe for a cauliflower and potato curry which sounded good. It went well with the basmati brown rice, our favorite  dal and Naan bread.   The recipe I wanted to try, called for the bread machine, so I retrieved it from the  basement only to find that the machine was kaput, so I wound up figuring out how to make it work with the kitchen aid. The timing was totally off on the recipe and I burned the first batch not even cooking it the full time. Next time I'll try one of the Naan recipes from one of my own, trusted Indian cookbooks.
While the bread was rising, I got on line and did some bread machine research and wound up ordering one that has two mixing arms which is heavier duty than the now "late" bread machine. This new one is supposed to be very quiet which will be a welcome change over my old one. I was also surprised to hear that many of these bread machines only last 3 years, which I hope isn't true. It should last longer in this house since our favorite, every day bread is Jim Lahey's no knead bread.
Jim's football game just went into over time and I'm watching the Australian Open tennis as long as my eyes will stay open.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Banana bread

Here's the banana bread I made yesterday , on a wonderful Ron Slagle plate. It will go nicely with boiled eggs this morning. Eggs are one of Jim's favorite foods and boiled eggs come a close second to - Eggs Benedict, his favorite egg dish.

Now that I've got this laptop with Windows 7 working well enough, I've decided to leave it as it is and not fool around with dual boot drives. My old desktop has XP so I can use that for programs that just won't work on here. Hopefully, those software companies will soon have versions that will work with Windows 7 or at least have new drivers that will make those programs compatible.

The studio has been calling lately and I think I should be able to scratch that itch and get in there next week - maybe even this weekend. Jim is doing well enough in his healing process that I won't feel guilty leaving him for a few hours of studio time. Yesterday he drove to town on his own and although his back was tight and sore, he was able to do it. His spirits are better now that he can see some progress in the healing. He even feels well enough to go out to dinner at the Mexican restaurant with friends tonight. I'm definitely ready for a night out, Mexican food and a margarita!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

More no knead bread

Yesterday I baked another loaf of the no knead bread, this time, an oval loaf  in my new, cast iron, oval pot.. It was still too big to fit in the toaster, so I'll have to stretch it a bit more next time. I let it proof 15 hours, then a 2 hour rise before baking and it had a beautiful crumb. I used half bread and half unbleached, all purpose flour - both King Arthur. There wasn't much difference between that and using all bread flour. The bread was just a hair heavier. Next loaf I'll use all all purpose flour. I also read that a tiny addition of vitamin c will help the bread rise more, so I'll try that as well. Bread making seems to be a good substitute for not being able to get in studio time right now and Jim is very happy that I'm using my free time in the kitchen. He loves this bread!

It's raining again and cooler than it's been. I got into the studio earlier to water plants and put some things away; but making pots will have to wait a bit longer.

Jim still needs me to do his chores,, so there isn't much free time or energy for more physical activity. He felt well enough the past two days to take Bodhi out for a walk once or twice. This morning he wants to try to drive to town to pick up the mail. It's only 3 miles each way so he should be OK. I gave him a good rub down with arnica which seems to help his injured back.

Last night we had wine for the first time since his accident. To make up for that time with no wine, he pulled out a really lovely bottle of Lytton Springs Zinfandel. We  threw caution to the wind and instead of having our usual 5 and 10 oz, we finished the bottle, without any guilt!

Today I'm going to make some banana nut bread. Jim's appetite seems to be returning, so tonight I'll make his favorite  pork chops au poivre with a cream, sherry reduction and oven roasted garlic rosemary potatoes and probably green beans. I think I still have a couple of packages from last seasons garden in the freezer.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Shopping day

I baked bread yesterday and this time I used bread flour. It made a very light loaf, which Jim loved. Next time I'll try half bread flour and half all purpose. I did let it proof a couple of hours longer than usual but I think it was the flour that made it so light. Personally, I prefer it with a bit more body.

Since it was such a lovely day I drove us to Spruce Pine to do some shopping and have lunch at the China Buffet.. Jim fared pretty well, on this, his first time in the car since his fall. He had one or two uncomfortable moments and by the time we got home his back was pretty tight. I massaged some arnica into those muscles and he's now resting. This healing is going to take a while!

I did most of the grocery shopping, loading and unloading myself and now I'm enjoying just sitting, doing some computer work, and watching the Australian Open tennis.It was a tiring day for both of us.

Neither of us is wanting a big dinner, after a big lunch, so I think I'll just heat up the pea soup for me and make Jim a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich which sounded good to him. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Another spring like day

It's almost springlike weather out there. If I weren'r busy with cooking, nursing an injured husband and caring for animals and plants, I'd be in the garden pulling some weeds and doing other cleanup . I  just might steal afew minutes out there this afternoon. It's very  tempting on this warmish, sunny day.

I've got my no knead bread rising and will be making a curried pea soup to go with it. I'm going to try to change the baking schedule and try a cold oven baking. Others have reported that it works very well. I imagine the bread might rise more putting it in a cold oven.

Another project I'm working on is getting old audio tapes converted to MP3 files with the use of my new ION Tape 2PC machine. So far, it doesn't seem to be doing a great job. I'm getting funny repeats. I can live with it on lecture tapes for my own use, but it is definitely extremely undesirable on music tapes. I'm going to write the company and see if there's a fix for this glitch.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Touching base

Not much to blog about right now. Jim is doing a bit better. He actually got out of bed by himself this morning, so progress is being made. He's eating more and looks perkier; but he's still in pain and his mobility is very limited because of the pain in his back.

I'm making comfort food for him. Tonight's dinner was linguine with bolognese sauce, one of his favorite comfort meals. He's going to try to stop some of the pain pills and just let me continue with the topical applications of arnica, etc.

He must be feeling a bit better because he's getting excited watching this Arizona, Louisiana football game!

Well, that's it for today. Oh, side note - I finally got the iTunes computer glitch fixed. Microsoft finally sent me information to get into the registry and remove all the iTunes entries. Now I'm keeping my fingers crossed that removing those didn't mess up something else! LOL

Friday, January 15, 2010

Spring like weather

Today was a beautiful, spring like day. In between my nursemaid role, computer woes and meal prep,  I managed to get a bit of time outdoors pulling a few weeds and doing a tiny bit of garden cleanup.

Right now there's no time for the studio. Taking care of Jim through his healing process, animal and plant care and household chores is all there's time and energy for right now.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Jim's big ouch!

I've been playing doctor and nurse since Jim took a bad fall on the icy driveway last night - landing hard on his back, followed by his head. :-(  He is not a happy camper right now and hurting a lot, so this is going to be a short blog update.

Fortunately I had rescue remedy, arnica and other things on hand to try to ease his discomfort. Judging by how he was last night after the fall (dizzy, nauseous), we think he may have gotten a mild concussion; but like so many other men, I can't get him to go to a doctor! :-(

My computer woes continue even after a Windows 7 re-install over the old one. I'll try one more time tomorrow and then be back on the phone or emailing Microsoft. :-(

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mushroom gougere

Here's the curried mushroom and gruyere gougere I made for dinner last night. We'll have the leftovers tomorrow. Pasta is on tonight's menu - stuffed shells with a simple marinara sauce.

It was definitely a hot chocolate lunch today! The snow has now stopped and the sun is shining -  a lovely day at the moment. I took Bodhi, our Jack Russel for a walk. The poor little guy is having some tummy problems and wanted to eat grass during our walk; but not much was to be found amongst the snow. :-(
I finally got my important files backed up and did more computer cleanup. Later I'll try to get Windows 7 re-installed over the current one. I'm a bit reluctant to do it; but Microsoft assured me that it's possible, so I'm going to bite the bullet as soon as I go over the instructions.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mushroom gougere tonight

We woke up to another 5 degree F morning - just two more days before this cold spell breaks! My sister in law in New Smyrna Florida had  snow two days ago - crazy weather due to the somewhat rare occurrence of the river of air that usually runs east to west, protecting us from all that arctice air, going into a zig zag pattern creating some unusually cold weather on the east coast and unusually warm areas elsewhwere.

The Christmas tree is completely down and put away for another year. The nice thing about an artificial tree is that you can enjoy it for such a long period of time and not have to deal with allergies from the chemicals or mold as well as potential  fire dangers from real trees.

My computer back up finallyworked; but I found it's not an easy task trying to get a view of what backed up. Since the backup started yesterday I removed a lot more video and picture files so I'll probably re-do the backup which took all day yesterday and continued overnight.

I 'll check  my Windows 7 The Definitive guide book, to see if there's another way to open those back up files. This computer problem is definitely never ending! I have to make sure all the files I want are in the backup folder before I re-install WIndows 7. The way these computer problems are going pottery may have to wait till my next lifetime! :-(

I'll keep working on this and stop around 3:30 to start on dinner. I'm  making a curried  mushroom gougere. It's one of those vegetarian meals that Jim will eat and actually enjoy!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tree coming down today

Finally got enough files deleted or moved and hopefully this latest computer back up attempt will work. Other attempts have failed so I don't have a clue as to how long it should take, nor what files it's backing up.

Today is the "take down Christmas tree day" (Jim's job with a bit of help from me). I had studio and basement plants to water and lights to change as well as the unending computer work.. The studio water was frozen this morning but all was fine by early afternoon. We're really looking forward to Wednesdays weather - sunny and temperatures in the  high 40's . It's going to feel like spring after these low 20's days and 5 degree night time temperatures.

If this backup works, my next job will be to reinstall Windows 7 over the current one and then make a new partition and install Windows XP  on that partition. That job will probably be on tomorrows agenda,  since I suspect this backup is going to take hours.

Well, time to feed my furry critters and then us. It's cornbread and beans for us tonight - good, cold weather, comfort food. 

Saturday, January 09, 2010

French onion soup in my 80's shino glazed bowl

Here's a picture of the French Onion soup in one of my shino glazed bowls from the early 80's.

This was the coldest morning yet - 5 degrees F this morning. Our high of the day was around 22F; but this weather is supposed to break Monday and go up to the 40's by Monday afternoon.

Yesterday we got the carpets out of the studio and our dining room is now back to normal. Jim dismantled his under the tree village today and will take down the tree tomorrow. I've been  on the computer all day. I'm still deleting duplicate photos - thousands of them! This is taking forever; but I need to get it done.

Microsoft called me yesterday about some of the problems and I found that Windows 7 allows you to partition your computer so I'll be able to install Windows Xp in a new drive and have Windows 7 in another. So I'll be able to have a dual boot system and use XP with my old software. I asked him to email me detailed instructions on how to do this; but it will have to wait until I get the cleanup finished and back those documents up on the stand alone hard drive.

Jim's watching football and I'm still working on this computer. I've made a  lot of headway the past two days. There's still more to do but I am seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. I'm looking forward to closing it down at 8 o'clock and watching the Brit coms  and giving  kitty Bonnie some play time, followed by Poirot which we'll watch in bed at 10pm. Other than meal prep and animal care, and a short stint on my Farmville distraction, I've been cleaning up these computer files all day. I'm beginning to wonder if there's life after computer woes!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Another BRRR day

It's a cold, dreary day and we're expecting a bit of snow later this afternoon. We're just nesting in our now dry house and recharging our batteries after the flooding clean up.

The doctor put me on a generic Cipro and this particular antibiotic is causing some interesting symptoms like nausea, headache and affecting sleep. There are worse symptoms from this stuff, and hopefully I won't deal with them; but I need to get this sinus infection under control so I can get back into my studio. I have 9 more days on this medication and hope my body can deal with it for that time.

In the meantime, I'll use my time to cook and keep working on this massive computer problem. There are thousands of files to go through and file or delete. I'm hoping today I'll free enough of the stand alone hard drive to do a back up.

Jim and I did some shopping yesterday so I'd have enough groceries to avoid driving to Spruce Pine for the next several days. This weather isn't going to break till Monday, so we'll cozy up to the fireplace and enjoy some nice vegetarian meals for a few days. Tonight it's fettucine alfredo with additions of sauteed mushrooms and onions.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


The sun is shining in the midst of some very slight snow flurries. If I didn't have to go out to pick up my prescriptions for this sinus problem I'd sit tight with some hot chocolate.

We got lucky, if you can get lucky after two burst water piipes flooding the house; but the good news is that the plumber could access those pipes and replace them with pvc, without tearing down walls in the bathroom. He was able to break through a closet wall to access the rest of the pipes. The tense moment was when the water was turned back on. If there were other breaks below the access points, we would have had to remove the siding on the house to access them. Things are drying out nicely and we have the dehumidifier on in the basement to help things along.

When the area rugs dry out we'll have to get all the dining room furniture back in place. Needless to say there hasn't been any time for much of anything other than cooking,  animal care, the continued computer cleanup and dealing with this current mess.

Well, that's it for today. Time to get back to computer cleanup for another hour or so.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Jerry Brown 9th generation Alabama potter

Here's a link to very nice video of Jerry Brown, a 9th generation pottery from Alabama. Enjoy!

Yesterday was a most interesting day around here. After being out 5 hrs with a doctors appointment and food shopping, we came home to find part of our house and whole basement flooded due to a burst water pipe upstairs. I won't go into the gory details of cleanup; but will just say that it could have been a lot worse.
The wet wall paper in the dining room and  powder room seems to have dried and looks OK. The wet area rugs are now drying out in my studio and front porch. Dear friends Jim and Laura came over and helped with cleanup and the plumber arrived and did some temporary work to at least give us some water on the first floor. He'll be back today to replace the broken copper pipe and replace it with plastic.
When we were done with getting most of the water mopped up,  Jim opened a big bottle of a 2003 Merlot which the four of us finished with some cheese, fruit and cookies. That was dinner last night instead of the shrimp I was going to make. Fortunately we had a big lunch while we were out and we were too tired to eat much anyway.
Our friend Jim checked out the crawl space behind the upstairs bathrooms and thinks the break will be able to be fixed without tearing out a wall. We're keeping our fingers crossed that it will turn out that way.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Hot chocolate and soup night

It was 8 degrees F when I got up and it's warmed up to about 12; but kitty still wants out. The sun is shining so we're letting her out for a bit; but I'll check on her every 15 minutes. I can't believe she'll be happy out there for too long!

This is a day for hot chocolate and soup. My first thought was to make a potato soup to go with the sourdough I baked yesterday; but I'm now thinking that maybe I'll do a French onion instead. I have a lot of leftover gruyere and I think the French onion would be a bit heartier than the potato.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time crusing the Internet in search for a particular sauce I once have in India, on a breakfast masala dosa. I still haven't found that recipe but I did find some others and spent a lot of time writing them out on index cards. We've eaten a lot of red meat this holiday season and we're both ready for some vegetarian or lighter meat and fish, and Indian food is delicious as well as full of vegetarian choices since 70% of the worlds vegetarians live in India!

I dreamed about being back in the studio last night, so hopefully I can get this computer problem solved this week and get my hands back in clay. I'm definitely ready mentally, if not physically. This sinusitis is not responding to the doctor's suggestions so maybe when I have my appointment tomorrow we can explore some antibiotics; because I'm getting real tired of having one eye half closed and feeling like I have cotton up my nostrils!

Well, time to do more file cleanup and tranferring. Tomorrow I'll be back on the phone with Dell.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

No knead sour dough bread

Here's the sourdough, no knead bread I made this morning. Other than overcooking it somewhat, it came out well. I substituted  6 oz of whole wheat flour  for 6 oz of the 3 cups of white bread flour that I usually use in the recipe and used some sour dough starter instead of yeast. We shared a test slice and it's really good; but we'll save the rest for tomorrow night's soup supper.

Jim says it's bread with a Mohawk! When I plopped the dough into the preheated iron pot, it didn't land evenly. One side was squished up against the pot. It rounded itself out, but came out with these peaks which were ripe for charring.. I'll have to work at aiming more to the center, since this very wet dough can't be moved until it's done; or at least I've never tried it for fear of making a mess of it!

Jim bundled up and finished getting the outdoor Christmas lights down and put away; but he promised to leave the tree up for a few more days. The house always looks so bare when we take down the tree and other holiday decorations.

I'm using this winter, post holidays,  time to  other things like cooking and organizing all sorts of things. It was so cold this morning that I went searching for my hand knit New Zealand, wool sweaters and found 3 boxes of sweaters in the upstairs closet, some of which I had totally forgotten I still  had. It was like Christmas all over. Tonight I'll try to find places for them in our bedroom closet; but for now I'm be doing more computer file cleanup for a couple of hours before I start on dinner.

For breakfast I made a South India scrambled eggs recipe which was quite good. Here's the recipe if you want to try it:

4 large eggs, a fine chopped  onion, garlic paste which is 2 parts fresh  minced garlic and 1 part fresh minced ginger ground into a paste (I used my mortar and pestle), 1 to 2 serrano chiles (I used 1 1/4), a small , diced tomato and salt to taste. I combined two recipes and  it worked very well. One onion was plenty for that amount of eggs. One of the recipes called for two onions which I think would be way too much.


Put about a T or so of clarified butter in a 9  or 10" skillet. When hot, add the onion and cook stirring till it become translucent. Then add the minced serrano chiles, and cook, stirring often, till the onions start to brown lightly  (don't allow them to burn).. Once browned a bit, add the tsp of garlic paste and diced tomato.  Stir well and cook about a minute to warm the tomato pieces, then lower heat to low or low/medium, add the eggs and stir/cook till they reach your preferred consistency. If you don't like too much heat, then just use one minced serrano chile. Both of the recipes I found had 2 chiles but even though I like a lot of heat, I think that might be too much. One and a quarters serrano chiles was perfect for our taste. You can serve with toast or one of the Indian breads like Naan, Chapati or dosa, etc.

Bon Appetit!