Friday, July 31, 2009

Family Fun Night

This is the recipe for the perfect summer night!

fire in back yard
1 bag soft marshmallow's
graham crackers
Hershey's chocolate bars
2 children, 1 daddy, 1 mama
happy dogs
canning jar with wax paper lid (poke holes in wax paper lid, held on by rubber band)

Build fire, roast marshmallow's place on chocolate between graham crackers. give a plain cracker to each dog, after the little ones have had 2 smores, give them canning jar to catch a 'fire bug' night light. After sending the children to bed and have cozy time by the fire.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Friendship, Food and the Italian Festival

One of the best things since move to Ohio has been my Cheryl.
She would giver the shirt off her back for me or for you for that matter. Of course, in the process of giving said shirt, she will tell you its linage, price point and why it looks so great on her this week (her newest diet). And please return it dry cleaned, thank you. She is deliciously evil, sweet and funny. I could hate for her the stunning brown doe eyes and beautiful hair, but I can't.
Last Friday she called me out of the blue. Yay! Toby told me that if I had stayed home, I was out of my mind, so I left my family for a few hours.
Cheryl and I spent the evening in Cuyahoga Falls River Front at the Italian Festival. Yum. We had a cheap beer, shared a sausage sandwich, listened to fairly a good tenor and wandered into a couple of antique shops. And then the humidity and teenagers started to increase.

That was when we spotted LeFever’s River Grill. I hadn't been in years and she had never been. The patio over looking the river was calling us. The quiet, the decent bottle of wine and the lack of teenagers. The ladies room. It all beckoned us to come and sit.

We stared with a bottle of Lagaria Pinot Grigio. A crispy, bright wine which was perfect for a hot night. Then we decided we should snack... Cheryl and I are among other things foodie friends after all. We had brie and bread, perfectly ripe fruit, shrimp and then we decided on the sesame ahi tuna. Okay, we've all had ahi tuna by now, and it was really good. But what made this extra special was the addition of pickled ginger, so lovely and pink and crispy fried tortilla(?) noodles and a soy based sauce. The spicy ginger, salty sauce and fried noodle added a perfect side to the delicate tuna.

We had a very nice time at LeFever. Our food was very well done and the patio was peacefully away from the crowd. I did however get stuck in a ladies room stall which I blamed on the humidity and the artwork can hardly be called art, but that is only my opinion. I recommend trying the restaurant if you are ever in Cuyahoga Falls.

On our way back to our cars, we wandered through the crowd where I purchased Italian pastries for my family. I'll admit, Italian pastries are not highest on my list, but how can one go wrong with lemon cookies and almond biscotti? Then I saw something I had never seen before. Sfogliatelle. A delicate clam shell cookie with ricotta and citron. Heaven! Hurry and call Corbo's Bakery in Cleveland for this delicacy. 440-785-1097 or go to

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dolmathes with Avgolemono Sauce

For about 25 stuffed grape leaves:

Prepare Grape Leaves:
take smaller, tender leaves from vine, wash and par-boil for about 2 1/2 minutes, remove from water gently, rinse in cool water, remove stems.
I did this the day before and wrapped the leaves in damp papertowles and set in a refrigerator container. If you choose to use a jar grape leaves, rinse very well.

1/2 pound ground meat - I used beef not lamb 1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/4 C uncooked long grain rice 1 egg white (reserve yolk for sauce)
1/4 C finely chopped parsley Salt and pepper to taste
1 juice of 1 lemon 1 beef bouillon cube
1 Cup hot water

Mix together above ingredients (except grape leaves). Place teaspoon amount of filling onto leaf and roll, *explanation below. Fit snugly into a pan and place a heat resistant plate over top to keep the rolls into place and from opening while cooking.
Heat 1 Cup Water, Add the juice of 1 lemon and beef bullion cube. Pour into pan, over rolls, adding enough extra hot water to cover plate. Cover pan, bring to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes.

To Finish:
Once cooked, take off heat, hold plate tightly against the leaves and pour liquid into sauce pan. Dissolve cornstarch into cold water as listed below, and add to liquid in saucepan. Whisk and bring to boil. Beat yolks. Stirring constantly, very gradually add the thickened liquid to the yolks. Stir well. Serve stuffed leaves on a platter with sauce

2 tsp corn starch
1/4 C cold water
2 beaten egg yolks

*To Roll Grape Leaves
If you think of the grape leaf as a star shape, you would fill, fold in bottom points, side points and then tip of star.
Place leaf shiny side down. Place 1tsp. full of filling about 1 inch from stem end of leaf, fold up once from one side of stem end towards center, fold other side of stem end towards center, fold in each side and then fold down top point. I am sure there are video or photo demonstrations in other websites to be found.

If you have any left over meat mixture, make steamed meatball with them and serve with the sauce. MY 6 year old wasn't thrilled with the idea of eating grape leaves, but loved the meatballs!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Great Grapes

Have you ever driven down Rt. 5 along Lake Erie in the autumn just to smell the grapes? If not, I highly recommend doing it this year.

Two years ago I planted 2 small concord grape plants in honor of my dads family, who had vineyards right off Rt. 5 in Westfield, New York for Welch's Juice and Jam. Okay, I also planted them because I can't get concord grapes here in The Heartland. But doesn't the 1st reason sound so sentimental and sweet?
My grandma Anna made the most amazing Concord Grape Pie, which I want to learn to make. She painstakingly cooked the grapes, separated the skins and after what seemed like many many steps, we had a bright and sweet tasting treat. I can't wait! I also love 'Cheater Juice', and no longer want to drive to Buffalo with my canning gear in the back of the Jeep, just so I can have juice.

The grapes are so full this year, I will be able to make pie and enough juice for most of the year. And I don't have to wait to enjoy my sweet grapey harvest. I am making Dolmathes with Avgolemono Sauce - that's Stuffed Grape Leaves with Lemon Sauce, a recipe I found in the charity cookbook from the Buffalo Hellenic Orthodox Church. It is so incredible and I'll post pics tomorrow when they are completed. Today I harvested the leaves, washed and par-boiled them. Tomorrow is our Greek dinner of stuffed grape leaves, flat bread, salad and a Cypress style Chicken and Potato's.
Who knew grapes could offer such a long harvest?


Simple Syrup, as light as you like
Concord Grapes, cleaned and stemmed
You will need clean 1 Qt. canning jars and canning equipment for hot water bath method

Fill jars with about 1/2 Cup Grapes, top with hot simple syrup
fit with clean, 2 piece lids and put through hot water bath

Once cool, put jars up for many months. Once the grapes loose their color into the water and it looks purple, the will still NOT be ready. It takes patience to make cheater juice. Once spring has arrived and you are excited about the fresh foods you have planted and will harvest not as soon as you would like, open a jar of the juice and enjoy Autumn all over again.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lovely Kent Gardens

Saving a Good Thing

We are losing Good Things.

Eddie Bauer is having a difficult time staying afloat in these hard time. This is one company that I really don't want to see go under. I know, you think 'Mom Jeans' when you hear the name Eddie Bauer. But you can get really cute clothes that will outlast the recession. Go ahead check out these shorts I have linked here and buy a pair... Add a pair of comfy Bronx's Slides and a v-neckT'shirt to that order too.

Eddie Bauer: Vashon Fit Chino Short

Shared via AddThis

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Flower Bowl

This is Flower, our little tuxedo cat, sunning herself in a pottery bowl.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Good Things

I'm starting my own list of 'Good Things', because even here in in the heartland, we have good things.

~Today's Good Thing ~

House of Bittersweet

This chocolatier has beautiful works of art in chocolate, the most delectable toffee and the truffles are amazing. The rose truffle is a must!

Week 2

After checking the January 2008 and January 2009 issues of Martha Stewart Living, I have a better idea of how I want to go about improving our little home.

First of all, I'm loving Martha's Wine and Spirit's articles - go ahead, call me a lush. For some reason I find Gentle Reminders not so gentle, and tad more nagging. Oh well, I'll try to take away what will be useful to my family and me; Good Things is fun and light hearted and of course, I am loving the recipes! I am so making the Chocolate Pavlova this week. Maybe I'll invite friends over for a fire and dessert. Ooo, I could include the Spirits too. Yum.

This week is full and I will have bored children, since Anna has returned home to North Carolina. So we will see how things go. My incomplete list goes as follows:
Clean the car - the fries are starting to stink
Buy school supplies *Staples has a great sale going this week
Clean out bathroom closet
Hang art
Start re-seating the dining room chairs
Meet Cheryl for dinner and drinks - Yay!!

My Potato and Leek recipes had rave reciews last night, so I'm including the recipe.

About 2.5pounds of Potato's, sliced thin
2 Leeks, sliced thin and rinsed well
3 slices Smoked Bacon - diced
4 oz. Goats Milk Cheese
2 Tbsp. Flour
1 Cup Cream

In a Dutch Oven, render bacon until crisp, add the cleaned* leeks and cook until soft. Add sliced potatos, sprinkle with flour, add cheese and cream; cook until bubbly. Put into large casserole pan or 9x11 pan and bake 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Some family members would have prefered a less pungent cheese, but others swore by the goat's milk.

*To clean leeks, which must be done thougholy or you will have gritty food. Cut ends and tough, dark greens off. Cut leek in half length wise and then slice into 1/4" pieces. Any lager seems tough. Break ring up into bowl of cold water and let dity grit settle to the bottom.
Remember to scoop out into a collander and pour the water down the drain or you will still have the dirt!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Rain Waters Roses

Okay, I decided the rain could water the roses and I'll feed them next week. I do have a survivalist attitude towards gardening.
I finished everything else on my list, made that amazing dinner I planned and did laundry. Which I even put away! Thankfully, friends of my kids came to play because I didn't have to to do anything with them other than make lunch.
If I keep up this schedule, I'll have to take back the whole great mama thing.
Cleaning is very good exercise. Who knew? Every muscle knows I didn't spend my day playing trains and Barbies.

I spent this morning meandering the local Farmers Market and visiting with friends and neighbors. How Martha is that?! This was my first moment to myself all week. Later today I'll go to the library and get a book or two by Martha and see about getting her January Magazine. I want to see what she has planned for the year... It's time to imbrace more Martha besides a clean house and great food.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dinner is a Good Thing

Fridays Menu - Can you say yum?

Grilled Steak
Pasta and steamed broccoli in ailoi
Lemon squares for dessert

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I'm Giving Myself A Mulligan

A turn on the days events.

I visited my husbands grandmother and grandfather. Taking their granddaughter and 2 great-grand children with me. We chatted and snacked together and according to Ian, Great-grandpa buys the best cookies. On the other hand, Great-grandma wouldn't let me help in the garden because the mosquito's are too thick. I did make the honest offer. I didn't do too bad for an early afternoon.
I then took the kids to see the Cydesdales where me met with friends. The girls climbed trees and practiced cartwheels; the big boys played cars with Ian. There isn't anything like living in a small town. I will say that if we ever get the chance to have the horses here again, I'll have my kids go with friends while Toby and I will watch from Ray's, which is a very good Place.

Today was all too Americana and lovely.

Tomorrow is all planned. Polly and I are I am going swimming with the kids. Another day of not being terribly Martha like. But I've promised to make pack a picnic - Okay, at least some sort of snack and I'll make dinner too. If I get out of bed at a reasonable hour, I could even do laundry and make pancakes. After all, my alarm goes off at 5:00 so husband can get to work on time...

I'm Clean

Being personally clean is all I have going for my day.

I haven't done laundry from the loads I have or even made supper. It's a cereal night. Hope they're in the mood for Frosted Mini Wheat's!
I did visit my husbands grandma and I took the kids to see the Budweiser Clydesdale's.
But I still feel like I'm failing at my first week of being More Martha Like.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Plan Works

I ended up accomplishing everything on my list plus a few extras!

I served dinner on the deck, which I'm sure Martha would call 'dining alfresco' or even 'open air dining'. Which was a delightful meal of fried green tomato's, boxed mac and cheese, fresh corn and watermelon. YUM! The kids loved it and I didn't have to look at the dining room. I even baked a large batch of cinnamon rolls. Cooking More Like Marta is fairly easy. I love to cook and to bake, it's just fitting it into my day that's usually a problem.

I've also made a list for tomorrow. Not quite a schedule, but a step up from a plan...

Day 2 and doing better

I still don't have a schedule, but I do have a plan for the day.

What's the difference between a schedule and a plan you ask?
A plan is the small list I have in my head, ie: change the kitty litter, vacuum, feed Tuckers cats and water the outside plants, do laundry, wash dishes, have a play date and pick up Anna for a sleep over.
A schedule would be everything in writing with a tidy little check mark next to it as I go. I would probably add things like, thaw meat for dinner and pick lettuce and it even might have something about the kitchen floor on it - but who wants to wash a kitchen floor on such a nice day? I would certainly add feed rose bushes, if I were more like Martha.
So far I've been sticking to my plan, except for the laundry part. I hate doing laundry because it mean going into my basement. I wonder if Martha has any tips for making laundry more enjoyable? I'll check into that and let you know.