Thursday, August 11, 2011

As I sit in air conditioned comfort eating an organic salad while my children watch cartoons on Netflix

While I love potstickers, I'm not sure that I want them to be my legacy.

Hello, invisible friends. It has been many months since I have shown my face around these parts. My apologies. Not sure if or when I will ever get back to this. Life keeps getting n the way.

I just read this post of Missy's over at It's Almost Naptime and decided that I would much rather have this be something left on my wall than the potstickers. Not that the potstickers aren't great. They are. Go make some at your earliest convenience. But if God places these people on your heart, go visit this website and make a donation.

Take it away, Missy:




Many of you may not be aware because it has gotten little press over here, but Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya are currently experiencing the worst drought and famine in decades - yes, even worse than Feed-the-world-let-them-know-it's-Christmas-time time.

A couple of weeks ago I read this article, and the images have haunted my motherheart ever since:

There are harrowing stories of people who have made the journey to Dadaab [a refugee camp in northern Kenya]. Some are raped and robbed along the way, others are chased by hyenas. One woman had six children, all of them too frail to walk. She was determined to get them to the camp, so she carried them two at a time, shuttling back and forth for the others she had left behind.


Another couple walked for 22 days with their sick baby daughter – no sooner had they arrived at the camp than the child died.

Africa is complicated. Foreign aid is complicated. But if I were feeding my children mud I wouldn't give a care about political theories.

Several adoptive families have banded together to help. Please visit their website and please donate to one of the organizations they have links to.

Adoptive Families for Famine Relief

Note: You are welcome and encouraged to copy this post in its entirety on your blog.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chicken Pot Stickers/Dumplings

I may be a little slow, but I always make good on a promise.

Last week I made a big batch of chicken pot stickers. I post the recipe and process here so you may share in their tasty goodness. Enjoy.

Behold the cast of characters. Please note that I later decided to add a carrot and some soy sauce.


There really is sesame oil in that bottle. I'm just a little low. Note to self: get more sesame oil.

That big thing on the right is a napa cabbage. I have used bok choy before. Both work well.


The napa cabbage is very dense. You get a lot of cabbage for your head. For this recipe you will need 4 cups of shredded cabbage.



I actually used a food processor to shred this. You just have to be careful not to pact too much in at a time. It shredded it quite nicely.

Then take the oil of your choice, I used coconut oil, and pour about a tablespoon into a skillet. Add the cabbage and cook it for about 9 minutes.



You made need to add a little water every few minutes to keep it from sticking.

After cooking, spoon the cabbage into a large bowl and allow to cool completely. Add a bunch of minced green onions, 2 tablespoons of minced, peeled ginger root, 1 t salt, 1 t sesame oil, 1 peeled and shredded carrot, and 2 cloves of garlic, crushed.



Mix all the veggies together. When they are combined, add the ground chicken. It's not pretty, but it will be good.



Here comes the fun part. Making the little bundles.

I used most of 2 packages of pot sticker wrappers. This recipe makes 60 dumplings. (FYI, if you are feeling really ambitious you can make your own wrappers. I was not feeling ambitious.)

The wrappers do dry out, so I recommend using a damp cloth under them while you make them and only take out as many as you will be using. Keep the rest in the package until you are ready to fill them.



Get yourself a little cup of water handy. You will need it to seal the edges.

Place about a dab of your mixture on the wrapper in the middle. I used an iced teaspoon. You will have to play with it. Too much and it will ooze out the sides. Too little and, well, what's the point? It should look about like this.


Dip your finger in the water and rub in all the way around the edge of the wrappers. Fold it over and press the edges.


Now, if you like your dumplings crispy, you could stop here. My son would be happy if I deep fried everything. I don't. So let's make some pretty edges. I crimp them sort of like I do a pie crust.


Cute, isn't it?

Now, at this point, I would make a couple and cook them up. Taste them. See if they need anything. I thought mine needed a little salt, so I added a tablespoon of soy sauce. Once it's to your liking, it's time to get busy and make some to freeze.

I usually make them three or four at a time: lay out the dough, drop the goo, seal them up. I place them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Don't let them touch much. Leave them in the freezer just until frozen. Then you can take them out and put them in a freezer bag. Then you can take them out as you are ready to use them. Since they were frozen individually, you can take out 2 or 10 at a time.


When you are ready to cook them, heat a couple of teaspoons of oil in a skillet with a medium heat. Place the pot stickers in the skillet. You will want to keep the skillet covered. Cook for about 3 minutes until the bottoms are lightly browned. Squooch the lid over a bit and pour in about 1/2 cup of water. Cook for another 3 minutes.

And here is your finished product. They don't call them pot stickers for nothing!


Serve them with a little dumpling sauce and enjoy!

Here is a more readable version of the recipe I use:


Chicken Pot Stickers/Dumplings

1 T vegetable oil
4 cups finely chopped napa cabbage
1 bunch green onions, minced
1 carrot, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons minced, peeled ginger root
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspon sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground chicken
60 wonton/pot sticker wrappers

Heat 1 T oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cabbage. Cook for 9 minutes, stirring frequently. While cabbage cooks, you may need to add water 1 T at a time to keep cabbage from sticking. Spoon cabbage into a large bowl and allow to cool completely.

Add next six ingredients to cooled cabbage, green onions through garlic, and mix thoroughly. Add chicken and stir well.

Working with a small number of wrappers on a damp cloth, fill each wrapper with about a teaspoon of mixture. Moisten the edges of the wrapper and fold over. Crimp the tops and press down on the counter to give them a flat bottom.

If freezing: place bundles on cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Freeze. remove from cookie sheet and place in a freezer bag until ready to use.

When ready to cook: Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a skillet. Place desired number of dumplings in skillet. Cover. Cook for 3 minutes. Move the lid over just enough to pour in about 1/2 cup of water and cook for 3 minutes more.


Have fun. Let me know if you give it a try.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pretty

We went to visit my nephew in College Station a couple of weekends ago and look what greeted us.


It was one of the most vibrant rainbows I've ever seen. The funny thing was that we could only see about half of it. We picked him up for dinner and on the way, we saw the other half. But the first half was no longer visible. Go figure.

Whew! It's getting hot around here.


Not only do we have habeneros, but we have jalapenos. Aren't they cute?



My broccoli and cauliflower seem pretty happy. We'll see how that goes. I also planted some cilantro. The tomatoes aren't growing as much as I would like, but I know I got them in late. We'll see what happens.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I'm Still Waiting

Have you seen the new Sun Chips bag? It's supposed to be compostable. When placed in an active compost pile, it is supposed to break down in about 14 weeks.

I bought a bag of them this summer. They were quite tasty. Now, granted, I don't have much of a compost pile. It doesn't get enough sun or water, but it is plenty hot around here. It's mostly a place where I place yard waste and stuff I clean out of the chicken house. I dutifully put my bag out there and covered it up and waited.

That was at least 12 weeks ago. Maybe more.

I dug it up last week and looks what I found.

I don't know if a lot happens in those last 2 weeks, but so far the bag looks pretty much the same as when I buried it.

I left it out there to give it another chance. We'll see.

Anybody else have an experience with these bags?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 17

---1---

Happy October, y'all. Can anyone tell me what happened to the rest of September? It was just here a minute ago.

---2---

I was on a bit of a roll there with posting. I'll try to keep it up. I have several things I need to share with you. I think we will be making potstickers here in a few days. I don't know how authentic they will be, but they will be tasty!

---3---

So today was supposed to be the official end of Bloglines. I've been using Google Reader for a few days and am already happier with it. Why is it that we sometimes have to be forced into making a good change? I wasn't thrilled with Bloglines, but I stayed with them because that's where I started. It was easier than changing. That annoys me about myself.

---4---

I've been sending out mailers for my Christmas business. I'm sure people look at them and think, "What? It's not time for Christmas!" Those decorations don't come ready. Someone has to make them and that someone is me. It would really help me out if you could get those orders in early. Thank you.

---5---

We are in the middle of planning a pirate party for the girl's 10th birthday party. She is not that into pirates, but she thought it would make a fun party for both boys and girls. She wants a big party at the house. If I have anything to say about it, this will be her last kid-type birthday party. She is a party animal and loves to have everyone over. However, I think after 10 is the time to down-size. I'm going to push for dinner and a movie with friends next year. Maybe a sleep over. We were able to successfully transition the boy by offering bigger gifts with less party. Here's hoping it works for her as well.

---6---

I'm continuing to collect habeneros almost daily. The jalapenos are also getting big. I planted some broccoli, cauliflower, chard, and a couple of tomatoes. I'm really late on the tomatoes. I don't know if they'll do anything or not, but it was worth the try. We'll see how it goes. I have planted them all in the front flower bed. It's where there is the most sun, but I have resisted planting vegetable smack dab in the front of the house. I quit resisting and just did it. We'll see what happens.

---7---

My seven is going to have to be wishing you a good weekend. So....

For more Quick Takes, head over to Conversion Diary.

Have a great weekend.

Hey - can anyone tell me what is up with my date and time? If you will notice, it says I posted this on Tuesday. What's up with that? Everything I can find has the right date on my computer. It also has the time - 10:07 - wrong. Is it Blogger or me?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tasty Turkey Tacos

As promised, today I have a guest blogger posting. (My first!!) Her name is Karen and she is one of my favorite people in the world. Although she is a grown-up lady, I have known her since she was a darling teenager. I tend to think of her as just that age. She has a new food blog she calls Let There Be Food. You should check it out and see what kind of yummies she has over there. But first! Check out the tasty recipe she wants to share with you here. Take it away, Karen!

Greetings viewers of Julie’s blog! Mexican inspired food makes an appearance in my kitchen at least once a week. Because it’s a frequent kitchen flier, it’s important that I give it a healthy twist so I can eat without any of the guilt and all the enjoyment. So today I bring you Tasty Turkey Taco Topping. (Don’t you just love a good alliteration? I know I do.) It’s got all the flavors of Mexican food that I love and I can feel good eating it because it’s made with lean ground turkey and beans. It’s incredibly versatile, in my opinion. The first time I had it was in a taco salad. It’s also delicious as a taco filling, nacho topping, on its own with a side of corn tortillas, or on tostadas. I made turkey tostadas for a friend recently and she gave it two thumbs up, a “mmmm…good!” and a trip back for seconds. I’m certain you could use this as burrito or enchilada filling as well. However you eat it, I hope it’s as tasty for you as it is for me.

Tasty Turkey Taco Topping

Ingredients

1 lb lean ground turkey (I used 93% lean)

1 can ranch style beans

1 can Rotel – diced tomatoes and green chilies (I used medium)

1 cup crushed tomatoes

1 tsp adobo seasoning

1 tsp garlic powder

1 medium jalapeño – diced

Optional: chopped cilantro to taste

Steps

1. Brown ground turkey in a large, deep skillet or wide sauce pan. It won’t look at all like ground beef – don’t let this freak you out.

2. Dice the jalapeño and add to the pan. Let cook for a few minutes.

3. When it is nearly all done, add seasonings to meat and pepper and stir to coat.

4. Drain a bit of liquid off the beans and the Rotel and add both to the pan.

5. Add 1 cup of crushed tomatoes. Keep the rest of the can nearby in case you want to add more tomatoes.

6. Stir it all to combine and bring to a boil.

7. Once it’s come to a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes. It will reduce a bit and get a little thicker.

8. At the very end, toss in your cilantro and stir. Then serve and enjoy!!

Additional good news about this dish is that it’s super fast and super easy, so anyone can make it. It’s also adaptable for your personal flavor choices. My friend said she would like it even spicier than I’d made it. Sometimes I get nervous about heat and take out too much of the seeds and ribs of peppers. You can always find ways to add heat in, but it’s soooo hard to take it out or balance it out. I think adding a variety of peppers would be a fine addition and if you put in any from the bell pepper family, it wouldn’t really impact the heat level too much. If you wanted more heat, you could leave in more seeds or add a second jalapeño or a Serrano. Anaheim peppers are also good for flavor without a huge heat impact. I think they have more of the warm, toasty heat and less of the pass-the-milk-my-mouth-is-on-fire heat. Of course, you could also substitute ground beef or ground chicken as the protein. I think it’s important to stick to a leaner meat, so that you don’t have to drain the fat out between step 2 and 3. Because you are adding other liquids to the mix, it will keep it from being too dry.

For me, there is something about this mixture that I think tastes just great with spinach, so spinach and cheese are my layers of choice whether I'm making soft tacos at work for lunch or tostadas for dinner with friends. It always turns out being a healthy and comforting meal to eat. Let me know how you serve your tasty turkey taco topping! Happy eating!


Nutritional Info – ½ cup of mixture

Calories: 132

Fat: 4 g

Carbs: 10.5 g

Fiber: 3.3 g

Protein: 12.7 g

Vitamin C: 7.4%

Iron: 10%

Snakes Alive!

If you have known me for more than about 10 minutes, you know that I don't have any affection for creepy crawlies. No one even comes to check on the blood-curdling scream a good 2-inch Texas cock roach solicits for me. They know the scream and what brings it on.

But snakes. Man, they send chills down my spine just thinking about them.

You can imagine the scream that came out when I ran across this guy while digging in my yard.


He was curled up in the lariope. He didn't mean any harm. He's actually a good guy to have around a garden.



He is a Texas Brown Snake. Clever name as he is a brown snake found in Texas. He was a little guy. Only about 10 inches long.

By far his best attribute, in my book, is that he eats slugs. Go forth and multiply, my friend.

Monday, September 20, 2010

We Have Turned a Corner

They say there are two seasons in Houston: August and the rest of the year. I don't quite hold to that, but I understand the sentiment. It is generally pretty warm here with August usually unbearably hot. Temperatures in the 90's continue until September. Until.


I think today marks our until. We had a little front blow through today. It brought a little rain. Very little. But it brought with it the coolest most refreshing breeze.


Though still mostly green, the leaves have started to fall off the pecan trees. Fall is here.

We don't get brilliant colors here unless we get a surprise freeze early on. Last year was pretty. We had an unusually cold winter and the trees treated us because of it.

But our usual change of seasons is subtle yet noticeable. I don't mind that really. That's sort of how I like my change. Subtle yet noticeable. I'm not much for big whirlwinds of obnoxious, life-altering change. Sometimes that's how changes come though.

So today I am enjoying the change of seasons. The subtle change. And wondering if there is a bigger one on its way.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It is Well

I'm listening to one of my favorite old hymn remakes. It is by a band called Kutless. Typically, as a band they are a little hard for my taste. I saw them opening for the Newsboys once and my brain about fell out of my head. But my son got one of their cd's and let me listen to it. This song about did me in.

I love love love old hymns. And I love it even more when they are remade for the kids today. I love that our great musical heritage is being preserved. As far as I'm concerned, the revival of these old songs just proves how great they were. The words speak to us even in the craziness of the 21st century.

So today, even though I am sitting in a screaming "play place" as I type, it is well with my soul. I share this with you so that it may be well with you, too.

Oh, and I got my Dr. Pepper. : )

Friday, September 17, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 16

---1---

I'm still not over the whole Dr. Pepper incident. I may have to go get one today.

---2---

I have a fully decorated Christmas wreath hanging in my living room. It has been there for days. I am waiting for my business cards and giant postcard mailers to come in. I am hoping to be wildly busy with Christmas decorations in the next few weeks.

I've been putting together a web site for the business and have been overwrought by the fact that I don't have more pictures of things I have done in the past. I know I took pictures. At least, I thought I did. I've done some really cool things. Some huge things! I can only find shots of the most basic examples of my work. It's been frustrating.

---3---

The habaneros are still coming in, but I have totally dropped the ball on a fall garden. I have a tomato plant a friend gave me 2 weeks ago still sitting on my kitchen window sill. I may go grab a couple of broccoli just for fun, but it's doubtful there will be much to report in the way of produce. I have decided to devote some of the weekend to tending to the yard. I didn't water enough during the dry summer. Some of the plants are a bit crunchy and need some looking after. Oops.

---4---

Stay tuned. I have asked one of my favorite people in the world to do a guest post soon. She has recently started her own food blog. I'm sure she will treat us to something very tasty. Be on the lookout.

---5---

Hubs and I have been playing Scrabble together online. It's about the only way I'm ever going to get him to play Scrabble with me. I love board games. The girl likes them, but only certain ones. The boy goes through phases when he really likes them and then doesn't want to have anything to do with them. I pretty much only get to play them with my BFF or if there is a hurricane.

Anyway, playing online is different than playing at a table. You can try different letter combinations that you would never try if you were using tiles and a board. I have played words that I didn't know were words simply because it is so easy to type and check to see if you might have accidentally made a word. I would like to think it is expanding my vocabulary, but I know better.

---6---

What do you all do to check on all of the blogs you read? I have always used Bloglines. No, it's never been particularly reliable or great, but it's what I started with and I am a creature of habit. I am forced to find something to replace it though. Bloglines is shutting down on October 1st. Any suggestions as to what I should use?

---7---

We have had NetFlix for quite awhile now. It's been great. We recently set it up on the Wii. Now we can watch from their "Watch Instantly" menu right on the TV. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

The kids have been glued to the TV for over a week now. My son is a little more diversified. He likes to watch documentaries on weapons and sea life. But the vast majority of shows they are watching are animated and stupid. I have let it go thinking that it was a novelty and therefor a little exciting, but when the newness wore off they would get back to life as we knew it. I may have to intervene. It is taking too long.

For more Quick Takes, head over to Conversion Diary.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Pain of It All

I had to go to Sam's yesterday. I was cooking for a crowd at church and needed the super economy size of noodles and salad. As I have mentioned time and again, it has been pretty dang hot around these parts. Yesterday was no exception.

I don't drink much soda any more (it used to be an all-consuming habit of mine), but I enjoy a Dr. Pepper now and again, preferably served from a fountain. In fact, Dr. Pepper is the only major brand soda I can even tolerate. Yesterday I was thinking that my suffering in the heat, especially at my advanced age, deserved the treat of a tall, ice cold, fizzy beverage of the Dr. Pepper variety. I had my baby girl with me. Sam's has a heck of deal on a giant slice of pizza and a soda. The girl has no interest in soda and we usually split a piece of pizza, so I could be satisfied for cheap and life would be good. I couldn't have been more wrong.

I got my pizza and giant cup and headed over to the row of fountain drinks and...WHAT!!. Seriously? The only choice with an "out of order" sign on it was the Dr. Pepper. Now, I am fully aware there are worse tragedies in the world, but this seemed almost epic at that moment. I went back to the counter and asked for a refund. The darling girl looked at me like I was out of my mind which I was as my dreams of tall, ice cold, fizzy beverage were dashed on the jagged edges of an "out of order" sign.

After consulting with her superior she told me I would have to go to the service desk or I could have a bottle of water. While any other day of the week I might have chosen that over the Dr. Pepper anyway, yesterday was not that day. I told her I didn't want water. I wanted a DR. PEPPER! She offered me an Icee.

Now I fully realize that is a more than fair trade. An Icee is an upgrade for any normal and reasonably sane person. That wouldn't be me on my best day, but I took it just the same.

So I ate my pizza, enjoyed the company of my baby girl, and sulked as I sipped my Icee. I still haven't gotten over it.