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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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April 06, 2011

Having Some Pleasant Days

Posted Wednesday, April 6
I've done a little cooking for one thing.  Got so wrapped up in Chris being here and getting my new TV and Blu-Ray player all settled in and then being very with it and streaming, streaming, that I've only just come up for air the last few days!

Went grocery shopping and felt the need for something green.  There was some nice looking asparagus so I bought a bunch having no real idea what I'd do with it.  January had one time roasted or grilled some asparagus and I was quite impressed with that so the first night, I roasted some - put it on my foil-lined toaster oven baking sheet, drizzled olive oil over it and rolled the stalks back and forth til they were nicely coated, then sprinkled with some seasoned salt and put them in the toaster oven at 400 degrees.  I think they were only in there 10 minutes at most and came out all sizzling and a little crispy.  Very nice.  And along with that, for my actual entree I made my infamous tomato/egg/bread soup which is a legitimate recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks but any time I tell anyone about it and how wonderful it is, I mostly get a "yuck" response.  I hadn't made it at all this past winter and it was a cold, rainy, nasty night so I decided I'd make me a bowl.  And I don't care what anyone thinks it is delicious!  If anyone adventurous reads this post, you can find the recipe HERE.

I had defrosted some chicken tenders to make chicken tikka masala with my store-bought tikka masala sauce which I love and which Chris brought me FOUR jars of on this visit!!  But getting all carried away with the tomato soup, I shelved that and so last night I cooked up the chicken, put half of it aside for the tikka masala (which I will eat this evening) and used the other half to make spaghetti with some of my asparagus.  I Googled and there were numerous recipes,  some of them making a cream sauce which I didn't really want and others basically just using olive oil, but hardly any which I couldn't quite think would work.  So my first attempt I used a little olive oil, melted some of my truffle butter in it, added some roasted garlic cloves chopped up, stirred that around for a bit and dumped in 8 chopped up asparagus stalks and let that sizzle a little longer.  One recipe I looked at said to put the asparagus in the pasta water about 2 minutes before the pasta was done and I might try that too although I liked the idea of having it cook in something other than just water.  Then I added the chopped up chicken to the pan and when the pasta was done, mixed it all together with some Parmesan cheese and a little fresh olive oil.  Most of the recipes that Google came up with used Penne pasta and I was out of that so I used spaghetti.  Penne pasta would be better or the little fans (farfalle?) would work well too.  It was tasty but needs something to give it some oomph.  I think some chopped up shallots would have really helped, and maybe some lemon?  And I've got to try shredding or slicing thin pieces of the chicken in any recipe like this.  I find the little chunks hard to eat - if you spear them with the fork, you can't get anything else on the fork and if you try to scoop one or two of them up along with some of the pasta, they keep falling off.  So I need to remember that next time.

Here it is with a hunk of delicious River and Rail Bakery's demi-baguette alongside.  Still have a bunch of asparagus left and may just roast some again.  I really did enjoy that.

Updated Saturday, April 9.
And last night I had one more pleasant cooking experience.  I decided I would get a rotisserie chicken cause I want to make some of that curried chicken salad for sandwiches (on some delicious bread from the bakery!)  Wondered what to fix with the leg for dinner and for some reason decided on a mushroom risotto.  So again, I Googled recipes and found a nice from from Tyler Florence although quite lengthy.  Decided to look in my book "The Pleasures of Cooking for One" and there was one there also.  So I took a couple of things from the TF recipe and fiddled with the PCO recipe some and came up with a very tasty and creamy like it's supposed to be risotto.  Had my chicken leg and roasted the rest of my asparagus.  This time since I had used some truffle oil in the risotto, I rolled the stalks in truffle oil and sprinkled some truffle salt on them.  Mm-mmm.  I've posted the recipe for the risotto in my Recipe Collection HERE.

 The rice after being briefly cooked in the oil and then adding a small amount of white wine...

The fresh mushrooms after they released their liquid and it has evaporated...

And a pretty nice little dinner!

I've also been doing some miniature cross stitching for the woman who has asked me to do three quilt block designs.  I finally managed to get the Lone Star one done.  Took me quite a while to design it because I didn't want to have just an eight-pointed star, I wanted all the little "patches" to be diamond shaped like they are in the traditional quilts.  Then, for some reason, stitching it was pretty much a nightmare also until I reached the halfway point.  I seemed to rip out about as much as I stitched!  But I'm quite pleased with the end result and have moved on to a log cabin quilt block which I also had to design.  The designing part is difficult for me - I don't have whatever it takes to have it come easily.  And then once I get the chart made and start stitching, I always run into two or three things that I decide to change cause you really don't know what it's going to look like until you actually get some stitching done.  But I'm liking this block now too and am probably about 3/4 of the way done with it.  So here's what I have done so far:


 The woman selected the colors herself although I added more shades of each color.  And I think they turned out looking pretty nice together.  Hope she does too! :)

I think for the third one, I'm going to give myself a break and just do a nine-patch pattern or at most a flying geese.  Although, of course, being insane, I did spend a good part of this afternoon trying to chart a double wedding ring pattern.  And actually, I got one worked out but, again, I'd need to stitch it to see what it would actually look like.  Circles can be real tricky in cross stitch..

4 comments:

Christopher said...

Congrats on finishing the star... Looks quite good, as I knew it would, having seen it in progress.
More power to you for the asparagus... I like the taste of it ok, it has never been a fav, and woah, those side effects! ;)

Christopher said...

Those mushrooms look A-MA-ZING!

vrmichie said...

I'd say you're mighty darn good at charting!! The star is amazing -- what count fabric is it on to make such fine detail? The meals and descriptions and recipes all look and sound delish. You could try a few red pepper flakes or hot chili oil to give a little more zing. The risotto looks wonderful -- I may have to find the energy to try it but stirring rice has never been big on my list of things to do. Instead, I'm hoping to spend the day working on my raised-bed "lasagna" garden patch. xoxo

Mary Lynne said...

Is a "lasagna" garden patch one that has Italian herbs along with vegetables commonly used in Italian cooking, or one that is planted so that first one thing comes up, then after that's done another thing is coming up, so it's like "layers", i.e., lasagna?

If it DOES include tomatoes, I may need to come see you when they come in! :)

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