Sunday, January 24, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Once upon a time (around Christmas), an American Princess was visiting her in-laws in a far off land....
Great gifts were bestowed upon this lucky princess on Christmas morning, but no gift was quite so appreciated as the Muffin cookbook that was given to her by the Queen (the mum of her handsome and incredibly charming prince...*heavy sigh)
The American Princess and her beloved "Muffin Cookbook"
The muffin cookbook was special for several reasons. Both the American Princess and Prince Charming had endured a full week of being criticized by the Queen for being overweight and certainly on the brink of diabetes. This book would serve as ammo should the subject of their American diets and overeating chance to rear its ugly head again during the remainder of their visit (nevermind the arsenal of mince pies, brandy cream, two Christmas dinners, sausage rolls, pork pies, Christmas pudding, cheese board and tins of quality street chocolates that had been thrust upon them since their arrival)..they both thought muffins were spectacular little treats...and, well, you only have to give the American Princess a cookbook to make her happy.
On the way home...down the M6, across the pond and up the I405...the American Princess came across this little recipe in her Muffin cookbook and decided that she must try it as soon as her very busy schedule allowed it: ANZAC Muffins
You will recall that back in September, I ...er...I mean...the American Princess....baked a batch of ANZAC biscuits for her dear sweet little Jake-a-roo. Check here for that recipe.
ANZAC biscuits are a favorite of Prince Charming too. He had surgery on Friday and has been laid up this week. He is improving- we just need to adjust his attitude a little. I can't think of a better way to do that, than to make him some ANZAC muffins.
Prince Charming tries an ANZAC muffin...he seems slightly improved here.
Of course, no sooner had I sat down with the cookbook to give the recipe a whirl, did I realize that this was not really a cookbook befitting an American Princess at all...alas! the measurements were are in metric! (No doubt an evil ploy by the queen to discourage our full execution of these fattening recipes)
Ah, but once again she has underestimated the American Princess -in-law and the power of the internet! With just a few taps on the keyboard, metric conversion was right at her fingertips! (Pray, let us hope she never does come up to speed in that skill or none of us will live happily ever after on the home cook n blog again)
(*insert evil laugh here).
A disclaimer: I really do love the Queen- she can be quite fun and pleasant to be around most times. Once we set our boundaries (and god knows this must occur every freakin' time we encounter each other....) she is really not so bad. I learned recently that she called me the "american princess" and if it weren't for the fact that I quite liked that title, I might have reason to be insulted by it. There are better ways to deal with these things, surely.
Notes on recipe below:
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
It is the food that brings me great comfort...the food that most reminds me of my childhood and Sunday dinners at my grandparent's home.
My mother tells me that my great grandfather, Alessandro Cesaro, used to make homemade sauce that would simmer for days- it was the best sauce she ever tasted. He would eat his spaghetti with a spoon and a fork. The spoon was used to wrap the long pasta around and around the fork. Alas! I do not remember him or his sauce because I was very young when he died.
My grandmother used to make spaghetti and meatballs every Sunday. We would come together with aunts, uncles and cousins and grab a plate of pasta and a few meatballs, sprinkle it with parmasean cheese. We would grab a slice of garlic bread, a scoop of sweet corn, and tear off a bit of lettuce from a wedge. A little Thousand Island and a Pepsi and we were a happy lot.
Spaghetti was the obvious choice because it is fairly quick- Grandma made hers from scratch, but she didn't do it the same laborious way her father did. She used Heinz tomato paste, as I recall. And her meatballs were always perfect-I really wish I knew her secret. Cost is another obvious reason for the Spaghetti dinners of long ago- whereas my Italian grandmother was all about bringing the family together with food, my Dutch grandfather was all about frugality.
Well, tonight, I think both my grandmother and grandfather would both be shaking thier heads in dismay. Not because I bought and served my husband spaghetti sauce out of a jar....but because I actually paid $9.99 for it.
Article 1: The $9.99 Jar of Marinara....it was 100% natural!
Grandpa would certainly wonder if there was gold laced tomatoes in the mix, and well, grandma would laugh it off with a twinkle in her eye. She would be much more forgiving, and probably pleased to see me taking such good care of my man (she would have really loved Simon and his English accent!)
I loved my grandma...I think everyone who knew her, loved her.
The $9.99 Spaghetti sauce was an impulse buy. I sometimes do extravagant things when I am in the pasta aisle at the grocery store. I am like a cat with catnip. I can't help myself.
Very tomatoey..and good roasted garlic flavor...but I really cannot justify the $9.99 here. I think I can make something as good, if not better.
Husband's response was "it okay", meaning: "It will do. I am hungry and it took you a long time to notice that I was just wasting away over here while waiting for you to stop facebooking and make me some dinner"..I don't think he has tastebuds either-he just likes to eat... but he would have liked my grandmas spaghetti dinners. I guarantee it!
Another important note...Grandma would never have let him wash the dishes...although she would have been very impressed that he does. "And he does dishes too?" I could hear her exclaim, followed by a playful attempt to get him to go sit down.
But grandma would agree with me that it is best that we just don't tell Simon what I paid for that sauce...he is a lot like my grandfather in that regard.
Grandpa and Grandma VanderHouwen, 1946
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Whisk these ingredients together in a large bowl- this is the dressing.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Got in yesterday evening and promptly went to bed. The flight from England was 9.5 hours, and while we were fortunate to be upgraded to more comfortable seats- that is still a long time to be confined on an airplane.
Today we unpacked, did laundry and paid bills. Tomorrow I will spend some time scheming our new years resolution: lose weight.
The biggest challenge will be finding a happy medium between my passion for cooking and my need to get fit. I am going to make a heartfelt attempt to post healthy recipes here, although I am contemplating a once-a-week splurge. One day a week I should be able to eat whatever I want, right?
If there is one thing I know about making positive changes that stick, it is that we must make small changes and not grand sweeping ones. A little more exercise...a little less junk food. My goal is to lose 5lbs per month. I will let you know how that goes.
On the plane home I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about New Years Resolutions. Even though only 18% of people who make resolutions stick to them after 2 years, simply making a resolution improves your chances of success by ten fold. There are many ways to ensure success:
- Make sure that your goal is specific and realistic
- Write it down
- Enlist friends and family to share in your journey, or to simply ask how it is going!
- Predict the roadblocks and setbacks and plan ahead for these.
- Be gentle with yourself - allow yourself to begin again. You don't have to be perfect!
On another note....I made a commitment early this year to donate all money earned by the Home Cook N Blog to charity. We didn't make a killing, but Simon and I matched the $20 earned by my blog last year and donated $40 to the American Lung Association in rememberence of Simon's father who passed away in 2008 from Lung Cancer. Thank you to everyone who used the search engine I had provided on my site and who clicked on the ad boxes!
**the beautiful pen and ink drawing on this post is by UK artist, Mike Budden. Please take a moment to enjoy his site at http://www.mikebudden.co.uk/pen_and_ink_magic_001.htm
I really like his bird prints!