Archive for October, 2013


I had the great pleasure of spending Halloween with my 3 year old goddaughter today. We had a grand time! Here was our day on Instagram:

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We started in the morning at Yellow Dog Bread Company. I ordered her a pumpkin hand pie and myself a chocolate croissant. She ended up eating the chocolate out of my croissant and I had the rest of everything.

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Our next stop was the NC Museum of Natural Sciences because I had heard they would have some Halloween activities going on. We didn’t see anything, but we did have fun with the dinosaurs. We also caught an Animals at Night program where we got to see a hedgehog, a black rat snake, a salamander, and a hissing cockroach (which she touched!).

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On our way back to the car we noticed that a few of the trees around the parking lot had amazing leaves, so we gathered a few. This is probably the best year for leaf color that I have seen in Raleigh in the 15 years I have been here.

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While she napped I decorated the front of the house for the night’s trick-or-treaters. The pumpkins were from a carving party we held over the weekend, and the ghost is a tablecloth hanging on a bird feeder.

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It is pumpkin week in our little home preschool, so today we carved a jack o’lantern and turned my roasted pumpkins into pie. (I used this recipe and it turned out great!)

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At night she joined the rest of the kids in my neighborhood for their annual hayride. The kids get on the trailer, ride for a bit, then get off and trick-or-treat around the neighborhood. It is a great way to make sure that the kids get to all of the houses in our little lake neighborhood without the small ones getting too tired.

After a little while her mom came to get her and I sent her off to her next adventure. Halloween with a 3 year old is fun!


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I think it is safe to say that there are more leftover cooked vegetables in my refrigerator right now than there have ever been before. Each recipe in the book serves 4-6 and we are only two. It might take me a lot longer to get through this cookbook than I thought, but that’s ok with me. I’m not going anywhere.

Friday night’s dinner was a variation on the Mixed Vegetables Italienne (just a pile of cooked veggies) called Vegetables Italienne with Poached Eggs: in a large pan cook stewed tomatoes, chopped zucchini, chopped green pepper, frozen peas, frozen corn, sliced carrots, diced potatoes, and diced onions. Season with salt, pepper and oregano (I used basil). The recipe called for a boullion cube, but I didn’t have one so I left it out. When the veggies cook down and get lovely crack 4 eggs into wells and cook till done. We both really enjoyed this meal, but there are a whole lot of leftovers.

Then tonight, because my brain couldn’t deal with leftover veggies, we had nachos instead.


Back to the book tomorrow!

10 down, 656 to go.
(more about the Cooking the Book project)

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There were many skeptics about tonight’s dinner. The Pea-Shrimp Salad was by no means a guaranteed hit. I paired it with the Potato Chowder so we could be sure to have a good, warm starter in our bellies just in case the cold shrimp salad was a flop. Turns out I needn’t have worried.

Potato Chowder: cook chopped onion, celery, and carrot in butter until soft. Add diced potatoes then milk and water and bring to a boil. Season with salt, pepper, and parsley flakes (I was out).

Pea-Shrimp Salad: Cook shrimp, then cool and chop. Cook peas, then cool. Boil eggs, then cool and dice. Make a dressing with sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, dill (fresh would be best), pickle relish, green onion (I was out), and diced celery. Mix everything together. Serve in lettuce cups.

9 down, 657 to go.
(more about the Cooking the Book project)

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Some Birds

Today I had the opportunity to get outside with my camera. It was challenging for me to take photos of birds this summer because there were so many leaves and I couldn’t focus on any of them! Now that the leaves are falling I feel like I have more opportunities to both observe and photograph birds. It doesn’t hurt that it is prime migration season, either.


A pair of Double Crested Cormorants seems to have taken up permanent residency at my lake. I see this male frequently, but the female is a bit more rare of a sight. I hope she’s nesting. I’d love to see some cormorant babies in the spring.


This migrating warbler landed on a branch right above me and I managed to snap this fun photo of his yellow belly.


Many thanks to this Carolina Wren for doing such a thorough job cleaning out my hammock! He didn’t even care that both I and my cat were outside watching him.


This isn’t a great photo, but I was astonished to watch this Flicker stash an acorn in a pine tree. I wonder if he’ll come back for it, or if a squirrel will find it first.

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One of my favorite features of the cookbook is that every recipe in the Vegetable Main Dishes chapter has meat in it. Though this is a vegetable cookbook it is far from vegetarian. It also celebrates the contributions made by processed food, which is very different from how we usually eat at home.

Simple Cheese Sauce: heat a can of condensed cream of celery soup with some shredded cheddar cheese and milk until melted. Add paprika. We served it over simple steamed vegetables. Not amazingly delicious, but not bad either.

Lentils and Sausage: combine lentils, sliced onion, carrots, swiss chard, and some water. Boil, then simmer. Season with salt and a bay leaf. (This can be made ahead.) When almost soft add smoked sausage (I used kielbasa) and simmer until done. The book suggests slicing the sausage and placing it in rows on top of the lentils for serving, so we did. This was pretty good even though neither of us particularly like lentils.

7 down, 659 to go.
(more about the Cooking the Book project)

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Cooking: Parmesan Cauliflower


It was a beautiful fall day at the lake. Our leaves don’t get quite as spectacularly colorful as they would in colder climates, but there is some pretty color out there nonetheless. I took a few minutes before church this morning to enjoy the sunrise and take some photos.

This evening I made a recipe from the cookbook to bring to a book discussion group. We talked about the Brothers Karamazov and ate a dinner that included my parmesan cauliflower.


Parmesan cauliflower: boil a head of cauliflower florets (I used frozen) in some salted water then drain. Toss with browned butter. Cover with toasted breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, then sprinkle on some paprika.

This recipe got rave reviews even from people who don’t usually prefer cauliflower. I enjoyed it, too.

5 down, 661 to go.
(more about the Cooking the Book project)

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Today I was going to heat up a couple of cans of baked beans to take to a neighborhood potluck when, on a whim, I checked the book to see if it had any baked beans recipes. It did not disappoint. The concept of doctoring a can of ready-made baked beans isn’t new to me, but it doesn’t come naturally either. However, the editors of Farm Journal reassured me that this is a perfectly normal thing:

Although most country cupboards hold a few cans of dried beans, baked, you almost never eat baked beans that taste alike even in the same neighborhood. That’s because most women open the cans and add their own special touches.

And now I am one of those women. I even changed the recipe up a bit to fit ingredients I already had.

Pork and Beans Quickie: cook minced onion in some bacon drippings, add to two cans of baked beans. Stir in some ketchup (I also added hot sauce), corn syrup (I used maple syrup), and dry mustard. Cook 30 minutes until bubbly.

4 down, 662 to go.
(more about the Cooking the Book project)

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